Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Roasted Tomato Salsa

So the other day I mentioned that I had officially found the "BEST, EASIEST SALSA EVER!!".  Well, the wait is over people.  This is it.  Now I know I just posted a salsa recipe but there's some competition in town and it involves a broiler.  The chunky consistency of the other recipe is perfect for topping dishes like Huevos Rancheros and Tacos, but this one is thinner and the ultimate choice when it comes to chip-dipping.

So the reason I HAVE to post this recipe ASAP is because it is so incredibly good everyone MUST make it.  So easy and consists solely of produce (except 1 measly teaspoon of salt).  Just broil your tomatoes, jalapenos, onion, and garlic, toss them in the food processor, then stir in some lime juice and cilantro and viola!  The best salsa you've ever had.  Promise.  Make it.  Try it.  Let me know what you think :)

Roasted Tomato Salsa

1 pound roma tomatoes, halved
1 teaspoon Kosher salt, plus more to taste
1 medium jalapeño pepper
2 medium cloves garlic
1/2 medium white onion, peeled and quartered
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice (about 1/2 a lime)

Preheat broiler. Place tomatoes, cut side up, on a rimmed baking sheet and sprinkle evenly with 1 teaspoon salt. Add jalapeño, garlic, and onion to baking sheet. Place baking sheet in broiler and cook until tomatoes, jalapeños, garlic, and onion have slightly blackened, about 20 minutes, flipping jalapeño and garlic half way through. Remove from broiler and let sit until cool enough to handle, about 10 minutes.

Stem and seed jalapeño and peel garlic. Transfer tomatoes, jalapeño, garlic, and onion to the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Pulse until mixture is finely chopped.

Transfer to a medium bowl. Stir in cilantro and lime juice. Season with salt to taste. Let rest in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before serving. Store in an airtight container up to a week.

Adapted from Serious Eats.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Bits and Bites

** First and foremost, I want to announce that I have finally created my recipe archives!!  Check it out!

1.  I currently have this written on the top of a NEW salsa recipe I recently made.  Stay tuned this week to find out what deserved such rave reviews.

2.  Speaking of salsa and my love for all things tomato, I eat my grilled cheese by dunking each bite in ketchup.  May be weird but omgsogood.  Try it.

3.  I have decided to jump on the Hunger Games bandwagon and finally realize what I have been missing!  Crazy good book and need to see the movie asap!!

4.  Yes I own I rather large bag of flour.  And yes that says 25 pounds :)

5.  So I did in fact end up doing a little shopping over the holiday weekend.  I'm a sucker for a cute pair of earrings.

6.  And since we're talking about cute stuff.  I own the cutest puppy in the world and thought you should know.  She's the most photogenic little lady I know.

Have a great Memorial Day!!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Strawberry Loaf Poke Cake

This is your Memorial Day dessert. 

I knew I wanted to make something red, white and blue for the weekend and I brainstormed for something other than the patriotic berry-lined flag cake.  After giving some thought and browsing through my "to-make recipe collection", I stumbled across a recipe for Strawberry Loaf Cake.  Sounded pretty good, but I needed some blue.  I then remembered how I used to make a lot of poke cakes for a catering company I worked for (typically you bake a white cake, poke holes all over the top as soon as it comes out of the oven, then pour a mixture of jello-flavored hot water over it allowing the juices to seep down into the cake, and finish it off with some coolwhip).  Bingo.  This was going to be a twist on the tried and true poke cake. 

I came across some berry blue jello, grabbed a carton of whipped topping and set about my plan.  Fingers were crossed it came out like I had envisioned.  Lucky for me it did!  The red strawberries and blue jello kept their distinct colors in the bread (I was afraid they might bleed together and turn the whole thing purple!) and the juices made the loaf incredibly moist.  It was a winner!

Strawberry Loaf Poke Cake

Makes one 9x5 loaf

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup fresh strawberries, chopped
1 cup water
1.5 ounces berry blue jello

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan.

Combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, salt and baking soda in large bowl: mix well. Blend oil and eggs into strawberries. Add strawberry mixture to flour mixture, blending until dry ingredients are just moistened.  Pour batter into prepared loaf pan.

Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until tester inserted comes out clean.  Meanwhile, heat up water until hot and almost boiling.  Pour jello powder into water and stir until dissolved.  Once loaf is removed from oven, gently poke holes over the top using a knife or fork and pour gelatin over cake.  Let rest in pan on wire rack until completely cooled.  Store leftovers in the fridge.

Adapted from AllRecipes.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Green Chili Chicken Burgers

Soooo...Memorial Day is this weekend and that means three things...
(1) Sales!  I intend to buy us a new bed.  May not be as exciting as clothes but I'm pretty pumped :) 
(2) A nice long weekend (and it's going to be a beautiful one down here in Texas)
and (3) BURGERS!

Yep, I'm betting that the majority of America will be firing up their grills at some point over those three days and while beef patties and brats are typically consumed, why not mix things up a bit and toss on some chicken patties as well?  Chicken patties stuffed with monterey jack and chilis.  And then topped with more monterey jack and chilis.  Needless to say, we devoured these within minutes.

Green Chili Chicken Burgers

Makes 4 burgers

1 pound ground chicken
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
2 (4 ounce) cans of diced green chilis
2.5 ounces of monterey jack cheese, cut into tiny cubes + more for topping
1/2 tablespoon honey
juice of half a lime

Preheat your grill or heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. In a bowl, combine chicken, oil, salt, pepper, onion powder, cumin, garlic, cheese cubes and 1/2 a can of green chilis. Mix until just combined, then divide into four sections and form into four patties. Place on grill or skillet and cook on each side until golden and cooked through, about 2-3 minutes per side. Once you flip the burgers, add additional cheese on top to melt.

While the burgers are cooking, toast buns if desired and combine remaining green chilis in a bowl with honey, lime juice, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.

When ready to serve, spoon green chilis on top of cheeseburgers and eat!

Adapted from How Sweet It Is.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Berry Cheesecake Muffins

I had other plans for the cream cheese I bought last weekend.  However, plans changed and muffins were made.  I love muffins.  I love that they can be sweet or savory.  I love that they can be incorporated into almost any meal- breakfast (cake for breakfast), as a side, as a snack, or for dessert (a healthy cupcake!).

What do I love about these muffins in particular?  I love that they are half cake, half cheesecake filled with lots of berries that pop in your mouth.  I love that they are good warm straight from the oven or cold straight from the fridge.  Oh, and I love that they are kinda pretty :)

So yea, I made these muffins and I guess you now know to expect something else with cream cheese in the near future...

Berry Cheesecake Muffins

Makes 14 muffins

1/3 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Cream Cheese Filling
6 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
3/4 cup fresh raspberries
3/4 cup fresh blueberries

Streusel Topping
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon. ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon butter, cold

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in milk. Combine the flour, baking powder and cinnamon; gradually add to creamed mixture just until moistened. Fill greased or paper lined muffin cups one-third full.
For filling, in a small bowl, beat the cream cheese, sugar and egg until smooth. Fold in the berries. Drop a rounded tablespoonful into the center of each muffin.

For topping, combine the flour, brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl; cut in butter until crumbly. Sprinkle over batter. (Muffin cups will be full)
Bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks. Serve warm. Refrigerate leftovers.

Adapted from Chef In Training.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Huevos Rancheros

This recipe is the reason I made salsa.  Well, that and it was our Cinco de Mayo meal.  Oh, and because I love mexican and something about this recipe was screaming my name.

I have never had huevos rancheros, much less given any thought to ever even trying it; however, after receiving a blog email shortly before May 5th, I was intrigued by this unique mexican dish.  Typically eaten for breakfast or brunch, we choose to have this for dinner instead.  It may seem like a fairly simple and unflavorful dish, but it is quite the contrary.  The beans have a ton of flavor, the eggs are salted and perfectly runny, and homemade salsa is strongly recommended as store bought usually doesn't compare.  Try it with the fresh salsa I posted last week and you are sure to enjoy it as much as we did. 

Huevos Rancheros

This served the two of us.

1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
Juice of half a lime
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2-3 tablespoons chicken or vegetable broth (optional)
1 tablespoon butter
4 (6-inch) tortillas
2 large eggs

To serve:
Shredded cheese, such as pepper jack, white cheddar, or monterey jack
Fresh salsa
Sour cream
Sliced avocado

In the bowl of a food processor, combine half of the black beans, lime juice, cumin, cayenne, and salt.  Process until smooth.  If necessary, add broth 1 tablespoon at a time to achieve an even consistency.  Transfer the mixture to a small saucepan and mix in the remaining beans.  Heat the mixture until warmed through.

In a large non-stick skillet, melt the butter over medium heat.  Gently crack the eggs into the pan.  Season with salt and pepper and let cook until the white is fully cooked through but the yolk is still soft.  Meanwhile, heat the tortillas in the microwave until warm (about 30 seconds). 

Place 2 tortillas somewhat overlapping on each plate.  Spoon some of the bean mixture over the top and sprinkle with shredded cheese.  Top with a cooked egg.  Top with salsa, sour cream, avocado, and garnish with cilantro if desired.

Adapted from Annie's Eats.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Seven Layer Bars

When I was in grade school and middle school, my next door neighbor and I constantly kept ourselves busy being entrepreneurs (with lemonade stands, selling little loaves of bread door-to-door, organizing a neighborhood day camp, convincing our parents to have garage sales, playing teacher, grocery store, restaurant and acting the role of an interior designer, etc.  I could go on but you get the point).  One thing we created [multiple times] was a club (Kids Club we called it).  Several girls from our neighborhood would come to my house after school where we would have a snack and then some sort of activity such as a game or craft. 

Each week a different girl would be assigned to bring the snack.  Alas, this is where I first met these bars.  I can remember eating three or four of them that afternoon, then going to church that evening and when I came back home I ate a couple more.  They were incredible!  Like nothing I had ever tasted! 

Over a decade later, these bars are still as awesome as ever- graham cracker crumbs, coconut, chocolate, and pecans...all drizzled with sweetened condensed can you go wrong?

Seven Layer Bars

Makes one 9x13-inch pan

1/2 cup butter
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 cup flaked coconut
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped pecans
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 
Melt the butter or margarine in microwave. Pour into 9x13-inch baking pan, tilting to completely cover the bottom of pan.  Sprinkle the graham cracker crumbs evenly over the melted butter.  Layer the chocolate chips, coconut, and pecans over the graham cracker crust. Pour the condensed milk over the layers.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Cool and cut into bars.

**I do realize that these bars do not have seven layers but that is what I have always known them as :)

Adapted from AllRecipes.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Fresh Salsa

I love ANYTHING tomato based: spaghetti sauce, ketchup, tomato soup, you name it.  Especially salsa.  In fact, I will easily choose it over queso or guaq at a mexican restaurant any day.  And nothing compares to the freshness of homemade.  The bottled store stuff is fine for dipping your chips (I like Herdez), but everyone needs a good recipe that they can incorporate into recipes and serve as an appetizer.  This one fits the bill.  Mild and chunky (although you can always give it a bigger kick with more jalapeno and achieve a thinner consistency by adding more tomato liquid)- it was great for cooking as well as pairing with some tostitos. 

Fresh Salsa

1 fresh jalapeno pepper, seeded and very coarsely chopped (leave the seeds in if you want it spicy!)
4 garlic cloves
2 large vine-ripened tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 (28-ounce can) diced tomatoes (drained or not, depending on how much liquid you want in your salsa)
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon cumin
1/2 sweet yellow onion, coarsely chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
Juice of one lime

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the jalapenos and garlic.  Process until finely chopped.  Scrape down sides of the bowl.  Add all other ingredients to the food processor.  Pulse in very brief pulses until vegetables have reached the size you desire (it does not take many pulses so don't overdo it).  Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for at least 2 hours to allow the flavors to blend. 

Adapted from Annie's Eats

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Broccoli Bread

This bread made my sister famous.  First given to my family from a neighbor nearly 15 years ago, my sister, Melissa, submitted it to Cooking Light in 2003 to be featured in their "Lighten Up" section of the magazine.  Each month, one recipe is chosen and met with the challenge to be given a makeover to reduce fat and calories while not sacrificing any of the delicious flavor.  You guessed it, my sister was chosen for the month of March.  A writer from the magazine came to my parents house where they interviewed and photographed her and the article can still be found today in the Cooking Light Annual Recipes 2003 Cookbook. 

Now on to the recipe.  This is different then your typical cornbread recipe.  It is incredibly moist and has a very tender texture.  We had it with our black bean soup and it was the perfect accompaniment.

Don't let the name fool you, this stuff is good. 

Broccoli Bread

Makes one 9x13-inch pan

1 cup egg substitute (or 4 eggs)
3/4 cup cottage cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons butter, melted
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups finely chopped onion
1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped broccoli, thawed and drained
1 (8 1/2-ounce) package corn muffin mix (such as Jiffy)

Preheat oven to 400°.
Combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl. Stir in the onion, broccoli, and muffin mix; stir until well blended. Pour into a greased 13 x 9-inch baking pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 400° for 27 minutes or until set.

Adapted from Cooking Light.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

I have been wanting to both make and try a pineapple upside-down cake for a long time and can finally say that I am officially crossing the first thing off of my Kitchen Bucket List. 

Now I'm just going to flat out say it: I am pretty proud of this cake.  At work, I make a lot of cakes every week, but when I flipped this cake out of its pan the other night, I was very pleased with myself.  It was so pretty!  And no frosting required!  Just flip out and dig in. 

Not only does this cake have a pretty appearance but it tastes absolutely delicious.  It lasted approximately 48 hours in our house (and yes, there were only two of us eating it).  The cake is moist and fluffy and the pineapple brown sugar topping gives it a somewhat tropical feel.  A perfect dessert to eat on one of these tropical feeling days that seem to be sticking around! 

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

Makes one 9-inch cake

7 slices canned unsweetened pineapple (20-ounce can)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
7 maraschino cherries
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons buttermilk or sour cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons (¾ stick) unsalted butter, softened
6 tablespoons buttermilk or sour cream

Preheat oven to 350°F. Have ready a 9-inch round springform or cake pan. Drain pineapple and place in one layer on paper towels to absorb the excess juice.

Place the 3 tablespoons unsalted butter in the cake pan. Place the pan in the oven until the butter is melted. Tilt to coat all sides with butter. The extra butter will settle in the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle the brown sugar evenly over the bottom of the pan.  Place one pineapple ring in the center of the pan and arrange six more around it. Place the maraschino cherries in the center of each ring.

In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, 2 tablespoons of buttermilk and vanilla with a fork.  In a mixer bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the 6 tablespoons of unsalted butter and 6 tablespoons of buttermilk. Beat on low speed just until the flour is moistened, then increase the speed to medium, or high if using a handheld mixer, and beat for exactly 1½ minutes. The batter will be stiff. Add one-third of the egg mixture at a time, beating for exactly 20 seconds and scraping the bowl after each addition. Scrape the batter over the fruit in the pan and spread evenly.

Bake until a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Remove the cake from the oven and tilt the pan in all directions to detach it from the sides of the pan. Let cool before unmolding.  Invert a serving platter on top of the pan. Cover your hands with oven mitts and turn the cake onto the platter. Lift off the pan. If any fruit or cherry pieces are askew, use a fork to push them back into place. If any brown sugar is left in the pan, scrape it up and spoon it over the cake. Serve warm or cool.

Adapted from Brown Eyed Baker.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Spicy Chicken Tacos

Turns out we do have a bottle of rum.  Why am I telling you this?  Well, I came across it the other night while I browsed through our liquor selection to make myself a drink while Nathan made us dinner.  And that's exactly what I did- I sipped on a fruity adult beverage while simultaneously working on my blog and guiding Nathan though his recipe.  It's all about multitasking. 

And what perfect timing for us to have these as I am able to share them with you for Cinco de Mayo!!  Nathan found the recipe himself a few nights ago and I immediately made the suggestion that he put his culinary skills to use.  It turned out fantastic and gave me a little catch up time.  The recipe actually made enough to serve four, but we both love our tacos so leftovers were very welcome in this meal.

P.S. Stay tuned for dessert later this week to complete your fiesta!

Spicy Chicken Tacos

Serves 4

1 pound cooked, shredded chicken
6 roma tomatoes, roughly chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1 jalapeno, sliced (seeded if you don’t want it too spicy)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 lime, juiced
1/2 cup fresh cilantro
2 teaspoons taco seasoning (I used this recipe from Annie's Eats)
Sea salt and black pepper to taste

Combine tomatoes with onion, bell pepper, jalapeno, garlic and 1 teaspoon sea salt in a medium sauce pan over medium high heat.  Bring to a boil and allow to cook until the tomatoes break down, about 20 minutes.

Add lime juice and cilantro. Then add chicken, taco seasoning and salt and black pepper to taste.  Cook until heated through (about 10 minutes).  Serve in flour tortillas and top as desired. 

Adapted from Danica's Daily.