Welcome to Sarah's Adventures in Culinary Experimentation

This blog is for posting recipes I've experimented with while teaching myself to cook. Some I have taken from my favorite recipe books, others are purely my own experimentations. My audience is usually just my husband, my toddler daughter, and I and we are living on a tight budget. Sometimes you might find a splurge.

Hopefully you'll find something here that you like!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Tortilla Chicken Soup

Tortilla Chicken Soup
Serves 8
A fresh soup with a good deal of flavor. Tastes great with tortilla chips and doesn’t weigh you down. Delish!

  • 1 pound chicken breasts
  • 2 32oz cartons chicken broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 medium onions (halved and thinly sliced)
  • 1 TBSP paprika
  • 1 TBSP cumin
  • 1 TBSP fresh ground pepper
  • 1 TBSP ground sea salt
  • 2 TBSP minced garlic
  • 2 14.5 oz cans fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 2 15 oz cans Black Beans (preferred brand, rinsed)
  • 2 TBSP Mrs. Renfro’s Jalapeno Green Salsa (Hot)
  • 1 small can diced green chilies
  • Tortilla chips (garnish, Multi-Grain recommended)
  • Guacamole (garnish)
  • Jalapenos (garnish)

  1. In a large pot, combine thinly sliced onions, garlic, and 1 cup chicken broth. Let come to a boil.
  2. Rinse off chicken breasts and put them in the pot with the broth. Cover with more broth. Add in the cumin, salt, pepper, and paprika. Let come to a boil.
  3. Once chicken is cooked through, take out and shred. Then return it to the pot. Return to boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
  4. Drain and rinse Black Beans. Add the fire-roasted tomatoes (with liquid) and the diced green chilies, as well as the Mrs. Renfro’s Green Salsa. Continue to let simmer until the black beans are cooked to your preferred taste (10-15 minutes).
  5. Serve soup with slices of jarred jalapenos, a dollop of guacamole, and/or tortilla chips. Other suggestions have been slices of avocado or pour the soup over a thin layer of Spanish rice. 

Friday, October 21, 2011

Nutella Crescents

Nutella Crescents
Serving: 4-8

1 package Big & Flaky Crescent Rolls
8 TBSP Nutella

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Open the crescent package and break apart the crescents into the pre-cut triangles.
  3. Take 1 TBSP of Nutella and start at the largest end of the crescent and spread it a little over halfway up the triangle.
  4. Roll the crescents and place them on a nonstick baking sheet. Repeat for remaining crescents.
  5. Let bake until golden brown on the top.
  6. Serve.
Note: You can also do this with jam.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Tequila Chicken Sub Sandwiches

Tequila Chicken Sub Sandwiches
Serves: 8
Great for sports parties!

  • 4 9.75oz cans Swanson White Chicken Breast
  • 1/2 - 3/4 cup tequila
  • 2 fresh-squeezed lime juice (about 1/4 cup lime juice)
  • 2 bell peppers diced (yellow and orange)
  • 1 large red onion diced (or 2 medium)
  • 2 oz cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup diced jalapenos
  • 2 TBSP minced garlic
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1 cup fresh diced tomatoes (let sit on a paper towel to absorb liquid.)
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 TBSP ground pepper
  • 1 TBSP sea salt
  • 8 sub rolls

  1. Preheat oven to 250.
  2. In a large/deep baking dish, combine the 4 ozs of cream cheese with the tequila and lime juice. Mix until well combined. Then add the chicken, bell peppers, onion, minced garlic, jalapenos, salt and pepper, and shredded mozzarella cheese.
  3. Mix well so that everything is coated relatively evenly.
  4. Cover with foil and bake for 1 hour.
  5. After 1 hour, pull out of the oven and turn the oven up to 350.
  6. Mix the mixture and then layer the top with the grated Parmesan cheese, then the diced fresh tomatoes, then top with the cilantro.
  7. Recover with foil and cook for another hour.
  8. Slice a V in the tops of the subs and fill from the top to reduce spill.

    Saturday, September 3, 2011

    Cucumber, Onion, and Tomato Salad

    Cucumber, Onion, and Tomato Salad
    Serves 6

    • 3 Vine Ripe Tomatoes
    • 1 large Cucumber
    • 1 large Red or Vidalia onion
    • 1.5 cups Zesty Italian Dressing
    • Salt and Pepper

    1. Wash your tomatoes and cucumber. Then skin the cucumber and cut into chunky slices. Then quarter the slices and put into a larger seal-able bowl. 
    2. Cut the tomatoes into quarters and remove the seeds. Then cut each quarter in half and cut each section into three pieces. Put into bowl with cucumber.
    3. Cut and peel onion and cut each half into quarter inch slices, then halve the slices (so you have a quartered onion with each section cut into quarter inch slices). Add to bowl with cucumber and tomatoes.
    4. Add 1.5 cups Zesty Italian Dressing to the bowl. Add a little sprinkle of salt and pepper. Cover and shake the container to mix. Taste and adjust seasoning.
    5. Put into refrigerator to chill. Best served the same day. Not as good after 2 days.

    Sunday, August 28, 2011

    Sweet and Savory Breakfast Surprise: Grits, Bacon, and Eggs

     Sweet & Savory Breakfast Surprise: Grits, Bacon, & Eggs
    Serves 4

    • 8 slices of Jennie-O turkey bacon
    • 4 TBSP Maple Syrup (I used Log Cabin Lite)
    • 4 Large Eggs
    • 3 handfuls of All Natural Alexia Sweet Potato Juliened fries (preferred brand or your own... if you're own 1 large sweet potato should be enough)
    • 3/4 cup Quaker Grits (Quick-5 Minutes, Smooth & Creamy, Enriched White Hominy)
    • 3 cups water
    • 1 1/2 cups preferred cheddar cheese (shredded or cubed)
    • 1/2 cup 1% milk
    • 3 TBSP butter
    • 2 TBSP butter (for the eggs)
    • 1 TBSP salt
    • 2 TBSP pepper
    • Favorite Hot Sauce (for a drop or two of garnish)

    1. Preheat oven to 425F and get the sweet potato fries cooking. Follow your own recipe for your own. Cook the fries until tender and slightly crispy. I don't add any kind of cooking oil, because they cook up delicious and fine without it. Do this well in advance, because everything else will come together quickly and you can keep the fries in a warming area.
    2. In a medium pot on the stove, start to cook up the grits by bringing 3 cups of water to a boil. Once boiling, add in the 3/4 cups grits, 1/4 tsp salt, 2 TBSP pepper and stir.
    3. Reduce heat to medium-low, add in 3 TBSP butter and 1 1/2 cups of cheddar cheese. Stir and cover. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
    4. Prepare the turkey bacon as you prefer. Do not make the bacon too crispy, still pliable. You can either cook it in the microwave, turning frequently, until ready or follow oven directions. When the bacon is ready, cut strips in half at an angle. Two slices for each bowl.
    5. Put the bacon aside on a plate. When the grits are to your taste, add in 1/2 cup 1% milk to smooth the texture. Take off heat and set aside covered.
    6. Heat a frying pan to medium-high and add 1/2 TBSP butter for each egg. Fry the egg on both sides so that the whites are cooked, but the yoke will pop. Don't forget, the eggs will continue cooking ones off the heat.
    7. While the eggs are preparing, stir your grits and portion them into 4 wide bowls. Then lay down the bacon so that the angles create a V out of the bacon or just create an X across the grits (cutting them just makes it easier to eat). See picture for platting help.
    8. Lay the fried egg on top of the bacon. Then distribute 4 small sweet potatoe fries around the 4 segments of the bowl. Lay 2 large potato strips across the top of the egg.
    9. Drizzle 1 TBSP of maple syrup over the egg so that it runs down. Then douse with a few drops of hot sauce.
    10. Serve! Pop the egg first.

    Tuesday, August 9, 2011

    Onion Rice

    Onion Rice
    Serves 4

    • 2 cans Campbell's low sodium French Onion Soup
    • 1 cup Uncle Ben's Rice (not instant rice)
    • 1 TBSP butter

    1. Drain liquid from the French Onion Soup with a strainer into a measuring cup (try to use a measuring cup that will hold 2+ cups of liquid).
    2. Put the onions aside to add later.
    3. Check the rice packaging to see how much water you need for 1 cup of rice (usually 2 1/4 cup). Add water to top off the onion soup (check for extra liquid in the onions put aside).
    4. Add the liquid, butter, and rice to a pot and bring to boil.
    5. When boiling, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Stir and check.
    6. When the liquid is absorbed, add the onions and finish cooking the rice until tender. Serve.

    Note: Goes great as a side dish with broccoli, corn, and most meats.

    I originally got this recipe from my mother-in-law, because it is one of my husband's favorite side dishes. I don't know where she got it from, but I've taken a long time to perfect the making, so when you make it, just feel out how it works for you. It is a really great side dish and reheats really well.

    Saturday, July 30, 2011

    Baby Twice-Baked Potatoes

    I was inspired by a recipe I saw through the Baby Bullet Facebook page and I could not wait to make them for my daughter. Then I realized they would make great little dinner party appetizers or little sporting event snacks, etc.

    What I also thought was that if I made these for adults, I would not blend the mixture as much and make it more chunky, use different cheese and be more adult-taste-bud-friendly. You know your audience and can adjust as you see fit.

    Baby Twice-Baked Potatoes
    Serving: 1 (12m old baby)

    • 4 baby red potatoes
    • 3 small stocks of already cooked broccoli
    • 2 baby carrots
    • 2 TBSP freshly shredded Asiago cheese (half for sprinkling before baking)
    • 1/4 cup vegetable broth

    1. Preheat oven to 400F. Wash your potatoes, poke them, and put them on a baking sheet in the oven. Cook until tender.
    2. Carefully cut in half and scoop out the middle. I stress carefully, because the skin might peel off. Don't panic, just keep going.
    3. Put the scooped out middles, broccoli, baby carrots, vegetable broth, and 1/2 the cheese into a food processor (or bullet blender) and mix to a smooth consistency (for baby).
    4. Refill the skins with the mixture and sprinkle the leftover cheese on top. Put back into over and bake until cooked through.
    5. Let cool and serve.

    Friday, June 17, 2011

    Lemony Orzo with Tuna and Artichoke Hearts

    Lemony Orzo with Tuna and Artichoke Hearts
    Serves: 4

    I found this recipe on FineCooking.com and thought it sounded good. Plus I had all the ingredients on hand already.I did not have sun-dried tomatoes, so I threw in some halved cherry tomatoes when I added the tuna. I also only had light tuna and not chunk white. For the wine I used a small bottle of Barefoot Chardonnay. It turned out delicious.

    • Kosher salt  
    • 1-1/2 cups dried orzo (about 9 oz.)  
    • 1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil  
    • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped  
    • Freshly ground black pepper  
    • 1/3 cup dry vermouth or white wine  
    • 1 14-oz. can artichoke hearts, drained and quartered  
    • 1/2 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and thinly sliced  
    • 1 5-oz. can water-packed solid white tuna, drained  
    • 3 Tbs. sour cream  
    • 3 Tbs. fresh lemon juice  
    • 3 Tbs. coarsely chopped fresh basil  

    1. Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Add the orzo and cook according to package timing until al dente. Drain well.
    2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/8 tsp. pepper and cook, stirring often, until deep golden brown, 7 to 8 minutes. 
    3. Remove the skillet from the heat and add the vermouth or wine. Return the skillet to the heat and stir well, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom. 
    4. Add the artichoke hearts and sun-dried tomatoes and cook just until tender and heated through, 2 to 3 minutes more. Off the heat, gently stir in the tuna.
    5. Transfer the hot orzo to a large bowl and toss with the crème fraîche and lemon juice. 
    6. Add the onion-artichoke mixture, 2 Tbs. of the basil, and salt and pepper to taste. Toss gently to combine. 
    7. Spoon into bowls, garnish with the remaining 1 Tbs. basil, and serve.
    nutrition information (per serving):
    Calories (kcal): 470; Fat (g): 12; Fat Calories (kcal): 110; Saturated Fat (g): 4; Protein (g): 23; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 5; Carbohydrates (g): 60; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 1.5; Sodium (mg): 710; Cholesterol (mg): 25; Fiber (g): 4

    Saturday, June 4, 2011

    WTH is for Dinner Breakfast-Dinner

    WTH is for Dinner Breakfast-Dinner

    • 1 Hillshire Farm Cheddar Turkey Ring Bologna
    • 6 Eggs (or 3 Egg Beaters)
    • 2 tbsp Montreal Steak Seasoning
    • 8 thin slices of a French loaf
    • Cherry Tomatoes – Sliced
    • Shredded Parmesan
    • 2 TBSP butter

    1. Beat 3 eggs and 1 tsp Montreal Steak Seasoning. In a heated pan, melt 1 TBSP butter and pour in the egg mixture. Spread out until you get a thin layer of eggs. Very thin, like a crepe. Flip when cooked. Then put aside. Do this for the last 3 eggs and last teaspoon of Montreal Steak Seasoning and last TBSP of butter.
    2. Put the eggs aside to cool. Then cut up the Turkey Bologna into small slices. Do not add anything to the frying pan, but keep it on heat. Put the slices in the frying pan and cook until browned on both sides. (You could also just microwave cook the sausage and then slice it afterwards.)
    3. Toast the bread and put a thin layer or butter or margarine or other bread preference on the bread when toasted. Put two slices on each plate.
    4. Slice cherry tomatoes to give at least six cherry tomatoes to eat person. Evenly divide the sliced cherry tomatoes between the four plates.
    5. Roll up the two sheets of eggs, individually, and cut them into 1cm sections, giving you what looks like egg pasta. Drape these evenly over the bread on the plate.
    6. Put your ring bologna on paper towel to drain and pat away excess grease. Then divide evenly among plates.
    7. Sprinkle some Parmesan cheese over the plate and serve.

    Friday, June 3, 2011

    Tomato, Basil, and Orzo Soup

    Tomato, Basil, and Orzo Soup
    Serves: About 6-8

    • 1 can Hunt's Diced Tomatoes - Basil, Garlic & Oregano
    • 1 can Roundy's Diced Tomatoes - With Onion, Celery and Green Peppers
    • 1 yellow onion diced
    • 2 cups Vegetable Stock
    • 3 cloves of garlic, diced
    • 1 TBSP olive oil
    • 5-6 fresh basil leaves chopped
    • 1 cup uncooked orzo pasta
    • 2 TBSP Montreal Steak Seasoning
    • 4 TBSP Tomato Paste
    • 4 TBSP Light Daisy Sour Cream
    • shredded Parmesan cheese (for garnish)


    1. Follow the directions on the box and cook the Orzo to your desired tenderness. Put aside to mix it at the end.
    2. Sweat down the onions and garlic with the olive oil until translucent.
    3. Add in the 2 cans of diced tomatoes, tomato paste, vegetable stock and seasoning.
    4. Cook at medium until heated through and taste to make sure its seasoned well.
    5. Then add in your chopped basil. Cook for 5 more minutes on medium so that the basil flavors combine.
    6. Get out your hand blender (or use a blend or food processor) and blend the soup until smooth.
    7. Add in the sour cream and blend a little more until combined.
    8. Combine the Orzo with the soup on the stove top and heat through at low-medium heat until completely warm.
    9. Serve with a little sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.

    Note: Great with a Mozzarella, Tomato, and Basil grilled cheese/panini!!

    Saturday, April 23, 2011

    Pineapple Risotto

    Pineapple Risotto
    Serves 4
    Roughly 248 Calories per serving

    • 3 tablespoons butter
    • 1 cup arborio rice
    • 1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped into small bits
    • 1 cup pineapple juice
    • 1 cup Barefoot Chardonnay
    • 1 cup chicken broth
    • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
    • 1/2 cup crushed pineapple

    1. In a medium pot, cook the chopped onions with the butter until the onions are tender.
    2. Add the arborio rice and coat well. Cook for about 1-2 minutes.
    3. Add the Chardonnay and cook down.
    4. Add the pineapple juice and cook down.
    5. Heat the chicken broth in either a pan or in the microwave and add.
    6. Cook the risotto down until tender and soft. A little give in the middle is alright, but cook to taste. Add more broth as needed until cooked down.
    7. Finally, add the pineapple and mix thoroughly. Then add in the cheese and mix until fully combined.
    8. Taste for seasoning (salt or pepper).

    Coconut Curry Chicken

    Coconut Curry Chicken
    Serves 4
    About 172 calories per serving

    From Rachael Ray Online.

    • 2 teaspoons curry powder
    • One 13.5-ounce can coconut milk
    • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts (about 2 pounds), cut into strips)
    • 2 teaspoons five-spice powder

    1. In a small saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat, stir in the curry powder and cook for 1 minute.
    2. Add the coconut milk and cook until reduced by half, about 7 minutes.
    3. Toss together the chicken, five-spice powder and 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper.
    4. In a large, heavy skillet, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil (or coconut oil) over medium-high heat until shimmering.
    5. Increase the heat to high and stir-fry the chicken until just cooked through, about 6 minutes.
    6. Stir in the coconut curry sauce, simmer down.

    Salsa Egg Toast

    Salsa Egg Toast
    (about 420 calories per serving. Serves 1)

    • 1 container (1/2 cup) Egg Beaters
    • 2 TBSP Tostitos Chunky Salsa (mild)
    • ¼ cup Finely Shredded Mexican Cheese Blend
    • 1 slice Whole Wheat Toast

    1. In a pan, use your preferred non-stick method (spray, butter, whatever). 
    2. Heat the pan and then add the Egg Beaters, Salsa, and Cheese.
    3. While this is cooking in the pan, toast the bread. 
    4. Once done, put the egg mixture on the toast.
    And just a loving bit of pimpage:

    Thursday, April 21, 2011

    Chicken Enchilada Soup

    Chicken Enchilada Soup
    Serves 6-8

    Inspired by a recipe from Rachael Ray's website for Creamy Enchilada Soup, but I made some of my own changes. I've made this before and was trying to channel what I did that time to really infuse good flavor.

    • 1lb chicken breast sliced in long thin pieces (or shredded chicken if you have it)
    • 1 yellow onion sliced thin in halves
    • 1 TBSP minced garlic
    • 1 TBSP olive oil
    • 1 small can diced green chilies
    • 6 cups chicken broth
    • 2 TBSP Montreal Steak Seasoning
    • 1 TBSP Sea Salt
    • 1 cup Mrs. Renfro's Jalapeno Green Salsa Hot (or preferred green salsa, such as Salsa Verde)
    • 4 cups crushed tortilla chips (save some for garnish)
    • 1 cup of shredded Mexican cheese (save some for garnish)
    • 1 cup of shredded Pepper Jack Cheese
    • Sour Cream (for garnish)

    1. In a large pot, sweat down the onions and garlic with a small splash of Olive Oil.
    2. While they sweat, cut the chicken up and season with half of the Montreal Steak Seasoning.
    3. Put the chicken in with the onions and garlic until they brown.
    4. Add the can of green chilies and cook for about a minute, incorporating into the mixture.
    5. Then add the 6 cups of chicken broth and add the sea salt and the last TBSP of Montreal Steak Seasoning.
    6. Let cook on medium for about 8 minutes.
    7. Add the Salsa and let cook for another 8-10 minutes. Check the chicken to make sure its the consistency that you want. If the pieces are too big, take some out and shred them yourself with a knife.
    8. After 10 minutes, add the cheese to the pot and stir until incorporated.
    9. Once the cheese is incorporated, add the tortilla chips. Then let simmer on low for 5-10 minutes, until a consistency that you prefer. If you think it is too thick, add a little more chicken broth or water.
    10. Serve in bowls with extra cheese, tortilla chips, and sour cream as garnish.

    Note: Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

    Wednesday, April 20, 2011

    Crab Egg Rolls

    Crab Egg Rolls

    This recipe was inspired by one from Emeril Lagasse on foodnetwork.com. My store did not have any wonton wraps, so I used egg roll wraps instead, which turned it into an egg roll, instead of a Fresh Crab Spring Roll. These turned out beyond delicious and I would definitely make them again.

    • 2 ounces Chinese cellophane or glass noodles, cooked
    • Sesame oil
    • Soy Sauce
    • 1 bunch of green onions, chopped into strips
    • 8 egg roll wrappers (or just a package, depending on how much you fill them)
    • 1 pound jumbo lump crab meat (imitation works well, too)
    • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
    • 4 teaspoons chili paste
    • Salt and ground black pepper
    • 1/2 cup julienne carrots
    • 1/2 cup packed cilantro leaves
    • Sweet Chili Sauce (for dipping)
    • Vegetable Oil (or preferred frying oil)

    1. Cook the cellophane noodles by directions. It should say boil water, then remove from heat and let noodles sit in water until ready. Should only take 5-10 minutes, depending on how firm you want your noodles.
    2. Once the noodles are done, spread them on a cookie sheet to dry and drain off as much water as possible. They will still retain moisture, which is ok. Spread 1 TBSP of Sesame Oil and 1 TBSP of Soy Sauce over the noodles and let them continue to sit.
    3. Fill a high pot with enough oil to cover your egg rolls (so about 3-5 inches). Heat on almost high (so 8-9 on the nob) until a test piece of egg roll covering crisps.
    4. In a bowl, mix the crab, mayonnaise, chili paste, and salt and pepper. It should be a thin coating on the crab.
    5. Make sure your carrots of thin and the proper length of the egg roll. Then cut thin strips of the green onions so that they fit in the egg roll. Halve the green tops, quarter the whiter bottoms.
    6. Form an assembly line of your ingredients. First the cellophane noodles, then the crab, then the carrots and onions and lastly some of the parsley (just add as is to the roll).
    7. Have your egg roll wrapper face you like a diamond. About an inch from the corner closest to you, lay some of the cellophane noodles, then 1 tsp or 1.5 tsp of the crab mixture, then layer or vegetables and herbs. Take the corner closest to you and roll/fold it over the mixture. Then fold in the left and right sides and roll to the other corner. Use a little dip of water to close the flap if just rolling it does not.
    8. Test the oil with an imperfect piece of egg roll. When ready, put 1-2 egg rolls in at a time and watch them. Cook for about 5 minutes or until a deep golden brown on all sides. 
    9. Take out and put on a paper towel to soak up any leftover oil. 
    10. Serve with a dipping sauce of your choice. A Peanut Sauce or a Sweet Thai Chili Sauce.
    Storage: a Tupperware or other airtight container. Keeps for about 5 days.

    Sunday, February 27, 2011

    Balsamic Tomato and Mozzarella Bruschetta

    Balsamic Tomato and Mozzarella Bruschetta

    • 1 Baguette sliced into 1/4-1/3 in pieces at an angle
    • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
    • Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing
    • Tiny Mozzarella Balls (Mozzarella Pearls)
    • Cherry Tomatoes
    1. Slice your cherry tomatoes in half. You should have 3-4 per slice of baguette, depending on how long each slice is.  Put them in a bowl with enough Balsamic Vinaigrette to cover them. Mix them, then cover the bowl and put them in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
    2. After the tomatoes have marinated, Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
    3. Slice your baguette into 1/4-1/3 inch pieces at an angle.
    4. Brush the slices with olive oil on both sides. Put onto a baking sheet and put into the preheated oven for 10-15 minutes. Watch them so that they don't burn. These shouldn't be too crunchy. You want a little bit of softness still in the middle. When done, let cool.
    5. Get your bowl of cherry tomatoes and the mozzarella balls. Make sure you put the mozzarella balls on a paper towel before adding to the bruschetta if they were immersed in liquid. You should have a 1-to-1 ratio of tomato halves and mozzarella balls. Line them up in alternating order on the bread. Then drizzle with leftover Balsamic Vinaigrette.
    If you want to add fresh Basil, that would be brilliant. Just make sure to layer or chop the fresh basil and make it a garnish on the bruschetta. These were absolutely delicious and were a great appetizer with our Sausage-and-Rice Timbale.

    Sausage-and-Rice Timbale

    Food Network Magazine (1-year auto-renewal)I saw this recipe in the Food Network Magazine and I just had to cook it. I changed a few bits about the recipe, one of which was adding Green Bell Pepper to the onion mixture for inside.

    Sausage-and-Rice Timbale

    Time: 15 minutes (prep); 1 hour 15 mins (cook)
    Servings: 6

    • 2 1/2 cups arborio rice
    • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
    • 2 medium onion, chopped 
    • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
    • 6 Italian pork sausages, casings removed
    • 2 TBSP minced garlic
    • 1/2 cup tomato paste
    • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
    • 4 tablespoons Italian breadcrumbs
    • 4 large egg
    • 1 1/4 cups grated pecorino romano cheese (about 3 ounces)
    • 2 ounces deli-sliced provolone cheese (6-8 slices)

    Norpro 8-Inch Nonstick Springform
    Springform Pan
    1. Bring a large pot of salted water (or chicken broth/not included in directions amount) to a boil. Add the rice, reduce the heat and simmer, stirring once or twice, until the rice is tender, 12 to 15 minutes. 
    2. Drain, shaking the colander to remove any excess water. Spread the rice on a rimmed baking sheet and let cool. (You could also just a bit of a preferred white wine to add some flavor to the rice.)
    3. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F and place a baking sheet on the middle rack. 
    4. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. 
    5. Add the onion and green bell pepper and cook until soft, about 8 minutes. 
    6. Add the sausage and cook, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, until browned, about 6 minutes. 
    7. Add to the skillet along with the garlic and tomato paste. Increase the heat to high and cook, stirring, until the tomato paste browns, about 4 minutes. Stir in the chicken broth, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the skillet. Cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 15 to 20 minutes. 
    8. Meanwhile, grease the bottom and sides of an 8-inch springform pan with the remaining 1 tablespoon butter. Coat the pan with the breadcrumbs, tapping to remove any excess. 
    9. Put the eggs and all but 3 tablespoons of the pecorino cheese in a small bowl and beat with a fork. Put the cooled rice in a bowl; add the egg mixture and stir to combine. 
    10. Transfer about two-thirds of the rice mixture to the prepared springform pan. Using moist fingers, pat the rice onto the bottom and up the sides of the pan, forming a 1/2-inch-thick layer. (I used a spoon here and it worked out perfectly fine.) 
    11. Place the provolone slices over the rice in the pan. Spoon about three-quarters of the sausage filling over the provolone, filling it to 1/2 inch from the top. Then add another layer of provolone.
    12. Pat the remaining rice mixture on top to enclose the filling, then sprinkle with the remaining 3 tablespoons pecorino cheese on top. Put the pan on the hot baking sheet and bake until golden, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a rack and let cool, 5 minutes. 
    13. Run a small knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the timbale, then remove the side of the pan. Slide a spatula under the timbale and transfer it to a platter. 
    14. Thin the remaining sausage filling with a splash of water and reheat. Serve with the timbale.

    Overall, this recipe was a success. My husband thought the 1/2 inch thickness was a bit too thick and would have preferred it just a little thinner. My top layer was very thin, so that was a bonus there. I also let it bake for 30 minutes instead of just 20 to get the top just a little toastier. Next time, I would also add a bit more seasoning to the filling. I'm not sure I'd want an Italian seasoning, but something. I think a good addition would also be a few more vegetables. A sliced up zucchini layer would taste good, but for some reason our grocery store seems to be frequently out of them. Seasonsal issues I suppose.

    This recipe requires quite a bit of multitasking, but is well worth the work. We enjoyed it and there was lots of leftovers for meals the following day or for lunches, as it would be easy to reheat with a little splash of water for the rice.

    Goes great with my Balsamic Tomato and Mozzarella Bruschetta as an appetizer.

    Friday, February 18, 2011

    Steak and Eggs-in-a-Grits-Nest

    I’m trying a new recipe tonight. I saw it in the March 2011 Rachael Ray magazine, but I’m going to put my own spin on it. I’ve never really eaten grits before. I hear people talk about them all the time all over the food world. They rave about them when they are made right. My husband, though, hates grits. So I pitched him this recipe idea and he decided to consider it. I call it:

    Steak and Eggs-in-a-Grits-Nest
    Serves: 2-3
    Time: 35 mins

    1 1/2 cups quick-cooking grits
    3 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
    6 TBSP butter
    4 eggs
    1 red bell peppers, thinly sliced
    1 yellow onions, thinly sliced
    4-6oz flank steak
    2 TBSP Montreal Steak Seasoning

    1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Boil 2 1/4 cups water with salt and pepper seasoning. When boiling, add the grits and mix. Cover and turn to low until grits are thick and creamy.
    2. Start grilling or broiling your flank steak. Cover both sides with 1 TBSP Montreal seasoning and grill to preferred temperature. Remember to let rest when it has cooked long enough for the length and thickness. Slice at an angle against the grain.
    3. Add the cheese and butter and mix through the grits. Scoop into a 4x4 pan.
    4. Make small indentations in the grits and drop your eggs in. Crack them one by one into a small bowl if preferred.
    5. Then bake until the eggs are cooked, but the yokes are still a little runny. It took mine 30 minutes.
    6. Meanwhile, slice the onion and bell pepper and slowly sautee on the stove until desired texture. 
    7. Combine on a plate and serve.

    Sunday, February 13, 2011

    Frozen Banana Breakfast Smoothie

    This recipe was inspired by the Chocolate Banana recipe I posted on here. It is a great breakfast and filling.

    Frozen Banana Breakfast Smoothie
    Servings: 1
    Cook Time: 5 minutes (not including freezing)

    1 large frozen banana
    1 cup Light Silk Milk (or preferred milk)
    6 oz preferred yogurt (I use fruit flavors)
    1 tsp honey

    1. Put all ingredients into preferred blending device.
    2. Hit blend until everything is perfectly incorporated.
    3. Enjoy!
    Magic Bullet MBR-1701 17-Piece Express Mixing SetI usually buy the individual Dannon Light 'n Fit yogurts and just add one of the little squares into my Bullet cup. I have found that the Cherry flavor one is absolutely delicious, as well as the Pina Colada and Pear. Experiment to learn what your favorite flavor is.

    Saturday, February 12, 2011

    Chocolate Banana Bullet Smoothie

    For Christmas my mom made the best impulse present purchase ever! She got me a bullet. I think her first inclination involved making baby food for my daughter. Now I'm using it to make breakfasts and any chocolate cravings. I also prefer to drink Silk milk. It is a soy milk and I also started drinking chocolate silk milk. I saw a recipe on the side of the Silk soy milk carton that said I should freeze a sliced banana and then blend it with 1 cup of chocolate silk milk and 1 TBSP of honey. I used this recipe for my inspiration for a chocolaty delicious evening snack.

    Chocolate Banana Bullet Smoothie
    Servings: 2
    Time: 5 minutes

    2 cups Light Chocolate Silk Milk
    1 medium banana, sliced and frozen

    1. Add Silk Milk and Bananas to your blending device.
    2. Blend full blast until mixed together and smooth.
    3. Enjoy!

    Thursday, February 10, 2011

    Italian Sausage Fettuccine with Mozzarella, Basil, and Sun Dried Tomato Sauce

    Italian Sausage Fettuccine with Mozzarella, Basil, and Sun Dried Tomato Sauce
    Servings: 4
    Time: 30-45 minutes

    4 frozen Italian sausages (preferred kind)
    4 wedges laughing cow Sun-dried Tomatoes, Basil, and Mozzarella cheese
    1 yellow onion, cut into small slices
    1 can diced tomatoes with liquid
    1 package of cooked garden fresh fettuccine
    ½ cup chicken broth
    2 TBSP minced garlic

    1.  Cook the fettuccine as directed and to the desired tenderness.
    2.  Cut frozen sausages into angled pieces. Take the cases off after cutting if you want to.
    3.  Cook the sausage pieces in a pot with the garlic.
    4. While the sausage cooks, cut the onions into halved medium-thin strips. Then add to the pan with the sausage.
    5. Let cook together until the unions are starting to turn translucent. Then add the can of diced tomatoes and chicken broth.
    6. Make sure you drain your noodles and rinse them under cold water. Let sit while you finish what is in the pot.
    7. Once the liquid in the pot is boiling, add four-5 wedges of Laughing Cow Sun-dried Tomatoes, Basil, and Mozzarella cheese. Mash and blend with a fork or spoon.
    8. After you combined the cheese into a thin sauce, add the pasta to the pot and toss. Let simmer until the dish is fully combined.