Friday, April 30, 2010

Black Bottom Cupcakes

We celebrated my husband's LAST DAY of classes as a law student with these yummy treats (served on a family tradition plate). I don't love the way they look, but they were certainly moist and delicious. The middle cupcake in the picture is what it looks like if you follow the directions. The others are what it looks like if you do a little batter on the bottom, a dollop of filling and then more batter on top. I was trying to hide the white filling so they would look prettier. In the end, you shouldn't be concerned with how they look because you won't be looking at them long - they are that good!

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 egg
1/3 cup white sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup white sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line muffin tins with paper cups or lightly spray with non-stick cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese, egg, 1/3 cup sugar and 1/8 teaspoon salt until light and fluffy. Stir in the chocolate chips and set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, 1 cup sugar, cocoa, baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Make a well in the center and add the water, oil, vinegar and vanilla. Stir together until well blended. Fill muffin tins 1/3 full with the batter and top with a dollop of the cream cheese mixture.

Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Spring Salad

This is going to be my annual "Welcome Spring" meal. It's perfect when eaten outside!

2 pounds fresh asparagus, steamed and chilled, then cut into 1-inch pieces
6 pieces fresh mango, sliced in horizontal strips
1 red onion, thinly sliced
2 ripe but firm avacados, sliced and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 pint cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1/2 pound bacon, cut into 1/2-pieces, cooked until crisp and drained on a paper towel
1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives
Kosher salt
Black pepper
1 1/2 pounds chicken cut in thing strips and cooked/grilled
4 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
1 cup pecans, broken up by hand

Place asparagus, mango, onion, tomatoes, bacon and olives into a large bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper and mix with your hands. Add the chicken. Pour vinegar and olive oil over the salad. Mix well, using your hands or a wooden spoon. Top with avacado and sprinkle pecans over the salad. Serve with a crusty loaf.

Mexican Pot Pie

No picture for this one, but it's worth your time! I made a few changes to this simple recipe and here is what we enjoyed for dinner:

Cornbread topping:
3/4 cup cornmeal
1 1/4 cups flour
1 cup milk
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp baking powder

The filling:
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 pound ground meat of your choice - or opt out to make it vegetarian
1 can drained and rinsed black beans
1 can fire roasted tomatoes
1 1/2 cups corn (canned or frozen)
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 - 1 cup shredded cheese

To make this using the crock pot, follow the instructions found here. Or, you can bake it like I did (because, believe it or not, it was more convenient on this particular day to bake it than slow cook it):

In a medium bowl, mix together the cornbread topping ingredients. Set aside.

Saute the onion and garlic in a little olive oil. Add the meat and cook until browned.

In a large bowl, mix the meat with the remaining ingredients for the "filling" (including the cheese). After it's thoroughly mixed, dump the mixture into a lightly greased 3 qt. casserole dish. Gently pour the cornbread topping on top, using a spatula to make sure it evenly covers all of the filling.

Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes or until the cornbread topping is starting to brown around the edges and set in the middle. You might want to put a baking sheet underneath the baking dish to catch any overflow that could happen as the filling cooks.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Asian Noodle Salad

Pioneer Woman says this salad is her absolute favorite. I now understand why. It was SO delicious! Beware: this recipe makes enough to feed your teenage son. Plan to share it with friends because it doesn't keep very long.

1 package Linguine Noodles, Cooked, Rinsed, And Cooled
½ heads Sliced Napa Cabbage, Or More To Taste
½ heads Sliced Purple Cabbage, Or More To Taste
½ bags Baby Spinach, Or More To Taste
1 whole Red Bell Pepper, Sliced Thin
1 whole Yellow Bell Pepper, Sliced Thin
1 whole Orange Bell Pepper, Thinly Sliced
1 bag Bean Sprouts (also Called Mung Bean Sprouts)
Chopped Cilantro, Up To 1 Bunch, To Taste
3 whole Scallions, Sliced
3 whole Cucumbers Peeled And Sliced
1 can (about 10 Oz.) Whole Cashews, Lightly Toasted In Skillet

1 whole Lime, Juiced
8 Tablespoons Olive Oil
8 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
2 Tablespoons (up To 3 Tablespoons) Sesame Oil
⅓ cups Brown Sugar
3 Tablespoons Fresh Ginger Chopped
2 cloves Garlic Chopped
2 whole Hot Peppers Or Jalapeno's, Chopped
Chopped Cilantro

Mix salad ingredients together. Whisk dressing ingredients together and pour over salad. Mix with tongs or hands and serve on a platter.

Note: dressing keeps for up to three days before serving, without cilantro.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Chai-spiced Granola

Thank you, Simple Bites, for this delicious granola recipe. Check the bulk section of your grocery store for cardamom (if you don't already have some) to save money.

Wet Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup agave syrup (or skip the agave and use 1 cup honey total, OR use 1/2 c.brown sugar)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper

Dry Ingredients:

  • 5 cups rolled oat flakes (what are rolled oats?)
  • 1 cup slivered almonds
  • 1 cup pumpkin seeds (or sunflower)
  • 1/2 cup wheat germ
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened, shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup quinoa (or sesame seeds)
  • 1 cup diced dried apples
  • 1 cup golden raisins
  1. Preheat oven to 300°F. Prepare two large cookie sheets with a sheet of parchment or non-stick spray.
  2. Mix together the honey, agave, water, oil, and spices in a small saucepan.
  3. Heat until sugar is dissolved, stirring occasionally. It’s okay if it comes to a boil, but don’t keep it at a boil.
  4. Stir together dry ingredients. Add wet mixture to dry ingredients and stir to combine. Split between the two sheets.
  5. Bake at 300°F for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 275°F and rotate pans. Use a spatula to turn the granola and scrape any darkening bits off the bottom of the pan. Bake for another 15 minutes.
  6. Turn off oven and leave granola in oven until completely cool.
  7. Store in an airtight container. Makes 2 quarts.

Marinated Salmon Steaks with Couscous

We love salmon. We loved this that I saw on Jessie's blog. The recipe makes enough marinade for four salmon steaks, but I only made two and froze the rest for later.

1 bunch cilantro, thick stems removed
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 to 2 red jalapeno or serrano chiles (ribs and seeds removed), chopped
1 1/2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon, plus 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
4 salmon steaks (6 to 8 ounces each)
1 cup couscous
Coarse salt and ground pepper

In a food processor, pulse cilantro, garlic, chile, ginger, paprika, and cumin until finely chopped. Add cup oil and lemon juice and pulse to combine.

Arrange salmon in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Rub both sides with cilantro mixture. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 375. Bake salmon, uncovered, until opaque throughout, 12 to 14 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, bring 1 cup water to a boil. Stir in couscous, season with salt and pepper, and remove from heat. Cover and let stand until tender, about 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and stir in lemon zest and 1 tablespoon oil. Serve salmon with couscous

Friday, April 16, 2010

Cinnamon Crisps

These are yummy and SO addicting! I took them to a dinner party with a mexican chocolate fondue. You should go start making a batch of these right now. (Doesn't my man make the perfect hand model?!)

Flour Tortillas
Melted Butter
Cinnamon Sugar

Preheat oven to 350.

Lightly brush a tortilla with melted butter. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. A little or a lot. It's up to you. Cut into triangles (I made them smaller, so each tortilla yielded 12 triangles).

Place on an ungreased baking sheet, sugar side up and bake them in the oven for about 10-12 minutes. You'll see them crisp up. Watch for the edges to turn up.

Remove from oven and let cool. I usually place them on a cooling rack so I can fill up the pan with more, but they can just cool on the pan as well.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Cottage Cheese Muffins

My son and I made these nutritious muffins together and I found them to be surprisingly more tasty than I expected! I've posted plenty of good recipes that use sun-dried tomatoes, so don't shy away from buying a small jar.

1 cup plain cottage cheese (low-fat is fine)
3/4 cup parmesan cheese, freshly grated
1/4 cup flour (your choice - I used whole wheat)
1 cup almonds, very finely ground
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes (in oil), finely chopped
1/4 cup basil, finely chopped
1/4 cup water
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 400F degrees. Line a muffin pan with medium-sized paper baking cups, you'll need nine of them. The muffins stuck to the paper cups pretty bad, so next time I'll either spray the cups, or just spray the pan and skip the cups.

Put the cottage cheese into a bowl with all but 1/4 cup of the Parmesan cheese, the flour, ground almonds, baking powder, sun-dried tomatoes, basil, water, and eggs, and season with salt, then mix all together.

Spoon the mixture into the muffing cups 3/4 full, scatter with the remaining Parmesan, and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until set, risen, and golden brown. Mine were way too done at 30 minutes. I'd start checking at 20. Serve as hot or at room temperature.

Makes 9 muffins.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Baked Taquitos

Just in case you needed another reason to make the pulled pork tacos, you've got to try these! I used some of the leftover pork and added a little cheese to make these baked taquitos. I saw the idea here, but figured it would work using my own filling - and it did! So here are the basics:

taquito filling of your choice
corn tortillas
cooking spray

Heat oven to 425. Line a baking sheet with foil and lightly coat with cooking spray.

I found that doing one tortilla at a time was best, but you need to work fast. Put one tortilla in the microwave for 15 seconds. If you find they are cracking when you roll them, or are coming unrolled right away, just try heating them longer or try covering with a damp paper towel.

Place 2-3 T of your filling on the lower third of the tortilla, keeping it about 1/2 inch from the edges. Then roll it up tightly and place seam-side down on the tray. Continue this process with the rest of your tortillas, making sure they don't touch each other.

Spray the tops lightly with cooking spray and sprinkle lightly with salt. Place pan in oven and bake for 15-20 minutes or until crisp and the ends start to get golden brown.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Pulled Pork Tacos

I made this for our community group and felt a little awkward snapping a photo while everyone was getting their plate together, so I took this one from the Real Simple site.

Confession: I get really excited to turn my crock pot on. Weird, I know, but I'm a nerd. Take this recipe, for example. I needed to turn it on at 11:00, but at 10:50 I just couldn't wait another minute. Click! Let the magic begin. And let me tell you, magic happened in my crock pot when I made this pork. Oh my goodness. Whoever is reading this (there's at least three of you!), you must try this one. Tender, juicy, flavorful tacos that got rave reviews from everyone!

2 cups store-bought salsa, plus more for serving
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons dried oregano
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
kosher salt
2 1/2-pound boneless pork butt or shoulder, trimmed of excess fat (I used tenderloin)
18 corn tortillas
1/2 cup fresh cilantro sprigs
3/4 cup sour cream
1 lime, cut into wedges

In a 4- to 6-quart slow cooker, combine the salsa, chili powder, oregano, cocoa, and 1 teaspoon salt. Add the pork and turn to coat. Cook, covered, until the meat is tender and pulls apart easily, on high for 4 to 5 hours or on low for 7 to 8 hours.

Twenty minutes before serving, heat oven to 350° F. Stack the tortillas, wrap them in foil, and bake until warm, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, using 2 forks, shred the pork and stir into the cooking liquid. Serve with the tortillas, cilantro, sour cream, lime, and extra salsa.

Ginger Steak Salad

Jessie turned me on to this Asian-inspired salad and we enjoyed it!

2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
1 Tablespoon Sherry
2 cloves Garlic, Minced
2 teaspoons Brown Sugar
1 whole Rib-eye, Strip, Or Sirloin Steak
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
2 Tablespoons White Sugar
1 Tablespoon Lime Juice
2 cloves Garlic, Finely Diced
1 Tablespoon Fresh Ginger, Minced
½ whole Jalapeno, Seeded And Diced

2 whole Green Onions
8 ounces, weight Salad Greens (baby Lettuce, Endive, Radiccio, Etc.)
Preparation Instructions

Combine steak marinade ingredients in a Ziploc bag. Mix and place steak into bag. Marinate for 30 minutes to 2 hours.

Combine salad dressing ingredients and slice green onion.

When steak is finished marinating, add 2 tablespoons olive oil to a hot skillet. Cook steak about 1 1/2 minutes per side, or until medium rare. Remove from skillet and keep on a plate, allowing to cool slightly.

Toss salad greens in 3/4 of the salad dressing. Place steak on cutting board and slice thinly, then pour juices from the plate over the top. Mound tossed salad on a platter, then place sliced steak on top of salad. Pour remaining salad dressing over the top. Sprinkle green onions over the salad, and add cherry tomatoes if that makes your skirt fly up.

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