31 March 2010

Seafood Chowder

I went home a couple weeks ago and my mom made this seafood chowder. It was fabulous, so I asked her to be a guest chef blogger... I introduce you to MOM:

It is always fun you have you home, Becky. Somehow, the pressure seems to be on when you request one of my recipes, and "oh by the way you could be my guest blogger so keep track of your ingredients." Well, the camera came out and you just asked me to write a little introduction, so I guess I made it!

This seafood chowder has so many variations and it is fun to play around with the seasonings. We like it a bit spicy, but you could make it milder by keeping out the peppers. Use whatever seafood looks fresh (and in your budget) at the store. Enjoy!

Seafood Chowder
(Mom's recipe)
Yield: 6 Servings

2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
2 Cloves Garlic, minced
1 Large Yellow Onion, chopped
1 Fresh Jalapeno, seeded & finely chopped
1 tsp. (or more) Red Pepper Flakes
2 C. Fish Stock
1/4 C. Dry Red Wine or White Wine (you pick!)
2 Large Tomatoes, coarsely chopped, with juice (you can use canned tomatoes too)
2 Tbsp. Tomato Paste
1 1/2 Tbsp. Sugar
1 tsp. Dried Oregano
1 tsp. Dried Basil
1 Bay Leaf
Potatoes, cut into pieces (I used fingerling potatoes, but use whatever you have on hand)
Salt & Freshly Ground Pepper, to taste
1 lb. Small Clams or Mussels, well-scrubbed
1/2 lb. Bay Scallops
1/2 - 1 lb. Fish (I used tilapia, sea bass is very nice or any fish that looks good)
1/2 lb. Small to Medium Shrimp, peeled & deveined
Cilantro Sprigs, for garnish
Lime Wedges, for garnish

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, jalapeno and pepper flakes. Saute until the onion is translucent and fragrant (about 2-3 minutes). Add the stock, wine tomatoes, paste, sugar, oregano, basil, bay leaf and potatoes. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer; stir occasionally until the soup is thick but still fairly liquid (about 30 minutes). Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add clams to the pot, along with the fish and shrimp. Cover and cook until the fish flakes, shrimp is pink and the clams open. Discard any clams that do not open. This takes about 7-10 minutes). To serve, ladle into warmed bowls, garnish with cilantro sprigs and a lime wedge. Serve with warm bread that can be dipped in the juices.

30 March 2010

Berry + Pecan Salad with Strawberry Vinaigrette

Doug's sister, Jenny, came in town a few weeks ago and whipped up this fabulous spring salad. It was loaded with fresh berries and the strawberry vinaigrette was a perfect compliment. If you have some extra berries in your fridge, you can make a nice dessert the next night!

Need another idea for a fruity, spring salad? My friend, Taylor, just posted an awesome recipe for her Strawberry Poppy Seed Salad. She brought it over to my place this past weekend and it was delicious!! Taylor just started a food blog, Greens & Chocolate, where healthy cooking meets sinful indulgence. She has already posted some fabulous healthy recipes that I cannot wait to try!

Berry & Pecan Salad with Strawberry Vinaigrette
(Recipe by Doug's sister, Jenny)
Yield: 6 Servings

Mesclun Salad Mix, enough for 6 people
1 pint Fresh Blackberries
1 pint Fresh Blueberries
1 pint Fresh Raspberries
1/2 C. Pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped (can use walnuts or almonds)

For the Vinaigrette:
1/2 C. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 C. Strawberries, halved
2 Tbsp. Balsamic Vinegar
1 tsp. Brown Sugar
1/2 Tbsp. Honey
Salt and Pepper, to taste

Place all vinaigrette ingredients in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until well combined. The dressing can be stored in an airtight container for a few days. To serve, place the salad in a large bowl; toss with some of the dressing until all leaves are lightly dressed. Serve salad on each plate and garnish with fresh berries and toasted pecans.

28 March 2010

Green Chili Chicken + Lime Soup

It is a beautiful day here... not really a "soup" day... but I think it is always nice to make a pot of soup on Sundays and you can enjoy it throughout the week. You want to know what else I'm enjoying today? The gorgeous lavender-colored tulips on my kitchen table. My awesome new road bike. Watching little seeds turn into herbs on my balcony. I hope you all are enjoying the day as well! Now it is time to hit the road and get some fresh air!

Green Chili Chicken & Lime Soup
(Adapted from Picky Palate)
Yield: 8 Servings

2 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Onion, diced
4 Cloves Garlic, minced
6 C. Chicken Broth (I make my own base)
3 oz. Tomato Paste
10 oz. Can of Rotel Tomatoes, mild
7 oz. Can of Diced Green Chilies
4 Boneless Skinless Chicken Cutlets; cooked & shredded
2 1/2 C. Rice of choice, cooked (I used jasmine)
1/4 C. Fresh Lime Juice
1 1/2 tsp. Ground Cumin
Salt & Freshly Ground Black Pepper, to taste
1 Bunch of Fresh Cilantro, chopped
2 Avocados, diced & drizzled with lime juice
1 C. Cheddar Cheese, shredded
1 C. Sour Cream, fat free
Tortilla Chips or Strips, for garnish

Pour oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Saute the onions for 5 minutes, then add the garlic; cook for 1 minute longer. Stir in the chicken broth, tomato paste, tomatoes, green chilies, chicken breast (seasoned with salt and pepper), rice, lime juice, and seasonings. Cook for 5 minutes or until it comes to a low boil. Season to taste. Right before you are ready to serve, add the chopped cilantro. Serve with diced avocados, shredded cheddar, sour cream, and tortilla chips. Doug loves to add heat to his chili, so he added a drizzle Siracha on it too!

25 March 2010

Lemon Tarts with Fresh Berries

I have a confession to make. I went through two different tart crust recipes for this dessert. Both failed. My mom came to the rescue and pulled out her Joy of Cooking book and whipped up a trusty recipe for pie crust. Plain and simple - the finished product turned out great! I am still on the search for the perfect tart crust, so if any of you have a good recipe, please send it my way! Now, onto a lighter note: the lemon curd was a home run! I love, love, love it! It is so easy to make and has the perfect lemony flavor in it.

This lemon curd recipe makes enough to fill 10-12 individual (4'') tart pans.

Individual Lemon Tarts with Fresh Berries
(Adapted from Gourmet, May 2008)
Yield: 10 tartlets

For Tart Shell:
Use your favorite recipe for a tart or pie crust

For the Lemon Curd:
3 Large Lemons (enough to make 3/4 C. juice)
1 Tbsp. Lemon Zest
3/4 C. Sugar
2 tsp. Cornstarch
2 Whole Large Eggs + 2 Large Yolks
1/2 Stick Unsalted Butter, cut into cubes
1 1/2 Tbsp. Fruity Olive Oil

For Garnish:
Fresh Blueberries
Fresh Raspberries
Powdered Sugar

Make your favorite recipe for tart or pie crust and bake it in individual tart pans; let cool. Meanwhile, grate enough zest from the lemons to measure 1 Tbsp., then freshly squeeze 3/4 C. juice from the lemons. Whisk together lemon zest and juice in a medium saucepan. Add sugar, cornstarch, whole eggs, and yolk; bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly. This will take you a while to get it to a boil while whisking. Once it starts boiling, then set your kitchen timer for two minutes; whisk constantly for those two minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in butter and oil until smooth. Pour the lemon curd into a cooled shell and chill until set (at least 2 hours). Just before serving, top each tart with fresh berries and dust with powdered sugar.

24 March 2010

Orecchiette with Sun-Dried Tomatoes + Basil

Okay, people... here is the long-anticipated pasta recipe for orecchiette with sun-dried tomatoes and basil. I even received a couple cute notes in the mail thanking me for catering the bridal shower AND that they were anxiously awaiting this recipe to be posted on my blog. (Shout out to those ladies - you totally made my day)!

Orecchiette looks like small ears in the form of pasta. It literally means "little ears" in Italian. This type of pasta is rather hard to find. If you are in the Minneapolis area, I know that you can find it here. If you are in Omaha, I know that you can find it here. If you live somewhere else, then enjoy the search! However, you can always substitute any other sort of fresh pasta you can get your hands on. Enjoy! This is a recipe that I'll definitely keep in my recipe box for a long time.

(Pictured above with Chicken Saltimbocca)

Orecchiette with Sun-Dried Tomatoes & Basil
(A Thyme for Wine Original)
Yield: 12 Servings

1 (16 oz.) Package of Orecchiette Pasta
2 (7 oz.) Jars of Sun-Dried Tomatoes in Oil; thinly sliced, oil reserved
4 Garlic Cloves, minced
1 C. Fresh Basil Leaves, chiffonade
1/4 - 1/2 C. White Wine (Pinot Grigio or Chardonnay)
Salt & Pepper, to taste
Peccorino Romano Cheese, freshly grated (for garnish)

Bring salted water to a rapid boil and cook the orecchiette according to the package (normally it takes 15 minutes until it gets al dente). While the pasta is cooking, reserve the oil from the sun-dried tomatoes and put into a large skillet. Heat the sun-dried tomato oil over medium-high heat; add the minced garlic. Once it absorbs the red color, then add the basil and tomatoes to the skillet; turn the heat down to medium-low. Season with salt and pepper. Saute for two minutes and then add the drained pasta to the large skillet and cook for another 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the white wine to de-glaze the bottom of the pan. Turn off the heat and let it sit for a few minutes. When ready to serve, freshly grate some peccorino romano cheese on top of each serving.

23 March 2010

Chicken Saltimbocca

If any of you are hosting a little gathering with some friends anytime soon, I urge you to give this recipe a try! I loved the look of the presentation and the way that the flavors danced together. You can prep everything earlier in the day and then just have to worry about searing it when your guests are there.

Chicken Saltimbocca
(Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis)
Yield: 6 Servings

6 (3 oz.) Chicken Cutlets, pounded to evenly flatten
Salt & Pepper, freshly ground
6 Slices of Prosciutto (ask the butcher to slice it paper thin)
1 (10 oz.) Box of Frozen Chopped Spinach, thawed
3 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/4 C. Parmesan Cheese, grated
1 1/2 C. Chicken Stock (homemade), or 14 oz. low-salt broth
2 Tbsp. Fresh Lemon Juice
Balsamic Glaze, for garnish (optional; buy at store or make your own)

Place the chicken cutlets on a piece of wax paper or plastic wrap. Place a piece of wax paper or plastic wrap on top of the cutlets too; pound flat with a mallet, making sure each piece is the same thickness. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper on both sides. Lay 1 slice of prosciutto on each chicken cutlet. Meanwhile, squeeze the defrosted spinach to remove the excess water (I do this using a paper towel). In a small bowl, season the spinach with salt and pepper and toss it with 1 Tbsp. of olive oil to coat. Arrange an even, thin layer of spinach on the prosciutto slices. Then, sprinkle the Parmesan evenly over each. Beginning at the short tapered end, roll up each chicken cutlet as for a jellyroll. Secure with a toothpick. (Everything up to this step can be done ahead of time).

Heat the remaining 2 Tbsp. of olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add the chicken and cook until all sides are golden brown (about 2 minutes per side). Add the chicken broth and lemon juice to the pan; bring to a boil on high heat. Once it starts boiling, reduce it to medium-low heat and cover. Simmer until chicken is cooked through (about 8 to 10 minutes). Transfer the chicken to a warming dish. Simmer the cooking liquid over high head until it is reduced to 2/3 C. (about 5 minutes). Season the cooking liquid with salt and pepper to taste. Remove the toothpicks from the chicken and cut the breasts on a bias. Drizzle the reduction over the chicken (optional) and serve immediately. I drizzled balsamic glaze on the plate as well.

20 March 2010

Herb Salad with Goat Cheese + Champagne Dijon Vinaigrette

There is something about the simplicity of this salad that I just adore. Fresh spring herbs lightly dressed in a champagne-dijon vinaigrette and then topped off with some crumbled goat cheese - what is not to love?! The fresh herbs make this salad absolutely wonderful. The simplicity of the ingredients lends you to really focus on the flavors of the fresh herbs and it is a perfect way to start (or end) a meal. Happy first day of SPRING!

Herb Salad with Goat Cheese & Champagne-Dijon Vinaigrette
(Adapted from Sunday Suppers)
Yield: 10 servings

Salad Greens for 10 people
4 Tbsp. of Each: Dill, Basil & Parsley
1 Tbsp. Dijon Mustard
1 Tbsp. Shallots, minced
1/4 C. Champagne Vinegar
3/4 C. Extra Virgin Olive Oil (use your best stuff)
Kosher Salt, to taste
Black Pepper, freshly ground, to taste
Goat Cheese, crumbled (for garnish)

In the bowl of a food processor (or a blender), combine the mustard, shallots, and vinegar. Pour the olive oil in a slow stream. The dressing should be thick and emulsified. Taste; add salt and pepper as needed. (This can be done ahead of time. Put the dressing in a sealed container and keep in the fridge until needed). Put the greens in a large bowl, scatter the fresh herbs on top and toss with the dressing (this makes a lot of dressing, so don't use it all). Serve immediately.

18 March 2010

Cucumber Canapés with Smoked Salmon Mousse

These are my favorite "make ahead" appetizers! I seriously could not have made a better appetizer to WOW the guests at the bridal shower. Just look at them; they are so cute! I made the mousse the night before the party, put it in a piping bag, and then placed it in the fridge. It is really important to prep as much as you can the night before or the morning of the party so that you don't have to focus on each component of the dishes. Basically, I just had to assemble the canapés right before I wanted to serve them. Simple and easy! Now that's what I'm talking about!

Cucumber Canapés with Smoked Salmon Mousse
(Loosely adapted from Annie's Eats)
Yield: 60 bites

8 oz. Smoked Salmon, flaked with a fork
8 oz. Cream Cheese
3 Tbsp. Fresh Dill, roughly chopped (or 1 tsp. dried dill weed)
1/4 tsp. Cayenne Pepper
Pinch of Salt, to taste
Freshly Ground Black Pepper, to taste
1 Clove of Garlic, finely mined
Fresh Dill or Chives (for garnish)
Paprika (for garnish)
2 English Cucumbers, sliced 1/4 - 1/2'' thick

Combine salmon, cream cheese, dill, cayenne pepper, salt, pepper, and garlic in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse repeatedly until all ingredients are blended and the mixture is smooth. Transfer to a serving dish to simply use this as a dip or a spread. If you want to make canapés, transfer this mixture to a piping bag. I would suggest refrigerating the salmon mixture for at least one hour before serving this as a dip or before piping onto the cucumber slices. If you are making this the night before, remember to remove the mousse about 30 minutes before you plan to pipe because you want it to be a little soft. I like to cut the cucumbers about 1/2'' thick and set the slices on a paper towel to soak up some excess liquid. Pipe the mousse onto each slice. Garnish with dill or chives and sprinkle some paprika on top. Serve cold.

17 March 2010

Caramelized Mushroom + Brie Tartlets

I chose this as one of my appetizers because I knew it would be somewhat easy to assemble at the party. Something with very few ingredients is normally a good choice. I minced the garlic and chopped the mushrooms about 30 minutes before the party started. While the mushrooms were caramelizing, I placed the pre-made phyllo cups on a baking sheet, cut the brie into bite-size pieces, and put them in the phyllo cups. I finished the mushroom and parsley mixture and put a small spoonful in each tartlet. Once I heard all the ladies' voices in the other room, then I popped them in the oven for a few minutes - just until the brie started to soften.

I am pretty sure that I heard whispers among the ladies at the bridal shower that these were delicious. Hearing things like that always makes the chef feel good!!

Caramelized Mushroom & Brie Tartlets
Yield: 15 tartlets

1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
8 oz. Mushrooms (button, cremini, etc.), chopped into small pieces
3 Cloves of Garlic, minced
Salt and Pepper, to taste
Brie Cheese, cut into small pieces (that fit into the tart shells)
15 Mini Phyllo Cups (found in the frozen food section)
Fresh Parsley, chopped

Preheat oven to 375F degrees. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chopped mushrooms and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. I know it will seem hard to do, but do not stir the mushrooms - you want them to caramelize! Then, toss the mushrooms with a wooden spoon and season with salt and freshly cracked pepper; cook for 2 more minutes. Add the garlic and some chopped parsley; cook for 1 minute, then remove from heat. Place a piece of brie cheese in each phyllo cup and top with a spoonful of the mushroom mixture. Bake in the oven for 4 to 5 minutes on a baking sheet. The cheese will soften and the phyllo cups will turn golden brown. Serve immediately on a platter for your guests to enjoy.

16 March 2010

Wedding Cake Sugar Cookies

I made these sugar cookies for the bridal shower I catered this weekend. Who needs name cards at the table when you can personalize each cookie? Simply obtain the guest list and make personalized sugar cookie place cards. I guarantee each guest will feel special when they sit down at the table. Plus, it is a sweet snack for them to take home after the party!

Wedding Cake Sugar Cookies

I made the same recipe that I used for my Valentine's Sugar Cookies.

I found the wedding cake cookie cutter at Sur La Table for only $1.

15 March 2010

Bridal Shower Luncheon Menu

My sister threw a bridal shower for one of her college sorority sisters this past weekend and guess who she hired to cater the ladies luncheon? ...ME!

I was so thrilled to be a part of this event because I have known the bride-to-be for several years and it was fun to help her celebrate. My sister granted me full authority on all things food-related. I knew I wanted to serve something elegant, light, and classy. I think I came up with a pretty good menu and it seemed like all the ladies enjoyed the food. I will be posting recipes for EVERYTHING sometime this week, so stay tuned....

Bridal Shower Luncheon Menu

Caramelized Mushroom & Brie Tartlets
Cucumber Canapés with Smoked Salmon Mousse

Herb Salad & Champagne-Dijon Vinaigrette

Chicken Saltimbocca
Orecchiette with Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Wedding Cake Sugar Cookies (for the place cards)
Lemon Tart with Fresh Berries

12 March 2010

Banana Bread Bites

Are you having company stay with you for the weekend? Don't you dare buy a box of doughnut holes to set out for breakfast (eh-hmmm sister Sarah, are you listening?!)! It will take you more time to go to the grocery store than it will for you to make these banana bread bites. Seriously, what could be better than a warm bowl of homemade mini muffins with your morning coffee? Nothing!

Banana Bread Bites
(Adapted from Dianasaur)
Yield: 18 mini muffins

2 Ripe Bananas
3 Tbsp. Butter, melted
1/4 C. Sugar
1 Egg
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1 tsp. Baking Powder
1/4 tsp. Fine Salt
1 C. All-Purpose Flour

Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Peel bananas and mush them with a fork. Add the bananas, melted butter, sugar, and egg to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on slow speed until all ingredients are incorporated. Add the rest of the ingredients; mix until incorporated. You can also do this by hand if you don't want to use an electric mixer. Spray the cups of a mini muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray or grease with softened butter. Fill the cups with a tablespoon of the banana mixture. Bake for 13 to 15 minutes or until just golden on the top. Turn the muffins out onto a wire rack to cool.

11 March 2010

Fettuccini with Scallops, Zucchini + Tomatoes

I decided to cook Becky dinner because she deserved it. The only advice she gave me was to cook something other than chicken. Besides that, I was left wandering aimlessly. I went to trusty Google and typed in "recipes." AllReceipes.com came to my rescue. I searched pastas and this item caught my attention. I ran this by the head chef and she confirmed it was a good pick. This dish is filled with fresh vegetables - great for this time of the year. I have not had zucchini or scallops in a while, so it was nice. Add a little extra red pepper flakes for some heat. We enjoyed this meal with some white wine while watching "Up In The Air." If you are looking for a healthy dish with some substance, try this.
Guest Chef Blogger - Doug

Fettuccini with Scallops, Zucchini & Tomatoes
(Adapted from All Recipes)
Yield: 4 Servings

1 lb. Fettuccini Pasta
1/4 C. Olive Oil
3 Cloves Garlic, minced
2 Zucchini, diced
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/2 tsp. Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
4 Roma Tomatoes, chopped
1 lb. Bay Scallops
Salt & Pepper (to taste)
1 C. Fresh Basil, chopped
2 Tbsp. Lemon Juice
Parmesan Cheese, grated
Lemon Wedges (for garnish)

In a large pot with boiling salted water, cook pasta until al dente; drain. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat oil, add garlic and cook until tender. Add the zucchini, salt, and red pepper flakes, and saute for 10 minutes. Add chopped tomatoes, bay scallops (seasoned with salt and pepper), and fresh basil; simmer for 5 minutes (or until scallops are opaque). Alternatively, you can sear the scallops in another skillet for a golden-brown effect. Squeeze the juice of one lemon over the zucchini and tomato mixture. Pour sauce over cooked pasta and serve with grated Parmesan cheese. Garnish with a lemon wedge. Serve immediately.

09 March 2010

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

This hummus is going to be my "go to" appetizer from now on! I had all of these things in my pantry or fridge, except for the chickpeas. I had no idea how inexpensive it is to make your own hummus! I will never again buy a $6 tub of hummus... nor should you! A can of chickpeas was only $0.89 at our local grocery store and the red peppers were on sale too! I grabbed a bag of pita chips (although, you can easily make your own) and I was good to go for a quick and easy appetizer. I'm so happy my mom got me a food processor for Christmas because I have been using it a lot lately. Thanks, Mom!

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
Yield: 2 Cups

1 (15 oz.) Can of Garbanzo Beans (chickpeas), drained
1 Red Bell Pepper, roasted, skinned, seeded & chopped
3/4 tsp. Garlic, minced
1/4 tsp. Salt
1/4 tsp. Crushed Red Pepper
3 Tbsp. Lemon Juice, to taste
2 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 tsp. Ground Cumin
1/8 tsp. Ground Black Pepper
1/4 tsp. Onion Powder
1/4 tsp. Paprika

Place the garbanzo beans and red bell pepper in a bowl of a food processor; blend to incorporate. Then add the garlic, salt, crushed red pepper, lemon juice, olive oil, cumin, pepper and onion powder; blend until smooth. Scrape down the sides with a small spatula and blend again. Taste and adjust seasonings to your liking (add more lemon juice, olive oil, or salt if necessary). Transfer to a wide, shallow bowl for serving. Garnish with a drizzle of olive oil, some paprika, crushed red pepper flakes, and a few chopped red peppers. Serve with fresh veggies, pita chips, bagel chips, or on a sandwich!

08 March 2010

Tropical Chicken Salad + Honey Mustard Dressing

I have a real problem with throwing away unused ingredients in my fridge. I made coconut chicken curry soup last week, so I had some extra coconut that I wanted to use up. I decided to make buttermilk-coconut chicken strips, put them over a bed of spinach that was lightly dressed in a honey-mustard mixture, and I garnished it with mandarin oranges. The end result turned out to be tropical and refreshing! It is perfect for lunch or for a light dinner. Hope you enjoy it!

Buttermilk-Coconut Chicken Strips
(Adapted from Cooking Light)
Yield: 6 Servings

1.5 Lb. Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
1 Pint Low-Fat Buttermilk
1/2 C. All-Purpose Flour
1 Large Egg + 2 Egg Whites, lightly beaten
3/4 C. Panko Bread Crumbs
3/4 C. Sweetened Coconut Flakes
1 tsp. Garlic Powder
3/4 tsp. Salt
1/2 tsp. Curry Powder
1/4 tsp. Cayenne Pepper

Cut chicken into 1/4-inch-thick strips. Combine chicken and buttermilk in a large zip-lock bag; refrigerate for one hour. Meanwhile, put flour in a medium bowl. Discard buttermilk and put chicken strips into flour; toss to coat. Preheat oven to 450F degrees. Combine egg and egg whites in a small bowl. Combine panko, coconut, garlic powder, salt, curry powder, and cayenne in a shallow dish. Working with one chicken strip at a time, dip into egg mixture; dredge in panko-coconut mixture; place on prepared baking sheet. Repeat procedure with remaining chicken strips. Lightly drizzle the chicken strips with olive oil or spray with cooking spray once on the baking sheet (this will help them brown). Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve over baby spinach tossed in honey mustard dressing (below) and garnish with mandarin oranges.

Honey Mustard Dressing

3 Tbsp. Honey
2 Tbsp. Dijon Mustard
1 Tbsp. Whole Grain Mustard
2 Tbsp. Rice Vinegar

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk with a fork until smooth. Taste to see if you want a sweeter dressing; if so, add more honey. Serve as a dressing or as a dip.

05 March 2010

Mini Honey Cornbread Muffins

These mini cornbread muffins have a touch of honey and are the perfect pair to a warm, homemade soup. I know spring is just around the corner, so use these next few weeks to make your last batch of hearty soup of the season! Don't you think they would be fabulous with my chili recipe? Since I normally cook for two, we have a quite a few extra mini muffins. Solution: Freeze them and use them later for making the cornbread crust on my pork chop recipe. So there. Two perfectly good excuses to make these mini muffins and you don't even need to break out the mixer!

Mini Honey Cornbread Muffins
(Loosely adapted from the Neelys)
Yield: 18 mini muffins

1/2 C. Yellow Cornmeal
1/2 C. All-Purpose Flour
1/2 Tbsp. Baking Powder
1/4 C. Sugar
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/2 C. Skim Milk
1 Large Egg
2 Tbsp. Butter, melted
1/2 C. Honey

Preheat oven to 400F degrees. In a medium bowl, mix the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the skim milk, egg, melted butter, and honey. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir to combine until just incorporated. Prepare a mini muffin pan with non-stick spray. I didn't use paper liners, but you certainly can if you want. One heaping tablespoon is the perfect amount of batter for one mini muffin. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until golden.

02 March 2010

Coconut Chicken Curry Soup

Growing up, I was never really a fan of curry. Lately, that has changed! I have been experimenting with new flavors and I think my kitchen is really enjoying it (and my tummy). When I introduce a new flavor into a dish, I find that I spend more time enjoying each bite. I saw this little dish on GoodLife Eats and knew that I just had to give it a try. It is tropical, fun, and simply delicious on any sort of day!

Coconut Chicken Curry Soup
(Adapted from Katie at GoodLife Eats)
Yield: 4 Servings

1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1/2 of a Medium Yellow Onion, roughly chopped
2 1/2 C. Chicken Broth
14 oz. Unsweetened Lite Coconut Milk
2 tsp. Curry Powder
1 Jalapeno, seeded & minced
2 Large Chicken Breasts (or 3 smaller ones), cut into bit sized pieces
1 Small Red Bell Pepper, sliced thin
1/2 C. Green Onion, chopped
1/2 C. Fresh Cilantro, chopped (plus extra for garnish)
1 Lime, zested and juiced
Salt & Pepper (to taste)
1/2 C. Shredded Coconut (for garnish)
Crushed Red Pepper Flakes (optional - for garnish)
2 C. Freshly Cooked Jasmine Rice

Heat the olive oil in a soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the chicken chunks into the pot and season with salt and pepper. Saute until completely cooked and golden-brown. Remove chicken from the pot and put in a medium bowl; set aside. In the same soup pot, add the onion and saute until tender. Add a little more olive oil and return the chicken to the pot. Add the chicken broth, coconut milk, curry powder, and jalapeno. Bring to a simmer and then add the bell pepper, green onion, and cilantro; simmer for 3 more minutes. Stir in the lime juice and lime zest. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Spoon rice into four bowls and ladle the curry soup on top. Garnish with additional cilantro and shredded coconut. If you want your soup to have a little kick, then add some crushed red pepper flakes.

01 March 2010

Italian Herb + Cheese Popcorn

We invited about 20 of our friends over for "movie night" this weekend in our theater room! It was a blast. I made some popcorn for the gathering... actually lots of it! I made a few batches of regular popcorn and then I made a few batches of this Italian Herb and Cheese Popcorn. It is such a simple recipe and you probably have all of the ingredients in your pantry anyway. Just make some freshly popped popcorn and sprinkle on your favorite dried herbs and some Parmesan cheese... presto change-o, you have a wonderful snack for the movies!

Italian Herb & Cheese Popcorn
(Adapted from Recipe Tips)
Yield: About 4 quarts

2 oz. Parmesan Cheese, finely grated
1/2 tsp. Dried Oregano
1/2 tsp. Dried Basil
1/2 tsp. Parsley Flakes
1/4 tsp. Garlic Salt
1/4 tsp. Onion Powder
1/4 tsp. Salt
3 Tbsp. Vegetable Oil
1/2 C. Popcorn Kernels, unpopped
3 Tbsp. Butter, melted

In a small bowl, combine cheese, oregano, basil, parsley, garlic salt, onion powder, and salt. Set aside. In a large popcorn pan or soup pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add popcorn kernels and cover pan to cook. Shake the pan frequently so that the popcorn doesn't burn. Once popping has stopped, remove pan from heat and pour the popped corn into a large shallow bowl. Drizzle popcorn with melted butter and immediately sprinkle on the cheese mixture. Toss until evenly coated. Tip: I doubled this recipe, so I put everything in a clean brown paper bag and tossed everything together that way.