11.27.2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

Michigan bound!

What a whirlwind of a week! I love the holidays, but living across the country from my entire family can be hard, especially this time of year. Luckily, I work for a show that breaks for Thanksgiving, so I was able to go back home (sans laptop...GASP!) for 5 days.  There was so much prepping, cooking, eating, drinking, catching up, shopping, playing with puppies and and meeting Magic Johnson, I am exhausted! I could definitely use a vacation from my vacation.

Yep, that's right! Magic!

Love seeing these two faces when I go home! Duke does too!

For the first time, I was actually trusted enough to help plan and cook Thanksgiving dinner with my sister, Jen.  I thought this would be a great opportunity to work with a Thanksgiving dinner veteran to get some new dishes on the blog. I had this  great idea that I was going to blog and document every dish we made.  Yeahhh...was I ever clueless as to how much work went into making this  feast and completely oblivious as to how incredibly busy we were going to be! 

Once family members started to arrive and it began to get chaotic, in an effort to salvage the blog, I thought I would just take final photos. Before I knew it, pies were being put in bedrooms because there was no room in the kitchen! I'd like to say I decided to just set the blog aside and focus on the food, but in reality, I just got so in the zone, I forgot.

Turkey!

Overall dinner was a HUGE success...minus the part when I had to microwave some of the turkey because it got cold. BUT I blame my family for spending longer on appetizers than my sister and I anticipated. Whoops!! Luckily, it was still delicious and everyone enjoyed.  I was able to get some photos of one new dish my sister and I tackled together, Sweet Potato Souffle. That post detailing how we almost broke my sisters Kitchen Aid Mixer to come later this week.

Waiting patiently for droppings

I wanted to share a very sweet and touching toast my Grandpa Irv gave at dinner. As the head of the family, you can tell just how proud he is of all of us. I hope you all got to have as great of a holiday as I did!


11.16.2012

Great Aunt Bea's Sweet & Sour Brisket


Well, who would have thought that making a brisket so tender and full of flavor was easy??!! Not me! The hardest part of this meal was actually finding a grocery store that carried beef brisket.  After Googling from the parking lot of the 2nd grocery store I went to, I found Mr. Kosher Meats who supplied me with this 4.6lb all beef brisket. Yes, this was the smallest one they had. 

I make a lot of chicken and a lot of dishes that have ground turkey as the main meat source. It was time to finally learn how to make something more challenging and what better than my Great Aunt Bea's  brisket recipe?  This meal did require a trip to Bed Bath & Beyond because a roasting pan, I did not have.  I also bought an electric carving knife, but low and behold, this brisket was so tender, J was able to use a regular carving knife to slice it.

My sister, my aunt and I when we went to see the Statue of Liberty.
Check out the Twin Towers behind us...crazy!
My great Aunt Bea was an amazing woman who just recently passed away at the age of 99. She lived in NYC and her brisket was always a staple when we went to visit. I was lucky enough to spend the summer of 2011 in NYC for work and I got to spend a lot of time with her. I'd give anything to be able to call her now and tell her what a success the brisket was. I know she would be proud. 

I also owe a BIG thank you to my sister, Jen, and my mom for all their help and guidance while making this. I might have called & texted them A LOT.

Great Aunt Bea's Sweet & Sour Brisket
Serves: 4-6 (depending on the size)
Cook time: 3 hours 
How difficult was this for Rachel? Surprisingly easy!

Ingredients
1 all beef brisket, flat cut (recommended 4 lbs)
1 bag small carrots
2 Russet potatoes, sliced

Sauce
2 large yellow onions
2 garlic cloves
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white vinegar
1 cup ketchup
salt & pepper to taste

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees


Combine all ingredients under sauce in a blender. Blend until completely smooth.


In a very well greased roasting pan, place carrots &  potatoes evenly along the bottom.


Pour 1/3 of the sauce over potatoes & carrots and mix well so your potatoes don't burn in the oven.


Place brisket on top of carrots & potatoes.
Please ignore our leftover Halloween candy that made it into the upper right hand corner of the photo.


Pour the rest of the sauce over the meat. Make sure to completely cover.


Cover the pan in tinfoil and bake for at least 3 hours. 


Our oven cooks quickly, be sure to check your meat before carving, hence the slice in the middle.
Your potatoes and carrots should also be very tender.
Carve going against the grain, you may have to cut corner to corner.

Serve immediately!

Maple Sausage, Egg & Waffle Casserole


You HAVE to make this breakfast casserole this weekend. Seriously, there is no discussion! This was absolutely amazing and possibly my new favorite breakfast dish. It was easy and such a fun take on traditional eggs. The best part was this makes enough to last the weekend! In an effort to be healthier, I used turkey sausage, wheat waffles, low-fat cheese & skim milk. It still tasted amazing!! If you're not a sausage fan, bacon or even veggies (if you care to be healthier) can easily be substituted. Plain Chicken recommended to make the dish the night before because it needs to be refrigerated for an hour before baking. I, of course, ignored that warning when I should have listened. It was horrible waiting that hour when all I wanted to do was eat it! Big thanks to Plain Chicken  for this awesome new recipe staple and next time, I will listen to you!

Maple Sausage, Egg & Waffle Casserole 
Serves: 4-6 depending on the size of your piece
Cook time according to Rachel: 2 hours 
How difficult was this for Rachel? Easy!

Ingredients:
6 frozen wheat Eggo waffles
8 ounces crumbled turkey sausage
1 cup reduced fat shredded cheddar cheese
6 large eggs
1 1/4 cup skim milk
1/4 cup maple syrup
salt & pepper

Note: I bought 1 package pre-cooked crumbled turkey sausage and it was delicious and easy


Directions:
Grease an 8 x 8 baking dish


"Cube" the waffles. AKA chop em up


Line the bottom of the dish with the cubed waffles. Add sausage and then layer on cheese.


In a medium mixing bowl, combine eggs, syrup, milk, salt & pepper. Whisk until completely mixed.


Pour egg mix evenly over the casserole. 
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight OR for 1 hour.


Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Bake for 45-50 mins until eggs are cooked and cheese is melted.


J and I added a little extra syrup over our pieces and I definitely recommend doing that!

11.12.2012

Enchilada Lasagna



I might have found my new favorite dish. This was absolutely amazingly delicious. Even J said this was in his top 5 favorite things I have ever made. I love Mexican food and am always looking for fun new recipes.  I also love being able to substitute lighter ingredients and have the end result still taste AMAZING.


Now, usually when a recipe makes enough to last more than 2 nights, I get sick of it. With this dish, that was not the case. Both J and I were upset on night #3 when it was gone.  I will definitely be making this dish again...and soon! Big thanks to Taste of Home for my new favorite recipe!

Enchilada Lasagna
Serves: 6
Cook time according to Taste of Home: 45 minutes
Cook time according to Rachel: 1 hour
How difficult was this for Rachel to make? Pretty easy!

Ingredients 
1 lb lean ground turkey
1 large onion, chopped
1 large green pepper, chopped
1 large red pepper, chopped
1 pkg (8 ounces) fat free cream cheese
1 tsp chili powder
1 can (10 ounces) enchilada sauce
4 whole wheat tortillas (8 inches)
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded reduced fat Mexican cheese
Salsa & sour cream optional                          
Directions:


Preheat oven to 400 degrees


In a large skillet (I really need to get a bigger one) cook the turkey, onion and peppers until turkey is no longer pink. You'll notice I had to omit the peppers. I bought the ingredients for this meal and due to some late nights at work, this meal kept getting put off until the peppers were no longer good. Honestly though, I don't think the dish really needed them.
Make sure to stir constantly to avoid the onions burning.
Drain and return to low heat.


Add in cream cheese and chili powder. Stir well. Once completely mixed in, remove from heat.


In a shallow bowl (clearly, I ignore the shallow bowl suggestion) pour in enchilada sauce. Coat both sides of 2 tortillas and place in the bottom of a 9x13 greased baking dish side by side.


Pour in half of the turkey mix and spread evenly.


Sprinkle with half the cheese. Repeat the layers.
I mean, LOOK AT THAT. 


Bake uncovered for 20-25 minutes until cheese is fully melted.


I just came off 3 nights of eating this and I still want more. 

11.09.2012

Hummus-Crusted Chicken


Hummus-Crusted Chicken. Hummus. Crusted. Chicken.  Gimme Some Oven, you are a GENIUS! This was an awesome alternative to regular old chicken. It was full of flavor and kept the chicken tender and juicy while baking. How did I not think of this before? Gimme Some Oven used zucchini, lemon and onion as their base. I opted for carrots and broccoli simply because I already had them on tap. As far as chicken goes, this is probably one of my favorite recipes. And did I mention it was SUPER EASY? Even better! The only thing I wished while eating this was I had put a thicker coat of hummus on top!

Hummus-Crusted Chicken
Serves: 2
Cook time according to Gimme Some Oven: 25-30 mins
Cook time according to Rachel: 35-40 mins
How difficult was this for Rachel to make? Easy!

Ingredients:   

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
veggies of choice for bottom layer
1 cup hummus
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp smoked paprika or sumac





Directions:


Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Prepare baking dish with cooking spray


Lay veggies in a single layer on bottom of pan. Drizzle olive oil over veggies. 
Season chicken with salt & pepper and lay over veggies
(Next time, I might add some seasonings to the veggies)


Add hummus to the top of chicken breasts. It's not the worst thing in the world for a little extra hummus to fall on the veggies


Lightly sprinkle paprika on top of chicken. I am still working on mastering the "lightly sprinkle" part.


Bake chicken for 30-35 minutes until no longer pink. Serve immediately!
                            

11.05.2012

Guest Post! Low-Cal Fettuccine Alfredo

 Welcome to another Guest Post!  Everyone, meet my dear friend, Kristen!

     

Thanks for the post Kristen! Can't wait to try!


Hi Everyone, I am one of Rachel’s friends from college. We met my sophomore year and I was always known as “the blonde.” If any of you had my cooking back then you would understand why because I couldn’t cook very many things (I had to call one of my family members to find out what stuff meant in the recipe) and when I did I usually either forgot an ingredient or made a huge mess out of the kitchen. 

A lot has changed since my husband and I started living together two years ago. At the beginning I could either make tacos or spaghetti because my mom talked me through how to brown meat over the phone. After a few weeks of only eating tacos, spaghetti or carry-out I decided I needed more variety to our meals. 


So on my quest to find more ideas of what to cook I subscribed to the Food Network Magazine (with hopes that I would also become a better cook) and stumbled across this recipe for a Low-Cal Fettuccine Alfredo. I tried this recipe once and it was pretty easy and the best thing was that my husband liked it to. Since then I have made it several times and we always have leftovers which is always a plus.

Now...on to the recipe!

Low-Cal Fettuccine Alfredo
Serves: 3-4
Cook time according to Food Network: 25 minutes
Cook time according to Kristen: 30 mins
How difficult was this for Kristen? Easy

Ingredients:
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 clove garlic, minced
(I cheated, used pre-chopped)
1 tsp grated lemon zest 
(I cheated and did tsp of lemon juice)
2 tsp all-purpose flour
1 cup low-fat milk
Kosher salt
2 tsps Neufchtel or low-fat cream cheese
3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese, + topping
3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
2/3 box fettuccine noodles
Cooked chicken (optional)

Directions:
Boil pot of water.
While pot is boiling begin to make the sauce:

Melt butter in skillet over medium heat. Add garlic & lemon zest and cook for aprox 1 min


Add in flour and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon
(I'm not sure why the wooden spoon is necessary,  but I did it)
Whisk in the milk and 3/4 tsp salt & cook, whisking constantly until thickened, aprox 3 mins


Add cream cheese & parmesan cheese & whisk until melted.


Stir in chopped parsley & cooked chicken. Lower cooking temp to low.


Your pot of water should be boiling by now. Add noodles to the pot. 
Follow directions on package and cook till al dente
Watch the clock so you don't over cook them. I've done this quite a few times.


Drain out excess water but keep 1 cup of water to the side.
Pour sauce over the noodles and stir in 1/2 cup of the cooking water.
Add more water as needed.


Enjoy!


Meet my Sous Chef Lucky! Always anxiously waiting for me to accidentally drop something.