Thursday, October 28, 2010

Mexican Lasagna


Yesterday was a dreadfully ugly looking day. Actually, most days this week have been that way. It's almost November, so I expect it to look like midnight when I wake up. However, I expect my lunch break to at least be filled with some sunshine. I am obviously asking just too much there. Every day when I've left for lunch, it's been gray and overcast with a side of gross. When I think fall I think of nice crisp (summer, if you're listening, take that stupid humidity with you) air, leaves changing, hoodies, hot chocolate, etc. But it's just been a very gloomy looking week this week. So what does one do? Well, I crank up the air conditioning in the apartment, pretend it's chilly out, get my favorite blanket, and I cozy up on the couch, or in bed. AND I want something dense and hot in my tummy. Lasagna is a perfect go to dinner for these kind of days (or makeshift days!). Yesterday I wanted something different than traditional lasagna, so I went with a Mexican lasagna. Noodles made out of tortillas, creaminess from sour cream, "ragu" made out of black beans, corn and chilies. It's just simply perfect. I've read so many recipes on different ways to make Mexican lasagna, and I've pretty much combined all of my favorite parts from all of them. Substitutions are always welcome, this lasagna is so forgiving. Also, you could make it vegetarian very easily. Double or triple your amount of all the veggies and just omit the chicken. The beans and corn alone are very filling and have an amazing taste, so you won't miss out!!

Q: What is your go to comfort meal? And do you have a favorite spinoff?
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Time from start to finish: 1 - 1 1/2 hours

Ingredients:
1 can Black Beans, drained and rinsed
1 can Corn with Chilies*
1 small can Green Chilies
1 small Onion, diced
3 cloves Garlic, grated
1 Tbsp flavorless Oil of your choice (don't waste good stuff here)
few dashes of your favorite Hot Sauce (I used a Habenero)
1 Tbsp Adobo Seasoning
1 Tbsp Chili Powder
1/2 Tbsp Cumin
1/2 tsp Cilantro
2 Tbsp Lime Juice
1 package flour Tortillas, edges cut off so each tortilla is a square, not a circle
4 large boneless, skinless Chicken Breasts
1 cup Taco Sauce
1/2 - 1 cup Sour Cream, plus more for serving
1-2 cups Mexican Blend of Cheese (or whatever mild Mexican cheese you want)
1 cup Pico de Gallo, or your favorite salsa
1 packet Taco Seasoning or a blend of your own, from the above spices
About 1/2 cup water

*If you can't find this, just substitute a can of corn and 1 red pepper diced up.

Sounds like a lot of ingredients, but don't worry, this recipe is really easy, and it's basically fool proof.  Preheat your oven to 425. Begin by putting your chicken breast (clean it of all the fat first, makes it easier when you go to shred it) submerged in a pot of cold water. Salt the water, cover the pot and put it on high and bring to just below a boil. Once it reaches just below a boil, lower to a simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes, until your chicken is cooked. Remove to cutting board and shred. I like to use two forks, or a knife, and just pull apart big chunks of the chicken and allow the big chunks to cool while I do other stuff. This way it becomes easily handled, and you can pull it with your fingers - which I find the best way to do this. You can use a food processor, but I find when you do it by hand, you tend to pull so the chicken fibers stay together, making it more tender. But if you wanna save ten minutes (understandable!), pop it in the processor for a few bursts. Once your chicken is shredded, or while you wait for it to cool so you can handle it, mix the first 12 ingredients in a large saute pan over medium heat. You just want to warm it through and mix all the flavors up together while you're working on your chicken, or while you're cutting your tortillas.Once your mixture is heated up nicely, about 8 minutes, remove to a big container/mixing bowl. Carefully mix in sour cream. You want just enough to make the mixture moist and creamy, but you don't want a ton of sour cream at the bottom of the bowl. Set aside for use in a minute. Back in the pan you warmed up all those ingredients in, put in shredded chicken over medium high heat. Add taco seasoning and enough water to wet the whole mixture and steam up. Really this isn't exact, and you won't mess it up. Mix up the seasonings and turn off the heat. Now starts your layering process!

I used a smaller square baking dish, 8x8, just because there are only two of us. But you can easily double or triple this recipe. Just bake a little longer. Spray your baking dish with pam or whatever you want, just make sure it's coated well. the tortillas love to stick. You could also put a little taco sauce on the bottom. Layer: tortillas, bean and corn mixture, salsa, chicken, cheese, tortilla. This made 3 layers. Then top with the taco sauce and more cheese. Bake, covered, for 20 minutes or until cheese is melted and tortillas are soft. Let stand a few minutes before cutting. It's easier to handle that way.

I used the scraps from the tortillas and lightly coated them with some oil and the spices above. I served them alongside my salsa! Perfect side dish!


Eat Well!
Melissa

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Swing and a Miss!

 And no, I'm not talking about baseball. Goodness I just can't get into that sport!

So last evening I decided to 'throw together' the pork chop recipe I was going to try back for date night. The recipe is so simple, I figured it'd be done in twenty minutes, be a recipe I hadn't tried, AND be cinch. Oh my my. Where did I go wrong? Oh, I know. Somewhere between "talking on the phone to your mother" and "paying no attention". Yep. Right about there. It started off fantastically! I prepped my shallots and garlic, had everything on the counter, had my wine measured, you name it, I got it (Jurassic Park, anyone?). THEN my mother calls. Yep, I can blame her. Ok maybe I can't. But it'll make me feel better, and that's what moms are for, right? She can take the blame. You see, I didn't use thick cut pork chops. I saw butterflied chops at the store, and I had to have them. I'm not exactly sure what my obsession with butterflied meat is, but it's a pretty strong one. It always cooks faster! Yep, that's it. It cooks faster. Something I completely neglected to remember while I was chatting away with my mother, nodding at my husband (I had no idea what he was trying to say to me, but I gave the appearance of agreeing with him. I do hope he was asking me a question), stirring the sauce, and thinking that I should wash our bedsheets. The result was relatively dry pork chops. In good news though, the sauce was absolutely to die for. I poured it all over my mashed potatoes. At least some part of dinner was salvageable!

I was too busy ignoring my pork, you think I got a picture?

I told you when I started this that there would be failures! Here is failure numero uno. Only about 999 to go :)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Korean-ish Style BBQ Chicken


Nothing says "dinner" like sticky char-y chicken. I made this yesterday when I wanted to spend more time relaxing on my day off, then tending to dinner. It's a very quick easy marinade that is reminiscent to a Korean style BBQ, but I tend to omit a few traditional ingredients (I'm looking at you, white sugar) and put in a few with more flavor (mmm Worcestershire). So before I get yelled at, I know it's not an actual authentic Korean BBQ, but it makes a freakishly good marinade, so who's complaining? I love to cook my boneless skinless breasts in our nonstick skillet. I always find that the marinade gets nice and glazed on, and I can still clean the skillet with relative ease (unlike my grill pan. boo!). I have a thing for mixing my hot, sticky chicken in mashed potatoes. I have no idea why, but it's my thing. So I serve this with mashed potatoes (or baked potatoes! Works great there too!) and an autumn salad. But it's chicken. You can serve this with whatever you like!

Question! What do you like to pair your chicken with best? I look forward to your response!

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Time from start to finish: 30 minutes without marinating time

Ingredients:
1 Tbsp Ginger, grated
3 cloves Garlic, grated
1 Shallot, minced
1 Tbsp Sesame Oil
1 Tbsp White Wine Vinegar
1/4-1/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/4 cup low sodium Soy Sauce
1/3 cup Worcestershire Sauce
1 Tbsp Sriracha or chili flakes/hot sauce, whatever heat agent you want
Salt and Pepper to taste
2 boneless, skinless Chicken Breasts*, butterflied
1 Green Onion, snipped for garnish (Optional)

Whisk all ingredients, sans chicken together until mixed thoroughly. Pour over chicken, making sure all the chicken is covered and coated. Refrigerate 30 minutes to 8 hours**.  Preheat grill pan/nonstick skillet/grill to medium high to ensure a nice sear on the meat. Discard marinade and cook until chicken juices run clear - about 8 minutes total depending on the thickness of your chicken. Enjoy!

*I have a thing for using boneless, skinless. You are more than welcome to use bone-in, skin-on chicken! Just adjust cooking time!
**I wouldn't leave this one marinate overnight - I have let it go and it was extremely tough.

Eat Well!
Melissa

Oh Tuesday


Sorry there were no posts this weekend. It's been a busy few days here, but I can promise a few pictures and recipes to come this week from this past weekend. My most favorite being the champagne layer cake that I made! Being a lazy bum last night, I forgot to upload the pictures so I could make the post today, but when I get home, I will be sure to upload.  There's a mediocre picture I shot of the cake in the kitchen. I was so tired after making it, I didn't put in the time to get good pics :(  But for a great picture (and the recipe!) check out  Darjeeling Dreams. She makes the most mouthwatering sweets ever. I saw her recipe for the cake here, and I knew I had to try it. The only way to describe this cake is this: whenever there are baked goods in our home, generally they last a week and then we throw some out. There is one BIG piece, or two little ones, left. It was made Friday night. We didn't even have a piece until Saturday morning. That is just how good it is. It is by far the best from-scratch cake I have ever made. I have to attribute that to the perfect batter recipe for the cakes. It was a much more unique recipe than your traditional yellow cake. 1/4 cup of champagne, a cup of buttermilk, no oil or shortening, just egg whites - no yolk. Not that this isn't standard for some recipes, but the typical cake I make is a box that says Betty Crocker. If you're lucky, I'll make the most standard of from-scratch cakes. When she posted the recipe, it looked like a dressed up cake that wouldn't be completely impossible to make. And boy, the recipe is 100% dead on. I've added it to my list of go-to cakes to make. The frosting/whipped topping is delicious and airy and can be changed to incorporate whatever flavor profile you're going for. You could add honey or vanilla, like she suggests, or whatever extract you like. You can change the filling inside (she uses blackberry preserves). But no matter what you do, this cake will turn out perfect, and it's sure to make everyone who tries a piece think "Wow!" I wish I had an event coming up that I could bring this to, it's that good. I was just happy to share some with my mother and grandmother-in-law.

Eat Well,
Melissa

Friday, October 22, 2010

Orange and Fennel Salad

So bright and refreshing
Ah what is better than a nice balanced meal? Seriously nothing. Throughout the day Brandon asked me what I was going to make for dinner. All I knew was that I had to do something with the split chicken breasts we had in the fridge. I also knew we had fingerling potatoes (I knew this because the husband kept talking about how excited he was for roasted fingerlings ALL DAY). But I kept thinking about how something was going to be missing. I'd be missing bright colors, acidity, crunch. Basically... I'd be missing some form of veggies. I've been getting so into fresh produce recently. I know how ridiculous that sounds, but really for our household "fresh produce" is usually something we reserve for the weekend. You can see why I started this blog! I needed a good kick in the behind to get myself into eating much better. Usually we would get bags of steamer veggies, because I would cook meals that didn't take much time on the weekdays. Yep. I was lazy. Glad I used my noggin tonight though! And I'm doing everything in my power to kick that habit of steamer bags right where it hurts. No more for me! Unless I'm in a pinch, of course :) Or I want corn! Gotta have my corn!

So whilst pondering throughout the work day, I decided that I wanted to have some form of salad. Yes, I know you see the picture up there! But the trick was making something that really balanced the meal. I can't think of a better salad for what I made for dinner tonight. Also, I really pinched pennies with it too! My salad cost $7.00 for a huge salad. Seriously! It consisted of the three ingredients you see right there: Orange, fennel and baby arugula. The oranges were great because they doubled as an accompaniment to the salad AND to the chicken. It tied everything together so perfectly. I made a home made lemon-orange dijon vinaigrette to go along with the salad as well. So my seven dollar purchase actually gave ingredients to my salad, main course and the vinaigrette. Pretty nice, if I do say so myself. Also, my kitty tended to think that dinner was pretty awesome too. As you can see, she thinks it's quite tasty. At least... that's what she told me about the chicken.


So without further adieu, here is the simple Orange and Fennel Salad, with home made Lemon Orange vinaigrette!

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Time from start to finish: 10 minutes

Ingredients:

For Salad:
1 package Baby Arugula
2 large Valencia Oranges
1 large bulb Fennel, core removed and cut into thin strips

For Vinaigrette:
Juice of 1 Lemon
Juice of 1 Orange
1 clove Garlic, minced or grated
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 cup White Wine Vinegar
1/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil (more or less to your taste)

Wash and dry your arugula, top with the fennel and oranges. Mix all the ingredients for the vinaigrette together, and lightly dress the salad. Voila! This pairs fantastically with roasted chicken! When I roasted mine, I used some of the orange juice and zest on the chicken breast, so it tied in beautifully. But you can enjoy this on its own, or with some tasty bread, with soup, with whatever your heart desires. It's a perfectly balanced salad with a great dressing. Enjoy!

Eat Well!
Melissa

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Best Cup Ever!


This morning I had some "Christmas Eve" tea from Stash. Before you say anything, I'd like to avidly deny getting too far ahead with my seasons. I am not obsessed with Christmas, I am not obsessed with Christmas, I am not obsessed with Christmas. There. I told you.

I more or less made this post to show off my delightful cup. I love it. I look completely trendy, but I don't care. That's gotta be my most prized coffee cup. The husband got it for me last year for Christmas, and it's still my favorite. The cup never feels terribly hot, it's got a CANDY CANE STRIPED STRAW, and it's clear, so you get to see how pretty your tea looks. Or soda, beer, cocktail, 12 shots of rum, what have you. I tend to stick to tea and hot chocolate in it, though :).

See!! Candy cane striped!
Speaking of hot chocolate, I tend to drink the powdered swiss miss stuff, because it's not awful for you. A lot better for you than actually melting baking chocolate, anyway. But anyway, this weekend we bought their 25 calorie packets. They are completely terrible, and I wouldn't recommend them to anyway. I used to packets in that cup up there. I typically use two of any kind of hot chocolate, and it never tastes watery. But that hot chocolate tastes like 85% water, 15% chocolate garbage. :( Saddening, because that would've been a nice treat to not feel guilty about. Oh well. I'll stick to my 200 calorie cups of hot chocolate. At least it's uber tasty :)

Drink Well!
Melissa

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Fontina English Muffins



Mmm who doesn't love a nice english muffin for breakfast? All the cracks just catching the butter/margarine/BACON FAT. They're absolutely delicious! One of my favorite types of food, if you can even call it that, is "breakfast." Yes, I'm lumping all the breakfast foods together. However, if I'm being truthful, my real "favorite" is a really delicious breakfast sandwich. When I was younger, around 17 or so, it used to be the "cool thing" to go to a local gas station and get breakfast in the middle of the night. Or rather, the cool part was GOING to the gas station, and then I'd get breakfast. Boy am I glad I'm 24 now. I can go during whatever time of day, and be EXTREMELY awesome. Know why? Because breakfast is cool at all hours. Yep. I just know that when I walk in and press those buttons on the Made-to-Order screen, that the 18 year old high school kid is looking up (or down, I'm not even five feet tall) at me like I'm the head cheerleader. (Have I mentioned my mastering the art of illusion?)

This takes me to my breakfast sandwich that I recently made. Generally when I make breakfast sandwiches they include a bagel, bacon or sausage, egg and cheese. Those are the only four components that I need. Who am I kidding? I can slap a piece of cheese on a hot bagel, wrap it in foil and eat it five minutes later and be in pure heaven. But on this particular morning, I happened to have no bagel or meat! What was I to do? Pretty sure you guessed right! I still made a damn sandwich. Probably the easiest breakfast sandwich ever. Fontina, fried egg, a little butter and english muffin. So perfectly fantastic. This doesn't even really need a recipe, but I'll give you one anyway! Then you can be the cool kid too!

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Time from start to finish: About 10 minutes

Ingredients:

1 English Muffin, halved
1 Egg
Shredded Fontina, enough to pile on top of an english muffin
1 Tbsp Butter
1/2 tsp fresh Chives (optional; for garnish)
Salt and Pepper to taste

Turn your broiler on, (or toaster oven if you prefer) and put a pan on medium low heat. Melt the tablespoon of butter in your pan. Prep your english muffin. Split your muffin and put it on a cookie sheet. Top with the fontina and a little bit of salt and pepper. It should look like this.

mmmmmm

See how easy?! Now we want to fry up our egg. Now crack your egg into your pan and break the yolk a little bit. I do this by just taking my spatula and gently tapping the edge into the yolk. It makes it stay in place, but gives you that nice fried texture all over. I don't tend to like yolk dripping down my breakfast sandwiches, (unless it's just eggs on toast!) I just find it messy. But if you like that, don't break it. If you do break it, it should look like this.

Don't forget to season your egg!
Now put your english muffin under the broiler/in the toaster, allow the cheese to melt and the english muffin to get crisp. About 2-3 minutes depending on your equipment. But watch it, because you don't want the muffin to burn. Then just assemble and chow down!!!

I love this sandwich because it tasted a little grown up, but I know better. I'm still the cool kid.

Eat Well,
Melissa

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Asian Noodle Soup


It's Autumn. It's cool and breezy, you don't want to leave the couch. What DO you want? Something warm and comforting. Something that requires very little effort. AKA: You want to call the Chinese delivery guy. Or the pizza guy. STOP! DON'T CALL ANY GUYS! (Unless of course you're trying to have a sweet house party.) This soup is so quick and easy, and it tastes like you've been cooking the broth for hours. It literally takes 15 minutes, very little prep, and you'll be back under the covers in no time. It's perfect because you can add whatever vegetables you want, just make sure you adjust your cooking time, then slurp away!

I've made this soup a couple times now, and it seriously goes so fast. Brandon, my husband, has actually proclaimed that it is his all time favorite soup. That's some serious praise for an avid lover of chicken noodle soup. So, without further adieu...

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Time from start to finish: about 15 minutes

Ingredients:
4 cups Chicken Stock
1 15-ounce can Chicken Broth (or water)
1 Star Anise
Few dashes Soy Sauce
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 tsp Ginger
2-3 cups Baby Bok Choy, rinsed, dried and chopped roughly
1 12-ounce package of Baby Bella Mushrooms
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 tsp Brown Sugar
Udon Noodles (up to you how much to use)
1 Scallion, chopped

Get your pot of water on for your udon noodles and follow the package instructions. You'll want to have your noodles ready just as your broth is finished. So just plan accordingly.

Star Anise gives a great, subtle licorice tinge to your broth
 In a medium saucepan, heat stock, broth, soy sauce, star anise, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, salt and pepper. Stir together gently and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add whatever vegetables you're using and cook two minutes. Put your cooked udon in your bowls, then top with soup and scallions and enjoy!

I told you! Such an easy dinner!!!!!

Eat Well!
Melissa

Monday, October 18, 2010

Cornflake Chicken

I've had quite a busy weekend! This past week was a pretty rough week for my family, so my husband and I decided to have a much needed, exciting weekend. ALSO, amazing news, my camera came on Thursday night! Friday we went to a party, so we didn't have to cook, and Saturday night he took me out on the town to use my camera and to get food downtown. So yesterday morning I woke up and was already trying to plan what I wanted to make.

We ate relatively heavy this past weekend, so I wanted to make something less fattening, but still have something that was extremely comforting. There is nothing more comforting than good fried chicken. But...I'd totally throw that "less fattening" out that window if I made fried chicken!!! So, I made cornflake breaded chicken. It's seriously even better, in my opinion, than deep fried chicken. I know, that sounds sacrilege. But honestly, by the time I clean up all of the oil and the mess from fried chicken, I am almost regretting making it to begin with (now... if someone else is cooking and cleaning, then this isn't always true!). This "fried" chicken is guaranteed to be crispy, delicious, moist, and about 30 times better for you than actual fried chicken. It's easy cleanup, too - one roasting pan and one closed container. What could be better? Oh, that's right, the fact that it tastes amazing. Try it, you'll seriously love it.

I paired it with garlic sauteed Swiss Chard. Enjoy!

Recipe: Cornflake Chicken

Time from start to finish: About 45 minutes, Plus 2 hours for marinating

Ingredients:
2 boneless, skinless Chicken Breasts, butterflied
4 cups non-sweet Cornflakes, crushed
3/4 cup Buttermilk
2 Tbsp Hot Sauce
2 Tbsp Cayenne Pepper
2 Tbsp Cajun Seasoning
Salt and Pepper to Taste

Prepare your chicken. Butterfly it so you have two individual cutlets per breast (just cut your chicken in half, horizontally). In a container prepare your marinade. Mix the buttermilk, hot sauce, cayenne, cajun and salt and pepper together. Put your chicken in the container and let marinade at least 2 hours. After marinating, preheat your oven to 425. Take your crushed cornflakes and pour them on a few sheets of foil (for easy cleanup!). Press your chicken into the cornflakes to get a nice, even coating. This seems to take a little more force than regular breadcrumbs, but it's worth it! Place the chicken in a roasting pan with a rack on the bottom. If you don't have one, you can spray some nonstick spray on a roasting pan, but you risk the breading sticking to the pan. Cook for 18-25 minutes, depending on your thickness of the breasts. As long as the juices run clear, you're fine! Serve with garlic sauteed greens. Enjoy!

Eat Well! 
Melissa


Sunday, October 17, 2010

Mac and Cheese, Grown Up Style


As you can see from the picture, this isn't your average macaroni and cheese. It's freaking killer because it's made with gnocchi. The cheese sauce is surprisingly light, and the Parmigiano Reggiano on top is just icing on the cake (or...cheese on the pasta?!). This is the perfect side dish to any lean meat, or would be perfect on its own. Sitting under the covers on a cold Sunday... eating this while reading a book...I could rock that.

The cheeses that I used were Gruyere, Fontina and Parmigiano Reggiano. I have seen several recipes when looking for macaroni and cheese that use this blend, so I decided to try it. It's hard to believe that this isn't the heaviest thing ever. But somehow the gnocchi just end up tasting like light fluffy pillows just kissed with cheese sauce. The key is to not ladle too much cheese sauce in the tartlet pans. So when you bake it, it adheres to the gnocchi, but it doesn't look soupy. But really, too much cheese is never a problem in my book. So if you want it extra cheesy, GO NUTS!

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Time from start to finish: About 40 minutes
Ingredients:
1 packet Gnocchi
1/2 cup Gruyere Cheese, shredded
1/2 cup Fontina Cheese, shredded
1/2 cup Parmigano Reggiano, shredded
3/4 cup Milk*
1 tsp Nutmeg, freshly grated (or ground if that's what you have on hand)
2 Tbsp Butter
1 Tbsp Flour
2 Tbsp Garlic, grated or minced
1 tsp Dijon Mustard
Salt and Pepper to taste

Put your salted water on to boil and preheat your oven to 400. In a saucepan, melt your butter over medium low heat. Once melted, add your garlic and let it cook for about 45 seconds, just so you start to smell it. Add your flour and whisk to create a roux. Stir in a the milk, dijon, salt, pepper. Slowly add the Gruyere and Fontina, a handful at a time. Stir until the cheese is completely melted before you add the next handful. Then add the grated nutmeg. Put your gnocchi in to cook before you've added the last of your cheese. It should only take 2-3 minutes to cook. Cook per package instructions, drain. Once all of your cheese is added and melted, it's finished. Split your gnocchi up into tartlet pans, or just put it all in one dish if you prefer. Add the cheese sauce and top with Parmigiano Reggiano. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the Parmigiano Reggiano is melted. Garnish with basil or parsley if you like! Enjoy!

Eat Well,
Melissa

*I used 1% Milk. If you use a higher fat content milk, you might need to adjust your cheese sauce stirring time just slightly (same with if you use skim, it might take a little longer to thicken)

Garlic Sautéed Swiss Chard



Greens are a delicious side dish to so many main courses. Heavy or breaded meats are balanced so well when paired with a nice salad, or a nice pile of warm swiss chard or kale. Plus, it's so nutritious! I really like my greens to still have some bite, instead of having that soupy texture. But if you don't like them that way, just let them cook a little longer in the pan. You can make this with any of your favorite greens, and with any spices or seasonings you like. Having an alfredo pasta? Mix in some lemon juice and a hint of Parmigiano Reggiano. Having Mexican? Add some chilies and adobo seasoning. It's such a versatile side dish! Plus, it's so good for you that you can let yourself have some ice cream afterward :)

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Time from start to finish: About 10 minutes

Ingredients:
1 bundle Swiss Chard, deveined and cut up roughly
2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Tsp Garlic, grated or diced
Salt and Pepper to Taste

Heat a pan on medium high heat. Add the oil and the garlic and let garlic cook 10-20 seconds until fragrant. Add the greens and toss lightly for a minute or two (or longer depending on your preference). Enjoy!

Eat Well,
Melissa

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Camera Love


So, this isn't EXACTLY food related, but it sort of pertains to it :). I ordered my new camera yesterday! I'm getting a Canon Rebel XSI <3 I couldn't be more excited. It won't be solely used for food photos, I am going to try to get myself back into photography. But, it can't hurt food photos either! With a little luck, I might get it by Saturday. That would be fantastic. Knowing how things turn out for me though, it won't show up until Monday.

I also bought (much to my husbands chagrin) a few serving plates as well. Some white, some clear. So hopefully soon I can make some very striking, mouth- watering photos (let's hope the food is good too!).
Check back in the next week or so, and hopefully there will be lots of deliciousness via your monitor!!!

Eat Well,
Melissa

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Chicken Stir Fry


Yesterday I wasn't having the best day. My sweet husband decided to try to cheer me up by cooking me a nice dinner! He made his own stir fry recipe, which was absolutely delicious. It was so good that I had to ask him to write it up to share. Feel free to substitute or add any vegetable you like! Just keep in mind its cooking time.

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Time from start to finish: about 30 minutes with all the prepping.

Ingredients:

1 head broccoli, cut into florets
1 head bok choy, chopped
3 carrots, peeled and sliced thinly
3 cloves of garlic, grated
1 shallot, chopped
1 1/2 pounds chicken, cubed
12 mushrooms, sliced
2 tablespoons sesame oil
14.2 ounces hokkien noodles (2 packets)
pinch dried ginger
teriyaki and soy sauce to taste

Get your wok or skillet up to a medium-high heat and add the sesame oil. Once hot, add the carrots and broccoli and cook for 2 minutes. Add some soy sauce now to your taste (can use low sodium if you prefer). Add the chicken and stir for 2 minutes. Add the rest of the vegetables and the pinch of ginger. Cook until the broccoli and carrots are tender, and then add the teriyaki sauce and noodles. Cook for another 2 minutes, just until the noodles separate and are heated through. Make sure you stir continuously throughout the process! Can garnish wih sesame seeds if you like. Enjoy!!

Eat Well,
Melissa

Monday, October 11, 2010

For the Love of Spice


I mentioned that I recently came into a whole slew of spices. Well today while walking around the kitchen, I just looked at my racks and through my cupboards aimlessly. It got me thinking about what some of my absolute favorite flavors and notes are. I figured I'd share, and hopefully get you thinking about your favorites too! (Feel free to share!)

Here are some of my favorite spices and flavor combinations! I realize that these aren't all just spices or all common flavors that you'd blend, but they're the top ten flavors that i can think about that just make my tummy rumble! So without further adieu!

10. Corn with lime juice and chilies. When I'm making anything Mexican, I typically make a blend with these three flavors. Whether I buy jarred chilies or fresh, I always find they mix well with the corn and the lime juice. I can eat it by itself, honestly. Probably why there are so many corn salsas :) I love cilantro in this too!

9. Worcestershire marinade with ginger and garlic. When I'm at work, I frequently email a friend back and forth all day long. Her and I talk about a lot of stuff, but more often than not, we will ask the other what they're having for dinner. She had told me about doing a Worcestershire marinade for chicken. For some reason, I had never even thought about marinating chicken in Worcestershire. I just always did extra virgin olive oil and herbs or spices, etc. But, because of her raving about it, I decided to wing a marinade with it. I just made a very simple marinade of Worcestershire, garlic, ginger, onion, soy and white wine vinegar. It was FANTASTIC! It's become one of my favorite ways to make boneless skinless breasts. But just the smell of Worcestershire, garlic and ginger is enough to make my mouth water!

8. Cajun spice with lime. Cajun spice is one of my favorites because it mixes so many pantry items into one. Cayenne pepper, salt, onion, garlic, paprika, chili powder. Many different blends have different spices, but you can usually count on most of them having at least salt, garlic and cayenne. And for great reason! It's delicious! Especially when paired with a nice batch of shrimp that are just hit with some lime juice. I put Cajun spice on everything from seafood to steak to chicken. And go figure, the lime seems to always pair just as nicely! If you want to make your own Cajun blend, try blending these (if you prefer less spice, alter the amount of cayenne and chili powder):

2 tsp Salt
2 Tbsp Garlic Powder
1 1/2 Tbsp Onion Powder
1 tsp crushed Black Pepper
1 Tbsp Cayenne Pepper
1 Tbsp Chili Powder
1 Tbsp Paprika

7. Caramel and Sea Salt. These two go together like peanut butter and jelly. I remember going into a Gertrude Hawk looking for chocolates for the hubby for Valentines' Day, and I got to sample their caramel and sea salt chocolate. I was hooked. These two flavors are also paired at Starbucks for their salted caramel hot chocolate! Delicious. If I could eat it every day, I totally would.

6. Avocado and Basil. I already have a post about why I love this so much. But in a short synopsis: because it straight up rocks. The lemony basil really pairs well with the cool creaminess of the avocado. It is perfect for dips, and I imagine it'd be great on a chicken sandwich with layers of avocado and your own homemade pesto on top (or store-bought! No one's judging!). You have to try this combination to understand just how delicious it is.

5. Balsamic Vinaigrette. This is one of my favorite dressings ever. It's sweet and tangy and extremely refreshing. I love this on everything from just plain greens, to caprese salad, pasta salad, or as a dipper for just vegetables. It's so versatile and easy to make. If you want to make your own, try this quick, easy blend. This is how I typically make mine at home.

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
about 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 grated clove garlic
salt and pepper to taste.
Mix vinegar, salt, pepper and garlic, slowly stream in the oil, while whisking. Adjust the oil to your taste. I prefer a tangier, vinegar-y dressing. If you prefer more, simply add more!

4. Holy trinity of poultry: Sage, Rosemary and Thyme. I never make a roasted chicken without blending these three. Whether I'm using dried herbs or fresh, they always make an appearance. It's just the perfect balance. If I wouldn't smell crazy, I would wear rosemary as a perfume. All three just smell amazing, but the rosemary is definitely my favorite out of those three. They all play in together though, and make poultry just extra fabulous. It just tastes like thanksgiving dinner, year round.

3. Fresh Chives. I absolutely adore chives. They're pretty, taste onion-y, and are great on so many things. I honestly garnish more with chives than I do parsley. I just prefer the taste, and they're just so friendly! Anymore I get sad if I'm ever served mashed potatoes without them. Tragic, really.

2. Basil, Lemon and Garlic. These three ingredients make every dish special. Pesto? Yes, you should add some lemon juice to it! Pasta? Um, of COURSE. Dips? Check. Home infused olive oil? YES! (Just make sure you use the oil right after you use it. If it sits at room the garlic can produce the botulism toxin. No thank you.)  Fresh basil itself already has a lemony hint. But it's just accented even better when combined with some fresh lemon zest or juice. And seriously, does anyone not like garlic?

1. Parmigiano Reggiano... It's on a completely different level. It's got that nice, salty bite that goes perfectly into tomato sauces. It's amazing shaved over a variety of vegetables, my favorite being asparagus. It is amazing in soups, and even on its own. I put it in mashed potatoes, pesto, salad. You name it, I probably throw it in there. I am not usually stuck up at all about ingredients. But this cheese REALLY is as good as everyone says.

Hopefully you enjoyed reading my favorite flavors! Feel free to share yours! 

Eat Well!
Melissa

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Champagne Chicken and Roasted Root Vegetables


After debating on what to make for our dinner on Friday, I settled on the idea of champagne chicken. This recipe was adapted from Mireille Guiliano's "chicken au champagne." I wanted to make dinner special, so I made a rosemary garlic herb oil, and some roasted root vegetables. It was absolutely to die for.

For our honeymoon this year, my husband and I traveled to Europe on a cruise. It took us to France, (and Norway, Ireland and Scotland!) and the smells and sites of Paris and Normandy were enough to make your mouth water, and heart flutter at the thought of even being there. Unfortunately, we didn't get to stay overnight, so we each only got one meal. We stumbled across a small Parisian cafe, named Chez Ribe, and wanted to get something we've always wanted - a croque madame. It was absolutely everything we'd hoped it'd be, and then some. We also just had to get crêpes (nutella for me, sugar for him). But long story short, even though we just absolutely loved our lunch, we didn't get to sample some of the things that we had wished we could. And the champagne chicken just further proved that we'll have to make sure we fly back sometime soon. But with this recipe, we were at least able to pretend, if only for an evening, that we sitting under the stars in Paris

So here's the recipe for Champagne Chicken. The champagne makes a delicate, sweet sauce, but with no added fat that you'd get from oil or butter. I added mushrooms to it before I served it, but you don't need to. You can serve a guilt-free dinner, with the added bonus of feeling like you're having something exotic, yet comforting. As I said, I made it with roasted root vegetables. This would also pair amazingly with rice, or risotto. I can also say that I think it'd be fantastic with light whipped potatoes and asparagus scented with lemon. Dress it up, or play it down! It's whatever you like! Enjoy!

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Time from start to finish: about 45 minutes to an hour.

Ingredients:

2 split Chicken Breasts
3 sprigs of Thyme, Rosemary, Sage, all chopped up and blended together
1 cup dry Champagne. (We used Korbel Brut)
1/2 juice 1 Lemon
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 8-ounce package of Baby Portabella Mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 Shallot, cut into quarters
1 clove Garlic, minced or grated
1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tsp Butter or Margarine

Preheat your broiler. Put your chicken in a roasting pan. Cut a slit in the top of the chicken, and insert the quarter of the shallot. Push it the entire way into the breast. Season with salt and pepper, and pour 1/2 of the cup of the champagne over the chicken. 


Place skin side DOWN, broil 3 minutes. Then remove the chicken, flip over, skin side up, and broil another 3-5 minutes until you have a nice golden color on the chicken. Remove the chicken and lower the oven temperature to 475 degrees. Baste your chicken, and add the fresh herbs, lemon juice, and the remaining 1/2 cup of champagne before returning to the oven.




Now cook the chicken for another 30 minutes or so, basting as it goes along. Make sure you keep an eye on the skin, you don't want it to get too dark. When you have about 15 minutes left, put the oil and butter on a medium low heat. Add the mushrooms and garlic and saute until the chicken is done.


Remove the chicken from the oven, allow to rest before serving. Mix the mushrooms in with the champagne and chicken juices, and serve over the chicken as a gravy. Enjoy!


Eat Well!

Melissa

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Pasta with Garlic Chicken Sausage!!


For tonight's dinner, we wanted to use up some of the al fresco chicken sausages we had. They were roasted garlic flavor, and not terribly exciting on their own. They're good, but you can't fool me into thinking it's a nice, thick, fatty, Italian sausage link. But for 7 grams of fat for "sausage," it's a sacrifice we're willing to make during the work week. Makes it all that more special to cook naughtily on the weekends! But let me tell you, in this pasta dish, flavor wasn't lost a bit. I also just love the cavatappi pasta. Little corkscrews make everything fun!

Basically I made up a primavera-esq pasta dish, using tomatoes, escarole (to beef up the nutrients), the chicken sausage, mushrooms, onion, and orange bell pepper. Super simple, and can be made with whatever your favorite veggies happen to be! And, but of course, you can't ever forget my second husband, parmigiano reggiano.

Enjoy!!! And make sure you make plenty. We both had two helpings!

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Time from start to finish: About 30 minutes.

Ingredients:
1 box Cavatappi Pasta, or whatever you have on hand
1-2 orange Bell Peppers, sliced
1 8-ounce container Baby Bella mushrooms, roughly chopped
3 cloves Garlic
2 15-ounce cans Diced Tomatoes
1 small Onion
3-4 links Chicken Sausage or whatever sausage you want, sliced on a bias
2-3 cups of Escarole, washed, dried, and roughly chopped
A ladle full or so of the starchy pasta water
2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tbsp Butter or Margarine
Juice of 1/2 small Lemon
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 Tbsp Red Pepper Flakes
1 Tbsp Italian Seasoning
Parmigiano Reggiano shavings

Prep all your veggies, and your garlic. Heat a large, high sided, skillet over medium heat, and put the butter and oil in. Put the pasta water on, cover while you wait for it to boil. Dump the sausage, onion, garlic, mushrooms, peppers in the skillet. Let cook for about 5 minutes, add the tomatoes (juice and all), the lemon juice, pepper flakes, salt and pepper, and bring to a boil. Once it boils, turn it down to medium-low. By now your pasta water should be boiling, add your pasta and cook per instructions on the box. when you have about 1-2 minutes left on your pasta, add a few ladles of the starchy water to your sauce and stir. Add your escarole after mixing in the salted water and toss for a minute or two until the escarole has wilted. Add your pasta, toss, and garnish with fresh basil and parmigiano reggiano.

Eat Well!
Melissa

To Tea or not to Tea? That is the Question.

This morning I am sitting in my cubicle at work, looking through my desk, and I found my little tea box! There are two different tea bags in here - mint and Irish cream. We have a cafeteria on the ground floor of our office. Their cups are, what I would consider, too big for one tea bag. Of course I could always just put less water in... But where's the fun in that?!  So I'm having the inner debate of, "do I mix them?" Honestly, I'm thinking that it'll be fantastic.

There is nothing better than a hot cup of tea, or hot chocolate, early in the morning. I also adore coffee, but I rarely feel like I need that caffeine boost. I'd like to keep it that way! I don't want to be drinking a pot a day by the time I'm 40, just to get through the day. Now... If that pot is filled with nothing but pumpkin spice latte...Then perhaps I do. Hook me up on an IV drip of that stuff, please!

I just returned, tea in hand. I have to say, I made the right decision! It smells like milky, minty goodness (technical terminology right there). I love Irish cream tea because of how creamy tasting the tea itself is. No need to add milk or creamer, it already tastes so velvety. The mint just gives it that little hint of coolness. Perfect to have right now! Wake me up for work!

Well, now that I'm all woken up, time to get to work.

Eat (Drink!) Well!
Melissa

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Weekend Dinner Ideas!

Picture courtesy of Simply Recipes

I was posting on the Serious Eats blog, looking for suggestions for a romantic weekend meal, when one user kindly pointed me over to the Simply Recipes blog. The link was to a recipe for pork chops with a dijon sauce. I just think it looks fantastic, simple and delicious. Not to mention that it's actually not horrible for you either! Generally when I want to make a special weekend meal, I like it to be an event. This typically means I'm slaving over the stove for a while, sweating, nowhere near attractive enough for a 'romantic night.' Let the record show, though, my husband would never agree with this statement. He knows better!

So, finding a quick, simple recipe like this really excited me. It's fancy enough to *look* like I put a lot of effort and time into it. But easy enough that just maybe I'll have time enough to slip into something nice, and just maybe I will have a moment to reapply makeup and look smashing, dahhhling. A fresh looking cook is always best!

I think this will be my venture for this weekend. A pairing with Parmesan dusted asparagus spears and roasted potatoes sounds heavenly. Maybe a side salad, or add some greens to some of the drippings. Suggestions? Mmm I'm hungry just thinking about it!

Of course, after saying that, I stumble across another recipe on SR; Pork chops with a mushroom bourbon cream sauce. Just keep on tempting me. I think the lighter mustard sauce still has it beat out though. Oh well. Bookmark for another time!

Until next time!

Eat Well,
Melissa

Best Beer Braised Brats Ever!

I made these for an Oktoberfest party this past weekend. I've made them before, but this time I tweaked my recipe, and made it in the crock pot because it was for so many people. They were a huge hit! The brats were different from most beer braised brats, because we didn't grill them before serving. Which, I know, is absolutely amazing. But they were almost fall-apart tender, and I'll be honest, a lot easier than firing up the grill. Because really, the point of a party is to be mingling - not slaving over the grill while everyone else chats!

The best part about these, is that you can use the pre-cooked brats, and they still taste like you did something special to them. You did! You added everybody's favorite drink :)

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Time from start to finish: about 4 1/2 - 8 1/2 hours (depending if you cook on high or low)

Ingredients:

15 Bratwurst (any variety you like), pricked with a fork
2 cloves grated Garlic
1 1/2 - 2 bottles of lager beer (I used Yuengling)
2 yellow Onions, sliced
1 Tbsp Caraway Seed

Put everything in the slow cooker/crock pot. Stir gently to incorporate the caraway, garlic and onions. Let cook on low for 6-8 hours, or on high for 3-4. If you use precooked brats, you can eat it a little earlier.

Eat Well!
Melissa

Ahh Sunday Gravy. (Do you feel like you're in the Sopranos yet?)


Growing up, I was fortunate to have a mom who was raised in New Jersey, in an Italian-American household. This meant two things: 1) She had an awesome accent, and 2) She made "gravy" on Sundays. Sunday gravy is essentially a tomato-based pasta sauce, cooked down all day. It always has various meats in it, giving off their juices and flavors, hence the term "gravy".

This beats your traditional marinara sauce in the face. It's simple, and just amazing. You can add whatever types of meat you want. Left over pork bones even work. I'll give you my version of my mom's classic gravy. It's up to you to make it your own! (Or just take mine!) I will warn you now, I am obsessed with garlic. So if you're the type to not want nearly as much, plan accordingly!
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Time from preparation to finish: About 4+ hours. Start this in the morning for a really thick sauce. Or around 1/2 for a thinner (but still thick!) gravy.

Ingredients:
1 32-ounce can Tomato Sauce
1 32-ounce can Crushed Tomatoes
1 small can tomato paste
10-12 big leaves fresh Basil, cut into a chiffonade (into long ribbons)
5-6 cloves of fresh Garlic, made into a paste, or freshly grated through a microplane
1 small Onion, diced
Salt and Pepper to taste
good pinch of Sugar
1 Tbsp Italian Seasoning, or just some pinches of Oregano, Rosemary and Thyme.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Red Pepper flakes to taste
2 Bone-in Pork Chops
1 batch freshly cooked Meatballs (about 1 lbs worth, preferably baked, not fried)
4 Sausage links (hot or sweet Italian, or a mix)
Glug of Dry Red Wine, such as Cabernet Sauvignon

In the bottom of a high soup or stock pan, on medium to medium-high heat, heat enough Extra Virgin Olive Oil to coat your pan. Brown your pork chops and sausages on all sides. Turn your pan to medium low and add your onion. Saute for a few minutes, until it's just starting to get soft. Add garlic and stir. Turn your pan back up to medium high and add the glug of wine. Just enough to deglaze the pan. Scrape up all the brown bits, and allow the wine to boil and cook down. When the wine is nearly evaporated add the cans of tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes and tomato paste. Fill the two big tomato cans with water and add the water to the pot as well. Add the remainder of the ingredients, including the meat, stir well, put a lid on and bring up to a boil. Once the gravy is boiling turn to a low simmer, take the lid and put it halfway on. So it's not covering the pot completely. Cook for 3+ hours. I like my gravy nice and thick, so I generally cook it for about 5 hours. And when it's about halfway through cooking, I always grab a nice piece of bread, and slather it with gravy. How can you not?

Top with fresh basil just before serving!

Eat Well!
Melissa

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Quick Chicken Curry Experiment

Mmmmmm :)

So I fully know that pretty much anyone who's ANYONE, loves Indian food. I also know that it's not necessarily the most difficult thing to make. However, it is a daunting task for me, as I've never really cooked it. Also, I've only eaten it a few times! So this was a fun (albeit not overly challenging) dinner for me to make. I know I probably should've ran to the store before, like I was going to. However, it was nice to know that I could make a nice authentic-tasting dinner with ingredients that were all in my pantry or fridge :) This was quite the winner, and a very nice icebreaker to get me into trying some Indian recipes. Still wishing I had ran for some naan, though... Ah well, another time. :) And here's my quick chicken curry!
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Time from start to finish: About 20 minutes.


Ingredients:
2 cubed boneless, skinless Chicken Breasts
1 Tbsp Vadouvan*
1 Tbsp Tandoori Spice*
1 tsp Cayenne Pepper
2 Tbsp Canola Oil
1 small yellow Onion, sliced
3 Garlic Cloves, minced or made into a paste
1/2 can-1 can chicken broth
1 dollop sour cream


Heat your oil on medium-high, and toss in your onion and garlic, and basically stir fry for about 20 seconds. Do not burn the onions or garlic! Add the chicken to the hot pan, and toss around, letting it get a nice sear on all sides. Lower pan heat to medium low, and add in the spices. Stir until well combined, then add the chicken broth. Turn pan back up and bring to a boil. Add the sour cream and stir well. Cook for about 2 minutes, or until sauce is thick enough to coat a spoon.


Served over rice mixed with Indian spices of your choice


*Found at Williams-Sonoma. If you can't find these at your local grocery store, 2 full Tbsp of curry powder of your choice, or any Indian blend will do the trick!


Eat Well,
Melissa

Avocado Basil Dip (To Die For.)

I used a lot of this little basil plant!

While eating at a local restaurant, the husband and I stumbled across an amazing bread basket. They serve you fresh naan and lavash with an avocado basil dip. It is incredibly refreshing!!! We made our own, sorta by just throwing things in the food processor. So measurements might be a little off, but that's what tasting is for!! Enjoy!


4 ripe avocados
1/2-1 head garlic (depending on how garlicky [this is a word, I swear!] you want it and how big your bulb is)
1-2cups fresh basil
1 Tbsp sour cream
Stream of extra virgin olive oil between 1/4 and 1/2 cup, depending on the consistency and how oily the avocados are.
Splash milk (optional)
Salt and Pepper to taste


Blend in food processor, refrigerate, and scarf down with pretty much anything from bread, to cucumber, to putting it on sandwiches like mayo.


Eat Well!
Melissa

Tried and True Recipe: Pulled Chicken Burritos

One recipe I love to make at home when I'm feeling a bit into Mexican, is my recipe for chicken burritos. This recipe is so easy, and you can alter it to your tastes! Have a lot of Mexican spices, make your own blend. Don't have any, just use a typical 'taco seasoning' blend from your local grocery store. This is something you can make with fresh produce, or if you just have some canned black beans and corn lying around, you can still make it special. I hope you enjoy!


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Time from start to finish: About 30 minutes


Ingredients:
3-4 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
2 diced green Serrano chilies (or canned Mexican green chilies, in your international aisle)
1 can yellow corn
1 can rinsed and drained black beans
1 Tbsp cumin
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 Tbsp adobo seasoning
2 Tbsp olive oil
Tortillas (warmed)
1 packet taco seasoning
about 1/2 to 1 cup water
salt and pepper to taste
any additional fixins you want to add to your burrito (rice, lettuce, tomatoes, salsa, etc.)


Put your chicken breasts, whole, in a pot. Cover with water, put a lid on, and set your burner to high. Bring to just a boil, and once it starts to boil, lower to a simmer and let cook 15-20 minutes, until your chicken is cooked the whole way through.


Meanwhile, put a large skillet on medium low heat, and add a Tbsp of the  oil. Mix the rinsed, drained black beans, the corn, and the chilies in the pan. Spice with the cumin, chili powder and adobo seasoning*. Cover and turn the heat to low.


When the chicken is done, put another skillet on medium high, add the remaining oil, and shred the chicken**. Add the shredded chicken to the pan, and mix in the taco seasoning mix, and the water. The water shouldn't drown the chicken, but should be enough to deglaze the pan, and make the chicken moist.


Serve on warm tortillas with any choice of toppings.


*Some adobo seasoning comes with salt and pepper. Take this into account when you salt and pepper your food
**Using two forks, or your fingers, gently peel the meat apart. But be careful, the chicken can be very hot. I advise splitting it into big chunks and letting it cook until it's able to be handled.

Introduction

So, I know how "Julie and Julia" this blog already sounds. But hopefully, if you love food, you won't mind too much. I'm not cooking through any cookbook from front to start (I don't have the money, nor the patience!). Hopefully I'll just intertwine my life and my passion for food, and you'll be happy to follow along on my journey.


So, lets start of with a nice, cupcake filled, handshake. That was messy, but it's nice to meet you. I'm Melissa! Chances are, if you're reading this, you already knew that. But on the off-chance that I've actually gotten a visitor that I don't know, glad you have a nice, frosting-y hand!


I live in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, with my husband (Brandon) and my cat (Zima, affectionately referred to as Weem). We live in a tiny apartment, with a tiny kitchen. It's even one of those horrid galley style kitchens. But I make do just fine, thank goodness!


The purpose of starting this is to basically force myself to try new recipes, find new inspiration, and to share my entire journey. There are so many renown food blogs, and so many talented people all over the internet. Just looking at some of the photos that some bloggers take is enough to make my mouth water. I can't promise you professional quality pictures, or even recipes that you'll want to make again. But maybe I'll take the occasional good snap shot, and perhaps you'll just love my mom's Sunday Gravy (aka red pasta sauce to those of you that aren't from Jersey and don't come from an Italian-American background) enough to make it weekly! I won't even tell on you if you make it any other day of the week.


So on tonight's menu is something I'm just going to be winging. Last Thursday, the husband and I ventured to Williams Sonoma. Let me stop right there. To those of you who can afford to shop at WS on a constant basis, I am jealous. As I've mentioned already, I live in a tiny apartment. I cannot afford to buy all of my cookware, knives, etc from there. Boo to me. But we do go there frequently for me to salivate at all of the high end (read: priced) items that someday might be mine. ANYWAY, We went for a stop at WS. If you hadn't heard, WS has released their own spice line. When I first found out about it, I imagined the prices would be at least $10 per spice. And I thought I was being generous. I quickly found out that they were remarkably reasonably priced! They range from $5.95-$7.95 per spice (and in store you get a free spice caddy if you buy six spices). I probably put on my puppy dog eyes, because Brandon quickly said to just buy six, and we would save the $18 dollars getting the spice rack for free. Wall mountable! I was so excited. I wanted to buy spices I don't have on my typical spice rack. So I chose the following: Harissa, Tandoori Spice, Extra Fine French Grey Sea Salt, Zahtar, Nutmeg (the whole nutmeg, not ground), and Ancho Chili Powder. I was so stoked. I went home, took everything out, tasted all of them, and started reading some recipes for my new spices. The next day my mother stopped by, and because she is just so fabulous, she brought me 6 new spices! I couldn't have been more stoked. She provided me with: Crushed Chipotle Chili, Chinese Five Spice, Cloves, Turmeric, Star Anise, and Vadouvan. Hello, spice heaven. Needless to say, I was spoiled this weekend.


Anyway, that all leads me to this evening. I love Indian food, but I've never really made it. And quite honestly, I haven't experienced that much of it. I got several spice blends that will be perfect for Indian cooking. The Vadouvan and the Tandoori spice blends are what really got me intrigued in trying something different tonight. We shall see how it goes. I plan on getting Greek yogurt, mixing in the spices, maybe a little lemon juice and coating chunked chicken. Then grilling it on my grill pan. The idea of mixing tomatoes and cream and doing a bit more of a chicken tikka masala has crossed my mind, but I think I just want to taste the grilled chicken. You never know though. I'm going to the store, so that very well could mean I might grab some!


On the side I just plan on coating some cubed, oiled potatoes with the harissa and a hint of the vadouvan.


Hopefully everything turns out delightful! Wouldn't want my husband to starve!


Will post end results, with hopefully a tasty looking picture, tomorrow or tonight!


Eat well,
Melissa