Archive for February, 2010

Tonight’s lesson: Don’t give your sister the task to make the gravy.

Tonight’s dinner was steak, carrots and mushrooms cooked in the slow cooker with homemade wheat bread and gravy.  Sounds delicious right? How about looks?

And the big question…Taste?  AWFUL 😦

The meat was extremely dry so we tried to make gravy from the sauce in the slow cooker.  I learned a very important lesson…don’t leave your sister alone with a box of corn starch and a wisk.  The end result was very starchy gravy that left an awful after taste film in your mouth.  Gravy is one of those things on my list of meals / dishes to be able to make and I’m sure you will see another attempt in the future. 🙂

But one thing was for sure…the bread was amazing!  I love homemade bread. 

I sure hope that this flop streak isn’t going to last for very long.


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I knew my luck was wearing out.  I had my first flop tonight.  I had attempted to make garlic lemon shrimp.  Sounds simple right?  The recipe looked simple but something just didn’t work right.

I got the recipe from my Taste of Home cookbook.  It called for 1lb of shrimp, 1/4 cup of butter, 2-3 minced garlic cloves, 3tbs of lemon juice.  Heat the butter, garlic, and shrimp in the pan.  Once the shrimp is heated thru add the lemon juice.  I decided to add some broccoli to the pan.  Sound simple enough right?  Well…something just didn’t end up correct.  It was lacking flavor to say the least.  😦  I put the mixture over some brown rice.

You win some you lose some right?  🙂  At least making dinner was fun.  I had an extra little helper in the kitchen.

One week completed!  I have a long way to go but am excited for this journey.  I feel like I have the basics covered and want some more exciting challenges.  I’ve been looking for some meals that are more classics and something everyone should know how to cook.  A few on my list are: Chicken Noodle Soup, Roasted Chicken, Fresh Fish, Red / White Sauces, Stew, Maccaroni & Cheese, and Pizza completely from scratch just to name a few.  If you have any suggestions please feel free to let me know so I can add them to my list.  I do have 292 meals left to make. 🙂

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Parmesan cheese was definitely a key ingredient in all my meals this weekend.  I guess when you find something you like you don’t mind incorporating it into multiple dishes.  🙂

Friday my sister Kim and I went to see the movie “Dear John”.  It took us two movie theaters to find one that wasn’t sold out.  It was a good movie…a classic “chick flick”.  I didn’t read the book but Kim said that the book was better, isn’t that always how it is?

I got home after 6:30 and had about 30 minutes to throw together dinner before heading out to the movie.  I’d been thinking about making tuna cakes all day during work.  I took a can of tuna (drained), 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese, 1 egg white and 1 tbs of mayo.  I mixed everything together and “tried” to pan fry them.  I say try because they stuck horribly to the pan even after I sprayed cooking spray in the pan. 

I think next time I will either use my George Forman grill or bake them.  The result wasn’t bad at all though, surprisingly.  I put them on a bed of lettuce to include some veggies in dinner.  The cheese added a nice “tangy” flavor to the cakes.

Saturday my mom came in for a visit and we went to SAM’s club.  I think I am fully stocked on meat for at least a while I hope!  I grabbed some ground turkey meat, chicken tenders, pork chops, fish and large scallops.

After a crazy day of shopping I was craving a burger for dinner so I decided a turkey burger would be perfect!  I took a package of turkey meat (about .75lbs) and mixed in 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese, 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce and a sprinkle of onion salt.  I pan fried the burgers because sometimes they can get too dry when I use the George Forman grill and figured since I was using ground turkey and not beef it would be alright. 🙂  I made 3 burgers.

I cooked up some mushrooms to top my burgers and I found myself cracking up thinking of how in Julie and Julia they talk about not crowding the mushrooms so they can then brown.  It was amazing to see that it actually worked!  I had nice browned mushrooms to top my burgers.

I was pretty impressed with the end result.  Jeff even enjoyed them and said that I should have added more Worcestershire sauce…there is always next time. 🙂

Sunday’s dinner though took the cake for the weekend!  Welcome Parmesan Chicken Tenders.  My sister Kim wanted classic shake and bake for dinner but I decided to try something a little different.  I took about 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese and used my pampered chef “Chop It” to grind the cheese into finer pieces.  I then added 1/4 tsp of garlic salt and mixed it into the cheese.  I then scrambled one egg and took the chicken tenders and dipped them in the egg then into the cheese coating.  I put them on a foil lined cookie sheet at 425 degrees for about 15 minutes, flipping them half-way through.  This made about 4 tenders.

I loved these!  The cheese and garlic with the chicken was so good.  This would be perfect with marinara sauce on top like Chicken Parmesan.  I added a simple cauliflower and tomato salad with some italian dressing on top as a side.

We just finished watching the Saints win the Super Bowl…I’m always a sucker for the underdogs.  I have my lunch to pack and then head off to bed.  5am is going to come bright and early tomorrow morning!

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I’ll be the first to admit I’m not a huge fan of steak or any form of beef really but tonight beef was what was on the menu and I really didn’t mind at all.  Jeff is a huge fan of steak and as a result has made this recipe many times.  He got it from a Men’s Health magazine.

Steak: Pan sear the steaks for about 5 minutes on each side in an empty med-high heated skillet.

Sauce: 1/4 tsp thyme, 1 tsp olive oil, 1 tsp garlic, 1/4 cup chicken broth, 1/2 cup sliced mushrooms.  After removing the steaks from the pan add the above ingredients and heat until the mushrooms are soft. 

The mixture made enough for about 3 steaks so after Kim and I had dinner I was able to pack one up for lunch tomorrow.  Kim wasn’t a huge fan of the mushrooms because they weren’t sautéed like normal steak and mushrooms but I love mushrooms and enjoyed them.

This meal was super quick and easy to make which was perfect for a night when you get home late and are starving.

Kim and I are heading out to see the movie “Dear John” tomorrow night so expect another super quick meal…something with seafood perhaps. 😉

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Sometime things don’t go as you planned…

I had intended to make stuffed pork chops but after looking at the clock and the time it took to cook the pork a new idea was needed.  Welcome Cranberry Pork!

I had a can of Whole Cranberries in Sauce on hand and some BBQ sauce in the fridge…so after a quick search on the Taste of Home website I found what I was looking for.

Sauce: Can of cranberries, 1/2 cup BBQ sauce, 1/4 cup of water.  Heat everything through.

Pork: Heat pork in 2tbs of oil in a sauce pan.  I decided to cut the pork into strips because they were thick.  Add salt and pepper to the pork for seasoning.  Once the pork is browned on the outside add it to the sauce and simmer for about 30 minutes.

Potatoes: You’ve seen these in meal #1.  I just had to make them again for DATE night so Jeff could enjoy them.

Jeff enjoyed the pork and potatoes so maybe this cooking thing isn’t quite as difficult as I thought?  🙂  Ok so I totally just jinxed myself I can tell.

I gotta scoot back to date night…we have some DVR to catch up on.  Romantic…I know! 😉

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Meal #2 – Stuffed Shells

I have a weakness for Italian food…specifically anything that resembles lasagna.  So tonight I decided stuffed shells was on the menu.  It’s a fairly easy dish to prepare but can take a bit to make everything.  It’s also one of those foods that I consider my “comfort” food.

Noodles: Partially cook the noodles so when you bake them they will finish cooking.  The filling will make enough for about 20-25 jumbo shells depending on how full you want them.

Filling: 2 beaten eggs, 1 container of ricotta cheese, 1 cup mozzarella cheese, 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, onion salt and parsley flakes “for some color” (That’s what my mom always says is why you use parsley flakes. :))

Sauce: Cook 1 lb meat of choice and drain off the added grease then add one jar of spaghetti sauce and heat through.

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees and layer sauce in the bottom of the pan.  Stuff the noodles with some filling.  Sprinkle some extra mozzarella over the top of the dish and any extra sauce you would like.  Bake for 30 – 35 minutes or until the cheese is all melted and starting to brown.


This was a winner and totally hit the spot!  My sister loved it too, the only bad thing is the number of dishes you are left with cleaning. 😦 

Tomorrow is DATE night and I have a great meal planned for Jeff and I…you’ll just have to wait and see what it is!  🙂

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Don’t you just love when you have those “aha moments”?  I’ve tried to think of a way to get me to cook more and really learn how to make amazing meals!  Yesterday during some down time it dawned on me…why not create a challenge?  Something to keep me motivated and a goal to achieve. 

Welcome to the 300 Meal Challenge! 


1) Cook at least 300 meals in 365 days. (I gave myself some room for rest and relaxation.)

2) “Cooking” means making something more than a pb&j sandwich or a bowl of cereal.

3) Document the 300 meals via a post.

Seem simple enough?  🙂

Here we go…

Meal #1 Chicken w/ Roasted potatoes and Green Beans

Chicken: Heat 1 Tbs of oil with 1 tsp of garlic.  Cook the chicken and when half way done add 2 tsp of lemon juice to the pan for some extra flavor.

Potatoes: Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.  Wash about 4 potatoes and chop them up to smaller bite size pieces.  Toss in a bowl with 1 Tbs oil and 1 tsp of garlic.  Cook for 15 minutes then stir and cook for a remaining 5-10 minutes.

Green Beans: Heated from can. 🙂 

 The result was a pretty good meal.  My sister was impressed with the potatoes and she’s very rarely impressed with my meals. 🙂

Well I have some planning to do…I have 299 more meals to cook. 😉

Welcome to the 300 meal challenge!

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