Monday, March 29, 2010

This Week's Menu

Monday--Baked Sesame Chicken
Roasted Brussel Sprouts

Refried Beans

Wednesday--Chicken wings
French fries
Carrots and celery with dip

Thursday--Braised Beef Brisket

Friday--Brats & Burgers
Potato Salad
Baked Beans

Garlic Bread

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Chocolate Peanut Butter Dream Bars

My sister-in-law, Kyle, sent me this recipe and asked me to try it out for her and see how it tasted. I was more than happy to oblige. This is why she is my favorite sister-in-law.

I had a feeling that it was going to be scrumptious. With a brownie bottom layer, a marshmallow second layer, and a chocolate/peanut butter with rice krispies top layer, how could it possibly be bad? I was so right.

The Ingredients:

1/2 C. softened butter; 3/4 C. sugar; 1 tsp. vanilla extract; 2 eggs; 3/4 C. flour; 2 Tbsp. cocoa powder; 1/4 tsp. baking powder; 1/8 tsp. salt; 1/2 C. chopped walnuts or pecans (optional); 2 C. miniature marshmallows; 1 C. semi-sweet chocolate chips; 1 C. peanut butter; 2 C. rice krispies.

We shall start with the bottom layer first. Which makes sense. Aren't you glad I'm here to tell you the obvious?

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Take the butter and the sugar and put them in the mixer.

Cream them together until they are light and fluffy and a beautiful yellow.

Add the vanilla

and the eggs (one egg at a time).

Beat them until everything is mixed together into an even prettier yellow.

In a separate small bowl, mix together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, salt and chopped nuts if your opting to use them. I opted not to because I didn't have any.

Add them to the egg mixture and mix until well combined.

Now, take a 9x13 baking dish, make sure and grease it, and add the chocolaty mixture.

Spread it evenly along the bottom of the pan. It'll be a thin layer. Please make sure and lick the spatula when you are done. That chocolateness is divine! DIVINE!

Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes. It will look like this when it is done. DO NOT EAT IT NO MATTER HOW TEMPTING!!! Cause we are so not done yet.

Now, take the 2 cups of miniature marshmallows and distribute them evenly over the chocolate brownie-like layer. Put the dish back in the oven for 3 minutes.

While you're waiting for the marshmallows to cook, start on the top layer. First, get a cup of that peanut butter goodness

And add it to a small saucepan with the chocolate chips. Start melting and stirring.

Oh, good. The marshmallows are done. Please let them cool for a few minutes.

Once the peanut butter and chocolate chips are melted, turn off the burner and...

dump in the rice krispies.

Stir together until the rice krispies are completely coated.

Evenly pour the chocolate over the marshmallows. If the marshmallows kind of get caught up in the chocolate, no worries. It'll still taste wonderful. Refrigerate for about 2 hours.

After they are nice and cold, go ahead and serve those dream bars up!

Look at those layers!!! Yum.

These were so rich and good. I couldn't really taste the peanut butter, which kind of made me sad because I super love peanut butter. Evan does not like marshmallows, so he was not a fan, because you can definitely taste that sweet marshmallow layer. I couldn't eat those all by myself, so I had to share half the pan with friends. They did not complain. :)

Monday, March 22, 2010

This Week's Menu

Monday: Chicken Pot Pie
Mashed Potatoes

Tuesday: Baked Gnocchi
Other Veggie :)

Wednesday: Meatloaf
Green Beans
Cooked Carrots

Thursday: To Be Determined

Friday: Fried Rice

Saturday: Baked Sesame Chicken

Friday, March 19, 2010

Chicken and Corn Chowder

Well, it's almost time to stop making the warm, rich soups and stews that we all love so much in my house. But, since it is still March, and today is the last day of winter(!!!), I am throwing out one last soup recipe for the season.

This was my first attempt as a chowder. I don't know why some words intimidate me when cooking, but chowder is definitely one of those words. Well, it wasn't hard at all.

The ingredients:

1 Tbsp. olive oil; 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch pieces; 3 C. thawed frozen corn; 1/2 C. coarsely chopped onion (about 1 medium); 1-2 Tbsp. water; 1 C. diced carrots; 2 Tbsp. finely chopped jalapeno peppers (optional); 1/2 tsp. ried oregano; 1/4 tsp. dried thyme; 3 C. chicken broth; 1 1/2 C. milk; 1/2 tsp. salt.

Heat the oil in a pan and then cook the chicken pieces until they are browned on both sides (about 10 minutes or so).

Heat a large pot or dutch oven. Dump in the frozen corn.

Dump in the onion. Stir them together and cook them until the onion is tender (about 5-7 minutes).

While that's cooking, look at this weird, weird carrot. It is not right.

Now, chop up your carrots (I hope you do not have a fugly one like me...ew...)

Once the corn and onion mixture has cooked through, take one cup of the mixture...

and put it in the food processor. Also, this is when you add in those 2 Tbsp. of water.

You might have to stop and spatula it back down and process it again to make sure that it's all finely chopped. Leave the mooshed corn mixture in the food processor for now.

If you are opting to, add in the jalapenos.

The thyme.

And the oregano.

Stir and then let this all cook until the corn starts to brown.

Julia's new favorite thing to do while I cook? To spin until she falls down dizzy. :)

Once the corn has browned, add in the cooked chicken.

The broth.

The milk and the processed corn mixture.

And the salt.

Stir everything together and then turn up your heat to high...

until it all starts to boil.

Once it starts boiling, turn your heat back down to low, cover the pot and let it simmer for about 15-20 minutes.

And, TA DA! You have chicken corn chowder!

We all agreed that it could have been creamier. I think next time I will use a mixture of cream and milk and also, that I will let it simmer longer so it can all break down more. I might also use canned corn instead of frozen because I think the corn didn't get soft enough.

But, it is a chowder that I will be making again. Elisabeth really liked it. She's a chowder kind of girl.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Balsamic Chicken

Balsamic Chicken. One of our all-time favorite meals in this house. It is simple. It is easy. It is delicious. It is one of those recipes that I always have the ingredients for, so if we don't know what to eat, we could always eat Balsamic Chicken.

Here are the ingredients:

2 tsp. vegetable oil; 3 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar; 2 tsp. Dijon mustard; 1 large garlic clove, crushed; 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast; 2 C. mushrooms, small, halved; 1/3 C. chicken broth; 1/4 tsp. dried thyme, crumbled.

Important Note: It does need to be a boneless, skinless chicken breast. I tried making this meal once with some chicken breasts I had that still had the bone in them and it did not work out well at all. It took too long to cook and even then, the meat ended up not thoroughly cooked.

Okay,let's get started. First, take that garlic clove...

and slice it. I know it says to crush it in the directions, and if you're good at that, then by all means, go for it. But, I always end up not smooshing it enough or smooshing the garlic to death, so I chose to slice it this time.

Now, combine 2 Tbsp. of the balsamic vinegar with the garlic...

add the Dijon mustard...

then mix it together.

Take your chicken and emerge it into the mixture, making sure it's completely coated.

Heat up the oil in a skillet. While you're waiting for it to warm up, take those mushrooms and clean them off so we can cut them up.
Hello, mushrooms. I love you.

Halve the small ones and quarter the larger ones. Then try not to eat them all right there on the spot. I really do love mushrooms. Probably more than most people.

Now, once the skillet is warm, put the chicken and the marinade in. Saute the chicken until it is cooked through, which will take about 5 minutes or so on each side. I'm sorry I have no pictures of this step, but apparently I thought it unworthy to take pictures of the chicken cooking.

Once the chicken is cooked, put it and the marinade still in the skillet on a platter and throw it into the oven and keep it warm. I keep my oven at around 180 degrees when I'm just trying to keep something warm.

Now, add a smidge more oil to the skillet and add those mushrooms.

Add the chicken broth, thyme and that last Tbsp. of balsamic vinegar.

Saute those mushrooms until they get a dark brown (about 2-3 minutes) like so:

Add the mushrooms to the chicken on the platter and you're ready to go!

Look, my dish is uneven and all the juices went to one side. Well, that's what you get when you're kitchen table is over 100 years old. :)

We served ours with asparagus and cottage cheese.

What I love about this dish is the tartness of the balsamic vinegar and the Dijon mustard. It really compliments the mushrooms and chicken, which seem to soak up the flavors.

But, this meal is not as flavorful as leftovers. I don't know why, but even when we store the leftovers in the marinade, the tastes seem to escape the chicken and mushrooms once you've reheated it to eat a couple of days later. So, it is a bit bland. Nevertheless, it's a fantastic dish!