Thursday, May 31, 2012

Slow Cooker Chicken Chili

Even though it's summer, the rainy weather made me hungry for some good chili.  I found this recipe in the official crock-pot cookbook and thought it looked simple and delicious.  It called for great Northern beans, which I don't care for, so I just used pinto beans.  This is a very simple, weeknight meal that is easy to please.  I hope you enjoy.
  • 1 lb. chicken breast tenders cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped onion
  • 1 can (15 oz) black beans, drained
  • 1 can (15 oz) great Northern beans, or pinto beans, drained
  • 1 can (15 oz) Stewed Mexican-style tomatoes, undrained (I chopped them up a little bit)
  • 2 tbsp of your favorite chili seasoning mix
In a skillet coated with cooking spray, cook chicken and onion until chicken is browned.  Add chicken mixture, beans, and seasoning to a slow cooker and mix well.  Cook on LOW for 4 to 4 1/2 hours.  (Or on High for 2 hours).  Serve with crackers, chips, or simply with a spoon.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Chocolate Cheesecake with a Cappuccino Swirl

I have to admit, that I've never made a cheesecake even though I've had a spring-form pan for over 3 years.  I took this picture from my iPhone, so it doesn't do justice to the deliciousness of this cheesecake.  I had actually been craving a graham cracker crust, ever since I had my friend's key lime pie, but knew I wanted something chocolate.  Because, let's face it, what's the point of dessert if it's not chocolate?  This cheesecake is moist, lush, and creamy with a hint of coffee flavoring.  It's a decadent treat that is not that healthy, but fabulously delicious.  I hope you enjoy!

Found through food gawker, here
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 pounds (three 8-ounce packages) cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
3 large eggs, preferably at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and slightly cooled
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder (I used instant coffee)
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons boiling water.
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter an 8 1/2- or 9-inch spring form pan and put the pan on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat.
1. Stir the crumbs, sugar and cinnamon together in a medium bowl. Pour over the melted butter and stir until all of the dry ingredients are uniformly moist. (I do this with my fingers.) Turn the crumbs into the pan and, with your fingers, press the crumbs evenly over the bottom of the pan and as far up the sides as they’ll go. Freeze the crust for about 10 minutes.
2. Bake for 10 minutes, only until the crust is lightly set and just tinged with color. Cool on a rack or refrigerate while you make the filling. Keep the oven at 350 degrees F.
1. Cut each bar of cream cheese into quarters and toss the pieces into a food processor, along with the sugar. Process, scraping down the bowl 2 or 3 times, for a full 2 minutes. You’ll see how dramatically the cream cheese changes; it will look like white velvet at the end of its beating. Add the eggs, vanilla and salt and give the batter 4 longish pulses, the scrape down the bowl and pulse 2 more times. Pour in the chocolate and pulse and scrape a few times to blend the batter well.
2. Remove the bowl from the processor and rap it hard on the counter a couple of times to de-bubble the batter. Scrape the batter into the cooled crust.
3. Bake the cheesecake for 35 to 40 minutes if you are using a 9-inch pan or 45 to 50 minutes if you are using an 8 1/2-inch pan. The top should be puffed and set, but if you tap the pan gently, the center of the cake will still be a little shaky–that’s just fine. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and allow the cheesecake to cool to room temperature, then refrigerate for at least 8 hours or for up to 3 days.
Run a blunt knife between the crust and sides of the pan, then open and remove the sides of the spring form.
1. Make a cinnamon-espresso syrup by whisking together 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar, 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder and 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon and mixing in 2 tablespoons boiling water. Cool to tepid or room temperature.
2. Spoon about 1/3 of the cheesecake batter (I did this prior to adding the chocolate to it) into a measuring cup with a spout and stir in the syrup. Pour the remaining batter into the crust, then pour over the cappuccino batter, pouring so that it creates a swirl pattern in the chocolate. For good measure, take a table knife and give the 2 batters a few extra swirls.
Wrapped well, the cheesecake will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. It can be frozen for up to 2 months; defrost, still wrapped, overnight in the refrigerator.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Chicken in Basil Cream Sauce

This is a delicious and easy weeknight meal that is full of flavor!  I couldn't find just plain sun-dried tomatoes at my grocery store, so I just used a few spoonfuls of sun-dried tomato pesto sauce, and it turned out great.  I hope you enjoy! 

Recipe courtesy of The Girl Who Ate Everything

1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup dried Italian bread crumbs
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
3 tablespoons butter
1 clove garlic (1/2 teaspoon minced)
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Place milk and bread crumbs in separate, shallow bowls. Make sure your chicken breasts are thin. 

In skillet, heat butter to medium heat. Dip chicken in milk, then coat with crumbs. Cook chicken in butter, on both sides, until juices run clear (about 10 minutes). Remove and keep warm.

Add the garlic to the pan and cook for 30 seconds over medium heat. Add the chicken broth to the skillet. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, and stir to loosen browned bits from pan. Stir in cream and sun-dried tomatoes; boil and stir for 1 minute. Reduce heat.        

Add Parmesan cheese, basil and pepper. Stir sauce and cook until heated through. Remember that for a thicker sauce all you have to do is cook it longer. I like my sauce on the thick side so I cooked it for a while (3-5 minutes). 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Here's a great weeknight meal when you're tired of the traditional spaghetti and meat sauce.  Sorry, there's no picture as it was eaten too fast!  I hope you enjoy!

  • 1 lb. 93/7 ground beef or turkey
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs (I used roasted garlic flavored)
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh herbs such as basil, oregano, and parsley
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • jar spaghetti sauce
  • whole wheat spaghetti noodles
Combine ground beef, bread crumbs, herbs, egg, and onion in a medium bowl and mix well.  Use your hands to roll 1-1/2" meatballs and place on parchment paper (makes about 25-30).  Cook pasta according to package directions.  Meanwhile, Heat 2 tbsp olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add meatballs and brown on all sides, careful not to break them up.  Add jar spaghetti sauce, reduce heat, and simmer 15-20 minutes.  Serve sauce of cooked noodles.

Snickers Cupcakes

Just the name of these cupcakes makes my salivary glands go crazy.  I knew these would be a slight challenge as soon as I read the recipe because the caramel sauce and frosting are homemade (yikes!).  I've never made caramel nor do I have much success with homemade icings, but these turned out amazing- now if I only had professional icing skills.  I love the secret chunk of Snickers inside the cupcakes.  A little time consuming, but worth all the work.  I hope you enjoy!

For the Cupcakes:
  • 1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 egg yolk, room temperature
  • 1¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup sour cream, at room temperature
For the Caramel Sauce:
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the Filling:
  • 12 fun-size Snickers bars, chopped
For the Caramel Frosting:
  • 3 ½ to 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 8 fun-size Snickers bars, chopped
To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Line muffin pan with paper liners.
In a two-cup glass measuring cup, whisk together the cocoa powder and hot water until smooth; set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the butter and the sugar, stirring occasionally until the butter is melted and mixture is combined. Remove from the heat and transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat on medium-low speed until the mixture is cooled, about 4-5 minutes. Add eggs and egg yolk, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Mix in vanilla and cocoa mixture until incorporated. With the mixer on low speed add in the dry ingredients in two batches, alternating with the sour cream, beating just until combined.
Fill the cupcake papers three-quarters full, making sure that the batter is divided evenly. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean, 18-20 minutes. Allow the cupcakes to cool in the pan 5-10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
To make the filling, melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the salt and brown sugar and heat the mixture to boiling, stirring constantly. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, until the sugar is totally dissolved. Stir in the milk and return to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in vanilla. Cool to lukewarm, about 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Once cupcakes have cooled, use a paring knife or apple corer to cut out a small circle in the center of each cupcake.
Remove the core and discard.
To make the cupcake filling, in a medium bowl, combine the chopped Snickers and 1/4 cup of the cooled caramel sauce and mix to coat. Drop a spoonful of the filling mixture into each cupcake.
Reserve three tablespoons of caramel sauce for drizzling over frosted cupcakes.
To make the frosting, transfer remaining caramel sauce to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the powdered sugar and beat on medium-high speed until until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Adjust consistency with a little more milk or powdered sugar, if necessary.
Transfer the frosting to a pastry bag fitted with a decorative tip. Pipe a spiral of icing, beginning at the outer edge and working inward. Drizzle the frosted cupcakes with the three tablespoons of caramel sauce and garnish with chopped Snickers bars.

Original recipe found here.
Found on Food Gawker, of course!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Honey Walnut Banana Bread

I've never met anyone who doesn't like banana bread.. even if they hate bananas.  Make sure you use overripe bananas- ripe ones will not deliver the same flavor and texture.  This banana bread was particularly sweet and moist (probably from the honey) and is sure not to disappoint.

Enjoy it, my favorite way, warmed with butter.  Yum!!

3 Ripe/over ripe Bananas, mashed up
1/2 Cup butter (1 small stick)
1/2 cup Honey
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs (room temperature)
1/4 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Baking powder
1/3 tsp Cinnamon Powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 cup of Flour
1/2 cup Oats
1 cup Chopped Walnuts
- Preheat your oven to 350F. In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand up mixer, add the mashed bananas (over ripe
bananas are best, mine weren’t), a stick of butter, the honey, brown sugar, vanilla, eggs, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon powder and salt.
- Using the paddle attachment on medium speed, mix all the ingredients together, till it’s all combined. Don’t worry too much if there are a few banana lumps here and there.
- Add the flour and oats and barely mix it to come together. In fact you can just hand mix it.
- Add 3/4 cup of the chopped walnuts and fold in with a spatula or wooden spoon. You really don’t want to over beat this batter once you add the flour and oats to it, that’s what keeps it moist and crumbly.
- Pour the batter into a loaf tin and sprinkle the left over nuts over the top.
- Bake at 350F for 40-45 minutes. Check with a tooth pick to see if the bread is done. If the toothpick comes out clean after poking it through the center of the cake, it’s done.
Tip: You’ll probably notice the edges and bottom, brown fairly quickly, but if you’d like to see more color on the top of the bread, turn off the oven after it’s done and switch it to the broiler on high for a few minutes (maybe just 2-3 minutes), till the top is a nice golden. Keep a close eye on it!
Let cool.
Found through food gawker