Monthly Archives: April 2013

Honey Cashew Chicken

I think I might have found the perfect meal.  For someone who didn’t eat much Asian food as a kid, I have identified Asian flavors as being my favorite thing to make and eat.  When I have nothing else to eat, my go-to is either chicken, rice, pasta or veggies with some kind of soy sauce-rice-vinegar-sriracha sauce.  This Honey Cashew Chicken is exactly right up my alley.  A little bit of protein, a little bit of veggies, a little bit of carbs in a sweet, spicy and salty sauce – Yes!

Bite-sized pieces of chicken are tossed in a light coating of cornstarch and cooked in a hot skillet with canola and sesame oil.  Fresh broccoli, red pepper and edamame are added and stir-fried until perfectly crisp before being mixed with cashews and a perfect concoction of soy sauce, honey and sriracha.  Served with a side of brown rice or quinoa, this will be a meal I will make again and again.

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The ingredients:

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Combine chicken, cornstarch, salt and pepper in a bowl; toss to coat.

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Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add canola and sesame oils. Add chicken mixture, and sauté for 4 minutes or until lightly browned.

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Increase heat to high, and add broccoli, edamame, garlic, onion and red pepper.  Cook 5 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender and chicken is done, stirring frequently.  Stir in cashews.

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Combine vinegar and remaining ingredients in a small bowl; stir with a whisk.   Add vinegar mixture to chicken mixture; toss to coat.

Serve with rice or quinoa.

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Additions:  None

Omissions:

  • Onion

Substitutions:  None

Overall Rating:  Love It

Source:  Cooking Light magazine

Sesame-Lime Chicken Salad

Something must be going wrong in the universe because I’ve been craving salad.  As in green leafy vegetables with other vegetables with a light dressing.  When, why and how did this happen?  I don’t even recognize myself in the mirror anymore.  I’m specifically craving the Thai Chopped Chicken Salad from Panera Bread.  I could eat it morning, noon and night.  And there for a little while, I pretty much was.  I got a little embarrassed at my local Panera after my third night in a row there and hoped and prayed that different staff was working and didn’t recognize my loser self.  So I decided instead of spending money on this salad that I can’t get enough of, I might as well try to make my own.  This Sesame-Lime Chicken Salad comes pretty close.

Romaine lettuce, chicken, carrots and red pepper are mixed together with a light sesame-lime dressing.  Crispy Chinese noodles top the salad for crunch and toasted sesame seeds and cilantro are added for another layer of flavor.  Instead of a jalapeño pepper, I used a good old red pepper which I cut up and roasted in the oven at 375 degrees for 15 minutes.  To add a little bit of heat and make it a little bit more like Panera’s salad, I threw some dashes of peanut sauce over the top too (my favorite is House of Tsang’s Bangkok Padang Peanut Sauce).  Luckily this recipe makes one gigantic bowl of salad so I can eat it often without worrying that someone out there might be judging me.

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The ingredients:

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In a large bowl, whisk together the canola oil, lime juice, sugar, sesame oil, chili, ¾ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Add the lettuce, carrots, and chicken and toss to combine.

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Serve the salad sprinkled with the sesame seeds, noodles, and cilantro.

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Additions:

  • Peanut sauce

Omissions:  none

Substitutions:

  • Red pepper

Overall Rating:  Love It

Source:  Real Simple magazine

Double Chocolate-Mocha Muffins

I haven’t really been cooking as much as I want to, let alone doing much baking.  There are so many things to do, so many things I’m interested in, so many ideas, and so many plans on my mind.  It can sometimes seem a little overwhelming.  But then I remember than cooking calms my head and sometimes I forget just how easy baking can be.  I love the fact that most of the time, you can whip everything up in one bowl and once it’s in the oven, you get to leave it alone.  You can write, clean, do laundry, read a book, watch TV, anything you want.  Try doing that with a skillet of chicken and you’ll have your smoke alarm going off.  These Double Chocolate-Mocha Muffins are another one of those really easy recipes to whip together when you just have too many other things to do or think about.

Chocolate chips and cocoa are both added to this batter to make some really chocolate-y muffins and espresso powder or instant espresso is added to give it yet another layer of flavor making these perfect for breakfast, as a sweet addition to brunch, or even as a late night chocolate snack.  The recipe calls for chocolate chunks but I used mini-chips because I had them on hand so use any kind of chocolate you want.  I also substituted applesauce to lighten their calorie load and the end result was still a light, fluffy muffin.  Also consider replacing up to half of the flour with whole wheat flour.  These muffins puff up nicely, just the way you want a good muffin to and also freeze well.  Craving a little chocolate with your coffee?  Or a little coffee with your chocolate?  Just mix them together and make these muffins.

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The ingredients:

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Whisk together flour, cocoa, espresso powder, baking powder, salt and chocolate chips in a large bowl.

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Whisk together eggs and remaining ingredients in a medium bowl; stir egg mixture into flour mixture just until blended, being careful to not overmix.

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Pour batter evenly into muffin pans lined with paper liners.

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Bake 18 to 20 minutes in a preheated  350°F oven.

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Serve warm, or cool on a wire rack.

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Additions:  None

Omissions:  None

Substitutions:

  • Mini-chocolate chips
  • Applesauce

Overall Rating:  Love It

Source:  Coastal Living magazine

Asparagus with Lemon and Pecorino

Here I go again – trying to eat better.  I go in waves with food.  I’ll eat really well for a week or two but then as soon as I get something not-so-good for me, all I crave is bad food.  I guess that’s why they say “You are what you eat”?  After all, when I’m eating lots of fruits and veggies, I tend to eat better.  But then as soon as I get a french fry or donut, forget it.  I’m a lost cause.  Well, I’m doing better this week, mostly because I spent a wonderful few days last week with my sister, niece and baby nephew in Texas, and ate pretty bad.  We’re talking peanut-butter Snickers minis, leftover Easter candy and bags and bags of Chex Mix.  So I made a conscious effort to start eating better on Monday.  So far so good but it’s only been a few days.  Anyway, this Asparagus with Lemon and Pecorino is a great way to jazz up boring asparagus while also getting a daily dose of veggies.

After boiling the asparagus until bright green and crisp-tender, it’s moved to a pan, sauteed in garlic and topped with lemon rind and pecorino Romano cheese.  The lemon rind provides a fresh brightness while the pecorino adds a slightly sharp tang and melts perfectly.  Since asparagus is one of Spring’s favorite gifts, go out and get some on sale and make this to eat with your favorite meal.

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The ingredients:

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Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add asparagus; cook for 2 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain.

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Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add asparagus; cook 1 minute.

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Sprinkle evenly with lemon rind, pepper, and salt; toss to coat.

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Sprinkle asparagus with pecorino Romano cheese.

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Additions:  None

Omissions:  None

Substitutions:  None

Overall Rating:  Love It

Source:  Cooking Light Magazine

Spinach, Green Onion and Smoked Gouda Quiche

I like cheese but for the most part, I could take it or leave it.  This comment generally surprises anyone I tell this to who usually comes right back and says “I love cheese!” like I have something wrong with me.  Aside from Cheese Wiz with my soft pretzels or a slice of creamy American on my turkey burger, I didn’t really have a hankering for cheese.  Until smoked Gouda came along.  I can’t remember the first time I was introduced to this wonderful cheese but I do remember my friend Lori and I shielding the cheese table at a charity benefit a few years ago so that no one could get to the smoked Gouda without going through us first.  So it’s no wonder that this Spinach, Green Onion and Smoked Gouda Quiche recipe had me at hello.  I love me some spinach but without the smoked Gouda in this title, I might have otherwise passed it by.

Fresh baby spinach and scallions are sautéed until wilted and added to a mixture of low-fat mix, eggs, and shredded smoked Gouda.  Poured into a homemade, simple crust and baked until golden brown, this quiche is not the pretentious quiche you might have grown up hating.  This quiche is fresh and smoky, light and filling.  The crust itself requires some patience and the final product is pretty boring so next time I might just use a store-bought crust.  Either way, the smoky cheese and creamy texture of this quiche is the real winner and I’ve realized boring quiches needn’t be so boring after all.

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The ingredients:

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To prepare crust, place butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy. Combine milk, salt, and egg yolk in a small bowl; stir well with a whisk. Add milk mixture to butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating well after each addition.

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Add flour; beat just until combined. Press mixture into a 4-inch circle on plastic wrap; cover. Chill for 1 hour.

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Unwrap and place chilled dough on a lightly floured surface. Roll dough into a 10-inch circle. Fit dough into a 9-inch pie plate. Freeze 15 minutes. Bake at 350°F for 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool.

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To prepare filling, heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions; sauté 5 minutes or until tender. Add spinach; sauté 2 minutes.

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Combine 1 cup milk and remaining ingredients in a bowl; stir well with a whisk.

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Stir in spinach mixture. Pour filling into crust.

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Bake at 350°F for 35 minutes. Cut into 10 wedges.

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Additions:  None

Omissions:  None

Substitutions:  None

Overall Rating:  Love It

Source:  Cooking Light Magazine

Tortilla Chip Casserole

Didn’t someone once say that casseroles are boring?  I guess casseroles used to primarily consist of some kind of leftover meat, mixed vegetables, maybe a pasta, rice or potato and some kind of creamy condensed soup…yeah…boring.  I wouldn’t want to eat that.  Well, unless I’m really hungry.  This Tortilla Chip Casserole is unlike any other casserole you’ve had.  If you are making this for dinner for guests or family, don’t even bother telling them you made a casserole because you’ll have them dreaming of Taco Bell right away.  Instead, tell them you have made the most flavorful, cheesy knock-your-socks-off dish and leave it at that.

Black beans, chicken and tortilla chips are nestled between layers of a spicy, cheesy milk sauce, and topped with enchilada sauce and cheese before being baked until melted and gooey.  Cumin and coriander are added to the milk sauce giving warmth to the already-bold flavors going on in the dish and cream cheese is also melted in making the sauce thick and rich.  Roasted red peppers, which are tucked away in the middle of the layers, add more flavor but sort of disappear in the end result so leave them in or leave them out, it’s up to you.  The best way I can describe this dish to say it’s like eating your favorite Mexican dip for dinner.  It’s creamy, it’s cheesy, it’s hearty, it has chicken, it has chips, it has spice.  It’s everything wrapped up in one little casserole bow.  Don’t let the lengthy list of ingredients deter you:  this will be the best dish you’ve made in a long time.  And no one will be dreaming of Taco Bell.

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The ingredients:

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Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add onion; cook 6 minutes. Add garlic and flour; cook 2 minutes. ­Gradually add milk and stock, stirring constantly; bring to a boil. Remove from heat; stir in cumin, coriander, salt, pepper, and cream cheese.

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Spread 1/2 cup milk mixture over bottom of a broiler-safe 11 x 7-inch baking dish. Layer beans, 1 1/2 cups chicken, and 2 ounces chips. Top with 1/2 cup milk mixture. Layer 1 1/2 cups chicken, bell pepper, and 2 ounces chips; top with 1 cup milk mixture and enchilada sauce.

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Sprinkle with shredded cheese. Bake at 350°F for 30 minutes.

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Sprinkle with green onions, if desired.  (I was in such a hurry to eat this, I completely forgot the green onions!)

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Additions:  None

Omissions:  None

Substitutions:

  • Red enchilada sauce

Overall Rating:  Love It

Source:  Cooking Light Magazine

Chocolate-Cherry Biscotti

I’m back! Well, I’ve been back for over a week and had sooooo much fun in Vegas that I needed many days to recover. Well, not really, but I did need some time to recover but the other days away from my blog were needed to get my life back in order with routine, work, and eating. Before Vegas I hadn’t gone grocery shopping since I was going away and when I got back, I jumped right into work and sleep and never made it to the store so my eating habits consisted of coffee and any Asian chicken salad I could get my hands on. When it comes to sweets, I tend to reach for a small handful of chocolate chips because I’m one of those people who have chocolate chips on hand ALL. THE. TIME. Usually, I have some dried fruit as well, as I like to mix the fruit and chocolate with peanuts. Talk about a yummy little snack. Anyway, this Chocolate-Cherry Biscotti caught my eye because it’s two-thirds of my favorite snack rolled up into one little crunchy dunkable cookie.

Chocolate chips and dried cherries are mixed into a thick cookie dough batter, flattened, baked, cut and baked again to result in these crunchy on the outside but slightly soft on the inside cookies. I’d never made biscotti before as I’m generally not the biggest biscotti fan (too crunchy) but I loooooooved these! Maybe biscotti isn’t supposed to be a little bit soft on the inside but mine turned out that way and I was hooked. The sweet chocolate and tart cherries are a marriage made in cookie heaven. On a side note, I made these on a Saturday while Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close played on the TV in the background and I ended up watching the whole movie without meaning to. Now when I think about these biscotti, I can’t NOT think about that movie. Strange how certain foods will forever remind you of something completely unrelated to food.

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The ingredients:

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Lightly spoon flours into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife. Combine flours and salt in a bowl; stir well with a whisk. Beat sugar and eggs with a mixer at high speed until thick and pale (about 4 minutes). Add oil and extracts, beating until well-blended. Add flour mixture, beating at low speed just until blended.

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Stir in cherries and chocolate chips.

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Divide dough in half; turn out onto a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Shape each portion into a 10-inch-long roll, and flatten to 1-inch thickness. Bake at 350°F for 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove rolls from the baking sheet; cool 10 minutes on a wire rack. Reduce oven temperature to 325°F.

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Cut each roll diagonally into 20 (1/2-inch) slices. Place slices, cut sides down, on baking sheet. Bake at 325°F for 10 minutes. Turn cookies over, and bake an additional 10 minutes (cookies will be slightly soft in center but will harden as they cool).

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Remove from baking sheet; cool completely on wire rack.

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Additions: None

Omissions: None

Substitutions: None

Overall Rating: Love It

Source: Cooking Light magazine

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