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Thursday, March 31, 2011

More from the Far East

I'm on an Asian kick lately, it seems.  Guess it makes sense when you've got an ingredient left over from a previous dish, like I did in this case.  I had to use up the bok choy I bought for my wonton soup, and I had a pork tenderloin ready to go.

I made a few changes to the original recipe, including the addition of cauliflower to bulk up the dish.  I thought I had water chestnuts but I was wrong :(  Add them in if you make this - it'll give it a nice crunch!

Also, I thought the amount of chili pepper the recipe called for was light, so I added an additional teaspoon.  Plus, I had dried chipotle pepper flakes, not chili, so I used that.  

Oh boy.  

Frank almost choked during the first bite, then midway through got an extra bottle of water.  Oops!  Stick to the 1/2 teaspoon unless you're up for some serious heat.

Szechuan Pork with Bok Choy & Cauliflower
adapted from Food. com
1 1/2 teaspoons dried chipotle pepper flakes
tablespoons soy sauce
tablespoon toasted sesame oil
teaspoon white wine vinegar
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 pork tenderloin
teaspoon canola oil
ounces bok choy, leaves separated
1 1/2 cups cauliflower, steamed and chopped into bite size pieces
1 scallion, chopped

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Mix together the garlic, chipotle flakes, soy sauce, sesame oil and vinegar. Pour over the pork and leave to marinate for 30 minutes (less if you need to).

Heat the canola oil in a dutch oven, then brown the pork on all sides. Add the marinade, cover and cook in the oven for 25 minutes or until cooked through. Remove the pork from the pan, then leave to rest (covered). Pour off the juices and reserve.

Add the bok choy to the dutch oven, brown over a high heat, cover and cook gently for 5 minutes until just tender.  Add the cauliflower and  and mix gently.

Cut the pork into chunks and add it to the dutch oven, followed by the scallion.  Mix and heat through for one minute.  Serve with rice.

Serves 3
WW Points+ = 7 (not including rice)

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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Et tu, Anjou?

Frank was going to Costco and asked what I wanted.  For some reason, pears were the first thing that came to my mind.  I was craving a nice, juicy pear.  Yep, that sounded good.

Well, I had a nice juicy pear, but unfortunately, by the next day the rest of them became waaaaaay too juicy and overripe.  Which led me to this:

SO good.  Easy, too.  I brought this to my best friend's house and the kids gobbled it up!

I'll have another pear recipe for you soon - if you shop at Costco you know there are a LOT of pears in one bag :)

Easy Pear Tart
2 eggs
1/4 cup milk (I used 2%)
1 cup granulated sugar (I used Splenda)
pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups AP flour
2 pounds Anjou pears (about 5 or 6)
butter for dotting the tart
1 1/2 tablespoons ground cloves 

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees with a rack in the upper third of the oven.  
Grease a 9-inch round baking pan with butter, then dust with flour.  Peel the pears, cut in half lengthwise, and core to remove the seeds.  Slice the pear halves into thin slivers.

Beat the eggs and milk in a bowl. Add the sugar and a pinch of salt and continue beating until well blended.
Add the flour to the eggs and milk. Mix to form a thick cake batter.

Add the pears to the batter and mix gently until the slices are evenly coated. Pour the batter in the greased and dusted cake pan.  Top evenly with small pieces of butter and ground cloves.

Bake for about 50 minutes, or until the top is well-browned.  Let the pear tart cool in the pan for at least 15 minutes before unmolding.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A lightened up classic

I'll begin this by saying that I've never made salisbury steak before.  And the last time I ate it?  YEARS ago.  Many, many years ago.  

Of course, it sounded SO delicious when I recently read something about it, you know - since I'm on Weight Watchers and it seems like one of those "taboo" dishes.  So I headed over to their site to see if I could find a recipe.

Oh boy, did I find a recipe.  This was REALLY good!  No sacrifice in taste at all.  The gravy is perfect to spoon over a baked potato, which is great because then you don't have to use points on butter or sour cream.  Even if you aren't dieting, try this soon!

Salisbury Steaks with Mushroom Gravy
from Weight Watchers
1/3 cup onion, diced, divided
1/2 teaspoon black pepper 
1/4 teaspoon salt 
2 garlic cloves, minced 
1 pound ground sirloin 
Cooking spray 
1 tablespoon butter 
8 ounces mushrooms, quartered 
1/3 cup dry red wine 
1 1/4 cups fat-free, lower-sodium beef broth 
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour 
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar 

Combine 1/4 cup onion, pepper, salt, garlic and beef.  Shape mixture into 4 (1/2 inch thick) patties.  

Heat a skillet over medium-high heat.  Coat with cooking spray.  Add patties and cook for about 3 minutes on each side or until browned.  Remove patties. 

Melt butter in pan. Add mushrooms and saute for 4-5 minutes. Stir in wine and remaining onion, and cook for about 2 minutes.

Combine broth and flour.  Add to pan and bring to a boil.  Cook for about 5 minutes or until thick.  

Add patties and vinegar to pan, and cook for around 2 minutes.  Serve.

Serves 4
WW Points+ = 5

Linked to: What's On Your Plate, hosted by Good Cheap Eats
                 Hunk of Meat Monday

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Monday, March 28, 2011

Letting "loose"

Puttanesca.  Do you know what it means?  My fellow Italians do.

For the rest of you - it comes from the Italian word "puttana", which means "whore".  Some say the sauce was named that because of its hot and spicy taste, while others say that prostitutes prepared it between "jobs" because of its ease and speedy preparation.  

Either way, it sure is bold...which is perfect for tilapia and pasta...two foods that are very versatile and can use a little extra kick.  Of course, you can tone down the spiciness, or turn it up...it's easy enough to do with the crushed red pepper.  

Just don't tell your guests you're serving them "Whore's Tilapia"...unless you know their sense of humor can handle it ;)

Tilapia Puttanesca
3 tilapia filets
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
5 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 can (15 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained
12 kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
1 tablespoon capers
salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon oregano
2 teaspoons basil
1/2 pound spaghetti

Cook spaghetti according to package directions.  Meanwhile, heat oil over medium high heat in a large skillet.  Add garlic and crushed red pepper, and cook until lightly brown.

Add tomatoes, olives and capers, followed by oregano, basil and a pinch of salt and pepper.  Cook until liquid begins to boil.

Sprinkle salt and pepper on tilapia and add to pan.  Cook for about 4-5 minutes on each side.

Lower heat, drain spaghetti and add to pan.  Mix through the sauce carefully in order to not break the fish.  Serve immediately.

Serves 3
WW Points+ = 4 (not including pasta)

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Sunday, March 27, 2011

A takeout favorite, minus the phone call

I was excited when I received this recipe for one of the swaps I participate in...whenever Frank and I order Chinese we ALWAYS get wonton soup.   I was hoping this would be good enough to satisfy our craving without having to have it delivered, and I was right!  It was a delicious Saturday lunch.

I've made dumplings before so I used the same method rather than what the original recipe suggested.  Hey, as long as it's sealed tight and the filling doesn't fall out, that's all that matters!  Do whatever you're comfortable with.

I added fresh ginger to the broth to give it more flavor.  Also, do yourself a favor - DON'T skip the sesame oil at the end - it definitely is a great way to top the soup off.

Another recipe swap success!

Homemade Wonton Soup
adapted from Tales From The Mad Men Kitchen

1 bunch green onions, chopped, divided
6 fresh mushrooms, sliced, divided
1 pound ground pork
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 egg
1/4 cup dry bread crumbs
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 (16 ounce) package wonton wrappers
8 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, grated
1 medium head bok choy, torn into 2-inch pieces
16 snow peas
dash of soy sauce, or to taste
dash of sesame oil, to taste 
Finely chop 1 tablespoon of green onions and 1 tablespoon of sliced mushrooms, and place in a bowl with the ground pork, 1 tablespoon sesame oil, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, egg, bread crumbs, salt, and pepper. Stir until thoroughly mixed.
Spoon about 1 tablespoon of the pork filling onto the center of each wonton wrapper. Use your finger or a pastry brush to lightly moisten the edges of the wonton wrappers with water. Fold one side of the wrapper over the filling onto the opposite corner to form a semi-circle. Press the edges together to seal. 
Bring the chicken broth and ginger to a boil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Drop the wontons, one by one, into the broth, and let them cook for 3 to 5 minutes (or until they float to the surface). 
Reduce heat to a simmer, and gently stir in the bok choy and reserved sliced mushrooms. Let the soup simmer 2 more minutes, then drop in the snow pea pods. 
Garnish with the remaining green onions, soy sauce and sesame oil, and serve immediately.

WW Points+ = 5 (includes 3 wontons)

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Saturday, March 26, 2011

Getting back to basics

Sometimes I spend so much time trying to figure out new ways to prepare foods, I forget about the basics.  Like roasted chicken.

There's nothing more convenient than having cooked chicken in the fridge, ready and waiting to be used in so many different ways.  Sandwiches, salads, quesadillas, pasta...plus it makes the house smell amazing!  I may have to start doing this every week...

Basic Roasted Chicken
chicken parts
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Place chicken in a baking pan and drizzle with oil.  Season with salt and pepper and bake for 35-40 minutes.

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Friday, March 25, 2011

Have it your way

I'm a big fan of the omelette (or is it omelet?  Hmmm...I like the feminine spelling better)...what's better than having a pocket of whatever-combo-of-cheese-meat-and-veggies-you-want for breakfast?  Not to mention, it's super easy and takes about 5 minutes to make.  Score!

Here's what my latest omelette included.  I used egg whites this time around since I had leftover ones from another recipe.  Actually, just like when I make frittata, salad or pasta dishes, it's all a matter of what's leftover or what you have available in your kitchen.

No rocket science here.  Just good, simple food that's easy to make.

Mexican Egg White Omelette
cooking spray
3 egg whites
1/2 of a jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped (adjust to your liking)
1/4 cup onion, chopped
3 tablespoons lowfat cheddar cheese, shredded
cumin, garlic powder, black pepper to taste
diced avocado

Spray a non-stick medium sized pan with cooking spray.  Add egg whites and make sure they cover the surface area of the pan.  Place jalapeno, onion, cheese and spices on one half of the egg whites.

Once the egg is bubbling, turn the empty side onto the side with the ingredients.  Flip the omelette over and cook for another 30-60 seconds.  Plate and top with salsa and avocado.  Serve immediately.

WW Points+ = 6 (using fat free salsa and 1/4 of an avocado)

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Thursday, March 24, 2011

More recipe swapping!

I have to admit, I'm starting to get a little confused...whose recipe is for which swap and when is it due and what's the theme and what do I need to get at the store and...I need to get my act together!  Still, I love participating in them...95% of the time it adds a great recipe to my collection.

The theme for this particular weekly swap was easy weeknight dinners.  I received a recipe from Nichole, author of The Cookaholic Wife, for Beef Au Jus Sandwiches.  I had a very hectic day and still was able to run home and get this on the table in less than 30 minutes...not bad!

This is a fantastic way to spice up boring deli meat.  It's also a great idea when thinking of what to serve to a crowd for the big game.  Frank really liked it.  He had his on a long roll - I had mine sans bread (behaving!).  It was delicious, even on its own.

I served it with smashed potatoes and steamed mixed veggies.

The recipe below reflects the changes I made to make it a bit lighter...we loved it.  Thanks for a great dish, Nichole!

Beef Au Jus Sandwiches
adapted from The Cookaholic Wife

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 yellow onion, sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup red wine
1 tablespoon AP flour
1 teaspoon thyme
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 pound deli roast beef, thinly sliced
rolls (whatever type you prefer)

Melt the butter in a dutch oven.  Add onion, garlic and bay leaf and cook for about 10 minutes, or until soft and lightly browned.

Add wine and bring to a boil.  Reduce to simmer and cook until liquid reduces.  Remove bay leaf.

Add flour and whisk in until evenly distributed.  Pour in broth and add salt, pepper and thyme.  Bring to a boil then reduce to simmer.

Add meat to the pot and let it soak in the juices for about 5 minutes.  Place on rolls, top with sauce and serve.

Serves 3
WW Points+ = 6 (without bread)

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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Pass the cinnamon, please

The Greek in me craves certain flavors.  Cinnamon is a biggie.  I love using it in savory dishes, not just for the taste but for the smell - it's amazing how many memories a smell can trigger.  Like my Nana's stifado...

I really wish I was able to ask Nana about her recipes from years past.  She's still with us, but she suffers from dementia so it's impossible to get any information from her about anything :(  My Mom knows some of them...others I have to figure out myself, or search for something that's hopefully just as good.

This Cat Cora recipe looked good enough to try, and fortunately it didn't disappoint.  I only had two large chicken breasts to use, so I cut back the oil to 1 tablespoon and used about 3 tablespoons of tomato paste.  All of the other measurements and ingredients are the same as the original recipe.

I ended up with a good amount of leftover sauce, so I saved it with the leftover couscous that I made (in place of orzo).  I made a little greek salad, too.

So here it is - Greek Cinnamon Stewed Chicken.  Yum.

For my Weight Watchers readers - the recipe (as I adapted it) is about 5-6 Points Plus per serving - add 3 points for a 1/2 cup of whole wheat couscous and it's a great 8 point meal!

Linked to: What's On Your Plate, hosted by Good Cheap Eats
                 Friday Chicken Blog Hop

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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Playing around with pasta

I had a lot of ricotta cheese leftover from the Cassata cake, so of course, pasta came to mind.  I also had a bag of spinach I needed to use.  Hmmm.

We had lasagna last night and I wanted to stay away from marinara, so I experimented between making a low fat alfredo sauce and a bechamel...

I needed to bring lots flavor to the dish since I didn't want to use butter or a lot of oil.  The nutmeg gives it a nice touch and of course, lots of garlic always helps :)  I'm definitely going to use this in lasagna soon...it would work really well.

This took about 15 minutes to make...can't beat it for a healthy and easy weeknight meal!

Rotini with Spinach and Ricotta
1 box rotini pasta (Dreamfield, as usual)
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 bag (6 oz) fresh spinach
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper 
1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
3/4 cup skim milk
1 tablespoon thyme
2 teaspoons nutmeg
pepper to taste

Cook pasta according to package directions.  Meanwhile, add oil to a hot dutch oven, followed by garlic and crushed red pepper.  Add spinach and cook until wilted.  Turn off the heat.

Drain pasta and add it to the spinach.  Return the pasta pot to the stove.  Combine ricotta, milk, thyme, nutmeg and pepper.  Whisk until heated through, about 2 minutes.  Pour cheese mixture into the other pot, and stir until everything is combined.  Serve immediately.

Serves 4
WW Points Plus = 10 (which would lower drastically if using lowfat or nonfat ricotta...next time that's what I'll do)

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Monday, March 21, 2011

Happy Birthday Dad! (What's Baking)

Today is my Dad's 65th birthday!  We celebrated yesterday with a typical Sunday dinner...cheese, olives, salami, focaccia...lasagna, meatballs, braciole, pork, sausage, salad...and then...

Sicilian Cassata Cake.


My father's family is from Sicily (and if you haven't been there, GO!) and we really enjoy Sicilian cuisine.  For those who don't know, Sicily is the little island at the bottom of Italy that the "boot" is kicking.  The food differs from the mainland in terms of the ingredients that are commonly used, but moreso with cooking than baking.

Coincidentally, our What's Baking theme this month (hosted by Amanda of Our Italian Kitchen) was to bake something that represents your heritage.  Thanks Dad...you made my decision for me! :)

I found a great recipe on Tartelette and instead of using her suggestion of stabilized whipped cream frosting, I made the frosting from the cake I made for my birthday last month.  We're big chocolate fans.

Frank and I didn't hesitate for a second when deciding what filling to have for our wedding cake - cannoli cream is our absolute favorite.  So, I was happy when Dad chose this cake for his special day.  The balance between the sponge cake, chocolate and cannoli cream was seriously amazing!

Yes, there are a lot of components, but it was totally worth the work...especially when you have a husband to help you chop pistachios and grate chocolate.  The recipe may seem complicated but it really isn't at all.

Oh, and to Tony, and any of Mom's coworkers reading this, you're welcome in advance.  Enjoy the leftovers today!

Enjoy your day, Pop Pop!

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Saturday, March 19, 2011

A smoothie for Bella

"Mommy, my favorite color is puhple".

Bella loves a good smoothie, so I came up with this combination for her.  She was jumping up and down in the kitchen, watching the blender and beaming with excitement.  It was so cute!  Next time I'll have to get a picture of her with her smoothie mustache :)

Purple Berry Smoothie
1 cup light vanilla yogurt
3/4 cup milk (1%)
1 cup Trader Joe's Very Cherry Berry Blend (found in freezer section)
3 tablespoons almond butter
2 bananas

Throw all ingredients into a blender and blend on high until smooth.

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Friday, March 18, 2011

Another fun challenge

I'm having fun with different recipe swaps and challenges...it's always interesting to see what recipe you end up with or what to choose when presented with a list of ideas.  Christina from Tales From The Mad Men Kitchen was looking for volunteers to help cook through a list of Chinese dishes, and I was happy to take part in the challenge.

I lightened this dish up a bit so it differs from the original recipe.  Also, I added edamame for some more protein and crunch.  If you haven't tried it, pick some up...you can buy it frozen and shelled at Whole Foods.  Not only is it a great addition to certain dishes, it's a great snack, too.

Chinese Beef with Noodles
adapted from Food .com

1/2 lb. spaghetti (Dreamfield)
3/4 lb. stir fry beef
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon five spice powder
1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons cornstarch
4 teaspoons water
3/4 cup edamame
6 green onions, roughly chopped

Cook spaghetti according to package directions.  Drain and set aside.

Put beef in a bowl and add garlic, ginger and five spice powder.  Heat oil in a large skillet and add beef.  Cook until slightly browned.

Combine chicken broth and soy sauce and add to pan.  Let sauce come to a boil.  Mix together cornstarch and water.  Add to pan along with edamame, and stir to thicken.

Add spaghetti and stir to warm up and cover with sauce.  Add green onions, toss and serve immediately.

Serves 3-4
WW Points Plus - 11 (if serving 3)

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Thursday, March 17, 2011

My long lost friend!

I've been neglecting my crockpot!  It's been collecting dust!  Until now...

Facebook fans, this is the recipe I promised...and it definitely didn't disappoint.  Not only is it super low in WW points, it's delicious!  The chicken was SO tender and tasty.  Plus, it gave us plenty of leftovers for lunch.  We loved this.

Lemon Garlic Chicken in the Crockpot
adapted from LaaLoosh

6 boneless skinless chicken breasts
10 garlic cloves, finely chopped or minced
2 yellow onions, chopped
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup lemon pepper seasoning
3 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon lemon zest
Mix together the lemon pepper seasoning, paprika and salt. Coat the chicken with the spice mixture. 
Place the coated chicken in the crock pot and cover with broth, garlic, parsley, onions and lemon zest. Cook on low for 3-4 hours.

Serves 6
WW Points+ = 3

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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

We have another winner!

The first winner chosen had 48 hours to contact me (since she didn't leave her email) and didn't...so I just used random.org again and they selected another winner for my giveaway...

Congratulations to #7...sabloja!

sabloja said...

And I already follow you! I really want to win this giveaway!!!


Gimme that filet o' fish

There are two reasons you'll be seeing more fish recipes from me now.  Not that I was ever opposed to fish...it's just never the first thing on my radar.

First, it's that time of year again - Lent.  If you want to get your protein in on Fridays, this is how you do it.  

Second, I joined Weight Watchers (woohoo.  lol).  If you want to save your points up for chocolate, this is how you do it.

Tilapia is a favorite because it's versatile and inexpensive, plus it doesn't stink up the house.  Here's a quick and easy way to prepare it (and yes, this picture looks familiar because it's the same one I used for the Tri Colore Orzo).

I'm still trying to get a better grip on the WW Points system, but I'm pretty sure this works out to about 4-5 points per serving.  Not bad!

Pan Fried Tilapia
2 tilapia filets
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1 egg
1/4 cup seasoned Italian bread crumbs
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon oregano
salt and pepper to taste

Beat an egg in one bowl, and mix bread crumbs and seasonings in another bowl.  Dip fish in egg first, followed by bread crumb mixture.

Put oil in a hot non-stick pan (medium high heat), move around so entire surface is covered, and add fish.  Cook each side for about 4-5 minutes.  Squeeze some lemon over fish before serving, if desired.

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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Daring Cooks: Papas Rellenas

The challenge for Daring Cooks this month was a great one - Ceviche and Papas Rellenas (Peruvian Style).  We have a small Peruvian restaurant near us that we go to occasionally and always are happy with the food.  It's warm, comforting and delicious (not to mention cheap!).   We really like it.

I chose to tackle the Papas Rellenas, and I'm glad I did.  They were really good, and BIG...one was enough for a serving, and the recipe made 6, so we had plenty of leftovers!

The only thing I did differently was make the potatoes the day before and store them in the fridge...this way, they were easier to handle once I was ready to assemble them.  My friend's mom, who is Puerto Rican and makes these often, gave me that tip...and it definitely helped!

Frank helped me out with this dish by taking charge of the ricer - a much easier task for a big, strong man like him (he's going to eat up that shout-out).  The one I borrowed from my Mom isn't very big and takes some elbow grease, so I was happy to pass that off :)  Next time, he'll also be the one in charge of forming them, since I now know that the bigger the hand, the better they get filled!  Mine didn't make it all the way into the middle...oh well.

These would be great with different types of fillings, too.  We loved them and will definitely be making them again.  Another successful Daring Cooks challenge :)  Can't wait to see what the next one is!

Kathlyn of Bake Like a Ninja was our Daring Cooks’ March 2011 hostess. Kathlyn challenges us to make two classic Peruvian dishes: Ceviche de Pescado from “Peruvian Cooking – Basic Recipes” by Annik Franco Barreau. And Papas Rellenas adapted from a home recipe by Kathlyn’s Spanish teacher, Mayra.

Papas Rellenas
adapted from Bake Like A Ninja

For the dough:

2¼ lb russet potatoes
1 large egg

For the filling:
2 tablespoons canola oil
½ lb ground beef
12 green olives with pimento, chopped
3 hard boiled large eggs, chopped
1 small onion, finely diced (about 1 cup)
½ cup raisins, soaked in 1 cup boiling water for 10 minutes, then minced
1 finely diced jalapeno pepper 
3 cloves garlic, minced or passed through a press
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin 
½ teaspoon sweet paprika
¼ cup beef stock for deglazing 
Salt and pepper to taste

For the final preparation:
1 large egg, beaten
1 cup all-purpose flour
Dash cayenne pepper
Dash salt
1 cup panko bread crumbs 
Oil for frying (enough for 2” in a medium sized dutch oven)

For the dough:
Boil the potatoes until they pierce easily with a fork.  Remove them from the water and cool.  Once the potatoes have cooled, peel them and mash them with a potato masher or force them through a potato ricer (preferred).  

Add egg, salt and pepper and knead dough thoroughly to ensure that ingredients are well combined and uniformly distributed.  Store in the refrigerator overnight if you can...the potatoes will be much easier to handle that way.
For the filling:
Gently brown onion and garlic in oil (about 5 minutes).  Add the jalapenos and sauté for a few more minutes.  Add ground beef and brown.

Add raisins, cumin and paprika and cook very briefly.  Deglaze the pan with beef stock.  Add olives and cook for a few moments longer.  Take off the heat and add hard boiled egg.  Allow filling to cool before forming papas.

Forming and frying the papas:
Use three small bowls to prepare the papas. In one, combine flour, cayenne and salt.  In the 
second, a beaten egg with a tiny bit of water.  Put bread crumbs in the third.  Flour your hands and scoop up 1/6 of the total dough to make a round pancake with your hands.  Make a slight indentation in the middle for the filling.  Spoon a generous amount of filling into the center and then roll the potato closed, forming a 
smooth, potato-shaped casing around the filling.  Repeat with all dough.

Heat 2 inches of oil in a pan to about 350 – 375° F (175 - 190°C).  Dip each papa in the three bowls to coat: first roll in flour, then dip in egg, then roll in bread crumbs.  Fry the papas (in batches if necessary) about 2-3 minutes until golden brown.  Flip once in the middle of frying to brown both sides.  Drain on paper towel and store in a 200ºF oven if frying in batches.

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Monday, March 14, 2011

We have a winner!

The winner of my latest giveaway is #12...Enza!

Enza said...

Definitely a funfetti cake with funfetti frosting!!!


Happy Birthday Mom (in-law)!

This weekend we celebrated my Mother-in-law's birthday.  When I asked her a few weeks ago what kind of cake she wanted, she immediately answered, "Brown Derby!".

Ummm, okay...

I mentioned it to my Mom, and she knew what MIL was talking about.  Must be a generational thing, I assumed...because I never knew what it was until it was explained to me.  I wasn't even getting a clear answer when I googled!

It's quite simple, actually.  A chocolate cake with whipped cream, strawberries and bananas...and crumbled cake bits over the cream.  I went with the Hershey's "Perfectly Chocolate" Chocolate Cake recipe (minus the icing) and highly recommend it!  I would NOT use this recipe for cupcakes, however...it's pretty soft and sticks to your fingers very easily.

I used my sweetened whipped cream recipe for the topping.  Add fresh sliced strawberries and bananas, and there you have it.  Yum.

It was a big hit!

Brown Derby Cake
adapted from Hershey's Kitchens

2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa (I actually used Ghirardelli!)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk (I used 1%)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water
Sweetened Whipped Cream
1 pound fresh strawberries, hulled and thinly sliced
1 banana, thinly sliced
Cake crumbles

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour two 9 inch round cake pans.

Stir together the first 6 ingredients in a large bowl, then add all other ingredients except the boiling water.  Beat in mixer (medium speed) for 2 minutes.  Add boiling water.  Batter will be very thin.

Bake 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out of the center of the cake clean.  Leave in pans for 10 minutes then remove and let cool completely on racks.

Trim both cakes so they are even (do this with a serrated knife, and very carefully!).  Crumble cake scraps and set aside.

Place one cake on serving plate and top with whipped cream.  Add sliced strawberries and bananas.  Place second cake over first cake and cover top and sides with whipped cream.  Place cake crumbles all over the whipped cream.

Linked to: Themed Bakers Sunday

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Sunday, March 13, 2011

Recipe Swap - Week #4

***Don't forget to enter my giveaway HERE!  Ends tomorrow!***

This week's theme was vegetarian dishes and I was SO excited when I got my recipe.  It was the perfect side to go with our Friday fish meal (tilapia recipe coming soon!) that came from Giada - another contribution from Sarah at A Taste Of Home Cooking.

Not only was this recipe easy, it was delicious.  Frank loved it too.  We thought it would be great with grilled shrimp or chicken served on top.  It's light, flavorful and pretty!  It really set the mood for Spring.

I made a few changes and will write the recipe based on exactly what I did (plus I halved it).  I cut the oil back a lot - it really didn't need as much as it called for.

Tri-Colore Orzo
adapted from Giada De Laurentis

1/2 pound orzo
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 cup fresh arugula
1/2 cup crumbled ricotta salata
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts
5 fresh basil leaves, torn
juice of 1/2 lemon
salt and pepper to taste

Cook orzo for about 8 minutes, or until al dente.  Drain and lay out on baking pan, add oil and stir throughout.  Spread the orzo evenly on the pan again, and leave to cool.

Transfer cooled orzo to a serving bowl and add the rest of the ingredients.  Toss and serve.

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Saturday, March 12, 2011

Wow, really?

***Don't forget to enter my giveaway HERE!***

Who knew how easy it was to make biscuits and jam?  I didn't.  No clue.

My mom was leafing through the local paper the other day and came across this recipe for biscuits - we both read it and looked at each other like, "No way".  There's no way they can be that easy and taste good.

Well, they did.

As for the jam, I've been knee deep in strawberries lately (as if you didn't notice), and needed to do something with the rest before they went bad.  And I wanted something EASY.  No pectin, since I didn't have any, and nothing that required a complicated process or other offbeat ingredients.

Enter this recipe, which is called a jam, but also has a bit of a consistency like sauce.  Either way, it's delicious...even with the Splenda I subbed in for the sugar.

Make both of these for your loved ones, and never let them in on your secret :)

2-Ingredient Biscuits
from an insert in The Bergen Record

2 cups self rising flour
1 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Combine ingredients in a bowl until mixed together.  Give the dough 10 kneads, then roll out and cut in 2-inch circles.  Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Bake for 10 minutes or lightly browned.

Easy Strawberry Jam
adapted from Whole Foods Market

1.5 pounds strawberries, hulled
5 tablespoons Splenda

Chop strawberries (or use a food processor if you want) and place in a medium size pot.  Add Splenda, cover and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes, or until berries are softer and releasing their juices.

Uncover, lower heat and cook for another 12-15 minutes, or until berries fall apart and the mixture becomes thick.

Eat hot, cold or at room temp.  This can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks in an airtight container.

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Friday, March 11, 2011

Cleaning out the fridge again (Lent friendly dish)

***Don't forget to enter my giveaway HERE!***

Every once in a while I open up the door to the fridge (and freezer) and think, okay, what can I concoct today?  I get these sudden urges to throw something together that will use up what we have (I HATE wasting food!) and of course, still taste delicious.

One of my 'must have' items from Trader Joe's is their eggplant cutlets (pictured here, in the middle of the page)...it's great to have in the freezer for shortcut nights.  I took out what was left and added it to some fresh veggies for a makeshift veggie 'lasagna' (minus the pasta).

It ain't pretty, but it tasted very good.  I served pasta on the side to satisfy the carb fiend man of the house.

This dish also gets easier if you make marinara and freeze it in small batches...I always have some in the freezer.  ALWAYS.  In this case, though, I had some leftover in the fridge that I used.

It's a great idea for meatless Fridays, for those of you observing Lent.  It's also very versatile, so you too can clean out your fridge/freezer and add whatever you have on hand.

Veggie "Lasagna"
1/2 box Trader Joe's eggplant (enough to cover bottom of pan)
1 zucchini, cut lengthwise in thin slices
2 large portobello mushroom caps, broken in large pieces
fresh mozzarella, broken into pieces
pecorino romano

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Coat a 9x9 baking pan with cooking spray.  Cover the bottom with a thin layer of marinara, then eggplant slices.

Cover eggplant with a small layer of mozzarella and a few spoons of ricotta, then more sauce.  Add mushroom chunks, then cover with more cheese and sauce...followed by zucchini, cheese, sauce.

Top the dish off with pecorino romano, place in the oven and cook for 22-25 minutes, or until brown on top.

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Thursday, March 10, 2011

A giveaway to celebrate my 100th post!

Happy 100th post to me, in less than 3 months of blogging!  Time flies when you're having fun :)

I'm having a blast with this blog and I hope you're enjoying it, too.  I love hearing comments from all of you regarding what you like, don't like, how I've inspired you, what you'd like to see more of...any input has been helpful and appreciated.

I thought a giveaway would be a great way to celebrate this milestone.  Here's a fun item for all the bakers (or wanna-be bakers) out there...

Here's a link for more information about this great checkerboard cake set!  Perfect for special occasions and super easy to use.

How to enter (Continental US Residents only):
Leave a comment under this post telling me what type of cake you'd request if I were baking one for you tomorrow.

For additional entries (each earns you one more entry):
- Become a fan of my Facebook page (if you already are, just leave another comment)
- Share the link to this giveaway post on your Facebook page (and leave the link in your comment)

PLEASE leave an email address if there isn't one linked to your profile when you comment.  Thank you!

You have until 3PM EST on Monday, March 14th to enter.  I'll announce the winner later that day.

Good luck, and thanks again for being the best readers ever! :)