Category Archives: Cheesy Cheese


I kid because I love. After making this dish from Everyday with Rachael Ray, we were a little surprised it didn’t have a catchier name than her usual recipe titles such as stoup (not a stew, not a soup, it’s stoup!), so we started coming up with our own crummy names such as Choke-Sotto or Lemo-Choko-Sotto to play off the real name of Lemon-Artichoke Risotto. In Rachael’s words, this was yummo!

Lemon-Artichoke Risotto (Photo by Dan Roberts)

Honestly, this might be one of our favorite risottos we’ve made here at the casa. Risottos are not one of my favorites to make because you stand and stir for 20-30 minutes, and that requires a muscle that’s underdeveloped in me: patience.  Now compared to my friend Lindsay at Apron Adventures, who loves making risotto, I’d rather watch paint dry. What I did like about this was the layers of flavor that are easily applied to make this a delicious risotto: artichokes, toasted walnuts, parmesan cheese and lemon. Bright and comforting all at the same time. And quite perfect for the insane artic chill we have here in Austin. Oh yeah, I got to experience my first rolling blackouts today with power for 15 minute intervals every 45 minutes. Let me tell you, it was one of the most productive days this year…wink, wink.

If you have risotto paranoia give this one a try for me, I promise you will like it.  I’m sorry, every time I type risotto I think of Chef Ramsay from Hell’s Kitchen, “Where the hell is my risotto?!”.  For your viewing pleasure (NSFW).

Grilled Cheese If You Please

I think Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup might be one of my favorite comfort food combos of all time. My reigning favorite still has to be Luna Park’s in Los Angeles Cheeselitz and Tomato Soup, but a homemade version with Kale? Sign me up! I chose this Grilled Cheese-and-Kale Sandwiches with Tomato Soup from Everyday with Rachael Rayfor a fun kid’s night at Casa Kealey. To be honest, I don’t have too much to say except this was simple, fast and easy to make, and absolutely delicious. The havarti cheese was super melty. You know the kind of grilled cheese that you pull away from the sandwich and strings of gooey cheese come out? Yeah, that kind and here’s your drool cup. Also, the soup was creamy and a perfect complement to the sandwich. I actually kept dunking my sandwich into the soup. Finally, there was kale. I’ve professed my undying love for kale again and again so I won’t bore you with the love poems or sonnets I have for it. This was a fun, delicious and quick meal that’s perfect for all ages.

Now about this artic chill. There are icicles on our porch. Icicles…ACK! I do hope it snows though so I can go outside and make snow angels!

Grilled Cheese-and-Kale Sandwiches with Tomato Soup (Photo by Dan Roberts)

Bread Pudding With A Little Erskine On The Side

Everything I’ve tested and tasted this week has been pretty good but not really C.I.T.L material if you know what I mean – until last night. I spotted this Sausage and Caramalized Onion Bread Pudding when it came out in October 2009 and then it got lost in the recipe shuffle. I revisited last week and decided to put on my menu plan or forever hold my peace. Good things come to those who wait!

Sausage and Caramelized Onion Bread Pudding (Photo by Becky Lugart-Stayner)

This was so yummy and savory and bread puddingy. We gobbled up one piece, both went back for seconds and had it for lunch today too.  The only addition I made was a little fresh thyme since I had some handy and I love adding fresh herbs whenever I can. Moving on to the salad I chose to accompany the fantastic bread pudding. The name is quite unique: Hotel Russel Erskine Salad. Turns out, Russel Erskine was a businessman from Huntsville, Alabama and was the president of Studebaker motor cars for several years. The Hotel Russel Erskine building is still in Hunstville, but is now an aparment complex. Sigh, that makes me think of the beautiful Plaza Hotel in New York City. I digress. This dressing, served at Hotel Russel Erskine, is a funky combo of flavors THAT ROCKS. Hoseradish, sweet paprika, dry mustard, cider vinegar, sugar, Worcestershire sauce and olive oil. This reminded me of a typical French dressing but was much thinner and lighter in flavor; perfect for the watercress. I highly recommend both of these!

Mexican Chicken Casserole with Charred Tomato Salsa

I had been eyeing this gentle little casserole since the magazine hit my hot little hands and I finally got around to it this week. This is one of Cooking Light’s recipe makeovers and let’s take a look at the “Old Way” vs “Our Way” shall we? 


1,084 calories per serving
28 grams saturated fat
2,075 milligrams sodium
Greasy, processed ground beef
Beans: Fried and fried again
A pound of cheese

331 calories per serving
6.1 grams saturated fat
535 milligrams sodium
Skinless, boneless chicken breast
Veggies: lightly seasoned and sautéed
A hearty sprinkle of Jack cheese and feta

Mexican Chicken Casserole...BAM! (Photo by Randy Mayor)

I always wonder where their “Old Way” inspiration comes from so I can  STEER CLEAR of it. 1,084 calories? That’s just insane and makes my teeth itch. This sucker is chock full of veggies but you don’t really notice it since they are cooked in with the chicken and enchilada sauce. Good one for the kids eh?! The two cheeses are just enough to get your ooey, gooey cheese fix and the flavors all worked well together. One thing I would recommend is either double the amount of homemade salsa you make since there didn’t seem to be enough to include like the recipe calls for or just purchase a store bought fire-roasted salsa and save yourself the time. Overall this is  a good solid dish and awesome as leftovers the next day. I do have to say this Mexican inspired pie recipe, although not as healthy as the above, is still to this day my absolute favorite.

Walnut-Breadcrumb Pasta with Soft Egg


Walnut-Breadcrumb Pasta with Soft Egg (Photo by John Autry)

This was an odd dish when I first saw it. “Where’s the sauce?” I said out loud as I was adding it to my menu plan. “Where’s the sauce?” David asked while I was making it. I’ll tell you where the sauce is. It’s in the super inventive breadcrumbs and soft gooey egg! Nom, nom, nom *buries head into bowl of pasta and barely comes up for air*. This seemed like a pretty simple dish to make but I don’t know if it was because I was tired (NO SUN DUE TO ARTIC CHILL) or that you’ve got three seperate things going on, the boiled egg, the pasta and making the breadcrumbs. Yeah, that’s not that hard, I was tired.

This was delicious and it was my first time making a soft-boiled egg. Hard boiled, sure. Soft boiled? Where the heck as this been my whole life? It’s just like a poached egg but with the exterior of a hard-boiled. News flash to me since David mentioned he’s been making these for quite some time. We loved all of the flavors together and don’t omit the goat cheese, it was a perfect addition to the dish. I would highly, highly recommend finishing this off with your favorite olive oil. We thought without this addition, even with the egg and breadcrumbs, that it could have turned out to be a little dry.  Nice little pasta for a weeknight meal. Just don’t make it when you’re a tired panda and you will be just fine.

Tales from the Slow Cooker

If you are a fan of the Cooking Inside the Lines Facebook page, you might have seen my grumblings with the Slow Cooker recipes section from Food and Wine. I tried the Slow Cooker Puerto Rican Chicken in Green Sauce and Slow Cooker Ham Hock and Chickpea Stew and let’s just say former was bland and blah and the latter was simply inedible. It’s rare that I try recipes that we actually can’t even think to stomach to eat. To me these were just poor by recipe design and seemed to lack a lot of flavor – and in a slow cooker to boot…ouch! When I saw that I had chosen yet another one of the recipes from this section, Slow Cooker Lamb Shanks with Lemon, Dill and Feta, I almost decided to not even try. But, since I like to stick to my menu plan I forged ahead. Well thank goodness that I did lambs because this was delicious! YAY!

Slow Cooker Lamb Shanks with Lemon, Dill and Feta (Photo by: Fredrika Stjärne)

What I think worked for this recipe, compared to the others, was you seared the shanks before putting them in the slow cooker and finished it of with fresh ingredients such as dill and more lemon juice to freshen it up. A word to the wise, since you place whole lemon slices in the slow cooker they take on a preserved lemon taste. I’m kind of  fan of this flavor, David likes it better, but we both agree that it can be polarizing. We would recommend to remove unless you and your fellow diners lurve preserved lemons. I served this on top of orzo and sauteed fresh spinach with garlic that was finished off with a little red wine vinegar. Also, if you think you are not a lamb fan, shanks are an easy way to turn non-believers into believers. They.are.delicious. I also like this dish because it was hearty enough for a cold winter night but had a certain brightness to it with the fresh dill, lemon and feta; a little bit of spring in your winter dish.

Make this today lambs!

Put a Little Pep in Your Parm!

For their January issue, Food and Wine focused on the top food trends for 2011 with complementary recipes per month such as gourmet ice-pops in July and and DIY sodas in August. One trend is the General Store Redux which is a good old fashioned general store with a locavore focus. A recipe featured from one of these new types of stores, Seattle’s Take 5 Urban Market, was the Chicken Parmesan with Pepperoni.  I followed this to a “T” and I said to David after we were done eating that it’s the easiest and best chicken parm crust I can recall making in quite some time. The crust is PERFECT and the chicken was still moist and delicious. We loved the sauce, pepperoni and cheese on top and I served this with their superfast salad idea which is simply mixing roasted bell peppers (I used jarred) with fresh basil and toasted pinenuts and then dressed with red wine or we used white balsamic (David’s idea!) vinegar and olive oil, plus a little salt and pepper.

Chicken Parmesan with Pepperoni (Photo by Quentin Bacon)

I cut the chicken breasts in half and baked off two halves in the oven without any cheese, sauce or pepperoni. For some schuper sandwiches today I brolied the leftover breaded chicken halves, cheese, sauce and pepperoni until the cheese was bubbly and melted on whole wheat rolls.

There was one point of confusion as I made the dish. Check out the recipe picture and then read the instructions for cooking the chicken. Doesn’t it look like they plated it backwards from the instructions? I followed the recipe instead of how the picture looks i.e. chicken, with pepperoni, then sauce then the cheese but hey, if you want it to look like the beauty shot for your guests I think it would still turn out delicious no matter how you stack it! Tonight is the Slow Cooker Puerto Rican Chicken with Green Sauce, I can’t wait to try it lambs. UPDATE I made the Puerto Rican chicken last night and let me tell you, you can pass this one up – meh.

Chicken Parmesan with Pepperoni

Food and Wine magazine, January 2011


2 large eggs

1/4 cup milk

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

2 cups panko (Japanese bread crumbs), finely crushed in a food processor

Four 8-ounce skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, pounded 3/4 inch thick

Salt and freshly ground pepper

3/4 cup canola oil

1 1/2 cups tomato sauce

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

1 cup shredded mozzarella

2 ounces sliced pepperoni

2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley


1. Preheat the oven to 450°. In a pie plate, beat the eggs with the milk. Spread the flour and panko in 2 separate pie plates. Season the chicken all over with salt and pepper and dust in the flour. Dip the chicken in the egg mixture and then in the panko; press to help the crumbs adhere.

2. In a large skillet, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the chicken and fry over moderately high heat, turning once, until cooked through, about 7 minutes. Drain the chicken on paper towels, then transfer to a rimmed baking sheet. Top the chicken with the tomato sauce, Parmigiano, mozzarella and pepperoni.

3. Bake the chicken for about 15 minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbling. Transfer the chicken to plates, sprinkle with the parsley and serve.

Kids Night!

Looking over my blog I realized, gosh darnit, we eat pretty well around these parts. Lamb the other night, Moroccan dates another. I was feeling a little too fancy for my own pants and decided to take it back a notch. Nothing can make me feel like a kid again than crunchy chicken fingers with a dipping sauce and creamy mac and cheese. I grew up in a house with a home cooked meal every night (thanks Mom!) with fun food items like these to look forward to when I came home from school. Something about this simple combo just made me giggle like a little Emily again.

I chose these Pan-Fried Chicken Fingers with Spicy Dipping Sauce and the Chicken, Bacon and Ranch Mac and Cheese both from Cooking Light plus some adult grape juice aka a nice bottle of a 2008 Cols Du Vents Corbieres to go along with. Trust me it just sounds fancy, it was on sale for $9.00 at Whole Foods Market! 

I also like Cooking Light’s comparison of regular chicken fingers versus their creation:

703 calories per serving
1,000 milligrams sodium
10.7 grams saturated fat
Deep-fried in lard
Drowning in sauce
Greasy, heavy coating

414 calories per serving
495 milligrams sodium
1.5 grams saturated fat
Pan-seared in canola oil
Just enough spicy mayo sauce
Light, crispy, crunchy

Pan-Fried Chicken Finger with Spicy Dipping Sauce (Photo by John Autry)

Dude, the sodium and saturated fat difference alone should be enough to convince you to give these a try. I couldn’t find the recommended Kashi brand cereal at our HEB so I winged it and grabbed Grape-Nuts Flakes cereal. YUM! This cereal made a delicious sweet crust for the chicken. I pan-fried two minutes per side as instructed but had to chunk the whole batch into the oven for about 8 minutes at 350 degrees to finish them off as they were still pink inside. After that though? Awesome chicken fingers with a crispy, crunchy crust and not greasy just like they say plus the chicken was still juicy. I heart this sauce. It was so simple but y’all it is a spicy little fireball so watch out and lower the amount of Sriracha if you are not a heat seeker. Of course I loved it’s spicy kick.

The mac and cheese. Nom, nom, nom. I omitted the chicken from the recipe because well that’s too much poultry for one night. Also, I decided to use turkey bacon and used three slices instead of regular bacon and only using one slice. I can’t help it, I love bacon or bacon flavor in anything! Otherwise I followed this to the letter and it turned out perfectly. I especially loved the ranch flavor of this dish. With the onion and garlic powder and fresh dill, it just zinged and zanged but without all of the calories of a true ranch dressing.

After dinner, bellies full but not too much, we sat down and watched Zombieland. This was David’s first time seeing the film and my second. My goodness I love this movie. I think every single line of Woody Harrelson’s is an excellent one-liner. My favorite…? Here you go. We have leftovers for lunch today and I’m thinking about making a chicken tender salad with the Pioneer Woman’s – don’t you just heart her?! – homemade ranch dressing with the remaining mac and cheese on the side.

Update! Leftover chicken fingers on top of mixed greens with above mentioned ranch dressing and mac and cheese – SUPER LUNCH!

Me with a Chance of Meatballs…or Bolognese?

So poodles, I tried one of my all-time favorites last night again, the Spaghetti and Meatballs All’Amerticiana (you should hear me say this out loud, it sounds like I’m having a seizure) from Bon Appetit . Now, I followed this recipe exactly as instructed again except we made the meatballs (as the recipe says you can do) the night before.

That’s it.

Spaghetti and Meatbals All'Amertriciana (Photo by Craig Cutler)

However our delicious meatballs as I cooked them fell apart and became a ground beef mixture with bacon paste…bacon paste, yes I’m still in awe thank you very much.

While this was good, it wasn’t as good as I recalled. I mean don’t get me wrong, it has delicious layers of flavor and the sauce rocked. I also noticed the marjoram this time around which gave it nice little floral notes if I do say so myself but it just wasn’t the same.

I’m getting all Sherlock Holmes about this because I can’t figure out why this failed this time. Could it be because I made them the night before? One would think that would hold them up even better due to the fridge/tightening up time. Could it be that I’m still practicing on the gas range and messed it up that way…most likely poppets. Either way it was delicious but in a less meatballish kind of way.

Oh well, onward and upward lambs, tonight it’s braised chicken with dates…fingers crossed!

Ratatouille and Goat Cheese Subs with a Side of ACL

I earmarked these subs a while ago in the September issue of Food & Wine because I adore Ratatouille (sans eggplant) and I love the idea of this timeless dish combined with tangy goat cheese all on toasty bread. More on the recipe’s creator Chef Matt Neal in Food & Wine:

Matt Neal had never made ratatouille before he opened Neal’s Deli. He took the recipe from his father, the legendary Southern chef Bill Neal, and used it as the basis for his own version. Neal cooks the key ingredients—eggplant, zucchini, bell peppers and onion—separately. “That way, I can make sure each vegetable cooks exactly how I want it; plus they won’t steam in a big group all together,” he says. “Customers request this sandwich all summer long, but we wait until the ingredients are available at the farmers’ market before we serve it.”

Ratatouille and Goat Cheese Subs (Photo: John Kernick)

I omitted the eggplant because we both think it’s disgusting – yes disgusting and it’s quite nice to have someone share that same disgust with you since so many people love eggplant. Otherwise, I followed the recipe’s instructions to the letter and it went by much, much quicker than I thought given you have to cook all of the vegetables individually.

I really can’t say much more about these except that they were absolutely delicious, full of flavor and as a bonus perfect for a meatless Monday meal. After ACL Festival weekend, this was a great transition dish to move back into a healthy diet.

As a sidenote, ACL? Wow. I had an absolute BLAST. While Muse was mind-blowingly good my choice for best show was definitely Deadmau5. Lambs, he was a super poodle, put on a fantastic show and the crowd was waaaaay into it. I highly recommend checking him out if you haven’t yet. Oh, and The National, one of my all-time favorites, was exactly how I thought they would be…absolutely incredible. Thank goodness I finally got to see them live!