Monday, August 31, 2009

Oh Fromage, why can't I quit you!!

The Fromage Fort obsession continues to grow. Last night I whipped up some mashed potatoes (I had 10 lbs of potatoes to use before I leave for Indy to visit Sissy and the new Nephew on Thursday) and breaded some cut up b/s chicken breasts the same way I did in this recipe (Loving the flavor that using the dressing adds to the chicken!) and baked it on a rack at 425 degrees for 20 minutes (smaller pieces = fast cooking). But then, and this is where it gets GOOD, I heated 1/2 cup milk to just simmering and added in two tablespoons of the Fromage Fort mixture and stirred it in, off the heat. It turned into a shimmering, creamy, perfect sauce which I then poured down over the chicken.
Um, YUM. Serious.
Cheese just makes me feel like everything is a-ok, no matter what.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

BBQ and Blue Chicken Sammies with Baked Potato Casserole

Aunt Keri's Kitchen selection is doing double duty this week, as I prep to go out of town and visit my smushy little nephew Vaughn, and my Sissy and BIL, of course. So along with my family-style dishes for my beautiful new honorary niece's fam, I also made individual portions to stick in our fridge for The Hub to reheat while I am away. (Aren't I a nice wife?)

I crock potted a whole chicken (bone in) overnight in a mix of chicken broth and pre-mixed poultry seasoning that covered roughly 1/3 of the chicken, and allowed it to cool before shredding the chicken off the bone and combining it with some cheapy store brand BBQ sauce (enough to coat the shredded chicken thoroughly) and 1 teaspoon of Tabasco for a little extra spice.

While I was shredding the chicken, I was boiling some diced potatoes (about 2 lbs) until tender in a pot of well-salted water. I drained the potatoes and added 1/2 cup of milk and half a stick of butter (I just finished reading Julie and Julia, so I am pretty heavy-handed with butter lately).
Now some folks are dead-set against whipped potatoes, but I like my "mashed" potatoes smooth and fluffy - besides, baking them in the casserole stiffens them up a bit, so it all evens out here. I used my trusty hand mixer (no Cuisinart devotee here, sorry!) to whip the potatoes to a light and fluffy consistency.

I filled a disposable/reusable baking dish with about 2/3 of the potatoes (reserving the rest for use at home) and mixed in to the dish 1 and 1/2 cups broccoli florets chopped very small. Over the top I spread 3/4 cup cheddar cheese. The whole thing gets baked in a 325 degree oven for 20 minutes or so when they are ready to eat it.

For The Hub's version, I substituted the broccoli for turkey bacon pieces and put it in a ramekin for easy heating.

I also packed some of the chicken into a container for him to eat, as he is not a fan of BBQ sammies, so he will eat it as is.
For the fabulous growing fam, I packed the chicken, potato casserole, and buns, along with a spread I made by mixing blue cheese with some olive oil mayo to spread on the sammies (YUM!).

They got a plate of the brownies I made yesterday, and voila, two birds with one stone for Ker.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Somebody's Bakin' Brownies!

The urge (if not the talent) to bake seems to have a hold on me still, and so today it was this recipe from for Easy Method Brownies.

Um, meh.
Clearly a tablespoon of extra flour would have helped for high altitude in this case, and to be honest there was so little batter it barely covered the bottom of my square baking dish. Brownies don't exactly puff in the oven, so though they were indeed very chewy and chocolaty and tasty, there just wasn't enough to them to even hold a nice shape..

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Uh oh -Grown Up liquid cheese..

So while at Tony's Market last Friday night grabbing some cheese plate ingredients, I discovered a magical substance located next to the pre-made Krab spread and Artichoke dips...
Their version of Fromage Fort is freaking amazing. (Eh? What's Fort Cheese? what are you saying, lady? Click here for the 411) Granted, I have only had the one container, and if they are truly in keeping with the spirit of the substance, then it might not be the same each time (based on the cheese used) but something tells me it would always be amazing!!
Anyway, since The Hub was OOT, I grabbed a nice piece of Tilapia from Sunflower Market on the way home, seasoned it with black pepper and baked it at 350 for between 15 and 20 minutes, removing it a couple minutes before it was done to spread a little Fromage Fort on it.
HOLY MOLY IT WAS GOOD!! The cheese gets the PERFECT consistency in the oven (I have GOT to try making this stuff) and it was a bit salty, so no further seasoning was needed. I put it on a bed of fresh spinach that wilted slightly from the heat of the fish and ate it with some roasted potatoes (with onions, since The Hub wasn't home) and a chopped up tomato.
So. Good.
I can see Fromage Fort becoming a passion... the concept is so simple, the outcome so delicious. (Besides, "Fromage Fort" is such a nice way to say something as plain as melted leftover cheese)

BTW - On the menu for this evening - simple and delicious potato magic. (I can always honor Julia, even if I really am a little more "Fanny Farmer" in truth.)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


When I was making my Aunt Keri's Kitchen creation this week (Italian beef stew) I did have the fore site to double the batch of the basic stew so that I could split it and save half for us to microwave for dinner when the kitchen was out of commission this week... Clear off a tiny sliver of table (the microwave is literally just outside the frame of the pic on the left, in the living room!) and add a loaf of fresh crusty bread, and it was actually a really great meal...

To make the Italian Beef Stew for my favorite newly expanded little family, I took my basic stew recipe, added 2 teaspoons of freeze-dried basil, a can of well drained San Marino Tomatoes, 1/4 teaspoon of minced garlic, and a roughly chopped small onion. I simmered the stew with the additional ingredients for 30 minutes before allowing it to cool and packing it into an oven-safe disposable container for easy reheating. They got a loaf of crusty roasted garlic bread to mop up the extra yummy gravy too.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Take a picture, I baked!!

Ok, so I took the pictures - but I did bake, which I really never do.. (ok, it isn't exactly a tiered cake or anything, but still.)

Normally I am not much of a baker, since it requires precise measuring and I am more of a "pinch of this, dollop of that" kind of cook. But my Daddy came down to help us in the prep for the demo of our kitchen counters on Sunday, and I wanted to do something he would really enjoy. (BTW, cooking = NO in my kitch this week, it seems.. our hardwired stove has been pulled out and disconnected, as has our sink and faucet, but I did do some prep, so we shall see,)

He LOVES Cobbler, so I decided that a crumble topping BARELY qualifies as baking anyway (and I will try almost anything if it was for my father anyway.)
Besides, I needed a sweet something for my Aunt Keri's Kitchen delivery, and I just recently bought some ramekins I was dying to use for something too!

I cut up a peach and a plum that I had left over from sangria making, and added some canned pineapple and some canned pears that I had mixed together to take for lunch last week. I stirred in two teaspoons of sugar and divided the fruit between 1 square casserole dish and two oversized ramekins. Then I doubled this recipe for crumble topping:

3/4 Cup Brown Sugar

1/2 Cup Flour

1 1/2 Teaspoon Cinnamon

1/4 Cup Butter (cold and diced into small cubes)

I mixed the double batch of topping using my hands, breaking the butter into tiny little balls as it mixed with the dry ingredients - you want this topping to be rough and dry, with little bits of butter encased in the dry ingredients.

Then I spread a generous amount of the topping on each of the containers, and baked them all in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes, turning each half way through the cooking time,

I cooled the two ramekins thoroughly before covering them, and reheated the large container in the afternoon (in the microwave for a minute, uncovered, since my stove was disconnected) before portioning a nice slab into bowls and topping with a scoop of ice cream (which I also sent with the Aunt Keri's Kitchen offering this week - gotta have ice cream with a crumble!!)
The family style dish is pictured at the top, here is one of the single-serve ramekins:
It was good, good, good - and my Daddy seemed very happy with it, so I call it a success!

Look at me, all "Bakey Bakerson" suddenly.. ;)

Friday, August 14, 2009

Lazy Chef's Stuffed Chicken

I wanted stuffed chicken breasts this week.. sort of my version of Chicken Cordon Blu. But the LAST thing I wanted to do was butterfly, pound, stuff, roll (very securely to prevent leaks) and babysit stuffed chicken after the week I have been having at work. So I concocted a plan to cheat a bit and still get what I was craving!

To start, I cut two b/s chicken breast portions in half by laying each flat and pressing firmly with my full palm on the top of the chicken, while carefully moving my knife in a horizontal sawing motion until I was all the way through the breast. Then I had two thin fillets of chicken that stacked together perfectly, like this:

I brushed both sides of each fillet with some of this delicious salad dressing for flavor and moisture:
And then I coated each fillet in some seasoned breadcrumbs before placing them on a sprayed cooking rack (letting the air circulate all around the chicken helps crisp them up in the oven.)

I baked the coated fillets in a 450 degree oven for 10 minutes (thin pieces cook nice and fast and crispy in high heat) and then removed them from the oven and added to the bottom fillet of each set 1 slice of ultra lean turkey bacon:

On top of the bacon I broke up one wedge of Laughing Cow Light Swiss Cheese spread each:

Then I placed the other half of each fillet on top of the cheese, and put the chicken back in the oven to melt the cheese and finish browning the tops of the chicken:

The finished product (pictured at the top of post) was SO TASTY!! The filling was yummy, the chicken was juicy with plenty of crunch from the coating, and since I just put the finished product back in the oven long enough to melt the cheese, none of the filling oozed out and was lost during cooking.
I served it with mixed steamed veggies. SO GOOD. Definitely doing this again soon!!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Pasta Ponza, (Picky Hub Style)

So I was fairly enamored with Giada De Laurentiis's recipe for Pasta Ponza on "Giada at Home" last weekend - but it (of course) had a couple of things I would have to omit if I was going to make it for dinner with The Hub. The glaring example of this being (alas!) the beautiful roasted grape tomatoes. I considered roasting some for myself, but ended up going with some roasted baby carrots mixed into the pasta instead.

I also added some sauteed chicken breast which I cut into strips and marinaded in creamy Cesar dressing while I was prepping the rest of the ingredients.
Notice I also used good old Spaghetti, because that was what I had in the house, and it cooks up so nice and quick!! This is a really simple, yummy recipe that can (obviously) be adapted very easily for any family or party. The simple flavors of good cheese and fresh bright parsley really keep this pasta dish light. Perfect for quick summer meals!!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Pork Chop review

The Low Country Pork Chops were very tasty.. The Hub liked them a lot, actually. My only complaint was that I am sure I would like the actual recipe, using the onions, much better. (Silly Hub, onions make things taste GOOD!)
Also, while the slow cooker never fails to produce a good pork chop, I bet that the chops cooked on the stove top according to the recipe will keep their shape better, but you have to expect chops from the slow cooker to fall apart, so I was prepared.

I will ask New Mom what her and the fam thought of the chops I prepared for them follwing the recipe to the letter...

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Low Country Smothered Pork Chops

For Aunt Keri's Kitchen delivery this week, as well as for The Hub and myself tonight, I couldn't resist trying this recipe from Paula's Best Dishes after I watched her and her guest prepare it on the show last weekend. Smothered Pork Chops cooked low and slow until they fell off the bone? Count me in!!

Here are the chops after I had browned them, next to the pot (I used a deeper pot instead of a skillet) with the onions, peppers, and garlic JUST after I added the broth to it:

and here are the chops, all nestled down in the veggie, brothy, smothery goodness:

I let them cook according to the recipe, and packed them up into an oven-ready to-go container for the happy little family, along with some oven roasted potatoes.
For the version we are eating tonight, I browned the chops, green peppers, and garlic (no onion for The Hub) and then added all the ingredients to my slow-cooker (set on low) to see how it does as an "all day" recipe. I will wager it is going to be DELISH.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Stolen Moment - Homesick Texan

Dang, this would have been a great recipe to use.. so similar, yet so different.
Sounds yum, must make it for myself sometime!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Empanada Casserole (ETA: FAIL!)

:::I will never delete an entry if I find it was a failure, but I will amend to keep others from repeating the horror... this cassarole was an EPIC FAIL - it was blecky! -Do not make!:::

Putting the "Aunt" in "Aunt Keri's Kitchen" - Harper Jane made her grand and much anticipated entrance into the world last Wednesday, and her Aunt Keri, much like everyone who has laid eyes on her, was a goner for the girl instantly.. Here she is hanging out in her little seat yesterday when I dropped off the weekly dinner creation:

Speaking of said creation, between a very exciting week of shuttling between the hospital to spend time with Harper's beautiful mommy and proud papa, and dealing with the VERY full Treehouse (IL's were in town due to a death in the family,) I decided it would be the perfect time to pay a visit to the newest location of Tony's Market and take advantage of some of their fun ready-prepped ingredients.
As I suspected, I was ALMOST as enamored with Tony's as I am with Harper.. ALMOST. (BTW, they have happy hour at their little cafe with 2 dollar glasses of house wine!! Puttering around a great market and then relaxing with a glass of wine before heading home? That is my kind of Happy Hour!)
I grabbed some of their amazing pre-made guac (the power of the free sample is strong) along with some chopped squash and onions, and a few mushrooms that all looked so yummy. I also picked up some tortillas (& a bag of fancy chocolate chip cookies for their something sweet)

AND, since everyone knows Keri can't resist the cheese case, I grabbed some Haystack green chili goat cheese, pausing to make sure it was Pasteurized, since I don't really know rules for breastfeeding moms and wasn't taking any chances.

At home I put a layer of the tortillas into a to-go baking dish, and layered in crumbles of the goat cheese, along with some of the squash, onion, and mushrooms. I made a simple sauce for the casserole using a can of tomato paste, some water, minced garlic, and a SLIVER of adobo pepper (a little goes a long way, and I don't want kiddo's next few meals to end up en fuego!). I heated all of that together, and spread 1/3 of the sauce into the first layer, then stacked more tortillas and repeated the process, ending with a layer of tortillas on top, covered in sauce and sprinkled with some cheddar cheese.
It reminded me of the squash empanada recipe we used to make as a special at the old restaurant, so that is what I called it.

Similar heating directions to the dishes I have been sending their way lately, heat the oven to 325 degrees, remove plastic lid and cover with foil, place on oven on cookie sheet and heat for 30 minutes or until it is hot and bubbly and the veggies are the desired tenderness. Most of the things I have been sending have been pretty tough to over-cook, but wouldn't be bad if just heated through either.
I included the rest of the squash mixture, a tomato and a bag of salad to serve along side, and the afore-mentioned guac for spooning on top of the casserole. it smelled pretty darn good, I really hope it tastes as yummy!
I am eyeing Paula Deen's Low Country smothered pork chops for next week's delivery - they look CRAZY good!!