Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Baked Pesto Chicken

I love finding recipes that require ingredients that are already in the house (I hate last minute trips to the market). This recipe is so easy and delicious! I made it with brown rice and a salad.


4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1/3 cup Refrigerated Pesto with Basil
3 sliced tomatoes
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese


1. PREHEAT oven to 400 F. Line baking sheet with heavy-duty foil.
2. PLACE chicken and pesto in medium bowl; toss to coat. Place chicken on prepared baking sheet.
3. BAKE for 20 to 25 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink in center. Remove from oven; top with tomatoes and cheese. Bake for an additional 3 to 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Date and Nut Bread (Barefoot Contessa)

* 2 cups coarsely chopped dates (10 ounces pitted)
* 1/3 cup orange liqueur (recommended: Cointreau or Triple Sec)
* 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
* 3/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
* 1 extra-large egg
* 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
* 1 tablespoon grated orange zest (2 oranges)
* 2 cups all-purpose flour
* 2 teaspoons baking powder
* 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
* 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
* 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
* 1 teaspoon kosher salt
* 3/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (3 oranges)
* 3/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans (3 ounces)


For the cream cheese spread:

* 6 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
* 1/3 cup granulated sugar
* 1 tablespoon grated orange zest

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the bottom of an 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 by 2 1/2-inch loaf pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pan.

Combine the dates and orange liqueur in a small bowl and set aside for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and brown sugar together on medium speed for 1 minute. Scrape down the bowl. With the mixer on low, add the egg, vanilla, and orange zest. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt. With the mixer still on low, add the flour mixture alternately with the orange juice to the creamed mixture, beating only until combined. By hand, stir in the dates with their liquid, and the pecans.

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and smooth the top. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.

Meanwhile, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the cream cheese, sugar, and orange zest on medium speed until just combined.

Slice the bread and serve with the orange cream cheese on the side for spreading.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Chicken Butternut Tagine

So I made this yesterday and it was so yummy and Greg loved it (he usually doesn’t like new unusual things)! Even without all the things I left out it was so good and I also didn’t have couscous so I used the broth with some rice and it was good too.
Chicken-Butternut Tangine With Pistachio coucous
This is another delicious one from Cooking Light magazine
1 tablespoon of Olive oil
2 Cups chopped onion
2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground Turmeric (didn’t have this)
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into bite sized pieces
2 cups fat free, less sodium chicken broth
8 ounces peeled cubed butternut squash
1/3 cup halved pitted picholine olives (didn’t use these either)
8 pitted dried plums, chopped (didn’t use these)
Fresh flat leaf parsley leaves (optional)
1. Heat oil in a dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion; cook 8 minutes or until golden, stirring occasionally. Stir in Cumin and next 7 ingredients (through chicken); cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.
2. Stir in broth, squash, olives, and dried plums, bring to a boil. Cover reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 10 (or 15) minutes or until squash is tender. Garnish with parsley. Yield 4 servings (serving size 1 ¼ cups) Calories 309; fat 8.8g; protein 29.8g; fiber 5.2g

Pistachio couscous
Bring ¾ cup fat-free chicken broth to a boil in small sauce pan. Stir in ¾ cup uncooked couscous; cover and remove from heat. Let stand 5 minutes; fluff with fork. Stir in 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind and ¼ cup chopped pistachios.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Apple Pie/Cobbler/Shortbread

Not sure exactly what to call this besides delicious. I stole this recipe from my sister-in-law's boyfriend-- YUM! This is the kind of baking I like-- more of an art than a science. I made extra crust because it was super delicious, and make sure not to skimp on the sugar and honey because that is what makes the consistency perfect. It makes the juice from the apples gelatinize perfectly! Also, don't cut the apple slices too big or they don't cook through, and don't cut them too small because when they cook they shrink ;-)

-1 cup flour
-1/2 cup sugar
-1 stick softened butter
-pinch of salt

Pie Filling:
-8 or 9 Golden Delicious apples, peeled/sliced
-1/2 cup sugar
-honey (maybe 2 or 3 tablespoons?)
-cinnamon (there isn't an exact amt, just to taste for both cinnamon and honey)

Mix apples + sugar and cinnamon in a bowl, then put into pie dish. Drizzle with honey and sprinkle with more cinnamon -- both liberally. Mix the crust ingredients either by hand or in a Cuisinart until it becomes dough. Tear off little pieces, pat flat and spread over top of pie (when you cover the whole thing it will look like a cobblestone road, hence the "cobbler" but it tastes more like a shortbread). Bake at 375 for about 50 minutes or until golden. Make sure you put a sheet of tin foil on the oven floor in case of dripping sugar (but not over the top of the pie!). And that's it! Yum.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

In honor of my darling husband's birthday, I'm finally posting this long awaited recipe. Tyler, now you don't have to wait for my next visit!

I found this recipe on one of my favorite food blogs, Smitten Kitchen. This cake is insanely good, and just as rich, so start with a small piece, a tall glass of milk, and invite over a lot of friends. The chocolate cake itself is the best chocolate cake I've ever had and would work in any chocolate cake recipe, or even plain without any frosting, so don't limit yourself to just this recipe! (And Ben thinks the frosting would make dog food taste good.) And now......

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

-2 cups all-purpose flour
-2 1/2 cups sugar
-3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Dutch process
-2 teaspoons baking soda
-1 teaspoon salt
-1 cup neutral vegetable oil, such as canola, soybean or vegetable blend
-1 cup sour cream
-1 1/2 cups water
-2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract
-2 eggs

-1/2 cup coarsely chopped peanut brittle (optional - I haven't tried this yet, but I'd love to)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the bottoms and sides of three 8-inch round cake pans. Line the bottom of each pan with a round of parchment or waxed paper and butter the paper. (Note: I only have 9 inch cake pans, which seem to be more common, and they work just fine.)

2. Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. Whisk to combine them well. Add the oil and sour cream and whisk to blend. Gradually beat in the water. Blend in the vinegar and vanilla. Whisk in the eggs and beat until well blended. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and be sure the batter is well mixed. Divide among the 3 prepared cake pans.

3. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost clean. Let cool in the pans for about 20 minutes. Invert onto wire racks, carefully peel off the paper liners, and let cool completely. (Note: These cakes are very, very soft. Once cool, put them in the freezer for about 30 minutes and they'll be oh-so-much easier to work with. Don't worry, they'll defrost before you want to eat them. You’ll be glad you did this, trust me.)

4. To frost the cake, place one layer, flat side up, on a cake stand or large serving plate. Spread 2/3 cup cup of the Peanut Butter Frosting evenly over the top. Repeat with the next layer. Place the last layer on top and frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining frosting. (Note 1: Making a crumb coat of frosting–a thin layer that binds the dark crumbs to the cake so they don’t show up in the final outer frosting layer–is a great idea for this cake, or any with a dark cake and lighter-colored frosting. Once you “mask” your cake, let it chill for 15 to 30 minutes until firm, then use the remainder of the frosting to create a smooth final coating.)

Once the cake is fully frosted, it helps to chill it again and let it firm up. The cooler and more set the peanut butter frosting is, the better drip effect you’ll get from the Chocolate-Peanut Butter Glaze. I like make the cake a day ahead up to this point and put it in the refrigerator over night. The next day you can put the glaze on it.

5. To decorate with the Chocolate–Peanut Butter Glaze, put the cake plate on a large baking sheet to catch any drips. Simply pour the glaze over the top of the cake, and using an offset spatula, spread it evenly over the top just to the edges so that it runs down the sides of the cake in long drips. (Do this slowly!) Refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 30 minutes to allow the glaze and frosting to set completely. Remove about 1 hour before serving. Decorate the top with chopped peanut brittle.

Peanut Butter Frosting

-10 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
-1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
-5 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
-2/3 cup smooth peanut butter, preferably a commercial brand (because oil doesn’t separate out)

1. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar 1 cup at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl often. Continue to beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes.

2. Add the peanut butter and beat until thoroughly blended.

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Glaze

-8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
-3 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
-2 tablespoons light corn syrup
-1/2 cup half-and-half or heavy whipping cream

1. In the top of a double boiler or in a bowl set over simmering water, combine the chocolate, peanut butter, and corn syrup. Cook, whisking often, until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.

2. Remove from the heat and whisk in the half-and-half, beating until smooth. Use while still warm.

(Note: If you don't want to use the corn syrup, just increase the cream to 2/3 cup.)

Chicken Tamale Casserole

This recipe is tasty and simple!


* 1 cup (4 ounces) preshredded 4-cheese Mexican blend cheese, divided
* 1/3 cup fat-free milk
* 1/4 cup egg substitute
* 1 teaspoon ground cumin
* 1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
* 1 (14 3/4-ounce) can cream-style corn
* 1 (8.5-ounce) box corn muffin mix (such as Martha White)
* 1 (4-ounce) can chopped green chiles, drained
* Cooking spray
* 1 (10-ounce) can red enchilada sauce (such as Old El Paso)
* 2 cups shredded cooked chicken breast
* 1/2 cup fat-free sour cream


1. Preheat oven to 400°.

2. Combine 1/4 cup cheese and next 7 ingredients (through chiles) in a large bowl, stirring just until moist. Pour mixture into a 13 x 9–inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.

3. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until set. Pierce entire surface liberally with a fork; pour enchilada sauce over top. Top with chicken; sprinkle with remaining 3/4 cup cheese. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until cheese melts. Remove from oven; let stand 5 minutes. Cut into 8 pieces; top each serving with 1 tablespoon sour cream.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

These are a few of my favorite things...

My family has a tradition that on Christmas Eve we spend the whole day making all sorts of hours devours and then all evening eating them and watching Christmas movies. This year, as Ben helped me with the pies and cookies, I contemplated what my favorite cookie is. Chocolate chip cookies are kind of like apples. While good, even amazing sometimes, they are so common-place that I never really want to eat them. Snickerdoodles, Sugar cookies, and Oatmeal cookies are relatively common as well. (Although I'm pretty confident that I can make the best sugar cookies you've ever had.)

I guess I just get bored with these cookies too quickly for them to be my favorite. They don't keep me as excited as a "favorite" cookie should. My Banana Chocolate Chip cookies, on the other hand, never cease to amaze me. The cookies are so light and fluffy with just a hint of banana so it's not overpowering. Throughout the cookie there are these little bits of chocolaty goodness. I really can't get enough of them, whether it's the cookie or the dough. Enjoy!

Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 ¼ c flour
2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt

4 mashed bananas (the kind you'd use for banana bread)
½ c evaporated milk

2/3 c shortening
2/3 c sugar
2 eggs

1/3 bag Mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350. Sift together dry ingredients. In a separate bowl combine the mashed bananas and evaporated milk. In a third bowl or stand mixer, combine the shortening and sugar. Mix until blended and fluffy. Beat in the eggs. Alternate combining the banana and flour mixtures until used, scraping down the sides of the bowl between additions. When both mixtures are incorporated, mix in the chocolate chips. (You can use more chocolate chips if you want, but they're not supposed to be too overpowering.) :)
Scoop out onto cookie sheet about two inches apart. Bake for 10-15 min. Cookies will remain colorless and soft. Remove from cookies sheet and cool on a rack. Devour.

**Note: tripling the batch uses a whole can of canned milk and one package of mini chocolate chips**