Friday, February 15, 2013

Maple Pecan Crusted Apples

Early in January, I was asked by Brenda at Meal Planning Magic to join her Eating the Alphabet Healthy Challenge.  The challenge is to make foods that feature fruits, vegetables, grains or beans starting with different letters of the alphabet each month.

This month was either 'A' or 'B'.  When I told my husband about this, he suggested avocados... I think this is because we eat avocados A LOT.  However, I kept going back to a recipe for baked apples that I had seen as part of the Secret Recipe Club.  So, in order to challenge myself, for the purposes of the swap, I abandoned my husband's avocado suggestion and went for the baked apple suggestion. 

I hope you follow this swap throughout the year and if you're interested in joining, head on over to Brenda's blog to sign up!

Maple Pecan Crusted Apples
slightly adapted from Sustainable Cooking for One
1 medium apple
Pinch of: cinnamon, allspice, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves
2 tablespoons craisins
2 tablespoons chopped raw pecans
1 tablespoon maple syrup (real, preferably grade B)

1) Peel one circle around the middle of the apple, and a little off the top of the apple. Remove the core.
2) Place the apple in a small baking dish or oven-safe bowl. Mix together the spices and roll the apple in them.
3) Mix any remaining spices with the craisins, and add about 1/3 of the pecans. Stuff that mixture into the center of the apple. Pour the maple syrup over the apple, and top with the remaining pecans. 4) Bake until soft (mine baked about 40 minutes, but it will vary for the size of the apple). Spoon the syrup over the apple before serving.

I loved these apples because I just made one for my husband and one for me, so there isn't a whole nine by thirteen pan of dessert sitting at our house calling our name.  We felt like we ate something sweet enough to qualify as a dessert, but weren't so bogged down that we felt guilty. 

One of my favorite desserts is those baked apples that you can get at places like Boston Market.  They are just so comforting.  This tastes very similar.  I went a little heavier on the cinnamon, so that was the predominant spice flavor in ours.  The maple syrup kind of cramelized and made a delicious coating.  I liked the nut addition as well as the craisins, I think they would have been missed if they hadn't been added.  We learned that  fruit can make a very delicious dessert...and simple too.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Philly Cheesesteak Sloppy Joes

Confession: this isn't the first time that I made this dish.  I made it while we were in Wyoming, but never took a picture. 

When I first met Sarah from A Taste of Homecooking on my food forum, I spent a lot of time on her blog and this was (and still is) the most popular recipe on her blog.  The first time I made it, I had never thought of making sloppy joes from scratch and it sounded much better than other sloppy joes.  Right now, I'm going through a kind of sloppy joe phase (is that even a real thing?) and think they're delicious, so I put this one back on the menu.

Philly Cheesesteak Sloppy Joes
barely adapted from A Taste of Home Cooking
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound ground beef
1 softball-sized onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
4 tablespoons steak sauce, such as A-1
1 cup beef stock
Salt and ground black pepper
4 dinner rolls
4 slices provolone

1) In large skillet over medium-high heat add the oil and then brown the ground beef, about 5-6 minutes.
2) Add the onion and green pepper and cook another 3-4 minutes, until the vegetables start to get tender.
3) Stir in the steak sauce and beef stock, season with salt and pepper, bring up to a bubble and cook until most of the liquid is absorbed.
4)  Turn on broiler, and split open rolls and remove most of the soft insides of the bottom part of the bun, leaving a bed to hold the meat mixture. Put a slice of cheese on each top of bread.  Toast the rolls until browned and cheese is melted. Spoon in meat mixture.

I had these for lunch the next day and definitely think the meat got more flavorful while it sat in the fridge over night.  I thought these were really good and a great weeknight meal.   They are originally from Rachel Ray, so you know they're fast.  I didn't make a cheese sauce from Sarah's version because I remember the cheese sauce not being worth the hassle the first time that I made it.  I think just regular provolone is just as good, and is less fuss. 

Monday, February 11, 2013

Chipotle Aioli Deviled Eggs

My first attempt at Deviled Eggs was a complete and utter disaster.  I spent at least an hour over my kitchen sink trying to gently peel the eggshell of the egg, but getting chunks of egg flesh on each piece of shell.  My mom makes amazing deviled eggs and I was hoping to follow in her steps, but I just remember being so frustrated that I swore no more deviled eggs would grace my table.

After that experience I talked to A LOT of people about deviled eggs.  How did they boil them, what kind of eggs did they use, did they rinse them or just let them cool on their own...etc.  A lot of talk about something that shouldn't be complicated...right?

Well, learned that everyone does eggs differently, and heard that everyone had their own horrendous egg peeling experience.  So, I definitely wasn't alone.  So now, I try to find a different deviled egg recipe every time I try.  I served these on Super Bowl Sunday and they were the easiest thing on my menu to make.

Chipotle Aioli Deviled Eggs
barely adapted from SteakNPotatoesKindGurl
Eggs and filling
8 Hard boiled eggs
4 tablespooons Mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon salt

Chipotle Aioli
½ cup mayonnaise
1 garlic clove, finely minced
1 large Adobo chili
Salt and pepper

1) Hard boil the eight eggs and let cool to room temperature. Cut in half lengthwise and remove the yolk. Place into a bowl and break up with a fork until lumps are gone. Add the mayonnaise, mustard and salt. Whisk with a fork until creamy. Taste and adjust seasoning if desired. Chill for one hour.
2) Add all of the aioli ingredients into a food processor until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired. Place into a container with a lid and refrigerate until ready to use.
3) Place the egg halves onto a platter. Put the egg yolk mixture into a piping bag and use the star tip to pipe into the egg halves (I just used a spoon instead of a piping bag) and add a tiny dollop of the chipotle aioli. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

I made these for my husband because I am unable to eat chipotle in adobo.  He said he liked the smokiness of the chipotle with the deviled egg.  SteakNPotatoesKindaGurl put crab on hers, but he wrinkled his nose at the thought of that, so I just stuck with the aioli.  This was the easiest dish at our super bowl party and everyone liked them. 

Monday, February 4, 2013

Secret Recipe Club: Triple Chocolate Oreo Bars

This is my first Secret Recipe Club month, which is a great recipe exchange where you receive a blog and can choose anything to make.  I actually applied to be part of this exchange in November of 2011, so I'm glad that I was finally chosen to participate.  Please drop by the website to find a ton of great recipes and all the info about the swap.

Secret Recipe Club

For my first swap, I received Meghan's blog Cupcakes with Sprinkles.  She says she's never too full for dessert which resonates with me.  A great dessert can make a good meal that much better, and people unite over dessert.  I loved looking through her desserts, she has such a diverse assortment.  I had a hard time choosing between the these bars, Caramel Apple Cheesecake bars, and Snickerdoodle Cupcakes.  I chose these because I have a soft spot for oreos and they just sounded too good to pass up, but I know this blog will provide me with desserts for every party that I have for a long time to come.  Head on over and check out her awesome desserts.

Triple Chocolate Oreo Bars
as seen on Cupcakes with Sprinkles
1-16.6oz pkg Oreo Cookies
1/2 cup (1 stick) Butter, melted
1-14oz can Sweetened Condensed Milk
1 teaspoon Vanilla
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1 cup Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
1/2 cup Milk Chocolate Chips
1/2 cup Mini Chocolate Chips
1 cup White Chocolate Chips, melted
1) Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line 9x13 pan with foil, shiny side down, and spray with a non-stick spray.
2) Crush all but 8 Oreos in a food processor. Place the crushed Oreos into a medium bowl and salt and melted butter stir until combined. Press the Oreo mixture into the prepared pan. Coarsely chop the remaining 8 Oreos and set aside.
3) In a double boiler, just a glass or metal bowl over a pan of boiling water, add the sweetened condensed milk, semi-sweet chocolate chips, milk chocolate chips and the vanilla. Stir until completely melted. Remove bowl from heat. Pour the melted chocolate mixture over the Oreo crust in the pan. Sprinkle with mini chocolate chips and the coarsely chopped Oreos over the chocolate mixture. Press down gently on the chips and Oreos.
4) Bake for 20-22 minutes. Cool pan on a wire rack for 1 hour. Melt the white chocolate chips and drizzle over the bars. Chill in the fridge until cooled completely. 

I obviously had a problem with the white chocolate layer, as can be seen with my photo, so these were really Double Chocolate Oreo Bars.  For some reason, my white chocolate chips never melted right, so I just decided not to put them on the top.  But, I was serving them at the Super Bowl party and everyone loved them, so I considered them a hit.  I loved the bottom and how moist and oreo-like it was, and the other layers complimented the base perfectly.  While these were very chocolately, they weren't too rich.  There's never such a thing as too much chocolate, right?

These are really easy to put together and super delicious.  I wonder if they'd be good with the flavored oreos...or the golden ones.  I guess that will be my next thing to try. 

Please check out all the other great Secret Recipe Club recipes below.


Friday, February 1, 2013

Egg Sandwiches with Goat Cheese and Prosciutto

It is time for another recipe swap, and this time, I got our host Sarah from A Taste of Home Cooking.  I was really excited because in all the time that we've been doing the swaps, I have only ever gotten something from Sarah once.  Please visit Sarah's blog to look through six years dishes she's made while blogging.

While looking through her blog, I came up with so many dishes that I basically meal-planned my two weeks of food around Sarah's blog.  We loved every dish that I made, so it was hard to choose between the three that I actually took pictures of, which one I should actually post.  I was going to post about the Chicken Tostadas with Avocado Salsa, but then one of the other bloggers from my food forum posted it as part of her Taco Tuesday I'll save that one for another time.  I finally decided on these delicious breakfast sandwiches.

Egg sandwiches with Goat Cheese and Prosciutto
slightly adapted from A Taste of Home Cooking
4 ounces goat cheese, softened
2 teaspoons dried chives
4 eggs
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter
4 medium rustic rolls, halved crosswise, lightly toasted
4 tablespoons pesto
4 ounces sliced prosciutto
1) In a medium bowl, combined the goat cheese and chives; set aside.
2) Heat the butter in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Crack each egg into the skillet, and lower the heat to medium-low. After about two minutes, flip the egg and sprinkle with salt. Turn off the heat but don’t move the pan. Residual heat from the pan will finish cooking the eggs without drying the out while you build the sandwiches.
3) Spread the cut sides of one half of each roll with the goat cheese mixture and one half of the roll with pesto. Top the bottom half with a fried egg, then sliced prosciutto. Top with the other half of the roll. Serve immediately.

I tried making these with a scrambled egg type mixture as Sarah recommended, but ended up with more egg on my plate than between the bread.  The second time I made these, the fried egg worked much better, although Jacob said he liked the taste of the scrambled eggs better.  I love the combination of pesto and goat cheese, so I thought that that would be a delicious addition.  I only used chives because I forgot to buy green onions, but I think the green onions would be amazing as well because I didn't really taste the chives in the goat cheese mixture.  These breakfast sandwiches are super tasty and only take about 10 minutes to cook, so it is a win-win dinner.  Can't wait to make these again in the future.  Stay tuned for the tostada recipe as well, it was amazing too!

Please click through the dishes below to find other delicious recipes.