Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas from the Jones' household!

Snickerdoodle Cookies and Wes enjoying leftover cookie dough batter.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Chicken Roulades with Chorizo

Chicken Roulades with Chorizo and Manchego
by Anne Burrell

So I stumbled across across this recipe when we were planning to have friends over for dinner. Well, that never happened, but this recipe was just too good to just wait for a special occasion.

I have to say, this dish was pretty amazing. Or at least, the stuffing is what really made this dish. It's a mixture of chorizo (Spanish sausage) and manchego (Spanish cheese). Luckily grocery stores carry a lot more exotic ingredients, so it wasn't too hard to find everything I needed at Safeway.

The stuffing can be made ahead of time, I wouldn't necessarily recommend the day before, but you could probably do it since the whole thing is going in the oven in the end. The stuffing definitely makes enough for about six chickens. However, since I only made three, I used the leftover for breakfast burritos and it was amazing.

So this recipe is a little intimidating. There's butterflying chicken breast, rolling it up and then breading it. Butterflying the chicken breast is definitely the way to go. It keeps the chicken in an even square type shape when you go to pound it. Pounding a regular chicken breast without butterflying it can turn it into some oblong shapes. And since you're rolling it up with a filling, it helps to make sure nothing spilling out.

I recommend using toothpicks to keep the chicken rolled up. Without it, it may have a tendency to unroll itself. And toothpicks help keep it together when you're dredging the chicken as well. I skipped dredging the chicken step, probably because I was too lazy to do all that breading. While the chicken was still amazing, I think breading it would just add that extra element to really make this dish.

The sauce, was eh. It was a nice element to add a little moisture to the chicken, but I don't know that it was something I would absolutely have to have next time. However, this chicken dish is something I would definitely make again. It can be a good dish to serve dinner guests as it looks impressive and tastes great.

Yum, yum!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Shrimp and Andouille with Grits

Shrimp and Andouille with Grits
by Everyday Food

This isn't the first time I've made shrimp and grits. However, this is a different version than the one I made here. This recipe was a a little more simple and it still packed big flavor. I think I liked the sauce that the shrimp and sausage were cooked in. It must've been the garlic type sauce. And I couldn't find andouille sausage exactly, so I substituted hot Italian links. And instead of grits, I made polenta.

A good, down home meal. The shrimp were incredibly tender. And like I said, the sauce gave it an extra punch of flavor which I enjoyed. I also do like the hot Italian links as it gave a little extra kick to the dish.

A fun, typically Southern meal to try.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Turkey Meatloaf with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Feta

Turkey Meatloaf with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Feta
by Giada Di Laurentiis

This recipe was passed on to me by one of my co-workers. It sat around for quite a while, then I realized I had sun-dried tomatoes and feta to use up in my fridge. When I told Wes that we were having meatloaf, he was very excited. However, when he took his first bite of this "meatloaf" he declared, that this was not meatloaf.

This is a fun take on "meatloaf" and it's nice and light. I admit, the grocery store didn't have ground turkey, so I used ground chicken instead. Surprisingly, it stayed pretty moist and it didn't dry out like ground poultry can. I do love the sweetness of the sun-dried tomatoes and the saltiness of the feta. You can never go wrong with that combination.

The great thing is that you can make this a day ahead and just pop it in the oven when you're ready to eat. Planning ahead for this meal allows you to not be spending a super long time in the kitchen for this since it takes 45 minutes to cook.

Pair this with classic meatloaf side dishes like mashed potatoes and a vegetable or keep it lighter with maybe couscous and a veggie. It's a fun take on meatloaf. And Wes eventually did come around to this dish, saying it was ultimately pretty good.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Asian Beef and Snow Peas with Fried Rice

Beef with Broccoli (or snow peas) with Fried Rice
by The Pioneer Woman & Everyday Food


One day I'm going to open my own Chinese restaurant with recipes by other people. I'd probably include this dish by the Pioneer Woman, who really got it from someone's cookbook. The first time I made this, it was WAY too salty. Almost unedible. The soy sauce covers your salt content, so taste the sauce before you add any more salt. Just wanted to put that out there.

But a super simple and quick recipe. And flank steak is an inexpensive cut of meat that lends itself to a thin slice against the grain. This recipe tastes pretty much like your typical beef and broccoli (or snow peas) dishes. Although, the sauce definitely has more punch and flavor than any take-out I've had.

And just to mix it up, I made Everyday Food's Fried Rice instead of just steaming some white rice. This meal was like an upscale version of Chinese take-out. And maybe, just a little healthier. That is, if you hold off on adding more salt at the end, like me.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Deep Dish Pizza

Chicago Deep Dish Pizza
Recipe make-over by Cooking Light

Ok, I really LOVE pizza. I think there was only one time in my life where I remember being sick of pizza. But thankfully, that hasn't happened recently. I'm typically not a deep-dish kind of person though. I'll eat it, but it's not my favorite style of pizza. I prefer the flat triangle type of pizza you get.

But perusing Cooking Light's website, I stumbled upon this recipe. It calls for homemade dough and you know I love a challenge. Especially since I had been on a kick my making my own bread and pizza dough. The only alteration to the recipe was that I left out the mushrooms (who likes to eat fungus anyway?) and used real sausage. So much for "cooking light".

Oh, my word. I LOVE this pizza. At first I wasn't sure if all the toppings were going to fill up the baking dish, resulting in a unfulfilled deep dish pizza. But they made it with a little bit of a crust at the top. I think what really makes this dish is letting the tomatoes drain with the dried herbs. It really gives it that extra flavor and punch to the "sauce." Love the spiciness of the sausage, mixed with the tanginess of the tomato and herbs, coupled with the crunch and sweetness of the bell peppers and the hint of cheese.

Great thing, you can make it a day or so ahead and just pop into the oven when ready. So good. And if you follow the recipe according to the website, it's probably a whole heck of a lot lighter than what you'll find at your pizza joint.


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Shrimp Pad Thai

Shrimp Pad Thai

This edition of pad thai ended much better than my last attempt at it. Partly because I actually found the correct type of noodles for the dish. And partly because I gave in and bought fish sauce, which probably 99.9% of pad thai recipes use - except for the first recipe I made.

Honestly, I don't remember a whole lot about this dish and haven't made it since. I do remember that it didn't have that kick and spice that I love about pad thai. But the texture was there and the base flavors were there too.

I will have to keep experimenting and finding that perfect pad thai dish that I dream about. Luckily, I get my pad thai fix pretty regularly via work. A girl has got to eat while sitting on her behind answering phone calls at 10:00 at night.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Chile Corn Chowder

This recipe came about from my produce picking trip last year. I had gotten a bunch of peppers and didn't know what to do with them. So I scoured the internet and found a suitable recipe. Don't ask me how I found it.

The gal uses organic, but heck, I just used whatever I had on hand. Hooo, boy, was this a spicy soup! Must've been those peppers I got. Still not sure what they were. Maybe hatch chiles? You know, like the ones they sell on the side of the road in the fall? Anyhoo, I think this was my first foray into roasting peppers too. Some of the chiles were harder to peel from the skin, but it didn't take too long before I had all the meat and seeds for the soup. Yep, I left the seeds mixed in. Make a mental note of that for next time.

Granted, I like spicy things. And I love this soup. I put a little Monterrey jack on the bottom of the bowl in addition to on top. So when you dipped down to the bottom, you also got some ooey, gooey, cheesiness. Good with some bread to dip and a delicious, totally not-healthy, soup to add to the repertoire.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Meatballs and Polenta

This is one of the first recipes I tried that I had gotten online and a meal that I never really had before. Don't ask me how I stumbled upon it. Maybe I was looking up meatball recipes. Maybe I was looking up a way to use up some beef. Who knows. It was probably one of the more involved recipes I had ever tried to date.

It turned out pretty incredible. Though, I do admit, the recipe makes a lot and it's a heavy dish. With a mixture of pork and beef, it sits heavy in your stomach the rest of the day. But it is yummy with that melted cheese and creamy polenta. The addition of pork to the meat mixture adds a richness and makes for a moister (more moist?) meatball. If you read the recipe, you'll notice that I omitted the tomatoes and mushrooms.

I've made a couple of variations of this recipe. The second time I made it, I cut the recipe in half and only used the ground beef. Still a rich dish, but not as heavy as before. The third time, I think I mixed in ground turkey with the beef which lightened up the dish a lot. It definitely changes the flavor profile, but we're not picky.

A fun take on meatballs for the family!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Focaccia Bread

So I'm sure I've mentioned that I got the Joy of Cooking cookbook for Christmas one year. The homemade pizza dough comes from that same cookbook. In fact, this focaccia bread starts out the exact same as the pizza dough, but ends up in a different form.

If I could live off of carbs for the rest of my life, I'd be one happy girl. This bread, right out of the oven, was to. die. for. The outside was crusty and the inside was nice and fluffy. I have no clue what I put on top - probably some mixture of Parmesan cheese, dried oregano and dried basil. I did salt the top, but it doesn't need it. Dipped in some olive oil and it was just heavenly.

Wes wasn't as thrilled about it as I was. But then again, I don't know that he loves carbs as much as I do. I could and probably did, eat this whole thing myself.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Lasagna Rolls

Lasagna Rolls by Giada de Laurentiis

Who doesn't love lasagna? This is a nice little spin on lasagna, although maybe just as labor intensive. With lasagna it's a little easier to layer and spread the filling and layer. This recipe was more of layering of each noodle, which were delicate. Luckily there were enough extra noodles in case I tore one in the process.

This was a tasty meal and reminded me a lot of stuffed pasta shells or some other form of stuffed pasta. It's probably good for making ahead and freezing or cooking for later in the week -- just like lasagna.