Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Milk Chocolate Frosting


There are a lot of good recipes out there for homemade chocolate frosting. I've definitely taken the best the web has to offer and modified it to my own recipe. Not only is this good on cake, I'm sure it would be good on cookies and I know it's especially tasty when pretzels are dipped into it.

Milk Chocolate Icing:
2 sticks softened butter
4 tablespoons good cocoa
1 and 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips, melted in the microwave and cooled a bit
4 cups powdered sugar
2-4 tablespoons of milk

Mix the butter and the cocoa until you have cocoa butter. Add 2 cups of powdered sugar and 2 tablespoons of milk. Mix well. Add more sugar and milk. Add melted chocolate chips. Add more sugar or milk until you get the consistency you're looking for because it's frosting....not exact science.

This is enough to frost about 28 cupcakes or a decent 9" cake.

It also looks pretty pipped like little stars on a cake.

Homemade croutons


I love bread. I love croutons. I love olive oil and garlic and balsamic vinegar. It's only natural then that every once in a while I get on a crusty crouton kick and go a little crazy.

Any sort of day old bread (or fresh for that matter, but a little stale is better) will work, but definitely do not use your run of the mill loaf of bread from the grocery store. You need something more airy and rustic, like ciabatta, focaccia or a good loaf of skinny french bread.

Cut the bread into thin strips without squishing it. You'll need a good knife. Place strips on a parchment lined cookie sheet and preheat your oven to about 325 degrees.

While the oven is heating in a small bowl mix olive oil, minced garlic, salt and pepper. Coat each sliced piece of bread, on both sides with the mixture (if you don't have a kitchen brush, you could use a new paintbrush or maybe even just a spoon). Once it's ready to go you can add a little extra salt or even some balsamic vinegar to taste.

Put the bread in the oven for 5 minutes and watch it. After 5 minutes check to see if the bread is getting golden and crusty and then just watch it every additional two minutes or so until it's looking like you want it.

Pull out of the oven and let cool. As the bread cools, it will get even more crusty.

These are great to eat alone with an ice cold diet coke for lunch or you can actually put them on a salad.

Or load them up with some bruschetta and enjoy a nice appetizer.

Meat and Potatoes


In our family, we grew up on starchy staples and meat for every meal. Though I cook very differently than my mother, I still enjoy such a meal every once in a while. Okay, every day.

Not really.

When I was a kid my mom fixed, "cracker meat". It was cube steak heavily breaded in Ritz crackers. It was a crumbly buttery mess of flavor. My version is a bit lighter but just as tasty.

Here's what you'll need:
Cube steak (1 per person)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
bread crumbs, home made or store bought
salt and pepper
olive oil

place the eggs in one shallow bowl and the bread crumbs in another. beat the eggs until the yolks and whites are combined. Add a generous amount of salt and pepper to the bread crumbs. Coat each piece of meat in the egg and then press it into the bread crumbs, coating both sides.

In a frying pan (or an electric skillet) heat about 4 tablespoons of olive oil until it sparks when you sprinkle some water over it. Add the meat to the hot oil and cook each side for 5-8 minutes depending on the heat and how crispy you want the outside.

Serve with green beans, potatoes, salad, or grilled asparagus.

Nuts for Thai Food

I have been making this for years. I love the flavor of these, so yummy. They kind of look nasty, but are really quite good.

1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons olive oil
2 cups diced carrot
1 1/2 cups diced onion
2 cups diced snow peas
One 14-ounce package extra firm tofu, drained completely and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 cup peanut sauce
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Flour tortillas
2 tablespoons soy sauce
Optional: Chow Mein Noodles, Seasame Seeds, peanuts, sliced almonds. Any crunchy thing you want (I love crunchy things in my food)

Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the carrot, onion, snow peas, and 1 tablespoon of the soy sauce and cook until vegetables are tender but still crisp, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer vegetables to a medium bowl.

Wipe the skillet clean with a paper towel and return the skillet to the stove. Add the remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil and heat over medium-high heat. Add the tofu and the remaining 1 tablespoon soy sauce. Cook until tofu is heated through, about 5 minutes. Turn to cook all sides evenly. Add the vegetables to the skillet and gently stir to mix. Gently fold in the peanut sauce and cilantro. Divide the mixture among the tortillas, top with optional crunchy thing. Wrap like a burrito and enjoy.

Mushroom and Black Bean Tortilla Casserole

This recipe courtesy of Martha Stewart Everyday Food Magazine.

Sauteed mushrooms, cooked black beans, and store-bought salsa are layered with tortillas in a baking dish to create this Tex-Mex-inspired casserole, perfect for any weeknight meal. Top with Monterey Jack cheese and bake until melted and bubbling.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Serves 4

2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 pound cremini or button mushrooms, trimmed and quartered
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 1/2 cups reserved cooked black beans from Spicy Black-Bean Soup, or 1 can (15.5 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained
8 tortillas, warmed and halved
2 cups salsa
1 1/4 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese (4 ounces)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring often, until browned, 7 minutes. Add garlic and cayenne; season with salt and pepper. Add black beans and stir to combine. Cook until beans are warmed through, 2 minutes. Remove from heat.

Arrange 5 tortilla halves in a 2-quart baking dish. Top with half the bean mixture and 1/2 cup salsa, then sprinkle with one-third the cheese. Repeat with another layer of tortilla halves, bean mixture, salsa, and cheese. Top with remaining tortilla halves, salsa, and cheese. Cover with foil and bake until center is hot and cheese melts, 10 minutes. Uncover and bake until cheese is bubbling, 5 minutes.

Spring Vegetable Pizzas

This recipe is courtesy of Everyday Food Magazine.

These pizzas would also be delicious with shredded leftover chicken. Or, if you like, top them with thinly sliced prosciutto right after they come out of the oven.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Serves 4

1 jar (12 ounces) marinated artichoke hearts, drained well, reserving marinade, hearts quartered if whole
1 large bunch asparagus (1 pound), trimmed, cut into 2-inch pieces, and halved lengthwise if thick
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1 pound pizza dough, thawed if frozen and divided in half
Coarse salt and ground pepper
7 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated (3 cups)

Preheat oven to 500 degrees, with racks in upper and lower thirds. In a medium bowl, combine artichoke hearts, asparagus, and tomatoes. On a large piece of parchment paper, brush 1 dough half with artichoke-heart marinade and roll out to a 14-inch-long oval. Transfer dough on parchment to a rimmed baking sheet and top with half the vegetables, leaving a 1-inch border. Brush border with marinade and season pizza with salt and pepper. Repeat to make second pizza. Bake pizzas 10 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Sprinkle pizzas with cheese and bake until crust is deep golden and cheese is melted, 3 to 5 minutes.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Zesty Lime Shrimp and Avocado Salad

I got this recipe from SkinnyTaste.com.

I added a bit of Arizona Dreaming, one of my favorite current spices. We put in on everything from popcorn to eggs. It is so good. Kind of limey, chocolatey, spicey and wonderful. If you want to have some let me know, so you don't have to buy any.

We also put this on tortillas which helps it be less healthy. But it was so refreshing and good.

Zesty Lime Shrimp and Avocado Salad
Gina's Weight Watcher Recipes
Servings: 4 • Serving Size: 7/8 cup • Old Points: 4 pt • Points+: 5 pt
Calories: 210.4 • Fat: 9.2 g • Protein: 25.1 g • Carb: 7.8 g • Fiber: 3.6 g • Sugar: 0.6
Sodium without salt: 260.8 mg

1 lb jumbo cooked shrimp, peeled and deveined, chopped*
1 medium tomato, diced
1 hass avocado, diced
1 jalapeno, seeds removed, diced fine
1/4 cup chopped red onion
2 limes, juice of
1 tsp olive oil
1 tbsp chopped cilantro
salt and fresh pepper to taste

In a small bowl combine red onion, lime juice, olive oil, pinch of salt and pepper. Let them marinate at least 5 minutes to mellow the flavor of the onion.

In a large bowl combine chopped shrimp, avocado, tomato, jalapeƱo. Combine all the ingredients together, add cilantro and gently toss. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.

Makes 3 1/2 cups.