Monday, November 29, 2010

Chicken Marsala from Olive Garden.......

Kyle and I LOVE LOVE LOVE Olive Garden. Well, the other day we went with my mom. Mom and I split the chicken marsala. Well, we fell in love and I couldn't wait to get to the grocery store and make it. I searched the internet (which I do for most of my recipes) and looked for a chicken marsala recipe. Well, I found something even better.....the Olive Garden website had the recipe. LIKE THE REAL RECIPE! I couldn't wait! I was nervous about it because it called for marsala wine. I had no clue where to get marsala wine....the wine store? the liquor store? the grocery store? Well, I was roaming around Walmart and came across the marsala wine! Hooray I wouldn't have the awkward treck to the liquor store. I gathered together the mushrooms and headed home. The recipe seemed easy and so I got to work. We didn't have chicken breast, but we did have chicken thighs. Mom said that it wouldn't matter.

Chicken Marsala
Serving Calculator (2-24 servings)
cook: 30 min(s)
4 ea Chicken half-breast, boneless & skinless
1/4 cup(s) Flour ("Wondra" preferably)
1/2 tsp Salt
Pepper to taste
1/2 tsp Oregano, dried
4 Tbsp Oil
4 Tbsp Butter (or margarine)
1 cup(s) Fresh Mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup(s) Marsala wine
Pound chicken breasts between sheets of "Saran Wrap" until about 1/4" even-thickness
Combine flour, salt, pepper and oregano, blend

Dredge chicken pieces in the flour, shake off excess

Heat oil and butter in frying pan over medium heat.

Cook the breasts on medium heat for about two minutes on the first side, until lightly brown

Turn breasts over to second side to cook, add the mushrooms around the chicken breasts

Cook breasts about two more minutes, until lightly browned on the second side, stir the mushrooms
When lightly browned, add Marsala around the chicken pieces, cover and simmer for about ten minutes

Transfer to serving plate.

I served them over mashed potatoes. I poured the marsala sauce over the chicken and mashed potatoes! :) Also I tried making homemade mashed potatoes. I honestly like the instant mashed potatoes better. Haha!

Things I would have done differently:

1. Next time, I want to try stuffed chicken marsala (stuff with 3 cheeses)
2.I would use chicken breast
3. I would have doubled the marsala wine (1 cup instead of 1/2)
4. I would have added more mushrooms (probably 2 cups instead of 1)

Playing with marinades

Mom and I played with some marinades the last visit to the local grocery store. I had never used marinades before in my recipes so I was excited. We used one on chicken for stir fry. It was fabulous because it only had to marinate for 15 minutes. We used the white wine and herbs marinade (sorry I don't remember the brand.) We cut up the chicken and added it into a skillet and starting cooking it. We then added onions and green peppers and sauteed them. Next we added squash, okra, mushrooms, and other veggies. We cooked it until everything was cooked. (around 15 min...ish) We served it with Texas toast. I was pleased with how good it turned out.

We also got southern whiskey marinade that we used with salmon. We bought salmon from the local grocery store and marinaded it in the fridge for about an hour. (again it could have been done in 15 min). We pan seared the salmon about 5 minutes on each side...until it was light pink (instead of bright pink). We served it with a mixed veggie stir fry (any veggie can be put into a stir fry) and sister shubert's rolls. :) I was thankful that it was super easy and delicious. Honestly, I was nervous about the "whiskey" marinade but it ended up turning out good....not my absolute fav....but good.

The stirfry!

Salmon cooking :)

The plate:

On other news........KYLE ACCEPTED A JOB!!! Just this morning, he got the phone call and we are thrilled. He will be working in a nearby town at a bank that he had previously worked for. Hooray for no more long distance :) Thanks for the prayers. It has def been a long haul, but it is over!

Another hooray is......I took the GRE and made the score that I needed to. Hooray!!! I can now fill out my packed and hopefully be enrolled in grad school by spring quarter.

I am super excited about what God is doing. He sure has a lot up sleeves :)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

BBQ pizza and caramel pecan cheesecake!

I was a little ambitious this week and decided to make 2 homemade dishes! I made the pizza for my parents and decided to make homemade crust. I haven't ever made homemade crust, but I figured it couldn't be that hard. I found this awesome recipe on The Pioneer Woman's blog. I made the crust in the morning and let it rise around 5 hours. If I did this recipe again, I would have let it rise overnight. I just got really excited about the recipe and jumped the gun. The pizza turned out good, but the crust wasn't very crunchy (which I like). Like I said, I should have let it rise overnight. Other than that, the pizza was really good. Here is the recipe....

Recipe: Basic Pizza Crust
Prep Time: 5 Minutes | Cook Time: | Difficulty: Easy | Servings: 12

1 teaspoon Instant Or Active Dry Yeast
1-½ cup Warm Water
4 cups All-purpose Flour
1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
⅓ cups Olive Oil

Preparation Instructions
Sprinkle yeast over 1 1/2 cups warm (not lukewarm) water. Let stand for a few minutes.
In a mixer, combine flour and salt. With the mixer running on low speed (with paddle attachment), drizzle in olive oil until combined with flour. Next, pour in yeast/water mixture and mix until just combined, and the dough comes together in a sticky mass.Coat a separate mixing bowl with a light drizzle of olive oil, and form the dough into a ball. Toss to coat dough in olive oil, then cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and set it aside for 1 to 2 hours, or store in the fridge until you need it.
Note: it’s best to make the dough at least 24 hours in advance, and 3 or 4 days is even better.
When you are ready to make the pizza, grab HALF the pizza dough (recipe makes 2 crusts) and squeeze the dough toward thebottom to form a nice, tight, pulled ball. You can roll out the pizza with a rolling pin if you’d like, but sometimes it’s just as easy to throw it around and pull and stretch till it feels right. And when the crust is nice and thin, lay it on an oiled baking sheet or pizza pan. Drizzle a little olive oil on the dough and spread it with your fingers. Very lightly sprinkle some salt on the crust.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Top your crust with your toppings of choice. Then bake for 15 to 17 minutes, or until crust is golden brown and toppings are bubbly.

Recipe: CPK’s BBQ Chicken Pizza
Prep Time: 2 Hours | Cook Time: 15 Minutes | Difficulty: Easy | Servings: 12

1 whole Recipe For Pizza Crust (mine Makes Two Crusts)
2 whole Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
½ cups Barbecue Sauce
Olive Oil, For Drizzling
Salt For Sprinkling
16 ounces, weight Fresh Mozzarella Cheese, Sliced Thinly
½ whole Red Onion, Cut In Half And Sliced Very Thin
Chopped Cilantro, to taste
Preparation Instructions
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Salt chicken breasts on both sides, then place in an ovenproof dish. Pour BBQ sauce over the breasts and turn them over to coat. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until chicken is done. Remove from oven and cut into a fine dice. Set aside.
Increase oven temperature to 500 degrees.
Roll/stretch out one pizza crust. Lay it on a sheet pan drizzled with olive oil. Drizzle a little olive oil on the crust, then sprinkle on a little salt.
Spoon a couple of tablespoons of extra BBQ sauce on the crust and spread it evenly. Top sauce with half the sliced mozzarella. Sprinkle on half the diced chicken and thinly sliced red onion.
Sprinkle again with a little salt, then bake for 15 to 17 minutes, or until crust is golden brown and toppings are bubbly.
Remove from the oven and sprinkle on plenty of chopped cilantro. Cut into squares and serve immediately. Repeat with other crust and other ingredients, or save for another time.

I made the caramel pecan cheesecake for a Thanksgiving dinner with my Sunday School class. It turned out delicious and my mom didn't even wait to cool it before she dug in. I was excited about this one. Also mine made 2 cheesecakes! Heres the recipe. Once again I got this recipe from The Pioneer Woman. So heres the recipe.
Pecan caramel cheesecake

3 cups Graham Cracker Crumbs
½ cups Butter, Melted
½ cups Granulated Sugar
3 packages (8 Oz. Package) Cream Cheese, Softened
¾ cups Granulated Sugar
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
2 whole Large Eggs
½ cups All-purpose Flour
¾teaspoons Cinnamon
¼ teaspoons Nutmeg
1-½ cup Pecan, Halves, Lightly Toasted*
2 cups Good Quality Caramel Syrup (homemade Is Best)
Preparation Instructions

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
In a large bowl, mix together all ingredients for the crust until moist. Press into a 10-inch springform pan and set aside.
For the filling, in a stand mixer, whip cream cheese and sugar together until smooth. With the mixer on low, stir in vanilla and eggs, one at a time. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and stir again. Whip in flour, cinnamon and nutmeg. Scrape sides and stir again if necessary. Pour filling into prepared crust and smooth the top. Bake for 40-45 minutes until cheesecake is set and hardly jiggles, if at all, when moved. Remove from the oven and cool completely to room temperature.
Arrange pecan halves on top of the entire cheesecake in concentric circles. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Once ready to serve, run a knife around the edges of the cheesecake and remove the sides of the springform pan.
To serve you can either drizzle 1 cup of caramel syrup over the entire cheesecake and cut (with extra syrup to serve along with) or cut first and drizzle individual pieces.

Thanks again Pioneer Woman for 2 great recipes!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Trial and Error.

Kyle came in town for our friend's wedding and of course I put him to work in the kitchen. Lol! My mom was about to get rid of her pumpkins and so I decided that we should make pumpkin bread. I have always wanted to make it with "real" pumpkin that we scooped out ourselves. So Kyle scooped out the pumpkin while I mixed the dry ingredients. We decided not to put the nuts and raisins in it because we don't care for them (hey...we thought it would be okay). We also 1/2ed the recipe because it called for 4 cups of flour and 4 cups of thats a lot of stuff for 1 bowl. So we made quite a few adjustments. Kyle did a great job scooping out the pumpkin and then putting it into the mixer.....

Here are is the ingredients mixed together with the 2 cups of pumpkin....

The completed bread....

So since we did a lot of adjustments, it didn't turn out very good. I think we should have added some extra sugar to make the "puree" and some water (we did add a little milk to the mix). It was edible, just a little bitter and not delicious. Overall, it was fun, but I wouldn't make it again the same way.

Pumpkin Bread

5 cups Flour, Lightly Fluffed
4 cups Sugar
4 teaspoons Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon Cloves-forgot to put in...hehe
3 teaspoons Cinnamon
4 cups Pumpkin Puree' (canned Or Fresh)-I used fresh
1 cup Oil
1-½ cup Chopped Nuts-we decided not to use these
1 cup Raisins (or Half Raisins And Half Dried Cranberries)-we decided not to use these

Preparation Instructions:
Mix together dry ingredients. Add pumpkin and oil. Mix well. Add nuts and raisins/dried cranberries. Mix well. Pour into 3 well-sprayed loaf pans or muffin tins. Bake at 350F for 30-45 minutes. Remember to test to make sure they have baked all the way through. Cool for 5 minutes and remove to a cooling rack. Freezes well.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Warning cute packages can be deceiving!

So I decided to cook this adorable red velvet cupcake mix that my mom got me for Valentines (yes it was about to be I cooked it..hehe). It came with the packet for the cake mix and icing and all you had to do was add eggs, butter and milk. It was a simple recipe and so I figured it would be a good choice. I start by mixing the cake mix together and placed it in the cupcake linings and I was disappointed to see that it only made 6 cupcakes (it said 8 on the package). I was like..who was to make JUST 6 cupcakes. Anyways...I got over it and decided that while they were cooking that I would make the frosting. It was supposed to make cream cheese frosting and I was way excited about it. I couldn't wait to dip my finger in and get a taste of it. Well it said to add 8 TB of butter to the mix and then 2 cups of powdered sugar. I thought...HMM 8 TB seems like a lot, but I trust the makers of this package. MISTAKE. When the cream cheese icing was was light yellow and tasted exactly like butter. DISGUSTING. So when the cupcakes were completed...I ate them without the frosting. The cupcakes were good.....but I really wish the cream cheese icing would have turned out. So heres the cute package that it came in. Warning cute packages can be deceiving!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Chicken Spaghetti-new skill learned-cooking a WHOLE chicken :)

I had so much fun looking at Pioneer Woman's blog to find some tasty creations to try. I found 2 recipes that I will be making over the next week. I happily went to the grocery store and found all (actually I left without 2 of them...oh well they were that important anyways) while shopping. I came home and got to work.

Here is the link to Pioneer Womans's blog: She gives detailed descriptions and fantastic pictures to help you along the way...

I chose this recipe because it had a challenge for a WHOLE chicken. Honestly...I was terrified at 1st just thinking about having to 1st-find a whole chicken in the grocery store 2nd-find a pot large enough (I had to raid mom's kitchen) 3rd-handling raw chicken (some chickens carry salmonella...yikes) 4th-make sure it was cooked all the way....and the list goes on. Basically i just didn't want to fail. I was going to cook this chicken and make homemade chicken broth in the process :) I didn't want to take the easy way out because I know it is important to be able to know this skill for cooking!

The recipe says that you can prepare the dish (cook chicken and noodles and put ingredients in the casserole dish) and then put it in the fridge and cook it in the next 2 days. I decided that I would do it this way so that I would have plenty of time.
Just so you know.....I completely forgot to buy the pimentos (but it still turned out great)

I took me a while to complete preparing the dish so I would give yourself plenty of time.

Here is the basic recipe that I used from her wonderful/helpful website:

Recipe: Chicken Spaghetti
Prep Time: 30 Minutes | Cook Time: 45 Minutes | Difficulty: Easy | Servings: 8

2 cups Cooked Chicken
3 cups Dry Spaghetti, Broken Into Two Inch Pieces
2 cans Cream Of Mushroom Soup
2cups Grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese
¼ cups Finely Diced Green Pepper
¼ cups Finely Diced Onion
1 jar (4 Ounce) Diced Pimentos, Drained
2 cups Reserved Chicken Broth From Pot
1 teaspoon Lawry's Seasoned Salt
⅛ teaspoons (to 1/4 Teaspoon) Cayenne Pepper
Salt And Pepper, to taste
1cup Additional Grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese
Preparation Instructions

Cook 1 cut up fryer and pick out the meat to make two cups. Cook spaghetti in same chicken broth until al dente. Do not overcook. When spaghetti is cooked, combine with remaining ingredients except additional 1 cup sharp cheddar.
Place mixture in casserole pan and top with remaining sharp cheddar. Cover and freeze up to six months, cover and refrigerate up to two days, or bake immediately: 350 degrees for 45 minutes until bubbly. (If the cheese on top starts to get too cooked, cover with foil).

This recipe is the condensed form.....I used the picture form (see above). The picture form was useful to me because I learned step by step how to cook the chicken and even how to cut up the green pepper and onion. I really like that this recipe can be cooked ahead and froze or refrigerated. It is something that I will cook again!

Also I decided not to put the extra cup of cheese on top of the casserole. I just figured there was enough cheese inside of it!

Thanks Pioneer Woman for the great recipe! :)

Here is are my pictures:

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Dad's favorite-chocolate chip pound cake

Todays menu for my dad's birthday:
-pork tenderloin
-green beans
-sweet potato
-chocolate chip pound cake

Chocolate Chip Pound Cake

1 yellow cake mix
1 small vanilla pudding mix
1 small chocolate pudding mix
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup oil
4 eggs
1package (or 6 oz) chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350. Beat cake mix, both pudding mixes, water, and oil for 2 minutes. Then add the eggs 1 at a time and beat 1 minute more. Add 1 pkg chocolate chips. Bake in greased, floured bundt pan for 1 hour at 350.

This is an easy cake mix that is always delicious. I love using a bundt pan and so this is one of my favorite cakes to make. I used a hand mixer instead of a big mixer (Kitchenaid) and it worked fine. Next time, I will probably use the big mixer because it ends up being pretty thick for the small hand mixer.

On other news,,,, Kyle and I went to the hunting camp with my dad to help him do some odd jobs. I had fun riding on all the different hunting vehicles and watching Kyle kill an armadillo. :)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The last month.....

Back by popular demand....I am blogging again. This time I decided to have a theme to my blog. I tried to think of something interesting and then I decided to think on it. I have learned a lot over the past few weeks about myself and life in general. It seems that you are always learning no matter what age you are. Just a recap on the past few few weeks for me. Over the past month I have.....gone to the beach...applied to go back to school...moved back to R-town..was a bridesmaid for my best friends wedding......had an awesome Halloween party..... and gone to Houston (to meet my 2 newest cousins.) Whew I am exhausted, not to mention a little sick due to the weather. I have moved back in with the parents and at first I was terrified. You see for those of you who dont know my mother.....we are the same person....literally like its insane. Well....though I have only been back home for a few days...I think that it will work out great. I told my mom the other day that I think the reason we get along better is because I had grown up and gotten more mature. As soon as the words were said....we both started laughing. My dad was thrilled for me to move back home. He has always been so supportive and very patient with every crazy idea that I come up with. He did have one request as to paying him "rent." Ill give you one hint...its something that my mom hates to do and frankly isnt the best at. You guessed it....COOKING! My rent for living in their house is to shop for, prepare, and cook at least 1 meal a week. He told me that I needed to learn how to cook because it was something that I would need in the future. He always has the best ideas (he got me a sewing machine and lessons one year for Christmas). I was thrilled when he told me that I had to cook. I developed a love for cooking while living in Dallas, but I never had anyone to cook for (unless someone came over). The only thing dad is honest about cooking. He will tell me when something tastes funny. Hehe! So all of that said....this blog will mainly be my recipes that I cook.....what I did wrong....what I would have done differently....some pictures of the food...and anything else relating to cooking. Occasionally I will add whats going on in my life! :)

Here are the recipes I have cooked in the past month....

Chicken and Rice Casserole


1 cup uncooked rice
1 can 98% fat free cream of mushroom soup
1/2 soup can of water
1 pkg dry ontion soup mix
4 chicken breast halves


Grease baking dish. Place rice in dish. Combine soup, water and soup mix and pour over rice. Place chicken on top and gently press down into the liquid. Cover and bake at 350 for about an hour, or until the rice is tender and liquid is absorbed.

Number of Servings: 4

Recipe submitted by SparkPeople user LINJEN.

Recipe from www.

Lit'l Smokies® Mummy Dogs

Total Cook Time: 30 minutes

Ready to do the Monster Mash this halloween? Well here's a snack the kids will love! Hillshire Farm® Lit'l Smokes® all wrapped up for their trip straight to your mouth. Add ketchup for that extra effect!


32 Hillshire Farm® Lit'l Smokies®
1 can (8 ounces) refrigerated crescent rolls
Mustard or Ketchup, if desired
Any variety

Preheat oven to 375°F.
Unroll dough, separate at perforations, creating 4 rectangles. Press perforations to seal.
Cut each rectangle lengthwise into 8 strips with a knife or pizza cutter, making a total of 32 strips. Wrap one strip of dough around each sausage stretching dough slightly to look like bandages. Leave tip of sausage exposed to create face. Place on ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake 10-13 minutes or until golden brown. Draw features with mustard on tip of sausage to create face. Serve with mustard and ketchup, if desired.

Print Preparations
Yield: 16 appetizer servings (about 2 Mummy Dogs each)
Prep Time: 20
Cook Time: 10

Recipe from Hillshire Farms

I cant find the other recipe that I cooked the other day. They were both great recipes and easy to cook. Next time I will take a picture to post! :) This weeks agenda.....cook for my dad's birthday. Im kinda nervous because my grandparents are coming to eat! ;)