Saturday, October 1, 2016

Copy-Cat Cinnabon Cinnamon Rolls

I love Pinterest! You can find so many great recipes including awesome copy-cat recipes. The latest copy-cat recipe I tried was Cinnabon Cinnamon Rolls!!! OMG!!!! These cinnamon rolls were absolutely incredible. I had to take them into work, because I had already eaten 2 of them in one sitting. I think my co-workers were pretty happy I brought them in; they thought the rolls were pretty fabulous. Plus, this recipe is actually pretty easy to make!! I highly recommend this recipe! So good!!!

For the recipe check out Jo Cooks!!

French Silk Pie

Last Thanksgiving, I was tasked to bake a dessert. My mom requested French Silk Pie as she loves the one from Belmont Food Shop in the Fan. Their pie is absolutely delicious so I was quite willing to find a good recipe. Enter Gimme Me Some Oven. I thought their version of a French Silk PIe sounded delicious. So, I made it for our Thanksgiving dinner, and boy was it a hit. I even made it for a Christmas dessert bake-off at work. Although I didn't win it was very much a hit. I seriously recommend this pie for your next Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner!!

For the recipe head on over to Gimme Some Oven's website for the recipe!! You won't be sorry!!!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Spicy Tahini Noodles

I may have mentioned before that the Hubs doesn't like peanut butter. Much to my eternal dismay. I mean seriously, how did I find and marry the one person in the world who hates peanut butter? Anyway, I recently discovered tahini. Thanks to this fantastic recipe on Half Baked Harvest, I was able to get my peanut butter fix but when the Hubs asked, I could honestly say, "No! This isn't peanut butter, it's tahini!" See! Sneaky. So, tahini is basically a butter made from sesame seeds. It is a lot looser than peanut butter, and there's definitely a big sesame flavor, which I love. These noodles were so good the night we made them. And then the next day they were even better! I also added chicken to the noodles to make it a bit more of a complete meal. You could add any veggies you want as well. I love having a recipe that is so versatile and customizable (and did I mention, delish?)!

1 pound linguine or other egg noodle pasta, (I used angel hair)
2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded (optional)
3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil, divided
1/2 cup tahini
6 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 cup hot chili oil
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, grated
2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
2 carrots, cut into matchsticks
4 cups mung bean sprouts
4 ounces mushrooms, sliced
8 green onions, chopped
1/3 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/2 cup roasted peanuts, roughly chopped (optional)

Start by making your pasta. When it's cooked, drain, rinse with cold water, and set aside. In a small bowl whisk together 2 tablespoons of the sesame oil, tahini, soy sauce, hot chili oil, balsamic vinegar and brown sugar. The whisk helps break up the tahini. (Oh, by the way, make sure you stir your tahini really well before adding it. It has a tendency to separate.) Set that aside. Heat your skillet or wok over high heat, and add the last tablespoon of sesame oil. Toss in the ginger and garlic and saute for 30 seconds. It'll cook really quickly so be prepared with the next step which is to add the carrots, bean sprouts, and mushrooms. We didn't have any bean sprouts but I'm sure they would have been good. Cook those veggies about 3-4 minutes so they are a little tender but still have some crisp to them. Add the noodles and toss to combine (this is harder than it sounds since the noodles are very averse to the situation). Remove from the heat and add the sauce. Once everything is evenly covered, add the green onions and basil. Serve topped with some crushed peanuts if you like. We didn't. 

Monday, April 6, 2015

Golden Graham Cupcakes

Back in February we had our 24th Iron Chef Competition! I can't believe we've been doing it for several years now. Friends have come and gone, but picking some interesting ingredients have remained! Jen hosted this last iron chef, and she chose cereal as the "secret" ingredient. I have to say I was sincerely worried about this ingredient. I did some perusing of recipes and for the most part I could only find dessert options. But, the girls pulled through and came up with some interesting and delicious recipes for the savory courses.

I opted for the sweet course. I figured it would be fun to find a dessert recipe using cereal. It was fun, but definitely difficult. There were a LOT of options, and it was tough deciding on one. Ultimately, I decided on these Golden Graham Cupcakes. Primarily, because my co-workers seriously loved them. But, then again they're easy to please!

I didn't win this particular iron chef, but I thought the recipe definitely hit the nail on the head with the concept! And, it was pretty darn tasty, too! If you're interested in giving this recipe a try; please click here and you will be routed to Your Cup of Cake. Enjoy!

Friday, April 3, 2015

Tropical Mango Ceviche

Last summer I visited a restaurant in Washington, DC called Oyamel. It's owned by Chef Jose Andres, and I highly, highly recommend you check it out. While I was there, I had the table-side guacamole, Tamal Verde, and Ceviche con Citricos. Lord, everything was so freaking good. I had never tried Ceviche before, but I realized I've been missing out. It was DELICIOUS!! I loved the hint of spice from the habanero. And, the juiciness of the pineapple. It was so good that I went searching for a similar recipe. I came across this one from Rick Bayless, and I decided to give it a try tonight. Wow! It's pretty damn good. Maybe not Oyamel quality, but certainly close. The recipe doesn't call for pineapple, but I added some to it, anyway. I'm glad I did. I love the hint of sweetness and juiciness that pineapple gives when you bite into it. I halved the recipe, and I still have plenty for lunch tomorrow! If you like Ceviche then you should definitely give this recipe a try! You won't be disappointed!!

1pound “sashimi-quality” skinless meaty ocean fish fillet (halibut, mahi mahi, or bass all work well), cut into ½ inch cubes
1/2cup fresh lime juice
1/2cup fresh orange juice
1small red onion, sliced very thin
1fresh habanero, stemmed and seeds removed, finely diced
2cups (about 12 ounces) cubed mango (we love the honey manila mangos that come from Mexico, usually starting in mid March)

1 cup pineapple (optional)1smallavocado, pitted, flesh scooped from the skin, diced
About 1/3cup chopped cilantro, plus more whole leaves for garnish

Take out a glass bowl and add the lime and orange juice. Add the chopped habanero and chopped fish. I used Chilean Sea Bass from Whole Foods. Cover and place in the fridge. If you like your fish medium-rare then let it sit for 30 minutes to an hour. If you want the fish fully cooked then let sit for 3-4 hours. Once the fish has finished cooking you can either keep the juices and add in the mangoes, pineapples, avocado, and onions. Or, you can drain the juice for a drier ceviche. Garnish with the cilantro, and serve by itself or with tortilla chips. Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Pomegranate, Pear, & Avocado Salad

Thank you, Pinterest, for finding me a wonderful salad recipe! I think I'm the worse at finding a salad recipe that delivers on flavor and crunch. I've come across a couple salad dressing recipes that I really enjoy, but I'm still the worse at putting a salad together. Have no fear; Pinterest is here to save the day! This recipe comes from Gimme Some Oven, and I have been making it over and over and over. I love the crunch factor of the pomegranates and the pistachios. I love the juiciness that the pears give the salad. And, how can you go wrong with avocados and goat cheese? Plus, this salad dressing is so good!! Seriously, if you're looking for a healthy recipe give this one a try! You'll love it!!

Salad Ingredients:

1 head Romaine lettuce, washed and roughly-chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 ripe pear, cored and diced
1 avocado, peeled, pitted and diced
2/3 cup shelled pistachios
2/3 cup crumbled goat cheese (or blue cheese, or feta cheese)
1/2 cup diced red onion (about half of a small red onion)
seeds from 1 pomegranate
citrus vinaigrette (see below)

Citrus Vinaigrette Ingredients:

1/3 cup orange juice (freshly-squeezed, if possible)
1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
1 tablespoon honey, if needed to sweeten
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
1/3 cup olive oil
To make the salad; take out a large bowl and toss in the lettuce, diced pear, diced avocados, diced onions, and the pomegranate seeds. Sprinkle the goat cheese and pistachios on top. Pour the salad dressing on top, and toss gently. Enjoy!

To make the dressing; pour all the ingredients into a mason jar. Place the lid on the jar and shake vigorously. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

"Alabama-Style" Chicken Kabobs

This recipe taught me two things. First, that "Alabama-style" is code for mayonnaise. Lots of mayonnaise. (But that it tastes good!) And second, that skewers and kabobs are not interchangeable. Skewers are actually the metal or wood sticks that you put the meat and vegetables on, and kabobs are the result. Learning! The more you know...

Anyway, back to the recipe. This is very simple, which is always nice. And it's actually really tasty as well. The chicken gets nice and juicy, with a little char and flavor from the grill, and a little kick as well. It's not the healthiest way to cook chicken, but it's not too bad for an occasional thing. Serve it with a nice big side of veggies if you need to settle your conscience. I found this recipe on my latest favorite food blog: food52.

1 1/2 cups mayo
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 Tbsp sambal oelek (more to taste)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into kabob sized cubes

First, mix up the sauce (everything but the chicken). I eyeballed the ingredients, mostly because I hate scraping things like mayo out of a measuring cup. But it turned out fine. Then (carefully!) stick your chicken on the skewers, leaving a bit of space between each cube so it will cook through. Drizzle a little olive oil on the skewers, followed by a touch of salt and pepper to taste, then put them on the grill. Reserve about half the sauce, and use the other half to baste the kabobs as you grill them. Once they are cooked through and have a little bit of color on them (about 8-12 minutes depending on size) they are ready to eat. Serve with the reserved sauce on the side for dipping, or just drizzle a little on top of the chicken. There you have it. Kabobs on skewers, Alabama style.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Easy Duck Confit

The Hubs and I don't really do that much for Christmas. It's just the two of us, and we usually have already given our gifts (or bought them for ourselves) in early December (or November, don't judge). It's not for everyone, but it works for us. This year, we wanted to make a special meal for Christmas, just to give the day a little "Tjuz" (shout out to you Queer Eye fans). So, we settled on duck. Specifically, this recipe on Food52 for "Melissa Clark's Really Easy Duck Confit." Except... we didn't get our act together before Christmas, so we actually had it for New Year's Day. Hey, listen. Duck is really hard to find in the RVA. We checked our go to for good meat, Fresh Market, and they don't carry it. So the Hubs asked around and found a place called Yellow Umbrella. I'd never heard of it, but apparently it's the place to get duck (and seafood, I hear).

Anyway, once you get your hands on some duck, try this recipe and I promise you won't be disappointed. She's right, it IS really easy. Like, really. And it's seriously good. The right amount of flavor from the thyme and salt, but not enough to overwhelm the duck. The skin was delicious, the meat was mouth watering, and the bone...well, that was all that was left at the end. We served it with a easy side of pancetta & shaved Brussels sprouts. The only thing we'd adjust is the cook time. It was a bit overcooked. I've adjusted the times in my instructions below.

4 duck legs (about a half pound each)
1 1/2 tsps kosher salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1 bay leaf, crumbled

If your legs are bigger than a half pound (ours were) adjust up the seasonings accordingly. Put the duck legs skin side up in a dish or tupperware, or if you don't like cleaning extra dishes like me, in the pan you will eventually cook them in. Mix up the salt, pepper, thyme and bay leaf and sprinkle generously over the duck. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let it hang out in the fridge for 24 hours.

Bring it out of fridge about 15 minutes before you're ready to cook just so it's not straight out of the fridge. Preheat the oven to 325. Flip the legs so the skin and fat is down, and cook on the stove tope for about 20 minutes over medium heat. Watch it, as ours got a little burnt on that side (still good). What you're looking for is for the fat to render out into delicious fatty liquid. When that liquid is about 1/4 inch deep, it's time to cook. Flip the legs back over again (skin side up) and cover your pan with foil. Cook for about an hour with the foil on, then remove the foil and cook for another 45 minutes. The original recipe called for two hours with the foil on and an hour with it off, but that was far too long. We cut it down and it was still too long, so I think the hour with foil on and 45 with foil off will be perfect. It's just right to make your Christmas (or New Year's) special!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Asian Ramen Salad

We can't end 2014 without a post in December! Yes, I'm sitting at home alone on New Year's Eve, but this is by choice. I swear! I am writing one of the last food blogs of the year! But, have no fear there's plenty more to come!

I found this yummy recipe on Table for Two's blog! She called it "Ridiculously Amazing Asian Ramen Salad." Now, I do think it was a good recipe, but "ridiculously amazing?" Eh. I don't think so. Honestly, it was a little weird using raw ramen noodles, but I did add the dressing in the morning and by lunch time the ramen noodles had softened. Everyone at my potluck did enjoy the recipe, so I'd definitely make it again! It's really simple to throw together, and I wonder what it would taste like if you eat it right away. Probably crunchy! Anyway, give it a whirl and let me know what you think! Enjoy!

1 (16 oz) bag of Cole Slaw Mix
1 cup Sunflower Seeds (seeds only and not the shells)
2 (3 oz) bags of Ramen, crushed (throw out the seasoning)
5 stalks of Scallions, sliced
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup granulated sugar

In order to crush the Ramen noodles; place in a large ziplock bag and crush with a rolling pin by rolling over the noodles. Now, take out a large bowl and add the cole slaw, sunflower seeds, crushed ramen, and scallions. Take out a medium bowl, and combine the vegetable oil through the sugar. Whisk well. No worries if the sugar doesn't completely dissolve. Pour the oil mixture over the noodle mixture and stir well making sure all the noodles are coated well with the dressing. Now, you can either serve it immediately or place it in the fridge and let chill for a couple hours. Serve cold or at room temperature! Enjoy!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Iron Chef Potato Recap

We had a smaller than normal group for this competition: just five of us were able to make it. At first, we were a little disappointed since potato is such a fantastic ingredient. But it turned out to be a blessing in disguise because by the end of the night we were all incredibly full and starched out. I think the turkey has been getting a bad rap as the cause of post-Thanksgiving lethargy, because after this competition, I'm pretty sure potatoes play a devious role in that. The good news is that basically everything was delicious. We had a really hard time judging and I'm sure the scores were all really close.

I had the first dish of the night and the only appetizer. I made a "potaffle" which is essentially a potato pancake but made on a waffle iron. And I topped it with a Dill Jalapeno Sour Cream. My relationship with the waffle iron was sorely tested while making this dish, but it must have turned out all right because everyone wanted seconds and it earned me the runner's up prize!

Next we went right into the mains, starting with Emily's Baked Potato Soup. Potato soup is probably my favorite soup of all time, and Emily's recipe was very, very good. Nice and creamy, seasoned perfectly, with crumbled bacon and cheese. You can't go wrong there. It would be perfect for filling and warming your belly on a cool fall night.

Chelyen had the other main and her entry was extremely creative as well as yummy: Loaded Baked Potato Empanadas with an Sour Cream & Onion dip. It had a great crispy crust on the outside, then inside you could see plenty of delicious bacon, cheese and potato. I loved the dip as well, which she made with carmelized onions. She definitely got major points for inventiveness and also for having the guts to tackle something as complicated as empanadas.

So, then we had Kim's side. Poor Kim. She made Scalloped Potatoes with Spinach that looked beautiful as it came out of the oven. It also had a ton of great flavor-- I particularly enjoyed the spinach with the creamy sauce. The problem was that her potatoes didn't get cooked all the way. Even after she put them back in the oven for round two, they were just too darn stubborn. But we all agreed the flavor was there, so it's a shame that it didn't quite turn out.

Finally, the Iron Chef Potato winner! Doan decided to do a dessert when no one else had signed up for one, and it's a good thing she did. Her Sweet Potato S'Mores Cheesecake was to die for. In fact, by this point we were all so full, and the dessert was still so amazing, that we almost died eating it. Ok, not quite. If you don't have a Thanksgiving dessert planned yet, you should make this. It was seriously good and extremely impressive! Congrats on another win, Doan. Someone's got to stop her winning streak. We'll give it a shot at our next competition in 2015!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Sausage and Apple Risotto

Last weekend was the first truly cold couple of days that we've had since last winter, which on one hand is really nice because I hate the cold. But on the other, I do miss those crisp fall days. In Richmond, autumn seems to last a week or two before we descend into winter, so we definitely like to take advantage. Which leads me to this dish: Sausage and Apple Risotto, which I found on a blog called Buttercup and Bourbon. I'm not sure if you could have a more "fall" dish. It's hearty and warm, and the addition of apple just takes me straight to autumn back home in Indiana. It could not be a more comforting meal. So get out a blanket, build a fire, and curl up in a chair with this dish.

I will say that if we made this again there are a few things we might change and I'm incorporating those changes into the recipe below. There didn't seem to be enough broth, and therefore the rice was still a little too al dente by the time we finished, so I've increased the amount. We also would prefer a little heat (shocker!) so next time I would use hot sausage instead of regular.

5 cups chicken broth
8 ounces mild pork sausage (or hot!)
1 small onion, diced
2 medium crisp apples, diced
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, minced
1 cup Arborio rice
1/2 to 1 cup apple cider

Shaved Parmesan cheese, for serving

Start by heating your chicken broth and keeping it at a simmer. In another small saucepan, simmer the apple cider as well. In a large skillet, start cooking the sausage, breaking it apart as you go. Once it's just begun to brown, add in the onions and apples and cook for about 7 minutes, until the onions soften. Add in the rice and thyme, and toast for just a minute before adding in your first cup of broth. Stir until the liquid is absorbed before adding another half cup of broth. Keep adding the broth a half cup at a time, letting the rice absorb the liquid between additions. It should go quickly at first, and more slowly as you go on. Make sure to keep the heat medium so you aren't boiling away the liquid.

Once the broth has been incorporated, add in a half cup of the cider and let that soak in. Taste and if the rice is not yet where you like it (too al dente) add the rest of the cider and stir until it's absorbed. Season with salt and pepper (we didn't really need it since the sausage is salty). Serve and enjoy this little taste of fall! 

Monday, November 3, 2014

Jägerspätzle (German Noodles with Mushroom Sauce)

The Hubs and I recently took a trip to Germany. To celebrate his upcoming 40th birthday, he really wanted to go to Oktoberfest (the real one), so we headed off to Munich! Now, I expected this leg of our trip to be more focused on the beer (or bier!) than on the food. And there was plenty, PLENTY, of beer. But I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the food, particularly one night when we ate at a biergarten called Augustiner-Keller. If you are ever in Munich, I highly recommend it. Anyway, since we've been back I've thought about German food in a new way, and that's what led me to try this recipe for Jägerspätzle. Well, that and how delicious the photo looked on this Savory Nothings blog where I found the recipe. Even though we have a pretty solid spätzle recipe (here's the link), we decided to give this new one a try. It made a lot more spätzle, but it didn't have the flavor that our other recipe had, and it was a bit chewy for me. But the mushroom sauce was really good. As always, I could have reduced it a little more to get the sauce a little thicker, but the flavor was nice and warming. Perfect for the cooler weather we've been having, and it definitely reminded me of our trip to Germany.

Spätzle Ingredients
2½ cups flour
½ teaspoon salt
⅓ cup water
⅓ cup milk
3 eggs
Butter for finishing

Sauce Ingredients
5 tablespoons butter, divided
1 shallot, finely chopped
1½ pounds mushrooms, sliced
1 ounce white wine
2 cups broth (I used chicken, but you can use beef or vegetable)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
½ cup cream

We started with the spätzle dough so that it could rest a bit while we started the sauce. Whisk together the water, milk and eggs first, then put the flour, then salt on top of the wet ingredients and use a spoon to gently mix the dry ingredients together a bit before mixing everything together. I personally added a little white pepper and a little nutmeg to the dough, and I felt they could use probably a half teaspoon more of salt. Use a wooden spoon to rapidly stir the dough until there are no more lumps and bubbles start to form. You'll also feel like your arm's about to fall off. Cover and let it rest for about 30 minutes. 

Next you can start on your sauce. Melt three tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over medium high heat, then add the shallot and cook until it begins to brown. Then add in the mushrooms. Cook for about 7-9 minutes until the mushrooms begin to soften and get a little color, then deglaze with the white wine and reduce. Next pour in the broth and tomato paste and let it simmer until it becomes a thick sauce. I could have been a little more patient with this part, I believe. Finally, add in the last two tablespoons of butter and let them melt, then pour in the cream. Let the sauce warm back up, and it's ready to go.  
To make the spätzle, get a large pot of salted water on to boil. We have a $7 spätzle maker that works awesomely and is so worth the money, but if you don't, just use a coarse grater. Gently use a spoon to help the dough fall through the grater into the water. It will fairly quickly float to the surface and it's done. Use a slotted spoon or a small mesh scoop to get them out. Melt a little butter in a skillet and lightly fry the spätzle for a few minutes until it gets a little bit of color, and then move to the plate. Top with the mushroom sauce, and enjoy a little taste of Germany. 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Iron Chef Carrot Recap

Iron Chef Carrot was more than a competition this time. We also used it as an excuse to throw a small baby shower for Cara and her future little Carit! But it turns out that carrot is actually a pretty fun (and tasty) ingredient. It's so versatile that we had a ton of variety in the types of dishes and flavors, which made the night exciting. We also had a lot of fun decorating diapers for Cara with fun sayings on them to make her laugh when she's up changing diapers in the middle of the night. Oh, I guess I shouldn't mention changing diapers in a food blog... sorry about that. Ok, let's get to the best part--the food! 

First up were our appetizers, starting with Chelyen's Carrot Tots and Curry dip. I never thought anything could make a better tot than a tater, but carrots definitely came close in this dish. And the curry yogurt dip was a great pairing to the flavors of the tot. This would be a great way to serve kids something that they would enjoy eating, but also sneak in something a little healthy as well. Heck, forget the kids-- someone make it for me! 

Next we enjoyed the night's winner (and I swear, it wasn't rigged!). Cara made a Moroccan Carrot Hummus with pita chips. She topped it with feta cheese and olives which not only made it look really professional, but also added great flavor to the hummus. I love me some feta cheese. It was a big hit and everyone kept going back for more. Congrats on another win, Cara! 

For the main course, Jen seared up some great looking scallops and served them over a carrot puree with an herbed oil drizzled on top. It looked like something you could order in a restaurant, and tasted great as well. Plus, you know I'm a sucker for scallops. They are really hard to cook well and Jen nailed it. This one was a really well-composed dish!

I had the other main and since I've been dying for an excuse to buy a spiralizer, I decided to make carrot noodles. I improvised using a sesame-peanut dressing for the noodles, combined with my own recipe for peanut butter chicken. I definitely enjoyed it, but I noticed my jaw was tired after eating a few bites. The raw carrots really stood out, and maybe not in the best way. It's not something I would make again, but I was happy with the result.

Emily served her side, a Spicy Thai Carrot and Kale Salad, with a sprinkling of black sesame seeds which were a cool visual addition. The peanutty dressing was my favorite part of her salad, and I definitely think it should go in the dressing recipe box. I think the group just wasn't a big fan of raw kale. But kudos to Emily for going healthy! We've also teased her about doing a whole Iron Chef competition with kale, so I think she was preempting us on that one.

I've made carrot fries at home before and while they aren't always as good as the real thing, they are a great, healthy alternative. But Laura's Carrot Fries with Cilantro Dip were better than any of the recipes I've tried. They have a sweet but also a bit sharp, tangy flavor, and I love the way the dip worked to cool down the tang. She also oven baked them which makes them even healthier than typical fried fries.

And finally, the desserts! Of course, you know we had to do a carrot cake! No carrot competition would be complete without one. But I like how Doan elevated the traditional dish with her Rum Carrot Cake recipe. You only got a hint of the rum but it was just the right amount. It was perfectly moist and delicious with wonderfully creamy frosting.

And lastly, our runner-up for the night, Kim's Chocolate Carrot Cake. It's a really nice twist on the classic, and yet still had that carrot cake flavor, even through the delicious chocolate. Plus it looked really beautiful (I have a soft spot for layer cakes). It made for the perfect finish for the night, and it's no wonder she got our second place prize.

Next time I promise to be more timely in my recap (but don't hold me to it). Up next is Iron Chef Potato, which should be a fantastically starchy evening. Until then!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Cider-Beer Braised Chicken Tacos

I bet you thought I couldn't possibly find another taco recipe to post on this blog. Well, you were wrong! There are MILLIONS! I can go on for years! Tacos forever!!

Ok, sorry about that. I just love tacos, you guys. This recipe looked sufficiently different from the other recipes I've posted, and it is. And it looked sufficiently delicious, and it is. So here we go. It's a pretty simple recipe that I found on a blog called Half-Baked Harvest. But don't let the simplicity fool you. These pack a ton of flavor (and a good amount of heat). I also made a little psuedo-salsa to top it with, mixing some apple into some pretty normal ingredients, which brought some really nice crunch and flavor to the taco. I recommend you try it!

2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
2 chipotle chilies in adobo, minced
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
salt and pepper
1 cup beer 
1/2 cup apple cider
3/4 cup enchilada sauce 
1 jalapeno or serrano, diced
1/2 cup diced red onion
1 lime, juiced
1/2 cup diced apple
Handful of cilantro, chopped

In a small dish, mix together the spices: chili powder, smoked paprika, cumin, brown sugar, cayenne and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cut your chicken into big chunks and put them in another small bowl. Pour the olive oil over and then add the garlic and chipotle chiles. Stir a little to spread the chiles and garlic around and then pour in your spice mix and mix well until the chicken is evenly covered.

Now, heat your dutch oven on high until hot, then sear the chicken about 2-4 minutes a side. It will cook more later so don't over cook it now. Also, be careful of breathing in the spices while they cook. It will definitely make you cough! Once the chicken is seared, turn down the heat and pour in the beer and apple cider, scraping the bottom of the dutch oven to deglaze it. Simmer on low for 25-30 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through.

While the chicken is simmering, you can make the salsa. Just mix together the jalapeno, onion, apple and cilantro with the lime juice, and stir. Leave it in the fridge while you finish the chicken.

Once the chicken is done, shred it with two forks. Turn up the heat on the sauce in the pot and reduce it down to about 3/4 of a cup and then add the chicken back to the pot along with the enchilada sauce. Let that warm up for a few minutes and once it's hot, it's ready to serve! We used sour cream and a little cheese on our tortillas, as well as the chicken and apple salsa and the mixture was really tasty. I know the apple seems a little weird, but go ahead, be daring and give it a chance! You will be happy to find yet another taco to love. 

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.