Sunday, March 30, 2008

Blackberry Galette

Would you serve this to your boss? Man I had high hopes for this galette. And when my boss' assistant told me to make 'something with fruit in it' for our boss' birthday on MOnday, I just knew what I was going to make...the blueberry galette that I had seen on one of my frequented blogs. Oooh I was soo ready!! So headed off to Costco because I had seen blueberries at my Costco, but I was running errands yesterday and went to a different Costco and they didn't have them but they did have blackberries...ok...fine...same thing no worries. So I headed home. I woke up early this morning and made the dough (to chill all day) and then I go and make the freakin galette and it just oozes all over the silpat. So before the dough hardens, I scoop it up with a spoon and try to make a 'border' and then this is what you get. I must admit it tastes divine but just the presentation is horrible. I'll make another one and this time I think I'll leave out the dollop butter at the end...I think that was what was making the borders/ends run away from the fruit. Either that or I should have stuck with my original fruit...the blueberry!!! Gaaaaaaaa!!!

Blackberry Galette
Adapted from I Shot The Chef

1 1/4 c all purpose flour
1/4 c stone-ground fine yellow cornmeal
2 tsp granulated sugar
1/4 tsp salt
4 oz (8 tbsp) butter, softenend
1 Tbsp heavy cream
2 to 3 tbsp ice water

3 c fresh blueberries (or other berry) rinsed and dried
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 oz (2 tbsp) butter, chilled
1 Tbsp heavy cream
2 tsp granulated sugar

1. In the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade, combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar and salt. Pulse briefly to blend. Cut the butter into small pieces and add to the flour mixture. Pulse until the butter is cut into very tiny pieces, about 30 seconds. The texture should be sandy with very tiny lumps throughout.

2. With the food processor running, pour the cream and 2 Tbsp of the ice water through the feed tube. Process until the dough begins to hold together. Turn off the food processor, remove the top, and feel the dough. If it holds together, it is done. If it is still crumbly, add the remaining tablespoon of ice water and process briefly, then check again.

3. Turn the pastry dough onto a large piece of plastic wrap. Shape into a flat disk and wrap tightly in a double layer of plastic wrap. Chill in the refrigerator until firm before using, about 2 hours. When ready to bake, remove the dough from the refrigerator and let sit for 11-15 minutes to become pliable.

4. Place the berries and 2 tbsp granulated sugar in a mixing bowl and toss together to distribute evenly. Taste the fruit to see if it needs any more sugar.

5. Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 375 degrees F. On a smooth flat surface, roll out the pastry dough between sheets of lightly floured waxed or parchment paper to a large circle, 11 to 12 inches in diameter. Carefully peel the paper off the top of the dough. Brush excess flour off the dough, then loosely roll the pastry dough around the rolling pin without the bottom piece of paper. Place a parchment lined baking sheet directly beneath the rolling pin and carefully unroll the pastry dough onto the baking sheet.

6. Mound the sliced berries in the center of the dough circle, leaving a 2 1/2 to 3 inch border all around. Cut the remaining butter into small pieces and distribute evenly over the berries.

7. Fold the border up so that it partially covers the berries. It will naturally form pleats as it is folded. Brush the dough with the cream, being careful that it doens’t run down the sides and under the galette. If it does, wipe it up because it can cause the bottom of the galette to burn. Gently lift up the folds of the dough and brush under those areas with cream, then replace the folds. Evenly sprinkle the sugar over the dough border.

8. Bake the galette for 30 to 35 minutes, until light golden. Remove the pan from the oven and transfer to a rack to cool. Cut the galette into pie shaped wedges to serve.

UPDATE! So I remade the recipe and here is the galette that I took to the office --- WAAAAY better that my first attempt!! I actually made sure that the dough laid over the fruit much more than the first time and I lessened the butter and OMG and its a keeper!! It was really good! Crust was light and fruit was not overwhelmed with sugar, very natural tasting. Boss was sooo impressed, he went home and told the wife and now she wants the recipe!! SCORE!!! Does that mean I get finally cash in a comp day? LOL

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Coconut Toffee Almond Crunch Cookies

Boy that's a mouthful (the cookie name)!! I saw these while doing my weekly surfing of frequented blogs and made them. Verdict? Very good, a combination of sweet, salty & crunchy all in one bite. Coconut Toffee Almond Crunch Cookies
Adapted from Foodaphilia

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 - 10oz bag toffee candy bits
1 cup oats, old fashioned
1 1/2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
1 1/3 cups sliced almonds

In a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the vanilla extract and eggs and mix until creamy. In a separate bowl, mix flour, salt, and baking soda. Add these dry ingredients to the butter and sugar mixture. Mix in the toffee bits, oats, coconut and almonds together into the cookie dough. Add the toffee, oats, coconut, almond mixture to the dough and mix by hand. The dough is very stiff, but you want to mix it well so the cookies stay together.

Drop about 2 (heaping) tablespoons of dough about 2 inches apart on a parchment lined cookie sheets. Because of the sticky toffee involved in this cookie, you won't want to skip lining your cookies sheets with silicon mats or parchment paper. Bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees. Cool on wire racks.

Friday, March 28, 2008

iPod Touch Giveaway

CALM DOWN!! *I'm* not giving ANYTHING away people (except some recipes...LOL)!!! No, the seat of my Pants! is giving away an iPod Touch. No strings attached. Yep you read that right!!! FREE IPOD TOUCH!! Seriously! Just spread the word about his giveaway and then just leave him a comment and tell him that you posted about his giveaway/site on your blog and you're in-like-flynn!!!

Click here for the giveaway details…

Monday, March 24, 2008

Pasta Shell Stuffing

I have made these a couple times, and each time I wonder why I don't make them more often. Its like a big ravioli meal in a shell....YUM-O! I used a combination of the back of the pasta shell box and Paula Deen's recipe to make the below recipe which turned out FABU!

Pasta Shell Stuffing
Adpated from Paula Deen

1 package frozen, chopped spinach
1 lb ground turkey
4-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1 large onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1 jumbo egg
1 (1-pound) package jumbo pasta shells
1 jar (26-32oz) spaghetti sauce

Preheat oven to 350*F.

Cook pasta shells in boiling, salted water according to package directions. Drain and cool to the touch.

While pasta is cooking, place frozen spinach in a strainer and run under hot water until thawed. Squeeze all of the water out and place in a large bowl. In a large saute pan, cook the ground turkey until browned. Drain meat and place in the same bowl with the spinach. Stir in the cream cheese until blended with the meat and spinach. Saute the chopped onions in the 1 Tbsp of olive oil until transparent. Transfer onions to the bowl with the other ingredients and stir to combine. Add grated cheese, nutmeg, salt, and pepper, to taste, and combine. Let mixture cool and then add the eggs. The filling can be made up to 1 day in advance and refrigerated until ready to use.

Stuff the shells with the meat mixture. Pour 1 cup of sauce into 13x9 inch baking dish. Place shells in baking pan and cover with tomato sauce. Cover with foil and bake for approximately 30 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Strawberry Shortcake

I didn't have enough self control to wait to take a picture of the 'final product' so I recreated it for you! Aren't I just the nicest person ever? :)

Strawberry shortcake consists of sliced strawberries that have been smothered with whipped cream served over a white cake or biscuit. I'm from the school that insists that strawberry shortcake is made with a cake, not a biscuit.

Building A Strawberry Shortcake

1 Pound Cake Recipe
Strawberry Sauce (see below)
Whipped Cream (I cheated and used Cool Whip!)

To serve, break up one muffin per person into big pieces into a bowl. Ladle strawberries over the cake. Add a dollop of whipped cream.

Bake cake according to recipe. Let cool.

Strawberry Sauce:
4 cups strawberries, hulled and sliced
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1 Tbsp cornstarch

In a small pot over medium heat, combine the strawberries, sugar, water, lemon zest, lemon juice and cornstarch. Bring to a simmer and whisk gently until mixture thickens slightly.

1-2-3-4 Cake

My mom gave me this recipe years ago I think even before my love of the kitchen began. I tucked it again in my recipe book (which consisted of a spiral stencil-type notebook...remember those?) and probably made it once. I have to admit most times I just go and buy Sara Lee Pound Cake or even Costco when pound cake is needed but today was special. My folks are coming over for Easter dinner (under the code request of "daddy...mow my lawn please ooh and I'll feed you dinner") FINE I'll admit me, I'm a daddy's girl...but come on, if you saw my lawn you wouldn't buy a lawnmover just for that either!!!!!!! LOL I digress...
So this pound cake is really easy. At first I didn't get why it was called 1-2-3-4 Cake instead of Pound Cake like all other recipes. But then I got the ingredients lined up and then I saw it...DUH! This is the classic pound cake recipe. I made 6 jumbo muffins and one regular size loaf out of the one recipe! Score!! I'm using the muffins to make strawberry shortcake!! I hope I control myself enough to get a picture of the 'final product' when I'm serving it for dessert tonight!!

1-2-3-4 Cake
Adapted from Mom

1 cup butter
2 cup sugar
3 cup flour
4 eggs
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup + 2 Tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla

Cream butter and sugar. Blend in eggs, one at a time. Add vanilla and milk. Add dry ingredients. Mix thoroughly. Bake at 350*F for 1 hour.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Fudge Bon-Bon Brownies

I had my eye on this recipe for some time now and decided that last night was the time to try 'em out. Boy was I not disappointed! They are a chocolate lover's treat. A nice rich bite-size brownie that tucks a Hershey kiss inside topped with a ganache. Wow! Talk about a burst of chocolate heaven! And they're not really that hard to make. Don't let the instructions fool you!! I was done with them from start to finish in about 20 minutes (prep time)
Fudge Bon-Bon Brownies (aka Inside Out Brownies)
Adapted from Cookie Madness

2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup butter
1 (14-oz) can sweetened condensed milk
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup finely chopped nuts (optional)
1 tsp vanilla
36 milk chocolate candy kisses, unwrapped

2 ounces white chocolate chips or semisweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 350*F.

In medium saucepan, combine chocolate chips and butter; cook and stir over very low heat until chips are melted and smooth. (Mixture will be stiff) Add sweetened condensed milk and vanilla; mix well. In medium bowl, combine flour, nuts and chocolate mixture; mix well. Shape 1 tablespoon dough around each candy kiss, covering completely. Shape into a ball and place 1-inch apart on ungreased baking sheets.

Bake for 6 to 8 minutes. DO NOT OVERBAKE. Cookies will be soft and appear shiny but will become firm as they cool. Transfer to wire racks to cool.

For topping:
In small saucepan, combine white chocolate and oil; cook and stir over low heat until melted and smooth. Drizzle over cookies. Store in tightly covered container.

Makes about 3 dozen.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Pecan Pie Cupcakes

I had to do a double-take look when I first saw these because I thought this blogger had left out some ingredients on this recipe. But sure enough, she was right, not only are they super easy but they are freakin good! Tastes a lot like pecan pie, but with a cupcake like consistency. They have a slightly crunchy outside as well, and it really makes them delicious. I'm not a fan of regular pecan pie (too sweet for me) so just getting a bite-size version is perfect! I didn't even break out the KitchenAid beause I mixed everything in a medium easy! I'm glad that Jennifer reminded us that there is no leavening in the batter, so they won’t rise. If your muffin pans are filled three-quarters full, that’s pretty much what size cupcake you’ll get in the end.

Pecan Pie Cupcakes
Adapted from RecipeZaar
33 min 15 min prep 24 miniature cupcakes

1 cup pecans, finely chopped
1/2 cup flour
1 cup packed brown sugar
2/3 cup butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla (optional)
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350*F.

Combine all ingredients and mix well. Spray a miniature muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray. Fill each 3/4 full. Bake in preheated oven for approx. 18 minutes.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Baklava Bars

This is my absolute favorite dessert...hands down. I'm actually a little worried about posting it (but I do hate those type of cooks that give you a recipe but leave an ingredient out....GRRRRR). That's how much it is my signature dessert. But I feel a little guilty about doing that seeing that I got it off someone else's blog!!!! Thank you Cookie Madness!!

And everytime I try to take a picture of these bars, my BF grabs all of them before I can take a pic so for right now, you'll just have to trust me that they are really REALLY good looking bars! Take a look at these, courtesy of Betty Crocker

Photo Courtesy of Betty Crocker

This Betty Crocker Prize-Winning Recipe combines a sugar cookie base and baklava-style topping. Instead of messing with phyllo dough, the recipe creater chose to break up those little frozen mini phyllo shells. Talk about a brilliant idea! Now, I must admit that this recipe is on the prizey side but SOOOOO worth the little extra slurge! Oh and another thing, I found (& bought) those frozen phyllo shells at Raley's but then went to FoodMaxx/Food4Less (or whatever they're calling themselves these days...) for something else and found them there a little cheaper...who knew? Ohh and I did modify the recipe just a bit. My BF doesn't like anything lemon so I left the lemon peel out of the cookie base, also I added the entire box of crushed phyllo shells just cuz and it makes it more 'baklava-ish' in my opinion!

Baklava Bars
Adapted from Betty Crocker

Cookie Base
1 pouch (1 lb 1.5 oz) Betty Crocker® sugar cookie mix
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 egg

1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt
1 pkg (2.1-oz) frozen mini fillo shells

1/3 cup honey
2 Tbsp butter or margarine, softened
1 Tbsp packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla

5 tablespoons honey

Heat oven to 350°F. Spray bottom only of 13x9-inch pan with cooking spray.

In large bowl, stir cookie base ingredients until soft dough forms. Press dough in bottom of pan. Bake 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in medium bowl, stir walnuts, granulated sugar, 1/4 cup butter, 1 teaspoon cinnamon and the salt with fork until mixture is well mixed and crumbly.

Sprinkle nut mixture evenly over partially baked base. With hands, crumble frozen fillo shells evenly over nut mixture. Bake 18 to 20 minutes longer or until golden brown.

Meanwhile, in small microwavable bowl, microwave 1/3 cup honey, 2 tablespoons butter, the brown sugar, lemon juice and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon uncovered on High 1 minute or until bubbly. Stir in vanilla.

Drizzle honey mixture evenly over fillo. Cool completely, about 2 hours.

For bars, cut into 6 rows by 4 rows. Before serving, drizzle 1/2 tsp honey over each bar. Store covered at room temperature.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Fiesta Fudge Cookies

I made these cookies some time ago (pre-blog) and they were a big hit especially at BF's job...they asked for the recipe! I was flattered. I made the cookie a bit bigger this time around but next time I'll go back to making them 1inch balls. I also didn't get as many cookies as the recipe claims it makes (60 cookies), I made about half that many but all in all a very nice fudgy, chewy texture and deep chocolate flavor! A keeper!!

Fiesta Fudge Cookies
Adaped from Betty Crocker

Prep Time:1 hr
Start to Finish:1 hr
Makes:5 dozen cookies

1/3 cup butter
6 oz unsweetened chocolate
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
1 pouch (1 lb 1.5 oz) Betty Crocker® sugar cookie mix
1 tsp cinnamon
60 white and chocolate-striped candy drops or pieces, unwrapped

Heat oven to 350*F. In large microwavable bowl, microwave butter and chocolate on High 1 minute. Stir; microwave on High 1 minute longer or until butter is melted and chocolate can be stirred smooth.

Stir condensed milk into chocolate mixture. Stir in cookie mix and cinnamon until well blended.

Using 1 level tablespoonful of dough for each cookie, shape into 60 balls. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake 6 to 7 minutes or until edges lose their shiny look (DO NOT OVERBACK!!!). Immediately press 1 candy into center of each cookie. Cool cookies on cookie sheet 5 minutes; remove from cookie sheets. To get candy to spread slightly on top of cookie, tap edge of each cookie lightly.

Cool completely. Store covered at room temperature.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Lucky Charms - Mint Oreo Truffles

Happy St Patricks Day! For some reason I got really into this holiday (have no idea...perhaps another excuse to make these darn rich truffles! HA!). I spent all day Saturday looking for those darn shamrock sprinkles but I think because I was soo late in getting into the spirit of the holiday, they were all gone. So I had to substitute and pipe some wording...good thing "Irish" is only a few letters otherwise I'd have to come up with Plan C!!!! Anyways, these truffles speak for themselves and are darn good!! SO G-O-O-D!!!! Did I mention they're darn good?!!!

They're also easy to make, but because this version calls for using the mint Oreos in Double Stuffed, the recipe changed the ratios a little from the regular Oreo Truffle recipe. Still DARN GOOD!!!

These are made for my Irish boss (& the rest of the work clan)! He'd better be at work...he's one of those that takes all holidays near & dear to him off (birthday, etc). I've also joined Sugar High Fridays and their theme this month is right up my alley - sweet gifts. So David, thank Sugar High Fridays for your gift!!! HA!

Mint Oreo Truffles
Adapted from Bakerella

1 pkg. Double Stuf Oreos - Cool Mint Flavor - (1 lb. , 1 oz. pkg.)
• use 22 cookies with cream centers included
• use 10 cookies with cream centers discarded
1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese, room temperature
1 pkg vanilla bark

Finely crush the cookies in a food processor. Stir in softened cream cheese. Mix well. Roll the mixture into 1" balls and place on wax paper covered cookie sheet. Place covered in freezer or refrigerator for a few minutes to help retain shape when dipping in melted chocolate.

Melt chocolate as directed on the package and then dip balls into chocolate, tap off extra and set aside on wax paper covered cookie sheet to dry.

Refrigerate and enjoy!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Eggplant Manicotti

I love eggplant parmesean but quite frankly don't like the process of frying up the eggplant etc. I also don't like the grease trap of frying!! So when I saw this recipe, I had it in my pile of 'will make soon' for awhile thinking that it was kinda the same process. BOY was I wrong (thank goodness). While the recipe calls for oil, I used it on the first couple of sliced eggplant but then I found that I didn't need the olive oil after that and they turned out just limp enough which is great. I love these rolls and they make a nice presentation also. I served them with garlic bread and a salad. YUM-O!

Eggplant Manicotti
Adapted from Recipes Secrets

2 medium sized eggplants
4 Tbsp. olive oil more if needed
1 cup grated Mozzarella cheese
1/3 cup ricotta
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 large egg well beaten
1 Tbsp. minced parsley
1 Tbsp. chopped prosciutto
1 tsp. dried basil, crushed
salt and pepper to taste
1 (16-oz.) can spaghetti sauce (I used one that had garlic & herbs in it)

Preheat the oven to 350*F.

Peel eggplants cut in half and slice into thin long slices about 1/8 in. thick. In a heavy skillet sauté each slice and cooking just long enough for the eggplant to be limp enough to roil. Cool slices on paper towels. Combine remaining ingredients except spaghetti sauce. Spread each eggplant slice with a thin layer of cheese mixture. Roll each slice and place in a large shallow casserole (I used 9x13 casserole), top with sauce. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until bubbly.

Yield 8 to 10 servings.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Greek Meatballs with Tzatziki Sauce

You know how us bloggers can get OCD on a particular type of food? Well, I've gone mad about meatballs!! And boy did I hit the jackpot with these!! OMG! These are really really good! I was kinda hesitant at first about them because they had no breadcrumbs to hold them together but they are SOO flavorful and moist, you forget that there is no bread!! YUM-O! After I had made them I knew they needed some sort of 'sauce' to go with them so what better accompaniment to go with them than Tzatziki Sauce! Double YUM-O. And then I went back and read that these are on the South Beach Diet I almost couldn't believe it! Seriously you've gotta try these!!!

Mini Greek Meatballs
Adapted from Kalyn's Kitchen

Makes about 24 small meatballs

1 pound ground turkey
1/2 small onion, minced
1/2 cup very finely crumbled feta cheese
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large egg
1 T extra virgin olive oil, plus more for baking dish
1 T dried Greek oregano
4 tsp. red wine vinegar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
1 tsp. Greek seasoning

Preheat oven to 400*F. Grate the onion, then drain if it seems like there is a lot of liquid. Combine all ingredients in a bowl, then use your hands to mix ingredients.

Lightly oil a 9 X 13 baking dish. Shape meat into 1 tablespoon size meatballs and place on baking sheet. Bake 20 minutes, after which time you will see some liquid oozing out. Turn meatballs and bake 10 more minutes. Turn again, and bakd 5-10 more minutes, until meatballs are well-browned and cooked through.

Meatballs are delicious served with Tzatziki Sauce.

Tzatziki Sauce

Tzatziki is one of the classic sauces in Greek cuisine, and there are as many versions out there---most of them very good. If you've had a Gyro (pronounced yeero), Tzatziki is the type of white sauce that's often served with the Gyro. SOOO GOOD!

You can cut the recipe in half, but it's so good, you probably shouldn't cuz you'll kick yourself when you're scraping the bottom of the bowl wanting more.

Tzatziki (Greek Yogurt and Cucumber Sauce)
Adapted from Kalyn's Kitchen

Makes about 3 1/2 cups
3 cups Greek Yogurt (or regular plain yogurt, strained as described below*)
3 Tbsp fresh lemon (juice of one lemon)
1 garlic clove, chopped
2 medium cucumbers, seeded and diced
about 1 Tbsp kosher salt for salting cucumbers
1 T finely chopped fresh dill (can substitute mint leaves for a slightly different version)
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

If you don't have Greek yogurt, strain plain yogurt as described below.
Peel cucumbers, then cut in half lengthwise and take a small spoon and scrape out seeds. Discard seeds. (If you use the small seedless or European cucumbers with few seeds, you can skip this step.) Dice cucumbers, then put in a colander, sprinkle on 1 T salt, and let stand for 30 minutes to draw out water. Drain well and wipe dry with paper towel.

In food processor with steel blade, add cucumbers, garlic, lemon juice, dill, and a few grinds of black pepper. Process until well blended, then stir this mixture into the yogurt. Taste before adding any extra salt, then salt if needed. Place in refrigerator for at least two hours before serving so flavors can blend. (This resting time is very important.) This will keep for a few days or more in the refrigerator, but you will need to drain off any water and stir each time you use it.

*If you can't find Greek yogurt, a good substitute for something similar is straining regular plain yogurt for several hours to remove the liquid and thicken the yogurt. You can also use two coffee filters inside a colander placed inside a bowl to catch the liquid. Let the yogurt drain on the counter for 2 hours, or until it reaches the thickness you want.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Chicken Breasts with Mediterranean Stuffing

This weekend was action packed. My birthday was Thursday, I picked my aunt from the airport that evening, went home, got up the next morning, drove to Fresno (yes of COURSE we stopped at Gilroy outlets...duh!!!), did some last minute party shopping, went to bed, got up and prepped for the party, attended the party, and literally pooped out that evening. up the next day (lost the hour for daylight savings!) and headed back home from Fresno so I could pick up my baby from my friend's house (yes of COURSE I stopped at Gilroy outlets...again...duh!!!).

I had been meaning to make this for some time when I first saw it but just hadn't had the time. It really was very simple once I got all the ingredients! The only thing I changed was I closed up the chicken with toothpicks and it seemed to work perfect! Dinner was yummy tonight and a perfect finish to a very busy weekend!

Chicken Breasts with Mediterranean Stuffing
Adapted from Cara's Cravings

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic clove, chopped
5 ounces baby spinach, or regular spinach, stemmed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 4 medium)
4 ounces soft goat cheese or mascarpone cheese
1/4 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes, packed in oil
2 tablespoons black olive tapenade, available in specialty food stores
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon unsalted butter
1/2 cup dry white wine

In a medium microwavable bowl, add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, garlic and the spinach and season with salt and pepper. Cook on high for 5 minutes or until the spinach has wilted completely and excess liquid has evaporated. Remove the spinach to a small plate and set aside to cool slightly.

Using a small, sharp knife, cut one chicken breast almost in half horizontally so it opens like a book - the breast meat should still be held together on one long side. Repeat with the remaining chicken pieces. Season the outside of each breast with salt and pepper and open the chicken breasts up on the cutting board.In a small bowl, mix the goat cheese and sun-dried tomatoes until well blended. Using your hands, squeeze the excess moisture out of the sauteed spinach. Chop it and spread a quarter of it on one half of each chicken breast. Spread equal amounts of the cheese mixture over the spinach. Then, using a small spoon, spread some of the tapenade on the empty side of each chicken breast. Close the tapenade side of the chicken breast over the cheese, and press gently to adhere.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the remaining olive oil and about 1 teaspoon of butter. When the butter has melted, gently place each chicken breast in the pan. Cook for about 6 to 8 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of the breast, or until chicken is golden and cooked through and the cheese has melted. (Lift up the pocket flap to check to see if the chicken is thoroughly cooked; there should be no signs of pinkness.)

Remove the chicken to a serving plate and cover loosely with foil to keep warm.Raise the heat to high. Add the wine to the skillet. Let the wine cook off for 2 to 3 minutes, scraping the browned bits off the bottom of the pan with a spatula or a wooden spoon. Add the remaining tablespoon butter to the pan, stir until the butter melts, and then pour the sauce over chicken.

Serve the chicken whole or sliced.

Thursday, March 6, 2008


So I've been craving granola know...the homemade kind. But of course having no time make any I go to my friend TJ's and buy their Maple & Pecan Granola -- YUM-O. But I still miss that good ol' fashioned get your hands dirty homemade granola. I remember when I was growing up my mom used to make it in the kitchen sink then transfer it to a huge jellyroll pan and turn it every so often in the oven. I remember that was my watch the clock and then flip the granola!! I LOVED IT!

So a couple days ago I'm in a meeting with my boss and we get on the subject of breakfast, etc, etc and he says...I have a really good recipe for granola...I say BRING IT ON and so he begins to dictate the recipe. I scrambling to write it down because of course I never took short-hand and god forbid that I ask him to repeat it. So I write down what I can and say thanks. Then I go email my caterer aunt and ask (aka BEG) her for her granola recipe and then compare the two. The recipe here is a combination of both. And all I can say is...I have a winner!! The taste brought be back to the days of my mom's kitchen sink granola! YUM!

Adapted from My Boss & My Aunt Hope

1 large box old fashioned oats (42oz)
1 cup roasted Wheat Germ
1 cup Honey
1 cup oil
1 cup pecans, chopped
1/2 cup macademia nuts, chopped
2 cups coconut
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
2 Tbsp vanilla
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1 3/4 cup orange juice
1 cup dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, dried blueberries, etc)

In a large bowl, mix oatmeal, nuts, coconut, wheat germ, sunflower seeds. Mix well. Measure oil into the measuring cup and swirl it around befor epouring into bowl. Then measure out the honey in the same, unwashed cup. The oil will help the honey exit the cup. Toss everything together until evenly coated. Add vanilla and orange juice. Mix well.

Pour out into a large jellyroll pan. Bake @ 300*F for 1-1/2hrs. Stir every 20 minutes or so. Let it get golden brown. Let stand for 40 minutes, break it up with a fork then add the dried fruit.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Food Blog Search

I just stumbled upon this really cool search feature from another fellow blogger (Simply Recipes) who recently unveiled Food Blog Search! Its a really cool search engine that searches over 1800 food blogs for content utilizing Google technology. Started in October 2006, Food Blog Search now searches over a thousand hand-selected, high quality food blogs. Add the banners to your site as well (see my sidebar for an example). Check it out!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Chocolate And Peanut Butter Filled Peanut Butter Blondies

I have made these blondies for my folks several times in the past. I even made a batch for them this weekend but then mom called early this morning and indicated that they weren't coming for their usual Sunday dinner. So as usual, lucky for my co-workers, they get a nice little Monday treat!

These blondies are really good. I like how this recipe makes a small batch. You can definitely double the recipe and then bake them in a 9x13 pan for about 7 more minutes than the 'regular' batch size. The original recipe called for creamy peanut butter but I found that I liked the crunchy version better for this recipe.
Chocolate And Peanut Butter Filled Peanut Butter Blondies
Adapted from The Savory Notebook

3/4 cup crunchy peanut butter
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter or margaine, softened
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
2 Tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
8-oz. pkg REESE'S Milk Chocolate Baking Pieces Filled with Peanut Butter Creme (or substitute 3/4 cup chocolate chips & 1/2 peanut butter chips)

Heat oven to 350*F.

Grease 8- or 9-inch baking pan.

Beat peanut butter, butter, and sugars in a large bowl until well blended. Add egg, milk and vanilla; beat well. Stir together flour, baking soda and salt; add to peanut butter mixture, beating until well blended. Mix in chocolate chips. Spread batter in prepared pan.

Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Cut into bars.

About 16 bars.

Swedish Meatballs

So my carpooler asked me a few weeks back to make swedish meatballs. Ok, but I've never made meatballs before and definitely not SWEDISH...that's what IKEA's for! HA! So I (accepted the challenge and) searched for a recipe and came up with this one. Verdict? Surprisingly really good. For a first-timer, I'd give this recipe 4 forks (epicurious) if I were rating it. The meatballs were very moist and flavorful and the sauce was just right...very swedish with the dill and all too. I think making it with Rye Bread was key (with the caraway seeds as extra seasoning). It was really good. I accompanied them with (buttered) egg noodles and a vegetable (prepared after the pic was taken...really!) This is definitely going into my 'make often' recipe pile.

Swedish Meatballs
Adapted from Eupicurious

For meatballs:
4 slices Rye bread (or substitute canned breadcrumbs)
1 medium onion, grated
1 large egg
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 tsp ground allspice
2 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp dried parsley
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 1/2 pounds lean ground turkey
1/4 pound Jimmy Dean Sausage
1 Tbsp vegetable oil

For sauce:
1 small onion, grated
1 garlic clove, minced
2 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch
3 cups beef broth (24 fluid ounces)
3 Tbsp medium-dry Sherry
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1/2 cup sour cream
2 Tbsp chopped fresh dill leaves (or 1 1/2 tsp dried dill leaves)

Garnish:chopped fresh dill leaves
Accompaniment:1/2 cup lingonberry preserves or cranberry sauce

Make meatballs:
Into a mini food processor, tear 2 bread slices and grind into fine crumbs. Transfer crumbs to a large bowl. Make more bread crumbs in same manner and transfer to bowl. Grate enough onion to measure 3/4 cup and add to bread crumbs. In a small bowl whisk together egg, and add spices and egg to bread crumb mixture. Add turkey and sausage and with your hands mix mixture until just combined (do not overmix).

Form turkey mixture into balls (about 40) and arrange on a tray. Meatballs may be prepared up to this point 1 day ahead and chilled, covered.

Preheat oven to 375°F.

In a 12-inch non-stick skillet heat oil over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking and brown meatballs in 2 batches, turning them occasionally, about 4 minutes for each batch. With a slotted spoon transfer meatballs as browned to a shallow baking pan (9x13) and reserve any drippings in skillet. Bake meatballs, tightly covered with foil, in middle of oven until just cooked through, about 25 minutes.

While meatballs are baking, grate enough onion to measure 1/2 cup. In a small bowl whisk together cornstarch and 1/2 cup broth. To reserved drippings in skillet, add Sherry, onion and garlic and simmer mixture, stirring and scraping up brown bits, until most of liquid is evaporated. Add remaining 2 1/2 cups broth and bring to a boil. Stir cornstarch mixture and whisk into broth mixture. Boil mixture, whisking, 1 minute and remove skillet from heat. Whisk in Worcestershire sauce, mustard, sour cream, and dill and keep sauce warm, covered, over low heat (do not let boil).

Gently toss meatballs into sauce and garnish with dill. Serve and put 1 Tbsp preserves or cranberry sauce on top of each serving.

Servings: Serves 8 as a main course (approx 4 meatballs per person)


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