28 May 2011

This is a recipe I just completely made up.  I'm all about marrying different flavors together in somewhat unexpected ways, and something made me think that garlic and lime would be good together on a taco.  Here's what I came up with.

Slow Cooker Garlic Lime Chicken for Tacos

3½-4cups reduced-sodium chicken stock
6 cloves garlic, sliced
3 chicken breast halves (not cutlets)
1 lime
1 tsp olive oil

Pour about half of the chicken stock in the bottom of the slow cooker.  Add about half of the sliced garlic.  Place chicken breasts on top, doing your best to make sure they don’t overlap.  Pour remaining chicken stock on top, making sure chicken is covered with liquid.  Throw in the remaining garlic.

Cover and cook on low for 6 hours.

Remove chicken from slow cooker and shred with two forks.  Place in a large bowl.  Zest the lime and put in a small bowl.  Juice the lime and add that and the oil to the bowl and stir until combined.  Pour lime juice mixture over the chicken and toss to coat.

Put chicken inside flour tortillas and add your favorite taco toppings.  

Makes about 8 servings (enough for about 16 tacos).

These are not your usual heavy, greasy, and rich tacos.  I love those (don't get me wrong!), but I was in the mood for something fresh and light.  This is definitely it!  The chicken is slow cooked all day, infusing with wonderful garlic flavor, then brightened up with lime juice and lime zest.  It was so good that I couldn't stop sneaking bites as I was preparing it.  

You can build your tacos any way you like, of course.  Here's how I layered mine: flour tortilla, black beans, chicken, fresh avocado, fresh cilantro leaves, sliced onion, and then I squirted some chipotle sauce on each side.  Since the chicken has no spice, you need some kind of spicy element in there, in my opinion.  While I thought the chipotle sauce was perfect, my husband chose taco sauce.  You could also use salsa.

These are the perfect summertime tacos.  And since they are made in the slow cooker, there is no oven or stovetop to heat up your kitchen.  And it makes your house smell awesome!

I am just guessing on the serving size.  It makes a lot!  It may be more than that.

 Chicken nestled into the slow cooker.  I turned them over a couple of hours into cooking to make sure they cooked evenly.

The finished chicken.  It's so pretty with the flecks of green!  Jim said it should be called "fiesta chicken".

26 May 2011

Yep, more citrus! This is a super easy dish. Bright citrus flavors combined with the smokiness of the grill equal the perfect summertime dish. This is an adaptation of one I found on Food.com.

Triple Citrus Grilled Chicken

4 chicken breast cutlets
¼ cup lemon juice
2 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp orange juice
1 tbsp olive oil
1½ tsp sugar
½ tsp dried oregano
½ tsp salt
Chopped cilantro, optional

Place chicken in a large resealable plastic bag.

Combine lemon juice, lime juice, orange juice, oil, sugar, oregano, and salt in a small bowl. Pour over chicken; seal bag. Marinate in refrigerator 4 to 24 hours, turning occasionally.

Drain chicken, discarding marinade. Grill chicken on rack of uncovered grill directly over medium heat 8 to 10 minutes or until tender and no longer pink inside, turning once.

Or, broil on unheated rack of broiler pan 4 to 5 inches from heat 8 to 10 minutes, turning once.

Garnish with chopped cilantro, if desired.

Makes 4 servings.

I marinated mine for 5 hours. Don’t be alarmed if the chicken starts turning white. That’s just the citrus doing its thing. I wouldn’t let it marinate too long. Like the recipe says, I use cutlets, which are pretty thin. You can marinate it longer if you are using full breast halves, which are a lot thicker, or bone-in chicken.

The cilantro was my addition; it goes really well with this dish because it has a lot of citrus notes to it and in my opinion it really made the flavors pop.

I served this with my Ginger Garlic Linguine and roasted broccoli.

25 May 2011

This is a dish I have been making for a few years now but have never blogged about for some reason.  Mexican restaurants abounded where we lived in Texas, and our favorite thing to order was sour cream chicken enchiladas.  I had eaten at plenty of Mexican restaurants in the Midwest, but didn't recall ever seeing those on the menus there.  Sour cream chicken enchiladas are really good; a rich creamy filling inside and bold tomato-y sauce on the outside.  After moving away from Texas, I really missed this dish and tried to recreate it in my own kitchen.  My version is not nearly as rich as the restaurant version, but it satisfies the craving.

Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas

1½ cups chicken, cooked and diced or shredded
¼ onion, finely diced
1½ cups low fat sour cream
1½  cups Mexican cheese blend, shredded, divided
8 taco-sized tortillas
2 cans enchilada sauce

Preheat oven to 350°.  

Combine chicken, onion, sour cream, and 1 cup of the cheese in a large bowl.  If tortillas are not pliable, soften by placing in a clean kitchen towel and microwaving for 30 seconds.  Place a couple of spoonfuls of chicken filling inside each tortilla and roll up.  Pour a thin layer of enchilada sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish.  Place the enchiladas in the dish, side by side, seam side down.  Top with the remaining enchilada sauce.  Cover dish with foil and bake for 25 minutes.

Uncover, sprinkle with remaining cheese, and bake an additional 5 minutes or until cheese melts.

Makes 4 servings, 2 enchiladas each.

This is a really easy dish to throw together.  You can use canned chicken, but most often I use the chicken I have picked off the bone after roasting a whole chicken.  I have also made it when I didn't have any cooked chicken on hand.  I simply poach a couple of chicken breast cutlets in a combination of chicken stock and tomato sauce and then shred.

This is similar to my other chicken enchilada recipe, Enchiladas Hermanas, but without the cream cheese and a little bit simplified since you don't have to cook the filling before stuffing the tortillas.

A note on the enchilada sauce: I had a hard time finding the right heat level.  The mild didn't have enough, and the medium (or hot, depending on the brand) had too much.  So I buy a can of each and mix them together before pouring over the enchiladas.  Perfect!

 Naked enchiladas.  I had more than eight because I made too much filling.

 Covered in sauce and ready for the oven.

Not the best lighting here, but this is what they look like coming out of the oven.

I like to serve them with my Sweet Corn Tomalito.  The sweetness of that is perfect with the spicy of the enchilada sauce.

Erin at Dinners, Dishes, and Desserts chose to make this recipe when she was assigned my blog for the Secret Recipe Club in February 2012.  Click on the button below to check out her post!

Secret Recipe Club

24 May 2011

This is another one of my meatless main dishes.  Falafel is a Middle Eastern dish that consists of fried balls or patties made of ground chickpeas.  You might remember it being mentioned in the move Slumdog Millionaire, as it is popular street food in that part of the world.  It also makes a wonderful meatless main!

Traditional falafel is deep-fried, but that's one thing I don't do, so I just pan fry mine.  You can also bake them, but I haven't tried that yet.  Here's how I make mine.

Falafel Pita Sandwiches

2 (15 oz) cans garbanzo beans, drained
½ small onion, grated
2 cloves garlic, grated
¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp olive oil
2 tsp coriander
2 tsp cumin
¼ tsp red pepper flakes
¼ cup flour
Vegetable oil, for frying
Pita pockets
Fresh spinach

Put beans in a medium sized bowl and mash with a fork (or pulse in food processor).  Add onion, garlic, cilantro, lemon juice, olive oil, coriander, cumin, red pepper flakes, and flour and mix well.

Form into small balls, about 1½” in diameter and slightly flatten. 

Heat oil in large skillet.  Fry falafel a few minutes on each side, until golden brown.  Drain on paper towels.

Stuff in pita pockets with hummus and spinach.

Makes 4 servings.

This is really good.  You can make your own hummus, of course, but I don't have a full-sized food processor and my mini chopper can only do so much that it's easier for me just to buy it at the store.  And Meijer had it on sale buy one get one free yesterday! :)  It may seem weird to serve chickpea balls with a chickpea puree, but the flavors and consistencies are so different that it totally works.

Kids love this dish.  It's so fun for them to stuff the little balls inside the pita.  And my daughter loves the spinach, which she calls "leaves".  This is definitely one of Jim's favorites in our meatless mains rotation.

As an alternative to serving these as listed above, I have also thought of making them into large patties and serving them on hamburger buns, kind of like a "falafel burger". 

18 May 2011

This is a versatile recipe that is perfect for parties, but can also be made for dinner.  It's an adaptation of one I saw in EveryDay with Rachael Ray this month.  The meatballs are super flavorful on their own, but then they're coated in a sweet peanut sauce that will knock your socks off.

Asian Turkey Meatballs with Sweet Peanut Sauce

1 lb. lean ground turkey 
½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
¼ cup dried breadcrumbs 
1 shallot, minced
1 clove garlic, grated 
1 tsp salt 
¼ cup peanut butter 
2 tbsp soy sauce 
3 tbsp sugar 
½ tbsp sesame oil 
2½ tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp sesame seeds 

Preheat oven to 400°.  Line a large baking sheet with foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray.

Combine turkey, cilantro, breadcrumbs, shallot, garlic, and salt; roll into 1 tbsp. balls.  Place balls on baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes or until cooked through.

Meanwhile, combine peanut butter, soy sauce, sugar, and oils in a microwave-safe bowl.  Warm in microwave about 30 seconds.  Toss meatballs with half of sauce and sprinkle with sesame seeds. 

Serve on toothpicks with remaining sauce for dipping.

Makes 24 meatballs.

I cannot even tell you how good these are.  I think I could eat these every day!  And they were relatively easy to make.  I kind of shy away from meatball recipes because it's kind of labor intensive to roll each one out and make sure they are roughly the same size, which I am never good at.  Then trying to cook them through in the skillet always gives me problems because they either fall apart when I try to turn them, or I don't turn them correctly and they end up being anything but round.  But these were easy.  I like how the directions said to make each ball 1 tbsp in size.  That made it easy for me to make sure they were uniform.  

The recipe did call for cooking them in the skillet, but I needed the skillet for my side dish, and because of the problems mentioned above, I decided to try baking them in the oven instead.  I see it done on tv all the time, so I thought I would give it a try.  That worked perfectly and was SO much more easy than doing them on the stove top.  The bottoms got a little flat where they were sitting, but overall they were quite round.  And none of them fell apart.

The original recipe also called for chicken, but I had turkey on hand so that's what I used.  The only other thing I changed about the meatballs themselves was that the shallot was supposed to be grated onion.  For some reason, I tend to use shallot instead of regular onion in Asian recipes.

I did change a couple of things with the peanut sauce and garnish.  The peanut sauce was supposed to have 3 tbsp of sesame oil and no olive oil, but as I mentioned the other day, I find the flavor of sesame oil to be really strong, and I didn't want it to overpower the sauce, so I scaled it way back.  The sesame seeds were supposed to be chopped peanuts, but we like sesame seeds a lot better and I think they look really cute that way.

Here are the raw meatballs getting ready to hit the oven.  I am surprised how uniform I got them!

 All cooked.  I let them go about 5 minutes longer than I needed to, I think.  But they were still good.  That's the nice thing about coating them in sauce; it covers up pretty much any mistake!

I served these with my Cilantro Noodles.  The pairing of the sweet meatballs and the salty noodles was amazing.  Plated this way, it looks like an Asian version of Spaghetti and Meatballs!

Jim said that I absolutely have to take these to the next party we are invited to.  And if we don't have any parties coming up, he would invent one just so we can eat these again soon!

This is an adaptation of a recipe I saw in Cuisine at Home.  It's the perfect side dish for most any Asian meal.

Cilantro Noodles

3 packages ramen noodles, seasoning packets discarded
2 ½ tsp olive oil
½ tsp sesame oil
1 shallot, minced
2 tbsp reduced-sodium soy sauce
½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Blanch ramen in boiling water for 3 minutes.  Drain thoroughly.

Meanwhile, heat canola oil and sesame oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add shallot and saute until softened, about 2 minutes.

Deglaze skillet with soy sauce, then add noodles, tossing to combine.  Add more soy sauce and/or oil if noodles start to clump together.  Stir in cilantro right before serving.

Makes 4 servings.

Really easy side dish.  You might notice that there doesn't seem to be very much cilantro in my picture.  I have been using it a lot lately (it goes really well with all the citrus dishes I've been making), so I didn't have the whole ½ cup.  Next time I will definitely use the whole amount, as I love love love cilantro.

I made this to go with my Asian Turkey Meatballs with Sweet Peanut Sauce.  The saltiness of the noodles balanced out the sweet of the meatballs perfectly.

17 May 2011

I make roasted chickens about twice a month.  Sam's sells roasting chickens in packs of two, so it just works out well that way.  I roast a chicken one night, then I get all the leftover meat off of the bone, and that is usually enough to save for a whole other meal that calls for cubed cooked chicken.  So I end up getting four meals out of those two chickens.

I don't usually do anything fancy with my roasted chicken, that's why I've never blogged about it before.  I coat it in olive oil and sprinkle it with a seasoning blend I created myself that consists of salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, and paprika.

But yesterday when I went to put the chicken in the oven, I saw that I had some Brussels sprouts that need to be used up.  I thought about roasting them after the chicken was done, but then I remembered that I had saved a recipe I saw in a magazine that involved a roast chicken and Brussels sprouts.  I found it in my binder and decided to do that instead.  I hadn't yet really branched out into roasting vegetables alongside the chicken, so I thought it was a good time to try it.

Here's how I made it.  It's an adaptation of this one from Parents Magazine.

Mustard-Crusted Roast Chicken with Brussels Sprouts

1  4 to 5 lb. whole chicken
¼ cup brown mustard
1 tbsp olive oil
1 lb. Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved

Preheat oven to 400°. Pat the chicken dry inside and out with paper towels. Remove giblet package, if present. Place half a large onion in the cavity.

In a small bowl stir together mustard and oil. Spread all over chicken. Place chicken in a roasting pan or heatproof baking dish.  Roast, uncovered, for 40 minutes. 

Add Brussels sprouts to pan; sprinkle with salt and toss to coat. If chicken is browning too fast, cover loosely with foil. Roast another 40 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer registers 170° in the breast or 180° in the thigh and sprouts are tender, stirring sprouts once more during cooking.

Remove chicken from oven and let stand 10 minutes.

Makes 6 servings.

I changed a few things from the original.  It called for Dijon mustard, but we like brown better, so I used that instead.  It also called for only half a pound of Brussels sprouts, but I had a pound in the fridge and that's how much I usually make anyway.  

The weird thing is that in the magazine, it called for 1 tsp of olive oil, but when I looked it up online, it says 2 tbsp.  That's a big difference!  I used the 1 tsp yesterday, but I thought it could have used more, so next time I will compromise and try 1 tbsp.  

The original recipe said to add the Brussels sprouts after 35 minutes, but I thought they got a little bit on the soggy side, so next time I will wait another 5 minutes.  The larger ones were pretty good, but the little guys got a little bit overdone.  Overall, they turned out really well.  We absolutely love roasted Brussels sprouts, and these did not disappoint.  They had a different flavor than the ones I roast by themselves, but it was good.

The chicken was really good too.  Very juicy and tender.  I wouldn't say that the meat itself tasted like mustard; it just had a very nice flavor.

I would definitely make this again.

16 May 2011

Continuing on with my citrus theme for this summer!  The inspiration for this recipe came from a magazine, but I ended up changing it so much that's not even close to the same recipe anymore.  I marinated turkey tenderloins in a flavorful ginger, honey, and lime marinade then Jim threw them on the grill.  The combination of citrus flavor with smokey grilled flavor just screams "summer" to me!

Ginger Lime Honey Glazed Turkey Tenders

20 oz. fresh turkey tenderloins
½ cup fresh lime juice (2 limes)
¼ cup honey
2 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
½ tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil

Place turkey tenderloins in a large resealable plastic bag.  In a bowl, combine the lime juice, honey, ginger, and salt.  Stir well to combine.  Remove ¼ cup of the marinade; set aside.  Add oil to remaining marinade and stir.  Pour marinade in bag with turkey, close bag, refrigerate, and marinate for 4 hours.

Remove turkey from marinade and grill over medium heat.  Five minutes before they are done, brush tenders with reserved glaze.

Let rest for a few minutes after grilling and slice against the grain.

Makes 4 servings.

You can certainly leave out the ginger; it would still be really good with just the honey and lime, but you know how much I love ginger!  I only marinated this for about an hour and half when I made it the other night, but I thought it could use a longer marinating time because the flavor didn't seep in very far.  You don't want to marinate it so long that the lime juice starts "cooking" the turkey though.

When I say "20 oz. fresh turkey tenderloins", I'm not talking about that pre-marinated turkey log thing.  I'm talking about these Jennie-O turkey tenderloins.  There are usually 3 in a package.  I often have a really hard time finding them where I shop, but I spotted these at Meijer the last time I went and was so excited to use them.  I love turkey, and not just on Thanksgiving.  I don't understand why you can't buy boneless skinless turkey breasts the way you can chicken breasts.  I know that they taste similar, but I can tell a difference.  I also love the Jennie-O turkey breast cutlets.  The Jennie-O stuff is kind of expensive, so I don't buy it very often, but every once in a while you have to get out of your chicken rut!

I served these with my Ginger Garlic Linguine and oven-roasted zucchini.  It made a great meal.

14 May 2011

This is a fun recipe that I tried last night.  It's an adaptation of "Cheeseburger Flatbread Melts" from the blog Kevin & Amanda.  But when we tried them, they tasted more like sloppy joes than cheeseburgers, so I changed the name accordingly!

Sloppy Joe Flatbread Melts

1 lb. lean ground beef
½ cup water
½ tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 pkg dry onion soup mix
½ cup ketchup
2 tbsp mustard
½ tsp garlic powder or 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
2 tbsp canola oil
11 oz. thin crust pizza dough
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Brown and drain ground beef. Add water, vinegar, onion soup mix, ketchup, mustard, and garlic. Stir to combine and simmer over low heat. 

Meanwhile, heat canola oil over medium heat in a large, heavy bottomed skillet. Divide the pizza dough into 8 equal portions. Fry the dough for one minute on each side or until golden brown and bubbly. Remove to a paper towel to drain. Top with beef mixture and shredded cheese.

Makes 4 servings, 2 flatbread melts each.

These are really fun to make and to eat.  We don't ever have sloppy joes at our house because my husband doesn't like Manwich (because it has green peppers in it, and I can't say that I blame him), and I have never been able to come up with my own recipe.  But then when we were eating these last night, Jim said, "These taste like sloppy joes."  And he was right.  Really good sloppy joes.  They really didn't remind me of a cheeseburger at all.

I made a few changes from the recipe Kevin and Amanda posted. I used garlic powder instead of minced garlic, mostly because I was lazy and didn't feel like messing with fresh garlic.  I also changed how the flatbread is cut up.  They cut theirs into 6 pieces, then rolled them out with a rolling pin into a (somewhat) round shape.  I thought it divided better into 8 pieces, and since I don't own a rolling pin, I just left them rectangular.  In the future I will use less vinegar than their recipe, because I thought was a tad on the tangy side.  So I cut that in half in the recipe posted above.  Also, I doubled the meat filling and cheese ingredients.  

I have to admit that I did have some trouble cooking the flatbread correctly.  At first it didn't seem like the pan was hot enough, because they weren't getting any color at all, so I turned it up and then they got a little too much color!  I had never worked with this kind of dough before, so it will take some practice to get it down.  But I would like to use it more in the future; I think it would be good with a wide variety of different toppings.

While I really liked it on the flatbread, I would definitely use this recipe to make regular sloppy joes on buns.  I thought it was much tastier than Manwich and really, just as easy.

I think that salmon and citrus flavors go together beautifully.  I have lots of salmon recipes that incorporate various types of citrus, so I am going to try to space them out over the course of the summer.  This recipe is interesting because it has not only citrus, but also the complex flavor of ginger.  If you've read this blog for any length of time, you probably know about my love of all things ginger.  Can't get enough of the stuff.  I saw a recipe for "Red Snapper with Orange-Ginger Sauce" in the Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book and decided to change it up a little bit.  I used salmon instead of the red snapper and I gave ginger more of a starring role.  It turned out fabulously.

Salmon with Ginger Orange Sauce

4 salmon filets
1 tbsp olive oil
⅓ cup orange juice
2 tbsp reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
¼ tsp toasted sesame oil
1 green onion, sliced

Rinse salmon; pat dry with paper towels.  Season with salt on both sides.  Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Place salmon in pan and cook until brown and cooked through, about 4 minutes per side, depending on thickness.  Remove salmon from pan, set aside, and keep warm.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the orange juice, soy sauce, honey, and ginger.  After removing the salmon from the pan, pour soy sauce mixture in and bring to a boil.  Boil gently for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until sauce has reduced and thickened.  Remove from heat.  Stir in sesame oil.

To serve, place fish on a plate and drizzle with the ginger sauce.  Sprinkle with green onion, if desired.

Makes 4 servings.

The BHG recipe called for poaching the snapper in chicken broth, but I thought a quick pan-sear would be easier.  It also called for a lot less ginger, only ½ tsp.  Half a teaspoon?  Why bother?  I didn't actually measure out my grated ginger, I just cut a big hunk off, peeled it, and grated it right into the other ingredients.  I'm guessing it was about a tablespoon.  This way the ginger is the dominant flavor in the sauce.  I think otherwise it would have been the orange juice.  While the sauce is definitely sweet, it has a salty side too, from the soy sauce.

I also greatly reduced the amount of sesame oil.  It called for a whole teaspoon.  I like a tiny bit of it to add another depth of flavor, but I have ruined things by putting too much in.  It has a really strong flavor, so I thought I would start with ¼ tsp and give it a taste.  It was perfect.  Any more would have definitely made that the dominant flavor instead of a supporting role.

This was a really easy dish to prepare and is great for a summertime dinner.

11 May 2011

This is another one of my meatless main dishes.  I'm getting quite a collection of these!  When I started planning one meatless meal a week, honestly, I thought it would be kind of a pain.  I thought it would be hard to come up with enough good recipes that we weren't constantly eating the same thing, and I thought that my husband would dread the meatless dinner each week.  But I was wrong.  I have found a wide variety of meatless recipes to try, fortunately for me, meatless eating is really popular right now.  And Jim has absolutely loved every meatless dish I have made.  Last night, after devouring this lovely concoction, he simply put his spoon down and looked at me, very seriously, and said, "I love you."  Wow, that's some good food!

I got this recipe from my friend Barbara who got it from the blog Gina's Skinnytaste.  It's so easy to customize to your liking that I doubt any two people would make it the exact same way.  I know Barbara makes it differently than Gina and I made it differently than Barbara.  You can add or subtract veggies as you see fit.  And even though this is the new star of my  meatless main collection, you can add cubed chicken or beef or pork or whatever you like.  That's the beauty of this recipe.  Here's how I made it last night.

Thai Fried Rice

3 cups jasmine rice, cooked
3 eggs, beaten
2 tsp vegetable oil
½ large onion, chopped
2 green onions, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup matchstick carrots
1 cup zucchini, diced
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1 tsp Bangkok Seasoning
¼ cup soy sauce 
2 tsp fish sauce
salt and pepper

Prepare rice ahead of time according to package instructions. It's best if it's made slightly on the dry side.

Heat a large skillet on a medium-high flame.  Add the eggs and salt and cook a minute or two until done. Set aside.

Add the oil to the wok and add the onion, green onion, and garlic. Saute 1 minute, add the carrots and saute for a couple of minutes.  Add the zucchini and cook for a few minutes.  Add the rice, peas, Bangkok Seasoning, soy sauce, and fish sauce.  Stir to mix all the ingredients. Keep stirring a few minutes, then add the egg back to the skillet, breaking it up into pieces with a spatula.  Adjust soy sauce if needed and stir well another 30 seconds. Season with salt and pepper if needed.  Garnish with additional green onion, if desired.

Makes 4 servings.

My version is filled with way more vegetables than Gina's.  Her's just has onion, garlic, green onions, and tomatoes.  I left out the tomatoes and added the carrots, zucchini, and peas.  I think loading up on veggies is a good thing when you are going meatless, and isn't that kind of the point anyway?

You will notice that I used something called "Bangkok Seasoning".  That is a Penzey's spice blend (of course!).  If you don't have that, you can use the Thai chile that Gina used in hers or red pepper flakes.  Just something to give it a little bit of heat (or a lot if you like it that way).  I like the Bangkok, because not only does it provide subtle heat, it has other spices in it too (garlic, ginger, lemongrass, cilantro, etc) to help round out the flavors of the finished dish. 

I didn't use the right kind of rice when I made this last night, but it turned out okay anyway.  I sent my husband to the store for jasmine rice and he came back with that Uncle Ben's stuff that you microwave right in the pouch.  Not being able to control the consistency of the rice before adding it to the dish, it came out a little bit overcooked, and the jasmine flavor didn't come through very well.  Next time I'll make sure I have real jasmine rice on hand when I make this.

Thanks so much for passing this recipe along, Barbara!

Jane at The Heritage Cook whipped this recipe up at a moment's notice when I was orphaned at the Secret Recipe Club's March 2012 reveal.  Click on the button below to check out her post!

Secret Recipe Club

10 May 2011

This is a fun burger that I came up with.  It's similar to my Thai Style Meatloaf, but in burger form and with turkey instead of beef.  I get really tired of burgers by the end of summer, so this is an easy way to still enjoy the simplicity of a grilled burger meal but without feeling like you're eating the same thing all the time.

Asian Turkey Burgers

2 lb. lean ground turkey
2” piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
4 green onions, thinly sliced
¼ cup soy sauce
¼ cup cilantro, finely chopped
6 hamburger buns
Thai Peanut Sauce

In a large bowl, combine turkey, ginger, green onions, soy sauce, and cilantro. Mix thoroughly. Divide the mixture into 6 equal portions and form into patties.

Cook patties on the grill or in the skillet.

Place on buns and slather with Thai Peanut Sauce or any other toppings of your choice.

Makes 6 servings.

The combination of these flavors is so amazing.  So much more flavorful than a regular burger.  And since they're made with turkey, they're better for you.  My three year old gobbled hers up very quickly!

The Thai peanut sauce that I used on these was the one from Pampered Chef.  But you can use any that you like.  

I served these with Bobby Flay's Grilled Sweet Potatoes with Lime and Cilantro, but they didn't turn out well, so I won't be posting that recipe.

09 May 2011

Guacamole is so easy to make, I don't know why anyone would buy it in the store.  Sometimes I have a difficult time making it because I can't find ripe avocados.  Sometimes all I can find are rock hard avocados and those don't work well in guacamole.  But the avocado I used last night to make this was perfect.  I've made guacamole before, but this was the first time I actually took the time to measure out the ingredients and write them down.  I'm glad I did, because it turned out perfectly and now I can make sure it's perfect every time!

Homemade Guacamole

1 ripe avocado
1 tsp fresh lime juice
¼ tsp salt
2 tbsp grated onion
2 tbsp finely chopped cilantro

Mix all ingredients together.  Serve immediately.

Makes 6-8 servings.

I like to grate the onion so that there is a little bit of onion flavor, but no crunchy chunks.  I use my Microplane and it works perfectly.

This is the dish I would have made on Cinco de Mayo had my husband not taken me out that night.  As it was, it made a lovely Mother's Day dinner.  This is an adaptation of a recipe I saw in the recipe book they hand out at the Taste of Home Cooking School I went to last fall.  I love tequila and couldn't wait to try it.  (It didn't seem right to make it in the fall or winter, so I was just waiting for May!)  I used the marinade recipe but made the quesadillas differently than that recipe.  Here's how I made mine.

Tequila Marinated Steak Quesadillas

¼ cup fresh lime juice
1 cup canola oil
⅓ cup tequila
1 tsp seasoned salt
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 tsp dried oregano
1 lb. flank or sirloin steak
8 flour tortillas (7”)
2 cups Monterey Jack cheese
Guacamole, sour cream, salsa, optional.

Combine lime juice, oil, tequila, salt, garlic, and oregano in a gallon-sized resealable plastic bag.  Add steak and close. Shake to distribute the marinade, coating the entire piece of meat.  Refrigerate for at least 8 hours, turning occasionally.

Grill steak to medium.  Let rest for a few minutes to let the juices redistribute.  Slice against the grain into very thin strips.

Preheat skillet with a little bit of canola oil.  Place ¼ cup cheese on one tortilla, top with ¼ of the steak strips, then another ¼ cup of cheese.  Place a second tortilla on top.  Cook in skillet, pressing down on top tortilla to make it stick to the melting cheese.  When brown on bottom, flip over and brown the other side.  Repeat with remaining tortillas, steak, and cheese.  Cut each quesadilla into fourths.

Serve with guacamole, sour cream, salsa, or any other condiment of your choice.

Makes 4 servings.

These are so good!  The tequila marinated steak is AWESOME.  The recipe in the Taste of Home book called for the quesadillas to have refried beans and sour cream and stuff inside, but I thought just a simple steak and cheese quesadilla sounded good.  

I served these with my homemade guacamole and Mexican Corn Cakes.  And they would be really good with a nice cold margarita, of course!

This is the best steak marinade I have ever tried.  I love tequila, so when when I saw this recipe in the recipe book they hand out at the Taste of Home Cooking School, I couldn't wait to try it.  That was in the fall, so I had to wait through the longest winter ever to finally try it in May (I am kind of a stickler about eating certain foods in a certain season).  The recipe was actually for "Tequila Marinated Steak Quesadillas", but after we marinated and cooked the steak, I had a hard time cutting it up to go in to the quesadillas.  I sneaked a little piece to try the steak by itself, and OH MY.  That was some of the best steak I've ever tasted.  I went ahead and made the quesadillas; they were awesome of course.  But we are definitely using this marinade the next time we just want plain steak.

Tequila Marinade for Steak

¼ cup fresh lime juice
1 cup canola oil
⅓ cup tequila
1 tsp seasoned salt
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 tsp dried oregano
1 lb. steak

Combine lime juice, oil, tequila, salt, garlic, and oregano in a gallon-sized resealable plastic bag.  Add steak and close. Shake to distribute the marinade, coating the entire piece of meat.  Refrigerate for at least 8 hours, turning occasionally.

Grill steak to medium.

Makes 2 servings.

Here's the link for the Tequila Marinated Steak Quesadillas. They turned out really well.

This steak is so good that it will be good motivation for me to not use all the tequila to make margaritas!  But a margarita would go really well with it.  Here's the recipe for my favorite margarita.

04 May 2011

This dish may sound odd to you, but it's really tasty. It's perfect for those who love the combination of salty and sweet. I got it from Kraft.

Sweet and Savory Baked Chicken

1¼ cups hot water
1 pkg. (6 oz.) Stove Top Stuffing Mix Reduced Sodium Chicken
6 small chicken breast cutlets
⅔ cup orange juice
¼ cup packed brown sugar
3 tbsp olive oil

Preheat oven to 400ยบ.

Combine water and stuffing mix; let sit until water is absorbed.

Place chicken in a 13x9” baking dish. Mix juice, sugar, and oil until blended; pour over chicken. Top with stuffing.

Bake 35 min. or until chicken is done and stuffing is crispy on top.

Makes 6 servings.

I only made a couple of changes. I reduced the amount of water you put with the stuffing, because some of it got a little bit soggy. The stuff on top was nice and crunchy, though. And I reduced the brown sugar just a tad as well. Next time I might try marinating the chicken for an hour or so to see if that makes a difference. The chicken is pretty tender as it is, though.

Jim absolutely loved this dish. And I love how easy it is to throw together. I am a big fan of chicken dishes that you can throw into the oven and forget about for half an hour.

03 May 2011

This is a recipe I got from Robin Miller's cookbook, Robin Rescues Dinner. I don't watch Robin Miller's cooking shows on tv (not even sure they are on anymore) because she is so skinny it is disturbing. (Seriously, it's widely rumored that she's anorexic.) But I saw her cookbook at the library a while back and decided to flip through it. You know that I love all things chipotle, so the title of this recipe caught my attention immediately. I never would have thought to combine chipotle with honey mustard, but it works. I changed the recipe very slightly. Here's my adaptation.

Chipotle Honey Mustard Chicken

¼ cup honey
½ tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp chipolte adobo sauce
1 tsp brown mustard
½ tsp salt
4 chicken breast cutlets
4 servings cooked rice, optional

In a small bowl, whisk together the honey, oil, adobo sauce, mustard, and salt. Pour into a large resealable plastic bag and add chicken. Seal bag and toss to even coat chicken in marinade. Place in refrigerator and marinate for several hours.

Preheat oven to 400°. Coat a rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan with cooking spray.

Arrange the chicken on the prepared pan and pour marinade over. Roast for 20-25 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and is no longer pink.

Serve over rice, if desired.

Makes 4 servings.

I didn't change any of the ingredients, but the marinating step was my idea. Her recipe didn't call for marinating; you were just supposed to brush the honey mustard mixture over the chicken right before it went into the oven. That's how I tried it, and I found the end result to be a little bit dry and not as flavorful as I was expecting. The glaze ran off of the chicken and was baked onto the baking sheet more than the chicken (thank goodness for foil!). So I think that marinating it would give the glaze more time to flavor the chicken before it bakes.

I served it over rice, but you could serve it with anything you like. I think it would also be good with regular potatoes, sweet potatoes, or even couscous.

02 May 2011

I don't know about you, but whenever I see the word "casserole" in the title of a recipe, I kind of lose interest. "Casserole" brings to mind cream of something soup-covered mushy vegetables mixed with overcooked rice and bland meat. This isn't that kind of casserole. When you put it together, it's actually a layered dish, but when you dish it out, it all combines. It ends up being a delicious jumble of hash brown potatoes, ham, egg, and cheese. I got it from Taste of Home.

Slow Cooker Hash Brown, Ham, and Egg Casserole

32 oz. frozen shredded hash browns, thawed and squeezed dry
3 cups ham, cubed
½ large onion, chopped
1½ cups cheddar cheese, shredded
12 eggs
1 cup milk (2% or whole)
1 tsp salt

Layer a third of the potatoes (about 3 cups), ham, onion, and cheese in a 6 qt. slow cooker coated with cooking spray. Repeat layers twice. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, and salt; pour over top.

Cover and cook on high for 30 minutes. Reduce heat to low; cook for 4½ to 5 hours or until a thermometer reads 160°.

Makes 8 servings.

The original recipe didn't call for thawing and drying the hash browns, but I noticed a large amount of liquid in the finished dish that I figure must have come from the thawing hash browns. It definitely wasn't grease, so I don't know what else it could have been. There was so much of it that I had to use a turkey baster to suck it out before serving. So next time I will definitely thaw the hash browns and make sure they are dry before adding to the crock.

Oh and you can use your favorite type of breakfast meat, not necessarily ham. The original recipe called for 1 lb. of cooked bacon, but I wanted to use up my leftover Easter ham. And while I definitely love bacon, ham is one of my favorite breakfast meats. I don't see any reason why you couldn't use cooked crumbled sausage either.

Oh, and a note about the onions: I have a hard time getting onions to cook all the way through in short cook-time dishes like this. I have a husband who doesn't like onions with any crunch to them, so they have to be completely soft. If I don't think they will get completely soft, I put them in a microwave-safe bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and microwave for a minute or two. This gets them partially soft so that they finish cooking in the slow cooker. That way I still get all the onion flavor, but without the crunch that my husband dislikes. If you're not that picky about onions, you can skip that step.

While this makes a lovely breakfast, it's probably best suited for breakfast-for-dinner or breakfast potluck applications because of the timing. Unless you want to get up at 2 or 3 am to put it all together and turn on the slow cooker. I made this for dinner on Friday and because it makes such a large batch, Jim and I both had it for breakfast Saturday and Sunday mornings, and I finished off the rest of it this morning. So if your jaw drops when you notice that this recipe calls for an entire dozen eggs, just remember that it makes a lot of servings. The original recipe called for using a 5 quart slow cooker, but I barely fit it all in my 6 quart.

Oh, and I don't know if you've tried the slow cooker liners that Reynolds makes. I LOVE those things. My sink is kind of small and I don't have a sprayer, so it is very difficult for me to wash out my slow cooker crock. I discovered these things and have been using them ever since. The only time I don't use them is if I am cooking for a potluck. Anyway, if you haven't tried them yet, this recipe is the perfect time to do so. Eggs and potatoes stick like crazy and I think this would be such a pain to clean up that it would discourage me from making it. So I highly recommend using the liners in this recipe. Otherwise, use lots of Pam!

Sometimes our church does a breakfast theme for evening potlucks during Advent and Lent, so this will be perfect for that.