Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Chocolate Cream Bundles with a Sweet Cream Basil Sauce

If you are looking to make a crowd pleasing unusual yet delicious mini-desert this recipe is for you. A few years ago my sister made a chocolate cake with a similar simple syrup basil sauce. I was skeptical at first, basil for dessert? I tasted it and wow, the combination of flavors are delicious.

1 small bunch basil (about 40-50 leaves)
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
6 oz Philadelphia Cream Cheese, divided
3 TBSP milk
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup fine quality cocoa
pinch salt
1 sheet Puff Pastry, thawed (1/2 of a 17.3 oz package)

1. In a small saucepan, bring sugar and water to a boil; simmer until the sugar is dissolved, 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool completely.
2. Blanch basil leaves in boiling water 30 seconds (this will help to keep the leaves a bright green)
3. Place in ice water bath. Drain again and put in a blender, add the simple syrup (sugar and water mixture) and 2 oz cream cheese
4. Blend 1 minute; set aside
5. In a medium bowl combine 4 oz cream cheese and milk well. Slowly add powdered sugar, mixing well.
6. Add cocoa and salt. Beat until well combined; set aside
7. Preheat oven to 400º. Unfold the pastry sheet on a lightly floured surface. Roll the pastry into a 12-inch square. Cut the pastry into 9 (4-inch) squares.
8. Finely chop 3 basil leaves and firmly press into the puff pastry squares
9. Place about 2 tablespoons chocolate cream mixture in the center of each square. Brush the edges of the squares with water.
10. Bring the corners of each square to the center on top of the filling. Twist tightly to seal, fanning out the corners. Place the pastries 2 inches apart on a baking sheet.
11. Bake the bundles for 15 minutes or until they're golden brown.
12. Serve with basil cream sauce for dipping


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Creamy Chicken Pasta

Now here is a delectable and easy pasta. I sometimes try and make a healthy pasta but I always end up adding a ton of butter, cream and cheese. I wouldn't call this pasta healthy but at least it doesn't have any butter or cheese in it, just a little cream :). I hope you will give it a try, it is really simple and delicious.

1 lb fusilli pasta (or your favorite short pasta)
2 cups heavy cream
4 TBSP dijon mustard
2 1/2 cups chicken breast, cooked and chopped
2 cups mushrooms, sliced
3 cups fresh spinach, chopped
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper

1. Cook pasta according to package directions
2. In a large skillet, heat cream and mustard. Add salt & pepper
3. Add chicken and mushrooms and heat thoroughly
4. Add pasta and spinach, toss well

Serves 6-8

Monday, May 9, 2011

Simple Sesame Vinaigrette

I'm back..... at least for today with a new post. I have been very lazy with my postings, well not exactly lazy... yes, yes lazy! I have been trying to eat healthy and I haven't been very inspired. I normally like thick, creamy dressings for salads but since that is NOT healthy I decided to experiment. I wanted something light but packed with flavor, so that is how this vinaigrette came to be. It is an easy, light dressing with lots of flavor but not so it defeats the purpose of eating a salad. This vinaigrette will not stick to your lettuce, but it is so gooooood! It is a great marinade for chicken too. Place chicken and vinaigrette in a ziploc for 2 hours remove chicken and grill or broil until done YUM!!!

1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
2 TBSP soy sauce
1-2 TBSP sesame oil
1 TBSP honey
1 tsp ginger, grated or finely chopped
2 TBSP sesame seeds

1. Place all ingredients in a glass jar, cover and shake vigorously until well combined.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Sopa De Pan en Cazuela (Colombian Bread Soup)

I am back and will be posting more often. Sopa de Pan en Cazuela literally means 'bread soup in a bowl' but that doesn't translate very well because where else would you serve soup but in a bowl? This soup might seem a little unusual or at least that is what I have been told but it is very good. It is very easy to make and I thought it would be the perfect send off before the really hot weather sets in. This recipe is really just a guideline, back home nobody uses exact measurements - adjust to your tastes. Some recipes have ham, beef, corn etc. but I am a purist and love this basic version. The recipe can be easily cut in half or made just for one. It is a complete meal in one delicious, steaming hot bowl, I hope you try it - enjoy!

12 slices toasted french bread
2 cups Mozzarella Cheese, cubed
12 cups Chicken Broth
2 tomatoes, seeded and finely chopped
2 small onion, finely chopped
3 TBSP butter
1/2 cup cilantro, finely chopped
cream (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees
2. In a medium pan melt butter and saute tomato and onion until soft
3. In 6 big, ovenproof bowls arrange layers as follows:
2 pieces of toasted bread
Sauteed tomato and onion mixture (evenly distributed among 6 bowls)
Mozzarella Cheese
Ketchup (a squirt in each bowl)
Ladle hot chicken broth to fill bowls
Sprinkle generously with Cilantro

4. Place bowls on a cookie sheet and in the oven for 6-8 minutes or until eggs are set.
5. Very carefully take out of the oven, add a tsp of cream to each bowl and serve.

Servings 6

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Mexican Chicken Enchiladas

These enchiladas are muy deliciosas! You have everything you need wrapped up in a little bundle - the veggie, protein, starch...I love mexican food but I rather cook it at home to make it a little healthier than the restaurant dishes. The pico de gallo gives you a fresh and crisp flavor with a little kick. I usually serve these alone but you can add a small salad or some refried beans on the side. If you are pressed for time you can use store bought salsa and tortillas....sooo good!

2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
1 jar mild taco sauce
1 1/2 cups mexican cheese blend, shredded
1 cup sour cream
1 cup yogurt
1 recipe pico de gallo (from this site:under sauces)
1 cup frozen corn, thawed and drained
8 flour tortillas (store-bought or from this site: under baking and sweets)

1. Combine the yogurt and sour cream
2. In a medium bowl combine the chicken, 1/2 jar taco sauce, 1 cup cheese, 1 cup of the sour cream and yogurt mixture, 1/2 recipe of pico de gallo and corn
3. Place about 1/2 cup of the filling in the center of each tortilla and roll up
4. Place in an 8x8-inch greased baking dish
5. Continue with the remaining filling and tortillas
6. Mix the remaining taco sauce, cheese, sour cream- yogurt mixture and pico de gallo then pour over the enchiladas
8. Place in a pre-heated 375º oven for 35-45 minutes or until brown and bubbly

Servings 4

Monday, March 7, 2011

Homemade Flour Tortillas

I think you have probably already noticed I like to make things from scratch and not only because I think it is healthier (no added preservatives) but I can also adjust ingredients to make it just how I want. These tortillas freeze well but do not last more than a day or two so freeze any leftover tortillas quickly but I have a feeling they won't be around long. I eat a lot of carbs, and I don't buy into the whole zero-carb policy, we need carbs for energy. I remember a friend at work a few years ago that was overweight - she went on a NO CARB diet and lost a lot of weight then the diet ended she ate one grain of rice and gained it all back. I think when people go on a diet, any diet they try to move more adding exercise, that is how you lose weight it's not the fault of my poor, delicious carbs! On that note since these tortillas are so easy to make I usually have them for breakfast with a little butter and cinnamon sugar sprinkled on top _YUM everything in moderation! I will be posting a mexican chicken enchilada recipe soon that is to die for with these homemade tortillas.

2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 tsp vegetable oil
3/4 cups warm milk

1. Mix together flour, baking powder, salt and oil in a medium bowl
2. Slowly add warm milk, stir with a large wooden spoon until sticky
3. Knead for 2 minutes on a floured surface
4. Place in a bowl and cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap for 25 minutes
5. Divide into 8 equal portions and roll into ball
6. Place on a plate and cover 10 minutes
7. Place 1 ball on floured surface, spread out to a 4-inch circle using the palm of your hand.
8. Then using a rolling pin, roll from center to make an 8-inch round; set aside and continue with remaining portions
9. In a greased skillet over high heat cook about 30 seconds per side or until done.

8 8-inch tortillas

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Excuse Me Sir Is That A Roach In My Rice???

I was in India in 2008 doing some volunteer work, let's just say I lost a lot of weight... a lot!!! Look at that black 'thing' below the spoon - is it or not? You can't see it too good because I tried to cover it up and you can't actually see the legs...ugh!

Excerpt from dinner in Dharamsala (

From my blog while I was there:
"Went to dinner with Ragu (an Indian from Bangalore) and had what he calls real Indian food, it turns out where I was going to take my Indian cooking classes - is not 'real' Indian food. He leaves on Friday and told me he would try to convince his mom to have a "cooking session" while he videotapes her.... ha,ha and then he'll send it to me.
Back to dinner, I ordered Veg Briyani and at some point I thought there was a roach in my rice (I had to struggle to swallow what was already in my mouth, not wanting to cause a scene) but after further dissection 'they' came to the conclusion it was just a chili pepper. I wasn't 100% convinced so dinner was too spicy anyways. I really do think it was a cockroach but I just 'buried' it with what was left....uuuggghhhhhh!
I later told Ragu if that was 'real' Indian food I might have second thoughts on getting his mom's recipes - he laughed and assured me it was a chili pepper yeah....... I have never seen a chilli pepper with legs, maybe it's a special Indian variety... I guess that was the last stage missing in my experience. What else can happen to my poor food? That's another place to check OFF my list, by the time I leave I hope to still have 1 or 2 places to go eat...."

I have mentioned that this blog would include the good and bad experiences with food.... clearly this was a bad one! Sorry to gross everyone out but I thought it was funny! Unfortunately after my few months in India I am no longer a huge fan of Indian food as I was before. I had one two many bad experiences and I don't miss it one bit! All in all I went to volunteer and not to eat but I never thought I would have such a hard time finding FOOD!!!!!! I renamed my blog soon after I arrived because it was apparent that my quest to find things to eat was part of the experience. It went from Just One Volunteer to an additional The Dharamsala Food Chronicles. On a good note I didn't get sick but if you would have seen the conditions of some of the kitchens I saw... that is truly a miracle!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Carrot Cake with Buttercream Frosting

This cake is moist and delicious! The buttercream frosting is sweet but not overpowering so it goes great with the cake. I went crazy this time and frosted the whole darn thing - top, sides, front and back - maybe a little much. I suggest just frosting the top :)

Ingredients for Cake
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 large carrots, peeled and grated (about 1 1/2 cups)
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 tsp orange rind, grated
1 tsp lemon rind, grated

Directions for Cake
1. Preheat the oven to 350º. Grease and flour a 9-1/2" x 4" x 2-1/2" loaf pan
2. Place the sugar, eggs, and oil in a medium bowl and using an electric mixer, beat for 2 minutes
3. In a small bowl combine the salt, flour, baking soda and cinnamon; add to the sugar mixture and beaton slow for 1 minute
4. Fold in the carrots, walnuts, orange rind and lemon rind
5. Pour the batter into 2 loaf pans and bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean
6. Remove from the loaf pans and allow to cool on a wire rack.

Ingredients for Buttercream Frosting
3 TBSP butter, softened
2 cups confectioner's sugar
1 1/2 TBSP milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Directions for Buttercream Frosting
1. In a medium bowl, cream the butter with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
2. Gradually beat in the sugar until well blended.
3. Beat in the milk and vanilla (if too thick add a few drops at a time of milk)

Servings 6

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Shells and Tuna Pasta Salad

This pasta salad is full of flavors - it is sweet, tangy, a little spicy and oh so good. It is great for picnics, pot lucks or just to take to work for lunch. If you are not a fan of capers you can substitute with pickles and depending on how spicy you can go, just adjust the curry by using mild, medium or the real hot stuff. I used mild because I am a wimp but it still adds a little kick.

1/2 lb small shell macaroni
1 can tuna in water, drained
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1 small carrot, shredded
2 TBSP capers, roughly chopped
1/4 cup dried cranberries or raisins, roughly chopped
For Dressing
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup milk
1 cup yogurt, plain
2 TBSP curry powder
2 TBSP lemon juice
1 tsp dry mustard
1 TBSP poppy seeds
2 TBSP parsley or cilantro, minced

1. Cook the pasta according to package directions; set aside and let cool
2. For the dressing combine all the ingredients in a bowl
3. In a large bowl add the tuna and flake well
4. Add the celery, carrot, capers, cranberries and mix well
5. Add the pasta and the dressing and gently combine until well blended
6. Place in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour to allow flavors to blend.

Tip : If the pasta dries out too much add more yogurt until it is moist. Serve over a few romaine lettuce leaves.
(optional: Add a diced apple, peas, or broccoli florettes)

Servings 4

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Grated Beets Russian Style

I don't think I have ever met anyone that likes beets, except for me and some family. I love beets and eat them often. I found this recipe a few years ago and it is so easy and good. Beets are also considered a super food so just because of that you should give them a try! It must be a culture thing because in Australia for example, they have diced beets at Subway as an option to add to your sandwich - I was in heaven! Come to think of it these grated beets would be great in a sandwich too, I am going to have to try it.

2 TBSP butter
4 cups coarsely chopped beets (about 2 large beets)
2 TBSP lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup water
1 TBSP flour
1/2 cup sour cream

1. Heat the butter in an 8-inch skillet
2. Add the betts, lemon juice, salt, pepper and water
3. Cover and cook over low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally
4. Sprinkle the flour over the beets, do not stir.
5. Cover and cook an additional 5 minutes
6. Serve with a dollop of sour cream

Servings 4

Friday, February 4, 2011

Happy Friday!!!

On Monday I will have more recipes, not sure about the menu yet but it will be good Super Bowl food. It won't be healthy and I can't wait, I am dying to be bad!!! So for now I am posting a few more images....

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Pico De Gallo (Fresh Salsa)

This is a very healthy tomato based sauce. It is also very versatile - you can eat it as a dip for chips, add to soups, serve over chicken or meat dishes. I thought it was going to be a lot harder to eat healthy but I have discovered many new and delicious recipes. I am going to use the Pico de Gallo as the 'sauce' over some chicken enchiladas, if it comes out good I will post later this week.

2 large tomatoes, seeded and finely diced
1/2 cup red onion, finely diced
1 TBSP jalapeño, finely chopped
juice of 1 lime
1/3 cup cilantro, finely chopped
1/4 cup water
salt & pepper to taste

1. Mix everything in a bowl
2. Cover and let sit in the refrigerator at least 1 hour

Makes 2 cups

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Series of Broken Eggs...

Happy Sunday! Well I haven't posted in a few days because I really haven't been cooking since my health kick began... All I have really made was the veggie soup I posted earlier this month. I have lost 4 lbs already, yippeee - that wasn't my goal though I just wanted to be healthier, losing weight is just an added plus (I have also been running about 3 miles a day - it all helps) This week, I will still be sticking to healthy food (except Super Bowl Sunday - there will be nothing healthy to eat that day :) but I will be making something different, I have that soup coming out of my ears!
I am instead posting a series of photos I recently took, the top photo is what I call digital art. I have been using this technique for a few years - in most cases it is abstract but in this one and due to the title of this post you know it's eggs. I will be back later this week with more recipes so stay tuned!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Homemade Bagels

I made these bagels this weekend and even though they were delicious, I needed to make a few adjustments. Now that I have, they are nice and crispy/crusty on the outside and chewy on the inside...YUM!! I used to make these for breakfast while I was running the B&B but it was so long ago, I felt like I was making them for the first time. So even if you are a first time baker this recipe is really not difficult, most of the time spent is waiting for the dough to rise. I always say nothing is better than your own homemade baked breads but of course you can get great bagels at certain deli's these days, I just think it's fun.

3 1/2 cups flour
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast (1 pkg.)
1 cup milk
4 TBSP butter
2 TBSP sugar
1 egg, separated
1 1/2 tsp salt
(optional) poppy seeds, sesame seeds, coarse salt, dried onion

1. Bring the milk to a boil, remove the pan from the heat and add the butter and sugar until melted and dissolved.
2. Pour the milk mixture into a large bowl and cool until tepid
3. Add the yeast to the milk mixture and stir until dissolved, set aside for 10 minutes or until frothy
4.Beat the egg white and salt into the yeast mixture, then gradually add the flour.
5. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead about 15 minutes
6. Form the dough into a ball and place in an oiled bowl; cover with a damp cloth and set aside in a warm place for an hour or until doubled in size
7. Divide the dough into 24 pieces; make a ball and using your index and forefinger poke through the center to make the hole.
8. Leave the rings on a floured surface until they start to rise, about 10 minutes
9. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, place bagels a few at a time in the boiling water and cook for 20 seconds or until they puff up. (Do not overcook of they will fall apart) Remove using a slotted spoon to a greased baking sheet
10. Mix the egg yolk with 1 tsp water and brush over the bagels. If you like, you can now sprinkle with toppings mentioned above.
11. Bake in a preheated 400º oven for about 20 minutes or until brown and crisp.

24 Bagels

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Soft & Delicious Dinner Rolls

I have been in the baking mode lately, and I had all but given up on making SOFT dinner rolls. I decided to dust off my previous attempts, adjust a few things and I actually got soft dinner rolls....yay!!! Most people are afraid of baking - so am I - but in a matter of a week I have made a GREAT pizza dough, these soft dinner rolls and bagels. I will post those next, they are so easy. I was always so afraid to have to boil dough before placing in the oven but thankfully it worked out - quite a successful day for me, can't say the same for my Bears & Jets (football play-offs) :(

1 envelope Active dry yeast
1/4 cup very warm water
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup scalding hot milk
1 egg –lightly beaten
4 1/2 cups of sifted all purpose flour
2 Tablespoons of melted butter for brushing rolls

1. Sprinkle the yeast over very warm water in a large bowl. Stir until yeast dissolves.
2. Add sugar, the 1/4 cup butter and salt to hot milk and stir until the sugar dissolves and butter is melted. Cool mixture to 105 to 115 degrees.
3. Add milk mixture to yeast, then beat in egg. Beat in 4 cups of flour, one cup at a time to form soft dough.
4. Knead the dough lightly for 5 minutes, working in the remaining flour (use if for flouring your cloth and hands).
5. Place dough in a warm buttered bowl; turn greased side up. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hrs.
6. Punch dough down and knead 4 to 5 minutes on a lightly floured surface. Dough will be sticky, but use as little flour as possible
7. Pinch off small chunks of dough and shape into round rolls. Place in even rows, not quite touching, in a well-buttered 13x9x2 pan.
8.Cover rolls and let rise in warm place until doubled, 30-45min.
9. Brush tops of rolls generously with melted butter, then bake in a 375′ oven for 18-20minutes or until nicely browned.

24 rolls

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Simple Squash

Not all of my recipes are complicated, take this squash, it can be done in 10 minutes or less and it is delicious! I always have some type of squash at home to use as a last minute veggie, they last a lot longer than most vegetables. One of my favorite food combinations is sweet & savory and this squash is exactly that.

1 small squash (choose your favorite, acorn or butternut squash are both good choices.)
2 TBSP brown sugar
olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

1. Cut the squash in half and take out the seeds
2. Prick with a fork or knife a few times throughout
3. Place in a microwave safe bowl with 1/2 cup water on the bottom, cover
4. Cook on high for 4 minutes
5. Remove from microwave, add 1 TBSP brown sugar in each hole and rub flesh with olive oil
6. Salt & Pepper to taste and return to the microwave
7. Cook on high an additional 4 minutes
8. Carefully remove from microwave and spread a small amount of the brown sugar 'syrup' all around

Tip: This is easy to double, just adjust your microwave time

Servings 1

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Perfect Pizza Crust

I think I got it or at least as good as it's going to get without getting a brick oven installed at home. This crust is the best I have made, crispy on the outside with a bit of chewy in the thin middle. I am a purist when it comes to pizza, just the basics, my favorite is Margherita (tomato sauce, a bit of cheese and basil) but you can go crazy and add your favorite toppings. This recipe is really just for the crust, to complete the pizza add your tomato sauce, cheese and toppings. I made 2 batches of this recipe and froze half with the works to see how it will turn out once cooked... I will let you all know. I thought it would be great to have a homemade pizza right out of the freezer when you are in the mood, which I am quite often - I probably don't even have to freeze it but since I am being healthy I have to ration my guilty pleasures :)

2 tsp active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup warm water, 105 to 115 degrees F
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus additional for brushing

1. In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast and sugar in 1/4 cup warm water.
2. In a large bowl, combine the flour and the salt.
3. Add the oil, the yeast mixture, and the remaining 3/4 cup of water.
4. Mix until the entire mixture forms a ball.
5. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface.
6. Knead by hand 2 or 3 minutes. The dough should be smooth and firm.
7. Cover the dough with a clean, damp towel and let it rise in a cool spot for about 2 hours.
8. Divide the dough into 2 balls.
9. Work each ball by pulling down the sides and tucking under the bottom of the ball. Repeat 4 or 5 times.
10. Cover the dough with a damp towel and let rest 1 hour. (At this point, the balls can be wrapped in plastic and refrigerated for up to 2 days or frozen for up to 6 months).
11. Preheat oven to 500º F. Lightly oil cookie sheet with extra-virgin olive oil. Roll out dough ball, on a lightly floured surface - to the shape desired
12. Carefully transfer dough to cookie sheet
13. Add sauce, cheese and toppings.
14. Cook for 10 - 12 minutes, or until crust is cooked and cheese is bubbling

Servings: 2 (large) personal sized pizzas

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Mushroom 'Carpaccio'

I first had this salad at The Melting Pot years ago and I loved it so much that I naturally tried to copy it. It is very simple, using just the most basic and fresh ingredients that result in a burst of delicious flavors. If you are looking for a fast, different and delicious salad give this one a try. You can also serve on a bed of baby romaine lettuce.

12 oz button mushrooms, sliced thin
4 TBSP olive oil
4 TBSP lemon juice, fresh
2 TBSP fresh parsley, finely chopped
salt & pepper to taste
1/3 cup parmesan cheese, shaved

1. Add the lemon juice to a small bowl; whisk in the olive oil until emulsified. Add salt to taste
2. Cover the bottom of a salad plate with a layer of mushrooms
3. Add freshly ground pepper
4. Top with parmesan shavings
5. Sprinkle parsley over mushrooms
6. Drizzle with dressing

Servings 2

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Cucumber Raita (Indian Yogurt Sauce)

Raita is a cool, salty yogurt dip used as a condiment to temper the heat in spicy dishes. I ordered raita in India because I knew the main dish was going to be spicy, like most food there, and it turned out the raita was just as spicy.... I am not sure if that was common or if the waiters were having fun with me :) I did have it many times after that and it was cool and refreshing, by the end of my trip I was ordering raita and plain rice as my meal, mixed together yum! The raita compliments any spicy dish so give it a try, it is great with curries!

1 cup yogurt, plain and drained
1 cup cucumber, seeded, diced and drained
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 TBSP fresh mint, finely chopped

1. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and mix well
2. Refrigerate 1 hour to allow flavors to blend

Tip #1: To drain the yogurt, line a sieve with paper coffee filters pour in about 2 cups of yogurt, place over a bowl, cover and let sit overnight in the refrigerator.
Tip #2: To drain the cucumber, after diced place in a colander and sprinkle with salt; let sit 30 minutes. Using a paper towel squeeze out excess water.

Makes 1 1/2 cups

Monday, January 17, 2011

Chicken & Veggie Soup

I can't seem to get enough of this soup! I have made it 3 times already this year. Since I have been in 'healthy' mode I have found this soup to be the most satisfying. For a starch I have made it with potatoes, yuca, and noodles but by far my favorite is brown rice, you can add your favorite. This is also great with homemade broth but I didn't have time so I just used store bought broth - it was delicious! Not cooking the chicken in the soup makes it less greasy, which is an added plus. It is my birthday this week so I will be going out for PIZZA!!!! Good thing I have been having plenty of this healthy soup... it's time to be a little bad :)

1 TBSP olive oil
1 cup onion, sliced
3 cups carrots, sliced 1" pieces
1/2 cup brown rice (raw- not pre-cooked or par-boiled)
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt
8 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1 sprig each of parsley and cilantro (leave whole, you will remove when done)
1 cup fresh peas
2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded

1. Heal the oil in a large pot, add onion and sauté until translucent
2. Add next six ingredients and cook about 5 minutes, stirring
3. Add broth and sprigs of parsley and cilantro; bring to a boil
4. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes
5. Add peas, adjust seasoning and simmer and additional 5-10 minutes or until brown rice is done
6. Add the chicken heat through and serve

Tip: I serve this with sliced limes, finely chopped cilantro and garlic toast.
Optional Additions: 1 TBSP sliced fresh ginger, 1 cup fresh mushrooms, 1 cup thawed, chopped and drained frozen spinach, 1 cup peeled, seeded, and diced tomatoes. Any one of these can be added in Step 2

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Coffee Coffee Cake

Well here's another sweet....this turned out better than expected, I tried something a little different from my usual coffee cake - I made a center filling with instant espresso and powdered sugar - YUM!. At some point I am going to have to stop saying I 'hate' sweets because apparently I don't. I haven't posted too many but enough to make me think I just might like them a little.....

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sifted all-purpose flour
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon cinnamon

3 tsp instant coffee (espresso)
1/2 cup powdered sugar

1 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup melted butter
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Topping - In small mixing bowl, combine topping ingredients. Blend with fork until crumbly; set aside.
2. Filling - Combine center ingredients well; set aside
3. Cake - Combine 1 1/2 cups flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl.
4. In a medium bowl, beat together beaten egg, 3/4 cup sugar and 1/3 cup melted butter.
5. Add milk and vanilla. Stir in flour mixture and mix well.
6. Pour half of the batter into a greased and floured 8-inch square pan.
7. Sprinkle the filling mixture evenly over the top
8. Pour in the rest of the batter
9. Sprinkle topping crumb mixture evenly over batter.
10. Bake at 375° for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a knife comes out clean.

Servings 6

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Is this a sandwich??

Warning: This blog is also about my encounters with food... good and BAD!
How can you go sooo-oooo wrong with a sandwich?? Well I found out the hard way, let me elaborate. Don't you just hate it when you order something and it's just not what you expected at all, well this has happened to me more times than I can count maybe that is why I like to cook so much and make things from scratch. That delightful 'sandwich' in the picture was actually being sold. I bought it in India a while back, can you believe they really sell something like that? I will not go into too much detail but that was not mayo...ugh! Bad bread, 1 cucumber, a tomato peel and a 'special' white sauce.
I was so offended that the next day (with only a few words of Hindi under my belt) I returned to the place and demanded my money back. The guy tried to say it was a mistake and that not all of his 'sandwiches' were like that so I naturally asked him to open up one from a stack behind him to prove it and he refused.... I got my money back, all 25 rupees - about 50 cents but it was the point, yay!
Before leaving, to never return to his 'establishment' I asked him what that white crap was and even he didn't know, he just said he bought barrels of it.... yuck. So if you ever think that you can't go wrong with a sandwich - think again! I had the taste of that white goop in my mouth for hours and as you can see I only had one bite.
They also have yet to master the art of good sandwich bread, it had the texture of a mix of sand and cardboard. I will say that a 'sandwich' isn't exactly what Indians eat so they have no idea how it should be... so my advice is to stick to what you know.
I normally wouldn't go and ask for my money back or be so uptight but this sandwich ordeal came one day after I found a roach in my veg fried rice and almost ate it (that is another fun story!) so let's just say I had had enough and my poor 'sandwich' guy was at the receiving end.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Everything But the Kitchen Sink Rice

It's rice again...I know in the US eating leftovers all mixed in with rice and two fried eggs on top is not very common. In Colombia it is so popular that even restaurants serve the so called 'calentado', in that case I sure hope they don't actually use everybody's leftovers - that would be quite unsanitary and well gross! The only required ingredient is rice then you cut everything else you have meat, chicken, potatoes, veggies, basically any leftovers cut into small equal pieces. I usually add soy sauce but you can add your favorite sauce maybe teriyaki, Thai chili, a spicy blend even steak sauce.
The downfall of this is that you will never be able to duplicate it since it is unlikely you will have the same exact leftovers in the future. It is kind of like a latin fried rice.

2 cups cooked rice (brown or white)
2 TBSP olive oil
1/2 cup onion, diced
1/2 cup celery, diced
1 cup any leftover chicken, meat, chorizo or pork, diced
1 cup of any leftover vegetables, diced if needed
4 TBSP low sodium soy sauce

1. In a large frying pan over medium heat add the olive oil, onion and celery; sauté until onion is translucent
2. Add the remaining ingredients until heated through

Tip: I sometimes have this with 2 fried eggs on top
You can use frozen peas, corn or mixed vegetables

Servings 4

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Kitchen Tips and Tricks...Part 1

Below is a list of very helpful kitchen tips I have learned throughout the years. Some we all know about but I bet there will be one or two that will be helpful. I will periodically post kitchen tips and tricks, let me know if these were helpful?

1. Stuff a miniature marshmallow in the bottom of a sugar cone to prevent ice cream drips.

2. Use a meat baster to "squeeze" your pancake batter onto the hot griddle - perfect shaped pancakes.

3. To keep potatoes from budding, place an apple in the bag with the potatoes.

4. To prevent egg shells from cracking, add a pinch of salt to the water before hard-boiling.

5. To get the most juice out of fresh lemons, bring them to room temperature & roll them under your palm against the kitchen counter before squeezing.

6. To easily remove burnt-on food from your skillet, simply add a drop or two of dish soap and enough water to cover bottom of pan, and bring to a boil on stovetop-skillet will be much easier to clean.

7. When boiling corn on the cob, add a pinch of sugar to help bring out the corn's natural sweetness.

8. To determine whether an egg is fresh, immerse it in a pan of cool, salted water. If it sinks, it is fresh-if it rises to the surface, throw it away.

9. Don't throw out all that leftover wine: Freeze into ice cubes for future use in casseroles and sauces.

10. Potatoes will take food stains off your fingers. Just slice and rub raw potato on the stains and rinse with water.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Mini Meat Loaves

These little meat loaves are sweet, savory, moist and delicious. The topping is ketchup, tomato and pineapple pieces, it goes really well with the savory meat. You can also make this as one big loaf, just adjust the time.

2 lbs. lean ground beef
1 cup bread crumbs
1/3 cup ketchup
1/4 cup onion, finely chopped
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup tomato, finely chopped
1/2 cup pineapple, finely diced

1. Combine first 9 ingredients in a medium bowl.
2. Grease a cookie sheet
3. Fill a 1 cup glass (ramekin or pyrex) with the mixture to form a mold, overturn on the cookie sheet; Continue with remaining meat
4. Bake in a 350º oven for 25 minutes; remove from the oven
5. Combine the remaining ketchup, tomato and pineapple; spoon over the meat loaves evenly
6. Bake 15 minutes longer. Let stand 5 minutes

Servings 6