Friday, April 25, 2008

Chinese Take-Out Style Orange Chicken


Oh, sorry, I was just a little excited about this recipe! I love Chinese take out food. I know it's rarely an authentic recipe from China, nor is it usually healthy, but I love it. So to be able to recreate that flavor in my kitchen- while knowing what I'm putting into the meal- it fantastic!

Now I'm gonna tell you, this isn't exactly health food. I mean, there is a half cup of brown sugar in it! But I know there isn't a ton of salt, fat, or MSG, so I'm ok with it.

Adam also agreed this was delicious. We served it over white rice with some steamed broccoli- yummmmm! This could totally be modified to be a pineapple/ pepper recipe too by subbing in pineapple juice and chunks and sauteing up pieces of green pepper. But I don't like that dish, so I'll stick to the orange chicken with a dash of sesame seeds on top and a garnish of sliced oranges!

Chinese Take-Out Style Orange Chicken
Modified mostly from A Baker's Dozen

  • 1.5 Lbs. Stir-Fry Cut Chicken (or breasts cut into very thin, long strips)
  • 3 Tbsp. Flour
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. Orange Zest
  • 2-4 Tbsp. Vegetable Oil
  • 1 Large Garlic Clove, minced
  • 2 Green Onion Stalks, chopped
  • Juice from 3/4 Orange
  • 2-3 Tbsp. Rice Vinegar
  • 2-3 Tbsp. Soy Sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. Sesame Oil
  • 1/4 tsp. Grated Fresh Ginger
  • 1/8 tsp. Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1/2 C. Brown Sugar (This is a nice amount. I halved the original amount, and if you want, you could bring it down to 1/3, maybe even 1/4.)
  • 1/2-1 C. plus 1/3 C. Water
  • 1 Tbsp. Cornstarch
  • Sesame Seeds

  1. In a large ziplock bag, mix together flour, salt, pepper, and orange zest. Add in chicken and shake to coat all the meat.
  2. In a large saute pan, heat the vegetable oil over medium-low heat. When it is hot, add in as much chicken as will comfortably fit and brown on all sides. I had to cook the chicken in 2 batches.
  3. When the chicken is cooked, remove to a plate with a papertowel to drain. Keep warm. (I only did this with one batch as my sauce was ready when the second batch was finished.)
  4. While the chicken pan is heating and the chicken is cooking, get a medium saucepan going over medium heat with a dash of olive/ veggie oil.
  5. Saute the garlic and green onions for a minute or two until the garlic is soft, but not browned.
  6. Add in the ginger, vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, OJ, and red pepper, 1/2 C. water. Stir and bring to a gentle boil.
  7. Stir in the brown sugar until it melts. Continue letting the sauce simmer, thickening up.
  8. Mix together the remaining 1/3 C. of water and the cornstarch. Stir into the sauce to make it a nice thick consistency.
  9. Taste the sauce and add more water as you see fit to get the flavor and texture you desire. I put in enough water so that the consistency was thick enough to coat, but thin enough that it flows and that it wasn't overly sweet.
  10. With the sauce and chicken both done, put the chicken back in the large saute pan over low heat. Pour in the sauce and stir to coat the chicken.
  11. Plate the chicken and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Devour!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Succulent Mussels with Green Salad

There's a specialty food store near me called Browne Trading Company. It is a wonderful place for foodies- they have a wide selection of wines, fancy cheeses, chocolates, giant pints of heavy cream, gourmet sauces, and fresh fish. I mean really fresh- when I need sushi grade, they're my go-to source. (You can buy some of the products online too!)

I was there last week to get the chocolate for the disaster candies and picked up some fresh salmon as well as a bag of freshly harvested mussels. They lived in the fridge uncovered for a couple of days and then we enjoyed them last Friday. WOW- these were amazing mussels; fresh, flavorful, and huge! Adam thought these were hands down the meatiest mussels he'd ever eaten.
I used a recipe that I made once before and it was just as delicious as the first time. The meal felt very French to me- mussels cooked in wine and garlic, a simple green salad with goat cheese, and a loaf of fresh bread for soaking up the yummy broth. If you like mussels, you'll love this recipe!

French Inspired Mussels

  • 3/4 Lbs.+ Fresh Mussels
  • 3 Giant Cloves of Garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 3 Stalks Green Onion, chopped
  • 3 Roma/ Plum Tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 C. White Wine
  • 1 C. Plain Parsley, chopped
  • 1 Loaf of French Bread, for dipping!

  1. Soak the live mussels in cool water for 10-15 minutes to wash off grit. Pull off the beards and give the shells a rub down to make sure they are clean.
  2. In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Saute the garlic until just tender.
  3. Add in the onions and tomatoes and continue to saute until the tomatoes are soft and start to reduce some.
  4. Pour in the white wine, stir, and heat to boiling. Let the mixture boil for 5-10 minutes until the liquid reduces by a third/ half. Add in the parsley.
  5. Gently place the clean mussels into the pan. Cover and cook for 10 minutes. The mussels will be done when the shells open. If there are mussels that don't open, don't eat them- throw them out.
  6. Serve in a bowl with broth and a few slices of bread for sopping.

Simple Green Salad
  • Mixed Herbs and Greens
  • Cucumber, sliced
  • Herbed Soft Goat Cheese
  • Dijon Mustard Dressing

  1. Toss the greens and cucumber together, or arrange on plate together.
  2. Crumble/ mush pieces of goat cheese on top.
  3. Drizzle with a hint of Dijon dressing on top. Yum!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Homegrown Gourmet 7 - Maine Potato Candy

I am the originator of Homegrown Gourmet- I am proud of the event and love playing along with all the new rounds that each host comes up with. This round, hosted by Tempered Woman started off as no exception- POTATOES are such a universal food and I love that each region does it's own thing with them. Well, by the end- I hated this stupid round! HA!

I am not a native Mainer- also known as someone "from away." This was a big reason why I started Homegrown Gourmet- I wanted to learn more about the food from 2 states up from my childhood state. One of the first recipes I came across was something called "Needhams." And it was just a matter of time until I could whip this bad boy out.

In short, Needhams are a candy similar to Mounds- chocolate with sweet coconut goo inside. The difference you ask? Needhams also have Maine potatoes as a primary ingredient of the filling! Potato? Yup, potato. You actually don't taste the potato; it is used to make the filling smooth and thick. Don't worry, all the sugar and coconut drown out any veggie flavor! It is a totally original Maine recipe though.

SO... I searched for recipes without finding many variations. They all sounded so reasonable to make. Well boys and girls, was I sure wrong. Let's talk about what went wrong:

  1. I couldn't find Maine potatoes- here in Maine.
  2. I used shredded coconut instead of grated. This led to long strings of fibrous fruit in my candy. It was also impossible to cut.
  3. The first batch of dipping chocolate loved to stick to EVERYTHING- oh yeah, except the candy filling.
  4. The second batch of chocolate was a lighter shade and didn't harden right.
  5. The big one- my filling goo never quite hardened which made it impossible to slice, handle, or dip.

I will say, they were tasty. But a royal pain in the butt. I don't know what went wrong, but at least I can now say that I have made this official Maine recipe! Maybe I should have submitted my potato-wrapped cod instead....

Maine Needhams
  • 3/4 C. Plain Mashed Maine Potatoes
  • 1 Stick Salted Butter
  • 2 Lbs. Confectioners Sugar (I only used 1.25 lbs.- maybe that's where things went wrong.)
  • 1 8 oz. Package of Grated Coconut (Don't use shredded like I did.)
  • 2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 12 oz. Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
  • 5 oz. Unsweetened Chocolate
  • 1/2 Block Paraffin Wax (Yup, wax- like for candles. I used 1/2 block Gulf Wax.)

  1. Melt the butter over medium-low heat in a large saucepan.
  2. Stir in the potato, sugar, coconut, and vanilla.
  3. Pour the mixture on a wax paper-lined or greased cookie sheet. Cool for a million hours in hopes that it will harden. Yeah right.
  4. When the filling is cooled, heat a double boiler on medium heat or put a bowl on top of a saucepan, again on medium heat. Melt the wax in the bowl.
  5. When the wax in mostly melted, add in the chocolate and stir to melt.
  6. While the chocolate melts, this is where you are supposed to cut the now hardened filling into small squares. After 24 hours in the fridge, I had coconut mush. After multiple hours in the freezer, I had slightly harder coconut mush.
  7. In theory, this is where you use a small fork or toothpick to pick up the filling square and dip it in the chocolate, coating it. Then you put it on wax paper to let it solidify.
  8. Or, if you're me, you pour half of the chocolate on top of the slab, let it cool, flip the whole enchilada onto another piece of wax paper and then pour on the rest of the chocolate. Then you attempt to cut the whole mess apart 4 days later and pour chocolate in the middle. When that doesn't work, you dip the mangled hunks of candy in the new batch of melted chocolate, essentially double dipping the whole thing and then dry on a piece of waxed paper. You make 10 candies, curse at the whole operation, and then throw the rest out. The end.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Fast and Fancy Salad

The star of dinner last Thursday was supposed to a cut of fresh, sushi grade salmon. Honest, it was! But this salad stole the show. Let me backtrack a little here...

So I spent last week fighting my next Homegrown Gourmet entry, which as you'll see in another upcoming post, did not go so well. I needed to get more high quality chocolate for the recipe as I had used up what I started with. I decided to stop in Browne Trading Company, a local gourmet food shop (maybe even a shoppe, it's so fancy) walking distance from my office to pick up the chocolate. Since I had no plans for dinner, I figured while I was there I'd get some fixin's for dinner that night too.

I got a beautiful fillet of salmon, as well as some mussels. Knowing I had strawberries and greens in the fridge, I picked up some blue cheese for a nice salad to accompany the fish.

Well, wouldn't you know, the way I cooked the fish was just ok, the brown rice I threw in there too was just an ordinary side, and the sweet strawberries, tangy balsamic, crunchy walnuts and shallots, and creamy cheese blew everything away. There were many a "Mmmmmm" coming from the couch as hubby and I chowed the healthiest part of dinner off our plates first! I wish the whole dinner was just this salad it was so good!

Upperclass Strawberry and Blue Cheese Salad

  • 1 Shallot, sliced into thin pieces
  • 1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 4-5 Strawberries, sliced
  • 1/4 C. Walnuts, toasted
  • 2 Tbsp. Blue Cheese, crumbled
  • 2 C. Iceberg Lettuce, torn into bite sized pieces
  • 2-3 Tbsp. Strawberry Infused Balsamic Viniagrette

  1. In a small saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add in the shallots and cook over low heat to caramelize, about 15 minutes. My oil was too hot so I mostly fried my shallot ribbons. This was still tasty, but not what I had in mind. If you fry yours by accident too, drain on a papertowel.
  2. When cooked, remove shallots and set aside to cool. Turn off stovetop.
  3. Toss together all of the salad ingredients, except the dressing. You may also choose to arrange on a plate to prevent the berries from getting smooshed.
  4. Drizzle just a little viniagrette over the salad once plated.

Pork Dumplings with Cheater's Asian Veggies

Adam mentions a couple weeks ago that we haven't had the pork dumplings I made once or twice a long time ago. Shoot, he was right- those were tasty and I had forgotten all about them!

So onto the weekly menu they went. I planned them for a midweek meal on a night I knew I'd have some time to put them together- they aren't the fastest meal to assemble after all.

Sadly, my memory of these was better than reality. The hubs thought they were tasty enough, but I thought they were just kind of bleh. The fact that they look like brains doesn't help either! We made a huge batch of these thing- around 4 or 5 dozen- and I froze half. I'm planning to pan fry the frozen ones and make a dipping sauce in hopes it will kick up the flavor.

There were two good parts of this dinner though... the first was a pretty side dish that I whipped up. Nothing fancy, but it looked really nice and I thought it was quite good. (Adam thought it was just ok.) The other highlight was that we both made the dumplings together, which not only made the preparation go twice as fast, we enjoyed spending the time together in the kitchen. With our small space and my dictator like style in the kitchen, we rarely get to make food together. Aw, cheesy happy moment!

Asian Pork Dumplings
Modified from

  • 1 Lbs. Ground Pork
  • 1 Package Wonton Wrappers, around 50-60 count
  • 2 Tbsp. Soy Sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. Sesame Oil
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 Clove Garlic, minced
  • 2 Green Onion Stalks, chopped
  • 1 tsp. Grated Fresh Ginger
  • 1 1/2 C. Red Cabbage, finely chopped

  1. In a large bowl, blend all of the ingredients except the wonton wrappers to make the dumpling filling.
  2. Heat a large pot of water on the stovetop to boiling. This will be the water you boil the dumplings in. I flavored my water with fresh ginger, soy sauce, a few chopped pieces of green onion, and a little sesame oil. Next time I'd use less or no ginger and I will boil for half the time, moving dumplings to a saute pan to finish off the cooking.
  3. Place one wonton wrapper on a cutting board or other clean surface. Lightly wet the edges on one side.
  4. Take a small spoonful of the filling mixture and place it in the middle of the wrapper. You'll learn quickly two facts: 1. Too much filling doesn't work and oozes out the sides, making a huge mess. 2. If your cabbage isn't chopped enough, large knife-like pieces will slice through your wrapper, wrecking everything.
  5. Fold the wonton wrapper over onto itself, making a triangle shape with the filling in the middle.
  6. Press down on the moist sides, trying to push out as much air from the middle as possible.
  7. Pick up the dumpling and take the two opposite triangle points and fold them on top of each other and press down to connect. This leaves the top point remaining and the filling well sealed up inside.
  8. Repeat for as many wontons as you can fill, or until you run out of wrappers like we did. As you finish the dumplings, put them aside. If you place them on a cookie sheet with plastic wrap, you can put the whole sheet into the freezer to freeze dumplings. Once hard, move unused dumplings to a ziplock bag for long term storage.
  9. With the water boiling, gently place as many dumplings as you want in the hot liquid. Be careful not to splash hot water on yourself!
  10. Cook the dumplings for about 5-10 minutes. They will inflate like puffer fish if there is air inside! The pork does not take long to cook. Again, next time I will mostly cook through and then drain and finish in a pan.
  11. Serve either with a little broth or dry with a soy sauce based dipping sauce.

Cheater's Asian Veggie Side Dish
  • Frozen Stir Fry Veggies (as much as desired)
  • Sliced Red Cabbage
  • Fresh Mushrooms
  • Soy Sauce
  • Sesame Oil
  • Sesame Seeds

  1. Heat the frozen veggies in the microwave like any vegetable from the freezer.
  2. Plate hot veggies in the center of a dish.
  3. Add some cabbage and fresh mushrooms.
  4. Lightly drizzle with soy sauce and sesame oil. Sprinkle sesame seeds on top.
  5. Eat while hot!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Grilled Salmon Salad - Asian Style

Left to my own devices, I would feed myself with Doritos, Pasta Roni side dishes, ice cream, and chicken nuggets. Don't get my wrong, I consider myself a foodie, but I'm perfectly content to eat processed crap.

Because I don't want to have to be removed from my house with a crane someday however, I don't eat that junk- at least not with any regularity. And in fact, I'm trying to maybe loose a little of the ol' junk my personal trunk- it is swimsuit season soon after all.

Generally speaking, I am no fan of salad. In the words of The Simpsons, "You don't make friends with salad!" However, this little creation was way delicious! First part of the equation- asian marinated salmon grilled. Second part- homemade pumpernickel croutons. Third element- fresh greens and a light asian dressing. What does it equal? Filling and tasty dinner we wolfed down!

Adam and I were both very surprised at just how perfect the pumpernickel bread went with asian fish- it was like they were made for each other! This one will be making a comeback this summer!

Grilled Salmon Salad

  • 3 Tbsp. Soy Sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. Rice Wine Vinegar
  • 2 tsp. Sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. Sesame Oil
  • Dash Mustard Powder
  • Dash Ground Ginger
  • Dash Black Pepper


  • 1 Tbsp. Soy Sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. Sesame Oil
  • 1 tsp. Rice Wine Vinegar
  • Dash Ground Ginger

  1. Prepare the marinade by mixing all ingredients and place the salmon in it for about an hour.
  2. Prepare the croutons and allow to cool.
  3. Heat a grill to medium heat and lightly oil the grate. Cook the marinated salmon on the grill, skin side touching the grate. Allow to cook for about 10-15 minutes, until the fish flakes on top.
  4. Carefully flip the fish once to grill on the exposed flesh for about 30 seconds and then remove from grill.
  5. Prepare the dressing by whisking together all the ingredients.
  6. On a cutting board (back inside of course!), remove the fish from the skin and cut into nice bite sized pieces.
  7. Mix together the elements of the salad in a nice bowl.
  8. Plate the salad and then lightly drizzle just a little dressing over everything. It does not take much to just add a nice depth and moisten the spinach. Enjoy!

Potato-Wrapped Cod

Fish is a favorite for us- it is healthy, fast to cook, and versatile. There are so many fish to choose from and then so many ways to make it- and I'm always looking for more!

This recipe was WICKED good! (Wicked = very/ awesome/ totally, for those non-New Englanders out there.) I will say that it did not brown like I was hoping- even after doubling the cooking time! But the coating I put on the fish coupled with a tight little blanket of thin sliced potato kept the white fish moist and flavorful.

For anyone looking for something new and unique for fish, I highly recommend this. But if you do, be smarter than me and line your dish with foil- what a baked on mess!

Potato-Wrapped Cod
Modified from

  • 3 Medium Fillets of Cod or other Firm White Fish
  • 2 Potatoes (I used Yukon Gold, but another variety might brown better?)
  • 1 Tbsp. Mayonnaise
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Dijon Mustard
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1 Shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 1/2 - 1 C. White Wine
  • Juice of 1/2 Lemon
  • 2 Tbsp. Heavy Cream

  1. Peel and wash the potatoes. Using a mandolin, or the slicing side on a box grater, make very thin slices of potato- the thinner the better!
  2. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
  3. Rinse and dry your fish fillets. Mix together the mayo and mustard and spread the mixture on one side of each fillet. Sprinkle with just a little salt and pepper.
  4. Place a layer of potato slices down on a cutting board or a dish. Even better, put the potato slices in the baking dish to eliminate the need to shift the fish. Place the fish fillet mayo side down onto the potatoes.
  5. Spread more mayo mixture on the bare fillet side, and add the salt and pepper again.
  6. Gently fold slices over the edges of the fish, and then blanket the top of the fillet with more potato until the whole fillet is covered with overlapping paper-thin spud slices!
  7. Rub a little olive oil on top of the potato and bake for about 15 minutes until (hopefully!) the potatoes brown. I tried flipping my fish and it was less than successful- I'd leave it to brown on just one side.
  8. While the fish cooks, in a small saucepan, saute the shallots in olive oil until just tender, not too browned.
  9. Add in the wine and lemon and bring to a gentle boil. When the mixture has reduced down some, splash in the cream. mix, and keep on medium heat.
  10. When fish is cooked, serve with the sauce poured on top. We served this over a bed of spinach and it was delicious, especially with the sauce running over the greens.

Chicken Piccata

Warm weather is on the way everybody! Which means my meals are going to take a lighter turn and are going to bring in all the fresh flavors of spring and summer. Delicious!

One of the flavors I associate with spring is lemon. That tart and bright flavor just exudes sunshine, don't ya think? Chicken piccata is a great classic recipe that is both hearty and lemony. Plus it has capers- and we do love our capers here at our house!

So this recipe was... ok. It was both too lemony and too bland. I made this a couple of weeks ago, but I'm also pretty sure it didn't make a ton of sauce, which wasn't a big deal since I thought it was too tart! That's not to say it was bad... it just needed something more. Maybe garlic- garlic makes everything tastier! We had this with some nice balsamic sauteed zucchini.

Chicken Piccata

  • 2-3 Chicken Breasts, sliced in half lengthwise to make very thin
  • 1/3 C. Flour
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 3 Tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 1/3+ C. White Wine
  • Juice of 1/2 Large Lemon
  • 2 Tbsp. Butter
  • 1+ Tbsp. Capers

  1. Be sure your chicken fillets are nice and thin, pounding them thinner if necessary. Rinse the breasts and pat dry with paper towels.
  2. In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil on medium heat.
  3. In a bowl, mix together the flour and salt & pepper and then dredge the chicken lightly through the dry mixture.
  4. Saute the chicken in the hot oil, flipping once to cook to a golden brown finish on both sides. It will not take long to cook as the fillets are thin- about 10 minutes or so!
  5. Remove the chicken and place somewhere where they can stay warm, such as a toaster oven.
  6. In the saute pan, add in the wine, lemon juice, and butter. Bring to a very gentle boil, reducing the liquid down. Add in the capers towards the end to heat through.
  7. Serve chicken with a drizzle of the sauce and a nice veggie side dish and maybe a nice crusty bread or side of noodles.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Grilled Marinated Lamb

I have found a new meat to love, and that meat is lamb. Wow- I never knew it had such a rich flavor until I made some for St. Paddy's day. Now I am wiser and am trying to find new ways to incorporate it into the rotation.

Granted, it is another red meat, and we generally try to steer clear of eating too many heavy meats, but the nice thing about lamb is it generally comes in small sizes. At least, the cuts I choose to pay for are small!

Last night I used Greek inspiration- at least I think it was Greek- to prep the meat. After an hour of marinating and then about 15-20 minutes on the grill, we had a really tasty, tender, medium-rare main course. Served up with lemon feta couscous and spinach salad with green olives and more feta, we ate and enjoyed every last bite!

Greek Inspired Marinated, Grilled Lamb

  • 1 C. Plain Yogurt
  • 1 Large Clove Garlic, minced
  • Juice of 1/2 Lemon
  • 1 tsp. Dried Oregano
  • 1 tsp. Black Pepper
  • 2 Lamb Chops, bone in

  1. In a medium to large bowl, combine all ingredients except the lamb. Blend until well mixed.
  2. Coat the lamb chops with the yogurt mixture and place in the bowl with the marinade.
  3. Let the chops sit, in the fridge, for at least an hour.
  4. Heat your grill to medium-high heat- or like our grill which is either kind of hot or flames licking up super hot.
  5. Cook the chops on one side for about 10 minutes, and then flip to cook for another 10 or so to cook through. Check it often towards to the to decide when it is done for you- rare all the way to well done.

Basic Chocolate Chip Cookies from Tollhouse

I like to be fancy, make new and exciting recipes, wow friends, family, and coworkers with new and spectacular culinary masterpieces. I also like your everyday pleasures- like chocolate chip cookies. Not cake cookies, not white chocolate with fancy vanilla bean paste, not enhanced with caramel, macadamia nuts or frosting.

Just plain ol chocolate chip cookies with the recipe from Tollhouse. Pair it with a cold glass of milk and you have yourself a little slice of heaven right there!


Chocolate Chip Cookies
From Tollhouse (Below is the recipe halved.)

  • 2 C. Flour
  • 1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
  • 1/2 tsp. Salt
  • 1/2 C. (1 Stick) Butter, softened
  • 1/3 C. White Sugar
  • 1/3 C. Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Egg
  • 1+ C. Chocolate Chips

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Beat together the butter, sugar, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl or stand mixer on medium speed.
  3. Add in the egg and blend until smooth.
  4. Beat in the dry ingredients on low-medium speed, again until smooth.
  5. Stir in the chocolate chips gently.
  6. Drop the batter onto a non-stick cookie sheet by the spoonful. Leave a little space between the balls- or they will cook together into a giant cookies! (Mmmmmm, giant cookie...)
  7. Bake for around 10 minutes until they are golden brown.
  8. Remove from the oven and let sit on the sheet for a couple of minutes. Then remove to a cooling rack. Attempt to not eat them until at least slightly cooled!

Shrimp Jambalaya in the Crockpot

Wednesdays are usually crockpot dinner days. I have handbell choir rehearsal and don't get home until around 8- far too late to just start thinking about dinner! Hubby Adam isn't big on cooking and is too busy with schoolwork, so he can't deal with dinner either. And so every since we got the slow cooker for Christmas, it's gotten a workout on Wednesdays.

This week I asked Adam to pick something out for us to have that wasn't too labor intensive and wasn't tomato based. I can't say he succeeded in either of those requests, but the dinner he chose was in fact really good. And he helped with it!

We ended up with shrimp jambalaya which had a nice amount of spice and was quite the hearty meal. This was good just as is, but would also be great to play with the flavors for something different. The sausage was really really good and tender, and all of the flavors and ingredients blended beautifully. But isn't that why folks love their slowcookers?!

Shrimp Jambalaya
Slightly modified from the Rival Cookbook that came with the crockpot

  • 2 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 6 Andouille Sausages, cut into bite sized sliced
  • 1 Red Pepper (it was supposed to be green), chopped
  • 1 Onion, chopped
  • 2 Large Stalks of Celery, chopped
  • 3 Cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1 14 oz. Can of Whole Tomatoes
  • 1/3 C. Tomato Paste
  • 1 C. Chicken Broth
  • 1 T. Dried Parsley
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Dried Basil
  • 1 tsp. Dried Oregano
  • 1 Tbsp. Tabasco Sauce
  • 1 tsp. Cayenne Powder
  • 1 tsp. Black Powder
  • Dash of Salt
  • 1 lbs. Raw Shrimp, peeled with no tails
  • 2-3 C. Cooked White Rice

  1. Mix together the chicken, sausage, tomato products, veggies, and spices in a slow cooker.
  2. Cook over low heat for 8-10 hours. (Cooking time can be cut in half by cooking on high, but we never do that.)
  3. With about 30 minutes left on the clock, add in the shrimp to the crockpot.
  4. When finished, serve over a big helping of rice.

Layered Mint Fudge

Mmmmmmm! This fudge recipe is sinfully easy to make and even easier to eat. But you can only eat a little bit at a time as it is very filling. It is one of my go-to Christmas or bake sale recipes because it takes only about 30 minutes total to make and it is wonderfully rich and refreshing. Everyone loves it!

My neighbor across the street, Mrs. Hohmann, used to make this for Christmas. In a very tragic turn of events, my sweet neighbor was taken from us before her time through a common household accident, leaving her family behind. We were all struck by the sudden sadness, but I love making this recipe because I think of her and it keeps the memory alive.

So don't be sad- be happy that a delicious recipe has brought many smiles through the years. And that it is a snap to make and is so yummy!

Layered Mint Fudge

  • 12 oz. Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels
  • 1 14 oz. Can Sweetened Evaporated Milk
  • 2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 1 C. White Chocolate Candy Melts (I usually get mine at Michaels or a craft store in the candy section.)
  • 1 Tbsp. Peppermint Extract
  • Green Food Coloring

  1. In a medium saucepan, or a double boiler, melt the chocolate and 1 Cup of the evaporated milk over low heat, stirring often.
  2. As the chocolate melts and the milk mixes in, pour in the vanilla and blend with a spoon or rubber spatula until smooth. I prefer to use a heat resistant, non stick spatula so that I can use it for double duty when spreading the mix.
  3. Line an 8” or 9" square pan with wax paper or parchment paper. Spread half of the warm chocolate mixture evenly into the bottom of the lined pan. Place pan in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes to chill/ harden slightly.
  4. Leave the remaining chocolate in the pot but turn off the heat, leaving it at room temperature. (Leaving it on the heat will burn the mixture.)
  5. While the chocolate cools, melt the white candy and the remaining sweetened evaporated milk in a small saucepan over low heat. Again, stir with a rubber spatula until it is mostly melted, and then add in the peppermint extract and the food coloring. Stir until smooth and melted.
  6. Remove the pan from the fridge and spread the mint mixture evenly on top of the chocolate. Be sure to not wait too long before spreading as the heat from the mint will start to melt the other chocolate, making even spreading difficult.
  7. Cool the pan in the fridge again for another 10-15 minutes until the mint is stiff.
  8. Return the regular chocolate mixture to low heat to soften it again. When the mint is hardened some, spread on the remaining chocolate on top, trying to make some pretty swirls. (Keep in mind this will be cut up, so it doesn’t have to look perfect!)
  9. Cool the entire layered pan for at least 2 hours, or even easier, overnight to harden.
  10. When cooled completely, remove the block of fudge from the pan using the liner paper. For easy clean-up, keep the paper on the bottom until after slicing into pieces.
  11. Using a large chef’s knife, or a similar long, heavy, sharp knife, cut the block of fudge into rows and then across into pieces. They can be as large or small as you’d like, but keep in mind it is very rich, so a little goes a long way.
  12. Store any uneaten fudge in the fridge so it does not get too melty.

Cinnamon Rolls

We had guests a few weekends ago- one vegetarian and one non-seafood eater- which made for some extra planning for most of my meals. Which meant that when it came to breakfast, I didn't want to have to worry about it, but of course I wanted it to be delicious!

I decided everyone was likely to enjoy cinnamon rolls- warm, sweet, and filling. And the best is that you can make most of the recipe ahead of time! I borrowed a recipe from a member of my online cooking board, Amber, as I have never made them before.

I made the dough, let it rise the first time, & rolled them up on Thursday night and put them in the fridge. On Saturday morning we pulled them out and let them warm up and rise again for a couple of hours. Unfortunately they just never got very fluffy. I don't know if it is the kind of yeast I used or what, but the end result was a very tasty, but too dense bread. I'm used to using yeast dissolved in liquid, not just putting in dry.

I also did not use the lemon zest and only made half of the glaze, which was MORE than enough!

The all important final results though- they were gone by Monday morning when our guests left! I would try these again with some modificiations. Thanks Amber!

To find the recipe, please visit Amber's blog!