Tonight is the season 3 premiere of Downton Abbey. I’m excited to see how things are going for the Grantham family.
I’m not really a fan of Lady Mary and Matthew. Lady Mary’s a tad whiny for me. My favorite Grantham sister is Lady Sybil.
Branson & Lady Sybil
And I’m especially Team Bates & Anna. Oh Mr. Bates! Swoon!
If you’re looking for an English classic with a twist to enjoy during the show tonight, might I suggest Mini Shepherd’s Pies.
The Countess Dowager may not approve of finger foods, but I’ll never tell her.
Mini Shepherd’s Pies
Recipe from LHJ Feb 2013, adapted
Makes about 36 bite-sized pies
1 17 ounce package (2 sheets) frozen puff pastry, thawed
3 tablespoons EVOO
1/2 pound of ground beef
2 tablespoons minced tarragon
2 tablespoons chopped chives
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
1/4 cup onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
1/2 cup corn, canned
1/2 cup peas, canned
salt & pepper, to taste
1 1/2 cups mashed potatoes (I used Simply Potatoes, but you can certainly make your own too!)
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Spray a mini muffin pan with non-stick spray. Set aside.
Unroll your puff pastry sheets on the counter. Cut into 2 inch rounds. (I don’t have a pastry cutter, so I just used a shot glass to cut the pastry into circles.) Press the rounds into your muffin pan. Prick the bottoms of the pastry with a fork. Place the muffin tin into the freezer while preparing the filling.
Heat 1 tablespoon of EVOO in a skillet over medium heat. Brown the ground beef. Stir in the tarragon, chives, cumin, and garlic powder. Transfer the meat into a bowl. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of EVOO to the skillet along with the diced onions and carrots. Cook for about 3 minutes. Add the corn and cook for about 2 minutes. Return the meat to the skillet and stir together. Add in the peas to the mixture along with salt & pepper to taste. Stir.
Scoop a small amount of filling into each puff pastry cup. Bake for about 16-18 minutes. Remove from oven and cool for just a few minutes. Remove from the muffin and pipe a dollop of heated mashed potatoes onto each pie.
Enjoy immediately while still hot!
*** If you’re looking for a recap of Downton Abbey to prep for tonight, my friend, Kristin, wrote a great one here!
Several weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending the Cooking Planit launch party in Austin. Cooking Planit is an easy to use application for your iPhone, iPad, or you can utilize their website. I’m partial to the iPhone app as it NEVER fails that I leave my grocery list at home. The app can be a time saver, so that you’re not making multiple trips to the groceries store.
My favorite part of Cooking Planit is the picture layout. For a novice cook, it’s so helpful to see the planning/prep portion. Not only does it separate the ingredients by category, but it always tells you what cooking equipment you need. So easy to clearly see that I’ll need 1 bowl, 1 pot, and 1 saute pan vs. reading in the recipe too late and scrambling to find my illusive whisk or whatnot.
So, what did I make from Cooking Planit??
Shrimp Scampi over Angel Hair Pasta
Recipe slightly adapted from Cooking Planit
25-30 peeled, thawed (if previously frozen) shrimp, tails removed
Salt & pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic
1 pound angel hair pasta
3 tablespoons lemon juice
3/4 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons parsley
4 tablespoons butter
Fill a large pot two-thirds full with cold water. Place over high heat. Add salt to the water and wait for it to boil.
In the meantime, dry your shrimp thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside. Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add olive oil. Once the olive oil is hot, add your shrimp and sear on one side, about 3 minutes.
Add the garlic to the shrimp. Flip each shrimp and cook another 3 minutes. Transfer cooked shrimp to a plate. Save the pan with the remaining olive oil in it.
Once your water is boiling, stir in the angel hair pasta. You may add a bit of olive oil to the pasta water to keep the pasta from sticking after strained. Cook the pasta for about 5 minutes. Strain after cooked, set aside until sauce/shrimp ready if needed.
Place the saute pan back over medium heat. Once pan is warm, pour in the lemon juice and white wine. Scrape up any bits from the bottom of the pan. Let the liquid cook for about 3 minutes until reduced by about half.
Then stir in chopped parsley to the liquid. Remove saute pan from heat and whisk in the butter. Once the butter is melted, add the shrimp and strained pasta to the pan. Toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Now for the giveaway!!
Cooking Planit is giving away one of their iPhone apps for free! Would you like the Cooking Planit app? It’s great for ideas in a pinch and ideas to get out of a cooking slump.
To enter: Two ways to win.
1. Like Cooking Planit on Facebook. Leave a comment letting me know you’ve done so.
2. Follow Cooking Planit on Twitter. Leave a comment letting me know you’ve done so.
Contest ends Sunday night at 11 pm.
Winner will be drawn on Monday morning.
**July 9 Update: Voted into Foodbuzz’s Daily Top 9.**
I’m really considering buying Taylor Swift’s new perfume, Wonderstruck.
Is it acceptable for a 33 year old to buy perfume from a 22 year old?
Sometimes I actually act my age. I made grown-up burgers! Delicious & grown-up!
Pesto Chicken Burgers
Recipe adapted from Everyday Food
1 pound ground chicken
2 large tomatoes, cut into thick slices
red onion slices, if desired
fresh mozzarella, sliced
buns or thick bread, such as focaccia (I used an Asiago bread.)
salt & pepper, to taste
pesto (I used pre-made, but you can certainly make your own.)
Heat a grill or grill-pan to medium-high.
Season ground chicken with salt and pepper. Form into 4 patties.
Lightly brush grill pan with olive oil. Cook chicken patties for 4 minutes, covered. Flip patties and top with mozzarella cheese, continuing to cook.
In the meantime, slice tomatoes and red onion. Brush tomatoes with oil oil. Season tomatoes with salt and pepper. Add tomatoes and onion to the grill and cook, flipping once.
Cook until chicken burgers are opaque throughout and tomatoes are slightly charred.
Assemble burgers with bread/buns, chicken burgers, pesto, tomatoes, and onion.
Now that I’m living in Austin, I find myself craving Mexican food all the time!
I made this chicken tamale casserole for lunch today. Just in time for Cinco de Mayo! Ole!!
It was super easy to make and very tasty.
I hope your Cinco de Mayo weekend is filled with yummy food and margaritas!
Chicken Tamale Casserole
Recipe from Six in the Suburbs
1/3 cup skim milk
1/2 tablespoon taco seasoning, for the corn mixture
1/4 teaspoon Cayenne pepper
1 14.5 ounce can cream style corn
1 8.5 ounce box Jiffy corn muffin mix
1 4 ounce can green chiles
2 cups shredded, skinless Rotisserie chicken
1 tablespoon taco seasoning, for the chicken
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 10 ounce can red enchilada sauce
3/4 cup shredded Mexican blend cheese
Fresh chopped Cilantro, for garnish
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a pie plate with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.
In a large bowl, add your milk, egg, 1/2 tablespoon taco seasoning, cayenne pepper, can of cream style corn, Jiffy corn muffin mix, and can of green chiles. Stir mixture until combined. Pour the mixture into your prepared pie plate.
Bake corn mixture for 15 minutes.
In the meantime, shred your Rotisserie chicken. Combine the shredded chicken with 1 tablespoon taco seasoning, salt and pepper.
After 15 minutes, remove corn mixture from the oven. (It will still be pretty soupy.) Pierce the corn mixture with a fork quite a few times throughout. Pour enchilada sauce over the top of the pierced corn mixture. Place the shredded chicken on top of the sauce. Sprinkle the cheese on top of the chicken.
Bake for an additional 15 minutes. Remove from the oven. Let casserole stand for 5 minutes.
Top with cilantro, if desired.
I added a dollop of sour cream to mine. And you should add some avocado slices as well!
**April 28 Update: Voted into Foodbuzz’s Daily Top 9.**
I love behind the scenes/day in the life posts from bloggers. I’m so bad about planning and keeping on a consistent blog schedules.
I’ve read that some bloggers have went so far as to not have cable TV. They wanted to eliminate cable as a distraction from focusing on their blog.
I couldn’t do that. First of all, I’m too weak to give up cable. And second, not having cable would actually lessen my blog content.
If I didn’t have cable, I couldn’t tell you about my 2 new favorite shows! (See how I tied that together. I’m smooth.)
Have you watched BFF on NBC? It’s hilarious! The 1st two episodes especially…I was rolling!
Scandal is the newest show from Shonda Rhimes. Rhimes has finally broken out of the hospital realm (Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice). Scandal is well…scandalous, crimes, affairs, love, government, etc etc. I’d say if you like the drama of Grey’s plus the better story lines from The Good Wife….then Scandal may be for you.
You know what else may be for you? Meatballs!
Recipe from The Pioneer Woman
For the meatballs:
1 & 1/2 pounds ground beef
3/4 cups Old Fashioned oats
1 cup milk
3 tablespoons finely minced onion
1 & 1/2 teaspoon salt
black pepper, to taste
For cooking the meatballs:
1 cup flour
For the sauce:
1 cup Heinz ketchup
2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons vinegar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire
4-6 tablespoons minced onion
1 dash Tabasco
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine all of the meatball ingredients. Roll into small-to-medium sized -balls and place them on a cookie sheet.
Place the cookie sheet in freezer for five minutes. The freezer helps with meatballs hold their shape.
After 5 minutes, remove the meatballs from freezer. Dredge the meatballs in unseasoned flour.
In a skillet, heat your canola oil. Add the floured meatballs to the oil. Cook until just browned. Place browned meatballs into a baking dish.
Combine all of the sauce ingredients.
Pour sauce over the meatballs.
Bake for 45 minutes.
The meatballs were great! It was a fun alternative to meatloaf. Try them for dinner yourself this week! You can even eat them in front of the TV while watching BFF!
The last two weeks of my life have been consumed, CONSUMED, by playing Temple Run on my iPhone.
I blame Jessica. It started off okay. It took me awhile to get the hang of it. I was super pumped when I got 85k. But that was just child’s play!!
I finally broke 1 million last week. And I thought, okay, I’m done with this game. Then, I got 1.9 million!
I had to break 2 million. Challenge accepted!
I finally, finally did it today!!!
3,359,656!!! YES!! Now, it hurts to bend my index finger after all this game play. So, I’m retiring Temple Run.
If you’ve scored higher than me, please don’t tell me. I don’t think my heart couldn’t take it!
In order to get a 3+ million score, you’ll need to play on a full stomach.
Beef & Tomato Stew
Recipe from Everyday Food Jan/Feb 2012
1 tablespoon EVOO
1 large yellow onion, diced
3 medium carrots, sliced
3 celery stalks, sliced
2 pounds beef stew meat
1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 cup chicken broth
3 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon pepper
4 cups cooked brown rice
Greek yogurt & parsley for topping, if desired
In a large skillet, heat your EVOO over medium heat. Add onion, carrots, and celery to skillet. Stir vegetables frequently and cook for about 10 minutes.
Transfer mixture to your crock-pot. Add beef, tomatoes, chicken brother, garlic, salt & pepper to your crock pot.
Cover and cook on high for 6 hours. Stir occasionally.
Serve stew over a bed of rice. Top with a dollop of Greek yogurt and some parley. You can also add some hot sauce for a bit of a kick!
I love how the carrots just fall apart in your mouth in this stew! And the variation of rice versus potatoes works too. It’s easy, winter food!!
What’s your favorite game to play on your cell phone??
Did you watch the Golden Globes last night? They were pretty dull. I watched to see if Homeland would will Best Drama TV Series and to see if Claire Danes would win Best Actress in a TV Drama Series. It did and she did! Love that show!
And, of course, I watched to see what everyone was wearing!!
Julie’s Top 5 Best Dressed Actresses at the Golden Globes
5. Reece Witherspoon
4. Kate Beckinsale
3. Jessica Alba
2. Sarah Hyland
1. Claire Danes
When I’m not busy watching E!, I sometimes cook dinner.
Smothered Pork Chops
Recipe adapted from Food Network Magazine–Dec 2011
6 boneless pork chops
Kosher salt, to taste
1/2 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons EVOO
1 tablespoon butter
1 large onion, slice 1/4″ thick
1 cup mushrooms, sliced (I used shiitake mushrooms.)
1 tablespoon thyme
1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2/3 cup buttermilk
Sprinkle the pork chops on both sides with salt and the Cajun seasoning. Pour the flour into a shallow dish. Dredge the pork chops in the flour, coating on both sides. Tap off any excess flour. Reserve the remaining flour.
Heat the EVOO in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pork chops to the heated skillet. Cook until browned, 2-3 minutes on each side. Transfer browed pork chops to a plate.
Add the butter, onion, mushrooms, and thyme to the skillet. Cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 2 tablespoons of the reserved flour to the skillet. Cook for 1 minute, stirring continuously. Add the chicken broth, bring to a boil and cook about 2 minutes. Add the buttermilk to the skillet, stir.
Return the pork chops to the skillet. Bring the sauce to a simmer, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook until the sauce is thickened and the pork chops are cooked, 10-12 minutes.
One of my New Year’s Resolutions is to make more savory, “real food” for my blog. Because if I keep up with the sweets, none of my clothes are going to fit. Has this happened to other new bloggers??!? Uh oh.
But today is a new day!!
Spaghetti with Sausage & Mushroom Sauce
Recipe slightly adapted from Food Network magazine–Nov ’11
Kosher salt, to taste & to season the pasta water
box of whole wheat spaghetti
3 teaspoons EVOO
3/4 pound spicy ground Italian sausage
8 ounces of sliced mixed mushrooms (I used a combination of white button, baby bella & Shiitake mushrooms.)
black pepper, to taste
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon chopped rosemary
1/4 cup heavy cream
shredded parmesan cheese, for topping
Bring a pot of salted water to boil. Add the spaghetti. Cook per the instructions on the box. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water. Drain pasta.
In a large non-stick skillet, heat 1 teaspoon of EVOO. Add the Italian sausage and cook until browned over medium heat. Transfer sausage to a bowl and set it aside.
To the skillet, add 2 teaspoons of EVOO. Over medium-high heat, add the mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add in tomato paste and rosemary. Stir for 1 minute.
Return the cooked sausage to the skillet. Add the cream and reserved pasta water, stir. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook for 8-10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Combine spaghetti and sausage & mushroom sauce.
Top with parmesan cheese, if desired.
It was a great variation on typical spaghetti and meat sauce. The spiciness of the sausage gave it a good kick.
I had this really good idea about 3 weeks ago to do a Peach Week on my blog.
And then I procrastinated.
And now everyone has been doing a Peach Week on their blogs!
Wow. I wasn’t as original as I thought. Ha!
So, I’m forgoing the peach “week”. It didn’t stop me from making some deliciousness though.
Skillet Pork Chop Saute with Peaches
Recipe from Cooking Light–June 2011
2 tsp olive oil
4 4-oz boneless pork loin chops
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 shallots, thinly sliced
2 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
2 peaches, cut into wedges
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup fat-free, low sodium chicken broth
2 tsp honey
2 tsp butter
Heat a large skillet over med-high heat. Add olive oil to skillet.
Season your pork chops with salt and pepper. Add the pork chops to your skillet. Cook for 5 minutes on each side or until done.
Remove pork chops from skillet and keep warm. (I moved them to a small pan on low heat with a lid on top.)
Add your sliced shallots and chopped thyme and peaches to your skillet. Cook for 2 minutes.
Stir in your white wine (and take a big gulp for yourself!). Scrape the skillet with a wooden spoon to loosen any brown bits. Bring to a boil.
Cook until reduced to about 1/3 cup (about 3-5 minutes). Stir in your broth and honey. Bring to a boil.
Again cook until reduced to about 1/3 cup (about 3-5 more minutes).
Remove skillet from heat. Stir in butter.
Spoon sauce over pork chops.
Serves 4. Estimated calories: 235
Oops. I haven’t blogged since Tuesday. I had such high hopes last weekend. I planned! I made a schedule!! I’ve even made some food that I could have blogged about!!! Oh well.
You haven’t forgotten about me, have you? Come back. Please.
I’ll make you dinner.
Savory Balsamic Chicken
Recipe from Lea & Perrins
6 chicken breasts (I prefer to use chicken tenders.)
1/3 cup flour
2 tbl butter, divided
1 tbl vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 tbl balsamic vinegar
Defrost your chicken. Pat chicken dry with paper towels to remove excess moisture. Season chicken with salt & pepper. Generously dread both sides of your chicken into flour.
Heat 1 tablespoon of your butter and your vegetable oil on medium to medium-high in a large skillet.
Cook your chicken 5-7 minutes on each side until golden brown and juices run clear. I always cut into my chicken a bit to ensure it’s cooked through.
Move chicken onto a dish.
(If you have picky eaters, you can just serve the chicken like this! Add a side of their favorite dipping sauce and kids or kids-at-heart are good to go.)
In the same skillet, add your remaining ingredients. Bring liquid to a boil and cook for 5 minutes.
Add your chicken to the skillet to heat it back up a bit. Stir in the remaining butter.
Serve with your favorite side dish.