Sunday, January 31, 2010

My Go-To Chip Dip

This is one of the few things I have been making for about 10 years. Even in high school and college, I would whip this up to munch on while we watched football. It is easy, tasty, and when I use fat free ingredients, it isn't too 'bad' for you. I am sure everyone has had some variation of this dip, and I encourage you to enjoy one while watching the Super Bowl next Sunday.

You will need:
(You can adjust the amounts to fit in any dish, and you can eyeball how much you'd like to use. I usually use my 13x9 Pyrex. So these amounts are based on that serving dish size.)
*2 cans of refried beans (I often use only one, because my friends aren't too fond of them)
*1 1/2 jars of your favorite salsa
*1 1/2 containers of sour cream
*2 cups of Mexican shredded cheese
*optional toppings of black olives, tomatoes, scallions, etc.
*chips for dipping

1) Layer the first 4 ingredients in order.
2) On top of the shredded cheese, sprinkle any of your optional toppings. Serve with chips.
I find that this is often best when set in the fridge for about an hour before serving.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Coconut Chicken with Toasted Coconut Rice

This dinner was a tropical escape during a cold January work week! We felt like we were reliving a bit of our Hawaiian honeymoon. As soon as I saw the toasted coconut rice in Martha Stewart Living, I knew I wanted to try it. Rachael Ray has many recipes we have enjoyed, and these coconut chicken cutlets were no exception. The two recipes paired, are a perfect blend of flavor. If you like coconut, I think you will love this dinner.

Since I started cooking the rice first, here's what you need for that:
*1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
*1/2 cup finely shredded unsweetened coconut (I used sweetened since I had it on hand)
*1 cup basmati rice (I used brown basmati)
*2 cups water
*3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
*2 scallions, thinly sliced on the bias

1. Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat.
2. Cook coconut, stirring, until golden brown, about 5 minutes.
3. Set aside 2 tablespoons coconut. Stir rice into pan with remaining coconut. Add water and salt, and bring to a boil.
4. Reduce heat, and simmer, covered, until water is absorbed and rice is tender, about 20 minutes.Garnish with reserved coconut and the scallions.

For the chicken you need:
* 8 chicken cutlets, slightly pounded
* Salt and pepper
* 1 cup flour
* 2 eggs
* 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
* 1 cup grated unsweetened coconut (again, I used sweetened)
* 1 to 2 tablespoons EVOO-Extra Virgin Olive Oil
For chicken sauce topping:
* 1/2 cup pineapple preserves
* 1/2 jalapeño, seeded and sliced into rings
* 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar or tamari
* 1 to 2 tablespoons chicken stock
* 2 scallions, whites and greens sliced

1. Preheat oven to 250˚F. Place a cooling rack over a baking sheet and place in oven.

2. Arrange 3 shallow dishes: Put the flour on one plate, beat eggs with a splash of water in second dish, and combine the panko and coconut in the third dish.

3. Heat a thin layer of EVOO in a large skillet over medium heat. Season the chicken cutlets with salt and pepper, then coat them in the flour, then egg, then breadcrumb-coconut mixture. Fry in 2 batches until deep golden in color, 3-4 minutes on each side. Keep chicken crisp in warm oven and repeat with remaining chicken.

4. Prepare the sauce-In a small skillet over medium-high heat, stir together pineapple preserves, jalapeño slices, rice wine vinegar or tamari, and chicken stock. Reduce until thickened, about 2 minutes. (Mine took longer) Stir in scallions.

5. Serve the chicken with the sauce over it.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Garlic Lime Pork Chops with Cilantro Lime Rice

This dinner was amazing! Both Dave and I thought it was the best new dinner we have tried in awhile. The fact that this was tasty, filling, and healthy, will make it a regular in our dinner rotation. Both of these incredible recipes are from Gina's WW Recipes. You can find her recipe for the pork here, and the rice here. We have never had Chipotle, but this rice is made to be a copycat version of a kind that they make there. I cooked the pork chops on our Cuisinart griddler, and I did dry them out a bit. Next time, I will not cook them quite as long. I tend to always be nervous about undercooking! It often takes me a couple times to get a new recipe perfected to our liking. Even though these were a bit tough, we still enjoyed them.

Garlic-Lime Pork Chops
You will need:
* 4 (6 oz) lean boneless pork chops
* 4 cloves garlic, minced
* 1 tsp cumin
* 1 tsp chili powder (I omitted this because I did not have it, and I did not miss it)
* 1 tsp paprika
* juice of 1/2 lime
* lime zest
* salt and fresh pepper

1)Trim the visible fat off pork.

2) Put the pork in a large bowl. Season it with the garlic, cumin, (chili powder if using), paprika, salt and pepper. Squeeze lime juice on top and add some zest from the lime. Marinade for at least 20 minutes. Preheat the grill to medium heat.

3)Place the pork chops on the grill (See Gina's recipe for broiler directions) Grill the chops for about 4-5 minutes on each side or until nicely browned.

4) I recommend you serve it with this rice recipe below.

Cilantro Lime Rice
You will need:
* 1 cup extra long grain rice or basmati rice (I used brown basmati)
* juice of 1/2 a lime
* 2 cups water
* 1 tsp salt
* 3 tbsp fresh chopped cilantro
* 4 tsp vegetable oil

1) In a small heavy pot, add rice, water, 1 tsp of the vegetable oil, and salt. Boil the pot on high until the water just skims the top of the rice.

2) Reduce the heat to low and cover about 15 minutes.

3)Shut off flame and keep covered an additional 5 minute.

4) In a medium bowl, combine the chopped cilantro, lime juice, rice and remaining oil. Mix together and serve.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

White Chocolate Cranberry Cookies

These cookies were sweet and tasty. I liked the lighter texture of them. I found this recipe on My Recipes, and I made them for a potluck event at work. They seemed to be popular because I didn't take any of them home.

You will need:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/3 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups white chocolate morsels
1 (6-ounce) package sweetened dried cranberries (I used Craisins)

1) Preheat the oven to 350.

2) Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in a medium bowl.

3) In an electric mixer, beat the butter at medium speed until creamt. Add the sugar in gradually. Next, add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating until blended.

4) Add flour mixture to butter mixture gradually, beating at low speed until blended. Stir in white chocolate morsels and cranberries.

5) Drop cookie dough by heaping tablespoonfuls onto lightly greased baking sheets.

6) Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned on bottom (Needed closer to 15 minutes). Remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Guinness and Baileys Cupcakes

Dave likes Guinness, and I love Baileys. I knew immediately that we would both enjoy these cupcakes. I first saw these on Smitten Kitchen and I followed the recipe from Annie's Eats. I have had this recipe saved for a few months, knowing that Dave's 30th birthday would be a wonderful occasion/reason to make them. We had our closest friends celebrate with us at the Bleacher Bar that looks into Fenway Park. It was great to spend some time in January near our favorite part of the city! The rink was still up from the Winter Classic, and we were glad to be able to see it up close. These cupcakes were a huge hit! I am getting requests to make them for quite a few upcoming birthdays. They do have an alcohol taste to them, and the Baileys is not cooked so they do contain some alcohol in them. I look forward to making these again, and I am thinking about using a chocolate stout in the cake base next time. I doubled this recipe to get 48 cupcakes. Due to how we iced the cupcakes, we did not have enough frosting for all of them. I would have to make even more of that next time. Many thanks to Kim and Dawn for their help with these.

You will need...

For the Guinness chocolate cupcakes:
1 cup stout (Guinness)
16 tbsp. unsalted butter
3⁄4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
11⁄2 tsp. baking soda
3⁄4 tsp. salt
2 large eggs
2/3 cup sour cream

For the Bailey's ganache filling:
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (I used Bakers pieces)
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp. butter, at room temperature
2 tsp. Bailey's Irish cream

For the Bailey's buttercream frosting:
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
3-4 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
4-8 tbsp. Bailey's Irish cream

1) Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line two cupcake pans with paper liners. Combine the stout and butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the cocoa powder and whisk until smooth. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.

2) In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the eggs and sour cream to blend. Add the stout-butter mixture and beat just to combine. Mix in the dry ingredients on low speed just until incorporated.

3) Divide the batter evenly between the cupcake liners, filling them about 2/3 to 3⁄4 full. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 17 minutes. Allow to cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Ganache Filling
1) Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream in a small saucepan until simmering, then pour it over the chocolate. Let sit for one minute and then whisk until smooth. If the chocolate is not completely melted, place the bowl over a double boiler (I make one using a sauce pan and a metal mixing bowl) Add the butter and Bailey's and stir until combined.

2) Set aside to let the ganache cool until it is thick enough to be piped. (I used the fridge to speed this up and did as Annie suggested-stir every 10 minutes.) Meanwhile, cut out a portion from the center of the cupcake. Once the ganache has reached the correct consistency, transfer it to a piping bag fitted with a wide tip and pipe it into the cupcakes.

Baileys Frosting
1) Place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Gradually add the powdered sugar until it is all incorporated. Mix in the Bailey's until smooth. Add more if necessary until the frosting has reached a good consistency for piping or spreading. Frost the cupcakes.

Here's a picture of the cupcakes out at the party.
Not the best lighting and photo, but you get the idea.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Slow Cooker Chicken Taco Soup

How does one photograph soup to make it look appetizing? This meal is really just putting canned goods into the crock pot. It was filling, and we ate a few lunches out of it too. I made this last weekend, when I was dreading returning to work after two blissful weeks off. I used frozen chicken that I had on hand, so I added a bit more than the recipe called for which overpowered the broth. Next time, I will be sure to not use quite as much! I found this recipe on Lemons&Love (who got it from All Recipes). As suggested on that blog, I also added some other seasonings-red pepper flakes, cumin, garlic powder, and oregano. I incorporated these seasonings right after I shredded the chicken. I made a few other changes that I noted in the recipe below.

You will need:
1 onion, chopped
1 (16 ounce) can chili beans (red beans)
1 (15 ounce) can black beans
1 (15 ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 (12 ounce) can or bottle beer
2 (10 ounce) cans diced tomatoes with green chilies, undrained (I used 1 -14.5oz can)
1 (1.25 ounce) package taco seasoning (I used low sodium)
3 whole skinless, boneless chicken breasts
shredded Cheddar cheese (optional)
sour cream (optional)
crushed tortilla chips (optional)

1) Place the onion, chili beans, black beans, corn, tomato sauce, beer, and diced tomatoes in a slow cooker. Add taco seasoning, and stir to blend. Lay chicken breasts on top of the mixture, pressing down slightly until just covered by the other ingredients. Set slow cooker for low heat, cover, and cook for 5 hours.

2) Remove chicken breasts from the soup, and allow to cool long enough to be handled. Stir the shredded chicken back into the soup (this is where I added some other seasonings), and continue cooking for 2 hours (I did just over 1 hour and it was fine). You can serve this topped with shredded Cheddar cheese, a dollop of sour cream, and crushed tortilla chips.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Roasted Asparagus wrapped in Prosciutto

We enjoyed a lazy New Years Day on the couch cheering on the Bruins in the Winter Classic. We tried to get some tickets to enjoy the event at Fenway, but I think I was more grateful to be warm and have a perfect view in our living room. I made us an assortment of appetizers with some leftovers in our fridge. One thing I made was asparagus in prosciutto based on Giada's Food Network recipe. We didn't have a ton of prosciutto left, so I made some spears with salami wrapped around them. It wasn't as good, but we were hungry so it worked for us.

You will need:
* 1 pound asparagus, trimmed
* 1 tablespoon olive oil
* salt and freshly ground black pepper
* 6 to 8 paper-thin slices prosciutto, cut in half-lengthwise

1) Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

2) Place the asparagus (with woody ends snapped/chopped off) on a heavy baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and toss. Roast for about 15 minutes or until the asparagus is tender. Cool completely.

3) Wrap each asparagus with 1 piece (about 1/2 a slice) of prosciutto, exposing tips. Serve at room temperature.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Stuffed Red Peppers

Happy New Year!
2009 was an amazing year! I think I feel this way because we were married in July followed by an amazing honeymoon in Hawaii. Two of our best friends were married right after our trip, and it was wonderful to be a part of their big day while still riding on our Newlywed excitement. I am excited to see what 2010 has in store for us.

Like many people, I often focus on eating healthier again in the new year. The holidays are exciting with the many parties and treats, but I am also beginning to appreciate when our life returns to our "normal routines." I am definitely a creature of habit! My students will be back in the classroom on Monday, and our hectic weeknights will return. These stuffed peppers will be something I make again this week as we get back into the groove. They are another successful recipe from Gina's WW Recipes. Growing up I loved my mom's stuffed peppers. They were a tomato sauce, beef, and rice base that was combined into a green pepper. I like this twist of using red peppers and not much tomato sauce. The ground turkey and brown rice also make these a healthier option. These made a lot of servings for the two of us, so we enjoyed them for lunch as well.

You will need:
* 1 lb lean ground turkey
* 1 garlic clove, minced
* 1/4 onion, minced
* 1 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro or parsley
* 1 tsp garlic powder
* 1 tsp cumin powder
* salt to taste
* 3 large sweet red bell peppers, washed
* 1 cup fat free chicken broth
* 1/4 cup tomato sauce
* 1 1/2 cups cooked rice (I cooked one Success brown rice packet)
* Olive oil spray
* 1/4 cup reduced fat shredded cheese (I used part-skim mozzarella)

1) Preheat the oven to 400°. Spray the olive oil spray in a medium size saute pan over medium-heat. Add onion, garlic, and cilantro to the pan. Saute for about 2 minutes.

2)Add the ground turkey. Season with salt, garlic powder, and cumin. Brown the meat for several minutes until it is completely cooked through.

3) Add the tomato sauce and a 1/2 cup of chicken broth. Mix well and simmer on low for about 5 minutes. Combine cooked rice and meat together.

4) Cut the bell peppers in half lengthwise, and remove all seeds. Place the peppers in a baking dish(I used my 13 x 9 pyrex) Spoon the meat mixture into each pepper half. Pour the remainder of the chicken broth on the bottom of the pan.

5) Cover tight with aluminum foil and bake for about 35 minutes. Top with shredded cheese and enjoy.