Monday, December 27, 2010

Skillet Toffee

Both of my husband's sisters received a box full of goodies this holiday season. The toffee here was one of those that I included. I found this recipe on thekitchn.com.

This recipe is pretty easy. And, it yields a lot (about 2 lbs). But, there are some things I learned after the fact that I wish I knew before I began the recipe. When I made this, I was also prepping caramel corn, peppermint patties, and snickerdoodles. So, my attention to frequent stirring at a constant speed and constant temperature was a bit lacking. And, this lack of attention resulted in a puddle of butter on top of the toffee when I poured it onto a pan to cool. So, next time I'll be heating the pot patiently on medium heat, and constantly stirring. That should help maintain the incorporation of the butter with the sugar.

The only modification I made to this is to swap the nuts for heath toffee bits, since I'm not a huge nut fan with my chocolate and toffee. I've seen M&Ms added, candy canes, and coconut added to the top of these too!

Ingredients:
  • 1 pound unsalted butter
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 8 ounces good quality semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1/3 cup (roughly) Heath Toffee Chips

Directions:
  1. Line the bottom and sides of a 10-inch x 15-inch baking sheet with parchment paper or use a silpat
  2. In a large cast iron skillet or nonstick pan, melt the butter over medium high heat. As the butter melts, stir in the sugar and salt. Continue stirring constantly and rapidly with a wooden spoon, keeping the sides of pan clean by brushing occasionally with a wet pastry brush. The mixture should bubble as you stir. Cook until the mixture turns a deep golden brown, taking care not to burn it. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla.
  3. Pour the mixture into the lined baking sheet. Allow to cool slightly, about 5 minutes, then sprinkle the mixture with the chocolate. When the chocolate looks glossy, spread it with an offset cake spatula or a wooden spatula, and sprinkle with the Heath crunch. Gently press the Heath into the chocolate with the palms of your hands.
  4. Cool completely (at least 6 hours) then break the toffee into chunks.
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Beef Empanadas from Leftover Pot Roast


I like making pot roast because I use the slow cooker, I can throw everything in, set it and forget it. But, Chris and I don't usually eat the entire pot roast in one night. The left overs will last us a couple of days. But, eating pot roast leftovers for more than a day is not usually something we end up doing...so, I decided to do something a bit different this last time, turning them into my version of beef empanadas.

The results were good! I served with salsa and spanish rice on the side. If I make them again, I will use a bit more taco seasoning to make them spicier. You can change up the spice level, moisture levels, cheese, and size easily. The ingriedients below yielded about 6 empanadas with leftover spicy beef mix.
These will freeze up wonderfully. Just prep them all the way to step 3 and freeze on a cookie sheet before moving to a ziploc bag.

Ingredients for roughly 6 empanadas:
  • 1 cup left over beef pot roast
  • 1 Tbs taco seasoning
  • 2 Tbs water (adjust based on how moist/dry the pot roast was)
  • 1/4 cup monterey jack cheese
  • 1 pre-made refrigerated pie crust cut into 5-inch rounds

Directions:
  1. Heat oven to 375. Add pot roast to a skillet and heat to medium high heat. When thoroughly heated add taco seasoning and water, adding a little more water & seasoning to compensate for pot roast that seems a bit more dried out. Stir until taco seasoning is incorporated.
  2. Roll out the pie crust and cut into 5-inch rounds. Fill the center of each round with 1-2 tablespoons of beef and 1 tablespoon of cheese.
  3. Fold dough over and use a fork to crimp the edges. Poke each empanada two times with a fork to create steam vents.
  4. Cook until golden brown, about 10 minutes
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Chicken Shawarma


Chris and I have been frequenting a restaurant in Madison called the Shish Cafe for their delicious tabbouleh, hummus, baba ganouj, and shawarma. One night, when a craving hit but the place was closed I pulled together a quick shawarma based on this Cooking Light recipe for Chicken Shawarma. The only change I made was keeping the chicken breast whole vs. prepping into strips then threading onto a skewer. I used a grill pan to cook the chicken and when finished grilling, let it rest, and thinly slice.

The recipe was pretty easy, and tasted great, but I have to say the Shish Cafe still wins...But, this is another tasty chicken recipe to add to my arsenal.

Ingredients from Cooking Light:
Chicken:
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 2 teaspoons extravirgin olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into 16 (3-inch) strips
Sauce:
  • 1/2 cup plain 2% reduced-fat Greek yogurt (such as Fage)
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 garlic clove, minced

Directions:
  1. Preheat grill to medium-high heat.
  2. To prepare chicken, combine first 6 ingredients in a medium bowl. Add chicken to bowl; toss well to coat. Let stand at room temperature 20 minutes.
  3. To prepare sauce, combine yogurt and next 4 ingredients (through 1 garlic clove), stirring with a whisk.
  4. Thread 2 chicken strips onto each of 8 (12-inch) skewers. Place kebabs on a grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 4 minutes on each side or until done.
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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Caramel Corn

Alongside the granola and cookies I made last Christmas to send to family, I made homemade caramel corn for the first time. The recipe came from Annies-Eats.com, yet another trusted recipe source. I didn't change a thing!

I haven't made it again because honestly, I'd end up eating it all myself. But, some tips if I do make it again...1) work quickly, 2) make sure your tossing bowls are big enough, 3) double the caramel recipe if you like lotsa caramel (I like mine extra caramel-y). Other than that, this recipe is great!

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup popcorn kernels, unpopped
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • ½ cup light corn syrup
  • 2 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions:
  1. Pop popcorn using your preferred method. I used a very large stock pot with a little oil in the bottom, lid on the top slightly ajar, gently shaking the pot back and forth to prevent scorching. Place the popped popcorn in a very large bowl (or two large bowls). Make sure there is enough room in your bowls for tossing the popcorn.
  2. Preheat the oven to 250° F. Meanwhile, to make the caramel, melt the butter in a 2-quart saucepan set over medium heat. Once the butter is melted, mix in the corn syrup, brown sugar and salt. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring frequently.
  3. Once the mixture reaches a boil, let the mixture continue to boil for 5 more minutes without stirring. Remove the mixture from the heat, stir in the baking soda and vanilla extract. The mixture will bubble up and become frothy. Pour the caramel sauce over the popcorn in the bowl(s) and toss to coat thoroughly. I like silicon spatulas for this.
  4. Spread the popcorn evenly onto two large baking sheets lined with parchment paper. (It is okay if there are some clumps of caramel throughout. It will melt and become better spread out while baking.) Bake for 40-50 minutes, removing from the oven to toss/stir every 10 minutes. After 40 minutes, test a cooled piece of popcorn. If it is not completely crispy (i.e. still slightly mushy when you bite it), bake for 10 minutes more.
  5. Remove the baking sheets to a wire rack and allow popcorn to cool completely before breaking apart for serving or packaging.
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Fruit & Nut Granola


Last Christmas, I packaged up some cookies, caramel corn, and homemade fruit and nut granola to send to family. I loved how easy it was to pull together this delicious granola. I've made it several times since then, and always tweak the add-ins. The original recipe came from Allrecipes.com: Megan's Granola
While the recipe on allrecipes.com contained slightly different add-ins, I used the same general base of and only omitted the sunflower seeds and maple syrup.
The granola in the picture above contained dried cherries & cranberries, pecans and almonds. A more recent batch had cornflakes added to it! The great thing about granola is you can change it up however you want. The key is to go low and slow in the oven when toasting! And, it'll clump as it cools. So don't worry if it's not clumping while it's in the oven.

Here's my recipe, adapted from Megan's Granola
Ingredients:
  • 8 cups rolled oats
  • 1 1/2 cups wheat germ
  • 1 1/2 cups oat bran
  • 1 cup finely chopped almonds
  • 1 cup finely chopped pecans
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups dried cherries and sweetened dried cranberries

Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F (165 degrees C). Line two large baking sheets with parchment or aluminum foil.
  2. Combine the oats, wheat germ, oat bran, almonds, pecans in a large bowl. Stir together the salt, brown sugar, honey, oil, cinnamon, and vanilla in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then pour over the dry ingredients, and stir to coat. Spread the mixture out evenly on the baking sheets.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven until crispy and toasted, about 20-30 minutes. Stir once halfway through. Cool, then stir in the raisins or cranberries before storing in an airtight container.
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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Summer Zucchini Pasta with Pesto

This year is the first summer that I grew zucchini. Well, I've learned a lesson...zucchini plants put out a LOT of zucchini! So, I've had to search for a nice array of zucchini recipes to get us through the plentiful zucchini plant growing in my garden.

I found this recipe on epicurious.com. I liked this recipe immediately because it had such a short ingredient list, and I had all the ingredients on hand. I think you could add ingredients like mushrooms or tomatoes to this, or even omit some if you don't have something on hand. It comes together quickly and isn't a heavy meal.

Recipe, courtesy of epicurious.com

Ingredients
  • 6 bacon slices
  • 1 pound fusilli
  • 3 ears corn, kernels cut from cob
  • 1 1/2 pounds zucchini, coarsely chopped (1/2-inch pieces)
  • 1 (5- to 7-ounce) container basil pesto

Directions
  1. Cook bacon in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat, turning occasionally, until crisp. Drain on paper towels; discard drippings from skillet.
  2. Meanwhile, cook fusilli in a pasta pot of boiling salted water (3 tablespoons salt for 6 quart water) until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta-cooking water, then add vegetables to pasta in pot and cook, partially covered, 2 minutes (water will stop boiling). Drain.
  3. Add pasta with vegetables to skillet along with pesto and 1/4 cup reserved cooking water and toss. Season with salt and moisten with additional cooking water if necessary.
  4. Top with crumbled bacon and a generous amount of freshly ground pepper
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Bacon, Broccoli, Cheddar Quiche


Quiche makes a great brunch, lunch or dinner. It's easy to pull together with leftover ingredients with whatever is on hand. Extremely versatile and is something that you can pull out for guests, or just for a quick easy dinner. There are a couple of restaurants around Madison that do quiche really well. And inevitably when I eat there I end up craving the quiche just a couple days later. So, I figured I should add a recipe to my repertoire. Allrecipes.com has a highly rated recipe that I gave a try, and it makes a great starting point! Modifications I made were to the ingredients. I added bacon to the recipe and swapped mozzarella for cheddar.

This particular combination is one of my favorites. However when I make this again, I'll probably go a little lighter on the bacon, and trim the broccoli into smaller pieces.

Other combinations that I've seen work well in quiche:
- portabella mushrooms, red peppers and fontina
- ham and swiss
- black bean and pepper jack
- red pepper and mozzarella
The combinations are really limitless!

Here's the recipe, courtesy of allrecipes.com
Ingredients:
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2 cups chopped fresh broccoli
  • 2 slices cooked bacon, crumbled (this isn't in the original recipe, but if you add, you should add bacon into the crust when adding the veggies)
  • 1 (9 inch) unbaked pie crust
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (I swapped for cheddar)
  • 4 eggs, well beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted

Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Over medium-low heat melt butter in a large saucepan. Add onions, garlic and broccoli. Cook slowly, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are soft. Spoon vegetables into crust and sprinkle with cheese. Add crumbled bacon here.
  3. Combine eggs and milk. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in melted butter. Pour egg mixture over vegetables and cheese.
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until center has set.
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Saturday, October 2, 2010

"Homemade" "Donuts"

Okay, I probably shouldn't even blog these because they're only partially homemade, and they're not really donuts. I don't even think I can really call this a recipe. But, they are SO GOOD. Like, make you drool thinking about them good. I learned this "recipe" for "homemade" "donuts" from my Grandma. She used a fry daddy almost exclusively for making these. And french fries.

Essentially what you're seeing above are powdered sugar covered fried biscuit dough. I've tried making these more homemade from scratch, and more like real donuts, but nothing I've done can even compare. I think that the results are so good that this is one thing that I can keep in my repertoire as-is. I'm not sure anything else can really compare.

"Ingredients"
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • Store-bought buttermilk biscuit dough (I like using homestyle buttermilk biscuits)
  • 1/2 cup to 1 cup powdered sugar

Directions
  1. Heat 2 inches of oil in a large pot on medium-high heat. Test the heat by dropping a very tiny piece of biscuit dough in the oil. As soon as it starts to bubble, it's hot enough.
  2. Quarter the biscuits
  3. Drop biscuits carefully in hot oil. Remove when evenly browned, draining on paper towels
  4. Toss warm donuts in ziploc bag filled with powedered sugar
  5. Serve warm!
  6. .....Drool.....
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Carving Board Chicken Pesto Melt


As I'm sitting here this afternoon trying to figure out what to make for dinner without having to go to the grocery, what I keep coming back to is this sandwich I made earlier this summer and I'm wishing I had all the ingredients on hand to make it! The easiest way to make this sandwich is to use two ready-made things; prepared pesto sauce which you can find in your refrigerated section, and Oscar Mayer Carving Board Chicken. By all means if you have homemade pesto on hand or leftover chicken from dinner last night, use that. Using the Carving Board Chicken is a super convenient alternative to buying a whole rotisserie chicken, or grilling, roasting, or poaching a chicken breast just for a sandwich. The meat itself tastes more like it came from a rotisserie chicken, and looks like you carved it yourself. Full disclosure here - I work for Oscar Mayer, however I am sharing my sandwich recipe with you because I think this product is really awesome. Even my husband - a self declared non cold-cut eater, thinks this stuff is pretty good! Oakley likes it too.

Carving Board is pretty new - we just launched it this summer - and if you're curious, here's the link to the product site: http://www.kraftbrands.com/oscarmayer/

The other important ingredients in this recipe are using fresh mozzarella sliced relatively thin to get that melty cheese effect, and use the best tomatoes you can find. I used regular old wheat bread to make this sandwich because that's all I had, but upping the bread to a ciabatta would be yummy too. Even using foccacia as your sandwich bread would add a nice twist.

When cooking the sandwich, you can use a panini press, or you can grill it like a grilled cheese. The trick to melty cheese, and a perfectly browned exterior is to cook the sandwiches on medium heat vs. high. Too high a temp and you'll burn the bread before your cheese melts!

Ingredients (2 sandwiches)
  • 4 slices bread
  • Softened butter
  • 2-4 TBSP Pesto
  • 1 small tomato sliced
  • 4 slices fresh mozzarella
  • Oscar Mayer Carving Board Chicken

Directions
  1. Butter 1 side of each slice of bread
  2. Spread pesto evenly across the non-buttered side of each slice of bread
  3. Top the bread slices with mozzarella, chicken, tomato
  4. Grill on medium heat until sandwich is browned, and cheese is melty, about 3-5 minutes on each side
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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Best Damn Chocolate Birthday Cake EVER. Period.

Today is my birthday. So, I baked myself my favorite cake combination...chocolate with white icing. Prior to today, I hadn't really found a reliably good, sufficiently chocolatey cake that I loved. Well, thanks to Ina Garten (or Hershey's depending on your source), and Penzey's Natural Cocoa, I have now found the cake. Make this chocolate cake. NOW. You won't regret it. Results were intensely chocolate, fluffy and moist. It couldn't get better than this.

As for the icing, I like vanilla on my chocolate cake. And I especially like cream cheese icing. So, the recipe I used was pretty easy, and what I think a classic cream cheese icing should be like. This cake though, could easily be taken to decadent by the use of a fudgy buttercream too.

This cake made my day today. Now only if it'll do the dishes...

Chocolate Cake Recipe from Ina Garten - Beatty Cake or Hershey's Black Magic Cake (they're the same!)

Ingredients:
  • Butter, for greasing the pans
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cups good cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk, shaken
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee

Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter 2 (8-inch) round cake pans. Line with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pans.
  2. Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. With mixer still on low, add the coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.
  3. Place 1 layer, flat side up, on a flat plate or cake pedestal. With a knife or offset spatula, spread the top with frosting. Place the second layer on top, rounded side up, and spread the frosting evenly on the top and sides of the cake.


Cream Cheese Icing, adapted from Allrecipes.com
This recipe was adapted from the Cream Cheese Icing in the link above. The first comment in the reviews provided different ratios of cream cheese, butter, and powdered sugar, which I followed. I've posted the modified recipe below, which makes enough to generously ice a 2-layer cake.

Ingredients:
  • 2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Directions:
  1. In a medium bowl, cream together the cream cheese and butter until creamy.
  2. Mix in the vanilla, then gradually stir in the confectioners' sugar. Store in the refrigerator after use.


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Sunday, August 15, 2010

Roasted Corn and Poblano Chili Salsa

One of the salsas I've recently discovered at Chipotle is their roasted corn salsa. My Chipotle Burrito Bowl night just wouldn't be complete without it, so this is my attempt at recreating it. I'd say it's a pretty good attempt!

I used the broiler to roast the corn and poblano. When roasting, you should watch your pepper and corn very closesly, turning frequently so that you don't have any overly-roasted spots. If fresh sweet corn isn't available, I would use frozen corn in its place.

I halved the recipe I found online, and it made a couple cups of salsa. Plenty of leftovers!

Here's the recipe from Chiptolefan.com - Chipotle Corn Salsa Recipe

Ingredients (I halved this and still made a ton!)
  • 6 Ears Sweet Yellow Corn
  • 2 Poblano Chilies
  • 1/2 Red Onion
  • 2 Jalapenos
  • 1/3 Cup Chopped Cilantro
  • 1 Tablespoon Lime Juice
  • Salt and Pepper to Taste

Directions:
  1. Roast the corn and Poblano chilies on a grill or BBQ and let cool. (I used my broiler, watching them closely for 5-10 minutes)
  2. Cut the corn off the cob.
  3. Dice the Poblano chilies, onion, and red jalapenos.
  4. Combine all the ingredients and season to taste.
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Spicy Red Tomato Salsa

This salsa is not meant to be a copycat recipe to Chipotle's Red Tomatillo Salsa. However, this salsa makes a good enough of a substitute and went perfectly on my recreated Chipotle Burrito Bowls! This recipe comes to me courtesy of the Pioneer Woman. I've had this one bookmarked for months. I figured that I had some time to kill on a lazy Sunday, and with pre-season football on, I could make a ton for us to snack on all day, as well as eat for dinner.

This recipe is very similar to my favorite salsas at mexican restaurants. Great tomato flavor, nice kick with a touch of garlic. Not too much onion or cilantro. Give it a whirl! But maybe cut it in half if you don't want an entire vat full of salsa to work through.

Here's the recipe: Restaurant Style Salsa from the Pioneer Woman

Ingredients:
  • 1 can (28 Ounce) Whole Tomatoes With Juice
  • 2 cans (10 Ounce) Rotel (diced Tomatoes And Green Chilies)
  • ¼ cups Chopped Onion
  • 1 clove Garlic, Minced
  • 1 whole Jalapeno, Quartered And Sliced Thin
  • ¼ teaspoons Sugar
  • ¼ teaspoons Salt
  • ¼ teaspoons Ground Cumin
  • ½ cups Cilantro
  • ½ whole Lime Juice

Directions:
  1. Combine whole tomatoes, Rotel, onion, jalapeno, garlic, sugar, salt, cumin, lime juice, and cilantro in a blender or food processor. Pulse until you get the salsa to the consistency you’d like.
  2. Test seasonings with a tortilla chip and adjust as needed.
  3. Refrigerate salsa for at least an hour.
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Chipotle Mexican Grill Burrito Bowl Night


I think that my husband and I have eaten at Chipotle once a week for the last six weeks. The extremely fresh and flavorful ingredients makes it irresistible. Well, I thought that I'd try to create our Chipotle experience at home, and tonight, I think I landed pretty close!

Here is what this meal consisted of:

Spicy Red Tomato Salsa
Roasted Corn and Poblano Chili Pepper Salsa
Pico De Gallo Salsa
Guacamole
Cilantro Lime Rice
Spicy, Smoky Black Beans
Monterrey Jack/Cheddar Cheese
Romaine Lettuce
Tortilla Chips

There are a few things in that list that I pulled together without a true "recipe" and I'll give a brief overview of my approach below. The other recipes are linked above. Enjoy!!

Guacamole:
I often make Guacamole with just an Avocado, Lime, and salt (sometimes I even use seasoning salt). But, to emulate the Chipotle restaurant guacamole, you should mash avocado, add in chopped red onion, minced jalapeno, lime juice (typically 1/2 lime per avocado) and a little cilantro. Salt to taste. I didn't add measurements because key to this is add as much or as little of each ingredient as you like. Taste as you go!

Cilantro Lime Rice:
Cook Basmati or Texmati rice according to the directions. Once cooked, fluff, add in 2-3 TBSP of vegetable oil, juice from 1/2 a lime, and 1 TBSP of chopped cilantro. Salt to taste.

Spicy, Smoky Black Beans:
For convenience, I opt to use canned black beans. To prepare for this use, I pour the entire can, juice and all, into a small pot and heat it up. Season with 1/4 to 1/8th tsp of Chipotle Chili Pepper.


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Sunday, August 1, 2010

Mexican Chicken Soup from Ina Garten


I've made this soup multiple times now, and am always amazed at how easy it comes together and how delicious it tastes. You can play with the ingredients a bit...I like to add frozen corn to mine, and want to try adding a can of drained and rinsed black beans. In fact, I could see making this a vegetarian soup by using vegetable stock, and black beans as the protein source.

I topped mine with cheddar, sour cream, and diced avocado, and a few crushed tortillas. A yummy soup that I make, even in the summer.

The recipe as written makes a LOT of soup. I typically halve mine, otherwise I end up with bowls and bowls that I can't consume. Here's the recipe in its original proportions, courtesy of the Food Network, and Ina Garten.

Ingredients:
  • 4 split (2 whole) chicken breasts, bone in, skin on
  • Good olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups chopped onions (2 onions)
  • 1 cup chopped celery (2 stalks)
  • 2 cups chopped carrots (4 carrots)
  • 4 large cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 1/2 quarts chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes in puree, crushed
  • 2 to 4 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander seed
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves, optional
  • 6 (6-inch) fresh white corn tortillas

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Place the chicken breasts skin side up on a sheet pan. Rub with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until done. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, discard the skin and bones, and shred the meat. Cover and set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add the onions, celery, and carrots and cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, or until the onions start to brown. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the chicken stock, tomatoes with their puree, jalapenos, cumin, coriander, 1 tablespoon salt (depending on the saltiness of the chicken stock), 1 teaspoon pepper, and the cilantro, if using.
  4. Cut the tortillas in 1/2, then cut them crosswise into 1/2-inch strips and add to the soup. Bring the soup to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 25 minutes.
  5. Add the shredded chicken and season to taste. Serve the soup hot topped with sliced avocado, a dollop of sour cream, grated Cheddar cheese, and broken tortilla chips.
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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Chocolate Doughnut Holes


Another Smitten Kitchen recipe, and another winner. This doughnut was more like a dessert than a breakfast treat. If you take brownie and deep fry it, then drench it in a glaze, you'd get these doughnuts.

I halved the recipe, and made my own buttermilk. In hindsight, I don't think I let my homemade buttermilk curdle quite long enough before using it. What can I say, I was impatient to get these made and in my mouth! A few other notes - this is a very stick batter, but it helps to keep it chilled to form the holes. I used a cookie dough scoop to quickly form the doughnut holes. While that worked well to quickly form them, they turned out a bit too big after deep frying....definitely a 2-3 bite sized hole. And, the deep frying was a bit of a challenge. Given that the dough was nearly black to start with, it was hard to tell when they'd cooked all the way! You can't rely on the typical doneness measure of "golden brown" doughnuts or french fries, or other yummy deep fried things...

Overall, delicious!!

Here's the recipe, adapted from the Smitten Kitchen
Doughnuts:
Ingredients for 4 dozen 1.5-inch holes:
  • 2 3/4 cups (12 3/8 ounces or 352 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (3 ounces or 90 grams) unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa
  • 2 teaspoons (about 3/8 ounce or 10 grams) baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon (about 1/8 ounces or 4 grams) salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 (10 5/8 ounces or 300 grams) cups sugar
  • 1/3 cup (2 7/8 ounce or 84 grams) sour cream or buttermilk
  • 3 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces or 42 grams) butter, melted and cooled a bit
  • Your fat of choice for frying

Directions:
  1. Whisk flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt together in a large bowl. In a medium one, whisk eggs, sugar, sour cream or buttermilk and butter. Stir wet ingredients into dry until well blended. Chill batter until cold, at least 1 hour and up to 3.
  2. Working quickly using a small cookie scoop, scoop out the doughnut holes. Chill the dough if you find it becomes too sticky. Alternatively, using a generous amount of flour on your surface, pat the dough flat into about 1/2 inch thick, then using a 1.25 - 1.5 inch cutter, quickly cut out the holes, reform the scraps and keep cutting until the dough is all used up.
  3. Prepare your fryer or fill a 5 to 6-quart with 4 inches of oil. Heat to 375°F (190°C). Suggestion for figuring out when they're done is to recognize the very subtle change in color. Test a scrap to get a feel for it!
  4. Drain doughnut holes on a stack of paper towels. Once cool, roll in glaze (below) and let drain and dry on cooling racks.

Glaze:
Ingredients:
  • 8 ounces powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons water, milk or buttermilk
  • 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:
  1. Whisk together until smooth. If you need it thinner, add more water, milk or buttermilk, a few drops at a time.
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Saturday, July 17, 2010

Summer Raspberry Cream Scones

I just ate two of the above pictured scones... I.am.in.heaven ....This is what summer is all about. When perfectly ripe and delicious farmer's market raspberries are crafted into a light and fluffy treat.

I live in Madison, WI. And, it's generally accepted in this city that Lazy Jane's Cafe & Bakery makes the best scones in the entire city. I've made scones in the past, but they've always been dry. A bit boring. And, nothing like Lazy Jane's. Theirs are moist and light, and packed with flavor. But, I don't live anywhere near Lazy Jane's. So, naturally I scoured the internet for their recipe. Given that they don't appear to even have their own website, my attempts at locating a Lazy Jane's Scone recipe were unsuccessful. But, I figured that if anyone in the blog world had a great scone recipe, it was the Smitten Kitchen.

Clearly she had made other scone recipes too. But, the Dreamy Cream Scone stood out as a clear favorite of hers, and a potential contendor for a Lazy Jane's competitor. Simple ingredient list, simple directions. Oh yeah, and the use of cream (hello!).

This recipe is phenomenal. I followed this recipe almost to a T, only tweaking the fruit. My farmer's market berries were certainly delicious, so I added a whole cup. Thinking that through a little better would have been a good idea. The berries added a significant amount of liquid to the batter, making them tough to shape and handle. Next time around I'll lower the amount of cream and/or increase the amount of flour. But, that aside, this recipe is extremely easy. Just work quickly to keep that butter chilled, don't handle the dough too much and you'll get a light, fluffy scone.

I just might have to make these tomorrow...since they're clearly not going to last much longer in this house!

Ingredients for 8 scones, via the Smitten Kitchen:
  • 2 cups (10 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour, preferably a low-protein brand such as Gold Medal or Pillsbury
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 5 tablespoons chilled, unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup currants (I used fresh raspberries, rinsed clean)
  • 1 cup heavy cream

Directions:
  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425°F.
  2. Place flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in large bowl or work bowl of food processor fitted with steel blade. Whisk together or pulse six times.
  3. If making by hand, use two knives, a pastry blender or your fingertips and quickly cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal, with a few slightly larger butter lumps. Stir in currants. If using food processor, remove cover and distribute butter evenly over dry ingredients. Cover and pulse 12 times, each pulse lasting 1 second. Add currants and pulse one more time. Transfer dough to large bowl.
  4. Stir in heavy cream with a rubber spatula or fork until dough begins to form, about 30 seconds.
  5. Transfer dough and all dry, floury bits to countertop and knead dough by hand just until it comes together into a rough, sticky ball, 5 to 10 seconds. Form scones by quickly pressing into a circular shape and cutting into 8 wedges with a pizza cutter or pastry scraper. Place wedges on ungreased baking sheet and bake until scone tops are light brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool on wire rack for at least 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.
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Crunchy Greek Salad


I entertained last weekend for some friends I work with and this is one of the dishes I served alongside the Chicken Gyros & Tzatziki on this blog. I chose this salad because 1) I had most of the ingredients on hand, 2) it's beautiful and colorful, 3) I knew it was going to be HOT outside, and a cool salad sounded refreshing and 4) I thought it sounded good! This is super simple to modify with what you have on hand. You can top it with any sort of vinaigrette-type dressing and it'd make a delicious summer salad. Or, even top with grilled chicken for a complete meal. I used purchased Greek vinaigrette to top this salad...I was making a lot of other things from scratch for this little get together, and perfecting a Greek dressing for this wasn't something I felt like doing at the moment. However, if you are looking for a good Greek dressing, I have made the "Absolutely Fabulous Greek House Dressing" recipe on allrecipes.com in the past, and it would do well on this salad.

Ingredients (to easily serve 8-10 healthy portions):
  • 3-4 heads Romaine Lettuce, washed and dried, chopped
  • 1/2 Hot house cucumber, peeled and diced (alternatively, use a regular cucumber that you've de-seeded)
  • 2 tomatoes, diced, and most of seeds, juice removed
  • 1 roasted red pepper, diced
  • 1 can of artichoke hearts, rinsed, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/2 very thinly sliced red onion
  • Feta cheese
  • Favorite Greek dressing

Directions:
  1. Thoroughly wash and dry the romaine lettuce. Chop into bite-sized pieces.
  2. Dice remaining ingredients and add to romaine
  3. Toss with feta cheese
  4. Top with light coating of dressing just before serving. Otherwise, chill in refrigerator until ready.
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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Rosemary Ranch Chicken Kebabs

I'm always looking for recipes that'd do well on the grill, and the Rosemary Ranch Chicken Kebabs on allrecipes.com is a nice recipe to add to the repertoire.

This came together easily with ingredients I had on hand, with the exception of the fresh rosemary. Since I didn't have fresh on hand, I used dried, making sure to crush it a bit before incorporating it into the marinade. I'm interested to try this one with fresh instead, as I'm sure it'll round out the flavor of the marinade even more.

As you can see, I served this with grilled asparagus, drizzled in balsamic vinaigrette prior to grilling, and grilled mushrooms, coated in a little bit of the marinade before grilling.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup ranch dressing
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper, or to taste
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar, or to taste (optional)
  • 5 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - cut into 1 inch cubes

Directions:
  1. In a medium bowl, stir together the olive oil, ranch dressing, Worcestershire sauce, rosemary, salt, lemon juice, white vinegar, pepper, and sugar. Let stand for 5 minutes. Place chicken in the bowl, and stir to coat with the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat the grill for medium-high heat. Thread chicken onto skewers and discard marinade.
  3. Lightly oil the grill grate. Grill skewers for 8 to 12 minutes, or until the chicken is no longer pink in the center, and the juices run clear.
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Sunday, June 13, 2010

Baked Creamy Chicken Taquitos


Alright, I owe an explanation for the lack of posts recently. In the last 6 weeks, I've had only two weekends without visitors or in town. So, I'm just now finding the energy to do an update!

My search continues for good freezer recipes, and this one does not fall short. Because my husband works from home, he's often left to fend for lunch from our fridge and pantry. This recipe is something I can prep for the freezer, and he can just heat up. A nice change from the usual PB&J. The recipe comes from Pennies on a Platter.

Ingredients for 8 taquitos:
  • 3 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup green salsa
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lime juice (juice from half a lime)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 Tbsp chopped cilantro
  • 2 Tbsp sliced green onions
  • 2 cups shredded cooked chicken
  • 1 cup shredded Mexican flavored cheese
  • small flour or corn tortillas
  • kosher salt
  • cooking spray

Directions:
  1. Preheat your oven to 425˚F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the cream cheese, salsa, lime juice, ground cumin, chili powder, onion powder and garlic. Once combined, stir in the cilantro and green onions. Add the chicken and cheese; mix thoroughly. (If you decided to prep this in advance, refrigerate the mixture at this point until ready to continue.)
  3. Working with a few tortillas at a time, heat them in the microwave between two paper towels until they are soft enough to roll (about 20 – 30 seconds).
  4. Spoon 2-3 Tablespoons of the chicken mixture onto the lower third of a tortilla. Roll the tortilla as tightly as you can.
  5. Place the rolled tortilla seam side down on the baking sheet. Repeat with remaining tortillas until the mixture is gone. Make sure the taquitos are not touching each other. Spray the tops lightly with cooking spray and sprinkle with kosher salt.
  6. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes or until crisp and golden.
  7. Serve with salsa, sour cream or guacamole.

**To freeze: Before baking, chill the taquitos on the baking sheet in the fridge. Once completely cooled, wrap each taquito individually with plastic wrap. Place in a labeled freezer bag and freeze. To bake a frozen taquito (no need to thaw first): Preheat oven to 425˚F and bake for 20 minutes.
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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Spaghetti & Meatballs

I love spaghetti and meatballs, yet I haven't really tried to find a 'go-to' recipe for a sauce and meatballs from scratch. I tend to rely on browning ground beef in skillet and then adding jarred sauce for a quick meal. BUT, with this recipe, the days of jarred sauce are pretty much over! This recipe is so easy, there's no reason for me NOT to make this!

The recipe comes from Annie's Eats, the always-trusty source of good recipes. As she mentions in her commentary, this makes a LOT of meatballs and sauce. Since I'm on this freezer-friendly food kick, this is perfect. I made the recipe exactly as written and it all came together very easily. I formed about 30 meatballs using a 1.5-inch cookie scoop. The recipe calls for cooking the meatballs in the sauce. Since the plan was to freeze most of the meatballs, I cooked only the portion we wanted to eat for the night. The rest I froze individually (loosely covered on a cookie sheet) before placing into a ziploc freezer bag. After Chris and I ate what we wanted of the sauce, I portioned the rest into containers that would hold 2-3 servings and froze.

We recently made spaghetti from the frozen sauce and meatballs. To cook the frozen, raw meatballs I heated the oven to 400, placed the frozen meatballs on a cookie sheet and baked until cooked through, then finished them off in the reheated sauce.

Give this recipe a try. It will not disappoint, and will leave plenty for you to enjoy at a later date!

Recipe on Annie's Eats: Spaghetti & Meatballs

Ingredients:
For the sauce:
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (28 oz.) can tomato puree
  • 1 (28 oz.) can tomato sauce
  • 2 tsp. dried parsley
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 1/2 cup of water (or more)
For the meatballs:
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs, divided
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp. dried parsley
  • 1/2 cup grated Romano cheese
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 lb. ground beef, pork and veal mixture (or 1 lb. ground sirloin)
For serving: Freshly cooked spaghetti, Shredded Parmesan cheese, Minced fresh basil

Directions:
  1. To make the sauce, heat the olive oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion to the pot and saute until tender, 5-8 minutes. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, stirring, about 1 minute.
  2. Add the tomato puree, tomato sauce, parsley, basil, oregano, salt and sugar.
  3. Add water to thin the sauce out to your desired consistency (I would estimate that I add about 1/2 cup). Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer. Let simmer for at least 2 hours.
  4. To make the meatballs, in a medium mixing bowl combine 1/4 cup of the bread crumbs with the milk. Let the bread crumbs soak for 10 minutes.
  5. Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl and mix thoroughly. Form the mixture into meatballs
  6. Add the meatballs to the simmering sauce about 45 minutes before the sauce will be finished cooking. Cover and let simmer until the meatballs are cooked through, 35-45 minutes.
  7. Transfer freshly cooked pasta to serving dishes. Top each serving with sauce and meatballs. Garnish with shredded Parmesan and fresh basil, if desired.
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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Herb-rubbed Grilled Chicken with Creamy Orzo

Annie's Eats is a very reliable recipe source for me. And this recipe is no exception. The chicken cooked up beautifully, and the orzo was creamy as promised. And, it all came together quickly with minimal pots and pans required. The only change I had to make was subbing the Herbs de Provence with what I had on hand - I just sprinkled on oregano, parsley and basil.

Here's the recipe as seen on Annie's Eats: Herb Rubbed Grilled Chicken with Creamy Orzo

Ingredients:
  • 8 oz. orzo pasta, uncooked2 chicken breasts, butterflied into halves (4 pieces total)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tsp. Herbes de Provence
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes, with juices
  • 2 cups broccoli florets
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
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Monday, April 26, 2010

Baked Penne with Chicken, Artichokes, Sun Dried Tomatoes, and Mushrooms


Alright, not the best photo. You can't really make out all the goodness that's in this pasta dish. But, clearly you can see, it is CREAMY. I set out to find recipes that I could make big batches of and freeze half for later. I found a great selection on MarthaStewart.com, and this is one of those recipes. You can find the original here: Baked Penne with Chicken and Sun-dried Tomatoes

I pretty much stuck to the recipe, but added in a can of quartered artichoke hearts, and subbed mozzarella for the provolone (I just didn't have any on hand). The artichokes seemed fitting to go with all the other ingredients. The recipe reminds me of the "Pasta Milano" dish served at Romano's Macaroni Grill.

As far as freezing goes, it couldn't be easier. I bought cheap tin baking pans from the grocery, filled with half of the mixture, cooled in the fridge, covered with foil once cool, wrote the directions on the top with a sharpie, and popped in the freezer. We ate the freezer version recently, and it took a while to cook (as you bake it from frozen), but was as good as it was when I made the original batch.

If you are interested in making this and NOT freezing it, I suggest halving the recipe, as this recipe as written will make enough to feed a small army.

Recipe from MarthaStewart.com: Baked Penne with Chicken and Sun-dried Tomatoes

Ingredients:
  • 6 tablespoons butter, plus more for baking dishes
  • coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 pound penne rigate
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (8 ounces each), halved horizontally
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 cups whole milk
  • 10 ounces white mushrooms, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded provolone (6 ounces)
  • 1 cup finely grated Parmesan (4 ounces)

Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 400. Butter two shallow 2-quart baking dishes. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta 3 minutes short of al dente; drain pasta, and return to pot.
  2. In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium-high. Season chicken with salt and pepper; cook until opaque throughout, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Halve each piece lengthwise, then thinly slice crosswise.
  3. In a 5-quart Dutch oven or heavy pot, melt butter over medium. Add flour and garlic; cook, whisking, 1 minute. While whisking, gradually add milk; bring to a simmer, whisking frequently. Add mushrooms and tomatoes; cook 1 minute. Off heat, gradually stir in provolone and 1/2 cup Parmesan.
  4. Add chicken and pasta to pot; season with salt and pepper. Divide pasta mixture between baking dishes; sprinkle each with cup Parmesan.
  5. Bake, uncovered, until top is golden and bubbling, about 25 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
  6. For Freezing, Prepare through step 4; let cool. Cover tightly with foil, and freeze, up to 3 months.
  7. Preheat oven to 400, and bake (still covered in foil) on a rimmed baking sheet until center is hot, about 1 1/2 hours. Remove foil; bake until golden, about 15 minutes more.
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Sunday, April 25, 2010

FINALLY! An update



Alright, my last post was nearly 5 months ago. I have not been a good blogger! I promise, I can explain. First and foremost, see the above photo. THAT is my new kitchen! We started construction on our kitchen January 4th and therefore, I was without kitchen for several weeks. I didn't really think you wanted me to blog about the soup I microwaved, or the grilled cheese I made in an electric skillet. At any rate, the kitchen renovation is finally over, and I'm happily cooking away in my new digs.

Secondly, my computer died on me! My screen broke in mid-December, and so I broke down and bought a new one in early January. Unfortunately many of the recipes I was planning to blog about in December are still trapped on the old machine. Someday, I'll transfer them over. So if you see any Christmas recipes in July, this explains it.

That said, hope you enjoy some of the recipes I'll be blogging in the future. I may be a bit sporadic with my entries, but hang in there with me!

Oh and if you wondered what the 'before' looked like, here you go - feast your eyes on this 1988 beauty!


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