Wednesday, December 29, 2010

2010 Recap

I feel like 2010 has gone way too quickly. It's hard to believe that we're about to start another new year in just a couple of days. This New Year's Eve will mark 6 years since the husband and I first met, 4 years as a teacher, and the last 9 months of my twenties.

Time once seemed to stand still for me; hours felt like days, days felt like weeks. Nowadays, time just flies. I feel like my life has been on fast forward these past several years--not necessarily in a bad way though. I just can't believe how fast the months slip by.

It doesn't feel like it's been 4 months since I was on summer vacation. I can't believe I've already finished one quarter of grad school and will be starting my second quarter the Monday after New Year's Day. 2011 is poised to hold a lot of great changes for the husband and I, and I can't wait to see all that will unfold in the coming months.

But for now, here's a look back at some of my favorite recipes from this year. My photography is still pretty poor, but the recipes are what really matter (right?). I had a hard time picking my favorites from this year; I made so many dishes that we enjoyed. My blog, my rules, so I've included a few recipes for each month, rather than the standard one per month. Enjoy!

Buffalo Blue Pizza. I made many pizza variations this year, but Buffalo Blue was a flavorful favorite of mine.

Oven-Roasted Parmesean Broccoli
I've always hated broccoli, but this recipe is so good, I willingly include broccoli in our meal plans.


Basil Ice Cream.
A lot of people made a funny face when I told them about basil ice cream. But then they tried it. Those funny faces were replaced with requests for more ice cream.

Grilled Stuffed Potatoes.
If I weren't watching my carb intake, I would grill one of these up right now.

Crispy Maple Ginger Tofu.
This is the recipe that showed I can make good tofu at home!


Grilled Rosemary Chicken Thighs.
One of my favorite chicken recipes ever. Savory-sweet with the smokey charcoal flavor from the grill.

Crispy Coconut Tofu Nuggets.
Another confidence boost in the tofu department. These appeared on our dinner plates numerous times this year.

Chocolate Mousse.
Make this soon.

Barbecue Babyback Ribs. A warm weather staple in our house. So simple, yet so flavorful. Lots of witty commentary with this one.


BBQ Chicken Pizza. The husband's hands-down favorite homemade pizza.

Lime Marinated Flank Steak. Be sure to use super ripe avocados. My mouth is watering thinking about this meal.

Strawberries and Cream Cake.
Everyone who tried this cake agreed--much better than the traditional angel food cake with sliced strawberries. I went out of town for a day or two, leaving 3/4 of this cake in the fridge. When I came back home, I discovered the husband had completely polished it off.


Summery Fruit Salad.
I'm craving the summery-sweet flavors right now. Basil is an unexpected, yet perfect, savory addition.

Chocolate Overload Nutella Mousse Pie. Sinful.

Filet Mignon. A simply elegant meal for the husband's 30th birthday.


A snacking staple.

Cherry Pie. Summer in a pie plate.


Refreshingly light, with a powerful punch. Don't drink too many! I think I'll need to make a batch of these soon...

Cinnamon Ice Cream.
ooooo, this is some good stuff. I made this ice cream several times this year and it received rave reviews every time. Even from my cinnamon-hating boss.

Rosemary Dijon Salmon Burgers. A nice alternative to eating fish fillets.


Cherry Almond Granola.
I made a huge bag of this and snacked on it endlessly. It is perfect on its own, or stirred into plain Greek yogurt.

Guacamole Salad. Is it summer yet? I'd like to grill some ribs and dish up this amazingly flavorful side dish right now.


Spicy Oven-Fried Chicken.
Make this instead of feeling guilty for hitting the Chik-fil-a drive through.

Apple Cake Pops. Too cute. Super yummy. Perfect for a group of teachers.


Herb-Marinated Sirloin Tip Steaks.
Meaty deliciousness.


Pumpkin Custards.
A low-sugar pumpkin dessert. I served these to my friends and family members who are diabetic, or are otherwise watching their sugar intake, and everyone absolutely loved the results.

Almond-Encrusted Chicken Nuggets.
Serve with some spicy mustard or barbecue sauce to dip in and say adios to McDonalds.


Candy Cane Sugar.
Better than trying to crush up candy canes by hand and winding up with huge, sharp shards.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Candy Cane Sugar

I like sprinkling crushed candy canes on Christmas treats, but if you don't crush the candy canes enough, you're left with huge jagged chunks that aren't so fun. I saw a picture of peppermint sugar on Tastespotting and decided to give it a try. I like how finely crushed the candy canes are, and combined with the sugar, they give a sparkly touch to special treats.

Candy Cane Sugar
Source: Tastespotting and Pip & Ebby


1 cup granulated sugar
candy canes (however many you want)

Break up the candy canes into large chunks (you can skip this step if you're using mini candy canes)/
Put the sugar and the candy canes in the bowl of a food processor. Turn it on and process until you have the desired size. I like mine mostly fine, with a few small chunks.

Store in a airtight container or ziplock bag. Sprinkle on top of cake balls, peppermint bark, cookies, cakes, or whatever treats you like!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Turkey Dumplings with Sesame Dipping Sauce

I love making these turkey dumplings for a weekend meal, though I think they'd be great as a party appetizer as well. Making filling comes together quickly, as does cooking the dumplings, but filling and sealing the wonton wrappers takes awhile, so be sure to give yourself plenty of time.

This is a great recipe for a low-carb diet, which makes me love it even more! If you're vegetarian you can easily omit the turkey and add in 1 cup of spinach leaves, or shredded carrots and diced bell peppers.

Turkey Dumplings with Sesame Dipping Sauce
Source: Adapted from Reverse Diabetes-Holiday Issue
Printable Recipe

Dumpling Ingredients
1 pound ground turkey
6 green onions, thinly sliced (white and green portions)
one 8-ounce can water chestnuts, drained
8 teaspoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
48 wonton wrappers

Dipping Sauce Ingredients
1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
2 Tablespoons sesame oil
4 teaspoons rice vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup thinly slices green onions, plus additional for garnish

Dumpling Directions

Brown the ground turkey in a skillet until cooked through. Drain off any fat.

Combine the turkey, scallions, water chestnuts, cilantro, soy sauce, ginger and pepper in a medium bowl. Mix well to combine.

Bring a large pot of water to boil.

Working with several wonton wrappers at a time, while keeping the remainder loosly covered with a damp cloth, start filling the wontons. I find it easiest to hold the wrapper in one hand and add about a 1/2 teaspoon to a teaspoon of filling to the center of each wrapper. Dip your finger in water and moisten the edges of the wonton wrapper. Fold the wrapper in half, over the filling, and press the edges together to seal. Set aside and keep covered with a damp cloth. Repeat with the remaining wonton wrappers and filling.

Add the dumplings to the boiling water (it's best to work in batches) and cook until they float to the surface--about 3-4 minutes.

While the dumplings are cooking, make the dipping sauce. In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, sesame oil, vinegar, sugar, and scallions.

Remove the dumplings from the water with a slotted spoon, draining off excess water. Serve with dipping sauce and a sprinkle of chopped green onions.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Pumpkin Pie

My first Thanksgiving away from home was my junior year of college. Going to school in northern California meant that I was an 8 hour drive away from home; I had no desire to make the long trek down the 5, and being a broke college kid meant I couldn't afford holiday airfare home. Much to my parents chagrin, I decided to stay in the Bay Area and drive down to Santa Cruz for Thanksgiving dinner with a high school friend who was attending UCSC.

I made a few pumpkin pies, packed up my car, and headed off to Santa Crux aftr dropping off some friends in San Jose. Everyone was worried about me though, since my car wasn't the most reliable--in fact, it had a penchant for breaking down at the worst possible moment. And of course, why would Thanksgiving be any different. Alone on a windy, two-lane road in the Santa Cruz Mountains, halfway between San Jose and Santa Cruz, my car puttered and jerked to a halt right at a bend in the road. There was no getting it started again, so I pulled out my cell and made some calls...a short while later, AAA was there to give me a lift back to my friend's house in San Jose, the pies still sitting in the back seat.

Though sitting on that mountain road was pretty scary, that turned out to be a great Thanksgiving. We never did eat the pies though, as my hosts already had a full spread prepared. But every year I make the same recipe and laugh when I think about that first Thanksgiving away from home.

This pie is a family favorite; it's bold, spicy flavor puts store-bought--and even the Libby's pumpkin recipe--to shame. I use canned pumpkin, but you can also roast your own pumpkins for the puree.

1 ½ cup pumpkin puree
2 beaten eggs
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon each ground mace and cloves (sub nutmeg for mace if you don't have any mace)
¾ cup brown sugar
½ cup evaporated milk
½ teaspoon each salt, ginger and nutmeg
9” pie shell (I use Martha Stewart's pate brisee recipe)


Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees. Press pie dough into greased 9" pie pan.

In a large bowl, mix ingredients together in the order given. Pour into unbaked pie shell and bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes.

Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake another 45 minutes.

Cool before serving. Garnish with whipped cream, if desired.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Blackberry Cranberry Sauce

This was the second year that the husband and I hosted Thanksgiving dinner in our home--we like the tradition of inviting our families over and cooking a big meal for everyone. Last year, I made the majority of the meal, but asked each of our families to bring a dish as well. This year I decided to make the entire meal myself, which gave me the chance to try out some new recipes.

In my family, we traditionally have spiced cranberries for Thanksgiving dinner, and the husband's family likes the whole jellied canned cranberries, but when I saw these blackberry cranberries posted on Annie's Eats, I knew I wanted to give them a try.

While I was making them, I have to admit, I was skeptical. They tasted odd and too sweet to me at first. But after chilling in the fridge overnight they were fabulous! The cranberries still had a bit of a bold, spiced flavor, but the blackberries added a nice texture and sweetness. I'd definitely make these again in the future.

Note: I doubled the recipe because I like lots of leftovers on Thanksgiving. The recipe below is the original, non-doubled, amounts.

Blackberry Cranberry Sauce
Source: Annie's Eats
Printable Recipe

12 ounces fresh cranberries
2 cups blackberries
1 cup sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon allspice
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 Tablespoons water

Place cranberries in a medium saucepan. Add water to the pan, just under 1-inch deep (berries do not need to be completely covered.)

Heat over medium-high heat until the berries begin to pop. Cook a few minutes more, until most of the skins have popped.

Gently stir in the blackberries, sugar, salt and allspice.

In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch and water and whisk together until smooth. Add the mixture to the pan with the berries and stir to incorporate.

Bring the cranberry mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium and cook until the sauce has thickened. (I cooked mine for about another 10 minutes or so.) Smash the berries a bit while you stir, leaving some berries intact for a chunkier texture.

Remove from the heat and allow the mixture to cool. The sauce will continue to thicken as it cools. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pumpkin Custard

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving--are you ready?! The husband and I are hosting Thanksgiving for the second time this year and I've been planning the menu since about September. My original menu had about 3 sides and 15 desserts, but I've since changed it up a bit and reduced the amount of desserts to just three. Believe me, I'd much rather eat dessert for dinner than "real" food, but I know I'm kind of alone on this one, and since I shouldn't be eating too many sweets, I figured I shouldn't create a bunch of leftover treats either. Boo.

Even though I plan to indulge on Thanksgiving, I do want to have a "less guilt" dessert option, so I don't completely jump off the South Beach train. These pumpkin custards are a nice option for people following South Beach or who are just watching their sugar intake. I tweaked the recipe a bit to include more spices, as the original only called for a little nutmeg and cinnamon; I like my pumpkin to have a bolder flavor.

Pumpkin Custard
Source: Adapted from Reverse Diabetes: Holiday Recipes
Printable Recipe

2 large eggs
2 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon agave syrup
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon all spice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups low fat milk

whipped cream, for topping

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Line a roasting pan with a kitchen towel to prevent the custard cups from sliding around. Bring a large pot of water to boil.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg whites, sugar and agave until smooth. Add the pumpkin puree, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, all spice, salt, and vanilla. Whisk until blended; whisk in the milk.

Pour the mixture into six 6 ounce (3/4 cup) ramekins. Set the custard cups on top of the towel in the pan and slowly pour the boiling water into the pan, until it reaches about halfway up the sides of the cups.

Gently place the roasting pan in the oven and bake for 50-55 minutes, until the custards are set.
Remove the roasting pan from the oven and place the ramekins on a wire rack to cool.

Refrigerate for at least an hour, or until completely cooled. Serve with whipped cream if desired,

Monday, November 22, 2010

Pumpkin Pie Bars

Well, it's almost Thanksgiving, so hopefully you have your menu for this year's turkey dinner planned out. But, if you're still looking for another addition to the dessert table here's a fun spin on pumpkin pie! These bars have the soft consistency of traditional pumpkin pie and the butterscotch chips add an element of flavor that pairs so well with the pumpkin.

Pumpkin Pie Bars
Source: Annie's Eats and Joy the Baker

Printable Recipe

Crust and Topping Ingredients
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup granulated sugar
½ cup brown sugar, firmly packed
12 Tablespoon cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 cup old-fashioned oats
½ cup chopped pecans
Butterscotch chips, for topping (use as many as you like)

Filling Ingredients
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
½ cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin puree (about 1 3/4 cup)
1 Tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Line a 9×13-inch baking pan with foil,folding the foil over the edges of the pan. Lightly grease the foil.

Combine the flour, granulated sugar and brown sugar in a small mixing bowl and mix with a fork. Add the pieces of butter to the dry ingredients and cut it in with a pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs (you can also do this in a food processor or with a fork). Stir in the oats and chopped pecans.

Reserve 1 cup of the crust mixture and set aside. Add the remaining crust mixture to the prepared baking pan and press onto the bottom of the pan in an even layer.

Bake the crust alone in the oven for 15 minutes. In the meantime, prepare the filling.

To make the filling, combine the cream cheese, sugar, eggs, pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until smooth and well combined.

Once the crust has been removed from the oven, pour the filling into the pan and smooth over the crust. Sprinkle the filling with the reserved crumb mixture and butterscotch chips.

Bake for 25 minutes, remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool. Slice and serve.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Jalapeno Chicken Salad

This hardly qualifies as a recipe, in my opinion, since you basically just mix a few things together and then eat. :) But it's something I've been eating a lot of lately since it is South Beach-friendly, and friends have asked for the recipe, so I decided to go ahead and blog it after all.

The jalapeno and lime give a spicy-tart kick to the chicken, while the olive oil leaves a very distinct (in a good way!) taste. I like to eat this on its own or with some sliced cucumbers and red bell peppers, but I bet it would be great as a sandwich or on some whole wheat crackers.

I don't actually measure out the ingredients for this when I make it, so the following recipe is a rough guideline. You can add or subtract to suit your tastes. :)

And just in case you're keeping count, the total weight loss is now at 16 pounds! Woooooo!

Jalapeno Chicken Salad
Source: an awesome co-worker

Printable Recipe

one 12.5-ounce can chicken breasts, packed in water
1-2 Tablespoons reduced-fat mayo
1 teaspoon olive oil
juice from 1/2 a lime
2 green onions, diced
1 jalapeno, diced (remove the seeds and ribs if you don't like a lot of heat)
1-2 Tablespoons cilantro, minced
garlic salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and mix together with a fork.

Serve immediately, or chill until ready to eat.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Red Snapper with Tomatillo Salsa

Following Phase One of South Beach has not been easy...I feel like the list of things NOT to eat is miles long, and the approved list of foods is teeny tiny. The results have definitely been worth it so far, but I do have to admit, I fell off the wagon a bit recently....I ate a McRib over the weekend and a Whopper on my way to class last night. oops. :/ So I guess Phase One will extend an extra week for me, to make up for those "cheats".

Back to this recipe. I needed something tasty and non-chicken based for a Phase One meal, so I turned to fish. The husband loves fish, and even though I love sushi, I am really picky about cooked fish. I don't like it to taste fishy and the texture needs to be firm and flakey, otherwise it just totally grosses me out. I'd had macadamia nut encrusted halibut at a restaurant back in September and thought it was a nice mild fish, so when I saw this original recipe (it calls for halibut) I figured we'd give it a try.

Unfortunately, fish has seasons (did you know this? I didn't) and apparently halibut is not in season in October/November. The fish monger at my local Henry's told me if I could find fresh halibut (I don't like buying bags of frozen fish either. yuck) it would be crazy expensive, and then steered me towards the red snapper fillets. I didn't feel like piling up the charcoal and manning the grill, so I cooked the fish under the broiler-yum!

I loved the tomatillo salsa too. This was my first time trying a tomatillo and I will definitely be making this chunky salsa again soon.

Red Snapper with Tomatillo Salsa

Source: Adapted from
Kalyn's Kitchen
Printable Recipe

Ingredients for the fish
4 red snapper filets (about 1 pound total)
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chile powder
1/2 teaspoon Spike seasoning
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon fish rub

Directions for the fish
Turn the broiler on to high.

Combine all of the ingredients, except for the fish, in a small bowl and mix together.

Spray a piece of foil with non-stick spray and lay the fish on top. Rub the mixture over the tops of each piece of fish.

Broil for about 2-3 minutes per side, or until the fish is just cooked through and is flaky. Serve with the tomatillo salsa.

Salsa Ingredients
5 medium-large tomatillos, husks removed, chopped
one 3-ounce can diced green chiles (I used the fire roasted chiles)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup red onion, minced
1/2 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
1/3 cup lime juice, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon dried, crushed jalapeno (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

Salsa Directions
Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and toss. Refrigerate for 30-60 minutes to allow flavors to blend.

Toss again before serving.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

I recently posted about roasting pumpkins for homemade puree and mentioned setting the seeds aside for roasting. I love roasted pumpkin seeds; they remind me of carving Jack-O-Lanterns on the back porch as a kid in preparation for Halloween. We'd usually save the seeds and my mom would roast them in the oven for a yummy snack!

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Source: adapted from All Recipes

Printable Recipe

Pumpkin seeds (any type of pumpkin is fine)
1/2 Tablespoon butter per 2 cups of seeds

Heat your oven to 300 degrees.

Clean any pumpkin goop off of the seeds. Spread them out on a rimmed baking sheet and blot dry.

Melt the butter in the microwave and then pour over the pumpkin seeds. Stir with a spatula to evenly coat. Sprinkle liberally with salt. Stir again, then spread out into an even, single layer.

Roast in the oven for about 40-45 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes to ensure they are evenly browned.

Remove from the oven and let cool. Store in an airtight container.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Almond-Encrusted Chicken Nuggests

I recently began following the South Beach Diet, so I've been looking for recipes that fit in with those restrictions. I want to be as healthy as I can, so of course, I'm changing my eating habits. As a result, I won't be blogging many sweet treats or carb-heavy recipes anymore, since I'm not going to be eating them. I know, I know. We'll deal with this together though, ok? There might be some every now and then, but those treats will be quickly packed up for friends and co-workers to enjoy. :)

On the upside, I've lost 13 pounds in my first week of following the South Beach Diet!

So as I was searching for a tasty recipe that didn't contain carbs, sugars, or unhealthy fat, I found this homemade chicken nugget recipe. The almond meal (just grind up slivered almonds in your food processor) replaces bread crumbs to cut out the carbs and add in some healthy fats.

The husband and I both loved these nuggets and can't wait to eat them again. The few seasonings in the recipe pack quite a punch of flavor! The husband dipped his nuggets in BBQ sauce, while I ate mine plain; we both had oven-roasted broccoli and shallots on the side and felt quite satisfied when we were done eating.

Almond-Encrusted Chicken Nuggets
Kalyn's Kitchen
Printable Recipe


4-5 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (or 2 breasts)
1-2 Tablespoons olive oil (enough to coat the baking sheet)
3/4 cup almond meal (ground up almonds)
1 1/2 teaspoon paprika (not smoked or hot)
3/4 teaspon poultry seasoning
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Turn on your oven to 400 degrees. Brush a baking sheet with the olive oil and place the sheet in the oven while it preheats.

Trim all visible fat and tendons from the chicken, then cut each thigh into 4 or 5 nugget pieces of about equal size. You can use a mallet to pound out any nuggets that are too thick.

Combine the almond meal, paprika, poultry seasoning, salt, and pepper in a shallow bowl, or pie pan and mix together with a fork. Dip each nugget piece into the almond meal mixture, pressing onto the chicken with your fingers so the mixture coats the chicken. Coat all the nuggets before you remove the baking sheet from the oven.

Once each nugget is coated, lay them on the hot baking sheet and cook 8-10 minutes, or until the side touching the pan is lightly browned. Remove pan from oven, turn the nuggets, and bake another 10-12 minutes on the second side, until nuggets are lightly browned and cooked through. (Don't overcook.)

Serve hot, with mustard or ranch dipping sauce if desired. If you're not following South Beach or a low glycemic diet, dip them in whatever your heart desires! Just don't tell me about it. ;)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Herb-Marinated Sirloin Tip Steaks with Mushroom Sauce

Did you know I'm in grad school? Yep, I'm taking 12 units (3 classes) towards a Masters Degree in Education, while continuing to work as a full time teacher. I'm stressed and feel like I'm buried under homework, but I'm also really glad I decided to persue another degree. What does this all mean to you, my dear readers? Well, one, it answers the question of why I've been slacking on my blog; I'm not cooking as much, and when I am, it's usually nothing special.

I'm attending classes at Cal Poly Pomona, which has an excellent teacher preparation program, but it's really known as an engineering and agriculture school. They have a whole program dedicated to the meat sciences, including breaking down sides of beef and making their own sausages! If I could cram a few more hours into my day, I'd love to take some of those classes...and maybe some classes in the Restaurant and Hospitality program. And a photography course or two. Sorry, birdwalk.

Anyway, I recently decided to check out the campus farmstore after tasting the Meat Sciences original "Broncowurst" and discovered they sell free-range, grass-fed, organic cuts of beef. Ever since the husband and I watched Food Inc. we've eaten less red meat and have been interested in buying more humanely treated meat when we can, which isn't always easy to do. Well, here was a whole freezer section of meat that fit that criteria, so I grabbed a package of sirloin tip steaks and headed home.

A quick search on Google informed me that this is a tougher cut of meat, and isn't the same thing as a sirloin steak. The websites I looked over highly recommended marinating the cut for several hours before cooking to produce a more tender entree. I also cooked up a mushroom sauce to top the dish, which tasted very similar to the mushroom sauce at Henry's Pacific Grill. Yum.

The husband and I both loved this dinner and can't wait to make it again. The marinade was definitely the right way to go; the meat was tender and incredibly flavorful.

Herb-Marinated Sirloin Tip Steaks with Mushroom Sauce
Source: marinade adapted from Grass Fed Beef 101, Mushroom Sauce adapted from My Recipes
Printable Recipe

Marinade Ingredients
2 sirloin tip steaks (about 2 pounds total)
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup balsamic
2 cloves garlic minced
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon pepper
4 sprigs fresh rosemary, chopped
4 sprigs fresh thyme, chopped
1/2 teaspoon honey

Mushroom Sauce Ingredients
1 cup thinly sliced shallots (about 2 shallots)
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 pound baby bella mushrooms, stems removed, rinsed, thinly sliced
pinch salt
1 cup beef broth
1/3 cup dry white wine
1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 Tablespoon butter
1 cup green onions, minced

Combine all of the marinade ingredients, except for the beef, in a medium bowl and whisk together. Place the steaks in a glass bowl or pie pan and pour the marinade over the top. Cover with plastic wrap and marinated in the refrigerator for 4-6 hours, turning the mean occasionally.

Heat a non-stick pan over medium-high heat and spray with cooking spray. Sautee the shallots and garlic for 2 minutes, just until the shallots begin to soften and turn translucent. Add the mushrooms and sautee for 4 minutes. Sprinkle with salt after about two minutes.

Add the broth, wine, vinegar, and butter. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and simmer for 6 minutes. Sauce will reduce. Add in the minced green onions and cook another 2 minutes. Turn heat to low and keep warm while steaks cook.

Heat a broiler to high and line the broiler pan with foil. Spray with non-stick spray and set the marinated steaks on the foil. Discard the remaining marinade.

Broiler for 4 minutes, then flip steaks and broil for another 3-4 minutes, depending on your desired level of doneness.

Plate and spoon the mushroom sauce over the top. Serve immediately.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Homemade Pumpkin Puree

A few weeks ago I was earnestly awaiting fall. Never mind the 100+ degree temperatures we were still experiencing; I wanted to taste fall! The best way to satisfy a fall craving is with pumpkin treats, so I set out to the grocery store to pick up a can or too of pumpkin puree. Of course, the shelves were bare. Two years in a row of poor pumpkin crops led to two years of a pumpkin shortage. Even suppliers online were estimating shipping times upwards of 2 months!

Just as I was thinking about roasting pumpkins for my own pumpkin puree, Annie of Annie's Eats posted a tutorial on that very topic, taking all the guesswork out of it for me! By the time I got around to picking up some pie pumpkins, canned pumpkin puree was back on the shelves. However, I fancy myself a hippie of sorts, so I still wanted to give homemade pumpkin puree a try. Super easy, though a bit messy. If anyone out there has a baby, I bet this would make for some great homemade baby food too.

You can freeze your homemade pumpkin and save for the next time you're craving a homemade pumpkin treat. I used mine to make pumpkin cream cheese muffins....yum!

Homemade Pumpkin Puree
Source: Annie's Eats

Printable Recipe

Pie pumpkins

Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.

Using a sharp knife on a stable surface, slice each pumpkin in half lengthwise. I found their shells to be very hard, so be careful!

Scoop out all the pumpkin "guts" and seeds. Set aside if you want to make roasted pumpkin seeds, otherwise discard.

Place the pumpkin halves face down on a cookie sheet (be sure to use one with raised sides). Pour water onto the cookie sheet until it's about an inch or so deep. This will help steam the pumpkin flesh.

Bake the pumpkins for about 60-90 minutes, or until a fork can easily pierce through the shell. Let cool.

Drain the water off of the cookie sheet and discard. Scoop the roasted flesh out of the shells and into a food processor. Process until it is a smooth puree.

Line a mesh strainer with paper towels and set over a medium bowl. Scoop the pumpkin puree into the strainer and let sit for about an hour. This allows the excess liquid to drain out of the puree. Discard the liquid and store your pumpkin puree in a freezer-safe container. Freeze if you are not going to use in the next few days.
Note: I got about about 3 cups of pumpkin puree from two pie pumpkins.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Spicy Oven-Fried Chicken

I love browsing blogs and discovering new (to me) blogs during my down time. Seeing the creativity of others on the internet -- and not just in the food bloggosphere, but in the crafting, decorating, and other creative blogs as well -- inspires me to try new things, both inside the kitchen and out.

Recently while browsing through blogs and following links to other people's favorites, I found Everybody Loves Sandwiches. I just had to click on the link because, well, I love sandwiches! :) I was so excited to see what they had to offer and definitely was not disappointed with their plethora of posts. As I scrolled down through their older entries, I found the offering that sealed the deal for me; I added I Love Sandwiches to my list of favorites before I even finished reading.

What is it that could have me so smitten with a website, you ask? Oven-fried chicken. Wait, not just oven fried chicken, but SPICY oven-fried chicken. I love oven-fried chicken. Make that LOVE. It is so freaking good, and I always feel like I am cheating the evils of fat since oven-fried chicken doesn't even come close to a fryer. Add in a layer of spice, another foodie love of mine, and you had me at hello. (Ok, I abhor Rene Zellwegger, so I am really ashamed to have used that line. Also, abhor is one of the vocabulary words I taught my Language Arts Review students last week. Teaching them new vocabulary words makes me feel smarter. heh. However, as always, I digress.)

Where was I?? Oh yes, my love of oven-fried chicken and spicy foods. Add a spice component to oven-fried chicken and I've found my new favorite meal. This is also a healthy alternative to buffalo wings during Monday Night Football.

Don't be scared by the adjective spicy in this recipe though. We all know that the husband is a total wuss when it comes to spicy foods, yet, he loved this chicken as much as I and asked me to make it again soon. The spice comes through in the flavor without burning off your tastebuds. More of a daredevil in the heat department? You can easily up the amount of hot sauce and cayenne to set your mouth aflame.

Spicy Oven-Fried Chicken
Source: adapted from Everybody Loves Sandwiches

Printable Recipe

1 container plain non-fat Greek yogurt
1/4 cup skim milk
Juice & zest of 1 lime
3 Tablespoons hot wing sauce
2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon ground black pepper
5 chicken boneless chicken thighs

1 cup dry breadcrumbs (I used the herbed breadcrumbs)
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 Tablespoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

3 Tablespoons butter

Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees. Spray a baking dish with non-stick spray and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the first 8 ingredients (Greek yogurt through the pepper) and stir until smooth. Add the chicken to the mix and turn to coat. Let marinate for 15 to 30 minutes.

In a shallow pie pan, combine the breadcrumbs, flour, thyme, paprika and cayenne. Stir with a fork to combine.

Pick up one chicken thigh at a time and dredge in the breadcrumb mixture, coating both sides. Set the chicken in the baking dish and repeat with the remaining chicken thighs.

Dot the chicken with butter (don't skip this step, or your chicken won't come out with a crisp coating). Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

An Apple A Day

The calendar says fall, but here in sunny southern California, the temperatures still shout summer. Just yesterday, we hit record-breaking temperatures, including a scorching 111 degrees where I'm at! Not fun when you park on the wrong end of campus and have to walk about 2 miles from the parking lot to your class, followed by taking the stairs up to the 6th floor. yuck. It was still 97 degrees when my class ended at 7pm!

After an incredibly hot August, and now September, I'm ready for it to start feeling like fall, and I felt like an apple spice cake with a maple cream cheese frosting would be just the thing. When I was googling I came across Bakerella's Apple Cake Pops (which she made with chocolate cake) and *knew* I needed to combine the cake pops idea with the apple spice cake recipe for a fun fall treat!

With a 3 hour professional development training scheduled after an already long school day, my principal thought snacks might help the pain of staying at work until 6pm on a Monday night, so she asked me to bake up some cookies. But instead, I brought these apple cake pops!

Apple Cake Pops
Source: Cake and frosting from Eggs on Sunday
Cake Pop idea from Bakerella

Cake Ingredients
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 large eggs
2/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
2 tart apples, peeled and diced small

Cake Directions

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Butter and flour a 9 x 13" baking pan (Eggs on Sunday reccomends an 8" or 9" pan, but since I was making the cake into pops, I wasn't so concerned with a thick fluffy cake.).

In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (flour through salt). Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy, about 1 minute.

Gradually add the brown sugar and continue beating on medium-high speed until well blended and light, about 2 minutes.

Add the vanilla, then the eggs, one at a time. Beat well after adding each egg, and scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the yogurt, in two additions. Mix just until blended. Turn off the mixer, add the diced apple and stir by hand.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for about 30 minutes, until the top is light golden brown and a tester inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Let cool for about 5-10 minutes, then crumble the cake into a large bowl. Finish cooling the cake in the refrigerator while you make the frosting.

Frosting Ingredients

6 ounces cream cheese, softened
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
pinch ground nutmeg
pinch salt
1 Tablespoon pure maple syrup (NOT fake syrup! Spring for the real deal here)
1 cup confectioner's sugar

Frosting Directions
Using an electric mixer, beat together the cream cheese and butter on medium speed, until smooth.

Add the vanilla, maple syrup, spices and salt. Reduce the speed to low and add the confectioner’s sugar. Beat until well blended. Increase the speed to high, and beat until light and creamy, about 2 minutes.

Mix into the cooled, crumbled cake.

Cake Pop Materials

Lollipop sticks (I needed 2 bags. Buy them in the cake decorating section at Michaels)
Pretzel rods, ends broken off into about 1/4" pieces
Green sprinkles (I used small star-shaped sprinkles. Be creative!)

Making the Cake Pops

After mixing the frosting into the cake, being sure it is evenly combined, shape about 1-2 Tablespoons into balls, using your hands. I got about 40 or so cake balls out of this cake recipe.

Set the balls on a piece of wax or parchment paper and chill until firm, about 10-15 minutes in the refrigerator. Once the cake has firmed up, melt the candy melts in the microwave and stir until smooth. Dip the end of a lollipop stick into the melted candy and then gently push into the center of each cake ball.

That's a lot of cake pops!

Return to the refrigerator for another 5 to 10 minutes to allow the melted candy to firm up on the sticks.

Rewarm the melted candy in the microwave for about 15 seconds, stirring until smooth. Make sure the candy is completely melted and free of lumps. Gently dip the cake pops into the candy melt, completely covering each cake ball.

Gently lift the cake ball out of the melted candy and lightly tap off the excess. Stick the end of the lollipop stick into a thick block of styrafoam. Immediately, press the end of a pretzel stick into the top of each "apple" and add a green sprinkle. I found it was easiest to place the sprinkles with a pair of (clean!!) tweezers.

Let sit until the candy coating is completely dried and has firmed up.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

These pancakes are bananas! B-A-N-A-N-A-S!

Pancakes are the perfect weekend breakfast. Anytime the husband and I indulge in a stack of Sunday morning pancakes, it reminds me of the times my parents would surprise me with a weekend breakfast of banana pancakes. Though I usually ate mine hours after everyone else since I always slept in as late as I possibly could (I had to make up for all those days of early morning swim practice before school!).
Usually when the husband and I want pancakes, we just hop in the car and head to IHOP, but add in two side orders of hash browns, maybe a side of bisquits and gravy (with the gravy...on the side), and two beverages, and you've got a pretty pricey weekend breakfast. I don't know about you, but if I am going to drop $30 bucks on breakfast, I don't want to spend it at IHOP!
I've made homemade pancakes before, both from a mix and from scratch, so I know how easy it is, I just don't enjoy the mess I tend to make and the pile of dishes waiting for me once breakfast is eaten. But, I figured a holiday weekend called for a real homemade breakfast, so I pulled out the canister of flour, my tin of baking powder, and an incredibly ripe banana hidden away in the freezer. Add some cinnamon and nutmeg, drizzle with real maple syrup, and that's a breakfast I don't mind laboring over--pun intended :).

Note-I got a whole lotta pancakes out of this recipe--including one mishapen Darth Vader-cake--and we couldn't finish the entire stack. I wrapped the remaining five pancakes up and tossed them in the freezer; a quick nuke in the microwave and stint in the toaster, and voila, a quick weekday breakfast!

Cinnamon Banana Pancakes
Source: A Cooking in Cucamonga Original
Printable Recipe

2 cups AP flour
1 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
1 Tablespoon nutmeg
1 overripe banana, mashed (you want the black bananas that look gross...they have the best flavor!)
1 1/2 cups milk (I used half and half, since I was out of milk)
2 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce

Whisk together the first 5 ingredients in a large bowl. Set aside.

Combine the remaining ingredients in a second bowl. Slowly pour into the dry ingredients, stirring just until combined. The batter should be slightly lumpy.

Heat a pancake griddle or a large pan on the stovetop over medium high heat.

Spray your cooking surface lightly with non-stick spray. Ladle batter onto the griddle and cook until the edges are done and the middle of the pancake has several bubbles in the surface (about 2-3 minutes). Using a large spatula, flip the pancake and cook for another 1-2 minutes, until the pancakes is golden brown and the middle is cooked.

Serve immediately or keep warm in a 200 degree oven until the whole batch is cooked.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Spicy Black Bean Burgers

Here's an interesting factoid about black beans for you to chew on: You can cut your risk of heart attack by nearly 40% just by eating 3 ounces of black beans a sad (thank you Reader's Digest).
Not only that, but these little legumes are packed with fiber, antioxidants, and folate, as well as naturally low fat. Those benefits all add up to a healthy dining option.

But, eating a pile of plain black beans can get a bit boring. That's where black bean burgers make an appearance. Healthy, filing, and flavorful, these burgers make a great dinner and are easy to pack for lunch. Just add some sandwich thins and your favorite toppings and you're set! Just in time for back to school (well, really, back to work if you're me).

Spicy Black Bean Burgers

Source: Adapted from
Good Things Catered
Printable Recipe

1 large bell pepper, any color (I used red)
3 green onions, roots trimmed off
1 large clove garlic
2 (15 ounce) cans no salt black beans, rinsed well and drained
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon pepper
1/4-1/2 teaspoon salt (taste after mixing in the 1/4 teaspoon)
1 1/4 teaspoons sriracha (Spicy chili sauce)
1 egg
1/4 cup herbed bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Roughly chop the the bell pepper, green onions (use both the green and white parts) and garlic into large pieces. Combine them in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until minced.
In the bowl of a food processor, add onion, green pepper, carrot and garlic.

Remove the vegetables from the food processor bowl and place in fine mesh strainer to strain off excess liquid. Gently press the minced vegetables to help squeeze out the liquid.

Add the drained black beans to the food processor and pulse several times to mash the beans into a chunky paste.

Combine the minced vegetables and mashed beans in a large bowl. Add remaining ingredients and stir to completely combine.

Using your hands, shape the mixture into patties. Place each patty on the parchment paper. The mixture will be thick and goopy, but should hold it's shape easily.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until edges have crisped up and burgers are cooked through.

Remove from oven and serve. You can also freeze these burgers for future meals.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Cherry Almond Granola

Please ignore the terrible turquoise color cast in this picture. I didn't have a chance to edit it I am not very good at editing. :/

The husband loves sugary, kiddie cereals; His eyes light up when Cocoa Pebbles, Cap'n Crunch, and Lucky Charms go on sale at the grocery store, hoping that I'll throw a box or two in the cart. I, on the other hand, didn't eat those types of cereals growing up, so I never developed a taste for them. In fact, I think most sugary cereals are disgusting and hate buying them for the husband.

What I did eat as a kid was Cheerios, Rice Krispies, shredded wheat (not the frosted kind!), oatmeal and granola. Now as an adult, I don't have time to sit down for breakfast, so I usually eat in my car while I drive to work or I eat in the teacher's lounge once I finally get there, so I like food that is easily portable and doesn't require a lot of dishes or utensils. One of my favorite breakfasts is granola stirred into low-fat or Greek yogurt.

My inner hippie wanted to try her hand at making homemade granola; I scoured the internet looking for recipes and found a ton! Eventually, I decided to just use the basic ideas from two different recipes, and add in the flavors I wanted, creating my own Cherry Almond Granola.

Cherry Almond Granola
Source: inspired by Annie's Eats and Alton Brown, among others
Printable Recipe

3 cups rolled oats
2 cups puffed rice cereal
1 1/4 cups dried cherries
1 cup shredded sweetened coconut
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup plus 3 Tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 teaspoon almond extract
3/4 teaspoon salt

Pre-heat the oven to 250 degrees.

Combine the oats, rice cereal, cherries, coconut, and almonds in a large bowl. Stir to combine.

In a smaller bowl, combine the remaining ingredients.

Pour the wet ingredient mixture over the dry ingredients and stir to combine, ensuring the oat mixture is evenly coated.

Pour the granola onto two baking sheets (I lined mine with parchment to make cleanup easy), spreading into an even layer on each sheet.

Cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes, or until nearly dried. Rotate the baking sheets from top to bottom every time you stir, as well, to ensure they both cook evenly.

Cool in the pan for about 15 minutes, then transfer to an airtight container or ziplock bag.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Tequila Chicken Burgers

I was recently searching for some black bean burger recipes when I found this chicken burger recipe on Cara's Cravings. I love this blog because she keeps her focus on healthy, flavorful food and I have yet to be dissapointed with anything I've tried. So when I saw these burgers I decided to put the black bean burgers on the back burner for a bit and make these instead.

The husband and I were both really happy with the way they turned out as well, though I think next time I might add a bit more salt and some dried crushed jalapeno (or some of the jalapeno ribs ans seeds) for a touch more heat. The burgers were incredibly moist and filling and they were a great way to use chicken without tasting boring.

I'm thinking about making a big batch of these burgers, then freezing them individually for quick weeknight dinners, or easy-to-grab lunches, once the school year starts up again, especially once my Masters program begins at the end of September.

Tequila Chicken Burgers
Source: adapted from Cara's Cravings

Printable Recipe


4-5 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, ribs and seeds removed, roughly chopped
4 green onions, roughly chopped
zest of 1 lime
juice of 1 lime
dash of lite soy sauce
1 shot tequila
freshly ground salt & pepper
1/4 cup plain oatmeal

Turn on the broiler to High. Spray a sheet of foil with non-stick spray and set aside.

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and process until chicken is ground.

Form into 4 uniform patties. Set each patty on the foil and broil for 10-12 minutes, flipping over halfway through.

I served my burgers on sandwich thins with tomato slices and Dijon mustard.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Chicken and Basil Stir Fry

This is the second summer I've planted a little container garden on my patio. We don't have much: a tomato plant, a dying crook-neck squash plant, a Meyer lemon tree, and two boxes of herbs, including basil, oregano, sage, rosemary and thyme.

I planted in June rather than April or May this year, and we had really cool weather this spring and early summer, so most of my plants haven't been too prolific this year in their offerings. In fact, my basil plant was yellowy, with only a few bug-eaten leaves for most of the summer.

But then the heat hit in mid-July and all of a sudden it's like someone transplanted a new basil plant into my garden over night. The leaves are large, vibrantly green, and sweetly fragrant. I have to keep on top of it daily now to stop it from flowering.

Other than the usual pesto, I wasn't sure what I wanted to make with all my basil (though I've been dreaming about basil ice cream), until I came across a recipe for Chicken and Basil Stir Fry. I made a few minor changes, including adding broccoli (the husband's fav stiry fry ingredient), crushed dried jalapeno and salt and pepper and upping the amount of basil. Overall this was a good dish, though I would have preferred it to be a bit more spicy and the sauce a bit thicker, though I did double the sauce ingredients (which is reflected below).

Chicken and Basil Stir Fry
Source: Adapted from Casual.Concotions
Printable Recipe

3/4 cup chicken broth
4 Tablespoons fish sauce
4 teaspoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon cornstarch
2 Tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
2 large red bell peppers, seeded and cut into large chunks
1 small head of broccoli, cut up
1 small zucchini, halved lengthwise and cut into wedges
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and cut into small pieces
2 cloves minced garlic
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 cup chopped fresh basil, plus additional for garnish
3 green onions, chopped
1/4 teaspoon crushed dried jalapeno, optional (you can sub cayenne)


In a small bowl, whisk together the chicken broth, fish sauce, ginger and brown sugar. Add the corn starch and whisk until cornstarch and sugar is dissolved. Set aside.

In a wok heat the oil over high heat until it is hot. Add the bell peppers and zucchini and stir fry for 1 minute. Add jalapeno and garlic and stir fry until fragrant, about 20-30 seconds.

Add the chicken and stir fry until chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes.

Stir in basil and green onions and stir-fry until the green onions are just wilted.

Whisk the sauce mixture in bowl again and pour into pan. Cook until the liquid comes to a boil and thickens slightly.

Serve over rice, if desired.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Pomegranate Semifreddo and Blueberry Sorbet Bars

First off, I apologize for the long delay in posting!! My laptop was at the Apple store, undergoing repairs for the past several days, and since all my pictures are stored on my laptop, I couldn't post. Also, I recently decided to delete a TON of pictures out of my iPhoto application, hoping it would help speed up my slooooooow computer. In my purging, I deleted photos of several dishes I had not yet blogged....and iPhoto was the only place I'd stored those particular photos. *sigh* That is just like when I decide to clean my house and then throw away, or otherwise misplace, papers that I actually need.

Ok, without further ado, the creamy deliciousness that is pomegranate semifreddo and blueberry sorbet. Another blogger made a similar creation, using completely different flavors recently, adapted from a recipe in Gourmet. I instantly looked up the original Gourmet recipe and decided with my flavor changes, this would be a great dessert for my dad's birthday dinner. He loves blueberry desserts, but I didn't want to make something ordinary, like a pie, so I set out to make this cool concoction.

Semifreddo is Italian for half-cold and refers to any chilled or frozen desserts, including cakes, pies, ice cream, and custards (thank you Google and Epicurious!). The semifreddo in this dessert is a frozen creamy delight, not really ice cream, but not a custard either. I just called it yum.

When freezing your dessert, make sure your pan or container lies flat in the freezer or the contents will slide, making for an uneven, though still deliciously edible, dessert. I used frozen blueberries for the sorbet, as that's what I had on hand, but I bet this would be even better with fresh! Also, the sorbet in this dessert is modified from the blueberry sorbet I made previously; either one would work well here.

I'd recommend making this a day in advance in order to give it enough time to fully freeze; I made mine just a few hours before my parents came over for dinner and it wasn't fully set once it was time for dessert. We ate it anyway, but I would've liked it to have been perfectly ready.

What flavor combination would you use for this dessert?

Pomegranate Semifreddo and Blueberry Sorbet Bars
Source: Semifreddo adapted from
Gourmet, Blueberry Sorbet adapted from The Perfect Scoop
Printable Recipe

Blueberry Sorbet Ingredients
4 cups blueberries
1 cup water
1/3 cup sugar + 1-2 Tablespoons sugar
1/2 Tablespoon Limencello

Semifreddo Ingredients
(14-oz) can sweetened condensed milk
1 Tablespoon lime juice
1/2 cup pomegranate juice
cup chilled heavy cream
blueberries and/or pomegranate seeds for garnish, optional
Sorbet Directions
Line a 9 X 9 pan with plastic wrap.

Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.

Strain the mixture to remove the skins and seeds (you definitely want to do this unless you want all your guests to wind up with blueberry stuck in their teeth!).

Freeze in your ice cream maker, following manufacturer's directions.

Smooth into the 9 x 9 pan and place in the freezer, ensuring it is on a level surface.

Semifreddo Directions
Whisk together condensed milk, lime juice, and pomegranate juice.

Beat the chilled cream until it just holds stiff peaks, then gently fold into the condensed-milk mixture.

Spread over the blueberry sorbet, smoothing the top. Freeze until solid, at least 2 hours, ensuring the pan is on a level surface in your freezer.

Cut into bars and garnish with fresh blueberries and/or pomegranate seeds, if desired. Keep remaining portions in the freezer.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Guacamole Salad

The husband and I recently invited my parents over to celebrate my dad's 65th birthday. All 4 of us a big fans of babyback ribs, so I immediately planned to BBQ 3 racks of ribs as the main course. But when it came to the sides, I wasn't sure.

I didn't want to go the traditional route of corn and potato salad, so I kept browsing recipes until I hit upon this guacamole salad. I knew it would be the perfect pairing to our ribs. It was really really good! I bought my avocados a few days before making the salad in order to give them time to get ripe; they were perfectly smooth and creamy, with that faint bacon-y taste that Hass avocados sometimes have.

I added a roasted passilla pepper to the mix to give everything a smokey flavor and tie the salad into the main course. I loved the way the whole things turned out and even at a bowl of the leftovers for lunch the next day.

Guacamole Salad
Source: adapted from Pink Parsley
Printable Recipe


1 passilla pepper
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, quartered
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and cut into large chunks
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
4 green onions, white and green parts thinly sliced
1 jalepeno, seeded, minced
zest of one lime
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon ground dried jalapeno (you can sub cayenne)
2 ripe Hass avocados, cut into large chunks


Roast a passilla pepper until the skin is blackened. (I roast mine over the flame on the stove). Let the pepper cool, then peel off and discard all of the charred skin. Deseed the pepper and cut it into large chunks.

Combine the first 7 ingredients, including the roasted pepper, in a large bowl.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the lime juice, olve oil, salt, pepper, and dried jalapeno. Pour this dressing over the salad and gently toss, coating all of the vegetables.

Add the avocado just before serving.

Toss and taste before serving; you may want to add a bit more salt at this point.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Blueberry Sorbet

I was craving a sweet treat recently, but didn't want to indulge in the full fat ice cream I usually make. I opened the freezer to see what I had on hand and saw several bags of frozen fruit: strawberries, cherries, blueberries, and mixed berries. I know, I know, we're in the thick of summer and all of those are summer fruits. But I didn't want to go to the store to pick up fresh fruit, so I stuck with the frozen, which is picked at the height of ripeness anyway, so it makes a fine substitute.

Anyway, I digress. Looking at the big bag of frozen blueberries I decided to go with a blueberry sorbet, and of course, turned to my ice cream bible, The Perfect Scoop. Alas, the tome doesn't include a blueberry sorbet recipe, but it does have a simple blackberry sorbet that I decided to modify, using the ingredients I had on hand. The original recipe calls for fresh lemon juice to help contrast the sweet flavor of the fruit, but I was out of lemons. So I used vodka. Ok, ok, I know what you're saying. Vodka is not acidic like lemon juice, but I was going to use it anyway, since the alcohol content helps keep the sorbet from freezing rock hard.

The only thing I wish I had done differently was cut the sugar down a bit; blueberries are naturlly sweeter than blackberries, so I didn't need to use the same amount of sugar as called for in the original recipe. Oh well, live and learn, right? The final result wasn't TOO sweet, but I think it would be better with a bit more tartness. Which the lemon would have provided. :)

Blueberry Sorbet
Source: Adapted from The Perfect Scoop
Printable Recipe

4 cups blueberries
1 cup water
2/3 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon vodka

Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.

You can strain the mixture if you want a completely smooth sorbet, but I left mine unstrained.

Freeze in your ice cream maker, following manufacturer's directions.

Transfer to a storage container and store in your freezer.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Chicken and Mushroms in a White Wine Sauce

Summer break is a great perk of teaching. After waking up at 6am all school year, I relish sleeping in until 9am every morning. Even then, I set my alarm or I'd easily sleep much much later.

Once I finally do roll out of bed, I usually settle into the couch with my laptop and check out my favorite websites, one of which is Annie's Eats. She always has such beautiful pictures, so even if I'm not too interested in the recipe I love seeing her photography.

I haven't blogged too much this summer, mainly because the husband and I have been eating a lot of stuff that I've made several times before. I feel like we often find a new dish we love, but then never eat it again because I want to make something new to feature on my blog. But then a few days ago, Annie's Eats posted a recipe for Chicken and Artichokes in White Whine Sauce, served over rice, that looked especially good. A quick browse through the recipe and I saw I had nearly all of the ingredients, except for the artichokes, and that it wouldn't take too long to make, so I quickly decided to cook it for dinner that night.

I didn't want to run out to the store, so I just omitted the artichokes, and I used two large portabella mushrooms, rather than the baby bellas the original recipe called for. I also doubled the sauce ingredients, as I planned to serve the chicken over fettucini instead of rice. And my last change was using 5 or 6 boneless chicken thighs in place of the breasts; that was an unintentional change (I thought I grabbed breasts from the freezer), but the results were great.

I loved this dish, though the husband thought it was just ok. He felt like the wine flavor was too pronounced, but I disagree. I felt like it was a good balance of flavors, though I did add a sprinkle more salt at the table.
Chicken and Mushrooms in a White Wine Sauce

Source: adapted from Annie's Eats

Printable Recipe

2 servings dried fettucini noodles
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons herbes de provence
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
5-6 small, boneless skinless chicken thighs, sliced in half lengthwise
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons butter
2 portabella mushrooms, quartered, then sliced
2/3 cup dry white wine
2/3 cup chicken broth
Grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

Bring a large stockpot of water to boil on the stove. Once the water comes to a boil, add the fettucini noodles and cook until they are al dente, about 12-13 minutes.

In a pie plate or shallow dish, combine the flour, herbs de provence, salt and pepper and stir with a fork to blend. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the flour mixture.

Coat the chicken thighs in the flour, shaking off the excess.

Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken to the pan and cook until golden brown and cooked through, about 8-10 minutes, turning halfway through cooking. Remove the chicken to a plate; cover and keep warm.

Add the butter to the same skillet and warm until melted. Add the mushrooms and cook until most of the liquid is released from the mushrooms and they are tender, about 5 minutes.

In a liquid measuring cup, combine the white wine, chicken broth, and reserved tablespoons of flour; whisk until smooth. Add the mixture to the skillet, cooking until it is warm and slightly thickened.

Return the chicken to the pan to warm through and cover with sauce. Serve the chicken over fettucini with sauce spooned over the top, and garnish with grated Parmesan as desired.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Jalapeno Cheddar Sandwich Bread

As soon as I saw this recipe for Jalapeno Cheddar Bread, I knew I needed to make it. I went out to the grocery store that day and bought the few ingredients I was missing and got to work right away. The smell of the cheddar and jalapenos permeating the air made turning my oven on (twice!) during a 100+ degree day totally worth it.

This is not the same kind of jalapeno cheddar bread you'll find in the bakery section of the grocery store. This is a loaf of bread intended to be sliced up for sandwiches, not the round hunk covered in melted cheddar and jalapeno slices.

As soon as this was cool enough to cut into, I started slicing chunks off to eat, warm and soft. Slathered with soft butter, or even plain, this bread is so good, that I haven't even tried making sandwiches with it yet!

Next time I might add some dried crushed jalapeno to add a bit more spice to the bread. I'd also knead in more cheese, creating pockets of cheddar throughout the bread. I felt like the cheese was too mixed into the dough, though since I didn't use a sharp cheddar, my opinion may be skewed. Overall, I loved this bread and plan to make it again and again; it will definitely liven up my workweek sandwiches this year!

Jalapeno Cheddar Sandwich Bread
Source: Pink Parsley

Printable Recipe

3 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup cold buttermilk (I used regular milk and added some vinegar)
1/3 cup water
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3 Tablespoons honey
2 1/4 teaspoons yeast (1 envelope)
4 small jalapenos, seeds and ribs removed, diced
1 1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese

Adjust one oven rack to the lowest position, and another to the middle position. Heat the oven to 200 degrees. When it is preheated, maintain the temperature for 10 minutes, then turn off the oven.

Toss the jalapeno and 1 cup of the cheddar with 1 Tablespoon of flour in a small bowl.

Bring the water to a boil in a small saucepan. Remove from heat and add the cold buttermilk and stir to combine.

Mix 3 1/2 cups of the flour and the salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook.

Add the buttermilk/water mixture, butter, honey, and yeast to a liquid measuring cup. Turn the mixer on low, and add the liquid in a slow stream, increasing the speed of the mixer as you go to medium. Continue mixing until the dough is smooth and satiny, stopping to scrape the dough from the hook as needed.

After about 2-3 minutes add the jalapeno-cheese mixture, and continue to knead about 10 minutes total, adding the remaining flour 1 Tablespoon at a time, as necessary to keep the dough from sticking to the sides of the bowl.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead to form a smooth ball, about 15 seconds. Knead in the remaining 1/2 cup cheese to create pockets of cheddar in the bread.

Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, rubbing the dough around the bowl to coat with the oil. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and place the bowl in the oven until the dough doubles in size, 50-60 minutes.

Turn out onto the floured surface and gently press the dough into a rectangle that is 1 inch thick and 9 inches long. With the long side facing you, roll the dough firmly into a cylinder, pressing with your fingers as you roll to make sure the dough sticks to itself. Turn the dough seam-side up and pinch it closed.

Place the dough seam-side down in a greased 9x5 inch loaf pan, and press it gently to make sure it touches all four sides of the pan. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and allow to rise in a warm spot until the dough almost doubles in size, 20-30 minutes (Note: I placed my dough in the garage to rise on a hot day, cutting the rising time in half).

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place an empty baking pan on the lowest rack of the oven. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil and pour into the empty pan. Set the loaf onto the middle rack, and bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the loaf reads 195 degrees, about 40-50 minutes.

Remove the bread from the pan and cool to room temperature on a wire rack. Slice and serve.


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