Posts Tagged ‘cooking’

Review: Campbell’s Supper Bakes – Garlic Chicken with pasta

Sunday, June 15th, 2008

Tonight, I’m going to throw together something simple, although I wish I didn’t have to heat the oven up. The weather is getting hot, but we just got our air conditioner repaired so it will have to work extra tonight on behalf of dinner.

I’m thinking something pre-made, by my good buddies at Campbell’s.

There are several varieties of Campbell’s Supper Bakes to choose from if you’ve seen these in the store.

I chose the Garlic Chicken with pasta variety, due to it’s lack of cheese and simple name. Probably a pleaser for all the tastes sitting at the table.

Campbell’s says: Plump and tender rotini pasta cooks at the same time as your chicken, in the same dish. Campbell’s® creamy baking sauce, with a light parmesan cheese flavor and a savory touch of garlic, gives you a deliciously moist, perfectly seasoned supper. A zesty sprinkle-on crumb topping completes the dish.

Susanna says: Supper Bakes was really simple to put together. It called for 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, but I had a package of boneless skinless chicken tenders. No problem. It was very easy to work around this small discrepancy. Nothing that three chicken tenders side by side couldn’t fake. They, in my mind, became one chicken breast and I repeated the 3 for 1 deal for all of the 4 chicken breasts, Perfect! I topped them with the can of creamy baking sauce, covered tightly with foil and baked. After a certain amount of time specified on box, the foil was removed and the chicken breasts were topped with a crumb topping which added a cool crunch.

The flavor overall was tasty. The garlic was not to the capacity to give you monster breath all night, but it was apparent enough to add a nice flavor. The rotini pasta held up very well, which was a big plus for the extended cooking time which I put it through. (never got mushy)

Campbell’s Supper Bakes Garlic Chicken with pasta was low fat with a little vitamin A, calcium and iron even.

If there is a sale, Supper Bakes are a great way to get dinner on the table pretty quickly without a lot of messing around in the kitchen. I’ll try another variety another time, but the Garlic Chicken with pasta definitely passed the challenge…

Check it out for yourself.

April 25: National Zucchini Bread Day

Friday, April 25th, 2008

Did you know there is a National Day for Zucchini Bread? It’s true…and that day is today.

Which got me thinking about my son’s recent requests for some breads or muffins using orange juice. He told me you can substitute orange juice for the water or milk in any bread/muffin recipe. I asked how he found this out and he said he learned it from the reading portion of his AIMS test, our state’s standardized test. Ha! I know he seeks and retains a lot of info, but how funny is that? Pretty cool too, seeing as how reading comprehension was my least favorite thing to test on when I was in school, even though I loved to read.

How can you deny your loved ones asking for a slightly healthier alternative?! You can’t. And I won’t. Let’s have a go at this Zucchini Bread made with orange juice and applesauce…

  • Awesome Zucchini Bread
    • 2 C sugar
    • 1 cup vegetable oil
    • 3 eggs
    • 2 tsp. vanilla
    • 2 C shredded zucchini
    • 1/2 C applesauce
    • 1/3 C orange juice
    • 3 C flour
    • 2 tsp. baking soda
    • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
    • 1 tsp. salt
    • 1-3/4 tsp. nutmeg
    • 1-1/2 tsp. cinnamon
    • 1 C chopped walnuts
    • Preheat oven to 350°
    • In large bowl mix sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla. Beat until well blended.
    • Add zucchini, applesauce and orange juice; stir well.
    • In another bowl, combine flour with dry ingredients; baking soda, baking powder, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon.
    • Add flour mixture to zucchini mixture; stir well.
    • Add nuts; stir gently to combine.
    • Pour into 2 greased and floured 9″ loaf pans.
    • Bake for 60-70 minutes; until toothpick comes out clean.
    • Let cool in pans for 10 minutes. Remove from pans onto wire rack and cool completely.
    • Makes 2 loaves

I made a slight change to the recipe and used 1 cup wheat flour and 2 cups white flour.

To ensure even cooking, half way through the cooking time I moved the left pan to the right side of the oven and vice versa. This is always a good idea when baking 2 pans of anything.

The bread browned very early on in the cooking process, but it was a dark colored batter to begin with. I admit I was a little worried. Then when the zucchini bread was done baking my husband said, “That’s the best smelling bread I’ve ever smelled…it smells like *sniff sniff* pizza and pancakes at the same time.” Maybe the oddest kitchen compliment I’ve ever received.

Either way, my conclusion is that this recipe makes a really awesome, moist zucchini bread that will not disappoint.

Barbecue Boneless Chicken Breasts

Thursday, April 24th, 2008

Boneless chicken breasts are probably the most popular cut of meat sold in America today. They are quick, easy and low fat. But when not cooked properly, they can be dry, tough and stringy.

That’s where I come in. (ahem)

I have a love/hate relationship with chicken. I love chicken prepared by others mainly. When I cook the chicken, I pick on it too much. I rarely feel pleased. It’s overcooked and it’s undercooked. I keep trying though…I’m a trooper.

Something to keep in mind though, when you cook chicken breasts it’s good to have them even sized. You can accomplish this by pounding them with a meat tenderizer. If you don’t have a meat tenderizer, place the chicken breasts into a large Ziploc bag and pound/roll with a can or rolling pin until the breasts are equal in thickness. Now that everything is equal, the chicken breasts have a better chance of cooking evenly.

Tonight I’m trying out some baked boneless skinless chicken breasts with barbecue sauce. Really simple, just lightly salt and pepper each side of the chicken breasts, put them into a preheated 375° oven and bake for 20 minutes. Take the chicken breasts out of the oven and pour an 18 ounce bottle of any barbecue sauce you like over them. Continue to bake for another 10-15 minutes.

I kicked up the heat to 400° during the last 10 minutes of cooking to try to make the coating of barbecue sauce on the chicken thicker, but I guess this sauce just didn’t have the umph. It kept sliding off. And I kept scooping it back on. And it slid off. And I scooped it back on…Fine, fine…be that way. You leave a lovely little glaze upon my chicken breasts’ tops but you are a weakling Mr. Kraft Honey Barbecue Sauce.

Regardless, you tasted yummy Mr. Kraft Honey Barbecue…

I was pleased with the outcome. The chicken breasts were pretty bulky so the meat ended up moist, but also well cooked.

To accompany our tasty barbecue chicken breasts, we had steamed broccoli and saffron* rice.

* The saffron rice is a whole other story, I may go into another time.

Easy French Dip Sandwiches

Monday, April 14th, 2008

What if I told you that you could make pleasing French Dip Sandwiches with three ingredients? What if I said with almost no preparation, you can impress anyone who eats them?

Can you butter toast? Then you can make these very Easy French Dip Sandwiches!

Let’s have a look at what you’ll need…

That’s right…this is it! One 3-4 lb. roast of your choice, (bottom round roast, pictured) one can of got-to-be-mm-mm-good-stuff Campbell’s beef broth, and some French sub rolls. Looking possible already?! Yesss! You, the toast buttering champion can do this!

  • Easy French Dip Sandwiches
    • 3-4 lb Roast
    • 1 can Campbell’s beef broth
    • 6 French sub rolls
    • Pam butter flavored Cooking Spray (optional)
    • Place roast in a crock-pot or slow cooker.
    • Pour can of beef broth over roast.
    • Cover with lid and cook on low heat for 7-9 hours.
    • Do not remove lid until it’s done!
    • Preheat oven to 400°F, split French sub rolls in half and spray each half with cooking spray (optional).
    • Toast buns face down in oven for 3 minutes.
    • Spoon broth into glass dishes.
    • Shred or pull meat to fill the sub rolls. Enjoy!

We sure did…

I cannot stress the importance of Campbell’s beef broth enough. Perhaps an accomplished cook may want to add additional flavors, but the wannabe chef (me) can only be truly gratified with the truest beefiest flavor that Campbell’s beef broth will add to this simple recipe. It’s “double rich”, “double strength” and you’ll taste the difference. No one will know you did almost nothing to accomplish this awesome meal.

Fried Egg Sandwich

Saturday, April 12th, 2008

Eggs are so versatile. You can boil eggs. You can devil eggs. You can poach eggs. You can pickle eggs…the list goes on. You can scramble them or….you can fry them!

And my favorite way to enjoy a fried egg is in a sandwich.

So many good things happen in this fried egg sandwich at once. Don’t we all like to dip our fried egg yolks in toast? Face plant that yolk directly onto a buttery English muffin and emulate that exact feeling while biting into this sandwich. Add a fried piece of ham on top of the overturned egg for a meatiness that is necessary for almost every sandwich. To complete it, top with a slice of cheese for a gooey melt-it-all-together goodness that is the fried egg sandwich’s ultimate selling point.

Like everything I prepare, this awesome fried egg sandwich is well-done. Well-done goodness, that is…

  • Awesome Fried Egg Sandwich
    • 1 T butter
    • 1 egg
    • 1 Kraft Single
    • 1 slice of Oscar Mayer smoked ham
    • 1 English Muffin
    • Preheat a non-stick skillet on med-high heat. When hot, add 1 Tablespoon butter and melt.
    • Crack egg carefully into pan and cook for 2-3 minutes or until egg white is cooked through.
    • Meanwhile toast English muffins and butter them.
    • In the last 30 seconds of cooking time place the ham slice in skillet to warm.
    • Next, place the cooked egg, yolk side down on one half of the English muffin.
    • Fold the ham slice and put it on top of the egg.
    • Quickly top the warm ham with the slice of cheese, followed by the remaining English muffin top.

There’s no way to go wrong with this recipe if you like fried eggs and ham. Like I said, I overcooked mine a bit, as I’m still looking for the perfect fried egg method, but the sandwich still passed with flying colors. And I’ll probably need to make it again soon.

Oh Noes! My Bananas!

Saturday, April 12th, 2008

So I looked on my counter today and this is what I found. An all too familiar sight in our house. Those last few bananas, overripe and left for dead.

Then an all too familiar thought goes through my head that says, “Make them into banana bread.” A thought that typically gets pushed to the side like these poor bananas, until I finally throw them in the garbage realizing there is no hope for them.

But not today! Oh no, I’m going to rejuvenate these babies this time! I owe a thanks to Culinary Cowgirl whose post and pretty banana bread motivated me to try out her recipe and use the bananas this time.

  • Banana Bread (adapted from the Joy of Cooking)
    • 1 C flour
    • 1/3 C whole wheat flour
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1/2 tsp baking soda
    • 1/4 tsp baking powder
    • 6 T butter
    • 2/3 C sugar
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 tsp vanilla
    • 3 overripe bananas
    • Additional extras, if desired
    • In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar.
    • Add eggs and vanilla, beating until well blended.
    • Fold in mashed bananas.
    • Add flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder, stirring until combined. At this point add any additional extras you may have.
    • Scrape batter into a greased loaf pan and bake at 350° for 50-60 minutes. Allow to cool before removing from pan.

Here’s the batter before going into the oven…

And here’s how it came out…

Although the bread was tasty, I immediately got docked for having no nuts in it. (Dang, fail..) What is this thing you call Banana Bread with no nuts?! Apparently Banana Nut Bread is the only Banana Bread. I wish I would have added some because a little crunchy nutty flavor within is never a bad thing. Next fail was me removing the loaf from the pan before it had cooled, which left the bottom of the banana bread in my loaf pan. I’m still not sure if that was the reason it stuck or if it was my lack of “additional extras”, but either way this banana bread was very moist…which was good. And using this recipe is a good way to get some wheat into your family’s diet in a very unoffensive manner in case they aren’t good sports about it.

Review: Marie Callender’s Old Fashioned Beef & Vegetables Crock-Pot Meal

Tuesday, April 1st, 2008

I haven’t had any luck with frozen Crock-Pot meals in the past. This particular bag looked worth a shot though, having the Marie Callender’s name and consisting of ingredients that everyone in my family will eat.

As a bonus, this meal is fairly nutritious with only 150 calories per serving. There are 4.5 grams of fat, 13 grams of protein, 4 grams of dietary fiber, and 50% of your Vitamin A for the day! It’s 550 mg of sodium (23% of daily value) was not so bad either.

The contents of the bag were 1 sauce pouch, 1 potato pouch, and the meat & vegetables.

My initial reaction when I opened the sauce pouch and smelled it was, “Gerber Mixed Vegetables…?” That threw me off a little, but I continued with the package directions placing the potato pouch in the refrigerator, stirring the sauce pouch into hot water and the beef & vegetables into the sauce. Then I turned on the Crock-Pot to low for 8-10 hours. Easy!

In the last 35 minutes of cooking time, I turned the heat to high and stirred in the potato pouch. The potatoes were cut into well-sized chunks. Some larger than others, but all very fresh looking.

The Vegetables – Most of the carrots were in large chunks and some were cut thin. I’m guessing the non uniformity was to make the Beef and Vegetables seem homemade. (but I cut my carrots uniformly for the Crock-Pot, Marie!!) The peas were visible although I couldn’t really taste them. The potatoes were just right.

The Beef – The beef chunks were fairly large. They had a good taste and were equivalent to any beef stew meat I’ve had in a Crock-Pot…sort of fatty, sort of tender, and sort of chewy. My only complaint was the amount of beef chunks in the bag. (I forgot to count) To evenly disperse the chunks to a family of 8 like the package suggests would be difficult.

The Outcome:

The Sauce - The sauce was thick and gravy-like and ended up having a tasty beefy flavor like it should, so I dropped my Gerber thoughts and enjoyed dinner. (with a fork)

It was a hit! A mild hit, but a hit nonetheless. Everyone dished out seconds and no one left the table hungry.

Garlic-Rosemary Chicken Breasts

Friday, March 28th, 2008

Didn’t feel very creative tonight, so I improvised the best I could with some thin-sliced chicken breasts.

Hmm. The rosemary is always calling to me, so I grabbed that bottle and poured out a handful, crushed it up and sprinkled it evenly over the chicken breasts.

Needs something else, so I shake on about 1 T minced garlic over the tops and bottoms of the chicken breasts and complete with a bit of black pepper.

Ahh, now its ready for the pan. Heat 2 T extra virgin olive oil in a non-stick pan. By the way the chicken stuck to it, I can tell the pan I used was not the right one for the job. Simply cook the chicken on medium high heat until the meat appears half cooked(3-4 mins).

Then flip it and repeat.

When I cook chicken I want to make sure its really cooked. So when the cooking time was complete, I flipped them one more time for extra browness.

Serve with any sides that sound good. I chose some white rice and corn.

And here it is:

The Perfect Baked Potato

Monday, March 3rd, 2008

For the longest time I thought you could make a “baked potato” in the microwave. This is the only “baked potato” I knew at home simply because it was the only way I knew how to prepare one. I was satisfied enough with the outcome that it worked for me.

Ohhh boy, was I wrong!

You cannot make a baked potato in the microwave, hence the term baked. Who knew?! (not me)

Do not prick the potato! Do not bake it wrapped in foil! Do enjoy a perfect baked potato!

Here is how to make the perfect baked potato in a few simple steps.


1) Wash and dry your potatoes well. You want to choose potatoes that are close to the same size so they will cook evenly. (large russetts work great)

2) Rub olive oil liberally all over the skins of those bad boys. Do not prick the potatoes!

3 ) Roll the potatoes in kosher salt, coating the skins well. This can be done by covering a large plate or filling a bowl with a hefty amount of the salt. Place them in a 13×9 baking dish to prevent splatters while cooking.

4) Preheat the oven to 400. Bake potatoes for 1 hour, turning over after 30 minutes for even cooking and no explosions.

5) Remove potatoes from the oven and wrap in foil. The important part here is to not keep them wrapped longer than 10 minutes. That will create a soggy potato. Secondly, don’t burn your fingers…these babies are hot! Now, with oven-mitted hands pick up each wrapped potato and give it a few squeezes. You will feel it mashing up inside your hands. This step is crucial for a flaky-and-fluffy-when-opened potato.

Serve in or out of the foil, although the skin is so delicious and pretty by this point that you might want to flaunt it on a plate. And with just one cut along the top of the potato, the recipient will be amazed!

Recipe: Zucchini-Mushroom Soup

Thursday, February 21st, 2008

The ingredients in this soup create just the right combination of flavors. When cooked together they mesh into an awesomely tasty and hearty soup.

  • Zucchini-Mushroom Soup
    • 1 lb. ground beef
    • 1 onion (chopped)
    • 2 small cans cream of mushroom soup
    • 1-2 sliced zucchinis
    • 1/2 C. grated cheddar
    • 2 soup cans milk
    • 1 soup can water
    • 1 small can sliced mushrooms, drained
    1. Brown hamburger meat; drain.
    2. Add all other ingredients.
    3. Simmer until onions and zucchini are tender.

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