Thursday, April 29, 2010

Strawberry Lemonade Bars

Strawberry Lemonade Bars

1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter - room temperature
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease 9x13.  Cream butter and sugar together, slowly add flour and salt until crumbly.  Press into pan.  Bake for about 17 minutes until edges are golden.

1 cup fresh lemon juice
2-3 teaspoons lemon zest
1/2 cup pureed strawberries (about 3/4 cup of strawberries)
1 1/4 cups sugar
4 eggs
1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Combine juice, zest, strawberry puree, sugar and eggs in food processor.  Puree until smooth.  Add flour, baking powder and salt.  Pulse until smooth.  Pour over hot crust.  Bake for 23-26 minutes, or until set.  Let cool, then store in fridge.


{cooks note}

I do not have a food processor (just a mini one) so I used a hand blender to mix everything.  It worked great. I did puree the strawberries in my mini food processor because you want a liquid puree.  These are light and refreshing and a great twist on lemon bars.  
 The ingredients.
 The crust ingredients. You want the mixture to be crumbly.
Press into a 9x13 baking pan.
The crust after it has baked.
The strawberry lemon mixture before it has baked in the oven.
Sprinkle the tops with powdered sugar after cooling.  These are much better if they are refrigerated after cooling.  
I made these for a friends birthday and packaged them in a small linen box lined with parchment paper and tied with brown and white bakers twine.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

BBQ Chicken Chop Salad

BBQ Chicken Chop Salad
from favorites

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup barbecue sauce

Marinate chicken in barbecue sauce, than bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes (marinating is preferred, but not necessary).  Chop into bite size pieces and set aside.

1/2 head iceberg lettuce, chopped
1/2 head Romaine lettuce, chopped
3 Roma tomatoes, chopped
1 jicama, peeled and diced 
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1 (15-ounce) can black beens, drained and rinsed
1 cup frozen sweet corn, thawed
1/2 pound Monterey Jack cheese, grated

You can combine chicken and salad ingredients in a large bowl and toss.  Serve with Ranch Dressing, additional BBQ sauce and tortilla chips.  You can also individually make each plate, like I do (see photo).  Either way, I'm sure this will become a family favorite.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Green Chicken and Corn Enchiladas

Green Chicken and Corn Enchiladas

1/2 sweet onion, sliced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 cup frozen sweet white corn
2-3 chicken breasts
10 corn tortillas
1 (26-ounce) can Las Palmas green enchilada sauce
shredded cheese (can be a mixture of Monterrey Jack and Cheddar)

Set a large pot of water on to boil.  Add chicken breasts and boil until done (about 8 minutes if not frozen).  Once cooked through, remove from water and let cool.  Shred the chicken and set aside.  

Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a medium saute pan.  Add onion and saute until starting to soften.  Stir in diced pepper and cook until starting to soften (not too long).  Add the frozen corn and saute until warmed through.  Pour in cooked chicken and about 3 tablespoons of enchilada sauce.  Season with salt and pepper and stir until combined. 

Preheat oven to 375.  Take a glass casserole dish (9x13) and pour about a 1/4 cup of enchilada sauce on the bottom.  Swirl to coat the pan.  Wrap the corn tortillas in a wet (and rung dry) paper towel and microwave for 30 seconds just to soften the tortillas.  

One at a time,  put about 1-2 tablespoons of the chicken mixture inside the tortilla and wrap up tightly (being sure to not break the tortilla).  Place in the casserole dish and repeat until used all the tortillas and the filling.  Pour the remaining enchilada sauce on top and layer a good amount of cheese on top as well.  Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes until the top is bubbly and browned.  

Top with shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, sour cream, guacamole and tomatillo salsa


{cooks note}

This recipe is great because it doesn't call for a can of cream of chicken soup.  I love that!  It's a healthy recipe that is so tasty.  I like to serve mine with Spanish rice and refried beans.  Don't worry if you can not find Las Palmas green enchilada sauce (I couldn't) everything will turn out just fine.  Oh, and I didn't have time to make the tomatillo salsa for this dish, but trust me, it's good.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Jacques Torres's Secret Chocolate Chip Cookies

Jacques Torres's Secret Chocolate Chip Cookies
from recipes

1 pound unsalted butter
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
2 1/4 cups packed light-brown sugar
4 large eggs
3 cups plus 2 tablespoons pastry flour
3 cups bread flour
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 pounds best quality semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line baking sheets with parchment or non-stick baking mats; set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugars.  Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.  Reduce speed to low and add both flours, baking powder, baking soda, vanilla, and chocolate; mix until well combined.

Using a 4-ounce scoop for larger cookies or a 1-ounce scoop for smaller cookies, scoop cookie dough onto prepared baking sheets, about 2 inches apart.  Bake until lightly browned, but still soft, about 20 minutes for larger cookies and 15 minutes for smaller cookies.  Cool slightly on baking sheets before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.


{cooks note}

These are by far the BEST chocolate chip cookies I have had to date.  I made 3 different recipes for chocolate chip cookies in a 3 week span and decided to stop because these are the best.  I am tired of all the recipes out there that end up cakey (one's with pudding, etc.)  Those are fine, but these are better to me.  Similar to the chocolate chippers at Paradise Bakery.  My sister introduced me to this recipe a couple of years ago and I haven't looked back since.  They are that good.  The good news is, they freeze really well.  I scoop them out (I use a 1 1/2" cookies scoop) and place them close together, but not quite touching, on a parchment lined baking sheet. I don't have a big enough freezer to fit my pan into freeze them, so I put the pan in the refrigerator (covered).  A few hours later I transfer them to a zip lock bag. I  used the empty bag from my chocolate chips that I had been saving from another recipe. It's one of the big bags you buy at Costco, so it fit a lot.  When ready to cook, heat the oven to 375 and bake for 15 minutes.  You might have to adjust the time according to how your oven cooks and your elevation.  PLEASE READ:  I did a test on the cookie dough. I baked a batch right after mixing them.  They were good, but not that good.  I then put them in the refrigerator and let them get nice and cold.  I baked them and they were SO much better.  The shape is better as well as the flavors.  The fat (butter) has time to get really cold in the fridge, so when you bake them the fat is able to melt slower and disperse throughout the cookie.  Trust me, they are good. They are equally as good coming out of the freezer to the oven too.  This recipe makes a lot, so that is why I freeze almost the whole batch. When we have friends over or we are in the mood for cookies, I pull the bag out, place them on a cookies sheet, bake them and BAM we have homemade chocolate chip cookies in a cinch!  You need to make sure you use pastry flour and bread flour.  The only pastry flour I have been able to find is whole wheat pastry flour.  I love the flavor and it makes the cookies a little more healthy, right?  Just don't over cook them.  The wheat in them will absorb a lot of moisture, so be sure to take them out just as they are starting to brown on the top.  Oh, and please use a good quality chocolate like the recipe states.
 The only wheat I have been able to find.  You can also grind your own.  Just use a very fine setting on your wheat grinder.
 The big bag I use to store the cookies in in the freezer.
The frozen cookies.
Let me know what you think.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Watch This

My sister sent this to me yesterday.  What do you think?

Tortellini Spinach Salad with Balsamic-Tomato Vinaigrette

Tortellini Spinach Salad with Balsamic-Tomato Vinaigrette
slightly adapted from

20-ounce package refrigerated cheese tortellini
1 (14.5-ounce) can quartered artichokes
1 (9-ounce) bag fresh baby spinach
1 (3-ounce) bag sun dried tomatoes or jar of sun dried tomatoes rinsed and drained
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup red onion, diced
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, grilled and sliced thin

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
salt and pepper to taste (about 1/8 teaspoon each)
3/4 cup olive oil

Cook Tortellini in boiling water until al dente.  Drain and toss (carefully so the tortellini doesn't break apart) with a teaspoon of olive oil to keep from sticking.  Let cool in colander. In a large bowl, toss all the salad ingredients together after pasta has cooled.

In a blender, add all of the dressing ingredients except for the olive oil and process until smooth.  Then, while the blender is running, slowly add the olive oil and blend until completely combined.  If serving the salad right away, immediately pour the dressing over the salad and toss well (you may not need all the dressing).  Serve.

{cooks note}
I added grilled chicken for my husband since he likes meat with his meals most of the time.    I knew my boys wouldn't be too thrilled about the tomato-balsamic vinaigrette flavor, so I served them grilled chicken slices with the tortellini on the side.  This salad is so refreshing and tasty.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Gooey Microwave Caramel Popcorn

Gooey Microwave Caramel Popcorn
from Favorites

2 bags microwave popcorn (the more buttery, the better)
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup white corn syrup
1 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/2 cup butter

In medium saucepan, mix together condensed milk, corn syrup, brown sugar, vanilla and butter.  Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, until mixture reaches "soft ball" stage.  (This usually takes between 8 to 10 minutes.)

Meanwhile, pop microwave popcorn and pour into large bowl.  Sift out unpopped kernals.  Pour hot caramel over popcorn and stir until well-coated.


{cooks note}

I usually don't buy the buttery microwave popcorn.  The popcorn turns out great without it.  However, if you do want to use it, it definitely adds a more buttery flavor.  I sometimes sprinkle a little salt over the popped popcorn before adding the caramel...just because.

The ingredients.
Just before I poured the caramel over the popcorn.
Make sure you have a large bowl to stir the caramel and popcorn in together.
This is the kind of treat that you can't stop eating.  Trust me.  And it's still good the second day if stored in an air tight container.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Fish Tacos

Fish Tacos

1-2 pounds mahi mahi (Tilapia works great too)
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Cabbage, sliced thin
Salsa or pico de gallo
white sauce (recipe to follow)
Corn tortillas

Line a small baking sheet with foil.  Place the fish down on the sheet and sprinkle with the cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, salt, and half a lime.  Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes or until fish is flaky.  While the fish is baking, make the white sauce.

White Sauce
1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup milk
4 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon garlic salt

Whisk all ingredients together. Set aside.

Cook corn tortillas on a skillet lightly coated in oil (I use my griddle and cook 4 at a time).  Once the fish is baked, shred the fish with two forks.  Assemble tacos.  Tortilla, fish, cabbage, white sauce, salsa and fresh lime.  


{cooks note}

There are a lot of fish taco recipes out there, but I like this one because it is light (the fish is not fried) and very easy to make.  This is just one version I make.  My kids don't eat the tacos assembled, it's too hard for them, so they have the fish and tortillas.  This meal frequents our table a lot in the spring and summer.

My mahi mahi came individually packaged.  Cheapest place to purchase it is Costco.  I used four.
This is my lime press.  I use it all the time.
Fish seasonings. 
White sauce.

Shredded fish.
Each bite makes me feel like I am on vacation in Cabo...kind of.  

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Oatmeal Cookies

Oatmeal Cookies
from my friend Ashley

1 cup butter
1 cup shortening
2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups brown sugar
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
4-5 cups whole wheat flour, or white flour (add last cup gradually as needed to make stiff dough)
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons salt
4 cups rolled oats

Cream butters and sugars.  Add eggs and mix just till eggs are fully mixed in, do not over mix.  Add other ingredients. Bake for 9 minutes at 350.  Let cool on pan for 2 minutes.  Place on rack to cool.

Recipe can be halved.


{cooks note}

I do not like really flat oatmeal cookies.  A good recipe is hard to come by...until now, my friends.  This is THE recipe!  They do not turn out flat.  I have not made this recipe yet with whole wheat flour, but next time I am going to do half whole wheat and half white.  I use 4 1/2 cups flour and that seems to be a good measurement for me.  Every elevation and oven will cook differently, so you will have to determine what is best for your situation.  I like to freeze these in wax paper in logs.  I cut them about 3/4" thick right out of the freezer and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet and bake them for about 1-2 minutes longer than if they had not been frozen.  I bake some out of the freezer last night and they were great.  My boys got a bag of M&M's for Christmas from their great grandma.  I stuck them in the freezer and decided to let them put the M&M's on the cookies for a little extra treat. They had a great time doing this, but the M&M's are not a requirement.

Now please excuse me while I suffer all day with my allergies.  Anyone else dealing with this?

This cookie dough is really good.  I usually am not a cookie dough eater, but this stuff is good.
See?  My daughter seems to think it is good too.  She was sitting in between the boys cookie sheets and somehow managed to pull Carter's sheet over to her and grab a ball of dough.  I was busy doing something else and the scream of Carter called me to attention  What can I say, she takes after her mother.
A new texture for that little mouth of gums.
She wasn't very happy with me when I took it all away from her.  After this, Cody was afraid she might get salmonella poisoning because the dough had touched her mouth. I assured him that his precious little daughter would be fine.
The work of my boys.
This is our I roll my dough up in the wax paper.  Be sure to twist the ends before you store them in the freezer.  After I make all of my logs, I place them in a gallon freezer zip lock bag to ensure they stay fresh.

These are kind of healthy for you too (wink, wink).  Four cups of oatmeal is better than nothing.  Just don't pay attention to the other ingredients on the list.  

Friday, April 9, 2010

Whole Wheat Pancakes

Whole Wheat Pancakes
from Favorites

1 cup whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 egg
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Combine all ingredients and beat until well-mixed. Bake on hot griddle and serve with fruit or syrup.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

BBQ Chicken Pizza

BBQ Chicken Pizza

1 package dry yeast (2 1/4 active dry yeast)
1/4 cup warm water
2 1/2 to 3 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons honey
3/4 cup cold water

Dissolve yeast in warm water and let stand for 10 minutes.  In mixingt bowl, combine flour, salt, olive oil, honey and cold water.  Add yeast mixture and knead with dough hook (or by hand) for 5 minutes.  Form into a ball and place in oiled bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise about 1 hour.  

Roll the dough out onto a floured surface and roll to fit a large rimmed cookie sheet.  Baste about 1 teaspoon of olive oil on the pan before placing the dough on.  After you place the dough on the sheet, you may have to stretch is out a bit to fit.

Makes enough for two pizzas. 

1 pizza crust
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup barbecue sauce
Fresh mozzarella, sliced thin
1/4 cup red onion, thinly sliced
Fresh cilantro
Olive oil

You can do the sauce a few different ways.  You can marinate the chicken in about a cup of barbecue sauce in a large zip lock bag for 4 hours or overnight and then bake it at 325 degrees for 30 minutes (in the sauce you marinated it with), or you can just skip marinating the chicken and cook it in the barbecue sauce.  I have made it both ways and they both turn out great.  Let the chicken cool, then slice into small pieces.

Spread 1 to 2 teaspoons of olive oil on the rolled out dough and then spread the barbecue sauce over that.  Place the sliced mozzarella all over the dough and then layer that with the chicken.  Add the thinly sliced red onion and bake at 450 degrees for 12-15 minutes.  Once the pizza is done, sprinkle with fresh cilantro and serve.


{cooks note}

After I slice the chicken, I add it all back to the barbecue sauce I cooked it in while I finish other preparations on the pizza.  That way, the sauce is able to soak into the chicken and make it even more moist.  You won't be sorry you did it.  I make a white dough for this pizza because I think it tastes better.  Making your own dough is well worth the little effort it takes rather than buying a store bought one.  Unless it's Trader Joe's dough.  Then you can't go wrong.

 Bake chicken at 325 for 30 minutes.  
 You want the chicken pieces to be bite size.
Pizza dough after it has risen.
I like to buy this mozzarella because it is in a log and very easy to slice thin.
Dough rolled to fit my cookie sheet.  Don't forget to spread about 1 teaspoon of olive oil on the pan before placing the dough on it.
Pizza ready to be baked.  Notice how there are no red onions.  Well, dinner time is hectic for me.  I 'm lucky we have dinner at all.  The red onions were forgotten and I'm sure they weren't missed by a few little guys. Before spreading on the barbecue sauce spread on 1 to 2 teaspoons of olive oil. 
"Leaves" as my youngest boy would call them.  I call it cilantro.  This makes the pizza.  I am currently growing this in my herb garden and I've already had one harvest.  That's what you call, cilantro at your fingertips.
Hot out of the oven.  
We have eaten this pizza a lot over the past years and love it every time.  You can't beat a good homemade pizza.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Favorite Crepes

Favorite Crepes
from Favorites

1/2 cup cold water
1/2 cup cold milk
4 eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
1 cup flour
2 tablespoons butter, melted

Put liquids, eggs, salt and sugar into blender; blend until mixed.  Add flour and melted butter and mix at top speed for one minute.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.  Heat crepe pan over moderate heat.  For each crepe, lightly grease pan with oil or butter.  Pour 1/4 cup batter into pan, rotating so batter spreads evenly.  Turn when lightly browned to cook other side.  Stack crepes and keep warm by placing a sheet of paper towel between crepes while cooking the rest.  Top with syrup, jam or fancy filling.  Roll up and enjoy!


{cooks note}

I make this meal twice a year for my family and each time I make it I fall in love all over again.  I 1 1/2 times the recipe.  I also skip cooking them in a fry pan and pull out my pancake griddle so I can cook two at a time.  We like to use Nutella, freshly squeezed lemon, fresh strawberries and homemade whipped cream as our regular toppings.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Cornucopia Salad

Cornucopia Salad

1 head green leaf lettuce, torn into pieces
1 head Romaine lettuce, torn into pieces
1 (11-ounce) can mandarin oranges, drained
2 avacados, cut into chunks
1 apple, diced
1 cup fresh strawberries, sliced
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
1/4 cup slivered almonds, sugared

1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon grated onion
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon dry mustard
3/4 teaspoon poppy seeds

Combine dressing ingredients and refrigerate until ready to use.  Toss salad ingredients, almonds and dressing just prior to serving.


{cooks note}

I la la love this salad.  I do all sorts of minor variations depending on what I have on hand.  Sometimes I add the blue cheese, sometimes I don't.  Sometimes I add other fresh berries instead of strawberries.  It really just depends on what you think would be good.  The dressing is more than enough for the salad, so I wouldn't add all of it at once.  You'll more than likely just use half of it.  If I am serving under 6 people, I usually just plate the salad myself so the presentation looks nice.  It's all about the presentation sometimes, right?  And the taste, of course.  For the sugared almonds, click on the link above in the recipe and scroll down.  I give you step by step instructions on how to make them.

The above picture does not have avacado or dressing in it.  I took this picture before adding the two.  I also realize that this may look very similar to another salad on here I have posted, but the dressings are different.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Cinnamon Sugar Graham Crackers

Cinnamon Sugar Graham Crackers
from Kelseyskitchen

1 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar packed
1/3 cup honey
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk
1 tablespoons cinnamon
2 tablespoons sugar

Sift together the all-purpose flour, wheat flour, baking powder and baking soda; set aside.
In a medium bowl cream together the butter, brown sugar and honey until light and fluffy.  Stir in the sifted ingredients alternating between the milk and vanilla.  Cover dough and refrigerate for at least an hour.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Divide the chilled dough into quarters.  On a well floured surface, roll the dough out one quarter at a time into a 5x15 inch rectangle.  Divide into rectangles using a knife.  Place rectangles onto ungreased cookie sheets.  Mark a line down the center of each one, and prick with a fork.  Mix cinnamon and sugar together in a small bowl.  Sprinkle graham cracker dough with cinnamon and sugar before baking.  Bake 7-10 minutes in preheated oven.  Remove from baking sheets to cool on wire racks.


{cooks note} 

I had been wanting to try and make my own graham crackers for a while now and then finally decided to do it when this recipe popped up.  I'm not totally in love with it, but my kids devoured them.  I took them to nursery as a snack and the leaders said that the kids ate them all gone.  The process is just like making sugar cookies.  My good camera died somewhere in the mix, so I had to pull out my point and shoot which was also giving me problems.  Notice the bad fuzzy pictures.  So, there are many steps missing, but you get the gist of it, right?  One of these days things will work out for me.

All of the dry ingredients in the sifter.
Just after sifting.
The dough ready to be chilled.
I cut my rectangles with a pizza cutter. I then got a toothpick and made lines in each individual rectangle to copy the store bought graham crackers.  Don't forget to prick them with a fork.
Homemade graham crackers...a lot easier than you would think.