Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Southwestern Salsa

I start out this post with a "Yippey I Oh Kai AYE!!!" Wow is this a delicious fix! Perusing one of my tried and true Southern Living Cookbooks, I came across this and put my own twist on it for a result that is non-stop eating until the dish is gone.

It's fresh, it's flavorful, it's basically a fiesta to your tastebuds and is perfect to accompany another mexican dish for dinner, served on top of fish, eaten as an any time snack, adorn a buffet table for a shower or luncheon...endless possibilities here friends!

Southwestern Salsa
2 t. cumin
2 (15 oz) cans black beans (rinse and drain them please)
1 (15 oz) can of whole kernel corn (drain please)
1 red pepper, finely chopped (I know, they are $3 each, it's worth it)
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/2 c. chopped cilantro (no substitutes here - cilantro is key in this salsa!)
2 t. parsley
1/3 c. lemon juice
1/4 c. olive oil
3 cloves of crushed garlic
1/2 t. salt
1 t. crushed red pepper (like those little flakes you put on pizza)
1/2 t. black pepper

Chop your fresh ingredients...onion, cilantro and the $3 red pepper.

Add these ingredients to your corn, beans and seasonings. Give it all a stir and just as you're about to pounce on it with a handful of tortilla chips, put it in the frig for all the flavors to do a happy dance. Eat it a few hours later (thanking yourself for waiting on the happy dance) and devour!


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

California Calzones

I love taking the road less traveled on a familiar dish. Calzones are super easy to make and I filled them with gourmet goodness for a delicious change.

Initially I made my own dough for the calzones. Two hours later, I told myself that NEXT time, I was going Pillsbury Pre-made pizza dough all the way. Easier, quicker and just as good. When you have time constraints, pre-made saves the day. So go buy a tube of pizza dough and we'll get started.

Pizza Dough
Olive Oil
6-8 thin slices of Proscuitto
Goat Cheese Spread (Or a basil or pepper goat cheese log works as well)
1 Tomato, sliced

How to Make Them:

Roll out your dough so you have one large flat surface. Divide this into 6 even rounds. Flatten each round and brush it with olive oil. Take your (no, I forgot to take multiple pictures, I'm sorry) Goat Cheese Spread and smear several tablespoons of it on a piece of proscuitto. Roll up the proscuitto and set it on the dough. Add a slice of tomato (salted and peppered) and fold the dough over to make a half moon. Smush down the edges so nothing can sneak out during baking.

Bake at 350 for 15ish minutes, or until the dough is turning a light brown.

I served these with side salads and they were a wonderful meal. The calzones were light and full of flavor and the tomato added a freshness that was a nice change to a traditional marinara sauce.(Note, while my children's palates aren't quite adjusted to the amazing tangyness of goat cheese, I made their calzones the traditional way with marinara sauce, pepperoni and mozzarella cheese). Everyone was happy. :)


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Orange Chicken

I have a weakness for Orange Chicken and eat a bowl of it almost everytime I go to the mall. There's just something about Chinese Food from a mall food court that calls my name louder than a pizza slice or chicken pita. This is a very similar recipe that cuts down on the deep fried unhealthiness and leaves you with a delicious dinner.

3/4 c. chicken broth
3/4 c. orange juice
6 T. white vinegar
1/4 c. soy sauce
1/2 c. brown sugar
3 garlic cloves
1 T. ginger
1/4 t. cayenne pepper
1.5 lbs. chicken - cut into bite sized cubes
3 T. cornstarch
2 T. cold water
2 T. vegetable oil

Whisk together the broth, orange juice, vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, ginger and cayenne.

Next, marinate your little chicken bites in 3/4 c. of the mixture you just concocted for 2-4 hours.

Boil the remaining mixture. Stir together the cornstarch and water and add to the sauce. Reduce the heat and simmer. The sauce thickens and turns into a delicious orangy sweet sauce that looks extremely professional. It's pretty exciting folks!

Saute your chicken in 2 T. of vegetable oil until it's cooked through.

Stir your professional orangy sweet sauce into the cooked chicken and serve it over rice.

It's gooooood! As a final touch, I douse it in soy sauce as I like the salty sweet flavor combination.


Thursday, January 5, 2012

Step Aside McMuffins!

While enjoying time off over Christmas and New Years, I found myself making a LOT of big breakfasts. Normally I throw bowls of cereal or some granola bars out, but not over the holidays!

I won't give you step by step instructions on this, as it's really a no brainer. This is moreso a 'hey, I can make that' type of reminder of what to feed your fam for breakfast - when you have some time on your hands.

My McMuffins
Scrambled Eggs seasoned with salt and pepper
Crispy Fried Bacon
2 slices of American Cheese (one for each side of the English Muffin)
English Muffins

My recommendation on this, while you are scrambling eggs and frying bacon, is to spread butter on the inside of each muffin and toast it in the oven. Then you can assemble your ingredients and sit back and wait for the "Mom, you are the best cook EVER" type comments.


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Skeptical Sweet Rolls

Well, my morning started off with an adventure. My two year old lodged a blue peppermint tic tac up his nose and was hysterically upset about it. It was a 10 minute process, but we conquered the tic tac and we can all return to our regularly scheduled programming. Life is never dull in a house full of boys! Now on to breakfast...

A dear friend gave me a recipe she'd grown up on. A delicious over night sweet roll recipe. I looked at it and frowned. It had butterscotch pudding listed as an ingredient. I don't like butterscotch pudding. She assured me there is no end result of butterscotchiness, so I gave them a whirl.

These rolls basically make themselves - you just layer the ingredients and then the magic happens.

Let the Skepticism Begin!
9 Frozen Dinner Roll Dough Balls (I used Rhodes)
3/4 c. chopped pecans
2/3 c. brown sugar
1 small package of Butterscotch Pudding (do not use instant)
1 stick of butter

Line an 8x8 square pan with foil (you'll thank me later). Sprinkle pecans over the foil.

Place the frozen dough in nice little rows and sprinkle with the brown sugar and pudding mix.

Dot it with butter. I love butter. Not margarine. Butter.

Cover it with plastic wrap you've sprayed with pam.

Now, here is where I got skeptical. (And you thought it was the butterscotch pudding!). The original recipe calls for you to refrigerate them over night. Magically they will unthaw from their frozen state and rise into fluffy goodness so that when you wake the next morning, all you have to do is place them in a 350 degree oven for half and hour. Right? WRONG!

I tested the theory and the next morning, the dough was every bit as frozen as when I made it the night before. Soooo, I left the pan covered and let the rolls rise in a nice warm climate for 2 hours, uncovered them and THEN baked them at 350 for 30 minutes.

The result is a buttery carmel pecan sweet roll tray of amazingness that you invert onto a plate and peel the foil from. It's ohhhhh so good and a fixer againer (without the overnight nonsense). You set them in the middle of the table and stand back as your family lunges towards them and gobbles them in minutes.


My New Fav Balsamic Dressing

Happy New Year Friends! Are the last few bars of Auld Lang Syne still wafting through your head? Have you made a list of Resolutions? I personally, have not. I've prayed for God's wisdom and direction in 2012 and am looking forward to all He has in store for me. My seat belt is fastened and the ride has begun!

I've been seeing, hearing, reading and bombarded by blurbs, ads, tv and the like who all encourage weight loss. My jeans are fitting me just fine, so I'm content, but in the event your menu has you seeking salad over lasagna, I wanted to share one delicious dressing that I stumbled upon.

I found a sweet potato recipe that was 80 steps long and as I completed the 79th step, I realized the end result was not worth the effort and the dish wasn't that great. However, there was this balsamic sauce that I gleaned from it and have made it my new favorite salad dressing. It's warm, so it makes a delicious contrast in your mouth with some salad greens. Let's get started!

New Fav Balsamic Dressing
6 T. Balsamic Vinegar
1/3 c. Peach or Mango Chutney (these can be hard to find, so I took a picture of what I used and it was delish!)
2 T. Dijon Mustard
2 T. Honey
2 Garlic Cloves, minced
1/4 c. Olive Oil

In a sauce pan, over medium heat, combine all ingredients BUT the olive oil. Whisk ingredients together and allow to heat through, for several minutes.

Once heated, remove saucepan from the heat and whisk in the olive oil. Pour over mixed greens, spinach or your favorite lettuce. I added in some tomato, raisins and onion and it was a fabulous tasty treat.

Cheers to 2012!

(Did I really just start off the year with a post on salad dressing?!)