Wednesday, December 15, 2010

PMS Chocolate Cake


Ok, this is the perfect cure for PMS. Seriously. I actually got this recipe from the Hershey Website for the "perfect chocolate cake" and they were right, it's seriously perfect! I made two cakes in 2 days because everyone wanted a piece, mom, dad, mother-n-law, kids, husband and of course, me!

Ingredients:

2 cups of sugar
3/4 cup of Hershey's Cocoa Powder
1 1/2 teaspons of baking soda
2 eggs
1/2 cup of veggie oil
1 cup of boiling water
1 3/4 cups of all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
1 teaspoon of salt
1 cup of milk
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Great and flour 2 9 inch round baking pans.

Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake 30-35 minutes or until wooden toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes, remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost.

Ingredients for frosting:

1/2 cup (1 stick) of butter
2/3 cup Hershey's Cocoa
3 cups of powdered sugar
1/3 cup of milk
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Melt butter. Stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add small amount of additional milk if needed. Stir in vanilla.


Monday, December 6, 2010

MEATLESS MONDAY - Homemade Manicotti





Jen made these a while back and blogged them but I've actually been to chicken to try and make my own shells, but this looks so delicious and would be perfect for Meatless Monday today. I can't wait to make them!

Monday, November 29, 2010

MEATLESS MONDAY - Whole Wheat Pesto Pizza


I'm revisitng this blog post because I love this pizza so much and it's super easy. And the funny thing is, when I posted it originally I wasn't even doing Meatless Monday. I'm glad I kept this recipe around. Pair this with a green salad and you have a great filling meal on this meatless day. Enjoy!

Monday, November 22, 2010

MEATLESS MONDAY - Mary's Flavorful Red Sauce


My friend Mary made this for my family years ago and I fell in love with it. It really is so flavorful. It has a very pronounced salty flavor which I love from the olives and capers. It's super quick and easy to make. It's on the thinner side which I also love.

She came over a year or so ago and made it for us again, served it with a red wine and crusty french bread. It was such a treat!

Mary's Flavorful Red Sauce

6 cloves garlic, diced or minced
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 cans (soup can size) stewed tomatoes
3 Tbsp capers with juice
3/4 jar black kalamata olives, PITTED & sliced, with juices
4 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
1/4 cup Fat Tire Beer (optional)


In pan over medium heat, add olive oil and garlic. Cook garlic until soft but not brown. Add stewed tomatoes. Mix well. Add capers, olives, balsamic vinegar & beer. Simmer 15 to 20 minutes over low heat. Serve over your favorite pasta.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Wide Awake Coffee Shake


I know it's freezing outside in most of the world...well at least here in the U.S. But yesterday it was almost 90 degrees here in Arizona. So make this because not only is it delicious but because I'm wearing flip flops in November.

I found this recipe on the Cooking with Trader Joe's blog. I really love that blog. I love Trader Joe's so it gives me some ideas on how to use some of their prepared or packaged food that I otherwise probably wouldn't buy. I'm not a huge fan of prepared or packaged food but for some reason I walk into TJ's and I go nuts...it's pretty self explanatory...that place is just..well...you know...AWESOME!

The original recipe called for Nonfat Plain Frozen Yogurt. I have never used this before. And sad to say, I will never use again. That stuff is GROSS! So I made this with Dreyer's Vanilla Bean Ice Cream....Mmmmm...it was so good!


I also used the Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Espresso Beans. These things are like crack. DELICIOUS!


Coffee Shake
2 cups vanilla bean ice cream
1/3 cup cold strong coffee
15 chocolate covered Espresso beans

Blend all ingredients together until smooth.


Monday, November 8, 2010

MEATLESS MONDAY - Spinach Artichoke Mushroom Quiche


I can't remember where I got this recipe but I'm so glad I found it! It was so yummy and dense. I hate puffy foods and quiche is up there right along with meringue and mousse. BLECH! But this quiche is dense and tasty. I can't wait to make it again.

Spinach Mushroom Quiche
1 frozen pie crust, thawed or fresh pie crust
1 1/2 cup crimini mushrooms, chopped or sliced
1 cup half and half
4 eggs
1 cup Italian Blend shredded cheese (I used the Quattro Formagio from Trader Joe's which has Parmesan, Asiago, Fontina and Provolone)
1/2 cup chopped canned artichoke hearts (not marinated)
1 cup spinach, thawed and drained (1/4 packed, after drained)
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 375
Saute the mushrooms in olive oil until brown about 3 minutes
Whisk together the eggs and half and half.
Stir in the cheese, artichoke hearts, spinach, mushrooms, nutmeg and salt.
Pour mixture into the pie crust and bake for 40 minutes (check to see if done by inserting a knife through the middle, if it comes out clean, it's done)
Let it cool for 5 minutes
Slice and serve


Monday, November 1, 2010

MEATLESS MONDAY - Vegetarian Taco Salad


This was super easy and super yummy and VERY filling! I somewhat followed a recipe but you can really add what you like. This is how I made them:

Vegetarian Taco Salad
Chips
Beans
Rice
Salsa
Tomatoes
Lime
Onion
Avocado
Cilantro
Romaine Lettuce
Olive Oil
Chili Powder
Oregano
Salt
Pepper Jack Cheese


Prepare your rice. I used spanish rice, I make it homemade.

In another pan, heat up the oil and soften the minced onions. Add chopped tomaotes and cook for a minute. Drain the beans and rinse them and add them to the tomato/onion mixture, cook for about 5 minutes. Add your spices to the mix. I used oregano, chipotle chili powder and salt. Add in your rice and heat through.

Assemble your salad.

Chips, lettuce, bean/rice mixture, shredded cheese, salsa and guacamole or cut up avocado. Mmmmmm, so good!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Caramel Corn



I have fond memories of going to Newport Beach every summer and spending time with my hubby's family. It's been a tradition for over 13 years now. Everyone that comes up has their specialities, as far as food goes. Between Vicky's waffles, Sandra's tamales or Donna's Chinese Salad, it's really hard to pick a favorite. But there is one thing I look forward to every year and that's this tasty treat...Caramel Corn! Aunt Vicky has been making this and bringing it up for years. I just found out yesterday it was actually Aunt Sandra's recipe originally. Who's ever it is, I heart them forever for sharing this recipe with me.

Caramel Corn
2 sticks butter
1/2 cup Dark Karo Syrup
2 cups Brown Sugar
2 cups of Popcorn Kernels
1 tsp baking soda
Dash of Cream of Tarter

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Pop 2 cups of popcorn, set aside. I use this bad boy. My mother in law got it for us and we LOVE it! Makes perfect popcorn every time.

In heavy saucepan, melt butter, syrup, and brown sugar. Bring to a boil and then let boil for one minute (very important), stirring constantly to caramelize. Remove from heat. Add baking soda and Cream of Tarter. Place popcorn in a new garbage/trash bag. Pour in mixture and mix around so popcorn becomes coated. Pour on cookies sheets and bake at 200 degrees for one hour. Let cool. Enjoy!


I used 3 large cookie sheets but I really could have used 4. It makes that much!


I think I might add cashews next time I make it...YUM YUM!

Monday, October 18, 2010

MEATLESS MONDAY - Spinach Artichoke Pesto Pita Pizza


We have started doing Meatless Monday a few months ago. I can't lie...it's been a little rough. We are meat eaters in this family but our docs have told us to cut back on our red meat consumption and meat in general to give our bodies a break. I'm thinking, NO PROBLEM, how hard can it be, right? WRONG! If you're not used to a vegetarian diet, it's a little scary and frustrating coming up with main meals that make you feel full and satisfied. Well this pita pizza hit the spot. Not only was it delicious but it was probably the fastest meal I have ever made for dinner, no joke! I was in such a hurry to get my daughter to dance I bought the ingredients, ran in the door and had this on the table in 10 minutes. It was tasty, filling and easy...best COMBO ever when cooking dinner.



SPINACH ARTICHOKE PESTO PITA PIZZA
Whole Wheat Pita Bread
Pesto
Can of artichokes hearts, roughly chopped
Fresh spinach
Mozzarella Cheese, shredded
Parmesan Cheese, shredded
Freshly ground black pepper
I didn't include measurements because it's really all up to how much you like and how many family members you have to feed.
Spread pesto over the pita bread
Add the spinach, artichokes, and mozzarella and Parmesan.
Season with black pepper.
Place pitas on a baking sheet and stick under a preheated broiler for about 5 minutes or until your cheese is melted and the top starts to brown.
Your body and your heart will thank you for this meatless dish :)
I got this recipe off the Meatless Monday website. They have some great ideas...check it out: www.meatlessmonday.com

Monday, October 11, 2010

Cream Puffs with Vanilla filling

Left puff is sandwich style. Right puff has vanilla pipped inside.

My mother in law was coming over to spend the night so I decided to make these cream puffs with vanilla filling for her, my son and husband. I can't even tell you how easy they were to put together and fill. These cream puffs would be perfect for a tea-party, baby shower or any special occasion. I filled these puffs with a vanilla pudding but you can add whatever pudding flavor you want. You can also drizzle them with chocolate or add powdered sugar like I did.

What I love about this recipe is that really, it's THAT easy and it looks like you've been baking for hours.



Ingredients needed:

  • For Filling:

  • 2 (3.5 ounce) packages instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup milk

For Puffs:
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 eggs


Directions:

Make pudding according to directions, except use 2 cups of cream and 1 cup of milk as the liquids. Cover and refrigerate so it can set.

In the meantime, preheat overn to 425 degrees. In a pot, bring water and butter to a boil. Stir in the flour and sald until the mixture forms a ball. Take the dough ball and place into a large mixing bowl. Take the three eggs and add them all at once to the dough mixture and using a stand mixer or a hand mixer and mix on medium for 1-2 minutes until you get a tacky dough.

Drop dough on an ungreased baking sheet using a tablespoon.Bake for 20 minutes. As soon as they are golden brown, remove from oven and using a small sharp knife, poke a hold on the side of the puff to let out steam. Let puffs cool off before piping the vanilla inside. If you don't have a pipping tool, take a zip lock bag, add vanilla pudding inside and cut the tip off of one of the corners to use as a pipping bag. You can also cut the top off of the puff and add vanilla pudding almost like you're making a sandwich.

Enjoy!


Thursday, October 7, 2010

BLT Salad with Avocado Ranch Dressing



This salad was so yummy and refreshing. Also quick and easy. You can pretty much put what you want in it. We love BLTs in this house and we love to add cheddar and avocado to them so I adjusted the salad to my taste. And the dressing...OH SO YUMMY!

Romaine Lettuce
Tomato
Bacon
Avocado
Cheese
Croutons
or whatever else you like

Salad Dressing: Recipe below




Avocado Ranch Dressing:
1 whole avocado
1/4 cup mayo
1/4 cup sour cream
1 Tbl buttermilk
1 1/2 tsp white vinegar
1/8 tsp dried parsley
1/8 tsp dried dill weed
1/8 tsp onion powder
1 garlic clove, minced

Mash the avocado in a bowl. Add the mayo, sour cream, buttermilk and vinegar. Add the parsley, dill weed, onion powder and garlic. Chill in fridge until ready to serve.
If your dressing is to thick you can add more vinegar or buttermilk to your liking.


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Bakin Bacon


I grew up in a family where we fried our bacon in its own grease. Then we would save that grease and use it to flavor EVERYTHING! Yes I know, heart attack waiting to happen...and it did...several times in our family...no bueno! Last summer I went to stay at my husband's cousin's house, Sarah and Joseph...LOVE THEM! Sarah baked her bacon and it was delicious! I have seen several cooks on Food Network bake their bacon but I really thought it was for speeding things up and really not so much for flavor. But after trying it at Sarah's I was sold. It was crunchier, and so much less greasy than the way I have always made it.

This way of making bacon is less time consuming of YOUR TIME...you won't have to stand over a pan turning pieces of bacon only to find out that your shirt is completely ruined by all the grease splatters and this way also doesn't stink your house and your freshly washed hair to high heaven.

For perfect crispy baked bacon:

First line a baking sheet with foil or place a baking rack over the baking sheet (for less grease).


Lay the bacon out side by side but not touching.


Place in a cold oven and turn the oven to 400 degrees...and WALK AWAY!

I like my bacon super crispy so I left it in there for 30 minutes. But you can check yours after 20 or so minutes and see how you like it.

Once the bacon is done, transfer it to another baking sheet lined with paper towels so the towels can soak up the grease.


I read on one site you can slightly undercook the bacon and then freeze it and when you're ready for it, you can pop it in the microwave for 30 seconds or so. I haven't tried it yet so I have no idea how it tastes. But if it's good, that's a quick way to heat up some bacon for a breakfast sandwich in the a.m. and something even the kiddies could do.


Thursday, September 30, 2010

Chicken Katsu & Homemade Tonkatsu Sauce


Anytime we go out for sushi, my son always orders Chicken Katsu. I figured, why not make it at home? It's so easy, delish and something our entire family loves to eat for dinner. The sauce is so delicious too. Perfect for one of those days were you don't want to really cook a big meal and take out isn't an option. You can by Panko crumbs by the breadcrumbs at your local grocery store but I recommend using one from a local Asian store. Either way, it's still very good.


  • Ingredients:

  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - pounded to 1/2 inch thickness
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 cup oil for frying, or as needed

Directions:

Season the chicken breasts on both sides with salt and pepper. Place the flour, beaten egg and panko crumbs into seperate shallow dishes. Coat the chicken in the flour then dip in egg, coat well and then dip into the pank crumbs and press so crumbs cover every part of the chicken breast. Place chicken into a pan that has hot oil in it and cook for 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Chicken will turn golden brown.

Tonkatsu Sauce Ingredients:

1 cup of ketchup
4 teaspoons of dry mustard powder
1 1/2 teaspoons of garlic powder
1 1/2 teaspoons of black pepper
3 T of worcestershire sauce

Add all ingredients into a bowl and mix well, refrigerate for at least an hour for all flavor to blend well.





Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Omelet Torte

This dish was a hit in our home and though it looks time consuming, it really wasn't. You can even make it the night before, refrigerate and bake as normal the next day. We had this for dinner and we ALL loved it. Lots of flavor and a perfect comfort food.




Ingredients:
  • 1 (17.5 ounce) package frozen puff pastry sheets, thawed
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 6 red potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/8 inch thick
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced into rings
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 pinch black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 8 ounces cooked ham, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon water


Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). On lightly floured surface, roll each sheet of puff pastry into a 12 inch square. Lay 1 sheet puff pastry into a 10 inch pie plate; set aside.
  2. In a 10 inch skillet, melt 1/4 cup butter until sizzling. Add potatoes, onion, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cover and cook over medium-high heat, turning occasionally, until potatoes are lightly browned and crisply tender, about 12 to 15 minutes. Set aside.
  3. In a new skillet, melt 1 tablespoon butter until sizzling. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together all omelet ingredients except remaining 1 tablespoon butter. Pour half of omelet mixture (3/4 cup) into heated skillet. Cook over medium heat. As omelet mixture sets, lift slightly with spatula to allow uncooked portion to flow underneath. Continue cooking until set, about 2 to 3 minutes. Slide omelet onto cookie sheet. Repeat with remaining butter and omelet mixture.
  4. Layer ingredients into pie plate on top of puff pastry in the following order: one of the omelets, 4 ounces ham, half of fried the potatoes, 1 cup shredded cheese, remaining potatoes, ham, cheese and 2nd omelet. Top with remaining sheet of puff pastry. Press together edges of both sheets of puff pastry to form a rim; trim off excess. Crimp or flute edges. In small bowl, stir together 1 egg and 1 tablespoon water; brush over puff pastry.
  5. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until golden brown. Let stand 5 minutes; cut into wedges.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Lahmahjoon Armenian Pizza





My husband and I have lunch together every Tuesday at a little hole in the wall called Aladdins Kitchen. A lot of my past recipes here is because I wanted to make dishes we eat from the restaurant right at home, here is one of them. We decided to order the Armenian pizza and boy were we glad we did, the flavors are so rich and it was so different, a good kind of different. We were hooked. I had to try it at home, I did and we loved it!!!

Obviously, this isn't any ordinary pizza, if you love ethnic food, you must try!

For the pizza dough, I used the naan recipe (posted below). Here is the topping recipe, you can't get any fresher than this!

1 pound of lean ground beef
1 1/2 cups of finely chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 14.5 ounce can of peeled or diced tomatoes
1 6 ounce can of tomato paste
feta cheese, crumbled

Cook the beef, drain out all fat. In food processor, add the cooked meat and blend until you almost get a paste. Remove and place into large mixing bowl. Add all ingredients and do the same thing, blend well until you get it almost to a paste. Add with the meat and blend well. You can add a pinch of salt and pepper to taste. Place in refrigerator and let the flavors blend all day long, if you can, let it sit overnight.

If you don't have time to make homemade naan, purchase pita breads and top it with the Lahmahjoon sauce. Place in oven until hot and top it off with some crumbled feta cheese.

Fold over to eat it.







Friday, September 17, 2010

Chicken Shawarma (Middle Eastern)

Chicken Shawarma is a Middle Eastern dish that is so easy to make and has tons of flavors. My husband and I love to go to a little hole in the wall called Aladdins Kitchen for their Chicken Shawarma wraps. Because we love the meal so much, I decided to give it a try at home and boy was it worth it. The flavors are so fresh. You can't go wrong with this dish, it really is so easy.

Because I was in the spirit of making this from scratch, I make my own naan (recipe already posted) but you can use store bought naan/pitas though I highly suggest you make your own.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 pounds of chicken breast, cubed
lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon of cumin (you can always add more if you desire)
1 T of olive oil
pinch or two of paprika
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 garlic clove (diced)
1/2 teaspoon of curry (optional) - I love curry so I added it in the dish

Toppings:

1 purple onion (cut into thin slices)
crumbled feta cheese
garlic sauce (I posted the recipe to roasted garlic, just mash roasted garlic and add a tablespoon of olive oil to it and mix well for the sauce)
1 diced tomato (small cubes)
baba ganoush (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well to blend all flavors and place back in refrigerator for at least 45 mins or more to let the ingredients blend. Once you're ready to cook, add chicken and juices into a large pan and cook until the chicken is done, set aside.

When you're ready to serve, in your pita, add your garlic sauce first, chicken mix, feta, onions and tomato inside the pita. I serve it with a side of baby gadoush as well as a dollop of the garlic sauce to dip the pita sandwich in.


Saturday, September 11, 2010

Naan

I love naan, it's so light and delicious. Anytime we go to an Indian restaurant, we always ask for more naan. I decided to make naan because it had to be simple, right? Guess what? Not only was it simple, it's delicious and we can now have fresh naan anytime we want! Perfect with a salad, turn it into a pita or just drizzle melted butter on it. You'll love it!

Ingredients:

1 (.25 ounce) package of active dry yeast
1 cup of warm water
1/4 cup of sugar
3 T of milk
1 egg, beaten
2 teaspoons of salt
4 1/2 cups of bread flour
oil (I use olive oil)

Directions:

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand for about 10 minutes or until the top of the yeast turns frothy. Stir in the sugar, milk, egg, salt and flour. On a dry surface, add flour and knead dough for a few minutes. Place dough ball into a well oiled bowl, cover with a damp cloth and set aside to rise. I've made this dough at noon, and let it rise until 7 p.m., or you can just let it rise for an hour, makes no difference really.

Once the dough has risen, punch down the dough to release air. Pinch off small handfuls of the dough, about the size of a tennis ball and place back into oiled bowl, repeat until you have used all your dough and turned into small balls. Place wet towel over the bowl and let rise for another 15-30 minutes.

You can either use your bbq grill to cook these or your oven (I use a natural stone pizza slab to cook these at 500 degrees). Cook for 3 minutes and then flip for another 1 minute. They will puff up a bit.

Because we like burn marks on ours, I place our naan over our gas fire indoor grill and toast them up a bit. If you use your outdoor bbq, you can get great grill marks that way too.



Saturday, September 4, 2010

Yorkshire Pudding





I love watching Kitchen Nightmares on the BBC channel. Chef Ramsey has featured Yorkshire pudding way too many times for me not to at least try making it, after all, on t.v., these Yorkies looked AMAZING! So, yesterday, I made them and they are SO GOOD! Best part of it all, it's so easy! Airy, tasty and with a drizzle of brown gravy, you're set to go! (Will blog beef tips and gravy in a bit).

Ingredients:

1 cup of flour
1 cup of room temperature milk
3 eggs (room temperature)
butter

Preheat your oven to 375. In a large mixing bowl, add milk and eggs and whisk together. Add flour and whisk well. The batter will be a thin consistency. While your oven is warming up, take 1/2 teaspoon of butter and place into each tin cup. I can easily make 6 Yorkies with the batter, so put butter in at least 6 tin cups. Once your oven has reached 375, place tin into the oven for 2 minutes so that the butter melts. After the 2 minutes is up, remove the pan and add the batter to each 6 tin cups, all the way to the top of each cup. Drop the temp of the oven to 350 and place pan into the oven for 20-25 minutes until top is a light golden brown.

Once you remove the pan, let the Yorkies rest a bit before you add your gravy or butter.

Really, it's that easy and you have to at least try it once in your lifetime!