Monday, April 27, 2009

Simple Thai Chicken

Truth be told, I'm not always honest with my children. Tonight I described this as "chicken, beanies and rice" knowing that there were no green beans and I did not offer up the Thai description. My youngest would hear that and run for the hills. Sometimes nutrition trumps honesty. I serve this with jasmine rice. It's probably not entirely pure Thai but call it what you will, it's good and that's the truth.

Thai Chicken

2-3 Tbls. peanut or vegetable oil
1 1-inch piece ginger root - grated with micro plane
3 garlic cloves - minced
1 lbs. boneless chicken breasts or tenderloins - cut into 1-inch pieces
1 small bunch fresh or frozen asparagus
1 1/2 cups frozen peas
1 can light unsweetened coconut milk
1 1/2 Tbls. Thai fish sauce
1 Tbls. Thai red curry paste

In large non-stick skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken and saute for about 5-6 minutes or until almost cooked through. Add ginger and garlic and saute for 1 minute until fragrant. Add asparagus and cook for another few minutes until tender. Add coconut milk, fish sauce, curry paste stirring to combine. Add frozen peas and heat a few minutes until everything is combined and warm. Serve over jasmine rice.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Chocolate-Covered Cherry Cake

I have very fond memories of chocolate-covered cherries. My grandmother loved them and whenever she was ill or just needed a pick me up, I'd try to pick some up. Well, that or coconut bars from Davis Bakery. Anyway, I digress. This cake is great made in a 9x13 pan for ease and is a nice addition to a potluck.

Chocolate-Covered Cherry Cake

1 pkg. plain devil’s food cake mix or devil’s food mix
1 can 21 oz. cherry pie filling
2 large eggs
1 tsp. pure almond extract

Chocolate Glaze:
1 c. sugar
1/3 c. butter
1/3 c. milk
1 pkg. (6 oz.; 1 cup) semisweet chocolate chips

Place rack in the center of the oven & preheat to 350. Spray 13” x 9” pan. Place cake mix, cherry pie filling, eggs & almond extract in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed for 1 min. Stop the mixer & scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Increase the mixer speed to 2 min. more, scraping the sides down again if needed. The batter should look thick & & well blended. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top with the rubber spatula.

Bake the cake until it springs back when lightly pressed with your finger & just starts to pull away from the sides of the pan, 30-35 min. or longer. Remove the pan from the oven & place it on a wire rack while you prepare the glaze.

For the glaze, place the sugar, butter & milk in a small saucepan over medium-low heat & cook. Stirring constantly, until the mixture comes to a boil. Boil, stirring constantly, for 1 min. Remove from heat & stir in the chocolate chips. When the chips have melted & the glaze is smooth, pour it over the warm cake so that it covers the entire cake. The glaze will be thin but will firm up. Cool the cake for 20 min. more before cutting it into squares & serving.

Store the cake, covered in aluminum foil, at room temp for up to 5 days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Or freeze the cake, wrapped in foil, for up to 6 mo. Thaw the cake overnight on the counter before serving.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Enchilada Casserole

Melted cheese and beefy goodness filled my kitchen last night and this dish was a great way to end a hectic weekend. After devouring her entire plate, Olivia declared that the recipe was a keeper and I have to agree. It's like a Mexican lasagna that really sticks to the ribs. I bet you could improvise with any assortment of southwestern ingredients for a more personalized taste.

Enchilada Casserole

1 lb. lean ground beef or you can use ground turkey
1 lg. onion chopped
2 c. salsa
1 15 oz. can black beans, drained
1 can corn, drained
¼ c. reduced-fat Italian dressing
2 T. reduced-sodium taco seasoning
¼ t. ground cumin
Six 8-inch flour tortillas
1 c. reduced-fat sour cream
2 c. shredded Mexican cheese blend (or some combination of cheddar & pepper jack cheese shredded)
1. shredded lettuce
1 medium tomato chpd.
¼ c. minced cilantro

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray. In a large skillet, over medium heat, sauté the beef & onions until the meat is no longer pink.

Drain the meat, then stir in the salsa, beans, corn, salad dressing, taco seasoning seasoning & cumin.

Arrange 3-4 tortillas in the prepared baking dish to cover the bottom. Spread half of the meat mixture over the tortillas, then top with half each of the sour cream & cheese. Top with the remaining tortillas, then repeat the layering with remaining meat, sour cream & cheese. I just layered as many layers as I could!

Cover & bake for 25 min. Uncover & bake for another 5-10 min., until heated through.
Let stand for 5 min. before topping with lettuce, tomato & cilantro. Take that Taco Bell!!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Corn & Black Bean Salad/Dip

This salad/dip is probably the very first recipe I ever passed to a friend. It's crazy easy with simple, clean flavors and it always a hit. I can make this in five minutes flat from memory. It's terrific as a dip or as a salad on the side of any Southwest entree. I tend to add the tomatoes when I serve it as a dip with scoop corn or tortilla chips but forgo the tomatoes when I serve as a salad. No reason, I just do. When the warm weather hits, this becomes a staple at cookouts all summer.

Corn & Black Bean Salad

2 cans black beans - drained and rinsed
2 cans corn - drained (I use the mixed white and yellow variety)
1/2 red onion - finely chopped (depending on how large or strong your onion is, you may want a but less)
3-4 Roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped or 1 can petite-diced tomatoes, drained
1 - 2 Tbls. ground cumin
1 - 2 Tbls. ground chili powder
2 Tbls. olive oil
juice of 1 - 2 limes
salt/pepper to taste
1/2 bunch of cilantro - chopped

Mix it all together in whatever order makes sense to you! Let sit at room temperature for an hour or so for flavors to blend. You may want to reserve adding the cilantro until the end to preserve color and freshness. Enjoy!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Breakfast of Champions

My work/home life balance seems to be teetering on extinction for the past week and I've realized that I've been dashing out the door in the morning without breakfast. I know, I know....studies show this a big no-no. Maybe if I whip up this crockpot favorite, I'd be enticed to sit a minute and eat! It’s easy peasy in the crock pot but you may want to get the plastic liners they now sell for crock pots because it does have a tendency to stick. I’ve always doubled and even tripled the recipe since it’s only one cup of oats and it goes fast! If I'd eat breakfast then maybe I'd get my creative juices flowing and add different fruits.

Overnight Oatmeal

¼ c. brown sugar – I use less
1 Tbls. melted butter
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. cinnamon
1 c. quick-cooking oats (uncooked)
1 c. apple, peeled and diced
½ raisins or craisins
½ c. chopped nuts
2 c. milk

Place ingredients in a greased (or lined) slow cooker, mix well and cover. Cook on low setting for 8 -9 hours. You can play around with the amount of sugar and fruit. Pears would also work well. Enjoy!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Hot Stuff

I had a roommate in college that put mustard on all her food. She claimed the mustard helped to speed up her metabolism so nothing was spared. Chips, salsa and mustard. Spaghetti, marinara and mustard. Popcorn and get the idea. After living with mustard freak, I've never been a huge mustard fan but this spicy mustard is a keeper. It's a homemade hot mustard that's great as a dip for pretzels, or on sandwiches, etc. I'm already thinking my friends and family may be getting this as a holiday treat!

Best Homemade Mustard

One 4-oz can dry mustard (such as Coleman's dry mustard)
3 large eggs at room temperature
1 cup cider vinegar
1 cup sugar

Combine all ingredients in a medium-size, heavy-bottomed saucepan over low heat. Cook for 8 minutes stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until thickened. Do not let mixture come to a boil. Cool to room temperature and transfer to jars. Will last in the fridge for several months.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Always Perfect Salad Dressing

Anyone who knows me can attest that I have a fear of old food. I toss anything suspect and was never one defrost a roast on a counter or eat a cheese cube that's lingered at a party too long. I'm just fickle so imagine my shock when my mother pulled out homemade salad dressing from the pantry in an old mason jar. I panicked. Only after she showed me the actual recipe did I trust that it was shelf stable and safe. Boy, it's safe and good. I'll be making this in place of cloying bottled dressings from now on!

My New Favorite Salad Dressing

3/4 c. olive oil
1/4 good quality red wine vinegar
1 tsp. dry mustard
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
4 garlic cloves - just smashed with a knife

Put all ingredients in a jar with tight-fitting lid and shake. Don't refrigerate because the flavor is much better at room temp. Will keep for weeks in the cupboard - if it lasts that long!