Friday, February 11, 2011

Thai Honey Peanut Chicken

I didn't think this had a strong peanut butter or honey flavor, but it was good. We served it over the fat Udon noodles my husband loves. Quick and easy sauce for your stir-fry. We added some vegetables too.

1 pound Chicken, In Chunks

¼ cups Soy Sauce
2 Tablespoons Honey
1 Tablespoon Lime Juice
1 teaspoon Minced Garlic (approximately 1 Large Clove)
1 Tablespoon Natural Peanut Butter (heaping Tablespoon Even Better)
½ teaspoons Curry Powder
1 teaspoon Sriracha (optional)

Mix ingredients and marinate chicken for 2-3 hours.

Cook chicken in the sauce over medium-high heat for 7-8 minutes or until chicken is done. Reduce heat to medium-low and add precooked veggies if desired. Serve topped with sesame seeds.

To thicken sauce if needed: reduce heat to medium-low and add a cornstarch slurry (1 teaspoon cornstarch in 1 tablespoon water).

Substitutions: replace chicken with tofu; replace peanut butter with tahini or another nut butter; if using regular peanut butter (i.e. Skippy) instead of natural peanut butter, reduce honey by 1 tablespoon.


Sunday, February 6, 2011

German Chocolate Brownies

These are almost as easy as making them straight from the box. They are just a little more exciting and not the cakey kind that you think they would be since you use a cake mix. Super yum.

German Chocolate Brownies

1 German chocolate cake mix

2/3 cup butter (room temperature)
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 tub Coconut-pecan frosting (yes, the kind you find above the cake mixes at the store)
1/4 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9X13 pan. In a large bowl using a pastry blender, cut in butter with the cake mix until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Press 1/2 the mixture (about 2 1/2 cups) into the prepared pan. Bake for 10 minutes.

Sprinkle chocolate chips over hot crust. Drop frosting by tablespoonfuls over chocolate chips. Mix 1/4 cup of milk into the remaining cake mix/butter mixture. Stir to combine. Drop this batter by teaspoonfuls over the frosting. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Cool completely. Cut into squares and refrigerate until served. (These brownies really do taste best cool.)

Source:  Mel's Kitchen Cafe

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Coconut Tres Leche Cake

I made this cake for my mom's birthday. I thought it was very good. Creamy and sweet and fairly easy to make. I used a box cake mix. Even my husband said it was very good and he doesn't always like whipped cream desserts--he doesn't like trifle! Make sure you toast the coconut, I don't think it would be as good if it wasn't toasted.


Coconut Tres Leche Cake


Make Ahead Yellow Cake Mix or other preferred cake mix or homemade yellow cake recipe
Milk Syrup:
1 can (15 ounces) cream of coconut
1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 medium-size ripe bananas
Sweetened cream (see instructions below)

1 cup sweetened flaked coconut, toasted (spread on a rimmed baking sheet and bake it at 350 degrees until golden brown, 7 minutes, or toast it in a skillet over medium-low heat on the stovetop)

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Lightly spray a 9X13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Set the baking dish aside. Place the make-ahead cake mix, 1 1/4 cups warm water and 2 large room-temperature eggs in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer until the mixture is smooth, about 2 minutes (if using another cake mix or recipe, bake according to box or recipe instructions). Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Bake the cake until it is lightly golden and is slightly pulling away from the edges, 30-34 minutes. Remove the cake from the oven and place it on a wire rack to cool completely, 1 hour.

Meanwhile, make the milk syrup: in a blender, combine the cream of coconut, evaporated milk, cream, and vanilla and process until smooth.

Pierce the cooled cake all over the top with the tines of a fork or a thin wooden skewer. We are talking all over! The more pokes, the more the syrup will soak into the cake. Using a large spoon or ladle, spoon some of the milk syrup over the cake. Let the syrup soak into the cake, then continue spooning the syrup on top until all of it has been used up. When you have finished, not all of the syrup will be completely absorbed and might be pooling on the top but that’s ok because it will absorb as it refrigerates. Cover the cake loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate until all of the syrup is absorbed, 2 hours. Cut the bananas, if using crosswise into ¼-inch slices. Slice the cake and serve it with sliced bananas, sweetened cream and toasted coconut, if desired.

Sweetened Cream:
Pour 1 cup heavy whipping cream into a large (preferably chilled) glass bowl and beat it on high speed until thickened 1 ½ minutes. Stop the machine and add ¼ cup confectioners’ sugar and ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract. Beat on high speed until stiff peaks form, 1 to 2 minutes longer. Makes 2 cups.

Source: Mel's Kitchen Cafe

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Mushroom Crostini and Roasted Red Pepper Crostini

These are both Williams Sonoma recipes. If you love mushrooms, you'll love the mushroom one. I thought it was great. I also spread some brie on the toast and then topped it with the mushrooms....yum! Make sure you serve it warm. The mushrooms aren't as good when they are cold. I used some of the leftovers and spread it on my hamburger and it was pretty yummy too. The red pepper one is also pretty good. If I didn't have the other one too compare it too, I would have liked it more. It would be good in recipes that call for regular pesto as well. Both dishes can easily be made vegan. The pesto just needs a vegan cheese to make it vegan.

Mushroom Crostini

For the crostini:

24 thin slices baguette or other crusty bread
Olive oil
1-2 cloves garlic, halved

For the mushroom spread:

3-4 tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 lb. mushrooms, any combination, roughly chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp. fresh parsley, minced
2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
½ tsp. fresh rosemary, minced
1 tsp. coarse salt
Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 350˚ F. To make the crostini, place baguette slices in a single layer on a baking sheet. Lightly brush each slice of bread with olive oil. Bake 15-20 minutes, until golden and crisp. Once the bread slices have cooled enough to handle, rub each crostini with the cut side of a garlic clove. Set aside.
To make the mushroom spread, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chopped mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned and almost all of the liquid has evaporated, about 10 minutes. Mix in the garlic, parsley, thyme, rosemary and salt, cooking 1-2 more minutes, until fragrant.

Transfer the mixture to a food processor with the feed tube open to vent steam. Process until finely ground. With the processor running, add the remaining 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil, until the mixture is smooth and spreadable. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.

Spread each piece of bread with a thin layer of the mushroom mixture, transfer to a platter and serve.

Roasted Red Pepper Crostini

baguette, cut into ¼”-thick slices

extra-virgin olive oil for brushing, plus 1 tsp.
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 red bell pepper, roasted, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 tbsp. pine nuts
1 ½ tbsp. Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp. finely chopped parsley
1 tbsp. finely chopped basil
½ tsp. fresh lemon juice
pinch of cayenne pepper
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
goat cheese (I used spreadable Brie)

Preheat the oven to 350°. Arrange the baguette slices on a baking sheet. Brush lightly with olive oil. Bake until lightly browned and crispy. Cut one clove of garlic in half and rub the cut side on the baguette slices while still warm. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Spread each baguette slice with a thin layer of goat cheese.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine one clove of garlic, the red pepper, pine nuts, Parmesan, parsley, basil, lemon juice and cayenne pepper. Pulse until a coarse puree forms. Add salt and pepper to taste. Spread a spoonful of the red pepper pesto onto each baguette slice

Monday, January 3, 2011

Palmiers and Cinnamon Palmiers

I made these for my mom's birthday after watching Ina Garten make them on her show. They are really easy and use puff pastry-- which is both something my mom likes and something my sister can eat. Ina's recipe is vegan as long as you use vegan puff pastry like Pepperidge Farms (the "good" ones may have butter in them). I also made a non-vegan version that involved butter and cinnamon--but with vegan margarine it could be vegan too. The left on in the picture is the non-vegan one and it didn't keep its scrolls as tight. Both were very tasty.


2 cups granulated sugar

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
2 sheets puff pastry, defrosted (recommended: Pepperidge Farm)

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Combine the sugar and kosher salt. Pour 1 cup of the sugar/salt mixture on a flat surface such as wooden board or marble. Unfold each sheet of puff pastry onto the sugar and pour 1/2 cup of the sugar mixture on top, spreading it evenly on the puff pastry. This is not about sprinkling, it's about an even covering of sugar. With a rolling pin, roll the dough until it's 13 by 13-inches square and the sugar is pressed into the puff pastry on top and bottom. Fold the sides of the square towards the center so they go halfway to the middle. Fold them again so the two folds meet exactly at the middle of the dough. Then fold 1 half over the other half as though closing a book. You will have 6 layers. Slice the dough into 3/8-inch slices and place the slices, cut side up, on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Place the second sheet of pastry on the sugared board, sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar mixture, and continue as above. (There will be quite a bit of sugar left over on the board.) Slice and arrange on baking sheets lined with parchment.

Bake the cookies for 6 minutes until caramelized and brown on the bottom, then turn with a spatula and bake another 3 to 5 minutes, until caramelized on the other side. Transfer to a baking rack to cool.

Source: Ina Garten

Cinnamon Palmiers

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 lb puff pastry (1 sheet store bought)
1 egg, beaten

Preheat an oven to 400F.
Stir together the sugar, cinnamon, and melted butter until it forms a paste.

Roll the pastry dough into a large rectangle, about 15-inches by 12-inches. Using a pastry brush or spoon, spread the cinnamon sugar paste in a thin, even layer over the dough. Starting at the long ends of the rectangle, loosely roll each side inward until they meet in the middle. To hold difficult pastry together, brush it with the egg, if needed.

Slice the pastry crosswise into 1/4-inch palmiers – they’ll look like little scrolls - and arrange them on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake them for 12-15 minutes, until they puff and turn golden brown. Remove them from the baking sheet and serve warm or at room temperature.


Monday, December 27, 2010

Maple Whipped Cream

I like to spice things up with my whipped cream every once in a while. I've added amaretto, whiskey, etc. This one I thought sounded good to put on my persimmon and apple tart, I also froze it and put it on blueberry pie. That works really well since fresh whipped cream doesn't keep well in the fridge. Also, you can cover a cookie sheet with wax paper and put dollops of whipped cream on it.  Then freeze them for individual servings later. This whipped cream did not have a strong maple flavor, but it was still good.

Maple Whipped Cream

Chill a metal bowl in the freezer. Remove bowl from freezer and add one cup of heavy whipping cream to the bowl. Beat cream with a hand mixer. As cream begins to thicken, gradually drizzle in 1/4 cup real maple syrup. Continue beating until whipped cream is stiff. Serve atop your favorite dessert!


Saturday, December 18, 2010

Buttered Toffee Popcorn

I never really think of making caramel corn, but this looked really good. And guess is. Fairly easy to make and makes a great gift for the holidays.

Buttered Toffee Popcorn

*Note: you want about 18 cups of popped corn. I've found that about 1/4 cup of unpopped kernels yields about 5 1/2 to 6 cups popped corn. While the recipe calls for 3/4 cup unpopped kernels, be sure to only add it a bit at a time in shifts according to your popcorn popper so the kernels don't burn.

*Makes about 18 cups of toffee popcorn (that seems like a lot, but trust me, it goes fast!)

3/4 cup unpopped popcorn kernels, white or yellow
2 sticks butter
2 1/4 cups light brown sugar
3/4 cup dark corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
2-3 cups roasted, salted peanuts

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Grease two large rimmed baking sheets and set aside.

Pop the popcorn kernels, in shifts if needed to ensure your popcorn popper doesn't burn the popcorn, and place the popcorn in a large bowl, sifting through to remove the unpopped kernels.

In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. When melted add the brown sugar, corn syrup, and salt. Bring to a boil while stirring. Once the mixture starts boiling, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring often, for 3 minutes. The mixture will be slightly thickened. Take the pot off the heat and stir in the vanilla and baking soda. The mixture will bubble so be careful.

Pour the caramel over the popcorn and mix slightly. Add the peanuts and mix well but gently (so you don't break apart the popcorn) until the popcorn is evenly coated and the peanuts are distributed through the mixture.

Turn the popcorn out onto the baking sheets, spreading into an even layer. Bake the popcorn for one hour, stirring and tossing every 20 minutes. Move the bottom tray to the upper rack and vice versa each time you stir. The popcorn will deepen in color and harden a bit as the caramel bakes and sets. Cool the popcorn to room temperature. Store in an airtight container. I've found the popcorn will keep, stored tightly, for 1-2 weeks.

Source: My Kitchen Cafe