Thursday, May 24, 2012

Roasted Eggplant Caviar Dip

When you need to dip into veggies. 
When you have a lot of appetizers, other than a veggie tray, veggies tend to get lost at times. I know that whenever we have friends over, veggies are an after thought to the meal. A vegetarian friend brought this Roasted Eggplant Caviar Dip to my house one time and now it is a frequent visitor. It is a sneaky way to get people to eat eggplant, as it doesn't taste like most eggplant dishes too. Eaten on a crispy bread is a great way to enjoy it. 

Roasted Eggplant Caviar Dip
1 large globe eggplant
salt and pepper
olive oil
2 shallots
Balsamic vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
Toasted bread for serving

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. 
Peel the eggplant and cut into even sized cubes. Drizzle the bottom of a baking dish with olive oil. Put the eggplant in the dish, and season liberally with salt and pepper. Then toss with more olive oil. Place about 3 Tablespoons over water in the dish, cover tightly with foil, and bake in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes, until very soft.
Even the oven is roasting away the eggplant, peel and dice the shallots very fine. Place shallots, minced garlic in with 3 Tablespoons of the balsamic vinegar into a food processor or blender (or a bowl for a chunkier texture). Let sit for about 10 minutes (or until your eggplant is done if you are quick).

Once the eggplant is done, add eggplant to the shallot and garlic mixture, mashing with a fork, and let it cool to room temperature. Using a food processor or blender for finer texture pulse in the chopped cilantro, adding balsamic vinegar to help with smoothness. Adjust the seasoning. Add additional olive oil and balsamic to taste. Serve on grilled bread. Or use that chip and dip that doesn't do much and let your guest spread to their desired taste.

Adopted from Group Recipes

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Black and White Mocha Cookies

Everything drink should be a cookie.
First things, first. I have to confess I don't coffee. It it just a taste I dislike. Simple as that. I didn't even have a taste, however these cookies were approved by coffee loving friends. When I moved to Utah, I met 2 girls that have become good friends. We often go to coffee and they always get mochas. Thus the black and white mocha cookies.

On a side note. The blog as been silent because I got a full time job. I am the Marketing and Production Coordinator for a small firm that sells benefits to credit unions. The job is great, the adjustment back to full time employment has been tricky to find balance. Now that it has been a month on the job, thing are flowing a bit better.

Black and White Mocha Cookies 
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/2 cup sugar                                                                                 
1/2 cup packed brown sugar                                                             
1 tablespoon instant coffee granules
1 teaspoon warm water
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 (1 ounce) squares unsweetened chocolate, melted & cooled
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups white chocolate
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 
In a large bowl, cream butter with granulated and brown sugars until fluffy and well combined. In a small mug, dissolve coffee in water. Add dissolved coffee to creamed mixture, mix well. Then add in egg, melted chocolate and vanilla, blend until combined. 
In medium size bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture (dough will be sticky). Shape into two rolls (like refrigerated store cookie dough) about 2 inch diameters. Wrap each roll in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 4 hours or until firm. Unwrap and cut into 1/4-in. slices. Place apart on ungreased baking sheets, or silpmat lined cookie sheets. Bake in preheated oven for 10-12 minutes or until firm. Remove to wire racks to cool. 
In a microwave safe bowl, melt white chocolate 20 seconds at a time, until chocolate is smooth and melted. Dip each cooled cookie halfway; shake off excess. Place on waxed paper to harden.

Slight change from Best of Country Cookies

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Chicken Soulvaki

Light and fresh flavors for chicken
The past few days have been really nice out. It is hard to believe that spring is here, if only for a day or two at a time. With the warmer weather, the grill as already been fired up multiple times. This chicken soulvaki is a quick and easy. We enjoy the chicken on flat bread with tzatziki, cucumbers, tomatoes, onions and lettuce. If there are leftovers, I made a salad with tzatziki as the dressing. This is our go to summer meal, because it doesn't involve heating up the oven (unless you don't have a grill). Summer isn't here yet, but spring alright started to cook it up. 

Chicken Soulvaki
1 pound chicken breast, cut into strips or
chicken tenders
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lemon, juice and zest or 1/4 cup lemon juice
1 Tablespoon tzatziki 
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Combine all ingredients and stir well. Let the chicken marinate for 30 minutes at minimum to overnight. Skewer the meat, if using wood skewers be sure to soak them for at least 20 minutes. Cook on the grill or under a broiler for about 4-5 minutes per side, until chicken is cooked through.
Serve on flat bread with tzatziki, cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce, and onions.

Adapted from Closet Cooking

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Midnight Brownies

For the late night snacker or day time eater.
Dark as night, these brownies could be eaten at midnight without anyone seeing that you are eating anything. At my house, we have come to enjoy dark chocolate over milk chocolate more and more. Our candy dish was filled with dark chocolate until it wasn't possible to keep full anymore. When I was picking up some sprinkles to make these cookies. I saw the dark cocoa powder. I bought it not knowing I needed it for the cookies, even though I did. The only thing on my mind was brownies, dark chocolate brownies. Since I had walnuts in the pantry, I added them in to give a crunch. I also enjoy the creamy melted chocolate chips in my brownies, so I threw some in too. Feel free to add or delete either of these depending on your tastes.  

Midnight Brownies
2 cups sugar 
1/2 cup baking dark cocoa 
1/2 teaspoon baking soda 
2/3 cup vegetable oil, divided 
1/2 cup boiling water 
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt 
2 eggs 
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 13 in by 9 in pan.
In a large bowl, combine the sugar, cocoa and baking soda. Add 1/3 cup oil and water; beat until smooth. Beat in the flour, vanilla, salt, eggs and remaining 1/3 cup oil. Stir in walnut.   
Spread into prepare pan.  Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. *Note- with the dark chocolate it can be hard to tell if they are done. Check the side. 

Adapted from Taste of Home

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Pineapple Cherry Cookies

Tropical cookies to fight the winter blues
There seems to be a desire for spring that many are feeling throughout the cold weather states. There are glimpses of sun and warmer days that trick you. When the sun hides its face for a couple of days, these cookies can help to rid you of the winter blues. The bright colors and tropical favors may transport you to a warmer time or place. These are also great if you don't like a really sweet cookie as the favors shine without the sweet. Until the sun shines through the clouds and spring has sprung, eat pineapple cherry cookies!

Pineapple Cherry Cookies
1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 (8 ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained
1/4 cup finely chopped maraschino cherries

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. 
In a large bowl, cream butter with sugar and brown sugar until fluffy. Add one egg at a time, combine after each one. Also beat in vanilla. 
In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Gradually add to the creamed mixture. Stir in pineapple and cherries. 
Drop tablespoons on an ungreased baking sheet (or silp-mat lined baking sheet). Bake for 7-9 minutes until lightly brown along edges. Remove to wire rack and cool.

Slight change from All Recipes 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Grapefruit Ricotta Cookies

 Tart and creamy cookie
When we returned from our New Year's trip to California, we had an overload of citrus. We definitely reach our limit of vitamin C with all the oranges we ate in the weeks to followed. When I opened the fruit drawer in the fridge the other day, I noticed there were still some grapefruits left. Instead of just eating one for breakfast, I thought of cookies! I remembered a ricotta cookie I had seen. Surprising I also had ricotta in my fridge. I got right to making these cookies. My husband always claims that he does not like ricotta. I was not surprised when he didn't question what was in the cookies and just gobbled them up. Tasty. The glaze helps to add a bit more sweetness to the cookies.

Grapefruit Ricotta Cookies 
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
1/2 grapefruit, zested
2 eggs
1 (15-ounce) container ricotta cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 tablespoons grapefruit juice
In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
In the large bowl,  combine the butter, sugar, grapefruit zest until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating until well combined. Add the ricotta cheese, vanilla, and grapefruit juice. Beat to combine. Stir in the dry ingredients.

Spoon the tablespoons of dough onto slip mat lined (or parchment paper) baking sheets. Bake for 15 minutes, until slightly golden at the edges. Remove from the oven and let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 20 minutes. While cookies cool, prepare glaze.

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons grapefruit juice
1/2 grapefruit, zested
Whisk the powdered sugar, grapefruit juice, and grapefruit zest in a small bowl and stir until smooth. Spoon about 1/2-teaspoon onto each cookie and use the back of the spoon to gently spread. Let the glaze harden for about 2 hours.

Adapted from Everyday Italian

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Purple People Eater Cookies

Not just for the monsters to eat.

Valentine's day has arrived. I am not big on Valentine's day. I usually eat way too much candy and baked goods. Simply because sweet are everywhere. I always think of chocolate covered strawberries for V-day. This is probably because you can find them just about everywhere. Is that because strawberries in chocolate are romantic? My solution for Valentine's day-raspberries and chocolate in a cookie. Although not strawberries, frozen raspberries are a great substitution. I was hoping for a nice Valentine color, instead they look like purple people eaters. 
The recipe comes from a great cookbook I got for Christmas as a gift. Best of Country Cookies is packed for of contest winning country (not city) cookies. However I also found that she posted it on Allrecipes. Here is a great cookie for forced affection day or any other day of the year!

Purple People Eater Cookies
1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup raspberries fresh or frozen (defrosted), pureed
1 cup semisweet or dark chocolate chips
3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup white chocolate chips or bar broken into pieces

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugars until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition also mix in vanilla. Beat in raspberries until mixed in. Add in chocolate chip. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture. Stir in white chocolate.

Drop by teaspoonfuls inches apart onto a slip mat lined cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees F for 10-12 minutes or until edges begin to brown. Cool before serving.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Meal Plan: Take 4

After 2 weeks of in and out meal plans, I am getting back into the routine. Eating at home all week is the goal. So this Monday Meal Plan has a new recipe, crock pot simple meal, and ways to use up my veggies. This week for dinner is a variety of things, so I don't get tempted to eat out.

Meatless Monday: Black Bean Stoup
Tuesday: Southwest chicken with corn on the cob
Wednesday: Stuffed eggplant with noodles
Thursday: Chicken chow mien
Friday: Chili Verde
Saturday: Teriyaki chicken with rice and broccoli on the side
Sunday: Albondigas soup

Just so you know that I have help with my blog...

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Cucumber Dill Toasties

Classy enough for an event, ready to party.
Cucumber Dill Toasties are great bite size appetizers for a fancy brunch or dinner, but they are also good as causal bites like the Superbowl. Every time I have served them, I leave with an empty plate. Something about cheese spread and bite sized yummies that everyone loves. If you are afraid of the cucumber dill because you are a pickle hater, no worries. I dislike pickles, but still love these. Other than the similar ingredients there is no pickle taste or smell.  

Cucumber Dill Toasties
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 (.7 ounce) package dry Italian-style salad dressing mix
1/2 cup sour cream
1 baguette, cut into 1/2 inch slices
1 seedless cucumber, sliced thin
fresh dill, finely chopped

In a medium bowl, mix together cream cheese, Italian mix & sour cream. Add a pinch of dill. Stir until everything is completely combined.

Spread a thin layer of the mixture onto baguette. Top with cucumber. Sprinkle with dill. Repeat with remaining ingredients, until lots of little cucumber dill toasties are made.

Adapted from All Recipes

Monday, January 23, 2012

Meal Plan: Take 3

I have been thinking about this Monday Meal Plan since last week. Finally, a new meal for the new year. Great timing with it being the start of the Chinese New Year! Guess it would have been a good week for a lot of Chinese meals. Instead, I added a perfect new Meatless Monday meal. If you are still on a healthy new start to the year, it needs to make its way into your meal plan as well. 
I am excited for this week for dinner. I am glad to get in the kitchen and make some meals, knowing that I will go out to eat later on in the week.

Meatless Monday: Cheddar Cauliflower Soup
Tuesday: Steak and potatoes with some other veggie
Wednesday: Chicken with wild rice soup
Thursday: Chicken enchiladas
Friday: Chicken Broccoli and Biscuits 
Saturday: Friends Over: Probably make your own panini night (even if we had them last week)

I know it is the year of the Dragon! But at least it starts with d.. 
Sunday: Out!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Cheddar Cauliflower Soup

A switch to the cousin.
My favorite soup of all time is broccoli cheddar. I especially like the really fattening versions from the bakery/cafes. When I made a stop in at Old Grist Mill Bread Company for some lunch, they had a cheddar cauliflower soup. It was a delightful switch from my favorite. I wanted to recreate it a cheddar cauliflower soup at home in order to enjoy it on the snowy days that were in the forecast.
I used a recipe that was a bit healthier than my normal cream based soups. I even used leeks for the first time. Leeks were in my Arizona CSA often, but I never took them. Why? I was intimated. They were much simpler than I thought. A few cuts, lots of water to rinse and simply chopped and ready for the soup. It is a great Meatless Monday meal for the winter.

Cheddar Cauliflower Soup
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 large leeks, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced and rinsed
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large carrot, thinly sliced
4 cups chopped cauliflower florets (from 1 medium head)
2 1/2 cups low-fat milk, divided
2 cups chicken broth
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups shredded extra-sharp Cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add leeks, garlic, and carrots. Cook, stirring often until leeks are very soft, about 5 minutes. Add cauliflower, 2 cups milk, chicken broth, bay leaves, salt, pepper, ground mustard, and nutmeg. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring often. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the cauliflower is soft.

As the cauliflower is cooking, whisk together the remaining 1/2 cup milk and flour in a small bowl. When the cauliflower is soft, remove the bay leaves and stir in the milk-flour mixture. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring, until the soup has thickened slightly, about 4 minutes more. Remove from the heat. Stir in cheese and lemon juice.

Additions from Eating Well

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Salt Water Taffy Rice Krispie Treats

 Local candy for a homemade treat.
Recently, my husband and I took a tour of Sweet's factory. It was such a fun experience. We got to sample and see so many tasty treats being made. All the candy action made me want to create something from their creations. Luckily, I remembered a segment on a local news show I saw where they made Rice Krispie treats using salt water taffy. I thought I would give it a try with some of the taffy from the factory store. Originally, I was going to use chocolate taffy for a hot chocolate with marshmallows taste, but that wouldn't have been much different than cocoa krispies. So I went with some key lime taffy to have a little fruity citrus flavor.

Salt Water Taffy Rice Krispie Treats
5 Tablespoons butter
5 1/2 cups Rice Krispie Cereal
3 1/2 cups miniature marshmallows
12-15 pieces of Sweet's salt water taffy

Line a baking sheet with a silpmat or parchment paper. Slightly warm taffy with hands, or if older taffy place in microwave for 10 seconds. Roll into long strips and cut into about ten small pieces per taffy.
In a large saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Add marshmallows and stir until they are almost smooth/melted. Remove from heat and fold in cereal. Also fold in the pieces of taffy, until cereal is evenly coated.
Pour mixture onto prepared baking sheet. To prevent sticking, stray hands with non-stick spray. Press down lightly to compress to the desired thickness. Allow to cool until set.
Store air tight. 

Slight change from KSL

Monday, January 16, 2012

Meal Plan take 2

Monday Meal Plan is here again. I have been struggling for meals, because I really want to eat at home each night. If I have a plan, I do much better at cooking. If there isn't a plan written down then out the window goes any sort of healthy eating. This week for dinner has an easy crock pot meal, a meal my husband will cook, and a planned out to eat, because it makes you feel less guilty when it happens.

Meatless Monday: Veggie Noodle Soup
Tuesday: Carne Asada with guacamole and a side of corn
Wednesday: Chicken Souvlaki (repeat)
Thursday: Crock Pot Chili
Friday: Chicken Tenders with a side of Mac and cheese and some oranges
Saturday: Panini sandwiches with all the toppings
Sunday: Out to eat before another week

Monday, January 9, 2012

New Year, Same Meal Plan

It might be a new year but I am still stuck with the same old this week for dinner. I am working on adding a new recipe in each week, but this Monday Meal Plan, I just need to have enough meals to eat at home each night. Small steps to getting to a new week of all new meals in this new year.

Meatless Monday: Black bean quesadillas with guacamole
Tuesday: Sausage and tortellini soup
Wednesday: Monterrey chicken with rice and broccoli
Thursday: Pulled pork sandwiches with veggie side 
Friday: Chicken fajitas with beans
Saturday: Broccoli beef with rice and egg rolls
Sunday: Zucchini baked ziti

Here is what I was doing last Monday. So this is my first meal plan of the year!