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, March 30, 2012

Parmesan Garlic Monkey Muffins

Parmesan Garlic Monkey MuffinsMiss F had playgroup at her favorite friend's house. Her favorite friend's mom always makes the best snacks for playgrou and this week was no exception. It was around breakfast time and she had made quite the spread. Everyone's favorite was the monkey bread muffins, so much so that she had to make a second batch halfway through playgroup. I decided to swap out the cinnamon and sugar for garlic and Parmesan cheese. The result was a decadent garlic bread perfect for pairing with pasta.  I did cheat and tell C it was his favorite garlic salt and not fresh garlic.  He never reads the blog, so it will be our little secret.
Parmesan Garlic Monkey Muffins

¼ cup + 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1 large clove garlic, minced
½ teaspoon parsley
¼ cup butter, melted
1 can refrigerated biscuits

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease six muffin tins with cooking spray. Stir together ¼ cup of the Parmesan cheese, garlic, parsley and butter. Cut each biscuit with kitchen shears into 6 equal pieces, roll each piece into a ball and drop into the butter mixture. Place 8 biscuit pieces in each muffin cup, pouring remaining butter over top of each muffin. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of Parmesan over top of each muffin. Bake for 11 to 14 minutes, until golden brown. Allow to set up for 5 minutes or so before removing from the muffin pan.
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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Citrus Fajitas

citrus fajitasI love fajitas. Whenever we go out for TexMex, nine times out of ten, I order fajitas. And the one out of the ten, I usually regret not ordering fajitas.  And I like them very simply dressed, with just guacamole and a tortilla. I was looking for something new to brighten the flavor of my usual fajitas. The citrus juice infuses flavor, but does not overpower the meat. Miss F really enjoyed these, but I have yet to find TexMex that she doesn't enjoy. She also enjoyed her guacamole, she eats hers with a spoon, chips aren't really necessary.  I made these with my grill pan, placing a pot lid on top of the meat to retain the heat.  Worked like a charm!
Citrus Fajitas

Juice of half a lemon
Juice of one lime
Juice of one orange
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons tequila
1 tablespoon minced jalapeno
¼ teaspoon cumin
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 bell pepper, sliced
1 onion, sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil

Combine all ingredients except the chicken in a large Ziploc bag. Add the chicken to the bag, seal and shake to combine. Allow the chicken to marinate for 2 to 4 hours or 30 minutes at room temperature. Toss the bell pepper and onions with the olive oil, set aside. Grill the chicken breasts over medium high heat until cooked through. Add the peppers and onions for the last 5 minutes of cooking. Serve with warm tortillas, cheese and guacamole.
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Monday, March 26, 2012

Secret Recipe Club: Crepes

crepesFor my second month in the Secret Recipe Club, I received Ruchi's Simply Food in the swap.  Ruchis's blog has numerous recipes to choose from, but her recipe for crepes caught my eye.  I used to make crepes quite often right after I graduate from college.  They were relatively easy to prepare and could easily be made either sweet or savory depending on the fillings and/or toppings.  I told Miss F I was making thin pancakes and she was sold.  I filled hers with mini chocolate chips, which melted beautifully inside the warm crepes.  She was instantly sold on the thin pancakes, so I told her they were actually crepes.  She said she loved crepes and so do I.

¾ cup all purpose flour
2 tablespoons fine sugar
a pinch of salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
vegetable shortening

Whisk together the flour, sugar and salt. Whisk in the eggs to combine. Whisk in ¾ cup of the milk and the vanilla, being careful not to over mix. Let the batter rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to an hour. Add the remaining ¼ cup of milk. Heat a non stick skillet brushed with vegetable shortening. Pour two tablespoons of batter into the pan and swirl the pan around until you have a thin pancake. Let cook for one minute, flip and cook for one minute more. Serve with your favorite fruits or chocolate.
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Friday, March 23, 2012

Recipe Swap: Chocolate Doughnuts

chocolate sprinkle doughnuts The theme of this recipe swap was a secret recipe swap. Each blogger was given a fellow blogger to swap with and you were able to choose any recipe you wanted from their blog to make. I selected baked chocolate doughnuts from The Cookaholic Wife. It had been awhile since I had used my doughnut pan and Miss F was off school for spring break. So we had lots of mornings to make breakfast together. She is in charge of pouring, stirring and sprinkling while I handle the rest. These doughnuts are nearly guilt free, using whole wheat flour, applesauce and just one tablespoon of oil. I did need to adapt the chocolate glaze recipe because the chocolate seized up when I added corn syrup to it as called for in her recipe.
Chocolate Doughnuts

1 cup whole-wheat flour
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup cocoa powder
1 tablespoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup milk
1 egg
3 tablespoons applesauce (unsweetened)
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla

½ cup chocolate chips
2 teaspoons vegetable shortening
sprinkles, optional

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Grease a non-stick doughnut pan with cooking spray.

In a medium sized bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Add the milk, egg, applesauce, oil and vanilla. Stir until combined well. Fill each doughnut a little over halfway with batter and bake for 7 minutes. Let doughnuts rest in the pan for 2-3 minutes and gently remove them from the pan to a cooling rack.

For the chocolate glaze, place the chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl and melt at 30 second intervals, stirring after each until the chocolate has melted. Stir in the shortening until smooth. Swirl each doughnut into the chocolate glaze and then top with sprinkles if desired.
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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Sea Salt Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

sea salt peanut butter oatmeal chocolate chip cookiesCan you ever have enough cookie recipes? I made these cookies to have on hand for Miss F while she was home for spring break. She cannot take peanut butter to school, so we got to indulge all week long. I originally made these cookies by sprinkling the sea salt on top of the batter. I brought the cookies with us to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo as a snack. My friend Courtney shared her awesome salted cookies tip: sprinkle the salt over the Silpat so that it bakes into the cookies and doesn't flake off like when it is sprinkled on top. Genius! And it works perfectly. I cannot wait to try it on my favorite chocolate chip cookies.The recipe was inspired by Recipe Girl.
Sea Salt Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

¾ cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup butter, at room temperature
½ cup creamy peanut butter
½ cup packed light brown sugar
¼ cup + 2 tablespoons granulated white sugar
1 large egg
¾ cup quick cooking
¾ cup chocolate chips
sea salt, for sprinkling on top

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with a Silpat or parchment paper. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, use an electric mixer at medium speed to cream the butter, peanut butter and sugars. Beat in the egg until it is incorporated. Add the dry ingredients and beat until combined. Stir in the oats and the chocolate chips.

Lightly sprinkle sea salt over top of the baking sheet. Drop heaping tablespoons of the batter onto the cookie sheets. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until set in the center.
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Monday, March 19, 2012

Cheddar Popovers

cheddar popoversI make popovers every year for Thanksgiving. I am not even sure where the original recipe came from, but it has been transferred from computer to computer over the past 14 years, ever since the first Thanksgiving dinner I ever cooked. Miss F was skeptical when she first tried them.  Then she ended up eating three.  They are so easy to whip up and the cheese adds great flavor and crunch.  I do not have a popover pan, so I use a regular muffin tin and that works great.  I have also used custard cups in the past to make large popovers, they also work great. 
Cheddar Popovers
makes 8

1 cup flour
½ teaspoon kosher salt
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup lowfat milk, at room temperature
1 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
½ cup cheddar cheese

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place the popover pan in the oven while it preheats. Whisk together the flour, salt, eggs, milk, and melted butter until smooth. Grease the warmed popover pan with cooking spray. Fill the pans halfway with the batter and evenly sprinkle each with cheddar cheese. Bake the popovers for 30 minutes.
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Friday, March 16, 2012

Caramelized Chipotle Chicken

caramelized chipotle chickenI love chipotles.  Some of my most favorite recipes include them, most memorably chipotle short rib tacos.  This recipe comes from the amazing Elly Says Opa.  This chicken does not disappoint and I cannot wait to make it this summer on the grill.  Who can pass up the doubly smokey flavor of chipotles on the grill?  I freeze the chipotles in adobo in tablespoon portions so I can add them to recipes easily and not have to waste the whole can.  Miss F went mad for the chicken, not surprising since it had a nice spicy kick to it.  I really enjoyed the Dijon, I am going to try adding it to my usual barbecue sauce.
Caramelized Chipotle Chicken

1 tablespoon olive oil
4 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
½ onion, chopped
½ cup ketchup
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons chopped chipotles in adobo
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs

Heat oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Cook garlic, stirring occasionally, until golden, and then remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add the onions to the oil, and cook, stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes. Return the garlic to the pan and add ketchup, mustard, sugar, chipotles, Worcestershire, vinegar, salt and pepper. Simmer for 25 minutes.

Preheat oven to 450 and place a rack in the center. Place the chicken in a shallow baking dish, brush the thighs with half of the prepared sauce. Roast for 20 minutes. Brush remaining sauce on chicken and roast for 20 minutes more, until cooked through.
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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Cooking Class at the Four Seasons Sayan Kitchen

After touring the market in Ubud, Chef Budiarto and I headed back for the hotel. I went back to my room to swim and relax, C had already headed out to the spa for his massage, so I had the whole villa to myself. Several white water rafters went by while I enjoyed the cool water of our plunge pool. After about an hour or so, I headed up to the Ayung Terrace to meet back up with the chef.
For our market tour, he had been dressed in a polo and shorts. I was surprised to see him dressed in chef whites when we met up in the restaurant and I was even more surprised that we would be cooking in the one and only kitchen in the resort. We toured the kitchen and I was most taken by the small size of the pastry room, especially since all the breads were made from scratch on site. The kitchen was moderately busy and quite warm. I was excited to get started.
The first thing we made was a Balinese style ‘salsa.’ It had shallots, garlic, chilies, Galangal, ginger, turmeric, coriander and lemon grass. It was mixed with a mortar and pestle into a paste, then it was sautéed in oil. This salsa was used in nearly every dish we went on to make after. Next, we prepared a whole chicken. I coated the chicken in tamarind paste and the Balinese salsa, then wrapped the entire chicken in a banana leaf.
We prepared satay with a mixture of ground beef, coconut, lime and the Balinese salsa. The beef was formed around skewers made of lemongrass and sugarcane. Chef Budiarto explained that you could use any meat or seafood you wanted to prepare the satay. After the satay were prepared, we fried them until cooked through. They were served with a hot chili salsa and peanut sauce. I had made the sauces using my gloved hands, spoons didn’t seem to be a tool that was used very often.
We then prepared tuna with the salsa, lime, chilies and shrimp paste. The tuna was just quickly seared on the grill and then topped with the salsa mixture. Once again the sauce was prepared by hand. I squeezed the ingredients to extract the natural juices and then topped the fish fresh from the grill. The warm fish made the fragrant sauce come alive. We also prepared a long bean salad to accompany the chicken, satay and tuna.
I had spoken with Chef Budiarto earlier about my Mee Goreng obsession and how it differed from country to country in Asia. So the final dish we prepared was Balinese Mee Goreng. The wok in the kitchen was massive and chef did an amazing job of tossing the ingredients to prepare the best tasting Mee Goreng ever. Cabbage, leeks, garlic, onions, carrots and chilies were all stir fried with the noodles. The biggest surprise ingredient: ketchup.
By this time I was covered in sweat and the coconut sorbet offered at the end of the class was a welcome treat. I had sampled everything we had made, but I was headed back to our room to get C so we could enjoy our lunch together. It was an amazing class, I learned so much and I am so grateful to Chef Budiarto for being such a wonderful teacher.
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Friday, March 9, 2012

Ubud Market

C and I left Miss F at home with my parents and jetted off to Asia for an amazing two week vacation. We Skyped daily with Miss F and missed her terribly, but the trip was worth it. We visited Singapore as well as Ubud and Nusa Dua in Bali. While in Ubud, we stayed at the wonderful Four Seasons Sayan. We always book our stays at the Four Seasons with Metaphor Travel, you get the same price as on the Four Seasons website with the added bonus of free daily breakfast, a $100 spa credit, free internet and a room upgrade.  We were upgraded to an amazing villa right on the Sayan river.  It was truly breathtaking.  Our last morning there, C took advantage of the spa credit and got a massage, while I took a cooking class.
The class started with a tour of the market in Ubud.  Ubud is a small town in the interior of Bali.  If you have see the movie Eat, Pray, Love (I haven't,) it was filmed there.  Ubud is about a 10 minute drive from the hotel.  Driving in Bali is crazy!  The streets are narrow and mopeds zip around at a insane pace.  The market was quite busy when we arrived just before 8 in the morning.  People were ordering breakfast at make-shift stalls.  Indonesian pancakes with sugar cane syrup, Nasi Goreng (fried rice) and sesame balls were on display.  It was so interesting to watch the women prepare food in such cramped quarters.
The market was so full of color. Fresh fruits and vegetables were laid out in massive baskets. The watermelons were tiny, about the size of a cantaloupe, and they were the sweetest I had ever tasted. They came in both the traditional red and a more unique yellow variety. Some vegetables were so much larger than what I am used to seeing in America. The carrots especially. The chef showed me the organic carrots which were what I was used to compared to the massive non-organic carrots. I am not sure what they did to get the carrots to grow so large. I was surprised that organic food was available at the market.
There were also baskets of rice and corn. Coconut and palm oil were for sale at nearly every stall. They were contained in bottles that had been re-used. I had seen the large bottles out in front of shops all around Bali. There were also an abundance of banana leaves that are used in many cooking preparations. They were also cut into circles and used to decorate many of the dishes we tried. I am hoping our Asian market will carry them because I have two recipes I am wanting to try in the coming weeks.
Besides produce, you could also purchase spices, cookware, toiletries, you name it. The market was nearly as well stocked as your local Super Target. The only thing food wise that they didn't carry was meat and fish. Fish is sold at the fish market closer to the sea. Bali does not produce beef, most are imported from Japan and Australia. The chef said that American beef was the costliest to import, but it was what he preferred to cook with. Offerings made from flowers and palm leaves were also a popular item for sale. The majority of people in Ubud are Hindu, they leave daily offerings of flowers, rice or money in small baskets made from palm leaves. The offering is a way to give back to the spirits who have provided for you well. I was so lucky to experience the Ubud market. Next week I will post about the cooking class portion of the day. Over the coming weeks I will share the recipes I learned in class, so get ready for some Indonesian delights.
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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Creamy Tomato Basil Pasta

creamy tomato basil pastaOne of my most favorite soups in the world is Tomato Basil. I thought it would be fantastic to adapt the recipe to make a pasta sauce with it, similar to Penne a la Vodka without the vodka.  This dish is warm and comforting, much like the soup, but heartier.  What can I say?  I am a sucker for anything with tomatoes and cream.  Next time I make this sauce I am going to try a different shaped pasta because it made me think too much of Penne a la Vodka and not enough as its own new dish.  I wanted to add fresh basil to the top, but my basil plant had died and I didn't even realize it until I went to pull off a couple of leaves.  I guess I should have paid it more attention and maybe it would still be thriving.
Creamy Tomato Basil Pasta

1 tablespoon olive oil
½ onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon basil
2 cans (14.5 ounce) of tomatoes
½ cup water
1 cup cream
1 pound of cooked pasta

In a large sauce pan, sauté the onion in the oil over medium heat until soft, 3 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté for 30 seconds more. Add the tomato paste and basil, stir until incorporated. Add the tomatoes and water, bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a low simmer for 30 minutes. Using an immersion blender, puree the tomatoes until there are only a few chunks remaining. Stir in the cream and warm through, salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the cooked pasta and serve.
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Monday, March 5, 2012

Pink Heart Sugar Cookies

pink heart sugar cookiesAh sugar cookies...they are so beautiful with their royal icing and pretty shapes. Too bad most sugar cookies taste like cardboard. I am horrible with frosting. Horrible. But I love Martha Stewart's sugar cookie recipe. My friend Sarah shared it with me back when her son Ryan turned one, she had the best tasting cookie favors. He is nearly 4 years old now! Time sure does fly. I decided to adapt the recipe a bit to make them pretty enough to eat without me trying to frost them. The gel food coloring worked like a dream and made perfect pink hearts without any frosting fuss.
Pink Heart Sugar Cookies

2 cups all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ cup unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons milk
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Red gel food coloring

Whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder in a medium bowl; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar; mix until light and fluffy. With mixer running, add egg, brandy, and vanilla; mix until well combined. With the mixer on low, slowly add reserved flour mixture. Mix until just combined. Add gel food coloring a drop at a time until pink coloring is achieved. Transfer dough to a work surface. Shape into 2 discs, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with nonstick baking mats or parchment paper; set aside. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out dough to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes, and transfer to prepared baking sheets, leaving an inch in between. Leftover dough can be rolled and cut once more. Bake until lightly golden, about 10 minutes; do not allow to brown. Transfer to wire racks to cool.
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Friday, March 2, 2012

Orange Chicken Stir Fry

orange chicken stir fryThis stir fry isn't anything like the tradition orange chicken Chinese take-out.  There isn't an overwhelming orange flavor, just a subtle sweet note of citrus.  C was just happy there was no fish sauce or oyster sauce involved, so it was a winner in his book.  Miss F was even a fan, especially of the chicken.  I may have snuck a little extra Sriracha on hers in order to entice her to eat the vegetables.  By the time this post publishes, we will be heading home from our trip to Bali and Singapore.  I can only imagine what kind of foods we will get to taste.  I hope I can convince C to take a cooking class!
Orange Chicken Stir Fry

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces

Marinade for chicken:
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon orange juice
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon Sriracha

1 tablespoon cornstarch
6 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon soy sauce
3 tablespoons orange juice

½ cup broccoli florets
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
½ cup mushrooms, sliced
¼ onion, chopped
2 tablespoons cooking oil
2 slices ginger, shredded
1 tablespoon chopped garlic

Transfer chicken 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 orange juice 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 chicken 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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