Sunday
Monday
Tuesday
Wednesday
Thursday
Friday
Saturday
beef fajitas with corn salsa, black beans
sesame chicken, rice, broccoli
crab ravioli with peas
lasagna Bolognese, salad
Hula chicken sandwiches, salad
pizza pizzas
out to Sweet Basil

Monday, December 30, 2013

Cranberry and Brie Crostini

Cranberry Brie Crostini
These little crostini are the perfect way to used some leftover cranberry sauce. I prefer to make my cranberry sauce, but C prefers the cranberry jelly log from a can.  In fact, next year he wants to cook Thanksgiving so he can have heat n serve rolls and canned cranberry.  His grand plan is to only serve stuffing, gravy, rolls and the cranberry log.  I am not sure how he is going to accomplish this without roasting a turkey, but I would love to seem him try.  Maybe not on Thanksgiving day, but for some other Sunday dinner.  I would love to see what he comes up with.  I loved the cranberry with the brie so much, that I will replace the apricot with cranberry sauce next time I make baked brie.
Cranberry Brie Crostini

1 baguette, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ pound Brie, warmed
1 cup cranberry sauce

Slice the baguette into ½" slices. Brush baguette slices lightly with olive oil and place on a foil covered cookie sheet. Broil the slices for 1 to 2 minutes, just until a light golden brown.

Place the brie on a microwave-safe plate and microwave until cheese begins to melt and is warmed through, try it for 30 seconds at a time, it melts quickly. Spread a tablespoon of brie on each crostini. Top with a teaspoon of cranberry sauce.
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Friday, December 27, 2013

Cranberry Margaritas

Cranberry Margaritas
I have been wanting to make Confections of a Foodie Bride's Cranberry Margaritas for quite some time. My friend Courtney hosted a booze exchange last Christmas and it was so much fun. She was in the middle of moving this year, so I deicded to take over hosting. I served TexMex appetizers, chips and queSNOW, short rib FELIZ empanadas, chicken and spinach SANTAquitos, vegetables with jalapeNOEL ranch, with Mexican HOHOHOt Chocolate cupcakes for dessert. It was great to get all my girlfriends together for an evening of fun. I thought I had made too many margaritas (2 gallons,) but we polished them all off.
Cranberry Margaritas

1 ¼ cup cranberry juice cocktail
2 to 3 tablespoons sugar, to taste
1 ¼ cup fresh cranberries
¾ cup fresh lime juice
¾ cup tequila
½ cup orange liqueur

Add the cranberry juice, sugar, 1 cup of the cranberries, lime juice, tequila and orange liqueur into a blender. Blend for a minute or so, until smooth. Pour through a strainer to catch the cranberry pulp. Pour over ice and garnish with the reserved ¼ cup of cranberries.
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Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Holiday Card 4
From my family to yours, wishing you the happiest of holidays!
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Monday, December 23, 2013

Candy Cane Chocolate Cookies

Candy Cane Chocolate Cookies
Miss F was insistent that we bake cookies involving candy canes. I am not sure where she got the idea, but I went with it. I took my favorite plain chocolate cookie, topped it with ganache and then sprinkled on candy cane pieces. Miss F was an amazing helper. She dished all the cookies on the baking sheet and did all the candy cane sprinkling. She was so proud of herself, even though I think she ate nearly as much batter as she dished. She was very methodical about getting the cookies to be all the same size, it was really cute to watch her in her elf apron just baking away.  If you have a surplus of candy canes, make these cookies. 
Candy Cane Chocolate Cookies

1 ¼ cups butter, softened
2 cups white sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup cream
1 cup chocolate chips
12 candy canes, crushed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs then add the vanilla. In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt; gradually mix into the creamed mixture. Drop dough by teaspoonfuls onto parchment lined cookie sheets. Bake 9 minutes in the preheated oven. Cookies will be soft and still look slightly doughy. Let set and cool on cookie sheet for 2 minutes then remove from sheet onto wire rack to cool completely. Add the cream to a two cup measure, microwave in 30 second intervals until it begins to boil. Stir in the chocolate chips and pour into a shallow dish. Dip the cooled cookies into the ganache and sprinkle the crushed candy canes on top. Allow to set for one hour.
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Friday, December 20, 2013

Green Chile Pork Tacos

Green Chile Pork Tacos
I have been on a quest to clean out the freezer of all meat. I have nearly concluded, but I still have an excess of thick cut pork chops, I blame the Costco coupons.  I was looking for a meal to make before Thanksgiving and tacos seemed like a perfect choice.  I wanted a recipe in which I could use up some of the pork chops, so I adapted a recipe from the New York Times.  I loved this recipe, it was really easy and the meat was so flavorful.  Sometimes pork can dry out, but that wasn't an issue here.  I did add a tablespoon or two of broth to the pan, but water would work just as well.  Miss F added beans to hers (shocker!)
Green Chile Pork Tacos

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 pound pork, cut into cubes
1 can green chiles, 4 ounces
1 teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoons ancho chile powder
1 ½ teaspoons cumin
10 flour tortillas
1 tomato, diced
½ cup shredded colby jack cheese
1 lime

In a Dutch oven, heat oil over high heat, then add pork and cook until browned on all sides. Reduce heat to low and add green chiles, salt, chile powder, and cumin. Let simmer for one hour, until pork is tender.
Shred pork in the pot with two forks, and add a little water or chicken broth to reconstitute the sauce if necessary. Let simmer for another 15-20 minutes, and add additional salt to taste. Heat tortillas, and add some pork to each. Top with tomato, avocado, cheese and a squeeze of lime juice.
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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Lattice Apple Pie

Lattice Apple Pie
I am still looking for an apple pie recipe that doesn't create a ton of juice. While they all taste great, they always look such a mess when sliced. Everyone raves about the Grandma Ople apple pie recipe, so I knew I wanted to try it. I knew my mom would enjoy it since she always prefers Granny Smiths, we both like things tart.  I am still trying to figure out how to make a woven lattice pie crust easily.  Does anyone have any tips?  I always seem to make a mess when trying to intertwine the pastry.  I wish I could make a pie with more than six pastry strips.  One day, one day... 
Lattice Apple Pie

Crust:
2 ½ cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, cold, cut into small pieces
¼ to ½ cup ice water

Filling:
½ cup butter
¼ cup flour
¼ cup water
½ cup white sugar
½ cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
8 Granny Smith apples - peeled, cored and sliced
1 egg yolk

In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour and salt; pulse to combine. Add the butter, and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs with some larger pieces remaining, about 10 seconds.

With the machine running, add the ice water through the feed tube in a slow, steady stream, just until the dough holds together without being wet or sticky. Do not process more than 30 seconds. Test by squeezing a small amount of the dough together; if it is still too crumbly, add a bit more water, 1 tablespoon at a time.

Turn out the dough onto a clean work surface. Divide in half, and place each half on a piece of plastic wrap. Shape into flattened disks. Wrap in plastic, and refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight. The dough can be frozen for up to 1 month; thaw overnight in the refrigerator before using.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Melt the butter in a saucepan. Stir in flour to form a paste. Add water, white sugar, brown sugar and cinnamon; bring to a boil. Reduce temperature and let simmer.

Place the bottom crust in your pan. Fill with apples, mounded slightly. Pour the butter mixture over the apples. Cover with a lattice work crust. Brush the crust with a beaten egg yolk.

Bake 15 minutes in the preheated oven. Reduce the temperature to 350 degrees. Continue baking for 35 to 45 minutes, until apples are soft.
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Monday, December 16, 2013

Chocolate Pots de Creme

Chocolate Pots de Creme
I made a dish years ago that was very similar to these from the first ever Next Food Network Stars, Dan and Steve. They tasted like a chocolate truffle and were the perfect end to a meal. These chocolate pots de crème from King Arthur Flour are easy to make and have a similar chocolate truffle flavor.   They are rich, decadent and full of chocolate flavor.  A little goes a long way, so china coffee cups are the perfect serving vessel.  These are fantastic dessert to serve for a crowd because you just pull them out of the fridge and toss a couple berries on top, they look impressive, but they are easy to serve. 
Chocolate Pots de Creme

2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 cups heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Place the chocolate chips, salt, and sugar in a food processor and pulse until finely ground. Add the eggs and pulse just until the mixture is smooth.

Heat the cream in a two cup measure in the microwave until bubbles just begin to form, about 4 minutes. Turn on the processor, slowly add the cream and vanilla. Scrape down the sides of the container if necessary. Divide into 8 individual serving cups. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours.

Serve with fresh berries or whipped cream.
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Friday, December 13, 2013

Spinach and Apple Salad with Crispy Almonds

Spinach and Apple Salad with Crispy Almonds
I have been making this salad for years. I served it at one of my first ever dinner parties and I have served it often with our Thanksgiving dinner.  I prep the dressing in advance, just be sure to slice the apples right before serving so they do not brown.  The almonds do stick together after they cool, but they are easily broken up for serving.  The recipe comes from Epicurious, my go to recipe site from back in the day.  My friend Courtney even took the leftover salad home with her from the dinner party, so I think that makes it a success!
Spinach and Apple Salad with Crispy Almonds

¼ cup minced onion
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
¼ teaspoon paprika
3 tablespoons sugar
½ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
¾ cup blanched slivered almonds (about 3 ounces)
1 10- ounce bag ready-to-use spinach leaves
2 medium-size red-skinned apples, quartered, cored, thinly sliced

Combine onion, cider vinegar, white wine vinegar, sesame seeds and paprika in small bowl. Mix in 2 tablespoons sugar. Gradually whisk in olive oil. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper.

Melt butter in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add almonds. Stir until almonds begin to color, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle remaining 1 tablespoon sugar over. Stir until sugar melts and begins to turn golden, about 2 minutes longer. Transfer almonds to bowl and cool. (Dressing and almonds can be prepared 4 hours ahead. Cover separately and let stand at room temperature.)

Combine spinach and apples in large bowl. Toss with enough dressing to coat. Mix in almonds. Serve salad, passing any remaining dressing separately.
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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Mozzarella Basil Bread

Mozzarella Basil Bread
This recipe makes two generous loaves of delicious bread. I had intended to bring the second loaf to my parents as a thank you for watching Miss F while I hosted my dinner party. My dinner party guests had different plans. We ate the entire first loaf and it was onto the next. It was so good. And incredibly easy to make. In this past year with C being gone, I have been able to bake bread quite often and I have really enjoyed exploring the yeast world beyond my bread machine.  And you can never go wrong with adding any cheese to bread.  Delicious!  I promise to make it again and send a the second loaf to my parents.
Mozzarella Basil Bread

2 cups warm water
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon yeast
1 tablespoon salt
5 cups bread flour, or as needed
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
¼ cup milk
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 tablespoon melted butter

Mix warm water with sugar in the bowl of the stand mixer fitted with the paddle until the sugar has dissolved. Sprinkle yeast over the surface of the water, and let stand until the yeast begins to form a creamy layer on the water. Stir the yeast into the water. Stir in salt, and 1 cup of bread flour, and beat the flour in to form a loose batter. Stir in 1 more cup of flour, and mix in the mozzarella cheese, milk, and basil. Mix in the remaining 3 cups of flour in ½ cup additions. Swap the paddle for the dough hook and knead for 6 minutes. Form into a ball, coat with olive oil, cover and allow to rise for one hour.

Punch down the dough and turn out onto a well-floured work surface, and knead the dough just long enough to eliminate the remaining bubbles in the dough, about 1 minute. Cut the dough into 2 equal pieces, and form each half into a round ball. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray, and place the balls onto the baking sheet. With a sharp knife, slash an X into the top of each loaf. Cover the loaves with a towel, and let rise until doubled, about 25 minutes. Brush each loaf with the melted butter.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Bake the loaves until browned, about 25 minutes. To serve, cut each loaf into 8 wedges.
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Monday, December 9, 2013

Braised Short Rib Lasagna

Short Rib Lasagna
I have two issues with lasagna: I am not a huge fan of ricotta cheese and I like ground beef even less. Enter short rib lasagna. No ricotta cheese, shredded short ribs and a rich béchamel sauce. I knew it would be a winner. The recipe is time intensive, but very little of the time is active. Which makes it perfect for a dinner party.   I had the lasagna assembled and ready to bake when the guests arrived.  Which allowed me more time to socialize, always a benefit at any dinner party.  This lasagna makes 12 generous servings.  Miss F and I enjoyed the leftovers for a couple days after the party.  I omitted the mushrooms from the original recipe to accommodate one of my guest's preferences, but next time I make it I will add them.  Because I love all mushrooms!  C and Miss F probably prefer it without.
Braised Short Rib Lasagna

1 ½ pounds boneless beef short ribs
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
3 carrots, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 bay leaf, fresh or dried
1 cup dry red wine
2 cups canned crushed tomatoes
¼ cup butter
¼ cup flour
2 cups milk
1 clove garlic, smashed
1 ½ cups finely grated Parmesan cheese
½ cups shredded Mozzarella cheese
1 box no-boil Lasagna noodles

Season the short ribs with salt and pepper. In a large Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the short ribs, in batches if necessary, and brown on all sides, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and pour off all but 1 tablespoon of fat.

Reduce the heat to medium and add the onion and carrots. Cook until the vegetables are tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add the tomato paste and cook until it darkens 1 to 2 minutes. Pour in the wine and add the bay leaf. Simmer, stirring and scraping up any browned bits as you go, 2 to 3 minutes.

Add the crushed tomatoes, and bring to a simmer. Return the short ribs to the pot. Cover and reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Cook, turning the ribs every 30 to 40 minutes, until the meat is
fall-off-the-bone tender, 2 ½ to 3 hours total.

Use tongs to remove the ribs from the pot and move them to a plate to cool. Pour the sauce into a heatproof bowl and discard the bay leaf. Allow to sit for a few minutes, until the fat rises to the surface. Be sure to get as much fat off as you can, or the tomato sauce will be greasy. Skim it off with a large spoon and discard. When the meat is cool enough to handle, remove any fat or cartilage. Shred the meat and set aside in a medium bowl.

Make the bechamel sauce. Melt the butter in a 3-4 quart saucepan set over medium heat. Stir in the flour with a wooden spoon and cook until golden, stirring constantly, about 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in the milk and add the garlic clove. Cook at a gentle simmer, stirring often, until the mixture thickens, about 10 minutes. Fish out the garlic clove and season with 1 teaspoon of salt. Mix the bechamel sauce into the tomato sauce.

Assemble and bake the Lasagna. Heat the oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease a 9x13 inch baking dish. Spread ¾ cup of the sauce on the bottom of the dish and cover the sauce with a slightly overlapping layer of the noodles. Spread ¾ cup of sauce over the noodles, and add ½ cup of the shredded meat over the sauce. Sprinkle with ¼ cup of the shredded Parmesan cheese.

Add another layer of noodles, then repeat the layers as instructed above, to make a total of 3 layers of meat and 4 layers of noodles. At this point you should have used all the meat, but still have some sauce and cheese left over. Spread ¾ cup of the sauce over the top and sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan and mozzarella cheese.

Cover the baking dish with foil and bake for 40 minutes. Remove the foil and bake until the top is browned and bubbly, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool for at least 10 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with additional cheese as desired when you serve.
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Friday, December 6, 2013

Snowman Doughnuts

Snowman Doughnut
So Houston has had a bit of a doughnut renaissance this year. First, Dunkin Donuts is expanding like mad all over the city and it was announced this week that Krispy Kreme is returning to our city. There is a local doughnut shop, Shipley's, that dominates the business, but makes terrible doughnuts. I usually make them at home for Miss F anyhow, especially since I usually prefer a cake doughnut (exception: Boston Kreme.) These doughnuts are so cute for the winter. It was 80 degrees the day we made them, so we just imagined snow. And it created a snowy mess in the kitchen, powdered sugar was everywhere. It is the glitter of the kitchen world. But so worth it.
Snowman Doughnuts

1 cup flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 large egg
½ cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ cup powdered sugar
6 candy corns
42 chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare the doughnut pan with cooking spray.

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar. In a two cup measure, whisk together the butter, egg, buttermilk, and vanilla. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, stir until just incorporated.

Spoon the batter into the prepared doughnut pan. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Let the doughnuts cool on a wire rack.

Add the powdered sugar to a large Ziploc bag, toss each doughnut with the sugar. Add the candy corn to the doughnut hole and use the chocolate chips for the eyes and mouth.
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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Autumn Dinner Party

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C left the day after Thanksgiving to take a weekend's worth of beginner ski lessons, so it was the perfect time to throw a dinner party. No worries that I hosted Thanksgiving two days earlier or that several people couldn't attend because of the holiday weekend, it was dinner party time. I wanted a menu that celebrated fall, but was far from the traditional Thanksgiving meal we had all enjoyed with our families. The menu was exceedingly easy come party time, everything was prepped in advance and there was very little active kitchen time during the party, which is always my goal.

We started with bacon wrapped dates and cranberry-brie crostini with champagne. We moved to the dining room for spinach and apple salad with crispy almonds, followed by short rib lasagna with a mozzarella basil bread. The meal was finished with a chocolate pots de crème. It was the first time in over eight years that I finally used my china's coffee cups. I don't drink coffee, we don't have a coffee maker and they have just sat in the cabinet. This little dessert was the perfect use for the cups. They were the perfect size for the rich dessert. And all I had to do was pull them from the refrigerator when we were ready for dessert. It couldn't have been any simpler. Every single recipe was new, so look for them to be posted in the coming days.

The centerpieces were simple square glasses vases from the dollar store, with succulents from Lowes in each. I wanted to use the centerpiece for both our Thanksgiving dinner and the dinner party, so I used the plants knowing that they would be able to hold up for a few days. I think the succulents really added something special to the table and they are going to be planted in my mother's garden, so that is an added bonus. I printed the menus on cardstock, then folded them around the napkin, to act as a napkin ring.

As usual, it was such a lovely time with my dear friends. I am missing a couple of Christmas get togethers this year with our upcoming Aspen trip, so it was nice to see everyone.  Next dinner party I need to get the timer working on my camera so I can force myself to be in a photo!
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Monday, December 2, 2013

Balsamic Braised Short Ribs with Cheddar Polenta

Balsamic Braised Short Ribs
I will admit, I totally tried to pull one over on C with this dinner. He hates vinegar, not sure what the issue is there, but I am guessing it all boils down to the smell (add it to chocolate, bread, garlic, whatever smells delicious...) As soon as I served this, he asked if there was vinegar in it. He loves my usual short rib recipe, I was hoping I could pass this off as the same. I couldn't. Which meant Miss F also complained of the funny tasting carrots. The good news was that he loved the polenta. The best news was that I adored this even more than my usual recipe. I love vinegar. I don't understand not enjoying it. Growing up, we put it on all sorts of things. I poured it on broccoli, dipped crabmeat in it and even had it on my baked potato. We had a cruet that sat on the dinner table like any other condiment. If you like vinegar like I do, then be sure to try this recipe. It is amazing. Thanks to Gastronomical Sovereignty for the recipe inspiration.
Balsamic Braised Short Ribs with Cheddar Polenta

2 tablespoons canola oil
1 to 1 ½ pounds boneless short ribs
1 onion, chopped
4 to 6 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup beef broth
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 28 ounce can diced tomatoes

2 cups water
2 cups milk
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 cup polenta
2 tablespoons butter
½ teaspoon pepper
¾ cup cheddar cheese

Heat the oven to 300 degrees. Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Once hot, add ribs to pan; cook approximately 3 to 4 minutes per side or until browned, turning occasionally. Remove from pan and set aside. Reduce the heat to medium, add the onion and carrots. Sauté 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the garlic and sauté a minute more. Add the broth, vinegar and sugar, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom. Bring to a simmer. Stir in the tomatoes and nestle the short ribs with their accumulated juices into the pan. Cover and bake at 300° for 3 hours.

Make the polenta about 30 minutes before ready to serve. In a large pot over medium-high heat, bring milk, water, and salt to a boil. Gradually whisk in polenta. Reduce heat to low, and cover. Cook 20 minutes, until creamy, lifting the lid and stirring every 3 or 4 minutes to prevent sticking. Remove pot from stove, stir in pepper and butter. Gradually stir in cheese. Serve the short ribs over the polenta.
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Friday, November 29, 2013

Turkey Talk

Turkey
Now that we have all stuffed ourselves silly for Thanksgiving, it is time to get through all those leftovers lurking in the refrigerator. I am happy with a straight plate of leftovers once or twice, but after that, I am over it. My most favorite thing to make is Cranberry Barbecue Sauce using leftover cranberry sauce, even the canned stuff will work. I like to serve it on turkey on a bun.  I also love turkey chowder and turkey pasta, both are easy whole meals in one dish.  Serve either with any leftover diner rolls you have, maybe add a green salad to try to get a little healthy post Thanksgiving.  And of course, there is the traditional Turkey Tetrazzini.  It wouldn't be leftovers without it.  Also consider using your turkey in enchiladas, pot pie or empanadas. This year, I want to try and make gnocchi using leftover mashed potatoes, I will let you know how it goes.
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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Crockpot Chicken and Noodles

Crockpot Chicken and Noodles
This may not be a beautiful dish, but it is warm, satisfying and perfect for a cool fall day.  Miss F had requested carrot cake for her birthday cake this year, which she happily shared with C for his birthday (it's his favorite cake too!)  I had carrots left over and had seen Pioneer Woman cook chicken and noodles on her television show.  This recipe was inspired by hers, mainly that I wanted another recipe to use the Reames frozen noodles.  Miss F actually most preferred the carrots, she is sort of obsessed.  At the grocery store in Aspen, they carry a giant 25 pound bag of carrots that she wants to buy every time we are there.  I am not sure who is buying it, but Miss F would love them to share some of the carrot bounty with her.  I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving tomorrow!
Crockpot Chicken and Noodles

3 tablespoons butter
¼ cup flour
2 ½ cups chicken broth, divided
½ cup milk
4 chicken thighs, skin removed
1 pound carrots, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
½ onion, diced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried parsley
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon pepper
dash of hot sauce
1 package frozen egg noodles

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir in flour; keep stirring until smooth and bubbly. Remove from heat and add ½ cup chicken broth and milk, a little at a time, stirring to keep smooth. Return to heat. Bring sauce to a gentle boil; cook, stirring constantly, until it thickens. Stir in the remaining chicken broth.

Add the chicken thighs, carrots, celery and onion to the crockpot. Stir the salt, parsley, thyme, pepper and hot sauce into the chicken broth mixture, pour over the chicken thighs. Give the mixture in the crockpot a stir or two. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 7 hours. Turn the heat to high, add the egg noodles and cook one hour more, checking the liquid and stirring occasionally, add more broth if needed.
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Monday, November 25, 2013

One Bite Wonders

One Bite Wonders
This recipe was recommended by a friend and I happened to have two over ripe bananas in our fruit bowl.  Miss F adored these little muffins.  Since they have peanut butter in them, I am not able to send them to school in her lunch, but she did enjoy them for breakfast almost every day for a week.  Like a little breakfast dessert.  Next time I will probably half the recipe since it makes 48 mini muffins.  Though that will force me to half an egg, which is always a pain. I know you can freeze leftover muffins, but I am never happy with the quality once they are defrosted.
One-Bite Wonders

1 cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup whole-wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
2 ripe bananas, mashed
½ cup peanut butter
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cup vegetable or canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 cup semisweet chocolate morsels

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two mini-muffin pans with baking cups.

In a bowl, whisk together both flours, baking powder, and baking soda; set aside. In a second bowl, combine bananas, peanut butter, both sugars, oil, vanilla, and egg. Whisk wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until moist (do not over mix, a few lumps are okay). Gently fold in ¾ cup chocolate morsels. Fill each well in the prepared muffin tins 2/3 full with batter. Top with a few of the remaining chocolate morsels.

Bake for 10-15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove muffins from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes before removing from the pan.
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Friday, November 22, 2013

Crispy Skin Salmon with Avocado Remoulade


Crispy Skin Salmon with Avocado Remoulade
I have been lucky to dine at Nobu a few times, the most interesting being in Hong Kong with Miss F. Now that she is eating salmon, I have something else to offer her when we return =) This recipe is loosely based on the recipe for Nobu's crispy skin salmon. I didn't have time to get to the Asian grocer for daikon, so I decided to try the fish with avocado remoulade instead. It was wonderful. I know I will use this remoulade the next time I make po-boys. It is rich and creamy, the perfect accompaniment to the salmon.
Crispy Skin Salmon with Avocado Remoulade

2 large avocados, cut and peeled
3 tablespoons lime juice
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon minced shallots
1 tablespoon minced parsley
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
dash of hot sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
1 pound salmon, cut into 4 filets
Canola oil

Put avocado pieces and lime juice into a food processor or blender and pulse until blended. Slowly add -olive oil, pulsing, until you reach desired consistency of sauce. Add minced shallot and parsley, pulse just until combined. Remove to a bowl, add mustard, hot sauce, salt and pepper to taste.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over high heat until hot, and swirl oil in. Place salmon, skin side down, in skillet; cook, undisturbed, for 2 minutes. Cook remaining 3 sides of fish until 70 percent cooked (it should be opaque on the outside yet slightly rare inside), 1 minute each side; fish should cook 5 minutes total.

Serve salmon on top of avocado remoulade sauce.
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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Overnight Refrigerator Dinner Rolls

Overnight Refrigerator Dinner Rolls
These rolls were originally inspired by a recipe from BHG. The only issue I had with them was that they had the first rise overnight, then the second rise was before baking them, which doesn't seem like a timesaver at all. So instead, I adapted a recipe from Martha Stewart, mainly reducing the amount of rolls it made. Because if I made 18 rolls, I would eat all the rolls. Miss F may have a couple, but I would eat the rest. Bread is my most favorite food. If you have noticed, I have been baking a lot of bread lately. C hates the smell of fresh baked bread, so now that he is gone during the week, I can bake and bake. And the house smells fantastic. And I end up eating a ton of bread. These rolls would be perfect for Thanksgiving since they can be prepped the night before and baked up while the turkey is resting.
Overnight Refrigerator Dinner Rolls

1 cup warm water
2 ¼ teaspoons yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons butter, melted, plus more for pan and brushing
1 large egg, lightly beaten
½ teaspoon salt
3 cups flour, plus more for shaping dough

Add warm water to a stand mixer bowl; sprinkle with the yeast, and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Add sugar, butter, eggs, and salt; whisk to combine. Add flour; mix until incorporated and a sticky dough forms. Swap out for the dough hook attachment and knead for 5 minutes. Brush the top of dough with butter; cover bowl with plastic wrap, and set aside in a warm place until dough has doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Turn dough out onto a floured work surface. Roll into a log and cut into thirds, cut into thirds again to end up with 9 rolls. Brush a 8-inch cake pan with butter. One at a time, flatten each piece of dough, then fold edges toward the center, pressing to secure, until a smooth ball forms. Place dough balls in prepared pan, smooth side up. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Remove plastic wrap; brush rolls with melted butter. Bake until golden and rolls sound hollow when tapped on bottom, 25 to 30 minutes. Pull rolls apart, and serve warm.
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Monday, November 18, 2013

Lemon Chicken Spaghetti

Lemon Chicken Spaghetti
One of my most favorite blogs is Confections of a Foodie Bride. I spent a crazy weekend in Chicago with Shawnda and she is one of the most fun people I know.  I have had her recipe for lemon chicken spaghetti bookmarked for the longest time and when my mom sent me home with lemons from her tree, I knew it was time to make it.  It came together amazingly quick and tasted fabulous.  Miss F had three full helpings, even after eating all her green beans.  We were Skyping with C during dinner and he was shocked how much she ate.  She even requested the leftovers for school lunch the next day. 
Lemon Chicken Spaghetti

½ pound thin spaghetti
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
1 tablespoon butter
1 clove garlic
1 tablespoon flour
1 lemon, juiced and zested
½ cup heavy cream
½ cup milk
½ cup finely grated Parmesan, plus more for garnish
1/8 teaspoon pepper

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and return pasta to the pot.

Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Add the chicken to the pan; sauté until cooked through, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken to the pot with the pasta.

Add butter to the sauté pan; add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about a minute. Whisk in the flour, cook for one minute more. Add lemon zest, cream,and milk; bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for a minute to thicken. Stir in Parmesan cheese, lemon juice, and pepper. Cook 2-3 minutes, until very hot and slightly thickened. Pour sauce over pasta and toss. Let sit 5 minutes then serve topped with Parmesan.

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Friday, November 15, 2013

Recipe Swap: Bean and Cheese Taquitos

Bean and Cheese Taquitos
The theme of this week's swap is a Vegetarian Recipe. I had many wonderful recipes to choose from Sweet Beginnings, but I instantly knew which recipe I would be making: bean and cheese taquitos. I knew Miss F would love these. She devoured three for dinner and then requested more for her lunch box the next day. I cut them in half to fit in her Thermos container and she was thrilled to have them in her lunch.  I will be completely honest, I didn't eat any.  Beans are not my thing, but as much as I dislike them, Miss F loves beans.  These are going into the repertoire for the nights where I am cooking something I know she won't enjoy.  I used leftover refried beans from Pappasitos instead of canned, but other than that, I kept to the recipe.  I served them with guacamole, but Miss F preferred hers plain.  And she ate them sideways, silly girl.  Thanks to A Taste of Home Cooking for hosting!
Bean & Cheese Taquitos

1 can refried beans
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
½ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro
1 lime
2 cups shredded cheese (such as cheddar, Mexican blend, etc)
Flour tortillas (16-20)
Cooking spray
Sea salt for topping

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper. In a large bowl, mix the refried beans, black beans, cilantro, and spices. Then add the zest from the lime and the juice from half of the lime and stir. Mix in the cheese. Put about two tablespoons of filling lengthwise into each tortilla. Spread it out into a strip and roll up the tortilla around it. Place it seam side down on a baking sheet. Repeat with all of the tortillas. Lightly spray the tortillas with cooking spray and immediately sprinkle with sea salt. Bake until the edges are golden brown, about 10 minutes. Serve warm with your choice of dipping sauce (salsa, sour cream, etc.)





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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Lemon Yogurt Pancakes


Lemon Yogurt Pancakes
Miss F loves pancakes and anything lemon flavored, so I knew these pancakes from Two Peas and Their Pod would be a big hit. Miss F doesn't like syrup on her pancakes, but she does like dipping them in yogurt. This recipe was perfect for that because there was just enough yogurt left in the cup for her to dip her pancakes into. She loved them, she ate three at one sitting. I have never understood the need to add poppy seed to anything with a lemon flavor. They just get stuck in your teeth and don't add anything flavor wise, so I omitted them. We made these pancakes with Meyer lemon juice from my mom's tree. I love citrus season!
Lemon Yogurt Pancakes

1 ½ cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons sugar
½ cup plain or lemon Greek yogurt
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 eggs
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in a large bowl. In a two cup measure, whisk together the yogurt, milk, lemon juice, eggs, oil and vanilla. Pour the yogurt mixture into the dry ingredients. Stir together until just combined.

Heat a large griddle over medium-high heat. Grease with shortening or cooking spray. Use a large ice cream scoop or ¼ cup measure to dish the pancakes onto the griddle. Cook the pancakes a couple minutes a side, until golden.
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Monday, November 11, 2013

Cajun Red Snapper with Lime Beurre Blanc

Cajun Red Snapper with Lime Beurre Blanc
This recipe is loosely inspired from the Tabasco website. I adore Tabasco, I will add it to most anything. And you cannot go wrong with a Beurre Blanc sauce, anything with that much butter in it has to be amazing. I love how quickly snapper cooks up, even with the marinade time, this came together in under 45 minutes, which was the exact time needed to bake the Hassleback Potatoes.  The sauce also went well with the green beans and potatoes.  I was not a fan of mixing foods when I was a kid, but now I do it all the time.  I may have had a fork full of fish, potato and a green bean.  No divided plates for me!
Cajun Red Snapper with Lime Beurre Blanc

1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning (such as Tony Chacheres)
1 teaspoon Tabasco
Juice of 2 limes
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
4 (8-ounce) fillets red snapper

Lime Beurre Blanc
½ cup chopped shallots
½ cup white wine
Juice of 2 limes, divided
½ cup heavy cream
1 cup butter, cut into small pieces

To make marinade, combine Cajun seasoning, Tabasco, lime juice, and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a shallow dish and mix well; add fish and marinate for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare beurre blanc and set aside.

Just before serving, heat a large nonstick skillet over high heat. Add remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil to hot pan. Place two fish fillets at a time in pan, skin side down, and cook 3 to 4 minutes. Turn fish over and cook 1 to 2 minutes longer.

Spoon some beurre blanc on 4 plates; top with fish fillets and more beurre blanc.

Lime Beurre Blanc: Combine shallots, wine, and juice of one lime in a small saucepan; cook over medium heat until mixture is reduced to 1 ½ tablespoons. Add the heavy cream and cook 2 minutes. Reduce heat to low and add butter a piece at a time, whisking until all is incorporated, stir in juice from remaining lime. Season to taste with salt and pepper and heat for 30 seconds.
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Friday, November 8, 2013

Butternut Squash and Corn Chowder

Butternut Squash and Corn Chowder
I adore soup. Even though fall thus far in Houston has meant highs in the 80s with out of control humidity, I am still in an autumnal mood. Miss F is usually a huge soup fan as well, but this one wasn't to her tastes. She usually loves butternut squash, so I am not sure the issue was, so I will blame it on the go-to excuse for this week: time change. I think as it gets dark so early now, Miss F thinks it is her bed time much earlier than it actually is. Which makes her grumpy and tired, not such a great dining companion. I adore this soup, it is easy to prepare and so delicious. Hopefully we will get into a good routine with the time change soon, I am tired of waking up at the crack of dawn and dealing with a miserable kid at dinner. Why is there a need to set the clocks back?  I think the state of Arizona has it right.  This recipe is adapted from Martha Stewart.
Butternut Squash and Corn Chowder

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 ½ pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 medium onion, chopped
1 bag (10 ounces) frozen corn
1 teaspoon cumin
Coarse salt and ground pepper
4 cups chicken broth
½ cup heavy cream

In a large heavy pot, heat oil over medium-high; add squash and onion. Cook until onion is soft, about 6 minutes. Add corn and cumin; cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add broth and simmer until squash is tender, about 25 minutes. In a blender, blend half the soup until smooth. Alternately, use an immersion blender to puree half of the soup. Return to pot and stir in cream; heat through over medium-low.
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Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Miracle Bread

Miracle Bread
My bread machine has remained on the top shelf of our pantry for the last couple of months, with one exception to make bread machine bagels. I am trying more and more to make bread without the machine, but with the assistance of my KitchenAid Mixer, I am not getting too crazy. This bread is truly a miracle.  It takes under and hour to prepare, start to finish, which is amazing.  Miss F loves a plain cheese sandwich in her lunch box and this bread is perfect for her lunch.  Thanks to Recipes Chez Moi for the great recipe, I can't wait to try it with whole wheat.
Miracle Bread

2 ¾ cup bread flour
2 tablespoons sugar
¾ teaspoons Kosher salt
2 ¼ teaspoons yeast
1 ½ tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup hot tap water

Mix together the flour, sugar, salt and yeast. Mix in the oil and water. Knead with the stand mixer for 5 minutes. Spray a loaf pan with cooking spray. Shape the dough into a loaf, add to the prepared pan and cover with a dish towel. Let rise in a warm place for 25 minutes. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Cool and slice.
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Monday, November 4, 2013

Cajun Shrimp Pasta

Cajun Shrimp Pasta
I was going to make my new favorite Cajun Chicken Pasta for dinner, but Miss F ended up napping until 6:30 pm and I needed something that could get to the table a little quicker. I had been eyeing this recipe from the wonderful Tide and Thyme for quite some time.   since the shrimp cook so quickly, the whole meal took about 15 minutes to get to the table.  When you have a grouchy and hungry four year old, every second counts.  Miss F had two helpings and was a huge fan.  She really loves bell pepper, especially if she gets to select what color we buy at the grocer.  The recipe calls for a green and red bell, but I halved the recipe and only used the red bell.  You can really use whatever color pepper you like.  This dish was amazing and absolutely perfect for a weeknight.  
Cajun Shrimp Pasta

1 pound medium or large shrimp, peeled and de-veined
1 tablespoon Cajun spice mix
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 green bell pepper, seeded and sliced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced
½ onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup white wine
½ cup chicken broth
1 cup cream
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
Cayenne pepper, to taste
1 pound cooked linguine

Sprinkle 2 teaspoons Cajun spice over the shrimp, toss to coat. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add shrimp to skillet, and cook for about 2 minutes. Flip shrimp over and cook for 1 minute more. Remove to plate and set aside. Add remaining tablespoon of olive oil and heat until shimmering. Add peppers, onions, and garlic. Sprinkle on remaining Cajun spice, and add salt if needed. Cook over medium high heat until peppers and onions are tender. Remove all vegetables from the pan to a plate, and set aside.

With the pan over high heat, pour in the wine and chicken broth. Cook on high for 3 to 5 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pan to deglaze. Reduce heat to medium low and stir in cream and cheese, whisking constantly. Cook sauce over medium-low heat for a few minutes, until the mixture thickens. Add cayenne pepper, salt and pepper to taste. Add the vegetables to the sauce. Stir and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until mixture is bubbly and hot. Add drained linguine and toss to combine. Serve spicy shrimp on top of pasta.
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Friday, November 1, 2013

Lasagna

Lasagna
I am generally not a huge lasagna fan. C is a huge lasagna fan, so I figured I would make him a large pan on our last day in Aspen so he could have it for leftovers. The plan was to freeze some for the future. He liked the lasagna so much, there wasn't any leftover to freeze.  And I must say that I really enjoyed it as well.  I usually don't like ricotta, but the ricotta in this recipe works.  Mainly because I think there isn't a ton, so what is there really melts in with the mozzarella.  Miss F had never had lasagna and she loved it.  C has requested that I make a pan of lasagna every time we visit.  Or at least until he gets sick of it.  I adapted this recipe from All Recipes per a recommendation that it was the best ever.  And it was! 
Lasagna

1 pound sweet Italian sausage
1 pound lean ground beef
½ cup minced onion
2 carrots, peeled and grated
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
2 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste
2 (6.5 ounce) cans canned tomato sauce
½ cup water
1 ½ teaspoons dried basil leaves
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
18 lasagna noodles
16 ounces ricotta cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 egg
½ teaspoon salt
¾ pound mozzarella cheese, sliced
¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese

In a Dutch oven, cook sausage, ground beef, onion, carrot and garlic over medium heat until well browned. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, and water. Season with basil, Italian seasoning, 1 tablespoon salt, and pepper. Simmer, covered, for about 1 ½ hours, stirring occasionally.
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook lasagna noodles in boiling water for 8 to 10 minutes or use no-bake noodles dry. Drain noodles, and rinse with cold water. In a mixing bowl, combine ricotta cheese with shredded mozzarella, egg, and ½ teaspoon salt.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. To assemble, spread 1 ½ cups of meat sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish. Arrange 6 noodles lengthwise over meat sauce. Spread with one third of the ricotta cheese mixture. Top with a third of mozzarella cheese slices. Spoon 1 ½ cups meat sauce over mozzarella, and sprinkle with ¼ cup Parmesan cheese. Repeat layers twice more ending with the mozzarella slices on top. Cover with foil: to prevent sticking, either spray foil with cooking spray, or make sure the foil does not touch the cheese.

Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes. Remove foil, and bake an additional 20 to 30 minutes, until cheese starts to brown. Cool for 15 minutes before serving.
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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Crockpot Beef Stew with Dumplings

Crockpot Beef Stew with Dumplings
One of my most favorite things that my mom made as a kid was stew with dumplings. It wasn't the stew I loved, it was the dumplings. They were so good. I tolerated the stew in order to get more dumplings, I dipped the stew in ketchup in order to better suit my tastes. I bought a crockpot for the condo in Aspen because I figured it would be a useful tool in the winter. We can ski all day and come home to a nice, hot dinner. Miss F does not share my same love for dumplings, she much prefers the beef (no surprise there!) Which is fine by me, more dumplings for me! This stew is rich and hearty, I cannot wait to make it again once it is ski season. We had been playing in the snow all day, so this was the perfect meal to end the day. It turns out playing in the snow wears Miss F out as much as swimming, and makes her just as hungry. This recipe is adapted from The Magical Slow Cooker.
Crockpot Beef Stew with Dumplings

2 pounds stew beef
½ cup flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon thyme
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
½ cup red wine
14 ounce can beef broth
6 ounce can tomato paste
1 ½ pounds red potatoes,
1 pound carrots, peeled and chopped
½ pound button mushrooms, quartered
1 white onion, peeled and chopped
2 cups frozen peas

1 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 egg
½ cup milk
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Combine flour, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and thyme in a Ziplock bag. Seal, shake to combine, then add the stew meat. Shake to coat the pieces evenly. In a large skillet, heat the oil over high heat. Brown the meat on all sides and add it to the crockpot.

Return the pan to the stove; de-glaze the pan with the red wine, scrape up any browned bits of meat and flour into the sauce. Whisk in the beef broth and tomato paste. Simmer for two minutes. Add the sauce to the crockpot. Add the potatoes, carrots, mushrooms and onions to the crockpot. Stir to combine. Cook on low for 7 to 8 hours. Stir in the peas for the last 20 minutes of cooking.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, egg, milk and oil. Drop the dumplings by ¼ cup onto the top of the stew after you have stirred in the peas. Cover, turn heat to high and cook for 20 to 25 minutes, until a tooth pick inserted into the dumpling comes out cleanly.
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Monday, October 28, 2013

Brown Butter Doughnuts

Brown Butter Doughnuts
Miss F had Columbus Day off from school. We had big plans to visit the local pumpkin patch. She wants three pumpkins this year: a happy pumpkin, a scary pumpkin and a Mickey Mouse pumpkin. I am not sure how the Mickey Mouse pumpkin can be done, but I will do my best. Sadly, rain kept us out of the pumpkin patch, so we decided to bake doughnuts instead. Miss F loves doughnuts. She always likes to point out doughnut shops whenever we are out and about.  These doughnuts were fantastic, but the best thing about them was the chocolate glaze.  It is the only way I am going to cover doughnuts in chocolate going forward.  It is easy, tasty and no melting is needed.  Win!  Thanks to Joy the Baker for the great recipe. 
Brown Butter Baked Doughnuts with Chocolate Glaze

For the Doughnuts:
1 cup flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large egg
½ cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the Chocolate Glaze:
¾ cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons milk
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare the doughnut pan with cooking spray.

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, once the butter begins to brown and smells nutty, remove from the heat and pour into a small bowl. In a two cup measure, whisk together the egg, buttermilk, vanilla extract, and two tablespoons of the brown butter. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, stir until just incorporated.

Spoon the batter into the prepared doughnut pan. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Let the doughnuts cool on a wire rack.

Whisk together the powdered sugar, cocoa, milk and vanilla until smooth. Dip each doughnut into the glaze and immediately top with sprinkles, if desired.
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Friday, October 25, 2013

Slow Baked Salmon with Lime Cream

Slow Baked Salmon with Lime Cream
Slow baked salmon was served at my wedding, that is how much I adore it (recipe here.) My friend Courtney had a dinner party for my birthday and prepared this amazing slow baked salmon. It was cooked on a bed of onions, which added this wonderful flavor to the fish. She prepares it with lemons, but I had a bunch of limes leftover from Key Lime Pie, so I decided to switch it up. It was equally good. And drumroll....Miss F tasted it AND liked it. I am so thrilled she finally tried fish and that it was my favorite fish, salmon. Courtney got the recipe from Steamy Kitchen, which provides a multitude of ways to prepare slow baked salmon.
Slow Baked Salmon with Lime Cream

1 onion, sliced
2 limes, one sliced and one juiced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt, divided
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 ½ teaspoons cumin, divided
½ cup sour cream
¼ teaspoon sugar

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. While the oven is preheating, set the salmon out to come to room temperature. Arrange the onion slices and lime slices on the bottom of a baking dish. Place the salmon on top of the onion and limes. Brush each filet with oil. Sprinkle with ½ teaspoon salt, pepper and 1 teaspoon of the cumin. Bake for 30 minutes.

Whisk together the sour cream, lime juice, ½ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon cumin and sugar together. Top the cooked salmon with the lime cream.
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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Soft Sandwich Bread

Soft Sandwich Bread
Now that I have started baking bread without my trusty bread machine, I cannot resist making bread once a week. I usually have a bit and send the rest to my parents. I think they have started to expect me to always show up with a half of loaf or so whenever I visit. Miss F and I shared a couple slices with butter, no need for any sandwich ingredients for us. In fact, when I was a kid, I usually took a butter sandwich in my lunch. Two slices of bread with butter spread between them. I don't eat cold cheese on a sandwich and I am not a huge lunchmeat fan. Maybe one day I should send a butter sandwich in Miss F's lunch. I know she would love it as much as I did.  Thanks so much to Hungry Hungry Highness for the great recipe.
Soft Sandwich Bread

1 ¼ cups hot water
2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons honey
1 ½ teaspoons salt
3 ¼ cups + 2 tablespoons flour
2 ½ teaspoons yeast

Whisk together the water, oil, honey, and salt. Add ½ cup flour and the yeast. Mix until it's mostly incorporated. Add half the remaining flour and knead in a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Add the remaining flour and knead for about 5 minutes.

Let the dough rise in a greased bowl covered with plastic wrap for 30 minutes in a warm place. Place dough on a floured surface. Roll until a log 9 inches wide by about 30 inches long. Roll it up and place it in a greased 9x5 loaf pan. Let rise, covered, for 30 minutes in a warm place.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
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Monday, October 21, 2013

Sour Cream Chocolate Cookies

Chocolate Sour Cream Cookies
I know kids' lunches nowadays are supposed to be full of only healthy items, but I cannot resist sending one cookie with Miss F in her lunch. I know my fellow moms from Miss F's class must have a somewhat similar take considering the amount of begging Miss F does for marshmallows in her lunch (everyone else has them!) It got this recipe from the fantastic Branny Boils Over. It fit all my cookie baking needs for a lunch box cookie: it doesn't make a ton, contains no nut products and can be made with my pantry ingredients. I have had this recipe pinned for awhile and I regret not making it sooner. The cookies are so soft and delicious.  This was the first time I ever let Miss F dish out all the cookies on the cookie sheets.  She did way better than I thought, yay for minimal mess.
Chocolate Sour Cream Cookies

½ cup butter, softened
¾ cup sugar
½ cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
½ cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup baking cocoa
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in egg, sour cream and vanilla. Combine dry ingredients; gradually add to the creamed mixture. Stir in chips.

Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto Silpat or parchment paper lined baking sheets. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until set. Cool for 2 minutes before removing to wire racks to cool completely.
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Friday, October 18, 2013

Recipe Swap: California Club Chopped Salad

California Chopped Salad
The theme of this month's swap was lunch. I usually have leftovers for lunch, so it was a treat to make something special just for lunch. Before I received this recipe in the swap, I had already pinned it to make. In fact, I had it on my meal plan one week and wasn't able to make it. Turned out to be a happy coincidence because I really loved this salad from the amazing Barbee Housewife. I was wary of the dressing, being that I am not a huge fan of mayonnaise, but it was fantastic. When I tossed the salad together, the avocado almost melted into the dressing, which was just lovely. Thanks so much to Taste of Home Cooking for hosting another great swap.
California Club Chopped Salad

6 slices bacon, cut into ½ inch pieces
1 chicken breast, cut into bite sized pieces
4 cups Romaine lettuce, washed and thinly sliced
½ pint grape tomatoes, quartered
¼ cup blue cheese crumbles (I omitted)
1 avocado, diced
½ cup black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup frozen corn, thawed
2 cloves of garlic, minced
Juice of 1 lemon, about 3 tablespoons (I used lime juice)
2/3 cup of mayonnaise

Cook the bacon in a sauté pan until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon. Cook the chicken pieces in the warm bacon grease over medium high heat until cooked through, about 5 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine the bacon, chicken, lettuce, tomatoes, blue cheese, avocado, black beans and corn. Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together the garlic, lemon juice, and mayonnaise. Add salt and pepper to taste. Toss the dressing with the salad.




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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Key Lime Pie

Key Lime Pie
Since childhood, my favorite dessert to order at a restaurant has always been Key Lime Pie. When I came to Houston to visit the University of Houston, we went out for a big seafood meal. I ended the evening with Key Lime Pie. And some allergic reactions. I thought it was the shrimp, but it turned out it was a reaction to pecans. My dad has allergic reactions to nuts as well, but I couldn't figure out where I had eaten any. Once I moved to Texas, I quickly realized 9 out of 10 restaurants add pecans to their Key Lime Pie's graham cracker crust. Besides eating my weight in stone crab at Joe's Stone Crab in Miami, I also knew I wanted some non-pecan tainted Key Lime Pie. And it was the best slice of pie I have ever eaten. I was so happy to see that Joe's Stone Crab shares their amazing pie recipe and I was even happier to learn that it was amazingly easy to make. I may have eaten all but one slice from the entire pie I made.   
Joe's Stone Crab Key Lime Pie

1 wax paper-wrapped package graham crackers (1/3 of a pound box)
or
1 cup, 2 ½ tablespoons graham cracker crumbs
5 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
1/3 cup sugar

3 egg yolks
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
2/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice

Whipped cream

For the graham cracker crust:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9-inch pie pan. Break up the graham crackers; place in a food processor and process to crumbs. (If you don't have a food processor, place the crackers in a large plastic bag; seal and then crush the crackers with a rolling pin.) Add the melted butter and sugar and pulse or stir until combined. Press the mixture into the bottom and sides of the pie pan, forming a neat border around the edge. Bake the crust until set and golden, 8 minutes. Set aside on a wire rack; leave the oven on.

For the filling:
Meanwhile, in an electric mixer with the wire whisk attachment, beat the egg yolks at high speed until very fluffy, about 5 minutes. Gradually add the condensed milk and continue to beat until thick, 3 or 4 minutes longer. Lower the mixer speed and slowly add the lime juice, mixing just until combined, no longer. Pour the mixture into the crust. Bake for 10 minutes or until the filling has just set. Cool on a wire rack, then refrigerate. Freeze for 15 to 20 minutes before serving. Serve topped with whipped cream.
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Monday, October 14, 2013

Crockpot Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup

Crockpot Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup
I saw frozen noodles on Pioneer Woman's show on The Food Network. They looked so much better than dried egg noodles and I knew I wanted to try them in something.  The noodles (Reames brand) were a bit tricky to find.  They were in the ethnic food part of my grocery freezer.  I can't wait to use them in other recipes, they were so amazing.  Miss F loved this recipe, of course she loved the chicken the most.  So we made a couple chicken for noodles trades during dinner.  How did I end up with a kid who isn't obsessed with carbs?
Crockpot Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup
inspired by Key Ingredient

¼ cup butter
¼ cup flour
2 cups milk, divided
4 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon thyme
1 pound carrots, peeled and chopped
½ onion, peeled and chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 pound chicken breasts
1 package frozen egg noodles (12 ounces)
½ cup half and half

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir in flour; keep stirring until smooth and bubbly. Remove from heat and add 1 cup milk, a little at a time, stirring to keep smooth. Return to heat. Bring sauce to a gentle boil; cook, stirring constantly, until it thickens.

Whisk together the sauce, remaining 1 cup milk and chicken broth. Salt and pepper to taste. Add to the crockpot with the carrots, onion, celery and chicken. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours.

Remove the chicken and shred with two forks, return to the crockpot. Increase the heat to high, add the egg noodles and cook for one hour more. Stir in the half and half, serve.
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Friday, October 11, 2013

Baja Fish Tacos

Baja Fish Tacos
I adore fish tacos. Fried or grilled, doesn't matter to me. I do get picky with the sauce though. I need it to have a good kick and I am generally prefer something with a sour cream base. I don't like plain sour cream on tacos, but mix it with lime and chipotle...winner.  Any mild white fish works great with this taco, I used red snapper since I can get it for under two bucks a pound.  Even Miss F liked the fish, though she had hers separate from the taco.  I have a giant bag of limes from Costco from making Key Lime Pie, this was a great way to use a couple up.  Miss F loves to squeeze the lime...even over her beans!
Baja Fish Tacos with Chipotle Crema
adapted from My Life as a Mrs

For the Chipotle Crema:
½ cup half and half
¼ cup sour cream
1 whole chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, minced
½ lime, juiced
pinch of salt

For the Baja Fish Tacos:
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound mild fish, I like red snapper
1 tablespoon Tony Chacheres
6-8 small corn or flour tortillas
1 cup shredded cabbage (I used a cole slaw bag, so it had some carrots as well)
1-2 limes, cut into wedges

For the Chipotle Crema:
Whisk together the half and half, sour cream, chipotle and lime juice. Salt to taste. Set aside.

For the Baja Fish Tacos:
Add butter and oil to a large non-stick skillet and heat over medium-medium high heat. Season the fish on both sides with the Tony Chacheres. Sauté the fish 2 to 4 minutes a side until cooked through.

Take a tortilla and add a small amount of the cabbage, squeeze a little lime over it (this helps flavor it a bit), then add the fish pieces. Top with a drizzle of chipotle crema and a squeeze of lime juice.
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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Peanut Butter Cup Pie

Peanut Butter Cup Pie
I have such amazing friends, but with C in Aspen it is harder to meet the girls for a night out. So I decided to have the girls over one night after Miss F was asleep. And I decided to serve pie (and wine!) I made a blueberry pie, key lime pie and this beauty.  The filling is so rich, it is like eating a giant peanut butter cup, what could be better than that?  Miss F was my trusty pie baking assistant and she did an amazing job unwrapping the peanut butter cups and counting out Oreos.  She enjoyed a slice with a side of chocolate ice cream topped with whipped cream and candy corn.  C only wanted the blueberry pie (his favorite) because he thought a peanut butter pie sounded strange.  More pie for Miss F and I!
Peanut Butter Cup Pie
adapted from Martha Stewart

24 Oreo cookies
¼ cup butter, melted
6 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
¾ cup confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 ¼ cups smooth peanut butter
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups heavy cream
12 mini Reeses peanut butter cups, coarsely chopped

In a food processor, add the Oreo cookies and pulse until they are crumbs. Stir in the butter. Place the ground crumb mixture into a pie pan and press onto the bottom and up the sides evenly. Refrigerate for one hour.

Beat the cream cheese, confectioners' sugar, and salt with a mixer on medium speed until fluffy. Beat in peanut butter and vanilla. In a separate bowl, beat the heavy cream until soft peaks form. Whisk 1/3 of the whipped cream into the peanut butter mixture, then gently fold in remaining whipped cream. Spoon filling into the crust. Top with the peanut butter cup pieces. Freeze, uncovered, at least 4 hours (or overnight, covered with plastic wrap).
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Monday, October 7, 2013

Crab Bisque

Crab Bisque
Last time we had steamed crabs Miss F actually tried some and enjoyed it!  She also really enjoyed this soup.  I love any and all kinds of bisque, rich and creamy soup is one of my most favorite foods.  I added a sprinkle of Old Bay to my bowl because it complements the crab so well.  I need to get Miss F to try crabcakes next, she is still quite wary of them and I am unsure why.  Maybe she would like them if they were in cute slider form or something.  I am just happy to have a fellow seafood fan in the house.  This recipe was inspired by Susannah's Kitchen.
Crab Bisque

3 tablespoons butter
½ onion, minced
1 pound crab, divided
1 garlic clove, minced
3 tablespoons flour
½ cup white wine
1 ½ cups seafood or chicken stock
2 cups of cream

Heat the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat, add the onion and ¼ cup of the crab; cook until tender, about three minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 second more. and let everything cook until tender. Whisk in the flour for a minute. Add the wine and stock; whisk until you have a smooth broth. With an immersion blender, puree this mixture until you have a smooth texture. Add the remaining crab and cream, heat through. Salt and pepper to taste, serve.
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Friday, October 4, 2013

Seared Tuna with Sesame Cucumber Salad

Seared Tuna with Sesame Cucumber Salad
When Miss F is in school, I often eat leftovers for lunch, especially now that C is not home during to eat any leftovers with me during the week. But that can get old quickly. Most fish cooks up amazingly fast, but nothing is as fast as seared tuna.  I am semi-obsessed with cucumber salad and since the cucumber plants were the one thing that survived in the garden this summer, this dish was destiny.  The whole thing takes less than 10 minutes to make, which is certainly faster than any drive thru lunch option and about 100 times better tasting. And a shout out to my friend Harmony: I need more tuna!
Seared Tuna with Sesame Cucumber Salad

1 cucumber, peeled and seeded
2 teaspoons sesame seeds
2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
½ teaspoon soy sauce
½ teaspoon sesame oil
½ teaspoon Sriracha
pinch of sugar

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 tuna steaks

Slice cucumber thinly, preferably with a mandolin. Toast the sesame seeds in a dry skillet until golden brown. Whisk together the rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, and Sriracha. Toss the cucumbers with the dressing and sesame seeds. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Sear the tuna a minute or two per side. Plate and top each steak with the cucumber salad.
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Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Cajun Chicken Pasta

Cajun Chicken Pasta
C hates tomatoes. Hates. Miss F has decided that she likes tomatoes. So I decided to attempt this dish, knowing Miss F would love it. I figured C would pick out the tomatoes, as he normally would.  He didn't.  He ate every bite.  And then he tried to figure out a way to take the leftovers on the plane home with him.  It turns out to be a good thing I didn't send him with any since the Aspen leg of his flight was cancelled and he had to spend the night in Denver.  But I may work on a way to send him home with food when he flies direct.  Maybe I will even add a tomato salad.  I heavily adapted this recipe from Kaitlin in the Kitchen.
Cajun Chicken Pasta

1 pound penne pasta
2 tablespoons butter, divided
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
1 shallot, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ cup Parmesan cheese, freshly shredded, plus more for garnish
2 ½ cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning, plus more for garnish
2 Roma tomatoes, diced

Prepare the penne pasta per package directions.

In a large pan heat 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Once the butter has melted into the oil, add the chicken and shallots; season well with salt & pepper and cook for 5 minutes until chicken is cooked through. Remove the chicken from the pan and cover it on a separate dish to keep it warm.

Place your remaining 1 tablespoon of butter and your garlic in the pan you removed the chicken from. Let the garlic sauté for about 1 minute, making sure it doesn't brown and burn. Add your heavy cream and when it comes to a light simmer, add your parmesan cheese and mix well. Season with salt, pepper and Cajun seasoning.

Add the drained pasta and toss it into the pan with the sauce. Stir in the chicken and tomatoes. Serve, topped with additional Parmesan.
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Sunday, September 29, 2013

Secret Recipe Club: English Muffin Bread

English Muffin Bread
It's once again time for the Secret Recipe Club, I skipped last month since we had so much travel in the month. This month we were only on two trips (Aspen and Anaheim) so it was time to get back into the groove. I am always looking for new bread to bake, especially now since C is gone during the week and I can bake without him complaining about the bread smells.  There were so many great choices in my assigned blog, Chocolate and Chillies, but this English Muffin Bread stood out.  I knew it would be great in Miss F's lunchbox with some strawberry jam.  I loved that it took less than two hours to make and it was almost as easy as using my trusty bread machine.
English Muffin Bread

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 ½ teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon yeast
1 cup milk
¼ cup water
2 tablespoons canola oil
cornmeal to sprinkle the loaf pan

In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda and yeast.

In a microwave safe bowl, whisk together milk, water and oil. Heat in microwave until the mixture is 120 F to 130 F. Mix the mixture before taking the temperature.

Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients. Using the paddle attachment, mix for 1 minute on high speed. The dough will be very soft.

Lightly grease a loaf pan and sprinkle with cornmeal (bottom and sides). Transfer the dough to the loaf pan, spreading it to make sure it is level.

Spray a piece of plastic wrap with oil and cover the loaf pan with this. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Allow the dough to rise for about 45 minutes to 1 hour. The dough should just crown the rim of the loaf pan.

Once the dough has risen, remove the plastic wrap and bake for 22-27 minutes or until it is golden brown and has an internal temperature of 190 F.

After 5 minutes remove the bread from the pan and cool on a rack. Allow to cool completely before slicing.



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