The culinary ramblings of a picky eater.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Alfredo Pizza

There is a certain all-you-can-eat pizza buffet chain that has an alfredo pizza. Growing up...that was just about all I would eat there. It was my FAVE. :)

Now that I'm older and wiser (ha), I still like alfredo pizza. So since there is not a pizza buffet near enough to me to make it worth the effort, I decided to make my own. Crust, sauce, cheese. That's it. I know you're jealous. Just make it already and get it over with. Haha.

-Pizza Crust (I bought mine at the grocery store, but you can make your own if you're so inclined)
-Alfredo sauce (I made mine from scratch, as usual, but do whatcha gotta do)
-Shredded mozzarella cheese (you can also add a little parmesan or Italian seasoning for flavor)

Place the pizza crust on a flat surface (if it's totally raw, half bake it before moving on). Spread on some alfredo sauce. Don't make it too thick, or your pizza will be mushy. Plus, alfredo is a rich sauce...too much would make the pizza a little too rich, and not very tasty. A thinnish layer will do. Next, sprinkle on the mozzarella cheese, evenly, all over the pizza. If you're doing the parmesan and seasonings too, add those too. Bake it at 350-400 degrees until the crust is cooked completely, the cheese is all melted, and everything is delicious looking. Cut into slices and enjoy. :)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The "Original" Baked Penne Pasta

I have posted a similar recipe before (see Baked Penne). But here's a secret...that was not the original recipe I created. Nope. Our first year of marriage, as I have mentioned before, was a huge cooking experiment. This was one of the recipes I came up with that my husband actually REMEMBERS and REQUESTS from time to time. So what does that mean? I make it. Somewhat frequently. Haha. But I am sharing the original recipe. The amazing thing is that my husband can actually tell the difference between the original recipe and the other one. That is a miracle, folks, because my husband can't tell the difference between anything when it comes to food. He said that when he eats a Peanut Butter Cup, he doesn't taste peanut butter and chocolate...he tastes a "new taste" that is just "peanut butter cup." I'm not making that up. Haha.'s pretty impressive that he can tell a difference. So I'm posting the original recipe because he actually requested that I make it "like I used to." So I did. And he was happy. Now you can share the joy. :)

-Penne pasta (I use a whole box, 16 oz or whatever)
-Tomato pasta sauce (I use a whole jar/large can)
-1 8oz block cream cheese
-3/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
-1/2 cup shredded mozzrella cheese for sauce, and another cup or so to sprinkle on top before baking
-1/2 cup milk (I used 2%)

Boil a large pot of water. Cook the penne until just al dente, even slightly under done, since it will cook slightly more while baking. Drain it and set it aside.

While the pasta is cooking, melt the cream cheese in a sauce pan over medium low heat. Chopping it into chunks helps it melt a little faster. When it's melted, add the milk and stir it all to incorporate it well, so it's all one sauce, not two separate ingredients. When that's all mixed together, add the cheeses and let them melt into the sauce, stirring frequently. The mixture will be a pretty thick "sauce" that will not be very liquid-y at all. Something like this:
That's a-ok.

When the cheese sauce is all done, pour a little bit of the tomato sauce in the bottom of a 2 quart baking dish, to keep the pasta from sticking to the bottom. Add about half of the pasta. Then add about half of the cheese cause, and spread it as evenly as possible (use a light hand, because the pasta will want to stick to whatever utensil you're using to spread it. Just do the best you can, it doesn't have to be perfect). Next add about half of the remaining tomato sauce, as even a layer as possible. Add the remaining pasta, then the remaining cheese sauce (spreading again), then the remaining tomato sauce. Spread the tomato sauce as evenly as possible as well. Then sprinkle the mozzarella cheese on top of the whole thing. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes, until the cheese on top is melted and everything is hot and bubbly and delicious looking. Yummy. Serve hot and enjoy!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Parmesan Crusted Chicken

For those of you who have been around a while, you might remember my parmesan crusted porkchops from a while ago. They were yummy. It's amazing how much flavor the parmesan gives to the otherwise pretty basically breaded meat. So I thought, hey, why not try it with chicken? And of course it was wonderful.

To compliment the chicken, I cooked some red potatoes and asparagus, with some blackberries on the side. I think it turned out pretty well. My hubby also approved, so that's always good. :) I hope you like it too.

-Chicken breasts, enough to feed everyone
-Parmesan cheese, shredded, enough to coat each piece of chicken
-Egg and milk (about 1/4 cup milk per egg), enough to coat all the chicken, beaten together
-Bread crumbs, seasoned, enough to coat all the chicken (I used Italian style)
-Olive oil, about 2 tablespoons, to cook chicken in

-enough red potatoes to feed everyone, scrubbed
-asparagus, enough to feed everyone
-butter, for the potatoes, to taste
-parmesan cheese, shredded, to sprinkle over asparagus
-olive oil, to roast the asparagus

Place each chicken breast between two pieces of saran wrap. Pound it out until it's thin, about 1/2-3/4 inch thick. In three shallow dishes, pour in the parmesan, egg and milk mixture, and breadcrumbs. Dredge the chicken in each dish,
then place in olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Cook until just brown on each side, then set on a foil lined baking sheet. Finish cooking in a 400 degree oven until chicken is cooked through.

While the chicken is cooking, boil a pot of water. Add the potatoes and cook until fork tender. Drain and set aside.

On a foil lined baking sheet, spread out the asparagus in a single layer. Drizzle with olive oil, then roast in a 400 degree oven for about 5-10 minutes. Remove the asparagus from the oven, and sprinkle with the parmesan cheese. Return to the oven for another few minutes, until the cheese is melted and the asparagus is cooked through but not mushy.

When everything is cooked, serve it up together. I halve the potatoes and slather a little butter on them. I also served all this with some blackberries on the side, for good measure. :) Mmm. Hope you enjoy!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

These. are. amazing.

I mean, this hits three of my favorite types of cookies, all at the same time. How could you NOT want to eat this cookie? Or...all three dozen you made... I mean, what? I didn't do that.

I got the original recipe from I didn't change much, really. I added a teensy bit more peanut butter...cause I like more peanut butter. And I'm pretty sure the size of my cookies might have been a little bit bigger than the recipe called for. But really, I essentially followed the recipe. I'm a nervous baker. I follow baking recipes to a T most of the time, cause I'm scared of what will happen if I don't. Unless it involves chocolate chips...then I might add a few more than necessary. I apologize for the lack of process pictures...I got too busy thinking about how much I wanted to eat the cookies NOW and forgot to take pics except for at the very end. Woops. Next time I make them, I'll take pictures and add them. :)

-3/4 cup butter
-1/2 cup white sugar
-1 cup packed brown sugar
-2 eggs
-1/3 cup peanut butter
-1/4 cup water
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract
-1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
-1/2 teaspoon baking soda
-2 cups rolled oats
-1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

For this next part, I use my handy dandy stand mixer, but you don't have to. A handheld is fine. Let me take just a moment to say that I set out my ingredients early whenever possible, so that everything is room temperature when I start. Trying to mix together cold ingredients doesn't often bode well for me. That is especially true with butter. Cold butter is only good for pie crust. Haha. Ok, moving on.

Cream the butter and sugar together. When I say cream, I mean cream. NO LUMPS people! Butter and sugar should be ONE! Next, beat in the eggs, one at a time. Then comes the peanut butter. Oh, gooey goodness, yes please. Add the water and vanilla, and make sure everything is combined well, but don't overmix it or it will make a tough cookie. Haha...a tough cookie. I've been called that a time or two. Ok, moving on. Combine the flour and baking soda, and add it to the party. As an aside, if you're mixing this with an electric mixer, go slow with the flour. Flour+high speed=disaster. White will cover everything. So go slow until it's mostly mixed in. This next part, I do by hand, without the mixer. It's just easier. Stir in the oats, then the chocolate chips. Try to resist the urge to eat the dough. It will be tempting. I failed. (I know, I know, raw eggs in the dough=bad idea to eat it raw. I couldn't help myself, and they were fresh eggs!)

The recipe calls for dropping teaspoons of dough onto the baking sheet...what is that? I did rounded tablespoons, at least. Haha. Anyway, scoop the dough in equal portions onto the baking sheet, and bake for anywhere from 8-12 minutes. Mine take 12 cause they're big. The edges should be firm and starting to brown up when they're done. I let them cool just a minute or two on the baking sheet to firm up, then transfer them to a cooling rack to finish cooling. And usually, one cookie ends up disappearing before it reaches the cooling rack. I'm just saying. Someone has to do quality control testing...

These don't last long at my house, between me and my hubby. Mmm. Hope you enjoy too.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Herbed Chicken with Veggies and Rice

I was actually really excited about making this meal. I got the inspiration from a chicken recipe in the French style, although I changed it up so much I doubt what I did could be considered "French" anymore. Haha. I'm not an expert on French cooking...I just make what looks good to me, and it usually turns out alright. I DO think that cooking with herbs and chicken is a staple in French cooking, but that's probably where the comparisons to my recipe end. :)

I will say from the get-go...I used slightly too much of my herbs. It was still edible, and not a total loss, but I am going to tell you a smaller amount than what I used so you don't have that problem. It was actually still pretty tasty, despite my overzealous seasoning. Also, if you use fresh herbs as opposed to'll need more fresh herbs. Dried herbs tend to have a stronger flavor, so adjust accordingly. I used dried herbs. Over all, I think I will make this again, because it really was pretty good. Next time I'll just tone down the rosemary and thyme. This also made pretty hearty portions for my hubby and I, so scale down the amounts per person if you want. Ok, enough of that. Away we go.

-Butter, about 1/3-1/2 cup
-1 tablespoon each of rosemary and thyme, dried, for seasoning chicken, then another 1/2 teaspoon of each for seasoning later
-Chicken breasts, enough to feed everyone you need to.
-Fresh Veggies-I used broccoli, carrots, and green beans. All combined, it was probably 2-3 cups of veggies for 2 people, and it probably could have fed 3 people.
-Rice-I used white Minute rice, 2 cups uncooked. This amount will vary based on how many people you're feeding.
-Chicken broth-the amount will vary depending on how much chicken and rice you're making...I used 3 cups of broth for two chicken breasts, all my veggies, and 2 cups of uncooked rice. If you're making a meal for 4 (3-4 chicken breasts, 3-4 cups of veggies, and 3-4 cups of uncooked rice), I would recommend 4-5 cups of broth. You want enough broth to be able to simmer the veggies and chicken, and still have enough liquid for the rice to soak it up and be cooked.

Have I confused you enough yet? :)

In your largest skillet, and I mean your largest (you might even want to use a dutch oven if you're making a lot), melt the butter over medium high heat. Season the chicken lightly on both sides with rosemary and thyme. Add to the butter in the pan. Let the chicken start to cook on one side, about 5 minutes. Flip it over and let it cook another few minutes. When the butter starts to cook away, add the broth into the pan. This will keep the butter from burning and start the process of simmering the chicken. After letting the chicken simmer for a few minutes, add the veggies, chopped into relatively even sized pieces, so they'll cook evenly together. I just kinda chunked them (aka rough chopped into chunks). Cover the pan and let all the veggies and chicken simmer until they're almost done. Sprinkle the rest of the rosemary and thyme into the pan and stir it around. At this point, you want to add in the rice. Stir it around so all the rice is covered in liquid. Cover the pan again for about another 5 minutes, or until the rice is done. The rice will cook and absorb most, if not all, of the remaining liquid, so don't let it sit too long or the bottom of the pan will start to burn...meaning whatever is touching the pan, with no liquid left, will just get brown. Remove the lid and stir everything around so it's all nice and evenly distributed.

When everything is cooked and ready to go, scoop a pile of the rice and veggies onto the plate, then put the chicken on top. Serve and enjoy!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Cajun Chicken Pasta

I would just like to say that it pays to try new things.

My husband was a little hesitant when I mentioned this lovely dish as what I was making for dinner. He ate one bite and declared it one of his new favorites. Don't judge a meal by it's name...even if the name contains an ingredient that sends shivers down your spine (or in Hubby's case, burning up his taste buds). The word "Cajun" struck fear into his avoid-spicy-things heart. But all was well.

(Just as an aside, the creamy pasta sauce cuts down on the spice of the chicken, so don't be scared. :) That's also a great way to combine food-complementing flavors together. I digress. I just had to explain. :) )

So before I make a mess of this blog comes Cajun Chicken Pasta.

-Pasta-any kind will do. I used rigatoni. Hollow noodles=sauce all up in there. Yum.
-Chicken breasts-cut into bite sized pieces.
-Cajun seasoning, to taste-I used a Cajun seasoning blend, but feel free to make your own-chili powder, paprika, garlic, etc are good to start.
-Butter-about 3 tablespoons for cooking the chicken, and about 1/4 cup for the sauce.
-3 tablespoons flour
-1.5 cups cream
-1/2 cup milk (I used 2%)
-3/4 cup shredded parmesan

Boil a pot of water. Cook the pasta until al dente. Drain and set aside.

Season the chicken pieces with the Cajun seasoning. Don't be shy. Heat up the butter in a skillet over medium high heat. Cook the chicken in the butter, letting it get as brown on the outside as possible without over cooking it. Set the chicken aside.

Melt the butter for the sauce in a sauce pan or skillet over medium low heat. Add the flour and whisk in. Let the roux cook for a few minutes, stirring frequently. Add the cream and milk. Whisk until everything is well combined. Let the sauce cook for a few minutes, stirring frequently, until it starts to thicken up a bit. At that point, add the parmesan and stir it in. Let it melt through the sauce, stirring constantly, until everything is creamy and delicious. Dump the noodles and sauce into one big bowl, and coat the pasta with the sauce. Spoon the pasta onto a serving dish, then place the chicken over the top. Garnish with a little bit of shredded parmesan and enjoy. Yummy!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Spinach Tomato Chicken Rice Casserole

Chicken and rice casserole is a staple in most families' recipe repetiore. I know it is in mine. can be, well, boring. I know. So I made a little variation of the classic, so it's still easy, still accessible to most home cooks, and delicious. I told my mom I was making it, and she said that it sounded complicated, but it's not. I promise. Mom, you could totally make this. And so can all my lovely readers. :)

I don't know what your "classic" chicken and rice casserole consists of, but most of the recipes I've come across include chicken, rice, and some sort of creamed soup or something, and maybe a few other ingredients along the way. Well...instead of cream of chicken or mushroom soup, I make a sort of cream sauce instead. You'll see. Other than that, it's pretty much a dump and bake type meal. You'll see. My recipe here makes a 1.5 quart dish, but you can just add more of the ingredients to a larger dish and it'll work the same.

-Rice, 3 cups when uncooked for my version, but make more if you need to
-Chicken Breast-I used one really large one, but adjust to your family's needs
-1/2-3/4 cups frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
-canned, diced tomatoes, drained of their liquid (I actually only used about half the can, but add more if desired)
-1/4 cup butter
-3 tablespoons flour
-1 cup cream
-1 cup milk (I used 2%)
-1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
-1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
-1 tablespoon garlic powder
-1 teaspoon onion powder

Cook the rice according to package directions. Set aside in a large mixing bowl or the baking dish you're going to use.

Chop the uncooked chicken breast(s) into chunks, approximately 1-2 inch cubes. Add them to the rice in the bowl or dish.

Add the tomatoes and spinach to the rice as well.

To make the sauce, melt the butter in a sauce pan over medium low heat. Add the flour and whisk together to make a roux. Let it cook, stirring frequently, for another few minutes. Add the cream and milk, stirring to combine well. Continue cooking, stirring frequently, until the sauce begins to thicken. Add the cheeses, stirring constantly, until they have melted well into the sauce. Add the garlic and onion powder, stirring to incorporate it well. Dump the sauce over the rice and other ingredients, and stir to combine everything well. Pour the mixture into the baking dish, and level it out for even baking. Sprinkle some shredded mozzarella over the top. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. The chicken should be cooked through and the cheese melted and browned on top. Serve and enjoy!

See...I told you it was easy. :)

Mashed Potatoes with Broccoli and Cheese Sauce

Ok, so a lot of times if I need a quick easy dinner for just me, a baked potato with steamed broccoli and cheese sauce works. I altered that a little bit by using mashed potatoes instead. I mean why not? Then you don't have to worry about scooping out the yumminess from a potato skin and can just dig in. So...I did that. :)

I know it may not be the most exciting dinner ever, but hey. It works.

-Potatoes, for mashing (I use russet, and one per person, possibly one for two people)
-Broccoli, cut into florets (maybe one cup per person, or whatever you want)
-1/4 cup butter
-3 tablespoons flour
-1 cup cream
-1/2 cup milk (I use 2%)
-1.5 cups cheese (I used cheddar this time)
-salt and pepper to taste

Peel the potatoes. Cut them into chunks, about 2 inches square. Place the chunks in boiling water until tender. Drain the water out. Mash the potatoes with a potato masher. Add a little milk to make them a little smoother, if desired. Set aside.

While the potatoes are cooking, steam the broccoli florets. Set aside.

While the broccoli and potatoes are cooking, melt the butter in a sauce pan over medium low heat. Add the flour and whisk until smooth, making a roux. Let the roux cook for another few minutes, stirring frequently. Add the cream and milk, stirring to combine well. Continue cooking, stirring frequently, until the sauce has started to thicken a bit. Add the cheese, and stir to combine, letting the cheese melt into the sauce. Keep stirring it so the sauce is smooth and creamy and delicious.

Once the sauce is done, scoop the mashed potatoes onto a plate, add the broccoli, then dump the sauce over the top. Yum.