Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Best Brownies

Check out Kitchen Addiction for my favorite brownie recipe. I will never make brownies from a box again.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Pumpkin Stuffed with Everything Good

Try this dish! My friend Caroline passed it along to me from the NPR web site. It is super easy, but looks fantastic on the table. Like the title says, you just stuff it and bake it. The recipe says it serves two very generous portions. I served it as a side dish and I would say it serves 4.

Sunday, November 7, 2010


The first person to ever teach me to make salsa was Xochi's Granny. I love her and Grampy. I couldn't figure out why in the world they wanted to stay in a hotel when they came to visit instead of at Melville Manor with us. I love how on Sunday they said, "It's so cute how every one walks to church carrying their little satchels." Granny gave really good hugs. Soft hugs that made you just want to stay there for a while. I'm honored that I got to spend time in the kitchen with her. Even if it was the M2 kitchen with really really really dirty floors.

Since then, I've turned into a bit of a salsa snob. Once I figured out how easy it is to make delicious salsa, I couldn't bring myself to snack on the store brands any more. So here's all you need to know about salsa: it contains 6 ingredients: tomatoes, onions, cilantro, lime, salt, and some type of pepper. Once you start making salsa, you can adjust it how you like. Here's a recipe to start from:

1/4 of a red onion, chopped
2 T cilantro, chopped
1 t salt
1-2 limes
1 jalapeno pepper, chopped
1 can diced tomatoes

Pulse the first 5 ingredients in a small food processor (or just blend in a blender, or if you like salsa chunky, you can just chop all of the ingredients). Add tomatoes and pulse until salsa reaches the desired consistency.

I usually use a chipotle pepper (you can find them canned in the grocery store, packed in adobo sauce) in place of a jalapeno pepper. I also sometimes use one minced garlic clove in the salsa.

If you want to make pico de gallo, you use the same recipe, but use fresh chopped tomatoes instead.

Pineapple Salsa Chicken

Ward cookbooks. I love 'em. Unfortunately, when you live in a ward like mine, chances are you don't know who the heck half of the people in the book are because they've moved. So thank you Valeria Saunders, wherever you are. And thank you Teri, for tipping me off. I just recently started making this, but it's already passed the "make it twice" rule I have about posting a recipe on here.

This is a crock pot pot recipe (slightly modified) that makes a great burrito filling. But I'll be honest with you. I usually just bust out a bag of chips and the whole family goes at it. Go ahead, judge me.

3 to 4 chicken breasts
1 (20 oz) can crushed pineapple (undrained)
2 cans black beans, drained
1 (24 oz) jar salsa

Place the chicken in the crock pot and add the rest of the ingredients. Cook on LOW for 6 to 8 hours. Shred chicken and mix back in with the rest of the ingredients.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Marinara Sauce

I want to be a gardener. I really really do. And one day I will be, but today is not that day my friends. Luckily, until that day comes, I have my friend Kirsten, who lets us pretend we are helping when we show up to her garden, and who blesses me with beautiful ripe tomatoes that I use for salsa, BLTs, panini, salads, and now this. Kirsten's mom's recipe for fresh marinara sauce. If you've never had fresh marinara sauce, I'm telling you, this is the time to try it out. Of course it's delicious on pasta, but I think I most like it on roasted garlic bread. A warning though, once you start, it's hard to stop.

6 or 7 lbs of tomatoes
1 1/2 lb chopped onions
1 bulb of garlic
2 12 oz. can tomato paste
1/2 cup cooking oil
1/4 cup Kosher salt
1/4 c sugar
3 T brown sugar
1 t oregano
1 t basil
1 t parsley

Blanch and peel the tomatoes. Chop the tomatoes and set aside.

Saute onions and garlic in a large pot. Add the rest of the ingredients, bring to a boil, turn down heat and let simmer for 2-3 hours.

Puree half the mixture in a blender and then add back into original pot.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Raspberry Cheesecake Brownies

You're going to want to try these. I've made them three different times and they're always a big hit. I found them at Kayotic Kitchen. I think she uses frozen raspberries, but I use fresh and I love how they turn out.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Grilled Vegetable Panini with Herbed Feta Spread

I've been waiting and waiting for sumer to come so I could share with you my favorite panini.
That's right, favorite.

Grilled Vegetable Panini with Herbed Feta Spread
Adapted from KRUPS cookbook

2 small zuchini, sliced horizontally into 1/2 inch thick slices
1 roasted red pepper (you can roast it yourself, or buy it in a jar), sliced
1 red onion, sliced into 1/2 inch thick slices
2 portabello mushroom caps, stems trimmed
olive oil
2 T balsamic vinegar
1 T soy sauce
salt and pepper
4 ciabatta rolls (or 8 slices crusty sandwich bread)
herbed feta spread (recipe follows)

Preheat panini grill to medium high. Drizzle soy sauce, balsamic vinegar and 1 T olive oil over mushrooms. Let the mushrooms marinate while you grill the other vegetables. Grill the mushrooms last. Brush zucchini and onion slices evenly with olive oil, then season with salt and pepper. Place on hot grill and leaving the grill open, cook until browned and tender, about 4 minutes per side for zucchini, 6 minutes per side for the onion, and 8 minutes per side for the mushrooms. Remove from grill and let cool. Cut the onion rings in half.

Reduce panini grill to medium. Lay out bread, spread bottom with herbed feta spread, and layer with zucchini, onion, mushroom and red pepper. Spread second bread slice with feta spread and place on top of sandwich, feta side down. Brush both sides of sandwich evenly and generously with olive oil, and grill, about 10 minutes. Repeat process with remaining ingredients to make additional sandwiches. Slice and serve warm.

Herbed Feta Spread:
1/4 c cream cheese, room temp
1/4 c sour cream
4 ounces feta cheese, room temp
1 t fresh lemon juice
6 leaves fresh basil, minced
1 T chopped fresh chives
1/4 t dried oregano
1/4 t salt
1/4 t coarse ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mash together using a fork until well mixed. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Smokey Beef Tacos

Happy Cinco de Mayo! Here's my recommendation for tonight. Thank you Martha Stewart. The rice and bean dish isn't my favorite though. I substitute it with this recipe, minus the chicken.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Chocolate Zebra Cheesecake

I made my first cheesecake. I'm quite proud of myself. My mom got this from her friend Kathy (remember the stacked enchiladas...?) and has made it several times, but since I'm a little intimidated by baking, I've never attempted it until now.

I would recommend making this recipe a day ahead. It just takes a lot of time and I don't want to see you sending your husband home in the middle of church so he can put it in the fridge so it has enough time to cool before dinner. 'Cause I would never do that.

Let's get started, shall we?

1 1/2 c chocolate wafer crumbs (about 30 wafers)
3 T butter, melted
1/2 c (3 0z) semi sweet chocolate chips

4 8oz pkg cream cheese, softened
1 1/4 c sugar
3 T cornstarch
1/4 t salt
5 large eggs
8 oz sour cream
2 t vanilla extract
1 c whipping cream
8 oz semi sweet chocolate (if you like dark chocolate you can use up to 12 oz)
8 oz white chocolate

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9" spring form pan. Mix chocolate wafer crumbs and butter; firmly press onto bottom of spring form pan for crust. Bake 12-15 minutes. Remove crust from oven; sprinkle 1/2 cup chocolate chips over hot crust. Let stand for several minutes until chocolate pieces soften, spread softened chocolate evenly over crust (if you can get it to spread evenly, don't worry about it, just leave it as is). Refrigerate while preparing filling.

In a large bowl, with mixer at medium speed, beat cream cheese until light and fluffy. In small bowl, mix sugar, cornstarch and salt; gradually beat into cream cheese until blended with mixer at low speed. Gradually beat in eggs, sour cream, vanilla and 1 cup heavy cream until bleded and smooth. Divide batter evenly into 2 containers with pouring spout.

In small saucepan over low heat, melt 8 oz semisweet chocolate. In another small saucepan over very low heat, melt white chocolate. Stir melted semisweet chocolate into batter in one container and stir melted white chocolate into batter in second measuring cup.

To create Zebra design, pour 1/2 of dark batter into spring form pan. Holding white batter about 2 feet above pan, pour about 1/2 batter directly into center of dark batter (pouring at this height will cause batter in the center of the cake to be bushed toward the edge of the pan, forming zebra or bull's eye design). Repeat procedure 3 times, decreasing the amounts of batter each time and pouring from high about pan only into center, ending with white batter.

Bake cheesecake 30 minutes. Turn oven down to 225 and bake 1 hour and 45 minutes longer or until center is set. Turn off oven, let cheesecake remain in oven 1 hour. Remove cheesecake from oven. Run knife around edge of cake to loosen from side of pan. Cool cake in pan on wire rack. Refrigerate cheesecake at least 6 hours.

Raspberry Topping
12 oz. pkg frozen raspberries, thawed
3/4 cup sugar
1 t lemon juice

Puree raspberries. Separate the seeds by pushing puree through a strainer. Combine puree (without seeds), sugar and lemon juice in a small saucepan. Heat on medium until sugar is disolved.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Fruit Salsa

I found a new food blog. I can't remember how I got there, but after just a few minutes I found two recipes that I had lined up to post in the near future. So instead of going to the work of making them again, taking pictures and writing about it... I'll let Our Best Bites do the work for me. If you like my blog, I really recommend pursuing their site. I've never found a food blog so similar to my own tastes. Needless to say, I'm a big fan.

Okay, first, Sweet Fruit Salsa with Cinnamon Chips. I got the recipe from my sister-in-law Amy. We used kiwi, apples, blackberries, and strawberries. Then we used 2 Tb white sugar and 1 Tb brown sugar. As for the Cinnamon Chips, they are great. However, if you're in a hurry, just pick up some Stacy's Cinnamon Pita Chips at the grocery store and you're set. They taste great.

Toffee Apple Dip

A quick shout out to Jana S for introducing me to this sinful dip. She has a habit of pushing delicious, fattening recipes my way while she stays a size 2.

This dip is like crack. You just can't stop coming back for more. I recently served this at an event and it was by far the most requested recipe. So for all those requests, here you go:

1 pkg. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 pkg. toffee bits (you can find these by the chocolate chips at the grocery store)

Combine cream cheese and sugars. Fold in most of the toffee bits and then sprinkle what's left on top. Serve with apple slices and prepare to be harassed for the recipe all night long!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Chocolate Coconut Toffee Delights

I call this a conversion recipe. Previously, I was never a fan of chocolate cookies. However, when my mom came home from Australia and made these for me, I couldn't stop eating them. And neither can anyone else.

I also like it because any recipe that sticks "Delight" at the end of the title makes me smile.

1/2 c flour
1/4 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
1/4 c butter, cut in small pieces
1 12 oz. pkg. semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided
3/4 c packed light brown sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 t vanilla
1 1/2 c flaked coconut
1 c English toffee baking bits (if you can't find them, you can chop up Heath or Skor bars)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Combine flour, baking powder and salt in small bowl; set aside. Place 1 cup of chocolate chips in microwavable bowl and melt, stirring well. Add butter to chocolate; stir until melted. Beat in brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla with wooden spoon until well blended. Beat in flour mixture until blended. Stir in coconut, toffe bits and remaining 1 cup chocolate chips. Drop spoonfuls of dough onto prepared cookie sheet. Flatten with rubber spatula. Bake 10 minutes or until edges are just firm to the touch. Cool cookies on cookie sheet two minutes; slide parchment paper and cookies onto countertop. Cool completely.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

All About the Sweet Potatoes, Baby.

Do you ever create a meal just so you have an excuse to make the side dish? That's what this post is. Don't get me wrong, the chicken and the salad are great, but do yourself a favor and go straight to the sweet potatoes.


Crunch Almond Chicken

These Crunch Almond Chicken cutlets are adapted from a recipe my mom got from her friend Karen Rees - a major contributer to Delsa's popular collection of recipes.

1 c fresh bread crumbs
1 c blanched slivered (sliced works too) almonds, toasted and finely chopped
2 T chopped parsley
1/2 t ground ginger
1/4 t salt
1/8 t pepper
12 chicken tenderloins
1 c italian dressing

Marinate chicken in italian dressing over night or for at least 4 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In medium bowl, combine bread crumbs, almonds, parsly, ginger, salt and pepper. Dip chicken in bread crumb mixture, coating well.

Arrange chicken in a large shallow baking dish. Bake uncovered 20 minutes or until done.

Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes

These sweet potatoes are the real reason I started blogging again. When you taste something this good, you have to share it with the world. Or cyberspace at least. What I love about this recipe is that it is savory. So often we just put some form of sugar all over sweet potatoes and call it good. I'm not opposed to that mind you, but it's nice to change it up a little.

I got this recipe from Aunt Jeanene of lemon ricotta pancake fame. She said it originally comes from Martha Stewart, but you can't find it on the web site. I've only made it a couple of times, but I've already had two people declare that this version as converted them to sweet potatoes. Try it!

1 1/2 to 2 pounds sweet potatoes
4 ounces smoked bacon, diced
2 T dark brown sugar
3 T unsalted butter, softened
2 shallots, minced
1 t minced fresh rosemary, plus more for garnish
1 large egg
2 T heavy cream
2 ounces Gruyere cheese, finely grated, plus more for garnish
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place the sweet potatoes on a parchment-lined baking sheet; bake until tender when pierced with a paring knife, about 45 minutes. Remove from oven; let cool slightly.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil; fit with a wire rack. Arrange bacon strips on rack and sprinkle with brown sugar. Cook until well glazed and crisp, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from oven; let cool slightly and roughly chop. Set aside.

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Add shallots; saute until soft and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add rosemary and cook 1 minute more. Remove from heat, and set aside. Slice each potato in half lengthwise. Carefully scoop out flesh, leaving about a 1/4 inch border all around potato halves; place halves on a baking sheet, and set aside.

Place potato flesh in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add remaining 2 tablespoons butter, reserved shallot mixture, egg, cream and Gruyere. Mix well until combined.

**Note** I don't save the skins, I just put the sweet potato mixture in a baking pan and cook it as it is.

Season with salt and pepper. Transfer mixture to a pastry bag fitted with a star tip; pipe into reserved halves.

Bake until golden, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven; garnish with Gruyere, rosemary and reserved bacon.

Serves 6

PW's Spinach Salad

I love the Pioneer Woman's spinach salad because she sautes the onions and mushrooms.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Look What I Found

I haven't been posting anything for a year, but that doesn't mean I haven't been trying lots of dishes from other blogs. Here are a few weeknight meals that have become favorites in our house.

Spinach Chicken and Pasta Salad with Teriyaki Viniagrette

This recipe makes a ton. It's a perfect one dish meal if you want to bring someone dinner. You can bring half to their family and save half for yours.

I guess I should point out that my family consists of a husband who is never home for dinner and two children who won't eat anything I make. So your family may eat a little more than mine :) I'd say it serves 6-8 adults.

Spaghetti with Artichoke Hearts and Tomatoes

I love that Pioneer Woman. What's great about this recipe is that besides the cream, I've always got these ingredients in my pantry.

Red Chile Chicken and Rice with Beans

I think this recipe is best served with a scoop of salsa and a dollop of sour cream.

Buffalo Wing Pizza Roll Up

Abram found this recipe online and requested it for his birthday. I'm a sucker for buffalo wing sauce so I was all over this. I had a little trouble getting the inside of the rolls cooked through, so I recommend making it as a calzone instead of a roll up. Last time I made them I just picked up some ready made dough from Trader Joe's and it was super easy.