Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Chicken with Portabella Mushroom Cream Sauce

Posted by: Annie

I am finally back on my feet after an awful, gross, yucky sickness. As a first-year teacher I have been introduced to lots of new ideas, teaching techniques and worst of all GERMS! Despite constant purell-ing and hand washing and lysoling of desks in my classroom, I got the flu- BAD. Of course it could not be a normal flu- no, it was a flu that landed me in the hospital like one of those mystery illnesses on the show "House"- complete with multiple doctors and scans and ultrasounds trying to figure out what was making me sick. After an eleven-hour visit in the emergency room they were no closer to finding what was making me sick and I was sent home. For the next four days I lived off of chicken soup, sprite zero and instant Netflix. (thank God for Roku) and slowly regained my strength. (Can you tell I am a baby when I'm sick? I also had my parents pick me up from Philly so I could spend my weekend infecting their homes with my lovely germs).

Anyway, since I have recovered I have been FAMISHED. I cannot stop eating. On Friday, I went to Chipotle with my little sister, finished my veggie burrito in approximately seven minutes and then proceeded to eat the quarter of a chicken burrito left on my sister's plate. On Saturday, I REQUESTED that my boyfriend take me to Outback, and on Sunday I ate too much junk to even write about. That being said, I needed to start this week off with something a little more wholesome. This recipe is from Campbell's Kitchen and is a definite keeper. It would probably be delicious served over egg noodles or rice, however I had left over hash brown casserole (like I said- LOTS of eating), and I did not want even more carbs on my plate.
What You Will Need:

4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
black pepper
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 ounces sliced and washed baby portabella mushrooms
4 green onions (1/2 cup)
1 cup Chicken Stock
1/2 cup chopped roasted red pepper
1/2 cup sour cream
parsley for garnish (optional)

Sprinkle the chicken breasts with pepper evenly on both sides. Next, coat the chicken with flour.
In a large skillet heat the olive oil over high heat. Add in the chicken and brown well on both sides. Mix in the mushrooms and onions and cook until soft (approximately 7-9 minutes)
Stir in the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover the skillet and cook for an additionally 5 minutes. Mix in the peppers and sour cream and heat thoroughly. Garnish with parsley.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Brownie Pudding

Posted by: Maggie

I have had this recipe bookmarked ever since I first saw it on Annie's Eats back in February.   I'm a big fan of brownie sundaes and lava cakes, and this looked like the perfect combination between the two.  I made it on Saturday night as the dessert to our baked ziti dinner.  Clearly it was a very healthy day.  Yes, this dessert is calorie and fat free.  You read it here first, folks.

Life tip: Don't go grocery shopping with your boyfriend when you're buying ingredients like vanilla beans.  He didn't comment, but I'm aware that $12 for two shriveled up pods seems insane to someone who mainly subsists off of Hot Pockets when he's not with me.  I prefer to only be silently judged by the checkout cashier for my frivolous purchases. 

½ lb. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing the dish (Note: the recipe calls for unsalted, but next time I might use 1 stick salted, 1 stick unsalted - while the recipe is basically perfect as written, I think a touch of salt could make it even more perfect.)
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
¾ cup cocoa powder
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Lightly butter a 2-quart baking dish.  Melt the 2 sticks of butter in the microwave, and set aside to cool.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together eggs and sugar on medium-high speed until thick, and light yellow in color.  Combine the flour and cocoa powder in a medium bowl, and whisk together until combined. 

Scrape out the contents of the vanilla bean, and add to the egg/sugar mixture. Gradually add the flour/cocoa mixture, and mix until just combined. Slowly pour in the melted butter and mix again until just combined.
Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish.  Place the baking dish into a larger baking pan, and add very hot tap water to the larger pan creating a water bath, coming about halfway up the smaller baking dish.  Bake for 60 minutes - it will look under-baked, but that's the way it's supposed to be.  Serve with vanilla ice cream.

Baked Ziti

Posted by: Maggie

Three types of cheese, marinara sauce, and pasta? Check.  One hour from start to finish, most of which is inactive cooking time while the water boils and the casserole bakes? Check.  Delicious and comforting for a lazy Saturday dinner? Check. 

This recipe was one of the very first things I ever cooked for my boyfriend, back when we first started dating in April 2009.  I'd invited him over for dinner on a Friday after work, and then realized that making a completely from scratch dinner interfered with my desire not to look like a dirty hobo when he arrived.  I needed something quick and easy, that I could stick in the oven and forget about while I got ready.  This baked ziti perfectly fit the bill. 

I made it again yesterday when I didn't really feel like cooking something overly involved.  I opted for the semi-homemade version and used jarred sauce, but if you prefer you can definitely use your favorite homemade kind.  Jarred sauce isn't really a cooking shortcut that bothers me, since so many brands now have short ingredient lists, and no random preservatives/chemicals/high-fructose corn syrup.

Here's what you'll need:

6 cups (16 oz.) ziti, uncooked

3 cups marinara sauce, divided

1-3/4 cups (15 oz.) ricotta cheese
2 cups (8 oz.) shredded mozzarella cheese

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley or 1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes

1 egg

1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Grated Parmesan cheese, to taste

Heat oven to 375°F. Cook pasta according to package directions until al dente, drain. In large bowl, stir together hot pasta, 1-1/2 cups spaghetti sauce, ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese, parsley, egg, oregano, garlic powder, salt and pepper. In 13 x 9 baking dish, spoon in pasta mixture; top with remaining 1-1/2 cups sauce. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese; cover with foil. Bake 30-35 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

This is the recipe my Mom uses, and it came from a box of San Giorgio ziti.  Their website is kind of annoying and I can't link directly to it, but I wanted to give credit where credit was due!

Monday, January 17, 2011

White Chocolate Cranberry Blondies

Posted by: Maggie

I know, I know.  I really should have made these a month ago, and posted them before Christmas.  The fact is, I was way too busy eating the very similar Starbucks' Cranberry Bliss Bars to even bother making a copycat version.  Unfortunately, Starbucks' version is only available around Christmas, and I need want them the other 11 months of the year.

I made these Sunday night, without really thinking about the fact that a) I'm not seeing my dessert-loving boyfriend again until Friday, b) I'm going to South Carolina this week for work and therefore can't share these with coworkers, and c) I'm completely weak around anything with cream cheese frosting.

Therefore, I ate one and stuck the rest in the freezer.  I do not plan on seeing how they taste directly out of the freezer.  I'm sure they're disgusting.  I'm just going to keep telling myself that. 

Here's what you'll need:

For the bars...

3/4 cup salted butter, cubed
1-1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
2 eggs
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 cup white chocolate chips

For the frosting...

1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 tablespoon grated orange peel (I actually used a clementine)
1 cup white chocolate chips, melted
1/2 cup dried cranberries, chopped

In a microwave, melt butter; stir in brown sugar. Transfer to a large bowl; cool to room temperature. Beat in the eggs and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon; gradually add to butter mixture. Stir in cranberries and white chocolate.

Spread into a parchment paper lined 13x9 inch baking dish. Bake at 350° for 18-21 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean (do not overbake). Cool in pan on a wire rack.

For frosting, beat the cream cheese, confectioners' sugar and orange peel until blended. Gradually add half of the melted white chocolate; beat until blended. Frost brownies. Sprinkle with cranberries. Drizzle with remaining melted white chocolate. Cut into bars. Store in the refrigerator.


Sunday, January 9, 2011

Pasta Puttanesca

Posted by: Maggie

Did you know that pasta puttanesca is also known as "whore's spaghetti"? Legend has it that Italian prostitutes would cook this dish to lure in potential customers.  I can see why that worked, since I left my apartment shortly after cooking this for Sunday lunch, and could smell the garlic 15 feet down the hall when I returned.  Let's just hope that those hookers were packing breathmints, because this is one stinky, but delicious meal.

(Sidenote: I'm really curious to see what kind of google hits I get thanks to the preceeding paragraph containing certain words atypical to a cooking blog. Perhaps hits from brothel patrons searching for "what to feed a hooker."  FEED THEM THIS!  It's tasty, and historical!)

Here is what you will need...I omitted the anchovy paste, not because I hate anchovies (I happen to love them), but because Whole Foods sucks and sold me a tube of anchovy paste that had burst open on the end.  I didn't see it when I bought it since the tube was in a cardboard box.  Oh well...include it if you can - it will only make an already amazing dish more delicious.

12 ounces dried spaghetti
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic (about 5-6 cloves)
2 teaspoons anchovy paste
1/2 - 1 teaspoon hot pepper flakes (depending on your spice tolerance)
1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes in juice, pureed in blender
1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives
2 tablespoons capers, drained
Pinch of sugar
Basil, chiffonaded
Shredded parmesan cheese

Cook spaghetti according to package directions.

While spaghetti is cooking, heat olive oil in a large skillet on medium heat.  When oil is shimmering, add in garlic, anchovy paste, and red pepper flakes.  Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally,  and then dump in pureed tomatoes, olives, and capers.

Let simmer, stirring occasionally while pasta is cooking.  Add sugar to taste, to cut the acidity of the tomatoes.  Add in salt and pepper if desired. (I felt like the sauce was salty enough from the capers and olives, and did not add any extra seasoning.)

Drain the pasta, and combine with the sauce.  Sprinkle with basil and Parmesan just before serving.

P.S. Vegetarian readers - please don't be mad that I categorized this as vegetarian.  I was a vegetarian for many, many years, and would have taken major exception to the fact that a recipe containing anchovy paste was classified this way.  Since I left the anchovy paste out, and since it tastes so awesome without using it I decided to stick the label on there for organizational purposes.

Adapted from: The Curvy Carrot

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Red Velvet Cupcakes

red velvet cupcakes

Posted by: Maggie

Let me tell you, the universe did NOT want me to make red velvet cupcakes.  The problem started back in September, which you can read about here

Next, co-blogger Annie texted me saying that she was going to make red velvet cupcakes.  There isn't really any point in having two red velvet recipes on the blog, so I kind of scrapped the idea.

Then, I decided that I would go ahead and make them anyway, and that Annie and I could have a throw down of sorts.  Not that we could actually taste each others cupcakes being that we live three hours apart.

The next thing I know, Annie doesn't want to make them anymore because it's after Christmas (she was going to have a Christmas twist to hers) and I was in a post Christmas anti-sweets funk.

Then, on January 2nd I thought hey, why don't I finally make those cupcakes?

Nope, not happening, my eggs are expired.

Fast forward to January 3rd - I now have fresh eggs, but decided to cook something healthy to start off the new year instead.

I finally made these darn cupcakes on Thursday night.  And you know what? They were definitely worth the wait. 

This is the second recipe in a row we've posted by Brown Eyed Baker for a reason.  Everything she posts on her blog is awesome, and I have complete confidence that whatever I make from her site will work.  This is exactly what I look for in a red velvet cupcake - dark red, not that artificial pinky-red, a hint of chocolate taste, and a light, moist texture. 

This recipe makes a dozen cupcakes...most of which I decorated with a dollop of cream cheese frosting like you see above.  The normal ones will be brought to my coworkers.  This Redskin's themed version will be for Jeff.  I think the frosting looks like Velveeta, but it's really just the Wilton gel color in "golden yellow".  The decoration is from Fancy Flours.

Redskins cupcake:

redskins cupcakes

Here's what you will need:

For the cupcakes...

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 egg
2½ tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tablespoons red food coloring
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup buttermilk
1 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
1½ teaspoons distilled white vinegar

For the frosting...

4 ounces butter, at room temperature
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
2½ cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and line a muffin tin with paper liners.

On medium-high speed, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, approximately 3 minutes.  Crank up the mixer to high and add your egg, beating until well incorporated.

In a separate small bowl, mix together the cocoa powder, vanilla, and food coloring.  Stir until well combined, then add to the batter, mixing on medium speed until thoroughly combined.

Reduce the mixer to low, and add half the buttermilk.  Add half the flour and mix until combined.  Scrape the bowl and repeat the process with the remaining milk and flour. Beat on high just until smooth.

Reduce your mixer speed to low, and add the salt, baking soda, and vinegar.  Turn the mixer back up to high, and beat for a couple minutes until completely combined and smooth.

Divide the batter evenly in your pan, and bake for 18-20 minutes (mine took 18) or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean.

Cool for 10 minutes in the pan, and then remove to cool completely prior to frosting.

To make the frosting, whip the butter and cream cheese on high speed for about 5 minutes, scraping the bowl as necessary.  Reduce the speed to low, and gradually add in the powdered sugar until incorporated.  Add the vanilla and mix to combine.  Increase mixer speed to medium high, and whip for 2-3 minutes or until frosting is light and fluffy.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Applesauce Oatmeal Muffins

applesauce oatmeal muffins

Posted by: Annie

Following the gym this evening, I was in a baking mood and felt a little too guilty making a sugary treat that was loaded with butter and chocolate and all the delicious things we love in life. However, I remembered seeing that applesauce could be substituted for butter in particular baked goods and I had a lone container of applesauce sitting in my fridge, calling my sweet-tooth’s name.  I adapted a recipe from Brown Eyed Baker (only because I didn’t have the *exact* ingredients she called for) and these lovely little muffins were born (baked?)

What You Will Need:

1 cup oats (not instant)
1 cup skim milk
½ cup unsweetened applesauce (mine was strawberry)
2 egg whites
1 cup whole wheat flour
½ cup brown sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
¾ c. chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and spray a muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray or line with muffin liners.

Combine oats, milk, applesauce and egg whites in a medium bowl and mix well.

In a separate larger bowl mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder and soda, salt and cinnamon.

Fold in the oat mixture, but do not over mix because the muffins will turn out tough.  Add in walnuts.

Spoon the batter into the muffin cups (this recipe makes 12), and bake in the oven for twenty minutes.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Spinach Quiche

spinach quiche

Posted by: Annie

January is honestly my least favorite month.  The holidays are over, and January just seems to drag on and on forever.  I am trying to make this month brighter by having something fun to look forward to every weekend.  On my list so far - celebrating five years together with my boyfriend (woah!), a trip to DC to celebrate my friend's 24th birthday, taking my last certification exam so I can complete my teaching license in PA (this is not really a highlight until I receive my passing scores ;) ), and finally in the last weekend of January seeing Avenue Q with my mom and sisters.  Now that I have my weekends planned with happy things, I will get through these long weekdays in January by cooking and baking more.  I started this week off with a much needed delicious and healthy spinach quiche

What you will need:

1 refrigerated pie crust
Non-stick cooking spray
1 medium-sized onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 10 oz package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 cup Egg Beaters
1 cup skim milk
1 T flour
3/4 t hot sauce

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spray a pie dish with non-stick cooking spray and arrange the dough in the pie dish. Create a ridged effect along the rim of the pie dish by pinching the dough with your fingers around the top edge. Prick the sides of the pie crust with a fork to prevent air bubbles. Bake for five minutes until lightly browned; set aside. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees.

Spray a medium sized skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium heat. Add onion and garlic to the skillet and cook until tender. Add in spinach and mix well. Spoon the spinach mixture into the prepared pie crust.

In a large bowl combine egg beaters, milk, flour and hot sauce and mix until smooth. Pour over the spinach mixture. Cover the edges of the crust with foil to prevent the crust from burning.

Bake 50 minutes or until a knife entered in the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes and then cut into six slices.


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

Posted by: Maggie

Happy New Year!

As much as I wanted to make red velvet cupcakes last night, it felt unnatural to have the first post of the New Year be something unhealthy.  Save for the cheese, this is a very nutritious dinner or lunch.  Protein and fiber come from the quinoa and beans, and of course all that goodness is stuffed into an entire vegetable.

This was actually my first time *ever* cooking quinoa.  I've only had it one other time before, and really enjoyed the chewy, nutty flavor.

When I was at the grocery store buying ingredients for this recipe, I was reading the various bags of quinoa and trying to decide between which to get, and I got hit on.  I have never been hit on at the grocery store in my life, despite people always saying that's where young people meet.  (What people, I cannot say.  I just hear things.)  He wouldn't stop talking about how he made quinoa last week, and how I should really buy a rice cooker, blah, blah, blah.    Unfortunately for him, I'm taken, so I hissed and ran away with my quinoa. 

Here is what you'll need for 4 peppers, and a good amount of leftover filling:

4 bell peppers (go with smallish ones that stand up easily.  I made 4 peppers in different colors, but the green one is the only one that would stand on it's own.)
2 T olive oil, divided use
1 1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained well before use
1 1/2 cup veggie broth
1 1/2 cup water
1 can black refried beans
1 cup salsa
1 t cumin
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup shredded pepper jack cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Cut the tops off peppers, and scoop out the insides.  Rub the insides and outside with one tablespoon olive oil.  Place cut side down in a pan, and roast for 15-20 minutes.  You can roast the tops too if you want them as garnish.

In a large, deep skillet, heat one tablespoon olive oil over medium heat.  When the oil is hot, add the quinoa and toast for 1-2 minutes.  Add in broth and water.  When it begins to boil, reduce heat to medium low for 15-20 minutes, or until all liquid is absorbed.

Meanwhile, mix beans, salsa, cumin, salt, and pepper in a large bowl.  Add cooked quinoa and stir to combine.  Reduce oven to 350 degrees, and stuff peppers with filling.

Sprinkle the cheese on top, and bake for 10 minutes.

Adapted from: Edible Perspective
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