Sunday, February 27, 2011

Mexican Chef Salad

I already posted this recipe here, but I didn't have a picture for you!  So here is an updated post.  I realize now I forgot the Frito's before I took the picture, but you get the idea!

What you'll need:
1 pound lean ground beef
1 pkg taco seasoning
1 can black beans
1 head lettuce (we used romaine)
Shredded Cheese
Diced Tomatoes
Ranch dressing

Brown 1 lb lean ground beef then season with 1 pkg of taco seasoning.  Mix in 1 can black beans to warm them (sometimes I also throw in some frozen corn at this point).  Chop up your choice lettuce.  Mix Lettuce, beef and bean mixture, shredded cheese, crunched up Frito's, diced tomatoes.  Serve in bowls with "salsa ranch" (equal parts ranch dressing & salsa).

Cheez-it Casserole

I have absolutely no idea where the name for this casserole came from.  There are no cheez-its or anything resembling the flavor or texture of a cheez-it involved.  But you must make it because it is so good.  This is a recipe from Corey's mom.  It is probably his favorite dinner ever.  Its suprisingly healthy for a casseroleand it is so easy to make.  There is nothing better than a passed down recipe that comes along with great memories in my opinion.

What you'll need:
3-5 summer squash & zucchini (just depends on the size)
1 medium onion
2 tablespoons butter
1 pound lean ground beef
Shredded Cheese (your choice of type - I used one with yellow and white cheeses)
1 large container of cottage cheese (I used fat free)
2 eggs
parmesean cheese (the grated stuff works just fine here)

1.  Brown the ground beef with salt and pepper.  This will be your first layer.
2.  Boil chopped squash, zucchini, and onion in salted water until tender.  Pour into a collander and sqeeze out as much excess liquid as possible.  Mix with butter.  You can leave out the butter if you feel like it - not too much taste difference.  This will be your second layer in a 13 x 9 in casserole dish.
3.  Sprinkle desired amount of shredded cheese over the top (layer three).  You definitely do not need to go overboard here.  The casserole will turn out creamy enough with the remaining layers.
4.  Mix cottage cheese with eggs in a bowl.  This is your forth layer.
5.  Sprinkle the top with parmesean.  This is your fifth layer.
6.  Cook at 350 for 45 minutes or until top is no longer jiggily (egg mixture).  I started checking every 15 minutes at 30 minutes and ended up cooking mine for 1 hour total.  We usually serve this over rice or else just by itself.

handwritten recipe :)

1st layer, ground beef

Squash, zucchini, & onion ready to boil, 2nd layer

Shredded cheese, 3rd layer

cottage cheese & 2 eggs, mixed will make 4th layer

ready for the oven!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Fettuccine Alfredo & Sides

Sunday of my favorite nights to cook because there is no rush and I usually make a big meal.  Its so much more enjoyable to cook when you get to take your time!  Tonight I made Fettuccine Alfredo, Focaccia bread, Caprese Salad, & Roasted Asparagus.

Fettuccine Alfredo
from Epicurious
8 to 9 ounces fettuccine
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 stick unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/3 cup grated Parmesan

Cook fettuccine in a pasta pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water, then drain pasta.  Meanwhile, bring cream and butter to a simmer in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium-low heat, adding 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.  Add fettuccine, 1/4 cup reserved water, and cheese to sauce and toss. Add more cooking water if necessary.  I sauted some mushrooms & garlic to top the fettuccine.

Focaccia Bread
Adapted from Pioneer Woman’s Olive Focaccia (I halved this recipe below & only added some chopped olives as a topping to Cor's side.  Olives are one of the only foods I hate!)
1-½ teaspoon Active Dry Yeast
1-½ cup Warm Water
4 cups All-purpose Flour
1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
⅓ cups Olive Oil
Olive Oil, For Drizzling
Kosher Salt, For Sprinkling
Sprinkle yeast over 1 1/2 cups warm (not lukewarm) water. Let stand for a few minutes.
In a mixer, combine flour and salt. With the mixer running on low speed (with paddle attachment), drizzle in olive oil until combined with flour. Next, pour in yeast/water mixture and mix until just combined, and the dough comes together in a sticky mass.
Warm a non-metal mixing bowl in the microwave until warm. Coat it with a light drizzle of olive oil, and form the dough into a ball. Toss to coat dough in olive oil, then cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and set it aside for 1 to 2 hours, or store in the fridge until you need it (I did overnight).
Remove dough from bowl and place on a lightly floured surface.  Divide dough in half and roll each half into a large, thin oval/rectangle. Place on separate sheet pans (or cookie sheets) drizzled with olive oil. Drizzle more olive oil on top of the ovals, then cover each one with plastic wrap. Put in a draft-free/warm place for one hour.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Remove the plastic wrap (dough will be puffy) and use your fingertips to press dimples all over the surface of the dough. Drizzle surface with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until focaccia is golden brown.  (You can add some cheese to the top, but I would bake mine with the cheese next time.  I added after and broiled without watching and ended up only being able to save a few pieces …whoops!  See the only 4 darkened pieces I was able to save from my platter!)  Cut into pieces with a pizza wheel or sharp knife. Serve immediately

Caprese Salad
Fresh Mozzarella
Balsamic Vinegar
Olive Oil
S&P and other Italian seasoning (fresh basil is awesome with this if you have it)
Slice Tomatoes & Mozzarella into even slices.  Layer slices on a platter alternating.  Drizzle with oil & vinegar and sprinkle with S&P & Italian seasoning.  Serve.

Roasted Asparagus
Preheat oven to 400.  Rinse asparagus spears and bend the bottom end until the end snaps off (they will naturally snap off where ripe).  Arrange in a roasting pan and drizzle with olive oil and S&P.  Roast for about 7 – 10 minutes.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Whole Wheat Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Muffins

These were probably the healthiest muffins I've ever made!  Instead of all purpose flour and white sugar, they use whole wheat flour, oatmeal, and brown sugar.  If you are not a person who likes wheat bread, I may modify this to use all purpose flour.  You will definitely taste the whole wheat flour, but we really enjoyed these hearty muffins.  They were so good.  You could also leave out the choc chips if you wish, but I am not a person to do such a thing!

Whole Wheat Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Muffins
adapted from How Sweet – yields 1 dozen
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup rolled oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup milk
3/4 cup chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350.
Add oats to a bowl and add 1/2 cup of milk. Let soak for 5-10 minutes, while you prepare the first few steps of the muffins.
In a large bowl, combine egg and brown sugar and whisk until smooth and caramel in color. Add in vanilla and butter, whisking well. Try to smooth the batter as much as possible – there still may be some small butter chunks. Add flour, oat mixture, baking soda, salt and cinnamon and mix. Add remaining milk and combine until smooth. Fold in chocolate chips.
Line a muffin tin (or spray with cooking spray if you are out like me) and pour evenly into 12 cups. Sprinkle the tops with sugar & cinnamon. Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until cooked through. Serve with butter.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Roasted Garlic, Red Pepper, & Mushroom Quinoa

Have you tried Quinoa yet?  If not, you will want to soon.  If this combination doesn't appeal to you, try this one.  Quinoa is such a great grain to use.  A great side dish substitute to rice that provides protein you with some extra protein. 

Roasted Garlic, Red Pepper and Mushroom Quinoa
makes about 2 cups
1 head garlic
1 cup of quinoa
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup chopped red pepper
1/2 cup chopped mushrooms
salt & pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Chop the top off the garlic and peel away the loose outside paper. Drizzle olive oil on cloves, wrap in foil, and roast for 20-30 minutes, or until golden. Let cool.
Cook quinoa according to directions on package. While quinoa is cooking, heat a skillet on medium heat and add olive oil. Add red pepper and mushrooms and saute until soft, about 6-8 minutes. When quinoa is done, fluff with a fork and add peppers and mushrooms. Squeeze the entire head of garlic cloves into the quinoa, mashing some with a fork and leaving others whole. Season with salt and pepper and mix well.

Roasted Garlic, Red Pepper and Mushroom Quinoa
adapted from How Sweet
1 head garlic
1 cup of cooked quinoa
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup chopped red pepper
1/2 cup chopped mushrooms
salt & pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Chop the top off the garlic and peel away the loose outside paper. Drizzle olive oil on cloves, wrap in foil, and roast for 20-30 minutes, or until golden. Let cool.  Your house will smell a-ma-zing.

Cook quinoa according to directions on package. While quinoa is cooking, heat a skillet on medium heat and add olive oil. Add red pepper and mushrooms and saute until soft, about 6-8 minutes. When quinoa is done, fluff with a fork and add peppers and mushrooms and garlic cloves (squeeze the entire head of garlic cloves out) into the quinoa

Season with salt and pepper and mix well.  I served ours with salmon and topped the quinoa with parmesan cheese - because what doesn't taste better with cheese!

Cake Balls & Oreo Balls

After seeing this post I intended to make red velvet cake balls to bring into work for V-day.  Her version looked so cute and valentine-y!  However for some reason I thought I had food coloring at home and I did not, and didn't think to purchase a red velvet cake, just a regular chocolate cake so they ended up being just chocolate cake balls.  Oh well!  Don't think anyone minded.  This is not my type of desert however.  I am not too much of a plain old cake and frosting type of person.  Its just not my desert of choice.  I've made oreo balls before and I liked those so much better.  I'm sharing the recipe for those below as well, I also thought they were much easier to make.

Cake balls:
1 box cake mix - your choice
1 can cream cheese frosting (or make home-made here - you'll need 1 1/2 cups of that)
chocolate chips or chocolate almond bark for coating

Prepare the cake per instructions on the box.  Cool completely in fridge or freezer.  Crumble cake into large bowl (I mean the largest you've got) and also add frosting.  Mix together with your hand mixer until fully combined.  You may think this is going to be impossible when you see how much cake you have when its crumbled and you may or may not end up with it all over the walls like I did - that's what that backsplash is for :)

Place combined cake and frosting in freezer for 30 minutes at least.  Form into balls and place on a cookie sheet and back into freezer for another 30 minutes to an hour.  Melt chocolate or white chocolate bark and dip balls in the chocolate and then put back into freezer.  Are we starting to see a trend here?  A lot of steps are involved in this recipe, but its really pretty easy.  Finished product should look something like this:

The oreo balls are basically the same steps except easier.
1.  Chop 1 package oreos in food processor
2.  Mix with 1 package of cream cheese
3.  Freeze for a bit then roll into balls then freeze again
4.  Dip into 1 package of melted white chocolate chips and freeze a third time

Chiles Rellenos & Chicken and Carmelized Onion Taquitos

This is the second time I've attempted to make chiles rellenos at home.  They are soo good at the mexican restaurant and I'm starting to realize that maybe I should just leave it up to them!  I've made this recipe before (my fav of the two) and below is the recipe I made tonight.  Two completely different approaches, both good, but not as good as the real thing!  The recipe below was very light and fluffy but I think I prefer a thicker, crunchier crust.

4 Pablano (Pasilla) Chiles
1/2 pound Monterey Jack cheese (or pepperjack in my case)
1/4 cup Flour
3 Raw eggs (separated)
Olive oil or vegtable oil
Refried beans
Sour cream

Rinse the chiles.  Preheat your oven to broil.  Place the chiles in a baking dish and place on the top shelf of your oven.  Roast until the skins start to char and turn black in places, take the chiles out and flip them over.  When both sides are fairly evenly charred, remove them from the oven & wrap each chile in a moist paper towel or place in a sealed plastic bag to steam.  After a few minutes, check them. Once the skin comes off easily, peel each chile.  Cut a slit almost the full length of each chile.  Pull out fibers and seeds carefully and replace with a slice of cheese.  Mix together equal parts beans and sour cream and put a few spoonfuls of bean mixture inside peppers w/ the cheese.  Whip the egg whites at high speed with an electric mixer, until stiff peaks have formed.  Heat the oil in a skillet until a drop of water sizzles when dropped into the pan.
 Beat the egg yolks with one tablespoon flour and salt.  Mix the yolks into egg whites and stir until you have a thick paste.  Roll the chiles in 1/4 cup flour and dip each one in the egg batter.  Fry on both sides until golden brown. Place on paper towels to drain.  Top with Salsa (I used a salsa verde for mine but I think a red sauce would have been great also).

Now these Taquitos you have got to make!  I think I topped these with the Chicken & Caramelized Onion Taquitos.  Yummy!  Taquitos are really pretty easy to make and are something you can change up the fillings with and make what you are in the mood for.

You will need:
4 small Corn Tortillas
1 large chicken breast
1 yellow onion
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon sugar
S & P
other spices, I used cumin, garlic, crushed red pepper, and oregano
Shredded Cheese
Olive Oil

Preheat oven to 400.  Start by caramelizing your onions first because they are best cooked slow and low.  Saute sliced onion in butter & sugar, with a touch of salt.  Allow the onions to cook without stirring them too often until caramelized in color.  Saute diced chicken in spices of choice while onions are cooking.  Heat olive oil in a skillet.  Once oil is hot you want to fry both sides of the tortillas for just about 20 seconds per side, then place on paper towels to drain excess oil.  This will soften them up so they do not crack when you bend them and they will get crispy in the oven.  Layer tortillas with a small amount of cheese, onions, and chicken.  Bake for 10-12 minutes until crispy and slightly brown edges.  Top with sour cream or salsa of choice.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Homemade Honey Wheat Bread

I have been wanting to make some homemade bread to see how easy it was.  I was thinking it would probably taste great and a lot fresher and I really enjoy making things homemade and knowing what ingredients I put into them myself.  I have to admit however that this was pretty difficult by hand and the final product was not what I was looking forward to!  The bread was very dense and honestly took a lot of time & effort to make!  I think we will stick to purchasing bread in the grocery store unless we for some reason get a bread maker some day.

Recipe from here
1 cup warm water
1 tablespoon milk
2 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons instant active dry yeast
1. *Combine first 6 ingredients in a large mixing bowl; stir.
2. Add flours and yeast, and knead until dough is smooth and elastic, about 10-15 minutes. Place dough in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover with a clean towel and let rise until doubled, about 40 minutes.
3. Punch dough down; knead for a few minutes until smooth and then form into a loaf. Place in greased loaf pan and cover.  Let rise in a warm place until almost doubled in size, about 30 minutes.
4. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes. If loaf starts browning too soon you can cover with foil (I had no issue with that)
5. Remove bread from oven and allow to rest in pan for a few minutes. Remove to a wire rack and cover with a cloth. Slice and enjoy while still warm.  Leftover bread can be stored in an airtight bag or frozen until needed

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Molten Chocolate Cakes

I have the perfect desert for you to make any day of the year.  I made mine for Valentine's day and it was so yummy to come home to after dinner out with Cor.  These molten chocolate cakes will forever remind me of the cruise we took this summer with two other couples.  Such a fun time!  These chocolate cakes, served warm with vanilla ice cream, were one of the desert choices every night at dinner...and a few of us may or may not have ordered them every night.  They are literally irresistible.  Little did I know at the time, but they are also incredibly easy to make at home!  I mean like 10 minutes prep, 10 minutes cook, 10 minutes set up time and they're ready to go.  A molten chocolate cake is basically a small chocolate cake that has a warm melted center basically like chocolate sauce in the inside.  Oh it is soo good served warm w/ ice cream, I mean you just got to try it right away.  This is what it looks like to give you perspective on what you are missing in life:

The foodie bride did a series these past few weeks leading up to V-day showcasing chocolate deserts.  We all know I followed very closely :).  As soon as I saw this title come up on the right side of my blog I had to re-create the recipe ASAP, especially when she explained how easy they were to make!

Molten Chocolate Cakes
8 oz semisweet or dark chocolate, chopped (I used 1 1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips)
4 Tbsp butter, room temp
1/3 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 400. Spray 6-8 wells of a muffin tin with baking spray.  Melt the chocolate and set aside. Beat the butter and sugar on medium-high together for about 3 minutes, until light and fluffy (I didn't realize how light and fluffy this could get until I actually beat them together for 3 minutes - guess I'll do it longer next time I make cookies!).  Scrape down the sides and add 1 egg at a time, waiting until the egg is incorporated fully before adding the next one. Add vanilla. Switch mixer to lowest setting. Add the flour and salt and mix until just combined.  Add the melted chocolate and mix on low until thoroughly combined.
Fill each muffin tin almost to the top (the cakes will rise, but only very slightly). Bake for about 10 minutes. The cakes will look done on top and will jiggle if you give the pan a light shake. Remove from oven, let sit for 10 minutes. Place a plate on top of the muffin tin and invert to remove the cakes. Serve warm with ice cream.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Chicken & Black Bean Stuffed Pablano Peppers

I've made stuffed peppers before, but this was complete opposite.  This recipe used pablano peppers vs green peppers and chicken vs ground beef.  They were so good.  You might use half a jalapeno if you don't like it too spicy because ours was pretty spicy but it really depends on the jalapeno you buy.  The pablano peppers are a lot more flexible and once I removed the stem and seeds they really opened up all the way and I ended up just making them sort of open faced.

Chicken and Black Bean Stuffed Poblano Peppers:
Recipe adapted from For the Love of Cooking
3 poblano peppers (these are also referred to as pastillo peppers at the grocery)
2 cups of diced chicken
1/2 cup of black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup of sharp cheddar cheese
2 tbsp red bell pepper, diced
2 tbsp red onion, diced
2 tbsp cilantro, chopped
1/2 small jalapeno, diced
1 clove of garlic, minced
Salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
Dash of oregano
Dash of cumin

Clean the poblano peppers and carefully slit them down the center (be careful not to go all the way through the pepper).  
Broil until peppers are blackened on all sides in the oven and skin is bubbling.  Transfer the peppers to a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap (or in a plastic bag), and let cool for 10 minutes.  While peppers are blackening then cooling, season the chicken with S&P, oregano, and cumin and cook through in a sauté pan, then shred it or dice it small.  Combine the chicken, black beans, bell pepper, onion, cilantro, jalapeno, minced garlic, S&P to taste.  Once the peppers are cool enough to handle, remove the blackened skin – it should peel off very easily.  I pulled out the stem and the seeds also.  Place peppers in a baking dish and carefully stuff each pepper with the chicken and black bean mixture.
Top each pepper with the cheese.  Place in the oven and bake uncovered for 15 minutes or until the chicken is warmed through and the cheese is melted. Serve with guacamole, sour cream, and fresh salsa.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Pork Tenderloin stuffed w/ Artichokes & Mushrooms

Have you guys heard of all recipes?  My friend Katie told me about this website.  You can create a "recipe box" of your own on there and basically save web links from all different websites.  Its awesome.  And they also have a ton of great recipes on the website as well.

I found this recipe on there when I first signed up and wanted to make something like it.  The recipe was a pork tenderloin with a artichoke and mushroom stuffing but I decided to take out the stuffing part and make it a lot healthier.

1-2 pound pork tenderloin
1 can artichokes
1 small package of mushrooms
olive oil
2 cloves garlic
salt & pepper
italian seasoning
Saute artichokes and mushrooms (chopped first) in olive oil for a few minutes.  Add garlic and other seasonings for a few more minutes.  Butterfly pork tenderloin down the center and fill center with the artichoke and mushroom mixture.  Cover with foil and bake at 400 for around 25 to 30 minutes and then begin to check every 5 minutes to make sure not to overcook.  You want the pork to be still light pink in the center.  If you cook it perfectly it will be very moist and flavorful and will be able to cut with a fork.  This was such a good combo.  We served it with the hasselback sweet potatoes.

Hasselback Sweet Potatoes

I saw these and wanted to make them first because they were so pretty in her picture.  I also have never had sweet potatoes besides the sugared-up kind you have at Thanksgiving...crazy right!  These were good, but I would make them with regular potatoes next time.  I don't think sweet potatoes are me or Corey's thing.

Hasselback Sweet Potatoes (adapted from foodie bride)
1 sweet potatoes (they are big enough for us to split one)
olive oil
black pepper
1 Tbsp butter
Goat cheese, for serving
Thyme Vinaigrette (recipe follows)
Preheat oven to 425. Wash and pat potatoes dry. With a sharp knife, cut slits almost to the bottom (but not all the way through) of each potato. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and thyme. Cut butter into chunks and place on top of potato. Bake ~45 minutes, or until the center is tender. Crumble goat cheese over top and drizzle with Thyme Vinaigrette.

Thyme Vinaigrette
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 tsp mustard
1 Tbsp finely chopped shallot
2-3 Tbsp olive oil

Monday, February 7, 2011

Loaded Baked Potato Soup

Have you ever had this stuff?  I've never had soup this creamy.  I took Mrs. Sweet's advice for superbowl sunday and she did not disappoint.  Add in a little queso with chorizo to start the game out and we were set!

Baked Potato Soup
Serves 3 - slightly adapted from How Sweet
10 - 12 small red skinned potatoes, boiled until tender (not mashed potato tender - baked potato tender) and chopped with skins on
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup heavy cream
2 cups skim milk
1/2 cup chicken stock, if needed (I did not need this)
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
green onions, chopped
6 slices bacon, baked and crumbled (you can bake on a cooling rack set in a baking pan to keep out of the grease)
1.  Heat a large pot on medium heat. Once hot, add butter, melt, then flour, and whisk into a roux. Add heavy cream, and skim milk, continuously stirring until thickened. Stir in cheese, making sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom. Simmer for about 10-15 minutes to let it thicken up. Depending on desired consistency, add chicken stock. Stir in potatoes and heat through to warm, season with salt & pepper.  Serve in bowls topped with crumbled bacon and diced green onions.  This soup only got better the next day. I would suggest doubling the recipe if you want leftovers or are having people over.
I think my bowl was half eaten when I took this picture...opps!

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

Every once in a while we wake up in time for breakfast Sunday before church.  This morning I was inspired by Giada and a breakfast one of my friends once mentioned she had.  The ricotta made the pancakes very light and fluffy.  I didn't have perfect measurements and didn't taste the lemon as much as I wished but they were still great.  I think you could add some lemon zest for more flavor.  This recipe made 5 average pancakes for me and Cor.

1 cup bisquick
1/2 cup milk
1 egg
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup ricotta
maple syrup

Mix first five ingredients together then fold in ricotta leaving batter a little lumpy.  Cook pancakes on a griddle with butter.  Sprinkle pancakes with sugar right before flipping the first time.  Serve with maple syrup.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Ricotta, Spinach, and Feta Omelet

One of my favorite things about saturday mornings is that its the one day of the week we take the time to make a big breakfast.  I had leftover ricotta to use up from the lasagna I made on Sunday so I thought it would be the perfect thing to throw in an omelet.  I also had some spinach and feta in my fridge and thought that would be a good combo.  Let me tell was!

Heat a small skillet over medium heat and melt a little butter in the pan.  Whisk two eggs with a couple tablespoons of milk in a small bowl and pour into pre-heated pan.  Let this set up and start to cook partially through without touching the eggs.  Sprinkle a little salt, pepper, and italian seasoning over the entire egg surface and then sprinkle some shredded mozzarella over one half of the eggs (or other white cheese you may have).  Next sprinkle on some feta and then one layer of spinach leaves on the same half.  Next add ricotta by teaspoons (I added around 6 per omelet) over the same half.  I turn down the heat to medium low around this time and let the eggs continue to cook through without moving them. When your eggs are about done you can use a rubber spatula to check the bottom to make sure they are not burning.  Just before you are ready to flip up the half over the filling sprinkle a little more mozzarella over the filling so that the omelet will stay together.  Perfection!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Mexican Wedding Cakes

After I made these, Corey informed me that his favorite cookie was a mexican wedding cake.  No not snickerdoodles or double chocolate chip like he previously told me, but now mexican wedding cakes!  Another chance to try something new!  I found the recipe via the Joy of Baking.

2/3 cup toasted nuts (I used walnuts)
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted

Toast nuts at 350 in the oven for about 8 minutes until fragrant. Once the nuts have cooled completely place them, along with 2 tablespoons of the flour from the recipe, into your food processor, and process until they are finely ground (but not a paste).  Or you could just roughly chop and and toss with the flour which is what I think I would do next time.  That way you would get bigger pieces. 
Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla extract. Add the remaining flour and salt and beat until combined. Stir in the nuts. Your dough will be fluffy and sort of crumbly:
Cover and refrigerate the dough for about one hour or until firm. 
Preheat oven to 350. Form the chilled dough into 1 inch balls and place them 2 inches apart on the baking sheets (I used ungreased and they didn't stick at all). Bake for about 12 - 15 minutes, or until the edges of the cookies start to brown. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool for about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, sprinkle about 1/2 cup of the powdered sugar on the bottom of the baking pan and then place the slightly cooled cookies on top of the sugar. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar over the top of the cookies (or you can just roll the cookies in the sugar). Store in an airtight container. Makes about 2-3 dozen cookies.  Yum!
I didn't get to catch a picture of these before they were gone (with the help of buster who stole the last 5 out off the plate when we were upstairs!), but below is the picture from the joy of baking website.  You must try these when they are still a little warm out of the oven.  Phenomenal!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Vegetable Soup with Cheese Tortellini

In Indy its been snowing and icing like crazy (across the whole country actually - I think there is a 20 ft of snow blizzard in Chicago where my friend Katie lives).  When its cold out I think everyone craves something warming and comforting.  This soup will do it for ya.  And add this side dish, inspired by ina, and you'll forget you're eating something healthy!

Vegetable Soup with Cheese Tortellini - from Good Stuff Maynard 
Shredded chicken breast (1 or 2 breasts - our addition)
1/2 cup sweet yellow onion, chopped  (or red onion in my case was all I had)
2 carrots, coarsely chopped
2 stalks of celery, coarsely chopped
4-5 cloves of garlic, minced
6 cups of vegetable or chicken broth (I used reduced sodium and a mix of both)
1 15 oz can of diced tomatoes (I used the no salt added variety)
handful of basil leaves, roughly chopped (1-2 teaspoons dried)
1 teaspoon of oregano
salt and pepper, to taste
2 small zucchini, chopped into bite size pieces
1 small yellow squash, chopped into bite size pieces
13 oz frozen cheese tortellini
3 cups sliced fresh spinach (about 3 ounces)
Asiago cheese, shredded (or grated Parmesan was what we had)
olive oil
Place the olive oil in a large pot oven over medium heat. Add the chicken, onions, carrots and celery then cook 4-5 minutes or until chicken is cooked and veggies are softened. Add the seasonings and garlic then stir constantly for 60 seconds before adding the tomatoes and broth. Cover and let the soup simmer for 30 minutes.
Increase the heat to medium high, then add the tortellini, zucchini and squash. Cook for 10 minutes or until the tortellini is cooked through. Stir in spinach and simmer, uncovered, until spinach is wilted and all vegetables are tender, about 1 minute longer. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with Asiago cheese.
Note: If not serving immediately, add the spinach just before serving to retain the bright color and prevent overcooking.

Two 49 cent loaves from jimmy john's were calling my name after watching one of ina's episodes this past weekend.  She made her own ricotta (who does that?)  I did not, but I did use her idea to mix in some herbs to ricotta (purchased at the grocery) and spread it over some "grilled" bread.  Soo good.  This was phenomenal dipped in the warm soup.  I just brushed slices of this bread with olive oil and dusted w/ a little S&P and grilled on both sides on our griddle.

 Then spread a thin layer of herbed ricotta over the top and dip in the warm soup.  Don't mind if I do!

Cajun Southwestern Steak Salad

I forgot to take pictures...I must have been really hungry!

What you'll need for this salad:
Top Sirloin Steak (I purchased one that was about 3/4 of a pound)
Cajun or Creole spice
Sliced Almonds
Grape Tomatoes
Romaine Lettuce or Spinach
Red Onion
Garbanzo beans
Dressing of choice: may I suggest Ranch dressing or Balsamic Vinaigrette

Season steak on both sides with cajun seasoning and sear on both sides in a pan and finish is oven (or if its not 23 degrees outside like it is where I currently am, you could grill this and it would be fabulous).  Combine all other ingredients in a large bowl and top with sliced steak.