Monday, February 23, 2009

Pulled Pork Tacos

Pulled pork tacos are so tender and tasty. This recipe is so simple to make because you throw all the stuff in the crock pot and a couple hours later you have moist pork for tasty tacos. This meal goes great with a hard cider. I personally love Hornsbys.

Pulled Pork Tacos
Serves 6 to 8
You will need:
  • 2 cups salsa
  • 2 T chili powder
  • 2 T dried oregano
  • 2 T unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 to 2 pounds of boneless pork shoulder, trimmed of excess fat

For serving:

  • salsa
  • fresh cilantro
  • green onion
  • lime wedges
  • sour cream
  • cheddar cheese

In a 4 to 6 quart crock pot, combine the salsa, chili powder, oregano, cocoa and salt. Add the pork and turn to coat. Cook, covered, until the meat is tender and shreds with a fork, high for 4 to 5 hours or low for 7 to 8 hours. Warm tortillas before serving. Shred apart the pork and stir into the cooking liquid. Serve with salsa, cilantro, green onion, lime wedges, sour cream and cheddar cheese. Enjoy!

Cranberry Chocolate Oat Bars

These bars are so delicious that they are guaranteed to not last more then two days around your house. They make a great dessert and a sweet breakfast treat. Yum!

Cranberry Chocolate Oat Bars
You will need:
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cups quick baking oats
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup margarine, softened
  • 1 1/3 cups packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided
  • 2/3 cup craisens, divided
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x13 baking pan with cooking spray. Combine flour, oats, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside. Beat margarine and sugar until creamy and smooth in a large bowl. Add eggs one at a time and beat until well blended. Slowly stir in the flour mixture, 1/2 cup of chocolate chips and 1/3 cup of craisens. Continue stirring until well blended. Spread dough into prepared pan. Sprinkle evenly with remaining craisens, chocolate chips and nuts (if desired). Bake for 28 to 32 minutes or until a deep golden brown.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Cheese Fondue (fancy swiss)

This fondue is a very Delicious Swiss based fondue. It is a recipe I came up with after finding that several just weren't quite right. This fondue takes about ten to 15 minutes to make, but requires slightly nicer cheese than is found in a bag of Kraft. Most grocery stores should have these types of cheeses. If not, move to a bigger city ;)

Fancy Swiss Cheese Fondue
Serves 4
You will need:
  • 1 clove of garlic, halved
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • ¼ cup Sherry
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3 ounces Emmenthaler cheese or any type of Swiss, cubed
  • 3 ounces Gruy√®re cheese, cubed
  • 3 ounces Raclette cheese, cubed
  • 3 ounces Fontina cheese, cubed
For Dippers:
  • 1 loaf French or sourdough bread, cut into bite-size pieces
  • broccoli florets
  • cauliflower
  • carrots
  • apples
  • mushrooms
  • yellow squash
  • zucchini
  • cucumber
  • green onions

Rub the halved garlic on the sides if the fondue pot, set aside garlic and chop for addition later. Melt the butter in fondue pot over medium-low heat. Whisk in the flour. Constantly whisk for 1 minute or until the mixture is smooth and begins to bubble. Slowly whisk in the Sherry. Whisk in the milk. Bring the sauce to a gentle simmer.

Slowly add the cheese, stirring until all the cheese has melted and the mixture is smooth (you may need to add a little more milk if the mixture becomes too thick). Season the fondue to taste with the garlic.Transfer the fondue pot over a canned heat burner to keep it warm. Enjoy!

Cheese Fondue (simple cheddar)

Again, my kitchen lighting stinks. No real photos to give, but that is the type of fondue pot I own. This cheddar cheese fondue is one of the cheaper versions to make and really easy. It takes about 5 minutes to make and doesn't take fancy cheese. This is also from the Melting Pot cookbook, with some changes.

Cheddar Fondue
Serves 4
You will need:

  • 3 cups shredded cheddar cheese (plus more if needed)
  • 3 T all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup hard cider (Strongbow brand recommended)
  • 2 tsp finely chopped shallots
  • 2 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 2 T craisens (optional)
  • 2 tsp crushed walnuts (optional)

Recommended dippers :

  • 1 loaf French or sourdough bread, cut into bite-size pieces
  • broccoli florets
  • cauliflower
  • carrots
  • apples
  • mushrooms
  • yellow squash
  • zucchini
  • cucumber
  • green onions

Toss the cheese with the flour in a bowl. Set aside. Heat fondue pot over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and pour in the hard cider. Stir in the shallots, mustard and craisens (if using). Stir with a fork or whisk, constantly for 30 seconds.

Add in half of the cheese and cook until the cheese is melted, stirring constantly. Add the remaining cheese a small amount at a time, stirring constantly. After all the cheese is melted add in the pepper. Keep fondue warm over low heat and garnish with nuts if desired.

Chocolate Fondue

I love love love all things fondue! If I have had you over for dinner, you have probably had fondue. This lovely recipe comes from the Melting Pot cookbook. It is a very basic recipe for chocolate fondue, but very yummy. An aside, I hate the lighting in my kitchen at night, so the photo is borrowed until I can get a better photo.

Original Chocolate Fondue
Serves 4
You will need:
  • 8 oz milk chocolate finely chopped
  • 2T heavy cream (plus more if needed)
  • 2T chunky peanut butter

Combine the chocolate and cream in your fondue pot (or double boiler if your pot can't go on the stove) Heat until the chocolate is melted, stirring constantly. Be careful not to let the chocolate burn. Add in the peanut butter and stir until blended. Add in more cream as needed if it is too thick. Keep fondue warm over medium heat.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Chocolate Panini

I am always looking for a quick easy dessert to make after dinner to satiate my husband's need for chocolate. These paninis might seem a bit strange, but they are actually quite tasty and very quick to make.

Chocolate Panini
Serves 2 to 4
You will need:
  • 4 slices of whole grain white bread
  • 2 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate, chopped

Form two sandwiches with the bread and the chocolate. Transfer to a hot panini press or a George Forman type grill and cook until the bread is golden and the chocolate has melted. It will take about 2 to 3 minutes. You could also make these in on a hot skillet and flip once, pressing down frequently.

*The first time I made these, I made just one sandwich and we split it.

Chocolate Pecan Pie

In the pie class we took for Thanksgiving we also made this delicious Chocolate Pecan Pie. I am a huge fan of pecan pie and an even bigger fan of chocolate, when the two are combined it is quite the delicious treat.

Chocolate Pecan Pie
Yields 6 servings
You will need:

For the pie crust -
  • 1 cup plus 2T of all-purpose flour
  • 1/2tsp kosher salt
  • 1tsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup (one stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
  • ~3 T ice water

For the filling -

  • 1/2 cup (one stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1T Bourbon
  • 1tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans

For the crust - Combine flour, salt, and sugar in the container of a food processor. Pulse once or twice to mix. Add the butter, pulse until the butter and flour are blended and the mixture looks like cornmeal, about 10 to 15 seconds. If you don't have a food processor, we did this all by hand. Just mix the butter in with your hands until you reach the desired consistency.

Sprinkle 3T COLD water over the dough and pulse just until the dough comes together. If the mixture seems too dry, add more water a tsp at a time. Wrap in plastic, flatten into a small disk, and freeze for 10 minutes (or refrigerate for 30 minutes), this will ease the rolling.

Roll out, with a little extra flour to prevent sticking, until almost 10 inches in diameter. It will need to be equal or less then 1/4 inch thickness. Transfer to a pie plate, form edges, and then freeze for about 10 minutes. Prick the crust all over with a fork when you are ready to fill it.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place a baking sheet in the oven.

For the filling - Stir butter and chocolate in a heavy saucepan over low heat until melted and smooth. Remove from heat and cool for 10 minutes.

Whisk sugar and eggs in a medium bowl to blend. Whisk in the chocolate mixture, then Bourbon, vanilla, and salt. Stir in the pecans (filling will be very thick). Spoon filling into crust. Place pie on baking sheet in the oven.

Bake until edges of filling puff and begin to crack and center is set. About 30 to 45 minutes. Transfer pie to rack and cool completely.

***NOTE: Pie is not done until the pie looks dry and caramelized. If the pie still looks wet it is not done.***

Apple Pie with Tart Cherries and an Apple Cider Crust.

For Thanksgiving we decided to take a pie baking class at Whole Foods. What fun it is to make a pie from scratch and have it taste great. This particular recipe was created by our instructor, Chef Allison Heaton, for a pie contest. She won a $25,000 prize to the culinary school in New York! I have to say it is one of the best apple pies I have ever had. I think the Makers Mark makes a big flavor difference.

Apple Pie with Tart Cherries and an Apple Cider Crust

by Chef Allison Heaton

Yields 8 servings
You Will Need:
For the Filling -
  • 4 Granny Smith or Fuji apples
  • 4 Braeburn Apples
  • 1T fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1T cinnamon
  • 1tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2T all-purpose baking flour
  • 2T cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup Makers Mark (apple cider can be used in place of)
  • 6oz dried tart cherries unsweetened (optional)

For the Dough -

  • 3/4 cup apple cider, chilled
  • 3/4tsp Kosher salt
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole grain pastry flour
  • 1T sugar
  • 1T ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup lard or shortening, chilled
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, chilled

For Pie Assembly -

  • 1T unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
  • 1 egg white, mixed with 1T water
  • 2T coarse sugar

Pastry Dough - Place a medium bowl into the freezer to chill. In another bowl, stir salt into the apple cider until dissolved. Chill.

In the chilled empty mixing bowl, combine flours, sugar and cinnamon. Using your hands, break up lard and butter into flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal. **This must be done quickly so that the shortening and butter do not warm too much from your hands. ** Stir in the apple cider mixture until combined. **Be careful not to overwork the dough.** Divide the dough in half. From one half remove another portion to be made into decoration. Flatten all three portions into 1-inch thick disks. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour.

Filling - Peel, core, quarter and slice apples into 1/4 inch thick pieces. In a saute pan, combine apples, lemon juice, sugars, spices and salt. Cook over medium heat until the apples have released their juices and are slightly softened.

In a small bowl, whisk flour and cornstarch into bourbon (Makers Mark), creating a slurry. Raise the heat on the apples to bring the mixture to a boil. While stirring, slowly pour in the Bourbon slurry. Continue to stir until the sauce has thickened. Remove from heat and allow the mixture to cool. Stir in dried cherries.

Assembly - Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Roll out the first piece of dough on a lightly floured surface until 13-inches wide. Transfer to a 9-inch diameter pie dish. Spoon filling into bottom crust, mounding in the middle. Dot with pieces of butter. Roll out the second piece of dough on a lightly floured surface until 11-inches wide. Transfer to pie by rolling the dough onto a rolling pin, position pin on top of pie, and unroll dough over the top. Trim the edges of both crusts to 3/4 inch overhang. Fold under dough and crimp decoratively. Roll out the third, smaller, piece of dough. Cut out shapes using a knife or cookie cutter dipped in flour. Brush the bottom of each shape egg white mixture and place on pie. Make four slits in the crust to allow steam to escape.

Brush entire pie surface with egg white mixture and sprinkle with coarse sugar. Chill finished pie in freezer for 15 to 20 minutes.

Place pie in the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees F. Bake until the apples are tender and the juices are thick, approximately 50-55 minutes. Transfer pie to a rack and let cool for 1 hour. Enjoy!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Baked sweet potato fries

I strongly dislike sweet potatoes. Unless they are these delicious oven baked sweet potato fries. I think it is because the texture and flavor are different.

Sweet Potato Fries
You will need:
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled
  • cooking spray
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp cumin

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Slice the sweet potato into the desired size fries. I think that smaller ones cook better than larger wedge fries. Combine the cinnamon and cumin in a bowl. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Lay the potatoes on the sheet in a single layer. Spray the potatoes with cooking spray. Sprinkle mixture on top of the potatoes, toss to coat evenly. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until baked through, turning every 5 to 10 minutes.

Chicken and Basil Calzones

This is a nice and simple recipe for a quick lunch. The leftover calzones save well and can be reheated in the oven in about 10 minutes. This is a modified recipe from Cooking Light.

Chicken and Basil Calzones
4 servings
You will need:
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 to 2 cooked chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 3/4 cup pizza sauce
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 can refrigerated pizza dough
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1/2 to 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add chicken and saute until the chicken is warm. Stir in the pizza sauce and red pepper flakes. Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Stir in basil. Let stand for 10 minutes.

Unroll the dough onto a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Cut the dough into quarters. Pat each square into an 8x6 rectangle. Divide chicken mixture among squares. Top eack with 2 to 4 T of cheese. Fold dough in half over filing, pinch edges to make a seal. Bake at 425 degrees for 12 minutes or until golden. Reheat leftovers at 350 for 10 to 12 minutes.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Vegetable Pakora

I'm not big on fried things but these battered and fried veggies are SOOOOO good! They go wonderfully with chutneys (two are listed in separate posts below). We actually liked these pakora so much that we have made them on two separate nights...that means a lot. Sacrificing something new so that we can have these again!

Just a note: The chickpea flour is much easier to find that expected. Look for Besan or Garbanzo bean flour in your grocery store near the specialty flours. Most places carry this because it's gluten free. If we can find it at the grocery store in my SMALL town anyone should be able to find it ;) Unless you are masochistic, I would STRONGLY discourage making your own flour by grinding dried chickpeas!

You will need:
  • 1 C chickpea flour
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 3/4 C water
  • 1 quart oil for deep frying
  • 1/2 head cauliflower florets
  • 2 onions, sliced into ~1/4 inch square pieces
Experiment with other vegetables. We've also done broccoli, zucchini, and yams.

1) Sift the chickpea flour into a medium bowl. Mix in the coriander, salt, turmeric, chili powder,garam masala, and garlic.
2) Make a well in the center of the flower. Gradually pour the water into the well and mix to form a thick, smooth batter.
3) Over medium high head in a large, heavy saucepan, heat the oil to 375 degrees F (190 deg C).
4) Coat the vegetables in the batter* and fry them in small batches until golden brown, about 4 to 5 minutes. Drain on paper towels before serving.

*We've found that dicing all of the vegetable into small pieces and mixing them together into the batter and forming them into balls about 1 - 1.5 inch diameter works out the best; this isn't really the cleanest or easiest batter to work with but it's VERY delicious.

Onion Chutney (Restaurant Style)

This chutney goes very well with the Pakora but you need to like raw red onions for this one.

You will need:
  • 1 C red onions (finely chopped)
  • 1/2 C tomato paste
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp oil
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • salt to taste ( ~1/2 tsp)
  • 1/2 tsp garlic paste
  • Cilantro for garnish
1) Heat the oil for few seconds.
2) Put everything except onion (and cilantro) in oil. Simmer sauce for few minutes and let it cool.
3) Mix sauce with onion (and garnish with cilantro). Serve chilled.

Red Onion Chutney

This Chutney also goes well with the Pakora. It's also not as strong because the onions are cooked.

You will need:
  • 2 Cups finely chopped red onion
  • 1/2 C red wine vinegar
  • 1/3 C packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1Tbsp minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
1) Bring all ingredients to a boil in a medium saucepan.
2) Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes.
3) Uncover and cook 10 minutes or until liquid almost evaporates.
4) Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce

A couple friends from work and I have decided to enhance our cooking repertoire so we've started getting together about once a week and having "cooking night". It's really been a lot of fun and we are making things that I probably wouldn't have ventured to make on my own. Cooking and learning with friends makes the experience SO enjoyable and food seems to taste even more amazing as well ;)

This recipe has to be one of my favorites that we have made thus far! SOOOOO delicious!

You will need:

3 Tbsp lime juice
1 tsp curry powder
2 tsp honey
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/8 tsp salt
2 cloves garlic, freshly chopped
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into 1-inch cubes
Peanut Sauce (below)

Step One:

Mix all ingredients except chicken and Peanut Sauce. Place chicken in resealable plastic food-storage bag or shallow glass or plastic dish. Pour lime juice mixture over chicken; stir chicken to coat with lime juice mixture. Cover and refrigerate 2 hours, stirring occasionally.

Step Two:

If using bamboo skewers, soak in water at least 30 minutes before using to prevent burning.

Step Three:

Make Peanut Sauce.

Step Four:

Set oven control to broil. Spray rack in broiler pan with cooking spray. Remove chicken from marinade; reserve marinade. Thread chicken on eight 8-inch skewers, leaving space between eachpiece. Place skewers on rack in broiler pan.

Step Five:

Broil with tops about 3 inches from head 4 minutes. Turn; bruch with marinade. Broil 4-5 minuteslonger or until chicken is no longer pink in center. Discard any remaining marinade. Serve chicken with sauce.

Peanut Sauce

You will Need:
  • 2/3 C vanilla yogurt
  • 1/4 C creamy peanut putter
  • 1/4 C coconut milk (not cream of coconut)
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp red pepper sauce (you can use more and hotter sauce per your taste.)
Beat all ingredients with wire whisk.

Spiced Coconut-Red Lentil Soup

The weekend after New Years I decided to attempt a new soup recipe and this turned out to be the PERFECT one. I found this recipe in the Oct 2008 edition of Cooking Light. It is really easy and really good.

You will need:
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 2 C chopped onion
  • 1 Tbsp minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 C fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 C dried small red lentils
  • 1/2 C water
  • 1 C light coconut milk
  • 3 Tbsp chopped fresh basil
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Step One:

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion; cook 12 minutes or until golden. Stir in ginger and next 4 ingredients (through garlic); cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add broth, lentils, and 1/2 cup water; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 25 minutes or until lentils are tender.

Step Two:

Remove from heat; let stand 5 minutes. Place half of lentil mixture in a blender. Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters). Blend until smooth. Pour pureed mixture into a large bowl. Repeat procedure with remaining lentil mixture. Return pureed mixture to pan. Stir in milk and remaining ingredients; cook over medium heat 2 minutes.

Moroccan Country Bread

To accompany the lentil soup recipe above I decided to make this bread. I had NO idea how easy AND delicious this would be. I ended up cutting the ingredients to make only 2 loaves instead of the full 3...I just can't eat that much bread on my own. The measurements you need make this recipe for two loaves are included in brackets at the end.

You will need:
  • 1 1/2 packages dry yeast (about 1 Tbsp)
  • 2 1/2 C warm water (100 - 110 deg)
  • 31.5 ounces all-purpose flour (about 7 cups) plus 2 tsp, divided
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • Cooking Spray
  • 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Step One:

Dissolve yeast in 2 1/2 cups warm water in a large bowl. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Stir salt into yeast mixture. Gradually stir in 7 cups flour, one cup at a time; beat with a mixer at medium speed until dough forms a ball. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface; shape dough into a 12-inch log. Divide dough into 3 pieces; shape each piece into a (4-inch) dome-shaped loaf. Place loaves on a baking sheet lightly covered with flour; dust tops lightly with 2 teaspoons flour, and lightly coat with cooking spray. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 1 hour or until doubled in size. (Gently press two fingers into dough. If indentation remains, dough has risen enough.)

Step Two:

Position oven rack in lower third of oven. Preheat oven to 350°.

Step Three:

Uncover loaves, and brush each with 1 teaspoon oil. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until sounds hollow when tapped (bread doesn't brown). Remove from oven; cool on wire racks.

[Ingredients to make 2 loaves:
1 package dry yeast
1 2/3 C warm water (100 - 110 deg)
21 ounces all-purpose flour (about 4 2/3 cups) plus 2 tsp, divided
1 1/3 teaspoons kosher salt
Cooking Spray
2/3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil]

Monday, February 2, 2009

Spicy Black Bean Hummus

I love black bean hummus! Want to know why it is better than regular hummus? There are no chick peas/garbanzo beans. So when I saw this recipe I decided it needed some modifying and it would be delicious.

Spicy Black Bean Hummus (modified from Cooking Light)
Serves 4
You will need:
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 2 T fresh lime juice
  • 1 T tahini (you can find it with the peanut butter)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 15oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 small jalapeno, quartered
  • Dash of red pepper flakes
  • Box of Peppridge Farm wheat crisps of tortilla chips with no salt

Place the garlic in a food processor or tall cup of the magic bullet. Process until finely chopped. Add remaining ingredients (except wheat crisps or tortilla chips) and process until smooth. Serve with the crisps or tortilla chips.