Cooking and Composition

adventures in discourse and dinner

In the Kitchen: Goat Cheese Pasta Bake with Chicken — November 10, 2013

In the Kitchen: Goat Cheese Pasta Bake with Chicken

So, last week Lovie and I had a marathon writing night for NaNoWriMo, and I posted (albeit briefly) about making this delicious pasta bake. One of many things that Lovie and I have in common is our love of both chicken and carbs, specifically in the form of pasta and potatoes.

Normally when we cook, we go for chicken and noodles, especially now that Lovie has perfected it as a crockpot meal. But this week, we were in the mood for a little something different. Thanks to Pinterest, we got it stuck in our heads that we really needed baked macaroni and cheese, but we couldn’t quite find a recipe that we really wanted to follow. So we decided to make one up.

NaNo Sprint Night!

Making up a recipe has never worked out so well.

Ingredients

  • about a pound (1 box) of pasta
  • about 1 cup of half-and-half
  • about 1 cup of milk
  • 6 ounces goat cheese
  • 6-8 ounces shredded Parmesan, Romano, and Asiago cheese
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Red pepper flakes

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

2. Bring water to a boil and cook pasta according to package instructions. While pasta cooks, prepare the sauce.

3. Cut the goat cheese into smaller pieces, then combine with milk and half-and-half in a saucepan. Heat over medium-high heat.

4. As goat cheese melts, add in about half of the shredded cheese blend and stir. Season with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste. Reduce heat to allow to thicken without overheating.

5. Prepare chicken breasts as desired. We grilled it on a George Foreman Grill for about 10 minutes with just a little salt and pepper.

6. Grease an 8×8 or 9×9 square baking dish with butter (or cooking spray, if you prefer to be healthier).

7. When pasta is done cooking, drain and set aside.

NaNo Sprint Night!

8. Cut chicken breasts into strips or small pieces as desired.

9. Assemble all the ingredients in the baking dish, stirring together to ensure the cheese sauce coats the noodles and chicken. Sprinkle with remaining shredded cheese blend.
10. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until cheese is golden and melty.

11. Eat too much of this delicious meal, spend the next five days thinking about making it again.

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In the Kitchen: Homemade Noodles — November 3, 2013

In the Kitchen: Homemade Noodles

One of the first things I learned how to cook is also one of my favorite things to eat: Homemade Noodles.

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As far as noodle-making is concerned, this is actually a pretty easy recipe. It’s easy to remember and doesn’t involve a lot of steps. But it can be time consuming if you are making a lot (like my family always does) or if you go with the good-ole “hand roll and cut” method, which we also do because we don’t own any of that fancy noodle-rolling machinery.

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Feta and Parmesan Veggie Pasta — October 13, 2013

Feta and Parmesan Veggie Pasta

Thursday, I made the mistake of going to Kroger hungry. This is a very, very big mistake.

I tried to temper this mistake by using a basket to do my shopping rather than a shopping cart.

This attempt was unsuccessful.

Parmesan and Feta Veggie Rotini
Who needs to exercise when you are carrying this basket of groceries around?

Halfway through my shopping trip, I decided I was not just buying a few lunch/breakfast items and, instead, that I was making dinner. Mom has been working late because of parent-teacher conferences and Dad is, well, almost always working late. We are lucky to even decide what we are having for dinner by 6pm, let alone have it cooking. So, in the middle of the grocery store, I decided to make dinner.

The result is Feta and Parmesan Veggie Pasta. Overall, everyone seemed to enjoy the dish. Dad and I agreed that it seems to be missing something, and I’d love some ideas. My family doesn’t usually use a lot of seasoning, so I have to work them into herbs and spices a bit slowly!

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This meal served five with some leftovers.

Ingredients

  • 1 box of pasta of your choice. Rotini worked great for us!
  • 1 bag of frozen mukimame
  • about 1 pound of asparagus, cut on the diagonal into half-inch pieces
  • about 1 pound of baby bella mushrooms
  • about 1 pound chicken breast
  • 3-4 TBS Olive Oil, divided use (to saute mushrooms and chicken)
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • About 1 TBS lemon juice
  • Salt, to taste
  • Pepper, to taste
  • Parmesan Cheese, to taste
  • Feta Cheese, to taste

Directions

1. Begin sauteing mushrooms in 1 TBS olive oil. Add lemon zest. Cover, but stir occasionally to prevent sticking. At the same time, bring water for pasta to a boil.

Parmesan and Feta Veggie Rotini
This is my favorite way to cook mushrooms.

2. Cook chicken breast in a covered saute pan with olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.

3. When water begins to boil, cook pasta per package instructions.

4. When mushrooms are browned and mostly cooked, add about one half TBS olive oil and the asparagus to the pan. Continue to cook, covered, stirring occasionally.

Parmesan and Feta Veggie Rotini
Yummy asparagus, waiting to be cut.

5. Heat mukimame. I used the Private Selection brand, which came in a steamable microwave bag.

6. Drain pasta. Add a touch of olive oil, salt, and pepper.

7. Combine cooked chicken, mushrooms, asparagus, and mukimame with the pasta.

Parmesan and Feta Veggie Rotini
There’s actually a lot of green in this pan.

8. Add Parmesan cheese and stir.

9. Add Feta cheese and stir. Enjoy!

Parmesan and Feta Veggie Rotini

I really enjoyed both making and eating this meal. It was quick, easy, and included a lot of my favorite foods. . .pasta, feta, mushrooms! Yuuuum yum!

Pork Chops and Feta Green Beans — September 26, 2013

Pork Chops and Feta Green Beans

Lately, I haven’t been doing much cooking, but last night I decided to treat my family to a rare delicious dinner relieve some of the stress I’ve been feeling through cooking. It was not really a strenuous dinner to cook–I just shook some seasonings onto the pork chops and stuck them in the oven. But the real star, I’m proud to say, was my decision to add feta cheese to some sauted green beans and mushrooms.
Pork Chop Dinner

Pork chops waiting to go in the oven. There may only be five of us, but we usually cook for an army.

Pork Chop Dinner

Apparently, pork chops are also my brother’s girlfriend’s favorite dinner. She suggested mashed potatoes. These came out perfectly.

Pork Chop Dinner

Perfect pork chop dinner. PERFECT.

Although a few of the mushrooms started to char a bit, I really think the Feta Green Beans with Mushrooms stole the show. And all I did was saute some mushrooms in a little bit of olive oil. When most of the water was cooked out, I added in the green beans. Since not everyone loves feta as much as me, I served it on the side so the family could take as a little (or as much) as they wanted.

Next time you are hungry for a hearty, fall meal that is also very easy, just turn on the oven, pop in some seasoned pork chops, and saute up some mushrooms and green beans. And think of me when you pour on some feta cheese. YUM!

Good Food and Good Friends — September 21, 2013

Good Food and Good Friends

On Friday, I co-hosted a charming dinner party with The Boyfriend and his roommate. When I lived in Oxford, we always talked about having dinner parties but never really got around to it. Now that I’m living at home again, I don’t really do much cooking. I was super excited to cook for a crowd. In reality, The Fiction Guy (The Boyfriend’s roommate) did the most intensive work on this meal.

On Thursday, we decided to make basil lime chicken, a great dish from Goodeness Gracious that I found on Pinterest. On Friday, The Boyfriend and The Fiction Guy did some shopping and started on the first marinade so dinner would be ready at a reasonable hour. Trying to explain what the zest of a lime was over text message is not the easiest thing I have ever done.

With the boys in charge of the main course, I was able to focus on making a delicious dessert. I’ve been wanting to bake a pie for a long time, but I always seem to talk myself out of it. I also talk myself out of making cheesecake, mainly because the concept of a springform pan and a water bath is fairly intimidating to me. So when I found Kitchen Meets Girl’s recipe for a blueberry cheesecake galette, I knew pretty immediately I needed to make it. That was probably about two months ago, though, and Friday was the time I finally got around to making it (side note: apparently this recipe wasn’t even posted until September 1, so I guess it didn’t take me that long to actually make it. Time is sure flying lately).

Having never been a huge fan of blueberries (they are almost always too tart for me), I decided instead to make a raspberry cheesecake galette. Let me say, this was easily one of the easiest desserts I have made, even if it seemed a little complicated for me. I mainly dislike when I have steps that just require waiting or letting things sit for a specific amount of time. I also never seem to have the room in the refrigerator to chill whatever it is. Luckily, things worked out this time, even if I had to take a second trip to Kroger in the rain just to buy cornstarch.

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The Fiction Guy’s take on Basil Lime Chicken, ready to be served with some veggie pasta.

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And one delicious Raspberry Cheesecake Galette!

I think we will definitely be making these recipes again!

Polka Dot Cakes and Tea Parties — September 8, 2013

Polka Dot Cakes and Tea Parties

Long, long ago in July, before I accepted a new job and moved back “home” and started teaching for the semester, a couple of my friends hosted a Tea Party. I was very excited to dress up, drink tea, and enjoy a variety of refreshments made by friends who, frankly, have more baking and cooking talent in their pinkies than I do overall. Nicolyn and I made a polka dot cake that turned out wonderfully! I don’t have a recipe to share–Nicolyn is like a baking wiz so I didn’t actually do much beyond mixing and filling pans and shaping polka dots–but I thought these pictures were definitely share-worthy!

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We adapted the directions from Once Upon a Pedestal, who used a cake pop pan to make the polka dots. You can find those instructions here.

Chocolate M&M Lazy Cake Cookies — July 15, 2013

Chocolate M&M Lazy Cake Cookies

If you are anything like me, the cravings for all things sweet and chocolaty hit you at the worst possible times: when you’ve just finished what should have been an overly-filling meal; when you’re in the middle of your elliptical work out at the gym; when you are in your pajamas, curled up on the couch reading a book. At least for me, these cravings are very hard. Once I realize I might want something chocolaty, the desire doesn’t go away until I’ve indulged. It would be great if there were a bakery or something similar close by, where I could pop in and by a single, small item really quickly. But that just isn’t the case. So I’m often left with choosing between going through the McDonald’s drive-thru for cookies, buying ice cream, or going to the grocery to buy something to make or something pre-packaged. The other day, I knew nothing pre-packaged was going to get rid of my desire for something warm, gooey, and chocolaty.

This is a bad predicament to be in.

Luckily, I remembered the simplest recipe for cookies I have ever made. It had been a similar night, when I was bored and had spent hours looking at food on Pinterest (this is a great way to create those sugary sweet cravings, by the way), and I ran to the store at ten at night to make this cookies after finding the pin. The recipe for these cookies is so easy, it’s really hard for me to resist going out and buying everything I need to make them again.

The recipe seems to originate over at The Lazy Mom, and I’m sure these cookies (bars?) are as great a treat for kids as they were for me and the boyfriend and friends. In fact, I’m so pleased with them that I have spent the past several nights thinking about different combinations that might be fun to try.

Chocolate M&M Lazy Cake Cookie Ingredients

  • one box chocolate cake mix
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 5 TBS melted butter
  • 2 cups M&Ms (I used a medium-sized bag, which I think is equivalent)

Directions

Melt the butter and beat the eggs. Mix with the chocolate cake mix. Mix in M&Ms.

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It really is that easy.

Spread it all into a pan. I added an extra layer of M&Ms on top for prettiness. Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes.

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They look delicious and crackly when they come out of the oven!

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Serve however you want. I think in a bowl with ice cream is best, but these were just as wonderful eaten straight from the pan. Of course, the night I made them I couldn’t quite wait for them too cool all the way.

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There are a lot of combinations of these that would be oh-so-good! I’ve made ones with white cake (which the Lazy Mom recommends) and mini Rolos. I was thinking recently that strawberry cake and mini chocolate chips would be a nice summer treat, too. With all the candies available–and the numerous ones that are currently marketing mini and bite-sized versions–the flavor combinations will keep me making these cookies over and over and over again!