Sunday, March 28, 2010

BBQ Potato Chip Chicken

I'm always looking for creative ways to use up leftovers and spice up ordinary dinners. Randy came up with this idea when he reached into a bag of potato chips and found that they were stale. I was going to make pretzel chicken, but he gave me this idea instead. The BBQ chips gave the chicken a crunchy, smokey coating that was delicious. This is an easy recipe that requires only three ingredients. 

BBQ Potato Chip Chicken

3 chicken breasts
1/2 cup ranch dressing
1 cup Middleswarth BBQ Potato Chips (crushed)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
Brush chicken with ranch dressing.
Dip chicken in crushed chips.
Bake for 30 minutes.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Eggplant Parmesan

I love eggplant. On our anniversary I tried an amazing eggplant rollatini
dish at a favorite restaurant. It was so good! I didn't have enough time to tackle the rollatini, so I made eggplant parmesan instead. I was really nervous to make this, since eggplant can sometimes turn out mushy. This, however, came out crunchy and not mushy at all. It was so delicious—even reheated the next day for lunch. I loved this meal and so did my husband, who's not really a huge fan of eggplant. I've been dreaming of it ever since. 

Eggplant Parmesan
Inspired by: Annie's Eats 

1 eggplant (about 1 pound)
2 eggs
1/2 cup flour
1 cup plain breadcrumbs
1 - 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
2 - 3 tablespoons canola oil
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
favorite sauce (I use jarred—and I'm not even sorry.)

Slice eggplant crosswise into 1/4 inch slices. Arrange eggplant slices on a baking rack directly in sink to catch liquid (or over a pan or towel). Salt each slice liberally to allow the eggplant to release its liquid. (This takes about 20 minutes per side.) Wipe salt off each slice with a paper towel. Flip slices over and repeat process.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Whisk eggs together in a bowl. Pour flour onto a plate. Mix together bread crumbs and Italian seasoning and pour onto a plate. 

Dredge eggplant in flour, then eggs, then breadcrumbs. Repeat process with remaining eggplant slices.

Preheat oil in a large skillet on high heat. Fry each eggplant slice 1 - 2 minutes per side until golden brown. Transfer slices to an ungreased baking dish. Bake for about 20 minutes. Sprinkle with cheese during the last 2 - 3 minutes of baking. Serve with your favorite sauce.    

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Guinness Cupcakes with Baileys Buttercream

I, too, jumped on the St. Patrick's Day bandwagon and decided to make the Irish Car Bomb cupcakes. I left out the ganache filling, so technically these were chocolate
stout cupcakes topped with Baileys buttercream icing. I sent these to work with Randy and his coworkers devoured them as usual.

I wasn't really that impressed with the cake part of the cupcake. The cupcakes didn't really rise and stuck to the cupcake liners. The flavor was good, though. I did make a few changes as indicated in red, so maybe that was where I erred. Now the icing is a different story. If you like Bailey's, then you'll love this icing. It was so good that I couldn't stop "tasting" it. 

Guinness Cupcakes with Baileys Buttercream
Source: Smitten Kitchen
Yields 24 cupcakes

Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes
1 cup stout (I used Guinness.)
2 sticks butter (I used salted.)
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder 
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt (I omitted since I used salted butter.)
2 eggs
2/3 cup sour cream (I used reduced fat.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cupcake pan with 24 liners.

Bring beer and butter to a simmer in a saucepan over medium heat. Add cocoa powder and whisk until mixture is smooth. Cool slightly.

Whisk together flour, sugar, and baking soda and set aside. Beat together eggs and sour cream in another large bowl. Add chocolate mixture and beat to combine. Add flour mixture and beat briefly on slow speed. Using rubber spatula, fold batter until completely combined.

Fill cupcake liners about 2/3 full. Bake about 15 - 17 minutes. Cool cupcakes on a wire rack.

Baileys Buttercream
4 cups powdered sugar
1 stick butter (room temperature)
4 - 6 tablespoons Baileys Irish Cream

Cream butter until smooth. Add powdered sugar one cup at a time and Irish cream until desired consistency is reached. Beat well. Ice cupcakes and enjoy.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Baby Cakes

One of my coworkers announced that she's pregnant and I decided to make some cupcakes to celebrate. (Congrats Marie!) I had planned on making Irish Car Bomb cupcakes for St. Patrick's Day, but I nixed that idea. I used an idea from the cooking board that I frequent. I also used a new vanilla cupcake recipe and I was disappointed once again. They baked up nice, but they were dry. I'm still on the hunt for that perfect vanilla cupcake recipe, so if you have one, please pass it along! I topped the cupcakes with a vanilla swiss meringue buttercream and like always, it didn't disappoint.

Baby Cakes
Design: Stephanie Cooks via Taste and Tell
Vanilla cupcake recipe: Chef Mommy via JoyofBaking

Vanilla Cupcakes (Makes 12)
1 stick butter, room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 and 1/2 cups flour
1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt (I omitted because I used salted butter.)
1/4 cup milk (I used almond milk.)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a cupcake pan with 12 cupcake liners.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl and set aside.

Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time. MIx well and beat in vanilla.

With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and milk, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.

Fill the cupcake liners 2/3 full and bake for about 18 - 20 minutes. Cool in the pan for a few minutes, then transfer cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely.

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

Continue beating until buttercream is thick, smooth, and glossy (about 3 - 5 minutes).*
*If mixture starts to look curdled, keep beating.

To Decorate:
1 tube of brown (or black) frosting gel
1 tube green (or blue or pink) frosting gel
12 life saver candies
Copper gel coloring

Dye the frosting using the copper gel.
Spread icing on cupcakes.
Using the brown frosting gel, make two eyes on each cupcake.
Stab the cupcake where you will put the life saver with a knife.
Press life saver in hole. Draw smile on both sides of life saver.
Using the green frosting gel create an oval around life saver.
Refrigerate to set.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Chicken & Mushrooms

I had some leftover wine (I know!) and mushrooms in the fridge that I needed to use up, so I decided to throw in some chicken and make it a meal. This is an easy, light dish. The sweetness of the wine balances out the lemon and herbs. It's delicious. 

1 pound chicken breast
1 1/2 cups white mushrooms, sliced and washed
1 cup white wine (I used a semi-sweet.)
1/2 lemon
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon rosemary
1 teaspoon minced garlic
3 tablespoons butter
salt & pepper to taste

Cut chicken (if desired) into small bit-sized pieces.
Saute chicken in canola oil in a skillet over medium-high heat, until no longer pink.
Add mushrooms, wine, lemon, thyme, rosemary, garlic, salt, and pepper. 
Simmer over medium-high heat for a few minutes until sauce reduces.
Add butter and continue cooking until butter is melted.
Serve over pasta.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Princess Crown Cake

I made my four-year-old little cousin, Julia, a cake for her birthday and she was so excited. Her parents told me her favorite colors were purple and pink and that she likes princesses. That's all I had to go on. 

I made her a chocolate cake filled and frosted with marshmallow icing. I decorated it with a pink and purple princess crown to go with her princess outfit. Check out her purple hair and wings. Isn't she just the cutest? Happy Birthday Julia!

She loved the cake! She put her fingers in it before it was even on the table. Remember when you were that excited for cake?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Baked Creamy Chicken Taquitos

We eat a lot of Mexican food—the usual tacos, enchiladas, and quesadillas. When I saw this recipe, I was drooling. I love taquitos, but I don't eat much fried food. It's not good for the figure or for those of us missing a gallbladder. I loved that these were baked instead. While they weren't as crispy as fried taquitos, they still had a nice crunch to them, even after being reheated the next day for lunch. The filling is what really blew us away. It was awesome, even better than the chicken filling at out favorite Mexican place (sorry, La Tolteca). We also really enjoyed the different flavor the green salsa added. This is a versatile recipe and will work with many types of fillings. I can't wait to experiment.

Baked Creamy Chicken Taquitos
Adapted from Pennies on a Platter

3 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
4 oz. cream cheese, softened (I used Neufchatel)
1/2 cup green salsa
1 tablespoon lime juice 
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon onion salt
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 cup shredded cheese
10 small flour tortillas (taco size)
kosher salt
cooking spray

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Lightly spray two cookie sheets with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, mix the cream cheese, salsa, lime juice, ground cumin, chili powder, onion powder and garlic. Add chicken and cheese and mix thoroughly.

Heat tortillas in the microwave until they are soft enough to roll (about 10 - 20 seconds).

Spoon 2 - 3 tablespoons of the chicken mixture onto the lower third of a tortilla. Roll the tortilla as tightly as you can.

Place the rolled tortilla seam side down on the baking sheet. Repeat. Make sure taquitos do not touch. Lightly spray the tops with cooking spray and sprinkle with kosher salt.

Bake for 15 – 20 minutes or until crisp and golden.

Serve with salsa, sour cream, and hot sauce. 

Monday, March 1, 2010

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

My husband has been asking me to make him double chocolate chip cookies—for just him. He says I've been baking too much for other people and not enough for him. The funny thing is he doesn't like chocolate. But then he requests not just chocolate, he wants double chocolate. I don't know about him sometimes. These were very good, not too chocolatety. The white chocolate chips balanced these nicely. They were, however, sweet which is perfect for me. I love anything sweet, including my husband.

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from Beantown Baker

2 cups flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt (I omitted because I used salted butter.)
2 sticks butter (softened)
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips (I had leftover.)
16 oz. package white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, and baking soda in a bowl and set aside.

Using a stand mixer, beat together butter, sugars, and vanilla until creamy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Slowly add flour mixture in two or three additions.

Stir in chocolate chips with a wooden spoon. Roll dough into balls and flatten slightly.

Bake for 9 minutes on ungreased cookie sheets. (My cookies were large and needed about 13 - 15 minutes). Cool on baking sheet for a few minutes and then transfer to wire cooking rack.