Thursday, December 1, 2011

Thai-Style Halibut with Coconut-Curry Broth

Here's another Ellie Krieger. Obviously I like her recipes :) This is kind of a "go to" recipe for me if I want to make something the hubs with like. The curry is spicy, the coconut milk is creamy, and the cilantro is nice and fresh.
I have actually never made it with halibut because I tend to buy tilapia, which is a little less expensive. But seeing as it's tasty with the tilapia I imagine it's just as good with halibut. Also, you can easily substitute chicken (which I've done and it's delicious), you just have to increase the cooking time accordingly.
Thank goodness FN takes picture of their food, or I'd never post on this blog...


2 teaspoons vegetable oil
4 shallots, finely chopped (about 3/4 cup)
2 1/2 teaspoons red curry paste*, or 2 teaspoons curry powder (I've never used curry powder because I don't like it would be nearly as spicy or tasty if you do...just sayin') 
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup light coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus 1/4 teaspoon, plus more for seasoning
4 (6-ounce) pieces halibut fillet, skin removed
Steamed spinach**
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
2 scallions, green part only, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Freshly ground black pepper
2 cups cooked brown rice, for serving (I always use jasmine rice because it's super delicious with the Asian flavors going on. If you want to be extra healthy go for the brown rice)

*Available in the Asian section of most supermarkets- DEFINITELY use good curry paste. It makes a big difference.
**Steam or microwave 5 cups of washed baby spinach for 2 minutes.

Full Recipe

Serves 4

If you like Asian/spicy food I really think you should try this. It definitely has some heat (at least with the curry paste I use) but the coconut milk kind of balances that. You get a lot of flavor and a really healthy meal. What more can you ask for? :)

I always serve it in a bowl. In first is the rice, which is then topped with the steamed spinach, next is the meat of choice, and then I pour the broth over everything and finish it off with cilantro and scallions (green onions). You can put each component on the table and let everyone serve themselves, but I think it looks pretty already plated.

Pasta Primavera

This recipe is super healthy (it's loaded with veggies), super tasty, and super quick to make. The longest part is cutting up all the vegetables. So, if you're looking for a new pasta recipe to try give this one a go. It's another one from Ellie Krieger. I like her quite a bit.

Another picture that isn't mine. Thanks FN :)


1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cloves minced garlic
1 red bell pepper, cleaned, seeded and cut into strips (6 ounces)
1/2 pound thin asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 cup sliced button mushrooms (4 ounces)
1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, sliced in 1/2 (6 ounces)
1 cup low-sodium chicken stock
1/2 cup 1 percent milk
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, dissolved in 3 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 large carrot (6 ounces) peeled and sliced into strips with a peeler (about 2 cups carrot ribbons)
3/4 pound whole-wheat linguine
1/2 cup (1 1/2 ounces) grated Parmesan
2 tablespoons chopped parsley leaves
1/4 cup shredded basil leaves

Serves 4 (generously)

If you have never tried whole wheat pasta before I highly recommend it. The texture is a bit different, and may take some getting used to, but I love it. I rarely eat regular pasta now. Also, if you don't like veggies this is a good way to eat them. You get a huge variety in all at once and they're cooked down so they're nice and soft. There's nothing fancy about this dish, it's just that all the flavors come together so nicely. I definitely think the Parmesan and fresh herbs make a huge difference so I recommend using them.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Gnocchi with Squash and Kale

I guess I have been in the mood for meatless dinners lately, or it's just that the recipes I actually get around to posting are vegetarian. Anyway, this recipe is from Food Network Magazine and it's SO YUMMY! Previous to making this I had never cooked with kale before so I was a little nervous. I didn't know what kale tastes like and I was worried it'd be bitter, but now I'm a convert. Even though there aren't a lot of spices in the dish everything works so well together. It's full of cheesy, nutty, garlicky goodness. And the magazine boasts that it's a low cal meal. Score!

This picture is from I didn't take one of my own but it really does turn out looking like this.

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon roughly chopped fresh sage (I used dried because I didn't have fresh)
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (honestly, I wouldn't use much more than this. It adds flavor but with minimal heat, which is perfect. Add too much and I think it'd take away from the other flavors.)
Kosher salt
1 1/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth or water (use broth for more flavor!)
1 bunch kale, stemmed and roughly chopped (about 8 cups)
1 17.5-ounce package potato gnocchi (I used homemade gnocchi and took it straight from the freezer to the pan)
3/4 cup grated Parmesann or Pecorino Romano cheese

Serves 4 (this is pretty accurate)

I followed the recipe exactly. Except that I accidentally added an extra tablespoon of butter in. I started with 2 tablespoons to cook the squash and then I put another tablespoon in at the end like it says to. Whoops. No harm done though :)

It can be difficult to cut and peel a fresh butternut squash so make sure to use a sharp knife and don't be afraid to use a vegetable peeler to get the rind off.  Also, don't overcook the squash in the first step because it'll continue to cook as the gnocchi cooks in later steps. Just make sure it's fork-tender.

Also, I made my own gnocchi. Partly because I couldn't find it in the store and because I've made it before and knew I could do it. It really isn't difficult. It's just time consuming so you have to plan ahead. If you don't have a recipe for gnocchi here's the one I used (from FN Mag...I tried to find it from the original recipe I made that called for gnocchi but it doesn't have a link. I guess they only give you the recipe in the magazine):

4 large potatoes, fork-pricked
1 large egg, beaten
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
Fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

1. Bake the potatoes at 425 degrees until tender, about 1 hour. Cool slightly, then halve and scoop the flesh into a ricer or food mill; press into a bowl (you can also mash well with a fork).

2. Add the egg, cheese, butter, 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste; stir with a fork until combined. Add the flour and stir to make a rough dough, then mix by hand until smooth. Add more flour if it's sticky.

3. Gather the dough into a ball on a floured surface and divide into 8 pieces. Roll each piece into a 12-inch long, 1/2-inch thick log with your hands.

4. Cut the logs into 1-inch pieces. Freeze on floured baking sheets until ready to cook (once frozen, store up to 1 month in a sealed container).

The squash and kale recipe has you cook your gnocchi with all the other ingredients, but if you were to cook them separately you:

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.
2. Add the gnocchi, stir and cook for 1 minute after they float, about 3 minutes total.
3. Transfer with a slotted spoon to the pot with your sauce.

I seriously think you should try this. It's a perfect Fall dinner and it really only takes about 35 minutes, like the recipes claims. At least if you've made your gnocchi ahead of time. I think this recipe is a winner and I hope you do too!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Caprese Grilled Cheese w/Baked Zucchini Sticks

OK. So I totally made up the name for the sandwich. I got the "recipe" from Pinterest (oh, how I love thee!). The link takes you to, but not directly to the recipe, just to "most favorited all-time - page 3". I can't even find the same photo on that page that I pinned to my food board, but thankfully the original pin had all the ingredients. I call it the caprese grilled cheese because it has fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil pesto on the inside. Yum.

Ingredients, Caprese grilled cheese:
Fresh mozzarella
Sliced tomatoes
Basil pesto- I used store bought stuff b/c I didn't feel like making my own.
Bread- I went with sourdough here. There was no suggestion for bread and that's what sounded good to me in the store.

Directions (does anyone really need directions for making grilled cheese??):
Spread the pesto on one or both sides of the bread, layer with tomatoes and mozzarella, and cook in a pan, turning once. It's as simple as it gets. I waned to share this recipe because I'd never thought of doing this to grilled cheese. And it was delicious.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Fettuccine with Creamy Red Pepper Sauce

This recipe is from The Food You Crave by Ellie Krieger. If you don't like red bell peppers then I don't recommend you make this. But if you do, you should definitely try it. The roasted red peppers add a nice smokey flavor and the feta adds a little zing along with some creaminess. Plus, it's fast AND super healthy! What more could you ask for?
I paired the pasta with fruit salad and some garlic/Parmesan bread
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
2 large cloves garlic, coarsely chopped (about 2 teaspoons)
One 16-ounce jar roasted red peppers, drained, rinsed, and chopped
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup crumbled feta cheese (6 ounces)
One 16-ounce box whole-wheat fettuccine
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Heat the oil in a medium heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring a few times, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the roasted red peppers and cook, stirring a few times, until heated through. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.
Transfer the red pepper mixture to a food processor, add the broth and all but 2 tablespoons of the feta. Process until combined and smooth, about 30 seconds.
Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Toss the pasta with the sauce, adding the pasta water by the tablespoon if needed. The sauce should cling nicely to the pasta. Season with slat and pepper. Divide among 6 pasta bowls. Sprinkle with the parsley and reserved feta and serve.

Serves: 6
Cook time: about 15 minutes

This also makes great leftovers. I actually think I liked it a wee bit better the second time around. Maybe I was just in the mood for it. Make sure you use fresh parsley because it adds a wonderful fresh taste. Also, my 14 month-old girl even liked it. If a baby will eat it it must be good, right? :)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

I Made a Cake

Over the last year and a half I have experimented with cake decorating. If you're interested in that sort of thing check out my blog to see pictures and a lengthy explanation of how I made the pink/white cake below. It's probably more confusing than I intend it to be but I hope it makes a little sense. I have never taken a class before (thanks Cake Boss for all your great tips!), which might be why I can't explain things all that well. Happy baking!  

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

French Dip Sandwiches with Oven-Roasted Broccoli

Here is a few more easy and delicious recipes from Our Best Bites.

1(2 1/2-3 pounds) beef roast
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper
2 (1-ounce) packages dry onion soup mix
2 cups water
2 (14.5 ounce) cans beef broth
Crusty buns or rolls -In the cookbook it suggests using their hoagie recipe, which I did and they were wonderful. Here is the recipe.
Swiss, provolone, or mozzarella cheese, shredded or sliced.

Serves approximately 12-14

Full Recipe

For the oven-roasted broccoli:
4-5 cups broccoli
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1-2 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat oven to 425 F.
2. Place broccoli on a foil-lined baking sheet. Drizzle the broccoli with olive oil and then toss to combine and coat each piece. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place the baking sheet in oven and bake for 15-20 minutes or until stems are golden brown and slightly crisp looking. Remove broccoli from oven and immediately sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Toss and serve.

Serves 6-8


Thursday, June 2, 2011

Mexican-Style Sweet Shredded Pork

Many people in Utah love a restaurant called Cafe Rio. I would say one of their most popular dishes is their pork salad with cilantro-ranch dressing. I'm sure some of you know people with knock-off recipes...well, this is one of those (another good one from Our Best Bites- can you tell I've been using this cookbook a ton lately??). It doesn't taste exactly like Cafe Rio's pork salad but it's pretty close. So if you're far from Utah but are craving their pork salad, this is a good alternative. Or you could just make tacos or enchiladas with it.
The entire spread. I even bought those tin foil cake pans to serve it in. It was like we were really there! Ha.

4 pounds boneless pork shoulder roast
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 (10-ounce) cans enchilada sauce -they don't specify red or green but I assumed they meant red, based on the picture in the cookbook...and the dish they are re-creating.
1 cup brown sugar, divided
1/2 cup salsa
1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup apple juice

1. Trim the visible fat from the roast and sprinkle with salt, pepper, chili powder, and onion powder. use your hands to massage the spices over all the sides of the meat.
2. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Sear the pork roast for about 1 minute on all sides or until the meat surface is golden brown.
3. While the meat is searing, combine the enchilada sauce, 2/3 cup brown sugar, salsa, Worcestershire sauce, and apple juice in a slow-cooker. Add the pork, cover, and cook on low for 7 hours with the lid on the entire time.
4. Remove pork and shred, discarding any pieces of fat. Add the additional 1/3 cup brown sugar to slow cooker and turn heat to high. Add shredded meat. Simmer with lid off for 30 minutes.

Serves about 12

If you've never been to Cafe Rio or Costa Vida, the idea here is to have a flour tortilla on the bottom of your serving dish (I bought the kind you cook on your stove, but they actually have a flour tortilla recipe if you're feeling up to it -it's really good, I made them to use up the leftover pork!). Then you chop up some romaine lettuce to put on top of the tortilla. Add whatever things you want, like corn, black beans, rice, avocado, tortilla strips, etc. Top with some of the Sweet Shredded Pork and drizzle over some Creamy Cilantro-Lime Ranch Dressing (which is actually really easy to make).

This might be a complicated dinner if the Sweet Pork wasn't so easy to make. The hardest part is prepping all the stuff you want to go on top of your salad! I hope you enjoy!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Stuffed Apple-Cinnamon Rolls

These are also from Our Best Bites (I've been spending a lot of time trying recipes from that cookbook because they all look so good!) They weren't as sweet as I was expecting them to be and at first I was a tinsy bit disappointed. But then I decided I actually like them better that way. Especially after they cooled completely. They kind of remind me of apple pie. Mmmm.

1 package refrigerated pizza dough or 1 recipe Breadstick dough

2 cups shredded green apples (about 3 large apples)
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon -I really like cinnamon so I added a little more
1 tablespoon flour

1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Glaze (which I think adds a necessary amount of sugar):
6 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 tablespoon melted butter
1/4 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract
1-2 teaspoons milk

1. Preheat oven to temperature specified on pizza dough.
2. Spray a pie plate or similar dish with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
3. On a lightly floured surface, roll the pizza dough into a rectangle approximately 12 x 18 inches. Using a pizza cutter, cut dough into 3-inch squares.
4. In a mixing bowl, combine the shredded apples, brown sugar, cinnamon, and flour. Divide evenly by putting a spoonful on each square of pizza dough. Use your fingers to close each square of dough, wrapping dough around filling and pinching to seal shut forming a round ball. Place balls seam-side down in pie plate.
5. Combine the topping ingredients and sprinkle on top of the dough. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the rolls are golden brown on top. Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes.
6. While the rolls are cooling, whisk the glaze ingredients until smooth. Drizzle on top of the rolls and serve.

Serves 8-10

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Baked Chicken-Bacon Alfredo

I've been kind of MIA. I guess I haven't been super motivated to update this but I have definitely been trying new things. I got an awesome cookbook for mother's day. It's called Our Best Bites by Sara Wells and Kate Jones. Some of you have probably heard of it and some of you might own it. It's a great cookbook and I highly recommend it. It's filled with quick and delicious meals, sides, and desserts. Plus, some great tutorials.

8 ounces penne or bowtie pasta -I used the mini penne b/c I don't like a huge mouthful of pasta in each bite.
1 recipe Guiltless Alfredo Sauce -there is a link to it in the recipe on the website
2 chicken breasts, grilled and chopped (about 2 cups chopped chicken) -we don't have a grill so I just cooked the chicken breasts in the pan I used to cook the bacon. Yum!
6 ounces (1/2 package) cooked bacon, chopped
1 (14-ounce) jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1/2 cup chopped green onions (about 1 decent-sized bunch)
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
Salt and pepper, to taste

Serves 8

I followed this recipe exactly (except that I halved it b/c there's no way the two of us would be able to eat all that pasta...) and I loved it. The "Guiltless Alfredo Sauce" makes me feel better about eating chicken Alfredo. And there's not that much bacon in it....but who am I kidding? I'd probably eat it anyway! This dish is creamy and smokey and delicious. AND it's a quick and easy recipe.

Monday, May 2, 2011

50 Panini

These two paninis are from an insert I got from Food Network Magazine. Here is a link to all 50 "recipes". Some of them sounds really yummy. I have tried the Steak-Gruyère, Bacon-Date (both in this post), and the Italian Melt. All three are very different and very tasty.

Mix equal parts mayonnaise and horseradish. Stir in some chopped parsley. Spread on the inside of a split piece of baguette. Fill with thinly sliced cooked steak and sliced gruyère. Press and cook until golden.

I cooked my steak to about medium or medium-rare because I like it that way. The meat is more tender that way, but cook it how you like it. I think I had just over half a pound of steak and that made two sandwiches. The horseradish is a nice touch so don't be afraid of it. Just add less if you don't want too much kick.

Brush the inside of a split French roll with olive oil and spread with soft goat cheese. Fill with chopped dates and crisp bacon. Press and cook until golden.

This is not what most people think of when they think of paninis. It's very different but I liked it. Then again, I like to try "different" food.
The dates definitely add some sweetness to the sandwich so don't put a lot on if you're concerned about that (oh, and don't use the chopped, sugar coated dates you find in the baking isle; try and find whole, pitted dates). The bacon is, of course, delicious and the goat cheese is creamy and tangy and balances everything.

Even if you are not interested in these two paninis at least I've given you a resource for 48 other ideas that are fast and perfect for dinner for two! Enjoy!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Brisket Tacos with Red Cabbage

This recipe is from the Food Network Magazine and it's by Alex Guarnaschelli. I've never made any of her recipes before, but this was a great way to start. Even though it takes a bit of time...It. Is. Amazing.

If you bring these tacos to a cinco de Mayo party you'll be a hit, I promise. Oh and the red cabbage slaw is a must. The caggabe is cold, tangy, and crunchy and pairs perfectly with the warm and tender meat. YUM.

2 heads garlic, unpeeled and halved crosswise, plus 6 cloves garlic
2 T. extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
4 to 4 1/2 pounds brisket
Freshly ground pepper
1 T. smoked paprika
1 T. chili powder
3 T. canola oil
3 large red onions, halved and thinly sliced
1/4 c. packed dark brown sugar
2 T. apple cider vinegar
1 c. dry red wine
2 c. beef stock
2 bay leaves
16-20 small flour tortillas
Red cabbage slaw, for topping

Full Recipe

Serves 8-10

It takes about 50 minutes of prep and cooking before you place the brisket in the oven to finish cooking and then about another 25 minutes once you take it out of the oven in order to reduce the sauce and rest the meat prior to slicing it. This is not that difficult it just takes a bit of planning ahead.

Also, make the cabbage slaw (please! It's so good!) right after you put the brisket in the oven so it has time to soak up all those yummy, tangy flavors.

If you make this (or any of my recipes) please comment on it. I know I love this recipe, but I would like to know what everyone thinks!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Chicken-Ramen Soup

Who doesn't love a good chicken noodle soup? This is a twist on the original and tastes just as good! Oh, and it's from my handy dandy Pillsbury Annual Recipes 2007 edition cookbook.

1 T. olive oil
1 cup ready-to-eat baby-cut carrots, sliced into 1/4-inch slices
1 cup sliced (1/4-inch) celery (2 medium stalks)
1 medium onion, chopped (1/2 cup)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups cut-up deli rotisserie chicken (from 2- to 2 1/2 lb. chicken)
6 cups water
1 package (3 oz.) chicken-flavor ramen noodle soup mix
1/4 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper

In 5-quart Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat. Add carrots, celery, onion, and garlic; cook 3 to 4 minutes, stirring frequently, until tender.

Stir in chicken, water, contents of seasoning packet from soup mix, salt and pepper. Heat to boiling over high heat. Reduce heat to medium; simmer uncovered 10 to 15 minutes.

Stir in noodles from soup mix; simmer uncovered 3 minutes longer or until noodles are tender

Serves: 6 (1 cup each)

I didn't actually use baby carrots because I had regular carrots already. And since you have to slice them anyway, just use whatever you want or what you have in your fridge.

I think I used 3 or 4 cloves of garlic because I like garlic and thought this wasn't enough. My soup was by no means garlicky.

I've made this with the rotisserie chicken (which I liked quite a bit) and with plain cooked, shredded chicken. Both are good so don't stress about using a rotisserie chicken if you don't want to, though I do think I liked it just a bit more with the rotisserie chicken.

Also, I use about 3 cups water and 3 cups chicken broth/stock to give the soup more flavor. Even though you add the flavoring packet to the soup there's no way it will add enough flavor to 6 cups of boring old water. OR you could add chicken bullion cube(s)/crystals to the water to get more flavor.

I think this soup tastes more complicated than it is to make, which is always nice :) Enjoy!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Spice-Rubbed Pork

This recipe is also from Food Network Magazine. The spice rub is delicious. The cumin adds a nice smokey flavor and there is some definite kick from the red pepper flakes. I really liked it paired with pork but I'm sure it'd be good with some other type of meat if you want to experiment.

Sorry I don't have a better picture. I forgot to take one so I had to use the pic from
2 t. smoked paprika -I just used regular ol' paprika. I've had a hard time finding smoked paprika and I thought it worked just fine.
1/2 t. red pepper flakes
2 t. ground cumin
Kosher salt
2 pork tenderloins (1 3/4 pounds total), halved crosswise
1 T. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 cup quinoa, rinsed
1 1/2 cups frozen corn, thawed
2 scallions, thinly sliced
Freshly ground pepper
Jarred salsa verde for serving (optional)

Full Recipe

Serves: 4

Honestly, I didn't like the quinoa. At least I didn't like the way this recipe has you prepare it. It was just too boring for me. And I even tried cooking it in chicken stock to add flavor. I understand that you should have a more mild side to go along with this rather spicy meat, but this was just blah to me. But, because it's part of the recipe I put it up anyway. Maybe you'll like it more than I did. I like the idea of using quinoa because it's so good for you, but next time I'll use a different recipe.

The entire reason I put this recipe up was because I liked the spice rub so much. It's just great. The flavor has a lot of depth even though there is only three spices that make up the rub.

Give it a try, I hope you'll like it!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Garlic Shrimp and Chickpeas

This is from Food Network Magazine. It's reminiscent of shrimp scampi, in my opinion. I served it as a main course but I feel like it might make a better side or appetizer. It's filling so just don't eat too much if you opt to serve it as a side. :)

This is what it looks like in the dish. Great presentation, huh?

2  15-ounce cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
6  T extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
1 1/4 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails intact
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 t. finely grated lemon zest
1/2 t. red pepper flakes
1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh parsley
Lemon wedges, for serving

Full Recipe

Serves: 4

This recipe is really quite easy and quick. I would buy shrimp that is already deveined (because who wants to do that?) and I suggest leaving the tails intact. I don't usually do this because it's easier to either buy shrimp already peeled or quickly peel the entire shell off yourself, but for this recipe I really felt like it just wouldn't look as good.

Also, I omitted the last tablespoon of olive oil you drizzle over at the end. I thought there was plenty of oil already in the dish without adding this last bit. And I'm pretty sure the dish did not suffer at all.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Key Lime Pie Cupcakes with Coconut Meringue

It's time for dessert!

I haven't posted a dessert recipe yet and I believe this is a great one to start with. I do have to warn you that it's rather...involved. It's not necessarily difficult, but these aren't your easy peasy cupcakes. But they're SO sweet and tart and wonderful. They're from CUPCAKES! from the Cake Mix Doctor by Anne Byrn. If you like to bake cupcakes this is a great book to own.

Notice the filling and crust on the bottom? They're a great surprise for anyone eating your cupcake!

Makes: 24 cupcakes -maybe even a few more
Prep time: 25 minutes
Baking time: 18 to 22 minutes
Assembly time: 15 minutes

24 paper liners for cupcakes pans (2 1/2 -inch size)

1 large lime, scrubbed (for 1 teaspoon zest and 2 tablespoons juice) -I actually used key lime for this. I had to buy them for the key lime juice you use in the filling so I opted to use key lime rather than lime here...
4 large eggs
1 package (18.25 ounces) plain yellow cake mix
1 package (3.4 ounces) vanilla instant pudding mix
1 1/4 cups water 1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon coconut flavoring

1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
1/3 cup Key lime juice

1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
Reserved 3 large egg whites
1/2 teaspoon coconut flavoring
1/3 cup granulated sugar

1. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 F. Line 24 cupcake cups with paper liners. Set the pans aside.

2. Prepare the cupcake batter: With a citrus zester or fine grater, zest the lime (or key lime if you do what I did) and reserve 1 teaspoon. Cut the lime in half and squeeze the juice over a strainer into a small bowl: you should have 2 tablespoons. Set aside. Separate 2 of the eggs, place the whites in a large clean mixing bowl and the yolks in another bowl. (This was the most confusing step for me. The zest, 2 T. juice, and 3 yolks all go in the same bowl...the bowl you'll use to make the batter. The whites go in another bowl for the meringue.)

3. Add the remaining egg, cake mix, pudding mix, water, oil, coconut flavoring and lime zest and juice to the yolks. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed for 30 seconds. Stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes more, scraping down the sides again if needed. The batter should look well blended. Spoon or scoop 1/4 cup batter into each lined cupcake cup, filling it two thirds of the way full. Place the pans in the oven.

4. Bake the cupcakes until they are lightly golden and spring back when lightly pressed with your finger, 18 to 22 minutes. Remove the pans from the oven and place them on wire racks to cool for 5 minutes. Increase the oven heat to 450 F.

5. Run a dinner knife around the edges of the cupcake liners, lift the cupcakes up from the bottoms of the cups using the end of the knife, and pick them out of the cups carefully with your fingertips. Place them on a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes before filling.

6. Meanwhile, prepare the filling: Place the sweetened condensed milk and Key lime juice in a small bowl and stir to combine. Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a medium tip. Press the tip 1/4 inch into the top center of each cooked cupcake and squeeze the bag to release about 1 tablespoon filling into the cupcake. Scrape off any excess filling with a rubber spatula. Place the cooled cupcakes nearby side by side on a baking sheet.

7. Prepare the meringue: Add the cream of tartar to the reserved egg whites and beat with an electric mixer on high speed until frothy, 45 seconds. Add the coconut flavoring and 1 tablespoon of the sugar. Continue beating on high, adding 1 tablespoon sugar at a time, until the whites form stiff peaks (if you pull the beaters from the meringue, the meringue should extend from the beaters in straight stiff peaks). Spoon 2 tablespoons meringue onto the top of each cupcake and swirl to spread it just to the edges with a short metal spatula or a spoon. Place the pan in the oven. Bake until meringue is light nutty brown in color, 5 to 6 minutes. Serve at once, or allow to cool 10 minutes then serve.

Store in a cake saver at room temp for up to 3 days.


Sorry for the lengthy instructions but that's how the recipe is written out. I followed it exactly with the exception of:

*The lime juice used in the batter. I bought 20 key limes for the filling and decided to use those in the batter as well. When all was said and done I had 7 key limes left over. If you buy Key lime juice, rather than using fresh, then I would use the lime as directed.

*I ended up piping on the meringue. It's faster and easier than using a knife to spread it on. Plus, I think it looks prettier. I also sprinkled lightly toasted coconut and just a pinch of key lime zest over the top of each cupcake before baking the meringue. It makes for pretty garnish and tells people what is in your lovely cupcakes.

*I did make one considerable change, or addition I would say, to the recipe. I've had a Key lime pie cupcake before and it had a graham cracker crust on the bottom. It was delicious, but this recipe did not call for it. So I made graham cracker crust mixture with 1 cup crushed graham crackers, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, and 5 tablespoon melted butter. Toss all those together and place a little in the bottom of each cupcake cup. I just eyeballed how much I wanted but it was probably a tablespoon in each...maybe a little more. Pack it down with a spoon and there you go! I ended up baking it in the oven for a few minutes to crisp it up before I poured the batter in, but looking back I don't think that would be necessary because you then bake the cupcakes. In my cupcakes the crust was slightly crunchy, almost a cookie consistency. I liked it, but I'm interested to see if the crust would be a little softer if I don't bake it before hand.

Anyway. These are SO very tasty. I like the meringue because it's not too sweet and balances the sweetness of the filling. These may take a bit of effort to make, but I definitely recommend them if you have to make cupcakes for a special occasion or for a birthday. They're beautiful AND yummy. I hope you like them!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Linguine with Shrimp Scampi-Ina Garten

I own Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa Family Style cookbook and that's where I got this recipe from. I'm sure you can look on and it'll be there too.

My husband loves me whenever I make this. The citrus balances the butter and the red pepper flakes add just the right amount of heat. Make this for a weeknight meal or for a special dinner because it looks impressive even though it only takes about 15 minutes to make (and that's including time to boil the pasta!).

Vegetable oil
Kosher salt
1 1/2 pounds linguine
6 Tbs. (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
5 Tbs. good olive oil
3 Tbs. minced garlic (9 cloves)
2 pounds large shrimp (about 32), peeled and deveined
1/2 t. freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup chopped fresh parsley -I definitely recommend using fresh. It has flavor than dried and is really cheap and easy to find.
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (4 lemons) -I've used the bottled kind in a pinch and it tasted fine.
1/2 lemon, thinly sliced in half-rounds -I think this is merely for presentation and I generally only do it if I'm making it for company.
1/4 t. hot red pepper flakes

Drizzle some oil in a large pot of boiling salted water, add the linguine, and cook for 7 to 10 minutes, or according to the directions on the package. (I don't usually add the oil to the pasta water. It doesn't actually keep the noodles from sticking together..even though all our mothers told us so. And in this case, you're mixing the noodles with the sauce so they won't stick together anyway.)
Meanwhile, in another large (12-inch), heavy-bottomed pan, melt the butter and olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the garlic. Sauté for 1 minute. Be careful, the garlic burns easily! Add the shrimp, 1 tablespoon of salt, and the pepper and sauté until the shrimp have just turned pink, about 5 minutes, stirring often. Remove from the heat, add the parsley, lemon zest, lemon juice, lemon slices, and red pepper flakes. Toss to combine.
When the pasta is done, drain the cooked linguine and then put it back in the pot. Immediately add the shrimp and sauce, toss well, and serve.

Serves 6

It doesn't get much easier than that! My only suggestion would be to be careful with how much lemon juice you use. I've made this and it turned out perfectly, but then I've also made it and it was too lemony. I'm not sure how it happened because I swear I was following the recipe but, nevertheless, it did. And it just doesn't taste as good if you go overboard with the lemon. Oh and I think that 1 1/2 pounds of pasta is a TON. A pound is more than enough I can always cook more if you think you need it. I hope you like it!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Reuben

We celebrated St. Patrick's Day by eating corned beef and a Reuben sandwich.

Rye bread -I used the marbled kind just because I think it's pretty
Corned beef -1/2 pound makes 3-4 sandwiches depending on the size of your bread and how much you put on the sandwich.
Sauerkraut -a couple Tbs. per sandwich
Thousand Island dressing -a Tbs. or so per sandwich
Sliced Swiss cheese

Lightly toast rye bread. Layer corned beef, sauerkraut, Thousand Island dressing and Swiss cheese on one piece of rye bread. Place under broiler until cheese is melted (it melts quickly so don't walk away). Top with second piece of rye bread. Enjoy!

I didn't use a real recipe for this but I rather enjoy Reuben sandwiches and I want to encourage all of you to try this. I know that each of the ingredients may sound kind of gross, but believe me when I say that the combination is delightful. Seriously. If you aren't a fan of sauerkraut this sandwich might change your mind. The Reuben sandwich is bold and delicious and not for the faint of heart. But you should try it even if you are...:)...

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Chicken Fiesta Salad

This is also from the Pillsbury Annual Recipes 2007 edition. It happens to be a Bake-Off winner.

this is missing the black beans only because I forgot to open the can
Vegetable oil for frying
4 corn tortillas

16 leaves red or green leaf lettuce (about one head)
1 large yellow or orange bell pepper, cut into thin bite-size strips
1 large mango, peeled, seeded and cut into chunks
1 large avocado, pitted, peeled, and cut into thin slices
2 large plum (Roma) tomatoes, finely chopped
1 can (15 oz.) Progresso black beans
1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese (4oz.)

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/4-inch-wide strips
1 package (1.25 oz.) Old El Paso 40% less-sodium taco seasoning mix
1 teaspoon ground chipotle chili powder (this adds a wonderfully smokey flavor to the chicken)
2 tablespoons water

1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup lime juice
2 tablespoons honey
1/3 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves and stems
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
dash salt

1. In 8-inch skillet, heat 1/2 inch oil for frying over medium heat. With pizza cutter, cut corn tortillas into 1/4-inch wide strips. Fry strips in batches in hot oil 1 to 2 minutes or until golden and crisp. With tongs, place fried tortilla strips  in paper towels to drain.

2. On individual plates, evenly layer lettuce, bell pepper, mango, avocado, tomatoes, beans and cheese.

3. Lightly spray 10-inch skillet with cooking spray. Add chicken strips; sprinkle with taco seasoning mix, chipotle chili powder and water. Cook uncovered over medium heat 5 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until chicken is no longer pink in the center. Set aside.

4. In food processor or blender, process all dressing ingredients until well blended and cilantro is finely chopped. Arrange chicken evenly over salads. Drizzle about 3 tablespoons dressing over each salad. Top each evenly with tortilla strips.

Serves 4 (3 cups each)


First off...I've never done the tortilla strips. I think that sounds like way too much effort. If I wanted them I'd just buy them already made.
Second. I have used the Dole frozen mango (thawed, of course) rather than a fresh mango and I really like it. It's fast and the pieces aren't mushy when they thaw. Also, that way I can make this when mango isn't in season.
Third. When I don't feel like cutting chicken breasts I use chicken tenders (as seen in above picture). Sprinkling the taco seasoning, chipotle chili powder, and water over pieces of chicken that large doesn't work very well so I make a paste with the those ingredients and brush it on. It kind of creates a crust. And I use canola or olive oil because cooking spray is SO not enough to cook chicken. Do whatever you want though :)

There may be quite a few steps to this recipe, but it really doesn't take that long. Especially if you buy pre-torn lettuce, pre-grated cheese, ect. I like it because it's super flavorful and fresh tasting. I hope you like it too!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Curry Pork Burgers with Spicy Ketchup by Sunny Anderson

I think these are amazing. Seriously. They're such a change from your typical burger and I love it. The spicy ketchup is worth's sooo good.

2 1/2 lb. ground pork
2 t. ground coriander
2 t. curry powder
2 t. Worcestershire sauce
1 t. cayenne pepper
3 scallions, chopped (green onions)
2 large clove garlic, finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 T. olive oil
6 hamburger buns (I have been converted to OROWEAT 100% whole wheat sandwich thins...100 calories and 5 grams of fiber-y deliciousness. TRY THEM. They're so much better for you and taste great. They're usually right by the hamburger buns.)
1 head butter lettuce
2 to 3 tomatoes, sliced
Spicy Ketchup, recipe follows

Spicy Ketchup:
1 clove garlic, minced
1 T butter
1 cup ketchup
1/2 t red pepper flakes
1/4 cayenne pepper
1 scallion, finely chopped

Serves 6-8
Full Recipe

I didn't follow the recipe exactly. In my opinion, NO ONE needs to eat a burger that is nearly a 1/2 pound. And that's what you would get if you use 2 1/2 pounds of pork for only 6 patties. I think you can make 8 patties from 2 pounds of meat...but that may just be me...Anyway, I cut the recipe in half (used 1 pound of meat) and adjusted the spices accordingly (you don't have to be exact) and it turned out DELICIOUS. Oh, and I have found that ground pork can be difficult to find. Just ask your friendly butcher to grind some up for you if you can't find it because I think beef might have too strong of a flavor for this.

Also, I didn't have any fresh garlic (gasp! that has never happened) so I just used garlic powder. The conversions for cloves is on the container (thank goodness!) and it actually made this easier to make. In fact, I recommend using garlic powder for the spicy ketchup. I just stirred everything together (minus the butter because I wasn't cooking the garlic) in a little glass bowl and popped it in the microwave to help the flavors meld. I didn't have to use a pot, which means one less dish to clean up! And we all like that, don't we?

As for condiments...I put the spicy ketchup, peperoncini, tomatoes, and thinly sliced red onion on mine. YUM! The hubby put the ketchup, pickles, cheddar cheese, and mayo and he liked it quite a bit. I think crumbling a little feta on top would have been a nice addition. Have fun with these...though the burger does taste like curry so I would suggest staying along those lines. Do whatever you want though!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Red Wine Beef and Mushrooms

This is from the Pillsbury Annual Recipes 2007 cookbook. Even though many of the pictures don't look all that appetizing I've found the recipes to be quite delicious in general. It's a good cookbook to own. The hubby thought this was beef stroganoff and was a little disappointed when he first saw it, but concluded it was much tastier upon trying it.

6 slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 lb. lean boneless beef stew meat
1 c. dry red wine
1 can (14 oz.) chicken broth
1 1/4 c. water (I substituted chicken broth/stock has more flavor than water...)
2 packages (8 oz. each) fresh whole mushrooms, quartered
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 t. dried thyme leaves
3/4 t. each salt and pepper
2 dried bay leaves
1/4 all-purpose flour
1 package (12 oz.) uncooked fettuccine
1 jar (15 oz. whole pearl onions in water, drained
2 T. sugar

In 6-quart Dutch oven, cook bacon until lightly browned. Remove bacon; set aside. Reserve 1 tablespoon drippings in pan. Add beef; cook and stir until browned. Remove beef from Dutch oven.

In same Dutch oven, heat wine to boiling. Add broth and 1 cup of the water; cook and stir 2 minutes. Stir in bacon, beef, mushrooms, garlic, thyme, salt, pepper, and bay leaves. Over medium-low heat, cover and simmer about 1 hour, stirring occasionally, until beef is tender.

Remove bay leaves. In small bowl, mix flour and remaining 1/4 cup water until smooth. Add to beef mixture; cook and stir about 1 minute or until sauce is slightly thickened.

Cook fettuccine as directed on package. In 8-inch skillet, melt butter over medium-low heat. Stir in onions and sugar; cook about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions are lightly browned. Stir onion mixture into beef mixture. Serve over fettuccine; if desired sprinkle with parsley.

Serves 6 (This can easily be cut in half, which is what I did. It fed two people for two meals, though the second night I ate it with a little more pasta to stretch it just a bit)

Here are just a few suggestions:

*I actually had beef stew meat on hand. I randomly bought it and thought it'd be easy to use, but I quickly realized I didn't actually know of many recipes that call for beef stew meat. I'm sure you could just cube up some pot roast meat or whatever you want if you don't have beef stew meat.
*I ended up using linguine because the grocery store was out of fettuccine. How that happens, I'm not sure, but I actually liked the outcome. The pasta didn't overwhelm the beef, which it might have had I used fettuccine.
*I have no idea where to find canned whole pearl onions. Even finding the frozen ones is difficult. I've seen fresh at the Sunflower Farmers Market and I'm sure those would work just as well. In fact, I think I'd prefer the fresh over the canned. Anyway, I didn't actually have these so I used shallots. I just cut them into smaller chunks, cooked them for less time, and still achieved the onion-y flavor using what I had on hand.

I was quite pleased with how this turned out. I think the bacon totally makes the dish. But then again, bacon makes anything better :)

Friday, February 25, 2011

Meatball Soup with Spinach

Okay. So this doesn't sound the most appetizing, but I promise it's very tasty. If you've ever wanted to recreate an Asian soup this is a good place to start. It's from Quick and Easy Chinese by Nancie McDermott.

1 small bundle bean thread noodles (about 2 ounces)
(I've used vermicelli noodles, which are actually rice noodles, in the past because I happened to have them in the pantry. I thought it worked just as well. And you prepare them the same way.)
1/4 lb. ground pork
2 t. soy sauce
1 t. finely chopped garlic
1/2 t. salt
4 c. chicken stock (remember to use reduced can always add more salt if you think it needs it :)...)
2 c. fresh baby spinach leaves, or large leaves torn into 2-inch pieces
3 T. thinly sliced green onion
Asian sesame oil (optional) (but a nice addition in my opinion)

Soften the bean thread noodles by placing them in a medium bowl with warm water to cover for 15 minutes. When they are flexible and white, cut them into 3-inch lengths and set aside.

Combine the pork with the soy sauce, garlic, and salt and mix together to season the meat evenly. Roll the mixture into small meatballs, about 1-inch in diameter, or use a spoon to scoop it into small, free-form meatballs.

In a medium saucepan, bring the chicken stock to a rolling boil over high heat. Drop the meatballs into the boiling soup, a few at a time, and stir to keep them from sticking together. When all the meatballs are in the soup, adjust the heat to maintain a gentle boil and cook for 3 minutes. Skim off and discard any foam that forms on the soup, and stir now and then.

Add the noodle and stir well, cooking until they become clear and soft, about 1 minute more. Add the spinach and green onion and remove from the heat. Serve hot, adding a few drops of sesame oil, if using, to the soup just before serving.

Serves 4

It's a simple as it sounds! Nancie suggests putting in carrot shreds, tofu chunks, or sliced mushrooms right after the meat if you want a more complex dish without much more effort. I really like putting in tofu and sliced cremini mushrooms (they have a little more flavor than button mushrooms) but I'd probably try shiitake if they were easier to find. The more complex you make it the better it can stand alone as a main dish. I think it's intended to be more of a side dish but with everything I add to it I think it works as a main.

This dish has a rather delicate flavor. It's simple but very satisfying. Try putting a few drops of Sriracha in if you want to take it up a notch or two, but don't overdo it or you'll ruin the simplicity of my opinion.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Butternut Squash Lasagna by Giada DeLaurentiis

This lasagna is unlike anything I've ever had. It's creamy and delicious and tastes like Fall. Mmm. It does take a bit of work but I think it's worth it.

1 T. olive oil
1 (1 1/2 to 2 lb) butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch cubes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 c. water
3 amaretti cookies, crumbled (I've never used these)
1/4 c. butter
1/4 c. all purpose flour
3 1/2 c. whole milk (I use whatever milk I happen to have and I think it still tastes great)
Pinch nutmeg
3/4 c. (lightly packed) fresh basil leaves
12 no-boil lasagna noodles (definitely use these. It helps cut down on the assembly time and I really like the texture of the no-boil noodles)
2 1/2 c. shredded whole-milk mozzarella cheese
1/3 c. grated Parmesan

Serves 8-10
Full Recipe

This recipe has a ton of really great reviews, which is why I tried it in the first place. A number of people made some adjustments that I decided follow. Here is what I do differently.

As far as peeling and cutting fresh butternut's next to impossible and takes WAY too much time. I followed the advice from a reviewer and pre-heated the oven to 400 F, split the squash in half, seeded it, put it on a roasting pan cut side down, and topped it with a cup of water. Then I baked it for about 40 minutes until it was soft and the peel came right off. All you have to do is mix it with a spoon to get the consistency you want, which means no food processor. Plus, you can roast more than one squash at a time and just cube and freeze the extra for next time (which cuts down your prep time dramatically) or use it to make butternut squash soup!

I think I remember reading some reviews that complained about the lack of texture in the dish so I always sauté some onion and brown some mild Italian sausage (around 1/2 lb.) to mix in with the squash. I've also tried basil-chicken sausage, which was quite delicious (you can get it at the Sunflower Farmers Market). If you want to keep this vegetarian just use the onion.

Some people had issues with getting the sauce to thicken enough so they suggested using up to 1/2 c. of all purpose flour instead of 1/4 c. I generally use around 1/3 c. Also, definitely use fresh basil here. This dish would be significantly different and less delicious if you use something else.

Admittedly, the directions for assembling the lasagna are a little confusing.  The first time I made this I couldn't figure out how many layers there should be. But I think what confused me the most was what the top was supposed to be. I think the top (last) layer is supposed to just be noodles, sauce, and cheese. This would make sense because the directions say to use 1/3 of the squash in each layer, but you have 12 noodles to work with. Anyway, I hope that's not too confusing. Just layer the noodles, then the squash mixture, then the cheese, then the sauce until you've used everything up. And don't worry about measuring out each thing exactly like the directions say. It doesn't have to look perfect. It is lasagna and lasagna isn't supposed to be perfect. It's supposed to look rustic and hearty.

If you like butternut squash then you will love this. It's a perfect Fall/Winter lasagna. Buon appetito!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Kung Pao Chicken

This recipe is from Quick and Easy Chinese by Nancie McDermott. My mom gave me this cookbook for Christmas a few years ago and I absolutely LOVE it. Every recipe I have tried is easy to make and very tasty.

There may be a lot of ingredients, but this is largely a matter of measuring out the two seasoning mixtures.

3/4 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast (I use 1 lb. because I always freeze my chicken in 1 lb. portions)
1 T. soy sauce
1 T. dry sherry or Shaoxing rice wine
1 T. cornstarch
1 t. vegetable oil

1 T. soy sauce
1 T. dry sherry or Shaoxing rice wine
1 T. red wine vinegar or Chenkiang vinegar
1 T. sugar
1 t. corn starch
1 t. salt

2 T. vegetable oil
5-10 small dried hot red chilies or 2 t. red pepper flakes (I used 2 t. red pepper once and it was hot. Now I generally only use 1 t.)
1 t. Szechuan peppercorns, toasted and crushed (optional)
1 T. coarsely chopped garlic
1 T. finely chopped fresh ginger
1/4 c. coarsely chopped green onion
3/4 c. roasted, salted peanuts
1 t. Asian sesame oil (sesame oil has a strong flavor so I don't usually use this much. I just drizzle a little over the dish, then toss)

To prepare the chicken: Chop it into bite-sized chunks, about 1inch in diameter. In a medium bowl, combine the soy sauce, sherry, cornstarch, and vegetable oil. Stir to mix everything well, and then add the chicken, tossing to coat it evenly. Set aside for 30 minutes to 1 hour, or cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day.

To make the sauce: In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce, sherry, vinegar, sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Stir to dissolve the dry ingredients, and mix everything together well.

Prepare the remaining ingredients, and place everything by the stove (I find this to be very helpful because the cooking process is rather quick), along with a serving platter for the finished dish.

To cook the chicken, heat a wok or large, deep skillet over medium-high heat, and then add the vegetable oil. Swirl to coat the pan, and when it is hot but not smoking, add the chiles. Toss well for about 30 seconds, and then add the Szechuan peppercorns, if using. Cook for about 1 minute, until fragrant and shiny, tossing once or twice.

Scatter in the chicken and let it cook on one side for about 1 minute. Toss well, and then add the garlic, ginger, and green onion. Cook 1 to 2 minutes, tossing now and then, until the chicken has changed color and is cooked through.

Stir the sauce, and add it to the pan. Cook another minute, tossing often, and then add the peanuts and sesame oil. Toss once more, transfer to a serving platter, and serve hot or warm.

Serves 4

Don't be intimidated by this recipe just because of the lengthy list of ingredients and directions. It's really not a difficult recipe; the key here is to prep everything before starting. Once you have everything ready to drop in the pan the cooking process really only takes about 5 minutes. Also, I like to include some zuchinni and/or yellow squash to add a little more flavor and texture. I usually add it when I add the garlic, ginger, and green onion. You want to cook it through but you don't want to loose that bite that fresh vegetables should have. Something to consider as well: I gengerally 1.5x the sauce because I don't want the dish to be dry due to adding zuchinni and more chicken than is called for.

Pair this with some Jasmine rice and you've got yourself an easy, authentc tasting Asian dish. This recipe is SO worth trying.  请享用。

Monday, February 14, 2011

Chocolate Dipped Strawberries

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone! What is better on Valentine's Day than chocolate dipped strawberries? They're super easy to make, cheaper than buying already dipped, and oh so romantic looking ;)

There is no recipe but here are some great ideas for what to dip those strawberries in!

*dip in white chocolate then roll in brown sugar -it may sound weird but it's SO good
*dip in dark/milk/white chocolate then sprinkle with decorating sugar
*dip in milk chocolate then drizzle with dark and/or white chocolate
*dip in dark chocolate then sprinkle with coconut (toasted or not)
*dip in plain old dark or milk chocolate -sometimes the simpler the better
*dip in dark chocolate, wait for it to harden, then dip in milk/white chocolate for a pretty layered look

Definitely melt your chocolate gently or it'll burn. You can use a double boiler, a glass pan in the oven (on the lowest temp), or the microwave. Take it SLOW if you use the the microwave; stop to mix it every 10-30 seconds depending on how melted it is (don't use plastic). If you don't have a pastry bag and tips, just snip off a very tiny bit of the corner on a plastic bag and pipe away.

Use whatever chocolate you like best or use them all! Most importantly, have fun!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Slow Cooked Chili Soup

I really am not a huge Crock Pot user. I've probably used my Crock Pot less than a dozen times in the 2 1/2 years I've owned it, but I just happened to make two Crock Pot recipes since starting this blog. I got this recipe from my sister who got it at an Enrichment activity. I think it's actual name is Taco Soup because it has taco seasoning in it, but it's so similar to chili that I call it Chili Soup.

1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can chili beans in sauce
1 small can tomato sauce (I used tomato soup)
1 can diced tomato (use the plain or seasoned kind, whatever you want)
1 can corn (or use frozen corn)
1 can green chili peppers
1 onion, sautéd
1 lb. ground beef, browned
1 package of taco seasoning (I used the 30% reduced sodium kind)

Brown meat and onions, then combine everything in Crock Pot for 6 hours on low. Serve with cheese, sour cream, and Frito's.

Serves 6

How simple is THAT? And it's pretty darn good. I really like how flavorful it is.

I used the same pan for sautéing the onion and browning the meat and ended up cooking mine on high for 4 1/2 hours because I didn't get it started on time. It turned out just fine.

I also baked up some cornbread (I totally went with Jiffy) to go with it because what goes better with chili than cornbread?? Probably nothing. :)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Sweet Apple Quick Bread

This is from Retro Baking by Maureen Fischer. I like to think of it as the apple version of banana bread.
2 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. sugar
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1 c. (2 medium) apples, peeled and shredded
1/2 c. butter, softened
1/2 c. milk
2 T. orange peel, grated
1 T. corn syrup
2 eggs
1/2 nuts, chopped

In large bowl blend all ingredients except nuts. Beat 3 minutes at medium speed. Stir in nuts. Pour into greased loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees 50 to 60 minutes.

Makes 1 loaf

Ever since making the Whole-Wheat Cinnamon-Raisin bread I've been on a baking kick. This stuff is pretty good; I especially liked the addition of orange zest. If you like banana bread you will probably like this. I used pecans and liked the outcome. Walnuts might be good too, but the bread has a mild taste so I think I'd prefer pecans. Oh, and I definitely had to cook it an hour or more. I got distracted with the little one so I'm not exactly sure how long I let it go. I just used the handy, dandy toothpick to check it and it was cooked to perfection.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Chipotle Black Bean Soup

I try to have a "meatless Monday" (where I prepare vegetarian or fish dishes) about once a week, though it's not always on Mondays. I got this recipe from an advertisement in the Food Network Magazine and was very pleased with how it turned out the first time I made it.

3 cans (15.5 oz. each) GOYA Black Beans, divided
1 chipotle, plus 2 t. sauce from 1 can GOYA Chipotle Chilies in Adobo Sauce
1 GOYA Chicken Bouillon mixed with 2 c. water, or 2 c. chicken stock (use vegetable stock if you want to make it vegetarian)
2 T. GOYA Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, finely chopped
2 t. GOYA Mined Garlic, or 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 t. GOYA Ground Cumin
1/2 c. sour cream
1 small tomato, finely chopped
2 T. roughly chopped fresh cilantro

Full Recipe

Serves 6

Okay. So you don't really have to use GOYA brand everything, but because it's a GOYA recipe I wanted to put it up exactly as is appears in the ad. (minus the vegetable stock comment...that's all me).

Some things to consider:
-I used reduced sodium chicken stock and black beans because I like to control the sodium content of my food.
-I also doubled the amount of chipotle chilies because I wanted my soup a little spicier. Don't worry, I'm not a heat fiend like my mom...if that means anything to you.
-I don't like green pepper so I used one whole red pepper. Bonus: I didn't have half a green and red pepper left over to worry about using.
-I incorporated the chopped tomatoes into the soup before serving and it turned out just fine. I did this solely because I knew my husband wouldn't touch them if they were a garnish and I wanted to force more nutrition on him. :)
-The sour cream is totally optional but I do like the creaminess it adds to the soup, especially if you opt to make a spicier version. Use the low-fat kind if you want to keep it a bit healthier.

This is SUPER easy to make and is a great main dish because it's nice and hearty. I hope you like it!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Fall Salad by Tyler Florence, 2007

I know this says it's a Fall salad, but I think it's good any time of year. It's sweet, it's salty, it's delicious!

Candied pecans:
2 T. unsalted butter
2 T. packed light brown sugar (I used dark because that's what I had)
1/2 c. raw pecans

Maple-balsamic dressing:
1 small shallot, finely chopped
1 t. Dijon mustard
2 t. balsamic vinegar
1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil
2 t. maple syrup (use the real stuff)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 head endive, separated leaves
2 hearts frisee, hand torn
1 large radicchio, torn leaves
1 red pear, sliced (use whatever pear you want/can find in your grocery store)
1/4 c. shaved Parmesan

Full recipe

I encourage everyone to try out this salad. It's actually easier than it looks. The candied pecans only take a few minutes (and are such a nice addition) and if you buy pre-washed and pre-torn lettuce it cuts down your prep time quite a bit. I usually use a mix of greens that include frisee and radicchio but, honestly, use whatever you want.

Definitely use some good Parmesan for this one. Buy a block of cheese and use a peeler to make beautiful little curls like this
and everyone will be so impressed. I receive compliments on this salad every time I bring it to a dinner party and I'm sure you will too.

Also, don't be afraid to mix up the kind of nuts or cheese you use. Be creative. That is what makes cooking fun!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Whole-Wheat Cinnamon-Raisin Bread by Ellie Krieger for FN Mag

I have been obsessed with this recipe since I saw it in the Food Network Magazine. I made it twice in less than a's that good.
Picture of Whole-Wheat Cinnamon-Raisin Bread Recipe
This isn't my picture. It's from but this is exactly how my loafs turned out.
2 c. bread flour, plus more for dusting
2 c. whole-wheat flour
1/4 c. nonfat dry milk
1 large egg
2 T. canola oil, plus more for brushing
3 T. honey
2 t. salt
1 1/2 t. instant dry yeast
Cooking spray
2/3 c. raisins
1 T. plus 1 t. ground cinnamon (I didn't measure the cinnamon out, just sprinkle on however much you want)
1/3 c. packed dark brown sugar

Makes two loafs

In the future, if the recipe is on the Internet I will provide a link that will take you to it. That way I don't have to type out all the instructions and it makes it easier for you to print. Of course, if it's from a cookbook I will make the entire recipe available on the blog. Either way, I will always provide a list of ingredients. I don't know about you, but I always look at the ingredient list before deciding whether or not to make something.

For the full recipe go here

The instructions are pretty clear. The only thing I think might be confusing for anyone who doesn't make bread very often is the part where it says, "Let it rise." and then continues on. I think it should say, "Let it rise:" (note the colon). You don't want to let the dough rise and then transfer it to the greased bowl to rise another hour and a half...that's a little too much rising. I could be overly concerned and no one who reads that will make that mistake, but just in case :)

Also, if you don't have dry milk or don't want to have to buy it especially for this recipe just substitute the warm water with warm skim milk. You can use whatever milk you want, but sticking with skim means that each slice has only around 99 calories (according to Food Network Magazine)! Of course, if you eat half a loaf in one sitting it's a moot point. And this bread is so moist, soft, and perfectly sweet that you might not be able to stop yourself!