Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Chicken Burritos

I enjoy easy recipes for weekday dinners.  Chicken burritos fits this bill.  If you use boneless chicken tenderloin, you can pull them from the freezer and place in a ziploc bag and put in water for around 30 minutes before you start cutting and your good to go.  The recipe I make below feeds about 4 people.

Ingredients:

1 cup brown rice, cooked according to package
1 can black beans
8 boneless chicken tenderloins
1 package taco seasoning
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 onion cut into slices
8 tortillas

Additional Optional Ingredients:

1 avocado
1 tomato diced
3 Tablespoons Cilantro diced
Spinach or Lettuce leaves
Cheddar cheese to taste
Taco Seasoning

Cook rice according to directions.  When complete add 1 can of black beans.
Cut Chicken into 1 inch cubes, slice onion into slices.
Mix pkg of taco seasoning and chili powder with chicken and onion.
Stir fry onion and chicken until chicken is no longer pink.


Assemble Burrito:

Add rice, chicken and as many of the option ingredients as you like.

Wrap burrito and enjoy.





Cut chicken into small cubes

Add taco seasoning and chili powder to onions and chicken


Mix ingredients together





Add black beans to cooked rice


Stir fry chicken and onions


Assemble burrito

Monday, January 28, 2013

Fruit Salad

Our grocery story was selling blood oranges this week.  I've had desserts with them in before, so I decided to pick up a few other fruits to make a light fruit salad for dessert.  Warning: While this recipe tastes good on day two, the fruits I used just don't look the same, so a small batch goes a long way.

Ingredients:

1 Blood Orange, cut into sections
1 Pear, cut into small pieces
1 Kiwi, sliced and slices halved
1 Apple, cut into small pieces
6 strawberries, topped and cut in half
2 Tablespoons Orange Juice
2 Tablespoons Apple Juice
2 Tablespoons White Wine, optional if kids are involved :-)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon sugar

Cutting the blood oranges, I love their color!

Fruit Salad
Cut all the fruit and mix together.  In a small bowl mix the orange juice, apple juice, optional wine, cinnamon and sugar.  Pour over fruit mixture, gently toss to coat, then serve.

Light Whole Wheat Buns

Our family prefers whole wheat bread over white and I've been looking for a recipe that doesn't make a super heavy bread.  I've found a couple things help when making whole wheat bread - letting the dough rise longer than recommended in the recipe (up to 50% more time), and of course finding the right recipe to use.  I believe I've found a winner with a recipe from Allrecipes.com.

Ingredients

2 .25 ounce package active dry yeast
1 3/4 cup warm water (110 degrees F)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled
1 egg, beaten
2 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup butter, melted

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast and sugar in the warm water.  Let stand for 10 minutes until creamy.
Mix salt, melted butter, egg, and whole wheat flour into the yeast mixture.  Add all-purpose flour 1/2 cup at a time until the dough begins to pull away from the side of the bowl.  Turn dough onto a well floured surface and need until smooth, approximately 8 minutes.  Place in an oiled bowl and let rise until doubled (original recipe calls for an hour, I recommend 90 minutes).  The dough will be lighter this way.

Punch down dough and then roll into smooth 2 1/2 inch balls.  Please approximately 2-3 inches apart on lightly greased cookie sheet.  Brush tops with butter.  Let rise for 30-45 minutes.

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Bake for 12 minutes until lightly golden brown.  Brush tops with butter again when they come out of the oven.


Activating yeast with warm water and sugar



All ingredients added except for all-purpose flour


Adding all-purpose flour 1/2 cup at a time


Dough ready for kneading


Dough ready to rise the first time


Buns formed and ready to rise the second time.


Warm buns fresh from the oven...wish this blog had smell vision :-)



Sunday, January 27, 2013

Kitchen Sink Crock Pot Roast and Carrots

Each time I make a roast, it's slightly different.  I've tried lots of recipes, so I suit the recipe of the day to what I have at home at the time.  My mom recently gave me some Penzey's spices - one is call Forward!  I like salt free seasoning options, so I tried using this today.  I also had a spare cup of cabernet in a bottle and believe alcohol tenderizes the roast, so I used that as well.  I needed enough liquid to cover the roast, so I also needed to use one can of beer.    At lunch, I used up the last of the dill pickles and remembered that one of my roast recipes called for dill pickle juice, so thus that went in todays meal as well...like I said Kitchen Sink Roast.

Ingredients

2 pounds of boneless beef chuck roast
1 teaspoon Penzey Forward! seasoning, divided
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 teaspoon Garlic Salt
1 teaspoon Italian Herb Seasoning
1 package of dry onion soup mix
1/2 Cup Dill Pickle Juice
1 Cup Red Wine
1 12 ounce Can Beer
1 onion cut into wedges
2 Tablespoons Jalepeno Nacho Rings
1 1/2 Cups Baby Carrots

Season the Roast with Forward! seasoning.  Heat olive oil in a frying pan over medium high heat and then sear both sides of the roast (approximate 4-5 minutes each side).

Add the red wine and beer to the crock pot.  Stir in all the seasonings Forward!, Garlic Salt, Italian Herb Seasoning, dry onion soup mix, and pickle juice until well mixed.

Add the seared roast to the crock pot.  The liquid should cover it, if not add a bit of water.  Put the onion, baby carrots and jalepeno slices on top.

Cook on low for 8 hours.

Serve as a roast or shred and serve in sandwiches.


Seasoning the roast with Forward!


Searing the Roast in Olive Oil


Mixing all the seasonings in the red wine and beer


Cutting up the onion 


Adding the onion, carrots and jalepeno slices over the roast




Shredding the roast


Serving as a sandwich with the baby carrots and a fruit salad (recipe to come!)

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Brown Sugar Glazed Pork Chops

This recipe is really easy and fast to make as well as flavorful!

I modified this Six Sisters' Stuff recipe to serve 2 people. I will put in a little plug for Six Sisters' Stuff -- their blog has so many wonderful recipes, I go on looking for one thing and find 5 recipes I'd like to try.

Brown Sugar Glazed Pork Chops


Ingredients:
  • 2 boneless butterfly pork chops
  • 1/8 cup of brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp of garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp of paprika
  • A dash of salt
  • A dash of pepper
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil
Directions:
  1. Mix the brown sugar, garlic powder, paprika, salt, and pepper together in a bowl. 
  2. Put the pork chops in the mixture and coat them on both sides.
  3. Heat the oil on a skillet on medium high heat.
  4. Once the oil is hot, add the seasoned pork chops. Cooking time will vary based on the size of the pork chops but mine took about 3 minutes on each side. You can normally see the cooking progress on the sides of the pork chops (turns white) but you should also cut it open before serving to make sure it is cooked all the way through. 
The brown sugar mixture on the left and the raw pork chops on the right.

The pork chops while they are cooking (these pork chops weren't completely defrosted when I started cooking them so they took a little longer -- always make sure pork chops are completely defrosted.)

The full meal with the Brown Sugar Glazed Pork Chops, sugar snap peas, and the grape and walnut quinoa salad again.



Friday, January 25, 2013

Scallops with Spinach and Mushroom


Friday night is a fun night to try something new.  Tim and I decided we'd tried scallops with a tried and true side: spinach and mushrooms.  Since it was Friday night, I decided to add a little ambiance.  Our trifle bowl is used more often as a candle holder than a trifle bowl.  It's nice to have a candle light dinner.  Tonight, I put stones from Michael's in the bottom a tall candle and two floating candles.
A little ambiance for Friday night.






The first recipe is Simply Called Spinach and Mushrooms.

Ingredients:

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon of Garlic
16 ounces of mushrooms  - I used 8 ounces of white button and 8 ounces of portobella mushrooms
16 ounces of spinach
2 Tablespoons of Soy Sauce
2 Tablespoons White Wine

Directions:

Heat Olive Oil over medium high heat.   Add garlic and mushrooms, heat for 5 -10 minutes until mushrooms are starting to soften.  Add Soy Sauce, white wine and spinach a handful at a time.  Cook until spinach is wilted and serve.

Saute Mushrooms

Add wine, soy sauce and spinach
Adding another handful of spinach

Scallops

Ingredients:

Salt and Pepper to taste
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon Garlic
6- 8 scallops
2 Tablespoons Butter
2 Tablespoons White Wine


Dry scallops with paper towels.  Salt and Pepper scallops.  Heat saute pan to medium high heat.  Add garlic and saute for 1 minute.  Add scallops and saute 2 minutes on one side, flip and sauté 2 minutes on the other side.  Remove from heat.
Add Butter to skillet and allow to melt, then add wine and cook until the sauce starts to thicken.
Pour over scallops and serve.




Saute scallops side 1



Saute scallops side 2

Enjoy!



Oreo Truffles

This recipe is one that I learned from my mom (who got the recipe from making them with my brother's girlfriend, MacKenzie, who always makes them with her mom) -- you can see all the family cooking going on. :-)

It has become my favorite dessert to make! I made it last week for Will's work potluck and none were brought home (and not just because he ate them all) so I think it's safe to say that they are a big hit.

This recipe involves 5-6 ingredients and they are NO BAKE! I will admit they do require a little patience and time to roll the truffle balls and dunk each one but it is completely worth the effort.

You can make variations of these depending on what flavor Oreos you use -- I used Mint Oreos so here is the recipe for Mint Oreo Truffles...

Mint Oreo Truffles


Ingredients:
  • 1 bag of mint Oreo cookies
  • 1 block of cream cheese
  • 1 1/2 bags of semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1-2 cubes of almond bark (optional)
  • 1/2 cup of mini chocolate chips or Andes creme de menthe chips or green sprinkles (optional)
Directions:
  1. Crush the Oreo cookies. I use my Cuisinart Smart Stick, which works amazingly, but you could use any type of food processor or even just a ziplock bag and rolling pin.
  2. After the Oreo cookies are crushed, mix together with the cream cheese. There really isn't an easy way to do this except by hand, literally using your hands and kneading the Oreo crumbs into the cream cheese. It's messy but it works well.
  3. After the Oreos are completely mixed in, roll the mixture into tiny balls (about 1/2" diameter). Place the truffle balls on a pan (I cover a pizza pan in tinfoil and that ends up being about the right size but you could use two big baking sheets or really any large portable surface because you don't cook them).
  4. Once all of the mixture is rolled into tiny balls and placed on a pan, put the pans in the refrigerator for about an hour. (Note: if you are short on time, you can skip this step but it really helps to harden the truffle balls before the next step.)
  5. After an hour, melt the bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips in a large measuring cup and take the truffle balls out of the refrigerator. To melt the semi-sweet chocolate chips, microwave for 1 minute, take out and stir, then microwave in 30 second intervals, taking it out and stirring it each time to make sure it is not getting burnt. Start with one bag of chocolate chips -- I normally always need slightly more than one bag.
  6. When the chocolate chips are completely melted, start dipping the truffle balls into the chocolate. I find the easiest way to do this is to drop the ball in and then use a spoon to move it around and take it out. After dipping the truffle ball, place it back on the pan. Dip all of the truffle balls. 
  7. The next steps are optional but add to the decoration of the truffles as well as add to the flavor a little:
    • Melt 1-2 cubes of almond bark (may want to start with one and see if you need the second cube). Melt the almond bark the same way that you melted the chocolate chips - start with 1 minute, stir, do 30 second intervals with stirring in between. After the almond bark is melted, use a spoon to drizzle the almond bark over the top of all of the truffles. 
    • Sprinkle mini chocolate chips, Andes creme de menthe chips, or green sprinkles over the top of the truffles. 
  8. Refrigerate for at least another hour or two for the topping to harden. The truffles should be kept refrigerated when not serving.
Step 1 - Crushing the Oreos
Step 1 - What the Oreos should look like when completely crushed


After Step 2,  ready for Step 3 - Oreos and cream cheese are mixed, pan is ready for the truffle balls

After Step 3 - Ready to be refrigerated

Step 6 - Dipping the truffle balls into the melted chocolate chips

During Step 6 - Almost done coating all of the truffles

Step 7(a) - Drizzling the truffles with almond bark

The final product with almond bark drizzled and chocolate chips sprinkled over the top



Enjoy!


This makes about 55 delicious truffles total. 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Choked Chicken

Tonight's dinner was a recipe I received from a friend a few years back (Thanks Steph!)  I've modified it significantly over time, but I love that the sauce is tasty and made from ingredients that I usually have around the house.

Why is it called Choked Chicken...it's a warning.  When I start to make this dish in the frying pan, I usually end up choking because the cayenne pepper is the first thing you heat up.  Just have a glass of water (or wine) close by.  The recipe is delicious!

Ingredients

6 ounces (or so) of whole wheat thin spaghetti (The original recipe calls for 2 pkgs of ramen noodles with the seasoning discard)
4 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
2 Tablespoons Ketchup
2 Tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
2 teaspoons Sugar
4 cloves Garlic
Cayenne pepper to taste
2 boneless Chicken Breast cut into 1/2 in strips (I have also used 2 10 oz cans of chicken breast for an even quicker meal)
3 Cups Cole Slaw mix
1 Cup Shredded Carrots
2 green onions - cut into 1" pieces

Cook spaghetti according to the package. Drain and set aside.
In a small bowl combine Soy Sauce, Ketchup, Worcestershire Sauce, and Sugar.  Set aside.
Spray wok with nonstick spray and heat.  Add garlic and cayenne pepper.  Cook over medium-high heat for 15 seconds.  Add Chicken and stir fry 2 minutes.  Add cabbage, carrots and green onion.  Stir fry until chicken is no longer pink.  Add the cooked noodles and sauce.  Heat through for about a minute stirring gently to mix (I find a spaghetti spoon helps to mix the ingredients well.)
Basic Ingredients

Adding cole slaw mix and carrots

Adding pasta and using the spaghetti spoon to incorporate the sauce and pasta



Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

Decided we needed a few sweets in the house, so I made a double batch of Chocolate Crinkle Cookies.  I reviewed a few recipes and based on the last time I made these and they turned out a bit flat, I decided to add a bit more flour.  I liked the results.  The recipe below is for a single batch, but I recommend doing the double batch and freezing some tasty sweets for a future date.  A single batch makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Ingredients

1 1/4 Cups firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 Cup  Butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 Eggs
2 1/4 Cups Flour
6 Tablespoons unsweetened Cocoa
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon Baking Soda
10 oz bag of Chocolate Chips (I recommend Ghiraardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate)

1/3 Cup Sugar
1/2 Cup Powdered Sugar

Combine brown sugar, butter, vanilla extract, eggs, cocoa, salt and baking soda.  I use a electric mixer on medium speed until all ingredients are well combined.

Next add the flour 1 cup at a time.

Last stir in the chocolate chips by hand - it's a great forearm workout :-)

Chill dough for an hour.

Heat oven to 375 degrees

Next put the granulated sugar in one small bowl and the powdered sugar in another small bowl.  Shape dough into 1 1/4 inch balls.  Roll in granulated sugar and then in the powdered sugar.  Place 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake 10 minutes or until cookies are set.  Cool slightly on the cookie sheet, then move cookies to paper towels to cool completely.

Roll cookie in powdered sugar
Roll cookie in granulated sugar



Finished product


Cookies ready to go into the oven