Melissa's Table

Experiments with Pinterest recipes!

Chicken And Asparagus Penne September 8, 2012

(Read this post at its new home here.)

 

I let my husband, Matt, choose this one. He’s been hassling me to cook something “with noodles” ever since I let him choose last time. Plus, I think he wanted to redeem himself after that disaster. His second choice surprised me. I was expecting him to choose one of the Asian dishes I’d pinned. Honestly, I’ve had this recipe pinned for a while. I think I pinned it because the picture looked so wonderful. I was less impressed with the actual recipe and would probably have never tried this one. Of course, I found out later that my husband chose because of the picture too. Let’s cook!

The Pin: Chicken And Asparagus Penne by GoodnessGracious.com

Difficulty: 3 (1 = Easy, 10 = Hard)

The ingredients.

FOOD!

A few things here:

  1. I used chicken thighs instead of the recommended chicken breasts. When I went to the store to pick up the chicken, the breasts were close to double the price of the thighs. Ridiculous! In general, I prefer thighs anyway, so there you go.
  2. I halved everything in this recipe except the chicken. When I cook, it’s typically for my husband and me. We’re terrible about eating leftovers for more than a day, so I try not to cook too much at a time unless I’m going to freeze some. That and I only had 8 oz. of asparagus instead of one pound the full recipe requires.
  3. The recipe itself does not tell you how to season the chicken. The blogger chose to use Lawry’s. I’ve never tried Lawry’s, didn’t have it in the house, so I sort of made up my own seasoning. I used salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano and parsley. Like the blogger I sauteed the chicken on the stovetop.

So basically, you cook the chicken, boil the pasta and nuke the asparagus, throw it all into a baking dish with some oil, top with cheese and broil for 5ish minutes. The recipe didn’t tell me to do this, but when I put oil in the baking dish, I used the oil from the pan that I sauteed the chicken in. I thought it might give the pasta more flavor. I also added a few pinches of salt to the mix before broiling. It looks a bit like this.

Cheesy!

You know when you let your husband choose a dish and he only looks at the picture and doesn’t bother reading the recipe and then is disappointed when you serve him dinner? Yeah, that sort of happened.

For me it was better than I was expecting. For Matt is was a complete disappointment. Based on the picture, he was expecting there to be a white or cream sauce. Still, it was good. Not great but good, though we both agree it felt like three separate components mixed together. The dish didn’t mesh. There was nothing binding the three main ingredients together. It would have been just as good separated: a piece of chicken with a side of asparagus and cheesy pasta. The sauce that Matt was anticipating probably would have done this. Then there’s the cheese. The recipe urges you to broil until the cheese is “nice and crunchy.” Mine may have been more on the crunchy side than necessary, but we both would have preferred it just melty, no crunch.

So like I said. A solid good. Something to try if you’re looking for something easy and different.

Final Rating: 6 (1 = Bad, 10 = Great)

 

Crockpot Chicken Noodle Soup August 21, 2012

(Read this post at its new home here.)

 

If you frequent my home page, you’ll know that I had an ear issue this past week. Let’s just say I haven’t had my ears professionally cleaned in 32 years. Happily, this is mostly resolved because earaches are not good times! But, just as my ears were clearing, my husband came down with a tummy bug. He’s better now, and so far my son and I haven’t caught it. (Fingers crossed!) While he was sick, the only thing he wanted to eat was soup, so, being the kind and loving wife I am, I went out twice the first day and bought him Chicken Noodle Soup. On my second outting, I realized we were wasting money. I could make soup just as tasty and healthier to boot. And so I did.

The Pin: Crockpot Chicken Noodle Soup by The Quilt Ladies (via Creatively Domestic)

Difficulty: 3 (1 = Easy, 10 = Really Hard)

There are actually two versions of the recipe on this page. I went with the crockpot version because it seemed easier, and I’m all for simplicity when I cook.

Yup, looks like soup to me!

This recipe calls for “one 15 oz can of whole kernel corn, drained.” While I tend to stay true to the recipes I use for this blog, I deviated a bit when it came to the corn. My husband and I love fresh corn on the cob, but neither he nor I particularly enjoy corn when it’s cooked into things. So I left it out. Feel free to put corn in your soup. I’ll allow it.

I gathered the ingredients together and prepped my veggies the night before.

I don’t normally take many pictures during prep, but this looked kind of pretty.

I eyeballed the measurements when chopping, so this is probably slightly more than half a cup of each. The plan was to throw everything into the crockpot when my son got me up at the butt-crack of dawn the following morning. And he did. He woke me up around 6 a.m., so I started crocking around 6:30. The instructions are short and sweet, “Add everything but the noodles and cooked chicken to the crock pot on Low for 5-6 hours, the last hour turn on High, and add noodles and chicken.” Simple right? Perhaps too simple for me. The only seasonings are salt and pepper. I really had to restrain myself from putting in garlic or onion powder or basil or… I think you get the point.

For the chicken, the recipe calls for “2 cups cooked chicken chopped or 2 cans canned cooked chicken.” I try to avoid canned food in general, plus canned chicken is kind of gross. I could have bought a rotisserie chicken, but I opted to cook my own. Since there are no chicken cooking instructions, I made up my own. I baked six boneless skinless thighs for about 45ish minutes on 300. I wanted them almost done, so they wouldn’t overcook in the crockpot.

Seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and basil.

Around 11:00 I added the cooked, diced chicken and the egg noodles into the crock pot and turned it up to high. At this point I also added an extra cup of chicken broth (I used six cups total instead of the recommended five) because I was worried the noodles would soak up all the the liquid. This happened to me on my last crock pot soup adventure. That batch of lentil soup came out more like soggy mush than soup. Anyhoo, an hour later, I had soup!

Left: Mine – Right: The Quilted Ladies

It was really good though I suppose it would be difficult to make bad chicken noodle soup. It was exactly what my husband’s crampy upset stomach needed. I’m glad now that I restrained myself and didn’t add any extra seasoning because the flavor of the broth was perfect. The green onions and the white onions along with a bit of salt and pepper gave it the perfect flavor. The vegetables were soft, but not mushy. Next time I cook this I would add more carrots and celery. We like a lot of veggies in our soup. My husband felt the chicken was a little bland. Either I didn’t season it well enough when I baked it, or the seasoning came off in the broth. Either way, this is probably my fault, not the recipes. Still, this wasn’t overly noticeable since the broth was so flavorful. The only real issue was that the egg noodles were slightly mushy. I don’t think they needed the full hour on high in the crock pot. I would say put the chicken in for the last hour and the noodles in for maybe the last 30 minutes.

Overall this was a really good chicken noodle soup recipe. I’d make this one again.

Mmmmmmm.

Final Rating: 7 (1 = Bad, 10 = Delicious!)

 

Coconut Curry Noodles August 15, 2012

(Read this post at its new home here!)

 

One of the things I miss about living in a large, dynamic city like Atlanta is the food. Atlanta has sooooo many restaurants. And I don’t mean places like Applebees or Ruby Tuesdays. I mean quality authentic non-chain hole-in-the-wall restaurants. Whenever we had friends or family visit, we had a wealth of eating establishments in which to partake. From the Richard Blais’ famous Flip Burger to the lesser known, yet always busy, Thumbs Up Diner, we never wanted for a place to eat in Atlanta. A favorite of mine, was a Thai restaurant called Amaryn’s*. My sister-in-law brought us here on our first trip to the city. I thought it was good but nothing special. We ventured back a few weeks later, and that’s when I discovered their Chicken Panang Rice Bowl. This dish is possibly one of my favorites of all time. The sauce (or perhaps you’d call it a broth?) was thick and creamy. It was the perfect amount of sweet and spicy. I’ve never found another panang or any sweet curry dish quite like it. Thus, when I came across this dish, I was hoping that maybe… just maybe… I’d find a similar flavor.

The Pin: Coconut Curry Noodles by Considering the Campbells

Difficulty: 4ish (1 = Canned Soup, 10 = Turducken)

Even though I’ve been eyeing this pin for a while, it was ultimately my husband who chose it. Let’s see how he did! The ingredients.

Olive oil not pictured here.

The olive oil is not pictured above because the list of ingredients on the website didn’t include olive oil, so I wasn’t aware I needed it until I’d already snapped my picture. I guess you’ll just have to use your imagination.

There were a few vague points in this recipe. I had to use a bit of common sense. For example, when using the skillet, the site does’t specify how hot the pan should be. I went with medium. It’s hard to go wrong with medium heat, right? Also, the ingredient list calls for “a handful of baby carrots.” Well, is that a figurative handful or a litteral handful? And if so, who’s handful? Mine, my husbands, my sons? Maybe I’m being persnickety (yeah, I just went there), but to be fair it was unclear. I decided to match the amount of carrots to the amount of peppers.

Did I do good?

Just a side note on the carrots. The only reason I gave this recipe a  difficulty level of 4 instead of a 3, was those damn carrots. Let’s just say my knife skills are… lacking. I have a tendency to cut the corners of my fingernails when doing “fancy” knife work. (I suppose that’s better than cutting through my finger though.) Not to mention, my knives are awful. They were the $29.99 special over five years ago! Hells yeah! I know, I really need to upgrade. So, thin slicing carrots is a difficult task for me.

The recipe called for 1/4th cup of soy sauce. Now, when I’m testing these pins, I try to be as true the recipe as possible. Having said that, I only used 1/8th cup of soy sauce. I like soy sauce, but 1/4th a cup sounded like way too much. I figured I could always add more later if it needed it.

Despite my substandard knife skills (I didn’t cut my finger nail!) and the recipe’s imprecise directions, I somehow managed to complete the dish. And here is the final product.

Left: Mine – Right: Considering the Campbell’s

I’m no plating master, but I think it came out pretty. But how did it taste? Have you ever eaten a dish that seems okay at first but tastes progressively worse after the first bite? It’s one of those, at least for me. I started out thinking it was okay, but about 1/4th of the way in, I just couldn’t finish it. I hate wasting food, but I had to dump it. My husband just plain didn’t like it. I think he ate maybe two bites.

How best to describe it? It tasted like slightly spicy chicken broth with soy sauce in it. In a way, it was almost bland. The coconut milk was almost non-existant. I could barely taste it. The carrots and peppers were nice. They added a nice crunchy texture to the rice noodles. My husband and I both agree that the cilantro looked pretty but didn’t go with the dish.

Needless to say, Coconut Curry Noodles didn’t match up to the Chicken Panang Rice Bowl. This is definitely something I would not make again.

Final Rating: 2 (1 = Terrible, 10 = Awesome)

*In Googling the link to Amaryn’s I’ve discovered they’ve closed. QQ.

 

Easiest Peanut Butter Fudge August 11, 2012

(Visit this post at its new home here.)

 

For this post, I was planning on telling a lovely story about how much I love chocolate, and how much my clearly deranged husband hates it. Hence, the peanut butter fudge instead of chocolate fudge. But instead I’m going to complain.

Before I pin a recipe, I always click on the link. I like to check out the ingredients and, when it’s a blog, I enjoy reading what the blogger has to say. So it annoys me greatly when I pin a promising recipe only to come back a week later to find this:

AMG REPORTED!

Really? Because I visited the site and found no spam or inappropriate content. In fact, I clicked on this particular recipe at least twice. Once when I discovered it, and once when I made it; however when I went to click on it just a moment ago, I received the grey Pinterest screen of death. This is the second time this has happened to me. I went in search of the original link and found it. I still couldn’t find any spam or inappropriate content. It’s just a forum with a recipe that I want. Because I hate having broken pins laying around on my Pinterest boards, I did a search and found the recipe at Allrecipe.com. It’s exactly the same as my inappropriate pin. It even uses the same image. I’m guessing the original link that I’d pinned was copied directly from Allrecipe.com. Is that a reportable offense or are  people just dicks who get their jollies reporting things for no real reason?

Okay, I feel better. Now that that’s out of the way. Let’s get to the foods!

The Pin: Easiest Peanut Butter Fudge by AllRecipe.com

Difficulty: 2 (1 = Opening Potato Chips, 10 = Baked Alaska)

Let’s get makin’!

Sooooooooo much sugar!

It’s simple to make. The instructions are super short. “Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in brown sugar and milk. Bring to a boil and boil for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat. Stir in peanut butter and vanilla. Pour over confectioners sugar in a large mixing bowl. Beat until smooth; pour into an 8×8 inch dish. Chill until firm and cut into squares.”

Here is the the warm mixture freshly poured. It looks a lot like I dumped peanut butter into a pan.

The waiting is the hardest part.

I covered the pan and popped it in the fridge. It took forever to cool. Okay, it didn’t really take that long, but I was ready to eat it warm with a spoon. Eventually, it cooled and was ready to nom!

Left: Mine – Right: AllRecipe.com

There’s nothing like peanut butter flavored sugar. Just one piece and I think I almost went into a diabetic coma. Yeah, it’s just that good. I’m not certain, but it might be addictive. You have been warned, it’s super sweet, but it’s one of those sweets that’s difficult to stop eating. All day I’ve been popping into the fridge for a piece. Bottom line, if you’re on a diet, you may want to give this one a miss, but if you’re not and you like sweet things, make this! Make it now!

Final Rating: 9 (1 – Terribad, 10 – Mouthwatering)

 

Crockpot French Dip August 8, 2012

(Visit this post at its new home here.)

 

I’ve always been a huge fan of roast beef sandwiches, particularly the French dip. There’s something warm and inviting about taking a hot roast beef sandwich and dipping it into a savory au jus. I think the first French dip I ever had was from Arbys when I was roughly eight or nine years old. I was in love. Since then I’ve had far better versions of the sandwich. I’ve made French dip burgers (very good FYI), but I’ve never attempted the sandwich itself. Until now…

The Pin: Slow Cooker French Dip Sandwich by Baking Bites

Difficulty: 4 (1 = Toast!, 10 = Souffle)

As always, the ingredients:

Yeah, that’s a $5 bottle of wine. You wanna fight about it?

Why two pictures, you ask? Thanks to my husband, I slept in that morning, and, in my haste to get the ingredients in the crock pot so they cook for the full 8ish hours, I nearly forgot to take pictures. (You can see the beef broth has already been used.) And when I did take the picture, I left out a few key ingredients. It would be awfully messy trying to eat this without the rolls.

It’s pretty simple to make. Salt and pepper the meat and dump everything (excluding the bread and cheese of course) into the crock pot. It looks like this:

Into the crock pot!

Have I mentioned how much I love my crock pot? Well, I do. It’s a recent addition to my kitchen. I received it as an anniversary present from my mother just a few months ago. I love that I can throw everything in it and forget it until dinner time. Even better than that, it doesn’t turn my house into a sauna in the summer like my oven does.

But I digress. So, everything was in the crock pot and crocking away. During my 8ish hours of waiting, I read a few of the comments on the recipe’s site, and I began to fret. Most of the reviews were favorable, but then I read the following. ” It tastes nothing like a french dip. Instead, it’s almost like eating a shredded pot roast on a french roll,” says Heike. Hmmm. Well that doesn’t sound terrible, but I wanted a French dip sandwich. Fingers crossed that Heike was wrong, I continued to wait.

When it came time to take the meat out, it smelled wonderful. I let it rest covered for fifteen minutes.

Crock potted for 7 1/2 hours.

After letting it rest, I “sliced” it. Here’s where the plan fell apart… literally. The recipe tells you to “slice” the beef. I did my best, but it basically fell apart as soon as my knife touched it. It was less me slicing and more it collapsing.

“Sliced”

I was worried this would affect the quality of the sandwich, but I persevered! I put the sliced beef back into the crock pot where the au jus (which is just a fancy way of saying beef juice) was still percolating. Twenty minutes later it was ready. Voila! The finished product!

I didn’t realize I got my son’s toy in the picture.

First, that is not a French roll as the recipe calls for. My local commissary didn’t have any fresh baked French rolls, so I went with Kaiser rolls instead. Second, I don’t know what kind of French dips Heike has been eating, because this tasted a lot like a French dip. In fact, it tasted exactly like a French dip, a very good French dip. The meat was tender and flavorful. It had soaked up the flavor of the liquid. I’m not a big fan of red wine, so I was was afraid it would be too strong. I needn’t have worried. It was the perfect addition to the meat and the au jus.

Even my husband who is not a big roast beef eater, enjoyed his sandwich. If you’re a French dip or roast beef fan, I highly recommend this recipe.

Final Rating: 9 (1 = Yuck!, 10 = Awesome!)

 

Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread August 5, 2012

Filed under: Baking,Cooking,Eating,Food,Pinterest,Uncategorized — MelGag @ 2:51 am
Tags: , , ,

(View this post at its new home here.)

 

If you follow my blog (yeah, all three of you) then you may remember this picture from last time.

See that biscuit? That’s my next blog, so stay tuned!

Good news. It’s next time!

The Pin: Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread by Une Deux Senses

Difficulty: 4 (1 = Easy, 10 = Way too effing hard to even try.)

Let me start off by saying, I miss Whole Foods. (This is going somewhere I promise!) My husband is in the military, and we were stationed at Fort McPherson in Atlanta, GA for a little over a year. There was a Whole Foods about 15 minutes from our house, and we did our grocery shopping there most weeks. I love Whole Foods for it’s selection of organic food. I also, love their pre-made foods. We’d usually pick out something for dinner that night. We loved the chicken skewers and the ribs. Aside from those, one of the best things we bought there was jalapeno cornbread. So good! It was just the right amount of spicy and sweet all rapped up in a tasty cornbread package. Pure awesome. When I found this recipe, I was really hoping for something similar to that awesome.

The ingredients:

Let’s cook!

The recipe says that it makes 18 biscuits. Since I was only cooking for two people, I decided to half everything. Strangely enough it made 10 biscuits instead of nine. The whole halfing everything business worked out just fine until I got to the eggs. The full recipe calls for three eggs. Halfing an egg is not easy, but I made it work. Here they are, pre-oven.

Left: Mine – Right: Une Deux Sense

Needless to say, I went with the muffin version. I put the appropriate amount of cheese in the muffins, but I forgot to put the extra on top. To be fair, I was running on about four hours of sleep that day thanks to a fussy teething baby. Plus, my son was not cooperating with my cooking plans. But we persevere! Even without the cheese on top, I’d say they came out looking pretty good.

Left: Mine – Right: Une Deux Sense

Just a warning, the recipe says if you’re making muffins it should take about 15 – 20 minutes. This is either wrong, or my oven is crap because mine took 25ish minutes. As for the outcome, I’m torn. This is another one of those Pins I really wanted to like. And I did… sort of. The taste was good. Just good. Maybe it was the ratio of flour to cornmeal, but they weren’t cornbread-ish enough for me. They tasted more like muffins with a hint of corn. The flavor was decent, but it wasn’t awesome. They were also too salty for my taste. Let me be clear. I enjoy salt. I nearly always cook with it, so when I say something is salty, it’s pretty salty. At first I thought that I had neglected to half the salt, but the original recipe calls for 2 teaspoons of salt. I know I didn’t put more than one teaspoon into the mix.

If I make these again, I’d half my halfed salt. But chances are I won’t make this recipe again, mostly because my husband didn’t like them. (He says he didn’t like the jalapeno flavor.) So there you have. A solid Good.

Final Rating: 4 (1 = Bad, 10 = Explosion of Yumm!)

 

Cajun Chicken Stuffed with Pepper Jack And Spinach August 1, 2012

(View this post at it’s new home here.)

Who doesn’t enjoy a good chicken dinner? “Good,” of course, being the qualifying word. Chicken is great! It’s cheap and easy to cook. The problem is, at least for me, it gets boring fast. I grew up eating a lot of chicken. I mean, a lot of chicken. It was, and probably still is, one of my mother’s favorite things to cook. That being said, I went though a period of time where I was sick of chicken.

I’m no longer sick of chicken, but I still look for ways to keep it new and interesting. Stuffed chicken breasts are a great way to do that. Sure you can buy them pre-made in the freezer section, but they’re expensive and loaded with… well, all that bad stuff that goes into frozen food. Thus, I decided to try out this pinned recipe:

The PinCajun Chicken Stuffed with Pepper Jack Cheese & Spinach by Cooking Creation.

Difficulty Rating: 5  (1 = Opening a Twinkie, 10 = Rack of Lamb)

I gathered my ingredients. One of the items on the list is “lots of toothpicks.” “Lots of toothpicks” is not pictured below because I neglected to pick up toothpicks and had to run back out shortly after snapping this picture.

That red powder in the tupperware is my Cajun seasoning.

Basically, you shred the cheese, mix it with the spinach, beat some chicken flat (I’m resisting the urge to make a “beat your meat” joke. Oops, too late!), roll it up and season. Oh, and don’t forget to use your “lots of toothpicks” to keep it all together. For the Cajun seasoning, I used Cooking Creation’s own recipe here. Instead of Italian breadcrumbs, I used panko partly because I like the texture better and partly because it’s what I had in the house.

Here’s what it looks like pre-oven:

Mmmm, raw chicken breast.

Forty-ish minutes later, I had the final product:

Left: Mine – Right: Cooking Creation’s

Left: Mine – Right: Cooking Creation’s

Maybe mine didn’t look as pretty, but it was tasty! I’m always worried about drying out chicken breasts, but these were tender and moist. The Cajun seasoning gave it a nice kick. Just the right amount of heat and flavor, though I’d probably add more salt next time. Unfortunetely, the filling was a bit of a mess. The recipe tells you to cook the breasts seam down, but even though I toothpicked the crap out of that chicken, most of the cheese leaked out. You can see in the picture above that about 90% of my cheese wound up on the pan. You still get the overall flavor of the pepper jack and there are remnants in the spinach which gives it a nice creamy consistency, but I was really looking for an explosion of molten cheesy awesomeness. Next time, I might try cooking it seam up. Here was our dinner…

See that biscuit? That’s my next blog, so stay tuned!

Final Rating: 7.5  (1 = Never Again! – 10 = Yummm!)

I’d make this recipe again. My husband and I both enjoyed it.