Monday, November 12, 2007

Yo, Chicken...Beer Me!

I have never made a whole chicken before. I have enough trouble with just a simple breast so I was pretty freaking nervous. Plus...yeah, wish someone would have told me that whole chickens came with the neck AND the gibblets still in tact. I felt like the Old Man in A Christmas Story. "It's...smiling at me!" DH had to come and chop off the neck and fish out the ickiness inside for me but what followed was absolutely delicious! I can believe how easily this came together and how juicy and flavorful it was. Best chicken I have ever made...hand's down!

(Recipe Source: Guy Fieri -

  • 1 (2 to 3-pound) whole chicken (Mine was a little bigger, like 3.75 lbs.)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 (12-ounce) can beer (I used Sam Adams Winter Lager -- which actually involved pouring out a skunky old Bud Light, rinisng the can and then pouring the other beer into the can!)
  • 1/2 pound bacon


  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Wash chicken with cold water and pat dry with paper towels.
  • Mix dry ingredients in small bowl. Rub 1/2 of the ingredients on inside cavity of chicken. Gently peel skin away from chicken and rub mixture into meat of chicken. Open beer can pour out about 1/2 cup. Drop the garlic cloves into the beer can. Place chicken, open end down, over the beer can to insert the beer into the cavity. Place chicken, standing up, in large saute pan. Place 1/3 of the bacon in the top cavity of the chicken and drape the remaining 2/3 of the bacon down the outside of the chicken. Pierce the bacon to the chicken with toothpicks.
  • Place chicken in the oven for 10 minutes and then lower temperature to 325 degrees F and cook for another 1 hour, or until the internal temperature in the thickest part of the thigh reaches 165 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer. (Mine was larger, so it took about 100 minutes to finish cooking.)

Eric could not stop raving about this meal. He was literally sucking the meat off the bone! It was sooooo good. I served it with crusty french bread, rice pilaf and ceasar salads. Will for sure be making this again!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Holiday Cookie Memories!

So I was organizing some photos on Friday evening and I came across a recipe from my mom in one of the envelopes. She must have stuck in there when she gave me the photos and I forgot to take it out! It's one of my absolute favorite holiday cookie recipes. Sure, it's a little early for chistmas baking but really, these are great anytime of the year. These have been a family favorite at our house for as long as I can grandma used to make them for my mom when she was small!

When I was a kid, I used to get up in the morning during christmas break and sneak into the dining room (where all the holiday baking bounty was kept in the same colorful tins that are still passed around the family) and grab a couple of these and wolf them down before breakfast. They are so simple, light, buttery and are FANTASTIC with a big glass of ice cold milk!

(Recipe Source: Mom McQ)

  • 1 cup butter softened
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup uncooked oatmeal (I use Quick Oats)
  • Chocolate sprinkles, for rolling
  • With an electric mixer, cream together butter and sugar, beating until fluffy. Add vanilla.
  • Stir together flour and baking soda; add to butter mixture. Stir in oatmeal and mix well.
  • Chill dough for at least 30 minutes
  • Shape dough into a log and roll in chocolate sprinkles.
  • Slice cookies and place on an ungreased cookie sheet
  • Bake in a 350 degree oven for 15-20 minutes (check after 15)
There's not actually any real chocolate in these, so the name is kind of funny. Looking at the recipe there is no reason why they should be so stinkin' yummy, but what can I say, they are!!!

Monday, November 5, 2007

What to feed a man who hasn't had a real meal in months...

In addition to his very busy work schedule, Eric is in school for an MBA. He is never home. Ever. I haven't cooked a real meal in...a long, long time. He hasn't had a real meal in a long, long time either! I miss being in the kitchen! Eric attacks his two classes with the vigor and enthusiasm of his undergraduate engineering days even though he probably doesn't have to. What a good student!

So we were gone all weekend for a wedding in Austin, TX. We got home about 4:00 Sunday and we were both craving something warm, satisfying and comforting so I broke out one of my old standbys. It's one of my hubby's absolute favorites!

(Recipe courtesy of: ME!)

  • 1/2 box dried mostaccioli pasta (you could use ziti, penne, rigatoni or any chunky pasta)
  • 2 links spicy italian sausage, casings removed
  • 1/4 cup diced onion
  • 1 1/2 tbls of minced garlic (more or less to your taste)
  • 1 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Italian seasoning to taste
  • Red pepper flakes to taste
  • 1/4 cup of grated parm cheese
  • 1/4 cup italian style bread crumbs
  • 1 tbls. butter
  • Additional grated parm for serving
  • Cook pasta to desired tenderness, drain and set aside.
  • Meanwhile, cook onion and sausage in a skillet until browned. Add garlic and cook for an additional minute.
  • Add tomatos, salt and pepper, italian seasoning, and red pepper flakes, stir, getting all the brown bits up from the bottom. Turn down the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Grease a small casserole dish, add pasta and sauce, toss to coat.
  • Mix parm cheese and breadcrumbs together and sprinkle over the top of pasta. Cut butter into small pieces and place on top.
  • Bake in a 400 degree oven until heated through and top is browned.
  • Serve with additional parm cheese. Enjoy!
Sometimes I skip the breadcrumb toping in favor of cheese but I gotta say I'm a sucker for that crispy crust. I just love it! It tastes like it took a long time to prepare when really its super easy to throw together. I serve it with a ceasar salad and some kind of bread or roll on the side. Perfect for my busy school boy!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

I lost my poor meatball...

I was humming "On Top of Spaghetti" the entire time I was making this, even though it had nothing to do wiht spaghetti and meatballs! I'm always on the lookout for "Eric Friendly" recipes. This usually involves the following: beef, minimal veggies, and basic flavoring/seasonings. I found this one the last time I was at my MIL's house flipping through a Family Circle magazine. It was good....not knock-your-socks off or anything but Eric enjoyed it. I think it needs....something. More kick or something. Maybe some red pepper flakes (that's my solution for everything!) But it's certainly a good base recipe. There's a lot of possibilities!

(Recipe Source: Family Circle Magazine)

  • 1-1/4 pound lean ground beef (I used extra lean)
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/3 cup unseasoned bread crumbs
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 can (14-1/2 ounces) beef broth
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Cooked noodles and steamed spinach for serving (I did not include the spinach)


1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Place a rack on a baking sheet and coat with nonstick cooking spray.

2. In a large bowl, mix ground beef, egg, bread crumbs, garlic salt, 1/2 teaspoon of the Italian seasoning and 1/4 teaspoon of the black pepper. Form into 40 meatballs, about 1 level tablespoon each. Place on prepared rack over baking sheet.

3. Bake meatballs at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and mushrooms and cook 6 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally or until lightly browned. Sprinkle flour over the mixture, stir and cook 1 minute. Gradually stir in beef broth until the flour is completely incorporated into the liquid. Bring to a simmer. Stir in the remaining 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and the nutmeg.

5. Add meatballs to the skillet and reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve with buttered egg noodles and steamed spinach.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

I guess I've been tagged

So here are 8 random things about me.

1. I miss everything about where I grew up. Iowa is NOT my home. After 2.5 years I'm still homesick and I'm just counting the days until we move back to Illinois. Hopefully by this time next year. ::Crossing Fingers::

2. We eat out every Friday night. It never fails. I don't think I've cooked on a Friday night in months. I just don't feel like cooking after a long week.

3. I have a very strong aversion to ANYTHING white and creamy. Mayo is the number offender, the thought of being in the same room with it makes me want to gag, but also included are ranch dressing, alfredo sauce, cottage cheese, cream cheese, whipped cream, even soft-serve vanilla ice cream!

4. I drive a 2005 Ford, fast, wildly impractacle...and I love every second of it.

5. If I had my way, I would be able to make a decent living freelancing....seriously, if I could spend a couple hours a week writing a column at Starbucks and the rest shopping like Carrie Bradshaw it would be the ultimate sweet life.

6. I don't floss. I know I should and everyday I tell myself that tomorrow I am going to start but I never do. I get my butt handed to me everytime I go to the dentist. I need to start!!!

7. I've got baby fever. There, I said it. Don't tell Eric, he'll flip! ;)

8. The Food Network is my ultimate weakness. Whatevers on there, I will watch. If I've seen it matter, I'll watch it again. The only shows I purposely turn off: anything with Sandra Lee (I just can't handle her) and Dinner Impossible (which is funny because that's the only show Eric actually likes!)

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

"I was born in a small town...."

Okay, that's a lie...I was born in a real big town. But Eric was born in a small town! So I'm a country gal by association.

Ah, Labor of my favorite times of the year. We always take the long weekend and spend it with Eric's family on their farm. There's a street fest, garage sales, lots of friends and lots of food! It's a great time!

I made the Texas Sheet Cake from Cooking Light to take with us and it was a huge hit! I forgot to take a picture before it was gobbled up!

(Recipe Source: Cooking Light)

  • Cooking Spray
  • 2 tsp. all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa, divided
  • 1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk (TIP: I hate buying an entire quart of buttermilk when I only need a cup or so....look for buttermilk in pints! They were about 35 cents at the grocery store!)
  • 1 tbs. vanilla extract, divided
  • 2 large eggs
  • 6 tbs. butter
  • 1/3 cup fat-free milk
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  • Coat a 13x9 pan with cooking spray, sprinkle with 2 tsps. flour. Set aside.
  • Lightly spoon 2 cups of flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine 2 cups of flour and next 4 ingredients (through salt) in a large bowl, stir well with a whisk. Combine 3/4 cup of water, 1/2 cup of butter and 1/4 cup of the cocoa in a small saucepan; bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Add to flour mixture. Beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until well blended. Add buttermilk, 1 tsp. vanilla and eggs; beat well. Pour batter into the prepared pan. Bake at 375 for 22 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted into the center comes out clean. Place on wire rack.
  • Combine 6 tbls. butter, fat free milk and the remaining 1/4 cup of cocoa in a saucepan; bring to a boil, stiring constantly. Remove from heat. Gradually stir in powdered sugar and remaing 2 tsps. of vanilla. Spread over hot cake. Sprinkle with pecans. Cool completely on a wire rack.
Every Labor Day weekend on Main Street is a free (but donations welcome!) Chuckwagon Breakfast. It's a tradition...eating greasy sausage standing up. It cannot be missed!

Here I am chowin' down on my pork sausage patty. No knives at the Chuckwagon...forks only!

Mmmmm...Chuckwagon-y Goodness!

Some good friends of ours are getting married in November. This past weekend, the groom's sister hosted a couples shower for them in their parents backyard. What a relaxing way to spend one of the last evenings of the summer! Fried catfish, bbq pulled pork, fresh corn....YUM!

And best of all....THIS CAKE!Eric (the best man) and the groom (the best man in our wedding) work for competing large equipment manufacturing companies. It's a never ending rivarly. These machines are (ahem) the wrong color!! Heeee!!! :)

Well, the weekend went by way to fast and it was back to reality before we knew it. The end of Labor Day weekend always makes me a little sad because it means summer's over. But with fall comes apples...and pumpkins...and chili...and soups...and all sorts of other yummy warm dishes! I'm actually looking forward to it this year!

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Finally time to cook!

I've been super busy at work and work related functions/parties the last few weeks so I haven't been in the kitchen much! I had that urge to try something new today so I made dinner AND dessert.

Now, I always get on Eric's case about trying new foods....I'm pretty adventerous and I love to try new things but I have one downfall: White and Creamy. I cannot deal with it. So tonight's dinner was a real stretch for me. I figured if I made it myself and I knew what was in it, it would be less scary. I admit to having a momentary moment of panic when I took this out of the oven in all its white and creamy glory but it was actually very good. And I got my husband to eat something green so that's always a plus. I made some serious modifications to this to suit my tastes, they are in italics.

(Recipe source: Giada -
1 (12-ounce) package jumbo shells pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 pound thick-cut pancetta, cut into 3/4-inch cubes (Deli counters in Iowa do not offer pancetta (imagine that!) so I used prepackaged thinly sliced pancetta and crumbled it into my filling)

2 pounds frozen spinach, thawed and drained (I used two 9 oz. boxes per some suggestions in the reviews, not quite two pounds.)
1 (15-ounce) container whole milk ricotta (I used part-skim)
1 cup grated asiago cheese (again, difficulty locating this in my grocery store so I used grated parm instead)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1 tablespoon butter (I used 2 tbs because I added flour as a thickener)
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup cream (I do not cook with heavy cream, it makes my tummy hurt, I used 1 1/4 cup of 2% milk plus 2 tbs. of flour)
2 cups grated asiago cheese, plus 1/4 cup (Since I couldn't find the asiago, I ended up using fontina instead since it would melt nicely and thicken up my sauce. I'd like to try it with the asiago though, if I can find it!)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

For the shells:
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta.

Warm the olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook until lightly golden, about 5 minutes. Remove the pancetta from the pan with a slotted spoon and transfer to a large bowl. Add the spinach, ricotta cheese, asiago cheese, pepper, and nutmeg. Stir to combine. Stuff the shells with about 2 tablespoons of the spinach mixture each and place the stuffed shells in a large, buttered baking dish.

For the sauce:
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the cream and bring to a simmer. Turn the heat to very low and add the 2 cups asiago cheese, parsley, and pepper. Stir until the cheese is dissolved. Pour the sauce over the shells. Top with the remaining 1/4 cup asiago cheese. Bake until golden on top, about 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve immediately.

And now for dessert! I haven't tried this yet...we will be cutting into it in about a half hour but it looks way yummy! My changes are in italics!
(Recipe Source: Cooking Light)

Lightly coat hands with cooking spray to press the slightly sticky crust into the pie plate. The filling may be thin after mixing but will harden in the freezer. (I'm such a cheater and I didn't make the crust...I bought a chocolate graham crust. So I guess I made it less "light" oops! I didn't use the first couple ingredients or do the first step.)


object2=">1 2/3 cups chocolate graham cracker crumbs (about 8 1/2 cookie sheets)
object2=">7 tablespoons sugar, divided
object2=">2 large egg whites, lightly beaten
object2="> Cooking spray
object2=">1 1/4 cups fat-free milk
object2=">2/3 cup reduced-fat crunchy peanut butter (I couldn't find reduced-fat crunchy so I just used regular chunky)
object2=">1/2 teaspoon vanilla
object2=">1/2 cup (4 ounces) fat-free cream cheese, softened
object2=">1 (8-ounce) container frozen fat-free whipped topping, thawed
object2=">3 tablespoons finely chopped salted, dry-roasted peanuts (I left these off because I forgot to pick some up...I just used extra chocolate instead!)
object2=">1/4 cup shaved milk chocolate (about 1 ounce)


Preheat oven to 350°.

Combine crumbs, 3 tablespoons sugar, and egg whites; toss with a fork until moist. Press into bottom and up sides of a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate coated with cooking spray. Prick crust with a fork before baking. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes. Remove from oven; cool on a wire rack.

Combine milk and remaining 1/4 cup sugar in a heavy saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook 2 minutes or until sugar dissolves, stirring constantly; transfer mixture to a bowl. Add peanut butter and vanilla, stirring with a whisk until combined. Cover and chill 30 minutes.

Place cream cheese in a large bowl, and beat with a mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add milk mixture, beating on low speed until combined. Fold in whipped topping; pour mixture into prepared piecrust. Freeze, uncovered, 8 hours or overnight or until hard. Sprinkle with peanuts and shaved chocolate. Transfer pie to refrigerator 30 minutes before slicing.

(One tip, if you do use a pre-made crust - there is way too much filling for the crust. I made a huge mess when I poured the filling in to quickly and it spilled over! Yikes! It's okay though, still looks yummy!)

Thursday, July 19, 2007

One Hour, One Great Meal!

I am blessed to live about 5 minutes from my office (thank you, Iowa and your zero traffic!) so I come home at lunch, when I'm not working through it, of course. Today, I was in a pinch and didn't know what we were going to have for dinner. So I threw this together in the crockpot with what I had around the house. (This picture blows...sorry. And really this was tastier than it looks!)

(Recipe Source: That wild imagination of mine!)

1 boneless pork roast (your favorite cut)
1 can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
1 green bell pepper, cut into chunks (I had some fresh from a coworkers garden...YUM!!)
tomato sauce
tomato paste
chicken stock
minced garlic
freshly ground black pepper
dried basil
dried oregeno

Combine liquids tomatoes and peppers in crock pot, add pork and turn to coat evenly. Spread garlic over the top, sprinkle with salt, pepper. Cook on low for 5 to 6 hours. Slice and spoon veggies over the top. Enjoy!

Very tasty...lots of good flavor. Not bad for a lunch hour!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

This stuff is bananas...B-A-N-A-N-A-S!

I don't know what came over to me today but after working a 10 hour day, a trip to the store, a dash across the parking lot to avoid a monsterous downpour, dinner, and a sink full of pots and pans, I decided to make banana bread! I do NOT bake on much work and clean up but this was surprisingly easy! Of course, I put my own spin on it!


2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs, beaten
2 1/3 cups mashed overripe bananas

I added a splash of vanilla and about 3/4 of a bag of Hershey's Special Dark chocolate chips.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a 9x5 inch loaf pan.

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar. Stir in eggs and mashed bananas until well blended. Stir banana mixture into flour mixture; stir just to moisten. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan.

Bake in preheated oven for 60 to 65 minu
tes, until a toothpick inserted into center of the loaf comes out clean. Let bread cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack.

Eric tested, Erin approved! YUM! Breakfast for the rest of the week! :)

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Sweet Home Chicago

Ah...there's nothing like going home. We were at my folks house for the weekend and got to enjoy all my Chi-Town favorites. Moving to Iowa has definitely made me appreciate my roots A LOT more! Not to say that Iowa sucks or anything but when you've lived only one place your entire life and certain foods are as common as breakfast cereal you start to realize how much you miss them when you can't have them! I'm kicking myself for forgetting my camera!

Friday night: Lou Malnati's (1 South Roselle Rd, Schaumburg)
Mmmmmm....deep dish...the pizza that eats like a steak. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Lou's and have been going there for many years, from birthday parties as a kid, to nights out in college, to our rehearsal dinner this place is like a second home. We had pepperoni and for the first time in my entire life I polished off two pieces. I have never made it through two entire pieces before!
Bonus: They ship EVERYWHERE! Well worth it!

Saturday afternoon: Portillos (611 East Golf Rd, Schaumburg)
Okay, one problem with Portillos...I can never ever decide what I want to get!! Italian beef, Italian Sausage, hot dogs? Decisions, decisions! I love all those things but lots of times I just cannot pass up the Chopped Salad. Here's the description:

(from Romaine & Iceberg mix with Tubetti Pasta, chicken, bacon, tomatoes, Gorganzola cheese, green onion, red cabbage and tossed with House dressing.

I just love all the bite sized veggies and the little pasta tubes. The dressing is so freakin' awesome! Confession: This isn't exactly from Portillo's its from Barnelli's Pasta Bowl...some Portillo's have Barnelli's in them some don't. If you're eating Barnelli's you are for sure in Portillo's but just because you're in Portillo's doesn't mean you can get Barnelli's!

Eric likes to get the Beef and Cheddar Crossaint. Here's a description:

(from A perfect compliment of our famous Italian Beef layered with Cheddar cheese and served on a toasted fresh croissant.

Oh, how I miss my home!! We really need to start branching out because we seem to visit the same places every time we're there and there's so many yummy places to eat!!!! Run, don't walk, to the Chicago area NOW! :)

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Knee High by the 4th of July

Well, I was wandering around the grocery store today and the big piles of sweet corn were calling to me. "hey, buy me! I won't let you down, I promise!" I should have known those little buggers were lying to me!'s a little early for really good locally grown sweet corn. I made it tonight. Although it wasn't horrible, it wasn't as good as I know it will be. When the locals start selling it out of the backs of their pickups and vans in parking lots...THEN you know it's time for corn! They're just not quite ready this the old saying goes "Knee high by the 4th of July"

I also made steaks on the grill. Now Eric, bless his heart, went to visit his parents one weekend and came back with an entire third of a steer. you realize how much meat this is? We are talking at least a couple hundred pounds. AT LEAST! We had to purchase and extra freezer so we could keep it all. The steaks were just okay...they always are. Eric really liked his, which is great but I'm just not a big red meat eater. I would almost always choose something else. But we've got steaks out the ying yang so I'm gonna keep making them and eating them! I just need some creative things to do with them.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Let's not forget how lucky we are...

I just wanted to post a link to a blog being featured on our local newspaper's website. A local reporter is abandoing packaged foods, dinners out and all the other luxuries we take for granted in favor of a food stamp budget for the entire month of June. He is writing about his experiences here:

It just makes me stop and think...while I'm browsing the 7 dollar hunks of cheese, there are people really struggling to make ends meet. It makes me realize how lucky we are. To be able to have dinner out, to have cocktails with our friends and to buy fun, exotic ingredients and create outstanding meals at home...I don't ever have to "worry" about food. Imagine what it would be like if you did?

That is all.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Chicken Marsal-WHAT?

Oh my hubby...bless his heart. He has gotten so adventerous when it comes to food since he met me (ha, sort of). Things that I grew up eating are new to him and it's so fun to watch him try new things and like them. Tonight's dinner was something he hadn't had before until we got married and now it's one of his faves. I've loved this dish forever. My mom made it often. So light and yummy. Enjoy!
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. dried marjoram, crushed
4 chicken breasts, pounded 1/4 in. thick
2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
1/4 cup sliced green onion
3 tb. butter
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup dry marsala wine
Hot, cooked pasta (I use linguine)
Combine flour, marjoram and salt and black pepper to taste in small bowl. Lightly coat chicken pieces with flour mixture and shake off excess.
In a large skillet cook mushrooms and green onions in 1 tablespoon of butter over medium-high heat until tender; remove from skillet. In the same skillet cook chicken in remaining 2 tablespoons of butter for 5 to 6 minutes, turning to brown evenly.
Remove skillet from heat. Return mushrooms and green onions to skillet. Carefully add broth and wine to skillet. Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season sauce to taste with additional salt and pepper. Transfer chicken to a serving platter. Spoon mushroom mixture over chicken. Serve over pasta.
To save time, I buy the chicken breasts already pounded thin. Gotta love those "thin and fancy" breasts! HA!

A humble patch of rhubarb

On the far western edge of our yard, which is like unchartered wilderness as far as I'm concerned, is a small patch of rhubarb planted by the previous owner. I venture out that far like never so I often forget its out there. I don't really do anything to it, it just grows on its own! I thought I should try to make something with it since its out there all lonely and only visited by bunnies!


1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 pound fresh rhubarb, chopped
2 pints fresh strawberries
1 recipe pastry for a 9 inch double crust pie
2 tablespoons butter
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons white sugar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

In a large bowl, mix flour and sugar. Add strawberries and chopped rhubarb. Toss with sugar and flour and let stand for 30 minutes.
Pour filling into pie crust. Dot top with butter, and cover with top crust. Seal edges of top and bottom crust with water.

Apply yolk to top of pie, using a pastry brush. Sprinkle with sugar. Cut small holes in top to let steam escape.

Bake at 400 degrees F for 35 to 40 minutes, or until bubbly and brown. Cool on rack.
This is first pie I've ever made. I did use pre-made pie crusts...I'm not ready to be making my own pie crusts. But this is certainly a step up from my usual routine. I admit to stopping by the Wal-Mart frozen food section when craving pie...ha. It looks pretty yummy. We haven't sliced it yet but it will be a treat for later. I've got vanilla ice cream too, of course! Eric seemed pretty impressed!

Who would of thought you could just leave a patch of rhubarb unattended and it would just grow and grow! And just for fun, this is what's beyond my rhubarb patch. Wide open spaces and fresh country air, people!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Margaritas and Mariachis!

I've spent the last week or so planning a Fiesta themed party for my office. Leave it up the PR person on the committee to do all the leg work! Tomorrow is finally the big day! Margaritas and tacos beginning at 4pm! (Hey, we're in advertising...the best ideas come when the booze is flowin', right?) Tonight, I made Mexican Hot Chocolate brownies for the party. They are divine! I've always loved the chocolate/cinnamon combo so I just took a basic brownie recipe and put my own spin on it.

(Brownie recipe source:

3/4 cup butter, melted
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 eggs
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon mild chili powder
1 bag Hershey's Special Dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8 inch square pan.
In a large bowl, blend melted butter, sugar and vanilla. Beat in eggs one at a time. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and chili powder. Gradually blend into the egg mixture. Stir in chocolate chips. Spread the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake in preheated oven for 40 to 45 minutes, or until brownies begin to pull away from the sides of the pan. Let brownies cool, then cut into squares. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

East meets (Mid)West

Eric refuses to touch anything that has an "Asian" flavor. No Chinese, no Thai...NOTHING! Seriously...the guy is defective that way! I personally love it and could live off takeout for the rest of my life but...ya gotta sacrifice for your man, I guess.

Except when he's not home of course!! Eric is really busy with school. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday...he's off studying and I'm on my own for dinner. Tonight I took a look around at what I had and came up with a yummy Asian-inspired pizza. YUM!


  • Pizza dough/crust of your choice
  • Chicken breasts, cooked and cubed
  • Kraft Light Asian Toasted Sesame dressing
  • Shredded Mozzerella Cheese
  • Shredded parm cheese
  • Sliced button mushrooms
  • Shredded carrots
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Toasted sesame seeds
  • Sliced green onions for garnish

Layer all ingredients except green onions onto dough or crust and bake to desired crispness. Sprinkle with green onions, slice and enjoy!

It came out pretty good! I used a pizza crust I bought at the store (like a Boboli type thing) because I had really bad luck the last time I tried to work with actual dough and I was feeling kinda lazy tonight. This was a great way to use up some veggies before they had to be tossed.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Story of a birthday dinner disaster

So, being that Eric was studying all day for an exam he had today in one of his MBA classes, I didn't get to make him a fun dinner for his birthday last night. So I decided to do it tonight. On the menu...Giada's balsamic chicken drumettes, a recipe I've wanted to try for quite sometime.

I made up the marindade last night and used actual chicken drumsticks instead of the wings. All day long at work, all I could think about was making my birthday boy a nice dinner. The result was a complete disaster!

Witness Exhibit A:

This plate of chicken is black on the outside and raw on the inside. The drumsticks spent the last 24 hours marinating in a mixture of balsamic vinegar, honey and brown sugar and in a momentary lapse in sanity, I decided to throw them on the grill instead of in the oven....yeah, hi...the first thing they did when the hit the grill was burn to a crisp.

Witness Exhibit B:

While I was outside fighting with the chicken, the marinade was cooking on the stove so I could use it as a glaze when the chicken was done. It boiled over, burned to my stovetop, and quickly became the consitancy of road tar.

AND, if that wasn't enough...enter a freak summer thunderstorm that completely drenched me from head to toe before I could run for cover. Eric, who had been out at the auto parts store, came home and found me standing in the kitchen, dripping wet, holding a plate of inedible chicken over one helluva mess on the stove...bawling my eyes out because I had ruined dinner.

After nearly an hour of cleanup, we went out had pizza and beer. Chalk it up to lesson learned. Another kitchen mishap for me...I'm sure it won't be the last!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Recipe for a Creative Country Cook

I'm jumping on the food blog bandwagon after browsing all the great blogs on The Nest What's Cooking bored! I have two great loves in this world: Food and Words. Sounds like a recipe for success to me!

I love to cook and bake but I'm certainly still an amature. I'll be chronicling my hits and misses here. The name of the game is Creative Country Cookin'. This is how its done:

Recipe for a Creative Country Cook

  • 1 suburban-raised, shoe-loving, reality TV watching PR professional with a flair for the spicy, flavorful, and adventerous
  • 1 farm-raised, corn-fed, F-150 driving, Johnny Cash listening engineer with a taste for nothing but meat and potatoes
  • A pinch of Adventure
  • A sprinkling of Laughs
  • A handful of Mishaps
  • Two heaping palmfuls of Love


  • Move all the above away from home to a small city in Northeastern Iowa
  • Combine in a modest ranch-style starter home
  • Stir and Enjoy!