Thursday, February 24, 2011

New Google Feature - Recipes

This is so awesome. You can narrow your Google results to show only recipes. See left menu.

Super Bowl Appetizers

I know that these recipes are less exciting since the Super Bowl occurred three weeks ago, but these appetizers would still be awesome at any future function. I was a huge fan of both of these appetizers.

This Spicy Buffalo Chicken Balls appetizer is from a Martha Stewart recipe. I absolutely LOVED this recipe, and I'll be making these again in the future. They were spicy but the spice wasn't overwhelming.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
3/4 cup hot sauce
2 lb ground chicken (I had trouble finding this. Not all grocery stores carry ground chicken.)
1 cup chopped celery
1 2/3 cup breadcrumbs
2 eggs
2 teaspoons coarse salt
Blue cheese (as a dipping sauce)

Preheat the oven to 450, and grease a pan.

On low heat, add the hot sauce and butter to a saucepan. Heat and whisk this mixture until well blended.
Then, cool this mixture until room temperature. Now add the ground chicken, celery, breadcrumbs and eggs. Toss in a couple teaspoons of salt.

Now start forming the balls- just like you make beef meatballs. Place the balls on an oiled baking sheet. You want the balls to be touching on all sides. Cook for 15 minutes at 450. I pulled out my thermometer after the 15 minutes to make sure that the chicken was at a safe temperature. I get nervous about chicken. Let the balls cool for 5 minutes and then toss and coat the chicken balls with hot sauce. Blue cheese dressing can be used for dipping.I forgot to bring blue cheese dressing to my Super Bowl party, and they were just fine without the dressing. I served the chicken balls in a crock pot on warm. They are much better when served warm.

I also made Bacon and Cheese Wrapped Tater Tots with Hot Sauce. I found the recipe here. I substituted the Tobasco for some Frank's RedHot. They were super easy to make.

They were a hit. Obviously anything with bacon is awesome. I also served these in a crock pot.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Chili Blanco

This is a really flavorful chicken chili recipe. It was perfect for a Sunday afternoon.

I found a recipe in a Betty Crocker soup magazine, and a slightly modified version is below.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large white onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 cups of cubed chicken breast
1 can great northern beans (15 oz)
1 can cannellini beans (15 oz)
2 cups (16 oz) chicken broth
2 cans of chopped green chiles (4.5 oz cans)
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

This recipe gave me another opportunity to use my beautiful Dutch oven. First add oil to a dutch oven at medium heat. Toss in the chopped onions and garlic. Cook for 5 minutes, and when the onions are soft, add the salt, cayenne, cumin, and cubed chicken. Stir, and brown the chicken. The chicken doesn't have to be cooked through at this point. After about 7 minutes add in the beans, broth and green chiles.

Cover and let simmer on medium-low heat for 25 minutes. At that point, check to make sure that the chicken is cooked through. Add the cheese and cilantro, and serve!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Walnut-Sage Pesto Pasta

Happy Valentine's Day!  To all of you in a relationship, go nuts!  Do something special for each other and share something uniquely the two of you!  To all of you who are rocking independence - don't sweat it!  It's just a Hallmark Holiday, that shouldn't make you feel any less awesome than any other day.

I've ripped this recipe out of a magazine at the gym probably four weeks ago.  I'm not sure why I haven't made it yet, I've had all the ingredients.  I finally got around to making this last night and it was extremely tasty.  And easy - I think 20 minutes top to put it all together.

Walnut-Sage Pesto Pasta

  • 1/3 cup walnuts
  • 6 ounces dried pasta of your choosing
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 packed Tbsp fresh whole sage leaves
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp EVOO
  • 4 Tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Heat up your oven to 350.  Pour out your walnuts onto a baking sheet and bake for roughly 8 minutes.  Toast until light golden brown and fragrant.  Set aside to cool.
Before toasting
After toasting
While the walnuts are toasting, get a salted pot of hot water going on the stove.  Cook your pasta according to the instructions.  Be sure to reserve the pasta water, you're going to need some of it later.

Sage... so fresh, so fragrant!
Combine your parsley, sage leaves, garlic, salt and pepper in a food processor or blender.

Give it a solid whiiiirrrrlllll until it's finely pulsed into a pesto like consistency.  Add in the EVOO, blend.  Add in 3 tablespoons Parmesan and give it a final pulse or two.

In a bowl, add pesto and a 1/3 cup of the reserved pasta water.

Add in your pasta and mix well.

Now, you might realize that yours looks more green than mine does.  That is because I completely forgot to add in the parsley!  Ugh!  Such a crucial, crucial ingredient!  Don't get me wrong, my dish, sans parsley, was really good, but I think the lighter, fresher taste of the parsley would have changed the dish considerably.  Mine was very rich, and very heavy.  I ate it as my entrĂ©e, but it was probably better suited as a side dish. I must really remember to slow down and read a recipe in it's entirety!

Continue to add in pasta water in small batches, to create a creamier sauce.  You won't need much, but it's helpful to loosen up the noodles and builds a bit of light sauce to coat the noodles.

Serve in bowls and top with remaining Parmesan cheese.  Crack some fresh pepper over the top... and Bon Appetit!!!

My new Nikon took these pictures!  I love it!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Spicy Asian Marinated Steak

My bff and college roommate gets a subscription to Cooking Light.  She rips out the recipes she likes and then passes the magazines on to me.  Lucky for me, she doesn't eat the same things I do!

Anyways, I love this recipe.  You will too.  Just a heads up that it calls for a day of marinating.  So plan ahead.  It's ridiculously easy.

  • 2 tablespoons less-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
  • 1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple in juice, drained
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 (1-pound) flank steak, trimmed
Throw your steak into a ziploc bag, add all of the ingredients and close.  Give it a good mixin' and a shakin'.  Place in the fridge.  Pour yourself a glass of hard earned wine.  Maybe throw up your kicks on the coffee table and get to some DVR-ing.  Life should always be this easy.

At some point, be sure to flip over your ziploc bag and give a good shake.

The next day, take out the steak and discard the marinade.  I know, all those ingredients just to be thrown away!  I actually used my leftovers on some pork, so I got two uses out of my mine.  Now, if you have a grill, heat it up and grill away.  Now if you live somewhere where your grilling is limited due to it being buried under snow or you don't have access to a grill because city living entitles you to zero outdoor space, then it's time to pan sear it. 

Heat your pan, then add a tablespoon or so of EVOO.  I did mine about medium high.  Once the oil is HOT, add your steak.  


Remember the golden rule when searing:  DO NOT TOUCH.  Let it sear.

I'm serious!  Don't touch!  As you can see in my pictures, my oil is starting to smoke.  I'm worried about ruining by best IKEA frying pan.  (insert sarcasm and gift ideas here)  But I soldier on.  There's searing to be done.

After five minutes or so, flip.  As you can see, I was hoping for a better sear, but the meat was not flat on the bottom. 

And, at this point, I definitely set off the smoke alarms in my apartment.  Again. 

Five minutes on the other side and PRESTO:  Sear has been achieved.

Once your steak is done, let it sit for five minutes or so.  This allows the juices inside to set.  If you slice right away, then will drain all over the plate and you'll miss out. 

I served mine with the world's easiest side.  I cut up a red pepper, purple onion, sugar snap peas and some garlic.  Saute the garlic very briefly, add in your vegetables and saute until soft/crisp.  I LOVED this side dish.  It doesn't need anything fancy, the vegetables just do right by each other. 

Slice the meat and serve.  Check out that perfectly seared steak.  I was very impressed with my skills!

Those are homemade sweet potato fries in the back. Amazing.  Recipe to come later.



Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Chicken Pot Pie

I don't typically crave rich, creamy things like Chicken Pot Pie. But when I offered to cook dinner for an old friend, he had his little heart dead set on one. I searched hi and low on the interwebs for a recipe that I thought was a)easy enough for the weekday, b) satisfying enough for my tastebuds and boring enough to satisfying his. I came across Bon Appetit's February 2003 "Easy Chicken Pot Pie" version and I thought I had a winner.

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner Indeed. I was simply amazed at how well it came together. Let's get at it.

Chicken Pot Pie (as I adapted from Bon Appetit:)
  • 2 sheets pastry puffs (I got mine in the refrigerated section)
  • Various herbs - parsley, thyme, sage, bay, oregano (I bought a "Poultry" mix from the fresh herb section- about 1/3 cup total)
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 chicken breasts, diced
  • 1 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 2 medium sized potatoes - diced
  • 1 1/2 cup frozen peas/carrots/corn
First, get to work, you have some chopping to do.  Enlist your handy, helpful sous chef to do things you don't like to do - like peel potatoes and cut up chicken.  In this case, it's best to have everything ready to go.

Preheat your oven to 375 and get a skillet going with some oil.  Toss in a bit of your herbs to start releasing some of their fragrence.  Sear your chicken chunks lightly on each side - about three minutes each side.  Do this in batches.  Don't over crowd your pan or you won't be able to get a sear going.  Also, make sure you're not cooking the chicken all the way through, as it's going into the oven later on anyways.  You don't want tough overcooked chicken. 

In another, deeper, skillet type pan (or dutch oven, if you're so lucky!), add your butter and the rest of your herbs and saute quickly for a minute.  Then add your celery, shallots,  and saute for approximately 5 minutes.  Your goal is to soften the celery and released the amazing herbs. 

Add in the chicken broth a bring mixture to a boil. 
Take a minute to enjoy the glass of white you've probably by now poured yourself.  You earned it.

Once boiling, reduce heat to medium low and add in chicken.  Simmer until the chicken is cooked through, maybe four or five minutes.  This really depends on how much you seared them.  I started to shred my chunks up during this process to bring them down.  Just take a fork, stab pieces and run your knife through the fork slats.  Easy.

Now here's where things got interesting.  I didn't read the recipe in its entirety before starting.  The next steps says that the chicken should be removed from the liquid mixture.  What?  Crap.  I removed with a slotted spoon and set aside.  Once the chicken is out, increase the heat to medium and allow to reduce to about 1 1/2 or 2 cups. 

This step took about 15 minutes. Which is good, because now is a great time to roll out your pie crusts and get them ready.  Place one of the crusts in the bottom of the pie pan.

Once the liquid is reduced, add your cream.  Have extra cream on hand.  I didn't have enough and I had to improvise.  Bring cream mixture to a boil and add potatoes and chicken.  Cook mixture for about 10 minutes until potatoes are soft.

Taste.  Isn't that amazing?  The shallots and the herbs are playing really nice together and the cream... wow.  After years of eating low cal, I have forgotten how amazing full fat cream is.  Yum.  Make sure to season with salt and pepper as you please.

Add the mixture to your pie pan. 

Roll the second crust out and cover your pie pan.  Make indents along the side with a fork to seal the two edges together.  Create slits in the top for the pie to breathe.

In the oven it goes!!! For 35 minutes.  By this time, it was about 9 pm.  The recipe calls this an easy pot pie, but jeez, it was actually pretty time consuming for a weeknight.
And once the crust is brown, it's time to come out.  Allow to cool for about 20 minutes.  This will let the liquid set a bit.

And get into it.  I clearly couldn't wait any longer.  It was pushing 10 pm at this point and I was hangry!  Because I didn't have any patience, the liquid was a bit runny. 

But the flavors... oh the flavors. 

I might have resisted the idea of chicken pot pie initially, but after this amazing, tasty, flavorful creation, I craved more chicken pot pie in the days following. 

Semi scary looking, but really amazing.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Chocolate Chip, Bacon, & Pecan Cookies

One of the biggest reasons that I cannot go completely meatless is because of my love for bacon.

Do you follow the dessert trends. I recently read that the current dessert hype is pies. Some past trends include cupcakes, whoopie pies, and yes, bacon.

I found this bacon cookie recipe on NPR last year, and I have baked these cookies at least five times. I'm in love with these cookies. I just ate one, and now crumbs are all over my keyboard. I don't even care because my taste buds are so satisfied.

This most recent time that I made these cookies, I was able to use my FANCY new red KitchenAid Anniversary Edition Mixer. It was a Christmas present from my parents. I absolutely love it. The mixer lives on my counter because it is too heavy to move around. The red looks so great. I'm going to decorate it like a Christmas tree next year.

5 strips of bacon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup flour
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
2/3 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 350.

Start by frying up the bacon goodness. Don't burn the bacon. You don't want burnt bacon in your cookies, but the bacon should be quite crisp. Then, use paper towels to get rid of some of the grease. Chop up the bacon into really small pieces.

Whisk the baking soda, salt, and flour in a medium bowl.

Then, with the butter at room temp., cream the butter, sugar, and brown sugar in a large bowl. Then, toss in the vanilla extract and egg. Beat this mixture. I used my beautiful KitchenAid Mixer. Toss in the dry ingredients from the other bowl. Beat all of these ingredients, and then finally gently stir in the chopped pecans, bacon, and chocolate chips.

The NPR instructions call for parchment paper on your baking sheets, but I never use parchment paper, and my cookies are fine. Make tablespoon sized balls of the cookie dough, and put them on the baking sheet.

Bake for 10 minutes, and then move the cookies to a drying rack. I love my drying rack.

Since there is bacon in these cookies, they need to be refrigerated. The recipe says that the cookies can be at room temp. for 1-2 days, but I prefer to just keep the cookies in the fridge all of the time.

Let me know what you think about these cookies! I didn't have time to make appetizers for a mini party a few weeks ago. Here I just ended up serving these cookies and popcorn.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Marinated Pork with Mango Salsa

I posted this as a guest blogger for Meghan over at Travel, Eat, Love, while she traveled Ireland with her husband.  Check out my post here.

I don't reserve my best cooking for the weekends, I love to find easy to prepare, healthy dishes on the weekdays too.  There's something so satisfying about coming home and cheffing something from scratch, rather than having to rely on leftovers.  I came across this Caribbean Pork with Mango Salsa in Real Simple's January 2011 issue.  Amidst a ton of other pork recipes, this one called my name for it's simplicity and it's inclusion of Mango Salsa.

I know, I know.  Mango salsa isn't entirely in season right now.  But amidst all the winter kale and squashes and over kill of pumpkin and peppermint from the holidays, it feels so good to go against the grain.  So fresh.  So summer-y.  Wouldn't you like a taste of summer right now?

Caribbean Pork with Mango Salsa (as adapted from Real Simple)
  • 1 mango, chopped
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
  • salt for tasting
  • 1 pound of pork tenderloin, or chops
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp ground corriander
  • salt to taste
 As usual, I was hestitant to think the Mango Salsa was going to have any flavor as the ingredients seemed too simple.  For some reason, I can't get over it in my head that sometimes less ingredients really can blow your socks off.  It's true though.

These simple, simple ingredients came together to make one of the most refreshing mango salsa's I have had.  I love the flavor and was ready to just eat a bowl of it straight up.  I know it's wrong, but sometimes a girl can't help herself.   

As for the pork, it's easy to throw together.  The recipe calls for broiling, but I am huge on pan searing lately.  So, at nearly room temperature, I patted my chops dry and seasoned as the recipe called for.  I heated 2 pans on medium high and added a bit of EVOO. (I don't have a pan large enough for two porkchops without crowding. If you crowd, you could lose the chance for them to get a sear.)  Once fired up and heated, I tossed the porkchops into the pans. 

You'll be tempted to touch.  To peek.  To check.  Resist.  Resist harder.  Have faith that four to five minutes untouched on each side with create a delicious sear.  Once they were seared, I tossed them into the oven at 450 degrees and cooked futher another 10 minutes or so, until the middle was no longer pink.

Allow to cool for 5 minutes or so before slicing to preserve the juices in the meat.  If you slice too soon, they juices all run out and you lose some of the moisture.  Just say no to dried out meat.  Especially pork.  Pork gets a bad rap for being boring, but I think when it's done right, it's amazing.

Slice pork and top with Mango Salsa.  Serve with a freshly made salad, side of roasted veggies or some brown rice.  Dive in.  There's so reason you can't have a freshly made, healthy meal on busy weekdays!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Cuban Black Bean Soup

I bought a new soup magazine, and the recipes all look pretty awesome. I started by making the Cuban Black Bean Soup (p. 80). This recipe is low fat and does not have any meat. The recipe does call for beef-flavored broth OR vegetable broth. I used beef broth because that's what I had in my cupboards.

This recipe gave me the opportunity to to cook with dried beans. My friend Amanda & some friends on Twitter have given me a lot of advice on dried beans. There advice mostly consisted of "let them soak for a lonnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnggg time." This recipe also gave me the opportunity to use two new toys! My sister gave me an immersion blender for Christmas. It was a GREAT gift.

The other toy is a new Dutch oven. I splurged and bought it at an outlet mall. Isn't it pretty?
Remember how I said that I was told to soak the beans for a long time? Well, the recipe only called for 1 hour after boiling and 2 hour with some of the other ingredients. I was very skeptical of this. I let the beans soak overnight in the fridge, and I'm very glad that I did. On the flip side, oversoaking beans can lead to fermenting.

2 2/3 cups dried black beans
2 T vegetable oil
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 onion, chopped
3 cups of beef broth
3 cups of water
1/4 cup dark rum
1 t liquid smoke
1 1/2 t ground cumin
1 1/2 t dried oregano
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 tomato, chopped

Rinse the beans. After soaking the beans for at least overnight, put the beans in a 4 or 5 quart Dutch oven. Cover the beans with water and boil, uncovered. Then, remove from heat, cover, and let stand for one hour. This is where I'm really glad that I purchased my Dutch oven. I used to try to do these things with a stock pot, and it just never worked out.

Drain the liquid and remove the beans. In the Dutch oven, now add oil on medium heat. Toss in the garlic and onions. Heat until tender.

Add the rest of the ingredients and the beans. Boil for two minutes. Cover and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for two hours. Then, make sure that the beans are tender. Dried beans take patience.

Now I used my fancy new immersion blender to smooth the mixture. You could use a blender or food processor. Once the soup is smooth, serve!
I really liked the unique taste of this soup. It was really different and almost peculiar. The liquid smoke added a lot of character. I recommend serving this soup with a grilled cheese.

Serenity in your kitchen means that you're okay when the magazine photo looks like this:...And your soup looks like this, but it still tastes delicious: