Friday, November 16, 2012

UH-mayzing Pumpkin Cream Soup

I'm not going to beat around the bush for even a moment here. I made the most delicious soup last night and I am so excited to share my recipe with y'all. Sadly, I did not take a picture because I was too excited to sit down and consume my delicious meal of pumpkinny creamy goodness.

So last Friday, I got my wisdom teeth removed and had been subsisting on protein shakes for the better part of a week. Naturally, I ended up getting sick of them, so I decided to whip up a few batches of soup. First was my old broccoli cheddar standby. It was delicious, but nothing that knocked my argyle socks off. The next night, I decided to try my hand at mashed potato soup, which was good, but needed a lot of sour cream in order to give it that extra something it lacked. And let's face it, I've gained back nearly every pound I lost during recovery, so the last thing I need are gobs of cellulite-causing gremlins adorning my food. Anyway. Anxious to experiment again, I decided to go for my favorite ingredient, and make... pumpkin soup! The recipe that I found was a little bland, but with modifications, it was definitely the best out of the three I had made in the previous days. I think I may even like it better than carrot soup.

So here it is, ladies and gentlemen... the recipe you've been waiting for to satisfy each and every one of your orange-hued urges!

Ingredients:
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic, pressed
1 tbsp butter for sauteing (I nearly omit butter in soup recipes, but trust me on this one)
1 standard-size can of pumpkin
1 12-oz can evaporated milk (reduced fat or fat-free works just fine!)
2 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup water
1 tbsp brown sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp pepper
salt to taste

Method:
1. In a stock pot, saute onions in butter. Once the onions have begun to brown, add the garlic and continue sauteing for another 2-3 minutes.

2. Add stock, water, pepper, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Stir.

3. Add pumpkin and evaporated milk. Stir until well incorporated.

4. Let simmer on low for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add a dash of salt if necessary. I did.

5. Pour into blender and puree. This may seem like a ridiculous suggestion since the pumpkin is already pureed, but you want to get the onions all chopped up and mingled throughout.

6. Eat and enjoy! This didn't even need sour cream. Yum! Pin It

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Mocha Almond Cuppycakes

So the other night, the boyfriend and I had a small dinner party. Being that I have been on a sort of cupcake roll lately, I decided to continue down that path and experiment with flavors a bit. Well experiment, I did, and the results were tremendous! The rich blend of chocolate and coffee was amazing, but the icing on the cake (pun intended) was the sweet frosting that just pulled it all together.

I am absolutely in love with almond flavoring, and have been ever since my cousin and I made nearly half a ton of these Italian cookies which feature it as the main ingredient. It is uh-may-zing. I kid you not. So anyway, because I'm obsessed with it, I try to use it whenever I can. This recipe seemed perfect.

Mocha almond cupcakes. How can I describe them? They taste SLIGHTLY coffee-ish, but mainly like very dark chocolate. Unless you know there's coffee in there to begin with, you probably won't be able to taste it, but what you WILL be able to taste is decadence.


Ingredients:
---Cupcakes---
1 cup + 2 tbsp white flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup cold coffee (I used regular, but I may try hazelnut next time, and believe me- there WILL be a next time!

---Frosting---
2/3 cup cocoa powder
1/3 cup milk
3 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp almond extract
1 tsp vanilla
1 stick unsalted butter, softened

Method:
1. Preheat oven to 350'.

2. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Add egg and vanilla.

3. In a smaller bowl, combine baking soda, cocoa powder, flour, and salt.

4. Slowly begin to add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture. Alternately add coffee. Continue alternating dry ingredients and coffee until all ingredients are incorporated.

5. Pour batter into 18 prepared baking tins (sprayed and floured or lined).

6. Bake for about 18 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

7. While the cupcakes are baking, make your frosting.

8. With a hand mixer, combine the butter, almond extract, and vanilla extract.

9. Slowly add cocoa powder alternately with milk.

10. If the frosting is too thick, add more milk. If you accidentally thin it out too much, add a little more powdered sugar. It's not too difficult to whip up a batch of frosting, now is it?

11. Decorate with a piping bag or with a spoon. Garnish with almonds, if desired.

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Bacon-Wrapped Scallops

It's been over three weeks since my last post, and believe me, I bet you all were thrilled to be exempt from feeling guilty about not clicking my blog. Fear not, though. I'm back an I've got an entire backlog of recipes to share!

First, I'll start with my bacon-wrapped scallops. As you know, I have been celebrating "date night" by preparing a delicious dinner that costs more than $2 per serving and is absent of leftovers. We have been eating quite a bit of fish lately, so I wanted to continue with the seafood theme while also getting creative. I know, I know... bacon-wrapped scallops isn't some novel culinary invention, but whatever. Have you ever made them in your home kitchen? No, you say? Well then don't judge!

I found a few recipes online, but because they all required a zillion steps that I didn't care to take, I decided that I'd wing it and do it my own way. As it turns out, my own way turned out to be just wonderful, if I do say so myself! I served with roasted green beans and red mashed potatoes made with garlic and plain fat free yogurt rather than sour cream. So, so good!

The recipe is incredibly easy, so I'm not really going to post the ingredients, but rather I'm going to skip to the method.

Method:

1. Obtain any quantity of large sea scallops.

2. Obtain half as many bacon strips as you have scallops. Slice each piece of bacon in half so that you now have as many bacon pieces as you do scallops. Amazing.

3. Wrap a piece of bacon around the scallop and secure with a toothpick.

4. Sprinkle top of scallop with garlic powder and salt.

5. Arrange foodstuff in a prepared baking dish.

6. Pour about a 1/4 cup of white wine around the scallops and bake for about 8-10 minutes or until the  internal temperature reaches 120'.

7. Heat a frying pan and melt a dab o' butter. Sear the scallops on each side for about a minute so that they develop a gorgeous golden brown crust.  They should be about 145' inside. Pin It

Monday, October 8, 2012

Double Chocolate Banana Bread

Just when I thought that my recipe for banana bread couldn't get any better, I went ahead and added a little bit of this and a little bit of that to achieve a level of chocolaty perfection that was previously unheard of. Seriously, my final product was absolutely sensational. In fact, it was so sensational that it almost forced me to give up on my diet for the day. But ah! I didn't HAVE to give up on my half-assed diet due to the fact that the recipe calls for applesauce instead of butter. Yeah, yeah... I know. I'm back talking about applesauce as a substitute, but seriously. It's an awesome swap and if you're not yet a a believer, this is the recipe to try as a first step.

Now not to pat myself on the back or anything (who am I kidding? I adore self-praise), but I really do have a knack for switching up my recipes and making them even better. Let the applesauce sub and the addition and subtraction of cocoa powder and flour, respectively, serve as evidence of my talents. I also added mini chocolate chips, but that's amateur stuff, so I'm not really looking for loads of credit on that one.

Ingredients:
3 very ripe and spotty bananas, smashed to baby food-ish consistency
1 cup + 2 tbsp sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup applesauce
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips (You must use minis, otherwise the regular-sized chips will sink to the bottom of the pan and you'll find yourself in a mess that I'm not willing to help you crawl out of)

Method:
1. Preheat oven to 350'.

2. In a large bowl, mix mashed banana, sugar, and eggs together. Add applesauce and stir until well incorporated.

3. In a smaller bowl, mix cocoa powder, flour, salt, baking power, and baking soda.

4. Slowly add dry ingredients to the wet ones. Stir and scrape bowl.

5. Add mini chocolate chips and stir.

6. Pour batter into a prepared loaf pan. Sprinkle top with mini chocolate chips if desired.

7. Bake for an hour.

I usually wrap my loaf in saran wrap almost immediately after it comes out of the oven. This traps in the moisture and keeps it tasting amaaayyy-zing. Also, I usually make this at night and let it sit till the morning. Breads and muffins always taste best when they've have time to rest and the flavors have had time to marry.

P.S. I'll post pictures soon, as I am currently too lazy to fetch my camera.
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Friday, October 5, 2012

Roasted Butternut Squash (Fat Free!)

Obviously, I've been going nuts posting about my dinner last night. I'm aware that I come across as crazy, but whatever. The food was delicious and it was incredibly easy to prepare, so it'd be selfish of me to keep all of this goodness to myself. If you know me, you know that I'm not a huge fan of sharing. I'm trying to work on that, and I feel that providing y'all with my recipes is a good start. Although, based on my audience feed, I have a feeling that most of my followers are Adsense "watchdogs". What the heck, friends? I'd like to know who my "real" followers are, so do me a favor and subscribe to what I pour my heart into. It doesn't cost you anything, so really, you have no excuse to hide your identity. Unless you're a stalker.
 
So anyway, I'd like to take a moment to chat about the recipe here. It's for roasted butternut squash, which really couldn't be easier. It's also great timing because it's in season! Whoo hoo! I actually just saw it at the farmers' market for $2 per pound. Ha ha. I'd like to support local farmers, but it's hard when I saw the same veggie on sale for 39 cents per pound the other day. Oh great, I've just invited a barrage of hate mail for that comment. 
The picture makes it look ugly.
Blame it in my ancient telephone.


The ingredients other than squash are really only for color, so they're not all that necessary. Therefore, if you don't have any of the extra stuff, don't worry about it. You're good in my book.


Ingredients:
1 butternut squash
1 tbsp
dash of salt
dash of cinnamon
1ish cup of water

Method:
1. Cut your squash in half, lengthwise. Cut each half in half.
 
2. Arrange your squash quarters in a deep baking dish. I used a stoneware baking dish that I got for my birthday. I love it!
 
3. Pour your water around the squash.
 
4. Mix cinnamon and brown sugar together, then sprinkle over the vegetable. I actually didn't do that, but I wish I had.
 
5. Shake a bit o' salt over it all.
 
6. You have two choices here. You can either bake for an hour and a half at 350' or you can bake it for less time at 400'. Whatever path you choose is fine by me. Just be sure to test the squash via the ever sophisticated method of fork puncture. Generally, I let my squash kick it old school in the oven after I turn it off. Maybe you'd like to copy me?
 
7. Slice it and throw it down. Yes, you can eat the skin.

Yes, this is a repeat photo, but I thought you might like to take a gander at the squash portion of the vegetable dish.

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Roasted Sweet Baby Peppers

Last night, as I was shopping for my date-night dinner, I stumbled upon a bag of baby peppers that happened to be on sale for a mere two dollars. Due to the fact that these little suckers were not only absolutely adorable, but also a complete bargain, I couldn't help but snatch up a bag to bring home. Immediately upon seeing them, I knew that they needed to be roasted. I mean seriously, there's really no other way to eat them.
 


 
Having never roasted peppers in the oven before, I turned to the Internet, only to find several sets of instructions that suggested that I put them in an oven heated to 450' for thirty minutes. That was after I was supposed to coat EACH pepper in two teaspoons of oil. GTFO. Not gonna happen. So, I decided to do it my way, which meant that I was going to use far less oil and bake them at the same temperature that I did my shrimp. The result? Perfection to sixth power. Yes, that's a real mathematical equation.
I didn't really measure anything, so I'm going to skip the ingredients and jump straight to the method.
 
Method:
1. Pour 1/4-ish cup of oil into a baking dish. Add a dash of salt and a dash of pepper. What I sprinkled in didn't even equate to 1/8 tsp combined, so seriously-- a dash of each is quite enough.
 
2. Place about 1 pound of peppers in dish. Coat them with the oil mixture.
 
3. Bake at 350' for about 15 minutes, then increase the temperature to 450 and bake for another 4-5 minutes. If what you're baking it with needs to bake for longer than 15 minutes, then by all means, let the peppers hang out for a little longer at 350'... maybe like 6-7 minutes. It's as simple as that.
 
So the picture above also includes a serving of roasted butternut squash. Stay tuned because that recipe is coming soon. 
 
This is how the table looked after the shrimp, squash, and peppers were all done up.




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Healthier Baked Stuffed Shrimp

Who doesn't love baked stuffed shrimp? Who doesn't love getting on the scale the morning after and realizing that they haven't gained three pounds from all that butter? Me, me, me!! Baked stuffed shrimp is one of my favorite things to eat, and I have finally found a way to make it without having to feel grease drip down my esophagus. The secret is to use applesauce instead of butter. For those of you who are skeptical, hear me out. You cannot taste the apple specifically, but what you CAN taste is amazing flavor that fails to hold a candle to butter. Honestly, I prefer the taste of these shrimp over any I've tried that have been made the traditional way. Pinky swear.

So the store brand buttery round crackers (Ritz crackers for all you mega zillionaires out there!) are the only bad thing in this recipe. Sure, a sleeve of buttered crackers really adds up, but compared to a more traditional recipe, it's not that bad. I paired this recipe with roasted baby peppers and butternut squash (recipes to follow). The combination was amazing, so I suggest you read allll the postings related to last night's dinner! :)

Ingredients:
8 jumbo shrimp, shelled, de-veined, and butterflied
1 sleeve Ritz crackers, crushed to resemble sawdust
1/2 cup  unsweetened applesauce
1 tbsp dried parsley
juice of 1/2 lime (Yes... lime... NOT lemon!)
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (or more, depending on how hot you like it!)

Method:
1. Preheat oven to 350'.

2. Combine crushed crackers and applesauce. Mix very well and add all remaining ingredients (less the shrimp).

3. Taste your mixture and make sure that you like it. It it's too dry, add more applesauce or lime, depending on which flavor you prefer. It's all about satisfying your taste buds!
 
4. Divide your cracker mixture into 8 portions. Make an oval and stick the mixture on top of the butterflied shrimp. Fold the tail over so that it sticks to the stuffing.
 
5. Place your shrimp on a prepared cookie sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the tails turn pink.
 
6. Cut the remaining half lime into two wedges and squeeze over your shrimp if desired. To me, this makes the dish, but whatevs... it's up to you!

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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Freestyle Broccoli Quiche

Because of our chaotic schedules, Tuesday has been unoficially transformed into quiche night. I usually combine all of the ingredients the night before and pop the sealed container of raw ingredients in the fridge. That way, when Tuesday rolls around, all I have to do is pour the egg/broccoli mixture into a prepared pie plate and toss it in the oven for about an hour. Why don't I anticipate saving Tuesday time by pouring the mixture straight into my plate, you ask? The simple answer is that I don't trust that I won't spill it. What a horrible disaster that would be to have to clean up such a mess.

Anyway, on Monday night, I realized that I didn't have all of the ingredients that I normally use to make my standard broccoli quiche, so I did what any normal kitchen goddess would do. I improvised, and let me tell you, it was amazing! I used less milk and the leftover Mexican cheese that had been taking up residence in my refrigerator since the last time I made chili. I also didn't use any onions, which admittedly, aren't called for in my standard recipe, but are good to add in when your five pound bag of tear-creators is on the fritz.

I also omitted the crust, as I usually do, but this time, it was not by choice, but rather out of sheer necessity because I didn't have any butter kicking around. I know, I know... how does a girl who loves to bake not have a few tablespoons of butter laying around? Well my friends, had my seen my stomach bouncing around during my exercise sesh last night, you'd understand why.

Ingredients:
2-3 cloves pressed garlic
1 1/2 cups Mexican blend cheese (Kraft makes this one with a "touch" of Philadelphia in it... it's to die for!)
4 eggs
1 cup skim milk
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 bag frozen broccoli (I think this is a pound?), partially cooked via microwave

Method:
1. Preheat oven to 350'.

2. In bowl, beat eggs. Mix in salt, pepper, and garlic.

3. Add broccoli and cheese.

4. Pour egg-broccoli mixture into prepared pie plate.

5. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Let set for a few minutes before serving. Pin It

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Teriyaki Marinade

It has been very, very busy in my house lately , which means that I haven't had much time to dedicate to cooking up crazy concoctions of tummy-warming goodness. On nights that I have only fifteen minutes and leftovers are not an option, I turn to stir fry. How easy is it to whip up a stir fry, you ask? It's as simple as cutting up raw chicken, tossing a bag of frozen wok-ready vegetables in a pan, and stirring up a simple yet delicious marinade.

Prior to last night, I never measured out any of the ingredients for my marinade. I decided, however, that if I wanted to share my masterpeice marinade with you, that it would be in my best interest to take the time to use my colorful measuring spoons and cups. I think it was worthwhile.

This marinade is sweet with aromatic notes of cinnamon and ginger. You may think that adding cinnamon and ginger is strange, but don't hesitate.... just do it because its so, so good. The flavor is almost reminiscent of a peanut sauce, but the catch is that there are no peanuts! Who would have thought?! Next time, I may try adding a tablespoon or two of the creamy stuff, ya know, just to see what happens. :)

Ingredients:
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 tsp worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp cinnamom
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp red wine vingegar
2 tbsp water (or more, depending on how strong you like the flavor)

Method:
1. Mix all ingredients together.

2. Pour over stir fry ingredients (chicken, beef, vegetables, etc.) and cook until meat is cooked through and vegetables are tender.

3. Brag to everyone on Facebook about how wonderful your cooking skills are. Don't forget to give me credit!


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Monday, October 1, 2012

Pumpkin Pop Cuties

As some of you may know, I am obsessed with all things pumpkin.There's just something so remarkably sweet about those cute little orange, plump, ribbed spheres of goodness. I love the way they taste, look, and smell (when combined with cinnamon et cetera). I should also mention that pumpkins are the only things I like about Halloween. To me, Halloween is just a scary time of year when evil-- and harlots-- are welcomed into society for a whole day. That's right... a whole day of scary and slutty. Oh dear.

So what's a girl to do during the season of Halloween madness? Well, my friends, I turn to pumpkin... and not the tainted ones that some creepy individuals choose to carve rather frightening faces into, either. I mean pure, unadulterated pumpkins in their unmarked flesh.
 
Anyway, I know it's early in the month, but I am already getting pumpkin fever, and Naturally, I wanted to try something creative that showcased my love for the sacred squash. So this is what I came up with: "White" chocolate covered marshmallows. It doesn't sound like much, but they're Ay-de-orable and I plan to make about three hundred more of them and force feed them to my loved ones in a last ditch effort to appear thin.

Ingredients/ Supplies:
1 cup orange candy melts (I used Wilton)
10 marshmallows (I used the store brand because they had a stronger shape. I bet it's because they were stale, but I found this preferable anyway.)
1 graham cracker
candy sticks
4 x 3 candy bags
green ribbon


Method:

1. Melt chocolate on the stove or in the microwave. If you're using the microwave, make sure to melt it in increments of thirty seconds so as to not burn the candy.

2. Crush your graham cracker and place the crumbs in a small dish. 

3. Poke the candy sticks into the center of each marshmallow and dip the marshmallow into the melted chocolate. I had to end up "frosting" my marshmallows because the chocolate wasn't thin enough. If you would like your chocolate to be thin enough to dip into, I'd suggest adding a teaspoon or so of shortening to the dish before microwaving.

4. Once the marshmallow has been adequately coated, press the bottom into the graham cracker crumbs. It looks like hay, doesn't it?! Let's just pretend it does.

At this point, my boyfriend said that he couldn't envision the final outcome. Instead, he said that they looked like pumpkin ejaculate. I can't make this stuff up.

5. Place your candy treat on a wax paper-lined dish. Once your treats are all made, pop the plate into the fridge for about 30 minutes to allow the chocolate to harden.

6. After lots of time has passed, remove the marshmallows and bag 'em up. Then tie a ribbon and admire your little pumpkin cuties. 

Here, he admitted that they looked cute and stated that if I chose to pack one in his lunch tomorrow, all of his coworkers would be jealous. I'm all about making eighteen year old girls feel inadequate about their kitchen skills.





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Sunday, September 30, 2012

Holy Moly Macaroons!

When it comes to sweets, there are a few things that I just can't get enough of. In no particular order, those things include coconut, chocolate, hazelnut, pumpkin, and maybe another thing or two that I can't recall at the moment, as it is nine o'clock at night and my mind is full of cotton balls. True story.  So anyway, I was asked to come up with a dessert that would complement a lemon meringue pie and the first thing that came to mind was coconut. Being that I knew I simply wouldn't have oodles of time to dedicate to baking, I made the impeccable decision to whip up a batch of macaroons. Excellent decision.

It took all of nine minutes to get my cookie "batter" from the cabinet to the oven, eighteen minutes to make the coconut puffies, and maybe ten minutes to cool. What's more, however, is that in addition to taking barely any time at all, they tasted awesome. And I mean awesome.

So if you have thirty-seven minutes to spare, I say give these a try. They're supremely easy and are guaranteed to knock your socks off in terms of taste.

Ingredients
1 2/3 cups shredded coconut
2/3 cup white sugar
1/4 cup white flour
1/4 tsp salt
4 egg whites
1 tsp vanilla

Method:
1. Set your time and ready, set, go!

2. Preheat oven to 325'. 

3. Combine coconut, sugar, flour, and salt. Give it a good stir.

4. In a small dish gently mix the vanilla and the egg white together. Do this for about ten seconds, which should be just enough time to break up the rather gelatinous albumen-containing slime. 

5. Drop by rounded tablespoons onto a prepared cookie sheet. You should get about 30.

 6. Bake for 18-20 minutes.


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Friday, September 28, 2012

Banana Surprise Muffins

So after a week hiatus, I'm back to promote an old, yet delicious recipe  for 100% Whole Wheat Banana Oat Muffins to share with all of my loyal followers. Actually, I've done some research and have learned that the majority of my page hits come from Russian spam bots. When I check my traffic sources, I can see the URLs from which people were directed to my blog. Well a lot of the unknown ones are actually links to highly inappropriate Russian websites. Oh fuck, now the entirely of the IT staff at my job thinks that I'm some sort of workplace pervert. I guess that'll teach me not to click work-unrelated links.

Anyway, let's move on to the topic of the hour: Banana surprise muffins. I am a rather huge fan of muffins; in fact, muffins were the inspiration for the shape of my body. Thought I'll admit, however, that I've been eating quite a lot of carrot soup, so I've been losing weight, but I still can't seem to shake the billowing fat emerging from the top of my pants. Whatever.

So per usual, some of the measurements may be a little off, so I encourage you to use your intuiton and add more dry ingredients if necessary. Afterall, you're a smart cookie; Otherwise, you wouldn't be reading my blog, right?

Anyway, what's not to love about  100% Whole Wheat Banana Oat Muffins?
Whole wheat
Oats
Chocolate
Low, low fat

Stop making excuses and make them already! :) Pin It

Monday, September 24, 2012

Turkey- Broccoli Meatloaf

Meatloaf is one of those things that reminds me of warm, comforting meals. While it's not the fanciest of dishes (in fact, someone once told me that it was "white trash"... I tend to whole-heartedly disagree with that statement), it's certainly found its way into my repertoire and onto my dining room table.

As mentioned previously, my boyfriend and I have opted out of traditional date night and have traded it in for a no-leftover policy. Along with the no-leftover policy, it has also unofficially transitioned into a more-than-one-serving-dish policy. As someone who enjoys cooking, I have grown quite fond of Thursday nights.

Along with my cauliflower mashup, which if I can say, was a huge hit, I also took the time to make a meatloaf. Because I try to make "date night" food a little more special than a brick of meat, I decided to add a dash of pizazz in the form of broccoli. It was well-received and quickly consumed.





Ingredients:
1 pound-ish lean ground turkey (My package was about 20 ounces)- you can also use ground chicken
1 1/2 cups broccoli, somewhat finely chopped
1/4 cup cheddar cheese (don't add this to the meat mixture)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp salt (don't add this to the meat mixture)
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 tsp onion powder (I didn't feel like chopping an onion... sue me)
1/4 cup ketchup (I suppose that's the white trash component)
1 tsp worcestershire sauce
3/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1 egg
Extra ketchup

Method:
Preheat oven to 350'.

2. Partially cook your brocolli until it is tender, but not mushy. I did this in the microwave my adding a splash of water, covering the bowl with Saran wrap, and nuking it for 3 minutes. I then let it sit, covered, for about 5 minutes.

3. Combine ground turkey, 1 tsp salt, garlic, onion powder, ketchup, worcestershire sauce, bread crumbs and the egg. Knead with your hands until all ingredients are well blended. If the mixture is too sticky, add a tablespoon or two of breadcrumbs. If it is too dry, add a squirt of ketchup.

4. On a large cutting board, spread your meat mixture out and form it into a larg rectangle about 12 x 12. This is not an exact measurement.

5. Spread broccoli over the meat, leaving about half and inch of broccoli-less meat around the edges. Gently press the broccoli into the turkey. Sprinkle with 1/2 tsp salt. Sprinkle cheese over broccoli.

6. Gently roll meat into a "jelly roll". Carefully transfer your loaf into a prepared pan. If it won't fit, smush the ends together.

7. Squirt about 1/8 cup of ketchup on top of the loaf and spread it around. It's kind of gross looking/ feeling, but I promise that it's really good.

8. Bake for 45 minutes at 350' Pin It

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Cauliflower Mashup

As previously mentioned, I am quite the fan of making unhealthy comfort food dishes healthier. I experience the occasional flop, but have learned that in order to maintain the integrity of the dish, I can't go crazy with substitutions. In fact, I've learned that complete substitutions aren't the way to go, either. Where am I headed?

By bf(f) and I used to have out date nights on Thursday, but due to schedule changes, we have transformed our date nights into "nice dinner nights". They're not super fancy, but the rule is that we don't have any leftovers. Sounds pretty good. It's a lot cheaper than going out to eat, too. So, I have run into the problem of making a "fancy" dinner a healthy one. Trying to figure out what to serve with my turkey meatloaf with a broccoli swirl, I figured that mashed potatoes would be perfect. The only problem is that mashed potatoes are high in calories when you start adding butter and milk. Think, think. I didn't want to lose sight of the mashed potato idea, so I decided to create a concoction of half potatoes/ half cauliflower. Certainly I'm not the first person to think of this, but I am pretty proud that the thought came to my mind in the first place.

It's not a dead-ringer for the 100% potatoes dish, but like my diet-friendly brownies, they do satisfy the craving for dense, white goodness. Best of all, however, cauliflower is so good for you! It has far fewer calories than potatoes and is loaded with fiber. As any good dieter knows, fiber is essential to weight loss, as it keeps you feeling fuller longer.

Ingredients:
1/2 cups cauliflower, chopped
2 red potatoes, chopped slightly smaller than the cauliflower (I kept the skins on because that's where the fiber and the nutrients are. They also look pretty.)
1/4- 1/2 cup milk
2 cloves garlic
handful of cheese (I used 2% mozzarella because that's what I had on hand)
1 tbsp unsalted butter (I managed to find a light one)
salt and pepper to taste

Method:
1. In a single pan, boil potatoes and cauliflower until they are soft. It's important that the cauloflower is very soft so that it will easily break up with your hand mixer.

2. Drain your cauliflower and potatoes. Return to pan and with your hand mixer, whip the crap out of those suckers.

3. Slowly add 1/4 cup of milk and butter. Continue to mix. If they are too thick, slowly add more milk. I didn't really measure the milk, so I apologize for not being able to give you a better idea of exactly how much to plan for.

4. Add garlic and cheese. Mix, mix, mix, girls and boys!

5. Add salt and pepper to taste.
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Chicken Stew (What to do with leftover roaster chicken)

Being that I'm on a diet and making adequate progress (by adequate, I mean that I lose about 2 pounds per week, put the two pounds back on over the weekend, and then lose them again the next week), I am constantly brainstorming on how to make my favorite comfort food dishes a bit healthier. I'm not one to swap out so many ingredients that he final product has zero in common with the original dish, so I usually only change a minor thing or two. For this meal, I substituted cream for flour and salt.
Those of you who still believe that the Atkins Diet is a great way to lose weight, shame on you. And those of you who are shaking your head and thinking thinking that flour has a lot of calories, well shut yo' filthy mouf because while it does contain calories, it does not contain fat. Blah blah, argue with me about how "dangerous" carbs are all you want, but I'll just tune you out and remind myself that my brain on carbs functions better than your clogged arteries on protein.
Anyway, so immediately after I finished consuming my portion of the roasted chicken that I previously posted about, I picked the thing apart and tossed the cooked muscle (not to gross you out, but that's essentially what you're eating when you ravenously consume any animal... it's muscle, but I digress...) into my crock pot. Can we take a moment of silence to truly reflect on how amazing slow cookers are? You can make almost any meal without adding extra fat and oil and you can throw a bunch of stuff together before work and come home to a fragrant house. What I love the best, however, is that when I come home, my dinner is already made, which eliminates my need to eat a granola bar and a yogurt to diminish my nagging hunger pangs before dinner. It's amazing and I think I may celebrate its inventor's birthday.
Like some of my other recipes, some of the measurements arent's exactly accurate, but I'll do my best.
Ingredients:
All the picked chicken from the carcass
6 cups chicken stock (you can either buy this or make your own by boiling bones)
6 carrots (I used the two that were leftover from dinner and chopped another 4), sliced to 1/4" thick
3 celery ribs, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, pressed
1 onion (I recycled the one from inside the chicken and just chopped it up)
4 potatoes, chopped
Peas (as you see fit)
Chicken drippings (I used all of them, but you could just as easily skip this step to reduce calorie count. Just be sure to season at the end.)
salt and pepper to taste
1/4- 1/3 cup flour mixed with equal parts cool water (this is a guesstimate... I have no idea how much I actually used)
Method:
1. Combine all ingredients aside from salt and pepper and flour in crock pot.
2. Cook for as long as you want (low, medium, high).
3. Just before serving, add the flour/water mixture. The purpose of this step is to thicken up the stew. Add more or less depending on how thick you like it.
4. Season with salt and pepper.
** If you want to go the extra mile, you could easily turn this into a pot pie by pouring it into a crust-lined pie plate and topping it with another crust. Proceed to brushing the top crust with egg wash and poking a few holes for venting. Seal the crust by pressing the edges down with a fork.



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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Roasted Chicken

I made a chicken. And I roasted potatoes and carrots under the seven pound bird. That however, was all after I had to rip out the neck, liver, and whatever else caused me to violently gag and say a few things that are too inappropriate for this blog. Anyway, though, the chicken was delicious and may have earned me a few points from my amazing bf.

While I didn't really measure anything out, I'd like to give you an idea of what I did just in case you'd like to bake up a chicken for you sweetheart. 

1. After you remove the innards and all of the gross stuff that I previously spoke of, tie the chicken's legs together with a piece of twine. Being that I did not have twine handy because I used it all wrapping a gift, I used friendship bracelet string. Some of you may refer to it as "embroidery floss." Call it what you will, just be sure to tie up the legs so that your roaster not only looks awesome once it's done baking, but also so that it cooks more evenly.

2. Cut an onion in half. Cover each half in olive oil and garlic. Then, stuff the onions into the gaping hole within the chicken. Can we not talk about that part anymore?

3. Next, find a small bowl and create a rather fragrant mixture of the following herbs. Let's just say  1/4 teaspoon of the following: Rosemary, Sage, Thyme. I may have sprinkled a dash of "Poultry Seasoning" in there, too... who knows what's in that? Mix it all together. Add salt and pepper until it tastes delicious.

4. Add a few cloves (I used 6) of pressed garlic to the salty herb mixture. Now add a few tablespoons of olive oil. Mix around until you have a nice thick paste.

5. Pretend you're a massage therapist and give your chicken a nice oily rub-down. Seriously, though, make sure that you've evenly coated your chicken so as to ensure that every piece of this ol' clucker here will be quite tasty.

6. Plop the bird on top of potatoes, carrots, and any other vegetables that you may fancy. If you're roasting potatoes under the chicken rather than along the sides of the chicken (I think this is how normal people do it), be sure to poke holes in them so that they bake all the way through. 

7. Bake until the thermometer pops up. Wow... you will make an amazing housespouse.

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Super Easy Diet-Friendly Brownies

As you can tell, I am quite the chocolate fanatic. Yes, I do eat foods other than those of the chocolate variety, but I haven't posted the recipes because they've been too simple (a whole baked chicken), repeats of old posts, or things that I haven't bothered to measure out. For example, I whipped up a side dish of whipped cauliflower/red potatoes. I didn't really measure my seasonings, so I figured that would be a pretty crappy post for a recipe blog.

Anyway, I've been doing really well on my diet and aside from the tablespoon of mini chocolate chips that I sprinkle on top of my plain yogurt, I haven't really been spoiling myself with the good stuff. That's why today, with my diet in mind, I pulled out "Old Reliable". Old Reliable is a ridiculously easy brownie recipes that calls for two ingredients. And while it won't leave you groaning, "Oh my goodness gracious, that's the best brownie I've ever had in all of my life," it will definitely satisfy your chocolate craving without forcing you to unbutton your pants. Don't judge me... you know you've done it while no one's looking.

So the two ingredients are black beans and a box of brownie mix. "What's up with the mix?!" you might be asking yourself. Well, my dear friends, the answer is quite simple. Creating a batch of brownies that each measure 2 x 2 and contain only 110 calories is easier that way. Sure, I've found recipes for "healthy" brownies, but the recipes are usually so disgustingly altered that there's no possible way that it could even taste like a brownie, let alone any sort of delicious treat. Also, even if I did do it the "right" way, I would have to spend like sixty big ones on a single batch. Here are my instructions to you: If you're seriously counting calories and aren't afraid to make a compromise in order to save yourself $56, make these. Like I said, they're not the most FABULOUS things you've ever tasted, but it certainly does the trick when your other option boasts three times the calories.

Ingredients:
1 can of black beans, drains
Water
I box of Ghiradelli brownie mix (Do yourself a favor and splurge on the Ghiradelli. The first time I made this, I bought the bargain brand. Let me tell you, they were so disgusting and fake tasting that I threw them out. Yup yup... I threw the whole God-forsaken tray out, which if you know me, is a deal of epic proportions.)

Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 325'.

2. Pour rinsed beans back into can. Fill said can with water.

3. Empty beans and water into blender and puree for a few minutes.

4. Empty brownie mix and bean puree into a bowl and mix, baby, mix!. There's nothing like burning calories while baking up a storm.

5. Pour batter into prepared 13 x 9 pan and pop the sucker in the oven for 30 minutes.

** A 13 x 9 pan will yield very thin brownies, but if you're contemplating making this, you're already conscious of portion sizes, right? Correct.

6. The next day, jump onto your scale and rejoice over the fact that you haven't packed on a few pounds! GO YOU!!
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Sunday, September 9, 2012

Thick Fudgey Brownies

I have kept this recipe tucked away in my vault for over fifteen years. Yes, that IS a long time considering I'm twenty-six and swiped this recipe when a family friend brought it over when I was in second grade. Like my gluten-free brownies, these are not your run-of-the-mill generic cake-y brownies to which you have likely become accustomed. They are dense, rich, and usually require a beverage of some sort to help them go down. A little trail of drool just trickled out of the corner of my mouth? TMI? TB.

So last weekend, I made a pan of these for my boyfriend to bring into work. He proudly marched through the can't-stop-me-now doors, set my June Cleaver style Tupperware carrying container down in the break room, went downstairs, and after about five minutes, returned back only to find a completely empty container! Immediately upon his return, his two dozen hungry coworkers promptly lifted him into the air and began chanting with forceful enthusiasm, "You're Number One!" After the commotion ceased, the students let him down and returned to work. However, before he was able to leave the room, the resident old lady warned him that he was taking over her role as the purveyor of fine baked goods and that danger would ensue if the nonsense continued. He was not intimidated, however, knowing that his girlfriend was armed with her silicone spatula and get-ready-for-war measuring spoons, along with a hefty repertoire of recipes that would send any novice baker running for the hills.
It's possible that I'm exaggerating a little, but the brownies were consumed within five minutes, my lovely boyfran did not get to enjoy one, and the resident old lady did clearly convey the message that she felt threatened by the new sweetshop in town.






Ingredients:
4 squares unsweetened baking chocolate, melted
(or 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa + 1/4 cup canola oil)
2 cups white sugar
1 cup flour
2 sticks unsalted butter
1/2 bag chocolate chips
4 eggs
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla

Method:
1. Preheat oven to 350'.

2. In a large bowl, cream together sugar, vanilla, and butter. Add eggs one by one.

3. If you're using unsweetened cocoa and oil rather than melted baking chocolate, add the oil now. If not, add the melted chocolate.

4. In a smaller bowl, combine salt, flour, and baking powder (if using).

5. Slowly incorporate flour mixture into the wet ingredients. After all ingredients are well combined, add chocolate chips.

6. Pour batter into a prepared 13 x 9 baking pan.

7. Bake for 30-35 minutes.
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Friday, September 7, 2012

Gluten-Free Brownies

It seems like everyone is going gluten-free nowadays, so I figured I should put a few recipes up my sleeve in the event that one of my GF buddies requests a special treat. I've discovered, however, that most Celiac etc.- friendly recipes call for ingredients like rice flour, which is nice and all, but who really has that in their cupboard? Not me. That's why I've been working to modify my current recipes by simply eliminating the flour and adding some other binding agent... or baking for a longer period of time. Most of the time, this works well.

I was feeling rather fat while also craving brownies the morning that I decided to whip up a batch of these bad boys. It then hit me that the gluten-free thing could also work as a DIET food. Before you all go haywire and jump down my throat about brownies never being good for the waistline, hear me out and pay attentch. Flour contains calories. Calories cause weight gain. Therefore, flour causes weight gain. So. If there is no flour, then there are no extra calories. Therefore, gluten-free brownies are diet friendly and I encourage you to throw away your treadmill and make these brownies. I knew I took Logic in college for something!
 
The following recipe is not intended for those who prefer the lame-o cake-y brownies. These are definitely stick-to-your-ribs, super-rich, fudge-y pudgy brownies that leave you feeling as though you've just done something naughty. I guarantee that you'll like them so much that moments after secretly devouring your first one, you'll grab another, but before you can concentrate on the slightly-grainy sugar crystals that have made their way into your mouth, you notice something funny happening... and realize that it's taking place in your pants! Suddenly they're incredibly loose! Your once sausage-like legs are now Barbie- doll slender and your waist measures a mere twenty-two inches. Oh man, I should really start doing infomericals!

Ingredients:
3/4 cup +2tbsp cocoa powder
4 eggs
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup chocolate chips
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup water
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
2 cups white sugar

Method:
1. Preheat oven to 350'.

2. In a large bowl, cream together softened butter, sugar, and vanilla.

3. Add eggs one at a time. Then add water.

4. In a small bowl, combine baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder.

5. Slowly incorporate the dry ingredients into the wet. Once the ingredients are completely combined, add the chocolate chips.

6. Pour batter into a prepared 8 x 8 baking pan. I sprinkled nuts over the top, but this isn't necessary. It just makes it look gawjus.

7. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out almost completely clean.
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Friday, August 31, 2012

Red Light Bars

Last night after I returned home from another gruelling day at the office (actually that's a lie... it wasn't bad at all), I decided that I wanted to whip up a rather delicious treat of the sweet variety. Having neither the time, nor the majority of the ingredients necessary to make something chocolaty, I did something that I have only done a handful of times... I used a mix. That's right, I went to the store wearing a scarf over my head and a pair of sunglasses over my eyes, and bought two boxes of baking mix. Don't judge me- I know you've done it and I bet you've even tried to pass it off as homemade.

After I shelled out the cash for my embarrassing purchase, I sped home and immediately turned up the heat (literally and figuratively) in the kitchen. Eggs were cracking, spatulas were spreading, and knives were cutting... and this is what I came up with... a delicious layered bar that boasts a chocolate chip cookie crust topped with sliced bananas and a layer of brownie. I call them Red Light Bars.

Why are they called Red Light Bars? Because they're super easy (like the women who hang out in the Red Light District) and because they rely on bananas to give them that extra little something (just like previously mentioned women). If this offends you, call them something cute... like monkey bars. However, for as long as I can get away with it (i.e. for as long as I don't have children), I'm going to keep this suggestive name and hope for the best.

Ingredients:
Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix
3 Bananas, sliced into 1/4" pieces
Brownie Mix (don't use anything but Ghiradelli or you'll be sorry)
All the ingredients that the mixes call for



Method:
1. Preheat oven to 350'.

2. Make cookie mix as directed, but add two additional teaspoons of oil.

3. Spread cookie dough into the bottom of a greased 13 x 9 baking pan.

4. Arrange sliced bananas over cookie dough. The slices should be touching. Don't be cheap.

5. Make brownie mix as directed on box. As specified previously, don't cheap out and buy anything other than Ghiradelli. Yes, it's a dollar more expensive than the "leading brand", but it tastes a heckkkk of a lot better and you can likely pass it off as homemade.

6. Spread brownie batter over the bananas. This is the most difficult part of the recipe because you'll have to exercise a little self control and do this carefully. You may fool yourself into thinking that there's not enough lovin' to go around, but think like a Red Light girl and understand that with enough spreading, all things are possible.

7. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

I'm sure this recipe is better with all homemade batters, but as someone who never cuts corners in the kitchen, I figured I was allowed to cheat this one time, right?
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Monday, August 27, 2012

Cookie Dough Truffles

My last recipe was all about the weight loss, but since losing weight is so last season (i.e. I've given up), I figured it was appropriate to post a slam-dunk recipe for not just truffles, but for cookie dough truffles. Now you may be asking yourself, "Why do I need a special recipe for cookie dough truffles when I can make regular cookie dough or buy the scoop and bake crap from the store?" Well my friend(s), quite simply, you run the risk of dying if you don't the time to make this recipe. Fact. Actually, you probably won't die from eating raw cookie dough, but it could make you very sick and I'd prefer you not spend your sick/vacation time in the emergency room.

Truffles. What can I say about truffles other than the fact that they have in all honesty, contributed to my recent weight gain? Cookie dough. What can I say about cookie dough other than the fact that the cooked version of it has contributed to my recent sausage-esque appearance. Cookie dough truffles... Oh dear Lord, this could be bad news, but I'm willing to go on an all-water diet if that's what it takes to be able to stuff my face with these little balls of Heaven.

Ingredients:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened (I said softened, not melted. If you melt it, you're in for a BIG, messy surprise.)
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups white flour (you could use wheat, but really... who are you kidding at this point?)
1- 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk (read: NOT evaporated milk)
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (if you're going to skimp out on the nuts, double up on the chips)
2 bags of semisweet chocolate chips

Method:
1. Combine butter and brown sugar. Beat with a hand mixer until light and fluffy. Feel free to taste your mixture. It's good, isn't it?

2. Add vanilla.

3. Alternately beat in sweetened condensed milk and flour.

4. Retire your mixer for a sturdy spatula or spoon and mix in chocolate chips and nuts. Warning: You may develop a single diesel arm.

5. Roll into one-inch balls. Place on waxed paper and refrigerate for a couple of hours. Don't try to cut corners here... you need the balls cold and hard.

6. Over a double broiler (or if you know what you're doing, your microwave), melt the chocolate. With a toothpick, dip the truffles into the melted chocolate. Place back on lined baking sheets. Refrigerate until the chocolate is hard.

7. Join Weight Watchers. I'll see you there! :)
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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Carrot Soup (You have 15 minutes, right?!)

History has never been my best subject, so the story I'm about to share may or may not be accurate. So during some war between the British and some other people, the very fawncy Englishmen heard that eating carrots would improve their eyesight. Therefore, in order to increase their odds of winning the war by being able to see their enemies, they gorged themselves with carrots. In fact, they ate so many that their skin turned orange! One summer day, my cousin and I, afraid of getting skin cancer, decided to test this theory and turn it into a rockin' tan. Our hue did not change, but I do believe we got sick because we each devoured about a pound of the orange stuff within a twelve hour period. Several years later, my mom got wind that I had been eating carrot soup for lunch and dinner for about a week straight and called to check up on me to make sure that my skin tone was not morphing into a certain color of the rainbow.
After realizing that the only part of my body that was affected by carrot soupapalooza was my weight (I lost eight pounds without trying). I decided to continue eating it for as long as I could stand. I have been making this recipe for a few years now, and it has yet to get old. It has the perfect blend of sweet and savory, and best of all, is loaded with vitamins. Also, it's a pretty awesome diet food because it's ridiculously low in calories but also extremely flavorful.

The measurements may not be totally exact due to the fact that I haven't actually measured anything other than the broth since 2009, but the instructions below should be more or less correct. Be daring and give my approximations a whirl. I mean- how bad can it be, right?

Ingredients:
1 pound-ish carrots, sliced into 1/2" thick chunks
6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 small onion, roughly chopped
1-2 cloves of garlic, pressed
pepper to taste

Method:
1. Locate the power cord, which should be connected to your crock pot. Insert into outlet.

2. Combine all ingredients.

3. Let cook on whatever setting you want. Need it in four hours? Done. Want to start this before work? Go ahead.

4. Once the cooking process has completed and the carrots are nice and soft, pour your soup (in batches) into a blender and puree the Hell out of it. Return each batch to large bowl or pot.

5. Combine all pureed batches and stir. If your soup is too thick for your liking, add water, and if so desired, a dash of salt. If it's too runny, oh well, better luck next time.
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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Flippin' Delicious Apricot Chicken

I am crazy about turning ordinary food and ingredients into tasty, satisfying dishes that leave me feeling full without making me feel like I've just gorged on a few thousand calories. Additionally, I love trying new recipes, but often find myself taking someone else's ingredient card and modifying it about 90% of the way. That's how I came about the dish below. I wanted to find something to do with the apricot preserves that I'd just purchased, but the recipes that I found online all called for a package of french onion soup mix and a bottle of salad dressing. While they all got rave reviews and a full panel of orange stars, I steered clear. For starters, I didn't have any French onion soup mix (how dare I actually keep fresh onions in my cabinets), and because the very thought of loading my healthy chicken up with dressing made my stomach churn. Twice.

I can't offer you a comparison between my version of onion-y apricot chicken and the Lipton-salad dressing-apricot version, but I can definitely asssure you that the tasty delight that I'm moments from presenting will leave you wanting more and wondering why you've been marinating with only teriyaki for so long!

The served this with a side of veggie-sprinkled barley along with steamed broccoli. Perfect.

Ingredients:
2/3 jar apricot preserves
1 very small onion, chopped
1 tbsp butter
1/4 tsp-ish dried parsley (I only added this for color)
1 chicken bullion cube
2 cloves garlic
1 1/2 lbs chicken breast, sliced thin-ish

Method:
1. In a saucepan, melt the butter and saute the onions until they are slightly carmelized.

2. Add garlic and continue to saute for another minute.

3. Reduce heat and add preserves. Once the preserves have "melted", add parsley and bullion. With a spood, break the cube so that it gets distributed more easily.

4. Once ingrdients are incorporated, remove from heat.

5. Spoon preserve mixture over chicken breasts and allow to marinate. I let mine marinate for about 24 hours. You don't have to wait this long, but I did... because I'm awesome.

6. Preheat oven to 350'.

7. Bake for 20-30 minutes, depending on thickness of breasts.
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Monday, August 13, 2012

Cinnamon Raisin Breakfast Barley

Alright, alright. After giving a small break to those of you who read my blog religiously, I'm back with a few new recipes up my sleeve. For those of you who read every once in a while- shame on you, but thanks for reading this post. Hopefully you'll stick around for a little while, so as to not miss out on any more finger lickin' good food write-ups.

If you recall from my "Frisotto" recipe, I love barley because it's not only a whole grain, but also because it's packed with fiber and has a decent amount of protein. As someone who is quite fond of this grainy little pillow, I'm just as shocked as you are that I haven't eaten it for breakfast yet. I mean think about it... we eat whole grains for breakfast ALL the time, don't we? Oatmeal, toast, English muffins, cereal, but for some reason, barley's not on that list. Why?

So after having this epiphany that I should include this in my a.m feeding regimen, I decided to mess around in the kitchen and come up with something that was only slightly reminiscent of one of my favorite dinner side dishes. I decided to take the easy road and make a cinnamon raisin dish, and I'm so glad I did because it was so delicious. I ate it warm and poured about four ounces of almond coconut milk. I suggest you do the same.

Ingredients:
1 cup barley
5 cups water (Yes, this is more water than you would normally use, but I like my barley soft rather than chewy... especially when I'm eating it for breakfast)
4 tbsp brown sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup raisins
3/4 tsp lemon juice

Method:
1. Bring water to a boil

2. Once water has begun to boil, add barley, brown sugar, cinnamon, raisins, and lemon juice. Reduce heat to low.

4. Cover and let simmer for about 45 minutes. Make sure you watch your simmering concoction because if you don't, the sugary water will boil over and you'll end up with the horrible smell of burnt sugar.

5. After about 45 minutes, turn the heat off and let sit until all water has been absorbed.

6. Serve alone or with milk poured over.

** By the way, this makes about four to six servings.
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Friday, August 10, 2012

Sweet Luau Chicken

As of late, I have been experimenting with different marinades. While it's certainly easier to buy a bottle of whatever happens to be on sale, it's a better idea to make your own because not only can you control what chemicals go into it, but also you can alter the flavor to satisfy your current cravings.

I've always had an affinity for anything pineapple, but I've recently discovered that when mixed with other ingredients, it's awesome on chicken, especially in the summer time.

If you wanted to get super fancy and serve these as an appetizer at a party, you could modify the method and put the pineapple and chicken on skewers. You may also consider adding maraschino cherries to the ol' stick so as to add a pop of color. If you're planning to skewer up these bad boys, be sure to soak them in water for half an hour before threading the food on.

Ingredients:
1 can pineapple chunks + all the juice (Make sure you buy pineapple chunks in 100% juice rather than those which come in syrup. This is a sure-fire way to send your dish to Hell in a hand basket.)
1/4 cup soy sauce (it's okay to use the cheap crap)
1/4 cup orange juice
1/2 cup light brown sugar 
1/4 tsp cinnamon
4ish chicken breasts
a few tbsp brown sugar for sprinkling



Method:
1. In a small bowl, whisk together pineapple juice, orange juice, soy sauce, and brown sugars. Whisk until the sugar has dissolved. Now don't get your undies in a twist, because this should only take a couple of minutes.

2. Place trimmed chicken breasts in a prepared baking dish and pour marinade over chicken.

3. Arrange pineapple over chicken and sprinkle with brown sugar. Feel free to add a dash of cinnamon if you'd like; I fully support those who like to shake things up in the kitchen. For me, shaking things up usually involves a whole lot of arm waddle, so you know, I prefer to exercise my lot of creativity when the cucina is free of onlookers.

4. Allow to marinate for as long as you can stand. I allowed mine to chill out for about two hours.

4. Bake at 350' for 20-30 minutes, depending on how thick your breasts are cut. Don't be scared to perform a little plastic surgery and cut into the boobies. Remember, bigger isn't always better. Except of course, in the case of chocolate confections.
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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Harry Potter's Treacle Pudding

In addition to whipping up a Shepherd's Pie to enjoy during the second Harry Potter movie, I also made a Treacle Pudding, which if you remember correctly, was the last thing that Mrs. Weasley made for her clan of gingers + Harry before they began their second journey to Hogwarts.

Now, this pudding is much different that the pudding that Americans are used to. I'm willing to bet that you probably think of Bill Cosby when you hear the word "pudding", and you probably remember licking the beaters from the electric hand mixer that your grandma used when she decided to bang out a treat that was sure to put a smile on your four-year-old Popsicle-stained face. Well let me tell you, my friends, this is nothing like that. It's actually more like a cake, but the difference between this and a cake is that it's more dense and it doesn't develop a crust on the edges due to the fact that it's steamed. You'll just have to see and taste for yourself.

I have to say that I was a bit skeptical about this pudding because it doesn't look like a very flavorful recipe, but my fears were abolished after taking the first bite. It wasn't nearly as rich as the luscious chocolate desserts to which I've become accustomed to eating, but rather, it was refreshing. Also, don't let the method scare you. It looks like a lot of steps, but it's actually really easy. I'll admit that I almost scrapped the idea because I was intimidated by placing a dish in boiling water and allowing it to steam my dessert to perfection. I'm so glad I didn't run for the hills!

Ingredients:
1 1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt (you make think this is a trivial amount, but you'll be sorry if you forgo adding it!)
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup golden syrup (Golden syrup can be found at Stop & Shop next to the Karo syrup. If you can't find this, try using light molasses.)
1 egg + 1 yolk
Zest of one lemon
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/3 cup milk (I used whole, but I'm sure you could get away with skim)
Extra golden syrup for serving.

Method:
1. First and foremost, obtain a glass bowl with a lid. I used a 7 quart Pyrex one with a red rubber lid and it worked out just fine. Now grease and flour it.

2. Bring a pot that's larger than the bowl (in width and height) to a boil. Be sure that there is enough water to completely cover the bowl once you've placed it in. Do not place the bowl in yet.

3. In a large bowl, beat eggs, sugar, and butter until the mixture becomes thick. This should take about 5 minutes. If you've melted your butter and it never gets thick, don't worry... it'll still be fine.

4. Beat in lemon juice, and lemon zest.

5. In another bowl, combine flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Mix together.

6. Alternately add milk and flour to your existing batter bowl. Make sure you're scraping the bowl with a spatula and whatnot.  Haven't you heard of the No Flour Left Behind Act?

7. Pour 1/4 cup of golden syrup into the glass bowl. Then pour the batter into the bowl. Put the lid on.

8. VERY carefully, place the bowl in the pot of boiling water. Turn the temperature down and put the lid on the pot and let the pudding simmer for about an hour and fifteen minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

9. Drizzle additional golden syrup over each slice when serving. Pin It

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Award- Winning Lemon Squares

No joke, my friends... these really are award-winning. In fact, when I was a mere Brownie Girl Scout, I entered a bake-off with these little gems, and happened to walk out with a blue ribbon! My seven year old self was so thrilled about this triumph, that I swore that I would never forget the recipe that earned me the right to brag to EVERYONE I know for years to come. I'm happy to report that I have yet to let anyone forget that I am a blue-ribbon baker.

So what's so special about this recipe that it deserves its own space on my blog? Well other than the fact that a panel of experienced judges deemed it to be absolutely divine, it does look rather cute when presented on a platter. What else is awesome about this dessert is that it's a no-bake recipe, which I continue to grow increasingly fond of as the seasonal temperatures steadily rise.

Since the onset of summer, I have developed quite an affinity for no-bake desserts. As someone who thoroughly enjoys baking, this comes as a shock to me, too, but who can resist whipping up something amazing without developing massive stains in the axillary region? Certainly not me.

Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups Nilla wafer crumbs (this is equal to one box)
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
1 box instant lemon pudding
8 oz cream cheese, brought to room temperature
2 cups whole milk

Method:
1. Make Nilla wafer crumbs by placing whole cookies in either a blender or a food processor. Once you have all of your crumbs, pour them into a bowl of melted butter. As previously stated in the "ingredients" section of this recipe, make sure it's unsalted. If you try to be slick and use salted, please don't tell anyone that you got the recipe from my blog.

2. Press crumbs into a 9 x 13 baking pan. If you have the time (and I strongly recommend that you do), put your crumb-filled pan in the fridge for about an hour.

3. In a large bowl, combine the milk, pudding mix, and cream cheese. A word to the wise: Make sure the cream cheese has been brought to room temperature and therefore softened before attempting to blend into the milk and pudding. Otherwise, your mixture will be rather lumpy regardless of how long you used the hand mixer to whip it into shape.

4. After you have used your hand mixer to blend the ingredients, pour over the chilled cookie crumbs. Smooth evenly with a spatula and make a very fancy design, such as the silhouette of an ancient raptor skeleton. If you don't think it's possible to make pudding art, I challenge you to try.

5. Let your masterpiece kick it old school in the fridge for a few hours before serving.

** You could very easily turn this into a pie... just an idea for those of you who think you're above serving rectangles. Pin It

Friday, August 3, 2012

Not Your Mama's Shepherd's Pie

It's likely that I am the last person on Earth to read the Harry Potter series, but I'm finally getting around to it, and am actually finding the books to be kind of exciting. So last night in an effort to embrace my budding Potter-inspired nerdiness, my lover and I decided to watch The Chamber of Secrets while indulging in a few recipes from the HP cookbook. We decided to make only dishes that were featured in the second book, which corny as it sounds, was actually pretty awesome. We made Treacle Pudding and Shepherd's Pie. Now, I assume that everyone who lives in the United States has eaten Shepherd's Pie at least once, but I can almost guarantee that you've never had it like this before! It's a bit more work than the traditional beef-corn-potato dish, but the extra effort is well worth it!

If you want to take the easy way out and use instant potatoes, go ahead, but it definitely won't taste the same. However, as someone who believes in eating home-cooked meals as much as possible, I'd rather see you go to town with potato flakes than to catch you dining at your neighborhood Burger King. You may not be aware of this, but you can eat like a "king" even in the comfort of your own home. You can even wear this to complete the experience. Just make sure you send me a picture.

Anyway, without further ado, I present an awesome recipe for Shepherd's Pie that will knock your socks straight into the hands of poor, self-injurious Dobby.

Ingredients:
1 1/2 lbs ground animal (I used a 20 oz package of ground turkey, and it was perfect)
1 small onion, chopped
2 tbsp oil
1 large carrot, chopped
1 cup chicken stock (I ghettofied this recipe by using a bouillon cube)
2 tbsp tomato paste
1-2 cloves garlic
Potatoes, chopped (I used about ten smallish ones that come in a 5 lb bag, but in the end, your amount of potatoes should be about equal to three russet potatoes)
3/4 cup milk
1 stick butter (yeah, it's a lot, but whatevs!)
1/4 tsp garlic powder (or to taste)
2 tsp salt
pepper to taste

Method:
1. Preheat oven to 350'. Prepare a deep 9 x 9 dish with non-stick spray.

2. Boil potatoes.

3. In one pan, brown whatever form of ground beast you choose.

4. In the meantime in another pan, saute the onions and garlic in 2 tbsp oil.

5. After about five minutes, when the onions begin to look semi-transparent, add tomato paste, chicken stock, and carrot. Allow to simmer for about 10 minutes or so. The carrots should begin to get soft and the sauce should begin to thicken.

6. Add meat to vegetable mixture and once combined, spread in the bottom of pan.

7. When the potatoes are done (I expect you know when to stop boiling potatoes), drain them. Return to pan, and add butter, milk, garlic, salt, and pepper. Use a hand mixer to free them of cellulite-looking lumps. Sigh... If only a hand mixer would solve that problem on my thighs. Cellulitis disappearus! Ugh... it's tough being a Muggle.

8. Spread potatoes over meat mixture and bake for 35-45 minutes.

9. Use a memory charm to banish your old recipe for Shepherd's Pie from your mind. Pin It