Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Crispy Ranch Chicken

Ok, so I made this recipe and it makes me laugh since "Ranch" is part of the title yet I kind of left the ranch part out!

As you will notice this recipe calls for 1 envelope of ranch salad dressing mix. I am not the biggest fan of ranch flavors so instead I just added some salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, and dried Italian seasoning to my cripsy rice cereal / parmesan cheese mix. The result? It may have been "ranchless" but it sure was tasty, and fun to make!

Crispy Ranch Chicken

(from Great American Recipes)

2 cups crispy rice cereal
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 envelope (1 oz.) ranch salad dressing mix
2 egg whites, beaten
8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs (I used chicken breast)

Preheat oven to 350. Spray a large baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Combine rice cereal, Parmesan cheese, and ranch salad dressing mix in a large bowl.

Place beaten egg whites in a medium bowl. Dip each chicken thigh into the egg whites and then in the cereal mixture to coat evenly.

Arrange the coated chicken on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until golden and juices run clear when chicken is pierced with a knife, 20-25 minutes. Serve hot.

Parchment Paper Cooking

Lately I have been fascinated by a few shows I've caught on the Food Network where the FN star is using parchment paper as a cooking method - namely for fish. I saw this on Rachael Ray's show first and then shortly after on a Giada episode. I wanted to try it for myself, but wasn't super keen on either of the flavor palates of the recipes on those two shows.

So I turned to myrecipes.com, one of my favorite sites, and found this great recipe! I made it for dinner guests this weekend. We had our best friends over to celebrate one couple's recent engagemet. I thought the parchment paper idea was kind of fun to see everyone open up their individual packages of fish!

The only change I made to the recipe was to use green beans instead of asparagus (I made asparagus the last time we had a dinner party with these friends, so I wanted to mix it up!), and fresh rosemary instead of tarragon since there was no tarragon at my local market.

I apologize for the lack of a picture, when we have company I seem to becom absent minded when it comes to picture taking!

Steamed Salmon and Asparagus in Parchment
(from MyRecipes.com)

1 1/2 pounds small new potatoes
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, diced
4 salmon fillets (about 6 ounces each)
1 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
4 scallions, trimmed and sliced
4 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon leaves
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 lemons, halved

Preheat oven to 400° F. Place a piece of parchment paper on a 13-by-12-inch baking sheet. Put the potatoes on the sheet and season with 1 teaspoon of the salt and ½ teaspoon of the pepper. Distribute the butter over the potatoes. Roast in top of oven for 45 to 50 minutes or until done. Meanwhile, lay out 4 sheets of parchment (at least 13 by 13 inches) and place 1 fillet on each. Top with the asparagus, scallions, and tarragon. Drizzle with the oil and season with the remaining salt and pepper. Top each fillet with a lemon half, after first squeezing on the juice. Pull the sides of the paper over each fillet, folding several times to seal. Fold and twist the ends to form rectangular parcels. Place them on a sheet pan. Bake on lower rack of over for 20 to 25 minutes while the potatoes finish cooking. Place a salmon parcel on each plate and cut open. Serve with the potatoes.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Creamy Italian Dressing

Last night we went to my friend Melanie's house for a couples night filled with good food, good friends, good fun and the Nintendo Wii! I volunteered to bring a salad to the gathering and for some reason I felt compelled to make my own homemade salad dressing.

After a quick search on MyRecipes.com, I found this recipe for Creamy Italian Dressing - which is one of my favorite salad dressings of all time. This was easy and pretty much all of the ingredients were items I had in my house, except for the heavy cream. I substituted half and half for the heavy cream and it came out fine. I'll defintely be making this again, it seemed to be a hit!

Creamy Italian Dressing
(from MyRecipes.com)

1/3 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
2 teaspoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Pinch pepper
1/3 cup olive oil

In a mayonnaise jar, combine the mayonnaise, vinegar, cream, sugar, oregano, basil, parsley, and pepper; shake well. Transfer to a bowl and, whisking constantly, slowly add the olive oil.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Like little mini-carrot cakes

For Christmas, my Aunt & Uncle gave me Martha Stewart's Cookies cookbook. They had no idea that I've been wanting the book for awhie so it really was the perfect gift. It is chock full of great recipes and the cookies are split out by different types - crispy, chewy, cakey, etc. And every recipe has a picture, you gotta love that!

I made my first cookie out of the book this week - Carrot Cake cookies. The picture of these little sandwich guys was just calling my name! The finshed product was delicious and I could not help but think that they were like eating a little hand held piece of carrot cake, especially since I baked mine to the point of only being soft. Yum! I cannot wait to make more recipes from this book soon!

Carrot Cake Cookies
(from Martha Stewart's Cookies)

1 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 1/2 cups finely grated carrots, (about 3 large carrots)
1 cup raisins
Cream Cheese Frosting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with Silpat baking mats or parchment paper, and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine sugars and butter; beat until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla, and beat on medium speed until well combined.

In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger; stir to combine. Gradually add flour to butter mixture; mix on a low speed until just blended. Mix in oats, carrots, and raisins. Chill dough in refrigerator until firm, at least 1 hour.

Using a 1/2-ounce ice-cream scoop, scoop dough onto prepared baking sheets, leaving 2 inches between cookies. Transfer to oven, and bake until browned and crisped, rotating pan halfway through baking to ensure even color, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Repeat baking process with remaining dough. Once cooled completely, use an offset spatula to spread about 2 teaspoons of cream-cheese filling onto a cookie. Sandwich together with a second cookie. Repeat with remaining cookies.

Cream Cheese Frosting
Makes about 2 cups

8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, room temperature
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Place cream cheese in a medium mixing bowl. Using a rubber spatula, soften cream cheese. Gradually add butter, and continue beating until smooth and well blended. Sift in confectioners' sugar, and continue beating until smooth. Add vanilla, and stir to combine.

Going bananas!

I have been craving banana bread all week. I am not sure why, maybe because I've been the victim of a nasty cold and banana bread is a comfort food to me. Who knows? Either way I wanted to make banana bread, and after scoring some dramatically-reduced-in-price browning bananas from the market, the banana bread fate was sealed. I've made a few different banana breads which I've posted to this blog before (Apple Banana Bread and Marbled-Chocolate Banana Bread) but I just wanted some down home, traditional banana bread.

This is actually a recipe shared by one of the ladies on my local nest board. It's easy and quick and most importantly, delicious! I actually used 4 bananas in my batter, only because my bananas were a bit short in stature, and oh, I stole a few bites from the first three bananas before I put them in the batter. So 4 bananas it was! I omitted the nuts from this recipe since I prefer my banana bread sans nuts, but I'm sure they would be a great addition for those who love banana nut bread.

Sour Cream Banana Bread

1/2 Cup softened butter
1 Cup sugar
2 Cup flour
1/2 Cup sour cream
2 beaten egg
1 Teaspoon vanilla extract
2 Teaspoon baking powder
3 mashed banana
1 Teaspoon baking soda
1 for topping chopped pecans or walnuts

Blend the soft butter and sugar until creamy. Add sour cream, bananas, eggs, vanilla and mix well.

Combine all dry ingredients and add that to wet mixture and mix.

Pour into 9x5 inch loaf pan, sprayed with nonstick spray. Top with walnuts or pecans and bake at 350 for about 55 minutes.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Brown Sugar Glazed Salmon

My husband and I are embarking on a healthier eating for 2009 trek fueled by my desire to lose a few pounds and his cholesterol results coming back a wee bit too high for his doctor's liking.

Fish is one of the recommended foods on his list so the other day I picked up a nice salmon filet that was on sale at the market. I used this recipe from my most recent Taste of Home magazine. The only change I made was to not use butter in the first part of the recipe and just substitute it with olive oil instead (in turn I used less olive oil later in the recipe). Olive oil is on my husband's approved lists of foods so I knew that would be alright. I also used reduced sodium soy sauce in this recipe. All in all this came out quite tasty and I can't wait to make it again!

Brown Sugar Glazed Salmon
(from Taste of Home Magazine)

1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tsp butter (I replaced with olive oil)
1 tsp honey
1 tablespoon olive oil (I reduced this a bit)
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 tablespoon soy sauce (I used reduced sodium)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 salmon filet

In a small saucepan over medium heat, cook and stir brown sugar, butter, and honey until melted. Remove from heat; whisk in the oil, mustard, soy sauce, salt, & pepper. Cool for 5 minutes.

Place salmon in foil-lined baking pan; brush with brown sugar mixture. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until fish flakes easily with fork.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Let's mull it over....

I have always, always wanted to try mulled wine so I decided that the time to try it would be New Year's Eve. I've certainly heard a lot about it but never actually tried it. And for me, anything + wine usually = a good thing! I went on Food Network's site and found this easy Ina Garten recipe and boy was it delicious!!!! I'll definitely be making this again for the next holiday season!

Mulled Wine
(from FoodNetwork.com)

4 cups apple cider
1 (750-ml) bottle red wine, such as Cabernet Sauvignon
1/4 cup honey
2 cinnamon sticks
1 orange, zested and juiced
4 whole cloves
3 star anise
4 oranges, peeled, for garnish

Combine the cider, wine, honey, cinnamon sticks, zest, juice, cloves and star anise in a large saucepan, bring to a boil and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes. Pour into mugs, add an orange peel to each and serve.

A New Year's Eve app

We had just a couple of friends over for New Year's Eve. I made these little guys (sorry no picture) which were so fast and easy. I made these using the variation suggested on Kraft's website to use pepperoni in place of red peppers - delicious!

Savory Parmesan Bites
(from KraftFoods.com)

1 pkg. (8 oz.) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened
1 cup KRAFT Grated Parmesan Cheese, divided
2 cans (8 oz. each) refrigerated crescent dinner rolls
1 cup chopped red peppers
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Heat oven to 350°F. Beat cream cheese and 3/4 cup Parmesan with mixer until well blended.
Separate crescent rolls into 8 rectangles; press perforations together to seal. Spread each with 3 Tbsp. cream cheese mixture. Top with peppers and parsley. Fold 1 long side of each dough rectangle over filling to center; fold again to enclose filling. Cut each into 4 squares. Place, seam-sides down, on baking sheet. Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan.
Bake 13 to 15 min. or until golden brown.
Substitute 1 jar (13-1/4 oz.) sliced mushrooms or 1 pkg. (3 oz.) pepperoni slices for the red peppers and parsley.