Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Taco Tuesday - Sriracha Beef Tacos


I would like to welcome you to the introductory post for Taco Tuesdays!! I've seen other bloggers do theme days and I think the idea is so cute and so much fun!! It inspired me to think of something I love to eat, and to search for new and different recipes to fit the theme. Tacos fit the bill perfectly. I love me some tacos, any kind of taco, and there are so many varieties out there. And thus, Taco Tuesday was born!!

The taco that beat out all the others to be the first in this series, was inspired by the Sriracha Burger that I made for a recipe swap some months back. I love beef tacos, and I love a good hot sauce to go with them, so it just seemed like a natural fit to take the idea of the burger and turn it into a taco!! Just think of a beef soft taco with a spicy twist!! I had no idea what the end result would be, and to be honest it tastes nothing like the burger - but it turned out to be a damn good taco!! And do you know what one of the best things about tacos is? You can mix and match and alter the toppings to fit your taste!! Add veggies, use a different cheese...go nuts kids!! :) But whatever your topping preference, this taco is just too good to be passed up!!



Sriracha Beef Tacos
Inspired by the Sriracha Burger 

Ingredients

·         1 lb lean ground sirloin
·         1 Tbsp olive oil
·         2 cloves garlic, minced
·         1 small onion or shallot, finely chopped
·         ¼ cup water
·         2 Tbsp chili powder
·         1 Tbsp cumin
·         5 Tbsp Sriracha*, divided
·         ½  cup ranch dressing
·         8-10 flour tortillas
·         1 cup shredded Pepper Jack cheese
·         1 cup tomatoes, chopped
·         2 cups shredded lettuce

*Sriracha is pretty spicy, so adjust the amount according to your tolerance level. If you don’t do well with spicy, you may want to test it 1 tsp at a time.

Preparation

1.       Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat, add garlic and shallot and cook for 1-2 minutes, until softened. Add sirloin, stir to combine, and cook until browned.
2.       Add water, chili powder, cumin and 2 Tbsp Sriracha to sirloin mixture. Stir, reduce heat, and simmer for 5 minutes.
3.       While taco mixture finishes cooking, combine ranch dressing and remaining 3 Tbsp Sriracha in a small bowl. Set aside.
4.   Warm flour tortillas; Spoon taco mixture into tortillas and top with Sriracha sauce, cheese, lettuce and tomato.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies


I remember walking through a shaded parking lot with my mom when I was four years old, going to an ice cream shop and coming out with a cone, topped with mint chocolate chip ice cream. That is the first ice cream experience that I can remember and even now during the heat of  summer, my favorite frozen treat is mint chocolate chip ice cream.

When the summer fades and the cold weather starts to creep in, I like to stop at Starbucks for a Peppermint Mocha. Basically, I love mint and chocolate together. So, when the holiday baking season gets going, mint chocolate chip cookies are high on my priority list, and this year they made an extra early appearance. And this year I used my own sugar cookie recipe, too!!

I don't recall the texture of the cookies from previous years, but when I pulled them out of the oven this time, they were so warm, soft, and fan-freaking-tastic!! It took an immense amount of self-control to keep from eating the entire batch before dinner. But I stopped after two delicious cookies. I had intended to take them to work the following day, but just couldn't bear to part with them. (Sorry girls, I'll make some for you soon I promise!) I've heard some other people say that mint and chocolate are overdone during the holidays, and maybe that's true...but that won't stop me from making these cookies and drinking my peppermint mochas! So, if share my love for mint and chocolate you should definitely give these a try!

Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies
A Sweet Beginnings' Original Recipe

Ingredients
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp mint extract
  • 8-10 drops green food coloring 
  • 1 egg
  • 2 1/3 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 bag (12 oz) semi-sweet chocolate chips
Preparation
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Beat together butter and sugar on low speed until fluffy. Stir in flavoring, coloring, and egg; mix well.
  3. Combine flour and baking powde in a bowl and slowly mix into the sugar mixture. Once combined, stir in chocolate chips.
  4. Drop heaping tablespoon's onto foil-lined baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake 7-9 minutes until just set. Remove to cooling rack.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Liebster Award!

I opened my email last night to find a blogger award in my Inbox from Teri of The Freshman Cook. What a surprise and an honor! Thank you Teri! The Liebster Award is given to awesome blogs that have under 200 followers, but are well on their way to many more. I am so excited to have been chosen for this award and in the spirit of paying-it-forward, will pass it on to 5 other blogs that I love!


The winners are:



I will contact each of you ladies by email, and if you'd like to, you can link to my blog and pass on the award to 5 other blogs with less than 200 followers. CONGRATS!!

Turkey Cookies


These are some of the most adorable cookies I've ever seen. I've been making them now for 3 or 4 years, but one main component has changed...I no longer use the packaged sugar cookie mix, as I came up with my own recipe earlier this year!! I did use canned frosting (I know, I know) because I was short on time, but will use homemade next year, I promise!! These are easy to make, and too adorable to pass up.

I almost didn't make them this year, but seeing other versions of the cookie floating around the blogospher, and hearing T talk about making them, I just couldn't resist!! Bookmark these little cuties and add them to your menu for next year!!

Turkey Sugar Cookies
Sugar cookies are a Sweet Beginnings' original; Decorations inspired by Betty Crocker

Sweet Beginnings' Sugar Cookies
Ingredients
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1 egg
  • 2 1/3 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
Decorations
  • 1 container chocolate frosting (or your favorite homemade recipe)
  • 1 bag of candy corn
  • 1 tube of yellow decorating icing
  • 1 pkg mini m&m's
  • 1 tube black decorating gel
Preparation
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Beat together butter and sugar on low speed until fluffy. Stir in flavorings and egg, mix well.
  3. Stir in flour and baking soda.
  4. Drop heaping tablespoon's onto foil-lined baking sheet about 2 inches apart, and flatten out slightly with the back of a spoon. Bake 9-11 minutes until just set. Remove to cooling rack, and cool completely before decorating.
  5. Frost and decorate 1 cookie at a time. After spreading frosting on cookie, add candy corn for feathers. Pipe yellow icing for beak and feet. Add baking bits for eyes; pipe black gel for center of each eye.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Daring Bakers: Sans Rival




It is that time of the month once again. That's right, Daring Bakers time!! Catherine of Munchie Musings was our November Daring Bakers’ host and she challenged us to make a traditional Filipino dessert –the delicious Sans Rival cake! And for those of us who wanted to try an additional Filipino dessert, Catherine also gave us a bonus recipe for Bibingka which comes from her friend Jun of Jun-blog.

I have never worked with meringue before, so I was excited to try this Filipino dessert! Especially the chocolate variety!! I was a little disappointed when I pulled the first batch out of the oven as the edges seemed burnt and I thought I'd ruined it. But in trimming the edges to make uniform layers, all was well again. The layers are pretty thin, but I consider that a plus since thick layers would make eating a slice of the finished product more difficult ;)

The end result was a light, fluffy, very chocolatey (i.e. super-rich) treat with just a little bit of crunch from the cashews. I was very pleased!!



Sans Rival
Source: Catherine of Munchie Musings

Ingredients
  • 10 large egg whites, room temp
  • 1 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • ¼ cup Dutch processed cocoa
  • 2 cups chopped, toasted cashews
Preparation

Note: You will need four layers which will mean that you might have to bake in two batches. Be sure to use fresh parchment paper and cooled pans for each batch.
  1. Preheat oven to moderate 325°F.
  2. Line cake pan bottoms with parchment paper and butter and flour the sides really well.
  3. In a large clean, dry glass or metal mixing bowl, beat egg whites on medium until foamy (2 mins.)
  4. Sprinkle with cream of tartar. Gradually add sugar, a couple of tablespoons at a time, continuing to beat now at high speed until stiff shiny peaks form. (about 7-10 mins.)
  5. Fold in nuts, reserving enough to use for decoration.
  6. Divide meringue into four equal parts. Spread in pans, evenly to edges. If doing batches, use fresh parchment paper and cooled pans for each batch. 
  7. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove the meringue from the baking pans while still hot; allow to cool slightly. Peel off the parchment paper while it is still warm, it is difficult to remove sometimes when they have completely cooled. 
  8. When cool, trim edges so that all 4 meringue layers are uniformly shaped. Set aside.

French Buttercream

Ingredients

  • 5 large egg yolks, room temperature
  • 1 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1¼ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • Optional Flavorings: 2 oz unsweetened chocolate, melted, or 1½ teaspoon almond extract, or 1½ teaspoon vanilla extract, or any flavor you like.
Preparation
  1. Put the egg yolks in a mixing bowl. Beat at high speed until the yolks have doubled in volume and are a lemon yellow.
  2. Put the sugar and water in a heavy pan and cook over medium heat, stirring the sides down only until all the sugar is dissolved and the syrup reaches 235°F (or thread stage).
  3. With the mixer on high, very slowly pour the syrup down the sides of the bowl, until all has been added. Be careful as the very hot syrup could burn you if it splashes from the beaters. Continue beating on high until the mixture is ROOM TEMPERATURE(about 15 mins). Still on high, beat in the soft, room temperature butter a tablespoon at a time.
  4. Add flavoring after you beat in the butter. Refrigerate the buttercream for at least an hour, and whip it smooth just before you use it.
Assembly 
  1. Set bottom meringue on cake board with a dab of butter cream to hold it in place.
  2. Spread a thin layer of buttercream and then place another meringue on top. Repeat with a thin layer of buttercream, meringue, thin layer ofbuttercream, meringue, and finally buttercream the top and sides.
  3. Decorate with reserved nuts.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Eat to the Beat: Chinese Chicken Salad


When Elly from Elly Says Opa announced that she was going to resurrect Eat to the Beat in celebration of her 5 year blogging anniversary, I thought, What an awesome, fun idea!! I started thinking of how I could associate a song with anything food-related, and I don't know how it happened but suddenly Barenaked Ladies popped into my head. You know the song, "One Week" from their 1998 album, Stunt. Now, the title doesn't lend a hand in how this relates, but the part of the song that immediately took over my brain was, "Chickity China the Chinese chicken; Have a drumstick and your brain starts tickin'..."

Chickity China the Chinese chicken salad!!! How perfect is that for this event?? Well, at least I thought so anyway. Mama R made this for us when she came to visit once during my stay with T and Mr. T, so I asked for the basic ingredients and then came up with my own version of it. Delish!! And of course I can't get the song out of my head now.

I'd like to say congratulations to Elly for 5 wonderful years of blogging, and many more to come, and a big thanks for allowing us to celebrate and participate with her in this event!! Be sure to head over to Elly's page on November 30th to check out the event!

Chinese Chicken Salad

Salad
Inspired by Mama R

Ingredients
  • 2 bonless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 3 cups Napa Cabbage, shredded (or use Angel Hair Coleslaw)
  • 3 scallions, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups Mandarin orange segments
  • 1 cup cripsy Chow Mein noodles
Preparation
  1. Place chicken broth, garlic, and ginger in a pot or deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken breasts and poach until no longer pink in the middle, about 5-7 minutes. Remove from pot and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Set aside to cool.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare the dressing (recipe below) and set aside.
  3. Once the chicken has cooled, use two forks to shred (or cut into bite-sized pieces if you prefer).
  4. In  a large bowl, layer the cabbage, chicken, mandarin oranges, and scallions. Drizzle with dressing and top with Chow Mein noodles. (You can also do this in individual bowls the same way.)
Sesame-Ginger Dressing
Adapted from Eating Well

Ingredients
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup reduced-fat mayo or miracle whip
  • 2 Tbsp ground ginger
  • 1 Tbsp minced scallions
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp honey
Preparation

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir until well blended. You may want to add more vinegar and/or ginger and sesame oil to reach your desired taste. (I had to play a bit with mine to get the flavors I wanted.)

Friday, November 25, 2011

Firecracker Shrimp



I'm sure right now you are all recovering from a huge feast of Thanksgiving delights and the last thing you want to look at or think about is more food! Even for those who wait all year for this big day, after gorging on turkey and fixin's it's hard to look at food for awhile. So, today's post is a little lighter fare, for after your stomach has settled and you can think of food again! I hope you all had a wonderful day filled with love, laughter, and good food!

I came across this recipe while browsing the blog Paved with Good Intentions, and I couldn't wait to get it on the menu! I love shrimp and I love spicy glazes, so this couldn't have sounded more perfect to me! I did, however, run across some obstacles. It's a pretty simple recipe, but for some reason the panko just didn't want to stick, and therefore didn't stay put during the pan-frying process either. Trying to turn the shrimp resulted in pulling what panko was remaining off and it cooked on it's own in the pan. Not ideal.

No big deal, I like shrimp without coating too, so I went to make the sauce. Because it used Sriracha, I was excited but careful on how much I put in. I didn't want to singe my tastebuds before I could actually taste it all together. After mixing and them combining with the shrimp, I have to admit that I was a bit underwhelmed. It wasn't bad by any means, but I think I was expecting a bit more punch of flavor. Next time I will add a bit more Sriracha :) but for those who aren't quite as big of fans of spicy, the sauce will be perfect for you!!


Firecracker Shrimp

Ingredients
· 1/2 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
· 1/4 cup buttermilk
· 1 cup panko
· 2 Tbsp canola oil
· 1 cup sweet chili sauce
· 1 tsp Sriracha
· 1 tsp fish sauce
· 1 Tbsp sesame oil

Preparation
  1. Dip shrimp in buttermilk and coat with panko.
  2. Heat oil in skillet until hot. Fry shrimp 3-4 minutes, until crispy.
  3. Whisk chili sauce, sriracha, fish sauce, and sesame oil.
  4. Toss shrimp in sauce and serve hot!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Since we will all be inundated with food today, I thought I would spare you all having to see even more of it, when your bellies are full and you can't stand the thought of one.more.bite. Instead I will wish you all a wonderful day and see you back here tomorrow with more great food!


 
Image Detail
Image from Yahoo Images

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

What's Baking: Savory Sausage and Cheese Scones



A while back, the What's Baking theme was Something Local, and during my search for a local ingredient, my co-worker actually suggested a couple of things, one being Aurelia's Spanish Style Grillers Chorizo. Also at her suggestion, I came up with a recipe for a sausage and cheese scone but didn't make it for that month's challenge. And thank goodness I didn't because the theme this month, hosted by Jey of The Jey of Cooking is Savory Baking. Could there have been a more perfect theme for these beauties?? And best of all, these sausages are actually made in my hometown, Boerne, Texas. It's a smaller town so it's kind of a big deal for me to come across these in Austin!

Anywho...I'm fairly new to pastry experimentation and in the original recipe I included a little bit of sugar but after tasting them - although insanely delicious - I decided to omit the sugar from the recipe. Trial and error right? Scones are often thought to be fruity and/or sweet (I know that's how I like them usually), but after making these I am definitely sold on the savory version of scones! They will definitely be making a reappearance in my kitchen, and co-worker that suggested them was pleased as punch when I brought them to work!



Savory Sausage & Cheese Scones
A Sweet Beginnings' Original Recipe

Ingredients

·         3 ¼ cups  all-purpose flour
·         2 ½ teaspoons  baking powder
·         ¾  cup  butter
·         1 lb (about 3 links) Aurelia’s Spanish Style Grillers Chorizo
·         1 cup shredded Manchego Cheese
·         1 cup shredded Quattro Formaggi Cheese
·         cup  buttermilk

Preparation
1. In a large mixing bowl, stir together flour and baking powder. With a pastry blender or fork, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
2. Cut chorizo into bite-sized pieces.
3. Stir in cheese and sausage. Make a well in the center of the dry mixture; add buttermilk all at once. Using a fork, stir until just moistened.
4. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead about 20 strokes or until dough is nearly smooth.
5. On lightly floured surface, pat the dough to about 3/4-inch-thick. Cut out dough using a biscuit cutter, or cut into triangles or squares, if you prefer. Place scones 1 inch apart on ungreased baking sheet.
6. Bake in a 400 degree F oven for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden. Cool on a wire rack 5 minutes. Serve warm.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Chicken Asparagus Lasagna


It's a good thing I wasn't born to an Italian family or I would likely have been disowned at a very young age. I say this because I am not a fan of marinara sauce in any form. I mean, sure I like pizza, but in pasta dishes I much prefer a white or butter-garlic sauce. I know, I know a lot of people think I'm crazy, especially those who either are Italian, or who dearly love all Italian cuisine. I'm not saying that I never eat a dish with marinara sauce involved because that would be nearly impossible, I'm just saying it's not my favorite.

That said, a few years back I went on a hunt for a lasagna recipe that used a white sauce and chicken. I came across this one on my old trusty, Betty Crocker website. Chicken, asparagus, cheese and a creamy white sauce.wrapped in lasagna noodles..how could it get more perfect than that?? I've made this dish on a number of occasions for friends and family and it's been a great success on all but the first time (no matter what people tell you, don't ever use the no-cook noodles!) I actually consider this one of my go-to meals if I'm going to have company. Paired with a great salad and some garlic bread, it is the perfect meal for a gathering of friends or family.

So, if you are looking for an alternate lasagna recipe or just a great addition to the pasta section of your recipe book, this one never disappoints!

Chicken Asparagus Lasagna
Source: Betty Crocker

Ingredients
  • 9 uncooked lasagna noodles 
  • 2 pounds asparagus, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon olive or vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper seasoning salt
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 3/4 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram leaves
  • 2 cups diced cooked chicken
  • 3/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese 
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

Preparation
  1. Heat oven to 350ºF. Grease rectangular baking dish, 13x9x2 inches. Cook and drain noodles as directed on package.
  2. Heat 5 cups water to boiling in 3-quart saucepan. Add asparagus; heat to boiling. Boil 3 to 4 minutes or until crisp-tender; drain. Place asparagus in bowl. Toss with oil and lemon pepper seasoning salt.
  3. Melt butter in 2-quart saucepan over medium heat. Stir in flour. Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in broth, milk and marjoram. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Stir in chicken and 1/2 cup of the Parmesan cheese. Cook about 2 minutes or until hot.
  4. Spread about 1/2 cup of the chicken mixture in baking dish. Top with 3 noodles, 1 1/2 cups chicken mixture, half of the asparagus and 1 cup of the mozzarella cheese. Repeat layers, starting with noodles. Top with remaining 3 noodles.
  5. Beat whipping cream in chilled small bowl with electric mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form. Spread over top of lasagna. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Bake uncovered 40 to 45 minutes or until hot in center and top is golden brown. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Secret Recipe Club: Chocolate Cherry Muffins


I know you might be thinking, didn't she just have an SRC post a couple of weeks ago? Why yes, I did. But I volunteered to be a fill-in should anyone's blog ever be unexpectedly orphaned, and I was called upon today to make good on my offer. And gladly so! I was given the blog Samayal Arai, which has a lot of Indian recipes, as well as eggless and healthy options! Because I wanted to make something quickly so that the post could be added to the round-up, I wanted to select something fairly simple (Indian food can sometimes take more time, and even though it would be worth it, I was more concerned with being timely) and when I saw these muffins, I knew they'd be a winner!! Stop by her blog and check out the array of fantastic recipes she has to offer!!

The Secret Recipe Club is an awesome way to gain exposure to blogs that you may not find on your own, and recipes that you may never think to try. If you are interested in joining, we'd love to have you! Go to the link above and check it out!!



Chocolate Cherry Muffins
Slightly adapted from Samayal Arai

Ingredients

·         1 1/4 c. flour
·         1/2 c. whole wheat flour
·         2 t. baking powder
·         1/2 t. baking soda
·         1/4 t. salt
·         2 T. cocoa powder
·         3/4 c. sugar
·         1/2 c. chocolate chips
·         1/2 c. cherries
·         1 c. milk
·         1/2 c. oil
·         1 egg
·         1 t. pure vanilla extract

Preparation

1.     In a large bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients, including the chocolate chips and cherries.
2.     In a small bowl, whisk together the milk, oil, egg and vanilla extract.
3.     Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir just until completely moistened and combined.
4.    Fill muffin cups about 2/3 full and bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.


Double Fudge Cream Cheese Brownies



A good box of brownie mix is hard to beat when you have a chocolatey craving, but I'm trying to make most if not all of my baked goods from scratch these days and brownies are one thing that I have never attempted to make on my own before. I did, however, have a couple of recipes in my nifty little binder that were begging to be the first one chosen. I am a huge fan of cream cheese-anything, so when I saw double fudge and cream cheese together I thought, Hells Yeah!!

The recipe was great and made a thick, chocolatey brownie with a nice little layer of cream cheese deliciousness. A perfect weekend treat, but I do have to warn you - these are thick and rich, so you might need to share and have a glass of milk nearby ;)

Double Fudge Cream Cheese Brownies
Source: Cooks.com

Ingredients

Brownies
  • 1 c. butter
  • 4 (1 oz.) sq. unsweetened chocolate
  • 2 c. sugar
  • 1 1/2 c. flour
  • 4 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
Preparation
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees and line 9 x 13 inch pan with foil or spray with cooking spray. 
  2. In 2 quart saucepan combine 1 cup butter and unsweetened chocolate. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until melted (4-6 minutes).
  3. Stir in remaining ingredients, except chocolate chips. Fold in chocolate chips. Spread half of batter into pan.
  4. In a small bowl combine the filling.
Filling
  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • 2 tsp. butter, softened
  • 3 oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp. flour
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  1. Spread filling over brownie mixture.
  2. Spoon remaining batter over cream cheese. (Batter will not entirely cover cream cheese mixture.)
  3. Bake 30-35 minutes or until brownies pull away from sides of pan.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Recipe Swap: Latin-Style Chicken & Rice



Since we are in the midst of the holiday season - can you believe Thanksgiving is already next week?? - it is safe to say that most of us are busy, busy, busy trying to prepare for holiday dinners, get-togethers, parties, or whatnot and while our time may be limited we still have to eat, we just may not have as much time to prepare and clean-up after meals. That is why this month's theme for my cooking board's recipe swap was perfect - one-pot meals! Throw everything in a pot, let it cook while you do other things, and then you only have one pot and a few dishes from dinner to clean up afterwards instead of an entire kitchen. How awesome is that??

I got a recipe from Mary Ellen of Mary Ellen's Cooking Creations that allowed me to use two of my favorite quickie foods - chicken and rice!! It didn't hurt that I also got to use saffron, which is a treat! Oh, but I was reminded that I do not like peas! Easy to pick out though and the chicken and rice were delicious! After an extremely busy week at work and no signs of things slowing down for the upcoming week of Thanksgiving celebrations, it was nice to have a low-maintenance meal to wind the week down with. Thaks Mary Ellen for a great one-pot meal!!

To see the rest of the one-pot meals in the swap, check out the round-up on Sarah's blog

Latin-Style Chicken and Rice 

Ingredients

·         3 chicken breasts, lightly seasoned with salt and pepper
·         1 Tbsp unsalted butter
·         1 Tbsp olive oil
·         1/2 large onion, chopped
·         3 cloves of garlic, minced
·         1 cup medium or long-grain rice
·         1 cup low sodium chicken broth
·         3/4 cup water
·         1/4 tsp crumbled saffron threads
·         1 bay leaf
·         1/2 cup frozen peas, not thawed

Preparation

  1. Heat butter and oil in a heavy skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat until foam subsides
  2. Add chicken, cook approximately 4-5 min per side. Transfer chicken to a plate. Cook onion and garlic with 1/4 tsp each salt and pepper over medium heat until golden, about 6 minutes.
  3. Add rice and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
  4. Add broth, water, bay leaf, and saffron; bring to a full boil.
  5. Return chicken to the pot, nestling it in the rice, keeping as much rice around, not under, the chicken. Also add any juices from the plate.
  6. Cover tightly and simmer over low heat until the chicken is cooked through, the rice is tender, and most of the liquid has absorbed; about 20-25 minutes.
  7. Remove from heat and stir in peas.
  8. Cover pot with a kitchen towel, and then the lid, and let stand until all of the liquid has absorbed, about 15 minutes. Discard bay leaf.


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Squares


It seems that I have fallen victim to the power of pumpkin. For someone who doesn't particularly love pumpkin, I have made quite a few desserts featuring it in the last couple of weeks. It seems that I am attempting as many varieties as I can think of. The most recent flavor combination to intrigue me was pumpkin and chocolate, and when I came across this recipe, I knew it was just different enough to try!! Not a cookie, loaf, muffin, or pie as I see on an almost daily basis since Fall has begun, but a nice dessert that is great for a party or get-together, even Thanksgiving! The more I try these pumpkin desserts, the more I am becoming a fan.

Pumpkin Chocolate-Chip Squares
Source: Martha Stewart

Ingredients
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, (spooned and leveled)
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin-pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 1 package (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
Preparation
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line bottom and sides of a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with foil, leaving an overhang on all sides. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, pie spice, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
  2. With an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar on medium-high speed until smooth; beat in egg and vanilla until combined. Beat in pumpkin puree (mixture may appear curdled). Reduce speed to low, and mix in dry ingredients until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips.
  3. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan. Bake until edges begin to pull away from sides of pan and a toothpick inserted in center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool completely in pan.
  4. Lift cake from pan (using foil as an aid). Peel off foil, and use a serrated knife to cut into 24 squares.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Chicken, Potato & Green Bean Salad


I've been craving salad lately, but never seem to remember to fix one with my dinner. So, instead I decided to make the salad as the entree instead of as a side. As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program, I received a coupon for Green Giant Valley Fresh Steamers and I wanted to do something different than just preparing them as a side dish. I purchased the Roasted Red Potatoes, Green Beans and Rosemary Butter Sauce, and after the Steak & Potato Salad I had awhile back I decided to try grilling some lemon pepper chicken and mixing it all together with some spring salad mix and I am happy to report that it turned out deeelicious!

There are several varieties of the Valley Fresh Steamers, some with sauce and some without, and they make a great (quick) addition to any meal so I will definitely be stocking the freezer with a few bags!


Picture from Google Images

Chicken, Potato & Green Bean Salad

Ingredients
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 Tbsp lemon pepper seasoning
  • 1 bag of Green Giant Valley  Fresh Steamers Roasted Red Potato, Green Beans, and Rosemary Butter Sauce
  • 3 cups of Spring Salad Mix
Preparation
  1. Season chicken with lemon pepper seasoning, cook, and cut into bite-sized pieces.
  2. Meanwhile, cook the Steamer according to package directions.
  3. Divide salad evenly among bowls and top with chicken and potato mixture. Add your favorite dressing if desired and enjoy!
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