Friday, July 30, 2010

Spinach and Artichoke Dip with Roasted Red Peppers

Sometimes you just get cravings. This afternoon I had one and it came in the form of the spinach and artichoke dip from a local Greek restaurant. This dip has an added bit of deliciousness in the addition of roasted red peppers. YES! This is yummy and easy and comes together in minutes. Top some good French bread with a little of this dip, sit back and watch some Gilmore Girls on DVD . . . oh wait, that's just me? Okay, well then get out of my fantasy world. But make this dip before you go. And enjoy!

Spinach and Artichoke Dip with Roasted Red Peppers

1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, divided
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
1/2-1 teaspoon onion powder
Dash of white pepper
1 14-ounce can artichoke hearts, drained and coarsely chopped
1 cup spinach, loosely packed and coarsely chopped
1/4 cup roasted red peppers, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine mozzarella, 1/4 cup parmesan, sour cream, mayonnaise, dijon mustard, pepper, and onion powder in a large mixing bowl.

Coarsely chop the artichoke hearts and spinach and add to the cheese mixture.

The magic ingredient: roasted red peppers. Coarsely chop 1/4 cup and add to the dip.

Grease an 8x8 baking dish. Pour in the dip and top with remaining 1/4 cup parmesan.

Bake 25-30 minutes or until the top is browned and the edges are bubbling. Serve with chips, pita bread, crackers, or smear a good amount on some slices of good French bread. Enjoy!

*Some ideas to change this one up: Process artichoke hearts and spinach in a food processor for a finer chop. Add 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper or a few shakes of tabasco sauce for some heat.

Great Aunt Janice's Thai Salad

My mom and I went to Nebraska a few weeks ago for a family reunion. We surprised everyone by coming, as my immediate family doesn't travel much and often misses these family celebrations. Not anymore, let me tell you! We had so much fun at the reunion and I got to spend time with family members I'd never met before. I have some wonderful relatives and I finally know where my sense of humor and quick laughter comes from: my entire family! It was a blessing to get to see everyone and I'm already counting down the days for the next reunion. In two years.

Now, on to the recipe. This one is from my Great Aunt Janice. She brought this to the reunion and as soon as I had some, I knew I had to make it for Nick. It had all the spiciness and deliciousness that accompanies most Thai food and I love that it is a cold salad, meaning it makes a great side dish at a barbeque or picnic. Nick LOVED it, and it was a snap to put together-a big plus! Thanks Aunt Janice!!

Thai Salad
*From Great Aunt Janice

16-ounce package angel hair pasta
6 tablespoons honey
5 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1/4 cup cooking oil (I used canola)
3 green onions
1 bunch of cilantro, to taste
1 cup peanuts
2 tablespoons red pepper flakes (UPDATE: We ground the red pepper flake to make it finer and used about 1/2 tablespoon for mild to medium heat, which was perfect for us. Use more for more heat!)

Mix the honey, soy sauce, sesame oil, and canola oil in a bowl.

Boil the pasta in salted water to al dente or according to package directions. Drain the pasta and place in a large serving bowl. Pour the honey and soy sauce mixture over the top.

Finely chop the green onions.

Chop up the cilantro.

Add the chopped cilantro and green onions to the pasta. Mix well.

Chop up peanuts. This is optional, but I prefer pieces to whole peanuts. Mix the peanuts and red pepper flakes together in a small bowl.

Add the peanuts and red pepper flakes to the noodles right before serving and mix to incorporate well. (Update: We just add the peanuts and ground red pepper flake to the pasta right away. It doesn't affect the consistency either way, but it's more convenient to do it all at once.)


Sesame Cilantro Chicken

I think Nick and I have been a little spoiled in our chicken recipes lately. Each one has been turning out pretty good and we've learned that a fat component is really important when it comes to flavor. And texture, apparently. Today's meal came from a Taste of Home Cooking magazine featuring cooking light recipes. I'm always game to try a healthy recipe, although my Southern roots balk at a dish without gobs of butter. Just kidding. A little. This recipe had a delicious sauce, but the chicken was lacking in texture. As much as my thighs are screaming at me to just walk away and consider this one a so-so dish, I'm going to rework it soon by doing a quick fry on the chicken coated with breadcrumbs and sesame seeds. I'll finish it in the oven and then toss the chicken in the sauce. So much for cooking light. I'll post the new recipe once I get it all figured out. In the meantime, here's this one for those of you who are more health-conscious than me.

Sesame Cilantro Chicken
*From Taste of Home Cooking

4 chicken breasts
1/2 cup honey
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce (I used regular)
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted (I used 2 tablespoons)

First, toast your sesame seeds in a skillet over medium heat. They should turn a little brown and become fragrant. Place chicken in a baking dish coated with cooking spray. Combine the honey, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, and cilantro in a small bowl.

Spoon 1/4 cup of the mixture over the chicken. Set aside the remaining mixture.

Cover the chicken and bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake 10-15 minutes longer or until a meat thermometer reads 170 degrees. Spoon the reserved mixture over the chicken and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Serve hot.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Butter Chicken

This is one from the Tasty Kitchen section of the Pioneer Woman's cooking blog. It is an Americanized Indian recipe that is so GOOD! It's something different and has wonderful, but not overpowering, flavors and I love the addition of cilantro. It also reheated very well. This chicken recipe is one for our permanent recipe book. I'm so excited to eat the leftovers this afternoon!

Butter Chicken
*From Tasty Kitchen, courtesy of the Pioneer Woman

4 Chicken breasts, cut in bite-sized pieces
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon coriander
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
1 whole lime, juiced
1 whole onion, diced (I substituted 2 teaspoons onion powder)
1/4 butter
1 14.5-ounce can tomato sauce (I could only find 15 ounce cans)
1 14.5-ounce can petite diced tomatoes
1 pint whipping cream (2 cups)
Bunch chopped cilantro, to taste
Basmati rice (or regular white rice)

Combine the first nine ingredients and marinate overnight. (Or for two days, like I did . . . )

If you haven't already, chop up your chicken into bite-sized pieces.

Saute the onion, or onion powder, in butter until soft, for 3 minutes or so on medium heat. Add marinated chicken and cook about 10 minutes.

Add the tomato sauce and diced tomatoes.

Stir and cover. Cook for 30 minutes over medium-low heat.

Add the whipping cream.

Stir and add cilantro. Cook for an additional 5 minutes over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, which will thicken the sauce a little bit.

Serve over rice with some extra chopped cilantro and enjoy!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Apple Dumplings

This one came from Trisha Yearwood's cookbook Home Cooking with Trisha Yearwood and wow, it is amazing. And easy! It was delicious straight out of the oven with a little whipped cream. Then I took the leftovers to my parents' house and they re-heated the dumplings and added vanilla ice cream. My dad couldn't stop raving about these babies! He loved them and so do I. It was like eating your own personal apple pie and I will be making this again and again and again and . . .

Apple Dumplings
*From Home Cooking with Trisha Yearwood

2 Granny Smith apples
1 cup water
1 cup sugar, divided
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter (I used half a stick and it was still delicious)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
8 canned buttermilk biscuits (the dough, not precooked)
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Peel, core, and slice the apples into 8 slices each. Cover with water to keep slices from turning brown.

In a medium saucepan, mix the water, 3/4 cup sugar, butter, and vanilla. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat.

Separate each biscuit into two layers. Wrap a biscuit layer around a slice of apple, stretching the biscuit slightly to overlap and seal on the bottom. Place the wrapped slices, seal side down, in a greased 9x13 casserole dish.

Pour the hot sugar mixture over the apple slices. Don't panic when it looks like a hot mess. It will be good, trust me. Mix the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar and cinnamon together and sprinkle on top of the dumplings.

Bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream and enjoy!

Zucchini Fritters

Oh. My. Gosh. These are the most delicious little guys made with shredded zucchini and parmesan cheese. I combined a few recipes to make this work for us. The only change I will make for next time is to either lower the cooking temperature or cook each side for a shorter amount of time. I love the crispiness, but you lose a little bit of the flavor of the zucchini, which really shines through with the dill. I will write out the recipe to reflect that. This has joined the ranks of my top ten favorite recipes and will likely be there for a long time to come. Zucchini fritters. Who knew?

Zucchini Fritters

2 medium zucchini
3 green onions, minced through the white part
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 tablespoon dried dill
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 egg, lightly beaten
3/4 cup parmesan cheese
1/4 cup flour
Canola oil for frying
Kosher salt

Shred the zucchini and place in a bowl.

Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and let sit for 10 minutes.

Using paper towels, squeeze out the liquid in the zucchini. Mince green onions.

Add parsley, dill, and garlic powder to the onions.

Add the onion mixture to the zucchini and stir to combine.

Pour enough oil into a large skillet to lightly cover the bottom. Heat over medium heat. Drop spoonfuls of the zucchini mixture into the pan and flatten with a spatula. Fry about 2 1/2 minutes each side, or until golden brown.


Drain on paper towels and season with a pinch of kosher salt. Keep fritters warm while finishing up the batch. Enjoy!

3-Ingredient Fruit Gratin

This one caught my eye because it was so easy. And the creator gave it rave reviews. Overall, I liked the flavors, but I wanted something more. And it was horrible as leftovers. Not a good sign in our house. I like having this one on file for dessert in a pinch, but it won't be a regular on my recipe rotation.

3-Ingredient Fruit Gratin
*From Smitten Kitchen

2 cups berries (I used strawberries)
2 cups sour cream or créme fraîche
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract (or lemon juice, almond extract, etc.), optional

Preheat broiler. Fold berries into sour cream and add vanilla. Pour in shallow 1-quart casserole dish.

Sprinkle brown sugar on top.

Place under the broiler until sugar just begins to caramelize. Eat right away.