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!)

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.)


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.


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.
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