Thursday, January 28, 2010

Fiesta Stuffed Chicken

We eat a lot of chicken. Chicken is very versatile. You can bread it. You can grill it. You can fry it. You can bake it. You can marinade it. You can stuff it. You get my drift. I really like stuffed chicken. It's a nice surprise when you cut into chicken and something oozes out. I really wanted Mexican when I came home tonight, but I didn't want tacos, quesadillas, or enchiladas. I decided to try something new. I stuffed a chicken breast with salsa and cream cheese. I breaded it and tossed it in the oven. It was creamy-spicy deliciousness. Very tasty and easy to whip together on a weeknight. I served it with black beans and rice. 

Fiesta Stuffed Chicken

3 chicken breasts
1/2 block (4 oz.) cream cheese (I used Neufchatel)
1/4 - 1/2 cup salsa
1/2 package taco seasoning
1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
1 egg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Spray the bottom of a baking dish with nonstick spray.
Mix together taco seasoning and bread crumbs.
Cut cream cheese into cubes.
Cut a slit in the middle of each chicken breast.
Stuff chicken with a cube (or two) of cream cheese.
Add salsa to fill slit and close slit.
Beat egg and dip chicken in egg and then bread crumb mixture.
Place in baking dish slit side up.
Bake 30 minutes.
Serve with salsa on top.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Hot Honey Garlic Chicken Wings

My husband broke out the Winganator this past weekend.
It's actually a Rival "Wing It" deep fryer made for frying chicken wings that Randy calls the Winganator. I got it for him the Valentine's Day right before we got engaged in 2006. I gave him the gift of deep frying and he gave me an engagement ring. I think we both won.

Randy has been dying to make fresh chicken wings since football season started. We were in the grocery store and he stated yet again, "We have to make fresh wings." I stopped him right there and demanded to know what these fresh wings were. He explained that fresh wings taste much better than the frozen ones. I didn't argue and he got his fresh wings. 

He tossed the wings in a sauce close to the one we always get at one of our favorite restaurants called The Tipsy Turtle. It was a nice mix of heat, sweet, and garlic. No kissing after these wings.

Hot Honey Garlic Chicken Wings

1 dozen fresh chicken wings
1/2 cup Frank's RedHot Buffalo Wings sauce
1 tablespoon garlic
1 and 1/2 tablespoons honey
salt & pepper, to taste
vegetable oil, for frying

Fill Winganator (or deep fryer or deep pan) with vegetable oil.
Preheat oil to 375 degrees. Salt and pepper wings.

Drop wings carefully in fryer. Fry for 10 minutes. Remove wings from fryer and drain on paper towels.

Combine hot sauce, garlic, and honey in a large bowl and mix well. Toss wings in sauce to coat. Transfer wings to a 250 degree oven to keep warm between batches.

Here's a cute picture of my husband wearing my apron
while he was deep frying the wings.

(notice the cans of beer in his pockets)

Monday, January 25, 2010

Mac & Cheese

I'm not a huge fan of homemade mac and cheese. It's usually oily, too thick, or has no flavor. I never made it myself, so I really have no room to talk. Well, until now. I have to say while this was good, it was a little too thick. I'm guessing it needed more milk or less cheese. I'll have to play with this recipe a little until I perfect it to my liking. Otherwise, this was really good for my first try—flavorful and not oily.

Mac & Cheese
adapted from Family Circle, Oct. 17, 2009 issue

1 pound macaroni (I used shells)
16 oz. shredded cheese
(4 oz. pepper jack, 4 oz. monterey jack, 8 oz. sharp cheddar)
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon onion salt
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 - 2 tablespoons bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a baking dish with nonstick spray.

Bring a pot of salted water to boiling. Add pasta and boil for 8 - 10 minutes. Drain pasta and set aside.

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Whisk in flour until smooth and bubbly. Pour milk in a thin stream into saucepan and whisk until well blended. Stir in onion salt, salt, pepper, and paprika. Bring mixture to a boil. Remove from heat and whisk in 12 oz. of cheese.

Pour cheese sauce over pasta and mix well. Transfer to baking dish and top with remaining cheese and bread crumbs.

Bake for 20 - 30 minutes.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Mocha Latte Cupcakes with Coffee Swiss Meringue Buttercream

I love mocha lattes. I get one every time we go to Starbucks. So when I saw these I was intrigued. I was a little hesitant to make swiss meringue buttercream. First, it's much more complicated than regular buttercream. Second, it would mean unpacking my KA stand mixer. (Yes, I've been married over two years and have not opened her until today. We're very tight on space where we live. But now that she's out, she's out to stay.)

The extra work is oh so worth it. Swiss meringue buttercream is very light, less sweet, and has a whipped cream consistency. I love buttercream, but I really liked the lightness of the swiss meringue buttercream. I'm so happy that I was able to conquer this icing without any problems, especially since it was the first time I used my stand mixer. This icing perfectly complemented the light, moist cupcakes. The cupcakes and icing had a strong coffee flavor, which is what I was looking for in this recipe. I didn't want the chocolate to overpower the coffee flavor. 

Mocha Latte Cupcakes with Coffee Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Source: Living Eventfully
makes about 16

1 and 1/3 cups flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt (I omitted because I used salted butter.)
1/2 cup half & half (I used plain almond milk.)
1/2 cup very strong brewed coffee (room temperature)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 stick butter (room temperature)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 egg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line cupcake pans with liners.

In one bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and baking soda and set aside. Measure out the milk, coffee, and vanilla together into a measuring cup.

In another bowl, beat butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add the egg and mix well. Alternately add the flour mixture, then the coffee mixture, ending with the flour mixture.

Fill cupcake liners about 2/3 full. Bake about 15 - 18 minutes. Cool completely before frosting.

Coffee Swiss Meringue Buttercream
6 teaspoons meringue powder
6 tablespoons warm water
3/4 cup sugar
2 sticks butter, cut into 16 pieces (room temperature)
2 - 3 tablespoons strong brewed coffee (room temperature)

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

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Pretzel Chicken

I needed an easy way to use up the leftover pretzels I had from making the pretzel chocolate chip cookies last Sunday. I asked my fellow nesties for some ideas and they delivered. This was a quick and easy dinner that required only four ingredients. This chicken came out very juicy and the pretzels created a nice salty crust on top.

Pretzel Chicken
Inspired by Oishii

4 thinly sliced chicken breasts
3 tablespoons dijon mustard
2 cups pretzels
2 - 3 tablespoons canola oil

Place pretzels in a zip lock bag and close tightly.
Pound pretzels with a mallet until coarsely crushed.
Pour pretzels onto a plate.
Brush chicken with dijon mustard.
Dip chicken in pretzels.
Heat canola oil over medium heat in a skillet.
Cook chicken about  6 - 8 minutes on each side.
Serve with dijon mustard.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Shrimp Stuffed Zucchini Boats

My mother-in-law made this recipe for us last week and I've been dreaming about it ever since. This was one of the best dishes I've tasted in a long time. The zucchini was cooked perfectly and was filled with a mix of vegetables and shrimp that were sautéed in butter. A creamy mornay sauce finished the "boats." I was so happy that my attempt yielded such perfect results. These were heavenly.

Shrimp Stuffed Zucchini Boats
Adapted from The Grand Diplome

3 medium zucchini
1/2 pound cooked shrimp, tails removed
1/2 green bell pepper
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon paprika
salt & pepper, to taste

Mornay Sauce:
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 and 1/4 cups milk (I used skim.)
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1/4 shredded cheese (I used leftover queso fresco.)
1 teaspoon dijon mustard

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Prepare Zucchini: Boil zucchini for 5 minutes in salted water. Drain and blanch in cold water for 2 minutes. Cut zucchinis in half lengthwise and scoop out flesh. Chop flesh and set aside. Arrange zucchini "boats" in baking dish sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.

Prepare Filling: Chop pepper and shrimp. Melt butter in a saucepan over high heat. Sauté pepper for 2 - 3 minutes. Add chopped zucchini, shrimp, paprika, salt, and pepper. Cook an additional 2 - 3 minutes. Spoon mixture into zucchini boats.

Prepare Mornay Sauce: Melt butter in a saucepan over high heat. Stir in flour. Remove from heat when foamy and stir in milk. Bring to a boil and keep stirring mixture for about 2 minutes until thick. Remove from heat and stir in cheeses and dijon mustard. Spoon sauce over filled zucchini halves and sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon parmesan cheese. Bake for 10 - 12 minutes.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Pretzel Chocolate Chip Cookies

There is nothing that I adore more than cookies, especially chocolate chip cookies. I love trying new variations, so when I saw this recipe I knew I had to try it sooner than later. The salty-sweet combination made this cookie so scrumptious that I had to hide them—before I devoured them all. I think the next time I make these, I'm going to add peanut butter chips.

Pretzel Chocolate Chip Cookies
Source: Beantown Baker via Culinary in the Desert Country!

2 and 1/3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt (I omitted since I used salted butter.)
1 and 1/2 sticks butter, room temperature
1 cup packed dark brown sugar (I used light brown sugar.)
1/2 cup granulated white sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups pretzel sticks, crushed
2 cups bittersweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Whisk together flour and baking soda and set aside.
In another bowl, beat together butter and sugars until creamy.
Add eggs, one at a time, and mix well.
Add vanilla and mix well.
Add flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat until well combined.
Stir in pretzels and chocolate chips.
Drop dough by tablespoons onto ungreased baking sheets.
Bake for 9 to 13 minutes until lightly brown on the edges.
Remove from oven and let cool for 2 minutes on baking sheets.
Transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


I hated meatloaf growing up. My mom used to make it with tons of onions. It was dry and I refused to eat it. My husband loves meatloaf. When we first met, I told him I would never make it for him. So he made it for me. And I didn't hate it. I actually really liked it. He found a recipe in a magazine from Heinz and adapted it to our tastes. It has a sweet glaze that is balanced by the salty bacon and crunchy green peppers. I can't believe I didn't like meatloaf before.

Adapted from Heinz

2 pounds ground beef
6 - 8 slices uncooked bacon
1/2 cup bread crumbs
2 eggs
1/3 cup worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup Heinz ketchup
1 teaspoon onion salt
1 teaspoon garlic (minced or powder)
1/4 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
ground black pepper

1/4 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon yellow mustard 
3 tablespoons brown sugar
Combine above ingredients and mix well.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Spray the bottom of a baking dish with nonstick spray.
Combine all meatloaf ingredients, except bacon.
Mix with hands to combine.
Place mixture in pan and shape into a loaf.
Top with glaze.
Place strips of bacon on top. 
Bake 1 hour - 1 hour and 30 minutes.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Brown Sugar Cupcakes

Since a few weeks have passed since the holidays, I feel it is safe to bake again. I bookmarked a recipe for these brown sugar cupcakes a long time ago and found it when I was looking for something new to bake. I love brown sugar. I love its texture and flavor. I love that it looks like sand. I knew right away that I would enjoy these cupcakes. And I did. And so did everyone that was lucky enough to get to try them before they were all gone. My cousin, who just broke her ankle and is homebound, declared these her favorite cupcake of all time. That made me almost as happy as eating one of these tasty treats. Note: Don't let the very thick batter scare you. These baked up beautifully with nice little domes on top.

Brown Sugar Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
Source: The Sweetest Kitchen
*Changes in red.
Yields 16 cupcakes

1 1/2 sticks butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 1/3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt (I omitted because I used salted butter.)
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon.
Measure out milk and vanilla together.
In another bowl, beat butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy.
Add eggs and beat well.
Add part of the flour mixture to butter mixture and beat to combine.
Alternately add milk and then flour mixture, ending with flour mixture.
Bake for 15 - 18 minutes, until golden brown.
Cool and top with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Mexican Stuffed Shells

It's no secret that we love Mexican food. Randy requested stuffed shells for dinner, but I wasn't feeling like Italian. I wanted Mexican. I improvised and came up with this dish. It satisfied both of our cravings. These were really good, especially topped with salsa and a dollop of sour cream. They are time consuming, but they make enough for lunch and dinner the next day. You can also freeze the leftovers. 

Mexican Stuffed ShellsIngredients:
Box of large shells
2 pounds of ground beef
4 oz. can mild green chiles
1 package taco seasoning
3/4 cup water
1 can black beans
2 cans red enchilada sauce (or green)
1 cup queso fresco, crumbled
1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
cumin and ground black pepper, to taste
salsa and sour cream, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Spray baking dishes with nonstick cooking spray.
Boil shells according to directions on package.
Drain, rinse with cold water, and set aside.
Brown ground beef.
Add green chiles halfway through browning.
Drain beef mixture.
Return to pan and add taco seasoning and 3/4 cup water.
Cook 3 - 5 minutes.
Drain beans and add cumin and ground black pepper to taste.
Add beans to beef mixture.
Spoon mixture into shells with queso fresco.
Top shells with enchilada sauce and cheddar cheese.
Bake 40 - 50 minutes until cheese is melted.
Serve with salsa and sour cream.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Three Cheese Buffalo Shrimp Pizza

We had decided to make pizzas on New Year's Day for a late dinner, since we had a big pork dinner at my mom's in the afternoon. We were going to make just cheese pizzas. But then we wanted some kind of toppings that didn't involve a trip to the grocery store. I had some leftover buffalo sauce and bleu cheese crumbles from making crack dip for New Year's Eve, plus a bag of cooked shrimp in the freezer. This pizza was so tasty and easy to make. I got the idea to mix the pizza sauce with the buffalo sauce from our favorite pizza place.

Three Cheese Buffalo Shrimp Pizza

Favorite crust recipe (I used pre-made.)
1 pound cooked shrimp, deveined and tails removed 
1/2 cup pizza sauce
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon buffalo sauce
1/2 - 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 - 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup bleu cheese crumbles

Roll out crust onto greased cookie sheet.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees as indicated by crust instructions.
Toss shrimp with 1 tablespoon buffalo sauce.
Mix together pizza sauce and buffalo sauce.
Top crust with sauce mixture.
Top sauce with shrimp and bleu cheese crumbles.
Cover with cheddar and mozzarella cheese.
Bake 12 - 15 minutes per crust directions.