Archive | January, 2013

Superbowl Roundup 2013

30 Jan

Looking for some yummy treats to whip up for the Super Bowl? Well, you are in luck because I have compiled a list of delicious appetizers, main dishes and desserts that would be perfect for the big game.

Crispy Baked Asian Wings – they take a little extra work but they are well worth it. Make sure to cook a huge batch because they will disappear fast. Mix up the flavors with bbq, honey mustard and buffalo.

Asian Wings

Cheesy Bread – This is simple to throw together and always a huge crowd pleaser. How could you go wrong with bread and cheese?
Cheese Bread

Extra Crispy Spicy Fried Chicken – I don’t think anything needs to be said for this one.
DSC_0124

Easy Stromboli – When I think of Super Bowl food, pizza automatically pops into my head. Stromboli is easy to make for a crowd and super portable.
Stromboli 5

Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Wraps – Super Bowl food is typically high in calories (ie delicious) so these are a great alternative and healthy option.
Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Blue Moon Cupcakes – Beer, cupcakes, football. Yep.
Blue Moon Cupcakes

Chocolate Guinness Cupakes – Just in case you prefer your beer with chocolate!
Chocolate Guinness Cupcakes

Football Brownie Bites – Obviously these are perfect for the game. So fun and festive!
Football Brownie Bites

Mexican Rice

28 Jan

Mexican Rice
Mexican food is one of our favorites and we eat it quite a bit when we go out and at home. I don’t mean to brag, but I make some killer and super easy shredded beef tacos (which I surprisingly haven’t shared here yet). I have also whipped up my fair share of quesadillas, enchiladas, burritos and more. But the one thing I just haven’t gotten the hang of is Mexican rice. Until now!
Mexican Rice
I have tried several recipes in the past and they were just never quite right. Whether it was the texture or the spice or the prep/cooking time, I didn’t like them and they didn’t taste authentic. This recipe though is a whole different story. Not only does this rice taste great, but it’s really quick and easy and it involves ingredients I always have in the kitchen. I served this alongside those delicious Crispy Chicken Black Bean Tacos and it was the perfect combination.

Mexican Rice
recipe from Mexican Food Recipes

1 cup uncooked rice
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups cold water
1 tablespoon chicken bouillon
¼ cup tomato sauce
Roma tomato, chopped into 8 pieces (optional)
1 teaspoon cumin powder (or seeds crushed into powder)
1 chili pepper, sliced lengthwise
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt to taste

1. Put the oil into a medium saucepan and heat to a medium temperature. Add the rice and brown it in the oil while stirring.

2. Add the garlic when the rice is nearly browned. Add the water, then the rest of the ingredients. Mix well. Cover, with a small air escape, and turn the heat down to medium low.

3. Cook the rice for 20 to 30 minutes but check after 20 to see if it is ready.

4. You do not need to stir the rice or lift the lid while it cooks. It is ready when the rice is fluffy, all the water is gone, and the grains are split open (because of the browning).

5. If it is still sauce-like rather than dry, cook a few minutes more. Adjust the spices and serve hot as a side dish with tacos, enchiladas, or burritos.

Festive Valentine’s Cake

25 Jan

Valentine's Cake 6
I love festive sweets and treats so whenever a holiday rolls around I jump on the chance to make something cute and kitchy. And this is the official one for Valentine’s Day people (but don’t worry, I may have other things up my sleeve too). I originally came across this idea on Pinterest when I saw it in a red, green and white theme for Christmas and thought, why not for Valentine’s Day? I clicked over to the original blog and saw that she already had that thought…and integrated chocolate into the mix which is perfect for this lovely hallmark holiday. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy Valentine’s Day but it’s kind of hard to consider a holiday if you ask me. But, it gives me a reason to make pretty, sprinkly, pink things so I guess I’ll go with it.
Valentine's Cake 3
The original recipe uses pink, red and black swirled cake to make a fun pattern but I have never liked the combination of pink and red. They don’t go and it bothers me. Call me crazy, maybe I am? I just couldn’t do it. So instead I went with a light pink, fushia and black. It still turned out very cute and Valentine’s-y. Especially because of those adorable itty bitty heart sprinkles. Love.
Valentine's Cake 5
Another Pinterest find….how to make a cake mix taste like a bakery quality cake. I like using cake mixes as a starting point but I just can’t stand the idea of not doctoring them up somehow so when I saw this little idea I kept it in the back of my mind for future use. And this was the perfect time to put it into play. Random side note: that last sentence sounded sports-related…Joel is already sports obsessed and now his job revolves around sports….too.much.football.talk. It’s not good for my brain.
Valentine's Cake 11
Ok, back to the cake mix trick. To make it taste oh so much better, replace the water in the recipe with milk (I used skim), add an extra egg for richness and replace the oil with double the amount of butter. Oh yeah, delicious. It came out super moist and if I wasn’t the one who had made it, I would have never guessed it started with a mix.
Valentine's Cake 9
For step by step photos of the process, click here.
Valentine's Cake 10
Festive Valentine’s Cake
recipe from Cooking with Sugar

1 box white cake mix
Water, vegetable oil and eggs called for on cake mix box (or milk, butter and eggs as statedd in directions above)
1 box dark chocolate cake mix
Water, vegetable oil and eggs called for on cake mix box (or milk, butter and eggs as statedd in directions above)
Black food coloring (I use Wilton Food Coloring Gel)
Red food coloring (I use Wilton Food Coloring Gel)
1 (12 oz) can white frosting
Colored Sprinkles

1. Heat oven to 325°F. Generously grease a 12-cup bundt cake pan. Make cake batters as directed on boxes. Divide the white cake into two separate bowls.

2. Add some red food coloring to one bowl and mix to the desired shade of pink.  Then, add red to the other and mix to the desired color red.

3. Pour 2/3 of the chocolate cake batter into a bowl and mix with a few drops of the black food coloring. Discard the remainder of the batter or use it for cupcakes. (You only need 2/3 of the chocolate cake batter, because if you use the whole thing in won’t fit in the tube pan).

4. Pour 1/2 of the chocolate cake mix into the bottom of the greased pan. Carefully pour the pink over the chocolate, making sure you don’t stir it. Just pour it on top.

5. Then, carefully pour the red batter over the pink batter and pour in the remainder of the chocolate.

6. Bake as directed on box or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes.

7. Turn pan upside down onto cooling rack that is placed over a cookie sheet. Cool cake completely, about 30 minutes.

8. Once cake is cool, equally divide your frosting into 3 bowls. Use the food coloring again to make one bowl red, one bowl pink and leave one white.

9. Microwave each bowl of frosting for a few seconds on high until it is smooth enough to drizzle over the cake (about 10-15 seconds). With a spoon, drizzle the pink frosting back and forth around the whole ring in a striping pattern until you use it all. Then do the same with the red and then the white.

10. Sprinkle with colored sprinkles if using. Set cake aside to dry. Store loosely covered and unrefrigerated. Cake can be made a day or two in advance.
Valentine's Cake 7

Salt and Pepper Pork Chops

23 Jan

Salt and Pepper Pork Chops
I know I am always talking about quick and easy weeknight meals and hopefully I’m not boring you with them because I am sharing another one today. Wondering why they have become so prevalent around here? Joel’s new job is downtown. All of the garages downtown are FULL. You know what that means? Well, it means that Noah and I are driving him to work and picking him up every day. I kind of grumbled about it at first but it’s actually been kind of great so far. We are able to sit down and have breakfast together then chat even more during our drive. It gets Noah and me out of the house a bit which is always nice for a stay at home mom, even if it is only a 10 minute drive in our jammies. Let’s hope we never see anyone we know during this process….it would be uncomfortable explaining the polka dot pants.

Anyway, since we are picking him up everyday and don’t usually get home until close to 5:30 I have lost a lot of cooking time. I try my best to plan ahead and get some prep done during nap time if needed but sometimes it just doesn’t happen. And that’s where this meal comes in. I mix up the ridiculously easy marinade in the morning, throw in the chops and put it in the fridge all day. Then before I head out to pick up Joel, I throw some rice into the rice cooker. When we get home, all I have to do is cook these chops real quick (which literally takes about 5 minutes) and steam some broccoli. It’s a real life saver when you have less than 20 minutes to throw something together for a hungry toddler that’s used to eating at 5:30. And they taste amazing and aren’t dry. A miracle for me when it comes to pork chops!

Salt and Pepper Pork Chops
recipe from One Perfect Bite

3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1-1/4 pounds boneless thin-cut pork loin chops
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1. Combine soy sauce, cornstarch, pepper, sugar and salt in bottom of 9 x 13 x 2-inch baking pan. Stir with a fork until all ingredients are combined and marinade is smooth. Add chops, turning to coat both sides. Cover dish with plastic wrap. Refrigerate, turning occasionally, for 1 to 24 hours.
2. Heat oil in a large frying pan set over medium high heat. Add pork, working in batches if necessary. Cook 1 to 2 minutes per side, until golden brown and cooked through. Transfer to serving plate or serve from pan. Yield: 4 servings.

Orange Blueberry Muffins

21 Jan

Orange Blueberry Muffins 1
I was in the baking mood recently and had a big container of blueberries that I needed to be used up so I went on the hunt for something sweet to whip up. Whenever I think of blueberries, muffins immediately pop into my mind. They are my favorite kind and there are so many different varieties out there.
Orange Blueberry Muffins 4And as you all know, Noah is an enormous fan of the muffin. If he could choose, it would always be chocolate but he’s down with blueberries too. He has been wanting one at every meal so he runs to the kitchen, grabs the big bowl of them and brings them to the table, prying the lid off to help himself. All the while he is saying “Noah want a muffin….Noah have a muffin for {insert meal time here}.” He is a bit addicted to food like his mama!

These were bright, moist and yummy. I liked the idea of the sugar topping but I think a streusel topping with some grated orange peel mixed in would be amazing. I kind of have a thing for streusel.
Orange Blueberry Muffins 5
Orange Blueberry Muffins
recipe from Taste of Home Cupcakes, Muffins and More

1 cup quick-cooking oats
1 cup orange juice
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 cup canola oil
3 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries*
1 1/2 tsp. grated orange peel

Topping:
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1. In a small bowl, combine the oats and orange juice. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Combine the oil, eggs and oat mixture; stir into dry ingredients until moistened. Fold in blueberries and orange peel.

2. Fill paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full. Combine the topping ingredients; sprinkle over batter. Bake at 400 degrees F for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pans to wire rack.

*If using frozen blueberries, do not thaw before adding to batter.
Orange Blueberry Muffins 3

Veggie Stirfry

18 Jan

Veggie Stir Fry 2
This is almost always the meal I make when Joel is working late or has something going on that takes him away at dinner time. I wait until Noah goes to bed then whip this up and eat my dinner in peace all by myself! As much as I love those boys of mine, sometimes it’s really nice to just have some time to myself and eat something Joel doesn’t like while enjoying silly, ridiculous shows that he makes fun of me for watching. My life is happy and uncomplicated so I sometimes like to get a little fix of stupid drama, so sue me.

Anyway, this is healthy and simple to throw together using ingredients I almost always have in the kitchen. You can add in anything you like, I just have listed what I had on hand that day. I also really like it with green beans and/or zucchini. I always look forward to whipping it up anytime I have a night to myself.
Veggie Stir Fry 1
Veggie Stirfry

6 oz. whole grain egg noodles
1-2 cups shredded cabbage
1/2 tsp. grated ginger (use microplane)
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 egg
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
1/2 Tbsp. sesame oil
1/2 tsp. Sriracha
1/2 tsp. sugar
Sesame seeds
Additional add ins: green beans, zucchini, onion, carrots, mushrooms, peppers

1. Bring water to a boil then cook noodles according to package directions and add broccoli at the last 2 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, combine soy sauce, sesame oil, Sriracha and sugar in a small bowl. Heat a wok over medium high heat. Spray with non-stick spray and crack egg into it. Scramble it quickly then let it cook until set. Flip and cook until no longer runny. Remove from pan and chop into tiny pieces.

3. Pour vegetable oil into wok then saute ginger, garlic and cabbage for about 5 minutes or until translucent. Add in pasta, broccoli and sauce mixture and saute for 2-3 minutes. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Enjoy!

Chicken Enchilada Soup {Chili’s Copycat}

16 Jan

Enchilada Soup 2
I love soup. Broccoli cheese, chicken noodle, clam chowder and potato soup are some of my favorites but I also love a good enchilada soup. I will fully admit I don’t like a whole lot of veggies in my soup so I am sometimes leary about ordering enchilada soup. I have never had Chili’s version but my mom has told me it’s delish. After looking at the recipe, I knew most of my household would love it (Joel is a soup hater, boo).

Masa harina, a flour made of ground corn, is used to make tortillas, tamales and other traditional Mexican dishes. In this recipe, it not only lends that traditional enchilada taste to the soup but it also helps thicken it. Masa harina is usually found in the baking aisle by the flour or in the Mexican/ethnic food aisle. I’ve seen it at Wal-Mart so it shouldn’t be too hard to find. But if you can’t find it, or don’t wish to buy it for one recipe (although you could make this delicious dish with it), you could mince up some flour tortillas and they will dissolve into the soup for added flavor and texture.
Enchilada Soup 3
The Chili’s version does not include corn or black beans but we like them around here and they add more texture and yumminess so I decided to add them. This is a really simple, convenient meal that is quick to throw together so it would be a great option for a busy weeknight or for when you don’t feel like cooking.

This makes a huge amount of soup so I should have halved it, especially considering the whiny boy. I ate it for lunch for a few days and froze the rest in individual portions. I will have to update on how the freezing went once I try some.
Enchilada Soup 1
Chicken Enchilada Soup {Chili’s Copycat}
recipe from Lindsay’s Lucious

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 medium onions, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 quart chicken stock
1 tablespoon chicken soup base
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, to taste
1 (8 oz). can tomato sauce
1 (19 oz.) can enchilada sauce (or two 10 oz. cans)
1 cup masa harina (or 6 small corn tortillas, minced)
16 oz. Velveeta, cubed
1 cup colby jack cheese, shredded
1 (22 oz.) bag Tyson roasted and diced chicken, thawed
1 can whole kernel corn, drained (optional)
1 can black beans, drained (optional)
Garnishes: pico de gallo, sour cream, shredded cheese, crunchy tortilla strips

1. In a skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat, and saute the onions until they are tender. Add the minced garlic and cook another minute or two, then scrape the onions and garlic into your crock pot.
2. Add all the other ingredients, except the chicken, corn and black beans. Cook over high heat for two hours or low for four. Whisk until smooth (you may wish to use a stick blender).
3. Add the chicken pieces, corn and black beans and heat through, maybe another 30 minutes to one hour. Check seasonings, and garnish as you like before serving.

Easy and Delicious Stromboli

14 Jan

Stromboli 5
I live in a house full of boys who love pizza. And I mean LOVE. Now don’t get me wrong, I like pizza as much as the next person but it can get a little old and boring sometimes (at least the kind of pizza Joel likes). So I like to mix up our pizza nights every now and then with stromboli or calzones.
Stromboli 3
I totally cheat and use frozen bread dough rather than making pizza dough to make this easy and possible for a weeknight meal. It doesn’t take much effort but tastes so so good. And you could add in anything you like. A little ricotta slathered on before the toppings would be yummy. You could also go with Hawaiian or veggie supreme. The options are endless.
Stromboli 2
I usually use a mix of cheddar and mozzarella for the cheese but this time I had some leftover thick sliced colby jack cheese from the deli that I needed to use up so I threw that in with a little bit of shredded sharp cheddar and it was pretty amazing. I definitely recommend you try that combination.

This is a wonderful way to spice up the pizza night routine!

Stromboli

1 loaf Rhodes bread dough, risen
8 oz. shredded cheese (use your favorite)
6 oz. diced pepperoni*
1/2 lb. Italian sausage, cooked and drained
Olive oil for drizzling
Kosher salt, to taste
Dried Basil, for garnish
1 recipe pizza sauce, for dipping

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Roll dough into an 18×12″ rectangle on a floured surface.

2. Evenly distribute sausage and pepperoni through the middle of the dough (lengthwise), leavin an inch edge on the short ends and about 4 inches on the long sides. Top with cheese then roll lengthwise and pinch tightly to seal.

3. Carefully move stromboli to pizza stone. Drizzle with olive oil and brush it over the top and sides. Sprinkle with kosher salt and basil to taste.

4. Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown. Enjoy!

*I place the pepperoni on a paper towel lined plate and microwave it for 30-60 seconds to get rid of all that excess grease. After microwaving, blot with more paper towel.

Quick Grilled Hunan Chicken

11 Jan

Quick Hunan Chicken
As I’m sure you already know, I am a big fan of Asian food. I made the menu for the next few weeks and about half of it ended up being Asian dishes…oops. But there is so much variety that it never seems like we are eating the same thing which is why I love it so much! So needless to say, there is going to be a lot of Asian food up in here for awhile. Yep, I just said that.
Quick Hunan Chicken
I am not a fan of hoisin sauce so I wasn’t sure how this chicken would go over but I was pleasantly surprised. The peanut butter, soy sauce and oils combined with the hoisin so that it wasn’t overwhelming but complimented it instead. It was a really great, quick weeknight meal. And it was even warm enough to grill it outside. Take that Minnesota!

Quick Grilled Hunan Chicken
recipe from food.com

4 Tbsp. hoisin sauce
2 Tbsp. peanut butter
4 teaspoons soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoon hot pepper oil
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast

1. Pound chicken breasts to 1/2″ thickness.
2. Mix together hoisin sauce, peanut butter, garlic, and oil; spread over both sides of chicken.
3. Grill or broil chicken 4-5 inches from heat source until chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes per side.
4. Slice chicken diagonally across the breast and serve on a piece of iceberg lettuce.
5. If you desire, serve with ramen noodles and steamed snow peas, as fast and easy side dishes.

Tiramisu

9 Jan

Tiramisu 2
Whenever we have something big happen in our house, I like to make a big, fancy meal to celebrate. Joel’s first day at his new job was on Monday so  I had consulted him about what he wanted for dinner (filet mignon, twice baked potatoes and caesar salad) but I wanted to surprise him with dessert. Tiramisu is one of his favorite desserts and something I have never made before so it totally killed two birds with one stone. He got a delicious treat and I got to fulfill my New Years resolution for the month. Plus, it’s also on my Top 100.
Tiramisu 3
I also have to admit that I have never eaten tiramisu so I don’t have anything to compare this to (besides Joel’s opinion). I always looked at tiramisu as intimidating and scary but it truly was really simple to whip up. Plus, who doesn’t love a dessert that you have to make ahead of time. This girl totally does, especially when a fancy dinner is on the menu that requires precise timing.
Tiramisu 1
I searched around for recipes and decided on one from Giada De Laurentiis because you can’t go wrong with her recipes, especially when it comes to Italian specialties. After reading some reviews, I decided to make a few slight changes then dove right in. The original recipe states to make this in a 13×9 pan but I decided to go with an 8×8 to make a denser, creamier tiramisu. I also used strong brewed coffee rather than espresso because that what I had and knew how to make.

I don’t like coffee so I always assumed I wouldn’t like tiramisu but I enjoyed the creaminess of the filling and the slight coffee flavor from the lady fingers. Joel thought it tasted pretty close to restaurant quality tiramisu, the only thing he would have changed is that it was a bit soggy. A bit of the coffee mixture pooled at the bottom of the pan too. I soaked the lady fingers for about 4-5 seconds so I think next time I will only do 2-3 seconds to decrease the soggyness of the tiramisu. Besides that though, it was pretty darn perfect. If you are looking for a simple dessert that will wow, you should definitely give this a try.

Tiramisu
recipe from Giada De Laurentiis

6 egg yolks*
3 tablespoons sugar
1 pound mascarpone cheese, softened to room temperature
1 1/2 cups strong espresso or coffee, cooled
2 teaspoons dark rum
24 packaged ladyfingers
1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate shavings, for garnish

1. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer with whisk attachment, beat egg yolks and sugar until thick and pale, about 5 minutes. Add mascarpone cheese and beat until smooth. Add 1 tablespoon of espresso/coffee and mix until thoroughly combined.

2. In a small shallow dish, add remaining espresso/coffee and rum. Dip each ladyfinger into espresso/coffee for only 3 seconds. Letting the ladyfingers soak too long will cause them to fall apart. Place the soaked ladyfinger on the bottom of a 8×8 inch baking dish, breaking them in half if necessary in order to fit the bottom.

3. Spread evenly 1/2 of the mascarpone mixture over the ladyfingers. Arrange another layer of soaked ladyfingers and top with remaining mascarpone mixture.

4. Cover tiramisu with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, up to 8 hours.

5. Before serving, sprinkle with chocolate shavings.

*Raw Egg Warning: Food Network Kitchens suggest caution in consuming raw and lightly cooked eggs due to the slight risk of salmonella or other food-borne illness. To reduce this risk, we recommend you use only fresh, properly refrigerated, clean grade A or AA eggs with intact shells, and avoid contact between the yolks or whites and the shell. For recipes that call for eggs that are raw or undercooked when the dish is served, use shell eggs that have been treated to destroy salmonella, by pasteurization or another approved method.

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