Enchanting Recipes & Everyday Life In General

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Screen shot 2011-05-11 at 10.43.11 AMI think I’ve briefly mentioned my cooking club to you all before.

Every Monday morning (well, probably a little closer to afternoon than morning), I meet with some friends (usually 4 or 5 of us total) for cooking club. We all pick a house, a time (then, mentally set the time back a 1/2 hour or more), and a recipe that serves 4.

We all share our chosen recipe through email, usually Sunday night–sometimes Monday morning, then tell each person whether we want their meal or not.

I tally up my partakers, and set out shopping for my recipes ingredients multiplied by however many people want my meal.
For instance, if 3 people responded yes to my recipe–I shop for 4 times that recipe (myself, plus the 3 others). 


I keep my receipt, of course, then divide my total cost by 4 (or however many people I shopped for)–and that’s how much each person owes me! It ends up coming out to $7-$12 per meal–although this week, I got a fantastic $2 meal!

With this system–I don’t really have to go grocery shopping ever, I don’t have to make dinner, we have TONS of food (plus leftovers!), and it only costs around $40 a week (for 4 meals–l usually only end up getting 1 or 2 meals since there are only 2 of us–which brings it to under $20 a week for us!)

Get it?

We meet at the designated house on Monday morning afternoon, at the designated time (that’s been mentally pushed back at least a half hour by all), and we all cook our designated chosen recipes.

We all bring containers (which I usually forget, oops!) for the meals we’ve ordered from everyone, for easy transport back home.

It’s genius, really.

That way, if I’ve chosen to get everyones recipe, I end up with 4-5 meals and I don’t have to cook for the rest of the week! It’s sort of like a I have my own personal chefs.
Insert Advertisement: Need a personal chef? I am know a recent graduate who is looking for clients!

We even have time while our meals are cooling to do fun activities… Like go to a greenhouse and pick out lots of pretty flowers and plants!
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With all the fun we have, you’d think we never had any time to get cooking done.
But we do.
We sure do.
And it’s delicious!
It’s fun to see what other people normally have for dinners, and to experience their cooking. It’s fun to try things you never would have thought to make yourself.
I’ll try to share at least one recipe a week from cooking club…Maybe I’ll make a Cooking Club Monday post every week.
Yes. I will. I will dub every Monday as Cooking Club Monday. 
But this week, and this week only, it will be Cooking Club Wednesday.
This week I have for you:

Sausage Tortellini Soup

This recipe was made at cooking club, so these are the only steps I had to take at home in preparing the meal = Excuse for lack of pictures.

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I told you I’d show you a picture of my pretty blue pot with its pretty blue lid.

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See? Pretty.

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Yummmmm!
Enjoy.

Wow! I’m astonished!

I won the NoshGirl Chef Challenge!
Can you believe it?!

Thanks everyone for your all your votes… You guys pulled through!
And thanks to Serena at Big Apple Nosh for hosting the challenge–It was a lot of fun!

I’ll share my prize with you all once it comes!

Woot Woot!


Just a reminder! Voting is open at Big Apple Nosh for the NoshGirl Chef Challenge! Be sure to vote for this recipe on that blog here!
Just leave a comment in the comments section (again, here).


Thanks!!!

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Let me pause for a moment so we can all drool over this:

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Droooooooooooool.
It seriously tastes as good as it looks.
Just ask Paul, he literally applauded while eating.

I made this dish for a challenge I entered on a blog I enjoy reading… It’s called the NoshGirl Chef Challenge. Serena, over at Big Apple Nosh chooses 3 different bloggers, gives them 2 ingredients to cook with, then everyone votes and chooses 1 winner. (Like my counting there? 3,2,1.)
(Yeah, so I’m gonna need you guys to vote for me starting on Monday!)

Sounds fun, right?
Heck yea!
It’s like a bloggers take on Chopped.

The ingredients for this challenge?
Avocado & Cornmeal

After several days on writing down any ideas that popped into my mind of uses for cornmeal and avocado (yes, I dreamt about it too), I finally decided (with the Boo’s input) to make those bad boys up there.

Cornmeal-Crusted Fish Tacos with Avocado Tartar Sauce

(Printable Version)

The items you will need for 4 servings:
2 firm white fish fillets
1 avocado
2 cups cornmeal
1 lime
cumin
salt & pepper
paprika
chili powder
chipotle chili puree
taco sized flour tortillas
1 egg
tartar sauce

For garnish:
grilled corn, cut off the cob (we grilled out last night, so I snatched a leftover cob)
shredded red cabbage
shredded cheese (I used chipotle white cheddar)
sour cream
cilantro
lime

Phew–that’s a long list.

This is how it’s done:

This is the fish I used…

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I would have preferred to use mahi-mahi, but I couldn’t find any. You can really use any kind of firm white fish you prefer.
If it’s frozen–thaw it by putting it (in a sealed bag) in a bowl of cold water. It only takes about 20 minutes to thaw.

There, thawed.

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Once thawed, cut it into strips and throw it into a medium sized bowl.
To the bowl, add the juice of one lime, 1 tablespoon of cumin, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1 tablespoon of fresh, chopped cilantro.

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Let me say, it’s really nice to be able to walk out my back door and get my cilantro from this:

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Isn’t she getting so big!?

Anywhooo…
Give the fish a stir, fulling coating it in all the goodness..

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Then set it aside.

While that’s soaking up the goodness, grab a big plate and put the cornmeal on it.

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To the cornmeal, add some salt (about 1 tablespoon), and some pepper..

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Then add about 1 tablespoon of cumin, 1 teaspoon of paprika, and 1/2 teaspoon of chili powder

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Oooh, like a volcano.

Mix it all together with your fingers

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Then, in a bowl, crack one egg and add a splash of milk to it. (no milk? water will do!)

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Whisk it up with a fork.

Now we’re ready to go! Woot woot!
Let’s preheat the oven to 375˚ F.

To crust your fish, take a piece and roll it in the cornmeal

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Then the egg wash…

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Then back to the cornmeal.
Lay it on a baking sheet line with foil.

Repeat this until they are all coated. Make sure they aren’t touching on the baking sheet–you want them to get nice and crunchy all the way around.

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Stick them in the fridge for 10 minutes, then bake them in the preheated oven for 10 minutes, or until the crust is crunchy and the fish is flaky.

Next, prepare the avocado tartar sauce.
Cut an avocado in half.

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Remove the pit.

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Scoop out one half of the avocado into a small bowl.
Mash it up and mix it around.

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Add 1/4 cup prepared tartar sauce (or just mayonaise will suffice).
Then add the juice of one lime.
1 teaspoon of salt.
A couple dashes of cumin.
And a spoonful of chipotle pepper puree (I had a can of chipotle peppers, I used the juice from inside the can.)

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We like it hot around here, so I added 2 more spoonfuls of the chipotle (we still felt it could have used a little more heat.)

I’m getting so excited now, we’re getting close to the end!!

By this time, your fish should be done and it’s time to start assembling!

Spread a little bit of sour cream onto the middle of a tortilla, then layer with some shredded red cabbage, the cornmeal-crusted fish, grilled corn (off the cob), some shredded cheese, diced avocado, some chopped cilantro, and lime juice. Serve with the avocado tartar sauce.

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You’re in for a treat!!

A beautiful, refreshing meal. The fish is nice a crunchy, the tartar sauce tangy and spicy–a nice balanced mouthful.
This stuff is for real.

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Remember, the voting starts tomorrow! I’ll post a link then, so make sure you all go vote!

I’m backkkkk!

Well, I actually got back on Monday night–but things have been quite hectic since then. As it turns out, our power was out the entire week we were on vacation. No good. Very no good.

It was really really no good on Tuesday morning when I threw entirely everything away from my rotting, stinky refrigerator.

Next weeks grocery bill is going to break the budget, that’s for sure.

But alas, vacation was splendid–it was nice to see everyone that we only get to see every half a year or so (the Hubs & I are both from Michigan so most of our family and friends are still there…)
My plants all survived the week–this year, unlike last year, I remembered to find them a sitter.

So, are you drooling from the preview of the recipe I’m about to share with you? I am. I actually made it a few weeks ago–and the thought of it still has me weak at the knees.

Portobello Ravioli with Smoky Sun-dried Tomato Sauce

Inspired by Ravioli de Portobello from Olive Garden 


(Printable Recipe)
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What you’ll need:

For the raviolis:
1 batch of pasta dough
1 pound of portobello mushrooms
1 onion
1/4 cup butter
salt, pepper, garlic powder, and oregano
For the sauce:
2 cups of milk
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup butter
8 ounces of smoked gouda
1 cup grated parmesan
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
For the ravioli:
You’ll need 1 pound of portobello mushrooms–I used the baby ones.
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To wash mushrooms–I usually run them under cold water for a second, just to get them wet, then with a paper towel, just wipe off any gunk or dirt. They will probably still look dirty, but as long as they are free of dirt, they are fine. You will never be able to scrub them entirely white.
Chop the mushrooms into a fine dice…
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Annnd…keep chopping…
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You’ll need to do the same with a small onion.
This would have been a nice time to have a food processor. If you have one, please, by all means, use it. It’s worth it.
Heat a medium fry pan on medium high heat. Once the pan is hot, add 1/4 cup of butter. When the butter is melted, add the onion stirring until translucent, then add the mushrooms. 
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Cook the mushrooms and onions until they are soft. Season this mixture with salt, pepper, garlic powder (or fresh chopped garlic–I was rushed), and oregano–to taste. Set this aside to let it cool.

With the pasta dough (recipe here), I left you with your dough rolled into a ball, resting.

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Uncover your dough, and start rolling it out. If it’s sticky, dust the countertop with flour (it’s okay to use a lot). Cut the dough into 4 sections–this will make rolling much, much easier.

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At this point, I started to use my pasta machine to roll the rest of the dough. If you don’t have one of those–just keep rolling!  You want your dough to be relatively thin–about the thickness of a quarter.

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Keep rolling, rolling, rolling…Keep that pasta rolling…Rolling, rolling, rolling…Roll outtttt.

When your dough is ready–lay it out in a sheet on the counter. Spoon tablespoon sized scoops of the filling onto the dough in a grid-like pattern.

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With a finger, brush water or egg yolk in the seams.
Place an equal sized sheet of dough on top of your filling-mounds.

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Carefully, start pressing the two layers of dough together around the mounds…

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With a pizza cutter (or a knife), cut the ravioli into squares.
Seal each individual ravioli–pressing out all the air pockets.

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You may to, then, trim the edges so the pieces are more uniform in shape.
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Tada!

To cook these–heat a large pot of water. Bring it to a rapid boil and throw in a large handful of salt. I cannot stress two points enough: LARGE pot. LARGE handful of salt.

You need the large pot so the raviolis have room to swim around and not stick to each other.
You need a lot of salt in the water to season the pasta. The water should taste like saltwater. This really makes a difference, I promise.

These will only need to cook for about 3-4 minutes.

For the sauce:

Git yer gouda…

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And shred it. All of it.

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I want to tell you a secret about this gouda.

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I was shopping for my gouda–looking in the fancy cheese section of my grocery store. There they had an 8 ounce block of Boar’s Head Smoked Gouda for $8.99. $8.99! For a half a pound!

Then I thought about something…
I thought, “Hmm…We used to get Boars Head Smoked Gouda at work–and it came in a big block that you have to slice like a deli does…I wonder if the deli here has it too?!”

So, I wandered over to the deli counter–and lo and behold, they had a big ole block of smoked gouda. And guess what?! It was $8.99 for an entire pound! That’s half the price!

I asked the kind, deli-sir to put the slicer as thick as it would go and slice me a nice chunk of the cheese. He rang it in–and it was on sale!
So here it is, I got .62 pounds of this cheese for $4.95, instead of .5 pounds of the same cheese, just individually wrapped, for $8.99–in the same grocery store.

I should be an extreme couponer. Except without the coupons. Just the brains.

I also grated about 1 cup of parmesan cheese.

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Then I chopped up some sun-dried tomatoes to have them ready.

Next, I heated my sauce pan and melted my butter.
Once the butter was melted, I added the flour.

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Stir the butter and flour around until it forms a clump.
Yes, a clump. That’s the best word I can think of to describe it.

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Once in clump state, slowly start adding the milk.
I added about 1/2 cup at a time.

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Make sure the milk is entirely mixed in before adding more.
This will prevent lumps.
It’s a slow process, but it will be soooo worth it when you sauce is velvety and smooth–not lumpy and floury.

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You should end up with a thick, smooth cream that tastes really gross.
So lets make it taste better!
Add in the grated cheeses–save a little of the parmesan for sprinkling later

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Also, add in the dice sun-dried tomatoes.
Stir in some salt and pepper, as well as garlic powder, until it tastes how you like it.

This sauce is absolutely delicious.
Drool…..

Cook your raviolis–then just dump gobs and gobs of sauce on top.
This will be the best ravioli you’ve ever had.
No, seriously. It will be.
Like, I licked my plate. I really did.

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Yum.


I apologize for my lack of posts as of late.

The Boo and I took an impromptu trip to Michigan this week. We’re still here, but we’ll be home soon. (I’m not posting dates because I’ve recently become one of those people that’s a freak about not telling anyone how long we’ll be away, we could pop at home ANYTIME–so don’t even try to break in. 🙂 )

But, I promise, we will return home soon and I will continue my regular posting.
And when I do…

Yummm. Do not fret, it will come soon!

No, no. I haven’t forgotten about you guys–promise! It’s just been a really busy week. I haven’t forgotten to take pictures of my cooking, though. I just haven’t had time to post what we’ve had for dinner the rest of the week.

I left off with Monday when we had delicious Scallops & Pasta. On Tuesday night we ended up going to our friend’s house for dinner. Then, Wednesday, I broke we broke our no going out to dinner deal and went out to dinner. Boo, us. But, in my defense, when you’ve had a long week by Wednesday, you deserve some good comforting Mexican food. Right?

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So, back to Tuesday. We went to our good friend’s house and scarfed down an Italian Feast! Phil made us all a delicious baked ziti–and he shared his top secret recipe with me! So, while I don’t have step by step instructions for you, I do have a scrum-diddly-umptious recipe for a rather simple and satisfying dinner!

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Baked Ziti Made by Phil Brock. Recipe from Allrecipes.com

Ingredients

  • 1 pound dry ziti pasta
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 2 (26 ounce) jars spaghetti sauce
  • 6 ounces provolone cheese, sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups sour cream
  • 6 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

  1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add ziti pasta, and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes; drain.
  2. In a large skillet, brown onion and ground beef over medium heat. Add spaghetti sauce, and simmer 15 minutes.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Butter a 9×13 inch baking dish. Layer as follows: 1/2 of the ziti, Provolone cheese, sour cream, 1/2 sauce mixture, remaining ziti, mozzarella cheese and remaining sauce mixture. Top with grated Parmesan cheese.
  4. Bake for 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until cheeses are melted.


Yumyumyum. Delicious and simple. Serve with garlic toast and a caesar salad. Perfect weeknight dinner!


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Outtake: While I was setting the timer…

I should have Pork Tenderloin with apples & leeks and cauliflower gratin for you tomorrow (or Monday)…Until then, I leave you with a brain-teaser :

At 7 a.m. a high-speed electric train moving 90 mph leaves New York heading for Chicago. At 8 a.m. a train running 110 mph leaves Chicago heading for New York. The distance between the two cities is 700 miles. The weather and the wind speed is exactly the same for both trains. Since neither train experiences any delays, when the two trains meet which one will be closer to New York?






Last weekend I was able to FINALLY visit my best-best-best friend Claire and her family in Texas. Paul had a “business” trip to Texas, so I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to get out of here and go visit my bestie.

Claire’s husband, Stephen is in the Army and althought they are from Michigan (like me!) they are stationed at Fort Hood in Texas. I had so much fun visiting Claire, Stephen, and their precious 16 month old, Rylee–and also got to learn all about Army, Army life, and Army lingo. Unfortunately, the only pictures I managed to snag of Claire were of her picking wedgies–so I’ll save her the embarrassment of posting those.

While visiting, Claire treated me to one of my absolute most favorite dinners from our childhood, Chicken Tetrazzini. Claire’s mom always made THE BEST chicken tetrazzini, but she only made it when someone died or for birthdays, so it was always a rare, special treat. Until last weekend, it had been more than five years since I had had this delectable dinner–but it’s amazingness was not forgotten by me.

So, without further adeau, I present to you:

Chicken Tetrazzini recipe adapted from Marilee Ludwick

What you’ll need:
1 lb spaghetti noodles
2 cans cream of chicken soup
16 ounces sour cream
2-3 chicken breasts, boiled and shredded
2 cups shredded parmesan cheese
salt and pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon garlic powder

Boil your pasta and your chicken
Meanwhile:
Mix the chicken soup and sour cream in a bowl. We also added a small can of mushrooms–your choice. You could even add peas, beans, asparagus, or any other vegetables you like.
What a mooch!
Banana’s. Yummy!
Oh. Sorry. Distractions. 
Back to the food!
Strain your s’ghetti
(WHAT? A man in the kitchen?)
Shred your chicken.
Add it all to the bowl, along with your seasonings, and stir until combined.
Dump it into a 9×13 baking dish, and top with the shredded parmesan.
Then, just pop it in the oven at 350˚ uncovered for about 30 minutes, or until bubbly and brown…
Like this!
YUM. 
You WILL NOT be disappointed with this dinner.
I PROMISE. 
So good.
SO so good.
Yum.