Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Lady's Cheesy Mac

My grandmother made the BEST macaroni and cheese. She never had a recipe and I never was interested enough in cooking to watch and learn. It was only after she moved into assisted living and couldn't see well enough to cook anymore that I started cooking and wished I knew how to make it.

I'm not a humongous Paula Deen fan (so much butter, so little time!) but my mom found this recipe for mac & cheese and I have to say, it's about as close as you can get to my grandma's!! She makes two little changes. First, 3 cups of cheese, not two (this is SO not a light recipe, so what the heck is an extra cup of cheese gonna hurt?!). Second, she adds some (fresh) bread crumbs tossed in melted butter. YUM!!

The Lady's Cheesy Mac

Source: Paula's Home Cooking

4 cups cooked elbow macaroni, dranied
2 cups grated cheddar (we used 3 cups of sharp cheddar)
3 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup sour cream
4 Tbsp butter, cut into pieces
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Once you have the macaroni cooked and drained, place in a large bowl and while still hot and add the cheddar. In a separate bowl, combine the remaining ingredients and add to the macaroni mixture. Pour macaroni mixture into a casserole dish and bake for 30 to 45 minutes. Top with additional cheese if desired.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

ISO: Coquito Recipe

I was recently introduced to Coquito. (if you've never heard of it, it's kind of like a Puerto Rican eggnog). I found a recipe online and made it for Christmas. It was good, but not nearly as good as the real deal stuff I had at my neighbor's house! So help a girl out! Do you have a tried and true coquito recipe (must cook the eggs, no raw stuff here!) If so, will you please post a reply or email me at: onemessychef at hotmail dot com

Thank you!!!!!!!!!

Decadent Peanut Butter Pie

A proper review of this pie would go something like "quick and easy and prepared with all of the ingredients you might have on hand. This pie is creamy, rich, and impressive." But I think I like my simplified review better.... mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm!!!!!!

Decadent Peanut Butter Pie

Recipe source: JIF Peanut Butter

1 prepared chocolate cookie crust
1 cup JIF peanut butter
8 oz cream cheese at room temperature (we used reduced fat)
1/2 cup sugar
4 1/2 cups (a 12 oz container) non-dairy whipped topping (ie: coolwhip - we used light)
1- 11.75 oz jar hot fudge ice cream topping, divided

1) In a medium bowl, beat together the peanut butter, cream cheese and sugar. Gently fold in 3 cups whipped topping. Spoon mixture into the pie shell. Using a spatula, smooth mixture to edges of pie.

2) Reserving 2 tablespoons of hot fudge, place remaining hot fudge into microwave safe bowl or glass measuring cup. Microwave for 1 minute. Stir. Spread hot fudge over pie to cover the peanut butter layer. Refrigerate until serving time. Just before serving, spread the remaining whipped topping (1 1/2 cups), over hot fudge layer, being careful not to mix the two layers.

Place the 2 Tbs. hot fudge in a small baggie and knead for a few seconds. Cut a tiny hole in the corner of the bag and drizzle over pie. Do the same with 2 Tbs. peanut butter going in the opposite direction of the hot fudge.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Roaster Oven Ham

I had never seen a roaster oven before I married my husband. His mom and grandmother both have one and they are ancient. But they ROCK. They use them all the time and I have come to appreciate their usefulness! When you're preparing a big meal (like Christmas dinner!) your ham or turkey or whatever can cook in the roaster oven and not hog up space in the oven. Very handy!

I also happen to live in Florida, so it's nice to be able to not turn the oven on at all. On at least 1 occasion, I've put the roaster oven in the garage in order to keep the kitchen cool! (side note - today is 12/26/08 and it was 80 degrees out! ACK!)

Roaster Oven Ham

Source: Hamilton Beach Website
Yield: Depends on how big your ham is

This produces a flavorful and moist ham. I've made this more than once and always with success! (works just as well with a regular ham or spiral slice)

15 pound fully cooked smoked ham
2 cups water
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup orange juice
1 cup brown sugar, packed

1. Remove rack. Pour 2 cups water into insert pan and preheat roaster oven to 325°F.

2. Trim thick part of fat off of ham down to 1/4-inch. Score remaining layer of fat into diamond design; this will help hold glaze.

3. Place ham on rack and place in roaster. Combine remaining ingredients to make glaze. Bake 1 hour.

4. Remove cover and spoon half of glaze over ham. Replace cover and bake 1 more hour.

5. Remove cover and spoon remaining glaze over ham. Replace cover, increase temperature to 400°F and bake for 10 minutes to set glaze. Internal temperature of ham should be at least 140°F.

Broccoli w/Caramelized Shallots

The chopping and saute time was worth it for this side dish. It tastes rich, but it's light! I will repeat this recipe!

Broccoli with Caramelized Shallots

Source: Eating Well Magazine January/February 1994
Yield: 4 servings

Despite the scorn of former presidents and children, broccoli is America's second most popular green vegetable. Not only does it belong to the cancer-fighting cruciferous family, it is an excellent source of vitamins.

2 tablespoons walnut pieces
1 1/2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup sliced shallots, thinly sliced (4-5 large shallots)
salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
1 bunch broccoli (1 1/2 lbs), cut into florets (5 cups)

1. Preheat oven to 450F.
2. Place walnuts in a pie plate and toast in the oven 5 minutes, or until fragrant. Transfer to a small bowl.
3. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Add shallots and cook, stirring often, until deep golden brown, about 10 minutes. (Add a tablespoon or two of water if the mixture gets too dry.) Season with salt and pepper.
4. Meanwhile, cook broccoli in boiling salted water until just tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Drain the broccoli and add to the shallots in the skillet; toss to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings. Transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle with the toasted walnuts.

Per serving: 117 calories; 5 g fat (1 g sat, 2 g mono); 0 mg cholesterol; 16 g carbohydrate; 6 g protein; 5 g fiber; 123 mg sodium; 703 mg potassium.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Asiago, Potato, and Bacon Gratin

I don't know how in the world I haven't made this recipe before now!?! These are a little bit of work, but are VERY tasty. Picture a twice baked potato, but in a casserole... with a LOT more ooey-gooey cheese! YES! You can taste it, can't you?! This is one of those dishes where you just want to stand at the stove with a fork. I'll be making this one again and again!

Asiago, Potato, and
Bacon Gratin

Maybe more so than other foods, potatoes need salt. Instead of salting the water they boil in, sprinkle the potatoes with salt after draining. Then salt the white sauce separately for the most pronounced flavor.

Yield: 6 servings
Source: Cooking Light, April 2004

1 1/2 pounds peeled Yukon gold potatoes, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
1 teaspoon salt, divided
Cooking spray
2 tablespoons minced shallots
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups 1% low-fat milk, divided
3/4 cup (3 ounces) grated Asiago cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled
1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated fresh Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350°.

Place potatoes in a large saucepan; cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 5 minutes or until potatoes are almost tender. Drain. Sprinkle potatoes evenly with 1/4 teaspoon salt; set aside and keep warm.

Heat a medium saucepan coated with cooking spray over medium heat. Add shallots; cook 2 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently. Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Sprinkle flour over shallots. Gradually add 1/2 cup milk, stirring with a whisk until well blended. Gradually add remaining 1 1/2 cups milk, stirring with a whisk. Cook over medium heat 9 minutes or until thick, stirring frequently. Remove from heat; stir in 3/4 teaspoon salt, Asiago, chives, pepper, and bacon.

Arrange half of potato slices in an 8-inch square baking dish coated with cooking spray. Pour half of cheese sauce over potato slices. Top with remaining potato slices and cheese sauce; sprinkle with Parmesan. Bake at 350° for 35 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and lightly browned.

Calories: 250 (30% from fat), Fat:8.2g (sat 4.6g,mono 2.7g,poly 0.5g), Protein: 12.3g, Carbohydrate: 31.9g, Fiber: 2.3g, Cholesterol: 23mg, Iron: 0.9mg, Sodium: 618mg, Calcium: 306mg

Seared Beef Tenderloin with Dijon and Herbs

This recipe was classy, classic, and EASY!! The cooking time was just right on. The ends were medium-well and the middle was medium-rare. I used the best utensil in the kitchen to dress the beef - my hands! I smeared the mustard on and then did the old sprinkle/pat routine to get the herbs to stick. I was a little afraid that the flavor would be too strong, but it was just right! (and whatever you do, use fresh herbs!!)

PS: Don't mind the weird shape of the beef! I think the butcher was drinking when he cut it! :)

Seared Beef Tenderloin
with Dijon and Herbs

An herb-mustard coating is a classic preparation for beef tenderloin. Add one teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon to the herb mixture, if desired. Serve with roasted potatoes and Brussels sprouts for an easy yet special dinner for guests.

Yield: 8 servings
Source: Cooking Light Magazine, November 2008

1 (2-pound) beef tenderloin, trimmed
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Cooking spray
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

1. Preheat oven to 425°.

2. Sprinkle beef with salt and pepper. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add beef to pan; cook 2 minutes on each side or until browned.

3. Combine mustard and garlic in a small bowl. Rub mustard mixture evenly over beef. Combine parsley, rosemary, and thyme in a small bowl. Sprinkle beef evenly with parsley mixture. Place beef on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 425° for 26 minutes or until a thermometer registers 135° or until desired degree of doneness. Place tenderloin on a platter; let stand 10 minutes before slicing.

Calories: 149 (32% from fat), Fat: 5.3g (sat 2g,mono 2.1g,poly 0.2g), Protein: 22.3g, Carbohydrate: 1.4g, Fiber: 0.1g, Cholesterol: 52mg, Iron: 1.5mg, Sodium: 404mg, Calcium: 19mg

Merry Christmas!!

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah to all of you :) We've been busy in the kitchen! I have a ton of recipes to post, but first a rundown of the menus! Stay tuned... I'll be posting the recipes as I have a chance to!

Christmas Eve:
- Seared Beef Tenderloin with Dijon and Herbs (CL)
- Asiago, Potato, and Bacon Gratin (CL)
- Broccoli with Caramelized Shallots (EW)
- Dinner Rolls (from the freezer... I'm afraid of yeast!)
- Lemon Meringue Pie (CI)

Christmas Day:
- Cranberry Muffins (family recipe)
- Roaster Oven Ham (Hamilton Beach)
- The Lady's Cheesy Mac (Food Network)
- Dotsie's Sweet Potato Casserole (family recipe)
- Pumpkin Pie (back of the pumpkin can recipe!)
- Cranberry Apple Bake (family recipe)

Day after Christmas:
- Baked Ziti (recipezaar)
- Kitencal's Italian Melt-in-your-mouth Meatballs (recipezaar)
- Spaghetti w/marinara (homemade by mom - no recipe)
- Homemade garlic bread
- Salad
- Decadent Peanut Butter Pie (Jif)
- Turtle Pumpkin Pie (Jello/Coolwhip)

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Cranberry Muffins

Cranberry Muffins

This recipe comes from my maternal grandmother. I don't really have any memories of her cooking, but my mom carried this recipe on and I certainly am glad! These muffins are our traditional Christmas morning breakfast (along with scrambled eggs and bacon).

1 cup cranberries, halved
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup melted butter

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2) Combine the cranberries and 1/2 cup sugar and set aside.
3) Combine the flour, baking soda, salt, and 1/4 cup sugar in a bowl.
4) Combine egg, buttermilk, and melted butter.
5) Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture. Pour in the wet ingredients and mix until just wet.
6) Add the sugared cranberries and stir until just combined (don't overstir or the muffins will be tough!)
7) Fill muffin cups 3/4 of the way full and bake at 400 for 20 minutes.

Yield: 12 muffins

Banana Mini-Muffins

Banana Mini-Muffins
These muffins are adapted from a recipe I found online. I was feeling guilty about eating the calories in an entire muffin, so I decided to make them into mini-muffins! I do NOT like bananas in most forms, but I do like these muffins! The first time I made these, I estimated about 36 mini muffins, but this time I think I got closer to 48! Make sure not to fill the tins too full!

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large bananas, mashed
3/4 cup white sugar
1 egg
1/3 cup butter, melted
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Coat muffin pans with non-stick spray, or use paper liners. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

2) In a large bowl, combine bananas, sugar, egg, melted butter, cinnamon, and vanilla. Add flour mixture, and beat until smooth. Scoop into muffin pans.

3) Bake in preheated oven. Bake mini muffins for 13 to 15 minutes (or if you want - large muffins for 25 to 30 minutes.) Muffins will spring back when lightly tapped and be slightly browned on top.

Nutritional Info:
For large muffin: 188 cals, 5g fat, 1.2g fiber
For each mini: 16 cals, .5g fat, .2g fiber

Friday, December 19, 2008

Chinese New Year Cookies

Chinese New Year Cookies

Every Christmas, these cookies appear in my mom's kitchen. I'm not quite sure where they got their name and origin, but they are SUPER easy to make and everyone loves them!!

This year I made them for our neighborhood cookie swap. I made 10 dozen in about 20 minutes! That's my kind of "baking"!!

PS: They don't need to be refrigerated once they are set.

6 oz butterscotch chips
6 oz chocolate chips (semi-sweet)
3 oz chow mein noodles
7.25 oz salted peanuts (cocktail, not roasted)

1) Melt chocolate chips and butterscotch chips together.
2) Mix in noodles and peanuts.
3) Drop by spoonfuls onto wax paper.
4) Chill in refrigerator until set.

Yield: approximately 2 dozen cookies

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Spinach Post Mortem...

I'm happy to report that I used the rest of last night's spinach today and YUM. I made an omlette with the spinach/mushrooms, the leftover caramelized onions, and Swiss cheese. Served with leftover roasted potatoes that doubled as hash browns. Happiness!! I'm glad I had them on hand...

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Sauteed Wild Mushrooms with Spinach

Tonight's dinner was, in spite of myself, pretty tasty! I bought ground beef 2 nights ago to make Italian Burgers from a recent Cooking Light. Took the beef out and it looked like it was working on growing legs, sooooooooo plain burgers from the freezer made an appearance. The only actual recipe that got made was this one for Sauteed Wild Mushrooms with Spinach. We're seriously lacking in the green/vegetable department, so this was perfect!!

For this recipe, I used an 8oz carton of sliced button mushrooms and an 8oz carton of creminis. You definitely need to sautee the spinach in batches. It looks like a ton, but it's really not. The spinach comes out flavorful, but not overly flavorful. I also felt that it needed a pinch or 2 of salt at the end. This recipe isn't earth shattering, but it was tasty and a nice mild side item for dinner!

Source: Quick Fix Meals with Robin Miller (Food Network)
Yield: 4 to 6 servings

2 teaspoons olive oil
1/4 cup minced shallots
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups mixed wild mushrooms (any combination of shiitake, porcini, chanterelle, oyster, portobello, and cremini)
3 tablespoons dry sherry wine
1 1/2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 (10-ounce) bags fresh spinach

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add shallots and garlic and saute 1 minute. Add mushrooms and cook 3 to 5 minutes, until mushrooms are tender. Add sherry and soy sauce and bring to a simmer. Add spinach (add spinach in batches if necessary), and simmer 1 to 2 minutes, until spinach wilts, turning frequently.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Tortilla Soup

I feel like I'm on a never-ending quest for quick, easy, and healthy meals! I subscribe to 648 million magazines - 95% of which are food related. I read them or shuffle through them and then they go in this big basket in the kitchen. So my new year's resolution this year is going to be to sort through them and actually COOK from them! I've started a bit before 2009 and am starting with this winner from Eating Well Magazine's September/October 2008 issue.

This recipe fit all 3 of my needs - it was quick, easy, and healthy! AND it was darn tasty!! The chicken thigh is normally not part of my repertoire, but it was perfect in this soup - so tender! My peppers had a little kick to them, but that's ok because we like it a little spicy. I suspect I didn't do a good enough job getting the seeds out, but oh well! I served this soup with little mini cheese quesadillas that I made with the extra corn tortillas and cheese that I had! YUM!

Source: Eating Well Magazine
Yield: 6 servings (about 1 1/3 cup each)

8 corn tortillas, halved and thinly sliced
Canola or olive oil cooking spray
1 tablespoon canola oil
3 Anaheim or poblano peppers, diced
1 medium onion, diced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces (see Tip)
4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes with green chiles
2 tablespoons lime juice
½ cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro

1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
2. Spread tortilla strips in an even layer on a baking sheet and coat with cooking spray. Bake until browned and crispy, 12 to 15 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add peppers and onion and cook, stirring, until the onion begins to soften, 3 to 5 minutes. Add cumin and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add chicken, broth, tomatoes and their juice. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in lime juice. Serve each portion topped with some of the baked tortilla strips, Cheddar and cilantro.

Tip: To trim boneless, skinless chicken thighs, we like to use kitchen shears to snip the fat away from the meat.

Nutrition Information
Per serving: 288 calories; 12 g fat (4 g sat, 4 g mono); 56 mg cholesterol; 25 g carbohydrate; 20 g protein; 5 g fiber; 483 mg sodium; 404 mg potassium.
Nutrition bonus: Vitamin A (40% daily value), Iron (15% dv).
1 1/2 Carbohydrate Servings
Exchanges: 1 starch, 1 vegetable, 2 lean meat, 1 fat

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Gratin of Cauliflower with Gruyere

One thing about me, I can't pass up a good deal! I am the coupon queen and I love sales!!! So after Thanksgiving when the turkeys went on sale for dirt cheap, I scooped one up. I cooked it last night in my roaster oven (love the roaster oven!!) and needed some good sides to go with it! I made cornbread and sausage stuffing. That was a first for me. I think I need a do-over because mine was a bit too crumbly, but the flavor rocked! This recipe coming up, however, was my hands down favorite. SO GOOD.

A few changes - I used swiss because I couldn't find Gruyere in my dinky Publix. I was a little heavy handed with the cheese. I was also heavy handed with the chives, which I think was a definite good idea. I used FF milk because that's all we had in the house. This recipe was SO SO GOOD. Please try it and tell me what you think!!

Gratin of Cauliflower with Gruyère

Gruyère's nutty, earthy flavor is a nice match for subtle cauliflower, and crisp breadcrumbs add texture. Substitute broccoli for the cauliflower, if you prefer. You can prepare all the elements for the dish a day ahead, if necessary. Refrigerate the sauce, the cauliflower, and the breadcrumb mixture separately, and simply assemble before baking. 

1 medium head cauliflower, trimmed and cut into florets (about 2 pounds)
Cooking spray
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
2 teaspoons butter
1/3 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded Gruyère cheese, divided
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 garlic clove, minced
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups 2% reduced-fat milk
3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 400°.

2. Place cauliflower in a 2-quart broiler-safe baking dish lightly coated with cooking spray; coat cauliflower with cooking spray. Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt; toss. Bake at 400° for 30 minutes or until almost tender. Cool 5 minutes.

3. Preheat broiler.

4. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat. Stir in panko. Stir in 1/4 cup cheese and chives.

5. Heat a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add onion to pan; sauté 4 minutes or until almost tender, stirring frequently. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add flour; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Gradually add milk, stirring with a whisk; bring to a boil. Cook 3 minutes or until thick, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; stir in remaining 1/4 cup cheese, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, parsley, and pepper. Pour milk mixture over cauliflower mixture; toss. Top evenly with cheese mixture. Broil 3 minutes or until golden brown and thoroughly heated.

Yield:  6 servings (serving size: 2/3 cup)

CALORIES 161 (34% from fat); FAT 6g (sat 3.6g,mono 1.7g,poly 0.3g); IRON 1mg; CHOLESTEROL 20mg; CALCIUM 233mg; CARBOHYDRATE 18g; SODIUM 295mg; PROTEIN 9.7g; FIBER 3.6g
Cooking Light, NOVEMBER 2008


Before I go nuts posting food, I should introduce myself, huh!? My name is Amy. I'm 31 years old, married, mother of a 5 month old little girl named Sydney. We all live in St. Augustine, FL. I work in IT but I have secret passions for cooking. I play the lottery every week in hopes that I can one day quit my job and go to culinary school. We all know how well that plan is gonna work out, huh?! So to indulge my need for all things culinary, I cook at home!

When I was pregnant with Sydney, I had horrific morning sickness. But it wasn't the kind that only hit in the morning. It was all-day-sickness. And I wasn't one of the lucky ones that felt better once the first trimester was over, oh no, that would have taken all the fun out of being pregnant! I was well into the 3rd trimester before the nausea and puking ended and by that point, I was gigantic (wanna see my semi-uncovered baby belly??) so there was no way in hell I was standing in the kitchen to make dinner. We ate an awful lot of waffles. And cereal. And chicken tenders from the freezer. Oh and taquitos, can't forget the taquitos!

Anywho - now that the baby is on a semi-routine, it's time for me to get back into the kitchen! During this year hiatus, we've eaten out way too much. It's both expensive and unhealthy, and we simply can't continue like this!!

Now why the title of my blog?! All the good ones are taken ;) Seriously, though, I'm a disaster in the kitchen. I make a horrific mess when I'm cooking. I don't know why, it's just who I am. I cook with gusto!! I always clean up, and have a fantastic dishwasher (my husband!)... and it's almost always worth it! (I'll post a few stinkers now and then, I'm sure!).

So sit down, buckle up, and enjoy the ride through my culinary adventures, mishaps, and mess! I hope you're hungry!!