Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Stolen Moment, Boozy pineapple!

From the Vintage Kitten, I give you the Pineapple Margarita.. Sounds like a genius idea to me!!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Crowd Pleasing Casserole!

So last night I tried out a casserole recipe I was considering for the next Aunt Keri's Kitchen delivery. It is called "Sicilian Casserole" in the busy cooks section of About.com. and I admit, I had my doubts. It is one of those things that could either be REALLY to-die-for delicious, or TOTALLY beyond disgusting, but nothing in between.
The reviews on it were really good, so I decided it was worth experimenting on The Hub (lucky him, eh?)

It is freaking amazing!!

Here is the recipe

I used ground turkey instead of ground beef. Also, since we all know that The Hub doesn't like onion, I obviously omitted that, and in place of a premixed Italian seasoning, I added a tablespoon of freeze-dried Basil and 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic (the kind from a jar). I am also not a huge fan of sour cream in things like this, (sometimes it is TOO tangy,) so I used half of the amount called for.
Other than that, I followed the recipe to the letter, and may I say it is not only VERY tasty, but it could really feed a crowd - it is a very hearty, dense, flavorful casserole. I expected it to be really runny, but the bottom layer set up nicely, and it cut and held its shape perfectly! It would be a total hit with kiddos, I'd wager.
So easy and so good - a great new twist on the old "baked pasta" standby!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Aunt Keri's Kitchen, Cinnci Chili and Chicken Provencal

Look at my cute instruction sheets.. See the fabulous Chef Potter cartoon that my lovely friend Laura drew? So talented!! (And Potter is the most faithful and patient sous chef I have ever worked with.)

It is due date week for my beautiful friend, so I decided to make something special for Bean's Daddy-to-be in case he needed meals to take to the hospital. Being a good Mid-western boy, he LOVES Skyline chili. I know that there are a million knock-off recipes, and I also know that most agree none of them really hit the nail on the head.
However, I figured that even if it wasn't exactly like his beloved Skyline, it would still be a yummy treat. I used this recipe, and followed the suggestion NOT to brown the meat made by someone who made the recipe before. (From what I have read, browning the beef is a total deal-breaker in terms of flavor and texture for this dish!) I was pleasantly surprised at how it came out.. granted, I feel like the cinnamon was too strong, but from what I understand it is the cinnamon and chocolate that separate the flavor of Skyline from other Cincinnati Chili's.. I made a half recipe, and separated it into 3 single-serve containers, each with some cooked spaghetti in the bottom, and then bagged up some shredded cheddar and diced onions for him to sprinkle on top. (and I saved a bit for me, which I had on a baked potato last night since The Hub had to fly off to Dallas for a quick trip due to his NEW JOB- amen! The potato with the chili, cheese, and onions was delish!)

For their heat-or-freeze selection, I made my take on Chicken Provencal. Most recipes have a tomato product base, and The Hub isn't a huge tomato fan, so I tend to skip it. I wanted to make something that had tons of veggies already in it, so Mom-to-be didn't have to mess with adding a salad or anything to up the nutrition factor.
I sauteed three chicken breasts cut in half to get a nice color on all of them and seal in the juices, then I pulled them out of the pan and deglazed with some chicken broth, and added a teaspoon of Herbs de Provence to the pan. I thickened with a bit of trusty cornstarch slurry, and then added the chicken back to poach a bit in the gravy. When the chicken was almost done, I poured the chicken and gravy into a square casserole container filled with broccoli florets, carrot pieces, fresh green beans, celery, and fresh peas. I made a container of garlic/herb mashed potatoes, and the heating instructions are to cover with foil and heat at 325 for 30-40 minutes or until things are hot and the veggies are as tender as she likes.. that way the chicken will be done but still tender and juicy, and then she can pile some potatoes on a plate, and nestle the chicken and veggie mix and gravy down into the potatoes..

For their sweet treat I made some baking mix apple cinnamon muffins (I should have taken a picture to show you why Keri does NOT bake.. sad) and grabbed a pint of vanilla ice cream for them to serve over the warm muffins.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Shrimp and 'Taters

Ok Ok, so a few green veggies wouldn't have hurt us, but I was craving protein and startch so I went with some frozen shrimp The Hub's great uncle gave us (I will have to look at the brand, these were possibly the best shrimp I have EVER had.. and they were huge too!) and a giant mound of roasted potatoes (chopped, sprayed with olive oil, sprinkled with S&P and Garlic Powder, cooked in foil at 425 for 45 minutes to 1 hour)...
Admittedly, the whole shebang got a big pat of butter on each plate..
It was heaven...

Monday, July 13, 2009

Welcome to Aunt Keri's Kitchen!

My beautiful friend T is thiscloseIswear to giving birth and we all couldn't be more excited... As part of her shower gift, I am preparing one dinner a week to deliver to her on Sundays. I am aiming for it to always be something she can choose to make that week out of the fridge, or freeze (at least the main dish) for later use. This was my first delivery week, so I decided to make something foolproof for her and daddy-to-be.

I made a variation on a recipe I found in a Light Cooking cook book many years ago for Spinach Chicken Lasagna Rolls that always comes out perfectly and is a total crowd pleaser.

For the happy parents-in-waiting, I made it broccoli and chicken instead. I roasted some bone-in chicken (1 breast, 1 leg and thigh quarter) in the oven at 425 for 1 hour and let it cool so I could de-bone and shred it.

Then I mixed that with 1 container of pasteurised (I read up on all the dos and don'ts for expectant mothers, of course) ricotta cheese,1 cup mozzarella, and 1 and 1/2 cups of broccoli florets, chopped very small. Then, after cooking lasagna noodles according to the package directions and draining, I spread the mixture on to each of 8 noodles, and then rolled each noodle up and placed into a disposable/reusable baking pan seam side down. (Except for two rolls, which got placed into a small container in case dad needs a "hospital dinner" if their little Bean decides it is showtime!

Each roll got 2 tablespoons of Ragu Light Parmesan sauce (I cheated, shhh), a sprinkle of mozzarella, and a tiny broccoli garnish. I LOVE these things- it is like stuffed shells without having to do the "stuffing"!

Into the bag with the pasta rolls went a prefab Caesar salad kit, a crusty loaf of bread, and a bar of good chocolate for T.

Heating instructions also went in and are: cook at 325 for 1 hour, removing foil for last 10 minutes for crunchy top if desired.

Bonus for us, I had leftover filling and lasagna noodles, so I have a dinner ready to go for us one night this week as well!!

Aunt Keri's Kitchen is open for business, and I can't wait to come up with all kinds of yummy, healthy and easy to store/heat/serve creations for this wonderful family we have been lucky enough to have in our life (and I can't wait to meet The Bean!)

Monday, July 6, 2009

BIL loves his pork loin..

Do with that information whatever you will.. The point is, while the ILs were in town for the 4th, I wanted to be a good Sis-in-law and cook him his favorite meal since he was staying with us.
Trouble is, it is COMICALLY easy to dry out a pork loin by following the instructions on the little vacuum sealed packages they come in.. And I had no clue if he liked any of the pre-marinated ones or not, so I just got two plain loins (to feed 9 people) and searched for a good marinade recipe..
Nothing was EXACTLY what I wanted, to so I just kind of winged it... I mixed 3 tablespoons of brown sugar with 2 tablespoons of low-sodium soy sauce, then added 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, 2 teaspoons of ground coriander, 1/2 teaspoon of minced garlic, and 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper - I stirred all of this into a thin paste and rubbed it on all sides of both the loins (heh heh heh -"loins" - Bevis and Butthead moment) and let them sit out of the fridge coming up to room temp for about half an hour with the rub on them.

Then (and this is the step that alot of packages don't include that makes all the dif, I bet) I browned each of them on all sides just to seal everything in, and finished in a foil-lined, covered roasting pan at 375 degrees for about 25 minutes (letting sit sealed up out of the oven for about 5 minutes just to let the juices settle back into the meat.

I also made an absolute MOUNTAIN of oven roasted potatoes (my mom, MIL, and BIL's GF ALL asked how I made the potatoes like it was some new-fangled thing... I swear my mom used to do that when we were young, but she acted like she never had.. Selective cooking memory!)

MIL brought a "coke salad," which I believe my Great Aunt Helen used to make, but it seemed to involve walnuts IN jello, so I didn't really care for it; and her homemade mac and cheese (The Hub's fave) which seems to have improved a bit, actually... it seemed more saucey than I remember... and of course I bought BIL some cranberries in sauce to put on his pork (his fave). My mommy brought a giant veggie tray (to rescue us from all those carbs!) and we all ate ourselves silly.

The pork turned out perfect, if I may toot my own horn (did some one say "toot"? Sorry, I have the mind of a 7 year old boy today) - It was juicy and the rub made it flavorful and it was a nice switch from more typical 4th of July meals.

Maybe the pork loin is no longer banned from my Kitch after that experience. (After all, I do like to rub a good loin).

tee hee hee

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Lazy solo meal

I had big plans for dinner last night. The Hub had tootled up to the Mts with his fam, leaving me with a little alone time that I had planned to make the most of. Homemade grilled pizza with big chunky tomatoes and olive oil was the original plan. The fall back being tasty sushi or some other takeout that is not really The Hub approved. Then I took the doggie for a giant walk and it was pretty warm and we were pooped when we got back.
And all those plans got chucked for a plate of raspberries, blueberries, and really good blue cheese with crackers, and a super icy glass of slightly fizzy vhino verde (my new summer fave) on the patio.

Sometimes it is nice when you are alone to just keep it simple so you can sit back and enjoy the yummy flavors, no prep, no clean up, no complications - just dinner.

(and maybe room for a bit of ice cream out of the freezer a little later in the evening too - yum)