Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Cuban Chicken Pizzas

Geoff and I made these last night, and they were really tasty. I liked the little kick that came from using cumin seeds and pepper jack cheese. We'll be having these again later this week. Oh, and we did a half recipe (so only 2 pizzas instead of 4) last night.

from Myrecipes.com (http://tinyurl.com/3syk2q)

Flour tortillas pinch-hit as a crisp crust for this hearty pizza loaded with chicken and vegetables. Toasting the corn in a skillet brings out its natural sweetness and adds a deliciously smoky note. (Note from Becky: I didn't really get a "smoky note" but whatever. It was still good.)

4 (8-inch) fat-free flour tortillas (I don't think ours were fat free)
Cooking spray
1 (11-ounce) can no salt-added whole-kernel corn, drained
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 cups diced roasted chicken breast
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
3/4 cup Monterey Jack cheese with jalapeƱo peppers (we bought slices, then tore it into little pieces)
4 teaspoons chopped fresh cilantro

Preheat oven to 350°.

Place flour tortillas on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes or until edges are light brown. Remove from the oven; stack and press down to flatten. Set aside.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat; coat pan with cooking spray. Add corn to pan, and cook 1 minute or until lightly charred. (Note from Becky: we cooked for probably 3 minutes to get to lightly charred.) Add cumin seeds; cook 5 seconds, stirring constantly. Add chicken, black beans, and garlic; cook 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Remove from heat; stir in lime juice.

Place tortillas on baking sheet. Spoon 3/4 cup bean mixture onto each tortilla; top each with 3 tablespoons of cheese. Bake at 350° for 2 minutes or until the cheese melts. Sprinkle each pizza with 1 teaspoon cilantro. (Oops, we put the cilantro on top, then baked. Oh, well, it was still good.)

Hush puppies

I started with this recipe, but then I tweaked it. I'll put my notes in parenthesis.

1 box Jiffy cornbread mix
1/2 cup grated onion (I did not use quite that much)
5 tablespoons buttermilk or 2 tablespoons skim milk (I used 5 Tbsp. milk)
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 egg, slightly beaten
2 tablespoons sugar (I used 1 Tbsp)
3 tablespoons self-rising flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 slices white bread, crumbled
2 tablespoons grated green bell pepper (I didn't have, so I didn't use)

Mix all ingredients together just until they are wet.
Refrigerate 30 minutes to 5 hours.
To cook, heat oil to about 350-375 degrees.
Dip a small spoon in cold water, then get a spoonful of batter, using the side of the bowl to "break-off" the spoonful of batter from the bowl.
Immediately submerge spoon in the hot oil for a few seconds until the Hush Puppy releases from the spoon. (This only sort of worked for me. I ended up pushing it off with my finger)
Repeat this process with each Hush Puppy, until you have 6 or 7 in the hot oil.
Do not crowd the"puppies", as you do not want to lower the temperature of the hot oil.
Getting the spoon wet between puppies is important, as it helps keep the batter from sticking to the spoon.
If your oil is the correct temperature, the hush puppies should be golden on the outside and cooked on the inside.
When golden on one side, if they automatically turn themselves over, you're cooking like a pro. If they don't give them a little nudge to make them turn over.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Spinach and Sausage Manicotti

from Sunset, October 1999

I made these tonight and when Kevin peeked in on my progress, he said, "Those are stuffed shells."
Oh yeah.

10 oz. mild or hot turkey or pork Italian sausage
16 oz. dried manicotti pasta shells (or 1 box large pasta shells)
1 pkg. (9-10 oz.) thawed frozen chopped spinach, squeezed dry
1 3/4 C. (15 oz.) ricotta cheese
1 1/2 C. grated parmesan cheese
1/2 t. ground nutmeg
salt
4 lg. eggs
1 quart tomato sauce [I felt lucky to be able to pull leftover Kostic family gravy out of the freezer]


1) Discard sausage casings[/wrapper]. In a frying pan over medium-high heat, stir and crumble sausage until lightly browned. 5-10 min. Discard any fat. Let cool 10 minutes.

2) Prepare pasta according to box direction until just barely tender. Drain.

3) Mix together, sausage, spinach, ricotta, parmesan, nutmeg. In bowl, beat eggs with salt and then fold into mixture.

4) Spoon 1 C. tomato sauce into baking dish(es).

5) With a spoon, fill manicotti shells equally with spinach mixture. Arrange in a single layer in sauce, drizzle 1/2 C. water over pasta and then and spoon remaining sauce evenly over manicotti.

6) Bake, covered at 375 until steaming in the center (40-55 min).

Grape Salsa

From Sunset, September 1999

I used red seedless grapes and served it with baked tilapia and japonica rice tonight. It was pretty quick to make and was very flavorful.

Green grapes are particularly attractive and fresh-looking in this mixture. If making up to 4 hours ahead, cover and chill. Serve with grilled fish, chicken, pork, ham or lamb.

1.) Rinse 2 C. of seedless grapes and cut in half or quarters
2.) In a bowl, mix the grapes with 3 T. lime juice, 2 T. thinly sliced green onions, 2 T. chopped fresh cilantro, 1 T. minced fresh ginger, and 1-2 T. minced jalapeno.

That's it. Mix throughly and then spoon over fish.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Caramel-gooey monkey bread

We love monkey bread in our house. I'm not sure why it's called monkey bread, something about the translation from German into English.
In any case, we love it. I usually make a pretty simple monkey bread, but this morning I made this one, which I found here and then, as usual, tweaked a little.


2 tubes (12 ounces each) refrigerated flaky buttermilk biscuits
1 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3/4-1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (or so, I really just tossed some in the bowl)

Cut each biscuit into four pieces; arrange evenly in a 10-in. fluted tube pan coated with cooking spray. Combine the brown sugar, cream and cinnamon; pour over biscuits. Bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool for 5 minutes before inverting onto a serving platter.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Triple Play Peanut Butter Cookies

From: Culinary in the Country

* Culinary says the recipe is adapted from the King Arthur Flour cookbook, which I do not own, but have been told is a great resource.

I made this as a test cookie for our wedding cookie bar. I just recently started eating peanut butter (I know, it's bizarre). Needless to say, I have had very few peanut butter cookies in my life, and usually only by accident because they didn't have the tell-tale fork markings. So, I knew I needed a peanut butter-type cookie, and I went searching on some of my favorite food blogs. Here's what I came up with. Apparently they are "more peanuty" than most typical PB cookies, which made my foodie coworker suggest skipping the peanut butter chips, but I think I will leave them in. She said it made her want a glass of milk, but I don't think that's such a bad thing.

2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
16 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/4 cup peanut butter
2 large eggs
1 1/4 cups chopped dry-roasted salted peanuts
1 1/3 cups peanut butter chips

Preheat oven to 350

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter, sugars and peanut butter. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until combined after each. Add the flour mixture, nuts and chips - stir until combined.

Scoop the mixture using a tablespoon cookie scoop onto parchment lined baking sheets and slightly flatten them. Bake until the centers are set and the edges are golden, about 12 to 14 minutes (12 minutes was recommended by Culinary). Remove and let cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes about 60 cookies. Seems to freeze well.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

mung bean dal with apples, coconut and mint

I am feeding (haha, feeding!) Shannon's and my addiction to dal... this is sweet and creamy and yum. I didn't have any mint or lime juice on hand, and I might go buy some of both to add to the leftovers, but it's pretty delicious even without it.

From Bittman's How To Cook Everything Vegetarian.

1 1/2 c dried mung beans, washed, picked over and soaked if you like
1/2 c shredded coconut (I only had sweetened, so I left out the brown sugar)
2 medium green apples, cored, peeled and chopped
2 T peeled and minced fresh ginger
2 T minced garlic
pinch ground turmeric (optional)
2 c coconut milk, homemade or canned (use 1 can, slightly less than 2 c, with a little water)
1/4 c brown sugar, or to taste
salte and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 c chopped fresh mint leaves
1/2 c sliced scallions (I had to substitute a shallot, but scallions would def. be better)
juice of 1 lime

Combine the beans, coconut, apples, ginger, garlic, turmeric if you're using, coconut milk and brown sugar in a large pot. Add enough water to cover. Bring to a boil over high heat, then turn the heat down to medium-low so the mixture bubbles steadily but not violently. Cook, stirring occasionally and adding some salt as the beans become tender, until the beans are quite soft, 45 to 60 minutes, adding water or coconut milk as needed to keep everything moist. (I only added a little water about five minutes before I stopped cooking.)

When the beans are tender and the liquid is thickened, sprinkle with pepper and stir in the mint, scallions and lime juice. Cook for a minute or two more, then taste, adjust the seasoning, and serve.