Category Archives: quick and easy

Super Nifty S’mores Brownies

I was looking around online today to see what I could do for dessert tonight and came across s’mores. I thought to myself that s’mores are something I haven’t had in ages and that their multiple layers of sweet goodness is something that might make for a good dessert for tonight. I then asked myself how I can make them with the things I have home already. I remembered I had box brownie mix, graham crackers, and butter at home already, so all I would need are marshmallows and I would be able to create a kind of brownie s’more. yum.

Ingredients:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

1- 1 box brownie mix

2- about 4 graham crackers smashed to crumbs and places in a bowl

3- about 6 tablespoons butter, melted

4- marshmellows

Directions:

1- Melt the butter.

2- Add the melted butter to the smashed graham crackers and stir to coat. All the graham crackers should be evenly coated.

3- Press the graham cracker crust into small custard cups, ramekins, or a pie plate. I didn’t have enough custard cups, so I ended up using some custard cups and some individual tart pans, which worked out alright.

4- Pre-bake the crust(s) for about 8-10 minutes. While the crust bakes, make the brownie mix.

5- Take the crust(s) out of the oven and evenly divide the brownie mix among the custard cups or pour the mix into the pie plate.

6- Bake for about 30 mins or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

7- Once done, take the marshmallows and place some on top of the fully baked brownie. Broil on high until the marshmallows are at your desired level of brownness.

Serve warm.

 

Rice Noodles with Asian Fish Sauce

I haven’t posted in about a week, maybe more, so I have some catching up to do. This was my second time specifically making a meal in order to create leftovers. This dish created 6 portions total. The recipe is from a book called Good Housekeeping Fast Weeknight Favorites. I’ll probably be making a bunch of things from here and posting them.

This was really quite easy to put together. I really liked the subtle taste of the fish sauce. A little bit goes a very long way. I would definitely recommend using the fish sauce because it really makes the dish. The book does note that say sauce can be used as a substitute.

The book noted that this recipe should take about 25 minutes total, but it took about 30 minutes- with two people working.

Ingredients:

1- 8 oz package rice noodles

2- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

3- 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

4- 1 medium onion, thinly sliced

5- 12 ounces ground beef (we used ground turkey)

6- 1/2 cup chicken broth

7- 3 tablespoons Asian fish sauce (nam pla or nuoc nam)

8- 1 teaspoon sugar

9- 3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

To garnish:

10- chopped fresh cilantro

11- beansprouts

12- peanuts

13- cucumber, thinly sliced

Directions:

1- Bring a pot of water to a boil. Turn off the heat and soak the noodles for about 5 minutes. They cook up very fast.

2- Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until golden. Add the beef or turkey and cook, breaking it up, until browned and cooked through.

3- Stir in broth, fish sauce, sugar, and crushed red pepper. Simmer uncovered until thickened slightly, about 5 minutes.

4- Add the drained noodles and use tongs to combine all ingredients.

5- Put noodles into bowl and garnish with above ingredients as desired.

 

Tomato Sauce with Onion

I chose this sauce last night mainly because of how easy it is to prepare and quite frankly, I was feeling lazy. This sauce has an amazingly pure, sweet taste and it can’t get any easier to prepare, although the suggested simmering time is quite long. It’s a perfect sauce for potato gnocchi, but it is also superb on spaghetti or penne. I decided to be a bit contumacious and went against the suggestions of the queen of Italian cooking (in my mind), Marcella Hazan, and actually served this sauce with bowtie pasta because who can deny how fun bowtie pasta is?!  They’re in the shapes of little bowties!

There are a few basic ingredients:

1- one large can of Imported plum tomatoes with juices(spring and get the ones that are actually imported from Italy)

2- 2 tablespoons butter

3- 1 medium onion, peeled and sliced (you can either dice or cut into strips)

4- salt

Directions:

1- This is the messy part. You have to pluck the tomatoes from the can and cut them up into rough thirds. Make sure to save the juices!

2- Slice or dice the onion. Make the amount of onion you slice proportionate to the tomatoes.

3- Put the tomatoes, onion, and butter in a saucepan. Add some salt and remember, you can always add more later.

4- Allow to simmer over a low flame for about 45 minutes. Stir the sauce every so often. If you see large bits of tomato, mash it with a spoon.

5- Once done, toss with your pasta.

I served my pasta and sauce with garlic bread and salad.

And to drink we had:

Magic Hat Not Quite Pale Ale- No thoughts really on this beer. I like it and thought it went well enough with the dish. I’m not a huge fan of  Pale Ales because they’re pretty hoppy, but I like this one. Maybe because it’s not quite a pale ale….

How to Boil Corn on the Cob

Tis the season for fresh corn and tis the season for me to mess up boiling corn on cob…every time. Last night was the first time we had it this season and I was determined not to mess it up. I looked up lots of recipes and chose the components I liked best from a bunch of different versions. The end product came out the best ever. Here’s what I did:

1- Fill a pot with water and add about 1/4 cup sugar

2- Add the corn and bring to a boil

3- Once the water comes to a rolling boil, let the corn boil for a few minutes. The time will depend on how many pieces of corn are in the pot. I boiled 2 pieces and, after the water was rolling, I left it for three minutes.

Marinade for Pork Chops

This past Saturday that ago old question arose once again- what are we going to make for dinner? We knew we wanted to grill and our original thinking was to make a pork tenderloin, but when we got the store, it was $15! There was no way I was going to spend that much money. We decided to go with thick cut pork chops. Who needs the store’s marinade anyway? With the help of foodnetwork. com, we knew we could come up with something better anyway. When we got home I searched for a marinade and came across one by Alton Brown, who I think is awesome. He’s one of the hosts of Iron Chef. There are so many hosts on that show, I can’t keep them straight. Anyway, he’s the guy they show at the beginning and the end. I guess I knew he was also a chef- he certainly knows his ingredients. Anyway, the main ingredients in this recipe are strong brewed coffee and molasses. The only reason I had molasses laying around was because I made a shoo fly pie awhile back. I’m not a fan of molasses (or shoo fly pie), but with the mix of other ingredients in the recipe, all the flavors balance out nicely.

Notes:

I halved the recipe below for two thick cut pork chops.

I eyeballed most of the ingredients on the list-I hate to unnecessarily dirty extra things.

I did not add the ginger.

Here’s what you need:

  • 1 cup cool strong coffee
  • 6 ounces molasses
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 6 to 8 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Directions:
1- Mix all ingredients together in a ziploc bag.
2- Add pork chops and shake bag about until pork is coated.
3- Put in refrigerator and marinate for as long as you’re able.

Baked Potatoes

When I was young, I used to go to Wendy’s all the time for a baked potato with chives and sour cream and a small chili. This probably happened once a week. Those potatoes were so good, but as I recall, I never used to like the skin. I would put my toppings on and then just eat the inside. I can’t believe I didn’t like the skin! It has to be one of the best parts! When done right, it can be crunchy and full of flavor! So, last night we were stuck for what to make for dinner. Jim suggested baked potatoes. Of course I went all out on mine, while Jim went the boring route and just opted for a can of vegetarian chili. Luckily you can customize potatoes any way you want.

When deciding what type of potato to bake, you can use really any potato, but the typical type used is a Russet potato because of its starchiness. The starchiness is what gives the potato its fluffiness when baked.

Ingredients:

1- Potatoes

2- Whatever toppings you want

Directions:

1- pre heat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.

2- Wash the potatoes really well. Dry them.

3- Poke holes in the potato with a fork (about 4-5 pricks should do it).

4- Brush with olive oil and put some sea salt and pepper on the potato.

5- Place the potato on a sheet of foil and bake for at least an hour. You can go longer if you want crunchier skin.

6- Once out of the oven, cut the potato open to cool off and to add your toppings.

To my potato I added:

1- beef (I had a small amount frozen)

2- onion, pepper, and garlic (which I sauteed)

3- chives

4- basil

5- avocado (yum!)

6- olives

7- freshly grated Parmesan

And to drink:

We had Samuel Adams Rustic Saison, which is a fruity beer with a hoppy character.

Breaded Chicken with Peppers and Onions in a Balsamic Sauce

We haven’t had plain breaded chicken in awhile, I think, because breaded chicken, to me, has always seemed plain, bland, and boring. But with the use of homemade breadcrumbs and an easy pepper and onion side dish and a few additional minutes in the kitchen, a plain meal was fancied up a bit. Of course homemade bread crumbs are unnecessary, but if you have stale bread laying around, homemade crumbs add an extra dimension of taste and crunch.

For this recipe, all quantities really depend on much chicken you are going to make. I chose about a 1 lb of chicken tenders and will give quantities for that amount.

Ingredients:

1- chicken

2- one egg and one egg white, slightly whipped

3- breadcrumbs

4- 1 pepper

5- 1 small onion

6- 2 cloves garlic

7- balsamic vinegar

8- salt and pepper

9- 1 tbs sugar

10- olive oil

To Prep Ahead:

1- Cut the pepper into strips.

2- Cut the onion.

3- Dice the garlic.

Set all aside.

Directions:

1- Pre heat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with non stick spray.

2- Have the egg in one bowl and breadcrumbs in another. Bread the chicken by covering it with egg and then breadcrumbs. Place on the baking sheet for now (You will start the chicken in the pan, then move it to the oven).

3- Once all the chicken is breaded, sautee the chicken for about 2 minutes on each side over medium high heat. Let it get a nice crisp. Return the chicken to the baking sheet and finish in the pre heated oven. Depending on thickness, it should take about 15-20 minutes.

4- While the chicken is in the oven, wipe out the pan used for the chicken. Put some more olive oil in the pan (about 1.5 turns of the pan) and heat the pan on low to moderate heat. Once the pan is heated, add the peppers and the onions and cook until soft (don’t let them burn). Once you see they are starting to soften, add the garlic. After about a minute, add some salt and pepper to taste and the sugar. Also add the balsamic vinegar. You want to add enough to coat the peppers and onions plus a little extra. You want it to be able to simmer and thicken. Don’t add too much though because you will be there forever as it simmers down. Stir to combine and allow it a fews mins to thicken.

5- At this point, the chicken should be about done. Remove the chicken and serve with the peppers and onions.

And to drink:

We had this with Samuel Adams East-West Kolsch. With its citrusy undertones, however, we found it to be a bit light.

Prosciutto Panini on Ciabatta with Tomato and Parmigiano-Reggiano

The word “panini” is of Italian origin. In the Italian language, however, “panini” is plural. In the US and lots of other countries, it is singular. You might go into Panera or someplace else and order a panini and get one sandwich, while in Italy, if you say panini, they might wait to hear how many. The proper singular word is “panino”. I guess this type of thing happens all the time with words…

Panini are typically made on ciabatta and are stuffed, most popularly, with prosciutto (or another type of cured meat) and cheese. I chose the prosciutto and cheese combo last night. The most important thing is balance when making panini. You definitely don’t want to over stuff the sandwich and you want to make sure the flavors compliment one another.

Ingredients:

ciabatta, tomato, cheese, prosciutto

Directions:

For our panini, I cut two fairly thin slices of ciabatta per person and lightly brushed them with olive oil.

I cut four slices of tomato, two per sandwich, put two slices of prosciutto on each sandwich, and then cut six slices of Parmigiano-Reggiano, three per sandwich.

I then put the panini on the pan and set the temperature on low, took another pan and lightly pressed down. After a few minutes, I checked the bottom to see if the desired darkness had been reached. I then flipped panini and repeated.

I served them with a salad.

Light Fettuccine Alfredo with Broccoli and Chicken

This past Saturday we got married in New Brunswick, NJ. It was a beautiful wedding and a fantastic reception- the music, the food, the photographers, everything. It’s a shame neither one of us was super hungry at the reception. We’ve been talking about for weeks how we weren’t going to be one of those couples who doesn’t really eat at their reception, but alas, we were. After the reception, we were talking and we were wondering if people don’t eat because they’re too busy greeting people or because they were so nervous the whole day that they just didn’t have an appetite? For us, it was the latter. Not nervous to get married, but anxious about everything going smoothly, which it did.

Anyway, one of our gifts was a pasta machine which rolls out flat the dough and cuts the pasta! It makes homemade pasta making alot easier! So, as our first post-wedding dinner, we made homemade fettuccine with a light Alfredo sauce with lemon pepper chicken and steamed broccoli.

For the pasta, use either store bought fettuccine or follow the recipe for homemade pasta, which can be found here: https://dessertcomesfirst.wordpress.com/?s=homemade+pasta. Allow an extra two hours if you’re going to hand make the pasta. If using broccoli and chicken, make before the alfredo sauce because it will be reheated in the sauce at the end.

What I realized when reading recipes is that I can’t stand when I’m moving along at a good pace, but come to realize I forgot to cut the pepper or the onion, or forgot to prep something else. This might be my fault because I never read recipes beforehand. I look at the picture, decide if we’ll like it, and then get cooking. So for all those people like me, I think what I’m going to do now is make a list of things that should be prepped before even getting started.

To prep ahead:

1- Cut broccoli into small bite size pieces

2- Mince 5 cloves of garlic

3- Grate 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese

This is what we did for the broccoli and chicken:

  • For the broccoli, we used one small head. Cut into small pieces and steam until desired tenderness.
  • For the chicken, put it in a Ziploc bag, coat lightly with olive oil, add some salt, pepper, some dried or fresh herbs, and some minced fresh garlic. Toss around to coat and let sit at room temp for about 15 minutes. After the 15 minutes, just heat some olive oil in the pan, add the chicken, and cook through. Once done, put the chicken aside and start the sauce.

For the alfredo sauce these are the ingredients:

      1 Tbsp. olive oil (eyeball it!)
      4 cloves garlic, minced
      2 cups skim milk
      1 cup chicken broth
      3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
      1/2 tsp. salt
      1/4 tsp. black pepper
    3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic and saute until golden brown. Remove from pan and put aside for now.

In the same saucepan, stir together milk, chicken broth, flour, salt and pepper over low heat until smooth and thick (about 5 minutes). Stir in garlic. Continue to cook over medium low heat, stirring frequently, until the sauce is thicker (about another 5 minutes). Stir in Parmesan cheese and let melt (about 1 minute). At this time stir in the broccoli and chicken and add the sauce to the pasta. Toss.

Enjoy with some bread, a salad, and a glass of Chardonnay, which is what we did:)

Chicken Curry

I’m in Urban Outfitters wandering about and drooling over all the dresses and the skirts and the shirts that I just can’t afford (they’re kinda overpriced anyway). I find myself in the home section and I come across the cookbooks. I’m always on the lookout for new cookbooks. I love the pictures! Anyway, I’m perusing this one cookbook wishing that I could buy it. It’s witty, fun, and has great recipes. I was so sure it would be like $30, but when I turn over the book, to my complete surprise, it was on sale for $2! Happiness. I take it and run to the register as if the price would change if I didn’t immediately leave the store. I love unexpected bargains. So this book is called Bite Me and it is written Julie Albert and Lisa Gnat. It’s fresh and fun. I think this book will become a staple, starting with tonight.  I made the Chicken Curry on page 143 and served it with rice. I made some additions and omissions to the recipe and I’ll make note of those, as usual.

Ingredients:

2 tbsp curry powder

1 tsp garam masala

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp chili powder

3 tbsp butter

1 onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 tsp ground ginger (I left this out)

1/2 tsp Kosher salt

1 tbsp tomato paste

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, sliced thinly

1/2 cup chicken broth

1 19oz can diced tomato, pulsed 2x in food processor

1 3/4 cups canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained (I left these out)

1 cup frozen peas

1/4 cup heavy cream

1 cup chopped roasted cashews (I left these out)

1 cup plain yogurt, for topping

I added carrots and scallions because I had them home

Directions:

1- In a large skillet, over medium-high heat, toast all of the spices until they become fragrant, about 30-60 seconds. Remove and set aside.

2- In the same skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until tender and golden. (At this point I added the carrots and scallions and let them cook for a few mins).

3- Add garlic, ginger, salt, tomato paste and spices. Stir to combine.

4- Increase heat to high, add sliced chicken and stir to coat with spice mixture. Add the chicken broth, processed tomoatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and let chicken cook and sauce thicken slightly, about 10 minutes.

5- Add chickpeas, peas and cream, cooking on medium heat for 3-5 minutes until heated through.

6- Serve over rice. Garnish with yogurt and cashews.

Dinner for the next two nights:)