Original and Practical Recipes. Inexpensive, Quick and Healthy.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

My favorite NYC restaurants

Before moving to lovely Chicago, I lived in New York.  As much as I adore Chicago sometimes I miss the food in New York.  Don't get me wrong, Chicago is one of the best food cities in America.  And, coming from Kennebunkport, Maine, a town with no culinary variety, I can't complain.  Regardless, when I was in  New York after Christmas, and was  eager to go to some of my favorite spots!  Here is a list - I didn't have time to hit all of them but I made it to a few!

Klong - excellent Thai Food.  I love their curry puffs and scallion pancakes - 2 things I have never found in Chitown.
Artichoke Pizza - it is a slice of heaven.  I got 2 giant slices and brought them home to Chicago with me.
Spice - the best cheap lunch in Manhattan.  Also thai food.  It was right by where I attended grad school.
Dinosaur BBQ - this place is legendary.  I used to live right down the street.  There is always a really long wait but it is worth it.  I love their spicy mac and cheese and their corn bread.
Rice - cheap and delicious.  They serve all sorts of cuisine that goes with rice, such a simple and fun concept.
Apizz -a hidden gem in the lower east side.  The open squash ravioli is to die for.

Caesar Dip

Our friend Katie brought this dip to my parent's house for their Christmas Eve party.  It was a huge hit, I couldn't stop eating it.  I think that crudite platters are a must at very holiday party since they are a healthier option.  You could make this with low fat mayonnaise and fat free sour cream.

This recipe is originally from Epicurious, but it has been altered slightly.

Total time: 10 minutes
Serves: 8-10

1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 garlic clove, pressed
salt and pepper to taste
Serve with assorted vegetables or salad

Step 1:
Mix all the ingredient together.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Step 2:
Serve with vegetables or on a salad.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Chicken Lettuce Wraps

After three days in Maine I headed down to New York with my sister, Kelly.  I lived in New York from 2006-2008 and I love visiting my friends and my favorite restaurants.  Last night as soon as we arrived in Manhattan we went to Spice where I satisfied my craving for Curry Puffs and Pad Thai.

It was raining like crazy on Tuesday night so we decided to stay in.  Kelly made a great dinner inspired by the lettuce wraps at PF Changs.  We scooped the chicken onto butter lettuce leaves, but it would also be very good on top of brown rice.

Total time: 45 minutes
Serves 4

You will need:
2 pounds Chicken breasts, diced
1 medium onion, finely diced
1/2 pound mushrooms, finely diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons of fresh ginger, minced
1/4 cup Hoisin sauce
1/2 cup stir fry sauce (any generic stir fry sauce)
1 can water chestnuts, diced
1/4 chopped peanuts
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 package of butter lettuce
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Optional: thinly sliced carrots on top

Step 1:
Place the diced chicken a medium bowl with the cayenne pepper, stir fry sauce, half of the Hoisin and half of the ginger.  Let marinate while you prepare the other ingredients.

Step 2:
Heat the sesame oil over medium low heat and add in the onion.  Cook until soft, about 5 minutes.  Add in the mushrooms and turn the heat up to medium.  Cook for 5 more minutes, until the liquid is absorbed and the mushrooms brown slightly.  Then add in the garlic and remaining ginger and cook for 1 minute.

Step 3:
Add in the chicken with the marinade.  Cook over medium heat for 5-7 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.  Then add in the water chestnuts and remaining Hoisin sauce.  Stir to combine and heat through.

Step 4:
Serve the chicken with the lettuce and top with peanuts and carrots.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Maine Lobster Roll

My sister thought that a lobster would be a good stocking stuffer.  It was very funny to watch everyone's surprise when a live lobster was pulled out of a stocking.  Then we had to deal with the question of what to do with the lobster.  After considering many options, my sister decided to make a traditional Maine lobster roll.

My family is from Maine, which means that they know a lot about lobster rolls.  There are many ways to make a lobster roll, but this is one of the most simple, and the ingredients to not overwhelm the lobster.

Serves 1 - adjust amounts to serve additional people

You will need:
1.5 pound uncooked live Lobster
1/2 a Lemon
1/4 cup Mayonnaise
1/2 rib Celery, finely diced
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 teaspoon Butter
Hot Dog Bun

Step 1:
Boil the lobster.  Visit East Coast Gourmet for further instructions.  Pick the meat from the lobster.

Step 2:
Put the lobster meat in a bowl.  Add in 1/4 cup of mayonnaise, and the juice and zest of the half lemon.  Be careful not to add too much lemon juice because it will water down the mayonnaise.  Add in celery, salt and pepper to taste and mix.  Set aside.

Step 3:
Butter both sides of a hot dog bun and brown both sides in a skillet over medium heat.

Step 4:
Fill the hot dog bun with the lobster mixture and serve immediately.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Two Ingredient Queso

This might be the easiest recipe I ever post.  My sister thought it was too easy to even bother posting, but I think it is a great recipe for a last minute appetizer.

You will need:
1 can of Rotelle
1 block of Velveeta

Step 1:
Melt the velveeta in the microwave in a large bowl- stirring every minute or so.

Step 2:
Once the velveeta has melted, stir in the Rotelle.  Return to the microwave until the queso is hot.

Step 3:
Serve with tortilla chips.

A variation:
Add cooked crumbled sausage.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Beef Tenderloin with a Mushroom Red Wine Reduction Sauce

I am still in Maine celebrating the holidays, and I decided to take advantage of the opportunity for my Mom to share her recipes.  This recipe is what we had for Christmas dinner and it was very delicious.

You will need:
3 pounds center cut beef tenderloin
1 tablespoon koser salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
3 cloves pressed garlic
1 tablespoon tarragon
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoon butter

The sauce:
1 pound of mushrooms
1 small chopped white onion
2 tablespoons of olive oil
3 tablespoon of butter
1 1/2 cups red wine (we used Sryah)
1/2 cup cream (we used whipping cream)
1 tablespoon tarragon
salt and pepper to taste

Step 1:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Heat a large oven safe skillet over medium high heat.  Make a paste out of the salt, pepper, garlic, and tarragon and rub all over the meat.

Step 2:
Add the oil and butter to the skillet.  Add the beef and brown on all sides.

Step 3:
Place the skillet in the oven.  Roast until a meat thermometer reads 120 degrees for rare or 125 degrees for medium rare.  It takes about 25 minutes to cook the meat to rare, and 30 minutes to cook it to medium rare.

Step 4:
Transfer the roast to a cutting board, tent with aluminum foil, and let it rest for 10 minutes.

Step 5:
Once the roast is in the oven, begin making the sauce.  In a large skillet heat 2 tablespoons of butter and the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onion and saute until soft.  Add the mushrooms and brown on both sides.  Add the red wine and let it reduce for five minutes.  Then add 1 tablespoon butter, the cream and tarragon.  Keep warm until the roast is ready.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas Eve Crunchy Mac & Cheese

You will need:
1 pound of tubular pasta
5 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon powered (dry) mustard
3 cups milk
1 finely chopped yellow onion
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 large egg
1 pound sharp shedded cheddar
1 cup mascarpone
3 dashes of tabasco (or to taste)

For the topping:
6 tablespoons butter
2 cups panko

Step 1:
Boil the pasta, cooking according to the directions on the box.  Cook al dente because it will cook more when you bake it.

Step 2:
While the pasta is cooking, melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large pot.  Saute the onion until soft.  Add the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter, the flour and mustard.  Whisk together and cook down for 3 minutes.

Step 3:
Stir in the milk, bay leaf and paprika.  Simmer for 10 minutes and then remove the bay leaf.  Temper in the egg.  (Do this by adding a small amount of the hot liquid into a bowl with a stirred egg.  Then add the egg to the milk mixture.  If you do not temper the egg it will scramble.)  Then stir in 3/4 of the cheddar cheese, the mascarpone and the tabasco.  Season with salt and pepper.

Step 4:
Fold the pasta into the cheese sauce.  Mix together and then pour into a greased 2 quart casserole.  Top with the remaining cheese.  Then melt the remaining 6 tablespoons butter and mix in the panko.  Then spread the buttered panko over the top of the macaroni and cheese.

Step 5:
Bake for 30-40 minutes.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Asparagus Wrapped in Prosciutto and Boursin Cheese

This is a very easy to make appetizer.  My sister and Dad made theis for the party last night, but I have made them for Sunday Night Dinner in the past.

You will need:
Boursin Cheese (spread in a plastic tub)
Prosciutto or Roast Beef

Step 1:
Cook the asparagus.  Either grill, roast, or boil.  My Dad grilled the asparagus pictured.  Cook it al dente - you still want the asparagus to be crisp.

Step 2:
Slice the prosciutto or roast beef into strips to wrap around the asparagus.  Then spread the Boursin Cheese onto the meat.  My sister and Dad used prosciutto but we have used roast beef in the past.

Step 3:
Assemble by wrapping the cheese coated meat around the asparagus.

Bridal Barbie Martini Glass

My family had their annual Christmas Eve party last night.  All of our family friends come over - about 15 people in total.  This year I suggested adding a drinking vessel swap to the party.  Everyone had to bring a cup or something to drink out of to be exchanged.

We labeled each gift wrapped package with numbers, and then we had people pull numbers.  People got whichever gift matched their number - we needed to speed things up because no one could drink anything until they got their cup.  It went very well, and there were some hilarious contributions - someone brought a medical sample cup, while other ended up with cups far too big or too small.  My godmother, Susan, changed the rules a little because she made a special cup just for me and had to make sure that I received it.

Susan was the most enthusiastic about the cup exchange.  I sent an email out about 10 days ago announcing the exchange and she got right to work.  She made me a special bridal barbie martini glass (since I am getting married next summer and she is helping with the planning).  It is such a great idea - I am trying to convince her to get her own Etsy page to sell them!

From what I was told last night, the making of this glass was a family project.  It took 3 people to hold it together as Barbie was hot glued to the glass.  My godfather, Gordon, pointed out that they had to remove Barbie's shoes in order to successfully glue her feet to the glass.  The glass itself was covered with rhinestones and wedding cake stickers.

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Mashed Potatoes with Creme Fraiche and Colby

I had leftover potatoes and cheese in my fridge, so I decided to make mashed potatoes to go with the stuffed chicken breasts.

You will need:
4 Red Bliss Potatoes
1/4 cup Colby Cheese
2 tablespoons Creme Fraiche
2 tablespoons Chicken Broth
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon Pepper

Step 1:
Rise and chop the potato.  Place in a pot of water and heat over high heat until boiling.

Step 2:
Boil until the potato until soft (approximately 15 minutes).  Then drain.

Step 3:
Return the potatoes to the pot and add in the colby, creme fraiche, broth, salt and pepper.  Mix together with a fork.  Mash the potatoes with the fork until the potatoes reach the desire consistency, and serve.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Chicken Breasts Stuffed with Artichokes

With just 2 days left in Chicago before I head to Maine for Christmas, I am continuing my effort to clean out my fridge.  Tonight I decided to use up the creme fraiche, cheese, peppers, artichokes and potatoes in my fridge by making breaded chicken breasts stuffed with artichokes and cheese, and mashed potatoes.

The chicken recipe also inspired by my favorite omelet at Southport Grocery.  The omelet is stuffed with an artichoke dip mix that is blended with cream cheese.  I decided to stuff the chicken breast with a similar combination of ingredients.

You will need:
4 large Chicken Breasts
1/4 cup finely chopped canned Artichokes
1/4 cup finely chopped Red Pepper
1 cup Breadcrumbs, either Italian or Plain
1/2 cup of milk
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1/4 cup Cream Cheese
1 tablespoon Creme Fraiche
1 tablespoon Butter

Step 1:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Combine the artichokes, peppers, Parmesan, cream cheese and creme fraiche.

Step 2:
Rise and trim the chicken.  Then cut a large slit in the chicken.  Stuff the chicken with the filling.

Step 3:
Heat the butter in a skillet over medium heat.  Then coat the chicken in the breadcrumbs, dunk in the milk, and coat in the breadcrumbs again.

Step 4:
Place the chicken in the skillet and brown it on each side.

Step 5:
Once the chicken has browned place it in a baking dish and bake for 45 minutes, or until fully cooked.  The cook time will vary based on the size of the chicken breasts.

Thursday, December 22, 2011


My friends over at the lovely blog unapologeticallycute have nominated me for a Liebster Award.  I am so flattered!  I adore unapologeticallycute - the blog belongs to my co-worker Lexi and her roommate Lo.  They are two very crafty and creative girls and their blog has so many fun ideas.  Definitely check out their blog!  And thank you so much Lexi and Lo!

to accept the Liebster Blog Award nomination one must:
~ thank your Liebster Blog Award presenter on your blog.
~ link back to the blogger who awarded you.
~ copy & paste the blog award on your blog
~ reveal your 5 blog picks.
~ let them know you choose them by leaving a comment on their blog.

So now I need to reveal my five picks!
1.  saltandlove - A great food blog that belongs to a former co-worker.  The food photography is wonderful!
2.  cheesepleasebyjess - I love this blog because I love cheese.  This blog is a great source of inspiration for me.
3.  tofoodwithluv - Another one of my favorite food blogs.
4.  angryaussiefood - This blog belongs to my friend who travels frequently and shares his dining experiences with the world.
5.  wicked-delicious - I love the name of this blog just as much as the food!

Sirloin Tips

I hosted Sunday Night Dinner this week, and this recipe was a big hit when I made it last year so I decided to make it again.  This recipe was given to me by my mother who made this frequently when I was growing up.  I love this recipe because it is very delicious but also practical.  It tastes better when you make it the night before - and I like to make the meal the night before when I am hosting a larger group.  Another great thing about Sirloin Tips is that it will freeze very well.

My sister and I make this recipe frequently.  We live in cities and sometimes have trouble finding some of the ingredients because we go to smaller grocery stores.  We have found that you can use Tri Tips if you cannot find Sirloin Tips, and that beef broth can be used instead of beef consommé.  Feel free to add more of the vegetables if you have a favorite - I usually double the amount of mushrooms.

Serves: 6
Active Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 3 hours

2 tablespoons butter 
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds beef sirloin tips (or tri tips) cut into 1 inch cubes
2 peppers (red, green, orange or yellow) chopped, into 1/2 pieces (if you chop this too small the peppers will disappear into the sauce)
1 onion
1 cup sliced mushrooms
2 cloves garlic
1 can beef consommé, 10 oz (or beef broth)
1 cup red wine
2 tablespoons soy sauce
Flour for dredging, seasoned with salt and pepper
1 tablespoon dried tarragon 

Step 1:
Melt butter with olive oil in a large skillet and sauté the peppers.  When it starts to soften, add the onion, when soft, add the mushrooms and garlic.  Remove and reserve for later.  

Step 2:
Toss the meat in the seasoned flour.  In a large pot, brown the dredged meat in small batches adding more butter and oil if necessary.  

Step 3:
Once all the meat is browned return it all to the pot.  Stir in the consommé, wine and soy sauce.  Return the sauteed vegetables.  Add the tarragon and heat until boiling. 

Step 4:
Cover and reduce the heat so that the mixture simmers slowly for about 2-3 hours, or until the meat is tender.  If the sauce needs to be thickened, add a mixture of 2 tablespoons cornstarch that has been combined with ¼ cup of water.  Add, stir constantly until boiling and cook for 1 minute.  Serve over rice, mashed potatoes, or egg noodles. 

*** For best results – prepare the night before, and cook for only 1 hour.  Refrigerate overnight. The next day, spoon off any fat that has settled at the top.  Then simmer for 2 hours.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Recipes

With Christmas just around the corner, I thought I would organize some of my recipes to assist you with your holiday menu planning.  Happy Cooking!

Artichoke Dip
Goat Cheese and Marinara with Garlic Bread
Baked Jalapeno Poppers
Turkey Bacon Wrapped Dates with Goat Cheese

Pearl Onions
Holiday Mashed Potatoes
Reduced Fat Macaroni and Cheese

Main Course:
Chicken Piccata
Citrus Roast Chicken
Spaghetti alla Rustica
Acorn Squash Stuffed with Risotto

Cream Cheese Cookies
Pumpkin Pie

Bailey's Hot Chocolate

Christmas Breakfast:
Caprese Benedict
Mushroom Pepper Cheddar Strata
Eggs Baked in Turkey Bacon Cups

Chicken Sausage Gut Bombs

This is a healthier version of a meal my Dad makes.  He makes big Italian Sausages, puts them in a roll, and covers them with sauteed onions and peppers [correction - my Dad just let me know that he grills the veggies].  He calls them Gut Bombs.  Charles saw sausage at Trader Joe's and asked if we could have it for dinner.  We chose to have Chicken Sausage to keep things a little healthier.  We were actually at Trader Joe's to purchase ingredients for Sirloin Tips, a recipe that calls for sauteed onions, peppers, and mushrooms.  I was prepping the Sirloin Tips that night, so I just sauteed some extra veggies and set them aside for the sausages.  We served this on a Pretzel Roll.

You will need:
Chicken Sausage, and variety - we had Spicy and Spinach Fontana
1 Pepper
1 Onion
1/2 cup Mushrooms
Olive Oil

Step 1:
Saute the mushrooms, onion and pepper in olive oil until soft and slightly browned.

Step 2:
Cook the sausage either on a griddle or in a large skillet.  I sliced the sausage in half vertically and cooked each side until it was browned.

Step 3:
Assemble on a roll and enjoy.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Tuesday Tip: What to do when you get burnt

Last night I had a little cooking accident.  I was rushing while making the Chicken and Goat Cheese Mac and Cheese for Mac and Cheese Mondays and I splashed a significant amount of boiling water right onto my foot.  I thought I would share my experience with you because maybe someone will learn something from it, and because it is hilarious that I managed to burn my foot while cooking.

Important facts:
- You need to run the burned skin under cool or cold water immediately.
- If the skin is red, like a sunburn, but not blistered it is a first degree burn.
- If the skin is blistered, it is a second degree burn.
- Do not burst the blisters.
- Use clean gauze and burn ointment or neosporin to dress the burn.
- If you have a second degree burn, the blisters will probably burst at some point, if this happens make sure to keep the area clean - you will be prone to infection otherwise.
- Large second degree burns on your feet require medical attention.
- If you have a second degree burn make sure you are current on your tetanus shots.

Unfortunately I was two years overdue for my tetanus booster shot, so I decided to go to the ER.  My foot was also in so much pain that I felt the need to do something about it.  There wasn't too much that the doctors were able to do for me.  I did get my tetanus shot.  They explain how to bandage the wound.  They gave me lots of gauze and burn ointment.  They even gave me a prescription for a pain killer if it starts to hurt too much.  Unfortunately there is no magic cure that makes the burn better, they just take time to heal.

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional.  This information was learn by: 1. reading WebMD 2. Calling a burn hotline 3. Going to the ER.

Eggs Baked in Turkey Bacon Cups

I am trying to come up with fun new breakfast ideas.  This is a variation on eggs and bacon.  It required very little prep time and can easily be made to serve a crowd.  I am going to be making this on Christmas morning for my family.  Charles loved this as much as poached eggs so I am sure I will be making this frequently.  This recipe is also pretty healthy, turkey bacon only has 1.5 grams of fat per serving, and I only used about a teaspoon of cheese per egg cup.

Serves 3
Total time: 30 minutes

You will need:
1 package Turkey Bacon
6 Eggs
Shredded Cheddar Cheese
a cupcake tin

Step 1:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Place the turkey bacon in am ungreased cupcake tin.  Place a small piece of bacon in the bottom of the cupcake tin, and then wrap a slice around the sides.  Then bake for 10 minutes.

Step 2:
Crack an egg into each of the bacon cups.  Return to the oven for 20 minutes.

Step 3:
Top the egg with some shredded cheddar cheese, or a cheese of your choosing.  And return to the oven for 2 minutes or until the cheese melts.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Chicken and Goat Cheese Mac and Cheese

My friends are very enthusiastic about Mac and Cheese Monday and very kindly come over to help me eat it.  This week's Mac and Cheese is inspired by my attempt to empty my fridge before I head to Maine for Christmas.  I bought way too much goat cheese when I made the Turkey Bacon Wrapped Dates with Goat Cheese, and I baked far more chicken than I needed for the Cranberry Chicken Salad.  So I decided to use up all of these ingredients in a Mac and Cheese.

You will need:
3 cups of Pasta, I used Medium Shells
2 cups Milk, I used 1%
3 tablespoons Flour
1 cup Goat Cheese
1/4 cup Sharp Cheddar
1/4 cup Parmesan
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 cup cooked Chicken, diced

Step 1:
Cook the pasta according to the directions on the box.  Drain and set aside.

Step 2:
Pour the milk into a large pot and heat over medium heat.  Whisk in the flour and bring to a boil.  Let boil for 1 minute stirring constantly.

Step 3:
Add the goat cheese, cheddar, parmesan and salt.  Stir until melted.

Step 4:
Add the chicken and pasta to the sauce.  Stir together over medium heat for 2-3 minutes until the pasta and the chicken are hot.  Then serve.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Coming this week on TheKittchen

Hi Everyone!

Thanks to everyone who has given me so much support!  I love the positive feedback.  I have been cooking and blogging away over the weekend and wanted to let you know which recipes are headed your way.

Goat Cheese Mac and Cheese - for Mac & Cheese Mondays
Eggs Baked in Turkey Bacon Cups - a perfect Christmas morning breakfast
Sirloin Tips - a hearty meal that can be made ahead of time, and freezes very well
Chicken Sausage Gut Bombs - a quick and easy meal of sausage topped withe sauteed veggies

Happy Cooking!


Poached Eggs with an Artichoke Sauce

I know, I make poached eggs a lot.  I make them at least once over the weekend because they are Charles's favorite.  I also think that they are fun to make, and I like experimenting with different sauces to serve them with.  Usually the sauces are simply made out of whatever I find in my fridge.  We both really liked the artichokes in this dish, they went well with the sauce.

Serves 2
Total time: 15 minutes

You will need:
4 eggs
4 teaspoons pesto
1 tablespoon creme fraiche
1 tablespoon ricotta
1/4 cup Parmesan
1/2 can of artichokes, chopped
2 tablespoons White Vinegar

Step 1:
Add the pesto to a small saucepan and heat over medium heat.  Then add the creme fraiche, ricotta, and Parmesan.  Mix together and heat until the cheese has melted.  Then add the artichokes.

Step 2:
Poach the eggs.  Add 2 inches of water to a skillet, add 2 tablespoons of vinegar and bring to a slow boil.  Then crack an egg into a small bowl - make sure the yolk does not break.  Once the water has boiled, gently lower the egg into the water.  If the egg white spreads out too much you can pull it back together with a spoon.  Repeat putting up to 4 eggs in one pan.  After 2 minutes carefully make sure that the egg is not stuck to the bottom of the pan and roll the egg over.  Cook for 3-4 minutes total depending on how runny you like your eggs.

Step 3:
Remove the eggs from the water and top with the sauce.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Pasta with a Pesto Parmesan Sauce and Chicken

When you cook frequently, you end up with lots of leftover ingredients.  This meal was a combination of many items leftover from other recipes.  I made far too much chicken for the chicken salad so I decided to make a pasta and add it in.  This was a very quick and easy weeknight meal.  If you do not have cooked chicken breasts on hand, you could add vegetables instead.  Artichokes and mushrooms would be very good in this sauce.

Serves 4
Total time: 15 minutes

You will need:
2 large chicken breasts, diced See Quick and Easy Baked Chicken
2 1/2 cups pasta
4 tablespoons pesto
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
1/2 cup Parmesan
4 tablespoons Ricotta

Step 1:
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add the pasta and cook according to the directions.

Step 2:
While the pasta is cooking, heat the pesto in a saucepan over medium heat.  Once the pesto is hot, add the flour of stir together.  Mix in the milk and bring to a slow boil.  Let it bubble for a minute stirring constantly.  Then add in the Parmesan and Ricotta.

Step 3:
Once the Parmesan and Ricotta are incorporated into the sauce add the chicken.

Step 4:
Drain the pasta and then add it to the sauce.  Mix together and serve.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Cranberry Chicken Salad

My team at work decided to have a pre-Christmas pot luck, and chose to bring Cranberry Chicken Salad.  This is a recipe that I learned while working at a restaurant.  It is healthier than most chicken salad recipes because I use low fat mayonnaise mixed with cranberry sauce as the dressing - instead of just mayonnaise like most other chicken salads.

This recipe calls of diced baked chicken.  Here is a link to Quick and Easy Baked Chicken which is what I always use to make this.

You will need:
3 baked chicken breasts, diced
1 cup low fat mayonnaise
1/2 cup cranberry sauce
2/3 cup celery
2/3 cup cashews (halves and pieces)
salt and pepper to taste

Step 1:
Mix the mayonnaise and the cranberry sauce together.

Step 2:
Add the chicken, celery and cashews and mix together.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Step 3:
Serve either on bread or on a bed of lettuce.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Chicken Tortilla Soup

This is Charles's favorite soup.  I started making it a few years ago, and I make a couple big batches a year.  I took the leftover chicken from the Citrus Roast Chicken and added it to the soup.  I then took the bones and made a homemade stock.  When I made the stock I left the garlic, orange, and lemon in the cavity of the bird.  It adds flavor to the stock.  This soup could be made with vegetable broth and without chicken for vegetarians.

As I mentioned before, I make big batches of this soup.  Feel free to cut this recipe in half if you do not have a large stockpot.

This makes about 12 servings.

You will need:
8 cups stock
2 cups diced cooked chicken
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 chopped red pepper
1 chopped green pepper
1 finely chopped jalapeño pepper
1 chopped onion
2/3 cup chopped celery
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can of chick peas
1 can of black beans
1 can of corn
1 bag of tortilla chips
3 cloves crushed garlic
jack or cheddar cheese
red pepper flakes

* You can add more of what you like, take out things you don't like, or add other vegetables.

Step 1:
In a large soup pot saute the garlic in the olive oil.  Then add in the tomatos and onions and cook until the onions are soft and the tomatoes have lost some moisture.  Then add in the peppers and saute for 2-3 minutes. Then add the celery, corn and beans.

Step 2:
Add the stock and bring to a slow boil.  Add the chicken.  Then crush up some of the tortilla chips, this will thicken the soup.  I like thick soup so I add several handfulls.

Step 3:
Simmer for 30 minutes.  Add salt, pepper, and/or red pepper flakes to taste.

Step 4:
Serve with stredded jack or cheddar cheese and tortilla chips.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Cream Cheese Cookies

This is a recipe my family makes every Christmas.  I make a variety of cookies at Christmastime and these are always the most popular.  Cream cheese makes everything taste better, doesn't it?  These cookies are much faster to make than sugar cookies because you use a cookie press to shape the cookies instead of rolling out the dough and using cookie cutters. A cookie press is only about $20 and definitely worth the investment.

You will need:
1/2 lb butter (2 sticks)
3 oz. cream cheese
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups flour
1 tsp vanilla

Step 1:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Then mix the butter and cream cheese with a mixer. Using dough hooks is recommended. Add the sugar and vanilla. Slowly add the flour.

Step 2:
Add in food coloring if you like.  I add green food coloring and then use the cookie press to make Christmas tree cookies.

Step 3:
Then use a cookie press to form the cookies.  Sometimes if the dough is too warm the cookie press doesn't work.  So put the dough in the fridge for about 5 minutes.  Also, if the cookie sheet just came out of the oven, let it cool for a couple minutes because the cookie press doesn't work well if the cookie sheet is really hot.  Let the cookies cool down on the sheet for a minute before removing them, less will break this way.

The recipe says to use a greased baking sheet, but I used an ungreased non-stick and it worked great.
Keep a close eye on the cookies, they will bake in 4-6 minutes.

1/3 cup butter (at room temperature)
3 cups powered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon (or more) milk
Use more milk for a smoother consistency.
** You will only need a half batch of this frosting for 1 batch of the cookies
I also use this frosting for sugar cookies.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Tuesday Tip: Oven Hot Spots

It is time to make Christmas cookies!  Always watch your first batch carefully, especially if you are using an oven that is new to you.  Most ovens have hot spots.  For example, the cookies on the far left side of my oven always cook the fastest.  The first time I made cookies at my apartment I definitely burnt a few.

Turkey Bacon Wrapped Dates with Goat Cheese

This is another recipe inspired by the Chicago restaurant Cafe Ba Ba Reba.  I have this theory that when you combine bacon and cheese you really can't go wrong.  I made this healthier by using turkey bacon, and the result was just as tasty.

This is the last recipe involving Turkey Bacon - sorry it look me a while to use it all up!  It is really good, and low fat.

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes

You will need:
1 package Turkey Bacon
4 ounces Goat Cheese
2 cups Pitted Dates

Step 1:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Then individually slice open the dates and fill them with goat cheese.

Step 2:
Slice the strips of turkey bacon in half.  Then wrap the bacon around the date.  Secure with a toothpick.

Step 3:
Repeat until all of the dates and stuffed with goat cheese and wrapped in bacon.  Then place on a baking sheet and cook for 40 minutes.  The bacon should be nice and crisp.

Step 4:
Remove from the oven.  Place the bacon wrapped dates on a paper towel to absorb any grease before serving.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Macaroni and Cheese Pizza

Some things sound crazy until you try it.  For example, putting Macaroni and Cheese on a Pizza sounds nuts, until you taste it and realize it takes like delicious baked Macaroni and Cheese.  Ian's Pizza in Chicago has perfected, and I think invented, this delicious treat.  The problem is that I live outside the delivery zone, and I am not in that area very often.  The obvious solution is to learn how to make Macaroni and Cheese Pizza!

My friends requested that I try to recreate the pizza to the best of my ability, which means that this is one of the not-so-healthy recipes on the blog.  Sorry!  It is worth the calories, I promise.

You will need:
1 Fresh Ball of Pizza Dough (from Whole Foods or Trader Joe's)
1/2 cup Creme Faiche
3/4 cup Cheddar Cheese
3/4 cup Mozzarella
1 cup Tubular Pasta
Salt and Pepper
Optional: Crispy Turkey Bacon

Step 1:
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Then cook the pasta according to the directions on the box.  Drain.

Step 2:
Spray a cooking sheet with non-stick spray, sprinkle with flour and then rollout/stretch out the dough. 

Step 3:
Spread a thin layer of Creme Faiche over the dough.  Then add the pasta, and top with the mozzarella and cheddar cheese.

Step 4:
Bake for 20 minutes.  Broil for 2 minutes to brown and remove from oven.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and enjoy!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Poached Eggs with Parmesan Pesto Sauce and Turkey Bacon

This breakfast might look fancy, but I promise you that showering, changing, and walking to brunch would have required more effort.  Poached eggs are simple to make, and if you have some cheese and pesto you can easily throw together a delicious sauce.  Perhaps the best part is that I only spent 15 minutes making this and I didn't even have to change out of my pajamas.

If you do not know how to poach an egg, I am re-posting a video with step by step instructions below the recipe.

Cook time: 15 minutes
Serves: 2

You will need:
2 tablespoons Pesto (I use low fat)
1 teaspoon Flour
1/2 cup Milk
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
2 tablespoons Ricotta
4 Eggs
2 tablespoons White Vinegar
4 slices Turkey Bacon
Tomato, thickly slices

Step 1:
Cook the turkey bacon until crispy, using either a skillet or a griddle.  Turkey bacon takes longer to cook than regular bacon, but it is a very tasty low fat substitute for normal bacon.  It look about 10 minutes for my bacon to crisp up.

Step 2:
While the bacon is cooking, make the sauce.  Using a small saucepan or a small skillet heat the pesto over medium heat.  Then stir in the flour.  Add and milk and heat until it bubbles and thickens.  It should thicken after about a minute of boiling.  Then add the ricotta and parmesan.  Keep on the heat and stir until the cheese is melted into the sauce.

Step 3:
Poach the eggs.  Add 2 inches of water to a skillet, add 2 tablespoons of vinegar and bring to a slow boil.  Then crack an egg into a small bowl - make sure the yolk does not break.  Once the water has boiled, gently lower the egg into the water.  If the egg white spreads out too much you can pull it back together with a spoon.  Repeat putting up to 4 eggs in one pan.  After 2 minutes carefully make sure that the egg is not stuck to the bottom of the pan and roll the egg over.  Cook for 3-4 minutes total depending on how runny you like your eggs.

Step 4:
Assemble.  Stack the bacon on top of the tomato.  Then place the poached egg on top, and spoon the sauce over.  

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Red Bliss Mashed Potatoes

Mashed Potatoes are the perfect side for steak.  My holiday mashed potato recipe is a huge hit, but it isn't very healthy, so when it isn't a special occassion I use another recipe.  These potatoes are very easy to make and are still good enough to eat without gravy.

You will need:
5 medium Red Bliss Potatoes, chopped
1/4 cup Cheese - I used a reduced fat blend of chedder, monteray jack and mozzarella
2 tablespoons Slim Milk
2 teaspoons salt
pepper to taste
1/2 cup Fat Free Sour Cream
1 tablespoon butter

Step 1:
Rise and chop the potatoes.  Then place in a pot of water and bring to a boil.  Bowl for about 15 minutes, until the potatoes are soft.

Step 2:
Drain the potatoes.  Then add the butter and cheese.  I always add the ingredients that need to melt first - before I add any other cold ingredients.  Stir a little to get the cheese and butter to melt.  Then add the salt, pepper, milk and sour cream.  Mix with either a fork (if you like them a little chunky), or an electric mixer (if you prefer them smooth).

Friday, December 9, 2011

Steak with a Red Wine Reduction and Mushrooms

This a simple steak recipe.  I do not have a grill so I sear the steak in a pan and then put it under the broiler.  Overall this only takes about 15-20 minutes to make.

You will need:
Steak (I used Sirloin)
2 tablespoons Butter
1/2 cup Red Wine
1/4 cup Beef Broth
Salt and pepper

Step 1:
Generously salt and pepper your steak.

Step 2:
Turn your oven on to broil. Then heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in a frying pan over high heat. Once the pan is hot add the steak. Sear each side for about 2-3 minutes. Then put the steak on a baking sheet and into the oven. Cook for 5-15 minutes more depending on how well done you like your steak and how thick your steak is.

Step 3:
Add the butter to the same pan you used to sear the steak.  Then add the mushrooms and saute until browned.  Then add the wine and broth to the mushrooms.  Keep over medium to high heat so that the sauce bubbles steadily and reduces.

Step 4:
Once the steak is cooked remove it from the oven and let it sit for 2 minutes.  This will lock the juices into the steak.  Pour the sauce and mushrooms over the steak and enjoy!

Coming Soon on TheKittchen

Here are a few recipes that I am working on posting:

Steak with Red Wine Reduction and Mushrooms - will be up tonight
Low Fat Mashed Potatoes
Tortilla Soup
Bacon Wrapped Dates with Goat Cheese
Macaroni and Cheese Pizza (inspired by Ian's Pizza)
Cream Cheese Cookies

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Parmesan and Bacon Risotto

Charles took his last final exam of the semester on Tuesday and I told him I would cook whatever he wanted for dinner on Wednesday to celebrate. We try to eat healthy low fat meals most nights, but sometimes you have to splurge. So I just went for it and cooked exactly what Charles requested: Risotto with Parmesan, Bacon, Mushrooms and Peas.  I promise that I will come up with a healthier risotto recipe in the near future.

I had never made risotto from scratch before, and it was much easier than I expected.  The one thing I would do differently is that I would use a non-stick pan because the risotto did stick to the bottom of the pan a little.  The risotto was creamy and cheesy, and the crisp bacon on top was a very nice contrast.  Be careful not to set your smoke detector off while crisping up the bacon!  I set our alarm off, marking the second time I have set the alarm off this year.  Fortunately Charles was home; I am too short to reach the alarm to turn it off.

Total time: 45 minutes
Serves: 4-6

You will need:
2 cups Arborio Rice
7 slices of bacon diced (divided - set 2 of the slices aside)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1/4 cup Peas
1/2 cup Mushrooms
1/4 cup White Wine
2 teaspoons Butter
1 large carton of Chicken Broth

Step 1:
Place 5 diced slices of bacon into a large pot over medium heat.  Heat for 2-3 minutes to render the fat from the bacon.  Once the fat melts add the rice and stir.  If there is not enough moisture and the risotto sticks to the bottom of the pan add a little olive oil to coat the rice.

Step 2:
Pour chicken broth over the rice and stir.  Pour just enough to completely submerge the rice.  Bring to a boil.  Keep the risotto over medium heat, you want the broth to be bubbling steadily.

Step 3:
Once the risotto has absorbed the broth (it takes about 10 minutes), add more broth.  As in Step 2, add just enough broth so that the rice is completely submerged.  Stir to make sure that no rice sticks to the bottom of the pan.

Step 4:
Repeat Step 3

Step 5:
Saute the mushrooms in the butter and white wine.

Step 6:
Once the risotto has absorbed the third addition of broth, add more broth until the rice is submerged.  Also add the sauteed mushrooms and the peas.  Stir.

Step 7:
Cook 2 diced slices of bacon until crispy.

Step 8:
Once the risotto has absorbed the broth the fourth time, add the Parmesan and stir.  Remove from heat and serve with a sprinkle of Parmesan and a bit of the crispy bacon.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Quick and Easy Baked Chicken

This is a recipe (if you can even call it a recipe it is so simple) that I picked up while working at a restaurant 7 years ago.  It is extremely easy and can be used in many recipes.  At the restaurant we would dice up this chicken and make chicken salad.  Recently I made it because I needed more chicken to add to my chicken soup.  Sometimes I make a bunch of this on a Sunday and dice it up and add it to spinach salads for lunch throughout the week.

This chicken is very moist because it is cooked with wine at a lower temperature.  It is also very healthy since I only use about a tablespoon of olive oil per pound of chicken.

You will need:
Chicken Breasts
White Wine
Olive Olive
Salt and Pepper

Step 1:
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.  Rise the chicken in cold water and then trim any fat off the chicken.  Make sure the chicken breasts are similar sizes so they will cook at the same rate.

Step 2:
Place the chicken on a baking sheet.  Drizzle (or brush) a small amount of olive oil over the chicken.  Then sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Then pour white wine onto the baking sheet.  Pour enough wine so that the entire bottom of the pan is covered.

Step 3:
Bake for 20-30 minutes.  The cook time will depend on how thick the chicken breasts are.  When I made this on Sunday the chicken breasts I used were of a medium size and thickness and took 20 minutes to bake.  Be sure to bake the chicken until there is no pink in the center.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Baked Jalapeño Poppers

Over the weekend I made tortilla soup (the recipe will be posted soon) which calls for a jalapeño pepper. Trader Joe's was only selling jalapeños in 8 ounce packages, which was far more than I needed. The package of jalapeños was less than $2, so I purchased it anyway thinking that finding a way to use the extra would be a fun challenge.

The first thing that came to my mind was jalapeño poppers. Probably because there aren't many recipes that call for that many jalapeños. Being a fan of jalapeño poppers I decided to give it a whirl (can you tell I watched Home Alone last night?). The combination of baking instead of frying and low fat cheeses make my version healthier than the original. While this is a pretty easy recipe, cutting the jalapeños does take about 30 minutes.  From start to finish these took about 1 hour and 15 minutes to prepare, including the bake time. These were a big hit, Charles said that he likes this version as much as the fried poppers.

You will need:
12 jalapeños peppers, sliced in half, stems, seeds, and membranes removed (read the previous post for a tip on chopping peppers)
1/2 cup 1/3 fat cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup grated low fat cheese (I used a cheddar, mozzarella, and monterey jack blend from Trader Joe's)
2 eggs
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup flour
2/3 cup plain bread crumbs

Step 1:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Then mix the cream cheese and the cheese together.

Step 2:
Scoop the cheese mixture into the jalapeños.

Step 3:
Get 3 bowls.  Put the flour in one bowl, the bread crumbs in another, and beat the eggs, salt, and milk together in the third.

Step 4:
Individually take each jalapeño and dredge it in the flour, egg, and then bread crumbs.  Then place filling side up on a baking sheet.

Step 5:
Bake for 30 minutes.  Then broil for 2 minutes to brown the top of the poppers.

Tuesday Tip: Chopping Peppers

I am kicking off Tuesday Tips to share quick and useful tips with everyone.

When you are chopping hot peppers, like jalapenos, your skin can absorb the spice.  I learned this the hard way a couple years ago when I touched my lips after chopping.  They felt like they were on fire.  There is an easy way to avoid this - put your hand in a plastic bag before you start chopping.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Low Fat Baked Macaroni and Cheese

It took a couple tries to come up with this recipe.  I did try using only low fat cheeses, but felt that the result lacked flavor.  I settled on combining low fat cheese with normal cheddar.  I do think that using a high quality cheddar does make a difference.  Personally I like Black Diamond Cheddar and Tillamook Cheddar.

This recipe has 9.4 grams of fat per serving, with the optional crumb topping.  Without the crumb topping this recipe has 7.2 grams of fat per serving.

Classic Macaroni and Cheese
Serves 8
1 pound tubular pasta
3 cups 2% milk
1/2 cup flour
1 cup low fat cheese (I used a low fat blend of cheddar, mozzarella, and monterey jack)
3 ounces sharp cheddar (I used black diamond)
1 tablespoon salt

Optional Topping
20 reduced fat Ritz crackers - crushed into crumbs
1/2 cup low fat cheese (I used a low fat blend of cheddar, mozzarella, and monterey jack)

Step 1:
Bring a large pot of water to boil.  Once it reaches a boil add 1 pound of pasta and cook according to the directions on the box.

Step 2:
In a large pot over medium heat whisk together the milk and flour.  Bring to a boil.  Allow the mixture to boil, stirring constantly for 1 minute.

Step 3:
Add the cheese and salt and stir until they are completely incorporated.

Step 4:
Drain the pasta and add it into the cheese sauce.  Stir.  You can either enjoy this as is, or continue to Step 5 and bake the Macaroni and Cheese.

Optional Step 5:
Pour the Macaroni and Cheese into a casserole dish (that has been sprayed with non-stick spray).  Then mix together the cracker crumbs and the 1/2 cup of cheese.  Spread on top of the Macaroni and Cheese.  Put in the oven at 400 degrees.  Bake for about 15 minutes until the topping browns.

Mac and Cheese Mondays!

When I asked my friends for inspiration, my friend Wolf requested a healthier Macaroni and Cheese Recipe.  Then in discussing this with more friends, they came up with several more Mac and Cheese related suggestions.  At first I thought I would have a Mac and Cheese week on Kittchen.  I quickly realized that was a bad idea because I do not want to eat Mac and Cheese for a week straight.  In case you were wondering, this blog usually reflects what I have eatten that day - I do not have a reserve of recipes and photos.  After thinking this Mac and Cheese idea out, I have decided to create Mac and Cheese Mondays.  For the next several Mondays I will be posting recipes relating to America's best comfort food.  Here is a list of some of the variations on the dish I will be making and posting.  Any suggestions are welcome!
Classic Cheddar Mac and Cheese
Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese
Italian Mac and Cheese
Chicken and Broccoli Mac and Cheese
Mac and Cheese Pizza (inspired by Ian's Pizza in Chicago)
Spicy Mac and Cheese (inspired by Dinosaur BBQ in New York)
Spinach and Artichoke Mac and Cheese
Bacon Mac and Cheese
Mac and Cheese Bites

The first step in this Mac and Cheese madness is to determine what a "healthier" Mac and Cheese is.  In order to determine how much fat is in traditional Mac and Cheese I turned to Betty Crocker.  Betty's recipe has a whopping 34 grams of fat per serving.  My goal is to cut the amount of fat in half in my recipes.  In some cases that may not be possible, but I will do my best.

Gift Ideas For The Chef In Your Life

Christmas is just a few weeks away, so I thought I would pull together a list of some of my favorite kitchen products.  The products that made the list are all affordable, costing between $15 and $100.  These items are also practical, most will cut down on preparation times.

1.  Chopper - $29.95
I use this to chop vegetables for soup.  It saves me a significant amount of time.  Everyone should have one of these.
EPU Switzerland Alligator Dicer

2.  Cheese Grater - $14.95
Freshly grated cheese tastes better.  This saves you time, and it is safer to use than other graters.
OXO Good Grips Seal and Store Rotary Cheese Grater,

3. Non Stick Rolling Pin - $26.99
This is a must have for anyone who likes to bake sugar cookies.
OXO Good Grips Rolling Pin

4.  Hand Held Mixer - $39.95
It doesn't require much storage space and it gets the job done just as well as expensive mixers.
Cuisinart 5-speed Power Advantage Hand Mixer, White

5.  Espresso Machine - $99.95
I bought this for Charles last year.  It is affordable and easy to use. 
DeLonghi 34-oz. Espresso Machine, Black & Stainless Steel

6.  A Casserole Dish with a Lid - $49.95
I use mine all the time.
BonJour 3.5-qt. Stoneware Casserole, Rouge

7.  Punch Bowl/Cake Stand - $30
One product with two uses.  Perfect for city dwellers with limited kitchen space.
Available at Williams-Sonoma

8.  Picnic Basket - $76.95
It is a must for anyone to loves Movies in the Park as much as I do.  The built in cooler is a nice touch.
Picnic Plus 18x1210-in. Sebago Picnic Basket for Two

9. Crock Pot - $46.95
Crock pots are great because you can do the prep work the night before, and in the morning set it. When you come home dinner is ready.
Rival 6.5-qt. Crock-Pot with Bonus Little Dipper, Chrome

10. Mixing Bowl - $19.95
I just purchased this and I love that it has a spout and a handle - perfect for pouring cupcakes.
Reco 1.5-qt. Batter Bowl, Cobalt