Monday, November 24, 2014

Pork Schnitzel

Tender pork cutlets are quickly dredged, pan fried, and served with a creamy dill sauce. Take a break from the endless chicken dinners and put some pork chops to use! This easy family friendly one pan meal is on the table in 30 minutes or less.

Judging by the crowds at Costco this weekend, many of us are making preparations already for Turkey Day. The week of Thanksgiving (or any food centered holiday) is a rough one for meal plans. The last thing you want to do is destroy your kitchen, or stand at the stove for long periods of time, but you also don't want to eat 3 nights of take-out!

Unlike most food bloggers this week, I'm not sharing a Thanksgiving-appropriate dish. Instead, I'm sharing the perfect Thanksgiving week dinner. It's fast, uses no oven, and dirties just one pan!

This is one of my favorite pork dishes. I'm not a huge pork chop fan but this recipe is the exception. It's thin, crispy, and cooks up fast and I LOVE dill so the creamy dill sauce is like the icing on top! When I had this dish at a German restaurant in Fredericksburg, TX, it was served alongside spaetzle so I usually follow suit when we make it at home.

I originally shared this recipe over 2 years ago and it deserved a revisit!

Pork Schnitzel
4 boneless pork chops
1/4 cup flour
1 egg
2 tablespoons milk
1 cup panko
1 teaspoon ground paprika
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1.5 cups chicken stock
4 teaspoons chopped fresh dill
1 cup sour cream
salt and pepper to taste

Place the pork chops between two sheets of wax paper and pound to a 1/8 inch thickness. Trim fat from around the edges and make a cup of small slits in the center of each piece to avoid curling during cooking.

In a shallow bowl, add the flour along with some salt and pepper. In another shallow bowl, whisk together the egg and milk until frothy. In a third shallow bowl, mix together the panko and paprika. 

Dredge each pork chop in the flour mixture first, followed by the egg, and then finally the panko, pressing to make sure the panko adheres. 

Once all pieces are coated, heat vegetable oil in a deep skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the pork until golden brown and cooked through, about 3-4 minutes per side. Be sure to not overcrowd the pan. Place the chops in a warm oven to keep warm.

Pour the chicken stock in the hot skillet and reduce heat to low, scraping up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan. As the stock simmers, stir together the dill and sour cream in a bowl. Using a ladle, remove about 1/2 cup of the simmering stock and whisk it into the sour cream mixture. Pour the contents of the bowl into the skillet. Heat until warm and thick, about 5 minutes. 

Serve the sauce over the pork. 

Source: adapted from All Recipes 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Butternut Squash Cod Chowder

A warm, flavorful, one-pot chowder stocked full of bacon, butternut squash, and cod. Perfect for chilly nights!

Lately, the weather in Charlotte has been warmer than my home in Texas! Though that will likely change in the next couple of days, we are still much better off (or worse off, depending upon how you feel!) than other parts of the country that are already covered in snow and freezing temps. There are few things better than a roaring fire and a big bowl of soup on a cold night - especially on a day that keeps you out in the elements. I'm always on the hunt for one pot (read: easy) soup/stew/chowder recipes to get us through the cold winter months so here is one to start the season off.

This is actually the first fish based chowder recipe I'm sharing and it's a great one. Fish cooks super fast, is healthy, and a nice change from the usual chicken-beef-pork rotation many of us stick with. You could use any very firm white fish but cod works especially well alongside butternut squash.

This chowder is so substantial that when served alongside a chunk of baguette, it's a meal!

Butternut Squash Cod Chowder
8 slices thick cut bacon, chopped
1 onion, diced
4 stalks celery, diced
2 tablespoons fresh dill, finely chopped
1.5 cups diced butternut squash (or 1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and diced)
1.5 tablespoons flour
3.5 cups vegetable stock
1/2 cup clam juice
12 ounces skinless cod fillets, cut into bite sized pieces
1/2 cup heavy cream
pinch of cayenne

In a large dutch oven over medium-high heat, cook the bacon until crispy, about 3 minutes. With a slotted spoon, remove the bacon and set aside. 

Drain off all but 2 tablespoons bacon grease then add the celery and onion. Cook until the vegetables are tender, about 8 minutes. Stir in the dill and cook for 1 minute. Add the squash and flour and cook, stirring, until the flour begins to brown, about 2 minutes. 

Stir in the vegetable stock and clam juice and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until the squash is tender, about 10-12 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Add the cod, cover, and simmer until the fish flakes easily with a fork, 4-5 minutes. Stir in the cream, cayenne, and 3/4 of the bacon, reserving 1/4 for topping. Taste and adjust salt and pepper if needed.

Right before serving, top with a pinch of reserved bacon.

Source: adapted from Rachael Ray

Monday, November 10, 2014

Baked Broccoli & Ham Mac and Cheese

Hot pasta, diced ham, and broccoli florets are tossed in a creamy cheese sauce, topped with breadcrumbs and Parmesan, and baked to perfection. Comforting, warm, and a crowd pleaser.

Yeah, mac and cheese is where it's at. I've yet to meet someone who isn't a fan and if I did, I wouldn't want to know them long as there is something seriously wrong. Pasta. Cheese. The End.

Sometimes, you just want to eat mac and cheese for dinner. And while you think a big bowl of it is a perfectly acceptable meal, your husband does not... because there is no meat.

So you toss in ham for him. And because he insisted on meat, you throw in broccoli because you love it. And it makes it healthy.

Baked until bubbly and stuff your face worthy.

This is also perfect for those times when you need to deliver a home cooked meal to a friend!

Baked Broccoli & Ham Mac and Cheese
16 ounces pasta (your choice of shape)
1.5 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup flour
2 cups milk
1 cup chicken broth
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
salt and pepper to taste
12 ounce bag fresh broccoli florets, cut into bite sized pieces
8 ounces diced ham
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
1/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs

In a large pot of boiling water, cook the pasta and broccoli according to the package directions for al dente. Drain well and set aside.

Coat a 9x13 baking pan with cooking spray and set aside. Preheat oven to 375.

In a large skillet, melt butter. Add the onion and cook over low heat for 2 minutes. Sprinkle in the flour and cook another minute. Add the milk and chicken broth and whisk. Raise heat to 375 and bring to a boil; cook about 5 minutes or until the sauce is smooth and thick. Season with salt and pepper.

Remove sauce from heat and add the cheese, a handful at a time, stirring until completely melted. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed. Stir in the chopped ham, cooked pasta, and broccoli and mix well.

Pour into the prepared pan and top with breadcrumbs and Parmesan. Lightly spray the top with additional cooking spray.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, then broil for an additional 1-3 minutes or until the breadcrumbs are golden brown on top.

Source: adapted from Skinnytaste

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Honey Walnut Shrimp (Panda Express Copycat)

Light and crispy battered shrimp are quickly fried and then tossed in a sweet and creamy sauce with candied walnuts. Restaurant quality in minutes!

I love making restaurant copycat dishes at home... especially since our favorite local Chinese restaurant closed and we haven't found a safe alternative. Honey Walnut Shrimp is a standard dish on most Chinese restaurant menus - and a popular one at Panda Express - and it's absolutely my favorite. The batter is always light and crunchy and the sauce is addictive. Top it off with candied nuts and what could go wrong?

The key to your success in mastering the Chinese restaurant batter is rice flour. It does something magical to your batter making it adhere perfectly to the shrimp and fry up quickly and perfectly. Plus, it's naturally gluten free!

This is one of our top favorite recipes, and I can never seem to make enough. It'll be a family favorite in your house, too!

I first shared this recipe 4 years ago and it deserved an update and new photo!

Honey Walnut Shrimp
1 cup water
2/3 cup white sugar
1/2 cup walnut (whole or pieces)
4 egg whites
2/3 cup rice flour
1 pound large shrimp, peeled, deveined, and tails removed - don't pat dry
1/4 cup mayonnaise (not Miracle Whip)
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon canned sweetened condensed milk
1 cup vegetable oil, for frying

Combine the water and sugar together in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and add the walnuts. Boil for 2 minutes, drain, and spread walnuts out on a cookie sheet to dry.

Whip egg whites in a medium mixing bowl until foamy. Stir in the rice flour (it should be pasty in consistency). 

Heat the oil in a heavy deep skillet over medium-high heat. One hot enough to fry, dip each shrimp in the batter and then fry until golden brown, about 5 minutes total. Remove to a plate lined with paper towels using a slotted spoon. 

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the mayonnaise, honey, and sweetened condensed milk. Add the shrimp and gently toss in the sauce. Sprinkle the candied walnuts on top. 

Source: adapted from All Recipes 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Cinnamon Swirl Banana Bread

The perfect banana bread! Moist, easy, delicious, and accented with a thick swirl of cinnamon sugar. Don't throw out those brown bananas - make this instead!

A few weeks ago we went on vacation. And in typical pre-vacation form, I was frantically cleaning my house, doing laundry, packing, and sorting through the fridge the night before we left.

Jason had bought 7 bananas, stored them behind a box on the counter, and promptly forgot about them. I discovered them at midnight while cleaning the kitchen. So what does anyone do when exhausted and stressed about getting it all done? They bake.

Thankfully, this is a toss-it-together-in-5-minutes baking exercise so I wasn't up all night. Since we had so many bananas, I made 2 loaves. One went with us on vacation and one was frozen. Both were perfect in every way! And, I didn't have to throw out 7 super ripe bananas on our way out of town.

You could add a powdered sugar glaze over top if you like a super sweet banana bread. I don't think it needs it :)

Cinnamon Swirl Banana Bread
For the bread:
2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
4 tablespoons butter, room temperature
2 eggs
3 very ripe bananas, mashed (should be 1.5 cups)
1/3 cup plain or Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the swirl:
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350. Spray a 9x5 loaf pan with cooking spray and set aside. In a small bowl, combine the sugar and cinnamon for the swirl and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon and set aside. In a large bowl, beat the brown sugar and butter with a hand mixer until well blended. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well in between each. Stir in the mashed bananas, yogurt, and vanilla. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and gently mix together. Don't overmix.

Spoon half the batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle the cinnamon/sugar mixture over top. Spoon the remaining batter and smooth it out on top. 

Bake for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool for 15 minutes then transfer the bread out of the pan and onto a cooling rack. 

Store in a sealed container at room temperature or wrap it well and freeze. 

Source: adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction

Monday, November 3, 2014

Saag Paneer Enchiladas

The popular Indian spinach and cheese dish, saag paneer, transformed into enchiladas! Saag paneer is rolled in flour tortillas, topped with a yogurt based cilantro mint sauce, and baked until bubbly. This vegetarian Tex Mex-Indian mash-up is guaranteed to be a family favorite.

Saag paneer is a creamy spinach dish that uses - you guessed it - paneer cheese. Since paneer doesn't melt down, the spinach has bites of delicious cheese throughout and a creamy, rich flavor. I recently shared a recipe for homemade paneer cheese as I was fruitless in my search for it - and come to find out, it's just 2 ingredients and minutes to make!

The enchilada sauce is yogurt based (a nod to Indian cuisine) and loaded with cilantro, mint, jalapenos, and other Indian-TexMex flavors. I know, the mint sounds strange but it totally works!

Don't be intimidated by the seemingly long list of ingredients - there are duplicate ingredients used in both the filling and sauce so it's really not as many items as it appears. Plus, your food processor does most of the work!

Saag Paneer Enchiladas
For the filling:
1 medium yellow onion
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 10-ounce packages of frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed of liquid
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup plain yogurt or sour cream
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup half and half
1/2 pound paneer cheese, cut into 1/4 inch cubes

For the sauce:
2 cups cilantro
1/4 cup mint leaves
1 jalapeno, seeds and stems removed, chopped
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup buttermilk
1.5 cups plain yogurt or sour cream
salt to taste

For the enchiladas:
8-10 flour tortillas
Additional paneer cheese, for crumbling over top

In a food processor, chop the onion, garlic, and ginger. In a skillet, heat some vegetable oil over medium-low heat, add the onion mixture, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the spinach, cumin, cinnamon, cloves, cayenne, yogurt, and buttermilk. Turn the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the half and half and paneer cheese and simmer for 5 more minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.

Meanwhile, in a food processor, puree the cilantro, mint, jalapeno, garlic, ginger, cumin, lemon juice, and buttermilk until smooth. Transfer to a medium mixing bowl and stir in yogurt. Add salt to taste.

Preheat the oven to 350. Wrap the tortillas in foil and place in the oven for 10 minutes while it's preheating. 

Lightly grease a 9x13 baking dish. Spoon 1/4 cup of filling down the center of a tortilla. Roll and place seam side down in the baking dish. Repeat with remaining tortillas. 

Pour the cilantro sauce over the tortillas and crumble additional paneer cheese over top. Bake uncovered for 5 minutes. 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Homemade Paneer Cheese

Making cheese at home is fast, inexpensive, and fun! Stop the endless search for paneer cheese - you're just 2 ingredients from your own batch.

I (stupidly) tried in vain to find fresh paneer cheese locally. Even Whole Foods didn't carry it! Before throwing in the towel, I Googled how to make it just for kicks and found out how easy it was. And really, it's not only easy, it's like doing a science experiment in your kitchen that results in a big ball of fresh cheese. If we had made cheese in high school science class, I probably would have been more interested...

Paneer is SO delicious - like all Indian food! It's a fairly soft, mild in flavor, crumbly non-melting cheese. Similar to queso blanco but without salt. Since it doesn't melt down or become gooey, it's perfect in hot dishes where you want a big bite of creamy cheese (like saag paneer). I used it in an AMAZING enchilada recipe I'll be posting in a few days!

Since paneer is not aged you can be eating it in 30 minutes. Which is much faster than running all over town looking for it :)

Though not typically salted, you may want to salt it prior to pressing if you plan to eat much of it plain. 

Homemade Paneer Cheese
8 cups whole milk
1/4 cup lemon juice

Line a large colander with a double layer of cheesecloth and set in your sink. If you'd like to save the whey, place a bowl under the colander. 

In a large pot, bring the milk to a gentle boil over medium heat, stirring frequently and scraping the bottom to avoid burning. This takes awhile so be patient.

Once barely boiling, add the lemon juice and turn down to low. Stir gently and you should almost immediately see the curds and whey start to separate. The curds are white milk solids and the whey is a greenish liquid. Try to stir the curds together instead of breaking them apart.   

If the milk doesn't separate, add another tablespoon of lemon juice and turn the heat up again. 

Once the milk seems to be separated, pour the contents into the prepared colander. Gently rinse the curds with cool water. Grab the ends of the cheesecloth and twist to remove the liquid and create a ball of cheese. Tie the cheesecloth to your faucet and allow to drain for 5 minutes.

Once drained, place the (still wrapped in cheesecloth) cheese on a dinner plate with the extra cheesecloth gathered on the sides of the cheese (this is so your cheese is nice and smooth). Put another dinner plate on top and weigh it down using cans or something heavy. Place it in the fridge and let sit for 20 minutes. 

Unwrap it and it's ready to go! 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Chicken Fajitas

An easy, no fail recipe for proper Texas fajitas! A quick marinade results in a weeknight friendly AND family pleasing meal!

Awhile back, I had the joy of having not one but two friends hand deliver me fresh flour tortillas, straight from Texas. We were in heaven! I lamented the lack of good tortillas awhile back. It's a serious problem :)

Now with this load of fresh tortillas, I got to menu planning a TexMexPalooza of meals for the coming days. And what is more Tex Mex than good ol' chicken fajitas? When ordered at a restaurant, they come out on these sizzling hot plates that fill the restaurant with this drool-worthy aroma. I haven't mastered that at home yet but I didn't hear any complaints coming from my other half when I served up a plate of these, straight off the grill.

There are a lot of fajita recipes out there but I'd argue that this is one of the best marinades I've tried. And it couldn't be easier! It only needs to marinate an hour or two which helps those of us who forget to thaw the chicken in time to marinade it before work.

Don't have a grill? See the note below for stove-top instructions. 

Chicken Fajitas
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
6 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon ground cumin
4 dried chiles de arbol, stems removed
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs
2 bell peppers, seeded and halved
1 yellow onion, quartered
flour tortillas, fajita size
toppings: salsa, guacamole, sour cream, and shredded cheddar cheese

In a food processor, combine the lime juice, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, cumin, and chiles de arbol. Blend until smooth and add the salt and pepper. Place the chicken in a gallon sized resealable bag and pour the marinade over top. Seal and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.

Preheat the grill to medium-high heat. Drain the chicken from the marinade and discard. Grill the chicken until cooked through, about 7 minutes per side. Grill the onion and peppers until tender, turning often, about 10 minutes for the peppers and 15 minutes for the onion.*don't have a grill? see note below*

Transfer the grilled chicken and vegetables to a large cutting board and let rest for 10 minutes. Slice the onion and peppers into thin slices. Slice the chicken crosswise into strips.

Warm the tortillas and serve with salsa, guacamole, sour cream, and shredded cheese.

*If not using grill: Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil over medium heat in a large heavy skillet. Add the chicken and cook, covered, for 5 minutes per side, or until cooked through. Remove and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, slice the onion and peppers into thin slices. Heat another tablespoon of oil and add the sliced peppers and onion. Cook until tender and soft, around 7-10 minutes.    

Source: adapted from The Homesick Texan's Family Table

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Walt Disney World Food and Wine Fest 2014 Reviews

I love Walt Disney World anytime of year but especially for Food & Wine Fest! If you're not familiar with Food and Wine Fest, here's a brief overview: you eat your weight in food and then go home, 20 pounds heavier. Kidding. Sorta. World Showcase (a large portion of Epcot, which features 11 countries) is turned into a food fest. Booths are set up around the lagoon and each booth features large sample sizes of various cuisines from that country/region. The sample sizes range from $3-$7, with various beers, wines, and cocktails also offered for $3-$12. In addition, there are lots of ticketed events you can attend including demos, dinners, and desserts. 

Much of the booth food is repeated for several years so if you're planning to visit soon, check out my post from last year here. We tried to pick different items this year.

Mexico: Sweet Corn Cheesecake - $3.50

I'm a cheesecake fan and I loved this version! Doesn't taste "corny" at all - just sweet and creamy like a traditional cheesecake. Also a decent portion for the cost and a great crust. 

Italy: Ravioli all Caprese: Cheese ravioli, tomato sauce, mozzarella, Parmesan, and basil - $6.00

This was just 'eh' to me. It tasted fine, but no different than a (dare I say it) frozen ravioli dinner. It was nothing special for sure and we would not order it again.

France: Crème brûlée caramel fleur de sel: Sea salt caramel crème brûlée topped with caramelized sugar – $4.25

This is one of Jason's favorite desserts so he was not skipping this booth! He really liked it - and I don't think I even got a bite! 

France: Gratin de crozet de savoie: Wheat pasta gratin with mushrooms and Gruyere cheese – $4.95

This was probably one of my favorite F&WF dishes to date! It was creamy, cheesy, and loaded with mushrooms. Good portions size, too.

Ireland: Kerrygold® cheese selection: Reserve cheddar, Dubliner with Irish Stout and Skellig – $4.00

In year's past, they had a cheese booth as part of the festival. They didn't this year for some reason but some booths still offered a cheese selection. Kerrygold cheese is one of my favorite brands (plus their butter is amazing!) so this was a no-brainer. This was a substantial plate, with large portions of each cheese plus bread/butter and the chutney. Very good!

Ireland: Lobster and seafood fisherman’s pie – $6.25

Someone in our group ordered this and said it was delicious. I was too busy gorging on cheese to ask too many questions - I apologize :)

Scotland: Seared sea scallop with spinach-cheddar gratin and crispy bacon – $4.50

This was another favorite of mine. The scallop was perfectly cooked and the spinach was ridiculously tasty. They worked well together. My only complaint? I wanted 4 of them :) Definitely would order again!

Scotland: Fresh potato pancake with smoked Scottish salmon and herb sour cream – $4.25

My mom ordered this and said it was delicious. Smoked salmon is rarely not delicious, IMO.

Terra: Chocolate-blood orange cupcake with tofu icing – $2.25

Just a couple of years ago, Terra made it's debut at the festival featuring all vegan food. We are meat and cheese loving people so we typically ignored it but this year, mom couldn't pass up the chocolate orange cupcake. I was afraid she'd hate it, since it had tofu icing, but she LOVED it. Said it tasted just like a "regular" cupcake. It must have been a hit because the lady behind her in line was getting her 3rd of the night. They aren't huge but still, that speaks volumes!

We also saw Fuel in concert! If you're going to the Food and Wine Fest, be sure and check the schedule for the Eat to the Beat Concerts. They are free and a lot of fun!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

One Pot Turkey Pumpkin Chili

Ground turkey, beans, peppers, corn, and pumpkin are simmered together in this simple, healthy, and warm chili. Easy enough for a weeknight meal but tastes like it's been cooking all day!

I have to be honest; I hesitated even putting pumpkin in the title of the recipe because it scares some people off. Matter of fact, as I was working on the graphic my husband peeked over my shoulder and said "that had pumpkin in it?!" The pumpkin works beautifully in giving it a thick, nutty richness that also helps cut the calories and up the nutritional value but doesn't taste anything like pumpkin. If you don't care for pumpkin flavored things - like my husband - please don't overlook this recipe.

This recipe can be tweaked heavily and still taste delicious. If you like a lot of spice, throw in some cayenne or up the pepper count. Have some extra veggies on hand? Chop them up and toss them in!

Don't you love one pot meals?

Turkey Pumpkin Chili
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion, chopped
6 baby bell peppers, cored, seeded, and chopped (use red, yellow, and green combo for color)
2 jalapenos, seeded and finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 pound ground turkey
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomato, with their liquid
1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin
1-2 cups water
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
ground black pepper, to taste
1 (15 ounce) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup frozen corn
sour cream, for topping
chopped cilantro, for topping

Heat oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Add the onion, bell peppers, jalapenos, and garlic. Cook, stirring often, until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the turkey and cook until browned.

Add the tomatoes, pumpkin, 1 cup water, chili powder, cumin, salt, and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and add the beans and corn. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes, adding additional water if desired. 

Top with sour cream and cilantro before serving. 

Source: adapted from Whole Foods   

Friday, October 3, 2014

Pumpkin Spice Latte Baby Bundt Cakes

The popular seasonal drink - in a bundt cake form! Coffee, pumpkin, and spices are blended together to create a moist and delicious fall treat. Thanks to the help of a cake mix, these only take minutes to whip up! Once topped with a cream cheese frosting, you'll be hard pressed to resist eating the whole pan.

Are you on pumpkin overload? Pinterest right now is seemingly a collection of ALL THINGS PUMPKIN and here I am, adding another one to the chaos!

I'm slightly addicted to my baby bundt cake pan and this was a great excuse to use it. I've started to actually prefer baby bundts to cupcakes but this recipe easily translates to a cupcake if that's your thing.

I went round and round with my icing and as you can see from the picture, mine ended up thin and pooled in the center. This meant that when you stuck a fork in it, the icing ran down the middle and was fairly amazing but I know a lot of people like a "firmer" icing (and it's a lot easier to transport!). The recipe below is for a more traditional fluffy cream cheese icing. If you want it thinner, just add small increments of milk.

Pumpkin Spice Latte Baby Bundt Cakes
For the cakes:
1 box spice cake mix 
1 can pumpkin (15 ounce)
3 eggs
1/3 cup oil
1/3 cup strong brewed coffee, cooled (I used cold press coffee)
3 tablespoons espresso powder

For the frosting:
2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 stick butter, softened
1/4 cup milk (plus more if needed)
3-4 cups powdered sugar

For topping:
Caramel syrup
Ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350 and lightly grease a baby bundt pan.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the cake mix, pumpkin, eggs, oil, coffee, and espresso powder. Using your hand mixer, beat on low for 1 minute then increase to medium and beat for 2 minutes. Pour the batter into your prepared pans about 3/4 of the way full. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove from oven, let cool for 5 minutes and the transfer to a wire cooling rack until cooled completely.

In a second large mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese, butter, and milk. Using your hand mixer, beat until well combined and smooth. Add half of the powdered sugar and beat well. Add remaining powdered sugar and beat until well combined, smooth, and fluffy. If too thick, add a tablespoon of milk and mix again. Don't add too much milk at one time - it thins very easily.

Pipe the frosting onto the cooled cakes, drizzle with caramel sauce, and sprinkle with cinnamon.

Source: adapted from BruCrew Life 

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Salisbury Steak with Mushroom Gravy

A lightened up version of a comfort food favorite! Lean meat is mixed with sauteed onions and breadcrumbs, shaped into patties, and browned before simmering in a smooth, flavorful, and mushroom stocked gravy that uses NO cream soups!

Along with boots, driving with the windows open, and the changing leaves, I also LOVE fall food. Some meals just seemed way too heavy for summer but now they feel perfect! Soup, chili, and all things comfort food.

Heavy comfort food doesn't have to mean high calories; this version is around 250 calories a serving! And - perhaps more importantly - it's weeknight friendly.

Salisbury Steak with Mushroom Gravy
Serving: 8

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 medium onion, minced
1 pound 93% ground beef
1 pound 93% ground turkey
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1 large egg
1 large egg white
2 cups beef broth
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground pepper
salt and pepper, to taste
16 ounce package sliced mushrooms
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
1/4 cup water

In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the oil and saute the onions until they are soft and golden brown, about 5 minutes. Remove from pan and divide in half.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground beef, ground turkey, breadcrumbs, egg, egg white, 1/4 cup beef broth, salt, black pepper, and half of the sauteed onions. Mix well and divide into 8 oval shaped patties.

Heat the skillet to medium-high heat and brown the patties on both sides. Remove and transfer to a plate.

Add the mushrooms to the skillet, season with salt and pepper, and saute 2-3 minutes. Put the patties back into the skillet.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and remaining beef broth until smooth. Whisk in the remaining onions, tomato paste, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, and mustard powder. Pour over the meat and mushrooms in the skillet. 

Cover and cook on low heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve over mashed potatoes.

Source: slightly adapted from SkinnyTaste  

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Crockpot Pumpkin Spice Latte

Your favorite fall beverage made even easier thanks to your crockpot!

It seems like every year, Starbucks introduces the infamous Pumpkin Spice Latte earlier and earlier. Before long, it'll probably be on the menu year-round! I admit to indulging in one every once in awhile because they are darn tasty but I just can't do it before September.

With my venti soy pumpkin spice latte nearing $6 a pop, I'm all about looking for an alternative to my PSL cravings. Even if you're not worried about the steep cost, this version is perfect for those Saturdays at home when you stay in your PJ pants from morning to night and running to the neighborhood Starbucks sounds exhausting.

I shared this recipe a couple of years ago but wanted to give it a much needed revisit!

Crockpot Pumpkin Spice Latte
4 cups milk
1.5 cups double strength coffee (I used cold brew coffee)
4 tablespoons canned pumpkin
4 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
whipped cream, for topping
ground cinnamon, for topping

Add the milk and coffee to the crockpot. Whisk in the pumpkin, sugar, vanilla, and pumpkin pie spice. Cover and cook on high for 2 hours. Whisk well before serving.

Ladle into mugs and top with whipped cream and ground cinnamon.

Servings: 4 large mugs

Source: Crockpot 365

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Almond Joy Bites (4 ingredients & no bake)

You're just 4 ingredients from homemade Almond Joy flavor! Sticky sweet coconut, crunchy almonds, and dark chocolate are a much loved classic combination!

Every year growing up, my mom made homemade Almond Joys as a holiday treat. She would package them into tins and deliver them as gifts. Don't you love edible gifts? I recall she even shipped them my direction at least once! The other night, I got an intense craving for her Almond Joys. Unfortunately, we live 1100 miles apart so I did what anyone would do - I surveyed the pantry and found all the ingredients necessary to satisfy my craving.

And it worked.

{though I still missed my mom!}

These beauties don't have to be baked, don't destroy your clean kitchen, and you can shovel them in almost immediately. That's a winning dessert in my book.

I'm more savory than sweet (as evidenced by the rare dessert recipes in my index!) so just one of these was enough to satisfy my sweet tooth. I stored the rest in the fridge and enjoyed them for several days.

When rolling, they are going to be super sticky so it's helpful to lightly spray the palms of your hands with cooking spray. Very lightly!

Almond Joy Bites
1 14 ounce bag shredded coconut
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup coarsely chopped almonds
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Line a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper and set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the shredded coconut, sweetened condensed milk, and chopped almonds. Using your hands (see note above), mix well.

Form small balls with the coconut mixture and place on the parchment paper. Place the sheet in the fridge and let chill for 20 minutes.

In a small microwave safe bowl, melt the chocolate at 50% power, stopping to stir every 15 seconds, until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Drizzle the melted chocolate over the coconut bites and place the baking sheet back in the fridge. After another 30 minutes, they should be "set" enough to be transferred to a sealed container.

Store in the fridge.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Thai Basil Chicken

Thai basil chicken may be the most popular Thai dish of them all. Chicken, mushrooms, a savory sauce, and loads of basil are quickly cooked and served alongside jasmine rice. The perfect weeknight meal and a crowd favorite!

If you've never had Thai Basil Chicken, you're in for a treat! This simple stir-fry comes together in minutes but tastes restaurant quality. The sauce is savory and addictive. The chicken and mushrooms are sliced thin so they cook fast and soak up tons of flavor. The basil is the true star of this dish. It seems like you're adding a lot but I promise, it's not overpowering. Just delicious!

I'm a rice fanatic so I like to serve this over jasmine rice. It'd also be good wrapped in a lettuce wrap or over noodles!

Thai basil or basil? Traditionally, Thai basil is used - and should be, if you can find it. I sub in regular basil and it's still amazing.

Thai Basil Chicken
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
2 tablespoons chopped Thai chile pepper, ribs and seeds removed (sub in Serrano if Thai isn't easily found)
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into thinly sliced bite sized pieces
16 ounce package sliced white mushrooms
3 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 cup chicken stock
2 cups Thai basil leaves, roughly chopped

Heat the oil in a large wok over medium-high heat. Add the chopped garlic and cook until golden brown. Add the chile pepper and stir well.

Add the chicken and cook until almost cooked through. Reduce the heat to medium and add the mushrooms, fish sauce, oyster sauce, sugar, and chicken stock. Stir until the mushrooms are softened and the chicken is cooked through. Add the chopped basil and mix well.

Serve hot alongside steamed jasmine rice.

Source: adapted from Foo Swasdee

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