Saturday, January 30, 2010

Peanut Butter Cookies

Yesterday I found the last peanut butter cookie recipe I will ever try.  From Annie's Eats (adapted from Cook's Illustrated, my absolute favorite go-to cooking folks) I made zero alterations (okay, I didn't have enough butter so I used half butter and half margarine) to this Chewy Peanut Butter Cookie recipe which is nothing short of perfection.  My house is a house of cookie lovers, soft cookies to be exact.  If soft, chewy delicious cookies are your thing, well my friends you must try these (even though they are without the signature criss-cross marks on the top, I have decided that I'm okay with that...)  It was nice to take a break from my quest to perfect the Snickerdoodle long enough to stumble upon these gems. 
Hubby was most proud that in my current condition (both physical and mental) that I was able to successfully bake these cookies...his hopes for me being about to recreate once Baby is living in the outside world are hesitant.  Here's to hoping I can make this magic happen again!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Potatoes au Gratin

Time for a side-dish!

I absolutely love potatoes au gratin (and yes, I believe they are different/better than scalloped potatoes --for starters, so much less accurate chopping involved!) and ever since seeing this recipe on-line I have been dying to try it. Tonight was the night as I was already craving ham and what goes better with ham than cheesy potatoes, seriously.

Potatoes au Gratin
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman
(Serves 8)

4 whole Russet Potatoes, Scrubbed Clean
2 Tablespoons Butter, Softened
1-½ cup Half & Half
½ cups Skim Milk
2 Tablespoons Flour
4 cloves Garlic, Finely Minced
1 teaspoon Salt
Freshly Ground Pepper, to taste
1 cup Sharp Cheddar Cheese, Freshly Grated

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

  2. Smear softened butter all over the bottom of a baking dish.

  3. Slice potatoes, then cut slices into fourths.

  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together cream, milk, flour, minced garlic, salt, and plenty of freshly ground black pepper.

  5. Place 1/3 of the potatoes in the bottom of the baking dish. Pour 1/3 of the cream mixture over the potatoes.

  6. Repeat this two more times, ending with the cream mixture. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.

  7. Remove foil and bake for 20 minutes, or until potatoes are golden brown and really bubbling.

  8. Add grated cheese to the top of the potatoes and bake for 3 to 5 more minutes, until cheese is melted and bubbly.

  9. Allow to stand for a few minutes before serving.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Beef Stew with Mushrooms

I had such high hopes for this recipe. It had so much going for it: beef, mushrooms, noodles, the stamp of The Pioneer Woman.... I was definitely disappointed in the end though (although not as disappointed as Hubby who asked if I would "never make that again".) When tasting the stew as it was simmering away I noticed that it was a bit bland, so I attempted to add a few things to try and boost the flavor (namely Worcestershire Sauce which tends to be my cure-all...) In the end I was moderately satisfied and down-right starving so I gave up. The meal was a bit bland, but that's nothing too far out of my comfort zone; however, it was so bland that Hubby would not touch it after the first few bites (the fact that I made him have peas as his vegetable probably didn't help matters at all!) I'm sure this could be improved upon by a better cook than I, and since I have been forbidden to give this one another shot, perhaps someone else will be able to make this a winner.

Beef Stew with Mushrooms
Serves 8

2 pounds Beef Stew Meat (sirloin Cut Into Cubes)
2 Tablespoons Flour
4 Tablespoons Butter
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 whole Shallots, Minced
3 cloves Garlic, Minced
8 ounces, weight Cremini Or White Button Mushrooms
½ cups Red Wine
½ cans Beef Consomme
Salt And Pepper, to taste
Pasta - Cooked And Drained
2 sprigs Fresh Thyme
2 Tablespoons Flour

Preparation Instructions

Sprinkle flour over meat. Toss to coat.

Melt butter with olive oil in heavy pot. Sear meat over high heat in batches; remove to a plate when brown.

Add shallots and garlic to pan (without cleaning); saute for 2 minutes over medium-low heat. Add mushrooms and cook for 2 minutes. Pour in wine and consomme (and add an extra half can of water at this time as well.) Then add salt and pepper to taste, and stir. Bring to a boil, then add back into the mix the browned meat. Reduce heat to low. Add thyme sprigs to pot.

Cover and simmer for 30 to 45 minutes. After that time, mix 2 tablespoons flour with a little water and pour into the stew. Allow to cook and thicken for ten more minutes. Turn off heat and allow stew to sit for 15 to 20 minutes before serving.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Baked Ziti with a Tex-Mex Twist

So, this next new recipe attempt was taken from the box of my CostCo-sized case of Del Monte diced tomatoes (I think they called it Chili Pasta Bake or something similar). Do not judge me by my ridiculousness. Since I love Tex-Mex and also love pasta of any kind, I thought this would be a great idea. I had just about everything on the list in my pantry/freezer so I thought I would give it a whirl with a few adjustments and I think it turned out pretty decent.

Tex-Mex Baked Ziti
(Serves 6)

10 oz ziti/penne
1 lb. ground beef
1 medium onion
2 Tbsp. chili powder
Cumin (to taste)
1 can of diced tomatoes
1 can of diced green chilies (drained)
1 (8 oz) can of tomato sauce
1 cup of salsa
2 cups of shredded Mexican cheese blend
  1. Brown the ground beef with the onion (I only had about 1/3 c. of frozen chopped onions on hand--my secret lifesaver by the way, shhhhh--and made up the difference with a few tablespoons of dried minced onion).
  2. Boil water and pre-cook pasta, drain.
  3. Add chili powder, cumin (we like our chili smokey, but this was not called for in the original recipe), diced tomatoes, chilies, tomato sauce, and salsa and cook to combine for about 5 minutes.
  4. Mix the pasta and sauce together and pour into a greased casserole dish (or 13x9 baking pan) and cover with cheese.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes or until nice and bubbly.
Super simple and super flavorful. I think this might just be a keeper!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


So this recipe was a hand-me-down from Husband's collection. I've since come into a groove in making it and although it's merely a variation of makes me feel better knowing that it is technically called something else (and thus releases me from feeling guilty in cooking this and spaghetti in the same week...which I have totally done before.)

Atkinson Goulash
(Serves 4-6)

1 lb. ground beef
1 onion, chopped
1 can of condensed tomato soup
1 can of diced tomatoes (I use the Italian seasoned version)
1 can (small) tomato sauce (I use the Italian seasoned version)
6 oz. egg noodles

1. Brown ground beef and onion in a large skillet.

2. Put pot of water onto boil.

3. Add tomato soup, diced tomatoes, and tomato sauce to the meat and reduce heat.

4. Cook egg noodles for 5-6 minutes, drain.

5. Put hot noodles back into pot and pour contents of the skillet on top.

6. Stir to combine and serve.

Yes, it's that's kinda like spaghetti stew...which is okay by me any day =)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Scott's Spaghetti Sauce

In talking with some friends I came to realize that although I tend to cook a lot, I was one of the few who did not make spaghetti sauce from a recipe. I love spaghetti, but am not very picky with my spaghetti and so will use several different types of jarred sauces. When I make lasagna, I make the meat sauce homemade, but never when we just have the quick spaghetti dinner during the week.

Well, one thing led to another and I was able to swipe a recipe from one of my gals. It was quite the hit for dinner tonight and even though we are quite generous with our sauce portions, there were plenty of leftovers to spare! Not sure it will completely overtake the conviennence of the jarred sauce, but it was most definitely a welcome alternative =)

Scott's Spaghetti Sauce
Serves 4-6

1 lb ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
14.5 oz can tomato sauce
1 can condensed tomato soup
1/2 c. ketcup
Italian seasoning, garlic salt, and pepper

  • In a large skillet, brown together ground beef and chopped onion.

  • Add in the remaining ingredients, cover, and lower heat.

  • Simmer for about an hour.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Last Minute Chili Night

Normally my go-to chili is an all-day (and over night) affair, but tonight I just had no time for such things. When the pregnant lady wants chili, the pregnant lady gets chili! I decided to wing it with ingredients I had on-hand and adapt my normal chili recipe for an impromptu chili night. Combined with a salad and grilled cheese this totally made my Tuesday night.

Weeknight Chili

1/2 lb. ground beef
1/3 c. chopped onion (totally cheated and used frozen)
2 tsp. flour
2 1/2 tsp. chili powder
Cumin (to taste)
14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes
14/5 oz can of dark red kidney beans
  • Brown ground beef and onion together and a large sauce pan.
  • Add flour, chili powder, and cumin - stir until absorbed.
  • Add diced tomatoes and can of beans (liquid included).
  • Reduce heat and simmer covered for at least an hour. If you find the mixture too soupy, remove the lid to help thicken.
  • Serve with shredded cheddar cheese 0=)
I think this should probably serve 3, but since we're ridiculous, the two of us ate the whole batch.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Double Mushroom & Marsala Cream Fettuccine

So I found this next recipe while waiting in the allergist office with Hubby over the holidays and wrote it down in my notebook (nerd alert!) to try out later. It's from one of the recent Everyday with Rachael Ray magazines. After reading a few reviews online I decided to make a few changes (namely adding some chicken since a meal without meat would not be considered much of a meal by Hubby) and give it a whirl as my first official 2010 recipe attempt.

Either I did something horribly wrong, or this recipe just wasn't what I expected. The flavor was great, but the consistency was just not correct. The sauce was much more liquid than cream, regardless of how long I attempted to let it thicken up.

Double Mushroom and Marsala Cream Fettuccine
Adapted from Every Day with Rachael Ray


2 cups chicken stock
8 oz. white mushrooms (thinly sliced)
Salt & Pepper
1 lb. Fettuccine pasta
EVOO & butter
1 lb. cremini mushrooms (thinly sliced)
1 tsp. dried sage
1/2 cup marsala wine
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup grated pecorino-romano cheese

  • In a large skillet: heat together combination of EVOO and butter (I used about 3 Tbsp of each).

  • Season chicken cutlets with salt and pepper on both sides and dredge in flour.

  • Fry cutlets in the oil/butter for 2-3 minutes per side (this may take two batches depending on the size of your skillet).

  • Remove and keep warm in oven on cookie sheet lined with foil until the rest of the meal is ready.

  • Boil water and cook fettuccine (probably best to cook while the sauce thickens).

  • In the same large skillet add a little more EVOO, both types of mushrooms, sage, salt and pepper and saute until tender.

  • Add marsala wine to skillet mixture and cook for 1 minute.

  • Add 2 cups of chicken stock.

  • Stir in cream and cook until thickened, about 10 minutes (this was not long enough for me, but use your own judgement here!)

I served mine over a bed of noodles with some chicken on top, ladled sauce over the two and topped with cheese. You could just toss the noodles and sauce together (as suggested in the original recipe) but I wanted to make sure the chicken got some sauce as well...who knows if that was a good decision or a bad one.