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Randomalities, October Style

Lookin' at My Cookin' (September)

My sweet friend Britt does this cool thing on her blog. Each month, she writes a post about the meals she cooked the previous month. She calls it "lookin' at Britt's cookin'," because not only does she include the recipes, but a photo of the meal, too. I've discovered several great recipes through her posts! Last month she invited her blog readers to play along, so I did.

But only sort of.

I mean, I was fairly successful at keeping track of some of the better meals we had. (You'll forgive me if I leave out the cold-cereal dinners, or what Kendell calls YOYO dinner—you're on your own, which happens when I'm at work and have failed at fixing something before I left. Or the times we had Taco Bell for dinner. Or breakfast. Breakfast for dinner I mean, not Taco Bell for breakfast. That'd be gross.) What I didn't manage was getting photos of everything. Partly, it's because sometimes I'm not home when the food is being dished up and eaten (that'd be because I'm at work). Usually it was because I forgot. I know! Still, I'm going to play along this month, and probably next month, too, if Britt'll have me. Maybe in October I'll manage the photos better. So, here they are: some of the better things I cooked in September:

Cilantro Lime Chicken Burritos
(***with photos!!!***)
I got the idea for this recipe from my neighbor Doug, who does most of the cooking at his house. (Part of me is envious of his wife, who never has to cook, but really: I like cooking! So I will just continue getting good ideas for cooking from my neighbor and not be jealous.) It came from this recipe but I modified the technique quite a bit. Mostly because I didn't want to get the grill out.

Cilantro Lime Chicken Burritos

6 or so small limes
3 pounds chicken tenders
3/4 cup chicken broth
about 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
4 cloves crushed garlic
1 1/2 tsp chili powder
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
black pepper
2 tsp salt
3 T butter, divided
1 T olive oil

Juice three limes into a bowl. (If you don't own a citrus juicer, like this one Lemon juicer
you should buy one. They are AWESOME! Every bit of juice possible is squeezed from the fruit, and it is so fast.) Cut the chicken into small pieces (You could use any type of chicken; I like the tenders because I think they're easier to cut.) and drop them into the bowl of lime juice, stirring occassionaly with your hands so that all the pieces get a lime-juice bath. Heat 1 T butter and 1 T olive oil in a big frying pan until hot. Pour the diced chicken right into the hot oil and spread it around so it's like a big patty of chicken pieces. Grind some black pepper on top. (While it cooks, clean up the raw chicken mess. It's OK. You can be obsessive—get out the bleach. Or not. It's your funeral.) Cook for about 3-4 minutes, then drain the sloshy stuff. Flip the "patty" over, then break up the pieces. Toss in some more pepper, then let the chicken brown (about 5 minutes.) Meanwhile, juice the other 3 limes. (You can use the same bowl, by the way, but you might want to clean it with bleach before you do so.) Mince the cilantro into the smallest bits you can. Combine the lime juice, cilantro, spices, salt and garlic. Pour over the browned chicken. Add the remaining 2 T butter and stir till it's all melted. Turn the heat to low; let the chicken simmer until it's absorbed all the liquid. (This takes about the same amount of time as it takes to make a batch of guacamole, btw.)

Cilantro lime

Serve on corn tortillas, with corn, cheese, sour cream (if you like it...I used to like sour cream but now I think it's sort of icky), and guacamole.

Recipe annotations:

Mmmmmm! This was delicious and I will make it again. Once the chicken was cut, it came together really quickly. The sweetness of the corn inside the tortilla blends well with the tartness of the chicken.

Corn and Quinoa Soup

3/4 cup quinoa
2 cans chicken broth
3 T butter
1/2 onion, diced
2-3 garlic cloves, crushed
1/4 cup flour
5-ish cups half-and-half and milk combined
2-ish cups cheddar cheese
3 cups frozen corn (or more!)
green Tabasco
ground black pepper
chipotle chile pepper
cayenne pepper

Rinse the quinoa well. Heat a pan on the stovetop till it's hot. Pour the quinoa onto the hot pan and heat until golden brown, about 3-4 minutes, stirring occassionally. Add the two cans of chicken broth and bring to a boil. Cover the quinoa and let simmer for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, dice onion. Saute with garlic in the butter until the onions are translucent. Pour into a blender or food processor and process until smooth. (You can skip this step if your eaters aren't super-pick and allergic to anything that remotely resembles texture.) Add the flour and about a cup of the milk mixture to the blender and process until the flour is incorporated. Return to pan and add the rest of the milk. (I did not measure this part, really.) Bring the soup to almost a simmer over medium heat. (Try to not let it boil.) Add the cheese and the spices to taste.

While the soup is coming to a simmer, heat the corn in the microwave. When the quinoa has simmered for fifteen minutes, check to see if it's done: it should be slightly al dente, and there will still be liquid left in the pan. Add the quinoa and the remaining liquid to the cream base, stir in the corn, and adjust the seasonings. Serve with garlic breadsticks.

Recipe annotations:
I made this on a Sunday night. I had good intentions that morning to put the swiss steak in the crock pot but honestly: I didn't even get it out of the freezer. In fact, I had no meat thawed at all, so I needed something meatless. I concocted this recipe based on stuff I had in the kitchen and Haley's request for "something with corn." (She, by the way, did not eat the soup except for her required three bites. She just ate plain corn. Same with Kaleb.) I'd been reading a vegetarian cookbook and this was a hodgepodge of a few of the recipes in it.

Don't fear the quinoa! It is completely delicious and so, so easy to cook. I sampled it once at Costco and then I immediately bought a bag. That was five months ago and I hadn't cooked it yet. That Sunday was the day. Seriously. Its texture is sort of rice-ish, kind of. Sort of bulgar-ish, too. It adds a lovely texture to the soup and some healthy protein, too. I loved this and will make it again!

Garlic Breadsticks
3 cups warm water
2 T yeast
2 T sugar
1 tsp salt
2 T olive oil
8 cups flour
1/3 cube butter
1/3 cup mayonnaise
3 cloves garlic, crushed
Parmesan cheese

Combine water, yeast, and sugar in mixer bowl; let sit for about 10 minutes. Add salt, oil, and flour; mix or knead until a soft dough is formed---it is just the smallest bit sticky when it's ready. Let rise for about 20 minutes under a warmed towel. Shape dough into bread sticks; put into two 9x13 casserole dishes. Mix butter, mayo, garlic, and some Parmesan cheese and spread over sticks. Bake at 400 for 15-20 minutes.

Recipe Annotations:
I make these quite often. They really come together quickly and are delicious! A secret to getting your bread to rise: cover it with a warm towel. Toss a clean kitchen towel into your microwave for about ten seconds or so, then cover the dough with it. The warmth makes a difference!

Chicken Scallopine
This recipe comes almost exact from the Pioneer Woman . I only changed a couple of things. (Click on the link to see her original. And her pictures, since I forgot. Plus, she's funnier than I am.)

1 pound linguine
3 lbs chicken tenders
salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons butter
12 ounces baby Bella mushrooms
1 1/2 cup white cooking wine or chicken broth
1 whole lemon
½ cup cream
1 cup half-and-half
1 teaspoon (heaping) capers
dried parsley
Parmesan cheese, for topping 

Cook pasta according to package directions.

Rinse and trim chicken. Salt and pepper both sides, then dredge in flour. Heat butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Fry chicken breasts until golden brown. Remove to a plate and set aside.

Throw mushrooms into the pan and stir. Immediately pour in wine and/or chicken broth, and then squeeze juice of 1/2 to 1 lemon. Stir to deglaze the pan, and then cook vigorously for 5 minutes, until sauce reduces.

Pour in cream and half-and-half, then stir. Add capers and parsley and stir. Turn off heat. Stir and add salt and pepper to taste.

Place pasta and chicken on a platter and top with every last drop of sauce. Generously sprinkle Parmesan Cheese over the top.

Recipe annotations:
Did I already say that I like using chicken tenders better than breasts? I just do. They're so, well, tender! Plus, they are already pretty uniform, so you don't have to pound them a la PW. But you could make this with chicken breasts, too. To dredge the chicken tenders, I pour the flour onto a cookie sheet and shake it gently so it's evenly spread. Then I put the tenders right on top of the flour (all of them!) and shake (gently) again. Turn over and repeat. WAY faster than doing it one at a time!

This was delicious! Of course, how could it not be with mushrooms and cream? The nice thing was that while Haley and Kaleb didn't want sauce, they could still eat because the chicken wasn't in the sauce. They just had plain noodles and sauceless chicken. More for the rest of us!

1 package manicotti noodles
1 15-ounce container ricotta cheese
2 cups mozarella cheese, grated
1 handful Parmesan cheese
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp parsley
salt and pepper
28-ounce jar spaghetti sauce

Boil the pasta. Meanwhile, stir together all the rest of the ingredients, except the red sauce. Pour about 1/2 cup of the sauce into a 8x12 pan. Stuff the cheese into the manicotti tubes and place them into the pan. Cover with sauce, then sprinkle with more Parmesan. Cover with tinfoil, then bake at 375 for about 45 minutes.

Recipe annotations:
This was the first meal I ever made for Kendell, for his birthday when we were dating. I've been cooking it for a LONG time! Some of the manicotti will split open when you are boiling them; if that happens, just put the seam side down in the pan. Stuff the manicotti from one side and then the other to make it a little bit easier. You can also use jumbo shells instead of manicotti.



Fantastic, Amy! I especially love the lime squeezy picture with the coordinating bowl. Thanks for playing along! I'm going to have to print all of these and try them.


My husband would go crazy for those cilantro chicken burritos. I'm not a fan of cilantro myself, but I might just make those for him anyways.

Sheena Schippers

Those cilantro lime chicken burritos look delish. That will have to be put on my menu for this week. Thanks!


WOW, those look amazing. Will be adding them to the menu. . .


You must enjoy cooking. I can't imagine making more than one of these meals in a two week period. Thankfully, my husband doesn't really want to eat normal meals (lots of salads and meat-less meals) and quite often does the cooking around here. Plus, if I make something that tastes good, he opts out of it because it isn't healthy enough for his standards.

I WILL be trying the Manicotti, though. This used to be my favorite dish at Manzella's back in Urbana, IL, when John and I were dating. If I could make something that came even part-way close, it would be AMAZING!

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