Thursday, September 30, 2010

Sesame-Teriyaki Chicken Thighs ~ page 209

This had great flavor, I did leave out the sesame seeds since I forgot to buy them. I would make this again except we aren't real crazy about chicken with the bone in...I guess I have never been one to want to gnaw on bones. It was a little messy and hard to eat, but I like said, great flavor. I'm not sure if breasts would dry out too much with this broiling method....maybe chicken tenderloins would be better? Any suggestions?

The recipe has you broiling the meat about 8 minutes a side. Well after just a couple minutes I could see I was gonna burn it, so I lowered my rack in the oven one level, which worked alot better. The kitchen was still getting smoky though, so I peaked in and the extra sauce that had dripped on my foil lined baking sheet was you can see in the picture! So I had to replace that foil with clean foil halfway through the cooking process.

I didn't have a broiler pan like she suggests so per my mom's advice used a cookie cooking rack, which seemed to do the trick as you can see in the last picture!
So, good recipe, but I will tweak it a little bit when I make it again.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Garlic fries (p265)

I really liked these fries. I served them with Spicy Buffalo Wings & homemade Cool Ranch sauce (the recipes for the wings & sauce were from Southern Living). I ended up dipping my fries in the ranch --> one bad & one good cancel each other out, right? I used garlic powder instead of garlic cloves & I think it was just fine that way. Oh, and a tip, make sure you don’t cut the potatoes too thin, or if you do, don’t keep them in the oven as long. I had a couple that were a little too skinny.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Chicken Cacciatore

Sadly I have to say I think this is one of the worst things I've EVER made and Daniel agreed. It was very bland and somehow the chicken got very dry and I cooked it like she said. I did it all as the recipe stated and it did not come out well. Daniel only ate half of his and I ate three quarters and threw away the leftovers. So of course we were still hungry so we feasted on ice cream, cheese, grapes, and crackers!!:)

If anyone else has luck with this I'd be curious to see how!

Steak Tacos with Cucumber-Avacado Salsa (p184-185)

Already liking tacos, I think what made these awesome was the salsa. I LOVED the salsa; it was so refreshing! My husband didn’t like it, but I sure did; it’s pretty much all I remember about dinner last night. For the meat though, I would omit the cinnamon; it was just too weird for me I think. The recipe also suggests 3 cups of cabbage and I would say that you don’t need nearly that much. Definitely make this dinner if you get a chance!

Blueberry Buckwheat Pancakes ~ page 20

I made these the other day for my daughter's 3rd birthday that morning. I thought it would be a nice change from the boring bowl of cold cereal. She didn't like them, she said she didn't like the blueberries in them, I'm not really even sure if she would have liked them if they were berry-free. They did have a different kind of taste, but I didn't think it was bad, just healthy. My 5 year old only ate 1 pancake...that is a bad sign cuz she normally eats 6 pancakes! My husband took a bite and said it tasted like it had veggies in it! (although he did eat a stack of 4 pancakes himself.) Apparently not everyone likes the taste of buckwheat flour I guess.
Below is the stack I'm gonna have to eat myself since the rest of my family wasn't crazy about them. I froze them all for me since I didn't mind them. I thought Ellie's other pancakes were much better! The family gobbled those up when I made them. My advice is to try that other recipe before this one...-Carissa

Monday, September 27, 2010

Honey-Roasted Sweet Potatoes, pg 268, Peppercorn Pork with Wine Sauce

I am always on the lookout for new ways with sweet potatoes--something that does not involve the holidays and marshmallows (the only way I ate them for so many years!). I used yams in this recipe, but I think either one would be great. I enjoyed these a lot, although hubby rated them a bit lower than me (but maybe he just misses the marshmallows!). I served this with the Poppercorn Pork recipe that Carissa and Cathy loved, but my pork was a bit too thick, even when split, so that the outside was burning while the inside was pretty rare. Well, hubby has a phobia about rare pork, so he was not happy. But I think all my problems were from the thickness of my meat. We ate the more cooked edges, and the center was used for a Chinese stir-fry the next day, which worked out fine.

Oh, I did learn something interesting about pork (from the internet--does that make it true?) when I was trying to prove to hubby that he was not going to die from my rare pork...There have been only 4 cases of trichinosis in the US in the past year--and they were all attributed to wild game. The problems with pork were supposedly eliminated when pigs became pen raised on feed and grain, rather than scavenging and eating raw meat, like pigs used to do! ~janice

Crispy Chicken Fingers with Honey-Mustard Sauce (p. 200) and Parmesan Mashed Potatoes (p. 262)

Well, this is going to be my first somewhat negative review on a couple of Ellie's recipes. I loved the idea of the crispy chicken fingers, and I will be trying them again, but NOT with Corn Chex. Maybe I did something wrong, but they were not crispy at all (even though I let them sit on the baking sheet as the recipe suggested) and we just didn't like the taste of the Corn Chex. As for the parmesan mashed potatoes, they really didn't seem that different from regular mashed potatoes to any of us. I'm not sure that 2 tablespoons of parmesan cheese is really enough to make an impact on the taste buds. On the upside, the honey-mustard sauce was excellent! Sweet and tangy from the mixture of the dijon and the honey - definitely worth throwing together for dipping or as a sandwich spread!!

Peppercorn Pork with Wine Sauce (p. 196)

After reading Carissa's review of this recipe, I decided we had to try it right away and she was right - it was incredible!! Easy to throw together and just delicious. I used a lot more dijon mustard and pepper than the recipe called for - one teaspoon of dijon just didn't seem like it would be enough for me (I LOVE mustard!), and we weren't disappointed. I did the wine sauce with a red wine and my grown-up tasters (my mom and hubbie) both liked it very much. I would be very interested to try it with a white wine next time - and there will most definitely be a next time with this recipe. :)

Mango Lassi (p43)

Apparently I’m not a fan of mangos, but my husband who does like mangos, didn’t like this drink either. Unfortunately, we just did not like this drink at all; we couldn’t even finish the one glass that we were sharing. If someone else has made this, please let me know if you have some tips.

Blueberry Buckwheat pancakes ~ page 20

These were not a huge hit at my house. I made them for my 3 year for breakfast on her birthday. She only had one bite. I thought they were fine, in fact I just warmed up a stack of these from the freezer for myself this morning. I don't know if it is the buckwheat that the kids didn't like or that my berries were a little on the tart side, My husband said they tasted like there were veggies hidden in there, although he did eat them, Below is a plate of all the leftovers to freeze for myself, since no one else will eat them! Sadly I wont be making these again. --Carissa

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Cornmeal-Crusted Roasted Ratatouille Tart ~ page 98

This fun tart has all my favorite roasted vegetable flavors--eggplant, zucchini, tomato, and basil. It seemed like it took a long time to make, as I had keep going back to read directions. But after you have done this once, you can almost do it from memory.
The recipe called for a tart pan with a removable bottom...but I just had a spring-form pan, like for I used that, and it worked just fine. This is the crust pressed into the pan bottom.
I had to show off my pie weights--I bought them a year or more ago, and this was my first time I have actually had a chance to used them!
I think these long skinny eggplant work wonderful in this recipe.
Here it is out of the oven...
The flavor and appearance of the tart are wonderful. I do have an issue with the crust was dry, soft, and not that tasty I thought. I believe you just need more fat than what this calls for, in order to make a good crisp and tasty crust. Next time, I will use my own pressed butter pie crust recipe, but perhaps substitute some cornmeal like this recipe has for crunch. Except for the crust though--I really like this recipe! I served this as our Saturday light lunch. My husband says he would like just a bit more cheese next time.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Chocolate Covered Banana Pops ~ page 291

These were a big hit with the kids! I didn't have baking chocolate so I just used chocolate chips, worked fine. It is a low fat dessert when you need a chocolate fix but don't want to blow your diet all the way! Wish I had one right now! I would definitely make these again. --Carissa

Chocolate Cherry-Almond Biscotti (p302)

If you’re like me, & notorious for not being able to guesstimate measurements well, you need a kitchen ruler for this recipe. If you over-estimate then it doesn’t bake through well & if you under-estimate, it will break. So my best advice is bringing a ruler into the kitchen. I used cranberries instead of cherries, Cadbury dark chocolate (not the best quality, but a couple steps up from Kroger brand), omitted the orange zest, used regular whole-wheat flour, & didn’t chop the almonds too finely (don’t you think almonds look prettier when you can see them?). I thought the biscotti was really great & went fantastic with my morning cappuccino!

Sweet & Spicy Grilled Cheese Sandwich (p95)

This is one sophisticated grilled cheese sandwich. While I did like the idea of making this traditional sandwich a little more novel, I didn’t really like this specific twist. I didn’t feel like the caramelized onions & the pepper jack cheese were a good blend. Has anyone else tried this? In Martha Stewart Living (October) there is an article with a bunch of recipes for dressing-up the traditional grilled cheese. I think I will try merging some of those options with this one & see what I get.

Maple-Mustard Chicken Thighs (p212) & Smashed Potatoes with Sour Cream & Chives (p262)

Another night this week I made the Maple-Mustard Chicken Thighs & the Smashed Potatoes with Sour Cream & Chives. These potatoes were nowhere close to the PW’s mashed potatoes but were still pretty good & definitely a healthier choice. I did omit the chives, just because I didn’t have any, otherwise I would have added it. The chicken was unique. It wasn’t bad at all it just had a very unique flavor. I think my favorite part of the chicken was the few required ingredients & the 2-minute prep time.

Salmon with Sweet & Spicy Rub (p227) & Tomatoes with Green Goddess Dressing (p123)

To wrap-up the summer I made the Salmon with Sweet & Spicy Rub & the Tomatoes with Green Goddess Dressing. For the salmon I baked it instead of grilling because my husband wasn’t home (I don’t grill without him close by; I’m too dangerous with a grill). I think baking it was fine, but I bet it would have been a million times better on the grill. Despite the name, we didn’t think it was all that spicy; next time I will probably add a lot more spice to it. Typically, I hesitate to cook fish because of the fishy taste & smell, but that wasn’t an issue with this dish. For the tomato salad I used spinach instead of romaine. Side bar- I think I must to have been the last person on earth to learn about Green Goddess salad dressing, but it was really good! I doubled the recipe for salads throughout the week and omitted the Tarragon. I think the recipe just called for way too much. This was an awesome summer meal; I wish I had made it sooner.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Pumpkin Pie Muffins p. 21

Thought I would give these a try after success with the carrot cupcakes. These are yummy and make your home smell really good when cooking - may not feel like fall but it can smell like fall!

You definitely don't taste the whole wheat flour and would never guess they were low fat! Pumpkin seeds on the top added a nice crunch. Try them!

Warm Spinach and Artichoke Dip p.70

Did not have a chance to take of picture of this yummy dip because it was eaten up so quickly! Really simple and tasted really good! Almost like the dip at Houston's (but much less fat) - they serve theirs with picante sauce and sour cream which would have been good with this dip if I had remembered. Served with Stacy's pita chips.

Next time I make this I will not put the spinach and artichokes in the food processor. I think it would look better if the spinach and artichokes were coarsely chopped and then just mixed in by hand.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Peppercorn Pork with Wine Sauce ~ page196

There isn't much to say about this recipe except that it was Perfect! It was so fast to cook, dinner was on the table in no time flat! She says to cook it 5 minutes a side, but I did 4 a side to make sure it was still slightly pink inside and it was fork tender. I actually used an instant read thermometer and took it out of the pan when it read about 135ish degrees (I know that sounds insanely raw, but trust me on this) Then I covered it with foil while I made the continued to cook under the foil, and even more once I poured the hot sauce over the top. It really was perfect! If you haven't tried this recipe I encourage you to do so...go put pork tenderloin on your grocery list right now. One 5 year old gobbled this up, the 3 year old said it was too spicy, so maybe don't pepper the little kiddos' pieces as much as yours. On a scale of hubby gave it an 11!! Below are the little guys all peppered up ready for the pan. Morgan, you need to make this recipe for Rhett, it might win him over to the Ellie side, since he seemed to have his reservations about her! :) --Carissa

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Fettuccine with Parsley and Walnuts ~ page 155

This was pretty good, I actually think it would have been better with white pasta. I added an extra garlic clove and Adam thought it was a bit much on the garlic taste. One odd thing was when I was stirring it up the pasta broke up into small bite-sized pieces...maybe that was from over cooking the pasta a touch? It was very fast to make, we had it along side grilled steaks. I would make it again, but will change it up a little probably. --Carissa

Mom's Turkey Meatloaf and "Dirty" Broccoli

I followed the recipe for Mom’s Turkey Meatloaf as written and it was a HUGE success at our house. How did I know it was success? My 21 month old, who is a very picky eater, loved it and then he wanted more and more. This was shocking to me because it had onions and bell peppers in it. One thing I will do different next time that I made it is to add more salt and some garlic. It just needed a little more seasoning to me.

So for lunch the next day, I cut some thin slices of it and browned them in some olive oil to make some meatloaf sandwiches. They too were tasty.

With this dish, I also made “Dirty” Broccoli. The recipe was super easy and gave the broccoli a wonderful taste! I will be making the mix again soon and trying it on some other vegetables. It was very yummy and what a great way to get our son to eat more vegetables.

Side note: I put the meatloaf on aluminum foil when I put it in the oven to make for an easier clean-up. Anything for a quick and simple clean up. :)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Lemony Cream Cheese Frosting p. 285

These cupcakes are delicious! and good for you as well! I wish I had doubled the recipe because I had no leftovers and sounds like they are even better the next day.

I did not use walnuts just because I didn't have any! I thought the lemon zest in the icing added a great flavor. I did not need to add extra powdered sugar and found the icing amount to be just right. I have found the key to great cream cheese icing is to let it beat for about 5 minutes - will be creamy and smooth.

Janice - did you use the whole-wheat pastry flour or regular whole-wheat flour? I used the regular because didn't have pastry flour and am wondering if it is worth the purchase.

Will definitely be making these again!

Zucchini Parmesan Crisps p. 251

These were really good and really easy to make! Recipe says to cook for 25 to 30 minutes and mine were done in 20 - glad I was watching them! Will be adding this to my vegetable repertoire.

Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Lemony Cream Cheese Frosting ~ page 285

Ellie's cupcakes were a big (healthy to boot!) hit at a little family birthday party for my 3-year old granddaughter, Evelyn. I made the cupcakes in a small muffin pan--not quite mini-muffins, but not full size either. That way kids could have 2 without it being more than their mommies wanting them to have. Ev wanted  princess cupcakes, so I stuck in little crowns and she was pleased...

These cupcakes are basically muffins. I ate the leftovers without the icing for breakfast. I actually think these even improved in the fridge after a couple days. They do last very well, which is unusual for a muffin. The icing made more than I needed...but it can be used on other things, so I didn't mind. I did add more powdered sugar than called for, because the icing was a little runny--especially for kids. Oh, and I used pecans instead of walnuts, because that is all I had. I think this is a great recipe for a healthy sweet for kids or adults. I will make these again. ~janice

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Zucchini Parmesan Crisps

One of our very favorite appetizers is Fried Zucchini at Pappas Seafood Restaurant- it is not very good for you though!  When I saw these, I couldn't wait to try them.  They were yummy- and very easy to make.  Make sure you coat each piece with oil individually before coating with breadcrumb mixture.  You might want to consider baking them on parchment paper- mine stuck to the pan.  Don't over cook them- mine got a little brown!  We'll be having these again.

Macaroni and Four Cheeses/ Peppercorn Pork with Wine Sauce

I made both of these for dinner and they were both YUMMY!

The mac and cheese
My sister had made this before, so I knew it was good.  I was just amazed at how little cheese you put in and how creamy it still was.  Brayden LOVED it!  Danny (who really dislikes squash) said "I can't even taste the squash" and ate his whole serving.  We will be making this again, but might splurge and add a bit of half and half.

Peppercorn Pork with Wine Sauce
We like pork and have it about once a week.  I was very intrigued that she said it would taste like a good steak.  She wasn't lying!  Make sure you don't over cook it.  I only made half of one tenderloin and it was enough for both of us.  I used a Claret wine- and we enjoyed the rest with dinner :)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Mom's Turkey Meatloaf ~ page 216

I passed on making Ina's and PW's meatloaf, but decided to give Ellie's a try! I was pretty impressed. Adam even got seconds, so that is always a good sign.

The recipe calls for 2 pounds of turkey...I had a turkey pkg that weighed about 1 and 1/4 lbs, then dug around in my freezer and found 1/2 lb of pork, and 1/4 lb of beef leftover from other cooking projects. So I did have a little variety in my meat. I think that probably added a little more flavor that just turkey would have done.

Above is my 5 year old so excited to do the messy job of mixing it all up! I kept finding raw meat on the floor, counter and the stool she was standing. But at least I didn't have to get my hands in it!

Above is the raw loaf before sauce, and below is the cooked loaf after sauce. Now, the sauce is the one thing that I did change. Ellie calls for a can of plain tomato sauce, that just seemed flavorless and boring, so I looked up another recipe that I have used before and used that sauce, it turned out yummy! It is 1/2 cup ketchup, 1/4 cup brown sugar, and 4 teaspoons of vinegar.

I would definitely make this again using my other sauce recipe. It even made enough for me to freeze another meal. --Carissa

Monday, September 6, 2010

Balsamic Chicken with Baby Spinach and Couscous, p. 205

This recipe was very yummy and got a thumbs up from all of my tasters. :) I will say that it took me closer to 30 minutes to prepare it (not 15), and I think I would like to try it again with something other than couscous. It was just a tad boring and dry, even with the yummy balsamic sauce - so I was thinking it might be good on a bed of risotto?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Triple Chocolate Cookies p. 304

So here's how the voting went:

Husband: Weird
Daughter: Good as long as you get a chocolate chunk in your bite
Myself: Very good

And the results:
After 2 days, this is what remains and I promise I did not eat them all myself!

Followed the recipe without any changes - simple and delicious and good for you!