Thursday, November 29, 2012

Sweet Potato Biscuits

Prep Time: 40 minutes (sweet potato mash - can be done ahead)
Prep Time: 22 minutes
Bake Time: 18-24 minutes

Grade: A+

Make Again: Yes

Recipe Source: Everyday Food (November 2003) 

I have made these biscuits many times and they always turn out good. They are a little more work because you have to cook the sweet potato first.

I usually get 11-12 biscuits out of these instead of 8 by making a little smaller. My picture isn't great, but they looked good.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Crescent Rolls

Prep Time: 19 minutes
Rise Time: 3 hours
Chill Time: Overnight
Shape Time: 15 minutes
Chill Time: 2 hours or more
Rise Time: 1 hour
Bake Time: 22-26 minutes

Grade: A

Make Again: Yes

Recipe Source: Cook's Illustrated (November 2001) Note: If you don't subscribe online to Cook's Illustrated, you can find the recipe with Google fairly easily.

I brought these to Thanksgiving dinner that someone else was cooking, and finished up the rolls while the turkey was resting. It worked out great.

This recipe is quite old. It was from 2001 – the year I discovered Cook's Illustrated – and I've wanted to try this recipe ever since then. The instructions are fine, but I would have liked a little bit more detail on the shaping and how the dough should feel. Maybe if I read the original article, I would get more info. I think I have really become used to having videos from ATK PBS show or Everyday food, and I missed that with this one.

The dough rises initially with a 3 hour rise, then chilling overnight, then shaping, then chilling some more. Finally you set them out to warm for 1 hour before you can bake. That may sound complicated, however, you can leave the dough in the refrigerator for long periods of time (up to 3 days), and you can even par-bake the dough, allowing you to finish them with shorter bake time after freezing.

So, despite the long time these take overall to make, the recipe is quite flexible to fit into your schedule, if you give yourself enough time for all the steps. They are really fairly simple and worth the effort. I did try the par-bake method, and it worked out well. I was able to bake them while the turkey was resting at 350, and the timing was perfect. To try to bake them fully with one oven for a holiday meal with a turkey or roast might be difficult because they start at 450 and you need a preheated pan in the oven where you can add hot water.

Next time I make these, I will try to shape my initial rectangle better before first the chill. It would have made rolling out into a larger rectangle easier. I had lots of scraps from trimming because my rectangle was not great. I decided to use them to make "practice" rolls so I could try them before serving to larger group. That was fine. The 16 real rolls were still large, and I had 4 rolls from practicing.

Overall, this recipe is a winner, and I will use again.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Pepperoni Pasta Bake

Prep Time: 27 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes

Grade: A-

Make Again: Yes
Recipe Source: Everyday Food (October 2012)

I liked this recipe because I made it ahead and then was able to put in the oven later. Also, I happened to have some leftover pepperoni and ricotta that needed to be used up, so this was perfect.

It was relatively simple to make considering I thought filling the shells would be a pain. I could probably make this quicker if I started boiling water sooner.

I used only 15oz ricotta which was plenty to fill the shells. I also used frozen spinach instead of the zucchini. It all worked well. I didn't have fresh basil, which would have been nice.

It got a thumbs up from my picky eater. He didn't realize that there was spinach in the shell filling.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Blueberry-Orange Cornmeal Muffins

Prep Time: 13 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Grade: A-

Make Again: Yes
Recipe Source: Everyday Food  (Video with recipe)

I tried a "healthy" blueberry muffin recipe from Everyday Food a month or two ago and was underwhelmed. But this seemed quite different, so I tried it and really liked them. I used lemon instead of orange because I didn't have an orange. Not surprisingly, that worked fine.

The mixture is quite thick, but I was warned in the video (from link) that this would be the case, so I didn't worry. I did skip adding the flour to the blueberries for that reason though.

These have a nice little glaze on top and a slightly crunchy texture. These are not the "best" blueberry muffin, but good if you want something different and like cornmeal.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Summer Beef and Rice Casserole

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes

Grade: A

Make Again: Yes

Recipe Source: Everyday Food (September 2012) video at link
The prep time on this is based on having the sauce already made. It uses this Quick Meat Sauce which is nothing special, but fine for a "quick" sauce with meat. The nice thing about it is that it makes enough for two recipes, the original, and this one.

I had one small problem with this recipe and that was that the rice was a tiny bit crunchy still. Next time I will pour the rice in while I am heating up the sauce, so it gets a head start.

Other than that, it was delicious and very easy.  I will make again. I love meals that include the veggies in the main dish like this.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Harvest Pumpkin Scones

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Chill Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 22-25 minutes

Grade: A

Make Again: Yes

Recipe Source: King Arthur Flour

These are good. Really good.

I have struggled making scones, which is a seemingly simple thing to make. I always have trouble getting the dough together. It is either too wet or too dry. This time it was leaning towards too dry. I decided to get my hands dirty and just try to knead it all together until it wasn't dry anymore. I worried that it would make too much gluten develop and make tough scones, but that did not happen.

I used cinnamon chips in these, which thankfully I have seen recently at the grocery store. Perhaps because it is Fall? Not sure why, but I should go buy some more, because they are hard to find. I only used 1/2 c. though so I have still have some left for something else.

There is only 2/3 c. of pumpkin in these, so the pumpkin flavor is subtle, especially with the other spices and cinnamon chips. They tasted perfect to me.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Glazed Citrus Doodles

Prep Time: 15-20 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes
Glaze Time: 5 minutes

Grade: A

Make Again: Yes
Recipe Source: Everyday Food (May 2012)

These are nice cookies that are a take-off on snickerdoodles, which I have never made. I liked them. They are a tiny bit of work because of glazing, but not too bad.

The recipe had a video, which is helpful to watch first. I am enjoying the daily videos from Everyday food.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Healthy Banana Blueberry Muffins

Prep Time: 18 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes

Grade: C

Make Again:No

Recipe Source: Everyday Food (January 2008)

It is pretty rare that I don't like a baking recipe from Everyday Food. But the times I don't are usually from the January issue! The reviews on the website were good, so I was hoping to like it.

But these just didn't have much flavor. I thought they would. I like all the ingredients, but there was something about them that was just bland. And they seemed a little dense and heavy. Maybe I messed up something, but I don't know what that would be.

They are edible and fine, but nothing special, so I won't make again. 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Chipotle Chicken and Rice

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes

Grade: B+

Make Again: Yes
Recipe Source: Everyday Food (July 2009)

Crazy summer for me so far, and very little cooking. This fall is going to be crazy as well, and after that I am hoping going to get my life back and not be so busy anymore. But I need to eat real food, so I am going to try to cook once or twice a week and make enough to freeze my leftovers.

Last summer I got re-inspired to cook from the iPad version of Everyday Food. I did not renew my subscription, but I may do that again later. For now, I'm getting inspiration to cook from their daily video, where they do one recipe from the magazine (new and old) in a 3-4 minute video. I'm really enjoying them.

This was a nice recipe. Very simple and it tasted good. My favorite part was it fit into my plans to freeze extras very well. I shredded some cheese up, cut the chicken into small bite side pieces, and made burritos from the leftovers. I got 10 (in 8" tortillas) wrapped up and frozen for future meals.

I used boneless chicken breasts and only cooked the chicken for the 25 minutes with the rice, so it was faster than their times.

I will probably do this again when I run out of the leftovers, because it was so easy.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Pretzel Sandwich Buns

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Rise Time: 45 minutes 
Roll/Water Time: 10 minutes
Rise Time: 30 minutes
Bake Time: 15 minutes

Grade: A

Make Again: Yes

Recipe Source: King Arthur Flour Website

These were simple and quite nice. Don't let the bad reviews on the website deter you. I guess there were some errors in the original recipe on the web, which have since been fixed. These were not really pretzels, but a very nice sandwich roll, with a bit of pretzel flavor and nice soft buttery interior.

It is helpful to click on the Blog link and see how the rolls should be shaped. You basically make a pretzel roll with lots of overhang, and keep the overhang going around the pretzel until the two ends meet in the middle. They turned out perfectly.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Oatmeal Cookies

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Bake Time: 12-14 minutes

Grade: A

Make Again: Yes

Recipe Source: King Arthur Flour (Website)

This recipe is pretty similar to the one you will find on Quaker Oats containers. The main differences are replacing half of the butter with shortening, more cinnamon and 1t of vinegar added. These are really good. They are different than my other favorite oatmeal cookie from the Best Light Recipe, which have a butterscotch flavor to them. The texture on these is really good. They are crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. I've already made these a few times over the past two years, and I will continue to make them again.

This last time I tried an experiment of one pan with parchment and one without. There was a huge difference! The pan without the parchment, although lighter, ended up almost burning the bottoms of my cookies. From now on, if it tells me to use the paper, I will.

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Prep Time: 12 minutes
Bake Time: 12 minutes

Grade: A

Make Again: Yes

Recipe Source: King Arthur Flour

I haven't made chocolate chip cookies in a long time, and this recipe was highlighted as a favorite on the KA's Baker's Banter Blog so I decided to try it. They were quite good, but I felt a little disappointed in their looks, since they didn't spread much. Probably because of the way I measured my flour, which is always different than KA's method, and results in too much. (I forgot this fact when I made these.)

But they still tasted great. A nice crispy crust with soft interior. I think that is because they use shortening and butter, instead of just butter.

Who knows if/when I will make again, because there are too many good cookie recipes, but the recipe is definitely one to keep.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Nut-Crusted Chicken Cutlets

Prep Time: 38 minutes
Cook Time: 20 -25 minutes

Grade: A

Make Again: Yes

Recipe Source: America's Test Kitchen TV Show (Season 12) 
Recipe Source: Cook's Illustrated (January 2011)

There is a video of the recipe available for free at the ATK link above, and it was helpful to watch the video before making the recipe. The tv version is with almonds and lemon and thyme. The CI version I linked to uses chipotle and southwestern spices.

This recipe is definitely a winner. It took a little longer than I wanted, but that was partly because I had a lot of chicken trimming to do this time. I could probably get it done in 30 minutes if I make this a few more times.

It is a baked dish (on top of a wire rack in jelly roll pan). To get flavorful crust you toast the finely chopped nuts and panko breadcrumbs in browned butter for the coating instead of pan frying. I love that aspect of the recipe. It is less messy, and you don't mess up the breading when you flip the meat in the pan. Also, it is nice to have the dish finish in the over, so you can clean up while it is cooking.

The breading really adhered to the chicken, really better than any other breaded meat recipe I've ever tried. I had leftovers tonight (cold) and it was still really sticking to the chicken. The leftovers were also delicious. They would make a really nice spinach salad.

The only possible problem with the recipe was that the chicken was close to being too salty. It wasn't, but I felt it was on the edge. I should have used a little less salt on each breast I think. It was probably because the kosher salt I was using was Morton's which is not as "fluffy" as others.

I made 3/4 of the recipe since I had 3 breasts. I cut the breading by 3/4, and I still had lots left over.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Braised Spanish Lentils and Sausage

Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes

Grade: B+

Make Again: Yes

Recipe Source: Cover & Bake (There is no on-line version of the recipe) 

It has been a while since I've posted. Life has been busy, but also, all the new recipes I tried were not worth blogging about. There was also one disaster with a coffee cake recipe I tried from America's Test Kitchen TV show. It was totally my fault, so I want to try it again, to see if I can do better. 

I made this a long time ago (pre-blog) and really liked this. It didn't turn out quite as tasty this time, probably because of my substitutions with what I had on hand.) But it was still decent. This took me longer to make that it probably should have. I used regular lentils not the small green ones, so that made it longer. But it was fairly easy prep with some of the 25 minutes hands-off.

I also used Turkey smoked sausage instead of lentils, to make the dish a little lighter. I used regular paprika instead of smoked, but I bet smoked is better.

Overall, a decent simple recipe.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Slow-Cooker Turkey Chili

Prep Time: 35 minutes
Cook Time: 4 hours

Grade: A-

Make Again: Yes

Recipe Source: Cook's Country (February 2011)

This recipe is featured on the Cook's Country website right now, so if you are interested, now is the time to print it out or save it.

I'm perfectly happy with the Cook's Illustrated Simple chili recipe but I guess I always am willing to try something new. The fact that the recipe was developed for a slow cooker appealed to me. 

This tasted great, but it was more work than the Simple Chili recipe. And it created another problem. It didn't fit in my slow cooker. I should have known. Most of their recipes are for the large crock-pot, and I have a smaller one. I should have cut the recipe in half.  (Although I'm happy to have lots of leftovers to freeze now.) 

I ended up just using the dutch oven I did all the prep cooking in, and cooked on low for 3 hours, although it would have been fine at 2 hours. 

I might make again, but most likely I'll stick with the Simple chili which takes just 20 minutes of prep and requires less cleanup. 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Simple Italian-Style Meat Sauce

 Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes


Make Again: No

Recipe Source: Cook's Illustrated (March 2008)
Recipe Source: Best of ATK 2009

This was a fairly simple recipe but it did involve getting out the food processor to chop some mushrooms, which are there to add meatiness. I don't like mushrooms, but can handle them when processed this way. I don't mind their flavor, just the texture. The sauce was fine, but just not incredible, so I probably won't make again. I think if I want meat with my sauce, I'd like some meatballs instead. I am coming to the conclusion that I just don't love pasta sauces with ground meat.

I will not make this again, but if you like ground meat sauces, you might still want to try this one. It is more a personal taste issue for me, not that the recipe is bad.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Pork and Potato Meatloaf

Prep Time: 17 minutes
Cook Time: 60 minutes
Rest Time: 10 minutes

Grade: A-

Make Again: Yes

Recipe Source: Everyday Food (January 2012)

This is a simple meatloaf recipe that uses 2c. frozen hashbrown potatos (plain, just shredded potatoes) in place of breadcrumbs. It stretches the meat a bit. I used a mixture of meatloaf mix and a little ground sirloin, because I didn't want to use all pork. I thought it was really good and I enjoyed the potatoes inside the meatloaf.

I served this with roasted carrots and potatoes and reheated Parker House rolls from the freezer.  Overall, a very nice, simple winter meal.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Triple Chocolate Brownies (Lighter)

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes

Grade: A

Make Again: Yes

Recipe Source: Everyday Food (January 2012)

The annual "light" issue always includes lighter desserts. I'm not a big fan of those.  I think I'm better off eating less desserts but enjoying them in full. However, the idea of using black beans in brownies has been around for a while now and I've always wanted to try it.

These are really good. They are extremely moist and fudgy which is the way I like my brownies. The recipe only used 1/4 of black beans, so they are definitely hidden. It allows you to only use 1/2 stick of butter for the recipe.

I would definitely make these again. The only issue is using only 1/4 c. of black beans. I can use up the rest of the can, but that is still a tiny bit of a downside in my mind.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Creamless Creamy Tomato Soup

Total Time: < 30 minutes 

Grade: A+ 

Make Again: Yes 

Recipe Source: Cook's Illustrated (Sept 2008)
Recipe Source: Best of ATK 2010

I love this recipe. I made it when the recipe first came out and knew I would make it again. I waited to blog about it until the second time, which didn't happen until this week. It won't be 3 years before I make this again.

This recipe is quite simple and very healthy. It has the feeling of Campbell's tomato soup, but probably tastes different. (It has been so long since I had that.) Basically it is canned whole tomatoes, some bread (which provides the creaminess without the cream) and onions, garlic and oil, plus some chicken broth. Using a blender makes it smooth. That is the only somewhat complicated step - transferring the soup between blender and pan.

I made a half recipe which only gave 3 servings. I had the leftovers tonight. I wished I had made a bigger batch. I think this would freeze well without any dairy in the recipe.

I'll post my simplified version here (full recipe amounts) because the recipe is so simple.


  • 1-2 T. extra virgin olive oil 
  • 1medium onion , chopped medium
  • 3 medium garlic cloves , minced
  • pinch hot red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans whole tomatoes packed in juice
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 3 large slices good-quality sandwich bread , crusts removed, torn into 1-inch pieces
  • 2cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • Salt and ground black pepper
(They add brandy as a suggested optional ingredient. And chopped chives. I have not tried either.) 

  1. Saute onion, garlic and pepper in 1 T of oil (they suggest 2T)  till softened.
  2. Add tomatoes and crush with potato masher. Add brown sugar and bay leaf and bread. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes until bread breaks down. 
  3. Remove bay leaf and transfer half of soup to a blender. They suggest adding more oil now but I didn't and I don't think it needs it. Blend for 2-3 minutes until smooth and creamy. 
  4. Pour into bowl. Repeat with second batch. 
  5. Rinse pot and return soup to reheat and add chicken broth. Season to taste. Add optional brandy and chives.
The original recipe can be found at the link if you subscribe. My version uses less oil and none of the extras. I still loved it, but you might prefer it their way.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Tuna Casserole

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Cool Time: 10 minutes

Grade: B+/A-

Make Again: Maybe

Recipe Source: Everyday Food (October 2011)  

This recipe was from a lightened up comfort foods article. The sauce replaces a lot of the whole milk with broth. I think that adds flavor and is a good idea. It also uses a tiny bit of parm in the topping with panko. I felt like there should be more cheese in the topping. I used less oil for the onions and white sauce, and that was fine, so next time I would add more cheese.

The amount of tuna in this was kind of small. I think I would use more next time. The panko makes a much better topping than regular bread crumbs (although fresh toasted would be great also, if you don't have panko.) I didn't have enough peas, so I threw in some chopped fresh spinach for added green and more veggies. I thought the spinach and peas might clash, but I barely tasted the spinach.

I'm not sure which tuna casserole is my favorite. I think that Cook's Country version probably tastes the best, but it is also pretty high calorie since it is made with heavy cream. It is a quick and easy recipe however, so that goes in it's favor. The other Mediterranean Tuna Casserole from EF is nice and a bit different. I don't make tuna casserole very often, and I'm not sure which one I would do again. Really, any of them are fine, I think.

Monday, January 02, 2012

January/February Everyday Food Favorites

I've only reviewed the first five of these recipes in this blog. Many of the favorites come from the very first issue of Everyday Food which I somehow received free in the mail. It was enough to make me want to subscribe for 4 years.

I cancelled after that because there was quite a bit of repetition, and not as many of the fun unique recipes they had early on. I recently resubscribed to the iPad version, however. It is full of videos and nice interactions, so I am enjoying my subscription again. If you have an iPad, I recommend checking it out.  The first issue from last January is free.

  • Apple Pie Cake - I really need to review this recipe. It is unique and good.
  • Pork and Apple Stew
  • Sweet Potato Wedges - This recipe introduced a new favorite food to me. I had never liked those mushy overly-sweet holiday recipes for sweet potatoes, but made this way, I found out I loved them. I make this often all fall and winter long and have for the past 8 years.
  • Valentines Day Cookies
  • Pot Roast Hash - I only made this once, because I rarely make pot roast, but remembering this recipe makes me want to try it again.
  • Lentil and Brown Rice Pilaf - This takes a while to carmelize the onions, but it makes very plain ingredients yummy.

I haven't tried these yet, but they look interesting so I hope to try them this month: