Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Administrative Rights

Kasey, could you change my settings to administrative, so I can add labels to the recipes to make them categorized?  Obviously, since you've seen my house and the toothpaste-encrusted sink I allow there, you recognize that I am not obsessively compulsive about organizing everything.  However, I would really like to organize the recipes on this blog.  That's where I'm going to direct my neatness energy.  And it's probably the place in my life that needs it least.

Brownie Bites

Ladies, apparently this is dessert day Chez Wells, but if that's the way it is, that's just the way it is.

These Brownie Bites are the perfect recipe to have on hand because the ingredients are all refrigerator and pantry staples, and they are infinitely variable.  I adapted Nedra Bunker's delicious brownie recipe to have a little more butter and cocoa and a little less flour to make them work better in a mini muffin tin.

Brownie Bites
1 stick unsalted butter  (I've also used 1/4 cup butter and 1/4 cup canola, and it's nearly as delicious)
4 tbsp. cocoa powder (I heap the tablespoons a little to make it extra chocolatey)
1-1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs (but I've used 2 in a pinch--still okay)
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup flour (a scant cup, not a heaping cup)

Melt butter and cocoa together in a small glass bowl.  Mix sugar, eggs and vanilla together in a larger bowl, and add cocoa mixture.  Add salt and mix well.  Add flour and again mix well.
Put mini muffin liners in the mini muffin pan.  Pour batter into a quart-size ziploc freezer bag, emptying out the excess air, and sealing it securely.  Cut off 1/2 inch of the corner of the bag and squeeze the batter into the muffin liners, filling 3/4 full.  (It helps to bunch up the freezer bag just under the zip part, to take the pressure off the zipper.  Otherwise, sometimes the bag pops open and you have brownie batter all over your hands.  Delicious, but messy.)  Bake at 350 for 18 minutes.  Remove immediately from tin and place on wire cooling rack.

Candy Bites:  Put cut up candy bars in the muffin liners first, pouring the batter on top.  Rolos work amazing well.
BYU in miniature:  Top with the mint frosting from BYU's mint brownies.  (I put the frosting in another ziploc bag, cut off the corner, and make a cute little swirl.)
Peanut Butter:  Melt 1/3 cup peanut butter in the microwave.  Dollop 2 tsp on top of each brownie bite before baking, and swirl with a toothpick.  Bake as usual.

These are always a hit, and very very easy.

Lemon Curd

This is, again, from Everyday Food, and it's my new favorite dessert base.

Lemon Curd
1 cup sugar
1 tbsp. lemon zest (I just zest up a whole lemon)
8 large egg yolks
1/2 tsp. salt
1 stick unsalted butter (I use 1/2 stick, and it's still delicious), cut into 1/2 inch pieces

In a medium saucepan, whisk together sugar, zest, and egg yolks.  Whisk in lemon juice and salt.  Add butter and place over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, until butter has melted and mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.  Small bubbles will form around the edge, but do not let it boil.
Remove pan from heat, still whisking.  Pour curd through a sieve into a glass bowl.  Put plastic wrap right down on the surface and refrigerate until cool.

I have served this two ways:
1) as part of a trifle, with angel food cake and whipped cream.
2) with frozen berries mixed in

It would awesome so many ways.  Mmmmmmmm

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Butternut Squash Apple Soup

This recipe is from Simply Recipe's and it is simply delicious (how's that for clever?). I did add more celery and carrots than it called for as well as some olive oil to the butter. I served it with Parmesan croutons (and bread sticks) and it is Fall in a bowl.
Simply Recipes
Butternut Squash Apple Soup

* 1 yellow onion, chopped
* 1 rib of celery, chopped
* I carrot, chopped
* 1 Tbsp butter
* 1 butternut squash, peeled, seeds removed, chopped
* 1 tart green apple, peeled, cored, chopped (squash and apple should be at a 3 to 1 ratio)
* 3 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth if vegetarian)*
* Pinches of nutmeg, cinnamon, salt and pepper

*If cooking gluten-free, use gluten-free broth.

Combine butter, onion, celery, and carrot in large saucepan. Cook for 5 minutes. Add squash, apple, and broth. Bring to boil. Simmer for 10 minutes or until squash is soft. Puree. Add spices to taste.

Serves 4-6.

Simply Recipes http://simplyrecipes.com

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Best-Ever Chicken Salad

Now, here's the thing. I'm not so much in love with chicken salad that tastes like chicken with mayonnaise. I don't really like mayonnaise by itself. So, my two favorite chicken salads are 1) Aunt Steph's Lemony Chicken Salad with the whipped cream and the almonds (So springy and fantastic), and 2) Sara's Famous Chicken Salad (written below). They both have mayonnaise, but they don't taste like mayonnaise, so they're just creamy and perfect. Mmmmmm.

Sara's Famous Chicken Salad
2 large chicken breasts, cooked and diced
3/4 cup toasted pecans, finely chopped
2 cup grapes, halved
3 stalks celery, diced

1 cup mayonnaise (I used Hellman's with Olive Oil--does it make a difference?)
4 tsp. apple cider vinegar
5 tsp. honey
2 tsp. poppy seeds

Mix salad ingredients. Mix dressing ingredients separately, and combine right before serving. (Although, it stays delicious for 3-4 days in the refrigerator.)

I served it on ciabatta rolls, but it's amazing on croissants (just a little more naughty), and it also perfect on regular old wheat toast. (Or eaten straight from a bowl, right, Kasey?)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

It might just have changed my life.

Ladies, do you get Everyday Food? I'm telling you, I find the best recipes in that magazine, and I love, love, love it. Very practical.
Anyway, they have a new column, called Sunday Strategy, about prepping some food ahead and strategically planning meals to use some of the same ingredients. AWESOME! This has been my best week ever for dinners. I've included each of the recipes in a separate post, and I hope it makes sense. The best part (or one of the best parts) is that the shopping list was included, so I just took my magazine to the grocery store. Yay!! You really need to try this.

*It says each of these recipes serves 4. I would say that my family is about a 3-1/2 serving family, and we have had no leftovers. If you have big eaters, I would adjust the recipes accordingly.
*I have tried everything but the marinated chicken, since I made these recipes out of order (I didn't actually marinate the chicken ahead of time like I should have). It has all been delicious.
*I would honestly just make these recipes every week for the rest of our lives, since the shopping and prep are so streamlined, but I think it needs a few more vegetables to make the meals really balanced. (Although each of the recipes does include a vegetable or two.)

Shopping List:
14 plum tomatoes
3 lemons
2-3/4 pound small red new potatoes
1 bunch fresh parsley (honestly, I just used dried)
1 bunch fresh mint (I did use fresh mint)
1 bunch fresh basil (is there anything more delicious than fresh basil?)
1 bunch fresh rosemary (again, dried)
1 small head Boston lettuce
2 bunches spinach (I just got one bag of prewashed baby spinach--it's the best)
1 large onion
1 cucumber, seedless if possible
1 head garlic

1 pint ricotta
2 oz. parmesan
1 container Greek or plain yogurt

1-1/2 pounds chicken tenderloins (I just used boneless skinless)
4 striped bass or salmon fillets (frozen, from Wal-Mart. Cheap!)
1 pound bacon

2 pounds pizza dough (from the deli downtown--SO GOOD!)
1 package pita bread
1 loaf crusty bread

extra virgin olive oil (evoo)
white-wine vinegar

Seriously, ladies. You have to try this menu.

Sunday Strategy

Things to do on Sunday (But I really did them on Saturday):
1. Marinate chicken. Toss 1-1/2 pounds chicken tenderloins with 2 minced garlic cloves, 1 tsp. ground cumin, 2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice, and 2 tbsp. evoo. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate.
2. Boil the potatoes. Boil the new potatoes in salted water until tender.
3. Roast the tomatoes. Preheat oven to 350. Halve 14 plum tomatoes. On a large cookie sheet, arrange tomatoes, cut side up, and sprinkle with 1/2 tsp. sugar. Bake until softened and edged are crinkled, about 1 hour. Let cool. Cover and refrigerate.
4. Make the green sauce. Set aside 1/4 cup fresh mint and 3/4 cup fresh basil from your bunches. Chop remaining leaves, add parsley, 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice, and 2 tbsp. evoo. Season with salt and pepper. Blend in a blender or food processor until the desired consistency.
5. Wash the greens. Trim, wash, and dry 1 small head Boston lettuce. Trim, wash, and dry 2 bunches of spinach; roughly chop. Wrap separately in paper towels and place in ziploc bags.
6. Freeze pizza crusts. Stretch and roll out two 1-pound balls of pizza dough to 14-inch ovals. Place on baking sheets and freeze until firm. Wrap in plastic and freeze for dinner on Friday.

Marinated Chicken with Cucumber-Mint Salad

(Sunday Strategy, continued)

Menu for Monday:

Marinated Chicken with Cucumber-Mint Salad

4 pieces pita bread
1 cucumber, halved and thinly sliced
1/4 cup Greek or regular yogurt
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp. evoo
1 onion, thinly sliced
Marinated Chicken, cute into small pieces
1/4 cup mint leaves

Preheat oven to 350. Wrap pitas in foil. Combine cucumber, yogurt, and lemon juice; season with salt and pepper.
In a large skillet, heat 1 tbsp. oil over medium-high. Add onion, season with salt and pepper, and cook until soft. In batches, add chicken and cook until browned, 2-4 minutes per side (adding another tbsp. of oil, if necessary.)
Meanwhile, bake pitas until warm (about 5 minutes). Stir mint into cucumber salad. Serve chicken with pitas and salad.

Seared Fish with Crispy Potatoes and Green Sauce

(Sunday Strategy, continued)

Menu for Tuesday:

Seared Fish with Crispy Potatoes and Green Sauce

3 tbsp. evoo
16 Boiled Potatoes
4 salmon or bass fillets, skin-on
Green Sauce
12 Roasted Tomato Halves, room temperature (I actually heated these in a frying pan)

Preheat oven to 475. Lightly oil and cookie sheet and smash each potato with the base of your palm and place on the sheet. Drizzle with 2 tbsp. oil; season with salt and pepper. Roast until crisp, about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 tbsp. oil over medium-high. Add fish, skin side down, and cook until browned and crisp, 6-8 minutes. Reduce heat to medium; flip fish and cook until opaque throughout, 2-4 minutes. Serve fish with Green Sauce, potatoes, and tomatoes.

Pasta with Roasted Tomato Sauce

(Sunday Strategy, continued)

Menu for Wednesday:

Pasta with Roasted Tomato Sauce

10 Roasted Tomato Halves, chopped
1/4 cup evoo
1 lemon
12 oz. pasta
1 handful fresh basil
1 clove garlic, minced

Boil pasta in salted water. Meanwhile, in a skillet, heat oil, add tomatoes and garlic. (I also added some oregano and rosemary because I love them.) Stir together until pasta is done, then toss the pasta with the tomatoes. Juice the lemon and chop the basil and pour both over the pasta. Serve with crusty bread. YUM!

Spinach and Bacon Frittata

(Sunday Strategy, continued)

Menu for Thursday

Spinach and Bacon Frittata

6 eggs
1 cup ricotta
1/4 cup grated parmesan
5 strips bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
5 Boiled Potatoes, quartered
Prepped Spinach
2 tbsp. evoo
2 tsp. white wine vinegar
Prepped Boston Lettuce

Preheat oven to 350. Whisk together eggs, ricotta, parmesan, 1 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper. Set aside. In an ovenproof nonstick skilled, cook bacon until crisp. Drain all but 1 tsp. fat. Add potatoes, and cook until warmed through. Add spinach and cook until barely wilted (about 30 seconds). Add egg mixture and stirl over medium heat for about a minute until thickened. Transfer skilled to oven and bake until center is set, about 18 minutes.
Meanwhile, whisk together oil and vinegar with a little salt and pepper and toss with lettuce. Serve frittata with salad on the side.

Pizza Two Ways

(Sunday Strategy, continued)
Menu for Friday
Pizza Two Ways:
3 tbsp. evoo
Frozen Pizza Crusts
6 Roasted Tomato Halves, chopped
3/4 cup ricotta
1/2 cup shredded parmesan
7 small red potatoes, thinly sliced
2 tbsp. rosemary
1/4-1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 475. Place crusts on two lightly oiled baking sheets and brush each with olive oil. Top one crust with tomatoes, collop with ricotta, then sprinkle with Parmesan; season with salt and pepper. Top second crust with an even layer of potatoes, sprinkle with rosemary, then drizzle with 1 tbsp. oil; season with salt and pepper. Bake pizzas for about 15-20 minutes, until done. Sprinkle tomato pizza with basil.

(I actually made one pizza, half tomato, half potato. Delicious!)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Um yum. Buffalo Chicken Calzone...

For calzone:
Cooking spray
2 reserved chicken breast halves, diced, about 2 cups
1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
2/3 cup reserved tomato sauce
1 teaspoon liquid smoke (i did some research and it is likely liquid smoke is carcinogenic...so I just went ahead and omitted that...)
1 teaspoon hot sauce (depending on how hot your hot sauce is I would use more...keep tasting and see how hot you want it)
1 pound fresh or frozen pizza or bread dough, thawed according to package directions
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
For dip:
1 cup sour cream
1/3 cup blue cheese, crumbled
2 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine chicken, cheese, tomato sauce, liquid smoke, and hot sauce. Mix well and set aside.

Roll dough out, using a rolling pin, to a 12-inch circle. Spread chicken mixture over half of circle, to within 1-inch of the edge. Fold over untopped side so that it meets the other side, forming a half moon. Pinch the edges together to seal.

Transfer calzone to prepared baking sheet and brush the top with olive oil. Sprinkle the top with Parmesan. Using a sharp knife, make a few slits in the top to allow steam to escape during cooking. Bake 15 minutes, until puffed up and golden brown. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

For dip:
While the calzone is baking, in a small bowl, combine sour cream, blue cheese and chives.

Serve calzone sliced with sour cream dip on the side.

I'm eating it right now. Delicious.