Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Cheesy Zucchini Rice

     I saw this recipe on a different blog and I thought to myself, "I can make that better." And so I did.

     If you're wondering what Cheesy Zucchini Rice is, you might not be that quick on the uptake. It's exactly what it sounds like and best of all you can customize this dish to your preference! Originally, this recipe had "shredded zucchini in it, but I prefer a crunch to my vegetables. So this time, we're going to get out the peeler and do our very best to peel a zucchini or two. And it just so happens that I GREW a HUGE zucchini in my very own garden this Summer, BAM!

You will need:
  • 1 medium OR 2 small zucchini(s), peeled approximately 2 cups
  • 1 cup rice
  • 2 cups chicken broth OR 2 cups water and 2 chicken bouillon cubes
  • 1 cup sharp Cheddar cheese, OR go FANCY and use 1/3 cup Mozzarella, 1/3 cup Parmesan, and 1/3 cup Gruyere
  • 1/2 TSP garlic powder
  • salt and pepper to your liking
  • 1-2 TBSP milk (optional if it comes out too thick)

     Start with the rice first. This whole process should take under 25 minutes. Boil the chicken broth in a small sauce pot and then add the rice. While the rice is cooking, we're going to prep everything else.

     Peel your zucchini, and then chop them up into bite-size pieces. Grate the cheese or cheeses of you choosing. This is where you can really customize this dish. It can be totally kid friendly or parent-pleasing. Either way, you will receive rounds of applause for this little jewel!

     When the rice is done after about 20 minutes, remove it from heat and quickly add all of the ingredients. All that remains is to stir it up until all of the cheese is melted.

     The heat from the rice actually cooks the zucchini just enough so that it's not raw but still crunchy! This is also an excellent way to sneak some vegetables into your diet without being overwhelmed by all that green. Don't judge me!

     Ok, well - I hope you like Cheesy Zucchini Rice as much as my people and I do. I've had to make it twice this week.



Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Candied Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookies, Y'all!

I missed my stepfather's birthday this year. Yeah, I know - I'm the worst. But trust me, I have an excellent excuse. I had his birthday saved in my old phone on the calendar, but it got lost when my stepfather gave me a new phone for Christmas. So, if you think about it . . . it's really all his fault. To make up for it, I decided to make him a treat because he's almost sixty and can pretty much buy anything he actually wants.

You will need:
Cookie Dough:
  • 2 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 TSP baking soda
  • 1 TSP salt
  • 2 sticks of soft butter
  • 1 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 TSP vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
 Candied Pecans:
  • 1 cup pecans, whole or chopped
  • 2 TBSP brown sugar
  • 2 TBSP butter
Preheat your oven to 375.

Get a large bowl and mix up the white sugar, brown sugar, butter, and vanilla extract until it's creamy. Add the eggs in one at a time and make sure you mix them in all the way. Otherwise, you could get scrumptious chunks of cooked egg in your cookies.

In a small bowl, combine salt, flour, and baking soda. Spill some of the flour mixture into the sugar mixture and mix it real well. Continue adding the flour mixture a little bit at a time making sure it's incorporated completely it has become some tasty-delicious cookie dough.

Next add the chocolate chips and we can move on to the star of this cookie show!


This is so serious y'all. Pecans are a big deal in the South, but they're just as tasty up here in the slowly-thawing North.

Get a small frying pan, preferably, set it on medium and start melting that butter. Drop in one pecan at a time until the butter starts sizzling, then dump in the rest of the nuts and brown sugar. Use a spatula to mix it all around in the pan and really get those pecans coated in the butter and sugar.

Let them simmer for 5-8 minutes on medium and then remove it from heat completely. I left mine on the stove and the sugar caramelized onto the bottom of the pan, womp, womp.

Stir the candied pecans into the cookie dough. Roll the cookie dough into about the size of a golf ball and set up nine on a cookie sheet. Make sure they're spread evenly apart, unless you like twin cookies. Bake them for 9-12 minutes. I made three pans worth of cookies, nine each which makes twenty-seven cookies all together.

I don't know if my stepfather likes them. I haven't heard from him since I gave him the cookies so I assume his mouth is too jammed full to speak.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Slow Cooker Pot Roast a la Liz

     One of the keys to a great relationship is keeping both tummy happy and full. At least this is the case in MY relationships. If I'm hungry, I'm not happy and so is the case with my boo!
     It may be an old adage, but meat and potatoes are the best thing in the world, end of discussion. You've heard it a million times, I know. That's why you can never go wrong with pot roast! Celery, onions, potatoes, carrots and meat all cooking in meat juice? UH, yes, please.

You will need:
  • 1 onion, peeled and quarted
  • 4-5 carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch segments
  • 3 stalks of celery, cut into 2-inch segments
  • 2 cups beef broth, or 2 beef bouillon cubes diluted in 2 cups of water
  • 1-2 lb. beef pot roast
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • salt & pepper

     Heat up the olive oil in a skillet. Meanwhile, salt and pepper both sides of the roast. When the oil gets hot, CAREFULLY place the roast in on a flat side. I say carefully because you WILL get hurt if you slam that piece of meat down and a spritz of hot oil gets on your arms. Take it from me, oil burn scars are not cute. Brown each side of the roast for 5-8 minutes each. Try to brown it.

     Layer the vegetables on the bottom of the slow cooker and season with salt and pepper. I like to put some of them on top of the roast for firmer vegetables. Pour the beef broth in the slow cooker and then top it off with roast. Place the cover, set the heat on low, and leave it alone for 6-8 hours. The longer the better, guys.

     All that's left is too make a big batch of mashed potatoes to soak up all the beef juice! Enjoy,



Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Korean Teriyaki Chicken Stir Fry

     Yesterday, I was in a tight spot. I had $40 to cover my groceries and it was my turn to cook dinner that night. I went through a lot of options but I settled on something that had lots of inexpensive vegetables, to make up the bulk of the dish, and a inexpensive cut of meat preferably on sale. Also, more important than anything else - it HAD to be good.
     For the first time EVER, I'm faced with a beau who can produce more in the kitchen than fried eggs. The first meal this guy made me was muscles in a tomato-white wine sauce. What the Hell?! Nobody does that in real life! He's amazing so I can't just slap down some tacos seasoned from a packet anymore.
     Given the circumstances and budget, the fact that he likes Asian cuisine, I picked stir-fry. I am SO GLAD I DID! Needless to say, my beau contributed a lot to this recipe. We used one of his woks, because of course he has more than one! I might have prepped but he had a hand in a lot of the cooking process due to his stir-fry history.

You will need:
  • 1 lb. chicken strips OR chicken breasts, cut into thumb-sized chunks
  • 1 onion, cut into semi-circles
  • 1 red pepper, cut into 2-inch strips
  • 1 small broccoli floret, chopped
  • 1 fat garlic clove, diced
  • 1 chicken bouillon cube
  • fresh ginger, one-inch piece, diced
  • 2-3 carrots, peeled into strips
  • 2 TBSP vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup Tsang's Korean Teriyaki Stir-Fry Sauce
  • 3/4 cup soy sauce, I like the low sodium kind
  • 1 cup par-boiled rice
  • 2 cups water
      Grab a small, resealable plastic bag and put in the chicken chunks, garlic, ginger, 1/2 cup Tsang's Korean Teriyaki Stir-Fry Sauce, and 1/2 cup soy sauce. Before you seal the bag, try to get out all of the air that you can, then toss it in the fridge for 30 minutes. While the chicken is speed-marinating, this is the time to prepare your vegetables and rice.
     My beau introduced me to par-boiled rice. It's nice and tender and I LOVE IT! Get your water boiling and then break up the bouillon cube in the water, then add the rice and cover. Let the rice boil for about 30-60 seconds then reduce the heat to low. Stir once or twice for the next 15 minutes then turn off the heat and stir. If there's rice sticking to the bottom just put the cover back on for about five minutes then stir. The moisture should lift the rice up off the bottom of the pot.

Heat the vegetable oil in your wok or frying pan on medium high heat. Once the oil is hot carefully pour in the chicken mixture, try to get whatever is leftover in the bag out into the pan. Cook the chicken for a about 2-3 minutes. Add the vegetables and the rest of the Tsang's Korean Teriyaki Stir-Fry Sauce and soy sauce.


     Remember: KEEP STIRRING, that's the point of stir-fry. The vegetables should be cooked but still crisp. Stir every 30 seconds or so for the next 10-13 minutes then you're done!
     I like to plate the rice first and then layer on the goodness so the rice soaks up the run off sauces. Scrumpty!



Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Simple Sausage Marinara

I've made this a few times now and I find it super savory! This red sauce with sausage is super easy. Its one of those meals you do a bunch of prep work for, and then you relax while the sauce simmers it's way into the juiciest parts of the sausage. Let's get started.

You will need:
  • 6 hot or sweet Italian sausage, whichever you prefer or mix it up
  • 14 oz. can of crushed tomatoes
  • 14 oz. can of whole peeled or diced tomatoes
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, diced
  • fistful of basil, chopped
  • salt & pepper to your taste
  • olive oil
Start prepping by filling a medium sauce pot 2/3 full of water. Set that on medium-high heat and let it come to a boil while you're dicing up the onion, garlic, and basil.

Pour olive oil into a large sauce pot, enough to cover the bottom of the pot, and put it on medium-low heat. Once the olive oil has heated up a bit, dump in the diced onion. Let the onion cook until it looks a little translucent and then stir the onions to the sides of the pot to make a little landing pad for the garlic. Let the onion and garlic simmer for a while until the garlic looks yellow, then stir it up. If the onions start to burn or cook to quickly, definitely turn the heat down.

Before you place the sausage in the boiling water, use a fork to poke each sausage three or four times. Let the sausages cook for 4-6 minutes each at the most. After they're done, I like to cut them into twos or threes so the sauce gets in. My Nonno (grandfather) preferred cooking them whole. It's alright if they aren't cooked through because they're going to be in the sauce which is still thickening.

Turn the heat way down and let your sauce simmer for at least 30 minutes. I like to simmer my sauce for as long as possible. Well, go try this and tell me what you think. Whatever, you'll like it.



Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Healthy Broccoli Cheddar Soup

I'm OBSESSED with Panera's soup. But I don't always feel like driving 10 minutes down the street to get it in the cold snowy, snow. PLUS, I don't want to spend $7 on a bowl of soup that is in no way big enough to satisfy a hunger like mine. After a lot of prodding and nagging, I finally gave in to myself and took a swing at making this creamy, cheesy concoction last Friday night.
I based this on a recipe I found and took out the nasty things like nutmeg, and added delicious things like carrots and potatoes. Who wants nutmeg in their soup? Gross.

You will need:
  • 1 bunch of broccoli
  • 1 small onion (diced)
  • 2 medium red potatoes (diced)
  • 1/2 cup carrots (shredded)
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 3 cups chicken or vegetable broth (I prefer chicken)
  • 2 cups grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 TSP Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 12 oz. can evaporated milk
  • salt & pepper to your liking
  • 2 scallions (to top off your soup, optional but HIGHLY recommended)
You're going to start by cutting up your broccoli, keeping the stems and the florets separate. Finely dice the stems, coarsely chop the florets and - once more - KEEP THEM SEPARATE. Trust me, it's a real pain in the ass to do it afterwards.

Grease up a big soup pot and put it on medium heat. Toss in the carrots, diced onions, potatoes, and broccoli stems. Make sure to stir them up a lot until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Sprinkle in the flour next and stir it around until it becomes toasted which should take about 2 minutes.

While you have the vegetables sauteing, prepare a small saute pan with 1/2 cup of water and dump in the broccoli florets. Bring the florets to a boil and steam them until they're crisp and bright green, about 5 minutes.

Now is the time to stir in your broth and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat to keep the pot on a steady simmer. Stir the pot every occasionally until the vegetable are soft and the soup is thick, 12-15 minutes.

Empty the broccoli and florets and any remaining water into the soup pot. Give it a stir and then add the Worcestershire sauce, milk, cheese, and evaporated milk. Add salt and pepper to your taste. Garnish with a little extra cheese and some fresh scallions - you will be addicted to the cheesiness!

This recipe is guaranteed to cure the Winter blues!