Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Garlic and Sun-dried Tomato Corn Muffins

So here's another one I made for the Thanksgiving potlucks last week. Now, I didn't get much feedback from other people, but personally I thought they were really good as well did Hubby and Bambino. The smell of the muffins baking was so enticing! I never would have thought that garlic and sun dried tomatoes would be a good addition to a muffin, but I was wrong, I admit.

So I saw this recipe on none other than Giada at Home. I actually haven't watched this show in quite some time, but the weekend before Thanksgiving I was watching the Food Network just to see what was new in the world of Thanksgiving cooking (Not sure why. I don't even cook Thanksgiving dinner nor care for the food too much, except for the mashed potatoes.) and saw Giada was on. I knew that she would have some kind of Italian twist to Thanksgiving food, such as her sweet potato gnocchi. So I watched her make these muffins and part of what made it so encouraging to make was that it was so simple!

Now, I know I don't normally like using store bought cake mixes, but I do love some garlic and sun dried tomatoes and was curious how it would taste in corn muffins, so I broke down and decided to use the cake mix. (Oh, and lucky me they were only 50 cents a box!). So I made the muffins and really enjoyed them! They were simple to make, a tad too rich for every day eating around here, but great for the holiday binge!

Click here for the original recipe.

2 (8.5 oz) packages corn muffin mix (I used Jiffy)
2 cups frozen corn
3 cloves garlic
2/3 cup diced sun dried tomatoes (from a jar with olive oil)
2/3 cup buttermilk
2/3 cup sour cream
2 eggs

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease two muffin tins.

2. In a large bowl combine muffin mix, corn, garlic and sun-dried tomatoes. Mix.

3. In a small bowl whisk together the buttermilk, sour cream and eggs until blended.

4. Add the buttermilk mixture to the muffin mix. Stir to combine.

5. Spoon the mix into muffin tins, filling up the cups about halfway. Bake until golden brown on top, about 15 minutes.

6. Cool and serve.

Amateur Cooking Difficulty Scale: 3
This one is really simple and great for holiday dinners or something quick to make for dinner. If you need only a few muffins then you may want to divide the recipe in half. I used tiny muffin tins and it made quite a bit of muffins, so next time I make it I will use larger muffin tins or maybe even use a square baking dish and cut it into pieces. Good stuff. Go make.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Spinach Artichoke Dip in the Slow Cooker

So, so sad, but I have no photo for this dish. By the time I got my act together to take the photo, the dip was gobbled up or had cooled down to the point that a photo wouldn't be too pretty. But I blog nonetheless!

You're probably back at work today feeling gluttonous over all the excess calories consumed over the holiday weekend and thinking of how you can eat healthy, at least until the next party where the binge of food and alcohol begins. (I mean, that's what I'm thinking.) So why not write about a highly caloric cheese dip to get you ready for that binge?

With more holiday parties around the corner I figured this would be a good dip to share because it's easy and perfect to bring to any potluck party! I made this for Hubby's work potluck lunch and also took it to Thanksgiving dinner where it was a hit at both! Even Bambino enjoyed sucking the spinach dip off of a tortilla chip and leaving the tortilla chip to the side. (Surprising that she didn't also consume the tortilla chip.)

Seriously, if you have a party your throwing or a party you have to bring food to, this is a perfect appetizer dish to take a long. It's warm, gooey and cheesy, perfect for a party during the holiday season. It's minimal work for you and the results are scrumptious!

Click here for the original recipe.

1- 14 oz can of artichokes hearts, drained, rinsed and chopped
1 lb frozen spinach, thawed
16 oz cream cheese, cubed (2 - 8 oz bricks)
2 1/2 cups Monterrey jack cheese, cubed
2 1/2 cups Mozzarella cheese, cubed
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp black pepper

1. Cube the cheese and add it to the slow cooker

2. Chop artichoke hearts and add to slow cooker along with spinach.

3. Add garlic and pepper.

4. Turn slow cooker on High Setting for 2 hours.

5. Heat until melted , should take about 1-2 hours. Serve warm with tortilla chips, pita chips, fresh vegetables or whatever you prefer.

Amateur Cooking Difficulty Scale: 2
Seriously, folks. This is so easy. Other than cutting cheese, garlic and artichoke hearts there isn't much to do. I actually prepared everything the night before and placed the slow cooker in the fridge so the day I of I just popped it out and turned on the slow cooker.

I'll definitely be keeping this recipe around for parties. The only thing is that it makes A LOT of dip, so don't make this if you have a party of 5 people. Or if you do, cut everything in half.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Turkey Stuffed Shells with Marinara Sauce

So here's another Giada recipe. No, I'm not that obsessed with her and I really don't watch her show all too often anymore but I randomly flipped over to the Food Network a few weeks ago and came across an old episode of Giada at Home and saw her make these shells. As I watched her make it and saw how easy it was I knew I had to try it. I'm always looking for something to make from ground turkey meat since ground turkey meat is easy to work with in general and this recipe was perfect.

After watching the episode I realized that it was basically a deconstructed and reconstructed lasagna! It has all the same ingredients as lasagna, it's just put together in a different manner. The work it took to make the shells was no different than lasagna, except that it does take a tad bit of time to stuff each shell, but that's the kind of tedious cooking work that I enjoy doing. (I know, I even like dicing vegetables, craziness!)

Overall the dish was a success. I left out the artichokes Giada put in since Hubby does not like artichokes and they're expensive. (Just to buy a can of artichokes it's $2.50!) Hubby really liked it (with my edits) as well did Bambino. This is great for a meal alongside a salad, to take along to a potluck or even for a warm appetizer if you're having a dinner party. Definitely making this one again.

Click here for the original recipe.

1 (12 oz) box of jumbo shells
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 lb ground turkey meat
salt and pepper
1 (15oz) container ricotta cheese
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese (I was out of parm, so just threw in a little mozzarella)
2 eggs, lightly beaten (I used egg whites only)
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
1 jar marinara sauce ( or 28 oz of freshly made sauce)

1. Boil shells according to directions on box. Cook until tender, but still firm to bite.

2. In a non-stick skillet heat olive oil on medium high heat. Add onions, green pepper and garlic and cook until softened. Add the ground turkey, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and cook until browned. (After browned I drained the grease out.) Remove from heat and cool.

3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl combine the cooled turkey with ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, eggs, parsley and 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

4.Grease the bottom of a 9 x 13, 2 in baking dish. Layer with marinara sauce. Take a shell and stuff with about 2 tablespoons of turkey mixture into each shell and place in baking dish. Continue with rest of shells.

5. Drizzle remaining marinara sauce and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Bake in oven for 20 minutes, until cheese is melted.

6. Cool and serve.

Amateur Cooking Difficulty Scale: 5
Don't be too intimidated by this recipe. It's not that many steps. If you are comfortable with the workload of making lasagna, then this is pretty similar. The results were good and even though the taste was similar to lasagna, I think it may just have been refreshing for Hubby to eat something different as opposed to the usual heavy rotation dishes.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Trinidadian Chicken Stew

So this is a recipe I've been making for over a year now. I saw this recipe on my favorite cooking show, Giada at Home. Hubby loves himself some chicken and when I saw Giada make a stew that was in one pot and included the protein, veggie and starch, I was all on it! It appeared pretty simple to make, by my only qualm was that she threw in a can of plum tomatoes. Egads! How can I throw tomatoes into the stew and except Hubby to consume it? So I was speaking with my mother on the phone about the tomato situation and she recommended making a tomato broth, basically boiling tomatoes in water, then putting it through a sieve and throwing that into the stew. Genius! This was perfect because the recipe calls for tomatoes and a cup of water, I'll just combine and smush the tomatoes and there you go!

So I made the recipe with my own tomato broth and it came out so good! I did make some variations to the recipe, i.e. the tomato broth, marinading the chicken with all the herbs rather throwing it into the stew and simmering the stew much longer than recommended so the potatoes are cooked to the point that they are falling apart so it is similar to a thick stew. So I should probably knock off the word Trinidadian from the recipe because according to the reviews under Giada's recipe many people have stated that it is far from authentic Trinidadian stew, and with my edits I'm sure it detracts even more from authenticity. So I shall call this Chicken Stew.

The results were a success. Both Hubby and Bambino love this stew. I like that the chicken is cooked so long that it easily shreds apart, making it easy to break apart for Bambino to eat. I make this dish pretty often, a heavy rotation dish, and will continue to keep making it!

Click here for the original recipe.

1/8 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons brown sugar
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut in pieces
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
salt and pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley + a couple of sprigs
2 tablespoons freshly chopped thyme leaves
2 bay leaves
5 roma tomatoes
approximately 2 cups water
1 onion, chopped in half
3 cloves of garlic
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
5 medium sized Russett potatoes, peeled and chopped (Recipe calls for 3 potatoes, but I like my stew extra potato-y)

1. Marinade chicken with ginger, salt, pepper, parsley and thyme. Place in fridge over night.

2. In a large pot place tomatoes, onion, garlic, bay leaves and a couple sprigs of parsley. Add approximately 2 cups water (enough water to just barely cover the tomatoes, the tomatoes will probably float on the water) Bring to a rolling boil and then simmer for about 30 minutes. Take a spoon and smash the tomatoes against the side once they are cooked. Simmer another ten minutes. Once cooled, place tomato mixture through a sieve and and bring out the broth, reserve to the side.

3. In the same pot you made the tomato broth, heat oil on medium high heat. Add brown sugar and cook, stirring occasionally until dark, about 2 to 3 minutes.

4. Add in the chicken pieces and saute until brown on all sides. Add in carrots and potatoes and saute with chicken for about 2-3 minutes. Add in broth. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for a good 1 1/2 hours- 2 hours, depending on how much you like the potatoes cooked. Add salt and pepper based on taste.

5. Cool and serve!

Amateur Cooking Difficulty Scale: 5
There are many different steps to this recipe and making the tomato broth takes a little more time, but while there are more steps each step really doesn't take too long to make. This really is a great one pot meal that's perfect for cold weather since it's warm and hearty!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Cinnamon Raisin Bread

Ok folks, here's a really, really simple one for you. If you own a bread machine.

I inherited my bread machine from my mother last year. It's gotten quite a bit of use, I must say. I love the fact that all you have to do is throw in the ingredients, push ON and voila, the bread is done. Well, four hours later that is. Cinnamon Raisin Bread is one of the first recipes I made when I got the bread machine. I recall seeing this recipe in the owner's manual, but for some reason that recipe wasn't good enough for me and I ended up going online and finding a Betty Crocker recipe that I liked better. The results were great, warm and sweet, but not too sweet, yum!

The only problem with the bread is that since there are no preservatives, it only tastes fresh for about a day, and after that you have to refrigerate it and then toast it for it to taste good. It's great to make if you have a big family or if you're having guests over for brunch, because then you know it will be consumed!

I made cinnamon raisin bread this past week because I was looking for some variety to feed Bambino. The results were good, but of course too much. I ended up giving a heaping helping to my mom who said she would freeze it and then take out a piece at a time and toast it and eat it with her tea. Genius! Freeze the abundant leftovers if you don't finish it! Just make sure you don't leave it sitting out past a day or the green monster will arrive, fungus not jealousy.

Click here for the original recipe

1 cup water
2 tablespoons margarine (I used olive oil)
3 cups bread flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 1/2 teaspoons bread machine yeast
3/4 cup raisins

1. Place all ingredients except raisins in bread machine pan.

2. Select Sweet or Basic Cycle and Medium or Light crust color.

3. Add in raisins at the raisin/nut signal. (It should chime.)

4. Once bread is complete, cool and remove from machine.

5. Enjoy!

Amateur Cooking Difficulty Scale: 1
Seriously, it doesn't get easier than this. Go make this. If you don't own a bread machine, collect your Bed, Bath and Beyond coupons and keep an eye on those Holiday sales, it's well worth it!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Cuban Black Bean Soup

One of the first places I had black bean soup was at a South American restaurant and it was oh so good. First I had the plaintain chips with chimichurri sauce  and then came my black bean soup. Wowzers. Instead of a bowl it comes in a loaf of sourdough bread with the fluffy insides removed. Topped with a tad bit of what I believe to be cojita cheese, it was just amazing! The last time I went to the restaurant the menu now lists that there is ham in the soup, so no longer do I indulge. The thought of ruining such a masterpiece with ham, truly upsets me. I wonder if it's always had ham and they just never listed it? I hope not. But I couldn't taste it.

When I was in the last month of pregnancy with Bambino I went into extreme nesting mode and was cooking up the wazoo so that we would have some food in the freezer to consume between feeding and diaper changing. (Of course my mother brought over loads of food so there really was no need for this, but I tried!) Now remember, this was pre Food Network/Cooking Channel days so my culinary expertise was not as honed as it is now. (Add laugh track here.) Anyways, one of the recipes I came across was for Cuban Black Bean Soup. With my love for black bean soup from the local South American restaurant I had to give it a try. It came out so good! I really enjoyed it. I served it over rice and added some avocado to it and it was amazing!

I make this soup about once a month and Bambino eats it with me but Hubby does not. He always likes the smell of the kitchen when I'm cooking it but says he doesn't want to try it, I don't know why. A girlfriend of mine was over when I was making the soup once and she enjoyed a bowlful so much that at her last birthday party I brought her a bowl of the soup instead of buying a gift! (No, I'm not that cheap, but maybe a little. I know she likes my soup and she said to not bring gifts!)  So this past weekend I decided to make some black bean soup for Bambino and I and we both sure loved it!

Click here for the original recipe.

7 cups cooked black beans (1 lb bag of dried black beans prepared according to directions on package)
3 Tbsp olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1tsp paprika
1 carrot, diced
1 medium bell pepper, chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
handful of parsley, chopped
rind of orange
juice of orange

1. Cook beans and set to side.

2. In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Saute onions, garlic, cumin, coriander and paprika. Continue cooking until onions are translucent.

3.Add carrots and celery and saute for another 3-4 minutes.

4. Add bell pepper and saute for another 5 minutes.

5. Add salt, pepper, parsley and tomatoes. Simmer and cook until vegetables are tender.

6. Add in black beans and as much of the liquid for as thick or thin of a soup as you prefer. Bring to a boil. Add in orange rind and simmer on low for 30-45 minutes.

7. Remove rind. Add fresh orange juice and cook for another 5-10 minutes.

8. Serve with rice, avocado, cheese, sour cream, chopped onions or whatever you desire!

Amateur Cooking Difficulty Scale: 4
This may look like a difficult recipe, but if you get all your chopping done before hand, it's just a matter of adding things to a pot and letting it cook. This is a yummy and hearty recipe and I definitely recommend you giving it a try!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Corn Chowder with Turkey Sausage

Last year during my Food Channel/Cooking Network Frenzy (Yes, I'm capitalizing the F in frenzy because that point of time shall now be described as a proper noun and will be known for all time, at least for me, since it was the advent of my cooking adventures. Please stop looking at me in that pathetic manner.) I would watch anything on either channel (Ok, so maybe not Down Home with the Neelys, come on now.) and one show I picked up was From the Kitchens Of. I actually felt it was more of a paid programming type of show since it centered around supposed Chef Brigitte Nguyen going to the kitchens of different companies and then  taking their foods or appliances and cooking with them in her own kitchen. (By her own kitchen I mean Cooking Channel's Kitchen.) 

So one day I watched her go to Hillshire Farms and come back and make Corn Chowder with Smoked Chicken Sausage. The reason I was interested in the show was because she made such simple recipes but had a twist to them. When I watched her make the corn chowder I was impressed with how facile it was. I had once made corn chowder sans the sausage and it was a lot more work than what she had done.

Knowing Hubby enjoys himself some thick, potato soups I decided to give it a try. I often buy turkey sausage and am always looking for new recipes to make with it and felt this would be perfect. I followed the directions to the tee and it was a big mistake. The recipe calls for one medium onion and Hubby is not a big fan of onions, so I was hesitant to put it all in the soup. I stared at the massive amount of chopped onion on the cutting board contemplating should I put it all in or not? I felt like was channeling Auguste Rodin's statue The Thinker as I pondered over the onion. Alas, I decided to throw it all in there and trust the writers of the recipe. Big mistake. Hubby liked the soup but could not finish it because it was too oniony

So I was looking for a simple recipe and decided to make the soup again but minus the massive amounts of onion! Instead of an entire onion I used 1/4 of a  medium sized onion and the results were a success. I tried a small amount of it (Without sausage!) and it tasted like soupy mashed potatoes with corn. Good stuff! Hubby thoroughly enjoyed it as well as Bambino. She enjoyed herself a heaping helping!

1 packaged pre-cooked sausage (I only buy lean turkey sausage, but use whatever kind you prefer.)
1/4 cup olive oil (I tried to cut back on the oil, but it made it difficult to make the roux, so don't hold back)
1/4 medium onion, chopped 
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
4 cups milk (I used 1% milk.)
1- 16 oz package frozen corn (I would have preferred to use corn off the cob, but corn is very much not in season as seen by the browned corn cobs at the grocery store.)
2 cups cubed potatoes
chopped parsley, shredded cheese (Optional garnish, I did not use.)

1. Boil chopped potatoes until tender. Drain and set to side.

2. Cut sausage into small pieces. Pan fry in a non-stick skillet 5-10 minutes, until browned. Set to side. (This is an optional step that I added in.)

3. Cook olive oil in pot over medium high heat. Add onions and cook until translucent. Add flour, salt and pepper. Cook stirring constantly until golden brown. (About 1-2 minutes.)

4. Add milk. Increase the heat to high. Bring to a boil and then continue boiling for one minute, stirring constantly. Add sausage and corn.

5. Add in potatoes and reduce heat to medium low. Simmer for 10-15 minutes until potatoes are heated through. 

6. Serve with cheese and parsley, if desired.

Amateur Cooking Difficulty Scale: 3
This is a simple recipe. While yes there a few steps with cooking the potatoes and the sausage (Leading to more dishes to wash!) it truly isn't too much work. I highly request this one for a easy, hearty dish.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Pumpkin Banana Bread

Ahhh, the holiday season is upon us. Bright Christmas lights, wreaths hung on doors and the warm smell of vanilla and cinnamon cascading through people's houses while they have their air conditioning running and are wearing shorts and flip flops. Thats right. Christmas in the South. My neighbor just put up his Christmas lights as he was wearing khaki shorts and polo, perspiring and drinking a cold one by the time he was done. I wasn't sure what was more pathetic, putting up Christmas lights November 1st, or wearing shorts while doing so? Yep, you have it right. I'm a bit of a Christmas Scrooge. Ok, not so much of a scrooge, more that I'm just indifferent to the holiday season. I am not one of those people in line on Black Friday in hopes of buying Christmas gifts for my second cousins who I never talk to. The only person who gets a Christmas gift in my world is Bambino, perhaps it will be under a Christmas tree this year, perhaps it will not.

I have nothing against the holiday season, I'm just a bit apathetic to the season. Growing up my parents did have make an effort to have a Christmas tree and celebrate the season, despite the fact that it wasn't in our religion. They didn't want my brother and I to feel left out when all of our friends were celebrating and we were not. What else would we do during the two weeks of Christmas vacation if we didn't obsess over what gifts we want for one week and then play with them for the requisite week after Christmas and before school starts only for it to eventually be dumped in some toy bin in the back of the closet? As we got older and gifts weren't a big deal to us, neither was the holiday season. We had no religious tie to the season and we no longer were greedy kids asking for gifts, so the holiday passed with just a dinner spent together as a family.

 Lucky for me, I married a man just as apathetic to the season as I! We have yet to have a Christmas tree in our house, (At the same time, we have yet to place lights around the house for Diwali either!) but we're thinking next year when Bambino is 2, we'll probably make a big deal of both Christmas and Diwali, two days other than a birthday to get presents, yay! So for this year, we may just let the holiday pass, but Bambino still gets a gift! (I also have a free coupon for some holiday cards, so maybe I'll send them out? Or maybe no.)

So, where is all this coming from? Well, when I think of the holidays I thinking of pumpkin bread. My mother always made pumpkin bread growing up and I too have made it as well as pumpkin pie and pumpkin cheesecake. Last week a girlfriend of mine gave me a recipe for pumpkin bread and I realized it's been awhile since I made it so I bought some pumpkin puree from the store and was ready to make it. But, there were two extremely ripened bananas hanging on the fruit bowl that were screaming at me to toss them into the oven and make some bread. So I looked up to see if pumpkin banana bread existed, and it did! Yay! I can make my pumpkin bread and throw in some bananas, excellent!

So, the recipe turned out great! You can taste pumpkin, you can taste banana. Hey, it's pumpkin banana bread!

Click here for the original recipe.

2 ripened bananas (Oh, mine were ripened.)
2 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 can pumpkin puree (14 oz)
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger (Recipe calls for 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, but I replaced with nutmeg and ginger since I didn't have any pumpkin pie spice.)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup raisins (Optional. I did not use)
1/2 cup walnuts (Optional. I did not use)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a bundt pan with cooking spray.

2. Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add in ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon.

3. In a separate bowl, mash bananas and add eggs, oil, pumpkin pie puree, honey and sugar.

4.Fold flour into this mixture. Add in walnuts and/or raisins if desired.

5. Pour into bundt pan and bake in oven for 45 minutes until a knife inserted comes out clean.

6. Cool and consume!

Amateur Cooking Difficulty Scale: 3
 This one is pretty simple. There are numerous ingredients in the recipe, but it truly doesn't take too long to make and then you just dump it all into the oven and bake!

Yummy stuff, good variation off of pumpkin bread, but next time I'll try the classic, since it's been awhile since I had some good ol' pumpkin bread!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Thank you!

I just want to take a second to thank all my loyal followers! It's been a crazy few weeks and I haven't been posting as regularly, mainly because I haven't been as adventurous with my cooking and just sticking to what works, thus having nothing to post.

So for now, I've decided to stick with posting every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Trying new recipes three times a week is doable for now, so that's what I plan to stick with. I hope that quenches your palate for what's cooking in my kitchen!

Also, I've had a couple of requests to be able to follow my posts via email so I've placed that widget on this page. Modest me, I didn't think anyone would care to follow me by email, apparently not! I just hope this doesn't all go to my head, last thing we need is a swollen head in the kitchen.

Thanks again for checking out my blog, I appreciate all the love, so keep it coming!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Potato Pancakes

The first time I ever made potato pancakes were last year during my cooking frenzy. I'm not sure how I came across the recipe or how I even knew what they were. I had never eaten potato pancakes before so perhaps I randomly came across the recipe on or something? Who can remember? Regardless of how I came across it, the taste was amazing! Hubby said he had eaten them before and that they were served with sour cream. Luckily for him, for some reason we had some fat free sour cream in the fridge. Hubby devoured a heaping helping of the potato pancakes and loved them! Bambino also ate a pancake along with some plain, fat free yogurt. So the first attempt was a success!

This past week I felt like making some potato pancakes again. I knew Bambino loved them and thought it would be some good variety since it had been awhile since I last made them. The last couple of times I made potato pancakes, I made mashed potatoes first, and then added that to the pancake batter and threw in some other odds and ends that I had in the vegetable bin. This time I decided to add cilantro, onion and tomatoes. (All on Hubby's no-no list so these were not for him.)

Well, this was the best making of potato pancakes I had ever made! The mixture of the cilantro, tomatoes and onion with the potatoes made it come out so, so good! I think I was being nostalgic for the South Indian dish uttapam, which is why I chose the cilantro, tomatoes and onion. Also, I don't like the taste of eggs, so instead of whole eggs, I used egg whites and it definitely helped keep the eggy taste at bay.

Click here for the original recipe.

2 cups mashed potatoes
2 eggs (I replaced with 4 egg whites)
1/4 cup flour
1/4 of an onion, chopped
6 sprigs cilantro, chopped
1/2 roma tomato, chopped
olive oil for cooking

1. Mix together mashed potatoes, egg, flour, salt, pepper, onion, cilantro and tomatoes.

2. Grease a nonstick pan with cooking spray.  Add a tablespoon of olive oil.

3. Pour batter into pan. (Don't make it too thin, otherwise it will be difficult to flip over.) Brown on both sides for 4-5 minutes.

4. (Optional step) Place in oven at 350 degrees for ten minutes per side. I chose to place in oven to get the pancakes a bit more crispy.

5. Cool and serve with plain yogurt, sour cream, applesauce or whatever you choose.

Amateur Cooking Difficulty Scale: 5
I give this dish a higher score because there are numerous steps: making the mashed potatoes, cutting and mixing the ingredients, frying in the skillet and then baking. I chose to use the griddle so I could make all the pancakes at once.

This is a great tasting dish and worth the multiple steps. It's a great dish to make when you have leftover mashed potatoes, gives a little pizzazz to the traditional dish.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookies

What's better than warm, gooey chocolate chip cookies? Mmmmm. I love chocolate chip cookies. Probably because it reminds me of my childhood. From as far back as I could remember my mother has always made chocolate chip cookies and had them in the cookie dubba (container) on the counter . To this day she still makes them pretty regularly for my father to munch on with his tea and they are still in the cookie dubba on the counter.

I've often made chocolate chip cookies ever since I got married. They are pretty simple to make, or maybe because they are so familiar I think of them as the easiest cookie to make? I usually stick with the Nestle Tollhouse cookie recipe from the back of the chocolate chip bag, same place I get my favorite oatmeal chocolate chip cookie recipe!

So this past week we had no baked goods around the house (The banana bread was far gone) so it was utmost important that I make some baked goods. I hadn't made the good ol', simple chocolate chip cookies in quite awhile and I wasn't feeling adventurous so I decided to make them. They came out oh so good and by the time I'm writing this there's only one cookie left! (Why hasn't anyone eaten it, you ask? Well, it's the age old battle of who will consume the last cookie and be responsible for washing the dubba it is in. That will eventually be me, of course.)

Click here for the original recipe.

2 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil (recipe calls for 1 cup butter, but I reduce and sprinkle water into the batter to moisten it)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
2 cups chocolate chips
1 cup chopped nuts (I used walnuts)

1. Preheat oven to 375.

2. Sift together flour, baking soda and salt. Set to side.

3. Mix oil, sugar and vanilla together until creamy. Add eggs one at a time.

4. Fold in flour mixture into sugar mixture. Add chocolate chips and nuts. (If you only used 1/4 cup vegetable oil, you will need to sprinkle water and mix until the dough becomes moist, but not too watery!)

5. Drop by tablespoon on a greased cookie sheet. Bake 9-11 minutes, until golden brown.

6. Cool and consume!

Amateur Cooking Difficulty Scale: 4
These chocolate chip cookies are very simple to make. Maybe because it's so simple to make is why I find it to be so easy compared to other cookies? Regardless, it's not too much work and once they are done, they are so worth the make!

You know, since there is only one cookie left, I think I'll make another batch of these today!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Moroccan Turkey Patties

So I had some ground turkey meat in the fridge and needed something to make. I've been in quite the unadventurous mood these past few weeks and had intended to just make some spaghetti with meat sauce with the turkey meat but for some reason I had a burst of adventure in my system and decided to look on the Internet for dishes to make with the turkey meat. I went to the Real Simple Magazine website and searched ground beef recipes (I would just replace ground beef with ground turkey). One of the first recipes I came across was for Moroccan Beef Patties. I had never heard of this recipe before (Maybe because I don't eat ground beef nor do I cook it in the house?) and was intrigued by the ingredients: cumin, coriander, cinnamon, and on and on. I liked that it was a very flavorful dish. I doubted how authentic Moroccan it was, but since I have very little experience eating or making Moroccan food, I figured I wouldn't know the difference.

I served it along side a basic couscous dish that I concocted and it was actually a big hit! I cut the patty into small pieces and mixed it into the couscous which Bambino loved. Hubby smashed the patties into the couscous and ate it similarly to Bambino and said he liked that it was so flavorful.

Overall, the recipe was pretty simple to make, didn't take too much time. I busted out the griddle so that I could cook all the patties at the same time. Hubby did comment that they looked like mini-patties or sliders, but he enjoyed the taste! Looks like another one for heavy rotation.

Click here for the original recipe.

1.25 lbs ground turkey meat (or beef, if you prefer)
1 medium onion, minced
1 medium carrot, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp chili powder or red masala

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (Optional, if you want your patties well done.). Mix the onion, garlic, carrots and spices together in a bowl. Add in ground turkey meat and mix with hands. (Don't over mix!) Separate the meat in half, then each half into a half, then each quarter into a half. (Should make 8 patties)

2. Heat a non stick pan or griddle on high heat. Spray with nonstick cooking spray. Cook each patty for about 4 minutes per side. (To ensure it was cooked through for Bambino, I then placed it in the oven at 350 degrees for 10 minutes per side)

3. Cool and serve over couscous or eat in a pita like a falafel!

Amateur Cooking Difficulty Scale: 4
This is another easy one, folks. It's like making hamburgers, but since I've never made hamburgers before it was like making meatballs! For me, ground turkey meat is the easiest meat to work with because there's no cleaning or marinading meat. Just take it out the day you're ready to cook.

I'll definitely be making this again. Both Bambino and Hubby enjoyed it and it wasn't too much effort for me, heavy rotation here we come!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Chicken Satay Inspired Chicken

My earliest memory of Chicken Satay is when I was just a wee little lad living in Malaysia and my family would frequent a nearby restaurant (I'm assuming Thai?) and we  would always order Chicken Satay for an appetizer. That was some chicken I loved then and still like now. Grilled chicken on skewers dipped into a sweet and savory cucumber sauce, yumm. I have yet to have really good Chicken Satay anywhere, but I suppose that's because the memory in my head of the chicken is grander than it actually was. That and the fact that I rarely order it when I go to restaurants. I, myself, have never made chicken satay. My mother attempted to make it once, it came out pretty good, but we failed to make the cucumber sauce to go along with it.

So I was looking for some sort of grilled chicken breast recipe to make when I came across this recipe for chicken satay. Now, I must say that this recipe is far from authentic chicken satay. Why, you may ask? Well, because the ingredients call for curry powder and peanut butter. Call me crazy, but neither are ingredients used in Asia, at least not to make traditional Asian cuisine. But the ingredients sounded good and I had them on hand so I decided to make it, I just knew that it wasn't going to be authentic Chicken Satay.

I don't like using the outside grill when it's just me and Bambino at home because it's too much to watch her and the scathing hot grill. So I decided to use the grill pan instead. I did some research on how to properly use a grill pan to prepare chicken and came across this great blog post about indoor grilling. It calls to grill the chicken at high heat on a grill pan and then bake it in the oven until the chicken is cooked through, genius!

I made the chicken along with a simple vegetable fried rice and it came out fantastic! Hubby enjoyed it, as seen by the heaping helping of chicken he piled on top of the rice in the photo above. Bambino also enjoyed it. I cut up the chicken into small pieces and mixed it into the rice. I really liked it that way as well!

Click here for the original recipe.

5 chicken breasts thinly sliced
2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup lemon or lime juice (I used lime because it's all I had on hand)
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons curry powder
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (I omitted since Bambino ate it)

1. Mix together peanut butter, soy sauce, lime juice, brown sugar, curry powder, garlic and hot pepper sauce. Pour over chicken breasts and marinade overnight in fridge.

2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Heat grill pan to high heat. Grease with cooking spray. Place chicken on grill and cook for 1 1/2 minutes per side, until grill marks are seen. Place chicken in greased casserole dish. (You will probably have to do this in batches.)

3. Once all of chicken is in casserole dish, pour remaining marinade over chicken. (I was concerned about putting the raw chicken juice over the chicken, but the chicken is still raw on the inside and both will cook in the oven.) Place in oven and cook for 10-12 minutes per side, until an instant read thermometer reads 165 degrees.

4. Cool and serve over fried rice, rice or just eat alone.

Amateur Cooking Difficulty Scale: 5
There are numerous steps to this dish. You have to clean the chicken, marinade the chicken, grill the chicken and then bake it, but it comes out pretty good! It's a delightful change to the usual chicken dishes I make. Perhaps next time I will attempt the cucumber dip to go along with it!