Wednesday, March 21, 2012

White Cheddar Chicken Pasta

I have yet to learn how to photograph pasta so it looks pretty (I realize that none of my photo's are really that amazing...although some do surprise me). So, please forgive my drab photos and give this recipe a chance anyway.

One of my dear husband's quirks is that he won't enjoy a meal that I cook this week until he hasn't eaten it for a couple months. This is understandable because, between the two of us, we eat a lot of leftovers. But, as a cook, that means that I need to have a big repertoire of recipes to choose from to allow proper separation of duplication. As mentioned before, I love mac and cheese. In an effort to be sneaky and get my fill for mac and cheese without triggering this response in him, I made this White Cheddar Chicken Pasta. It isn't called mac and cheese, so that is a good start. It also has chicken, which separates it as well. Up until right in this moment (as he is reading this post), my little scheme worked. My craving was satisfied and so were his brain and taste buds. Score!


This is a delightful dish. The white cheddar adds a nice mix up from the norm and tastes yummy. It fits very well into the comfort food category. It will definitely be something we eat again - not for at least a couple months though! ;)

Recipe:
Yield: about 6 servings

For the chicken:
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tbsp fresh thyme
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tbsp olive oil

For the pasta:
1 pound short cut pasta
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, finely diced
1/4 cup white cooking wine
1 tbsp dijon mustard
8 oz sharp white cheddar cheese, grated
2 cups milk
Crushed red pepper flakes to taste
Parmesan cheese to taste

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Mix together mustard, thyme, salt and pepper and sprinkle over the chicken. When the pan is hot, add chicken and brown about 3 minutes per side until cooked through. Remove to a plate and cover with foil.

Heat water to boil in a large stock pot for pasta, add salt and pasta and cook to al dente.

Meanwhile, melt butter in the same large skillet as above over medium heat (I didn't clean mine in between - it helps to add just a little more flavor depth). Add flour and whisk to combine. Add wine, garlic, onions, and mustard. Cook about 5 minutes, or until onions are translucent. Reduce heat to low and slowly add milk, stirring to combine. Cook until mixture begins to thicken, about 5-7 minutes. Add the cheese and stir to melt. Add chicken and pasta and stir to mix in the sauce. Serve topped with crushed red pepper flakes and Parmesan cheese.

Source: slightly adapted from Homemade By Holman

Monday, March 19, 2012

Tilapia with Blood Orange Salsa

Looking through my archives the other day, I realized that I am heavily skewed towards the sweet end of the spectrum. Not that I expected much different, but I was trying to keep a little bit of balance. haha. Here is my reasoning: I make dinner regularly, and even photograph it regularly. Then I make some new desert and love it soooo much that I have to share it as soon as I can. I justify by thinking "oh, I'll make sure I post this dinner recipe later in the week". Obviously that doesn't happen very often. In an effort to correct that wrong, I am going to post quite a few dinner recipes over the next week. That's the plan anyway....

Here is the first one: Tilapia with Blood Orange Salsa.


The original recipe calls for tangerines instead of blood oranges. When I went to the store I didn't see any tangerines so I bought what I thought were normal oranges. Lucky for me, it happened to be right when blood oranges are in season and somehow I ended up bringing a couple of those home to enjoy. Both my husband and I were quite surprised when I pulled the peel off and the insides were much more red than expected. The flavor was pleasant however, and I am pleased about my happy accident.

Recipe:
Yield: 4 servings

2 tbsp lime juice, freshly squeezed
1 tsp honey
1 tsp lime zest
3/4 tsp salt, divided
2 blood oranges, peeled and diced
2 green onions, sliced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/4 cup roughly chopped cilantro
1 1/2-2 lb tilapia
1/4 cup flour
1 tbsp canola oil

Whisk lime juice, honey, lime zest, and 1/4 tsp salt in a medium bowl. Stir in blood oranges, green onions, bell pepper, and cilantro. Set aside.

Season tilapia with the remaining salt. Dip the fish in the flour covering both sides as completely as possible. Heat the canola oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. cook the tilapia until golden brown and cooked through - about 3 or 4 minutes a side.

Serve with the salsa.

Source: adapted from Healthy Seasonal Recipes

Honey Sesame Chicken

I have tried a number of crock pot recipes over the last couple months that always promise me the sauce will thicken. Guess what...it never does! I have yet to master this art, obviously. So, when I saw this recipe and it called for cornstarch dissolved in water I knew my chances of having the sauce thicken were good. And I wasn't disappointed! Maybe I should try this method in the other recipes that claim it will magically thicken on it's own? I don't know.


Anyway, onto the Honey Sesame Chicken goodness. This seriously tasted like a dish straight from Teriyaki Stix. Although I am sure it's not their actual recipe, I will never complain about a good knock off. This dish is one that is sure to please and the best part? It is super easy and takes maybe 10 minutes of active time. Now that is my kind of recipe.

Recipe:
Yield: about 6 servings

5 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 1 1/2 lbs)
Salt and Pepper
1 cup honey
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 onion, diced
1/4 cup ketchup
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves minced garlic
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (definitely adds a kick - adjust according to your tastes)
4 tsp cornstarch dissolved in 6 tbsp water
1/2 tbsp sesame seeds

Lightly season both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper and put into the crock pot. In a medium bowl, combine honey, soy sauce, onion, ketchup, oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Pour over the chicken and cook on low for 4 hours.

Remove chicken from the crock pot, but leave the sauce. Add the dissolved cornstarch and stir to combine. Cook sauce on high for ten or more minutes until thickened. Shred chicken into bite size pieces and add to the thickened sauce along with sesame seeds.

Source: slightly adapted from Very Culinary

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Southwestern Stuffed Peppers

For my mom's birthday my sister bought her concert tickets. This is exciting for me because that means that they got to stay a couple nights at my house (which I LOVE)! One of the meals that we ate were these Stuffed Peppers. And they were a hit, to say the least. 


My sister made the comment that I should change the name of my blog to "Saving Brittani's Marriage Blog". Not that she is even married yet. haha. She assured me that when that does happen, she will be heavily relying on my blog to feed her husband. The whole getting married thing was the inspiration behind my beginning to cook, so maybe it will be for her too ;)



These guys are super adaptable to whatever it is you are feeling. I used hot salsa (DEFINITELY produced a good kick - in my sister's words: "my mouth is on fire!") and brown rice. I also used a mixture of sharp cheddar cheese and pepperjack cheese. I didn't add any meat to mine, but I'm sure they would be good with a little bit of chicken or ground beef mixed in as well. The sky is the limit. Make them to suite your fancy or make them exactly like I did and I am sure you won't be disappointed!

Recipe:
Yield: 4-6 servings


3 red bell peppers
1 cup rice
1 cup salsa
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup frozen corn
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
Sliced Cheese (sharp cheddar, pepperjack, you choose!)


Cut the peppers in half, removing the seeds and white stuff. Place in a baking dish, cut side down. Bake in an oven preheated to 425 degrees for 15 minutes - until the skins begin to bubble and peppers are just tender.


Cook the rice according to package directions. In a bowl, stir together rice, salsa, beans, corn, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper.

Reduce oven heat to 400 degrees. Fill baked peppers with the mixture and cover with foil. Bake for 15 minutes. Top with cheese slices and bake for 5 more minutes.

Enjoy!


Source: adapted from The Comfort of Cooking

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Pie Crust

I'm going to be completely honest...I have never actually made a pie. However; I have made various things that require pie crust. As such, I find it important to include this recipe on my blog. Maybe it will be helpful to you too!


It's really not that hard to make and shouldn't scare you away. I made this recipe before I had a food processor and I have never owned a pastry cutter. Sooo, don't be afraid if you don't have fancy tools. Its easy and tastes yummy, yummy!

Recipe:

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cold and cut into pieces
1/2 cup crisco
1/2 cup very cold water

Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. Using a pastry cutter (or food processor, or two forks, or your hands if that works better - that's what I used pre food processor), cut the flour and crisco into the flour mixture until the mixture is coarse and the largest pieces of butter are no bigger than small peas. Stir in the water and mix gently until the dough has come together in a cohesive ball and all of the dry ingredients have been moistened. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge or freezer for at least 1 hour.

Cook according to your recipe directions and enjoy!

Source: a mixture from Annie's Eats and Pioneer Woman and my own musings

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownies

Pinterest isn't my favorite thing ever. The website just seems cluttered to me and I have yet to catch the bug. However, a couple things that have happened recently are changing my mind about it.

1. The iPhone app. It is a much better way for me to explore and I actually want to check it almost daily. I have even created a few new boards and at least doubled the amount of pins I have.

2. Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownies. I would never have found these without pinterest. And for that, I am forever indebted.


Two of my favorite things ever are cookie dough and brownies. Whoever decided to put them together is a genius. These are SOOO GOOD! I could seriously eat the whole pan myself. In one day. I have to exercise serious self control with these little guys. Yes, eating two at a time is self control. I just want to keep going back for more. 


These moved right to the top of my favorite deserts ever list. Oh, and the cookie dough is egg free so you can eat all you want without the risk of raw eggs. Score. Not that that ever slows my cookie dough consumption down...

Make these. Your life will be forever changed in a good way. I promise. 

Recipe:
Yield: 24 brownies

For the brownies:
4 oz chocolate, finely chopped (I used semi-sweet)
1 cup butter, at room temperature
2 cups brown sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup flour

For the Cookie Dough:
3/4 cup butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
3 tbsp milk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Brownies:

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line a 9x13" pan with foil, leaving some hanging over all four sides. Grease the foil. 

In a double broiler with simmering water, melt the chocolate. Set aside to cool slightly.

In a large mixing bowl, mix the butter and brown sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs and vanilla extract. Add in the melted chocolate until combined. Reduce the speed to low and mix in the flour until just combined being careful not to overmix. Spread the batter into prepared pan. Bake 25-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool completely.

Cookies:

In a medium bowl, combine the butter and both sugars. Add the milk and vanilla and mix until combined. Mix in the flour until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chips. 

Spread the cookie dough over the cooled brownies. Refrigerate about an hour or until the dough is firm. Cut the brownies using a knife or pizza cutter (how I do it). Brownies can be stored at cool room temperature or in the fridge. 

Source: slightly adapted from The Brown Eyed Baker, originally from Recipe Girl

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Lemon Coconut White Chocolate Chip Cookies

This is my first ever requested treat! After debating for a few weeks on how I was going to make this combination work, I found this recipe on The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie blog and it was exactly what I was looking for. I tweaked it a little to add the coconut and these were indeed perfect chocolate chip cookies. 


Definitely check out that blog because it gives really good tips on how to make your cookies just perfect. I have made yummy chocolate chip cookies many times in my life, but these ones were all uniform and looked really pretty...in essence, the perfect chocolate chip cookie. 


The best part about making these cookies? I got to make them with the requester who happens to be one of my really good friends. Good food and good company? It doesn't get much better than that. 

Recipe:
Yield: about 3-4 dozen cookies

2 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt 
1 tbsp citric acid
1/2 cup butter at room temperature
1/2 cup Crisco
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup minus 2 tbsp sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp lemon extract
1 1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1 1/2 cup coconut

In a small bowl, mix the flour, salt, baking soda and citric acid. Set aside.

Cream the butter and shortening on high until light and fluffy. Add both sugars and beat on high. Add eggs, vanilla, and lemon extract. Beat until fully incorporated. Add the chocolate chips and coconut and mix gently. Add the flour mixture and mix until just incorporated, being careful to not overmix. The dough should feel sticky, but not much should stick to your finger. 

Using your hands, roll the dough into balls about an inch and a half tall. Cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes. Dough can be kept in the fridge for up to 2 days or the freezer for 6 months. 

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place dough on a greased cookie sheet and bake for 7-9 minutes, until they are domed and puffy with a few signs of browning. Allow to cool on cookie sheet for 2 minutes then remove to wire rack to cool completely. 

Source: slightly adapted from The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie