Wednesday, December 29, 2010

White Fish Tacos

fish tacos

Posted by: Maggie

So, is anyone else desperately in need of some light and healthy food after Christmas?

I could not bear to eat one more heavy, fried, or cheese-laden meal, and decided these white fish tacos from Annie's Eats would satisfy my desire for something healthy, yet flavorful.

These tacos were a cinch to put together.  All you do is whip up a quick marinade for the fish, and while it's soaking up the marinade you make a cilantro cream sauce (that I may have consumed half of with a spoon) and chop some veggies.

One of my favorite DC restaurants, Ceiba, has fish tacos on their happy hour menu that I crave at least once a week.  These aren't quite the same - Ceiba's fish is breaded, and they serve the tacos with an unidentifiable but delicious sauce, but I'm glad I can make something comparable at home now!

P.S. This is the first food photo I've taken with my new Canon Rebel XS! I'm bummed that I had no daylight when I took the photo, but I think the clarity is pretty good, huh? I have no morning light in my apartment, and when I get home from work it's already dark out.  I can't wait to make something on the weekend to see how the camera does when I'm able to take pictures with natural light. 

Here is what you will need:

For the fish...
2 T freshly squeezed lime juice
3 T Extra virgin olive oil, divided
3 T minced cilantro
1/4 t cumin
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 6 oz halibut fillets (make sure to remove any pin bones!)
Salt


For the sauce...
Juice of 1 lime
2 T minced cilantro
6 oz non-fat Greek yogurt
1 clove garlic, minced
Pepper, to taste


For topping and serving...
Chopped tomatoes
Shredded purple cabbage
Green onions (I ended up not using these since the ones I picked up weren't in great condition.  The original recipe calls for them however, and I think they would add a nice pop of color.  I added some extra cilantro on top instead.)
Small flour tortillas

Mix together the lime juice, 2 T of the oil, cilantro, cumin, and garlic in a shallow dish.  Whisk together until well blended.  Place the fish in the marinade, and turn evenly coat.  Let marinate 15-30 minutes.

While the fish is marinating, prepare the cilantro cream sauce.  Mix together the lime, cilantro, yogurt, garlic, and pepper, and chill it in the fridge until you're ready to use it.

Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a large frying pan.  Place the fish in the pan, and cook without disturbing for 3 minutes.  Carefully flip the fish, and cook for another 2-3 minutes.  Remove to a plate, season with salt, and let the fish rest for 3 minutes.  Shred the fish into bite-sized pieces with two forks.

Assemble the fish, cilantro cream sauce, and toppings in flour tortillas.  I got two large tacos out of this recipe (my tortillas were probably about 8 inches across.)

Source

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas 2010 and Spinach Artichoke Dip

Posted by: Maggie

Hello everyone! I hope you all enjoyed your Christmas (or Saturday to those of you who don't celebrate.) I went up to New Jersey Wednesday night to visit my family and just got back this afternoon.   My last three visits up to Jersey have been rushed and/or stressful (boyfriend meeting the parents anyone??) so it was nice to have a calm, relaxing visit for once.

I managed to escape work a bit early on Wednesday, and headed over to Union Station to catch an early train home.  While I waited, I wandered around and looked at the Christmas decorations.  I used to live a few blocks from Union Station and it always drove me crazy when people would stop and gawk, and photograph everything when I was walking through there just trying to get to work.  Just a couple years later I've become one of them!

Now that I'm not rushing through on a daily commute, I get it.  How could you not stop and take pictures in a place as gorgeous as this? 

union station christmas tree


Annie, Emma (our non-blogging sister), and I spent Christmas Eve at our Mom's house.  We've always done fun finger food and appetizers on Christmas Eve instead of having a formal sit down meal.  This year we had baked brie in puff pastry, buffalo wings, shrimp and grits, and spinach dip.  I'm a huge fan of appetizers, so this is pretty much the perfect kind of meal for me. 

I made the spinach dip (recipe below), but my Mom cooked the rest of the food.  While she cooked, we decided to take a few photos in front of the tree...


I wish I smiled for this photo...I'm really quite surly in pictures sometimes.

ugly christmas sweater
Annie and Emma...Emma found out the day before Christmas Eve that she got accepted into her first choice college for Fall 2011!  Congratulations Emma!

orange cat

And last but not least, A Bitchin' Kitten.  This is Pumpkin, who is clearly tuckered out from playing with the "seagull on a string" toy I bought him for Christmas.  

We chowed down on appetizers throughout the day including this shrimp and grits recipe that my Mom served in a martini glass.  I believe she got the recipe from Paula Deen, and I highly recommend it.


We also put a big dent in this spinach dip.  Unlike most spinach-artichoke dip recipes, it's done on the stovetop instead of in the oven.  I like it better that way, because it doesn't get the hard crispy top that makes dipping bread or chips so annoying.  It makes about 7 cups of dip (what you see below is a very, very small amount of the whole batch). 


spinach dip

1/4 cup salted butter
2 (10 oz) packages frozen chopped spinach, partially thawed
1 (14 oz) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
2 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 - 2 (16 oz) containers sour cream*
1 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese (I recommend shredding your own or buying a tub of the pre-shredded kind versus using the stuff in the canister.  It will melt much better.)
Garlic salt, to taste

Melt the butter in a large deep pan over medium heat.  Stir in the spinach and artichoke hearts, and cook for about 5 minutes.  Mix in the cream cheese and sour cream until combined.  Stir in the parmesan cheese and garlic salt.  Continue cooking for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally until thickened.  Transfer to a slow cooker, and keep it on the warm setting, if desired.

*I would use 2 if you plan to keep the dip warm in a slow cooker like I did.  I only used 1 1/2 and the dip got super thick.  If you plan to serve it right away 1 1/2 would be perfect.

* * *

On Christmas Day, Annie, Emma and I went over to my Dad's place.  We went to church in the morning, and came back and had cinnamon rolls and fruit salad for breakfast.  We opened presents right after, and imagine my surprise and excitement when my first one from my Dad contained this:


Yes, that is the Canon Rebel XS.

My current camera is the Canon PowerShot a1000IS.  It has been a reliable little camera for about a year and a half now, but it's really not cut out for food blogging, or the type of photography I'd like to learn to do well.  Plus, I dropped it on my birthday back in April (things seem to slip from my fingers much more easily after a few beers), and it has an entire chunk broken off the lense.  I'm really quite astonished it's made it through the past 8 months at all. 

I spent the rest of Christmas Day taking pictures of random objects around my Dad's, and can't wait to photograph some new recipes with it!  I plan to take a class to learn about all the features, but if anyone has beginner tips feel free to leave them in the comments!

For dinner, my Dad made chicken parmesan.  I actually got the recipe we have for it on our blog from him.

I better wrap this up before it morphs into the worlds longest post.  I hope you all enjoyed your Christmas as much as I did!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!


Posted by: Maggie and Annie

Have a Merry Christmas everyone!  We'll be back after the holiday with new recipes!

(And yes, Annie is dressed as Ralphie from A Christmas Story, not the Easter bunny)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Double Chocolate M&M Cookies


Posted by: Maggie

Once in awhile you come across a recipe so perfect that you want to run and tell everybody - your friends, your coworkers, the singing homeless man on the street corner...but then you remember that most of them don't care about the intricacies of baking, and their eyes glaze over when you talk about it, and so you come here to rave about the recipe and become very glad that there are like minded individuals on the interwebs.


So, as I was saying, this is the perfect double chocolate cookie recipe.  Not only were the cookies about half an inch thick each, there is chocolate in four formats - powder, baking bars, chips, and candy.  If that alone doesn't win you over, I don't know what will.

This recipe probably makes about 30 large cookies.  I wrapped half the dough tightly in plastic wrap and stuck it in the fridge to make more for my weekend guests.  Co-blogger Annie and her boyfriend Scott are coming to DC! I'm in an adult kickball league here, and we're doing a Christmas themed bar crawl on Saturday that is usually once of the most fun days of the year, so they decided to come down from Phily to attend with Jeff and I.  People dress up as various Christmas related characters or in ugly Christmas sweaters.  Last year my boyfriend was Cousin Eddie from Christmas vacation, sans metal plate:



Here's what you'll need:

2 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
16 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
10 tablespoons (1 ¼ sticks) butter, softened to room temperature
1 ½ cups packed light brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup M&Ms
Extra M&Ms for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and adjust oven racks to upper- and lower-middle positions.

Whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.

On 50% power, melt the chocolate in the microwave for 2 minutes.  Stir, and continue to microwave at 50% power for 20 second intervals until completely melted.

In a small bowl, beat the eggs and vanilla lightly with a fork and set aside. Beat the butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy, for about 10 seconds.  Beat in the brown and white sugars until combined.  The mixture will look grainy - this is normal! Reduce the speed to low, and gradually beat in the egg/vanilla mixture until thoroughly incorporated, about 45 seconds.  Add the chocolate in a steady stream and beat until combined, about 45 more seconds.  Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. 

With the mixer at low speed, gradually add in the flour and mix until just combined.  Lastly, stir in chocolate chips and M&Ms. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature until the consistency is fudge-like, about 30 minutes. (I don't really know what this accomplishes, but the directions said to do it and my cookies were amazing.  Anyone know why?)

While your cookie dough is hanging out, line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a silpat (this is a must).  After dough has "rested" roll into 1 1/2 inch balls and place 1 1/2 inches apart on baking sheet.  Slightly press down on dough ball and press a few extra M&Ms on top for decoration. 

Bake until the edges of the cookies have just begun to set but the centers are still very soft, about 9-10 minutes, rotating the baking sheets from top to bottom halfway through the baking time. Cool the cookies on the sheets about 5 minutes or until set and transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Source

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Frosted Sugar Cookies, again


Posted by: Maggie

Some of you may remember these sugar cookies that I posted back in February.  For such a simple recipe, it was a major hit among my friends and I had a request to make them again.  I happily obliged with the Christmas version shown above.  Seriously, if you ever need a cookie to impress people, make these.  Even unfrosted they're phenomenal.  It is the moistest, most buttery tasting sugar cookie I've ever had.  If you frost them however, puh-lease take the advice I wrote in the original post and make them the night before you plan to serve them.  They taste way better after the frosting has had a chance to sit a day. 

I'm not going to re-type the recipe since it's already on here, but I wanted to share it again since we had about 5 readers back then (who we are supremely grateful for), but it may have gotten lost in the archives for our more recent visitors (who we also love!) Give it a try this Christmas...your friends and taste buds will thank you.  Your pants however, will not.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Peppermint Chocolate Cookies


Posted by: Annie

These cookies really helped me become fully in the Christmas spirit. I initially made a peppermint frosting for these cookies, however I was not a fan, and could not bring myself to frost these delicious chocolate cookies with a frosting that I could not even stomach. So I instead made a vanilla frosting and topped each cookie with crushed candy canes. The festive cookies plus the fact that the Christmas episode of Glee playing in the background really helped me get in the spirit! (Original recipe found here)

What You Will Need:

1 stick softened butter
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt
1 egg
1 bag (11.5oz) semi-sweet chocolate chips (melted)
1 cup flour
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Beat butter in a large bowl until creamy. Stir in sugar, vanilla and salt. Mix until combined and beat in egg and melted chocolate chips. Stir in flour until combined. Lastly, mix in chocolate chips.  Drop dough by teaspoons onto un-greased cookie sheets. Flatten each cookie with the bottom of a glass that has been coated with sugar. Bake for 8 minutes or until set. Cool on cookie sheets for approximately one minute and transfer to wire racks. Cool completely before frosting. 

Vanilla Frosting:
1/2 stick butter (softened)
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2-3 Tbsp milk

Beat butter in a large bowl until creamy. Beat in sugar, vanilla, and milk. Add more milk or more sugar based upon the frosting's consistency. I found that I had to add more sugar, because it was initially too thin when I poured it into my piping bag. Iced cooled chocolate cookies, and top with crushed candy canes or peppermints.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Chicken and Broccoli Pasta with White Wine Sauce


Posted by: Annie

Can you tell I love chicken, especially when it is served over pasta? The other day I realized that since I moved to Philadelphia and started to always make my own meals, I have yet to buy/eat red meat! I have strictly been eating chicken and the occasional seafood dish! I really must start branching out my meat selections! Anyway, this dish was easy and quick but tasted like it took hours! (Original Recipe found here)

What You Will Need:

1/2 pound boneless skinless chicken breast cut into bite-sized cubes, seasoned with salt and pepper
1/4 cup Italian breadcrumbs
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, plus extra for topping
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 cups cooked broccoli florets
1 package whole wheat angel hair pasta

White Wine Sauce:
4 cloves minced garlic
1 cup white wine
2 cups chicken stock
1 tsp crushed red pepper
4 tbsp butter (divided)
1.5 tsp Kosher salt

In a large zip-lock bag combine chicken, breadcrumbs and cheese and shake to coat chicken. Heat olive oil in a large skillet and add chicken. Brown on all sides until thoroughly cooked and remove from heat. 

Cook angel hair according to package directions. Set aside.
Mix broccoli, chicken and pasta. Cover and set aside.

In a small saucepan mix garlic, wine and broth and bring to a boil. Heat until reduced by half and whisk in butter 1 tablespoon at a time. Add salt and red pepper. Toss with pasta and top with Parmesan cheese.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Gingerbread Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting


Posted by: Maggie

I can't believe Thanksgiving was 10 days ago and I'm just finally putting up a Christmas recipe now!  Christmas is hands down my favorite time of the year.  I love the cold weather, pretty decorations, holiday baking, and everything else that goes along with the month of December.

Not to mention the Christmas music.  Thank goodness I live alone because I have listened to nothing but Christmas songs for the past week:


I made these on Friday before Jeff came over since he's always willing to be a guinea pig for my cooking.  It's Saturday afternoon as I write this and he's had 3 so far, so I think he approves!  They are moist and extremely flavorful - I will definitely be making this again.    

Jeff wanted me to take the cupcake picture in front of the Christmas tree instead of in front of my sunroom window.  My camera is a piece of junk so I try and take pics over there and at least get decent lighting, but I decided to take his suggestion as well.  It turned out dark and blurry, but purty! 


I adapted this recipe from Baked by Rachel.  I discovered her blog on Tastespotting when looking for a gingerbread cupcake recipe, and liked the look of her recipe best.  She topped hers with mini-gingerbread men which is a super cute alternative to sprinkles! The cinnamon cream cheese frosting comes from the site My Baking Addiction.  The recipe makes a LOT of frosting (I have about 2 cups leftover in my fridge and I frost my cupcakes very heavily).  You may want to cut it in half if you frost your cupcakes lighter and don't have a purpose for leftover frosting.

Here is what you will need:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup molasses
1 egg
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cloves

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees, and line a cupcake pan with paper liners.  In a medium sized bowl, cream together your softened butter and sugar.  Add in flour, water, and molasses.  Mix well until combined, and add in egg, baking soda, and spices.  Continue to mix until just combined. 

Using a large cookie scoop, evenly fill your cupcake pan.  Don't worry if they don't look very full - these cupcakes rise quite a bit.  

Bake in preheated oven for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean or with just a few crumbs.  Let cool completely before frosting.  Makes 12 cupcakes. 

Frosting recipe:

2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
1 stick butter, softened
2 lbs (2 boxes) confectioners sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 t vanilla extract

Cream butter and cream cheese together in an electric mixer until well combined.  Gradually add in the sugar until fully incorporated.  Finally mix in cinnamon and vanilla.  I used a Wilton 1M tip to frost these.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

White Sausage Gravy


Posted by: Maggie

Last weekend when I was home for Thanksgiving, my mom made a delicious post-Thanksgiving brunch that included biscuits and sausage gravy.  The first time I ever attempted to make sausage gravy (before this blog ever started) it didn't turn out well.  I was inspired to attempt it again though, and I'm pleased to say that it turned out awesome.  

I used canned biscuits (Pillsbury I think...the can is already in the trash and I'm not going digging :) )

Here's what you'll need for the gravy:

1 12 ounce tube pork sausage
3 T unsalted butter (optional)
2 T all-purpose flour
2 cups whole milk
Salt and pepper

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add the sausage, break up with a spoon, and cook for about 7 minutes or well browned and cooked through, stirring occasionally.

Transfer the sausage to a bowl using a slotted spoon, leaving the fat in the skillet.

The sausage I used did not render enough fat to make the gravy, so I melted 3 T of butter in the skillet before continuing with the gravy.

Add flour to fat/butter and cook for about 1 minute, whisking constantly. While whisking, pour the milk into the skillet and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat and simmer gently for about 2 minutes. Stir in the sausage and season with salt and pepper.

Serve over biscuits immediately. This makes enough to generously top 4 biscuits.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Peanut Butter Toffee Cookies


Posted by: Annie

Let me start off by being completely honest- I did not like these cookies when they came out of the oven. In fact, I came close to throwing them out. The cookies were much smaller than I had anticipated, were falling apart and quite frankly I was not impressed with the taste. I was cursing Martha Stewart up and down for these crumbly monsters. However, something magical happened to these cookies upon cooling, and in the end they were rich and savory and were a major hit with the roomies, co-workers, and yes, after much aggravation even me. Original recipe can be found here. 

What you will need:

3/4 flour (plus extra for your fingertips)
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
4 tbsp unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter (I think next time I definitely want to try crunchy for even more texture)
1 large egg
1 cup heath milk chocolate toffee bits (found in the baking aisle with the chocolate chips)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium  bowl whisk together flour, baking soda and salt. In a separate larger bowl use an electric mixer to blend butter and sugar until fluffy. Add in peanut butter and egg and mix until smooth. With the electric mixer on a low setting gradually add in the flour mixture until thoroughly blended. Stir in toffee pieces. 

Drop by rounded tablespoon onto baking sheets, and using floured fingertips press lightly on each cookie. Bake 16-18 minutes until the edges are golden brown. Remove cookies from the pan immediately and place on cooling rack.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Chicken with Sundried Tomatoes and Goat Cheese


Posted by: Annie

The first time I had goat cheese was with my friend Aimee. In Jersey there is this awesome salad place that Aimee and I often frequented, and she always would ask for goat cheese on her salad. On one of our many trips I finally mustered up the courage to try a piece and to my surprise it was delicious! I am not sure why I was so hesitant about eating goat cheese (I really love and eat all cheese), but ever since then I really wanted to make a recipe that incorporated its creamy goodness. I made this recipe for myself and my roommate and served it over whole wheat farfalle. The original recipe can be found here.

What you will need: 
 
2 chicken breasts pounded thin, cut into medium sized strips
1 T olive oil
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 T sun-dried tomatoes, julienne (don't forget to drain if they come in oil!)
2 oz goat cheese
salt and pepper
3 cups whole wheat farfalle

Cook farfalle according to package directions and drain.  Set aside. 

Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Heat oil over medium high heat and add the chicken breasts. Cook approximately six- eight minutes per side depending on thickness. (I pounded my chicken very thin so mine were ready in about six minutes per side). Remove from pan and cover with foil to keep warm. 

Using the same skillet add wine and cook over medium high heat until the wine is reduced by about half. Stir in chicken broth and heat until the liquid is reduced by about half. Mix in sun-dried tomatoes and heat thoroughly. Remove from heat and stir in goat cheese until it is melted and creamy. Stir in the chicken breasts and serve over pasta.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge




Posted by: Maggie

Fudge is one of those desserts that has always scared me.  All that candy thermometer/soft ball nonsense, plus the very high probability that one misstep will result in a ruined dessert and wasted ingredients, has caused me to never attempt fudge making before.


When I saw this super easy recipe on How Sweet It Is I knew my fear of fudge would soon be but a distant memory. Not only does this recipe not require a candy thermometer, it is cooked in the microwave and comes together in 3 minutes flat.


I'm bringing this into work later today - I hope my coworkers like it as much as I do! (For those of who noticed the time this was posted, yeah, yeah, I get to work insanely late.  I'm sooo not a morning person and am insanely lucky to have a flexible schedule.)

If you're planning on doing any kind of Christmas dessert platter this year, this would be a great addition to it - I always associate fudge with Christmas for some reason. 

Here's what you'll need:

1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
1/2 cup sweetened, condensed milk
1/4 cup peanut butter
1 T water

Combine all ingredients in a microwave safe bowl, and nuke for 30 seconds on full power.  Stir, and microwave for 30 more seconds.  Mixture will probably be smooth at this point, but if it's not continue microwaving in 30 second increments until it is.  Pour mixture into a foil lined 8-inch square baking dish, and refrigerate until solid.  Mine took about 60 minutes to be hard enough to cut.

12/20/12 [UPDATE]: I now make this in an 8x4 loaf pan to get thicker fudge. You may need to refrigerate it a bit longer. The photo shows fudge made in an 8x8 pan. 

Makes 16 pieces


Source

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Turkey and Brie Sandwich


Posted by: Maggie

This sandwich barely even merits a post, but I thought I'd add it in case you're looking for a different way to finish up the last of your Thanksgiving turkey.   It was delicious, and half of it made for a very filling Saturday night dinner.  I think that if you wanted a sweeter twist on this sandwich, omitting the honey mustard and spreading the bread with leftover cranberry sauce would be fabulous as well.

What you'll need for one very large sandwich:

1 demi-baguette
Honey Mustard dressing (I'm a big fan of the Ken's brand)
Leftover turkey
Several slices brie
Salt and pepper

Cut the baguette in half lengthwise, and spread with a thin layer of honey mustard.  Layer the turkey and brie, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and top with the other baguette half.  Open mouth wide, and try not to eat the entire scrumptious thing.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010


Posted by: Maggie

Happy belated Thanksgiving everyone! I hope you all stuffed yourselves silly with delicious food and had a great time with whoever you spent the day with.


Annie and I (and our 18 year old sister Emma) spent Thursday at our Dad's place where we had a traditional dinner of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, cornbread casserole, sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, cranberries, rolls, and "heavenly hash." For those of you not familiar with heavenly hash, it's what some families call "ambrosia." To me, that just sounds like a cleaning product, so I prefer the alternate name.  It's basically a combination of sour cream, whipped cream, marshmallows, pineapple, and shredded coconut.  It's awesome, trust me.

Annie made pumpkin pie bars for dessert, and I made the cornbread casserole and sweet potatoes.  Unfortunately, in our eagerness to sit down to dinner I quickly snapped what turned out to be very poor photos of both those dishes.  I'll probably make both of those recipes again this winter, so I'll wait to post them when I have a decent photo. 

Friday morning we had a delicious brunch at my Mom's place.  She made baked french toast, bacon, potatoes, biscuits and sausage gravy, egg casserole (it was almost like a quiche but without crust), and an amazing cranberry coffee cake.  I'm a huge fan of breakfast food so this was right up my alley.  It was my Mom's first time making sausage gravy and it turned out awesome.  After I recover from the two massive meals I ate on Thursday and Friday I'll definitely be getting the recipe to make for Jeff and post it here! 

Also, since no good brunch is complete without cocktails, we had bloody mary's and mimosas.  No, I was not drinking both of these at once...how dare you suggest such a thing.  *Ahem*


 I hope you all enjoy the rest of your holiday weekend!  Check back soon for new recipes!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies


Posted by: Maggie

Mmmm...is there anything more delicious than the chocolate and peanut butter combination? Peanut butter is quickly catching up with A Bitchin' Kitchen's other favorite ingredient - pumpkin.  (See here, here, here, and here.)

I've made these cookies many times before, but when I baked them last week for coworkers it was my first chance to photograph and blog about them.  I got the recipe from Smitten Kitchen, and it's originally found in the Magnolia Bakery cookbook.  I first heard about Magnolia Bakery from the Sex and the City episode where Miranda and Carrie go there for cupcakes (probably the same time the rest of the show's non-Manhattanite fans heard about it.)



Honestly, I haven't heard the most positive reviews of their cupcakes, but their peanut butter cookie recipe is awesome.  I know whenever my most health conscious co-workers come back for thirds and fourths that I dun-good.

There won't be a new post tomorrow since Annie and I will both be traveling to New Jersey for Thanksgiving.  We're going to be making some Thanksgiving side dishes together, and will be blogging about it when we're back!  Happy Thanksgiving everyone! 

Here's what you'll need:

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup peanut butter at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup peanut butter chips
1/2 cup mini-chocolate chips

Extra sugar for sprinkling

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and line baking sheets with parchment.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the softened butter and peanut butter until fluffy.  Beat in the sugar until smooth.  Add in the egg and beat well.  Beat in the milk and vanilla extract.  Add the flour mixture in batches, and beat until fully incorporated. Stir in the peanut butter and chocolate chips.

Chill dough for 30-60 minutes.  After dough has chilled, roll into walnut sized balls, and roll around in the extra sugar.  Place on baking sheet, and using your finger or an offset spatula slightly flatten the top of each cookie.  Bake for about 8 minutes - the originally recipe said 10-12, but mine were done far before that.

Cool the cookies on the sheet for a minute, and transfer to wire racks to finish cooling.

Monday, November 22, 2010

How to Cook Roasted Asparagus

How to Cook Roasted Asparagus

Posted by: Maggie

I feel a little silly posting this recipe, but back when I first started to cook I seriously had no idea how to do very basic things in the kitchen.  When I tried to cook stuff for myself, I literally googled things like "how to bake a potato" and "how to hard boil an egg." If you haven't spent a lot of time in the kitchen, really how are you supposed to know how long and at what temperature to cook some simple items? 

Hopefully this will be useful to someone just beginning to cook, who is looking for a delicious and healthy way to prepare asparagus.  This would also make a great Thanksgiving side dish, to balance out some of the heavier sides like candied sweet potatoes and stuffing.

What you'll need:

1 bunch of asparagus (washed and dried thoroughly, with ends snapped off - bend the spear in the middle until it snaps easily, about 2-3 inches above bottom)
1-2 T extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Spread asparagus in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, and toss with your hands to coat.  Generously season with kosher salt and pepper, and stick in the oven for 10 minutes.

The spears are delicious served hot, or cold from the fridge.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies


Posted by: Annie

If you want to make new friends at work- MAKE THESE COOKIES! Or if you want someone to do something for you - MAKE THESE COOKIES. Or if you want a present- MAKE THESE COOKIES (they really really are THAT good), and totally worthy of the of caps lock usage. To quote my roommate Dana on her experience (eating the batter!), "It was so good I swear it like warmed up in my mouth."


And also, do I need to point out... they use one of A Bitchin' Kitchen's favorite ingredients- pumpkin! (original recipe found here- I played with the spices a bit because I did not have ginger, and I also used half chocolate chips and half butterscotch chips)

What you will need:
 
2 sticks butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup canned pumpkin
3 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup butterscotch chips
nonstick cooking spray

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
 
Spray cookie sheets with nonstick cooking spray. In a large bowl beat the butter until smooth. Add in the sugars, until the mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs 1 at a time, then add in the vanilla, and pumpkin. In another large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, and spices. Beat the flour mixture into the batter in thirds. Add in the chips. Scoop the cookie dough by tablespoons and bake for 15- 20 minutes. Cool on wire racks and then devour.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Roasted Vegetable Minestrone


Posted by: Annie

Another perfect dish for fall! This recipe was a hit with my roommates and we plan to devour the leftovers throughout this week as an easy weeknight meal.


What you will need:
2 whole zucchini (cubed)
2 whole butternut squash (cubed)
8 oz white mushrooms, stems removed and quartered
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt
2 additional tablespoons olive oil
2 whole carrots, sliced
1 medium onion diced
3 stalks celery, sliced (leave the leaves on!- say that three times fast)
8 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 can cannelini beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup fresh green beans (cut)
2 cups medium pasta shells (uncooked)
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes with juice
salt and pepper
Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.
In a large bowl mix together zucchini, squash, mushrooms and olive oil and a dash of salt. Spread out the vegetables on two baking sheets and roast in the oven for 5-10 minutes. (Remove when the veggies look brown and toasty!)

In a large pot heat the olive oil and add carrots, onions, celery and cook for three minutes. Add in the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for an additional ten minutes. Next, add in the cannelini and green beans. Cook on low for five minutes. Stir in the pasta and cook for another five minutes. Mix in the tomatoes and cook for another five minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add in the roasted vegetables at the end. Stir and bring the soup to a simmer. Ladle into dishes, top with Parmesan cheese and serve!

Source

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Bread


Posted by: Maggie

I have always adored peanut butter.  One of my earliest memories is standing on a chair mixing peanut butter and sugar in a bowl in my family's old house in Long Branch, NJ.  I wasn't cooking - I mainly just remember getting in trouble for making a mess.  Probably in my 4 year old brain I thought that peanut butter = good, peanut butter and sugar = more gooder.

Now that I'm 26, I no longer mix peanut butter and sugar, but I do enjoy peanut butter slathered on a banana quite frequently for breakfast.  This bread combines those amazing flavors, and just gets better with the addition of chocolate. 

This comes from Visions of Sugar Plum - one of my favorite sources for yummy and original recipes.

Here's what you'll need:

2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup mini-chocolate chips
1/3 cup peanut butter chips
2 very ripe medium bananas, mashed
3/4 creamy peanut butter (not the natural kind)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Butter and flour a 9-inch loaf pan - tap the pan over the sink to get rid of excess flour.

Stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.  Stir in chocolate and peanut butter chips to combine; set aside.

In a large bowl, beat together banana and peanut butter on medium speed until creamy.  Beat in sugars until creamy (about a minute), and beat in eggs and vanilla until combined.  Reduce the mixer speed to low, and beat in flour mixture, alternating with milk until well combined (about two minutes).

Add half the batter to a medium bowl, and beat in cocoa powder until combined.  Alternate spoonfuls of banana batter and chocolate batter into the prepared pan.  The original directions said to swirl a knife through the pan to marble the batters (I forgot to do this).  Sprinkle the top with additional peanut butter and chocolate chips, if desired.

Bake for 60-65 minutes or until bread pulls away from edges of pan, is risen and golden brown, and a toothpick inserted comes out with moist crumbs attached.

Cool on a rack for 1 hour, and remove from pan to cool completely prior to slicing.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Caramelized Onion Horseradish Dip


Posted by: Maggie

I have been wanting to make this dip from Vanilla Sugar's blog for quite a while now, but it kept getting pushed to the back burner for one reason or another.  Now, after devouring almost half the batch of dip I made, I could kick myself for putting it off this long.  I've always dipped my sweet potato fries in ketchup or mayonnaise, but neither of those on their own provided the exact taste I was looking for.  This dip is perfect, and best of all doesn't overpower the delicious taste of the fry itself. 

It was the perfect accompaniment to my lazy Sunday afternoon.  I made this dip in the morning, and after it had time to chill, I popped some Alexia's Spicy Sweet Potato Fries in the oven for 20 minutes,  and hunkered down with my delicious late lunch and the first Harry Potter movie for the next couple hours.

This dip is easily adapted to your own tastes - I made it with the amounts I've indicated below, and ended up adding about a tablespoon more each of mayo, sour cream, and horseradish.  I would have liked to include a larger quantity of the caramelized onions, but due to a burning incident I could only salvage one tablespoon of edible onions.  Feel free to add more!

Here's what you'll need:

1/2 cup mayo
1/2 cup sour cream
1 T horseradish
4 dashes of tabasco sauce
1/4 cup ketchup
1 T pureed caramelized onions
Cayenne pepper and chili powder to taste (I started with a few shakes of each and worked my way up from there)

Mix everything together and chill for at least 3 hours.  Serve with sweet potato fries, or cut up vegetables.

Adapted from: Vanilla Sugar

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies


Posted by: Maggie

I have a confession to make.

I really only developed an interest in cooking and baking when I moved into my own apartment back in March 2008, and had my very own kitchen to use as I saw fit.  Before that, I was all about cookie and brownie mixes, and pasta and jarred sauce for dinner.  Back in early 2007, I was at my first job out of college,  and I decided to bring in a treat for my coworkers one day.

I bought a couple pouches of oatmeal chocolate chip cookie mix, the kind where you just add an egg or two and vegetable oil, and raked in the compliments the next day at work as my coworkers devoured them.  As it tends to happen when someone bakes, early on that day one of the higher-ups at the office asked if the cookies were homemade.  I lied, "yes", and added "find a homemade recipe for oatmeal chocolate chip cookies" to my mental to-do list.

At that time, my main impetus to find a homemade recipe was in the event that I got asked for the recipe I used - I wanted to be prepared to back up my blatant lie.

Now, it's over three and a half years later, and I've finally actually made these suckers from scratch.

Here's what you will need:

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 t baking soda
1 1/4 c packed brown sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 T milk
2 t vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups oats
2 cups chocolate chunks (or chips)
1 cup walnuts

Preheat oven to 375 degrees, and line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl.  Beat the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar in a large bowl until creamy.  Add in eggs, milk, and vanilla until thoroughly combined. Gradually beat in flour mixture until just incorporated.  Stir in oats, chocolate, and nuts.

Chill dough for 30 minutes, and drop by rounded tablespoon onto cookie sheet.  Bake for 8 minutes, or until brown around the edges and slightly undercooked in the middle (they will continue to cook once out of the oven).  Let cool on baking sheets for one minute, and transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Adapted from: Very Best Baking

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Linguine with Shrimp Scampi


Posted by: Maggie

Remember the Beef Enchilada debacle where Jeff and I did not eat dinner until 8:50 p.m. one Friday evening? After that, I realized that I needed to have some more recipes in my arsenal with a quicker prep and cooking time, and save the more time consuming stuff for Saturdays and Sundays. I decided that Barefoot Contessa's Shrimp Scampi perfectly fit the bill, and was quite pleased with the results. 

Two reasons why I chose her recipe:

- Ina Garten's recipes always seem to get fabulous reviews on FoodNetwork.com (rightfully deserved)

- Her recipe didn't have wine in it (A lot of Shrimp Scampi recipes included wine, but Jeff isn't a fan, and I'd personally rather drink it than waste it on food.)

I served this with a big green salad that included red and orange peppers, red onion, cucumber, and croutons.  I love chopping vegetables, so this was way more fun for me than it probably should have been. I've been told it's uncouth to squirt blue cheese dressing directly into my mouth, so this was the perfect vehicle for eating it in a more ladylike fashion.

I also made some easy garlic bread, which I won't bother doing a separate post for.  Just slice up a loaf of Italian bread, and brush melted butter on one side.  Sprinkle with garlic salt, dried herbs of your choice (I think I used basil and oregano), and stick it under the broiler until brown.  There ya go, instant Texas Toast.  I love the frozen packaged kind as much as the next girl, but you can avoid some of the mystery ingredients if you do it yourself.

For dessert I picked up two mini cannoli from Whole Foods - not as good as the ones from Wegman's, but we still enjoyed them!

Here's what you'll need for the shrimp scampi:

Vegetable oil
1 T Salt, plus 1.5 t salt
3/4 lb linguine
3 T unsalted butter
2.5 T Olive Oil
1.5 T minced garlic (I used the jarred stuff, but if you have cloves it's about 4)
16-20 large shrimp, peeled, deveined, rinsed, and dried
1/4 t pepper
1/3 c chopped fresh parsley leaves
1/2 lemon, zest grated
1/4 c freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
1/8 t hot red pepper flakes
Extra olive oil
Parmesan cheese

In a large pot of boiling water, drizzle a small amount of vegetable oil, then add 1 T salt and the linguine.  Cook according to package directions.

Meanwhile in a large deep skillet, melt the butter and olive oil on medium-low heat.  Add the garlic and saute for 1 minute.  Add the shrimp, 1.5 teaspoons salt, and pepper, and saute for about 7 minutes, stirring frequently until shrimp are pink and opaque.  Remove from the heat and add the parsley, lemon zest, lemon juice, and red pepper flakes.  Toss to combine.

When pasta is done, drain the linguine and put it back in the pot.  Ina Garten's recipe didn't call for it, but I added about 1/3 cup of olive oil at this point because I didn't think the lemon butter sauce the shrimp cooked in would adequately coat the pasta.  You'll want to eyeball it to see if you need it - I prefer a more heavily sauced pasta. Add the shrimp and sauce and toss to combine. 

This was so good that Jeff and I ate almost all of it last night, but the original recipe says it serves 3.

Adapted from: FoodNetwork

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting


Posted by: Maggie

You didn't honestly thing we were done with pumpkin yet, did you? I'm pretty sure I've had this recipe from Smitten Kitchen bookmarked since she posted it almost two years ago, but I'm just getting around to making it now.


Jeff and I are having a very Halloween/fall themed weekend.  We plan to see Paranormal Activity 2, carve jack-o-lanterns, and go to a haunted forest.  The haunted forest doesn't allow children, so I'm hoping that means it's actually scary! I wanted to make a Halloween themed treat to go along with our fun, and when I gave Jeff the vote between these cupcakes and another Halloween recipe I have saved, he chose these.

A couple notes about the frosting...

 - It's very soft, even though I adjusted the ingredients as per suggestions on the original source of the recipe.  I was able to pipe it using a large round tip - I wouldn't suggest using a star tip since it doesn't hold its shape well.  After piping the frosting onto each individual cupcake I stuck them in the freezer for about 10 minutes to firm up.

- While delicious, I can't taste the maple flavor at all.  I think if I upped the amount of syrup that would make the frosting even less stable.  I wonder how maple extract would affect the flavor? If anyone tries it out let me know!

About the decorations...

- I bought an "Autumn Mix" from the grocery store that contained pumpkins and two colors of candy corn.  They need to sell those little pumpkins on their own - they're so cute for decorating if I do say so myself!

- They're not pictured because I unfortunately only had a couple minutes to photograph these before heading out the door, but I decorated some of them with a candied pecan half in place of the candy pumpkin.  When I first started cooking I was always really frustrated when recipes called for something like candied pecans, but didn't actually say how to do it.  It's not always obvious to new cooks! To make them, put 2 1/2 tablespoons of white sugar, and 1/2 cup pecan halves into a small skillet.  Stir constantly until the sugar caramelizes and coats the pecans.  The sugar will seem to melt suddenly - for about 5 minutes you'll just be pushing sugar around in a pan thinking it will never liquefy.

Here's what you'll need:

1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup firmly packed dark-brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk mixed with 1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cups canned solid-pack pumpkin
Candied pecans and Autumn Mix for decoration

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and line cupcake pans with 18 paper liners.

Using a mixer, beat the butter and sugars on medium for about 5 minutes, or until fluffy.  In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt.

Add the eggs one at a time to the butter mixture, scraping down the sides of the bowl as you go.  Alternate adding the flour and buttermilk/vanilla mixture, beginning and ending with the flour.  Beat in the pumpkin until smooth.

Fill cupcake liners about 3/4 full, and lightly rap the pans on the counter to release any air bubbles. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean - about 20-25 minutes. Cool on racks completely before frosting.

Frosting recipe:

12 oz (1.5 packages) cream cheese, softened
2 sticks unsalted butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 c maple syrup

Mix ingredients together on medium speed until fluffy. 

adapted from Smitten Kitchen and Leite's Culinaria

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Mexican Chicken Casserole


Posted by: Annie

I pretty much love anything that you can top with guacamole. Sometimes when I am in restaurants I actually order dishes based on whether or not they are served with a side of "guac". I made this dish because I really wanted to eat the guacamole that was sitting in my fridge calling my name. In retrospect, I realized I could have just enjoyed the guacamole with a handful of chips, however my obsession with the avocado goodness led me to cook and discover a new favorite - Mexican Chicken Casserole. I served up this Mexican inspired dish with loads of guacamole, sour cream, and salsa. 


What you will need:
1 cup fat-free, less sodium chicken broth
2 (4.5 oz) cans chopped green chiles
1 3/4 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup evaporated fat free milk
1 cup shredded Monterey jack cheese
1/4 cup light cream cheese
1 (10 oz) can enchilada sauce
12 (6 inch) tortillas
cooking spray
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 oz tortilla chips, crushed (about six chips)

Combine the chicken broth and one can of chiles in a large skillet. Bring to a boil. Add chicken, reduce the heat and simmer for approximately 15 minutes or until the chicken is thoroughly cooked. (flip the chicken once during this process) Remove the chicken from the broth and set aside the cooking liquid. Once the chicken cools, use two forks to shred the meat.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a large skillet heat oil over medium-high heat. Mix in the remaining can of chiles and the chopped onion. Saute until soft. Mix in the reserved cooking liquid, milk, Monterey jack, cream cheese, and enchilada sauce, stir well. Add in the shredded chicken and cook for an additional two minutes. Remove the mixture from heat.

Spray a 2-quart casserole dish with cooking spray. Layer four tortillas on the bottom of the dish and spoon 2 cups of the chicken mixture over the tortillas. Repeat this step two more times- the final layer will be the chicken mixture. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese and chips. Bake for thirty minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Cornbread


Posted by: Maggie

Delicious, moist, perfection.

What you'll need:

1/2 cup salted butter
2/3 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 t baking soda
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 t salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Grease an 8 inch square pan.

Melt butter in large skillet.  Remove from heat, and stir in sugar.  Dump into a medium bowl, and quickly add eggs, beating until well blended.  In a separate bowl, combine buttermilk with baking soda, and stir into butter mixture.  Stir in cornmeal, flour, and salt until well blended and few lumps remain.  Pour batter into the prepared pan.

Bake in the preheated oven for 30-40 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Mine had already started to get dark at the edges by 30 minutes, so keep an eye on it for burning. 

Source

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Black Bean Soup


Posted by: Maggie

A couple years ago for Christmas, my mom made me a recipe box as one of my gifts.  It included this simple and delicious black bean soup recipe that has become a staple in my kitchen.  Typically I'm not crazy about eating leftovers, but since soup is one of those rare foods that tastes better the second day, I'm sure I'll be getting a few lunches out of it this week.

I also mixed up some homemade cornbread and baked it while I was making the soup.  I mentioned last month that I'd baked a failure of a cornbread recipe, and needed to find a good one to make up for it.  I found an awesome recipe that I will be sharing tomorrow...get excited, it's that good.

Here's what you'll need for the soup:

2 T canola oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 T cumin
1/4 t red pepper flakes
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 (16 oz) cans black beans, undrained
1 can (14.5 oz) reduced sodium chicken broth
16 oz jar hot salsa 
2 T lime juice

Heat canola oil over medium heat in a large sauce pan. Cook onion until tender. Add in spices, and saute until fragrant. Add in garlic and saute for one additional minutes. Remove from heat.

In a blender or food processor, puree two cans of the beans, with liquid.  Stir into saucepan.  Stir in remaining beans, salsa, broth, and lime juice.  Heat mixture to a boil over medium to medium high heat, stirring frequently.  Reduce heat to low, and simmer 30 minutes.  Adjust seasonings to taste if desired.

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Thursday, October 14, 2010

Classic Hummus


Posted by: Maggie

Little known fact: the very person who posted this hot mess, and this yummyness, and this reason to go to the gym for eleventy billion hours straight, used to be a vegetarian.  I'm not going to tell the story of how and why I became a vegetarian, because although I have the utmost respect for people who can maintain that lifestyle, I would never wish a bacon-free fate upon anyone.  And, if I tell you the reasons that led me to my several year long, self-imposed hiatus from meat, you may become a vegetarian yourself.  They're that compelling.  Trust me.

Anyway, I may no longer eat sad cheese sandwiches for lunch, or claim that tofu hot dogs are as tasty as the real thing, but one food item has stuck with me since I first tried it as a difficult 16-year old vegetarian back in 2000.  Hummus.  I actually remember my mom bringing home what can only be described as a hummus and pita "snack pack", and falling in love with the delicious garlicky substance.  She was probably just trying to find a way for me to get protein from a food other than cheese, but she ended up introducing me to one of my favorite foods on the planet.

Up until last night, I never made hummus on my own.  But now that I've realized how simple it is (and paid $8 for a jar of tahini I'm determined to use up) I'll surely be making it again.  I see a red pepper, or an eggplant version on the horizon.

Now, onto the recipe.  Serve this with baby carrots, pita bread, or pita chips.  Or just dip your fist into the bowl and lick it off.

Here's what you'll need to yield approximately 2 cups:

3 T lemon juice
1/4 c water (plus more to thin out hummus to desired consistency)
6 T tahini, stirred well
2 T extra virgin olive oil
1 15 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1-2 minced garlic cloves (I used the minced, jarred garlic - about 1.5 t)
1/2 t salt
1/4 t cumin
pinch of cayenne pepper
Parsley, for garnish

Combine lemon juice and water in a small bowl.  In a separate small bowl, mix together tahini and oil.

Process chickpeas, garlic, salt, cumin and cayenne in food processor until almost fully ground, about 15 seconds.  Scrape the sides of the food processor bowl, and add lemon/water mixture.  Process for 1 minute.  Scrape the sides of the food processor bowl again, and add tahini/oil mixture.  Process for 15 seconds.  Give it a taste, and add more seasoning if needed, or water to thin to your desired consistency (I added about 3 extra tablespoons of water).  If you added more seasoning or water, continue to process until creamy.  

Transfer to a serving bowl, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to let the flavors meld.   

Adapted from Annie's Eats

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Spinach and Ricotta Rotini


Posted by: Maggie

This is a pasta dish that I make fairly regularly, but finally got around to photographing and writing up last night.  It's a great weeknight dish since it takes about 30 minutes total from start to finish.

I adapted the recipe from a Weight Watchers cookbook I've had for years.  The recipe says it serves 4, but it really serves 2 if your appetite is more hearty than that of a goldfish.  Don't let the fact that it's a Weight Watchers recipe deter you from trying it - it's quite flavorful, not to mention filling thanks to the fiber packed spinach and whole wheat pasta.  (No they're not paying me to say this, I just really love this pasta!)

Lastly, give the raisins a chance.  I thought they were going to be weird the first time I made this too, but they're very tasty.  According to the cookbook, spinach, ricotta, and raisins are a classic combination in Sicily and southern Italy.  I don't know anything about that, I'm just repeating what the cookbook tells me!

P.S.  Happy birthday to my fabulous sister and co-blogger Annie!!! It's been a delightful 23 years and I'm so proud to call you my sister and friend!

Weren't we cute?!


Now, back to the pasta...here's what you'll need:

2 T golden raisins
2 cups whole wheat rotini
1 (10 oz) box frozen chopped spinach
4 t olive oil
1/2 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1/4 t salt
1/4 c grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 c part-skim ricotta cheese
1/4 t pepper

In a small bowl, soak the raisins in hot water until soft and plumped, about 10 minutes.  Drain and discard water.

Cook the rotini according to package directions.  Drain and place in serving bowl.

Meanwhile, cook the spinach according to package directions (I did this in the microwave).  After it has completed cooking, drain and squeeze out the excess liquid.

In a medium nonstick skillet, heat the oil over medium heat.  Saute the onion until softened, about 2 minutes.  Reduce the heat and stir in the cooked spinach and salt.  Cook until wilted, about 3 minutes.  Add the spinach, raisins, Parmesan, and ricotta to the rotini.

Toss to combine, then sprinkle with the pepper.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Pumpkin Apple Bread


Posted by: Annie

Can you tell we love pumpkin on this blog? Here is another delicious fall recipe to add to our rapidly growing pumpkin recipe collection.  I split this recipe in half because we only have one bread pan at my house, and I did not feel like waiting in between loaves to clean up.  The recipe posted below is the original, and yields two loaves.

What you will need:

3 cups flour
2 t ground cinnamon (I doubled this)
2 t baking soda
1 1/2 t salt
3 cups granulated sugar
1 15 oz. can pumpkin puree
4 large eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
1/2 c apple juice or water (I used water and the apple flavor was still strong)
1 large baking apple, peeled, cored, and diced

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour two 9x5 inch loaf pans (I used Pam cooking spray meant for baking and it worked out perfectly)

Mix flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.  In a separate bowl, combine sugar, pumpkin, eggs, oil, and water/juice. Beat the ingredients until well blended. Mix the pumpkin mixture into the flour mixture until moistened.  Stir in the apples, and pour into prepared bread pans.

Bake for 65-70 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool in pans for 10 minutes.  Remove bread from pans, and continue to cool on wire racks.

Source

Monday, October 11, 2010

Asian Chicken Noodle Soup


Posted by: Annie

Finally the temperatures have started to drop and I can annoy people around me by loving the cold. I can also make soup. This soup was a major hit in my house. We are notorious for never eating our leftovers, but every drop of this soup was finished. Also, besides being delicious this soup is healthy!

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon bottled minced garlic
1 tablespoon bottled grated ginger (I could not find this in a bottle, so I finely grated a fresh piece of ginger)
2 stalks fresh lemongrass, peeled (I also could not find this ingredient. I was at the mercy of Fresh Grocer by my work so I omitted this ingredient)
2 cups water
2 (14 oz) cans fat-free, less sodium chicken broth
1 pound chicken breast tenders, cut into bite-sized pieces
4 ounces uncooked angel hair pasta (I probably added a little more than 4 oz, but just remember to add more broth if you want a nice broth to noodle ratio)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 red chile pepper, finely chopped (I used half of a chile pepper)


Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Saute garlic, ginger, and lemongrass (or not, in my case) for three minutes.  Stir in water and broth, and bring to a boil.  Once the water/broth combination has reached a boil, add in chicken and pasta.  Cook for an additional five minutes until the chicken is thoroughly cooked.  Remove from heat (at this point I dumped the contents of my skillet into a big soup pot for easier stirring) and stir in the remaining ingredients.  Let stand 5 minutes and discard lemongrass (if used).


Sunday, October 10, 2010

Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Butterscotch Cookies


Posted by: Maggie

Thanks to my love for pumpkin, another key fall flavor has been unfairly neglected here on A Bitchin' Kitchen.  I decided to bake something with apple to help make our quickly growing collection of fall recipes more well rounded.

While browsing through the archives of one of my favorite baking blogs - Visions of Sugar Plum, I came across the recipe for Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Butterscotch cookies, and immediately knew it was the fall recipe I was looking for. 

I was a bit worried about finding dried apples, but I was able to track them down in the baking aisle at Harris Teeter (not with the raisins, or the other dried fruits in produce as I had originally suspected).  Funny story, while at the grocery store picking up ingredients for these cookies, I knocked over an economy sized glass jar of applesauce, broke it, and then ran away from the scene of the crime.  Who does that? It's like I immediately regressed to being a 5 year old and was afraid of telling an employee that I made a mess.  I feel like I should send them a batch of these delicious cookies to apologize.

Here's what you'll need:

1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 3/4 cups old fashioned oats
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup apple sauce (I used sweetened)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
3/4 cup finely chopped pecans, toasted
3/4 cup butterscotch chips
3/4 cup finely chopped dried apples

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and line baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon, and then stir in oats.

In a large bowl, beat together butter, brown sugar, and applesauce on medium speed until creamy.  Add in egg and vanilla until combined. Reduce mixer speed to low, and beat in oat mixture.  Stir in pecans, butterscotch, and apples until combined.

Drop heaping teaspoons of dough onto cookie sheets about an inch apart.  Bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown. Cool for 1 minute on cookie sheets, and then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling. 

*Note - I almost always chill cookie dough for 30 minutes or so before baking, but I found it to be unnecessary with these.  They don't spread much at all, and I ended up rolling the dough into small balls and slightly flattening them to get a nicely shaped cookie. 

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Beef Enchiladas


Posted by: Maggie

One of the many great things about having Jeff in my life is that I feel more inclined to make labor intensive or time consuming recipes for dinner.   It never seems quite worth it to cook something that takes longer than 30 minutes when I'm the only one eating it.  Fortunately, Jeff is a willing guinea pig when it comes to my cooking endeavors.  I'm also fortunate that he's patient, since we did not start dinner on Friday until 8:50 since these (worth the wait) enchiladas took Sooooo. Stinkin'. Long.

This recipe comes from the Pioneer Woman's cookbook, which my lovely sister and co-blogger Annie gave to me for Christmas.  You can also find the recipe online here.

It's easy to adjust this recipe to your desired spiciness since it calls for canned green chilies and red sauce, both of which are usually available in mild, medium, or hot.  I used mild stuff, but ended up dousing my portion in Tabasco, so next time I make these I'll probably use spicier ingredients. 

Here's what you'll need:

For the sauce...
1 T canola oil
1 T all-purpose flour
1 can (28 oz) enchilada or Mexican red sauce
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 t salt
1/2 t pepper
2 T chopped cilantro

For the meat...
1 1/2 lbs ground beef
1 whole medium onion, finely diced
2 4 oz. cans diced green chilies
1/2 t salt

For the tortillas... 
10-14 corn tortillas
1/2 cup canola oil

For assembly...
3 cups grated cheddar
1/2 cup chopped black olives (I left these out because Jeff doesn't like olives, but I think they would be delicious if you use them!)
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1/2 cup chopped cilantro (optional, for garnish)

Step #1 – The Sauce
In a large saucepan over medium heat, add oil and flour and whisk together to make a paste, cooking for one minute. Pour in the red sauce, chicken broth, cilantro, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 30-45 minutes.

Step #2 – The Meat
Brown the meat with onions in a skillet. Drain off fat. Stir in 2 cans diced green chilies and seasoned salt. Set aside.

Step #3 – Tortillas
Heat canola oil in a small skillet over medium heat. One by one, using tongs, fry tortillas in oil until soft, not crisp – about 30 seconds per side. Remove to a paper—towel lined plate. Repeat until all tortillas have been fried.

Step #4 – Assembly
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour ½ cup red sauce in bottom of baking pan. Spread to even out. Dip each tortilla into red sauce, then remove to work surface. Spoon meat, a little grated cheese, a little black olives (if using), and green onions in the center of tortilla. Roll up and place, seam down, in baking pan. Repeat until pan is filled. Pour extra red sauce over enchiladas. Top with remaining cheddar cheese.

Bake for 20 minutes or until bubbly. If desired, sprinkle cilantro over enchiladas before serving. Serve with sour cream and Mexican rice, and enjoy!
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