Sunday, May 30, 2010

Light & Refreshing Citrus Punch

I know this punch looks plain and boring but don't underestimate this! We had it over the weekend at a graduation party and everyone loved it. I came home and started searching around for other recipes and found out it is popular so I guess I was in the dark because I had never heard of it! I will definitely make this myself at home. It is just the right balance of sweet and light, not overpowering at all. As far as finding the citric acid, I am told it can be found at a pharmacy, at the local grocery store near the canning supplies, or at kitchen supply stores such as Orson Gygi's (Utah).

What You Need:
2 tablespoons citric acid
1 bag crushed ice
5 quarts water
2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons lemon extract
3 sliced lemons
3 sliced limes
3 sliced oranges

Stir water, sugar, citric acid, and extract together. One of the recommendations I read is to use a glass container and pour your ingredients from glass as well (such as glass jars) or the punch may look cloudy. I think adding the sliced lemon, lime and orange would help with the cloudy look too. Add sliced fruit and ice and enjoy!

*Photo courtesy of Real Mom Kitchen*

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Raspberry Orange Cinnamon Rolls

A version of this recipe can be found at Rhodes Rolls and another at Real Mom Kitchen, and you can certainly take your pick. I'm sure any way you do it is wonderful since it is a cinnamon roll, after all. We had these for breakfast Sunday morning and mine were different than both recipes because I bought regular cinnamon rolls instead of the orange ones. I also took a suggestion from one version and added orange zest to the raspberry pie filling. Very easy and delicious!

What You Need:
8 Rhodes™ Orange Rolls, frozen (I used the Regular rather than the Anytime, as well as the non-orange!)
1 cup raspberry pie filling
1 cream cheese frosting packet (included with rolls)
1-2 teaspoons of orange zest (use a plane or regular grater and don't grate into the white pith)

Place 8 rolls in a greased 9×13-inch baking pan. Spoon raspberry pie filling evenly over top.
Cover with sprayed plastic wrap and let rise until double in size according to package directions. I did the overnight method. They were not completely risen in the morning but did after about 30 minutes at room temperature. Remove wrap and bake at 350°F 15-20 minutes. Cool for 5-10 minutes. Drizzle with cream cheese frosting. Yummy!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Citrus & Lime Pulled Pork

This was a new recipe and I added it to our regular dinner rotation right away! We loved this version of shredded pork so much I have been wanting it ever since. Now this recipe has you starting with a full 2 pound pork loin but I am almost always using leftover pork loin or beef roast when I do pulled pork. So the first night we will have the roast, and then the next night or so I shred it and use it for something like this. Anyway, there isn't much else to say besides that this is awesome. Besides in tortillas, I think this would make a fabulous salad, sandwich, or it would also be great on navajo tacos. I will be posting a recipe for the fry bread soon. You will not be sorry with this one!

 I usually note where I found the orginal recipe but I can't remember! I know there were versions on several different sites including Food Network.

What You Need:
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp chipotle chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1 pork loin (~2 pounds)
1 small onion, peeled and quartered
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chicken broth or stock
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1 Tbsp honey
1 orange, halved and juiced
1 lime, halved and juiced
salt and pepper, to taste
Garnishes as desired

Preheat the oven to 325°F (if not using crock pot)
Combine the spices (oregano, chili powder, cumin), pork, onion chicken broth/stock, tomato paste, honey, orange and lime juice. Add to crock pot or oven safe pot.
Cook until the pork is tender and easily shreds. Close to serving time, remove the pork loin from the pot and shred the meat with forks. Return to the pot and let it cook in the liquid for about another 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper if desired, but I don't think you will find the need to.

*Times*: If you are using the crock pot, times are about 4 hours on high, 6-8 on low. In the oven, you should be fully cooked at about 2 hours.

Serve with garnishes of your choice and tortillas. I've mentioned before our favorite kind are the uncooked that you crisp up on your own. Don Julio has a version of these in the refrigerated section and Coscto sells a brand called Tortilla Land. Enjoy!


Sunday, May 23, 2010

Chicken in Basil Cream

This is one of our repeat family favorites and comes from Taste of Home. The flavor in this dish is perfect. I would rank this as one of my top 5 favorites at home. Now, when it comes to breading, once I started using Panko bread crumbs I could never go back. At my local store, they are sold usually on the baking aisle near the flour or with the Asian foods. They are larger, give more of a crunch and brown better. Give them a try sometime if you haven't. If regular bread crumbs are all you have on hand or you prefer them, they will work just fine. I promise you will love this!

What You Need:
1/4 cup dry bread crumbs {I prefer Panko}
1/4 cup milk
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts halved or 6-8 chicken tenderloins
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 cup heavy whipping cream or half and half
1 jar diced pimientos, drained
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup minced fresh basil

Place milk and bread crumbs in separate shallow dishes. Dip chicken in milk, then coat with crumbs. In a skillet over medium-high heat, cook chicken in butter on both sides until juices run clear. Remove from pan and keep warm. Add chicken broth to the skillet and stir to loosen browned bits. Stir in the cream and pimientos and heat through. Do not let it boil or it will curdle. Add parmesan cheese, basil and pepper. Cook and stir until heated through. Pour over the chicken.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Antipasti Salad

In the upcoming summer months there will be no shortage of barbecues, picnics and other get-togethers that call for all kinds of salads. I tend to prefer those that use vinaigrette style dressings. They can be made ahead, improve in flavor as they sit, and lessen the risk of spoilage in the warmer months. This style is one of my favorites! As far as the olives go, I didn't specify because there are many choices and preferences out there. I like green or kalamata olives, or you can use simple black.

1 lb. rotini pasta
1 12 oz. jar artichoke hearts, drained
1 12 oz. jar roasted red peppers, drained
1 3.8 oz. can sliced olives, drained
1/4 lb. chopped pepperoni or salami
6 oz. cubed or shredded mozzarella cheese
shredded or grated parmesan cheese
1 8 oz. bottle Italian dressing with balsamic vinegar (I used Brianna's New American)

Cook the pasta according to package direction. Drain well and add to a large bowl. Chop the artichoke hearts and roasted red peppers. Add the artichoke hearts, red peppers and olives to the pasta and mix well.
Pour the dressing in and stir to coat. Chill for at least 30 minutes until ready to serve. Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 5 days, refrigerated.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Ultimate Grilling Marinade

Marinades are my favorite thing on busy nights and especially those when I haven't had time to get to the grocery store. I can always find enough ingredients to throw together some kind of marinade and use it for whatever type of meat and cut is in the freezer. I also like that doing this can use up wierd amounts of things that are sitting around like partial cans of tomato paste, crushed pineapple, get the picture. Here is one I used last night and thought it was great. Just don't do what I did! I shoved this in the fridge rushing out the door to a t-ball game and it tipped and went all over the fridge while we were gone. My suggestion for marinating is to place the meat in a storage bag (like a Ziploc), pour in the marinade and let it hang out. No mess! We like to grill outdoors but you can also use an indoor grill pan or whatever else you like. I thought this would be especially good for kabobs paired with sweet fruits and vegetables like pineapple, yellow peppers and cherry tomatoes.

Here is another tip I heard recently that I plan on using. Why not double up the meat and marinade and freeze half? On another night you could just pull the bag out of the freezer, place it in the fridge for the day or overnight and not think about it again until dinner!

What You Need:
1 cup soy sauce
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup melted butter
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon ground mustard

Mix all ingredients and marinate chicken (or meat of your choice) for at least 30 minutes or up to overnight. Grill meat until cooked thoroughly. Enjoy!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Strawberry Cream Puff Pie

I've mentioned before that I am not the best at baking, but once I saw this over at My Kitchen Cafe I knew I had to try. I made this recipe for Mother's Day. I grew up with my grandma making cream puffs and while I've never been brave enough to try, I am glad I did. This is not only delicious but beautiful in presentation. It looks like a lot of steps but was truly not difficult. I made one slight variation noted at the bottom. Definitely a keeper!

What You Need: (Cream Puff Base)
5 tablespoons butter
2/3 cup water
1 tablespoon sugar
2/3 cup flour
3 eggs

For Cream Cheese Mixture:
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon fresh orange zest
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2/3 cup powdered sugar

For the cream puff layer, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Bring the butter, water and sugar to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the flour all at once and stir quickly until the mixture pulls away from the sides of the pan. Remove the pan from the heat and stir the mixture until smooth. Let cool for 5 minutes.

Add the eggs one at a time and beat until the mixture is shiny with a satiny sheen. Don’t overbeat. Lightly grease the bottom and sides of a 9-inch spring form pan (or in a pinch, you could use a 9-inch circle cake pan). Using an offset spatula, spread the mixture on the bottom and one inch up the sides of the prepared pan. Bake for 25 minutes.

The original recipe said: remove from the oven and prick pastry with a toothpick 10-12 times. Return to the oven and bake 5-10 minutes more until golden brown but not over baked (you can insert a toothpick into the center and if it comes out with sticky dough, it still needs longer in the oven). However, mine was completely done after the first 25 minutes. Cool completely.

For the cream cheese mixture, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Gradually add the powdered sugar (if you want to ensure there are no lumps, sift the powdered sugar into the cream cheese) and beat with the cream cheese until mixture is smooth and light. Add the remaining ingredients and beat until stiff peaks form. Spread onto the cooled cream puff shell.

The original recipe said: top with fresh sliced strawberries (I mixed 2 cups of strawberries with 2 teaspoon sugar and let them hang out in the fridge while I was prepping the cake) or you can use a 16-ounce bag of frozen strawberries that have been thawed. Mix the thawed strawberries and juice with 1-2 teaspoons sugar and bring to a simmer in a saucepan. Cook until slightly thickened.
For that last step, I used a 14 oz bag of frozen sliced strawberries (Birdseye brand), thawed. I used those to top the pie without any of the extra steps of mixing with the sugar or cooking it and they worked wonderfully. Why not save yourself some work?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Three Cheese Italian Bread

I am taking this with us on our picnic this weekend too, along with a Raspberry Lime Rickey that I plan on posting about later. I found this recipe at Real Mom Kitchen. The weekend is almost here!

What You Need:
2 1/2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
1 Packet of Yeast
1 Cup Warm Water
1 Teaspoon Granulated Sugar
1 Teaspoon Salt
4 Tablespoons Vegetable or Olive Oil (I used olive oil)
3/4 Teaspoon Dried Rosemary
3/4 Teaspoon Dried Oregano
3/4 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
1/2 Cup Mozzarella Cheese, shredded
1/4 Cup Sharp Cheddar Cheese, shredded
1/8 Cup Parmesan Cheese, grated

In a large bowl or mixer dissolve the yeast in warm water, then add sugar and stir. Let the mixture sit for 10 minutes until foamy bubbles appear sporadically.
Add salt, rosemary, oregano, garlic powder, 2 tablespoons of the oil, and flour; mix well until dough is smooth. Cover the bowl with a towel and let the dough rest for about 10 minutes.
With remaining 2 tablespoons of oil, pour it into a round cake pan and coat the bottom and sides leaving no area untouched. Place the dough in the pan and spread it out evenly slightly poking your fingers down into the dough. Sprinkle evenly with the cheeses. I let the dough rest another 10-15 minutes in the pan. Bake in a pre-heated 425 degree oven for 15-20 minutes or until cheese starts to turn golden brown.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Roasted Red Pepper Dip

I've been making this for quite a few years so I am not sure where I got the recipe. We are planning a picnic this weekend and this came to mind. As its starting to warm up (a little) all the fresh colorful veggies are starting to look better and yummy red peppers are no exception! This has always been popular at get togethers and only has 4 ingredients.

What You Need:
1 red bell pepper, cut into sections, seeds and ribs removed
1 8 oz package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sour cream
4 cloves garlic, peeled and whole
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Grease a cookie sheet/baking pan or drizzle with olive oil and place peppers and garlic onto the pan. Bake until garlic is soft and peppers are golden around the edges and tender. Let cool. Combine sour cream and cream cheese. Put pepper and garlic into a blender or food processor and puree. Combine with the cream cheese mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with chips, veggies, pitas or crostini bread.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Grandma's Chicken Noodle Soup

My grandma used to make this recipe and I was lucky enough to ask her how she made it before she passed away. This is a creamy soup rather than broth and very simple and budget friendly. It is also yet another recipe that you just may have the ingredients on hand or can easily subsitute what you don't. At my house it is raining plus I have a little boy with a cold, so this is what I'm making for dinner tonight! I apologize that the amounts are not super exact but that is how my grandma cooked and passed recipes on. Isn't that the beauty of cooking versus baking, though? It doesn't have to be perfect.

Money saving tip: I used to buy canned chicken broth but now stick only with buillion cubes or granules and make my own. I can get 50 cups of chicken broth out of my Wyler's granules for around $3, which is about the cost of 2 cans alone. I decided throwing some water in the microwave and adding the granules is just not that difficult for those savings.

These are the noodles I use. They are found in the freezer section and are the really thick, fat kind. Grandma's Egg Noodles:

What You Need:
4-6 chicken breasts (Rotisserie chicken is great too but sometimes is not quite as much meat as I would like in this)
Soup noodles (Use egg noodles or rice)
4 cups chicken broth
4 cups water
36 oz. canned cream of chicken soup (one family sized can plus one 10 oz can will do it)
1 small onion, diced
3-4 carrots, sliced
2-3 celery stalks, sliced
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste

Sautee onion and celery in a tablespoon of oil until onions are translucent. Add bay leaf, chicken broth and water and bring to a boil. Whisk in cream soup. Let simmer at least 30 minutes or until carrots are cooked through. Add cooked chicken either shredded or cut into bite-size pieces. Salt and pepper to taste. Add cooked noodles or rice just before serving. Note: If I plan to either freeze extra or have leftovers another day, I leave the noodles/rice out and just add them to each bowl before eating. If you don't, they will soak up all the liquid and you will have goop the second time around!

Serve with warm bread and enjoy!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Mini Breakfast Pizzas

I think of this as more of an idea rather than a recipe, since you can pretty much choose the ingredients to suit your own taste. Especially with kids, it can get difficult coming up with ways to serve meals that they are excited about eating. Lunch is one of the harder ones for me, even more so having a picky eater on my hands! Anyway, I found a version of this in Taste of Home and threw these together one morning with my own variations. I was pleasantly surprised that they really didn't take very long and ended up being a quick, hot breakfast.

I used canned pizza dough (Pillsbury, I think), rolled it out and cut the rounds with a large plastic cup. However, next time I am going to try the crescent roll dough instead. I think the flaky, lighter texture would be better. I also cooked the bacon in the microwave for the first time. (Was everyone already doing this but me?) Between two paper towels on a plate it took 6 minutes and no mess! Lastly, I left the eggs just slightly runny before putting them on the dough and they finish cooking in the oven. Otherwise I think they would dry out.

What You Need:
6 eggs, scrambled (or about 1 egg per pizza)
1 can pizza or crescent roll dough
10 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled (or sausage, ham, etc)
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese

Roll out dough and cut into rounds using a cookie cutter, cup or bowl the size you want. Place on greased baking sheets. Spoon egg evenly over rounds. Sprinkle with bacon and cheese.  Bake at 350° for 15 minutes or until the cheese is melted.

I'd love to know if you try these and what other toppings you used! Leave a comment below. Thanks to everyone who has become a fan on Facebook!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Cheddar Chicken

I found this recipe in Real Simple magazine and tried it right away. It was a hit at our house plus very quick and easy! As a side note, I love love Real Simple magazine and their website. If you haven't had the pleasure of this resource before, I highly recommend it for tips, recipes, and great articles.

What You Need:
16 buttery crackers (such as Ritz), crushed (about 3⁄4 cup)
6 ounces sharp Cheddar, grated (I am a fan of Tillamook brand)
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
salt and black pepper
4 6-ounce boneless, skinless chicken breasts
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Heat oven to 350° F. In a bowl, combine the crackers, cheese, garlic, and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper.
Dip the chicken in the butter, then in the cracker mixture, pressing gently to help it adhere, and place on a foil-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle any remaining cracker mixture on the chicken and drizzle with any remaining butter. Bake until the chicken is golden brown and cooked through, 25 to 30 minutes.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Thick & Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Cook's Illustrated magazine has a cookbook called American Classics that is one of my favorites in my collection. Rather than just recipes, they have tested each one over and over again using different methods and ingredients. Then they take the time in the book to explain what they were going for, what each change did, and the final outcome. For chocolate chip cookies, they have tested and printed a way to get thick and chewy cookies or thin and crispy cookies. The recipe I'm sharing today is for the thick and chewy, a personal preference. Who doesn't like cookies and milk once in awhile? Comfort food at its best.
One thing I do know about baking, forget greasing cookie sheets! Line them with parchment paper. Nothing will stick, and when you are done you throw away the paper with no mess.

What You Need:
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons (1 1/2) sticks unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
1 large egg PLUS 1 egg YOLK
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1-1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips or chunks

Adjust the oven racks to the upper and lower middle positions and heat the oven to 325 degrees. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
Whisk the flour, baking soda and salt together in a medium bowl and set aside.
In a separate bowl, beat the cooled melted butter, sugar and brown sugar at low speed until blended, about 1 minute. Add the egg, yolk, and vanilla. Mix until fully incorporated, about another minute. Slowly add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined, about two minutes. Do not overbeat. Stir in chips or chunks.
Roll a 1/4 cup of dough for each ball and place onto cookie sheet, leaving 2 1/2 inches between each.
Bake, reversing the position of the sheets halfway through the baking time (from top to bottom and front to back) until the cookies are slightly golden brown and outer edges start to harden yet centers are soft and puffy. 15 to 18 minutes. Cool the cookies on the sheets. When cooled, peel cookies from the parchment.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Quick & Easy Shredded Chicken Tacos

This recipe could not be more easy or tasty and best of all, it is done in the crock pot. This would be perfect for a get-together or a busy family night and makes great leftovers. If you haven't noticed, we eat a lot of homemade Mexican recipes at our house. If you want to add a little extra to your Mexican meals at home, I have to tell you that we discovered uncooked tortillas a few years ago and we are hooked. Costco sells them but recently I found our local grocery store has them in a different brand as well. You just lay these on the hot pan and they bubble and crisp up. The flavor is over the top once toasted. You may never go back. "Tortilla Land" is the Costco brand. I divide them up into packs of 4 and freeze them. They thaw in minutes on the counter when you are ready to use them.

As for this recipe, about 30 minutes before serving time, I remove the chicken breasts from the crock pot, shred the chicken with a fork, and place it back into the crock for a bit. Serve this as a taco, rolled up in enchiladas, whatever you like! Top with your favorite garnish.

What You Need:
1 (16 oz.) bottle Zesty Italian Dressing
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin
3 cloves garlic, minced
4-6 skinless, boneless chicken breasts

Combine in crock pot and cook low about 3 hours. Yes, that's it!

Cinco de Mayo Black Bean Salsa

You can call this a salsa, salad or dip but it is super simple combo you can serve with tortilla chips or over rice, chicken, etc. My favorite way to eat this is topped on a  crostini. I just use a baguette, slice, brush with oil and toast under the broiler. (Similar to a bruschetta-type bread). Great recipe for a get-together! The Caribbean black beans are just near the regular black beans but I notice sometimes my store has them and sometimes they don't. This is just a type seasoned with spices and tropical flavors. If you can't find them, just use the regular black beans.

What You Need:
1 can Caribbean black beans
1 can diced tomatoes
1 onion, chopped (green, sweet, whatever your preference)
1 diced avocado
chopped cilantro (or parsley if you prefer)
Optional ideas:
1 drained can of sweet or mexican corn
2 Serrano, yellow or chipotle peppers, julienned or diced
1 diced mango

3 tablespoons fresh lime juice (3-4 limes)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
or, salt and pepper to taste
OR, use your favorite spicy bottled vinaigrette.

Combine ingredients and set aside. Mix dressing and combine with salsa mixture. Let sit refrigerated overnight!