Sunday, March 31, 2013

Garlic-Lemon Double Cheesy Chicken

The downside to trying many new recipes in a week, and posting about them, are the copious amounts of leftovers in both our fridge and freezer. I say this is a downside because, I keep cooking and baking and wanting to post about it, which involves making more leftovers....more than we could possibly ever eat, just the two of us and so this creates a slight problem.

This also half explains my week-long posting hiatus. Geeky Dude and I had a lot of food to finish up in our fridge before I could make more (it was really delicious, we didn't mind!). Honestly I blame that matzo lasagna, because it was such a large dish that it took nearly a week for us to finish, but honestly, it was SO worth it. YUM!

You'll notice I said that it HALF explained my week-long hiatus. The other half of the explanation is sheer laziness. It's true, I was lazy and didn't -want- to cook all week. I was tired and cranky and just wanted to eat a pint of Ben and Jerry's. You can stop looking at me with those judgy (it's a word, I said so) faces. Sometimes people just have those sorts of weeks and mine was last week. 

For the most part Geeky Dude was complicit with my laziness, he even went out at 9:00 pm to buy me the aforementioned pint of Ben and Jerry's ice cream. He's a pretty good guy, and anyway, like I said we had so many leftovers. Towards the end of the week however, the leftovers were dwindling and we had ingredients to use up in our fridge. 

Now, I'm not sure if I've mentioned this before, but Geeky Dude is a pretty fantastic cook. It's true, he's Geeky, romantic, thoughtful and can cook.He's pretty darn cute, too.  I know, I know...I'm a lucky lady! This recipe is the result of him going through MY Pinterest boards and cooking us dinner while I continued to be lazy and not cook.

It's a solid recipe, we paired it with steamed broccoli and enjoyed it quite a lot. It's not a light meal by any means. The combo of cream cheese and cheddar cheese stuffed into the chicken make it quite heavy and incredibly filling....but tasty. 

oil, for greasing pan
8 boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, cut
into 1/2 inch slices
1 (8 ounce) package Cheddar cheese,
cut into 1/2 inch slices
1 cup milk
1 1/2 cups Italian seasoned bread
1/2 cup grated Romano cheese
1 tablespoon minced garlic
3/4 cup butter, melted
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon paprika (optional)
1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly coat a large, shallow baking dish with oil.
2.Butterfly each breast by slicing in half horizontally through the center, cutting almost but not completely through. Place one slice each of Cheddar and cream cheese in the center of each breast. Close again as if placing between the pages of a book. Set aside.
3.Pour milk into a shallow bowl. In a separate bowl, combine breadcrumbs and Romano cheese. Carefully dip each breast first in milk, then in breadcrumb mixture, patting lightly to firmly coat. Place breasts side by side in a single layer in pre-oiled baking dish, tucking edges under to seal.
4.Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir in lemon juice and garlic, and drizzle evenly over chicken. Season breasts with garlic salt and paprika, if using.
5.Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until no longer pink in center and juices run clear.
Changes/Alterations: We used Parmesan instead of Romano because that's what we had on hand. We also used Panko bread crumbs instead of Italian because we also had those on hand instead of Italian.  We modified this recipe down to the measurements needed for 3 chicken breasts instead of 8. This was -more- than enough food for us. It's VERY filling. Half a breast is enough for 1 person. 

Also the tucking the edges under part....super important!!! The cheddar oozes out if you don't do this step! 

Friday, March 22, 2013

And for my Jewish Readers....

Passover (also known as the Feast of Unleavened Bread, a little bit of wisdom I stumbled across on the interwebs tonight) begins this weekend. Actually, that's a lie. It begins on Monday, but if you're my amazing Maid of Honor you're getting a head start on your festivities and going on a Passover road trip because you are just that cool.

Though I am not Jewish, I am an avid lover of many things matzo, so it seemed like a good time to get a head start on the Passover celebrating as well (also known as "getting my food on") not to mention helping my good friend celebrate from afar.

A few years ago, I was having my last big birthday bash in Maine before moving to Wisconsin to be with Geeky Dude. There were games (funniest game of Apples to Apples I've ever played in my life) and friends and very diverse foods, from Thai Green Curry, Tiramisu, Mac and Cheese to Matzo Lasagna (made by the aforementioned friend and Maid of Honor).

Geeky Dude would like to interject that there was also a VERY serious chili competition between he and I that was being judged by all the guests. He would like the world to know that he won, because yes folks, he is THAT competitive. 

All the food was amazing, but that Matzo Lasagna really stuck in my mind as something I needed the recipe for because it was WAY easier than regular lasagna and therefore Geeky Girl approved! (I wasn't much of a cook at the time)

Now, she did at one point give me the recipe...but I lose pieces of paper something fierce, and since she's on a road trip to visit a mutual friend, I had to to turn to Pinterest. This recipe is slightly different than hers, in that it has the addition of spinach (I don't remember hers having that), but honestly it still came out amazing and I highly recommend it, though I of course made some adjustments. I wouldn't be me, if I didn't!

Pretty Slices- Not One of My Talents


9 pieces matzo, softened in warm water or wine
A favorite marinara sauce
1 pound ricotta cheese, part skim if possible
5 cups of spinach - chopped fine
1 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1 cup mozzarella cheese

Place ricotta in a bowl and mix with the spinach, spices, 1/4 cup of the Parmesan and 1/4 c. of the mozzarella.

"Mix It, Mix It Real Good"
Cover the bottom of a baking pan with some of the matzo. Cover with some of the sauce. Cover sauce with 1/3 of the cheese mixture.

Put some more matzo on top of the cheese and continue the process until all is used up making sure that top of lasagna is matzo and some sauce.

On the top, spread the remaining mozzarella cheese and Parmesan cheese.

Ready to be put in the hot oven!

Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes or until cooked through.

I should look like this when I'm done
***Notes/Alterations***  I added a little bit extra spinach because I wanted to use the entire bunch of spinach we bought and not have leftovers. I also added some extra ricotta I had laying around from the pumpkin ravioli's from last night (maybe 1/2 a cup?) along with a little less than 1/4 cup of mozzarella so the measurements wouldn't be off. 

I subbed out garlic powder and opted for fresh garlic, something that really paid off in the taste of the final product.  

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Holy Smokes I Actually Made Pasta

With my bare hands, because I don't currently have one of those fancy pasta roller attachments for Black Betty. Who is Black Betty, you might ask? Well, besides being this really awesome song, Black Betty happens to be the hardest working member of the Geeky family and the source of ongoing joke between Geeky Dude and myself.  Whenever she is mentioned,the conversation always ends in each of us racing to say "Bam-Ba-Lam!" Oh yes, we're that couple.

Black Betty does love her accessories, however not as much as Geeky Girl loves her shoes, so therefore she remains pasta roller attachment-less. I'm a bad Kitchen Aid mother. As a punishment, I get to roll out my own pasta dough, which honestly folks, and pardon my French here, is a real pain in the arse. 

But, you didn't come here to read about my amazing shoe collection addiction..... so, without further adieu, please enjoy this AMAZING recipe for ravioli! It's seriously going to rock your socks off.

Pumpkin Ravioli in a Rosemary and Thyme Brown Butter Sauce

Pasta Dough

5 eggs
1 tablespoon of salt
1 tablespoon of olive oil 
3 cups of all-purpose flour

Simple Pumpkin Filling

1 can of pumpkin

1 cup of Pecorino {or Ricotta which is what I used}
2 Teaspoons of Nutmeg
1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
1 Teaspoon of Rubbed Sage
1 Teaspoon Thyme
1 dash of salt and pepper

Rosemary and Thyme Brown Butter Sauce

4 Tablespoons of butter

In a small bowl, beat the eggs, salt and olive oil. In a large bowl, place the flour and pour in the egg mixture. Stir with a fork and fold together until all of the egg mixture is absorbed and the dough forms into a sticky ball.  Flour your hands and divide the dough into 3 separate ones. Knead each dough a bit to form it into a ball. Cover each in cellophane and refrigerate for a few hours.

While the pasta dough is chilling, prepare you pumpkin filling by thoroughly mixing together all ingredients. Set aside.

Roll out the ball of dough as flat/thin as you can get it. I cut mine into circles using a cookie cutter but you could do squares as well with a knife or ravioli cutter. 

After you've cut the dough into whatever shape you choose, roll each ravioli a little bit before scooping on a small dollop of pumpkin mixture. Place another square or circle (depending on what shape you chose) on top, and using a fork, press the two pieces of dough together at the edges, which creates a pretty border.

Once you've assembling your masterpieces, place them in a pot of well salted boiling water until they rise to the top. About 3-4 minutes....or 10-15 if you didn't roll out your dough thin enough. Drain them (carefully!) in a colander.

Melt 4 tablespoons of butter. Just before it starts to brown, add fresh rosemary and thyme leaves, stirring until the butter slightly browns. Pour over raviolis, admire your homemade works of  art, and then devour.

**Notes and Alterations** Holy smokes, I was worried about this recipe because I tried a ravioli before putting on the sauce and honestly it wasn't super. It kind of tasted like pumpkin pie got confused and lost inside a ravioli shell....but then, then we made this amazing savory browned butter and oh my holy browned buttery goodness. I will most definitely make this again....sadly probably this week because that easy pumpkin filling makes twice what is needed for what the pasta dough makes for ravioli shells and Geeky Dude pretty much inhaled it.  

Next time, I'd like to use fresh squash, butternut would be amazing. I didn't have fresh herbs because it's winter (okay technically Spring now, but there is still several feet of snow on the ground and my herbs are not happy and growing outside yet) so I used dried herbs. I can't even begin to imagine how much more amazing this would be with fresh rosemary and thyme browned butter. 

Sriracha Popcorn

I'm going to admit it, right here, right now.

I am addicted to popcorn.

There, I said it. Whew, it feels good to have that out in the open.

It's one of those versatile snacks that you can enjoy in many different ways. You have your popcorn balls, your cracker jacks, your kettle corn, your Little Lads crack corn (my Mainers know what I'm talking about here), your butter smothered theater popcorn and your home popped put random delicious stuff on it, popcorn.

Sriracha falls into that last category....I really didn't know that it fell into that category until I saw this recipe but holy awesome sauce people- YOU NEED THIS POPCORN!

Sriracha, for those of you who aren't aware, is an amazing hot chili sauce that hails from Thailand and has been steadily gaining popularity over the last 5 years, especially since the introduction of sites like Pinterest that have exploded the recipe sharing culture of the interwebs.

Anyway, Geeky Dude, who is normally not a popcorn fan gobbled it right up and told me that it was the, and I quote "tastiest, most delicious popcorn ever!"

Sriracha Popcorn

3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
½ Cup White popcorn kernels

Use a large stock pot with a lid to pop the popcorn.  Over a medium to high heat, add the vegetable oil and kernels to the pot.  Once the first kernel pops, add the lid and shake frequently to prevent burning.  When the popping has almost stopped, dump into a large paper bag and sprinkle with salt and shake.  Next add the Sriracha Butter to the popcorn and shake really well to ensure popcorn is well covered.

Sriracha Butter

4 Tablespoons Butter
1 Tablespoon Sriracha Sauce
2 Garlic cloves, finely minced

In a medium sauce pan, add the butter and let it melt over medium heat.  Next add the sriracha sauce and minced garlic.  Stir until combined.  Turn off the heat and let the flavors meld for 5 to 10 minutes.  Pop the kernels while the butter is infusing.

**Notes and Alterations** 

This is the second time I've made this popcorn. The first time I neglected to use the paper bag method and that was a mistake. Definitely use the bag, it evenly distributes the butter. Also...the first time I noticed that 4 tablespoons of butter is far too much butter for Geeky Dude and I, so we cut it down to 3 and upped the Sriracha to 2.5 tablespoons rather than 2. The spice was perfect but I think we might still go down to 2.5 or 2 tablespoons of butter next time around. Even so, it was still delicious! Our garlic cloves were giant, but we found that this worked out perfectly for us, as we LOVE garlic :)


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

And For Pi Day...

I made pie....obviously!

Of course this post is a few days late because I'd been gallivanting around the great state o' Maine with my family and friends having a grand old time. We had my bridal shower where we made inappropriate cookies and I opened inappropriate gifts (and appropriate ones) and played fantastically silly games.

Unfortunately now I'm behind, and feeling lazy in the cooking and baking department. Luckily, I had this gem leftover from Pi Day that I had neglected to post due to flying 1300 miles across the country.

I'm going to start out by saying that I wasn't overly impressed with the pie I made- a creamy berry pie that I think I was expecting to taste differently. That being said...I don't actually like pie that much unless it's straight-up fruit so that could have something to do with it.

My co-workers on the other hand, who benefited from my Pi Day baking adventure couldn't stop raving about it and were begging for the recipe. I think it's a keeper for a super easy, not much thought needed, sort of pie.

3 cups fresh blueberries
1 (9 inch) deep dish pie crust
For the Custard:
1 cup white sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup sour cream
For the Streusel:
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup butter

1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Place the blueberries in the pastry shell and set aside.
2.Combine 1 cup sugar, 1/3 cup flour, and salt. Add eggs and sour cream, stirring until blended. Pour the sour cream custard over the blueberries.
3.In another bowl, combine 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup flour. Cut in the butter with pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle the topping over the sour cream mixture and berries in the pie shell.
4.Bake in the preheated oven for 50 to 55 minutes, or until lightly browned. Cool on wire rack.

I didn't have 3 cups of blueberries, so I used 3 cups of mixed berries (raspberries, blueberries and blackberries in this case). It worked wonderfully and I would do it again in heartbeat. Because of the style of pie, it's quite versatile and any type of berry can be subbed in and out. 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

I Just Love A Good Quinoa Recipe

Hello blogosphere!

I hear that once again the Vatican is setting records with Popliness (it's a word, I said so) by electing a non-European pope today. Not only that, but he apparently renamed himself from Jorge (which I think would have been a kick-ass pope name...Pope Jorge...c'mon!)  to Pope Francis I. This apparently also breaks with tradition because there has never before been a Pope Francis in the history of popes. The things you learn.

In other news, I'm gearing up for a trip home to the East Coast to see my family and visit with some friends for an East Coast style bridal shower leaving Geeky Dude home to fend for himself. As I've said before he is a great cook, but sadly when left to his own devices will gladly eat just peanut butter and jelly and cereal to avoid having to cook meals for just himself.

That being said I decided to prep him for a 3-day weekend alone with another big batch of stew so he can feast on leftovers while I dine on lobster :)

This recipe is courtesy of Cookin' Canuck (Adore the name!) and I made some pretty hefty adjustments due to ingredient shortages and my own personal preferences. I'll note them at the bottom of the recipe along with the results.

  • 1 1/2 lb. butternut squash, peeled, seeded & chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 3 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 can (14 oz) petite diced tomatoes
  • 2/3 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 3/4 cup pitted and quartered kalamata olives
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
  1. Steam the butternut squash until barely tender, about 10 minutes. Remove half of the squash pieces and set aside.
  2. Steam the remaining squash until very tender, an additional 4 to 6 minutes. Mash this squash with the back of a fork. Set aside.
  3. In a large saucepan set over medium-high heat, bring the chicken broth to a simmer.
  4. Add chicken thighs, cover, and cook until chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes.
  5. Transfer the chicken thighs to a plate and allow to cool. Pour broth into a medium-sized bowl.
  6. Return the saucepan to the stovetop and lower heat to medium. Add olive oil.
  7. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is starting to turn brown, 8 to 10 minutes.
  8. Add minced garlic and oregano. Cook, stirring, for 1 additional minute.
  9. To the saucepan, add tomatoes, butternut squash pieces, mashed butternut squash. Stir to combine.
  10. Stir in reserved chicken broth and quinoa. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook until the quinoa turns translucent, about 15 minutes.
  11. Shred the chicken with your fingers or a fork.
  12. Stir the chicken, olives and pepper into the stew and simmer, uncovered, to heat, about 5 minutes.
  13. Stir in parsley and serve.

***Adjustments and Results***  I didn't have a butternut squash handy, so I used some white pumpkins we had lying around begging to be used. In hindsight this wasn't the best choice. I would recommend a squash over a pumpkin (acorn or butternut) as they have a stronger flavor. I also roasted my pumpkin in the oven, another something I wouldn't recommend unless you have copious amounts of time on your hands. Seriously. 

I added a pinch of rosemary and thyme to this as well and omitted the olives as I can't tell you my absolute hatred of all things olive (except, oddly....olive oil, which is amazing)

I ended up adding a bit more liquid towards the end because the quinoa really soaked up a lot and I had reservations about it being quite so thick.

All in all, this is a good base recipe and I would recommend it. It's pretty gosh darn tasty.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Proof Is In the Pudding

Today was an errand after work sort of day, which meant nothing fancy for least not from our kitchen. On the upside, it meant going to our absolute favorite pizza joint, Ians for dinner. I know, it's not healhy...but you have to understand the love affair we have going on with this place. Their pizza is fracking amazing. They're most famous for their mac n' cheese pizza. If you've never had it, you're probably thinking "Really? Mac n' Cheese on pizza? That sounds gross!"

That's where you're dead wrong. It's heaven on pizza crust. Today however, their slice case was filled with amazing flavors (I say this like it's an irregularity) which made choosing a flavor for Geeky Dude and I very difficult. 

From the left: Steak and Fries, Smokey the Bandit and Spinach Artichoke Dip
Geeky Dude chose Steak and Fries while I couldn't choose between my all-time favorite of Smokey the Bandit (Chicken, ranch, bbq, bacon and a sprinkling of cheese) and a monthly special of Spinach Artichoke Dip, so we decided to share. It was a good decision as the Spinach Artichoke was amazing

Alas, eating out makes the whole cooking something every single day from Pinterest goal a wee bit more difficult...BUT, I am a woman on a mission. I am also a woman who was craving pudding in a serious way but having problems with the fact that my favorite butterscotch pudding is seriously bad for me. Beyond the normal pudding not being good for you on a general whole, sort of way. (Note the "ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR" in giant letters under butterscotch? Yeah...that doesn't scream wholesome) 

So I found this recipe for Classic Butterscotch Pudding from Baking Bites

Classic Butterscotch Pudding
2 tbsp butter
2/3 cup dark brown sugar
2 cups milk, divided (whole or reduced fat)
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1) In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add brown sugar and stir well, until brown sugar is well moistened.
2) Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together 1 cup of the milk, egg, egg yolk and cornstarch until very smooth. Whisk in remaining milk, and then slowly pour the mixture into the butter and brown sugar, stirring constantly.
3) Cook, stirring with a spatula and taking care to scrape the bottom and sides of the pan, until sugar is dissolved and mixture just comes to a simmer and begins to bubble. Continue to cook, still stirring, for 1-2 minutes as pudding thickens.
4) Remove from heat and whisk in vanilla extract.

5) Divide pudding into 4 individual serving dishes or ramekins.

***If you want a pudding skin, leave pudding uncovered. If you do not want skin, press a sheet of plastic wrap onto the surface of each serving of pudding.***
Refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours, until pudding is cold. 

So, my notes:
Good luck letting this cool down enough to eat or make a skin. This is seriously delicious and I will make it again!  Make sure you really whisk in all the cornstarch or your pudding will be lumpy. 

Mini German Pancakes

I've been a bad, bad fiance these last few months. Geeky Dude has been doing ALL the cooking because I've been so wrapped up in wedding planning. Not that he complains (nor do I, he is a stellar cook!) a bit, but it makes me feel a bit guilty to not help out with the meals.

Saturday was a sleep-in day for the Geeky Dude, so I woke up and decided to try out one of my breakfast/brunch Pinterest board recipes. It had promise, they call it a German pancake and Geeky Dude is of German descent so it seemed like a win-win situation, right?

Yeah....I think I'll read the recipe a bit more thoroughly to get a sense of how it's going to turn out before just jumping right into it. 

What I'd been expecting: Baked pancake like confections

What I got: Baked egg-y souffle type things with vanilla and orange zest that you're supposed to put jam or other preserves into. 

Anyway, here is the recipe:

Mini German Pancakes
1 cup milk
6 eggs
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. orange zest (optional)
1/4 cup butter, melted

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Blend first six ingredients (milk through orange zest) in a blender.  Make sure that any flour clumps get well-blended.
  2. Blend in butter a little at a time in order to temper the eggs.
  3. Grease muffin tins well and distribute batter evenly between 24 tins. If you fill them half full you will get the little indentations that make a nice place to fill them with things.
  4. Bake for 15 minutes, or until puffy and golden on top.
  5. Served with your favorite toppings.  (Mine was a dusting of powdered sugar and homemade applesauce as well as homemade strawberry jam)

***Alterations for next time***

Omit orange zest and vanilla. These weren't bad tasting but they are more of a savory than a sweet. Definitely not what I think of when think pancake. Way, way too eggy to put jam/preserves on. It would taste excellent with bacon and maple syrup though :)


I'm not going to lie to you. I am a fickle blogger. I always have great intentions of writing every day, which then diminishes to several times a week, and then again to once a week or every few weeks. It's not for a lack of dedication to writing, or blogging in general but rather that I'm absolutely terrible at promoting myself...and honestly what's the point of writing in a blog if nobody is there to read it?

Recently however, amidst the busy season at work, and the last two and a half months of wedding planning I've discovered that I need a release. I know what you're thinking, "Ugh, she's going to yammer on and on about work and her upcoming nuptials, how utterly boring."  The release I was referring to however,  wasn't in regards to writing, as cathartic as that is, but rather the one I get by walking into the kitchen, recipe in hand and creating a (hopefully!) masterpiece out of raw ingredients.

MmMmMm, delicious food. Yes, it's true, I am a foodie. The problem with being a foodie, and loving to cook and bake is that you're always on the lookout for new recipes and that....that is where the trouble all began.

Over the last year I, like so many other helpless souls have become hopelessly addicted to Pinterest, the time suck of doom. I can't even count the amount of hours I've spent looking for recipes for cakes and soups and boozy cupcakes (that's important when you live in Wisconsin, friends) and organizing my 64 boards into some semblance of order. If I didn't do something about this Pinterest addiction, I'm pretty sure my fiance was going to stage a Pinterest intervention.

So, I started cooking....and I felt a little like Julie from the book Julie and Julia minus the whole blogging about Julia Childs aspect and the fact that I can definitely poach an egg without having a mental breakdown....but you know, other than that, she and I are like twins! (Yeah, not really)

The problem with Pinterest is that there are thousands of really bad recipes that people just repin without ever actually trying, and then it gets repinned, and repinned...and nobody actually tries it to see if it's good. Meanwhile the amazing recipes get overlooked because something called Jello Casserole (I still hold that it is NOT a casserole and it's nasty) is going viral.

I aim to change that, at least within my social circle, and I'll try not to be a fickle blogger this time. Perhaps I just need people to hold me accountable for posting regularly. ;)