Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Rachael Ray 2, 4, 6, 8: Great Meals for Couples or Crowds: Ginger Honey Tea

This recipe is. . .kind of intuitive.  It's tea.  With ginger and honey.  So the pictures are boring.

But what you have to understand is that when I made this, it was 19°F outside.  It hasn't been that cold here in a really long time, not even when we had this season's "snow," so it was cold, and Dennis was out of town, and I needed some good tea.

And this is good tea.

I forgot to add the lemon the original recipe called for, so I'm just going to leave it out.  If you want lemon in it, go for it.

Ginger Honey Tea

Serves 2 - 4, depending on how much you want


1 tsp. ground ginger
1 large strip lemon zest
6 cups water
1/3 cup honey
4 tea bags (I used Earl Gray.  Again, use whatever you like.)

In a medium-sized pot, mix the water, lemon zest, ginger, and honey.  Bring to a boil.  Once it boils, remove from heat and add tea bags.  Steep the bags to your desired strength, and remove the bags before serving.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Rachael Ray 2, 4, 6, 8: Great Meals for Couples or Crowds: Croque Madame

I have an extensive collection of Rachael Ray cookbooks.  I'm not entirely sure how this happened, but I suspect it has something to do with a Christmas gift I received back in 2006.  I had an aunt that bought the most awesome gifts (her taste in clothes for me skewed old, but that's what store credit is for!) and she bought a Rachael Ray book for me for that Christmas. 

Unfortunately, she died on Christmas Eve of that year, so it wasn't until a few months later when I was given the Christmas gifts she'd purchased for me beforehand.  This book was one of them.

I wasn't going for macabre in this post, but the point is, I have a ton of Rachael Ray cookbooks for no real reason except that I received a gift from beyond the grave that inspired them, and from that, I bought Rachael Ray 2, 4, 6, 8: Great Meals for Couples or Crowds.

I picked this book for the week I did because Dennis was out of town.  I figured that the meals for 2 could easily be converted to meals for 1, or I could use the leftovers for lunch the next day.

This first recipe I halved for myself, but I'm putting the amounts you'd use if you were making two.

It looks like a complicated recipe, but it's really not.  Just make sure you read through the directions before starting so you know what's going where when.  In my case, I thought this made 2 whole sandwiches and the egg and sauce went on top -- as it turns out, it's supposed to be an open-faced sandwich.  Oh well.  More carbs for me!

Croque Madame

Serves 2 (I made 1)


4 Tbsp. butter
1 heaping Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
2 slices sandwich bread
6 slices deli ham
6 slices deli Swiss cheese
Salt and pepper
Green onion, chopped (optional)

In a small pot over medium low heat, melt 2 Tbsp. butter.  Add flour and whisk for about a minute.  Add the milk and stir.  When the mixture bubbles, turn the heat down to low.  Add in nutmeg and Dijon.  Salt and pepper to taste and combine together.  Once the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, remove from heat.

Get two medium skillets and melt 1 Tbsp. butter in each over medium-low heat.  In the first skillet, once the butter melts, add the eggs, trying to keep the whites of each egg separate from each other. Begin building your sandwich by spreading butter on one side and the sauce you made on the other.  Place the bread butter side down on the second skillet and layer the meat and cheese on top of each other.  

Once the eggs are cooked to your liking, remove from the pan and place one on top of each sandwich, still in their own pan.  Cover the pan with foil and turn off heat, allowing the sandwiches to sit for 5 minutes to set cheese, sauce, and eggs.

Place each sandwich on a plate and spoon more sauce over the top of each.  I put green onions on mine, and that was a nice addition, but you don't have to.

Friday, January 25, 2013

The Everything Quick and Easy 30-Minute, 5-Ingredient Cookbook -- Fruity Tuna Steaks

Oh yeah.  I'm kind of into tuna now.  Between last week's tuna and this week's tuna, I'm pretty much a convert, and I've brought Dennis along with me.

At first, I was skeptical of this recipe, because curry powder isn't really my thing.  I had to buy a whole thing of it for this recipe, because it's just not something I use.  (Luckily, the spices at Trader Joe's are pretty reasonably priced!)  Even as I was adding it to the recipe, I wasn't convinced.  But then, everything was combined together and it smelled magical and amazing and this dish was born.

One thing to note in this one is that the original recipe calls for the use of apricot jam.  I didn't have much of a desire to buy an entire thing of apricot jam for one recipe, so I used some of the peach freezer jam my mother-in-law makes.  Whatever you'd like to use that will compliment orange juice would be fine.

Fruity Tuna Steaks

Serves 2 - 4, depending on how much tuna you use


2 - 4 tuna steaks (I used one big one and two small ones)

2 Tbsp. olive oil

2 tsp. curry powder

1 onion, chopped
1/3 cup frozen orange juice concentrate
2 Tbsp. water
1/4 cup fruity jam
salt and pepper

In a skillet big enough to hold your fish, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onion and cook, stirring constantly, for about 3 minutes.  Add the curry powder.  Cook, stirring constantly, for another 3 minutes.

Add the orange juice concentrate and water to the skillet.  Then add jam and salt and pepper to taste.  Bring this mixture to a boil, then reduce heat so sauce is simmering and add tuna.

Cook this for 3-4 minutes, depending on your preference of doneness, then turn tuna and cook another 3-4 minutes.

Remove tuna from skillet and, if needed, reduce the sauce by turning up heat until thickened.  (I didn't need any longer for the sauce.  It was reduced way down by the time my tuna was finished.

Pour sauce over tuna and serve.  Rice is a good side for this -- don't be like me and think, initially, that the tuna will be enough for an entire meal, along with a salad.  It will not.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Recipes from Sarah's Files -- Drunkin' Punkin Chili

Another Sarah original!  Another beer recipe (I swear I have non-drunkin' recipes in my arsenal!), this one is a pumpkin chili that's great for a cold winter night.

It's got a little bit of spice to it, but you can tweak it some to take that out. 

Drunkin' Punkin Chili
Serves 4 - 6


1 pound ground beef
2 Tbsp. garlic
1 large onion, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 Tbsp. cumin
1 Tbsp. oregano
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 cup beer (a pumpkin ale would be awesome, but I used a lager)
15 oz. pure pumpkin puree 
1 can Rotel
15 oz. can black beans
Salt and pepper
Sour cream (optional)
Shredded cheese (optional)

Add ground beef to a large pan and add the garlic, onion, carrot.  Season with salt and pepper and cook over medium-high heat until beef is cooked.

Reduce heat to medium.

Add the spices and tomato paste and stir to combine.

Add the beer.  Allow to cook and reduce for 5 minutes.

Add the pumpkin and Rotel.  Stir to combine.

Bring heat down to low.  Partially cover the pan and allow the chili to cook for 45 minutes.

Add the black beans and stir to combine.  Allow to cook for 10 more minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with sour cream and cheese if you'd like.

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Everything Quick and Easy 30-Minute, 5-Ingredient Cookbook -- Creamy Chicken Over Rice

This week's cookbook, The Everything Quick and Easy 30-Minute, 5-Ingredient Cookbook, was a used book store find.  Every month or two, I go to the used bookstore in search of something or other, and I end up buying more cookbooks.  This time, I was on the lookout for some new NES games, and I ended up leaving the store with 3 new cookbooks.  'Cause I need more of those.

I've once again accomplished the distinction from Dennis that this was the Best Meal I've Ever Made.  I keep setting my own bar higher and higher, and one of these days I'm going to have to just give up and make hot dogs every night.

But I will agree that this meal was pretty awesome.  It's even better the next day for lunch, as it turns out.

Truth be told, the only reason I decided to make this recipe was because I'd bought this Jasmine rice a few months ago, and it was just sitting in the freezer, and I thought the recipe called for Jasmine rice, so I got excited.

It literally wasn't until I was sitting here typing this that I noticed the recipe actually calls for Jasmati rice.  But the Jasmine rice was really good with it.  Or use white rice.  Whatever works best for you.

Creamy Chicken over Rice
Serves 2 - 4


1 1/2 cups rice (Jasmine, Jasmati, white, whatever you want)

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 jar Alfredo sauce
5 oz. cream cheese, softened

Prepare rice according to directions on package.  Set aside.

Cut chicken into 1- to 2-inch pieces and add salt and pepper.

Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat.  Add the onion and cook 3 to 4 minutes.

Add chicken to pan and cook until thoroughly cooked through.

Add Alfredo sauce and cream cheese to chicken.  Cook and stir until sauce bubbles.

Pour chicken and sauce over rice.  Serve and prepare for awesomeness.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Beginner's Cookbook -- Seared Tuna

Ooooh man.  This recipe?  Was amazing.  I'd never in my life cooked tuna before (unless you count taking a fork to dig it out of a can and mixing it with mayo, lemon juice, and garlic salt "cooking tuna"), and this was an amazing first experience.

The main reason tuna scared me so much was because of the uncookedness of it all.  Whenever you see seared tuna, it looks. . .raw.  Which it sort of is.  But what I discovered was that you don't have to leave it like that.  You can cook it straight through if you want.  It's just that it's probably better cooked the way you're supposed to cook it.

That being said, I about set my kitchen on fire making this, between accidentally dripping olive oil on a burner and then by not heeding the recipe's instructions to brush the fish with the oil rather than heating it in the pan and putting the fish into the heated oil.  Live and learn, right?

I also didn't get to take a picture of the ingredients, because it was done in two parts -- during lunch, I put together the maranade for the fish and let it sit, and then later, I made the salsa.  I made a few adjustments to this one, and it turned out fantastically.  Even Dennis, who was emphatic that he does not like tuna loved this recipe.  All in all, a good first tuna experience.

Also, sorry that I've been using the wrong abbreviation for Tablespoon.  I had no idea! 
Seared Tuna

Serves 2 - 4, depending on how much tuna you use

For the fish

2 - 4 tuna steaks (I used two big ones and a small one)

2 Tbsp. soy sauce
Zest and juice of 1 lime
1 Tbsp. olive oil

For the salsa
4 scallions, trimmed and finely chopped
5 Roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
Pinch of chili flakes
1 Tbsp. honey
1 Tbsp. Balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp. olive oil

Put the tuna in a shallow, non-metallic dish.  In a separate bowl, mix together soy sauce, lime zest, and lime juice.  Pour over fish and allow to marinate 1-2 hours, or if possible, overnight.  (Mine marinated for about 5 hours.)

Combine scallions, tomatoes, chili, oil, and vinegar in a small bowll to make the salsa.  Season if desired.  Set aside for 15-30 minutes to allow the flavors to mix.

Preheat a pan large enough to hold the fish over high heat for 2-3 minutes.  Brush the fish with oil (DO THIS!) and place in the hot pan for 2-3 minutes.  Do not shift the fish until this time is up.  Brush the side that's up with olive oil (making sure not to set your kitchen on fire) and turn. 

Cook for 2-3 more minutes without moving.  The tuna, in theory, should be pink in the center, but if you don't like it that way, that's OK.

Serve tuna on top of salsa.  You won't regret it.  This recipe is amazing.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Beginner's Cookbook -- Spaghetti Carbonara

This week's cookbook, "The Beginner's Cookbook," surprised me.  I expected it to be kind of simplistic, boring food, but the recipes turned out to be really good, while also being explained in a way that someone who didn't cook that much could understand.

Technically, this recipe was supposed to be Tagliatelle Carbonara, but since I had angel hair pasta in my cabinet, and I've never heard of a Tagliatelle, Spaghetti Carbonara it became.  It was really good, and really easy.

Spaghetti Carbonara

Serves 2


8 oz. angel hair pasta
1 Tbl. olive oil
4 strips bacon, chopped
1 Tbl. diced garlic
3 eggs
salt and pepper
2/3 cup Parmesan cheese
1 Tbl. either chopped parsley or Italian seasoning

Cook the pasta in salted water according to the directions on the package.

While the pasta is cooking, heat the oil in a skillet and fry the chopped bacon over high heat for 3 to 5 minutes until crispy.  Add the garlic and mix well.

Break the eggs into a bowl and beat.  Add salt and pepper as you want.

When the pasta is completely cooked, drain.

Scrape the bacon, garlic, and ensuing bacon fat from the bottom of the pan and return to heat.  Add pasta and stir well.

Pour the eggs into the pan and stir quickly, allowing the eggs to set.  

Remove from heat, sprinkle individual servings with cheese and parsley or Italian seasoning, and serve.

Sorry for the crappy picture. . .it was delicious, though!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Oh, hi there!

I haven't forgotten about you all.

I promise!

A few times a week, I think to myself, "Wow, Sarah.  You haven't blogged in forever."  Just so you know, I'm aware, and I'm sorry.

I know I keep apologizing.  And I'll stop apologizing and start writing again.  And soon!

Dinner last night will be a post.  And so will dinner tonight.  I'm trying a new tactic, where I make the meals I'm posting the week before I post them.  I think it'll help the continuity.

Also, we're getting Internet at home, which is exciting!  I won't have to type things up at home and hurriedly upload them at libraries, friends' houses, through my phone. . .

All that to say, check back next week for more cooking the books.  I've bought more new cookbooks (I know, I know. . .) and I look forward to doing this thing up right in 2013.

Thanks for sticking with me!