Monday, May 30, 2011

Texas Caviar

I could eat this as main dish. Love it!  Perfect for a Memorial Day cookout. 

5 cans of black eyed peas, drained and rinshed
Small bottle of Italian dressing (may need to use all - add some stir, add, stir, etc.)
1 purple onion - finely chopped
1 green bell pepper
1 red pepper
1 yellow pepper  - all finely chopped
2 stalks celery - finely chopped
jalapenos - to taste
1/2 tsp. garlic - minced
salt and pepper to taste
fresh cilantro to taste
juice of one lime
Mix all together and enjoy - I usually serve with Fritos.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Chocolate Revel Bars

How in the world have I never heard of Revel Bars before?  I ran across this recipe on Pinterest, which is my new favorite thing by the way, and I HAD to try these bars immediately. I sprinkled a little fleur de sel on the top, because the nuts I had were raw.  And wow.  This picture does not do Revel Bars justice.

1/2 cup butter, room temperature, divided
1 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
2 tsp vanilla extract, divided
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups quick cooking oatmeal (not instant)
7 oz sweetened condensed milk (1/2 can)
1 1/2 cups dark or bittersweet chocolate chips, divided
1/2 cup toasted and salted pecans, coarsely chopped


Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 9×9-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil and lightly grease.
In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt and oatmeal.
In a large bowl, cream together 7 tbsp butter (reserve remaining tablespoon) with brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and 1 tsp vanilla extract. Blend in flour mixture until well incorporated.
In a small, microwave safe bowl, combine sweetened condensed milk with 1 cup chocolate chips and reserved 1 tbsp butter. Melt on high heat in 40 second intervals, stirring frequently, until mixture is smooth. Stir in remaining 1 tsp vanilla extract.
Take 1 1/2 cups of the cookie dough mixture and press it into an even layer on the bottom of the prepared baking pan. Spread the chocolate mixture evenly on top of the cookie layer.
Stir remaining 1/2 cup chocolate chips and toasted pecans into remaining cookie dough. Break dough into small chunks and sprinkle evenly over entire chocolate layer. Chocolate layer will still be partially exposed.
Bake for 25 minutes, or until top is lightly browned. Chocolate will still look “wet.”
Cool completely in the pan before slicing.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The World's Best Sandwich

I don't know how many calories are in it.  A lot would be my guess.  But it truly is the world's best sandwich.  I've changed the recipe a little from Thomas Keller's original, only because I don't like mayo and I find the cheese unnecessary. 

4 large eggs
8 thick slices of bacon
8 thick slices of bread, toasted and hot
1/4 cup BLT dressing (recipe follows)
8 tomato slices
8 leaves of butter lettuce

Place bacon on a cookie sheet and bake at 400 for 10 minutes, or until crispy.  Transfer to paper towels to drain.

Toast bread and spread the dressing on each slice of toast, then top with the bacon, tomato and lettuce.

In a nonstick skillet, melt 1 tsp of butter. Add the eggs and fry over moderate heat, turning once, until crisp around the edge, about 4 minutes; the yolk should still be runny. Slide the egg onto the lettuce; close the sandwich and eat right away.

Makes 4 sandwiches.

BLT dressing

3 tablespoons real mayo (Hellmans)
1 tablespoon Greek yogurt
one clove of garlic, grated
juice of half a small lemon
salt and pepper to taste

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Birdseed Salad

This recipe is an oldie but goody!  It's usually made as a coleslaw (for every church event in Arkansas, I think), but a local restaurant makes it with lettuce and it's much fresher tasting.  They call it a Birdseed Salad because it has sunflower seeds in it (or maybe because it's "bird food"), but I've always called it Crunchy Coleslaw.  And it's @critidefan's favorite food.  Maybe if I post a picture, she'll come visit me...


1 head of cabbage, shredded or romaine lettuce
1/2 cup of vegetable oil
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1/4 c. sunflower seeds
1/4 c. sliced almonds
1/3 cup cider vinegar
2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 pkg of Ramen noodles
 
Mix together the oil, vinegar, sugar, and Ramen noodle flavor packet. Toast almonds and broken up Ramen noodles in oven until lightly brown, about 5 minutes; cool and set aside. In salad bowl combine cabbage/lettuce, green onions, sunflower seeds, crushed ramen noodles, and almonds. Add dressing; stir and serve immediately.
 

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Chicken Gyros

I think I mentioned before how much we love Greek food.  This was my first attempt at gyros at home, and they were pretty good!  I didn't get to grill the chicken as I had planned because it started to rain, and there is no way I'm standing out in the rain to grill some chicken...I just cooked it on the stove. 


Chicken Gyros
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
4 cloves garlic, smashed
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tsp. red wine vinegar
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 heaping tbsp. plain yogurt
1 tbsp. dried oregano
salt and pepper
tzatziki sauce (recipe follows)
sliced tomatoes
sliced red onions
4 pitas (I had to use my Walmart bakery naan, no Greek style pita around here)

Whisk together the garlic, lemon juice, vinegar, oil, yogurt, and oregano in a bowl. Add the chicken and rub the marinade in. Cover and refrigerate for about an hour.

Preheat the grill (or pan on the stove).  Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper on both sides, and then broil/grill until cooked through, about 5 minutes per side, depending  what size/type chicken you are using. Allow the chicken to rest for a few minutes before slicing into strips.

Meanwhile, heat your pitas. I have a gas stove, so I just spray them with a little bit of oil and stick them right on the burner for a few seconds per side. Top the pita with the chicken, tzatziki, tomatoes, onions. Roll up and eat!

Tzatziki Sauce
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/4 seedless cucumber, peeled grated on box grater
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon champagne vinegar
juice of one lemon
2 cloves garlic, grated
fresh mint and fresh oregano, to taste
fresh dill, if you like dill. I do not. If you know about my pickle aversion, you don't need to ask why I hate dill.

Mix it all together.  

Monday, May 23, 2011

Buffalo Turkey Burgers with Homemade Blue Cheese Dressing

I've been making these burgers for years and we always love them (I leave the hot sauce out for the kids).  The girls decided tonight, however, that even though they had eaten them several times before, that they hated them.   But that's just how it goes around here sometimes....

1 pound ground chicken/turkey (I can't find ground chicken at my Walmart)
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 garlic cloves, chopped
4 scallions, finely chopped
1 celery rib from the heart, finely chopped
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup hot sauce, such as Frank's Red Hot or Tabasco
Crusty rolls or toast (I use toast because it has fever calories)

In a large bowl, combine the turkey, seasonings, garlic, scallions, and celery. Mix the burgers and form into 4 1-inch-thick patties.

Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and cook the burgers for 5-6 minutes on each side. Remove to a plate.

Wipe the pan clean and reduce the heat to low. Melt the butter in the pan. Add the hot sauce to the melted butter. Return the patties to the skillet and turn to coat in the hot sauce-butter mixture. Place the burgers on bun bottoms.  Top with blue cheese dressing and serve with lettuce on the buns.

Homemade Blue Cheese Dressing* (enough for the burgers and for dipping carrots and celery)
1/2 cup fat free Greek yogurt
1/4 cup real mayo (like Hellman's)
2 cloves of garlic grated with a microplane (don't chop it or you'll bite into raw garlic)
juice of one whole lemon
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese

*I used my Homemade Ranch Dressing and added blue cheese.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Watermelon Basil Salad

When John and I were in Mexico a few weeks ago, I had this amazing salad with watermelon, some sort of Mexican cheese, basil, and a lime-y dressing.  It was so good!  I probably could have used one of those cheeses in the Mexican section of my Walmart to try to make it at home, but I used goat cheese since I already had some and it was just as good as I remember it.  It's so different!


Watermelon Basil Salad (all quantities to taste)

Fresh seeded watermelon
Goat Cheese
Basil
Freshly squeezed lime juice

Toss everything together and serve immediately.


We also had the refrigerated cheese tortellini tossed with olive oil, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper, and fresh basil and chives.





Mushroom Risotto with Goat Cheese and Green Apples

I typically order something different every time I go to a restaurant.  But, at our fave local restaurant, Bordinos, I always order this risotto dish with goat cheese, asparagus, green apples, and a balsamic glaze.  And tonight, I made it at home! It was easy, but kind of a lot of work.  It was worth it, though.

Mushroom Risotto with Goat Cheese and Green Apples

5 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 large onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 package mushrooms (I used baby bellas), chopped
asparagus (as much as you want
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon olive oil (additional)
1 tablespoon butter
1 1/2 cup Arborio rice
1 cup dry white wine   
1 teaspoon kosher salt (additional), more to taste
4 ounces, weight goat cheese
½ cups grated parmesan cheese
1 Granny Smith apple, sliced thinly
balsamic vinegar, to drizzle over finished dish


Pour chicken broth into a small saucepan. Heat to a simmer.

In a large Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil.  Add diced onions and cook for a minute or two. Add garlic and mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes, or until mushrooms soften.  Sprinkle in salt and stir. Add asparagus and cook for one minute.  Remove everything from pan and put on a plate. Set aside.

Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter to the same pan. Heat over medium-low heat. Add rice and stir, cooking for 1 minute. Add half the wine and 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt. Stir and cook until liquid is absorbed. Over the next 30 to 45 minutes, add 1 cup of simmering broth at a time, stirring and cooking until each addition of broth has absorbed. Add other half of wine and cook until absorbed. Taste to make sure rice is the right texture; add another helping of broth if rice has too much bite to it. Check salt content and add more salt if necessary.
Once rice is cooked, remove from heat. Stir in most of the goat cheese (save a little for the top), parmesan, and vegetables until all the cheese the melted.

Serve risotto in large bowl topped with sliced apples, goat cheese, and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. 



Cheddar Cheese Biscuits

For the Teacher Appreciation Luncheon on Monday, another mom made these delicious Cheddar Cheese Biscuits to go along with our Chicken Berry Salad.  They are just like Red Lobster's! Why don't we ever go to Red Lobster anymore?  Anyway, here's the recipe.


Cheddar Cheese Biscuits

4 cups baking mix (like Bisquick)
3 ounces Cheddar cheese, shredded
1 1/3 cups water
1/2 cup melted butter
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon onion powder

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine the baking mix, cheese, and water. Mix until dough is firm. Using a small scoop, place dough on the prepared pan.
  3. Bake at 375 degrees F  for 10 to 12 minutes, or until golden brown.
  4. Combine the melted butter, garlic powder, salt, onion powder. Brush over baked biscuits immediately upon removing from oven.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Lighter Chicken Parm

I like to say Chicken Parm instead of Chicken Parmesan because it makes me feel like Carmella Soprano, but it probably makes me actually sound more like one of the RHNJ.....Anyway, I made this recipe to be a little lighter than regular Chicken Parm and I think it's even better than the breaded, fried, and heavily cheesed original.    And if you really want to keep it light, don't serve it with pasta.  Make a salad instead!

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup flour
salt, pepper, garlic powder
jarred or homemade marinara sauce (I like this Barilla one)
fresh mozzarella cheese, grated (the stuff that comes in round packages)
freshly grated Parmesan cheese (grate it fresh for this, it makes a difference, and even my Walmart carries it now)
fresh basil to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. 

Place each chicken breast between 2 sheets of  plastic wrap and pound out to 1/4-inch thick. Sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper.  Alternately, you can buy thin chicken cutlets and skip that step.

Mix the flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder in a shallow plate. Dip each chicken breast in the flour, and shake of the excess.

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large saute pan over medium to medium-low heat. Add the chicken breasts and cook for 2 minutes on each side, until browned. Top each piece of chicken with about 1/4 cup of marinara sauce and a couple of tablespoons of grated mozzarella cheese.  Put the pan in the oven allow them to bake for 5 to 10 minutes.

When they are cooked through, sprinkle each with Parmesan cheese and fresh basil.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Chocolate Creme Brulee

This is the recipe for the Chocolate Creme Brulee my friend, Liz, made for the Teacher Appreciation Luncheon.  This recipe seems pretty difficult to me, but she's an excellent cook and says it's not, so I'll be trying this recipe for my next party.  :)  This dessert was so beautiful in addition to being delicious!  And perfect for a party because they can be made in advance. She topped them with fresh raspberries glazed with orange marmalade, too. 



Yield:  Six or 7 4-ounce ramekins
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped into small pieces
2 cups heavy cream
1 tsp grated orange zest-optional
4 large egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Special equipment
ramekins, a wire whisk, a sieve; a bowl and a large 4-cup measuring cup, or 2 mixing bowls, a baking pan large enough to serve as a water bath for all the ramekins.
Preheat the oven to 350.  Put the chopped chocolate in the large measuring cup or one of the bowls and melt in the microwave and then set the sieve on top.  Pour the cream into a medium saucepan and bring to the simmer, then remove from the heat.  If using orange zest, stir it into the cream before heating and steep 5 minutes covered, off the heat.
Meanwhile, whisk the yolks in the empty bowl, adding the sugar gradually.  Continue whisking for a minute or more, until the yolks are pale yellow and thick and form a ribbon when dropped from the whisk.
Pour the hot cream into the yolks, stirring--not beating-- with the whisk, until evenly blended.  Immediately pour this custard through the sieve over the chocolate, removing any coagulated bits of eggs, and stir gently with a large spoon to melt the chocolate and blend it into the custard.  Stir in the vanilla extract.  Skim off surface bubbles.
Arrange the ramekins in the baking pan, fill each with 1/2 cup of custard.  Set the baking in the oven and pour in hot water to come halfway up the ramekins.
Bake the custards for about 25 minutes, or until the tops are just set.  The custard will still be quite soft.  Carefully remove the baking pan from the oven and lift the ramekins from the hot water.  Let them cool briefly, then chill in the refrigerator, at least 4 hours, before serving. 
Forming the brown-sugar crust.
Loosen the brown sugar if packed and break up any lumps with your fingers.  Sprinkle a tablespoon or so over each custard and smooth it gently with the back of a spoon, forming an even layer of sugar that completely covers the surface.. Set the ramekins on a  heatproof
tray and turn the broiler on watching them like a hawk until it bubbles.  If you see smoke---pull it out immediately!  If the ramekins have been heated by the broiler, chill them briefly before serving.

Teacher Appreciation Luncheon

My 2 younger kids go to preschool 3 mornings a week, and they really have the best preschool teachers ever!  So when I was asked to prepare lunch for the Teacher Appreciation Luncheon at the school, I was thrilled to do something nice for the wonderful teachers who spend so much time loving my children.  The committee did all sorts of neat things to make the lunch special for the teachers. Here are some pictures:

Herb pots were used as centerpieces and each teacher took one home.


Pretty place settings

Iced Mint Tea

Chicken Berry Salad with Lemon Honey Vinaigrette and Cheddar Biscuits.  I'll have all the recipes later this week.

Chocolate Creme Brulee



Saturday, May 14, 2011

Blondies

What do you do when you say on a cold, rainy day, "hey kids, wanna make brownies?" and then realize you have neither brownie mix nor cocoa powder, and only 1/2 cup of chocolate chips?  Make blondies!  These are fabulous and quick.

Blondies (from Smitten Kitchen)

1 stick butter, melted
1 cup  brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
Pinch salt
1 cup all-purpose flour

Grease an 8×8 pan.

Mix melted butter with brown sugar – beat until smooth. Beat in egg and then vanilla.

Add salt, stir in flour. Mix in any additions (below). I added 1/2 cup of chocolate chips.

Pour into prepared pan. Bake at 350°F 20-25 minutes, or until set in the middle.


Further additions, use one or a combination of:
  • 1/2 to 1 cup chopped nuts, toasting them first for even better flavor
  • 1/2 to 1 cup chocolate chips
  • Stir 1/2 cup dried fruit into the prepared batter (craisins and white chocolate chips, yum)
  • 1/2 cup mashed bananas
  • Top with a vanilla butter cream or chocolate peanut butter cream frosting

Friday, May 13, 2011

Sweet Potato Fries


This is my new favorite sweet potato "fries" recipe.  It's so darn simple! No fancy drizzles, sugars, spices....just sweet potatoes with salt and a little cajun seasoning (I used Tony's).  Healthy.  We loved them.

My new friend (who I've never actually met but I know we'd be friends if we did) posted the recipe on her blog, so go there to read it. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Steamed Asparagus with Lemon Vinaigrette

Tonight for dinner, we had Lemon Thyme Tilapia (sprinkle fresh thyme at the end), Roasted Sweet Potato Fries (recipe later this week), and Steamed Asparagus with Lemon Vinaigrette.  I don't know about you, but when I eat a healthy dinner, I feel so much better for the rest of the evening! 

A friend of mine facebooked something I've been thinking about all day:  "If you do what you've always done, you'll get what you've always gotten. So last night I did something different. Instead of having a piece of cake for dessert, I took the dog for a 25 minute walk! This morning, I'm getting on the treadmill."  It's kind of profound and really applies to living a healthy lifestyle.

Steamed Asparagus with Lemon Vinaigrette

This is hardly even a recipe.  Steam asparagus in an inch of water in a saucepan for one minute.  Drain asparagus.  Make vinaigrette using lemon juice, dijon mustard, olive oil, and salt and pepper.  Pour it over the hot asparagus and serve.  I sprinkled it with a little Fluer de Sel at the end.  That stuff is totally worth paying $14 for a jar of salt. 





Monday, May 9, 2011

Sauteed Fresh Corn with Basil

We love fresh corn on the cob in our house.  Love it. But it's even better when you have a wonderful mother/wife who will cut it off the cob for you and cook it this way!  No corn in the teeth!! 

5 ears fresh corn on the cob, shucked and cleaned of any silks
2 tablespoons of butter
salt and pepper
fresh basil to taste

Cut the corn off of the cobs using a serrated knife. Heat butter in a saute pan until melted.  Add corn, salt, and pepper and cook for about 5 minutes.  Add herbs at the very end and serve.

We also had BBQ Grilled Chicken to go along with the Sauteed Fresh Corn with Basil.  Perfect summer meal!

Feta in Phyllo

John and I first ate Greek food at the Greek Food Festival in Little Rock when we were first married (not a lot of Greek restaurants in Arkansas when we were growing up!).  We spent all afternoon one day sampling the best food we'd ever tasted, and ended up going back every year we lived there.  John always jokes that he must be part Greek, based on his love for the food (have you seen him? Definitely not Greek.).

So when one of Beta's sweet preschool teachers offered to make me something she had eaten on a recent trip to Greece, I was so excited!  She handed me the dish of feta cheese wrapped in phyllo, and I had every intention of saving some for John....but then I tasted it, and had to eat the whole thing! It's salty, sweet, crunchy, gooey.

I'm not sure what to call it, and I can't really find the exact recipe she gave me anywhere, so I'll just call it Feta in Phyllo, since it's kind of like Brie en Croute.  It's an appetizer, but I had it for lunch. :)

Feta in Phyllo

1/3 of a whole block of feta
several sheets of phyllo dough (the directions are on the box)
butter, melted
honey
sesame seeds

Wrap the feta cheese with sheets of Phyllo dough, each sheet coated with butter.  Bake until brown and then drizzle with honey and sprinkle with sesame seeds.  Serve hot.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Grilled Tenderloin Steaks

Happy Mother's Day! It's been a wonderful day around here. My family planted a vegetable and herb garden for me and my husband prepared breakfast, lunch, AND dinner.  And I just watched it all. :)

John's Grilled Tenderloin Steaks

Melt 1/4 cup of butter with 1 tablespoon herbs de provence.  Salt and pepper the steaks and marinate in the butter/herb mixture for an hour.  Grill on high heat for about 5-7 minutes each side for medium rare, depending on the thickness of the meat.  Then, let it rest for about 10 minutes before serving.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Panzanella

Panzanella is one of my favorite summer meals.  When the tomatoes are perfect, there is nothing better than this salad.  These tomatoes weren't perfect (with it being May and all), but it was still a delicious sneak peek of what is to come in a few weeks.  Tomatoes are my favorite food, after all...

Panzanella Salad 

(you can substitute whatever you like and adjust quantities, but you have to tomatoes and bread to call it panzanella)

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 loaf crusty bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 large ripe tomatoes, or 2 pints cherry tomatoes
1 hothouse cucumber, cut into chunks
1 orange bell pepper, cut into chunks
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
5 large basil leaves and 3 mint leaves, coarsely chopped

For the vinaigrette
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons champagne vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


1.Chop up the bread, drizzle olive oil, toss with salt and pepper, and toast in the oven at 400 degrees until it starts to brown. 5-10 minutes
2. For the vinaigrette, whisk together the ingredients.
3. In a large bowl, mix the tomatoes, cucumber, orange pepper, red onion, basil, and mint. Add the bread cubes and toss with the vinaigrette. Season liberally with salt and pepper.
4. Serve immediately, or allow the salad to sit for about half an hour for the flavors to blend.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Grilled BBQ Chicken and Pineapple Quesadillas

I was planning to grill some chicken and serve it with rice and pineapple.  But THEN, I stumbled upon this recipe.  And I'm so glad I did!  It was delicious.
 
Grilled BBQ Chicken and Pineapple Quesadillas (click to see the step by step)


Flour Tortillas
Butter
2 cups Grilled Pineapple, Sliced
3 whole Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
Salt And Pepper, to taste
3 cups Monterey Jack Cheese, Grated
Cilantro
3 Tablespoons Barbecue Sauce


To grill pineapple: cut wedges, and grill over low heat. Cut into slices.

To pound chicken, place inside a Ziploc bag and pound with a mallet or large can to flatten to uniform thickness.

Sprinkle with salt and pepper and Cajun spice (or cumin/cayenne, etc.) Grill on outdoor grill, brushing with barbecue sauce. Set aside and slice into very thin slices.
Warm griddle over medium heat and put sizzling butter in the pan. Slightly warm and toast tortillas on both sides, then remove from griddle and set aside.
To assemble, sprinkle four browned tortillas with grated Monterey Jack. Arrange chicken slices evenly over the surface. Add pineapple slices. Sprinkle on cilantro. If desired, drizzle extra barbecue sauce over the top. Add second browned tortilla on top of each one.
Add to oven to warm, or back to skillet to warm, until cheese is melted. Cut each quesadilla into six wedges. Serve with sour cream, pico de gallo, and lime wedges.

The Best Coffee Cake Ever

This is seriously the best coffee cake.  The recipes says it is so, but I can attest to the fact that it is.  It was even better because my friend brought it over when she came to visit.  Eating coffee cake and visiting all morning was very Mad Men of us....

The Best Coffee Cake
 
FOR THE CAKE:
1-½ stick Butter, Softened
2 cups Scant Sugar
3 cups Flour, Sifted
4 teaspoons Baking Powder
1 teaspoon Salt
1-¼ cup Whole Milk
3 whole Egg Whites, Beaten Until Stiff
_____
FOR THE TOPPING:
1-½ stick Butter, Softened
¾ cups Flour
1-½ cup Brown Sugar
2 Tablespoons Cinnamon
1-½ cup Pecans, Chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Beat egg whites and set aside.
Cream butter and sugar. Add flour mixture and milk alternately until combined. Don’t overbeat. Fold in beaten egg whites with a rubber spatula. Spread in a well-greased 9 x 13 (or LARGER!) baking pan. A cake pan with higher sides would be best.
In a separate bowl, combine topping ingredients with a pastry cutter until crumbly. Sprinkle all over the top.
Bake for 40 to 45 minutes.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Tortilla Soup

It feels like winter here today instead of spring, so it was the perfect evening for Tortilla Soup, which is my favorite homemade soup.  I've used so many different recipes for Tortilla Soup in the past, that I've kind of made up my own recipe. 

Chicken Tortilla Soup

2 whole carrots, peeled and chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 medium yellow onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 red bell pepper
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 can Rotel
1 can diced tomatoes
32 oz chicken stock
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon cumin
1 can black beans
2 whole chicken breasts, shredded (I used a deli rotisserie chicken)
3 corn tortillas, sliced into strips
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
salt and pepper
toppings: avocado, grated cheese, sour cream, cilantro, fresh lime, tortilla chips

Saute carrots, celery, onion, garlic, and red bell pepper in a tablespoon of olive oil until soft.  Add a tablespoon of tomato paste and stir until combined.  Cook for 3 minutes and then add chicken stock, Rotel, tomatoes, coriander, cumin, salt n pepa, and black beans.  Cook at least 10 minutes, but if you want to let it simmer longer, just let it go as long as you want on low heat, adding more stock if necessary.  Add the corn tortillas, most of the cilantro, saving some for garnish.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and then simmer for 20 minutes.  The tortillas break down and thicken the soup.  Serve in a large bowl (you need lots of room for toppings!) with avocado, grated cheese, sour cream, cilantro, fresh lime wedges, and crushed tortillas chips.