Friday, April 29, 2011

In Celebration of The Royal Wedding: Jamie Oliver's Fruit Scones

Did everyone set their alarms this morning?  I must admit that I've been rather excited about The Royal Wedding and happily set my alarm for 4am so that I could watch it live.  I thought the wedding, and everything about it, was beautiful.  

I wanted to make something special in celebration of The Royal Wedding and went back and forth about which recipe to choose.  I looked at recipes for Eton Mess, Toad in the Hole, and various others before finally settling on Jamie Oliver's Fruit Scones.  As Kate was kissing her prince on the balcony of Buckingham Palace I was rolling out scone dough in my pajamas. 

Jamie says "This is a cracking recipe for scones which uses dried cherries as well as the more traditional raisins.  However, feel free to substitute any other dried fruit you like.  Scones freeze really well, so you can make a batch of them, pop some into the freezer, and that way, if you have any unexpected visitors, you can always put them straight into the oven from frozen as a quick and delicious treat.  Spread with jam and serve with clotted cream- nothing else will do!"

Fruit Scones

Adapted from Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution
Makes 10
1 scant 1 cup mixture of dried cherries and/or raisins
Orange juice, for soaking
4 cups self-rising flour, plus a little extra for dusting
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup butter
2 large eggs
1/3 cup milk, plus a little extra for brushing
good-quality jam
2/3 cup clotted cream or heavy cream, whipped

To make your dough:  Preheat the oven to 400F.  Soak the cherries and raisins in a little bowl with just enough orange juice to cover them.  While they're soaking, you can either pulse the flour, baking powder, and butter in a food processor just until the mixture starts to look like breadcrumbs (don't be tempted to over-pulse!), or you can blend them together by hand.  Transfer to a mixing bowl and make a well in the middle.  In another bowl, beat the eggs and milk with a fork.  Drain your cherries and raisins in a strainer and add them to the beaten eggs and milk with a good pinch of salt.  Then pour your beaten eggs, milk, cherries and raisins into the well of the flour mixture and stir well, adding a splash more milk if necessary, until you have a soft, dry dough.  If your dough feels a little dry and doesn't come together, add an extra splash of milk.

To make your scones: Dust a clean work surface and your rolling pin with flour.  Roll out the dough until it's 3/4 inch thick.  Using a 2-1/2 inch round biscuit cutter, or the rim of a glass, cut out 10 circles from the dough and place these on a non-stick cookie sheet (you may have to roll your dough out again in order to get all 10 rounds out of it, but try not to knead it too much, as you don't want to overwork it).  Dip a pastry brush into some milk and brush the top of each scone.  Bake in the preheated oven for 12-15 minutes, until risen and brown.  Take them out of the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool.

To serve your scones:  Cut each scone in half across the middle.  Spoon a dollop of jam on to the bottom half of each one, followed by a dollop of clotted (or whipped) cream, and put the tops back on.  Serve on a large plate in the middle of the table, or on individual plates - and don't forget a pot of tea!
Notes/Results:  Delicious served with cherry preserves and whipped cream.  A perfect breakfast to serve whilst watching The Royal Wedding!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Sirloin Burgers with Garlic-Black Pepper-Parmesan Sauce & Roasted Tomatoes with Basil & Balsamic Drizzle

This month's selection from Rachel Ray's Look + Cook is a juicy Italian delight of a burger!  A thick and juicy sirloin burger is topped with a garlicky black pepper Parmesan sauce, a slow roasted tomato, fresh basil leaves and a thick balsamic drizzle.  The burger itself is rather sophisticated, but make no mistake about is a juicy, flavorful and extremely messy burger.  Just like a burger should be.

Sirloin Burgers with Garlic-Black Pepper-Parmesan Sauce & Roasted Tomatoes with Basil & Balsamic Drizzle
 Adapted from Rachel Ray's Look + Cook
Time: 1.5 hours, or less
Serves 4

3 vine-ripened tomatoes, sliced about 1/4 inch thick
2 tablespoons EVOO, plus more for drizzling
salt and pepper, plus 1 teaspoon coarse black pepper
2 pounds coarse-ground sirloin (I used l lb for 4 burgers and found it was plenty)
3 tablespoons butter
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped or grated (I used 4 medium sized cloves; wished I had used more)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Balsamic drizzle (store-bought, or reduce 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar with 3 tbsp. brown sugar over medium heat until thick and syrupy, a couple minutes)_
7-8 red leaf or red romain lettuce leaves, shredded
4  kaiser rolls, toasted
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, 8-10 leaves, thinly sliced

Preheat the oven to 325F.  Place a cooling rack over a rimmed baking sheet.  Arrange the tomatoes on the rack, then drizzle with a touch of EVOO and season the tomato slices with salt and pepper.  Roast the tomatoes for 45 minutes, or until tender and caramelized.  Set aside.

When the tomatoes are about ready, place a large skillet over medium-high heat with the 2 tablespoons of EVOO.  While the pan is heating up, combine the sirloin with some salt and pepper.  Form the mixture into 4 patties thicker at the edges and thinner in the center for even cooking and to ensure you end up with a flat burger (the burgers will bulge up during cooking).  Cook patties for 10 minutes for medium-rare, turning once.  Cook for 12 minutes for pink centers and 14 minutes for well-done.

While the patties are cooking, place a small pot over medium heat with the butter.  Add the garlic to the melted butter and cook for about 1 minute.  Add the flour to the pan and cook for 1 minute more.  Season with salt and the coarse black pepper.  Whisk the milk into the butter-flour mixture and bring up to a bubble.  Simmer until the sauce has thickened, about 2 minutes.  Stir in the grated cheese.  Prepare a balsamic drizzle in a small pot if not using storebought.

To assemble, place some lettuce on each bun bottom and top it with a burger patty.  Pour garlic-black pepper-Parmesan sauce over the top, set the roasted tomatoes in the sauce, scatter basil over the tomatoes, and garnish with balsamic drizzle.  Set the bun tops in place and serve.
Notes/Results:  This is one amazing and juicy burger!  It does require a little more time than a traditional burger, but the results are outstanding. The garlicky black pepper Parmesan sauce had me swooning, but I must admit that it was the bursts of flavor from the roasted tomatoes, basil, and balsamic drizzle was my favorite in the end.  The only changes I made to the recipe was to add more garlic to the Parmesan sauce and should I make this again (very likely) I will add even more garlic to the Parmesan sauce.  The recipe didn't call for the burger buns to be toasted, but every time I make a burger I almost always toast the bun.  I like that extra little crunch.  Delicious!!
My friend Brenda of Brenda's Canadian Kitchen and I are having a lot of fun choosing one recipe per month from Rachel Ray's new Look + Cook.  Please click on the above link to Brenda's site to see her version of this delicious burger!  Brenda's pick for next month is Rachel's Creole Meat Loves with Trinity Gravy & Buttermilk Sweet Potatoes.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Cookbook Review: Crazy About Cookies by Krystina Castella

300 Scrumptious Recipes for Every Occasion & Craving
290 pages

Are you crazy about cookies?  I know I am.  I was thrilled to receive Krystina Castella's newest cookbook, Crazy About Cookies.  Upon opening the book I could tell right away this cookbook was extremely comprehensive in it's coverage on cookies. 

Crazy About Cookies is broken down into six chapters, with a bonus chapter on the basics, as well as several cookie templates.

Chapter 1: Cookies in the Know is all about baking equipment, decorating tools, baking and storing cookies, transporting cookies, mailing cookies, cookie ingredients, decorating ingredients, cookie-types and techniques, and finally decorating cookies.  I'm normally not a fan of these introductory type chapters, but this chapter is very informative and helpful. *There is even a great inside tip about how to make your very own baking powder.

Chapter 2: Everyday Cookies includes recipes for Breakfast & Brunch Cookies, Snack Cookies, as well as Vegan and Sugar-Free Cookies.  There are a few recipes that I would consider your everday run-of-the-mill cookies, but most of the recipes are inventive and fun like Cinnamon Swirl Cookies, Waffle Cookies, Rice Cereal Marshmallow Sandwiches (recipe show below), Cereal Killer Cookies, and even Chocolate Chunk Yogurt Cookies.  Hmmm...cookies made with yogurt definitely piques my curiosity.

Chapter 3: Party Cookies highlights cookie recipes for dinner parties, tea parties, summer parties, and even cocktail parties.  One of my personal favorites from this chapter is a recipe for Rum, Mint, and Bourbon Ball Kabobs. In the book the cookies are pictured as cute little cookie balls skewered onto a stick and served with cocktails.  How fun!

Chapter 4: Occasions Cookies brings you cookie recipes for every occasion under the sun: birthdays, weddings, TV game and sport parties, as well as cookies for toddlers, kids, and teens.  I had so many personal favorites from this chapter, namely the Family Tree cookie, Beer and Mixed-Nut Cookies, and also the Butter Rum Popcorn Cookies.  This chapter, in particular, is filled with some wonderfully inventive recipes.

Chapter 5: Holiday Cookies celebrates cultural holiday cookies, as well as cookies spanning from New Years Eve all the way up to the Christmas season.  Some of my personal favorites were the 4th of July cookies, but I chose to go with the Orange Bunny Cookies for Easter (cookies shown below).

Chapter 6: Christmas Cookies is filled with over twenty Christmas cookies and includes some pretty extensive gingerbread houses with templates in the back.

Now for the fun part, bring on the cookies!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I made two cookies from the book, letting each of my children pick their own recipe.

My four year old has severe food allergies, so he was limited in his choices, but he does favor a good ol' rice crispy treat so he picked the Rice Cereal Marshmallow Sandwiches in the Everyday Cookies Chapter.  These cookies were such a treat we made them twice!  It is essentially a much softer and more marshmallowy rice crispy treat stuffed with a fluffy marshmallow filling and ate as a sandwich.  Fun and delicious!
 Rice Cereal Marshamallow Sandwiches
Adapted from Crazy About Cookies by Krystina Castella
Type of Cookie: Bar Sandwich
Makes 24 cookies

Cookie Base:
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
3 cups mini marshmallows
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups puffed rice cereal

Marshmallow Filling:
3/4 cup marshamallows
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar

Butter a 9 x 13-inch baking dish.

Make the cookie base: Melt the butter in a double boiler over low heat.
Add the marshmallows and stir until completely melted.  Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla.  Add the cereal and stir until well coated.  Press into the prepared pan and let cool. 
Make the marshmallow filling: Melt the marshmallows and butter together in a double boiler over low heat.  Remove from the heat and stir in the confectioners' sugar.  Remove the cookie base from the pan by flipping on to a cutting surface using a spatula to loose if necessary.  Cut into 3-inch squares.  Spread the filling on half of the squares and sandwich with remaining squares.

The second cookie we made were the Orange Bunny Cookies, which were essentially a sugar cookie flavored with both orange zest and orange juice.  These cookies were topped off with colored royal icing, sprinkles and dragees, just in time for Easter.

All in all, Crazy About Cookies is a very comprehensive and extensive guide to cookies.  One of the many things I love about this book is that it contains recipes for every level of baker out there, from the most basic to most intricate.  There is something for everyone!


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Jamie Oliver's Barbecue Chicken

This week I seem to be going back to the basics.  Sunday night we had this recipe, Jamie's Barbecue Chicken.  Monday night we had Philly cheesesteaks and last night we had barbecue ribs. Sometimes it's nice to scale it back a bit and enjoy the basics.  They're classics for a reason, right?

Sunday was a gorgeous day and I needed something quick and easy so I settled on grilling Jamie's barbecue chicken.  The recipe below is pretty much a recipe for a barbecue sauce/marinade. I was, however, interested in this recipe because Jamie calls for orange zest in his sauce, which is something that I had never heard of or done before.  I am absolutely crazy about oranges and orange flavor so I decided to give it a go.  Turns out that the small amount of orange zest called for packed a surprisingly strong flavor in the final dish.  The end result was good, just not what I would refer to as traditional barbecue sauce.
 Jamie says:  "Everyone loves barbecued chicken. It’s a feature of pretty much every barbecue all over the country. Here’s how to make it crisp on the outside and cooked in the middle, just the way it should be."

Jamie Oliver's Barbecue Chicken
Adapted from
Serves 4
zest of 1 orange
1 dried chile
1 ½ heaped teaspoons smoked paprika
1½ teaspoons Dijon or English mustard
3 tablespoons honey

3 tablespoons ketchup
1 teaspoon olive oil 
1/16 teaspoon sea salt and 
freshly ground pepper, to taste
4 x 5-ounce boneless skinless chicken breasts

Jamie’s top tips
• This marinade can be used on other lean proteins such as shrimp, pork tenderloin or flank steak. If the outside of the meat or fish looks a dry, brush a little of the marinade over it whilst cooking.
• When zesting citrus fruit, use a Microplane or similar zester so you only remove the colored zest without digging into the bitter white pith underneath.
• When grilling you need to keep control the heat really carefully so the food cooks through properly before it starts burning on the outside. If your meat starts to char soon after putting it on the grill or in the pan, move it to a cooler part of the grill or turn the heat right down.
• If you’re doing this on the stovetop, it will work best in a well-seasoned cast-iron or non-stick grill pan.
• It’s good to have one side of the barbecue with fewer coals so it’s cooler. The coals are ready when the flames have died down.

To prepare your chicken
1. If barbecuing, light the grill now so the flames have died down and it’s ready when you’re ready to cook.

2. Finely grate the orange zest into a shallow bowl. Crumble in the dried chile. Add the paprika, mustard, honey, ketchup and a splash of olive oil. Season with a small pinch each of the salt and pepper and mix well. Spoon out a few tablespoons of the marinade and set it aside.

3. Add the chicken breasts to the bowl with the remaining marinade. Turn them over in the marinade so they’re well coated, cover with plastic wrap and leave to sit for 5 to 10 minutes or until the grill is ready.

To cook and serve your chicken
4. If using a grill pan, put it over high heat now to get it screaming hot.

5. Use tongs to transfer your chicken breasts onto the grill or grill pan. For chicken breasts about 1 inch thick, cook for about 5 minutes on each side, turning every minute and basting as you go, or until golden and cooked through. Spoon a little of the reserved sauce over each breast.

Serving suggestions:
Lovely served with the Evolution potato salad and a fresh green salad, or delicious sliced in sandwiches in some good-quality bread. Add some leafy lettuce and sliced tomato to give it a good crunch.

Tips from the dietitian:
• Citrus zest, including orange, lemon, and lime gives a dish loads of flavor without adding many calories. Chile also does the same job. Make your marinades ahead of time and store it in a jar so you don’t get tempted to use bottled sauces.
• Skinless chicken breasts are a lean protein - cook up some extras to use in sandwiches and salads for lunch.

Food safety:
• Store raw meat and fish on the bottom shelf of your fridge, and food that’s ready to be eaten whether it’s salad, cheese, dairy or cooked food on the shelves above. This is so the juices from the raw foods can’t drip onto cooked foods and cross-contaminate them.
• Use tongs to move the meat into the marinade and again into the pan. If you flip the meat with a spatula, be sure to wash it before you use it again to take the fillets out of the pan to avoid cross-contamination.
Notes/Results:  This was good, but I'm not sure if I would recommend it or not.   If you're looking for a traditional recipe for barbecue chicken, then this is not the recipe for you.  However, if you are looking for something different, and with lots of orange flavor, then give this a whirl.  If you do decide to try this don't be surprised by the small amount of sauce it makes.  It doesn't appear to be enough to cover the chicken, but it all works out.

Don't forget to watch Jamie's Food Revolution Tuesday nights on ABC

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Shrimp Stir Fry with Sugar Snap Peas

Since my last post I've been concentrating on cleaning out my pantry, fridge and freezer.  My pantry is exploding with stores of pasta, grains, beans, dried fruit, and baking products. My freezers are just as full.  Almost every time one of the freezer doors is opened a package falls out onto your toes.  Apparently I've been stockpiling food. 

Since I found 4 bags of shrimp in my freezer and I had 27 boxes of pasta in my pantry, I wanted to find a recipe that utilized both shrimp and pasta.  A quick inspection of the veggie bin in the fridge proved that I had the sugar snap peas to make this recipe and I was all set.  A delicious way to clean house!

Shrimp Stir Fry with Sugar Snap Peas
Serves 2-3

1" fresh ginger, peeled & crushed or finely diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed or finely diced
1 fresh chile, sliced 
1-2 tablespoons peanut or canola oil
1/2 lb. large shrimp, shelled & deveined
large handful sugar snap peas or snow peas
2 tablespoons soy sauce
juice of 1/2 lime
1/2 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 lb pasta
small bunch fresh cilantro, torn or cut in 1-2" sections

Bring a large pot of water to boil for the pasta while you slice and dice the ginger, garlic, and chile.  When water comes to a boil, salt it well, then toss in pasta.  Stir after it comes back up to a boil.  Boil vigorously until it has your preferred bite. Set aside.

Heat a pan or wok over high heat (you can start this part while the pasta boils).  Swirl in some peanut oil/canola oil and add garlic, ginger, and chile.  Saute for a minute or so, then add shrimp and cook for another couple minutes or until shrimp is almost cooked through.  Add sugar snaps, soy sauce, lime juice, honey, and sesame oil.  Saute for a bit until everything is hot and then toss in pasta.  Toss over heat until pasta is well coated, then serve with the cilantro.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

27 Boxes of Pasta

How many boxes of pasta do you think you have in your pantry?  Today I cleaned out my pantry and I found 27 boxes/packages of pasta!   I have to admit that even I find it a little ridiculous.  I couldn't help but laugh.
Goodness knows we love our pasta in every shape and size.  In my defense, my son is allergic to wheat so about a third of the pasta is gluten-free. 
Anyone want to come over for pasta?  I think I should have enough! 

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Pasta Pepperonata = Happy Days

What kind of food makes you happy?  All food makes me happy, but Italian sausage with peppers and onions is one of my favorite meals.  Throw in some pasta or potatoes on the side and I'm definitely in the happy camp.  This week at I Heart Cooking Clubs it's all about Happy Days, the food that makes us happy.  I decided to go along with some of my favorites for this meal.  I cooked up a 3lb ring of Italian sausage and decided to serve Jamie's Pasta Pepperonata on the side.  HAPPY DAYS!
 Pasta Pepperonata
Adapted from JamieOliver.Com
Serves 4-6

  This is a great pasta dish using rigatoni, which is quite robust. It makes a really nice lunchtime snack. The mascarpone or crème fraîche is a lovely addition, but you can leave it out if you prefer. It will give you a wonderful mottled sauce, but try it without first and see how you go.
  2 red peppers, deseeded and sliced
• 2 yellow peppers, deseeded and sliced
• extra virgin olive oil
• sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 2 red onions, peeled and finely sliced
• 2 garlic cloves, peeled and grated
• 2 handfuls of fresh flat-leaf parsley, leaves finely chopped, stalks reserved
• 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar
• 2 handfuls of grated 
mascarpone or creme fraiche, if desired

Put all the peppers in a large frying pan over a medium heat with a little olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Place a lid on, and cook slowly for 15 minutes until softened. Don't rush this too much, as cooking the peppers slowly like this really helps to bring out the flavour. Add the onion and cook for a further 20 minutes. Then add the garlic and parsley stalks and toss around, keeping everything moving in the pan. Cook for about 3 minutes most. Have a little taste, and season with a bit more salt and pepper. Add the vinegar - it will sizzle away, so give everything a good toss. Then add one handful of the grated Parmesan and the mascarpone or crème fraîche if you are using it and turn the heat down to minimum while you cook the pasta.

Meanwhile put a large pot of salted water on to boil. Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook according to the packet instructions. When cooked, drain in a colander, reserving some of the cooking water. Put the peppers, pasta and parsley leaves into a large warmed bowl. Give them a good toss together, then add a little of the pasta cooking water and a few good lugs of extra virgin olive oil to coat the pasta nicely. Serve straight away sprinkled with the rest of the Parmesan.

Notes/Results:  Delicious!  This pasta paired beautifully with a ring of Italian sausage.  The whole meal was such a treat. One thing I want to share is that I took the liberty of adding more mascarpone cheese than called for.  Jamie's recipe calls for one or two tablespoons of mascarpone and it is optional.  Cheese lover that I am, I almost doubled the mascarpone.  While I love cheese and I love mascarpone, this was not the time or place to up the cheese.  A tablespoon or so of mascarpone would be great, but the amount I added was just too much cheese and masked the flavor of the peppers and onions.  It was still delicious, and it was definitely creamy, but I would've liked to taste the peppers and onions a little more.
Currently cooking with Chef Jamie Oliver

Don't forget to tune in to Jamie's Food Revolution airing Tuesday, April 12th at 8/7 central.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Butterfinger Cake

 For my Mom's birthday today I whipped up this easy 5-ingredient Butterfinger Cake.  My Mom isn't a big sweet fanatic, but on the off chance she craves something sweet, she always goes for a Butterfinger.  My Mom and I saw this recipe for Butterfinger Cake when we were flipping through an old church cookbook months ago and we've been eager to make it ever since. Since birthday cake has zero calories, today was the day to give it a go!    
This cake is incredibly easy.  In fact, my ten year old pretty much made it herself.  You start with a devil's food cake mix (preferably the cheapest box, without the pudding, or any added moisture).  Prepare the cake mix according to the instructions on the box.  Remove the cake from the oven and IMMEDIATELY poke holes all over the cake with a fork.
Mix a can of sweetened condensed milk together with a whole jar of caramel sauce (talk about luscious).  Pour the entire mixture over the warm cake.  Pour the mixture in slowly so that it has time to soak in.  It will seem like too much, but it's not.  Now it's time to let the cake chill.  Chill until completely cool.

After the cake is chilled completely, spread cool whip over the top.
Sprinkle crushed Butterfinger bar on top of the cake and serve.  Easy and delicious!
Butterfinger Cake
Makes 1 (9x13"cake)
Source: unknown

1 box Devil's Food Cake Mix 
1 bottle caramel topping (I used Smucker's from the ice cream aisle)
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 tub of cool whip (I used the smaller one)
1 Butterfinger bar (I used a King sized bar)

Note: When you go to buy your cake mix you definitely DON'T want to buy a super moist cake, or one with pudding in the mix.  In fact, what you really want is the cheap version or store-brand.  

Prepare cake according to package directions.  Immediately after removing cake from oven, poke several holes all over the top with a fork.  Mix sweetened condensed milk and caramel together.  Slowly pour the mixture over the cake allowing it to soak in.  DO NOT pour the mixture over the cake all at once.  This will result in a mess (I'm speaking from experience here).  NOTE:  It will appear that there is too much of the caramel mixture but it really does soak in beautifully.  Now it is time to chill the cake.  Chill it until it is completely cooled.  After the cake has completely cooled, spread the coo whip over the top and sprinkle the crushed Butterfinger bar on top of the Cool Whip.
Notes/Results:  The cake was wonderful.  I was expecting a very heavy and dense cake, but it was surprisingly light.  Although light in texture it was fairly rich, making a small piece more than enough to satisfy your sweet tooth.  It was truly a wonderful dessert with just the right balance, not too sweet or too rich.  I especially love that the kids were able to make it almost completely by themselves.  I would definitely consider taking this to a potluck as it is easy to transport and keeps well. 


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Cookies and Cream Cookies

 A couple weeks ago I met a new blogging friend, Raina at  The Garden of Yum, who posted these delicious Cookies and Cream Cookies.  My soon to be ten-year old daughter is absolutely in love with anything cookies and cream these days and I knew instantly she would love these intensely chocolately, chewy & chunky, brownie-like cookies.  Who wouldn't?
First, you need a package of these new Cookies and Creme drops from Hershey's.  (They're fairly easy to find.  I found a package at my local Walgreens on sale for $2.49).  Speaking of which, I am a complete fan of shopping at Walgreens.  If you pay attention to their ads you can get some super good deals.  I really love that they let you combine their Walgreen's coupons with the regular coupons from the paper.  For example, I buy Rice Krispies cereal a lot.  A couple of weeks ago they had Rice Krispies on sale 2/$3.  There was a Walgreen's coupon for $1 off and then I had another coupon for $1 off 2 boxes.  I was able to get two boxes of Rice Krispies for $1.  Now that's a good deal!  (I'm really not trying to sell you on Walgreen's.  I just wanted to share my excitement over the good deals I've been getting).
Cookies and Cream Cookies  
 recipe courtesy of Raina at The Garden of Yum(link above) who originally got it from Cookies and Cups
2 sticks butter (1 cup)
1 1/4 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla
1/2 cup dark cocoa powder (special dark or regular)
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp Kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used regular chocolate chips)
12 oz. Hershey's Cookies and Creme drops (if you can't find these because they are a new item use coarsely chopped Cookies and Cream Kisses OR Hershey's Cookies and Creme Bars)

Preheat to 350
Cream together butter and sugar until fluffy and light.
Beat in eggs and vanilla.
On low, slowly beat in cocoa powder until well incorporated.

On low mix in your remaining dry ingredients (flour, baking powder and salt).
Fold in your Cookies and Creme drops and chocolate chips until evenly incorporated.

Drop by large tablespoonful on a parchment lined baking sheet.

I recommend under baking these. So bake for approx 12 minutes or until edges are set.

When done baking let cool on baking sheet for 2-3 minutes before transferring to wire rack to finish cooling.
 Thanks to Raina at The Garden of Yum for such a great recipe.  These delicious cookies would satisfy any chocolate craving.  The whole family loved them!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Chicken Queso Burgers

Here is yet another recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks, Emeril's 20-40-60 Fresh Food Fast.  This is my twelfth recipe from the book and there are still so many recipes I still want to make.  Recipes like:

Shrimp and Chorizo Tapas
Creamy Shrimp and Green Onion Dip
Seared Shrimp Salad
Chickpea Salad with Tabbouleh
Spicy Pork Wraps with Creamy Coleslaw
Shrimp and Feta, Greek-Style
Salmon with Orange Butter Sauce
Seared Salmon with Lentils
Shrimp Etouffee
Melon with Amaretti Cookie Crumbles
Kicked-Up Snickerdoodles
Sausage and Pepper Po-Boy
and lots and lots of Emeril's side dishes which sound great!

 This burger recipe caught my eye immediately as I love having new recipes for ground chicken.  My market almost always has ground chicken on sale (sometimes $1.50 or $1.99/lb) and I always love to stock up on it when I can.  This chicken burger is bursting with the flavor of southwest spices and stays moist from the addition of lots of cheese and chopped green chiles.  The patty is placed between two toasted buns with seasoned griddled onions.  A great break from those beef burgers!
Chicken Queso Burgers
Adapted from Emeril's 20-40-60 Fresh Food Fast
Makes 8 burgers

2 eggs, lightly beaten
8 ounces cheddar cheese, grated (about 2 cups)
One 4-ounce can (about 1/3 cup) minced green chiles, drained
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
3 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2-1/2 teaspoons salt
2 pounds ground chicken thigh meat
3/4 cup fine unseasoned dry breadcrumbs
1-1/2 cups minced onions
1 cup olive oil
8 hamburger buns
Lettuce, tomato, and mayo for garnishing burgers (optional)
*I garnished with more cheese, more green chiles, and the griddled onions called for in the recipe

In a large bowl, combine the eggs, cheese, chiles, oregano, 1-1/2 teaspoons of the chili powder, the cuming, and 2 teaspoons of the salt.  Add the ground chicken and the breadcrumbs, and mix until well blended.  Divide the mixture into 8 portions, and shape each portion into a 1-inch-thick patty.  lay the patties on a tray, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until ready to cook.

Combine the onions, 3/4 cup of the olive oil, remaining 1-1/2 teaspoons chili powder, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt in a small bowl.  Divide the onion mixture evenly among the cut sides of the hamburgers buns, and spread it out with a brush to coat.

Heat a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  In batches, toast the buns, coasted sides down, in the skillet until the onions cook slightly and stick to the buns and the bread is lightly toasted, 2-3 minutes.  Set the buns aside and wipe the skillet clean.

In the same nonstick skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the remaining olive oil over medium heat.  Add 4 patties and cook until an instant-read thermometer registers 165F when inserted into the center of a patty, about 4 minutes per side.  Set the patties aside; keep warm.  Repeat with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and 4 patties.  Place the patties between the toasted buns and serve immediately, with lettuce, tomato, and mayonnaise, if desired.

If you're interested in Emeril's book, it is on sale at The Good Cook for $7.99.  And, if you haven't heard of The Good Cook, then you should head over to TheGoodCook.Com right now!  I've been a member for about 4 years now and I love it. 

Monday, April 4, 2011

French Fridays with Dorie Roundup

Lifelong procrastinator that I am, you will usually find me in the kitchen on the last day of the month trying to cram every FFwD recipe in at the last minute.  This, my friends, is how I roll.  I've had about 35 years to perfect my procrastination skills and I think I've finally got it down to a science. 
In the month of March there were four recipes: Savory Cheese and Chive Bread, Beggar's Linguine, Salted Butter Break-Ups, and Scallops with Caramel-Orange Sauce.  Early on, I decided not to make the Scallops with Caramel-Orange Sauce.  Good scallops are hard to find here in Kentucky and I'm pretty much the only one in the house who enjoys them.  
Surprisingly, my favorite recipe of the month was the Beggar's Linguine. Dorie's Beggar's Linguine is a combination of linguine (or in my case spaghetti) tossed with pistachios, almonds, dried figs, moist raisins, Parmesan cheese, brown butter and orange zest.  I love pasta and I love fruit and nuts, but I didn't really think I would like them together.  I couldn't have been more wrong.  This dish was amazing and I'm definitely making it again.  The brown butter together with the crunchy toasted nuts and the little sweet bursts of fruit was a real revelation.  I've been craving it's unique taste ever since I had it for lunch the other day.
The second runner up was Dorie's Savory Cheese and Chive Bread.  A delicious quick bread loaded with not only shredded cheese, but also cubed cheese with lots and lots of chive flavor.  This bread was so delicious toasted and smeared with butter.  I made two loaves.
Cubes of cheese created little cheesy pockets  - yum!
Lastly, here is my sad, very sad, version of Dorie's Salted Butter Break-Ups.  The butter break-up is supposed to be a big beautiful golden brown cookie with a gorgeous crosshatch pattern that is broken up and served at the table.  Mine was big alright, but it never achieved a golden brown color, the crosshatch marks didn't show up, and there were lots of little holes in the cookie.  Baking is one area where I need a lot of work.  Clearly.  Appearances aside, the cookie itself wasn't a favorite at all.  It was buttery and salty, but not very sweet (almost like a cracker).  We tried smearing it with Nutella, but at the end of the day, it was only okay. Definitely our least favorite of the three recipes and also something I wouldn't make again.

There are five delicious recipes for the month of April and I want to make them all.  Hopefully I won't wait until the last day of April to make all five.  That would not be pretty!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Roasted Carrots with Orange, Garlic, and Herbs

This is our first week with Jamie Oliver at I Heart Cooking Clubs and the theme this week is Let's Get Naked!  Yep, you heard that right.  We couldn't resist having fun with Jamie's title, The Naked Chef.  I've been a huge fan of Jamie's unbridled personality for years and enjoy watching him in everything that he does.  You can always count on a few good laughs if you're watching one of his shows.  It's going to be an amazing six months cooking up Jamie's recipes.

Jamie has around 10 cookbooks, a magazine, a terrific website brimming with recipes, and countless shows on both the Food Network and the Cooking Channel.  In fact, it's a little overwhelming to choose a recipe because there are SO VERY MANY to choose from.  As I paged through book after book of Jamie's recipes it was this recipe for Roasted Carrots with Orange, Garlic, and Herbs that stood out the most to me.  Maybe it was the fact that I love carrots.  Maybe it was because the roasted carrots and oranges looked so sunny and bright.  Either way I couldn't get this recipe out of my head. I had to try it!
Roasted Carrots with Orange, Garlic and Thyme
Adapted from Jamie's Dinners
Serves 4

Boil the carrots in salted boiling water with a tablespoon of sugar, a knob of butter and a little handful of fragrant fresh herbs, tied up.  Parsley, rosemary, thyme, bay-use just one or a mixture.  Cut an orange into eights and add them to the water, along with a few whole garlic cloves in their skins.  If you really want to be a tiger, add a pinch fo cumin as well (seeds or ground) - it subtly cuts through with the most wonderful of flavor.  As soon as the carrots are cooked, drain them and throw everything onto a lightly greased baking pan and roast at 400F for 10-15 minutes. 

More options:   You can elect to serve the carrots boiled OR you can mash the carrots with the garlic. If you choose to mash the carrots go ahead and fry up the chopped orange in a good tablespoon of sugar, so it almost jammifies and serve it on top of the carrots.

Notes/Results: I thought this recipe was beautiful, fresh, bright and vibrant!  I loved it.  I also love that Jamie gives you three different ways to serve this recipe: boiled, roasted, and mashed.  The entire family loved this dish, even the ones that don't usually care for carrots.  I would definitely make this one again!
Are you ready to get naked?