Thursday, February 25, 2010

Turkey Pot Pie

Me and my husband have this little inside joke about pot pie, so I giggle every time I hear the words pot pie. Now if I told you the joke, it wouldn't be ours anymore. I roasted a turkey breast last weekend and had tons of leftover turkey. I took bits and pieces of a few recipes and threw this together on a weeknight. It didn't take long at all. Plus there wasn't much clean up. This came out very tasty. Way better than a frozen pot pie. I was actually surprised, since I always assumed pot pie was difficult to make. I was wrong. The vegetables were cooked perfectly—tender, but not mushy—and the gravy complemented the turkey wonderfully. The crust was nice and flaky. This was the perfect comfort food for a cold winter day.

Turkey Pot Pie
Inspired by Annie's Eats and Ina

2 - 3 cups shredded turkey breast
2 small-medium potatoes
1/2 cup peas (I used canned)
1 cup carrots (I used frozen)
1 cup corn (I used canned)

4 tablespoons salted butter
4 tablespoons flour
1 can chicken broth
dash of hot sauce
salt and pepper

I cheated and used a Pillsbury pie crust for the top only.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a pie dish with nonstick spray.

Wash potatoes and cut into bite-size chunks. (I left the skins on.) Bring to a boil and boil for 4 minutes. Drain. Add potatoes, corn, peas, carrots, and turkey to a large bowl and set aside.

Melt the butter over medium heat in a saucepan. Add flour and whisk until smooth. Whisk in the chicken broth and cook over medium heat until it thickens. Remove from heat and add hot sauce, salt, and pepper to taste.

Pour gravy over turkey and veggie mixture. Stir well and pour into pie dish.

Bake for 45 minutes. Place a cookie sheet under pie to catch spills. Use a pie crust guard or foil to shield crust from browning too much after 25 minutes.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Cheesecake Stuffed Strawberries

Randy loves strawberries—they're his favorite. When I saw this recipe on a fellow nestie's blog, I knew I had to make these for him. I forgot all about it until Valentine's Day rolled around. I wanted to make something other than cupcakes or cookies and these were screaming my name. They were the perfect dessert. If you love strawberries and cheesecake, what's not to love. They're like little bites of heaven. These weren't too time consuming either. I already have plans to make these again soon.

Cheesecake Stuffed Strawberries
source: The Novice Chef

24 fresh strawberries
Cheesecake filling (I used a box of Jell-o No Bake Cheesecake)
1 1/2 cups milk (per the directions on the box)
crushed graham crackers (included with mix)
1 square of chocolate almond bark (optional)

Wash strawberries and slice off the tops. Hollow out the strawberries. I used a potato peeler per the The Novice Chef and it worked perfectly! Turn the berries over on paper towels to dry. (I froze the strawberries pieces to make smoothies.)

Prepare the cheesecake filling per the directions on the box. Fill a decorating bag fitted with a tip or use a ziploc bag with the corner snipped off. Fill strawberries.

Place the crushed graham crackers on a small plate and dip the filled ends of each strawberry into the graham crackers.

If desired, melt chocolate in the microwave and spoon it into a ziploc bag. Snip off the corner and drizzle the chocolate on top of the strawberries.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Crab Cakes

We had to postpone our Valentine's Day dinner because we had to attend a 40th birthday bash last weekend, plus I had a lot of work to catch up on. When I asked Randy what he wanted for Valentine's Day dinner, he answered crab cakes. I made these last year for V-Day, back before I was blogging, and I wanted to make something different.

I tried to persuade Randy to change his mind, but he wasn't budging. I gave in and was really happy that I did, because these turned out to be the best crab cakes I have ever made. They were nicely seared on the outside and tender on the inside. The red pepper added a nice crunch. I like to taste the crab in them, so I didn't break up the crab too much, leaving nice big hunks of crab throughout. I served these with steamed clams, white rice, and a salad.

Crab Cakes
1 pound crab meat
1/4 cup red bell pepper, finely chopped
10 whole wheat Ritz crackers, finely crushed
4 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
(plus more to sprinkle on formed crab cakes)
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup bread crumbs
2 - 4 tablespoons butter (Do not use oil.)

Crush crackers in a baggie and set aside. Mix together red bell pepper, mayonnaise, mustard, garlic, Old Bay seasoning, and pepper. Add crackers and fold in crab carefully as not to break up the crab too much.

Form into patties. (I got seven.) Dip each side lightly in bread crumbs and sprinkle each side with Old Bay seasoning. Place in refrigerator for about one hour.

Remove from refrigerator and melt 2 - 3 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Sear for about 4 minutes on each side. Use care when flipping. Keep warm in a 200-degree oven if necessary. 

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Steamed Clams

We usually eat a lot of clams in the summer. It's a messy food to eat outside while enjoying a cold beer. We like to pull the clams from the shell and toss them in butter spiked with hot sauce. This is an easy side dish to whip up. It goes with just about anything from burgers to steaks to fish to shrimp. I made these as part of our late Valentine's Day dinner with a caesar salad, white rice, and crab cakes. If there are any leftovers, we use them in clam chowder or a clam sauce.

Steamed Clams
50 clams
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 cup white wine or beer (I use whatever I have.)
1/2 lemon

Rinse clams in cold water to remove any sand.
Place in the bottom of a large stock pot.
Add water, wine (or beer), and garlic.
Squeeze the lemon on top.
Cover and bring to a boil over high heat.
Steam for 10 minutes or until clams have opened.*
Serve with butter spiked with hot sauce.
*Discard any clams that did not open.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Beef Enchiladas

We love Mexican food. And enchiladas are our favorite. I usually make chicken enchiladas with salsa chicken, but I didn't want to wait for the chicken to cook. I decided on beef and added a few things I had in my pantry to mix things up a bit. These were delicious. I loved the sweetness the corn added, plus the slight kick of the green chiles. I think a chopped red or orange bell pepper would also work very nicely in these and add more sweetness and crunch.

Beef Enchiladas
1 pound ground beef
4 oz. can mild green chiles
1 can black beans, drained
1 can sweet corn, drained (or 1 cup frozen, thawed)
1 package taco seasoning
3/4 cup water
2 cans red enchilada sauce
1/2 - 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
6 flour tortillas (warmed so they are easier to roll)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Brown ground beef in a medium frying pan and drain excess grease. Add corn, black beans, taco seasoning, and water. Stir well and cook over medium heat about 5 minutes.

Spoon mixture into tortillas, top with about a tablespoon of shredded cheese, and roll up. Place rolled up tortillas in lightly greased baking dish. Repeat with the rest of tortillas. Pour enchilada sauce over rolled up enchiladas and sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.

Bake for 20 minutes.

Serve with salsa, hot sauce, and sour cream, if desired.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Shrimp Scampi

Shrimp scampi is one of my favorite meals. It's really easy to make, yet the majority of restaurants we go to always seem to mess it up. It's either flavorless, too lemony, too garlicky, or my pet peeve: They burn the garlic. If I want delicious scampi, I have to make it myself. I make this dish two different ways. Sometimes I throw everything together in a pan over medium heat on the stovetop and saute it and sometimes (when I'm feeling lazy) I throw it in a casserole dish and pop it in the oven. Whatever method is used always yields great results: Perfectly cooked shrimp in a light lemon-butter-garlic sauce. 

Shrimp Scampi
1/2 - 3/4 pound shrimp
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup chicken stock or white wine
2 - 3 tablespoons minced garlic
1/8 - 1/4 cup canola (or olive) oil
4 - 6 tablespoons butter
Salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, parsley (to taste)
1 tablespoon bread crumbs (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Clean shrimp and leave tails on.
Add all ingredients to a casserole dish.
Sprinkle bread crumbs on top.
Bake 20 minutes, until shrimp are no longer pink.
Serve over angel hair pasta with crusty bread to soak up the juice.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Ham & Pineapple Pizza

Ham and pineapple are my favorite pizza toppings hands-down. The sweet-sour-salty combo is so delectable. We make this pizza all the time because it's so damn good and super easy.

Ham & Pineapple Pizza
1 crust (homemade or store bought)
1 cup of sauce
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
6 slices deli ham, ripped into pieces
1 cup pineapple chunks

Preheat oven to temperature indicated on crust.
Spread sauce on top of crust.
Sprinkle three-quarters of cheese over sauce.
Top with ham and pineapple.
Cover with remaining shredded cheese.
Bake 10 - 12 minutes.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Crack Dip (Buffalo Chicken Dip)

It's called crack dip because one try and you're hooked. I first tried this dip at a potluck at my old job. (I really miss those potlucks, the job not so much.) What can I say about this dip? Every time I make it, people go nuts. It looks ugly and is not one of the healthiest things to put in your body. But it tastes just like a chicken wing dipped in bleu cheese dressing. This dip is creamy and spicy and addictive. It's a hit at a party!

Crack Dip (Buffalo Chicken Dip)
Source: adapted from Frank's RedHot

3 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
2 (8 oz.) blocks of cream cheese
1/2 - 3/4 cup Frank's RedHot Buffalo Wings sauce
1 cup bleu cheese dressing (or ranch)
1 cup shredded cheese
1/4 cup bleu cheese crumbles (optional)

Cook chicken breasts. (I poach them in the crock pot for 4 hours on low.)
Shred chicken with two forks and place in crock pot.
Add remaining ingredients to crock pot and mix well.
Cook on low for 1 hour and then keep on warm.
Serve with tortilla chips and celery.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Broccoli Pizza

We stop at the same pizza place a few times a month for a quick slice for lunch when we are out shopping or running errands. This particular pizza place has the best broccoli pizza. It's topped with broccoli, lots of garlic, and ricotta cheese—and is out of this world! I decided to try and copy the recipe and the results were great! It was cheesy-garlicky goodness. The crust was the only difference. I really have to conquer my fear of crust and try my hand at homemade.

Broccoli Pizza
1 crust (homemade or store bought)
1/4 - 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup broccoli, chopped
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 teaspoons canola oil   

Preheat oven to temperature indicated on crust.
Brush top of crust with canola oil.
Drop heaping tablespoons of ricotta cheese on top of crust.
Sauté broccoli with garlic and canola oil over medium-high heat.
Pour broccoli over ricotta.
Cover with shredded cheese and any remaining ricotta.
Bake 10 - 12 minutes.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Superbowl Cookies & Cream Cake

After taking the second Wilton cake decorating class, I was left with two egg-shaped cake pans. I put them to good use to make a football-shaped cake for the Superbowl. The pans are smaller and wider than my usual 8 X 8 rounds, so the cakes came out really high. I cut them in half lengthwise and ended up with four layers. I used three and froze the fourth to make cake balls at a later time. The cookies and cream filling took the Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate Cake to a new level. I really loved this filling and couldn't stop tasting it as I was whipping it together. This cake was well received, as not one piece remained.

Cookies & Cream Cake

2 cups sugar
1 and 3/4 cups flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk (I used vanilla almond milk.)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (I reduced this to 1 teaspoon.)
1 cup boiling water
16 - 18 Oreos twisted to separate cookies

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line bottoms of pans with parchment paper and spray with nonstick baking spray. Place cookies on bottoms of pans.

Whisk together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin) and pour batter into prepared pans.

Bake 30 - 35 minutes (mine took 45 minutes). Cool 10 minutes, remove from pans to wire racks, and cool completely.

Cookies & Cream Filling:
1 and 1/4 cups whipping cream
1/8 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
10 Oreos, chopped

Place bowl of electric mixer and whisk attachment in fridge for 30 minutes. Combine whipping cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla. Beat on low speed for 1 minute. Increase speed to high and whisk until stiff peaks form. Fold in chopped Oreos.

1 stick butter, melted
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Stir cocoa into melted butter. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk and beat well. Stir in vanilla. (Add a small amount of additional milk, if needed.)
To assemble cake:
Slice each cake in half lengthwise. (I only used three layers and froze the fourth for future use.) Fill first layer with a layer of cookies & cream filling. Place second layer on top. Fill second layer with another layer of cookies & cream filling. Top with third layer. Frost top and sides with chocolate frosting. Decorate as desired.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Easy Cheesy Chile Cornbread

I threw this together to go with the chili I made. I really just jazzed up a box mix. This cornbread paired nicely with the spicy chili. The cheese and peppers added a subtle flavor that made it more savory than sweet. This was a quick and easy side.

Easy Cheesy Chile Cornbread
1 box cornbread mix
1 egg, per box
3/4 cup milk, per box
1 (4 oz.) can green chiles
1/2 cup shredded pepperjack cheese

Preheat oven to temperature indicated on box (400 degrees). Spray an 8 X 8 baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Mix together cornbread mix, egg, and milk. Stir in chiles and cheese. Let mixture rest 5 minutes. Pour into baking dish and bake according to directions on box (18 - 20 minutes).

Monday, February 1, 2010

Snickerdoodle Cupcakes with Cinnamon Swiss Meringue Buttercream

I love cinnamon! It's one of my favorite flavors. I was racking my brain for something to bake on Sunday. I was thinking about cookies, but I didn't feel like rolling a few dozen cookies. I found this recipe and my cookie craving was cured. They had a nice cinnamon-sugar flavor and tasted just like snickerdoodle cookies. The cake was moist and a little dense. It held together well. I topped them with a cinnamon swiss meringue buttercream dusted with cinnamon-sugar. I'm not sure that this icing was the perfect complement. I think next time I will use my cinnamon cream cheese icing.

Snickerdoodle Cupcakes
as seen on Cate's World Kitchen via Martha Stewart
Yields: 12

1 and 1/2 cups flour
1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt (omitted)
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 stick salted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup milk (I used almond milk.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cupcake pan with 12 paper liners.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, and cinnamon and set aside. Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs and vanilla.

Add 1/3 of the flour mixture and half the milk. Beat until combined. Repeat with remaining flour mixture and milk, ending with the flour mixture. Beat well.

Fill the cupcake liners 3/4 full. Bake for 16 - 20 minutes. Cool in the pans for a few minutes and then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Cinnamon Swiss Meringue Buttercream
3 teaspoons meringue powder
3 tablespoons warm water
6 tablespoons sugar
1 stick butter, cut into 8 pieces (room temperature)
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla

In a large heatproof bowl (or stand mixer bowl) combine meringue powder, water, and sugar. Place bowl over saucepan of simmering water and whisk constantly until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and transfer to stand mixer.

Using the whisk attachment, whip mixture on high until it holds stiff peaks (about 6 - 7 minutes). Continue beating and add the butter a few pieces at a time. Add cinnamon and vanilla.
Continue beating until buttercream is thick, smooth, and glossy (about 3 - 5 minutes).*

*If mixture starts to look curdled, keep beating.