Thursday, August 26, 2010

Chicken Salad with Tarragon

This is one of my favorite sandwiches courtesy of Ina Garten. It has a lot of memories for me: one of my Dad's favorite spices was tarragon. It reminded him of his years in France, since that is a french favorite. We found Ina's recipe and made it for a church luncheon where people loved it and we have both enjoyed it many times after that. Tarragon really adds a wonderful flavor that is second to none in this recipe.

It makes for moister, tastier chicken to cook bone-in, skin-on breasts in the oven and then cool and chop the chicken, however, I usually use what I have on hand which is of the boneless, skinless variety.

3 to 4 cooked and cooled chicken breasts
1/2 C mayonnaise
1 1/2 T chopped fresh tarragon leaves
1 C small-diced celery (2 stalks)
1/2 C to 1 C of green grapes, sliced in half
salt and pepper to taste

Cut chicken into a 3/4-inch dice. Place in a bowl; add the mayonnaise, tarragon leaves, celery, grapes, salt and pepper and toss well. Serve as a salad, or fill up your favorite rolls.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Jen's Lemon Bars

This a recipe I got from my good
friend and neighbor Jen.
They are simple and fantastic all at the same time.
The crust has a shortbread quality to it and the filling is super lemony!
This is my go-to recipe, since I always have the ingredients on hand
and they just hit the spot.

Jen's Lemon Bars:

2 c. flour
1 c. butter
3/4 c. powdered sugar
1/2 t. salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine until a dough forms. Spread dough (I use my hands) into a sheet cake pan, the one I use is 13x15, but larger would work too.
Bake crust for 13-15 minutes.

4 eggs
2 c. sugar
4 T. lemon juice
1 t. lemon extract (I added this because I like intense lemon flavor, it's optional)
1/2 t. baking powder
1/4 c. flour

Mix all ingredients for the filling together. When smooth, pour onto the hot crust and return to the oven for 20-25 minutes, until light brown and filling is set.

Sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired.

Bon Appetit!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Banana Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

If your house is anything like mine - you've got lots of banana's in need of use.
I make banana bread on a regular basis, along with banana muffins and smoothies...ho hum.
This recipe is a breath of fresh air for my
freezer full of bananas!
Since it incorporates a fruit, I consider it healthier than say, chocolate cake.
Add some cream cheese frosting and it is over the top!

Banana Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting:

Banana Bars:
1/2 c. butter, softened
1 1/2 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 c. sour cream
2 t. vanilla
2 c. flour
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1 c. or 4 ripe bananas

1 (16 oz) container cream cheese frosting, or homemade cream cheese frosting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 10x15 inch jelly roll pan (mine was 13x17 and worked just fine.)
In a large bowl, cream the butter, sugar and eggs. Add the sour cream, bananas and vanilla. When incorporated, add the flour, baking soda and salt.
Spread evenly into the prepared pan.
Bake for 20-25 mins until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow bars to cool completely before frosting.
Cut and enjoy!

***Chef's Note: I am always amazed at how many people don't know that you can freeze your over-ripe bananas. They work perfectly for banana bread, muffins, smoothies and this cake! I won't lie...they are ugly, but you can thaw them in the microwave and use them in any recipe calling for ripe bananas:)

Bon Appetit!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Chicken in Lemon Cream with Penne

I get hooked on one cookbook and everything I cook comes from it for a while. Yes, Giada again. There are no changes here except I added some cornstarch to thicken the sauce. It was not as much creamy, but rather runny before the miracle of the thickening power of cornstarch helped it out.
It has a lovely, fresh lemon flavor which tastes great on a warm summer night-- or any night. Herbes de Provence sounds fancy, but it can be picked up at any grocery store in the spice aisle.

1 lb penne pasta
3 T olive oil
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, diced into 1" cubes
1 tsp Herbes de Provence
pinch of salt, plus 1/2 tsp
pinch of pepper, plus 1/4 tsp
1 C chicken broth
2 C heavy cream
zest of one lemon
pinch of cayenne pepper
1/4 C fresh, flat-leaf parsley
1 T freshly squeezed lemon juice

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a skillet over med-high heat. Season the chicken with the Herbes de Provence and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Take the chicken out of the skillet and set aside. Pour off any excess oil from the pan. Add the chicken broth to the pan and cook over med-high heat, using a wooden spoon to scrape the brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Add the cream, lemon zest, and cayenne. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for about 10 minutes
. ( At this point, I dissolved about 1 T of cornstarch in a little cold water, or you could us chicken broth, and stirred it into the sauce.)

Add the pasta, chicken, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper, chopped parsley, and lemon juice. Toss to coat the pasta and chicken with the sauce and serve. Bon Appetit!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Peanut Sesame Noodles

This is a recipe I've adapted from The Pioneer Woman.
She called her recipe Simple Sesame Noodles.
You may look it up if you'd like, the changes I made were subtle.
You could add chicken to this dish for a more "manly" meal,
but mine was working, so I didn't need to worry about his needs:)
I added 1 T. peanut butter to the sauce
and chopped peanuts as a garnish.
Both could be left out if you have nut allergies to consider.
On with it...
Peanut Sesame Noodles

12 oz, fluid thin noodles, cooked and drained (angel hair pasta is what I used)
1/4 c. soy sauce
2 T. sugar
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 T. rice vinegar
3 T. pure sesame oil
2 T. sweet chili sauce (this will still have some heat to it, despite the word "sweet")
6 T. canola oil
2 T. hot water
1 T. creamy peanut butter
4 green onions, sliced thin, to garnish
1/4 c. dry roasted peanuts to garnish

Whisk all ingredients (except noodles, green onions and peanut butter) together in a bowl. Taste and adjust ingredients as needed.
Pour sauce over hot noodles and toss to coat.
Sprinkle with green onions and peanuts, toss.

Bon Appetit!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Paula Deen's Gooey Butter Cake

Very few chef''s do "butter" better than Paula.
I knew that I would love this recipe before it was made.
I was not disappointed!
The recipe says to bake it for 40-50 mins, I checked it at 45 minutes
and wished I'd checked 5 minutes sooner.
Make sure the center is slightly giggly when you take it out:)

Paula Deen's Gooey Butter Cake:

1 yellow or white cake mix, dry
1 egg
1 stick of butter, melted

1 8oz package of cream cheese, softened
2 eggs
1 t. vanilla
1 stick of butter, melted
1 16 oz (1lb) box of powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine cake mix, egg and butter in a bowl. Mix well with an electric mixer. Pat the mixture into the bottom of a lightly greased 9x13 inch pan. Prepare filling.

In another large bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the eggs, vanilla and butter. Beat together. Next, add the powdered sugar and mix well.

Spread filling over the cake batter and bake for 40-50 mins. Make sure not to over bake as the center should be a little gooey.

Bon Appetit!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Creamy Orzo

I really love this recipe from Giada. The creaminess reminds me of a speedy risotto-- comfort on a plate. If you haven't cooked with Orzo before, it is a fun change from other pasta noodles.

1 lb orzo pasta
2 T olive oil
1 large shallot, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes, juices drained
1 1/4 C of whipping cream
1 C frozen peas, thawed

3/4 C freshly grated Parmesan
salt and pepper

Bring a heavy large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the orzo and cook until tender, but still firm to the bite, stirring often, about 8 minutes. Drain, reserving one cup of the cooking liquid.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the shallot and garlic, and saute until tender, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook until they are tender, about 6 minutes. Stir in the cream and peas. Add the orzo and toss to coat. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the Parmesan to the pasta mixture, continue stirring until the sauce coats the pasta thickly, adding enough reserved cooking liquid to maintain a creamy consistency. Season with salt and pepper. Bon Appetit!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Paula Deen's Southern Peach Cobbler

Apparently great minds think alike: Tamara and I must have been channeling peaches! This is different from any cobbler I have made before-- maybe that's what makes it southern, who knows. This cobbler is definitely best made and eaten the same day--there is so much moisture in it from the peaches and juice and butter that it doesn't keep as well the next day. But since it is made in an 8X8 pan, it shouldn't be a problem to eat it in one day. I cut back some of the sugar and butter from the original recipe and it still tastes great.

4 C of peaches, sliced and peeled (I'm sure canned peaches would be fine too, but drain them)
3/4 C sugar
1/2 C water
Combine all together in saucepan. Stir. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put 6 T of butter in an 8X8 pan. Put in the oven to melt the butter.

In a bowl, mix together until smooth:
1 1/2 C flour
3 tsp baking powder (unless you are using self-rising flour then omit)
3/4 C sugar
1 1/2 C milk

Pour batter over the melted butter. Do not stir. Carefully spoon the peaches onto the batter, then gently pour the syrup over top. Sprinkle with cinnamon. The batter will rise to the top as it bakes. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes. Cool and serve with whipped cream or ice cream.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Peach Crisp...Cobbler...Crumble.

My intention was to take a captivating picture of this creation once it was plated up with a generous scoop of whipped cream...but literally, before I knew it - the pan was empty.
So, while this picture does nothing to visually inspire you to make it,
let me mention a couple of things.
1. I am the ONLY one in my family who enjoys peaches...
yet there was nothing left.
2. One-dish dessert.
3. I used...shhhh...canned peaches.
4. You likely have everything you need in your house to make this, right now.
'Nough said.

Peach Crisp...Cobbler...Crumble...whatever you want to call it.
3-15 oz cans of peaches with juice (you could easily use 4 cans or 2-27 oz cans)
1/4 c. brown sugar
1 t. cinnamon
1 t. nutmeg (I didn't have any so I used "apple pie spice")
1 t. cornstarch
1 yellow, white or vanilla cake mix, dry
1/2 c. butter, melted
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Pour peaches with juice in a 9x13 inch pan. Sprinkle with cinnamon, nutmeg and cornstarch. The sprinkle the brown sugar over the peaches.
Next, sprinkle the dry cake mix over the peaches to cover. Drizzle the melted butter on top of the cake mix.
Place in preheated oven and bake for 40-45 minutes or until the top is browned.
Let it cool then serve with whipping cream.
Bon Appetit!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Creamy Cheesy Bruschetta

Like my grandfather before me, I love the clearance produce deals at the grocery store. Yesterday I found a package of 8 tomatoes for $1.50 and had to come home and do something with a few of them right away. These are really quick and tasty; a great thing to have with a salad in the summer for dinner.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut baguette into 3/4" pieces. Toast pieces lightly in the oven. Take out and set aside.

2 medium tomatoes, diced into bite-sized pieces. I like to cut the tomato in half and squeeze out most of the seeds before I dice.
1/2 C (or more) of grated cheddar cheese
2 T of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 C mayonnaise
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
dash of pepper

Mix all ingredients together and spread on the baguette toasts. If you like, grate a little more Parmesan on the top, and then put back in the oven for around 6 minutes or so to warm the topping and melt the cheese. Eat warm. Bon Appetit!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Oreo and Fudge Ice Cream Cake

Unfortunate picture...
I was trying to take a picture, while 5 kids were nipping at our heals.
Fortunate recipe find!
Very yummy cake!
It is beyond easy and a nice change from regular cake.

Oreo and Fudge Ice Cream Cake:

1/2 c. hot fudge topping, room temp
1 - 80 oz tub of Cool Whip, divided
1 - 3 oz pkg. instant chocolate pudding
12 Oreo cookies, chopped or smashed:)
12 vanilla ice cream sandwiches, unwrapped

Pour hot fudge topping a medium size bowl, add 1 c. Cool Whip, mix until well blended. Add dry pudding mix. Mix for 2 minutes, then add chopped up cookies. Set aside.

Arrange 4 of the ice cream sandwiches, side by side on a 24 inch piece of aluminum foil. Top with half of the cookie mixture. Repeat layers. Top with remaining 4 ice cream sandwiches. Frost top and sides with remaining Cool whip. Bring up foil sides and loosely fold ends of package.
Freeze at least 4 hours before serving, preferably over night.

Here is the "how to video" if you'd like to see it done.

Bon Appetit!

Oven Roasted Broccoli

I love the way oven roasted vegetables taste but for some reason, I have never tried Broccoli this way--until now. I am Addicted!! It is so good that if someone asked me if I wanted this broccoli or some chocolate, I would have to side with the broccoli.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Broccoli-- whatever amount, but into florets and then washed and patted dry.

Put the broccoli on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Then sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Cook for 15 minutes. You don't need to turn over-- just leave it. Some of the edges of the florets will be dark and crispy, but it tastes amazing.

Place on a plate or serving tray and grate some fresh Parmesan over top. I made it two nights in a row; once with the addition of some lemon zest which was really good, but I think I prefer just the Parmesan.