Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Stuffed Onions

Tonight's dinner was not a fast one, but it was really delicious. I will definitely make this again, but next time I will make sure that I have enough time. We had a late afternoon snowstorm that snarled traffic and made my commute lengthen from 10 minutes to 35 (it took Phillip an hour and fifteen minutes!). This recipe should really take almost two hours from start to finish, but since I was in a hurry, I didn't let them bake as long as was called for, and while they were good, I could tell that they would be much better if they were caramelized a little more. This is a recipe from The Pioneer Woman, and if you haven't read her blog yet, stop what you're doing and go read it now! Her love story puts me to tears almost every time she posts an update.


6 onions
handful of mushrooms
1 garlic clove
7 oz ground beef (I used pork sausage, because that's what we had thawed)
stale white bread
1 tbsp sweet chili sauce
1/3 cup grated cheese (I used sharp cheddar)
4 cups chicken broth
flat parsley
1 tsp salt


Preheat your oven to 400F.

Season the meat with 1 tsp salt, a good pinch of black pepper, some freshly grated nutmeg and 1 heaping tbsp sweet chili sauce. Knead it well.

To prepare the onion - just cut off the top, peel the onion and cut a small slice off the bottom so the onions won’t tumble over. Grab a spoon, stick it between two layers of onion, really dig it in there and just follow the curves with your spoon. That way you’ll loosen the layers a bit making it easier to scoop them out. You can also use a small knife or even an apple corer, this just seems to work best for me. Just make sure you’re left with at least 1/3 inch of onion layer.

Give the onion you just scooped out a rough chop. We’ll use about 1/3 to 1/2 of it, depending on how much you like onions. Wash a handful of mushrooms. Remove the stem, thinly slice them and cut the slices in half. Grate a medium-sized garlic clove and crumble up any stale white bread - buns or sliced bread. Chop a good handful of flat-leaved parsley.

Put your meat in a skillet and cook until brown. Drain the fat—yes, drain all of it! Not because I’m a health nut, but because the meat is part of your stuffing.

Add the onions to the same pan you cooked your meat in. After about 4 minutes you can add your garlic and mushrooms. Cook until the mushrooms lose their whiteness. Now simply add a good handful of chopped parsley, put the meat back in and sprinkle the breadcrumbs and cheese in as well. Stir to combine.

Spoon the meat mix into the prepared onions, place in a shallow baking dish. Pour in chicken stock until the onions are 1/3 to 1/2 covered. Loosely cover the tin with aluminum foil and pop in a preheated oven for about 1 hour.

Lower your oven to 350F (175C), take the onions out, drizzle a little broth all over them, spoon out a little of the chicken broth (if it hasn’t vaporized by now) and put it back in the oven, uncovered, for about 20 to 30 minutes. Until the onion and topping is golden brown.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Easy Sticky Buns

Barefoot bloggers time again! This time, the recipe was chosen by Melissa of Made by Melissa, and it is a keeper! This recipe will stay in my file of easy, decadent breakfasts. I can actually keep all of the ingredients on hand at all times, and whip these up in less than a half hour from start to finish. The original recipe called for a little more butter and raisins, but I did a little altering to suit our tastes (Phillip isn't a big raisin fan, and we're still trying to watch our waistlines). I'm going to take these into school in the morning (I've been getting some complaints about my lack of food sharing recently), but I snuck one before bed, and they were scrumptious!

1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 package (17.3 ounces/2 sheets) frozen puff pastry, defrosted
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place a 12-cup standard muffin tin on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the 1 stick of butter and 1/3 cup brown sugar. Evenly distribute the mixture into each of the 12 muffin cups. Distribute the pecans evenly among the 12 muffin cups on top of the butter and sugar mixture.

Lightly flour a wooden board or stone surface. Unfold one sheet of puff pastry with the folds going left to right. Brush the whole sheet with half of the melted butter. Leaving a 1-inch border on the puff pastry, sprinkle each sheet with 1/3 cup of the brown sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons of the cinnamon, and 1/4 cup of the pecans. Starting with the end nearest you, roll the pastry up snugly like a jelly roll around the filling, finishing the roll with the seam side down.Trim the ends of the roll about 1/2 inch and discard. Slice the roll in 6 equal pieces, each about 1 1/2 inches wide. Place each piece, spiral side up, in 6 of the muffin cups. Repeat with the second sheet of puff pastry to make 12 sticky buns.

Bake for 17 minutes, until the sticky buns are golden to dark brown on top and firm to the touch. Allow to cool for 5 minutes only, invert the buns onto the parchment paper (ease the filling and pecans out onto the buns with a spoon), and cool completely.

Adapted from: Ina Garten, Back to Basics, page 240

Friday, January 23, 2009

Harp's Birthday Cake

This is a sneak peek of the birthday party that I'm helping my wedding photographer throw for her son tomorrow. I'll have more pictures to show you tomorrow evening. Of course, I am my mother's daughter, so I automatically worried that I didn't have enough cake. So... I made another, just in case.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Spaghetti & Meatballs

Phillip made these meatballs for me once, and they turned out so good that I thought I would try to make them for him. Sadly to say, he did a better job than I did! They were still really good, mine just fell apart more than his did. I used perciatelli pasta instead of spaghetti, and it worked really well. It is a thicker noodle with a hole in the middle to soak up the sauce. Next time I will form the meatballs more firmly and be more careful when turning them.


1 pound ground pork
1 pound ground beef
1 1/4 cup seasoned dry bread crumbs
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 extra-large egg, beaten
Vegetable oil
Olive oil


Place the ground meats, bread crumbs, parsley, Parmesan, salt, pepper, nutmeg, egg, and 3/4 cup warm water in a bowl. Combine very lightly with a fork. Using your hands, lightly form the mixture into 2-inch meatballs. You will have 14 to 16 meatballs.

Pour equal amounts of vegetable oil and olive oil into a large (12-inch) skillet to a depth of 1/4-inch. Heat the oil. Very carefully, in batches, place the meatballs in the oil and brown them well on all sides over medium-low heat, turning carefully with a spatula or a fork. This should take about 10 minutes for each batch. Don’t crowd the meatballs. Remove the meatballs to a plate covered with paper towels.

Serve with pasta and tomato sauce.

Adapted from: Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa Family Style, page 103-104

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Tiramisu Cupcakes

I made this cupcakes tonight for my dad's office party that's coming up on Saturday. They are supposed to be tiramisu flavored, but Phillip & I both think that the coffee flavor was way too mild. They kind of taste like french vanilla cupcakes with mild mocha filling. The next time I make them, if I get the coffee/vanilla ratio right, I'll post the recipe.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Laughing Cow Chicken

While Phillip & I were on our pre-Mexico diet (we're still on it, just on a smaller scale), I scoured all of the food blogs that I read for some healthy recipes. When I found this, I scored the healthy weeknight meal jackpot! It is so fast and easy that I make it almost every week. The star of this recipe is the Laughing Cow brand Light Cheese Wedges. I use the garlic & herb flavor, but you can use any flavor that you find. You can normally find the cheese in the specialty cheese case by the deli (I've beed told it can't be found in Rushville, you can also use any light cheese spread).


4 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
4 Laughing Cow Light Cheese Wedges
Cooking spray
1/2 cup Breadcrumbs
dash of dried Parsley Flakes
dash of grated Parmesean Cheese


Preheat oven to 400F.

Lay each chicken breast flat on a cutting board. Cut a horizontal slice to create a pocket in the side of the chicken breast. Stuff the pocket with the cheese, don't skimp, it's good! Pat the chicken breasts dry with paper towel, and spray with cooking spray. Combine the breadcrumbs, parsley and parmesean, and sprinkle over both sides of the chicken breast. Bake on a cookie sheet for 15-20 minutes, until done.

Serves: 4

Adapted from Macaroni and Cheesecake

Sauteed Zucchini & Yellow Squash

This is one of Phillip & my favorite side dishes, we always seem to fall back on it. It's really simple, but it can sometimes take a little longer that it seems like it should. It pairs very well with Italian and with the classic steak dinner (Phillip's favorite). The zucchini & squash can be cut many different ways, which can change the texture of the dish tremendously. Today I sliced it into 1/4 inch slices, which works well for company (and pictures), because it turns out much prettier. If you're in a hurry, you can slice it thinner or even peel it into strips with a vegetable peeler, which makes a nice "veggie pasta."


2 medium Zucchini, sliced as desired
2 medium Yellow Squash, sliced as desired
1 small Onion, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp Butter
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper


Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add butter and olive oil, and heat until butter melts and turns bubbly. Add zucchini, squash, and onion. Spread veggies out evenly, without turning too much (this will prevent them from browning). Cook on medium high until soft and browned. Salt and pepper to taste.

Serves: 3-4

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Banana Sour Cream Pancakes

Another Barefoot Bloggers post! This one's a little late, because we just got back from a 10 day trip to Mexico. This weeks post was chosen by Karen from Something Sweet by Karen, and it was a perfect quick dinner for Phillip & I tonight. Breakfast for dinner, don't you love it?! These pancakes were of the thick and soft variety, which is different than my normal thinner, crispy hotcakes. Phillip loved how the bananas caramelized on the bottom of the pancakes. Next time I make them, I might add some walnuts in for a little crunch, yum!


1 1/2 cups flour
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 cup sour cream
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon milk
2 extra-large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
Unsalted butter
2 ripe bananas, diced, plus extra for serving
Pure maple syrup


Sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the sour cream, milk, eggs, vanilla, and lemon zest. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ones, mixing only until combined.

Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat until it bubbles. Ladle the pancake batter into the pan to make 3 or 4 pancakes. Distribute a rounded tablespoon of bananas on each pancake. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until bubbles appear on top and the underside is nicely browned. Flip the pancakes and then cook for another minute until browned.

Wipe out the pan with a paper towel, add more butter to the pan, and continue cooking pancakes until all the batter is used. Serve with sliced bananas, butter and maple syrup.