29 July 2010

Classic Basil Pesto

One of my followers, Melissa, mentioned that her hubby doesn't necessarily like the taste of basil. It is a whole different story in my kitchen! Doug loves basil just about as much as I do! I went to the farmers market last weekend and picked up a huge bunch of basil. It made my entire fridge smell wonderful! I have some basil growing in my balcony flower boxes, but I hate cutting it because I feel like I'm killing my precious little herb-babies! You can't go wrong making some classic basil pesto. It can be stored for up to 3 weeks if you cover and refrigerate it. Enjoy!

Classic Basil Pesto
(From Byerly's July 2010)
Yield: 2 Cups

2 Garlic Cloves, crushed under a knife & peeled
1/3 C. Pine Nuts
1/2 C. Parmesan Cheese, freshly grated
3 C. Packed Fresh Basil Leaves, well rinsed & dried in spinner
1/2 C. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper, freshly ground (to taste)

With the machine running, drop the garlic through the feed tube of a food processor. Add the nuts and cheese; process until the nuts are finely chopped. Add the basil. Gradually add the oil, scraping down the sides of the work bowl as needed to make a thick paste. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer the pesto to a shallow container and smooth the top. Pour a thin film of olive oil over the pesto to discourage discoloration.

28 July 2010

Grilled Corn + Tomato Salad

Holy cow.... just got back from a whole week of wedding planning back in Minneapolis! I seriously cannot wait until our big day! YAY!!! I know some of you guys really want some details about our wedding, but we want to keep most of it a surprise. Once we narrow down our vendors, then I will spill the details. Right now, I'll just leave you with a few mental images... chandeliers, candlelight, a dress (yes, I found my dream dress!!), and homemade favors (only makes sense, right??!)... all while overlooking the water! Can't wait to marry my best friend! LOVES!

Grilled Corn & Tomato Salad
(Adapted from Williams-Sonoma)
Yield: 8 Servings

6 Tbsp. Unsalted Butter, melted
A Dash of Tabasco Sauce
2 Tbsp. Fresh Basil, finely chopped
1 tsp. Fine Sea Salt
1/2 tsp. Black Pepper, freshly ground
6 Ears White or Yellow Corn, husks & silks removed
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil, for brushing, plus 1/2 C.
2 Tbsp. Fresh Lime Juice
2 Tbsp. Fresh Chives, finely snipped
1 Bunch Watercress, tough stems removed (or Spinach)
4 C. Cherry Tomatoes, halved lengthwise

In a small bowl, whisk together the melted butter, Tabasco, basil, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper. Place 3 sheets of foil (each 15''-long) on the counter and place 2 ears of corn on each sheet. Brush corn with butter mixture and wrap up in the foil. Meanwhile, prepare the grill (medium heat). Grill the corn packages for 10 minutes, turning occasionally with tongs. Unwrap the corn and grill the ears directly on the rack for another 5-10 minutes (until nicely charred - not blackened). When corn is cool enough to handle, place each ear over a large serving bowl and cut off the kernels from the cob. Add the lime juice, 1/2 C. olive oil, chives, remaining 1/2 tsp. salt, and remaining 1/4 tsp. pepper in the bowl with the corn and toss to combine. Add the watercress (or spinach) and cherry tomatoes; toss gently. Serve immediately.

20 July 2010

The Ultimate Comfort Cookie

I think my favorite thing to do is bake cookies for friends. So when I called my cute cousins the other day and found out that their grandpa passed away, I knew that some comfort cookies needed to be sent their way. These are like chocolate chip cookies with everything else in the baking aisle dumped in there too... heath toffee bits, white chocolate chips, oatmeal, coconut, and a whole lot of love! We have Natalie, from The Sweets Life, to thank us for this recipe! Check out her scrumptious blog for more sinful sweets. Oh, and I whipped up some basic rice krispie bars too because everybody loves those too - no matter how old or young one may be!

The Ultimate Comfort Cookie
(Adapted from Natalie)
Yield: 4-5 dozen

1 C. Unsalted Butter, softened
1 C. Granulated Sugar
1 C. Brown Sugar, loosely packed
2 Eggs
2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
2 C. Flour
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1 tsp. Baking Powder
1 tsp. Salt
2 C. Old Fashioned Oats
1 C. Shredded Coconut
1 C. Heath Toffee Chips
1 C. White Chocolate Chips
1 C. Chocolate Chips

Preheat oven to 325F degrees. Cream the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar together in a bowl fitted with an electric mixer. Beat in the eggs (one at a time) and vanilla. In a separate bowl, mix together the dry ingredients: flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Slowly add the dry mixture to the wet mixture. Add the oats, coconut, toffee chips, white chocolate chips, and chocolate chips (adding only one of those ingredients at a time until it is incorporated). Mix on the lowest speed. Drop tablespoons of dough on parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake for 13-15 minutes (or until the edges are golden brown).

19 July 2010

Turkey Sloppy Joes

Here is a dish that I have made multiple times and have never posted before. I know... I have been holding out on you. I kind of just assumed that you all have a great recipe for sloppy joes... but if you don't have a good one, then you will have to try this recipe! It uses ground turkey meat instead of beef (the dude can't even tell the difference). I love the heat from the chipotle peppers in adobo sauce... holy yum! Okay, just try making them and let me know how your friends/family like the recipe! Have a great week!

Turkey Sloppy Joes
(Adapted from here)
Yield: 4 Servings

1 lb. Lean Ground Turkey
1/2 Whole Red Bell Pepper, diced
2 Cloves Garlic, minced
2 Whole Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce, chopped
1/2 Onion, diced
1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
6 oz. Tomato Paste
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire Sauce
3/4 - 1 C. Water
1 pkg. Sloppy Joe Seasoning
Wheat Hamburger Buns, for serving

In a large skillet, brown the turkey, pepper, garlic, adobo peppers and onions in olive oil. Once browned, add tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, seasonings, and about 1 Cup water to the skillet. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes (with the lid on) until thick. Serve over slightly warmed wheat hamburger buns.

15 July 2010

Honey-Ancho Chile Butter

Doug's mom made this Honey-Ancho Chile Butter up at the cabin the other weekend. Everybody loved it! We put it on corn-on-the-cob and her delicious cornbread. I'm always looking for recipes that can be made ahead of time, and this one certainly goes into that file! You can prepare this butter 2 days ahead of time - be sure to cover and chill it. Take it out of the fridge before serving so that it can properly soften.

Sorry for the bad picture. I took one picture at the table and it didn't turn out too well, but I promise that this butter will be fabulous at your next BBQ!

Honey-Ancho Chile Butter
Yield: 8 Servings

8 Tbsp. (1 stick) Unsalted Butter, room temperature, divided
1 Tbsp. Ancho Chile Powder
1 tsp. Ground Cumin
1 Tbsp. Honey
1/2 tsp. Dried Oregano
1/2 tsp. Coarse Kosher Salt
1/4 tsp. Granulated Garlic or Garlic Powder
1/4 tsp. Onion Powder

Melt 2 Tbsp. butter in a small skillet over medium-low heat. Add the chile powder and cumin; stir for 10 seconds. Transfer to a medium bowl; stir in honey and cool. Add oregano, coarse salt, granulated garlic, onion powder, and 6 Tbsp. room temperature butter to the other butter mixture. Mix with a spoon until smooth.

14 July 2010

Chicken + Steak Summer Fajitas

Some of you might be gasping at the fact that I posted something with red meat in it... I know, I know. The "steak" part of this recipe is primarily for Doug's sake. I assembled my fajitas with chicken, avocado, tomatoes, and a dollop of the yogurt sauce. Oh the yogurt sauce, that is reason alone to make these fajitas this summer! You'll fall in love with this refreshing take on a traditional fajita. Enjoy!

Of course, we enjoyed our summer dinner outside with some frozen margaritas!

Chicken & Steak Summer Fajitas
(Inspired by Chocolate Shavings)
Yield: 4 Servings

Flank Steak (enough for 2 people)
Chicken Breasts, boneless & skinless (enough for 2 people)
1/2 Pint Cherry Tomatoes, cut into quarters
1 Avocado, cubed
1 Tbsp. Lemon Juice
1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper, to taste
1 Package Fajita Tortillas

Yogurt Sauce:
1/2 C. Greek Yogurt
1/2 Lemon, juiced
1 tsp. Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper, to taste
1/4 C. Cucumber, seeded & finely diced

Put the quartered tomatoes and cubed avocado in a small bowl. Drizzle with lemon juice and olive oil; season with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate while you prepare the rest of the meal. Turn the grill to medium high heat. I drizzled the steak and chicken with a little olive oil, then seasoned with salt and pepper. Cook until flank steak is medium rare and chicken is cooked through; pull off the grill and bring inside. While the meat is resting, make the yogurt sauce. Add all the yogurt sauce ingredients in another small bowl and mix to combine. Slice the meat against the grain. To assemble, lay a tortilla on a plate, add the meat of your choice, a spoonful of the tomato and avocado mixture, and a dollop of the yogurt sauce.

13 July 2010

Macaroni Tuna Salad

I need to discuss this salad before I give you the recipe. First, I do not know why my recipe card says "Macaroni Tuna Salad" when it clearly uses shells... not macaroni. Secondly, I grew up on this stuff. Literally. My nanny made it for us all the time and I STILL enjoy it! I made a few healthy changes to it by incorporating whole wheat pasta, low-fat mayo (or miracle whip), and eliminating a lot of the sodium. Hope you guys enjoy one of my favorite summertime pasta salad dishes!

Macaroni Tuna Salad
Yield: 10-12 Servings (as a side)

1 (16 oz) Box Small Macaroni Shells, cooked, rinsed in cold water
5 Eggs, hard-boiled, chopped
1 (16 oz) Bag Frozen Peas, thawed
2 tsp. Celery Salt
3/4 C. Celery, chopped
1 tsp. Salt & Pepper
3/4 C. Miracle Whip
3-4 (6.5 oz) Cans of Tuna in water, drained

Mix miracle whip, salt, pepper, celery salt; add tuna (drained) and mix. Add noodles, peas, and chopped eggs. Stir to combine. Add additional salt, pepper, etc. as needed. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

09 July 2010

Paul Bunyan Chocolate Sheet Cake

Doug's mom has some of the best recipes. I hope you have tried her Mandarin Orange Salad, Oyster Cracker Nibbles, and her awesome Blue Margaritas! She definitely just made another crowd-pleaser recipe this past weekend for the 4th of July. Everyone enjoyed her Paul Bunyan Chocolate Sheet Cake. We cut it up and ate them like brownies. They were moist and cake-like. You simply must make these for your next big gathering! Plus, if I haven't convinced you to make these yet, they freeze well - so just make them and freeze the rest! Thanks for the recipe, Mrs. D! Enjoy!

Paul Bunyan Chocolate Sheet Cake
(Mrs. D's Recipe)
Yield: Enough Servings for a Hungry Crowd!

2 C. Flour
2 C. Sugar
2 Sticks Margarine or 1 Stick + 1/2 C. Oil
4 Tbsp. Cocoa Powder
1 C. Water
1/2 C. Buttermilk
2 Eggs, beaten
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1/2 tsp. Ground Cinnamon

1 Stick Margarine
4 Tbsp. Cocoa Powder
6 Tbsp. Milk
1 lb. Box Powdered Sugar
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1 C. Pecans, chopped (optional)
1 C. Marshmallows (optional)

Make the Cake: Sift together the flour and sugar in a large bowl. Bring the 2 sticks of margarine, 4 Tbsp. cocoa, and water to a boil. Pour over the flour and sugar mixture; stir to combine. Add the buttermilk, eggs, baking soda, vanilla, and cinnamon; mix well. Pour into a greased and floured 12x20 or 16x11 jelly roll pan; Bake at 400F degrees for 20 minutes. Five minutes before the cake is done, start the frosting.

Make the Frosting: Bring 1 stick margarine, 4 Tbsp. cocoa, and 6 Tbsp. milk to a boil. Remove from heat and add powdered sugar and vanilla. Beat well. Spread on hot cake. Sprinkle with pecans and/or marshmallows, if desired. If you have people who don't care for nuts or marshmallows, you can sprinkle pecans or marshmallows on certain sections, leaving some plain (chocolate-frosted) cake-like brownies.

08 July 2010

Spicy Chicken + Avocado Sandwich

I made these sandwiches for our road trip to Minnesota the other weekend. Doug and I decided to eat them before we left because they were a little too messy for the car. BUT, oh my gosh, these were soooooo good! It was a fresh and healthy little bite - way better than anything you can find at a fast food restaurant. The next time you need a quick-fix for a sandwich craving, I hope you'll turn to this recipe!

Spicy Chicken & Avocado Sandwich
Yield: 4 Servings

1 Large Baguette, cut in 1/2 (lengthwise), then into 4 equal pieces
2-3 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
Salt & Pepper, to taste
Olive Oil, for drizzling
1/3 C. Reduced Fat Mayonnaise
1/4 tsp. Cayenne Pepper
1 Small Clove Garlic, finely minced
1 tsp. Lemon Juice
1 Avocado, thinly sliced
2 Large Tomatoes, sliced
2 C. Baby Spinach Leaves, Arugula, or Romaine

Preheat a grill pan or preheat a gas or charcoal grill. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Grill until the chicken is cooked through, about 5 to 6 minutes on each side. Set aside to cool. In a small bowl, mix together the mayo, cayenne pepper, minced garlic, and lemon juice (adjust seasonings to your liking). Slice each chicken breast diagonally into 6 (1/4''-thick) slices. To assemble, place some spinach leaves on the bottom half of each open-face sandwich, then top with tomato slices. Place chicken breast slices on each sandwich as well. Spread the spicy mayo mixture on the underside of the top piece of bread. Place thinly sliced avocado between the spicy mayo and chicken.

06 July 2010

Cashew Chicken

A friend sent this recipe to me, so I decided to give it a try. I served this cashew chicken over brown rice and we really enjoyed it! My suggestion would be to make a little extra sauce and add some green peppers in there to get more veggies in each serving. Some other ingredients you could add to your liking: broccoli, red pepper flakes, sesame seeds, or snow peas.

Cashew Chicken
(Adapted from Everyday Food)
Yield: 4 Servings

1 1/2 lbs. Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast, cut into 1'' cubes
1 Tbsp. Cornstarch
Coarse Salt and Ground Pepper
2 Tbsp. Vegetable Oil
6 Cloves Garlic, minced
1 Green Pepper, cut into 1'' pieces
8 Scallions (white & green parts), cut into 1'' pieces
2 Tbsp. Rice Vinegar
3 Tbsp. Hoisin Sauce
3/4 C. Raw Cashews (4 oz), toasted
Brown or White Rice, for serving (optional)

In a medium bowl, toss the chicken in cornstarch until coated. Season with salt and pepper. In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 Tbsp. oil over medium-high heat. Cook half the chicken, tossing often, until browned (about 3 minutes). Transfer to a plate. Add remaining oil and chicken to the skillet, along with the garlic, green pepper, and white parts of the scallions. Cook, tossing often until chicken is browned (about 3 minutes). Return first batch of chicken to the pan. Add vinegar; cook until evaporated (about 30 seconds). Add hoisin sauce and 1/4 C. water; cook, tossing until chicken is cooked through (about 1 minute). Remove from heat and stir in scallion greens and cashews*. Serve immediately over brown or white rice, if desired.

*Toasted Cashews: Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Spread cashews on a baking sheet and cook for 10 minutes.