Monday, January 24, 2011

Taking a break…


For those that might be wondering where I was last week, I apologize. I have been trying to avoid anything that is a distraction from my thesis. Trust me when I say, the kitchen is my biggest distraction. I am determined to get my thesis done so that I can completely finish my MBA program. With that being said, I am going to continue to take time off from blogging. I’m not sure for how long and I might post a few recipes here and there, but I want to try to give myself the best environment possible to finish the last stage of my master’s program. Keep me in your thoughts and prayers!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Governor Bars



Sometimes my sweet tooth cravings come when there is not really enough time to spend in the kitchen baking. That is when I start searching for a no bake recipe that will satisfy the cravings in less than half the time. I have been in a rice krispy mood lately and wanted to also incorporate rice krispies into the no bake recipe requirement. This was the perfect recipe to satisfy both cravings. The chocolate layer on top is quite rich, but is balanced by the rice cereal bottom. I’m not sure why the bars are named “governor”, but they are pretty addicting and hard to resist!

Governor Bars

6 cups Kellogg’s Rice Krispies

1 cup peanut butter

1 cup honey

1 cup sugar

12 oz bag semi-sweet chocolate chips

12 oz bag butterscotch chips

Place rice krispies and peanut butter in a large mixing bowl. Do not mix together yet; set aside.

Heat the honey and sugar in a medium saucepan until it is just boiling. Immediately remove from heat and pour into the bowl with the Rice Krispies and peanut butter. Mix with a wooden spoon until combined. Lightly press the mixture into a greased 9 X 13 inch pan.

Melt the chocolate chips and butterscotch chips in a microwave safe bowl for about one minute, stirring every 30 seconds. Stir until melted and smooth. Spread evenly on top of the rice krispies. Let cool until hardened before slicing into bars.

Source: Pennies on a Platter

One Year Ago Today: Yummy Potatoes

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Slow Cooker Chili



Yesterday was another snow day here in New York. There is so much snow in our driveway and yard, it is overwhelming! Having the day off from work means that I can snuggle under the covers for most of the day. When it comes to eating, a big pot of chili comforts the soul. This version happens to be a favorite of mine due to the ease of cooking. All the work is done in the Crockpot, allowing it to simmer away with little effort from the cook! Growing up, I never ate chili without some corn chips, making an average bowl of chili into Frito chili pie. However you choose to serve the dish, the results will be a hearty and satisfying bowl of chili that everyone can look forward to on a cold winter day.

Slow Cooker Chili

1 pound ground chuck

2 (15 oz.) cans red kidney beans, drained

1 (26.5 oz) can garlic-herb spaghetti sauce

1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes

2 tablespoons chili powder

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

Garnishes: Sour cream, Cheddar cheese, corn chips, and/or minced green onion

In a medium skillet, cook ground chuck over medium-high heat until beef is browned and crumbles. Spoon beef into a 6-quart slow cooker; add beans, spaghetti sauce, tomatoes, chili powder, pepper, and salt. Cover, and cook on low for 6 hours. Garnish with desired toppings.

Source: Cooking with Paula Deen, January/February 2008

One Year Ago Today: Island Pork Tenderloin

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Thai Honey Peanut Chicken



One thing that hasn’t changed with my taste buds is I still love peanut butter with anything. Before I started branching out and trying new things, I only stuck to things I knew. When my husband wanted Thai food, the only thing I would order was some variation of peanut chicken. Thankfully, I have broadened my horizons, but every now and then I still love peanut chicken. This is a fast dinner that satisfies my Thai cravings without getting take-out. Many of the ingredients are already located in your pantry. The chicken has lots of peanut butter flavor with a generous portion of sauce that soaks in to the rice, giving the dish lots of flavor with every bite.

Thai Honey Peanut Chicken

1 pound chicken, cut into chunks

1/4 cup soy sauce

2 tablespoons honey

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice

1 teaspoon garlic, minced

1 tablespoon peanut butter

1/2 teaspoon curry powder

1 teaspoon sriracha (optional)

Sesame seeds, for topping

Mix ingredients and marinate chicken for two to three hours.

Cook chicken in the sauce over medium-high heat for seven to eight minutes or until chicken is done. Sevre topped with sesame seeds.

If sauce is too thin, mix together 1 teaspoon cornstarch and 1 tablespoon water. Reduce heat to medium-low and add the cornstarch mixture.

Serve with rice.

Source: Tasty Kitchen

Monday, January 10, 2011

Starred Recipes Recap


Well 2011 is moving along! So far January in New York has been quite cold and snowy. Over the weekend I celebrated a milestone. I have finished all course work for my MBA program. I started in September 09 and have finally reached the home stretch. The only thing left is to finish my thesis, so while I’m not out of the woods yet, I’m so much closer!

Here are some of the recipes that caught my eye last week:

  • Pink Parsley posted a Spiced Chipotle Honey Chicken with Sweet Potatoes that sounds like a great one-pot, week night dinner.
  • Although I have never tried the “original”, Buttercream Barbie posted a copy cat recipe of Starbucks Classic Coffee Cake that looks like a great breakfast treat with a cup of coffee.
  • It seems I can’t break away from the peanut butter chocolate combination. Handle the heat posted Rich Chocolate Peanut Butter Squares that look irresistible.
  • Smells like Home posted homemade Pizza Bites, which I have seen before and finally have the itch to try it myself. The homemade version looks ten times better than the pizza rolls from the store.

Friday, January 7, 2011

German Chocolate Cake



Since meeting my husband’s family I have always heard good things about his Granny’s German Chocolate Cake. She would make it during the holidays and every just raves about how good it was. I was never able to meet his Granny and I don’t know that we were able to find her secret recipe, but I thought I would surprise my Father-in-law over the Holidays by having this dessert on our menu. He was pleasantly surprised to see it on the dessert table and we all were pleased with the results. The cake has a simple rum glaze that coats each layer of the cake, helping the cake say nice and moist. The chocolate around the outside gives the cake a decadent and rich addition, while the traditional coconut and pecan filling coats each layer completing the flavor components you expect in a German Chocolate cake. Overall, the cake was delicious and perfect for a special occasion.

German Chocolate Cake

For the Cake:

2 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped

2 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped

6 tablespoons water

4 large eggs, separated

16 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 1/2 cups sugar, divided

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Rum Syrup:

1 cup water

3/4 cup sugar

2 tablespoons dark rum

For the Filling:

1 cup heavy cream

1 cup sugar

3 large egg yolks

6 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup pecans, toasted and finely chopped

1 1/3 cups toasted coconut, packed

For the Icing:

8 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped

2 tablespoons light corn syrup

3 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 cup heavy cream

To Make the Cake:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two nine inch round cake pans with parchment paper. Butter and flour the sides of the pans; set aside.

Using a double boiler, melt the bittersweet or semisweet and unsweetened chocolate with the water, stirring until smooth. Set aside until the mixture cools to room temperature.

In the clean, dry bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on high speed until they form soft droopy peaks. Slowly add 1/4 cup of the sugar and continue beating until soft peaks form. Transfer the egg whites to a separate bowl and return the mixer bowl to the mixer base.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter with 1 1/4 cups of the sugar. Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in the melted chocolate. Mix in the egg yolks one at a time, scraping down the bowl as needed.

In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix half of the dry ingredients into the butter mixture on low speed just until incorporated. Mix in the buttermilk and vanilla extract until combined. Mix in the remaining dry ingredients just until incorporated. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold about a third of the egg whites into the batter to lighten it. Then fold in the remaining egg whites just until incorporated.

Divide the batter between the prepared cake pans and bake in the preheated oven for about 45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in the cake pans for 10 minutes, then remove from the pans and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To Make the Rum Syrup:

Combine the water and sugar in a small saucepan over medium-high heat and heat until the sugar is dissolved, stirring occasionally. Turn off the heat and stir in the rum.

To Make the Filling:

Combine the cream, sugar, and egg yolks in a medium saucepan. Put the butter, pecans, and coconut in a mixing bowl; set aside. Heat the cream mixture and cook. stirring constantly and scraping the bottom until the mixture begins to thicken and coats the back of a spoon (170 to 175 degrees). Pour the hot custard immediately into the pecan coconut mixture and stir until the butter is melted. Cool completely to room temperature. The mixture will thicken as it cools.

To Make the Icing:

Place the chopped chocolate in a bowl with the corn syrup and butter. Heat the cream just until it begins to boil. Remove from the heat and pour over the chocolate. Let stand for one minute, then stir until smooth. Chill thoroughly in the refrigerator or freezer until firm enough for decorating.

To Assemble the Cake:

Cur the two cake layers in half horizontally to yield four layers. Set the first layer on a cake circle, cut side up. Brush well with rum syrup. Spread 3/4 cup of the coconut filling over the cake layer, making sure to reach the edges. Set another cake layer on top of the filling. Repeat, using the syrup to brush each cake layer, then spreading 3/4 cup of the coconut filling over each layer, including the top. Ice the sides of the cake with the chilled chocolate icing. Pipe a decorative border around the top, encircling the coconut topping.

Source: Annie’s Eats, originally adapted from David Lebovitz

One Year Ago Today: Penne a la Betsy

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Pasta e Fagioli



Someone once told me you could eat all the soup you wanted and it doesn’t count. I’m not sure how accurate of a statement that is, but soup does seem like a lighter dinner after all the holiday eating. I’m always looking to expand on soup recipes and I knew this soup would be different from others I normally make. The soup is loaded with beans, veggies, Italian sausage, and pasta. The ingredients can be adapted based on preference. Beef can be substituted for sausage and other vegetables, like celery, can be added in. If you are serving a crowd, this is the perfect soup. I used my cast iron Dutch oven and it was filled to the brim! Leftovers can be used for lunches during the week or frozen for a quick meal later.

Pasta e Fagioli

2 tablespoons butter, divided

1 pound sweet Italian sausage, casings remove

1/2 large (or 1 medium) onion, finely chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced

4 carrots, thinly sliced

28 oz can diced tomatoes

1 can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 can white cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

64 oz. beef broth

28 oz can tomato sauce

2 teaspoons dried parsley

1/2 teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon salt

4 oz small dry pasta (such as ditalini)

Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large stockpot over medium high heat, and brown the sausage, crumbling it as it cooks. Once brown, remove sauce from pot with a slotted spoon and discard any grease that remains in the pot.

Melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter in the same pot. Add the onion, garlic, and carrot. Sauté over medium heat until vegetables are soft, about 8 minutes. Add sausage back to the pot, add the can of diced tomatoes (do not drain), stir briefly, and simmer for 10 minutes.

Stir in the beans, beef broth, and tomato sauce. Add in all the seasonings and stir well. Turn the heat to high and bring the soup to a boil. Once it boils, turn down to low heat, cover, and simmer for at least 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to package directions. Add pasta to soup right before serving.

Source adapted from: Brown Eyed Baker

One Year Ago Today: Banana’s Foster

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Spinach Artichoke Dip



Growing up there was a certain restaurant that my family loved to eat at. We would always have a somewhat “heated” discussion about whether to order their queso appetizer (my favorite) or their spinach artichoke appetizer (my brother’s favorite). At any other resultant I would have been happy to have spinach artichoke dip, after all, it is probably the only way to get me to eat spinach or artichokes! This recipe is super quick and easy. I served several appetizers on New Years Eve and I was happy to have an appetizer that required no baking and virtually no cooking time. The dip can be served with chips, or my personal preference, with breadsticks. It is creamy with a hint of spice with the red pepper flakes. For those that prefer a more baked dip, you can sprinkle more parmesan cheese on top and place under the broiler until brown and bubbly.

Spinach Artichoke Dip

1 cup thawed, chopped frozen spinach

1 1/2 cups thawed, chopped frozen artichoke hearts

6 oz cream cheese

1/4 cup sour cream

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1/3 cup Parmesan cheese

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Boil spinach and artichokes in 1 cup of water tender and drain. Discard liquid. Heat cream cheese in microwave for 1 minute or until hot and soft. Stir in rest of ingredients and serve hot.

Source: Food Network/Alton-Brown

One Year Ago Today: Chicken and Mushroom Pockets

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Garlic and Herb Prime Rib Roast



Happy 2011! This year we decided to go a little non-traditional and celebrated New Year’s day with prime rib. My husband’s family loves a good steak, so prime rib is a definite special occasion dinner. For me, I’m not as big on steaks or red meat, so it’s hard for me to get excited about seeing such a large portion of meat on the table! That being said, even I can appreciate such a good cut of meat occasionally for dinner. The rub placed on the roast gave the meat a nice crust and provided the aromatics during the cooking process. The meat was tender and juicy, perfect for our New Year’s celebration!

Garlic and Herb Prime Rib Roast

10 pound prime rib roast (bone-in), room temperature

2 tablespoons fresh thyme, minced

2 tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced

2 tablespoons fresh oregano, minced

2 tablespoons fresh minced garlic

2 tablespoons kosher salt

2 tablespoons fresh ground pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

While the oven is preheating, prep the prime rib by trimming any extra fat off.

Combine the minced herbs, garlic, salt and pepper in a bowl. Rub this mixture all over the rib roast. Drizzle the herb rubbed roast with the olive oil and place on a v-rack set in a roasting pan. Place a meat thermometer into the center of the roast.

Bake the roast uncovered in the preheated oven for approximately 2 1/2 to 3 hours, or until a meat thermometer reaches 110 degrees.

Remove roast from oven and rest at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes before carving.

Source adapted from: Joelen’s Culinary Adventures

Monday, January 3, 2011

Starred Recipes Recap


Last week I enjoyed having the whole week off from work to relax. Today I am a bit sad to have to return to work after such a relaxing time off. This is one of my favorite times of the year for reading some of my favorite blogs. All the recaps on the favorite foods of 2010 have reminded me of foods I want to try and also a few new recipes that I missed. Here a few that caught my eye last week:

  • Simply Recipes posted African Chicken Peanut Stew that has many of my favorite ingredients: ginger, sweet potatoes, peanut butter, cilantro, making it a hearty stew perfect for this time of year.
  • One of our favorite pizza restaurants in town makes a delicious and spicy Buffalo Chicken Pizza. Smells Like Home posted a homemade version that looks to be just as good.
  • One thing Santa brought me for Christmas was a pasta machine. I am really excited to start making fresh pasta. First on my list to try is ravioli. Shutterbean posted Homemade Cheese Ravioli that looks delicious and can easily be frozen for later.
  • Ever since watching a Throwdown with Bobby Flay, I have been wanting to make Chicken Tikka Masala. Sweet Pea’s Kitchen posted a recipe for it this week that reminded me of how much I wanted to try it.