Archive for the ‘Cooking in the Burbs’ Category

Today I have a super simple side dish for you that takes about 30 seconds to prepare and takes about 20 minutes to bake.  If your kids are a little picky on their greenery, give this a try.  The fact that it is topped in Parmesan makes it an easy sell to my kids who normally pick zucchini out of the rest of their dishes.

Parmesan Zucchini

Preheat your oven to 400*F.

Cut the ends off both ends of 2 zucchinis and then cut them in half length wise.  Place them on a cookie sheet or some sort of oven safe dish.  Next, sprinkle each one with pepper and season salt.  I would sprinkle a little more than you would normally do if you were salting your food.

20130516_183441Now, take your Parmesan cheese and generously cover the top of the zucchini in it.  I personally use the Kraft pre-shredded Parmesan that we use for our spaghetti dishes.  It is easier and that is what this dish is all about  🙂

20130516_183543Finally, bake in the over for 15 to 20 minutes until the zucchini is done to your liking and the cheese is a bit browned.

20130516_192107(Sorry, this is not a great picture.  I just got a kit to help with that so hopefully from this point on, the food will look as desirable as it actually is 🙂

Serve immediately.  It is yummy!

This makes about 4 servings.

Erin, The Burbs


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I LOVE Chinese food!  I don’t however like going out for it often and it is difficult to make at home for a few reasons.  A lot of the recipes are complicated but more importantly, the list of ingredients on the recipes are LONG!  I don’t want to keep that kind of supply around the house all the time for the occasional recipe, its just not worth it! This little menu makes a good, at home substitute that fulfills the Chinese food craving.

Okay, so this is not a full menu, I admit it.  BUT, it is a soup and main dish that use less ingredients than most Chinese food recipes and is pretty easy to make.


First on the menu, Egg Drop Soup.

Egg Drop Soup (From Joy of Cooking)

In a large pot, combine 4 cups chicken broth, 2 large slices of fresh ginger (it is not a waste to buy a root of ginger for just this, you can freeze it for a long time), and 2 large cloves of garlic (peeled and smashed a bit).  Allow that to simmer for about 15 minutes and then discard the ginger and garlic.  In a small bowl, combine 1 T cornstarch and 3 T water.  While the soup is at a low simmer, slowly add the cornstarch mixture to the soup and stir until just slightly thickened (it will be slight, you may barely notice).  Stir in 1 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp black pepper.  In another small bowl, whisk 1 large egg and 1 tsp vegetable oil together.  Now for the only tricky part of the recipe (its not that tricky though).  Make sure the soup is on a low simmer and slowly pour the egg mixture into the soup while VERY slowly stirring.  If you stir too quickly, the egg will break up before it sets and it will have no texture.  You want reasonable size pieces of eggs without having one large string of egg either.  Don’t be intimidated, just try it.  It will still taste the same and even if you mess up, it seriously only takes one trial before you understand what you are trying to accomplish and how to get it.  Serve hot with some sliced scallions on top.

Next, for our main dish, we have Garlic Chicken With Broccoli.

Garlic Chicken

Cut 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts into bite size pieces and place in a ziplock bag.  Add 1 cup water, 3 T soy sauce and 2 T chicken broth to bag.  Seal and mix around thoroughly.  Allow this to marinade for 3o minutes to 1 hour.  This meal is great served over rice so if you want to do that, make sure to have the rice cooking while you cook the rest.  Also, get 1 cup broccoli florets ready (either steam them until done or thaw some frozen ones).  Remove the chicken from the marinade.  Stir 1 T cornstarch into marinade and set aside.  Heat 2 T grapseed oil in a large pan or wok over medium high heat and grab 10 bias sliced green onions,  1 cup thinly sliced mushrooms, and 12 cloves of peeled and thinly sliced garlic (I know, it seems like a lot).  Add those to the pan and cook until tender (about 1 to 2 minutes).  Remove them and set them aside in a bowl.  Add chicken to the pan and cook until no longer pink, stirring so it does not burn (about 3 minutes depending on your bite size pieces).  Push the chicken to one side of the pan.  Stir the leftover marinade/cornstarch mixture and pour into the middle of the pan.  Cook and stir until thickened.  Return vegetables to pan and add the cooked broccoli.  Cook, stirring, for about 1 minute, until it is thoroughly mixed and heated through.  Serve over rice.

Obviously you need to like garlic to enjoy the main dish here but if you like garlic, it is good and simple!

Erin, The Burbs

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There are a thousand recipes for taco salad out there and I am not a huge fan so I have not tried many.  I do however, love my grandma’s taco salad!  It is fairly simple and makes a great “group” meal.  We have it nearly every time the whole family gets together.

1 lb ground beef

1/2 pkg taco seasoning

1/2 medium onion, chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

1 avocado, sliced or chopped

1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 1/2 cups sharp cheddar, shredded

1/2 cup salsa of your choice

1/2 of a 16 oz bag of tortilla chips

1/2 head of iceberg lettuce, sliced so it falls apart nicely in the bowl

1 cup french dressing of your choice

Brown and drain your ground beef and then return it to the pan.  Sprinkle and mix in the taco seasoning (use 1/2 the package but don’t worry, it does not have to be exact).  Keep on low heat to keep it warm while assembling the rest of the salad.  In a large bowl, add all of your ingredients (when adding the chips, I grab by the handfuls and sort of squish or crush it a little as I add it.  This way it breaks up the chips into smaller pieces).  Stir well and serve with salsa and sour cream.


This recipe serves 6 to 7 people as an only dish.  I imagine if it was served as a side dish or in a potluck setting, it would go further.

Erin, The Burbs

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My family loves cheesesteaks and I don’t mind making them but sometimes the meat is a pain in the butt!  Slicing it thin is tedious.  Anyway, for a quicker version, with less to do, I decided to do a ground beef version.  In the end it tasted like Philly Cheesesteak and looked like Sloppy Joes so it is so named…Sloppy Cheesesteaks.

Here is what you will need:

Sandwich or Hamburger Buns

1 lb ground beef

1 yellow onion, chopped or thinly sliced

1 bell pepper, chopped or thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

4-5 ounces mushrooms, sliced

1/2 cup beef broth

2 T cream cheese

1 T Worcestershire sauce

Provolone or American cheese slices

Start by browning 1 lb of ground beef in a large pan or pot.  Strain fat and set aside.  In the same pan (add about 1 T of cooking oil if your meat did not leave enough), add 1 chopped or thinly sliced onion, 1 chopped or thinly sliced bell pepper, and about half of an 8oz package of sliced mushrooms.  If you are a mushroom fan like me, you can sneak it a little more than that  😉   Cook that, stirring often, on medium-high heat for about 3 minutes.  Add 2 cloves finely chopped garlic and continue cooking, stirring often, for another 2 to 3 minutes, until all the vegetables are softened.  Now, throw the meat back in, and add 1/2 cup beef broth, 1 T Worcestershire sauce, and 2 T cream cheese.  Reduce heat to a medium and cook for 5 more minutes, stirring often.  That is basically it.

There is debate as to whether Provolone or American cheese is proper for a Philly Cheesesteak.  I haven’t (and won’t) do the research to discover truly what is correct but I just say this, Go with what you like!  I prefer provolone, Husband prefers american.

Pile some meat on a bun and place a slice of Provolone or American cheese on top.  With the sandwich still open faced, place on a rack in the oven with the oven set to broil.  Allow to broil just long enough to melt the cheese.

Serve while warm!

20131103_185335 20131103_185346







Erin, The Burbs

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I love homemade bread but my poor excuse for arms don’t like to knead bread.  They protest, loudly!  Anyway, I bought a bread machine hoping that would solve the problem but I never use it because I just don’t like the way it turns out.  Finally, I found a recipe that fulfills my need of being homemade without a bread machine or kneading.  I have tried it out twice and both times, great success!  This recipe was found on blog called I Heart Naptime.  You can go to it by clicking here.  I am not going to post the recipe here out of respect for my fellow bloggers.  I am sure she would like the blog hits so please go to that link to see the recipe (her pictures are better than mine too), its worth it!


Erin, The Burbs

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I have been on a risotto kick lately.  I am loving the consistency and versatility of it.  It has the ability to be the same each time you make it and be completely unique each time you make it, all at the same time!  It is something you can always count on to “feel” the same each time.  It is creamy and deliciously rich but each recipe makes it completely unique and different and a new taste adventure!  Risotto is a great side for beef, chicken, fish, or even game meat!


So, most recently I made a cheddar risotto.  Try it out, it was yummy.  I found it in a cooking magazine but I cut it out of the magazine and don’t remember where so I need to make it known, I am sharing someone else’s recipe 🙂

4 T butter

1 cup chopped yellow onion

2 cups arborio rice (yes, it has to be Arborio rice)

5 cups hot water

1 chicken bouillon cube

1/2 t salt

2 cups grated cheddar cheese (sharper is better!)

1/2 cup of diced ham (you can use deli ham, just cut it into little squares)

4-5 cups spinach

black pepper

Melt butter in large saucepan over medium-high heat.  Cook until butter starts to brown (it should be 2-3 minutes).  Stir in onions and rice and cook for about 2 minutes.  Stir often.  Add hot water and bouillon cube, and salt.  Increase heat to high and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.  Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer until done.  Taste it to make sure.  Risotto should be creamy and almost thick soup like but still have the rice feel like rice, not mush.  It will absorb some of the remaining liquid even as it sits after it is removed from the heat.

Remove pan from heat and stir in cheddar and ham.  Stir until cheese is melted and stir in spinach.  Serve immediately.  Serves 8.

Erin, The Burbs

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I have been working on making a few recipes completely on my own lately (I always change recipes to work better for me and my tastes but I do usually start with some recipe as a jumping point) and this is my latest.

If you do not drink or use alcohol, the alcohol in this cooks off before you eat it BUT if that still does not make you comfortable, you can find some non-alcoholic cooking wine in some grocery stores (even here in Utah because it is non alcoholic); it is usually with the vinegars.

So, this recipe makes enough sauce for 4 small pasta portions or 2 large ones.

Here we go:

Start by finely mincing 2 garlic cloves and finely chopping 1/2 of an onion.  Turn a pan on medium high heat and let heat up for about 1 minute.  Add enough olive oil to the pan to lightly coat it.  Allow that to heat for another minute or so.  Drop in the onions and garlic, they should sizzle when you drop them in.  Stir and saute that around for about 4-5 minutes.  Remove from heat for about 30 seconds and then add 1 cup of white wine.  Put back on the heat and bring to a simmer.  Allow to simmer strongly until the wine reduces to about half of what you put in, stirring frequently.  Sometimes your head plays tricks on you and it is hard to tell.  Just use your best judgement, it does not have to be perfect.

Next, turn it down to a low simmer and add 1 1/2 cup heavy cream.  Stir to mix and begin to bring back to a simmer while you prepare the next part.

Now in a small bowl, mix 2 T flour and about 1/3 cup water together.  Just before the sauce comes back to a simmer, slowly stir in the flour and water mixture.  Make sure the mixture was stirred just before you pour it in or the flour will settle to the bottom.  Continue to stir and allow to simmer for just a few minutes.  It will thicken but it will not be as thick as alfredo or red sauce.

Add 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese and stir until it melts.  Finally, add 2 T butter, salt and pepper to taste and stir until mixed.

Serve on pasta, garnish with chopped parsley.  Now, I served mine on a traditional spaghetti noodle but it was only because I had already started those for dinner already when I decided I did not want a red sauce like the kids were having.  I would prefer this on an angel hair or fettuccine.



I also thought after I made this that a GREAT addition would be mushrooms!  A white wine mushroom cream sauce?  Can I say YUM!  I bet if you Just chop them up to a medium size chop and saute them with the garlic and onions to start.  Then finish the recipe the same way.  I wish I would have thought of it before, but I forgot (and didn’t have mushrooms anyway).

Erin, The Burbs

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