Monday, February 28, 2011

PB & J Muffins

Who doesn’t love a good peanut butter and jam sandwich. I was looking for a new muffin recipe and stumbled across this one for a peanut butter and jam muffin! Who knew?
What could be better! They are moist and delish. You can use whatever jam you have on hand. I used my own homemade raspberry jam... so good!
Here’s what you need,
2 ¼ cups all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
2/3 cup brown sugar
6 tbsp butter, melted
½ cup peanut butter (I used smooth but the original called for chunky...not a fan so I used smooth!)
2 large eggs
1 cup milk
Approx 1/3 cup jam, any kind you like.
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. My oven runs hot so I went with 350.
Line a muffin tin with paper liners.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and brown sugar.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the melted butter, peanut butter, eggs and milk until smooth.
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry mixture and whisk until just combined.
Fill each cup of the prepared muffin pan halfway up with batter. Top each with a heaping teaspoon of the jam, cover with the remaining batter. Each muffin cup should be filled almost to the top.
Bake for 17-20 minutes, until a tester comes out clean and the top of the muffin springs back when lightly pressed.
Cool on a wire rack!
Makes 12.
MMMM peanut butter and jam for breakfast or a snack or dessert. YUM!

adapted from Baking Bites

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Macaroni and Cheese

It looks like this in Vancouver today....
On a day like today all I want to do is sit under a blanket with a latte and eat comfort food. For me there is nothing more comforting that Macaroni and Cheese. I think this just might be my favorite meal. There is really nothing better or more comforting than creamy cheese sauce and noodles.
It’s cheesey and gooey with a crunchy topping... its heaven.
Here’s what you need,
3 tbsp of butter
3 tbsp of flour
1 tsp salt
½ tsp fresh ground pepper
3 cups milk (warmed) you can use any kind of milk but for a rich creamy mac and cheese go higher fat, 2% for sure, whole would be sinful!
2 cups grated cheese, I used a combo of extra old white cheddar, regular old orange cheddar and mozzarella. But any cheeses you like would be good.
1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
1 tsp dry mustard
2 cups dry macaroni noodles
For the Topping:
1 cup of panko crumbs
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Heat oven to 400 degrees.
Cook the macaroni according to directions. Drain and set aside.
Melt butter in a medium saucepan. Add in flour, salt and pepper. Stir over medium heat. Let it brown a bit and start to bubble, keep stirring. Once it bubbles let it go for about 30 seconds to 1 minute.
Slowly start to add the warmed milk, I just warm mine in the microwave. Keep stirring as you add the milk, this will help keep the sauce smooth.
Continue to stir the sauce over medium heat until it thickens. It will get very steamy and will coat the back of a spoon. DO NOT BOIL! It will probably take 5-8 minutes.
Remove sauce from heat and stir in dry mustard and worcestershire sauce. Slowly add the cheese by the handful and stir until melted.
Add the cooked macaroni noodles and stir to combine.
Pour mixture into a baking dish.
Mix together the panko and Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle topping all over top.
Bake at 400 degrees for 20-30minutes until bubbly. You can turn on the broiler for a couple minutes at the end to brown the top a bit more. Watch it close so the crumbs dont’ burn.
Remove from oven and let stand for 10 minutes.
This is the hardest part. You are going to wanna jam a spoon right in there, but don’t do it. Firstly you will burn your lips off but if you give a few minutes the sauce thickens up just a bit more.
So if it looks like this at your place today,
Make this for dinner, you will be very happy!
It will leave you feeling warm, cozy and FULL!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Fresh Salsa

I made chicken quesadillas yesterday, they were so good. I wanted to make my own fresh salsa because I never have and it seemed like a good thing to do. It turned out really well, I may never buy salsa again. The salsa was so fresh tasting, and I was able to adjust the ingredients to highlight the flavors I like best.
I substituted parsley for the usual cilantro cause I have this thing about cilantro... I kinda hate it. It just tastes weird to me. It's ok in small quantities with other things but I don’t like it as a main flavor, the parsley worked really well, added that herby freshness I was looking for.
You need:
3 ripe tomatoes, seeds removed, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 jalapenos, finely minced
3 tbsp red onion, chopped
3 tbsp fresh parsley or cilantro if you like it, chopped
1 lime, juiced
Salt/pepper to taste
Mix all ingredients together adjust salt and pepper and lime juice to taste.
Refrigerate for a couple hours to let the flavors meld.
I would say that this salsa was mild to medium hotness, so if you wanted it hotter you could add in some of the seeds from the jalapeno, or use a hotter pepper.
This was so fresh and tasty I just wanted to eat it with a bag of Tostitos, good thing I didn’t have any!
Maybe I will go buy some now!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Chicken Quesadillas

I have been daydreaming about quesadillas for days now. Not sure why. I thought I better make some so I could start thinking about something else!
I wanted to make them for supper so I wanted a little more than just cheese and chicken. I sauteed up some veggies and made a spice rub for my chicken and even made my own homemade salsa.
Here is what i did,
Made a little spice rub for my chicken breasts with the following,
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp garlic powder
½ tsp cumin
½ tsp kosher salt
Mix spices together. Trim chicken breasts and pat dry with a paper towel. Rub with a tsp of olive oil and press on the spice rub.
Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes until the chicken is fully cooked.
I put mine on a foil lined baking sheet with a little non stick cooking spray. Makes clean up super easy!
Cut the chicken into slices once it has cooled a bit. I cooked my chicken in advance and just stuck it in the fridge until i was ready for it. You could even do this a day ahead if you wanted to make it a quick weeknight meal. For an even quicker meal you could easily use one of those pre-roasted chickens from the grocery store.
Can I just tell you how good this chicken was, next time I am going to make extras... it would be great chopped into a chicken salad sandwich or sliced warm and placed on a big Cesar salad the possibilities are endless!
Then I chopped up the following veggies,
5 button mushrooms, sliced thinly
½ red pepper
½ green pepper
2 green onions
Grate up 1 cup or so of cheese, I used jalapeno jack. But you could use Colby or cheddar or mozza.
Add a teaspoon of olive oil to a non stick skillet. Add the mushrooms and peppers and saute until just softened. Add the green onion in for a minute or two at the end.
Remove from heat and put  the cooked veggies into a bowl.
Wipe out the non stick skillet you used to cook the veggies with a paper towel. Put it back on the heat and melt a teaspoon of butter. Put a flour tortilla or wrap in the pan. I used a salsa flavored wrap. Layer on one half the sliced chicken breast, some of the sauteed veggies and some of the grated cheese. Fold over the wrap into half. Cook on one side until the wrap is browned. Then gently flip over to brown the other side. Cook until the filling is melted. You can keep them warm on a sheet pan in the oven at 200 degrees.
Cut into wedges and serve with your homemade salsa and sour cream.
These are so freakin' good! I can't wait to make them again. Oh and it made 3 so we ate one the next day left over and it was just as good.
I will post the fresh salsa recipe tomorrow!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Bachelor Button Cookies

My Grandma Clarke used to make these for my dad. We used to ask her to make them for us but unless my dad wanted them it seemed she never made them.
These are a sandwich cookie with a soft sweet date filling.
You have to make them the day before you really want to eat them. Somehow the filling infiltrates the cookie with its datey goodness. They end up soft and sweet. One bite and I am transported back to being 8 years old.
Try them you will love them.
Here’s what you will need:
For the cookies,
1 ½ cups of brown sugar
¾ cup butter
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
½ tsp baking soda in 1 tbsp of hot water
2 cups flour
½ tsp salt

For the filling,
1 cup of dates, cut up
½ cup white sugar
1 tsp flour
1 cup water
1 tsp vanilla

To make the cookies, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add in the eggs in 1 at a time until incorporated. Add the vanilla. Then mix in the soda water. Slowly add the flour and salt. Mix until combined.
Drop by the teaspoon onto a silpat mat lined cookie sheet. Bake in the centre of the oven at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes.
To make the filling combine the dates, water, sugar and flour into a small saucepan.
Cook over medium heat for 10-15minutes until thickened. Take off the heat and stir in the vanilla.
Once the cookies have cooled completely, take one,
Put a tablespoon of the filling right in the middle,

then sandwich with another cookie.
You should get about 24 cookies.
Place cookies into an airtight container for 24 hours before you eat them. Please wait, I know it will be hard but I promise they will taste 100 times better tomorrow than they do today!
Thanks Grandma! Miss you!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Baked Chicken Strips

These chicken strips are so easy and so tasty. They are total boy food! My in house food tester loves them, so do I.
Panko is amazing stuff it makes things so nice and crisp, I use it a lot. If you have never used it before give it a try. Makes a great topping for mac and cheese or as a coating for fish!
I made a little dipping sauce to go with, honey dill dip.  You can use whatever dip you like.
Here is what you need for the strips:
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, Cut into strips
1 cup panko crumbs
¼ cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp dried parsley
2 eggs
1 heaping tbsp of Dijon mustard
1 shake hot sauce

In a shallow pan combine the panko crumbs, Parmesan cheese, dried parsley and salt/pepper to taste. Combine.
In a bowl whisk together eggs, Dijon mustard, hot sauce and salt/pepper.
Dry off the chicken well with a paper towel. Dip the chicken in the egg mixture and coat well. Then place in the panko mix and press on crumbs to coat. Place the chicken strip on a tinfoil lined baking sheet sprayed with non stick spray.
Continue with the rest of the chicken pieces. Place in the oven at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and chicken is cooked through.
For the honey dill sauce combine in a small bowl, ¼ cup mayo, 1 tbsp of honey and 1 tsp of dry dill. Mix together.
Put in the fridge for 15 minutes to chill.
Dip away!
Sorry I forgot to take a picture of the dip... it was yummy!


Monday, February 21, 2011

Sesame Peanut Noodle Salad

I had a craving today... for noodles!
I wanted that cool, crisp, fresh taste of an Asian type noodle salad.
I went online to find a recipe and ended up combining about 4 different recipes. I just added in the things I liked so you can too!
It ended up being super tasty, exactly what i was craving.
Here is what was in my version:
1 package of spaghetti (or you could use soba noodles if you had them)
½ of an English cucumber thinly sliced
½ of a small red pepper thinly sliced
2 cups of finely sliced napa cabbage
3 green onions, chopped
(I could find snap peas but they would be good in here, also thinly slices carrot, or purple cabbage!)
For the dressing:
1 tbsp sesame oil (I think I have the toasted sesame oil... the jar I have is all in Chinese so I am not sure but it tastes toasted so I ended up only using ¾ of a tbsp.Iit has a way stronger flavor. I am going to buy the regular sesame oil for next time. Use what you like.)
3 tbsp of smooth peanut butter
½ tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 ½ tbsp red wine vinegar
3 tbsp hot water
Pepper/salt to taste
How to:
Cook the noodles as directed, drain and put in a large bowl to cool.
Chop all the veggies.
Make the dressing in a blender or food processor. Taste it, add more of what you like.
Add the sauce to the pasta, toss to coat. Toss in the veggies and lightly toss. Some chopped peanuts would be good on top.
It was great at room temperature but I can’t wait to eat it cold for lunch tomorrow.
Have a great week everyone, I have some  more easy weeknight meals coming up this week and a sweet treat!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Cheddar Cheese Drop Biscuits

Here is the recipe for the biscuits, I was so hungry I forgot to take a picture of the ingredients! oops!
Oh well here ya go anyway.
You will need,
2 cups of flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp fresh chives
½ tsp garlic salt
½ tsp salt
¼ cups butter
¾ cup milk
¼ cup cheddar cheese, shredded (the older the cheddar the better!)
Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Grease a baking sheet. Mix flour, baking powder, chives, garlic salt, and salt. Cut in butter until you get small lumps. Mix in milk and cheese until just combined. Drop by the heaping spoonfuls onto cookie sheet.
Bake for 12-15mins until golden brown.
These are so light and fluffy and with a smear of butter... oh man!


Saturday, February 19, 2011

Slow Cooker – Hearty Beef Stew

This is the perfect meal for a cold rainy or snowy Sunday,depending where you are. You can get it all ready in the morning, toss it in the slow cooker all day and do other things while dinner makes itself.  Things like eating cookie dough out of the freezer and watching reruns of Gilmore Girls!
I used a nice piece of white tale deer meat that my dad gave to me. If you aren't lucky enough have a dad that hunts and sends you a freezer full of meat you can use regular stewing beef.
1 lb. cubed venison or stewing beef
¼ cup flour
1 tbsp paprika
2 cup beef broth
½ cup red wine (you can omit it just add more beef broth)
1 ½ tbsp teriyaki sauce
2 tbsp worchestire sauce
1 tbsp dry mustard
1 tsp thyme
2 bay leaves
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
3 carrots, sliced
2 celery stalks, sliced
3 small red potatoes, cubed
1 small turnip, cubed
2 small parsnips, cubed
½ lb button mushrooms, quartered
Chop all the veggies into 1 inch pieces,
Cut up your meat into cubes as well,
Heat 2 tbsp canola oil in a large skillet.
Mix flour, salt, pepper and paprika. Dredge meat lightly in flour mix and fry until browned in a hot frying pan. Move browned meat into the slow cooker. Fry in batches if needed. Don’t overcrowd the pan.
Once all the meat is browned deglaze the pan with ½ cup of beef broth and wine. If you aren't using wine just use 1 cup of the beef broth. Pour over meat.
Layer veggies on top of meat.
Mix remaining spices into the rest of the beef broth and pour over veggies.
Cook on low for 6-8 hours.
You can thicken gravy if needed at the end with a little cornstarch slurry.
Mix 1 tbsp of cornstarch with 2 tbsp of water. Turn the slow cooker to high and stir in the slurry. Cook until thickened.
Watch your tongue, it is gonna be hot! Serve with fresh warm biscuits! I will post the recipe for my Cheddar cheese drop biscuits tomorrow. The perfect meal for a cold winter day.

Stay warm everybody.