Friday, December 31, 2010

Top Ten of 2010

This was not easy to do but below is a list of the top ten recipes on this blog from 2010. While I feel that all of the recipes posted here are worthy of repeating (believe you me, there are some disasters that simply do not make the cut), there are a handful of recipes that I simply love, love, love and would highly recommend to anyone. Here are my top ten, in alphabetical order:

ADOBO CHICKEN TACOS - East meets west in this delicious, savory meal. The traditional Filipino meat can easily be devoured on its own but tortillas, cream, and cilantro create a perfect home for such a deliciously seasoned and slow-cooked meat.


CHICKEN PARMESAN WITH MARINARA - This simple Italian dish can be made quickly with ingredients that are likely to already be in your kitchen. I feel like every cook should have this recipe in your repertoire. Many of you probably already do, but this is the recipe I choose. A classic goody.


CHICKEN TIKKA MASALA - I always figured Indian food was difficult, until I discovered this dish. Creamy, fragrant, perfect for spicing things up a bit.


CHOCOLATE SOUFFLE CUPCAKES WITH MINT CREAM - Oh my. If I were stranded on a desert island and could only bring one dessert with me, this would be it. You'll feel like you're biting into a piece of heaven when you eat this.


FRESH CALIFORNIA ORANGE CAKE - This citrus delight is perfect for summer gatherings. I always say it, but fresh ingredients make all the difference. This one sure has it.


GOOD OLD-FASHIONED PANCAKES - This has definitely become my go-to pancake recipe. It always makes a perfectly browned pancake and is very easy to flip. I appreciate recipes that are reliable. This one definitely is.


GRILLED SALMON WITH LIME-BUTTER SAUCE - Here's another one that is great for summer but I love to make it year-round. I've learned that butter makes things better, especially seafood. This one blends butter perfectly with lime juice to bring out the natural flavors in salmon. So simple.


LEMONY SHRIMP WITH WHITE BEANS AND COUSCOUS - Shrimp and couscous has become one of my go-to combinations, as you can tell from this other great shrimp-couscous combo. This is one of those dishes that looks impressive but can be ready in 15 minutes if you need it to be.


RITA'S SIMPLE AND PERFECT HUMMUS - I will always love this recipe because it is my amazing grandmother (who is also my number one cooking inspiration)'s signature recipe. Rita is not only an amazing cook but an amazing hostess and one of her tricks is always having some homemade hummus for your guests.


SIMPLE ORZOTTO - Last but certainly not least is this simple orzotto recipe from Kelsey Nixon. I have made this more times than I imagined because it is the. perfect. side dish. It is easy, delicious, and most importantly, versatile.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Homemade Peppermint Patties

I mentioned earlier that I love peppermint. Chocolate Peppermint Ice Cream Cake is an amazing treat, but (hard to believe, I know), it doesn't exactly travel well and it's not the easiest thing to tie up in a bow and give away to loved ones as a gift. This, however, is the perfect solution for that. Please take a minute amongst the holiday madness to whip up a batch of these, sink your teeth into the soft chocolate-y, minty goodness, and let out a good sigh. Your body will thank you. Then give the rest to friends and tell them to do the same thing. 

Recipe from Savory Sweet Life

Makes 32 patties

INGREDIENTS:

1 can of condensed milk
5 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1 Tablespoon peppermint extract
3 cups semisweet chocolate chips
3 Tablespoons shortening

DIRECTIONS:

Add condensed milk, 2 cups powdered sugar, and peppermint extract to a large mixing bowl. Mix everything on medium speed until all the ingredients are well incorporated. Add more powdered sugar, one half cup at a time, until the dough is pliable, like firm modeling clay.

Roll 3/4" balls of dough between the palms of the hands and set on a flat cutting board or baking sheet covered with wax paper. When all balls have been laid out, press each one lightly to flatten into a disc shape. Transfer the peppermint discs to the freezer for no longer than 30 minutes. While the dough is chilling, temper the chocolate coating.

Place chocolate chips in a microwafe-safe bowl. Melt the chocolate in 30 second increments, making sure to stir after each time, until the chocolate is smooth. Stir in shortening to thin the chocolate and remove patties from the freezer.

Place a patty on the tines of a fork and dip in the chocolate until completely covered. Allow excess chocolate to drip off the patty before setting on top of wax or parchment paper. Allow the peppermint patties to completely set up. This can be quickened by placing patties in the fridge. The peppermint patties are ready when they are dry to the touch.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Sugar and Spice Candied Nuts

Sugar and spice and everything nice. There's no time like the holidays for sweet treats. A couples weeks ago, my mom and I woke up early to check out a sample sale and once we were finished shopping, my mom said, "I'm so hungry!" I pulled out a plastic baggy of these nuts, and they were the perfect, mid-morning energy boost. I can use all the energy boosts I can right around this time. 

Recipe from Buns In My Oven

INGREDIENTS:

2 pounds nuts (any kind, including mixed nuts)
2 egg whites, room temperature
2 tablespoons water
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 1/3 cup white granulated sugar
3 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or paprika if your palate is more mild)
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

DIRECTIONS:

Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees. Add nuts to large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg whites and water until frothy. Pour over nuts and stir to coat all the nuts. In a separate bowl, mix together the sugars, salt, cayenne pepper, and cinnamon. Pour over nuts and stir to coal. Spread nuts in a single layer on a parchment (or wax paper) lined baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from oven and separate nuts if they are stuck together. Serve warm or at room temperature. Store in airtight container.  

Friday, December 17, 2010

Lemon Chicken Farfalle

Sometimes you just want a good, quick, pasta-chicken dish with cream sauce. Well, at least I do. Growing up, my favorite dish, hands down, was fettuccine alfredo. You can imagine my disappointment when I grew up and realized that this lovely, pasta, creamy, delicious delight was one of the least healthiest dishes possible. Sad, sad day. Not to say I still don't indulge in it now and then.

I love to get my pasta-cream sauce fix and this is a perfect dish for that. Oh, and it doesn't take a ton of time. You can go from nothing to something great in less than 30 minutes. Enjoy!

From Jenna at JustCookAlready.com

INGREDIENTS:

salt and pepper
olive oil
4-6 garlic cloves, minced
3-4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, sliced
1 cup frozen baby peas (optional)
1 cup carrots, cut into small strips
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
6 Tablespoons cream cheese
6 cups farfalle (bowtie) pasta, cooked
9 Tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

DIRECTIONS:

Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil. Add garlic and sauté for one minute, being careful not to burn. Add chicken. Sauté until almost cooked through. Add carrots and peas and sauté about 1-2 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.

Add broth and cream cheese to pan and cook over medium-high heat until cheese melts, stirring constantly with a whisk. Stir in chicken mixture, farfalle, and next four ingredients. Cook about 1 minute.

Serve and enjoy.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Chocolate Peppermint Ice Cream Cake

"I passed through the seven levels of the Candy Cane forest, through the sea of swirly twirly gum drops, and then I walked through the Lincoln Tunnel."

-Buddy the Elf

When you eat this, you will feel like you are walking through a Candy Cane forest, and it will be amazing. To me, peppermint is bliss. I enjoy it any time of year, but around the holidays, it is especially delightful and seems to be quite plentiful. I don't think anything screams holiday more than this dessert, so if you're looking for something to impress a dinner party, this is it.

I'll end with one more quote from Buddy the Elf.

"We elves try to stick to the four main food groups: candy, candy canes, candy corns and syrup."

I think Buddy would love this cake.  

Recipe from Bon Appétit

INGREDIENTS:

{For Crust}:
1/2 cup unsalted butter
8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped (or you can use chocolate chips)
1 9-oz package chocolate wafer cookies (or equal amounts oreo cookies)

{For Glaze}:
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup light corn syrup
6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped (or choc. chips)

{For Filling}:
1/2 gallon premium peppermint ice cream*

*If you can't find peppermint ice cream, you may make your own by adding 2 teaspoons peppermint extract and 1 1/4 cups coarsely crushed candy canes to one 1/2 gallon of vanilla ice cream. (I prefer to use mini candy canes for this method and keep them in the packaging before you crush them.)

DIRECTIONS:

Start by making the crust. Melt butter with chocolate in heavy small saucepan over low heat. Finely grind cookies in processor. Add warm chocolate mixture. Blend just until crumbs are moistened. Reserve one cup crumb mixture in a small bowl. Press remaining crumb mixture onto bottom and sides of a 9-inch diameter springform pan. Freeze.

For the glaze: Bring cream and corn syrup to boil in heavy large saucepan. Remove from heat. Add chocolate. Whisk until melted and smooth. Let stand until cool but still pourable, about one hour.

For filling: Spoon half of the ice cream into crust. Spread evenly. Place remaining ice cream in the freezer. Sprinkle reserved 1 cup cookie crumbs over ice cream in pan; press gently. Pour 1 cup chocolate glaze over ice cream in pan. Freeze 1 hour. Top with remaining ice cream; spread evenly. Freeze until firm, about 4 hours. Stir remaining glaze over low heat just until pourable but not warm. Pour glaze over ice cream. Spread evenly and freeze overnight. 

When ready to eat, run a sharp knife between crust and pan sides to loosen cake. Release pan sides. Transfer cake to platter. Garnish cake with crushed candy cane bits and serve.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Potato Latkes

Happy Hanukkah! In celebration of the last night of the 8-crazy-nights Jewish holiday, I am posting a recipe for potato latkes. These are de-lish. Also, here is a very fitting song for Hanukkah and latkes (Thanks Katie). Listen to it, but beware, it will get stuck in your head. 

Adapted from AllRecipes.com

INGREDIENTS:

4 cups peeled and shredded potatoes (about 3-4 large potatoes)
1/4 onion, finely chopped
3 eggs, beaten
4 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
oil for frying

DIRECTIONS:

Place the potatoes in a cheesecloth or old dish towel and wring, extracting as much moisture as possible.

In a medium bowl, stir together the potatoes, onion, eggs, flour and salt.

In a large, heavy-bottomed skillet, heat the oil until hot. Place large spoonfuls of the potato mixture into the hot oil, pressing down on them to form 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick patties. Brown on one side (about 3 minutes). Turn, and brown on the other (about 2 minutes). Let drain on paper towels. Serve hot!

SERVING SUGGESTION:

Serve with cinnamon applesauce on top.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Cinnamon Applesauce

Someone I know well has a deep love for applesauce. According to this person, applesauce is "the perfect food: it's a solid and a liquid, sweet but not overbearing, goes down smooth." I love this person. And he loves this applesauce.  

Adapted from Just Cook Already

INGREDIENTS:

5 apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup water
juice of half a lemon

DIRECTIONS:

Place apples and water in a saucepan over medium-high heat. When water starts to boil, lower heat to medium, cover, and let simmer until apples are sauce and slightly mushy, about 15 minutes.

When apples are soft, remove from heat and add nutmeg, cinnamon, sugar, and lemon juice. Using a potato masher or a fork, mash all ingredients together until desired consistency is reached. Serve warm or chill in a covered container in the refrigerator.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Roasted Chicken with Lemon, Garlic, and Thyme

(Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!!!)

Here it is. I've been wanting to learn how to roast a whole chicken for a while now, but I've been hesitant to invest in a roasting pan. Then, I found out that you don't need a roasting pan! All you need is a 9"x13" pan, and some long carrot strips and celery stalks to keep the chicken raised from off the bottom of the pan. (Thank you, Kelsey Nixon.)
(Here's the pretty baby in all it's roasted glory.)

So I went ahead, purchased the whole chicken, pulled out all the innerds (kind of disgusting for me, but I got over it) and followed this recipe for a delicious full roasted chicken dinner. It was delicious. I feel very official now. Maybe someday I'll be able to conquer a Thanksgiving Turkey.


INGREDIENTS:

1 6-pound roasting chicken
4 Tablespoons, unsalted butter, softened
3 Tablespoons minced fresh thyme, plus 1 handful for stuffing
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 teaspoons fresh lemon zest
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 lemon, quartered
1 onion, coarsely chopped
3 celery stalks
3 carrots, unpeeled cut in half
1 cup chicken broth
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Rinse the chicken and pat it dry. Be sure to get it really dry. 

In a small bowl, make a compound butter by combining the butter, 3 Tablespoons minced thyme, garlic, lemon zest, salt, and pepper. 

Season the cavity of the chicken generously with salt and pepper. Stuff the cavity with lemon quarters, a handful of fresh thyme leaves, and onion chunks. Place the carrot, celery, and additional onion chunks in the bottom of a roasting pan (or 9"x13" metal baking pan) and place the chicken on top of the vegetables. Cross the legs of the chicken and tie with kitchen twine, or a rubber band. 

Gently lift the skin away from the chicken and spread 2 Tablespoons of the softened butter mixture underneath the skin, distributing it evenly. Spread the remaining butter mixture over the entire surface of the chicken and season generously with salt and pepper. 

Place the chicken in the oven and roast for 20 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 375 degrees and and roast the chicken until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the inner thigh, not touching the bone, registers 160-165 degrees F, about 45 minutes. 

Transfer the chicken and vegetable to a cutting board to rest for about 15 minutes. Tent the chicken with aluminum foil to keep warm.

Now for the best part, the GRAVY. Pour the pan juices into a large glass measuring cup. Spoon the fat off the top. Add the chicken broth to the roasting pan and place over high heat. Bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits. Return the pan juices to the pan. Whisk the flour into the broth mixture and bring to a boil until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Season the sauce to taste with salt and pepper, pour into a gravy boat, and serve alongside the chicken. 

SERVING SUGGESTION:

Serve with delicious mashed red potatoes

COOKING VARIATIONS:

Honey-Glazed Chicken: Season the butter with 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, and 2 Tablespoons honey.

Soy-Ginger Chicken: Season the butter with 1 Tablespoon minced garlic, 2 teaspoons fresh ginger, and 2 teaspoons soy sauce. 

Monday, December 6, 2010

Mashed Red Potatoes with Garlic and Parmesan

I love mashed potatoes, especially when they are homemade. I love tasting the chunks of real potatoes and feeling the skin mixed in with all the goodness. Holidays are the perfect time of year to perfect your potato mashing skills, but mashed potatoes are so good, they can be enjoyed year-round. This red potato recipe is so simple and keeps measuring to a minimum. Oh yeah, and these taste amazing. I was asked to make this recipe for Thanksgiving this year but seeing as I flew in the morning of, potato mashing duties were deferred to my lovely aunt.

I definitely cooked these up the week after Thanksgiving though. Just can't get enough.


INGREDIENTS:

2.5 pounds red potatoes, unpeeled, quartered
3 cloves garlic, peeled
2 Tablespoons butter
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

DIRECTIONS:

Put potatoes and garlic in a large pan. Cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer until potatoes are tender, about 25 minutes. Drain well. Return potatoes to the pan and mash with butter, milk, and salt. Stir in the parmesan cheese.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Magnolia Bakery Banana Pudding


My first experience with Magnolia Bakery occurred a little over three years ago. I had just moved to New York for a spring internship and was told by so many people that Magnolia had the most amazing cupcakes and banana pudding. When my family came out to visit toward the end of June, I dragged them through the rain to this delightful bakery in Greenwich Village, reassuring them the whole way, "trust me, their banana pudding is to die for." 

After oohing and aahing over all of the delectable treats while waiting in line, I'll never forget my dad's nervous, rambling order at the busy counter. It was like it was his last meal or something. Afraid to miss out on anything, we walked away with about a dozen and a half cupcakes of various flavors, two large cartons of banana pudding, a healthy slice of icebox pudding, and a sampling of Toffee Pecan Drop cookies. I think there may have been a helping of cheesecake thrown in there just for good measure. We were laughing the whole subway ride home at the amount of sugar we had just purchased, all to be consumed by about five people.

Well, I'm happy to say that, last night, my Dad went gaga over this banana pudding the same way he did over three years ago in our Times Square hotel room. Munching on my homemade version of the Magnolia recipe, he kept asking, "Is this low-fat? This is lite, right?" I kept lying to him yes, because I didn't want to ruin his experience. The truth is, this is not low-fat. If you ate it everyday, you would be fat. But sometimes, you just need to INDULGE!!!!! 

From More From Magnolia by Allysa Torey

INGREDIENTS:

1 (14-oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
1-1/2 cups ice cold water
1 (3.4 oz.) package instant vanilla pudding mix (preferably Jell-O brand)
3 cups heavy cream (equal to 1.5 pints)
1 (12 oz.) box Nabisco Nilla Wafers (no substitutions!)
4 cups sliced ripe bananas (this was about 6 bananas for me)

DIRECTIONS:

In a medium bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat together the sweetened condensed milk and water until well combined, about 1 minute. Add the pudding mix and beat well, about 2 minutes more. Cover and refrigerate for 3-4 hours or overnight, before continuing.

**It is very important to allow the proper amount of time for the pudding mixture to set.**

In a large bowl, on the medium-high speed of an electric mixer, whip the heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the pudding mixture into the whipped cream until well blended and no streaks of pudding remain.

To assemble the dessert, select a large, wide bowl (preferably glass) with a 4-5 quart capacity. Arrange one-third of the wafers to cover the bottom of the bowl, overlapping if necessary. (There are about 90 wafers in a 12 oz. box of Nilla Wafers, so 30 should be about the right number. Top wafers with one-third of the bananas, then one-third of the pudding. Repeat the layering twice more, garnishing with additional wafers or bananas on the top layer of the pudding. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and allow to chill in the refrigerator for 4 hours or up to 8 hours, but no longer.
Serve and enjoy your delicious hearts out!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Prosciutto-Pepper Whole-Grain Spaghetti

There are so many options with pasta. It's easy to think of pasta pairings in two categories: tomato sauce or cream sauce. But there are many different ways than just tomato or cream to flavor a delightful pasta dish. This recipe is a perfect example. 

It's a tasty winter-y delight. I hope you enjoy.

*Adapted from Giada de Laurentiis

INGREDIENTS:

1 pound whole-grain spaghetti (or linguine)
2 Tablespoons peppercorns, coarsely ground (about 2 teaspoons ground)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) grated parmesan, romano, or pecorino cheese
6 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto or pancetta (if using pancetta, be sure to cook for about 5 min. first)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

DIRECTIONS:

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 8-10 minutes.

While the pasta is cooking, heat a small, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium high heat. Add the ground peppercorns and toast for about 20-30 seconds. Add the oil and cook for 1 minute. Remove the pan from heat. 

Drain the pasta, reserving about 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Transfer the spaghetti to a large serving bowl. Add 1 cup of the cheese, and toss to combine, gradually adding reserved pasta water as needed to loosen up the pasta. Add the oil mixture, prosciutto or pancetta, 2 Tablespoons of parsley, and 2 Tablespoons of basil. Toss well to combine all ingredients. 

Garnish with remaining cheese, parsley, and basil. 

Monday, November 8, 2010

Chocolate-y No-Bake Cookies


I remember cooking these in college with my good friend Leah. They're great for college kids because they don't require any "baking" ingredients like baking soda or baking powder (things college kids don't usually stock up their kitchens with). The other night, I wanted a chocolate-y treat and I wanted it fast. This was the perfect solution. Chewy, chocolate-y goodness.

*From browneyedbaker.com

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup milk
4 Tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 cup peanut butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups quick-cooking oats

DIRECTIONS:

Add butter, sugar, milk, and cocoa powder to a 4-quart saucepan. Stir until butter is melted, bring to a rolling boil and let boil for about 1 minute. Remove from heat.

Stir in the peanut butter and vanilla until smooth, then stir in oats.

Drop by heaping tablespoons onto wax paper-lined baking sheets. Let cool until set.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Turkey-Gouda Meatballs

 Meatball. Or meat-a-ball. It doesn't always sound like the most appealing of dishes to me...a ball of meat? Really? BUT...what if you take a ball of meat, add an incredible blend of savory spices and some mouth-watering cheese? Well, I did, and that changed my mind about meatballs. 

I'm always looking for ingredients that use ground turkey and this is by far the best use of ground turkey that I have ever tasted. The original recipe called for ground beef, but since I prefer the health benefits of turkey over beef I used turkey and, my oh my, in the words of Joey Lawrence from Blossom, "Whoa!". These meatballs are just scrumptious. You can serve them as an appetizer on toothpicks or as a main dish with basmati rice and BBQ sauce. You will be happy.

*Adapted from allrecipes.com

INGREDIENTS:

1 Tablespoon minced garlic
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (may substitute with dry)
1 Tablespoon dried basil (or oregano)
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
1 1/2 teaspoons prepared yellow mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup crumbled gouda cheese (may substitute with pepperjack or mozzarella)
1 1/2 pounds ground turkey (may substitute with ground beef)
1/2 large onion, sliced into thin rings (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

In a large bowl, combine first 11 ingredients. Mix well with your hands, making sure the cheese is evenly distributed. 

Roll the mixture into 1 1/2 inch balls and place in a lightly greased skillet. Place the rings of onion over the meatballs. Cover the pan and set the heat to medium-low. Turn the meatballs over after about 3 minutes and increase the heat to medium. Continue to cook the meatballs, turning every 8-10 minutes until cooked through (about 25-30 minutes total). 

Serve with basmati rice and BBQ sauce and prepare to die. These are good.  

ALTERNATE COOKING METHOD:

Cook these on a greased skillet in a 400 degree oven for 25 minutes. 

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Beer-Battered Fish Tacos

It has been so HOT here lately, it makes me want to lie on the beach all day long. One of my favorite beach-y foods is fish tacos. We find ourselves dining out a lot on Tuesday night for various restaurants' Taco Tuesday deals, but someday I envision making every Tuesday night in my home Taco Tuesday and I will make the tacos. This would definitely be one recipe in my arsenal. It's very fast and simple.

INGREDIENTS:

3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/3 cup beer (may be substituted with milk)
8 oz. tilapia fillet or other white fish, cut crosswise into 1-inch wide strips
Vegetable oil
Corn tortillas
1-2 tomatoes, diced
1 avocado, sliced
sour cream
paprika or other seasoning 

DIRECTIONS:

Combine flour, salt, cumin, and cayenne pepper in a medium bowl. Whisk in beer to create a batter. 

Heat oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat tilapia pieces in the batter and, letting the excess batter drip into the bowl, add fish to the pan. Cook until crispy and golden, about 2-4 minutes per side.

Serve with tortillas, tomatoes, avocados, sour cream, and season with paprika or your favorite seasoning

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Fabulous Fudge Chocolate Cake

I made this cake for someone's birthday. When we were preparing to light the candles and sing "Happy Birthday", someone said, "Catherine made this cake from scratch", to which my Dad quickly and bluntly responded, "Why?!". It garnered a few chuckles from people, including me.

With so many shortcut (and delicious) options at today's grocery stores, I understand how it can seem silly to spend time making a cake from scratch. And, believe you me, I am well prepared to be buying a Costco cake for birthdays in the future when my life gets a little more hectic. 

But, if you have time, and if you have someone you care about, why not show your love for them by making a cake from scratch? And if you're going to be making a cake from scratch, you should try this Fabulous Fudge Chocolate Cake.

*Adapted from Allrecipes.com

INGREDIENTS:

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter
2 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
8 (1 ounce) squares unsweetened chocolate, melted (Add 2-4 more squares if you want it very chocolate-y)
1 cup sour cream
1 cup boiling water

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat 1/2 cup butter and 2 1/2 cups brown sugar until well mixed. Add eggs one at a time. Beat in the vanilla and melted chocolate squares. Add 1/2 the sour cream then 1/2 the dry ingredients to the butter mixture until well blended.

Add the remaining sour cream and dry ingredients to the batter. Stir in boiling water.

Bake in a greased 9x13 inch pan for 35 minutes. For cupcakes, bake in greased muffin tins for 18 minutes.

When cool, top with white frosting.

SERVING SUGGESTION:

Top with mini-colored marshmallows for extra pizazz.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Best White Frosting

Husby's birthday was this weekend. He is super low-key about birthdays and doesn't like a lot of presents, but he'll never turn down a delicious chocolate cake. So, I decided to make a good one. With GOOD frosting. This is the frosting. Cake recipe will follow tomorrow.

*Recipe and photo from Tasty Kitchen Blog

INGREDIENTS:

5 Tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar (not powdered sugar)

DIRECTIONS:

In a small saucepan, whisk flour into milk and heat, stirring constantly, until it thickens. I was stirring for about 5-8 minutes, maybe more. You want this to be very thick, like a brownie mix or thicker. Remove from heat and let it cool to room temperature. Be sure the mixture is completely cool before you use it in the next step. Stir in vanilla.

While waiting for the mixture to cool, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, making sure that there is no sugar graininess left. Add the completely cooled milk/flour/vanilla mixture and beat on high speed for 3-5 minutes until completely blended and mixture resembles whipped cream. 

Spread on a cooled chocolate cake. Mmmmm mmmm mmmmmm.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Lemon Mint Chicken

As promised, here is the second mint recipe. I love how simple the ingredients are and, of course, the delicious flavor they create. Have a happy weekend!

INGREDIENTS: 

2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup margarine
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint leaves

DIRECTIONS:

In a medium bowl, mix together chicken pieces and garlic. Toss with flour to coat and shake off excess. 

Heat the margarine in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken pieces. Cook and stir until browned. Add the mint leaves and lemon juice, cover and steam for about five minutes until chicken is just cooked through, being careful not to overcook. 

Enjoy!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Good Old-Fashioned Pancakes

Nothing tastes better on a rainy Saturday morning than warm pancakes with delicious syrup. Growing up, I never tasted anything different than Bisquick pancakes. Don't get me wrong, I think Bisquick pancakes are great, but in my effort to learn to make more things from scratch, I discovered this amazing pancake recipe and I don't think I'll ever go back. These pancakes are simply perfect.

*From allrecipes.com

Yield 9 pancakes

INGREDIENTS:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon white sugar
1 1/4 cup milk
1 egg
3 Tablespoons butter, melted

DIRECTIONS:

In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Make a well in the center and add milk, egg, and melted butter. Mix until smooth.

Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium-high heat. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each pancake. Brown on both sides and serve hot.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Shrimp with Basil and Mint Pesto

Cooking with Mint. I've always loved mint in my desserts and candy, but I've never thought about trying it in an actual meal until I spotted this recipe. My goodness. Scrumdiddlyumptious. And I have another equally delicious mint chicken dish coming later this week. Mint adds an element of cool freshness that perfectly balances a savory, warm meal. This will make you feel fancy, even though the dish is quite easy.


INGREDIENTS:

1 pound uncooked shrimp, peeled and de-veined
1/2 cup lightly packed fresh mint leaves
1/4 cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves
2 Tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
1 garlic clove, minced
2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tablespoon grated parmesan cheese
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

DIRECTIONS:

Blend the mint, basil, pine nuts, and garlic in a food processor until finely chopped. With the machine still running, gradually add 2 Tablespoons olive oil, processing until well blended. Transfer the pesto to a medium bowl. Add parmesan cheese and season with salt and pepper to taste. 

In a large bowl, toss the shrimp with EVOO, salt, and pepper to coat. 

Heat a heavy, large skillet over high heat. Add the shrimp and sauté until just cooked through, about 3 minutes. Toss the shrimp with pesto to coat and serve. 

SERVING SUGGESTION:

Serve with couscous: Cook one box of plain couscous according to package instructions. Add 3 Tablespoons butter and 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese to cooked couscous and mix until fully incorporated. Serve shrimp over couscous. 

Friday, October 15, 2010

Apple Crisp

What says fall more than apples and apple desserts? The sweet, crumbly goodness of a crisp combined with the tart crispness of apples is a no-fail combination. With the weather looking a bit dreary this weekend, this is a surefire way to warm things up.

*Recipe and photo from Allrecipes.com

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups rolled oats
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1 1/2 cups butter, cut into small cubes
2 quarts peeled, cored, and sliced apples (I ended up using about six large apples)

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine flour, oats, cinnamon, nutmeg, and brown sugar. Cut butter into mixture until crumbly. (I use my fingers for this...a pastry blender would probably be helpful if you have one.)

Take half of the mixture and pat it into the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish. Cover crumb mixture with apple slices, then sprinkle apple slices with remaining crumb mixture. 

Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until apples are tender.

De-lish and welcome fall!!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Adobo Chicken Tacos

With so many Latin-Asian fusion eateries popping up (think Kogi Korean Tacos and the recently-opened Zengo restaurant at Santa Monica Place), it's no wonder my mind drifted to tacos after figuring out what to do with the leftovers from my shredded chicken adobo

Maybe I just have a special place in my heart for tacos, maybe I just really love the caramelized onions in this chicken. Whatever it is, this dish melts my heart.

Adobo Chicken Tacos

Serves 2 (6 tacos)

INGREDIENTS:

12 small corn tortillas
1 cup shredded cheese (I used cheddar)
1/2 cup sour cream
1 handful of cilantro, chopped
1 avocado, sliced (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

Place three sets of two tortillas each of a microwave-safe plate. Sprinkle each tortilla set with cheese and heat in the microwave for 50 seconds, or until cheese is melted. Top each tortilla with 1/4 cup (or more) chicken, a dollop of sour cream, sliced avocado (if desired) and top with cilantro. 

Serve and enjoy. 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Shredded Chicken Adobo

There is something amazingly delicious about savory, slow-cooked meats. Pork, beef, or chicken and more. No matter the meat, you can tell when it's been cooked with love for hours and hours. The way it tenderly falls off the bone and into a watering mouth is succulent. This chicken is one of those meals. It is the national dish of the Philippines, and it is simple yet delicious.

*Adapted (slightly) from Williams-Sonoma Food Made Fast: Slow Cooker Cookbook

INGREDIENTS:

2 yellow onions, halved and sliced
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
1.5 lbs. chicken (I used three large chicken breasts, with bones and skin still attached; might be a good idea to remove the bones first so as to make the shredding step a bit easier) -- may also substitute for 1.5 lbs. pork or 1.5 lbs. beef
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar

DIRECTIONS:

Spread half of the sliced onions in the bottom of a slow cooker. Add one of the garlic cloves, peppercorns, and the bay leaf. Arrange chicken in a single layer on top of the onions. Top with the remaining onions and garlic. Drizzle the vinegar and soy sauce over the ingredients and sprinkle with sugar. 

Cover and cook on high setting for 4 hours or low setting for 8 hours. When finished, discard the bay leaf. Using two forks, shred the chicken, being careful to remove all bones first. 

Serve with rice.

**Stay tuned for Adobo Chicken Tacos.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Simple Orzotto

Sometimes the best part of a meal is the side dishes. One of my favorite BBQ restaurants has an option on their menu called the "sidecar". It is basically four of their sides (choose whatever you want, from mac and cheese to okra to blues on the cob to sweet potatoes and more) as your main course meal. Genius. 

Thanks to Kelsey Egan, I have recently discovered orzo as a quick, simple, and versatile side dish that can complement just about any meal. The recipe below offers orzotto in its simplest form, but it can also be dressed up and added to to match the style of your main course. Variations on this recipe (including one with bacon...yum) can be found at the bottom of this post. 


INGREDIENTS:

2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 1/2 cups orzo (or pearl barley)
1/2 cup dry white wine or red wine
3 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup grated cheese (I use parmesan)
salt and pepper to taste
herbs or fresh aromatics as desired

DIRECTIONS:

In a large sauce pan, heat the olive oil. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until fragrant and translucent. Add the orzo or barley and toast for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the wine and cook until absorbed. 

Gradually add the stock, stirring frequently. Bring to a simmer and cover. Cook for 8-10 minutes until liquid is almost absorbed and orzo or barley is tender. Remove from heat.

Stir in heavy cream and cheese. Season with salt and pepper or any other desired seasonings and serve. 

VARIATIONS:

Lemon Asparagus Orzotto: add 1/2 cup steamed diced fresh asparagus, 1 Tablespoon lemon juice, and zest from 1/2 lemon.
Mushroom Orzotto: add 1 cup wild or cultivated mushrooms. Substitute chicken or beef stock with mushroom stock. Add 3/4 teaspoon fresh chopped thyme leaves and 1/2 cup parmesan cheese. 
Sweet Corn with Bacon Orzotto: Add 1/2 cup sweet corn, 1 Tablespoon sugar, and 1/2 cup cooked and crumbled bacon. 

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Shortbread Cheesecake with Strawberry Syrup

The idea of making cheesecake scared me, until I actually made it and realized it was not difficult at all. Especially with this recipe. The shortbread crust means you don't have to spend time crushing graham crackers or make a special purchase of graham cracker crumbs. And I just love shortbread. And strawberries.

*Adapted from Kristin Ann

INGREDIENTS: 

Shortbread Cookie Crust:

1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 cup flour

Cheesecake Filling:

24 ounces cream cheese (3 boxes), at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 Tablespoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cup sour cream

Strawberry Syrup:

2 cups ripe (or very ripe) strawberries
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 cups sugar

DIRECTIONS:

For the crust, cream butter and sugar in a mixer until completely combined. Add flour, and mix until combined. In a buttered spring form pan, press dough on the bottom until completely even. Make sure the depth is consistent all-around. 

Wrap the outside of the pan with heavy-duty foil. Bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Edges should be slightly golden-brown.

For the filling, cream the sugar and cream cheese together in a large bowl. Add one egg at a time, scraping the bottom of the bowl after each egg is added. When completely combined, add vanilla, salt, and sour cream. Mix until smooth. Pour filling into crust and smooth out the top. 

Bake for about 1 hour and 30 minutes at 330 degrees. The cake is done when the top loses its luster and has a dull look to it, or when it starts to brown on the top. Check in at the hour mark to make sure it doesn't burn. 

Let the cake cool and then place in the fridge for at least 48 hours before serving. (I know!! Patience is not my strong point, but this is worth it.)

For the strawberry syrup, puree strawberries and water using a blender or food processor. When smooth, transfer to a saucepan and add sugar. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Reduce heat and let simmer for five minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Transfer to a serving spout and serve over cheesecake. De-lish!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Chicken Vesuvio

I really, really, really, really, really need to find my camera charger so that the pictures of my food don't look completely yellow-colored or unappetizing. My philosophy is any picture is better than no picture so the show must go on. 

The sauce in this dish. Oh, my, goodness, The sauce. That's all I have to say.

*Recipe from Giada De Laurentiis

INGREDIENTS:

3 Tablespoons olive oil
4 chicken thighs with skin and bones (I used chicken breasts, but I think thighs would be more tender)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 pounds small red-skinned potatoes, halved
4 large garlic cloves, minced
3/4 cup dry white wine (I recently bought cooking wine and it has been a great investment)
3/4 cup chicken broth
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
8 ounces artichoke hearts
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Heat the oil in a large, ovenproof pot over high heat. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper. Working in batches if necessary, cook the chicken in the pot until brown on all sides, about 10 minutes. Transfer chicken to a bowl. Carefully add the potatoes to the same pot and cook until golden brown, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for 1 minute. Add the wine and stir to scrape up any brown bits on the bottom of the pot. Add the broth, oregano, and thyme. Return the chicken to the pot and stir all ingredients to combine. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. 

Cover and bake in the oven until the chicken is cooked through, about 15-20 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a platter and arrange potatoes around the chicken. Add the artichoke hearts to the sauce in the pot. Cover and simmer over high heat until the artichokes are tender, stirring often, about 4 minutes. Turn heat to low and stir in the butter. Pour the sauce over chicken and potatoes, and serve. 

Be generous with the sauce, it's the best part. 

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Berry Blender Sorbet

Given the record-breaking heat yesterday, it turns out I was correct in wishing for more summer days. A cool, summer, refreshing treat seems in order. Also, my sister is doing this 8-weeks-to-a-better-you challenge, so I thought I'd give her something that is sweet, but completely natural and healthy.

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups frozen berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, boysenberries are all great)
1 cup plain yogurt
1 Tablespoon lemon juice

DIRECTIONS:

In a blender, mix all ingredients until smooth (or slightly chunky, if you prefer). Given the absence of liquid, this will likely require the use of a rubber spatula to scrape the sides and multiple pulses of the blender, but be patient, it will pay off. 

If you're really having a hard time getting your ingredients to blend, add a little bit of water or milk. 

Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Peach Cobbler

(Since we got back from Hawaii, I haven't been able to find my camera charger, thus iPhone pictures have replaced Canon Powershot pictures for the last three months. Please excuse the fuzzy blurriness...hopefully the charger will show up soon.) 

I have searched for a couple peach cobbler recipes, but nothing struck me as "the one" until I found this. Cornmeal biscuit topping? Yes, please. What else but cornmeal could be better with peaches? While I love the light, fresh, shortbread taste of my blueberry cobbler, I equally love the comfortable, home-y, and savory cornmeal taste of this peach cobbler.

Oh, and yes, I'm aware that today is the first day of autumn and peaches are a summer fruit. But you can always hope for some summer roll-over. The weather forecast for this weekend is in the 80s!

*Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

INGREDIENTS:

(for the fruit):

6-8 peaches, pitted and cut into slices*
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 Tablespoons flour
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt

(for the biscuit topping):

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup ground cornmeal (yellow or white)
3 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 Tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/2 cup buttermilk**

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Toss peached with sugar, flour, lemon juice, cinnamon and salt in the bottom of a 2-quart ovenproof dish.

Make the biscuit dough. Stir together the flour, cornmeal, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut the butter into the dry mixture with your fingertips (or a pastry blender, if you have one--I don't). Stir in buttermilk with a rubber spatula until a wet, tacky dough comes together. 

Plop spoonfuls of the biscuit dough over the filling. Bake until the cobbler's syrup is bubbly and the biscuit tops are browned, about 20-25 minutes. Let cool slightly and scoop into bowls. Top with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. 

*Here is an easy way to peel peaches: Cut a small "x" in the bottom of each peach. Dip them in boiling water for 30 seconds and remove with a slotted spoon. The skins will slide off.

**Don't have buttermilk in your house? Me neither. As a substitute, place one Tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice in a one-cup measuring cup. Fill to the one cup line with milk and let stand for five minutes. Apparently this creates the "tang" that is found in buttermilk.