I'm Just Here To Cook…and Eat!


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Sometimes You’re Just In The Mood For Fresh Baked Cookies…

I bake tons of cookies at Christmas. And come that time I will share my all-time favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe. But sometimes, on a random night, I just want a plate of warm, gooey cookies and either a glass of milk or mug of hot chocolate. That sometime was tonight. And even for the best of chefs, it’s okay to cheat sometimes! Because honestly, at 9:30pm at night, when you have to be up for work in the morning, do you really want to throw together cookie dough? Or would you rather break off some pre-made refrigerated dough and bake it in the oven for 10 minutes? It’s okay – buy the pre-made dough for those cold but want to be cozy nights. 🙂 I do!

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Jambalaya

I’m taking a trip to New Orleans soon and I can’t wait to eat there! My favorite thing about traveling is trying the local foods and I’ve been reading about New Orleans lately and plotting my course of action. New Orleans is very well known for Cajun/Creole style cooking and I can’t wait to try everything from jambalaya to gumbo to beignets to crawfish to shrimp and grits – I just hope I have the time! It’s gotten me so in the mood, I’ve been craving jambalaya. So I decided to try my hand at making it before I am hopefully blown away at an amazing version in New Orleans. I read through some recipes and ended up combining and tweaking recipes from Emeril Lagasse and Anne Burrell, two great chefs.

ingredients
1 smoked chicken andouille sausage, sliced into rounds
1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
Salt and pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp worcestershire sauce
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 bay leaf
1 tomato, diced
1 cup white rice
2 cups chicken stock
12 shrimp, cleaned

directions
In a heavy bottom pot over medium heat, add the oil and brown the sausage on both sides. Remove. Sauté the onion and pepper seasoned with salt and pepper in the oil and fat drippings, about 7 minutes until softening. Add the garlic, paprika, Worcestershire sauce, cayenne pepper, and tomatoes and sauté for about 3 minutes. Add the rice and toast 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add the bay leaf and the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer once boiling and let the rice cook. Once the rice is just about tender, and almost all the liquid is gone, add the shrimp and finish cooking the rice, about 7 minutes. Enjoy!

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Steak Fajitas

“(Oven timer goes off) ‘My fajitas!'”

I love this episodes of my favorite show Friends. It’s the episode “The One Where Ross is Fine”. You know the one… where “the only thing weird would be if someone didn’t like Mexican food because I’m making fajitas!” Heehee.

But seriously, I love fajitas. And I love making them. I’ve been having myself a Friends marathon lately so I guess it got me in the mood for them. I make mine with steak, but feel free to substitute with whatever protein you’d like!

ingredients
1 lb petite sirloin steak
Juice of 1 lime
1/3 cup oil
1 garlic clove crushed
2 tbs Mexican chile powder
1/4 tsp dried oregano
Salt and pepper
1 yellow onion, sliced
1 yellow pepper, sliced
1 cubanelle pepper, sliced
1 jalapeño, sliced
1 tomato chopped
Sliced olives
Shredded cheddar cheese
1 avocado sliced
Burrito wraps

directions
Marinate the meat in a mixture if the lime juice, oil, garlic, 1 tbs of the chili powder, oregano, salt and pepper, for at least 8 hours.

Broil the meat until desired doneness.

Meanwhile in a large skillet cook the peppers and onions on medium high heat with the other tbs of chili powder, salt and pepper. Char the vegetables a bit and cook until soft, about 10-15 minutes.

When the meat is done, let rest before slicing, about 10 minutes. Once sliced, add to the pan with the peppers and onions and toss to marry the flavors.

Pick whatever toppings you like. I chose olives, cheddar cheese, avocado and tomatoes. Warm a wrap about 25 seconds in the microwave. Build you fajita and enjoy!

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Deconstructed Breakfast for Dinner! Sausage and Eggs with Potatoes

This meal really does encompass breakfast but in dinner form. It’s sausage and peppers and onions, over potatoes, with a poached egg on top. How did I come up with this you ask? I really have no idea! It just came to me. First pairing the sausage and peppers with the potatoes, then another time adding the egg! It’s delicious, as well as high in protein, potassium and vitamin C. And breaking the poached egg having the yolk running down into the sausage and potatoes makes it taste smooth and silky. Hope you enjoy this one!

ingredients
Extra virgin olive oil
3 yellow potatoes, peeled and sliced
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp oregano
Salt and pepper

2 chicken garlic sausages (from Trader Joes!), sliced
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 small yellow onion, sliced
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 tsp chili pepper
Salt and pepper

1 egg
1 tbs white vinegar

directions
In a large nonstick pan, drizzle 1 tbs olive oil. Peel the potatoes and slice them thin into rounds.

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Place the slices in a single layer in the pan. Season with the garlic powder, oregano, salt and pepper and cook on medium high heat.

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When the potatoes begin to brown, flip them over. Brown the other side and cook through until soft.

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Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, add a tbs of oil and add the sausage slices similar to how you did the potatoes, in a single layer.

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Brown one side, then flip and brown the other side – a few minutes in each side. Once browned, add the onion, peppers, chili pepper, salt and pepper.

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Cook about 5 minutes, tossing. Add the wine and deglaze the pan. Reduce the wine by half.

Meanwhile, boil a small pot of water. Once the water is boiling, turn off the heat and add the vinegar. Slowly add the egg to the water and let poach for about 4 minutes. Remove from the water with a slotted spoon.

Layer the potatoes, then the sausage and peppers onto a plate. Top with the poached egg. Enjoy!

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A scrumptious re-post of Chicken Apple Sausage

There is still a hint of burnt chocolate smell in my apt (which really isn’t bad), I had a long, long day at work, and it is miserable outside. Absolutely miserable – no joke, pretty sure there was a tornado within a mile of my office today. The Jets are on at 8:40PM (didn’t Monday night football used to start earlier??), and the Rangers play at 10:30PM (I would like to propose that East and West Coast hockey teams do not play each other unless it is a weekend! – I’ll be asleep before the puck drops, I mean come on and give a girl a break! 🙂 ) So all of that means, I may just curl up with some of that yummy pumpkin bread for dinner (hmmm… pumpkin puree and walnuts count as fruit and protein, no?).  But honestly, I actually kept thinking about the Chicken Apple Sausage I posted about earlier this year. Since it is now the season for apples, and delicious fall cooking, I thought I’d bring this one back to re-read. It’s not a Throw Back Thursday or Tuesday or whatever the lingo is, but How I Met Your Mother is on in half an hour, so maybe I’ll just heat up some soup while you all enjoy this read. 🙂 Happy Monday!

https://imjustheretocook.wordpress.com/2013/02/26/apples-arent-just-for-fall/


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Grandma’s Chocolate Pumpkin Bread

Reminiscing with my grandma’s almost lost apple pie recipe made me think of her pumpkin bread. When I was a kid, my grandmother would make batches and batches of pumpkin bread and chocolate pumpkin bread, wrap them in wax paper and tinfoil, and give them to all her kids. She would do the same with her banana bread. We’d get 2-3 loaves – the first was always eaten within the day, the second not much after that, and the third we’d freeze to try to make it last. (It woud be unfrozen the next week!). I decided to dig this recipe out since it’s the season (and week) of fall cooking. The smell of the pumpkin bread filling my apartment on a Sunday afternoon brought me back to running around my grandma’s house with my cousins while these baked. The bread is perfect for an afternoon snack or for breakfast.

What I’d like to teach you all today, besides this recipe, is that there are always mistakes in cooking. Yes, baking you need to be precise, but what I mean is even the best of cooks will have errors or flops or meals that go right in the trash. I was actually watching Guy’s Big Bite this morning on the Food Network and he said something similar. I have thrown away a few meals myself over the years. Today, despite my years of watching my mom melt chocolate to make Christmas molded chocolates every year, and her telling me all the time if you’re going to melt the chocolate in the microwave you need to do it 30 seconds at a time, and stir it after each 30 seconds. Because the chocolate may not look melted, but once you stir it, it will be. And if you don’t stir it, and keep heating it, it will most definitely burn. ALWAYS listen to your mom. Today, I did not. 🙂 I had some burnt chocolate on my hands, forgetting those very lessons, and rushing through that step in the recipe. Here is an example of what the burnt chocolate will look like.

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Major fail!! So, after opening the windows and my balcony door, turning on the fans, and moving the smoke alarm, I started over with the chocolate, carefully remembering what my mom said all those years. After 30 seconds, stir, 30 seconds, stir… I had beautifully melted chocolate.

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After you melt the chocolate, continue on with the recipe as it cools.

ingredients

3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tbs cinnamon
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 1/2 cups oil
4 eggs, beaten well
2 cups pumpkin
2 squares unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled

directions

Pre-heat the oven to 350. Grease 1 round tube pan or 2 9″X5″ loaf pans.

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and walnuts in a large bowl and mix well. Make a well in the center, and add the oil, eggs, and pumpkin mix with the chocolate. Mix until well blended. Spread into pans.

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Bake at 350 for 60-70 minutes. Cool in pans. Once cooled, remove and wrap in wax paper and tinfoil. Enjoy!

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Who Says Appetizers Can’t Be For Dinner?

Sometimes I just feel like appetizers for dinner. Especially on a Friday after a long, long, exhausting week. There isn’t a rule that says you can’t do this! So just do it! 🙂 Go to the supermarket and pick out your favorite meats and cheeses, some olives and a nice, fresh loaf of bread. Tonight, I also added some grilled shrimp (which I marinated with oil, red pepper, salt and pepper) and some marinated artichokes (these I made by marinated artichokes in oil, salt and pepper). Slice everything up, including an apple which pairs perfectly with cheese, and make an oil dipping sauce for the bread with salt, pepper, salt, red pepper and rosemary. Pour a glass of wine, pop in a movie, and enjoy your appetizer filled Friday night!

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