Friday, July 31, 2009

Spicy Chicken & Pasta Skillet

Two of my favorite foods are pasta & Mexican food. This recipe combines the best of both. It was a quick & easy dinner and was delicious! Enjoy!

Spicy Chicken & Pasta Skillet
Serves 4

1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 Tb. olive oil
1 cup small shells or mini bow-ties pasta, uncooked
1 cup salsa (I used pace medium)
1 cup corn, drained and rinsed
3 oz. cream cheese
1/4 tsp. cumin
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar or colby-jack cheese (or pepper jack if you want it spicier)
2 Tb. finely chopped cilantro
salt, fresh ground black pepper, garlic powder, and smoked paprika to taste
sour cream, sliced green onions, sliced olives, and cilantro (optional) for garnish

1. Cook pasta according to package directions
2. While pasta is cooking, coat chicken with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and smoked paprika to taste. Cook chicken over medium-high heat about six minutes, or until done (no longer pink in the center). Add salsa, corn, cream cheese, cumin, and cilantro. Simmer for 5 minutes, until cream cheese is melted.
3. Drain pasta. Stir pasta and 1/4 cup cheese into chicken mixture. Simmer for 3 more minutes, until cheese is completely melted.
4. Top with cheese, sour cream, olives, cilantro, and green onions.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Chocolate Hazelnut Gelato

For my birthday earlier in the month I got a Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker. I searched for several days for the perfect recipe to break in my ice cream maker. When I found this recipe on Proceed With Caution, I knew that I had found my recipe. It was amazing. Rich and creamy, chocolate, hazelnut goodness. Even if I never used my ice cream maker again (and don't worry, I have. Several times.) it would have been worth the $80 just to eat this gelato. It really is that good.

Chocolate Hazelnut Gelato
Adapted From: Giada De Laurentiis
Yield: 1 Quart

2 cups milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 can sweetened condensed milk
4 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup Nutella
2 Tb. hot fudge topping or chocolate syrup
1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts and/or mini chocolate chips (optional), for garnish

1. In large saucepan mix milk, cream and sugar over medium. Cook, stirring constantly, until sugar is dissolved (about 5 minutes).
2. In bowl of stand mixer, using a whisk attachment, whip egg yolks until thick and pale, 3-4 minutes. Add sweetened condensed milk and mix for 1 minute.
3. With mixer on low speed, pour about 1/2 cup of the warm milk and egg mixture into the egg mixture. Slowly pour the tempered eggs into the saucepan with the cream mixture. Stir constantly over very low heat until mixture thickens to a thin custard (it should coat the back of a spoon when it is dipped into the mixture), about 7 - 10 minutes.
4. Remove from heat and press through a strainer. Stir in the vanilla and nutella and stir until completely melted. Cool completely (about 1 hour in the fridge or 30 minutes over an ice bath). Pour into ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer's directions.
5. Serve, topped with hazelnuts and/or chocolate chips if desired.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

My Favorites: Pita Pizzas

Corey & I both work full time during the week, and neither of us are very good at eating a real lunch while we're at work. Usually by the time we get home we're both starving. Since we try not to eat out too often, we like to have a few good quick and easy recipes in our arsenal for those nights when we're too hungry to wait for dinner. This is one of our all-time favorites. The possibilities are endless, it takes only minutes to prepare, and is on the table quicker than we could go through a drive-thru. Did I mention that it's delicious? What's not to like!

Pita Pizzas
(ingredients needed per pizza/person)

1 pita
2-3 Tb. sauce
1/4 cup cheese
toppings of your choice

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line baking sheet with foil.
2. Spread sauce evenly on each pita. Top with cheese and choice of toppings.
3. Bake for 5-7 minutes, until edges begin to brown and cheese is melted.

Topping Ideas:

Barbecue chicken: barbecue sauce (I recommend Bullseye), mozzarella, smoked gouda, or cheddar cheese (or a combination), fully cooked diced chicken, thinly sliced onions, cooked and crumbled bacon, and cilantro.

Combo: pizza sauce, mozzarella cheese, pepperoni, olives, mushrooms, green peppers, onions.

Alfredo Tomato Ham: alfredo sauce, mozzarella and romano or parmesan cheese, thinly sliced ham, fresh sliced tomatoes, crushed red peppers.

Pesto Chicken: pesto, mozzarella cheese, fully cooked diced chicken, fresh sliced tomatoes.

Hawaiian: pizza or alfredo sauce, mozzarella and cheddar cheese, canadian bacon or thinly sliced ham, pineapple tidbits.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Triple Layer Strawberry Shortcake

Strawberry Shortcake is my very favorite dessert. We served it at our wedding and I happily ate leftovers for every meal for two weeks straight. Although my waistline didn't much like it, my taste buds were in heaven. I'm always looking for a new way to enjoy strawberry shortcake. About a month ago I decided to bust out one of my Christmas presents, Sky High: Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes. I found the recipe for angel food cake and knew that I had to try it as a triple layer strawberry shortcake. All I have to say is that Corey & I devoured this cake in less than two days...and it brought back lots of good memories from our wedding.

Triple Layer Strawberry Shortcake
adapted from Sky High: Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes

6 egg whites
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. cream of tarter
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. almond extract
2/3 cup cake flour
2/3 cup powdered sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/4 cups heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 lb. strawberries, hulled and sliced

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
2. Beat egg whites on high speed until light and frothy. Add granulated sugar and cream of tartar. Continue beating until soft peaks form. Add vanilla and almond extract.
3. In separate bowl, mix together the flour, powdered sugar, and salt.
4. With mixer on low speed, slowly add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture. Beat until just combined (be careful not to overmix).
5. Divide the batter between three ungreased (if you grease the pans the cake won't rise properly) 6-inch round cake pans (if you don't have 6-inch cake pans, you can divide the batter between two 8-inch round pans or one 6-cup tube pan).
6. Bake 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Invert pans onto cooling racks and cool completely. Remove from pans.
7. Beat whipping cream, sugar, and vanilla with mixer until soft peaks form.
8. Place one cake layer on serving dish. Top with 1/3 of the cream and 1/3 of the berries. Repeat with remaining layers. For best results, serve immediately or refrigerate and serve within 24 hours.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Shredded Pork Tacos

I love pork. I love tacos. I love pork tacos. Recipe partially from Everyday Foods.
Shredded Pork Tacos
Serves 4-6

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
2 bay leaves
Salt and pepper
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 3-4 pound pork roast, cut in half lengthwise
1 can (28 oz) whole tomatoes in juice
1-2 large chipotle chiles in adobo, minced (use more if you like it hotter, or less if not)
1 cup water
1-2 tablespoons honey
16 toasted corn tortillas (the small size)
1 cup shredded or crumbled cheese (I'd recommend queso fresco, but use what you like)
1 cup fresh cilantro


1- Heat oil in a large pot (5-6 quart)over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, thyme, oregano and bay leaves, put a little salt and pepper on for seasoning. Cook until the onion is softened, but not caramelized, 5 or so minutes.
2- Add the tomato paste, and stir it in until it's mixed with the onions and other ingredients.
3- Add the pork, tomatoes (try to break them up with a spoon when you add them) and the juice from the can, chipotle peppers, water, and honey. Stir together as best you can, bring to boil.
4- Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until the meat gets nice and tender (2-2.5 hours at least). Remove and discard the bay leaves.
5- Transfer the meat (using tongs fool!) to a large bowl. Shred it with two forks. Get rid of any large pieces of fat or gristle you find.
6- Return the (now shredded) meat to the pan, simmering it until the sauce gets thick (about 30-45 minutes). Taste it! (remember that it's hot!) Add more salt and pepper if you think it needs it.
7- Spoon the pork and sauce into tortillas, using two tortillas for each serving top with cheese and cilantro (and some mango salsa if you've got it). A side of black beans and rice never hurts either. Hot sauce is essential.
8- Eat for nutritional enjoyment.
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