Saturday, February 27, 2010

Sarah: Iron Chef Blogger Challenge Spaghetti Squash

So, I've never made spaghetti squash before. Ok, lets be real, I've never made any kind of squash before. Beginners Tip: I was very surprised at how much spaghetti came out of the squash, so buy a small one.

Turns out it is super easy. 400 degrees for an hour, cut it open and scoop.

I really just threw a whole lot of spices on this. Made some rice pilaf from a bag, broiled some asparagus.

Upon finishing cooking this I realized that it was completely vegan, which I thought was pretty cool.

Tasted completely vegan. I'm sure that this could have been great with a sauce, and plan to cook it again sometime soon.

Cake Balls!

Box of cake, made as per box (I used Strawberry cake)
Container vanilla icing
1 bag white chocolate chips

1. Bake cake as per box, let cool completely.

2. Crumble cake in a large bowl. Mix with container of icing.

3. Roll cake/icing mixture into 1 1/2 inch balls. Pop them in the freezer for about an hour so that they stick together a little better.

4. Melt chocolate in microwave. Roll balls in melted chocolate. Set in a glass pan and put them in the fridge.


When I found this recipe online, it called for Red Velvet cake. While I am sure that Red Velvet cake is very lovely, I love pink cake. Megan and I used to make pink cupcakes in college, and eating any form of pink cake makes me the happiest girl on the block.

As you can guess, these are just about the best dessert ever. And they're super easy to make.

I'd say you can use any kind of cake you want. Use your favorite. Roll it in whatever chocolate you love the most.

Try to only eat one ball at a time.

Buffalo Chicken Dip

24 oz cream cheese
1 lg can of chicken
1 cup Franks hot sauce (must be Franks)
1/2 c Ranch or Blue Cheese dressing
1 bag of shredded cheddar cheese

1. Combine cream cheese and chicken in a bowl. Heat in microwave and mix till combined.

2. Add hot sauce and cheese. Mix. Heat in microwave till cheese is melted.

3. Add dressing.


The first time I had this dip I almost died from it's pure deliciousness. There are very very few things I like more than buffalo chicken, and this dip allows me to scoop buffalo chicken with tortilla chips. Best thing ever.

I made this for the Super Bowl party that I went to, and it was a big hit.

Turns out I'm not the only person that likes the idea of buffalo chicken on a chip.

Recipe from a friend.

Sarah: Iron Chef Blogger Challenge Alcohol

1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 cup vodka
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 box Whole Wheat pasta (really doesn’t matter what shape)
1/2 cup heavy cream
5 basil leaves, rolled together and chopped
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
fresh cracked pepper and salt

1. Heat 1 tablespoon of Olive Oil. Add onions, garlic and crushed red pepper cook until onions are translucent about 5 minutes. Pour in vodka. Cook 3 minutes. Pour in tomatoes. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and allow to simmer for 20 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

2. While the sauce is simmering, bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions. Drain. Set aside.

3. After sauce has simmered for 20 minutes, whisk 1 tablespoon of sauce into cream to temper it. Slowly stir tempered cream into the tomato sauce. Add cooked pasta to the sauce. Stir to combine.

4.Stir in basil and Parmesan cheese. Stir to combine. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if needed.


Love it. Eat it every day. Recipe from Jen Lula of Jen Loves Kev.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Carrie: Iron Chef Blogger Challenge Spaghetti Squash

I was kind of excited when Erica chose spaghetti squash. It's a squash I've never tried cooking, but have always been kind of intrigued by the thought of it. I was not in love with how long I had to roast it in the oven, but I think there are some microwave options out there. So, in order to crack open your spaghetti squash and make it easy to take apart, you throw it in a 400 degree oven for at least 45 minutes to an hour. When it's finished, you can cut it in half, dig out the seeds, and then pull at the squash with a fork to removed the strands of squash. I have to say, it did produce plenty of "spaghetti."

I was originally going to make a spaghetti squash gratin recipe I found this morning, but then was too hungry to wait another 30 minutes while it baked. Instead, I tossed my squash with a smear of butter, in bacon grease, with thinly sliced bacon, shrimp, a little lemon juice, thyme, salt, minced garlic and red chili flakes. It was okay. My sister liked it and said she would eat it again. I could probably be persuaded to try it again covered in a nice marinara or as the gratin. On the side, I served some sauteed garlic green beans. It totally does look just like pasta! Tricky squash.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Becky: Iron Chef Blogger Challenge Peanut Butter

First of all, I'd like to apologize that I don't have a pic of this recipe. I totally spazzed and forgot to take one :( However, both me and my husband can confirm that this recipe was amazing and definitely worth trying :)

Indonesian Peanut Chicken

3 to 3 1/2 lb. cut-up broiler-fryer chicken
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1/3 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup chili sauce
1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 cut water
1/4 cup chopped salted peanuts
1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper

1. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper.
2. Heat oil in 12-inch skillet or 4-quart Dutch oven over medium heat. Cook chicken in oil about 15 minutes, turning occasionally, until brown on all sides. Cover and cook over low heat about 20 minutes or until juice is no longer pink when centers of thickest pieces are cut. Remove chicken from skillet with tongs.
3. Drain all but 1 tablespoon dripping from skillet; heat over medium heat. Cook onion in drippings, stirring occasionally, until tender; reduce heat. Stir in peanut butter, chili sauce and red pepper. Gradually stir in water, stirring constantly, until peanut butter is melted.
4. Add chicken. Spoon sauce over chicken. Heat to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer uncovered about 5 minutes, spooning sauce frequently over chicken, until sauce is slightly thickened. Serve sauce over chicken. Sprinkle with peanuts and bell pepper.

I got this recipe from Betty Crocker's Big Red Cookbook, and I have to say that it turned out to be a delicious dinner. I've noticed that with Indonesian cooking, the flavors are usually both spicy and sweet at the same time, and the same held true for this recipe. The peanut butter made the chicken sweet, but the chili sauce and red pepper gave it a certain kick. I did screw up a little while preparing this recipe though. When the time came to add the ground red pepper, I actually added the chopped red bell pepper. I didn't realize this until after I had sprinkled the peanuts into the skillet. I added the ground red pepper and stirred it in the best I could, and I really don't think the outcome of the recipe made much of a difference. The red peppers cooked in the sauce tasted just as well as if they had just been added for garnish. I also cooked a cup of white rice on the back-burner and served the chicken on top of the rice, another suggestion that was made in this cookbook. Anyways, one way I could tell that my husband really enjoyed this recipe was the fact that he didn't add tabasco sauce to the chicken, and he ALWAYS adds tabasco sauce because chicken is never spicy enough for him. But this time he said that the peanut sauce was so good that the Tabasco sauce was unnecessary. I only wish my daughter could've tried this but babies can't have peanut butter until they're 2 years old because by that time they're less likely to develop an allergy to it. I think she was pretty happy with the mac n' cheese she got though :) Anyways, definite thumbs up! :)

Monday, February 22, 2010

Restaurant Find: La Traviata

On my last day in Austin, I had to be rebooked on a later flight due to the record snowfall in Dallas. I hate traveling in the winter. The later flight did however give me the time to enjoy a nice sit-down lunch by myself at La Traviata, a charming little restaurant in downtown Austin. It was only about half a mile from the convention center so I walked my not dressed warmly enough self to the restaurant and was seated at a tiny table near the door and a window looking out over Congress. I mentioned on my personal blog how nice it can to dine by one self. Especially when the meal is as delicious as mine was at La Traviata.

This was my Caesar salad, which is in theory, a pretty simple salad. However, the sherry vinegar and anchovy vinaigrette made it spectacular. I really like Caesar salads. They're simple salads, lettuce, Parmesan, croutons and dressing. But the sherry vinegar added such a nice bite. I've got to try making a homemade Caesar dressing myself one day.

For my entree, I waffled for a bit between dishes, but eventually settled on this Calamari alla Puttanesca. I love seafood, and I really love calamari. I also thought this pasta was delicious. The sauce had a terrific bite to it, and the calamari was spectacular. Calamari is tricky, oftentimes coming out just a tad bit too chewy. But mine was perfect. And while the dish looks like one of great substance, it never felt too heavy, an excellent thing in a midday meal. All in all, a very satisfying meal for one.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Carrie: Iron Chef Blogger Challenge Peanut Butter

I don't really like peanut butter. I'm crazy, I know, but we've had this discussion before. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches? Not good. So I definitely was a little like oh...peanut butter...when I saw the secret ingredient. I thought about baking, but then decided to see what else I could find. And boy, am I glad I chose not to bake because I haven't loved a recipe this much since ICBC Bacon. I found a recipe on Love and Olive Oil, one of my favorite cooking blog sites. Their Tofu Noodle Toss with Taylor's Kick-Butt Peanut Sauce was so easy to throw together and completely delicious. Just as good the next day for lunch too. Make it. Now. I promise you won't regret it. There are no measurements for how many noodles or veggies, so it's kind of like an estimation game. But that also means it's pretty hard to screw it up. It's a recipe with a fair amount of wiggle room, I think, and that's a good thing.

Tofu Noodle Toss with Taylor's Kick-Butt Peanut Sauce
noodles (I used whole wheat spaghetti)
firm tofu, drained and cubed
veggies (I used eggplant, asparagus, green beans, red bell pepper, red onions, and green onions)
olive oil
kale, rinsed and stems removed

For Peanut Sauce (for 4-5 servings)
2/3 cup peanut butter
6 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
2 teaspoons garlic salt (which I didn't have so I minced three cloves of garlic and added a pinch of salt)
6 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons sesame oil
Sriracha chili sauce, to taste
water, if necessary to thin sauce

Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
Add a tablespoon or two of olive oil to a hot pan and brown tofu cubes. Place browned cubes on a plate lined with a paper towel.
Add another tablespoon of oil and cook veggies until tender. Remove from pan and set aside.
Add a couple more tablespoons of olive oil, add kale, and cover. Cook, stirring occasionally, until greens are tender. Remove to a serving dish.
To make peanut sauce, combine all the ingredients except for water to a microwave safe bowl and mix well. Microwave for 40 seconds and stir until smooth. Add a little water if sauce looks too thick. Move tofu and veggies back into the pan, add noodles, then peanut sauce and toss until well coated. Serve atop bed of kale.

Carrie: Iron Chef Blogger Challenge Alcohol

I'm a couple weeks behind, I know. I'm juggling a lot, but these are getting done, I swear! For this challenge, I made shrimp in white wine and then tossed it with some pasta and diced tomatoes. I'd give you a recipe, but I didn't really use one. I peeled some shrimp, threw it in a pan with olive oil, cook till they were pink, then added some butter, minced garlic, and white wine. Let it simmer and the wine reduce, then toss it all with thin spaghetti and a can of diced tomatoes. It was good. I don't really know if the wine added anything or not, but while the shrimp was cooking in it, I thought you could get drunk off the scent.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Tuesday Night Dinner: Seafood Feasting

Because I am the nicest friend ever and because I figured these would be easy meals, I basically made two dinners last night. I made this Real Simple recipe for Garlicky Broiled Salmon and Tomatoes as well as a pasta tossed with shrimp and diced tomatoes. And because one of the girls is allergic to shrimp and two of the girls don't even eat shrimp, I separated out some pasta and tossed them a separate vegetarian pasta with diced tomatoes, a little bit of eggplant, and some asparagus. I also roasted asparagus. The salmon was delicious, and the tomatoes were okay, probably better if you like tomatoes. And the best part of the recipe was that it all happens together in the oven. See upcoming future post for my pasta, which I combined with Iron Chef Blogger Challenge Alcohol.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Baked Dover Sole & Sauteed Green Beans and Mushrooms

For a quick, easy, and healthy dinner, I highly recommend this one. I'm craving seafood for some reason this week, and so last night I picked up some Dover sole from the store as well as fresh green beans, cremini mushrooms, and a red onion. It was so easy to put together, and everything cooked really fast, which was also a plus given how late I'd gotten home.

Season the fish with a little olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper, making sure to cover both sides. Bake in a 400 degree oven for about 12-15 minutes.

Mince two cloves of garlic. Wash the green beans and put them into boiling water for a couple minutes. Remove from boiling water and dunk into bowl of ice water. Heat olive oil in a wok or skillet. Saute onions until they get a little brown and tender then add green beans and mushrooms. Add the garlic a few minutes later and toss the vegetables together. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until green beans are tender.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Restaurant Find: Cedar Door Bar & Grill

I was on a business trip last week, Tuesday through Friday, in Austin, Texas. Austin is one of those cities I've always wanted to visit. Unfortunately, the weather was dreadful and it being a working trip didn't make it a terribly exciting trip. But, you always have to eat, and I always enjoy a good meal. I had dinner by myself on my first night in Austin, where I had this delicious bowl of spicy tortilla soup and then a couple delicious chicken tacos.

I've become a big fan of soups, and maybe one day I'll remember to introduce you to my favorite tortilla soup in Tucson, but for now, this is a good one in Austin at the Cedar Door Bar & Grill. I really liked the spiciness that the poblano peppers added, and the chicken was so so tender. Tortilla soups are interesting because you can find them made a number of different ways. Sometimes they're real brothy, with just a few avocado slices, tortilla strips, and cheese. But in my opinion, the best soups have some substance to them. Veggies, shredded chicken, fresh avocado slices. This was definitely one of substance.

I love tacos. I mean, really, is there a more fun food than tacos? And they're so varied. These chicken tacos were delicious. They were stuffed with a marinated grilled chicken, caramelized onions that added a touch of sweetness, roasted poblano peppers for a kick, and a tomatillo salsa. I also squeezed a little lime juice over them. It was the most amazing mix of flavors, and so balanced with the onions and the peppers, the lime juice and the salsa.

Becky: Iron Chef Blogger Challenge Alcohol

Flounder with Mushrooms and Wine

-1 pound flounder, sole or other delicate fish fillets, about 3/4 inch thick
-1/2 teaspoon paprika
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-1/8 teaspoon pepper
-1 tablespoon butter or stick margarine
-1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
-1/3 cup sliced leeks
-1/3 cup dry white wine or chicken broth
-1/4 cup sliced almonds
-1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese

1. Heat oven to 375.
2. If fish fillets are large, cut into 4 serving pieces. Arrange in ungreased square baking dish, 8 X 8 X 2 inches. Sprinkle with paprika, salt and pepper.
3. Melt butter in 10-inch skillet over medium heat. Cook mushrooms and leeks in butter, stirring occasionally, until leeks are tender. Stir in wine. Pour mushroom mixture over fish. Sprinkle with almonds and cheese.
4. Bake uncovered 15 to 20 minutes or until fish flakes easily with fork.

This recipe came from the Betty Crocker's Big Red Cookbook. Since most of my recent recipes have been chicken dishes, I decided to try a fish recipe this time. I thought this recipe sounded particularly appropriate because I currently have plenty of white wine in my refrigerator. I had also never tried leeks before so I was excited to make this.
I chose sole for the fish fillets because I could not find flounder at the grocery store where I always shop. The only complaint I have about using sole is the fact that it breaks so easily. When I was done baking the fish, it was impossible to take the fillets out of the baking dish without them crumbling into pieces. Also, I only had slivered almonds on hand so rather than spend extra money to buy sliced almonds, I just used the slivered onces instead.
All in all I do recommend this recipe. It was very easy to prepare, and fast as well. I had no idea that leeks were in the onion family and that they separate into rings when you slice them. I always imagined leeks to be solid and to have a bland taste, so I was surprised to find that they were so similar to onions in taste and texture.The white wine also gave the fish a very strong, distinctive flavor. I enjoyed it, although my husband on the other hand wouldn't even try it because he doesn't like seafood, among many other foods. I would definitely make this dish again for myself, however :)

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Tuesday Night Dinner: Pizza Party

In order to accommodate changing schedules and not lose any of our regular Wednesday night dinner party members, we switched dinners to Tuesday nights. This week was our first Tuesday night, and it was quite the event. We made eggplant chips, five pizzas, and sundaes for dessert. In case you were wondering, eggplant chips for 15 is a bad idea because it goes on for quite some time. And pizzas for 15 is only a good idea if they all fit in your oven at once. Otherwise, you eat 30 minutes later than originally intended.