Saturday, December 31, 2011

Oreo Peanut Butter Brownies

Can you believe it's the last day of 2011? This year certainly had its ups and downs in our household. I am ready to move on to a fresh start with a new year. I am looking forward to celebrating New Year's Eve with good friends and good food tonight. I hope you kick off 2012 right!

Before all of those healthier eating resolutions kick in, I had to share this delicious recipe. My sister-in-law has recently started a blog, Sunday Dinner and then Some. After reading about these treats on her blog, hearing her talk about them, and seeing numerous Facebook friends make them, I caved. These were the dessert at back to back dinner parties we attended. Everyone loved them. A great go-to recipe for a last minute dessert since we usually have most of these ingredients on hand, except for Oreos. Those are not welcome in the house unless we have a use for them!

You will need:
*24 Oreo cookies (this is the one time double stuff will not work! They'll be too big)

*smooth peanut butter

*brownie mix and all the ingredients the box calls for

1. Preheat oven to 350. Line or grease a 12-cup muffin pan.

2. Spread peanut butter on top of an Oreo, press an Oreo on top, and spread more peanut butter on the top of the two Oreos stacked together. Place into the muffin tin. Repeat until you have a peanut butter Oreo stack in each muffin well.

3. Make your boxed brownie mix.

4. Spoon the prepared brownie mix into the muffin wells. Be sure to cover the cookie stacks and get down and around them. This should require about 2 tablespoons of the mixture for each Oreo stack. (I ended up making a few more because I had leftover batter and a second muffin tin!)

4. Bake for 18-20 minutes. Allow the brownies to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes before transferring to baking racks to cool completely. You can also eat them warm. I highly recommend that!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Squash Macaroni and Cheese

This is another successful recipe from Cooking Light magazine. I tagged it in my September issue but kind of forgot about it until I spotted it on Prevention RD. The squash purèed and mixed with the cheeses makes this mac and cheese taste like it is terrible for you. Isn't that what you want in a bowl of mac and cheese?! This would be a great way to sneak a veggie serving to kids or other picky eaters. You can certainly taste the squash though, so I am not sure it would work for someone that despises butternut squash. (I find it hard to believe that such people exist!) I made this awhile back and am adding it to our menu again next week. I highly recommend you make this soon. I'd say it is one of the best new recipes we tried in 2011.

You will need:
*3 cups butternut squash (about 1 pound), cubed and peeled
*1 1/4 cups lower-sodium chicken broth
*1 1/2 cups skim milk
*2 garlic cloves
*1 teaspoon kosher salt
*1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
*2 tablespoons nonfat Greek yogurt
*1 1/4 cups (5 ounces) shredded Gruyère cheese
*1 cup (4 ounces) grated pecorino Romano cheese
*1/4 cup (1 ounce) finely grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided
*1 pound uncooked pasta (I used one 13.25 oz. box of whole wheat rotini)
*2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (omitted)

1. Preheat oven to 375°.

2. Combine squash, broth, milk, and garlic in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium for about 25 minutes until squash is tender when pierced with a fork. Remove from heat.

3. Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt, drain well.

4. Carefully, place the hot squash mixture in a blender. (I am lazy with blending recipes and always use my immersion blender!) Add salt, pepper, and Greek yogurt. If you use a blender, remove the top's center to allow heat to escape. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid to help prevent splattering. Blend until smooth.

4. Place blended mixture in a bowl. Stir in Gruyère, pecorino Romano, and Parmigiano-Reggiano until combined. Add pasta to squash mixture, and stir until combined. Sprinkle with parsley if desired, and serve immediately.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Hot Chocolate on a Stick

Here is the hot chocolate on a stick recipe that used the homemade marshmallows. This can be swirled into warm milk to make a creamy hot chocolate, or it can be enjoyed directly off the stick as a piece of fudge topped with marshmallow. This recipe has been all over blogs, but I followed the steps on The Dainty Chef. If you are still in need of a gift idea, give these hot chocolate sticks a try. They take awhile in how long everything needs to set, but they are not complicated to make. I'm excited to gift these to coworkers, friends, and family. In addition to these, this year's baked gifts included some gingerbread granola, oreo truffles, gingerbread biscotti, cinnamon sugar muffins, and the usual pretzel treats. I tried a number of new recipes while I was off this week. Some were successes and others were not. I am planning on baking a bit more these last few days before the holiday so hopefully I'll be back with more to share.

You will need:
*1/2 cup heavy cream
*14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
*3 cups semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (can be chopped or chips)
*4-oz bar unsweetened chocolate (I blanked on using this the first batch and it was fine without)
*marshmallows, can use store bought to save time
*lollipop sticks
*cellophane bags

1. Prepare an 8x8 pan by lining it with parchment paper and set aside.

2. Heat the cream and sweetened condensed milk over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until it starts steaming. Remove pan from heat and stir in the chocolates. Let sit for 10 minutes.

3. After ten minutes, put the chocolate mixture back on medium-low heat and stir with a whisk until chocolate is completely melted. (This did not take too long) Pour the chocolate mixture into prepared pan and spread it to be as level as you can. Let this set, uncovered, for about 12 hours.

4. Remove chocolate from the pan onto a cutting board with the top side down. Run a long, thin knife under hot water and wipe with a paper towel. Divide your square into six equal sections vertically and then horizontally. You want to keep reheating the knife with hot water after every few cuts. Store the chocolate squares in an airtight container until ready to use. I layered mine into a simple Tupperware using wax paper.

5. To assemble, place a marshmallow and then hot chocolate fudge piece onto each lollipop stick. Package in a bag and twist tie or add a ribbon. You'll also want to include directions with these treats. Here are the tags that I used that were inspired by Make and Takes:

Hot Chocolate on a Stick

Swirl and melt the chocolate and marshmallow
stick in 4-8 ounces of hot milk.
If you can't wait for it to melt, just eat
the hot chocolate fudge and marshmallow
directly off the stick!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


I've read on many blogs how easy it is to make homemade marshmallows. I decided to try it this year to add to Christmas treat gifts. I will join that clan and say yes, this is easy! You know what isn't easy? Cleaning a corn syrup sugar mixture off your stove as the smoke fills your entire kitchen. Alton's recipe that I followed recommended a small sauce pan. I have to disagree because that left me with an absolute mess before the mixture reached temperature. However, the product of this recipe was impressive. I used these marshmallows to create hot chocolate on a stick. I'll share that recipe with you tomorrow because those would make great last minute treats for Christmas weekend! I'm off to continue picking at the stove with my fingernails because I'm too lazy to go out and buy a razor blade.

You will need:
*3 envelopes unflavored gelatin
*1 cup ice cold water, divided
*1 1/2 cups granulated sugar, 12 ounces
*1 cup light corn syrup
*1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
*1 teaspoon vanilla extract
*1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
*1/4 cup cornstarch
*nonstick spray

1. Place the gelatin and 1/2 cup of the water into the bowl of a stand mixer . With the whisk attachment in place.

2. In a medium saucepan combine the remaining 1/2 cup water, granulated sugar, corn syrup, and salt. Place over medium high heat and cover. After cooking 3-4 minutes, remove cover, and clip a candy thermometer onto the side of the pan. Continue to cook until the mixture reaches 240 degrees F, approximately 7 to 8 minutes. Once the mixture reaches this temperature, immediately remove from the heat.

3. Turn the mixer on low speed and slowly pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the gelatin mixture while the mixer is running. Once you have added all of the syrup, increase the speed to high. Continue to whip until the mixture becomes very thick and is lukewarm, approximately 15 minutes. Add the vanilla extract during the last minute of whipping. While the mixture is whipping prepare the pans as follows.

4. Combine the confectioners' sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Lightly spray a 13 by 9-inch metal baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. (I do not own a metal baking pan that size, so I used my glass Pyrex) Coat the bottom and sides of the pan with the sugar and cornstarch mixture. Return the remaining mixture to the bowl for later use.

5. When ready, pour the thick mixture into the prepared pan. Use a lightly oiled spatula to help spread evenly into the pan. Dust the top with some of the remaining sugar and cornstarch mixture to lightly cover. Reserve the rest for later. Allow the marshmallows to sit uncovered for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.

6. Turn the marshmallows out onto a cutting board. Use a pizza wheel dusted with the confectioners' sugar mixture to cut 1-inch squares. Once cut, lightly dust all sides of each marshmallow with the remaining sugar cornstarch mixture. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.

Alton's recipe also contains instructions for preparing mini marshmallows. It changes the directions after step 3 and you can find those steps through the link above.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Squash and Black Bean Enchiladas

Pumpkin tends to get all the attention at the start of the fall. Don't get me wrong, I love baking and cooking with pumpkin, but I think butternut squash is my favorite in fall and winter recipes. The flavor of roasted squash compliments so many dishes. These enchiladas are nothing short of amazing. The sauce with this recipe is now my go-to enchilada sauce. Both of the recipes below are from The Daily Garnish.

For the enchiladas, you will need:
*1 large butternut squash
*olive oil
*1 medium yellow onion, diced
*1 15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
*1/2 tsp nutmeg
*1/2 tsp cumin
*1/4 tsp cinnamon
*salt to taste
*6-8 whole wheat tortillas
*shredded Mexican cheese
*1 batch homemade enchilada sauce (below)

1. Preheat oven to 400. Peel, seed, and cube the butternut squash.

2. Place squash cubes on a sheet pan. Drizzle with some olive oil and salt. Roast for 45 minutes or until soft. Stir once halfway through cooking.
(While the squash is cooking, you can make your sauce. The recipe is posted below)

3. Once the squash is roasted, place the cubes in a large mixing bowl and mash. Set mashed squash aside to cool.

4. Saute the onions in a small frying pan until brown and soft. Add beans and cook until warmed, about 2 minutes. Stir beans and onions to the squash bowl. Season with spices and salt. Stirring to combine.

5. Spread 1 cup of the enchilada sauce on the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish. Scoop the squash and bean filling evenly onto tortillas and then loosely roll. Place filled tortillas in the baking dish with the seam side down. Pour the reaminder of the enchilada sauce over the tortillas. (This is a lot of enchilada sauce. I do not always use it all!) Be sure to use a spatula to get the sauce all around the sides of the pan and tortillas. If desired, top with shredded cheese. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

Enchilada Sauce
*1/4 cup vegetable oil
*1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
*3 tablespoons chili powder
*12 oz tomato paste
*2 cups vegetable broth
*1 teaspoon onion powder
*1 teaspoon cumin
*1 teaspoon minced garlic
*salt to taste

1. Heat oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and stir until completely dissolved and smooth. Add chili powder and stir for 1 minute to cook. Add tomato paste, vegetable broth, onion powder, cumin, and garlic, and stir to combine. The sauce should thicken. Add salt to taste, and then stir over medium heat to cook for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Pumpkin Snickerdoodles

Happy (belated) Thanksgiving!

I hope that you enjoyed a day full of good food, family, and friends. We hosted another successful Thanksgiving dinner, and I look forward to sharing the new recipes within the coming weeks.

These pumpkin snickerdoodles would be the perfect addition to holiday baking. I brought them to a friend's birthday party and everyone raved about them. They are a light, airy cookie that's subtle on the pumpkin flavor. I can't make these unless I have somewhere to bring them because we couldn't stop eating them! I found this recipe on Sweet Pea's Kitchen.

You will need:
*2 3/4 cups flour
*2 teaspoons cream of tartar
*1 teaspoon baking soda
*1/2 teaspoon salt
*1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (I might increase this a bit next time)
*1 3/4 cups sugar, divided
*2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
*1 large egg
*3/4 cup pumpkin puree
*2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silipats.

2. Whisk together flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, salt and pumpkin pie spice in a large bowl.

3. In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and 1 1/2 cups sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the egg and beat at medium speed until combined, about 30 seconds. Add the pumpkin puree and beat at medium speed until combined, about 30 seconds. Add the bowl of dry ingredients and beat at low speed until just combined, about 30 seconds. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.

4. Place the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and cinnamon in a shallow bowl. Roll a heaping tablespoon of dough into a 1½-inch ball and roll into the sugar mixture; place on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough, spacing the balls about 2 inches apart.
(I needed to add more cinnamon and sugar than noted above. So I would keep extra on hand.)

5. Bake for about 10-12 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway. You wanted the edges set and just beginning to brown but the centers still soft and puffy. Cool the cookies on the baking sheets about 5 minutes. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack using a wide spatula. Cool at room temperature.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

BBQ Beer Shredded Chicken

I love using the crockpot on Sundays. Dinner is quickly prepped in the morning and ready by the end of the day. This recipe is from one my absolute favorite blogs, How Sweet It Is. We've made this recipe twice recently. Every one who has tried it has enjoyed it. The best part, at least to me, is that it yields a lot of leftovers. You could make sandwiches, nachos, quesadillas, and much more with this chicken. We usually have sandwiches and portion out enough for two lunches and freeze the rest. We were able to simply freeze the remainder in a Ziplock bag. I defrosted it in the fridge when we were ready to enjoy it again. It reheated really well. I highly recommend you try this soon!

It is definitely worth splurging on the barbeque sauce suggested in the recipe. As far as beer goes, I've made this with Sam Adams Lager and the Octoberfest. Any beer would work, but I'd stay away from light beers for this recipe. I look forward to trying it again with a Winter Lager next month. I have a slight obsession with Sam Adams seasonal beers. (With exception to the disgusting spring option, Noble Pils)

You will need:
*3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts (fresh or frozen will work)
*1 tablespoon onion powder
*1 tablespoon smoked paprika
*1 teaspoon garlic powder
*1/2 teaspoon salt
*1/2 teaspoon pepper
*8 ounces of beer (and clearly, you should drink the remaining 4oz)
*32 ounces of Bone Suckin' barbecue sauce

1. Place the chicken in the crockpot. Top with onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, salt, and pepper. Add beer and 24 ounces of barbecue sauce. (Don't worry if you accidentally dump it all in. I did this once, and it didn't make a noticeable difference!) Cook on low for 8 hours.

2. Shred the chicken with two forks; add remaining barbecue sauce. Keep on warm setting until serving. Enjoy!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Potato Slabs

Football Sundays are always a great time full of food and friends. Each week, we get together with our closest friends to watch the Patriots game. It's always a potluck as we each bring an appetizer, dinner course, or dessert. These potato slabs were the perfect game watching food. I increased the amount from the recipe I found on Mrs. Regueiro's Plate.

You will need:
*3 russet potatoes
*3/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
*3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
*salt and pepper
*1/2 cup monterey cheese
*7 slices of bacon, diced and cooked

Topping suggestions:
*3 scallions sliced thinly, white and green parts (3)
*sour cream or Greek yogurt

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Wash and scrub potatoes clean. Using a mandoline slicer or sharp knife, slice the potatoes (the long way) into ¼ inch slices.

2. Place potato slices on a large baking sheet. Season with garlic powder, smoked paprika, salt and pepper on both sides of the potatoes. Drizzle one to two tablespoons of olive oil over the potatoes.

3. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Flip potatoes over and bake for an additional 15 minutes.

4. Remove pan from oven and top of each potato slab with some cheese and bacon. Return the pan to the oven and cook another 5 to 10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

5. Serve with any additional toppings you'd like. We served with scallions and Greek yogurt.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Creamy Pumpkin Soup

This simple weeknight meal tasted like fall. On a cold rainy night, we enjoyed this soup with some Trader Joe's grain bread with pumpkin seeds. I am not feeling much motivation for cooking after work lately, so we are enjoying many recipes that are quick and complete with leftovers that reheat well. This recipe comes from Sweet Pea's Kitchen. I omitted the toppings on the original recipe simply because they were not ingredients I had on hand. I'm thinking we may repeat this dinner on Halloween while we wait for trick-or-treaters.

You will need:
*2 tablespoons unsalted butter
*1 medium onion, minced
*2 medium garlic cloves, minced
*1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
*1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
*1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
*3 cups low-sodium chicken broth (extra on hand if needed)
*2 cups water
*15 oz. can pure pumpkin purée
*1/4 cup maple syrup
*1/2 cup half-and-half
*salt and ground black pepper to taste
Topping suggestions: Bleu cheese crumbles, toasted walnuts, pumpkin seeds

1. Melt the better in a large Dutch oven over medium-heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the garlic, cumin, coriander, and nutmeg and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
 Stir in the broth, water, pumpkin, and maple syrup; bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes, or until the flavors have melded.

2. Remove pot from heat and allow to cool slightly before pureeing the soup with an immersion blender, or carefully placing in the blender in two different batches. Stir in the half-and-half and additional broth if necessary.

3. Reheat the soup mixture gently over low heat until hot (do not boil). Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add toppings if desired.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Pumpkin Donuts with Maple-Cinnamon Glaze

October is officially pumpkin baking season in our household. It seems food blogs have exploded with pumpkin recipes, many of which are for donuts! I was debating which to try when I spotted this recipe from Taste and Tell. These came together easily on a Saturday morning. The only thing that we were too inpatient for was waiting to let the glaze set. Since I did not have maple extract, I used regular maple syrup in my glaze. This was perfect for eating immediately, but it didn't work so well on the donuts that sat until the next day. They tasted fine but lost their glazed look and just became sticky. I highly recommend this baked donut recipe. They are even tasty without a topping.

For the donuts, you will need:
*2 cups all-purpose flour
*1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
*1/2 teaspoon salt
*1/4 teaspoon baking soda
*1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
*1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
*1/4 teaspoon ginger
*1/2 cup brown sugar
*1 cup pumpkin puree
*2 eggs
*2 tablespoons milk
*1/4 cup butter, at room temperature
*1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the glaze, you will need:
*1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
*1/2 teaspoon maple extract or maple syrup
*1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
*2 tablespoons milk

1. Preheat the oven to 350. Prepare a doughnut pan by spraying with non-stick cooking spray.

2.Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger in a large bowl.

3. In a mixing bowl, cream together the brown sugar, butter, and pumpkin. Add in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla. Stir in the flour mixture in two additions, alternating with adding the milk.

4. Place the mix in a large zip-top bag. Cut off the corner and pipe into the doughnut pan. (This is always a challenge for me! Sometimes, I am better off spooning it in)

5. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the donuts rest in the pan for 5 minutes, then remove them and cool completely on a baking rack.

6. To make the glaze: Whisk together the powdered sugar, maple extract, cinnamon and milk in a small bowl. Dip the cool donuts into the glaze. Return to the wire rack to allow the glaze to set.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Lentil-Walnut Burger

Sorry for my disappearing act. We've been cooking but relying on many old favorites as the weather was cooling down. I have some backed up photos and recipes to share from the end of summer into fall, so I am hoping to get back to posting a bit more frequently.

These lentil-walnut burgers were a fabulous Meatless Monday meal. I found this recipe in my Everyday Food Great Food Fast cookbook. This cookbook is divided into four sections by season, and we've loved everything we've made from it. I discovered it at HomeGoods one afternoon. Our only complaint about these burgers was that they are a bit dry. As long as you pile on the yogurt-cilantro sauce you'll be good to go. I would not consider skipping the topping.

You will need:
*3/4 cup toasted walnuts, cooled
*1/3 cup plain dried breadcrumbs
*3 garlic cloves, chopped
*2 teaspoons ground cumin
*2 teaspoons ground coriander
*1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes, depending on heat desired
*Coarse salt and ground pepper
*3/4 cup lentils, cooked, drained, and cooled
*4 tablespoons olive oil
*1 large egg
*3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt (you could also use any low-fat plain yogurt)
*Coarse salt and ground pepper
*2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
*1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1. Combine walnuts, breadcrumbs, garlic, cumin, coriander, pepper flakes, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a food processor. Process until finely ground. Add lentils and 1 tablespoon oil to the mixture in the processor. Pulse until coarsely chopped-a few lentils should remain whole.

2. Whisk the egg in a large bowl. Add lentil mixture and mix well. Divide into 4 equal-size parts, roll into balls, and flatten with the palm of your hand to form 3/4-inch-thick patties.

3. Heat remaining 3 tablespoons oil in a large nonstick skillet. Cook the burgers over medium-low heat until crisp and browned, about 8-10 minutes per side. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate to drain.

4. While the burgers are cooking, make the yogurt-cilantro topping. In a small bowl, whisk together yogurt, cilantro, and lemon. Season with salt and pepper. Top burgers generously.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Zucchini Pizza

Pizza is a regular in our menu rotation. We often use the same few flavor combinations. During the height of zucchini season, I continued exploring recipes to use up the zucchinis I purchased at a local farm stand. This pizza recipe comes from Eat, Live, Run.I made this back in the glorious days of summer vacation. It was my lunch for a couple of days, and Dave enjoyed it for dinner. The red pepper flakes added a nice kick to this veggie filled slice. I think we'll be trying this again.

You will need:
*2 large zucchinis
*2 cloves garlic, minced
*1 cup ricotta cheese (I prefer part-skim)
*2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
*sea salt and freshly ground pepper
*red pepper flakes
*prepared pizza dough

1. Preheat the oven to 450 . Prepare your pizza stone by dusting it with cornmeal.

2. Grate the zucchinis; press with paper towels to soak up the liquid. (There was a lot of liquid!)

3. Mix the zucchini with the mozzarella cheese. Add salt and pepper for seasoning. Stir well to combine.

4. Combine the ricotta cheese and garlic in a small bowl. Season with sea salt and pepper to taste.

5. Stretch pizza dough onto your pizza stone. Spread the ricotta cheese on the dough and top with the shredded zucchini/cheese mixture. Top with another touch of salt and pepper. Sprinkle red pepper flakes to add some heat. Bake the pizza for about 15 minutes, or until the crust begins to golden and the cheese starts to bubble.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Zucchini Enchiladas

The picture does not look like much, but these are delicious! They started as a Meatless Monday meal, and now Dave requests these enchiladas frequently. Another reason this dinner is a winner is how quickly it comes together. I love healthy, tasty, and speedy weeknight meals. I'm beginning to consider cooking my way through Skinny Taste because I have discovered so many incredible recipes from Gina's blog. She uses real ingredients to make lighter meals and treats instead of using substitutes with ingredients I can't pronounce. I just went back to her blog to star some recipes to try this fall.

For the enchilada sauce, you will need:
*1 garlic clove, minced
*1 tablespoon chipotle chilis in adobo sauce
*1 cup tomato sauce
*1/4 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
*1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
*1/2 cup vegetable broth
*kosher salt and fresh pepper to taste

For the enchiladas, you will need:
*cooking spray (I use my Misto)
*1 teaspoon olive oil
*2 cloves garlic, minced
*2 medium scallions, chopped
*1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
*2 medium-sized zucchinis, grated
*kosher salt
*fresh ground pepper
*1 1/2 cups shredded Mexican cheese
*4 tortillas
*Additional chopped scallions and cilantro, for topping if desired

1. Begin making the enchilada sauce. Sautee garlic and a spray of oil in a medium saucepan. Add chipotle chile, chili powder, cumin, broth, tomato sauce, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Set aside until ready to use.
(You could grate your zucchinis while waiting for the sauce to boil)

2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and spray a baking dish with nonstick spray.

3. In a medium nonstick skillet, saute garlic and scallions in olive oil over medium heat for about 3 minutes. Then, add zucchini, salt and pepper to taste, and cook another 4-5 minutes. Remove the pan from heat and mix in 1/2 cup of cheese.

4. Divide the zucchini and cilantro in each tortilla, roll, and place seam side down in baking dish.

5. Top with enchilada sauce and the remaining cheese. Bake for 20 minutes, or until warmed through and the cheese is melted.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Chocolate Bacon Cupcakes to Celebrate 2 years!

It's Cooking with LT's 2nd birthday. Or, as I often hear in the blog world, it's my blogiversary! Although I still don't have down posting regularly, I am impressed with how much I've learned about cooking and baking. Dave and I were joking about how much our weeknight dinners have changed. We used to consider boiling pasta and heating spaghetti sauce to be cooking dinner and sometimes skip to takeout to avoid the hassle. It is the rotation of new dinners with old favorites that keep cooking at home interesting for us. I think the best part of having a food blog is how many other blogs and bloggers I have discovered through it. My neglected cookbooks are still trying to get involved in the kitchen, but it is often the recipes I find through other blogs that I am eager to try.

So in honor of this 2nd birthday/blogiversary, I bring you chocolate bacon cupcakes. This recipe is from The Novice Chef. I attended the Boston Bacon and Beerfest for a friend's birthday back in April, and it was after this event that I searched for a chocolate and bacon recipe that I could replicate. I loved Jessica's take on this sweet and savory combination by using a maple frosting. The perfect opportunity to share these cupcakes came when I invaded a friends cookout with 10 house guests! I think his exact words to me were "If you combine bacon, beer, and chocolate, you could bring 100 people!" I decided to serve the beer on the side of these cupcakes, but I think next time I will revisit the Guiness chocolate cupcake base and consider adding bacon to that. It might just create a guy's ultimate trifecta.

Thanks for reading/following me through this journey. Raise your cupcake to another year of recipes here at Cooking with LT!
For the cupcakes, you will need:
*3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

*3/4 cup hot water
3 cups all-purpose flour

*1 teaspoon baking soda

*1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons coarse salt
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter
2 1/4 cups sugar

*4 large eggs at room temperature

*1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, separated
1 cup sour cream at room temperature

*3/4 cup bacon, cooked and chopped

1. If you have not already done so, cook the bacon. Let it cool before you chop it into bits.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line your muffin tins.

3. Stir together the cocoa and hot water until smooth.

4. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

5. In a small sauce pan over medium-low heat, melt the butter with the sugar, stirring to combine. Once the butter is melted, remove from heat, and pour into a mixing bowl. With an electric mixer on medium-low speed, beat until mixture is cooled ( this should take about 5 minutes) Add eggs to the butter mixture, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated. Add the vanilla extract, then cocoa mixture, and beat until combined. Reduce speed to low.

6. Add the flour mixture in two batches, alternating with the sour cream. After each addition, beat the mixture until just combined. Gently fold in bacon.

7. Divide the batter evenly among lined cups, filling each 3/4 full. Bake for 10 minutes and rotate the pans. Continue baking for about 10 more minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in cupcake centers comes out clean. Allow the cupcakes to cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes. Continue cooling completely on baking racks before frosting.

For the maple frosting, you will need:
*2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature

*2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3-4 cups confectioners’ sugar

*1/3 cup pure maple syrup, plus more for drizzling
1 teaspoon salt

1. Using an electric mixer, cream the butter. Add the vanilla extract, salt, and maple syrup and mix until well combined.

2.Add the sugar, one cup at a time, mixing to combine each addition. Once all the sugar is combined, taste. Add more maple syrup if you'd like. If your frosting is not thick enough, add some more powdered sugar.

3. Frost cupcakes and top with extra bacon.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Roasted Chickpea Tacos

We've started a new weekly tradition in our household: Meatless Mondays. So much of the blog world and beyond has been doing this for a long time, and we finally decided to jump on this trend. Because of my unwavering love for cheese, our Mondays are just meatless. I have some vegan recipes I hope to explore with in the future too, but often like this one, I ended up adding in a dairy product.

Taco nights are one of our favorite dinners, so I took a gamble in trying to incorporate a meatless meal into this rotation. Well, we now have a new regular in the rotation! We both loved these tacos, and they come together in a snap making them a perfect weeknight meal. I even thought about them when we were on vacation, and I made them our first night back at home. This recipe is from Peas and Thank You. I highly recommend that you check out Mama Pea's amazing vegan recipes. It might even convince you to try out Meatless Mondays of your own!

You will need:
*2 teaspoons chili powder
*1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
*1/4 teaspoon onion powder
*1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
*1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
*1 teaspoon sea salt
*Juice of 1 lime
*2 tablespoons water
*14 oz. can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
*8 organic taco shells
*Taco toppings (we used baby spinach, greek yogurt, shredded Mexican cheese on ours)

1. In a large bowl, combine chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, cumin, salt, lime juice and water. Add chickpeas and marinate for at least 30 minutes at room temperature, stirring occasionally.

2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

3. Place chickpeas onto a greased baking sheet. Bake for about 10 minutes, stir, and continue cooking for another 10-15 minutes, until chickpeas are slightly crispy.

4. Prepare taco shells according to package directions. Fill with chickpeas. Top with your choice of toppings.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Key Lime Coconut Cupcakes

We're back from our incredible Mediterranean vacation! I have many dinners and treats to blog from the weeks before we left, so I am hoping to get back into the routine of sharing recipes more frequently. I also took a few food photos while we were away that I will post soon.

I made these cupcakes for a friend's birthday at the end of June. I had to take them on the train into Boston with me to celebrate, and I received many comments! There were many references to cupcake wars (one by the conductor) and many passengers gave me a side eye. Waiting on a street corner for my husband to pick me up outside the station, a couple of passersby asked if I was selling cupcakes. The whole afternoon was a humorous experience. Luckily, my Snapware cupcake carrier is amazing and the cupcakes arrived at our destination safely.

These cupcakes came out moist and tropical. They are a perfect summer treat for a celebration or backyard barbeque. I found this recipe on Koko Cooks who adapted these cupcakes from an Ina Garten recipe.

For the cupcakes, you will need:
*3 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature

*2 cups sugar

*5 eggs

*2 teaspoon vanilla extract

*1 tablespoon key lime zest
1 1/2 tablespoon key lime juice

*3 cups flour

*1 teaspoon baking powder

*½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup light coconut milk
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line two muffin pans with paper liners.

2. Cream the butter and sugar with an electric mixer on high speed until light and fluffy. Switch the mixer to low speed, and add the eggs, one at a time, fully combining before each addition.
Next, add the vanilla, key lime zest, and key lime juice and mix well.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the dry ingredients and the coconut milk to the batter in 3 segments, beginning and ending with the dry mix. Mix until just combined. Stir in the shredded coconut.

4. Scoop batter into cupcake liners, filling to the top. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cupcake's center comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Remove to a baking rack and cool completely.

5. Frost cooled cupcakes with the recipe below.

For the frosting, you will need:
*8oz cream cheese
*1/2 sticks unsalted butter
*1/2 teaspoon vanilla
*1/2 teaspoon almond extract (I might omit this next time)
*confectioner's sugar, about 3 cups or as needed
*2 teaspoons key lime zest
*shredded coconut, optional topping

1. Cream together the cream cheese, butter, and extracts. Gradually add the confectioner's sugar until you get the consistency you are looking for and mix until smooth. 

Frost the cupcakes and sprinkle with the coconut.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Coconut-Macadmia Nut Chicken with Pineapple Salsa

I was contacted by a nice representative at OhNuts! who wanted to give me a sample to use in a recipe. My little blog has never been offered anything, so I was pretty excited. As I started thinking about what to order, I remembered the amount of macadmia nuts we consumed on our honeymoon two years ago, and how many dinners featured this island nut. The nuts arrived quickly, and I immediately sampled them. They came packaged well and tasted delicious. I will certainly order from OhNuts! again.

This coconut chicken recipe was my inspiration as I set out to make this dinner. Chicken tenders were on sale, so I decided to make us a summer salad by topping the chicken with pineapple salsa over mixed greens.

For the chicken, you will need:
*about 12 chicken tenders or 6-8 chicken cutlets
*2 eggs
*1 cup flour
*3/4 cup shredded coconut
*1/2-3/4 cup chopped/crushed roasted macadamia nuts
(I started with 1/2 cup and then added more as needed)
*olive oil for pan frying

1. Preheat oven to 250.

2. Set out three shallow dishes or low bowls. Combine nuts and coconut in one dish, place the flour in another, and lightly whisk the eggs in the final dish.
3. Salt and pepper your chicken. Dredge each chicken piece into the flour, then egg, then nut mixture.
4. Heat olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Pan fry your chicken tenders in batches so that the pan isn't too crowded. The tenders needed about 4 minutes per side. Place cooked chicken on a baking sheet in the oven to stay warm while you prepare the remaining chicken pieces.
5. Serve on a bed of greens topped with the pineapple salsa recipe listed below.

This pineapple salsa recipe is from Confections of a Foodie Bride.
You will need:
*2 cups chopped fresh pineapple, diced
juice of 1 lime
1 handful cilantro, chopped

*1 jalapeno, chopped

1. You can place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse 2 or 3 times. I prefer to chop my pineapple as fine as possible, and mix all ingredients together in a serving bowl. )This also prevents me from having to clean my large food processor!)
2. Chill in the fridge until ready to serve.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Mango-Avocado Salsa

I am a recipe hoarder. Seriously, there are so many items starred in my Google Reader, recipes in Word documents, dog-eared pages in magazines and cookbooks, as well as inspiration from family and friends. I love trying something new. Usually, I sit on a delicious recipe for too long, and then I am a bit frustrated with myself for not trying it sooner. That is the case with this fresh and simple summer salsa recipe. It is yet another hit discovered on Skinny Taste. If you have not checked out Gina's blog yet, then you must. She creates and shares delicious, healthy, and usually simple to make recipes. I think this salsa combination would be a great topping to a chopped chicken salad, or as a highlight in tacos, tostadas, or a burrito bowl. I can guarantee that we'll be eating this again soon!

You will need:
* 1 mango, diced
* 1 avocado, diced
* 1 plum tomato, diced
* 1 garlic clove, minced
* 1 jalepeño, seeded and diced (I used a bit less than 1/2 from rings I had leftover)
* 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
* 1 lime, juiced
* 1/4 cup chopped red onion
* 1 tbsp olive oil
* salt and fresh pepper to taste

1. In a bowl, combine all the ingredients and stir together.
2. Refrigerate the mixture for at least 20 minutes before serving. This will help the flavors blend together.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Mojito Cupcakes

Another successful birthday cupcake. I made these for my friend Matty's 30th celebration. This summery cupcake combines the flavors of lime, rum, and mint just like the drink version it represents. They would be a hit at any cookout or summer party. I find no shame is using boxed cake mixes as the base to jazzed up cupcakes! This shortcut also helps when you are pressed for time. If you are opposed to boxed mixes, you could use your favorite white cupcake recipe and incorporate the additional ingredients. I discovered this adaptation of a Betty Crocker cake recipe on The Rookie Chef.

For the cake, you will need:
* 1 box white cake mix
* 1 cup seltzer, unflavored
* 1/3 cup vegetable oil
*1 teaspoon rum extract
*1/2 teaspoon mint extract
*1/4 cup water
* 3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves (I forgot to buy these, so I used mint extract)
* 1/2 lime, zested
* 3 egg whites

For the glaze, you will need:
* 1/2 cup butter
* 1/2 cup water
* 1 cup granulated sugar
* Rum or 2 teaspoons rum extract (I went heavy here and used 1 tablespoon of Myer's Dark Rum)

1. Preheat oven to 350°F and place liners in 2 cupcake pans.
2. In a mixing bowl, beat cake ingredients on low speed 30 seconds followed by 2 minutes at medium speed minutes, scraping bowl occasionally.
3. Place batter into cupcake liners and bake 25 minutes (or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean) Cool 15 minutes before applying the glaze.
4. While the cupcakes are cooking, melt the butter in a sauce pan. Over high heat, add the rum and remaining ingredients. Once the mixture reaches a boil, reduce heat to medium and continue cooking until the mixture has thickened.
5. Poke the top of the cupcakes a few times with a fork. Pour glaze slowly over cupcakes. Allow glazed cupcakes to cool completely, about one hour.
6. Top with frosting and garnish. I used the frosting recipe below, and I added a small lime wedge along with a paper straw.

I frosted these cupcakes with a recipe from Mrs. Regueiro's Plate.

For the frosting, you will need:
*8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
3 cups powdered sugar
*2 teaspoons dark rum
*1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
*zest of one lime
*1 tablespoon lime juice

1. In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and cream cheese together for about two minutes. Add the sugar one cup at a time, and mix to combine after every addition. Mix in the lime zest, lime juice, and rum until incorporated.
2. Frost your cupcakes!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Peanut Butter Bars

Peanut butter + chocolate = amazing. I enjoy this combination in almost any form. So it should come as no surprise that I loved these treats. They were easy to put together, and a perfect bite-sized treat for a cookout. This recipe was found on Fake Ginger and is from the Tate's Bake Shop Cookbook.

You will need:
*3/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
*3 cups powdered sugar 

*1/2 cup salted butter, softened 

*2 cups smooth peanut butter (I used Peanut Butter & Co. White Chocolate Wonderful)

*2 cups semisweet chocolate chips 
1 tablespoon salted butter

1. Combine the brown sugar, powdered sugar, butter, and peanut butter in a large bowl. Beat with an electric mixer until smooth and blended. Spread into an ungreased baking pan (I used my 13x9 Pyrex). Roll the mixture flat with a rolling pin.

2. Melt the chocolate chips and butter with a double boiler or in a microwave. Spread the chocolate mixture over the peanut butter mixture and cut into squares while the chocolate is still warm and soft.

3. Chill for about 15 minutes; remove the squares from the pan.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Penne with Cauliflower and Pancetta

Rachael Ray's cookbooks were some of the first I owned. I received a copy of 30-Minute Meals right after college when I still lived at home with my parents. While I experimented with her recipes, and I think Rachael was the first television personality who ever inspired me to try more cooking, I couldn't stand her mostly photo-less cookbooks. There's something about seeing the end result of a recipe that is important to me. I was very excited when she came out with Rachael Rays' Look and Cook, and I finally purchased a copy. This recipe jumped out at me when I first skimmed through the recipes and photos. The only change I would make to this recipe is to use less rosemary next time. I love the smell and taste of rosemary, but I do not like the texture of it. I have a weird thing when it comes to textures, but that's a whole other story! I recommend you give this pasta dish a try. You could make a vegetarian version of this dish by omitting the pancetta and replacing the chicken stock with a veggie stock. I also found a slightly different version of this recipe online that added spinach or watercress. Check out more of Rachael's recipes on Saturdays with Rachael Ray.

You will need:
*salt and pepper
*1 pound whole wheat penne pasta
(As you can see, I did not use penne. Any shape will do. I enjoyed rotini)
*1 head cauliflower
*2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
*1/4 pound pancetta, finely diced
*1 head cauliflower
*1 onion, finely chopped
*3 large cloves garlic, chopped
*2-3 sprigs rosemary, finely chopped (about 2 tablespoons)
*Freshly grated nutmeg (I used ground nutmeg)
*1/2 cup white wine
*1 cup chicken stock
*1 cup grated extra-sharp white cheddar cheese

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil; salt the water, add the pasta, and cook until al dente. Drain.

2. While your pasta is cooking, trim the cauliflower and chop it into small florets.

3. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta, if using, and cook until the fat renders(about 2 minutes). Stir in the onion, garlic, rosemary, and cauliflower; season with salt, pepper and a little nutmeg. Cook covered, stirring occasionally, for about 7 minutes or until cauliflower is just about tender.

4. Add the wine and cook uncovered until slightly reduced, about 1 minute. Add the stock and reduce the heat. Keep covered until the pasta is finished cooking.

5. Once the pasta is drained, toss with the cauliflower pan and add the cheese. Adjust any seasonings to taste. (Add spinach or watercress topping if desired. I am going to try that next time)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Chocolate Cupcakes with Chambord Ganache Frosting

I was pretty consistent with keeping the cupcake trend going for my friend's birthdays. This month I've slacked a bit due to more demands at school, but I promise that I'll get back at it soon! When I spotted this cupcake recipe on My Baking Addiction, I filed it away for my friend Meghan's birthday. This were rich and delicious, and I think I've discovered a go-to chocolate cupcake recipe. I loved the ganache topping on these and the subtle hint of raspberry that the Chambord provided balanced the heavy chocolate texture. Everyone seemed to enjoy these as evidenced by our ability to pawn off any leftovers!

For the cupcakes, you will need:
*1 3/4 cups flour

*2 cups sugar

*3/4 cups cocoa powder

*2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk, shaken

*1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs, at room temperature

*2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

*1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee (I used a dark espresso blend)

For the frosting, you will need:
*18 ounces semi sweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped pieces or chips
1 ½ cups heavy cream

*4 tablespoons Chambord

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, and line two standard muffin tins with cupcake wrappers.

2. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla.

3. With the mixer on low speed, slowly incorporate the mix of dry ingredients. Add the coffee and stir to combine. 

4. Place the in the muffin tins until each is about 2/3 full. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then remove to a cooling rack and cool completely before frosting.

5. Place chocolate in a large heat safe mixing bowl.

6. Heat heavy cream over medium heat until it just begins to boil. STAY at the stove to ensure that the cream does not boil over.

7. Immediately pour the hot cream over chocolate; let sit for five minutes.

8. Begin stirring or whisking the cream starting in the center of the bowl and working your way out. Continue until the cream and chocolate are combined. Allow your ganache to cool for 15 minutes before you add the Chambord.

9. Allow ganache to cool completely and set up before frosting the cupcakes. This should take about two hours at room temperature, or you could place the bowl into the refrigerator for about an hour. If you use the fridge, be sure to stir the ganache every 10-15 minutes so that it does not get too firm.

10. Top the cupcakes with the ganache through a tipped piping bag.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Basil Chicken in Coconut Curry Sauce

My cookbooks are neglected. We haven't found an area in the kitchen to keep some, so they remain forgotten in our guest room. My Google Reader is my go-to source for new recipes, and I love when I'm reminded of a cookbook I already own. This recipe was posted on Proceed with Caution, and it comes from the Better Homes and Gardens Bridal Edition Cookbook. I am going to try and cook more from my cookbooks this summer, so stay tuned!

You will need:
*2 teaspoons curry powder
*1/2 teaspoon black pepper
*1/2 teaspoon salt
*1/4 teaspoon chili powder
*4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
*1 tablespoon olive oil
*1 cup chopped red onion
*2 jalapenos, seeded and finely chopped (omitted because I forgot to buy them!)
*5 cloves garlic, minced or grated
*1 can light coconut milk (14 oz)
*1 tablespoon cornstarch
*3 tablespoons fresh basil, cut into ribbons
*1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
*3 cups cooked rice

1. Combine curry powder, black pepper, 1/4 teaspoon of the salt, and the chili powder into a medium bowl. Cut raw chicken into 1-inch pieces and add to spice mixture in bowl tossing to coat. Cover and chill for 2 hours.

2. Heat oil into a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add half of the chicken. Cook and stir for 4 to 6 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink. Remove from pan. Repeat with remaining chicken.

3. Add onion, jalapeno peppers, and garlic to pan. Cook and stir until tender but still crisp-about 8 minutes.

4. Stir together coconut milk, cornstarch, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt until smooth. Carefully add to the hot pan with the onion mixture. Cook and stir until slightly thickened and bubbly.

5. Return chicken to pan. Stir in basil and ginger. Cook and stir about 2 minutes or until heated through. Serve over hot rice.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Chicken Parm with Pepperoni

I think I could eat Italian-inspired food every day. I work in an Italian restaurant, and I never tire of anything with cheese and sauce. From pizza to pasta, the possibilities are endless. Eat, Live, Run posted this delicious Food and Wine recipe a few months ago. I figured chicken smothered in cheese was bad enough for me, so I hesitated to add pepperoni. Well, I have no regrets as this is now my go-to chicken parmesan recipe. Dave refers to it as "pizza chicken." I served this with zucchini (which I love in tomato sauce) instead of pasta. I highly recommend giving this recipe a try.

You will need:
*4 chicken cutlets, or 2 butterflied chicken breasts
*2 cups panko breadcrumbs
*2 eggs
*1/2 cup flour
*1/4 cup milk
*1 cup shredded mozzarella
*about 2 oz. pepperoni (I figured about 12 slices)
*1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
*1 large jar of your favorite tomato sauce
*1/4 cup cooking oil (canola is probably best, I used vegetable because that's all I had)
*salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.

2. In a shallow bowl of rimmed plate, combine the eggs and milk. In another, place the panko. And in the final dish, spread the flour.

3. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Dunk one chicken cutlet at a time into the eggs/milk, followed by the panko and then the flour. Repeat this dipping process until all chicken pieces are battered.

4. Heat your oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken breasts and lightly fry until golden and cooked through. Drain the chicken on paper towels before placing into a greased casserole dish. Cover the chicken with tomato sauce, Parmesan, and mozzarella. Place the pepperoni on top of the cheese covered chicken. Bake for 15 minutes.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Lemon Kale Pasta

I have developed a love for kale. I spotted this recipe on Annie's Eats, and I knew it was something I'd enjoy. Dave will eat things made with kale, but he tires of it quickly, so I need to spread out my recipes featuring this leafy green. This dish would make a perfect summer side hot or chilled. We used it as a main dish, and I think I would pair it with some more protein next time.

For the dressing, you will need:

*2 cloves garlic, minced
*1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided

*1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

*5-6 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

*juice of 2 lemons
*1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes

*ground black pepper, to taste

For the pasta dish, you will need:
1 lb. whole grain pasta
1 bunch kale, stems removed, cut into 1/2 ribbon strips (don't forget to rinse and dry first!)
lemon slices and additional Parmesan, for serving if desired

Bring a large pot of water to boil for the pasta. Once the water reaches a rolling boil, cook pasta according to the package directions.

2. While waiting for the water to boil, make the dressing. Sprinkle the minced garlic with 1/4 teaspoon of the kosher salt and smash this combination into a paste with a fork. Place the garlic paste in a small bowl and whisk to combine the Parmesan, olive oil, lemon juice, red pepper flakes, and black pepper.

3. Place the kale ribbons in a large bowl and toss with the dressing to coat. When the pasta is finished, drain, and allow it to cool for 2 minutes.

4. Toss the pasta with the dressed kale until well coated. Serve with additional Parmesan cheese and lemon slices.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Goat Cheese, Asparagus, and Sausage Pasta

I have many recipes starred in my Google Reader and/or saved on my computer. Sometimes, I find it overwhelming as I try to do my weekly menu plans and cycle through so many choices. We strive to cook at least one new dinner every week, and I always have plenty of choices from this ever expanding recipe collection. This is a recipe from Pink Parsley that I had saved almost a year ago. It is originally from the Everyday Food: Fresh Flavor Fast cookbook. With roasted asparagus and goat cheese, why did we wait so long? This was delicious!

You will need:
*2 bunches of asparagus (about 2 pounds), woody ends removed
*olive oil
*3 tablespoons unsalted butter cut into small pieces
*kosher salt
*ground black pepper
*4 links chicken sausage-I used Italian
*13 oz. of a small-shaped pasta-such as penne, shells, rotini (We like whole grain Barilla)
*4 oz. fresh goat cheese, softened
*2 Tablespoons Parmesan cheese
*I also added a touch of garlic powder

1. Preheat oven to 450. Toss or spray asparagus with olive oil and place them on a baking sheet. Top with salt and pepper. Slice chicken sausage into 1-inch rounds and add to the baking sheet alongside the asparagus. Roast until tender, tossing the asparagus and turning the sausage, after about 10-15 minutes. Slice asparagus into 2-inch pieces once it is roasted.

2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add salt to the boiling water, and cook the pasta until al dente. Reserve 1 1/2 cups of the cooking water; drain the pasta.

3. Whisk together the softened goat cheese, butter pieces, Parmesan cheese, and 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder; whisk until smooth.

4. Return the pasta to the pot, and toss with the goat-cheese mixture, asparagus, and chicken sausage. Add pasta water a few tablespoons at a time until a thin sauce coats the pasta. You're ready to serve!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Lemon Ricotta Cookies

These cookies are a light tasting treat that aren't as citrus-tasting as I thought they'd be. With extra ricotta hanging around, I was in search of a way to use it up and create a brunch sweet. I found this adapated Giada recipe on Two Peas and Their Pod, and it was perfect. I think these cookies would be a fabulous addition to any Easter themed meal. This recipe yields a lot of cookies, but after bringing them to two brunch events, I did not have many leftovers.

For the cookies, you will need:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

*1 teaspoon baking powder 

*1 teaspoon salt

*1 stick unsalted butter, softened

*2 cups sugar

*2 eggs

*1 (15-ounce) container whole milk ricotta cheese
3 tablespoons lemon juice

*1 lemon, zested

For the glaze, you will need: 

*1 1/2 cups powdered sugar 

*3 tablespoons lemon juice 

*1 lemon, zested

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

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

3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine butter and sugar and beat until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes) Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until incorporated. Next, mix in the ricotta cheese, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Stir in the dry ingredients, and beat just until combined.

4. Line 2 baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper. Using a cookie or icecream scoop, spoon the dough onto the baking sheets. Be sure to leave some space because the cookies do spread out quite a bit. Bake for 15 minutes or until the cookies are slightly golden at the edges. Remove from the oven and let the cookies rest on the baking sheet for 20 minutes.

5. To make the glaze, combine the powdered sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest in a small bowl; stir until smooth. Spoon about 1/2-teaspoon of the glaze onto each cookie and use the back of the spoon to gently spread. Let the glaze harden for about 2 hours before storing or serving.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Baked Donuts

I finally caved and bought a donut pan. I had been saving delicious baked donut recipes, so when I needed to order some things from Crate and Barrel, I added the Wilton donut pans to my order. The first recipe I tried came from Prevention RD. These were a good, lighter donut option that I served at mom's birthday brunch. They were tasty, but they didn't scream "donut" to me. I do realize this is most likely because they weren't fried! I am going to continue to try my variety of donut recipes to find a favorite.

It should be noted that I live in the land of Dunkin Donuts. There is one almost every other mile around here. Therefore, I am going with the spelling d-o-n-u-t for the blog.

You will need:
*1 cup all-purpose flour

*1/3 cup sugar

*3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda

*1/4 tsp salt
1 egg
1 small-single-serving container Chobani vanilla Greek yogurt
*1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla extract

*2 tbsp semi-sweet chocolate morsels

1. Preheat oven to 400 F.

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

3. In a separate bowl, combine egg, yogurt, canola oil, lemon juice, and vanilla extract. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry, mixing until just combined.

4. Spray the donut pan with nonstick cooking spray; divide the chocolate morsels in the bottom of each of the donut tube pans. Divide batter among pans. Place the batter only about half full because these will rise.

5. Bake for 10 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pans to wire rack.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Escarole and Squash Lazy Lasagna

This Rachael Ray recipe was fabulous! With all the recent attention I've given to kale, I forgot how much I enjoy escarole in dishes. This is a recipe that uses many pots and pans, but the result is worth it. I felt like it gave us a hearty veggie serving, and I used skim milk to lighten the creamy sauce. We are planning on enjoying this again while it still feels like winter around here. This was enough food for days. We enjoyed it for dinner, a few lunches, and another leftover dinner. It would be a great dish to serve to company on a chilly night.
You will need:
*1 medium butternut squash, peeled and chopped into 1-inch pieces
*2 tablespoons olive oil with more for drizzling
*salt and pepper
*1 pound ruffle-edge lasagna noodles, broken into irregular shapes
*4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
*1 medium head escarole, chopped
*1 cup chicken stock
*1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese (I prefer part-skim)
*small handful of sage leaves, thinly sliced
*1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
*2 tablespoons butter
*2 tablespoons flour
*2 cups milk (I used skim)
*Freshly grated nutmeg (I used ground)
*1 1/2 cups Italian Fontina or Gruyère cheese (I used Gruyère)

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Arrange the squash on a baking sheet and lightly dress with a drizzle of olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast for 35-45 minutes. Squash should be golden at edges and tender.

2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil and under-cook pasta by about 2 minutes. While the water comes to a boil, heat about 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat in a saute pan. Add garlic and stir a minute then add escarole and wilt. Season with a little salt and pepper, and add stock. Keep at a gentle simmer until ready to use.

3. In a small bowl, stir together ricotta, sage, salt, pepper and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

4. In a saucepot, melt butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour; cook a minute or so then whisk in milk. Increase the heat a bit and season sauce with salt, pepper, and a little freshly grated nutmeg. Let sauce thicken to coat the back of a spoon then taste to adjust seasonings.

5. Drain lasagna noodles and add them back to hot pot. Stir in ricotta cheese mixture, then fold in roasted squash and escarole. Transfer to a casserole dish and pour the milk sauce evenly over the top. Cover with scant layer of Fontina or Gruyère cheese, and place in the hot oven on center rack. Switch oven to broil and leave casserole in oven until lasagna is brown and bubbly all over, about 4 minutes.

*Find more Rachael Ray recipes on Saturdays with Rachael Ray hosted by Taste and Tell.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Bacon Pierogi Bake

Frozen pierogies are a staple in this house. We sometimes saute them with garlic for lunch, or make a simple dinner by topping them with tomato sauce. As soon as I saw this recipe in December's issue of Cooking Light, I knew I was going to love it. This dinner has popped up on a variety of blogs these past few months, and every post was a reminder that I wanted to make it. Well we finally tried it, and it did not disappoint! When we make this again, I think it would be great with spinach added in. So here's another recipe that supports the bacon-makes-it-better motto.

You will need:
*1 (16 oz) package frozen potato and onion pierogies
*cooking spray (I use my Misto)
*2 center-cut bacon slices, chopped
*2 garlic cloves, minced
*3 oz. reduced-fat cream cheese
*1/2 cup lower-sodium chicken broth
*1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
*1/4 cup thinly diagonally sliced scallions
*1/4 cup chopped seeded plum tomato (omitted this time)
*1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 400. Spread the pierogies in a 11 x 7-inch glass baking dish coated with cooking spray.

2. Cook bacon in a saucepan over medium heat until crisp; remove from pan. Set aside.

3. Add garlic to drippings in pan and cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add cream cheese to pan, and cook for 1 minute or until cream cheese begins to melt, stirring frequently. Gradually add chicken broth , stirring with a whisk until smooth.

4. Pour the cream cheese mixture evenly over pierogies. Top evenly with cheddar cheese. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes, or until bubbly and thoroughly heated. Remove from oven, and sprinkle with bacon, green onions, tomato, and pepper.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Baked Oatmeal

I'm surprised that I have never blogged this recipe. We've enjoyed it a few times. It is fabulous on it's own or mixed into yogurt. The pan keeps well in the fridge, so sometimes I make it on a weekend for great breakfasts throughout the week. This oatmeal was also popular at the brunch I held for my Mom's birthday. I found this recipe posted on The Mess Pot last year. This comes together easily, and aside from the cranberries, it used staples that we already had on hand.

You will need:
*3 cups old-fashioned oats
*1 cup brown sugar
*2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
*2 teaspoons baking powder
*1 teaspoon salt
*1 cup milk
*2 eggs
*1/2 cup melted butter
*2 teaspoons vanilla extract
*3/4 cup dried cranberries


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a large bowl, mix together oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt. Beat in milk, eggs, melted butter, and vanilla extract until combined. Stir in dried cranberries.

3. Spread into a 9x13 inch baking dish, and bake for 40 minutes.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Irish Soda Bread

Happy St. Patrick's Day! It's a beautiful spring day here, and this is exactly how I like to celebrate. Some baking, time outside, and enjoying the anticipation of many spring days to come. On my teaching schedule, St. Patrick's Day always falls over my March break. This allows for even more celebrating! Here's a basic, simple Irish Soda bread recipe that I found on The Confused Homemaker. It does not add in raisins as many of the traditional recipes do, so I knew Dave would eat this version.

You will need:
*4 cups all purpose flour
*1 teaspoon salt
*1 teaspoon baking soda
*2 cups buttermilk
*1/2 cup butter
*2 tablespoons sugar

1. Preheat oven to 425.

2. Sift all dry ingredients together. Create a little circle in the center of them and add softened butter & the buttermilk. Mix together quickly (It will look like a biscuit dough) Kneed it for about a minute, not any longer.

3. Shape into a round cake on a floured sheet pan, or shape it into a cake pan. Carve a cross on the top. Bake for 40 minutes. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Crockpot Corned Beef and Cabbage

Corned beef and cabbage, a staple St. Patrick's Day dinner growing up. Many boiled or roasted dinners happened on Sundays, and my Grandmother always said we had some Irish in us. My father set out to recreate many of these meals during my childhood. I spotted this recipe in the Food Network Magazine March 2010 issue and knew I had to try it out. We actually made this last year on St. Patrick's Day. I liked that this meal cooked in the crockpot over time making it tender and ready by dinner time. It didn't convert me to loving boiled dinners, but it was much better than I anticipated! If you like a traditional boiled dinner, I suggest you give this slow-cooker method a try.

You will need:
*4 pounds lean raw corned beef brisket
*3 tablespoons pickling spice (often included with brisket)
*1 medium rutabaga, halved and cut into wedges
*1 pound large carrots, cut into 3-inch pieces
*1 1/4 pounds large fingerling potatoes
*1 leek, white and light-green parts only, cut into 3-inch pieces
*4-5 cups hot water
*1/2 head Savoy cabbage, cut into wedges
*1/3 cup horseradish, drained
*1/3 cup creme fraiche or sour cream

1. Place the corned beef in the bottom of your slow cooker and scatter the pickling spices on top. In the following order, layer the rutabaga, carrots, potatoes and leek around and over the beef. Add enough 4-5 cups of hot water to cover the meat by at least 1 inch. Cover the slow cooker and cook on high, 7 to 8 hours.

2. After the 7-8 hours, remove the meat and vegetables from the slow cooker and keep warm. Put the cabbage in a microwave-safe dish with 2 cups cooking liquid from the slow cooker. Cover and microwave for about 8 to 10 minutes, or until tender. Meanwhile, boil another cup of cooking liquid in a small skillet for about 10 minutes, or until it's reduced by half. Mix with the horseradish and creme fraeche in a small bowl.

3. Slice the corned beef and serve with the vegetable, cabbage, and horseradish sauce.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Mole-Style Pork Chops

I have another quick, easy, and successful pork chop recipe to share with you. This appeared in my inbox as a "Dinner Tonight" e-mail from My Recipes -an older Cooking Light recipe. The ingredients were stocked in our kitchen, so we gave this recipe a try shortly after receiving it. These are perfect protein for a busy weeknight dinner. The spices provide a nice flavor and the cooking instructions on the recipe were accurate for me.

You will need:
*1 tablespoon brown sugar
*1 teaspoon smoked paprika
*1 teaspoon ground cumin
*1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
*1 teaspoon ground chipotle chile peppers (omitted because we didn't have them)
*1/2 teaspoon salt
*4 pork chops, 1/2 inch thick (I used boneless)
*Cooking spray (I used my misto)

1. Heat a grill pan or skillet over medium heat.

2. Combine first 6 ingredients and rub evenly over both sides of pork. Lightly coat pork with cooking spray.

3. Place pork on the heated pan. Cover and grill 3 minutes on each side or until done. Let stand 3 minutes before serving.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Roasted Chickpeas

So this may not be much of a recipe, but I had never thought of roasting chickpeas until I saw it on Good Thymes and Good Food. These make a great snack, and Dave really enjoyed them. I also liked that these came together quick and easy. I think they'd make a great snack or appetizer to munch on when you have company coming over, or they could be a side if you're looking for a healthier alternative to chips. You could roast chickpeas with any spice combination that you prefer.

You will need:
*1 15 oz. can chickpeas, drained, rinsed, and dried
*1 tablespoon olive oil (I just used my Misto)
*Kosher salt
*3/4 tsp. garlic powder
*pinch cayenne pepper, or more if you want more spice

1. Heat the oven to 450 degrees.
2. Toss the chickpeas with olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper. Spread the coated peas into a flat layer on a baking sheet.
3. Bake in oven for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, shake pan to move chickpeas around.
4. Continue to bake for another 15 minutes, checking after every 5 minutes to make sure they do not burn. (Mine were finished just under the total time of 30 minutes)
5. Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes before eating.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Surprise Chocolate Chip Cookies

I figured I should share Dave's Valentine treat before the end of February. Someday I will get better about sharing things closer to when I make them. As soon as Picky Palate posted this recipe, I knew Dave would love it. It also seemed great to keep around since I am not a huge cookie fan. Well, I was mistaken. These cookies were amazing. The chocolate chip cookie stayed a bit softer, which is the way I like them. Thank goodness I halved the recipe so that we only had a dozen of these around. A few were passed on to friends, and Dave happily took one in his lunch all week. At first, everyone thought I made a giant chocolate chip cookie. They were all surprised to find an oreo in the middle! This is why I was referring to them as "Surprise Chocolate Chip Cookies."

Here's what I did to yield 12 cookies. Visit the original recipe in order to make 24.

You will need:
*1 sticks softened butter
*1/4 cup and 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
*1/2 cup granulated sugar
*1 large eggs
*1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
*1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
*1/2 teaspoon salt
*1/2 teaspoon baking soda
*5 oz. chocolate chips
*12 Oreo cookies

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugars until well combined. Add in eggs and vanilla until well combined.

2. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, salt and baking soda. Slowly add this mixture to the wet ingredients until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.

3. Take a scoop of cookie dough and place on top of an Oreo cookie. Take another scoop of dough and place on bottom of Oreo Cookie. Seal edges together by pressing and cupping in hand until Oreo Cookie is enclosed with dough. Place onto a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet and bake cookies 9-13 minutes or until cookies are baked to your liking. (Mine were large, and they needed the full 13 minutes)

4. Let the cookies cool on the pans for 5 minutes before transferring to cooling rack.