Apr 24, 2010

Lemon-Artichoke Chicken

I tried this recipe this evening and liked it very much. The lemon and artichokes make a wonderful combination. And this dish couldn't be easier. Kudos to my friend Elisa for sharing it. You can find her recipe blog here.

1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (I'm not a fan of spicy food, so I didn't include these)
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (I used chicken tenders)
1/3 cup white wine
1 can (13.75 oz) whole artichoke hearts, drained, halved
1 whole lemon, thinly sliced
Orzo, or other pasta
Fresh parsley, chopped

Combine the oil, lemon juice, honey, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper flakes in a small bowl for the sauce and set aside. Season chicken breasts with salt and black pepper. Saute in 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large saute pan. Cook over medium-high heat until lightly browned on both sides, 3-5 minutes per side. Reduce heat to medium, cover, and cook 5 minutes. Add white wine, artichokes, and sauce. Simmer and reduce the sauce, about 3 minutes. Top chicken with slices of lemon, cook 2 minutes more, or until sauce thickens. Serve over orzo or other pasta. Garnish with chopped parsley.

Apr 21, 2010

Apricot Mold

Perhaps because it's rainy and cold outside at the moment, I'm thinking of things summery and light. I like to serve this gelatin mold with fresh fruit such as grapes, strawberries, or apricots in the center.

2 envelopes unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups apricot nectar (I usually just puree bottled apricots w/ juice)
3/4 cup water
1 cup white grape juice or lemonade
1 cup sour cream

Mix gelatin, sugar, and salt in saucepan. Stir in apricot nectar and water. Cook over low hear until gelatin is completely dissolved. Then stir in juice and sour cream. Make sure sour cream is blended in completely. Then pour into mold.

Apr 18, 2010

S'mores

A few weeks ago, some neighbors invited me and other friends to their home for a barbecue. We had grilled chicken, potatoes, etc. The food was good and the evening was very relaxing, but one of the things I wanted to share from this event was that we had s'mores. Of course, I've had s'mores before, but there were a few things about THESE s'mores that are worth mentioning. First of all, my friends cooked the s'mores in a way I'd never seen before. They created foil packets with the s'more ingredients assembled inside and then put the packets in the coals to cook. The second thing worth noting is that in addition to graham crackers, chocolate, and marshmallow, my friends included other ingredients such as sliced strawberries or bananas, pieces of Skor bars, or peanut butter in some of the packets. And using a Sharpie, they wrote on the foil what kind of s'more was inside each packet. That way, people could pick what kind of s'more they wanted after they came out of the fire.

Anyway, the s'mores were wonderful! Although I actually didn't get to try any of the peanut butter s'mores, I thought that the addition of strawberries and bananas was particularly tasty.

This activity gave me a few ideas:
1) You could have a kind of s'more bar at a picnic, where people could make their own s'mores, choose their own ingredients, etc. Dessert would be fun and easy.
2) The other idea I had was to try cooking s'mores indoors, using the foil packet method. So I tried this in my oven a few days ago, and it seemed to work quite well. In each packet, I put a bottom graham cracker, two pieces of Hershey chocolate, two marshmallows, and a top graham cracker. And in one, I put a few slices of banana. Then I closed the foil packets and put them in a 350 degree oven for about three to five minutes. Voila!

S'mores may be better cooked in the great outdoors, but I love this new (for me) method of creating a traditional taste treat.

Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

Just baked a batch of these this morning. Yum! These cookies are similar to Peanut Blossoms, but instead of a Hershey's kiss, they have Reese's Peanut Butter Cups in the center.

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature (I may try salted butter next time; the cookies could have used a bit more salt, in my opinion)
1 cup packed light-brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup granulated sugar, for rolling dough
36 mini peanut butter cups, chilled and unwrapped

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using an electric mixer, cream peanut butter and butter in a mixing bowl until smooth. Add brown sugar; beat until combined, scraping down bowl as needed. Add eggs and vanilla, and beat until incorporated.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. With mixer on low speed, gradually beat in flour mixture in two batches.
3. Scoop off dough by the tablespoon; roll into balls. Place granulated sugar on a plate; roll balls in sugar, coating completely. Place 2 inches apart on a nonstick insulated baking sheet.
4. Bake until cookies begin to puff up slightly, about 7 minutes. Remove from oven. Press one peanut butter cup in center of each cookie. Return to oven; continue baking until cookies are golden brown and chocolate has begun to melt, about 6 minutes more. Let cool at least 10 minutes on baking sheet before transferring cookies to rack to cool completely. Makes 36 cookies.

Apr 17, 2010

Annette Rollins' Carrot Cake

This delicious carrot cake includes pineapple, coconut, and walnuts, in addition to grated carrots. It is rich, moist, and dense. After the cake comes out of the oven, you pour a glaze over the top, so there is no need to frost it.

2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups oil
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
3-3 1/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 cups grated carrots
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup flaked coconut
1 small can crushed pineapple (drained)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt

Mix ingredients together. Bake at 325 degrees for one hour in greased and floured 9 x 13-inch pan.

Glaze
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup margarine
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon Karo syrup
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Boil and stir five minutes. While the cake is still hot, poke holes in it with a fork and then pour glaze over the top. Poke more holes on the outside of the cake because glaze will tend to concentrate in the center.

Apr 11, 2010

Strawberries Romanoff

This is such a simple dessert that I don't think that you can even call it a recipe. It is something my mom likes to serve. There are just three ingredients--fresh strawberries, sour cream, and brown sugar. Hull and then halve, quarter, or slice the desired number of strawberries (depending on their size) and put them in a serving bowl. Serve the cut berries in individual cups or bowls (about a 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup per serving) with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of brown sugar.

Apr 3, 2010

Chocolate Praline Layer Cake

1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup whipping cream
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
3/4 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
1 package devil's food cake mix (with pudding) plus 2 tablespoons flour
1 1/3 cups water
1/3 cup oil
3 eggs

Topping:
1 3/4 cups whipping cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla

Combine butter, whipping cream and brown sugar; cook over low heat until butter is melted. Pour into two round 9-inch cake pans; sprinkle evenly with chopped pecans.

In large bowl combine cake mix, water, oil, and eggs at low speed until moistened; then beat 2 minutes at highest speed. Carefully spoon batter over pecan mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes; remove from pans immediately, spooning extra topping from pan to cake.

Topping: Beat cream until soft peaks form. Add powdered sugar and vanilla; beat until stiff.

To assemble cake, place 1 cooled layer, praline side up, on serving plate. Spread top with half of whipped cream. Put the second layer on top and frost with remaining cream. Garnish with chocolate curls and whole pecans.

Chocolate Whipped Cream

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
2 cups chilled whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla

Beat ingredients in a chilled 2 1/2-quart bowl until stiff. After frosting the cake, refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.