Monday, November 29, 2010

Pasta Bravo

I was looking online for new recipes and came across
this one from The Piggly Wiggly that looked simple and delicious. We don't have a Bravo restaurant here in the West Coast, but they apparently have a dish there called the Pasta Bravo. This recipe only required 6 ingredients and 2 steps. However, if you make the chicken it calls for from scratch, it'll take more than 6 ingredients. I just pounded some chicken flat, seasoned with salt and pepper, then drenched it in flour and fried them. Or you can use ready-made chicken nuggets like she did in her recipe.

I had saved this recipe for a while now, because I haven't found the time to pick up some Alfredo Sauce from the Olive Garden. We had lunch there last week and I finally got to pick some up. The recipe emphasizes to use either homemade Alfredo sauce or buy some from Olive Garden. So that's just what I did. Then I picked up some Tomato & Basil Marinara and a jar of Roasted Red Pepper from Trader Joe's. Finally, I made this dish and it was as easy as 1-2-3. Make this and you'll definitely impress.

8 oz penne pasta (cooked according to package directions)
cooked chicken
1 Tbsp. butter
8 oz mushrooms, sliced
1 pint (2 cups) Alfredo Sauce
1 pint (2 cups) Marinara Sauce
7 ounces roasted red peppers

1) Melt butter in a saucepan and saute mushrooms until cooked. Set aside.

2) In a blender, combine Alfredo sauce, marinara sauce and red peppers. Blend until smooth. Pour in another saucepan and bring to a low boil. Remove from heat.

3) Assemble by placing pasta on the plate, topped with chicken, then mushrooms. Pour sauce on top and add shredded Parmesan cheese for garnish.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving Feast 2010

For the preparation of last year's Thanksgiving feast, I only had one day to prepare. I decided that that was too stressful to prepare a whole Thanksgiving meal by myself. So this year, I decided to take 2 days off from work to prepare. And I'm glad I did. It gave me plenty of time to clean the house, take out all the good china and serving platters, prepare the food so that all I had to do on the day of Thanksgiving was assemble everything together. I made myself an itinerary so that I can make sure I get everything done and not miss anything. I was much more organized this year and I think I executed it very well.

As usual, I made my now infamous Deep Fried Turkey and had the usual sides of Mashed Potatoes, my brother's favorite Scalloped Potatoes, Creamed Corn, and of course, Dressing on the side. This year, however, I decided to make the dressing with Sourdough bread rather than the cornbread that the recipe called for because not everyone liked the sweetness of the cornbread in the dressing. But the sourdough taste, I felt, overpowered the dressing. So next year, I'll use plain french bread. For dessert, I served another Buttermilk Pie and French Silk pie. My mom also brought her famous potato salad and ordered some Spam Musubi to top off the meal.

It was another successful Thanksgiving celebration, with lots to be thankful for again this year. I think my plan of action worked out well this year. I think I may have started a tradition of taking off 2 days from work. It made my preparations so much easier.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Bobby's Hot Crab Dip

As a starter for this year's Thanksgiving dinner, I decided to make this dip. I watched Paula Deen and her son, Bobby, make this on her show on the Food Network. Hubby has a different kind of crab dip that has artichoke and uses imitation crab. What I like about this dip is the use of fresh crab. I omitted a few ingredients that made this dip too spicy, because I also wanted my daughter to have a chance to eat it as well. It came out quite tasty and creamy.

8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
3 green onions, chopped
juice of 1 lime
1 lb. lump crab meat

1) Preheat oven to 350 deg F. Grease a casserole dish and set aside.

2) Using a mixer, combine cream cheese, mayonnaise, pepper jack cheese, tomatoes, green onions and lime juice. Carefully fold in crab meat. Bake for 30 minutes, until hot and bubbly. Serve with tortilla chips, pita chips, toasted baguette.

Buttermilk Pie

French Silk Pie

Every year, my brother would always buy his all-time favorite pie, French Silk pie, from Baker's Square for Thanksgiving dinner. Unfortunately, all the Baker's Square branches closed down here in Southern California. He was kind of bummed out about that. The other day, I came to learn that my friend Kiran was also addicted to the pie and so she did a search for the recipe to try to make it for their Thanksgiving dinner. I had this French Silk Pie recipe saved up from Beantown Baker and it gave me the idea to make it for my brother for Thanksgiving this year.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

K's Punch

Aaaaah, Refreshing!

This is actually my friend, Kiran's, recipe that she had made up. How ingenious! I first had this refreshing beverage at her son's birthday party a few months ago. It was a perfect beverage to quench my thirst on that hot day. These aren't exact measurements. She just told me throw in a few ingredients together to my taste. So my measurements below reflect an average-sized pitcher to my taste. Of course, you can add more or use less of an ingredient to your liking as well. The recipe calls for a Berry Sangria, which can be bought at Olive Garden. Its a very concentrated liquid, so Kiran told me to put only a little of it in the drink.

I wanted to make this beverage for our Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow, so today was a trial run. And it came out quite tasty. Hubby really liked it. Another thing to note was that this drink didn't have a name. So I'm calling it "K's punch" - K for Kiran :) Thanks, dear friend.

3 Tbsp. Berry Sangria
3/4 cup pineapple juice
3/4 cup orange juice
Juice of 1 lime (or lemon)
lemon lime soda
ice cubes
slices of oranges, limes or lemons for garnish

1) Combine juices together in a pitcher. Fill the pitcher with lemon lime soda. Add ice cubes and slices of oranges, limes/lemons for garnish.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Turkey Stock

We had our office Thanksgiving luncheon today. And I guess tradition (its only been the 2nd time) is for me to deep fry a turkey for the office. Like last year, my boss bought the turkey, and I went to my dad's (which is only 10 minutes away from the office) to deep fry it.

Last year, one of the staff took home the leftover bones from the turkey. She told me she would make soup out of it. What an awesome idea. So when we had Thanksgiving at home, I used the turkey bones to make my own batch of Turkey stock. This year, I took the turkey bones from the office to make some stock again. It freezes well for later use in soups and other dishes that require broth. Its a great way to use up all the turkey bones from your Thanksgiving dinner. And it smells so good!

1 Turkey carcass
3 sprigs of parsley (I didn't have any, so this was omitted)
2 medium onions, quartered
3 ribs celery, cut up
2 carrots, cut up
1 bay leaf
2 tsp. dry thyme leaves
2 tsp. salt
a dash of black pepper

1) Break up carcass and place in a large stockpot. Add remaining ingredients and fill with enough water to cover all the ingredients in the pot. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 3-4 hours. Cool slightly. Strain broth into a bowl. Refrigerate then remove fat from the top of the broth.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Pumpkin Soup II

Its a chilly autumn evening and I'm feeling like I want something to warm me up inside. Last week I had roasted a few of the pumpkins we bought for Halloween for later use. Tonight is the perfect time to use some of the pumpkin puree.

I found this recipe from the Food Network website that I wanted to try out because it looked pretty simple. Although I already had another Pumpkin Soup recipe, I felt it lacked a little umph. Something was missing. So when I tried this new recipe tonight, its just what I was looking for. Maybe its the spices I used in this one that was better. I modified the recipe by adding some brown sugar in it because I like my pumpkin soup to be a little more sweet. It was perfect. I think I'll be sticking with this one more.

2 cups fresh pumpkin puree
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup water
1/4 cup maple syrup (I used pancake syrup)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ginger
1 cup heavy whipping cream
toasted pumpkin seeds for garnish

1) Place pumpkin, broth, water, syrup, brown sugar and spices in a saucepan and mix well. Heat on medium heat until it begins to boil. Remove from heat. Stir in cream until thoroughly incorporated. Serve in bowls, topped with toasted pumpkin seeds. (Note: you can also serve the soup by hollowing out a medium sized pumpkin and placing the soup in the pumpkin)

Monday, November 8, 2010

Easy Taco Pizza

We're going out to dinner tonight to celebrate my mom's birthday. Unfortunately, hubby will not be joining us because he has classes. An exam, too, for that matter. But I still have to cook something for him to bring for lunch tomorrow. This recipe popped up on the Yahoo website that I've been saving to use and I thought today would be a good day to make it. I made this for lunch, before my parents picked me and my daughter up in the afternoon. It tastes just like a taco on a pizza crust. And it was super easy to make. I omitted some of the ingredients it originally called for because I didn't have any (like the olives, but I don't really like olives). But I'll probably add it the next time I make it again. I think hubby will like this one.

prepared pizza dough
3/4 lb. ground beef or ground turkey
1 cup chopped onions
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
1 packet of taco seasoning
1 (2 1/4 oz) can pitted olives
2 cups shredded cheese (I used a Mexican cheese blend)
shredded lettuce
chopped tomatoes
diced avocados

1) Preheat oven to 425 deg F. Grease pizza pans or baking pans. Roll out dough and transfer to pans. Prick dough generously with a fork. Bake for 10-12 minutes.

2) In a large skillet, cook ground meat and onions until meat is browned and onion is tender. Drain off the fat. Stir in tomato sauce, olives (if using), and taco seasoning. Heat through.

3) Spread meat mixture over hot crust. Sprinkle cheese on top. Bake for another 10 minutes, until cheese melts. Serve, topped with tomatoes, lettuce, avocados, and additional shredded cheese. Top with a dollop of sour cream.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Louisiana Chicken Pasta

Another pasta dish I love at the Cheesecake Factory is the Louisiana Chicken Pasta. Creamy, crunchy, and a bit spicy makes a perfect combination. So I was stoked to come across this recipe from a blog I encountered, The Piggly Wiggly. Its a copycat to the Cheesecake Factory recipe and tastes just as awesome. Making this dish required a few steps, but it was pretty easy to make. I had most of the ingredients on hand, so I was really excited to try out this recipe for dinner tonight. I got a thumbs up from hubby, daughter, and you can also add my 2 thumbs up as well.

1 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 small yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 small red bell pepper, chopped
3/4 of a small onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
2 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup chicken broth
4 Tbsp. fresh basil, thinly sliced
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
12 oz package pasta, cooked according to instructions

4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breast
creole seasoning
1 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
4 Tbsp. all purpose flour
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup milk
4 Tbsp. vegetable oil

1) To prepare the sauce: Melt butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add bell peppers and onion and cook for about 4 minutes.

2) Add garlic and crushed red pepper and cook for about 3 minutes.

3) Add cream and chicken stock. Simmer sauce until it slightly thickens, about 5 minutes.

4) Add basil and Parmesan cheese. Stir until thoroughly incorporated. Season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat to low and continue to simmer until sauce is reduced and thickened (approximately the amount of time it takes to cook the chicken)

5) To prepare the chicken: Season chicken with creole seasoning. Pound the chicken until thin.

6) Combine breadcrumbs, flour and Parmesan cheese in a deep dish. Place milk in another deep dish.

7) Dip flattened chicken in bread crumbs, then in the milk, and back in the breadcrumbs.

8) Heat oil in a frying pan to medium-high and cook chicken on each side until golden brown. Drain chicken on a paper towel and keep warm.

9) Add cream sauce to the pasta and toss to coat. Serve on a platter and place chicken on top of the pasta. Top with additional Parmesan cheese if desired.