Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Sesame Chicken

Sharing this recipe with you today is bittersweet for me, because it’s making me remember how much I liked it -- and how much my husband did not like it. Does that ever happen in your house? Even if I make the meal exactly as the recipe indicates, I always take it really personally when he doesn’t like something -- even if I didn’t come up with the recipe myself. It’s also irritating when I make something that I (and my toddler, who doesn’t eat anything!) really like, and he doesn’t like it so I can’t really make it again. Eh, I’ll stop whining now.

Anyway, I liked this version of sesame chicken a lot. I always order sesame chicken at Chinese restaurants, so it was nice to find an at-home version. As an added bonus, in this recipe the chicken isn’t breaded, so it’s a lot healthier than take-out. Joe’s main problem with this dish was that it had too much soy sauce in it, and I can sort of see where he’s coming from. If I made this again, I’d probably cut the soy sauce by half. I served ours over brown rice with some simple steamed broccoli on the side, and (Andrew and I thought) this was a delicious, healthy dinner. Maybe I’ll try to sneak it onto the menu again one of these days.

Sesame Chicken
adapted from Food.com

6 boneless skinless chicken breast halves, patted dry with paper towels

2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 cup chicken stock
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon fresh or ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

1. Cut chicken breasts into 1 inch strips or bite size pieces.

2. Heat a large non-stick skillet with a small amount of oil (olive, vegetable, or peanut) over medium-high heat.

3. Cook chicken for about 6 minutes or until no longer pink. Add garlic; cook and stir for 30 seconds.

4. Mix together honey, soy sauce, chicken stock, corn starch, ginger and red pepper flakes. Whisk until no corn starch lumps appear.

5. Pour sauce mixture into skillet with chicken and garlic. Cook until sauce thickens slightly. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

6. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes or until chicken starts to soak up the sauce.


Monday, November 29, 2010

Bacon Cheeseburger Meatloaf

Funny story about this recipe. I first made this meatloaf ages ago -- like, more than three years ago, right after we bought our house and were staying with my dad and stepmom while some major renovations were being done on our new money pit. I made it for my parents and Joe one night for dinner, and it was a huge hit with everyone.

Fast-forward to a month or so ago. I’d actually been thinking about making this again for quite some time, but I just hadn’t got around to it yet, when Joe came home and told me that one of his employees had mentioned a bacon cheeseburger meatloaf recipe from Paula Deen that he asked his wife to make for him all the time. “If you made that for me,” Joe said, “I can pretty much guarantee I’d want to eat it every single week.” I kindly informed him that I’d already made it for him, but that it must not have made that much of an impression on him since he couldn’t remember that occasion. His response? “Well, go ahead and make it again, just to refresh my memory.” So I did.

Guess what? We loved it just as much as we did three years ago. It’s definitely not something I’ll make all the time (I don’t even want to see the calorie content), but man, it sure tastes good. It’s got a great smokiness from the bacon, and every bite is practically oozing with melty cheese. The French-fried onion topping is the perfect finishing touch. This stuff is delicious!

Bacon Cheeseburger Meatloaf
from Food Network

1 pound ground chuck
10 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 (8-ounce) package sharp cheddar, grated
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup bread crumbs, toasted
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/3 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons prepared mustard
1 (3-ounce) can French-fried onions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a large bowl, combine the ground chuck and next 8 ingredients, mixing well.

3. In a small bowl, combine the ketchup and mustard. Stir 1/4 cup ketchup mixture into meat mixture, reserving remaining ketchup mixture.

4. Press meat mixture into a 9 by 5 by 3-inch loaf pan, or shape into a loaf and place on a rack in a broiler pan. Spread remaining ketchup mixture over loaf. Bake 40 minutes. Top with French fried onions; bake another 10 to 15 minutes, or until meat is no longer pink.


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Weekly Meal Planning, Week of 11.29.10

The Thanksgiving holiday completely screwed up my typical meal planning process. I didn't finish planning this week's menu until Friday night, and I didn't do my grocery shopping until this morning. I'm looking forward to getting back on track this week, and actually spending some time cooking. It's been a couple of weeks since I did that with any regularity.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pumpkin Spice Cream Cheese

Have you ever noticed that most pumpkin desserts never call for an entire can of pure pumpkin? At least, that’s been my experience. It seems like most desserts call for a cup or so, and I’m always left with pumpkin puree that I don’t know what to do with. Well, this flavored cream cheese is the solution to that problem. It takes less than five minutes to prepare, and it’s the perfect way to use up your leftover pumpkin.

This cream cheese has such an awesome pumpkiny, spicy flavor. We ate ours on plain toasted bagels, but I think this would be great on cinnamon raisin bagels, and that’s definitely what I’m using the next time I make it. You could even modify this recipe to use your leftover pumpkin pie -- minus the crust, of course. As it is, I think this would be a great light breakfast for the morning of Thanksgiving.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!

Pumpkin Spice Cream Cheese
seen on Sherry Starts Cooking

4 ounces cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1/4 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a small bowl, beat softened cream cheese, sugar, and maple syrup until creamy (or just use your blender, which is what I did). Add pumpkin, spices and vanilla and beat until smooth. Refrigerate for at least an hour.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Sausage-Stuffed Acorn Squash

I absolutely love the recipe I’m sharing today. It’s flavorful and seasonal and pretty much exactly the kind of food I want to eat around this time of year.

When I told Joe I was making this for dinner, he was skeptical. “I’ve only ever had acorn squash roasted with brown sugar and cinnamon,” he told me. That’s how his grandma makes it, and while I’d never (ever!) say no to squash prepared that way, I think it’s also delicious in more savory applications. Acorn squash isn’t quite as sweet as its butternut counterpart, so it’s the perfect squash to use with savory flavors.

In this version, sausage is mixed with stuffing, vegetables, nuts, and dried cranberries to create a filling that has the perfect balance of flavors and textures. It’s endlessly adaptable, which makes it a perfect way to use up your leftover Thanksgiving stuffing, or even cranberry sauce.

Sausage-Stuffed Acorn Squash
adapted from Cooks.com

2 acorn squash

1 stick melted butter, divided
1 pound maple sausage
1 box stuffing mix
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
8 ounces mushrooms, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves minced garlic
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup toasted chopped pecans

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut squash in half and hollow out inside stings and seeds. Cook in a pan with 1 inch of water, cut sides down, for 30 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, sauté onions and mushrooms until onions are softened and mushrooms are brown. Add garlic; cook and stir for 30 seconds. Remove from heat.

3. In a bowl, mix together raw sausage, uncooked stuffing mix, broth, 1/2 stick of melted butter, sautéed vegetables, cranberries and pecans. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

4. Remove squash from oven, drain pan, flip squash and brush with remaining melted butter. Fill cavities with stuffing mix.

5. Cover with foil and bake for 1 hour or until squash is tender. Remove foil and continue to bake uncovered for 15 minutes.


Monday, November 22, 2010

Mashed Potato Enchiladas

This week, most food bloggers will be sharing recipes to complete your Thanksgiving menu. However, I’m not one of them. Here’s a little secret: I’ve never hosted my own Thanksgiving. I always make components of the various meals we attend, and most of those recipes are already on the blog somewhere. So this week, I thought that instead of sharing Thanksgiving dishes, I’d share dishes to help you use up your Thanksgiving leftovers.

As soon as I saw this recipe on Taste and Tell, I was intrigued, and I knew I had to make it. Mashed potatoes rolled up in a flour tortilla and baked like an enchilada? I’d never heard of such a thing!

Well, we all loved these. A LOT. I added black beans, corn, and some green chilies to the filling, which made them taste even better. These enchiladas are a great way to transform mashed potatoes into something different (and delicious)!

Mashed Potato Enchiladas
adapted from Taste and Tell

1 1/2 pounds potatoes (I used baby reds, unpeeled for texture, and I think I used about 12 of them)
Butter, salt and sour cream for the potatoes
1 can corn, drained (or 2 cups frozen corn)
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 4-ounce can green chilies, drained
1 1/2 cups shredded colby-jack cheese, divided
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1 can red enchilada sauce, divided
8 (6-inch) flour tortillas

1. Put the potatoes in a large pot of water and bring it to a boil. Cook until tender but still firm. Drain and mash, adding milk, sour cream, and butter.

2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the mashed potatoes, corn, black beans, green chilies, 1 cup of cheese, chili powder, cumin, and garlic powder. Add salt and pepper to taste. Mix in about 1/2 cup of the enchilada sauce.

3. Spoon evenly into tortillas and roll up. Place enchiladas in a baking dish and spread the remaining enchilada sauce on top. Top with the remaining cheese.

4. Bake in a 350 degree oven until cheese is melted and bubbly, about 15 minutes.


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Weekly Meal Planning, Week of 11.22.10

I'm not really doing a whole lot of cooking this week, aside from what I'm making for various Thanksgiving celebrations. To be honest, I'm kind of looking forward to a little break. It probably breaks all the food blogger rules to say this, but I just haven't felt much like cooking lately. It'll be nice not to have to really worry about it this week.

Monday: Sandwiches and chips; I’ll be cooking for Andrew’s daycare potluck on Tuesday. (I’m making pumpkin doughnut mini muffins and creamed corn casserole.)

Tuesday: Turkey reuben wraps, chips (as if we won’t be eating enough turkey this week, right?)

Wednesday: Sandwiches and chips again; I’ll be cooking for Thanksgiving dinner. (I’m making cranberry butter, sweet potato casserole, and pecan pie cupcakes.)

Thursday: Thanksgiving

Friday: No cooking (or shopping; I stay far away from the stores on Black Friday!)

Saturday: Italian wedding soup

Sunday: Chicken-fried steak, mashed potatoes, buttered corn

Friday, November 19, 2010

Monterey Ranch Bread

Ohhh, this bread. This bread. It is a revelation. It is just about this best thing since…well, since sliced bread. Since I first discovered the recipe, I’ve made it no less than four times. Joe and I think it’s the perfect complement to a big pot of chili, so that’s what we always eat it with. But whatever you serve it with, I think you’ll love this bread. The ranch dressing and cheese mixture is so gooey and delicious, and is balanced perfectly by the crispy, buttery bread. It would be equally as delicious (if not even better!) with cheddar cheese. There’s nothing not to love about this one!

Monterey Ranch Bread
adapted from Taste of Home

2 cups (8 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese
3/4 cup ranch salad dressing
4 bolillo or hoagie rolls, split in half lengthwise to make 8 slices
2 tablespoons butter, melted

1. In a bowl, combine the cheese and salad dressing; set aside.

2. Brush slices of bread with butter. Place on baking sheet. Broil in oven 4 inches from the heat until golden brown. Spread with cheese mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes or until cheese is melted. Sprinkle with parsley, if desired.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Chicken Enchilada Ring

This is not one of the prettiest dishes I’ve ever made. In fact, I’d go as far as to say this is one of the most unphotogenic recipes I’ve ever posted. However, despite the not-so-pretty picture, I couldn’t not share this with you, because it just tastes so darn good.

Essentially, this recipe combines everything that you’d use to make a chicken enchilada, but instead of wrapping the filling up in a tortilla, you use crescent rolls and shape the whole thing into a ring. It makes this dish so quick, so easy to make and portion, and such perfect tailgate food. I made this for dinner for our family one weekend, and needless to say we had tons of leftovers, but they held up really well throughout the week. This right here is football food at its finest!

Chicken Enchilada Ring
adapted from Kelly’s Recipes

2 cups cooked shredded chicken
1 cup cheddar cheese
1 small can chopped chilies, undrained
1 cup sour cream
1 cup refried beans
1 package taco seasoning
2 packages of crescent rolls

1. Stir together chicken, cheese, chilies, sour cream, refried beans and taco seasoning.

2. Unroll crescent dough and separate triangles. Arrange on round baking stone or cookie sheet making a circle with wide ends overlapping in the center and points toward outside.

3. Spread chicken mixture evenly onto widest end of each triangle. Bring points of triangles up and over filling and tuck under wide ends of dough at the center of the ring.

4. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes. Serve with salsa and sour cream, if desired.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Coffee Chocolate Chunk Muffins

I’m not a big coffee drinker in the mornings. I usually have a cup shortly after I get to work, but I mix it with hot chocolate, so I think that disqualifies me as a serious coffee drinker. However, I really love the flavor of coffee, especially in baked goods. On one of the rare weekend mornings when I actually made a pot of coffee at home (it had been a long night with the boys), I remembered these muffins, and I thought they would be the perfect way to use up some of the leftover coffee.

In addition to using liquid coffee in the muffins, I also unearthed a couple of Hershey’s bars left over from our summer s’mores, so I chopped those up and added them to the batter instead of using pre-packaged chocolate chunks. I was truly unprepared for how much I loved these muffins. They had a great coffee flavor that paired so perfectly with the milk chocolate chunks. They were moist and delicious and sweet and slightly bitter and just amazing. If you’re a coffee lover, these muffins are a must-try!

Coffee Chocolate Chunk Muffins
adapted from Sherry Starts Cooking

3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup cooled brewed coffee

2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups flour

3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup melted butter, cooled
1 cup milk chocolate chunks
1/2 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease or line 12 muffin tins.

2. Mix together milk and coffee, and gently whisk in eggs and vanilla extract. In a separate bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add the coffee mixture and melted butter to the flour mixture and stir gently just to combine. Fold in chocolate chunks and chips.

3. Fill prepared muffin tins and bake in preheated oven for 20 to 22 minutes.


Monday, November 15, 2010

Bacon Guacamole

Bacon seems to be all the rage these days, I’m sure you’ve noticed. Bacon is going in cookies and in tons of other dishes where it normally wouldn't go. I have yet to get sick of this trend, so when I saw a recipe for bacon guacamole, I was all over it. After all, I love putting a couple of slices of avocado on my BLTs, so pairing avocado with bacon in a nice spicy guacamole seemed like a natural thing to do. Why hadn’t I ever thought of it before?

This is a great spin on guacamole. The bacon adds a really nice saltiness in the background, but surprisingly, it doesn’t overpower the other flavors like I thought it might. The smoky bacon pairs perfectly with the smoky-spicy chipotle in adobo, and the balance of textures is spot-on: creamy avocado, crispy bacon, juicy Roma tomatoes. This is a perfect snack for tailgating or, really, anytime!

Bacon Guacamole
adapted from Yum Sugar, originally from Rick Bayless

3 strips bacon

2 medium-large ripe avocados, cut in half and pitted
Half of a medium red onion, chopped into small pieces

1 canned chipotle in adobo, removed from canning sauce, stemmed, slit open, seeded and finely chopped
1 medium Roma tomato, cored and chopped into small pieces
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
Salt to taste
Fresh lime juice to taste

1. In a large (10-inch) skillet, cook the bacon in a single layer over medium heat, turning occasionally, until crisp and browned, about 10 minutes. Drain on paper towels, crumble coarsely and set aside.

2. Scoop the avocado flesh into a large bowl. Using a potato masher or a large fork or spoon, mash into a coarse purée. Add about two-thirds of the bacon, along with the onion, chipotle chile, tomato and cilantro. Stir gently to combine.

3. Taste and season with salt and lime juice to taste. Cover with plastic wrap directly on the surface of the guacamole and refrigerate. To serve, scoop the guacamole into a serving dish and sprinkle with the remaining bacon (and cilantro if desired).


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Weekly Meal Planning, Week of 11.15.10

This week is all about catching up on the meals I'd planned and shopped for in previous weeks, but never got around to making for various reasons (but mostly because one or all of us were sick). For that reason, this week's grocery list was very short, and I spent less money on groceries than I have in a long time. WIN.

: Mini meatloaves, pimiento macaroni and cheese

Wednesday: Dogs in a blanket, fries

Thursday: Onion chowder with cheesy onion popovers

Friday: No cooking

Saturday: Chili

Sunday: Chili dogs, fries

Friday, November 12, 2010

Southern Praline Cake

My stepmom is a huge fan of pralines. In fact, she just loves brown sugar in general, so much so that she’ll actually eat it straight out of the bag with her fingers. I’m not exaggerating. I’ve actually watched her do this.

Needless to say, for her birthday last month, I knew I wanted to make her a praline cake. This was the first recipe I saw when I did a Google search, and when I took one look at that icing, I knew my search was over: I’d found the perfect cake.

This cake is just amazing, plain and simple. The cake itself is super moist and buttery, and the icing tastes exactly like a liquefied praline: caramelly, nutty, buttery and sweet. It’s an incredibly rich and decadent cake (shocker, I know), and holds up really well in the refrigerator. This birthday girl loved it, and the rest of us did too!

Southern Praline Cake
from Group Recipes

For the cake:

1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed

4 large eggs

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For praline icing:

3/4 cup butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
4 large eggs yolks
1 large can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups chopped pecans

1. Grease and flour three nine-inch round cake pans and preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Cream the butter with both granulated sugar and light brown sugar until very light and fluffy, then add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

3. Sift the flour with the baking powder, baking soda and salt and add to the batter alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with the dry mixture. Stir in the vanilla extract.

4. Divide batter evenly among the prepared pans and bake in the center of the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center of the layers comes out clean. Cool layers in their pans over a rack for ten minutes, then loosen and turn out layers directly onto racks for cooling. Cool layers thoroughly before icing.

5. For the icing, melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat, then stir in granulated sugar and light brown sugar. (Sugars will not dissolve).

6. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the evaporated milk until smooth, then whisk this mixture into the saucepan with the sugar mixture. Return saucepan to a medium heat setting and cook, whisking constantly, until mixture is thick, shiny and caramel-like, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract and pecans.

7. Cool icing to a good spreading consistency (about 30 minutes), then spread evenly between cooled cake layers and over the top and sides of the cake.


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Ranch Chicken Cutlets

We love ranch dressing in my house. It’s our preferred dipper for all kinds of things, including but not limited to: french fries, raw veggies, pizza rolls (yes, really), and chicken strips. So when I saw this recipe, I knew right away that we would like it. And, surprise surprise, we did!

I’ll definitely be making this again, but next time, I’ll be baking it instead of frying. The ranch dressing coating isn’t as effective at keeping the breading on the chicken as egg would be, so quite a bit of the breading actually came off of my chicken. This was disappointing, especially since the breading was pretty darn delicious. If you bake it, 400 degrees for about 30 minutes would probably be perfect, depending on the thickness of your chicken.

This is a great way to jazz up a plain old chicken cutlet!

Ranch Chicken Cutlets
adapted from Betty Crocker

4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
1/4 cup ranch dressing
1/3 cup dry bread crumbs
1 packet ranch dressing mix
Vegetable oil for frying

1. Combine bread crumbs and ranch dressing mix. Dip chicken into dressing, then coat with bread crumb mixture.

2. In 10-inch skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Cook chicken in oil 12 to 15 minutes, turning once, until outside is golden brown and juice is no longer pink when centers of thickest pieces are cut.


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Black Bean and Salsa Soup

Well, I wasn’t able to post yesterday, because that stomach virus that my boys had? Well, they passed it to me. So I blew NaBloPoMo, which I’m irritated about, but I had a good excuse, but I’m not going into detail because it’s not the kind of thing you want to read about on a food blog, so...moving on.

Anyway. This soup is awesome. It’s so flavorful and delicious, and it is literally ready in ten minutes. TEN MINUTES. How’s that for a weeknight home run?

We all absolutely loved this dinner. I topped our servings with shredded cheese, sour cream, scallions, and crushed tortilla chips for texture, and served it with cheese quesadillas for dipping. I’ll be making this one a lot, and I strongly recommend that you try it!

Black Bean and Salsa Soup
adapted from Everything Moms

2 15-ounce cans black beans, drained and rinsed

1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 cup chunky salsa

1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 can cream-style corn

Sour cream, shredded cheese, green onions and crushed tortilla chips for garnish, if desired

1. In an electric food processor or blender, combine beans, stock, salsa, cumin, and chili powder. Blend until fairly smooth.

2. Transfer the bean mixture to a saucepan and stir in cream corn. Cook over medium heat until thoroughly heated. Taste for seasonings, and add salt and pepper if needed to taste.

3. Ladle soup into bowls, and top each bowl with desired toppings.


Monday, November 8, 2010

Crock Pot Pork Roast with Potatoes and Carrots

Every time I make this meal, I go back and forth about whether or not I should post it here. After all, it’s so simple, and I think everyone already has a recipe like this. There’s really nothing special about it, it’s pretty plain and straightforward and I don’t know how blog-worthy it is, etc. etc. etc.

However. Even though it’s plain and simple, it is also one of my very favorite meals, and because of that, it definitely deserves a place here. So the last time I made this for dinner, I snapped a quick picture so I could share it with you.

This is how my mom always made pork roast in the slow cooker, and it’s one of my most frequent cravings. Despite the short list of ingredients, you won’t believe how flavorful the pork and vegetables are after they’ve cooked for hours and hours in the Crock pot. I strongly suggest mashing the potatoes and carrots up together and topping them with butter and salt. Delicious!

Crock Pot Pork Roast with Potatoes and Carrots

1 2- to 3-pound pork roast, trimmed of fat
Salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste
8-10 baby red potatoes, quartered
1 cup baby carrots
1 bay leaf
1 cup chicken stock

1. Spray Crock pot with cooking spray. Add potatoes and carrots to Crock pot and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

2. Rub pork roast all over with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Add to Crock pot along with bay leaf. If necessary, cut the roast into chunks to make it fit. Pour chicken stock over meat.

3. Cover and cook on Low 6 to 8 hours or until meat falls apart easily with a fork.


Sunday, November 7, 2010

Weekly Meal Planning, Week of 11.8.10

Well, the saga of the stomach bug continues around here (it's now spread to my toddler), so I don't have much time to gab about this week's menu. I will say that I had a hard time planning it this week for some reason, but I'm really excited to eat all of these things!

: Savory French toast BLTs, hash browns

Tuesday: Dogs in a blanket, French fries (I seriously cannot wait for this meal!)

Wednesday: Gnocchi and tomato bake, garlic bread

Thursday: Shredded chicken tacos

Friday: Whatever we feel like eating. I don't cook on Fridays -- it's my night off!

Saturday: Italian wedding soup, crusty bread

Sunday: Chicken-fried steak, mashed potatoes, buttered corn

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Ice Cream Brownie Cupcakes

Sorry today's recipe is up so late. I hate to use the "sick baby" excuse two days in a row, but yeah: My baby is still sick. That'll teach me to expect the unexpected and draft my posts ahead of time, right?

I can't think of an occasion for which these ice cream brownie cupcakes wouldn't be appropriate, but I made them for a coworker's birthday celebration at work. He loves the Ohio State Buckeyes (as does pretty much everyone where I live, including myself), so I chose a Buckeye ice cream made by a local ice cream company as my flavor. It's my favorite ice cream, by far -- peanut butter ice cream with a chocolate fudge swirl and tiny little Buckeyes. I'm sure you could use any ice cream flavor for these cupcakes and it would be delicious. If you're feeling extra motivated, you could even make your own.

I used my favorite brownie recipe as the brownie base, but you could use the one in Annie's post that I've linked to, or even a boxed mix. It's all about the method with this recipe, really, and no matter what you do, it's going to taste great. I mean, come on, it's brownies and ice cream. That's pretty much the best combination ever.

Ice Cream Brownie Cupcakes

inspired by Annie's Eats

1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup baking cocoa
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Ice cream, any flavor, softened

1. To make the brownie bottoms, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two cupcake pans with foil liners.
In a large mixing bowl, beat the sugar, eggs and vanilla. Stir in the butter. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt; add to batter and mix well.

2. Scoop 1 tablespoon of batter into cupcake liner. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs attached, 6 to 8 minutes. Leaving the brownies in the cupcake pans, cool on a wire rack to room temperature, then freeze for at least 30 minutes.

3. Top with ice cream until the cupcake liner is full.
Return the cupcake pans to the freezer for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Remove the cupcakes from the freezer 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Chipotle Chicken Alfredo

My youngest son has some kind of virus, and I'm home with him today, so I have to make this post pretty quick since he's bound to get bored with his brother's Matchbox cars at any moment. Babies wait for no one, not even food bloggers.

Anyway, it's a good thing it won't take me long to describe this recipe to you: It's creamy, spicy, different, and delicious. Joe and I
loved it, although it was too spicy for Andrew to eat. If you don't like a lot of heat, definitely cut back on the amount of chipotle puree you add to the sauce. The flavors of this are great, though, and I was absolutely blown away by how well the chipotle flavor worked in the alfredo sauce. I love it when I'm surprised by how good a dish tastes, especially when it combines flavors I would never think to put together.

Chipotle Chicken Alfredo

adapted from Not a Real Housewife, who got the recipe from Kraft Foods

3 tablespoons butter, divided

1 pound boneless skinless chicken tenders, cut into 1-inch pieces
Salt and pepper to taste

4 ounces cream cheese, cubed

1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese

1/2 cup milk
1/2 tablespoon chipotle in adobo puree

8 ounces linguine or fettuccine, cooked and drained

1. Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in large skillet on medium-high heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper to taste and add to skillet; cook and stir until chicken is no longer pink. Remove chicken from skillet; cover to keep warm.

2. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, stir together cream cheese, parmesan cheese, milk, remaining 2 tablespoons butter and the chipotle puree; cook 5 minutes or until cream cheese is completely melted and mixture is well blended, stirring constantly with wire whisk. Gently stir in chicken.
Toss with the hot pasta.


Thursday, November 4, 2010

Cheesy Hash Brown Casserole

I think every family has its own version of “cheesy potatoes.” Our family actually has two versions. There’s my dad’s “party potatoes,” which are so freakin’ good, and which he won’t share the recipe for no matter how much I bug him. Then there’s this recipe, which I adapted long ago from my trusty old Better Crocker Cookbook.

Back when my cooking repertoire consisted of six meals made on an endless cycle, Joe and I used to eat this as a main dish. Now we usually eat these potatoes as a side dish for various things (like the ribs in the picture, Joe’s specialty which he won’t share the recipe for; these men and their secret recipes!). This is also the dish I take to our Easter family dinner, and I think it would be the perfect side dish for any holiday celebration.

Cheesy Hash Brown Casserole
adapted from Betty Crocker

1 10 3/4-ounce can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 8-ounce container spreadable chive and onion cream cheese, softened
2 cups sour cream
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 30-ounce bag frozen shredded hash brown potatoes, partially thawed
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray bottom and side of a rectangular 13 x 9 baking dish with cooking spray.

2. In very large bowl, mix soup, cream cheese, sour cream, milk, salt and pepper. Stir in potatoes and 1 cup cheese. Spoon into baking dish.

3. Bake uncovered 30 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining 1 cup cheese. Bake 15 to 20 minutes longer or until golden brown on top and bubbly around edges.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Rustic Chicken

I’m just warning you now, I’ll probably be sharing quite a few chicken recipes this month. It’s been on sale at both of my regular grocery stores a lot lately, so it’s been on our menu frequently. But if any of you are anything like me, you’re always on the hunt for new and different chicken recipes, so hopefully I’ll post a poultry-centric dish this month that catches your eye.

Take this “rustic chicken,” for instance. It’s aptly named, I think, because it does look pretty rustic once it’s prepared. In the words of Joe, “Wow, this tastes so much better than it looks!” Oh, my silly husband.

It really does, though. With mushrooms, artichokes, bacon, and stuffed olives, this dish has such earthy, complex flavor. It comes together quickly, and it’s hearty and delicious. I served ours over spaghetti noodles tossed with a bit of butter and some parmesan cheese, and although Andrew seemed to mostly only eat the noodles, I’m going to go ahead and say that my whole family loved this!

Rustic Chicken
adapted from A Taste of Home Cooking

6 slices of bacon, chopped

1 onion, chopped
8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 1/2 pounds chicken breasts, cut in 1 inch strips
1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
1 15-ounce can artichoke hearts, quartered
1 packet dry chicken gravy mix
1/4 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup stuffed green olives

1. Cook bacon in a large pot over medium heat until crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon and let drain on paper towels.

2. Turn the heat to medium-high and add the onions. Cook until tender, then add the mushrooms. Push the mushrooms and onions to the side and add the chicken. Cook until the chicken browns, then add the rest of the ingredients and stir to combine. Reduce heat to medium.

3. Cook until the chicken is no longer pink. Serve over pasta.


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

BBQ Chicken and Cole Slaw Wraps

I have a really simple, delicious lunch or dinner idea to share with you today. It was actually inspired by a lunch I had at my work cafeteria a while ago. That may sound odd, but I should probably mention that I work for a large corporation, and we have two cafeterias of the nearly gourmet variety. We’re not talking school cafeteria food here. And thank goodness for that!

Anyway, this is what I had: barbecue chicken in a flour tortilla spread with chive and onion cream cheese, all wrapped up with cole slaw and slices of cheddar cheese. It was so simple and delicious and now, every time I see that on the menu, it’s what I get for lunch at work.

Of course, I had to try making my own version at home, and I couldn’t be more pleased with how these turned out. They were a huge hit with Joe, and I think they’re even better than the cafeteria’s version. Best of all, they’re delicious warm or cold, so if you make a little extra for dinner one night you have lunch for the next day. You’ll get at least three big wraps out of two small chicken breasts, so this is a pretty inexpensive meal too. I don’t add any additional sauce to the wraps other than what’s on the chicken before I slice it, but if you want the barbecue flavor to be a little stronger, by all means add more.

BBQ Chicken and Cole Slaw Wraps

2 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup prepared barbecue sauce
Flour tortillas
1 tablespoon of chive and onion cream cheese per tortilla
Cheddar cheese slices
Prepared cole slaw

1. Season chicken with salt and pepper to taste. Cook over medium-high heat in a large skillet until cooked through. Pour barbecue sauce over chicken and heat through. Remove chicken to a cutting board and slice.

2. Spread each flour tortilla with 1 tablespoon chive and onion cream cheese. Top with two slices of cheddar cheese per tortilla, some of the chicken, and about 1/2 cup of cole slaw. Fold wraps tightly and serve, or wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate.


Monday, November 1, 2010

Pumpkin Doughnut Mini Muffins

I got a late start on my pumpkin baking this year. In fact, I wasn’t sure if I’d really be baking with pumpkin much at all this fall. I’ve seen tons of delicious-sounding pumpkin recipes on my favorite food blogs, but none of them really struck me as “must-bake-immediately.” That is, until Cara shared this recipe on her site. I don’t think I’ve ever clicked that little star in Google Reader faster.

These cute little mini muffins are amazing. Amazing! As the name would indicate, they have the texture of a cake doughnut. The muffins themselves aren’t super sweet; the sweetness is reserved for a coating of melted butter, cinnamon and sugar. The muffins are rolled in this mixture while they’re still warm, so the butter soaks into the muffins, giving them a rich, moist texture. The cinnamon-sugar coating stays really crunchy, which is the perfect contrast to the soft muffin.

I did make a couple of changes, which I’ve indicated below. These were originally regular-sized muffins, but I love making mini muffins because they’re easier for Andrew to eat -- and in this instance, they’re super cute because they look like little doughnut holes. I also subbed pumpkin pie spice for the nutmeg and allspice called for in the original recipe.

These will be a fall baking staple for me from now on. We all loved them!

Pumpkin Doughnut Mini Muffins
adapted from The Picky Apple, who got the recipe from Everyday Food, November 2010

For the pumpkin batter:

10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
3 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon coarse salt
3/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/3 cup buttermilk
1 1/4 cups pure pumpkin puree
3/4 cup light-brown sugar
2 large eggs

For the sugar coating:

3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 24 mini muffin cups with cooking spray. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and pumpkin pie spice. In a small bowl, whisk together buttermilk and pumpkin puree. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, scraping down bowl as needed. With mixer on low, add flour mixture in three additions, alternating with two additions pumpkin mixture and beat to combine.

2. Spoon batter into each mini muffin cup and bake until a toothpick inserted in center of a muffin comes out clean, about 15 minutes. Let muffins cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack.

3. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine granulated sugar and cinnamon. Working with one at a time, remove muffins from pan, roll in butter, then toss to coat in sugar mixture. Let muffins cool completely on a wire rack.