Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Sweet & Sour Chicken

I love me some Chinese food.
I do not love the cost of eating take out or at a restaurant.
I found this recipe via Pinterest, served it over some barley (delicious!) and it did a damn good job of filling a Chinese food craving.

4 chicken breasts (or one package of chicken breasts, I used thin-sliced but that is just personal preference)
black pepper
1C cornstarch
2 eggs, beaten
1/3C oil (canola, peanut, olive, coconut...)
3/4C sugar
4 tbs ketchup
1/2C white distilled vinegar
1 tbs soy sauce
1 tsp garlic salt

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Trim fat off chicken breasts, and cut into ~1" pieces.
  3. Sprinkle chicken with black pepper.
  4. Heat oil in a skillet.
  5. Dip chicken pieces into cornstarch, coating completely.
  6. Following cornstarch, dip chicken pieces into eggs.
  7. Cook chicken until browned.
  8. Place chicken into a baking dish (I used an 8x8 Pyrex).
  9. Whisk sugar, ketchup, vinegar, soy sauce, and garlic sauce until smooth.
  10. Pour sauce evenly over chicken, turning as necessary to make sure all sides are coated.
  11. Bake chicken for 15 minutes.
  12. Turn chicken over and then bake for 15 more minutes.
  13. Enjoy!

Chocolate Salted Caramel Cupcakes

This recipe was a brainchild of mine for the Super Bowl, combining 3 previous recipes.
I love chocolate. I love love love salted caramel. And I love cupcakes.
So why not put them all together?!

Bake cupcakes according to the: chocolate chocolate chip cupcake recipe.
After cupcakes have cooled, take a portion out of the middle of the cupcake and fill it with the caramel from the Pumpkin Toffee Cookie recipe.
Frost the cupcakes with vanilla buttercream.

This could be the best cupcake I've ever made, not kidding.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Grilled Mozzarella Sandwiches

I have a pretty serious love affair with all things garlic and mozzarella.
I stumbled upon this GENIUS idea on Pinterest.
It is 100% terrible for you, but it is 10000000000000% delicious.
It tastes like heaven.
Texas Toast Garlic Bread
fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced (I used the presliced Bel Gioioso variety for ease of use)
marinara sauce

  1. Cook garlic bread until golden brown (about 2 minutes less than instructions) according to directions on the package (don't let it get too dark because you will still be cooking it on the stovetop), 2 slices per sandwich you are intending to make.
  2. After bread is done baking, place 2 slices of mozzarella on one piece of bread.
  3. Place the second piece of bread on top of the mozzarella and cook in pan over medium-low heat until cheese is melted; flipping sandwich periodically.
  4. Dip in marinara sauce while eating.
  5. Enjoy!

Root Beer Float Cupcakes

I used this cupcake recipe and this frosting recipe, both modified slightly (and originally found on Pinterest).
I could NOT find root beer extract anywhere, so I attempted to make root beer reduction as a substitute.
While, the cake wasn't very rootbeery the cupcakes were still delicious and the vanilla bean added to the frosting along with the crushed root beer candies definitely helped salvage the root beer float idea.
So, the verdict is that this is a delicious cupcake BUT if you are looking to replicate the rich flavor of a root beer float this probably isn't your ideal recipe; this recipe was more subtly root beer float.

Yield: 20 cupcakes

for cupcakes
3/4C butter, room temperature
3 eggs, room temperature
2.5C all purpose flour
2.5 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1.5C sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
2C root beer, room temperature

for frosting
1/2 tsp unflavored gelatin powder
2 tbs cold water
1C heavy whipping cream
2 tbsp powdered sugar
1/2 of a vanilla bean

for topping
10 root beer hard candies, crushed (I ran mine through the vitamix on low for a few minutes until it was slightly more than root beer powder)

  1. for cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Line a muffin tin with cupcake liners (or grease the cups if you aren't using liners).
  3. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  4. In a small saucepan, boil 3/4C of root beer for 15 minutes until reduced to a syrupy texture. Stir occassionally to prevent burning.
  5. Remove root beer reduction from heat until ready to use.
  6. In a larger mixing bowl (I used my KitchenAid), beat butter on high for 30 seconds.
  7. Lower speed to medium and gradually add sugar.
  8. Beat butter and sugar until combined.
  9. Scrape the sides of the bowl and then beat on medium speed for 2 more minutes.
  10. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
  11. Add vanilla and reduced root beer.
  12. Alternatively add flour mixture and root beer to butter mixture, mixing on low speed until just combined.
  13. Fill prepared cupcake liners (or greased muffin cups) 2/3 full with batter.
  14. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.
  15. Allow cupcakes to cool complete before frosting.
  16. for frosting: In a small bowl, sprinkle gelatin over cold water to soften.
  17. Scald 2 tablespoons of cream; pour over gelatin, stirring until dissolved.
  18. Refrigerate mixture for 15 minutes.
  19. After 15 minutes, beat mixture with a whisk until smooth.
  20. Take the half of a vanilla bean, slice it open and scrape out the inside.
  21. In a large bowl (I used my KitchenAid), whip remaining cream and sugar until soft peaks form.
  22. Whip in smooth gelatin mixture and what you scraped out of the vanilla bean (are they seeds? I have no idea), stopping twice to scrape down the bowl.
  23. Pipe (or spread) frosting onto cooled cupcakes.
  24. Heavy handedly sprinkle crushed root beer candies onto the frosted cupcakes.
  25. Keep cupcakes in the refrigerator until ~1 hour before serving.
  26. Enjoy!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Sausage & Peppers Baked Ziti

I found this recipe on page 36 of the April 2013 issue of Eating Well magazine.
The recipe was quick, easy, and make 4 huge portions.

8oz whole wheat penne or ziti (or whatever kind of pasta you have)
16oz bag frozen pepper and onion mix
3 links chicken sausage, sliced
2C marinara sauce
1 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2C plain yogurt (I used Old Chatham Sheepherding Company Sheep's Milk Yogurt)
3/4C Italian blend shredded cheese

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain.
  2. Preheat oven to broil.
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  4. Add frozen vegetables and sausage; cook, stirring occasionally until most of the liquid from the vegetables has evaporated (about 15-20 minutes).
  5. Stir tomato sauce, garlic salt, oregano, and salt into the skillet.
  6. Reduce heat to medium-low, stir in yogurt and pasta. 
  7. Cook, stirring, until heated through, about 2 minutes.
  8. Transfer contents of the skillet to a casserole dish.
  9. Top with shredded cheese.
  10. Place casserole dish in the oven for 2 minutes.
  11. Enjoy!

Brown Butter Vanilla Cupcakes with Lemon Buttercream

I found this cupcake recipe and this buttercream recipe via Pinterest.
The pairing of the two was perfect, flavorful and tart, sweet and tangy.

for cupcakes
8 tbs butter, room temperature
2/3C brown sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
1/3C milk
2 tbs vanilla
1C all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

for buttercream
3/4C butter, softened
3C powdered sugar
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tbs lemon juice
1 tbs lemon extract

  1. For cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Prepare muffin pan with cupcake liners (or grease pan if not using liners).
  3. In a small skillet over medium-low heat, brown butter by letting it bubble; stirring constantly.
  4. Be careful to watch butter, remove from heat after achieving an amber color. Don't burn it!
  5. Combine browned butter, brown sugar, eggs, milk, and vanilla in a large bowl (I used my KitchenAid) and mix on medium speed for 2 minutes until well mixed.
  6. Add flour, baking powder, and salt to butter mixture until just combined.
  7. Fill each cupcake liner about 1/2 full.
  8. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.
  9. Let cupcakes cool before frosting.
  10. For buttercream: In a large bowl, cream butter, gradually add sugar, beating well.
  11. Add remaining ingredients, beat until smooth.
  12. Pipe (or spread) onto cooled cupcakes.
  13. Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Reeses Peanut Butter Cup Banana Bread

I found this recipe on Pinterest, and I just had to try it.
I love all things PB cup & banana bread and this did not disappoint.
While we ate it more as a dessert / sweet treat than a breakfast bread, I'm sure it would be great for breakfast.

3 very ripe bananas
1/2C peanut butter
1/4C canola oil
1 egg, room temperature
1/2C sugar
1/4C brown sugar
1.5C all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1.5 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1C crushed Reeses peanut butter cup miniatures (I used a little less than half of a 19.75oz bag)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease a loaf pan with butter.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl (I used my KitchenAid), mix bananas, peanut butter, oil, egg, and sugars until well combined.
  5. Pour your dry ingredients into the peanut butter mixture, mix until just combined. (Do not be alarmed, it will be lumpy).
  6. Fold in peanut butter cup pieces.
  7. Pour batter into loaf pan.
  8. Place piece of tented aluminum foil over the top of the loaf pan to prevent the bread from browning too quickly (as mine did). 
  9. Bake for 55-60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and the bread is a golden brown shade.
  10. Let cool for at least 10 minutes in pan.
  11. Remove from pan if you want, or just leave it hanging out in there.
  12. Enjoy!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Gluten-Free Almond Butter Banana Bread

I found this recipe on Pinterest, in an effort to expand on gluten free cooking I made some ingredient substitutions.
This bread was delicious, and filling!, the flavors went great together.

1C brown sugar
2/3C fresh ground almond butter
2 egg whites
3 bananas
1/3C plain yogurt (I used Old Chatham Sheepherding Company Sheep's Milk Yogurt)
1 2/3C hazelnut meal
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder (gluten-free version)
1/4 tsp table salt

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease loaf pan and sprinkle with hazelnut meal.
  3. In a large bowl (I used my KitchenAid stand mixer), beat sugar and almond butter for 2 minutes.
  4. Beat in egg whites on slow speed until blended.
  5. Add bananas and yogurt, beat until smooth.
  6. Stir in remaining ingredients until just combined.
  7. Pour into loaf pan.
  8. Bake ~55 minutes, until toothpick inserted into center of loaf comes out clean.
  9. Let cool before slicing.
  10. Enjoy!

French Onion Soup Casserole

I found this recipe on Pinterest, I added some more broth to it to make it more soupy than casserole-y.
While the mixture was unexpected to me, it turned out great!

3 tbs salted butter
3 large sweet onions
6oz package of shredded swiss cheese
1 can cream of chicken soup
2/3C almond milk
1 tsp soy sauce
4 beef bouillon cubes
4C boiling water
10oz package of garlic crostini (or loaf of French bread, sliced)

  1. Slice onions into thin strips.
  2. Melt butter in a large saute pan over medium heat.
  3. Add onions, saute until clear.
  4. Dissolve bouillon cubes in 4C boiling water.
  5. Add onions and beef broth to casserole dish.
  6. In sauce pan, bring cream of chicken soup, milk, and soy sauce to a boil.
  7. Pour soup mixture into casserole dish, stir gently to mix.
  8. Top with crostini (or bread) slices.
  9. Bake, uncovered, for 15 minutes.
  10. Remove casserole from oven, push bread slices under soup to coat the top of the bread.
  11. Top with shredded swiss cheese.
  12. Place casserole back in the oven and finish baking for 15 more minutes.
  13. Enjoy!

Crock Pot Bacon-Wrapped Apple BBQ Chicken

I found this recipe on Pinterest, it was easy and pretty delicious.  I served it with green beans and it was plenty filling.
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1C BBQ sauce (I used Sweet Baby Ray's)
1/4C brown sugar
2 tbs lemon juice
5 small apples, peeled and chopped (I used Crispin)
8 slices of bacon

  1. In a large bowl, combine BBQ sauce, brown sugar, and lemon juice.
  2. Toss apples in mixture until completely coated.
  3. Grease crock pot.
  4. Wrap each chicken breast with 2 slices of bacon and place in crock pot.
  5. Pour apple mixture over chicken.
  6. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. (closer to 6 if you use thin-sliced).
  7. Enjoy!

Braided Spaghetti Bread

I found this recipe on Pinterest, it was relatively easy and cheap to make and would definitely feed a bunch of people.

1 package of pizza dough (I used Wegman's whole wheat)
6oz angel hair pasta
2C spaghetti sauce
8oz fresh mozzarella, cut into cubes
1 egg white
Parmesan cheese (I used Wegman's Italian blend cheese)
Dried parsley
Garlic Powder

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cook pasta according to directions.
  3. While, pasta is cooking, spray cookie sheet or line with parchment paper.
  4. Roll dough into a large rectangle.
  5. Drain pasta and toss with sauce.
  6. Place spaghetti lengthwise down the center of the dough.
  7. Top spaghetti with cheese cubes.
  8. Make cuts about an inch apart, down the long sides of the dough.
  9. Begin braid by folding top and bottom strips toward the filling.
  10. Then braid the strips, left over right until fully braided.
  11. Brush with egg white and sprinkle with parmesan cheese, parsley, and garlic powder.
  12. Bake 30-35 minutes, until golden brown.
  13. Cool slightly and slice to serve.
  14. Enjoy!