Sunday, August 30, 2009

Peanut Butter and Jelly Muffins

The origins of this recipe come from here. As usual, I've tweaked it and changed a bunch of stuff - this time since I knew my kids would devour them, I made them a little healthier.

What you need:

1.5 c. whole what flour
1/2 c. brown sugar
2 tsp dark corn syrup
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 c. smooth peanut butter
2 eggs
3/4 c. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
Either 4 tbsp. softened butter OR 2 heaping tbsp. of Lighter Bake
Choice of Jelly

What you do:

1) Get an unsuspecting helper who likes peanut butter and jelly:


2) Mix dry ingredients and set aside.

3) Beat butter (or lighter bake) and sugar until creamy. Add in corn syrup, egg, peanut butter, vanilla, and milk.


4) Add dry ingredients to wet mixture

5) Spoon into muffin cups.


6) Give some to helper:


7) You can either use a spoon or - being the genius I am - use an injector (in this case my baby's Motrin dispenser) to get the jelly into the muffins.



If no injector device is accessible, spoon only 1/2 the muffin mix in, let sit for a few minutes, then put a plop of jelly, then the other 1/2 of muffin mix on top.

8) Bake at 375 approximately 20 minutes until passes the toothpick test. Makes 12 muffins. All of which will be eaten in one day by your little family of four.


Thursday, August 27, 2009

AndreAnna's It's-All-Fun-And-Games-Till-You-Lose-An-Eye Chili

This is a repost from last year because someone asked for it recently. Even though chili is a cold-weather food, it's always nice to not have to use the oven during the summer.


At one point in life, I was asinine enough to touch my eye after making chili. It was an early Sunday morning years ago before children, where sleeping was, you know, something we did. Mike was sleeping and I got up early to start the chili. I had finished up, and I DID wash my hands. I had an itch and didn't think anything of it, so I itched it. I died. The pain was so much that it clamped my eye shut, and I wear contacts and knew I had to get it out. I ran upstairs screaming like a banshee that I had maced myself, scaring the living crap out of my then-fiancee. He had to kneel on my chest and pry my eye open to peel out my contact lens. I kept yelling something about milk. I remembered milk helped counteract the capsicum in the pepper. I eventually rinsed it out, and put a milk-soaked cloth on it until it calmed down. We laugh at the story now, but man, that really really really sucked.

So learn from me and use gloves when chopping up peppers. Then clean up with the gloves on, washing down the surfaces, making sure all seeds and garbage are thrown away, THEN take them off and still wash your hands well. You can never be too careful.

This is a very chunky type chili, hearty, with lots of fresh ingredients. It does take some prep time, so I wouldn't put it in the easy-peasy category, but it definitely is not difficult.

My local store carries 85/25 "chili chopmeat" specific to making chili - it has a thicker ground, so there are hearty pieces and chunks instead of tiny ground meat. I use one package of this and one package of lean (90% or 93%) to counteract the fattiness of the other. If your store does not have "chili" ground beef and you like the bigger chunks, you can get 85% burgers (about four) and cut them into chunks, sized to your preference. I've done both before and it's worked great each time. You can also use ground turkey meat for this recipe if you prefer.

Also, you will be buying whole peppers but only using 1/4 to 1/2 of each. I recommend chopping them all up, and what you don't use, put in a bowl/bag and freeze for next time so you can save yourself the chopping.

As for the spice, if you want it decently spicy keep the seeds and the ribs (the white edges inside the peppers) for one jalapeño. I find the spice of one whole jalapeño to be the perfect amount. It will bite, but in a good way. Extra spice (crazy fools)--use two. Less spice--remove the ribs and seeds completely and only add in a few seeds, pieces of ribs, or none at all.

See here for pictures/info on all types of peppers.

2 lbs ground beef (split up into your choice or all one kind)
1 24 oz can diced tomatoes (unflavored)
2 cups beef broth
1 small onion, chopped
1/4 c. of the following fresh peppers, chopped:
-long green pepper
-red bell
2 jalapenos, chopped (ribs/seeds added depends on your tastes)
2 tbsp. chopped parsley (can use for garnish later as well)
1 can red beans (optional)
3 tbsp. butter
6 tbsp. flour

1 tbsp. cumin
1 tbsp. chili powder
1 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp. onion pweder
1 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. salt


2 pkgs. Ortega Chili Mix (Note: this is not cheating. It's all the same stuff as above in one package and makes life much easier)

For display/serving:
-small sourdough bread(s)
-cheddar cheese
-sour cream
-scallions/sweet onions

Set crock pot for 8 hours. Put meat in bottom of crock pot first. Break it up. Then add the diced tomatoes, broth, and all the ingredients but the spices. I like to let the veggies meld and soften on their own before adding the spice.

It will look like this:

Cover and let sit. In about an hour, once the meat has had a good chance to cook, stir the pot. Let cook for an additional 3 hours. About that time, it will look like this:

Add in the spices (or the 2 pkgs. of chili mix - my choice most of the time). Let cook for an additional 2 hours. It will look like this:

Make a roux for thickening the chili -- by melting the butter in a saucepan on low and slowly adding the flour until it makes a paste (you may or may not need the whole amount of flour). Add the roux and the kidney beans at this time if you want them (any earlier and they may break apart). Cook for the final hour to thicken. The final chili will look similar to this:

You can hollow out a small sourdough bread loaf to make a bowl. The insides are excellent for dipping. Pour the chili inside and top with shredded cheddar, sour cream, and chopped onions/scallions - all optional and to your liking.


Pistachio Chicken

Thanks again to my college roommate Lisa for this recipe shared from her brother Brian...I remember Brian visited us at Kearney Dorm our freshmen year and thinking how sophisticated he was. Oh, to be young again.

Pistachio Chicken

I received this recipe from my brother who created it himself. Chicken is very moist!! Can serve as many people as needed. South Beach Diet Phase 1 friendly!

What you need:
Grind up a bunch of pistachios (out of their shells).
1 c whole pistachio. per 4 pieces of chicken.
Grind up shredded parmesan cheese - ¾ c shredded per 4 pieces chicken
1 egg – beaten (more chicken requires more egg)
Boneless chicken breasts

What you do:
  1. Spray baking pan with cooking spray
  2. In food processor: grind pistachios, then add parmesan cheese and grind again
  3. Place nut and cheese mixture in a flat pan
  4. Roll chicken in the beaten egg and roll in nut/cheese mixture until coated on both sides
  5. Place in pan and bake at 350 for 30 min

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

My Least Favorite Question: What's for Dinner?

Allow me to let you in on a secret: I salivate over meal plans. I want to make out with them in a dark corner of a high school gym. But I don't do them regularly. When I do, I'm glad I have - but sometimes I just don't. No good reason. No reasonable excuse. And when I don't I get asked this question: What's for Dinner?

I hate that question. I loathe it. The fact that this task rests on my shoulders is both awesome and awful at the same time. Why do I have to decide what's for dinner? And when I ask questions like "What would you like" or "Does anything sound good" or dare I suggest "Where are you picking up from" I get giant blank stares with the standard I dunno response. I've started documenting some of my default dinners when dinner is the last thing I want to be thinking about...I need an arsenal though so I'm going to show you mine - if you show me yours.
Mine: Green Salad with Fresh Vinaigrette, Toast with Cream Cheese and Nova (smoked salmon) and Cucumber Slices and a Fresh Peach with Yogurt on top.

Your turn: What do you make when you have no plan for dinner?

Monday, August 24, 2009

Cilantro Pesto

I realize it's been a while since anyone has posted here and though the reasons involve cute, cherubic diaper-wielding drooling creatures named Sawyer and Lexi (who both turned one in the last month), the reality was Cass and I let this project slip.

But I thought about it often, when I'd create a new recipe or bake one of my signature favorites. How I wish I still had this place to document my recipes, to immerse myself in the culinary world, even if it was in my tiny kitchen. So, we're back. And we're going to have some new feature writers. Some new contests and giveaways. If you have anything you'd like to see, let us know.

It's great to be back. I missed this space.


Now, onto the grub.

The other day, I was inspired to make my Sweet N Spicy Like Shakira Salsa. I went out to my Bucket O' Herbs and was sad to find that my cilantro did not survive the caterpillar invasion of '09. So while I was at the store, I picked some up. Except they didn't have the small amount like I needed. They had a ginormous package. So after I got home and made my salsa, I had oh, about 2 cups of leftover cilantro lying around, just ready to wilt and die.

I put out an SOS on Twitter.

Yes, I use WTF a lot.

Country Girl from If That Ain't Country (who also hosts Feed Me Fridays) responded that I should make pesto and she'd send me the email.

Pesto? From Cilantro? Sounds wrong.

And if it's wrong, I don't want to be right. It's SO good. I was going to put it over barbecued shrimp and pineapple skewers but I got home late from work and my husband had already made some whole wheat angelhair for the kids. It was like fate!

It was quick, easy, and anyone who makes at least one meal a week will have all the ingredients on hand.

Cilantro Pesto
(Original from Pesto, by Lou Seibert Pappas)

What you need:

Cilantro Pesto - All
1.5 cups packed fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 cup packed fresh flat leaf parsley
2 Tbsp. pistachios, almonds or walnuts (optional)
(I actually used Pignoli nuts in this and they were awesome)

2 garlic cloves, smashed
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon or lime juice
3 Tbsp. Extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp. freshly grated Parmesan cheese

What you do:

In a blender or food processor, place the cilantro, parsley, nuts and garlic. Whirl until finely minced. Add the lemon juice, oil and cheese and process until blended.


Transfer to a bowl, cover and chill.

Finished Cilantro Pesto

(If we're being honest, I totally didn't let it chill. I put it right on my pasta and licked the dang plate clean)

Cilantro Pesto with Pasta

Yes, I put more cheese on it. Everything is better with more cheese. I'd put cheese on cheese if I could.

Salmon Alla Delicious

We eat fish a couple times a week in our house and I love a really yummy piece of salmon with salt and pepper and fresh lemon. But that doesn't always cut it. Sometimes you need something extra special to top your salmon. And in those situations this is what I do:

Step One: Salt and Pepper and dry your salmon
Step Two: Mix 2 Tablespoons good dijon mustard, 2 Tablespoons of Apricot or Peach Preserves and 1/4 cup of white wine.
Step Three: Cook it for 3 minutes each side (I use a grill pan or a grill or a saute pan or I stick it in the oven). When you flip for the second side poor your mixture on top and cover.

If you like your salmon cooked through you may need to cook more and if you buy sushi grade and want it a little on the rare side cook less. It's PAINFULLY simple and delicious.