September 30, 2012

Spicy Chicken and Cauliflower

Happy Sunday everybody! I spent my day catching up on things around the apartment, laundry, and a nice long run.  I then spent some time experimenting in the kitchen with some roasted cauliflower and spicy chicken.


Roasted Cauliflower
Ingredients
  • 1 large cauliflower head
  • 3 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil

Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  2. Separate the florets from the cauliflower
  3. In a medium bowl, gently mix together the cauliflower, garlic, cumin, chili powder, salt, pepper, and olive oil
  4. Spread the seasoned cauliflower in a shallow roasting dish
  5. Roast for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until the cauliflower becomes tender, stir occasionally
Variation: broccoli

I definitely enjoyed the cauliflower, but I'm already brainstorming different spices to blend together to pair with different dishes.  This spicy chili powder and cumin was great, but I'm also thinking of creating an Italian version with Parmesan cheese.  For tonight, this spicy version was paired perfectly with the baked chicken that I made.

Crispy Oven-Baked Chicken
Ingredients
  • 4 chicken breasts, cleaned and skinned
  • 1 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon paprika
  • 1 egg
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  2. Line a shallow baking dish with foil and spray foil with cooking spray
  3. In a large bowl, mix together bread crumbs, salt, cayenne pepper, and paprika
  4. Lightly beat the eggs in a small bowl
  5. Dip each chicken breast in the egg then roll in the bread crumbs and transfer to the baking dish
  6. Bake, without turning, for about 35 to 40 minutes or until tender 
I normally use Italian bread crumbs, but it was nice for a change to use Panko because it gave the chicken a nice crunchy texture.  The Panko is also nice because it allows you to add your own spices for flavoring.

Both were the chicken and cauliflower spicy side, so it was a good thing that I paired these two dishes with a blend of rice and quinoa.  I did get good reviews on everything from Michael so it was a nice Sunday dinner to end the weekend.

September 29, 2012

Alcohol Infused Chocolate Covered Strawberries

To celebrate the birth of Miss. Carly Hoss, I asked her to give me some suggestions of treats she’d like me to make for her party.  Her response was chocolate covered strawberries.  This got me thinking because I’ve made fancy versions in the past, but I wanted to do something birthday festive!  Then it came to me – Vodka Infused Chocolate Covered Strawberries with Rainbow Sprinkles!  I thought that the alcohol and sprinkles would give these strawberries the perfect birthday flair. 

Alcohol Infused Chocolate Covered Strawberries
Ingredients
  • 2 16 oz containers of fresh strawberries
  • 1/4 cup of Alcohol (I used Strawberry Vodka) *
  • 1 17 oz container of Baker's Dipping Chocolate
  • 1 jar of Rainbow Sprinkles **
  • Marinade Injector ***

* You can get creative with the alcohol you choose to use – flavored vodka, sweet champagne, or liquor (Grand Marnier, Amaretto, or Chambord).

 

** You can omit the sprinkles or substitute them for shaved chocolate, drizzled white chocolate, nuts, or any other garnishing you prefer.

*** I was preparing these last minute, I didn't have a marinade injector so I improvised and used an eye dropper.


Directions
  1. Thoroughly clean the strawberries and make sure they are completely dry
  2. Once dry, inject each strawberry with the desired amount of alcohol (I used about ¾ teaspoon to 1 teaspoon per berry – you don’t want to add too much because it will come seeping out and make a mess)
  3. After infused, place strawberries in the freezer for about 30 minutes to allow them to firm up
  4. Melt chocolate according to the package directions and place sprinkles in a small bowl
  5. Dip each berry in the chocolate and then into the sprinkles
  1. Transfer berries to a parchment lined  baking sheet and allow to harden for about 10 minutes
  1. Keep refrigerated until served
These berries were a huge hit!  Unfortunately, they were such a hit that the birthday girl didn't get to enjoy many of time.  I'm sure these will be requested again in the near future!

September 27, 2012

Baked Apple Chips & Apple Cinnamon Water

Because I have a lot of left-overs for dinner this week, I had time to make a little fall treat - Baked Apple Chips!  These are the perfect crunchy chip to get yourself in the fall spirit, plus they're super easy to make and they leave your home smelling of cinnamon and nutmeg!

Baked Apple Chips
 Ingredients
  • 3 apples
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees F
  2. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper
  3. In a small bowl, mix together the spices and salt
  4. Crosswise, cut off  both ends of each of the apples (no need to core apples)
  5.  Using a mandolin, or sharp knife, slice the apples as thin as possible (about 1/16 inch)
  6. Discard any seeds
  7. Transfer apples to lines baking sheets, making sure they're lined in a single layer (no overlapping)
  8. Sprinkle apples with spice mixture and rub with your fingers to work it into the apples
  9. Bake for about 30 minutes then flip them over
  10. Bake for another 30 to 60 minutes or until crispy in appearance
  11. Let cool and enjoy
 

Adapted from A Cozy Kitchen

Since I bought a plethora of apples this past weekend, I've been using them for everything imaginable - apple crisp, chips, snacks, and this great Apple Cinnamon Water.  On a side note, I really can't wait to make a Pennsylvania Dutch Apple Pie, but that will have to wait until I get my next bunch of apples.  I made a large pitcher of apple cinnamon water and have been replacing it in my fridge for a few days now.  I drink about a gallon of water a day, so this is a great alternative to spice up my water - literally!  It's also a metabolism booster which is an added plus!

Apple Cinnamon Water
Ingredients
  • 2 apples thinly sliced (the type of apple is based on preference)
  • 2 cinnamon sticks 
Directions
  1. Drop the apple slices in the bottom of the pitcher and then the cinnamon sticks
  2. Cover with ice about 1/2 way through then with water
  3. Place in the fridge for 10 minutes before serving
I've doubled the ingredients to add more flavor.  This recipe makes one big pitcher and you can re-fill the water 3 to 4 times before replacing the apples and cinnamon.  Sorry I don't have a picture of my pitcher.  By the time I thought to photograph it, I had already depleted my first batch.  Next time I remake it I'll add some photos.

September 26, 2012

Chili

As I said in my last post, fall is here and I'm excited to start cooking up some great fall recipes!  The first on my agenda is chili.  This is another recipe that I've stolen from my mom because it's a delicious warm dinner for those cool fall nights.

Chili
Ingredients
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup green pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 cup celery, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon crumbled dried oregano
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 can petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 small can tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup turkey broth
  • 1/2 cup water
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
  • 2 cups drained beans (any kind will do)
  • sour cream or plain Greek yogurt (optional)
Directions
  1. Heat oil in a large pot and add meat
  2. Cook meat, chopping down and stirring meat to break it apart
  3. Add onions, peppers, celery, oregano, bay leaves, chili powder, and cumin; stir to blend
  4. Add tomatoes, paste, broth, water, and red pepper flakes; stir to blend
  5. Bring chili to a boil then reduce heat to medium and cook for about 20 minutes; stir often
  6. Add beans and cook for about 10 minutes longer
  7. Garnish with sour cream and serve with corn bread
I cut this recipe in half from the original recipe and I used ground turkey instead of 1 pound ground pork and 1 pound ground beef.  I adjusted the spices as well, but kept the amount of beans the same.  Play around with the recipe and make it your own.

Michael helped with the corn bread and we had a great dinner!  The first words out of his mouth after his first bite were, "wow that's spicy, but man is it good!"  I'll take that as a compliment and add this to the list of recipes to repeat!

Now that we have tons of left overs for the week, I'll have some time to start planning for my next fall meal!  For now enjoy this recipe and the beautiful fall weather that we're having here in New England!

September 25, 2012

Happy Fall


It’s been another busy weekend!  Friday night I had help in the kitchen.  Michael helped me make one of my favorite dishes! Chicken Paprika with Spaetzle has been a favorite of mine since I can remember.  On birthdays or special occasions, I would ALWAYS request this dish.  The chicken is deliciously tender and the homemade spaetzle is a great, doughy alternative to noodles.  If you’ve never made them, I suggest snagging this recipe and using them in soups or in place of pasta.  I plan to use them in a pumpkin soup I'll be making next month.

Chicken Paprika with Homemade Spaetzle
Ingredients
For the Chicken
  • 3 to 4 boneless chicken breasts, cut in half
  • ½ cup all purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • 1 chicken flavor bouillon cube
  • ½ cup sour cream
For the Spaetzle
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • ½ cup water
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ teaspoon salt 
Directions 
For the Chicken
  1. Coat the chicken with flour; reserve the remaining flour
  2. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the olive oil, then cook the chicken until browned on all sides (about 7 to 10 minutes) and remove from the skillet
  3. Add the remaining flour and onions to the oiled skillet and cook, stirring constantly for about 2 minutes
  4. Then stir in salt, paprika, pepper, water, and bouillon
  5. Return the chicken to the skillet, cover, reduce heat to medium, and simmer for 25 minutes or until the chicken is fork-tender, only turn once
  6. Meanwhile, prepare the spaetzle (see below directions)
  7. Once chicken is tender, remove to a large platter
  8. Spoon out fat from pan and stir in the sour cream until blended
  9. Add spaetzle to the sauce and serve with the chicken
Directions
For the Spaetzle
  1. In a medium sized pot, bring to a boil 4 quarts of water and 1 teaspoon of salt
  2. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together 2 cups of flour, ½ cup of water, 3 eggs, and ½ teaspoon of salt until smooth
  3. Over boiling water with a spaetzle maker (or I just use 2 spoons – 1 spoon to scoop batter and 1 to push into the water) drop the spaetzle into the boiling water; making sure they aren’t too large (the size of a gumball)
  4. Reduce heat to medium
  5. Stir water gently so spaetzle doesn’t stick together
  6. Boil for 5 minutes or until al dente and then drain

It was nice to have Michael's help making the spaetzle.  For my first attempt at this dish I was quite proud of my results - and so what Michael.  It was just as good as my mom always makes it!  The chicken was light and tender and Michael's spaetzle were cooked to perfection!  I'm defiantly going to be requesting his help more in the kitchen now!

On Saturday we were in NYC for the Yankee's game and a Dinner Cruise.  Unfortunately, we had to leave the game early to get to our dinner.  We left at the end of the 8th inning.  Little did we know the game would get so much more exciting with the Yankee's finally winning it 10-9 in extra innings.  The dinner cruise was a nice way to end the day.  Although the food was sub-par, the view made up for it! 
On Sunday we went over to my parents and I had a cooking lesson - Homemade Pasta Sauce.  That recipe will be coming soon once I make it myself!  While I was there I also whipped up an apple crisp for dessert.  I again used my mom's recipe because I love the version that she makes.  Most crisps have the oatmeal topping, but this topping is a mix of butter with flour and sugar! Absolutely amazing when baked! 

Apple Crisp
 Ingredients
  • 5 cups peeled and diced apples (8 to 10) macoun apples
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ pound of cold butter, cut into small pieces
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  2. Butter a 1 ½ quart baking dish
  3. Once the apples are cut, place in a large bowl and sprinkle with ½ teaspoon of cinnamon and 1 tablespoon of sugar
  4. Then place apples in baking dish
  5. Evenly pour 1/3 cup of water on top of apples
  6. Combine the flour, remaining sugar, remaining cinnamon, and salt in a bowl
  7. Rub in the butter with your hands until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs
  8. Spread crumbs evenly over the apples
  9. Bake for about 30 to 35 minutes or until crust is browned
  10. Serve warm with whipped cream or ice cream
Our spaghetti and meatballs was a great Sunday night dinner and my apple crisp was the icing on the cake! By the time I left, the whole crisp was also completely devoured.  What Michael and I took home was gone in 1 day, so I'd call that a success!

Now that the fall weather is creeping in,  I'm getting antsy to begin making all of these amazing fall recipes that I've accumulated.  I'll be starting tonight with chili and corn bread.

September 18, 2012

Salmon & Quinoa

After preparing a large meal on Saturday for my family and having another large meal with Michael's family on Sunday to celebrate Rosh Hashanah, I felt like we needed to take a food time-out! Instead of diving into the leftovers that we had from Saturday, since I thought we could save those for later in the week, we decided to grill up some salmon and serve it with a vegetable quinoa.

The salmon was by far the best salmon that we've cooked to date.  The marinade is simply 1/4 cup brown sugar and 2 tablespoons soy sauce.  The key is to grill the salmon evenly, for just the right amount of time so that the marinade soaks into the salmon and give it a perfect balance between the sweet sugar and the salty soy sauce.  I'll bow down to Michael for grilling up an amazing salmon!

 Brown Sugar Salmon
Ingredients
  • 4 6oz salmon fillets
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • cooking spray/olive oil
Directions  
  1. In a small bowl, mix the brown sugar and soy sauce; set aside
  2. Preheat grill or grill pan to medium-high heat
  3. Prepare salmon by washing salmon and pat dry
  4. Drizzle olive oil on a piece of foil and place salmon on foil
  5. Fold the edges of the foil to create a bowl/barrier so the marinade is contained on the fish
  6. Coat the salmon with the marinade
  7. Place the foiled bowl on the grill and cook for about  5 minutes on each side or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork or until desired degree of brownness
Vegetable Quinoa
Ingredients
  • 1 cup of uncooked quinoa
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 1/4 celery, finely chopped
  • 1/4 carrots, finely chopped
  • 1/4 mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup cooked corn
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
 Directions
  1. In a medium sauce pan, bring quinoa, vegetable broth, and water to a boil then cover sauce pan and reduce heat to low and allow quinoa to cook until all of the water is broth/absorbed
  2. While the quinoa is cooking, in a medium frying pan, on medium heat, cook the celery and carrots until they start to soften and brown, about 4/5 minutes.  Once browned, add onions and saute for about 3/4 minutes.  Then add corn and mushrooms and continue cooking for about 5 more minutes.
  3. Once quinoa is cooked, add sauteed vegetables and spices
After eating like a king and a queen all weekend, it was defiantly nice to prepare this light dinner - although we both splurged for a piece of cheesecake for dessert!