Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Pan-Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Mustard-Maple Glaze

This was very yummy and so easy! It was easily done in 30 minutes. I didn't have a full 1/2 cup of maple syrup, so I subbed in half honey with great results. I would make this again, my kids gobbled this up. I used the leftovers in a curry recipe in the back of the book...I'll keep you on pins and needles on how that turned out till I get that recipe blogged! :) --Carissa

Chicken with Rice, Peas and Scallions

I was eager to try these chicken and rice dishes.  Because of the experience of the chicken not cooking all the way through last time, I cut the breasts into slices and it worked perfectly- just make sure you don't overcook it.  The rice all cooked perfectly in the pan and tasted delicious!  Lots of flavor.  Make sure you don't put too much red pepper, as I did- we couldn't finish it :(  I served it with grilled veggies- a healthy, yummy dinner, we will make again!  This one did take me about 40 minutes.

Chicken & Rice with Broccoli & Cheddar (page 108)

After seeing Morgan’s picture & reading her review, I decided that I needed to make this dish; I’m so glad that I did! I was going to be out of the house at dinner time for several nights straight so I made this dish one night after dinner in an attempt to stock the fridge for my hubby. This was extremely fast to make with very few accompanying dirty dishes. Speed & minimal dirty dishes are just as attractive to me as taste (maybe more?). The only thing I did differently here was onion powder instead of onions. I forgot onions at the store so I used the next best thing. I will try my best to remember onions next time though.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Italian Sausage, Pepper, & Onion Hoagies (page 122)

This recipe is featured in the photo section, which is exactly the reason why I made this dish. I have a hard time imagining what recipes will look like when they are finished, so I will most likely make everything in the photo section of this book. Despite my off-the-wall reason for making these hoagies, I really liked them! I used mild Italian sausage, fresh oregano, & omitted the vinegar (after the salad dressing from last night, we were not in the mood for any more vinegar). I toasted the sub rolls right before serving, & they were simply a hit! This dish will be repeated for sure!

Bistro-Style Mustard Vinaigrette (page 23)

This was the spiciest salad dressing I have ever tasted! Well, I take that back, it wasn’t “spicy” as in heat; it was more like a burn (like wasabi). I think the combination of the vinegar & the mustard made this dressing almost unbearable. I followed the directions exactly, but ended up adding some water at the end to dilute the flavor a little bit. I made it, we tried it, & I dumped the leftovers down the drain :-\

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Simple Pan-Seared Pork Chops P. 208 & Warm Cherry Tomato Relish P. 198, 30-Minute Roasted Red Potatoes P. 208

This was a yummy dinner last night. Definitely not 30 minutes! It took about 50 minutes and there was a huge mess to clean up after we ate. So, it wasn't even one of those meals that you can at least clean up while it cooks.

The pork chops were good. Mine were maybe a touch dry but that's because my thermometer is broken apparently so I was guessing on the cook time. I think I did the 2nd side the 10 minutes. I also used thick boneless chops. The grease does splatter A LOT so if you don't like a messy greasy stove top then I wouldn't recommend this recipe. I even used a splatter screen.

The tomato relish was very yummy. The only bad thing is I think the garlic and rosemary get a little burnt with the high heat. The relish helped with the fact that the pork was a touch dry.

The potatoes were good as well. I did the garlic rosemary version since I had rosemary from the tomatoes. They were pretty easy so I would make them again. Our son, Isaiah, loved them! He'd already eaten earlier and he was wanting them as we were eating!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Un-Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Dijon, Ham & Gruyere (page 227)

This similar to chicken cordon bleu dish was fantastic. My husband asked me to make this meal again, & I definitely will. I used parsley instead of dill in the sauce, & the sauce was actually our favorite part of the recipe. Like Shannon, I used thicker chicken so it probably took about 19-20 minutes in the oven. I feel a little silly, but in step 3 it says to put 1/4 cup swiss cheese on the chicken. I thought they meant a 1/4 cup of swiss on ALL of the chicken, but then when I got to the end of the recipe I had to asked myself, "Why do I have an extra 3/4 cups cheese?" They don’t say to put 1/4 cup of cheese on each chicken breast, but they mean on EACH chicken breast. Oops! If you do this just mix in the extra cheese with the sauce when it comes out of the oven & drizzle it over the chicken & it will be totally fine. Or leave it out completely & have a healthier version of the recipe. ;-)

Chicken Pizzaiola with Mozzarella & Pepperoni (page 229)

This recipe certainly was the easiest & most simple recipe I have ever made for dinner. I had it on the table in about 20 minutes. Unfortunately, I don’t think speed is everything. My husband and I felt like we were eating a TV Dinner. The chicken was just..... kind of.....boring, I guess. It wasn’t a horrible flavor, we just thought it was really lacking something. In brainstorming how to make this a little more enticing, we thought maybe the chicken would be better on some French bread as a sandwich, or over some pasta, or mixed in with some spinach. Ok you get the idea, if y’all have any other suggestions for how to dress this recipe up a bit, please let me know.

Almond-Crusted Chicken Breasts w/Cranberry-Orange Relish (pg.201) and Skillet Green Beans (pg.233)

Hmm...where to start? Let me first just say that overall, we liked both of these dishes. I did have a few issues, though!

The chicken: This is not something I would normally choose (b/c of the fruity relish) but what appealed to me was the almond crust. I love chicken and love finding new ways to cook it, and we've never done an almond-crusted chicken so I went for it. My main issue with this dish was the fact that my chicken breasts were way too thick (and one was thicker than the other). I had a feeling this might be an issue but I didn't even start thinking about this meal until probably 30 minutes before I was about to cook it...and the only chicken I had thawed were the really thick ones so I had to use them. The recipe says to cook it in the skillet for a total of 6-8 minutes, browning both sides. Honestly, I didn't keep track of exactly how long I had to cook mine but it was WAY MORE than 8 minutes! I used a meat thermometer to test the temp in the thickest part after 8 minutes and it was only around 100* and it needed to be 165* (according to my thermometer recommendations-this did not come from the cook book). So, I kept cooking it a bit more making sure to turn every few minutes b/c I was afraid it was going to burn. I don't know how much more time passed b/c I was getting a little frazzled that I would not have dinner ready in time to leave for small group (and I was working on the green beans and dealing with my 19-month-old, ha!), but I finally decided that I would put it in the oven to cook the rest of the way while I made the relish. Unfortunately, I had been turning the chicken so much that the crust was beginning to break and as I moved it to a wire rack over a baking sheet to go into the oven, one half of the crust just fell off. oops! Anyway, as it finished cooking in the oven, I made the relish (in a separate, smaller pan b/c I only made a 1/2 recipe). I was very leery of this relish b/c the thought of putting cranberries and orange marmalade on top of my chicken just did not sound right. Not much to say about the actual cooking process of the relish - it was straightforward and I didn't have any issues with it (except my hubby bought orange juice w/mango instead of just plain orange juice-oh well!). So, overall the verdict is: I really liked the chicken alone but did not care for the relish. I tried one bite with it and that was it. The almond crust (which has panko bread crumbs in it) was delicious. There is also cinnamon in the crust (which I thought was kinda weird). Since I only made a 1/2 recipe, I needed just 1 teaspoon, but we're not really crazy about cinnamon so I just used 1/2 teaspoon. I could just barely taste it and thought that was the perfect amount for us. My husband ate his with the relish and said that it was "not bad." He liked it more than he thought he would. Overall, my vote would be to make just the chicken again and skip the relish...AND, use thinner chicken breasts so there's no issue with cooking it through w/in the 30 minutes!!

The greenbeans: these were super easy and tasty. I was rushing so much to get dinner on the table that I accidentally skipped the last step of seasoning to taste with salt and pepper. When we started eating it, I thought they were missing a little something and commented that I thought it odd that the recipe did not call for salt and pepper. I checked the recipe again and realized that I'd left it out - oops! Overall, these were good and I'd make them again just b/c they were so easy and quick.

This entire process took me 1 hour and 15 minutes. Next time, I think I can get it done much quicker now that I've done it once and learned some lessons!

Here is my plate, minus the relish...

Hubby's plate with relish...

And a closeup of the relish (looks weird, huh?)

Monday, March 21, 2011

Skillet Jambalaya (pg. 132)

My husband and I both loved this dish and will definitely make it again. BUT, do not plan on making this meal on a busy night when you're short on time because the prep work is time consuming. It did only take just under 30 minutes to actually cook it, but it took me at least 30 minutes to prep: peeling & deveining 1 lb of shrimp and cutting up andouille sausage, an onion, a bell pepper, and some parsley. I will say that I am probably the world's slowest chopper/dicer, but most of my time was spent preparing the shrimp. So, this is only a "30 Minute Meal" once you've got everything cut up and ready to go! But, it's delicious so try it!

Meat loaf (page 234) and Mac & Cheese (page 145)

I apologize for not having any pictures for these two recipes, there was just too much going on & I was just trying to get food on the table before our nieces & nephews started eating their arms off. You’re familiar with these dishes so just pretend a picture is included in this post. I did get both of these recipes on the table in 45 minutes from start to finish.

The mac & cheese was not my favorite but my husband liked it. It was very creamy, but apparently I don’t like thick & creamy. I omitted the Tabasco because I thought it might be too spicy for a 9 month old, but if I ever make this again I will include it. I will say that if you go to make this recipe, make sure you stir a lot in the first step because they really weren’t kidding when they said that the noodles will stick. I had to add about ½ cup water after adding the cheese to adjust the consistency. (I still like PW’s version better)

My mini meatloaves ended up looking like hamburger patties, but they still tasted & smelled like meatloaf. I used a pound of ground beef & a pound of ground turkey; I definitely had more than 4 loaves of meatloaf. I used dried parsley because I didn’t want to take the time to chop anything. Everyone raved about the sauce, which is probably the easiest meatloaf sauce ever created. So if nothing else, I will use the sauce recipe again.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Quick Cheesy Ravioli Bake (pg.177)

This was really good and really easy! We will definitely make this again. I'm not really a huge fan of Italian sausage, so I am thinking of maybe trying ground beef next time just to see how it tastes that way. My husband loves sausage of any kind (me, not so much) and thinks that ground beef might be too bland in this dish. I ended up picking out most of my sausage and still thought just the ravioli and sauce were great. I've never cooked with fresh ravioli and I was pleasantly surprised at how good it is! (honestly, the only ravioli we've ever eaten at home is Chef Boyardee, ha!) This recipe makes me want to find some other recipes that use fresh ravioli.

(my picture is from when I ate it for leftovers like 2 days later, so it's not the most appetizing looking shot...although it still tasted fine)

Simple Sauteed Chicken Breasts P. 191 & Red Wine Sauce P. 196 & Skillet Green Beans P. 233

Oh my goodness!! This was quite the dinner last night! I was all optimistic about cooking my chicken breasts without pounding them because they did a good job explaining the technique of higher heat on the first side and lower heat on the second. But medium high is way to high heat for the first side. It was really and I mean really blackened! Our house was filling up with smoke like crazy. In the end they came out ok once we cut off the black side but they were pretty cold by the time we ate. It was just a bad night of cooking. We started at 7 and didn't eat until 8.30....arghh!

The sauce was the saving grace! Daniel always does our sauces and he did this once to perfection! It was great. I can imagine PW saying she would eat it by the spoonful!:) He said he was unsure about adding the brown sugar but it didn't taste sweet by any means. He also mentioned that he simmered it probably 10 minutes. Oh, and we used white wine instead of red. We also made mashed potatoes and the gravy was so yummy with them. Daniel went back for second of just the potatoes with sauce!

The green beans were really good too. Another saving grace! I'm not the biggest fan of fresh green beans but these were really yummy. I will definitely make them again. I think we simmered ours 20 min...they weren't quite done at the 15 min mark. I'd be curious to know if anyone tries dried thyme...buying a full thing for just 1/2tsp is a waste in my opinion. Or if anyone knows how long fresh thyme keeps or how to store it I'd appreciate the tips.

All in all this was a good meal. I just wish we would have ate sooner and our chicken wasn't cold but I don't think we prepped enough so that was more our fault. Daniel said he would make again even though there were A LOT of dirty dishes.

As you can imagine there is NO picture. I just was ready to eat!!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Chicken & Rice with Broccoli & Cheddar (pg.108)

This dish was SUPER EASY to make and my husband and I both thought it tasted very good. It is by no means "gourmet" or as mouth-watering as some of our Barefoot Contessa or PW dishes, but we will definitely make this again. I would also say that this is a kid/toddler-friendly meal, but MY toddler would only eat the chicken. He doesn't really like rice, so he spit it right out. (but I think most non-picky eaters would eat this). I do think it could use more cheese, though. It only calls for one cup of shredded cheddar, so if you love cheese like me, you could add more! The recipe also calls for 1 teaspoon of Tobasco, and although I could taste a hint of it, it did not make it spicy/hot at all. I have made a broccoli and cheddar rice casserole before that had diced up jalepenos (the kind in the jar or can...not fresh) and I really like that "kick" that it adds, so I might actually add some of those next time I make this dish to give it a different flavor.

Overall, very tasty!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Quick Homemade Biscuits ~ page 116

These were not bad tasting...not out of this world great, but not bad. They sure are quick though. They don't have any butter or fat in them, so I didn't feel too bad eating more than one. But because they didn't have any butter or shortening, I felt they weren't light and fluffy like biscuits should be. I would make them again if I was in a pinch and needed a bread real fast and happen to be out of butter. Adam liked them just fine, but I wouldn't call him a good biscuit judge, he likes any bread ever invented. --Carissa

Skillet Pasta Quattro Formaggi (page 146)

My husband is out of town on business so I made this dish last night, going into it fully knowing that this recipe is a girlie meal. Cheese + Carbs= a girlie meal. If I make this again when my husband is home I will add some grilled chicken.

I used ¼ tsp. of onion powder instead of shallots & it was an easy/cheap substitution. The recipe suggests, in step 2, to heat the sauce for 15-18 minutes for it to thicken, but I would suggest heating it a little bit longer. I would also suggest letting it sit again after you add the cheese so it isn’t too runny (maybe 5-7 minutes).

This dish is beyond delicious- I won’t even tell you how many times I went back for “seconds.” The gorgonzola adds a very bold flavor (not sure if it would be too bold for children or not) that is simply captivating for the taste buds.

Fast Oven-BBQ Chicken (page 231) & 30-Minute Baked Potato (page 209)

Maybe I’m a cheater (or lazy), but I have always cooked baked potatoes in the microwave. I don’t usually put them in the oven afterwards, so it was a *treat* this time because the oven gave them a nice crispy edge (which I’m sure most of you non-lazy cooks are familiar with). I had the potatoes in the microwave while I was browning the chicken & just put them in the oven when I put the chicken in the oven. I think this was the perfect amount of time because I was using smaller potatoes. If you use larger potatoes you may need more time in the oven. These were great & definitely fast.

We also really enjoyed the chicken, especially the BBQ sauce (which I think I read someone else saying as well). The sauce had a nice strong kick (probably due in part to the fact that I totally forgot the maple syrup which would most-likely balance out the chili powder & cayenne pepper). I will definitely make this BBQ sauce again because we love the tangy flavor. This meal was a hit & only took 30 minutes for both recipes.

Basic Vinaigrette (page 21)

This salad dressing was pretty tasty. I will say though, the EVOO flavor was a little too strong, so I increased some of the other ingredients to drown out the EVOO flavor. I used 4 tbs white wine vinegar & 3 tsp Dijon mustard. I also used ½ tsp dried thyme instead of the fresh. I will certainly make this dressing again.

Quick White Chicken Chili (page 79)

This dish definitely took me a lot longer than 30 minutes....I would say I was pushing an hour. I don’t feel like I did anything differently than I normally do while I am cooking, but it may not take everyone as long as it took me. For the ingredients I couldn’t find hominy (maybe I was looking in the wrong section of the store?) so I got cannellini beans instead. For the peppers, I used 2 jalapenos & included a forth of the seeds/membrane. Before this dish I had never used Anaheim peppers before & I thought I would have a hard time finding them. However, they were sitting right next to the green bell peppers that I purchase all the time, so clearly this issue here was that I have never seen Anaheim peppers because I have never looked for Anaheim peppers. Ha! The instructions say to put all of the peppers & onions in a food processor; admittedly, I didn’t do this because I was in a lazy mood & didn’t want to dirty another dish. I just quickly chopped them & I think it was fine.

I made this late one night & tried it quickly before putting it in the fridge for lunches. It wasn’t bad but I wasn’t that impressed either. When my husband came home from work the next day the first thing he said was “that chicken stuff was great”. I went back to the fridge for a second sample & I have to say it was much better the next day. So I would suggest letting the ingredients mingle before serving.

Skillet Steak Fajitas (page 125)

For once I actually followed the directions :-) The only thing I did different from the recipe was add salsa at the end. These were fantastic & super fast to make on a weeknight in between work & church. The marinade was amazing and would probably be great for chicken as well.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Creamy Skillet Penne w/ Mushrooms and Asparagus p. 143

This was good. However it took 50 minutes to cook and I think it probably would have taken longer if I didn't have Daniel help me out in a crunch. I didn't cut up all my veggies so I had him help stir and put some stuff in while I frantically cut up something...don't remember what. I also just didn't have time to mince the garlic so I just crushed it with a garlic masher. So, if you will not have a hubby around to help out in the middle you may want to have everything cut and ready before you start b/c once it gets going it gets going and you keep adding stuff left and right!

I would also add in some cooked chicken breast at the end when adding in the asparagus....just because I like having a protein.

We would make this again but it was an expensive meal b/c the wine was $9 and the porcini mushrooms were $5. So, if you have wine on hand for something else then it won't be quite so much.

But it was good just a lot of work...I would love to know if anyone did it in 30 minutes from start to finish.

oh well, I actually have a pic of this one but it's not letting me put the picture when I hit the button so I'll just post it without....sorry!

Asparagus, Ham, and Gruyère Frittata ~ page 8

I made this for a light dinner one night....the only change I made was to use cheddar instead of Gruyere. It was really good. My kids gobbled it up without realizing that they were eating asparagus!
I slightly overcooked mine...I also think next time I will rotate it while it is under the broiler to evenly brown the top. But mine still tasted great.
The changes I will make next time I make this slice the asparagus mom had a slice and she didn't even realize she was eating asparagus. The asparagus just looks like sliced green onions. I would do larger chunks of asparagus. Also, I would like a touch more cheese. Here I weighed the cheese to show you. They called for 3 oz. I used 4 oz and it still wasn't much. You will learn real fast that Cooks Illustrated LOVES to weigh all their ingredients, you might need to invest in a scale. Once you start weighing your food, you will be addicted like me and weigh everything! :) --Carissa

Skillet Tamale Pie P.119

I saw two great reviews for this and thought 'hmm maybe it will be good'. I'm not a fan of tamale's at all so when I saw the first review I didn't think much about it but then I saw the second one and I decided to at least look at the ingredients to see if I thought it was tamale like and it didn't seem to be. It had everything we liked in it so I thought I'd give it a go. We made it tonight and really enjoyed it. I'll definitely make it again. It took me 45 minutes however but at least while it was cooking in the oven I was able to do all the dishes so that was nice.

I will say that I was skeptical of putting raw meat in with tomatoes and beans but it cooked great. When it all started coming together I added more salt, pepper, and garlic. My meat mixture probably simmered 10 minutes at least while I did the cilantro, corn bread, and grated our cheese. So I'm thinking that helped all my flavors meld together.

I also, don't like just having one thing for dinner...I like side dishes so I couldn't think of anything that sounded good with it. But then I was talking to Morgan and she suggested beans and rice which I thought sounded good. I ended up not doing the refried beans b/c it has black beans in it but I did the rice and thought that was a good addition. So we served it with rice, salsa, and sour cream. Super yummy!

Thanks ladies for all your reviews. I'm a visual person...I like pictures and since this book doesn't have any and it has a lot of recipes I just thought I'd wait until people started posting to see what was good. I've got several marked now so thanks for the reccomendations!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Cuban Sandwiches ~ page 260

Fabulous! I made these in 2o minutes! We got home from church and we were eating less than 30 minutes later! I didn't read the directions well enough, they were from the "leftover" section, I didn't realize that I was suppose to use left over pork loin with the deli turkey. So ours were straight turkey, but I think I would do it again, yum! Bot kids ate them too, so that is a big winner in my book. The melted swiss cheese with the pickles and banana peppers were perfect! I did them on my cast iron griddle and used cast iron pans to flatten the sandwiches. Give these a try! --Carissa

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Simplified Pad Thai (p. 180)

This dish was actually pretty good for home-made pad thai, but I won't be making it again for my kiddos. My son was clear about how he felt: "Mommy, this doesn't taste good." Ha! He did like the shrimp though - we just had to pick it out of the noodles and sprouts. Anyway, my husband and I both enjoyed it, so it's possible I would make it again just for the two of us. A word of warning if you go looking for "thick rice stick noodles": The cookbook is correct when it says that it's confusing to buy the noodles by name. I ended up purchasing Thai Kitchen's Stir-Fry Rice Noodles (linguini-style) instead of rice stick noodles, and they were perfect. You really do have to look at the actual noodles through the packaging to make sure you are getting thick enough noodles. Also, be sure to follow the directions about cooking the shrimp. As someone else posted recently, the shrimp do continue to cook off heat, so don't be scared if they look undercooked! Overall, if you're looking for something a little different and you like Thai food, you might want to check this one out. :)

Skillet Green Beans (p. 233)

Wow - these were delicious! My kids generally don't each much at dinner - and I usually have to bribe them to eat vegetables, but they ate their entire first servings and went back for seconds! I didn't have a shallot when I made these, so I just minced some white onion. I also substituted dried thyme for fresh. The dish was delicious this way, so I'd say it's safe to use these substitutions. This recipe is in our permanent veggie rotation for sure from now on... :)

Quick and Crunch Breaded Pork Chops (p. 237) and Sauteed Cherry Tomatoes (p. 237)

In general, we really liked these pork chops. I think the idea of using mayonnaise as the binding agent was brilliant (but I'm a big fan of mayo!). I kind of disagree with the direction to leave the Melba crumbs coarse - I would've preferred a finer crust, so I will probably do that next time. The sauteed cherry tomatoes were delicious and came together in a snap - definitely going to do those again. And, as you can see, our carb for this meal was the roasted red potatoes again!

Oven-Barbecued Chicken (p. 230) and Roasted Red Potatoes (p. 208)

We loved the barbecue sauce for this chicken recipe, but were not as enamored of the chicken itself - 30 minutes just didn't seem long enough to really get a good flavor into the meat for us. So, I might not use the recipe for it's quickness again, but I will definitely use the sauce for chicken and ribs that cook longer! Also, the roasted red potatoes were a HUGE win for my family. Incredibly easy to make and delicious. Just as though they'd been roasting for over an hour. I highly recommend that you check this recipe out if you like roasted potatoes!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Smoky Joes (pg.121)

I made one of the Sloppy Joe variations, Smoky Joes. The original recipe calls for tomato puree and ketchup as the sauce, but for Smoky Joes, you replace the ketchup with barbecue sauce. I thought the original might be too tomato-y for my liking so that's why I opted for the BBQ version. It was super easy and I would have probably finished it in 30 minutes if I wasn't also dealing with a cranky, hungry 18-month-old! :) I do agree with what Darby said about the water (it calls for 1/4 cup)...I don't think it's necessary. I think the tomato puree + ketchup or BBQ sauce would make it plenty saucy enough...and if it needs more liquid, you can always add a little water as it simmers.

As for the husband and I both liked it. However, we already have a yummy Sloppy Joe recipe from the Neelys that we make all the time, and although we liked this one from Cook's Illustrated, it will not replace our other recipe that we love. (found here)

Monday, March 7, 2011

Fettucini and Shrimp with Tarragon Cream Sauce

Made this for dinner this evening and it was yummy!  We love shrimp and fettucini, and nothing is better than alfredo sauce.  I always seem to make mine too clumpy or too runny...not this time!  This was super easy and very fast.  I used frozen shrimp- put them in a bowl under running cold water to thaw out for about 5 minutes.  I also seem to overcook my shrimp- this recipe told you exactly how to do it, and I didn't over cook them.   I learned that shrimp keep cooking when you take them out of the pan, like beef does! 

I loved using the Buitoni pasta- fast and I cooked it perfectly for once )  I used dried tarragon- couldn't find fresh, and I thought the flavor was just fine.  I also wanted this to be a little bit healthier, so I used 1 cup heavy cream and 1 cup 1% milk- the sauce didn't thicken as much as I think it was supposed, but good enough for us all to enjoy it!
One of Brayden's favorite dishes!  He kept saying "yum...yum...yum..."

Skillet Beef Pot Pie (pg.117)

This one was pretty tasty, but we will probably not make this again. The main reason is that the filet mignon just makes this dish too expensive for it to be worth it to us. If I'm going to spend the money for filet mignon, I'm not going to cut it up and put it in a 30-minute skillet supper. ha! (their explanation for using filet was that in order for the meat to become tender in just 30 minutes, this cut of meat works best for that purpose)

Sorry, no picture b/c I made this a while back and just didn't think to take a picture....and since we will not make this again, I figured I'd post anyway w/o a picture.

Pan-Roasted Glazed Pork Tenderloin (pgs.238, 239)

There are a few variations to the pan-roasted glazed pork tenderloin. I have made both the tenderloin with maple-mustard glaze (pg.238) and the tenderloin with chipotle-orange glaze (pg.239).

First, just the tenderloin itself is delicious! It is hard to believe that just seasoning it with only salt and pepper would still turn out a delicious tenderloin, but it does. And it is SO EASY to make! The only thing that I don't like is all the splattering of the vegetable oil, so make sure to use a splatter screen when you're browing the pork. The one thing I did that the recipe did not say to do was to turn the tenderloin every 6 minutes or so to prevent just one side from getting a dark crust/skin (if that makes any sense). If you do that, just make sure you are careful of the splattering oil as it still splatters a bit as it's cooking in the oven.

Now, onto the glazes. Wow, these could not be more easy! The first time I made it, we chose to do the maple-mustard glaze and it was SO GOOD! (but if you don't like mustard, you will obviously not like this one) It was pretty "mustard-y" but my husband and I both loved the flavor. We took the suggestion of heating it up a bit in the microwave and it was perfect!

The second time I made this, we tried the chipotle-orange glaze. This one was good but we definitely prefer the maple-mustard glaze. I think I put too much of the chipotle chiles in adobo sauce b/c it had quite a kick.

In summary - loved the tenderloin with maple-mustard glaze and will definitely make it again....probably won't be making the chipotle-orange glaze again.

(this picture is the chipotle-orange glaze)

Skillet Tamale Pie (pg. 119)

My husband and I both thought this dish wasn't bad...good, but not great. Not sure I will be making this again. I timed myself and it took me 42 minutes to make, from the time I started cutting up the onion to the time I pulled it out of the oven. I've made quite a few recipes from this book but have yet to finish in 30 minutes. I think I'm a slow cutter/mincer/dicer and I always read and re-read recipes, ha! My picture isn't all that great but I took it to show how I could not manage to spread the cornbread batter all the way to the edges. That, and my batter (Jiffy Brand, one they suggest) was pretty lumpy and was not easy to spread.

So, overall....good, but don't think it'll make our list of regulars.

Skillet Penne with Sausage & Spinach (page 142)

This was great; my husband went back for seconds & thirds! We decided this tasted like pizza in a bowl; it was perfect for last Friday night. I took Carissa’s advice & added more spinach (about 10oz), used whole wheat rotini noodles (just because Kroger was out of the whole wheat penne noodles), & hot Italian sausage. Definitely read the note on page 36 if you’re going to toast the pine nuts & really pay attention to them; I burnt my first batch so the second batch wasn’t toasted.

Skinny Janes (page 121)

Considering that we’re women, I thought I should change the name :-) I made the “skinny” variation of the Sloppy Joes using the leaner meat. For the tomato puree, I purchased a 14.5oz can of diced, unsalted tomatoes, drained & pureed them in a food processor. In the third step, it says to add water, but I would omit that if you’re trying to get this on the table in 30 minutes. With the water the sauce was really runny (runnier than Sloppy Joes, or Sloppy Janes, are supposed to be), but with some time on heat, the sauce did thicken up. All in all though, I think this was another one-time recipe; we just weren’t big fans.

Tortellini Soup (page 51)

This dish had an extremely weird flavor; not bad, just weird. The only thing different I did was add some grilled chicken (which I doubt added to the weirdness of the dish). My husband asked me to never make this one again; I can’t disagree with him. I’ll be interested to see what y’all think of this one & any tips that you might have.

Salmon & Couscous Skillet Supper (page 129)

This was ok, but I don’t think I will make it again. I used salmon steaks, omitted the lemon zest (which I’m glad that I did because it was already a little too citrusy<-- is that a word?!), & added a cup of frozen peas. I will say that step 4 (toasting the fish) is the most important & really adds a lot of flavor to the fish. And as a precautionary tip, on step 5 really be careful to stir the couscous frequently (I don’t think high heat is really needed, but if you do use high heat be sure to stir)

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Skillet Baked Ziti ~ page 140

Another recipe that we loved! I was too busy today with a sick kid to ever get the chicken thawed out that I was gonna bake with this, so we had a meatless dinner and there were no complaints. It reminded me of Chicken Parmesan without the chicken! I think you could easily add meat to this if you wanted. The only thing I changed was to add 1/2 more mozzarella cheese on top. 1 cup seemed skimpy. Oh, they did say to use a 12 inch non stick skillet, I just don't like baking in Teflon at a high temps, so I used a stainless skillet and had no problems at all with sticking. I did set the timer and it took me 39 minutes! That might have been because I was cleaning up as I was going. I'm sure in their test kitchen they leave a big mess since they have a crew to clean up after them! Now that I have made it, I bet the next time I could do it in 30 min!
My girls have it a thumbs up as they licked their bowls! --Carissa

Un-Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Dijon, Ham, and Gruyere (p.227)

WOW! All I can say about this recipe is SO delicious but SO bad for your waist line! It was a huge hit at our house. I had to really restrain myself. I didn't change anything from the recipe at all. I have to say the Dijon mustard really added a lot of flavor to the chicken.
I even got our son to help in making this dish. He had a lot of fun breaking up the Ritz crackers for me.
The dish going into the oven. I used all the sauce in the skillet, but I think you can use as much as you like. I am glad I did because the finishing sauce was a perfect way to bring the meal together.
The final product

A couple of things I will do different next time:
* I used very thick chicken breast and I believe thinner breasts would be a better fit. The chicken was still great, but a lot of it. We had enough left over for dinner tonight.
*Instead of using regular Ritz crackers, I will use reduced fast or whole wheat instead.
*Finally I would replace the heavy whipping cream with fat-free half and half.

I always like to try a new recipe as it is written, but if I know it is a dish I will be cooking again (like this one) and it isn't necessarily the best for you, then I like to make changes that I can to help make it healthier but not take away dish.

A very special thank you to my amazing husband who helped me a lot with this dish. He is an incredible cook and I couldn't ask for a better person to help me out in the kitchen. Thanks Byron!
- Michelle

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Skillet Tamale Pie (page 119)

This was a very good dish, lots of flavor! I did add more cilantro than what it calls for because my husband really likes cilantro. I also choose to use 93/7 ground beef instead of the 90 and I used fat free sour cream as well. I will be making this dish again for my family. I think next time I make this dish I am going to try it using fat-free shredded cheese and maybe top with Panko bread crumbs and see how that works.
I did choose to go ahead and mince the onions and garlic ahead of time. I find doing that for any recipes that call for them just seems to help with the cooking process. This was my first recipe from the new cookbook, and if the rest are this easy and tasty, I will be a happy cook!
Trying another dish tonight for dinner. :) - Michelle

Friday, March 4, 2011

Crispy Chicken Fingers ~ page 200

These were very good, just not very good for you! :) The coating was very crispy! I think if you were really rushing around you could maybe make these in 30 minutes, but it would be tight! But you know what?...the cleanup took 30 minutes! Seriously...I had 3 different containers for the flour, egg and breadcrumb dipping stations, plus flour and breadcrumbs everywhere, granted some of this is from having kids helping me, but then I had a raw chicken container, then a greasy cooked chicken baking sheet, plus the skillet, and that is only half the mess...I had to scrub the splattered grease off the stove top and other burners! Guess I need to get a grease splatter screen! All that to say, they were good, but alot of trouble. It took 3 batches of frying to get them all done. (this is a great way to season a cast iron skillet!)

I think I would make them again, just not right away. My house needs to air out...I woke up to a greasy smelling house this morning. Next time I will season the breadcrumbs and flour...the recipe just says to season the raw chicken pieces, I thought it needed a bit more. The recipe does say that you can freeze the extra cooked strips and microwave them for one minute for a quick snack. I tried this at lunch today and it actually was really convenient! They were even crispy when they came out of the microwave. I have to go finish my lunch....--Carissa