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

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Virgin Buttermilk Pancakes

I gave out the recipe for these pancakes 2 years ago and never tried them. I finally did and they are super good. The olive oil can only be found at the Queen Creek Olive Mill or online. Whole Foods carries them, but I don't think they have all the fancy flavors. It's worth the trip down anyway. You could also try putting a split vanilla bean in olive oil and warm it to infuse it. I make rosemary olive oil that way. Anyway, it's worth a try because the pancakes are yummy.

Virgin Buttermilk Pancakes

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour

1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup QCOM Vanilla Bean Olive Oil
1 egg
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
Pinch of salt

Preheat skillet or griddle to med-high. Combine all wet ingredients in blender, pulse once. Then add rest of the ingredients in blender, purée until smooth. Pour 1-2 oz. of batter onto griddle. Cook until top are full of bubbles and bottom is golden grown, flip and brown other side. Remove and finish with favorite toppings.

*Try substituting Queen Creek Olive Mill Blood Orange Olive Oil, Meyer Lemon Olive Oil, Mexican Lime Olive Oil, or Chocolate Extra Virgin Olive Oil for unique and tasty pancakes.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Italian Sub Stoup with Garlic Toast Floaters

Rachael Ray, this is awesome. The only thing that I have to say that is bad about this recipe is that the next day there isn't any juice and it ends up being pasta----of course it still tastes really good. The flavors are really good and the croutons are a must. They should be snitched straight out of the oven too. Yum. This makes a large batch, so be prepared for leftovers.

Italian Sub Stoup with Garlic Toast Floaters

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan, plus 1/4 cup for croutons

3/4 pound, 3 links, hot or sweet Italian sausage, split and meat removed from casing
1/4 pound piece stick pepperoni, diced
1 ham steak, diced (about 1/2 to 3/4 pound)
1 green bell pepper, seeded, quartered and sliced
1 medium yellow onion, peeled, quartered and sliced
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 cups chicken stock
1/2 pound gemelli pasta or other short-cut pasta
5 cups cubed crusty bread
3 large cloves garlic, cracked from skin
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, a couple of handfuls
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
2 bunches arugula, trimmed and coarsely chopped (about 4 cups)

Place a soup pot or deep sided skillet on the stove top and preheat to medium high heat. Add olive oil, 2 turns of the pan and the sausage. Brown and crumble the sausage, drain off excess fat if necessary then add the ham and pepperoni. Cook meats together 2 minutes then add peppers and onions and cook 2 or 3 minutes more. Add diced tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Add chicken stock and bring stoup to a boil. Stir in pasta and cook for 8 minutes. Make croutons while pasta cooks.

In a large skillet heat about 1/4 cup of olive oil, 4 turns of the pan over medium heat. Add garlic and cook 1 minute. Add bread to garlic oil, toss and toast the cubes 5 or 6 minutes. Season the toasty cubes with red pepper flakes, oregano and lots of grated cheese.

Stir arugula into soup just before you serve it up. Ladle up the stoup and float several toasty garlic bread cubes in each bowl.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Black Beans and Corn

I wanted a side dish for my empanadas that had vegetables in it and thought of corn. I found this recipe on Martha Stewart's website. It's easy and more exciting than just beans or just corn. My husband was a big fan.

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 can (15 1/2 ounces) black beans
2 tablespoons tomato puree
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 cup canned green chiles, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 cup fresh corn kernels
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Splash of lime juice
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped parsley leaves for garnish (I used cilantro)

Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and onions, and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent and very soft, about 10 minutes.

Drain the black beans, and reserve 1/4 cup of the liquid. Add the beans, the reserved bean liquid, and the remaining ingredients, except the parsley, to saucepan; cover, raise heat to medium, and cook, stirring occasionally, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from heat, transfer to a serving dish, and garnish with the parsley leaves. Serve immediately.


Monday, November 15, 2010

Kit Kat Bars

I can't say that these taste exactly like a kit kat bar, but they are still good. I tried them from the fridge and at room temperature. I think they are better at room temperature. The flavors meld better.

Kit Kat Bars

75 club crackers (I didn't actually count, just buy a box of crackers)

1 cup butter (2 sticks)
2 cups gram cracker crumbs (from about 14 graham cracker sheets)
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup whole milk (I used skim)
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup cream peanut butter
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate morsels
1/2 cup butterscotch-flavored morsels (I just used extra chocolate chips)

In an ungreased 13x9" baking sheet, put a layer of club crackers. You may need to cut a few in order to cover the entire base. I cut 2 crackers in half to lay them on the side.

In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat, then add the graham cracker crumbs, the brown sugar, the milk and the white sugar. I made the graham cracker crumbs simply by putting around 14 sheets of crackers in my mini food processor (in batches) and processing until they reached the consistency of fine crumbs.

Boil the mixture for 5 minutes (starting the timer the moment you start to see bubbles) and stir the entire time. Remove from the heat, and spread half of the mixture over the crackers already in the baking pan. I used an off-set spatula for this, but that's not necessary. Lay another layer of club crackers over the butter mixture. At this point, I returned the remaining half of the butter mixture to the heat for under one minute to get it flowing again. Spread the remainder of the butter mixture over the second layer of crackers. Add a final layer of crackers over the top.

In a small saucepan, melt the last three ingredients together, then spread this mixture over the third layer of crackers. Cover and place in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour. Cut into bars and store in the refrigerator.


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Green Chile Beef Empanadas

What can you do with leftover shredded beef from our shredded green chile beef burritos? Make empanadas. It's a really easy way to use up your shredded beef leftovers--of course you can make the shredded beef just for this recipe too. It's a recipe from Robin Miller of Food Network. Yum, yum, yum.

Green Chile Beef Empanadas

2 (9-inch) refrigerated pie crusts

2 cups cooked shredded beef
1 cup shredded Monterey jack cheese
1 (4-ounce) can diced green chiles

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Unroll pie crusts onto a flat surface. Top each quadrant of crust with 1/2 cup of beef, 1/4 cup of cheese and about a tablespoon of chiles, making even layers and spreading ingredients to within 1/2-inch of the edges. Top with second pie crust. Using a pastry cutter or sharp knife, make an X across the circle, making 4 equal sections. Pinch around the edges with a fork to seal.

Transfer empanadas to a baking sheet and make small slits in the top of each one to allow steam to escape during cooking. Bake 8 to 10 minutes, until crust is golden brown.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread

I do not like most things pumpkin. I do however like pumpkin chocolate chip bread. I don't know what it is. Maybe the flavor is more subtle than something like pumpkin pie. All I know is that it is good. And so is this recipe. It makes two loaves, so beware. The amounts will seem large and make sure you use a big bowl.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread

*Note: This bread tastes best when it has cooled completely for a few hours and tastes even better the next day.

*Makes 2 (9X5-inch loaves) or 3 (8X4-inch loaves)

2 ½ cups white flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
3 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
1 cup canola or vegetable oil
4 large eggs
2/3 cup water
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two 9x5-inch loaf pans or three 8x4-inch loaf pans. In a large bowl, mix flours, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt together. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together canned pumpkin, oil, eggs and 2/3 cup water until well combined and stir into dry ingredients, just until the dry ingredients are moistened and no dry streaks remain. Stir in chocolate chips. Pour batter in prepared pans.

Bake the bread for 60 to 70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove the bread from the oven and let sit for 10-15 minutes. Run a knife gently around the edge of the bread and turn the bread out, right side up, onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Source: mel's kitchen cafe

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Green Chili Beef Burritos

This recipe is similar to another shredded beef burrito recipe I make. It is a little spicier because of the jalapenos, but not too spicy. We only used half the recipe since 3 pounds is plenty for us. Also didn't add the seasoning blend. I did not wait patiently for the sauce to cool and skim the fat. Instead I stuck my immersion blender in the crock pot and then added the meat back right away. It definitely had more flavor after I put it back in the liquid. They are very good burritos and the meat can be used for other, say, empanadas.

Green Chili Beef Burritos

2 boneless beef top sirlion roast (3 pounds each)

4 cans (4 ounces each) chopped green chilies
1 medium onion, chopped
3 medium jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped
3 garlic cloves,sliced
3 teaspoons chili powder 
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin 
1 teaspoon salt-free seasoning blend,(optional)
1 cup beef broth
24 flour tortillas (7 inches), warmed
diced tomatoes, shredded lettuce, shredded cheese, (optional)
Trim fat from roast; cut meat into large chunks. Place in a 5-quart slow cooker. Top with chilies, onion, jalapenos, garlic, chili powder, cumin, and seasoning blend. Pour broth over all. Cover and cook on low for 8 to 9 hours. Remove beef; cool slighty. Shred with two forks.

Cool cooking liquid; skim fat. In a blender cover and process cooking liquid in small batches until smooth. Return liquid and beef to slow cooker; heat through.

Place 1/3 cup beef mixture on tortilla. Top with cheese, tomato, lettuce if desired. Fold in ends and sides

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Chile Con Queso

I don't make queso dip very often, because it's too easy too eat way too much. But it sure is good. This recipe is from and is less fat and calories than the typical dip....but not a diet food by any means. It is quite tasty. A little more work than velveeta, but I think it is worth it.

Chile Con Queso

2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup pale ale, or other light-colored beer
1 1/2 cups low-fat milk, divided
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 3/4 cups shredded sharp Cheddar, preferably orange
1 10-ounce can diced tomatoes with green chiles, drained, or 1 1/4 cups drained petite-diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon chili powder
Cayenne pepper, to taste (optional)
1/4 cup sliced scallions
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until soft and beginning to brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Add beer and cook until reduced slightly, about 1 minute. Add 1 cup milk and bring to a simmer.

Meanwhile, whisk the remaining 1/2 cup milk and cornstarch in a small bowl. Add to the pan and cook, stirring vigorously, until bubbling and thickened, 1 to 2 minutes. Reduce heat to low, add cheese and cook, stirring, until melted. Stir in drained tomatoes, lime juice, salt, chili powder and cayenne (if using). Serve warm, garnished with scallions and cilantro.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Turkey Tetrazzini

I found this recipe on It seems like a bit of a lightened version of turkey tetrazzini--especially since I decided to use skim milk instead of lightened cream. It made it a bit thinner, but it still tasted good. Nothing fancy, not too complicated.

Turkey Tetrazzini

1 teaspoon olive oil

10 ounces white mushrooms, sliced
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons flour
6 ounces egg noodles
1 can (14.5 ounces) low-sodium chicken broth
3/4 cuplight cream
1 package cooked turkey breast strips
1 package (10 ounces) frozen peas, thawed

Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add mushrooms and onion to pot. Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, for 7 minutes or until tender.

Stir in flour and cook 1 minute. Remove mushroom mixture from pot and set aside. Return pot to medium-high heat and add noodles, broth, light cream and 2-1/4 cups water. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 12 minutes or until tender.

Stir in mushroom mixture, remaining 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper, the turkey and peas. Heat through; serve.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Pushing Daisies' Gruyere Apple Pie

I haven't actually seen Pushing Daisies--despite my sister's insistence that I should. One of these days I will get around to it. Anyway, my sister-in-law actually sent this recipe to me to try. It is not overly cheesy, but when you get the edges of the top crust you can definitely taste the cheese. It's subtle but there. Just enough to give it a unique flavor without overpowering the apple. The pie is very good. Excellent even.

Nerdy pi marking made by my husband.

Pushing Daisies' Gruyere Pie

Makes 1 9-inch, deep-dish apple pie

3 lbs. tart red apples (Northern Spy, Romes, Empires, or Harralsons)--we used granny smith picked from an orchard in Willcox, AZ
1/2 c. sugar
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
5 tsp. cornstarch or all-purpose flour
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 Gruyère Pie Crust–recipe below

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Take dough out of fridge.
Peel, core and slice apples into quarters. Slice each quarter thinly. Mix with other ingredients.

Roll the larger piece of dough into a disk about fourteen inches in diameter. I use a piece of parchment paper dusted with flour to prevent sticking. Flip parchment paper over 9 inch deep dish or 10 inch glass pie plate, and ease dough into plate.

Roll smaller piece of dough into circle twelve inches in diameter. Pile apples into pie plate, scraping any juice on top of the apples. Place smaller round of dough on top of the apples. Seal two crusts together, brush with the beaten egg, and make three parallel slits in the top crust to allow steam to escape.

Place pie on a cookie sheet to catch any drips, put in oven, and reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees. Bake 50 minutes to an hour, or until you can see the filling bubbling up between the slits in the crust. Cool on a wire rack at least 20 minutes before serving.

Gruyère Pie Crust

Making pie dough is governed by three principles. 1) Use leaf-lard. Spare me your gasp of horror; leaf lard makes the most tender pie crust around and unlike Crisco, contains no transfats and doesn’t leave an unpleasant, soapy taste in your mouth. Don’t use lard from the grocery store; it is most likely rancid. Leaf lard should smell pure. Buy from a butcher, or order here. And okay, if you are utterly opposed to lard, you may use butter. 2) Leave pea sized lumps of butter in the dough. Under the pressure of the rolling pin, the lumps of butter flatten into thin sheets that alternate with the flour. In the heat of the oven, they create the flaky layers that characterize the best pie doughs. 3) Keep in mind the pie ough rule of escalating insanity. The more your pie dough makes you weep, gnash your teeth and lie on the kitchen floor convinced that the whole enterprise is a complete disaster, the more likely it is that your pie dough will be heavenly. Beware the pie dough that is easy to work with; it will most likely end up dry and tough.

While everyone from Cook’s Illustrated to Rose Levy Berenbaum recommends the food processor for quick and easy pie crusts, I have never had luck with it. The food processor overprocesses the dough, and my crusts end up tough. If you use the food processor, only use it to cut the butter into the flour. After that mix with a fork. If you don’t use a food processor, a pastry blender will do. You can use your fingers, but you run the risk of melting the butter with the heat of your hands, ruining the effect of those pea sized pockets of butter. Luckily for me, my icy, grim reaper fingers pose no such threat to the pie dough.

Makes one double-crusted 9-10 inch pie.
2 1/2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp. sugar
13 tbsp. cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1 in pieces and stored in the fridge
7 tbsp. leaf lard (or more butter, if you must)
2 oz. Gruyère, grated with a microplane rasp grater
6-7 tbsp. ice water

Mix flour, salt, sugar and Gruyere in a large mixing bowl or bowl of a food processor. Using a food processor, pastry blender, or your fingers, cut in the large until no large pieces remain. Add the butter, and cut into flour until the largest pieces of butter are the size of large peas.

Remove flour-butter mixture from food processor, if using, and place in a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle ice water over flour in increments of one tablespoon, toss with fork after each addition. (Try not to add too much extra water, but I usually end up going over the recommended amount.) When dough clumps together when squeezed in your palm, gather dough together into two disks, one slightly larger than the other, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Chicken and Dumplings

I love chicken and dumplings. It's almost as good as chicken pot pie and easier to make. I often use rotisserie chicken as a shortcut. The recipe recommends Jiffy biscuit mix, but I use Bisquick and use the recipe on the box. Oh, and lots of poultry seasoning.

Chicken and Dumplings

1 1/2 pounds chicken breast tenders
1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 turn of the pan
2 tablespoons butter
1 russet potato, peeled and diced
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced or thinly sliced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 rib celery, diced
1 bay leaf, fresh or dried
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning, 1/3 palm full
2 tablespoons flour, a handful
1 quart chicken broth or stock, canned or paper container, preferred brand Kitchen Basics
1 small box biscuit mix(preferred brand Jiffy Mix)
1/2 cup warm water
Handful flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 cup frozen green peas

Dice tenders into bite size pieces and set aside. Wash hands.

Place a large pot on stove over medium high heat. Add oil, butter, vegetables and bay leaf and cook 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Season mixture with salt, pepper and poultry seasoning. Add flour to the pan and cook 2 minutes. Stir broth or stock to the pot and bring to a boil. Add chicken to the broth and stir.

Place biscuit mix in a bowl. Combine with 1/2 cup warm water and parsley. Drop tablespoonfuls of prepared mix into the pot, spacing dumplings evenly. Cover pot tightly and reduce heat to medium low. Steam dumplings 8 to 10 minutes. Remove cover and stir chicken and dumplings to thicken sauce a bit. Stir peas into the pan, remove chicken and dumplings from heat and serve in shallow bowls.

Source: Rachael Ray

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Vegan Zucchini Cake

This recipe is very similar to my "family" recipe. It's vegan, but it does't have any weird ingredients. The banana that replaces the egg does give it a hint of banana flavor, but it is still really good. I opted for no nuts or chocolate chips.

Zucchini Cake

2 1/2 cups grated, peeled, fresh zucchini

2 ripe bananas, mashed well
1 cup canola oil
3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cups ground walnuts (optional)
1 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional)

In medium sized mixing bowl, combine zuchini, bananas, oil, and vanilla. Stir well or beat with electric mixer if you want to be fancy. In large bowl, combine all remaining ingredients except chocolate. Add wet mixture to dry, mix well and add chocolate chips. Pour into lightly greased and floured bundt pan. Bake at 350 for 45-60 minutes, until toothpick or knife inserted comes out clean. Let cool upright 15 minutes, then invert onto cooling rack. Allow to cool 30 minutes before tasting.
Source: Post Punk Kitchen

Friday, October 8, 2010

Hamburger Buddy

I haven't really had a lot of Hamburger Helper in my life, but I imagine this is much better---and better for you. Ok, the name is pretty lame, but it's good.

Hamburger Buddy

3 cloves garlic, crushed and peeled

2 medium carrots, cut into 2-inch pieces
10 ounces white mushrooms, large ones cut in half
1 large onion, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 pound 90%-lean ground beef
2 teaspoons dried thyme
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 cups water
1 14-ounce can reduced-sodium beef broth, divided
8 ounces whole-wheat elbow noodles, (2 cups)
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley, or chives for garnish

Fit a food processor with the steel blade attachment. With the motor running, drop garlic through the feed tube and process until minced, then add carrots and mushrooms and process until finely chopped. Turn it off, add onion, and pulse until roughly chopped.

Cook beef in a large straight-sided skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the chopped vegetables, thyme, salt and pepper and cook, stirring often, until the vegetables start to soften and the mushrooms release their juices, 5 to 7 minutes.

Stir in water, 1 1/2 cups broth, noodles and Worcestershire sauce; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is tender, 8 to 10 minutes.

Whisk flour with the remaining 1/4 cup broth in a small bowl until smooth; stir into the hamburger mixture. Stir in the sour cream. Simmer, stirring often, until the sauce is thickened, about 2 minutes. Serve sprinkled with parsley (or chives), if desired
Source: Eating Well

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Spicy Orange Habenero Salsa

Our habenero plant is very fruitful right now. I can tolerate a little spice, but these guys can be hot. We tried to find a recipe that would highlight the spice without knocking us out. This salsa was very good. It was definitely spicy, but it was a good burn. If you don't have a lot of time--or access to fresh tomatillos--there are definitely shortcuts you can take. I have seen canned tomatillos and mandarin oranges if you want a quicker salsa.

Spicy Orange Habenero Salsa

1 pound tomatillos
3 to 4 habanero peppers
2 oranges
6 green onions, sliced
lime juice

In an ungreased iron skillet, roast half of the tomatillos in their husks for about 10 minutes, turning often; remove from pan and cool. When cool, place them in a blender, and set aside. Meanwhile remove husks from remaining tomatillos and rinse them and dice fine, and place them in a bowl.

Roast the habaneros over low heat, turning often, about 5 to 7 minutes, or until they begin to char; remove from pan. Stem and remove seeds of habaneros (wear gloves), and add to blender; purée. Squeeze one of the oranges over a sieve placed over the bowl with the tomatillos (to catch any stray seeds). Add the pepper/tomatillo purée and mix well. Peel the remaining orange; remove pith; remove seeds (if desired); dice fine, and add to the bowl along with the chopped green onions. Season to taste with salt and lime juice and allow to stand for 30 minutes to 1 hour before serving to develop flavor.

Source: Clay's Kitchen

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Beef Jerky

Guest Post from the Hubby:
I love beef jerky and I have always wanted to try making it myself, but I don’t have a food dehydrator. I recently saw Alton Brown make it using a fan and some household air filters. I made two batches of this delicious jerky. The first time I made it according to the directions and the second batch I added some bourbon to the marinade. Both were delicious and chewy. The only thing I did differently was to cook the jerky for half an hour or so at my oven’s lowest temperature. I did this because I was a little nervous about not cooking the meat. This worked great, the only problem I had was that some of the smaller thinner pieces ended up a little too dry, so next time I make it I probably will not dry the jerky as long in the fan.

Beef Jerky

1 1/2 to 2 pounds flank steak
2/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
2/3 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Special Equipment: 1 box fan, 4 paper air-conditioning filters, and 2 bungee cords

Trim the flank steak of any excess fat, place in a zip-top bag, and place it in the freezer for 1 to 2 hours in order to firm up. Remove the steak from the freezer and thinly slice the meat with the grain, into long strips.

Place the strips of meat along with all of the remaining ingredients into a large, 1-gallon plastic zip-top bag and move around to evenly distribute all of the ingredients. Place the bag into the refrigerator for 3 to 6 hours.

Remove the meat from the brine and pat dry. Evenly distribute the strips of meat onto 3 of the air filters, laying them in the grooves and then stacking the filters on top of one another. Top these with 1 empty filter. Next, lay the box fan on its side and lay the filters on top of it. Strap the filters to the fan with 2 bungee cords. Stand the fan upright, plug in and set to medium. Allow the meat dry for 8 to 12 hours. If using a commercial dehydrator, follow the manufacturer's directions. Once dry, store in a cool dry place, in an airtight container for 2 to 3 months.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Bourbon Fudge Brownies

These are soooooo good. When I was making the batter, it was a little dry. I added a little extra bourbon. They tasted really good, but when I cut into them them the top cracked a lot. I really liked the crunchy top, but maybe next time I'll add some milk if the batter is too dry. Maybe it'll make them less fragile. Anyway, I will definitely be making these again. They don't taste like bourbon if you are afraid of that. Just a hint of whatever people who like bourbon claim that it tastes like.

Bourbon Fudge Brownies

1/4 cup bourbon
1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cups sugar
6 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350°.
Bring bourbon to a boil in a small saucepan; remove from heat. Add chocolate chips, stirring until smooth. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt, stirring with a whisk.

Combine sugar and butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well combined. Add vanilla and eggs; beat well. Add flour mixture and bourbon mixture to sugar mixture, beating at low speed just until combined.

Spread batter into a 9-inch square baking pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack.

Source: Cooking Light

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Sauteed Halibut with Lemon Pesto Butter

This recipe from Cooking Light magazine is so good. It's super easy too. We used pesto that we had frozen in ice cube trays to make little pesto cubes. I subbed regular yellow onions for the shallots so that I wouldn't have to go to the store for a teaspoon of shallots. We also used the tilapia that we had. Tilapia is cheap and easy to find, so I sub it out in a lot of fish dishes. When the fish is done cooking and you spread the pesto over it, you can watch the butter melt over the top. Yum! We had it 2 nights in a row and I can't wait to make it again.

3 tablespoons butter, softened
1 tablespoon refrigerated pesto
1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh basil
1 teaspoon finely chopped shallots
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind
4 (6-ounce) skinless halibut fillets
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Cooking spray

Combine first 5 ingredients in a small bowl, stirring until well blended.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle fillets evenly on both sides with salt and pepper. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add fillets to pan; sauté 5 minutes on each side or until fish flakes easily with a fork or until desired degree of doneness. Serve fish with butter mixture.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Thai Iced Tea

I first had a Thai iced tea at a restaurant in California. A friend's brother wanted to make it for me (he worked there) and I agreed to try it. I don't really like tea, but this has a sweet, creamy, spicy taste. Not spicy hot, but with some spices in it. This Giada recipe is pretty good. It's a very sweet drink, so not for the faint at heart. Of course the sweet creaminess makes it a good pairing for hot Thai food.

Thai Iced Tea

5 cups water

1/2 cup sugar
5 whole star anise pods
8 black tea bags
3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
Mint leaves, for garnish

In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, bring the water, sugar and star anise pods to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat and add the tea bags. Allow the tea to steep and cool to room temperature, about 1 hour. Discard the star anise pods and the tea bags and whisk in the condensed milk. Pour into a large pitcher and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or until ready to serve.

To serve: Pour the tea into 4 ice-filled glasses. Garnish with fresh mint leaves and serve.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Strawberry Golden Oreo Vegan Ice Cream

I had a bunch of extra almond milk to use up so I made some ice cream for my sister. It was inspired by a blizzard. I think the ice cream tasted like strawberry milk. It was a bit icy, but ok.

Strawberry Golden Oreo Vegan Ice Cream

1½ - 2 c. strawberries (fresh or frozen and thawed)

2 c. soy creamer (I substituted coconut milk)
1 c. soy milk (I used almond milk)
¾ c. sugar
2 T. arrowroot
1 T. vanilla
Golden Oreos, chopped
Mix ¼ cup of soy milk with the 2 tablespoons of arrowroot and set aside. Slice one cup of the strawberries and set aside. Combine the remaining strawberries, soy creamer, remaining soy milk, and sugar together in a blender and puree. Pour the mixture into a saucepan and bring to a boil. When the mixture has just started to boil, take off the heat and immediately stir in the arrowroot slurry. This should immediately cause the liquid to thicken (not a lot, but a noticeable amount; it will be thicker when it cools). Add the vanilla. Set the ice cream mixture aside to cool. Freeze according to your ice cream maker’s instructions. Add sliced strawberries and Oreos in the last five minutes of freezing.

Source: A Vegan Ice Cream Paradise

Monday, September 6, 2010

Tadka Dal

I do like Indian food, but we often buy the premade packets of sauce from the Asian market. Indian food can involve a lot of spices, some that are hard to find. My husband definitely had to hit the Asian market for this recipe. He even had to go to an Indian market for the last ingredient. It wasn't a terribly hard recipe--especially since we got to use the pressure cooker. The directions on this recipe were a little confusing on the pressure cooker part. Ours doesn't do a whistling thing like is described. So we waited until the cooker started going and let it cook for a while. It was definitely mushy when it was done. It's supposed to be mushy. The recipe that I linked has some links that describe some of the weirder ingredients. If you are adventurous enough to make this, you will probably need it.

1 cup Toor or Tuvar Daal --mine was actually labeled Moong

1 large tomato cut into cubes
1 tsp ginger paste (we just used minced ginger)
1 tsp garlic paste (we used minced garlic)
Salt to taste
1 tbsp vegetable/ sunflower/ canola cooking oil
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
3 tbsps melted ghee (clarified butter)
1 tsp Paanch Phoran (see recipe below)
10 curry leaves
2 slit green chillies (optional but preferred)
1/2 tsp asafetida powder
Thoroughly wash the Daal and put into a pressure cooker. Add 2 cups of water to it. Now add the chopped tomato, ginger, garlic pastes, salt to taste, 1 tbsp of cooking oil and turmeric powder to it. Stir well.

Cover the pressure cooker and set on the stove at a high flame. After the first 'whistle'/ pressure release, reduce the flame to simmer and cook for 2 more 'whistles'/ pressure releases. Turn off the fire and release the pressure from the cooker. Now open the pressure cooker and stir the boiled lentils well to blend into a smooth soup-like consistency. If it is too thick, add some warm water and stir till the consistency is right. Heat the Daal through again. It shoudl be piping hot before you carry out the next step in the recipe.

Heat the ghee on a medium flame, in a small pan till hot. Now add the Paanch Phoran and fry till spluttering stops. Add the curry leaves and green chillies and cook till spluttering stops. Turn off the fire and add the asafetida powder. Stir to mix well and add this tempering mix to the boiled lentil mixture. It will sizzle and might splutter a bit, so be careful when you do this. Stir well.

Serve with plain boiled rice.


Friday, September 3, 2010

Green Chile Chicken Casserole

My husband has a fondness for green chiles and casseroles. Can you imagine why he picked this recipe out. Well I don't mind, cause it was delicious. The recipe is from Cooking Light and makes some good leftovers.

Green Chile Chicken Casserole

1 1/3 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 cup canned chopped green chiles, drained
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup fat-free sour cream
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 (10 1/2-ounce) cans condensed 98% fat-free cream of chicken soup, undiluted (such as Campbell's)
1 garlic clove, minced
Cooking spray
24 (6-inch) corn tortillas
4 cups shredded cooked chicken breast (about 1 pound)
2 cups (8 ounces) finely shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350°. Combine the first 9 ingredients in a large saucepan, stirring with a whisk. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Spread 1 cup soup mixture in a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Arrange 6 tortillas over the soup mixture, and top with 1 cup chicken and 1/2 cup cheese. Repeat layers, ending with the cheese. Spread remaining soup mixture over cheese. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until bubbly.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Frozen Blueberry Pie

Love summer and all the yummy fruit. We got lots of blueberries and needed to use them. It's rough. Alton Brown's recipe is really convenient. You make pie filling and cook it whenever you want. Of course, we baked it the next day and saved one for later. The pie was very good and not at all runny.

Frozen Blueberry Pie

20 ounces blueberries, approximately 4 cups
4 ounces sugar, approximately 1/2 cup
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/4 ounces tapioca flour, approximately 5 tablespoons
1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
1 teaspoon orange zest
2 (9-inch) store-bought pie doughs
1 egg yolk whisked with 1 teaspoon water

Wash the berries and pat dry. Mash up half of the blueberries in a small bowl. In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, salt and tapioca flour. Add the mashed blueberries, orange juice and orange zest and stir to combine. Let the mixture sit for 15 minutes. Fold in the whole berries.

Line a 9-inch pie plate with aluminum foil. Place the blueberry mixture into the foil and place in the freezer until solid, approximately 6 to 8 hours.

Once the filling is frozen, remove from the aluminum foil and wrap in plastic wrap and store in a freezer bag for up to 3 months.

For baking:

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Unroll first piece of dough and place into a 9-inch pie pan, making sure the dough reaches to the lip of the pie pan. Trim excess, if necessary. Prick the bottom and sides with a fork and set aside. Unroll second piece of dough and cut into 1 1/8-inch wide strips that are at least 10-inches long. Using a ruler that is 1 1/8-inches wide, lay the ruler on the dough at 1 edge and roll across dough using the edge of the ruler as you go to cut through the dough.

Remove the frozen pie filling from the freezer and place into the prepared dough in the pan. Lightly brush the edge of the crust with the egg yolk. Lay 4 strips of dough across the top of the filling horizontally, leaving an even amount of space in between each strip. Fold back 2 alternating strips and lay down another strip in the middle of the pie, perpendicular to the other strips. Return the strips that are laid back to their original position. Next, fold back the other 2 strips and lay down a strip to the left of the center perpendicular strip. Return the strips that are laid back to their original position and repeat on the other side of the perpendicular strip, folding back the same 2 strips as you did on the other side. Once you have a lattice, brush all the strips of dough with the egg yolk, trim excess dough and pinch strips and edge of crust in order to seal. Place on the bottom rack of the oven and bake for about 1 hour 15 minutes. The pie should be bubbling lightly around the edges. If the lattice is not browned enough in the center, place under the broiler for 1 to 2 minutes.

Place the pie on a rack and allow to cool to room temperature before serving, approximately 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Jamaican Jerk Pork Tenderloin

We have a habenero plant in our garden. It has been spewing out peppers like a crazy plant. This Cooking Light recipe is actually one that I have made before, and love. I am usually a chicken and only use one habenero (good luck finding a scotch bonnet around here). This time we used a few more peppers, maybe 4. It has a nice flavor and still not too spicy.

Jamaican Jerk Pork Tenderloin

2 cups coarsely chopped green onions

1/2 cup coarsely chopped onion
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
2 teaspoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons chopped peeled fresh ginger
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 to 4 Scotch bonnet or habanero peppers, seeded and chopped
1 (1 1/2-pound) pork tenderloin, trimmed
Cooking spray

Place first 15 ingredients in a blender or food processor, and process until smooth.

Slice pork lengthwise, cutting to, but not through, other side. Open halves, laying each side flat. Slice each half lengthwise, cutting to, but not through, other side; open flat. Combine pork and green onion mixture in a dish or large zip-top plastic bag. Cover or seal; marinate in refrigerator 3 to 24 hours. Remove pork from dish or bag; discard remaining marinade.

Prepare grill. Place pork on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 8 minutes on each side or until meat thermometer registers 160° (slightly pink).

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Sunflower Seed Crusted Tilapia

When I first tasted this recipe, I thought it need more flavor. After another bite, I decided I really liked it anyway. I didn't squeeze lemon juice on the fish at the end. I think that would have been what it needed. It's very light and healthy and easy to make. The original recipe called for orange roughy, but tilapia is cheap and easy to find. Plus I like it. So use whatever fish you like :)

Sunflower Seed Crusted Tilapia

2 large egg whites
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1/2 cup Italian-seasoned panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
3 tablespoons unsalted sunflower seed kernels
4 tilapia filets
Cooking spray
Lemon slices (optional)

Preheat oven to 475°. Place a jelly-roll pan in oven while preheating. Combine first 3 ingredients in a medium bowl; stir with a whisk until foamy. Combine panko and sunflower seed kernels in a shallow dish. Dip fillets in egg white mixture; dredge in panko mixture. Place fish on a wire rack; let stand 10 minutes.

Remove jelly-roll pan from oven; coat pan with cooking spray. Coat fish with cooking spray; place on pan. Bake at 475° for 10 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork or until desired degree of doneness. Serve with lemon slices, if desired.

Source: Cooking Light

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Italian Limoncello Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

My husband picked this out for his birthday cake. I think the booze was the clincher. Luckily, we already had limoncello. The cake was super fluffy and nice and lemony. The cream cheese frosting had the texture of cream cheese, but the lemon was definitely the predominant flavor. Not a bad thing, but it was definitely a lemon cake. I used 2 round cake pans since I don't have 2 square ones and it worked fine. Note: after a few days the frosting gets kind of rubbery, so eat it fast.

Italian Limoncello Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

1 box of white cake mix
Oil and eggs as directed on the package
Water as directed on package except for 1/4 cup (replace with limoncello)
¼ cup of limoncello liquor
Grease two square 8x8 pans.

Mix the cake batter according to package directions, except replace ¼ cup of the water with ¼ cup of limoncello. Bake the cake until the top springs back when touched, or a pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Invert the two cake layers onto a cooling rack.

Limoncello cream cheese frosting:
1 package of Jello instant lemon pudding mix (I used the small box)
1 block of cream cheeses, 8 ounces
½ cup of milk
1 ounce limoncello

Allow the cream cheese to sit on the counter to soften. Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl and mix on high speed about 2 minutes, or until creamy and smooth. Turn one cooled cake layer onto a plate. Spread half the frosting mixture on top of the layer. Put the second layer on top of the first, and cover the top but not the sides with frosting. Add some sprinkles if you desire.

Before serving, dust the cake with powdered sugar.


Sunday, August 15, 2010

Chicken Enchilada Pasta

It's amazing how many different takes on pasta you can do. It's not just red or white sauce anymore. This recipe is so good. This will definitely be added to the normal rotation.

Chicken Enchilada Pasta

2-3 chicken breasts, cooked and cubed or shredded

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 medium onion, diced
1 red pepper, diced
4-ounce can diced green chilies
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
2 (10-oz) cans green chili enchilada sauce (I used mild)
2/3 cup red enchilada sauce (I used mild)
1 can large black olives, cut in half
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups shredded cheese (I used sharp cheddar)
16-20 oz. penne pasta (Depending on how “saucy” you want the pasta)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook the pasta until tender. While the pasta is cooking, heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet and add the onion. Cook for 2-3 minutes until onion is translucent. Add the garlic and red pepper and cook for another 2 minutes, until pepper is barely tender. Add the cooked chicken, green chilies, spices, enchilada sauces and olives. Let the sauce simmer for about 8-10 minutes. Add the sour cream and cheese and heat through, until the cheese is melted (but don’t boil!). Pour the sauce over the hot pasta. Garnish with extra sour cream, cheese, diced tomatoes, green onions or crushed tortilla chips.

Source: My Kitchen Cafe

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Creamy Maple Syrup

I wanted to make a recipe that a coworker has for creamy maple syrup, but I haven't received it yet. This was the only one that I found online. It was pretty good. Reminded me of maple candy.

Creamy Maple Syrup

3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup evaporated milk (I substituted coconut milk and it worked)
1/3 cup maple-flavored pancake syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons butter

Combine sugar, 1/2 cup evaporated milk, syrup and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract in small saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat; stir in 2 tablespoons butter.

Source: Nestle'

Monday, August 9, 2010

Roasted Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas

I decided I wanted to make something with tomatillos. My husband picked out this recipe from Tyler Florence. You can skip the whole "make the salsa verde from scratch" step if you want to save time by using it from a jar. I think this recipe needs a double batch to cover the enchiladas. It makes a lot of filling. It might even need a triple batch. It is very good from scratch though. The enchiladas are a little bit spicy and not as saucy as my regular enchiladas, but I really liked them. We made some with corn tortillas and some with flour. I prefer flour and my husband prefers corn. The corn tends to tear, but it doesn't matter once it's cooked.

Roasted Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas

Salsa Verde:

12 tomatillos, husked and rinsed
2 jalapeno peppers, stemmed
1 onion, quartered
Splash white vinegar
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
2 limes, juiced
3 poblano peppers
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, sliced
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups canned chicken stock
1 deli roasted chicken, about 3 pounds, boned, meat shredded
Leaves from 1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
12 large corn tortillas
1/2 pound Monterey jack cheese, shredded

Make the salsa: Put the tomatillos, jalapenos, and onion in a saucepan with the vinegar and water to cover. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and poach until the tomatillos are soft, about 10 minutes. Drain. Put the vegetables in a blender, add the cumin, and puree. Add the cilantro, lime juice, and salt, and pulse to combine. Set aside.

Meanwhile, place the poblano peppers directly over the flame on a gas stove and cook, turning with tongs, until the skin is charred and blackened. (Or, if you have an electric stove, put the chiles on a baking sheet and broil, turning with tongs, until the skin is blackened.) Skin the peppers; then seed, core, and dice them.

Heat a 2-count of olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened and caramelized, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute. Stir in the cumin and cook 1 minute. Then sprinkle on the flour and cook, stirring, 1 more minute. Gradually pour in the stock, stirring constantly. Bring to a simmer, stirring to make sure the flour doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan; the liquid will thicken. Fold in the chicken, diced peppers, and cilantro, and season well with salt and pepper.

To assemble the dish: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Get your self a large baking dish. Dip a tortilla into the tomatilla salsa and put it on a cutting board. Put a big scoop of the chicken mixture in the center, sprinkle with a little of the cheese, and roll the tortilla like a cigar to enclose the filling. Use a spatula to place it seam side down in the baking dish. Continue to fill all of the tortillas and put them in the baking dish. Pour the remaining tomatilla salsa over the top and sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Bake uncovered for about 30 minutes until bubbly and cracked on top. Serve hot with the guacamole and sour cream.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Chocolate Toffee Shortbread Bars

I stumbled across the My Kitchen Cafe food blog and found too many recipes I wanted to try. This one jumped to the top of the list. It's pretty easy to make and is probably horrible for you. Good thing I shared it with my coworkers because they are dangerously good. When I cut the bars I thought I overcooked it. I imagined it would be like cutting into a chocolate chip cookie, but shortbread is crisper so they were perfect. Don't forget the foil. It makes it so much easier to take them out of the pan and cut without casualties.

Chocolate Toffee Shortbread Bars

The Crust:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 sticks (1 cup) butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 ounces bittersweet, semisweet or milk chocolate, finely chopped (if you don’t have a scale, use about 1/2 cup) --I roughly chopped some milk and semi-sweet chocolate chips

The Topping:
6 ounces bittersweet, semisweet, or milk chocolate, finely chopped (again, if you don’t have a scale, use about 1 cup) --I used milk and semi-sweet chocolate chips and no need to chop, but add a few extra chips
1 1/2 cups toffee bits (or about 4-6 Heath bars, chopped)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. To make the crust, combine the all-purpose flour, salt, and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Whisk together and set aside.

Place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer. Alternatively, place the butter in a large bowl and use a hand mixer. Beat for 3 minutes, or until the butter is smooth. Add the brown and granulated sugars and beat for an additional 3 minutes. Add the vanilla and mix briefly.

Add the flour mixture to the butter/sugar mixture. Beat in gradually (you can cover the bowl and your mixer with a towel to avoid flour flying all over the place or just mix in very slowly). Mix until the flour is almost incorporated. Add the 3 ounces of chocolate to the mixer and mix until the rest of the dry ingredients are incorporated. Do not overmix!

Line a 9 X 13-inch pan with foil, leaving long foil ends on the side. Lightly grease the foil.

Scrape the dough into the prepared pan and press down the mixture with a spatula and/or your fingertips. Bake the crust for 18-20 minutes, or until the crust is bubbling. Remove the crust from the oven and place the hot pan on a cooling rack.

Sprinkle the 6 ounces of chocolate over the hot bars and cover the pan with foil to let the chocolate melt. Let the pan sit for 5 minutes. Using an offset spatula or the back of a spoon, spread the softened chocolate over the crust. Sprinkle the toffee pieces (or cut up Heath bars) over the chocolate and press down gently with your fingers.

Let the bars cool to room temperature. If the chocolate is not set by the time the bars are cool, just pop the pan in the freezer for about 10 minutes. Using the long edges of foil as handles, lift the bars out of the pan and cut into bars.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Spicy Mint Beef

I watched Giada make Thai food this weekend and it looked so good we had to make it. So I sent my husband to the Asian market. It was a little spicy, a little minty, and very yummy.

Spicy Mint Beef

3 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil

4 cloves garlic, minced
3 Thai chiles, such as prik kee noo, or 3 serrano chiles, stemmed and thinly sliced*
1 pound flank steak, very thinly sliced
3 shallots, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, stemmed, cored, seeded and cut into 1/8-inch thick slices
1/4 cup fish sauce*
2 tablespoons sweet soy sauce*
2 tablespoons black soy sauce*
1 tablespoon chili paste in soy bean oil*
1 1/2 cups chopped fresh Thai basil leaves*
1 cup whole fresh mint leaves
*Can be found at specialty Asian markets

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and chiles and cook until aromatic, about 30 seconds. Add the steak and cook, stirring frequently, for 2 minutes. Add the shallots and bell pepper and cook for 1 minute. Add the fish sauce, sweet soy sauce, black soy sauce and chili paste. Bring the mixture to a low simmer and cook, stirring frequently until the meat is cooked through and the vegetables are tender, about 3 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the basil and mint until wilted. Transfer to a serving dish and serve over steamed rice.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Gluten Free and Vegan Peanut Butter Chocolate Pie

Looking for a good celiac and vegan friendly dessert recipe, I decided to try a chocolate pie. I find vegan chocolate desserts to a bit rich so I decided to find a pb recipe to balance it out. So the crust makes one crust and the 2 fillings make a full pie each. So you can cut the recipe in half or make 2 pies. Whatever floats your boat.
I found the chocolate pie and crust recipe on the Elana's Pantry blog. The pb is from here. So the end result is pretty tasty. Still a little rich, but decent.

Gluten Free and Vegan Peanut Butter Chocolate Pie

Gluten Free/Vegan Crust
1½ cups blanched almond flour

¼ teaspoon celtic sea salt
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ cup grapeseed oil
2 tablespoons agave nectar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a medium bowl, combine almond flour, salt and baking soda. In a small bowl, combine grapeseed oil, agave and vanilla. Stir wet ingredients into dry. Pat dough into a 9.5 inch glass pie dish. Bake at 325° for 10 to 15 minutes, until golden brown

Chocolate Cream Filling

2 cans coconut milk (14 ounces)
pinch celtic sea salt
¼ cup arrowroot powder
½ cup agave nectar
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
2 cups dark chocolate chips 73% cacao

Bring coconut milk and salt to a boil in a medium pot. Sift arrowroot powder into the pot, whisk vigorously by hand or with a hand blender for 2 minutes. Whisk in agave and vanilla. Remove from heat and let stand for 1 minute. Add chocolate, stirring vigorously until completely melted. Chill in refrigerator for ½ hour until cool. Place in cooled pie crust and serve.

Peanut Butter Pie Filling

1 pound extra-firm silken tofu (I just used the refrigerated silken tofu)

1 cup creamy peanut butter
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons soymilk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Chocolate or carob chips

Combine all of the filling ingredients in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Spoon into pie shell. Decorate with chocolate (or carob) chips. Refrigerate for at least two hours.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Black and White Bean DIp

This dip is pretty easy to make. The hardest thing is chopping a couple of tomatoes. It's yummy and it's very party friendly. You can add some peppers if you like it a little spicy.

Black and White Bean Dip

1 can of black beans
1 can of white beans (I used Great Northern beans)
1 can of corn
1 7oz can of (Herdez) salsa verde
2 cups of shredded Colby Jack cheese
4-6 chopped roma tomatoes (squeeze liquid out of tomatoes before chopping)
garlic salt to taste (I used about 1/2 teaspoon)
Avocado (optional, didn't use)

Rinse and drain both cans of beans. Also drain the can of corn. Make sure to squeeze liquid out of tomatoes before chopping so the dip doesn’t turn runny. Put everything (except for the avocado) in a bowl and mix together. Spray a shallow baking dish with nonstick spray before spooning in the bean mixture. Sprinkle a little cheese on top and pop into the oven. Bake for 20 minutes until the cheese is melted and it is all warm and bubbly. Remove from oven and sprinkle with diced avocado and serve with tortilla chips.
Source: My Kitchen Cafe

Monday, July 19, 2010

Alton Brown's Taco Seasoning

This recipe came from a current episode of Good Eats. I couldn't find it on the Food Network website so if you missed the episode here it is. I think this is a good seasoning mix. It might be a little bit salty. Next time I might try it with a little less salt.

Taco Seasoning

2 T chili powder
1 T cumin
2 tsp corn starch
2 tsp salt
1&1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp cayenne

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

I have to say that if I had a choice, I would pick the Kraft style of macaroni over baked macaroni. My favorite is Back To Nature. My husband really liked this recipe. I thought it was pretty good.

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

1/2 pound elbow macaroni

3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon powdered mustard
3 cups milk
1/2 cup yellow onion, finely diced
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 large egg
12 ounces sharp cheddar, shredded
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Fresh black pepper
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup panko bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large pot of boiling, salted water cook the pasta to al dente.

While the pasta is cooking, in a separate pot, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and mustard and keep it moving for about five minutes. Make sure it's free of lumps. Stir in the milk, onion, bay leaf, and paprika. Simmer for ten minutes and remove the bay leaf.

Temper in the egg. Stir in 3/4 of the cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Fold the macaroni into the mix and pour into a 2-quart casserole dish. Top with remaining cheese.

Melt the butter in a saute pan and toss the bread crumbs to coat. Top the macaroni with the bread crumbs. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and rest for five minutes before serving.

Source: Alton Brown

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Napa Cabbage Salad

I hate cole slaw, potato salad, those vinegar pasta salads. This recipe is about the only "bring to a barbecue" salad that I like (other than the regular green variety). It's sweet so you don't taste that overpowering vinegar taste. This makes a pretty big batch so I only make half at a time. It really doesn't do well as a left-over.

Napa Cabbage Salad

1 head Napa cabbage--regular cabbage works just fine
1 bunch green onions
1 packet Chicken Ramen Noodles (crushed) and seasoning packet
1 cup sliced almonds
2 tbs sesame seeds
1/3 c butter
1/4 c vinegar
3/4 c vegetable oil
1/2 c white sugar
2 tbs soy sauce

Finely shred the head of cabbage. Combine chopped green onions and cabbage in a large bowl, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Crush noodles, place them in a medium skillet and brown in butter over medium heat. Add almonds and sesame seeds. Stir often to prevent burning. Add half of Ramen seasoning mix and cool.

Make the dressing: In a small saucepan, heat vinegar, oil, sugar, remaining half Ramen season packet and soy sauce. Bring the mixture to a boil, let boil for 1 minute. Remove the pan from heat and let cool.

Combine dressing, crunchies, and cabbage immediately before serving. Serve right away or the crunchies will get soggy.


Friday, July 9, 2010

Sauteed Swiss Chard with Parmesan Cheese

This is only the second time I have cooked with Swiss chard. The last time it was creamed and amazing. This time I wanted something a little lighter. Overall, I am a fan of the chard. It is a substantial leafy green and holds up well to the "wilting process." It doesn't become what my husband calls "slimy." I wouldn't say that this dish is amazing, but I liked it. And I felt like I was eating some healthy greens.

Sauteed Swiss Chard with Parmesan Cheese

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 small red onion, diced
1 bunch Swiss chard, stems and center ribs cut out and chopped together, leaves coarsely chopped separately
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, or to taste
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
salt to taste (optional)

Melt butter and olive oil together in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in the garlic and onion, and cook for 30 seconds until fragrant. Add the chard stems and the white wine. Simmer until the stems begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in the chard leaves, and cook until wilted. Finally, stir in lemon juice and Parmesan cheese; season to taste with salt if needed.

Source: All Recipes

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Cuban Sandwiches

I was inspired by this Cuban sandwich that I had at The Deli in Queen Creek. It was soooooo good. So I found this recipe to try my own version. We took a few liberties: used bolili rolls, used good deli ham, used a pork roast, used regular olive oil and used a slow cooker to cook the roast. They were pretty awesome. Warm and crunchy, yum. Authentic enough for my taste.

Cuban Sandwiches

Cuban bread or (Substitute French bread if you must, but NOT a baguette!)

Butter, softened
1 pound ham sliced (Use a good quality ham.)
1 pound lechón asado (roasted Cuban pork) sliced (Follow the lechón asado link or see the following recipe)
1/2 pound Swiss cheese, sliced (Use a mild Swiss -- we like Baby Swiss -- it has only a few holes.)
Sliced dill pickles (dill "Sandwich Stackers" work great)
Yellow mustard (optional)
Mayonnaise (NEVER!!)

To make four generous sandwiches:

Preheat a pancake griddle or large fry pan. Cut the bread into sections about 8 inches long. Cut these in half and spread butter on both halves (inside). Make each sandwich with the ingredients in this order: pickles, roasted pork, ham, and cheese. Be generous!

NOTE: Most people use a sweet cured ham (jamón dulce) or bolo ham for Cuban sandwiches. If you can find these hams in your area, great. Otherwise, look for a slightly sweet, soft textured ham with a mild taste. You don't want the flavor of the ham to overpower the rest of the ingredients! Also, never use shaved ham or pork in a Cuban sandwich!

Place the sandwich on the hot griddle (fry pan) sprayed with a little "Pam" or lightly greased. Place a heavy iron skillet or bacon press on top of the sandwich to flatten. (You really want to smash the sandwich, compressing the bread to about 1/3 its original size!)

Grill the sandwiches for two to three minutes on each side, until the cheese is melted and the bread is golden. Make sure your griddle or fry pan is not TOO HOT! Otherwise, the crust will burn before the cheese melts. Slice the sandwich in half diagonally and serve.

Lechon Asado (Roast Pork)
One "fresh ham" with bone in (or have your butcher butterfly it for you!) and skin on.

You can also use a small pork roast with a good layer of fat on it. A pork shoulder is nice!

Mojo Marinade
20 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups sour orange juice
(If you can't get sour orange juice in your area, use two parts orange to one part lemon and one part lime)
1 cup minced onion
1 teaspoon oregano
1 1/2 cups Spanish olive oil Mash the garlic and salt together with a mortar and pestle.
Add dried oregano, onion, and the sour orange to the mash and mix thoroughly.

Heat oil in small sauce pan, add the mash to the oil and whisk. Pierce pork as many times as you can with a sharp knife or fork.

Pour garlic mixture (save a little for roasting) over pork, cover and let sit in refrigerator for 2-3 hours or overnight.

Place the pork fattest side up in an open roasting pan. Place pan in oven and reduce temperature to 325 degrees F. Spoon extra marinade over the roast occasionally as it cooks. Using a meat thermometer, roast should be removed from the oven when the temperature reaches 155 degrees F.
Immediately cover with foil and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving. The roast will continue to cook after you remove it from the heat. A perfectly cooked pork roast will be pale white in the middle and the juices will run clear.

Use a covered grill, such as the Webber kettle or a covered gas grill. Bank the coals to each side, leaving an empty space beneath your ham. If using a gas grill, use front and rear burners only. The idea is to cook with indirect heat.

Spoon extra marinade over the roast occasionally as it cooks. If not using a gas grill, add charcoal to the sides as needed to maintain roasting temperature. Using a meat thermometer, roast should be removed from the grill when the temperature reaches 155 degrees F.

Immediately cover with foil and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving. The roast will continue to cook after you remove it from the heat. A perfectly cooked pork roast will be pale white in the middle and the juices will run clear.

Place ham in a large Dutch oven, or a covered stock pan -- whatever you have that the pork will fit in. Add about one cup of marinade to the pan. Bring to a boil. Adjust the heat to low, cover and cook until completely done. Add additional marinade as needed to keep at least one inch of liquid in bottom of pan -- otherwise the roast will burn.

Serves: Servings based on the size of your ham. Allow about 1/4 to 1/2 pound per person, depending on side dishes

Source: Three Guys From Miami

Monday, July 5, 2010

Gnocchi with Chicken Sausage, Bell Pepper, and Fennel

Gnocchi are so good. Little pillowy dumplings. I have yet to make them from scratch, but you can find them at most grocery stores these days. They cook really quick--2 to 3 minutes in boiling water. The sausage can be any sausage you prefer. I think ours was Italian chicken sausage. We also skipped the fennel cause my husband doesn't like it. It wasn't missed. Pretty easy recipe and very good.

Gnocchi with Chicken Sausage, Bell Pepper, and Fennel

1 (16-ounce) package vacuum-packed gnocchi

2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
6 ounces basil, pine nut, and chicken sausage (such as Gerhard's), casing removed and sliced
1 cup thinly sliced fennel
1 cup thinly sliced red bell pepper
1 cup thinly sliced onion
1/2 cup (2 ounces) freshly grated Asiago cheese
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Cook the gnocchi according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain the gnocchi in a colander over a bowl, reserving 1/4 cup cooking liquid. Keep gnocchi warm.

Heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausage to pan; sauté 3 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring frequently. Remove sausage from skillet using a slotted spoon.

Heat remaining 1 teaspoon oil in pan. Add fennel, bell pepper, and onion to pan; cook 13 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Add sausage, gnocchi, cheese, black pepper, and reserved cooking liquid to pan; cook 1 minute or until cheese melts, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; stir in parsley.

Source: Cooking Light

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Man Hash Browns

Whenever we make hash browns from the frozen ones, they never turn out right. I think it may be partly due to the overcrowding of the pan. My husband followed this recipe exactly--except using olive oil instead of bacon fat-- and they were perfect. He even weighed the grated potato to get close to 4 ounces. Super yum and crispy. Thanks Alton Brown!

Man Hash Browns

4 ounces Idaho or Russet potatoes, scrubbed, rinsed but not peeled

Pinch kosher salt
1 tablespoon bacon fat (or olive oil)

Place a 10-inch cast iron skillet over medium low heat for 5 minutes.

While the pan is heating, grate the potato on the largest hole of a box grater. Squeeze the grated potatoes in a tea towel to remove excess moisture.

Add the fat to the pan and scatter evenly with the potatoes. Sprinkle with salt and cook for 5 minutes without disturbing. Decrease the heat to low, flip the potatoes, and cook for another 5 minutes. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Tuna Noodle Casserole

When most people think of tuna noodle casserole they imagine pasta noodles and things like crushed potato chips. My tuna noodle casserole is completely different. It's super easy, cheap and I think it tastes really good. It may not look pretty, but I grew up on this stuff and love it.

Tuna Noodle Casserole

1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can of milk (fill soup can)
2 cans tuna
1 bag chow mein noodles (the crunchy brown kind)

Mix first three ingredients in a large bowl. Add noodles until soaks up the excees liquid. May have to add some and wait a few minutes, then add some more. Microwave single servings for a few minutes. Top with extra noodles if desired.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Cashew Chicken

Another easy, healthy Asian dish. The sauce is good, but it needed more for the leftovers. Otherwise, no complaints. Tasty.

Cashew Chicken

1&1/2 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast
3 T soy sauce
1 T ginger, grated
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 carrots, shredded (2 cups)
1 bunch broccoli, cut into florets
1 small onion, chopped
1 cup chicken broth
1/3 cups cashews, toasted and chopped
3 cups quinoa or rice (used brown rice)

Combine chicken, soy sauce, ginger, and garlic in a shallow dish; cover and let marinate for at least 30 minutes up to 8 hours. Spray large wok or skillet with cooking spray and heat to medium-high heat. Add chicken and marinade and saute for 5 minutes or until tender. Remove chicken and set aside.

Add carrots, broccoli and onion to same skillet and saute for 5 minutes or until crips-tender. Add chicken back to pan and add broth. Cook 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add cashews and cook 2 more minutes or until thorouhly heated. Serve over quinoa or rice.

Source: Clean Eating magazine

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Chocolate-Covered Cherry Cake

This is from The Cake Doctor cookbook--which has recipes that start with cake mixes and then jazzes them up. So you can be a little lazy, but it still seems like you weren't. I thought this was very good. It was moist and very chocolatey. The only disappointment was that there wasn't enough cherry taste. Maybe you could add some kirsch or something. But as far as chocolate cakes go, it's yummy.

Chocolate-Covered Cherry Cake

1 package (18.25 ounces) plain devil's food cake mix or devil's food mix with pudding
1 can (21 ounces) cherry pie filling
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure almond extract
Chocolate Glaze:
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup whole milk
1 package (6 ounces; 1 cup) semisweet chocolate chips

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly mist a 13- by 9-inch baking pan with vegetable oil spray. Set the pan aside.

Place the cake mix, cherry pie filling, eggs, and almond extract in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed for 1 minute. Stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes more, scraping the sides down again if needed. The batter should look thick and well blended. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top with the rubber spatula. Place the pan in the oven.

Bake the cake until it springs back when lightly pressed with your finger and just starts to pull away from the sides of the pan, 30 to 35 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and place it on a wire rack while you prepare the glaze.

For the glaze, place the sugar, butter, and milk in a small saucepan over medium-low heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture comes to a boil. Boil, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the chocolate chips. When the chips have melted and the glaze is smooth, pour it over the warm cake so it covers the entire surface. The glaze will be thin but will firm up. Cool the cake for 20 minutes before cutting into squares and serving.

Store this cake, covered in aluminum foil, at room temperature for up to 5 days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Or freeze the cake, wrapped in foil, for up to 6months. Thaw the cake overnight on the counter before serving.

Source: Food Network