Sunday, January 29, 2012

Pasta & Broccoli

I've declared my love for broccoli and pasta on this blog before. Now, I'm really taking things to the next level. Carb loading and broccoli consumption at its finest.

I saw this recipe on pinterest.com. It originates from SkinnyTaste.com. So, it gets bonus points for being healthy, coming in at just under 300 calories/serving. I also like it because I can make everything in one pot. And, it is just plain yummy.

Honestly, next time I'll add a bit more parmesan cheese. The quantity called for in the recipe is barely discernable amid the flavor of the broccoli. Other things to note - DONT add the broccoli at the beginning of cooking the noodles. Wait until they're almost done, then toss in the broccoli, bring it back to a boil and let it cook for just a few minutes. Otherwise, you'll get boring, mushy broccoli. It also needs a healthy pinch of salt and good few grinds of cracked black pepper to punch it up.

Here's the recipe from SkinnyTaste.com:
Ingredients:

  • 12 oz uncooked pasta
  • 6 1/2 cups fresh broccoli florets, no stems
  • 5 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan or Romano
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • salt and fresh cracked pepper


Directions:

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. When water boils, add pasta. About halfway through, add broccoli and cook until noodles and broccoli are al dente. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water and set aside. Drain pasta and broccoli.
  2. Return the pot to the stove and set heat to medium. Add 1 tbsp olive oil, when hot, add garlic. Cook until golden (don't burn!), reduce flame to low and add pasta back to the pot. Mix well, add remaining olive oil, grated cheese, salt and pepper to taste mixing well and smashing any large pieces of broccoli to break up.
  3. Add 1/2 cup of reserved pasta water and mix well adding more if needed. You're looking for a slightly shiny consistency. 
  4. Serve in pasta bowls with additional grated cheese on the side.

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Monday, January 23, 2012

Peanut Butter & Jelly Brownies

For those of you who don't know me, I work on the Lunchables brand for Oscar Mayer in marketing. We recently launched a new Lunchables TV commercial and the song in the commercial has been reverberating in my head for MONTHS. It's peanut butter jelly time! It's peanut butter jelly time! I'm sure you know it. But just in case you don't you can see the new Lunchables ad HERE.......And I'm sure it's in your head now. I often find myself turning random phrases into the Peanut Butter Jelly Time song. For example, giving my dog her pills (with peanut butter, of course) begins with a song that sounds like "It's peanut butter pill time! It's peanut butter pill time!" My husband is quite appreciative of my musical talent.

So, combine my spontaneous eruption into the Peanut Butter Jelly time song (or a variation thereof) with my new found addiction to Slack's Red Raspberry Jam and a recent blog post by one of my favorite blogs for this recipe, and you get Peanut Butter & Jelly Brownies.

Sing it with me - It's brownie brownie brownie time! It's brownie brownie brownie time!

This is pretty tasty and a nice twist on a traditional brownie. Honestly, the flavors of the jam and peanut butter chips don't come through as individual flavors....what you pick up on as you eat these brownies is the tartness of the raspberry and the saltiness of the peanut butter. It's an easy from-scratch brownie recipe that comes together quickly.

Here's the recipe from Beantown Baker:
Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup + 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp cocoa
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp espresso powder, optional
  • 1/2 Tbsp vanilla
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 cup peanut butter chips
  • 1/2 cup red raspberry jelly


Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9x9" pan
  2. In a saucepan set over low heat, melt the butter, then add the sugar and stir to combine. Return the mixture to the heat briefly, just until it's hot, but not bubbling; it'll become shiny looking as you stir it. Heating this mixture a second time will dissolve more of the sugar, which will yield a shiny top crust on your brownies.
  3. Transfer the sugar mixture to a medium-sized mixing bowl, if you've heated it in a saucepan. Stir in the cocoa, salt, baking powder, espresso powder, and vanilla.Whisk in the eggs, stirring until smooth. Add the flour and chips, again stirring until smooth. Spoon the batter into a lightly greased pan.
  4. In another pan or microwave dish, heat the jelly until warm and melted. Spoon warm jelly on top of brownie batter. Use a knife to swirl around to mix into brownies. Bake the brownies for about 30 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, or with just a few moist crumbs clinging to it. The brownies should feel set on the edges, and the center should look very moist, but not uncooked. Remove them from the oven and cool completely prior to cutting.

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Saturday, January 14, 2012

Crock Pot Pulled Pork

Holy cow. This recipe was good. SO GOOD. Chris doesn't even like pork (with the exception of bacon, of course) and after taking his first bite he proclaims "Holy crap, that's good". He proceeded to eat seconds. Folks, this is a MAJOR indicator of how good this recipe is...

So get your butt to a grocery store, buy some pork shoulder and get to slow cookin'. You will not regret this.

I love barbecue. I discovered a few years ago, two things...1) there's a phenomenal barbecue place 30 seconds away from my office called Smoky Jon's and 2) that I sometimes want barbecue on the weekends when I'm 30 minutes away from Smoky Jon's, but I'm too lazy to drive to the opposite side of town to fulfill my barbecue craving. Initially, I turned to pulled chicken sandwiches as my solve for barbecue sandwiches at home. It's good, but not the same. Once, I tried pulled pork using a pork tenderloin and the same method I use when making pulled chicken (place meat in crock, pour sauce on it. Turn on low, cook for 8 hrs). Well, it was ok. But not knock your socks off good. I mean, let's be honest...You can't make pulled pork from pork tenderloin. It's not the right type of pork.

So I recently set out to find an awesome slow cooker pulled pork recipe that'd meet my needs. I got lucky on the first try! I found this recipe on The Way the Cookie Crumbles blog. It's very straightforward and easy. The key is using pork shoulder and using a dry rub. I like my barbecue spicy, so I made sure to amp up the cayenne and use my hot chili powder. Other than that, mixing up the dry rub, rubbing down my pork, and throwing it in a crock pot for 8 hours is about the least amount of work you can do for the highest reward possible...a pulled pork sandwich that dribbles down your chin when you eat it and forces you to make Homer Simpson sounds throughout the entire meal. *Drool*

Recipe from The Way the Cookie Crumbles:
This will make a LOT of pulled pork. I used just under a 3lb roast and was able to make several sandwiches over the course of a couple of days. The original recipe suggests about 15-20 servings. This freezes and reheats well. Yum!


Ingredients:
Spice Rub:

  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 1-2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 4 tablespoons paprika
  • 2 tablespoons table salt
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground white pepper

  • 1 (6-8 pound) bone-in pork shoulder
  • ½ teaspoon liquid smoke (optional)
  • 2 cups barbecue sauce

Directions:

  1. Mix all spice rub ingredients in small bowl.
  2. Massage spice rub into meat. Wrap tightly in double layer of plastic wrap; refrigerate for at least 3 hours. (For stronger flavor, the roast can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.)
  3. Unwrap roast and place it in slow cooker liner. Add liquid smoke, if using, and ¼ cup water. Turn slow cooker to low and cook for 8-10 hours, until meat is fork-tender.
  4. Transfer roast to cutting board; discard liquid (or strain it and re-mix some of the liquid with the pork after pulling). “Pull” by tearing meat into thin shreds with two forks or your fingers. Discard fat.
  5. Place shredded meat back in slow cooker; toss with 1 cup barbecue sauce, and heat on low for 30-60 minutes, until hot. Serve with additional barbecue sauce.

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Sunday, January 8, 2012

Chicken Enchiladas

Chris and I can eat spicy food every single day. We LOVE it. So, when I can add an easy, spicy recipe to my repertoire, it's a good thing. I like this recipe because it's really two (sometimes three!) meals in one and both recipes come together so easily. A day or two before you want to eat enchiladas, you start out by making slow cooker salsa chicken for dinner. With five ingredients and use of a slow cooker, the salsa chicken recipe can't be any easier. We usually eat this with a side of corn, and/or salad. It's one of my favorites for when I know I've got a long day ahead of me at work.

With what's left from slow cooker salsa chicken, all you do is shred the chicken, and if you want, add a can of black beans and corn. Voila! There's your enchilada filling! Use it the next day, or even freeze it for another time...The Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken recipe makes a LOT of chicken. So, I usually eat regular salsa chicken for dinner one night, enchiladas (4 of them for the two of us) a couple days later, and freeze the rest of the enchilada mix for another time.

Ingredients:
Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken, adapted from Spark Recipes.

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 1 package reduced sodium taco seasoning
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup (condensed)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream

Enchiladas

  • Leftover chicken from Spark Recipe's Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed
  • 1 cup frozen corn (or 1 can of corn, drained and rinsed)
  • 1-2 cups of shredded pepperjack or cheddar cheese, depending on how many enchiladas you're making
  • 8-10 flour tortillas for minimal leftovers of filling. 4 flour tortillas for lots of filling leftovers to freeze for later.

Directions:

  1. To make the Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken, add chicken to slow cooker and sprinkle with taco seasoning. Pour salsa and soup over chicken, stir to combine. Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours. Remove from heat and stir in sour cream. (I eat this for dinner on one night, then a couple days later, make the enchiladas for dinner)
  2. To make the enchiladas preheat oven to 375.  In a large saucepan shred the chicken and heat up on medium. Add black beans, corn and stir to combine.
  3. In each tortilla, sprinkle 2-3 Tbsp of cheese, and about 1/4 cup of the chicken/black bean/corn mixture down the center of the tortilla. Carefully roll up and place in a baking dish that's been lightly coated in cooking spray. Repeat with the rest of the tortillas.
  4. Once the dish is full, top enchiladas with a very very thin layer of the chicken mixture, and sprinkle with cheese.
  5. Bake in for 20 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly and golden.

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Saturday, January 7, 2012

Thai Curried Noodles with Broccoli & Tofu

I love curry sauce. I love noodles. I love broccoli. I don't love tofu. But, when you throw those first three things together and toss in some tofu, I'll eat it all.

This is a great meal for a healthy, light dinner. It takes probably 30 minutes to make total, including prep time. And the flavor is light and refreshing with a hint of heat. Personally, my favorite thing about this dish is the way the broccoli florets grab hold of the curry sauce and are like little bursts of sauciness when you bite into them. I also like this recipe because it's different from what we usually eat when we eat noodles (i.e. it's not Italian) and it changes things up a bit from the usual fare we serve in our house. I can go either way on the tofu. I can eat a little bit of it, but after a while the texture starts to weird me out. I think the tofu is a great way to incorporate some protein into the dish. But honestly, I'd consider sauteeing some chicken up and just tossing into the dish next time.

Here's the recipe, adapted from Vegetarian Times.
Ingredients, serves 6:

  • 2 tsp. vegetable oil
  • 2 large shallots, chopped (1 cup)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro stems, plus 1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves, for garnish
  • 2 Tbs. yellow or red Thai curry paste
  • 1 tsp. curry powder
  • 1 tsp. ground turmeric
  • 1 15-oz. can light coconut milk
  • 3/4 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 2 tsp. light brown sugar
  • 1 12-oz. pkg. firm tofu, drained and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 5 oz. dry fettuccine
  • 5 cups broccoli florets
  • 6 lime wedges, for garnish


Directions:

  1. Heat oil in medium pot over medium-high heat. Sauté shallots in oil 2 minutes. Add cilantro stems, curry paste, curry powder, and turmeric; cook 1 minute.
  2. Stir in coconut milk, broth, and brown sugar, and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium, and cook 5 minutes, then stir in tofu. Simmer 10 minutes.
  3. Cook fettuccine in large pot of boiling salted water according to package directions. Add broccoli to pot for last 2 minutes of cooking time.
  4. Drain, and add to tofu-curry mixture. Mix well, and serve with lime wedges and chopped cilantro.

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Sunday, January 1, 2012

Southern Buttermilk Biscuits

Happy New Year! I decided to make buttermilk biscuits for brunch today because I have another recipe that I'm making (cole slaw, to go with the pulled pork I'm making for dinner) that calls for all of two tablespoons of buttermilk. That means, I'll basically have an entire quart of buttermilk left over sitting in my fridge. So, knowing I needed to start working my way through that to avoid having it sit in my fridge for three months, I decided to try my hand at buttermilk biscuits for the first time.

The recipe I found couldn't be easier. And what came out was a flaky, fluffy biscuit that basically melts in your mouth. It was also a phenomenal way for me to eat more of the pear butter I made yesterday. As with many baking recipes, I didn't modify anything in this recipe and honestly, it doesn't need any modification. The key to flaky biscuits is super cold ingredients, and handling as little as possible.

Here's the recipe, from Food.com
Ingredients:

  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour , plus more for dusting the board (if you can get White Lily flour, your biscuits will be even better)
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder (use one without aluminum)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt or 1 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, very cold
  • 1 cup buttermilk (approx)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 450
  2. Combine dry ingredients into the bowl of a food processor.
  3. Chunk the butter up and pulse a few times in the processor until it resembles a course meal. 
  4. Pour mixture into a bowl, add buttermilk and mix until just combined. If it appears dry, add a bit more buttermilk. It should be very wet. 
  5. Turn dough out onto a floured board. Gently pat the dough out until it's 1/2 inch thick. Fold the dough about 5 times, gently press the dough down to 1-inch thick. Use a round cutter to cut into rounds. 
  6. You can gently knead the scraps together and make a few more but they will not be anywhere near as good as the first ones. 
  7. Please biscuits on a cookie sheet with sides touching for soft biscuits. For "crunchy" biscuits place them 1-inch apart. 
  8. Bake for 10-12 minutes, don't over bake. Makes 10 biscuits.

(You can make these biscuits, cut them, and put them on cookie sheets and freeze them for up to a month. When you want fresh biscuits simply place them frozen on the cookie sheet and bake at 450 for about 20 minutes.)
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