Thursday, December 20, 2012

Salted Brown Butter Crispy Treats

I have sworn by my Grandma Ray's Camping Treats my whole life.  Until now.  You see, before I found the recipe below, I made Rice Krispie Treats her way, by adding some peanut butter to the marshmallow mixture, then spreading the top with a semisweet chocolate layer.  That's over for me now, though, because I have found Salted Brown Butter Crispy Treats, and I love you all enough to share the discovery.

If it looks like I just copied/pasted this, it's because I did.  It needs no tweaking and you should all make them RIGHT AWAY.  You neeeeeed these.  You deserve these!  Hide them from the kids and indulge on the couch after they're asleep.  You're welcome.

Deb Perelman | Smitten KitchenSalted Brown Butter Crispy Treats 
from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook 

Yield: 12 2-inch squares or 32 1-by- 2-inch bars 

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for the pan 
Heaping ¼ teaspoon flaky sea salt 
One 10- ounce bag large or miniature marshmallows 
6 cups puffed- rice cereal (about half a 12- ounce box; I've had luck with brown rice cereals as well) 
Butter (or coat with nonstick spray) an 8- inch square cake pan with 2-inch sides 

Brown the butter: In a large pot, melt 1 stick butter over medium- low heat. It will melt, then foam, then turn clear golden, and finally start to turn brown and smell nutty. Stir frequently, scraping up any bits from the bottom as you do. Don't take your eyes off the pot: You may be impatient for it to start browning, but the period between the time the butter begins to take on color and the point where it burns is often less than a minute. 

Make the crispy treats: As soon as the butter takes on a nutty color, turn the heat off, sprinkle salt over butter, and stir in the marshmallows. The residual heat from the melted butter should be enough to melt them, but if it is not, turn it back on over low heat until the marshmallows are smooth. Be careful not to cook the marshmallows, which will destroy their stretchy softness; you're just looking for enough heat so they will melt and smooth out. Remove the pot from the stove, and stir in the cereal, folding it gently with the marshmallow mixture until the cereal is evenly coated. Quickly spread into prepared pan. I use a piece of waxed or parchment paper that I've sprayed with oil to press it firmly and evenly into the edges and corners and smooth the top, though a silicon spatula works almost as well. Let cool, then cut into squares and get ready to make new friends. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Chicken in White Wine Cream Sauce

This recipe was so good that it should excuse the fact that I almost made a huge faux pas in making this for my husband's boss, whose religious persuasion could have made this dish a huge no-no.  Luckily, the boss isn't as religiously observant as I thought, and it all turned out okay.  WHEW.  The sauce was super yummy and you could vary what starch you put it and the chicken on top of each time you make the dish.  Make it fast, before you start thinking about how unhealthy it looks.  (And no, I have no photo of the finished product because I was so stressed out about finishing the cooking while getting the kids to bed right as Corey and his boss were arriving!)

Chicken in Wine Cream Sauce

8 ounces pasta*
3-4 large boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 2 lbs.)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
4 scallions, chopped**
2 teaspoons garlic powder***
2 teaspoons marjoram leaves
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/3 cup heavy cream
2/3 cup Chardonnay wine****
1 cup chicken broth*****

1.  In a large frying pan, melt 1 tablespoon of butter and cook the chicken over medium heat for about 8 minutes, turning once (4 minutes per side).  Remove pan from heat and set aside.  Do not drain the dippings out of the pan!

2.  In a medium saute pan, melt 2 tablespoons of butter and stir in the scallions, garlic powder, marjoram leaves, paprika, salt, and lemon juice.  Cook over medium heat for 2 minutes.

3.  Add the cream, Chardonnay, and chicken broth and cook for an additional 3 minutes.

4.  Whisk the flour into the sauce and make sure all those pesky lumps disappear.

5.  Now start the water to boil for the pasta.  When it's boiling, throw in the pasta and cook it to al dente.

6.  Stick the large frying pan with the chicken in it back on the stove over low heat.  Pour the cream sauce into the frying pan and spoon it over the chicken breasts.  Put the lid on and set the timer for 10 minutes.  Every couple of minutes, lift the lid and stir the sauce around to make sure it's not separating.

7.  Remove the pan from the heat and let it stand for 5 minutes.

8.  Serve the chicken and sauce over the noodles and marvel at your culinary skill!


* I used fusili, but the original recipe called for wide egg noodles.  I bet it would be great over either white or brown rice.  You could also go crazy and experiment with something more exotic!  I like to cook pasta and rice in a mixture of about 1/2 water and 1/2 broth so give it more flavor.
** I actually made it with about 1/2 a small yellow onion (diced) because I discovered in the 11th hour that the scallions I imagined were in the fridge had mysteriously disappeared.  It turned out fine but probably lacked the nice green color of the scallions.
*** Next time I make this, I think I'm going to use fresh garlic.  I bet that would be awesome.
**** I actually used Pinot Grigio because I don't usually have Chardonnay on hand.  It turned out fine.
***** I had to use beef broth because I'm a moron and bought the wrong kind.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

(I can't believe I made) Sweet & Sour Chicken

I made this after finding the recipe on a site that rhymes with "binterest".  I was skeptical, because I do not have much skill with making Chinese food.  I'm sure anyone actually from China would laugh their butts off an me for calling this "Chinese food", but it sure tasted like it to me and Corey.  (I wonder what passes as "American food" in other countries?  Probably something I would hardly recognize if it's anything like what we do here in the U.S.)  I didn't take a picture of the final product because I had no confidence that it was going to turn out to be blogworthy.

In fact, I think it would go reeeeeeally well with Alicia's delicious fried rice that she makes but can't really tell me the recipe for because it's all kind of done by feel (you know, like how real chefs cook).  I think that means we need to get her up to Michigan for a Chinese food night.  I'm not sure if I can handle visiting Tennessee just yet, because if the kids and I caught sight of the old house right now I think we would all burst into tears and Peter might just barge right in and insist on staying there.  Whenever he sees a picture of our Tennessee house, he stares at it for a long time and keeps exclaiming "dat's MY house!"

Until we figure out the logistics of the Marshall/Stringer Chinese food extravaganza, here is my version of the sweet and sour chicken recipe.

Sweet & Sour Chicken

1 lb. chicken breasts or thighs
1 cup cornstarch
2 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cups sugar
4 tbsp. ketchup*
1/2 cup white distilled vinegar**
1 tbsp. soy sauce***
1 tsp. garlic salt

1.  Heat oven to 350 degrees.

2.  Cut chicken into 1-inch cubes and season with the salt and pepper.  Dip each cube into the cornstarch and then into the eggs.  Seems kind of backward, huh?  Trust me -- this works.

3.  Heat the oil in a big skillet on medium-high and brown those lumpy little cubes until brown on all sides.  Dump them into a baking dish (a 9 x 9 or 9 x 13 depending on how close you stick to the 1 pound of chicken guideline).

4.  Whisk together the sugar, ketchup, vinegar, soy sauce, and garlic salt until smooth.  Dump it on the chicken in the baking dish and stir it all around until the chicken is well-coated.

5.  Pop the dish (uncovered) into the oven for 15 minutes.  Turn the chicken over and then bake for 15 minutes more.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

I served the chicken over brown rice and it was gooooooooood!  Even Corey, who is usually brutally honest with me when I try new recipes, raved about this one.  As usual, the shorties in the house turned their noses up at it and refused to even try a bite.  Oh well, more for us!  Might need to try this with pork the next time around.  I bet it would be fabulous.


*  It's amazing how much I loathe ketchup but how much I love many recipes that use it as an ingredient (like BBQ sauce, my mom's meatloaf, etc.).  Any ketchup haters should not be scared off by the inclusion of this ingredient.

**  It's kind of funny to use the vinegar out of the huge bottle I keep around for mopping my floors.  Perhaps I should buy a small bottle dedicated to cooking so I don't feel like I'm serving my family cleaning products.

***  Make sure you have soy sauce in the fridge BEFORE you get to Step #4.  Otherwise, you have to make an emergency call to your husband on his commute home from work.  There really is no good substitute for it (especially if you also don't have teriyaki sauce on hand -- I'm still restocking my staples since moving a few months ago!).

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Carrie's Black Bean Salad

½ c. olive oil
2-5 lg garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp oregano
3 c. frozen corn
½ c. water
1 tsp salt
1 ½ c. frozen peas
2 -3 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 c. halved cherry or grape tomatoes
½ c. scallions, sliced
1/3 c. cilantro
1 T Dijon mustard
½ tsp ground black pepper
¼ c. lemon juice

Sauté 1st 3 spices in olive oil in large pot. Add corn, water, and salt. Remove from heat and mix well . Add peas through scallions and stir.  Mix dressing (mustard, pepper and lemon juice) thoroughly and pour onto salad. Mix well. Refrigerate for 6 hours before serving.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

IT'S PEOPLE!!! (aka Soylent Green Cookies, aka Glazed Lemon Cookies)

Once upon a time, we were eating delicious, store-bought, iced lemon cookies for dessert when my twin and I were teenagers.  For some reason, we got on the topic of the movie "Soylent Green".  None of us kids had ever seen it before, and my dad was telling us the basic plot.  It seems that some nefarious corporation was making delicious food out of, well, people, and then selling it to the unknowing public.  Or something like that.  I still have never seen the movie, but I love how it has become engrained in pop culture.  Apparently, the main character uncovers the secret and at some point screams "IT'S PEOPLE!" to anyone who will listen.  Since that fateful evening, my sister has refused to eat those delectable cookies (and, I believe, most any lemon-flavored confection).  She calls them "Soylent Green cookies" and imagines that they must be made out of human flesh or something like that.  I have no such biases and adore anything lemon-flavored.

I have a bunch of lemons on hand (thanks to my effort to display fresh fruit in a bowl like they do on "Sell This House", and now I have a bunch of elderly, sad-looking lemons in need of use or disposal) and decided to try to find a cookie recipe to use them.  The result was DELICIOUS and remarkably similar in flavor and texture to the store-bought version.  I think the glaze has a little more kick though, which is awesome.  Everyone BUT ERIN should try making these cookies, because they are amazing.

Glazed Lemon Cookies


2 1/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons lemon zest (takes about 3 small lemons)
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the glaze:

1 cup powdered sugar
4-5 teaspoons fresh lemon juice (takes one or two small lemons)


1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line two baking sheet with parchment paper.

2.  Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl.  Whisk and set aside.

3.  In a small bowl, add granulated sugar and lemon zest.  Rub the sugar and lemon zest together with your fingers, until fragrant.  This sounds silly to do, but it was actually kind of fun.

4.  Beat butter and sugar/lemon mixture together until light and fluffy.  Beat in egg and vanilla extract. Mix until smooth.

5.  Slowly beat in flour mixture on low speed until blended.  Drop dough by tablespoon onto prepared baking sheets, spacing 2 inches apart.  Gently flatten dough with the palm of your hand.

6.  Bake for 12-14 minutes or until cookies are just set and slightly golden brown.  Cool cookies on baking sheet for 2 minutes and transfer to cooking racks.  Cool completely.

7.  In a medium bowl, whisk together powdered sugar and lemon juice.  Dip each cookie top into the lemon glaze.  Let cookies sit until icing has set.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Asian Ham Salad

Just the title alone should not turn you off of this recipe!  Yes, it sounds a little weird.  Looking at the list of ingredients may also make you question my sanity (and the sanity of my sister and mother, who made me this recipe last week when we were all together in Texas).  It's delicious though, and I bet you could try this with either cooked chicken or beef to give it a different twist.  It was still good the next day straight out of the refrigerator.

For the life of me I can't remember what my mom served as a side dish, so when I made it for Corey last night I just told him to hush when he asked what else we were having.  He quieted down when he tasted the salad, and the two of us devoured this entire recipe in one sitting.  We figured that the ice cream cones we had for dessert got us the dairy food group to make it a complete meal.  Yes, there are a lot of asterisks after the ingredients, but the recipe was pretty vague and I wanted to let you know how I interpreted each instruction.  The original recipe called for only one cup of rice, but my mom and I thought that was too skimpy.  It was also my idea to add the cilantro to the recipe because I'm pretty sure just about every recipe could be improved with cilantro.  Okay, maybe not brownies, but you get the idea.

Here is a photo of the salad as we made it at my mom's house.  Those are her gorgeous granite countertops -- not mine!

Asian Ham Salad

2 cups brown rice, cooked*
1 cup shelled and cooked edamame**
1 cup chopped ham steak***
6 sliced radishes****
2 thinly sliced green onions
handful of cilantro leaves*****
crushed peanuts******

2 Tbs. vegetable oil
2 Tbs. rice vinegar
1 tsp. sesame oil
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes*******
salt and pepper to taste

Cool the rice and edamame to room temperature.  Whisk the dressing ingredients together.  Just before serving, toss the salad ingredients with the dressing.

* This means to have about 2 cups AFTER cooking.  If you cooked 2 cups of uncooked rice, you would have 4 cups of cooked rice and that would just craziness.

** I steamed my edamame in the shells and then shelled them, but my mom boiled already shelled edamame, I think.  Both tasted great.  Yes, I hate beans but like edamame.  I have to pretend they are not beans.  Please don't tell me I'm wrong.  DON'T SPOIL THE ONLY FORM OF LEGUME I WILL VOLUNTARILY EAT, OKAY?

*** I got this near the cold cuts, but I bet it would be even better if you got it from the butcher and chopped it yourself.  I also want to try this with chicken or beef, because I bet it would be awesome.

**** I chopped up about 4 radishes because they're not my favorite veggie.  I really couldn't taste them in the salad, but Corey said he could.  They add a nice crunch if they're sliced instead of chopped, which is how my mom made it.  Next time I make this, I want to add sliced celery, because I bet it would be terrific.

***** I chopped my leaves, but I bet they would be good whole, too.

****** The recipe didn't specify how much of these, so I crushed about a half cup of dry roasted peanuts (I probably should have used regular old peanuts, but I wanted to have better-tasting ones left over for snacks!).

******* I used red cayenne pepper because that's all I had and I wasn't sure how it was different.  I also probably used more like 1/8 of a teaspoon because I'm a huge wimp when it comes to spicy things, but I don't think the salad was spicy when my mom made it with the properly-measured amount.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Grilled Vegetable and Mozzarella Sandwich


  • 3 cups (1/8-inch-thick) diagonally cut zucchini (about 1 pound)
  • 3 (1/8-inch-thick) slices red onion
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 4 pieces
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon extravirgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 (1-pound) loaf ciabatta, cut in half horizontally
  • 1 cup gourmet salad greens
  • 5 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
  • 8 fresh basil leaves


Prepare grill to medium-high heat.

Combine first 7 ingredients in a large bowl, tossing to coat. Remove vegetables from bowl, reserving vinegar mixture. Place the onion and bell pepper on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 7 minutes on each side or until tender. Grill zucchini 3 minutes on each side or until tender.

Hollow out bottom half of bread, leaving a 1/2-inch-thick shell; reserve torn bread for another use. Layer grilled vegetables, greens, cheese, and basil in bottom of loaf; drizzle reserved vinegar mixture on top. Cover with top of the bread; press lightly.

Place filled loaf on grill rack; grill 4 minutes on each side or until cheese melts. Cut into quarters.

Recipe is from Cooking Light.

Monday, February 27, 2012

A little gimmick to make taco night a little more exciting

I have Corey to thank for this one -- he made these for us last night for dinner and they were terrific. Because you bake them in the oven, they're not quite as tasty as their deep-fried counterparts. They are super cute though. I'm not including a recipe for the taco beef because if you don't know how to buy a packet of seasoning and follow the directions on it, then you have no business being in a kitchen. (I think I have been watching too much "Top Chef".)

Homemade Taco Salad Bowls

4 medium-size flour tortillas
Olive oil or vegetable oil (just a few teaspoons)
4 oven-safe cups or jelly canning jars

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. On a rimmed baking sheet, place the cups or jars upside down, evenly spacing them to make room for the tortillas that will be draped over them.

2. Microwave the tortillas for about 30 seconds, until they are soft and pliable. Rub a teaspoon or so of oil on the front and back of the tortilla. Use a basting brush or your fingers and make sure to very lightly coat the entire surface of the tortilla.

3. Drape each tortilla over a cup or jar and softly press the sides of each tortilla down a bit to help them form more of a bowl shape.

4. Bake the tortilla bowls for about 8-10 minutes, checking often so they don’t burn, until the tortillas are lightly browned and crisp. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and let the tortillas cool for a few minutes before gently removing them from the cups or jars.

5. Fill them with yummy things like lettuce, broccoli slaw, taco seasoned-meat, shredded cheese, chopped olives, chopped cucumbers, chopped tomatoes, sour cream, and salsa.


-- I like to mix the sour cream and salsa together (about two parts sour cream to one part salsa) first and it makes a chunky pink sauce of deliciousness.

-- You can also use larger-sized tortillas but would probably need to use some sort of oven-safe bowl or bigger-sized canning jars to form the bowls. We liked the little size and ate two each.

-- Corey can probably commit all sorts of crimes with impunity now because he burned his fingerprints off by underestimating just how hot the glasses would remain (long after the tortillas were taken out of the oven). Word to the wise -- let the glasses cool off for a LONG TIME before you try to put them in the dishwasher.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Faux Stroganoff (aka Mushroom Beef Skillet)

Once I tasted this dish, I panicked. You see, Corey doesn't share my love of beef stroganoff and this tasted an awful lot like it. There is no form of cream or milk in it, but you might swear there was. I altered the original recipe to use a tastier cut of beef (I'm not a fan of stew beef, so I always use tri-tip or top sirloin.) and I had to make some emergency substitutions (dried minced onions instead of fresh ones, and chicken broth instead of beef broth), and the resulting dish was dee-licious. Corey loved it, despite its similarity to stroganoff. Joslyne -- you should try making this for your parents next time you and Zozo find your way to South Carolina sans Demetri, because I don't know how well chicken would substitute for the beef. A chicken version might be an interesting experiment though!

Mushroom Beef Skillet

2 tbsp flour
1 pound beef (tri-tip or top sirloin), cut into 1 inch cubes
2 tbsp butter
1/2 cup minced onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups beef broth
1/2 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
1 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/8 tsp pepper
Hot cooked rice or noodles

1. Place the flour in a large resealable plastic bag. Add beef, a few pieces at a time, and shake to coat. In a skillet, cook the beef in butter over medium heat until browned. Add onion and garlic; cook for 2-3 minutes or until onion is tender.

2. Add broth, mushrooms, basil, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and simmer for about an hour or until meat is tender, stirring occasionally. Serve over rice or noodles.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

100th Post Chicken Artichoke Stew

In honor of this blog's 100th post, I must share with you the most delicious dish I have made in months. Corey and I literally swooned when we tried the first bite. I found it using SuperCook (a terrific tool that searches a bunch of different recipe sites and picks recipes based on the ingredients you have on hand). The recipe would have made a ridiculous amount, so I halved the recipe and still had leftovers. I suppose if my picky children would have eaten it I may have needed the full recipe. The photo was taken before I remembered to put in the parsley. You may notice the slivers of carrot that I scrounged from a broccoli slaw mix because I had run out of carrots, so just pretend those are nice little carrot medallions. Here is the recipe as I made it (other than the carrots):

Chicken and Artichoke Stew

1 1/2 pounds boneless/skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes
sea salt
1 tbsp butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup flour
1 (14.5 oz) can chicken broth
3 carrots, cut into 1/2 inch rounds (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 (14 oz) can quartered artichoke hearts, drained
1/8 cup dried parsley
cooked rice or buttered noodles

1. Generously season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tbsp butter in a large saucepan over med-high. Brown the chicken on all sides, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate and set aside to cool.

2. Reduce heat to med. Add 1/8 cup water; scrape bottom of pan with wooden spoon to loosen browned bits. Add onions; cook until golden, about 5 minutes. Stir in flour; cook 1 minute more.

3. Add broth and 1/4 cup water; bring to a boil. Add carrots, thyme, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp pepper. Simmer until carrots are almost tender, about 5 minutes.

4. Return chicken to pot. Cover and simmer until chicken is cooked through and sauce is thickened, 10 to 15 minutes.

5. Add artichokes; cook until warmed about 1 minute. Stir in parsley. Serve over rice or noodles.

Seriously, this was so yummy that it may be my new favorite. I served it over brown rice, but I bet it would be terrific over any type of pasta as well. And please try the SuperCook website. You have to take a bit of time to enter all of the ingredients you have on hand, but then it's all saved there and you can just update it to reflect any changes next time you visit.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Kate's MIL's Chili

Kate also makes amazing chili. Easy. Freezes well. And (bonus!) there's a part where you can put your little minions to work. You know, make them earn their keep. Little slackers!

2 lbs ground beef/turkey
1 large onion
2 cups of tomato juice
2 cans of kidney beans, drained
2 cans of chili beans, UNdrained
2T of chili powder or more depending on the heat you want
1 cup of water (I add less water for the initial cooking and then add more when I reheat or defrost it)
3/4 cup of ketschup (or more depending on taste)
2 cans of diced tomatoes

Brown the ground beef and drain
Smash 1 cans of kidney beans and 1 can of chili beans (NOTE: Preschoolers can help with this part. Put 'em to work!)
Dump everything else in and let simmer
Serve with cheese and sour cream.

Kate's Taco Soup

This stuff is awesome. It freezes well. And it's easy to make. SCORE!

  • 1 # lean ground beef or turkey
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 2 cans beans, undrained (I used black beans but you can also use kidney, caneloni, etc.)
  • 1 can whole kernel corn
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 small can green chili peppers, chopped (I used only about 1/3 of the can to cut back on spice)
  • 1 8 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 pkg taco seasoning
  • 1 pkg Hidden Valley Ranch dressing mix (use dry)
  • 1 1/2 cups water

Brown meat and drain well. Combine all other ingredients and add water to desired consistency, about 1 1/2 cups. Simmer for 20 minutes. Top with cheese and sour cream. Yummy!