No Dining Out 30 Day Challenge

People think that if you love to cook and love food as I do that you would never go out to eat. Why? Why not just cook at home all the time? In a perfect world I would totally agree! Unfortunately, sometimes things get in the way. Like bad habits or for us specifically, it’s not having a dishwasher. I am sure you can imagine how many dishes I create while making or experimenting with meals at home. Mostly because I try to make anything I can from scratch and that makes alot of dishes. Since we bought our house almost 2 years ago I have been cooking with no dishwasher. Which may sound totally whiney but in my opinion a foodie without a dishwasher is like a race car without a pit crew or a model without her make up artist. (dramatic much? maybe.) Either way, we were spending entirely too much money on dining out. So we made a challenge to ourselves. We could save a ton of money for our new dishwasher by totally eliminating dining out of any form for 30 days. I plan on blogging every dinner, the good, the bad and the convenient (cereal anyone?). However I am coming armed with my menu plan and the accountability of my readers and friends! I will be posting a menu with recipes I plan on trying along with recipes from the past at the beginning of each week, so I encourage you to join along with me!

Menu Week 1 (Sunday 3/20-Saturday 3/26)

Sunday: Creamy Taco Mac
Monday: School (cooking class so I eat at school)
Tuesday: Garlic Lime Shrimp
Wednesday:Thai Chicken and veggie skewers, herbed jasmine rice
Thursday: Spicy Honey Chicken Thighs, Roasted potatoes and garlic green beans
Friday: Greek Meatballs and creamy orzo
Saturday: Birthday party (back up-grilled pizza for dinner!)

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Reuben Sandwiches

I don’t know about all of you, but like many people we made corned beef and cabbage for St. Paddy’s day. Well actually, we went out for wings on St. Paddy’s day but we did make corned beef and cabbage the day before! Either way it was made, and it made a ton! My hubby’s favorite sandwich is a Reuben and to be honest I never make them for him. Every time I order one at a restaurant, I can usually only taste one thing- whether that be the overly salted corned beef, gobs of thousand island dressing or heaps of cold sauerkraut. Ick. No Thank you! For his sake though, I decided to over come my feelings on the sandwich and make the best one I could make at home. Turns out, Reuben sandwiches are delicious if you make them right! These really turned out fantastic. Who needs a deli? I just saved myself about 10 bucks and made a darn tasty sandwich at home. Speaking of great deals, now is the cheapest time to buy corned beef. I always stock up on a few and pop them in the freezer.
P.S. You could make this sandwich for one person or for 10 so I will be listing the ingredients and assembly, but I won’t be listing specific amounts on each ingredient.

Reuben Sandwiches

Any kind of Rye Bread
Corned beef- if at ALL possible, let it be leftovers from corned beef and cabbage cooked at home! (the deli stuff just doesn’t compare)
swiss cheese slices
pickle spears

First, make your thousand island dressing. For 4 sandwiches I mixed 1/4 cup ketchup, 1/4 mayonnaise and 2 pickle spears diced. Mix well and set aside.
Next, set up an assembly line for your sandwiches.
Warm sauerkraut – I warmed mine for about 30 seconds in the microwave, I used about 1 cup for our 4 sandwiches. Cover and set aside.
Shred corned beef, I put a pretty heft amount on, this is up to you. Corned beef should be the thickest layer on the sandwich.
Butter both sides of 2 slices of bread, toast in pan to get golden brown.
For assembly:
On bottom slice of bread, spread about 1 tablespoon of thousand island dressing
Top with shredded corned beef
Next add two slices of swiss cheese
I assemble all sandwiches that I am making up to this point, then place sandwiches on a cookie sheet and place under a broiler for 1-2 minutes until cheese melts.
Once cheese is melted, top with a THIN layer of sauerkraut and about 1/2 tablespoon more of dressing. Top with other toasted bread slice, cut in half and enjoy!

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Posted in Beef Dishes, Quick and Easy Recipes | 1 Comment

The easiest biscuits on the face of the planet!

These are seriously almost as easy as opening a can of biscuits. Today I had the opportunity to chat with several grandmas while at a friends daughters birthday party. Any time I’m around grandmas I always ask how they make their biscuits, because if a Grandma doesn’t know how to make biscuits then we are all done for! This sweet lady told me these were the easiest and tastiest biscuits she has ever made.Turns out, this recipe had two ingredients! YAY! Biscuit Redemption was just around the corner! I rushed home to make them and as it turns out-they are delicious and they are easy! Give these a try, I mean honestly, YOU CAN NOT SCREW THESE UP!

The easiest biscuits on the face of the planet

2 cups self rising flour
1 cup heavy cream

Pre heat oven to 450

Combine flour and cream and knead together until incorporated. Roll out to 1/2 inch thickness on a floured surface. Cut biscuits with biscuit cutter and place on lightly sprayed cooking sheet.
Bake 12 minutes (watch the biscuits carefully, I swapped my trays from the bottom rack to the top rack and vice versa half way through baking- but my oven gets really hot, so I do this to prevent scorching on the bottom)
Makes 12-15 biscuits

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Posted in Quick and Easy Recipes, The Basics... | 2 Comments

Sweet and Sour Chicken

I love the idea of getting the “restaurant” food I’m craving without having to spend a fortune to get it. Now, mind you, I know Chinese take out doesn’t exactly break the bank but that’s not the point! In our house, its money we could put towards something else a little more important (like the holy cow when are we going to get a dishwasher fund). Not to mention, making your own take out food is SO much better for you and last but not least…This tastes better! 🙂
This recipe was given to me by a friend of mine several years ago. We’ve adapted the recipe to suit our tastes, but couldn’t tell you where the original recipe came from! Either way, it is delicious and should be tried as soon as you can get your hands on some chopsticks (or a fork, I won’t tell).

Sweet and Sour Chicken
Serves 3-4

3-4 boneless skinless chicken breasts ( you could also use thighs)
salt and pepper
1 1/2 cups corn starch
4 large eggs beaten
1 1/2 cups Canola Oil (or vegetable oil)

3/4 cup sugar
4 tablespoons ketchup
1/2 cup white vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon garlic powder

Turn broiler on low
Whisk all the ingredients for the sauce in a large bowl, set aside.
Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium high heat. ( I used to use a Wok, but found that my chicken never stayed crispy!)
Cut chicken into bite sized pieces. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Dip chicken in cornstarch and then in egg. Test the oil to make sure that it is ready to fry and then fry all chicken in several batches. In my pan it took about 3 large batches. Turn the chicken frequently to prevent burning. Chicken should be golden brown ( about 3 minutes total, each stove is different). After each batch of chicken is fried, put on a large sheet pan and put it on the bottom rack of the oven to keep crispy and warm while the other batches are being fried. You could also do this entire step in a deep fryer, transferring to the oven as each batch is done.

Once all chicken is fried, clean out all the extra oil from the skillet. Add the chicken back to the pan and add the sauce, but only start with half of it. You will make it soggy if you put it all at once. Do not be alarmed at the strong smell of the sauce! You are smelling the vinegar and it is really strong but that is the sour in sweet and sour! Don’t worry though, it will taste heavenly. Continue to toss on a high heat until the chicken starts to become slightly dark and sticky. Add the remaining sauce to your liking. Serve over white rice.


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Posted in Chicken Dishes | 5 Comments

Strawberries with Sabayon Sauce

As you may know by now, I can’t bake. So usually that means no sweets in our house, unless it comes out of the freezer or out of a box. So when we made this in class last week I was so excited! I actually made it and amazingly enough the house didn’t burn down and my Chef approved! Overall, a banner dessert for me I would say! Even though, generally I am not a fan of custards, this sauce is incredible. The fruitiness (is that a word?) of the wine and the richness of the cream taste fantastic with fresh strawberries, or any fresh fruit for that matter.
There are only a few steps to this recipe, which is a combination of the recipe we made in class, which I can’t give credit to the creator for, because it was from my Chef’s recipe from the Culinary Institute of America and this recipe.
This is such a fun dessert to make! Try it! It will make you feel fancy! Just saying Sabayon will make you feel gourmet! 🙂

Strawberries with Sabayon Sauce
1 lb fresh strawberries (approx 2 pints)
For the sabayon
6 egg yolks
1 cup white wine, I used a Sauvignon Blanc (any sweet white wine will do here)
1/3 cup sugar, plus more to taste

For the whipped cream
1 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons sugar

Preparing the strawberries:

Rinse the strawberries (stems on) and drain them on paper towels. Slice off the stems and halve or quarter the strawberries lengthwise, depending on size, into a bowl.
Whipping the sabayon:
Before preparing the sabayon sauce, have one pot of water simmering (this pot will hold the bowl you prepare your sauce in, so be sure that it will fit, and that the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water in the pot). Also have a large bowl filled with ice that will fit the sauce bowl as well.
Whisk (to save yourself time, use a hand mixer on medium speed) to blend the yolks, wine, and sugar in the stainless-steel bowl. Rest the bowl in the saucepan over hot water. Whisk constantly for 4 to 5 minutes or more to cook the sauce, until it has the consistency of lightly whipped cream. Clear the bottom of the bowl constantly with the whisk so that the eggs do not scramble, and adjust the heat as needed. Taste the sauce — the sabayon should never get so hot that you can’t stick your very clean finger in it and whisk more sugar if you want. When thick, foamy, and tripled in volume, remove from heat. Set bowl of sauce, into a larger bowl filled with ice to cool. Whisk occasionally to cool the sauce.

To prepare the whipped cream:
In a bowl, using either a whisk or mixer, whip cream and sugar until soft peaks form.

Once sauce has begun to cool, gently fold in whipped cream, be careful as you fold in the whipped cream. If you fold in the whipped cream very gently the air will stay in the cream and it will stay nice and fluffy. The sauce can be served at this temperature or it can be chilled and served later.


Spoon a portion of strawberries — 1/2 cup or more — into each goblet or glass, and top with 1/3 to 1/2 cup of sabayon. Or put the sauce in the glass first, then the strawberries.

P.S. I DARE YOU not to lick the bowl. It’s ok. I did and I am woman enough to admit it.


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Buttermilk Fried Pork Chops

So here’s the thing about blogging recipes and food. I feel like the photo of the food is so important to deciding whether or not a recipe is worth trying. So imagine how incredibly sad I was to learn that my camera battery had died AFTER I had plated up these pork chops last week. I was really bummed because these were so good that I really wanted to share them with you! So, I made them again, four days later, only this time I made sure my camera battery was charged. haha! Well, I did say they were good! Twice in one week good? Yes indeed!

Buttermilk Fried Pork Chops

4-6 thin cut boneless pork chops
kosher salt

1 and 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 teaspoon hot sauce (I use Franks Hot Sauce- this doesn’t really add heat, just flavor)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon Mrs. Dash
1 teaspoon dried drill

1 1/2 cups All purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon Mrs. Dash

1 cup vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 250 (to keep warm after cooking)
Using a meat mallet (or in my case a french rolling-pin) pound pork chops evenly to desired thickness. We prefer ours thin, so ours were a little less than 1/2 inch thick.
Salt and pepper pork chops lightly on both sides.
Whisk all ingredients for marinade together in a large bowl (buttermilk through Mrs. Dash), add pork chops and coat them well. Allow to marinate for one hour.
In a separate bowl combine flour, salt, pepper, Mrs. dash and garlic powder.
To bread pork chops, allow excess buttermilk to drain off the pork chop, then coat in flour and make sure that the chop is evenly coated. Shake off excess flour.
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. The oil should be hot enough so that the pork chops will begin to fry immediately (without burning). Add pork chops to pan, allow pork chops to fry 4-5 minutes per side until golden brown and pork chops are cooked through. Be careful when you are turning the chops, try not to break the crust and only turn once if possible. Once pork chops are done, transfer to oven to keep warm until you are ready to serve.

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It feels like forever since I’ve been able to post anything! This month has been absolutely insane. Between school, being deathly ill ( like everyone else I know!), school, some catering jobs and work I have been going ninety to nothing and have had no time to cook at home.
However, I did manage to get a few pictures from a friends baby shower that I co-hosted last weekend. It was your standard girly food fare. Roasted chicken salad, cupcakes, brownies, fun salads, dips and hummus. This is my favorite recipe for hummus. I adore Ina Garten (The Barefoot Contessa) and to be honest, I have never tried a bad recipe from her. This hummus is no different. It is SO easy. All you need is a food processor! Next, get your ingredients lined up on the counter, whazz them up, toss in a bowl and everyone will love it.

Thanks Ina!

(ps. sorry if the photo isn’t that great, I was being swarmed by hungry women at the shower, it was basically a drive by photo. haha!)

•4 garlic cloves
•2 cups canned chickpeas, drained, liquid reserved
•1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
•1/3 cup tahini (sesame paste)
•6 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
•2 tablespoons water or liquid from the chickpeas
•8 dashes hot sauce
Turn on the food processor fitted with the steel blade and drop the garlic down the feed tube; process until it’s minced. Add the rest of the ingredients to the food processor and process until the hummus is coarsely pureed. Taste, for seasoning, and serve chilled or at room temperature
* I served my hummus with whole wheat and white pita that I cut into triangles for easily nibbling.
Makes- 2 3/4 cups

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Posted in Appetizers, Quick and Easy Recipes | 1 Comment