Sunday, October 15, 2017

Cheesy Million Dollar Baked Penne

Who doesn't love a big pan of cheesy baked pasta? I saw so many variations of "Million Baked Penne" on pinterest but when I saw a post from blogger behind Carlsbad Cravings with her delicious baked penne recipe, I had to make it. Needless to say it was a massive hit in our household!!! Dr. Sweetpea ate so much I thought he wouldn't eat anything the next day. This is definitely something I'll be making for us again. 


Cheesy Million Dollar Baked Penne
(Source: Carlsbad Cravings) 

1 pound penne pasta, uncooked
6-8 slices provolone cheese
1 1/2 cups sour cream
3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese more or less to taste
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese more or less to taste

Meat Sauce
1 pound lean ground beef
1 pound bulk Italian Sausage
1 onion, chopped
6-8 garlic cloves, minced
1  (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes in puree
1  (15 oz) can tomato sauce
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons beef bouillon
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4-1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Cook pasta in salted water according to package directions just until al dente – don’t overcook! Strain and rinse with cold water. In a Dutch oven, brown ground beef, sausage and onion over medium heat. Add garlic and cook 30 more seconds. Drain grease. Add all remaining Sauce ingredients and bring to a simmer. Simmer gently uncovered for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile preheat oven to 350 degrees F. When oven reaches full temperate, mix cooked pasta with Sauce. In a 9x13 pan, layer evenly: 1/2 the pasta, 1/2 mozzarella, all provolone, all sour cream, remaining pasta, remaining mozzarella and top with Parmesan. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes or until cheese is melted. Broil until cheese is golden. Garnish with fresh parsley if desired.

Chrissy Teigen's Banana Bundt Cake

I'm a huge fan of Chrissy Teigen. She's beautiful, witty, speaks her mind, and also creates tasty recipes. When I saw her post the recipe for her Banana Bundt Cake as a teaser for upcoming cookbing, Cravings 2, I had to make it! This Banana Bundt Cake recipe is super easy to make and so tasty! Dr. Sweetpea kept raving about how good it was and to make it again later. Definitely a keeper. 


Banana Bundt Cake
(Source: Chrissy Teigen)

2 cups mashed bananas
4 large eggs
2/3 cup canola oil
2 cups flour
2 cups granulated white sugar
1 (3.5 oz) box vanilla instant pudding mix
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut (I omitted)
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Combined mashed bananas, eggs, and oil in a large bowl. In a different large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, pudding mix, baking soda and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the bowl with wet ingredients and combine.  Fold in shredded coconut and chocolate chips. Pour into greased and floured bundt pan. Bake at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for 1 hour. Cool and cut into slices.



Thursday, October 12, 2017

Skillet Shepherd's Pie

Both Dr. Sweetpea and I love Shepherd's Pie since it's so comforting and super easy to make. I noticed that we had some potatoes that were about to go back, so I made this easy but tasty meal midweek and it was a huge hit. Dr. Sweetpea even took a huge serving to work with him for lunch the next day. No pictures this time but definitely make this!

Skillet Shepherd's Pie
(Source: Jo Cooks Blog) 

For Meat Mixture
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/4 pounds lean ground beef
salt and pepper to taste
1 large onion chopped
1 clove garlic minced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1.9 oz onion soup mix I used Knorr, 55g pkg
1 cup beef broth
2 cups frozen veggies I used mix of peas, carrots, green beans and corn

For Mashed Potatoes
6 large potatoes peeled and cut into cubes
4 tablespoons butter softened
2/3 cup milk
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoons fresh parsley for garnish


Start by first cooking the potatoes in boiling water for about 15 minutes or until fork tender. While the potatoes are cooking, you can prepare the meat mixture. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the ground beef to the skillet and cook it for about 5 minutes or until it's no longer pink, breaking it up as you go along. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 3 more minutes until the onion softens and becomes translucent. Add the pepper flakes, Worcestershire sauce, onion soup mix, beef broth and stir. Stir in the frozen veggies and cook for a couple more minutes. Set aside. Preheat the oven 350 F degrees. Prepare the mashed potatoes. Drain the potatoes then add them to a large bowl. Add in the butter and using a potato masher, mash until smooth. Add the milk, Parmesan cheese, salt pepper and mash a bit a more until smooth. Spread the potatoes over the meat and smooth with a spoon. Take a fork and rough up the top a bit and garnish with a bit of parsley. Place the skillet on a baking sheet, then place it in the oven and bake for 40 minutes until golden brown on top. Garnish with more parsley and pepper and serve warm.


Saturday, October 7, 2017

The Best French Toast Ever

This is the BEST French Toast that we've ever made at home. The bread is custardy without being eggy and has a subtle warm hint vanilla and the cinnamon makes it even better. Dr. Sweetpea couldn't stop raving about how good the french toast was and he even said it's better than anything he's ever had from a restaurant. This will definitely be our go-to recipe for french toast. 


French Toast
(Source: America's Test Kitchen) 

8              large slices hearty white sandwich bread or good-quality challah**
1 1/2        cups whole milk, warmed
3              large egg yolks
3              tablespoons light brown sugar
1/2           teaspoon ground cinnamon
2              tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus 2 tablespoons for cooking
1/4           teaspoon table salt
1              tablespoon vanilla extract
maple syrup

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees. Place bread on wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet. Bake bread until almost dry throughout (center should remain slightly moist), about 16 minutes, flipping slices halfway through cooking. Remove bread from rack and let cool 5 minutes. Return baking sheet with wire rack to oven and reduce temperature to 200 degrees. Whisk milk, yolks, sugar, cinnamon, 2 tablespoons melted butter, salt, and vanilla in large bowl until well blended. Transfer mixture to 13- by 9-inch baking pan. Soak bread in milk mixture until saturated but not falling apart, 20 seconds per side. Using firm slotted spatula, pick up bread slice and allow excess milk mixture to drip off; repeat with remaining slices. Place soaked bread on another baking sheet or platter. Heat ½ tablespoon butter in 12-inch skillet over medium-low heat. When foaming subsides, use slotted spatula to transfer 2 slices soaked bread to skillet and cook until golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Flip and continue to cook until second side is golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes longer. (If toast is cooking too quickly, reduce temperature slightly.) Transfer to baking sheet in oven. Wipe out skillet with paper towels. Repeat cooking with remaining bread, 2 pieces at a time, adding ½ tablespoon of butter for each batch. Serve warm, passing maple syrup separately.

**We used Trader Joe’s thick sliced French Brioche bread**

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Double Crust Chicken Pot Pie

Even though it's still really hot and humid in Houston, everyone is getting in the autumn spirit. I truly miss living in the Midwest during this time of the year because I miss the cold/crisp air in the morning and am starting to get tired of the humidity. I'm sure my tune will change when winter rolls around and everyone else is knee deep in snow and we're swimming in our pool. Anyway, to get in the autumn spirit, I made a delicious Chicken Pot Pie from scratch. It's the ultimate comfort food and soooo delicious. Dr. Sweetpea said it's the best Chicken Pot Pie he's ever had. This is something that I'll make again during the cooler months.


Double Crust Chicken Pot Pie
(Source: Cooks Country)

CRUST
1/2         cup sour cream, chilled
1            large egg, lightly beaten
2 1/2      cups (12 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 1/2      teaspoons Salt
12          tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces and chilled

FILLING
4              tablespoons unsalted butter
1              onion, chopped fine
2              carrots peeled and cut into 1/4-inch pieces (2/3 cup)
2              celery ribs, cut into 1/4-inch pieces (1/2 cup)
1/2           teaspoon Salt
1/2           teaspoon pepper
6              tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 1/4        cups chicken broth
1/2           cup half-and-half
1              small russet potato (6 ounces), peeled and cut into 1/4-inch pieces (1 cup)
1              teaspoon minced fresh thyme
1              (2 1/2-pound) rotisserie chicken, meat shredded into bite-size pieces (3 cups)
3/4           cup frozen peas
1              large egg, lightly beaten

FOR THE CRUST: Combine sour cream and egg in bowl. Process flour and salt in food processor until combined, about 3 seconds. Add butter and pulse until only pea-size pieces remain, about 10 pulses. Add half of sour cream mixture and pulse until combined, 5 pulses. Add remaining sour cream mixture and pulse until dough begins to form, about 10 pulses. Transfer mixture to lightly floured counter and knead briefly until dough comes together. Divide dough in half and form each half into 4-inch disk. Wrap disks tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. (Wrapped dough can be refrigerated for up to 2 days or frozen for up to 2 months. If frozen, let dough thaw completely on counter before rolling.) Let chilled dough sit on counter to soften slightly, about 10 minutes, before rolling. Roll 1 disk of dough into 12-inch circle on lightly floured counter. Loosely roll dough around rolling pin and gently unroll it onto 9-inch pie plate, letting excess dough hang over edge. Ease dough into plate by gently lifting edge of dough with your hand while pressing into plate bottom with your other hand. Roll other disk of dough into 12-inch circle on lightly floured counter, then transfer to parchment paper–lined baking sheet; cover with plastic. Refrigerate both doughs for 30 minutes.

FOR THE FILLING: Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 450 degrees. Melt butter in large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, carrots, celery, salt, and pepper and cook until vegetables begin to soften, about 6 minutes. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, until golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Slowly stir in broth and half-and-half and bring to boil over medium-high heat. Stir in potato and thyme. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until sauce is thickened and potato is tender, about 8 minutes. Off heat, stir in chicken and peas. Transfer filling to dough-lined pie plate. Loosely roll remaining dough round around rolling pin and gently unroll it onto filling. Trim overhang to 1/2 inch beyond lip of plate. Pinch edges of top and bottom crusts firmly together. Tuck overhang under itself; folded edge should be flush with edge of plate. Crimp dough evenly around edge of plate using your fingers. Cut four 2-inch slits in top of dough. Brush top of pie with egg. Place pie on rimmed baking sheet. Bake until top is light golden brown, 18 to 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees, rotate sheet, and continue to bake until crust is deep golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes longer. Let pie cool on wire rack for at least 45 minutes. Serve.


Saturday, September 9, 2017

Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread with Hawaiian Chicken

Dr. Sweetpea loves cornbread so much that he could have it as a side to everything everyday and not get tired of eating cornbread. So of course whenever I see a recipe that looks good, I always save it so I can make it for him. I saw this Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread recipe in my Cooks Country magazine so I made it as a side to go along with our grilled Hawaiian Chicken. It shouldn't be a surprise that he loved everything about his meal and he devoured everything in no time flat. I'm definitely keeping both these recipes in my recipe collection.


Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread
(Source: Cooks Country)

1 1/2 cups (7 1/2 ounces) yellow cornmeal
1 cup (5 ounces) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/4 cups whole milk
2 large eggs
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
6 ounces extra-sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (1 1/2 cups)
4 jalapeño chiles, stemmed, seeded, and minced (3/4 cup)

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Grease light-colored 9-inch round cake pan, line with parchment paper, and grease parchment. Whisk cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in large bowl. Whisk milk, eggs, and melted butter together in second bowl. Stir milk mixture into cornmeal mixture until just combined. Stir in 1 cup cheddar and jalapeños until just combined. Transfer batter to prepared pan, smooth top with spatula, and sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheddar. Bake until cornbread is deep golden brown, top is firm to touch, and paring knife inserted in center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking. Let cornbread cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove cornbread from pan, discarding parchment, and let cool completely, about 1 hour. Serve.

Hawaiian Chicken
(Source: Damn Delicious)

1/4 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup pineapple juice
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons ketchup
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon Sriracha, optional
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves

In a medium bowl, whisk together soy sauce, pineapple juice, brown sugar, ketchup, garlic, ginger, sesame oil and Sriracha. Reserve 1/4 cup and set aside. In a gallon size Ziploc bag or large bowl, combine soy sauce mixture and chicken; marinate for at least 1 hour to overnight, turning the bag occasionally. Drain the chicken from the marinade. Preheat grill to medium-high heat and grill chicken until it’s cooked through while basting with the reserved sauce. 


Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Glazed Salmon with Dilly Mustard Sauce

Salmon is a hit or miss in our household. Sometimes I'll try out a new salmon recipe and Dr. Sweetpea will either hate it OR he'll love it so much that he'll devour everything in one sitting (which is what happened when I tried this recipe). I buy salmon regularly because it's healthy and more affordable than Halibut (which Dr. Sweetpea LOVES). I saw that our local H-E-B had center cut salmon on sale recently and decided to try this recipe the day I bought the fish. Dr. Sweetpea was a huge skeptic about the salmon recipe but it literally took only one bite for him to go over the moon. Dr. Sweetpea repeatedly told me to keep the recipe and to never ever lose it because the salmon was amazing. This is also another keeper for us. 


Glazed Salmon with Dilly Mustard Sauce
(Source: Cooks Country) 

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar (I used white balsamic vinegar)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill leaves, plus a few sprigs for garnish
4 salmon fillets, each about 6 ounces
Salt and pepper

Adjust oven rack so that it sits about 6 inches from heating element and heat broiler. Line rimmed baking sheet with foil for easy cleanup.

Whisk mustard, honey, and vinegar in medium bowl. Whisk in oil, then transfer 3 tablespoons mustard mixture to small bowl and stir in soy sauce. Whisk dill into mustard mixture in medium bowl.

Arrange salmon fillets on baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper and brush top and sides with mustard-soy glaze. Broil salmon until tops are just browned and a peek at inside of fish with paring knife shows that they are just cooked through, 5 to 8 minutes (I cooked the fish for 7 minutes and it was perfect). Transfer salmon to serving platter, garnish with dill sprigs, and serve with mustard-dill sauce.

(Note: Since we didn't have any dill at home, I sprinkled some dried thyme leaves and crushed red pepper flakes on top of the fish.)




Monday, September 4, 2017

Skillet Roasted Chicken in Lemon Sauce

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner! This is one of the best and easiest chicken dinners to make. The skin is super crispy and the sauce is just amazing! Dr. Sweetpea couldn't stop raving about this meal while he was eating it. Also, both of us loved the lemon sauce so much that we used our baguette bread pieces to sop up all the sauce from our plates. Yes, it's that. good. I served the chicken with some mushroom risotto and it was the perfect pairing. This will definitely be in our regular meal rotation.


Skillet Roasted Chicken in Lemon Sauce
(Source: America's Test Kitchen)

1/2 cup salt
3 pounds bone-in chicken pieces (I used just chicken thighs)
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large shallot, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
4 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1 cup chicken broth
4 teaspoons grated lemon zest plus 1/4 cup juice (2 lemons)
1 tablespoon fresh parsley leaves
1 teaspoon fresh oregano leaves

Dissolve salt in 2 quarts cold water in large container. Submerge chicken in brine, cover, and refrigerate for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Remove chicken from brine and pat dry with paper towels.

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 475 degrees. Heat oil in ovensafe 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Place chicken skin side down in skillet and cook until skin is well browned and crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. Flip thighs and continue to cook until browned on second side, 3 to 5 minutes longer. Transfer thighs to plate. 

Pour off and discard fat in skillet. Return skillet to medium heat; add butter, shallot, and garlic and cook until fragrant, 30 seconds. Sprinkle flour evenly over shallot-garlic mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until flour is lightly browned, about 1 minute. Slowly stir in broth and lemon juice, scraping up any browned bits, and bring to simmer. Cook until sauce is slightly reduced and thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in 1 tablespoon zest and remove skillet from heat. Return chicken, skin side up (skin should be above surface of liquid), and any accumulated juices to skillet and transfer to oven. Cook, uncovered, until thighs register 175 degrees, 10 to 12 minutes.

While chicken cooks, chop parsley, oregano, and remaining 1 teaspoon zest together until finely minced and well combined. Remove skillet from oven and let chicken stand for 5 minutes.

Transfer chicken to serving platter. Whisk sauce, incorporating any browned bits from sides of pan, until smooth and homogeneous, about 30 seconds. Whisk half of herb-zest mixture into sauce and sprinkle remaining half over chicken. Pour some sauce around chicken. Serve, passing remaining sauce separately.



Saturday, September 2, 2017

Union Square Cafe's Chocolate Biscotti

Want a great chocolate biscotti recipe? This is it! I made these on whim a few weeks ago and they were a massive hit. Dr. Sweetpea couldn't stop eating them and when he brought them to work, his coworkers were raving about how good they were. These are fancy enough to add to my Christmas Cookie tins that I gave away to family and friends every year. Definitely a keeper and one that you'll enjoy just as much as we did. 


Union Square Cafe Chocolate Biscotti
(Source: New York Times)

2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 3/4 cups lightly packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 ounces (4 tablespoons) butter, at room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon double-strength brewed espresso
3 large eggs
7 1/2 ounces (1 rounded cup) small milk chocolate chips
1 large egg, beaten and mixed with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash
2 tablespoons raw sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12- by 17-inch baking sheet with parchment paper or nonstick liner. Sift together the flour, cocoa, salt and baking soda; set aside.

Using a heavy-duty electric mixer, cream together the brown sugar, granulated sugar and butter for 3 to 5 minutes at medium speed. Add vanilla extract and espresso. Mix for 10 seconds. Add eggs one at a time, mixing for 10 seconds at medium-low speed after each addition. Add sifted flour mixture and mix at low speed until dough comes together, 1 to 2 minutes. Add chocolate chips and mix just until chips are evenly incorporated, 15 to 20 seconds.

Transfer dough to a work surface and divide in two, shaping into balls. Form each ball into a log 1 1/2 to 2 inches wide. Transfer logs to prepared baking sheet and flatten slightly. Brush tops of logs with egg wash and sprinkle each log with 1 tablespoon raw sugar. Bake until biscotti have spread, have a few cracks and bounce back slightly when pressed with fingertips, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely, about 1 1/2 hours.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Using a sharp serrated knife, cut logs into 1/4-inch to 1/2-inch slices. Place each slice with a cut side down on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or nonstick liner. Bake until firm, crisp and slightly dry, about 15 minutes. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to three days, or freeze for up to three months.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

$250 Cookie

If you've been reading my blog, then you'll know that Dr. Sweetpea is an Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookie addict. I already have several OCC cookie recipes on my blog because I'm constantly looking for a new recipe to try. I recently came across this recipe in the NY Times dubbed the $250 cookie. Urban legend has it that when a woman asked for the Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookie recipe from Neiman Marcus Cafe, the restaurant charged her $250 for the recipe. Anyway, years later, Neiman Marcus released their cookie recipe to the public for free after enduring the myth. Dr. Sweetpea devoured several of these cookies in one sitting. 


$250 Cookie
(Source: New York Times) 

1 cup butter
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups oatmeal
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
12 ounces chocolate chips
1 (4-ounce) milk chocolate bar
1 1/2 cups chopped nuts

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Cream together butter and both sugars. Stir in eggs and vanilla. Finely grind oatmeal in a blender or food processor. Combine the oatmeal, flour, salt, baking powder and soda in a medium bowl, and slowly add it to the wet ingredients. Beat just until combined. Grate chocolate bar using a microplane grater and add it, along with chocolate chips and nuts to the batter. Mix just to combine. Drop by heaping tablespoonfuls (I used a 
2 tablespoon cookie scoop), 2 inches apart, on a greased cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Buttermilk Baked Chicken

I've been looking up a ton of oven fried chicken recipes because Dr. Sweetpea loves them. I've already posted a few in this blog but I also like trying new recipes too. I came across this recipe on Cooks Country and made them for Dr. Sweetpea to eat midweek. Thankfully, he loved the chicken and it'll remain in our chicken collection!

Buttermilk Baked Chicken
(Source: Cooks Country)

2 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup sour cream
1 (1-ounce) envelope ranch seasoning mix
1 tablespoon salt
3 pounds bone-in chicken pieces, skin and excess fat removed
5 slices hearty white sandwich bread, torn into pieces

Adjust oven racks to lowest and middle positions and heat oven to 450 degrees. Whisk buttermilk, sour cream, 2 tablespoons ranch seasoning mix, and salt in large bowl until salt dissolves. Add chicken and toss to coat. Refrigerate, covered, 30 minutes or up to 1 hour.

Meanwhile, pulse bread and remaining ranch seasoning mix in food processor until finely ground. Bake bread crumbs on rimmed baking sheet on middle rack, stirring occasionally, until light golden, about 5 minutes. Transfer to shallow dish.

Line rimmed baking sheet with foil and spray lightly with cooking spray. Remove chicken from bowl (allowing excess brine to drip back into bowl) and dredge in bread crumbs, pressing to adhere. Transfer coated chicken to prepared baking sheet and spray lightly with cooking spray.

Bake on lowest rack until bottom of chicken is golden brown, about 10 minutes. Move baking sheet to middle rack and reduce oven temperature to 400 degrees. Bake until chicken is golden brown and white meat registers 160 degrees (or dark meat registers 175 degrees), 20 to 25 minutes. Serve.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Seared Pork Chops with Mushroom Gravy and Caramelized Onion Potato Gratin

I bought a huge pack of pork chops from HEB the other day because I saw that they were on sale. Thankfully, Dr. Sweetpea loves pork chops whenever I make them for our dinner but I wanted add a little something special to go with them so I made Caramelized Onion Potato Gratins. Dr. Sweetpea devoured his meal and said the potato gratin is the best he's ever had. I for sure want to make the gratin for Thanksgiving or Christmas this year. 


Seared Pork Chops with Mushroom Gravy
(Source: Cooks Country)

4 bone-in rib or center-cut pork chops, 3/4 to 1 inch thick
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound white mushrooms, sliced
1 small onion, chopped fine
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Pat chops dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Cook chops until well browned and meat registers 145 degrees, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer to plate and tent with foil.

In now-empty skillet, cook butter, mushrooms, onion, and 1/4 teaspoon salt, covered, until softened, about 5 minutes. Remove lid and cook until moisture has evaporated, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle flour over mushrooms and stir to coat. Slowly stir in broth, thyme, and any accumulated pork juices and simmer until gravy has thickened, about 3 minutes. Off heat, stir in mustard and season with salt and pepper. Serve.

Caramelized Onion Potato Gratin
(Source: Cooks Country)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 onions, chopped
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
2/3 cup white wine
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
3 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/8 inch thick
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
1 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 cups shredded Gruyère cheese

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and 1 teaspoon salt and cook until just beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in brown sugar and cook, stirring frequently, until onions are golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add 1/3 cup broth and cook until softened and deep golden brown and sticky, about 5 minutes. Transfer caramelized onions to medium bowl.

Bring remaining broth, wine, cream, and remaining salt to boil in now-empty skillet, scraping up any browned bits. Off heat, stir in vinegar; cover and keep warm.

Shingle half of potatoes in 3-quart baking dish; sprinkle with 1 teaspoon thyme and ½ teaspoon pepper. Spread caramelized onions over potatoes and top with remaining potatoes, remaining thyme, and remaining pepper. Pour broth mixture over potatoes.

Bake until bubbling around edges, about 30 minutes. Top with Gruyère and bake until gratin is golden brown and fork inserted into center meets little resistance, 30 to 40 minutes. Let cool 15 minutes. Serve.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Mackinac Lemon Blueberry Muffins

I've only been to Mackinac Island once and that was with my parents when I was a teenager. The only thing I remember is the island didn't have any cars and the weather being rather cool even though it was in the middle of the summer. Anyway, I saw this Mackinac Lemon Blueberry Muffins recipe in my Cooks Country magazine and had to make them right away. They're sweet, tangy, lemony, and oh so perfect. Dr. Sweetpea has been eating a muffin every morning on his way to the hospital. This is definitely a keeper for us and will be something I make regularly.


Mackinac Lemon Blueberry Muffins
(Source: Cooks Country) 

1 1/2 cups (10 1/2 ounces) sugar
5 teaspoons grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
2 1/2 cups (12 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sour cream
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs
7 1/2 ounces (1 1/2 cups) frozen blueberries

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Generously spray 12-cup muffin tin, including top, with vegetable oil spray. Combine 1/4 cup sugar and 2 teaspoons lemon zest in small bowl; set aside.

Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together in bowl. Whisk sour cream, 5 tablespoons melted butter, eggs, remaining 1 1/4 cups sugar, and remaining 1 tablespoon lemon zest together in large bowl.

Using rubber spatula, fold flour mixture into sour cream mixture until just combined. Fold in blueberries until just evenly distributed; do not overmix. Using greased 1/3-cup dry measuring cup or #12 portion scoop, portion batter among cups in prepared muffin tin; evenly distribute any remaining batter among cups. Brush batter with remaining 2 tablespoons melted butter and sprinkle with sugar-zest mixture (about 1 teaspoon per muffin cup).

Bake until muffins are golden brown and toothpick inserted in center comes out with few crumbs attached, 20 to 25 minutes, rotating muffin tin halfway through baking. Let muffins cool in muffin tin on wire rack for 10 minutes. Transfer muffins to rack and let cool for 5 minutes. Serve warm.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Meatball Subs

As much as I love cooking up a nice meal for the two of us, there are days when I'm tired after work and don't want to put much effort into our dinner, especially since Dr. Sweetpea's hours are unpredictable. That's why I love whipping up meatball subs for our dinner every once in a while. Sometimes I'll just buy a bag of frozen meatballs but cook them in our favorite spaghetti sauce. However, this time, I decided to make meatballs from scratch and they were amazing! Super easy to make midweek and super tasty. Dr. Sweetpea was raving about these meatball subs when he came home from work. 

Meatball Subs
(Souce: Cooks Country)

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/4 pounds 85 percent lean ground beef
3/4 cup plain dried bread crumbs with Italian seasonings
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
4 (6-inch) Italian sub rolls, split lengthwise
1 1/3 cups jarred marinara sauce
4 thin slices deli provolone cheese (4 ounces)

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Grease rimmed baking sheet with oil. Mix beef, bread crumbs, eggs, garlic powder, salt, and pepper in bowl until well combined. Form mixture into twelve 2-inch meatballs, place on prepared sheet, and bake until browned and meat registers 160 degrees, about 15 minutes. Transfer meatballs to plate; discard accumulated grease on sheet.

Carefully line now-empty sheet with parchment paper. Place rolls on sheet and lay 3 meatballs inside each roll. Top meatballs on each sandwich with 1/3 cup marinara sauce and 1 slice provolone. Bake until cheese is melted and sauce is heated through, about 5 minutes. Serve.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Butter Toffee Popcorn

This is seriously the best Caramel popcorn that you'll ever try. Yes, it's time consuming to make, but it's sooooooooo worth the effort to make the popcorn from scratch. In fact, I know I'll be making this popcorn again when Christmas rolls around for our Christmas treat tins. 


Butter Toffee Popcorn
(Source: Cooks Country)

3 quarts popped popcorn (about 2/3 cup unpopped popcorn)
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup dark corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups salted peanuts

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 250 degrees. Grease large roasting pan. Place popcorn in pan.

Melt butter in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add brown sugar, corn syrup, and salt and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes. Off heat, stir in vanilla and baking soda (mixture will foam). Add peanuts and pour mixture over popcorn, tossing to coat.

Bake, stirring occasionally, until popcorn is deep golden brown and caramel has set, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. (I stir my popcorn mixture every 10 minutes so all the kernels are coated evenly with the toffee mixture.) Cool to room temperature. Serve. (Popcorn can be stored in airtight container at room temperature for 5 days.)