Thursday, July 21, 2011

Chicken & Dumplings

Chicken and dumplings is such a cozy comfort food meal.  I adore it, and decided on a whim to make it this evening.

For the chicken broth part, I just made it up as I went – however for the dumplings I did pull up an official recipe (see below).

To pull together a chicken soup base from scratch there are just a few important things to remember. Seasonings (I used thyme, parsley, salt, pepper and dill), sautéing (onions, mushrooms and carrots together brings about a beautiful flavor, but you can use whatever veggies are your faves), and thickening (cornstarch or flour mixed with either butter or milk to thicken the sauce to desired consistency). 

You can decide if you want to roast, poach, or pan cook your chicken… whole chicken or just the breast… decide on veggies and favorite seasonings (I find rosemary, thyme, dill, and oregano work best)… chicken stock only for a broth base or add a little buttermilk for tang (I LOVE this!)… the options are endless.  Have fun with it!

Dumpling Ingredients
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1-1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup milk
Directions
  1. In a bowl, mix the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, thyme, parsley, and oregano. Cut in butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Gradually add milk, using just enough to form a thick batter.
  2. Drop by rounded tablespoons into your simmering soup or stew, cover, and allow to cook 15 minutes.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Black Magic Cake – moist and divine!

This cake is brilliantly done with surprise highlights of coffee and buttermilk.  Oh so moist and velvety!

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Ingredients
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup strong brewed coffee
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour two 9 inch round cake pans or one 9x13 inch pan.
  2. In large bowl combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Make a well in the center.
  3. Add eggs, coffee, buttermilk, oil and vanilla. Beat for 2 minutes on medium speed. Batter will be thin. Pour into prepared pans.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 30 to 40 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes, then remove from pans and finish cooling on a wire rack. Fill and frost as desired.

Frosting

  • 1/4 cup softened butter
  • 1.5 cups pwd sugar
  • 1 oz semi sweet choc (melted and semi cooled)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Whip together 2 minutes with beater and smooth on cake.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

random makes wonderful – pulled pork sandwich

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This weekend I made my homemade BBQ sauce to garnish some beautiful pulled pork with, but when I was ready to make my typical pulled pork sandwich, I just didn’t feel like being typical.

Instead of eating the pulled pork plain on a bun (which is nothing to turn your nose up at to begin with!), I purchased Hawaiian rolls for added sweetness, layered on slices of sharp Vermont white cheddar cheese and finished with a juicy slice of mango.  It was a combination of tangy, sweet, spicy and smooth that I’ll definitely be having again. 

An added bit of “special” would be to grill the mango briefly before topping on the sandwich.  Another great add would be to swap out the mango for pineapple.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Chicken Tacos

I love chicken tacos.  They’re versatile, almost effortless, and are a winner with almost anyone.

When I make chicken tacos, I typically make them 1 of 2 ways.

Option 1: Marinate skinless chicken breasts in lime juice, cumin, taco seasoning (I like Ortega), and a splash of olive oil overnight.  Either slicing the breasts or keeping whole, I then sauté the chicken until slightly crispy on the outside and done through.  Trick – if the chicken is not cooked through yet, but the oil of the pan is cooked away and you don’t want to add more – just add a little water the the pan and cover until done.  This will steam the chicken while keeping moist.

Option 2: Poach skinless chicken breasts in water, lime juice a few garlic cloves.  Additional poaching add – chicken broth or chicken bouillon.  Once chicken is cooked, shred breasts like pulled pork.  Place shredded chicken in big plastic ziploc bag and add taco seasoning and light cumin.  Shake bag and thoroughly coat chicken in seasonings.  Leave overnight for best flavor integration. Squeeze lime juice over chicken again before serving.

For toppings – cilantro, sour cream, lettuce, tomatoes, and queso cheese make fabulous additions.  If you like to switch things up a bit – swap the sour cream for avocado and the lettuce for thinly sliced cabbage.  Delish!

Puff Pastry recipe

I usually use pre-made puff pastry dough just for ease and convenience, but I came across a good recipe online for making puff pastry from scratch and wanted to share it with you – enjoy!

http://homecooking.about.com/od/breadrecipes/r/blbread85.htm

 

puff pastry

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Grilled Veggie Pizza

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I just came back from a trip to Orlando, FL Disney World where I ate all the yummy not-so-good-for-you food I could contain, and unfortunately gained back a few of the recent pounds I had lost.  Now it’s back to healthy living!

Since I’m still a bit in the mood of craving the non-healthy stuff, I decided to revamp an old favorite – pizza!

Instead of typical dough, I used a low fat sundried tomato flat wrap.  Then, I spread hummus for my base (although regular pizza sauce would have worked great as well).  I topped with grilled vegetables from last nights dinner including zucchini, mushrooms, asparagus, and tomatoes, and finally I topped with goats cheese crumbles.

Bake in a 400 degree oven for about 7 mins and it’s time to eat!  There’s no better way to get back on track than this delish dish.

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Friday, July 8, 2011

Staples + Zucchini Rolls

Since starting the beauty detox solution, kale and lentils have become a staple in my diet.  My daily dinners tend to look as follows: blend of greens, lentils for a little starch, additional vegetables, and if I need something a little creamy – either hummus or avocado.

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I recently made zucchini rolls that were delish (see above).  I thinly sliced the zucchini length wise, then put a small dollop of goat’s cheese, along with a few spinach leaves and 1 basil leaf onto the zucchini slice.  I rolled it all together and voila, ready to eat!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Green Drink Smoothie

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Green Drink Smoothie from the “Beauty Detox Solution”:

  • 1.5 cup water
  • 1 head romaine lettuce
  • 1 cup / bunch of spinach or kale
  • 1 organic apple
  • 1 organic pear
  • 1 organic banana
  • juice of 1 organic lemon

Blend first 4 ingredients, then add last 3, blend again and drink up!

It’s not super filling, but tastes pretty good and start the day off with more nutrients than most people get in an entire day!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Pie Crust Recipe

This recipe is one of my favorites for pastry dough / pie crust.  It’s from Food Network’s Alex’s Day Off.  I adore her and hope you do too.  Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, chilled and cubed, plus 1 tablespoon for pan
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling dough
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 cup shortening, chilled and cubed
  • 1/2 to 2/3 cup, plus 2 tablespoons ice water

Directions:

Coat the pie tin with 1 tablespoon of butter. Clear and clean off a large, flat surface. Lightly flour the area.

Combine the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse to combine. Pulse in the shortening and 1 stick of the butter. Add some of the ice water and continue to mix until it looks like wet sand. Scrape down the sides of the bowl before adding more water and pulse again until it just comes together into a ball.

Put the dough on the floured surface and roll it into a ball. Cut in half. Reserve the second half. Using a rolling pin, roll out the first half, until its at least 4 to 5 inches wider than the 9-inch pie tin, about 1/4-inch thick. Gently roll the dough onto your floured rolling pin and lay the dough into the pie tin. Press it into the bottom and the sides of the tin.

Roll the second half of the dough larger than the pie tin for the top of the pie. Gingerly lay it on a baking sheet and refrigerate it until filling is ready.