Thursday, January 31, 2008

Grilled Chicken and Tapenade Sandwiches & Veggie Skewers


This was my second menu meal of the week. Once again, Cooking Light had my whole plan laid out for me in advance. One thing I love about San Diego is that we can grill all year-round, even though this is more of a summer meal.

Game Plan:
1. Prepare topping for sandwiches
2. While topping stands:
Prepare vegetable skewers
Grill chicken and vegetables
3. While chicken stands:
Add cheese and remaining ingredients to topping.
4. Once slightly cooled, cut chicken into thin slices and assemble into sandwiches.

Grilled Chicken and Tapenade Sandwiches

recipe from Cooking Light 2008, pictures from my kitchen

Robust olives, balsamic vinegar, and feta cheese convey Mediterranean flavors.

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups diced seeded tomato (I didn't bother seeding)
2 tablespoons finely chopped pitted kalamata olives
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (I used regular parsley)
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
5 teaspoons extravirgin olive oil, divided
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Cooking spray
1/4 cup (1 ounce) crumbled feta cheese
4 (2-ounce) ciabatta sandwich rolls, halved

Preparation

Combine first 7 ingredients in a small bowl. Add 2 teaspoons oil; toss gently to combine. Let stand 15 minutes.

Prepare grill.

Brush chicken evenly with remaining 1 tablespoon oil, and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper. Place chicken on a grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 6 minutes on each side or until chicken is done. Remove from grill. Let stand 5 minutes before slicing thinly.

Add cheese and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt to tomato mixture; stir gently to combine. Arrange sliced chicken evenly on bottom halves of rolls. Top each serving with one-fourth of tomato mixture, and cover with top halves of rolls. Serve immediately.

Yield

4 servings (serving size: 1 sandwich)

Nutritional Information

CALORIES 369(30% from fat); FAT 12.3g (sat 3g,mono 7g,poly 1.6g); PROTEIN 33.2g; CHOLESTEROL 79mg; CALCIUM 63mg; SODIUM 815mg; FIBER 1.5g; IRON 2.7mg; CARBOHYDRATE 30.1g

Jennifer Martinkus , Cooking Light, JUNE 2007


Vegetable Skewers

Cut 2 zucchini, 1 red bell pepper (I used yellow squash instead because Mike hates bell peppers and they aren't my fave, either), and 1 red onion into 1 1/2 inch pieces. Thread vegetables alternately onto 4 skewers, brush with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill 15 minutes or until crisp-tender and lightly charred. Brush evenly with 1 T balsamic vinegar before serving. (I forgot to do this part. :( )

The veggie skewers were delicious!!! Seriously, the best zucchini I've had in ages. The sandwiches were REALLY good too, but the ciabatta bread was a little dry. I'm not a fan of dry bread. It started cracking towards the end, but the flavor was great. I really liked this recipe! And obviously, Mike enjoyed his meal, too!

Cuppycakes! A review.

Tonight I got home from the gym, and I literally squealed in delight when I saw the package waiting for me from CB! I opened it up, and there were four perfect little cupcakes, along with frosting for them! They were packaged so adorably...perfect little pastry boxes and little cupcake cups wrapped up and nestled snugly in their little spaces. Turns out, I had successfully passed the application process for becoming a cupcake taster for Mr. Cuppycakes, so my next step in the race to be the next great taste tester was to post a review of these delectable delights. I just happened to have 3 other people here to compare notes with, which worked out wonderfully. Everyone was super excited to try them!

First I did the sniff test, since I wasn't sure what flavor they were. My suspicions were correct...they were cinnamon cupcakes, along with cinnamon frosting! They had a wonderful, spicy aroma. They looked perfect, like little bits of heaven.

CB even packaged the frosting, which I believe to be cream cheese flavored with cinnamon sugar, in a little baggie for easy frosting capability. I carefully frosted each one, and we all settled down with our apple cinnamon flavored tobacco, tea, and cupcakes.

The verdict:
Very delicious! All 4 tasters agreed. The flavor was excellent, and the texture was great - it was very fine and light. I personally thought they were a tad bit dry, but I am very much a fan of super moist and filled cakes. Everyone else thought they were perfect as-is. The frosting was also delicious, I definitely liked it. It was also spice flavored. We thought it seemed like more of a glaze, and not quite so much like cake frosting. I liked it that way, but Mike prefers it thick and fluffy.

Overall I think the cupcakes were a success, though if I were making them, I would probably give them a filling.

Thanks, CB, for an awesome tasting challenge!

I'm Famous!!!!

I have now been added to the Foodie Blogroll, after being inspired by such famous friends of mine, CB and Lorena. Check out the cool little apple on the right side of my blog. There are SOOOOO many awesome foodie blogs over there - check 'em out! This Blogroll is especially designed for people who have a passion about food. If you have a blog about food, whether you cook it, or just like to talk about it, this blogroll is for you! It will be our way to create a community of Foodies!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Garlic & Herb Oven-Fried Halibut


Tonight I made my first menu-combo of the week. I made Garlic & Herb Oven-Fried Halibut, Red Potatoes with Herbed Vinaigrette, and Steamed Broccoli. The cookbook is so cool, it even tells you what order to do things in!

I halved the recipe, from 6 servings to 3. I think that I would not have halved the first 5 ingredients though...there wasn't really enough coating for the fish.

Game Plan:

1. While oven preheats:
Cook Potatoes
Prepare Fish

2. While fish cooks:
Finish potatoes
Steam Broccoli


Garlic & Herb Oven-Fried Halibut
recipe from Cooking Light 2008
- I halved the recipe
1 C panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
1 T chopped fresh basil
1 T chopped fresh parsley
1/2 t onion powder
1 large garlic clove, minced
2 large egg white, lightly beaten
2 T flour
6 halibut fillets
3/4 t salt
1/4 black pepper
2 T olive oil, divided
cooking spray

1. Preheat oven to 450
2. Combine first 5 ingredients in a shallow dish (I used waxed paper). Combine egg whites and egg in a shallow dish. Place flour in a shallow dish (I used waxed paper). Sprinkle fish with salt and pepper. Dredge fish in flour. Dip in egg mixture; dredge in panko mixture.
3. Heat 1 T oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 3 fish fillets; cook 2 1/2
minutes on each side or until browned. Place fish on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray. Repeat procedure with 1 T oil and remaining fish (I didn't need to because I halved the recipe). Bake at 450 for 6 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork or until desired degree of doneness.


Red Potatoes with Herbed Vinaigrette

Place 1 1/2 pounds quartered red potatoes in a medium saucepan. Cover with cold water; bring to a boil. Cook 8 minutes or until tender; drain. Cool. Combine 2 T white wine vinegar, 1 T EVOO, 1/4 t salt, and 1/4 t black pepper in a large bowl, stirring well. Add potatoes, 1/4 C sliced green onions, and 2 t chopped parsley to mix, toss.



Overall, this was pretty good. Light, healthy, and pretty tasty. I wasn't overly impressed. Mike and Troy liked it, but there was no overwhelming reaction. We couldn't figure out if the potatoes were meant to be served hot or cold. They would be good either way though. I like this recipe, but I don't think I'll put it into my rotation.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Man Pleasing Meal - Brandied Chicken, Potatoes, and Slow-Roasted Tomato Salad

I found some recipes for a man-pleasing meal in the latest issue of Cosmo, from Nigella Lawson's new cookbook, Nigella Express. This meal sounds SO tasty, but not really all that healthy. So, my dilemma...to make it or not to make it? The salad sounds excellent...it's just the chicken and potato recipes that aren't the lightest. I might have to try this though...Valentine's day, maybe?

Brandied Bacony Chicken

1 chicken, 2 1/2 to 3 lbs.
2 strips bacon
1/4 C brandy

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Cook the bacon in a skillet over medium heat until crisp, about four minutes. Stuff the strips into the cavity of the chicken. Pour the brandy into the still-hot frying pan with the bacon fat, and let bubble for a minute, then pour over the chicken. Roast for 45 minutes in a roasting pan, breast side up, until the juices run clear between leg and body. Let rest 10 minutes before carving.

_______________________________________________________________

Potato and Mushroom Gratin

3 baking potatoes, thinly sliced
1 1/2 C milk
3 T white wine
salt and pepper to taste
2 T butter
2 t. oil
8 oz. cremini mushrooms, finely sliced

Preheat oven to 425, and butter a baking dish. Combine potatoes, milk, wine, salt, and pepper in a saucepan, and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Let simmer while you slice mushrooms. Put butter and oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add mushrooms; cook three minutes. Stir mushrooms and their juice into potatoes. Pour into dish. Bake 45 minutes til top is crisp.

_______________________________________________________________

Slow-Roast Tomatoes, Goat Cheese, and Mint Salad

1 lb cherry tomatoes
2 T olive oil
2 t. kosher salt
1 t. dried thyme
1/4 t. sugar

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Halve the tomatoes, and place them cut side up in an ovenproof dish. Sprinkle with olive oil, salt, thyme, and sugar.
Put them in the oven and immediately turn it off. Leave the tomatoes in the oven for a few hours.

8 to 10 C arugula or spinach leaves
1 C soft goat cheese
2 T extra virgin olive oil
1 T lemon juice
2 T freshly chopped mint

Arrange the arugula or spinach on a large dish, then dollop the cheese over. add the tomatoes. In the dish the tomatoes had been cooking in, whisk together the oil and lemon juice, and pour over the salad. Scatter with mint.

Things I want

I was looking at the Baking Bites blog, and I found something I want. And I don't even eat pancakes, except on rare occasions. But how cute are these?!!??! I would so love to have a brunch with my girls, or a special breakfast with the hubs. :)

William-Sonoma Stack & Fill Pancake Molds

Monday, January 28, 2008

Must try....

Oh wow, this looks SO good. I have been browsing other Daring Baker's blogs, and I am finding some yummy-looking recipes!!!

Pear, Gorgonzola, and Pancetta Pizza
http://home-gourmets.blogspot.com/2008/01/hhdd17-oh-excitement.html

Lemon Meringue Pie

Once again, it is time for the monthly Daring Baker's Challenge!!! This month's selection was Lemon Meringue Pie. I was very excited, since my friend Lorena had just made an LMP, and it sounded delicious. Mike was thrilled too, since he had been hoping for a lighter dessert after all the heavy holiday treats.

Things went pretty well, although once I got my pie crust dough made, I realized I didn't have a pie pan! So, I used a round casserole dish instead. It worked okay, but the sides were too tall, and the pretty fluted edges I had made ended up melting down in wrinkly lumps in the pan. So, it ended up being an ugly crust, but it sure tasted good.

My lemon filling came out perfect...no problems at all. My meringue worked perfectly as well, but even though I attached the edges to the crust, it pulled away, and the pie started getting really weepy. I got worried and started texting Lorena and my other DB friends to see if they had had similar problems. They told me that as long as I chilled it right away, it would most likely be okay. My only problem was that I was taking the pie to a football party in an hour, so I didn't have much chilling time. I kept it in the fridge for a while at the party, and it ended up setting up in time for everyone to eat it. It was sort of an ugly pie once you cut into it, but it tasted okay! I think I've decided I'm really not a fan of meringue, however, so I'll probably opt not to use it on pies other than for challenges!

Lemon Meringue Pie
(Source: "Wanda's Pie in the Sky" by Wanda Beaver)
Daring Bakers Challenge #15: January 2008
Host: Jen (Canadian Baker)

Makes one 10-inch (25 cm) pie

For the Crust:
3/4 cup (180 mL) cold butter; cut into ½-inch (1.2 cm) pieces
2 cups (475 mL) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (60 mL) granulated sugar
1/4 tsp (1.2 mL) salt
1/3 cup (80 mL) ice water

For the Filling:
2 cups (475 mL) water
1 cup (240 mL) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (120 mL) cornstarch
5 egg yolks, beaten
1/4 cup (60 mL) butter
3/4 cup (180 mL) fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp (15 mL) lemon zest
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla extract

For the Meringue:
5 egg whites, room temperature
1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) cream of tartar
1/4 tsp (1.2 mL) salt
1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) vanilla extract
3/4 cup (180 mL) granulated sugar

To Make the Crust:
Make sure all ingredients are as cold as possible. Using a food processor or pastry cutter and a large bowl, combine the butter, flour, sugar and salt.Process or cut in until the mixture resembles coarse meal and begins to clump together. Sprinkle with water, let rest 30 seconds and then either process very briefly or cut in with about 15 strokes of the pastry cutter, just until the dough begins to stick together and come away from the sides of the bowl. Turn onto a lightly floured work surface and press together to form a disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 20 minutes.

Allow the dough to warm slightly to room temperature if it is too hard to roll. On a lightly floured board (or countertop) roll the disk to a thickness of 1/8 inch (.3 cm). Cut a circle about 2 inches (5 cm) larger than the pie plate and transfer the pastry into the plate by folding it in half or by rolling it onto the rolling pin. Turn the pastry under, leaving an edge that hangs over the plate about 1/2 inch (1.2 cm). Flute decoratively. Chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Line the crust with foil and fill with metal pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Carefully remove the foil and continue baking for 10 to 15 minutes, until golden. Cool completely before filling.

To Make the Filling:
Bring the water to a boil in a large, heavy saucepan. Remove from the heat and let rest 5 minutes. Whisk the sugar and cornstarch together. Add the mixture gradually to the hot water, whisking until completely incorporated. Return to the heat and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until the mixture comes to a boil. The mixture will be very thick. Add about 1 cup (240 mL) of the hot mixture to the beaten egg yolks, whisking until smooth. Whisking vigorously, add the warmed yolks to the pot and continue cooking, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in butter until incorporated. Add the lemon juice, zest and vanilla, stirring until combined. Pour into the prepared crust. Cover with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming on the surface, and cool to room temperature.

To Make the Meringue:
Preheat the oven to 375ºF (190ºC). Using an electric mixer beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar, salt and vanilla extract until soft peaks form. Add the sugar gradually, beating until it forms stiff, glossy peaks. Pile onto the cooled pie, bringing the meringue all the way over to the edge of the crust to seal it completely. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden. Cool on a rack. Serve within 6 hours to avoid a soggy crust.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Weekly Menu 1/28-2/2

I decided to go back to my cookbooks this week, rather than use only blog recipes. I was browsing through my latest Cooking Light annual cookbook (2008), and I discovered that in the index, there is a Menu page that gives you entire menu selections, not just one course! I'm going to try to use as many of these recipes as possible.

Monday - Garlic & Herb Oven-Fried Halibut; Red potatoes w/Herbed Vinaigrette; Steamed broccoli
Tuesday - Buffalo Turkey Burgers w/Blue Cheese
Wednesday - Crisp Salmon w/Lemony Spinach and Potatoes
Thursday - Grilled Chicken Tapenade Sandwiches; Grilled Vegetable Skewers; Cubed Cantaloupe drizzled w/Port
Friday - Chicken & Asparagus in White Wine Sauce; Parmesan Chive Mashed Potatoes
Saturday - Spinach & Ricotta Stuffed Shells; Roasted Green Beans & Garlic
Sunday - Beef & Beer Chili; Jack & Red Pepper Quesadillas; Salad w/Cilantro Dressing

Stay tuned for recipes and results! :)

Friday, January 25, 2008

Vanilla Bean Mousse!!!!


A few weeks ago, while we were driving in the car, Mike suddenly came up with this brilliant idea for dessert. He wanted something very light and airy, some kind of whipped treat in a very light crust, made with a vanilla bean. I told him that it sounded like he was looking for a vanilla mousse. We figured that a phyllo dough crust would probably be what he was imagining. Mike started doing some research on mousse, and told me that I needed to buy unflavored gelatin. So, I bought some, since I noticed that vanilla beans were on sale (if you can call $9.99 per bean a sale...).

My dear friend Clara helped me come up with a couple of recipes, and I did some research on my own. I ended up combining several recipes in order to come up with an actual vanilla bean mousse.

My phyllo dough didn't turn out so hot...I didn't roll it out thin enough, and the cups were too small, so it was very thick and doughy at the bottom. But, the corners were good, and we really dug it. :) It came out SO light and fluffy and flavorful, and it wasn't nearly as hard as I thought it would be. On top of that, it was fat-free! Can't beat that!!!


If you are going to use phyllo dough, be sure to bake it in advance so it can cool a bit before you are ready to pour the mousse into it.

FAT-FREE VANILLA BEAN MOUSSE

Makes 4 servings

INGREDIENTS

2 T water
2 t unflavored gelatin
1 C fat-free half & half
4 T sugar, divided
1 vanilla bean

2 large egg whites
1/8 t cream of tartar

PREPARATION

Pour 2 T water into small saucepan; sprinkle gelatin over. Let stand until gelatin softens, about 10 minutes. Stir over very low heat just until gelatin dissolves, about 1 minute. Stire in fat-free half & half, and 2 T sugar. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean; add bean. Stir over very low heat until sugar dissolves, about 2 minutes (do not boil). Transfer gelatin mixture to large bowl. Set bowl in another large bowl filled halfway with ice water; stir until mixture is cool, about 5 minutes. Discard vanilla bean.

Using electric mixer, beat egg whites with cream of tartar in medium bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually add 2 T sugar and beat until stiff but not dry. Fold egg whites into gelatin mixture. Divide mousse among 4 wineglasses or phyllo shells. Chill until mousse is softly set, at least 4 hours and up to one day. Serve mousse cold.

The verdict: Mike loved it. He was totally satisfied with the result, and thrilled that I had made his dream. :) I thought it was excellent as well. It tastes so rich and wonderful, yet it is so light and weightless to eat!

Pan-Fried Stuffed Chicken With Prosciutto, Mozzarella and Basil

Tonight I made Pan-Fried Chicken with Prosciutto, Mozzarella, and Basil, once again, off of Melissa's blog. (She really has some great recipes!) Instead of making pasta as a side dish, we decided to try spaghetti squash, since Troy had mentioned it the other day, and we all wanted to try it. I found a recipe on allrecipes.com that I altered only a tiny bit.

Pan-Fried Stuffed Chicken With Prosciutto, Mozzarella and Basil

(my changes are in red)

Ingredients

2 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
4 small slices of prosciutto or smoked ham
(I used prosciutto)
2 ounces of fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 4 slices
(I used shredded mozzarella)
8 basil leaves, plus 1/4 cup thinly sliced
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 cup chicken broth
(I ran out, so I used white wine)
2 tablespoons honey mustard
(I skipped this...not a fan of mustard and chicken anymore)
1 garlic clove, minced

Directions

Heat oven to 350°.

Cut each chicken breast in half crosswise to make 4 portions.
(I didn't do this, but after feeling terribly fat, now I think I should have.) Cut a slit into the sides of each portion. Insert a slice of prosciutto, a slice of cheese and 2 whole basil leaves into each slit. Secure well with a toothpick. (I forgot to add the cheese!!! I had to stuff it into the hot breasts in the skillet.)

Heat the oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat until hot; add the chicken. Reduce heat to medium; cook, turning once, until chicken is browned, about 3 minutes per side.

Transfer chicken to a baking pan.
Bake until chicken is cooked through, about 15-18 minutes.
(I didn't do this...my squash was in the oven and was almost done, so I just cooked the chicken entirely in the skillet and added wine and garlic to it while it cooked.)

Transfer to a platter.

Meanwhile, heat the broth, mustard and garlic to a boil in the same skillet over high heat; cook until slightly thickened, 5 minutes. Stir in sliced basil; pour over chicken.
(I totally didn't even see that you were supposed to add basil to the sauce. We had plenty inside the chicken though.)
...and, on the side...

Spaghetti Squash with Pine Nuts, Sage, and Romano

again, my changes are in red

INGREDIENTS:
1 spaghetti squash, halved
lengthwise and seeded
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts (I thought I had these, but turns out I didn't - so I skipped them!)
1/4 cup grated Pecorino
Romano cheese (I used Parmesan)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh
sage
2 teaspoons butter, melted
salt and pepper to taste
DIRECTIONS:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
2. Place the squash, cut side down, in a large baking dish.
3. Bake the squash in the preheated oven for 50 minutes.
4. Scrape flesh of squash from the rind using a fork and place in a bowl. Add the pine nuts, cheese, sage, butter, salt, and pepper; toss to combine. Serve immediately.

I served the meal with a salad created by Troy (full of all sorts of veggies...broccoli, tomatoes, mushrooms, etc.) and cheesy garlic bread.

Isn't it so cool how it comes right out of the rind all spaghetti-ish? :)
Overall rating: Mike and Troy loved the spaghetti squash. For me, it was just okay. I'd like to try it another way.
The chicken was good, but not extraordinary. I make stuffed chicken breasts all the time, so this wasn't anything special. I'll keep it in mind, but I'm not planning to bookmark the recipe.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Another blog!

In order to spare you all from random posts on my cooking blog, I have decided to start a NEW blog, just for all my random and wandering thoughts. Stop by...subscribe...it'll be the start of a fun and happy friendship. :)

http://alannaswanderingthoughts.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Sesame Chicken & Vegetable Rice


Last night I made Sesame Chicken & Vegetable Rice, also from Melissa's blog. This girl has got some great recipes. My changes are in red. I served the chicken and rice with vegetable potstickers and edamame. It was a hit with everyone!

Baked Sesame Chicken

INGREDIENTS

2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 pinch ground black pepper
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (I cut mine into strips)
2 tablespoons butter, melted (I used sesame oil)
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (I used Nanami Togarashi, a Japanese red pepper mix)

DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
2. Place soy sauce in a 9x13 inch baking dish. On a piece of wax paper, mix together the sesame seeds, flour, salt and pepper (and red pepper). Dip the chicken pieces in the soy sauce to coat, then dredge in the sesame seed mixture.
3. Place in medium/hot pan on stove top and flip after a minute or two, add a little sesame oil and soy sauce to keep the chicken moist. Remove and arrange in baking dish in a single layer, then drizzle with sesame oil and some more soy sauce.
4. Bake at 400 degrees F (200 degrees C) for approximately 40 minutes (mine took about 20 minutes because it was pre-cooked on the stove and cut into strips), or until chicken is cooked through and tender and juices run clear. Baste with drippings once during cooking time. Garnish with extra sesame seeds if desired, and serve.

Vegetable Rice

INGREDIENTS

1 cup of long grain white rice
2 cups chicken stock (I used vegetable broth so my veggie roommate could eat it)
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (I used minced garlic)
Dash of soy sauce
1 carrot grated (cook with a little water to make tender, drain water)
1 1/2 cups cooked broccoli-cut up small
Soy Sauce to your taste
oil (I used sesame oil)

DIRECTIONS

Combine first 5 ingredients, bring to boil, cover and reduce to simmer. Cook about 20 minutes or until rice is fluffy and liquid if gone. Transfer rice to stir-fry pan add carrots and broccoli. Mix together and add some oil and soy sauce to your taste.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Is Hackey Sack-ing a sport, really?

My roommate is seriously obsessed with the hackey sack. He is a videographer, and while he waits for things to load on his computer, he stops and hacks for a while. He plans nightly outings with Mike and their friends to go play hackey sack. They invited me to go tonight, but seriously, it is freaking cold outside! Why can't they just hackey in the house? Why do they feel the need to invite people from 20 miles away to drive up here and hackey with them? Why is he so determined to walk all over Del Mar to find the perfect lighted area to play hackey sack at night? I really just don't get it. I mean, if it was a sport, I guess I could understand wanting to better yourself. But hackey sack seems to me like a silly hobby, like yo-yo or juggling. Would you really devote hours and hours per day to it? It's so beyond me...

On Red Velvet

Funny thing...after posting my blog last night about the Velvet cupcakes, I got this email from Hungry Girl about nothing other than red velvet cupcakes! I instantly thought of my friend Clara. After seeing all the oil in that other recipe, I think this recipe might be a much healthier option, so I figured I'd share. :)



HG's Red Velvet Insanity Cupcakes

Red HOT!

These cupcakes are so moist, so delicious, so RED, and so completely guilt-free, that writing extra words to introduce this recipe would be a complete and total waste of everyone's time. So here ya go... HG's Red Velvet Insanity Cupcakes!

Ingredients:

For Frosting
6 tbsp. Jet-Puffed Marshmallow Creme
6 tbsp. Cool Whip Free, thawed
1/4 cup fat-free cream cheese, softened
1 tbsp. Splenda No Calorie Sweetener (granulated)

For Cupcakes
1 cup Pillsbury Moist Supreme Reduced Sugar Cake Mix, Devil's Food**
1 cup Pillsbury Moist Supreme Reduced Sugar Cake Mix, Classic Yellow**
Two 25-calorie diet hot cocoa mix packets
1/2 cup fat-free liquid egg substitute (like Egg Beaters)
1/4 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided
1/2 oz. red food coloring
1 tsp. Splenda No Calorie Sweetener (granulated)
1/8 tsp. salt

Directions:
Place half of your chocolate chips (2 tbsp.) and the contents of both cocoa packets in a tall glass. Add 12 ounces of boiling water, and stir until chips and cocoa mix have dissolved. Place glass in the freezer until mixture is cold (about 30 minutes). Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, mix together marshmallow creme, cream cheese, and 1 tbsp. Splenda until smooth. Fold in Cool Whip. Place bowl in the fridge to chill until cupcakes are ready to be frosted. Once the cocoa in the freezer has chilled, give it a stir, and pour it into a large mixing bowl. Add the cake mixes, egg substitute, remaining chocolate chips, red food coloring, 1 tsp. Splenda, and salt. Using a whisk or fork, mix batter for about 2 minutes (until smooth and blended). Batter will be thin, but don't worry, your cupcakes will puff up once baked! Line a 12-cup muffin pan with baking cups, and spray lightly with nonstick spray (or simply spray the pan with nonstick spray). Evenly spoon batter into the pan. Place pan in the oven, and bake for 15 - 20 minutes. Cupcakes will look shiny when done. Once cupcakes have cooled completely, evenly spread the frosting over them. Enjoy! MAKES 12 SERVINGS


Serving Size: 1 frosted cupcake
Calories: 134
Fat: 3g
Sodium: 266mg
Carbs: 25g
Fiber: 0.75g
Sugars: 11g
Protein: 3g

POINTS® value 3*

Monday, January 21, 2008

Bruschetta Chicken



Tonight I decided to make the Bruschetta Chicken (from foodie Melissa's blog) instead of the Sesame Chicken. I just wasn't in the mood for an Asian meal, and Mike was feeling sick, and I know how he loves Italian food. :) We both LOVED this meal!


Ingredients

2 chicken breast
Extra Virgin olive oil
white wine
balsamic vinegar
basil (I used fresh basil leaves)
salt and pepper
canned chopped tomatoes
chopped garlic
seasoned breadcrumbs(I used Panko crumbs and added onion powder, oregano, and pepper)
Parmesan cheese
mozzarella cheese

Directions

On med/high heat I put the olive oil, white wine, balsamic vinegar, basil, salt and pepper in a pan. Once hot I added the chicken and flipped after 1 to 2 minutes. I then added the tomatoes and garlic. Cover the pan and turn the heat down to med/low (flip occasionally). Let the chicken cook a good amount of time to allow it to get nice and tender.

While the chicken is cooking, mix together equal parts of breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese, add EVOO to make a crumble.

When chicken is done top it with crumble and mozzarella cheese. Turn on broiler and transfer* chicken under the broiler. Leave in there a few minutes to let the topping crisp up and cheese melt.

* I used an oven safe pan to make the transfer of the chicken easier. Otherwise you will need to transfer the chicken from the pan to an oven safe dish.

Serve this with your favorite pasta and spoon the extra tomato mixture over it.


This is SOOOO good! It's similar to our fave Chicken Parmesan, but with a slightly different twist. Mike LOVED the crushed tomatoes in lieu of regular spaghetti sauce in a jar. The chicken was SO tender and delicious! I will definitely be making this again!!!

Chargers Cupcakes



In honor of my team's incredible football season, I baked Charger cupcakes for our championship game. While the boys didn't win, they put forth a valiant effort in spite of many injured players on the team. And the cupcakes sure were a hit!

I used my friend Clara's "Blue Velvet" recipe (or Red Velvet, using blue food coloring.) They did turn out more teal than blue, but everyone understood that they were meant to be Charger blue!

I was not a huge fan of this recipe...there was SOOOO much oil in them, it was grossing me out. After baking, the cupcakes were so greasy, they fell right out of the paper liners! They have got to be super unhealthy. But, they were tasty! I cheated and frosted them with store-bought cream cheese frosting. The bolts aren't beautiful, but I had fun making them. :)


(I had to take a picture of the cupcake on my new plates...they were a perfect match!)

Makes ~24 servings (1 cupcake=1 serving)
Calories/serving (cupcake only) = ~267 (www.sparkrecipes.com)
WW pts/serving (cupcake only) = ~7

Red Velvet Cupcakes

INGREDIENTS

2.5 cups plain flour
1 cup buttermilk
1.5 cups sugar
2 cups oil
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vinegar
1 tsp salt
2 tsp cocoa
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp red food coloring (I used blue food coloring)
2 eggs

COOKING INSTRUCTIONS

> Cream sugar and oil
> Sift flour, salt and baking soda and mix with cocoa, red food coloring, vinegar, and eggs.
> Add flour mixture to the creamed sugar alternately with buttermilk.
> Stir in vanilla.
> Bake at 350 for 35 minutes.

NFR: Movies I Watched

So, I know this is totally not food related, but I feel like posting, and I don't have the capability of editing my photos on the computer here at work, so I'll post about something else.

It was a lazy weekend - I think we watched 4 movies in 2 days. On Saturday night, we watched:
1. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Mike wasn't impressed - he thought it was very non-climactic. I think he thought it was the last of the series. I informed him that there are still a couple more books to come. Still, I agree...I felt like it was building up for something big, and then it was really not a big deal after all. I enjoyed the movie, however. The HP movies are always fun to look at, even if the stories are quite a bit below my age level.
My rating: 3 stars
Mike's rating: 2 stars, maybe?

2. The Heartbreak Kid. I did enjoy this movie...it was funny until about halfway through when it just started to get boring. In the end, I just couldn't figure out what was so wrong with his wife. She seemed like a normal, crazy girl to me. I thought she was normal, anyway. So, I was pretty annoyed with Ben Stiller by the end. I had no compassion for his character at all. But, like I said, the first half was quite hilarious, and I really enjoyed it.
My rating: 3 stars
Mike's rating: 3 stars

Yesterday we watched:
3. The Darwin Awards. This movie was great! It has an all-star cast, and it is just funny all the way through! I love the short stories about dumb people, all intertwined by the story of the main characters. I never got bored, and I definitely laughed a lot. Mike just loved this movie. He kept talking about how great it was. I don't even remember hearing about this in theaters, so it was a great find on Netflix!
My rating: 4 stars
Mike's rating: 5 stars

4. Beerfest. This one we've seen a million times, and it never ceases to be funny. Seriously, it was after midnight on Sunday night, and I was laughing so loud, I was afraid the neighbors would come over and complain. It just never gets old! You can't go wrong with crude humor about beer.
My rating: 5 stars
Mike's rating: 5 stars

Weekly Menu 1/21 - 1/26

Wow, this has been a rough weekend. Other than meeting my wonderful friend Rachel for happy hour on Friday evening, which was delightful as always, things just went from bad to worse. To top it all off, my Chargers lost, which sunk me into deep depression. And Patriots fans, instead of being courteous, rub it in our faces. I am trying to be happy that only two teams in the entire NFL made it further than we did, which is no small feat! I just don't deal well with people making fun of me and the things I love. :( I did make some fun Chargers cupcakes though, that I will post when I get a chance to take the pictures off of my camera.

So, moving on...here's hope for a better week. After today, I only have 5 more Mondays at this job that I hate. Here's hoping that my business will get off the ground quickly in these next couple weeks!

Here is my menu for the next week:

Monday: Sesame Chicken & Vegetable Rice
Tuesday: Bruschetta Chicken with Pasta & Salad
Wednesday: Grilled Fish, Baked Sweet Potatoes, & Steamed Veggies
Thursday: Pan-Fried Stuffed Chicken With Prosciutto, Mozzarella and Basil
Friday: Buffalo Chicken Burgers
Saturday: Grilled Italian Sausage

Saturday, January 19, 2008

I WAS tagged!

I was just about to feel really bad for myself for not being in the in-crowd, when I realized that my friend Michele DID in fact tag me. I am just that slow. :( So, with no more to-do....

Lets have some fun with the JKnottie/JFacie friends! A game of "tag" has been created, and the results of the game are below.

What were you doing 10 years ago?
I was 19 years old, working at Circuit City. Little did I know that within 3 short months, I would be on my way to Marine Corps boot camp. What a transitional time in my life! I was very inexperienced in life...just learning how things are in the adult world, and truly enjoying NOT living at home anymore.

What were you doing 1 year ago?
I was planning the biggest day of my life -- my wedding. I was also working on my last semester of college, working towards my bachelor's degree, and filling out applications to go to school in Australia.

Five snacks you enjoy:
1) Nachos/Chips & Salsa
2) Cheese & crackers
3) Granola Bars
4) Mixed nuts - especially cashews
5) Beer

Five songs that you know all the lyrics to:
1) Part of Your World - Little Mermaid (lol)
2) Stay - Lisa Loeb
3) Chasing Cars - Snow Patrol
4) I always think I know the words to songs...but then I realize that I don't always know them all...and I'm not going to take the time right now to sing through all the songs I know. LOL

Five things you would do if you were a millionaire:
1) Buy a sweet car
2) Build my dream house
3) Travel often
4) Shop, shop, and shop!
5) Pay off all my debt and never incur anymore

Five bad habits:
1) Picking at my nails and cuticles
2) Not keeping up with my car and the necessary maintenance
3) Stealing the covers at night
4) Not cleaning the house as often as I should
5) Not keeping my blog updated

Five things you enjoy doing:
1) Spending time with Mike
2) Reading
3) Camping
4) Making artwork (bookbinding, painting, drawing)
5) Hanging out with my friends

Five things you would never wear again:
1) Tight rolled pants
2) braces
3) clothes with little hearts on them
4) hi-tops
5) slap bracelets

Five favorite toys:
1) My digital camera
2) Computer
3) Cell phone
4) decorative papers for bookbinding
5) Books?


Now....for the next step...okay friends, you have been tagged!! GO!

Jamie

Nina

Friday, January 18, 2008

I'm dumb.

Seriously, for years I always thought her name was Kate Beckinsdale. I don't know why, that's just how I kept reading it. One night, I was watching a movie and I couldn't believe how stupid they were to misspell her name in the credits - multiple times!!! A couple hours later it dawned on me that maybe I was the stupid one. So....I made a trip to the computer and checked her out in IMDB. No freaking way...her name is Kate Beckinsale. It's not the rest of the world that can't spell or read, it's me....

Yes, I am a natural blonde.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

New Dishes


I had been waiting to post this until I could actually take pictures of a meal on my nice, new dishes, but I have just been awful about getting around to it. These dishes are so pretty, they will make for some beautiful food blog photos! In the meantime, check out the new dish set we got with our wedding money and Christmas money. I heart them!!!

Friday, January 4, 2008

Christmas 2007

Yes...I'm slow on this...but I moved a couple days after Christmas, so I really had no time to upload my pictures to the internet, much less post blogs! Here are some photos from my Christmas.

Our tiny little tree. :)

My two handsome men, lounging around the house.

My baby girl...she thinks she's a Christmas gift under the tree.

Dexter is a wannabe panther.I made these delectable Cream Cheese Brownies, as found on my friend Clara's blog:
http://iheartcooking-food.blogspot.com/2007/11/chunky-cheesecake-brownies.html

Mike said, "cream cheese makes everything better!"


I put Mike to work, helping me make gift baskets for Christmas. What a great guy. :)

The baskets are filled with my recipes in a jar, other little trinkets, and gift cards.

That's all I feel like posting for now...Check back later for new 2008 updates!

December BGEX!

My goodies have arrived!!! Thanks to Sarah for the delicious peanut butter fudge. I heart peanut butter!!!!! It arrived in such a cute Christmas tin, too. Yum!


Peanut Butter Fudge

Ingredients:

1 1/2 sticks butter
2/3 C evaporated milk
3 C sugar
10 oz jar of peanut butter
7 oz jar of marshmallow cream
1 t vanilla

Directions:

1. Grease bottom of pan
2. Mix first 3 ingredients in a pot under the heat. Let it come to a complete boil. Let boil for another 5 minutes.
3. Take off heat and add peanut butter.
4. Stir and mix well.
5. Add marshmallow cream.
6. Mix and add vanilla.
7. Place in pan.
8. Let sit in refrigerator for a couple of hours before cutting.