Monday, January 31, 2011

Celebrating Chinese New Year Early!

Thursday is Chinese New Year so I decided to start the week off with something (sorta) Chinese. It's my version of Teriyaki Orange Pork Stir-fry and although it's not authentic, it tasted VERY good! The flour dredge made the pork really tender with a slightly brown crust. The Teriyaki Orange Sauce had so much flavor and was just perfect on top of the rice! I think this chef deserves a Red Envelope! :)




Ingredients:


1/2 (11oz) can Mandarin oranges
1 tsp cornstarch
1 Tbsp teriyaki sauce
4-6 oz boneless pork chop, cut into bite-size pieces
2 Tbsp flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 red bell pepper, cut into strips
1/4 c onion, diced
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp minced ginger
Hot cooked rice, for serving


Prep:


1. Drain oranges, reserving juice. In a small bowl, stir together the cornstarch, Teriyaki sauce and reserved juice mixture until smooth. Set aside.


2. In a bowl, whisk together the flour and salt; add the pork and toss to coat.


3. In a nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Shake off any excess flour from the pork and arrange in a single layer in the skillet. Cook until browned and crisp on one side, about 3 minutes; turn and cook, stirring, until browned all over, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate.


4. Add the pepper and onion, and stir-fry until crisp-tender, 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Stir orange juice mixture and add to pan. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 1-2 minutes or until thickened. Stir in pork and oranges until heated through. Serve with rice.

Happy Valentine's Day Mom!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Spiced Up Carrot Muffins

I LOVE carrot cakes but they're not exactly the healthiest things on the planet so lately I've been experimenting with carrot muffins and trying to find some that'll satisfy my craving. These Carrot Spice Muffins come pretty close! They're full of raisins, coconut and pecans and spiced with lots of cinnamon. SO good and SO much better for me than carrot cake!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

I Made Pretzels!

I'm VERY proud of myself! I never thought I'd be able to make my own pretzels but I watched Guy Fieri make his Everything Pretzels and decided I'd give them a shot. He made them look pretty easy and there was no need to wait around for the dough to rise, which is always a bonus for me. I've always loved Everything Bagels and these pretzels tasted just like them topped with parmesan, dried onions, poppy seeds and sesame seeds. The dough was pretty sticky at first but it was easy enough to knead on a well-floured surface and using VERY well-floured hands. I LOVE the fact that these pretzels were stuffed with cheese, which totally took them over the top! What a fun treat on a Saturday night!

Finally A Sweet Cornbread!

I'm a sucker for Savory Cornbreads with lots of cheese and herbs. Tonight, however, I was craving something sweet so I made a raisin and walnut cornbread. I made it in my trusty cast-iron skillet and it turned out just perfect. Not too sweet and very moist with just the right amount of crunch from the walnuts.




Ingredients:


1-1/3 c all-purpose flour
2/3 c yellow cornmeal (not coarse)
1/3 c sugar
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1-1/2 sticks (3/4 c) unsalted butter
2 large eggs
1-1/2 c well-shaken buttermilk
1/2 c raisins
1/2 c walnuts, coarsely chopped


Prep:


1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Melt butter in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat.


2. Stir together flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and soda, and salt in a large bowl. Whisk together butter, eggs, and buttermilk in another bowl and add to flour mixture, stirring until just combined. Stir in raisins and walnuts.


3. Pour batter into skillet and let stand 10 minutes. Bake in middle of oven until the top is pale golden and a tester comes out clean, approximately 35 minutes. Let cool in the skillet for 10 minutes, then invert to cut and serve.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Blue Cheese is an Acquired Taste

I've acquired it but Greg hasn't! I've never met a cheese I didn't like and most of the time, the stinkier the better. Greg, on the other hand, likes the more mild ones like cheddar and mozzarella. He even thinks Feta is a bit strong for him. Oh well, more Blue Cheese Scallion Biscuits for me! :)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Have You Ever Had Pecan Sandies?

Apparently I'm the only person in my office that's ever had Pecan Sandies. In fact, we always had them in the house cuz my mom LOVES them. So when I saw this recipe for Pecan Sandies on Real Simple, I knew I had to make them. Just a few simple ingredients and these cookies turned out amazing! Buttery and nutty, they're even better than Keebler's!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Getting My Asian Recipe from...Rachael Ray?

Growing up in California, my Asian roots are pretty much non-existent, so I'm never ashamed to try recipes that are anything but authentic. As long as it tastes good, I don't care if it's Pad Thai from Paula Deen! (No, really I've got that one saved!) Tonight, I made Rachael Ray's Teriyaki Pork Chops with Pineapples and Peppers and we loved it! It was the perfect combination of sweet and sour with a spicy kick from the Jalapeño. I took the easy route and used canned pineapple chunks and Jalapeño slices and dinner was on the table in no time. Easy, fast and yummy is what we all need to get over the hump right?

Coffee Cake in Muffin Form

One of my very close friends is moving to the east coast so I decided to bake his favorite treat, coffee cake, for him. I'm really sad to see him leave but I know there's a great opportunity waiting for him so I'm happy for him. It's pretty rare that I follow a recipe exactly but these Coffee Cake Muffins needed no modifications at all! They're perfectly moist and have a crunchy pecan surprise in the middle. I even managed to glaze them without making a mess! We're meeting up for happy hour tomorrow so I'm hoping he'll love these muffins as much as I do!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Testing Out My New Calphalon Pan

My mother-in-law got me a Calphalon 3-Qt Sauté Pan for Christmas and I tested it out tonight. I've ALWAYS wanted a pan that could go straight from stove-top to oven cuz I've seen so many good recipes that require it. Now I've finally got one and I made some REALLY yummy Baked Chicken with Mushrooms tonight. Greg said that the chicken tasted like it had been slow-cooked for hours and I totally agree. The meat was so tender it literally fell off the bone as soon as my fork touched it. The thyme and mushroom sauce was also just perfect and I made sure there was rice to soak it all up! I can't wait to try some more dishes in this pan. Thanks mom!

Bite-Size Blueberry Poundcakes

Safeway ran a special on Blueberries over the weekend, Buy 1 Get 2 FREE, so I totally took advantage. The containers were pretty small but 3 of them still meant I had a LOT of berries to work with (and I'm NOT complaining)! Since I just made Blueberry Muffins over the weekend, I thought I'd try some Blueberry Poundcake. Instead of a big loaf, I made them into bite-size squares and they turned out SO good! Really moist and just bursting with blueberries!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Inspired by America's Test Kitchen

Tonight's pork chop dinner was inspired by a recipe card I saved from an America's Test Kitchen Magazine. It was called Sautéed Pork Chops with Pears and Blue Cheese (which I couldn't find online) but I made quite a few changes. First of all, Greg's not a big fan of Blue Cheese (too stinky?) so I substituted Feta and instead of topping the dish with it, I stirred some of it into the sauce along with the pears. I also used a Dole Pear Cup cuz I didn't have any fresh pear on hand. I served the pork chops over mashed potatoes that I also added some Feta to so all the flavors would pair up nicely. All in all, this was a very comforting meal and quick to pull together on a week night.




Ingredients:


2 bone-in pork chops, 1-inch thick
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 (4 oz) Diced Pear Cup
1/4 c onion, diced
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 c chicken broth
1/4 c heavy cream
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp butter
1/4 c crumbled Feta Cheese


Prep:


1. Pat chops dry with paper towel and season with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add chops and brown 5 minutes per side. Transfer to platter and tent with foil to keep warm.


2. Add pear, onion and sugar. Cook, stirring, until softened, 2 minutes. Add sugar and broth and deglaze for 1 minute. Stir in cream, vinegar and butter. Cook until slightly thickened, 2 minutes. Take off heat and stir in Feta. Serve sauce over chops.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Eggplant Parmesan in Mini Loaf Form

I LOVE Eggplant Parmesan but I rarely make it cuz Greg's not a fan of eggplant and I can't possibly eat a whole pan of it by myself. I mean, you really have to eat it hot and bubbly from the oven and the left-overs just don't taste good reheated. These mini loaves are my answer to being able to enjoy Eggplant Parmesan any time of the day and even the next day! They've got all the yummy flavors of eggplant, tomato, basil and cheese and couldn't be easier to make. Just call me Miss Creativity!




Ingredients: (1 regular loaf or 8 mini loaves)


1/3 c olive oil
1/3 c milk
2 large eggs
1-1/2 c all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 c grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 c shredded Mozzarella cheese
1-1/2 c eggplant, coarsely grated
1/2 c sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1/4 c fresh basil, chopped


Prep:


1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray loaf pan with cooking spray.


2. In a small bowl or large measuring cup, whisk together the oil, milk and eggs. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, Parmesan and pepper. Stir in wet ingredients in just until moistened. Stir in Mozzarella, eggplant, tomatoes and basil until mixed.


3. Transfer batter to prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 60 to 70 minutes for regular loaf or 20 to 30 minutes for mini loaves. Cool 15 minutes in pan; turn out loaf onto a rack to cool completely.

Nigella's Crustless Pizza Take 2

I REALLY liked the Crustless Pizza I made last time using Nigella's recipe so I thought I'd make another one using asparagus. I love how easy it is and you can basically switch up the toppings any way you like. The "pizza" also tastes more like a quiche with the eggs and milk, which is a nice change from a crunchy crust. I blanched the asparagus for a few minutes just so they would soften and brown nicely in the oven. It came out SO good and just perfect Sunday football snacking! (Can you believe it's almost Super Bowl time?)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Double Blueberry Goodness!

I got the BEST deal on Blueberries at Safeway. Buy 1 get 2 free! How awesome is that? I thought it be great to make some Double Blueberry Muffins using Blueberry Yogurt for a light and healthy treat. These turned out moist and just FULL of yummy blueberry flavor. Is it summer yet?




Ingredients: (6 muffins)


1 c all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 c sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg
1 (6 oz) container blueberry yogurt
1/4 c (1/2 stick) butter, melted
1 c blueberries


Prep:


1. Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Grease or line 6 muffin cups.


2. In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, whisk together the sugar, yogurt, eggs and melted butter. Add the dry ingredients and mix just until blended. Do not over mix. Gently fold in blueberries.


3. Divide the batter among muffin cups, filling each 2/3 full. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the tops are browned, and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Left-over Ricotta NEVER Goes to Waste @ This House!

I had half a container of Ricotta Cheese left over from making my Blackberry Ricotta Bars. Hum, what to do? Make Stuffed Shells of course! These JUMBO shells are stuffed with a yummy mixture of chicken, Ricotta, Parmesan, Italian breadcrumbs and garlic. And just to make things even cheesier, I topped them with Mozzarella before baking them in the oven. SO cheesy and SO good on a Friday night!

These Cookies are DECADENT!

I rarely ever use the word decadent but I can't think of a better way to describe these Vanilla Cream Cheese Cookies. They taste like rich shortbread cookies with an even creamier texture thanks to the cream cheese. The vanilla really brought out the sweetness and they literally melt in your mouth! Perfect treats for my Cookie Friday!


Ingredients: (2 dozen cookies)

1 c (2 sticks) butter, softened
3 oz cream cheese, softened
1 c sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 egg yolks
1 tsp salt
2-1/2 c flour
1 egg white

Prep:

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter, sugar and cream cheese until soft and fluffy. Add egg yolks and vanilla; and beat until incorporated.

2. Slowly add the salt and flour until all flour has been incorporated and a dough forms. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour (or freeze for 30 minutes if you're short on time like me!).

3. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

4. Lightly flour a working surface. With floured rolling pin, roll dough to 1/2-inch thickness. Cut out with cookie cutter.

5. Place on prepared baking sheets and brush with egg white. Bake for 10 minutes. Do NOT overbake! Cookies should only be slightly golden on the bottom and still pale on top.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Spring-like Weather Calls for Asparagus!

The weather here has totally done a 360 from freezing and wet 40's to warm and sunny 60's! It totally feels like spring and nothing says "spring" to me like asparagus. These are some Mini Frittatas packed with asparagus, tomatoes and mushrooms. So simple but so incredibly good and healthy too! I'm hoping our weather stays this nice!


Ingredients: (12 Mini Frittatas)

1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 lb asparagus, bottoms snapped of and chopped
4 oz mushrooms, sliced
2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 tsp dried thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
4 eggs
1/3 c milk
1 tsp curry powder

Prep:

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray 12 muffin cups with cooking spray.

2. Heat a medium skillet over medium heat with vegetable oil. Add the asparagus, mushrooms, tomatoes, thyme, salt and pepper. sauté until asparagus is tender, about 5 minutes. Divide vegetable mixture among prepared muffin cups.

3. In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, and curry powder. Pour over vegetable mixture in muffin cups.

4. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the egg has set. Let rest for 5 minutes before unmolding.

Messy Cherry Bars

It's not even close to Cherry Season but they were on sale at Safeway so I picked up a bag. I don't really like snacking on cherries cuz they've got pits and I'm just plain lazy so I searched for a recipe to bake with them. I found these Cherry Brown Butter Bars that looked really yummy so I gave them a shot. I even ordered a Cherry Pitter so I wouldn't make a mess but somehow I did anyway. (My kitchen counter and floor are now spotted with red specks!) Lining the baking pan with parchment paper definitely made it easy to take the whole thing out but cutting them was a whole different story. Oh well, they were really tasty and that's all that matters at the end right?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Spicy Szechuan Pork

I didn't grow up with much spicy Chinese food cuz my mom didn't like them. I've seen Szechuan Pork on many menus but never tried it until I met my husband. He, on the other hand, LOVES spicy food and will actually add more chili sauce on top of the already incredibly spicy dish! We always order Szechuan Pork for takeout but tonight I thought I'd try and make it myself. I did some research and blended a few recipes together to create my own and it turned out SO good! I read somewhere that marinating the meat in a cornstarch mixture really helps seal in the flavor and make the outside crispy and it worked like a charm! I also added some bell pepper for some extra crunch and pretty color. My mom is definitely missing out on some yummy spicy dishes!




Ingredients:


2 Tbsp soy sauce, divided
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1/2 lb boneless pork chops, thinly sliced into bite-size pieces
1 Tbsp dry sherry
1 tsp chili garlic sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp sugar
2 small dried red chilies
1 Tbsp oil
1 tsp minced garlic
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
2 sliced green onion
1/2 tsp grated ginger
Hot cooked rice, for serving


Prep:


1. Blend 1 Tbsp soy sauce and cornstarch in medium bowl. Add pork, tossing to coat well. Mix remaining Tbsp soy sauce with sherry, chili garlic sauce, sesame oil and sugar in a small bowl and set aside.


2. Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the chilies and stir until fragrant, 2-3 minutes. Add the pork mixture. Cook and stir for 5 to 7 minutes, until pork is no longer pink. Remove pork from skillet and set aside.


3. Add garlic, bell pepper, green onions and ginger to the skillet. Cook and stir for 3 minutes or until tender-crisp.


4. Turn heat down to medium-low and return pork to skillet with sherry mixture. Simmer for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly until mixture is thickened. Serve over rice.

Triple Mango Action!

These babies are triple-packed with mangos cuz they have mango puree, mango-flavored yogurt AND dried mango bits! If you love mangos like I do, you should also know that they're really good for you too! They're loaded with antioxidants like vitamins A, E and C and they're also packed with fiber, which we all need more of. The yogurt kept these muffins really moist and the dried bits added a great texture in every bite. Very good and perfect for the spring-like weather we're finally getting!




Ingredients: (12 muffins)


1/2 c (1 stick) butter, softened
1 c sugar
2 eggs, slightly beaten
2 mangos, peeled, pureed (I used my mini food processor)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1-1/2 c flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 c (6 oz) Mango-flavored yogurt (I used Yoplait Apricot Mango)
1/2 c dried mango bits (I used Sunmaid Tropical Trio)


Prep:


1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Spray muffin pan with cooking spray.


2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, beating well. Beat in mango and vanilla until well blended.


3. Stir flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together. Add to mixer and mix just until combined. Stir in yogurt and dried bits.


4. Pour into prepared loaf pan. Bake 20-25 minutes, until golden around the edges and a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Baking with Berries and Wishing It's Summer!

The produce that goes on sale is very random around here. It's definitely NOT blackberry season but they're on special so I bought some. Baking with berries always make me think of summer and I totally wish it was June right now and not January! I found this recipe for Blackberry Ricotta Cornbread and thought it would be the perfect treat on my day off. I've never made cornbread with fruit before and the combination was great! I didn't have any corn so I just increased the amount of berries to 1-1/2 cups. The bread wasn't too sweet and really moist from the blackberries. I just love baking in my cast iron for an easy cleanup! Is it summer yet?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Pastitsio! Opa!

We LOVE Lasagna at our house so when I watched Ina make Pastitsio, which she calls Greek Lasagna, I knew I had to make it ASAP. Basically the lasagna noodles are replaced with small shells and everything's baked with a cheesy Béchamel sauce on top. How can that NOT be good? The meat sauce took a while to cook so I chose to make this on a Sunday when I could just let it simmer while I did stuff around the house. It made the whole place smell amazing and by dinner time, we were SO ready to eat! OMG this could actually be BETTER than Lasagna! The sauce was so flavorful with all the spices and the topping could not be cheesier and better! I can't wait for the left-overs (if there are any by the end of the night)!

Copycat Tres Agaves except it's Even BETTER!

We LOVE Tres Agaves and go there at least every other week. We've probably tried just about every item on their menu and our favorite has got to be the Duck Confit Tacos. They come with this addicting sweet and spicy Pineapple-Avocado Salsa with Serrano Chiles and are just SO GOOD! The last time we ate them, Greg suggested that I should try recreating them at home and you know I can't turn down a challenge like that! I did some research on how to make Duck Confit and decided to try this easy method from Simply Recipes. It took a while for the duck to cook but the meat became so tender and the whole apartment smelled amazing! As for the salsa, I followed Melissa D'Arabian's recipe and substituted Serrano Chile for the Jalapeno. For the tacos, I stuffed small tortillas with shredded duck meat, topped with shredded Mexican cheese, and pan-fried them a few minutes to melt the cheese. Then I served the tacos with Pineapple-Avocado Salsa on top. I was VERY proud of myself and Greg claimed that they were even better than Tres Agaves and that's saying a LOT!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Long Time No Panini

To me, Panini are best eaten when it's nice and sunny out so since we've only been getting rainy and cold weather, I haven't made them in a while. The sun finally came out this weekend and I was craving some good sammies. These Panini featured a thick stack of roast beef, Colby-Jack cheese, tomatoes and a healthy slather of Horseradish-Dijon Mayo. A perfect lunch on a sunny Saturday afternoon!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Cookies with an Extra Kick!

Have you ever heard of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder)? Well, I feel like the weather we're having in SF is dragging us all down. To kick things up, I decided to bake some Cappuccino Chocolate Chip Cookies! These babies will DEFINITELY kick start your Friday morning cuz they're got coffee AND Kahlua in them! (And just for fun, I added an extra shot of Kahlua cuz you can't never have too much!) They're also super chocolatey from the chocolate chips and cocoa powder. We're all in Cappuccino Heaven right now even with all the gray skies!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

I Can Always Count on Ravioli!

I always keep a few packages of Ravioli in the freezer for days when I'm too busy to make a big presentation. You can cook them without thawing them first, just a few minutes longer than the package directions. Tonight I was concentrating on baking some yummy cookies so I turned to my trusty Ravioli. I added some chicken strips and made a simple Alfredo Sauce. I can't believe I used to turn to the jarred stuff cuz making white sauce from scratch is just about as easy as you can get. Melt some butter, add some cream, let it thicken, then stir in LOTS of cheese and that's it! For a special treat though, I also stirred in some cream cheese for extra creaminess. A very quick and yummy meal!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Yummy Pork Chops from Martha

Tonight's yummy dinner featured Martha Stewart's Pork Chops with Apple Chutney and it was amazing! The only changes I made were using bone-in pork chops and leaving out the raisins (Greg's not a fan). The chutney had a wonderful tangy flavor from the vinegar and a nice kick from the ginger and cayenne. I served the chops over mashed potatoes and I have a great tip to take them over the top. We usually have some type of cheese spread in the fridge so I just stir in a lil bit at the end and they give so much creamy flavor to the potatoes! A comforting and easy weeknight dinner!

More Healthy Treats for the New Year!

It's pretty hard NOT to make healthy things these days when every website is featuring light and healthy recipes. While I will NEVER substitute tofu for sour cream or pretend mushrooms taste like meat, I do enjoy wholesome treats with lots of veggies and fruit. I found these Zucchini and Cranberry Mini Muffins and knew I wanted to make them. I only had 1 zucchini so I added a cup of shredded carrots and since I'm switching things up, I decided to add both cranberries and raisins. For some reason, every time I make mini muffins, I always end up with left-over batter. (Maybe my pan is smaller than normal?) I didn't wanna waste any of this yummy mixture so I made 6 regular-sized muffins as well. They took about 10 minutes longer than the mini ones but came out just as moist and perfect! These are definitely healthy treats that will keep your new year's resolution going!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Glazing is a Wonderful Thing!

I have something to confess, I'm scared of glazing. I usually end up with a sticky mess and it's never pretty. I would say 99% of the time, I skip the glaze in a recipe. I just tell myself that it's just as good without it but of course, I know better. Tonight though, I made Ina's Maple Oatmeal Scones and I didn't skip the yummy glaze! OMG these are good! Even with the maple glaze, they were too sweet and what's more perfect with oatmeal right? I made mini scones and they were just the perfect bite-size treats!

Monday, January 10, 2011

An Exotic but Comforting Stew

I know "Exotic" and "Comforting" don't usually go together but they describe tonight's Moroccan Chicken Stew with Sweet Potatoes perfectly! The cinnamon and ginger with the sweet potatoes reminded me of Thanksgiving and the whole apartment smelled like the holidays! I stirred in a lil bit of cream at the end for that extra creaminess. It was just the perfect meal on a chilly night!

TJ's Tomatoes Come in a Box of 5

If you've ever purchased Roma Tomatoes at Trader Joe's, you know that they only come in a box of 5. I needed a tomato for my Sunday Sliders so I ended up with 4 extra. What to do with them? Make some Savory Cheesy Muffins, of course! These came out so good! I also added lots of fresh basil for extra flavor and some pretty green color. Cheesy and savory, just the way I like them!




Ingredients: (6 muffins)


4 Tbsp (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/2 c milk
2 large eggs
3/4 c cornmeal
1/2 c all-purpose flour
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp granulated sugar
2 Roma Tomatoes, diced
1/4 c fresh basil, chopped
1/2 c Sharp Cheddar Cheese, shredded


Prep:


1. Preheat to 400ºF. Grease or line 6 muffin cups.


2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the butter, milk and eggs.


3. In a separate bowl, stir together the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, soda, salt and sugar. Stir into the liquid ingredients just until moistened. Stir in tomatoes, basil and cheese until mixed.


4. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups. Bake for 16-18 minutes, until golden on top and a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out clean.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Sour Cream is More Than a Dip

I love to dip my baby carrots in sour cream so when I saw these Sour Cream Carrot Muffins, I knew I had to try them. I didn't have Apple Jelly so I just increased the brown sugar to 1/2 cup and I also added some raisins. They came out incredibly moist and yummy! I'm glad I can always count on Land O' Lakes for a great recipe!

Sliders Inspired by Ina

I love making sliders on Sundays to snack on while watching football. I usually just salt and pepper the meat and add some good sauce on top but I wanted to try something different so I turned to Ina's recipe. She mixed her patties with Dijon mustard, olive oil, thyme and garlic, which gave them so much flavor! I used Muenster instead of Gruyere and skipped the arugula and red onions (Greg's not a fan). I also slathered my buns with some Horseradish Dijon Mayo for an extra kick. There's something about sliders that are just SO adorable. ALMOST too cute to eat...ALMOST!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Finally Mini Apple Pies!

I was SO excited when I spotted Mini Pie Crusts at the store and picked up 4 packages in case they get discontinued. So far I've made Mini Cheesecakes and Mini Pecan Pies and tonight I made Mini Apple Pies. I've actually been saving the recipe for a while now and I'm so glad I finally made them! I used Fuji Apples, which paired perfectly with the sweet brown sugar and warm spices. How cute are they?

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Cheerful New Year Cookies

Don't these cookies look so cheerful? I saw the Message in a Cookie Set at Williams Sonoma a while back and just couldn't resist. I was a bit intimidated about making the cookies but I watched the tutorial video and they looked pretty easy. I decided to test them out and made Happy New Year Star Cookies using the recipe that came with the set. It's a basic sugar cookie dough and super buttery and yummy! The recipe says to chill the dough for at least 2 hours but if you're short on time like I usually am, you can just put it in the freezer for 30 minutes. Now I'm really excited to try the other shapes and the message possibilities are endless!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

I Finally Got Herbs de Provence!

I can't believe it's taken me this long to get Herbs de Provence! It's a mixture of dried herbs from Provence and the combination is just amazing! I've seen it used in many recipes and couldn't wait to try it in these Meatballs in Mushroom Cream Sauce. OMG I'm SO glad I made them tonight! The meatballs were SO flavorful and the creamy mushroom sauce couldn't get any better! I served them over some mashed potatoes as suggested by the recipe and it was the PERFECT meal!

Jumping on the Health Wagon!

It's the beginning of the year and it seems like everyone's resolution is to get healthier in 2011. I think it's great and made some light and healthy Zucchini Bites for my coworkers. No oil and no butter yet they taste delicious! Now don't get me wrong, there will be plenty of cookies and brownies this year but I guess something healthy once in a while doesn't hurt either!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Unfried Orange Chicken

For the longest time, I never knew Orange Chicken was fried. I guess that's why it tastes so good right? Greg loves the dish so I wanted to make it at home. I didn't wanna take out my deep-fryer on a weeknight so I decided to make a stir-fry instead. It actually came out even tastier than the restaurant ones cuz I added lots of flavor with bell peppers, orange zest and a nice kick with Siracha! The cornstarch helped to make a thick and syrupy sauce which got all soaked up by the rice. No need for takeout at this house!




Ingredients:


1 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 boneless skinless chicken thighs, chopped into bite-size pieces
1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 Tbsp minced ginger
2 Tbsp chopped green onion
1/2 orange juice
1/4 c rice wine vinegar
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp Siracha
Zest of 1 orange
1/4 c brown sugar
1 Tbsp corn starch
2 Tbsp water
Rice, for serving


Prep:


1. Heat oil in a pan on medium heat. Add chicken and brown lightly on each side, about 10 minutes total. Remove to a plate. Add bell pepper, garlic, ginger and green onions. Cook, stirring, until tender, 5 minutes.


2. Add orange juice, vinegar, soy sauce, Siracha, orange zest and sugar. Bring to a boil, scrapping up brown bits. Add chicken back and simmer until meat is cooked through, 10 minutes.


3. In a small bowl, stir together the corn starch and water. Stir into the pot and simmer until mixture thickens, 3 minutes. Serve over rice.

Being Creative with Guacamole

Once in a while (ok maybe a bit more than that) I love to get REALLY creative with my baking and tonight was a great example. I made Guacamole Muffins using left-over Guac and they came out surprisingly good! The red chunks you see are the chopped tomatoes that I always add to my Guac. I also used cornmeal, sour cream and Mexican-style cheese so these tasted like a festive dip and corn chips all in one! YUM YUM!




Ingredients: (6 muffins)


1/2 c cornmeal
1 tsp baking powder
1 egg
1/4 c milk
1 c prepared Guacamole
1/2 c sour cream
1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese


Prep:


1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line or grease 6 muffin cups.


2. In a bowl, stir together the cornmeal and baking powder. In a measuring cup, whisk together the eggs and milk. Pour into the dry ingredients and stir just until combined. Stir in the Guacamole, sour cream and cheese until completely mixed.


3. Scoop batter into prepared muffin cups, filling 3/4 full. Bake 15-20 minutes, until toothpick inserted into the middle of a muffin comes out clean.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Nothing's More Comforting than Pork Chops and Sweet Potatoes

Well, unless you add Bacon to the mix! Tonight's Maple Pork Chops with Bacon Sweet Potato Hash came from Cook's Country and it was amazing! You won't find the recipe online so I've posted it below and it's a MUST TRY! The crunchy salty bacon went so well with the creamy sweet potatoes and a big chunk of pork on top never hurts either! My favorite part though was the thick Maple-Dijon Sauce! The perfect one-pot meal on a weeknight!




Ingredients:


2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch chunks
6 slices bacon, chopped fine
4 bone-in pork chops, about 1-inch thick
salt and pepper
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 c maple syrup
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp cider vinegar


Prep:


1. Place potatoes in large bowl and microwavem covered, until tender, 4-7 minutes. Meanwhile, cook bacon in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat until crisp, 5 minutes. Transfer bacon to plate.


2. Pat pork chops dry and season with salt and pepper. Heat bacon fat in the same Dutch oven over medium-high heat until just smoking. Brown chops about 4 minutess per side. Transfer to plate and tend with foil to keep warm.


3. Add potatoes and brown 5-7 minutes all over. Stir in thyme and bacon. Transfer to serving bowl.


4. Add maple syrup, mustard and vinagar to Dutch oven. Return pork and simmer, turning often, until thickened.

Miniature Versions of Ina's Buttermilk Biscuits

I watched Ina make some Buttermilk Cheddar Biscuits for her Breakfast Party and they looked SO yummy! I don't make Biscuits too often as cuz it's such a hassle cutting in the butter with my pastry cutter or food processor and using my fingers tend to get really messy. Ina used her stand mixer and it was so much easier (and WAY less mess)! The trick is to keep all the ingredients really cold and work fast so the butter doesn't start to melt. I thought it'd be fun to make mini biscuits so I used a 2-inch fluted cutter and cut down the baking time to 15 minutes. I also sprinkled parmesan cheese on top instead of salt to give the biscuits a more flavorful crust. They came out flaky, cheesy and yummy, not to mention cute! This batter made about 2 dozen mini biscuits and I'm pretty sure we ate about a dozen tonight so that tells you how good they are! I think I need to take the rest to work before we eat them all! :)

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Holding on to the Holidays!

I used to get really depressed when the holidays are over in January but this year I'm actually not. I think it's cuz 2010 has been so crazy with the wedding, new job and everything that I'm looking forward to a brand new start. (It also helps that we have our honeymoon to plan this year!) I know I'll miss all the yummy food though, so I decided to hold on just a lil longer by baking these Spiced Carrot Muffins. The Pumpkin Spice made my kitchen smell like Thanksgiving again and I just love it! I guess the older you get, the more you realize that the holidays may only come around once a year but they'll be here again in no time! Happy 2011 everyone!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Introducing Savory Carrot Cakes!

I've baked Savory Zucchini Breads and Muffins a dozen times and realized that there's no reason why I couldn't do the same for carrots. I mean, they're veggies just the same and can go both sweet and savory right? So tonight I made Savory Carrot Cakes with lots of CHEESE and fresh parsley. They came out amazingly moist and REALLY yummy! It just goes to show you that thinking outside of the box can really pay off!




Ingredients: (12 muffins)


1-1/2 c all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 large egg
1/2 c canola oil
1 c shredded carrots
1/2 c shredded Cheddar cheese
1/4 c finely chopped fresh parsley


Prep:


1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Spray muffin cups with cooking spray.


2. In a large bowl combine flour, salt, black pepper, baking soda, and baking powder.


3. In a medium bowl whisk together egg and oil. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, and stir just until combined. Fold in carrots, cheese and parsley.


4. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes. Remove from pans and place on a wire rack.

Having FUN with FUNDIDO!

Fundido means "melted cheese" in Spanish so how can it not be good right? We often order it as an appetizer at Mexican restaurants and I wanted to try making it at home. It wasn't hard at all and I made mine with Chorizo, which I finally found at the grocery store. The kitchen smelled amazing as the meat cooked on the stovetop and even better after the cheese was added and melted in the oven! This is New Year snacking at its best!




Ingredients:


1/4 lb Chorizo, casing removed
1/2 c chopped onion
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 Tbsp chopped canned green chilies
1 c Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
1/4 c chopped fresh parsley
6 small flour or corn tortillas


Prep:


1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Sauté Chorizo and onion in a skillet over medium-high heat until brown, breaking up clumps of meat with back of spoon, about 10 minutes.


2. Mix in chili powder and green chilies. Pour mixture into a small baking dish. Top with cheese.


3. Wrap tortillas in foil and place in oven next to the Fundido on a baking sheet. Bake until cheese is melted and tortillas are warmed through, about 10 minutes. Garnish with parsley and serve hot with tortillas.
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