Thursday, September 30, 2010

Beef Stroganoff

Everyone has that ONE food that just takes you back to the comforts of home growing up. My mom was such an amazing cook that I happen to have a lot of those ONE foods, but beef stroganoff may be my favorite. Surprisingly enough my very favorite came out of a packet, McCormick brand mix for stroganoff. Up until a few months ago it was still my go-to simply because of how easy and quick it is to throw together when you’re running short on time.

As tends to happen with me, I got a craving for stroganoff several months ago and had no sauce packets – GASP! Odd because I usually by about 5 at a time . . . (no lie) At any rate, I decided it couldn’t be that difficult to recreate so off I went. It took no more time to do this from scratch than it did a packet and my husband said he actually preferred it.

This makes a LOT of food, enough that all three of us had dinner with leftovers for lunch the next day and plenty for dinner the next night after t-ball practice. I really like the cold leftovers the next day!

Beef Stroganoff
Yield: 8 servings


1lb top sirloin, cut into thin strips (you can buy these pre-packaged at Kroger, I learned yesterday)
1 heaping tbsp. flour
1 heaping tbsp. corn starch
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. garlic powder
½ tsp. salt (plus extra)
½ tsp. pepper (plus extra)
Sprinkle of paprika
1 cup cold water
4 oz. plain Greek yogurt
4 oz. sour cream
1 large package egg noodles

Heat a large stockpot to boil with salted water and cook your egg noodles. These generally cook 7-9 minutes, so get the water going first in order for everything to finish on time.

Heat a deep skillet to med-high heat and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle your steak with salt and pepper and rub generously into the meat. Once your skillet is hot, drop in the steak and stir-fry until there is very little pink left, approximately 3-5 minutes. While the steak is cooking, combine all of your dry ingredients in a measuring cup, stir and add in the water, whisking well. When your steak is finished pour in your sauce mixture, stir, cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Let simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Once your sauce has thickened, add in the yogurt and sour cream and stir gently until mixed. Strain your cooked egg noodles and pour sauce over the top, stirring well.

Enjoy! KC

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

King Ranch Chicken

King Ranch Chicken is just one of those comfort foods I can’t imagine living without. When I was younger my Mama would make this every so often and it was always a treat. Warm and creamy, tons of cheese and the slight crunch of tortilla chips just made this a perfect all-around dish.
Funny enough I have never made this for my husband, although he asks me frequently to do so because I speak so highly of it. The prep takes less than 20 minutes so really there is no excuse! I figured since the weather has finally cooled off I'd give it a go for the first time in a few years.

King Ranch Chicken
Yield: 8 servings

1 Roasted Rotisserie Chicken (like you can buy at Wal-Mart or Albertson’s), deboned/skin removed and meat shredded
Tortilla chips (not very salty ones if you can find them – like Mission brand)
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can chicken broth
1 small can diced green chilies
1 can Rotel, with juice
1 medium onion, diced
5-6 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups shredded cheese
8 oz sour cream


Preheat oven to 350°F. Place an even layer of tortilla chips on the bottom of a 13”x9” baking dish sprayed with cooking spray. Sauté onion and garlic in olive oil over medium-high heat until translucent and fragrant, 5-6 minutes.

In large bowl, combine shredded chicken, both cans of soup, onions & garlic, green chilies and Rotel. Add just enough chicken broth to make mixture slightly soupy. Pour mixture over tortilla chips.

In small bowl, heat remaining chicken broth in the microwave. Whisk in sour cream, and pour mixture over the top of chicken mixture, covering evenly. Top with shredded cheese.

Cover with foil and bake for half an hour. Remove foil and bake for an additional fifteen minutes.

Enjoy! KC

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Panzanella is a bread salad, basically, where you can incorporate a ton of fresh vegetables in one simple meal. The first time I saw this recipe was on Barefoot Contessa while I was out of work after surgery. It looked fantastic but complicated. Boy, was I wrong! Later I saw a recipe for Greek panzanella on my favorite cooking blog and it turns out to be adapted from Ina Garten’s.

This is my adapted version from Annie’s Eats, which is adapted from Barefoot Contessa. In order to make it less time consuming I do the bread differently than their recipes call for and we like it a little better – it keeps the bread crunchy even on the second day and adds to the overall crunchiness of the salad. I have decided that I will try to incorporate this into my meal routine every week, mostly likely for my daily lunches.

Yield: 6 servings

1 loaf whole-wheat French bread, cut into 1” cubes
     For the bread: olive oil, garlic powder, kosher salt, pepper, dried oregano, dried basil
4 bell peppers, in different colors, large dice
1 red onion, large dice
3 stalks celery, large dice
1lb button mushrooms, wiped clean, large dice
1 cucumber, large dice
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 can small pitted olives, drained well
½ cup banana pepper rings
6oz. crumbled feta cheese

2 cloves garlic, minced (or use a Microplane, my preferred method)
1 ¼ tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
¼ cup red wine vinegar
½ cup good olive oil
½ tsp. fresh ground black pepper
1 tsp. salt

Preheat your oven to 400°F. In a large mixing bowl combine all of your chopped vegetables and cheese and set to the side. In a small bowl, whisk together the ingredients for your vinaigrette, and then drizzle over your chopped vegetables. Toss well to coat and set in the fridge to marinate.

On a large baking sheet, lay out your bread cubes in a single layer and drizzle well with olive oil. Sprinkle generously with kosher salt, pepper, garlic powder, dried oregano and dried basil and toss cubes to coat. If any of the seasoning falls to the bottom of the pan, scoop it up and sprinkle it back over the top. Bake in a 400°F oven for 5-10 minutes, stirring every couple of minutes, until nice and brown. Remove from oven and let cool.

When you’re ready to serve your salad, combine the marinated veggies with the baked bread cubes and toss to coat so that some of the marinade seeps into the bread. Serve immediately. Leftovers will keep for the next day.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Spiced Tea

When I was growing up there was a little restaurant on the square in Denton that my mom loved, particularly their tea! Someone there was kind enough to give her the recipe and she would make it on occasion and I could never get enough. Since Brent and I are now on this low-no carb diet with no sugar I had to made a tea that he would drink unsweetened. Of course for those of you that aren’t as regimented as us this is excellent sweet – equally delicious warm with honey.
Spiced Tea
Yield: 8 quarts (2 – 4 quart pitchers)

1 quart water
Peel from one small orange (I use a potato peeler and leave the white behind – too bitter)
1 stick of cinnamon
6 whole cloves
8 black tea bags

In a medium saucepan, bring the water, orange peel, cinnamon and cloves to a boil and then immediately remove from heat. Drop in the tea bags and cover, let steep for 30 minutes to an hour or until cool. Strain and divide equally between two 4 quart pitchers and then add water to 4 quarts.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Blackberry Basil Marinade

Strawberries are normally the only berry I really enjoy. Raspberries burned me about 10 years ago (long story, involving vodka and boxing) and blueberries didn’t particularly blow me away. When I was really little my mom and I lived near Houston and I remember picking blackberries with her, and her making pies/cobblers. As an adult, the bitterness and huge seeds sort of through me off. Then, one day last summer, the grocery store had blackberries on sale and so I thought I would give them another go.

As with before, I just couldn’t get past the seeds. Then an idea began to form that just snowballed. My mom had mounds of fresh basil growing in the backyard so I grabbed up a bunch and thought that blackberries, basil and balsamic vinegar would probably taste well together. I’ve spent the last year perfecting this recipe and although my favorite place to use it is on flank steak it’s equally delicious on pork tenderloin.

Below is the recipe for the glaze, as well as how to use it on both flank steak and pork tenderloin. This stuff is very versatile and just packed with flavor. Whenever I make the flank steak, I serve it over a bed of fresh spinach and arugula with sliced strawberries and cheddar cheese crumbles (or Feta!) – no dressing required.

Blackberry Basil Marinade

1 pint blackberries, rinsed and dried
¼ cup packed light brown sugar
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
1 bunch fresh basil, rinsed and leaves removed from stems
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. black pepper

In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the blackberries until pureed, then pour through a sieve into a medium-sized bowl. Using a spatula or the back of a spoon push all of the puree through the sieve until only seeds remain, and then discard them. Finely chop the basil and add to the puree as well as the remaining ingredients. Whisk until incorporated and sugar is dissolved.

For flank steak: this marinade will work for 1-2lbs of steak. Place the steak in a one gallon Ziploc baggie and cover with marinade. Massage into the meat and then seal the bag, pushing all the air out as you go – you want the marinade pushed into the meat. Let rest on the counter for approximately 20-30 minutes. While the steak is resting get your grill going to 650°F. Sear the steak for 4 minutes per side for medium-rare, and then let rest for another 10 minutes before slicing against the grain.

For pork tenderloin: same as steak, except for cooking method. Get your grill to about 500°F and sear all sides of the meat, then reduce temperature to 350°F and cook until internal temperature reaches 160°F, turning every 10 minutes or so. Cook time will depend on the thickness of the meat.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Southwestern Salad

Salads are truly one of my favorite things in the world. If you do it right and don’t pile on a ton of fatty additives, they can be so healthy for you. For me, I enjoy a salad with crispy lettuce and veggies, light on the tomatoes – and I’m always searching for the perfect ranch dressing. Recently I found a ranch on Annie’s Eats that I’ve been able to tailor to our preferences and it’s phenomenal.

This is a salad I concocted after having something similar at Corner Bakery. I loved the combination of flavors and although I don’t know quite what’s in the original, I think my version comes pretty close.

Southwestern Salad
Yield: 4 servings

3 romaine hearts, cut into bite sized pieces
3 Roma tomatoes, diced and drained in a sieve
½ cup finely chopped red onion
1 clove minced garlic
1 Anaheim pepper, finely chopped
1 bunch cilantro, roughly chopped
1 cup corn kernels
Ranch dressing

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, sauté the corn in a splash of olive oil just until they begin to brown and caramelize and then pour into a large salad bowl. Add in the tomatoes, onion, garlic, pepper and cilantro and toss until combined. Pour over just enough dressing to coat, about 1/3 cup, and mix until coated. You may add more if you prefer, but remember – it adds calories!

Chill corn mixture for 10-15 minutes in the fridge while you cut up your lettuce. Just before serving, toss everything together. If you do this too early your lettuce will become soggy and there is nothing worse than a soggy salad. Drizzle with additional ranch if you prefer, and if you’re not on a low-to-no-carb diet like us, you can also add a few tortilla strips. Also great with grilled chicken breasts.

Ranch Dressing:
1 cup Greek yogurt
1 cup buttermilk, plus more
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp. sea salt
½ tsp. black pepper
1 bunch fresh basil
1 bunch chives

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. You can add more or less buttermilk based on how thick you like your dressing. For the recipe above, the dressing needs to be on the thinner side; coat a spoon, but don’t have it globbed on there. The thinner it is, the farther it will go with less calories and just as much flavor.

Love, KC

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Pea Chowder

I’m not sure how I’ve never had split pea soup in my lifetime. Peas are probably one of my favorite vegetables (despite the high carbohydrates) so it should have been a natural transition, but I suppose my mom must not have liked it and that’s why she never fixed it. Wednesday we saw the end of Tropical Storm Hermine roll through DFW, and when all was said and done we’d had over 9” of rain at our house which left everything soggy and well, blah. At some point I’d picked up a bag of dried split peas so I decided soup was my goal and set off to find a recipe. None of the half dozen I scoured did I have all of the ingredients for and since I’d never actually eaten split pea soup I had no idea how it was supposed to taste. This is my version, and we all loved it. Maybe one day I’ll taste the real thing and adjust the recipe but for now this is pretty tasty.
Pea Chowder
Yield: 8 servings

3 strips thick peppered bacon, diced*
½ cup diced sweet onion
1 clove garlic, minced
3 carrots, diced
4 small red potatoes, diced
1 lb (16oz bag) dried split peas, picked through and rinsed
1 tsp. dried basil
3 quarts water or chicken stock
Kosher salt**

In a large stock pot, sauté the bacon and onion in a generous drizzle of EVOO over medium heat for 5-7 minutes, or until the onion is translucent and the bacon is cooked through. Add in the carrots and garlic and cook for another 2 minutes. *If you don’t have peppered bacon on hand, add 1 tsp. black pepper.

Put potatoes, peas and basil in the stock pot and cover with water/stock. (Depending on your pot you may need slightly more liquid; you want it to be a good 2-3” over the potatoes). Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to medium low. Taste for salt and adjust to your liking. **If you’re using stock, use less salt. The potatoes will naturally absorb the salt so start small and add to taste.

Simmer for one hour over medium low heat, stirring often to keep potatoes from scorching. You may serve as it, or I prefer to run my immersion blender though a couple of times to puree some of the chunks.

Serve with biscuits, like these from Annie's Eats.

Love, KC

Monday, September 6, 2010


In my opinion, ravioli is probably one of the most versatile pastas you can make. With endless filling options you really can’t go wrong.

Over the weekend Brent had smoked several chicken quarters that I really needed to use so that is how I came up with the first filling, smoked chicken and sundried tomato. The second was a basic three-cheese filling that is classic and universally loved. The particular sauce I whipped up was light and full of flavor, a perfect complement for the bold taste of the smoked chicken and the light taste of the cheese.

Smoked Chicken and Sundried Tomato Filling
½ cup sundried tomatoes
½ cup marinated artichoke hearts
1 ½ cups smoked chicken, shredded off the bone (approximately 3 chicken quarters)
2 cloves garlic
¼ tsp. salt
½ tsp. fresh ground pepper

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until well combined and there are no large pieces.

Three-Cheese Filling
½ cup cottage cheese
½ cup ricotta cheese
¼ cup shredded parmesan cheese
1 clove garlic, finely minced
¼ tsp. salt
½ tsp. fresh ground pepper
Fresh basil to taste, finely chopped (I used about 4 large leaves)

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and stir to incorporate.

Tomato Sauce
1 28oz can tomato puree
1 zucchini, grated
1 carrot, grated
1 cup finely diced red onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. fresh ground pepper
¼ cup fresh basil, chopped
1 cup chicken stock

In a stockpot coated with olive oil, sauté the onion over medium heat until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Toss in the carrot and zucchini and continue cooking another 2 minutes, then add salt and pepper. Add in the garlic and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Pour in the tomato puree and basil, cover and simmer over medium-low heat for 30 minutes. Let sit off of the heat for 5 minutes and transfer to a food processor. With the speed on low, slowly pour in the chicken stock until sauce is pureed.

To make Ravioli:
1 batch pasta dough
Fillings of your choice
Ravioli press

If you used the pasta dough recipe above, each dough ball will make one dozen ravioli. Roll the dough until it is thin and translucent, and approximately 12” by 8” in size. You can either cut it in half lengthwise or do like I do and lay the left side of the dough over the ravioli press, saving the right side for the end.

When I made this batch, I did chicken on the left side and cheese on the right – that way I always had equal amounts. It is very important not to overfill your mold; otherwise your ravioli will burst (learned the hard way!) When all 12 holes are filled, fold the right side of your dough over the mold and press down gently with your hands to seal. Then, use your rolling pin to seal the dough securely and “cut” the shapes, pulling any excess dough away. Flip the mold over and gently tap on the counter to release the ravioli.

Place completed ravioli on a well-floured cookie sheet or cutting board to dry for one hour, then flip and dry for another hour. When I made this I ended up with 5 dozen ravioli - not including the 2 dozen I made last night. At this point you may freeze it for later use, or toss it into salted, boiling water to cook for 6-8 minutes. Strain well, toss with tomato sauce and sprinkle with extra parmesan cheese.

Love, KC

Trials of Homemade Pasta

Italian food has always been one of my very favorite things in the world. As I’ve gotten older my tastes have matured and I try not to look down on certain chain restaurants, but to me they are never as great as the stand alone ventures. I have been making my own sauces and such from scratch since I moved out on my own about eight years ago, never looking back at anything canned or jarred again, but I have never been brave enough to try to make my own pasta.

My former in-laws back then were from an Italian family, and so I enjoyed watching them cook. Ravioli was my favorite thing to see done, because there was this cool little press that took all of the work out of it. When I came across that same press at Williams Sonoma a few weeks ago, I begged Brent to get it for me for my birthday – so he did. :-) The box said I needed seminola flour so off to Central Market I went (and also picked up some carob chips and powder, but that’s for another post).

My first attempt at the pasta dough was yesterday. I used the exact recipe on the back of the ravioli press box and it was a disaster. So horribly dry that I couldn’t even roll it out, my arms and shoulders ached with the strain. Once I finally got it as thin as it would go it was so dense it could barely get it filled in the press, it wouldn’t dry, and then it was way too chewy when cooked. Brent and LB both thoroughly enjoyed it, but I think the fillings and sauce just masked the dough.

So this morning I decided to do pasta dough, take two, and get rid of all of the excess filling I’d made. After scouring several different sites I just decided to wing it, and hope for the best. My biggest issue yesterday was that the dough was too tough, my guess being because the seminola flour was not very fine, but since I wanted to try and stay as authentic as possible I decided to do a combination of flours. The recipes below are what I came up with, and worked so far today. The dough was much more pliable and I was able to knead it using my stand mixer instead of my hands.

Fresh Pasta Dough
Yield: about 8 tennis-ball sized dough balls

1 cup seminola flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ tsp. salt
6 whole eggs
4 tbsp. good quality olive oil
4 tbsp. warm water

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine all of your ingredients. Start on low speed, allowing all of your wet ingredients to become incorporated, and then turn to speed 4 and let it go for about 10 minutes, or until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl while turning. It needs to be sticky but only to itself. It it’s too sticky, sprinkle some more flour into the bowl. If it’s too dry, add a more drops of warm water. Something as simple as the weather can greatly affect the outcome of your dough, so I’ve learned.

Once your dough has become a ball, place it on a well-floured cutting board and shape into a log. Cut the log into roughly 8 pieces and wrap each tightly with plastic wrap. Rest the covered dough for a half hour on the counter (do not refrigerate).

After 30 minutes, roll out each dough ball individually until thin and translucent. You will want to keep a well-floured surface so that your pasta does not stick to the counter, and flour often. Once your pasta is rolled out, you can do with it as you chose. I made some skinny noodles, some thicker noodles, and some sheets for lasagna. And then I made ravioli (five dozen to be exact).

Your pasta needs to dry before you cook or freeze it. I simply put a yardstick sprinkled with flour between two of my dining room chairs and it worked great. Once the pasta has dried for about 2 hours you can put it in baggies to freeze or cook right away. Depending on the thickness you will only need to cook it for 1-5 minutes, making sure you drop it into salted boiling water. Salt water flavors your pasta!

So that’s it. Today was much more successful than yesterday. The process can be very time consuming but is entirely worth it, and now I really want a pasta roller to save my arms. Maybe Christmas. :-)

Love, KC

PS Here's a cute shot of Oliver when I accidentally bumped the chair and knocked some pieces down. She was in Heaven. :-)

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Lemon Blueberry Scones

Lately, I've been really into scones. They are super simple to make and always delicious, like a fruity biscuit. All of the recipes I've used have come from Annie's Eats so far - bacon cheddar (our favorite), strawberry, chocolate chip, you name it.

During my last trip to Kroger I bought blueberries for the boys, as I've never really liked them. They were on the verge of going bad so I decided to create a new scone. You see lemon and blueberry combinations just about everywhere nowadays and since I had both, I decided to try it out! These came out incredibly light with just the right amount of lemon flavor, and even I enjoyed them.

Lemon Blueberry Scones
Yield: 9-10 scones

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp. baking powder
¼ cup sugar
Pinch salt
6 tbsp. cold butter, cut into pieces
1 ½ cup fresh blueberries
2 tsp. lemon zest
1 tsp. lemon extract
1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large mixing bowl, toss the blueberries and lemon zest. In a food processor, combine the first five ingredients and pulse to incorporate. Add in the butter and pulse until butter is no larger than a pea. Pour flour mixture over the berries and toss lightly to coat the berries, making sure you don’t burst them. Make a well in the center and add in the milk and lemon extract, then gently fold with a spatula, making sure you do not crush the blueberries. Once all of the flour is absorbed, drop rounded ice-cream scoops of dough onto the parchment paper 2” apart. Depending on the size of your scoop you will get 9-10 rounds.

Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes. Cool in pan and then transfer to a wire rack. Best served warm.

Love, KC
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