Friday, July 29, 2011

Honey Mustard Chicken Skewers

I have to admit that I watch a ton of Chopped on Food Network.  I always judge the people who are ingredient snobs on the show.  The people who are like, "I wouldn't feed this type of ingredient to my dog."  When I got Honey Baked Chicken from FaithCaitlin, I took a look at the French's mustard in the original recipe and automatically made a face.  And then I realized that I was being an ingredient snob, so I'd find a way to make this recipe work for me.  

I made Honey Mustard Chicken Skewers from the basis of this recipe.  Grilling the meat took a lot less time than baking it in the oven would have as well.

1 Container Button Mushrooms
1 White Onion
1 Green Bell Pepper
2 Chicken Breasts

1/2 cup of honey
2 tablespoons of whole grain mustard
1 tablespoons of butter

Cut all of the produce for the skewers.  Skewer all the ingredients that you want.   Heat the honey, the mustard, the butter, the salt on the stove.  Put the skewers on the grill and while everything is grilling, brush the honey mustard mixture over the skewer ingredients.  Grill until the chicken is cooked all the way through.

I have never just brushed a sauce onto meat on the grill, so I had doubts that the skewers would develop a lot of flavor.  But they tasted amazing.  The sauce complimented the grilled vegetables very well.   I'll definitely use this idea again.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Chocolate Almond Cheesecake

For this week's recipe swap, I had a Chocolate Almond Cheesecake from Kate's Recipe Box.  I have to admit that my baking skills are quite lacking.  I always forget an ingredient, the texture is wrong, or it just tastes horrible.  Because of this, cheesecake has always been at the top of my "Don't Make" list because I assumed it would be much too difficult for me.

Lo and behold that I was challenged with a cheesecake for the swap.  So I looked at the ingredients and decided that it looked easy enough to tackle.  I bought a spring form pan from Wal Mart and was ready to make an amazing cheesecake. 

It was super simple to put together.  It wasn't as ingredient cumbersome as some of my other dessert recipes too.  My favorite part was cleanup though.  Usually my kitchen looks like a war zone with ingredients, bowls, spoons, and whisks.  This cheesecake made for a super easy cleanup though.

Chocolate Almond Cheesecake
adapted from Kate's Recipe Box

For the crust:
1 1/2 c. smashed oreos (with the centers taken out)
1/4 c. unsalted butter, melted

For the cheesecake:
4 oz. semisweet chocolate chips, divided
1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 c. white sugar
1 1/2 c. sour cream, divided
2 eggs
1 t. vanilla extract
1/4 c. finely diced almonds
2 T. firmly packed brown sugar

Combine the crust ingredients and mix well. Press mixture into a 9-inch springform pan.

Melt 3 oz. of the chocolate in the microwave for about a minute.  Stir the chips to make sure they all melt together. Set aside.

Whip cream cheese and white sugar together until creamy. Add 1/2 c. sour cream and eggs. Blend in melted chocolate and vanilla. Pour mixture into prepared crust. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until cheesecake center is set.

Blend remaining 1 c. sour cream and brown sugar.  Spread over cheesecake and then sprinkle with the almonds. Bake for an additional 5 minutes. Cool to room temperature.

Melt remaining 1 oz. chocolate. Drizzle over cheesecake. Chill for at least 4 hours before serving.

I took this up to my office since I don't like to keep desserts at my house and half of it was gone before 7:30 in the morning.  It was a great cheesecake.  I struggle with restaurant cheesecakes because they are either too plain and not worth the money or they are so rich that you can barely eat the sliver they gave you.  This cheesecake is just interesting enough without being too rich to eat.  It will definitely be thrown into the office dessert rotation again.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Creamy Salsa Chicken

My recipe swap this week was a side dish, so I decided to tackle Creamy Salsa chicken as a main dish to go with it.  I discovered Salsa Verde a couple of months ago, and we now rarely use the normal red salsa anymore.  We just think that Salsa Verde has so much more flavor than normal salsa and it is good on almost any dish that calls for normal salsa.

Creamy Salsa Chicken
adapted from Mary Ellen's Cooking Creations
  • 4 large boned, skinless chicken breast halves
  • one 16-oz. jar of slightly chunky salsa verde, as spicy as you like (Note: if the salsa is too thin, the sauce will be runny.)
  • about ½ cup heavy whipping cream
  • Queso Fresco (for flavor garnish)
  • Cilantro
Place the chicken in the crock pot and cover it with the salsa.  Cook on low for about 5 hours and then add the heavy cream and mix with the salsa in the crock pot.  Cook about 30 minutes longer.  Remove the chicken from the crock pot and garnish with queso fresco and some cilantro.

I really liked the chicken.  It was very flavorful.  Although when served with the Rice with Roasted Poblanos, Spinach and Queso Fresco, the textures are pretty similar and so it makes for a monotonous textured meal.  I'm going to make this chicken again with a different side since the chicken was so flavorful.

Rice with Roasted Poblanos, Spinach, and Queso Fresco

My husband loves Mexican food, so he was ecstatic when I told him that this week was Mexican food week for the recipe swap. 

For the swap I recieved Mary Ellen's Cooking Creations Rice with Roasted Poblanos, Spinach, and Queso Fresco.  I served it with a modified Creamy Salsa Chicken, which both are Rick Bayless recipes.

Rice with Roasted Poblanos, Spinach, and Queso Fresco

  • 2 medium fresh poblano chiles
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil or olive oil
  • 1.5 cups white rice, preferably medium grain
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 cups loosely packed sliced stemmed spinach leaves
  • 1.5 cups coarsely crumbled Mexican queso fresco (or firm goat cheese or feta)

  • Roast the chiles over a gas flame. Once all the skin is charred, approximately 5 minutes, transfer to a bowl and cover for 10 minutes. Remove the skins, seeds, and stems, rinse, and chop into 1/4 inch pieces.
  • Heat broth in a small saucepan.
  • In a separate 3-qt saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add raw rice; stir regularly for 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic and stir for a few seconds. Make sure the grains of rice do not brown.
  • Add the warm liquid and chopped roasted chiles. Stir, cover, and cook on the lowest heat setting for about 15 minutes.
  • Remove the pot from the heat and add spinach, distributing it over the rice, but not stirring. Cover the pot and let is stand for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, test the rice. Mine was done and all of the liquid was absorbed, but if this isn't the case for you, Rick suggests sprinkling 2 tbsp water on top of the rice and returning it to low heat, covered, for 5 minutes.
  • Uncover the rice, sprinkle with cheese, and fluff everything together with a fork.

I have to admit that I struggled with this recipe a lot.  I made it all according to the directions and at the end, even after sprinkling the extra water and cooking it extra, the rice was still hard.  After about 45 minutes, it was finally soft enough to eat, but then I found that for some reason my batch cooked really weird and some was soft and some was hard.  I thought the spinach and the poblanos were an interesting addition, but I felt like the cheese didn't really go with the dish.  I couldn't really taste it (after adding more than the recommended 1.5 cups of cheese).  I think this dish would be better with a much stronger cheese like feta. 

I had fun roasting the peppers, but I don't think that this dish will make it back onto my table.

Pork Po'Boys

I'm always looking for meatball recipes because I think they make for a hearty meal.  I saw this recipe, but cannot eat red spices (paprika, cayenne pepper) so I decided to modify the recipe to something that I could eat.

Pork Po'Boys
adapted from Annie's Eats

For the meatballs:
1 1/2 lbs. ground pork
1 1/4 tsp. dried thyme
3/4 tsp. garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 egg
1 handful of breadcrumbs

For the sauce:
1/2 cup light mayonnaise
3 tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 medium kosher dill pickles, finely chopped
1/2 small shallot, minced

For the sandwiches:
4 (8-inch) soft baguettes, split (or hoagie rolls)
Red Leaf Lettuce
2 tomatoes, thinly sliced
1/4 red onion
4 slices provolone cheese

In a large bowl combine the ground pork and all of the spices for the meatballs.  Mix thoroughly using your hands until the mixture is well combined.  Form the pork into golf-ball sized meatballs.  Preheat oil in a skillet and place the meatballs in once your pan is hot.  Turning the meatballs once, about 12 minutes total, until cooked through.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl combine the ingredients for the sauce.  Season with salt and pepper.  Mix well and spread the sauce onto the split baguettes.

Place meatballs on each baguette and top with lettuce, tomato and slices of onion.  Close the sandwiches and serve.

I followed Annie's recipe for the sauce, but the pickle taste was extremely overwhelming.  The meatballs were great, they had great texture, and they weren't dried out.  The sandwich was great, although a little messy.  The next day when I ate it for lunch, I added the cheese, which added another flavor element to the sandwich.  It was great, and my husband loved it too.

Chicken and Avocado Enchiladas

My husband loves Mexican food and will devour almost anything that contains a tortilla.  I was getting a little tired of making the same old enchiladas though, so I thought I would give this recipe a shot, and now I think it will become a staple in our household.

Chicken and Avocado Enchiladas
Adapted from So Tasty So Yummy

½ teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon cilantro
1 teaspoon cumin
½ jalapeno, minced
juice from ½ lime
1 large chicken breast, cooked and shredded (I cooked mine in the crockpot with Chicken Broth so it was ready to throw together when I got home from work)
½ cup shredded Colby jack cheese
2 avocadoes, pitted and diced

1 jar salsa verde
6 flour tortillas
¼ cup shredded Colby jack cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line an oven proof dish with 2 tablespoons of the green salsa. In a medium bowl, combine the garlic powder, cumin, cilantro, jalapeno, lime juice, chicken and ½ cup of the cheese. Stir well to combine. Add the avocado and toss gently to combine. Microwave the tortillas for ~30 seconds to soften. Fill each tortilla with the chicken mixture, roll each up and place seam side down in the prepared dish. After all the tortillas have been rolled, pour the remaining tomatillo sauce over top. Top with ¼ cup cheese. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for 15 minutes more. Serve.

These enchiladas were amazing.  The salsa verde and the jalapeno gave these enchiladas quite the kick, but the creaminess of the avocado balanced everything so that your mouth wasn't suffering.  We did add an extra avocado to the recipe but only because we love avocados, you could easily just put one in there and they'd still be amazing.  Between all of the spices and the lime juice, they had amazing flavor and you could definitely distinguish all of the different ingredients.  Definitely a must try!

Amish Style Yumasetta

My mom is an amazing cook.  I wish I was half as good as she is most of the time.  She used to make Yumasetta while I was growing up and we'd all beg her to make more the second the casserole dish was cleaned.  I developed a lot of food allergies in middle school and haven't been able to eat this since then, until I came up with my own spaghetti sauce (see the Tofu Parmesean blog).  So this week, I was finally able to make it again.

  • 2 lbs. Hamburger or Ground Turkey (I used turkey) 

  • 2 tbsp brown sugar

  • 1 chopped white onion

  • 1 (10 3/4 oz.) Can tomto soup, undiluted (I used my spaghetti sauce)

  • 1 (10 3/4 oz.) Can cream of chicken soup, undiluted

  • 1 (16 oz.) Package egg noodles

  • 1 (8 oz.) Package processed cheese, such as Kraft or Velveeta (I recommend Kraft Singles, but I used Velveeta)

  • Directions
    1. Brown hamburger with salt, pepper, brown sugar and onion.
    2. Add tomato mixture.
    3. Cook egg noodles according to package; Drain.
    4. Add cream of chicken soup to egg noodles.
    5. Layer hamburger mixture and noodle Mixture in 9x12" Casserole with processed cheese between layers.
    6. Bake at 350°F for 30 minutes.

    It isn't healthy, and I'm not claiming that, but it is amazing nonetheless.  My husband was skeptical, but ended up having three bowls, and I had to put the cover on the casserole dish and put it back in the fridge so that he would stop eating it.  I would use the Kraft singles just for consistency.  Our velveeta slices were a little inconsistant and even though it didn't affect the flavor, sometimes you mostly just got a bite of cheese. 

    This can easily be made ahead and frozen for a quick weeknight meal, you'd just have to adjust the cooking time.