Archive | February, 2012

Stir Fried Orange Shrimp

29 Feb

Stir Fried Orange ShrimpJoel and I always give up something for Lent. It ranges from soda to chips to sweets…pretty much anything revolving around food. After watching Forks Over Knives, a documentary focusing on the positive health aspects of removing meat and animal products from your diet, Joel thought of the idea of giving up meat for Lent. I wasn’t so sure. That is hard. And it was very surprising to hear him suggest it as he is a huge carnivore and pouts if we have a meal without meat, poultry or seafood. After much thought, Joel decided to give up all meat and poultry but would allow himself to eat seafood. I personally am not a huge fan of seafood so I decided to eat chicken (and maybe the occasional shrimp), but no other poultry or meat.

I have been on the search for vegetarian meals and seafood recipes (that could also be translated to chicken for my dinner). One of the first recipes I tried was this Stir Fried Orange Shrimp. It was sweet and spicy and fairly simple to prepare for a weeknight meal. And for not really caring for seafood, I actually enjoyed this quite a bit (although it would be even tastier with chicken in my opinion…but I love me some chicken). I would love any suggestions for recipe ideas, especially lunch stuff! Our first week has gone well. Here’s to hoping we don’t eat cheesy pasta for 40 days!
Stir Fried Orange Shrimp

Stir Fried Orange Shrimp
recipe from myrecipes.com

1 1/2 pounds peeled and deveined large shrimp
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon chile paste with garlic (such as sambal oelek)
2 tablespoons canola oil tablespoon
minced peeled fresh ginger
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup chopped green onions

1. Place shrimp in a medium bowl. Sprinkle with cornstarch; toss well to coat. Set aside.

2. Combine juice, soy sauce, honey, vinegar, and chile paste, stirring with a whisk; set aside.

3. Heat canola oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add minced ginger and garlic to pan; stir-fry for 15 seconds or until fragrant. Add shrimp mixture; stir-fry for 3 minutes. Add juice mixture and onions; cook 2 minutes or until sauce thickens and shrimp are done, stirring frequently. Serve immediately.

Recipe linked to Mangia Monday, Totally Tasty Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday, Tempt My Tummy Tuesday, Cast Party Wednesday, Full Plate Thursday and Fusion Friday.

Balsamic Chicken Pasta Salad

27 Feb

I kind of have an addiction to pasta salad (well any pasta really if we are being honest here) and this is one of the best ones I have ever made. I love balsamic vinegar and the combination of it with all the other ingredients was just amazing. It was really fresh and bright and felt lighter than a lot of other recipes I have tried in the past.

While this is really great for a summer barbeque side dish, I still really enjoy it in the winter as a meal served with a simple green salad. The chicken, bacon and veggies make it filling and satisfying. I recommend making this the night before so that all the flavors can meld and come together. If you do this, I would wait until serving to mix in the gorgonzola and parmesan cheeses so that they don’t get soggy or mushy.

You have to give this a try! It is so yummy!

Balsamic Chicken Pasta Salad
recipe from Taste of Home

3 cups uncooked bow tie pasta
4 cups cubed cooked chicken breast (I shredded a rotisserie chicken)
2 cups chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped red onion
4 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled
1/4 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup minced fresh basil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and rinse in cold water; transfer to a large bowl. Add the chicken, tomatoes, onion, bacon and Gorgonzola cheese.

2. In a small bowl, whisk the oil, basil, vinegar, brown sugar, garlic, salt and pepper. Drizzle over salad and toss to coat; sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Yield: 8 servings.

Buffalo Chicken Dip

24 Feb

Buffalo Chicken Dip
I could absolutely eat this dip with a spoon. Yep, might have done it. This was the perfect dip for the Super Bowl party we hosted. If you enjoy chicken wings you will totally love this dip. And it couldn’t be easier to prepare, all you do is mix it up and bake it. Once it was baked, I put it into the crockpot on the warm setting. Not that I needed to because it disappeared before it would have had time to cool down. So so good.
Buffalo Chicken Dip

Buffalo Chicken Dip
recipe from Frank’s Redhot

8 oz. pkg.cream cheese, softened (I used 1/3 less fat)
1/2 cup blue cheese or ranch salad dressing
1/2 cup hot sauce (they of course state Frank’s Redhot but we prefer Louisiana Hot Sauce)
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese or shredded mozzarella cheese
2 cans (12.5 oz. each) White Premium Chunk Chicken Breast in Water, drained

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Place cream cheese into deep baking dish. Stir until smooth.

2. Mix in salad dressing, Frank’s RedHot Sauce and cheese. Stir in chicken.

3. Bake 20 min. or until mixture is heated through; stir. Garnish as desired. Serve with crackers, chips or vegetables.

Recipe linked to Mangia Monday,Totally Tasty Tuesday, Tempt My Tummy Tuesday, Cast Party Wednesday, What I Whipped Up Wednesday and Full Plate Thursday.

Sweet Cornbread

22 Feb

This is my go to cornbread recipe to accompany any soup, chili or southern meal. It has an amazing sweetness that my whole family just adores. The best way to cook cornbread is in a heavy, cast iron skillet. It adds a crispy crust that is just amazing (be sure to preheat your skillet before placing the batter in it).

Sweet Cornbread
recipe from Food.com

1 1/2 cups flour
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups milk
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 cup oil
3 tablespoons butter or 3 tablespoons margarine, melted

1. Preheat oven to 350°F Grease 8-inch square baking pan or cast iron skillet.
2. Combine flour, sugar, corn meal, baking powder and salt in medium bowl. Combine milk, eggs, oil and butter in small bowl and mix well. Add to flour mixture and stir just until blended.
3. Pour into baking pan or skillet. Bake for 35 minutes or until wooden pick comes out clean.
4. For corn muffins, spoon batter into muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until wooden pick comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pans.

Recipe linked to Totally Tasty Tuesday, Tempt My Tummy Tuesday, Cast Party Wednesday, Full Plate Thursday and Fusion Friday.

Lasagna Cupcakes

20 Feb

Lasagna Cupcakes

I have had this recipe bookmarked on my computer for quite awhile now and I just finally got around to making them recently. The big push to make them was when my aunt sent me pictures of the ones she made for dinner one night. She had me convinced and I couldn’t get them out of my mind.

What I love most about this recipe is that you can have a lasagna meal without all the work and time that a traditional lasagna takes.

I got mixed reviews on these though. I loved the crispy edges and the uniqueness of the wonton with the rest of the ingredients. Joel thought they were good but prefers actual noodles over the wonton wrappers. Though they don’t taste exactly like a lasagna, they were pretty darn close and a great alternative for a quick weeknight dinner.

Lasagna Cupcakes
recipe adapted from Cruftbox

24 wonton wrappers
Jar of spaghetti sauce
½ lb. ground beef or Italian sausage
12 pepperoni’s
¾ cup part-skim ricotta cheese
½ – 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1. Spray muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray then press down a wonton into each cup. You can cut the wontons into circles if you do not like the crispy edges.

2. Place a spoonful of spaghetti sauce into each cup then place ground beef/Italian sausage into cups next (you probably won’t use the whole ½ lb. of meat). Place a pepperoni on top then a tablespoon of ricotta. Sprinkle with mozzarella.

3. Place another wonton on top of each muffin cup then layer with more sauce and top with more mozzarella. Bake at 375 degrees F for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Easy King Cake

17 Feb

Easy King Cake
I was recently looking through my Top 100 and realized that I had a King Cake listed. Considering that Mardi Gras is the time to make a King Cake I figured I better jump on that train before it’s too late and I have to wait a whole year.  It is traditional to make king cakes between January 6th (Twelfth Night) and Fat Tuesday. When making the cake, a small plastic baby, a coin or dried bean are hidden and whoever gets the slice with the trinket will have good luck. Make sure to warn those eating the cake to be on the lookout!

I have never made or eaten a King Cake so I had a bit of a difficult time choosing a recipe since many of them vary quite a bit. Should I go with a cinnamon filling, one with citron or a cream cheese? My final decision factored on the ease of the recipe. For Valentine’s Day I made cinnamon rolls and I didn’t really feel like dealing with a yeast dough twice in a week. Therefore, I went with a recipe that starts with crescent roll dough and has cinnamon and cream cheese fillings.
Easy King Cake

The recipe calls for coloring the glaze the traditional green, purple and yellow of Mardi Gras but I wanted to stick with the colored sugar to really make the colors stand out. So after drizzling the glaze on the cake I simply sprinkled the cake with sugar that I colored myself. To make colored sugar, place 1/4 cup sugar in a plastic bag then place a very small amount of gel coloring in with it. Seal the bag then mash and mix until it is thouroughly distributed.

This “cake” is more of a sweet bread or pastry. The crescent dough gave a light, flaky texture which was really yummy with the silky cream cheese and sugary cinnamon fillings. Plus, it only took about 5-10 minutes to put together so from start to finish it was about 30 minutes for a yummy little treat.
Easy King Cake

King Cake with Cream Cheese Filling
recipe from Taste of Home

2 tubes (8 ounces each) refrigerated reduced-fat crescent rolls
4 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese
2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup light brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter, softened
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon

ICING:
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 to 2 tablespoons 2% milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Red, blue, yellow and green food coloring or purple, green and yellow sugars

1. Unroll both tubes of crescent dough and separate into triangles. Place triangles on a greased 12-in. pizza pan, forming a ring with pointed ends facing toward the center and wide ends overlapping. Lightly press wide ends together.

2. In a small bowl, beat the cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar and vanilla until smooth. Spoon over wide ends of ring. In another bowl, stir the brown sugar, butter and cinnamon until crumbly. Sprinkle over cream cheese mixture.

3. Fold points over filling and fold wide ends over points. Bake at 350° for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool for 5 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, combine the confectioners’ sugar, vanilla and enough milk to achieve desired consistency. Divide icing among three bowls. Using red and blue food coloring, tint one portion purple. Tint another portion yellow and the remaining portion green. Drizzle over cake. Or drizzle the white frosting over the cake then sprinkle with colored sugars. Serve warm. Yield: 16 servings.

One Pot Brownies + My New {Bad} Addiction

15 Feb

Ulta is evil and so is my friend Molly (well, ok the Molly part isn’t true). But that is what I told Joel when he is wondered why I bought all this stuff. It was her idea to go so it’s her fault. Just saying.

We went to check out the store as it had just opened and we had never been to one before. We asked about face primers then all of a sudden I had all this stuff in my bag.
Ulta

It all happened so fast…. I just wanted the face primer and ended up with that along with eye shadow, eye liner, blush and lip gloss. It was only $5 more for the whole kit. What’s a girl to do?
Ulta

And it doesn’t take any talking into to for me to leave a place with OPI nail polish. I’m a total nail polish snob and OPI is all I buy. And who could resist their new shattered polish? I couldn’t.Nail Polish

Well, after our little trip I haven’t been able to stop thinking about the store and all the lovely things I left behind so that I could “appear” practical. I have to go back…soon. Joel might not let me leave the house if he knows my plan. Because my plan might involve spending all the grocery money on amazing, ridiculously priced beauty products.

So if you have a similar problem to mine, make these brownies. It will make you feel better about spending all your grocery money on makeup and nail polish and you probably already have all the ingredients on hand. They are rich and thick and super chocolate-y…everything you want in a brownie! Plus, they only dirty up one pot and stirring utensil so you don’t have to ruin that pretty little manicure you gave yourself washing a bunch of dishes.
One Pot Brownies

One Pot Brownies

3/4 cup cocoa
3/4 cup shortening
2 1/4 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans, optional

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 13×9 pan. Melt shortening over low heat then stir in cocoa. Remove from heat.

2. Mix in sugar, vanilla and eggs, one at a time. Stir in nuts. Spread evenly into prepare pan and bake for about 30 minutes.
One Pot Brownies

Recipe linked to These Chicks Cooked, Mangia Monday, Tasty Tuesday, Totally Tasty TuesdayTempt My Tummy Tuesday and Full Plate Thursday.

Funfetti Cake Balls

13 Feb

If you’ve never consumed a cake ball you must go out and buy the ingredients now. I mean, it’s only 4 ingredients (3 if you don’t want to get all fancy with sprinkles). These would be the perfect, cute little treat for your loves on Valentine’s Day.

I chose to do funfetti this time around because it makes the cake balls undeniably cute and pretty darn irresistible. Biting into them and seeing all those sprinkles is so fun. Who doesn’t love sprinkles?

There are so many different flavor options and combinations for cake balls so mix it up if you want! The sky is the limit! I think these combo’s would be delish: chocolate cake with coconut pecan frosting dipped in dark chocolate, strawberry cake with strawberry frosting dipped in white or dark chocolate, lemon cake with cream cheese frosting dipped in white chocolate, red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting dipped in chocolate. If you really want to be an overachiever, you could make homemade cake and frosting. That was just too much work for me with the freezing required but if you have the ambition, go for it!

Funfetti Cake Balls

1 box Funfetti Cake mix + required ingredients on box
1 canister vanilla frosting
1 bag red or pink candy melts (or any color if you aren’t making them for Valentine’s Day or chocolate)
Sprinkles of choice

1. Prepare and bake cake according to box directions. Allow to cool completely.

2. Crumble cake and discard any brown or crispy edges. Mix cake crumbs with entire canister of frosting. Place mixture into refrigerator for 2-3 hours.

3. Roll cake mixture into uniform sized balls (I used my cookie scoop which is probably about 2 tablespoons). Place on wax paper then freeze for 1 hour.

4. Melt candy melts in microwave according to directions on bag. Dip cake balls in the candy melts and place on wax paper. Quickly sprinkle with sprinkles before they harden. Enjoy!

Butterfinger Truffles

12 Feb

Making truffles is a messy business. I could never be a chocolatier. I hate getting messy and dirty, even in the name of food. Luckily, this handy mini cookie scoop that I received for Christmas was just perfect for my truffle scooping needs. I’m pretty sure a light shone on it as I opened my messy utensil drawer in search of my melon baller.Butterfinger Truffles

I scooped out the chocolate with it and dumped it on the wax paper. Mind you they weren’t perfectly round but I thought that was ok because it made them look homemade. I can sacrifice looks a bit to keep my hands gunk free. Butterfinger Truffles

But I didn’t totallly think this through. Because after they were chilled there was the business of dipping them in chocolate. Darn. That lead to messy chocolatey hands. But it was worth it because they were so good and I don’t even care for truffles all that much. Butterfinger Truffles

The outside is hardened and has a nice crunch while the inside is soft and creamy with bits of butterfingers running throughout. The perfect treat for your valentine!

Butterfinger Truffles
Butterfinger Truffles
recipe from Recipe Girl

Yield: About 40 small truffles
Prep Time: 45 min + chill time
Cook Time: 4 min

5 ounces semisweet chocolate (not exceeding 61% cacao), chopped
1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
3/4 cup chopped Butterfinger candy bars (about 4 ounces)
additional chocolate for dipping/coating
additional chopped butterfingers and/or sprinkles for decor

1. Place chocolate and butter in a medium bowl. Bring cream to a boil by using a glass measuring cup in the microwave. Heat 1 to 1 1/2 minutes, or just until the cream begins to bubble. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate mixture. Let it stand for 1 minute, then stir until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Stir in chopped butterfingers. Cover and chill until this mixture is firm (at least 2 hours- and up to 24 hours).

2. Line a rimmed baking sheet with waxed paper. Using a small spoon or melon baller, scoop 3/4-inch balls from the firmed-up chocolate mixture. Roll the chocolate gently between your hands to form a ball. It will be sticky and messy. Place it on the prepared sheet. Continue rolling until you have used up all of the chocolate. Place the rolled balls back into the refrigerator to firm them up again (about an hour).

3. Melt some additional chocolate in a small bowl. I just used more of the semisweet chocolate that I used for the truffles. If you melt 1 1/2 cups at a time, that should work out fine. Melting in the microwave works great- just melt in bursts of 45 seconds, stopping after each burst to stir until all is melted and smooth.

4. Remove the chilled chocolate balls from the refrigerator. Use a small spoon to dip the chocolate ball into the melted chocolate. Use another spoon to help cover the ball entirely in a layer of chocolate, and then gently place the chocolate dipped ball onto the waxed paper. Immediately sprinkle chopped butterfingers or decorative sprinkles on top. Continue with remaining chocolate balls and decor.

5. These truffles are best if kept refrigerated until they are ready to serve. They’re not a great truffle for gifting in a box. When you bite into them, you will notice how delicate they are. They have a hard chocolate exterior, but when you bite into them the interior will melt right in your mouth. Butterfinger Truffles

Recipe linked to These Chicks Cooked, Mangia Monday, Tasty Tuesday, Totally Tasty Tuesday, Tempt My Tummy Tuesday and Full Plate Thursday.

Homemade Gumdrops

10 Feb

Yep, you heard me right. Homemade gumdrops. And it’s all thanks to Bakerella….she is a genius…go check out the site if you have never been, you will be amazed.

I have had this recipe bookmarked for awhile now and have just been waiting for the perfect time to give them a try. And what better time than Valentine’s Day? Those bright, sparkly cubes are just so cute packaged up and would be the perfect gift for kids and adults alike.
Gumdrops

These little gems involved quite a process to make and took about 3 full days to complete from start to finish but they turned out so darn cute and tasty. After reading what Bakerella had to say about these, I decided to spray disposable foil mini loaf pans with non-stick spray. I sliced each loaf 3 times vertically then cut the foil pan and peeled it off.
Gumdrops

From there, I placed the gumdrop strips on a sugared cutting board and finished cutting them into cubes.
Gumdrops

I decided to go with orange, lemon, raspberry and peppermint extracts to flavor my gumdrops and the orange was definitely my favorite. When making them, I wasn’t too sure how the peppermint would turn out but I was pleasantly surprised. It was nice and minty but not overpowering as I suspected it would be.
Gumdrops

They were softer and chewier than store-bought gumdrops. To be honest, I just thought these would be fun to make and I didn’t have too high of hopes for actually enjoying them but they were pretty darn delicious.
Gumdrops

As you can see, I didn’t really measure them to exactly 3/4-inches. I just cut them to approximately the same size then rolled them in sugar. After they dried for 2 days, I wrapped them up in clear cellophane bags and tied them up with a tag and sparkly ribbon.
Gumdrops

Homemade Gumdrops
recipe from Bakerella

4 Tbsp gelatin (that’s about 6 envelopes)
1 cup cold water
1 1/2 cups boiling water
4 cups sugar
1/4 tsp flavored extract
1-2 drops food coloring (I used four colors)
extra sugar for coating

1. In a large pot, soften gelatin in cold water for five minutes.

2. Stir in boiling water until gelatin dissolves.

3. Stir in sugar.

4. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and boil for 25 minutes. Stir constantly.

5. Pour mixture into 4 – 3X5 pans.

6. Add 1/4 tsp extract and 1-2 drops food color to each pan.

7. Stir until thoroughly combined.

8. Cover pan and chill overnight in the fridge.

9. Cut gelatin mixture into 3/4 inch cubes using a knife dipped in hot water.

10. The gelatin may pull, but continue cutting.

11. Separate cubes and roll in sugar until coated on all sides.

12. Place gumdrops on wax paper and leave at room temperature for two days to crystallize.

Store in an airtight container. Makes about 8 dozen 3/4 inch gumdrops.
Gumdrops

Recipe linked to These Chicks Cooked, Mangia Monday, Tasty Tuesday, Totally Tasty Tuesday, Tempt My Tummy Tuesday and Full Plate Thursday.

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