Monday, July 1, 2013

Little Pluot Cakes

These. Are. Fabulous.

And fool proof! Very rarely do I bake something and have it turn out perfectly, in my opinion. But the directions here are very easy to follow, and as long as you measure correctly, I can pretty much guarantee you'll achieve the desired result; unless, of course, your oven sucks.

There is nothing complicated here, and what takes the longest is slicing the fruit. Now, the original recipe calls for apricots, but since I had a drawer full of pluots from our neighbor, I decided to use a couple of those. And I cut up 4, using most of the slices. The end result was heavenly. I think it's the lemon zest that really pushed these over a delicious edge, and the light and fluffy texture makes you believe these cakes can't possibly be bad for you.

Little Apricot Cakes

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup whole milk
2 apricots, halved, pitted, cut into 1/4-inch wedges
2 tablespoons raw sugar

Preheat oven to 350°. Coat muffin cups with nonstick spray. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar in another medium bowl, occasionally scraping down sides of bowl, until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add egg, lemon zest, and vanilla and beat until combined.

With mixer on low speed, add dry ingredients in 3 additions alternately with milk in 2 additions, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Divide batter among muffin cups (cups will be only 1/3 full) and smooth tops. Top with apricot slices and sprinkle with raw sugar.

Bake until cakes are golden and a tester inserted into the centers comes out clean, 20–25 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack; let pan cool 5 minutes. Transfer cakes to rack and let cool completely.

DO AHEAD: Cakes can be made 1 day ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Cowboy Quiche

Gonna cut right to the result on this one: I was so happy that not only did this dish turn out great, the boys DEVOURED it! And the little man has said for years that he doesn't like eggs. Go figure!

Sorry 'bout the fancy plate.
Okay, now down to the nitty gritty. This is a 2-step process. The first thing you have to do is make the pie crust. (Or you could buy a prepared crust, but Ree--Drummond, The Pioneer Woman--swears by hers. She's so sure of it, she calls it "Perfect Pie Crust".) That part was pretty easy, and the recipe makes 3 freezable crusts, so I'm set for a while. But the trickiest part of this process was rolling the dough out evenly enough to efficiently cover my pie pan. And, as you can see by the photos, the crust bested me. Meh. Held the quiche just fine.

The rest of this dish was a cinch. Cook bacon. Saute onions. Crack eggs. Add cheese. Boom! Taste sensation. It's not all that cute, though. If you click on the link to be taken to be Ree's original post, you'll see that hers is much prettier. Even her onions kept their caramel color. I did everything the way she told me to--almost. I used only 1 onion, 4 XL eggs & 2 L eggs, and a little more than 1 cup half n half, of which someone mistakenly brought me fat-free--but I guess I need a few more culinary years under my belt before my stuff looks like hers. (Just kidding. I have a feeling my stuff will never look like hers.)


Sylvia's Perfect Pie Crust

1-1/2 cup Crisco
3 cups All-purpose Flour
1 whole Egg
5 Tablespoons Cold Water
1 Tablespoon White Vinegar
1 teaspoon Salt

In a large bowl, with a pastry cutter, gradually work the Crisco into the flour for about 3 or 4 minutes until it resembles a coarse meal. In a small bowl, beat an egg with a fork and then pour it into the flour/shortening mixture. Add 5 tablespoons of cold water, 1 tablespoon of white vinegar and 1 teaspoon of salt. Stir together gently until all of the ingredients are incorporated.

Separate the dough into thirds. Form 3 evenly sized balls of dough and place each dough into a large Ziploc bag. Using a rolling pin, slightly flatten each ball of dough (about ½ inch thick) to make rolling easier later. Seal the bags and place them in the freezer until you need them. (If you will be using it immediately it’s still a good idea to put in the freezer for about 15 to 20 minutes to chill.)

When you are ready to use the dough to make a crust, remove from the freezer and allow to thaw for 15 minutes. On a floured surface roll the dough, starting at the center and working your way out. (Sprinkle some flour over top of the dough if it’s a bit too moist.) If the dough is sticking to the countertop use a metal spatula and carefully scrape it up and flip it over and continue rolling until it’s about ½ inch larger in diameter than your pie pan.

With a spatula, lift the dough carefully from the surface of the counter into the pie pan. Gently press the dough against the corner of the pan. Go around the pie pan pinching and tucking the dough to make a clean edge.

Cowboy Quiche

1 whole Unbaked Pie Crust (enough For A Deep Dish Pan)
2 whole Yellow Onions, Sliced
2 Tablespoons Butter
8 slices Bacon
8 whole Large Eggs
1-1/2 cup Heavy Cream Or Half-and-Half
Salt And Pepper, to taste
2 cups Grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese

Fry the onions in the butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat for at least 15 to 20 minutes (maybe longer), stirring occasionally, until the onions are deep golden brown. Set aside to cool.

Fry the bacon until chewy. Chop into large bite-sized pieces and set aside to cool.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Roll out the pie crust and press it into a large fluted deep tart pan (or a deep dish pie pan). Whip the eggs, cream, salt and pepper in a large bowl, then mix in the onions, bacon, and cheese. Pour the mixture into the pie crust.

Place the pan on a rimmed baking sheet, cover lightly with aluminum foil, and bake it for about 40 to 45 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the quiche is set and the crust is golden brown. (The quiche will still seem slightly loose, but will continue to set once remove from the oven.)

Remove from the oven and allow to sit for 10 to 15 minutes. If using a tart pan, remove the quiche from the pan, cut into slices with a sharp serrated knife, and serve!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

PBnB Cookie Dough Bites

That's not the real name of these little treats, but that's what I'm calling them. And the second B stands for "bean". Yep. Peanut butter and bean. Sounds horrible, but honestly, the garbanzos take on the flavors of the peanut butter and honey really well, so if I hadn't told you there were beans in these cookies, you wouldn't have known (until you scrolled down and read the recipe, of course).

I got lazy and didn't even try to stylize this shot.
I was kinda disappointed in the finished product. It didn't look anything like the original photo, and I did everything right! I even took the extra step of peeling all the beans first. I'm wondering, though, if I left too much water on the beans. That could have been the problem. But they tasted good to me. I am super excited that this recipe is flourless. And because they are kinda rich, one cookie dough bite really is enough to satisfy a sweet tooth!

This recipe is very simple and takes little time, unless you choose to peel all the beans. That takes a while, but for me, it's worth it to get that very smooth texture. And I used mini chips instead of regular chips, which could be another reason my finished product didn't look at awesome as the original. In any case, I'll be making these again...especially since the boys have zero desire to try them. All MINE!!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bites

1 1/4 cups canned chickpeas, well-rinsed and patted dry with a paper towel 

2 teaspoons vanilla extract 
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons natural peanut butter 
1/4 cup honey (agave would be amazing too!) 
1 teaspoon baking powder a pinch of salt if your peanut butter doesn’t have salt in it 
1/2 cup chocolate chips 

Preheat your oven to 350°F. Combine all the ingredients, except for the chocolate chips, in a food processor and process until very smooth. Make sure to scrape the sides and the top to get the little chunks of chickpeas and process again until they’re combined. Put in the chocolate chips and stir it if you can, or pulse it once or twice. The mixture will be very thick and sticky. 

With wet hands, form into 1 1/2″ balls. Place onto a piece of parchment paper. If you want them to look more like normal cookies, press down slightly on the balls. They don’t do much rising. Bake for about 10 minutes.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

S'mores Bars

You ready for a sugar shock?? Make these.

FYI: The sweeter bites are those that have fewer pieces of graham cracker. And the main reason these are so sweet in the first place is because I had the bright idea to replace half of the dark chocolate chips with milk chocolate chips. Seemed like a great idea at the time, since s'mores are typically made with milk chocolate, anyway (and the mister doesn't care for dark chocolate).

These are easy, and took me about 20 minutes to prepare. But, when you make these, follow the recipe, and definitely have a glass of milk or cup of black coffee at the ready.

S'mores Bars 
½ cups Unsalted Butter, Softened 
¾ cups Granulated Sugar 
¾ cups Brown Sugar 
2 whole Eggs 
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract 
2-¼ cups All-purpose Flour 
1 teaspoon Baking Soda 
½ teaspoons Salt 
¼ cups Unsweetened Cocoa Powder 
¼ cups Whole Milk 
1 cup Crushed Graham Crackers, (not super fine; you want chunks) 
2 cups Dark Chocolate Chunks 
4-½ cups Mini Marshmallows 

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease and flour a 9 x 13 baking dish and set it aside. 

In a large bowl beat together butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar until fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time. Beat in vanilla. Set aside. 

In another bowl combine flour, baking soda, salt and cocoa powder. Slowly add dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Beat in milk. Fold in graham crackers. Batter will be thick and sticky. Press batter into the prepared baking pan. Sprinkle dark chocolate chunks in a single layer over the top. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes. Remove from oven. Top with marshmallows. Bake for an additional 5 minutes then turn on the broiler and broil for 30 seconds to 1 minute or until marshmallows brown slightly. 

Remove pan from oven and set it on a rack. Allow bars to cool, slice and serve.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

My Chicken Scampi

A+! That's the rating this recipe got all around. Makes me happy because although I based it on another recipe, I'm choosing to believe my changes are what pushed this over the top.

This took me just over an hour to make (I think--didn't pay very close attention), but nothing was hard. My sauce was a little thick, so next time I make it, I'll either cook it for a shorter amount of time, or add a little less flour to the roux. Oh, and this is not low-fat. There is about half a cup of butter in this thing. (That's why it doesn't need bacon.)

M.E.'s Chicken Scampi

1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
3/4 c warm milk
3 tbsp butter
2 tbsp Gourmet Garden Garlic blend
Red pepper flakes (to taste)
Black pepper (to taste)
1 c chicken broth
1/4 c white wine

1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp flour
garlic salt (to taste)
black pepper (to taste)
5-6 boneless skinless chicken breast tenders
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
Juice from 1 lemon

Heat 1 tbsp butter in sauce pan, add flour and cook for 2 minutes on medium heat, stirring constantly. Slowly add milk (still stirring) and cook to desired thickness. Cover and set aside. Heat other 3 tbsp butter over low heat. Add garlic, crushed red pepper, and black pepper. Cook for about 2 minutes. Add the wine and chicken broth. Turn heat up to medium and cook about another 20-25 minutes, stirring frequently.

Meanwhile, melt another tbsp butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Season chicken breast pieces with garlic salt and pepper, then lightly coat with flour. Saute until chicken is almost done, then add bell pepper. Add lemon juice for the final minute of cooking.

After sauce has reduced a little, turn heat to low and add reserved white sauce and cook until slightly thickened.

How you serve this dish is up to you. You can add the chicken and peppers to the sauce before serving over your favorite pasta, or you can add the sauce to the pasta and serve the chicken and peppers on top. I, obviously, put the sauce on last. Any which way you do it, it'll be great!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Fusilli with Red Pepper Sauce

It has been a while since I've blogged about a new recipe! And it's not that I haven't been making new things. I have. I've just been short on time. And brain cells.

I have to say: this is one of the best dishes I've made in a long time. Of course, I wish I was inventive enough to have come up with this on my own. But, alas, I still have no idea how to create and combine flavors. But whoever created this did a wonderful job, especially considering I used 2 red peppers instead of 3 and half a red onion instead of a whole. All the same, wonderful flavor. And the fresh basil is the perfect finishing touch!

This recipe doesn't give a prep/cook time estimate, but I'll tell you it took me an hour and a half. That's because I was moving slowly, doing dishes as I went, etc. I also used some time to brown a pound and a half of meat, some of which I added to this dish. (The recipe listed is vegetarian.) If you are a skilled dicer--or if you have a handy dandy food chopper--you might get it all done quicker. I didn't even wait a full 10 minutes for the sauce to cool before blending. I waited about 5, transferred it to a bowl, and used my second favorite hand-held kitchen tool, my immersion blender. LOVE that thing!

So, in the end, if you aren't in a hurry, take the time to try this. I'm sure you can substitute vegetable broth for the wine if you'd prefer.

Rigatoni with Red Pepper Sauce

Kosher salt
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound rigatoni
1 large red onion, peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic, peeled, crushed, and minced
3 red bell peppers, trimmed, seeded, ribs removed, diced
1⁄4 cup white wine
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 vegetable bouillon cube
2 cups low-fat or nonfat plain yogurt
3 tablespoons low-fat cream cheese
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Chopped fresh basil leaves

Fill the stockpot 3⁄4 full with water and bring to a boil. Add 1 tablespoon salt and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Cook pasta according to package directions, then drain in the colander.

Set the fry pan over medium heat. When hot, add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Sweat the onions, garlic, and peppers until onions are translucent, not brown, and peppers are soft.

Stir in the wine, 1 teaspoon salt, the paprika, and the bouillon cube. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the yogurt and cream cheese to the sauce, and allow to cook until just simmering, but not boiling. Take off the heat and cool for about 10 minutes, or long enough to safely transfer the sauce to the blender without risk of being burned by hot liquids. Blend until smooth and lump-free.

Return pasta to stockpot and mix in sauce until pasta is well coated, or transfer pasta to individual plates and spoon sauce on top. Add freshly grated Parmesan, basil, and pepper, as preferred.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Chocolate Avocado Pudding

This was supposed to be the greatest thing. When I saw the recipe, I thought, "This sounds exactly like what my life has been missing!" I was wrong.

Pardon my unedited photo.

This was such a disappointment. I have been loving avocados these days, and there is never a time when I don't love chocolate. But the two of them together is just not where it's at. It could be that I couldn't find any 72% cacao chocolate, but I'm not sure how big of a difference that would make in this particular recipe. Thank goodness I halved it!

Ugh, my heart. So sad.

Chocolate Avocado Pudding

4 ripe avocados
1/4 cup light coconut milk
4 tablespoons unsweetened dark cocoa powder
3 tablespoons honey
2 ounces of dark chocolate (72% or higher), melted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt

Remove avocados from the skin (and pit) and place in a food processor. Blend until combined and creamy. Add in all remaining ingredients, blending until pureed, scraping down the sides when needed to combine. Taste and season/sweetened additionally if desired. Blend for a good 1-2 minutes until completely creamy, then serve with desired toppings.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Tomato Soup


Dicing 5 shallots is no fun for me. The flavor, of course, is essential. (And even though this recipe called for 5, I was only able to use 4, thanks to my very long finger nails getting in the way of my knife blade. Fun times.) But I really need to find me some goggles.

This recipe was kind of a pain in the butt. It took me 2 hours total. I definitely should have managed my time more wisely today, but that's certainly not the soup's fault. I would make this again in a heartbeat, though, as long as I have the time. I made 2 changes--omitted one shallot (on accident) and all of the thyme. Because I hate thyme. I will never ever use it again ever. The next time I make it, I might use less red pepper flakes. I love the spice, but everyone else might not. But considering I'm the only one eating it this time around, I'm very happy with it.

I'm not taking a photo yet, because since the soup took 2 hours, I didn't have time to make my croutons. So if I have time tomorrow to make them, I'll then take and post a photo of the soup.

Oh! I almost forgot to mention: I used my immersion blender to blend it. I did not follow the ridiculous steps below.

Tomato Soup

3 28 ounce cans whole, peeled tomatoes, juices drained and reserved
2 Tbsp brown sugar
5 shallots, minced
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1 1/2 tsp thyme
1 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
3 Tbsp unsalted butter
3 Tbsp flour
3 cups chicken broth

Heat oven to 450

Line 2 baking sheets with foil. Open cans of tomatoes and pour them into a strainer over a bowl separating the tomatoes from the juice. Use your fingers to open the tomatoes and scoop out the seeds (you can trash them). Place tomatoes flat on the foil lined baking sheet and sprinkle with brown sugar. Bake for 30 minutes. Let the tomatoes cool.

Mince shallots. Set aside.

Heat butter in a stock pot on medium until foaming. Add shallots, tomato paste and spices. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shallots are soft, about 10 minutes.

Add flour to the shallots and cook until combined, about 30 seconds. Gradually add reserved tomato juice, chicken broth and roasted tomatoes. Bring the soup to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer on low, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes.

Remove the pot from the heat and strain the soup to separate the solids and the liquids. Put the solids in a blender with 2 cups of the liquid and puree until smooth. Return the puree and the liquids to the pot and return the pot to the stove. Heat on low for 5 minutes until everything is hot and combined. Correct seasoning with salt, pepper or brown sugar.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Tangy Pork Cutlets

I had high hopes for Tangy Pork Cutlets. I just KNEW they would be a big hit. But they were quite the opposite.

Obviously, this isn't my photo. I decided to blog about this dish after we were done.

I didn't mind them, especially the bite I took that was nice and tender. But I think the mistake I made was using light olive oil instead of butter. (There really is no substitute for butter, folks.) I was attempting to make this dish a little healthier--doctor's orders--and it just didn't work out like I had hoped. The mister took two bites and said, "No, thank you." 

The prep is super simple, so that was nice. If you're going to try your hand at this, definitely don't cook these as long as suggested. Pork gets tough quickly. I also wouldn't cover them. They get all moist that way, and you lose the crispiness.

The flavor was fine. I didn't really get "tangy" but maybe that's just me. If you try these, please comment and let me know!

Tangy Pork Cutlets

3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 large egg, beaten
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon lemon pepper
1 pound pork cutlets ( 1/4 inch thick)
2 cups crisp rice cereal, crushed
4 tablespoons butter

Combine the lemon juice and egg in a shallow dish.

Combine flour, salt and lemon pepper in a shallow dish.

Coat pork with flour mixture. Dip in lemon juice mixture, then coat with cereal.

Heat butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook pork in melted butter until browned, about 2 minutes per side. Reduce the heat to low. Cook, covered, until pork is tender, about 21 minutes.