Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Peanut Butter filled Banana Sandwich Cookies

It has been well established that I am "that mom". I make treats for my daughter's preschool class every time she attends. I just can't help myself. The end of the day before she attends hits and I get this strange urge to make something. Okay, I missed last week when I brought a big stash of cool juicy juice stuff for all of the kiddos to enjoy, but I figured that was enough right? I still agonized over not bringing something. Seriously what is wrong with me?

When I saw Sass & Veracity's post for Banana Whoopie Pies, a take on this post by a new favorite of mine Culinary in the Country, I knew this was something that I had to try out. Best of all, it had bananas, and I just happened to have one sitting around that was dying a slow, torterous death.

Once I made these little goodies, I knew exactly what to fill them with. Peanut butter just sounded perfect. Plus, it's for the kiddos, gotta throw a little protein in there, tee hee!

I didn't think these really fit in the category of a whoopie pie, and around the preschool it is easier just to say it's a cookie. What do you think I made, what should I call it?

Peanut Butter filled Banana Sandwich Cookies
makes enough for 28 cookies, or 14 filled

For the outsides:
2 c. flour

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

3/4 cup very ripe banana (1 small)

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 c. butter, unsalted, room temperature

1 cup sugar

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Manzanilla Chicken

My husband loves olives. Black, green, pitted, or stuffed...he'll eat it. I normally don't buy them if I don't have a plan to use them soon because they otherwise would not last long. It's the strangest thing, but they just seem to disappear, mysteriously.

The only reason we typically have green olives in the house is for dirty martinis. Oh, and this love of olives hasn't skipped a generation. As soon as I get the martini shaker out to make the hubs his cocktail the first words I hear are, "I want some olives too please mom".

A couple of weeks ago, I was perusing the aisles at Sam's Club while on a mission to find sun-dried tomatoes. While this endeavor proved fruitless (pun intended), I did spot some olives...a two pack...and it was cheap.

Now we have olives sitting in the fridge and an extra stash in the pantry. While these could have been reserved for evening drinks and preschooler munchies, I bought them with money from my dinner budget, so I had to use them, right?

Manzanilla Olive Chicken

4 large skinless boneless chicken breast halves
1 cup all-purpose flour
olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup Manzanilla (or any other green olive) sliced
1/2 cup artichoke hearts, halved
2 tablespoon capers, drained
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon tomato paste
5 dashes hot sauce

In a glass measuring dish, combine the broth, hot sauce, and tomato paste; set aside. Dry off the chicken. Dredge the chicken in flour to coat both sides; shake off the excess. Heat about 2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add a tablespoon of butter. Add the chicken, turn the heat to medium-high and cook until golden brown, about 4 minutes a side. Add the olives, capers, and artichokes. Add the broth mixture, scraping up any browned bits. Bring the mixture to a boil and let cook until the liquid is reduced and thickened, about 10 minutes; turning the chicken about halfway through. Add the remaining butter and cook until melted.

Serve with some egg noodles, a salad and ENJOY!

Monday, April 27, 2009

DB: Cheesecake Goodness

The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge.

After I had delivered lead sous chef about 3 and 1/2 years ago and the "oh, look at the new baby" excitement had worn off the new grandparents, my father and step-mother headed out to get something to eat. They returned with probably the best cheesecake that I had ever eaten from The Cheesecake Factory. Okay, maybe it was because I had just pushed out an 8 and 1/2 pound baby girl and was (no lie) ravenous for something to eat. But, let's just say that every piece of cheesecake that I have had since then always pales in comparison.

Until now.

Jenny, thank you so much for such an awesome choice! We were given a lot of liberties this month in our baking. I really enjoyed the flexibility and had a ton of ideas. I actually should have used the strawberries sitting in the fridge, but I just couldn't do it. I wanted to try to recreate a turtle cheesecake.

For my cheesecake, I kept with the recipe, but added a layer of melted chocolate (about a cup of dark chocolate morsels) mixed with the cheesecake batter. After it had baked and cooled, I topped it with caramel sauce. The results were outstanding, and I will definitely make this again.

For the caramel sauce:

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1/2 stick unsalted butter

1/4 cup whipping cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Melt the brown sugar and butter together in a medium saucepan. Once melted, carefully add the whipping cream and vanilla. Let cook until thickened, about 5 minutes longer. Serve warm.

A couple of things to note:

You need to bake the cheesecake for almost an hour, let it sit in the oven for an hour, then let it cool in the fridge (overnight would be best). SO, that said it isn't exactly a quick dish. However, using the water bath and letting it finish off cooking while the oven cools is so worth it.

Unless you know for SURE that your pan is water-tight, wrapping it in foil is an important step. I missed a little and I think a little water seeped in, but it didn't do too much damage. Chilling it kept from it having any kind of sogginess, I think.

For mine, since there was a layer of chocolate, it is important to let it sit out of the fridge for about 20 minutes before serving. That way the chocolate isn't just a solid layer.

Not a daring baker? Want to know more? Click here to find out all about us and while you are there, check out what the other DB's thought of this months' challenge!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Blue Cheese Butter

It is no question that around here, flank steak is one of our favorite meats to work with. Oh sure, I would LOVE to cook a ribeye or a filet, but for the value flank steak just can't be beat.

The star of this meal, no matter what meat you use, is the blue cheese butter.

Blue Cheese Butter
1 stick butter, room temperature
4 ounces blue cheese, room temperature
salt and pepper

Blend all of the ingredients together.

After the steak has cooked and rested (and sliced if that's how you do it), put as much butter as you dare on top of the steak. Let it melt, served it up, and enjoy!

With the leftovers, place the butter mixture in a small freezer-safe bag. Squeeze out the air and push the butter to the bottom. Roll it up and freeze it if you aren't using it for a while or just put in the fridge.

If you want to make the butter ahead of time, just put it in the freezer bag and keep it in the fridge. When ready, slice the butter and put it on your meat of choice!

** I re-used this butter by putting it inside a chicken breast. I cooked it at 425 for 25 minutes. Oh yeah, it was also wrapped in bacon.*** I didn't get a picture, but YUM.

** Another great use would be inside a potato**

Thursday, April 23, 2009

BB: Croque Monsieur

My lead sous chef loves ham. I actually stopped buying it because, like cookies, it would just disappear before I had a chance to cook with it. When I saw that the second Barefoot Bloggers recipe was Croque Monsieur. I instantly thought it would be great to try.

This isn't healthy AT ALL...but sometimes we can treat ourselves. Thank you to Kathy of All Food Considered for such a great choice!

For this recipe I used whole wheat bread (what we had) and slices of Swiss that I cut up instead of true Gruyere (again what we had). It turned out okay, but I don't think I will make it again. It was really too much trouble for what is essentially a ham and cheese sandwich. It was just a little too decadent for us. That said, it was all Ina, and I would still recommend trying it once!

I served ours with an arugula and strawberry salad, with goat cheese...oh yeah.

If you are a fan of Ina, as everyone here in the CITK house is, then please join us!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Mushroom, Potato, and Goat Cheese Pizza

I am a bargain hunter. It isn't just out of necessity, but more because it is a thrill. To accomplish my frugal mission, I rarely deviate from my grocery list. However, a couple of weeks ago, I passed a display being stocked with packages of cremini mushrooms for $1.00 each. I couldn't pass it up. I had nothing on my menu that would really require the use of mushrooms, but I couldn't stop myself.

So, I was once again thinking that I didn't want to let mushrooms go bad in the fridge!
I started thinking about one of my favorite pizzas from a local pizza place. It has goat cheese, potatoes, and mushrooms...I had all of those things. Add in a new pizza stone that I had yet to break in.
What resulted was the realization that I really need to have a pizza night at least once every two weeks. If not more!

Mushroom, Potato, and Goat Cheese Pizza

For the pizza dough:
this makes enough for 2, 12 inch pizzas
3/4 cup warm water
2 1/4 teaspoon yeast (or one packet)
1 1/2 teaspoon sugar
olive oil
2 cups all-purpose flour (plus more for kneading)

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the water, yeast, sugar, and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. When the yeast dissolves, add 1 1/2 cups flour and 1 teaspoon of salt and mix on medium-low speed. While the mixer is going, add about 1/2 cup more flour. Let the mixer continue to knead on medium-low for about 10 minutes until smooth. After 10 minutes, turn the dough out onto the counter lightly dusted with flour and knead it by hand, turning it 10-15 times. Place the dough in a bowl sprayed with cooking spray and cover it with a kitchen towel. Let the dough rise at room temperature for 30 minutes.

After the dough has risen, turn it out onto the counter and divide in half. If you, like me, are just using one of the dough balls, place the other one in the freezer.

Stretch each ball into a 12-inch circle and place on a pizza stone (or on a parchment lined baking sheet). Let sit while you prepare the other ingredients for your pizza!

For the mushrooms:
In a medium pan over medium-high heat add one teaspoon of olive oil and butter. Add 8 oz mushrooms, season with salt and pepper. Saute until the liquid has evaporated and the mushrooms are tender, about 5-7 minutes.
Remove the mushrooms to a bowl and wipe out the pan.

For the potatoes:
To prep the potatoes take 1 medium to large potato and poke it with a fork to find the exact size to cut. Slice the potato using the guides.

Dry off the potato pieces and season with salt and pepper. In the medium skillet that you wiped out, add about a tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the potatoes and cook, about 7 minutes a side or until light brown and just cooked. Remove to a bowl.

To assemble the pizza, drizzle olive oil on your dough. Sprinkle on parmesan cheese. Add the mushrooms and potatoes. Crumble on about 1/4 cup (or more to your liking) goat cheese. Add more parmesan on top.

Bake in a 500 degree oven for about 12 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the pizza is golden.
Serve with a small salad and enjoy!

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Saturday, April 18, 2009

Roasted Potato and Asparagus Salad

I am a huge fan of potatoes, and the older I get, the more I love roasted ones, in particular. Once again, I had something in the fridge that I wanted to use before it went bad. This time it was asparagus. Goat cheese is always a welcome addition to anything around here. What resulted was a delicious side dish that I wish I had made more of!

Roasted Potato and Asparagus Salad
1 lb russet potatoes, cut into 1- 1 1/2 inch cubes
10-12 asparagus spears
2 jarred roasted red peppers, cut into long strips
1/4 cup goat cheese, crumbled
olive oil, salt and pepper
reduced balsamic dressing *see below*

Preheat the oven to 425. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray.
In a medium bowl, toss the potatoes with a teaspoon of olive oil, a little salt and pepper. Place on one side of the baking sheet and put in the oven for 20 minutes.
In the same bowl, toss the asparagus with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Set aside.

Meanwhile, start prepare the dressing:
In a small saucepan, put 1/2 a cup of balsamic dressing over medium high heat and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium low and let bubble for about 5 minutes. You should have about 2 tablespoons. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

Once the potatoes have cooked 20 minutes, remove the pan from the oven. On the opposite side of the potatoes, place the seasoned asparagus. Return the pan to the oven and roast for an additional 7-8 minutes, or until the asparagus is just cooked and the potatoes are fork tender.

While the pan is in the oven, continue making the dressing:
To the reduced balsamic, add about 1/4 cup of olive oil. Whisk in salt and pepper to taste.

Once the potatoes and asparagus have cooked, remove from the oven and set aside to cool until ready to assemble.

To assemble the salad:
Cut the asparagus into thirds. In a medium bowl, add the potatoes, asparagus, and red pepper. Add the dressing and toss. Top with the goat cheese.

Serve at room temperature, enjoy!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Grilled Chicken with Chipotle Pineapple Sauce

I'm not going to lie to you. This is the best barbecue sauce I think I have ever made.
Sweet, Savory, with a nice kick of heat. It was perfect on grilled chicken. I think it would go nicely with pork too!

Pineapple Chipotle Barbecue Sauce
1/2 cup ketchup
1 cup pineapple
1 chipotle pepper canned in adobo
1/4 cup honey
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
5 dashes hot sauce
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder

Puree all the ingredients in your food processor or blender. It makes a little over 1 1/2 cups.

I served this with a roasted potato and asparagus salad....recipe to follow!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Baked Tilapia with Lemon Parsley Matzah Crust

As our ancestors ran from Pharoah's army on their escape from slavery and their journey out of Egypt and into the promised land, they had no time to wait for their bread to rise. Instead, the bread baked unleavened on their backs in the hot desert sun. This was the first matzah, and we eat it today to remember the sacrifices that our people had to make so that we could be free. The following is an application of matzah that I doubt our ancestors would have ever imagined, much less had the time or ability to prepare on their backs!

If using Matzah isn't quite your thing, this could just as easily be made with my favorite, panko bread crumbs.

Baked Tilapia with Lemon Parsley Matzah Crust
Two (6 ounce) tilapia fillets
2 sheets matzah
1/4 cup parsley
peel of 1 lemon
juice of 1/2 lemon(2 tablespoons)
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
olive oil

Preheat the oven to 375. Put foil down on a small cookie sheet. Place the fillets on top.

In a food processor finely grind matzah, parsley, lemon peel. Add salt and pepper and the lemon juice to moisten (add more to taste).
Brush one side of the tilapia with the mustard. Spread the breadcrumbs on top of the fish. Drizzle about 1/2 a teaspoon of olive oil on top of the crumb mixture. Bake in the oven for about 5-6 minutes, or until the fish flakes easily with a fork.

Serve with the remaining 1/2 a lemon (cut into quarters).

I served this with roasted asparagus and mashed potatoes with crispy shallots.

To make the roasted asparagus: place the desired amount of asparagus (3-4 per person) on a foil lined baking sheet. Drizzle a little olive oil, salt, and pepper and toss to coat. Roast for 8 minutes.

To make the crispy shallots: In a small saucepan over medium high heat, add 1/4 cup olive oil. Once hot, add a teaspoon of butter. Add 1 shallot thinly sliced. Turn the heat to medium and let brown, 20-30 minutes. Remove the shallot from the oil onto a paper towel lined plate.

To make the mashed potatoes: Chop your desired amount of peeled potatoes (1 to 1/5 lbs a person) into 1 inch cubes and place in a medium saucepan with just enough water to cover. Bring to a boil and let bubble until a fork easily pushes through the potato (about 8 minutes). Drain and return to the pot. Add salt and pepper to taste and enough milk to moisten to desired consistency. I mash with my pastry cutter, because I don't have a potato masher. That's just how I've always done it.

I thought I would include all the elements of my meal to show that it can all be done together. Here is how the meal would come together.
1. Start the shallots.
2. Put the potatoes to boil...once they are ready, mash and cover to keep warm.
3. While this is going on, prepare the fish and asparagus and turn on the oven.
4. In the last 10 minutes of the shallots cooking, put the asparagus in the oven. Two minutes later, add the fish.
5. Everything should finish cooking about the same time. Serve it up and enjoy!

Also, I had some extra topping, so I added a little bit of olive oil to moisten and topped the asparagus with it!

I am submitting this to this year's Passover Round Up hosted by the talented Lori Lynn at Taste With the Eyes.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Goat Cheese and Roasted Red Pepper Stuffed Flank Steak

I have made quite a few meals that I have not yet blogged about: good meals, meals I would make again. Why haven't I posted? I am just plain lazy. I also have been quite the web browser of late, and not even for foodie sites, but mostly home decorating and budgeting junk. Then, time passes, and instead of recalling what I made, I would rather just watch TV, read, or go to bed.

So why am I posting something old now? I am afraid that I am going to forget what I did, and then, when I want to make this again, I am going to have to start over. I'd much rather just search my blog!

This recipe was inspired by one of my favorite meatless Ina dishes. It is a sandwich with goat cheese, roasted red peppers, capers, balsamic vinegar, garlic...oh it's a good one. One thing about it, though, is that the garlic is raw and, to me, a little strong. I decided to cook the garlic and make a balsamic glaze. The results were great! I do wish once again, that I had pounded out the steak more, it was a little rarer than I would have liked, but it is definitely on my list to make again!

Goat Cheese and Roasted Red Pepper Stuffed Flank Steak
1 1/2 pound flank steak
1/4 cup goat cheese
3 jarred roasted red peppers. split open
1 small shallot, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1-2 tablespoon drained capers
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Place the flank steak in between two pieces of plastic wrap and pound to about 1/4 inch thickness. Remove the top layer of plastic wrap.

In a small saute pan over medium heat, add about a teaspoon of olive oil. When the pan is hot, add the shallots and garlic and saute until the shallots are tender and the garlic is fragrant, stirring frequently as to not burn the garlic. Remove from the heat and set aside.

To assemble the stuffing, crumble the goat cheese on the flank steak. Top with the garlic/shallot mixture. Place the peppers and capers on top.

Wrap up the flank steak going with the grain as tight as you can, securing with toothpicks. Salt and Pepper the outside.

In a large oven-safe saute pan, over medium-high heat, place enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Once hot, brown the rolled flank steak about two minutes per side. Place in the oven and cook for 15-20 minutes.

While the steak is cooking, prepare the balsamic sauce.

Balsamic Sauce
1 cup balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons sugar

Bring both ingredients to boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until reduced by half, about 15 minutes.

Once the steak is cooked, let it rest for about 5 minutes and then slice against the grain, top with the balsamic sauce and serve!

I served this with roasted potatoes and steamed broccoli. To make the potatoes, I did them in the same oven as the flank steak. By cutting them smaller, I was able to cook them in a 375 degree oven in about 30 minutes. To make: toss your desired amount of potatoes, a drizzle of olive oil, salt, pepper, and herbes de provence in a small bowl and place on a sheet pan coated with cooking spray. Put this in the oven about 5-10 minutes before putting in the steak.

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Thursday, April 9, 2009

Kerry Gold Dubliner Stuffed Chicken Breast

We are currently observing Pesach in our home. While I normally wouldn't have much to post during this time, I actually have quite a few blog posts that I have started and not finished. Please enjoy this entry that I meant to post two weekends ago!

I am lucky enough to be a part of the Foodbuzz’s Tastemaker program, that means I periodically receive food samples or coupons. In early March, I received a BOGO (that's buy one get one) free product from Kerrygold. This all-natural dairy product is from the heartland of Ireland. It is rather expensive for this kitchen, but luckily I caught a deal considering that it was the cheese of the month at my local grocery store so I thought I would try it out.

To set the stage: I originally had 4 chicken breasts defrosted in the fridge. I was originally going to use them for a member of my havurah who just had a baby. I changed my mind at the last minute and made a different dish using my rotisserie chicken. It was Saturday night and we normally eat dinner later than usual after the sous chefs go to bed. Call it a date night at home.

SO, I had four chicken breasts and no real idea what I was going to make. I thought I would stuff them with cheese, but wasn't sure what I would do with the extra two. Then my brother-in-law called...He and his fiance hadn't made plans for dinner...we had two extra pieces of was destiny. Luckily the are good sports and let me try out a recipe on them.

I made a basic stuffed, breaded chicken. The cheese was wonderful. I use the Kerrygold Dubliner Cheese. It melted beautifully, and reminded me of fontina. The coating also incorporated quite a bit of the cheese (a big thank you to the hubs for grating it all). Because of how great it melted, it made a wonderful crust. The addition of the panko crumbs (a personal favorite) made for a delicious crunch.

That being said, I don't know if I would buy the Kerrygold cheese again if it weren't on sale or with a coupon. Times are tough and having a specialty cheese hanging around doesn't really fit within my lifestyle.

This could be made, however, with parmesan and mozzarella stuffed inside. Now that I think of it...maybe a little matzo crust would work too!

Dubliner Stuffed Chicken Breast
7 oz Kerrygold Dubliner Cheese
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast
2 cups panko bread crumbs
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
2 large eggs, beaten
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spray a 13 by 9 baking dish with cooking spray.

Grate about 1/2 of the cheese and cut the remainder into four slices.
In a shallow dish, mix together the panko crumbs, herbs, and grated cheese. In another shallow dish, please the beaten eggs.
Cut a pocket into each chicken breast and stuff the slices of cheese into the chicken.

Now it is time to dredge...yeah, that's right I said dredge...

Place the stuffed chicken breast into the egg, turning to coat. Then press the chicken firmly into the cheese and crumb mixture. Place in the casserole dish. Bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes or until cooked through.


Monday, April 6, 2009

Strawberry-rific Cupcakes

About two weeks ago, I was heading out to my local grocery store with sous chef #1. We were in search of brocollini. Unfortunately, the one place that I thought for SURE would have it did not. What they did have, however, was 5 lbs of strawberries. These weren't just your everyday strawberries. These babies were organic and freakishly huge. On top of that....they were $4.99. Oh, that's right.

In the same way I fear of mushrooms going bad, I always worry about fruit. Usually we go through stuff pretty quickly, but this was a lot of berries! In order to use them up, I thought I would make some strawberry cupcakes.

I searched the blogosphere and found a few recipes that captured my interest. I thought I would try using one of my favorite cupcake recipes, but add some strawberries. The result was fantastic!

Strawberry Cupcakes
1 stick butter, room temperature
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup pureed strawberries (see below)
1/4 cup milk (I used skim)

For the puree, take 4 cups of strawberries and cut off the tops, then quarter them. Sprinkle about 2 tablespoons of white sugar on top and mix together. Let the strawberries macerate for about 15 minutes. Put the berries in a blender and puree. Pour 1/2 a cup of the puree in a pyrex dish. Set the rest aside for the frosting.

To make the cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350 and put liners in your cupcake tins.

Put the butter in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the sugar. Mix on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, sift together (yeah, I've been sifting lately...kind of like the results better) the flour, baking powder and soda, and salt, set aside. Add the eggs, one at a time, to the butter/sugar mixture and beat until well incorporated, scraping the bowl at least twice. Add the vanilla. In the pyrex dish with the puree, add the milk.

Starting and ending with the flour mixture, alternate adding the dry and wet ingredients mixing until just combined.

Fill the liners about 1/2-3/4 the way full. I was able to make 18 cupcakes.

Bake for about 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick insert comes out clean. Set aside to cool.

I topped the cupcakes with a cream cheese frosting.

For the frosting:
1 bar cream cheese, room temperature
1 stick butter, room temperature
pinch salt
4 cups powdered sugar
remainder of strawberry puree (about 1/4 cup)

Combine the cream cheese and butter and mix until well combined. Slowly add the sugar. Add the puree. Mix until well combined.

I frosted mine right away for dessert, but if you want a more sturdy frosting try adding more powdered sugar. Cream cheese frosting also sets up once refrigerated.

I also have been blessed not once, but twice, with awards! I am way behind on spreading them on, but I wanted to say how honored I am. Kendra and Karen...thank you!