Um….how many boxes of pasta???

I was doing a little cleaning up and I noticed an unusual amount of pasta boxes.  I counted and ended up with 14 – FOURTEEN boxes of pasta!  And that doesn’t count the stuff I have in other containers!  I think I have a sickness.  Is there a meeting for pasta buyers anonymous?

So, I decided that I need to start cooking some pasta.  It’s getting chilly and it’s the perfect meal to be able to heat up the house.  Bear Creek makes a Creamy Chicken pasta mix that I just could eat the WHOLE thing easy.  I was going to go and buy it, but I thought “Huh.  I wonder if I could make it”.  I have never tried to recreate a recipe like this.  The only way I have ever tried was with another recipe – lol.  I didn’t take many pictures because I wasn’t sure it would turn out.  I do have some pictures for you and even something close to a recipe.

I had to think through how I wanted to make this and how I would get it the way closest to what the package is.

I started with a roux.  I added garlic to the butter to get some flavor.  The yellow glob is my version of bouillon.  I added that to kinf of ramp up the chicken flavor.
CCN_Butter

I added flour, but I couldn’t get a picture.  Next, I added the chicken broth VERY slowly.  I would add a little bit, wait for it to thicken up, add a little more, then wait, etc.
CCN_BrothAdded

I wanted to add some milk, but mine went bad.  I used powdered milk instead.  It is gross to drink, but I didn’t notice anything off when cooking with it.  I added the seasonings at this point too.  Parsley, salt and pepper went into the sauce.  I let it boil a bit on and off, but I was constantly stirring to make sure it didn’t burn.  I wanted a really thick sauce and this helped.
CCN_Milk

The original had carrots in it, so I took some of the pre-shredded ones I always have, cut them a little smaller and threw them in to cook.  I  turned down the heat and let it simmer slowly while I finished up the pasta.

See, because I made about 4 ounces of the mini pasta by Barilla, looked at my sauce and went, “Yea……that’s so not enough”.  I had to mix two different shapes which I hate doing.  BUT, I knocked out two boxes of pasta!  WOOHOO!
CNN_Done

Plated (with frozen fish)
CNN

Okay – verdict (drumroll please!!).  It was pretty good.  I couldn’t get the salt correct, but that was a small piece of it.  I actually liked the two different pastas in this.  I liked the carrots, but I should have put them in sooner so they had time to soften up a bit more.  I didn’t add nearly enough garlic.  I think there is something missing, but I can’t put my finger on it.  I think the base recipe is fine, but the seasonings still need tweaking.

Recipe: Creamy Chicken Noodles
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp Chicken Soup Base (I use Penzey’s)
Garlic cloves – I used about 1-2 tsp of garlic from Penzey’s2 tbsp flour
1 cup fat free, low sodium chicken broth
1 cup skim milk
7 ounces dry mini pasta.  If a bigger pasta is used, you may not need as much
Seasonings:
salt, pepper, parsley

Boil the pasta according to the directions on the package and set aside

Melt the butter, garlic, and soup base in a medium potAdd the flour and saute.  Cook for a couple minutes
SLOWLY add the chicken broth
Stir after every addition and wait until thick to add more
After the last of it is added, let it thicken a bit more and add the milk the same way
Taste and season accordingly.  I didn’t actually measure the salt, pepper or parsley.  I just dumped some in and tested, dumped some in and tasted
Let the sauce come to a boil to thicken up even more
Add the noodles and mix

Optional
I added in some shredded carrots.  Other vegetables may be good, too.  I would think broccoli would work well.

Easy Spicy Chicken

When I was looking through this recipe, I clicked on the link and scanned the Baked Sweet and Sour chicken.  I assumed the that they would be oven baked chicken.  I should have read both the recipes more thoroughly.  The chicken was still fried on the stove and then baked for an hour.  Not something that I can conceivably do after work during the week.

Ingredients
FCC_Ingredients

All mixed up in a glass measuring cup – because I am cool like that
FCC_Mixed

Confession time.  I did the above a few days ago, before I realized that the chicken I was going to use went bad.  No biggie, I just threw it in the fridge.  I cut up two chicken breasts (about a pound), nuked the sauce and poured it over the chicken.  I baked it in the oven at about 350-375 (how ever my oven was feeling today).

This is it after 15 minutes.  I stirred it and put it back in for another 15 minutes
FCC_FirstBake

After another 15
FCC_SecondBake

And this was my dinner
FCC_Plated

As you can see, the sauce was thin.  At first, I wasn’t a fan, but the more I ate it, the more I liked it.  I think there is a little off about the ratios.  I could taste the wing sauce more than anything.  Maybe a little more vinegar or sugar.  Maybe cut down on the sauce.  I do think that the next time, I will be making it in a pot on the stove and letting it thicken up some more before adding it to the chicken.

It is worth making again.  With the changes I made, it only took a half hour to cook.  The sauce was simple to make, too.  This could very easily be a weeknight dinner.  The original post is correct – it is not as spicy as you would thing.  There was no lasting heat, just a hint of it.

 

Double “Crunchy” Chicken with Honey Garlic Sauce

Another find from Pinterest, I was really excited about this recipe.

Ingredients – forgot the oil (not including the sauce – look at all of those seasonings! 😮 ).  You can see the laziness of me in the background with the thinly sliced chicken breasts 🙂
DCC_Ingredients

Breading in the bowl.  I didn’t sift because I didn’t have ground thyme – just regular.  I simply took a fork and fluffed it a bit.
DCC_Breading

I didn’t take a picture of breading the chicken, but I did notice one thing – you really can’t bread ahead of time.  When I did that, the egg started to seep through all of the flour and some of the pieces stuck together.  I don’t think it affected the final outcome of the dish, more of an FYI.  I think that if I want to bread ahead of time again, I will get out parchment paper and make it one level.

Another note about the breading: the recipe says that it makes enough for two batches, but the idea of saving used breading makes me squirmy, so what you see up there is only a half a recipe.  Before breading, the recipe instructs you to add salt and pepper to the chicken.  I skipped this since it was already in the breading.  I also cut in half the egg wash step.  I figured if I needed it, I could always add more.  Maybe that was a mistake?

Cooking the chicken
DCC_Cooking

All the chicken done – not a bad haul
DCC_Done

Let’s not forget the sauce!  I actually made this first since the directions say it needs to cool.
Ingredients for sauce
DCC_Sauce

This is how I measured the liquid……cause it looks cool
DCC_Cool_Liquid

Sauce boiling
DCC_SauceCooking

My plate – I was hungry, so there were no sides
DCC_Glazed

I think the temperature didn’t translate well on the site.  I think I should have set it to 6 or 7 on my stove.  This cause the chicken to not be as crunchy as I would expect it.  I didn’t dip the chicken in the sauce because I wasn’t eating it all in one night.  The sauce wasn’t bad, but I think that it would be better without the pepper.  That plus what is in the breading seemed to be a little over kill.  If I had put salt and pepper on the chicken as well, I don’t think I would have liked it at all.

The reheating the next day, I put the sauce on the rice I actually cooked and it was better that way.  The chicken still needed something, though.

There were so many seasonings, I really couldn’t tell what I was tasting.  I could taste the pepper, but only as a burning sensation.  I could definitely taste the black pepper.  The nutmeg and maybe ginger, but that might have been the smell.  The rest of the breading?  Nope, couldn’t really distinguish it.

After all that is said and done, while this wasn’t a bad recipe. per say, it is quite involved with a lot of ingredients that didn’t turn out a result as highly praised as in the comments on the original site.  I don’t think I will be making this again.  If I did, I would probably cut a lot of seasonings out of the breading.

Sweet Chili Sauce

I was making a recipe and I forgot the sweet chili sauce.  A quick google search and I found a simple recipe that sounded good AND I had all the ingredients.

Ingredients.  The recipe called for fish sauce, but all I had was oyster sauce.  I thought I would be able to substitute it.  SCS_Ingredients

Simmering
SCS_simmer

See the goo?  Yea, I boiled over.  It sucked, but it worked out in the end.
SCS_BoilOver

See how nice and thick it is?  That’s from the addition of the corn starch and water slushy that I added.  I forgot it in the ingredient picture.
SCS_Complete

Holy crap – this stuff is good.  I used it in the recipe (that really sucked, so I am not sharing it with you) and I used it for the shrimp last week.  I think I added more red pepper than I should have, but it was still good.  I didn’t get the sour taste that they mention in the article.  Maybe since it boiled over, I lost some vinegar.  I am still going to be making it again.

It was so simple to make that I don’t think I would ever buy it.  I always have the ingredients in my fridge/cupboard.  I highly recommend it.  The heat can be adjusted to your tastes – I just didn’t measure and taste 😀

Sweet and Sour Chicken

This is my favorite recipe for sweet and sour chicken.  I absolutely love it.  It is a simple, but time consuming recipe when you include the chicken.  I wanted to try to make some healthier chicken to go with it.  There are two separate parts for the recipe.  Mixing the sauce, then including the rest of the ingredients and cooking more.  This will not be the bright orange sauce you get in all the restaurants.  And it will be a little thinner, too.

Note about the ingredients: There is ketchup in it and no, it’s not a mistake.  I can’t find the original ingredient that the recipe calls for and the glossary says that ketchup is an acceptable substitute.  There is a difference between tin and dark soy sauce.  As explained in the cookbook, you can tell the difference between by looking at the ingredients – dark soy sauce has sugar and caramel.  Without it, the soy sauce is thin.

Ingredients 1 – A couple notes: the cup is pineapple juice, the bag is chicken broth.  I ran out of white vinegar so I was going to supplement with apple cider vinegar.
SSC_Ingredients

Instead, I substituted this:
SSC_Vinegar

Yea – don’t do the substitution.  If you don’t have the white vinegar, go to the store…..trust me!

All ingredients mixed to sit in the fridge for at least an hour.  You could put this in a bowl, but this was the easiest way to mix it up in my view.
SSC_Mixed

When you are ready to eat, get these together (I forgot the sesame oil in the picture).  It’s supposed to be 3/4 cup of pepper, but I just use one whole one.
SSC_Ingredients2

Saute the garlic and ginger in the unpictured oil, then add the sauce, pepper and pineapple to get this:
SSC_Sauce1

After it is bubbling, add cornstarch and water to thicken and simmer some more.  You can see that the oil is no longer as prevalent as in the previous picture.  I didn’t measure the pineapple and may have added too much.  I don’t mind though, I love the cooked pineapple.  I also realized at this point that I probably should have used the red pepper instead of the yellow.
SSC_Sauce2

As for the chicken, I cut it up, tossed it with some flour and pepper.  I am not sure why, but it seemed like a good idea at the time.  I put some oil in the wok and went along my way.
SSC_Chicken

At this point, I realized that the rice I was gonna use was bad.  *SIGH*  So I put everything on low and cooked some rice.  For dinner, I served it with a flat egg roll.
SSC_Dinner

I was eating and it just wasn’t as good as I had made in the past.  I changed two things in the recipe, the vinegar that I mentioned above and that I used fresh pineapple and pineapple juice instead of canned.  I don’t think it was the pineapple change that did it.  It just didn’t taste right with the Rice Vinegar.  It saddened me.  I waited SOO long to make this…..cause I was lazy!  The chicken turned out really well, too.  I don’t think the flour made much of a difference, but I definitely need to season with more pepper.  I could barely taste it.  In the original recipe, the chicken sits in a mixture that includes pepper and it just adds another layer of flavor to the dish.  It was definitely missing from this.  Next time, just saute the chicken and DO NOT substitute the vinegar.

Slow cooker marinara sauce

While looking through blog posts, I ran across a recipe for slow cooker marinara sauce from here.  It looked really good and would go perfect with another recipe I am making.  The only bad part?  I have a hand me down crock pot from my mom.  It makes me a little twitchy to leaving it on all day.  I decided to let it cook over night instead.  At least, then, I would be able to hear Categoriesthe fire alarms if it decides to blow up 🙂

Ingredients.  I know the wine isn’t the best, but I was on a tight budget when I bought the ingredients – especially since I really don’t drink wine and knew the rest would probably go to waste.  Knowing the rule that you should never cook with a wine you wouldn’t drink, I tasted it.  It was surprisingly good.  Not the best, but not crap:

All mixed up

This is how twitchy I am about the slow cooker.  This is the timer I used when I plugged it in and left it over night

This is what it looked like the next morning.  At this point, it tasted pretty good.  A little sweet, but still good.

I threw it in the fridge so I could save it for after work.  Dinner time tonight

I am not sure what happened from this morning to tonight, but the sauce turned a bit sour.  I am not sure what happened from this morning to tonight.  The only thing I can think is the wine, but it really wasn’t that bad.  There is no other explanation, really though.  I haven’t given up yet, I want to make this again, but maybe leave out the wine – replace it with broth maybe.  I’ve never had good luck cooking with wine.  Not sure how to salvage what I have though.  Monday, I think I will heat it up on the stove and try some things.  Salt, sugar, maybe some fennel seed.  I wonder if throwing in a carrot would naturally sweeten the sauce – maybe even draw out some of the sourness from the wine.