Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Chicken with Mustard Sauce, Roasted Brussels Sprouts, and Rosemary Potatoes

This is easy and delicious. The only thing I tweaked were the Brussels sprouts since I much prefer them roasted rather than sautéed (12 ounces of them, trimmed and quartered, tossed with salt, pepper, and olive oil, and roasted at 450°F for 25-30 minutes).


Chicken with Mustard Sauce
A variation on this recipe from Cooking Light

1 tablespoon olive oil
4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup unfiltered apple cider
2 tablespoons whole-grain Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Preheat oven to 450°F.

Heat a large ovenproof skillet over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper; add to pan. Cook 3 minutes or until browned. Turn chicken; place pan in oven. Bake for 9 minutes or until done. Remove chicken from pan; keep warm.

Heat pan over medium-high heat. Add broth and cider; bring to a boil, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer 4 minutes or until thickened. Whisk in mustard, butter, and parsley.


Rosemary Potatoes
A variation on this recipe from Cooking Light

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
12 ounces quartered red potatoes

Preheat oven to 450°F. Combine olive oil, thyme, rosemary, salt, black pepper, and potatoes in a bowl. Spread potatoes on a jelly-roll pan. Bake 45 minutes or until golden brown and tender.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Chicken Fajitas with Mexican Black Beans and Rice

I decided to make our last Sunday dinner a little easier by making it, primarily, a crockpot meal. And it was pretty tasty. The chicken itself wasn't my favorite. I definitely prefer the grilled/sautéed chicken I've had when I've had fajitas at a restaurant. The black beans and rice were quite good though. I've been enjoying having the leftovers with a little shredded cheese on top.


Chicken Fajitas
Courtesy of Stacy Makes Cents

1 yellow onion, sliced
3 sweet peppers, sliced
1 ½ pounds boneless chicken breast or thighs
½ cup chicken broth
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons cumin
1 ½ tablespoons chili powder
Squirt of lime juice
Fajita fixings

Combine sliced onion and peppers in the bottom of a greased crockpot. Lay chicken on top of veggies. Pour chicken broth over top. Sprinkle everything with cumin, salt, and chili powder. Give a nice quirt of lime juice over the top. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours. When meat is done, shred with two forks and stir back into juices. Serve meat mixture with slotted spoon on tortillas with your choice of fixings.


Mexican Rice
Courtesy of The Pioneer Woman

2 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 whole large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups long grain rice
1 can Rotel (10 ounces)
1 can whole tomatoes (14.5 ounces)
2 cups low sodium chicken broth (more if needed)
1 teaspoon cumin (more to taste)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Fresh cilantro, chopped

Heat oil in a large skillet. Add onions and garlic, then cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Reduce heat to low and add rice and garlic. Stir constantly, making sure the rice doesn’t burn. Cook over low heat for 3 minutes. Add Rotel and tomatoes. Stir to combine and let cook for 2 minutes. Finally, add broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 10 to 15 additional minutes or until rice is done. Add more liquid as needed; rice shouldn’t be sticky.

Just before serving, sprinkle lots of freshly chopped cilantro over the top. Serve immediately.


Mexican Black Beans
Courtesy of Bon Appétit

1 tablespoon olive oil
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 large jalapeño chili, seeded, chopped
1/2 teaspoon (generous) ground cumin
2 15-ounce cans black beans, rinsed, drained
1 14 1/2-ounce can low-salt chicken broth
Fresh lime juice
Chopped fresh cilantro

Heat oil in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add garlic, chili and cumin and sauté 30 seconds. Add beans and broth and cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Coarsely mash beans with potato masher. Continue boiling until thick, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes. Season to taste with lime juice, salt and pepper. Transfer to bowl. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve.

Tandoori Chicken and Indian Potato Salad

I saw Aarti Sequeira make a version of this tandoori chicken on The Best Thing I Ever Made, and I had to try it. I tweaked things a bit since I couldn't find all of the ingredients in the grocery store. And I'm going to tweak how much tandoori spice I use next time since the dish could have used a bit more spice. I made a ton of tandoori spice, so I have plenty with which to experiment. I will also be using chicken breasts instead of thighs next time. I usually really only like using chopped chicken thighs in a dish. Otherwise, there's a lot of extra fat with which to deal.

On the show, she served the chicken with potato salad, but she didn't supply a recipe. So I found this one. Which I wasn't crazy about. But oh well. There are plenty of other ones out there to try.

Tandoori Chicken
A variation on this recipe from Aarti Sequeira


1 bottle dried pickling spice
1 dried chile de arbol
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 cup whole fat plain yogurt
1/4 cup peanut or canola oil
2 tablespoons malt vinegar or lime juice
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
Pinch cayenne pepper
8 cloves garlic, minced
2-inch thumb ginger, peeled and minced
1 packet boneless skinless chicken breasts (1 1/2 pounds usually)
1 teaspoon honey
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Couple of extra limes, for garnish

To make the marinade, toast the pickling spices, whole chiles and fennel seeds in a skillet until fragrant, 3 minutes or so, shaking the pan. Then, pour the spices into a spice grinder and grind them until you get a fine powder. Store in an airtight container.

In large bowl, whisk together 2-3 teaspoons (more or less, depending on your taste) spice mixture you just made with the yogurt, oil, malt vinegar, salt, ground cinnamon, paprika, turmeric, cayenne pepper, garlic and ginger until well combined. Taste and adjust with more salt if it needs it.

Reserve 1/3 cup of the marinade and set aside; you're going to make a sauce out of this reserved marinade.

Prick the chicken with a fork. Add the chicken to the rest of the marinade, and toss to coat. Marinate at least 1 hour in the fridge, and at most overnight.

When you're ready to cook, line a baking sheet with foil, and turn your broiler on. Place each chicken breast on the baking sheet, making sure each one is coated with the marinade, but isn't swimming in it. Cook the chicken breasts under the broiler until starting to blacken, about 5 minutes. Then turn the oven to 350°F, and cook until a meat thermometer inserted in the meatiest part of the thigh registers 165°F, another 10 minutes. Remove from the oven.

While the chicken is cooking, pour the reserved marinade into a small saucepan, along with 1/2 cup water and the honey. Bring to a gentle boil over medium-low heat, whisking all the time. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and pour into a small bowl or gravy boat for serving.

Serve the chicken breasts on a platter with a fresh squeeze of lime and a drizzle of the sauce.


Indian Potato Salad
Courtesy of Bon Appétit


3 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes
1 cup chopped shallots (about 3)
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup chopped peeled fresh ginger
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 cups (packed) chopped cilantro leaves and tender stems, divided

Bring large pot of salted water to boil; add potatoes. Cook until potatoes are tender when pierced with knife, about 25 minutes. Cover and refrigerate until very cold, at least 3 hours. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.)

Puree shallots, mayonnaise, ginger, and lemon juice in processor. Transfer to small bowl. Stir in 1 1/2 cups cilantro. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Peel potatoes; cut into 1/2-inch cubes. Place in large bowl, add dressing, and toss to coat. Refrigerate until cold, about 4 hours. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with remaining cilantro and serve.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Chocolate-Covered Pretzels

I don't know why I hadn't made these before. They are so easy and delicious. You can use any kind of prezel you want and any kind of chocolate you want. I did these for Valentine's Day, but I know I'll be making them for pretty much any holiday for which I can find fun sprinkles.

Chocolate-Covered Pretzels


4 ounces chocolate, cut into small pieces
Pretzels (I could cover 7 rods with 4 ounce of chocolate)
Sprinkles or other candy decorations (optional)

Melt chocolate for 30 seconds in the microwave in a heat-proof bowl. Stir, and then heat again for another 30 seconds. Stir, and then heat again for another 15 seconds. Stir until totally melted and smooth. (This all might depend on how hot your microwave runs, so keep a close eye on it, and make sure you stop heating it when most of the pieces have melted completely.)

Dip your pretzels and place them on a piece of wax paper. Sprinkle with candy, if desired. Let set up completely, and then enjoy!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Martinis

Yes, you read that right. And it's delicious. And yes, I really need to get some martini glasses...

Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Martinis
Courtesy of Daydreamer Desserts


Reese’s Peanut Butter Martini:
2 1/2 ounces Reese’s Mini Peanut Butter Cup Infused Vodka, recipe below
4 ounces (1/2 cup) milk
1 teaspoon Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup
4 mini peanut butter Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, for garnish

Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Infused Vodka:
6 ounces good quality vodka
1/4 cup Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups

To prepare the infused vodka, combine vodka and Reese’s Mini Peanut Butter Cups in a clean mason jar. Close jar tightly and store in a cool dry place for 7 days. Give it a good shake once or twice per day.

Once vodka has been infused, strain into a clean mason jar using a fine mesh sieve or cheese cloth. Store in a cool place or in the freezer.

To prepare the martini, combine infused vodka and milk in a cocktail shaker filled halfway with ice. Shake for 30-40 seconds and pour into two small martini glasses. Garnish with mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


As with the oatmeal cream pies and various other treats from my childhood, once I realized how much artificial junk was in them, I couldn't enjoy them like I did before. And I definitely didn't want my kids eating them. So it's been absolutely wonderful to find recipes for equal, if not better, homemade versions. The ones I just made have brown sugar cinnamon and Nutella fillings. I've only tried the brown sugar cinnamon ones so far, and they are even better than the ones I loved so much growing up. I'm looking forward to trying the Nutella one for breakfast tomorrow.

I agree with Deb over at smitten kitchen that these would be even better in mini form (though I know I would probably end up eating as much as one big one, I like having the option of eating less). So next time, instead of make 9 big ones, I think I'll try making 16 little ones.

The only thing that I noticed was a little off was that I needed another tablespoon of milk to make the dough come together. I'm wondering if it would have been easier if I had used a food processor the way I usually do for pie crust.

I also decided to ice them to make them more "authentic". I just used about a cup of powdered sugar and enough water to make a spreadable icing, but I'm sure royal icing would have been lovely too.

A variation on this recipe from smitten kitchen


2 cups (8 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks or 8 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into pats
2 large eggs, divided
2-3 tablespoons milk

Cinnamon Filling:
1/2 cup (3 3/4 ounces) brown sugar
1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, to taste
4 teaspoons all-purpose flour

Jam Filling:
3/4 cup (8 ounces) jam
1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon cold water

Alternate fillings: 9 tablespoons chocolate chips, 9 tablespoons Nutella or other chocolate-hazelnut paste or 9 tablespoons of a delight of your choice, such as salted caramel or a nut paste

To make cinnamon filling: Whisk together the sugar, cinnamon, and flour.

To make jam filling: Mix the jam with the cornstarch/water in a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, and simmer, stirring, for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, and set aside to cool. Use to fill the pastry tarts.

Make the dough: Whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt. Work in the butter with your fingers, pastry blender or food processor until pea-sized lumps of butter are still visible, and the mixture holds together when you squeeze it. If you’ve used a food processor, transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Whisk the first egg and milk together and stir them into the dough, mixing just until everything is cohesive, kneading briefly on a well-floured counter if necessary.

Divide the dough in half (approximately 8 1/4 ounces each), shape each half into a smooth rectangle, about 3×5 inches. You can roll this out immediately or wrap each half in plastic and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

Assemble the tarts: If the dough has been chilled, remove it from the refrigerator and allow it to soften and become workable, about 15 to 30 minutes. Place one piece on a lightly floured work surface, and roll it into a rectangle about 1/8″ thick, large enough that you can trim it to an even 9″ x 12″. [You can use a 9" x 13" pan, laid on top, as guidance.] Repeat with the second piece of dough. Set trimmings aside. Cut each piece of dough into thirds – you’ll form nine 3″ x 4″ rectangles.

Beat the additional egg and brush it over the entire surface of the first dough. This will be the “inside” of the tart; the egg is to help glue the lid on. Place a heaping tablespoon of filling into the center of each rectangle, keeping a bare 1/2-inch perimeter around it. Place a second rectangle of dough atop the first, using your fingertips to press firmly around the pocket of filling, sealing the dough well on all sides. Press the tines of a fork all around the edge of the rectangle. Repeat with remaining tarts.

Gently place the tarts on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Prick the top of each tart multiple times with a fork; you want to make sure steam can escape, or the tarts will become billowy pillows rather than flat toaster pastries. Refrigerate the tarts (they don’t need to be covered) for 30 minutes, while you preheat your oven to 350°F.

Remove the tarts from the fridge, and bake them for 20 to 25 minutes, until they’re a light golden brown. Cool in pan on rack. Once cool, if desired, glaze with icing.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Pesto Pasta with Chicken Sausage and Roasted Brussels Sprouts

This is totally scrumptious. I think it's officially found itself on our favorites list. I took the blogger's note and added toasted pine nuts

Pesto Pasta with Chicken Sausage and Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Courtesy of gimme some oven!


1 pound fresh brussels sprouts, ends trimmed and any yellowed/browned outer leaves removed, then sliced in half
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
1 pound (16 ounces) orecchiette (or any pasta)
4 chicken sausage links, sliced into 1/4″ thick coins
5 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
1/3 cup pesto
1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
Parmesan cheese, for serving

Preheat oven to 400°F. In a large bowl, mix together Brussels sprouts, 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper. Gently stir until well-combined.

Prepare a baking sheet with aluminum foil, then spread the Brussels sprouts on it evenly. Roast for about 20-30 minutes, stirring once partway through, or until they are crispy on the outside and cooked on the inside. Remove from oven and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook, turning occasionally, until nearly-browned, about 6-8 minutes. Add the garlic, and continue cooking for another 1-2 minutes until the garlic is fragrant and the sausage is browned.

Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Once the pasta is cooked, drain the water (reserving 1/4 cup pasta water), and then toss together the pasta, pesto, cooked sausage and garlic, Brussels sprouts, and pine nuts. Add in some of the reserved pasta water if needed for extra moisture.

Serve warm, and sprinkle with freshly-grated Parmesan cheese.

Oatmeal Cream Pies

I grew up loving Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pies. So when I came across this recipe on Pinterest (my new favorite internet hobby), I had to try it. And I was not disappointed. These are fantastic.

Oatmeal Cream Pies
Courtesy of Kids in the Sink


1 cup butter
¾ cup dark brown sugar
½ cup sugar
1 tablespoon molasses
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
1 ½ cups flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
⅛ teaspoon cinnamon
1 ½ cups quick oats

Cream Filling:
2 teaspoons very hot water
¼ teaspoon salt
1 (7-ounce) jar marshmallow cream
½ cup shortening
⅓ cup powdered sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

In the bowl of your stand mixer, cream the butter, sugars, molasses, vanilla, and eggs. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon. Add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture and stir to combine; mix in the oats.

Drop tablespoon-sized scoops onto the cookie sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes, until just starting to brown around the edges. Be careful not to overbake them; they will look moist.

While the cookies are baking, in a small bowl, dissolve the salt in the hot water and allow to cool to room temperature. Combine the marshmallow cream, shortening, powdered sugar, and vanilla and mix on high until fluffy. Add the salt water and mix well.

Spread the filling onto the flat side of one cookie and top with another. There you have the most delicious sandwich cookie known to man.

Vegetable Soup with Fennel and Pine Nut Toasts

Meh. Not great. As usual, Rachael Ray's recipes prove to be a bit too bland.

Vegetable Soup with Fennel and Pine Nut Toasts
Courtesy of Rachael Ray


3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 large bulbs fennel; quartered, cored and coarsely chopped, fronds reserved for garnish
1 large onion, chopped
4 celery ribs with leafy tops, thinly sliced on an angle
3 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced on an angle
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper
2 32-ounce containers (8 cups) chicken broth
1/2 pound egg noodles
1/2 cup grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
1/4 cup pine nuts, chopped
4 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 loaf ciabatta bread, split
2 teaspoons grated lemon peel

In a soup pot, heat the oil, 3 turns of the pan, over medium-high heat. Add the fennel, onion, celery, carrots, garlic and bay leaf; season with salt and pepper and cook until the vegetables are softened, 10 minutes. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Stir in the egg noodles and cook until al dente, about 10 minutes.

Preheat the broiler. Using a food processor, combine the cheese, nuts and butter. Lightly toast the ciabatta halves under the broiler for about 2 minutes. Spread the cheese mixture on the toast and melt under the broiler. Cut into eighths.

Discard the bay leaf; sprinkle the fennel fronds on the soup. Add the lemon peel. Ladle the soup into bowls and serve with the toasts for dunking.