Monday, January 31, 2011

Orange Banana Smoothie

Another great way to use up some of our oranges is to make a smoothie out of it. This is a concoction I made up a while back and thought it was fitting to make considering all the oranges we have. Its also a great and healthy snack. I used the leftovers to freeze in popsicle molds for my daughter to snack on later on.

6 heaping scoops of fat free vanilla frozen yogurt
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 cup milk
1 medium banana
zest of 1 orange

1) Place all ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth. Place in a glass and garnish with a slice of orange.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Orange Muffins

Oranges are in abundance at our house right now. We've harvested a whole bunch of oranges from our tree that I don't know what to do with. Fresh squeezed orange juice isn't always easy to make. Do you know how hard it is to squeeze oranges to make orange juice? Even with a juicer? Its a carpal-tunnel syndrome waiting to happen. So I needed to figure out what to do with some of the oranges we had. I was thinking of making my Orange Ice Cream Popsicle that my daughter loves. But its too cold to be making ice cream right now. So off I went in search of another great recipe. I really wanted to make a cake or some muffins with my fresh oranges. There were quite a few muffin recipes out there, but I'm always leery about trying new recipes that no one has made yet. I knew I wouldn't be disappointed with any of the recipes I try from Annie's Eats, so I had to make her Orange Muffin recipe.

Annie never seems to disappoint me because these were so yummy. They came out moist and light. Not like other muffins that are dense and almost dry. I especially love the sweet orange glaze on top. Hubby said they were really good and orangey and daughter couldn't wait to eat them once they came out of the oven. Though all she really ate was the glaze off of her muffin.

1 cup milk
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 cup sour cream
2 large eggs
2 stick unsalted butter, melted
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
zest of 1 orange

for the orange glaze:
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1-2 tsp. orange zest

1) Preheat oven to 350 deg F. Line muffin pan with 16 liners.

2) In a medium bowl, combine milk, orange juice, sour cream, eggs and melted butter. Whisk together to blend. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir to blend. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix just until incorporated. Fold in orange zest with a spatula.

3) Evenly distribute batter into muffin cups. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until toothpick test comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 5-10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack over a baking sheet. Drizzle glaze over muffins while still warm.

4) To make the glaze, combine orange juice, powdered sugar, orange zest in a small bowl. Whisk together until smooth, adding more orange juice if necessary to achieve desired consistency. Drizzle over muffins. Allow glaze to set before serving or storing in an airtight container.

Beef Pepper Steak

After a week-long of Fat Flush Dieting, hubby and I are in our next phase of dieting. Calorie counting. I use a great website, Sparkpeople, to help track my calories. The last time I religiously calorie counted using Sparkpeople was about 4 years ago, before I became pregnant with my daughter. I lost almost 15 pounds in 3 months. I'm hoping to lose the same amount again. But we'll see.

What's great about calorie counting is that we can eat whatever we want in moderation (unlike the Fat Flush Diet where the food was disgustingly bland). So yesterday, we went shopping at Costco and bought all kinds of protein: beef, chicken, pork. I wanted to find a recipe to use some of the beef I had just bought and I found this great recipe from What's Cookin, Chicago? It was so simple to make and even more delicious to eat. I haven't had a good beef stir-fry in a while and I'm glad I made this one. Hubby and daughter gave me a thumbs-up for this one.

oil for sauteing
1/2 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb. lean steak, cut into strips
3 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 green bell pepper, cut into chunks
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp. water
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. oyster sauce
salt & pepper to taste

1) Place beef strips in a medium bowl and add 1 Tbsp. of cornstarch. Massage cornstarch into meat and refrigerate for an hour.

2) In a skillet or wok, heat oil at medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic. Cook until onion is softened. Add prepared beef and cook until brown and no longer pink.

3) Add bell pepper and continue cooking until bell peppers are softened. Stir in 1/2 cup water, soy sauce and oyster sauce. Use the liquid to scrape off the brown bits that form on the bottom of the pan. Bring sauce to a boil.

4) In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining 2 Tbsp. cornstarch and 2 Tbsp. water. Stir in cornstarch mixture into pan to thicken the sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Serve over white rice.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Homemade Taco Seasoning

I had a taste for my Creamy Taco Mac one day, but realized I didn't have the taco seasoning that it called for. So we had hot dogs instead :( Then I found this Taco Seasoning recipe from Annie's Eats. What a great idea! So I decided to make a batch in case I find the need again for some taco seasoning. Because, frankly, I'd hate to make a trip to the grocery store just to buy taco seasoning.

4 Tbsp. chili powder
3 Tbsp. ground cumin
3 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. paprika
1 Tbsp. plus 2 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

1) Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix until well incorporated. Store in an airtight container until ready to use.

*Two heaping tablespoons replaces a package of taco seasoning

**To make taco meat, cook 1 lb. of meat with taco seasoning and 1 cup of water. Simmer until liquid is almost completely evaporated.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Creamy Saffron Pasta with Shrimp & Crab

Here's another recipe I found while on my diet last week :)

I found this recipe online from Rachel Ray and looked pretty easy. And I've been meaning to find recipes to use up some of the saffron I bought when I made Sea Scallops with Saffron Aoli for our anniversary dinner last September. Remember the cashier who said she hoped the dish turns out good because saffron is pretty expensive? Well, I'm glad to find this recipe to use saffron again, because it is expensive.

I pretty much had all the ingredients it called for. Except Farfalle pasta. But I had other kinds of pasta, like Penne, so its what I used. This dish came out quite good. I expected this dish to be rich, but it was unexpectedly light with a hint of lemon. I'll probably be making this again to use up all the saffron.

1 lb. pasta, cooked to al dente
1 cup heavy cream
1 3-inch piece lemon peel
1/4 tsp. saffron
2 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
6-8 ounces lump crab meat
16-20 shrimps, deveined and tails removed
1/2 cup dry white wine or chicken broth
2 pinches cayenne pepper
1 tsp. turmeric
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley

1) In a saucepan, bring cream, lemon peel and saffron to a low boil over medium-low heat. Turn off the heat and let saffron steep for 10 minutes.

2) In a large skillet, heat butter and olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook for 1 minute. Then add crab and shrimp; season with salt and pepper. Cook until shrimps are pink and firm, about 3-4 minutes. Slowly stir in wine.

3) Remove lemon peel from cream mixture and pour over seafood. Stir in cayenne pepper and turmeric. Add pasta and toss. Remove from heat and sprinkle fresh parsley on top.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Cookie Dough Truffles

What a way to celebrate after getting off a diet! For my next indulgent recipe, post-diet, I decided to finally make this recipe for Cookie Dough Truffles that I had been saving up from Annie's Eats.

I absolutely love, love, L-O-V-E, love eating raw cookie dough. I used to buy huge tubs of cookie dough from Costco and almost half of it would be eaten raw. When I used to live at home, I would try to beat my sister to the cookie dough whenever my parents bought some, because she, too, loved eating raw cookie dough. When co-workers bring in their kids' cookie dough fundraiser, I have to sometimes show my support and buy at least a tub. Half of that is also eaten raw. I guess not a lot of people share in my love for it. Being in the field of food safety that I'm in, I shouldn't be liking it much either because of the raw eggs. Luckily (*knock on wood*), I haven't been sick with salmonella yet.

One of my co-workers, Jenny, and I got to talking about our love for eating raw cookie dough and I had been telling her about this recipe that I wanted to try out. But not until after the diet. So guess what........the diet is over! This is a rich, chocolatey goodness that any cookie dough lover would love. My daughter even said "mmm, this is so good." And this cookie dough does not have raw eggs.

8 Tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup light brown sugar
2 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup mini semi sweet chocolate chips, plus more for garnish
1 1/2 lb. semi sweet chocolate (chips)

1) Cream butter and sugar in a mixing bowl on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in flour, condensed milk, and vanilla until well incorporated and smooth. Stir in mini chocolate chips. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until the mixture has firmed up enough to form balls.

2) Shape the firm cookie dough mixture into 1-1 1/2 inch balls. Place on a baking sheet lined with wax paper. Cover loosely and transfer pan to freezer and chill for 1-2 hours.

3) When ready to dip the truffles, melt chocolate (chips) in a heat-proof bowl set over a pot of simmering water (or double boiler). Dip frozen cookie dough balls and coat with the melted chocolate, gently shaking off any excess. Transfer back to the wax-paper lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with mini chocolate chips and refrigerate to let the chocolate set. Store in refrigerator until ready to serve. Makes approximately 4 dozen truffles.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Guava Pound Cake

I've been on a hiatus for about a week because I went back on my Fat Flush Diet. Ick! All the holiday eating from Thanksgiving to New Years has caused me to put on some extra bloat. lol. So I decided to cleanse myself and lose some of what had I gained. Off I went to eat bland food again. Luckily, I was able to lose most of the weight. But, boy, did I miss eating food with flavor.

While on the diet, I practically tortured myself by looking up new, yummy recipes to make as soon as I got off the diet. I found a few recipes that caught my eye, including this Guava Pound Cake recipe from What's Cookin, Chicago?

Every time I opened my refrigerator, the jar of Guava Jelly I made a couple of months ago is sitting in there, staring at me to be used. I can only eat toast and jelly for so long. What else can I use it for? Well, apparently for this great pound cake recipe! I decided to make it tonight, my last night of the diet, because we'll be vising my mother-in-law tomorrow morning and I thought it would be great to bring some to her. She loves anything "guava." The cake came out super-duper moist, almost like it wasn't baked through. So I don't know how people will like a very moist cake. But the flavor was awesome. Tastes just like the islands of Hawaii.

2 sticks unsalted butter
2 cups sugar
1 cup guava paste (I used my guava jelly)
1 cup sour cream
1/2 tsp. baking soda
3 cups all-purpose flour
6 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract

1) Preheat oven to 325 deg F. Grease and flour a 10-inch bundt pan or 2 loaf pans and set aside.

2) In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add guava paste and sour cream and mix until well incorporated.

3) Sift baking soda and flour. Add flour mixture into cream mixture, alternating with eggs, beating each egg one at a time. Add vanilla.

4) Pour mixture into prepared pan(s) and bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes until a toothpick test comes out clean.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Rachel Ray's Basil Chili & Garlic Chicken

I haven't been making anything new lately because, I'll be honest, I've been pretty lazy. I haven't been motivated to trying anything new and have just been repeating recipes like my Bolognese sauce or grilling meat. What a great way to start the new year, huh?

I came across this recipe from Rachel Ray on Yahoo and it looked really easy. We all know that a lot of her dishes are pretty easy and tasty, so I thought I'd give it a try to get me out of my rut. It was definitely easy and quite good. My daughter especially loved the noodles, because she LOVES any noodles. This will make be on my make again list.

1/2 cup water
2 Tbsp. fish sauce
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
4 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. crushed red pepper
1/2 lb thin Asian rice noodles
3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1/2 cup thinly sliced onion, plus 1 cup finely chopped onion
8 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken, cut into bite size pieces
1 cup fresh basil, torn

1) Cook noodles in a large pot of boiling water until al dente. Drain and set aside.

2) In a small bowl, combine water, fish sauce soy sauce, sugar and crushed red pepper. Stir to dissolve sugar and set aside.

3) Heat wok or large skillet to medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoon oil. Then add onions and garlic. Stir fry until fragrant and softened, but not browned, about 3 minutes. Transfer mixture to a bowl and set aside.

4) Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Add chicken and cook through until browned around the edges. Add prepared sauce and onion/garlic mixture and cook, tossing occasionally, until chicken is cooked through and almost half of the liquid has evaporated.

5) Remove from heat and toss in basil leaves until slightly wilted. Serve over cooked noodles.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Seafood Gratin

Happy 2011!!!

I haven't made anything new since Christmas mainly because we've been busy entertaining out-of-town guests. New Year's celebrations were pretty hectic as well. We spent the usual New Year's eve at my parents' place. I made my Lomi Lomi Salmon, Malasadas II, and Broccoli Cheddar soup. I made my Beef Caldereta for New Year's Day at my in-laws. We have quite a few leftover dishes, so I haven't been cooking. I've also been sick and exhausted since New Year's day, so I haven't been up to cooking.

I had saved this recipe from Annie's Eats in the hopes of making it for our New Year's eve celebration. I've had the seafood ingredients stored in the fridge for a few days now, so I figured I'd better make it now before they go bad. I guess this is my first new recipe for the New Year.

Making this dish required a lot of steps and the use of multiple pans. It also requires the use of leeks, which I've never worked with before. But I've learned that leeks come from the onion family. Because while cutting it, my eyes became teary as if I was cutting an onion. I hate cutting onions. However, with that said, this dish was well worth the agony of preparing because it came out delicious. But please excuse the above photo. I'm still learning all the tricks that my new camera can make. So I haven't mastered it yet. Anyway, I omitted the cooked lobster it called for because I didn't have any. But I added extra shrimp to substitute it. You can probably also add crab meat in this dish. I served this with a side of garlic bread.

1 cup clam juice
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup, plus 3 Tbsp. more, white wine
3 Tbsp. tomato puree
1 lb. raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
8-10 oz raw cod, cut into large chunks
10-16 oz cooked lobster meat, cut into large chunks (I omitted this and added more shrimp instead)
5 Tbsp. unsalted butter at room temperature, divided
1 Tbsp. all purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 cup thinly sliced leeks, white and green parts
1 cup shredded carrots
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp. minced fresh parsley
2 cloves garlic, minced

1) In a large saucepan, combine clam juice, cream and 1/2 cup wine. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat to simmer and add shrimp. Cook shrimp for 1-2 minutes and flip over the other side until they become pink and opaque. Remove shrimp with a slotted spoon and place in a large bowl to cool. Cut shrimp in half if desired.

2) Add raw cod to the cream mixture and cook through, about 3-4 minutes. Remove cooked cod with a slotted spoon and place in the same bowl with shrimp.

3) Continue to cook sauce until it reduces to half, about 12 minutes. In the meantime, combine 1 Tbsp. of butter with flour in a small bowl and mash together with a fork. When sauce has reduced, whisk in flour mixture with salt and pepper. Continue to simmer, whisking constantly, until thickened, about 4 minutes. Set aside.

4) Preheat oven to 375 deg F. In a medium saute pan, melt 3 Tbsp. butter over medium heat. Add leeks and carrots and cook for 5 minutes until softened. Add remaining 3 Tbsp. wine and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 5 more minutes.

5) Add cream sauce and cooked vegetables to the bowl of seafood and mix well to combine. Place mixture in individual ramekins or in a casserole dish pan.

6) In a small bowl, melt the remaining 1 Tbsp. butter. Add panko breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, garlic and parsley and mix well. Sprinkle on top of prepared gratin. Place gratin on a cookie sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes until it becomes bubbly and the topping turns golden brown. Serve hot with garlic bread.