Tuesday, September 28, 2010


For a quick meal tonight, and another beat the heat dinner, Brian and I whipped up some paninis. I went to Trader Joe's and got our favorite sourdough bread and some good meats and cheeses. We tried out havarti cheese, I've heard it's good and melts like a dream, and that it does. You can really put anything on a panini that you'd like. I use to get a panini at The Corner Bakery that had dejion mustard, ham, tomatoes, and Swiss cheese. I used that as my inspiration tonight. I switched up the Swiss for havarti, used ham and turkey and also added grilled onion and spinach. Brian added sun dried tomatoes to his also. The result was a very tasty treat. Filling too, good source of protein and veggies! So go create paninis and let me know what delicious combinations you come up with.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Russian Chicken

I'm not sure how the weather is in your part of the country, but the heat wave in Orange County continues on. It was 105 in Costa Mesa today. We do not have air conditioning in our little apartment, which usually isn't a problem because we get a nice coastal breeze. Today, there was no coastal breeze to be found. So because of this little situation I present to you a slow cooker meal that won't heat your kitchen up, if you can handle eating warm food. (Brian and I had Subway tonight, then I spent the rest of the evening in a movie theater and now I'm eating frozen yogurt while I type this up! Brian braved the heat at an Angles game.)

My sister asked me if this Russian chicken recipe was considered a "semi-homemade" recipe, and yes, it totally is. While I didn't get the recipe from Sandra Lee I'm pretty sure she would love it. But this semi-homemade dish is really delicious. I love how the chicken, after being in the slow cooker, just falls apart. And the sauce is sweet, love that! Serve it over rice, that you cook in the rice cooker so as to not heat up the kitchen, and you are good to go. Quick, easy, and keeps the kitchen cool.

Serves 4-6 (Depending on how much sauce you like):
4-6 chicken breasts
1 16 oz. bottle Russian Dressing
1 packet dry onion soup mix (I used Lipton)
1 10 oz. jar apricot preserves/jam

Combine First sauce ingredients in a bowl
Season Chicken with salt and pepper and place in the bottom of slow cooker
Pour mixture over Chicken
Cook on Low for 6-8 Hours (or on High for 3-4 hours)

On a not so hot day this recipe can also be made in the oven, follow steps exactly except place chicken in a casserole dish and bake at 350 for one hour

Serve over rice

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Fajita Marinade

Today, or this weekend rather, has been unusually hot here in Orange County. It was hotter today than I think it's been all summer. Anyway, I had to take little brother Jeff to the airport tonight, but promised him I'd make him dinner before we left. So in the heat I wanted to whip up something fast so didn't have to be in the hot kitchen longer than necessary. For me that of course means chicken and rice of some sort, or clean out the fridge fajitas/burritos. Today the fajitas won out. I wanted to do a new seasoning for the fajitas, so I searched out some options on Tasty Kitchen. The first one that came up looked good, so I gave it a try. The actual recipe is supposed to be used for a marinade, but I just made the sauce and poured it on top and cooked it for a while. (I'll link to the actual recipe below and you can try it her way too if you'd like.)

For my fajitas I added a bit of olive oil to a pan and cooked 1 red onion and 1 green pepper until softened. Then I added one can of chicken (did not grocery shop this weekend due to my bronchitis)and some fresh corn from the cob. Mixed up the marinade and poured it over the top and simmered for about 15 minutes. Served up in the ready made, but bake at home tortillas with salsa and sour cream. Huge hit. Brian said the smell was so strong it woke him from his nap, not necessarily a bad thing. Little brother was not only satisfied but impressed with how fast the meal came together. For sure going to use this one in the week night meal rotation. Keeper!

Fajitas Marinade:
2 whole Limes, Juiced
¼ cups Tequila (optional)
¼ cups Olive Oil
¼ cups Chopped Fresh Cilantro Or Parsley
1 Tablespoon Soy Sauce
2 Tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
2 cloves Garlic, Minced (optional)
½ teaspoons Dried Oregano
1 teaspoon Cumin

Original Recipe on Tasty Kitchen

Pineapple Zucchini Cake

Our generous friends Jennifer and Andy, who gave us the tomatoes to make salsa, also gave us a very large zucchini they grew in their garden. They are currently remodeling their house and do not have a kitchen. So I thought I'd put my kitchen and their zucchinis to good use and whipped up a zucchini cake. I started searching around for zucchini recipes and was amazed at how many recipes there were for sweet treats made with zucchini. And most of them incorporated some kind of cream cheese frosting, which is a total bonus in my book. I found a lot of good looking recipes on the Tasty Kitchen Blog, and one endorsed by The Pioneer Woman, so I thought I'd give it a go.

I followed the recipe almost as written except I used vegetable oil instead of canola oil, it's just what I had on hand. I think I might add some nuts next time, and there will be a next time. I cut the recipe for the frosting in half, I just wanted a thin layer, and half a recipe was more than enough. As she suggested I put some pineapple juice in the frosting, it was a great addition! Definitely add this recipe to your zucchini collection.

Pineapple Zucchini Cake Recipe
Pioneer Woman step by step instructions

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Pancake Soufflé (The Puffy Pancakes)

The other Sunday when Brian and I were making up our second batch of Spiced Pecan Waffles my brothers Garrett and Jeff were having breakfast with us. Garrett likes to cook too and he had seen a pancake soufflé made on an episode of Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, and decided to whip one up. Gar likes to call it the puffy pancake because it's basically pancake batter with whipped egg whites. He took a basic pancake batter recipe, and added a few extras like vanilla and nutmeg, plus the beaten egg whites. The result was a heavenly, cloudlike pancake, with a toasty outside and soft center, topped off with fruit, powdered sugar and syrup.

Here's how you make it:
Recipe for 4 pancakes

Turn on broiler

separate 4 eggs
combine egg yokes with:
1 cup milk
4 Tablespoons melted butter
1/2 Teaspoon vanilla
1/4 Teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup flour, stir until just combined

Whip the 4 egg whites until peaks are stiff, but not dry. Gently fold into batter, do not over mix.

Melt a pad of butter in an 8 inch pan over medium heat. Once melted add 3/4 to 1 cup of batter.

Cook for about 2-3 minutes. At this point the batter will begin to set and you can add fruit. If you add fruit at the beginning it will fall to the bottom. Cook for a few more minutes until golden brown on the bottom and moves freely in the pan.

Transfer to broiler to brown the top and finish cooking, about a minute or so. (Keep an eye on it.)

Slide out onto a plate, garnish with powdered sugar and/or maple syrup.

I can't say enough good things about these delicious little babies! Garrett is sitting here with me as I write this and I'm pretty sure we'll be making them again tomorrow for Sunday breakfast.
[Update: We did make these again for breakfast today but we used my small cast iron skillets, about 7 inches. Garrett thought the cast iron cooked more evenly. They were smaller, so a better size, but just as delicious!]

Salted Double Chocolate Cookies

While I wasn't baking during the week this past month, I was still oohing and ahhing over delicious looking blog posts and making mental notes of what I wanted to make when I did find the time. While I was reading a favorite blog on mine, Annie's Eats, I came across these chocolate cookies that looked delicious. I love chocolate cookies and I'm always looking for new recipes. While I was reading her blog, I also found out that she just finished medical school and manages to blog everyday. So I should be able to manage by little school teaching job and blog at the same time!

Anyway, these cookies are very chocolaty. But the added salt makes them a good combination of sweet and salty. I love those treats! I did run into a bit of trouble with the recipe though. I made it as is, and the batter was very runny. I read a few comments and people said they let it sit for a while and the dough thickened. That didn't seem to happen to mine, so I added about 1/3 of a cup more flour, to equal one cup total.

Before the extra flour, the dough looked more like cake batter, even after I let it sit. See how it's very runny?

When I used my cookie scoop and put the dough on the cookie sheet, it spread out. These cookies would have been really flat with chocolate chips sticking up.

After the flour the dough thickened up quite a bit and started to resemble actual cookie dough. They cooked up great, and longer they sat, the better they became. Great second day cookies. So if you love chocolaty chocolate cookies give these a try. Here is the link to the Annie's Eats recipe and also the Martha Stewart recipe it was adapted from.

Salted Double Chocolate Chunk Cookies
Martha's Original Recipe

Spiced Pecan Pumpkin Waffles

I dare say it's been a while since I posted. I'm sure I've lost most of my readers, but do come back! It's been a long start to the new school year, and I've been working some long days. Because of that I've been cooking just the basics on during the week and trying to bake on the weekend. Last week I finally managed to make a couple of things, but this week turns out I got got bronchitis. I guess I'm lucky I made it four weeks without those students getting me sick. So, I've been in bed for a few days, and my DVR is cleaned off so now it's time to update the blog with what's been going on in my kitchen.

On Labor Day Brian was so cute! He wanted to take me to Williams Sonoma to get some new kitchen stuff. I love going there in the fall. They have all their fun seasonal goods in, and it smell amazing in there. They were sampling their spiced pecan pumpkin waffle mix. It was so good. Tasted exactly like fall. All the flavors of cinnamon, pumpkin, nutmeg, and the candied pecans put those waffles over the top. The real maple syrup only added to the rich flavors.

Brian insisted we buy the mix, so we did. And for the past two Sundays we have made them for breakfast. The mix makes only two batches, and we got five waffles out of each batch. It was worth the money. So do yourself a favor and visit your local Willams Sonoma and pick up a mix, and enjoy looking and all their fun fall merchandise. I'll probably go back to making my own pumpkin waffles from scratch, but I'll definitely be adding in some candied pecans.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Meals on Wheels: OC Foodie Fest

While visiting The Lime Truck a week or so ago (post coming) I picked up a flier for the OC Foodie Fest. It was last Saturday and was the ultimate foodie destination. In the parking lot of the Honda Center was Orange Counties first gourmet food truck event. There was a $15 entrance fee and the money went to support charities. We checked the list of trucks that would be in attendance and there were so many that we recognized and were thrilled that they would all be in one location! We had been contemplating driving to LA to try some of the trucks, but now we didn't have to.

I'm totally hooked on Food Network's The Great Food Truck Race ! If you've watched it, then you know a lot of the trucks are from the LA area. From the show The Nom Nom Truck, Crepes Bonaparte, and Nana Queens were going to be at the fest! Since the Nom Nom Truck is pretty much dominating the show I was dying to try one of their Banh Mi sandwiches. Garrett came with me and Brian, and he had seen the Don Chow truck on an episode of Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, and they were also going to be at the fest.

We pay to get in and are welcomed to a large parking lot full of food trucks and...lines. Lots and lots of lines. Long ones too. Our plan was to divide and conquer. Right when we walked in we spotted Don Chows and the Nom Nom truck. Gar heads to Don Chows and I make way to the fast growing Nom Nom line. Brian wandered off to see what else there was.

Don Chow Tacos is Chinese Mexican fusion cuisine. They say their "Chino-meets-Latino" fusion blends the best of both flavors. For the Food Fest they had a fixed menu of three tacos for $6. I honestly can't remember what three tacos we had, but they were delicious, and a nice combination of flavors. Definitely a visit again truck.

The Nom Nom Truck totally deserves to be winning every week on The Great Food Truck Race. After waiting an hour in line we got our turn. But while I was at the back of this very long line, a Foodie Fest worker came along and gave me Angles tickets for that nights game! Nom Nom had only Banh Mi”, or Vietnamese Sandwiches on their menu (they usually have a variety of other items) in chicken, pork or tofu. Sad though, when we got up their they had no pork, and I had heard that was their best. Not to worry though, their chicken was delicious. The sandwich was on a soft bread with a crusty outside, a creamy mayo type spread, vegetables and the most delicious chicken. I did have to pick of the jalapenos though. I'm kind of a light weight when it comes to spice. We ordered up three 12 inchers and we all finished every single bite. I even got my picture taken with the girl that does all the selling, but Gar's Droid phone failed to capture my moment! It was such a fun truck to visit and the two girls running it are lots of fun.

Brian ended up going to a pizza truck, called the Slice Truck, mainly because the line was short. But what wasn't short was the time it took to make the pizza. He was waiting for his order just as long as we were in line. And while the pizza was good, a nice thin crust cheesey pizza, I don't think it was worth the wait. In my opinion, a pizza truck isn't the way to go. It's not a fast food!

After that we walked around looking for a few other trucks to try. We had been there for so long already, and were tired and hot from standing in line. There was a bakery truck I wanted to try, but again a long line and a baked good didn't sound nearly as good as some of the ice cream trucks that were there. We saw the Nanna Queens truck and the Crepes truck. I was glad Nanna Queens had propane to cook their wings this time, (see episode 1) but didn't need to wait in line for any. And turns out the Crepes Bonaparte truck is based in Orange County, so we figured we could go anytime and not have to stand in that line!

We eventually decided to get dessert at the Cool Haus ice cream sandwich truck. It was your basic pick your cookie, and pick your ice cream dessert. Again, long line, and it wasn't moving. They kept closing the window and wouldn't take orders for like 10 minutes. Then I saw the girl get out of the truck with a container of liquid, walk over the the port-a-potty, dump the liquid and then rinse the container at the portable hand washing station. She headed back to the truck and I instantly wondered if that container would be touching anything that would touch my ice cream and cookies. Kind of a big turn off. And the window kept closing and the line didn't move, so after about 30 minutes we called it a day. No ice cream sandwiches.

Overall thoughts on the OC Foodie Fest: All the great trucks in one place-good. Long lines because of that-bad. What did my $15 get me? A chance to stand in really long lines, and I guess donate to charity. I don't feel the need to go to the second annual OC Foodie Fest. I would rather make the drive to LA and hit up my favorite food trucks with less lines. And you can only eat so much food at a fest! But I am glad we went, it was a really fun afternoon, and I definitely had some great food!

(Of all the days to forget my real camera. Thanks iPhone for getting the job done.)
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