Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Refried Beans

Yep, you guessed it, I'm on a mexican kick again and I realized, I don't think I ever shared my AMAZING refried bean recipe with you! Sure there are tons of recipes out there and of course you can buy it in a can and have it loaded with salt and tasteless if you choose, but I have a secret weapon. I'm not going to tell you what it is just yet. You'll have to check out the recipe for that. At any rate, these refried beans are creamy, kind of spicy and just about the best thing you will ever put in your mouth!

What You Need:

1lb dried pinto beans
1 carton (approx 4 cups) beef or chicken stock
1 jalapeño pepper
2 onions
4 cloves garlic
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp oregano
1/4 lb panchetta, diced
1 tsp oil
salt and pepper
1/4 c tequila <-- secret weapon

What To Do:

Rinse and sort your beans, place them into a pressure cooker or a heavy bottomed pot. Add in 1 of the onions, diced, two chopped cloves of garlic, and the jalapeño chopped, seeds and all. Add in the stock, cumin and oregano, give it a stir to combine. Put the lid on your pressure cooker and cook for 1 hour, or probably two in a regular pot. The beans should just be tender. Turn everything off and let the beans sit for about 4 hour, or until they're pretty well cool. Leave the lid on the pot too. This lets the beans suck in all the flavor of the cooking liquid.
In a large sautee pan over medium heat, cook the diced panchetta in the oil until browned and crispy. Add in the other diced onion, and minced garlic. Once they've turned translucent and are softened, season with salt and pepper and stir in the red pepper flakes.
There shouldn't be a whole lot of liquid left in your beans. They should have absorbed almost all of it. I was left with less than a cup. If you have more then that, use a slotted spoon to transfer your beans into the sautee pan, otherwise, just pour everything into it. Take a potato masher and start mashing your beans. I like to leave some beans sort of whole, so I don't mash everything completely. Give it a stir and it should be nice and creamy. Stir in the tequila, and cook for about 5 minutes over medium low so that the alcohol cooks off. If your beans look a little dry, add in some water or if you have it, the reserved cooking liquid. If you like, stir in a bit of fresh cilantro before serving.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

This and That Cookies

I've made these cookies a number of times before, but this is the first time I've ever wrote one of the recipes down. I say "one of the recipes" because it changes every time, depending on what I put them. Sometimes I start with a basic sugar cookies dough, sometimes chocolate chip and sometimes peanut butter. This recipes starts with a peanut butter cookie recipe from the King Aurthur Cookie Companion. Then I open up my baking cabinet and see what I have kicking around. These cookies come out flat, kind of crispy and kind of chewy but totally delicious.

What You Need:

2 sticks of butter
1 c brown sugar
1/4 c agave
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tbs vanilla
2 eggs
1 cup nutella
1 cup oats
1 cup wheat flour
1 cup coconut
1/3 c white chocolate chips
1/3 c chocolate chips
1/3 c granola, plain or with raisins

What To Do:

In a large bowl, cream together the butter, sugar, agave, baking soda, salt and vanilla until fluffy. Add the eggs in one at a time until combined, and then mix in the nutella. In a small bowl, stir together the oats, flour, coconut, white and chocolate chips and the granola. With the mixer on low, slowly add in the dry ingredients until they are all mixed in. Drop by heaping tablespoons onto parchment lined baking sheets. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 10-15 minutes. They will spread out quite a bit so make sure you leave plenty of room in between them. This makes 4 dozen cookies.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Oven Baked Chicken Fingers

Nothing satisfies a tyke more then chicken nuggets, at least in my house that is. I don't buy chicken nuggets, or chicken fingers from the store. To many preservatives and who knows just what parts they make their nuggets from. I like to marinate mine for a bit in some low fat yogurt and dijon mustard, not just for the flavor but it because it helps to tenderize the chicken. Crusted with a mixture of wheat germ, saltine crackers and some corn flakes, they are super yummy and pretty good for you too!

What You Need:

2 chicken breast, about 1 pound
1/2 c plain low fat yogurt
1/4 c dijon mustard
1/2 c wheat germ
1/2 sleeve, saltine crackers
2 cup corn flakes
1/2 tsp cayenne
1 tsp garlic powder

What To Do:

Slice the chicken breast thinly, into "fingers". You should get at least 12, if not a couple more. Mix together the yogurt and the dijon and place the chicken into it. Stir until the chicken is well coated. Let sit for about an hour.
Preheat the oven to 425 degree. In a food processor, pulse the crackers until they are crumbly, then add in the wheat germ, cornflakes and spices. Pulse several times until the crackers become crumbs and everything is well mixed together. Turn out in to a bowl. Remove the chicken from the yogurt mixture and shake off the excess. Coat it with the crumb mixture, pressing it onto the chicken so that it coats it evenly. Place each piece on a cooing rack that is set into a baking sheet. Make sure you spray the rack with a bit of cooking spray before laying the chicken onto it. Place into the preheated oven and bake for about 15 to 20 minutes.

For a great honey mustard dipping sauce, combine 1/4 cup of dijon mustard with 3 tbs honey and 1 tbs of mayo, serve with the chicken fingers.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Quiona Stuffed Portobella Mushrooms

It has only been the last two years that I have enjoyed mushrooms. It started when I was pregnant with my son. I craved mushrooms. I couldn't get enough of them! While that craving doesn't hit anymore, my taste for mushroom has remained. There is also a movement that Mario Batali, Oprah, and tons of others have gotten involved with called Meatless Monday. This was first brought to my attention by a friend of mine. Her name is Natalie and she runs a blog called "It's Soup!" I encourage you to check her out when you have a few minutes. She has some very cool posts. This is one of my additions. You get plenty of protein from the quinoa and lots of the flavor from the spices. I encourage you to try it out and maybe start having meatless monday in your house too.

What You Need:

4 portobella mushroom caps
1/2 c quinoa
1 c water
2 tbs taco seasoning
1/2 bell pepper (green, red, yellow, orange, doesn't matter)
1 ripe tomato
1/2 c mexican cheese blend, plus a bit more for the top
2 tbs chopped cilantro
Olive oil

What To Do:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Rinse the quinoa and place in a pot with the 1 cup of water and the taco seasoning. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to simmer, uncovered for about 15 minutes or until all the liquid is absorb and the quinoa is cooked. Meanwhile, finely chop the bell pepper. Remove the seeds from the tomato and finely chop that as well. Wipe off the mushroom and pull the stems out. You can take a spoon and gently remove the gills too if you prefer, which is what I did. Once the quinoa is cooked, stir it together with the tomato, bell pepper, cheese and cilantro. Brush the tops of the mushrooms with a bit of oil and place in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove, and fill each cavity with 1/4 of the quinoa filling. Top with a bit more the cheese and return to the oven for another 10-15 minutes or until the mushrooms have slumped and are cooked through.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Ratatouille Flat Bread Pizza

I have wanted to make Ratatouille every since seeing the movie with that cute little mouse Remy. Of course if I ever had a mouse trying to cook in my kitchen, you'd find me standing on chair screaming for my husband. There are many version of this french veggie stew around the internet and in cook books and one day I will make the real thing, maybe even someday soon as I still have the ingredients in my fridge. This recipe takes the basic idea of the dish and turns it into a delicious, crispy flat bread pizza. It's a very quick and easy supper. Shockingly enough my super picky two year old even ate it once I said it was pizza. The crust is nothing more then Naan bread which you can find in just about every super market now. It's a thin middle eastern bread which makes the perfect platform to build our pizza on.

What You Need:

2 Naan bread
1/4 c ricotta cheese
1/4 c grated parmesan cheese
1/2 mozzarella cheese or a pizza blend
1 or 2 small zucchini
1 small eggplant
1 ripe tomato
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/2 tsp oregano
salt and pepper

What To Do:

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and lay out your Naan bread. In a small bowl, mix together the ricotta, parmesan and 1/4 c of the mozzarella cheese together with some salt and pepper, the oregano and the finely minced or pasted garlic. Very thinly slice the zucchini, eggplant and tomato, I used my mandolin on the super thin setting. Smear some the cheese mixture equally over the Naan, top with alternating slices of zucchini and eggplant, then put a few slices of tomato on top of that. Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella cheese over the top and bake in the lower third of the oven for about 10 minutes. Turn the broil on the place your pizza under it until it's bubbly and brown. Cut into wedges an d serve.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Tuscan Brick Chicken

I got this idea from watching an episode of the Barefoot Contessa on Food Network. She marinated her chicken in rosemary and lemon juice and then grilled it. I have been in love with lemons for the past six months or so, much to my husbands dismay. He's not a fan of citrusy flavors, however he fell in love with this chicken. There is just a hint of lemon flavor shinning through along with rosemary and garlic. Cooking the chicken "under a brick" or in my case, under a heavy cast iron pan with a teapot full on water on top, crisps the skin while keeping the chicken nice and moist. You can do this on the grill too if you'd like.

What You Need:

juice and zest of 2 lemon
2 or 3 springs of fresh rosemary, roughly chopped
4 cloves of garlic
2 tbs olive oil
salt and pepper
1 roasting chicken, flattened

What To Do:

Flattening a chicken is pretty easy. All you need to do, is take a very sharp chef nice, or a really good pair of kitchen shears and cut down both sides of the spine, starting at the birds neck. You will encounter the ribs but they're thin enough that it doesn't take much effort to cut right through them. Once you have the spine removed, you can save it for making chicken stock. Then just open up your chicken and gently press open. Make a cut into the breast bone at the top of the bird to help flatten it even more. Be careful when pressing it open as you can cut your hands on the ribs. Then just remove the breast bone but pulling it out. It comes out fairly easy. If you want to see this done, click this link. It will bring to the Barefoot Contessa show that I got the idea from. At about 14 minutes into the video, she shows you how to flatten the chicken. What she doesn't show you is how to remove the ribs but this was fairly easy as well. I took a sharp pairing knife, lifted up the ribs and just ran the pairing knife along the underside to remove the connecting tissue. When you get to where the ribs connect with the wing, just give it a bend and you'll see where the joints come together. Just separate it at the joint and that's it.
To marinate the chicken I season the skin side with salt and pepper. Then I take my microplane and zest one of the lemons onto it, then I do the same thing with half my garlic. I then squeeze the juice from the zested lemon over the top, drizzle 1 tbs of olive oil on top and then use my hand to rub it all in before sprinkling it with the rosemary, flipping it over and do the same thing to the other side. I do this in a big baking dish so that there is plenty of room for the chicken. Just cover with plastic wrap and popped in the fridge. Let it sit for at least 4 hours, turning it over about half way through so that it soaks up the flavor evenly. You can also let it sit all day but I wouldn't let it sit for more then say 10-12 hours as the lemon juice will actually "cook" the chicken.
To cook, preheat a large cast iron skillet over high heat until it's super hot. Remove the chicken from the marinade and pat dry. Add a touch of oil to the skillet and place the chicken in, skin side down, quickly weighing it down with a couple of foil wrapped garden bricks, another cast iron skillet, or even the lid to a dutch oven like I did. You want something heavy to weigh it down so that the skin doesn't curl up and so the entire chicken is being cooked. Cook like this for about 10 minutes or until nicely golden. Flip over and sear for another 10 minutes before placing it in a preheated 400 degree oven to finish cooking. It should only take another 15-20 minutes depending on how big your bird is. Check doneness with a cooking thermometer. Internal temp should be about 165. Remove and set rest for 5-10 minutes for before cutting and serving. The bird cut nicely into 4 quarters when you've removed the bones right. Just cut it right down the middle, then lift up and cut off each leg. You're left with two leg sections and two breast/wing sections.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Kale Chips

Apparently, Kale chips are all over the internet, yet I am just hearing about them. You would think that as a Goddess of Cooking I would have known about them right? That I would have made them and posted the recipe for you right? Well, unfortunately, I never got the call about these green beauties till just a handful of days ago. Where they came from, I really don't know, but you can find other recipes on cooking sites all over the net and even in the April issue of Food Network Magazine. The best thing is that it fits in with this changing my life around thing. I've gone back to school, I'm taking charge of my life and what I eat, even joined Weight Watcher! These Kale chips fit in perfectly!

What You Need:

1 bunch kale
1/2 tbs olive oil
1/2 tsp garlic powder
sprinkle of salt

What To Do:

Wash and dry the kale then remove the stems. To do this, I take the stem end in one hand, use my other hand to "pull" the leaves from the stem in one quick motion. Tear the leaves up into pieces, and place in a bowl. Toss with the oil, garlic and salt and place on a baking sheet. Bake in a preheated 300 degree oven for about 20 minutes or until crisp!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Roasted Chick Peas

Chick peas are a great little snack. They are packed full of fiber and have a good amount of protein too. They don't have much flavor on their own and that's what makes them so good to roast. You can basically use any combo of spices you enjoy, pop them in the oven and about 30 minutes later you have a nice crunch treat that is good to eat by itself or even on top of your salad.

What You Need:

1 can chick pea (garbanzo beans)
1/2 tbs olive oil
1 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper

What To Do:

Drain and rise the chick pea well. Dump them out onto some paper towels and pat them dry. Put them into a bowl and add in the oil, garlic (or other spices) a small pinch of salt and some pepper. Give it a stir and place them onto a baking sheet. Place in a preheat 400 degree oven for 30-35 minutes or until brown and crunchy. I would give them a shake about half way through cooking and once it gets close to the 30 minutes, make sure to watch them. They can go from golden brown and yummy, to over cooked and not so good pretty quickly.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Corned Beef Supper

St. Patty's day is almost here. There is nothing more traditional to eat then corned beef, cabbage and potatoes. I decided I want something a little different. Normally, I throw everything into my slow cooker with some pickling spice and water, and that recipe is here if you want it, but this time, I decided to cook it in the oven, without the water and even without the cabbage! Blasphemy! is the word I'm sure is running through your mind right now but hear me out. With a little honey and some dijon, the corned beef is out of this world! Replace the cabbage with some Brussels sprouts and carrots, roast them in the oven, throw in some potatoes too and the meal is complete.

What You Need:

1 1/2-2lb corned beef
2 tbs djion mustard
1 tbs honey
3 lbs Brussels sprouts
1 lb carrots
1/3 c balsamic vinegar
2 cloves minced garlic
3-4 large baking potatoes
1 tbs olive oil
1 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper

What To Do:

Preheat the oven to 375. Trim the bottoms off your Brussels sprouts and cut in half and put them in a large glass baking dish. Cut your carrots into roughly the same size as the sprouts. Add in the minced garlic and the balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Give it a stir and put it right into the oven. They need a bit of a head start.
Remove the corned beef from the packaging and toss out the spice pack. Pat it dry and place in a foil lined shallow baking dish, making sure there is plenty of foil overhanging the dish. You're going to great a pouch around the corned beef. Smear the dijon mustard over the top and drizzle it with the honey. Fold up the foil to make your pouch and set aside.

Wash your potatoes and cut into bite sized pieces with the skin still on. Drizzle with the oil and sprinkle with the garlic powder, salt and pepper.
Place everything into the preheated oven, and bake for 1 hour. Half way through, stir the veggies, and rotate any dishes that you need to depending on the hot zones of your oven.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Shrimp and Zucchini Stir Fry

I saw the idea for this dish not that long ago. I believe it was something Rachel Ray was doing but her's was a take on Shrimp Scampi. I have been trying to work in some healthy meals for my family and me. I love all the things that are bad for you, but when I made this dish, I really didn't miss any of it. Juicy shrimp, garlic, ginger, it's so good!

What You Need:

1tbs almond oil
1lb shrimp (I use the 30 count), peeled and de-viend
2 or 3 small zucchini
2 cloves garlic
1/2 inch piece of ginger
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 c white wine
salt and pepper
2 cups cooked brown rice

What To Do:

Grate the garlic cloves and ginger into 1/2 tbs of the almost oil and set aside. Slice the zucchini into thin coins and set aside.
Meanwhile, heat your wok over high heat until very very hot. Drizzle in half the oil, and add the shrimp so that it's mostly in a single layer. Season with a bit of salt and pepper and look cook for about a minute. Add in the remain 1 tbs of oil with the garlic and ginger and give a stir, then add in the zucchini. Continue cooking for another minute, then add in the lemon juice and white wine. Finish cooking, stirring often until the shrimp is cooked through. Serve over rice.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Asian Glazed Chicken Legs

There are so many days where I am thankful that I enjoy food. I am thankful that all my taste buds works and that when I eat these chicken legs I can taste the soy, ginger and garlic that coat them. I am thankful that they are moist and delicious and pair so well with a number of sides, especially some brown rice and a crisp cucumber salad. I served it with the Mediterranean Salad I made a few weeks back and it was just as good. It's quick and easy to put together, the hardest part is waiting the hour until their cooked!

What You Need

2 chicken legs
2 tbs soy
2 tbs agave or honey
1 tsp rice wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic
1/2 inch piece of ginger

What To Do:

Preheat your oven to 400 degree and line a baking sheet with foil to make clean up easier. Spray lightly with cooking spray and place you chicken legs on it.
In a small bowl, grate the garlic cloves and the ginger into it, using a micro-plane, then mix in the soy, agave and rice wine vinegar and some pepper. Coat the chicken legs with some of the glaze and place into the oven for about 1 hour. After 30 minutes, glaze the chicken again and then again 15 minutes after that. Use the rest of the glaze when you take it out of the oven to rest for a few minutes before eating.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Pulled Pork Sammies

Pulled pork is one of my favorite things to eat. I could eat it every for weeks and not be tired of it. I've even put it into a quesadilla with cheddar cheese. I've made a few different version of it but none quite as good as a recipe my favorite aunt gave me just recently. Her secret? Beer, of course. Beer makes it better right? So with just this short introduction here is my Aunt Pammi's recipe for pulled pork.

What You Need:

5-6lb pork roast/shoulder
1/2 c ketchup
1/3 c apple cider vinegar
1/2 c brown sugar
1 slow cooker seasoning mix for bbq pulled pork
2 cans/bottles of your favorite beer

What To Do:

In the bottom of a slow cooker, combine everything but the pork shoulder, with a whisk until mixed well. If you can, cut the pork into a few pieces. This will help it cook a bit quicker and make it easier to shred. Cook on high for 6 hours. Remove the pork, and shred with two forks. Place back into the slow cooker and let cook on low for one or two more hours. Serve on hard rolls with cole slaw.
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