2.29.2012

Chicken with Coriander and Almonds

This is from "The Food of India " and it was a hit in the house and so easy to make! We cut down the oil because it was too greasy and I am not a fan of greasy sauce. I always make a double batch of the sauce and serve it with ample amounts of Naan Bread.


From the book: Almonds are plentiful in northern India and are often combined with cream in savoury dishes and desserts. This dish is often served on special occasions with punjabi breads such as chapatis or naan. Aloo gobi or Indian-style cabbage are ideal accompaniments.


Ingredients
1.5kg chicken or chicken pieces (3-4 lbs) ( make sure you get an assortment with the bones in)
50 g (1/4 cup) blanched almonds
2 onions, roughly chopped
4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
2 green chillies, roughly chopped
5 cm piece of ginger, roughly chopped (or 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger)
1 tablespoon oil or ghee 
2 Indian bay leaves (If you don't have Indian bay leaves, any will do)
1½ tablespoons ground coriander
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon chilli powder
1/4 teaspoon ground tumeric
1/4 teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 tablespoons finely chopped coriander leaves
170 ml single cream (or double cream for thicker sauce)
Water

Directions

1. Use Chicken pieces cut up as this is easier than cutting the whole chicken. 

2. Grind the almonds in a food processor or finely chop with a knife.

3. Blend the onion, garlic, chilli and ginger together in a food processor until finely chopped, but not pureed. If you don't have a food processor, finely chop them together with a knife.

4. Heat the oil or ghee in a karhai or casserole over medium heat, add the onion mixture and bay leaves and  stir until lightly browned. Add the chicken to the pan and fry, turning constantly for 10 minutes, or until golden on all sides.

5. Add the coriander, cumin, chilli powder, turmeric, paprika, salt and pepper to the pan and stir with the chicken for 3 minutes until well absorbed into the meat.

6. Add 1/2 cup water, stirring the chicken for another 5 minutes over medium heat. The water will have reduced to a rich, thick sauce.

7. Add another 2/3 cup water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Add three-quarters of coriander to the chicken and stir.

6. Blend the almonds with approx: 2/3 cup of the cream in a blender to form a smooth paste.
        * If you don't have a blender, just mix the cream with the ground nuts.

8. Add to the chicken, stir well and cook until heated through. Stir in the remaining cream before serving, to create a creamy, even sauce. Sprinkle with the remaining coriander (Cilantro).

Crab Rangoon's


Crab Rangoons are a favorite in this house, and for a while we were buying the frozen versions of them or getting them in restaurants only. With the season of Lent in full swing, Stacy began craving crab meat and other seafood, unfortunately this has also been paired with our efforts to loose weight. Therefore the original recipe and its frozen counterpart were out of the question. Fortunately we found a different recipe from the site, Hungry-Girl. However it could not be worthy of this blog if we didn't at least make some alterations.

Non-Fat Greek yogurt has changed our lives. All thanks to an earlier recipe where Davie switched it from sour cream.

As per the directions we used the Laughing Cow light cheese however any light spreadable cheese of the same amount.

Ingredients
1/4 cup Non-Fat Greek Yogurt (At room temperature)
2 (21g) wedges of Laughing Cow Light Swiss Cheese. (At room temperature)
4 oz of crab meat flaked or chopped
1 tsp of soy sauce lite
1/2 tsp of chopped garlic
1/8 tsp nutmeg
16 won ton wrappers

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees

1. Mix the Yogurt, Cheese, Crab Meat, Soy Sauce, Garlic, and Nutmeg in a bowl until all combined.
2. Take a baking sheet and line it with aluminum foil then spray it down with non-stick spray.
3. Place a won ton wrapper in a diamond shape and place 1/2 tablespoon of the Crab filling in the center. Wet two edges of the top corner then take the bottom corner and fold it to the top. Press the edges until you get a secure seal with no filling falling out and it is the shape of a triangle. Place in the pan.
4. Spray the top of the won tons with non stick spray.
5. Place in the oven for 6-7 min. Then flip them over and cook for another 6-7 min until golden brown.
6. Enjoy with your favorite sauce.


2.28.2012

Potato Masala


This is from "The Food of India." We made this the same night Stacy made the salmon curry.

From the book: This filling is traditionally rolled in dosas to make masala dosa, which is served for breakfast or as a snack in southern India. However, it also makes an excellent spicy potato side dish.

Ingredients
2 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
10 curry leaves
1/4 teaspoon ground tumeric
1 cm piece of ginger, grated
2 green chillies, finely chopped
2 oinions, chopped
500 g waxy potatoes, cut into 2 cm cubes
1 tablespoon tamarind puree*

Directions

Heat the oil in a heavy-based frying pann, add the mustard seeds, cover and when they start to pop add the curry leaves, turmeric, ginger, chili and onion and cook, uncovered, until the onion is soft.

Add the potato cubes and 250 ml water to the pan, bring to the boil, cover and cook until the potato is tender and almost breaking up. If there is any liquid left in the pan, simmer, uncovered, until it evaporates. If the potato isn't cooked and there is no liquid left, add a little more and continue to cook. Add the tamarind and season with salt, to taste.


*Tamarind Puree:

150 g tamarind block, broken into small pieces

Makes 300 ml

Put the tamarind in a bowl, pour in 250 ml very hot water and soak for 3 hours or until the tamarind is soft. (If you are in a hurry, simmer the tamarind in the water for 15 minutes. Although this is efficient, it doesn't give as good as result.) Mash the tamarind thoroughly with a fork.

Put the mixture through a sieve and extract as much of the pulp as possible by pushing it against the sieve with the back of a spoon. Put the tamarind in the sieve back in the bowl with another 100 ml hot water and mash again. Strain again. Discard the fibres left in the sieve. The puree can be frozen in 1 tablespoon portions and defrosted as needed.


Salmon Curry

I got this recipe from Kris' "The Food of India" book. We ate it with roti and potato masala-(link soon).
Salmon curry with potato masala and roti

From the book: There are several stages to the making of this Goan-style dish and it takes a little time to prepare the spices and the sauce. The end result is a dry type of curry with a fairly thick sauce that works well with the rich flesh of the salmon cutlets.

Kris' plate.

Ingredients

Spice mix
6 dried chillies
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
¼ teaspoon garam masala*
½ teaspoon ground turmeric

3 tablespoons oil
1 onion, finely sliced
1 ripe tomato, chopped
My plate.
2 onions, finely chopped
6 garlic cloves, chopped
6 green chillies, chopped
5 cm piece of ginger, grated
100 ml tamarind purée**
3 tablespoons coconut milk powder or coconut cream***
1 kg salmon cutlets

Serves 6.

Directions

Prepare the spice mix by grinding the chillies, cumin, coriander and mustard seeds to a fine powder using a spice grinder or pestile and mortar, then mixing with the garam masala and turmeric.

Heat the oil over low heat in a heavy-based frying pan large enough to hold the pieces of fish in a single layer. Add the sliced onion and fry until golden. Add the tomato, chopped onion, garlic, green chilli and ginger and fry, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes, or until the oil separates from the sauce.

Add the spice mix and the tamarind to the pan and bring to the boil. Add the coconut milk powder or coconut cream and stir until well mixed. Season with salt, to taste. Add the fish and bring slowly to the poil. The sauce is not very liquid but it needs to be made very hot in order to cook the fish. Simmer for 5 minutes, then turn the pieces of fish over and simmer for another 5 minutes, or until the fish is cooked through and the sauce is thick.
~

*Garam masala: Garam masala means "warming spice mix." It can be a mixture of whole or ground spices. Recipes are numerous but they are all aromatic, rather than "hot" mixes.

8 cardamom pods
2 Indian bay leaves (cassia leaves)
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
5 cm piece of cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon cloves

Makes 1 tablespoon.

Remove the seeds from the cardamom pods. Break the bay leaves into small pieces. Put them in a spice grinder or pestle and mortar with the remaining spices and grind into a fine powder. Store in a small airtight container until needed.

**Tamarind Puree:

150 g tamarind block, broken into small pieces

Makes 300 ml

Put the tamarind in a bowl, pour in 250 ml very hot water and soak for 3 hours or until the tamarind is soft. (If you are in a hurry, simmer the tamarind in the water for 15 minutes. Although this is efficient, it doesn't give as good as result.) Mash the tamarind thoroughly with a fork.

Put the mixture through a sieve and extract as much of the pulp as possible by pushing it against the sieve with the back of a spoon. Put the tamarind in the sieve back in the bowl with another 100 ml hot water and mash again. Strain again. Discard the fibres left in the sieve. The puree can be frozen in 1 tablespoon portions and defrosted as needed.

***Coconut milk and cream: Coconut milk is not the liquid which is found from inside the coconut, which is the juice of water, but is made by soaking the grated coconut flesh in water and then squeezing it. The first soaking and squeezing gives a thicker milk, sometimes called cream.

1 quantity grated coconut

Makes 125 ml coconut cream and 250 ml coconut milk

Mix the grated coconut with 125 ml hot water and leave to steep for 5 minutes. Pour the mixture through a sieve that is lined with muslin, then gather the muslin into a ball to squeeze out any extra liquid. This will make a thick coconut milk.

Repeat the process with another 250 ml water to make thinner coconut milk.


Spiced Apricot Bars

So in the spirit of dieting and eating healthier, Kris and I found this low-fat treat in her Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook. I can't link this recipe online because BH&G doesn't have it on their site. So yay for me posting this here!

Ingredients
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom or 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 slightly beaten egg
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup apricot nectar or orange juice
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 tablespoons cooking oil
1/2 cup finely snipped dried appricots
1 recipe Apricot Icing (featured below)

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, stir flour, baking powder, baking soda, and cardamom; set aside. In another bowl, stir egg, brown sugar, apricot nectar (or orange juice), applesauce, and oil until combined. Add egg mixture to flour mixture, stirring just until combined. Stir in apricots.
  2. Spread batter in an ungreased 11x7x1-1½-inch baking pan. Bake in 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 2 hours. Drizzle with Apricot Icing. Cut into bars.
Apricot Icing
In a small bowl, stir together ½ cup sifted powdered sugar and enough apricot nectar or orange juice (2 to 3 teaspoons) to make icing of drizzling consistency.

Nutrition facts per bar:
67 calories
1 g total fat (0 g sat. fat)
9 mg cholestrol
26 mg sodium
13 g carbohydrates
0 g fiber
1 g protein

6% vitamin A
1% calcium
3% iron
Exchanges: 1 Other Carbo.


Peanut Butter Cookies with Hershey's Kisses


What? Don't look at me like that. They look good, don't they? This was a collaborative effort by all three of us, as Davie wanted me to make them, and then contributed with how to execute them into the shapes, and Kris contributed her good wisdom to sugaring the cookies. It's a slight spin-off of this.

Please, stop giving me that look.

Ingredients
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup peanut butter (creamy)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
Cinnamon sugar (can be mix of ground cinnamon and sugar)

Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 
  2. Mix together first 5 ingredients; then add flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix until you form a sticky dough. 
  3. Roll into small balls and roll in cinnamon sugar. Place onto a greased cookie sheet.
  4. Use your finger to make a small indent in the top of the ball, so as to create a place for the Hershey's Kiss to rest later.
  5. Bake 8-10 minutes or until just golden brown. 
  6. Then place Hershey kiss (with wrapping removed) in center of each cookie, while they are still hot.
Makes approximately 48 cookies.



Crepes (Sweet, Savory)

Mad props and many thanks go to the Alton Brown for this crepes recipe. First off, I've used other crepes recipes out there on the internet, but in this one, he recommends mixing the batter using a blender. A BLENDER! Such a novel concept, but it's genius! He has a couple of variations--sweet, savory--that I tried making and WOW. They're both fabulous and will be emphasized here.



Sweet Crepes

Ingredients
2 large eggs
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1 cup flour
3 tablespoons melted butter
Butter, for coating the pan
2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons of your favorite liqueur (optional; I didn't do this the first time I made the sweet crepes)

~

Savory Crepes

Ingredients
2 large eggs
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1 cup flour
3 tablespoons melted butter
Butter, for coating the pan
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs, spinach or sun-dried tomatoes

Directions (for both crepe variations)
In a blender, combine all of the ingredients and pulse for 10 seconds. Place the crepe batter in the refrigerator for 1 hour. This allows the bubbles to subside so the crepes will be less likely to tear during cooking. The batter will keep for up to 48 hours.

Heat a small non-stick pan. Add butter to coat. Pour 1 ounce of batter into the center of the pan and swirl to spread evenly. Cook for 30 seconds and flip. Cook for another 10 seconds and remove to the cutting board. Lay them out flat so they can cool. Continue until all batter is gone. After they have cooled you can stack them and store in sealable plastic bags in the refrigerator for several days or in the freezer for up to two months. When using frozen crepes, thaw on a rack before gently peeling apart.


Skillet Gnocchi with Spinach and White Beans

If you're looking for a healthy, vegetarian dish, then this is perfect for you! I got the recipe from here, and the original calls for using chard, but does offer spinach as a substitute, which is what I do instead. Spinach is a more commonly found leafy green that's in our fridge, so I figured why not just stick with that.

Ingredients
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 16-ounce package shelf-stable gnocchi, (you can find this in the pasta section at the grocery store)
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup water
6 cups chopped spinach
1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes with Italian seasonings
1 15-ounce can white beans, rinsed
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup finely shredded parmesan cheese


Directions
  1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add gnocchi and cook, stirring often, until plumped and starting to brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.
  3. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon oil and onion to the pan and cook, stirring, over medium heat, for 2 minutes. 
  4. Stir in garlic and water. 
  5. Cover and cook until the onion is soft, 4 to 6 minutes.
  6. Add spinach and cook, stirring, until starting to wilt, 1 to 2 minutes.
  7. Stir in tomatoes, beans and pepper and bring to a simmer.
  8. Stir in the gnocchi and sprinkle with mozzarella and parmesan.
  9. Cover and cook until the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbling, about 3 minutes.
~

Nutrition
Per serving:
325 calories
7 g fat (2g sat, 3 g mono)
8 mg cholesterol
55 g carbohydrates
14 g protein
6 g fiber
616 mg sodium
360 mg potassium

Vitamin A (50% daily value)
Vitamin C (40% dv)
Calcium & Iron (19% dv)

Carbohydrate Servings: 3

Exchanges: 3 starch, 1 vegetable, 1 lean meat, 1 fat


2.27.2012

Sweet Potato and Sausage Soup

I pretty much used smitten kitchen's recipe directly. However, it looks like she took the recipe from Bon Appetit. I'm giving credit where it's due, but let me repost it for you anyways! ;)

Sweet Potato and Sausage Soup
Bon Appetit, October 2007

Gourmet note: This hearty soup gets rich flavor from linguica, a delicious pork sausage from Portugal seasoned with garlic, paprika, and other spices.

Makes 8 servings

Ingredients
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 10- to 11-ounce fully cooked smoked Portuguese linguica sausage or chorizo sausage, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices (Spanish chorizo can be substituted)
2 medium onions, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 pounds red-skinned sweet potatoes (yams; about 2 large), peeled, quartered lengthwise, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
1 pound white-skinned potatoes, peeled, halved lengthwise, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
6 cups low-salt chicken broth
1 9-ounce bag fresh spinach

Directions

  1. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat.
  2. Add sausage; cook until brown, stirring often, about 8 minutes. 
  3. Transfer sausage to paper towels to drain. 
  4. Add onions and garlic to pot and cook until translucent, stirring often, about 5 minutes. 
  5. Add all potatoes and cook until beginning to soften, stirring often, about 12 minutes. 
  6. Add broth; bring to boil, scraping up browned bits. 
  7. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until potatoes are soft, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. 
  8. Using potato masher, mash some of potatoes in pot. 
  9. Add browned sausage to soup. 
  10. Stir in spinach and simmer just until wilted, about 5 minutes. 
  11. Stir in remaining 1 tablespoon oil. 
  12. Season with salt and pepper. 
  13. Divide among bowls and serve.


2.07.2012

Amish Fried Chicken

This recipe came from some cookbook in my parents house and I can't tell you what it was. All I can tell you is that this is a hit! If you make this for dinner with mashed potatoes and green beans everyone will be happy!

Ingredients
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried marjoram
8 pieces of chicken
2/3 stick of butter
1/3 cup olive oil

Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Take the 2/3 stick of butter and 1/3 cup olive oil and place them in large oven proof bowl and place in the oven to melt.
  3. Combine the dry ingredients in a bag and set aside then take out the butter and oil mix.
  4. Spray the bottom of a baking dish with non-stick spray.
  5. Place two pieces of chicken and dip them in the mix then place them in the bag and coat evenly. Place them skin side down in the dish. Repeat until finished.
  6. Heat a large skillet pan on high and place a few pieces in it once hot. Sear each side for 5 min then return to the baking dish. Repeat with all.
  7. Place the chicken skin side down back in the baking dish and put in the oven for 45 min.
  8. Flip the chicken and bake for another 10 min.
Serve with mashed potatoes and veggies.

Apple Ginger-Snap Crisp

This is an original creation. I love gingersnap and apple crumble but finding a recipe to bring the two together proved impossible. Finally I decided to invent one and it turned out great!. There are so many different types of crumble out there that you really have to search and pick the one that is right for you.

Ingredients

Crumble Ingredients:
1/2 cup of flour
1/4 cup of white sugar
1/4 cup of brown sugar
1 cup of ground up gingersnap cookies
1/8 tsp ginger
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup of unsalted butter (salted is ok too)
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Apple Filling:
4 cups peeled and sliced apples*
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup of water

*Granny Smiths, Stayman's, or Pink Ladies are good choices. You want apples on the Tart side.

Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and grease or spray a 13x9 inch pan or two 8x8 pans. Make sure the oven rack is in the middle.
  2. Toss the apples together with vanilla and cinnamon then add them to the greased pan.
  3. Pour a little bit of water over the apples as evenly as possible. Make sure there is enough in the pan to help the apples cook down.
  4. Next mix flour, white sugar, brown sugar, gingersnap cookies, salt, cinnamon and ginger. Add the butter last.
  5. Knead the crumble with your hands until it is soft and falling into crumbs.
  6. Spread the crumble over the apples evenly
  7. Bake in the oven 30-40 min or until you see bubbling around the edges and the crumble is darker brown and crispy. Check the middle apples by using a toothpick and puncturing an apple slice. If it moves through easily then it is done. You should also see bubbling on the edge. Let stand for 10 to 15 min.
  8. If the crumble is not crisping up then turn on the broiler for high and adjust the oven rack to the highest setting. Place the apple crisp under it for up to 5 min checking it halfway through.



Sun-dried Tomato and Rosemary Risotto

Recently I learned how to make risotto and I have to say...I AM IN LOVE! Once you understand how to make it, you can make it any time. My mom gave me a Clive Tring Cookbook (purchase book here if you like), which is dedicated to over 40 types of Risotto! The below recipe is from that book.

At first, I had trouble understanding what "risotto" rice was. I looked in the supermarket and couldn't find any rice resembling the book. Finally, I do what every intermediate or novice cook does: call mom. The rice that you need is aborio rice. It is a small grain that is able to hold more liquid than your average rice. There are no substitutes for Aborio so don't even bother trying. If you don't have it, then best make something else that night!

Ingredients
12 sun-dried tomatoes
6 cups of chicken or vegetable stock
2 tbls olive oil
1 large onion finely chopped
4-6 garlic cloves minced
Generous 1 3/4 cup of Aborio rice (Risotto rice)
1 tbls fresh minced Rosemary


Directions
  1. Place the sun-dried tomatoes in a heatproof bowl and enough boiling water over to cover. Set aside for 30 min or until soft. Drain and pat dry then proceed to slice them up.
  2. Bring 6 cups of stock to a boil in a pan, then reduce to a simmer but be sure to keep the stock hot.
  3. Heat oil in a pan over medium heat then add the onion and cook until slightly soft. Add the garlic and cook for an additional 30 seconds.
  4. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the rice. Cook stirring constantly until grains look translucent on the outer edges.
  5. Bring the heat back up to medium and begin adding spoonfuls of the hot stock 2 at a time. Make sure the liquid bubbles slightly. Add more stock as the rice absorbs it. DO NOT rush the process, it won't work.
  6. After 15 min add in the sun-dried tomato and rosemary. Keep adding stock as you do this.
  7. Once all the stock is used you should see a soft and creamy rice dish looking up at you. If when you taste it, the rice feels crunchy let it cook a little bit more absorbing the moisture. 
  8. Enjoy!


Mango, Peach, and Pineapple Salsa

I came across this recipe in the Summer of 2011, as I had mangoes and peaches that I brought from home, and they were really ripe. This mango salsa is made in our house every few weeks. Originally from Allrecipes.com, it gradually became a totally different salsa over time that we enjoy even more. It goes great on eggs, toast, chips, chicken, and more! In fact, it helped inspire the creation of another recipe that will be linked soon.

Ingredients
The original recipe (note that this image contains original recipe of white
onions).

2 mangos, peeled, seeded and chopped*
2 small peaches, halved, pitted, and cut into 1/2-inch diced*
4 tomatoes, chopped
2-4 Green onions chopped**
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
1 cup diced fresh pineapple*
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon white sugar
3/4 cup water

The salsa with white onions, not green onions as suggested.
*If the fruit of choice isn't in season and its difficult to find ripe fruits, I would say that it's okay to go with canned fruit, but make sure to not buy such a large quantity. For example, do not use the entire 20 oz can of canned pineapple because the sourness of the pineapple will strike an unbalance with the rest of the ingredients. Use a small can of pineapple, and then an average cans (20 oz or close?) of peaches or mangoes.
** Original recipe called for 1 small white onion but we found that green onions (scallions) were far less pungent and overwhelming in taste.




Directions
  1. Cut up all fruits and veggies and put in a bowl.
  2. Add garlic, water, sugar, and salt and mix.
  3. Let stand in the fridge for at least 1 hour.



Paula's Volcano Cake

A Paula Deen Recipe

Funny note: Kris and I saw Paula make this on her show on the Food Network while working on our master's papers. It was decided that this cake would be the reward for graduating. Unfortunately the timing of me making this was poor, as I made it the same weekend leading up to when Paula Deen announced that she was a diabetic...[awkward turtle/facepalm combo].

Ingredients

Cream mixture:
8 ounces softened cream cheese
1 stick butter, room temperature
2 cups 4X or 10X sugar

Cake:
1 cup sweetened coconut flakes
1 cup pecans
1 (18.25-ounce) box German chocolate cake mix, prepare by following directions on box
10 bite-sized almond and chocolate covered candy or candy of choice

Glaze:
4 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Directions

For the cream mixture:
Beat ingredients together with an electric mixer. Set aside until ready to use.

Cake:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 13 by 9 by 2-inch cake pan.

Line bottom of greased pan with coconut flakes. Sprinkle pecans on top of coconut. Set aside.

Follow directions on back of box to prepare cake. Beat for approximately 2 minutes, using an electric mixer. Fold in bite-sized candy. Pour into cake pan. Evenly space dollops of cream mixture on top of the cake. When the cake cooks, the cream will sink down to the bottom. This will be your "volcano" of flavor. Place in oven for 40 to 45 minutes. While cake is still hot spread the glaze evenly over the cake.

For the glaze:
In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat. Whisk in cocoa powder and add milk until you get a thin consistency. If glaze is too thick, add more milk. While bringing the butter and milk mixture to a boil, whisk in confectioners' sugar and almond extract. Glaze should be thin. Remove from the heat and allow to cool before using.


Creamy, Light Macaroni and Cheese

A recipe from Cooking Light September 2011


Ingredients
3 cups cubed peeled butternut squash (about 1 [1-pound] squash)
1 1/4 cups fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 cups fat-free milk
2 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons fat-free Greek yogurt
1 1/4 cups (5 ounces) shredded Gruyère cheese
1 cup (4 ounces) grated pecorino Romano cheese
1/4 cup (1 ounce) finely grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided
1 pound uncooked cavatappi
Cooking spray
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley*

*Davie has never used the parsley, and it still tastes great! So we consider this ingredient to be optional.

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 375°.
2. Combine squash, broth, milk, and garlic in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer until squash is tender when pierced with a fork, about 25 minutes. Remove from heat.
3. Place the hot squash mixture in a blender. Add salt, pepper, and Greek yogurt. Remove the center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters). Blend until smooth. Place blended squash mixture in a bowl; stir in Gruyère, pecorino Romano, and 2 tablespoons Parmigiano-Reggiano. Stir until combined.
4. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain well. Add pasta to squash mixture, and stir until combined. Spread mixture evenly into a 13 x 9-inch glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray.
5. Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add panko, and cook for 2 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from heat; stir in remaining 2 tablespoons Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Sprinkle evenly over the hot pasta mixture. Lightly coat topping with cooking spray.
6. Bake at 375° for 25 minutes or until bubbly. Sprinkle with parsley, and serve immediately.







Chicken Tikka Masala- A Signature Dish!

Added Peas and Carrots 

The most recognized dish from Indian cuisine! Basics taken from yet another Allrecipes.com post but I have really made it my own based on my travels in India. It was my first foray into cooking dinner for others, and little did I know that you actually have to plan the food around the number of people you invited, I almost didn't have enough. By the end of the night though, everyone was licking their plates clean and I only managed to save a small dribble for my parents who were dying to try it. I have tried many different variations over the years but this one is still the best out of them all.

Ingredients
The chicken in the marinade

Marinade

  • 1 cup regular non-flavored yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 3 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger 
    • (1/8 tsp ground ginger if you don't have fresh.)
  • 3-4 cloves garlic minced 
    • (1 tsp garlic powder if you don't have fresh.)
  • 4 teaspoons salt or to taste
  • 3-5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
  • Short skewers soaked in water for at least 10 min. This is so you don't catch anything on fire.

Sauce
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
  • 4 teaspoons ground cumin   
  • 4 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne powder
    • (I like my food really, REALLY spicy if you do not opt out of the chili and cayenne.)
  • 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce (Contadina’s or Hunts is good to use)
  • 1 cup fat-free half and half 
    • (Original one called for heavy cream but I can tell you that the cream is for consistency and  there is no flavor difference!)

Directions


  1. In a large bowl, combine yogurt, lemon juice, 3 teaspoons cumin, cinnamon, cayenne, black pepper, ginger, and 4 teaspoons salt. Stir in chicken, cover, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, but to get the best flavor you need at least 3-6 hours of good marinating stirring at least once in the process.
  2.  Preheat a grill, grill pan, foreman grill, etc... for high heat. If you do not have any of these just use a pan.
  3. Lightly oil the grill grate. Thread chicken onto skewers, and discard marinade. Grill until juices run clear, about 5 minutes on each side.  
  4. Melt butter in another large heavy skillet over medium heat. Sauté garlic and jalapeno for 1 minute. Season with cumin, paprika, chili and cayenne. Stir in tomato sauce and cream. Simmer on low heat until sauce thickens, about 20 minutes. Add grilled chicken, and simmer for 10 minutes. Transfer to a serving platter, and garnish with fresh cilantro. Add salt and pepper if necessary.

Cooks Notes: One of the key things about this dish is the flavor; keep tasting the sauce and adding extra if necessary. Use salt sparingly as it can get too salty. Equally, important to remember is that with Cayenne, it gets spicier over time so be careful with this spice.


Vegetable Medley Soup


Veggie goodness!
Found from Allrecipies.com’s Potato, Broccoli, and Cheddar soup but with significantly less cheese in it. You can also add more veggies or to this soup if you want: Squash, Zucchini, Spinach, etc…


Ingredients
2 cups chopped onion
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 1/2 pounds peeled and cubed potatoes
5 cups of vegetable or chicken stock
1 cup fresh broccoli chopped and steamed
1 cup fresh carrots chopped and steamed
salt and pepper to taste
1 cups shredded Cheddar cheese (or ½ mozzarella and ½ cheddar)
1 1-2 tsp garlic powder
  -1-2 tsp salt
  -1-2 tsp pepper
  -1-2 tsp paprika

Directions
1. In a large stock pot sauté onion in oil. Add potatoes, and stock. Cover, bring to boil and then reduce heat to medium and cook until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.
2. Cook broccoli and carrots together in a steamer or steamer basket. Once cooked add to soup.
3. In a blender or food processor puree the soup in batches until all blended well. If you have an Immersion or stick blender that is better!
4. Season with salt, garlic, pepper, paprika to liking.
5. Add cheese and heat soup through until cheese is melted. Serve warm.

Thai Green Curry: From Khon Kaen Thailand



This Recipe is from my favorite Thai restaurant in Khon Kaen, Thailand. The woman there taught me how to cook it and it has become a signature dish of mine when introducing people to Thai cuisine!


Ingredients
1 can of green curry paste
1 can  of coconut milk
1-2 boneless skinless chicken breast cut in chunks
½ onion sliced in thin
3-4 cloves of garlic minced
¼ cup of water chestnuts
¼ cup bamboo shoots
¼ cup of  Thai eggplant quartered (cut in to chunks of 4) *can use other eggplant if necessary*
¼ baby corn in big chunks
2-3 small green chilies diced
1 tbls oyster sauce
1 tbls sugar (more if it needs to be sweeter)
*You can substitute ANY veggie into the curry*

Directions

  1.  Put one tablespoon of oil in the pan and heat until hot. Add garlic and onion and saute for one min then add the water chestnuts, baby corn, bamboo shoots and thai eggplant and stir fry for 5 min. Remove from heat to another bowl.
  2. Take the chicken and add it to the pan on medium heat. Cook up a bit then add only two spoons of the green curry to the chicken and oyster sauce and stir fry. Add coconut milk until just covering then stir fry for a few min.
  3. Cover the chicken and simmer (on low heat) for 10 min.
  4. Add the vegetables and the rest of the green curry paste with medium heat and mix together, add more coconut milk until you feel it is good. Let the whole mixture simmer for 10 min.
  5.   Serve hot over rice and enjoy!


Cook’s Notes: If it is necessary for less spicyness I would suggest either adding more coconut milk (a little at a time!) or a bit more sugar. Also if you find it to be on the salty side, sugar and 1 tsp lemon (or lime) juice can help cut it down.

"Cookie Day" Frosted Sugar Cookies

Recipe from: Betty Crocker Cookie Book & Wilton (but really, from Davie's grandma). Have a rolling pin on hand, or better yet, use a round bottle. Kris used a bottle of balsamic vinegar. ;)


Ingredients

3/4 cup margarine
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon
1 cup margarine
1 1/2 pounds confectioner's sugar
1/4 cup evaporated milk

Directions


Cookies: Beat 3/4 cup margarine and 1 cup sugar until smooth and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla and beat only until mixed. Add flour, baking powder, and salt mixing slowly until just combined. Roll out on floured board and cut with floured cookie cutter. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes or until just beginning to brown around the edges.

Frosting: Beat 1 cup margarine, confectioner's sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla and enough evaporated milk to make a good consistency. Beat 5-10 minutes for a very fluffy frosting. Add color as desired. Use pastry bag to decorate cookies.

~

Cookies-double batch:
  • 1 1/2 cup margarine
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 5 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
Icing double batch:
  • 2 cup margarine
  • 3 pounds powdered sugar
  • 5.3 ounces evaporated milk

Davie bought some cute Halloween-themed
cookie cutters. SO CUTE!

Buttermilk Bundt Cake

Recipe from Deb Wise at Cooking Light (December 2011):


Ingredients
Baking spray with flour (such as Baker's Joy) -we simply used Pam.
13 1/2 ounces all-purpose flour (about 3 cups)
Ahhhhh!
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
12 tablespoons butter, softened
3 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1 cup low-fat buttermilk
1/3 cup powdered sugar



Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350°.
2. Coat 18 mini Bundt cups with baking spray.
3. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a bowl, stirring well with a whisk.
4. Place granulated sugar and 12 tablespoons butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla and rind. Add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to butter mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture.
5. Spoon batter evenly into prepared pans. Bake at 350° for 18 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in centers comes out with moist crumbs clinging. Cool 5 minutes in pans on a wire rack; remove from pans.
6. Dust tops of cakes with powdered sugar.

~

VARIATION 1: Cranberry-Orange Bundt Cakes
Prepare Buttermilk Bundt Cakes batter, reducing vanilla to 1 teaspoon, omitting lemon rind, and ­decreasing buttermilk to 3/4 cup. Combine 1 cup sweetened, dried cranberries and 1/2 cup fresh orange juice in a microwave-safe dish. Microwave at HIGH for 1 minute; let stand 10 minutes. Fold cranberry mixture into batter. Omit 1/3 cup powdered sugar. Combine 2 cups powdered sugar, 1/4 cup fresh orange juice, 1 tablespoon melted butter, and 2 teaspoons grated orange rind, stirring until smooth. Dip tops of cooled cakes in glaze; let stand until set. CALORIES 331; FAT 9.4g (sat 5.6g); SODIUM 262mg

Dip & Swirl: For a glaze that completely covers the cakes, dip the tops into glaze and swirl them around a bit to make sure the glaze coats and sticks.

VARIATION 2: Hummingbird Bundt Cakes with Bourbon Glaze
Prepare Buttermilk Bundt Cakes, adding 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon to flour mixture. Decrease vanilla to 1 teaspoon, and omit lemon rind. Fold 1 cup chopped ripe banana, 1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans, and 1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple into batter. Combine 1/2 cup powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon bourbon, 1 tablespoon melted butter, and 1/4 teaspoon vanilla; stir until smooth. Drizzle over cakes. CALORIES 291; FAT 10.9g (sat 5.4g); SODIUM 269mg

Doubling Up: You'll only need a touch of the bourbon glaze, but for sugar hounds, you can double the glaze and garnish with more.





Louisiana Sweet Potato Pancakes


Recipe from AllRecipes.com: Louisiana Sweet Potato Pancakes at All Recipes.


Ingredients

3/4 pound sweet potatoes
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups milk
1/4 cup butter, melted



Directions

  1. Place sweet potatoes in a medium saucepan of boiling water, and cook until tender but firm, about 15 minutes. Drain, and immediately immerse in cold water to loosen skins. Drain, remove skins, chop, and mash.
  2. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg. Mix mashed sweet potatoes, eggs, milk and butter in a separate medium bowl. Blend sweet potato mixture into the flour mixture to form a batter.
  3. Preheat a lightly greased griddle over medium-high heat. Drop batter mixture onto the prepared griddle by heaping tablespoonfuls, and cook until golden brown, turning once with a spatula when the surface begins to bubble.




Tres Leche Cupcakes

Recipe from Connie Veneracion: Tres Leches Cupcakes at Casa Veneracion

Note: While the directions are written mostly in the voice of Connie, I've applied some of my notes in there as well.

Ingredients
6 large eggs, separated
1/4 tsp. of baking soda
1/4 tsp. of salt
1 c. of white sugar
1/2 c. (or one half of a 225 g. block) of butter, melted and cooled
1 c. of all-purpose flour
3/4 c. of evaporated milk
1/2 c. of cream
3/4 c. of sweetened condensed milk
whipped cream and ground cinnamon, for garnish

Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Line muffin pans with waxed paper cups (available in baking supply stores).
  3. Sift the flour.
  4. With an electric mixer, over medium speed, beat the egg whites, baking soda and salt until soft peaks form (see stages in beating egg whites).
  5. Lower the speed of the mixer and add the egg yolks and sugar. Continue mixing until smooth, about 30 seconds.
  6. Add the butter, folding it in using a spatula. Then, mix in the flour in three or four batches, mixing by hand (carefully, so as not to break the precious air bubbles that will add volume to the cupcakes) until the mixture is well blended.
  7. Pour the batter into the paper-lined muffin pans, filling them only a little halfway through.
  8. Bake the cupcakes in the oven for 25 minutes.
  9. Meanwhile, stir together the three milks in bowl.
  10. While the cupcakes are warm, poke holes in them all the way to the bottom. Several holes per cupcake using perhaps a bamboo skewer, about a dozen to a dozen and a half.
  11. Get your three milk mixture and brush it little by little on the tops of the cupcakes. Wait for the cupcakes to absorb the milk before brushing again. (Stacy: I used a spoon to scoop it and poured it on top and tried to evenly distribute it across all of the cupcakes.) Continue until it looks clear that the cupcakes can no longer absorb the liquid. Stop and let the cupcakes cool. Garnish with whipped cream and ground cinnamon on top of the cupcakes.
All ready to go! Mmm.

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