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Friday, April 29, 2011

Penne with Tuna and Roasted Garlic and Red Pepper Sauce

FRIDAY!!!  YAY!!!  I MADE IT!!!  WOOHOO!!!  It was touch and go for awhile there, but I made it...whew!!

It's been a long week here...and next week looks to be even longer...BUT...I have managed to keep up with most things, including cooking and blogging...the two things I thought for sure would suffer.  Ok, let's be honest, my cooking has suffered, I mean who wants to start cooking dinner when you walk in the door at 8pm, right?  But, all in all, things haven't been TOO overwhelming............    yet :)

This pasta dish was fantastic.  Simple and delicious.  I do love pasta though... I could eat it every night, but Chris and my fear of a bigger butt keep me from actually do it.  I do make sure we have it at least once a week.  I can't help's the Italian in me!  To make this a very quick week night meal, you can forget the roasting and pick up some jarred roasted red peppers and saute the garlic for about 1 minute in olive oil...but that's only if you don't have the time to roast everything....fresh roasted veggies are always so much better!

Penne with Tuna and Roasted Garlic and Red Pepper Sauce
Printable Recipe 
10-12 oz whole grain penne pasta
1 can albacore tuna
2 red peppers
5 cloves garlic (skin on)
2 Tablespoons plain yogurt
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons jalapeno hot sauce (optional)
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh basil
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat grill (400-425 degrees) or oven (425-450 degrees).  Place the garlic cloves in a square of foil, drizzle with some olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Fold over the edges to enclose the garlic.  Place the foil packet and 1 red pepper on the grill.  Allow the garlic to roast on the top shelf for about 20-30 minutes or until it has softened.  Grill the pepper, turning occasionally, until charred and blackened.  If you are baking, roast the garlic for 40 minutes or until softened.  Turn the broiler on and char all sides of the pepper.  Place the pepper in a bowl covered with plastic wrap and allow to cool.  Once garlic and pepper are cool enough to handle.  Squeeze the garlic from it's skin into a food processor.  Peel back the blackened skin of the pepper, remove the stem and seeds, and place in the food processor.  Add the yogurt, olive oil, lemon juice, and hot sauce.  Pulse until smooth.

Meanwhile, remove the stem and seeds of the remaining red pepper and roughly chop.  Cook the pasta according to package directions; drain well.  Add the tuna and sauce to the pasta.  Toss to coat.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add the basil just before serving.  Enjoy!

One Year Ago:  Hudson's Baked (or Grilled) Fish with Dill Sauce

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Thai Style Honey Peanut Chicken

I LOVED this dish!  It was fantastic!  Truly the "peanut" flavored chicken I have been searching for!!  I know I may have said that before....but this really, really IS the peanut chicken I have been looking for!

This is another One Perfect Bite masterpiece, by the way (and I swear, I am not stalking Mary)!  I did not change the ingredients, but I did change the method of cooking.  I went with the more stir fry way of cooking.... and no, Andrea, I did not use the velveting technique on this one either... sorry :(  I'm just lazy, I can't help it sometimes!

Not only does this chicken taste fantastic, but it is a very simple dish to throw together.... and with a week like I've been having, simple and quick are life savers!  You can adjust the heat on this by cutting back on the curry and Sriracha, but I would have to agree with Mary when she says don't leave the Sriracha out all just adds something wonderful to the chicken!

(by the way, you'll see orange peppers in the pictures, but those were in my rice, not in with my chicken, so don't think I left out an ingredient.)

Thai Style Honey Peanut Chicken
Adapted from One Perfect Bite
Printable Recipe 
3 Tablespoons creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup soy sauce (I used low sodium)
1/4 cup honey
2 Tablespoons lime juice
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 teaspoon curry powder
2 teaspoons Sriracha
1 lbs. chicken, cut into bite size chunks
1/2 Tablespoon vegetable oil

In a small bowl or measuring cup, mix together all the ingredients, except the chicken and the oil, until smooth; set aside.

In a deep skillet or wok, heat the oil over medium high heat.  When the skillet is hot, add the chicken and stir fry for 5-6 minutes or until the chicken is just cooked through.  Add the sauce mixture and bring to a boil.  Allow to cook until the sauce has thickened.  Serve over rice and enjoy!!

One Year Ago:  Rigatoni with Spring Herbs and Tuna

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Chorizo and Shrimp Wraps

I am so proud of this dish.  Why am I so proud, you ask?  Because this is the first dish that Chris and I created together.  (aaawwwwwhhhh!!!)  I know I tell you all the time that when I ask Chris what he wants for dinner, I very rarely get suggestions.  BUT, I caught him early in the morning, before he had eaten anything at all and this was the meal that we came up with.  It was great to actually sit there and bounce some ideas off of each other and to have him actually participate instead of just "yea, that sounds good".  So thank you Chris :)

Simple and versatile, this dish can be made with all sorts of varieties of fillings.  You can add beans, you can add chicken, you can leave out the rice, you can use regular sour cream and make your own guacamole.  The idea is that your tortilla is a canvas and you can paint whatever you want on it.  Both Chris and I wanted something with chorizo again, so that is why we came up with this idea.  You could use ground beef with some taco seasonings too...that would be a very good substitute if you don't like chorizo.   Get the whole family involved in this's even easy enough for a week night meal.

Chorizo and Shrimp Wraps
Created by Jenn and Chris
Printable Recipe 
1 cup uncooked basmati rice
1 3/4 cup chicken broth or water
1 Tablespoon Crema Mexicana
2 teaspoons Sriracha
1 jalapeno, seeded and finely diced
2 yellow bell peppers, seeded and chopped
1 lbs ground chorizo
15 medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
Queso Fresco cheese
1/2 avocado, chopped
1 roma tomato, chopped
small or medium sized flour tortillas

In a medium saucepan, add the chicken broth and bring to a boil.  Add the rice and cover.  Simmer for 15 minutes, or until all the liquid has been absorbed, and remove from heat.  Let sit for 5 minutes and then fluff with fork.

In a small bowl mix together the Crema Mexicana and Sriracha; set aside.

In a large skillet, add the chorizo and cook over medium high heat for 6 minutes.  Drain any access grease.  Add the jalapeno and cook for 2 minutes.  Add the yellow pepper and cook for another 2 minutes.  Add the shrimp and cook until shrimp turn pink and are heated all the way through.

Warm the tortillas if you desire, then top with rice, then the chorizo/shrimp mixture.  Drizzle some sriracha crema over top, crumble some queso fresco, top with chopped tomatoes and avocado.......and Enjoy!


One Year Ago:  Murphy's Hot Hamburger

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Alabama Barbecue Chicken

In honor of my pal, Stephen's (The Obsessive Chef) birthday today, my post is dedicated to him :)  And boy will he be so proud...

I brined!

I have been so hesitant to try brining again, as the first time I did it, the pork I brined turned out to be more like a salt lick then an actually edible piece of meat.  Ok, ok...I believe the problem was because I did not rinse the meat, but still... I was not in a hurry to try it again.

I put all those fears aside yesterday and brined a whole chicken.  Do I think it made a difference?  I don't know.  Next time, if I think about it before hand, I should keep half the chicken out of the brine and than cook it the same as the chicken in the brine...that truly will be the only way to tell.  BUT, because I know three bloggers that swear by it...and I trust these three bloggers with all their food advices...I'm going to say that it at least did not hurt the chicken.  For those of you not familiar with this process, brining is similar to marinating.  Brining using a lot of salt.  The salt basically works its way into the meat and cells to help keep the meat from dehydrating.

I will say that the brining helped with this chicken, but I also think that the flavors of the spice mix and sauce mix help that out too.  And let's not forget my patience at the grill.  I took advice from Chris at Nibble Me This who talks about indirect cooking all of the time.  I finally put that method to use too.  I started off with all three burners on and then turned the fire off directly under the chicken after about 8 minutes.  I had to adjust that heat from time to time throughout the grilling process, but the key is to keep the temperature in the grill at 350-375.  Whatever the reason....whatever the process...this chicken was fantastic.  Spicy and moist and incredibly delicious.

I think Chris even claimed - "it was the best chicken I have ever made" :)  I'll take that compliment!!

Alabama Barbecue Chicken
Adapted from America's Test Kitchen Best-Ever Recipes
Printable Recipe 
For the sauce - 
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 Tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon prepared horseradish
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
For the chicken -
1 whole chicken (2-4 lbs), rinsed and giblets removed
1/2 gallon water
1/3 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoon black pepper, divided
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup hickory wood chips, soaked in water for 30 minutes, drained and sealed in a foil packet with slits cut out of the top
vegetable oil for the grill grates

For the sauce - mix all ingredients in a small bowl until well combined and smooth.  Refrigerate in an airtight container for at least 1 hour, or up to 2 days.  Reserve half of the sauce for dipping - the rest of the sauce will be used to brush over the chicken after it has cooked.

For the chicken - in a very large bag set inside a large pot, add the water, salt, sugar, garlic powder, and 1 teaspoon black pepper.  Stir until sugar is dissolved.  Place the whole chicken in the bag and seal.  Allow to brine for at least 2 hours.  Remove from the brine and rinse thoroughly.  Pat chicken dry.  Remove the back bone and cut the chicken into halves or quarters.  In a small bowl, mix together the remaining pepper and cayenne together.  Season the chicken and place on a platter in the fridge for at least 1 hour.

Place the wood chip packet directly on the primary burner.  Turn all burners to high, cover, and heat the grill until  hot and the wood chips begin smoking, about 15 minutes.  Turn all burners to medium-low. (Adjust the burners as needed to maintain temperature around 350 degrees F.)

Use a grill brush to scrape the grates clean.  Lightly dip a wad of paper towels in oil.  Holding the wad with tongs, wipe the cooking grates in the center of the grill.  Place the chicken skin side down in center of the grill, cover, and grill for 10 minutes.  Turn off the middle burner and grill another 10-15 minutes longer.  Turn the middle burner back on and flip the chicken over.  Grill for 10 minutes.  Turn the middle burner off again and grill another 10-15 minutes or until the chicken has reached an internal temperature of 160-165 degrees F.

Transfer the chicken to a cutting board or platter and brush with 2 tablespoons of the sauce.  Tent with foil and allow to sit for 10 minutes.  Remove the foil tent and brush with another 2 tablespoons of the sauce.  Serve and additional sauce and enjoy!


One Year Ago:  Italian Baked Pork Chops

Monday, April 25, 2011

Baked Hoisin Tilapia with Hot Mustard Sauce - And a couple of other things -

Last week I told you all that my boss was leaving...well, we are two weeks away from her last day and it's crunch time at work.  I have been asked to take on a large chunk of her job, along with what I am already doing.  Though I am nervous, as most of her job is a bit above my skill set, I really am excited about the opportunity to learn more.  Hopefully they will have someone in there to take her place soon and things will lighten up for me...but for now, I move's about all I can do.  This will be a challenging time for me and I hope it does not cut into my blogging, but, if it does, please just bear with me ... I promise, I won't leave you for long :)

Before I get to today's recipe, I want to share something with you that I feel really good about.  Most of you probably don't remember my post from last May where I told you a little something about me - I'm a fire spinner.  (You can click on this link to read the full story)  Back then I shared still pictures of me spinning and I swore that some day I would share actual video with you.  Well that day has FINALLY arrived.  Friday night, I brushed the dust off the old fire poi and "lit up".  What a fantastic time I had too!!  It felt GREAT!  I can't wait to do it again!!  But first, the video of my debut return to fire spinning.  And thankfully, not only did Chris bravely agree to video my return, but he also placed a kick ass song over the video to make it really cool.  When he shot the video, there was no music....all you could hear was the Whoosh Whoosh Whoosh of the fire circling around me...which really is cool.  But come on - he dropped Fire Woman by The Cult right over top of the video and it actually works really good.  So, anyway, enough of my rambling... I hope you enjoy:  (for best results, view at 720p)

Ok, ok... enough showing off ...let's get to the food :)

I've adored hot mustard sauce since I was a kid.  On special occasions, we used to go to this Chinese restaurant called Imperial Palace.  I remember the first time I tried the hot mustard sauce.  I remember the heat going straight to my nose!  What I also remember was that it did not last long and.... I LOVED IT!!  I couldn't get enough of it.  The hotter the sauce, the better.  Mom even bought some so that we could have it at home.  A few weeks back, when I was on Savory Spice website, I noticed that they had hot mustard powder.  I knew right away I needed to purchase some so that I could bring those great childhood memories back!  Not that I haven't had hot mustard sauce since I was a kid, it's just that since I found my beloved Sriracha, I really don't use any other spicy condiments.  And of course, what better dish to try it with first then ... yep.. you got it... Tilapia!!!

This dish is way simple and way spicy.  If you want to tame the mustard sauce, use warm/hot water when mixing the powder and allow to sit at room temperature.  If you are looking for a knock your socks off sort of spice, which is what I wanted, use cold water when mixing together and immediately put it in the fridge.  Seriously, at least with the hot mustard powder I have, the colder the water, the hotter the sauce.  And remember, a little goes a long way.  And if you really want to simplify this recipe even more.  To make the fish, just season it with salt and pepper and pan sear.  Honestly, the sauce is the star here...but that shouldn't surprise you at all coming from me!

Baked Hoisin Tilapia with Hot Mustard Sauce
Printable Recipe 
2 Tablespoons hoisin
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
1/2 - 1 teaspoon Sriracha
1-2 Tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
4 Tilapia fillets
2 Tablespoons mayonnaise
2 Tablespoons hot mustard powder
1 1/2 teaspoons rice vinegar
2 Tablespoons water
drop sesame oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Spray a baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.  Rinse the tilapia and pat dry.  Place in prepared dish.  In a small bowl, mix together the hoisin, 1 tsp rice vinegar, Sriracha and soy sauce.  Pour evenly over the fish.  Bake for 14 minutes, rotating dish halfway through.

Meanwhile, in another bowl, mix together the mayo, mustard powder, rice vinegar, water, and sesame oil.  Cover and place in refrigerator until ready to use.  Serve along side Tilapia.  Enjoy!


One Year Ago:  Pass it On Week 3: Brava Steak

Friday, April 22, 2011

Guest Blogger: Paprika Shrimp

I will tell you a little secret:  I love having guest bloggers because I get to read their posts before anyone else!!  That may sound silly to you, but there is just something about being the first person to read someones post.  It's like you are in on a little secret that no one else knows least for that brief moment.  It's kind of cool.

ANYWAY - enough about me, let's talk about today's guest blogger - Katrina of Betty's Eats.  Katrina's blog is filled with delicious healthy/healthier recipes, fitness reviews, and she even just recently completed a recipe challenge where she actually cooked her way through those cookbooks/magazines that fills most of our bookshelves.  I love her stories of her family, I love her writing style, I love the recipes :)  So make sure to stop by Betty's Eats and say hello....after you are done here, of course!!

And, of course, don't forget about my Fire Day Friday post over at Our Krazy's one you'll want to check out:  Grilled Garlic and Parsley Chicken

Hey there Jenn's people.  I'm Katrina (Betty Ray in my teeny corner of the blogosphere) of Betty's Eats where I document my journey into attempting to find the balance between tasty and healthy (somewhat) food and a happy and healthy lifestyle and family.

I am the little girl growing up who would eat nothing but bologna, bread and black olives.  Dessert came after every meal.  As I got older, the pickiness never subsided and dessert was still mandatory and usually came courtesy of Entenmanns.  Dinner was meat, potatoes, pastas.  After two kids and hitting the ripe old age of 30 (which was a while ago), that diet wasn't really working anymore.  Exercise was no longer an option but a requirement.  All those desserts didn't just magically burn themselves off.

Now at 37, I have a new husband, a new home, a new career and a new found appreciation for a variety of yummy eats.  My husband lived a much less sheltered life than I did and opened up a new world to me.  when it comes to food, well he will eat just about anything and has a taste of ethnic foods that a few years ago would've sent me running for the door.  Some still do.  In my eagerness to enjoy some of the finer things in life with him, I began experimenting.  Hey, I like lots of new stuff!  Healthy can be delicious?  Wow.  Now it's time to get the kids up to speed.  I am slowly introducing them to new flavors, textures, and cuisines.

This recipe is a less scary version of a little Euro/Asian fusion and the turnips add a healthy dose of fiber, potassium, calcium and vitamin C.  Paired with kid friendly brown rice noodles, they will dive right in.  Even if they push away the shrimp, they will get a taste for the new spices on the noodles (and you can always say the turnips are potatoes).  Baby steps we say, baby steps.

Hope you enjoy this Paprika Shrimp.  Modified from a recipe found in Power Foods, a cookbook that makes all those scary healthy things appetizing.

2 tbsp safflower oil
1 tbsp minced fresh ginger
1 1/2 tsp paprika
3 tbsp chopped walnuts
1 lb large shrimp, peeled & deveined
1 peeled turnip, cubed
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
3 tbsp mirin
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
Salt & pepper, to taste
One shot Sriracha (optional)
Red pepper flake, to taste

Heat oil in a large skillet.  Add ginger and paprika.  Cook, constantly stirring, about 30 seconds.  Add walnuts and saute about 2 to 3 minutes.

Add turnip and cook about 5 minutes, stirring constantly.  Add shrimp.  Cook until pink and opaque throughout.  Add vinegar, mirin, sriracha, and salt & pepper to your taste.  Cook until heated through.

Serve with noodles or rice and top with parsley.  Eat while hot.

Printable Recipe

Note:  This dish is extra fabulous the next day so be sure to make extra.  Your co-workers will love your use of the office microwave to heat up your shrimp (so worth the dirty looks)! :)

One Year Ago:  Pasta with Zucchini, Tuna and Almonds

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Vanilla Bean Cake with White Chocolate Frosting

I know...two dessert posts in one week...what the heck is wrong with me??  :)

Seriously, though, my boss just celebrated her 40th birthday and I wanted to do something nice for her, so I decided to make a cake.  Now this is big for me....not only did I make a cake AND the frosting, but I made a LAYER cake!!  I have made one... yes, that's right, count it...ONE... layer cake in my life and it was quite flat.  It tasted great, but it lacked any height whatsoever.

Anyway, back to my boss....I was actually going to make a chocolate cake for her, as I know her love for all things chocolate, but one of the owners went out the Friday before her birthday and bought this ginormous chocolate layer cake that I just knew I could not compete with.  So, I changed the plans a bit.  I was just going to make a plain vanilla cake, but when I opened the pantry, I realized that I still had a vanilla bean hiding in there.  (YAY!)  So I did a bit of a search online and came up with this deliciously light cake.  It takes me, I wanted to rush through half of the steps, but I didn't.  I practiced patience and was rewarded with a cake that was light and fluffy.  It was a thing of beauty, let me tell you.  And the flavor was AMAZING!  Topped with the white chocolate was quite heavenly! 

On a sad note, my wonderful boss has accepted another job and I will be loosing her in less than a month.  It's a tough blow as I thoroughly enjoyed working for/with her.  She gave me a chance and has really taught me a lot in the last year.  She will be sorely missed, and that, my friends, is an understatement!!

Well, at least I got to make her this scrumptious cake before she left :)

Vanilla Bean Cake with White Chocolate Frosting
Cake recipe courtesy Confections of a Foodie Bride; Frosting adapted from Diana's Desserts
Printable Recipe 
3 cups cake flour (I could not find cake flour, so I searched and found that you can substitute all purpose flour - for every 1 cup of cake flour used 1 cup minus 2 Tbls SIFTED all purpose flour)
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1 cup unsalted butter, cubed and room temperature
2 cups sugar (I used vanilla sugar)
5 large eggs at room temperature
1 1/4 cups buttermilk, room temperature
1 Tablespoon vanilla
For Frosting - 
4 1/2 ounces good quality white chocolate, finely chopped
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
2 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease and line two 9-inch cake pans with parchment paper.  Set aside.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Place butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.  Split and scrape the vanilla pod into the the butter, discard pod (or reserve for another use).  Beat for 3 minutes on medium-high speed until the butter is light and creamy in color.  Stop and scrape the bowl.  Cream the butter for an additional 60 seconds.

Add the sugar, 1/4 cup at a time, beating 1 minutes after each addition.  Scrape the sides of the bowl before each addition.  Add the eggs, one at a time.  Reduce the mixer speed.  Stir vanilla into the buttermilk.  Add the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk.  Mix just until incorporated.  Scrape the sides of the bowl and mix for 15 seconds longer.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pans and smooth the top with an off-set spatula.  Lift up the pan and let it drop onto the counter top a couple of times to burst any air bubbles and allowing the batter to settle.  Center the pans onto the lower third of the oven and let bake 45-50 minutes or until the cake is lightly brown on top and comes away from the sides of the pan and a skewer inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs attached.

Let cool completely in the pans before removing the cakes.

When ready to frost the cake:  Melt the chocolate in a double boiler.  Stir until smooth, let cooled to lukewarm.  (I had to add a little cream to get it to be smooth)

In a bowl of a standing mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment, add the chocolate, milk, vanilla, butter, and cream cheese.  Add the confectioners' sugar 1/4-1/2 cup at a time.  Add more sugar or milk depending on your desired consistency.

Spread frosting over the bottom layer with a small offset spatula so it extends just beyond the edges.  Slide second layer on top.  Make a "crumb coat", a thin layer to seal in the stray crumbs.  To start, gently sweep away any loose crumbs with a pastry brush.  Next, use a small offset spatula to over the top and sides with frosting.  Spread the remaining frosting over the top and around the sides of the cake.



One Year Ago:  Tilapia Oreganata

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Dragon Chicken

The basic idea for this recipe came from Michael over at Me, My Food and I.  He posted Nigella Lawson's recipe for Dragon Chicken.  As I read through the ingredients I thought to myself, how can I make this, and yet make it more my own??  Don't get me wrong, I love Nigella (though I believe she's trying to lure my boyfriend away from me with her seductive ways, but that's another story for later..), but I wanted to change it up just a little and see what I could come up with using more ingredients I usually have on hand.  This is what I came up with....

It's's's out of this world good.

And don't you love the shape of the chicken?  Sort of like a dragon, huh?  Ok, I actually think that it looks more like a cat, but we can pretend, can't we?

At least I can :)

Dragon Chicken
Adapted from Michael of Me, My Food and I
Printable Recipe 
1 Habanero, roughly chopped (please be careful..wear gloves when handling these peppers...or do what I did, I used a knife and a fork to cut it, my hands never touched it.)
1 Jalapeno pepper, seeded and roughly chopped
1 garlic clove, skin removed and quartered
1 Tablespoon rice vinegar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
drop of sesame oil
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Put all ingredients, except the chicken, in a food processor and process until smooth.  Place chicken in a resealable bag and pour the marinade over it.  Place the bag in the refrigerator and allow to marinate for 8 hours or over night.

Preheat your grill to 400 degrees.  Remove the chicken from the bag and discard the marinade.  Place the chicken on oiled grill grates and grill for 5-10 minutes on each side or until the chicken has reached an internal temperature of about 160 degrees F.  Enjoy!

One Year Ago:  Saucy Sirloin Steaks

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Fettuccine Alfredo with Grilled Chicken and Shrimp

Coming up with new ideas for dinner can be difficult some times.  I normally ask Chris if he has any requests and he usually responds with a "whatever you make will be good".  Although that is a very nice statement, that doesn't help on the days I'm in limbo.  Every once in a while, though, he'll surprise me and actually make a request.  When he does, I jump on it.  This is one of those requests.

When my friend Ruth and her husband were out here visiting last month, they came over one night and we took them to dinner at this Italian restaurant, called RigaTony's.  It was there that I found out that Chris likes fettuccine.  Yes, that's right, we've been together 4 years and I just now find that out..which is quite strange since I LOVE pasta and want to cook it at least once a week (ok, I want to cook it more, but I keep it to once a week because of Chris).  When we first started dating, he said he really only liked angel hair.  Ok, I thought that's what he said, but what he really said (or meant to say) WAS, he preferred angel hair over penne or ziti or spaghetti.... I never did mention fettuccine, so I guess that's more my fault than his.  ANYWAY, since I found out his love for fettuccine, I've been trying to add it in to the mix on occasion.  And what better way to add it into the mix than with a recreation of the dish he had that RigaTony's - Fettuccine Alfredo with Chicken.

I had to grill the chicken and shrimp... it was just a must, but you can bake everything, pan sear everything, or even buy pre-cooked chicken.  The real show here is the Alfredo sauce and although I have featured this Alfredo sauce here twice, this is well worth re-posting.  Remember, though, this is not for the health conscience...but it is for those of you that just want to indulge a little...which we should all do from time to time!

Fettuccine Alfredo with Grilled Chicken and Shrimp
Printable Recipe 
1 large chicken breast
12 small to medium shrimp or 6 large shrimp
olive oil
garlic salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
2 Tablespoons all purpose flour
1 pint heavy cream
1 - 1 1/2 cups parmesan
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper (if you have white it would be better)

Rinse the chicken and the shrimp, pat dry.  Drizzle olive oil over both sides of the chicken breast and over the shrimp, season both with garlic salt and pepper.

Oil the grill grates and preheat grill to medium-high.  Thread the shrimp onto wooden skewers that have been soaking in water for at least 1 hour.  Place the chicken directly over the flame and the shrimp on the top rack of your grill.  Grill the shrimp until it is cooked through (they should be pink) and golden brown.  Grill the chicken for 8-10 minutes on each side or until no longer pink in the middle.  Remove both from grill and allow to cool.  Slide or chop the cooked chicken.  You can cut the shrimp in half too if you desire.

Cook the fettuccine according the the package directions.  Drain well and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, add the butter and melt over medium heat.  Add the flour, stirring to combine.  Allow to cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring constantly.  Slowly whisk in the heavy cream.  Allow to come to a slow simmer.  Reduce heat to low and add the parmesan cheese.   Stir continually, until the cheese has all melted and the sauce has thickened.  Add the garlic salt and pepper; stir to combine.  Add the chicken and shrimp to the sauce.  Pile fettuccine onto a plate or in a bowl, pour sauce over top, and enjoy!


One Year Ago:  Beef Rigatoni in an Intensely Tomato-y Cream Sauce

Monday, April 18, 2011

Little Brownie Bites

After using the black onyx cocoa in my chocolate mayonnaise cake a few weeks ago, I couldn't wait to try using it in something else.  What better way to use it then in brownies... and since I just posted a brownie recipe not too long ago, I thought, why not change it up a bit and just make brownie bites.  Brownie bites are so much fun....and of course, so dangerous.  I could sit down and eat about twenty bites... or in other words, half the pan of brownies...and not feel guilty because it wasn't and 8x8-inch pan!!

Here's a funny story.. or a story at least... I took these to work and because my boss was on a diet, I didn't want to announce that I had brought yummy, tasty brownie bites to work for others to enjoy, so I just put them on the counter and walked away.  I secretly heard a few people raving about them and let me tell you, it felt good!  Seriously, because no one knew who brought them... they could have said anything...but what they said was OMG these are good!!  And that, my friends, is why I do this.   By this, I mean cook/bake.  It warms my heart to hear people oooh-ing and ahhhh-ing over something I made.  And yes, I need that sometimes.... so what?  You do it too... you know you do!! :)

Anyway, after these bites baked, I pulled them from the oven and they immediately sunk in the middle.  Grrrrrr.... BUT, I could not let that ruin these delicious little treats, so I melted some white chocolate and filled in the "holes".  A star was born...............(oh, yes, I filled about 4 with Nutella just to see...they were delicious too!!!)

Little Brownie Bites
Adapted from Andrea the Kitchen Witch
- makes about 36 bites -
Printable Recipe 
1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup plus 2 Tablespoons cocoa powder (I used 1/4 c natural, 1/4 c Dutch process, and 2 T black onyx cocoa)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
6oz (or more, I sort of lost track, my apologies) white chocolate (chips or chopped)
heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease two mini muff tins and set aside.

In a microwave safe bowl, melt the butter.  Add the sugar to the butter and stir well.  Microwave the butter and sugar for 1 minute and stir well.  This will start the sugar melting and give you a thin, crispy, paper like layer on top of the brownies.

In a medium mixing bowl, add the cocoa powders, vanilla, and eggs.  Stir very well until it forms a thick paste.  Add 1/2 of the butter/sugar mix and stir very well with a wooden spoon.  Be sure to scrape the sides of the bowl and incorporate all the chocolate.  Add the remaining butter/sugar mix and stir well.  Add the dry ingredients, stirring until just mixed.

Spoon or pour batter into prepared mini muffin tins; filling 3/4 full.  Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just a few crumbs on it (no liquid basically).  Remove from oven and allow to cool.

When ready to top with chocolate.  Melt chocolate chips along with enough heavy cream to make it "pourable" in a double boiler.  Spoon a small amount of the warmed chocolate on each brownie.  Allow to cool and harden just a bit.  Enjoy! 

And one more thing....I was recently contacted by the people at  They wanted my permission to post the recipe for Strawberry Chicken that I borrowed from Andrea the Kitchen Witch.  I, of course, said yes (as long as they referenced my blog and Andrea's of course).  So check out this post here - and don't forget to vote!!!  (Thank you!!)

One Year Ago:  Pass it On Week 2:  Garlic Lime Chicken

Friday, April 15, 2011

Spicy Grilled Pork Chops with Mango Pineapple Salsa

Summer on a plate...that's what this dish is.  It's light, it's spicy, it's fresh and it's absolutely delicious!

And speaking of sure is starting to feel like it around here.  Oh, sure, we didn't even get to 60 last Saturday - and it was raining all day....BUT...the week before, we actually hit 100 degrees.  100 April....come on, I know I live in the desert, but cut us a little slack, huh?  I mean, I'll suffer through 112 degrees every day, just let it not get that way until at least June!!  Why is that too much to ask for?  Granted, I can't complain too much, as I would rather it have been 100 degrees than snowing and 30 below!!

Ok, so I'm done complaining....let's talk pork chops :)  Actually, the true star of this show is the Mango Pineapple Salsa....but than again, you probably figured that out since you can see I smothered the pork with it!!  This recipe has everything - spicy - fresh - fruity - Ok, well it might not have EVERYTHING, but it is pretty damn good!  There's just something about fruit and pork that makes me go...mmmmmmmmm!!!

Spicy Grilled Pork Chops with Mango Pineapple Salsa
Printable Recipe
4 pork chops (any cut..I used bone in loin chops)
For the Marinade -
2 Tablespoons lime juice
2 Tablespoons pineapple juice
1 Tablespoon chili powder
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1 Tablespoons hot sauce (I used Frank's)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
For the Salsa -
1 mango, diced (click on this link for instructions on how to cut a mango)
1 cup crushed pineapple, drain - juice reserved
handful of cherry tomatoes, chopped
1 green chili, finely diced
dash of lime juice
1/4 cup freshly chopped parsley

Mix together all the ingredients for the marinade until well blended.  Pour/rub over pork and allow to marinate for 4 hours.

Meanwhile, combine the mango, drained pineapple, tomatoes, green chili, lime juice, and parsley.  Add a little (or a lot, it's up to you) pineapple juice and stir to combine.  Allow to sit in fridge while pork marinates.

Preheat grill to medium-high.  Oil the grill grates.  Place the pork directly onto the grates and grill for 4-6 minutes per side or until the pork reaches an internal temperature of 145-150 degrees F.  Remove from grill, serve with mango pineapple salsa, and enjoy! 

One Year Ago:  Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Chorizo and Goat Cheese Pizza

I tend to get on ingredient/flavor kicks - One week it might be Asian flavors, one week it might be all things pasta, one week it might be goat cheese, and one week it might be chorizo.  I don't think this is a bad thing at all.  It's just a fact.

Lately, my ingredient kick has been chorizo.  At this point in my life, I actually prefer good chorizo over ground beef.  I mean the flavor packed chorizo makes plain old beef look like ... well... it makes it look very plain.  I know, real rocket science there, huh?

Anyway, I've done a lot with chorizo lately.  I've made a pasta dish, I've made a side dish, I've made an egg dish, and I've even made a damn good chili.  All using chorizo as the main star in the dish. The one thing I still hadn't used it on:  Pizza!

Well, the other day I noticed that not only did I have a pound of chorizo in the freezer, but I also had a ball of pizza dough that needed to be used.  Hhmmmmm....and the chorizo and goat cheese pizza was born!!  Although I have still not perfected the pizza dough stretching part of my pizza making, this pizza was killer!  I'd say it was my favorite pizza that I have made since starting this blog!  The creaminess of the goat cheese mixed with the spicy, flavorful kick of the chorizo was just heaven!

I kept this pizza very simple.  I just think that the chorizo lends so much flavor by itself, that to add too many more toppings would just take away from it.  Feel free to cut back on the chorizo, or add more veggies, or use a different cheese altogether (I'd suggest using a queso fresco)...the point being, it's your pizza, build it your way!

Chorizo and Goat Cheese Pizza
Printable Recipe 
1 ball of dough
olive oil
salt and pepper
1 cup perfect pizza sauce
1 red pepper, chopped
3/4 lbs pork or beef ground chorizo
4 oz goat cheese
1 cup mozzarella cheese

Preheat grill to 450 degrees F.

In a skillet over medium heat, add the chorizo.  Break the meat up with a wooden spoon and allow to cook for 8-10 minutes, or until the meat is cooked through.  Remove from the heat, drain, and set aside.

On a slightly floured surface, form the dough.  (Mine always ends up more rectangular than round.)  Brush both sides of the dough with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Place the dough on a piece of aluminum foil on a baking sheet large enough to hold the pizza.  Spray the aluminum foil with non-stick spray.  Slide the foil off of the baking sheet and directly onto the grill.  Lower the heat to low and close the lid.  Allow to cook for 5-8 minutes, rotating once, or until the bottom is nicely browned.  Slide foil back onto the baking sheet.  Flip the dough over and start layering your toppings.  Spoon the sauce on and spread it out.  Add the cooked chorizo, than the peppers.  Crumble or dollop the goat cheese on, than top with mozzarella.  Slide the foil back onto the grill, close the lid, and cook for another 5-8 minutes or until the dough is golden brown and the cheese has melted.  Enjoy!

***Baking method:  Preheat oven to 500 degrees F.  Place a pizza stone on the lower third of the oven and allow to heat for at least 15 minutes.  Form dough and add tops as above.  Place on the pizza stone and bake for 8-12 minutes or until the dough is cooked through. 

One Year Ago:  Buttermilk Marinated Pork Chops with South Carolina Mustard Sauce

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Crispy Baked Fish with Balsamic Mustard Sauce

In a word:  Delicious.....

The sauce was a bit tart and tangy, but it was incredibly good.  It worked perfect with the mildness of the fish.  And to top it all off... check it out:  1 piece of fish (Tilapia) with 1 tablespoon sauce (and believe me, that is enough sauce) is only 157 calories and 3 grams of fat!! YAY!  Delicious and healthy... What more could you ask for??

How about simple?  Of course, it's simple.  If you haven't figured it out already, you will soon find out that you come to my blog, you can always count on finding simple recipes to help with any hectic schedule.  Simple does not have to mean frozen microwaveable meals.  Simple does not have to mean inedible.  This delicious beauty is ready for the table in under 25 minutes.  And honestly, you can make the sauce up to 3 days in advance to cut the time the day of the meal to under 20 minutes!  How's that for simple?

Crispy Baked Fish with Balsamic Mustard Sauce
Printable Recipe 
1 Tablespoon sour cream
1 Tablespoon, plus 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 Tablespoons Balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
6 Tablespoons panko bread crumbs
2 Tablespoons shredded or grated parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
salt and pepper
1 teaspoon lemon juice
4 tilapia fillets

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

In a small bowl, mix together the sour cream, 1 tablespoon Dijon, Balsamic, and sugar until smooth; set aside.

In another bowl, mix together the panko, parmesan, oregano, and garlic.  Season with salt and pepper.  Mix together the remaining teaspoon Dijon and lemon juice.  Brush the fish with the lemon mixture and top with the panko.  Bake for 13 minutes, turning the dish halfway through the cooking time.  Turn the oven to broil - broil 2 minutes.  Remove from oven.  Serve with sauce and enjoy!


One Year Ago:  Tilapia with Spiced Mustard Sauce

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Spicy Garlic Shrimp Pasta

I'm pretty sure I've said this many times... you do not see a lot of shrimp recipes on here because I have had bad experiences with the frozen kind and fresh is not that easy to find out here.  So, I tend to only buy it on certain occasions.  BUT.. I was looking for something different to make... something outside of my standard chicken or I grabbed a bag and hoped for the best.

Good thing I did, because this bag was good.  No stinky, smelly shrimp!! YAY!!!

Of course, the first thing I wanted to make was a pasta dish!! There's just something about shrimp and pasta that I adore.  It's actually the one time I prefer to have a thin pasta like angel hair, over my beloved penne.  And garlic........ I mean, shrimp and pasta go so well with garlic!! (as do so many, many more things!!)

Anyway, this is yet another fantastic week night meal.  It can easily come together in less then 30 just can't beat that.  Not only is this a good week night meal for the entire family, but it can also be a fantastic little romantic dinner for two!  Versatility is your friend!!

Spicy Garlic Shrimp Pasta
Printable Recipe 
3/4 lbs angel hair pasta
2 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, divided
1/4-1/2 lbs. shelled and deveined medium shrimp
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (use less for less heat)
1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley
salt and pepper
freshly toasted homemade Italian seasoned breadcrumbs (optional)
Parmesan cheese

Cook the pasta according to package directions.  Drain; reserving 1/2 cup pasta water.

In a skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil.  Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, and tomatoes.  Cook for 1 minute.  Add the shrimp and cook until shrimp is heated through.  Remove from heat and add the cooked pasta, tossing to coat.  Toss in 1 tablespoon of olive oil, the parsley and season with salt and pepper.  If the pasta is too dry, add the reserved pasta water.  Top with breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese.  Enjoy!


One Year Ago:  Steaks with Balsamic Vinegar, Dijon & Garlic Marinade