27 September 2010

Balsamic-Garlic Chicken Breasts

This is such a simple recipe for those nights that you don't have much time to prepare something gourmet. I like sauces to have some substance, so I added cornstarch to the balsamic sauce and it really thickened it up. It is healthy, simple, and quick so I have to give Southern Living props for sharing this recipe... but I probably won't make it again. It was good, but it didn't really leave a memorable impression. I just wanted to let you know what I thought and be completely honest with you about this one! If you try it, let me know what you think.


Balsamic-Garlic Chicken Breasts
Yield: 4 Servings

4 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
1 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Pepper
2 Tbsp. Butter
1 Tbsp. Vegetable Oil
1/2 C. Chicken Broth (I make my own)
1/4 C. Balsamic Vinegar
1 Tbsp. Fresh Lemon Juice
3 Garlic Cloves, minced
1 1/2 tsp. Honey
2 tsp. Cornstarch + 2 tsp. Water

Sprinkle chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Melt butter with oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook for 6 minutes on each side (or until done). Remove chicken and set aside (Keep warm). Meanwhile, add chicken broth and next 5 ingredients to the skillet; cook for 5 minutes or until or until slightly thickened, stirring to loosen particles from bottom of skillet. Serve chicken with sauce. I served these with a side of brown rice, but the recipe suggests serving it with orzo pasta mixed with pesto.

25 September 2010

Coconut Cake

I made a cake for all the birthdays, anniversaries, and weddings I missed on my blog this past month! Just wanted to say, "Best wishes to you and know that I love you all" to some of my favorite people: Josie, Paul C., Jim W., Doug (turned 30!!), Molly, Mike, Kate, Jenn, Sarah S., Doug's parents (anniv.), Laura & Mike (anniv.), Meg & Will (wedding), Grace & Matt (wedding), Laura S., and Katy M. (bday today)! Wow, I love a lot of people! Anyway, here's to you on your special day! Cheers!


Coconut Cake
(Recipe from the goddess herself, Ina)
Yield: 12 Servings

For the Cake:
3/4 Pound (3 sticks) Unsalted Butter, room temp
2 C. Sugar
5 Extra Large Eggs, room temp
1 1/2 tsp. Pure Vanilla Extract
1 1/2 tsp. Pure Almond Extract
3 C. All-Purpose Flour, plus more for dusting the pans
1 tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
1/2 tsp. Kosher Salt
1 C. Milk
4 oz. Sweetened Shredded Coconut

For the Frosting:
1 Pound Cream Cheese, at room temp.
1/2 Pound (2 sticks) Unsalted Butter, at room temp.
3/4 tsp. Pure Vanilla Extract
1/4 tsp. Pure Almond Extract
1 Pound Confectioners' Sugar, sifted
6 oz. Sweetened Shredded Coconut

Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Grease 2 (9-inch) round cake pans, then line them with parchment paper. Grease them again and dust lightly with flour. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar on medium-high speed for 3-5 minutes (until light yellow and fluffy). Crack the eggs into a small bowl. With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs 1 at a time, scraping down the bowl once during mixing. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix well. The mixture might look curdled; don't be concerned.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the dry ingredients and the milk to the batter in 3 parts, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Mix until just combined. Fold in the 4 oz. of coconut with a rubber spatula. Then, pour the batter evenly into the 2 pans and smooth the top with a knife. Bake in the center of the oven for 45 to 55 minutes, until the tops are browed and cake tester comes out clean. Cool on a baking rack for 30 minutes, then turn the cakes out onto a baking rack to finish cooling.

For the frosting, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the cream cheese, butter, vanilla and almond extract on low speed. Add the confectioners' sugar and mix until just smooth (don't whip). To assemble, place 1 layer on a flat serving plate, top side down, and spread with frosting (this makes a lot of frosting, so don't skimp!!). Place the second layer on top, top side up, and frost the top and sides. To decorate the cake, sprinkle the top with coconut and lightly press more coconut onto the sides. Serve at room temperature.

21 September 2010

Oriental Cabbage Salad

I made a double batch of this recipe for our family's annual rib cook-off the other weekend. I was so happy that I made a salad side dish that was large enough to feed a crowd and also something green! One can only handle so much potato salad and ribs! At the end of the party, people were raving about the salad and some even took home the leftovers in plastic containers! I wish I could take credit for the recipe, but we have to thank Doug's Grandma C. and his mom for passing down a such a crowd-pleasing recipe!


Oriental Cabbage Salad
(Recipe from Grandma C.)
Yield: Many Servings

1 Head of Cabbage, shredded
6 Green Onions, chopped
2 pkg. Ramen Noodles - Oriental Flavor
1/3 C. Sesame Seeds
1 C. Sliced Blanched Almonds
2 Tbsp. Soy Sauce (low sodium)
1/3 C. Red Wine Vinegar
1/2 tsp. Pepper
3/4 C. Oil
3/4 C. Sugar

Day Before: Toast 2 packages of crushed ramen noodles (seasoning packets reserved), sesame seeds, and almonds on a cookie sheet in a 350F degree oven until brown. When brown, remove from oven, set on counter to cool, and add seasoning packet from ramen package. Stir gently to incorporate and store in a plastic covered container. You can also make the dressing the day before: Add soy sauce, red wine vinegar, pepper, oil and sugar to a glass jar or plastic covered container. Shake and refrigerate in fridge until later use.

To Serve: Shred the cabbage into thin strips and slice the green onions. These can be done in the morning of the party and then stored in a large plastic zipped bag in the fridge. When ready to serve, toss the cabbage, green onions, and dressing together. Then, add the toasted noodles, sesame seeds, and almonds; gently combine all ingredients.

15 September 2010

Greek Turkey Burgers

Greek Turkey Burgers just soared to the top of my burger list! I don't think I will make a plain old turkey burger ever again. There is no reason for turkey burgers to taste bland. You can dress them up and enjoy them just like a regular burger! The cucumber sauce really gives this burger a wonderful greek flavor. Another one of my favorite ways to make turkey burgers is buffalo-style. Enjoy!


Greek Turkey Burgers
Yield: 4 Patties

1.3 lb. Lean Ground Turkey Breast
1 (4 oz) Package Crumbled Feta Cheese, (optional - I omitted)
1/4 C. Red Onion, finely chopped
1 tsp. Dried Oregano
1 tsp. Lemon Zest
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/2 C. English Cucumber, grated
1 (6 oz) Container Fat-Free Greek Yogurt
1 Tbsp. Fresh Mint, chopped
1/2 tsp. Salt
4 Wheat Hamburger Bums, split & toasted
Lettuce Leaves, Tomato Slices, Cucumber Slices (for toppings)
Pepperoncini Salad Peppers (for garnish)

Mix together the turkey, feta (if using), red onion, oregano, lemon zest, and salt. Shape into 4 (1/2-inch-thick) patties. Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Coat grill pan with cooking spray. Add patties and cook 5 minutes on each side (or until done). Meanwhile, stir together the grated cucumber (I drained the excess water through a paper towel), yogurt, mint, and 1/2 tsp. salt in a small bowl. Serve burgers on buns with cucumber sauce and desired toppings. Garnish, if desired.

14 September 2010

Game Day Taco Dip

With football season in full gear, I figured I should probably post a "game day" recipe! This specific recipe has been revamped so it doesn't have as many calories as a normal taco dip. Also, I like serving it with raw veggies in lieu of tortilla chips. Trust me on this one... the guys won't even notice that you used reduced fat ingredients! This will be gone in a flash. Enjoy!


Game Day Taco Dip - Skinny Version
(Adapted from Gina)
Yield: 12 Servings

8 oz. Reduced Fat Cream Cheese
8 oz. Reduced Fat Sour Cream
16 oz. Jar of Medium Salsa
1 Packet Taco Seasoning
2 C. Iceberg Lettuce, shredded
2 Large Tomatoes, diced
1 C. Reduced Fat Cheddar Cheese, shredded
3 Green Onions, (white & green parts), chopped
2.25 oz. Black Olives, sliced
Taco Sauce (optional), for drizzling on top
Tortilla Chips, Vegetables (like carrots & celery), for serving

In a large bowl, combine the cream cheese, sour cream, salsa, and taco seasoning. Mix well with a spoon or an electric mixer. Spread on the bottom of a shallow glass dish (I used a glass pie pan, but you can also use a glass casserole dish). Top with shredded lettuce, tomatoes, shredded cheese, green onions, and black olives. Refrigerate for 4 hours. Right before serving, drizzle with some taco sauce (optional). Serve with tortilla chips and/or crudites.

11 September 2010

Irish Cream-Spiked Frozen Mocha Lattes

Do you ever crave chocolate after dinner? Might I suggest making these frozen mocha lattes?!! They are insanely good! Doug liked them so much, he asked if I could prepare some more mocha ice cubes for the near future. They are easy to throw together because you just pour the ingredients in an ice cube tray. Once they are frozen, pop them out, store in a plastic lock bag, and use them as needed. The irish cream adds a nice flavor too!


Irish Cream-Spiked Frozen Mocha Lattes
Yield: 6 Servings

1/2 C. Sugar
5 1/2 tsp. Instant Espresso Powder
4 tsp. Natural Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
2 Pinches of Salt
2 1/2 C. Water, divided
2 C. Fat-Free Half & Half
18 Ice Cubes
1 1/2 C. Irish Cream (Bailey's) - Can substitute with Kahlua

Special Equipment: 4 Ice Cube Trays (enough to make 48 ice cubes)

Whisk sugar, espresso powder, cocoa, and a pinch of salt in a medium saucepan. Gradually whisk in 1 cup of water, whisking until smooth. Cook over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves and mixture just begins to boil. Whisk often (about 3 minutes); remove from heat. Add 1 1/2 cups water and half and half; whisk to blend. Transfer to a pitcher. Pour espresso mixture into ice cube trays, filling cubes almost to the top (mixture will make about 48 ice cubes). Freeze espresso mixture in trays. [This can be made 1 month ahead of time. Store espresso ice cubes in a resealable plastic bag and keep frozen].

To make one drink: Place martini glass or coffee mug in the freezer for 15 minutes. Place 6 or 7 espresso cubes and 3 regular ice cubes in a blender; add 1/4 C. irish cream. Blend until thick and smooth. Pour into chilled glass. Top off with a dollop of whipped cream or some chocolate shavings. Serve immediately.

07 September 2010

Oatmeal Applesauce Muffins

That's right... no butter, no oil, no bleached flour, and no yolks in this recipe! Doug and I had a craving for something filling and warm for breakfast, yet healthy and nutritious. I saw this recipe on Deborah's cute blog and decided I would finally give whole wheat flour a try. Turns out it is quite delicious! I should have substituted whole wheat flour for regular flour a long time ago! If you haven't made the switch already, you should give it a try.


Oatmeal Applesauce Muffins
Yield: 12 Muffins

1 C. Old-Fashioned Rolled Oats
1 C. Non-Fat Milk
1/2 C. Unsweetened Applesauce
2 Egg Whites
1 C. Whole Wheat Flour
1/2 C. Brown Sugar
1 tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
1/2 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Cinnamon
1 tsp. Sugar

Soak the oats in the milk for approximately one hour. Preheat the oven to 400F degrees. Prepare a muffin tin by spraying it with non-stick spray (no liners necessary). Combine the oat/milk mixture, applesauce, and egg whites in a medium bowl until combined. In another bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon; whisk to combine. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients; stir. Don't stir too much though! Spoon the mixture into the prepared muffin tins. Sprinkle a pinch of sugar on top of each muffin. Bake for 20 minutes, remove from pan, and cool on a wire rack. Muffins freeze well.

03 September 2010

Caramelized Onion-Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Basil + Tomatoes

When I first made this recipe, I started following one recipe and ended up following a different one. What I came up with was a combination of two different recipes and it turned out pretty great! I made this a few months ago and just never got around to posting it on the blog. I will definitely be making this one again when I have the craving for caramelized onions. I think it would be a perfect fall weather dish for you to make for your friends and/or family. Enjoy!


Caramelized Onion-Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Basil & Tomatoes
Yield: 4 Servings

4 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil, divided
2 Yellow Onions, sliced thinly, divided
2 Cloves Garlic, minced
1 tsp. Lemon Zest
1 Tbsp. Balsamic Vinegar
1 (4 oz.) Package of Feta Cheese, crumbled, divided
1 Pint Red Grape Tomatoes
Salt & Pepper, freshly ground (to taste)
1/2 C. Fresh Basil, chiffonade

Heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add one thinly sliced onion to the pan and saute until caramelized (about 15 minutes). The trick to caramelization is to not stir them; just let them sit in the pan! Add the 2 cloves of minced garlic to the pan and cook for 2 minutes longer (just until fragrant). Finally, add the lemon zest, balsamic vinegar, and half of the feta cheese (2 oz.) to the pan. Saute for an additional 2 minutes and remove from heat.

At this point, you are going to pound the chicken breasts to an even thickness and then carefully butterfly them (use a knife and cut lengthwise down the middle of the side - but not all the way through the other side). Season each breast with salt and pepper. Evenly divide the onion mixture into 4 parts; stuff the breasts with the caramelized onion/feta mixture and secure with a toothpick. Preheat the grill to medium heat, spray with non-stick spray, and grill stuffed chicken breasts until cooked through.

Meanwhile, in the same large skillet you used for the onion, heat the remaining 1 Tbsp. olive oil in the pan over medium heat and add the other thinly sliced onion. Saute for 15 minutes until caramelized. Add the cherry tomatoes, season with salt and pepper (to taste), and cook for 3 minutes until the tomatoes are soft. Put the chicken breasts on a platter (remove toothpicks), top with cherry/onion mixture, feta cheese, and fresh basil.