Monday, March 30, 2009

Ellie Krieger’s Oven Baked Onion Rings

We made burgers on the grill last night, and we needed a yummy side for them. I immediately think chips, french fries, or onion rings...anything crunchy and greasy, right? This wasn't what I really wanted; let's cut fat and calories where we can right? Especially when it comes to fried foods....there had to be a healthier option. I make baked sweet potato fries and chips all the time, but I already have that down to eat with our grilled Kobe beefs hot dogs later this week, so potatoes wouldn't work. Then it dawned on me! If you can bake potato fries, you can bake onion rings, right? OF COURSE! I launched my search online for baked onion rings...and I found this recipe from Elly Krieger.

It was perfect. So crunchy, the best flavor...I really think you should make these and see for yourself. They turned out so much better than I anticipated. I didn't think they would be that crunchy, and the hint of cayenne pepper was just right (it seemed to offset the saltiness of the chips). Brett said these were better than the burgers, and highlight of the meal...that's something coming from Brett who is typically into the meat portion of the meal and doesn't really say alot about what's on the table-unless I ask!

Ingredients (4 servings)
Cooking spray
4 cups baked potato chips (I used Baked Lays-original flavor)
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1 cup low fat buttermilk
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 to 2 large Vidalia onions, peeled (I used regular yellow onions)

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Spray a baking sheet slightly with oil and set aside. Place potato chips in the bowl of a food processor and process into crumbs, about 20 seconds. Transfer to a shallow bowl, add cayenne, and set aside. In another bowl, combine buttermilk, 2 tablespoons of flour, salt and pepper and set aside. Slice onions into 1/2-inch circles and separate into rings, keeping only large, whole rings (reserve rest of onions for other uses). You should come out with about 12 to 14 rings.

Place the remaining flour in a sealable plastic bag, then add onions, and shake to coat. Dip onions 1 at a time into the buttermilk mixture, then dip into potato chip crumbs and place on baking sheet. Spray canola oil evenly over rings and bake for 20 minutes, or until coating is crisp. Season with salt, to taste, and serve immediately.

**My notes...I don't have a large food processor, so I simple made a tiny hole in the bag of chips and crushed them with my hands; just make sure you get them as fine as possible or they won't stick well. Also, I skipped putting the onions and flour in a bag. I had my onion slices in a bowl already so I just added the flour in the bowl and hand tossed them until they were covered.

Grilled Burgers

Other than your typical hot dog, or those pre-made/preformed burger patties, our grilling menu is non-existent. But because of the great weather, spring in the air and our new outdoor seating (sounds fancy, huh?) that will be changing! It's so nice to just sit outside at the end of the day when the weather is this great. It's so much more relaxing than being in front of the TV. So since we are spending more time out there, I wanted to add some things to our menu that would put the grill to use. And yes, I hope to work my way up from the easy stuff! Last night I wanted to do burgers, but not plain ole frozen patties. I wanted to make my own; seems like that would add more flavor and juiciness. This is something really simple I found online, and it was delicious. Very juicy, and the perfect flavor that was totally enhanced by using the grill.

1 lb lean ground beef (I used a 90/10 instead of the normal 97/3 so that they would be juicy and flavorful)
1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon of Liquid Smoke flavoring
1 teaspoon of garlic powder
1 tablespoon of Olive Oil
Season Salt to taste

Preheat grill. In a medium bowl, lightly mix together ground beef, Worcestershire, Liquid Smoke, and garlic powder. Form into 3 patties, handling the meat minimally. Brush both sides of each patty with olive oil, and season with season salt. Place patties on the grill, and cook until done (about 5 minutes or so each side).

Our "fixin's" included pepper jack cheese, tomatoes, mayo and mustard. I HIGHLY recommend the buns we used as well-Sweet Hawaiian (you know that make those packages of rolls that are so irresistible...yes, now they make hamburger buns!!). I think the sweet flavor of the buns went really well with the pepper jack cheese. (Stick the buns on the grill for a minute-they are great toasted for the burger)

** My notes...I made 4 patties instead of 3. You can do either, I just wanted to have enough for us to have leftovers or in case Brett was really hungry! There isn't enough meat for more than 4 though. Also, I placed my patties on a plate covered with plastic wrap and stuck it in the freezer for a bit so they would be easier to handle-Brett requested this since he was doing the grilling. When I pulled them out, I then did the olive oil and season salt.

Time to Grill!!

The weather has been amazing here! Last weekend I went and bought some pretty flowers for my flowerpots-the looks gorgeous! We don't have a patio or porch, so these are placed on each side of our garage. It's lovely to drive up to!

All of this really makes made want to sit outside and enjoy the weather...we have a little grill, but we rarely use it. I think because there's not a good place to sit with it while we cook, and we would also like to eat out there too. SOOO....after I got my flowers planted, I knew we needed to fix this problem. We found a great little bistro set for a good price and immediately snatched it up. We keep it in the garage and its easy to drag out with the grill on a nice afternoon or evening.

We are enjoying it! Here are some pictures... (see my next post for our latest grill recipe)!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Chicken Lasagna Rolls

Italian....yummy!!!!! This dish satisfied two things I was hoping for. One, my craving for Italian without going out and paying the bill at a nice restaurant. And two, my efforts to use up random things in the pantry (in this case, half a box of lasagna noodles, a jar of spaghetti sauce, and some chicken breasts).

This was fun too make-the mixing and assembling, and I was totally in a cooking/kitchen mood, so that helped. Seriously, I even cleared out the dishwasher BEFORE I started, so I could promptly place the things I dirtied up into the dishwasher as soon as I popped these in the oven. I may have a fever...haha! Usually I either ask Brett to clear dishes out before I start cooking or to be prepared to do it after, so he can then clean up the kitchen when we are done eating! He better appreciate and like this meal!!!

I've never had lasagna (or spaghetti for that matter) with chicken in it, but it sounded pretty good, and really simple. To me, any recipe that's variation of lasagna looks like it takes a lot of effort. It's a fancy looking meal to me, and before I ever made any type of lasagna, I always wondered what the special, unique concoction was in the middle of the layers. Then I realized that it's not so hard! The thing that makes or breaks it to me is the sauce...I don't like too much, and I don't like it chunky. I also go with a very simply flavored sauce-sometimes sauce overpowers all the goodies in the middle!

On to the recipe...this came from

6 lasagna noodles, uncooked
6-8 oz. chicken breast strips (cooked; I then shredded/picked mine apart with my fingers)
1 jar spaghetti sauce
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (more or less if you like-I like more!)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cook noodles as directed on package. Rinse with cold water; drain well. Mix chicken, ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, egg and seasoning; spread 1/3 cup of the chicken mixture onto each noodles. Roll up tightly. Place seams sides down in a baking dish. Pour spaghetti sauce over roll-ups; sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Bake 30 minutes or until heated through.

My notes...
1) Make sure your noodles are not only cool, but dry when you start to fill them. I made a second batch for leftovers and got in a hurry and my last three noodles sort of made a goo of the filling because they were wet/warm. That and they also slip out of place/unrolled a little.
2) I don't know the exact measurement of the pan I used, seems an 8x4 or something odd like that-anyway, make sure to use a dish where the rolls fit next to each other and are snug. This holds them in place and allows the sauce and mozzarella cheese to sit in all the perfect places without falling into empty space in the dish. Mine happened to be a perfect fit. As I was putting them in I was glad it worked out that well. All the sauce would have just run off had I used a 9x13.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Dorito Casserole

Must love cheese...that's almost all there is to say about this one. It is so rich and delicious. I don't make it often; it isn't exactly light and healthy...but I figure every once in a while it's ok, and I always justify those times by saying I'm using healthy options as far as ingredients. You know-low fat cheese, healthy choice soups, lean beef, etc. Ok, ok, as if it matters with this one?? Anyway, I really like it, and look forward to it when it does come around on my weekly menu!

1lb ground beef, browned
1 small onion
1 small can (4.5oz.) of diced green chiles (don't worry about draining them)
2 cans of cream of mushroom (or chicken) soup
1 can (14oz.) of red enchilada sauce
1 bag of nacho cheese Doritos, crushed
1 bag of finely shredded Mexican cheese blend
Brown the ground beef with the chopped onion and green chiles. Drain, set aside. In a large mixing bowl, combine soup and red sauce. Add the ground beef mixture and stir together. In a 9x13 glass pan, layer Doritos, meat mixture, cheese, Doritos until you've used all your sure to END with Doritos on top (mine is about two layers of each, but a third layer of Doritos on top). Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. I cover mine for 20 minutes then take the foil off and bake the last 10 minutes uncovered.

Oh, and my one and ONLY complaint...I never know what to serve with this dish as a side. It obviously needs a veggie. Wait, you DO agree, right? Yeah, the meal is that deleicous! No I don't WANT a veggie, but I have to get one in darn it, or the guilt overtakes me!
It doesn't seem quite "mexicany" enough for beans, and it isn't "american" enough for peas or green beans...get what I'm saying? I do like to get a veggie in, so I don't only consume a large portion of this dish, but rather a small portion of the dish, and a small portion of veggies. Corn seems to be the only happy medium I can find, and I don't really like corn at all. I try to dress it up with some salt, pepper, paprika, and a little cayenne. Let me know your thoughts for a side for this Dorito Casserole!

Friday, March 13, 2009

PW Apricot Bars

I made this recipe on our annual family 3-day getaway with Brett's immediate family. Each couple is in charge of a meal, and Brett and I had Sunday breakfast. We decided on a breakfast burrito bar...simple and cheap! Though we were feeding a crowd, I wanted to make it as affordable as possible, and on top of that, I didn't want to have to wait up hours earlier to prepare the meal. So the burritos were a no brainer, but I wanted something sweet with the savory. I knew I wanted to make banana muffins, but I wanted one more thing...something different, and not a bread or doughy pastry. Then I found on the Pioneer Woman's website...and what woman doesn't either a) wish they were the Pioneer Woman, or b) worship all that she does? Maybe I speak for myself.

My conclusion...PERFECTION. Seriously-make these as soon as possible. And don't begin to think you have to have them for breakfast...they would make a wonderful dessert. Oh, and did I mention they are super simple, and you likely have most of the ingredients in your pantry (I had all but the preserves!).

1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups oats
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 3/4 sticks regular salted butter cut into pieces
1 (10-12 oz) jar apricot preserves

Mix together all ingredients except preserves. Press one half of the mixture into a buttered 8" square or small rectangular pan. spread apricot preserves over that layer. Sprinkle second half of mixture over the top and pat lightly. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until light brown. Let cool completely, then cut into squares.

**My notes-it is very important to let it cool COMPLETELY before you cut and remove from the pan-if not they are to warm and will just mush together.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Stir Fry Asparagus with Cashews

My first and only regret/ photos of this yummy veggie side dish. Had I known it was this impressive, I would have. It was a long day and this was such a quick dinner to make; I just didn't think to grab a camera.

I had to post this recipe and I'm just asking you to trust me. Just make it. Soon. Its delicious, and so easy but looks so fancy. DH raved about it, and he is not a veggie eater, much less something that was as out of the ordinary for our meals. We usually stick to frozen/steamed broccoli, canned green beans, etc. I bet you could even add some chicken or tofu and make this more of a main dish.

I served this as a side with salmon (very lightly seasoned with seafood rub and baked in foil packets), and brown rice.

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger root (I omitted this, I DO NOT like ginger related anything-seeing as I love the recipe so much, I guess it didn't hurt to leave it out.)
1 bunch asparagus stalks, ends cut
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 cup chopped cashews

Heat olive oil and sesame oil in a wok over low to medium heat. Add ginger, and stir-fry until slightly brown. Add asparagus, and stir-fry for a few minutes before adding soy sauce and cashews. Cook until asparagus is tender but still crisp and bright green, stirring frequently.