Friday, April 23, 2010

Green Tea Cupcakes

I am on a new quest; I am going to attempt to make all of my close friends cupcakes for their birthdays so that I can practice baking. If I bake something and it sticks around here, we will pick on it for a week. The only problem with this plan is how many of my friends and family have March, April, or May birthdays! These cupcakes kicked off the trend back in March, and they were made for my friend Meghan. Meghan loves green tea, so I thought these would be perfect. This recipe is from Designs By Gollum, and I was linked to them via Foodgawker. Foodgawker is one of my favorite sites. I highly suggest that you check it out, but make sure you do not look at it when you are hungry! Anyway, I was bit disappointed with this recipe. They just didn't taste strong enough for me. If I was to make them again, I think I would add stronger tea to the mix. On a positive note, the great thing about this recipe was how simple it was.

You will need:
*1 box butter cake mix
*2/3 cup green tea, cooled
*3 eggs
*1 stick unsalted butter, softened
*1 cup chopped pecans
and for the icing:
*confectioners' sugar
*green tea

1)Preheat the oven; Mix batter according to the directions on the box, but substitute the tea for water. Fold in raisins and pecans.
2) Line cupcake tin. Pour batter into cupcake liners, and bake 18-20 minutes.
3) Allow the cupcakes to cool completely.
4) For the icing, mix green tea with confectioners’ sugar. You may dunk the cupcakes or spoon the glaze over them to cover. (The original recipe recommends food coloring here. I skipped this step, but you could add that and more sugar to make a more noticeable icing.)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Simple Lunch-Pesto Grilled Sandwiches

We live near a local coffee shop that has delicious sandwiches. As tasty as their lunches are, they are usually overpriced. I love trying to create some of our favorite takeout selections at home. This allows us to save some money, and I am often able to make some recipes healthier by using less butter and oil. This is a simple sandwich that I almost didn't blog about. However, I have been eating it so much lately that I decided to share. I have made this on a variety of breads; my favorite breads for this are pumpernickel and any variety Arnold sandwich thin.

You will need:
-roasted red peppers or tomatoes
-goat cheese (plain or with herbs)
-bread of your choice

1) Spread pesto on one slice of bread; spread goat cheese on the other.
2) Top the cheese side with roasted red peppers or tomatoes.
3)Toast/Grill together until bread is toasted to your liking, and the sandwich contents are hot.
4) Enjoy!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Panko Pork

I love getting cooking magazines in the mail. This past Christmas I hit the jackpot and was gifted quite a few subscriptions. The Food Network magazine is one of my favorites, and when this recipe was in the latest issue, I knew we had to try it. Dave and I love going out for Japanese food and often order sake when we do. It was that rice wine ingredient, just a small amount of it, that made me realize this would be a recipe we'd enjoy. We also have bottles of sake on hand because many people have gifted it to us, yet we never drink it at home. Adding lean pork to our weekly menu also helps to break up the chicken rut that we sometimes fall into. I made a few minor changes from the original recipe and was happy with the way it turned out. (To view the original recipe, click the link above) We've been on a lucky streak with new dinners lately, and I have found another winner!

You will need:
*1 pound thin-cut boneless pork chops or cutlets, trimmed
*Kosher salt
*2 tablespoons Chinese rice wine, sake or sherry
*1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated peeled ginger
*2 medium cucumbers
*1/2 to 1 teaspoon sugar
*2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
*2 large eggs
*1 1/2 cups panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
*3/4 cup cornstarch
*Peanut oil for frying
*1/4 cup tonkatsu sauce (You can make your own by mixing 2 tablespoons each ketchup, Worcestershire sauce and sugar with 1 tablespoon water)

1) Season the pork with salt. Mix the rice wine and 1 teaspoon ginger and spread on the pork. Stack the pork chops and set aside.

2) Peel, quarter and seed the cucumbers; cut into 4-inch spears. Toss with the sugar and vinegar. (For a time saver-by a seedless cucumber)

3) Beat the eggs with 1/2 cup water in a shallow bowl or rimmed dish. Put the panko and cornstarch in 2 separate shallow bowls/dishes. Dredge each piece of pork in cornstarch, dip in egg, and then coat with the panko.

4) Heat peanut oil in a large skillet over high heat. Fry the pork in batches until golden, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Drain on a paper-towel-lined plate.

5) Mix the tonkatsu sauce and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon ginger in a bowl. Serve the pork with the cucumbers and sauce.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Turkey Lettuce Wraps

We are enjoying some fabulous spring weather here! It is a great lift to flooded spirits after an incredibly rainy March. This warmer weather is changing up our menu quite a bit. One of my favorite light summer dinners is lettuce wraps. The proteins, sauces, and everything can be interchanged. There are so many different ways to make lettuce wraps, and I found this specific recipe on Gina's WW blog. I have been frustrated lately by the lack of good lettuce leaves at the grocery store! So for this recipe, I purchased the prepackaged bibb lettuce and it worked out. This is an extremely quick and easy weeknight dinner.

You will need:
* 1.3 lbs lean ground turkey
* 1 tsp garlic powder
* 1 tsp cumin
* 1 tsp salt
* 1 tsp chili powder
* 1 tsp paprika
* 1/2 tsp oregano
* 1/2 small onion, minced
* 2 tbsp bell pepper, minced
* 3/4 cup water
* 1/2 8 oz can tomato sauce
* 8 large lettuce leaves

1) Brown turkey in a large skillet until it is cooked thoroughly. (It will no longer be pink)

2) Add the dry seasonings and mix well.

3) Add onion, pepper, water and tomato sauce. Cover and simmer on low for about 20 minutes.

4) Wash and dry the lettuce. Place the meat mixture into the lettuce leaves.