Monday, November 29, 2010

Oh the Leftovers... Turkey Potato Casserole

I have so many recipes to share, but time has not been on my side. So I'll keep this post short and sweet with a promise to share some of the deliciousness we've been enjoying very soon. Here's a little something we made to use up some of our Thanksgiving leftovers that was creamy, comfort-y, and best of all, easy. And I love easy after Thanksgiving, don't you?

Turkey Potato Casserole
 Adapted slightly from


  • 1 pound cooked turkey meat, shredded
  • 1 onion, chopped (I omitted this because allrecipes reviewers said it was too strong, but if I had it to do over, I would throw on some French's Fried Onions. It would've made it just right.)
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can green beans, drained
  • 1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of mushroom soup
  • 1/4 c. milk
  • 8 ounces shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 4 cups prepared mashed potatoes
  • Salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). 
Place turkey in an even layer on the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish. Top with a layer of onion (optional) and a layer of green beans so that the turkey is no longer visible. Stir the milk into the cream of mushroom soup to thin it out a bit. Pour the condensed soup over the onion/turkey layer, then sprinkle with shredded cheese, reserving some for the top. Spoon mashed potatoes over the top of the casserole, and spread to cover. Season with salt and pepper.
Bake for 30 to 40 minutes in the preheated oven, until heated through.


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Kroger recently paid me to take two bags of close-to-expiration pre-cut broccoli off their hands. Seriously. The broccoli was marked down to .99¢ and there were "save $1.00 now" coupons on the front of the bags, so I ended up making a whole .02¢ on the deal! When does that ever happen?

I couldn't let my amazing deal go to waste. Thankfully, I had bookmarked a Broccoli Cheddar Soup from one of my favorite blogs, Annie's Eats, that fit the bill. As an added bonus, I had all the remaining ingredients on hand.

The soup was creamy (thanks again to my immersion blender), but still had some texture thanks to the couple of ladles of soup I pulled out before blending. The cheese sauce was really a thing of beauty and added just the right amount of cheddar flavor to the soup. I daresay that this soup is pretty foolproof. And that, my friends, is something we can all be thankful for. Make this soup. People will be thankful for you!

Start of by sauteing onions in some butter until they are translucent. Add in 1 c. of shredded/grated carrots.

Add in broccoli, chicken broth, garlic powder, and onion salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer.

While the soup is coming to a boil and simmering, work on your cheese sauce. Make a roux of butter and flour. Whisk in 2 c. of milk and stir until thickened. I'm inpatient, so I turned up the heat and it was done in about 3-4 minutes. If you also suffer with impatience, make sure you whisk it constantly or it will stick and/or burn.

After it has thickened, whisk in 2 c. of shredded cheddar. This soup is worth the effort of grating your own cheese. And you already have the grater/food processor out thanks to the carrots, right? I wasn't able to get a pic of the completed cheese sauce as it came together so fast, but you see the flour, butter, and milk below.

After the cheese sauce has been added to the soup, season it with salt and pepper and either serve all chunky, remove some chunks and puree the rest (my choice), or puree all of it. Become admired for your mad culinary abilities by friends and loved ones. (I can't promise the latter, but I would be willing to bet you a cup of this soup on it.)

Broccoli Cheddar Soup
Serves 4
  • 6 tbsp. butter, divided
  • ¾ cup onion, chopped
  • 1 cup carrot, chopped or shredded
  • 4 cups small broccoli florets
  • 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • ½ tsp. onion salt
  • ½ tsp. garlic powder
  • 4 tbsp. flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • Freshly ground black pepper
In a large stockpot or Dutch oven, melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat.  Add the onion to the pan and sauté until tender, about 5-7 minutes.  Add the carrots to the pan and cook a couple minutes more.  Stir in the broccoli, chicken broth, onion salt and garlic powder.  Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. In a medium saucepan, melt remaining butter.  Add the flour and cook for 1-2 minutes until golden brown, whisking constantly.  Whisk in the milk and cook until the mixture thickens and bubbles, about 5 minutes.  Once the mixture has thickened, whisk in the cheese until completely melted.  Remove from the heat and add the cheese sauce to the soup pot.  Allow to simmer until warmed through and broccoli is tender.  Season with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.  If desired, puree the soup with an immersion blender for a smooth texture.

Source: Annie's Eats

Monday, November 22, 2010

Almost-Sorta-Kinda Chick-fil-A Chicken Breasts

Who doesn't love a good knock-off recipe? I've tried several, but I was most excited about seeing a Chick-fil-A chicken sandwich knockoff in the July/August issue of Food Network Magazine. This is another perfect example of a recipe that I pulled out, but as it involves frying and malted milk powder, it probably wouldn't actually ever been made. Until now.

A couple disclaimers... I didn't follow the recipe as it was written. It would have never been made if I had because I just don't keep peanut oil or malted milk powder on hand. But regardless, let me tell you, the end result was still one tasty chicken breast. Let's begin, shall we?

Prepping the chicken: Salt and pepper your chicken well! I did not add enough, and that was the one thing it was really missing. Actually pat it into your chicken before adding the paprika so it has a chance of holding up to the milk bath. Another tip: don't double the egg or flour mixtures if you want to cook more chicken. I doubled it unnecessarily and wasted almost all that you seen shown below.

Get your oil heated to 325°. I use a thermometer to make sure the oil stays at about the right temperature, but that's just me. I'm a rule follower. Always have been. I'm also cheap and didn't want to use a ton of oil, so we just fried up one chicken at a time in a medium sized pot. If your pot is not tall enough, be prepared to clean up some oil spatter.

Four to five minutes later: one crispy piece of super tender, juicy chicken. We also didn't have buns (big surprise, eh?) :), but we were quite content to just eat it with a fork. But a butter-laden, toasted bun would be an amazingly delicious way to eat this.

Did it taste like Chick-fil-A? Not exactly, but I also didn't make the recipe as written, so the jury is still out. What I can tell you definitively is that the breading on this was delicious and that if I need to fry a chicken breast, I wouldn't hesitate to use this recipe again. If you happen to have malted milk powder and peanut oil, check out the original recipe here. If not, you're in good company. My adjusted recipe is below. Enjoy!

Almost-Sorta-Kinda Famous Chicken Sandwiches
Makes 4 Sandwiches

  • 2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts (about 6 ounces each)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • Vegetable Oil or Shortening, for frying
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup nonfat milk
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon confectioners' sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 sour pickle, cut into 8 slices, plus 1 tablespoon pickle juice from the jar
  • 2 teaspoons white vinegar
  • 4 soft hamburger buns, split
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
Cut the chicken breasts in half horizontally to make 4 thin cutlets. Place the cutlets between 2 pieces of heavy-duty plastic wrap and pound to 1/8-inch thick with a mallet or heavy skillet. Season the chicken with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon each pepper and paprika.

Heat about 2 inches of oil in a heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat until a deep-fry thermometer registers 325 degrees F. Meanwhile, whisk the egg, milk and 2 tablespoons water in a baking dish. Whisk both flours, confectioners sugar, baking soda, dry mustard, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon paprika and 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper in another dish. Toss the pickle slices, pickle juice and vinegar in a bowl and set aside.

Working in batches, dip the chicken in the egg mixture, turning to coat, then dredge in the flour mixture and shake off any excess. Fry the chicken in the hot oil until golden brown, about 4 minutes, adjusting the heat as needed. Drain on paper towels.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Spread the cut sides of the buns with some of the butter and lightly toast in the skillet, buttered-side down; spread with more butter. Put 2 pickle slices on each bun bottom; top with a piece of chicken and cover with the bun tops.

Source: Food Network Magazine, July/Aug 2010

Friday, November 19, 2010

Butterbeer: Sweet, Sweet, Butterbeer

Nate and I joined two friends for the 12:06 a.m. showing of Harry Potter last night. This is reason #386 why my blog is called what it is.

I saw a butterbeer recipe on Spork or Foon's blog several months ago and knew that it would be the perfect way to commemorate the beginning of the end of the Harry Potter movies. It has absolutely, positively no redeeming nutritional value whatsoever, is quite sweet, and a total indulgence. I have to imagine that the wizarding world would use some sort of fat- and calorie-inhibitor enchantment prior to consuming it, but as a Muggle, it's very much a special occasion drink. But the final installment of Harry Potter is an absolute special occasion, so drink it without guilt. That's what I did and it worked like a charm.

If you are planning to see the movie, or have already seen it and want to reminisce about the good old days when times were simpler for Harry, Ron, and Hermione, whip up a batch of these. Then savor it as both the drink and the movies will be over before you know it. Cheers!

Serves 4
  • 1 cup light or dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 6 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream, divided
  • 2 teaspoon rum extract (Dark Rum substituted just fine)
  • Four 12-ounce bottles cream soda, or one 2-Liter of cream soda

In a small saucepan over medium, combine the brown sugar and water. Bring to a gentle boil and cook, stirring often, until the mixture reads 240 F on a candy thermometer.
Stir in the butter, salt, vinegar and 1/4 heavy cream. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
Once the mixture has cooled, stir in the rum or rum extract.
In a medium bowl, combine 2 tablespoons of the brown sugar mixture and the remaining 1/2 cup of heavy cream. Use an electric mixer to beat until just thickened, but not completely whipped, about 2 to 3 minutes.
To serve, divide the brown sugar mixture between 4 tall glasses (about 1/4 cup for each glass). Add 1/4 cup of cream soda to each glass, then stir to combine. Fill each glass nearly to the top with additional cream soda, then spoon the whipped topping over each.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Super Simple Scrumptious Salsa

Try saying that five times fast!

I realize that my blog has featured salsa now three times, but this is one that I had to share and I would imagine will be the last salsa recipe for quite some time. And I think the saying "last but not least" totally applies here. It tastes as good or better than the best salsa I've had at any Mexican restaurant. Couple that with the fact that it starts out with canned tomatoes and can be whipped up in the food processor, you can quickly see why my post is titled Super Simple Scrumptious Salsa.

I bet you're thinking "canned tomatoes?". I did when I first read the recipe, but let me tell you, something magical happens when you add in the fresh jalapeno, cilantro, onion, sugar, salt, and cumin. Magic, I tell you, because it transforms canned tomatoes into something so delightfully fresh-tasting, it's really beautiful.

I'm sharing the recipe with my adjustments below, but if you want to make it as it was originally written, head over to The Pioneer Woman's site. A word of caution though: She keeps the seeds and membranes in the jalapeno, but having had to make a double batch just to adjust the heat, I would suggest starting with smaller amounts of jalapeno, and increase as needed to achieve the right level of heat for your taste buds. The heat also intensifies a bit after an overnight in the refrigerator.

**A handy print option has been added at the end of each post on my blog if you are interested in trying out a recipe I've posted. I ♥ fun new gadgets!**

Super Simple Scrumptious Salsa
(AKA Pioneer Woman's Restaurant Style Salsa)
Yields: Approx. 4 cups


  • 1 can (28 Ounce) Whole Tomatoes With Juice
  • 1 can (10 Ounce) Rotel (Diced Tomatoes And Green Chilies)
  • ¼ cups Chopped White Onion
  • 1 clove Garlic, Minced
  • ½ - 1 whole Jalapeno, Seeded, Quartered And Sliced Thin
  • ¼ teaspoon Sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon Salt
  • ½ teaspoon Ground Cumin
  • ½ cups Cilantro (more To Taste!)
  • ½ - 1 whole Lime Juice

Combine whole tomatoes, Rotel, onion, jalapeno, garlic, sugar, salt, cumin, lime juice, and cilantro in a blender or food processor. Pulse until you get the salsa to the consistency you’d like—I do about 10 to 15 pulses. Test seasonings with a tortilla chip and adjust as needed.

Refrigerate salsa for at least an hour. Serve with tortilla chips or cheese nachos.

Source: The Pioneer Woman

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Green Chile Chicken Soft Tacos and White Rice Pilaf

Turns out, I have to be careful what I post on here. My husband read my Roasted Tomatillo Salsa post in which I mentioned that I was excited about using it to top some enchiladas, and immediately after reading it, he asked when he could be expecting enchiladas for dinner.

As luck would have it, Rick Bayless has a recipe in his "Mexican Everyday" cookbook that actually incorporates the roasted tomatillo salsa. Whew. But it is not enchiladas. Sorry, honey. I had also wanted to try his recipe for garlicky white rice, so I figured that this was as good a time as any.

Armed with the recipes, I set to work. I got the rice ready to go in the oven, roasted poblano chiles under our broiler (a first for me and not nearly as intimidating or difficult as I thought it would be), chopped a white onion, and prepped my boneless chicken. About 45 minutes from when I started, we were ready to eat.

And eat we did. The lime juice and garlic glazed chicken was juicy and flavorful, although I could have been a bit more heavy-handed with the salt and pepper. I enjoyed the poblano/onion mixture (although my sister could've gone without the poblanos), and it was topped with that smoky tomatillo salsa and some sour cream. It sounds simple, but the combination actually made me enjoy the corn tortilla, which is a feat. 

The rice was very simple to throw together. It had a very mild garlic flavor, but most of the flavor came from the chicken broth and sauteed onions. I accidentally omitted the parsley at the end, which is a bit of a travesty for a number of reasons: it probably would've made it not only look more attractive, but given it that extra freshness the dish was lacking. My sister, Joy, found that adding the roasted tomatillo salsa directly to the rice fixed it and made it taste amazing.

It's not exactly the most colorful dinner, but sometimes you'll have that. I would tell you that we had a salad, or maybe some delicious black beans or refried beans that just didn't get pictured, but that would be a big, fat lie. Because the truth is, we just ate soft tacos and rice like it was our job. And it worked out just fine.

Green Chile Chicken Soft Tacos 
(Tacos de Pollo al Poblano)
Serves 3-4

  • 2 large fresh poblano chiles
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil (divided use)
  • 1 large white onion, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • Salt
  • 1 pound (3 medium-large halves) boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
  • Ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped or crushed through a garlic press
  • 12 warm corn tortillas, store-bought or homemade
  • About 3/4 cup roasted tomatillo salsa or guacamole, or bottled salsa or hot sauce, for serving
  1. Roast the poblanos over an open flame or 4 inches below a broiler, turning regularly until blistered and blackened all over, about 5 minutes for an open flame, 10 minutes for the broiler. Place in bowl, cover with a kitchen towel and let cool until handleable.
  2. Turn on (or adjust) the oven to its lowest setting. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a very large (12-inch) skillet over medium-high. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until golden but still crunchy, 4 to 5 minutes. Scoop into a heatproof serving bowl, leaving as much oil as possible in the skillet, and slide into the oven. Set the skillet aside.
  3. Rub the blackened skin off the chiles and pull out the stems and seed pods. Rinse the chiles to remove bits of skin and seeds. Cut into 1/4-inch strips and stir into the onions. Taste and season with salt, usually a generous 1 teaspoon. Return to the oven.
  4. Sprinkle both sides of the chicken breasts generously with salt and pepper.
  5. Return the skillet to medium heat. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil. When the oil is hot, lay in the chicken breasts. Brown on one side, about 5 minutes, then flip and finish cooking on the other side, about 4 minutes more. When the meat is done, add the lime juice and garlic to the skillet. Turn the chicken in the lime mixture for a minute or so, until the juice has reduced to a glaze and coats the chicken.
  6. Cut the chicken breasts into 1/4-inch strips and toss with the onion-poblano mixture. Taste and season with additional salt if you think necessary. Serve with the warm tortillas and salsa, guacamole or hot sauce for making soft tacos.
A Couple of Riffs on Chicken Tacos: Grilling the chicken breasts is a delicious alternative to pan-searing them, but you’ll miss the lime-garlic glaze. To solve that problem, I suggest you add the lime juice and garlic to the onions when they’re browned, cooking until the liquid has reduced to a glaze. (You may want to have a little extra lime and garlic for marinating the chicken breasts before grilling.) If chicken tenders are more easily available than the breasts, use them; cooking time will be shorter. Beef skirt or flank steak works well here too. And, of course, any of the large fleshy chiles (from Anaheims to red bell peppers) can stand in for the poblanos.
Brining for Even Better Chicken: At Frontera Grill, we use free-range chicken breasts, which might taste tough to some of our guests if we did not brine them. (Besides promoting tenderness, brining can help make ordinary grocery-store chicken breasts moister and more flavorful too.) To brine 4 chicken breasts (1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds total), mix together 2 cups water, 3 tablespoons Morton kosher salt and 2 tablespoons sugar in a large bowl. Slip in the chicken breasts, cover and refrigerate for 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from the brine and dry on paper towels; the chicken breasts are ready to use.

Source: Mexican Everyday by Rick Bayless

Gulf Coast-Style White Rice Pilaf
Serves 6-8
  • 1-1/2 Tbsp. vegetable or olive oil
  • 1-1/2 cups white rice (medium-grain)
  • 1 small white onion, chopped into 1/4 inch pieces
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped or crushed through a garlic press
  • 1-3/4 cups chicken broth
  • Salt
  • 3 Tbsp. coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley, for garnish
Turn on the oven to 350 degrees and position a rack in the middle. Set a medium (3 quart) ovenproof saucepan over medium heat. Add the oil, rice and onion. Stir frequently until the grains of rice turn from translucent to milky-white, about 5 minutes - for the whitest rice, they shouldn't brown. Add the garlic and stir a few seconds, until fragrant, then add the chicken broth and 1 tsp salt (that's what I usually need when using a normally salted broth). Stir a couple of times, then let the mixture come to a full boil.

Cover the pan and set in the middle of the oven. Bake 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let stand 5 minutes.

Fluff the rice with a fork and sprinkle with the chopped parsley.

Source: Mexican Everyday by Rick Bayless

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A Most AMAZING Fall Salad This salad is SO amazingly delicious. After inhaling it furiously, I considered licking the bowl. Yes, it is that good.

A little history: I had stopped into Whole Foods yesterday and was hanging out at the deli meat counter when I saw they were selling a cider-brined turkey breast. Intriguing.

Then I see a recipe for "Fall Harvest Salad" using said Cider-Brined Turkey Breast. SOLD!

Would this salad still be absolutely fantastic without the cider-brined turkey? Yes. Definitely. But if you happen to have a Whole Foods near you and need an excuse to pop in, here is your excuse. You can thank me later. ;)

I won't keep you in suspense any longer:

Fall Harvest Salad
Serves 4-6

  • 4 slices of bacon, sliced
  • 6 cups baby spinach leaves or greens of your choice
  • 8 slices Applegate Cider-Brined Turkey Breast or Turkey Breast of your choice, cut into strips
  • 4 slices of aged Cheddar Cheese, cut into squares (I used mild Tillamook Cheddar)
  • 1 medium apple, cored and sliced thinly
  • 1 cup pecans (or Trader Joe's dry roasted pecan pieces)
  •  1 shallot, minced
  • 2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. apple cider
  • 1 Tbsp. bacon drippings
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
Cook bacon in large skillet over medium heat until crispy. Let cool on paper towels. Reserve 1 tablespoon drippings. For dressing: add shallot, vinegar, cider, drippings, Dijon and honey to a small bowl. Slowly whisk the olive oil (or blend it with an immersion blender). Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add spinach or other greens to a large bowl. Add bacon, turkey, cheese, apple and pecans and toss with dressing.

Source: Whole Foods Market and Applegate Farms

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

Ahhh... the tomatillo. Something that I knew nothing about until, well, yesterday. And I still don't know much about them, but with a little help from Rick Bayless and his "Mexican Everyday" cookbook, I feel that we are now a bit more acquainted.

Tomatillos are a relative of the tomato, very firm to the touch, and come covered in a paper-like husk. They are extremely popular in Mexican cuisine and they happen to be the star of this salsa. Every salsa needs a star. Why let the red tomato always have all the fun? (Although I do have a delicious tomato-based salsa I will share on here at some point. It is so good.)

This recipe made my first tomatillo experience a success. The salsa was tangy, with a pronounced smoky, rustic flavor. It paired well with tortilla chips, but I am most excited about topping some enchiladas with it. If you are looking to break out of your traditional salsa fare, or just try out a new ingredient, this is muy bueno.

Start out by halving the tomatillos, then pan roasting the garlic and tomatillos over medium high heat in a nonstick pan. You could also pan roast the jalapeno, but I didn't think of that until after. Shoot.

After roasting 3-4 minutes per side, place the tomatillos and garlic in a food processor. Let sit for several minutes till they're about room temperature. Or at least until you prep the remaining ingredients.

Seed and chop a jalapeno. Remind self not to touch eyes for at least a day. Wash and rough chop cilantro.

Add the cilantro, jalapeno, about 1/4 c. of water, 1/2 tsp kosher salt and the juice of about 1/2 a lime to the food processor. Give it a whirl (or two).

Pour it into a bowl, add 1/2 of a small finely-diced white onion and grab a chip! Que bueno!

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa
Makes 1 1/2 cups
From Mexican Everyday
If all-raw tomatillo salsa is all light-fresh-immediate, roasted tomatillo salsa is richer and more settled, balancing freshness with the sweet caramel of pan-roasting. I love the way it perks up grilled steak tacos or makes a black bean tostada a dish to dream about. And a soft tortilla full of chorizo sausage and browned potatoes plays incredibly well with roasted tomatillo salsa. You can make the base of this salsa in advance—as much as several days. But I'd advise you to add the cilantro (finely chop it) and onion when you're ready to serve.
Makes 1 ½ cups
  • 4 medium (about 8 ounces total) tomatillos, husked, rinsed and halved
  • 2 large garlic cloves, peeled
  • Hot green chiles to taste (I like 2 serranos or 1 jalapeño), stemmed and roughly chopped
  • About 1/3 cup (loosely packed) roughly chopped cilantro
  • ½ small white onion, finely chopped
  • Salt
Set a large (10-inch) non-stick skillet over medium-high heat (if a non-stick skillet is unavailable, lay in a piece of foil). Lay in the garlic and tomatillos (cut side down). When the tomatillos are well browned, 3 or 4 minutes, turn everything over and brown the other side. (The tomatillos should be completely soft.)

Scrape the tomatillos and garlic into a blender or food processor, and let cool to room temperature, about 3 minutes. Add the chile, cilantro and ¼ cup water. Blend to a coarse puree. Pour into a salsa dish and thin with a little additional water if necessary to give the salsa an easily spoonable consistency.

Scoop the chopped onion into a strainer and rinse under cold water. Stir into the salsa. Taste and season with salt, usually about ½ teaspoon.          

Riffs on Roasted Tomatillo Salsa: Though it's common and easy to use small hot green chiles in this salsa, one of my favorite versions includes a whole roasted/peeled/seeded poblano chile coarsely pureed with the other ingredients. It may sound like heresy to Mexican cooks, but a dash of Worcestershire, balsamic or coarse-grain mustard is good in this salsa. If I'm serving this salsa with something off the grill, I'll slow-grill a large green onion or two (or just a slice of white onion), chop it and add it in place of the raw onion. To underscore the tomatillo's natural citrusy tang, I sometimes add a little fresh lime juice. Or go full-bore fruity and stir in finely chopped pineapple, apple or pear.

Friday, November 5, 2010

White Chocolate Bread Pudding

For full disclosure, the below recipe contains a lot of whipping cream, half and half, and a fair amount of white chocolate. Low fat, it is not, but if you even remotely enjoy bread pudding, this is one to try. It was sweet, but not overly so, with a deliciously crunchy exterior, and a soft and tender interior. The white chocolate sauce was creamy and had a great white chocolate flavor that complemented the bread pudding beautifully. It paired quite nicely with some fresh raspberries and Graeter's Black Raspberry Chip ice cream (not pictured). Without further ado...

Bread Pudding with White Chocolate
Serves 6 - 8

  • 3 ounces French baguette, torn into bite sized pieces (I cut about 3/4 of a large baguette into small pieces)
  • 1 1/2 c. half and half
  • 1/2 c. whipping cream
  • 4 oz. white chocolate
  • 1 egg
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
White Chocolate Sauce 
  • 3/4 c. whipping cream
  • 4 ounces white chocolate, finely chopped
  • Semisweet chocolate curls
  • Fresh mint leaves
  • Fresh raspberries
Preheat the oven to 350º. Grease 9" pan (I used a 10"x10" from King Arthur Flour). Place bread pieces in prepared pan and set aside. In large saucepan, heat half and half and 1/2 c. cream until hot, but not boiling.

Melt 4 ounces white chocolate in double boiler or in microwave. Watch carefully, white chocolate scorches easily. In medium bowl, beat egg, egg yolks, and sugar, until well blended. Whisk in several tablespoons of the hot cream mixture to temper egg mixture. Whisk tempered egg mixture into remaining hot cream mixture and stir in vanilla. Add melted white chocolate and whisk until blended. Pour over bread pieces and bake 35-40 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

In a small saucepan, beat 3/4 c. cream until hot, but not boiling. Add 4 ounces finely chopped white chocolate, whisking until melted and thoroughly blended. Cut bread pudding into wedges and top with White Chocolate Sauce. Garnish with chocolate curls, mint leaves, and raspberries. Bread pudding may be served warm or at room temperature. Sauce should be warm.

Source: Colorado Collage

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Paula's Black Bean and Corn Salsa

Let me start by saying this recipe is SO good. I mean really good. Fresh, a little smoky (thanks to the cumin) and a perfect choice to bring to a potluck, game, or a "bring a dish to share" event. But if you want to make it and hoard it all to yourself, I won't judge you. Not even a little. The original recipe is called "Spicy Black Bean and Corn Salsa", but it's a misnomer as this salsa is not spicy at all. I have therefore renamed it "Paula's Black Bean and Corn Salsa" as it was my friend Paula who introduced me to it. And every time I make it or eat it, I think of her.

This recipe comes from the Colorado Collage cookbook, which is a collection of recipes from the Junior League of Denver and one amazing cookbook. I've made and/or tasted probably 10 or more recipes from it and all of them have been delicious. That's a pretty good track record, I think, so you'll be seeing more from this cookbook for sure. But if you can't wait that long, this is one cookbook that I would wholeheartedly endorse buying for yourself. It's that good. Try this salsa. You'll see.

Black Bean and Corn Salsa 
 Makes 4 - 6 cups

16 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
16 oz corn, fresh or frozen and defrosted
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
1/4 cup chopped red onion
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
3 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 Tbsp cumin
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 cup seeded and chopped tomatoes

Combine all ingredients except the tomatoes. Cover and chill at least 2 hours, or overnight.
Just before serving, chop the tomatoes and fold into the corn and bean mixture. Adjust seasoning as needed, and serve with tortilla chips. 
 Source: Colorado Collage

Monday, November 1, 2010

Pineapple Skillet Cake

I reserved Rick Bayless' book "Everyday Mexican" from the library last week and found myself drooling over the recipes and pictures. Unsure of which recipe to make first, I ended up settling on the Pineapple Skillet Cake. The recipe seemed easy and straightforward, but it turned out to be a bit more challenging than I had originally anticipated. Here's how it went down:

I got 3 c. of fresh pineapple, butter and 1/2 c. of brown sugar ready:

The recipe calls for a large 10" oven-safe nonstick skillet, but I thought this would be the perfect recipe to use my cast iron skillet. If you don't own one of these, you really should consider getting one. When properly seasoned, they actually act like a nonstick pan, plus they work great on the stove or in the oven, and circulate and retain heat like it is their job. They are a true kitchen powerhouse.

Melt 6 Tbsp. of butter in the pan until it is browned. Be careful not to burn your butter! It took me about five or so minutes over medium heat.

Here's where it got confusing. The recipe says to move the browned butter to a bowl, then sprinkle the brown sugar evenly over the pan, and then top with an even layer of the pineapple. Easy enough, but while prepping the other ingredients do you leave it on the heat or take it off?? The book wasn't clear at all, so I left it on for about two minutes, and then turned it off while I prepped the remainder of the ingredients. Turned out, I could have left it on for several more minutes.

The recipe called for plain yogurt or buttermilk. I had nonfat Greek yogurt which I substituted. I whisked in the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, but I wish I had gone with my gut and added some cinnamon to those dry ingredients first. The cake was good, but would have benefited from a little extra something.

The batter was rather thick, which scared me because the recipe instructions state to "pour" the cake batter onto the pineapple/brown sugar mixture. There was no pouring to be had here. Just some very careful placement.

Post-careful batter placement:

This was ready after 32 minutes in the oven.

I had to resist the urge not to eat all the stuck-to-the-pan pineapple. It was hard. Really hard.

This cake is billed as a healthier cake due to the inclusion of white whole wheat flour, but the 6 Tbsp. of butter tells a slightly different story. I would say that it's definitely healthier than any other pineapple upside down cake I've made. The dessert overall was pretty good, but next time I will definitely add cinnamon and try the buttermilk to see if it makes the batter a bit more pourable. The cake was moist and thin enough that there were super yummy caramelly pineapple pieces included in every bite.

Pineapple Skillet Upside-Down Cake
Serves 8
  • 3 ounces (6 tablespoons) butter, preferably unsalted
  • ½ cup brown sugar (I prefer the dark brown variety)
  • 3 cups ½-inch cubed, cleaned pineapple (you’ll need about ¾ of a medium) OR 3 cups (about 1 pound) fresh or IQF raspberries, black berries, blueberries or pitted cherries OR 3 cups cubed, cleaned apple, pear, peaches, nectarines or mango (1/2-inch cubes are good)
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup whole wheat flour (or additional all-purpose flour)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¾ cup white sugar
  • 1 “large” egg
  • ¾ cup buttermilk or plain yogurt
  1. Turn on the oven to 375 degrees.  Melt the butter in a 10-inch skillet (preferably non-stick) with an ovenproof handle over medium heat.  Swirl the butter in the skillet until it turns nut-brown, then pour it into a large bowl.  Without wiping out the skillet, sprinkle the brown sugar evenly over the bottom.  Top with an even layer of the fruit.
  2. In another large bowl, whisk together the flours, salt, soda and baking powder.  Add the white sugar to the browned butter and whisk until thoroughly combined.  Whisk in the egg, then the buttermilk or yogurt. Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry ones.  Whisk to thoroughly combine. 
  3. Pour the batter evenly over the fruit in the skillet.  Slide the skillet into the oven and bake 25 to 30 minutes, until the cake is golden brown and springy to the touch at the center.  Remove and let cool 10 minutes.  Invert a plate over the skillet, then, holding plate and skillet firmly together with towels or pot holders, invert the two in one swift movement.  Remove the skillet and the cake is ready to serve.  It’s best right out of the oven.