Wednesday, April 27, 2011


I love marshmallows. I love them on smores, I love them toasted, I love them plain, I like them in cereal, hot chocolate is not hot chocolate without them...I could go on.
I've always wanted to give making marshmallows at home a shot, and yesterday, I was rather bored, so I gave it a try. It was quite a bit a work, since I don't have a stand mixer, I had to use my electric hand mixer, but other than that it wasn't bad. You have to let them sit overnight, but it's worth the wait.
And also, this recipe will make a big mess in your kitchen because of having to use so much powdered sugar. But messes can be fun sometimes, so long as they eventually get cleaned up, right?
I used Alton Brown's recipe for my first attempt at marshmallows. I followed it word for word, so I shall post a link below this next picture of soft, pillow-y deliciousness:

Alton Brown's Marshmallows

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Oven Fried Chicken and Succotash

This was one of my favorite meals that I have made in the past month. I love crispy chicken, and I love red pepper, corn and bacon. Well, who doesn't love bacon?
Now, lots of people say that chicken that is baked surely can't be as crispy or delicious as battered, deep-fried chicken. Well, they are mis-informed. Soaking the chicken for quite a few hours in buttermilk and then coating it in panko, combined with cooking it as a high temperature ensures that this chicken will be delightfully crispy.
And the succotash...oh my, yummy. Pretty darn easy and very darn delicious. I did use 1 extra strip of bacon and 1 extra ear of corn, because, well, I guess that doesn't really need an explanation, does it?

Oven-Fried Chicken (from Cook This Not That)

2 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup Frank's Red Hot pepper sauce
1 lb chicken drumsticks and thighs
2 cups panko bread crumbs
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne

Combine the buttermilk and hot sauce in a large bowl or a resealable plastic bag. Add the chicken and turn to coat. Cover the bowl or seal the bag and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour and up to 12.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. In a bowl, combine the bread crumbs with the spices. Working one piece at a time, remove the chicken from the buttermilk marinade and dip into the bread crumbs to thoroughly coat.
Place the breaded chicken on a nonstick baking sheet. Bake for about 20 minutes, until browned and crisp on the outside and cooked all the way through.
Makes 4 servings
310 calories
7 g fat (2.5 g saturated)
710 mg sodium


2 strips bacon, diced
4 scallions, chopped, greens and whites separated
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 ears corn, kernels removed from cob
2 cup frozen baby lima beans, thawed
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup half-and-half

Cook the bacon in a large saute pan over medium heat until brown and crispy, about 6 minutes. Remove and reserve.
Add the scallion whites and bell pepper and cook until the vegetables soften, about 3 minutes, then stir in the corn and lima beans. Cook for another 3 to 4 minutes, stirring, until the corn is lightly toasted. Turn the heat down to low, season the vegetables with salt and pepper, then add the half-and-half. Gently simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated and coasts the vegetables, about 3 minutes. Stir in the bacon and scallion greens.
Makes 4 servings
190 calories
5 g fat (2 g saturated)
270 mg sodium

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Coffee Rubbed Steak with Pico de Gallo

This recipe was pretty good. My brother was over for dinner and he and I both thought it was tasty, but the hubby didn't like the coffee flavor. He did like the pico though. But hey, 2 to 1 in favor is still a win, right?

Coffee-Rubbed Steak (from Cook This, Not That)

1/2 Tbsp very finely ground coffee or espresso
1/2 Tbsp chili powder
Salt and pepper to taste
1 lb flank or skirt steak
Pico de Gallo
1 lime, quartered

Preheat a grill, grill pan, or cast-iron skillet. Combine the coffee grounds with the chili powder, plus a few generous pinches of salt and pepper. Rub the spice mixture all over the steak. Cook the beef for 3 to 4 minutes per side, depending on the thickness, until slightly firm but still yielding. Let the steak rest for at least 5 minutes, then slice thinly against the grain of the meat. Serve with a big scoop of pico de gallo and a lime wedge.

4 servings
Per serving:
270 calories
15 g. fat (6 g sat)
600 mg sodium

Pico de Gallo (from Cook This, Not That)

4 Roma tomatoes, finely chopped
1 small red onion, finely diced
1 jalapeno, minced
1 handful fresh cilantro, chopped
Juice of 1 lime
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl. Keep covered in fridge for up to 1 week.
Makes about 3 cups.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Fish Tacos

Now, this is kind of a recipe and kind of just instructions on how to put several recipes together :)
No picture today because I'm tired of putting low quality photos on here. But I'm thinking about doing something altogether different with my blog, but haven't decided yet. I will keep you updated.

Now, fish tacos. Here are the instructions for the different elements:
I use small flour tortillas, and put a little shredded cheddar down the center of each tortilla.
I then add some homemade coleslaw, you can find the recipe here.
Then comes some kernel corn that has been quickly sauteed in butter and paprika. (I used canned shoepeg corn this time around).
For the fish I just use tilapia that I into 3 x 2" pieces, dredged in flour that's been seasoned with salt and pepper, and pan-fried in olive oil. Place over the coleslaw, and squeeze a little lime juice over all of it, then fold up the tortilla to resemble a taco and secure with a toothpick.
My husband claims these are the best fish tacos he's ever had. They are nummy, and quite simple.
Sorry no picture today, but I'm am trying to come up with a solution for that :D

Monday, April 4, 2011

Three in One: Pulled Pork Sandwiches and Coleslaw

Okay, I've actually got three recipes for you today. One for Pulled Pork Sandwiches, one for homemade mayo (easier than you'd think) and one for coleslaw using said mayo.
Okay, first things first. Cue the easiest pulled pork recipe ever.

1 pork loin
1 can or small bottle Dr. Pepper
1 bottle your choice BBQ sauce

Stick the pork loin in a crockpot and pour the soda over it. Cook on high for 6 hours. Drain the juice, reserving one cup. Shred the pork and then pour the BBQ sauce over it, stirring well. Add the reserved juice as needed.

The end. Told you it was easy. And delicious.

Now for the mayonnaise. I was so amazed by how much better this stuff tastes as compared to the store bought stuff. And it is really, really easy if you follow the directions carefully and especially if you've got somebody to help you. As most of you probably know, mayo is simply an emulsion of egg yolks, oil, and (in my recipe anyway) vinegar. The recipe I have says that it can be made in the food processor, however, when I tried that today, the processor turned out to be too harsh of a way of mixing the yolks and oil (since a processor uses a high-speed blade instead of a whisk), and it ended up being a liquid-y, oily, frankly disgusting mess. So I had to admit defeat on the first try and start over. Hey, it's all part of cooking. It could probably been done in a stand mixer with the whisk attachment on a medium to medium low speed. I don't have a stand mixer, however, so I did it the super old school way with a bowl and a whisk. And a helpful husband :)

2 egg yolks
2 tsps Dijon mustard
1 3/4 cups vegetable oil exactly, no more, no less
4 tsp white wine vinegar
Lemon juice to taste (I usually use about 1 Tbsp)
Salt and pepper to taste

First off, it's VERY important that all your ingredients are at room temperature. If your starting mix of yolks and mustard is cold, this just isn't going to work. So ingredients at room temperature. What I did was put the yolks and mustard in a bowl, mixed them up a tad, and then zapped them in the microwave at 4 seconds intervals just until they were at room temp, being very careful not to start cooking the egg. :D
Okay, so whisk the mustard and yolks until just frothy, and then (and this is easiest if you have a helping hand) pour the oil into the mixture in a slow, slow, steady stream, whilst whisking vigorously. This is best if you have one person whisking and one pouring. And yes, you will be getting a workout with this step. After all the oil is whisked in thoroughly, then whisk in the vinegar, lemon juice and salt and pepper. Voila. Mayonnaise. This recipe makes about 2 cups. Store it in the fridge in an airtight container. And it's very, very yummy, by the way.

I personally think everybody should try making homemade mayonnaise at least once. After that first time, they will probably get addicted to it like I did.

Okay, last part of this dinner: making the coleslaw. A lot of this recipe is up to personal taste. Some people like their coleslaw drippy and runny, some like it creamy and chunky, etc. I made this recipe easily customizable.


1 head green cabbage, finely chopped or shredded
1-2 carrots, finely chopped or shredded
A little or much mayo as you like
A little or much apple cider vinegar as you like
Salt and pepper to taste
Whatever else strikes your fancy

Stir it all up and serve.

Enjoy your almost completely homemade meal!!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Homemade Buttermilk Ranch and Confetti Salad

I love ranch dressing. And I love salads with random chopped veggies in them. And there really is nothing better than when all the elements are homemade. This kind of meal is perfect for hot, humid days.. like today was here in KS.

If you've never had homemade ranch salad dressing I highly encourage you to try this. I got the recipe from the original Tightwad Gazette book. It's nummy-licious. I made the salad up. :D

Confetti Salad

1/2 half medium head cabbage, roughly chopped
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
1 medium cucumber, seeded and diced
2 carrots, sliced
2 tomatoes, sliced
A handful of shredded cheddar cheese
Sliced mushrooms, optional


Homemade Buttermilk Ranch

1 cup mayo
1 cup buttermilk
2 Tbsp finely chopped green onions, tops only
1/4 tsp onion powder
2 tsp minced parsley
1/4 tsp garlic powder or 1/2 to 1 garlic cloves, finely minced
1/4 tsp paprika
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

Either whisk ingredients in a bowl or combine in a small food processor. Refrigerate in an air tight container. Makes 2 cups.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Apple Dumplings!

Apple dumplings. So amazingly awesome. Before today I had never, ever made homemade apple dumplings all by my little lonesome. So this was kind of like a challenge for me. No, really, these things were a challenge and a pain in the ass. But, oh gosh, were they ever worth it. There really isn't any other dessert that is quite as homey-licious as the apple dumpling. And you can not, I repeat, can not, consume this dessert without copious amounts of vanilla ice cream. (Yes, I added quite a little bit more ice cream after I was done taking pictures...) Yummy.

As I said before, this is a difficult dessert to master. I used the recipe from the Fannie Farmer cookbook, and they were very nummy, but whew! The pastry was rather hard to work with, since dumpling dough is right smack in the middle of just wet enough and way too freaking wet. Which means if you're not God and super-careful it's going to tear on you. That should explain to you why my dumplings kind of look like they've been mauled by a bear. The recipe says to roll the dough into a square that is 13" x 13" and then cut 4 6 1/2" squares. I did. To the exact centimeter, actually. Before you go off and make these, let me tell you that 13 x 13 is way to small. I ended up having to trim my apples down rather a lot to make the pastry fit all the way around them. But they turned out delicious in the end anyway, and that's what counts, right?

Also, I added a little touch of Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey to the sauce for the dumplings. Why? Because I felt like it, that's why. And it was Everything else I followed to the letter.

Oh, and just so I don't feel like I led you into this without fair warning, this is what my kitchen looked like after my epic struggle:

Yeah.... but hey, it only took 15 minutes to clean it all up and make everything right as rain :D

Apple Dumplings adapted from the Fannie Farmer Cookbook

3/4 cup apple juice
1/2 cup water
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
3 Tbs. butter
A sploosh of Bourbon, or more if you're an alcoholic. (And yes sploosh is a precise measurement) optional

2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 Tsp. salt
2/3 cup vegetable shortening
1/2 cup cold milk

4 whole apples (I used Golden Delicious, not too tart, not too sweet), peeled and cored
2 Tbs sugar
1/2 cup cream

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Have ready a 9 x 9 inch square baking pan. Combine the apple juice, water, bourbon (if using), cinnamon, nutmeg and butter in a small saucepan and heat, stirring several times, until the butter melts. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Put the flour, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl, and stir them together. Drop in the shortening and work it into the flour using a pastry blender, two knives, or your fingertips, mixing until the fat is reduced to tiny uneven particles and mixture resembles fresh bread crumbs. Pour in the milk and stir with a fork just until the dough holds together. Form the dough into a square cake about 1 inch thick and place it on a lightly floured, smooth surface. With a rolling pin, roll the dough lightly in all directions, lifting it frequently to sure the dough isn't sticking to the surface, and keeping it as square as possible. Roll until the dough is about 13 inches square and 1/8 inch thick. (I would recommend trying to make the square just a tad larger than 13 inches square). Cut the dough into four equal squares. Place an apple in the center of each square and bring the four corners of the dough together at the top, enclosing the apple completely. Give the four attached corners a clockwise twist, which seals the dumpling and adds a decorative topknot. (Or if you're careless like me, you can just mush is all closed, so that yes, it's ugly, but definitely sealed.)

Put the dumplings in the baking dish about 1 inch apart. Pour the sauce you made early over the dumplings and sprinkle each with 1/2 Tbs sugar. Bake for about 25 minutes, basting the dumplings with the sauce several times. Pour the cream into the sauce and bake for about 15 minutes more. The dumplings are done when the pastry is golden and the apples are tender when pierced with a skewer. Remove from the oven and serve warm with the sauce from the pan and vanilla ice cream. (Don't you dare forget the ice cream).

Caprese Sandwich

Can I just say how much I love fresh chunk mozzarella cheese? I can? Okay, I LOVE mozzarella chunk cheese!! And this sandwich was perfect for indulging in that love.

This recipe was super duper easy and very quick to put together. I got the recipe from the Cook This, Not That recipe book. I will probably being blogging quite a few recipes from that book this month, actually, so be prepared. The recipe says to cut the baguette into quarters, which results in 4 lunch-portion sized sandwiches. This sandwich was nice because while filling, it tasted deliciously light.
It would make a great sandwich for an afternoon picnic in the sunshine!

And since the cookbook I got this from included the nutrition facts, so shall I. Enjoy!

Caprese Sandwich

1 baguette, sliced in half lengthwise
1 clove garlic, peeled and cut in half
2 large heirloom tomatoes, sliced
4 oz fresh mozzarella, sliced
15-20 fresh basil leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp balsamic  vinegar

Preheat the broiler. Broil the baguette, cut sides up, 6" from heat, for about 2 minutes, until the inside is lightly toasted. Rub each half with a half clove of garlic; the crusty bread will release the garlic's essential oils, giving you instant garlic bread.
Layer the bottom half of the baguette, alternating with slices of tomato, mozzarella, and basil leaves. Season evenly with salt and lots of fresh black pepper. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil and vinegar, then top with the other baguette half. Cut the whole package into four pieces.

Makes 4 sandwiches / Cost per serving: $2.96

300 calories
17 g fat (4.5 g saturated)
410 mg sodium