Tuesday, March 31, 2009

New Orleans-Style Shrimp

Ahhh, spring. Ahhh, natural light for my photos. FINALLY.

I have to say, I'm currently loving the foil packet method of cooking. I'm pretty sure I'm going to be using it all summer long. This shrimp dish was cooked in the oven, not on the grill, but I think it's a dish that would work really well cooked outside. Either way, though, it's absolutely delicious -- perfectly spicy and a little bit sweet and wonderfully tangy. Joe and I both really liked this and wished we had more. I jazzed it up with some Zatarain's for soaking up the yummy broth, and we were both very happy. This is a wonderful spring supper!

New Orleans-Style Shrimp
Source: adapted from Cooking Light Annual Recipes 2008 (original recipe available on MyRecipes)

3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
Juice of one lemon
1 tablespoon butter, melted
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons chopped garlic
1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound shrimp, peeled and de-veined
2 teaspoons butter, divided

1. Combine first 9 ingredients in a large bowl; toss well. Cover and marinate in refrigerator 30 minutes.

2. Preheat oven to 425°.

3. Fold 2 sheets of heavy-duty aluminum foil in half crosswise. Open foil. Remove shrimp mixture from bowl; reserve marinade. Place half of shrimp mixture on half of each foil sheet. Drizzle remaining marinade evenly over shrimp. Top each serving with 1 teaspoon butter.

4. Fold foil over shrimp; tightly seal edges.

5. Place packets on a baking sheet. Bake at 425° for 10 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes. Unfold packets carefully, and serve immediately. Serve over rice, if desired.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Foil Packet Potatoes

The Saga of the Broken Oven continues. But with the kind of weather we've been having here lately, I'm okay with that -- because it's perfect grilling weather. Last night, Joe and I grilled out for the first time this year. His contribution was two big, juicy steaks (no one can make a steak like he can, I prefer not to even try) and my contribution was these foil packet potatoes.

Probably some of you have been making potatoes this way for years, but this was the first time I'd ever tried. And now that I've tried this method, I want to eat potatoes like this every single day. Really. Every day. They were so, so delicious. There are tons of recipes out there, but I just threw together what I had on hand: baby red potatoes, green peppers, onions and bacon. When they came off the grill, I sprinkled them with cheese and topped them with some sour cream. So, so good. So good. I see many, many foil packets of potatoes in my future.

This recipe makes two healthy-sized portions -- but Joe and I both still wanted more!

Foil Packet Potatoes
source: Cassie

8 baby red potatoes
Half of a red onion, diced
Half of a green bell pepper, diced
6 slices of bacon, fried to desired crispness and chopped
4 tablespoons butter
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Shredded colby cheese
Sour cream

1. Cut each potato in half lengthwise, then slice into half-moons. Place half of the potatoes in the center of a piece of foil; repeat process with the second half of the potatoes and a second sheet of foil. Top potatoes with red onion, bell pepper, and bacon. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Top each serving with 2 tablespoons butter.

2. Close the foil packets, being sure to seal all openings.

3. Place on the hottest part of the grill and cook for 40 minutes, turning packets over halfway through cooking.

4. Let cool 10 minutes before opening. Top each serving with shredded cheese and sour cream, if desired. Serve in foil.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Turkey Reuben Wraps

Sunday morning, my oven stopped working. One minute it was working, and the next minute it just...wasn't. We don't know what the problem is. The repair man is coming on Wednesday. I am irritated with the whole situation. Moving on.

Although I'm frustrated that the oven's not working, I do love a challenge, and putting dinner on the table without an oven -- and without resorting to take-out -- definitely presents one. Thankfully, I have my trusty Griddler to help me out. Last night, I made us warm turkey reuben wraps with it, which were delicious. Joe and I are easy people to please, food-wise, so it should be no problem for us to subsist on paninis and grilled chicken and delicious warm wraps until Wednesday. Now, if the oven needs a part and that part needs to be ordered and shipped and it takes three weeks to get to us -- well, then I may need to get a little bit more creative.

Turkey Reuben Wraps
Source: my oven-deprived brain

1 package deli-sliced oven-roasted turkey breast
4 soft taco-sized flour tortillas
1 cup sauerkraut
8 slices baby Swiss cheese
Thousand Island dressing

1. Heat tortillas in microwave, about 15 seconds or until soft and warm.

2. On one edge of each tortilla, place 2 slices of cheese. Top with a quarter of the turkey, 1/4 cup of sauerkraut, and Thousand Island dressing. Roll tortilla tightly over filling, tucking in edges so the wrap is secure.

3. Place wraps on a preheated griddle (or in a skillet, if you're lucky enough to have a working oven) and warm over low heat until outsides of wrap are just beginning to brown.

Fluffy Waffles with Cinnamon Cream Syrup

Joe and I used to go out for breakfast every Sunday morning, but in an effort to be more frugal, lately I've been making breakfast at home on the weekends. I used to make breakfast for us a lot, but at some point I just got out of the habit. It's nice to be doing it again.

I found this recipe in one of my trusty Taste of Home cookbooks, and I thought it sounded intriguing. I'd never heard of anything remotely like cinnamon cream syrup before -- but it sounded delicious, and I knew I had to give it a try. Both the waffles and the syrup turned out so well. The waffles were light and fluffy, just as the recipe's name promised, no doubt because of the beaten egg whites. In fact, I'm pretty sure that this waffle recipe is going to be my go-to base from now on.

The cinnamon cream syrup was the real star of the show, though. I couldn't use my stovetop to make it (my oven is currently defunct, a nightmare which I'd rather not discuss at this moment), so I used the microwave to heat it up. While it probably wasn't as thick as it would have been otherwise, the flavor was absolutely delicious. I thought it made the waffles taste like cinnamon toast. Joe said it tasted like Christmas, which is absolutely true. I'll definitely be making this breakfast again!

Fluffy Waffles with Cinnamon Cream Syrup
Source: Taste of Home's Best of Country Breakfast and Brunch

For the waffles:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 eggs, separated
2 cups milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil

For the syrup:
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup water
1 can (5 ounces) evaporated milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1. In a bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Combine the egg yolks, milk, and oil; stir into dry ingredients just until moistened.

2. In a small mixing bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form; fold into batter. Bake in a preheated waffle iron according to manufacturer's directions.

3. Meanwhile, for syrup, combine sugar, corn syrup and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat; cook and stir for 2 mintues or until thickened. Remove from the heat; stir in the milk, vanilla and cinnamon. Serve with waffles.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

St. Patrick's Day Cupcakes

Happy St. Patrick's Day, everyone! I've never been a big celebrator of this particular holiday (and when I say "celebrator," I mean I've never been one to go out to bars and drink green beer all day), but I'll take any excuse in the world to make some kind of festive treat!

The idea for these cupcakes came from the website Amazing Moms; I thought the idea of using Dots candies as shamrock leaves was so clever! I was going to decorate some of the cupcakes to look like the Irish flag using orange and green Dots, but I got tired of slicing candy after a while.

For the cupcakes, I used my favorite chocolate cake recipe -- Hershey's "Perfectly Chocolate" chocolate cake. The cream cheese frosting is my grandma's recipe, which is probably similar to most cream cheese frostings; the recipe is provided below. These cupcakes were so simple to decorate, and they're so incredibly moist and festive and delicious. Erin Go Bragh!

Cream Cheese Frosting
Source: my grandma

1 8-ounce package cream cheese
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
2-3 cups powdered sugar

In a large bowl, mix the cream cheese and butter until smooth, about 2 minutes. Mix in vanilla. Add powdered sugar gradually, until frosting reaches spreading consistency and desired sweetness. If not using immediately, refrigerate.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Creamy Artichoke Alfredo Sauce

I made this pasta dish for my own birthday dinner on Saturday evening. And wow, was it good! This has a lot of the same flavors as hot artichoke dip, and it was completely satisfying, creamy and delicious. It's certainly not the kind of thing you'd want to eat every day, what with all the sour cream and heavy cream and all, but it's nice to splurge every once in a while. And what better time than my birthday to do so?

I was initially worried that the lemon flavor would be too strong in this -- Joe's not a big fan of lemon -- but it was actually really subtle. Joe and I both really liked this, and so did our little Andrew...

...even though some of it didn't make it all the way to his mouth!

Creamy Artichoke Alfredo Sauce
Source: seen on A Taste of Home Cooking; adapted recipe from GroupRecipes

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small onion, chopped fine
1 garlic clove, minced
1 13.75-ounce can artichoke hearts, drained, rinsed and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup sour cream
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
Pasta of your choice (I used fettucine)

1. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat.

2. Add onion and cook until softened, about 3 to 5 minutes.

3. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

4. Increase heat to medium-high, add artichokes, and cook until slightly browned, 3 to 5 minutes.

5. Remove from heat and stir in sour cream, 1 cup heavy cream, parmesan, and lemon zest and juice.

6. Cook over low heat, do not boil, until ingredients are heated through, about 2 minutes.

7. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

8. Toss cooked pasta with sauce and the remaining 1/4 cup heavy cream. Sprinkle with extra parmesan if desired.

Crock Pot Chicken with Black Beans and Cream Cheese

Yes, I'm posting yet another Mexican-style recipe. I told you I was craving those kinds of flavors right now!

This dish is one I saw on a food blog a long time ago, but for the life of me I can't remember which one. The original recipe comes from Recipezaar. If you want a dinner that's quick and easy to throw together, and one that's also cost-effective, this is the meal for you. This was so tasty! It may not look like the most appetizing dish in the world, but let me assure you that looks are deceiving in this case. I served this over cilantro-lime rice, and we ate every bit of it!

Crock Pot Chicken with Black Beans and Cream Cheese
Source: adapted from Recipezaar

2 large boneless chicken breasts, cut in half
1 15 1/2-ounce can black beans, drained
1 15-ounce can corn, drained
1 15-ounce jar salsa, any kind (I used medium heat)
1 8-ounce package cream cheese

1. Add chicken breasts to Crock pot.

2. Add black beans, salsa, and corn.

3. Cook on Low 6 to 8 hours, or until chicken is cooked through.

4. Add cream cheese and cook for 30 more minutes. Stir to combine.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Mexican Sour Cream Rice

For some reason, I've been on a real Mexican food kick lately. I made this rice last night, and I have a couple of other Mexican-themed dishes on the menu for later this week. Those flavors and textures are what I'm really craving right now.

This rice is definitely a winner. I couldn't get enough of it! As you can see from the photo above, I used it as a filling for our soft tacos, but it's equally delicious by itself (I did some snacking last night, so I know that's true). I loved the sweetness of the corn, the tanginess of the sour cream, and the brightness of the cilantro together; it was such a perfect combination of flavors. The green chiles and pepper-jack cheese added a nice kick, but it wasn't too spicy. This was just delicious, and something I'll definitely be making over and over again!

Mexican Sour Cream Rice
Source: adapted from A Taste of Home Cooking, who got it from ...and a cookie for dessert, who got it from Allrecipes

1 cup uncooked long grain white rice (I used Minute Rice, which worked just fine)
1 14-ounce can chicken broth
1 cup sour cream
1 4-ounce can diced green chile peppers
2 cups shredded pepper-jack cheese, divided
1 1/2 cups frozen whole kernel corn
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
Salt and ground black pepper to taste

1. In a large pot, bring the rice and chicken broth to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 20 minutes (because I used Minute Rice, I decreased the simmering time to about 10 minutes).

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 1-1/2 quart casserole dish.

3. In the pot with the cooked rice, mix the sour cream, green chile peppers, 1 cup cheese, corn, and cilantro. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to the prepared casserole dish, and top with remaining cheese.

4. Bake uncovered 30 minutes in the preheated oven, until cheese is bubbly and lightly browned.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip

I seem to be a bit behind the mark regarding food blog recipe trends. A lot of times I'll see something appear on a bunch of the blogs I read, and I'll want to make it immediately, but then I get distracted -- so while the rest of the internet is posting about it, I'm not. By the time I get around to it, the "trend" has passed. This has happened to me previously with buffalo chicken dip and baked potato and broccoli soup, and it happened to me again with this recipe. I saw this ages ago on a bunch of different blogs, but the recipe went on the back burner until yesterday evening -- when I decided to make it for a very special event in my best friend's and my life.

Every Monday night, without fail, my best friend comes over to my house for one reason and one reason only: The Bachelor. We are totally addicted to this show. Even though the relationships inevitably never work out, for some reason we just can't get enough. I decided to make something special for us to snack on last night, since it was the finale, and I thought of this dip immediately. It was such a rich, sweet little treat to snack on while we watched what truly was "the most dramatic rose ceremony ever." This dip really does taste a lot like chocolate chip cookie dough, and I think it would be perfect for a bachelorette party or baby shower.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip
Source: Recipezaar

1/2 cup butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
3/4 cup semisweet mini chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)
Vanilla wafer cookies or graham crackers for dipping

1. In a small saucepan, melt the butter with the brown sugar over medium heat. Stir continuously, until the brown sugar dissolves.

2. Remove from heat, whisk in the vanilla and set aside to cool.

3. Beat the cream cheese and confectioner's sugar for 1 minute.

4. Slowly beat in the cooled butter mixture and beat again for another minute.

5. Stir in the chocolate chips and nuts, if using.

6. Pour into a serving bowl and refrigerate. Garnish with additional chocolate chips or nuts, if you choose.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Mexican Chicken Stuffed Shells

I've had my eye on a recipe for Mexican chicken manicotti in Taste of Home's Pasta Cookbook for, literally, years. I finally decided to make it last night, only to discover that, for some reason, my local grocery store "doesn't carry" manicotti shells. What kind of grocery store that wants to call itself "well-stocked" doesn't carry manicotti shells? I was irritated. But I was determined to make this, so I improvised and used jumbo shells instead. There really isn't much of a difference between the two. Both are pasta, both can be stuffed.

This turned out absolutely delicious. The sauce and filling had just the right amount of heat, and I loved the creaminess that the sour cream offered. Joe really enjoyed it too, and it's something I can definitely see myself making again and again! Thankfully, we have plenty of leftovers for lunches this week.

Mexican Chicken Stuffed Shells
Source: adapted from Taste of Home's Pasta Cookbook

1 package jumbo shells
2 cups cubed cooked chicken
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese, divided
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup sour cream
1 small onion, diced, divided
1 can (4 ounces) chopped green chilies, divided
1 can condensed cream of chicken soup, undiluted
1 cup salsa
2/3 cup milk
Cilantro, for garnish

1. Cook shells according to package directions.

2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the chicken, 1 1/2 cups Monterey Jack chese, cheddar cheese, sour cream, half of the onion and half of the chilies. In another bowl, combine the soup, salsa, milk, and remaining onion and chilies. Spread 1/2 cup of sauce in a greased 13 x 9-inch baking dish.

3. Drain shells; stuff each with a spoonful of the chicken mixture. Arrange over sauce in baking dish. Pour remaining sauce over shells.

4. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Uncover; sprinkle with remaining Monterey Jack cheese. Bake 10 minutes longer or until cheese is melted. Sprinkle with cilantro before serving.