Monday, August 30, 2010

Burrito Bowls

Some nights I just don't want to cook and this is the perfect dinner for just those kinds of nights! Usually I have homemade salsa ready to go in the fridge because we love it so much (although it doesn't last too long). All of these ingredients are pretty much staples in any household, even if you don't cook that much. So sit back, relax and enjoy your evening because you probably won't be doing many dishes. Feel free to omit or add anything that you prefer on your burrito's (ie guacamole, olives, etc)

Burrito Bowls

Tortilla chips (or rice if you prefer)
Black beans
Shredded Cheese
Sour Cream

Layer the ingredients however you see fit and enjoy!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Spicy Citrus Black Beans

Black beans really used to make me wanna gag. Now, I am pretty open to them since beans come on every item at Qdoba, one of my favorite "American Mexican" places to eat. I definitely prefer black over pinto beans for sure! I have never made them at home because I was just too lazy but this is quick, easy and makes for a wonderful side dish to any summer meal!

Spicy Citrus Black Beans
Adapted from: Annie's Eats, originally Simply Recipes

1 large can black beans (28 oz)
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped or minced (you can also substitute for another bell or jalapeno)
1/2 - 1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
1.5 tsp oregano
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp salt
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp chipotles in adobo, pureed
1.5 tsp ground cumin
1/4 cup orange juice
Juice of 2 limes (added lime zest, optional)
1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
Chopped fresh cilantro, to taste, plus more for garnish (optional)

Rinse the beans well in a colander over the sink. Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan on medium-high heat. Begin to sauté onion and pepper until tender, about 5-6 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, 30 seconds. Stir in the rinsed beans and mix in broth (use however much you would like to have more or less liquid). Bring to a simmer and add oregano, bay leaves, salt, chipotle puree, cumin, orange juice, lime juice and vinegar. Once simmering, reduce heat to medium-low and cover for 20-25 minutes. Stir occasionally. Once done, remove from heat and stir in cilantro (if using) and serve warm.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Jerk Chicken Kabobs

Lately I have been in desperate need of quick dinners because it's a busy time of the year for both my husband and myself. Although the chicken does sit in the marinade in the fridge for an hour (or so) beforehand, once on the kabobs, it's less than 10 minutes before you get to eat these all up. I'm usually not one to use a marinade either but I can't stand the taste of plain chicken (and I despise using salt and pepper alone). So I tried this recipe and it was absolutely amazing. It wasn't too spicy but it did have some kick to it. It also wasn't too overpowering of a taste .. it was just right! I also experimented with more fruits and veggies and I will tell you that the mango and pineapple went best with the kabobs. I won't be doing the onion again. The red pepper was okay, but to be fair I prefer green pepper.

Jerk Chicken Kabobs
Adapted from: Homemade by Holman

For the marinade:
juice of 1 lime
1/2 Tbsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp salt
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 Tbsp brown sugar
1/8 tsp cinnamon

For the kabobs:
1lb boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 mango
1/4 whole pineapple
1 red bell pepper

Start the marinade about 1 hour before you plan on heating up the grill. Mix all marinade ingredients in a large tupperware container until uniform. Chop the chicken into 1-inch cubes and place into the tupperware containing the marinade. Toss to coat well (or put the lid on tight and shake vigorously). Place in the fridge and keep in there for at least 45-60 minutes. You can also use a large ziplock freezer bag for this, but I recommend tupperware because it is more eco-friendly and you can always reuse it.

While the chicken is in the refrigerator, chop the mango, pineapple and bell pepper to 1-inch pieces and set aside in separate bowls. If you are using wooden skewers, soak them in water for at least 30 minutes prior to grilling. I did this by using a 9x13 baking dish, putting a small amount of water in it and placing a small glass dish on top (to keep them from floating).

When the chicken is done in the fridge, place the cubes onto 4 wooden skewers leaving a slight gap in between each piece. Then, place the vegetables and fruit on four SEPARATE SKEWERS.

Begin by setting the grill on medium heat and placing the chicken on the bottom rack. Cook until they look almost done on the bottom side (about 3-5 minutes) and flip over. Then, add the fruit/vegetable kabobs to the top rack (if you have one) and leave there until chicken is done cooking and is no longer pink (about 3-5 minutes). Serves: 3-4.

TIP: You never want to make kabobs where the meat and the vegetables are on the same skewer because you will overcook the veggies and undercook the meat. They cook at different lengths of time (just as different meats do). Therefore, place all different kinds of meat on separate skewers from each other AND the veggies.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Strawberry Soup

There isn't much to say about this soup that isn't obvious from it's ingredients (or that delicious photo): strawberries, yogurt, yum! Anything with strawberries in it, I will try. I don't like chocolate, but I thoroughly make up for it with my love of strawberry. Unfortunately that doesn't help me to try new flavors at ice cream outings because if strawberry is an option, I will choose it every single time. Shakes? Strawberry, thank you. I guess you could say I do have a slight obsession with them, which makes it very surprising that I haven't posted more recipes. Usually I like to just eat them by the pound (oops) and so this was a change for me. As soon as I had that first bite of this soup, I knew it wouldn't last more than a day or two. My blender also made it to the sink pretty clean. ;)

Strawberry Soup
Adapted from: The Cooks Next Door, originally Food Network

1 lb strawberries, cleaned and hulled
3/4 cup whipping cream (or half & half)
3/4 cup plain yogurt (or sour cream)
1/4 cup sugar
4 tsp lemon juice

Puree strawberries in blender and pour into a medium-sized tupperware bowl. Add remaining ingredients one at a time to incorporate. Mix well. Chill before serving and garnish with strawberry or mint.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Lasagna Roll-Ups

I won't lie. These were messy. Messy usually means delicious in my book! I usually make a "normal" lasagna but I was feeling extra spicy this past week and so I was inspired by a fellow blogger to make lasagna in a different way. My husband knows his meat, and unfortunately he knew that it tasted "different". Well, I tried to sneak in some ground turkey but he cannot be fooled! It's back to ground beef .. for now. ;)

These were messy to make and messy to eat but they were a very traditional lasagna in an untraditional display. I love making things over again, but in a different way and these turned out great! I just used my regular lasagna recipe, halved (I didn't want too many leftovers) and it seemed to work perfectly.

Lasagna Roll-Ups
Inspired by: Homemade by Holman, Recipe original to Kelly's Kitch

1 pound ground beef
1 small can tomato/spaghetti sauce (14-16 oz)
1/2 cup onions, chopped
1 can tomato paste (6 oz)
1/3 cup water
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tsp oregano
1/4 lb lasagna noodles, cooked
1/2 tub racotta cheese
mozzarella cheese, for topping
parmesan cheese, for topping

Brown meat in large skillet. Add onion and cook until tender (about 4-5 minutes). Stir in tomato sauce, paste, water, garlic and seasonings. Cover and simmer on low 25 minutes. Once eveything is cooked, take lasagna noodles (halved) and spread 1-2 tsp ricotta on the noodle. Place 1-2 tsp of the skillet mixture on top and place in a 8x8 greased baking dish. Cover with remaining meat mixture and sprinkle with mozzarella and parmesan cheese to cover. Cover with foil. Bake, covered, in preheated oven at 350 degrees for 18-20 minutes. Uncover and bake for an additional 5 minutes. Let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Rasberry Cheesecake Cupcakes

Good news! I found my camera. Even better news: this recipe! If you love cheesecake then be careful to not eat all of these. I had to make my husband take the cheesecakes to work so that I didn't inhale them all before he even got home that night. This was a fantastic idea and they turned out tasty. Not the prettiest cheesecake/cupcakes but definitely the best flavor ever!! I know on Annie's website she says that the water bath is not needed but if you want taste and presentation, I think it very much IS needed. Mine became concave after cooling and did crack on most of them. It wasn't too noticeable and they still tasted wonderful so it's totally up to the chef's preferences.

Rasberry Cheesecake Cupcakes
Adapted from: Annie's Eats, originally Martha Stewart's Cupcakes

For the crust
1½ cups graham cracker crumbs
4½ Tbsp butter, melted
3 Tbsp sugar

For the topping
6 oz fresh raspberries
2 Tbsp sugar

For the filling
2 lbs cream cheese, at room temperature (32 oz)
1½ cups sugar
pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 large eggs, at room temperature

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place cupcake liners in muffin pan and lightly grease. Mix all ingredients well for the crust. Place 1 Tbsp of crust mixture in each paper liner. Press with cup (or I used my 1/4 cup measurer and that worked perfect) to press graham cracker crust into cup. Bake until crust is set, about 5 minutes, and set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, mix cream cheese in stand mixer on medium-high until fluffy. Add in the sugar until fully incorporated. Repeat with salt and vanilla. Beat in the eggs one at a time until fully incorporated. Be sure the mixture doesn't have any cream cheese chunks. This may require you to continue to mix and scrape the sides of the mixing bowl.

While mixer is blending, place rasberries and sugar in food processor and blend until it becomes a liquid consistency. Place a bowl under a mesh sieve and press liquid through to remove all the seeds. Set aside.

Place 1/4 cup of cheesecake mixture into muffin cups on top of crust. Drop a small amount of rasberry liquid on top (about 1/4-1/2 tsp) and swirl with a toothpick. Bake until cheescake is set, about 22 minutes, rotating halfway into the baking time. Cupcakes will be convex when removed from the oven but once they cool, they will go down. Leave in muffin pan for at least 5 minutes to cool then transfer to cooling rack. Note: I tried to remove them before the 5 minutes and they totally fell apart and were not "set" yet so I highly recommend waiting. Place in the fridge for at least 4 hours and enjoy!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Bacon, Egg and Toast Cups

I want to first apologize for the awful iPhone picture, but this recipe was so good I had to post it. Unfortunately I lost my camera so it might be a little while before I post again. Until that time, just know that I have found the ultimate breakfast .. even to-go! That is just perfect for my husband who hates to stop and eat breakfast in the morning (which I, of course, know is the most important meal of the day). This recipe is very simple, requires no prep and doesn't take more than 20-25 minutes to make.

Bacon, Egg and Toast Cups
Adapted from: Annie's Eats, originally The Noshery

6 pieces of bread
6 bacon slices
4-5 eggs (beaten if you like scrambled eggs)
shredded cheese
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Meanwhile, cook bacon on medium-high heat for about 4-6 minutes to slightly cook (you still want them to be flexible). Place bacon on plate with paper towels to cool. While the bacon is cooling, cut out a 3-inch round out of the bread slices. I used a plastic cup and that worked perfectly.

Take the bacon pieces and wrap them around the edges of the bread. Then, place the round bread pieces in each of 6 greased muffin cups so that it forms a little bowl.Note: The bread WILL stay in the muffin cups since it's not toasted yet. I was somewhat skeptical of that. Next, sprinkle a little cheese in the bottom of the cups and pour the egg into it until it almost fills up. Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until the egg is done (will not be liquidy anymore). Make sure you turn the pan 180-degrees about halfway through cooking.

Sprinkle with salt and pepper, to taste, and serve immediately!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Chicken Parmigiana, revisited

There are so many great recipes I have made throughout the years and I continue to make them over and over again. They are so good I think they get lost in the past year of blogging so here is one that is a favorite of mine and my husband. I also am getting much better at using my teeny tiny point-and-shoot camera but am hoping to get a dslr in the near future (and by "near future" I mean in the next few years).
Chicken Parmigiana
Adapted from: New Cookbook, Bridal Edition (Better Homes and Gardens)
1/3 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp butter
1 can diced tomatoes, undrained
1/2 tsp sugar
dash salt & pepper
1/8 cup basil
4 small skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1/3 cup seasoned fine dry bread crumbs
4 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 egg, beaten
2 tbsp milk
3 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

For sauce
In medium saucepan, cook onion and garlic in hot butter over medium heat until tender. Stir in sugar, salt, pepper and tomatoes. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer uncovered about 10 minutes stirring occasionally. Stir in basil and set aside.
For Chicken

First, pound the chicken until about 1/4 inch thick to allow for proper cooking. Dip chicken in bowl with egg and milk mixture. Then, dip it into another bowl with 3 tbsp parmesan cheese, oregano and bread crumbs. Place in a large skillet in hot oil over medium heat. Cook on each side for about 5 minutes or until chicken is thoroughly cooked. Transfer chicken to serving dish and cover with sauce mixture and remaining 1 tbsp parmesan cheese. Let stand until cheese melts.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Cran-Apple Muffins

Whenever my husband is gone out late (work or baseball game) or out on one of his fishing tournaments on the weekends, I get really bored. When I get bored, I love to bake since it usually involves lots of prep time and baking and cooling, etc. Brad is my best friend and when he is gone I sometimes don't know what to do with myself.

I wanted to bake something we could eat for breakfast. See, I am not a picky breakfast eater: cereal, oatmeal, bagels, pop-tarts, anything. My husband on the other hand really has tried to give cereal a chance but he just likes a nice, warm breakfast. Well I thought that I could bake something for the week ahead and he can just nuke them for 10 seconds and be on his way to work (he likes to wake up late .. like me). He absolutely loved .. and devoured these muffins!! I have no doubt in my mind that he will be asking for these when he gets back from fishing this weekend.

Cran-Apple Muffins
Adapted from: Annie's Eats

1½ cups all-purpose flour
1½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
pinch salt
1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
½ cup + 2 tsp milk
1 egg, large
8 Tbsp butter, melted and cooled
¾ cup dried cranberries
¾ cup apple, peeled and chopped
½ cup almond slivers (or raisins)
6 Tbsp brown sugar
6 Tbsp sugar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare muffin cups by placing a paper liner in them and spraying lightly with cooking spray. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and ginger. Create a well in the middle of the dry mixture and pour in the milk, egg and butter. Mix together quickly until just incorporated. Add remaining ingredients and mix just enough that mixture is evenly distributed.

Pour ¼ cup of the mixture in each of 12 muffin cups and sprinkle with sugar on the top (optional). Bake for 18-20 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool in the muffin pan for about 3-5 minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely. Keep stored in airtight container at room temperature if planning on eating throughout the week.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Sugar Cookies, revisited

I made sugar cookies with royal icing quite some time ago (around Christmas) and the icing just didn't set hard enough and the cookies all stuck to each other. This time I was determined to make perfect royal icing cookies .. and it was a complete success!! I updated the link to the recipe and the recipe for the icing. These really turned out fantastic!

Everyone raved about them and thought they were really cute. I made them for my mom's boyfriend, Phil obviously, who was turning 60 years old. I made cookies that said "That's what she said", "60 = sexy", "Phil", and "Got beer?" He really loves to golf so I made them green and white (also to match the golf-themed cake that we got from Heavenly Sweets). If you ever want a birthday cake or even a wedding cake, I highly recommend them if you can get to the Noblesville, Indiana area!! Some cakes aren't always the best looking cakes, but what is most important, to me, is the taste. NOBODY beats their buttercream icing .. nobody.