The culinary ramblings of a picky eater.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Spaghetti with garlic butter sauce

This is probably one of the easiest pasta meals ever. Seriously. It's tasty, in my opinion, too, so that's even better. I made this because I was exhausted and didn't feel like cooking, but needed food. So there you have it. Haha.

Spaghetti (I used whole wheat, so it's kinda "brown" looking)
Garlic powder
Italian seasoning

Boil a pot of water. Cook pasta till al dente. Drain.

In a microwave safe dish, or in a small sauce pan, melt enough butter to cover the pasta. Add in garlic powder to taste, and then Italian seasoning to taste. Stir to combine well.

Pour the butter sauce over the pasta, and toss it to coat the pasta. Sprinkle some grated parmesan cheese on top. Serve while still warm. Don't add too much or it will be an overwhelming butter taste. You want it to just coat the pasta, not drowning it. :)


Thursday, May 20, 2010

Tomato Bisque with Grilled Cheese

Ok, I'm making an announcement. I ate butternut squash! Yes I did. It's in this soup. And it's covered up halfway by tomato, but hey. It's in there. Haha. And if you have kiddos who won't eat it, this is a good way to sneak it in. And it made a lot, probably about 2.5 quarts. It would feed a pretty big group. Just so you know. Haha. I'll be freezing some. :)

This is actually pretty tasty. I love to do tomato soup with grilled cheese sandwiches, but condensed canned soup gets old. So I decided to try making my own. I found a cool recipe on Mel's Kitchen Cafe, but it contained butternut squash. I was hesitant at first. I don't do squash. I decided to try it, but altered it a bit to make it my own. So...give it a try, even if you're "persnickety," because it's really pretty good. Here we go.

2 cans of tomato puree
1 butternut squash, for about 2-2.5 cups of cooked squash
2 cups of chicken broth
1.5 cups cream or half and half
2 teaspoons onion powder
3 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons italian seasoning
2 teaspoons dried basil

Cut the squash in half. Scoop out the seeds and pulp, and place them cut side down in a baking dish (mine was about 9 x 13). Pour in just enough water to come up about 1/4 inch onto the squash. I used about 3 cups of water. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes to an hour. When the flesh is tender and you can poke a fork into it easily, it's done. Take the squash out of the baking dish and put them on a plate or a cutting board to cool. After about 15 minutes of cooling, scoop the insides of the squash out. It'll look something like this:

Put the squash into a blender with about 3/4 of one of the cans of tomato puree. Blend it together until the squash is smooth. Dump the squash puree with the remaining tomato puree into a large pot. Heat it over medium/low heat. Add the garlic, onion, and seasonings, and stir well to combine. It will be pretty thick, kinda like a thick pasta sauce. Add the chicken broth, which will significantly thin it out. It will still be thick, just more soup texture. Let it heat up, letting the flavors meld together. Add the cream or half and half and mix it in well. Don't let it simmer or boil, or the cream/half and half will curdle. Eww. Haha. Stirring frequently will help with that.

Spoon the warm soup into a bowl, and garnish with a little shredded mozzarella. Serve it with a simple grilled cheese, and enjoy! Yum!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Tortellini Alfredo with Chicken

Mmmm tortellini. I mean, pasta stuffed with something is always awesome, right? I think so. It's even awesomer (is that a word? It is now. Hehe) when it's covered in creamy, cheesy goodness...also known as alfredo sauce. Haha.

You could totally do that without meat of any kind, but I try to throw some protein in there when I can. So I just grilled up some chicken and tossed it on top. This was pretty easy, so away we go.

Tortellini (I used store bought refrigerated tortellini)
Alfredo sauce (made from can see my recipe for alfredo sauce here-just don't add the spinach)
Chicken breast, grilled

Cut the grilled chicken into bite sized pieces. Boil a pot of water and cook the tortellini until al dente. Drain. Make the alfredo sauce. Put the chicken on top of the pasta. Pour the sauce over the top. Enjoy. Yum! Told you it was easy. :)

Monday, May 17, 2010

Strawberry Spinach Salad

For anyone that knows me, you know I'm not a salad girl. In fact, most of the time, I can't stand just eating lettuce with some dressing for a meal, and I even have a hard time sometimes eating it as a "first course" before my meal. I'm just not a huge fan of leafy greens. That, and if I do eat it, I have to smother it with toppings and dressing, completely negating the purpose of a salad. I might as well just take a bowl of ranch dressing and dip some croutons in it.

I was first introduced to this salad on Easter, when my friend Beth brought it to Easter dinner. It was awesome. I think I actually got seconds. I know, getting seconds of SALAD. Preposterous. I unashamedly asked her for the recipe when dinner was over, and she emailed it to me. She got it from, and the recipe is here. It was so good, I really was actually excited to make it again. I put it off for a bit for various reasons, but I put it on my meal plan for today, and I have been anxiously awaiting Monday since I made the plan and bought the ingredients on my grocery trip. I know, I'm a nerd. Haha. Since it's made with spinach, it's good for you. And since it has strawberries, it's yummy. And the's amazing. So seriously...make this salad.

2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon minced onion (or...1 teaspoon onion powder like I used)
10 ounces fresh spinach - rinsed, dried and torn into bite-size pieces
1 quart strawberries - cleaned, hulled and sliced
1/4 cup almonds, blanched and slivered

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the sesame seeds, poppy seeds, sugar, olive oil, vinegar, paprika, Worcestershire sauce and onion (powder). I actually poured everything into a pourable container with a lid, so I could mix it, pour it, and store it all in one container. And I just shook it up in the container instead of whisking it. It will look something like this: Once it's mixed up, cover it and chill for one hour. I personally didn't chill it. I was too anxious to eat it, but if you have the willpower, go for it. It just gets better with age. ;)

In a large bowl, combine the spinach, strawberries, and almonds. Pour the dressing over the salad, and toss it all together. Refrigerate 10 to 15 minutes before serving. I actually don't pour the dressing on until I'm going to eat it, and I don't refrigerate it either. Once again...impatience wins the day. Haha. But feel free. I'm sure it's wonderful either way. Seriously, wonderful. Yummmmm.

BBQ Stuffed Baked Potatoes

Ok, so...I'm originally from TX. This kind of thing is "normal" there. If you've never had a BBQ stuffed baked potato, you should try it. The BBQ can be beef or pork or chicken or whatever, but shredded is best. I guess the correct BBQ terminology would be "pulled pork" or something, but whatever. Haha. Shredded up beef or pork or chicken, mixed with some BBQ sauce, dumped into a large baked potato. Amazing.

-Large baking potatoes, one for each person eating. (I used russets that were monstrous)
-cheese, shredded (I used colby jack)
-sour cream (if desired)
-shredded BBQ meat, already cooked and hot

Bake the potatoes in your favorite method. Some prefer microwave (poke some steam holes in the skin and cover with plastic wrap and microwave for about 7-8 minutes for a large potato, and let sit for 2 minutes before unwrapping), some prefer oven baking (Poke steam holes in skin, wrap in foil, and bake at 350 for an hour or so, until the insides are soft). Whatever your method, bake it. Haha.

Cut a line down one side of the potato. Press the ends toward the center, making your potato "pucker" and open up, kinda like a bowl. Scoop in a dollup of butter, then some cheese, then a spoonful of sour cream, if desired.
Typical baked potato toppings. Then, the piece de resistance, the BBQ meat. Scoop a hearty serving of the meat into the potato, and voila...BBQ stuffed potato. I always mix mine all up to get some of everything in one bite, but feel free to eat it however you want. So yummy, and so filling. Mmmmm. Enjoy!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Spaghetti with cheesy garlic breadsticks

Ok, so spaghetti is a common deal in our house. I've posted about it before, but this time, I made cheesy garlic breadsticks. It made spaghetti so much yummier. Haha. And it was easy.

I was also proud of myself because I made whole wheat pasta instead of regular. It wasn't half bad either. Haha. I used jarred sauce cause I was in a hurry. But the bread was the star of the show anyway. So we'll focus on that. :)

-Spaghetti sauce
-Refrigerator pizza crust
-Butter, about 3-4 tablespoons
-Garlic powder, about 1 teaspoon
-1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

Put the refrigerator pizza dough onto a baking sheet. Half bake it, so it's not raw, but not browned, according to package directions. Melt the butter in a small bowl. Add the garlic powder, and mix well. Brush the crust with the garlic butter. Sprinkle the mozzarella cheese over the crust. Put it back in the oven until the crust is cooked through, the cheese is melted, and everything is golden brown and yummy. Cut into strips to make breadsticks.

While the bread is baking, boil a large pot of water. Cook the pasta until al dente. Drain. Return to the pot, and stir in the spaghetti sauce, coating well. Serve it with the breadsticks, and enjoy. I actually reserved some spaghetti sauce to use for dipping the breadsticks, which was wonderful. Yum yum.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Breakfast for Dinner

Every once in a while, I get a craving for breakfast food. Making a big breakfast, however, is not always an option. Solution: Breakfast for dinner. Oh yeah. I am lucky that my husband doesn't mind the occasional foray into breakfast world at dinner time.

So, the breakfast I made for dinner the other night consisted of scrambled eggs (I won't eat eggs any other way...I know, sad), bacon, hashbrowns, and pancakes. It was so good, too. Oh man. It made me tempted to do it again sooner than I should. Hehe. to breakfast land!

-Eggs-I made 2 eggs for each of us, but make what you need for who you're feeding
-Bacon-make as many slices as you need, according to package directions
-Pancake mix, like Hungry Jack or something
-Frozen hashbrown potatoes-Once again, make as much as you'll need for who you're serving. I probably made a cup per person. :)
-butter-about 2 tablespoon for eggs, and two tablespoons for hashbrowns
-garlic powder-about 1 teaspoon
-onion powder-about 1/2 teaspoon
-syrup-for pancakes

In a skillet, over medium heat, melt two tablespoons of butter. Pour in the hashbrown potatoes. Stir frequently, coating with the butter. When the hasbrowns are about halfway cooked, add in the garlic and onion powders, and stir to combine well. Continue cooking until slightly browned and cooked through.

In another skillet, over medium/medium high heat, melt two tablespoon of butter. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs (helpful hint...if you break the yolks before whisking, just by puncturing them, they will combine with the white much more easily). Pour the whisked eggs into the melted butter, and stir occasionally, scrambling the eggs.

In a mixing bowl, mix together the pancake mix and water, or whatever ingredients are specified on the package, according to package directions. In a skillet, or on a griddle, over medium heat, pour the batter, in small amounts, about 1/2 cup at a time. When the edges of the pancake begin to firm up and the "bubbles" in the batter start to leave air pockets, flip the pancake over. Let the other side of the pancake cook for just a minute or so, and remove from the cooking surface.

Cook the bacon according to package directions.

Serve everything together. Butter the pancakes, if desired, and then pour syrup over them. Yum. I can't wait to make breakfast again...I'm salivating as I type this. Go forth and conquer breakfast!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Turkey, Potatoes, Brussel sprouts, and cranberry sauce

Yes, it sounds a little like Thanksgiving dinner, I know. was amazing, and my husband loved it, and I'm glad I made it. Mmmm.

Why is it that we reserve turkey with potatoes, greens, and cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving, anyway? It's good other times of year, too. How about Thanksgiving in May, as opposed to Christmas in July? It could work, right? Hehe. It worked for us. Granted, I just used turkey breasts, not the whole bird. Mashed potatoes are a staple in our house, and brussel sprouts make an occasional appearance on my menu. The way I make brussel the only way I can eat them. Any other way, and they taste like nasty cabbage grossness or something...I'm not a fan. But this way, I can eat them. :) It doesn't hurt that the hubby likes them this way too, and occasionally asks for them. Haha.

I know you're all jealous. It's ok. You can make this too. Your tummy will be happy. :)

-Turkey breasts (I think mine said "breast cutlets" or something...whatever)
-olive oil-probably a tablespoon for turkey, 2 tablespoons for sauteing sprouts, and another 2 tablespoons for drizzling on sprouts. total: 5 tablespoons)
-Butter, about 1/2 tablespoon per turkey breast
-salt and pepper, for seasoning turkey. Probably 1/8 teaspoon salt, and a pinch of pepper, per turkey breast
-Brussel sprouts, about 2 cups, cut in halves
-Garlic-you can use fresh cloves or powder...the application is just slightly different. For fresh cloves, use about 6 cloves, cut in half. For powder, about 1 tablespoon
-Potatoes, for mashing. I use russets, with skins on, chopped into chunks, but use whatever you like.
-1/2 cup milk, 2-3 tablespoons of butter for mashing with the potatoes
-3 tablespoons flour, for making gravy
-1 cup water, for making gravy
-1 can cranberry sauce (i like the jellied kind, not whole berry...)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place the turkey breasts in a lipped baking pan. Drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Place about a half tablespoon of butter on top of each breast. Place in the oven and cook for about 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 350. Turn the turkey breasts over and cook another 15-20 minutes until cooked through. Remove from oven and let them rest for a few minutes before serving.

While turkey is cooking, heat up about 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. If using fresh garlic cloves, saute the garlic fora couple minutes in the olive oil. DO NOT BURN THE GARLIC. It will turn bitter and nasty. Just keep stirring them around in the pan until the get kinda translucent and fragrant, but not brown. Remove the garlic from the skillet, but leave the oil behind. It will be flavored with the garlic and in turn flavor the brussel sprouts. Place the halved brussel sprouts in the garlicy oil. If using garlic powder, sprinkle about 1/2 tablespoon over sprouts when you first add the to the oil. Saute the sprouts until they just start to brown. They won't be cooked totally, but that brown color will add flavor and make them yummy. Take a glass baking dish, and pour the sprouts, including any oil left in the pan, into it. The baking dish should be big enough for the sprouts to be in a single layer. Place the cooked garlic cloves in the dish with the sprouts. Drizzle just a tiny bit more oil over the top, and place in the 350 oven with the turkey. They'll need to cook about 30 minutes, so the turkey will be done first. That's ok, though, because the turkey should sit for a few minutes before serving. You might want to toss the sprouts around the dish halfway through to make sure they cook evenly. Remove from oven. When they are cooked, the sprouts should be tender but not mushy.

While the turkey and sprouts are cooking, boil a pot of water. Add the potato chunks, and boil until tender. Remove from heat and drain, reserving about 1 cup of the starchy cooking water. Mash the potatoes with a handy dandy potato masher, add in the milk and butter, combining with the potatoes. If they are still too dry, add in a little of the cooking water at a time until it reaches the desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper if desired.

When you pull the turkey out of the oven, you will have one of two things...a lot of juice from the meat, or cooked in brown stuff from the juices evaporating and browning into the bottom of the pan. If you have juice, just pour it into a small sauce pan. If you have the brown stuff...while the baking pan is still hot, like right when you pull it out of the oven, pour a cup of water onto the pan and use a whisk or something to "de-glaze" the bottom of the pan. The water will "soften" the brown stuff enough to release the yummy flavor and make it liquid again. Pour that liquid into a small sauce pan. Heat it over medium heat. If you don't have about a cup of liquid, add the rest in water. Add the flour to the hot liquid. Stir continuously to keep the flour from clumping, and it will thicken into a gravy. Yum.

Open up the can of cranberry sauce and dump it into a bowl.

Serve everything together, and have your Thanksgiving dinner knock off whenever you want. :) Enjoy!