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April 30, 2012

Curried Chicken Salad

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This chicken salad has such a great flavor. 

I'ts another one of the recipes my sister and I used when we were catering lunches.


I like it best on a croissant, and if you use the cocktail croissants (which are not that small), 
it's not that high in calories or fat (2 ww pts per croissant).

If you don't use rotisserie chicken from the grocery store or leftovers, take the time to 
roast a couple of chicken breasts. I think it makes for more flavorful meat 
and a better texture than boiling it.


The chicken salad alone only has 7 points for a generous serving, 
but tastes like it would have much more.
There's less than 1/2 serving on each croissant,
so I would figure maybe 4-5 points per sandwich.

Very elegant tasting and great to entertain with.

Linked with Weekend Potluck and Foodie Friday.


Curried Chicken Salad
6 servings

3 cups cooked chicken
1/2 cup celery
1 tbsp relish
1 tbsp minced onion
1/4 cup golden raisins (or regular)
1 tsp curry
1/2 cup miracle whip, light
2 tsp vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/8 tsp celery seed

Stir together chicken, celery, relish, onion and raisins.

In a separate bowl, stir together remaining ingredients, pour over chicken and gently stir to blend.

April 25, 2012

Carne Asada Pizza

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Left over carne asada? 

Make Pizza!


I was trying to figure out what to do with my leftover Carne Asada, and then it hit me, 
I actually have leftover whole wheat pizza dough in the fridge. 

Perfect!

Normally, I would have rolled/formed the dough out onto parchment paper and placed
 it on my heated stone. I was out of paper so I just rolled it out onto the stone itself 
and it worked out fine.

I used my favorite pizza dough recipe found here, and substituted 1 1/2 cups of whole wheat
 flour for the white, which wasn't my intention at first, but was because I didn't have 
enough white flour. It turned out really good.


I kept it simple as far as ingredients go. 

Some olive oil drizzled over the rolled out dough, then topped with thinly sliced carne.
I sliced up some onion and yellow bell pepper into a bowl and tossed it with olive oil, 
Italian seasoning, salt and pepper and spread that over the top. 

Next, I sliced up some cherry tomatoes and added those, dotted on some feta, sprinkled on 
some cheddar and topped with freshly grated parmesan. A light sprinkling of salt , pepper and 
more Italian seasoning and another light drizzle of olive oil and it was ready to be placed
into a preheated 475 degree oven for about 15 minutes or so.


Delicious! We ate it with just a drizzle of salsa over it. Very yummy!

April 23, 2012

Guacamole Taquero

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I made my version of Guacamole Taquero (taco shop guacamole) to go with the 
Carne Asada I made the other night.



Here's the deal. I really like tomatillos and love all the salsas and sauces I've made with them, so the thought of making guacamole with them, sounded delicious. 

It was good, but I was a little thrown by the tartness of the guac.

Don't let this put you off trying it. Like I said, it was good. I think if I make it again, I'll use 1 or 2 tomatillos instead of 4 or add a touch of honey.

Guacamole Taquero

4 tomatillos
Handful of fresh parsley
2 garlic cloves, rough chop
2 tbsp lime juice
1/2 small onion
1 tsp cumin
1 jalapeno, remove seeds if desired
2 avocado
Salt and pepper, to taste

Place husked and washed tomatillos in a blender or food processor and puree (no water is needed). Add remaining ingredients and puree until smooth.

Carne Asada

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This Carne Asada turned out really good. 

I think the marinade was a perfect blend of ingredients and 
gave the steak great depth of flavor.
 

You need to let it rest just a few minutes before you slice it, 
and remember to slice it against the grain.


Really tasty wrapped in shells with a little
salsa fresca and Guacamole Taquero.


You can get the recipe and read more about the Guacamole here.



Carne Asada

2 lbs flank steak
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 jalapeno, chopped (remove seeds if desired)
2 tbsp chopped parsley
Juice of 2 limes
Juice of 1 orange
2 tbsp white vinegar
1 tsp sugar
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp adobo (or cumin)
½ cup olive oil
1 cup beer
Fresh cracked pepper

Lay out steak in a baking dish. Whisk together remaining ingredients and pour over steak. Marinate at least 1 hour, up to 4 hours.

Remove steak from marinade and cook on a preheated grill, 7-10 minutes per side for medium rare, or until desired doneness.

Let rest for a couple minutes, then thinly slice at an angle, opposite direction of grain.

April 16, 2012

Asian Burgers with Pickled Cucumber and Red Onions

These Asian Burgers turned out awesome!

I was laying in bed one night about 4am (guess I should say early morning), couldn't sleep, so I started thinking about new ideas for recipes. That's normal, right?


Anyway, this is what I came up with. I'm glad I remembered it the next day, 
because I thought it was delicious.


Make the pickled veggies first, so they have time to hang out for a few.
I just stabbed a couple of holes in the chili with a sharp tipped knife and threw it into the bowl.
 I didn't want it overly spicy.


The spread isn't very photogenic, but easy to make and it suits the burger perfectly.


I always form my burgers with a hole in the center for more uniformed cooking. 
If you don't, they'll puff up in the middle.


Put it all together, and this is what you end up with. Very Yummy!




Asian Burgers

2 lbs ground chuck
1/2 cup grated carrot
1/2 cup minced waterchestnuts
1 tsp ginger, grated
2 tbsp soy sauce (I used Tamari)
2 tbsp Hoisin sauce
1 clove garlic, grated
2 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp red pepper or 1 tsp chili sauce
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Burger Toppings: Pickled Cucumber and Red Onions, Napa Cabbage and Creamy Hoisin Spread.

Pickled Cucumbers and Red Onion: Stir together 2 tbsp water, 1/2 cup red wine vinegar, 1 red chili pepper, 2 tsp sugar, 1 tsp salt and pepper (to taste). Add 1 thinly sliced red onion and 1 peeled cucumber, cut in half, seeds removed and sliced. Set aside.

Creamy Hoisin Spread:  1/2 cup mayonnaise, 1/4 cup Hoisin sauce, 1 tbsp lime juice, pinch of cayenne pepper, salt and pepper to taste. Stir together and refrigerate until needed.

Stir together all burger ingredients, except ground chuck. Mix well; add ground beef and mix to combine. Make into 8 patties. Grill or cook on stovetop in a large frying pan.

Drizzle burger buns with olive oil and toast. Spread both sides with Hoisin Spread, lay a couple cabbage leaves on the bottom, add a cooked burger, then some cucumbers and onion. Place on the top of bun and enjoy. 

April 12, 2012

Chicken and Quinoa Soup

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I don't know why I don't whip up soup for lunch more often. It's so easy, and healthy, and usually low fat, and tastes good. I could go on, but why?

Today is actually a little on the cool side, so with leftover chicken in the fridge, it just made sense.


I had been thinking about adding rice or potatoes, but then I saw the quinoa in the cabinet and knew, that was the ticket. I'm eating a cup of it as I type this, and let me tell you, it is delicious.

Quinoa has huge health benefits and is a great way to thicken up soups of all flavors.


The amount of soup I made reflected the amount of broth and chicken I had handy. It can be easily increased, as needed.

Chicken and Quinoa Soup
Serves 2-3

1 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
1 bay leaf
1/4 tsp sage
1/4 tsp garlic powder
Salt and pepper
3 1/2 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup quinoa, rinse if needed
1 cup cooked chicken, chopped or shredded
Garnish with fresh chopped parsley

Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a large saucepan and sauté onion, carrots and celery, bay leaf, sage and garlic powder, with a fair pinch of salt and pepper, until vegetables start to soften, about 5 minutes.

Add chicken stock, bring to a boil. Add quinoa and simmer 15 minutes; add cooked chicken and simmer 5-10 minutes more, or until vegetables are cooked. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper if necessary. How much is going to depend on the salt in your broth, if any.

Serve with fresh chopped parsley (if desired).

April 11, 2012

Banana Pudding Cheesecake

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I am a big fan of my mom's banana pudding recipe, so when I came 
across this cheesecake recipe, I knew I had to try it.


I made it for Easter Sunday. IT IS TERRIFIC!

I loved the flavor and it does taste just like banana pudding.

When you take a bite, the flavor is like "Bam" in your mouth. Corny, I 
know, but I don't know how else to explain it.




Banana Pudding Cheese Cake

1 1/2 cups finely crushed vanilla wafers
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup butter, melted
16 vanilla wafers
2 large ripe bananas, diced
1 tablespoon lime juice
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
3 (8-oz.) packages cream cheese, softened 
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup coarsely crushed vanilla wafers
Garnishes: sweetened whipped cream, vanilla wafers, sliced bananas tossed in lime juice

Preheat oven to 350°. 

Crush vanilla wafers in a food processor, add chopped nuts and melted butter; process until combined. Press mixture onto bottom and slightly up sides of a greased and floured 8-inch springform pan (can use 9-inch). Stand 16 vanilla wafers around edge of pan (rounded sides against pan), pressing gently into crust to secure. Bake 10 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack (about 30 minutes).

Combine bananas and lime juice in a small saucepan. Stir in brown sugar. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, 1 minute or just until sugar has dissolved.

Beat cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer 3 minutes or until smooth. Gradually add granulated sugar, beating until blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until yellow disappears after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Gently stir banana mixture into cream cheese mixture. Pour batter into prepared crust.

Bake at 350° for 40 to 50 minutes or until center is almost set. Turn off oven and leave the oven door ajar, and let the cheesecake cool for 20-25 minutes. Remove cheesecake from oven; gently run a knife around edge of cheesecake to loosen and remove side of springform pan. Sprinkle top of cheesecake with coarsely crushed wafers. Cool completely on a wire rack (about 1 hour). Cover and chill 8 hours.

Slightly adapted from Southern Living magazine.

April 9, 2012

Jalapeno and Goat Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breast with Fig Balsamic Sauce

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This has to be one of my very favorite ways to eat chicken.
The combination of flavors are great. 


Tender chicken wrapped around creamy goat cheese and roasted jalapeno, all wrapped up with bacon and drizzled with a fig balsamic sauce. Doesn't get much better than that.


The first thing you need to do is prep all your ingredients. Since your handling chicken you want to make sure everything you need is laid out. Don't forget your toothpicks and have a couple tiny bowls of salt and pepper.


I used an entire jalapeno for each breast, but I think next time, I'm going to cut it back to a half.
It wasn't horribly hot, but I thought it was just a tad too spicy.


Once you have them all wrapped up in bacon you could shove them in the fridge until 
your ready to bake them. Great prep-ahead for entertaining.


While the chicken cooks, prepare the sauce. Fig preserves works just fine, but I bet adding some fresh figs would be wonderful.


5 or 10 minutes before they're done, I like to brush on some glaze so it can caramelize a bit.


And there you have it. 
Oh...and you might want to double the sauce. Just sayin!



Jalapeno and Goat Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Fig Balsamic Sauce

6 slices bacon
6 chicken breasts
3-6 jalapeno
3 oz goat cheese
Salt
Pepper
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup fig preserves

Roast the jalapeno peppers to char the skin by placing them on a baking sheet and cooking them in a 400 degree oven  for 20-25 minutes or until skin is black. Place in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap to cool. Carefully peel off the skin and remove seeds. Reduce oven to 375*

Place chicken breasts between 2 pieces of parchment paper and pound out to an even thickness, apprx. 1/3-1/2 inch thick. Season lightly with salt and pepper. One inch from the end of the breast, lay some jalapeno slices and 1/6 of the goat cheese; then roll up into a cylinder. Wrap with bacon and secure with a toothpick. Repeat with remaining breasts and place on a baking sheet lined with a wire rack. Bake 25 minutes. Pour a small amount of the prepared fig balsamic sauce into a small bowl and brush the chicken with it, then continue cooking 10 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.

Fig Sauce: While chicken cooks, mix fig preserves, balsamic vinegar and a pinch of salt and pepper in a small saucepan. Simmer until mixture is slightly reduced.

Serve with the remaining fig balsamic sauce.  

April 6, 2012

Vegetable Lasagna

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I got a call from my sister the other day, and she told me that my mom had tripped 
over a hose, and fallen face first on a cement sidewalk. Thank the Lord 
she is ok, no broken bones, which I definitely believe was a God thing, but did 
get some ugly bruises on her forehead, cheek, and a massive black eye.


Needless to say, she didn't feel like getting out of the house so, Leah, my sister, 
did her shopping and I made this Vegetable Lasagna to take out to her. 


This is mom. I think she's beautiful!
She called later and told me it was delicious and that they really enjoyed it. 
I've made one quite similar to this before, and it really is tasty. Not as heavy as the ones 
with meat, although they do hit the spot at times.


I start with a quick saute of the mushrooms so they don't make the lasagna watery.


Use the same pan to saute the onion, pepper and garlic.


Simmer the sauce uncovered so it has a chance to thicken up some. 
I think I ended up with about 3/4 cup of leftover sauce. Throw it on some 
cooked pasta and you'll have a quick and tasty lunch.


I don't bother cooking my pasta anymore. It's just one less step and makes clean up 
so much easier. I don't even buy the oven ready pasta, 
just the regular. Sitting in the hot water for the amount of time it takes to get the 
other ingredients ready starts to soften the noodles and the bake in the oven does the rest. 
It turns out with great texture. 


First layer done. Next comes a layer of sauce and more noodles.


Make sure the last layer of sauce covers the entire top, no pasta showing or it will turn out hard. 


Ready to throw in the oven.


Done deal. If you ask me, it looks good enough to eat. 
In fact, I'm gonna be making this again soon, so I can have some.

Linked with Weekend Potluck and Foodie Friday.


Vegetable Lasagna

10 lasagna noodles
3 tbsp olive oil, divided
1 lb portabello mushrooms, gills removed and sliced
1/3 cup onion, minced
1/3 cup red pepper, minced
Pinch of red pepper flakes, if desired
1 tsp Italian seasoning
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 6 oz can tomato paste
2 6 oz cans of water
Salt and pepper
1 medium squash, sliced thin
8 oz cottage cheese, 4% fat
12 oz skim milk ricotta cheese
1 egg, beaten
8 oz part-skim mozzarella, grated
Parmesan or Manchego cheese, grated

Cover lasagna noodles with boiling water and set aside. I used the same dish I cooked the lasagna in, just dry it out before you use it.

Add 1 tbsp of oil to a heated skillet; add mushrooms, a dash of salt and pepper, and sauté 3-5 minutes or until mushrooms give up some of their liquid. Remove to a bowl and set aside.

In the same skillet, add 2 tbsp of olive oil and sauté onions, red peppers, red pepper flakes, Italian seasoning and a dash of salt and pepper until the vegetables start to soften. Add 3 cloves of garlic and sauté 2 minutes more.

Add tomatoes, tomato paste, water and 1 tsp salt. Stir to combine and simmer uncovered 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

In a medium size bowl, stir together ricotta cheese, cottage cheese, 1 beaten egg, dash of salt and pepper and a sprinkle of Italian seasoning.

Spray a 7x11 baking dish with oil and spoon a layer of sauce in the bottom. Lay on 3 lasagna noodles to cover bottom. (I cooked 1 extra noodle and cut into 9 small pieces, because the noodles were just about an inch too short.) Next spread on 1/2 the ricotta mixture, a layer of 1/2 of the squash and 1/2 of the mushrooms, sprinkle on 3oz. of the mozzarella cheese, then a layer of sauce and 3 more noodles. Repeat these steps again ending with a layer of sauce and the remaining 2 oz. of mozzarella. Top with a thin layer of parmesan or manchego cheese. I had both so I used a little of each. I also sprinkled on a little more Italian seasoning.

Bake in a preheated 375* oven for 25-30 minutes. I place a baking sheet on the bottom rack to catch any drips.

April 4, 2012

Grilled Filet Mignon and Vegetables

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Isn't it funny how some of the best meals are the easiest. 
I think a lot of it has to do with the ingredients you use.


This is what my hubby and I grilled up the other night. Actually, he did the grilling, 
I just got it ready.


We had squash, onions, red peppers, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, baby potatoes, 
corn on the cob and the steak.

The meal consisted of some chopping of the vegetables, some olive oil, salt and pepper, a little Worcestershire for the steaks and a hot grill. Oh, and some skewers. 

The little potatoes were just placed directly on the grill. They went on first, a couple minutes later the veggy skewers, then the tomatoes and steak. 

The whole cooking process took about 15 minutes and was the best meal I've had in a while. 
Fresh, clean and wonderfully delicious.


The steaks were the bomb. We ended up buying just 2 of them, but they were so thick, we cut them in half lengthwise and had enough for supper the next night. Super tender with great flavor.


It was fantastic! So good, that we enjoyed the exact same meal the next night. (FYI: the blob of stuff on the right is horseradish, hubby loves it) 

April 3, 2012

Classic Potato Salad

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Potato Salad is one of those perfect picnic foods, and since that's the season 
we're entering, I thought I would post my favorite recipe.


I learned how to make it from my mom, who makes the best ever! 
I can never make it taste exactly like her's, so I have added a few little tweaks of my own.

I think it's equally awesome!

It's actually a really classic recipe. Some people call it Mustard Potato Salad because 
it has mustard in it, but it's the only way I've ever made it.



One of the changes I usually make is to add just a touch of heat. 
Not a lot, just that little something that hangs on the tongue. 

I usually just add a little cayenne pepper to the dressing mixture, but this time I had some Candied Jalapeno that I had made a while ago, and used that in place of the relish. 
It made it a little more spicy than normal and totally hit the spot.


I didn't even get it in the fridge to chill before my other half was digging into a bowl of it. 
He prefers it room temperature with lots of paprika. I like mine chilled.



Classic Potato Salad
Serves 4-6

4 large russet potatoes
3 hard boiled eggs, peeled and chopped
1 large celery stalk, chopped
2 tbsp onion, minced
2 tbsp sweet pickle relish, (or more if desired)
1 tsp salt, divided use
1/2 cup miracle whip
1 tsp vinegar
2 tsp yellow mustard
1/4 tsp celery seed
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp pepper
Pinch of cayenne pepper

Wash potatoes, place in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook until potatoes are fork tender, apprx. 20-30 minutes depending on size of potatoes. When done, drain and cover with cold water to cool. Once cool, peel (it will scrape off easily with a paring knife) and chop.

Place in a large bowl with eggs. To cook your eggs just cover with cold water and bring to a boil. Turn off heat and cover; let sit for 11-12 minutes. Drain and refill pot with ice water to cool eggs. Peel and chop.

Sprinkle 1/2 tsp of salt on potato/egg mixture, add celery, onions and relish. Stir gently.

In a smaller bowl mix miracle whip, remaining 1/2 tsp of salt and rest of ingredients. Add to the potatoes and stir gently until mixed. Sprinkle with paprika. Chill until ready to serve.