Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Chicken Brushetta Pasta (TGIFriday's style!)

Again, no pictures. Sorry. Sometimes pictures are just a hassle. I picked a boat load of tomatoes from the garden yesterday and decided this evening that I was going to try my hand at Brushetta. My method for finding recipes is usually to first google it and then I read a bunch. I always look at reviews and I try to pick the best things from the recipes I read. My friend Kelly and I go to Friday's for pretty much every meal we get together for. I really enjoy their Brushetta Chicken so when I saw a couple recipes saying they were copycats from Friday's that's where my mind went. It actually turned out really good. Maybe a little too sweet for my liking but that can be adjusted next time. Here's what I did.

Peel a bunch of tomatoes (I don't know how many I had, I didn't really count)
Get rid of the seeds and excess juice and chop them up
Chop some garlic, about 2-3 cloves
Chop about 10 fresh basil leaves
mix it all together with salt and pepper and about 2 tablespoons of olive oil
I put the tomato mixture in the fridge while I got the rest of the stuff together. This mixture would also be really tasty on bread for the classic version of brushetta.

In a small sauce pan I boiled a cup of balsamic vinegar with 2 tablespoons of sugar. I cooked it down until it was reduced about 50%. It should be thick, almost syrup like. I found it way too sweet. Next time I'll use one tablespoon of sugar.

Dice two more cloves of garlic and add them to another two tablespoons of olive oil. Put them in a skillet until the garlic is fragrant. Don't over cook the garlic. Cook some angel hair pasta and once it's done add it to the skillet with the oil and garlic. Toss the noodles to get them a good coating.

I added a half cup of some homemade spaghetti sauce (made and canned last week by yours truly) to the tomato mixture and mixed it up. Then I added the noodle and balsamic glaze and mixed everything again. I made a couple chicken breast that were seasoned with just some salt and pepper, sliced them and put them on top. It was quite good!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Mac & Cheese

This morning we had worship in the park. I love having church outside because nature consistently reminds me of how great God is. But, this is supposed to be about food and did we have a lot of that today! Everyone brings a side dish and after the service we eat and if you're me and your husband is Josiah Brown, you then watch the kids (husband included) play football (that could be a whole blog on it's own as those kids are too funny.)

I made mac & cheese as my side dish. The last couple events we've had I always make this twice baked potato casserole, which is amazing but it's complicated and I needed something I could make this morning. Mac & cheese is everyone's favorite. It's especially good if you're part of the Hudson household. I'm not sure mine will ever be as good as Garland Hudson's secret recipe but I keep trying.

Here's what I did: 2lbs large elbow macaroni cooked al dente and drained. That's the easy part. For the sauce I melted 4 tbsp of butter in a sauce pan and added a quarter cup of cornstarch. I added one cup of cream and one cup of whole milk slowly, stirring the whole time. I seasoned the milk mixture with salt, pepper, ground mustard, and garlic powder. Next time I will add a quarter of an onion chopped. To that I then added a can of cream of mushroom soup. Once the the soup was incorporated, I added 8oz sharp cheddar and 8oz Colby/Monterrey. This really makes the sauce thick and creamy. I mixed it with the noodles and spread more cheese on top and baked it 10 minutes at 350 (just to make the cheese on top melt.) It was pretty good. I think next time I will only use sharp cheddar but maybe white and yellow. Also, I think baking it dries it out some so I may skip that part all together. If not skip it then at least add another cup of milk so the creaminess stays there.

I didn't get to take any home, so I guess it must have been good. Overall, I'd say it was a pretty good attempt but I'm gonna keep trying to make it better :-)

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Homemade Chips & Salsa

I think my favorite part of growing tomatos is going to be the fresh salsa!! I had a nice lot that I pulled this week and decided salsa was just what I needed.

I found this neat little trick online to peeling tomatos very easily. First, you boil water. Once it's rolling, drop the tomatos in for about 30 seconds to 1 minute.

Transfer the tomatos to a bowl of ice water. The skin just peels right off, it's amazing.

I like simple salsa so this is basically pico de gallo but soupier! I chopped an onion and a garlic clove and tossed them in the food processor.

I pulled a hot red pepper from the garden. Side note: I have no idea what kind of pepper this is. It's supposed to be a red bell pepper but trust me, it's not! I also pulled a green bell pepper from the garden. I chopped them both and added them to the onion and garlic. I gave the food processor a couple good pulses once I had them all together.

I took my peeled tomatos and either threw them in whole or roughly chopped. I let the food processor go for about 30 seconds and stopped.

Then I realized we didn't have any tortilla chips. Sad day, I tell ya. Of course, I am stubborn and didn't let that stop me. I took about 8 tortillas from the fridge and cut them in quarters. I used oil to coat both sides and salted them. Set the oven to about 400-450 and let them cook about 5-7 minutes. It doesn't take long so you have to pay attention or they'll burn.

Yay. Chips and salsa. Thanks to Janet Potter for the lovely blue bowl she made. It's the perfect sized salsa bowl :-)

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Red Curry Chicken

I LOVE Thai food. LOVE it! I was spoiled while working in Melrose Park, IL by this little restaurant called Sala Thai that had a lunch buffet during the week. My favorite dish was Red Curry Chicken. It was a red curry sauce with chicken and bamboo shoots, which I ate over rice. Didn't really matter if it was fried rice or steamed, it's good over both! I found this lovely premade sauce at Kroger and Bamboo Shoots as well (since I'd honestly have no idea where to begin to look for those!)

The first thing I did was season the chicken. I found a couple tips online on Thai seasoning since I didn't have a clue where to start. I didn't measure anything but here's what I used: Cilantro, Mint, Garlic powder, Cumin, salt, pepper and ground ginger.

Next I started the rice. If you don't have one of these inventions you need to go buy one right now. They are wonderful. I put the rice and water in, turn it on, and walk away. No worries about it sticking to the pan or drying out. It's fantastic. Plus, whatever I'm making is usually done right around the same time as the right, which is handy.

I sauteed the chicken strips in a couple tablespoons of oil, added the bamboo shoots and sauce. I turned the heat down a little and put a lid on it. I let it simmer for about 10-12 minutes.

Put the rice in a bowl and cover it with the chicken and sauce and you're set. I actually really enjoyed the mint seasoning in this. It really gives it a nice authentic feel, which is pretty awesome since it's a premade sauce :-)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

More summer fun!

Sorry! No pictures to go with this one. I love burgers on the grill but not just any burger. I want it to be juicy and have some flavor (other than what gets added to the top!) Today I had some ground beef in the fridge that needed to be used so I decided to make some up. First I fried 4 strips of bacon until crisp and sauteed half an onion in the grease. I put that in a bowl with some steak sauce and Worcestershire (don't ask how much because I didn't measure), I added some sharp cheddar cheese and some Montreal steak seasoning and mixed it up. Once that was together, I added the ground beef. I mixed it with my hands to make sure it really got evenly dispersed. I formed four loose balls and made them into patties. Since I'm the only one home right now I put one in the cast iron skillet and the other three got put in the fridge (my husband can make them for dinner). I lined a glass container with wax paper and put a sheet between each patty. Cook the burger over medium heat 5 minutes and then flip and cook another 5 minutes. DO NOT flatten the patty with your spatula. All that lovely flavor will just ooze out and it would have been a waste of time and ingredients. DO only flip them once. They will stay moist and together. I think if I were making this on the grill I'd add an egg white to help it stay together. They were amazing on the stove though. Very juicy. I didn't even put anything extra on it. Enjoy!