Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Gift Card Give Away: Choose My New Brownie Flavor!

Hi readers! I haven't gotten a chance to blog any new recipes lately since I have been so busy with work and some new business opportunities. Now, back to my favorite topic......brownies! Have you ever had a brownie that blew your mind? While bored at work, do you daydream what would make the perfect brownie? If so, do tell! Share, and if I pick your idea for my next brownie, you will win a $10 I -Tunes gift card. Send your ideas to me at mrspage@optonline.net - DO NOT post them on here. I will choose my top three and let the readers vote for their fave.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Apple Crostata

It was my usual routine: need to bake, what's left in the kitchen? What else would there be at this time of the year? If you guessed apples, you're correct. I wanted something new so I began my quest for the perfect recipe on the great wide web. Much to the dismay of my hubby, I do not like pie, so that wasn't going to be on the menu.  I searched McIntosh Apples and pulled the perfect recipe from cooks.com.  I have to admit I had no idea what a crostata was, but it sounded like a good choice. 
This particular recipe required making dough.  I still fall into the novice category when it comes to making dough and I get a little too happy with the rolling pin.  The crostata dough was no exception. I don't know what I was thinking, but I started on this cooking project after the kids woke up from their nap.  So as I was rolling out the disk, I was yelling, "Stop hitting each other!" "Get down off that table!". Each irritable reprimand was punctuated with a hard slap of the rolling pin.  As a result, my dough was too thinned out. It burned on the bottom sides, which had to be removed after cooking (see picture for the evidence).
Now, on to the positives. Hands down, this is one of the best apple desserts I have ever tasted. It was the perfect combination of fruity and crumbly. It was sheer heaven. I had none in the house, but this would great paired with vanilla ice cream or some fresh whipped cream. My husband liked it so much he ate it for dinner. So round up your left over McIntoshes and get baking!

1 c. all-purpose flour

2 tbsp. granulated or superfine sugar
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 lb. (1 stick) very cold unsalted butter, diced
2 tbsp. ice water

Dough Prep:
Place the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Pulse a few times to combine. Add the butter and pulse 12 to 15 times, or until the butter is the size of peas. With the motor running, add the ice water all at once through the feed tube. Keep hitting the pulse button to combine, but stop the machine just before the dough becomes a solid mass. Turn the dough onto a well-floured board and form into a disk. Wrap with plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

1 1/2 lb. McIntosh, Macoun, or Empire apples (3 large)

1/4 tsp. grated orange zest (I subbed McCormick Valencia Orange Peel here)
1/4 c. flour
1/4 c. granulated or superfine sugar
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground allspice
4 tbsp. (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, diced

Preheat oven to 450. Flour a rolling pin and roll the pastry into an 11-inch circle on a lightly floured surface. Transfer it to a baking sheet.Peel, core, and cut the apples into 8ths. Cut each wedge into 3 chunks. Toss the chunks with the orange zest. Cover the tart dough with the apple chunks leaving a 1 1/2-inch border.

Combine the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and allspice in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture is crumbly.  Pour into a bowl and rub it with your fingers until it starts holding together. Sprinkle evenly on the apples. Gently fold the border over the apples to enclose the dough, pleating it to make a circle.Bake the crostata for 20 to 25 minutes, until the crust is golden and the apples are tender.Allow to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Asian Inspired Chicken Burgers

While we're on the topic of pineapples, here's a yummy recipe I gave my own twist.  A few of the Asian inspired recipes I came across called for ground beef.   The main inspiration for this recipe came from thenest.com, but I saved it to a Word document, and do not know its origins. I decided to make this a lower fat dish and started by subbing ground chicken in place of the beef.  I also swapped the onions for Alexia brand onion rings, which I baked.  It was a bit of a brisk day, so I decided to forgo using the outdoor grill and used my oven and grill pan instead.  The result was a yummy, lower fat, deliciously seasoned burger. The kids will love this one, even if they dissect it like mine did (eating the chicken, pineapple and rings separately - with no bun).

Asian Inspired Chicken Burgers (Serves 4)
1 pound ground chicken

3 Tbsp teriyaki sauce
1 Tbsp ginger (powdered/grated - I used Penzey Spices brand)
2 tsp minced garlic
4 slices of pineapple, four 1/2-inch-thick rings
4 Alexia Foods Onion Rings (in your freezer section) (Left over rings can be served on the side)
4 whole grain hamburger buns (lightly toasted)
1-2 TBSP olive oil to coat pan for pineapples
Cooking spray (about 4 sprays)
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix ground chicken, teriyaki sauce,garlic and cooking spray.  Make 4 individual patties. Turn on broiler.  In an oven safe dish, add olive oil to coat, then add pineapples.  Keep pineapples in the oven for about 10-15 minutes, checking in five minute intervals. I flipped the pineapples over every time I checked on them.  You want them to be golden & soft - not charred. While the pineapples are beginning to cook,  place burgers in grill pan.  Cook throughly.  Follow the directions on the onion rings, which take about 10 minutes to bake.When burgers, pineapples and onion rings are done, add to lightly toasted buns. Enjoy!

PS- Can you tell I have a thing for pineapples?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Pineapples, PLEASE!

Pineapples are most certainly my favorite fruit. I like them in entrees, desserts and drinks(usually accompanied by a cute drink umbrella and some rum).  I had been asking my mother in law, Mimi, for a carrot cake recipe for awhile.  She is an amazing baker and I knew she would have a knock out recipe.  She did not disappoint. I couldn't be any happier than when I discovered there were pineapples in this recipe. Instead of making the recipe into an actual round cake or pan loaf, I decided making muffins would be the way to go.  Why you ask? My reasoning is simple: portion control.  Muffins are portioned. A slice of cake can be as big as you want it to be, BUT it is still ONE slice, right?

Before I share the recipe, I wanted to address my previous post about changes to this blog. I am still trying to hunt down the perfect, simple template.  I just feel as though my blog is a bit busy and I would like the fringe and frou frou to be less distracting.  I have been working on my photography skills as well.  Let's just say, it's coming along, but not nearly as quickly as I'd planned. It's a lot of practice and reading. One day at a time, right? So, without further ado, here's an amazing carrot cake recipe, featuring pineapple.

Mimi's Carrot Cake
3 whole eggs
2 cups of sugar
1 1/4 cup of  vegetable oil (I used olive)
2 cups of grated carrots
1 TSP salt
1 TSP baking soda
2 TSPS cinnamon
1 small can of crushed pineapple (include the juice)
1 cup pecans - chopped (I used walnuts)
1 TSP of vanilla

Beat the eggs and add the sugar, oil and beat until smooth.  Sift the flour and dry ingredients. Add pineapple,carrots, pecans and vanilla. Bake 1 hour at 350 in loaf pan.  (I made 18 cupcakes and they were done is less than 15 minutes. Use caution and just monitor the cake if you make a loaf or round). Top with cream cheese icing or whipped cream after cake has cooled.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Changes, They Are A Comin'!

Hello, readers! Thank you so much for taking the time to vote for me in foodbuzz.com Project Food Blog. I didn't advance, but I am ever greatful for all the support I received. I took some time to review the other entrants' blogs and I was blown away. These bloggers are dedicated to the blog, the recipes and photography. I am completely inspired by and in awe of their beautiful creations!

As for changes, the design of my blog will be undergoing some 'upgrades'. I am also working harder on learning how to photograph food. I always had the attitude of, "How hard could it be to photograph food? It's not like it moves....".Wrong. So wrong. I have always openly admitted that photography is my weak point, so I am working on tightening the bolts. I have a great recipe, courtesy of my mother in law, for carrot cake, that I plan on posting this week. The secret ingredient is pineapple, which gives the cake major zing.

Thanks again for your support, keep it coming, and I will keep posting!!!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Chicken Chili with Fire Roasted Tomatoes and Cannelini Beans

Fall is here (not that you can tell from the run of 90 degree days we just had) and it is time for some heartier meals. I decided to go with a healthier version of my normal favorite, full fat beef chili. I wanted to make it tasty and interesting, so I decided to top it with some spiced up avocado. This summer, I went on an avocado craze, so I always pick some up when I go to the store. Not only are they yummy, but they are a good, healthy fat. Add one can of cannelini beans, fire roasted tomatoes, and spices to ground chicken and dinner is ready.  I also paired it with one of my family's favorite 'sides' - garlic bread from Alexia foods. The chili also freezes very well, so you can make batches and put it away for the nights you don't feel like cooking. Enjoy!

Chicken Chili with Cannelini Beans and Fire Roasted Tomatoes

1.25 LBS of ground chicken
1 14 oz can of Hunt's Fire Roasted Tomatoes
1 14 oz can of Cannelini Beans
1 TBSP Smoked Paprika (optional)
1 packet of taco seasoning
2 TBSP chili powder
1/2 cup of water
2 cloves of garlic, diced
1 TBSP onion powder
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive Oil - 2 -3 TBSP to coat pan

Coat a medium pan with olive oil. Set heat to high and add garlic. Saute until browned. Add ground chicken and season with onion powder. Use a wooden spoon to stir and break up chicken. Once chicken is fully browned, add chili powder and taco seasoning, with the water.  Please note the taco seasoning instructions add more water, so follow those instructions as well.  Allow to cook until chili powder and taco seasoning are coated into the meat and a nice amount of juice remains in the pan. Add tomatoes and stir.  Drain beans and add. Add this point, add salt and pepper to taste. You can add more paprika and chili powder if you need to.

Avocado - Smash a ripe avocado with a fork.  Add salt, pepper, and onion powder to taste. Use to top the chili.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Jeanne's Special Pasta With Sausage and Spinach

Picky,Picky,Picky.  These are the three words that describe my struggle of getting my family to eat new foods.  Spinach has been on the "NO-NO" list for as long as I can remember.  My son has recently discovered the old Popeye cartoons and he is touted as the man who is "so strong, his muscles have muscles".  How did he get those muscles? By eating spinach, of course! My son is obsessed with getting big and strong, so I saw this as a selling point for getting him to eat spinach.  My husband went along for the ride and didn't give me any trouble about trying it.  My daughter, who is my best eater, didn't seem to mind what I was making.
This recipe is something my friend Jeanne whipped up for dinner one night when I went for a visit.  It is an easy dish and so yummy! I have tried my best to copy the recipe, but I may have changed a few things.  Anyhow, my husband, daughter and I LOVED it.  My son was a little fussier.  He kept picking out some of the spinach, saying he was not eating the "lettuce'".  I used my line about Popeye and he did take a few apprehensive bites. So, the jury is still out on whether or not he will eat spinach again, but we shall see. Also, I apologize for the blurry picture. I had to use my iPhone to take the picture since my camera was on the fritz.

Jeanne's Special Pasta With Sausage and Spinach (serves 4)
8 oz (1/2 box) of pasta, such as orechiette or fusilli (I actually did a mix of the two)
14 oz of crushed tomatoes with basil (Use enough to coat pasta and sausage to your liking)
3 large sweet Italian sausage (half the pack)
3 large hot Italian sausage (half the pack)
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 small white onion or half of a large onion, diced
1 bag of pre-washed baby spinach ( I used about half to 3/4 of the bag), shredded by hand
2-3 TBSP of olive oil, to coat saute pan

Boil water for pasta. Add sausage to heated pan and cook fully. In a saute pan, add shredded baby spinach,garlic and onion. Carefully stir the veggies in the saute pan until garlic and onions are nicely browned and spinach is cooked. Remove from heat and add to large serving bowl.  Strain cooked pasta and add to veggies. Mix thoroughly. When sausage is fully cooked, removed from pan and cut into bite sized pieces.  Add to veggie/pasta combination and mix.  Finally, add crushed tomatoes to pasta mix. Stir completely and enjoy.