Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Mushroom Bruschetta

You really don’t have to do much to mushrooms to make them really mouthwatering. A little salt and pepper, sauté them in butter, toss in some garlic for good measure and viola—mega deliciousness for your mouth! It’s always wonderful when something good is also so simple. I found this Mushroom Bruschetta on Everyday Maven. It has a few more ingredients but is still relatively simple to make and definitely looks and tastes absolutely wonderful. My parents really enjoyed it, as did I, and I will definitely make it again. One caveat, which is true of all mushroom dishes, is that it needs to be served and eaten warm.

20 oz mixed mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
2 Tbsps finely chopped parsley
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Baguette, thinly sliced
Garlic salt (optional)
1 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon kosher salt
Pepper to taste.
1 Tbsps Butter
½ Tsp crushed red pepper flakes
2 Tbsps grated Parmesan cheese (plus more for serving)
Splash of lemon juice

Start by prepping all the ingredients: clean and slice your mushrooms, chop parsley, prep garlic and slice your bread. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees to toast your bread. Put the slices on a baking sheet and spray each with olive oil (I just sprayed with olive oil flavored Pam cause I’m that person). Sprinkle a little garlic salt over the slices if you are so inclined and then toast. It only takes a few minute per side. Just keep an eye on them so you don’t burn them.

In a pan over medium heat, heat up your olive oil and then add in the mushrooms. You want to cook them until they are nice and golden brown, which should take about ten minutes. Set them aside. Add the butter to the pan and once it’s melted add the garlic. Cook about 30 seconds, making sure you don’t burn the garlic. Drain any liquid from the mushrooms and add them back into the pan along with the salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and parmesan cheese. Cook, stirring, for just another minute and then remove from heat. Splash with a little lemon juice, if desired. Spoon the mushrooms onto the toast and the mushroom mega deliciousness!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Pistachio Pesto Chicken Pasta

If there's one thing I miss the most (besides bread) with going gluten free; it's pasta. Gluten-free pasta just isn't the same as good ol' grain filled pasta. But, one of my favorite discoveries is spaghetti squash. I already made this recipe, which was really delicious. But, I'm looooving this Pistachio Pesto with spaghetti squash. The pistachios gives the pesto such great flavor. And, I added whole pistachios to my chicken which helped give the dish additional texture. It is so flavorful and tastes great the next day. I found it from PaleoOMG's blog, which is a great blog that you should definitely check out. I'm definitely not missing pasta with this recipe. Enjoy!

1 medium spaghetti squash, halved, seeds and excess threads removed
½-2/3lbs chicken, sliced or cubed
1 cup pistachios, unsalted and shelled
1-1½ cup basil leaves
2 garlic cloves
½-1 cup olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
salt and pepper to taste
handful of sundried tomatoes, sliced, to garnish

First set your oven to about 400 degrees; take your halved, seeded squash and place on a cookie sheet. Place in the oven and let roast for about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool. Next, take out your food processor and combine the pistachios and pulse. Then, add your garlic and basil and pulse again till combined. Turn on the food processor, and slowly drizzle in the olive oil and then the lemon juice. I believe I used about a half cup of olive oil. Set the pesto aside. Take out a skillet and place on your stove with the heat at medium. Drizzle about 2 tablespoons of olive oil into the pan. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper and then place in the skillet. Cook until almost cooked thru, and then add the pesto to the skillet. Now, take a fork and shred the spaghetti squash. Place the squash in with the chicken and the pesto. Combine well. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Iron Chef Chili Peppers Recap

When we did Iron Chef Spicy a while back, the results were... less than spicy. To put it mildly, well, they were mild. However, Iron Chef Chili Peppers was definitely spicy. Like breathing fire spicy in some cases. But you know me, I love me some spicy, so this Iron Chef turned out pretty good in my opinion. And I hosted in my fancy new kitchen, so yay! Not a lot of the ladies could make it this time, but keeping it cozy was nice.

We started with Emily's Strawberry Habanero Cocktail served in a mason jar. She made it with strawberry habanero simple syrup, vodka, malibu rum and some La Croix, plus muddled strawberries! It was pretty awesome to watch people as they tasted it for the first time, because it was surprisingly spicy. Especially since the habanero was only infused in the simple syrup and not blended in the actual drink. But despite the spiciness, it was also really tasty and Emily was our runner up for the night!

Kristy brought Cucumbers with Lime and Chili Pepper, which were actually kind of cooling after such a spicy drink. They were refreshing, in a way, even though they were covered in chili pepper. It was a smart pairing, and even though I'm not a big cucumber fan, I enjoyed them!

Next we had Doan's appetizer, a Brie and Spicy Apple Chutney on toasted baguette. It also featured habaneros and was also extremely spicy. We all thought it kind of tasted like super spicy apple pie. And it was truly delicious, giving Doan her first ever win! A lot of us were surprised that it was her first win since she's made some really good dishes in the past. Congrats Doan! Well deserved.

We enjoyed Kim's main dish next, which I would call sort of a Jalapeno Popper Chicken. It was chicken with cheese and a whole jalapeno, all wrapped up in bacon. Even though Kim wasn't happy with the crispness of the bacon, I thought the whole thing worked really well together. How can you go wrong with cheese, bacon and jalapeno, right? It wasn't spicy at all, but that wasn't a requirement of the challenge. I would definitely make this again for a meal.

Chelyen served her side dish next, making Cheesy Grits with Ancho Chile Butter. I don't have grits very often, but these were really good! Again, not super spicy, but that was sort of a relief after the others. These packed a lot of flavor and I thought the addition of fresh thyme on top was a great layer to the dish. I could see making this with chipotles if you wanted to increase the spice level.

Finally we had my dessert, which I served amid flashbacks of Cara's infamous Chocolate Cayenne Ice Cream at Iron Chef Spicy. I made a White Chocolate Habanero Ice Cream that sounds scary but actually turned out pretty tasty. It was definitely spicy, but that was helped by the coolness of the ice cream. This was a pretty interesting dish, and although it's not something I would make for every day, it was tasty for an occasion like this.

There was a lot of good food in the mix for this competition, and as always, great company. Plus our spicy offerings didn't make our pregnant guest go into labor at the party, so that's always a good thing. This probably does it for the year for Iron Chef competitions but we will resume the competition next year!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Iron Chef Chili Peppers - Strawberry Habanero Cocktail

For Iron Chef; I try to make sure I do an even number of dishes. I decided to do a drink for Chili Peppers because this would be the fourth drink that I've done. I found a couple recipes that sounded interesting, but ultimately I came up with my own recipe. I love strawberries and wanted to make something with that ingredient. Also, I have habaneros growing in my garden, and knew that would help bring a kick to my drink. So, I came up with a strawberry habanero simple syrup. I had purchased vodka and malibu rum for a different recipe, so I just decided to incorporate it into this recipe. I think it turned out pretty darn good hence my second place finish. Enjoy!

1 shot Vodka
1 shot Malibu Coconut Rum
1/8th cup strawberry habanero simple syrup (recipe to follow)
3-5 strawberries
Splash of club soda or sparkling water

To make the simple syrup; take out a small sauce pan and add 1 cup water with 1 cup granulated sugar. Add 1/2 cup frozen strawberries. Cut the stem off of an habanero and toss it in the saucepan. Once the sugar dissolves; smash the strawberries with a potato masher. Throw out the habanero. Now, take out a glass and add in your shot of vodka, shot of rum, and the simple syrup. Add in the strawberries and muddle. Toss some ice into the glass and add a splash of club soda. Enjoy

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

The combination of peanut butter and chocolate really can’t be beat. I mean there are other delicious food combinations (hello, grilled cheese and tomato soup, cheese and wine, and bacon and…anything.) But nothing is quite as perfect together as peanut butter and chocolate. There are thousands of delicious recipes involving this dynamic duo and I decided to try one this weekend. I have always loved the peanut butter cookie with a chocolate kiss, but this recipe (found on Cup of Sugar, Pinch of Salt) takes that to another level by replacing the kiss with a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. The genius part is making the cookies in mini-muffin pans instead of on a sheet. That way, the cookies are tall enough to handle a mini Reese’s Cup. So smart, and tasty!

1 package Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups Miniatures (you’ll need about 40)
½ cup butter, softened
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup packed light brown sugar
½ cup creamy peanut butter
1 egg
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt

Start by putting your Reese’s Cups in the freezer. Trust me, they will be much easier to handle this way when you are pushing them into hot cookies later. Preheat the oven to 375 and spray your mini muffin cups with cooking spray. In a medium bowl mix together butter, sugar, brown sugar, peanut butter, egg and vanilla until it gets all light and fluffy (just a couple minutes). Then stir together flour, baking soda and salt in a separate bowl before adding it to the peanut butter mixture. Beat until it’s blended. The dough will seem a tad dry, but don’t worry. This helps you form the cookie balls. 

Roll them into 1-inch balls and place one in each of the mini muffin cups. I found that smaller balls were harder to push the cups into, so make sure they are at least an inch. Bake about 10 to 12 minutes (ten worked for me) until the balls have puffed up and are lightly browned. While they are baking, remove the wrappers from the Reese’s cups (trust me, don’t wait). You have to move fast, so when you pull the muffin tin out, immediately push Reese’s cups into each of the cookie tops. Don’t be afraid to push them firmly, and in fact, I had to go back through and give them each a second push. Let them cool for about five minutes in the tin before gently removing them from the pan and letting them cool. The Reese’s cup will get somewhat molten inside the cookie, so keep them upright and let them cool for a few hours. 

Contrary to most cookies, I would avoid eating them warm and wait until the cup has set up. There is something overwhelming about it when the chocolate is all melty. I think because the center of the cup stays together so it just becomes a kind of weird chunk. Anyway, I have a feeling you won’t heed my warning so you’ll find out for yourself!