Friday, December 28, 2012

Buffalo Chicken French Breads

Before I say anything about this recipe, I just want to report that my Soul Sister, who is visiting from Oklahoma, called this dish a "resounding success". *nods*

This dish is incredibly easy the way I did it, and wouldn't have taken 30 minutes, except for the fact that I was prepping and cooking another dish at the same time, while chatting with my SSF. As always, the original recipe is below, but tell you of the changes I made. The cool thing about this particular occasion is that all of the changes were intentional! 

The major change was I used packaged grilled chicken pieces, instead of cooking chicken breasts in a skillet myself. Since they were already cooked, I just had to warm them. I know, I know...not the healthiest way to go. But I was looking for simplicity, and these pre-grilled chicken breast pieces are always a win around my house. The second change is that I didn't garnish with cilantro (blech!) or extra wing sauce.

The results: as I mentioned at the top of this post, this was a very successful dish. It's NOT low-fat, and while you could use reduced-fat cheese, why? The texture was awesome because it was soft and gooey AND crunchy! A few warnings, though: some people are very picky about their wing sauce. If the wing sauce isn't right, there goes the dish. Some people also aren't huge fans of Gorgonzola. To be safe, use less than the recipe calls for. (And actually, you could use whatever kind of cheese you want. There's just something wonderful about the blue/Buffalo combo.) Lastly, some ovens don't bake evenly (imagine that). As you can see, mine made the corner of the pictured piece a lil brown. So watch your bread carefully.

30-Minute Buffalo Chicken French Breads

1 loaf of french bread, cut in half
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
2/3 cup buffalo wing sauce + extra for drizzling
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3 tablespoons ranch dressing
12 ounces fontina cheese, freshly grated
6 ounces crumbled gorgonzola cheese
4 green onions, thinly sliced
1 bunch of cilantro, chopped

Place an oven rack in the middle of the over and heat your broiler to the high setting. Place the french bread, cut-side up, on a baking sheet and set in the oven for 2 minutes, then rotate and broil 2 minutes more, just until slightly golden. Remove and let cool.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add olive oil. Toss chicken with salt and pepper, then add to the skillet and cook until browned on all sides, about 10-12 minutes. Once cooked through, add garlic and stir for 30 seconds, then add in buffalo wing sauce and butter. Stir to toss and coat.

Brush 1 1/2 tablespoons (or more if desired) of ranch dressing onto each cut side of french bread. Top with 2-3 tablespoons each of buffalo wing sauce, then cover equally with a light sprinkling of fontina. Add the chicken, spooning out all of the sauce in the skillet. Cover with remaining fontina and gorgonzola. Broil on high (on the same center rack) for 5-6 minutes, watching closely and rotating the pan once or twice during broiling. You must watch closely because all broilers differ! It may take your oven 3-4 minutes or closer to 8. Just cook until the cheese is melted and slightly golden and the bread is somewhat crunchy.

Remove and top with another drizzle of buffalo wing sauce and then cover in green onions and cilantro. Cut into pieces and serve!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Creamy Farfalle with Mushrooms and Peas

What a let down.

I was looking forward to this dish ALL day, because I knew I was just cooking for me (which is convenient because I'm the only one in this house that would eat it). Plus, it's a Fabio Viviani dish, so how could it not be fabulous? I even had a green protein shake for lunch to help me feel less guilty about this indulgence. Well, I could've skipped the liquid lunch because I was not pleased with my results here.

There were several problems: 
1) It was bland. I thought that with the pancetta, plus the salt I added to the sauce, there'd be plenty of flavor. But nope. I had to add more salt tableside, even AFTER I dashed on some parmesan. And more black pepper. And some cayenne.

2) My sauce was sticky. That could have been easily remedied, had I added more liquid to the roux. But I kinda sorta halved the recipe and didn't want my sauce to be TOO runny. Obviously, I underestimated. And then I was just lazy. I thought, Why bother with making the texture right when it doesn't even taste good? Which brings me to my next problem.

3) The pancetta tasted old. This was the most disappointing of all. I love pig. Pig is good. Usually. But tonight, he let me down.

I don't appreciate foods that require a lot of added salt, so I probably won't make this again. I'm just dumbfounded, too, because I love all of these elements...just not altogether, I guess.

Creamy Farfalle with Mushrooms & Peas

2 tbsps. Butter
3 tbsps. All-purpose flour
2 1/2 c. whole milk -at room temperature
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ c pancetta -diced
3 tbsps. Extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound brown button mushrooms -sliced
3/4 c. green peas -frozen
1 Lb. farfalle pasta

 In a medium size saucepot heat the butter over medium heat then add the flour and whisk until smooth and the flour loses its raw flavor, about 4 minutes. Add the milk all and whisk until smooth. Simmer for 3 minutes then remove from heat. Season the sauce to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside and cover to keep warm.

  eat the oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook until golden and crispy then transfer it to a bowl and keep warm. Add the mushrooms to the skillet with a pinch of salt and sauté until tender and golden, for about 15 minutes. Stir in the peas and continue cooking until warmed through. Season the mixture to taste with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the farfalle and cook until al dente. Drain and transfer the pasta to a large bowl together with the mushrooms, peas and pancetta. Pour the cream sauce on top and gently toss to coat. Adjust seasonings and serve

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Slow Cooker Cheesy Potato Soup

WITH BACON, thank you very much!

Today turned out to be a pretty good day, all things considered. Even though I had to stay home from work with a sick kiddo, I was still able to do laundry, clean a little, get some work done--shh!!-- and put together a pretty good meal. The weather even cooperated by cooling down so that soup was the perfect dinner. And the kicker of it all: the hubs liked it! 

Why is that the kicker, you ask? Because he claims to hate soup. And I made this with full knowledge of his claim, without any doubt that he'd eat it. How? See the opening line of this blog. Also, his two favorite foods after bacon are the two most prominent ingredients in this soup. No brainer.

So if you're going for quick and easy prep on a cold day, this is for you. (It's in no way low-fat, though.) The recipe seems to call for pre-cooked bacon. But I made bacon while the soup was thickening and crumbled it myself. That was pretty much the most complicated part of this process. The one thing I forgot was the green onion garnish. (That ticked me off, too, because I love me some cebollas verdes!) Oh well!

Slow Cooker Cheesy Potato Soup

1 bag (32 oz) frozen southern-style diced hash brown potatoes, thawed
1/2 cup frozen chopped onion (from 12-oz bag), thawed
1 medium stalk celery, diced (1/2 cup)
1 carton (32-oz) Progresso® chicken broth
1 cup water
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
1 bag (8 oz) shredded American-Cheddar cheese blend (2 cups)
1/4 cup crumbled bacon
4 medium green onions, sliced (1/4 cup)

In 3- to 4-quart slow cooker, mix potatoes, onion, celery, broth and water. Cover; cook on Low heat setting 6 to 8 hours.

In small bowl, mix flour into milk; stir into potato mixture. Increase heat setting to High. Cover; cook 20 to 30 minutes or until mixture thickens. Stir in cheese until melted. Garnish individual servings with bacon and green onions. Sprinkle with pepper if desired.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Easy Chicken Parmesan

I just got DOWN with some chicken Parm! Woo! I'm all lit up now!

So, here's what happened: I had a craving. When I asked the hubs what he wanted for dinner and he had no opinion, I decided to indulge my craving. Now, chicken Parmesan isn't normally a dish I crave. It can be super yummy--as can eggplant Parmesan--but it isn't necessarily high on my list of favorite foods. But ever since I watched my FAVORITE Italian and Top Chef, Fabio Viviani, make it on his web show Chow Ciao, I've been wondering how simple it really is.

Well, it really is easy. But I didn't use Fabio's recipe. I was too impatient to watch the whole video again. So I used THIS. (And now that I'm watching the video now, I regret my decision and will henceforth use Fabio's recipe; although, I may still used a jarred sauce. We'll see.) Good news is, this "easy" baked version was delicious. The boys devoured it.

Bad news is, no photos. I'm sure you know what it looks like, though, right? Mine looked like that. (Except that I didn't get the chicken breasts as flat as I wanted. And I slammed those suckers!) Oh! I only used 2 chicken breasts so not a whole jar of sauce, and I used panko bread crumbs that I seasoned myself (with salt, fresh ground pepper and Italian Herbs).


Easy Chicken Parm
  • 4 boneless chicken breasts, pounded to 1/2 inch thickness
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • seasoned bread crumbs
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 8 slices mozzarella cheese, or more
  • 1 jar (16 oz) spaghetti sauce
  • Parmesan cheese
Whisk together the egg and milk. Dip the chicken breasts in milk and egg mixture and then in bread crumbs. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Brown the chicken in the hot oil on both sides until golden, about 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Set chicken in a baking dish. Slice 8 pieces of mozzarella cheese and put two on each chicken breast. Pour 1 jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce over all. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and a little more mozzarella and bake at 350° for about 25 to 30 minutes, or until bubbly.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Crescent Jalapeño Poppers

I think it's about time I remember that I actually have a camera with which to photograph my dishes. Instead, I use the closest thing to me, which is always my phone. Bah. Maybe I iPhone 5 will snap better photos. (Did I mention that I'm making the switch to iPhone tomorrow? But I digress.)

This munchie recipe is a little processed but super easy and fast. And I used reduced fat cheese and rolls. Took me 10 minutes to prep and 13 minutes to bake. And actually I think I consumed 3 in about 5 minutes. So. Good. Excellent football food, I might add!

Crescent Jalapeño Poppers

1 can crescent rolls
8 jalapeños
4 slices pre-cooked bacon, sliced in half
Cream cheese

Heat oven to 375°F. Carefully remove stems from chiles; cut each in half lengthwise and again horizontally to make 4 pieces. Remove and discard seeds. Spoon about 1 teaspoon cheese into each chile quarter. Wrap half slice of bacon around each.

On cutting board, unroll dough; separate dough into 8 triangles. From center of longest side to opposite point, cut each triangle in half, making 16 triangles. Place chile, cheese side down, on dough triangle. Fold 1 point of triangle over filling; fold 2 remaining points over first point. Place on ungreased cookie sheet.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Crockpot Beer Carnitas Tacos

Okay, now these...THESE are the shnikies. Make this recipe right now. Don't even read this post! Just grab your wallet and go get a pork butt. You are likely to have all the rest of the ingredients in your kitchen already.

Here's the one change I made: I halved everthing, except for the beer. So what happened when I tasted the meat at the end of the day was, besides being just a little too wet, it seemed just a smidge bland, having been drowned in beer. Soooooo I shook in an additional teaspoon or two of McCormick Original Taco Seasoning Mix. And voila! Flavor perfection. And the pièce de résistance--the Jalapeño Lime Sour Cream (to which I did not add the salt and pepper).

Do it. Do it now.

Crockpot Beer Carnitas Tacos

5-6 lbs pork shoulder roast (or butt)
1 tbsp canola oil
8 oz of your favorite beer
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tbsp smoked paprika
1/2 tbsp cumin
1 1/2 tsp onion powder
1 1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder

Combine seasonings together in a bowl and mix until combined. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add oil. Once hot, add pork and sear on all sides until golden brown (about 2 minutes per side).

Add pork to the crockpot and sprinkle seasonings all over. Pour in beer, then cook on low for 10-12 hours. Check once or twice if possible and if needed, add more beer (I did not add any). Before serving, use forks or kitchen tongs to shred pork. Let sit on low or warm for another 20-30 minutes before serving.

Jalapeno Lime Sour Cream
1 c. sour cream
1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
juice of 2 limes
2 tbsp chopped cilantro
a pinch of salt and pepper
Whisk all ingredients together then serve. Refrigerate for up to 3 days.

Hot and Cheesy Roasted Red Pepper Dip

A couple days ago, I posted about how much I love The Pioneer Woman and her blog. IF you've followed my blog for very long at all, you are also well aware of my second most-favorite blog, How Sweet It Is. On September 1st, she wrote a post FULL of recipes she deems football-worthy. Immediately, I knew this was where I'd find my next post (my next two, actually!).

This one was a no-brainer for me. Except that I didn't follow the recipe I chose, so really I didn't try this recipe at all. Instead of the cheeses called for, which are Italian, I used cheddar, colby Jack and pepper Jack, because I thought the flavors would go better with the main dish I was serving (carnitas tacos, following post). This resulted in the dip being kinda...curdled. Not as smooth and creamy as I'd hoped. Could've been the quality of the cheese, too. Who knows?

This isn't anything to write home about. There is bacon, so that's fantastic. But bottom line: you should try it the way it's written, and then tell me how it tastes.

Hot and Cheesy Roasted Red Pepper Dip

8 oz. cream cheese, softened
4 oz. asiago cheese, freshly grated
4 oz. parmesan cheese, freshly grated
4 oz. fontina cheese, freshly grated
1 roasted red pepper, patted dry and chopped
2 slices cooked bacon, crumbled
1/4 tsp black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. If you use red peppers from a jar (in water), pat dry with a paper towel.

In a large bowl, combine cream cheese, asiago, parmesan, 3 ounces of fontina, red peppers, bacon and pepper, and mash thoroughly with a fork. Place in an oven safe dish, then top with remaining fontina. Bake for 25 minutes, or until cheese is golden and bubbly on top.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Best Spinach Artichoke Dip EVER

Whoa. This blog is in serious need of an update. And what I'm about to post is a "new" recipe from June. Yes, I am ashamed. But here's what happened, okay? I got super busy with a plays and stuff and blah blah blardy blar excuses excuses. So, see, I couldn't possibly have been blogging this whole time!

Anyway, back to June. The Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond, is this amazing superwoman with an equally amazing blog of which I can't get enough. On June 11th, she posted this. I had to have it, and without a moment's hesitation, I made it. (Actually, I hesitated for 4 days, but who's counting?)

This dip is AMAZING. The "best ever" claim is right on. I know this because I made it 3 times in one month and everyone who tried it agreed. And it's not hard to do. At all. It just takes a little time. (I guess cyborg superwomen can prep all this in 5 minutes, but I could not.) I've served it with pita chips, tortilla chips, and French bread minis. Yes, yes, yes. Pretty sure you could serve it with shoe leather and still leave with an empty dish.

One of the best things about this dip is--and Linda Karber, you'll appreciate this!--is that it has NO MAYO. Yay! And don't skimp on the cayenne. The pepperjack gives the dip a good kick, but you still need the cayenne for even more heat.

Oh, I just had a GREAT idea! It's Labor Day weekend. No doubt you are hosting or attending some holiday gathering. MAKE THIS. You'll win.

The Best Spinach Artichoke Dip EVER
  • 3 tbsp. butter
  • 4 tbsp. garlic, minced
  • 1 bag spinach
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 cans artichoke hearts, rinsed and drained
  • 3 tbsp. butter (additional)
  • 3 tbsp. flour
  • 1-1/2 cup whole milk (more if needed)
  • 1 package (8 oz.) softened cream cheese
  • 1/2 c. crumbled feta
  • 1/2 c. grated parmesan
  • 3/4 c. grated pepper Jack cheese
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne
  • Extra grated pepper Jack
  • Pita wedges, tortilla chips, crackers
Melt 3 tablespoons butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and cook for a couple of minutes. Crank up the heat a bit and throw in the spinach. Stir around and cook for a couple of minutes until the spinach wilts. Remove the spinach from the skillet and put it in a small strainer. Squeeze the excess juice back into the skillet. Set the spinach aside.

Throw in the artichokes and cook over medium high heat for several minutes, until liquid is cooked off and artichokes start to get a little color. Remove the artichokes.

In the same skillet or a different pot, melt 3 additional tablespoons of butter and whisk in 3 tablespoons of flour until it makes a paste. Cook over medium-low heat for a minute or two, then pour in milk. Stir and cook until slightly thickened; splash in more milk if needed.

Add cream cheese, feta, Parmesan, pepper jack, and cayenne and stir until cheese are melted and sauce is smooth. Chop artichokes and spinach and add to the sauce. Stir to combine.

Pour into buttered baking dish. Top with extra grated pepper jack and bake at 375 for 15 minutes, or until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Whole Wheat Pop Tarts from Scratch!

Since my life has been occupied by play rehearsals, I have asked a very good friend of mine if I could feature a Facebook post of hers on my blog. So, please, enjoy! (Thanks, Natalie!) And I am seriously annoyted with the new Blogger because now I can't get my font size to be the same as before. Immaterial, I know. But it irks me.

Whole Wheat Pop Tarts from Scratch!

Start by making a pie crust as follows:

Whole Wheat Pie Crust

1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/3 cup butter
4-5 Tablespoons cold water

I made this using a food processor but I'm sure you can do it by hand. Mix the wheat and salt. Cut in the butter until it resembles a crumb. Add the water until you get it to form a ball. Divide the dough into equal halves. Roll out into a square . You want it to be pretty thin but not so thin you can't peel it off the counter without tearing it. Cut off any rough edges so that it looks like a square. Cut into 6 rectangles. Place 3 rectangles on a parchment lined baking sheet.

Add your favorite filling and spread without reaching the edges of the dough. (I used jam but you could use Nutella or almost anything else. You can even make them savory like a calzone, or fill it with pesto...endless possibilities!) Put the other 3 rectangles on top of the filled ones and gently press edges with a fork to close. Repeat with the other half of the dough.

Beat 1 egg with 1 Tbs. water. Brush onto the top of the pop tarts. (Optional.) Poke holes in the top with a fork.

Bake at 375 for approx. 20 minutes or until golden brown. Promptly remove to cooling rack.

I got this idea from the book "The Homemade Pantry" By Alana Chernila.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Protocol Droid Pasta

Wanna guess whose idea this was? (It's supposed to resemble C-3PO, in case you can't tell. And if you don't know who C-3PO is, I applaud you.)

Kiddo had Spring Break this week, so since Friday is my day off, it was just him and me at home for a while. I asked him what he thought we should do, and he decided we should cook something together, but not just anything--something out of this Star Wars cook book. We eventually settled on Protocol Droid Pasta, which is very little cooking, mostly assembly. And I wouldn't consider this a kid's recipe, because there wasn't a whole lot I could have him do. But the end result sorta came out like it was supposed to, except for the fact that I didn't have any turmeric with which to dye the cauliflower yellow. And my pile of pasta wasn't shaped like a head.

As far as difficulty goes, there isn't any. And it tastes pretty simple, too. I ended up stirring in more pine nuts--rather than the two the recipe calls for--which added some texture and flavor.

I'm not going to be able to share this recipe, because it isn't available anywhere except for in the book, but I can tell you what's in it: tri-color spaghetti, chicken stock, parmesan, and cauliflower and pine nuts as garnish. Then then face plates are sourdough bread brushed with olive oil and dusted with garlic salt. Tada!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Mexican Mochi Pizza

Three culinary worlds have collided with my boredom and landed on a plate. I know, right?!

First of all, lemme describe mochi. Er, rather, let's have Wikipedia describe it: "Mochi is a Japanese rice cake made of glutinous rice (not to be confused with gluten) pounded into paste and molded into shape." I found this at Whole Paycheck--read that today while reading a different recipe and it make me laugh--when I was searching for gluten-free stuff. I wasn't sure what I was going to do with it until I googled "mochi pizza". I found this video, and got inspired.

Fast-forward several weeks. Since today is Friday and I'm home alone, I decided to play around with my burrito leftovers. As I was pulling them out of the fridge, I came across the mochi and had the perfect idea: Mexican mochi pizza! I pan-fried the mochi according to the above video and then layered beans, Tapatio (hot sauce), cheese, sauteed bell pepper, taco meat. After the photo, I added a few slices of avocado, too. DELISH!

This was a pretty ingenious idea, if I do say so myself. Now, a note about mochi--it's dense. I used only half of the 6 oz. block and it was too much. But it tastes fine, not like anything, really. Makes it versatile. When I make the other half, I'm gonna bake it as directed on the package, and I'll try to remember to leave a comment here about it.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Garlic Naan Pizza

I had a brilliant idea.

Buy some garlic naan. Brush with olive oil. Top with whatever you want. Bake at 350 for about 12 minutes.

(I was so excited to eat this--hadn't eaten all day--that I didn't even think I might want to blog this until it was too late.)

My toppings (in order):
3 cheese blend (parmesan, asiago, romano)
asparagus tips
sundried tomatoes
artichoke hearts
grilled chicken

Added for the last 5 minutes:
miniscule amount of bacon crumbles
lil more cheese


Saturday, February 11, 2012

Buffalo Chicken and Potatoes

This seemed like such a perfect Super Bowl Sunday dish--buffalo chicken, cheese, potatoes... *sigh*

I am disappointed with the way this recipe turned out. It had SO much potential, but I messed it all up. The boys didn't mind it too much, but I think they were just being nice. The potatoes weren't soft enough, the wing sauce (Jack Daniel's) didn't taste right, and the corn flake crumbs--I suggest using more than called for--weren't crispy. And I used Ranch dressing instead of bleu cheese because of the palates in my house, and I think I shouldn't have. I also just now realized that I left off the green onions.

Anyway, I encourage you to make this, because there is no challenge in it whatsoever and it can be SO much better than what it was.

(Jalapeno cornbread in the background, which was also a bust)

Buffalo Chicken and Potatoes

1 1/4 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch strips
1/3 cup buffalo wing sauce
6 cups frozen (thawed) southern-style hash brown potatoes
1 cup ranch or blue cheese dressing
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese (2 oz)
1 can (10 oz) condensed cream of celery soup
1/2 cup corn flake crumbs
2 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
1/4 cup chopped green onions (3 to 4 medium)

Heat oven to 350°F. Spray 13x9-inch (3-quart) baking dish with cooking spray.

In medium bowl, stir together chicken strips and wing sauce.

In large bowl, stir together potatoes, dressing, cheese and soup. Spoon into baking dish. Place chicken strips in single layer over potato mixture.

In small bowl, stir together crumbs and butter. Sprinkle in baking dish.

Cover with foil. Bake 30 minutes; uncover and bake 20 to 25 minutes longer or until potatoes are tender and juice of chicken is no longer pink when centers of thickest pieces are cut. Sprinkle with green onions.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Honey Jack Bacon Snack Mix

Super Bowl Sunday means snack foods, so the first recipe I decided to try was this one for Kentucky Bourbon Bacon Chex Mix; however, I didn't use bourbon or bacon. Or Chex mix.

Below is the recipe with my changes. Yes, I'll make this again. It's sweet, salty, spicy, addicting. I'm forcing myself to ignore the giant tub full, sitting on my counter. The only slight problem I have with this was the turkey bacon got a little overdone in the oven. I might not make it AS crispy next time.

Honey Jack Bacon Snack Mix

1 bag (15 oz) snack mix
1/2 lb turkey bacon (6 to 8 slices), crisply cooked and crumbled
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup light corn syrup
2 tablespoons Jack Daniel's Tennessee Honey whiskey
3/4 teaspoon chipotle chili powder

Heat oven to 300°F. Line two 15x10x1-inch pans with foil. Spray foil with cooking spray. In large bowl, mix snack mix and bacon. Set aside.

In 2-quart saucepan, heat brown sugar, butter and corn syrup over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until bubbly around edges. Cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally; remove from heat. Cool 2 minutes. Carefully stir in bourbon and chipotle chili powder. Pour over snack mixture; toss until evenly coated.

Spread snack mixture on pans. Bake 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes, to caramelize mixture. Cool completely, about 1 hour. Break into pieces. Store covered in refrigerator.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Heath Chip Donuts

I've been bad. I've been very, very bad. I...BAKED!!!

This is what happens when I'm home alone and bored. In case you didn't know, I am currently in the process of getting my good body back. I have made changes to my diet and my daily routine to facilitate this. I've actually entered a contest at my gym to keep me motivated. Baking donuts, however, is not conducive to achieving my fitness goals.

All that said, these are pretty darn good! I ate one hot off the presses--more about that in a moment--and now I'm done. Now, you'll notice I said I baked donuts, and not that I fried donuts. This makes me feel a teensy bit better about this recipe. It still has too much butter and sugar to be considered acceptable, though.

Anyway, back to the baking process: in a Christmas gift exchange with our family, we received a Sunbeam Donut Maker. It's been chilling out in the box for a month, and tonight it called to me. I had a feeling there'd be a recipe book inside, and sure enough, there was. (You can find the entire user manual at the link above.) I took the liberty of adding Heath chips, to give these donuts a little more dimension. And because, obviously, there weren't enough calories already.

The only problem I had with this very simple recipe was the batter's thickness. I anticipated it being pourable, and it wasn't. Not sure why, but this is what happened as a result of slightly over-filling the molds with extra thick batter:


Chocolate Chip Donuts

Makes: 10
Preparation: 5 minutes
Cooking: 12 minutes (6 minutes per batch)
This donut batter is best made just before making donuts. Un-iced donuts will keep in an airtight container for up to 1 day.

1½ cups plain flour
½ cup sugar
1½ teaspoons baking powder
9 tablespoons butter, melted
¾ cup milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
½ cup milk chocolate bits
Cocoa powder, to dust

1. Preheat Donut machine. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Make a well in the center. Whisk in the butter, milk, egg and chocolate bits until mixture forms a smooth batter. Transfer to a pitcher or fabric piping bag.

2. Spray machine with cooking oil. Fill bases of preheated donut rings with half of the batter. Close lid and cook for 6 minutes or until donuts are golden and cooked. Use a non-stick spatula to transfer donuts to a wire rack. Repeat with remaining batter to make 10 donuts in total. Dust with cocoa powder, if desired.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Kabocha Squash Hummus

Early in the week, I made this, but I didn't take any pictures, because hummus just isn't that attractive. I also wasn't sure if I was going to even post it as a blog, since I've blogged about hummus already. But, alas, I didn't get around to making anything else new this week, so I decided to go ahead and do it.

I think I'd like this recipe a lot more if it called for a certain amount of squash, i.e. less. I roasted only have of the squash and didn't even use all of it, because my food processor is a mini. Still, it's too squashy. So, add the kabocha with caution, unless you REALLY LOVE it.

Kabocha Squash Hummus

1 medium kabocha squash--peeled, seeds removed and discarded, and flesh coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 head garlic
One 16-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1½ tablespoons tahini
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon garlic-chile paste

1. Preheat the oven to 350°. In a large bowl, toss the squash pieces with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread the squash on a baking sheet, place in the oven and roast until the squash flesh is fork tender, about 30 minutes. Remove the squash from the oven and set aside to cool slightly.

2. Slice the top of the garlic head off and drizzle with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, then wrap in aluminum foil and place in the oven until softened and fragrant, about 30 minutes. Reserve two of the cloves for the hummus and save the rest for another use.

3. In a food processor, combine the cooked squash, roasted garlic cloves, chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice and garlic-chile paste. Process until smooth, season with salt and serve at room temperature.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Chocolate-Dipped Smoked Almond-Bacon Brittle

I am SO no kidding you right now! This really happened. And I have one of my best friends to thank for it. Two of them, actually!

My lifelong friend, Libby, is throwing a Bacon party this weekend, and each guest is asked to bring some food containing bacon--classic or otherwise. Right away I decided to bring my favorite layered salad and some Bacon Explosions that I have in the freezer. My friend, Meg, decided she wanted to try something from her I Love Bacon cookbook. But since she hadn't tried making it before, she came over so that we could test it out first, in case it was a massive fail. But honestly, how can anything with bacon and candy together in one place be a failure? I know.

Since we were unsure of how many people we'd be feeding, we decided to double the recipe. (This was also because Meg was certain only half of it would make it to the party.) This more than quadrupled the cook time, however, so if you're going to double this recipe, I highly suggest you do it in batches. Or have plenty of wine handy to help you power through all the stirring.

In classic M.E. style, one ingredient got left out--the pink peppercorns. I ended up grinding a little black pepper in and also adding a couple dashes of cayenne to give it a kick, but the heat is lost in all the sweet. It's still yummy, though, and I'm sure it's going to be a huge hit!

Thanks for joining me, Meg! We may just have to make this a regular thing...
(Yes, we got photobombed by the mister.)

Chocolate-Dipped Smoked Almond-Bacon Brittle

¼ pound bacon
2 cups smoked almonds
1 ¼ cups sugar
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons water
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes, at room temperature
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon crushed pink peppercorns
8 ounces 60% cacao chocolate, chopped

Cut bacon into bite-size pieces. Place pieces in large saute pan and cook over medium heat until crispy, about 10 minutes. Drain and set aside. Coarsely chop smoked almonds and set aside. Line baking sheet with silicone liner or waxed paper.

In large saucepan, combine sugar, corn syrup and water. Cook mixture on medium-high heat about 4 minutes, or until sugar turns thick and syrupy. Slowly add softened butter and continue stirring until mixture emulsifies. Keep cooking and stirring until mixture is golden brown, about 4 minutes longer.

Remove pan from heat. If mixture is not smooth, whisk until it is. Stir in baking soda, salt, peppercorns, crispy bacon bits and almonds. Quickly but carefully pour brittle onto prepared baking sheet. When cool and hard, break brittle into bite-size pieces.

Melt chocolate in microwave in a microwave-safe bowl in 30-second intervals, stirring in between intervals, until mixture is entirely melted but not hot. Cool chocolate to room temperature, then either dip pieces of brittle in the chocolate or drizzle the chocolate on top. Chill brittle until chocolate is set. Store in a tightly sealed container for up to 1 week.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Red Curry Hummus

I realize that this recipe isn't all that new, since all hummus uses basically the same base, but this one prepares the beans FIRST, which ended up making all the difference! So when my attempt to use up some ingredients in my fridge turned out so yummy, I had to blog about it.

I love this recipe. I still think there's too much tahini for my taste buds, but everything else is perfect. I even used Morton Light salt and it's fantastic. Love love love! I just wish I had some naan.

Red Curry Hummus

1 (15 ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained
1/4 cup lemon juice, fresh
2 tablespoons tahini paste
1 tablespoon red curry paste
1 garlic clove
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons parsley, fresh

Prepare Garbanzo Beans by using fingers to rub off as many of the paper membranes as possible. Bring Beans to a boil in salted water and cook for about 10 minutes. This process is tedious (and optional) but will result in very creamy hummus.

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until creamy. If the consistency isn't quite to your liking, add additional teaspoons of water.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

2011 is Over


2011 is over, and my recipe resolution has been fulfilled. Was I successful in trying a new recipe every week? On average, yes. In actuality, no. But I feel accomplished nonetheless. I had some fabulous experiences in the kitchen last year. I even feel positive about all my screw-ups (which amounts to at least half of my recipes) because they taught me to be more careful.

I have decided to continue blogging about new recipes I have made, but I'm not going to promise that I'll do it once a week. If all goes well, in the next several days I'll be jumping headfirst into a new career that will have me traveling up and down the state every week and sometimes out of state. I think it would be silly for me to expect a new recipe from myself on a weekly basis.

To those of you who have been around since the beginning, I applaud you for sticking with me! And to those of you who've joined in more recently, thanks so much for coming, and please don't hesitate to comment and make suggestions about anything/everything food!

I do have a question for you: which screw-ups would you like to see me make RIGHT?? I have a few ideas, like the debut Fabio Viviani recipe, but I'd love to hear from my readers. So take a looksie if you have time and holler out your choices!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Panko Crusted Crab Cake Bites with Roasted Pepper Chive Aioli

How amazing do these sound?? I knew as soon as I got the "Dish from Food" email that these would be on my NYE menu. And they were a HIT! I just wish more people would have been able to try them; we had 5 no-shows. :^{

These hors d'oeuvres are simple and delicious. The only change I had to make to this recipe was using dried chives instead of fresh. Why? Because my grocery store had NO fresh chives! I bet the fresh zing of those tiny little onions would have made all the difference. And actually, I had some green onions that I could have diced up and added, but I didn't think of that at the time. Next time I can't find fresh chives, though, I'll do that. Because I am making these again.

Panko Crusted Crab Cake Bites with Roasted Pepper Chive Aioli

12 ounces shelled cooked crab
1/4 cup finely diced celery
1/4 cup minced fresh chives
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 large egg
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon hot sauce
1 1/4 cups panko (see notes) or fine dried bread crumbs
Roasted Pepper-Chive Aioli (recipe follows)
Fresh chives, rinsed and cut into 1-inch lengths

Sort through crab and discard any bits of shell.

In a large bowl, combine celery, minced chives, mayonnaise, egg, mustard, and hot sauce; mix well with a fork. Add crab and 1/4 cup panko; stir gently just to mix.

Put remaining 1 cup panko in a shallow bowl. Shape crab mixture into 24 cakes, each about 2 inches wide and 1/2 inch thick. Turn each cake in panko to coat on all sides, pressing gently to make crumbs adhere. Place cakes slightly apart in an oiled 12- by 17-inch baking pan.

Bake in a 475° regular or convection oven until golden brown, 15 to 18 minutes. With a spatula, transfer crab cakes to a platter. Spoon a dollop of Roasted Pepper-Chive Aioli onto each cake. Garnish platter with fresh chives. Serve hot.

Roasted Pepper-Chive Aioli

In a small bowl, mix 1/3 cup mayonnaise, 1/4 cup chopped drained canned roasted red peppers, 1 tablespoon minced fresh chives, 2 teaspoons lemon juice, and 1 teaspoon minced garlic. Makes about 1/2 cup.