Saturday, May 29, 2010

Green Smoothies

I LOVE smoothies. I could survive on smoothies, chips and salsa, and cereal for a very long time. My sister recently took my smoothie love to a new level. One of the great things about making smoothies is that you can hide little nutritious nuggets (like carrots and wheat germ) among the good-tasting yogurt, honey and fruit. But I would never have thought that spinach would work so well! The green color gives it away, but you really can't taste it. I promise. Trust me on this one. Granted, I have a Vita Mix, (give me five minutes and I'll have you convinced you need one too!) so it gets things really blended and smooth, but I don't think spinach would change the texture that much anyway. Give it a try! Your kids will think it's cool to have a green drink, meanwhile they are getting a hearty dose of Beta Carotene and Vitamin K!

The possibilities for smoothies, green or otherwise, are endless. The particular mixture in the picture above included (using rough measurements):

half a banana, frozen
one orange, barely peeled, leaving the white pith on (which holds a large percent of an orange's vitamin C!)
three large spoonfuls of plain yogurt
one tablespoon honey
one handful of ice cubes
two large handfuls of fresh spinach, rinsed and patted dry
a splash of apple juice (you can add more if your blender needs more liquid to get the job done)

Also . . .
I also like to add frozen strawberries, but we were out
Flavored yogurt is helpful to sweeten things up if you're a raw smoothie newbie
Don't make the mistake I did and use arugula instead of spinach. Awful. Awful.
Romaine lettuce can be used instead of spinach, but does have a stronger flavor to it.
Leave me a comment and let me know what combination works for you!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

White Chicken Chili

This is yet another wonderful recipe from my friend, Jaime (her picture, too!). I'd heard about her white chicken chili for a while and finally understood why it got such rave reviews when she brought it for dinner after my daughter was born. Oh, is this stuff GOOD!

3-5 skinless chicken breasts
½ large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 14.5oz can chicken broth
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano leaves
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp red pepper sauce
2 cans (15oz) great northern beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (15oz) white hominy corn, drained
3 Tbsp lime juice
2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro

Mix onion, garlic, broth, cumin, oregano, and salt and pepper sauce in a slow cooker. Add chicken, then cover and cook on low heat 5-6 hours, or until chicken is tender enough to shred. After shredding the chicken, stir in beans, hominy, lime juice and cilantro. Cover and cook for 45 minutes to an hour longer.
Serve with bagel chips or tortilla chips and pepper jack cheese.

Overnight Orange French Toast

I had to find a picture online because we gobbled up our french toast before I remembered to take a picture! Jaime sent this recipe to me and it was a superb breakfast treat. It's hard to beat a delicious breakfast that's done the night before. The loaf of french bread was perfect to feed four adults, and there was plenty of scrumptious orange syrup left that we've been using on regular pancakes and waffles.

4 eggs

½ cup half and half

⅓ cup orange juice

3 Tbsp orange flavored liqueur or orange juice

2 Tbsp sugar

¼ tsp vanilla

¼ tsp salt

16 slices French bread, cut thick

Orange Syrup

½ cup butter

⅓ cup sugar

⅓ cup frozen (thawed) orange juice concentrate

Beat eggs, half and half, orange juice, liqueur, sugar, vanilla, and salt in small bowl with fork. Dip bread into egg mixture, soaking thoroughly; place in ungreased pan. Pour any remaining sauce over bread. Cover loosely and refrigerate overnight or at least 8 hours, but no longer than 24.

Make orange syrup; melt butter in saucepan. Add sugar and orange juice concentrate, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat; cool slightly. Beat with wire whisk until thick and shiny.

Heat griddle to 375 degrees; grease with butter. Cook bread 4 to 5 minutes per side.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Cowboy Caviar

After devouring this at a friend's party the weekend before, my husband insisted that I make it for his graduation party. Get creative with other ingredients you could add-in or substitute - this is one of those that's hard to mess up! It's a colorful addition to any table and slightly addicting. You should probably go make a bowl for yourself before serving it to others, just to be sure that it's good, right?!

Mix the following ingredients and let the avacados marinate for at least thirty minutes:
Juice of one lime
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp Tabasco
2 Tbsp veggie oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp pepper
3/4 tsp salt
3 firm avacados, chopped

Combine the rest of the ingredients below and then add the avacados, gently mixing it all together:
1 can white beans
1 can black beans
1 can pinto beans
3 cups frozen corn
1 cup sliced green onions
1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 lb. cherry tomatoes, halved

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Lemon and Herb Roasted Chicken

We enjoyed this tasty bird with my husband's parents after a long day of playing. The picture makes it look like something burned, but it's just the herbs. Oh, this was tender, juicy, and so good!

one thawed and skinned whole chicken (my kitchen shears worked the best for getting the goopy skin off)
one whole head of garlic
2 lemons
salt and pepper
a bunch of fresh rosemary (I used 3 Tbsp. of an assortment of dried herbs I had on hand: rosemary, oregano, and basil mostly)

After you skin the chicken (and keep from puking), rub it inside and out with a bunch of salt and pepper. Drop the bird into the crockpot.

Peel the garlic and shove a bunch of the whole cloves into the bird cavity and then throw some more on top and around the chicken.

Slice the lemon and put slices on top, around, and inside the bird

Wash the rosemary and do the same.

Do not add water. Cook on low for 8-10 hours. The meat will be very tender and easily fall off the bone, so carefully pull meat out and serve. We enjoyed ours over rice.

Bacon-Wrapped Jalapenos

Ever since I saw this recipe, I've been dreaming of making the little poppers. My husband's graduation party seemed like the perfect opportunity and, let me say, these little wonders were THE thing to eat at the party. Either everyone there was being super nice, or they all absolutely loved these things. Next time I think I'll leave a bit of the stems or seeds in the jalapenos. I wanted them to have a little more kick.

20 whole Fresh Jalapenos, 2-3 Inches In Size
2 cubes Cream Cheese, softened
1 pound Thin(regular) Bacon, Sliced Into Thirds

If you have them, slip on some latex gloves for the pepper prep… Cut jalapenos in half, length-wise. With a spoon, remove the seeds and white membrane (the source of the heat; leave a little if you like things HOT). Smear softened cream cheese into each jalapeno half. Wrap jalapeno with bacon pieces (1/3 slice). Secure by sticking toothpick through the middle. (At this point, you can freeze them, uncooked, in a Ziploc bag for later use).

Bake on a pan with a rack in a 375-degree oven for 20-25 minutes. You don’t want the bacon to shrink so much it starts to the squeeze the jalapeno. If, after 20 minutes, the bacon doesn’t look brown enough, just turn on the broiler for a couple of minutes to finish it off. These are best when the jalapeno still has a bit of bite to it.

Serve immediately, or they’re also great at room temperature.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Sweet Potato and Leek Gratain

My Aunt Pam passed this deliciously rich recipe on to me. I loved the flavor combination of the sweet and Idaho potatoes together. Bonus: the leftovers were just about as good as eating them straight from the oven. I couldn't stand to use that much whole cream, so I snuck in some whole milk and half & half.

2 large leeks (1 lb. total), trimmed, halved lengthwise, sliced 1/4 inch thick crosswise, swished and soaked in enough cold water to cover
2 Tbs. unsalted butter; more for the pan
2 Tbs. olive oil
6 oz. pancetta or country ham, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1/4 cup minced garlic
2 cups heavy cream
3 Tbs. fresh thyme leaves
1 tsp. coarse salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 medium sweet potatoes (1 lb. total), peeled
3 medium Idaho potatoes (1-1/4 lb. total), peeled

Lift the leeks gently from their soaking water so that any grit stays behind. Drain them in a colander. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter in the olive oil. Add the pancetta or ham and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 9 min. Remove with a slotted spoon to drain on paper towels. Add the leeks and garlic to the pan, cover, and reduce the heat to low. Sweat the leeks and garlic, cooking slowly and stirring occasionally, until the leeks are softened, about 5 min. (Don't let the leeks or garlic brown.) Add the cream, bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer uncovered for 5 min. Stir in the pancetta or ham, the thyme, and the salt; add pepper to taste. Set aside.

Heat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 2-qt. casserole dish. Slice the sweet potatoes between 1/4 and 1/8 inch thick. Repeat with the Idaho potatoes. Arrange one overlapping layer of Idaho slices on the bottom of the casserole. Season lightly with salt and pepper; spoon 2 Tbs. of the leek cream evenly over the potatoes. Add a layer of sweet potato slices, season lightly with salt and pepper, and spoon on another 2 Tbs. of the leek cream. Repeat with the remaining potatoes until all are used. With your hands or a rubber spatula, press down firmly on the potatoes and drizzle the remaining leek cream over them. Bake until the gratin is golden on top, 50 to 60 min. Let rest in a warm place for 15 min. Cut into squares and serve.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Chinese Chicken Salad

I was looking for a good "leftover-shredded-chicken" salad and this fit the bill perfectly. I would go easy on the salt next time, though.

1/2 lb. white chicken meat, cooked and shredded
1/4 cup soy sauce (use wheat-free soy sauce for gluten-free version)
1 teaspoon sherry
1 Tablespoon sugar
high smoking point cooking oil, such as grapeseed oil, corn oil, or peanut oil
2 oz. bean threads (one bunch)
4 green onions, shredded lengthwise
1 small head of lettuce (romaine works), shredded
2 Tablespoons chopped toasted almonds
2 Tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
2 Tbsp sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
3 Tbsp oil
1 Tbsp dark sesame oil
3 Tbsp vinegar

Using two forks, shred the cooked chicken (if you don't have any already cooked, poach chicken pieces in simmering water until no longer pink inside). Mix soy sauce, sherry and sugar in a bowl and add the chicken. Let soak for 10 minutes. Remove chicken and pat dry with paper towels. Fry the shredded chicken in a little cooking oil on medium high heat to make it a little crispy and to bake in the seasoning. Set aside.
(I didn't do this part . . . it sounds fun, but just didn't have time) Put 3/4 inch of high smoke point cooking oil (such as grapeseed oil, or peanut oil) into a small saucepan. Heat on high heat until when you flick a drop or two of water into the oil it sizzles. Take one bunch of the dried bean threads and gently break them up a bit. Test the oil by putting one bean thread into the oil. If the oil is hot enough, the bean thread will almost immediately sizzle and puff up. That's when you know the oil is hot enough. Working with a few bean threads at a time, put them in the hot oil. As soon as they puff up, remove them carefully with tongs and place them on a paper towel to cool. The paper towel helps remove any excess oil. Set aside.
Cut your green onions, shredding them lengthwise as shown. Toast your chopped almonds, or chop your toasted almonds; toast your sesame seeds. (Heat a thin skillet to medium high heat, add the seeds - or nuts, don't do them both together - stir frequently until they begin to brown, remove from heat, they will continue to cook. Let cool to room temp.)
Mix all of the sauce ingredients together, in the order listed. Just before serving the salad, mix all of the salad ingredients together - lettuce, chicken, bean threads, almonds, sesame seeds, and sauce.
Serves 4 to 6.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Salted Chocolate Caramel Cookies

It was love at first bite(s) when my neighbor brought over these decadent and rich treats. I've refrained from making them myself until I knew I would have people around to share them with. I usually have pretty good self-control when it comes to desserts. One look at these lightly salted sweets and that self-control goes right out the window! A little note: It was difficult for me to get them out of the pan (perhaps because I used wax paper instead of parchment). Also, next time I will double the amount of crust - there was plenty of chocolate caramel filling.


4 1/2 ounces (9 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for parchment
1/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon table salt


10 1/2 ounces milk chocolate, chopped (2 cups)
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
3 ounces (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 tablespoon sea salt, preferably fleur de sel

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Make the crust: Line a 9-inch square baking pan with parchment, leaving an overhang on all sides; butter parchment, excluding overhang. Beat butter and brown sugar on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add flour and table salt, and beat until just combined.

Press dough evenly into pan, and bake until lightly browned, about 30 minutes.

Make the chocolate caramel: Place chocolate in a medium bowl. Heat granulated sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, washing sides of pan with a wet pastry brush to prevent sugar crystals from forming, until amber, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from heat. Add butter, cream, and table salt. Bring to a boil, stirring until smooth. Pour over chocolate. Let stand for 2 minutes. Stir to combine, and let stand until cool, about 10 minutes.

Pour mixture over crust. Refrigerate at least 4 hours, or overnight. Run a knife around edges; lift parchment to remove whole bar from pan. Sprinkle with sea salt. Trim edges, and cut into 16 bars. Bars can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Indian-Spiced Pork Skewers

We had this last week and my husband is already asking me to make it again! I used zucchini instead of peppers (per the original recipe) because I couldn't stand to pay $3 for one pepper. Disgusting. But the skewers were anything but disgusting. We had them with naan bread.

1 1/2-2lbs pork tenderloin or sirloin pork roast
2 zucchini
1 large red onion
1 T minced garlic
1 T curry powder
1/2 t table salt
1/2 T cumin
1/2 T coriander
1/8 t cayenne pepper
1/4 C fresh lemon juice
3 T extra virgin olive oil
1 T water

Cut your pork into 1 1/2" chunks and place in a zip-lock bag. Prepare zucchini and onions by chopping into squares as well and then store in the fridge.

Mix the garlic and salt in a small bowl with the cumin, curry, and coriander and cayenne.

Add fresh lemon juice and olive oil and stir it all up.

Pour spice mixture in the zip-lock bag with the pork. Seal bag, give it a good smoosh, and then let it sit in the fridge for 3-4 hours (longer is just fine)

Before skewering make sure to soak bamboo skewers in water for 20-30 minutes. Thread on pork chunks and alternate with red pepper and onion.

Grill on a preheated med heat grill for about 10 minutes total. Rotate them often to avoid burning. If you've cut your pork chunks an inch or smaller, they'll be done pretty fast. Don't overcook!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Edamame Pate

I'm glad my curiosity about this recipe from Vegetarian Times was enough for me to try it out. My son and I gobbled up our sandwiches! My husband wasn't a big fan, but that meant more for us to enjoy the next day for lunch! I think raw red peppers would be just as tasty.

1-1/4 C frozen shelled edamame, thawed

1/2 C walnuts

1/3 C mint leaves, packed

1 green onion, chopped

1/2 tsp salt

3 Tbs lemon juice

8 slices whole grain bread

2 C arugula (I think spinach would be just as good)

4 jarred roasted red peppers, drained (or make your own)

2 small cucumbers, thinly sliced

Puree edamame, walnuts, mint, green onion, and salt in a food processor until finely chopped. With the motor running, add lemon juice and 3 Tbs water. Process until smooth. Spread each of 4 bread slices with 1/3 C pate. Add 1/2 C arugula, 1 roasted red pepper, and cucumbers to each. Top with remaining bread slices. Enjoy!
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