December 10, 2009

Chicken Pot Pie





I love love love Chicken Pot Pie!! It's definitely in my Top 5 comfort foods. I finally have a recipe that keeps the tastiness consistent. After all these years I'm comfortable enough to use it over and over making modifications here and there. My husband enjoys it a lot too! It takes very few ingredients and it's very easy. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

1 pkg Pillsbury Pie Crust (w/2 rolls)
1- 16 oz pkg frozen mixed veggies (carrots, peas, green beans, corn)
2 c cooked chicken or turkey (shredded or cubed)
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 1/2 c chicken broth (**add more in 1/2 cup increments as you need for the right consistency. You want it a little thick.)
1/4 heavy whipping cream (**this helps thicken it up but keep it creamy but I found you can use a little milk if you don't have cream on hand. I'd start with 1/3 c if you are using milk and add as you go.)

Preheat oven to 350. Roll out 1 of the dough rolls into a greased pie pan. Pat it down into the pan and up the sides. Bake for 10 minutes. While it cools, melt butter in skillet over medium-high heat. Add veggies and cook until warmed through. Then sprinkle flour into pan and stir to coat veggies. Add chicken broth slowly stirring to get flour mixed in to a nice sauce. Add chicken or turkey. Then add milk or cream to make it creamy. Add thyme and garlic powder. Then add salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for 5 minutes. Then pour into pie pan over baked dough. Top with remaining roll of dough and crimp edges all around. Cut slits all across top so steam gets released. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly. Serve in 6 hearty slices.

December 9, 2009

White Bean Chicken Chili


Warmth in a bowl! mmmm The cold has hit the Dallas area early this year. I think we're all still a little stunned. It's not very often that you get snow in December around these parts...let alone on the 2nd day of the month. Wow! If anyone is looking for me I'll be at home by the fire with hot cocoa in hand for the rest of the year. Brrrrr!

We had some good friends over Sunday for a crockpot meal. It is the perfect weather for crockpot meals. I love it! I've been trying to utilize mine as often as possible. It was delightful but not as much as our friend's adorable little girl (Kathryn). She's fun! It was good times crawling around on the floor with her. I apologize if I didn't pay much attention to you Pete & Pam. I still love you too! Come over anytime. But please bring the baby. ;p

















3 tbsp olive oil
2 medium onions, finely chopped
1 medium red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 medium green bell pepper, finely chopped
4 chipotle chiles in adobo, finely chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
8 c chicken broth
Four 6-inch corn tortillas, torn or cut into small pieces
Two 15-15 oz cans small white beans, drained and rinsed (I used Cannellini aka White Kidney Beans)
3 c cooked chicken or turkey
One 16 oz pkg frozen corn, defrosted
1/2 c finely chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
2 c finely shredded mild cheddar or monterey jack cheese for garnish
2 c sour cream for garnish

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions, bell peppers, chiles, cumin and oregano and saute until the vegetables are softened, 5-7 minutes.

Transfer the contents of the skillet to the insert of a 5-7 quart slow cooker. Add the broth, tortillas, beans, chicken and corn.

Cover the slow cooker and cook on low for 8-10 hours or high 4-5 hours, until the chili is thick and the beans and veggies are tender. Stir in the cilantro.

Serve each bowl garnished with cheese and sour cream. Serves 8. Enjoy!!

November 9, 2009

Chicken Artichoke with Capers
















I'm all about the crockpot meals especially for fall/winter season. This was actually in a healthy crockpot recipe book I bought recently. I'm posting with my own modifications so I hope you enjoy it as much as we did. Stephanie, you missed out on this awesome meal last week! But I'm sure I won't have any problem making it just for you soon. :-)

2 c chicken broth
1/2 c chopped onion (1 medium)
1/4 c dry white wine or chicken broth
1/4 capers, drained
2-3 tsp curry powder
1 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper
1 (8-9oz) pkg frozen artichoke hearts or you can use 1 (15oz) can, drained
2 1/2 lbs skinless, boneless breast halves and/or thighs
3 tbsp cornstarch
3 tbsp cold water

**Long grain white rice, cooked as directed on package

In a 4-5 quart slow cooker combine, 2 c broth, onion, wine, drained capers, curry powder, thyme, salt and pepper. Add artichoke hearts. Place chicken on top; spoon some of the artichoke mixture over the chicken.

Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 7-8 hours or on high-heat for 3 1/2-4 hours.

If using low-heat setting, turn to high-heat setting. In a small bowl stir together cornstarch and water; stir into artichoke mixture in slow cooker. Cover and cook for about 15 minutes more or until slightly thickened. **I served over steamed long-grain rice to make it a more complete meal.

October 28, 2009

Roasted Red Bell Pepper and Goat Cheese Frittata





Another weeknight meal that is quick and easy. We came across this in one of our Weight Watchers magazines. It sounded so good we had to try it. And yes it does taste as delicious as the picture looks!

WW Points: 4 (1 wedge)

2 large eggs
4 large egg whites
2 tbsp chopped chives
1/2 tsp salt, divided
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper, divided
4 tsp olive oil
1 c chopped roasted red bell peppers
4 green onions, chopped
1 tsp minced garlic or 2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 c (2 oz) crumbled goat cheese

Preheat broiler with rack in middle of oven.

Combine eggs, egg whites, chives, 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper in a bowl, stirring with a whisk or fork until combined.

Heat oil in an ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add red bell peppers, onions, garlic, 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper; saute 2 minutes. Pour egg mixture over vegetables. As mixture starts to cook, gently lift edges of frittata with a spatula and tilt pan so uncooked portion flows underneath. Cook 2 minutes; remove from heat.

Sprinkle cheese over frittata. Broil for 2 minutes or until frittata is set and lightly browned. Cut into 4 wedges. 1 wedge = 1 serving. Pair it with your favorite fruit for a light meal.

Amaretto Apple Streusel Muffins






Fall is my favorite time of year. Not only because it's cooler and you can snuggle up under a blanket with hot cocoa.. but the intoxicating smells that fill the house when you cook or bake.

Apples definitely remind me of Fall. So I jump at any chance I get to use them in a recipe. This is actually out of the Cooking Light magazine for October. It's a very easy recipe and no one knew they were healthy until I told them. I split one with my husband to try them out before I took them to work to share. We really enjoyed them!

1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 c granulated sugar
1/4 c(2 oz) fat free cream cheese, softened
1/4 c butter, softened
2 tbsp amaretto (almond-flavored liqueur)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg
1/2 c light sour cream
1 medium Gala apple, finely chopped
1 tbsp all-purpose flour

Streusel:
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 tbsp brown sugar
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp butter, chilled
2 tbsp sliced almonds, optional

Glaze:
1 c powdered sugar
4 tsp reduced fat milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place muffin cup liners in 12 muffin cups; coat with cooking spray. Combing 1 1/2 c of flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda in a small bowl with a whisk.

Combine granulated sugar, cream cheese, and 1/4 c butter in a large bowl at high speed until well blended. Add amaretto, vanilla and egg to sugar mixture; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended. In a separate small bowl, combine sour cream and 1/4 c milk. Stir with a whisk until well blended. Add 1 tablespoon of flour with apple in a small bowl; toss well until coated.

Add flour mixture and sour cream mixture alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat just until blended. Fold in the apple mixture. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups.

To prepare the streusel, combine 2 tablespoons flour, brown sugar and ground cinnamon in a small bowl. Cut in 2 tablespoons butter with a pastry blender or 2 forks until mixture resembles coarse meal; stir in almonds if you choose. Sprinkle streusel evenly over muffins. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 15 minutes on a wire rack, and remove the muffins from the pan.

To prepare glaze, combine powdered sugar and 4 teaspoons of milk in a small bowl or measuring cup stirring with a fork or whisk. Drizzle glaze over muffins. Makes 12 muffins.

September 13, 2009

Spinach Spuds















Another amazingly tasty recipe from Food Network Magazine. I used pancetta instead of ham. Leave out the meat if you wish to have a filling vegetarian dish.

4 large russet potatoes
4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus some for brushing
2 tbs all-purpose flour
2 c milk
1 bunch spinach, roughly chopped
3 oz. pancetta, chopped
pinch of cayenne pepper
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
kosher salt
4 oz gruyere or gouda cheese, finely shredded (about 1 1/4 cups) (I used smoke gouda)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Pierce the potatoes with a fork; microwave for 15 minutes. Remove and brush with olive oil; transfer to the oven rack and bake until fully tender, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Cook the pancetta until browned. Remove from pan into a bowl and leave fat from pancetta in pan. Stir in the flour with a wooden spoon and cook until slightly toasted, about 2 minutes. Whisk in the milk and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, whisking occasionally, until the sauce begins to thicken, about 6 minutes. Stir in the spinach and pancetta and cook until the green swilt and the mixture is about as this as sour cream, 3-4 more minutes. Season with the cayenne and nutmeg and add salt to taste.

Slice the cooked potatoes lenghwise down the middle (but not all the way through); press in on the ends to open the slit. Drizzle 1/2 tablespoon oil into each potato; fluff the flesh with a fork and season with salt. Divide the spinach mixture among the potatoes and top with the shredded cheese while still hot.

September 3, 2009

Artichoke Au Gratin Salad
















For those of you who cook or hell if you just love food, you should definitely subscribe to the Food Network Magazine. Your family, friends and taste buds will appreciate it! There are so many recipes and pretty pictures along with coupons and interesting tidbits about food. My first issue was for August/September and I found this simple recipe inside by Sandra Lee (Semi-Homemade) and it is an appetizer. I made it for a light dinner and it was perfect!

4 tbsp plain or seasoned breadcrumbs
1-12oz jar or can of artichoke bottoms, drained and patted dry
1 1/2 tsp grated parmesan cheese
1/4 lb soft sheep's milk cheese or brie, rind removed, sliced
1 c mixed salad greens
2 tbsp balsamic vinaigrette
Extra virgin olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush a 9-inch square baking dish with olive oil and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons breadcrumbs. Place the artichokes cup-side up on the breadcrumbs and brush or drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon breadcrumbs and the parmesan.

Bake for 15 minutes; remove from the oven and preheat the broiler. Divide the sheep's milk cheese or brie among the artichokes; sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon breadcrumbs. Broil until cheese starts to bubble and the topping browns, 3-4 minutes. Toss the salad greens with the balsamic vinaigrette, pinch of salt and pepper in a bowl. Serve the artichokes on top of the greens.

August 19, 2009

Peanut Butter Banana Bread















I was in the mood to bake this weekend. My husband loves peanut butter and I love the combination of peanut butter and bananas together. So I found this recipe with the best of both worlds. I added cinnamon to bring out a better flavor. I didn't think to put it in and it felt like it was missing something. So that is my suggestion that I added to the recipe below.

1/3 c butter
4 tbsp creamy peanut butter
3 large ripe bananas, mashed
3/4 c sugar
1/4 c brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 c flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare one loaf pan by coating with butter or cooking spray.

Place butter and peanut butter in a large microwavable safe bowl and microwave until melted (about 1 minute). Add the mashed bananas and stir together with a spoon until combined. Add both sugars, beaten egg, vanilla and stir to incorporate all ingredients. Then add flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. Stir just enough to combine but be sure not to over mix.

Pour into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for 50 minutes and test by sticking the center with toothpick or knife to see if it comes out clean. If not, cook in 5 minute intervals until done.

August 18, 2009

Shower of Cakes














A friend at work has enjoyed my baked goods so much that she asked if I could make something for her sister's bridal shower. We went back and forth for a couple of weeks on ideas for desserts and flavors and finally early the week of the event she asked if I could make 3, 9-inch layered round cakes. I told her SURE! She wanted vanilla with vanilla frosting, chocolate with chocolate frosting and strawberry with strawberry frosting. It sounded easy enough. I went on a search for recipes to use and found the ones to use for all three and of course added my own flair to them. The process of making the cakes and frostings went really smooth. I only had one frosting not turn out and I had to redo it. Otherwise, everything went really well. I started right after work around 6:30 and finished everything around 11:30ish. I was really proud of how they turned out. I tasted the scraps of the cakes and the frosting and they seemed to be flavorful enough to me. She confirmed the following Monday at work that they were a hit and really moist. I was glad to hear it!


August 5, 2009

Mexi-Chick Casserole


We happened to have all the ingredients for this recipe on hand. It was so creamy and delicious. The preparation and cooking didn't take too long either so it was great for a weeknight meal.

1 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts (boiled)
1 c chicken broth
2 tsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter
1 c chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 c milk (evaporated works fine)
1 c shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1/4 c cream cheese
1 can (10oz) green chile enchilada sauce
12 (6-inch) corn tortillas
1/2 c shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese
6 tortilla chips, crushed
salt and pepper to taste

Boil the chicken in a medium sauce pan until done (about 10 minutes). Remove chicken from pan and set aside to cool. You can also use already roasted chicken from your grocery store. It would definitely add more flavor. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic, saute 3 minutes or until soft. Add broth, milk, Monterrey Jack, cream cheese, and enchilada sauce. Stir well until cheeses are melted. Add salt and pepper to taste. While mixture simmers on low, shred chicken with fork or fingers. Add chicken to pan and stir to combine. Turn off heat.

Spray 2-qt casserole pan with cooking spray. Place 4 tortillas in the bottom. Spoon about 2 cups of chicken mixture over tortillas. Repeat layers twice, ending with chicken mixture on top. Then sprinkle sharp cheddar cheese and crushed tortilla chips. Bake for about 30 minutes or until melty and bubbly. Serve with salsa on top to add a little heat.

August 4, 2009

Mocha Brownies



I had a chocolate craving the other day and decided to whip up a quick batch of brownies. I didn't want them too sweet so I put less sugar than normal and added a little instant coffee. I must say that was a good move as they turned out just perfect.

4oz unsweetened chocolate (4 squares if using baking chocolate)
3/4 c butter (1 1/2 sticks)
1 1/2 c sugar
2 tsp instant coffee granules
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 c flour

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Use butter or cooking spray and grease up a 9x13 baking pan. I used a glass pan. (If you use a dark pan, oven should be at 350 degrees.)

Microwave chocolate and butter in large microwave-safe bowl stirring every 60 seconds until melted. (About 2 minutes) Stir until chocolate is completely melted.

Stir in sugar into chocolate. Mix in vanilla and coffee granules. (Test to see if it has the flavor you want and add more coffee in tsp increments as needed.) Then add eggs one at a time until each one is incorporated into mixture. Stir in flour. Spread in greased pan.

Bake at 25-30 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Cool in pan; cut into squares. Makes 24 brownies.

July 16, 2009

Pasta with Creamy Roasted Red Pepper Sauce




I whipped up this easy and tasty dish tonight. My friend Steph came over to join us for dinner, drinks and adult conversation. I haven't cooked much in the past week as I've been lazy. So this recipe is dedicated to Steph for giving me a reason to cook something. It actually turned out to be really good so I'm proud of myself for making it up as I go and with things I already had on hand.

The most time-consuming thing was the roasted chicken but I roasted it the night before when I got home from work. But if you don't have the time to do it yourself you can always pick one up at the store that is already done. And when you've picked the carcass clean of most of the meat, don't forget to save it and make something delicious like chicken noodle soup or dumplings within the next day or so.

2-3 lb roasted chicken
1 lb pasta of your choice (I used Campanelle)
1/2 c vodka
1 1/2 c heaving whipping cream
4 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 c chicken broth
2 roasted red bell peppers
1 medium onion, diced
3 garlic cloves
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried parsley
cornstarch, optional (to thicken sauce as needed)
salt and pepper to taste

Heat skillet to medium-high with 1 tbsp olive oil and 4 tbsp butter. Dice onion and add to skillet. Saute until transluscent. About 5-6 minutes. In food processor, puree red peppers and garlic. Add to skillet with onion. Bring to a boil. Add chicken broth and vodka and bring to a boil again.

In a large pot, cook pasta as directed on package.

Add basil, parsley, salt and pepper to taste to skillet. Turn heat down to medium-low. Then add heavy cream and let simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring ocassionally. Taste again and add more salt pepper as needed. If you need to thicken sauce, whick in 1 tbsp of cornstarch to the sauce. Simmer for about 2-3 more minutes. Then add cooked chicken and pasta and heat through. (about 5 more minutes) Serve and enjoy!!

July 13, 2009

Summer Squash Soup















We wanted to make a meal using a few fresh vegetables. I found a delicious summer squash soup that turned out to be quite refreshing and tasty. It's very simple and actually a Cooking Light recipe so it's even healthy.


6 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth

3 cups water
2 1/4 cups uncooked farfalle (about 6 ounces bow tie pasta)
2 cups finely chopped yellow squash
2 cups finely chopped zucchini
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil

Bring broth and water to a boil in a Dutch oven. Add pasta, and cook 8 minutes or until almost tender. Add squash and the next 7 ingredients (through pepper). Reduce heat, and simmer 4 minutes or until pasta is done and squash is tender. Sprinkle with cheese and basil.

July 8, 2009

Penne with Braised Short Ribs




My husband is a freaking genius when it comes to picking recipes that hit the spot. I came home from work and he had this wonderful meal waiting on me. The smell hit me when I walked through the door and hunger immediately kicked in. It was an interesting combo. His favorite chef is Giada De Laurentiis. So he cooks a lot of her recipes. This is the Penne with Short Ribs on the food network site.


4 pounds beef short ribs
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 c olive oil
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
5 Roma tomatoes, cut into eighths
1 cup red wine, such as Cabernet Sauvignon
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 c low-sodium beef broth
1 pound penne pasta
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Place an oven rack in the lower 1/3 of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Season the ribs with salt and pepper. In a large heavy-bottomed Dutch oven or ovenproof stock pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. In batches, add the ribs and brown on all sides, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove the ribs and set aside. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, wine and mustard. Bring the mixture to a boil and scrape up the brown bits that cling to the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Return the ribs to the pan. Add the beef broth, cover the pan and place in the oven for 2 1/2 hours until the meat is fork-tender and falls easily from the bone.

Remove the ribs from the cooking liquid. Using a large spoon, remove any excess fat from the surface of the cooking liquid. Using a ladle, transfer the cooking liquid in the bowl of a food processor. Process until the mixture is smooth. Pour the sauce into a saucepan and keep warm over low heat. Remove the meat from the bones. Discard the bones. Using 2 forks, shred the meat into small pieces. Stir the shredded meat into the sauce. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain the pasta and place in a large serving bowl. Using a slotted spoon, remove the meat from the sauce and add to the pasta. Pour 1 cup of the sauce over the pasta. Toss well and thin out the pasta with more sauce, if needed. Sprinkle the pasta with Parmesan cheese and chopped parsley before serving.

July 6, 2009

Peanut Butter Pie















My sweet husband put in a special request for his birthday. He chooses pie over cake any day. He loves peanut butter so this recipe was perfect for him. Thanks to Pioneer Woman for this delicious and simple recipe! I added a little extra peanut butter to make sure it hit the spot. She used 1 cup and I added an extra 1/2 cup for an extra boost of peanut butter. I hope you had a great birthday handsome hubby!

CRUST:

25 Oreos
4 tbsp butter, melted

In a food processor or the old fashioned way of just beating the cookies to crumbs, crush into fine crumbs. Pour melted butter over the top and stir with a fork to combine. Press into pie pan and bake at 350 degrees for 5 to 7 minutes, or until set.

Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.

FILLING:

1 1/2 c creamy peanut butter
1 8-oz pkg cream cheese, softened (room temperature)
1 1/4 c powdered sugar
1 tub Cool Whip, thawed

Beat the peanut butter with the cream cheese until smooth. Add powdered sugar and beat until smooth. Add in the thawed Cool Whip and beat mixture until smooth, scraping the sides as needed. Pour filling into crust, evening out the top with a knife or spatula. Chill for at least an hour before serving.

July 5, 2009

Creamy Mushrooms and Snap Peas over Chicken













I found an easy and semi-healthy meal in the Food Network Magazine from June/July. The end result was delicious. The snap peas really add a lot to this dish. I must tell you that if you love cooking or just looking at pictures of food this magazine is amazing. You should definitely subscribe or pick it up next time you go to the store. There are so many recipes and pictures! I just got my August/September edition on Friday and have even more recipes to that I plan to try soon. The foil packet grilling ideas are next on my list for sure.

4 chicken breasts
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp unsalted butter
8 oz mushrooms (any variety will work, I used baby bella)
1 1/4 c low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 c heavy cream
2 c sugar snap peas, stemmed and halved lenghwise
kosher salt
ground pepper
all-purpose flour, for dredging

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Add 1 tbsp of oil to the skillet. Dredge 2 chicken breasts in flour and shake off any excess and place in the skillet. Cook until golden about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to plate and cover to keep warm. Repeat with remaining 1 tbsp of oil and remaining 2 chicken breasts. Cover and keep warm with other cooked chicken while you cook the vegetables.

Add the butter to the hot skillet, then add the mushrooms; cook, stirring occasionally until the mushrooms brown; about 4 minutes. Pour in the broth and bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits with a wooden spoon. Cook until the liquid is reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Add the cream and boil until the sauce thickens slightly; about 3-4 minutes. Stir in the snap peas and heat through. Season with salt and pepper. Place the chicken breasts over the top and simmer for about 4 more minutes. Enjoy!

June 14, 2009

Carnitas and Margaritas















It was too hot to get out so we decided to stay in and make Carnitas and Margaritas. Oh my goodness!! I fell in love with my husband all over again. Over MEAT!! LOL This is a very simple recipe but you wouldn't think so by how good it tastes. There are a lot of dishes out there that take extra time to prepare due to so many steps in order for something to turn out perfect. This takes some time but not many steps. Put it on while you go run some errands, clean the house or just lay around and watch tv while drooling. I promise, you WILL salivate while this is cooking as the smell fills your house. It's worth the wait. The Van Doren Margarita recipe is below after the Carnita recipe.

(1) 4-5 lb bone-in pork shoulder (Boston butt)
kosher salt

3 c chicken broth or water
(or half of each)
1 white or yellow onion, quartered

1 tbsp dried oregano leaves

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp paprika


An hour before you start cooking, remove the meat from the fridge, rinse and pat dry with paper towels. Sprinkle with salt. Let it sit.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place pork in a 5-7 quart Dutch oven and add the broth, onion, oregano, cumin and paprika. We used half broth, half water. Add generous pinch of salt. Place over high heat, cover and bring to a boil. Spoon some of the hot liquid over hte top of the meat, then cover again and transfer to oven. Cook until meat is literally falling apart, about 4 hours, spooning liquid over meat once or twice during cooking.

Remove pot from oven and place on stove top. Transfer meat to a platter. With a large sppon, push meat off the bone in chunks; discard bone and any large pieces of fat. Put meat back in pot and turn on heat to medium-high heat; cook, stirring to break it up with a sppon, until liquid in pot has almost entirely evaporated and meat begins to sizzle, 5-10 minutes. Ready to serve.

We served on warm tortillas with shredded Monterrey jack cheese and dollop of sour cream. Just the meat by itself would be great on a bun. Other options: Use as filling in enchiladas or tamales or add your favorite BBQ sauce and serve on a bun.



VAN DOREN MARGARITA'S

2 c tequila
1 c sweetened lime juice
1/2 c triple sec

Pour all ingredients into a pitcher. Stir together. You can take a sip and add more of what you need to suit your taste. Serve over ice in salted margarita glasses with a lime. Makes 2 servings. Enjoy!!

June 9, 2009

Strawberry Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

















HAPPY BIRTHDAY TI
FMO!!


I whipped up some strawberry cupcakes with cream cheese frosting for TifMo (friend at work). I didn't realize that I haven't actually made homemade strawberry cake or cupcakes before. The thought of fresh strawberries made my mouth water so I had to try it. I love when you try a new recipe and it turns out great the first time around. Disasters are no bueno, especially late at night when you're ready to go to bed. I've got my cream cheese frosting down. It's always delicious when I make it. Not too sweet and you can taste the cream cheesey-ness! Yum!














HOMEMADE STRAWBERRY CUPCAKES
- makes 36 cupcakes

3 c self-rising flour
2 c granulated sugar
3/4 c vegetable oil
1 1/2 c pureed strawberries (I used about 2 cups or one 16 oz. container of fresh strawberries)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp lemon zest
4 large eggs, beaten
red food coloring, optional

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Put cupcake liners in cupcake pans and set aside. Hull strawberries to remove stems. Rinse with water and pat dry with paper towels. Then pulse in food processor until pureed. I like small chunks mine.

In a large bowl add flour, sugar, oil, pureed strawberries, vanilla, lemon zest and eggs. Stir all together with a wooden spoon until combined. If you wish, add red food coloring to give it a little more pink color. I added 5 drops.

Divide batter evenly in each cupcake liner. I used 2 cookie scoops of batter in each. They barely rose above the liner so I would add an extra 1/2 cookie scoop of batter in each if you like them to mound up a little.

Bake for 20 minutes and check with toothpick to see if center is done. If not, put back in and check in 2 minute intervals until toothpick comes out clean.

Put pans on wire rack to cool for about 5 minutes. Remove from pans directly onto wire rack to cool completely while you make the frosting.

CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

8 oz pkg cream cheese frosting, softened
1 stick of butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
Approx 3 cups powdered sugar

Beat cream cheese and butter together until smooth. Slowly add the powdered sugar in 1 cup batches until desired sweetness. I used 2 1/4 cups for mine. Stir in vanilla.

Curry Chicken Pouches

I didn't really feel like cooking when I got home from work so I rummaged through the fridge and pantry to see what we had on hand. We normally have a menu planned out and I just wanted to be spontaneous and throw something together that was quick. I had crescent rolls on hand. Those are always good from some sort of pocket of goodness so I went with it. It doesn't take many ingredients to make something delicious. See my Greek Pocket recipe for another tasty idea.



1 can crescent rolls
1 1/2 c (1/2 of 16oz bag) frozen mixed vegetable (peas, carrots, green beans)
1 tbsp vegetable oil
3 tbsp butter
1 small onion
1 c chopped celery
1 1/2 c chicken broth
1/2 c milk
3 tbsp flour
1 tsp curry powder
2 tbsp dried parsley
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground pepper
2 c cubed cooked chicken (roasted chicken tastes the best but you can use the cubes or strips from the deli meat section)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Toss vegetables with oil and spread evenly onto a sheet pan. Place in oven and cook until golden brown.

In a saute pan heat 1 tbsp of butter and sweat the onion and celery Add 2 more tbsp butter to the onion and celery mix and cook out the water. Add the flour and curry powder and cook for about a minute until flour soaks up all the remaining moisture. Whisk in the milk and broth and cook until thickened. Then add the parsley, salt and pepper. Stir in the browned vegetables and chicken.

Using same sheet pan used for vegetables, place the crescent rolls in rectangles on to pan spread out from each other. There will be 4 rectangles. Push the perforations out so there aren't holes. Place about 2-3 tbsp of filling in the center of each rectangle. Fold sides over and seal ends so the filling doesn't spill out.

Bake for 10 minutes. Then increase oven temperature to 350 degrees and cook for 5 more minutes or until golden brown.

May 19, 2009

Bacon Tomato Penne




Chris had this ready for me one night when I got home from work. I really enjoyed it! It's even a Weight Watchers recipe. It sure doesn't take like it.

WW Points: 5/serving
Serving size 1 cup

2 cups uncooked penne
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 c fat-free or skim milk
4 center-cut bacon slices
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup (4 oz) shredded Gruyere cheese
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 c fresh basil
1/2 pkg (6 oz) fresh baby spinach (about 3 cups packed)
1 pint grape tomatoes
3 tbsp shredded parmesan cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and keep warm. While pasta is cooking, place flour in a small bowl, and gradually add milk, stirring with a whisk until well blended.

Cook bacon in a medium saucepan over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan, reserving 1 tsp drippings in pan; crumble bacon and set aside. Add garlic to pan; saute 30 seconds. Add milk mixture and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally (about 4 minutes or until think). Remove pan from heat; add Gruyere cheese, salt and pepper stirring until cheese melts.

Combine pasta, cheese sauce, bacon, basil, spinach and tomatoes in a large serving bowl. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.

April 28, 2009

Asian-Style Short Ribs with Lacquered Carrots




We invited a couple and their 3-month old baby girl over for dinner. Chris is really good about picking out delicious recipes to show off when we have friends eat with us. This was definitely no different! If you are pulling your hair out, trying to figure out what to make for your next dinner party or small get together at your house... TRY THIS RECIPE!! I promise you that everyone will love it and think you are a genius. It is a lot of work but it's sooo worth it.

**Keep in mind that this really should be prepared the day before. If you chill overnight, the fat can be lifted right off the sauce.

6 short ribs on the bone, about 3 lbs total, trimmed of excess fat
1 1/2 c orange juice
1/2 c low-sodium soy sauce
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 bunches baby carrots or 1 1/2 cups bagged mini carrots

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Rinse the short ribs and pat dry with paper towels. Sprinkle with salt. Coat the bottom of a 5-7 quart Dutch oven with a thin film of vegetable oil and set pot over medium-high heat. When oil shimmers, add enough short ribs to cover the bottom in 1 layer. Cook, without stirring, until short ribs lift easily from pot with tongs and are well browned on bottom, about 5 minutes. Turn and brown on the other side, about 5 minutes more. Transfer to a plate and continue with remaining short ribs, adding more oil to pot in between batches as needed.

Meanwhile, stir together the orange juice, soy, sugar, and red pepper flakes. Set aside.

When the last batch of short ribs has been removed from pot, drain off all but 1 tablespoon of fat and add the onion. Cook, stirring, until onion is softened, about 2 minutes. Add the ginger and garlic and stir 1 minute more until fragrant. Pour in orange juice mixture, let come to a boil, then put short ribs back in pot 1 at a time, bone side up; don't worry if you have to snuggle them a little bit.

Cover pot and transfer to the oven. Cook until meat peels easily away from bone when prodded with a fork, 1 1/2 - 2 hours. Remove from oven and transfer meat and bones to a plate. (The recipe can be made ahead to this point; let cool to room temperature and place short ribs and sauce in separate containers and store, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.)

If serving dish right away, cover meat with foil to keep warm. Tilt pot to 1 side and spoon off as much fat as possible from sauce. Place pot over high heat and add the carrots and 1 cup of water; bring to a boil. (If made ahead, lift and remove solidified fat from top of sauce. Put sauce in a wide, deep pan, add carrots and water and continue as directed.) Reduce heat slightly and cook, uncovered, at a steady simmer until sauce is reduced by about half and carrots are just tender, 12-15 minutes. Return meat briefly to pan to rewarm, then serve. (If reheating meat, cover pan and heat in sauce for about 10-minutes more.) Serve with white or brown rice.
Serves 4-6.

Creamy Coconut Shrimp















Oh. My. God. This dish was an unexpected surprise of flavors! It's very colorful as well. I am a HUGE fan of curry! The coconut milk doesn't hurt either. ;p I'm not usually into seafood unless it's fried or swimming in some sort of garlic butter sauce. But this was fantastic! Another plus is that it's so easy and quick that you can whip it up when you get home from a long day at the office.



WW Points: 6

1 c uncooked long grain-rice
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 c green onion, chopped
1 tbsp grated, peeled fresh ginger
1 1/2 tsp curry powder
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1 (13.5oz) can light coconut milk
1/2 tsp salt
1 lime, quartered
1 lb medium shrimp, peeled and deveined

Cook rice according to the package directions.

While rice is cooking, heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add bell pepper, ginger, green onions and curry; saute 2 minutes. Add coconut milk, shrimp and salt. Cook stirring occasionally for about 7-8 minutes or until shrimp are done. (do not boil) Place 3/4 cup rice in bowls and spoon shrimp mixture evenly over rice. Squeeze 1 lime quarter over each serving.

April 26, 2009

Lemon Caper Pork















This reminds me a lot of Lemon Chicken but with Pork. We both loved it!!

WW Points: 4

1 lb pork tenderloin or boneless chops, trimmed of fat
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil
3/4 c fat-free, less sodium chicken broth
3 tbsp capers
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 lemon, thinly sliced

If using tenderloin, cut into 8 slices, place pork slices between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and pound to a 1/4 inch thickness. Sprinkle pork with pepper and salt. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add pork and cook 2 minutes on each side or until browned.

Add broth and remaining ingredients to the pan; bring to a boil. Cook 2-3 minutes until liquid is reduced by half. Transfer pork to a serving platter. Spoon sauce and lemon slices, if desired over pork. Serve over a bed of whole wheat thin spaghetti or linguine for a complete meal.

Garlic Soy Pork Chops















This is one of our favorite quick dinners. The pork is so full of flavor and very simple to make. Marinate it overnight and it will be more tender and flavorful. The thinner the pork, the better. We like to use the breakfast chops.

1 lb boneless pork chops (4-6)
1 tbsp dijon mustard
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp minced garlic
1/4 tsp pepper

In a glass dish, mix the dijon, soy sauce, garlic and pepper. I use a 9-inch glass square baking dish. Place pork chops in a single layer in dish and coat both sides with mixture. Cover dish with saran wrap and refrigerate from 1 hour to overnight.

Place aluminum foil on baking sheet and put a wire rack over pan. Spray with cooking spray. Move oven rack to the top closest to broiler. Preheat broiler to high heat while you put pork chops on wire rack and baking sheet. Place in oven for 4-6 minutes. Turn pork over and broil another 4-6 minutes or until browned. Serve with your favorite vegetable or wild rice.

April 15, 2009

April Update

April has been a very busy month so far. And we're already halfway through it. Working late, home remodeling, chores, getting over a bad cold, sleepiness, laziness... these are all the things that have kept me from sharing delicious food with you. I do have a few recipes and pictures to share soon. I just need to find time to upload the pictures and to write the posts. I'll work on it as soon as I can. My wonderful husband made me a unforgettable birthday meal that I am very anxious to share. I am STILL drooling. Stay tuned for Chicken Curry & Caramel Espresso Bars!!

March 28, 2009

Homemade Pretzels














Today was a cold and very windy day. It was perfect weather for staying in and baking something new. Chris has been begging me for a few weeks to make homemade pretzels. Plus I haven't used my dough hook on my new mixer yet so it was the perfect reason to try this out. I used an Alton Brown recipe from Food Network. They turned out so great. I'll definitely try this again soon. This was our appetizer and Chris made a tasty chili. I'll post pics and recipe of that next.

















1 1/2 cups warm water (110-115 degrees)
1 tbsp sugar
2 tsp kosher salt
1 pkg active dry yeast (I used the fast acting yeast)
22 oz all-purpose flour
2 oz unsalted butter, melted
10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda
1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tbsp water
Pretzel salt (I used Kosher and it worked fine)
Vegetable Oil

Combine water, sugar and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and stir until dissolved. Then sprinkle the yeast on top. Allow to sit for 5 minutes or until the mixture begins to foam. (*If it doesn't foam or starts to settle to the bottom, start over with warmer water or maybe your yeast was old.) Add flour and butter and using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until well combines. Then change to medium speed and let it knead the dough until it's smooth and starts to pull away from the side of the bowl, approximately 4-5 minutes. Remove the dough from the bowl, clean the bowl and then oil it well with vegetable oil. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and sit in warm place for about 30 minutes if you are using the fast active yeast; if not, 50-55 minutes. While the oven is preheating, you can sit it on the stove near the warmth.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and lightly brush with vegetable oil. Set aside.

Bring 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling oil in a large pot.

In the meantime, turn the dough out onto a lightly oiled work surface or countertop. Divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a 24-inch rope. Make a U-shape with the rope, holding the ends cross them over each other and press onto the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel. Place onto the parchment lined pans.

Place the pretzels into the boiling water, 1 by 1 for 30 seconds each. Remove them from the water using a large slotted spoon or spatula. Return to the pan and brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg and water. Then sprinkle with the pretzel or kosher salt. Bake until dark golden brown in color. About 12-14 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving. Serve with your favorite mustard. Makes 8 large pretzels.

March 22, 2009

Cajun Chicken Wings & Corn on the Cob

It's that time of year again to cook everything on the grill. I love the smell of food cooking on the grill. Sunday evening was the perfect day for grilling. We have this cookbook we haven't tried many recipes out of yet. (Barbecues, Grills & Outdoor Eating) I'm sad we've waited this long but it definitely won't be the last one. Note: You will need a roll of paper towels on hand as this can get a little messy. But it's soooo worth it. You'll thank me for this one!!














8 chicken pieces (drumsticks, thighs or wings) - we used wings
2 ears of fresh corn
2 tsp garlic salt
2 tsp pepper
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp paprika
1 tsp cayenne pepper
3 tbsp melted butter

Trim any excess fat from the chicken, but leave the skin in place. Slash the thickest parts with a knife, to allow the flavors to penetrate the meat as much as possible.

Pull the husks and silks off the ears of corn, then rinse them under cold running water and pat them dry with paper towels. Break them in half or small pieces.

Mix all the spices together. Brush the chicken and corn with the melted butter. Sprinkle the spices over them and toss well to coat evenly.

Cook the chicken pieces on a medium-hot grill for about 15 minutes, turning occasionally. Then add the corn and cook the chicken & corn for about 15 minutes more, turning often. Enjoy with a frosty beer!!

March 21, 2009

Roasted Chicken Thighs & Potatoes

I am not sure where I found this recipe but after weeks of staring at it in my files and salivating, I decided to whip it together Friday night after I got home from work. It didn't take long at all and it was a very tasty dish. There are so many delicious flavors in this. It reminded me of Lemon Chicken a bit with the tartness from the lemon and artichokes. So if you love Lemon Chicken, you'll enjoy this dish. I didn't get a picture as I totally forgot to snap a few before devouring it for dinner and lunch Saturday.

Olive Oil
sea salt and fresh ground pepper (you can use Kosher as well)
dried basil
5-6 boneless, skinless, chicken thighs, trimmed of fat
15 oz can of artichoke hearts, quartered, drained
15 petite or fingerling potatoes, sliced in half lengthwise
2 cloves of garlic, sliced into slivers
2 lemons (zest of one lemon and the juice and the other sliced thinly)
2 tbsp chicken broth
1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped (garnish)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Heat a pot of water over high heat until boiling. Add sliced potatoes to the pot and boil for 6 minutes. Drain then add garlic, lemon zest, lemon slices, artichokes and 1 tbsp of olive oil to the pot with the potatoes. Season with sea salt and pepper to taste, just use your judgement on how much. Set aside.

Season the trimmed chicken thighs with sea salt, pepper and dried basil. About a tsp of dried basil is a good starting point. If you feel it needs more, go ahead. It couldn't hurt! Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in an OVEN PROOF SKILLET over medium high heat. Once it's ready add the chicken thighs and cook 3-4 minutes or until golden brown. Turn the chicken over and remove from heat. Add the potato and artichoke mixture to the pan. Place the skillet in the oven to roast for 15 minutes.

Mix 1 tbsp of olive oil, juice of one lemon and 2 tbsp of chicken broth in a small bowl. Season with dried basil, sea salt and pepper.

Remove skillet from oven and pour the lemon juice mix over the top of everything. Let stand for 4 minutes before cutting.

March Cookie Madness




We're going to a BBQ today to watch the basketball games, drink and eat delicious food. I asked if there were specific cookies he wanted and the host requested Chocolate Chip Pecan. I'm not one to eat cookies with nuts but I don't mind making them for a friend. And I have to admit, I did give in and try one after being tempted by the chocolate-nutty smell that filled my house. They were really good! I may have to rethink the whole nut thing. I also made Oatmeal as they are my all time fave. I've provided both recipes and pictures.


Chocolate Chip Pecan Cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 1/4 cup flour
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used the mini chips)

Preheat oven to 375.

Beat butter, sugars and vanilla until creamy. Add eggs, beating well after each one. Gradually beat in the flour, baking soda and salt. Stir in the chocolate and nuts. Use a cookie scoop or spoon and make rounds on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 9-11 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Cool in pan for 2 minutes then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.
Makes about 3 1/2 dozen.















Oatmeal Cookies


1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups flour
3 cups Quaker Oats (quick or old fashioned work)

options: 1 cup raisins, 1 cup chocolate chips, 1/2 cup nuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Beat butter and sugars until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla; beat well. Add flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; mix well. Stir in oats and any other optional ingredients if you choose. (nuts, chocolate chips, raisins). Use cookie scoop or spoon to drop rounds onto ungreased cookies sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Cool 1 minute on pan and transfer to wire rack to cool completely. Makes about 4 dozen.

March 1, 2009

Oreo Brownies


My husband loves to send me links of things I should try out as far as baking or cooking. It usually means, "Hey babe, I think these look delicious. Can you please make these for ME?". I didn't mind trying these out as I was definitely in the mood for some chocolate, which doesn't happen very often at all. I know.. weird. I made them last Sunday and shared a few with a couple of friends that came over to watch the Oscars with us. I took the rest to co-workers who devoured them in no time. A couple of people warmed them up in the microwave for just a few seconds and said they were so delicious warm. The smell of them warmed up was amazing!!



2 sticks of butter (1 cup)
3 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
3 eggs
1 1/2 tbsp instant coffee granules
1 tbsp vanilla
1 cup + 2 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup +2 tbsp flour
1/2 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups chopped Oreo cookies (25 cookies)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9"x13" baking pan.

In a heatproof medium bowl, microwave butter, chocolate chips and unsweetened chocolate until melted and smooth. About 2-3 minutes, stirring every minute. Allow to cool slightly.

In a large bowl, whisk eggs, coffee, vanilla and sugar. Blend the chocolate mixture into egg mixture; cool to room temperature.

In a medium bow, sift together 1/2 cup flour, baking powder and salt. Add flour mixture to chocolate mixture. In a small bowl, stir Oreos and remaining 2 tbsp of flour. Add Oreo mixture to chocolate mixture. Pour batter into baking pan and smooth top with a rubber spatula.

Bake 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean; do not overbake. Allow to cool. Refrigerate, tightly wrapped, until cold; then cut into squares.

February 18, 2009

Spicy Pork Stir Fry















Quick, tasty and healthy meal for any day of the week. I've made this before and like it more and more each time.

WW Points: 5 per serving (4 servings total) *I served with white rice so that adds to the points but you can have plain for super healthy meal or serve over brown rice.

2 tsp chili oil (*if you don't want it to be spicy, use peanut oil)
1 lb lean pork tenderloins, cut into thin strips (*I use the Pork Top Loin, boneless)
4 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp red pepper flakes, crushed
2 tsp cornstarch
1 lb frozen mixed vegetables (Asian stir-fry mix)
3 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
1 tsp rice vinegar
1 tsp orange marmalade

In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 teaspoon of the chili oil. Cook pork until it begins to brown and is just cooked through, about 3 minutes. Remove to a plate.

Heat remaining oil in the same skillet over high heat; add garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook stirring constantly until golden and fragrant; about 1-2 minutes.

Mix cornstarch with 1/4 cup water. Add vegetables to pan; cook, stirring frequently, until just tender; 4-6 minutes. Stir in soy sauce, vinegar and marmalade. Add the cornstarch mixture and bring to a boil. Stir in pork and heat through. Serve immediately.

February 17, 2009

Potato and Sun-Dried Tomato Gratin

This is another healthy one we've been meaning to try out. Back when we were hard core into Weight Watchers I saw it on the website and printed it out. I never got around to making it until now and I regret waiting this long. It's really light and simple. It just takes about an hour overall to prep and bake. But it's worth it. I can't wait to eat my leftovers for lunch tomorrow.

















WW Points: 3 per serving

3-4 large potatoes (Idaho or Russett), peeled and cut into 1/4 inch thick rounds
1 cup sun-dried tomatoes, thinly sliced
2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 oz low-fat mozzarella or swiss cheese (I used mozzarella since I had it on hand)
2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
2 tbsp Italian bread crumbs
3/4 cup fat-free sour cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a small casserole dish with cooking spray, set aside.

Place potatoes in a large saucepan and pour enough water over to cover. Set pan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are fork-tender, about 6-8 minutes. Drain and transfer potatoes to a large bowl.

Add sun-dried tomatoes, sour cream, basil, salt and pepper and gently toss or stir to combine.

Transfer potato mixture to the prepared baking dish and top with mozzarella or swiss cheese. Combine bread crumbs and parmesan; sprinkle over casserole. Bake until top is golden brown, about 35-40 minutes. 6 servings.

February 14, 2009

Valentine's Day Treats

HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY!!

I decided to try and win the love of my new co-workers with some homemade treats for Valentine's Day. And it worked! Everyone enjoyed the goodies. Chris sent me a website with a recipe for homemade thin mints. These were a little time consuming in my opinion but so worth it. I would still buy the box of them from Girl Scouts just to have instant gratification.

The cake balls are a required holiday treat I share. Everyone seems to love them. They're so moist and delicious you can't have just one. They're very versatile so you can make shapes and try different cake mixes. Making homemade cake just for these cake balls seems like a waste of time and good ingredients so the boxed mix is definitely the way to go.






















THIN MINTS


2 1/4 c all purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
6 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 c white sugar
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/3 cup milk (any kind) I used evaporated milk since I had it on hand.
1/2 tsp vanilla
3/4 peppermint extract

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, cocoa powder and salt. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together. Put the mixer on low speed and add the milk and extracts. Gradually add the flour mixture until incorporated.

Shape dough into two logs, about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Wrap in plastic wrap and freeze for at least 1-2 hours until dough if firm.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. With a sharp knife, slice dough into rounds no more than 1/4 thick. If they are too thick they will not be crisp. Place on parchment lined baking sheets. Cookies will not spread very much so you can put them close together. Bake for 12-14 minutes until cookies are firm at edges. Cool cookies completely on wire rack before dipping in chocolate.

DARK CHOCOLATE COATING

10oz dark or semisweet chocolate
1/2 cup butter, room temperature

In microwave safe bowl, combine chocolate and butter. Melt on high in microwave stirring every 45-60 seconds, until chocolate is smooth. Chocolate should have a consistency somewhere between chocolate syrup and fudge for a thin coating.

Dip each cookie in melted chocolate, using a fork turn to coat and give a little shake to remove excess chocolate. Place on parchment or wax paper to set up for at least 30 minutes or until chocolate is dry.

Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

RED VELVET CAKE BALLS

1 box red velvet cake mix (cook as directed on box for 13x9 cake)
1 tub cream cheese frosting (16 oz.)
1 pkg chocolate bark or baking chocolate (regular or white)
wax paper

After cake is baked and cooled completely, crumble in large bowl. Mix thoroughly with the whole tub of cream cheese frosting. I use a sturdy spoon or rubber spatula. Using a cookie scoop, make balls of the mixture and lay onto cookie sheet. (should make 45-50.) Chill in the freezer for a couple of hours or until firm. Melt chocolate in microwave per directions on package. Using a fork, turn balls in the chocolate and tap off excess. Then lay on wax paper until dry.