Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Recipe #14 - Chicken and Brown Rice Pilaf

My mom gets a Kraft Foods magazine every so often. I used to get it, but it randomly stopped. Oh well. It always has a lot of good looking recipes, and I'll honestly admit I've tried quite a few!! So far, I tried 2 from the recent magazine she let me borrow. The first one, yuck! This second one, yummy!! Here is the link to Kraft's website with the original recipe. I'm only going to show my modified recipe below!

*3-4 slices of bacon, chopped
*4 small boneless skinless chicken breast halves (1 lb)
*1 bag of frozen broccoli
*2 tblsp grated Parmesan cheese
*2 cups hot cooked long-grain brown rice

Prepare the rice according to the directions on the package. I haven't mastered making brown rice yet... it always seems dry. I'm working on it though. In a large skillet, cook chopped bacon, until crisp (about 6-7 minutes). Using a slotted spoon, scoop the bacon pieces out of the skillet, leaving the grease. Lay the bacon pieces on a paper towel covered plate, to drain excess grease.

Before adding chicken to the skillet, make sure it's cut into small sections, or somewhat flattened, to allow it to cook a little faster. My chicken pieces were too plump, resulting in very crispy outsides. Add the chicken to the skillet, cooking about 6-8 minutes on each side, until its golden brown and cooked all the way through. Transfer chicken to a plate and cover to keep warm. Add broccoli to skillet, along with a small amount of water (enough to cover the bottom of the skillet). Cover. Cook until broccoli is tender. Add rice and bacon to skillet with broccoli. Mix well. Top rice mixture with bacon pieces and chicken, and ta da!

So the original recipe only uses two strips of bacon, but OH MY the bacon was my favorite part. That's why I increased it to 3-4 slices here. I'll be trying it that way next time. I don't know what about it made the rest of it WONDERFUL! We prefer broccoli, so that is why I used it, rather than the other veggies. Plus, it's what I had on hand. I will try it with snap peas, once, though.

This was a very yummy and relatively easy meal! I'll definitely make it again.


Monday, April 9, 2012

FOLLOW UP: Recipe #12

Here is a link to the original post...

So I tried these again for Easter, because I knew I could do a better job than I did the first time I made them. I found a mistake that I made... I used a box of Devil's Food cake mix that was too small - it was only 15.25 oz, not 18.25 oz like the recipe called for. In all honestly, the taste was the same. The only noticeable difference was the texture of the cupcakes. The first time, they were more brownie like. This second time, they were more cake-y.

The biggest difference, in my opinion, was the frosting. Instead of using a store bought can, I made a butter cream frosting from scratch. YUM! Here is the blog where I found this recipe - http://savorysweetlife.com/2010/03/buttercream-frosting/. This was actually the second time I've made it, and I was not disappointed! I also used it last year on Rylan's 1st birthday cake. The recipe, as she calls for, makes a lot of frosting. I don't put a ton of frosting on my cupcakes, so I initially cut the recipe in half. I still had some frosting left over, after I iced a batch of 24 cupcakes. Hopefully this will help give you an idea of what to make.


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Recipe #13 - Boiled Omelets

Weekend before last, my Nana invited Rusty, Rylan and me over for breakfast... We agreed, packed up and headed over. We were also going to get a picture of Rylan and Paw Paw together with the Bluebonnets in his backyard. After we accepted her invitation, Nana asked if we'd ever tried her boiled omelets. We had not, so this was a new adventure for us!

While I'll still prefer a good old fashion omelet to this, they were very good, SUPER easy and really fun to make! I could see this being a lot of fun to do in a brunch setting with family and friends. It was a lot less stressful than cooking and cleaning up, that is for sure!!

*sealable sandwich bags
*permanent marker
*fork or whisk
*large measuring cup or bowl
*large bowl to discard egg shells (if a trash can isn't handy)
*large pot, on stove with rapidly boiling water (I highly recommend a pot that is shallow and wide, rather than one that is deep and narrow. More bags will fit this way.)

*eggs (only 2 per omelet!!!)
*any omelet fixin's you want!

In permanent marker, write your name on top most part of the sandwich bag (above where it seals). Add desired omelet fixin's to your bag. Scramble two eggs in the large measuring cup or bowl. Pour eggs into bag. Remove as much air from the bag as possible, then seal. After the bag is sealed, mix up the contents as best as you can. Add prepared omelet bags to water, and allow them to boil for about 13-15 minutes. (If you do more than two eggs, they don't cook throughout very well.)

Using the tongs, remove bags from the water and place them on the platter. Allow the bags to cool for 2-3 minutes. Open the baggies, and the omelets will fall right out onto your plate!!

(Sorry - the picture above didn't turn out very well, but it's the only one I got!!)

After breakfast, Rylan and Paw Paw finally got their bluebonnet picture together! I was really pleased with how it turned out... I usually can't get Rylan's attention for more than a second or two when it comes to snapping a picture.

Enjoy!! TTFN!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Recipe #12 - Chocolate Volcano (OREO) Cupcakes

Would you like to know what the greatest cookbook in the world is?? Well I'll gladly tell you! That would be OREO With a Twist. Every single recipe in this book involves OREOs in some way, shape or form. I've had this cookbook for a LOOOOOONG time. I don't use it very often, though, for a variety of reasons. First of all, I always eat the OREOs. They're so good on their own, why bother baking with them? Second, I can't keep OREOs in my house. (See first reason).

I recently used it to bake something for a coworker. A year or two ago, I went through most of my cookbooks and flagged different recipes I wanted to eventually try. I giggled when I got this one down, because almost every single page was flagged. :) I had the hardest time deciding what recipe to try first. I ultimately ended up on this recipe. For some reason I kept coming back to it. And let me just say - they're delicious, even despite me messing up and changing the recipe. :)

*1 18.25oz package devil's food cake mix
*1 1/4 cups water
*1/2 c vegetable oil
*3 eggs
*16 OREOs, coarsely chopped (go ahead and get out a few extra, you know you'll eat 'em!)
*1 can vanilla frosting

Mix cake mix, water, oil and eggs in a large bowl with electric mixer at low speed until moistened. Beat 2 minutes at medium speed. Gently stir in remaining OREOs (come on, you know you ate some). Spoon batter into 24 paper lined or lightly greased muffin pan cups, filling 2/3 of the way. Bake at 350* for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted. Remove pan from oven and allow it to cool for about 5 minutes. Then remove cupcakes from the pan and let them cool completely.

Now, for this frosting part... These cupcakes are called chocolate volcano cupcakes because of how the original directions say to "ice" the cupcakes. Let me just say - it does NOT turn out pretty on your first go round. I think you definitely need a batch or two to practice. My first four were quite ugly, in fact. :) I ultimately ended up just icing them on top, and adding some sprinkles. Second, ditch the can frosting. Find a good butter cream icing recipe, and make the icing yourself. That's what I'm doing next time. I decided to follow the recipe instead of my instincts and was highly disappointed with the end result.

Fill pastry bag, fitted with rosette tip, with frosting. Gently insert the frosting tip just barely into the top of the cupcake. Slowly squeeze the icing to fill the cupcakes. The end product should look like a volcano - a chocolate cupcake with white icing coming out like lava would.

Don't use can frosting. :) It was too soft and basically melted straight off the cupcakes. I was SO upset by this! Ice the darn things how ever you want! :) Either way, they taste absolutely delish! In my picture below, you can already see that the icing is starting to melt down. It was so sad.

I was really curious how the cupcakes would turn out with OREO chunks in them. The OREO stuf part cooked away and you didn't taste it. The cookies softened up, but stayed in tact to create little pieces of soft OREOs mixed into the cupcakes. Yummy yummy!!!

Good luck on this recipe! I hope it turns out just as good for you.

PS - I will be trying recipes from this cookbook more often. Stay tuned!

Recipe #11 - Campbell's Kitchen Chicken Noodle Casserole

We had this recipe tonight for dinner. It's very easy, uses basic ingredients and was very filling! I originally found the recipe on allrecipes.com. I saw that I printed it back in January of 2011. Not really sure why I waited so long to try it, because it was pretty good!!

*1 can Campbell's condensed Cream of Chicken and Mushroom soup
*1/2 c of milk
*1/8 tsp black pepper
*1/3 c grated Parmesan cheese
*2 c cubed cooked chicken or turkey
*3 c cooked medium egg noodles

Let me go ahead and add this note - in my directions below, I'm going to tell how I deviated from the ingredients, rather than making a list of exceptions here.

First, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Since I have no idea how many cups of uncooked egg noodles eventually make 3 cooked cups of egg noodles, I measured out and added 3 cups of uncooked egg noodles to the boiling water. Let the noodles boil for 6-8 minutes, until tender. Drain and rinse with warm water.

To cook the chicken - mix soup and milk together in a saucepan and mix well to thin out soup. Once warm, add cut up raw chicken pieces. Top with pepper and stir well. Cook over medium-high heat for 8-10 minutes, or until chicken is no longer pink when cut open. Reduce heat to medium, add 1/4 cup of water and mix well. Cook for 2-3 more minutes. Add cheese and cooked egg noodles. Mix together well.

To go with the meal, I steamed some broccoli. I'm sure peas would go well with this too. Another variation I'll try of this in the future is adding cheddar cheese instead of Parmesan cheese, just to see how it changes the flavor.

Good luck and happy cooking!