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Friday, December 30, 2011

rush-hour recipes: review and giveaway


Thought I'd disappeared???

Nope.  I was just busy celebrating the holidays, traveling, turning the big 3-0, and letting my husband do the cooking (that's what you do when you are pregnant, right?).  I was also testing out some delicious recipes from one of Gooseberry Patch's newest cookbooks...Rush-Hour Recipes! 


This is an awesome cookbook for those of us who need a quick meal or who want delicious food without spending all day in the kitchen.  I especially appreciated it at this point in my life...I've now got the figure of the Pillsbury Dough Boy and am moving at the pace of a snail.  It was nice to know that I could provide delicious meals for my husband even though I haven't really felt like cooking.  Everything was so easy that I didn't mind being in the kitchen one bit!

Rush-Hour Recipes is full of 230 recipes for those busy times in life.  I love the fact that it includes slow-cooker meals and potluck dishes as well as the run-of-the-mill family dinners.  You can find something for every occasion in this cookbook!  And like all of Gooseberry Patch's signature cookbooks, it's full of those cute little drawings and kitchen tips to make the cookbook just as fun to read straight through as it is to cook from.  I highly recommend it!

Once again, we picked a recipe from each chapter to try out and share with you.  Here they are, each given its own "reward"!

Messiest Main Meal
Crispy Corn Flake Chicken from the chapter "5-Ingredient Favorites"
 

These chicken legs were easy to assemble and had a wonderful flavor...but boy were they messy!  If you have kids, they'll love them (just make sure to have plenty of napkins on hand).  Being the refined adult that I am (yeah, right!), I think I'll use boneless chicken breasts next time so that I can use a fork and knife.  However you do it, the coating is delish!

Most Comforting
Tuna Tetrazzini from the chapter "One-Dish Dinners"


Tuna casserole is one of those dishes I associate with childhood, so it's perfect on those days when you just want something warm to fill you up.  I made this one when Cookie Bandit had a cold - I'm not sure he could taste much with his sniffles and all, but he ate every bit of it up.  I didn't have a cold, so I can vouch that it was excellent.  I loved how easy it was to put together, how creamy the texture turned out, and how much it reminded me of being a little kid.  It's definitely a must-try.

Most Flavorful
Tony's Peasant Soup from the chapter "Soup's On!"


Haha...so we have a confession regarding this soup.  We didn't actually follow the recipe.  We meant to, but I let Cookie Bandit make out the shopping list.  With him in charge, fresh basil turned into dried, and Italian sausage turned into sausage links.  We went with it though, and absolutely loved it!  I guess it just shows you how versatile this particular recipe is.  It's also an extremely quick fix if you use link sausage and precooked chicken breast like we did.  It was perfect for the one cold day we've had in Dallas...now if the temperature would go down, I'd make it again!


Richest Side Dish
Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes from the chapter "Slow Cookers to the Rescue"


These scalloped potatoes were made in the slow cooker!!!  Can you believe it?  I couldn't!  I was so intrigued by the idea that I just had to try it.  Man, my house smelled amazing that day.  Cookie Bandit walked into the door and just started sniffing...it was all I could do to get him to wait for dinner.  The potatoes cooked perfectly, and the sauce was creamy and delicious.  This recipe makes enough for a crowd, so it's perfect for a potluck!

Best Make-Out Bread
Quick Brown Bread from the chapter "Make-a-Meal Sides"


Odd choice of an award?  Yes.  But let me tell you...every time Cookie Bandit and I ate this bread, we started kissing!!!  We don't know why, but we liked it. :)  He was very, very sad when we finished eating the loaf.  So...just a warning...don't serve this bread to anyone you don't like!  On a more serious note, this bread was a fantastic find.  I whipped it up in about 5 minutes, and it finished baking just in time for the soup to be done.  It's made with all whole wheat and flavored with molasses, so it passed my "relatively healthy" test.  And, it's amazing in the morning with jam or Nutella.  Loved, loved, loved it!

Most Crowd Pleasing
Very Best Texas Caviar from the chapter "Speedy Potluck & Party Foods"


This stuff was so good!  It took just minutes to assemble, made tons of servings, and stole the show as the most colorful thing on the dinner table.  I ate it as an appetizer with tortilla chips, slopped it on top of my nachos, and later ate it straight up as a side.  Either way, I thought it was delicious.  The nice thing about making this dish yourself is that you can adjust the heat by changing how much jalapeno you include.  It's also a great source of fiber and veggies.  Lately, it's been unusual for me to go gaga over a vegetable, but I really loved this.

Cookie Bandit gets to pick which one of the above recipes I share with you.  It didn't take long for him to decide on his overall favorite...of course he picked the bread!  What husband doesn't love kissing his wife??? :) 


 Combine the milk and vinegar and let it just sit and coddle...or, use straight up buttermilk instead!  Your pick!


Mix together the whole-wheat flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda...


Mix together the egg, molasses, and shortening or oil with the buttermilk mixture...


Then combine the wet and dry ingredients and pour the batter into a greased loaf pan!


Thirty minutes later at 350 degrees, your bread is done!


Be sure to try some warm and slathered in honey butter...yum.


Quick Brown Bread
From Gooseberry Patch's Rush-Hour Recipes
1 cup milk
1 T. white vinegar
2 cups whole-wheat lour
1 t. salt
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup molasses
1/4 cup shortening, melted and cooled, or oil

Combine milk and vinegar in a small bowl; let stand for a few minutes.  In a separate large bowl, combine flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.  Mix thoroughly and set aside.  Add remaining ingredients to milk mixture.  Add milk mixture to flour mixture; stir just enough to barely mix.  Pour batter into a well-greased 9"x5" loaf pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center tests clean.  Makes one loaf.

So...how can YOU win a free copy of Rush-Hour Recipes?  Just leave me a comment answering the following question - which of the other recipes featured above would you like me to share?  I'll tally up the answers and share that recipe when I announce the winner!  (Please also make sure I have access to a valid e-mail so that I can contact you if you win.  No contact info, no entry!)  Giveaway ends January 8 at midnight (Central time).  Winner announced Monday, January 9.

PS - Gooseberry Patch gave me a free book to review as well as another to give away, but the views and opinions (and pictures!) presented in this post are entirely my own!   Disclosure...check!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

creamy lemon-pepper bow tie pasta


The weather is finally getting cold here, and nothing warms us up like a creamy pasta dish.  This one is incredibly easy and makes a beautiful side or main dish.  The flavors are also fantastic and can be easily customized to meet your individual tastes.  You must try it!

First, sprinkle some strips of chicken breast very liberally with lemon pepper seasoning.  The lemon-pepper absolutely makes this dish, so don't go skimpy!  Cook the chicken with some minced garlic in some olive oil until it's cooked through.  Once it's done, remove it to another dish and keep it warm.


Pour some chicken broth into the skillet and add vegetables, cream cheese, and lemon juice.  You can use fresh vegetables or frozen, and you can use whatever mix you would like.  I chose to use fresh carrot strips and a bag of frozen stir-fry vegetables (basically, I was trying to use up what was in my fridge/freezer...lol).  That's what I love about this recipe - it's incredibly versatile!



Cook and stir until your veggies are tender and the cream cheese has melted.  You want to create a nice sauce - if it's too runny, then let it cook a bit to reduce down.  If it's too thick, I'd add some cream to get it to the desired consistency.  At this point, you should also taste it.  Add salt or more lemon-pepper to get the flavors just right.


Add the chicken back to the skillet and toss in some cooked bow tie pasta.  Mix well so that all of the pasta and chicken are coated with your delicious sauce.


Serve as a side dish or as a main dish alongside a fresh salad or grilled vegetable.  Enjoy!


Creamy Lemon-Pepper Bow Tie Pasta
1 box bow tie pasta
1 lb. chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch strips
lemon-pepper seasoning
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 T. canola oil
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup fresh or frozen vegetables
2/3 cup shredded carrots
3 oz. cream cheese
2 t. lemon juice
salt, to taste
heavy cream (optional)

Cook pasta according to package instructions.  Meanwhile, sprinkle chicken liberally with lemon-pepper.  In a large nonstick skillet, stir fry the chicken and garlic in oil until the chicken is cooked through.  Remove and keep warm.  Add broth, vegetables, cream cheese, and lemon juice to the skillet; cook and stir until cheese is melted.  Drain pasta.  Add pasta, chicken, and salt to vegetable mixture; heat through.  If desired, add heavy cream to thin consistency of sauce.
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