Thursday, October 31, 2013

Southwestern Egg Rolls with Cilantro Dipping Sauce

Last menu swap, Jessie had me frying shrimp (which I just realized I never shared the recipe - will do soon!).  This time I fried southwestern egg rolls that were fantastic!  I'm not one to crave fried food, but I'll not admit to how many of these egg rolls I ended up eating!  They were only made better by the cilantro sauce - it's like the sauce was made for these egg rolls.  A must-eat pair!

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 skinless, boneless chicken breast half
2 tablespoons minced green onion
2 tablespoons minced red bell pepper
1/3 cup frozen corn kernels
1/4 cup black beans, rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
2 tablespoons diced jalapeno peppers
1/2 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/3 teaspoon salt
1 pinch ground cayenne pepper
3/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
5 (6 inch) flour tortillas
1 quart oil for deep frying

Rub 1 tablespoon vegetable oil over chicken breast. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, cook chicken approximately 5 minutes per side, until meat is no longer pink and juices run clear. Remove from heat and set aside.

Heat remaining 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in green onion and red pepper. Cook and stir 5 minutes, until tender.
Dice chicken and mix into the pan with onion and red pepper. Mix in corn, black beans, spinach, jalapeno peppers, parsley, cumin, chili powder, salt and cayenne pepper. Cook and stir 5 minutes, until well blended and tender. Remove from heat and stir in Monterey Jack cheese so that it melts.
Wrap tortillas with a clean, lightly moist cloth. Microwave on high approximately 1 minute, or until hot and pliable.

Spoon even amounts of the mixture into each tortilla. Fold ends of tortillas, then roll tightly around mixture. Secure with toothpicks. Arrange in a medium dish, cover with plastic, and place in the freezer. Freeze at least 4 hours.

In a large, deep skillet, heat oil for deep frying to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Deep fry frozen, stuffed tortillas 10 minutes each, or until dark golden brown. Drain on paper towels before serving.

Cilantro Dipping Sauce

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon sour cream
1 (7 ounce) can tomatillo salsa
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon celery salt (I used regular salt)
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped (about one cup)
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

Combine everything in a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth and creamy. Place in a serving bowl.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Chicken, Cheddar, Apple Salad with Spiced Pecans

Last week my friend, Jessie, and I did another menu swap!  I almost always cook at least two new recipes in a week of meals, but throwing five new recipes into one week is so much fun!  So each post this week will be one of the recipes Jessie gave me.

This salad was fantastic!  I cheated and went with store-bought spiced pecans, but we all still ate it up.  The dressing was more than enough, which means I'll probably be making the salad again next week!  The directions look long, but it's really a very simple salad to throw together.  

  • The Salad:
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 3-4 medium)
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable or canola oil
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 large head romaine lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces (about 8-10 cups)
  • 8 ounces sharp or extra-sharp cheddar cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, cored and chopped or sliced thin
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced thin
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup spiced pecans, store-bought or following the simple recipe below

  • Dried Cranberry Vinaigrette:
  • 1/4 cup cranberry juice or water
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup red wine or raspberry vinegar
  • 1 shallot, peeled and quartered
  • 1 small garlic clove, peeled
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

  • Quick Spiced Pecans: (or you can find them pre-made on a shelf with the croutons)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 2 cups pecan halves
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

  • For the chicken and salad, pat the chicken dry with paper towels and season both sides with the salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until the oil is shimmering and hot. Add the chicken and cook until it is nicely browned on one side, about 3 minutes. Flip the chicken over, add the water, and cover the skillet. Cook the chicken, letting it poach, until it is cooked through, about 5-7 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and let it cool slightly before carving.

  • Toss the lettuce, cheese, apple, pecans, onion and dried cranberries together. Divide the salad among the serving plates. Slice the chicken on a diagonal and arrange over the salad. Serve with the vinaigrette. I prefer to let everyone douse their own salad with dressing, but you could toss the salad with 1/2 cup or so of the vinaigrette before assembling it on the plates and serve the extra dressing on the side.

  • For the pecans, melt the butter in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Stir in the spices and then the pecans. Toast the nuts, stirring often, until the color deepens slightly and they are lightly toasted, about 5-7 minutes. Transfer the nuts to a bowl and toss with the sugar. Let them cool completely before tossing with the salad.

  • For the dressing, combine the cranberry juice (or water) and cranberries in a small microwave-safe bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave on high for one minute until hot. Process the hot cranberry mixture, vinegar, shallot, garlic, thyme, mustard, salt and pepper in a blender until the shallot and garlic are finely chopped. With the blender running, add the oil and continue to blend until the dressing is smooth and well-combined. Thin the dressing, if needed, with additional cranberry juice. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Pumpkin Butter

As we had into Fall, I wanted to share something I made last year but never got around to posting.  There are lots of different recipes for pumpkin butter floating around, but this is the one I used and was pleased with how it turned out.  The flavor was nicely spiced and smooth.  I made several batches to give away in decorated jars.  The teachers seemed especially grateful!  

1 (29 ounce) can pumpkin puree, approx. 3 1/2 cups or fresh
3/4 cup apple juice
1/2-1.5 teaspoons ground ginger (optional, sometimes I omit)
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup Sucanat (or brown sugar)
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1-2 tsp fresh lemon juice

Combine pumpkin, apple juice, spices, and sugar in a large saucepan and stir well. Bring mixture to a boil, covered with lid ajar (I prop it with a wooden spoon). Reduce heat to low-medium and simmer, covered with lid ajar, for 35-45 minutes, stirring frequently. Be careful as the mixture bubbles and pops!
Remove from heat and let it sit for a few minutes before removing lid. Adjust spices to taste. Stir in lemon juice. Once cool, pumpkin butter can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 weeks. Makes enough to fill one large mason jar or about 3.5 cups.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Greek Panzanella

We are big fans of Greek-inspired food.  This salad was delicious!  If you're needing something to accompany the salad, go for some chicken strips laced on skewers and marinated in this delicious dressing before grilling.  It'd be a total winner dinner in my book!

6 cups bread, cut into 1 inch cubes (day old is best)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 of a red onion, thinly sliced (my kids don't love raw onion, so I left this out, but would have preferred it for myself)
1/2 cup fresh parsley, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup kalamata olives, sliced
8 ounces feta, cubed
2-3 large ripe tomatoes, chopped
1 large cucumber, chopped

2 tablespoons lemon juice
6 tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon lemon zest
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425F

Spread the bread cubes onto a baking pan and drizzle with olive oil and salt.  Toss, then toast for about 10 minutes or until browned.

In a large bowl, mix the remaining ingredients. Add the bread cubes and toss with the vinaigrette. Season with salt and pepper. Serve slightly warm and the bread will still be very crisp  or allow the salad to sit for about half an hour for the flavors to blend and the bread cubes will be a little softer.  Any longer the bread starts to get soggy.  (You can always prepare and even combine everything except the bread ahead of time and just add that when you're ready to serve.)

adapted from recipe found here

Monday, October 7, 2013

Caramel Apple Cake with Cinnamon Whipped Frosting

Welcome Fall!  We are happy to see you, especially if it means we get to eat desserts like this!  I would highly recommend working in this delicious treat to your Fall menu this month.  The cake is moist and yummy by itself, but add the cinnamon whipped cream cheese and top with caramel sauce - it melts in your mouth!  I put the assembled cake in the fridge without the sauce until we were ready to eat.  The slightly warm caramel drizzled all over put the finishing touch on this decadent dessert that is definitely worth sharing with friends.  

  • Apple Cake:
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tsp soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2+ tsp cinnamon
  • a pinch of ground nutmeg
  • a pinch of ground cloves
  • 3 cups fresh chopped apples

  • Caramel topping:
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup evaporated milk

  • Cinnamon Whipped Frosting:
  • 6oz cream cheese, softened
  • 4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 12oz whipping cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla

  • Apple Cake:
  • Prep two 8" round cake pans with non-stick spray 
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer, blend together the sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla.
  • Add in the flour, soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves and mix until combined
  • Fold in chopped apples.
  • Divide batter evenly between two pans and bake at 300F for 55-60 minutes. 
  • When the cakes are finished baking, allow them to cool for 10 minutes, then remove from pans and let them cool completely on a cooling rack.

  • Cinnamon Whipped Frosting:
  • Stir together the softened cream cheese, cinnamon and powdered sugar until well combined.
  • Beat the whipping cream and vanilla until medium peaks form.
  • Scoop one-third of the whipped cream into the cream cheese mix and gently fold together until well combined.
  • Add the the rest of the whipped cream to the cinnamon whipped cream cheese mix and gently fold until well combined.
  • Caramel Topping:
  • In a small pan over medium-low heat, melt the butter.
  • Add both sugars and stir until dissolved.
  • Add in the evaporated milk.
  • Bring to a boil and cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently.
  • Let it cool slightly before drizzling over cake.
  • To assemble:
  • Layer the apple cakes with the cinnamon whipped frosting. Pour the cooled caramel topping over the top.
Adapted from this recipe

    Wednesday, October 2, 2013

    Potato, Chicken, and Green Bean Bake

    If you've seen this meal idea floating around Pinterest, I'm here to say it's as good and as easy as advertised.  The options for spice flavoring are endless and you can't beat having just one pan to wash up after dinner, especially since my family basically licks the pan clean making my job even easier!  I've made this twice now, both times to requests for more and each time making a couple adjustments.  So I'm posting here what I'll do in the future.  

    2-3 cups fresh or frozen green beans
    4-6 medium potatoes, washed well (peeled if you want) and cut into large chunks
    2 pounds chicken, cut into large portions (I used a combination of breasts and thighs, cutting the breasts into halves and the thigh into thirds)
    1/3 cup butter
    3 Tbsp seasoning mix (see below for some suggestions)

    Preheat oven to 350.

    Using a 9x13 baking dish, place vegetables and chicken in rows with the chicken in the middle (see photo above).  Cut butter into chunks, distributing over the pan evenly.  Sprinkle seasoning evenly on top of everything.  Cover with foil.  Bake 60 minutes.  Done!  (If you want more crispy/textured potatoes, bake un-covered.  But stir the potatoes once half-way through to help them cook more evenly).

    Seasoning suggestions:
    Ranch Dressing mix packet (this was our favorite)
    simple salt and pepper
    Lemon Pepper

    Tuesday, October 1, 2013

    Strawberry Banana Bread

    I scored some strawberries marked way down in price because they needed to be eaten right away.  No problem for us!  My family was happy to eat this moist loaf of strawberry banana bread for breakfast with some yogurt on the side.

    1 cup whole wheat flour
    1 cup all-purpose flour
    1/2 cup sugar
    3/4 teaspoon baking soda
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
    1 1/2 cups mashed ripe banana, about 3 large bananas
    2 eggs
    1/4 cup greek yogurt
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    3/4 cup sliced fresh strawberries

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a standard bread pan and set aside.

    In a large bowl, sift together the dry ingredients. 

    In a medium bowl, combine wet ingredients and mix well.

    Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the banana mixture. Stir until just combined. Gently fold in sliced strawberries.

    Bake for 55 mins or until golden brown and cooked through. Cool on wire rack before serving.

    adapted from this recipe
    Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...