Thursday, October 16, 2014

Bacon Cheddar Cheese Puffs

Today we had a fun event at work. We all got together to have a potluck and play games. These types of events don't happen very often, so it's always nice to get out of the office for a bit. Well, we had a sign up sheet to determine who would bring what for today. I decided to sign up for an appetizer. Normally, I would make a dessert since that's my favorite thing to make, but I decided to sign up for an appetizer. Everyone and their brother signed up for desserts. It took me quite a while to decide what I wanted to make. Eventually, I settled on this cheese puff recipe from With Love and Cupcakes. Instead of Chipotle Cheese I used Bacon Cheddar Cheese since TJ's didn't have that option. And, I must not know how to make things smalls because my cheese puffs were quite large. What really matters is how it tasted, and these were great! I would definitely make these cheese puffs again, but smaller! And, my co-worker's must have liked them, because only 2 were left! Leftovers for the win! Enjoy!

  • 1 cup water
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon mustard
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 cup grated chipotle-flavored cheddar cheese, like the one here (Or Bacon Cheddar Cheese from Trader Joe's)

Pre-heat your oven to 450 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Take out a small saucepan and combine the water through mustard. Set the stove to medium heat. Stir until the butter has melted and the mixture begins to boil. Add in the flour and lower the heat to low. Stir until the mixture comes together and pulls away from the sides of the pan. Continue to cook the dough and stirring for about five minutes. The mixture should start to steam. Transfer the dough to your standing mixture. Go ahead and beat for a couple minutes to help release some of the heat from the dough. Next, add in an egg one at a time. I beat the egg prior to adding to the mixture. Stir well after each addition. Fold in the cheese and combine well. Put some of the mixture into a piping bag and pie out the mixture in small amounts...1 1/2 inches side and 3/4 inches tall. Bake the puffs for about 15-20 minutes or until nice and golden in color. Remove from oven and cool completely. Enjoy.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Apple Streusel Egg Muffins

It's been a long time since we've posted a new recipe. Sorry about that. No good excuse really other than being busy with life. This particular recipe that I'm posting today is from the 21 Day Sugar Detox Book . I did this detox back in June, and it was pretty difficult. But, I really think it helped with sugar cravings, and I lost about 8 pounds! Fortunately, the author provides plenty of wonderful recipes to choose from during the detox. This Apple Streusel Muffin was something I ate for breakfast everyday. There's absolutely no sugar in it save for the diced apples. However, it's still very good. I'm still eating this for breakfast along with a Chocolate Avocado Smoothie! Enjoy!

1 tbsp butter, coconut oil, or ghee (I use butter)
1 1/2 cups peeled & chopped green apple
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon, divided
3 tbsp warm water
6 eggs (I use 5)
2 tbsp full-fat coconut milk
1/2 tsp  vanilla
1/4 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp coconut flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
Pinch salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium sized skillet, sautee the diced apples in the melted butter over medium heat. Sprinkle 1 tsp of the cinnamon and stir. Add in the water. Stir and cook for about 10 minutes until the apples are the consistency of chunky applesauce or apple pie filling. Set aside to cool completely.

In a medium size bowl, add the eggs and whisk. Then, add the coconut milk and vinegar. Whisk until incorporated. Sift in the coconut flour, baking soda, and salt. Add in the remaining 1/2 tsp cinnamon. Whisk until well combined. Next, stir in the cooled apples. Prepare 6 cups of a muffin tin with parchment paper muffin cup liners. Pour the mixture into the cups. Bake for about 35-40 minutes or until the muffins have risen and golden in color. Enjoy.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Shrimp Scampi with Linguini

Sometimes when you make a recipe you immediately want to post it. This is one of those recipes. I've never made a recipe by Tyler Florence, but maybe I should start making more. This Shrimp Scampi was EXCELLENT! Seriously, it tasted like a restaurant quality entree. I did make it a couple weeks ago, but it was too late to take pictures. So, I made it again tonight and it was just as good as the first time I made it. It has a ton of flavor thanks to the butter, olive oil, lemon juice, and wine. Plus, the addition of red pepper flakes gives it a nice kick. I highly, highly recommend this recipe for your next dinner. It's that good! Enjoy!

1 pound linguini
4 tbsp butter
4 extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
2 shallots, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
Pinch red pepper flakes, optional
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 c dry white wine
Juice of 1 lemon
1/4 c finely chopped parsley leaves (or basil)

Boil the linguini (or spaghetti) in a large pot of water with a bit of salt and olive oil. When the pasta is al dente drain into a colander and set aside.

In a large skillet, melt 2 tbsp butter and 2 tbsp olive oil at medium-high heat. Add in the shallots and garlic and red pepper flakes. Sprinkle salt and pepper over the shrimp and add to the skillet. Once the shrimp has turned pink (after 3 minutes or so) remove from the skillet and set aside. Add the lemon juice and wine and bring to a boil. Then, add in the remaining 2 tbsp butter and olive oil. Add back the shrimp and pasta to the skillet. Sprinkle the parsley or basil into the skillet. Season with salt and pepper if needed and drizzle with olive oil. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Asian Fried Chicken Salad

Oh, Applebee’s. I remember in my hometown for awhile, Applebee’s was actually a decent choice for a restaurant (it was the Midwest). When my friend turned 21, it was the logical place to take her and we spent the night testing the limits of a newbie bartender (I had the the worst, and strongest, Long Island Ice Tea of my life.) But today, Applebee’s is not a place I would visit under normal circumstances. Especially since Richmond has so many great non-chain restaurant options. Still, I wanted to try this copycat salad, which I found on a blog named “Tastes Better From Scratch.” It looked good whether it came from “the neighborhood” or not.

It turned out great, surprisingly. Nice crispy chicken that could have maybe used a touch more salt. The slaw and salad mix was different, but a nice way to add crunch without going full slaw. And the dressing was really good. Sweet with an Asian flair. I liked that it was a meal salad so that was a good way to get us to eat relatively healthy (fried part aside). It was a lot of steps though, so I don’t think this would go into my “easy dinner” pile.

1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup cornflake crumbs (I used Parmesan Herb crumbs)
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 chicken breast
3 cups vegetable oil, for frying
3 cups chopped romaine lettuce
Bag of rainbow or broccoli slaw
1/2 cup chopped red cabbage
1/2 cup chopped napa cabbage
1 carrot, shredded

1 green onion, chopped
1/4 cup chopped cucumber (optional)
1 Tbsp sliced almonds (optional)

3 Tbsp honey
1 1/2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp Dijon Mustard
1/8 tsp sesame oil

Start by whisking your dressing ingredients together in a small bowl, making sure they mix completely. Refrigerate this until you’re ready to use it. Get out two more small bowls (lots of dishes, sorry) and in one beat the egg and milk together. In the second mix the flour, crumbs, salt and pepper. Cut your chicken into long thin strips, as evenly as you can.

In a large saucepan over medium high heat, preheat your oil. I don’t think you need the full 3 cups of oil, just enough to make about a half inch in the pan. Heat the oil to about 350 degrees. One by one, dip your chicken strips in the egg mixture, and then the flour mixture, making sure they get completely coated, then CAREFULLY put them into the oil. Don’t just plop them in or you’ll have hot oil going everywhere and that’s a danger to everyone. I did about 4 chicken strips in each batch so I could watch them. You want to fry for about four minutes, turning over halfway through to get a good golden brown on the crust. Then set them aside on a paper towel.

Ok, that’s most of the work. Now you just have to mix together the salad ingredients, add the chicken on top and pour some of the dressing over the whole thing. It’s a great meal, and you don’t have to deal with the strange folks eating at Applebee’s to enjoy it.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Pizzette with Fontina, Tomato, Basil, and Proscuitto

One of our Iron Chef alum is moving to we had a going away party in her honor. The theme was cheese and wine. Yum. But, I decided to bring a little appetizer to the party. After all, cheese isn't the most filling food in the world. I perused a couple of my cookbooks before settling on this recipe from Bon Appetit. Unfortunately, I completely forgot to put the prosciutto on the pizza but they still came out pretty tasty. I also used Trader Joe's pre-made pizza dough which definitely saved me some time. I also used a biscuit cutter to make little round pizza bites. Overall, I thought this was quite a tasty little appetizer. I will definitely make the next time I need to bring an appetizer to a party! Enjoy!

1 13.8 oz refridgerated pizza dough
3/4 c grated Fontina cheese (about 3 oz)
8 cherry tomatoes, quartered
2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
2 tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/3 c thinly sliced fresh basil
1 1/2 oz thinly sliced prosciutto, coarsely torn into strips

Preheat your oven to 475. Lightly sprinkle rimmed baking sheet (or pizza stone) with flour. Next, roll out the dough on a floured surface and use a 2 1/2 inch cookie or biscuit cutter to cut the dough rounds. Arrange the rounds on the baking sheet. Sprinkle the Fontina cheese on the rounds. Divide equally. Next, place 2 tomato quarters on each round, pressing gently into dough. Sprinkle tomatoes with grated Parmesan cheese. Place in the oven and bake for about 12 minutes or until the cheese is a golden color. Remove from the oven and drizzle with olive oil and then top with the basil. Then, sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Drape prosciutto strips over. Serve immediately.

Friday, August 22, 2014


I've been craving pancakes for a while now, and the other night I decided to satisfy that craving. I've made homemade pancakes before, and they turned out okay. But, I wanted to try a different recipe in hopes that I could find a way to make a light and fluffy yet tasty pancake. I decided to peruse the web in hopes of finding a recipe that would accomplish this. After reviewing a couple recipes I ultimately decided on this recipe by Bill Hilbrich. It received 5 stars, and people seemed to love this recipe. I decided to give it a try but tweak it a bit. I added the juice of one lemon to the milk and about 1/4 tsp of vanilla to the batter. Man, these pancakes turned out friggin awesome. I'm not even joking. They tasted like pancakes you would get at your favorite Pancake House. The pancakes were indeed light and fluffy and tasted great. I had plenty of batter left over, so I decided to freeze it. I had them again about a week later, and they still tasted great. I highly, highly recommend this recipe the next time you want pancakes. They're easy to make and sooo much better than a pancake mix. Enjoy!

1/4 cup butter, melted (1/8 of a pound)
  • tablespoons sugar
  • teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 tsp Vanilla optional
  • Juice of one lemon added to the milk (optional)
Take out a medium bowl and combine the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Set aside. Take out a small bowl and add the milk and juice of one lemon. Set aside for one minute. Add the eggs to a large bowl and beat well. Then add the melted butter and the milk. Stir well. Add the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Set aside for ten minutes. I use an ice cream scooper and scoop out the batter onto your griddle. Make sure it's set at medium-high heat. Once the pancake batter starts to have bubbles forming and has a golden color flip over to the other side. Serve warm with butter and syrup.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

The Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies

Who doesn't love a chocolate chip cookie? I mean really. I don't think I could ever date a man who doesn't love a good ol' fashioned chocolate chip cookie. Basically, I don't want to have to eat the entire batch of cookies by myself. Anyway, I found this particular recipe in my handy dandy Cook's Illustrated Cookbook. Seriously, you guys, if you don't have this cookbook you're big time missing out. It's probably my favorite cookbook out of all the cookbooks that I have. And, trust me, I own a ton. Anyway, back to these scrumptious cookies. So, what I think really makes this recipe is the brown butter. Mmm. Brown. Butter. It gives the cookie a more robust flavor, and the chocolate packs a punch. I'm definitely making these cookies again, and I think they might be my new favorite recipe. Definitely an ultimate cookie!

1 3/4 all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
14 tbsp Unsalted Butter
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla
1 large egg plus 1 large egg yolk
1 1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chip
3/4 cup pecans or walnuts, toasted and chopped (optional)

Preheat oven to 375. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Next, whisk flour and baking soda together in medium bowl; set aside.
Melt 10 tablespoon butter in 10 inch skillet over medium-high heat. Continue cooking, swirling pan constantly, until butter is dark golden brown and has a nutty aroma, 1 to 3 minutes. Transfer browned butter to a heat proofed large bowl. Add 4 remaining tablespoons butter and stir until completely melted. Add brown sugar, salt, vanilla, and granulated sugar to the melted butter. Whisk well. Add egg and egg yolk; whisk until mixture is smooth with no sugar lumps remaining, about 30 seconds. Let mixture stand for 3 minutes then whisk for 30 seconds. Repeat process of resting and whisking 2 more times until mixture is thick, smooth, and shiny.
Using rubber spatula, stir in flour mixture until just combined. Next, stir in chocolate chips and nuts (if using). Give dough final stir to ensure that no flour pockets remain and ingredients are evenly distributed. Roll the dough into balls and place on cookie sheets. Bake 1 sheet at a time until cookies are golden brown and still puffy and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft, about 10 to 14 minutes, and rotating baking sheet halfway through. Transfer baking sheet to wire rack, and let cookies cool to room temperature.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Summer Pasta with Asparagus and Ricotta

It's interesting to think about how the pasta we crave in the winter is so different from the pasta we crave in the summer. In the winter, I want a robust red sauce, braised for hours, with plenty of meat. In the summer, pasta needs to be lighter. I tend towards more lemony sauces with veggies and plenty of basil. That's probably why this recipe caught my eye when I saw it on the Willow Bird Baking blog. It's made with ricotta cheese and probably isn't all that healthy, but it's ok to splurge every once in awhile (or most of the time, in my case). It was pretty good! Bright and flavorful, like summer in a bowl.

20 ounces dried pasta
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 shallot, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 green onions, sliced diagonally
1/4 cup white wine
2 ounces unsalted butter
8 spears asparagus, sliced into 2-inch chunks
8 ounces whole milk ricotta cheese
1/4 bunch fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley, rough chopped
12 fresh basil leaves, rough chopped
lemon juice, salt, freshly ground pepper, Parmesan as needed

You can use whatever pasta you want. The original author used fettuccine, but I prefer a thinner pasta like angel hair most of the time. Start by making an ice water bath in a small bowl for the asparagus. Bring some water to boil in a small pan, or if you're like me and love economy of pans, use the same pot you'll later use for pasta. Blanch the asparagus for just 2 minutes and then fish them out and put them in ice water to stop the cooking. Drain and set aside. If you're smart like me, you now have a nice pot of boiling water for your pasta. (It's slightly green but don't be weird about it.) Cook the pasta, drain and set that aside as well. Reserve a small amount of the pasta water just in case.

Over medium heat in a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil before adding the shallots. Cook them for about a minute before adding the garlic and cooking for another 30 seconds. As always, don't burn the garlic. Deglaze with white wine and then whisk in the butter until it's melted. I'm not sure what the whisk does here, but I also don't know what would happen if you didn't whisk, so just whisk!

Put in the green onions and asparagus and cook for just a minute to heat them before reducing the heat to low. Now add in the ricotta cheese and stir. Give it plenty of salt and then add in the pasta plus a little pasta water to loosen up the sauce if it needs it. Add the parsley, basil, and the rest of the olive oil and mix in well. This is where you need to start tasting. Add more salt & pepper, and some lemon juice. I probably added 3-5 tablespoons of lemon juice because I like that bit of acid. Once it's tasting great, serve with some grated Parmesan on top, and enjoy the flavors of summer! 

Monday, June 30, 2014

Balsamic Grilled Chicken Drumsticks

It's been awhile since we made chicken legs, so I reached deep into my well of recipes and pulled out this one. I do love a good balsamic recipe, and it's perfect grilling weather. These turned out ok, but not crazy flavorful. That's the problem with some marinades... they just don't get into the meat enough. I think that was the case here. The chicken was good, but the balsamic flavor was just a hint. I think this would be better if there was some sort of glaze you could brush on so that the taste would be a little more pronounced. This was very easy though, so there's that.

Chicken legs, skin on (about 2 lbs.)
1 tbsp mustard (I used Dijon)
1 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
Salt & pepper

Whisk all the ingredients (minus the chicken legs, of course) in a small bowl until the oil and vinegar have put aside their differences and joined together. Put the chicken legs in a large ziploc bag, pour the marinade over them, and put them in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. We had them in there for a few hours. Take them out about 10 minutes before you grill them. Every grill is different but remember with a bone in they need to cook longer than regular chicken breasts. About 20-30 minutes should do it. Then serve with a side of paper napkins. 

Monday, June 23, 2014

Salmon with Fennel, Citrus & Chiles

Fresh salmon is so delicious that you don't even have to do much to it to make it mouth-watering. This recipe is a great example of that. You get a lot of just pure salmon flavor, bumped up a bit by citrus, fennel and some spicy chiles. I made this once before when blood oranges were in season, and although it's good with regular oranges, the blood oranges were definitely better. They have a much brighter, more tart flavor that fused with the fennel and salmon better, so if you can find blood oranges, I recommend using those. This is a really simple recipe (found in Bon Appetit) that only requires a little prep, and some slow roasting time in the oven, and before you know it you're eating some spectacular-tasting salmon. 

1-2 lb. skinless salmon filet
Salt & pepper
1 fennel bulb
1 blood orange (or navel orange)
1 lemon
1 Fresno chile or jalapeño
Fresh dill sprigs
1/4-1/2 cup olive oil
Sea salt

First, preheat your oven to 275 degrees. Place your salmon in a glass baking dish and season it with salt & pepper. If you have skin it's not a big deal, just put it skin-side down and make sure to remove it before serving. Now it's time to prep your fruits and veggies. Thinly slice the fennel bulb, orange, lemon and chile. You can do this with a nice sharp knife, or if you are like the Hubs and are obsessed with the mandoline, that works for the fennel and chile, not so much for the citrus. Once you've sliced everything up, arrange the fennel, chile and citrus plus four sprigs of fresh dill over the top of the salmon. The first time we made it, we followed the directions and put this on the bottom but the result was really tasty fennel, and absolutely no flavor in the salmon. We switched it around this time and that helped. Season one more time and then pour the olive oil all over the top. The original called for 3/4 cup of oil but that just seemed like a ton to us. 

Now, bake for about 30-40 minutes. We went for the full 40 this time and it was perfect. Sprinkle the salmon with sea salt before enjoying. We also found it helped to squeeze some of the citrus over the top of the salmon. Hope you enjoy the clean, simple flavor!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Spice Rubbed Chicken Tacos

It's taco season! Well, for me it's always taco season, but for the rest of the world, this is the time. It's hard to try new taco recipes because I already have so many I like, but this one seemed a little different, using chicken thighs, and it was dead simple so it's perfect for weeknights. Seriously, it took under 15 minutes from start to delicious finish. I found it on a blog called Food, Fashion & Fun. It's a good mixture of spicy and sweet, with some great char thanks to cooking it on the grill. And the toppings are simple too. Of course, you can put whatever you want on it, but I enjoyed the onion & jalapeño combo (even though one of the jalapeños was extra spicy and about burned my tongue off). If you're looking for a new taco that you can make in a jiffy, this one's for you.

1 1/2 pounds Chicken thighs
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil plus more for grilling
1 onion, sliced into 1/2 inch pieces
2 jalapenos, cut in half and sliced

Mix all the spices together in a small bowl, then add the olive oil to make a paste. Rub the paste onto the thighs (use gloves to keep clean). Heat up your grill and cook the chicken. Depending on how thick they are it might be 7-10 minutes or so. While the chicken is grilling, you can throw your onion and jalapeno in a pan with a little olive oil and saute them for about 5-7 minutes. You could also do them on the grill, but you might want to leave the jalapenos unsliced for that. After the chicken is done, toast up your tortillas, and then serve! I just added a little sour cream but you can put anything you want on them. That's the glory of tacos! 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Giada's California Lettuce Cups

Recently, I watched an episode of Giada at Home, and it was all about California cuisine. I believe this episode was called California Dream. Sometimes, I dream about how much I would enjoy living in California...especially southern Cali. But, I remind myself how expensive it is, the earthquakes, the fires, the population, and I immediately come back down to earth. Sigh. I will just have to admire it from afar. And, enjoy recipes like this one that Giada invented. I have to say as soon as I saw her make this I knew I wanted to try it. It fits in perfectly with the sugar detox that I'm trying (4 more days people)! I saw one review posted where they gave this recipe 1 star, because they thought it was too sour. I don't know. Maybe this person got a sour grapefruit, and if so I can see how that would be true. But, I thought it tasted delicious. I love the heat the pepper gives as well as the crunch from the almonds. For me, this was fabulous. Plus, my pink grapefruit was on the sweeter side so it worked great. I will say this is a messy dish. The juice from the dressing easily seeps out from the lettuce cup, so be sure you have plenty of napkins handy. But, overall this was a hit, and I've made it two other times since! Enjoy!

1/4 cup lime juice (from about 4 small or 2 large limes)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 red grapefruits
2 avocados
1/2 cup toasted almonds, roughly chopped
1 serrano chile, roughly chopped
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
1 head Boston or butter lettuce, leaves separated, washed and dried

First, take out your grapefruits and make sure you segment them and place in your bowl. I watched this video to learn how to do it, but I'm still not great at it. Anyway, just go with it and be sure to squeeze out the juice from the segmented grapefruit into your bowl before tossing in the trash (or compost). Next, add your diced avocados to the bowl. Then, add the almonds, chile pepper, and cilantro. Take out a small bowl and combine the lime juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Pour this into the bowl with the grapefruit. Toss gently. Spoon the mixture into the separated lettuce leaves, and enjoy!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Iron Chef Garlic Recap

Alright friends, grab your breath mints, it's time for Iron Chef Garlic! We had a fun night at Shu's place, and tasted a lot of good dishes as well. Garlic is one of those ingredients that everyone loves, but it isn't usually the main ingredient in a dish, so it was a nice challenge to try and make it shine. We opted to not have a drink this time, since none of us wanted to know what a garlic-tini tastes like. But for some reason, we kept the dessert option on the table... so now we all know what garlic truffles taste like. But more on that later, first, the apps!  

We started off strong with Kim's Zucchini Fritters with Garlic Dip. They were one of my personal favorites of the night, and that's coming from someone who doesn't have zucchini high on her preferred veggies list. I got a lot of sharp garlic flavor out of the dip, and nice crunch from the fritters. It was hard not to eat a bunch of them and ruin the rest of the meal (okay, I still ate a bunch of them.)

Morgan served her Garlic Bruschetta next. It had nice big chunks of mozzarella and tomatoes flavored with balsamic vinegar served on garlic covered bread rounds. You know something is good when people are willing to look ridiculous and possibly get messy eating it, and we definitely did both. These were nice, simple appetizers that delivered some great garlic flavor.

Our third appetizer ended up being our runner up for the night. Chelyen's Garlic Risotto Balls with Butter Tomato Sauce were very delicious. I could have eaten the sauce like a soup, it was so flavorful. The risotto balls were extremely tasty too, and a great idea if you ever have leftover risotto (does anyone ever have leftover risotto?).

Garlic bread is classic for very good reason. Cara gave the classic a twist by making it as pull-apart monkey bread. It was great! The bread was nice and soft, pillowy and easy to eat, plus there was plenty of garlic flavor. And if you have kids, they are suckers for this monkey bread so I recommend you try it!

Doan earned her second win with her Garlic Chicken pizza. The white sauce was excellent, nice and creamy and of course, very garlicky in the best possible way. The crust was very crisp and flavorful as well. I'm a big pizza person and this one definitely got high marks from me. And evidently from everyone else as well. Congrats on another win, Doan!!

Emily recently unearthed a crockpot she had gotten as a wedding gift many years ago and decided to put it to good use for this battle. Her Crockpot Herb & Garlic Pork Roast wasn't over the top garlicky, but had really subtle flavor and made a great garlic main course. And gravy! Who doesn't love gravy?

Shu was brave and took on one of the garlic desserts. She made Garlic Cheesecake Chocolate Truffles with crushed graham cracker that she felt were maybe a bit too garlicky for dessert. I thought they were fine, though. I mean, garlic and cheesecake maybe should just stick to their own corners as a general rule but for something like an Iron Chef competition where we are pushing the boundaries a bit, these were a great attempt. 

I also chose to do a dessert and tried a garlic peanut brittle that I then put into chocolate chip cookies. I actually didn't think it was too bad, considering, again, that garlic dessert makes very little sense. The garlic paired with peanuts made for a savory brittle. If you were unfortunate to get a big chunk of garlic though, you definitely knew it was there. I don't think I'd ever make these cookies again, but I also ate a fair amount of them, so I consider it a valiant effort. 

That did it for the dishes for the evening, but trust me when I tell you that they stuck with us for a long while, in scent alone. I think I had garlic coming out of my pores the next day, and I definitely did not have any fear of a vampire attack. Our next Iron Chef will be in August and it looks like we've forced Doan to host just so she can't beat us all again.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Ultimate Peanut Butter Chocolate Cookies

My friends had a cookout the other weekend, and I was contemplating what to bring. I believe last year I made homemade cupcakes, and while they were somewhat of a hit I got outplayed by someone who brought a box of cupcakes from one of our fabulous local bakeries. Sigh. Well, this year I decided to go with what I'm best at, and that's making cookies! Mmmm. Cookies. 

As per the usual, I found this recipe on Sally's Baking Addiction. And, O.M.G. These were frigging awesome. I kid you not! The cookie was thick and the peanut butter cups just burst in your mouth. Man, I could really use one of these right now. This recipe was very simple to make, and I highly recommend you get in the kitchen this evening and make me some. Oops, I mean make you some! :) Enjoy!

1 and 1/2 (190g) cups all-purpose flour (accurately measured)
1/2 cup (64g) unsweetened natural cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick or 115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup (100g) light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
1/4 cup (60g) cup creamy or chunky peanut butter
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons (30ml) milk
1 and 1/4 cups Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, chopped (about 16 Reese’s miniatures)
Drizzle: 1/3 cup (85g) creamy or chunky peanut butter (I omitted this step)

Go ahead and take out a medium sized bowl, and add in the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk to combine, and then set the bowl aside for later.

Now, take out your standing mixer bowl (with the paddle attachment) and beat the butter on high until nice and creamy. This could take about a minute or so. If needed; scrape down the sides of the bowl and then add in the sugars and peanut butter and mix on medium speed until combined. Add the egg and vanilla, and mix till combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl if necessary. Carefully, add in the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Having the speed on low is best for this. Go ahead and add in the milk and stir until just combined. Lastly, add in the peanut butter cups and stir until evenly disbursed. Wrap the bowl with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for an hour or at the most 24 hours.

Once you're ready to start baking; go ahead and pre-heat your oven to 350. Take out your cookie sheets and your dough. Roll the dough into balls and place on the sheet. I believe I got about 20 cookies out of this dough. Anyway, go ahead and place in the oven and bake for about 10-12 minutes. According to Sally, the dough won't spread much (and it didn't) so gently press down on the cookies with the back of a spoon once it comes out of the oven. Transfer to a wire rack, and cool.

Pork Tenderloin Lettuce Cups

Recently, I wanted to try a new pork tenderloin recipe, and one that I didn't have to grill. So, as any technologically savvy individual would do; I went to the world wide web to find a great recipe! The recipe I ended up using was courteous of the Food Network. Ellie Krieger created this Pork Tenderloin Seasoned Rub, and the reviewers gave it 5 stars. The good thing about it is I had all the ingredients in my kitchen already. I like not having to go out to the grocery store to purchase just one or two ingredients for a recipe. Anyway, I have to say the pork tenderloin turned out delicious. Originally, I had the pork tenderloin just by itself with a baked sweet potato accompanying it. But, I decided to use the leftovers in these lettuce cups as pictured. I included my pineapple salsa in the lettuce cups, and it turned out simply divine! Please see the recipe below for the Pork Tenderloin Seasoned Rub recipe. And, click here if you'd like to include the pineapple salsa. Enjoy!

1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Salt (I used half a teaspoon)
1 1/4 pounds pork tenderloin
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic

First go ahead and pre-heat your oven to 450 degrees. Now, take out a small mixing bowl and combine the garlic powder, dried oregano, cumin, coriander, thyme, and about half a teaspoon salt. Stir with a fork until well combined. Take out your pork tenderloin, and sprinkle the rub all over and pat the seasoning into the tenderloin so it adheres well. 

Next, go ahead and grab a medium to large skillet (depending on the size of your tenderloin) and add the tablespoon of olive oil to the pan. Make sure the temperature is set to medium-high, and then add the minced garlic. Once the garlic becomes fragrant go ahead and add the tenderloin to the pan. Sear the tenderloin for about 10 minutes making sure to flip to the other side, so both sides are nice and seared. Then, transfer the mean to a roasting pan and bake for about 20 minutes or until the tenderloin is about 165 degrees internally. Enjoy!