Monday, January 25, 2010

Dinner Rolls

These are great rolls to prepare to go with a comfort meal or with anyone of your salad creations! It's super easy and very good. The texture of them are not too dense but not incredibly yeasty. They are very soft and are great topped with melted butter and honey! Enjoy!

Dinner Rolls

1 Pack of Active Yeast
2 T Sugar
1/2 C. Milk
2 T Butter
2 C. Bread Flour
1 tsp. Salt
1/4 C. Water
1 Egg

Directions: Combine milk, water, and butter, and warm it up in your microwave until butter has melted. Now place 1 Cup of your flour, sugar, salt, egg, and yeast in a large bowl. Add heated liquid and stir until well combined. Now gradually mix in your remaining cup of flour. On a floured surface, gently knead until you get a very soft non-sticky dough. Do not add too much flour.

Divide rolls into 12 or 8 equal pieces. Place onto a lightly greased/non-stick cookie sheet and let rise until rolls have doubled in size. Bake on 350 degrees until golden brown. Top with melted butter and honey(melt butter, add honey, and stir.)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Jamaican Jerk Chicken Patties + Minestrone

Tonight we had a delightful combination of Jamaica and Italy. I know I know, what a combo right, but both items blended so well together! This morning I started off by making my dough for my Jamaican Chicken Patties and within minutes I whipped up a pot of comforting minestrone soup. This happens to be one of my favorite soups to prepare and eat, as it is super easy and super tasty.

For the chicken patties I pretty much followed Emerils recipe that I found on the Food Network, although I made several adjustments and additions to the filling, as seen below the pic!

My Alterations To Emerils Jamaican Meat Patties:

1. Instead of ground beef, I used Ground Chicken

2. I only used 3 cloves of garlic

3. Cumin seeds instead of cumin powder

4. I added in a bit of the following spices: cinnamon, coriander, paprika, salt, and Jamaican jerk spice blend.

5. Instead of beef broth, I used low sodium chicken broth

6. I did not use any Jamaican rum

7. Towards the end I added in 1 T. of flour and a little bit of brown sugar

My pot of minestrone took minutes to prepare, thanks to some left over cabbage! I did not worry about exact measurements as I was preparing for this, so I will only be able to share with you the seasonings that I used, but it's a super easy soup to make and you can taste and add to as you go to enhance it to your liking. See recipe below pic!

Minestrone Soup

1lb 12 oz Can of Whole Tomatoes
2 C. Cooked & Seasoned Cabbage (Again I used leftover cabbage which I seasoned with: salt, sugar, pepper, a dash of hot sauce, and sometimes smoked turkey wings. Cook until tender, but not mushy)
1 1/2 C. Chicken Broth (you can also use water and one chicken bouillon cube)
15 oz Can of Organic Cannellini or Northern Beans
Black Pepper
Worcestershire Sauce
Thinly Sliced Zucchini
Cooked Macaroni Noodles (boiled in salt water)

Directions: Pour your tomatoes into a large pot. Bring to a simmer. Add in your beans, zucchini, and cabbage. Now stir in your seasonings. Pour your broth into the pot and bring to a low boil. Reduce heat. Stir in your cooked noodles. Scoop soup into your bowls and garnish with shredded mozzarella on top!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Sweet Berry & Mint Lemonade {refreshing}

I am very stingy when it comes to keeping flavored drinks around the house. We rarely drink sodas, and when we do it's usually ginger ale, sprite, and on occasion root beer. When I go grocery shopping I tend to only buy two containers of fresh apple juice and maybe a half gallon of orange juice for breakfast. Other than that we usually have a small choice of water, tea, or lemonade. So as I went into the kitchen to fix a glass of water, I was struck with the taste of something cool and refreshing (yes, I do realize that it is not summer and it's freezing, so, what to do? Well, when you have 3 lemons...make 3 glasses of pretty lemonade!

Sweet Berry & Mint Lemonade
serves 3-4

12 Strawberries, washed, and cut into chunks
1/2 C. plus 2 T. Sugar
Juice from 3 Lemons, without seeds
1 T. Mint Leaves chopped, plus a few sprigs for garnish
Blueberries - for garnish
Handful of Ice Cubes
3 C. Cold Water

Directions: In your blender place your lemon juice, strawberries, sugar, chopped mint leaves, ice, and water. Using the Ice Crusher setting, pulse your mixture until your berries have become smaller and your liquid turns a nice pink. Place a few ice cubes into your glasses. Pour desired amount into glass. Stir & Garnish with fresh blueberries, a sprig of mint and a lemon wedge!

Tip The Cook: feel free to use Agave nectar in the place of will taste just as good and add a kick of health!

General Tso's Chicken & Shrimp {sweet + spice}

A few weeks ago I made some Orange Chicken(recipe coming soon) and my husband thought it was great and went a step further to request some General Tso's Chicken. So sure enough tonight I gave the General a try. I must say, just like the orange chicken, it was quite easy and super quick to prepare. The recipe below calls for 3 chile peppers and crushed red pepper, but feel free to use only one chile and leave out the crushed red pepper if you prefer less heat. For a sweeter sauce, just add a bit more sugar or honey and if your prefer less breading, simply use less flour/cornstarch mixture!

My husband likes his with white rice, but I prefer mine with some type of Asian noodle, and in this case, chow mein noodles. I served this along with steamed green beans seasoned with: fresh garlic, fresh ginger, olive oil, soy sauce, and brown sugar!

General Tso's Chicken & Shrimp
serves 4

2 Large Chicken Breasts, washed, cleaned, and cut into chunks
1/2 Lb. Shrimp, peeled and deveined
3 Dried Chile Peppers, whole & pierced
3 Eggs, beaten and placed in a medium bowl
1/2 C. Cornstarch
1/2 C. All Purpose Flour + 2T. for sauce
6 T. Vinegar
8 T. White Wine
6 T. Sugar
12 T. Soy Sauce
1 Small Bell Pepper, cut into large chunks
1 Small Yellow Onion, cut into large chunks
Black pepper
Ground Chile Pepper
1 Clove of Garlic, whole
Crushed Red Pepper - optional
2 T. Olive Oil
Peanut or Vegetable Oil - for frying
Green Onions- for garnish

Directions: Mix your flour and cornstarch along with a bit of salt in a large bowl. Season your chicken and shrimp with salt, black pepper, and your ground chile pepper. Place your diced chicken and shrimp into your bowl with the beaten eggs. Then place your meat into your flour and cornstarch mixture, being sure to let any excess egg mixture drip off. Using a large spoon, coat your meat with your flour/starch mixture. Heat your vegetable/peanut oil on medium heat, once hot, proceed to fry your chicken and shrimp. Place on a paper towel to drain extra oil.

Now for the sauce: Place your olive oil, dried chiles, bellpepper, garlic, and onion, into a small saucepan and saute for about 3 minutes or so. Reduce your heat. Now pour in your vinegar, wine, sugar, soy sauce, and if using it, your desired amount of crushed pepper. Bring to a simmer and GRADUALLY add in your 2 tablespoons of flour, stirring constantly. Once thickened, mix in your chicken and shrimp until evenly coated. Turn Heat off. Serve over jasmine rice or chow mein noodles. Garnish with fresh green onions.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Tomato Basil & Apple Soup {simple.savory.comfort}

Here is a lovely winter soup to tantalize all of your taste buds! My husband took me to a local cafe that served tomato basil apple soup and I thought it was fantastic, yet their version was a bit too sweet for my liking. So, what to do...make my own! It's super easy and only calls for a few simple ingredients.

I love honey crisp apples so I highly suggest you use them if you can find them at your local market. They are the BEST apples that I have ever had. Super crisp, and has a perfect balance of sweet and tart. If honey crisps are not available try to go for a Gala or a Fuji apple...something with a bite, but not too sweet or too tart. Granny Smith apples can be a bit to sour to balance out the acidity of the tomatoes. We had this tonight along with smoked turkey deli style sandwiches!

Tomato Basil Apple Soup

2 Honey Crisp apples, peeled, and diced into chunks
1 Clove of Garlic or 1tsp. Garlic Paste
Olive Oil
1 tsp. Worcestershire Sauce
10 Oz. Condensed Tomato Soup
12 oz. Whole Tomatoes
2 Tbsp. Dried or Fresh Basil
1 1/2 C. Fresh or Natural Apple Juice

Directions: Bake your apples in your oven for 15-20 minutes or until tender on 350 degrees. Set aside. Make a garlic paste by mincing your garlic, add a dash of salt and a drizzle of olive oil and continue mincing until a paste has formed. Pour your condensed soup into a large pot. Coarsely blend your whole tomatoes, garlic paste and 1 C. of your apples. Add blended mixture to your condensed soup and begin to simmer. Add in the rest of your apples, worcestershire sauce, basil, 1/4 tsp. salt, and apple juice. Continue simmering. Salt to taste. Serve with a homemade deli turkey or veggie sandwich.

Monday, January 4, 2010

On Preserve {simple additions}

One of my favorite items to keep in our fridge are preserves. Not only do they taste great on toast and biscuits, but they make EXCELLENT glazes and marinades for chicken and seafood such as shrimp and salmon. One of my favorite flavors is that of apricot. You can add so much sweetness, gloss, and color by heating up the preserves and using a pastry brush to glaze your chicken as it cooks or by heating it up and marinating your chicken or fish for a few hours or better yet overnight. I also keep pear and strawberry preserves on hand for the same reasons, they are all delightful!

Chicken Filo!

Tonight we had a very simple and fresh dinner that consisted of chicken breast topped with fresh wilted spinach, fresh roma tomatoes, and fresh mozzarella with a garden salad on the side. Basically it is similar to spanakopitas or even beef wellington, but I used mozzarella instead of feta and I wrapped the whole chicken breast, instead of dicing it up. You can find the recipe below, but you really don't need one, as it is quite easy to prepare!

Chicken Filo
Serves 4

3 T Butter - melted
1 T. Olive Oil plus more for cooking chicken
4 Large Chicken Breast - washed & trimmed of fat
1 Bunch of Fresh Spinach - washed
1 Garlic Clove, minced
2 Roma Tomatoes
Garlic Powder
Fresh Black pepper
Dried or Fresh Basil
Spicy Brown Mustard
Fresh Mozzarella
Finely Grated Parmesan
Filo Dough (16 sheets)
Pastry Brush

Directions: Season your chicken with salt, garlic powder, pepper, basil. and drizzle with olive oil. Heat your non-stick pan on medium with a drizzle of olive oil. Cook chicken until done, flipping often, as well as keeping the lid on to ensure plenty of plumpness and "juicyness"! Turn skillet off and set chicken aside.

Take your bunch of spinach and roughly chop them up. Throw them in a non-stick pan along with a drizzle of olive oil, salt, and garlic and let them wilt a bit. immediately remove your spinach from the pan and place in a mesh strainer to drain excess water. Set aside.

Place the one tablespoon of olive oil into your butter and stir together. take your pastry brush and butter your first filo sheet with your butter and oil. Be sure not to over saturate the filo as it is VERY delicate. Now take another sheet of filo and place it on top of the first. Butter and oil this sheet. Continue doing this until you have four filo sheets. Butter and oil the top sheet.

Take your chicken breast and place it towards the edge of the filo sheets. using your pastry brush generously brush your spicy mustard on top of the chicken. Now place a few sliced tomatoes on top, then your a bit of spinach, and top it off with mozzarella. Gently wrap your chicken and veggies as you would a burrito until you reach the end. gently butter and oil the tops and tuck in the side edges. drizzle with honey and place onto your non-stick baking sheet. Repeat this process with the rest of your chicken breast. Bake on 350 degrees until crisp and lightly golden brown. Sprinkle with finely grated parmesan!

Tip The Cook:
you can serve these up with your favorite marinara sauce or a side of spicy mustard.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Tex Mex Spaghetti

Please forgive my photos as of lately. With the change in season, I have to take my pics under some horrible yellow lighting in a kitchen with no windows, which gives everything a yellow hue. Argh!.lol.

This recipe has somewhat of a story behind it. Once upon a time, when I first met my husband, we lived in a very “humble” home to say the least (well, we still do, just not as Food was low and all we had were a variety of canned beans, noodles, and some tomato sauce. Needless to say I remember that being one of the best meals. After looking back on it, it probably tasted so good because it was all we had. Ok so fast forward to today and I had a craving to explore that recipe a bit further with a little bit more quality ingredients to choose from! This dish is a twist on the classic spaghetti and tomato sauce. It's filled with comfort and a wonderful homemade sauce that is both smoky with a hint of spice and sweetness. By simply leaving out the chicken you can make this a vegetarian meal!

For the chicken you can purchase a pre roasted chicken or roast/bake a couple of seasoned chicken breast. I find with any sauce it is best to prepare this a few hours ahead of time to let all the spices marinate together. Enjoy!

Tex Mex Spaghetti
Serves Six

3 Cloves of Garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. Curly Parsley
1/3 C. Green Onion plus more for garnish, sliced
1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
2 Tbsp. Salsa
1 C.. Black Beans, cooked, drained and rinsed
1 C.. Red Kidney Beans, cooked,drained and rinsed
1 C. Fresh Green Beans, cut into small pieces
2 C. Roasted Chicken, chopped into chunks
½C. plus 1 Tbsp. Barbecue Sauce, sweet base, plus more for garnish(I use "Sticky Fingers: Carolina Sweet")
1 12oz. Can of Whole Tomatoes
3 Tbsp. Tomato Paste
¼ tsp. Salt
¼ tsp. Chili powder
¼ tsp. Paprika
¼ tsp. Black Pepper
1/4tsp. Crushed Red pepper
Shredded Cheese, mixed-mexican blend, for garnish
Perciatelli noodles, boiled in salted water

Directions: Place your minced garlic, parsley, onion, olive oil, salsa, and beans in a medium pot. Bring to a medium low to a medium heat and steam covered for 10 minutes. Now place your chicken into your pot along with 1Tbsp. Of your BBQ Sauce. Stir. With your hands, crush the whole tomatoes roughly and place in your pot along with the remaining juice from the can. Add your tomato paste and ½ C. Barbecue Sauce. Stir. Season with your salt, chili powder, paprika, pepper, and crushed pepper. Let simmer covered on low for 15 minutes, stirring occasionaly. Remove from heat.

To Plate:
place your noodles on your plate, then your sauce, then your cheese and a few sliced green onions. Drizzle your plate and noodles with a little BBQ sauce!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Chicken Noodle Soup + Handmade Parsley Noodles

I have been wanting to fix chicken noodle soup from scratch for quite some time now, yet I have been continuously putting it off because I wanted to make my noodles from scratch as well, and being almost 4 months pregnant, I just could not seem to muster up the energy to do so. Nevertheless I finally kicked my preggo fatigue to the side and made a pot of savory chicken noodle soup! It's filled with hearty veggies and comforting herbs and goes great with a fresh pb&j sandwich. The perfect family fall meal!


For Your Soup
3 Chicken Breasts, fat trimmed & washed
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 ½ C. Chicken Broth, low sodium
5 C. Water
2 Chicken Bouillon Cubes
1 C. Carrots, diced
1 ½ C. Celery, sliced thin
2 Bay Leaves
2-3 Garlic Cloves, minced
1/4 tsp. Rosemary
1 tsp. Ground Thyme
1 tsp. Sage
1 tsp. Worcestershire Sauce
2 Tbsp. Sour Cream
1 Tbsp. Flour
Black Pepper

Season your chicken breast with salt, paprika, and black pepper on both sides. Pour your olive oil into a large pot, once hot place your chicken in your pot to brown on both sides and to cook through until tender. Remove your cooked chicken from the pot and set to the side. Do NOT drain your juices. Now throw in your celery, carrots, garlic, and bay leaves and let them sweat on medium heat until they have become tender and celery is somewhat translucent.

De-glaze your veggies in your pot by pouring in your chicken broth, water, and bouillon cubes. Stir. Shred your chicken roughly with your hands and pour it into your pot. Now add your rosemary, thyme, sage, and Worcestershire sauce. Bring to a boil then return to a low simmer. In a small bowl put in your sour cream and blend with your flour. Add 1 C. of your soup and stir until well blended. Stir mixture back into your soup. Salt and pepper to taste.

For Your Noodles
2 C. Unbleached Flour
4 Large Eggs
¼ tsp. Salt
2 tsp. Olive Oil
¼ C. Curly Parsley, finely chopped

Directions: Place your flour into a large bowl. Make well in the center of your bowl. Add your eggs, salt, parsley, and oil into your well. Beat your eggs then gradually work in your flour. You may find that you do not need to use all of the flour. Work the flour into a dough that is non-sticky and firm. Remove your dough from your bowl and lay on top of a lightly floured counter top. Before kneading, I like to lightly oil my hands with olive oil to keep the dough from sticking too much to my hands. Knead with the heels of your hands for a few minutes to form some elasticity into your dough. Form into a ball and let rest under a bowl for at least 20 minutes.

***Note: I no longer have a pasta machine, so I hand rolled the noodles seen here. It adds a more rustic thick/dumpling texture when done by hand.

Lightly flour your dough and run it through your pasta machine to your desired thickness. Make sure to keep your dough lightly floured before each pass through your machine. Once you have your pasta to your desired thickness(you may prefer a thinner noodle, ta achieve this run your dough through your machine until you can see light pass through your pasta sheets.), lay your pasta onto a lightly floured counter top and cut into small sized rectangles or squares.

Bring a large pot of salted boiling water to a boil. Gently drop your pasta into your water and let boil until done. Immediately transfer your noodles to your chicken soup.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Eggplant Parmesan

Tonight's dinner was Eggplant Parmesan and I must say that it was quite delicious. I keep things pretty simple when it comes to this dish and I like to layer the seasonings as I go and I used the Barilla name brand for the marinara sauce!

Eggplant Parmesan
Serves 5


1 Small Eggplant, peeled and sliced medium width
2 C. Italian Style Bread Crumbs
1 tsp. Ground Thyme
1 tsp. Salt
¼ C. Flour
1 Egg, beaten
2 Tbsp. Fresh Curly Parsley, finely chopped
Fresh Mozzarella
Grated Parmesan Cheese
Olive Oil
Marinara Sauce
Sun Dried Tomato Paste
1 Bunch of Fresh Baby Spinach
Spaghetti Noodles

Directions: Place a pot of salted water onto the stove and slowly bring to a boil. Place your marinara sauce into a pot and let simmer on low.

In the meantime, pour your breadcrumbs, flour, thyme and salt onto a large plate and using a spoon mix all the ingredients together. Take your slices of eggplant and lightly salt the tops of them. Using a pastry brush, brush your egg wash onto the tops of your eggplant.

Place the tops of your eggplant with the egg face down into your bread crumb mixture. Now brush the tops of the eggplant that are facing up with the egg wash and continue breading the tops of the eggplant slices. Heat your olive oil on medium heat. Place your eggplant slices into your skillet and let brown until golden and crisp on both sides. Place cooked eggplant slices onto a baking sheet lined with foil and a bit of non-stick cooking spray. Continue browning the rest of your eggplant. Note: you may need to rinse and re-oil your pan should your oil become filled with overcooked bread crumbs.

Lightly sprinkle some salt onto the tops of your eggplants. Scoop a dollop of your marinara sauce onto the tops. Then spread your shredded fresh mozzarella on top of your sauce. Sprinkle your desired amount of parmesan cheese on top and finish off with your chopped parsley. Bake in a 350 degree oven until mozzarella is bubbly.

Place your spaghetti noodles into your pot of boiling water. Once cooked drain your water and immediately put in your spinach, sun dried tomato paste, and a generous amount of finely grated parmesan, and toss together until your spinach has lightly wilted.

Plating: Place your desired amount of spaghetti onto your plate. Pour marinara sauce on top and place two slices of eggplant on top of your sauce. Sprinkle with more grated parmesan and serve!