I'm Just Here To Cook…and Eat!


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Mexican-themed Soup

Soup is so comforting. I’ve been eating a lot of chicken soup lately so I thought I would try to change it up a bit. I had egg noodles still left from the beef stew I made a last week. And for some reason when I thought to myself “oh that would be good in soup!” I also thought about black beans as a protein in my soup, which made me think of the roasted corn I had in the freezer from TJ, which then inspired me to go Mexican themed. Sometimes I have no idea how my brain works! But I’ll tell you, this came out good! Here’s what I did.

ingredients
2 cloves of garlic, smashed
1/4 yellow onion, sliced thin
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 cup white wine
32 ounces chicken stock
1 1/2 cup uncooked, no yolk egg noodles
1/2 cup frozen roasted corn
1 tbs jarred salsa
1/2 cup black beans
Salt and pepper

directions
Sauté onion and garlic seasoned with red pepper, salt and pepper in oil for about 5-7 minutes. Pour in wine and cook down. Pour in chicken stock and bring to a boil. Once up to a boil, add in pasta and cook until pasta is al dente. About 5 minutes in to cooking the pasta, add the corn, salsa and beans. Add more salt and pepper, if needed. Enjoy this easy and quick, yummy soup – perfect for a quick weeknight dinner!
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Yellow Cake with a Cinnamon and Sugar Swirl

Sunday afternoon baking led me to making a cake to make me smile. Baking isn’t for everyone, especially completely from scratch. I’ll admit I’m not the best baker. And I will take help from a box every so often (don’t be ashamed of this! Some can’t even do this!). But I love baking from scratch – especially since I know what ingredients are going in! But one thing to know if you’re not a baker is, baking needs to be precise. It’s like science. And if you don’t follow a recipe exact it will alter your final product completely.

Today I made a yellow cake with a cinnamon sugar swirl and a sugary icing. Sort of reminded me of a cinnamon roll in a way! I followed a recipe for the cake but made up the rest. It came out delicious and comforting. Totally buy a yellow cake box if you prefer and skip down in the recipe. But if you have the time and patience try this from scratch! Here’s what I did.

Yellow Cake
recipe from Better Homes and Gardens: The New Cookbook, 14th edition, copyright 2007, Meredith Corporation

ingredients
3/4 cup butter
3 eggs
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cup milk

directions
Allow butter and eggs to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Grease and flour a bundt pan and set aside. In a bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a mixing bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer in medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Gradually add sugar, beating until well combined. Beat 2 minutes more. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Alternately add flour mixture and milk, beating on low speed after each addition just until combined.

Stop recipe here and continue below.

Cinnamon Sugar Mixture
Combine in a bowl 1 cup packed brown sugar and 1 tbs cinnamon. Set aside and continue below.

continuation of directions
Pour 1/3 of the batter into the bundt pan. Layer in half of the cinnamon sugar mixture. Pour the next third of the batter over that layer. Then add another layer of the cinnamon and sugar with the remainder of the mixture. Pour on the remainder of the batter. You may need to spread the batter with a spatula to cover the entire layer.

Bake in the oven for 30-33 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

To cool, remove the pan from the oven and leave the cake on the pan for about 10 minutes, resting on a wire rack. After 10 minutes, run a knife around the edges and flip onto the wire rack to cool completely.

Once cooled, make the icing and drizzle over the cake. Here is the recipe for the icing.

icing
To make the icing, combine 3 tbs powdered sugar, 1 1/2 tbs milk and 1/4 tsp vanilla.

Enjoy!
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Lamb Two Ways

Lamb is a tricky meat. Most people don’t like it. It’s has a gamey taste, and unless cooked well, will be very distinct. Lamb is a favorite of Greeks. It’s cooked at every holiday and a lot of times in between. The smell of lamb roasting in the oven screams Christmas and Easter to me. It’s such an enveloping smell – as soon as you walk into a home with the lamb roasting you know you’ve walked into the holidays. I’ve posted before about the gyros I make after lamb filled holidays so you’ve heard me talk about this Greek-style, slow roasted lamb goodness before. Today I’ll share that recipe with you as well as a lamb stew recipe. I know not the typical “two way” you expect to see on a restaurant menu – these two dishes wouldn’t be served together! But let’s face it, winter is never ending so we all need a new stew recipe, and Easter is just around the corner. So here you go!

Slow Roasted Greek-Style Lamb my family’s way

ingredients
1 bone-in leg of lamb, 5-8 lbs depending on how many people you are serving (don’t forget the lamb will shrink!)
5 lbs potatoes, peeled and cubed
5 cloves of garlic, sliced in half
4 additional garlic cloves, smashed slightly
3 lemons
1 cup extra Virgin greek olive oil
1-2 cups chicken broth
Oregano
Salt and pepper
4 plum tomatoes, seeded and diced

directions
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Trim away most of the visible fat and silver skin. When finished, you’ll want to insert the garlic cloves into the lamb. To do this, use a pairing knife and cut a little sliver into the meat just large enough to stick the garlic clove into it. This will help infuse the meat with garlic flavor. Do this in 5 different spots on each side of the lamb with the sliced garlic. Drizzle a bit of the olive oil on to each side of the lamb and rub it in. (Total oil shouldn’t be more than 1/4 cup). Season both sides with oregano, salt and pepper.

In a roasting pan, add the potatoes, the remainder of the oil, 1 cup of the chicken broth and lemon juice from the 3 lemons. Mix. Spread the potatoes to the side to add the lamb to the middle of the pan. Add one of the 4 additional garlic cloves to each corner. Season the potatoes with salt and pepper. Then add the diced tomatoes around the pan. If the liquid in the pan doesn’t reach to about half way up the lamb, add more chicken broth.

Slow roast in the oven for about 5 hours, turning the lamb over every hour. Serve with a nice loaf off crusty for dipping and a beautiful Greek salad. Enjoy! And don’t forget to keep scrolling for the next recipe!
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Lamb Stew

ingredients
1 3-5 lb boneless leg of lamb
3 garlic gloves, crushed
1 onion, sliced
1/4 cup red wine
1 can whole tomatoes
1/4 cup beef broth
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 tsp oregano
1/4-1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 lb egg noodles

directions
Trim the fat and silver skin off the lamb and cube into about 1 inch pieces.

In a large Dutch oven or sauce pot, brown the meat in stages. Once browned, add back to the pot with the garlic and onion. Stir for about 3-5 minutes to get the garlic and onion to begin browning. Deglaze the pot with the wine.

Add the tomatoes, broth, cinnamon stick, oregano, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Cook on low for 2 hours. Every so often, stir and break up the tomatoes slightly as they begin to soften in the sauce. Serve over egg noodles. Enjoy!
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Pork ala my Pops

This pork dish was created by my dad. Before my dad retired he had two specialties: his meat sauce and English Muffin pizzas. Most times when my mom wasn’t home to cook, he leaned towards the pizzas. Now don’t get my wrong, they were good! But I think one time my mom had to work late so many days, even my dad didn’t want to see another English muffin! So when he retired and wanted to start dinner for my mom before she got home from work, he had to add a few more dishes to his line-up. And he even started experimenting with ingredients! This is one of those dishes. Here’s what he did, modified slightly.

ingredients
4 pork loin chops
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup chicken broth
1tbs maple syrup or honey (I use honey, dad uses syrup)
1tbs Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp garlic powder
Pepper
2-3 carrot, peeled and diced
6-8 baby golden potatoes

directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Make a marinade with the soy sauce, broth, honey, Worcestershire sauce, red pepper flakes, garlic powder and pepper. Marinate the pork for 30 min.

Put the carrots and potatoes in a baking dish and bake for about 30 minutes with some of the marinade. After 30 minutes add the pork and remainder of the marinade and bake another 30 minutes until the pork is cooked through.

Enjoy!
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Beef Stew for a cold night

Well, more snow expected in the northeast tomorrow! No, I’m not kidding. What’s funny is when you see rain in the forecast now. I laugh. Because I know it will end up as snow. Saturday night when I saw rain for Tuesday, I laughed and turned to my dad…. “Watch it will be a foot of snow”. Yesterday morning sure enough it turned to a forecast of 1-2 inches of snow. My dad said “well you were sort of right!” And I said “just wait”. Sure enough today it changed to 3-5 inches. Okay not the foot I predicted, but still enough to be a nuisance (what my dad sang out the window to the snow that fell Saturday night!).

Now if you live in the northeast you know that there is no where left for the snow to go. Seriously. I went to TJ today and literally half the lot was covered in snow mounds. You can’t see pulling out of lots bc the mounds are so high, you can’t park on the streets without being half way into the street and let me tell you, people are rude! You’d think a thank you would be in order when the path of a sidewalk is only large enough for one person so I wait in a driveway for the person waking towards me to pass! But what makes me feel better, is the beef stew cooking on my stove right now. This is a re-post, but a good one for a night like tonight! It’s cold and the snow is coming… the stew will warm my core and make me smile. Maybe even a funny movie will make it’s way on my tv. It’s still early enough to make this one tonight if you like a late dinner! Or make it tomorrow when the snow is falling. Enjoy!

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Chicken Thighs with Artichokes

Another week, another snow storm. And it hasn’t been the best week as it is. The good thing about this week was working from home today, and possibly even tomorrow! And while this meal could be possible to make after work if you want to eat late, it was nice to have in the oven early and with the snow coming down!

This meal was created partly by accident. Over the weekend, I bought a package of boneless skinless chicken thighs as well as a package of chicken cutlets. I stuck them both in the freezer. Yesterday, I thought I took out the chicken cutlets when indeed I did not! So I had to figure out what to do with these thighs. This can be done with any type of chicken really, but I like dark meat, especially for slow cooking in the oven. Enjoy this one and stay warm if you live on the east coast!

ingredients

6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
3 tbs olive oil
Salt and pepper

3 shallots, sliced
2 garlic clove, crushed
1/2 tsp rosemary
Salt, pepper, red pepper flakes
1 cup white wine
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 tbs butter
1 8oz package frozen artichoke, defrosted
1/2 lemon, sliced

directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Salt and pepper the chicken thighs and brown in the pan on both sides. Transfer to a baking pan.

In the sauté pan, sauté the garlic and shallots with rosemary, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes to taste. After 6-8 minutes add the white wine and deglaze. Reduce the wine by half and add the chicken broth. Add the butter and melt. Pour sauce over the chicken in the pan. Add the artichokes and lemon slices. Bake for an hour until the chicken is cooked through.

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Serve with rice pilaf and a vegetable. I chose asparagus since it looked good in the store! Enjoy!

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No bake, from scratch, Shrimp Mac And Cheese

Yet another snow storm moving in tonight means craving something comforting. I had left over shredded cheddar cheese and chopped onions left over from food goodness from this weekends football festivities so decided Mac and Cheese sounded perfect. I sort of made this up with the left over ingredients adding in some protein (shrimp) and vegetable (peas) to attempt at some healthiness…. Maybe?

Either way it was good! And I didn’t bake it. Maybe this is a big no no. But I feel like it dries it out. Maybe it’s me? Maybe I don’t do it well? Somebody tell me if there is a huge reason for the baking process that I’m missing!!

Oh and the best part? You can totally make this in one pot 🙂

Now in exchange for how I made this, who wants to come shovel out my car tomorrow? Haha. Stay warm and enjoy!

ingredients
3/4 lbs pasta of your choice of shape
1/4 cup red onion, diced
1/2 cup frozen peas
6 shrimp, peeled and deveined
1tbs butter
1 tbs flour
1 cup milk
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Salt, pepper, red pepper flakes
1/4 cup scallions, diced

directions

Boil a pot of salted water. Cook the pasta until just shy of al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain.

In the same pot, sauté the shrimp with oil, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes to taste, about 3-4 minutes in each side. Remove and cut into bite size pieces. Add the red onion and sauté about 5 minutes until soft. Add the frozen peas and cook another 5 minutes. Remove the onion and peas from the pan.

In the same pan, add the butter and melt. Whisk in the flour and cook 1-2 minutes on medium. Slowly whisk in the milk and whisk very quickly until the milk thickens. Once it begins to thicken, stir in the cheese and let melt.

Once the cheese has melted, season with salt and pepper. Then add in the pasta, shrimp, red onions, peas and the scallions and stir to combine. Remove from the heat and let rest for about 5 minutes. Stir again and serve!

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