Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Fat Tire Beer Bread


Could it be? Bread made with no yeast, but instead made with yummy Fat Tire beer? Imagine the possibilities, fresh baked bread in under an hour! This fantastic recipe came from The Novice Chef. Next time, I will cut the butter in half. It was really tasty with all the butter, but I think it was a touch too greasy. I didn't have any issues with overflow at all, but I am going to have issues restraining myself from making this all the time!







Fat Tire Beer Bread

3 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 bottle (12 ounces) Fat Tire beer
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted (Note: Feel free to reduce to 1/4 cup.)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.

Using a wooden spoon, stir the beer into the dry ingredients until just mixed.

Pour half the melted butter into the loaf pan. Then spoon the batter into the pan, and pour the rest of the butter on top of the batter. Slide a baking sheet onto a lower rack to catch any butter that might overflow from the loaf pan.

Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until golden brown. Serve immediately.
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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

World's Best Gingerbread Cookies


The title speaks for itself. These are so easy since they are made entirely in the bowl of your food processor. These remain so soft and chewy for at least a week. This is a fantastic recipe and if you are any sort of gingerbread fan, you need to make them straight away.








Chewy Gingerbread Cookies

3 cups flour
¾ cup dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon baking soda
12 tablespoons (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces and softened slightly
¾ cup molasses
2 tablespoons milk

In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, process flour, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, salt and baking soda until well combined.

Add butter pieces and process until mixture resembles a very fine meal. Add molasses and milk, processing until mixture is evenly moistened and forms a soft mass. Divide dough in half and place each piece between two pieces of parchment paper. Roll until about ¼-inch-thick. Place in freezer for at least 20 minutes but overnight is fine as well.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Remove dough from freezer and cut into gingerbread or desired shapes. Place on parchment-lined sheet pans and bake for 9 to 12 minutes. Cool and decorate.

Makes about 2 dozen cookies.
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Monday, December 21, 2009

Oreo Balls


The amazingly talented Shannon made some incredibly delicious Oreo Balls for the Ornament Exchange at Courtney's house last week. She explained the recipe to me and I decided to give it a shot. What a challenge it was!

Three youtube videos later, I was still perplexed how to dip them in the melted chocolate. I tried two spoons, a toothpick, my fingers and then just one spoon...which was by far the most successful. I dipped about 10 and then tried to add the sprinkles, but the chocolate had hardened too much for them to stick, so I had to add a dollop. After C ate one he proclaimed that they taste the same as the chocolate covered Oreos you can get at the store. Sigh.

I have no clue how Shannon makes such beautiful cakes, cookies and candies. I am truly in awe because everything I attempt is a wreck.

Oreo Balls

8 ounces of cream cheese, softened
1 package (1.5 pounds) Oreos
1/2 package white almond bark

In a large food processor, pulse the Oreos to a crumb consistency. Add the cream cheese and pulse until combined. Roll the mixture into walnut sized balls and set on a cookie sheet covered in wax paper. Chill in the refrigerator for at least one hour. Melt the chocolate bark per the package directions then dunk the chilled balls into it, I found one spoon to be the easiest dunking method. Sprinkle immeadiately with any decoration you like, I used red and green sprinkles. Return to the refrigerator and store in a closed container.
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Monday, December 14, 2009

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Rolls


I have an embarassing amount of Pillsbury refrigerated products. They often are free with coupons at Kroger. When you combine your printed coupons from Coupons.com and Red Plum with the Kroger card loadable coupons at Cellfire and Shortcuts. These rolls were really easy. Miss F and I ate three a piece, C had EIGHT. I used the Pillsbury Recipe Creations, so I didn't have to press the triangles together. So easy!






Pumpkin Cream Cheese Rolls

Ingredients

2 packages/cans Pillsbury Crescent Rolls
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup canned pumpkin
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Unroll crescent rolls to form 4 rectangles placed side by side. Pinch seams together to form one long rectangle. Place cream cheese, brown sugar, pumpkin, cinnamon and nutmeg into a mixer; beat until well combined. Spread mixture over crescents leaving a 1/2 inch border around edges. Starting at long end, roll up then cut into 1 inch pieces. Place rolls in two 9 inch cake pans that have been sprayed with cooking spray.

Bake for 28-30 minutes or until rolls are golden brown. Remove and let cool for 10 minutes. Frost warm rolls with cream cheese frosting recipe below.

Frosting

4 oz softened cream cheese
1/2 Cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 Tablespoon canned pumpkin

Mix all ingredients into a large bowl until smooth. Spread over warm rolls.
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Saturday, December 12, 2009

Carrot Ginger Soup


I had a bunch of carrots left over last night since I had made a batch of minestrone for dinner. I try to keep a good stock of homemade soups and pastas in our freezer for Miss F to have for lunch while I am at work. Her favorites are tomato basil soup and butternut squash soup. I made this recipe up, basing it off other soup recipes. It made a lot for our freezer soup supply and it was really tasty. The unfortunate part was that during blending, I sprayed it all over the kitchen...and myself...whoops.





Carrot Ginger Soup

3/4 pound carrots, peeled and chopped
1 can (14 ounces) chicken broth
1 can (14 ounces) water
1 tablespoon onion
1/4 cup onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon ginger, minced
1/4 cup heavy cream

In a large pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the chopped onions and saute until translucent. Add the chopped carrots and saute for 2 minutes. Add chicken broth, one can of water and the ginger. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Working in SMALL batches, blend the soup in a blender. Return to the soup pot over low heat and stir in the cream.
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Monday, December 7, 2009

Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies


I made these last year and they were super salty. I cut the salt by a fourth and that improved them dramatically! These are from my Martha Stewart Living magazine from December 2008. I am taking the cookies to a cookie exchange tomorrow night and I am really excited to see what I come home with. Unfortunately, C got a little carried away (Miss F too!) and I am now one cookie short of where I need to be for tomorrow, I hope they understand.






Chocolate Thumbprints
Makes 72 cookies

For the Cookies:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/3 cups sugar, plus more for rolling
2 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Chocolate Ganache

For the Chocolate Ganache:
1 stick butter
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
3 teaspoons light corn syrup

To prepare the cookies:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift flour, cocoa powder, and salt into a small bowl. Cream butter and sugar with a mixer until pale and fluffy. Reduce speed to medium, add yolks, cream, and vanilla. Scrape sides of bowl. Beat in flour mixture until just combined.

2. Roll balls using 2 teaspoons dough for each, and roll each in sugar. Place 1 inch apart on parchment-lined baking sheets. With the handle of a wooden spoon, press gently in the center of each to create an indentation. Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until cookies are just set, about 10 minutes. (If indentations lose definition, press centers again.) Let cool slightly on baking sheets. Transfer cookies to wire racks, and let cool.

3. Spoon warm ganache into center of each cookie. Let stand until firm, about 15 minutes. Cookies will keep, covered, for up to 3 days.


To prepare the ganache:

Combine chocolate, 8 tablespoons butter, and corn syrup in a small heat-proof bowl. Set over a pot of simmering water; stir occasionally until melted and smooth. Allow to cool slightly. When cookies are cool, fill the thumbprints with the chocolate mixture.
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Friday, December 4, 2009

Chicken (Turkey) Tetrazzini


On of my most favorite clips from The Soup is the "chicken tetrazzini" clip from the Maury show. It is high-larious. I wonder if I can seduce men with my chicken (turkey) tetrazzini. Makes me laugh every time I see it...









Herbed Turkey Tetrazzini

1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup fresh mushrooms
1 red pepper, sliced (I used green because it is what I had)
1/4 cup each flour & butter
1 cup milk
1 cup chicken broth
1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 tsp dried whole tarragon
1/8 tsp pepper
1 dash of ground nutmeg
2-1/2 cups cooked spaghetti
1-1/2 cups turkey, cooked/chopped
1/2 cup shredded mozzerella cheese divided
chopped parsley
lemon slice halves
red pepper strips

Saute onion, red pepper and mushrooms in butter in a large, heavy
saucepan until just tender. Add flour, stirring well. Cook
one minute, stirring constantly. Gradually add milk and
chicken broth; cook over medium heat, stirring constantly,
until mixture is thick and bubbly. Stir in parsley,
tarragon, pepper and nutmeg. Stir in spaghetti, turkey,
and half of the cheese, mixing well.

Pour into a greased 1-1/2 quart casserole bake at 350 for
20 minutes. Sprinkle remaining cheese over the top and
bake an additional 5 minutes. Garnish with parsley, lemon
slices, and pepper strips.
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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Pie of the month: Apple Pie


I am still on the quest for the perfect apple for apple pie? Anyone out there have any tips? I used all Granny Smith this time, they were very firm after baking. My mom and Miss F loved it, but I wasn't as big of a fan. I used Martha Stewart's Pate Brisee, only increasing it by 50% instead of doubling it. I even used a deep dish pie plate, her recipe really makes an ample amount of dough.







Apple Pie

3 pounds (about 8) apples
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into bits

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Roll out half the dough 1/8 inch thick on a lightly floured surface, fit it into a 9-inch (1-quart) glass pie plate, and trim the edge, leaving a 3/4-inch overhang. Chill the shell and the remaining dough while making the filling. In a large bowl toss together the apples, each peeled, cored, and cut into eighths, 3/4 cup of the sugar, the flour, the cinnamon, the nutmeg, the salt, and the lemon juice until the mixture is combined well, transfer the filling to the shell, and dot it with the butter.

Roll out the remaining dough into a 13- by 14-inch round on a lightly floured surface, drape it over the filling, and trim it, leaving a 1-inch overhang. Fold the overhang under the bottom crust, pressing the edge to seal it, and crimp the edge decoratively. Brush the crust lightly with the milk, cut slits in it with a sharp knife, forming steam vents, and sprinkle the pie evenly with the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar. Bake the pie on a large baking sheet in the middle of the oven for 20 minutes, reduce the temperature to 350°F., and bake the pie for 20 to 25 minutes more, or until the crust is golden and the apples are tender.
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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Asian Pork Ribs


Once again, the crockpot has let me down. On the other hand, my father thought that this dish was a real winner...so you never know. The sauce looked so wonderful when I first tossed the ribs in it. The issue was that it got too water logged in the crockpot with all the moisture from the ribs. I will make this again for sure, but I will just grill the ribs with the wonderful sauce.

I think I just need to realize that the crock pot is for warming queso...






Asian Pork Ribs

1 medium yellow onion, sliced
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
5 lbs country-style pork ribs
2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted
2 tablespoons chopped green onions

Place onions in bottom of slow cooker. Combine brown sugar, soy sauce, ketchup, honey, vinegar, garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes in large bowl. Add ribs and turn to coat. Place ribs on top of onions in slow cooker. Pour sauce over ribs. Cover and cook on Low about 5 to 6 hours. (Timing always depends on your slow cooker. Each cooks a little differently.) Plate the ribs. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and chopped green onions.
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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Popovers


What could be more fun than popovers for Turkey Day? I love these rolls, especially how easy they are to prep. I have a recipe for Mini Parmesan Popovers that I was toying with, but I went with the plain popovers for Thanksgiving. Look for the parmesan popovers sometime soon...maybe for X-Mas dinner?

These "pop" up so beautifully and take me back to my childhood. You cannot ask for anything more than that.






Popovers

2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
2 cups milk
melted unsalted butter for brushing the popover pan

Into a bowl sift together the flour and the salt. In a small bowl whisk together the eggs and the milk. Add the milk mixture to the flour mixture, stirring, and stir the batter until it is smooth. In a preheated 450°F. oven heat a twelve-cup popover pan or twelve 2/3-cup custard cups for 5 minutes, or until it is hot, brush the cups with the melted butter, and fill them half full with the batter. Bake the popovers in the middle of the 450°F. oven for 20 minutes, reduce the heat to 375°F., and bake the popovers for 20 minutes more, or until they are golden brown and crisp
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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Pie of the month: Pumpkin Pie


C has been pestering me all day to eat a piece of this pie! To his credit, it is a gift to him, but he needs to be patient and wait for Thanksgiving dinner. This recipe is really easy to make, as long as you are able to find pumpkin where you live. Luckily, pumpkin is readily available here...which is especially fgood since I love making the pumpkin pancakes and pumpkin waffles so much.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!





Pumpkin Pie

1 can (15 ounces) solid pack pumpkin
¾ cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
½ teaspoon coarse salt
¾ teaspoon cinnamon
¾ teaspoon ginger
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk

Preheat oven to 350. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough disk 1/8 inch thick, then cut in to 16 inch circle. Fit into a 9 inch deep dish pie dish, leaving in inch overhang. Fold edges under.

Shape large, loose, half circles at edge of dough, then fold into a wave like pattern to create a fluted edge. Prick bottom of dough all over with a fork. Freeze for 15 minutes.

Whisk pumpkin, sugar, cornstarch, salt, cinnamon ginger, nutmeg, vanilla, eggs, and milk in a large bowl.

Transfer pie dish to a rimmed baking sheet and pout pumpkin mixture into the crust. Bake until center is set but still a bit wobbly, 50 to 55 minutes. Let cool on a wire wrack. Refrigerate until well chilled, at least 6 hours, preferably overnight.
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Monday, November 23, 2009

Chicken and Dumplings


I confess, I have never had chicken and dumplings before. It seems as if C hadn't either. I have had dumplings with stew before, which I have to say I like better, but these were quicker and easier than stew. This meal will go into the winter rotation for sure. I sort of took a mish mash of recipes from the internet and compiled this one. I didn't have buttermilk on hand, so I added one tablespoon of white vinegar in whole milk and let rest for five minutes. Works great in a pinch!






Chicken and Dumplings

3 large chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon oil
1/2 cup diced carrot
1/2 cup diced celery
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
1/3 cup flour
6 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup heavy cream

2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk

In a large, heavy pot, melt butter and heat oil over medium heat. Add carrot, celery, garlic, and bay leaves. Sauté until the vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the flour to make a roux. Continue to stir and cook for at least 2 minutes. Slowly pour in the chicken stock, 1 cup at a time, stirring well after each addition. Bring the sauce to a boil, add the chicken pieces and reduce the heat back to medium.

Let sauce simmer until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 15 minutes. Stir in heavy cream.

Sift dry ingredients together in a large bowl. In a small bowl, lightly beat the eggs and milk together; pour the liquid in the dry ingredients and gently fold. Mix just until the dough comes together, the batter should be thick.

Using 2 spoons, carefully drop heaping tablespoonfuls of the dumpling batter into the hot mixture. The dumplings should cover the top of the sauce, but should not be touching or crowded. Let the dumplings poach for 10 to 15 minutes until they are firm and puffy. Season with freshly cracked black pepper and garnish with chopped parsley before serving.
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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Chicken Pot Pie in Under an Hour


My normal chicken pot pie can take up to two hours to prep, which is quite a daunting task when I get home from work. It is C's birthday tonight, so he decided he wanted his favorite meal: Chicken Pot Pie. Instead of using the puff pastry sheets, I got the puff pastry shells. That way, the shells can bake while I make the chicken filling. The whole process took about 40 minutes from start to finsh, not bad at all for a weeknight meal. The best part is that there are leftovers for all, though you need another package of puff pastry shells for them.

The Pepperidge Farm website reminds me of my childhood. We would get the apple turnovers as a special treat!

Chicken Pot Pie in Under an Hour

½ cup butter
1 garlic clove, minced
1 small shallot, minced
1 cup flour
1 pint of cream (or half and half)
1 ½ cans of chicken broth
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon dried tarragon
¾ lb chicken, cut into bite sized pieces
1 russet potato, cut into bite sized pieces
10 oz package of mixed frozen vegetables of your choice
1 package of puff pastry shells

Preheat the oven to 400. Place the shells on a ungreased baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes.

Boil potatoes in a small saucepan for 10 minutes. While the potatoes are boiling, melt ½ cup butter in a Dutch oven with the garlic and shallot. After the shallot has softened, whisk in the flour a ¼ cup at a time (you may not need all of the flour). When completely mixed in, add the cream, whisking more to incorporate into the roux. Add 1 ½ cans of chicken broth. Continue whisking; add the bay leaf, the parsley, the tarragon, salt and pepper. Add the potatoes and chicken, let cook for 10-15 minutes on the stovetop to cook the chicken and thicken the sauce, stirring the whole time. Add the package of frozen mixed veggies (I use the peas, carrots, corn, green beans and lima beans mixture) and stir to incorporate. Cook for 5 more minutes to warm the vegetables through.

Remove the shell tops and fill each with the chicken pot pie filling. Serve.
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Sunday, November 8, 2009

Caramelized Onion Dip


I first made this dip for a Super Bowl party a few years back, it is always a hit and so easy to make. The worst part is slicing all the onions, it is worthwhile to break out your mandoline if you have one, the tears won't be as plentiful that way. This is an Ina Garten recipe and it can be made ahead, just pull the dip out of the refrigerator a couple hours before you want to serve it to soften it up. I serve this with a real potato thick chip, like the Kettle ones.






Caramelized Onion Dip

2 large yellow onions
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 ounces cream cheese , at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup good mayonnaise

Cut the onions in half and then slice them into 1/8-inch thick half-rounds. (You will have about 3 cups of onions.) Heat the butter and oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the onions, cayenne, salt, and pepper and saute for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 more minutes until the onions are browned and caramelized. Allow the onions to cool.

Place the cream cheese , sour cream and mayonnaise in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat until smooth. Add the onions and mix well. Taste for seasonings. Serve at room temperature.
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Monday, November 2, 2009

Apple Pork Chops


These were a hit. Next time, I will add more mustard, but overall the flavor was great. C even ate all the apples, which is quite the shock because he is not normally a fan of fruit with meat. He cleaned his plate and I didn't question it...

Miss F on the other hand didn't seem to be a fan. She didn't eat any of her pork, but she didn't eat any thing else either. To her credit, she did eat a ton of Cheerios while I was prepping the pork. It only took about 5 minutes, but she can eat her weight in Cheerios in that amount of time.



Apple Pork Chops

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon chopped shallot
2 (1/2-inch thick) pork chops
1/4 teaspoon salt
ground black pepper to taste
1 apple - cored and sliced
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground mustard
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 cup hot water

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Heat oil in an oven proof skillet with a well fitting lid. Saute shallots in oil for 1 minute, or until tender. Remove shallots and set aside. Salt and pepper the pork chops and brown on both sides in oil.

Cover the chops with the apples and cooked shallots. In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, mustard, cloves and water. Pour over chops. Cover and bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 45 minutes.
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Sunday, November 1, 2009

Chocolate Cheesecake


This is probably in my top five as far as desserts go. It is my mom's recipe and I absolutely love it. The sour cream topping is what sets it apart from the rest. The chocolate flavor isn't overwhelmingly rich, which is what makes it okay that the cheesecake is so rich on its own. I haven't made this in a couple of years and the 4 pound brick of cream cheese was calling my name at Costco. I needed some anyhow for the caramelized onion dip for Miss F's party, so why not have a treat this week?





Chocolate Cheesecake

Crust
1½ Cups Graham Cracker Crumbs
⅓ Cup Sugar
⅓ Cup Melted Butter

Filling
2 - 8 oz pkgs Cream Cheese
1 Cup Sugar
½ Cup Cocoa
1 Tsp Vanilla
2 Eggs

Topping
1 Cup Sour Cream
2 tbls Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla

Combine crackers, sugar, butter—press in bottom and ½ way up sides of 9-inch spring form pan (reserve 2 tbls crumbs).

Cream cheese with sugar, cocoa and vanilla. Blend in eggs. Fill crust and bake at 375° for 20 minutes. Cool 15 minutes.

Combine topping ingredients. Spread over cooked filling. Sprinkle crumbs on top. Return to oven at 425° for 10 minutes.

Chill overnight (this is the hardest part!)
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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Spinach Chicken Panini


I initially wanted to try an apple, cheddar and chicken panini, but I was pretty sure C would shoot that down instantly. I had a beautiful bunch of spinach from a salad that never got made, so I thought some cheesey spinach and chicken would work great together...and it did!










Spinach Chicken Panini

4 slices of whole wheat bread
butter
6 tablespoons mozzerella cheese, grated
2 tablespoons parmesan cheese, grated
a hand full of fresh spinach, rinsed and torn
1 boneless skinless chicken breast
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a shallow baking dish, coat the chicken with the olive oil. Sprinkle the top with the garlic and onion powders, salt and pepper to taste. Roast for 30 to 40 minutes. Let rest for 10 minutes. Slice into 1/4 inch thick slices

Butter four slices of bread. In skillet over medium heat, place one slice of bread, buttered side down. Layer one tablespoon of mozzerella, 1 teaspoon parmesan and layer half of the chicken slices. Layer another tablespoon of mozzerella, 1 teaspoon of parmesan and half a hand full of the torn spinach pieces. Layer another tablespoon of mozzerella and teaspoon of parmesan. Top with the another slice of bread. Press down on the sandwich and flip when the bottom is golden brown.

Repeat the sandwich layering for the second sandwich. Serve warm.
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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Butternut Squash Soup


I have made this countless times and everytime it is too thick, no matter how much I increase the chicken broth. Anyone have any ideas? Maybe the butternut squash I am using is too big. The taste of it is fantastic, so I don't want to lose any of the rich flavors.

Miss F loved it, she at almost a whole cup of it. C said that I could save the rest of his for Miss F, he was not a fan.






Butternut Squash Soup

1 butternut squash
1 medium white onion, finely diced
1 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup milk or cream
3 cups chicken broth
2 Tbsp brown sugar
dash of nutmeg
salt to taste

Cut squash lengthwise, remove seeds. Place on a roasting pan (sprayed with nonstick cooking spray) cut sides down in 375-degree oven for 45min to 1 hour (flesh should be soft when poked with a fork). Let cool completely. Sauté diced onion in saucepan with butter for 5 min or until onions are clear. Add chicken broth to onions and simmer for 5 min. Scoop squash into broth and cook on medium for 20 min. Depending on blender/food processor size, you may need to do two batches: pour saucepan ingredients into blender and puree. Add milk or cream and puree until smooth. Pour pureed soup back into saucepan and reheat. Add brown sugar and nutmeg, stir well. Salt to taste. Recipe yields 4 large servings
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Saturday, October 17, 2009

Crabbies


I first had crabbies at a baby shower for my friend Sarah. Carrie and I kept eating these delicious snacks and couldn't quite pinpoint what made them delicious, we just knew that they were. I couldn't get enough! If there are crabbies being served, count on me to eat at least half of them.

I had to go to two groceries yesterday in order to acquire the Old English Cheese. I am guessing it if were 1975, this wouldn't have been an issue. This recipe is best not to question, just know that when it comes out all warm and bubbly, you will love it!



Crabbies

8 ounces good white crabmeat, picked free of shells
1 (5 ounce) jar Kraft Old English cheese spread
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 dash hot pepper or cayenne pepper, to taste
8 large toasted English muffins
salt, to taste

Directions

In large bowl, combine all ingredients except bread and parsley. Spread mixture over bread rounds. Score each round into quarters and place on parchment-covered or greased baking sheet. Broil until topping is heated through and golden brown, about 3 to 5 minutes. Serve hot.
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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Chicken, Edamame and Noodle Stir Fry


I had bought a package of edamame a few weeks ago to try with Miss F. I never got around to trying them with her, so I figured I might as well incorporate them into dinner. This recipe was beyond easy and I loved it. It is from the woman who can do no wrong, Martha Stewart. Well, at least in my eyes. The federal government may disagree. This will go into the dinner rotation for sure. Everyone liked it and Miss F was a huge edamame fan. I used frozen chicken in order to get the nice and thin slices.





Chicken, Edamame and Noodle Stir Fry

coarse salt and ground pepper
8 ounces udon noodles or linguine
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (6 to 8 ounces each), cut crosswise into thin strips
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/2 napa cabbage (about 1 pound), thinly shredded
2 cups frozen shelled edamame
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce

Directions
In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook noodles until al dente, according to package instructions. Drain, and rinse under cold water; drain again, and set aside.

While pasta is cooking, in a medium bowl, toss chicken with cornstarch; season with salt and pepper. In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high. Cook chicken in two batches, until light brown on the outside and opaque throughout, 2 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a plate (reserve skillet).

Add remaining tablespoon oil to skillet; add onion and garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, until softened, 1 to 3 minutes. Add cabbage, and cook, stirring frequently, until tender, 2 to 4 minutes.

Add edamame, vinegar, soy sauce, chicken, and noodles; season with salt and pepper. Cook, tossing, until noodles and edamame are warmed through, 3 to 5 minutes.
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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Cheesy Bacon Chicken


The bacon from the Chicken Corn Chowder was burning a hole in my refrigerator, so I had to think of something to use it...and fast! I first went to my friend Lori's bacon wrapped pork tenderloin recipe, but there wasn't any pork tenderloin in my freezer (how can that be?)

There is a ton of chicken~ Kroger had chicken for 55 cents a pound and I had to stock up. Who doesn't love bacon and cheddar cheese? And on chicken, even better. Chicken cooked in the bacon grease...yummmmmm....




Cheesy Bacon Chicken

3 slices bacon
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 tablespoon onion, chopped
1 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Preparation:
Cook bacon in 12" skillet until crisp, about 4-6 minutes. Crumble bacon and set aside. Sauté chicken breasts in the bacon grease over medium heat, turning once, until chicken is cooked and no longer pink in center. Place chicken in greased 8x8" glass baking dish.

Cook onion and garlic in drippings remaining in skillet. Cook until onion is softened, then stir in salt, pepper, and cooked bacon. Spoon over chicken breasts and sprinkle with cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes until cheese is melted.

Serves 2.
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Sunday, October 11, 2009

Chicken Corn Chowder


A cool front blew in this weekend, so I thought some hearty chowder would be a good Sunday afternoon meal. And by cold, I mean it got into the 60s. This is a standard on my winter cooking list. I change it up often with whatever I have on hand, you can mix up the type of onion and potato, it really doesn't make a bit of difference. This was Miss F's first chowder and she was a fan, a bit impatient in waiting for it to cool off though.






Chicken and Corn Chowder

3 slices bacon, chopped
2 tablespoons shallots, minced
1 14 1/2-ounce can low-salt chicken broth
4 to 6 red new potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 cups corn kernels, fresh or frozen
2 skinless boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried
1 cup half and half

Cook bacon in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat until brown and crisp, about 5 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels and drain. Discard all but 2 tablespoons drippings from pan. Add shallots; sauté until beginning to soften, about 2 minutes. Add broth and potato. Cover pan; simmer 5 minutes. Add corn, chicken and thyme. Partially cover pan; simmer until chicken is cooked through and vegetables are tender, about 8 minutes. Add half and half and bring to simmer, about 2 minutes. Season chowder to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls. Sprinkle with cooked bacon and serve.
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Saturday, October 10, 2009

Puffy Pumpkin Pancakes


It's fall, getting cooler out, and time for more pumpkin-y treats. I made some pumpkin pancakes this morning that were super puffy due to the vinegar and baking soda combination. They were really fluffy and yummy! Miss F ate 2 whole pancakes and was clamoring for more. Both C and I were stuffed after two pancakes, so we figured she best stop after two...though she wanted more!







Puffy Pumpkin Pancakes
(makes 8)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
2/3 cup pumpkin puree
1 egg
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon vinegar

In a bowl, mix together the milk, pumpkin, egg, oil and vinegar. Combine the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger and salt, stir into the pumpkin mixture just enough to combine.

Heat a lightly oiled griddle over medium high heat. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each pancake. Brown on both sides and serve hot.
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Thursday, October 8, 2009

Chicken Soft Tacos

Long time, no post. We have been busy moving and enjoying lots of restaurant food in the interim. Tonight was the first night to cook in the new kitchen and I wanted to do something very simple. These chicken tacos are incredibly easy and tasty. I changed up the original recipe a little bit and I will definitely make them again. Miss F especially loved them!








Chicken Soft Tacos

3 chicken breasts
1 package El Paso chicken fajita seasoning
1 can Rotel
1/3 cup water
2 tablespoons olive oil

Sprinkle the fajita seasoning over the bottom of the crockpot. Arrange the three chicken breasts over the seasoning. Pour the can of Rotel over top along with the water and oil. Cook on low for 4 to 6 hours. Shred the chicken with two forks and cook for 30 minutes more. Serve with shredded lettuce, cheese and soft tortillas.
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Sunday, September 20, 2009

Artichoke Tarts


I hosted Bunco on Friday night, we had a fantastic time, but the foods were the highlight. I made artichoke tarts and need to add some of the fantastic recipes I had to my repertoire. There were amazing potato puffs coated in crushed cornflakes, shrimp wrapped in phyllo and chicken quesadillas. I stuffed myself silly. We also enjoyed some challah, apples and honey for Rosh Hashanah. It was a lovely evening spent with even more lovely friends, new and old.

I use a mini ice cream disher to fill the wontons, it's really easy.



Artichoke Tarts

32 (3 1/4-inch square) won ton wrappers
4 ounces (1 cup ) Cheddar Cheese, shredded
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard
1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 (14-ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained, chopped
Fresh parsley sprigs, if desired

Heat oven to 350°F. Spray 32 miniature muffin cups with no-stick cooking spray. Gently press 1 won ton wrapper into each muffin cup, allowing ends to extend above cups. Spray edges of wrappers with no-stick cooking spray. Set aside.Combine cheese, cream cheese, ground red pepper and mustard in medium bowl; mix well. Stir in bell pepper and artichoke hearts. Spoon about 1 tablespoon cheese mixture into each cup. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until cheese mixture is set and edges of wrappers are lightly browned. Garnish with parsley, if desired. Serve warm.
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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Ribeyes with Chimichurri and Maduros

One of my favorite restaurants is Americas. I love the fried plantain chips and the chimichurri. C was all excited thinking I was frying up plantain chips, so he was disappointed when it turned out to be maduros instead. This recipe makes a lot, so I am going to pick up so plantain chips tomorrow. He also picked all the chimichurri off his steak, he said he only likes it with the chips. I thought it was really flavorful.

For the plantains, just get ones that are starting to turn black. Peel the plantains and bias cut them. Fry them in about 1/4" of oil over medium high heat. Fry for five minutes on each side, drain on a wire rack over a baking sheet. You can keep the maduros in a warm oven while you finish them up. Miss F adored the fried plantains, I think they are going to be a favorite.

Chimichurri Sauce

1 large bunch of fresh flat leaf parsley
8 cloves of garlic, peeled
3 tablespoons minced onion
5 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
5 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 to 1 teaspoon hot pepper flakes to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup extra virgin olive oil

Chop up the parsley a bit. This will make processing easier. Add parsley and garlic to food processor and hit the pulse button a few times to mince. Add remaining ingredients and pulse some more. Stir in the oil.

If you like the fresh crisp flavor of parsley, use immediately. Letting it rest overnight will balance out the flavors.
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Thursday, September 10, 2009

Chocolate Chip Pancakes


After making two batches of chocolate chip cookies in one week, I was still craving chocolate chips. Thankfully I have the giant bag of chips from Costco. When I was in Paris as a kid, they served chocolate chip cookies along with the chocolate croissants for breakfast. How good is that? Maybe next Sunday I should just bake up a batch of cookies instead of pancakes. Miss F loved these pancakes and she made herself quite the chocolate-y mess. I even snuck her a plain chip or two, which she adored. These are great on a lazy Sunday morning...and I bet cookies would be even better.




Chocolate Chip Pancakes

1 egg
1 cup flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4- 1/3 cupchocolate chips

shortening (for cooking)

Whisk the egg in a large bowl, adding the buttermilk, butter and vanilla and mix well. Add flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix well. Fold in chocolate chips and let batter set for a few minutes. Heat the griddle over medium heat. Using a paper towel, spread shortening over the griddle. Pour ¼ cup of batter onto the griddle. Cook on the first side until bubbles that form start to pop. Flip the pancake over with a spatula and cook until golden brown. Repeat until all the batter is gone.
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Sunday, September 6, 2009

Sweet Orange Rolls


The Houston Junior League serves the world's best orange rolls. Considering they are the only orange rolls I have ever eaten, there isn't much competition. That being said, they are quite delicious and I really wanted to try my hand at them at home. We have a breakfast club at work every Thursday morning and this past week was my turn. This recipe made enough for two pans, perfect for a large crowd. Next time I will use the big oven, because the ones on the bottom rack got a little overdone on the bottom.




Orange Rolls

1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water (105 degrees to 115 degrees)
1 cup warm milk (110 to 115 degrees F)
1/4 cup shortening
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

Filling:
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
2 tablespoons grated orange peel (about two oranges worth)

Glaze:
1 cup confectioners' sugar
Juice from two oranges

In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in water. In a large mixing bowl, mix milk, shortening, sugar, salt and egg. Add yeast mixture and blend. Stir in enough flour to form a soft dough. Knead on a lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour. Punch dough down; divide in half. Roll each half into a 15-in. x 10-in. rectangle. Mix filling ingredients until smooth. Spread half the filling on each rectangle. Roll up, jelly-roll style, starting with a long end. Cut each into 15 rolls. Place in two greased 11-in x 13-in. baking pans. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes. Bake at 375 degrees F for 20-25 minutes or until lightly browned. Mix glaze ingredients; spread over warm rolls
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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Butternut Squash Ravioli with Sage Brown Butter Sauce

Since I am still "borrowing" the pasta roller from a friend, I decided to make more ravioli. I really think I need to invest in one of my own. I really enjoy making fresh pasta. Again, I used Joelen's recipe for the pasta. I used an Emeril recipe for the butternut squash. I have made this before using wonton wrappers, but it is so much better with fresh pasta. C asked "where's the meat?" Next time we have it, I will served meat with it since there was enough to freeze. This filling is fantastic, I would recommend trying it even with wonton wrappers. It is an easy fix for me, I used half the big squash for Miss F's food for the freezer and half for the ravioli.

Butternut Squash Ravioli

9 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons minced shallots
1 cup roasted butternut squash puree
Salt
Freshly ground white pepper
3 tablespoons heavy cream
3 tablespoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus 2 ounces
Pinch nutmeg
1 recipe pasta dough, rolled out into wide ribbons, about 1/4-inch thick
12 fresh sage leaves
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley leaves

In a large saute pan, over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter. Add the shallots and saute for 1 minute. Add the squash puree and cook until the mixture is slightly dry, about 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the cream and continue to cook for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in 3 tablespoons cheese and nutmeg, to taste. Season with salt and pepper. Cool completely.

Cut the pasta ribbons into 3-inch squares. Place 2 teaspoons of the filling in the center of each pasta square. Bring 1 corner of the square to the other, forming a triangle and seal the pasta completely. Add the pasta to pot of boiling salted water. Cook until al dente, about 2 to 3 minutes or until the pasta floats and is pale in color.

Remove the pasta from the water and drain well. Season the pasta with salt and pepper.

In a large saute pan, melt the remaining 8 tablespoons of butter. Add the sage to the butter and continue to cook until the butter starts to brown. Remove from the heat.

Place some of the pasta in the center of each serving plate. Spoon the butter sauce over the pasta. Sprinkle the 2 ounces of cheese over each plate and garnish with parsley.
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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Breadsticks


As a compromise to C, I made homemade breadsticks, but with garlic powder. He would prefer regular slice bread with butter and garlic powder. I prefer homemade bread with fresh garlic. This was a fair compromise. They were pretty tasty, but not garlicky enough for me. I had to serve mine with extra garlic salt for dipping.







Garlic Powder Breadsticks

For the Dough:
1 pkg. active dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp.)
4 1/4 cups all purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 T. unsalted butter, softened
2 T. sugar
1 T. fine salt

For the Topping:
3 T. unsalted butter, melted
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/8 to 1/4 tsp. garlic powder

Make the dough: Place 1/4 cup warm water in the bowl of a mixer; sprinkle in the yeast and set aside until foamy, about 5 minutes. Add the flour, butter, sugar, fine salt, and 1 1/4 cups plus 2 T. warm water; mix with paddle attachment until a slightly sticky dough forms.

Knead the dough by hand on a floured surface until smooth and soft, 3 minutes. Roll into a 2 foot long log; cut into 16 even pieces. Knead each piece slightly and shape into a 7 inch long breadstick; arrange 2 inches apart on a parchment lined baking sheet. Cover with a cloth; let rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400. Make the topping: Brush the breadsticks with 1 1/2 T. melted butter and sprinkle with 1/4 tsp. kosher salt. Bake until lightly golden, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, combine the remaining 1/4 tsp salt with the garlic powder. Brush the warm breadsticks with the remaining 1 1/2 T. melted butter and sprinkle with flavored salt.
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Monday, August 24, 2009

Chicken Tenders with Cream Gravy


After making the kitchen smell "super stinkers" according to C with my boiling lobsters and roasting shrimp, I decided to make something I know he was sure to enjoy: cream gravy. Actually, chicken tenders with cream gravy. The first time I ever visited a Dairy Queen was with C. And I remember being horrified by the steak fingers country basket with cream gravy dipping sauce. I just don't get it.






Chicken Tenders

2 chicken breasts, cut into strips
1/3 cup flour
1 egg, beaten
1/3 cup breadcrumbs
salt
pepper
oil for frying

Place the flour in one shallow dish, the egg in another and the breadcrumbs in a third. Salt and pepper the flour. Toss the chicken strips first in the flour, then the egg and finally in the breadcrumbs. Heat approximately 1/2 inch oil in a frying pan over medium high heat. Fry the chicken tenders, about 5 to 7 minutes on each side. Drain on a paper towel.

Cream Gravy

2 tablespoons of the oil from frying the chicken tenders
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
1/2 cup cream

Remove all but two tablespoons of the oil from the frying pan used to fry the chicken. Whisk in flour until well blended; cook over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes, until bubbly. Gradually add milk and cream; boil until thick and smooth, whisking constantly. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
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Saturday, August 22, 2009

Lobster Ravioli


I despise ricotta cheese, most lobster ravioli recipes I found had some amount of ricotta cheese mixture in it. I finally found one that didn't and tweaked it to suit my tastes. Anything with sherry in it is fine by me...

They turned out really nicely. I used Joelen's pasta recipe and used the Champagne Cream Sauce to top it. The sauce was not as good as the last time I made it. I think trying to make it for twelve servings was just too much.




Lobster Ravioli

2 lbs. lobster meat
1/2 lb. fresh mushrooms
2 tbsp. butter
2 tsp. minced shallots
1 1/2 cups cream
2 tbsp. flour
2 tbsp. quality light sherry
Salt & ground pepper to taste

Boil lobsters, remove meat. Clean & mince lobster meat. Wash & mince mushrooms. In sauté pan, soften butter, add shallots. Cook 2 to 3 minutes until translucent. Add lobster meat and mushrooms and cook for another minute. Slowly sprinkle flour over mix, stirring constantly. Add sherry, stirring constantly. Add cream and reduce for 2 to 3 minutes on low. The mixture should be on the medium to thick side. Remove from the heat and spread it out on a flat pan to cool. Roll out 4 ravioli pasta sheets. Using a biscuti cutter, cut pasta into circles. Add 1 teaspoon of mixture into the marked square. Lay the second sheet on top and use a ravioli tool to roll and seal. Transfer onto a sheet pan that has been lined with wax paper & sprinkle with corn meal (this helps prevent sticking). Bring water, salt & oil to a boil. Add raviolis quickly, but 1 at a time. Keep separated with a wooden spoon. Boil 3 to 5 minutes (preference). Remove with slotted spoon or skimmer.
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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Roasted Shrimp with Spicy Orange Champagne Sauce

Roasted Shrimp with Spicy Orange Champagne Sauce

1 pound fresh shrimp, peeled with tail left on
1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 cup orange marmalade
1/4 cup champagne
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
2 teaspoons red chili flakes
2 teaspoons hoisin sauce

Preheat oven to 425. Combine all ingredients except shrimp and olive oil in a small bowl and stir to combine. Toss shrimp with the olive oil and spread on a baking sheet in a single layer. Roast for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the size of the shrimp, until pink and opague. Serve with the orange sipping sauce.
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Monday, August 17, 2009

Tomatoes with Chive Goat Cheese

Tomatoes with Chive Goat Cheese

1 package sweet grape tomatoes
4 ounces of goat cheese
2 tablespoons of chives

Allow goat cheese to soften. Snip the chives with kitchen shears into quarter inch pieces. Stir chives in goat cheese. Slice each tomato in half lengthwise. Add the cheese to a ziploc bag, snipping off the corner. Using the ziploc, pipe a dollop of cheese on each tomato. Garnish with a chive piece.
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Smoked Salmon on Cucumber

This is the easiest appetizer ever. It is an assembly only task.

Smoked Salmon on Cucumber

1/4 pound smoked salmon
1 English cucumber
1/3 cup sour cream or creme fraiche
parsley

Peel the cucumber and slice into quarter inch slices. Top each slice with a teaspoon of sour cream or creme fraiche. Slice the salmon into pieces about twice the diameter of the cucumber slice. Top the sour cream with the smoked salmon and garnish with a sprig of parsley. In the words of Ina, how easy is that?
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Sunday, August 16, 2009

Artichoke Soup

I hosted a dinner party last night and decided to make a soup because I love soup and as an excuse to use my new china soup bowls. I decided to try artichoke soup. I had never had it before, my friend Lori raves about the artichoke soup from the Junior League. I had picked some up for her awhile back, but it was lost in the freezer due to Hurricane Ike. I haven't seen it back on the menu there, but I check for it every time I am at the League.

This soup was tasty and easy. The original recipe called for a roux, but once I got done straining it, I didn't think it needed thickening, so I went ahead and didn't use it. I made croutons with some 10-grain bread I had. Just cut the crusts off the bread, cube it and toss in a ziploc bag with a tablespoon of olive oil. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes, turning once halfway through cooking.

Artichoke Soup
makes 8 servings

3 cans, drained artichoke hearts
2 med.-lg. Potatoes, peeled and sliced
1/2 med. Onion, peeled and sliced
3 Celery stalks, chopped
2 clove Garlic, finely chopped
6 Cups Chicken or vegetable stock
2 Tbsp. Fresh minced flat-leaf Italian parsley
1/2 Tsp. Dried oregano
1 Tsp. Dried basil
1 Cup Heavy cream
1 Tsp. Salt
1 Tsp. Pepper
2 Tsp. Fresh lemon juice

Cook vegetables, in water until soft, approx 10-12 minutes. Drain. In blender, purée cooked vegetables, artichokes and garlic. Return to pot. Add the herbs and stock. Simmer for 20 minutes. Add the heavy cream. Bring soup back up to boil and season with salt, pepper and fresh lemon juice to taste. Strain through a fine strainer or colander. Serve with croutons.
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Friday, August 14, 2009

Pink Champagne Cake


I am hosting a champagne dinner for 12 women tomorrow night, I made the cake today. It took nearly a whole bottle of pink champagne, so how can it not be tasty?










Champagne Cake
6 egg whites
3 cups sifted all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup shortening
2 2/3 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
8 to 10 drops pink or red food coloring
2 cups pink champagne

Let egg whites stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Grease pans and line with parchment paper. Grease paper and lightly flour pans.Preheat oven to 350. In a medium bowl stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt, set aside.In a large mixing bowl beat shortening with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar, vanilla, food coloring and beat until well combined. Gradually add egg whites beating well after each addition. Alternately add flour mixture and champagne to beaten mixture starting and ending with flour just until combined. (batter will appear curdled after champagne additions, but smooth after all of the flour mixture has been added.Pour in prepared pans and bake for 35-40 minutes until toothpick comes out clean.


Champagne Frosting
1/2 cup softened butter
5 cups sifted powdered sugar
1/2 cup Champagne
few drops of pink food coloring
2 teaspoons vanilla

Beat butter for 30 seconds gradually add powdered sugar, champagne and vanilla. Beat until of spreading consistency.
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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Chicken and Shrimp with Asparagus


Once again, Dorothy Huang's cooking class has come through. I adapted her cashew chicken recipe to suit this one and it worked great, except I had to cook my shrimp separately since C won't eat them. He came downstairs, spied the shrimp and said with a sneer, "I knew I smelled something." Miss F loved it as well, she didn't get to have any shrimp (not until she turns one!), but she loved the rice, chicken and asparagus. I would have added other veggies, but asparagus were 99 cents a pound at the Kroger grocery store wars, so they went solo. They worked great with the sweetness of the shrimp.



Chicken and Shrimp with Asparagus

1/2 pound chicken, cut into 3/4" pieces
1/2 pound shrimp, peeled and cleaned
3/4 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 3/4" pieces
1/4 onion, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ginger, minced
2 tablespoons oil

Seasoning sauce:
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon sherry
1 tablespoon corn startch

Sauce:
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon sherry
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon corn startch

Whisk together the seasoning sauce ingredients until combined. Add the chicken, marinate for 15 minutes, set aside. Whisk the sauce ingredients until combined, set aside.

Heat oil in wok over high heat. Add onion, garlic and ginger to the wok. Saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the chicken and marinade, stir fry for 3 minutes. Add the asparagus and shrimp, stir fry for another 2 to 3 minutes, until shrimp are pink. Add the sauce and stir fry for about a minute to coat and thicken it. Serve over rice.
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Sunday, August 9, 2009

Long time, no post...


It has been quite a busy time around here lately, with a whole lot of dinners out. This translates to very little cooking, except for Miss F (see bottom post). I have had great food at Bar Annie (tuna tartare, steak and fries), McCormick and Schmicks (happy hour, complete with raw oysters), Niko Nikos (gyros) and Ninfa's (Mixta Acapulco - which is fancy for shrimp, beef and chicken fajitas). I had a good size to go box from Ninfa's, so I whipped up some easy quesadillas.





Easy Quesadillas

remains for a good plate of fajitas (El Tiempo, Pappasitos, etc...)
tortillas (always ask for extra with your to-go)
1 heaping tablespoon for every quesadilla of shredded Mexican cheese, your favorite blend

Heat up a skillet on high. Lay one of your to-go tortillas and pile on the leftover fajita meat, torn into bite size pieces, on one half of the tortilla. Add a tablespoon of cheese and fold over the tortilla, flip the quesadilla over and warm for another minute or so, until the cheese melts and the tortilla gets a nice toast to it. Repeat with as many leftover tortillas as you like.

Cooking for Miss F has been such a joy for me so far. I am happy to say, Miss F has never had an ounce of jarred baby food. No real recipes needed, just steam, bake, boil whatever you like and mush into baby food, consulting Wholesome Baby Food whenever I was unsure about anything. Now that she is getting into more and more table foods, I have been on the lookout for ideas to leave for her lunch. Something that is good for her and easy for our nanny to heat up for her. I have done a couple pasta dishes and she loves getting Tomato Basil Soup. I never had any desire to do any type of meat baby food, but now that she can enjoy pieces of meat, I figured that would be a good fix for her lunch time. I boiled one chicken breast and shredded the meat. I divided it into three containers and I flavored each one differently so she wouldn't get bored with plain old boiled chicken. I added a couple teaspoons of tomato paste (Italian) to one, Hoisin sauce (Asian) to another and ranch dressing (Texas) to the last batch. I hope she likes her chicken around the world this week. Next weekend I am going to make the mini turkey meatballs that my friend Sarah makes, what a fantastic idea!
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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Potato Gratin Cups


Melissa d'Arabian, the winner of The Next Food Network Star, was the inspiration behind this dish. On her pilot presentation on this past Sunday's show, she made a simple chicken dish, but it was the brief mention of this gratin that piqued my interest. Her explanation was simple, potato slices+cream+cheese in a muffin tin. How brilliant is that and why have I not thought of it before. I normally make gratin the old school style which requires a lot of time (but so worth it), this dish is easy for a weeknight meal. Next time I will use another kind of cheese and possibly add some minced garlic.



Potato Gratin Cups

2 to 3 large russet potatoes
3/4 cup cream
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
cooking spray

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spray a 12 cup muffin tin with no stick cooking spray. Slice the potatoes 1/8" thick using a mandoline. Layer potato slices in each muffin cup. Top each with a teaspoon of cheese. Layer the remaining potato slices. Pour one tablespoon of cream over each cup and top each with another teaspoon of cheese. Salt and pepper to taste. Bake for 25 minutes.
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Monday, August 3, 2009

Sausage Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms


I adapted this from an Emeril recipe. Both pork sausage and portobello mushrooms were on special, with Foodie Points, at Central Market this week. I love stuffed mushrooms, so I figured to give giant stuffed mushrooms a try, entree sizing the wonderfully poppable stuffed mushrooms. Next time I will just use one giant mushroom and cut it in half, neither of us was able to nearly finish the whole giant portobello. I served it with a spring green mix tossed with buttermilk ranch.

C's first comment, "I like mushrooms in small doses". Uh oh!

After he tried it, he admitted to liking it. Phew! Though he did think that it would be better topped on a pizza instead of a mushroom. His grand plan is to combine the sausage mix with the pizza crust from the Thai Chicken Pizzas. That idea may not be half bad.

Sausage Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

2 large portobello mushrooms, stemmed (reserve minced stems)
3 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
5 ounces hot Italian sausage
5 ounces sweet Italian sausage
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/8 cup finely chopped celery
2 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1 egg, lightly beaten

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Using your hands, lightly rub each portobello mushroom with 2 teaspoons of olive oil.

Cook the sausage in a medium skillet until browned, about 4 minutes. Add the onion, bell pepper, celery, and mushroom stems and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Remove from heat.

Transfer sausage-vegetable mixture to the bowl of a food processor. Add, 1/4 cup of the bread crumbs, 1/4 cup of Parmesan, and the remaining 2 teaspoons of olive oil. Pulse until mixture is finely chopped and comes together slightly, about 30 seconds. Transfer the mixture to a bowl, add the egg, and stir until well combined.

Divide the filling among the mushroom caps, about 1 cup for each mushroom. Place the filled mushrooms on a baking sheet. Combine remaining 1/4 cup of bread crumbs and 1/4 cup of Parmesan in a small mixing bowl. Divide the bread crumb mixture evenly among the tops of the mushrooms. Bake until golden brown on top and the mushrooms are tender, about 15 to 18 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool slightly. Garnish with remaining tablespoon of parsley.
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Saturday, August 1, 2009

A year of pies: Peach

Since peaches were on super sale, this month's pie got made the very first day of the month. The filling was very runny, but wonderfully tasty. Even Miss F enjoyed it~ her first dessert ever. C ranked this better than the cherry, but not as good as the blueberry (top rated pie!) I only increase Martha Stewarts crust recipt by 50%, since it makes so much and I still had crust leftover after making the double crust. I made a nifty peach topper for the pie and saved the rest in the freezer.

The easiest way to peel a peach is to submerge it in boiling water for 30 to 45 seconds, then dip it in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. The skin comes right off!

Peach Pie

Pie crust (recipe follows)
4 to 5 cups peaches, peeled and sliced (about 7 large peaches)
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 egg

Preaheat the oven to 400 degrees. Combine peaches, sugar, flour, cinnamon and nutmeg. Spoon filling into 9" pie crust and top with the second rolled out crust. Crimp the edges and brush the top of the pie with an egg wash. Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes on a baking sheet to catch any possible overages. Let cool for 3 hours before serving.

Pie Crust
(two crusts)
3 3/4 cups flour
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into 1//2 inch cubes
5 to 6 tablespoons ice water

Pulse flour, sugar and salt in a food processor until combined. Add butter and process until mixture resembles coarse meal, about 10 seconds. With the machine running, add ice water in a slow steady stream until mixture just begins to hold together.

Shape dough into two disks, wrap in plastic and refrigerate 1 hour or up to 3 days, before using.
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Friday, July 31, 2009

Pork Tenderloin en Croute


I first made this recipe years ago, back when the Food Network was enjoyable and I watched Sara Moulton religiously. Emeril's show always followed hers, so sometimes I caught it, back in the days before DVR allowed such control over my television viewing. His recipes never disappoint and this one is no exception. It's a nice spin on Beef Wellington, a much cheaper version! Mine took longer than the recipe called for in the oven, the puff pastry wasn't nearly done after 20 minutes, it took a good ten minutes more.




Pork Tenderloin en Croute

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup minced shallots
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 pound assorted mushrooms, stems trimmed, wiped clean, and finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley leaves
2 (1 1/2 pound) pork tenderloins
1 tablespoon Essence (I used Tony Chacheres)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 sheet prepared puff pastry, thawed if frozen
1/4 cup Creole mustard or any whole-grain mustard
1 large egg, lightly beaten with 2 teaspoons of water to make an egg wash

To make the mushroom stuffing, in a large, heavy skillet melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and garlic, and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the mushrooms, salt, and pepper, and cook, stirring, until the mushrooms are wilted and begin to caramelize, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the wine and cook, stirring to deglaze the pan and until the liquid has almost all evaporated and the mixture is tight, about 5 minutes. Stir in the parsley and remove from the heat. Let cool completely before using.

Season the pork tenderloins with the Essence.

Heat the oil in a skillet or Dutch oven large enough to hold the tenderloins over medium-high heat. Add the tenderloins and reduce the heat to medium. Sear evenly on all sides and cook, turning frequently. Remove pork from the pan and cool for 10 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil and lightly grease. Set aside.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry to a 12 by 18-inch rectangle. Place the pork tenderloins on 1/2 of the puff pastry, leaving a 1-inch border around the edges. Evenly coat the tenderloins on all sides with the mustard.

Pack the cooled mushroom mixture around the pork tenderloins. Brush a 1/2-inch border of egg wash on the pastry around the meat. Gently pull the remaining pastry over the meat to completely enclose, and press gently to seal. With a small knife cut away the excess pastry to make an even border and crimp the pastry edges with a fork dipped in flour. Make a small slit in the top of the pastry for steam to vent.

Carefully transfer the tenderloin to the prepared baking sheet. Brush the pastry evenly with egg wash. Bake for 10 minutes, then rotate the pan. Bake until golden brown and an instant read thermometer reaches 140 degrees F, an additional 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minute before serving.
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Monday, July 27, 2009

Thai Chicken Pizza


This is one of the most awesome pizzas I have ever eaten, I absolutely loved it. C thought that the crust was fantastic, but it would have been much better with "normal stuff, like pepperoni". His other thought on it was that peanut sauce does not belong on a pizza. Well, I thought the peanut sauce went fantastically on the pizza and I am glad I am going to be able to enjoy all the leftovers myself. I didn't have any green onions on hand, but I didn't miss them at all. For the future, I will halve the recipe, making one for me and one "normal" one for C.




Thai Chicken Pizza

Sauce:
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
2 teaspoons minced ginger (or more if you wish)
2 minced garlic cloves
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
2 tablespoons water

Chicken:
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 3/4 inch cubes

1 pizza dough, use your own recipe
cornmeal or flour, for handling
1 ½ cups shredded mozzarella cheese
4 scallions, slivered diagonally
1/2 cup white bean sprouts
1/4 cup shredded carrot

Directions
Combine sauce ingredients in a small pan over medium heat. Bring the sauce to a boil; boil gently for one minute. Divide into 2 portions for use on chicken and pizza; set aside.

To make chicken: Cook the chicken in olive oil over med-high heat, stirring, until just cooked; 5 to 6 minutes do not overcook. Set aside in refrigerator until chilled through. Once chilled, coat the chicken with ¼ cup sauce. Set aside in refrigerator.

To make the pizza: Use a large spoon to spread ¼ cup sauce evenly over pizza dough within the rim. Cover sauce with ½ cup cheese. Distribute half the chicken pieces over the cheese followed by half the green onions, bean sprouts, and carrots, respectively. Sprinkle an additional ¼ cup cheese over the toppings. Make the second pizza in the same fashion. Transfer the pizzas to oven; bake until crisp and golden and the cheese is bubbly, 9 to 10 minutes. When cooked through, remove pizza from oven.


Pizza Dough
Barefoot Contessa

Ingredients

5/8 cups warm (100 to 110 degrees F) water
1 package dry yeast
1/2 tablespoon honey
1 1/2 tablespoons good olive oil
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for kneading
1 teaspoon kosher salt

For the dough, combine the water, yeast, honey, and olive oil in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add 1 ½ cups flour, then the salt, and mix. While mixing, add ½ more cup of flour, or enough to make a soft dough. Knead the dough on low to medium speed for about 10 minutes until smooth, sprinkling it with flour, if necessary, to keep it from sticking to the bowl.

When the dough is ready, turn it out onto a floured board and knead by hand a dozen times. It should be smooth and elastic. Place the dough in a well-oiled bowl and turn it several times to cover it lightly with oil. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel. Allow the dough to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Divide the dough into 2 equal parts and roll each one into a smooth ball. Place the balls on a baking sheet and cover them with a damp towel. Allow the dough to rest for 10 minutes. Use immediately, or refrigerate for up to 4 hours.

If you've chilled the dough, take it out of the refrigerator approximately 30 minutes ahead to let it come to room temperature. Roll and stretch each ball into a rough 12-inch circle and place them on baking sheets sprinkled with cornmeal.
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Sunday, July 26, 2009

Barbecue Beer Chicken Thighs


These were incredibly easy and very yummy. The meat nearly fell off the bone, even Miss F got to try her first pieces of chicken. No longer a vegetarian!

I served mashed potatoes and sugar snap peas with it. The chicken had a nice vinegary kick to them, which tasted incredible, but made the garlic turn blue. Apparently, the acidity in the vinegar can do that. It was the oddest sight, luckily, it doesn't affect the edibility.




Barbecue Beer Chicken Thighs

4 chicken thighs
1 cup beer (I used Pilsner Urquell)
1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon Worchestire sauce
2 teaspoons mustard
1 small onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, smashed
Hot sauce to taste

Combine all ingredients except the chicken thighs in the crockpot. Stir together to incorporate. Add the chicken thighs and spoon the sauce over to coat. Set the crock pot to high and cook for 5 to 6 hours.
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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Pork Chops with Grilled Nectarines

This is a Bobby Flay recipe. I had some extra nectarines from making F's baby food, so I googled nectarines and pork and this popped up. I like anything that is all on the grill, easy clean up, even though it is C who does the cleaning. The worst part is tending to the coals and making sure they get white hot.

C liked this one, which really surprised me. I would never have guessed he would have been a grilled fruit fan. The pork cooked up nice and juicy on the grill, I bet it would be great with other grilled fruits, like mangoes or peaches. Miss F enjoyed her grilled nectarines, though she didn't get any sauce with it since infants under one cannot have honey. She also tried some of the grilled corn, but she was having trouble picking up the kernels. To her credit, it was even hard for me to pick them up.
Pork Chops with Grilled Nectarines

Two 6-ounce center-cut boneless pork chops, about 1 inch thick
Olive oil, for brushing
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 firm nectarines, halved and pitted
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 tablespoon honey
1/4 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 tablespoon shredded basil

Directions
Brush the chops with oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill the chops over high heat, turning once, until cooked through, 10 to 11 minutes. Transfer to a plate; let rest for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, brush the nectarines with olive oil and grill cut side down until browned, about 3 minutes. Turn and grill until charred and softened, about 2 minutes longer; cut into 1/2-inch dice. Put the nectarines in a bowl and stir in the vinegar and honey. Add the onion and basil, season with salt and pepper. Serve the pork chops topped with the relish.
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Monday, July 20, 2009

Chicken Lo Mein

I got this fantastic recipe from this blog. It was so good, even C dubbed it "super yummy". Miss F also sampled some of the noodles and mushrooms mixed with her acorn squash, she was also a big fan, but she is very easy to please. I had to sub in sugar snap peas for snow peas, but they worked just fine. Any vegetables that you would normally have in stiry fry will work in this recipe.

I found it entertaining that my grocer had at least 10 different kinds of lo mein noodles (go Asian section at HEB), but no snow peas, not fresh nor frozen. It was even better that my noodle choice had no directions on them, 8 minutes in boiling water may have been a tad too long.



Chicken Lo Mein

Ingredients:
6 oz. lo mein noodles
1 tbsp. oyster sauce
2 tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup chicken broth
Pinch red pepper flakes
1/2 tbsp. canola oil
1 medium chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 small onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, seeded and sliced thin
1 cup snow peas
4 oz. sliced mushrooms
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. sesame oil

Directions:
Bring a pot of water to boil. Cook the lo mein noodles according to the package directions. Drain and set aside. In the meantime, make the sauce by combining the oyster sauce, soy sauce, chicken broth and red pepper flakes in a small bowl. Whisk well and set aside.

Heat the canola oil in a large nonstick skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add the chicken to the pan and cook until browned and cooked through. Add in the vegetables, each a few minutes apart, starting with the onion and bell pepper and ending with the mushrooms. Cook just until tender-crisp. Add in the garlic and saute just until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add the sauce to the pan, and then the cooked lo mein noodles. Toss the mixture well to coat everything. Drizzle with the sesame oil and toss once more. Serve immediately.
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