Welcome to my Food Blog!

Welcome! My name is Anne, aka ThePharmGirl. In 2010, I successfully made 100 recipes as a New Year's Resolution to expand my culinary repertoire and cooking skills beyond the frozen microwave dinner. This blog is a continuation of my culinary journey and serves as my personal virtual recipe box. Sometimes I like to have fun-- Check out my Muppet Mania Menu, The 12 Days of Christmas, and my Musical-themed recipes.

My current mission(s) for 2017:
* Use the Spiralizer at least once per week for healthy veggie-rich meals
* Continue to spin from the Wheel of Meals for recipe inspiration

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Sausage, Chicken, and White-Bean Gratin


I wanted a warm and filling dish for a cold winter evening, and this cassoulet-inspired recipe fit the bill.  I liked it, and we had enough leftovers for several meals which were still good the next couple days.

Sausage, Chicken, and White-Bean Gratin
Recipe from One Pot
Serves 10

Ingredients:
1&1/2 cups coarse fresh breadcrumbs
3/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon fresh chopped thyme leaves
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon thinly sliced fresh sage leaves
salt and pepper
4 ounces bacon (about 4 slices)
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts halves (~1 lb), cut into cubes
1&1/2 lbs sweet Italian sausage, cut into 1/2" pieces
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 cans (14.5 oz each) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes, drained
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth

Directions:
Combine breadcrumbs, cheese, 1 tablespoon parsley, 1 tablespoon thyme, 1 teaspoon rosemary, 1/2 teaspoon sage, and salt and pepper to taste.  Set aside.

In a dutch oven, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp.  Transfer to paper towels.

Add chicken to pot and cook until browned, about 6 minutes.  Transfer to a plate.   Add the sausage and cook until browned, about 5 minutes.   Transfer to plate.  

Drain all but 2 tablespoons fat.  Add garlic and onion to the pot and cook until soft, about 3 minutes.  Add wine and cook until most of the liquid evaporates, about 2 minutes, scraping up brown bits with a wooden spoon.

Stir in the chicken, sausage, beans, tomatoes, broth, and remaining 2 tablespoons parsley, 1 teaspoon rosemary, 1 teaspoon thyme, and 1/2 teaspoon sage.  Season with salt and pepper.  Sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture over the top.

Cover pot and bake at 375º until bubbling, about 20 minutes.  Uncover and bake until golden brown, another 10 minutes.  Crumble bacon on top and serve.


Thursday, December 1, 2016

Salmon en Croûte with Roasted Purple Cauliflower


I saw this Salmon recipe in the free Walgreens WebMD Diabetes magazine and decided to give it a try.  I thought it was excellent.  The salmon was juicy and had a nice lemon flavor, the spinach was good, the basil-cream cheese mixture added delicious creaminess, and the phyllo contributed an interesting crunch factor.  I baked some purple cauliflower along with it for vibrant color and a healthy side dish.  Note: My salmon from the meat department was only 1 pound and it just barely fit wrapped in the phyllo, but I also had a lot more spinach mixture because I didn't pare down the rest of the recipe.

Salmon en Croûte
Recipe from Walgreens WebMD Diabetes Magazine
Serves 4-6

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
10 oz pkg frozen spinach, thawed
juice and zest of 1 lemon
4 oz cream cheese, softened
4 tablespoons basil pesto
6 sheets phyllo dough, defrosted
1 large skinless fillet wild salmon (~1&1/2 lbs)

Directions:
Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon olive oil.  Add garlic and cook about 30 seconds until fragrant.  Add spinach and cook until heated through.  Remove from heat and add in lemon juice.  Set aside to cook.  Set oven to 400º.

Mix together the cream cheese, pesto, and lemon zest.  Set aside.

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or nonstick aluminum foil.  Place a sheet of phyllo on the sheet and brush with olive oil.  Place another sheet of phyllo on top of the first and brush with oil.  Continue layering with the remaining phyllo sheets.

Spread the cream cheese mixture on the phyllo, leaving a one-inch border.  Place the salmon across the width of the phyllo, about 1/3 from the bottom.  Spread the cooled spinach mixture on top of the salmon.

Wrap the salmon in phyllo, folding the bottom edge up and top edge down.  Fold edges to seal.  Brush with remaining olive oil.  (At this point you could chill the salmon for 3-4 hours until ready to bake it).

Bake at 400º for 25 minutes until the pastry is crisp and golden.

For the cauliflower:  I just tossed it in olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic, and put in on the same pan as the salmon.  It was a nice crisp-tender at the same time and temperature.



Saturday, November 26, 2016

Mini Pumpkin Whoopie Pies


I decided to make something a little non-traditional for my Thanksgiving potluck item.  I thought they tasted great, kind of similar to a bite of pumpkin cake roll.  I especially loved the cream cheese filling.  And I like that they are a nice small bite which is needed after the big Thanksgiving meal.  Gobble, gobble 'em up!

Mini Pumpkin Whoopie Pies
Makes 36 pies

Ingredients:
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1&1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 can (15 oz) pure pumpkin
1&3/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt

Filling:
4 oz cream cheese, softened
4 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1&1/2 cups powdered sugar

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350º and line 4 baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpat mats.

In the bowl of a standing mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed for 2 minutes.  Add eggs, one at a time, and beat well after each addition.  Add the vanilla and pumpkin and beat until smooth.

In a separate large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.  Add dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture and stir until combined.   Drop by tablespoon onto the baking sheets  (18 per pan) or using a piping bag for a rounder, smoother cookie.

Bake at 350º for 11-12 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool completely on wire racks.

To make the filling, beat the cream cheese and butter on medium speed until fluffy. Add the vanilla and maple syrup, and then gradually beat in the powdered sugar.

To assemble, spread or pipe the cream cheese filling on the flat side of one cookie.  Top with another cookie.  Store in fridge to prevent filling from getting too soft and melting.



Thursday, October 20, 2016

Fresh Herb Focaccia


I feel like Oprah: "I love bread." haha.  I just happened to have all the fresh herbs from my herb garden (rosemary, thyme, parsley, and chives), so I went for it.   The top of the bread got a little more brown than I would have preferred (I forgot to check on it in the oven), but the inside was still soft and the bread tastes awesome.  I just ate it as it and thought it was delicious, but tomorrow I think I'll cut a slice in half and make a sandwich.  I'd definitely bake this again!

Fresh Herb Focaccia
Makes two 8" focaccia

Ingredients:
1 package active dry yeast
1 cup warm water, divided
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzle
2&3/4 cups flour, plus extra for kneading
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives
coarse salt

Directions:
In the bowl of a stand mixer, stir together the yeast and 1/4 cup warm water; mix in the honey.  Let stand for 10 minutes to proof until the yeast has bloomed and is frothy.

Add the remaining water, olive oil, flour, salt, and herbs.  Mix on low speed until dough comes together.  Increase speed to medium-high and knead for about 5-8 minutes until dough is smooth and elastic.  Dump dough onto a lightly floured surface and form into a ball.

Wipe a large bowl with olive oil and place dough in bowl, turning to coat.  Cover with a damp towel and place in a warm, draft-free place.  Let rise for 90 minutes or until doubled in size.  Punch dough down and return to lightly floured surface.  Divide dough in two.

Lightly oil two 8" baking pans.  Stretch each portion of dough to fit in the pans with even thickness.  Cover with towel and set in a warm place for 60 minutes until doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 450º.   Use fingers to make indentations in the dough.  Bake for ~13-15 minutes until focaccia is golden.  Brush the tops with olive oil and sprinkle with coarse salt.  Remove from pans and let cool on wire rack.



Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Mini Strawberry Pavlovas


I had egg whites to use after using yolks for another recipe so I decided to make this sweet and airy dessert.  I love meringue.  It was all soft and marshmallow-y on the inside (see my photo below where I broke off part of the outer shell to get a view of the inside). Soooo good.   I chose to use store-bought whipped cream because that's what I had on hand.  As far as desserts go, it doesn't break the calorie bank that way.  Win-win.  Also, the shells kept well for several days.

Pavlova
(Makes 1 big 9" pavlova or 8 mini-pavlovas)

Ingredients:
4 egg whites (at room temperature)
1 cup sugar
1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon white vinegar
Topping:
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon sugar
2 cups fruit (diced, sliced, or whatever)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 275º and line one or two baking sheets with Silpat mats or parchment paper.

In one small bowl, mix together the sugar and cornstarch.  In another small bowl, mix the vanilla and vinegar.   In the large bowl of your electric mixer, pour the egg whites and beat at low speed to start, gradually increasing the speed to medium.  When the whites reach soft peaks and the beaters leave trail marks, start adding the sugar a few tablespoons at a time while also gradually increasing the speed so that you're at max speed by the time all the sugar is added.  Continue whipping until meringue holds stiff peaks.  Add the vanilla/vinegar and beat for another 20 seconds.

Immediately transfer the meringue to the prepared baking sheet, forming one big 9" circle on a single sheet or 8 smaller mounds on two sheets.  Even out the layer or create a dip in the center for the fruit.

Turn the heat down to 250º and bake for ~55-60 minutes for the large pavlova or ~40-45 minutes for the mini pavlovas.  They are done when the outside is dry to the touch, slightly browned, and sound hollow when tapped.    Turn the oven off, but leave the pavlovas in the oven with the door ajar until cooled off.   (Can be stored in plastic bags or airtight containers for several days at this point.)

Make the whipped cream by mixing together the cream, vanilla, and sugar until stiff peaks form.  Spread over the pavlova shells and top with fruit of your choice.


Sunday, October 9, 2016

Fresh Mint Chip Ice Cream


It was time to harvest my herbs, and I didn't want to dry my mint.  It's just so much better fresh.  So I decided to make ice cream as a nice treat.  I found this recipe online at TheBestMintChipIceCream.  Six egg yolks seemed like a lot, but egg whites keep well so I saved those for another recipe.   Although it took a lot of time to make, this ice cream was worth it.  The fresh mint flavor really pops and tastes much different than mint extract.  And I liked the chocolate bits--of course!  No seriously, the chocolate bits are good-they are somewhat soft in the ice cream, not overly hard.  Two thumbs up.  

Fresh Mint Chip Ice Cream
Recipe adapted slightly from Online Source
Makes 1 quart

Ingredients:
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk (I used skim milk and it worked just fine)
1 large bunch fresh mint leaves (I used ~2 heaping cups/fistfuls of leaves)
6 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
4 ounces dark chocolate (I used semisweet baking squares)
2 teaspoons vegetable or canola oil

Directions:
In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, bring cream and milk to a simmer.   Remove from the heat, stir in the mint leaves, cover, and let steep for 2 hours.

In another heavy bottomed saucepan, whisk together the eggs and sugar until well combined.  Quickly strain the mint-infused milk/cream into the pot with the eggs.  Really press hard on the mint leaves in the strainer to extract as much flavor as possible.  Discard the leaves.  Whisk the mixture and set over medium heat, whisking frequently, until a coating forms on a spoon and a finger swiped across the back of the spoon leaves a clean line (custard temperature reaches 170ºF).  Add salt to taste.

Pour custard through a fine mesh strainer into an airtight container and chill in an ice bath (4 hours) or in the fridge overnight until temperature drops to 40ºF.

Pour cold mixture into an ice cream machine according to manufacturer's directions.   While it churns, melt chocolate in the microwave and stir to combine with oil.  At the end of the churning, drizzle chocolate into the ice cream to form thin lines of chocolate which will break into small chips.   Transfer ice cream to an airtight container and freeze for at least 4 hours before serving.




Monday, August 29, 2016

Kansas City Ribs


This is my favorite style of ribs: a good rub and lots of sweet barbeque sauce.   I bought boneless country-style ribs because they were on sale at the store and just adjusted the time (much less time was needed for the boneless).  I did 90 minutes in a 300º oven, then finished off on the grill for 10-15 minutes with the sauce.  They were a little over-done for my taste.  Next time, I'd just get the regular ribs and follow the directions listed below.  Lesson learned. The taste of the rub and sauce was awesome though.

Kansas City Ribs
from Better Homes and Gardens: Grill It!

Ingredients:
4-5 pound pork loin back ribs
Rub:
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon celery salt
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Sauce:
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup ketchup
1/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions:
Place ribs in shallow roasting pan.  Stir together the rub ingredients and sprinkle evenly over all sides of the pork.  Rub it in with your fingers.  Cover pan with foil and bake at 350º for 2 hours until tender.

Meanwhile, for the sauce, in a medium saucepan over medium heat, cook the onion and garlic in butter for 5 minutes or until tender.  Stir in all the other sauce ingredients and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 20-25 minutes or until desired consistency.

Grill ribs over medium heat for 10-15 minutes, turning and brushing with sauce every few minutes.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

S'mores Cookies

I decided to experiment a little and make a fun twist on a chocolate chip cookie.  I found a recipe online and tweaked it a bit to get the results I wanted.  They tasted great.  I made 4 dozen cookies to share with friends, and every last one was gone by the end of the day. :)

S'mores Cookies
Makes 2 dozen cookies

Ingredients:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1&1/3 cups flour
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 to 1 cup mini marshmallows

Directions:
Use a mixer to cream the butter and both sugars until fluffy.  Add the egg and vanilla and beat for 2 minutes.

In another bowl, whisk together the flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder, and salt.  Slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix on low speed until the dough starts to come together.  Stir in the chocolate chips.

Surround a marshmallow with dough to make a ball, a little larger than tablespoon-sized.  Place 12 balls of dough on a Silpat-lined (or greased) baking sheet and bake for 7 minutes at 350º.  Remove sheet from oven and press 1 to 3 marshmallows in the top of each cookie while they are still warm and not fully cooked.   Return to oven and bake about 3-4 minutes longer to finish cooking.  Cool on a wire rack.



Thursday, August 25, 2016

Gnocchi with Asparagus and Basil Pesto


I'm always looking for ways to use the basil in my garden.  This was a good recipe.  I served it with some grilled chicken wings because Jeremy needs his meat for dinner, but it was filling enough to be a main course on its own.  Many someday I'll make my own homemade gnocchi, but for tonight, this was fast and easy.

Gnocchi with Asparagus and Basil Pesto
Serves 4

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 lb package of potato gnocchi
1 bunch asparagus, top half chopped into 1" pieces
1/3 cup Basil Pesto
Parmesan cheese, for serving


Basil Pesto:
2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1/4 cup pine nuts
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano cheese
salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:
To make the pesto, combine the basil, garlic, and pine nuts in a food processor.  Pulse until chopped, then slowly add the oil with the motor running until smooth.  Add the cheese and pulse until combined.  Season with salt and pepper.  Set aside.

Cook the gnocchi for a few minutes in boiling water (as directed on packaging) until they float to the surface.  Drain.  In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add the asparagus and gnocchi and cook about 3 minutes.  Turn the gnocchi and cook another 3 minutes until golden and crisp.  Off the heat, stir in about 1/3 cup basil pesto.  Serve with a little freshly shaved Parmesan cheese.

Caprese Panini with Balsamic Syrup


I had some tomatoes, basil, and fresh mozzarella left over from the previous dinner recipe, so this made a delicious lunch sandwich.  You can't see the balsamic syrup in the photo, but it added really nice flavor to the sandwich.

Caprese Panini with Bacon and Balsamic Syrup

Ingredients:
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 slices bread
1/2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
3-4 large basil leaves
2 thin slices fresh mozzarella cheese (just enough to cover bread)
2 slices bacon
2 thin tomato slices
pinch salt
pinch pepper
cooking spray

Directions:
Bring balsamic vinegar to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat and cook until reduced to 1-2 tablespoons (~5-7 minutes).

Brush outer sides of bread slices with olive oil.  Brush the balsamic syrup on the inside of the bread slices.  Top the inside slice with basil leaves, cheese, bacon, and tomato.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Heat a large grill pan over medium-high heat and coat with cooking spray.  Add sandwich to pan and place a heavy skillet on top and gently press to flatten.  Cook 3 minutes each side or until cheese melts and bread is toasted.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Caprese Chicken and Italian Baked Zucchini


Classic combo of basil, tomatoes, and fresh mozzarella added to a chicken breast with a balsamic vinegar reduction.  Delicious.  I really liked the balsamic reduction sauce.  It made the photo uglier, but the flavor really blended well with the tomatoes and chicken and added extra moisture.  Instead of grape or cherry tomatoes, I just used slices of a regular tomato because that's what I had on hand. For the zucchini, I just sprinkled oil and various herbs and Parmesan cheese over the spears and baked until crisp-tender.

Caprese Chicken for 2

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
salt and pepper
Italian seasoning
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 tomato slices (or a handful of halved grape tomatoes)
2 tablespoons shredded basil, plus extra for garnish
2-4 slices fresh mozzarella (depends on size)

Directions:
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Season chicken with salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning, and cook until golden and cooked through, about 6-7 minutes per side.  Transfer to a plate.

Add balsamic vinegar to the skillet to deglaze, then add garlic and stir 30 seconds.  Add tomatoes and season with salt.  Let simmer for 5 minutes.  Stir in basil.

Return chicken to the skillet between the tomatoes.  Top each chicken with enough mozzarella to cover the breast and cover with a lid for a couple minutes to melt the cheese.

To plate, spoon tomatoes over the chicken and top with some fresh basil.
*****

Baked Zucchini for 2

Cut a zucchini lengthwise into 4 spears.  Drizzle some extra-virgin olive oil over the spears, and sprinkle with a little salt, pepper, dried oregano, dried thyme, garlic powder, and grated Parmesan cheese.  Bake at 350º for 12-15 minutes until desired level of tenderness.  Serve warm.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Lemon-Thyme Baked Salmon


This recipe was fabulous.  I have a lot of lemon thyme growing in my herb garden, so I looked around for a good recipe that would utilize it and found this one online by Baker by Nature.  I adjusted the quantities a bit and kind of eyeballed amounts. Whatever I did, it worked.   It was fast, easy, and delicious.  This recipe is definitely a keeper.

Lemon-Thyme Baked Salmon
Recipe slightly adapted from Baker by Nature webpage
Serves 2

Ingredients:
2 (~6 oz) salmon fillets
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves (I probably used more)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
lemon wedges, for serving

Directions:
Whisk together the lemon zest, garlic, thyme, salt, pepper, honey, and lemon juice.  Spoon sauce over the salmon fillets, generously coating the fish.   Place fish on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or nonstick aluminum foil.  Bake at 400º for 13-15 minutes until salmon is done.  Serve with lemon wedges.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Hoisin Chicken Udon Noodles


I had some dry udon noodles in my cupboard and a lot of green onions in my garden, so I decided to make this Asian-inspired dish.  I chose not to add sriracha because I didn't have any on hand and it might have gotten too spicy for me.  Overall, it was a tasty meal.

Hoisin Chicken Udon Noodles
Serves 4

Ingredients:
8oz udon noodles
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into small pieces
1 tablespoon sesame seed oil
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/3 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon sriracha sauce (I skipped this)
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 small head broccoli, chopped into small florets
3 green onions, chopped
black pepper to taste

Directions:
Cook udon noodles according to package directions.  Drain well and rinse.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil and sesame seed oil in a large skillet.  Add the chicken pieces and cook until chicken starts to brown slightly.  Add the ginger, garlic, and broccoli, and cook for a couple more minutes.  Add the soy sauce, hoisin, sriracha, and chicken broth, and bring to a boil.  Add the noodles and stir until everything is heated through.   Serve with green onions as a garnish.


Saturday, August 6, 2016

Marinated Grilled Chicken Thighs


This marinade was awesome.  I really liked the flavor, and I'll definitely use it again.  It would work well with chicken breasts, pork, fish, whatever.   Grilling really helped bring out the caramelization flavor of the honey marinade.  I used thighs because they were on sale at the store.  I like them because they stay juicy and flavorful and the portion size is just right for me.   Winner.

Marinated Grilled Chicken Thighs
Serves 4-6

Ingredients:
1&1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
lemon wedges (optional)

Directions:
Whisk together the garlic, oil, mustard, vinegar, honey, salt, pepper, rosemary, and thyme.  Pour into a large resealable plastic bag.  Add the chicken and turn to coat.  Allow to marinate in the fridge for at least one hour or up to 24 hours.

Grill chicken thighs over medium heat for about 5 minutes per side or until an internal temperature of 165º has been reached.  Allow to rest for 5 minutes and top with juice from lemon.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Grilled Monterey Chicken


This was an easy and delicious weeknight meal.  I love grilling chicken because the meat stays tender and juicy.  I liked the mustardy grilled flavor of the chicken, and the addition of cheese, bacon, and salsa added extra punch.   I served it with grilled corn on the cob and a side salad of lettuce from my garden.  Light and yummy!

Monterey Chicken
Recipe adapted from America's Test Kitchen: Master of the Grill
Serves 4

Ingredients:
1/2 cup Dijon mustard
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
4 (6 oz) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded thin
4 slices bacon, cooked and chopped
4 slices Pepper-Jack cheese

Pico de Gallo:
2 tomatoes, cored and chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 jalapeño pepper, stemmed, seeded, and minced
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 garlic cloves, minced
salt and pepper

Directions:
In a small bowl, whisk together the mustard, honey, salt, and pepper.  Reserve 1/4 cup for basting chicken on grill.  Pour the remainder into a gallon sized resealable plastic bag.  Add the chicken to the bag and toss to coat.  Seal and refrigerate for at least an hour.

When ready, grill chicken breasts over medium heat for 5 minutes.  Flip, brush with reserved honey-mustard sauce, and grill for another 5 minutes.  Place a slice of cheese on top of each chicken breast, cover, and cook for about 2 more minutes, until cheese is melted and chicken is done.   Serve chicken topped with homemade Pico de Gallo and crumbled bacon.


Friday, July 15, 2016

Moroccan-Spiced Chicken Kabobs with Lemon Yogurt Sauce and Couscous


We were hosting a guest, and I thought this would be a good recipe that I could prepare ahead of time and then throw on the grill when we were ready to eat.   It turned out excellent.  We all enjoyed the flavor of the chicken.  I liked the yogurt dipping sauce as well, although the recipe made WAY too much and I'd recommend cutting it in half.  As a bonus, I was able to use a lot of fresh mint from my herb garden.  The recipe looks long, but it was easy.  I made a salad and Moroccan Couscous recipe to go along with our kabobs because it's super fast to prepare. I liked the cinnamon flavor of the couscous.

Moroccan-Spiced Chicken Kabobs with Lemon Yogurt Sauce
Recipe from Weber's Best Summer Grilling Recipes
Serves 4

Marinade Ingredients:
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves
1/4 cup chopped mint leaves
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons honey
1&1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

4 (6oz each) boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into 1&1/2" pieces

Sauce:
2 cups whole-milk plain Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh mint leaves
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 large red bell pepper, cut into 1&1/2" squares
1 large green bell pepper, cut into 1&1/2"squares
1 small red onion, cut into 8 wedges and separated into layers

Directions:
Whisk the marinade ingredients.  Pour 1/4 cup of marinade into a medium bowl and reserve for the vegetables.  Place the chicken in a large resealable plastic bag and pour in the marinade. Seal and turn to distribute the marinade.  Refrigerate for 4 hours, turning occasionally.

Whisk the sauce ingredients.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Put the veggies in the bowl with the reserved marinade and turn to coat.   Remove the chicken from the bag and discard the marinade.  Thread the chicken, peppers, and onion alternately onto skewers (if using wood, soak for at least 30 minutes first).

Grill the kabobs over direct medium heat until the meat is done, about 8-10 minutes, turning once or twice.  Remove from the grill and let rest for 2-3 minutes.  Serve warm with the sauce.

*****

Moroccan Spiced Couscous
Recipe from Thug Kitchen
Serves 4

Ingredients:
1&1/2 cups couscous
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
1&1/2 cups boiling water
1&1/2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 to 3 cups spinach, chopped into thick ribbons
1 cup chopped orange segments

Directions:
Mix the couscous, salt, and spices in a medium saucepan with a tight-fitting lid.  Add the boiling water and stir.  Cover and let sit for 8 minutes until all the water is absorbed.  Fluff with a fork.

Mix together the oil and vinegar and add to the couscous.  Fold in the spinach and orange pieces.  Season to taste and serve,

Monday, July 4, 2016

Grilled Salmon with Chipotle Butter and Roasted Cauliflower Boats


I was in the mood for salmon, so I found this recipe in one of my grilling cookbooks.  We decided to put it on a cedar plank instead of directly on the grill which gave it more wood-smoked flavor. Plus, it made grill cleanup easier.  I loved this recipe, although I think I could have added another chipotle to the butter to really enhance that flavor.  As as side dish, I discovered this super light cauliflower-endive leaf appetizer.  I added a chopped tomato to the recipe to add even more veggies/color to the filling.  It was fun to try something different for a veggie.  I liked it. :)

Grilled Salmon with Chipotle Butter
Recipe from Weber's Best Summer Grilling Recipes
Serves 4

Ingredients:
4 salmon fillets (with skin), 6-8oz each
vegetable oil
salt and pepper
lime wedges (for serving)
Butter:
1/2 stick (4 Tbsp) unsalted butter, softened
2-3 canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, seeded and minced
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions:
In a small bowl, combine the butter ingredients.  Set aside.

Generously brush the salmon with oil and season evenly with salt and pepper.  Grill on the grates or on a soaked cedar plank over medium-high heat for 8-10 minutes or until fish flakes easily.  Smear some chipotle butter over each fillet and serve warm with lime wedges if desired.

*****

Cauliflower "Caviar" with Frizzled Prosciutto
Adapted from Cooking Light: Pick Fresh
~30 calories/leaf (if small I assume)
Made 6 (medium?) leaves

Ingredients:
2 cups chopped cauliflower florets
3 teaspoons olive oil, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 oz prosciutto, chopped
1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
1/2 tablespoon sherry vinegar
2 tablespoons diced tomato
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
6-12 Belgian endive leaves (depends on size)
1 teaspoon chopped fresh chives

Directions:
Arrange cauliflower on a baking sheet. Drizzle 2 teaspoons olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper; toss to combine.  Bake at 400º for 20-30 minutes or until cauliflower is lightly browned.

Meanwhile, heat a small skillet over medium heat.  Add 1 teaspoon oil and add prosciutto.  Saute for 10 minutes or until crisp, stirring occasionally.  Add garlic and cook another minute.  Drain on paper towels.

Combine cauliflower, prosciutto, and vinegar together in a medium bowl.  Mash with a fork if you need to further reduced cauliflower size.  Stir in the tomatoes and parsley.  Spoon 2 tablespoons into each leaf and top with chives.  Serve warm or room temperature.


Sunday, July 3, 2016

Grilled Lamb Chop with Lemon-Mint Salsa Verde, Baked Eggplant Fries, and Pesto Caprese Zucchini Salad


It's a Mediterranean meal tonight.  I had a lot of basil and mint to harvest from my herb garden, and I thought these recipes would help me use some of it.   The lamb recipe called for loin or rib chops, but the store only had shoulder, so I used that instead.  Less pricey, and still delicious.  The pesto caprese salad was okay.  I don't own a spiralizer, so I just used a box grater to make the zucchini "noodles."  My favorite item on the plate was the eggplant fries.  The recipe said you can dip them in marinara sauce, but I liked them enough just on their own.  I had been scared to eat/use eggplant after a disastrous eggplant casserole recipe I made several years ago and had to throw out after one bite (yes, every once in awhile a recipe I attempt is just plain bad).  But I tried eggplant fries at a restaurant and loved them so much I wanted to give them a try at home.  Glad I did!

Grilled Lamb Chop with Lemon-Mint Salsa Verde
from Weber's Best Summer Grilling Recipes
Serves 4

Ingredients:
8 lamb loin or rib chops, 1&1/4" thick (I used shoulder)
extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
Salsa:
1 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves
1 cup loosely packed fresh Italian parsley leaves
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon roughly chopped shallot
1 tablespoon capers, rinsed and drained
1 garlic clove
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Directions:
In a food processor, combine all the salsa ingredients except the oil and pulse to a rough chop.  With the motor running, add the oil to form a chunky salsa.  Transfer to a bowl and cover the surface with plastic wrap to avoid discoloration.  (The salsa can be made up to 4 hours in advance stored in the fridge.  Bring to room temp and stir before serving)

Lightly brush the lamb chops with oil and season with salt and pepper.  Allow to sit at room temperature for 15-30 minutes before grilling.

Grill over medium-high to high heat for 8-10 minutes total, turning once.  Let rest for 5 minutes.  Serve warm with salsa spooned on top.

*****

Crispy Baked Eggplant Fries
Serves 3-4

Ingredients:
1 medium eggplant, cut into 1/4" thick strips
1/2 cup flour
salt and pepper
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Directions:
In one bowl, combine flour with a little salt and pepper.  In a second bowl, add the eggs,  In the third bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, Parmesan, and seasonings.    Dredge the eggplant slices in the flour mixture, then into the egg, and finally into the breadcrumb mixture.  Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (or nonstick foil).  Bake at 425º until golden brown, about 10 minutes.   Enjoy alone or with your favorite dipping sauce (ketchup, marinara sauce, yogurt, etc).

*****


Pesto Caprese Zucchini Salad
Serves 2

Ingredients:
1 medium zucchini, spiralized or run through large holes of box grater
2 thick slices tomato
2 slices mozzarella cheese (2 oz each)
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil (for drizzling)
salt and pepper
2 basil leaves
Pesto:
2 teaspoons pine nuts
1 cup packed fresh basil leaves
1&1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small garlic clove
salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:
Place all the pesto ingredients in a food processor and pulse until creamy.  

In a medium bowl, add the zucchini noodles and toss with the pesto.

Plate the pesto zucchini and top with the tomato and mozzarella.  Drizzle with a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Garnish with basil leaf.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Grilled Chicken with Honey-Mustard Glaze


Apparently, the secret to juicy grilled boneless chicken is milk powder.  I decided to test it out (although it was weird to buy a whole big box of milk powder in order to use just 2 teaspoons of it).  I gotta say, whatever I did, it worked.  The chicken breasts didn't dry out at all and the glaze stuck nicely and got a nice browning without burning.  This was my first time trying the brining technique as well.  Perhaps that's what kept the chicken so juicy.  I really liked the flavor of the glaze.  This recipe is definitely a keeper.

Grilled Brined Chicken with a Honey-Mustard Glaze
Recipe from America's Test Kitchen: Master of the Grill
Serves 4

Ingredients:
1/4 cup salt
1/4 cup sugar
4 (6-to 8-oz) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 teaspoons nonfat dry milk powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
vegetable oil spray
Glaze:
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 teaspoon cornstarch
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons corn syrup
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon ground fennel seeds

Directions:
To make the brine, dissolve the salt and sugar in 1&1/2 quarts (6 cups) water in a large bowl.  Submerge chicken in the brine; cover and refrigerate for 30-60 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the glaze.  Whisk the vinegar and cornstarch in a small saucepan until dissolved.  Whisk in the remaining ingredients.  Bring mixture to a boil over high heat.  Cook, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 1 minute.  Transfer glaze to a bowl.

When ready, remove chicken from brine and pat dry with paper towels.  Combine the milk powder and black pepper in a small bowl and sprinkle over both sides of the chicken.  Spray with cooking spray until milk powder is moistened.

Place chicken on preheated grill over medium-high heat until browned on first side, about 2-3 minutes.  Flip chicken and brush with 2 tablespoons glaze, and cook for 2 minutes.  Repeat flipping and glazing two more times, cooking for 2 minutes each time.  Flip one more time, glaze, and cook until chicken registers 160º, about 1-3 minutes.  Transfer chicken to a plate and let rest for 5 minutes.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Mediterranean Zucchini Boats


I made these as a light and fresh potluck item for after our league tennis match and the ladies seemed to really like them. I was asked for the recipe several times.  I think these boats would taste best warm from the oven, but I served them cold from the fridge for convenience and they tasted just fine that way too.   I cut the boats into segments to serve as little zucchini bites.

Mediterranean Zucchini Boats
recipe from the internet

Ingredients:
4 medium zucchini
1 cup red bell pepper, minced
1/2 cup tomatoes, minced
1/2 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and minced
1/4 cup garlic, minced
3-4 tablespoons oregano, dried
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup parsley, fineley chopped

Directions:
Cut zucchini in half lengthwise and scoop out the middle with a spoon.  (You can either scoop the whole length to make one big boat, or make small circles to serves as individual bites.) Discard flesh or save for another use.  Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the bell pepper, tomatoes, olives, garlic, oregano, and black pepper.  Distribute mixture evenly in each zucchini boat.  Place on rimmed baking sheet and bake at 350º for 15 minutes.  Top with feta cheese and broil on high for 3 more minutes.  Remove from the oven, sprinkle with parsley, and serve.

May serve hot or cold.  Refrigerate covered for up to 2-3 days.


Saturday, June 4, 2016

Molasses Spice Cookies with Rum Glaze


I decided to make these cookies for an event because I already had all the ingredients in my cupboard.  I liked the cookies with and without the rum glaze.  I tried one of each, of course, for quality assurance purposes. ;)

Molasses Spice Cookies with Rum Glaze
from The New Best Recipes Cookbook
Makes ~24 cookies

Ingredients:
2&1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1&1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1&1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons (1&1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened but still cool
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar, plus extra for rolling
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup molasses
Glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
2-3 tablespoons rum

Directions:
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, spices, and salt and pepper.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the butter and brown and granulated sugars until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Add the yolk and vanilla, and beat until incorporated, about 20 seconds.  Add the molasses and beat until incorporated, about 20 seconds.  Add the flour mixture and beat on low speed until just combined, about 30 seconds, scraping the bowl if needed.

Place 1/2 cup granulated sugar for rolling in a shallow bowl.  Wet hands with a little water and scoop out a heaping tablespoon of dough.  Roll it between moistened palms to form a ball; drop ball into sugar and repeat to form 4-6 balls.  Toss the balls in the sugar to coat and set on a parchment-paper-lined (or Silpat-lined or sprayed) baking sheet.  Repeat for the remaining dough.

Bake, one tray at a time, at 375º on middle rack for about 11 minutes, until cookies are browned and still puffy, the edges have begun to set, but the middles are still soft.  Cool on the sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make glaze, whisk together the powdered sugar and rum.  Use the whisk to drizzle the glaze over the top of the cookies.  Allow 10-15 minutes for the glaze to dry.  Enjoy!


Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Baked Yellow Squash Chips


I had a couple leftover summer squash to use and thought this would be a fun way to eat my vegetables. Plus I had leftover Cotija cheese that I needed to use which replaces Parmesan well.  I liked these little bites.  Of course, everything tastes better with Parmesan bread crumbs, right?  Zucchini would work well for this recipe too.

Baked Yellow Squash Chips

Ingredients:
2 yellow squash or zucchini, sliced into 1/4"-1/2" rounds
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper
1/2 cup Panko or regular breadcrumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (I used Cotija cheese this time)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Directions:
Preheat oven to 450º.  Line a baking sheet with foil and set a wire rack on top.  Lightly coat rack with cooking spray.

In one bowl, combine squash and olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

In another bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, Parmesan, and seasonings.   Dip the slices of squash into the breadcrumb mixture and coat on both sides, pressing to make it stick.  Place the squash in a single layer on the wire rack.

If desired, lightly spray the squash with cooking spray to ensure a crunchier texture.  Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the chips are a golden brown.


Monday, May 23, 2016

Grilled Tandoori Chicken and Zucchini


It was another gorgeous evening to fire up the grill.  I decided to grill chicken because I thought it would be a good accompaniment for the leftover mango salsa in our fridge.  And because I wanted something green on the plate, we grilled up some zucchini spears too.  Most of the tandoori marinade fell off while grilling, but the flavor still remained.  The photo really doesn't do justice to the tender flavorful chicken that resulted.  I liked the grilled zucchini as well.

Tandoori Chicken Breasts
from Weber's Best Summer Grilling Recipes magazine

Ingredients:
1 cup plain yogurt
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger
2 teaspoons garam masala
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

Directions:
Blend together all the marinade ingredients and put in a large resealable plastic bag.  Add the chicken and seal the bag, turning to distribute the marinade all over the chicken.  Refrigerate for 2 hours, turning occasionally.

When ready to grill, remove the chicken from the bag and discard the marinade.  Grill over direct medium heat until the chicken is done and no longer pink in the middle, about 8-10 minutes, turning once.

Grilled Zucchini   
Cut a zucchini lengthwise into quarters to make long spears.  Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and a little lemon zest.  Grill for a minute or two on each side until crisp-tender.  Sprinkle with a little more lemon zest if desired.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Grilled Mahi-Mahi with Coconut Rice and Tropical Salsa


Ever since I tasted coconut rice at Emeril's Delmonico restaurant in New Orleans, I've been wanting to give it a shot at home.  I found this recipe online, and went for it.  The grilled marinated fish was good, the salsa was excellent, and the rice was just okay.  It didn't have enough creamy sweet coconut flavor that I remember from my dining experience.  I think next time I'd add the entire can of coconut milk and cut back on the regular water.  Although the ingredient list looks long, the recipe was quick and easy.  We also grilled some fresh asparagus since it's in season right now.

Grilled Mahi-Mahi with Coconut Rice and Tropical Salsa
Recipe from Emeril Lagasse (Food Network)
4 servings

Fish:
1/2 cup sliced yellow onions
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons orange juice
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro
5 cloves garlic, smashed
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cumin
pinch cayenne
4 mahi-mahi fillets, skin on (6-8oz each)

Coconut Rice:
1 cup coconut milk
1&1/2 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon sugar
1 cup long grain white rice
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Tropical Salsa:
1 ripe mango, peeled and diced
1 ripe avocado, peeled and diced
1/2 cup diced fresh pineapple
1/4 cup minced shallot
1/4 cup minced red bell peppers
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons minced jalapeno
pinch salt

Directions:
In a bowl, combine all the marinade ingredients.  Add the fish and spoon the marinade over the top. Cover and refrigerate for up to one hour.

Meanwhile, to make the coconut rice, combine the coconut milk, water, salt, and sugar in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil.  Add the rice, stir well, and reduce heat to medium-low.  Cover and simmer undisturbed until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is fluffy, about 20-24 minutes.  Let sit off the heat for 5-10 minutes. Fluff with a fork and stir in the cilantro.  Adjust seasoning to taste.

To make the salsa, mix together all the ingredients.  Let sit for 30 minutes to let the flavors blend.

Preheat a grill and lightly oil the rack.  Place the fish on the grill and cook, skin side up, until marked, 1-2 minutes.  Flip the fish and cook skin side down until the fish is cooked through, about 4-5 minutes depending on thickness.   Place fish over rice and top with the salsa.


Thursday, May 5, 2016

Spicy Grilled Chicken with Baja Black Beans and Rice


Happy Cinco de Mayo! It's been awhile since I've posted a recipe.  We decided to be festive today and make a Mexican-inspired dinner.  Despite the name, I didn't think the chicken was overly spicy; it was just the right amount of heat.  I liked the veggie-filled rice too.  Overall, a really flavorful and filling dish and easy to prepare and relatively quick to cook.

Spicy Grilled Chicken with Baja Black Beans and Rice
Recipe from Better Homes & Gardens:Ultimate Mexican magazine
Makes 4-6 servings

Ingredients:
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon paprika
pinch salt and pepper
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts (~1&1/2 lbs total)
2 cups broth
1 cup frozen corn kernels
1 cup canned black beans
1 can (14.5oz) fire-roasted diced tomatoes
1 can (4oz) diced green chile peppers
1 cup long grain rice, uncooked
1 cup chopped zucchini (1 small)
1 tablespoon snipped fresh cilantro
crumbled Cotija cheese (optional)
avocado slices (optional)

Directions:
In a small bowl, combine the dry rub ingredients.  Sprinkle over all sides of the chicken breasts and rub in.  Set aside.

In a 4-quart Dutch Oven or pot, combine broth, corn, beans, tomatoes, chiles, and rice.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 12 minutes.  Stir in the zucchini and cook for 3-5 more minutes.  Stir in cilantro.

Meanwhile, grill the chicken breasts on a lightly greased grill rack over medium heat for 12-15 minutes, turning once, until chicken is no longer pink in center (160º).   Transfer chicken to a cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes.

Slice the chicken and serve with the rice mixture.  If desired, top with Cotija cheese and avocado.



Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Chocolate Cream Pie



Another Easter dessert I made.  It was really rich but really good.   It took a lot longer than 6-8 minutes for my custard to thicken on the stovetop, but I was patient and it eventually got there.  Sorry my photo isn't the best.  I didn't get a chance to get a nice slice before everyone started digging in. I guess that's a good sign.

Chocolate Cream Pie

Ingredients:
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 large egg yolks
3 cups whole milk
5 oz Ghiradelli bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 oz Ghiradelli unsweetened chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 oreo chocolate pie crust

Whipped Topping:
3/4 cup chilled heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon sugar
shaved chocolate (optional)

Directions:
Combine the sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a heavy medium saucepan.  Whisk gently until combined.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk and egg yolks.  Add the milk mixture to the saucepan in a slow and steady stream, whisking until the mixture is smooth.  Cook over medium heat, constantly whisking, until the mixture starts to bubble and thicken, 6-8 minutes.  Immediately turn the heat down to a simmer and cook 1 minute more, continuously whisking, until thick.

Off the heat, immediately whisk in the chopped chocolate, butter, and vanilla extract.  Transfer the filling to a bowl and press saran wrap directly over the surface to prevent a film from forming.  Store in the fridge until cook, 1-2 hours.   Once cool, spoon the filling into the chocolate crust.  Once again, cover with saran wrap and press against surface.  Chill for at least 6 hours or up to one day.

To make the whipped topping, use an electric mixer to whip the cream until the whisk begins to leave tracks in the cream.  Add the sugar and whip until the cream holds medium silky peaks.  Spread the cream over the chocolate filling.  Sprinkle with shaved chocolate to decorate. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting



I found this recipe online and made it for Easter.  I thought it was super delicious.

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients:
1 cup applesauce
1/4 cup oil
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1&1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups grated carrots
1 cup shredded sweetened coconut
1 cup chopped nuts
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup crushed pineapple in juice, undrained

Frosting:
1/2 cup butter, softened
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 pound powdered sugar

Directions:
In a large bowl, mix together the apple sauce, oil, sugar, and eggs.  Add in the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon and stir well to combine.  Stir in the remaining ingredients.  Pour into a lightly greased 10x15-inch baking pan.  Bake at 350º for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool completely.

To make frosting, beat the butter and cream cheese until fluffy.  Add in the vanilla and powdered sugar and beat until smooth.  Spread on top of the cooled cake and serve.  May be stored covered in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Shrimp and Broccoli Stir-Fry


I wanted something easy, light, and meatless, so I settled on this recipe.  We liked it, but the ratio of shrimp to veggies was heavy on the shrimp.  I had already added bell pepper to the original recipe, but I would add even more veggies next time--more broccoli, perhaps some shredded carrots too.  The seasoning and overall flavor was good though.

Shrimp and Broccoli Stir-Fry
from Cooking Light: One-Dish Meals Magazine
Makes 4 servings, ~200 cal/serving (without rice)

Ingredients:
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 tablespoon cornstarch
salt and pepper
canola oil
1/4 cup green onions, cut diagonally into 1" pieces
2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 cups broccoli florets
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into thin strips
1/4 cup lower-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper

Directions:
Pat shrimp dry with paper towels.  In a medium bowl, combine shrimp with cornstarch and a dash of salt and pepper and toss to coat.  Heat a large wok or skillet over high heat.  Add 1 tablespoon oil to pan and add shrimp mixture; Stir-fry 4 minutes.  Remove shrimp and place in medium bowl.

To the empty skillet, add 1/2 tablespoon oil and add green onions, ginger, and garlic.  Stir-fry 45 seconds and then add mixture to the bowl with the shrimp.

To the empty skillet, add 1 tablespoon oil and the broccoli and bell pepper.  Stir fry 2 minutes and then return the shrimp-onion mixture to the skillet along with the soy sauce, vinegar, honey, and red pepper flakes.  Bring to a boil and cook 1 minute or until shrimp are done and broccoli is crisp-tender.   Serve over rice.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Weeknight Beef Chili


Simple and good crockpot recipe to warm your bones on a winter day.  We added a little shredded cheese from the fridge that we wanted to use up and I made some corn bread muffins and a side salad to accompany the chili.  This would also be good with elbow macaroni for chili-mac.

Weeknight Beef Chili
from Slow Cooker Revolution Vol 2
Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:
1 lb ground beef
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
1 (15oz) can kidney beans, rinsed
1 (15oz) can tomato sauce
1 (14.5oz) can diced tomatoes
1&1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon minced chipotle chili
salt and pepper

Directions:
In a large skillet over medium heat, brown the beef just until no longer pink.  Mix in the chili powder, tomato paste, garlic, and cumin.  Transfer to a medium Slow Cooker.  Stir in the remaining ingredients and add 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.  Cover and cook on low for 5 to 6 hours.   Serve.