Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Spicy Chicken Shawarma

 A shawarma and a Morgan!

Anyone from the Mankato area will tell you that Massad's is the place to eat if you are at the mall. The chicken shawarma's there are to die for, even if they leave you with unfortunate breath for a day or two. Since I no longer live in the area, I have been forced to find my own version, and this one comes pretty close. I don't think Massad's could ever be replicated unless you got the actual recipe, but this one comes close enough to tide me over until the next guarantee of a Massad's shawarma, Black Friday. An bonus, it's pretty healthy!

Spicy Chicken Shawarma
Source: Adapted slightly from Cooking Light

Ingredients:
  • 2  Tbls  finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2  tsp  salt
  • 1/2  tsp  crushed red pepper
  • 1/4  tsp  ground ginger
  • 1/4  tsp  ground cumin
  • 1/8  tsp  ground coriander
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbls  plain low-fat Greek-style yogurt, divided
  • 2  Tbls  fresh lemon juice, divided
  • 3  garlic cloves, minced and divided
  • 1  pound  skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, thinly sliced
  • 2  Tbls  extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1  Tbls  tahini
  • 4  (6-inch) pitas, halved
Optional toppings:
  • 1/2  cup  chopped cucumber
  • 1/2  cup  chopped plum tomato
  • 1/4  cup  chopped red onion
  • lettuce
1. Combine first 6 ingredients in a large bowl; stir in 2 tablespoons yogurt, 1 tablespoon juice, and 2 garlic cloves. Add chicken; toss to coat. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken mixture to pan; sauté 6 minutes or until browned and done, stirring frequently.

2. While chicken cooks, combine remaining 1/4 cup yogurt, remaining 1 tablespoon lemon juice, remaining 1 garlic clove, and tahini, stirring well. Spread 1 1/2 teaspoons yogurt mixture inside each pita half; divide chicken evenly among pita halves. Fill each pita half with desired toppings.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies


I have finally returned to the land of the blog! The past two months have been a blur, between writing my clinical competency exam, writing parent assessments, spending time with Abby and Mason, keeping the house clean, weddings, friends, family etc. I have not had any spare time to blog my adventures. And honestly, the adventures were few and far between:/ But I'm back, with a backlog of things to post, so hopefully I can keep up!

Ah the chocolate chip cookie. So simple, so delicious, and yet they so easily snuck under my radar. I'm sure everyone has their go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe, I mean a cookie is a cookie right? Wrong. Sorry mom, but these cookies beat out your recipe we have been making for years. 

The technique to these cookies is a bit untraditional based on other cookies I have seen/made. From what I gather from America's Test Kitchen, when the melted butter mixes with the dough, the flour proteins grab onto freed water molecules from the butter, forming elastic sheets of gluten. In other words, gluten=chewy cookie. Science aside, these are just damn good cookies. Thick, chewy and chocolate-y. Even if you have a go-to recipe already, I strongly urge you to give these a try and compare.

Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
Source: Adapted slightly from American Classics, from the editors of Cooks Illustrated

Ingredients:
2 cups plus 2 Tbls all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
12 Tbls unsalted butter, melted and cooled until just warm
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg plus one egg yolk
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

1. Adjust oven racks to upper and lower middle racks; heat oven to 325 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. Whisk together dry ingredients.

3. By hand or with stand/electric mixer, beat melted butter and sugars until thoroughly combined. Add the egg, egg yolk and vanilla; mix until incorporated and smooth. Slowly add in dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Be careful to not overbeat. Add chocolate chips and stir to combine.

4. Roll a scant 1/2 cup dough into a ball. Holding dough ball in fingertips of both hands, pull the dough apart into two equal halves. Rotate the halves 90 degrees and place on baking sheet with jagged surfaces up, leaving enough room between each ball.

5. Bake for 11-14, rotating baking sheets halfway through baking, until outer edges start to harden but centers are still soft and puffy. Cool cookies on baking sheet until they can be moved to cooling rack without breaking.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Busy Busy

Things have been pretty busy around here lately! I have a big paper due in a few weeks, so I have not had time for any blog updates. I'm still cooking and baking, so stay tuned for new posts in a couple weeks:)

Friday, April 16, 2010

Laughing Cow Chicken


If you google "laughing cow chicken" I am sure that you will find a ton of variations of this recipe. There really is no real way you can mess up this dish, and the beauty of it is that you can take the concept and adapt it any way you want. I've seen versions using each cheese flavor (garlic and herb, french onion, swiss), breaded and non-breaded, flattened and rolled, etc.

In the past I would make this by pounding the chicken, spreading on a wedge of cheese, and then rolling it up and securing with toothpicks. However, I feel too much of the cheese oozes out while baking, so this is my new variation and I love it! Again, feel free to switch up the cheese and seasonings. When using garlic and herb cheese I like to use italian seasoning in the panko.

Laughing Cow Chicken
Source: Kitchen Escapes original

Ingredients:

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
4 wedges laughing cow cheese, french onion
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1 egg white
1/4 tsp. onion powder
salt and pepper
1-2 Tbls. olive oil

Preparation:

Cut 2 inch horizontal slits in each chicken breast, making sure to not cut all the way through, just cut enough to make a nice pocket. Spread one cheese wedge in the pocket of each chicken breast and season each with salt and pepper.

Combine panko, onion powder and salt and pepper to taste in shallow bowl. Add egg white to second shallow bowl. Dip chicken breasts in egg and then dredge in breadcrumbs, coating well.

Heat oil in large oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat; preheat oven to 350 degrees. Add chicken breasts to hot skillet, cook 4-6 minutes until browned. Flip chicken, cook another 4-6 minutes until brown and crispy. Transfer skillet to oven, bake 6-10 minutes until chicken is cooked through.

Enjoy!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Spicy Asian Lettuce Wraps


Over the past few years I have made numerous recipes from Cooking Light, and I have come to find that some of the magazine's recipes are disappointingly bad. I had high hopes for a ricotta pasta awhile ago, that ended up a congealed mass of cheese and dried herbs....quite unedible.

These wraps.....are 100% edible and delicious, a definite Cooking Light success. The hubby was a bit skeptical as he claims to have never seen lettuce wraps before, but I'm pretty sure he is now a lettuce wrap convert. The meat mixture is pretty spicy, almost too much for me, so you can always cut back on the amount of chili paste.

Spicy Asian Lettuce Wraps
Source: Adapted from Cooking Light

Ingredients

2 1/2 ounces rice noodles
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon chile paste with garlic
2 teaspoons dark sesame oil
1 lb. ground turkey
8-12 large Boston or Romaine lettuce leaves

Heat skillet over medium-high heat; brown turkey; drain off any excess grease/liquid.
 
Meanwhile, add rice noodles to boiling water; boil 6-7 minutes until al dente. Drain noodles and rinse under cold water. Chop noodles into bite size pieces.
 
Combine soy sauce, chile paste and sesame oil in large bowl. Add cooked noodles and turkey to soy sauce mixture, toss well to coat.
 
Spoon about 1/3 cup turkey mixture down center of each lettuce leaf; roll up.
 
Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Black Russian Cake

Is it strange that I'm always really disappointed in myself when I forget to take a picture of something? Maybe I should just be happy that usually when this happens, it's also a case of something being so good that there is no time to waste in taking pictures. Sometimes I just need to dig in. This cake was no exception.

I can't remember how I came across this recipe, but I'm so glad I did. This cake is super easy, incredibly moist and has great flavor from the coffee and Kahlua. I'm a huge fan of most things coffee flavored, and I kind of wished that flavor was more potent in this cake, but either way it was still delicious.

Black Russian Cake
Source: The New Intercourses: An aphrodisiac cookbook

For the cake:
butter for greasing
1 cup vegetable oil
4 large eggs
3/4 cup strong coffee
1/2 cup creme de cacao
1/4 cup Kahlua
1 package dark-chocolate cake mix
1 (3 1/2 ounce) package instant chocolate pudding

For the topping:
1 1/2 cup confectioners sugar, sifted
3 tablespoons strong coffee
3 tablespoons Kahlua
3 tablespoons creme de cacao

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and thoroughly grease a 10-inch Bundt pan or a tin of miniature Bundts.

For the cake, combine the oil, eggs, coffee, creme de cacao, and Kahlua in a large bowl. Mix well with a wooden spoon. Add the cake mix and pudding mix, and stir until just combined. Pour into the Bundt pan until three-fourths full.

Bake 45 to 50 minutes, or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Invert cake onto a serving plate and punch holes throughout the cake with a skewer or ice pick.

While the cake is baking, prepare the topping. Be sure to sift the confectioners sugar well, or the glaze will be lumpy. Combine the confectioners sugar, coffee, Kahlua, and creme de cacao until the sugar dissolves. Spoon over the warm cake, reserving several tablespoons to drizzle onto cut slices.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Marinara Sauce

Check out my new gorgeous new dutch oven! For quite some time now I have been pining over Le Creuset dutch ovens, but I could not stomach the price (close to $200!) and there was no way Andy would ever be okay with spending that much on a kitchen gadget. So I finally gave up that dream and found a Lodge dutch oven for $50, that is still pretty and will last forever without the hefty price.

Naturally, I couldn't wait to make something in my new toy, and the obvious choice at the moment was Giada's marinara sauce. I've been wanting to make this for a long time, but I was being picky and did not want to make it unless it was in a shiny new dutch oven:/

As it turns out, I should have made this a long time ago. I may never need to buy jarred tomato sauce again! This is really easy to make, and can be frozen for future use.

Marinara Sauce
Source: adapted from Giada De Laurentiis

Ingredients
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 small onions, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup red wine
2 (28-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
1 dried bay leave

Directions
In a large pot, heat the oil over a medium-high flame. Add the onions and garlic and saute until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the celery, carrots, and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Saute until all the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes. Add wine, stir and let simmer until almost all has evaporated. Add the tomatoes and bay leaves, and simmer uncovered over low heat until the sauce thickens, about 1 hour. Remove and discard the bay leaves. Season the sauce with more salt and pepper, to taste.

(The sauce can be made 1 day ahead. Cool, then cover and refrigerate. Rewarm over medium heat before using.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Spanish Rice

The last of my mexican side dishes, and again another meal I enjoy in restaurants but have never made at home. I really enjoyed this rice, and it paired great with leftover pork carnitas. I think this would be a great addition to any future taco night in our house.

I did have a slight issue while making this because I somehow did not pay attention to my grocery list and bought tomato paste instead of tomato sauce. I did not realize this until I had already started making the rice, so I had to improvise. I ended using about 4 oz tomato paste and adding a little extra liquid, and the end result still had great flavor, but had a bit too much liquid. Next time I'll pay better attention to my own grocery list.

Spanish Rice

Ingredients

3 tbsp canola oil
1 1/2 cups uncooked long grain white rice
3 cloves minced garlic
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup finely chopped jalapeno
1/4 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1 tsp Kosher salt
1 tsp Mexican oregano (didn't have so used normal oregano)
2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
3 cups chicken stock
8 oz. can of tomato sauce

Method

Heat the oil in a skillet on medium heat and saute the rice until it is golden brown. Add the vegetables and seasonings, and continue to saute for 1 to 2 minutes longer. Add the broth and the tomato sauce, and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until the sauce is almost completely absorbed. Remove the rice from the heat and let it stand 3 to 4 minutes, still covered. Fluff and serve.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Mashed Pinto Beans with Manchego Cheese


Keeping on the spanish/mexican theme we had going on a few weeks ago, I needed to find a couple new side dishes. This recipe caught my eye because I LOVE refried beans, but have never had them at home. I think the hubby thought I was crazy as I was preparing these beans, but I was very satisfied with the outcome.

However, I did not care for the bacon, and would leave that out next time. Maybe my bacon wasn't crispy enough, but I just did not really like the addition, so my changes are reflected below. Also, I have not acquired a potato masher yet, so my beans were not mashed as much as I would have liked, so hopefully I'll have one by the next time I make these beans.

Mashed Pinto Beans with Manchego Cheese
Source: adapted slightly from elly says opa

1/2 medium onion or one shallot, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2/3 cup chicken broth
1/4 tsp. cumin
1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
salt and pepper
2-3 Tbsp. shredded or grated manchego cheese
sliced scallions
1 tsp olive oil

Heat olive oil over medium heat in large skillet; add the onion/shallot and cook until tender. Stir in the garlic until fragrant, and then the chicken broth, cumin, beans, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring the mixture to a light boil and continue to simmer for 10 minutes (or for as long as you want, if you want to time it with your main dish).

Use a potato masher to press down on the beans, and mash to your desired consistency (adding more broth if necessary).

Once plated, top with the manchego cheese and sliced scallions

Monday, March 29, 2010

Island Spice Pork Tenderloin


Now that it is grilling season, I strongly urge all of you to make this meal ASAP. Pork tenderloins can grill up in about 15 minutes and you can essentially flavor the meat any way you want. This was actually our first time having pork tenderloins, as we usually stick to the larger pork loin roasts, and I was incredibly turned off in the past by those packaged, already flavored pork tenderloins you can buy (seriously, the one time we had one of these I was totally grossed out.) However, I am now a fan of good quality pork tenderloins and can't wait to try more ways of preparing them.

Back to the recipe at hand; this pork is like a flavor explosion in every bite. Honestly, with every bite you get the faint sweetness from the brown sugar, a hint of garlic and cumin, and then a burst of heat from the cayenne pepper and hot sauce. And my favorite part, the hint of cinnamon lurking around the corner of each bite. I actually almost could not make this because the hubby explained to me that he does not like cinnamon unless it's on his toast. Seriously, how can you not be intrigued and in love with cinnamon? So we compromised by adding cayenne pepper.

Every bite of the pork tasted a little different, depending on where the glaze ended up during the grilling process. The glaze carmelizes and creates a nice crust on the outside, so don't mistake this for burnt meat! I think we'll be having this again soon! The original recipe roasts the tenderloin so I adapted it for the grill.

Island Spice Pork Tenderloin
Source: Adapted from Annie's Eats, who adapted from Pennies on a Platter

Ingredients:

For the spice rub:
2 tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. ground black pepper
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 tbsp. olive oil

2 pork tenderloins (about 2-2½ lbs. total)

For the glaze:
½ cup packed dark brown sugar
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1½ tsp. Tabasco or your favorite hot sauce

Directions:
Combine the salt, black pepper, cumin, chili powder, cinnamon and cayenne pepper in a small bowl. Stir together with a fork to blend. Pat the mixture over the pork tenderloins. Cover with plastic wrap, refrigerate 4-8 hours, or as long as you want.

Prepare a medium-hot grill. Remove meat from refrigerator and let rest 15 minutes to take the chill off. Combine brown sugar, garlic and hot sauce.

Grill the pork for 12 minutes, turning a quarter turn every 3 minutes. Top tenderloin with 1/3 brown sugar glaze. Continue to cook pork, turning every minute or so, topping twice more with glaze. Cook pork until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the tenderloin measures 145 degrees or the meat is slightly pink at the center. Let the pork rest 5 minutes before slicing.

Enjoy!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Manchego Stuffed Pork Chops with Roasted Red Pepper-Pepita Sauce


I'm always on the look-out for ingredients I've never had/used before, and this recipe really hit the jackpot. Pepitas? Basically pumpkin seeds, but something I've never cooked with. Manchego? A salty, slightly tangy cheese that opened a new door in my cheese-lover's heart. Roasted red peppers? Sure I've had a jar hanging out on the shelf for-ev-er, but I have to admit I'm not sold on these yet.

I figured I would love the pork chop aspect of this meal, because honestly, anything stuffed with cheese has to be pretty good. And I was not disappointed with that part. The sauce, however, did not sit well with me. I do think that was my own fault because I think I used too much balsamic vinegar, and I ended up scraping all the sauce off my pork. I think it could be a good sauce, and the hubby seemed to enjoy it, but not quite up my alley yet.

Another plus to this meal is how fast and easy it all comes together. Served with mashed pinto beans, it was an all-around new tasting experience for us!

Manchego Stuffed Pork Chops with Roasted Red Pepper-Pepita Sauce
Source: elly says opa

1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, divided
2 pork chops
thinly sliced manchego cheese
2 Tbsp. pepitas
1/2 cup sliced roasted red peppers
1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 350.

Using a paring or utility knife, slice pockets into your pork chops, or nearly butterfly them. Stuff the chops with thin slices of manchego (about 1/2 oz. for each chop). Season the pork chops with kosher salt and fresh pepper.

Heat a large, heavy bottomed skillet or saute pan over medium heat and then add 2 tsp. of the oil. Once hot, add the pork chops and brown on each side, about 1-2 minutes (don’t cook them through). Move the pan to the oven and allow the pork chops to finish cooking (8-15 minutes, depending on thickness and whether chops are boned).

Meanwhile, make the roasted red pepper sauce. Heat a small skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add the pepitas. Toss a couple of times and let them heat until fragrant and they start to turn golden brown. Combine the pepitas, roasted red peppers, vinegar, remaining 1 tsp. olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste in a mini food processor and process until smooth. Serve the red pepper sauce over the pork chops.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Pork Carnitas

Growing up, tacos made a regular appearance on our dinner table. Tacos are also one of my dad's most requested dinners, if I'm not mistaken. I know you should never mess with a good thing, and nothing can really compare to a regular taco, but sometimes it's nice to try something new. That's where these carnitas come in (along with a 6lb pork shoulder hanging out in the freezer that I just had to buy because it was on sale.)
These were actually really good! I have a little food crush on cinnamon, and I love that you can taste a hint of it in this pork. This pork is really juicy and full of flavor, and it makes A LOT. We served ours on corn tortillas with pepperjack cheese, jalepenos and tomatoes. This would also make a great filling for enchiladas, so our leftovers are hanging out in the freezer until it's enchilada time.

Pork Carnitas
Source: Homemade by Holman, adapted from Allrecipes.com

1 pork shoulder roast, 6-8 pounds
2 T chili powder
2 T ground cumin
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 T coarsely ground salt
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups apple cider
1 cup chicken stock

Put pork roast into a large crock pot, cutting into smaller pieces if necessary to make it fit. Mix spices in a small bowl and pat on top and sides of meat. Pour cider and stock around the sides of the roast, making sure to not wash off spices.

Cook on low for approximately 10 hours. The fat will easily pull off the top of the meat with a fork or spoon. Use 2 forks to shred the meat and remove the bone. Skim off some of the excess liquid, leaving about 1/2 - 1 cup in the crock pot and turn to warm until ready to serve. If you prefer you can also remove the roast before shredding the meat and add back into the crock pot.

Serve on tortillas with whatever toppings you want.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Cauliflower Soup

I have been on a huge cauliflower kick lately, and it's actually kind of disappointing that I went without veggies for so long because I was positive I did not like them. I'm glad I got over that! And holy moly, this soup is good. I actually cannot believe I had forgotten how delicious cauliflower soup could be. And I know that winter is now officially over, but that shouldn't mean that soup season is over as well. This soup is light enough that it can be enjoyed all year long, and it's actually pretty healthy (you can make it even lighter by not adding the cheese, but I am a firm believer that cheese makes almost anything better.)

Cauliflower Soup
Adapted from Branny Boils Over, inspired by The Pioneer Woman

Ingredients:
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh basil, chopped (or 1 tsp. dried basil)
1 1/2 heads of cauliflower, chopped into florets
4 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups whole milk
2 Tbsp flour
2 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese (I used reduced fat)
1/2 cup reduced fat sour cream
1 Tbsp olive oil

Heat olive oil over medium heat in large dutch oven or stockpot. Add onion and cook for 4-5 minutes, just to sweat, not brown them. Add minced garlic, saute until fragrant. Add celery and carrots, continue cooking for 4-5 minutes. Stir in salt, basil and cauliflower florets; cover and cook on low for 15-20 minutes.

Add chicken broth and bring soup to a simmer. Slightly warm milk in microwave and whisk in flour; add to soup. Simmer 15-20 minutes.

Using an immersion or standard blender, puree a small amount of soup (you can skip this step if you like your soup chunkier, but I wanted to thicken it up a little bit more.) Add parsley, cheddar cheese and sour cream; heat until cheese melts. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with crusty bread (see below); Enjoy!

Toasted Ciabatta
Slice a loaf of ciabatta bread, drizzle slices with olive oil. Toast in broiler until crispy. Peel a garlic clove and lightly rub over toasted ciabatta slices. Serve with soup.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Caribbean Jerk Turkey Burgers


Victory for turkey burgers everywhere!! I am so happy to have finally found a turkey burger that has tons of flavor, holds it shape relatively well, and actually tastes good enough to mask the fact that it is turkey and not beef! These burgers are constructed unlike any I have made before, and I believe it is part of the reason for the ultimate flavor. These are also a bit spicy, so they made the hubby happy. And topped with guacamole.....amazing.

Caribbean Jerk Turkey Burgers

Source: Homemade By Holman, adapted from Good Things Catered
Makes 4 burgers

1 lb ground turkey breast
4 T soy sauce
4 T red wine vinegar
2 T brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp thyme
3/4 tsp garlic salt
3/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp allspice
1/8 tsp ground ginger

4 hamburger buns
Guacamole
Red Onion

In a shallow bowl, mix together soy sauce, vinegar and brown sugar. On a plate, mix together all spices. Divide meat into 4 equal portions and form into patties, making them slightly thinner in the middle. Roll patties in spice mixture until coated on all sides. Dip patties into soy sauce mixture and transfer to a plate or rimmed baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap.

Refrigerate about 1 hour.

Heat a grill pan or skillet over medium-high heat with a tablespoon of oil. Cook about 5 minutes on first side until browned. Don't try to flip to early or they will have a tendency to stick. Cook on remaining side about 5 minutes more until cooked through. Toast buns under the broiler for a couple minutes until golden brown. Top burgers with a tablespoon of guacamole and a couple slices of red onion.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Orange Bread

No picture= use your imagination to envision how delicious this bread is. Such a nice twist from the traditional banana bread, and the flavor of oranges is so refreshing. I made this into 3 mini loaves so I could give away some of them, but they would also make terrific muffins. I can't wait to make these again!

Orange Bread
Source: Simply Recipes

Ingredients

1/3 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 Tbsp orange zest (or more for more intense orange flavor)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup golden raisins, chopped (I omitted)

Optional Glaze
1 teaspoon lemon juice*
1 teaspoon orange juice
1/3 cup powdered sugar (confectioner's sugar)

*If you happen to have Seville oranges, or sour oranges, use this juice instead of the lemon juice.

Method
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 4x8-inch loaf pan. To make it easier to remove the loaf from the pan, you may want to lay down a wide strip of parchment paper, along the length of the bottom of the loaf pan, and up the narrow sides. Butter this as well.

2. Beat the butter until fluffy, about 2 minutes on high in an electric mixer. Add the sugar and beat for an additional 2 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until completely incorporated after each addition. Beat in the orange zest.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.

4. Add the yogurt and dry ingredients by thirds, starting with the yogurt, alternating the additions. Beat only until just incorporated. Mix in the golden raisins.
5. Immediately pour batter into prepared loaf pan. Place in middle rack of 350°F oven. Bake for 45-50 minutes*, until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.
6. Cool on a rack in the pan for 5 minutes. Then remove the loaf from the pan and cool for another 10 to 15 minutes.

7. While loaf is cooling, prepare optional glaze if using. Whisk together the lemon juice, orange juice, and powdered sugar until smooth and there are no lumps. Place loaf on a serving plate. Use a toothpick or skinny skewer to poke holes in the top of the loaf and drizzle the glaze over the loaf.
*If you are using a 5x9 loaf pan, the loaf will be done earlier. Check at 40 minutes. You can use this recipe for muffins, in which case the cooking time should be 20-25 minutes.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Rice and Beans

I don't really have much to say about this recipe other than-it was tasty! I have this idea/urge to see if I can cut back on our meat intake, even if it means one meal a week. Although this has chicken sausage it in, I would have been just as happy without it. I would also like to think this is relatively healthy, as long as you watch the portions of rice.
Rice and Beans
Source: Adapted slightly from The Way the Cookie Crumbles

Serves 4

8 ounces cooked sausage, such as kielbasa (I used chicken sausage)
1 medium onion, diced small
1 stalk celery, minced (I used a red pepper instead)
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon cumin
2 (15-ounce) cans red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 cup chicken broth
4 servings cooked rice (follow directions on whatever rice you used, mine was 2 cups uncooked rice=4 servings

In a 3- or 4-quart saucepan over medium heat, cook the sausage until it begins to brown and fat begins to render. Add the onions and celery/pepper/whatever and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and just beginning to brown. Add the garlic and spice(s) and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the beans, tomatoes, and broth. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, then cover and reduce the heat to low. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is thick and the flavors have blended, about 30- 45 minutes (or as long as you want actually.) Serve over rice.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Crockpot Salsa Chicken

Sometimes making dinner is the last thing I want to when I get home from work or my internship, and somedays I don't get home until close to 8. On those days it's usually a fend for yourself type of dinner, or the hubby makes macaroni and cheese and hotdogs:) However, I really think I need to utilize my slowcooker more, but I kind of have anxiety about leaving it on all day with no one home. But I think I can work through that anxiety knowing that dinner will be ready for us when we get home.

The day I made this salsa chicken, I came home that evening to find the hubby standing at the counter eating. His first words to me were, "I can't stop eating these, I've had three already!" Those that know Andy well will understand that if he makes a comment without being asked, the food must be really good. And then I tried it, and I almost said the same thing he did. But with only 3 weight watchers points per serving, I felt okay about devouring my dinner.

We served this taco-style in tortillas, but it would also be delicious as nachos, enchiladas or over rice. This was a bit spicy, but I used hot salsa and a jalepeno, so you can adapt it to your own tastes.

Crockpot Salsa Chicken
Source: Chews Wisely

Ingredients:
4 frozen boneless skinless chicken breast (1.5-2 lbs)
1 cup salsa (hot or medium)
1 package taco seasoning (I used the lower sodium packet)
1 can 98% fat free cream of chicken soup
1 small onion, chopped
1 small can green chilies, undrained ( I subbed one jalepeno)
1/2 cup reduced fat sour cream

Directions:
Use medium to large sized crock pot. Spray inside of crock pot with cooking spray. Add frozen chicken. In a separate bowl, mix together salsa (I often use one 15 oz. jar which is more than 1 cup), taco seasoning and cream of chicken soup. Add to crock pot, mix in with chicken and cook on low for 8-9 hours or on high about 4 hours.

When chicken is done, turn off crock pot, remove cover and let it cool a bit. Meanwhile, chop the onion. After allowing it to cool for a bit, take two forks and shred the chicken. Mix in the onion, green chilies, sour cream and heat on low about 30 minutes.

Serve on tortillas, as a taco salad, or over tortilla chips or rice.

Makes at least 12 servings.

Nutritional Information:

129 calories
2.7 grams of fat (1.2 saturated)
.9 grams dietary fiber
3 weight watchers points

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Do-Si-Dos


Who doesn't love girl scout cookie season?! What I don't love though, is how expensive they are these days. Of course we'll continue to buy a few boxes when we can to support the cause, but it's also fun to make your own, and know that you can have them any time of the year. Sadly, we didn't buy any do-si-dos this year so I don't have anything to compare these cookies to, but if my memory serves me right, they are pretty darn close to the real thing. The cookie is very light and crunchy, and the smooth filling really ties the whole thing together. These are very far from being figure-friendly, so I tried to give away as much as I could, but they are a fun treat to hand out.

This recipe is kind of time consuming from start to finish because to be authentic, the cookies must be small and you have to make a lot of cookies in order to get roughly 48 sandwiches. However, because they are so thin, the cookies take very little time to cool so you can start filling as you go.
Morgan wanted a treat too! I really wasn't teasing her, she just came running when she smelled food, but I left her have a little piece just because she's so cute.


Homemade Do-si-dos a.k.a. Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies

Source: Adapted from Baking Bites

Cookies
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
2 tbsp baking soda
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup chunky peanut butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups quick-cooking oats (not instant or regular)

Filling
1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter, room temperature
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/4 - 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, taste as you add

Preheat oven to 350F.


Start with the cookies. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In a large bowl, cream together butter and peanut butter. Beat in the sugars until fluffy, then add in the eggs one at a time, waiting until each is fully incorporated before adding the next. Stir in vanilla extract.

Working at a low speed, mix in the flour, followed by the oats (if you don’t have quick-cooking, pulse whole rolled oats in the food processor to chop them up a bit).

On a parchment-lined baking sheet, drop teaspoonfuls of batter (roughly 3/4-in. sized balls), leaving about 2 inches between each to allow for spread.

Bake for about 10 minutes, until cookies are a light golden brown. Cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes, making small holes in 1/2 of the cookies (for the tops of the sandwiches) before they set up. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Once cookies have cooled, make the filling.

In a large bowl, cream together smooth peanut butter, butter and confectioners’ sugar until very smooth. Pour filling into pastry bag or quart size ziplock bag. Cut corner of bag and squeeze 1 tbsp. of filling into center of cookie and sandwich with the remaining halves. If you chose to make yours with GS-lookalike holes in some of the cookies, use these as the tops of the sandwiches.

Store in an airtight container.
Makes about 48 sandwich cookies.

Note: Use unsalted butter with this recipe, as different brands of peanut butter can vary hugely in salt content and it’s possible you’ll end up with a too-salty cookie with the salted butter, salted peanut butter and added salt. If you must use salted butter and are using brand of peanut butter that seems a bit salty, you can always reduce or eliminate the added salt. Personally, I like the salty sweet combination with peanut butter, but it’s only fair for me to give a little warning just in case!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Pistachio Crusted Tilapia

I like my fish crunchy. However, I like to stay away from the greasy, fried stuff. Sure, a greasy filet-o-fish from McDonalds hits the spot every now and then, and how can you resist them after the catchy tune that comes around every Lenten season?? But I've realized I can get a crunchy fish without the full-out breading/frying aspect....enter pistachios!

This recipe is so stinking simple, and it takes less than 20 minutes from start to finish. I thought this had really good flavor from the dijon, but the pistachio mixture was a bit dry and lacking in spices. Next time I will add some salt and pepper to the coating, as well as one more tablespoon of olive oil to add a bit more moisture. The recipe below reflects my changes.

Pistachio Crusted Tilapia
Source: Adapted from You've Got Supper

INGREDIENTS 

1/2 cup(s) pistachio(s)
1/2 cup bread crumbs
2 tbsp parmesan cheese, grated
3 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
4 tilapia fillet(s)
4 tsp Dijon mustard

DIRECTIONS
1. Chop 1/2 cup pistachios in a small food processor into medium - fine pieces. Place in bowl.  Add 1/2 cup of bread crumbs to bowl of pistachios. Add parmesan cheese and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle in 3 tbsp olive oil and mix with fork.

2. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Line baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray.

3. Brush 1 tsp of dijon on each tilapia fillet. Pat breadcrumb mixture onto each fillet until it is covered with a thick coating. Place on baking sheet.

4. Bake for 12 minutes or until fish flakes with a fork

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Pistachio Chocolate Chip Cookies

I had to buy a bag of shelled pistachios for dinner, and because they were kind of pricey I wanted to find a way to use up the rest. I LOVE pistachios, but had never used them in cooking or baking before, but now I may have to find more ways to use them. I normally despise nuts in my chocolate chip cookies, but pistachios have more of a 'smooth' crunch than the typical crunch of other nuts, so they are a lovely addition that I will totally allow in my cookies in the future.

The original recipe calls for white chocolate, but since I didn't have any on hand I used a mix of bittersweet and semi-sweet chips. I think the white chocolate would be great though, possibly reminiscent of a white chocolate macadamia nut cookie?

Pistachio Chocolate Chip Cookies
Source: Adapted slightly from Simply Recipes

Ingredients
1 cup of unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup of sugar
1 cup of dark brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
2 tablespoons of milk
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups of flour
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of kosher salt (regular salt will suffice)
1 cup of rolled oats
1 1/2 cups of coarsely chopped pistachios, raw and unsalted
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Cream the butter and sugars together on high speed for three minutes.

2. Add the eggs, milk, and vanilla and beat for 3 minutes, being sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure even mixing.

3. In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and rolled oats. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture slowly, being sure to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl once or twice to ensure even mixing.

4. Fold in the pistachios and white chocolate chips. Drop heaping teaspoonfuls onto parchment lined cookie sheets, add an extra pistachio or two on top of each bit of dough for decoration if desired.

5. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to set up on the cookie sheets before moving to a baking rack to cool completely.

Makes 6 dozen.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Toasted Orzo with Peas and Parmesan

Another win for orzo! And this orzo can double as your vegetable if you so wish, which is even better. Peas are not something I would eat plain, but when mixed in with the toasted orzo and parmesan cheese they add a sweet flavor and crunch to every bite.

We served this with Pistachio Crusted Tilapia and it was a great accompaniment. I halved this recipe, and it still made about 4 servings. I left out the nutmeg since I'm not really a fan, and I think next time I may use half an onion instead of the whole thing.

Toasted Orzo with Peas & Parmesan
Source: Joelen's Culinary Adventures, adapted from Cook's Illustrated

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium onion, chopped fine (about 1 cup)
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
1 pound orzo
4 cups low sodium chicken broth
10 oz frozen peas
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
freshly ground black pepper to taste

In 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, melt the butter. It will start to foam around the edges and when foaming subsides, add onion and 3/4-teaspoon salt and cook, stirring frequently, until onion has softened and starts to brown. Add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds.

Add orzo and cook, stirring frequently until the orzo starts to toast and is lightly browned and golden, 5 to 6 minutes.

Turn off the heat and add the chicken broth. Turn on the flame to a medium-high heat and bring to boil; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until all liquid has been absorbed and orzo is tender, 10 to 15 minutes.

With rubber spatula, stir in peas, Parmesan, nutmeg, and pepper to taste. Let stand off heat until peas are heated through, about 2 minutes; adjust seasoning with salt and serve.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Lemon-Herb Butter Roasted Chicken

For a long time I have been intimidated by whole chickens. There is always a fear that I will not know how long to cook it and it will come out dry and tough, or certain parts will cook faster than others, resulting in a baking catastrophe. I finally decided to just go for it, and each time my chicken has come out great.

I knew I had to try this recipe the moment I read it, and I was not disappointed. This resulted in a very tender, moist and flavorful bird that I can't wait to make again. This would also be a great meal to impress your dinner guests with:)
Lemon-Herb Butter Roasted Chicken
Source: The Southern Gourmand
1 4lb whole chicken
2 garlic cloves, smashed
4 garlic cloves, whole
2 sprigs fresh thyme
4 sprigs fresh rosemary
Half stick of unsalted butter at room temperature
Juice of 1 lemon
1/4 tsp lemon zest
1 whole lemon, halved
Sea salt and black pepper

Directions
Preheat oven to 350. Place chicken in a roasting dish with the breasts facing up. Remove gizzards. Make a small incision under the skin at the neck and burrow with the knife to create room under the skin.

In a food processor or blender, combine butter, lemon juice, lemon zest, thyme, 2 rosemary sprigs and smashed garlic. Pulse until well blended.

Season chicken with salt and pepper both inside and out. Rub butter mixture over skin and inside the cavity and the burrow created earlier by the knife.

Place whole lemon, 2 rosemary sprigs and 4 whole garlic cloves in cavity. Cook chicken 15 minutes for each pound plus 15 minutes (ex: 4 lb chicken will cook for an hour and 15 minutes). Chicken is thoroughly cooked when juices run clear when pricked with fork.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Herb-Rubbed Grilled Chicken with Creamy Orzo

I'm sorry for the lack of picture here, but it was dark by the time we ate and none of my pictures came out well enough to post, but you can check out Annie's picture to see the deliciousness.This is such an easy weeknight meal, and what makes it even better is it's delicious, and only takes two pans so clean up is easy! This meal can come together in less than 30 minutes, and it is a complete meal in one. This will become one of my go-to meals when I'm short for time or lacking dinner inspiration.

Herb-Rubbed Grilled Chicken with Creamy Orzo
Source: Annie's Eats, adapted from Smells Like Home

Ingredients:
8 oz. orzo pasta, uncooked
2 chicken breasts, butterflied into halves (4 pieces total)
Salt and pepper
2 tsp. Herbes de Provence
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes, with juices
2 cups broccoli florets
½ cup heavy cream
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:
Bring a saucepan of salted water to boil. Add the orzo and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, about 10 minutes. Drain the pasta, reserving ½ cup of the pasta water.

Season both sides of the chicken breast halves with salt and pepper. Sprinkle evenly with the Herbes de Provence. Heat the olive oil in a 12- or 14-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken breast halves to the pan and cook about 3 minutes per side, until golden brown. Reduce the heat to medium, add the shallot to the pan and sauté 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté an additional minute, until fragrant. Add the diced tomatoes with juices and the broccoli florets to the pan, scraping the bottom of the pan to remove any browned bits. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to simmer over medium-low. Cover and let cook until the broccoli florets are crisp-tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in the cooked orzo, heavy cream and Parmesan cheese. Mix until well blended and the cheese has melted. If necessary, add some of the reserved pasta water to smooth out the sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Pizza Bites


Judging by the picture above, can you tell these pizza bites were a hit? I forgot to take a picture before people dug in, but you get the picture. A little ball of dough, pepperoni and mozzarella cheese-what's not to love?! This dish is actually easier to prepare than it looks, especially when using already prepared dough. I would like to try my hand at making my own pizza dough, but for now I'm okay with sticking with the convenience of having it done for me.

I recently discovered Trader Joe's fresh pizza dough, which is what I used to make these. I used whole wheat, but they also have white and (I've heard) some kind of herb dough. And better yet, the dough was only about 99 cents!

Next time I make these I will definitely use more pepperoni (only used one slice per dough ball), and maybe a bigger cube of cheese. I was kind of hesitant about how much filling could fit in each dough ball, and as it turns out they fit more than I expected. The hubby enjoyed these, but he thought they had too much dough and not enough filling. These could also be made with a variety of toppings, so experiment with your favorites and if you come up with a good one let me know:)

Pizza Bites
Source: Annie's Eats, inspired by Chaos in the Kitchen

Ingredients:
Homemade, frozen or refridgerated pizza dough (enough for one pizza)
4 oz. mozzarella cheese, cubed (about 20-24 pieces)
Sliced pepperoni

For topping:
Olive oil
Italian seasoning
Grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 400˚ F. Lightly grease a 9-inch pie plate or cake pan. Divide the pizza dough into 20-24 roughly equal sized pieces. Take one of the dough pieces, top with a cube of cheese and a slice or two of pepperoni. Pull the edges of the dough around the fillings and pinch closed. Place seam-side down in the baking dish. Repeat with the remaining dough pieces.

Lightly brush the tops of the dough balls with olive oil. Sprinkle with Italian seasoning and grated Parmesan cheese. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown. Serve warm, with dipping sauce as desired.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Chicken Enchilada Roll-Ups

Will someone have a party please so I have an excuse to make these again? Or just invite me over and I'll bring you a snack? Normally I'm not a fan of the traditional roll-ups that people make, but these, oh these roll-ups are FANTASTIC! The original recipe was for a dip, with the roll-ups as an alternative way to serve it, and I think the dip would be great as well.

I used jalepeno-cilantro wraps I found in the grocery store, and the green color really complimented the filling. The hubby said these tasted more like salsa than enchiladas, which I could kind of agree with, but I could also really see the filling being used in traditional enchiladas. Either way, this recipe is a winner in my book.

Chicken Enchilada Roll-Ups
Source: Annie's Eats, adapted from Sing for Your Supper, originally from Come On Over Cookbook from Gooseberry Patch

Ingredients:
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened
2/3 cup shredded cheese (cheddar, Mexican blend, pepper jack, etc.)
1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
2 tsp. chili powder
½ tsp. cumin
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
Salt, to taste
Handful of cilantro, chopped
3 green onions, chopped
10 oz. can diced tomatoes with green chiles, drained well
4-6 8-inch tortillas

Directions:
Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Cook in a skillet over medium-high heat until lightly browned and cooked through. Transfer to a plate and let cool. (I baked the chicken rather than using a skillet)

In the meantime, combine all of the remaining ingredients except tortillas in a large mixing bowl. Mix until well blended. Once the chicken is cool, transfer to a cutting board and chop or shred into small pieces. Add the chicken to the filling mixture and stir well to incorporate.

Spread a thin layer of the filling mixture over a tortilla, leaving a small border clear around the edge. Roll the tortilla up tightly into a spiral. Place the rolled up tortilla on a cutting board and use a sharp knife to cut into 1- to 1½-inch thick segments. Transfer to a serving platter and serve chilled or at room temperature.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Red Velvet Cheesecake

Ah Valentine's Day. It's fair to say this is a holiday that is not really that important to either of us. However, it is one of the few days out of the year where the man is okay with going out for a nice dinner, so I jump all over that opportunity! To save some money and have an excuse to bake, this year I wanted to make a fancy dessert to enjoy at home, and nothing seemed more festive than red velvet.

Cheesecake has always intimidated me, but it turns out it is fairly simple. It is a bit time consuming, with the baking, cooling, chilling etc but I am proud to say that this turned out really well for me. This cheesecake is very rich, and a little piece goes a long way. Because there are so many other cheesecake flavors I want to try now, I'm not sure if I will make this again, but it's worth it at least once!

Red Velvet Cheesecake
Source: Annie's Eats, adapted from Culinary Concoctions by Peabody

Ingredients:
For the crust:
1 1/2 cups Oreo cookie crumbs
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 tbsp. sugar

For the cheesecake:
3 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. distilled white vinegar
2 (1 oz.) bottles red food coloring

For the topping:
4 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
2 tbsp. butter, at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions:
Line the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with a round of parchment paper. To make the crust, combine the Oreo crumbs, melted butter and sugar in a small bowl. Mix together with a fork until all the crumbs are moistened. Press the mixture onto the bottom of the prepared pan.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. To make the filling, beat together the cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer at medium-low speed for 1 minute. Add eggs, unsweetened cocoa powder, sour cream, buttermilk, vanilla extract, vinegar and food coloring. Mix on low speed just until fully combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake at 325 degrees F for 10 minutes, reduce the heat to 300 degrees F, and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until the center is firm. Turn off the oven, prop the door open slightly, and let the cheesecake stand 30 minutes. Remove the cheesecake from the oven; cool in the pan on a wire rack for 3o minutes. Run a thin knife around the outside edge of the cake to separate from the pan. Cover and chill for at least 8 hours.

To make the topping, in the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter on medium speed until smooth; gradually add powdered sugar and vanilla, beating until smooth. Remove the cheesecake from the refrigerator and spread the topping evenly over the cheesecake. Remove sides of springform. Garnish if desired.

Monday, February 15, 2010

S'more Cupcakes

If you are on a diet, watching your weight or a chocolate hater, please leave this entry. If you are still reading, then you must promise to make these at some point. These cupcakes are heavenly, or in the words of my mother-in-law, "to die for." Seriously though, these cupcakes are amazing. The combination of graham cracker batter with the chocolate batter, and the gooey marshallow melted inside is so good. These are very rich, and actually almost forced me to drink a glass of milk (which I would never actually do, but it means something for me to even think about drinking milk!) Sadly, the hubby and I only got one each as I gave the rest to my coworkers and in-laws. So far, this was one of the best received treats I have brought to work, with exception of the Tiramisu Bundt Cake, which I never blogged about so I should probably make it again!

These cupcakes are actually pretty simple to put together, although they may take a little extra time than normal because there are a couple steps involved. These would also be really fun to make with kids, as they could take care of the marshmallow and crumb topping parts. So Abby, if you are reading and have all these ingredients in Dubai, I would love to make these with my little man when we come visit:)

S'more Cupcakes
Source: Bakerella
Makes 14-16 cupcakes

Cupcakes

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup cocoa
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 cup milk
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup oil
6 jumbo marshmallows cut in half, plus more for decorating

Graham Cracker Crumb topping
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup butter, melted

Ganache
4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder and baking soda together with a wire whisk.
Separate the mixture in half into two bowls.

Stir cocoa into one bowl and the graham cracker crumbs into the other.

Add 1/2 cup milk, 1 egg, 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1/4 cup oil to the cocoa mixture and beat on medium until combined.

Repeat adding the same ingredients to the graham cracker crumb flour mixture.

Prepare the graham cracker crumb topping.
Add the brown sugar and crumbs in a small bowl and pour on the melted butter. Stir until combined.

Pour a little graham cracker cake batter into the bottom of your baking cups and then sprinkle the topping mixture lightly on the surface. Place a marshmallow half on top and then cover the marshmallow with the chocolate cake batter until it is about 3/4 full. Sprinkle with more topping mixture.

Bake cupcakes for about 15 minutes. Place a cookie sheet underneath when you bake just in case. I had a little bit ooze over into the oven. Oops.

This recipe will make at least 12 cupcakes. I had a some batter from each left over so you can probably get more like 14-16.

Let cool and top with ganache.
Heat the butter and cream on the stove. Heat until just before it boils. Remove and pour over chocolate. Stir until completely melted and smooth. Pour over cupcakes and add more marshmallows if you desire.

Enjoy!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Slow Cooker Pulled Chicken

(sorry, no picture of the finished product this time, just the ingredients)

Where should I begin with this dish? How simple it is to throw together? How it has a sweet taste with a fiery kick? How there are multiple uses for leftovers? Or how delicious it is?

This pulled chicken really has it all. I've never been a fan of pulled pork or anything with barbeque sauce, but this chicken is a winner. The chipotle chilies give it a smokey flavor, while everything else meshes together wonderfully without tasting too much like barbeque.

This makes a lot of food, and you can get creative with the leftovers. Mix up some chicken with black beans and cheese and you have an awesome quesadilla; heat up and serve over rice; whip up a small batch of enchiladas; and obviously, serve on a bun.

Slow Cooker Pulled Chicken
Source: Apple a Day, adapted from http://www.eatingwell.com/

Ingredients:
1 (14 oz.) can tomato sauce
2-3 chipotle chiles in adobo, finely minced
1/4 c. cider vinegar
3 TBSP honey
1 TBSP plus 2 tsp. sweet or smoked paprika
2 TBSP tomato paste
2 TBSP Worcestershire sauce
3 tsp. dry mustard
1 TBSP chili powder
1 tsp. salt
3 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs and breasts, trimmed of fat (I used 1 1/2 lbs. of each)
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced

Directions:

1. Stir tomato sauce, chiles, vinegar, honey, paprika, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, chili powder and salt in a 6-quart slow cooker until smooth. Add chicken, onion and garlic; stir to combine.

2. Put the lid on and cook on low until the chicken can be pulled apart, about 5-6 hours.

3. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and shred with a fork. Return the chicken to the sauce, stir well and serve. Serves 8-10.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Cinnamon Sugar Biscotti

Sometimes there's nothing better than a hot cup of coffee in the morning. Add in one of these crunchy biscotti and you have the perfect breakfast. I've never made biscotti before, but it was surprisingly simple, and tasted as good as I imagined.

Cinnamon Sugar Biscotti
Source: Joy the Baker
makes about 24 cookies

2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
6 Tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla

For Topping:
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 beaten egg (for brushing biscotti before baking)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F and arrange two baking racks in the upper portion of the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

Also whisk together the cinnamon and sugar for the topping and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, fit with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Scrape down the down and beat in the egg followed by the egg yolk. Beat in the vanilla extract.

Add the dry ingredients to the creamed butter all at once. With the mixer or just with a spatula, bring all of the ingredients together until a somewhat stiff dough is formed.

Divide the dough in two on the two baking sheets. Shape each half of dough into a 9-inch long and 1 1/2-inch wide log. Brush with the beaten egg and sprinkle very generously with cinnamon sugar. Bake the two sheets on two different racks in the oven for 20 minutes. Rotate the cookie sheets for even baking and bake for 20-25 more minutes until golden and firm to the touch.

Remove from the oven but keep the oven on. Let biscotti cool until able to handle. Using a serrated knife, cut logs into 1/2-inch wide diagonal slices. Place biscotti cut side down on baking sheet and sprinkle with more cinnamon sugar. Bake again until pale golden, about 10-15 minutes.

Store in an airtight container for up to one week.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Hoisin Chicken Stir-fry

Stir-fry holds a fond place in my heart. My mom makes awesome stir-fry. Of course, growing up I wouldn't eat any of the 'gross stuff' she put in it. She would also make it with chicken and beef, but being that beef used to be a choking hazard for me, I would stand at the stove and pick out only chicken, making sure to keep all the icky stuff off my plate.

But I am a grown up now, which means cooking with and eating vegetables, which is a good thing because vegetables are the bulk of what makes up stir-fry. This recipe is so easy, and has great flavor. However, I'm still craving my mom's, so next time around I'll be making her's!

Hoisin Chicken Stir-Fry
Source: Adapted from Cooking Light
(I heavily adapted this recipe for ease and what I had on hand)

Ingredients

white or brown rice
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce, divided
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed and thinly sliced
3/4 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon honey
4 teaspoons dark sesame oil, divided
1 bag frozen stir-fry vegetables
1 tsp ground ginger
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup chopped green onions


Preparation

Prepare rice as directed on package.

Combine 1 tablespoon soy sauce and chicken, tossing to coat. Set aside.
Combine remaining 1 tablespoon soy sauce, broth, hoisin, cornstarch, and honey in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk until smooth.

Heat 1 tablespoon sesame oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken mixture to pan; sauté 3 minutes or until browned. Remove chicken from pan. Add remaining 1 teaspoon sesame oil to pan. Stir in vegetables, ginger, and garlic; sauté 30 seconds. Return chicken mixture to pan; stir in broth mixture. Simmer 2 minutes or until thick, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, and stir in green onions. Serve chicken mixture over the rice.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Healthy and Hearty Chicken and Quinoa Stew

Last week I got pretty sick and all I wanted was some good chicken noodle soup. I got sent home from my internship on Tuesday and I stopped at Rainbow on my way to pick up some soup....I was less than impressed. I waited all week to have some time and energy to make this, and it was well worth the wait.

A slight twist on traditional chicken soup, but the combination of flavors from the veggies, dijon and hot sauce are pretty delicious. And if you've never heard of or tasted quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah), this is an awesome use for it. It was actually my first time having it, but it is a great source of protein, essential amino acids and fiber. It can usually be found in the organic section by the rice/couscous/pasta, but I bought mine from the bulk section at Whole Foods.

This stew takes a bit of time to prep as there is a lot of chopping involved, but once everything is prepped the work is basically done. This makes a ton of soup, so we had leftovers and were able to freeze a bunch in case one of us gets sick again!

Healthy and Hearty Chicken Quinoa Stew
Source: Picky Palate


2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
5 stalks celery, chopped
4 large carrots, peeled and sliced
2 Cups sweet pepper, chopped
1 large zucchini, quartered and sliced (I omitted, and just used a little extra celery and carrot)
64 oz chicken broth
15 oz can diced tomatoes
5 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed and cubed into 1 inch pieces
3 Cups cooked quinoa
4 medium boneless skinless chicken breasts, cooked, shredded and lightly seasoned with salt and pepper
2 Tablespoons Dijon Mustard
1 Tablespoon Hot Sauce
Kosher Salt, fresh cracked black pepper and Lawry’s Garlic Salt with Parsley to taste
1 1/2 Cups fresh parsley, chopped

1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Saute onion, celery, carrots, peppers and zucchini until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in chicken broth and tomatoes and potatoes. Increase heat to high just until broth starts to boil. Reduce to medium high and cook potatoes for 10 minutes or until fork tender. Reduce heat to low and stir in quinoa, chicken, dijon mustard, hot sauce and season to taste w/ salt, pepper and Lawry’s. Stir in fresh parsley and simmer until ready to serve.

8-10 servings

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Italian Sausage Calzones


A few months ago while strolling through the freezer section of the grocery store, a package of frozen bread dough popped into view and I just had to buy it. Now, weeks later, I got sick of seeing them in my freezer so I decided that attempting calzones would be a great chance to use up one of the loaves. These turned out incredibly well and were actually really easy. I can't wait to make them again and experiment with different ingredients.

Italian Sausage Calzones
Source: Kitchen Escapes original

Ingredients:
1 lb. frozen bread dough, thawed according to package (I used Rhodes)
1 cup pizza sauce, plus more for dipping if you choose
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1/2-3/4 cup mozzarella cheese
1/2 lb italian sausage
10-15 pepperoni slices, cut in half
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tbls olive oil
Italian Seasoning, to taste

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees; lightly grease a baking sheet

Heat olive oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Add italian sausage and cook until browned. Add 1 cup pizza sauce and pepperoni, heat through.

Meanwhile, combine ricotta, parmesan, mozzarella, a few dashes of italian seasoning, and half of beaten egg. Mix well and set aside.

Divide dough into 4 equal portions. Roll one piece into a roughly 8" circle. Add 1/4 sauce mixture and 1/4 cheese mixture over one half of circle, spread to within 3/4" of edge. Fold dough over so it completely covers filling, and edges line up. Crimp edges tightly with a fork, transfer to prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining 3 pieces of dough.

Combine remaining half of egg with a splash of water; brush top of each calzone with egg wash. Sprinkle more italian seasoning on top.

Bake for 20 minutes, until golden brown. Serve with extra sauce if you wish.

Enjoy.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Cauliflower Pie with Grated Potato Crust

Cauliflower pie...sounds intriguing doesn't it? This little side dish is really unlike anything I have had before. However, I realized once I started eating it that a couple things were off. First, I did not let the potatoes bake long enough, so I was expecting a nice crunchy bottom, but instead it was a bit mushy. Second, I think I would prefer this if the cauliflower was baked at a higher temperature, to make it have more of a 'roasted' flavor and texture, and less crunch. This could also be remedied by making sure all the cauliflower florets are very small. Last, I would add more cheese, because everything is better a bit cheesier:)

Cauliflower Pie with Grated Potato Crust
Source: Branny Boils Over, adapted from The Moosewood Cookbook

For the potato crust
2 cups packed grated raw potatoes (red potatoes)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg white, beaten
1/4 cup grated onion

For the Filling
1/2 cup packed grated strong cheddar cheese, divided
1/4 cup parmesean cheese (or more cheddar)
1 medium cauliflower, broken into small florets
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 cup chopped onion
1 dash thyme
1/2 teaspoon basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup milk
black pepper
paprika

Combine grated potato with salt, onion, and beaten egg. Press into a 9″ pan (I used a 10″ springform) that has been brushed with oil. Bake in a preheated 400* oven for 30-40 minutes until it browns. Remove from oven and lower temperature to 350*.

Sprinkle 1/4 cup of cheddar cheese over pie crust.

Meanwhile, saute chopped onion in a nonstick pan with thyme, basil, and salt. Add garlic and cook lightly. Add pepper to taste. Break cauliflower up into small florets (I encourage you to just pulse in a food processor until chunky). Combine onion mixture with cauliflower and remaining cheddar cheese. Pour into prepared pie crust. Beat together milk with egg and pour over vegetable mixture. Sprinkle parmesan cheese on top. Filling will appear dry.

Bake for 40 minutes until tender and delicious. Let set 5-10 minutes before unmolding (if using a springform pan).

5 servings

Calories 228.8
Total Fat 4.9 g
Saturated Fat 2.6 g
Protein 12.0 g

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Garlic Rice Pilaf

(photo source: Stephanie Cooks)

We were so hungry that I forgot to take a picture! This is a really light, quick side dish that would pair great with most proteins. The garlic and onion taste was very subtle, so maybe next time I'll actually measure out roughly 1/8 tsp. of each. I love that this uses a mix of rice and orzo, because rice can tend to get really boring, and orzo is awesome. I think this will be a great addition to our side dish repetoire.

Garlic Rice Pilaf
Source: Stephanie Cooks
Serves 2-3

Ingredients:
1/4 cup white rice (not instant)
1/4 cup orzo
1-1.5 cups of chicken broth
Garlic powder to taste
Onion powder to taste
Cooking spray

Directions:
Spray a small saucepan with cooking spray. Add the orzo and rice.

Allow the rice mixture to lightly brown. Pour in the chicken broth and seasonings. Turn the heat down low, cover the sauce pan. Allow it to cook until the liquid absorbs (about 20 minutes), stirring occasionally.

** 2 Weight Watchers points per 1/2 cup serving.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Buffalo Chicken Meatloaf

Our first meatloaf as husband and wife and we can't go the traditional route! This is one of a few recipe that I have actually seen Andy get excited about. Even before we baked it we had this conversation:
A: Oh man, a meal I can make by myself when you're not home.
S: You don't even know that it will be good yet....
A: I can tell.

Turns out, I wasn't a fan. Actually, I had one bite and wouldn't eat anymore. I don't know why I thought I would like it in the first place, I do not like buffalo sauce. I think Andy was a bit disappointed as well, but that was probably more due to the Vikings loss:(. After bringing leftovers for lunch, he now rates it a 4/5 and will think about making it for himself if needed sometime. If you love buffalo sauce then go ahead and give this a try!

Buffalo Chicken Meatloaf
Source: Erin's Food Files, Adapted from: Biggest Loser Cookbook as seen on Lobster & Fishsticks

Olive oil spray

2/3 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 cup fat free milk
1/3 cup hot sauce, plus more to sprinkle on top
1 lb extra-lean ground chicken breast
1/4 cup finely chopped celery
1/4 cup shredded carrot (I didn't have any on hand, so I just increased the celery & onion to 1/4 cup)
1/4 cup finely chopped sweet onion
2 large egg whites, lightly beaten
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup crumbled reduced fat blue cheese

Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly mist a 9” x 5” x 3” nonstick loaf pan with olive oil spray.

Combine oats and milk in a medium size mixing bowl. Mix well. Let stand for 3 minutes or until oats are softened. Stir in hot sauce until well mixed. Add chicken, celery, carrots, onion, egg whites, and salt. With fork, mix ingredients well. Add blue cheese and gently mix.

Transfer mixture to pan and spread so that top is flat. Sprinkle on a couple shakes of hot sauce and spread evenly. Bake 35 to 40 mins or until chicken is no longer pink. Cut into 8 slices. Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition Facts: 263 calories per serving, 35g protein, 14g carbohydrates, 6g fat (2g saturated fat), 74mg sodium (Note: 2 slices = 1 serving.)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Honey Roasted Peanuts


(picture from The Novice Chef)

I love having quick things to snack on when I get home from work, before bed, pretty much anytime I walk through the kitchen. Honey roasted peanuts have always been a favorite, and after seeing The Novice Chef's post I was hooked. It's nice to know that with less, all identifiable ingredients, you can get honey roasted peanuts that taste better than the stuff from a can.

I've made these twice already, and each time I got impatient or something because my peanuts don't look the picture above. They taste awesome, but they are more like little peanut clumps than individual ones. I don't think I let them cook in the saucepan long enough, but these are just.so.hard.to.resist. Seriously, make them now.

Honey Roasted Peanuts
Source: The Novice Chef, adapted from Natalie's Killer Cuisine orginally from cooks.com

You will need:

2 cups raw peanuts
2 tbs honey
2 tbs water
2 tbs canola oil (you can also substitute Peanut Oil)
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place the peanuts on a baking sheet and in a preheated oven for 10 minutes. (If the peanuts are already roasted, skip this step) Set the peanuts aside and let cool. In a medium sized sauce pan add the honey, water and oil. Bring to a boil and add the peanuts. Stir around for a few minutes, until all of the liquid has been absorbed by the nuts. Transfer into a medium bowl and toss with the sugar and salt. Spread back on the baking sheet with wax paper, let cool. Enjoy!