Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Cilantro-Lime Dressing

Pin It I confess: this is a total restaurant rip-off. I couldn't help myself, I had to copy it. Drizzle this dressing on salad, on tacos, on fajitas...even on a perfectly cooked over-easy egg. Mmmmm.

This dressing is creamy and just spicy enough to tingle your taste buds. If you want more heat, leave in the jalapeno ribs.

Cilantro-Lime Dressing
printable recipe

1/2 cup Ranch dressing (I use light)
1 large jalapeno, seeded and ribs removed, and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 tomatillo, husk removed, cut into 8ths
2 teaspoons lime juice
1/2 cup cilantro leaves, lightly packed

Combine everything in a blender and blend until smooth.

Makes about 3/4 cup dressing.

2 TBL: 56 cal/4.7 fat/0 fbr/1.5 crb

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Smoked Paprika Potatoes

Pin It Oh. My. Goodness. I can't believe how good these potatoes were. So, so, so, so, good! I'd never used smoked paprika before and now I know I have been missing out on something incredible. All I could say when the paprika hit the hot oil was, "Oh, my..."

There are so many wonderful things about this side dish: the red potatoes are creamy on the inside and crisp on the outside; the caramelized onions are sweet; the smoked paprika lends a subtle yet incredible smokey flavor. And I loved that I got all of this making them in a pan on the stove top instead of having to use the oven.

The recipe is from my latest issue of Cooks Country magazine. I followed the recipe except for the amount of oil; 1/4 cup seemed excessive. I used 3 tablespoons and it still seemed like it was too much. Next time I'll use 2 tablespoons and it will probably be perfect. Don't skip the oil altogether, though, because you need it to get the crisp awesomness that makes the potatoes so delicious.

Smoked Paprika Potatoes (slightly adapted from Cook's Country)
printable recipe

1 pounds baby red potatoes, scrubbed and halved (quartered if large)
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons smoked paprika, divided
1 cup chicken broth
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley

1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat until hot. Add onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and 1 teaspoon paprika and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add potatoes, broth, and 1/2 teaspoon salt and bring to a boil.

2. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, covered, until the potatoes are just tender, 12-15 minutes. Remove the lid and increase the heat to medium. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid evaporates, 5-8 minutes.

3. Whisk remaining 2 tablespoons oil and 1 teaspoon paprika in a small bowl. Add the mixture to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are deep golden brown, about 5 minutes.

4. Season with salt and pepper, and sprinkle with parsley to serve.

Makes 4-6 servings.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Cookie Cutter Giveaway Winner!

Thanks to everyone who entered the giveaway for the flower cookie cutter and celebrating my 100th Follower with me! Random.org picked the lucky winner and it's Trista Z! Congratulations, Trista!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Turkey Enchilada Soup

I love this soup because it uses so many pantry ingredients. I made this with my last bit of frozen turkey left-over from Thanksgiving (which made it even easier and faster to get on the table), but you could use almost any kind of meat--chicken, pork, beef.

I also love this soup because it's so, so yummy.

Turkey Enchilada Soup
printable recipe

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 medium onion, diced
1/2 large red bell pepper, diced
1 15-oz can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 14.5-oz can whole kernel corn, drained
1 15-oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 15-oz can red enchilada sauce (my fav is Los Palmas)
2-3 cups chicken broth (depending on how thick you want your soup)
2 cups cooked, diced turkey
hot cooked rice for serving
shredded cheddar cheese for serving
sour cream for serving
chopped cilantro for serving

1. Heat a large pot over medium-high heat until hot. Add the oil and heat 10 seconds. Add the onion and red bell pepper and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 5 minutes.

2. Add the tomatoes, corn, black beans, enchilada sauce, and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to maintain a simmer, cover, and cook for 15 minutes. Add the cooked turkey and heat through.

3. To serve, put a few tablespoons of cooked rice in a bowl and ladle the soup over the top. Garnish with cheese, sour cream, and chopped cilantro.

Makes 4-6 servings.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

100 Followers + a giveaway!

I know they say you're not supposed to gauge the success of your site by how many followers you have, but I think we all do it anyway. And I know you're not supposed to have follower-envy and compare your blog to the ones that have 500, 800, 2000 followers, but I do it sometimes anyway. So I'm excited to write that I finally have 100 followers! It's taken me almost 2 years, but you know...Yay for 100 followers!

To celebrate I wanted to make something chocolate-on-chocolate and 5000 calories, but I haven't had time to do much in the kitchen the last few days. So instead I'm having a giveaway for this super-cute flower cookie cutter--Yay for giveaways!

I've been cleaning out, sorting, and organizing my cake closet (Yes, I have an insane amount of cake pans, equipment, etc.) and while sorting my cookie cutters I found I have two of these. Weird. Why did I buy two? Who knows, but aren't you lucky? This is a giant cookie cutter (as you can see), and it measures 5 inches across.

Leave me a comment on this post and tell me what your favorite cut-out cookie is--mine is a tie between sugar and gingerbread--and I'll put your name in the giveaway drawing. I'll pick the winner on Monday, January 17 using Random.org.

Good luck!!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Chocolate-Chip Muffin Tops + 4 other ways

When I was doing Weight Watchers one of my favorite snacks was a Blueberry-Oat Muffin Bar made by Quaker. The muffin bar was 2 points, and while it wasn't huge, when eaten with Yoplait yogurt drink it was enough to satisfy. Then Quaker stopped making them. Bah! Doesn't it always seem to work that way?

After belly-aching about it for a while I decided I could come up with a muffin bar that would be just as good (probably better) for the same amount of points. I looked at the ingredient list on the Quaker muffin bar box (and then wished I hadn't) to get a general idea of what was in them, and then started mixing up batches of batter. A few weeks later I had a healthy, great-tasting muffin thing that was way better than Quaker's ever was.

It turned out to be impossible to make a bar-shaped snack that was consistent in size--I tried several different ideas for shaping them--and ended up using my cookie scoop to drop the batter onto the cookie sheets. So instead of muffin bars they were muffin tops.

My original recipe was for Blueberry, and 1 muffin top made with my standard-size cookie scoop (about 2 TBLs) was 1 point, 2 muffins tops (about the same total amount of snack--maybe a tad more--as one of the Quaker muffin bars) were 2 points. I also used a big scoop, used for muffins and cupcakes (about 1/4 cup), and then they were 3 points each.

Once I had a working recipe I experimented with chocolate-chip, cranberry-orange, dark chocolate-apricot, dark chocolate-cherry, blueberry white chocolate-chip, and jam. They all worked really well; I especially love the jam ones. If you're counting WW Points (and these are the old Points, not the new Points Plus), they are all essentially the same, but you have to make sure you're scraping the cookie scoop level against the edge of the bowl and don't have the batter rounded at all (especially for the ones with chocolate chips). If you're not counting Points then it doesn't matter :)

These muffin tops are heavier than a typical muffin, partially due to the whole wheat flour and oatmeal in them, and partially because they need to cook without spreading all over the pan. Also, they freeze really well and make great breakfasts and quick snacks.

A quick note about the chocolate chips I used: I couldn't find mini-dark or mini-white chocolate chips anywhere local, and after scouring the internet, I found ONE site that sold them, and that was only after reading a comment thread written by people looking for the mini-chips. So the place to get mini-dark and mini-white chocolate chips (as well as all kinds of crazy, hard-to-find baking stuff) is http://www.lepicerie.com/.

The recipe below is for Chocolate-Chip Muffin Tops. I'll put the changes for the other versions at the bottom of the post, as well as the nutritional info.

Chocolate-Chip Muffin Tops
printable recipe

1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup quick-cooking oats
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3 tablespoons mini chocolate chips
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup natural applesauce
1 egg
2 tablespoons canola oil
3/4 teaspoon vanilla

1. Heat your oven to 400 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Combine all the dry ingredients in a medium bowl; set aside. Combine all the wet ingredients in a medium bowl (I use a 2 cup liquid measuring cup).

3. Add the wet mixture to the dry and mix until the batter comes together.

4. Use a standard cookie scoop to drop the batter onto the prepared baking sheets, about 2-inches apart. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until the bottoms are a lightly browned and the muffin top is set.

Makes 28 muffin tops. 2 muffin tops: 130 cal/3g fat/2g fiber/2 WW points

4 other variations:

Cranberry-Orange Muffin Tops: Omit the chocolate chips; Add 1/2 cup dried cranberries, chopped, the zest of 1 orange, and 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon to the dry ingredients. Replace 3-4 tablespoons of the buttermilk with orange juice.

Makes 28 muffin tops. 2 muffin tops: 127 cal/2.8g fat/1.8g fiber/2 WW points

Blueberry, Lemon, White-Chocolate Chip: Replace the chocolate chips with mini-white chocolate chips, and add 1/2 cup dried blueberries, chopped, and the zest of 1 lemon to the dry ingredients. Replace 2 tablespoons of the buttermilk with lemon juice.

Makes 28 muffin tops. 2 muffin tops: 134.4 cal/2.8g fat/2.6g fiber/2 WW points

Jam Muffin Tops: Omit the chocolate chips. Once the batter is dropped on the baking sheet, use a small spoon (I used a baby spoon) or measuring spoon to stick about 1/2 teaspoon jam into the center of each ball. You want to put it into the batter, not just put it on top. I've made strawberry, blackberry, and apricot; my favorite is blackberry. And use a good brand of jam because it will be thicker than a more inexpensive brand, and will run less as the muffin tops cook.

Makes 28 muffin tops. 2 muffin tops: 137 cal/2.7g fat/1.6g fiber/2 WW points.

Apricot-Dark Chocolate Chip Muffin Tops: Change the semi-sweet chocolate chips to dark chocolate chips, and add 1/2 cup chopped dried apricots to the dry ingredients.

Makes 28 muffin tops. I haven't figured out the nutritional info for these. It's probably super-close to the info for the Blueberry-White Chocolate Chip ones. And I count them as 2 Points for 2 muffin tops.

Here's a picture of everyone. It was a busy baking day :)

Notes: My kids don't love the texture of the oatmeal, so I pulse it a couple of times in my food processor. Also, spraying your knife with non-stick spray will make chopping the dried fruit a little easier.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

New Orleans-Style Bread Pudding

And the winner of my first poll was the New Orleans-Style Bread Pudding! I have to admit I was rooting for the Lite Fettuccine Alfredo, but it came in a close second, so that's OK. And I was going to make it anyway ;)

The good:
This was my first time making bread pudding and I thought it was delicious. It was very easy to put together, which was very nice. It was rich and creamy, and the caramel sauce was to die for. I totally wanted to drink it.

The less-good (but not bad):
The final bread pudding was really heavy and dense (you can see it in the pictures), not like it looked in the picture in the magazine (more fluffy and defined), or like the bread pudding I love to buy at a local bakery. I may try it again with fewer eggs and less milk (the recipe calls for 6 eggs/more than 4 cups milk) and see if that helps. I also looked at recipes on-line, and many of them say to cook the bread pudding at 325 instead of 350, so that's something to try, too. It may also simply come down to personal preference--some like their bread pudding heavy and some like if fluffy.

My grocery store sells a great bread they call "cottage bread" that they make in the store. It's soft and dense and wonderful, and perfect for bread pudding. I always buy the wheat variety (for eating), so when my teenager saw the white loaf on the counter is was almost as if she couldn't believe her eyes: "Is that white bread?" And when I gave my 8 year-old one of the extra slices she danced around the kitchen. Danced. What is it about kids and white bread?

Make sure the bread you use is dry so it sponges up the custard. You can leave the cubed bread out overnight to dry, or you can do what I did and dry it in the oven. To use the oven, heat it to 275. Spread the cut up bread in a single layer on two baking sheets. Put the baking sheets in the hot oven for 15-20 minutes or until the bread cubes are dry (but not brown).

Note: the sauce recipe called for pecans and coconut, but I left out because I don't like pieces of stuff in my sauce. It also called for spiced rum, and I substituted rum extract.

New Orleans-Style Bread Pudding (from Cuisine at Home, Feb 2011)
printable recipe

for the bread pudding
6 eggs
3 cups whole milk
1 13.5-oz can coconut milk
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup dried currants (I didn't use these)
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 1-lb loaf French bread, cut into 1-inch cubes, staled (I used my store's bread)
2 teaspoons butter (I used non-stick spray)
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon (I used 3--I love cinnamon)

for the caramel sauce
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons spice rum (I used 1 teaspoon rum extract)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted (I left this out)
1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut, toasted (I left this out)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

for the bread pudding
1. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, coconut milk, sugar, currants, and vanilla. Gently stir in the bread and let it sit at room temperature for 30-35 minutes.

2. Heat your oven to 350 and spray a 9x13-inch baking dish with non-stick spray. Transfer the bread mixture to the pan.

3. Combine the sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle it over the bread pudding. Bake it until the center is set, about 1 hour. Let it cool 20-30 minutes before serving.

Makes 12 servings.

for the sauce
1. Melt butter and brown sugar in a saucepan over medium heat until melted and smooth, whisking constantly, about 2 minutes.

2. Whisk in the cream, rum (if using), cinnamon, and salt. Bring it to a simmer and cook until it's thickened and reduced to about 1 1/2 cups, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

3. Stir in the pecans, coconut, vanilla, rum extract (if using instead of rum), and lemon juice. Serve sauce warm over bread pudding.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Works For Me Wednesday: The best way to zest citrus

For the longest time I used to use my smallest cheese grater to zest citrus. One day a couple years ago, my sister was watching me zest a lemon and told me about her microplaner (sometimes called a rasp), and how great it was, blah, blah, blah. At first I wasn't interested (silly, silly me). I had a system and it worked fine, thanks. Then I bought a whole bag of lemons with the intention of juicing and zesting them all and freezing everything to have on-hand for later. It was an experiment. It sort of worked. Anyway, about half way through zesting I called my sister and begged to borrow her microplaner.

Have you ever finally found the right tool to do something, and the first time you use it you're sure you hear angels singing? Or you want to jump up and down because it's so wonderful? Or both? Yeah, this was like that. I couldn't believe how much easier it was to remove just the zest and leave the bitter pith behind. It was a bonus that I no longer scraped my fingers on the cheese grater.

I promptly told my husband that I wanted one for Mother's Day, which he thought was great because then he didn't have to come up with an idea. A win-win that definitely worked (and still works) for me! Thanks, Honey!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

A poll to start the new year

I got a new Cuisine at Home magazine in the mail and I need your help deciding what recipe to try this week. Vote in my first poll ever to help me decide!

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