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


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


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.


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


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


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


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


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


{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.)


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


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


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!


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


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


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.


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


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. 


Serve with delicious mashed red potatoes


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.


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


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.