Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Pumpkin Mashed Potatoes and Salmon

My buddy Meg over at Megan's Munchies wanted to try out three pumpkin mashed potatoes recipes and I decided to try out what was behind web site number two. I was directed to Wise Food Ways for a pretty ambiguous recipe for Pumpkin Mashed Potatoes. I get nervous with ambiguous recipes because I always end of adding too much of something and ruin it...fortunately, tonight was not one of those nights. SUCCESS! These babies ROCKED!!! Thanks to my trusty pressure cooker, I fixed this up in 15 minutes!

I'm going to share with you how I made these potatoes and then you can hit the Wise Food Ways for the more ambiguous recipe. :)

Pumpkin Mashed Potatoes:
2 medium potatoes, peeled, washed and cut into big chunks
1 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into big chunks
1 15 oz can pureed pumpkin
1/2 stick of margarine, just kidding...I added a whole stick of margarine.
1 small box of cream
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
plenty of salt and pepper

Cook potatoes in pressure cooker for 11 minutes according to pressure cooker directions. While potatoes are cooking, heat up margarine, cream and pumpkin over medium heat until margarine is melted and pumpkin is warmed through.Mash the vegetables with a potato masher, fork, or whisk and add butter and dairy and spices until you like the consistency and flavor.
I was worried I had destroyed the recipe because the consistency was a little 'wet'...but HOLY CRAP! It was like smooth pumpkin pie...almost. The sweet potatoes are a requirement for the consistency and taste on these potatoes. DAMN! I LOVE these potatoes!

The meat to this meal was smoked Salmon. My dad gave me a stove top smoker when Alex and I got married and it has quickly become a favorite kitchen tool. It is so silly easy to use!
The smoker is a metal box with a lid that slides on and off. In the smoker is a drip tray with a metal rack to put your meat on. I wrap my drip tray in tin foil so it is easy to clean and spray the rack with pam to keep the meat from sticking. On the very bottom of the smoker, sprinkle 1 tablespoon of alder wood chips (which conveniently came with the smoker). Put the drip tray on top of the wood chips, then the metal rack and place the salmon on the rack. Slide the lid over the top until 1 inch of space is open. Put smoker on stove top over medium heat. Once you see little wisps of smoke, slide the lid completely closed and cook for 22 minutes. The internal heat stays at 375 F while cooking...just in case you were curious.
The flavor of salmon smoked in a stove top smoker is AMAZING! It is such a subtle taste...it is so elegant. Very little smoke escapes into your house, so no worries on setting the smoke detector off. Just open a kitchen window a crack and you are good to go!

Sunday, September 28, 2008


I wasn't planning on using our breakfast for a post, but when Alex coined them as 'MANCAKES' I had to share.

He calls them 'MANCAKES' because they were so huge! He makes me laugh!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Just Answer the Economy Question

I don't know if you had the chance to watch the presidential debate, but I was pretty put out that after the moderator asked the question about the economy THREE TIMES...neither candidate appropriately answered the question. I am afraid for my financial investments! So it is a good thing I was reading the Purple People Eatery blog this week. She more than answered the question of the economy with her Poor Man's Meal.

This meal was something they served us in elementary school as 'hot lunch'. I LOVED IT! My mom would never make it because of the FRITO factor...ohhhhh, they are sooooo gooooood! If she could have made this with Lay's potato chips, you can guarantee we would have had this all the time! :)

I created my own recipe for this nostalgic dish...I expect to make this a lot more if our government doesn't pull their heads out, go to an economics class and learn more about our capitalistic market.

Failing Economy Poor Man's Meal:
1 pound ground turkey
1/2 medium white onion, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1 serrano pepper (optional) - but why would I leave it out when I love it so HOT?
15 oz. can chili beans
15 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 packet of chili seasoning or taco seasoning
1 tablespoon ground chipotle (We bought dried chipotles and ground them in our coffee grinder)
Small bag of Frito's
Brown ground turkey on medium heat. Drain fat from turkey and add onion and red pepper. Cook for two minutes. Add serrano, beans, and tomatoes, cook until warmed through.
Fold in chili seasoning and ground chipotle until combined.
Serve immediately over a couple of handfuls of Frito's. I served this up with a little cheese and homemade guacamole. Hmmmmmmmm....
I am pleased to say that I spent $10 to make this meal...that doesn't count the cheese and guacamole fixings...but those are added bonuses.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Martha Stewart

I have loved Martha Stewart from day one and never stopped loving her! I respect strong, powerful women who know how to get things done. So what if she is a grump on occassion, maybe she doesn't get along with her neighbors all the time (I know I don't). Martha Stewart is a human being. I DO think she got hosed when she was sent to prison...When are we going to see the CEO's of those financial organizations that tanked going to prison? It makes what Martha did look like small beans.

Martha may be trying to kill us one recipe at a time...but I LOVE her for it! You go girl!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Pay Back!

When you have a cute husband that makes yummy dinner, what do you do? Pay back the favor. I found this GREAT recipe on a blog I check out often called, Two Novice Chefs, One Tiny Kitchen. Besides having a cute blog name, they have GREAT recipes from the magazine RealSimple. I dig that magazine because it IS real simple.

This recipe kicked ASS! It was so basic and simple. I love having another recipe for those pre-cooked chickens from the grocery store. The roasted chickens from the grocery store always turn out perfect. The best part is that I didn't have to roast it! I wonder if they cook those chickens in a fryer...they are so juicy!
Smoky Chicken Corn Cakes:
1 3 1/2- to 4-pound rotisserie chicken
1 tablespoon chopped canned chipotle chilies in adobo sauce
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
4 Roma (plum) tomatoes, diced
1/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
4 large eggs
1 cup part-skim ricotta
10 ounces frozen corn, thawed
2 teaspoons canola oil
1/2 cup sour cream (optional)

Using a fork or your fingers, shred the chicken meat, discarding the skin and bones.

In a medium bowl, combine the meat, chipotle, lime juice, 1/4 teaspoon of the salt, the onion, tomatoes, and cilantro; set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, pepper, and the remaining salt. Stir in the eggs and ricotta until no lumps remain. Fold in the corn.
Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. For each corn cake, spoon about 1/4 cup of the batter onto the skillet and cook until golden brown and set on one side, 2 to 3 minutes. Using a spatula, flip the cakes and cook 1 minute more. Divide the cakes among individual plates and top with the chicken mixture. Serve with sour cream, if desired.
Our friends over at Two Novice Chefs, One Tiny Kitchen mentioned that the corn cakes would have been more flavorful with green onions so I took their advice. I also added a teaspoon of salt and pepper for added flavor. They turned out pretty dang fantastic!

The chicken part of this recipe was AMAZING! Next time I will add more chipotle...surprise, surprise. The flavor from the chipotle was GREAT! Alex loved the recipe. This is definitely going to be added to our arsenal!

Thanks Two Novice Chefs, One Tiny Kitchen!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Garlic-Lime Chicken and Cilantro Rice made by a FANTASTIC husband!

First off, I'm the luckiest girl EVER! Alex made me dinner tonight! The icing on the cake is that he took pictures of the food he made! When I got home he let me take over camera duties. :) Can you tell where I took over?

This is the MOST flavorful meal I have had in a very long time. Serious. The rice was amazing! TRULY amazing! Blending the cilantro and Serrano into the chicken stock is the best idea that ever happened. I am going to do my rice this way all the time! I am looking forward to leftovers for lunch tomorrow!

Garlic-Lime Chicken with Olives:
Courtesy of Robin Miller
Cooking spray
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast halves (Alex used chicken tenders because they cook fast and they aren't big chunks of meat - because I hate big chunks of meat)
1 cup diced onion
2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon molasses
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup pitted and sliced Greek olives, such as kalamata
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Coat a large roasting pan with cooking spray. In a large bowl, combine chicken, onion, garlic, lime juice, molasses, Worcestershire sauce, cumin, oregano, salt, and black pepper. Toss to coat. Transfer chicken to prepared pan and pour over any remaining marinade. Arrange olives over and around chicken in pan.Roast 30 to 35 minutes, until chicken is cooked through.

Cilantro Rice:
Courtesy Aida Mollenkamp
3 1/2 cups packed cilantro leaves (about 3 ounces)
3 medium garlic cloves
1 medium Serrano chile, halved lengthwise and seeded (who really takes the seeds out?)
3 1/3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 cup minced yellow onion
2 cups long-grain white rice (Alex used regular minute rice)
1 tablespoon kosher salt

Combine cilantro, garlic, chile, and 2 cups broth in a blender and process until smooth;
set aside.

Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. When it shimmers, add onion and cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Add rice and salt stir to coat in oil and cook until rice becomes opaque, about 2 minutes. Carefully pour the cilantro mixture and the remaining 1 1/3 cups broth into the rice and stir to combine. Bring mixture to a boil then reduce heat to low so rice is at a simmer.Cover and cook until rice is tender, about 15 minutes. Turn off heat and let rice rest covered for 5 minutes. Fluff with fork and serve.

The chicken was good and flavorful, but I would cut back on the cumin next time. Cumin can overpower a recipe fast. The chicken went really well with the rice...I think ANYTHING would go well with this rice. I seriously can't say enough about this stuff. The funny thing about this rice is that it is an Aida Mollenkamp recipe...I can't stand that chick...who would have known she would know something about KILLER food!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Pumpkin Drop Biscuits

I finally made it to the store to get me some pumpkin puree so I could make the Pumpkin Drop Biscuits from Megan's Munchies blog. Well worth the trip to the grocery store. I had a couple of mishaps while I was making the biscuits and I was certain I had destroyed the recipe, only to find that they weren't bad at all.

Instead of using the gluten free all purpose baking mix I opted for what I had on hand, Bisquick. I was a little nervous about the substitution because I'm not really sure the difference between Bisquick and gluten free all purpose baking mix. Initially I added 1 1/2 cups of Bisquick and couldn't understand why the batter was so runny. I added the additional cup of Bisquick and thought my problem was solved, but the batter was still runny like cupcake batter. I didn't want to throw out the mix because it had that pumpkin goodness in it, so I threw it into my trusty pumpkin cupcake tin and baked according to the instructions.
Pumpkin Drop Biscuits:
makes 12 biscuits
2 1/2 cups gluten free all purpose baking mix
2 cups skim milk
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
3/4 cup canned pumpkin
1 tablespoon water
Mix baking mix, brown sugar, and pumpkin pie spice.
Stir in pumpkin, milk, and water until all is moist.
Drop into 12 heaps onto baking sheet prepared with non-stick spray.
Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes. If tops start to brown too fast, reduce heat to 375 degrees for the last 5 minutes.
FANTABULOUS!!!! These turned out pretty yummy for a recipe I thought I botched. The next time I make this, I am going to reduce the amount of milk. There is a recipe for drop biscuits on the side of the Bisquick box that I would mimic to give these more of a biscuit consistency. I LOVE the flavor of this recipe. I took these babies into work today and my co-workers LOVED them!

Look how cute this cupcake/biscuit looks? There is something to said about eating food that looks good. This just screams, 'I am yummy pumpkin goodness. Open your mouth and eat me!' O.K., so I talk to my food and it talks back to me...What's a girl going to do?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Stuffed Zucchini

I am a ROCKSTAR!!! I am not good at 'making up' recipes. I'm not always good at following recipes when it comes down to it. :) But today, I created a KILLER recipe for stuffed zucchini. I am fortunate enough to have a co-worker that has zucchini in her garden and is willing to bring them to me so I can cook yummy things.

I was up in the air on what to use the zucchini for and opted for dinner instead of zucchini bread. Alex made some stuffed zucchini a while back that was pretty yummy. There are a LOT of versions of stuffed zucchini out there and I wanted a little from each of them so I had no other choice....I had to make my own. Here it is.

Stuffed Zucchini:
2 links spicy Italian sausage, removed from their casings
2 medium zucchini, cut in half evenly
1 small onion
2 teaspoons garlic
1 large jalapeno, roughly chopped
1 1/2 cups wild rice, cooked
3/4 cup mozzarella
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon oregano
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Cook up the sausage links in a frying pan on medium heat until crumbling. Push sausage over to the far side of the pan (you can totally take the sausage out of the pan...I just didn't want to have to clean an additional bowl), add a teaspoon of olive oil to the opposite side of the pan and saute up the onions and garlic until translucent. Add jalapeno with or without the seeds to the onions (I had originally wanted red peppers, but I forgot to grab some at the store and had to go with what I had). Mix in onion mixture with cooked sausage. Add wild rice, mixing well and take off the burner to cool.
Scoop out the seeds from the zucchini so there is a little ravine in the zucchini to stuff the yummy goodness in. Sprinkle with a little olive oil and Salt and Pepper. Place in 350 F oven for 7 minutes.
Add mozzarella, parsley and oregano to the rice mixture. Stuff zucchini with sausage, rice mixture to over flowing. Cook for 30 minutes.

Gingerbread Cupcakes

Meg over at Megan's Munchies has been on a pumpkin kick. She made some yummy looking Pumpkin Drop Biscuits I wanted to make, but I am fresh out of pumpkin puree after cooking grandmas birthday cake. While blog surfing, I came across a gingerbread cupcake recipe I felt would fix my sweet tooth.

I have been cooking with butter all together way too much lately so I replaced the butter in the recipe with applesauce. I was a little worried about doing that, but it turned out to be a good call. They were a little chewier than I expected, but it didn't hurt the overall taste and texture.

At the holidays I make a gingerbread loaf from my Williams Sonoma cookbook that calls for crystallized ginger and is nice and spicy. This recipe gets a 3 on the spice scale...it definitely could have used additional ginger for a bite back.
Gingerbread Cupcakes:
5 tablespoons butter, softened
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup molasses2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease or line a 12-cup muffin tin with cupcake papers.
Cream the butter and sugar together in large mixing bowl. Add molasses, eggs and milk and blend well.
Sift together the flour, spices, baking soda and salt.

Add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture and stir until just combined. (This cupcake pan is one of my absolute favorites. I got it from Williams Sonoma a year or two ago. It is the cutest pan EVER!!!)

Pour the batter evenly into the prepared tin.6. Bake at 350 degrees 18-20 minutes. Remove cupcakes to cooling rack. Frost when completely cooled.

I got lazy and opted to not frost these babies. I did have everything ready to make the frosting. I even pulled out my neato mechanical frosting bag with the intention of making green frosting so I could pipe stems and leaves on these little pumpkins. Maybe it was because I already frosted one cake this week, but the frosting never came to fruition. They still tasted yummy!

When I was dusting the cupcakes with powdered sugar I told Alex I thought it looked like it was snowing. He said it looked more like dandruff...Where's the Head and Shoulders?