Saturday, December 24, 2011

Chicken Noodle Soup

I've wanted to try my hand at making homemade chicken noodle soup for a while. I had a craving for it recently, so I checked in my most reliable cookbook. I was pleasantly surprised to find a quick and easy recipe in my Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book, copyright 1996. It took about half an hour to make, and my entire family gobbled it up. I used chicken tenderloins and browned them in a skillet with a little salt and pepper before cubing them and adding them to the soup. I also added dried thyme and used egg noodles, which really held up well in the leftover soup.

Ingredients:
4 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup chopped onion (or 2 T onion powder)
2 tsp fresh basil or 1/2 tsp dried basil
2 tsp fresh oregano or 1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp pepper
1 bay leaf
1 10-oz package frozen mixed vegetables
1/2 cup medium noodles or other small pasta (I used wide egg noodles)
2 cups cubed cooked chicken or turkey

In a large saucepan combine chicken broth, onion, basil, oregano, thyme, pepper, and bay leaf. Stir in vegetables. Bring to boiling.

Stir in uncooked noodles. Return to boiling. Reduce heat. Cover.

Simmer 8 minutes or till noodles are tender but still firm and vegetables are crisp-tender. Discard bay leaf. Stir in chicken or turkey and heat through.

Makes 8 cups (6 main-dish servings)

Easy Peanut Butter Cookies

Honestly, this is the easiest cookie recipe I've ever made, besides buying the pre-made dough. I think there are several websites that have the recipe. Cooks.com gets the credit here. These are so easy, my now five-year-old can help me make them. They're ready in less than fifteen minutes from start to finish...unless you have a five-year-old helping. Then, it might be more like twenty minutes! We like to add chocolate chips to our dough, but anything can be added for extra deliciousness. This is our go-to Santa cookie recipe, too.

Ingredients:
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup sugar (may decrease by 1 or 2 T if too sweet), plus extra for dipping
1 large egg
Optional: chocolate chips, raisins, M&M's, pretzels, etc.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix the sugar and egg together. Add the peanut butter and any other optional ingredients. Combine until smooth. Form into 1 inch balls and place on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Dip a fork into sugar. Then, press the fork into the balls, forming a criss-cross pattern.

Bake 10 to 12 minutes. Cool on the pan for about 10 minutes to allow the cookies to set before transferring to a cooling rack.

Makes about 1 dozen.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Ginger Cookies w/Tangy Lemon Icing

I got this recipe from Cuisine Cookies for the Holidays (from Cuisine at Home). Once I saw it, I knew I had to try them out! They are delicious, especially with the lemon icing.

Cookie Ingredients:
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground white pepper
1-1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup minced candied ginger*
1 tbsp minced fresh ginger
Turbinado (raw), coarse, or granulated sugar

Icing Ingredients:
2 cups sifted powdered sugar
2 tbsp powdered egg whites or meringue powder**
1 tbsp milk
Minced zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1/2 lemon

Stir flour, ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves, baking soda, salt, and pepper together for cookies in a bowl; set aside.

Cream butter, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, and 1/2 cup brown sugar together in a bowl with a mixer until smooth. Add egg, beat until incorporated, then beat in the molasses, candied ginger, and fresh ginger. Gradually add flour mixture, mixing just to combine. Chill dough until slightly firm, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Scoop dough into balls, about 1/8 cup worth. Smooth into balls, coat in turbinado sugar, and arrange on prepared baking sheets. Flatten balls with the bottom of a measuring cup (I sprayed the bottom with non-stick cooking spray first), then bake 10-12 minutes, or until set. Let cookies cool on the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a rack.

Whisk all ingredients for the icing together until smooth, then spread some icing on each cookie with a spatula. Allow the icing to harden before packaging.

Makes ~2-1/2 dozen cookies.

*Candied ginger (which I found in the bulk section) is sticky. It's easier to chop if you pile the ginger on a cutting board, sprinkle it with powdered sugar, then rock the knife through it. Shake the minced pieces in your hand to sift away the excess sugar.
**I found meringue powder at Hobby Lobby, a craft supply store (it is made by Wilton).

Peanut Butter Pretzel Truffles

Makes 20 truffles (but easily doubled!).

1/2 cup natural peanut butter
1/4 cup finely chopped salted pretzels
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips, melted

Combine peanut butter and pretzels in a small bowl. Chill in the freezer until firm, about 15 minutes.

Roll the peanut butter mixture into 20 balls (about 1 tsp each). Place on baking sheet lined with parchment or wax paper and freeze until very firm, about 1 hour. Roll the frozen balls in melted chocolate. Refrigerate until chocolate is set, about 30 minutes.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

English Toffee

I found a toffee recipe via Pinterest and changed it just a bit to make it my own. Wow! It turned out fantastic. It's dangerous knowing that toffee this good is so easy to make! (Note: I did not add the chocolate layer, but I included that part of the recipe for anyone who wants to try it.)

1/2 cup chopped toasted almonds or pecans (for bottom layer)
2 cups butter (salted)
2 cup sugar
2 T light corn syrup
6 T water
1/2 cup chopped toasted almonds or pecans (for top layer)
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips (optional)

Line a cookie sheet with tinfoil, brush with vegetable oil, and sprinkle 1/2 cup of toasted nuts on the foil. In heavy saucepan melt butter. Add sugar, corn syrup and water. Cook and stir over medium-high heat to boiling.

Cook and stir over medium heat to 290 degrees using a candy thermometer (soft-crack stage). Watch carefully and stir, it can burn easily after 280 degrees. Remove from heat and pour mixture over the nuts in the pan immediately. Sprinkle with 1/2 c. chopped nuts OR see below.

Let stand 5 minutes or until firm but still hot. Sprinkle with chocolate chips and let the stand for 1 to 2 minutes. When softened, spread chocolate over mixture. Sprinkle the chocolate with nuts. Chill till firm. Break into pieces. Store tightly covered. Makes 3 pounds.

Cocoa Cherry Drops

Makes 4 dozen cookies.

Ingredients:
1/2 cup (1 stick) plus 2 tbsp butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
6 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup chopped maraschino cherries, well drained
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Heat oven to 350.

Beat butter and sugar in large bowl until light and fluffy; beat in egg and vanilla. Stir together flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt; stir into butter mixture. Stir in cherries and chopped walnuts. Drop by rounded teaspoons onto ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake 10-12 minutes or until set. Cool slightly; remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely.

Kris Kringle Cookies

Makes 6 dozen cookies.

Ingredients:
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 pkg (6 squares each) Baker's premium white baking chocolate, chopped
2 cups chopped pecans
2 cups dried cranberries (I used 1 cup cranberries & 1 cup cherries)


Preheat oven to 375. Beat butter and sugars in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Blend in eggs and vanilla. Add flour, baking soda, and salt; mix well. Stir in chocolate, pecans, and cranberries.

Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls, 1-1/2 inches apart, onto ungreased baking sheets.

Bake 9-11 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool 3 min; remove to wire racks. Cool completely. Store in a tightly covered container at room temperature.

(You can substitute walnuts or almonds for the pecans and chopped dried apricots or mixed dried fruit bits for the cranberries.)

Candy Cane Blossoms

Makes 4 dozen cookies

Ingredients:
48 Hershey's Kisses Candy Cane Candies
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1-1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp milk
red and/or green sugar crystals*

Heat the oven to 350. Remove wrappers from candies.

Beat butter, granulated sugar, egg, and vanilla in large bowl until well-blended. Stir together flour, baking soda, and salt; add alternatively with milk to butter mixture, beating until well-blended.

Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in red/green sugar. Place on ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake 8-10 minutes or until edges are lightly browned and cookie is set. Remove from oven; cool 2-3 minutes. Press a candy piece into center of each cookie. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely.

*You can also roll them in granulated sugar or powdered sugar. I like the festive colors. :)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Mexican Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

Makes about 50 cookies

Ingredients:
1 1/2 c. flour
3/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
2 t. instant espresso powder
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1 t. ground cinnamon
1/2 t. chili powder
1/4 t. table salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 c. granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 t. vanilla extract
Powdered sugar

Sift together flour, cocoa powder, espresso powder, baking powder, cinnamon, chili powder, and salt in a bowl.

Beat butter and granulated sugar in a large bowl until combined, 2-3 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl. Whisk together eggs and vanilla; add to butter mixture and beat until incorporated. Add flour mixture; mix on low speed until combined. Cover dough and chill at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350, line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Shape dough into 1 in balls. Roll balls in powdered sugar two times, then arrange on prepared baking sheets, spacing 2 in . apart. Bake cookies until tops are cracked yet still soft, 10-11 minutes; do not overbake. Let cookies cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack.

Nutella Cookies

Makes 2 dozen 3-in cookies

Ingredients:
2 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 t. each baking soda and salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 c. Nutella
1 t. vanilla extract
Finely chopped hazelnuts (I used pecans)

Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl; set aside.

Beat butter and sugar with a mixer on medium speed, 5 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating to fully incorporate before adding the next.

Add Nutella and vanilla; beat until combined. Add flour mixture; mix just until combined. Chill dough 4 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Scoop dough with a #30 scoop (scant 3 T.); roll in hazelnuts. Bake cookies, six at a time, until edges are set, about 15 minutes. Let cookies cool on baking sheets.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Cheesy Vegetable Chowder

This cooler weather just gets me in the mood for soup - especially when my husband makes fresh ciabatta bread to go along with it! I love broccoli cheese soup, but this one has a few additions to it. It was delicious, and my kids loved helping me make it (one measured ingredients and one peeled potatoes). It even got a, "Wow, this is good!" comment from my husband at the table.

2 tbsp butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 cup carrot, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
1 tbsp minced garlic
2 cups chicken broth/stock
3 russet potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 tbsp flour
1/2 cup water
2/3 cup milk
2 cups broccoli, chopped
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Melt the butter in a large soup pot. Add onions, carrots, and celery and saute over medium heat until tender. Add garlic and cook 1 or 2 additional minutes. Add chicken broth and potatoes; bring to a boil and cook until potatoes are tender. Mix flour with water, add, and simmer until soup is slightly thickened. Add milk and broccoli and cook until broccoli is just tender and soup is heated through. Stir in cheese, allow to melt, and serve.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Baked Risotto with Spinach, Chicken, and Cremini Mushrooms

I test recipes for The Scramble and get their weekly menu plan (highly recommend, by the way!). This was a fall recipe from there, with the addition of some chicken (you can make it vegetarian by omitting the chicken and using vegetable broth). It was delicious, easy to prepare, and got rave reviews from my husband! It was still delicious heated up for lunch the next day.

2 tbsp olive oil
1 yellow onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
6 oz baby spinach
24 oz. reduced-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
8 oz sliced cremini or baby bella mushrooms
1/4 tsp lemon pepper seasoning
1 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
1/2 lb cooked boneless, skinless chicken breast, diced *

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or large oven-proof stockpot over medium heat. Add the onions (season with salt & pepper) and cook them for about 5 minutes or until they are tender. Add the rice and stir to coat it. Stir in the chicken, spinach, broth, mushrooms, and lemon pepper. Bring it to a boil and simmer for 7 minutes.

Stir in 3/4 cup grated cheese, then sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup on top. Cover the pot and bake for 25 minutes.

Remove the pot from the oven and stir; return it to the oven and bake uncovered for 5 more minutes. Serve it immediately, topped with additional parmesan cheese if desired.

*I had some chicken cooked up ahead of time - it was diced then sautéed in a little olive oil and seasoned with salt & pepper. You can throw the chicken in with the onion to cook with a tad more olive oil, or cook separately.

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Crescents

This is such an easy little snack or dessert, maybe even breakfast treat! My whole family loved them. :)

1 tube crescent rolls
peanut butter
semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used mini ones)

Preheat the oven to 375. Place the unrolled crescent rolls onto an ungreased cookie sheet (I used parchment paper underneath). Spread a layer of peanut butter on each triangle; top with chocolate chips. Roll from the bottom of the triangle to the point. Place in the oven and bake 10-11 minutes or until golden brown. Serve while warm.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Salted Caramels

One of the best candies of all-time (in my opinion) can be homemade with this recipe. Be sure to read it through before you dive in as there are a lot of steps that have to happen at the correct time. Enjoy!

Ingredients:
Vegetable oil
1 1/2 c. sugar
1/4 c. light corn syrup
1 c. heavy cream
5 T. unsalted butter
1 t. fine fleur de sel (I used kosher salt instead), plus extra for sprinkling
1/2 t. pure vanilla extract

Directions:

1. Prep the pan. Line an 8 in. square baking pan with parchment paper, allowing it to drape over 2 sides, then brush the paper lightly with oil.

2. Boil the sugar. In a deep saucepan, combine 1/4 c. water, sugar, and corn syrup and bring them to a boil over med-high heat. Boil until the mixture is a warm golden brown. Don't stir-- just swirl the pan.

3. Heat the cream. In the meantime, in a small pot, bring the cream, butter, and 1 t. of the salt to a simmer over med. high heat. Turn off the heat and set aside.

4. Finish the caramel. When the sugar mixture is done, turn off the heat and slowly add the cream mixture to the sugar mixture. BE CAREFUL-- it will bubble up violently. Stir in the vanilla with a wooden spoon and cook over medium-low heat for about 10 min., until the mixture reaches 248 degrees (firm ball) on a candy thermometer. Note: I HIGHLY recommend the candy thermometer. I tried to do it with a candle thermometer and ended up with caramels that were too soft.

5. Fill the pan. Very carefully pour the caramel into the prepared pan and refrigerate for a few hours, until firm.

6. Cut the caramel. When the caramel is cold, pry the sheet from the pan onto a cutting board. Cut the square in half.

7. Roll it up. Starting with a long side, roll the caramel up tightly into an 8 in. log.

8. Cut into pieces. Sprinkle the log with salt, trim the ends and cut into 8 pieces. It's easier to cut the caramels if you brush the knife with flavorless oil.

9. Wrap the candies. Cut glassine or parchment paper into 4"x5" pieces and wrap each caramel individually, twisting the ends. Store in the refrigerator and serve the caramels chilled.

Strawberry Jell-O Pretzel Salad

This is one of my all-time favorite side dishes/desserts. I always serve it at Thanksgiving, but it is great for a summer picnic or a potluck.

Ingredients:
3/4 c. butter
2 c. crushed pretzels
8 oz. pkg. cream cheese
1 c. powdered sugar
6 oz. pkg. strawberry Jell-O
2 c. hot water
2 pkg. thawed frozen (16 oz.) strawberries
9 oz. Cool Whip

Directions:
Melt butter; add pretzels. Bake for 10 min. in 9x13 in. Pyrex pan at 350 degrees. Cool and set aside.

Soften cream cheese in a bowl; add powdered sugar. Mix with crushed pretzels and spread into the pan. Cool pretzel crust and refrigerate.

Boil water and add to Jell-O in bowl. Add thawed out strawberries. Pour over cooled pretzel crust. Refrigerate for four hours. Spread Cool Whip on top just before serving.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Korean Salad Dressing

If you like the flavors in Korean food, you will LOVE this salad dressing! I ate three bowls of mixed greens (with scallions) because it was SO good! My five year old gobbled up all his salad and asked for more, after eating up the leftover dressing with a spoon. All the ingredients are available at the regular grocery store except for the chili pepper powder. I keep it on hand from Saraga, an Asian food store close to my regular grocery store.

* ¼ cup soy sauce
* 3 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
* 4 Tbsp water
* 2 Tbsp sugar
* 3 Tbsp sesame oil
* 3 tsp red chili pepper powder (kochukaru)
* crushed sesame seeds (optional)

Monday, November 21, 2011

Zuppa Toscana

This recipe is based on a certain restaurant's soup. My husband found the recipe & made it - SO good! Here is my version after I made the soup. It makes a lot, but is great to freeze or just reheat.

1 (16-oz) package smoked sausage
5-6 potatoes*, cut into half-moons
1 cup chopped onion
8 slices bacon, chopped
1 tbsp minced garlic
6 cups kale, washed, dried, and shredded
4 tbsp instant chicken bouillon
3 quarts water (12 cups)
1 cup heavy whipping cream

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Place sausage on a sheet pan and bake for 25 minutes, or until done. Cut links in half lengthwise, half again lengthwise, then dice. Set aside.

Place onions and bacon in a large saucepan with a little olive oil and cook over medium heat until onions are almost clear. Add garlic and cook an additional minute. Add water and bring to a boil. Add instant chicken bouillon and potatoes; simmer 15 minutes. Add the sausage, kale, and cream; simmer 10 minutes. Serve with freshly grated parmesan, if desired.

(*I used red potatoes from our garden to make the soup and it was delicious, but I think russet potatoes would be better. They'd break down a bit more to thicken the soup, which the red potatoes didn't do.)

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Coconut Rice with Red Beans

This was a quick and easy recipe, not to mention delicious! My family really liked it. We had it as a main dish with a side salad, but you could pair it with some chicken as well.

2 slices bacon, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeno, minced (remove seeds & ribs for less heat)
1/4 tsp dried thyme
coarse salt
3/4 cup canned coconut milk
1 can (15-oz) red kidney beans, drained
1 cup long-grain white rice
2 scallions, minced

In a medium saucepan, brown bacon over med-low heat, stirring often, about 8 minutes. Pour off fat if there's a lot. Add garlic, jalapeno, thyme, and 1 tsp salt. Cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add coconut milk and 1 1/4 cup water; bring to a boil. Stir in beans and rice. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer until rice is tender, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in scallions. Let sit, covered, until water is absorbed, about 10 minutes.

Autumn Herbed Chicken with Fennel & Squash

This is such a yummy fall dish - it requires a little work in the beginning, but then the crock pot does the rest. My kids ate it up! It's also delicious leftover. :)

3-4 lbs boneless chicken thighs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
1/2 butternut squash, peeled/seeded and cut into 3/4 inch cubes
1 tsp thyme
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup apple juice or cider
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp rosemary

In a freezer bag combine the flour, salt, and pepper. Put the chicken in the bag and shake to coat. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat and brown the chicken. Remove and place in the slow cooker (make sure chicken is on the bottom). Add the fennel, onion, and squash. Combine the chicken broth, apple juice, thyme, salt, pepper, and rosemary and pour over the veggies and meat. Cover and cook on low 5-6 hours or on high 2.5-3 hours.

(To make a freezer meal: In one large freezer bag place the chicken thighs. In another large freezer bag place the fennel, onion, squash, thyme, broth, cider/juice, salt, pepper, and rosemary. In a small freezer bag put the flour, salt, and pepper. On cooking day, thaw the chicken and follow the directions above.)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Easy Pumpkin Muffins

I made these mini-muffins for my older son's class snack, and they were a hit!  I doubled the recipe, which made 48 mini-muffins, 6 full size muffins, and two mini-loaves of pumpkin bread.  When doubling the ingredients, the 1 can of pumpkin puree falls 1oz short of what's required, so I subbed 1oz of unsweetened applesauce to round it out.  So moist & delicious!

1 ½ cup sugar
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
¾ tsp salt
½ tsp cloves
¼ tsp baking powder
1 2/3 cup flour
1 t baking soda
1/2 cup oil
2 eggs
1 cup pumpkin (about half a 15 oz can)
½ cup cold water

Mix all ingredients together until well combined. Put in greased loaf pan or muffin tin. Bake at 325 degrees.

* Bread (one loaf) = 75-90 minutes

* 12 Muffins = 40 minutes

* 24 Mini muffins = 25 minutes (mine were done at 19 mins. in a dark metal pan)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Whole Wheat Banana Chocolate Chip Mini-Muffins

I had a couple overly ripe bananas and needed to make something with them. These mini-muffins were perfect, and delicious! My kids really liked them.

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup honey
1 egg
2/3 cup milk
1/4 cup oil
2 overly ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350. Lightly spray 24 mini muffin tins. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir in the honey, egg, milk, and oil. Then stir in the mashed bananas. Gently fold in the chocolate chips. Pour the batter into the muffin tin and bake for 12-15 minutes (until toothpick comes out clean). Let cool slightly on a cooling rack.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Basil Pesto Muffins

These are savory muffins that go well with any Italian dinner... if you can wait until dinner to eat them!

Ingredients:

2 1/2 c. flour
2 t. baking powder
3/4t. salt
1 c. olive oil, divided
3/4 c. milk
2 eggs
1 3/4 c. fresh basil, chopped
1 c. shredded parmesan
1/3 c. sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, chopped
1 T. minced garlic
1/4 c. chopped pine nuts
Coarse sea salt

Preheat oven to 350. Coat a 12-c muffin pan with nonstick spray; set aside.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, and table salt in a large bowl; form a well in the center.

Combine 3/4 c. oil, milk and eggs in a glass measuring cup with a pour spout until eggs are lightly beaten. Pour mixture into well of dry ingredients; stir only until moistened.

Fold basil, Parmesan, sun-dried tomatoes, and garlic into batter just until evenly distributed.

Spoon batter into each muffin cup filling 2/3 full. Drizzle 1 t. remaining olive oil over each muffin. Sprinkle pine nuts and sea salt on top of each muffin.

Bake muffins until a toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean, 20-22 min.

Heat broiler to high with rack 6 in. from element. Broil muffins until tops are golden, 2-3 minutes.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Mini-Bacon Meatballs

These mini-meatballs are incredible-- they even convinced my husband to love meatballs for the first time in his life! They are so packed with flavor, incredibly moist, and would be great as a stand-alone appetizer. I added them to Albondigas Soup which was great as well! I highly recommend doubling (or even quadrupling) the recipe, baking in batches and freezing the meatballs for a later meal. It's also a great recipe to get the kids involved. My three-year old had a blast rolling the meatballs with me!

Ingredients:

2 strips bacon, diced
1/4 c. diced onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 lb. ground sirloin
1/4 c. dry bread crumbs
2 T. minced fresh parsley, or 2 t. dried
1/2 t. paprika
1/2 t. kosher salt
1/2 t. black pepper
1 egg, beaten

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400. Coat a broiler pan with nonstick spray.

Cook bacon in a skillet over med-high heat until starting to crisp, about 4 minutes; remove and set aside on a paper towel lined plate. Pour off all but 1 T. drippings from skillet.

Saute onion in same skillet in the 1 T. drippings over medium heat until softened, about 3 minutes. Add garlic to skillet; cook 1 minute.

Combine sirloin, cooked bacon, onion mixture, bread crumbs, parsley, paprika, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Stir in beaten egg.

Form mixture into 1-in. meatballs and place on prepared broiler pan. Bake meatballs until fully cooked, about 10 minutes.

Caprese Hoagies

One of the best things about summer is fresh vegetables from the garden. This uses two of my favorites-- basil and tomatoes-- in an outstanding sandwich.

Ingredients:

2 T. olive oil
2 T. white wine vinegar
1/4 t. kosher salt
1/4 t. black pepper
6 slices fresh mozzarella
4 sliced Roma tomatoes (or 2 large tomatoes)
1/2 c. fresh basil, roughly torn
3 hoagie buns

Directions:

1. Whisk first 4 ingredients together to make the dressing.

2. Preheat the broiler and lay hoagie buns (outside facing up) on a baking sheet. Broil 2 minutes or until tops are toasted.

3. Flip the buns over and spread the inside of the buns with the dressing, top bottom with mozzarella and top with Roma slices. Sprinkle tomatoes with additional salt and pepper, if desired.

4. Broil tomato side up for about 2 minutes, or until cheese has slightly melted.

5. Add torn basil and close up the hoagie. Enjoy!

Salted Caramel Ice Cream

The flavor of this ice cream is incredible, although the consistency was a little grainy. Next time I think I'll use half and half or heavy cream in place of the milk.

Ingredients:
3 1/2 c. 2% milk
3 large egg yolks
1 1/4 c. packed brown sugar
1/4 c. heavy cream
1 T. butter
1/2 t. sea salt
1/2 t. flake salt

Directions:

1. Place milk in a medium saucepan over med-high heat. Heat to 180 deg. or until tiny bubbles form around the edge of pan. Place egg yolks in a large bowl; stir with a whisk. Gradually add half of hot milk to yolks, stirring constantly. Return yolk mixture to pan.

2. Combine sugar, cream, and butter in a large saucepan over med. heat; bring to a boil, stirring until sugar melts. Cook 3 minutes without stirring. Remove from heat; stir in sea salt. Gradually add caramel mixture to yolk mixture, stirring constantly. Return pan to low heat; cook until a thermometer registers 160 deg. Place pan in a large ice-filled bown until completely cooled, stirring occasionally.

3. Pour mixture into an ice-cream maker and follow the manufacturer's instructions.

4. Pour into a freezer-safe container and freeze until firm.

5. Scoop into dishes and sprinkle evenly with flake salt before serving.

Spring Rolls with Peanut Dipping Sauce

This recipe has been passed from one member of our mom's group to another to another. It's so delicious! These are all the ingredients, just combine and roll together!

Rice wrappers
Napa cabbage
carrots
red pepper
bamboo shoots
water chestnuts
cilantro
green onion
bean sprouts

Dipping Sauce:
2 Tbls fresh garlic
1/2 Cup soy sauce
1/2 Cup peanut butter
1 tsp sugar
1 Tbls rice vinegar
1 Tbls hot chili oil
1/2 Cup of cilantro

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Sage Pesto

With an abundance of sage growing in my garden this year, I needed to figure out a way to use it. Since I was making pesto with my basil, I thought I'd try it with sage. It was delicious, and would be perfect to top a pork loin. Again, pesto also freezes well (you can put it in ice cube trays to portion it out).

1 head garlic
3 cups fresh sage leaves
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus some for drizzling
3-5 sprigs fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
1/4 cup slivered almonds
2 tsp lemon juice
salt (to taste)
black pepper (to taste)

Preheat the oven to 375. Cut the top off the garlic head and place on foil; drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Close up the foil, leaving a bit of room for air, and place in oven for 45-50 minutes. (Once it's done, the cloves will squeeze right out of the papery outer layer.)

Put the sage, garlic, parsley, almonds, salt, pepper, and lemon juice in a food processor. Start the food processor and stream in the olive oil. Blend until smooth.

Basil and Roasted Garlic Pesto

With an abundance of basil growing in my garden this year, I needed to figure out a way to use it. I also grew flat-leaf parsley, so pesto was an obvious choice. This recipe is super simple, you just need to take the time to roast the garlic. You could leave it raw, but I like the more muted (but enhanced) flavor of roasted garlic. Pesto also freezes really well.

1 head garlic
4 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus some for drizzling
3-5 sprigs fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
2 tsp lemon juice
salt (to taste)
black pepper (to taste)

Preheat the oven to 375. Cut the top off the garlic head and place on foil; drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Close up the foil, leaving a bit of room for air, and place in oven for 45-50 minutes. (Once it's done, the cloves will squeeze right out of the papery outer layer.)

Put the basil, garlic, parsley, pine nuts, cheese, salt, pepper, and lemon juice in a food processor. Start the food processor and stream in the olive oil. Blend until smooth.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Marmalade Curry Chicken

This is the first recipe I tried from More Make it Fast, Cook it Slow (if you love your crock pot, it's a must read).  The sauce is so tasty - we devoured it!
 
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves or thighs (I used breasts)
1 (18oz) jar orange marmalade (I used 1/2 regular and 1/2 sugar free)
1 1/2 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup chicken broth


Put the chicken into the bottom of your slow cooker. In a mixing bowl, combine the marmalade with the dry spices and chicken broth.  Pour the sauce evenly over the chicken. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 7 hours, or on high for about 4 (you might want to flip the chicken towards the end if you choose to cook on high heat).  Serve over brown basmati rice.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sweet and Sour Chicken

This was one of the first meals I ever made for my husband. I found it in The Newlywed Cookbook by Robin Miller, and I couldn't believe how quick and easy it turned out to be. It's become a favorite in our household, even with our 4-year-old son. Recently, I replaced the canned pineapple with fresh pineapple I'd pureed in the food processor. Then, I added chunks of fresh pineapple at the end to warm them through before serving. I think it's great either way, but I'm going to try to use the fresh fruit from now on, if possible.

1 tbsp vegetable or canola oil
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts or tenders, diced into 1 inch cubes
1 8 oz can crushed pineapple in juice (or an equivalent amount of fresh, pureed pineapple)
1/4 cup Hoisin sauce
1/4 cup apricot preserves
1/4 tsp black pepper
Fresh pineapple chunks, optional

1. Heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the chicken, and saute until golden brown on the outside and no longer pink on the inside, about 5-7 minutes.
2. Add the crushed or pureed pineapple, Hoisin sauce, apricot preserves, and pepper. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat, and simmer for about 7 minutes, or until the sauce thickens, stirring occasionally. Add the pineapple chunks, if desired, and stir gently to coat with the sauce and warm through. Serve over rice or noodles.

Bow Tie Pasta & Broccoli

I first saw Ina Garten make a similar version of this recipe on the Food Network. She was having a party for kids, and she claimed it was a great way to get them to eat their broccoli. She was right! Not only did my older son eat every bite of pasta and broccoli on his plate, so did my husband! It's a versatile recipe that can be served for lunch or dinner, hot or room temperature, and with a variety of pastas. It's great just as a vegetarian meal, or cooked and diced chicken breast can be added for protein (or for those of us who have major meat-eaters in our families). Recently, I just made the sauce (no broccoli or pine nuts) and poured it over penne pasta. With some hot chicken sausage cut into rounds and added at the end, it became a great meal that my entire family loved!

2 large heads of broccoli
1 lb bow tie (farfalle) pasta
3 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp unsalted butter
1-2 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 lemon, zested
2-3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 tsp kosher salt (to taste)
1/4 tsp black pepper (to taste)
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts*
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and add a handful of kosher salt. Cut off the stems of the broccoli, and chop the heads into individual florets. Add the broccoli florets to the salted, boiling water. Cook for 3 minutes. Remove the florets with a slotted spoon to a large bowl.
2. Add the bow tie pasta to the same salted, boiling water. Cook according to the package directions, around 11 minutes, or until al dente. Strain the bow ties, and add to the bowl with the broccoli.
3. Meanwhile, heat a saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the olive oil and butter. When the butter has melted, add the garlic and the lemon zest, and saute for 1 minute.
4. Remove the saucepan from the heat. Add the lemon juice, salt and pepper, and stir until the salt has dissolved. Pour the sauce over the bow tie pasta and broccoli. Toss well to coat everything. Taste for seasoning, and add more salt and pepper if desired. Garnish with the pine nuts and Parmesan cheese.

*To toast the pine nuts, place them in a dry saute pan over a low heat. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until they are slightly brown and fragrant, tossing them in the pan every so often to keep them from burning.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Butternut Ravioli with Sage Brown Butter

This were a little time consuming to make, but really delicious! My kids liked them too. :)

1 can (16 oz) butternut squash or pumpkin puree
1/2 tbs balsamic vinegar
pinch of ground nutmeg
1 tbsp grated parmesan, plus more for garnish
salt and black pepper to taste
48 wonton wrappers
2 egg whites, lightly beaten
4 tbsp butter
16 fresh sage leaves

1. Bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat. Mix the squash, vinegar, nutmeg, and parmesan; season with salt and pepper.

2. Working on a clean floured surface, lay down a single wonton wrapper and place a small spoonful of the squash mixture in the center, being careful not to overstuff. Paint the edges of the wrapper with egg whites, then top with another wonton wrapper. Press firmly around the edges with your fingers to secure the filling inside the ravioli. Repeat with the remaining wrappers to make 24 ravioli.

3. Salt the boiling water and turn down the heat to medium so that it's gently boiling. Carefully drop in the ravioli and cook for 3 minutes, then drain (it works best to do this in batches so they don't stick together).

4. In the meantime, heat a large skillet or saute pan over medium heat and add the butter and sage. Cook until the butter is lightly brown and begins to give off a nutty aroma (you don't want the butter to burn). Add the cooked ravioli to the pan, tossing gently to make sure they don't break. Divide among 4 plates and garnish with parmesan.


Recipe comes from Cook This, Not That

Friday, May 13, 2011

Chicken Marsala

This has become a family favorite dinner in our house. So easy to make and super delicious! (For those folks in Indiana - remember that you can't buy Marsala wine on Sundays!)

4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded to uniform 1/4" thickness
1 cup flour
salt and black pepper to taste
1 tbsp olive oil
2 oz prosciutto, sliced into thin strips
8 oz cremini mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
3/4 cup Marsala wine
3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup fresh parsley (or ~4 tsp dried)

1. Season the chicken with a good pinch of salt and pepper. Place the flour in a shallow bowl and add the chicken; coat evenly, shaking off any excess flour.

2. Heat the olive oil in a large nonstick pan or cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Cook the chicken (don't overcrowd the pan; cook in two batches if need be) for 3-4 minutes per side, until golden brown on the outside and cooked all the way through. Transfer to a serving platter and keep warm (I cover with foil).

3. Add additional oil to the pan if needed, then sauté the prosciutto for 1-2 minutes, until it starts to crisp up. Add the mushrooms and continue sautéing until well browned. Stir in the Marsala and broth, scraping up any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Cook until the liquid has reduced to about 1/2 cup. Season with salt and pepper, add the parsley, and pour over the chicken.

Recipe from Cook This, Not That

Roasted Parmesan Asparagus

I love asparagus, and usually just saute it in a grill pan with some olive oil and kosher salt. This was a great recipe for a little variation.

1 bunch asparagus, about 1 1/2 pounds
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp grated parmesan
 salt and black pepper to taste
juice of 1 lemon

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Hold an asparagus spear at both ends and bend the bottom until the tough, woody section snaps (it will naturally snap off where the tough part of the vegetable ends and the tender part begins). Using that spear as a guide, use a knife to remove the bottoms of the rest of the bunch.

2. Place the asparagus in a baking dish. Drizzle with the olive oil, sprinkle with the parmesan, and season with salt and pepper; toss to coat. Roast until just tender, 10-12 minutes. Sprinkle the lemon juice over the asparagus.


Recipe from Cook This, Not That

Brussels and Bacon

We had roasted brussels sprouts for dinner one night, then a week later my oldest requested them again. I saw this recipe in a cookbook I had and decided to try them. What's not good with bacon, right? ;) It did not disappoint!

4 strips of bacon, chopped into small pieces
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 lb brussels sprouts, bottoms trimmed, cut in half
salt and black pepper to taste
2 tbsp sliced almonds

1. Heat a large skillet or sauté pan over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook until crispy, about 5 minutes. Remove to a plate lined with paper towels. Discard all but 1 tbsp of the rendered bacon fat.

2. Add the garlic, pepper flakes, brussels sprouts, and a pinch of salt to the skillet. Sauté until the sprouts are lightly browned on the outside and tender - but still firm - throughout, 10 to 12 minutes. Add the almonds and sauté for another minute or two. Season with salt and pepper.


Recipe comes from Cook This, Not That

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Pasta with a Creamy Smoked Bacon & Pea Sauce

This is another recipe from Jamie Oliver's "Jamie's Food Revolution" that I adapted a bit for my family. I bought sour cream instead of heavy cream, and it seemed to work fine. The recipe is very kid-friendly, and using mini pasta, like shells or bow ties, makes it a lot of fun. My 4-year-old loved it, and so did my husband and I. It also makes a lot of leftovers!

10 slices smoked bacon
Small bunch of mint
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 pound mini pasta, such as mini shells or mini bow ties
1-2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
2 cups frozen peas
2 tbsp heavy cream or sour cream
1 lemon
6 ounces Parmesan cheese

1. Finely slice the bacon. Pick the mint leaves and discard the stalks. Finely grate the parmesan cheese.

2. Bring a large pan of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to the package instructions.

3. Heat a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the olive oil and butter. Add the bacon to the pan, sprinkle a little pepper over it, and saute it until golden and crisp. Meanwhile, finely chop the mint leaves.

4. As soon as the bacon is done, stir in the frozen peas. After a minute or so, add the heavy cream (or sour cream) and chopped mint. Drain the pasta, reserving some of the cooking water. Add the pasta to the saute pan, and toss everything well.

5. Halve the lemon, and squeeze the juice over the pasta. Remove the pan from the heat, and salt and pepper to your taste. The sauce should be creamy and silky. If it's too thick, add a splash of the reserved cooking water to thin it out. Add the Parmesan cheese, and toss everything to coat well.

Pan-Fried Glazed Pork Chops

This is a recipe I adapted from Jamie Oliver's "Jamie's Food Revolution" cookbook. I doubled the recipe to serve four and omitted the fresh sage leaves. It was so super simple, and the pork chops fried up quickly! My whole family loved them glazed in apricot preserves. They were so yummy!

4 boneless pork chops, medium thickness
Olive Oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
Optional: 1 lemon
Options for glaze: applesauce, mango chutney, apricot jam or preserves, maple syrup, or honey

1. Using a sharp knife, trim the fat off the edges of the pork chops, saving the fat for rendering. Baste both sides of the chops with olive oil and sprinkle well with salt and pepper.

2. Heat a large saute pan on high heat. Add the fat from the chops to the pan, and fry until golden and crackling. Remove it from the pan.

3. Add the chops to the hot pan, and fry for 4-5 minutes on each side, turning about every minute.

4. Spoon a large tablespoon of your glazing ingredient of choice on each chop. Keep turning the chops in the glaze so they get nicely coated. Continue to cook them until they become golden in color and the glaze thickens. Remove the chops to a plate and allow them to rest for minute, squeezing a little lemon juice over them to balance out the sweetness.

Roasted Root Vegetables

I credit Ina Garten ("The Barefoot Contessa" from the Food Network) with the inspiration for this recipe. She makes roasting vegetables so easy. I also used a tip from my "Better Homes & Gardens" cookbook by adding balsamic vinegar and dried oregano to the veggies before roasting them. Any seasonal root vegetables would work, including sweet potatoes, russet potatoes, and even golden beets, which are wonderful sliced super thin and roasted until crisp like chips! I sort of made this recipe up, so the ingredients and amounts are to your taste. Either increase the oven temperature or lengthen the cooking time for thicker veggies, like potatoes. My 4-year-old really liked the carrots, while my husband and I loved all of the veggies. We took the leftovers to a get together the next evening as a side for lasagna and received rave reviews from everyone who ate the dish!

3 large carrots, peeled
2-3 large parsnips, peeled
2 fennel bulbs, fronds and outer layers removed (save the fronds for garnish)
1-2 heads of garlic
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp dried oregano (dried basil or dried rosemary would also work well)
1-2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper, to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Chop the carrots and parsnips into 1/2 to 1 inch cubes. Slice the fennel bulbs in half and then, into quarters. Cut off the tops of the heads of garlic, exposing the cloves, but still keeping them tightly together.

2. Place the carrots, parsnips, and fennel on a cookie sheet. Liberally drizzle about 2 tbsp of the olive oil over the vegetables. Then, sprinkle the oregano, balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper all over. With your hands, toss everything well.

3. Drizzle about 1 tbsp of the olive oil over the top of the exposed garlic cloves. Wrap the garlic heads in aluminum foil, and place on the cookie sheet with the other vegetables. Roast everything together for about 30 minutes, or until the vegetables become brown around the edges, stirring them occasionally to keep them from sticking to the pan. They'll still have a slight crunch, so roast them longer if you like your veggies soft.

4. Allow the vegetables to cool slightly. Take the garlic out of the foil, and squeeze the individual cloves out by compressing the heads from the sides. Chop the saved fennel fronds finely and sprinkle on top of everything for garnish.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Chilled Chicken Pasta

I normally eat something different than the kids at lunchtime, and this is so quick and easy for me to prepare ahead of time. It's delicious, healthy, and filling too! This recipe is for one serving, but it could easily be multiplied to make a larger batch. Just toss the following ingredients together!

1/4 cup cooked and chilled whole wheat penne
1 tbsp pesto sauce
3 oz cooked chicken (or turkey) breast, diced
1/2 cup grape tomatoes, halved
3/4 cup shredded carrots
2 tbsp Italian four-cheese blend

Pasta with Broccoli & Turkey Sausage

This is a simple dish without a heavy sauce, but still so much flavor! You can use any pasta you'd like - I've done both penne and mini farfalle. My kids LOVE this dish!

1 bunch broccoli, cut into small florets
10 oz pasta
1/2 tbsp olive oil
4 link uncooked turkey (or chicken) sausage, casings removed
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
3/4 cups low-sodium chicken stock
salt and black pepper to taste
parmesan cheese

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Drop in the broccoli and cook for 3 minutes. Use tongs or a skimmer to remove the greens. Return the water to a boil. Cook the paste until al dente.

2. While the pasta cooks, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the sausage and cook for about 5 minutes, until lightly browned, then add the garlic and pepper flakes and saute for another 3 minutes. Stir in the broccoli and chicken stock and lower the heat to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Drain the pasta and toss immediately with the sausage and greens. Serve immediately topped with a little cheese.

(This recipe was altered from Cook This, Not That)

Beef Stroganoff

I'm alway looking for ways to cook meals we love with lower caloric and fat contents. This recipe is exactly that! Instead of a heavy cream sauce you use red wine & greek yogurt. It was delicious over some buttered egg noodles.

1/2 tbsp canola oil
12 oz white or cremini mushrooms, stems removed, halved
1 lb sirloin, cut into thin strips
salt and black pepper to taste
1 yellow onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp flour
3/4 cup red wine
1/2 cup low-sodium beef stock
1 tbsp tomato paste
1/4 cup plan Greek yogurt
chopped fresh parsley

1. Heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and cook for about 5 minutes, until softened and caramelized. Remove and reserve.

2. Season the beef with salt and pepper. In the same pan, adding more oil if necessary, cook the beef for about 5 minutes, until well-browned all over. Remove and reserve with the mushrooms. Add the onion and garlic to the pan and cook until the onion is translucent. Stir in the flour until it evenly coats the vegetables, then add the wine, stock, and tomato paste, scraping the pan to release any flavorful bits stuck to the bottom. Turn the heat down to low and simmer for about 12 minutes, until the liquid thickens and reduces by about half.

3. Return the mushrooms and beef to the pan and heat through, then remove from the heat. After the liquid cools just slightly, stir in the yogurt. (If the heat is too high, the yogurt will separate.) Serve over buttered noodles or steamed rice and garnish with parsley.

(This recipe comes from Cook This, Not That)

Fish with Herbed Bread Crumbs

We try to have fish on a regular basis at our house and my kids LOVE it. This was an easy, delicious recipe!

1 whole wheat English muffin, split
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley (or 2 tsp dried)
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves (or ~1/2 tsp dried)
4 halibut fillets or other flaky fish (cod, swordfish), 4-6 oz each
salt and black pepper to taste
2 tbsp butter, softened

1. Preheat the oven to 450. Place the muffin, parsley, and thyme in a food processor and pulse until you have small but not superfine bread crumbs. You want a bit of texture here.

2. Lay the fish on a (greased) baking sheet and season all over with salt and pepper. Smear the tops with a thin layer of softened butter, then press the herbed bread crumbs into the butter so that they adhere to the fish. Bake for about 20 minutes, until the fish is cooked through and flakes with gentle pressure from your finger.

(This recipe comes from Cook This, Not That)

Chicken Cordon Bleu w/Honey Mustard

This is a delicious low-cal, low-fat version of traditional cordon bleu. It's easy to make and my whole family devoured it! These could easily be made ahead of time, wrapped individually in saran wrap, and frozen in a ziploc bag too.

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (~6 oz each), pounded to 1/4" thickness
salt and black pepper to taste
8 thin slices deli ham
4 slices Swiss cheese
2 tbsp flour
1 egg, beaten
1 cup panko bread crumbs
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp honey
1/2 tbsp olive oil mayonnaise

1. Preheat the oven to 450. Season the chicken all over with salt and pepper. lay two slices of ham and one slice of cheese across each breast, then roll widthwise until you have a tight, jellyroll-like package.

2. Place the flour, egg, and bread crumbs in separate shallow bowls. Working with one rolled-up breast at a time, dip first in the flour to lightly coat, then in the egg, then immediately in the bread crumbs. Use your fingers to make sure the chicken is evenly coated with crumbs.

3. Arrange the chicken on a baking sheet and bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until the chicken is firm to the touch and cooked through and the bread crumbs are brown and crunchy.

4. While the chicken bakes, stir together the lemon juice, mustard, honey, and mayo to make a smooth, uniform sauce. Serve the chicken with the honey mustard drizzled over the top.

(This recipe comes from Cook This, Not That)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Texican Casserole

This recipe comes from The Scramble, a weekly menu plan email I receive (and also test recipes for). I thought it sounded absolutely delicious when I read it and couldn't wait to make it. It did not disappoint! My kids devoured it (my two year old had TWO helpings!) and my husband loved it as well. Super easy, especially when you cook the rice ahead of time. Feel free to serve with additional hot pepper sauce at the table.

2 cups cooked white or brown rice (from about 3/4 cup dry rice)
15-oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 lb cooked ground beef (you could also use 1 cup cooked chicken or steak, or no meat at all)
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup reduced fat sour cream
1 cup salsa
1/2 cup tortilla chips, crushed

Spray a 9x13 casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray. Spread the cooked rice on the bottom. Top it with the beans, meat, 1 cup of the cheese, sour cream, and salsa. Stir it to gently combine the flavors, but maintain the layer of rice at the bottom. Sprinkle the crushed tortilla chips and remaining 1/2 cup cheese on the top.

If you are freezing, cover with press-n-seal and foil. Let it thaw for 24 hours in the refrigerator then bake as directed below (remove the press-n-seal and replace the foil).

If you are cooking it tonight, cover with foil and bake in a 350 degree oven for 40 minutes. Remove the foil and let it bake for 10 more minutes or until the cheese is bubbling. Allow it to cool a few minutes before serving.

Mango-Chicken Chili

This is a recipe I adapted to become a freezer meal. So easy, yummy, and healthy! Throw everything into a bag to freeze, thaw, then cook in a crockpot. I served it over rice with a bit of cheddar cheese on top. You can also serve it with cornbread and a salad. :)

2 lbs skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into large cubes
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into cubes
1 16-oz jar mango peach salsa
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp chipotle chili powder
1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed

Add all the ingredients into a freezer bag; seal and freeze. Thaw in refrigerator at least overnight. Add entire contents to a crockpot; cover and cook on low for 4 hours.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Bacon Jalapeno Poppers

Ingredients

* 1 (8-ounce) package light cream cheese, at room temperature
* 1 large Granny Smith apple, cored and minced
* 3 large scallions, roots sliced off, green and white parts minced finely
* Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
* 20 jalapenos
* 20 strips thin-sliced bacon, chopped in half

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment.

In a large bowl, stir and break down the cream cheese until smooth. Add the apples and scallions, plus as much salt and freshly ground black pepper as you like.

Don a pair of plastic gloves so you don't burn your fingers or your eyes like I did. Slice each jalapeno in half lengthwise, and then either slice out the membranes or use a measuring spoon to scoop them out. Discard the seeds.

Either using a teaspoon or a small icing spatula, fill each jalapeno half with the cream cheese mixture; fill until just over the rim of the jalapeno. Wrap each pepper with a bacon half and secure with a toothpick. Line up the pop 'ems on the prepared baking sheet and pop into the oven until bacon has browned on the bottom, about 30 minutes. Allow to cool for about 5 minutes (which will be as long as you can resist them). Enjoy with a cold beer! Aaah!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Lemon Pepper Green Beans

I'm typically not a fan of green beans, but every time I make this side dish, my husband and I go back for seconds!  Our two and a half year old loves them, too.

1 bag frozen green beans, thawed (16oz: French cut, crosscut, or whole)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 Tb lemon juice
1/4 tsp pepper

Over high heat, stir-fry the beans in olive oil until tender-crisp. Stir in garlic, lemon juice, and pepper. Cook just another minute or so, then serve.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Parsnip Fries

Every parent needs this recipe! These spiced "fries" are oven-roasted and delicious! If your kids don't like spicy, cut down on the amount of chili powder. These are definitely going to be a weekly vegetable at our house!

Ingredients

* 1 1/2 pounds parsnips, about 4 large ones
* 2 tablespoons olive oil
* 2 teaspoons chili powder
* 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
* 1 teaspoon kosher salt
* 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Peel the parsnips and slice off the root. Cut into thick fries as evenly as possible. In a large bowl, mix together the olive oil, chili powder, garam masala, salt, and pepper. Add the parsnips and toss to coat. Place on a parchment or foil-lined baking sheet.

Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, tossing the chips halfway through to ensure even cooking. Chips are done when they're lightly caramelized and a knife inserted in the chips goes in and comes out without much resistance.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Grilled Salmon with Ginger Soy Butter

One of my new favorite cookbooks (two of them, actually) is "Cook This, Not That." I love that we can still eat things that don't seem healthy, but cook them in a healthier way. This recipe is from there - I added a couple more fish fillets and a tablespoon more butter to feed my whole family (and it ALL got eaten!), and served it with some brown rice and steamed broccoli. I've never seen my 3-yr old daughter eat her food so quickly!

2 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1/2 tbsp minced chives (I used fresh not dried)
1/2 tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
4 salmon fillets (4-6 oz each)
salt and black pepper to taste
olive oil

Mix the butter, chives, ginger, lemon juice, and soy sauce. Set aside.

Preheat a grill or grill pan. Season the salmon with salt and pepper and rub with the oil. Wipe the grill grates clean and rub with a paper towel dipped in oil. Add the salmon (skin side down, if it has skin) and cook for 4-5 minutes. Flip the fish and cook for another 3-4 minutes, until the fish flakes with gentle pressure from your finger.

Serve the fish with a generous spoonful of the flavored butter, which should begin to melt on contact.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Beef Vindaloo

Another delicious "Aarti" recipe....

Ingredients
Wet Masala (Spice Blend):

* 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
* 2 (1-inch) pieces cinnamon bark
* 6 whole cloves
* 4 whole black peppercorns
* 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
* 2 teaspoons paprika
* 1/2 teaspoon cayenne (more if you're feeling feisty!)
* 1 heaping tablespoon Ginger Garlic Paste, recipe follows, or 6 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped and 1-inch thumb fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
* 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
*
* 3 tablespoons canola oil
* 1 medium red onion, sliced very thinly
* 1 serrano pepper, sliced in half
* 2 pounds boneless beef top sirloin, trimmed of all excess fat, cut into 1-inch cubes
* Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

For the wet masala: In a small skillet over medium-high heat, toast the cumin seeds, cinnamon bark, cloves, and peppercorns until fragrant, about 1 minute. Pour into a spice grinder and process until powdered. In a small food processor or blender, combine the toasted spice mix and the rest of the wet masala ingredients. Process until smooth.

Place a large (preferably nonstick) pot over high heat and add the oil. When the oil is shimmering, add the onions and serrano pepper. Stirring frequently, saute the onions until golden brown, about 12 minutes. Don't let them burn! Turn the heat down to medium-high if they're starting to burn.

Add the ground wet masala, taking care because it will sizzle wildly and steam up your glasses, if you wear them. Stir quite vigorously and turn down the heat if it's bubbling too furiously. Don't wash the food processor bowl yet. Keep stirring, with short pauses, until most of the liquid has evaporated and the masala comes together as one mass, about 2 minutes. Also, you may see little droplets of oil on the perimeter of the masala. That's a good sign!

Quickly add the meat and stir, coating the meat in the masala. Stir and cook about 5 minutes until the meat browns.

Remember that dirty food processor bowl? Fill it with 1 cup of hot water (from the tap is fine), swirl it around so it picks up any leftover masala, and pour that into the pot. Add salt and pepper, stir, bring the curry to a boil, and then turn it down to a simmer. Cover and cook 30 minutes. Then cook with the lid ajar for another 10 minutes to thicken the gravy slightly. Check the meat at the end of the cooking time; it should be tender and not chewy at all. Adjust the salt if you like, and serve over rice or with chapatis (whole wheat griddle bread).
Ginger-Garlic Paste:

* 1/2 cup cloves garlic, whole
* 1/2 cup fresh ginger, peeled, 1/2-inch slices
* 1/4 cup canola oil

Throw the garlic, ginger, and canola oil in a mini-food processor and let it go until it forms a semi-smooth paste. There will still be tiny little pieces in there, but overall, it should resemble a paste.

Save what you don't use in a small glass jar. It should last in the fridge for 2 to 3 weeks. It's a delicious addition to marinades, pasta sauces, stir fry sauces, slow-cooker recipes, gravy etc. We always had a jar of this stuff in our fridge growing up.

Cucumber Raita

Easy, refreshing, and delicious, this recipe goes great with any spicy Indian dish. This comes from Aarti on the Food Network.

Ingredients

* 2 cups plain whole milk or low-fat yogurt
* 2 cups grated English or Persian cucumber (unpeeled)
* 1 clove garlic, minced
* 4 sprigs fresh mint, leaves only, minced finely
* 1 teaspoon kosher salt
* 2 tablespoons golden raisins
* Freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Whisk the yogurt until smooth. Add the rest of the ingredients, plus a little freshly ground black pepper if you like. Stir, chill, and serve.

Chapatis (Indian Whole Wheat Griddle Bread)

This comes from my favorite Food Network star, Aarti Sequeira. They're not hard to make, but they do take some time.

Ingredients

* 2 cups whole wheat flour, plus more for rolling
* Big pinch fine sea salt
* 1 cup water
* 1/4 cup olive oil, vegetable oil, melted butter, or ghee

Directions

Pour the flour and salt into a large bowl. Slowly pour water into the flour, moving your other hand through the flour in circular motions, until it starts to come together. Then, either in the bowl or on your counter (which you might want to lightly flour to prevent sticking), knead the dough for about 10 minutes. The dough should be soft and pliant.

Return the ball of dough to the bowl and rub the surface of the dough with a little oil to keep it from drying out. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp cloth and allow to rest about 30 minutes.

When you're ready to make chapatis, assemble your tools: a small, flat bowl of whole wheat flour, a small bowl of olive oil or melted butter with a small spoon in it, and a paper towel-lined plate or container for the finished breads.

Heat a flat griddle or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, on a lightly-floured surface, work the ball of dough into a long log. Cut into 12 equal pieces by cutting it in half, and then half again. Cut each of the quarters into 3 equal pieces. Return to the bowl and cover with a damp towel to prevent them from drying out.

To roll the chapatis: Roll a piece of dough between your palms to form a ball, and then flatten with your palm. Dunk this puck in the bowl of flour, and then roll until it's a 4-inch circle. Spoon about 1/4 teaspoon of oil in the center of the circle, and spread it out almost to the perimeter of the circle using the back of the spoon. Fold the circle in half, then in half again, so it forms a triangle. Seal the edges, and dunk in flour again if it's sticky.

Start rolling, turning the triangle a quarter turn after each roll, until it's about 6-inches wide, with an even thickness. After some practice you'll be able to roll the chapati and rotate it without picking it up; I do this by weighing down a little on my right hand and pushing the chapati around that way.

Test the griddle by sprinkling a little flour on it; if it turns brown immediately, it's ready. Flapping the chapati between your hands to remove any excess flour, slap the chapati onto the griddle. It should start darkening almost immediately.

When small bubbles start to form, spread a little oil over the surface of the chapati, then flip. It should start to puff up. Spoon a little oil over this side too, and when it's puffed up a little more, flip. Press down on the edges of the chapati with your spatula or (if you're brave!) with a dry rag. This will seal the edges and encourage the entire chapati to puff up. If you spot any holes, press down on those too so the air doesn't escape. Allowing the air to stay inside the whole chapati makes it flaky and light. But don't fret if your first few don't puff up; it takes practice! It will still taste delicious.

Remove to your container. Repeat with the remaining dough, and serve the chapatis hot.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Buffalo Chicken Dip

My husband and I *love* a local restaurant's buffalo chicken dip, so we attempted making it a few times. We think we've gotten pretty close -- but if not, this dip is still delicious! The recipe makes a fair amount, so it's great for a party. I like to serve it with blue corn chips and celery sticks.

*2 (10-oz) cans chunk chicken, or about 1.5 lbs chicken breasts/tenders poached & cut into small chunks
*3/4 cup Frank's red hot sauce
*1 tbsp butter
*2 (8-oz) packages neufchatel cheese, softened
*1 cup ranch (or 1/2 cup ranch and 1/2 cup blue cheese dressing)
*1.5 cups cheddar cheese

Heat chicken, butter, and hot sauce in a saucepan over medium heat until heated through. Stir in cream cheese and ranch dressing. Cook, stirring until well-blended and warm. Mix in half the cheddar cheese and transfer mixture to a slow cooker. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top; cover and cook on low until hot and bubbly.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Lemon Curd Bars

Ingredients:
1 c. butter, softened
1 c. sugar
2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 t. baking powder
1 10-12 oz jar lemon curd
2/3 c. flaked coconut
1/2 c. sliced or slivered almonds or coarsely chopped pecans, toasted (I omitted this)

1. Preheat oven to 375. Line a 13x9x2 baking pan with foil. Grease and set aside.

2. In a large bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer for 30 seconds. Add sugar. Beat until combined, scraping bowl occasionally. Beat in flour and baking powder until combined (mixture will be crumbly). REmove 2/3 c. of the crumb mixture and set aside. Press the remaining crumb mixture evenly onto the bottom of the prepared baking pan.

3. Bake crust in the preheated oven for 6-8 minutes or until top is golden. Remove from oven. Spread lemon curd over hot crust to within 1/2 in. of the edges. In a medium bowl, stir together the reserved crumb mixture, coconut, and almonds (if using). Sprinkle mixture over lemon curd.

4. Bake for 18-20 min more or until edges are golden and topping is lightly browned. Cool in pan. Using the edges of the foil, lift uncut bars out of the pan and cut into bars.

Pecan Bars

Falling somewhere between a pie and a cookie, this pastry tops a crisp crust with a thick layer of pecans. The sweet pecan filling offers a delicious variation on the pecan pie-perfect for dessert, lunch, or an afternoon snack.

*NOTE: I recommend doubling the recipe for the topping b/c I like lots of caramel and pecans!*


Ingredients
Makes about 32 cookies

* 18 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
* 3/4 cup light-brown sugar, firmly packed
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 3 cups all-purpose flour
* 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
* 1/2 cup light-brown sugar, firmly packed
* 6 tablespoons honey
* 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
* 2 tablespoons heavy cream
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 2 cups (8 ounces) pecan halves
* 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions

1. Place rack in center of oven. Heat oven to 375 degrees. To make the crust: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix butter and brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add salt, and mix to combine. Add flour 1 cup at a time, on medium speed, mixing until fully incorporated after each addition. Continue mixing until the dough begins to come together in large clumps.
2. Press dough about 1/4-inch thick into a 9-by-13-by-1-inch baking pan. Prick the pastry with the tines of a fork. Chill until firm, about 20 minutes. Bake until golden brown, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool completely.
3. Reduce oven to 325 degrees. To make the filling: Place butter, brown sugar, honey, granulated sugar, heavy cream, and salt in a medium saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly until mixture coats the back of a spoon, about 1 minute. Remove pan from heat; stir in nuts and vanilla.
4. Pour filling onto the cooled crust. Bake until filling bubbles, 15 to 20 minutes. Carefully transfer pan to a wire rack to cool completely. Run a paring knife around edges of the pan, and invert onto cooling rack, leaving the pastry on the rack. Invert rack with pastry onto a cutting board, leaving the pastry on the board, filling side up. Use a sharp knife to cut into 1-by-3-inch bars. Store in an airtight container up to 1 week.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Focaccia Bread

This is a quick, easy, and delicious bread! My family likes to cut it into "strips" and dip into olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Yum!

1 cup warm water (~110 degrees)
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp active dry yeast
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried basil
pinch ground black pepper
1 3/4 cup bread flour (or all-purpose)
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp salt
olive oil
dried rosemary
parmesan cheese

Measure out warm water - add yeast and sugar and mix well. Let sit for 10 minutes to proof (it will get bubbly). Assemble other ingredients while waiting.

Pour yeast mixture into mixing bowl. Add the vegetable oil, all the herbs, then the flour and salt. Mix well with wooden spoon until it pulls together. Place bread on lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic. Drizzle some olive oil in mixing bowl, turn dough in it to coat, then cover with a towel and let rise for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Punch dough down; place in baking sheet coated with cooking spray (I use a 10x14 sheet pan and it's perfect). Pat the dough into a 1/2" thick rectangle. Brush the top with olive oil then sprinkle with coarse salt, parmesan cheese, and rosemary. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.