Sunday, February 24, 2008

Eggplants and game hens and yams... OH MY!

3 medium yams
1 yellow onion
1 eggplant
1/2 cup lime juice
Extra-virgin olive oil (just keep the bottle out)
Black pepper
2 cornish hens (cleaned, dried, and split in half stem to stern.... spine removed)
2 tablespoons thyme

Preheat the oven to 425 F.

Cut the yams, onion, and eggplant into bite-size (not too small though) pieces, then toss in a good-sized roasting pan. I recommend taking a veggie pealer to the eggplant and yams first, removing every-other strip of their skins.

Throw about 1/4 cup of the olive oil into the pan and gently move the veggies around in it to lightly coat them.

Two words: 1) Salt 2) Pepper. Don't be shy, COVER THOSE VEGGIES!

Drizzle some lime juice over the salted and peppered veggies and put aside.

Coat the 4 halves of the hens in olive oil then attack them with salt, pepper, and thyme.

Install the hens skin-side up, right on top of those veggies in the roasting pan.

Cover the pan with aluminum foil and put in the oven (which should be at 425F) for 20 minutes.

After the 20 minutes, reduce the oven to 375F and continue the hen-sauna for 30 more minutes.

[Insert elevator music here.]

Dinner is ready! Put down those hot-pads and bring the pan right to the table. Drizzle with another dose of lime juice and ENJOY!

***This was my I'm-working-with-what's-in-the-house adaption of a good-looking recipe in my Rachel Rae cook book. I had never cooked with cornish hens before, and it turned out pretty swell. She called for potatoes and leeks and all this other crap that doesn't just appear in my house. So, I guess I just used her for the times needed to get the birds cooked properly. :)

Monday, February 18, 2008

Balsamic Chicken with Pesto Gravy and Bitter Greens

I made this on Valentine's Day to feed the missionaries serving in my YSA ward and my friend Randy who came over too. I was able to make it after work! I got home at 5pm and everyone was there at 6:25pm. Dinner was hot and on the table at 6:35pm!!!

I snagged the recipe from a Rachel Ray recipe book I got for Christmas. Yummy!
("Just In Time"; Pg. 236) MY comments are in brackets.

2 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
4 Tablespoons EVOO (extra-virgin olive oil)
Salt and black pepper
4 Small boneless, skinless chicken breasts
About 6 cups arugula, thoroughly washed and dried [I used regular mixed salad greens and it worked out great.]
Juice of 1 lemon
2 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 Cups chicken stock
1/3 Cup heavy cream or half-and-half [Regular whipping cream works great too.]
1/4 Cup store-bought pesto
Parmigiano-Reggiano shavings, made with a vegetable peeler.

In a bowl, combine the vinegar, 2 tablespoons of the EVOO, and salt and pepper to taste. Add the chicken and turn to coat.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat with 1 tablespoon of the EVOO. Add the checken and cook for 5 minutes on each side.

While the chicken is cooking, in a large bowl combine the arugula, lemon juice, a healthy drizzle of EVOO, and salt and pepper to taste.

Remove the chicken to a cutting board. Add the butter to the skillet, and when it has melted, add the flour and cook for a minute or so. Whisk in the chicken stock and cream and bring up to a simmer to thicken. Remove from the heat and stir in the pesto. [This was the first gravy I've ever made, kinda fun!]

Slice the chicken and arrange on dinner plates. Pour the pesto gravy over the chicken, then top with the arugula and cheese shavings.

[I also lightly fried some sliced eggplant in EVOO with salt and pepper and garnished the plate with them and a fresh lemon wheel. It was a nice touch, and added an extra vegetable to the meal in addition to the salad I threw together... it was a great thing for me too, since I was still on my chellenge to not eat meat, dairy, or eggs. The elders and Randy loved the chicken, I can't vouch for it myself though.]

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Yummy Strawberry Cheesecake

Can't remember where I found this recipe, but it's dang good! I am a cheesecake FANATIC... expect more as the months go by!

3/4 Cup graham cracker crumbs (I like to use vanilla wafers)
2 Tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
1 (15-ounce) container ricotta cheese
1 Cup plain yogurt
1 Cup granulated sugar
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese
4 Large eggs
2 and a half teaspoons vanilla extract
2 Cups strawberries, sliced

1. In a bowl combine graham cracker crumbs and melted butter. Pat into a 9-inc spring form pan; set aside.

2. In a blender, combine ricotta cheese, yogurt, sugar, flour, and lemon juice. Cover and blend until smooth; set aside.

3. In a large mixer bowl, beat cream cheese on medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Slowly add the ricotta cheese mixture, eggs, and vanilla to the cream cheese mixture; beating on low speed until combined. Pour into prepared pan.

4. Bake at 325 F (160 C) for 1 hour, or until the center is nearly set. Cool for 30 minutes, remove the sides of the pan, then cool completely. Chill for 4 to 6 hours. Top it off with the sliced strawberries and -Poof!- you have YUMMY STRAWBERRY CHEESECAKE!!!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Spinach Lasagna III

Not your usual Christmas dinner.
I don't care, I made it anyway.
Sometimes you have to get a break from traditional stuff.
It was a big hit. Can't complain!
PS. I found it on


20 Lasagna noodles
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Cup chopped fresh mushrooms
1 Cup chopped onion
1 Tablespoon minced garlic
2 Cups fresh spinach
3 Cups ricotta cheese
2/3 Cup grated Romano cheese
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil leaves
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 Egg
3 Cups shredded mozzarella cheese
3 Cups tomato pasta sauce
1 Cup grated Parmesan cheese


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

2. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add lasagna noodles and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain.

3. In a skillet over medium to high heat, cook mushrooms, onions, and garlic in olive oil until onions are tender. Drain excess liquid and cool. Boil spinach for 5 minutes. Drain, then squeeze out excess liquid. Chop spinach.

4. Combine ricotta cheese, Romano cheese, spinach, salt, oregano, basil, pepper, and egg in a bowl. Add cooled mushroom mixture. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed for 1 minute. Lay 5 lasagna noodles in bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish. Spread one third of the cheese/spinach mixture over noodles. Sprinkle 1 cup mozzarella cheese and 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese on top. Spread 1 cup spaghetti sauce over cheese. Repeat layering 2 times.

5. Cover dish with aluminum foil and bake in a preheated oven for 1 hour. Cool 15 minutes before serving.

6. ENJOY!!!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake

I found this recipe on and made it for Christmas dinner (dessert) at my house this year. It was so yummy!!!


1 1/2 cups crushed gingersnap cookies
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
1/3 cup butter, melted
2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup white sugar, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 eggs
1 cup canned pumpkin
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

In a medium bowl, mix together the crushed gingersnap cookies, pecans, and butter. Press into the bottom, and about 1 inch up the sides of a 9 inch spring form pan. Bake crust 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Set aside to cool.

In a medium bowl, mix together the cream cheese, 1/2 cup sugar, and vanilla just until smooth. Mix in eggs one at a time, blending well after each. Set aside 1 cup of the mixture. Blend 1/4 cup sugar, pumpkin, cinnamon, and nutmeg into the remaining mixture.

Spread the pumpkin flavored batter into the crust, and drop the plain batter by spoonfuls onto the top. Swirl with a knife to create a marbled effect.

Bake 55 minutes in the preheated oven, or until filling is set. Run a knife around the edge of the pan. Allow to cool before removing pan rim. Chill for at least 4 hours before serving.
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Thursday, January 17, 2008

Edible (and yummy!) PB Play dough

1 Cup Powdered Sugar
1 Cup Powdered Milk
1 Cup Creamy Peanut Butter

Mix well and you have non-toxic edible play dough that tastes good too!!! Children love it!

Water-Free Steamed Veggies

That's right, you read it correctly! No more soggy veggies from too much water while attempting to steam them!

In a large, deep skillet layer 2 onions sliced on the bottom. On top of the onions place your veggies-to-be-steamed and place a lid on top. You don't want to rush this, so keep the heat on low... you're risking it at medium.

Time is up to you. It's trial and error. I like my green beans lightly steamed, crunchy if you will... but I like my broccoli on the softer side.

Through this, the onions lose their offensiveness, and their moisture steam the vegetables above. My favorites to do this with are fresh green beans and broccoli (not at the same time).

Happy steaming!

No More Spaghetti

Grab a spaghetti squash, stab it a few times with a knife, and throw it in the microwave for 30 or so minutes.

No worries, it's not brain surgery, but it may seem like it when you cut the squash open!

Take the seeds out and scrape the squash into a large bowl and -Poof!- you have low-carb spaghetti!

The spaghetti squash has little flavor, much like plain spaghetti.

Don't be scared, it's really awesome under your favorite spaghetti sauce!