Thursday, October 8, 2009

crispy southwest chicken burritos

We love us some Mexican food in our house and I love any kind of update that we can give to our usual repertoire. These are so yum and so easy. I love the nicely spiced rice and the fresh ingredients that really brighten things up. It can very easily be doubled to feed a bigger crowd or to have leftovers. Also, you totally have to use raw tortillas - they will make anything you cook taste like it came from a restaurant.
Crispy Southwest Chicken Burritos
adapted from My Kitchen Cafe
Makes 6 burritos
1 cup cooked rice, warm or at room temperature
1 cup cooked, shredded chicken (I used a rotisserie chicken on this day but have also made it with leftovers.)
1 green onion, finely sliced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Juice of 1 lime
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. garlic salt
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Reduced -fat sour cream
6 burrito-sized tortillas
*You could also add a 15 ounce can of drained and rinsed black beans to the rice mixture. I didn't do that this time.
Mix rice together with chili powder, cumin and garlic salt. Add remaining ingredients except for cheese and sour cream. Sprinkle cheese in the middle of the tortillas and dot with about 1-2 tbsp. of sour cream, then arrange chicken and rice mixture down the center of each tortilla. (If you're using raw tortillas, you will have just heated them on both sides in a skillet or on a griddle before filling them with the mixture.) Fold in 2 sides of the tortilla to enclose filling and roll up into a burrito. Spray the tortillas all over with cooking spray.
Heat a griddle over medium heat. Arrange 2 burritos seam-side down on griddle and cook until golden brown and crisp, about 2-3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and repeat with remaining burritos.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

baked manicotti and make-ahead garlic bread

I'm having a bit of a dilemma. When you get a recipe from a recipe blog and then you make it, can you then post it on your own recipe blog? I was thinking the answer was no but then my friend Camie said the answer is yes. So here it is. Also, is the picture looking yummy or like a pile of glop?
It most definitely doesn't taste like a pile of glop. This manicotti is so fresh and delicious tasting. I think you will love it. It did take me a bit of prep (you could definitely cut down on prep by using your favorite store-bought marinara but I think this one was worth making for sure!) but I did it all in the morning and then put in the fridge. When it was time for dinner all I did was pop it in the oven and let it do it's thing. Do you ever do that? It makes things so much less stressful at the dinner-making hour, doesn't it?
Baked Manicotti
Tomato Sauce
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, in juice
1-28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
3 medium cloves garlic, finely minced or pressed (use fresh! It makes a HUGE difference.)
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. dried basil
Cheese Filling and Pasta
3 cups cottage cheese, pureed in a blender (I do this instead of ricotta cheese because I don't like it as well. I think this is really yummy but if you like ricotta use it instead.)
2 cups grated Parmesan cheese
2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley leaves
2 tsp. chopped fresh basil
16 no-boil lasagna noodles (Barilla)
Heat oven to 375.
Heat oil, garlic and pepper flakes in large saucepan over medium heat until fragrant but not brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, basil and 1/2 tsp. salt and simmer until thickened slightly, about 15 minutes.
In a medium bowl, combine cottage cheese (0r ricotta), 1 cup Parmesan cheese, mozzarella cheese, eggs, salt, pepper and herbs; set aside.
To assemble, pour 1 inch boiling water into 13 by 9-inch baking dish, then add noodles one at a time. Let noodles soak until pliable, about 5 minutes. I didn't have any problems with my noodles sticking but if you do, separate them with a sharp knife. Remove the noodles from the water with tongs and place them in a single layer on sheets of foil. Discard water in baking dish and dry it.
Give the dish a little dust of cooking spray. Spread bottom of dish evenly with 1 1/2 cups sauce. Using a soup spoon, spread 1/4 cup cheese mixture onto bottom three-quarters of each noodle (with short side facing you), leaving top quarter of noodle exposed. Roll into tube shape and arrange in baking dish seam side down. You'll be able to fit 8 in each row so all 16 will fit. Top evenly with remaining sauce making sure all the pasta is covered.
Cover manicotti with aluminum foil. Bake until bubbling, about 40 minutes, then remove foil. Sprinkle manicotti evenly with remaining 1 cup Parmesan. Bake until cheese is browned and bubbly, 6-7 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit for 15 minutes before serving. For reals.
*The manicotti can be prepared right up until the baking step then covered with a sheet of parchment paper, wrapped in aluminum foil and refrigerated up to 3 days or frozen for up to 1 month. If frozen, thaw the manicotti in the fridge for 1 to 2 days. To bake, remove parchment, replace foil and increase baking time to 1 to 1 1/4 hours.
Make-Ahead Crispy, Buttery Garlic Bread
12 tbsp. (yikes!) butter, softened
4 garlic cloves, very finely minced or pressed
1/4 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
12 slices Italian or French bread
Using a fork, beat butter, garlic, sugar, salt and pepper in small bowl until combined. Spread butter mixture evenly over both sides of bread.
Freeze the slices on a large baking sheet until firm, about 15 minutes. After they are firm, transfer the slices to a freezer ziplock bag and freeze for up to one month.
To serve, preheat oven to 425 degrees. Arrange bread on rimmed baking sheet and bake until golden brown on the first side, about 10 minutes. Flip and bake until golden brown on the second side, 6-7 minutes more.
*To serve bread immediately instead of freezing, bake buttered bread on rimmed baking sheet at 425 degrees for 8 minutes then flip and bake 5 more minutes on the second side.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

chicken fettuccine alfredo

Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo
(but it's perfectly acceptable to make sans chicken)
10oz. to 1 lb. fettuccine noodles
2 grilled chicken breasts (making them the way we did in the previous post makes it extra delicious but you can use any leftover chicken you like)
3-4 tbsp. butter
3/4 cup half and half
1 tbsp. flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
3/4 -1 cup Parmesan cheese (use the good stuff you grate yourself)
Have your hubby grill the chicken while you get started. Cook and drain pasta according to package. Start sauce with about 7 minutes left on pasta cook time. Melt butter in large saucepan over medium-high heat. In a glass measuring cup, whisk half and half, flour, salt and pepper until smooth. Stir into butter. Whisking constantly, heat to boiling and boil for one minute. Remove from heat. Return drained pasta to pot; stir in sauce. After pasta is well-coated, stir in cheese until melted. Sprinkle with extra pepper and a dash of nutmeg, if desired.
I promise it is worth the butter, cheese and half and half. Just don't eat it every day.

Monday, September 7, 2009

chicken with peaches and arugula

This turned out to be our new summer fave. I was initially nervous to try grilling chicken without a traditional marinade but it is amazing. Love the combination of flavors and textures!
Chicken with Peaches and Arugula
adapted from Real Simple Magazine

4 6 oz. chicken breasts

good olive oil

salt and pepper

2 medium red onions, sliced into thick rounds

2-3 peaches, diced

1 bunch arugula (4 cups)

blue cheese

candied walnuts (optional)

balsamic vinaigrette dressing

Put chicken breasts in a bag with a few tablespoons of olive oil and about 1/2 tsp. to 1 tsp. each of salt and pepper. Let it sit while the grill is heating up. Grill chicken and onions until chicken is cooked through and the onions are tender.

Toss the arugula with the peaches, blue cheese, and walnuts with the dressing. Serve with onions and chicken.

Homemade Balsamic Vinaigrette (adapted from Everday Food)

3/4 cup olive oil

1/8 cup white wine vinegar

1/8 cup balsamic vinegar (can use all balsamic but I like to cut the bite a little)

salt and pepper to taste

Shake all together in a jar with a tight-fitting lid or whisk in medium bowl.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Best (and Easiest) Lasagna

Okay, so this is a pretty lame picture but I took it before we got our new camera so it can't be helped. I know the cheese looks sort of burned and nasty looking but I promise it's not. This particular time I probably cooked it for about 5 minutes too long but it was still unbelievably delicious.

I love lasagna but think it's a pain in the butt. I also don't love ricotta cheese and so those types of recipes don't appeal to me. When I saw this recipe in Wondertime magazine, I knew it was for me. I've since made it quite a few times, the first being when my mom and dad came for Christmas.

The Best Lasagna
1 lb. ground beef or ground turkey (or cooked chicken, Italian sausage etc.)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried oregano
26 to 28 oz. (about 3 cups) pasta sauce - I use totally cheapo Hunt's Traditional in a can. I know it sounds weird but it is seriously the best store-bought sauce. I think everything else is too sweet. Try it - you won't be disappointed.
2 tbsp. red wine (optional)
1 cup chicken stock
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 tbsp. white wine (optional)
3 cups freshly grated mozzarella
6 to 8 no-boil lasagna noodles
2 cups cooked, well-drained broccoli, spinach, peas or other vegetables - Optional. I don't add this stuff because I like my lasagna all plain.
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano

Heat oven to 400. Grease a 9-by-13-inch pan. Thoroughly cook the ground beef, garlic, and herbs in a large skillet. Stir in pasta sauce and bring to a simmer for about 2 minutes. Season to taste and add the red wine, if using. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring chicken stock to a boil. Add cream cheese, turn heat to low, and whisk until smooth, about 6 minutes. Season to taste and add the white wine, if using.

Spoon half the meat sauce into the pan as evenly as possible. Sprinkle 1 cup grated mozzarella over the meat mixture. Top with 3 or 4 lasagna noodles. If using vegetable, toss them evenly over the noodles.

Pour the cream cheese sauce over the noodles and cover with another cup of grated mozzarella. Arrange 3 or 4 lasagna noodles over the cheese, then spoon remaining meat mixture over noodles as evenly as possible. Top with the rest of the mozzarella and the grated parmesan. Bake until brown and bubbling, 35 to 45 minutes. Let cool for 10 to 15 minutes before you cut it. Seriously. It will be too gloppy and you'll go crazy.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Dad's Pico de Gallo

I am totally obsessed with my dad's pico de gallo. He makes it all the time when I go home to visit in the summer to use up the tomatoes he plants in his yard. I had yet to make it myself but since joining a produce co-op I have had so many tomatoes that I was trying to think of other ways to use them. Thus I have been making this all the time. The chopping is not my favorite but after making it more often, I have gotten much quicker. I eat the entire batch myself - I swear! I hate sharing it but I will definitely share the recipe with you so you can make it yourself.
Dad's Pico
5 roma (or any other) tomatoes, seeded, small dice
1 small yellow or white onion or 1/2 a large one, small dice
1 jalepeno chile, seeds and membrane removed, ultra small dice
1-2 cups cilantro, roughly chopped (I like tons but you can add what you like)
2 tsp. salt (start with this and add more if you need to)
3 tbsp. sugar
1/2 cup white vinegar
Combine diced vegetables in a bowl; sprinkle with salt and sugar. Stir in vinegar and stir until sugar and salt dissolve. Taste and adjust as needed. Serve with tortilla chips. Tostitos Bite Size Rounds or Scoops are my personal fave.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Slow-Cooker Pork Tacos

I have been obsessed with trying new pork recipes ever since we had these pulled pork sandwiches at my sister Erica's. I totally loved them and have never had much pork in the past, so I've gotten really curious about pork recipes. I love any shredded meat in tacos and burritos and when I saw these slow-cooker pork tacos, I knew they were a must try. The Food Network has put out a new magazine and I found the recipe there. I picked up the Feb./March edition at the grocery store and it has some tasty looking things.

This is my adaption of the recipe - didn't change too much except for the original recipe called for ancho chilies and pasilla chilies. My grocery store didn't have pasillas so I didn't get those. I also got thinking that the 6 chilies called for were too many chilies. There are also chipotles in adobo in the recipe so I knew the meat would have plenty of flavor. I opted for only one ancho chile and I think it's perfect.

Slow-Cooker Pork Tacos
Food Network Magazine (with adaptions)

1 whole ancho chile (any large, mild chile would work - I used a poblano before too)
4 cloves peeled garlic
2 to 3 chipotles in adobo sauce (I used 2 - you could also use just one)
1/2 medium onion, roughly chopped
3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp. honey
1 tbsp. cider vinegar
Kosher salt
2 tsp. dried oregano
3 1/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
4 lbs. boneless pork shoulder (I used a pork sirloin roast)
Freshly ground pepper
2 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick
Corn tortillas, warmed, for serving (We made burritos with yummy uncooked flour tortillas!)
Toppings such as cilantro, sour cream, cheese, avocado, lettuce, etc.

Put the chile and garlic on a paper plate and microwave about 45 seconds until soft and pliable. Stem and seed the chile; cut into big chunks. Transfer garlic and chile to a blender. Add the chipotles, onion, 2 tbsp. olive oil, honey, vinegar, 1 tbsp. salt and the oregano to the blender; puree until smooth.

Heat the remaining oil in a large skillet over high heat; add the chile sauce and fry, stirring, until thick and fragrant, about 8 minutes. Pour in the broth and reduce until slightly thickened.

Season the pork all over with salt and pepper and transfer to a large slow cooker. Add the bay leaves and cinnamon stick, then pour in the sauce. Cover and cook on high until the meat is tender, about 5 hours. You can play with this a little - the first time I made it I cooked it on low for probably 8 hours. The second time I cooked it for about 4 hours on high and 2 hours on low.

Discard the bay leaves and cinnamon stick. Shred the pork with 2 forks; season with salt and pepper. Serve the shredded pork in the tortillas, along with the toppings.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Korean BBQ at Home

Inspired by my husband's recent business trip to Korea, I decided to try my hand at some Korean food. Also, I was curious to see how this Korean steak compared to my family's tried and true recipe. It's called Korean-style Bulgogi (Jon and Kate + 8, anyone?). This sauce was definitely spicier which was yummy (I even cut down on the spice that the recipe called for - good thing!) and the meat had a good flavor even though it was not marinated. Usually, we'll never grill anything unless it's marinated but this sauce really coated the meat. I also like how the scallions were added at the end instead of marinating with the meat so they were wilty. Other than that, I think I like this recipe from Cuisine at Home and my original recipe equally as well - both yummy, just different.
adapted from Cuisine at Home
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup rice vinegar
4 tbsp. soy sauce
4 tbsp. fresh ginger, minced (I had bought some and then couldn't find it so I used 3-4 tsp. ground ginger and it was fine)
2 tbsp. garlic, minced
3 tsp. toasted sesame oil
1 tsp. sambal (spicy chile paste)
1 tbsp. water
1 tsp. cornstarch
1 flank steak, cut into strips (The original recipe called for rib-eyes but I had this on hand.)
Salt and pepper
Sliced scallions
Toasted sesame seeds
Preheat grill to high. Simmer sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, sesame oil, and sambal together in a small saucepan over high heat. Combine water and cornstarch in a small boal, then whisk into the sauce. Return mixture to a boil and simmer 1 minute. Remove from heat and set aside.
Season steak with salt and pepper; grill meat until done. Toss in sauce. If desired, set some aside for dipping. We just tossed it in all the sauce. Garnish with sesame seeds and scallions. Serve with vermicelli and vegetables.
Sesame Rice Vermicelli
4 oz. dry rice vermicelli
2 tbsp. scallions, thinly sliced
1 tbsp. toasted sesame oil
1 tbsp. toasted sesame seeds
Prepare vermicelli according to package instructions and cool. Toss with remaining ingredients.
Spicy Pickled Vegetables
2 tbsp. rice vinegar
1 tbsp. fresh lime juice
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. sambal
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 cup carrots, sliced into matchsticks (There was supposed to be a radish too but I didn't have it so I just increased the amount of carrots. If you have both, do 1/3 cup of each.)
1/2 cup cucumber, seeded, sliced into half-moons
Whisk ingredients until sugar and salt dissolve. Pour marinade over vegetables is a resealable plastic bag and refrigerate 1 hour. Don't leave them any longer than this or they'll get too soft and very spicy. Drain in a colander before serving.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Banana Bars with Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting

I discovered My Kitchen Cafe from my friend Camie's blog and I am already hooked. Everything looks yummy over at her blog! I had a bunch of dead bananas and thought that this looked like a great change of pace from banana bread. The frosting is seriously to die for!!
Frosted Banana Bars
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (I used 3)
Preheat the oven to 350. Grease a 15x10-inch baking dish or jelly-roll pan or one 9x13 pan and an additional 8x8 pan. In mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then stir in the sour cream and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl; stir into the batter. Finally, mix in the banana. Spread evenly into the prepared pan(s). Bake for 20 to 25 minutes (mine took 30) until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow bars to cool completely before frosting.
Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting
1 8 oz. package cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1 cup confectioners' (or white) sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
In a large bowl combine cream cheese, sugar, salt and vanilla. Beat until light and fluffy. Set aside. In another medium bowl, beat whipped cream until stiff peaks form. Fold whipped cream into cream cheese mixture.
Store in the refrigerator.

Roasted Pork and Potatoes

This roasted pork is from Martha Stewart's Everyday Food (which is one of my favorite places to go for recipes) but I did a bit of my own thing. I was looking over the instructions for the spice rub and realized it was very similar to a spice rub that my friend Lisa McGee gave me for Christmas (she gave me 4 different ones in these cute containers with recipes - great idea!) and so I decided to use that instead. The original recipe called for pairing the pork with a black-eyed pea salad but I had potatoes so I used those instead.

Roasted Pork

1 tbsp. paprika
1 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
Coarse salt and fresh ground pepper
2 pork tenderloins (10 to 12 oz. each) - I only used one because it was just me and Patrick!
1 tbsp. vegetable oil

Preheat the oven to 450. In a small bowl, combine spices. Place the pork on a foil-lined, rimmed baking sheet; rub with oil. Sprinkle all over with the spice mixture, patting in gently. Roast until an instant-read thermometer registers 150, about 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool slightly before slicing.

Lisa's All-Purpose Spice Rub

1/3 cup coarse salt
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 paprika
2 tbsp. ground black pepper
2 tbsp. dried oregano
2 tbsp. dried thyme leaves
1 tbsp. cayenne pepper (optional)

Can be stored in an airtight container for up to 6 months.

This is totally my go-to recipe for potatoes. So easy and so yummy! You can use any kind of small potatoes - I like red new potatoes or Yukon Gold. The original recipe comes from Real Simple. If I don't have fresh garlic, I use Lawry's garlic salt with parsley in place of the garlic and salt. It's still very tasty this way.

Roasted Potatoes

1 1/2 lbs. red new potatoes, quartered (you can really use any amount - just adjust roasting time)

1/4 cup olive oil

2 cloves garlic, smashed

Kosher salt and pepper

Heat oven to 400. On a foil-lined, rimmed baking sheet, toss the potatoes, oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Arrange in a single layer and roast, tossing occasionally, until golden brown and crisp, about 30-45 minutes.

These can also go in the oven at 450 with the pork, just watch them to make sure they don't get too brown.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Homemade Marshmallows

I was browsing through all of my holiday stuff that I tear out of magazines looking for a good idea for a teacher gift for the boys to take to school on Valentine's Day and I came across these homemade marshmallows. They reminded me of my friend Kimberlee Beifuss in Camarillo who was the queen of treats. She used to make these all the time and even taught us how at an Enrichment night but I had never made them on my own. Today's the day I thought!
Homemade Marshmallows
Confectioners' sugar
2 packets unflavored gelatin
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
Spray an 8" square baking pan with vegetable cooking spray. Dust heavily with confectioners' sugar. In a mixing bowl, sprinkle gelatin over 1/3 cup cold water and let set for 10 minutes.
In a saucepan, combine sugar, corn syrup, salt and 1/3 cup water. Bring to a boil to dissolve sugar, then boil 4 minutes more.

With mixer on low speed, pour hot sugar syrup into gelatin. Continue beating until completely mixed. Turn mixer to high and beat 10 to 15 minutes more, until mixture has doubled in volume and is completely white. Beat in vanilla.

Spread mixture in the prepared pan. Wet hands to smooth top. Let set 3 hours or overnight. Turn onto a cutting board dusted with confectioners' sugar. Cut into squares with a sharp knife. Toss with confectioners' sugar to coat all sticky sides. Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Overall an easy recipe, meaning not labor-intensive but super messy!! Confectioners' sugar, scooping sticky marshmallow out of the mixer and into the pan - you get the idea. But really pretty and really yummy! The boys said they tasted like vanilla ice cream that wasn't cold.