Thursday, January 27, 2011

Creamy Chicken Taquitos

I found this tasty recipe over at Best Bites and decided I had to try it. These taquitos are baked not fried like most varieties, so they are substantially healthier and they still taste amazing. I still had some of the spicy chicken I made in the crock-pot stashed in the freezer so I thawed that out to use instead of the plain the chicken the recipe called for. These turned out super tasty and I only made a few modifications to the original recipe (I don't like cilantro so I left that out, and I didn't think the lime juice sounded necessary).

Here is the recipe:

Baked Creamy Chicken Taquitos (Original recipe is here)
1/3 cup (3 oz) Cream Cheese
1/4 cup Salsa Verde
1/2 teaspoon Cumin
1 teaspoon Chili Powder
1/2 teaspoon Onion Powder
1/4 teaspoon Garlic Powder
2 cups Spicy Shredded Chicken Recipe
1 cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese/Mexican Cheese Blend
at least 13 Small Corn Tortillas or Flour Tortillas (Fajita size)
Cooking Spray
Soften cream cheese in the microwave for about 30 seconds or so in a large glass bowl, then mix in the spices, chicken, and cheese. Warm 2 corn tortillas at a time in the microwave (so they don't crack when rolled, the heat makes them pliable) and fill each tortilla with about 2 tablespoons of the chicken mixture and roll up tightly (leave ends open). (There is no need to heat the flour tortillas, they are soft enough already). Place rolled up tortillas on a lightly greased cookie sheet (it is better if they aren't touching because it allows the tortilla to harden more), spray the tops with cooking spray and bake at 425 for 15-20 minutes.
FYI: I found that it took a little longer than 20 minutes for my batch but I was making a larger batch.

Gooey Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

This recipe is from the Cookbook "Baking: From My Home to Yours"by Dorie Greenspan, but I actually found the recipe at Kait's Plate. These cookies are exactly what I was looking for, they are thin, chewy, and slightly gooey - exactly the way I like them. They aren't cakey or dry at all, which is something I have been cursed with when making most chocolate chip cookie recipes. I think this one may now be my go-to recipe.

Happy Baking!

Gooey Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies (Original recipe here)
2 cups Flour
1 teaspoon Salt
3/4 teaspoon Baking Soda
2 sticks (8 ounces) Butter softened
1 cup Sugar
2/3 cup Brown Sugar
2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
2 Eggs
2 cups (or about 12 oz) Chocolate Chips (I use Ghiradelli brand, I like the shape and taste better than Nestle)
In a medium bowl whisk together flour, salt, and baking soda. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl beat soft butter for a minute or two then add in the sugars and beat for two minutes.

adding in the sugar

Add eggs one at a time beating for one minute after each egg.

After beating the eggs in

Stir in the vanilla. Add in the flour gradually, in three batches, mixing well after each addition, then mix in the chocolate chips.

Drop by spoonfuls onto a lightly greased cookie sheet about 1 1/2 inches apart.
Raw dough, tasty!

Bake at 375 for about 9 minutes (check after 8 minutes). The cookies will look a little underdone when you pull them out but that is ok, if you don't take them out when they are just starting to brown on the sides they will get over-done and crispy. Made 36 cookies (but it varies a little).

Rows of cookies!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Southern Dinner

I grew up in the south, Arkansas to be specific, and I have many fond memories of my grandmother's southern meals. Yesterday I had the hankering for a southern style dinner so I decided to make some of my favorite dishes from childhood. This was partly inspired by a trip to the market "Robert is Here" that me and my partner biked to this weekend, where I bought pole beans and summer squash. Pole beans are a particular variety of green bean, they are flatter and longer and they have a different flavor altogether than regular green beans - in short they are awesome. The squash was also amazing because it had actually been picked at the right size instead of being allowed to grow to mammoth-like proportions. The reason this is important is that smaller squash are more tender and have a sweeter flavor, also the seeds are smaller and softer. Anyway, since I had those two foods on hand I decided to make fried squash, pole beans with bacon, meatloaf, and drop biscuits.

The recipes are all below.

Cheddar Turkey Meatloaf (adapted from a Taste of Home recipe)
2 lb Ground Turkey
1 Onion chopped
1 cup Milk
1 1/4 cups Shredded Cheddar Cheese
2 Eggs
1 cup Raw Oats
1 teaspoons Salt
2/3 cup Ketchup
1 tablespoon Brown Sugar
2 teaspoons Dry Mustard
Mix ground turkey, onion, cheddar cheese, oats, and salt together and then add in the eggs and salt until well mixed.
raw ingredients

Form into 8 little mounds on a large cookie sheet.

raw meat mounds - yum!

Mix ketchup, brown sugar, and dry mustard together and put a spoonful onto each meatloaf mound. Bake at 350 for about 45 minutes.

Pole Beans with Bacon
Rinse a off large mess of pole beans (a pound or more) and clip off ends. Snap in half and put into a medium saucepan. Fill partway with water (but don't cover the beans because they will cook down). Put about 1 teaspoon of salt and a half a piece of bacon in the pot. Boil on medium for about 15 minutes or until beans are soft.

Drop Biscuits (from Cooks Illustrated)
2 cups Flour
2 teaspoons Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Sugar
3/4 teaspoon Salt
1 cup Cold Buttermilk
8 tablespoons Butter melted
In a measuring bowl combine dry ingredients and set aside. Melt butter in a pyrex measuring cup and set aside to cool briefly (about 5 minutes) then pour in the buttermilk and mix until the butter forms small clumps (the butter is hardening because it is getting cold again from the buttermilk). Pour buttermilk mixture into the dry ingredients and mix with a fork until well incorporated. Dough should be slightly sticky and pull away from the sides of the bowl. Drop batter by large spoonfuls onto a 15x10 cookie sheet and bake at 475 for about 10-12 minutes until just starting to brown on the top.

Fried Squash
4 or more Summer Squash sliced
1 cup Cornmeal
2 teaspoons Salt
Pepper to taste
Put cornmeal and salt into a quart sized ziplock bag and shake to mix then put in the sliced squash and shake again until the squash are coated in the cornmeal.

Squash in the bag with cornmeal

Heat a large skillet (preferably cast iron) to medium-high and put in a little oil. Put in slices of squash (only one layer thick) and fry the squash on both sides until browned (should take a couple of minutes on each side). Repeat with the rest of the squash. Serve.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Baked Brussel Sprouts

I made these brussel sprouts this weekend and they were fantastic. When I was a kid I remember absolutely detesting brussel sprouts, I thought they tasted nasty and mushy. However, baking them keeps them crisper, a texture I prefer over mushy. :)


Baked Brussel Sprouts
Brussel Sprouts
Splash Red Wine Vinegar
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
Olive Oil
Halve brussel sprouts and spread out onto a 15x10 inch pan. Sprinkle with salt, red wine vinegar, pepper, and oil. Toss together and bake at 425 for about 20 minutes and serve.

Coconut Banana Cake

There was a dinner party hosted by one of my partner's friends a few days ago and I thought this cake would be the perfect thing to bring. Its a little time consuming to make but well worth the effort. Everyone at the party seemed to enjoy the cake, I only had a few slices left to bring home. :)

Coconut Banana Cake
3/4 cups Butter
1 1/2 cups Sugar
2 Eggs
1 cup Mashed Bananas (about 2 bananas)
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1/2 cup Buttermilk
2 cups Flour
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 cup Walnuts
3/4 cup Coconut
Cream butter and sugar for two minutes until fluffy and less grainy in texture. Add in eggs and beat for another 2 minutes until mixture stiffens.

Whipped butter, eggs, and sugar

Add in bananas and vanilla and beat for another two minutes.

Batter after the bananas are in

Set aside. Combine dry ingredients below into another bowl. Mix dry ingredients alternately (one after the other) with buttermilk into the creamed mixture until well mixed. Then add in walnuts and coconut and mix in. Pour cake batter into a greased and floured 13x9 inch pan.

Cake batter

Bake in a preheated oven at 370 for about 30 minutes (check at 25 minutes to make sure you don't over bake). Cool cake then frost and serve.

Coconut Buttercream Frosting
1/2 cup Butter softened
3 cups Confectioners' Sugar
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1/4 cup Cream of Coconut (sweetened)
1/2 cup or more Flaked Coconut (sweetened)
Cream together butter and sugar then add in the vanilla and cream of coconut and beat for about 2-3 minutes until mixture becomes smoother and airy. Spread over cooled cake and sprinkle with flaked coconut.

Southwestern Casserole

I've been making this casserole for years and I never get tired of it. It combines several of my favorite flavors, barbeque sauce, cheese, and cornbread into one yummy dish. Originally I used ground beef but I have since begun substituting ground turkey and I can't tell much difference at all.

The whole things takes about 20 minutes to prepare and about 30 minutes to cook, also it is all in one pan so cleanup is pretty easy.


Southwestern Casserole
1.2 lbs. Ground Turkey
1 Onion chopped
3 Jalapenos chopped fine
10 oz Frozen Peas
10 oz Frozen Corn
3/4 bottle of BBQ Sauce (Famous Dave's Rich and Sassy)
8 oz Shredded 2% Cheddar Cheese
1 1/2 teaspoons Cayenne Pepper
Cornbread Crust
1 1/2 cups Cornmeal
1/2 cup Flour
3 teaspoons Baking Powder
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Salt
2 Eggs
1 cup Buttermilk
In a skillet saute onion and jalapenos until they begin to brown then add in the turkey and cook until turkey has browned. Add in the corn and peas and mix together then turn off the heat and add in the cheese, bbq sauce, and cayenne pepper. Set aside.
In a bowl combine the dry crust ingredients then add in the eggs and buttermilk. Mix together until well blended and pour into a 13x9 inch pan that has been greased.
Cornbread batter
Spoon the filling over the crust until crust is covered then put in the oven and bake at 350 for about 20-30 minutes (when cornbread crust is done and the cheese in the filling is melted).
Just out of the oven

Monday, January 17, 2011

Simple Moong Dal with Plantains

My partner is a huge fan of dal but until today I hadn't actually made it before; however, I had a bag of dal on hand and the bf decided today was the day to make some dal. (Our plans to bike 40 miles never materialized because it rained all day, so cooking seemed like a good substitute). He found this recipe from Group Recipes for dal and we decided to make that (with a few modifications). This dal is absolutely delicious and I will definitely be making it again. Also, it is quite healthy and sure to please everyone, even vegans. :)


Simple Moong Dal with Plantains
5 cups Moong Dal rinsed and drained (or other type of dal, whatever you have on hand)
12 cups or more Water
5-8 Tomatoes diced (can used canned if you want)
3 Onions chopped fine
3-4 tablespoons minced Garlic
4 teaspoons Coriander
3-4 teaspoons Turmeric
1 1/2 - 2 teaspoons Cayenne
3-4 teaspoons Cumin
4 teaspoons Salt (at least)
Olive oil
2 Plantains optional
Put dal and water into a very large pot with the diced tomatoes and salt and cook (covered) on high until boiling then reduce heat to medium and cook uncovered. Meanwhile in a frying pan heat olive oil and add in the onions and garlic, cook until the onions are beginning to get translucent then add in all of the spices, continue to fry for a few more minutes then add the onion mixture to the dal. If desired slice up 2 plantains into half inch pieces and fry on medium-high heat until browned on both sides and add to the dal. Continue cooking dal on medium stirring about every 5-10 minutes until dal has started to break up and form a thick soup. Once the dal has reached the desired thickness turn off heat and serve. FYI, it takes about 40-60 minutes for the dal to cook down. This makes a huge pot of dal, probably at least 15 servings. Calorie count for the entire pot approx: 5446 (about 360 calories per serving)

Sweet and Spicy Roasted Sweet Potatoes

I made these sweet potatoes for a birthday party potluck on Saturday and got a steady stream of compliments on them. They are just the right blend of spicy and sweet, and quite healthy to boot! If you want a quick side dish this a great recipe to try, because it goes well with pretty much anything.
peeled whole sweet potatoes
Sweet and Spicy Roasted Sweet Potatoes
3-4 Sweet Potatoes cubed and peeled
2-3 tablespoons Brown Sugar
1-2 tablespoons Chili Powder (depends on how spicy you like your food
Enough olive oil to coat the potatoes
Salt to taste
Spread the cubed sweet potatoes in a single layer onto a large cookie sheet (15x10) and sprinkle on chili power, brown sugar, and salt. Drizzle with enough olive oil to coat the sweet potatoes.
potatoes just after sprinkling on spices
Mix together until all the sweet potatoes are evenly covered with the seasonings and oil. Bake at 425 for about 20-30 minutes (time varies due to the size of the potatoes, if you cut in larger chunks it could take more time to cook) stirring once or twice. The sweet potatoes should be slightly crusty on the outside (allow the potatoes to stick to the bottom of the pan while cooking as that facilitates a nice caramelly "crust") and soft on the inside. Enjoy! Calories for entire recipe are about 1050.

Shredded Chicken Enchiladas

These were heavenly! I am slightly embarrassed to say that me and my boyfriend ate the entire 13x10 inch pan of them in one night (Am I somewhat redeemed if I was drunk?). To be fair my partner had just finished a 60 mile training ride and I had gone running.

On a more recipe oriented note, these are kind of time consuming to make because of all the different steps, however, you can make the chicken filling on a different day (which is what I did) and just save some for this recipe.

Here you go:

Shredded Chicken Enchiladas
Spicy Shredded Chicken
Enchilada sauce (recipe below)
Cheese filling (recipe below)
10-13 Corn Tortillas
First make the cheese filling, then the enchilada sauce. Fill each tortilla with approximately 2 tablespoons or the chicken mixture and 1 tablespoon of the cheese filling.
Assembling the enchiladas
Roll up and put into at 13x10 inch pan (the enchiladas can be squished close together, I packed as many of those suckers in to the pan as I could). Cover with the enchilada sauce and bake at 350 for about 20 minutes or until the enchiladas are heated through. Should serve 4 people depending on how hungry they are and what accompaniments you have to the dish. Total dish has about 2689 calories (about 207 calories per enchilada).

Cheese Filling
1 cup shredded Mexican Cheese
1/2 – 1 cup shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese (I used the 2% reduced fat kind)
2 tablespoons Butter
2 tablespoons Flour
3/4 cups Milk 2 oz Cream Cheese
In a saucepan over low heat melt butter, add in flour and stir until you have a smooth paste-like mixture. Gradually add in the milk, stirring quickly so that no lumps form. Make sure to add in the milk fast enough so that the mixture doesn’t get too thick. (If, while you are adding in the milk the mixture starts to get too thick, pull off the heat and stir the rest of the milk in; then put back on the burner). Once the mixture has thickened to about the consistency of corn syrup add in the cheeses (including the cream cheese) and stir in just until melted. Pull off of heat and set aside.

Enchilada Sauce
Based on enchilada sauce recipe from Nobel Pig's cooking blog
1 Onion chopped very fine
1 1/2 tablespoons minced Garlic
1 15 oz can Tomato Puree
1 cup (approx) Chicken broth
3 teaspoons Chili Powder
2 tablespoons Vinegar
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
Olive Oil

In a frying pan on medium-high, sauté onion and garlic in oil until the onion begins to turn translucent and caramelize (brown on the bottom). Add in the spices, and cook for a few minutes then add in the vinegar, tomato puree and chicken broth. Cook over medium-low heat stirring frequently. Add more chicken broth if needed to get the desired consistency for the sauce.

Spicy Shredded Chicken

Chicken on a tortilla cause I didn't get a good pic of it by itself
I have been craving mexican food lately and I also had bunch of chicken in my freezer so I decided to make a big pot of chicken that I could use in various mexican recipes. Or just as a quick add in to a burrito, I eat burritos all the time because they are a super quick and tasty way to have lunch - its like a sandwich but yummier.

This makes a large amount of chicken, perfect for freezing and using later on in a casserole or whatever you want. I decided to make enchiladas with the chicken and they were delicious. (Recipe for those to follow this one).

This chicken actually wasn't as spicy as I thought it would be, which will be good for all of you who are less inclined to eat food that makes you cry. It does taste absolutely delicious though, juicy and slightly tangy from the tomatoes with the added smoky flavors of the roasted peppers.
Peppers, yum!

Here is the recipe, enjoy!

Spicy Shredded Chicken
6 Chicken Breasts (boneless)
2 cans Rotel (I used one spicy and one regular)
Assorted hot peppers (I used 4 Jalapeños, and 3 Poblanos)
2 teaspoons Cumin
2-3 teaspoons Chili Powder
Salt to taste
Put whole chicken breasts and rotel into a crock-pot and turn onto high setting. Meanwhile dry fry (i.e. don’t use any oil, just use a dry skillet) the peppers in a frying pan over high-medium heat, turning as the skin blackens (this should take a few minutes on each side).
this is what the blackened peppers should look like
Immediately put the peppers into a plastic bag and seal.
the steam makes it easier to remove the skin
Once peppers have cooled peal (and scrape) off as much of the outer skin (the part that has blackened and blistered) as possible. Then cut the peppers in half and take out the seeds. Chop into small pieces and put in the crock-pot. Add seasonings to the crock-pot. Stir the chicken mixture periodically and start to break up the chicken (the goal is for the chicken to be completely shredded by the end of cooking). The chicken should be done is 4-5 hours. If you want to cook on low it will probably take a couple of hours longer. However, this can cook for a while after it is technically done without any ill affects, so don’t worry about the time too much. 

Friday, January 14, 2011

Creamed Broccoli Curry Casserole

Just Out of the Oven
I had a lot of broccoli I needed to use up last night and, fortuitously, I remembered having a really delicious casserole at a party a couple of days ago that contained said ingredient. I called the woman who made it and got the recipe: this casserole is based on that recipe, with modifications based on what I had available. I substituted potatoes for cauliflower, sour cream for mayo, and cream of chicken soup for mushroom. My point being that you can generally substitute or leave out quite a few things, if you put a little thought into it, without sacrificing flavor.

The casserole turned out great! Very rich and creamy. Enjoy.

Creamed Broccoli Curry Casserole
2-3 Bunches Fresh Broccoli (or one 12 oz. Frozen Broccoli) chopped
4-6 Carrots cut into sticks
2-3 Potatoes cubed
1 10 oz can Cream of Mushroom Soup (or other cream soup)
4-6 oz. Parmesan Cheese (or italian cheese blend)
2 tablespoons Butter
2 tablespoons Sour Cream (Mayonnaise)
2 tablespoons Curry Powder
Briefly steam broccoli, carrots, and potatoes (for about 5 minutes); drain any excess water. Put vegetables and potatoes in a baking dish and mix in the soup, cheese, butter, sour cream, curry powder, salt, and pepper. Bake for about 40 minutes at 350 then put croutons on top and sprinkle with more cheese if desired and bake for another 15 minutes.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Curried Turkey, Peas and Garbanzo Beans

So Good!
This is one of the first curries I ever made and I love it. Very healthy and satisfying. The sweetness of the coconut milk pairs so well with the turkey and the green peas. This is pretty quick to throw together since the only thing you need to chop are the onions.

Also, if you wanted to make this without meat I would recommend adding in another can of garbanzo beans and another onion. Adding in some potatoes might be good too. Experiment! Have fun!

Curried Turkey, Peas, and Garbanzo Beans
1.2 lb ground Turkey or chicken (can use beef)
1 Onion chopped
2 tablespoons Madras Curry Powder
4 whole Cloves
4 whole Cardamom
10 oz. bag (approx.) Frozen peas (can use more if you wish)
15 oz can Garbanzo beans (don't drain)
1 15 oz. can Coconut milk (can use half a can if you wish, the sauce will just be thicker)
Salt to taste (no more than a 1 tea)
2-3 cups Cooked Rice
Sauté chopped onion in a skillet until onions are almost clear and onion is slightly caramelized; as the onion is finishing sautéing add in cardamom and cloves and cook for one minute before adding ground turkey and curry to the pan. Cook until turkey is done. Add garbanzo beans, peas, and coconut milk to pan. Salt to taste. Simmer until all ingredients are hot and the sauce has thickened (approximately 20 minutes). Serve over rice if desired. Serves about 4-6.

Roasted Green Beans

Yummy Green Beans
All vegetables taste better roasted, as far as I can tell. Now that I have started to roast veggies I eat them so much more often! These green beans are so yummy I could just eat them for dinner and nothing else. Also, super easy.

Roasted Green Beans
About 1 lb. Fresh Green Beans (obviously you can use more if you want)
Balsamic Vinegar
Olive oil
Rinse green beans and snap them (snap off the ends, this will get rid of any strings too). Then snap in half so they are easier to eat. Put green beans on a large cookie sheet (10x15). Shake balsamic vinegar onto the beans to taste (I think I used about a 1/4 cup). Drizzle lightly with olive oil and sprinkle on salt and pepper. Toss the green beans until coated and roast in the oven at 425 for about 20 minutes turning the green beans over once or twice. The beans should be starting to get a little browned and be just starting to soften when they are done.

Sweet Potato Chicken Stew

This stew is "perfect", according to my boyfriend, and I am inclined to agree. It is simple, healthy, and tastes amazing. Also, it is cooked in a crock-pot so there is next to no clean-up and you can leave for the day while it works its magic. The stew is an amalgam of recipes that my mother-in-law gave me several years ago when I first got a crock-pot. That cock-pot passed on so this year she got me another one for christmas and this stew was my first opportunity to try it out. If you don't own a crock-pot you really should invest in one because they are super convenient to have around.

However, if you don't have one and still want to make this stew, just put everything in a big pot instead and cook it over a low to medium flame for several hours. I think it would be just fine. Also, I use tarragon in this recipe, and it has come to my attention that many people don't use this fine spice. That is a crying shame because tarragon imparts a very unique and wonderful flavor to foods that is both mildly sweet and also savory.

Happy cooking/crock-potting!

Sweet Potato Chicken Stew with Apples
3-4 Chicken Breasts chopped into bite-sized pieces
2 Sweet Potatoes peeled and cubed
2-3 Yukon Gold Potatoes (or regular potatoes) cubed
3 Apples peeled and cubed
About 20 oz. Chicken Broth (enough to cover what is in the crock-pot, but you can use some water too)
1-2 tablespoons minced Garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons Basil
1 1/2 teaspoons Tarragon
1 Cinnamon Stick (if you don't have cinnamon sticks use about 1 teaspoon of cinnamon powder)
Salt and Pepper to taste - use plenty of salt, it takes a lot to season pot
Spices are approximate as I kind of just dumped stuff in
Put the chopped chicken in the crock pot and pour just enough chicken broth over it to cover. Turn crock-pot on low. Let the chicken start cooking for about an hour while you chop up everything else. Put the sweet potatoes, regular potatoes, and apples in the crock-pot with the garlic and spices and pour in the chicken broth/water until everything is almost covered. Stir. Let cook on low (stirring periodically if you wish) for about 4 or 5 hours. You can also let it cook on high and it will probably get done an hour sooner. Serve!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Potato Soup

So, I now have a house full of people (or had, my brother and his boyfriend left today). But when I had a house full, six people in total, I needed something filling that I could make a lot of too feed them, therefore I made potato soup. I can't believe I actually had to use a 5 lb. bag of potatoes, but I did. This recipe definitely feeds six, probably twice over, which was great for me because I didn't want to spend all of my time in the kitchen. ^_^

This soup is delicious. Hearty and satisfying and still quite healthy (even with the bacon, which you can leave out if you want to). 

Potato Soup
5 lb Yukon Gold Potatoes cubed
1 lb Carrots diced or sliced
3 Onions chopped
5-6 Celery Stalked chopped
1/2 cup Heavy Cream
1/2 lb Bacon 
3 tablespoons Flour
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
Put cubed potatoes and carrots in a very large pot and put in water until just covered. Add in some salt and pepper and put on medium high to bring to boil. Meanwhile, saute celery and onions until onions are translucent and start to brown then add to the pot. Fry bacon until crisp and crumble into the soup. Add in the cream and let cook on medium low until everything is soft. If the soup isn't thick enough for your taste add in the flour and simmer on low for a while longer until thickened. Makes about 10-12 generous servings.