Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Pizza Sandwiches

Pizza Sandwiches by Martha Stewart

This is one of my first introductions to goat cheese and other Italian meats. Thanks Martha Stewart. Actually, I think this recipe was in the same magazine as the roast chicken. And like the roast chicken, it's way yummy.

The recipe calls for homemade dough, but store-bought pizza dough, will work just fine I'm sure. I love the mixture of textures and flavors that is in this "sandwich." There's the spiciness of soppressata (a type of salami), the taginess of the goat cheese, the sweetness of the tomatoes and the richness of the mozzarella cheese.

It is a pretty rich little pizza though without the arugula. The arugula with the lemon juice adds a nice freshness to this dish and helps cut through the richness of the stuffing.

If you don't make your own dough, it's not a hard dish. The ingredients may be a little pricier than your normal pepperoni, but it's a fun indulgence every now and then. And again, thanks to Martha for introducing me to goat cheese and soppressata.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Pan-Fried Noodles

It's no secret that I'm Chinese, right? I do get the random person every now and then asking me if I cook Chinese food. The short answer is no.

Growing up my family did take us out for Chinese food. And I remember the place we always went to was a little mom and pop shop called "The Great Wall." Served family style, my parents always ordered a meat dish and the pan-fried noodles. While, I wasn't super keen on what they ordered (I always ordered a plate of potstickers, and that was my dinner), I did love the pan-fried noodles. Something about the crispy noodles and sauce that eventually got soaked into the noodles, just appealed to my little-kid palate.

So, anytime I went to a Chinese restaurant, whether it was in college or afterwards, I always looked for pan-fried noodles. The closest I'd get was usually the lo mein, which satisfied my noodle sauce craving.

But one day, Wes's boss suggested we try an Asian restaurant. Asian. Not Chinese. This place has all sorts of Asian cuisine from sushi to thai-type food. Lo and behold I spied amongst their vast menu, pan fried noodles. Well, I had to give it a try. And it was delicious. Just as I remembered it as a kid. I loved it. Granted, eating out is not always a great option and I'm too lazy sometimes to take the drive all the way up to the restaurant and wait to order the food. So I searched for a recipe online. Luckily I found one. And it does not disappoint.

Hong Kong Style Pan Fried Noodles (based on sugarlens'recipe)
serves 4

1 (16 oz.) package Hong Kong style noodles (I found these in the refrigerated aisle at the Asian grocery store)
2 small chicken breasts, sliced thinly
1 small onion, sliced thinly
2 cups broccoli, chopped
2/3 cup sliced mushrooms
3 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons corn starch
2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons oyster sauce

2 tablespoons of oyster sauce
2 tablespoons of soy sauce
1 cup water
2 tablespoons of sugar
2 teaspoons of cooking wine

1 tablespoon of corn starch
1 tablespoon of water

Add oil to a heated pan. Add noodles. The noodles should brown very quickly. Use a pair of chopsticks or a spatula to make sure the noodles are getting browned evenly. If you need to, use the spatula to press the noodles against the pan or add some more cooking oil to make sure you brown most of the noodles. Plate the noodles and set aside.

Mix together the ingredients for the marinade and add the sliced chicken. Set aside. In a separate bowl, combine the ingredients for Sauce. In a smaller bowl, combine corn starch and water. Set aside.

Add oil to a heated pan and saute garlic and broccoli for about 3 minutes or until garlic is starting to turn brown. Add a half cup of water and cover to let the broccoli finish cooking by steaming. After 5 minutes, remove cover and check to see if the broccoli is done. Salt to taste and dish out.

Add oil to a heated pan and cook onions, mushrooms, and chicken until done. Add broccoli back to the pan. Stir well. Add the Sauce mixture. Bring it to a boil.

Add the corn starch mixture and give a quick stir. Bring it to a boil.

Pour gravy on top of the noodles. Serve immediately!

I, of course, used whatever veggies I want. Usually there are green beans, water chestnuts and all sorts of other veggies in this dish. But carrots and broccoli work just fine for us. The protein is interchangeable too. Shrimp or beef would work equally well. The recipe looks labor intensive, but it's really not. It's just more mixing of multiple sauces and marinades that make it look hard.

My favorite part about this dish? When the sauce (or gravy as the recipe calls it) soaks into the noodles and softens them up. So there's a little bit of crunch, but a little bit of soft noodle that is coated in sauce. It makes my mouth water just writing about it.

If you can't find Hong Kong noodles the recipe calls for, plain spaghetti would work just fine. There's no specific texture to these noodles that requires a special pasta. But I did find a suitable noodle in the Asian section of the grocery store.

This is the one Chinese dish I can say I do cook. Traditional or not. It takes me back to my childhood and that's one of the best things.

Monday, November 28, 2011

TV Dinner

Ok, so I totally meant to do some posting last week, but didn't get around to it. Sadly, I didn't get any pictures of the Thanksgiving feast that my sister-in-law cooked. So for today, we'll settle for a good old fashioned TV dinner updated.

This is Salisbury Steak with Pesto Creamed Spinach, Mashed Potatoes and Apple Turnovers with Ice Cream. Skip the compartment trays that you stick in the microwave. We did most likely eat this in front of the TV though. Have to keep some sort of tradition alive, right?

The recipes are a mish mash. The Apple Turnovers are from Ina Garten, Salisbury Steak from Rachael Ray, Pesto Creamed Spinach from some cookbook (recipe below) and the mashed potatoes are just homemade.

Pesto Creamed Spinach - Bon Appetit Cookbook
1-10 oz package frozen chopped spinach
2 TB. purchased pesto
1/4 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup freshly grated Romano Cheese

Drain spinach and squeeze dry. Heat heavy medium skillet over medium heat. Add pesto, then spinach, stir until heated through. Add cream and stir until thickened slightly, about 2 minutes. Mix in cheese. Season to taste with pepper.

Overall, a pretty decent meal. Although, since I left the mushrooms out of the salisbury steak, Wes did make a pretty accurate comment in that it was basically just a hamburger patty. I do like my creamed spinach a little creamier, but did enjoy the pesto addition to mix it up some.

The apple turnovers were pretty yummy and easy to make. Although, I wish I could have stuffed them a little more. Served warm with vanilla ice cream and I was pretty happy.

A fun, nostalgic little meal. Could make it even more fun if you did have some trays with compartments, so it could be served like those TV dinners from the 50s.


Monday, November 14, 2011


It's basically winter. So let's reminisce about summer...

Back when Wes's sister and her family of five, plus husband, came out to visit, we took the opportunity to roast some marshmallows in the backyard. It's ok. We had a contained fire for the kids to play with. There was no shortage of sticky fingers and chocolate mustaches on everyone. But it's all worth it to have some s'mores on a summer's night!

Bailey and Wes roasting marshmallows.
Eli enjoying a s'more. Don't worry, he didn't cook his own marshmallow.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Avocado Crab Salad

So I think I was on an avocado kick when I found this recipe. And why not throw crab into the mix? It's one of the ways to get Wes, the meat-eater, to eat a salad for dinner.

Canned crab makes this a pretty quick dinner. Although, I would try to find fresher crab meat next time. It was still a delicious salad.

Avocado Crab Salad

The recipe calls for anchovies and haricots verts, or fancy green beans. I don't remember if I left the anchovies out or not. If you look closely in the pictures, I definitely left out the green beans. Either I forgot to add it to the grocery list or I didn't feel like having green beans in my salad. Most likely it was the second reason.

And chances are I left out the anchovies. Either way, it was still a tasty salad. The dressing will be just as good without the anchovies if it's something you're not interested in utilizing. However, those experts over at probably make the dressing that much better by adding the salty little fish.

And you know, you can always turn this into a wrap if people in your life are so against salad as an entree. It wouldn't be the first time I've used that trick on you-know-who.

Enjoy! And happy 11-11-11!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Roasted Chicken and Vegetables

I think I've found Wes's favorite meal. And it's a simple one at that. It's Martha Stewart's roast chicken with roasted carrots and potatoes. With so many roast chicken recipes out there, there is bound to be one that should be come a family staple.

This one is a little less involved than the ones that have you stuff the cavity with lemons, garlic, onions, etc. It gets a hint of rosemary from sitting on it and from the cavity. But the great thing about this particular roast chicken recipe is the crispy skin. Isn't that one of the best things about bone-in chicken, whether it be fried chicken or roasted? It's the crispy skin that's a treat.

While Martha's recipe already includes the potatoes, I added carrots to the mixture for another vegetable. Any root veggie would do great though. Love the crispiness the potatoes get and the sweetness of the carrots.

Buy a whole chicken and try this recipe. Don't get too weirded out by the gibblets and stuff. The small ick factor is worth this classic and rustic recipe. Another great thing: this chicken doesn't smoke out the oven either since butter is the fat source instead of oil. No one likes to have their eyes burn and the fear of the smoke alarm going off. Although, sometimes... it's worth it.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Shrimp and Roasted Garlic Tamales

This recipe came from the same Bobby Flay cookbook as the short rib recipe. And no, it wasn't any easier to make. This was an all day project.

Who doesn't love tamales? But not wanting to buy a whole bag of masa for just a few tamales, I looked for alternatives that were more doable. Luckily, this recipe was in that cookbook. I don't know if was worth all the time it took. And like I mentioned before, it was probably lacking the actual hand of Bobby Flay himself.

The tamales ended up being pretty sweet and yummy. But soaking the corn husks for 24 hours, then the messiness of trying to stuff them, I think I'll stick to the frozen kind in the freezer section of the grocery store. The garlic sauce could have been a bit thicker as well. It was a runny and didn't really stick to anything. Although the tamales did do a good job of soaking up the sauce.

All in all, it was a good effort and didn't taste bad. But Bobby Flay is just too much work for me.

I saw shrimp and thought this would be an easy and quick meal. Ha. Not!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Roasted Red Pepper and Feta Sauce

So I had a jar of roasted red peppers leftover from some other recipe and a tub of feta from when my mom was here. So I looked up some recipes where I could knock out two of these items that were sitting in my fridge. Enter the recipe for roasted red pepper and feta sauce.

Aside from it being healthier, it was pretty tasty and way easy to make. Basically you throw everything into a blender and it comes out as a sauce. I do like the saltiness of the feta and how it sort of cuts through the red pepper flavor. I added some roasted sausages at the suggestion of other commenters of the recipe. But chicken would probably work equally as well. Plus Wes likes to have some sort of protein in his meals. I don't think I could ever turn him vegetarian.

Delicious meal for a busy night!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Mexican Flatbread Pizza

I'm a fan of The Pioneer Woman's blog. I love drooling over her step by step pictures of her recipes. Unlike a lot of other blogs, this one included, it's kind of nice to watch the process of making a meal. Kind of like watching a cooking show, but without the moving picture.

Anyway, I've tried a handful of her recipes and this is one of them. Super easy and flavorful. It's also easy to tweak to your likings.

Here's the recipe: Mexican Flatbread Pizza

Sorry about the blurry picture. I was in a hurry to eat and didn't take enough shots to warrant one good one.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Parmesan and Sage-Crusted Pork Chops

Parmesan and Sage-Crusted Pork Chops

Love, love, love these! So tender, easy and flavorful. Instead of getting chops, I used a pork tenderloin and made medallions. I paired it with a rich, home-made scallop potatoes and some asparagus. The scalloped potatoes might have been a little over powering for the pork, but both of them were delicious.

The sage took front and center for the pork, which typically doesn't have a whole lot of flavor on its own. The sage was a nice, earthy flavor and a good change of pace. I don't cook with a lot of sage, so it was a great change up of flavors to day to day meals.

If you use pork tenderloin instead of chops, plan on one tenderloin per two people. The cooking time will also depend on the thickness of your pork.

Parmesan and Sage-Crusted Pork Chops

  • 1 (1 1/4-ounce) slice white bread, torn into pieces
  • 1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon prepared mustard
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 4 (4-ounce) boneless thin-cut pork loin chops, trimmed
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil
1. Place bread in a food processor; pulse bread 10 times or until coarse crumbs measure about 1 cup. Combine breadcrumbs, cheese, sage, salt, and pepper in a shallow dish. Place flour in another shallow dish. Combine mustard and egg whites in another shallow dish, stirring with a whisk.
2. Working with one pork chop at a time, dredge pork in flour, shaking off excess. Dip pork into egg white mixture, allowing excess to drip off. Coat pork completely with breadcrumb mixture. Set aside. Repeat procedure with remaining pork, flour, egg white mixture, and breadcrumb mixture.
3. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add oil to pan, swirling to coat. Add pork; cook 3 minutes on each side or until browned and done.