Thursday, December 15, 2011

Kitchen Tricks

Any kind of advice pertaining to cutting down preparation time in the kitchen is welcomed. When I first started cooking, it took a few attempts to grasp multi-tasking in the kitchen. What are some of your tricks in the kitchen? Here's one of my favorite shortcuts.
I was making a Chicken Stroganoff dish for dinner and I needed the mushrooms sliced. If you're like me and slow with cutting, then you'll appreciate this trick. Take the mushroom and slice it with an egg slicer. You've got perfectly sliced mushrooms in no time.
I know you're dying to know what our kitchen looks like too. I've included a picture for your curiosity. The stove is a gas stove and I love it. Check out the Nespresso machine to the right of the refrigerator. That's right ladies and gentleman, I'm a coffee drinker. We love our little city apartment.
Go ahead and share some of your kitchen tips and favorite kitchen appliances. I know I have a lot to learn. I'm always overwhelmed browsing stores such as Bed Bath & Beyond because the kitchen utensil selection is the size of my whole apartment. Outrageous.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Broccoli & Shrimp Pasta

It's summer in Sydney! Aussies love their seafood in the summer. It's super strange to see seafood advertised as the Christmas Dinner when I'm used to ham and turkey during the holidays. I made this dish recently and it renewed my love for pine nuts. They are so simple, but packed with flavor flav.

Ingredients: I realize some of these are in grams. Convert them. It's good for your brain.
400 g pasta bows
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 cups broccoli florets
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup basil, finely chopped
3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
30 g parmesan cheese, grated
shrimp (you decide how much you want)
extra virgin olive oil
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to the packet directions until al dente. While the pasta is getting it's boil on, place a large frying pan over medium-high heat and add the butter. Once the butter has browned, add the lemon juice, broccoli and shrimp. Cook until tender and done, tossing frequently, for about 4-7 minutes. Drain the pasta from the pot and pour directly into the frying pan. Add the pine nuts and basil. Toss all the ingredients to mix. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with grated parmesan cheese and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Dinner is done!

E: 9
A: 8
T: 9 - I love a quick and easy meal!
HH: 8 - He laughs at me when I say things like "flavor flav" while cooking.

My inspiration came from this Cole's recipe for Brown Butter Broccoli Pine Nut & Basil Pasta, but I took away a few words to simplify the title and added shrimp.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Thanksgiving in Australia

Our day of thanks was appropriately named as we gathered at a friend's house to devour a Thanksgiving Feast. Praise God for the warm weather. It was a scene to be grateful for as Kiwis, Canadians, Aussies, and Americans all enjoyed one another's company and the menu:
  • turkey & dressing
  • mashed potatoes with gravy
  • sweet potato casserole
  • green bean casserole
  • glazed carrots
  • cranberry sauce
  • salads
  • deviled eggs
  • rolls
  • stuffed mushrooms
And just when we thought we were full, the desserts came:
  • banana puddin' (yes, the Southerners said it like this)
  • apple pie with vanilla ice cream
  • pumpkin cheesecake
  • cheesecake
  • pumpkin pie
We were in a food coma the rest of the day. Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Meatballs with Peppers & Pineapple

The Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond, has a blog that is awesome. I love the pictures of her Basset Hound, Charlie. I finally made my first Pioneer Woman recipe: Meatballs with Peppers & Pineapple. We loved them!

1 pound ground beef
1/2 whole onion, diced
1 egg
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon salt
black pepper, to taste
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 cup flour
canola oil
2 green bell peppers, seeded and diced
1 1/2 cups fresh pineapple chunks
2 cups beef broth
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Combine ground beef, diced onion, egg, salt, pepper, breadcrumbs, and crushed red pepper. Mix with hands until combined. Roll meat mixture into small balls and place on a cookie sheet. Freeze on the pan for 15 minutes to firm.

Mix together beef stock, soy sauce, white wine vinegar, sugar, and cornstarch.
Heat canola oil over medium-high heat. Roll meatballs in flour, then fry in two batches until brown (keep moving the meatballs around to cook evenly). Remove meatballs and set aside on a separate plate. Eliott was really patient and did the two batches.

Pour off oil from pan and return pan to medium high heat. When pan is hot, throw in the chopped green peppers and cook for one minute. Add pineapple to pan and cook for one minute, stirring gently. Pour in stock/soy sauce mixture, then add meatballs. Stir gently to combine and allow to cook and bubble for a few minutes, or until sauce is thickened. Add salt and crushed red peppers to taste. We served it over basmati rice.
Here's the link to Pioneer Woman's recipe: Meatballs with Peppers & Pineapple

E: 8
A: 7
T: 7 - the two batches of meatballs slows you down a little
HH: 9 - He really liked this dish and the leftovers were even tastier

Monday, November 14, 2011

Cream Corn

I was never really a cream corn fan growing up, but it's one of those dishes I really like now with the right spices.   I made this using parts of several different recipes and it turned out really well.

  • 1 bag frozen corn
  • Milk
  • Cream
  • Seasoned Salt
  • Cinnamon
  • Pepper
  • Tony's Seasoning
  • 3 Tbsp Flour
  • 1 Tbsp Corn Starch
  •  1 Tsp Sugar

First I cooked a bag of corn you steam in the microwave.  Then I dumped the corn in a pan over medium heat with milk and a little cream.  Next I added the Cinnamon, Seasoned Salt, Tony's, Pepper, Flour, Sugar, and Corn Starch.  Finally, I let it cook over low heat for about 15 minutes stirring regularly.

Cream corn is one of those dishes that tastes way better than it looks, but here's a picture for you anyway:

E:  9
A:  9
T:  8

HH: 9

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Domino's Pizza

We haven't ordered pizza since moving to Sydney. I grabbed our coupon book for a Buy One Get One Free coupon from Domino's and my stomach started growling as we searched the website for the pizzas we wanted.

They have one called "The Aussie" which includes:
bacon, egg, red onion, fresh tomato, mozzarella, BBQ sauce

Eliott loves a Supreme pizza with anything and everything on it. I really like pineapple, tomato sauce, and any kind of meat on my pizza, so I ordered something called Spicy Island.

Neither one of us are big fans of plain pepperoni. The delivery man told us 30-40 minutes, so we were startled when our doorbell rang after 15 minutes.

Free delivery + fast service = win!

He ran downstairs to get the pizza and my mouth dropped when he came back with the pizza boxes. Are you serious?

We ordered 2 larges and got 2 pizzas the size of our dinner plates.
Australian large = American small

Lesson learned. Trust me, it won't stop us from ordering pizza.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Chicken Roll-Ups

Do you remember Fruit Roll-Ups? I had braces and trying to eat Fruit Roll-Ups was a disaster. I was unsuccessful. This Chicken Roll-Up recipe is successful. Creating and making this poultry selection is a good choice. First, gather the ingredients:
4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (6 oz each)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs (I add Italian herbs to plain bread crumbs)
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup chopped oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
2 bacon strips
2 tbsp olive oil

Flatten chicken to 1/4 inch thick. Place egg and bread crumbs in separate shallow bowls. Dip chicken in egg, then coat with bread crumbs.
Combine cheese and tomatoes. Place 1/4 cup cheese mixture down the center of each chicken breast and top each one with bacon. Roll up from the short side and secure with toothpicks.
Place on a greased baking sheet and drizzle with oil. Bake at 4oo degrees for 20-25 minutes or until chicken juices run clear. Don't forget to discard the toothpicks before serving. Ouch.

Here's the original recipe from Taste of Home: Chicken Roll-Ups

E: 8 - pounding chicken = stress reliever
A: 9
T: 7 - I think I washed my hands 100 times while making this
HH: 8

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Chicken Schnitzel Salad

When I'm feeling healthy, I'll order a salad at a restaurant or fast-food chain. Then, about an hour later, I'm regretting my decision and wishing I had a hamburger. This salad, however, is filling. The chicken and pumpkin are delicious and the vinaigrette is the perfect sweetness. Enjoy!
2 cups dried breadcrumbs
1/3 cup parsley, roughly chopped
4 chicken breasts pounded thinly
1/2 cup flour
3 eggs lightly beaten
1/4 cup olive oil

1 tbsp olive oil
1 sprig fresh thyme
1/2 small butternut pumpkin, peeled, seeded and sliced thinly

1 Pink Lady apple, cored, cut into quarters and thinly sliced
3 tbsp parsley leaves
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 small head Red Fancy lettuce, leaves separated and torn
1/2 cup Blue Cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup toasted walnuts

2 tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
1 tsp honey
3 tbsp olive oil

Here's the recipe from our local grocery store, Coles. Curtis Stone will show you how to make Chicken Schnitzel Salad. You're welcome.

E: 9
A: 8 - let me just go get my butternut pumpkin from the garden... not.
T: 8 - the taste is worth it!
HH: 10

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Going Global

The four of us at Jurong Bird Park

Emily sent me an email one day letting me know about their upcoming trip to Indonesia. She also just wanted to let me know they purchased a stopover in Singapore. After 10 seconds of research, I informed Eliott that the flight to Singapore was about 8 hours and our dear friends would be there for 48 hours. Our desire to explore outside of Australia only heightened as we started looking at things to do and places to see in Singapore. The trip was booked.
We do this pose when playing Bunko, but it seemed appropriate for the Bird Park too.

Seeing people we know for the first time in 5 months was so refreshing. Exploring a foreign country with another married couple was nothing short of fantastic. We were able to go to the Bird Park and Singapore Zoo. We also saw The Lion King, SkyPark, and the Singapore Flyer.
Our handsome husbands at the Singapore Zoo

We visited Little India in Singapore one afternoon and decided to eat at an Indian restaurant recommended by some missionaries Justin and Emily visited. The restaurant was called The Banana Leaf Apolo and it was delicious. We knew this place was legitimate when we noticed the Indian families choosing to eat at The Banana Leaf Apolo. We devoured tons of food and enjoyed one another's company. We started with chicken samosas and naan. The butter naan was the best I've ever had. We each got something different and shared a few bites. It was an Indian food feast for Foodie Freddies!
The Qualls' side of the table: chicken tikka masala & malabar chicken

The Vines' side of the table: tandoori chicken & chilli chicken

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Throw Some Shrimp On The Barbie!

Before we left for Australia, we were told the following phrase would be used regularly, "Throw some shrimp on the barbie!"

Two things are funny about this:
1. Aussies say prawn instead of shrimp.
2. After almost 5 months of living here, I have never heard this phrase.

1 3/4 cups water
1 cup white rice
2 tbsp unsalted butter, divided
1 tbsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper (add more if you want it spicy)
700 g/1.5 lbs raw prawn/shrimp, peeled, deveined, tail on
1 cup Lager beer
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
4 cups broccoli, cut into small florets
3 tbsp parsley, roughly chopped
1 tsp fresh oregano, chopped
1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
1/2 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped
1 lemon, halved

Before I started the prawns and broccoli, I started the rice using my rice cooker (not ashamed of this handy device). Heat 1 tablespoon of butter and the olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed frying pan over a medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cayenne pepper and season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 1 minute or until the garlic has softened and the butter has browned.
Add the prawns to the pan and toss well to coat. Cook for 2 minutes then add the beer and Worcestershire sauce and bring to the simmer. Add the remaining butter, parsley, oregano, thyme and rosemary. Add the broccoli and let simmer until the prawns are just cooked through and the broccoli is tender, about 2 minutes. Squeeze the halved lemon over the prawns and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve over cooked rice.

Here's the Cole's recipe online: Spicy Garlic & Parsley Prawns
The link offers a video tutorial by Curtis Stone. I secretly wish this Aussie would come cook in my kitchen. It's worth watching to hear the Aussie accent while paying attention to the pronunciation of some words (oregano, herbs). Cheers, mate.
E: 8
A: 7 - My own herb garden would be nice for this recipe.
T: 9 - Dinner will be ready quick.
HH: 9

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Ritz Cracker Chicken

I love church cookbooks. My mom gave me a few when I got married and I've caught myself sifting through the pages wishing I could sit in the presence of these ladies and watch them skirt around the kitchen. I wonder if they wore an apron all day long while effortlessly making home-cooked meals, pastries, and other goodies. Each entry has a story to tell. This one came from my hometown - First Baptist Church of Burleson, Texas. Feel free to share your favorite church cookbook recipe!

Pearl's Ritz Cracker Chicken

2 pkgs. Ritz Crackers
4 chicken breasts, cooked
1 can cream of mushroom
1-12 oz. container of sour cream (340 grams)
1 cup chicken broth
2 sticks margarine

Melt 1 stick of margarine and mix together with 1 package of crumbled up Ritz crackers (I use my meat tenderizer on the sleeve of crackers). Pat mixture into the bottom of a 9x13 pan. Cut cooked chicken into bite size pieces and put on top of the cracker mixture. Mix and heat mushroom soup, sour cream, and chicken broth. Pour over chicken. Melt and mix 1 stick of margarine and 1 package Ritz crackers (crumbled up again) together and put over top. Cook at 350 (177 celsius) for 40 minutes or until lightly brown. Serve over rice or eat by itself. Enjoy!

E: 8 - multitasking opportunity = boil the chicken while preparing the rest of the dish
A: 8 - used lots of cabinet staples, so all I bought was fresh chicken
T: 9
HH: 9

Friday, September 16, 2011

Chicken Tenders

Justin Qualls is a huge fan of chicken tenders. Emily will probably post about making these too. Before they were married, our small group gave them a "Kitchen Utensil & Recipe Shower". I gave this one to the future Qualls' because of Justin's adoration of the perfectly baked slivers of chicken. Emily, being the great friend she is, gave the recipe back to me when I asked her to email it all the way to Sydney. When we moved across the world, the non-essential things got shoved in storage, which means I didn't have my recipes, and you know I didn't memorize them. I couldn't find it on the world wide web, so I'm thankful Emily was kind enough to share it with me. I'm excited to compare pictures and see how hers turned out. This is what Foodie Freddies is all about! Eliott and I have decided this is one of our favorite dishes; we serve it over a bed of lettuce topped with our favorite salad additions. My preference is a light honey mustard dressing.

1/4 cup flour
3/4 tsp seasoned salt
1-1/4 cups crushed cornflakes
1/3 cup butter, melted
1.5 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into 1 inch strips

In a shallow bowl, combine flour and seasoned salt. Place cornflakes and butter in separate shallow bowls. Coat chicken with flour mixture, then dip in butter and coat with cornflakes. Transfer to an ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until juices run clear. And my favorite part: drizzle with honey.

E: 9
A: 9
T: 9
HH: 10

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Rice, Rice, Baby

The title is lame. I apologize.

You have to admit that singing a little Vanilla Ice is nostalgic and humorous. We love rice. And easy meals. This recipe, provided by the fabulous Jess Followell, combines these two things and puts dinner on the table.

cooking spray
1 cream of broccoli soup
2 cream of chicken soup
1 cup chicken broth
2 cups Minute rice
1 lb. chicken cut into strips

Spray inside of Crock-Pot really well with cooking spray. Mix soups together and put in Crock-Pot. Pour broth on top but don't mix. Pour rice on top and squish, not mix, into broth. Put chicken on top. Add salt and pepper. Cook 2.5-3 hours on high.

Here's an honest disaster from the Vines kitchen. I couldn't find Cream of Broccoli soup at the grocery store, so I bought another green vegetable... Cream of Asparagus soup. I knew it would taste different, but it was worth the chance. This substitution in the recipe was not good; I wished I could have found Cream of Broccoli. I'm holding my nose as I eat the leftovers. And I've renamed asparagus - asparaGROSS.
After a little Google research, I discovered that Australia does not carry Campbell's Cream of Broccoli soup. Well, shucks.

What other substitutions have you tried and regretted?

E: 10
A: 2 - MIA Cream of Broccoli soup
T: 9
HHusband: 4 - Eliott likes asparagus, but not this recipe
HWife: 2 - Heather does not like asparaGROSS

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Michelle's Soup

Our friend, Michelle Leach, made this soup. It is so delicious! Thanks to Michelle for her impeccable hospitality and friendship. I emailed her for the recipe as soon as we arrived in Sydney because of the winter season we experienced. This hearty soup is perfect for cold nights. In Australia, we're cheering for spring as the Americans are eager for fall weather.

1 lb of ground beef or turkey browned
2 cans of Progresso minestrone soup
1 can of Rotel tomatoes
1 can of pinto beans or kidney beans
1 can of corn
1/2 lb of Velveeta cheese

Brown the ground beef or turkey. In a big sauce pan, mix the Rotel tomatoes and Velveeta to melt. Add remaining ingredients to sauce pan. Let it boil and then simmer for 10-15 minutes. You can add chicken broth or tomato juice to make it more soupy. We like to serve it over Fritos, but we couldn't find Fritos in Australia, so we used tortilla chips. Freeze any leftovers.
The bowl is dirty because this is the second helping of the soup!

Optional toppings: sour cream, shredded cheese, jalapenos

E: 10 - it doesn't get any easier than this
A: 9 - don't take Velveeta for granted
T: 9
HH: 10

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Spice Cake with Cream Cheese Icing

I'm a little embarrassed to show pictures of this cake.  However, we do say that we are sharing our "disasters and delights," so I will.  This cake turned into a little of a mixture of a disaster and delight.  It tasted awesome, it just looked pretty rough.

I used vanilla yogurt instead of oil in the cake and baked it according to the package directions. 

For the icing I combined a few recipes I found.  It looks lumpy because I used fat free cream cheese... if you can get past the texture of the lumps (that are IMPOSSIBLE to get rid of) it ended up tasting pretty good.

Icing ingredients:
  • 8oz Cream Cheese (don't use fat free)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 stick of butter
  • 1/4 cup of vanilla yogurt
I just mixed it all together, then refrigerated it.

Even though the icing was lumpy, it was very tasty.  I think I'll make it again with Neufchatel cheese instead and see how that works.

E:  7 (I tried everything to get the lumps out, I even heated the mixture.)
A:  8
T:  8

HH: 9  (He loved the taste.)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Chicken Cacciatore

Here's the recipe I used for
Chicken Cacciatore

This plate was beautiful. It looks like Fall or Autumn had come to dinner. This was my first time to make Chicken Cacciatore and I'm glad I did. When I say the name, it reminds me of my college roommate, Tori.

I intentionally left the ingredient list just as I would find it in Australia. I've put more use to my calculator than I did in Algebra class.

350g dried macaroni pasta
1 tbs olive oil
650g chicken breast pieces, cut into bite-size pieces
1 celery stick, trimmed, thinly sliced
1 carrot, peeled, thinly sliced
1/2 cup roasted red capsicum (red bell pepper)
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
1/3 cup white wine
400g bottle of Barilla Olive Pasta Sauce
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup chopped fresh continental parsley
1/3 cup coarsely grated parmesan
20 g butter

Who else is ready for the seasons to change?

E: 8
A: 7 - scavenger hunt for the roasted red capsicum
T: 9 - quick, easy, healthy dinner for the win
HH: 9

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Chicken Dressing and Sweet Potato Fries

This meal was very delicious.  I was originally planning to make chicken tenders, but as I was making it I decided to pile them together into a baking dish and it turned out more like dressing.  I love dressing, so I was excited.

Chicken Dressing:
  • Chicken tenders
  • Triscuit Crackers (about half a box)
  • Parmesan Cheese
  • Milk
  • Dash of Olive Oil
  • Itailian Seasoning
  • Salt
  • Pepper
       Preheat oven to 375.  Mix milk, olive oil, Italian Seasoning, salt, and pepper in a shallow bowl.  Crumble Triscuits (I use a food processor), then mix Triscuits and Parmesan in another bowl.  Dip the chicken in the liquid mixture, then the dry mixture and cover well.  Then place the chicken in a baking dish, stacking on top of each other.  Pour the remaining dry and liquid mixtures on top.  Cover and bake for 30 to 40 minutes.
Here's what it looks like in the pan:

Sweet Potato Fries:

  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Olive Oil
  • Italian Seasoning
  • Salt
  • Pepper

     Preheat oven to 450.  Peel and chop potatoes into 1/4 inch thickness.  Toss potatoes in olive oil and seasoning then pour out on a baking sheet in a single layer.  Bake for 15 minutes, flip and bake for another 15 minutes.  Next time I probably won't use the Italian Seasoning, I didn't really love the flavor it added.  Overall it was a great meal though!

E:  8
A:  7
T:  7

HH: 9

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Making Mozzarella

Doesn't that look delicious?!  Trust me, it was.  This post is about all the wonderful food from Cousin Camp.  Yes, as the title says, we made mozzarella!  We'll start with that.  Here's a play by play in pictures:

You start by heating milk.  (We used 2%)

So, these are not the technical directions, Lisa brought a kit that had the recipe.  If you want to make it, I suggest that the first time.

Lisa, the magic maker, and mom, the credit taker

Look at the curds and whey forming!  (Little Miss Muffet would be so proud.)

Curds are the thicker white stuff coming together (this equals cheese eventually).  Whey is the liquid.

I tasted the whey, just tastes like bland, warm milk.  I just wanted to know what it was from experience when my kids (no I'm not pregnant, this would be a horrible way to tell you that) ask me about what exactly Miss Muffet was eating.

We were all quite fascinated.

KR was a little scared to get close even.

Notice everyone is in their pajamas... this was a theme for the trip.


 Then you drain off the whey.

Add salt and kneed the curds.

Voila!  Homemade Mozzarella!

Don't you want some?!

Unfortunately, I don't think I have documentation of all the food we ate.  However, I must say we ate fresh, healthy foods, that tasted amazing.  Look how colorful this is:

This is a pretty simple recipe and very delicious.  It's basically grilled corn, tomatoes, basil, and lime juice.  You can add balsamic vinegar too.  Everyone else had mint in theirs, but I don't like it, so I had a special bowl without the mint.  :)

We had grilled chicken and then leftovers became chicken salad... it was awesome.

You can see a few more things in this post about Cousin Camp... look for the boatnicking.