Sunday, August 28, 2011

Asian Chicken Salad: Your Recipe, My Kitchen

This week was my first experience of getting ready for a hurricane in Florida.  As it turned out, we were completely by-passed by Irene, but it served as a time for me to prepare a bit.  I now have ready to eat foods like soup, nuts and shelf stable milk, a 55 gallon barrel full of water, fresh batteries in all the flashlights and a plan for evacuation if needed.

The weather stayed hot and mostly sunny here in Jacksonville.  So instead of sitting in candlelight eating cold soup, we were in the bright sunlight eating salad.  My kids love dinner salads.  Fill a simple bag of salad with meat, lots of flavor and something crunchy and they clean their plates.  Taco salad is a favorite.  Asian salad is now another favorite.   I found the inspiration for this salad at Average Betty's blog.  I say "inspiration" because my end salad really looks nothing like hers.   I did get the idea for the dressing from her, though.
Asian Chicken Salad (unrecognizably born from Average Betty's version)
1 large bag iceburg lettuce/red cabbage/carrot shred mix 
2 cups chopped cooked chicken
1 package ramen, crushed into very small pieces (throw out the seasoning packet)
any other vegetables that you would like to add
1/3 cup vegetable or olive oil
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
3 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp Chinese 5 Spice seasoning
1/4 tsp Tabasco sauce (or other hot chile sauce)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 Tbsp agave nectar
dash ground black pepper
Whisk the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl (or better yet, shake them in a glass jar with a tight fitting lid).  Combine the other ingredients in a large salad bowl and then toss with the dressing.  Let sit for about ten minutes and then serve.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Thai Shrimp with Noodles

I love living on a coast.  I love driving down a street and seeing homemade signs saying "shrimp" where local fisherman sit on the side of the road with a ton of ice filled coolers and sell to the public.  I love that there has been a bumper shrimp catch recently in the Jacksonville area.  I love shrimp!!

The sad thing is that so do my endlessly hungry teenagers.  It took 3 pounds of shrimp to feed them this dinner.  That was $15 worth of shrimp for one meal; not exactly frugal, but certainly worth the splurge for a once in a while dish.  I usually make scampi for the family, but this time, I got adventurous and made a Thai noodle dish.  I say "Thai" very loosely as this was not a particularly spicy dish.
(all that's left after the eaters left the table!)

Thai Shrimp with Noodles (adapted from
3 pounds shrimp (or less), cleaned and shelled
1/2 cup Italian type oil and vinegar dressing (I used Girard's Creamy Balsamic Vinaigrette)
cooked fettucine (or any spaghetti type....enough for your family)
1/2 cup broth
4 Tbsp peanut butter (creamy or chunky)
2 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp soy sauce (can use light)
1/2 tsp ginger (using fresh would be better....1 tsp grated, but I didn't have any)
1/4-3/4 tsp red pepper flakes (depending on your taste)
2 medium onion, chopped
4 ribs celery, chopped
2 Tbsp oil (preferably peanut with a splash of sesame, but any vegetable oil will do)
Put the shrimp in a zip close bag or glass bowl.  Add the dressing, close or cover and marinate in the refrigerator for 15-20 minutes.  Mix the broth, pb, honey, soy sauce, ginger and red pepper in a small bowl and set aside.  Saute the onion and celery in oil.  When the veggies are almost done, add the shrimp and cook until pink.  Pour in the soy/honey mixture and remove from heat.  Toss with the warm, cooked pasta and serve.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Brown Sugar Pound Cake

As many of you know, there is a new fun club in the food blog world called the Secret Recipe Club.  Well, it has grown from the original 20 something members to well into the 170s or more in just a few months.  We are now so big that we reveal on different weeks just to make it manageable for Amanda, our fearless leader.  This month, I am in the "B" group.  I was given the new-to-me Butter Cream Barbie blog.   She, like me, loves to bake.  I loved reading through her recipe index page.  There were so many things that I wanted to make from cheesecakes to brownie buttons.  In the end, though, I chose her Brown Sugar Pound Cake...because I had a new pan that I really wanted to try, too.
Mini bundt cakes!!!
Of course I changed things.  Her pound cake (from Martha Stewart) used leavening and she baked it in a loaf pan.  I was afraid it would be too tender for my molds, so I opted to turn it into a more traditional pound cake, using just the eggs as leavening.  Then I halved the recipe to fit my little cakes....that may have been a mistake because halfway through, I forgot I was halving the recipe and added the full flour.... I think next time that I need to just make the full recipe and then find some other little pans to use the rest. I am not to be trusted when it comes to math, distractions and the kitchen
After adjusting the time, I ended up with these little guys.  They were a little dry (3 cups of flour will do that, Kristen!), so I whipped up a simple vanilla flavored syrup and poured it over them while they were warm and let them soak all afternoon before serving them at dinner.  That seemed to do the trick.  The brown sugar flavor with the butter was wonderful.  I would definitely recommend the recipe....just don't fiddle with halves or doubles if you have five children (who at the time were in school, but I am still using them as an excuse!).

Brown Sugar Pound Cake (here is the original recipe )
1 cup butter
2 1/4 cup brown sugar
5 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups flour
3/4 cup buttermilk (I used evaporated instead)
Cream the butter and brown sugar.  Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition.  Add the vanilla and mix.  Alternate adding the flour and the buttermilk until all is smooth.  Pour into greased bundt pan(s) and bake 325 degrees for a big cake 1 hour, for minis, 35 minutes or until tests done with a toothpick.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Your Recipe, My Kitchen

It's Secret Recipe Club time, so there will be a separate post with this week's recipe from another blog....Brown Sugar Pound Cake!!  In the meantime, here is the linky for you.  I am opening this up for all recipes/foods, so don't feel that you have to make something from another blog in order to link up.  As I work through my list of bookmarked blogs, I am always looking to replenish the list!  The more the merrier :-)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Maple Twists: Revisiting an Old Post

Do you make homemade donuts (doughnuts?)?  A few years ago, I would have said no.  I thought that there was no way I could produce anything like a donut shop.  After trying them, though, I found out that they aren't nearly as scary as I though.  Now, when my kids ask if they can have donuts the next day, I don't plan a quick trip to Walmart or Dunkin', I simply plan to get up a little earlier so I can set the yeast dough to rise.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Low (almost no) Sugar Peach Crisp

 I have a thing for peach crisp.  Maybe it's the oatmeal in the topping.  Maybe it's the peaches.  Probably it's the fact that I can make it with very little sugar and still feel like I am eating a sweet dessert.  Peaches, when they are ripe, are like candy to me.
 So, you will find more than one peach crisp recipe on my blog  There is one that uses crystallized fructose.  That was Formula 1.  Then I made one with coconut oil.  Formula 2.  This one, Formula 3, has just a bit of agave in the filling because the peaches I used were not ripe enough.  The topping is completely sweetener free.  The peach is the star of the show all the way.
 See, I make the gloppy, sugar laden desserts for my family.  I would much rather have a piece of cheese and a fruit of some sort for dessert.  A few times a year, I indulge and make something like peach crisp just. for. me.  My kids respect that...because they know that I will get up extra early and make them donuts for breakfast.
Low Sugar Peach Crisp (adapted from I Can't Believe This Has No Sugar!)
4-6 peaches, peeled and sliced
1 tsp cinnamon
3 Tbsp quick cooking tapioca
2 Tbsp melted butter
1 1/2 Tbsp agave nectar
Combine the peaches with the cinnamon, tapioca and butter in a bowl.  Place in a 8X8 greased pan.  Drizzle with agave nectar.  Sprinkle with topping and bake 350 degrees for 45 minutes.  Serve with whipped cream.
1 1/2 cups oatmeal
4 Tbsp melted butter
1 tsp cinnamon
1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup flaked coconut (I used unsweetened, but use what you have)
In a bowl, mix topping ingredients together with a fork.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Beef Taquitos: Your Recipe, My Kitchen

My family has always loved Mexican food of all kinds.  Our two years in Arizona only reinforced that love affair.  Now that we are in Florida, there aren't Mexican restaurants on every other corner. When I  find myself craving South-of-the Border flavors, I have to head to my kitchen.  Luckily, there are still good Latin sections in the grocery stores in this area.
I found a recipe for Baked Creamy Chicken Taquitos on The Kitchen Witch's blog.  The only problem I had on the day that I decided to make them was the fact that I had thawed hamburger instead!  So, with a bit of tweaking, I came up with a beef filling instead.  My kids had a friend over who joined us for dinner that night.  He went home and told his mom that she had to get the recipe from I think it was a success.  I loved the fact that these babies are nice and crunchy without frying.  A little olive oil on the baking sheet and a squirt of cooking spray on top was enough to form a lovely crunch.

Beef Taquitos (adapted from the Kitchen Witch)
1 pound ground beef
1 medium onion, minced fine
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp dried cilantro
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp bulk taco mix (if you only have the envelopes, save the rest for another dish)
5 ounces cream cheese (because that's how much I had...I might increase it to 8 oz next time)
1 cup salsa (I used a lime and garlic variety)
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
8 flour tortillas (I used burrito size)
Brown the ground beef with the onion and spices.  Drain off any fat, turn off the heat and put the cream cheese in the pan to soften.  After about 5 minutes, you should be able to stir it all in.  Add the salsa and cheese, too.  Divide the filling equally amongst the 8 tortillas, roll up and place on an oiled baking sheet.  Brush the tops of the taquitos with more oil or spray them with cooking spray.  Bake in a preheated 425 degree oven for 20 minutes (start watching them at 15 minutes if your oven cooks hot).   My kids enjoyed these dipped in Ranch dressing.  I thought they were great by themselves.

All right folks, it's time to show off your stuff.  What did you make this week?  Please be sure to link back to this blog in your post.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Sophisticated Foil Dinners

 One of the saddest parts of my last move was leaving the grill behind.  Not that I think I'd like to be standing over a hot grill in August in way! But the idea of being able to just head out to the patio to grill up some kabobs or some vegetables starts me hoping to purchase a new one soon (of course the stores have already cleared out this year's supply, so it will have to be next spring!)  Luckily, foil dinners can be made in the oven as well as on the grill.
These particular foil dinners were created for the adult palates in the house.  They contained artichokes, pea pods, asparagus and tomatoes, so I had no trouble saving the extras for my own lunch later in the week.  Now if I had filled them with potatoes and ham, it would have been another story altogether!

 Chicken Foil Dinners (adapted from The Sonoma Diet) (Makes 4 dinners)
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, in 1/2 inch slices
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2 inch pieces
2 cups trimmed pea pods
1 can artichoke parts, drained and cut (hearts or bottoms)
1 cup tomatoes, sliced
In a medium bowl, combine the oil, oregano, thyme, vinegar, salt and pepper.  Add chicken slices to bowl, toss to coat and let stand (I actually let mine marinate in the fridge for a while) while preparing veggies.  Prepare four large pieces of foil (I like to tear two sheets and lay them on top of each other criss-cross so there are four long sides to fold over the food -- so that would end up being eight pieces of foil).  Arrange 1/4 of the vegetables on each of the four pieces.  Divide the chicken up between them and lay that on top.  Crimp the foil closed.  Grill on a medium barbecue or bake in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes.  (Carefully open one to peek and see if it's done before removing from heat).

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Oatmeal Raisin Muffins

 Have I ever mentioned my weakness for oatmeal?  I love it in all forms...even pie.  When I came across an oatmeal muffin recipe, I knew I had to try it. 
 The tops of the muffins turned out like real oatmeal cookies.  The bases had a moist cake texture.  They were delicious fresh out of the oven.  I put most of them into the freezer, though, for a future breakfast.
 The recipe didn't call for raisins, but I couldn't leave the oatmeal all alone.  I am glad I went ahead and added the raisins.  If more of my family liked nuts, I'd have added some walnuts or pecans, too. 
Oatmeal Raisin Muffins (adapted from Southern Living 1982)
2 cups flour
2  cups oatmeal
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp allspice
2 eggs
2 cups buttermilk
2/3 cups oil
3/4 cup raisins
Combine dry ingredients (including brown sugar) in a bowl.  Add eggs, buttermilk and oil, stirring until just combined.  Fold in raisins.  Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for 18+ minutes or until done. 

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownies: Your Recipe, My Kitchen

Ever since I saw this recipe on Colletta's Kitchen Sink back in December, I have been wanting to make these brownies.  I have five cookie dough loving children who clamor for cookie dough ice cream, cookie dough from the bowl, cookie dough on the beaters or the spatula or anything.  My youngest son is famous for cruising through the kitchen and then announcing loudly, "I call the bowl when Mom's done."  I knew these brownies would be a hit.
I didn't really do much to change the recipe, except to put chocolate chips in the cookie dough and to up the amounts of vanilla.  The brownie base is almost exactly my regular brownie recipe.  I didn't wait too long between pulling the brownies out of the oven and spreading the cookie dough on  top of them.  I threw the whole thing into the fridge after I got the chocolate glaze on to keep the hungry hoards from stealing any before dinner.  It made the chocolate crack when I cut it, but in the summer, I don't think I would leave a pan out....or on any days off from school for that matter.  My sons have reached the bottomless stomach stage and are constantly hungry.  Nothing is safe!!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownies (from Colletta's Kitchen Sink)
1 cup oil
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
4 eggs
1 1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp vanilla
Combine the sugar and cocoa in a mixing bowl.  Add the oil and stir well.  Mix in the eggs.  Add the flour and salt and stir.  Lastly, add the vanilla.  Pour into a greased 9 X 13 pan and bake in a preheated 325 degree oven for 25 minutes or until done.  Once out, make the cookie dough and spread on top.  Finish it off with the chocolate glaze (see below).
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough (no egg)
1 stick butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp vanilla
1 cup flour
1/3 cup chocolate chips
Mix the butter and sugars until smooth ( I used a wooden spoon, but you could use a mixer, too).  Add the vanilla and then the flour.  When well combined, fold in the chocolate chips.
Chocolate Glaze
1 cup chocolate chips
1 Tbsp shortening
Melt together in the microwave for 1 minute at a time, stirring vigorously after each minute until smooth.  It took my microwave 2 minutes.

On another note, today I am being featured on the Saturday Evening Pot's Make a Food "e" friend Monday hosted by The Lucky Wife. Thanks so much.  If you haven't had a chance to check out that Monday linky party, head over there after you link up here!
So what did you make this week?  Link up your goodies below and please link back to this post, too.  Happy Monday!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Date Mini Muffins

 Aren't these cute?  They are little bites of muffin (I have them in a mini ceramic loaf pan so they may appear bigger than they are).  They aren't very sweet ~ only 1/4 cup of sugar in 48 mini muffins.  The dates give them more sweetness, but there is only one or two pieces per muffin.
 They would make a great accompaniment to a soup or salad.  They'd make a good breakfast or snack, too.  They are almost a cross between a biscuit and a muffin.  The muffin base would be good with any dried fruit.
 Date Mini Muffins (adapted from Southern Living 1979)
1/2 cup oil
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
2 cups flour
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup chopped dates
1 cup buttermilk
 Combine sugar, flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl.  Add the egg, oil and buttermilk.  Stir until just combined.  Fold in dates.  Scoop into greased mini muffin tins (makes 48) and bake in a preheated 425 degree oven for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown and done.

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