Baked Potato

I know, I know… It’s just baked potato. But I have tried so many recipes for baking a potato and by far, this is the best and easiest baked potato I’ve had. The taste is unbelievable. I love eating the skin too. Just make sure you wash the potatoes really well. This is a perfect no-fuss side dish that you can just stick in the oven while making the main dish. As an added bonus, the aroma of the potatoes baking in the oven is so heavenly. I know, I know… it’s just baked potato. But a very delicious baked potato indeed!

Baked Potato

adapted from Good Eats by Alton Brown 

  • 1 large russet potato
  • Canola oil to coat
  • Kosher salt
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees and position racks in top and bottom thirds. Wash potato (or potatoes) thoroughly with a stiff brush and cold running water. Dry, then using a standard fork poke 8 to 12 deep holes all over the spud so that moisture can escape during cooking. Place in a bowl and coat lightly with oil. Sprinkle with kosher salt and place potato directly on rack in middle of oven. Place a baking sheet on the lower rack to catch any drippings.
  2. Bake 1 hour or until skin feels crisp but flesh beneath feels soft. Serve by creating a dotted line from end to end with your fork, then crack the spud open by squeezing the ends towards one another. It will pop right open. But watch out, there will be some steam.

NOTE: If you’re cooking more than 4 potatoes, you’ll need to extend the cooking time by up to 15 minutes.

 

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Beef Stroganoff

I have a lot of career-driven, no time to cook and do other household duties friends. Most of the time, we thank the Chinese take-out for saving us from hunger. But some days, we still crave for home-cooked meals. After all, I think we deserve a treat after a long day of hard work and stress. In this fast-paced world, we want something  that is fairly easy to make  but will result in a very tasty meal. This recipe is one that meets the criteria.  I love pasta, and beef stroganoff is one of my favorite pasta dishes.  I love how creamy and filling this dish is. The combination of beef and mushroom makes this dish even tastier. Serve this, together with garlic bread and wine, and I’m sure all the frustrations and stress of the day will melt away.

Beef Stroganoff

adapted from Paula Deen: Paula’s Best Dishes

  • 1 1/2 pounds cubed round steak, cut into thin strips
  • House Seasoning, recipe follows
  • All-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 (10 3/4-ounce) can beef broth
  • 1 (10 3/4-ounce) can cream of mushroom soup
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • Cooked egg noodles (in this recipe, I used Farfalla instead)
  1. Season the steak strips with House Seasoning, then dust with flour. In a large skillet, quickly brown them on both sides in the olive oil and butter. Remove the steak from the pan.
  2. Add the onion slices and mushrooms to the pan drippings. Saute for a few minutes, until the onion is tender. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon flour.
  3. Put the steak back into the pan with the onion and mushrooms. Add the mushroom soup and beef broth.
  4. Cook over low heat for about 30 minutes, covered. Adjust seasoning to taste, adding salt and pepper, as needed.
  5. Stir in the sour cream the last few minutes, right before you serve. Serve over cooked noodles.
To make the house seasoning:
  • 1 cup salt
  • 1/4 cup black pepper
  • 1/4 cup garlic powder

Mix the ingredients together and store in an airtight container for up to 6 months.

Herbed Lemon Chicken (aka Engagement Chicken)

Calling all you not-so-single ladies out there! Here’s a recipe that you may want to try..

Okay, this recipe is really called Herbed Lemon Chicken, but apparently, it was since then called Engagement Chicken (according to Glamour magazine, July 2006 issue) because of the story behind it. According to the old wives’ tale, this recipe came from a fashion editor of Glamour magazine and she gave it to her assistant, who then made this for her boyfriend. Then a few weeks later, the boyfriend proposed to her. The assistant then passed on this recipe to other people, and the same thing happened – after a few weeks, they got engaged to their boyfriends. Thus, what was previously known as Herbed Lemon Chicken is now called THE Engagement Chicken.

So, why did I make this?? Well I can give you a variety of reasons… No. 1: I’ve never roasted a whole chicken before.. No. 2: My new, still-in-its-box roasting pan has been sitting in my cabinet for months now, and I need an excuse to use it or else I won’t hear the end of the lecture about “buying stuff that you won’t use” yada yada yada.. No. 3: Since I want to attempt to make roast turkey for this year’s thanksgiving dinner, I need to start with something small and quite inexpensive (like chicken) so that if I mess up, then I won’t feel as guilty… No. 4: I wanted to test my cooking skills.. No. 5: OF COURSE I’m curious! Is this engagement chicken for real?? Or is this just a publicity stint? Well… I got my answer… and my answer is this:  This recipe is so good and easy to follow, the chicken is so juicy and very tasty, the burst of flavor is so wonderful that if you serve this to your special someone, he/she will feel very appreciated, loved and cared for. Those are some of the important things that will make your special someone realize how lucky he/she is to have you.

Enjoy cooking!

Herbed Lemon Chicken (aka Engagement Chicken)

adapted from Glamour.com

  • 1 whole chicken (approximately 4 pounds)
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice, plus 3 whole lemons—including 1 sliced for garnish
  • 1 tbsp kosher or coarse sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • Fresh herbs for garnish (4 rosemary sprigs, 4 sage sprigs, 8 thyme sprigs, and 1 bunch fl at-leaf parsley)

1. Position an oven rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F. Remove the giblets from the chicken, wash the chicken inside and out with cold water, then let the chicken drain, cavity down, in a colander for 2 minutes.

2. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Place the chicken breast-side down in a medium roasting pan fitted with a rack and pour the lemon juice all over the chicken, both inside and out. Season the chicken all over with salt and pepper inside and out.

3. Prick 2 whole lemons three times each in three different places with a fork and place them deep inside the cavity. Chicken cavity size may vary, so if one lemon is partly sticking out, that’s fine. (Tip: If the lemons are stiff, roll them on the countertop with your palm before pricking to get the juices flowing.)

4. Put the chicken in the oven, lower the oven temperature to 350°F, and roast, uncovered, for 15 minutes.

5. Remove the roasting pan from the oven. Using tongs or two wooden spoons, turn the chicken breast- side up. Insert a meat thermometer in the thigh, and return the chicken to the oven and roast for about 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes or until the meat thermometer reads 180°F and the juices run clear when the thigh is pricked with a fork. Continue roasting if necessary. Keep in mind that cooking times in different ovens vary; roasting a chicken at 350°F takes approximately 18-20 minutes per pound, plus an additional 15 minutes.

6. Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes before carving. And here’s the secret: Pour the juices from the roasting pan on top of the sliced chicken— this is the “marry me juice.” Garnish with fresh herbs and lemon slices.

Classic Lasagna

When it comes to comfort food, nothing beats a classic lasagna. This is a tried and tested recipe, easy to make and will please the tummy. I love cheese, and you can never go wrong with putting a lot of mozzarella and Parmesan with this food. To put a twist on a classic lasagna, I added Italian sausage. I realized that having at least two meat varieties will heighten the taste. Some people even use ground beef, pork and lamb and they swore that the taste is so superb. I would like to try that someday…  The other twist I did was to add spinach leaves. It breaks the monotony of an all-meat lasagna. Best paired with red wine and garlic bread on the side, this dinner will surely put a smile on everyone’s face and satisfaction to the tummy.

Enjoy!

Classic Lasagna

modified from Tyler’s Ultimate (Tyler Florence)

  • 1 pound dried lasagna noodles
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound ground Italian sausage
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • spinach leaves
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped Italian flat leaf parsley
  • 1 tsp chopped oregano leaves
  • 2 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 can spaghetti sauce
  • 1 quart ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound mozzarella, shredded
  • Grated Parmesan and mozzarella, for topping

 

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Cook the lasagna noodles in plenty of boiling salted water with salt until al dente, follow the cooking instruction in the box. Stir with a wooden spoon to prevent sticking. Drain the noodles thoroughly and coat with olive oil to keep them moist and easy to work with.
  3. Coat a large skillet with olive oil, add beef and sausage and brown until no longer pink, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add garlic, onion, basil, parsley and oregano to the pan with the ground meat and stir to combine. Stir in the flour.
  4. Stir in the diced tomatoes and add pasta sauce.
  5. In a mixing bowl, combine ricotta and eggs, and season with salt and pepper.
  6. Assemble the lasagna.
To assemble the lasagna:
  1. Coat the bottom of a deep 13 by 9-inch pan with 1/4 cup of lasagna sauce. Arrange 4 noodles lengthwise in a slightly overlapping layer on the sauce. Then, line each end of the pan with a lasagna noodle. This forms a collar that holds in the corners.
  2. Dollop 1/2 of the ricotta mixture over the pasta, spread to the edges with a spatula.
  3. Spread 1/2 of the meat mixture over the ricotta. Add spinach leaves to cover the meat mixture.
  4. Sprinkle 1/2 of the mozzarella on top of the ricotta.  Add a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.
  5. Repeat with the next layer of noodles, ricotta, sauce, spinach leaves and cheeses.
  6. Top last layer with noodles, sauce, shredded mozzarella and Parmesan.
  7. Tap the pan to force out air bubbles. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove  the aluminum foil and bake for another 15min.  Remove lasagna from oven.
  8. Let lasagna rest for 20 minutes so the noodles will settle and cut easily. Cut into 2-inch squares and serve.

Sarciadong Isda (Fish Sarciado)

For another Filipino recipe, I decided to make this simple yet very tasty fish recipe. Sarciadong Isda (or fish sarciado) is basically fish that was simmered in sauce composed of lots of tomatoes and onion. Not only is this meal very inexpensive, it is also really easy to make. Because all I have are Tilapia fillets, I decided to use those instead. The original Filipino recipe uses the whole fish (usually fresh water fish and not the salt water type). And this is best served with steamed rice. Try it!

Sarciadong Isda (Fish Sarciado)

modified from Panlasang Pinoy

  • 6 pieces Tilapia fillet
  • 3 pieces medium-sized tomatoes, diced
  • 3 pieces medium-sized onions, diced
  • 3/4 cups water
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp garlic, minced
  • 1 piece raw eggs, beaten
  • Cooking oil for frying

1.  Heat oil in a frying pan. Rub the fish with salt and pepper. When the oil is hot, fry the fish. Remove the fish from the frying pan. Set aside.

2. Remove extra oil in the frying pan. Leave about 1 tsp oil and sauté the garlic, onions, and tomatoes. Add ground black pepper and stir. Add water.

3. Pour the beaten egg on the pan. Ensure that it is distributed evenly.

4. Once the eggs curdles or coagulates, you may start stirring the mixture. Add the fish and simmer for another 3 minutes.

5. Serve hot. Share and enjoy!