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easy penne alla vodka, broccoli
crockpot chicken enchilada soup
garlic sizzling shrimp, snap peas herbed cheese buttermilk biscuits
flat iron steak with red wine sauce, baked potatoes, green beans
bbq chicken thighs, skillet corn
pulled pork tacos with sweet chili slaw, black beans
Jap Chae

Monday, November 28, 2016

Basil Vinaigrette


Homemade vinaigrettes are incredibly easy to make when you use a mini-food processor. Add everything but the oil, stream it in with the processor running and you have vinaigrette. And it is so much better than anything you can find in a bottle. I usually have a bottle of homemade vinaigrette of some kind in our refrigerator to go along side the giant box of mixed greens from Costco. Those mixed greens last forever, I'm not sure what the secret is.  This recipe takes vinaigrette to the next level with the addition of sweet basil.  Be sure to taste the vinaigrette with a small piece of lettuce, add more sugar if necessary.
Basil Vinaigrette

¼ cup fresh lemon juice
¼ cup white vinegar
¼ cup chopped basil
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon sugar
¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Combine all ingredients except the oil in a mini-food processor. Pulse to combine. Stream in the olive oil with the processor on to emulsify the dressing. Serve over mixed greens.
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Monday, November 21, 2016

Crockpot Creamy White Chicken Chili


I knew I wanted to have white chicken chili on Halloween before we went out trick or treating. I wanted something creamier than my usual and could be made in the crockpot. The only wrench in the plans was the 80+ degree weather Halloween night!  We all had large servings and there was plenty left over for lunches and lunchboxes for the remainder of the week.  Miss F was a huge fan and I think she had it for lunch nearly every day of the week.  This recipe is adapted from Lovely Little Kitchen.
Crockpot Creamy White Chicken Chili

3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
14.5 ounce can chicken broth
1 cup milk
3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 ½ teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
½ cup salsa verde
2 cups frozen corn
2 15.5 ounce cans Great Northern beans, drained
½ cup sour cream
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 avocado
tortilla chips, for serving

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir in flour; keep stirring until smooth and bubbly. Remove from heat and add the chicken broth and milk, a little at a time, stirring to keep smooth. Return to heat. Bring sauce to a gentle boil; cook, stirring constantly, until it thickens. Add the sauce to the crockpot. Add the chicken breasts to the crockpot, sprinkle with the chili powder, cumin, onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Add the salsa, corn and beans. Stir to combine. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours. Remove the chicken from the crockpot and shred with two forks, return the shredded chicken into the crockpot, stir in the sour cream. Serve with cheddar cheese, diced avocado and tortilla chips.
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Thursday, November 17, 2016

Greek Goddess Dip


This dip is amazing. And amazingly easy to make, basically toss everything into the food processor and let it whirl, it doesn't get any simpler than that.  I was able to use fresh herbs from my mom's garden, along with some from the grocery store (parsley hasn't been so successful so far.)  This dip is bursting with fresh herbs and the Greek yogurt provides a great tanginess.  I served it with cucumber, bell pepper, carrots, celery and pita chips.  Any fresh veggie would work well with this dip, but I went with a simple assortment for my dinner party.  This recipe is from the NY Times.
Greek Goddess Dip

½ cup packed fresh dill
½ cup packed fresh parsley
⅓ cup packed fresh basil
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 ½ tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Pinch kosher salt, more to taste
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ cup crumbled feta cheese
¾ cup Greek yogurt
Raw chopped vegetables or pita chips, for serving

Process the dill, parsley, basil, garlic, lemon juice and salt together in a food processor until finely chopped. Drizzle in the olive oil through the feed tube with the processor running. Add the feta and process until smooth, stir in the yogurt. Serve with fresh vegetables and pita chips.
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Monday, November 14, 2016

Chocolate Buttermilk Muffins


I bought a jug of buttermilk to make a cake and besides making pancakes nearly every morning for breakfast, I was looking for another way to use up the leftovers.  Miss F was obsessed with these muffins, but that wasn't at all surprising since they are essentially chocolate-chocolate chip cupcakes without any frosting.  I want to make them again with peanut butter  chips, which I think would be fantastic, even though I wouldn't be able to send them to school with Miss F.  Recipe from Jen's Favorite Cookies.
Chocolate Buttermilk Muffins

⅓ cup vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup sugar
¼ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ cup cocoa powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups flour
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together the oil, buttermilk, eggs, vanilla, sugar and brown sugar. In a separate bowl, sift together the baking soda, baking powder, cocoa powder, salt and flour. Stir the flour mixture into the oil mixture, just until combined. Gently fold in the chocolate chips. Line a 12 cup muffin tin with paper liners, fill each liner 2/3 full. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes.
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Thursday, November 10, 2016

Oven Baked Zucchini Cakes


When I was planning my friend's 40th birthday celebration, I knew I wanted to serve my favorite crabcakes as a main course, but I did have a guest in attendance who is allergic to shellfish. I wanted to serve some thing that had the same look as the crabcakes did, without any shellfish component. After much searching on the internet, I found these baked zucchini cakes. I pre-baked them and then just broiled them when I broiled the crabcakes when it was time for dinner, which made things quite easy.  The feta adds a richness, similar to crab.  This would be great served along side roasted vegetables or a big salad.
Oven Baked Zucchini Cakes

1 medium zucchini, trimmed, peeled and grated
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 garlic clove, pressed
1 ½ teaspoons olive oil
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon chopped dill
1 egg
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
½ cup Panko breadcrumbs

Place the grated zucchini in a mesh strainer over a boil. Sprinkle with the salt and toss to combine. Let the zucchini rest for 20 minutes. Squeeze out as much liquid from the zucchini as possible. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a cookie sheet with cooking spray. In a medium bowl, stir together the zucchini, pepper, garlic, olive oil, baking powder, dill, egg, feta and Panko. Use ¼ cup of the mixture and form into a patty, place the patty on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining mixture. Spray each patty with cooking spray. Bake for 30 minutes, flipping each patty halfway through the cook time, until golden brown.

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Monday, November 7, 2016

Lemon Layer Cake


A dear friend was turning 40 and to celebrate, I hosted a girls only dinner party. The guest of honor requested a lemon cake for dessert and I happily agreed, since I love lemon almost as much as I love chocolate.  I used my go to, lemon cream cheese frosting, but I wanted to try a new lemon cake.  I have a major aversion to zest in cakes, I just don't enjoy the texture at all.  I heavily adapted this recipe from one I saw on the Chowhound message board.  The buttermilk gives it the perfect tang.  We devoured this cake, but I made sure to save a piece for Miss F, who was snoozing away upstairs while we celebrated (or cackled, as C calls it.) 
Lemon Layer Cake

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
3 large eggs
¼ cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1 cup buttermilk

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
½ cup butter, softened
¼ cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice
4 cups confectioners’ sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 8” round cake pans, set aside. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the sugar and butter until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Stir in the lemon juice. Add the flour and buttermilk in three additions, alternating between each. Divide the batter and pour into the two prepared pans. Bake for 32 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then remove the cakes from the pans to cool on a wire rack.

Beat together the cream cheese and butter for 3 minutes on medium speed. Add the lemon juice. Add the confectioners’ sugar 1 cup at a time and beat for 5 minutes more. Frost the cooled cakes.
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Thursday, November 3, 2016

Cucumber Lime Vodka Spritzer


A month or so ago, I went to Lake Charles for the weekend with a group of girlfriends. We stayed at the Golden Nugget and had an amazing time, I highly recommend it as a much cheaper alternative to Vegas. The drive was short and the hotel was quite lovely.  We ate a Vic and Anthony's one night and three of us ordered a cucumber lime cocktail.  And three of us looked at each other in horror when we tasted it, it was awful.  I love tart tart tart cocktails, but this was too much for even my taste.  We sent the drinks back, replaced them with something much more tasty, but I still craved a cucumber and lime cocktail.  I hosted a 40th birthday for a friend and decided to try something similar, but not terrible, on my own.  This cocktail is refreshing and tasty, without being terribly tart.
Cucumber Lime Vodka Spritzer
makes 16 cocktails

8 12-ounce cans club soda
2 cups vodka
½ cup fresh lime juice
1 English cucumber, thinly sliced

In a pitcher, combine the club soda, vodka, lime juice, and cucumber. Serve over ice.
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