lattice chicken pot pie
Mexican street corn pasta
chicken Ghiveci
creamy chicken tortilla soup, jalapeno jack popovers
butter basted ribeyes, twice baked potatoes, broccoli
brisket tacos, pinto beans
pork souvlaki, naan

Friday, December 30, 2011

Latin Style Chicken and Rice

Latin Style Chicken and RiceThere were so many recipes I wanted to try from the One Pot Meal Recipe Swap. I love only dirtying one dish and having an entire meal in one. the Latin Style Chicken and Rice one pot meal spoke to me, I adore saffron and peas, so I knew it would be a hit. Miss F was not a fan, she only like the peas. C ate his, which shocked me considering he has not been a big fan of saffron in the past. I really loved this dish, it comes together quickly and I usually have all the ingredients on hand, which is perfect for a weeknight meal.
Latin Style Chicken and Rice

2 chicken breasts, lightly seasoned with salt and pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ large onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup medium or long-grain rice
2 cups chicken broth
¼ tsp crumbled saffron threads
1 bay leaf
1 cup frozen peas,

Heat butter and oil in a heavy skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat until foam subsides. Add chicken, cook approximately 4-5 min per side. Transfer chicken to a plate. Cook onion and garlic with ¼ tsp each salt and pepper over medium heat until golden, about 6 minutes. Add rice and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add broth, bay leaf, and saffron; bring to a full boil. Return chicken to the pot, nestling it in the rice, keeping as much rice around, not under, the chicken. Also add any juices from the plate. Cover tightly and simmer over low heat until the chicken is cooked through, the rice is tender, and most of the liquid has absorbed; about 20-25 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in peas. Cover pot with a kitchen towel, and then the lid, and let stand until all of the liquid has absorbed, about 10 minutes. Discard bay leaf.
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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Sweet Potato Gratin with Gruyere

sweet potato gratinI made Gruyere popovers for Thanksgiving and I had some Gruyere leftover. When I saw this recipe on A Taste of Home Cooking, I knew I wanted to try it.  This recipe is very simple, but it does take some time to cook.  I really enjoyed the gratin, but C was not a fan.  He said he would like it better with normal potatoes.  I may try a mix of russets and sweet potatoes next time, similar to Potatoes Dauphinois.  This recipe would be perfect for Thanksgiving since I much prefer a savory dish of sweet potatoes to the usual marshmallow mess.
Sweet Potato Gratin with Gruyere

2 ½ cups heavy cream
1 ½ teaspoons salt
4 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled
¾ cup shredded gruyere

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 9 x 9 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Place baking dish on baking sheet.

Stir together heavy cream and salt in large bowl. Thinly slice sweet potatoes using either a mandoline or a sharp knife. Add to bowl with the heavy cream and salt.

Layer 1/3 of yams in baking dish. Sprinkle with half of the cheese. Repeat with another 1/3 of yams and the remainder of cheese. Top with remaining yams. Pour any remaining yam-cream mixture over top.

Bake uncovered on center rack of oven for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and press a spatula, carefully, against the top layer to allow liquid to flow over the "crust." Replace pan in oven and bake an additional 30 minutes. Remove pan, press top layer and replace pan in oven. Bake for another 40-45 minutes or until yams are tender. Remove from oven, let rest 15 minutes, then serve.
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Monday, December 26, 2011

Chipotle Pork Tacos

chipotle pork tacosTacos made in the crockpot are about my favorite thing to eat out of a crockpot.  Smoky Pork Tinga Tacos were on one of my most favorite blogs, Prevention RD, last week.  I made some changes, mainly omitting the chorizo because I am not a huge fan of it.  The fire roasted tomatoes and chipotles gave the tacos an intense smoky flavor.  The meat was so tender at the end of cooking, I went ahead and shredded it before it totally fell apart on its own.  These tacos were delicious.  They make me want to try Chipotle Short Rib Tacos in the crockpot, it makes for such an easy weeknight dinner.  I served these on corn tortillas, which was perfect. 
Chipotle Pork Tacos

½ pound red skin potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 ½ pounds boneless pork loin, trimmed of fat and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 14 ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
3 chipotles in adobo, diced
1 tablespoon adobo sauce
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon dried oregano
3 garlic cloves, minced
½ medium white onion, sliced ¼ -inch thick
½ teaspoon salt

Spread the potatoes over the bottom of a slow cooker and top with the pork.

In a large bowl, mix the tomatoes with the chipotles, adobo sauce, Worcestershire, oregano, garlic, onion, and salt. Pour the mixture evenly over the meat and potatoes.

Cover and slow cook on high for 6 hours or low for 8-10 hours.

Serve with warm corn tortillas, cheese, avocados, and salsa for making soft tacos.
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Friday, December 23, 2011

Crockpot Beef Stew with Cognac

crockpot beef stew with cognacWhenever Ina Garten says "cognac" it always makes me chuckle. She is so dramatic with her pronunciation.  Just one ingredient turns an ordinary crockpot beef stew into something much much better.  And with a much fancier name.  The cognac adds a richness to the stew and I really enjoy the flavor.  That being said, I still like to trash up the leftover stew with a hit or two of ketchup, which is my mom's secret ingredient to beef stew.  I grew up with it and it is very comforting to me, as beef stew should be.
Crockpot Beef Stew with Cognac

1 ½ to 2 pounds stew beef, cut into 1” cubes
3 tablespoons flour
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic , minced
5 carrots, cut into 1” pieces
2 russet potatoes, cut into 1” pieces
½ cup cognac
2 cups beef broth
1 can diced tomatoes
2 sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf

Toss the beef with the flour, salt and pepper generously. Layer the onion, garlic, carrots and potatoes in the crockpot. Top with the flour coated beef. Pour the cognac, wine, broth and tomatoes over top of the beef and vegetables. Add the thyme and bay leaf. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.
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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Ginger Pork with Oyster Sauce

ginger pork with oyster sauceThis stir fry was originally supposed to be Ginger Lime Shrimp.  But C got sick with a nasty stomach bug and had to cancel his dinner out.  Which meant no cooking of "stinky shrimp" (his words) at home.  I love stir fry, especially one with a rich brown sauce.  There was a debate at the dinner table of whether it was pork or beef...for the record Miss F was right and C was wrong.  This stir fry would also be great with beef or even chicken.  I hope to make a lighter ginger lime shrimp stir fry someday soon when C is out for F and I.  Thank goodness she loves shrimp as much as I do.
Ginger Pork with Oyster Sauce

2 thick cut pork chops, cut into bite sized pieces

Marinade for pork:
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon dry sherry
1 tablespoon water

1 tablespoon cornstarch
6 tablespoons water
2 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons oyster sauce

1 cup snow peas
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
¼ onion, chopped
2 tablespoons cooking oil
2 slices ginger, shredded
1 tablespoon chopped garlic

Transfer pork to a mixing bowl. Add marinade ingredients and toss to coat thoroughly. Let stand for 30 minutes or longer. In a separate bowl, mix cornstarch, water, soy sauce and oyster sauce in a small bowl.
In a wok heat 1 tablespoon oil over high heat, add vegetables. Stir-fry for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove to a plate. Wipe wok with paper towels. Heat the remaining tablespoon oil in the wok. When hot, add ginger and garlic; after a few seconds, add pork mixture. Stir-fry for 2 to 4 minutes. Pour in the sauce. Stir until thickened. Return vegetables to the wok. Serve over rice.
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Monday, December 19, 2011

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

peanut butter chocolate chip cookiesMy friend hosted another fantastic cookie exchange this year, complete with an amazing Proseco punch. Last year I made Cayenne Chocolate Cookies for the exchange, but this year I needed something quick and easy, there was no time for ribbons and labels. We came home from a week in Disney World the day before the exchange, so I wanted to make something with ingredients I had on hand. I thumbed through my BHG cookbook and came across a recipe for a traditional peanut butter cookie, you know the one with the fork marks on it. I decided to add chocolate chips and hope for the best. The result was awesome. They weren't overwhelmingly peanut-y and the chocolate chips really added to the cookie.  And the highest compliment was that Confections of a Foodie Bride enjoyed them with her daughter.
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
adapted from BHG

½ cup peanut butter
½ cup butter, softened
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup packed brown sugar
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 egg
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup chocolate chips

In a large mixing bowl beat peanut butter and butter with electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add granulated sugar and brown sugar, baking soda, and salt. Beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in egg and vanilla until combined. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Stir in any remaining flour. Stir in chocolate chips. Cover and refrigerate dough about 1 hour or until easy to handle.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Shape dough in 1-inch balls. Place balls 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake about 8 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Transfer to wire racks. Cool. Makes about 3 dozen cookies.
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Friday, December 16, 2011

Recipe Swap: Spoon Cookies

Spoon CookiesIt's time for another recipe swap! The theme of this week's swap is holiday desserts and cookies. I submitted my mom's Blackbottoms for the swap since they are my favorite treat during the holidays. I received Spoon Cookies from Does Not Cook Well With Others.  I filled the spoon cookies with apricot preserves and I didn't bother straining them, which worked fine.  These cookies are a totally new way to prepare cookies and they don't contain eggs, which is great for people who are allergic.   The teaspoon method resulted in adorable bite sized cookies. Thanks to A Taste of Home Cooking for hosting the swap.
Spoon Cookies

2 sticks (1 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
¾ cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt, slightly rounded
1/3 cup fruit preserves (your choice)

Fill kitchen sink with about 2 inches of cold water. Melt butter in a 2- to 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until butter turns golden with a nutlike fragrance and flecks on bottom of pan turn a rich caramel brown, 10 to 12 minutes. (Butter will initially foam, then dissipate. A thicker foam will appear and cover the surface just before butter begins to brown; stir more frequently toward end of cooking.) Place pan in sink to stop cooking, then cool, stirring frequently, until butter starts to look opaque, about 4 minutes. Remove pan from sink and stir in sugar and vanilla.

Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl and stir into butter mixture until a dough forms. Shape into a ball, wrap with plastic wrap, and let stand at cool room temperature 1 to 2 hours (to allow flavors to develop).

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 325°F.

Press a piece of dough into bowl of teaspoon, flattening top, then slide out and place, flat side down, on an ungreased baking sheet. (Dough will feel crumbly, but will become cohesive when pressed.) Continue forming cookies and arranging on sheet. Bake cookies until just pale golden, 8 to 15 minutes. Cool cookies on sheet on a rack 5 minutes, then transfer cookies to rack and cool completely, about 30 minutes.

While cookies cool, heat preserves in a small saucepan over low heat until just runny, then pour through a sieve into a small bowl, pressing hard on solids, and cool completely.

Spread the flat side of a cookie with a thin layer of preserves. Sandwich with flat side of another cookie. Continue with remaining cookies and preserves, then let stand until set, about 45 minutes. Transfer cookies to an airtight container and wait 2 days before eating.
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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Cranberry Barbecue Sauce

barbecue cranberry turkeyThis sauce is the perfect thing for turkey leftovers. I personally don't like cranberry sauce, but I love it in this barbecue sauce. It has a nice vinegary kick that works perfectly with the sweetness and tartness of the cranberries. I served these sandwiches on brioche buns, which are by far my most favorite sandwich roll ever.  I also added sliced pickles on my sandwich, which worked great.  I had intended to try and make sweet potato tots instead of spicy sweet potato wedges with it, but processing the sweet potatoes was a bit I gave up.  I think I need to attempt them with regular potatoes first.
Cranberry Barbecue Sauce

1/3 cup ketchup
1/3 cup cranberry sauce
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
¼ cup water
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
½ teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon mustard
1 teaspoon hot sauce
½ teaspoon salt

Whisk together all ingredients in a small sauce pan over medium-high heat. Once the mixture comes to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes to thicken. Serve with leftover turkey on brioche buns.
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Monday, December 12, 2011

Skillet Corn

skillet cornI love corn, especially fresh corn on the cob in the summertime. I saw a recipe for Skillet Scalloped Corn on Gourmet Day to Day.  While I wasn't very interested in adding Ritz crackers or cheese to corn, I was into the idea of having corn as a side dish other than corn on the cob.  So I changed up the recipe to better suit my tastes, which worked great.  The flavor profile really reminded me of Summer Sweet Corn Pasta, which is a favorite pasta around here.  Since we are in the middle of winter, I used frozen corn, but this side would be exceptional with fresh when it is in season.
Skillet Corn

1 tablespoon olive oil
½ red bell pepper, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 package frozen corn, 12 ounces
½ cup half and half
3 green onions, sliced

In a sauté pan, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the bell pepper and sauté until crisp tender, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for 30 second more. Add the corn, reduce the heat to medium and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes more. Add the half and half, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 8 to 10 minutes more. Serve with green onions on top.
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Friday, December 9, 2011

Apple Cider Pancakes

apple cider pancakeEvery Thanksgiving, I serve warm apple cider. I keep it in the crockpot, simmering all day long with cinnamon sticks and apple slices. Whether it is cold outside or not, I always have a cup or two. The morning after Thanksgiving I was faced with a lot of leftover cider and a hungry crew. I did some googling and came across this recipe for Apple Cider Pancakes. I changed it up a bit, omitting the apples and substituting applesauce for oil. The batter is runnier that what I am used to cooking with, so my first batch looked less than perfect. Once I got the hang of it, they turned out beautifully. The apple flavor is not overwhelming, but it adds a nice sweetness.
Apple Cider Pancakes

1 ½ cups flour
1 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 egg
2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup milk
1 cup apple cider
Shortening for greasing the pan

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, applesauce and milk. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and then add in cider. Stir until just incorporated and a few lumps remain. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and brush with shortening. Pour batter onto skillet by 1/4 cupfuls into circles. Cook pancakes until large bubbles begin to appear on the surface, 2 to 3 minutes, then flip carefully and cook until bottom side is golden brown, about 2 minutes longer. Repeat with remaining batter, brushing pan with shortening as needed.
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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Balsamic and Brown Sugar Pork Chops

balsamic and brown sugar pork chopsI saw this recipe on Pinterest from the C+C Marriage Factory.  I was very interested in the flavors, but I wasn't set on making a pork roast in the crockpot.  I am not a big fan of pork roast in the crockpot, unless it is for pulled pork, Dr. Pepper pulled pork to be specific.  I adapted their recipe to work with oven baked pork chops for an easy weeknight meal.  I used thick cut boneless pork chops, but it could easily be made on the stovetop with thinner cuts, bone in or not.
Balsamic and Brown Sugar Pork Chops

4 thick cut pork chops
1 tablespoon olive oil
¼ cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
¼ cup water
2 teaspoons corn starch

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Rub the pork chops with the oil and salt and pepper liberally, place in a baking dish. Bake for 20 minutes. While the pork chops are baking, bring the sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, water and corn starch to a boil in a small sauce pan. Glaze the pork chops with the vinegar mixture and return to the oven for 20 minutes more, or until cooked through.
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Monday, December 5, 2011

Sesame Peas and Carrots

sesame peas and carrotsI love anything with Panko bread crumbs. I have been making Pork Tonkatsu often because it reminds me so much of my beloved Pork Things.  I have made this recipe with green beans in the past, but it was nothing special, I wanted something new.  C is a huge fan of snow peas, Miss F likes them too, but she always tries to squeeze the 'peas' from them.  I had carrots leftover from C's birthday carrot cake, so this recipe was born.  It would work with any vegetable that can be stir fried quickly.  I also like to add Sriracha at the end to ensure Miss F will eat her veggies.
Sesame Peas and Carrots

2 teaspoons canola oil
1 cup snow peas
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil (I used spicy sesame oil)
2 teaspoons sesame seeds

In a wok or skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat.  Add the snow peas and carrots, saute, stirring often, for 3 to 4 minutes, until vegetables become crisp tender.  Pour the soy sauce over top and saute for a minute more.  Toss the peas and carrots with the sesame oil and sprinkle the sesame seeds on top.  Serve alone or over rice.
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Friday, December 2, 2011

Apricot Baked Brie

apricot baked brieI got this recipe from one of my mom's neighbors years ago. She also makes the same thing with honeycup mustard instead of apricot preserves for something more savory than sweet. This is one of my easy go to appetizers for a party. It has just a few ingredients and has very little to prep. I could eat the whole thing myself, easily.  I adore brie, how can you not?  And since you are eating it with fruit, it is a little healthy, right?  At least that is what I tell myself.
Apricot Baked Brie

1 wheel of Brie
¼ cup apricot preserves
1 sheet of puff pastry
Apple and pear slices, grapes, crackers

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease a glass baking dish with no-stick cooking spray. Top the wheel of brie with apricot preserves and wrap with the puff pastry. Place the brie with the puff pastry seam down in the baking dish. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until pastry is browned. Serve with apples, pears, grapes and crackers.
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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Chocolate Glazed Doughnuts

chocolate glazed doughnutsAh the doughnut pan, it is both a blessing and a curse. Miss F asks for doughnuts nearly every day for breakfast. So on the days when we have no where to school, no gymnastics, no dance class and no swim lessons...I break out the doughnut pan and we make doughnuts. She insists on eating them whole, but uses a fork to stab the doughnut and eat her way around. I adapted the recipe from the chocolate iced doughnuts since they are Miss F' favorite to make a chocolatey doughnut with a simple powdered sugar glaze. The doughnuts themselves are not overly sweet, but the glaze more than makes up for it.
Chocolate Glazed Doughnuts 
makes 12 doughnuts

1 tablespoon butter, melted
¾ cup buttermilk
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups cake flour, sifted
½ cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt

½ cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon milk
¼ teaspoon vanilla

Preheat the oven to 425. Spray your doughnut pan with non-stick spray.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the melted butter, buttermilk, and beaten eggs. In a large mixing bowl, sift together the cake flour, sugar, baking powder, cocoa and salt. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir together until just combined.

Carefully spoon the batter into the prepared doughnut pan about 2/3 full. Bake for 7-8 minutes, or until the tops of the doughnuts spring back when lightly touched.

While the doughnuts are baking, prepare the glaze by mixing together the powdered sugar, milk and vanilla together in a shallow bowl.

Allow to cool in the pan for a couple minutes. Remove the doughnuts onto a rack to finish cooling and dip the doughnuts into the prepared glaze.
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Monday, November 28, 2011

Crockpot Hawaiian Chicken

crockpot hawaiian chickenThere is just something about pineapple rings that is nostalgic. I picture them laying on top of cottage cheese that is set on a lettuce leaf, with a maraschino cherry in the center of course. No matter how you 'slice' it, they look dated (or nostalgic if you are trying to be nice.) Nonetheless, pineapple slices work perfectly in this recipe. I adpated the recipe from Stephanie Cooks, adding soy sauce to make it more savory than sweet. This is an easy meal, just steam some broccoli on the side and you are set for dinner.  Add a maraschino cherry to the center of each pineapple ring and you are dining in the 1970s.
Crockpot Hawaiian Chicken

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 (20 ounce) can pineapple slices, juice reserved
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
Juice from one lemon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
2 tablespoons cornstarch

Place chicken in slow cooker sprayed with non-stick spray. Place pineapple slices over chicken. In a small bowl, combine pineapple juice, brown sugar, soy sauce, lemon juice, ginger and cornstarch and stir until combined. Pour over chicken. Cover and cook on low for 4 to 5 hours or high for 2 ½ to 3 hours. Serve over rice.
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Friday, November 25, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cupcakes

chocolate chip cupcakesAt Miss F's school, they celebrate birthdays with a small party at the end of the school day, Miss F request chocolate chip cupcakes. She loves to snack on a chocolate chip or ten while I am baking. Interestingly enough, her grandad always requested white cake with chocolate chips in it for his birthday. So I decided to recreate it in cupcake form. The issue with grandad's cake was that the chocolate chips always sunk to the bottom. I got mini chocolate chips in order to address the sinking issue. It wasn't 100% effective, but they worked much better than the regular size chocolate chips. The white cake recipe is adapted from The Joy of Baking and the chocolate frosting recipe is my mom's. All the kids seemed to favor the frosting and one of the kids in her class pretended the cupcake was a phone. Thank goodness he had eaten most of the frosting off the top of the cupcake first.
Chocolate Chip Cupcakes

2 large eggs, separated
1 ¾ cups sifted cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated white sugar, divided
1 teaspoon pure vanilla
½ cup milk
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
¾ cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place rack in center of oven. Prepare 24 cupcake pans with paper or foil liners.

While eggs are still cold separate the eggs, placing the yolks in one bowl and the whites in another bowl. Cover the two bowls with plastic wrap and allow the eggs to come to room temperature before using (about 30 minutes).

In a mixing bowl sift or whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

In bowl of electric mixer, beat the butter until soft (about 1-2 minutes). Add ¾ cup of the sugar and beat until light and fluffy (about 2-3 minutes). Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the vanilla extract and beat until combined.

With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and milk, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour.

In a clean bowl of your electric mixer, with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and continue beating until soft peaks form. Gradually add the remaining ¼ cup of sugar and continue to beat until stiff peaks form. With a rubber spatula gently fold a little of the whites into the batter to lighten it, and then fold in the remaining whites until combined. Do not over mix the batter or it will deflate.

Divide the batter evenly between the two prepared pans and smooth the tops with an offset spatula or the back of a spoon. Bake in the preheated oven for approximately 15 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

Cool the cupcakes on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Frost with chocolate buttercream when cooled.

Chocolate Buttercream

1 stick butter, softened
3 cups confectioner's sugar
2/3 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
5 to 6 tablespoons milk

Cream together butter, 1 cup of the sugar, cocoa, vanilla and 1 tablespoon of the milk. Slowly add the remaining milk and sugar, alternating. Makes 2 cups.
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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Duchess Potatoes

duchess potatoesI got this recipe from Pinterest, it was originally published here.  I didn't pipe the potatoes, so the presentation isn't as pretty, but I was just making these for a weeknight dinner, so presentation wasn't so important.  And I am not good at piping.  And piping something hot sort of scares me.   These potatoes remind me very much of my favorite potatoes, truffled potatoes.  These would be great for a dinner party because you could prepare the ramekins beforehand and just bake them when you are ready to serve.
Duchess Potatoes

2 pounds potatoes
Salt to taste
2 tablespoons salted butter
¾ cup grated cheddar cheese
½ teaspoon ground white pepper
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon water

Peel potatoes, add to pot, cover and bring to a boil. When the pot comes to a boil, add salt to taste. Cook until fork tender, about 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mash potatoes while hot and ensure that there are no lumps. Add butter, white pepper and cheese to potatoes while it is still hot. Mix thoroughly and taste for seasoning (salt and pepper). Mix in beaten egg ensuring that it is fully incorporated into the mixture. Snip one bottom-end of the plastic zip bag about ¾-inch across. Add the potato mixture to the bag and squeeze the top in order to force the mixture through the hole in the bag. Pipe the potatoes into the ramekins going in a circular motion until the ramekin is filled about 1 above the rim. Repeat until all the bowls are filled. Transfer the bowls onto baking sheet/tray. In the small bowl, add the paprika and ½ teaspoon water and make into a paste. Using the pastry brush, lightly brush the edges of the potatoes. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes or until the edges are lightly brown.
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Monday, November 21, 2011

Eat to the Beat: "Me In Honey" Loukoumades

loukoumadesOne of my most favorite bloggers, Elly of Elly Says Opa, is celebrating her fifth blogging anniversary with a blogging event called "Eat to the Beat."  The idea behind it is to blog a recipe that somehow relates to a favorite song.  I lucked on this, since I have been wanting to make Elly's own recipe for Loukoumades, the Greek honey doughnut balls that we love eating at the Greek Festival.  And honey ties in perfectly with one of my favorite songs from high school, Me in Honey by REM.  The whole album of Out of Time reminds me of my days in high school, I listened to that CD over and over again.  I always liked Me in Honey because it featured Kate Pierson of the B-52s, she has the coolest voice.  Happy fifth anniversary to Elly Says Opa!

2 ¼ teaspoons dry active yeast
1 cup warm (100-110 degrees) water
½ cup milk (brought to room temperature)
2 ¼ cups flour (maybe more)
1 ½ teaspoon sugar
¼ teaspoon salt

½ cup water
½ cup honey
½ cup sugar

Vegetable/neutral oil for frying
Powdered sugar for topping

In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Sift together the flour, salt and sugar. Add that, along with the milk, to the yeast. Add more flour if necessary to achieve a thick pancake batter like consistency. Cover the bowl with a clean towel and let it rise in a warm place (80-85 degrees) for about 2 hours.

When the batter has risen (it will be about 3 times its original size) heat your oil to about 365 degrees (if you have a candy thermometer) Coat a metal soup with oil and use it to drop the batter by the teaspoon full into the hot oil. Fry until just golden brown and then put them on a cooling rack placed over a pan (to catch the oil).

To make the syrup, bring the honey, sugar and water to a boil in a small saucepan. Boil for a couple minutes to thicken slightly and then skim the foam off the top. Pour the mixture over the fritters. Top with powdered sugar. Serve immediately.
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Friday, November 18, 2011

Recipe Swap: Crockpot Spaghetti and Meatballs

crockpot spaghetti and meatballsThe theme of this week's recipe swap was One Pot Meals. I received Crockpot Spaghetti and Meatballs from The Cookaholic Wife. I am not a big fan of meat sauces on my pasta, so meatballs are perfect for my family since both C and Miss F love meat.  I adapted the recipe a bit because I didn't want to use jarred sauce.  This recipe is a keeper.  The meatballs were a huge hit with Miss F and surprisingly, I really enjoyed them as well.  The house smelled amazing all day as the sauce simmered away.  The meatballs held together beautifully and were perfectly cooked.  Thanks so much to A Taste of Home Cooking for hosting another fantastic swap.
Crockpot Spaghetti and Meatballs

½ pound ground beef
½ pound Italian sausage
1 egg
½ cup bread crumbs
1 teaspoon oregano
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 - 14.5 ounce cans diced tomatoes
6 ounce can tomato paste
½ cup red wine
½ onion, diced
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 pound dried spaghetti

In a large bowl, mix together the ground beef, sausage, eggs, bread crumbs, oregano, garlic, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Form the meat mixture into 16-20 meatballs. In the crock pot, add the diced tomatoes, tomato paste, wine, onion, basil, oregano and red pepper flakes. Stir to combine. Add the meatballs into the crock pot and cook on low for 6-8 hours. About 15 minutes before serving, bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add in the spaghetti noodles and cook according to package directions. Drain and serve meatballs and sauce over noodles.
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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Truffle Butter Turkey

Truffle Butter TurkeyMy friend Courtney raved about this turkey recipe. It wasn't so much a recipe, as it was an idea of adding truffle butter to the turkey. I love turkey, I love truffles, I certainly love butter. This was a no brainer. Truffle butter turkey was happening. I always buy an extra turkey around the holidays to store in the freezer to have a Sunday in the winter. The gravy was amazing, the truffle flavor was present, but not overpowering. I always stuff my turkey, no matter what Alton Brown says, I think it is the only way to go. Stuffing from the bird is a thing of beauty. And it is all the more beautiful flavored with truffles.  This recipe is a combination of my family recipe for drunken turkey, with the addition of truffle butter and some Martha Stewart gravy thrown in for good measure.
Truffle Butter Turkey

1 whole fresh turkey
½ cup unsalted butter
2 cups dry white wine
4 bay leaves
1 3 ounce container truffle butter
1 cup chicken or turkey stock.

Pan drippings
1 cup dry white wine
¼ cup flour
4 cups chicken or turkey stock
2 tablespoons butter
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

Let turkey stand at room temperature for 1 hour. Combine butter, wine and whole bay leaves in small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and remove from heat.

Preheat oven to 425 with rack in the lowest position. Rinse inside and outside of turkey and pat dry with paper towels. Place turkey, breast side up, on a rack in a roasting pan. Tuck wings under turkey. Season cavity with salt and pepper and fill cavity with stuffing. Using your fingers to gently pull the skin from the turkey, spread the truffle butter between the turkey skin and the meat. Pour stock in the bottom roasting pan.

Place turkey, legs first, into oven. Roast for 30 minutes, then baste with wine butter mixture. Reduce temperature to 350 and roast, basting with wine butter mixture every 30 minutes for 2 ½ hours. Add more stock to pan if necessary to prevent pan drippings from burning. Roast until skin is golden brown and thickest part of thigh registers 165 on a meat thermometer. Transfer turkey to a rimmed baking sheet, reserving pan juices and roasting pan, let rest for 30 minutes before carving.

Pour reserved pan juices into a gravy separator and let stand 10 minutes. Pour or spoon off fat.
Place reserved roasting pan on 2 burners over medium heat. Add wine and bring to a gentle simmer, scraping brown bits with a wooden spoon. Whisk flour and stock in a large bowl until combined. Add defatted pan juices, whisking to combine, then pour into roasting pan. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until reduced by half and thickened, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove pan from heat and whisk in butter. Strain through a sieve and discard solids. Season with salt and pepper.
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Monday, November 14, 2011

Cookies and Cream Cheesecakes

cookies and cream cheesecakesI made these adorable cupcake sized cheesecakes for our girls' weekend to Galveston. They are simple to make and you get to take some aggression out when you crush the cookies for the batter.  These were even easier for me because Miss F helped get the cupcake liners ready, she'll do anything for an Oreo cookie reward.  The Oreo cookies make a perfect "crust" for the individual cheesecakes, so cute!
Martha Stewart's Cookies and Cream Cheesecakes Recipe
makes 30

42 Oreos, 30 left whole, and 12 coarsely chopped
2 pounds cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
1 cup sour cream
Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Place 1 whole cookie in the bottom of each lined cup. With an electric mixer on medium high speed, beat cream cheese until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Gradually add sugar, and beat until combined. Beat in vanilla. Drizzle in eggs, a bit at a time, beating to combine and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in sour cream and salt. Stir in chopped cookies by hand. Divide batter evenly among cookie-lined cups, filling each almost to the top. Bake, rotating pan halfway through, until filling is set, about 22 minutes. Transfer to wire racks to cool completely. Refrigerate at least 4 hours (or up to overnight). Remove from tins just before serving.
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Friday, November 11, 2011

Beef Tenderloin with Herb Butter

beef tenderloin with herb butterOne of the best things about our local Asian grocer besides the fact that there is a BYOB crawfish restaurant inside the store, is that you can get beef tenderloin there for $4.99 a pound. There is no point in cooking with a cheaper cut of beef, because nothing is really cheaper than that. And nothing tastes better than tenderloin.  This is my friend Courtney's recipe.  She is a fantastic cook.  Her recipes never disappoint (fat bread and Jambalaya-Mary-laya.)  And she shares my love of the Asian grocer tenderloin.  We had fajitas made with it at her birthday party a few weeks back.  Beef tenderloin fajitas...yum.
Beef Tenderloin with Herb Butter

1 (3-pound) center-cut beef tenderloin roast
Cracked black pepper
Tony Chacheres Cajun spice
1 tablespoon olive oil

Set oven temperature to 475°F. Pat tenderloin dry. Rub oil over tenderloin, then sprinkle with Tony’s and black pepper liberally, rubbing. Put tenderloin on rack in roasting pan and roast 10 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 425°F and cook until thermometer inserted diagonally into center of meat registers 125°F, 20 to 25 minutes for medium-rare with instant read thermometer. Let beef stand on rack in pan 10 minutes before serving covered in foil. Cut beef into ¼ to ½ inch-thick slices and serve with a dot of rosemary butter on top.

Herb Butter

1 stick salted butter
2 teaspoons rosemary sprigs, finely chopped (can also use thyme or any other favorite herb)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard

Cream the butter and blend in the rosemary. Mix in the pepper, lemon juice, garlic and mustard. Spoon the mixed butter onto a sheet of plastic wrap and roll into a log shape. Place in the freezer to chill for half an hour, then remove to keep in the refrigerator until ready for use.
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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Thai Chicken and Broccoli

spicy thai chicken and broccoliThis was not a fun dinner. Miss F was not a fan of the "mell", she thought something smelled bad. C was suspicious and then refused to eat the dish since he suspected it contained fish sauce. This made Miss F refuse to eat it, which is a shame because I know she would have liked it, since the flavors are similar to Drunken Noodles. C cooked chicken nuggets for her and said "no more fish sauce." Sigh. I thoroughly enjoyed this stir fry adapted from "300 Best Stir-Fry Recipes" by Nancie McDermott. Ah well, more leftovers for me.
Thai Chicken and Broccoli

1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon black soy sauce
2 tablespoons fish sauce
½ cup chicken broth
4 teaspoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
2 cups of bite size broccoli florets
½ teaspoon chili paste
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1 tablespoon garlic

Combine in a small bowl start with the oyster sauce, black soy sauce, fish sauce, and broth. Set aside.

Heat pan on medium high until hot then add oil, swirl the pan to coat the bottom, then add the chicken. Stir fry the chicken until just cooked through, add the broccoli and stir fry for 3 minutes more. Make a well in the center and add chili paste, garlic and ginger. Sauté for about 30 seconds, toss to combine.

Whisk sauce then add cornstarch and whisk again. Add the sauce to the chicken and broccoli. Stir to combine remove from heat. Serve immediately over rice.
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Monday, November 7, 2011

Chocolate Glazed Pumpkin Cookies

chocolate glazed pumpkin cookiesI first saw these cookies on Pinterest, but it was for a "skinny" version. If I am eating a cookie, I am eating a cookie. So I found the original recipe from Martha Stewart and realized that it was much more my style than the "skinny" version. These were a big hit with Miss F. She snuck a couple before I had a chance to add the chocolate and after I added the chocolate...well...let's just say she ate a lot. These are more like spheres and not so much like cookies, but chocolate glazed pumpkin balls just doesn't sound right.  I think next time I bake these I am going to use an actual piping bag and tip.  I am not so talented with the Ziplock bag method.
Chocolate Glazed Pumpkin Cookies

2 cups all-purpose flour, (spooned and leveled)
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon pumpkin-pie spice
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 can (15 ounces) pure pumpkin puree
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, pumpkin-pie spice, and salt; set aside. Using an electric mixer, beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg; beat until smooth. With mixer on low speed, alternately add flour mixture in two parts and pumpkin puree in one, beginning and ending with flour mixture; mix just until combined (do not overmix). Drop dough by heaping tablespoons onto two baking sheets, about 1 1/2 inches apart. Bake until puffed and edges are golden, 15 to 20 minutes, rotating sheets once during baking. Immediately transfer cookies to wire racks, and cool completely.

When cookies have cooled, set them (still on rack) over a baking sheet or waxed paper. Place chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl set over (not in) a saucepan of simmering water; stir until almost melted. Remove from heat; stir until completely melted. Pour chocolate into a resealable plastic bag. Snip off a corner with scissors or a knife to make an 1/8-inch hole; pipe chocolate over cookies. Refrigerate until chocolate is firm, about 20 minutes.
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Friday, November 4, 2011

Chocolate Buttermilk Cookies

chocolate buttermilk cookiesI have had these cookies pinned on Pinterest for weeks. Once we returned from our vacation in Nevis, I knew it was time to make them since I was wanting to bake and I needed dessert for Miss F's lunch box. Usually, Finley is a big fan of helping me bake. But not with these cookies, she was in a miserable mood after her nap and stirring was not on her agenda. Turns out it was a good thing since the cookie batter needs to chill for three hours, that way I was able to bake them once she went to bed and I didn't have to feel bad about not giving her a cookie after her melt down. These cookies are soft and delicious, thanks to Creative Nirvana for the wonderful recipe.
Chocolate Buttermilk Cookies

2 cups all purpose flour
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
½ cup butter, room temperature
¾ cup cocoa powder
2 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
2 cups chocolate chips

In a large bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, and salt. In another large bowl, combine the butter and cocoa powder. Mix well. Add the sugar, vanilla, buttermilk and eggs while stirring. Add the liquid mixture to the dry mixture. Stir using a spatula at first to gently combine the ingredients, and then mix with an electric mixer to make sure the dough is well combined. Add the chocolate chips and mix well. Place the cookie dough in the refrigerator for 3 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350⁰F and line a cookie sheet with a Silpat or parchment paper. Make 1 inch cookie dough balls, and place them on the cookie sheet (I used a cookie scoop). Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes or until the cookies smell done. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to completely cool.
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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Pork Shawarma

pork shawarmaWhen I saw a recipe for Chicken Shawrma on Budget Bytes, I was curious. I am normally not a huge fan of "sweeter" spices in meat marinades, but I was trying her recipe for Naan, so I decided to give it a go. But I didn't have any chicken and wasn't in the mood to endure Costco to get some. So I made it with pork instead. And that turned out to be a genius decision. Miss F adored the pork almost as much as she liked the Naan. I loved it to, it was so moist. We don't have a grill, so I used a grill pan and it worked great. The pork was so tender and full of flavor, but not overpoweringly "sweet" like I worried it might be.  This would be equally fantastic on either homemade Naan or Pita breads.
Pork Shawarma

2 thick cut pork chops
½ cup Greek yogurt
2 cloves garlic, minced
Juice from ½ a lemon
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground cloves

1 cup Greek yogurt
1 clove garlic, minced
Juice from ½ a lemon
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
½ cucumber, seeded and chopped

1 tomato, chopped
½ cucumber, chopped
Naan or Pita bread

In a small bowl, combine the ingredients for the marinade (yogurt, lemon juice, garlic, cinnamon, oregano, salt, nutmeg, and clove). Add pork to the marinade, coat well, cover and refrigerate for 4-24 hours. Grill the pork until cooked through, let rest for 5 minutes and slice into strips

In a small bowl, mix together the yogurt, garlic, lemon, salt, pepper and cucumber for the yogurt sauce. Place the pork, tomato, cucumber and sauce on Naan or flatbread, wrap and serve.
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Monday, October 31, 2011

Cajun Chicken Pasta

cajun chicken pastaI have made Cajun Chicken Pasta before. And I really enjoyed it and thought it would be fantastic with the addition of bell peppers. When I caught an episode of The Pioneer Woman on The Food Network, this was once of the featured recipes. I knew I had to try it, with some adaptations.  I think the next time I make it, I will include the tomato paste since the Roma tomatoes disentegrated and didn't really add any good tomato flavor, just tomato skins to get stuck in your teeth.  Miss F slurped this recipe up, even sampling the bell peppers.  For the record, she prefers orange to green.  Must be because it is Halloween~ I hope everyone has a spooky Halloween!
Cajun Chicken Pasta

2 boneless chicken breasts, cut into cubes
3 teaspoons Tony Chacheres or Cajun spice blend
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 green bell pepper, seeded and sliced
1 orange bell pepper, seeded and sliced
½ onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 whole Roma tomatoes, diced
2 cups chicken broth
½ cups white wine
1 cup cream
Cayenne pepper, to taste
1 pound cooked fettuccine

Sprinkle 1 ½ teaspoons Cajun spice over the chicken pieces. Toss around to coat. Heat the olive oil in a heavy skillet over high heat. Stir fry the chicken until cooked through, remove with a slotted spoon to a clean plate. When heated, add peppers, onions, and garlic. Sprinkle on remaining Cajun spice, and add salt if needed. Cook over medium high heat until peppers and onions are tender. Add tomatoes and cook for an additional 30 seconds. Remove all vegetables from the pan and add to the plate with the chicken.

With the pan over high heat, pour in the wine and chicken broth. Cook on high for 3 to 5 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pan to deglaze. Reduce heat to medium low and pour in cream, whisking constantly. Cook sauce over medium-low heat for a few minutes, until cream starts to thicken the mixture. Add cayenne pepper, salt and pepper to taste. Finally, add chicken and vegetables to the sauce, making sure to include all the juices that have drained onto the plate. Stir and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until mixture is bubbly and hot. Add drained fettuccine and toss to combine.
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Friday, October 28, 2011

Spicy Apricot Pork Tenderloin

spicy apricot pork tenderloinMy most favorite pork tenderloin recipe is my mom's Soy Lime Pork Tenderloin. This recipe may be my second most favorite. The inspiration for this recipe comes from the fantastic Oishii Food. Miss F devoured it, spicy and meat are her favorite tastes. The pork is full of flavor, with a touch of spicy and sweet.  Pork tenderloin is such a great weeknight meal because it cooks up so quickly.  The best part of this recipe is that it doesn't need to be marinaded in advance.
Spicy Apricot Pork Tenderloin

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 heaping tablespoons apricot preserves
Juice of half of a lemon
1 tablespoon Sriracha
1 pork tenderloin

Whisk together the oil, preserves, lemon juice and Sriracha in a large bowl. Salt and pepper to taste. Add the pork, tossing to coat. If grilling, grill 6 minutes per side, basting with the apricot mixture every turn, until internal temperature reaches 155 degrees. If using a broiler, broil about 4 inches away from the heat source, turning and basting every 5 minutes, until internal temperature reaches 155 degrees. Tent the pork with foil and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Slice and serve.
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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Chipotle Short Rib Tacos

chipotle short rib tacosI had originally intended to make this recipe just as it read in Epicurious, but the more I thought on it, the more I wanted them as tacos. I absolutely adore the recipe for Short Ribs in Tomato Sauce, I never thought shredded meat could taste so delicious. I merged the shredding technique with the original recipe. The result was one of the best tacos I have ever eaten. The spice of the Chipotle, the tang of the lime juice and the sweetness of the tomatoes made for the perfect taco. These are definitely going to be in regular rotation at our house. I ate three of these tacos for dinner, with the justification that corn tortillas are small.
Chipotle Short Rib Tacos

1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
4 boneless short ribs

2 tablespoons olive oil
½ onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 ½ cups chicken broth
1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
Juice of one lime
1 ½ tablespoons chopped canned chipotle chilies

1 avocado
2 tablespoons sour cream
Juice of ½ lime

Mix first 5 ingredients in bowl; sprinkle all over short ribs. Place ribs on plate; cover and chill 1 hour or up to 1 day.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Heat the oil in large ovenproof pot over medium-high heat. Sauté the short ribs until browned on all sides. Remove the ribs to a plate. Add the onions and sauté for 4 minutes, until the onions are soft. Add the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds more. Add broth and bring to boil, scraping up browned bits. Add tomatoes, lime juice, and chipotle chilies. Return ribs to pot, in a single layer. Bring to boil; cover and cook in oven until ribs are just tender, about 1 ½ hours. Remove pot from oven. Tilt pot; spoon off fat. Remove the ribs from the pot and shred with two forks. Return the shredded meat to the pan and stir, salt and pepper to taste.

In a mini-chop food processor, puree the avocado, sour cream and lime juice. Add salt to taste. Serve the meat on warm corn tortillas with the avocado sauce and lime wedges.
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Monday, October 24, 2011

Crab and Corn Chowder

corn and crab chowderOur Share of the Harvest is lucky enough to live in my home state of Maryland. And I am positive her soup with Maryland corn trumps whatever soup I made with Texas corn. I miss Maryland corn. When I first read her recipe, I knew I wanted to add crabmeat to it and change the jalapeno to Old Bay. To make it "more Maryland" and "less Texas." And it totally worked. And if you are a true Marylander like me, sprinkle more Old Bay on top before serving.  The chowder was so rich and the crabmeat put it over the top.  I wish I could transport myself to Maryland in August and make it there with all local ingredients.  I cannot imagine how good the soup would be then.
Crab and Corn Chowder

6 bacon slices
1 medium-size green bell pepper, diced
½ medium onion, diced
4 cups chicken broth
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons Old Bay
3 cups fresh corn kernels (6 ears)
½ pound lump crabmeat, picked free of shells
1 cup half and half
¼ teaspoon pepper

Cook bacon in a Dutch oven over medium heat 8 to 10 minutes or until crisp; remove bacon, and drain on paper towels, reserving 2 tablespoons drippings in Dutch oven. Crumble bacon and set aside. Sauté bell pepper and onions in hot drippings 5 to 6 minutes or until tender. Whisk together broth, flour and Old Bay until smooth. Add broth mixture to the pot. Stir in corn. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes. Stir in next 3 ingredients; cook 4 to 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Serve warm with crumbled bacon.
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Friday, October 21, 2011

Recipe Swap: Broccoli Cheddar Soup

cheddar and potato soupNotice the title of this post? B-R-O-C-C-O-L-I. Apparently, I didn't see it on my shopping list. It was on there, along with cheddar cheese, but I just decided to ignore it. We have ample time to complete our recipes for the recipe swap (thanks to A Taste of Home Cooking), but I only had a few days because we were leaving for our vacation to Nevis. And I didn't have time to run back to the store, nor did I have time to cook it another night. So DeLish's Broccoli Cheddar Soup morphed into Cheddar and Potato Soup. Thank goodness I always have bacon in our fridge, it is for emergencies just like this one. The soup was amazing, it tasted so rich and creamy without any cream at all. I greatly reduced the amount of cheese from the original recipe, but other than that (and omitting the BROCCOLI), I followed it. Miss F kept searching out more pieces of bacon out of her soup.
Cheddar and Potato Soup

3 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, chopped
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups chicken broth
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper, to taste
4 Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, plus more for topping
2 slices of cooked bacon

Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add in the onion; cook until the onion is soft and translucent. Whisk in the flour and continue whisking until it is golden colored. Add in the broth, bay leaf, salt and pepper. Add the potato, increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes, until the potato is fork tender. Remove and discard the bay leaf. Take the soup off the heat and puree with an immersion blender. Whisk in the shredded cheese, stirring until melted. Top the soup with crumbled bacon and cheddar cheese.
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Wednesday, October 19, 2011


ratatouilleI had never considered making Ratatouille before. It was just never on my radar, other than the kids' movie. One weekend, both Anne Burrell and Melissa d'Arabian both featured it on their shows. I was curious to try it. This recipe is a mix of both of their very different recipes. Apparently, Kroger didn't support my plans, seeing as how they were out of Eggplant. Normally, I convince them to sell me the organic at the regular price, but they didn't have any organic either. I gave the recipe a go without it. C turned up his nose initially, he thought it was all tomatoes. The tomatoes had melted into an amazing sauce. I guess his vinegar aversion wasn't in effect when we ate this, because he ate a ton. He kept sneaking more bites from the serving bowl.

¼ cup olive oil, plus more as needed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 small eggplant, chopped
1 zucchini, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
3 small tomatoes, chopped
3 cloves garlic, pressed
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 or 4 leaves fresh basil, chopped
Splash balsamic vinegar

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large pan or Dutch oven. Cook the vegetables one at a time (separately) for 5 to 7 minutes, adding a little more oil as needed and seasoning with salt, in the following order: eggplant, zucchini, pepper, onion, and tomatoes. Combine all of the cooked vegetables together in the pan, add the garlic, red pepper, and basil and let simmer gently for 20 minutes. Add a splash of balsamic vinegar, season with salt and pepper, and then turn off the heat. Serve hot, warm, or cold.
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Monday, October 17, 2011

Crockpot Pepperoncini Beef Sandwiches

pepperocini beef sandwichesMaking pulled pork (standard, Dr. Pepper or Asian) is one of my favorite uses of the crockpot. I have been wanting to try a beef sandwich in the crockpot for awhile and when I saw this one on Cooking with Christen, I knew I had to try it. I had never bought Pepperoncini before, you can find them with the pickles, for future reference. I think my only knowledge of them is that they come with Papa Johns pizza (do they still do that?) or served on a salad at The Olive Garden (blech!) The beef was melt in your mouth tender and the flavor was amazing.  Feel free to top the sandwich with cheese, but I didn't think they needed it.  Of course C topped his with cheese.
Crockpot Pepperoncini Beef Sandwiches

1 two pound beef chuck roast
1 jar whole pepperoncini peppers (16 ounces)
½ pound baby bella mushrooms, sliced
1 yellow onion, sliced
1 teaspoon onion powder
¼ cup red wine

Spray a crockpot bowl with nonstick spray. Place half of the onions on the bottom of the crockpot. Place the chuck roast on top of the onions and empty the jar of pepperoncini peppers on top. Place the sliced mushrooms and the rest of the onions on top. In a small bowl, mix the onion powder with the wine. Cook on low for 8 hours. When cooked, shred with two forks. Serve on buns.
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Friday, October 14, 2011

Roast Chicken with Vegetables

roast chicken and vegetablesI learned all I know about roasting a whole chicken from Ina Garten. She is truly the master of it. I have made her Perfect Roast Chicken time and time again.  I love to roast a whole chicken, I especially like the crunchy skin.  It is the quest for even more crunchy skin which prompted me to create this recipe.  The chicken is flipped over halfway through cooking to double the amount of crispy skin.  I first cooked a turkey breast side down years ago for Thanksgiving, the results were mixed, but it was an interesting way to roast poultry.  I love adding zucchini and mushrooms to the traditional potatoes and carrots that accompany a roast chicken.  This is a great way to clean out the fridge of whatever vegetables you have hand. From the picture, you can tell I really need to learn how to truss a chicken.
Roast Chicken and Vegetables

1 whole chicken, 3 to 5 pounds
1 zucchini, chopped
4 yukon gold potatoes, chopped
6 carrots, peeled and chopped
½ pound baby bella mushrooms, halved
½ onion, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons thyme, divided
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 bulb of garlic, halved
1 lemon, quartered

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Allow the chicken to come to room temperature while the oven is preheating. Toss the zucchini, potatoes, carrots, mushrooms and onions with the olive oil, 1 teaspoon thyme, salt and pepper in a roasting pan. Rub the butter all over the skin of the chicken, sprinkle with remaining thyme, salt and pepper. Insert the halved garlic bulb and lemon quarters into the chicken’s cavity. Place the chicken on top of the vegetables, breast side down. Roast the chicken at 425 degrees, flipping over halfway through cooking. This should take 1 to 1 ½ hours, until the juices run clear. Remove the chicken and tent with foil, return the vegetables to the oven and roast for 15 minutes more. Carve the chicken after resting for 15 minutes and serve with the vegetables.
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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

chocolate chip cookie bars 2I love chocolate chip cookies. I especially love this recipe, Big Fat Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies. These bars are based on that recipe and make for one giant, chewy bar of deliciousness.   The only downside is you have to bake all the dough at once, so there is no dough to stash in the refrigerator for snacking.  I think next time I make these, I will use a 9x9 pan and still save myself a bit of dough.  I cut the bars as needed...for an afternoon snack, a treat for Miss F's lunch box or breakfast.  That way, they were really fresh tasting even when they were a couple days past baking.
Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

2 ¼ cups flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup packed brown sugar
½ cup white sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Grease a 9x13 pan with no-stick spray. Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together the melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar until well blended. Beat in the vanilla, egg, and egg yolk until light and creamy. Mix in the sifted ingredients until just blended. Stir in the chocolate chips by hand using a wooden spoon. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and spread out with your hands. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes in the preheated oven. Cool and slice into squares.
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Monday, October 10, 2011

Drunken Noodles

drunken noodlesI am so lucky to live in such an amazing and diverse city, Houston. I am able to go to my regular grocer and find black soy sauce, Golden Mountain sauce and a wide range of flat rice noodles to choose from. And we have even better Asian grocers where I always overwhelmed with choices. C didn't enjoy this very much, I think he wasn't a fan of the fish sauce.  Miss F and I were obsessed.  She loved it so much, I sent leftovers with her to school the next day.  And all those were gone as well.  And all the rest was saved for me...yum!  Thanks to Elly Says Opa for the awesome recipe, this is a huge winner in my eyes.  Now does anyone have any recipes with black soy sauce?  Cause I have a massive bottle.
Drunken Noodles

8-10 ounces flat rice noodles
2 tablespoons canola oil
¼ onion, chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 bell pepper, cut into strips
½ pound chicken breast, cut into small pieces
1 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons black soy sauce
2 tablespoons Golden Mountain sauce or light soy sauce
1 to 2 tablespoons Sriracha
½ tablespoon sugar
1 large plum tomato, cut into 8 wedges
¼ cup Thai basil leaves

Cook noodles in large pot of boiling water until tender but still firm to bite, stirring frequently. Drain. Meanwhile, heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add onions and sauté for a minute, add garlic and sauté 30 seconds more. Add bell pepper and chicken and sauté until chicken is about halfway cooked, about 2 minutes. Whisk the fish sauce, black soy sauce, Golden Mountain seasoning, and chili paste together in a small bowl. Add to the chicken mixture and cook until chicken is cooked through, about 4 minutes. Add noodles, tomatoes, and Thai basil; toss to coat.
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Sunday, October 9, 2011

Celebrity Follower: Susie Jimenez

One of C's co-workers has a house in Aspen and this weekend star of the Food Network's "The Next Food Network Star" cooked for his family. While there C's co-worker did a little promotion for my blog with Susie Jimenez. I am so honored to count such a talented chef as a reader.  The only sad part is that C and I weren't in Aspen to taste her amazing cooking.
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Friday, October 7, 2011

Recipe Swap: Starbucks Pumpkin Bread

starbucks pumpkin breadConfession: I have never had a drink from Starbucks.  I don't drink coffee.  I have had snacks from Starbucks because they were free at our hotel in San Diego this past June.  The lemon poppyseed bread was delicious.  So I did have an idea of what to expect of this bread.  And I was not disappointed.  I took this bread to my girls' weekend in Galveston to snack on for breakfast (along with Banana Applesauce Oat Muffins.) The Starbucks Pumpkin Bread was part of the apple and pumpkin recipe swap organized by A Taste of Home Cooking.  This recipe was submitted by Mrs. Regueiro's Plate.  I submitted my Caramel Apple Tart in the swap.  I hope whoever got it likes it!
Starbucks Pumpkin Bread

1 ½ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground clove
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
½ teaspoon salt
4 eggs
1 cup sugar
¼ cup dark brown sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla
¾ cup canned pumpkin
¾ cup vegetable oil
¼ cup pumpkin seeds, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, spices, and salt and whisk to combine. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat eggs, sugars, and vanilla on high speed for about 30 seconds. Add dry ingredients and mix. Add pumpkin and oil, mix to combine. Pour batter into a 9x5 greased loaf pan.

Bake for 60 to 70 minutes or until the top of the bread begins to brown.

When the bread is cool, slice into approximately 1 inch slices.
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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Roasted Garlic Clove Chicken

roasted garlic clove chickenIt is rare when I watch a cooking show that I want to make all the recipes featured, but the recent airing Chic Chicken Dinner of $10 Dinners with Melissa d'Arabian was different. Everything looked amazing.  After the chicken was done, I noticed there was a lot of fat in the pan from the chicken.  So I spooned some of and proceeded with her sauce recipe.  What a bad idea that was, there was still too much fat and it was too fargone to save it.  So I ditched the sauce and decided to serve the chicken plain.  Which wasn't a bad idea at all.  The chicken was so moist and full of flavor, no chicken fat sauce was needed.  C ate two pieces!  He did avoid the roasted garlic, his loss...I smushed mine all over the chicken.
Roasted Garlic Clove Chicken

4 chicken thighs
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
10 cloves of garlic, skin removed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon herbes de Provence

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Rinse and pat dry the chicken. Salt and pepper liberally and allow to temper on a cutting board while you prepare the garlic. In a large ovenproof saute pan over medium heat, cook the whole garlic cloves in olive oil and butter, stirring occasionally, until lightly golden, about 10 minutes. Remove the garlic from the pan and set aside. Increase the heat to medium high and brown the chicken skin-side down until the skin is golden and crispy, about 5 minutes. Turn the chicken over, sprinkle on herbes de Provence. Add the garlic back to the pan and place hot pan in oven. Bake the chicken until cooked through, about 25 minutes. Once the chicken is done, remove chicken thighs and garlic to a platter for serving.
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Monday, October 3, 2011

Brioche Buns

brioche bunsThe most important part of a sandwich for me is the bread. I know this goes against most sandwich lovers, but it is how I feel. I have tried hamburger rolls, Kaiser rolls, honey wheat rolls and I have finally found the winner.  These rolls were amazing.  The perfect roll for any sandwich.  They had just the right hint of sweetness.  These remind me of the buns at Dutchs across the street from TCU.  Friends of ours who went to TCU took us there after a visit to the Fort Worth Zoo.  Both C and I left commenting on how amazing the buns were.  And now I can make them at home thanks to The Jey of Cooking.  No need to drive up north.  I made the recipe for the bread machine because I am lazy.
Brioche Buns

2/3 cup warm milk (~110 degrees F)
1/3 cup warm water
4 tablespoons honey
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, sliced and softened
2 eggs, at room temperature
3 ¼ cups bread flour
2 ¼ teaspoons (1 Packet) Instant Yeast
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 egg yolk
Sesame seeds

Whisk together the milk, water, honey, butter and eggs. Pour into your bread machine. Spoon the flour over top and sprinkle it with the yeast and salt.  Run your machine on the dough cycle.

Remove the dough from the machine and place on a floured surface. Flour your hands, divide the dough into 8 equal pieces and form into balls. Place 2 to 3 inches apart on a Silpat lined baking sheet. Flatten each ball just a bit with the palm of your hand. Allow to rise again another hour.

Preheat oven to 400. Once risen, brush the tops with the egg yolk and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake for 10-15 minutes, turning the pan once halfway through, until buns are golden. Transfer to a rack and cool completely.
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Friday, September 30, 2011

Pork Chops and Peppers

pork chops and peppersOne of my most favorite bloggers, Tide and Thyme, has been back to blogging lately. Joy!  I didn't change her recipe at all.  And it was absolute perfection.  C's vinegar aversion had completely vanished when I plated this meal.  He ate the entire thing and thought the peppers were amazing.  Well, maybe he didn't use the word amazing, but he definitely loved them.  There wasn't a bite left on his plate.  Even curiouser, he didn't complain about the garlic smell.  Can you believe he asked me to stop cooking with garlic because he hated the smell so much?  Obviously, that isn't going to happen.  I used red and yellow bell peppers since they are sweeter than green.
Pork Chops with Vinegar Peppers

6 pork chops (bone-in or boneless, 1 inch thick)
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 bell peppers, sliced 1/2 inch thick
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
olive oil
fresh ground pepper

Season pork chops on both sides with salt and pepper. Add enough olive oil to coat the bottom of a large, heavy bottomed skillet. Heat over high heat until shimmering. Add half of the pork chops. Cook for 3 minutes, or until nice and golden on both sides. Remove to a paper towel lined plate and cover with foil to keep warm. Add remaining chops, and repeat process, remove to the plate when cooked.

To the now empty pan, add the sliced pepper. Reduce heat to medium-high. Cook, stirring occasionally, until peppers are beginning to soften. Add garlic, and sauté for 30 seconds, until fragrant. Add the balsamic vinegar, and scape the bottom of the pan vigorously with a wooden spoon to loosen up fond. Let vinegar reduce until it coats the peppers and is almost syrupy in consistency.

Plate pork chops, and top with the vinegar peppers.
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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Crispy Potato Roast

crispy potato roastThis post is going to start like so many others...I saw these potatoes on Pinterest. And they looked amazing.  I broke out my mandoline and heavily adapted the recipe.  It was the presentation I was after.  I have a things for fancy looking potatoes (Exhibit A, Exhibit B, Exhibit C.)  These potatoes didn't disappoint, in either the fanciness or the deliciousness.  The original recipe calls for the potatoes to be peeled, which would make them easier to cut and eat.  That being said, the crispy potato skin was my most favorite part of the dish.  My madoline decided that my potato slices were going to be oblong, so I just had one layer of potatoes running along the dish.
Crispy Potato Roast

2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 medium to large russet potatoes
Coarse salt
1 teaspoon dried rosemary

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a small bowl, combine butter and oil. Brush bottom of an oval 9-inch baking dish with some butter mixture. With a sharp knife or mandoline, slice potatoes into 1/8" slices crosswise. Arrange potato slices vertically in dish. Sprinkle with salt; brush with remaining butter mixture. Bake for one hour. Add rosemary and bake until potatoes are cooked through with a crisp top, about 30 minutes more.
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Monday, September 26, 2011

Best Bread Machine Bread

best bread machine bread 1When I read this recipe on AllRecipes, I was curious. It went against everything my bread machine's manual said to do. And I wanted to try it anyway, what did I have to lose except three cups of bread flour and a little time. Not even that much time, more like ten minutes of active time and three hours of dealing with the house smelling wonderful. Of course C was at the Aggie game, which is a 2 hour drive each way, so the smell wouldn't torture him.  After I tasted this bread, I am unsure that I will ever go back to my bread machine's instructions.  It was perfectly baked. And Miss F has homemade sandwich bread for her lunch all week.
Best Bread Machine Bread

1 cup warm water
2 tablespoons white sugar
2 ¼ teaspoons yeast
¼ cup vegetable oil
3 cups bread flour
2 teaspoons salt

Place the water, sugar and yeast in the pan of the bread machine. Let the yeast dissolve and foam for 10 minutes. Add the oil, flour and salt to the yeast. Select the white bread setting and press start.
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Friday, September 23, 2011

Recipe Swap: Ham and Swiss Double Pinwheels

ham and swiss double pinwheelsA Taste of Home Cooking hosted a gameday and tailgating recipe swap this week.  This recipe comes from Life and Kitchen, but I didn't make it for gameday.  Instead, I figured this would be fantastic toddler food.  And I was right.  I omitted the green onion since I was making it for a two year old.  Finley was excited to help make her "hammy cheesy rollups" and was even more excited to eat them.  She ate three for lunch.  I will send some of the leftovers in her lunchbox today.  So whether you are making these for the watching football set or watching Sesame Street set, I recommend them highly.  They remind me of my friend Shelley's Sausage Swirls.  I submitted Lance's Hot Crab Dip to the recipe swap, I hope whoever made it enjoyed it as much as I do.
Ham and Swiss Double Pinwheels

¼ pound cooked ham, cut into pieces
1 ounce cream cheese, softened
1 can (8 ounces) refrigerated crescent dinner rolls
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup shredded Swiss cheese

Heat oven to 350°F. Spray cookie sheet with cooking spray. In food processor bowl with metal blade, process ham and cream cheese until smooth and well blended. Unroll dough into 1 large rectangle; press into 13×8-inch rectangle, firmly pressing perforations to seal. Spread ham mixture over rectangle. Sprinkle with Parmesan and Swiss cheeses. Starting with both short sides of rectangle, roll up both toward center. With serrated knife, cut into 16 slices; place cut side down on cookie sheet. Bake 13 to 17 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Immediately remove from cookie sheet. Serve warm.
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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Double Chocolate Banana Bread

double chocolate banana breadThis recipe is an adaptation of my mom's banana bread recipe.  We had a long morning at the pool and Miss F was in no mood for napping.  So we baked banana bread...Miss F style.  She is happy to help me bake, especially if she gets to snack on chocolate chips while doing so.  And with this recipe, not only did she get chocolate chips, she also got a bowl of applesauce to eat as well.  A toddler's dream!  This recipe is especially nice because you don't have to drag out the mixer.  I just measure the wet ingredients in a 4 cup measure and give it a whir with my immersion blender.  That is the only thing that Miss F didn't do in making this bread, it really is that easy.
Chocolate Banana Bread

1 ½ cups flour
¼ cup cocoa powder
¾ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup sugar
1 ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
2 eggs
¼ cup natural applesauce
¼ cup canola oil
2 over ripe bananas
¾ cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, sift the first six ingredients together. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs, applesauce, oil and bananas on medium speed until well combined. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until well combined. Stir in the chocolate chips. Grease a 9”x5” loaf pan and fill with the batter. Bake for 45 minutes, let cool before slicing.
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