Oops. I did it again. This whole dieting thing is really difficult whenever Stephen comes into town. To top it all off, I am apparently not as amazing as I think I am when it comes to weight loss. Saturday morning, I reweighed myself after BOASTING on my blog about my amazing feats of dieting, and it turns out I had gained back nearly TWO pounds. Luckily, I had already resolved to eat whatever I wanted in moderation this weekend, and somehow, don't even ask me HOW this all works out, but I have ended up losing nearly all of those two pounds again even while eating pizza, frozen yogurt, root beer floats, and this amazing meal I am about to share with all of you. I don't know how eating a tortilla on Friday night caused me to GAIN weight, but eating anything I wanted caused me to LOSE weight. Ugh, whatever.
ANYWAYS, long story short, this entry is more about sharing a pretty epic meal I prepared for the Bairds on Sunday night. I love Sunday dinners. I also love treats after Sunday dinners, and although I know the first recipe I am going to share with you isn't necessary a BAKED good, it's worth mentioning. Ladies and gents, I bring you Chicken Cordon Bleu Pasta and Cookies-n-Cream Oreo Fudge Brownies.
Recipe #58: Chicken Cordon Bleu Pasta (as found on http://amysnewkitchen.blogspot.com... SHOUT OUT to a wonderful fellow blogger)
All right, this recipe came to be because I knew I had wanted to make something for the in-laws this weekend as a way of celebrating Stephen coming to visit us all. As I sat in his parent's kitchen on Saturday morning, his mother mentioned that for Valentine's Day, she and Dave had been treated to a meal of Chicken Cordon Bleu with some sort of sauce on it, and she could not stop raving. As luck would have it, at that precise moment, I remembered I had just posted a chicken cordon bleu recipe I had really been wanting to try on my Pinterest, one that I knew Stephen would really enjoy. I had to make a few adjustments to the recipe since I was feeding a larger crowd than the recipe called for, but it worked out beautifully... other than overheating the broiler, Dave putting the oven rack too close to it, a fire erupting on top of the bread crumbs, Ava screaming bloody murder when the fire alarm went off, and Stephen burning his hands on the cookie sheet we set the garlic bread on... all in a matter of five minutes. Well played, Bairds.
1 lb. Pasta (I actually used a pound and a half of penne pasta, since there were actually eight of us, plus one 2-year old)
1 cup Chicken Breasts, cooked and cubed (I doubled it to 2 cups of chicken breasts. Luckily for us, Stephen and I found these strips of chicken that were called "stir fried strips" that worked perfectly!)
1 cup Ham, cooked and cubed (Again, we up-ed it to 2 cups)
1 1/2 cups Milk
8 oz. Cream Cheese (softened)
2 Tbsp. Dried Minced Onion
2 cups Swiss Cheese, shredded
1 cup Panko Crumbs
1/2 cup Butter, melted
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over med-high heat. Salt it and add the pasta; cook until al dente. Drain and return to the pot. Add in the chicken and ham and toss to combine.
- The blog said to let it cook for 11 minutes. I think I kept mine on for 15 all together, because at 11 it wasn't done.
2. Preheat the broiler. In a medium saucepan, combine the milk, cream cheese and minced onion over low-medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until it becomes a smooth texture (about 5 minutes).
- A word of caution: set your broiler to LOW. LOW people. On top of that, at this point, Ava had come into the kitchen and was DEMANDING to eat pieces of cubed ham... so while I was holding her, Stephen took over. I was preoccupied, so when he started asking questions about what to do, I accidentally told him to combine the Swiss cheese and this point. DON'T DO THAT. He ended up having to scoop the shredded cheese out... way more work than needed. Sorry, love.
3. Stir into the pasta mixture. Stir in the Swiss cheese and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- We also added immense amounts of Cayenne pepper at this time because the dish needed a kick. Luckily, the pepper did the trick. It gave the dish a nice back burn, which sounds weird, but it's what was needed, otherwise I think it would be too bland.
4. Transfer pasta to a baking dish and top with Panko crumbs. Pour melted butter over crumbs and broil until browned (I gave it 4 minutes).
- HA HA, this is when all heck broke loose. We also forgot the butter, but I don't think it's needed.
This ended up making two relatively large pans of pasta, PERFECT!
Next up, brownies! I am always scouring the internet for brownie recipes (because brownies are my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE treat!), and this one looked too fun to pass up- chocolate, ice cream, hot fudge, and Oreos? SIGN ME UP.
#59: Cookies N' Cream Oreo Fudge Brownies (as found on http://www.kevinandamanda.com)
1 box Brownie Mix (I used Ghirardelli's double chocolate brownies, with chocolate chips in the batter)
eggs & oil (with the Ghirardelli mix, it ended up being 1/3 a cup oil and one egg, I believe)
1 heaping half cup (6 oz) Cookies & Cream ice cream (they were out of cookies and cream [at least, the kind on sale], so we opted for mint chocolate chip. MY FAVORITE!)
1/4 Cup hot fudge topping (chilled or room temp)
Oreo Cookies (Double Stuff babes...)
1. Preheat oven & spray an 8×8 baking dish generously with cooking spray.
- In my case, the box of brownie mix called for a 325 degree oven... and I couldn't find an 8x8 pan, so I ended up using a 9x13... probably not the greatest decision, I'll explain later.
2. Combine brownie mix, eggs, and oil as directed on the back of the box, but do not add the water.
- OOPS, I added the water. Mistake #2.
3. Add ice cream and hot fudge to the brownie batter and stir to combine.
4. Pour half of the brownie batter into the baking dish, layer with Oreos, then top with remaining batter. Bake for 40-50 minutes or as directed on the back of the box.
- I ended up keeping mine in for about 60 minutes.
All right, so, these brownies were GREAT... they just turned out looking a little less than perfect. When Stephen and I tried spooning them out, they were surprisingly very crumbly. On top of that, the sides ended up getting very crisp and dry, while the inside pieces were perfect. Sigh. We ended up piling tons of the ice cream and hot fudge on top of the brownies, and no one seemed to notice. They were stinkin' delicious all the same!