Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Maze Runner - James Dashner

The Maze Runner (Maze Runner, #1)The Maze Runner by James Dashner
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Reminiscent of Hunger Games, quick paced, great plot.  I would have given it 5 stars except it started feeling like a video game during the last 50 pages or so.

Excited to get the next one

View all my reviews

Weekly Recipes - Nathan & Jill

Day 1: Chipotle Beef Chili with Lime Crema

Day 2: Acorn Squash Rings with Curry Butter


Side: thanksgiving test run, takes some time to simmer but looked good and we just got some baby carrots and a basket of clementines recently.

Spiced glazed Carrots with Sherry citrus

Day 3: Chicken Breasts with Sun Dried tomato and Garlic Crust

Day 4: Curried Lentil Soup

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Weekly Recipes - Darla

Lettuce wraps from PF Changs A friend at work has a cook book that tries to duplicate recipes from our favorite restaurants.  In the book was  a recipe for lettuce wraps from PF Changs.  I know that Nathan one time gave me  a recipe for lettuce wraps but this one also includes the sauce.  I always love these.  they are a little more flavorful than some of the other dishes there.
Special Sauce:
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 T soy sauce
1/2 cup water
2 T rice vinegar
2 T ketchup
2 t water
1 T lemon juice
1 to 3 t chili garlic sauce
1/8 t sesame oil
1 T chinese hot mustard powder

2 T soy sauce
1/2 t rice vinegar
2 T dk brown sugar
3 T oil

2/3 cup diced straw mushrooms
2 skinless chicken breasts
3 T chopped green onion
1 cup diced water chestnuts
1 clove garlic

1 cup fried maifun rice sticks
ice lettuce leaves

1.  Make special sauce for spooning over your lettuce wraps by dissolving the 1/4 cup sugar in 1/2 cup sater in a small bowl.  Add 2 T soy sauce,  2 T rice vinegar, 2 T ketchup, 1 T lemon juice and 1/8 t sesame oil.  Mix well and refrigerate this sauce until you're ready to servee the lettuc wraps. combine the 2 t water and chinese hot mustard and set this aside also.  Eventually you will add your desired measurement of Chinese mustard and garlic chili sauce to taste.
2.  Prepare the stir fry sauce by mixing the soy sauce, brown sugar and rice vinegar together in a small bowl.
3.  To prepare the filling for your lettuce wraps, bring the oil to high heat and saute the chicken breasts for 4-5 min on each side until done.  Remove chickenfrom pan to cool.  Keep oil in pan
4.  As chicken cools cdice water chestnuts and mushrooms the the size of small peas.
5. When you can handle the chicken dice up in small pieces no larger than dime.  add remaining oil into pan and add chicken, garlic, water chestnuts, mushrooms and the stir fry sauce and saute for a couple minutes then spoon over a bed of fried rice noodles (maifun)

You know how to put together.  Add hot mustard and chili sauce to the special sauce to your taste.  I think i will also try tofu in this recipe it will be in the same sauce but will take a little different prep.


1 lg sweet potatoe or Yam
3 T finely chopped pecans
1 T butter
3 T maple syrup
1/4 of white onion chopped
1/4 t cinnamon

Bake potato for  40-45 min in 400 oven.  This will bake it nearly through while still leaving it firm enough to slice when cool.  When potatoe has cooled, peel and slice into 1 in bite size pieces

Melt 1 T butter in large skillet,  Add onion and pecans and saute for a couple minutes or until the onion begins to brown. Add cubed sweet potatoe maple syrup, and cinnamon and saute for 3-5 min. stirring often or until the sweet potatoe pieces or hot and tender.

  Jane and Michael Stern, of, talked about the definitive Chicken Vesuvio at Harry Caray's in Chicago awhile ago on the show. We were swamped with recipe requests and then America's Test Kitchen delivered this. For my taste, I'd up the garlic to three cloves, but otherwise, this is going to make a lot of friends and family happy.

Reprinted with permission from Cooking for Two 2010: The Year's Best Recipes Cut Down to Size (America's Test Kitchen, 2010). Copyright © 2010 by the Editors at America's Test Kitchen
Serves 2
For a spicier dish, stir in 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes with the garlic in step 3.

1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 (6- to 8-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed and pounded 1/2 inch thick
Salt and pepper
5 teaspoons olive oil
12 ounces red potatoes (about 3), cut into 1-inch chunks
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon minced fresh oregano or 1/4 teaspoon dried
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary or 1/8 teaspoon dried
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1. Place the flour in a shallow dish. Pat the chicken breasts dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Working with 1 breast at a time, dredge in the flour, shaking off the excess.
2. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Carefully lay the chicken in the skillet and cook until lightly browned on both sides, 6 to 8 minutes, flipping the breasts halfway through. Transfer the chicken to a plate.
3. Wipe out the skillet with a wad of paper towels. Heat the remaining 2 teaspoons oil in the skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the potatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 7 minutes. Stir in the garlic, oregano, rosemary, and 1/8 teaspoon salt and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the broth and wine, scraping up any browned bits. Nestle the chicken, along with any accumulated juice, into the potatoes and bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook until the chicken registers 160 to 165 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, 12 to 18 minutes, flipping the chicken halfway through.
4. Transfer the chicken to a serving platter and tent loosely with foil to keep warm. Increase the heat to medium and continue to cook, uncovered, until the potatoes are tender and the sauce is thickened slightly, 5 to 7 minutes longer. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the potatoes to the platter with the chicken. Off the heat, stir in the peas, butter, and lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour the sauce over the chicken and potatoes and serve.
• Sauvignon Blanc is a good white wine to keep on hand for cooking and deglazing pans to make a quick sauce.
• If you don't have a meat pounder you can use a rolling pin or the flat bottom of a small heavy skillet.


Good tasting extra-virgin olive oil
4 boneless and skinless chicken breasts (organic if possible)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2-inch branch of fresh rosemary
10 to 12 olives (oil cured, Sicilian, or Kalamata)
1 large blood orange, or navel orange, peeled and the flesh cut into small chunks
2 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/4 to 3/4 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter

1. Lightly film a 12-inch straight-sided sauté pan with the olive oil. Heat it over high heat until oil shimmers slightly. Slip the chicken breasts into the pan, sprinkling them with salt and pepper. Lightly brown them on both sides, taking only about 30 seconds per side.
2. Immediately reduce the heat to medium low, add the olives, rosemary, orange pulp, garlic and 1/4 cup of the orange juice. Make sure the liquid is barely bubbling.
3. Cover the pan and cook 3 minutes; turn the chicken, check the sauce for burning (add a few tablespoons of orange juice if needed), and cook another 4 minutes, or until the chicken is firm, but not springy, when pressed. Remove the chicken to a serving platter and keep it warm.
4. Make the sauce by adding another 1/4 to 1/3 cup orange juice to the pan and boiling it down to a syrup while you scrape up any brown bits and glaze from the bottom of the pan. A flat sided wooden spatula is invaluable for this. Swirl the butter into the pan just to blend it in. Scrape the caramelized syrup over the chicken and serve hot.

• There are two keys to moist and succulent chicken breasts: one is slow, gentle cooking to retain much of the natural moisture in the cells of the meat. You want to do a quick sear over high heat for a little browning, then gently cook the breasts over medium-low heat. The other trick is brining. Figure 45 minutes to two hours in the refrigerator in a brine of 1/4 cup kosher salt to 1 quart very cold water (a little sugar, chile and other flavorings could be added to the brine).
• Finishing simple pan sauces by swirling in a tablespoon or two of cold unsalted butter (remove the pan from the heat first) enriches the sauce, smoothes out any roughness and thickens the sauce slightly. Besides, that small amount of butter gives you incomparable flavor.

Reprinted with permission from The America's Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook (America's Test Kitchen, 2010). Copyright © 2010 by the editors at America's Test Kitchen.
Serves 4

Flap meat steak or shell sirloin can be substituted for the boneless top sirloin in this recipe. We prefer this steak cooked to medium-rare, but if you prefer it more or less done, see the guidelines below.

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons water
1 medium shallot, minced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper

1 (1 pound) boneless top sirloin steak, about 1-1/4 inches thick (see note above)
Salt and pepper 1 tablespoon canola oil
1 pound red potatoes (about 5 medium), scrubbed and cut into 3/4-inch-thick wedges
3 romaine lettuce hearts (about 1 pound), torn into bite-size pieces
1/3 cup thinly sliced red onion

1. For the dressing: Whisk all the ingredients together in a bowl until well combined; set aside.
2. For the salad: Pat the steak dry with paper towels and season with 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Heat 2 teaspoons of the oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Brown the steak well on the first side, about 3 minutes. Flip the steak, reduce the heat to medium, and continue to cook until the center of the steak registers 120 to 125 degrees on an instant-read thermometer (for medium-rare), 5 to 7 minutes longer.
3. Transfer the steak to a carving board, tent loosely with foil, and let rest for 10 minutes. Cut the steak across the grain into 1/4-inch-thick slices.
4. Meanwhile, toss the potatoes with the remaining 1 teaspoon oil in a large microwave-safe bowl. Cover and microwave on high until the potatoes are tender, 5 to 10 minutes, stirring the potatoes halfway through the cooking time.
5. Return the skillet to medium-high heat until just smoking. Add the potatoes in a single layer and cook until well browned on both sides, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
6. Whisk the dressing to recombine. Toss the lettuce and onion with 1/2 cup of the dressing, then divide it among four plates. Arrange the steak and potatoes on top of the salads, drizzle with the remaining dressing, and serve. To Make Ahead: The dressing can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days; whisk to recombine and season with additional salt and pepper to taste before using.
Per serving: 380 calories, 16g fat (3g saturated), 50 mg cholesterol, 29g carbohydrates, 440mg sodium

Test Kitchen Tip: We were determined to create a salad with freshly seared steak, crispy potatoes, and well-dressed greens — one that was health-minded and simple. A skillet turned out to be the perfect vessel for the job, turning our meal into an easy skillet salad. While the steak seared, we popped the potatoes in the microwave to give them a head start (to avoid raw insides and burnt outsides). By the time the steak was ready to rest, the potatoes were ready to be added to the skillet to finish cooking, infused with a meaty flavor from the browned bits left behind by the seared steak.

Weekly Recipes - Heather

Thai Curry Stew with Turkey and Zucchini

Beef and Butternut Chili

Indian-spiced Roasted Squash Soup

Pan Seared Chicken with Tomato-Olive Relish

Mushroom, Corn, Poblano Tacos

Weekly Recipes - Jill & Nathan

Roasted beets and Carrots with Goat Cheese Salad
Spicy Green Bean and Tofu Stir-Fry with Ground Bison (or beef)
Winter Vegetable Soup
Smoky Spiced T-bone with Chilean Salsa