Saturday, April 18, 2009

Nachos


Apparently the cheese theme continues! My husband and I sometimes nosh on nachos on nights when we're not all that hungry for a full-blown dinner. Tonight was one of those nights (which probably had nothing to do with the batch of cupcakes I made three hours earlier, of which I promptly ate two).

I like nachos because we always seem to have the key ingredients in our house, but we can change them up however we like. This batch featured homemade guacamole.

Guacamole recipe
Ingredients:
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1 fresh lime
  • Kosher salt
  • Optional: diced red onion, diced tomatoes, cilantro

Directions:
  1. Cut avocado in half, remove the pit. With a knife, carefully score length-wise and width wise. Using a spoon or fork, scoop out the interior into a bowl.
  2. Cut the lime in half, and squeeze a little bit into the avocado. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt.
  3. Using a fork, mash the avocado to as smooth or chunky as you like. Taste for seasoning and add more lime and salt as needed. I like mine quite limey and find that I generally use about half a lime per one avocado for a relatively strong lime flavor.
  4. Stir in the diced red onions, tomatoes and/or cilantro once seasoned

Nacho "recipe"
Ingredients:
  • Your favorite tortilla chips - I personally am in love with Xochitl chips
  • Your favorite cheese - tonight I used about 3/4 of a block of marbled colby/monterrey jack which I shredded
Anything that you love on nachos...consider:
  • Diced tomatoes
  • Diced red (or white) onion
  • Pickled or fresh jalapenos
  • Black beans & Corn (rinse a can of black beans, stir in a drained can of corn or defrosted frozen corn)
  • Guacamole
  • Sour Cream
  • Salsa
  • Grilled Chicken
  • Ground Beef


Directions:
  1. Preheat broiler
  2. In a broiler-safe dish, place one layer of tortilla chips. Top with shredded cheese and a few of the ingredients. Place dish under broiler until cheese begins to bubble
  3. Remove dish from broiler, and place another layer of tortilla chips and cheese, followed by a few more of the ingredients. Place dish under broiler again until cheese is VERY bubbly.
  4. Remove from broiler and top with salsa, guacamole & sour cream and any of the toppings that you want!
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Homemade Mozzarella Sticks


There is no denying that I LOVE cheese. And, the more ways I can prepare it and consume it, the better. The last time I made pizza margherita I had a bit of fresh mozzarella leftover, so I quickly coated it in egg and breadcrumbs and fried it up in a little bit of oil. What occured was a greasy mess without much crunchy breading, but still was pretty gooey and good.

So, inspired by an initial, unplanned run at a fried mozzarella I set off to create homemade mozzarella sticks to go along with pizza margherita (again, just another vehicle for the cheese). The result was a super easy appetizer that yielded golden brown sticks with perfectly gooey mozzarella on the inside. I think there are a few things to keep in mind with this recipe. First, don't use fresh mozzarella. Use the blocks of mozzarella you find by all the packaged cheese. Second, cut the mozzarella into sticks about 1/4-inch in size. I initially thought this would be too small, but they tend to swell in the oil after they've been double coated in the egg & breadcrumbs. This size will melt the mozzarella before it starts to ooze out of the end! And last, but not least, double coating is the key...order should be egg, breadcrumbs, egg, breadcrumbs, deep fryer.

Here's there recipe for my new favorite treat!

Ingredients:
  • Block of mozzarella, cut to 1/4-inch sticks
  • Breadcrumbs seasoned with italian seasoning and garlic powder
  • 1 egg
  • Vegetable oil for deep frying

Directions:
  1. Cut the block of mozzarella into 1/4 inch sticks and set aside in refrigerator.
  2. Mix egg up in a small dish and pour breadcrumbs into a separate dish
  3. Using tongs, roll the mozzarella in egg, then coat with breadcrumbs. Follow by rolling the coated sticks back in the egg and breadcrumbs again, taking care to not rub the first coating off. Set on a foil lined plate. When finished with all the sticks, place the plate in the refrigerator until the oil is ready to keep cold. This will help prevent the sticks from melting too quickly in the oil and oozing.
  4. Heat oil to 350-375 for deep frying
  5. Deep fry a few sticks at a time. When they float to the top, and are a nice golden-brown they're ready to come out. Keep an eye on the ends for oozing sticks and pull those out as soon as you can.
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Blackberry Cobbler


I was zooming through the produce section at Costco a couple weekends ago when I spotted a great deal on about 4 cups worth of blackberries. Of course, the first thing that popped into my head was cobbler!
Typically I take a couple cobbler recipes that I've collected over the years and 'borrow' techniques from each of them to create a yummy cobbler. This time I decided to find a new recipe and I think I've found a winner!

The recipe is here on Allrecipes.com and I adapted it just a little bit.

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar, divided
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons cold butter
  • Cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup boiling water
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 4 cups fresh blackberries, rinsed and drained

Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  2. In a large bowl, mix flour, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder, salt, and a couple dashes of cinnamon. Cut in butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add vanilla, then stir in 1/4 cup boiling water just until mixture is evenly moist.
  3. In a small cup, dissolve the cornstarch in cold water. Add blackberries, 1 cup sugar, lemon juice and the dissolved cornstarch/water mix to cast iron skillet and stir to incorporate. Bring the skillet to a boil, stirring frequently and cook just a couple minutes. Drop dough into the skillet by spoonfuls. Place skillet on the foil lined baking sheet.
  4. Bake 25 minutes in the preheated oven, until dough is golden brown.
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Saturday, April 4, 2009

Chicken Caesar Pita


I admit, I like to eat a Chili's - but pretty much only for their way-to-salty bottomless tortilla chips & salsa, and for their Chicken Caesar Pita. I made pita bread a couple months ago, and thought I'd give it another whirl, and attempt my own homemade version of the Chili's Chicken Caesar Pita recipe. Here's how I did it!

Ingredients for 2-3 Chicken Caesar Pitas:
  • Pita bread (recipe here)
  • 1 bunch of romaine lettuce
  • Your favorite creamy caesar dressing
  • 1 boneless skinless chicken breast
  • Lemon pepper & garlic salt or garlic pepper

Directions:
  1. Rinse and dry romaine lettuce. Chop into bite-sized pieces. Store in bowl in refrigerator for later.
  2. Rinse and dry chicken. Cut in half.
  3. If grilling: Sprinkle garlic salt & lemon pepper on chicken breasts and place on a hot grill and cook through.
  4. If using grill pan/broiler: Place PLAIN chicken into a lightly greased, hot grill pan. Cook on first side until halfway cooked. Flip the chicken. While second side cooks, sprinkle with garlic salt, lemon pepper. When nearly cooked through, flip another time, and sprinkle garlic salt and lemon pepper on the other side of the chicken. You can also finish in an oven heated to 350 (found doing this helps if grill pan begins to get really smoky).
  5. Let cooked chicken rest on cutting board. Slice into strips when it's cooled a bit.
  6. Toss the romaine with caesar dressing.
  7. Place pile of lettuce and a few strips of chicken on a warm pita, fold up like a taco and enjoy!

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