Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Sparkling Strawberry Lemonade

I always have a supply of lemons from my parents' lemon tree. I also bought a huge batch of fresh strawberries from Costco last week and they're starting to wilt and over-ripen. And then I found this great recipe for Sparkling Strawberry Lemonade from Annie's Eats. Perfect timing. I've always loved Strawberry Lemonade. And to have it carbonated takes this yummy beverage to the top. You can definitely use still water for this, but why not make the drink fizzle fo shizzle. lol!

Strawberry syrup
1 heaping cup chopped strawberries
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. lemon juice
2 Tbsp. cold water
pinch of salt

1 cup very hot water
2/3 - 3/4 cup sugar (depending on how sweet you like it)
1 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 1/2 cups cold sparkling water or seltzer (or you can use still water)

1) To make the syrup, combine strawberries, sugar, lemon juice, water and salt in a blender or food processor. Puree until smooth. Pour mixture through a fine-mesh strainer to remove seeds, pressing down to extract as much liquid as possible.

2) To make the lemonade, combine the sugar and hot water in a pitcher. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Mix in lemon juice and strawberry syrup. Pour in sparkling water when ready to serve.

3) To serve, rub a lemon wedge around the rim of the serving glass and then dip in sugar. Fill glass with ice, if desired, and then the lemonade. Garnish with sliced lemon or strawberry. Serve immediately.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Barbecue Turkey Burgers

Leave it to Annie, from Annie's Eats, to provide me with a great Memorial Day menu. My folks are joining us today for a barbecue and I decided to make Annie's Barbecue Chicken Burgers and Sparkling Strawberry Lemonade as our beverage (more on that recipe for tomorrow's post).

I've been looking for another great chicken/turkey burger and I'm so glad I found this recipe. I decided to use ground turkey for this recipe because its all I had. And because turkey is such a lean meat, I added 3 tablespoons of olive oil so it wouldn't stick to the grill. Annie's recipe uses homemade barbecue sauce recipe. But I decided to use a store bought barbecue sauce. This was a great burger, which probably would be even better if I had pulled pork barbecue to top it with. I'll probably do that next time. Which means I'll definitely be making this dish again.

2 Tbsp. prepared barbecue sauce, plus more for garnish
1 lb. ground turkey
1/4 cup cornmeal (or 1/2 cup crumbled cornbread)
1 stalk green onion, minced
1 Tbsp. minced cilantro
2 tsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. dry mustard (or 2 tsp. prepared mustard)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
3 Tbsp. vegetable oil, plus more for cooking
pinch of cayenne pepper

2/3 cup chopped pulled pork (optional)
hamburger buns
sliced cheese
grilled red onion slices

1) In a large bowl, combine ground turkey, cornmeal, green onions, cilantro brown sugar and spices, 3 tablespoons oil, and 2 tablespoons barbecue sauce. Mix together gently until well combined. Form mixture into four equal patties. Transfer to a plate and refrigerate until ready to grill.

2) Oil grates of the grill. Place patties on the heated grill and cook for 3-5 minutes. Flip the burgers and brush the cooked sides generously with barbecue sauce. Cook for another 3-5 minutes. Flip the burgers again to brush the other cooked side with more barbecue sauce. Top with cheese slices and continue to grill until burgers are cooked through until cheese has melted. Place burger on toasted bun and top with a grilled onion slice and more barbecue sauce as desired.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Chicken Pasta Salad

We decided to take a family trip to Universal Studios Hollywood today, since its a 3-day weekend. Tomorrow, we decided we wanted to do a barbecue with my folks while my brother helped hubby put up some shelves in the garage. So that means all the prep work is all up to me. I decided my menu to consist of my Korean Bulgogi Beef, Grilled corn, a side salad, and turkey burgers. I found a great burger recipe I wanted to try out from Annie's Eats (more on that recipe for tomorrow's post). I also found a great side pasta salad recipe from The Nest, which I've started to frequent again.

This recipe for Chicken Pasta Salad is a twist to another chicken pasta salad that I love eating from a local restaurant. It has fresh ingredients like strawberries and grapes. I love mixing sweet with savory, which is why this recipe really caught my eye. This salad was quite refreshing. My mom loved it and decided to take some home. I'll be making this dish again.

1 1/2 cup dried pasta shells (I used a tri color spiral pasta)
3 cups chopped cooked chicken
3 cups halved seedless grapes
1 1/2 cups quartered fresh strawberries
2/3 cups bottled cucumber ranch salad dressing
a pinch of cayenne pepper
1-2 Tbsp. milk
leaf lettuce
toasted sliced almonds

1) Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain. Rinse with cold water and drain again.

2) In a large bowl, combine pasta, chicken, grapes and strawberries.

3) In a small bowl, mix together salad dressing and cayenne pepper. Pour dressing over pasta mixture. Toss gently to coat. Cover and chill for 4-24 hours.

4) When ready to serve, if pasta salad is dry, stir in enough milk to moisten. Stir in almond slices. Line serving tray with lettuce leaves and mound pasta salad on top of lettuce. Serve.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Neri's Curbside Cravings

We were so excited when we received an invitation to one of my friend's daughter, Natalie's, 5th birthday party today. We were stoked to hear that a food truck was going to cater the food. And my daughter was even more excited to hear that the party will be held at a park with a Tangled theme.

Neri's Curbside Cravings is another Filipino food truck mixing fusion and tradition into their menu. They have a good menu of Filipino favorites such as Tocino, Tapa, and Pork Barbecue, as well as Asian favorites such as Chicken Teriyaki. These meats can be served the traditional way by serving it with rice. The "fusion" part of the menu is that they also serve these meats in a burger style. However you order it, your meal will come with 2 sides: either Lumpia (Filipino egg rolls) or Lobster balls (equivalent to fish balls) and Spaghetti or Pancit (Filipino noodles).

Today's menu was especially prepared for the birthday girl, Natalie. Complete with her very own customized menu.

The owner was suggesting that we order her renowned Toci Burger, which apparently received great reviews on Yelp. So I ordered the Toci Burger with Lobster balls and Spaghetti.

I can see how the Toci burger was quite popular. I love tocino. Its a favorite breakfast dish of mine, with rice and scrambled egg. But the Toci burger puts a twist on the tocino by putting it in between buns (which is a common practice among hard core Filipinos) and topping the meat with a fried egg, bell peppers, carrots, green onions and cilantro. It was quite tasty. The side dishes of spaghetti and lobster balls, I could do without. They were cold and tasted pre-made and not fresh.

We also had a dessert choice of either Ube Mamon cupcake (purple yam sponge cupcake) or Halo Halo. Halo Halo (which literally translates to "mix-mix") is a popular iced dessert. Its a concoction of ingredients such as sweet beans, shredded young coconut, purple yam or flan (to name a few), mixed together with shaved ice and sweetened milk. I was never a huge fan of Halo Halo, so I opted to order the cupcake.

I wasn't all that impressed with the cupcake. It was pretty dry. I thought the frosting, which is my favorite part of the cupcake, would make up for it. But it didn't. I should've just waited to eat dessert from birthday cake.

Even though I liked the Toci burger, I'm not impressed with the service they provided. They were quite slow in serving their food. Many of the guests were complaining about how it took too long to get their food. The owner tried to justify the fact that the burgers usually take longer because they had to be assembled, as opposed to the rice plates where they just threw things on the plate. I haven't experienced too many food trucks, but the ones that I have tried where the lines are super long, like the ever-popular Kogi BBQ truck, usually had their food ready to serve within a few minutes. Maybe because these faster trucks had 2 people cooking and another person taking the orders. Neri was the only one cooking and had just one other person taking the orders.

I gotta hand it to them though, and all the other Filipino fusion trucks out there. They are trying to teach others to learn to love Filipino cuisine without losing the traditional flavors.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Kelsey's Chocolate Popcorn Brittle

We were visiting my mother-in-law on Saturday and we were watching "Big Daddy's House" on the Food Network when I saw him make this recipe for Chocolate Popcorn Brittle with Kelsey Nixon of Kelsey's Essentials. I've been looking for another good snack to make and I love fresh caramel corn. Not the kind you get from a bag or a box. I like honest-to-goodness, made-from-scratch caramel corn. I also love Popcornopolis popcorn, but I don't like spending mucho dinero just for popcorn. The recipe looked really easy and I happen to have all the ingredients, so I decided to make it.

I have to say these were "the bomb dot com." Super yummy and I love the contrast of the sweet and the salty from the pretzel. It really is easy to make and I even had my daughter help me drizzle on the chocolate. These are definitely going to be a regular recipe. Especially when we have those lazy weekends where all we do is bum around the house and watch TV and sleep all day.

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup chunky peanut butter
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
10 cups plain popped popcorn
3/4 cup chocolate chips, melted
3/4 cup white chocolate chips, melted
1 cup crushed pretzels

1) Mix sugar and honey in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-low heat. Simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and mix in peanut butter. Continue to stir until peanut butter is smooth. Stir in vanilla until well incorporated.

2) In a large mixing bowl, pour in popcorn. Pour warm peanut butter mixture over popcorn and stir until completely coated.

3) Line a baking sheet with wax paper. Pour coated popcorn and distribute evenly on baking sheet. Drizzle melted chocolate on top of popcorn, and then drizzle melted white chocolate. Top with crushed pretzels. Allow chocolate to set for about 20 minutes (or place in refrigerator). Once chocolate has set, break up the popcorn into bite-sized pieces and store in an air-tight container until ready to serve.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Pasta with Thai Peanut Sauce

I love the Thai Chicken Pasta at the Cheesecake Factory. When I first ordered it, I thought it would be something like Pad Thai, which I also love. But its definitely far from being Pad Thai. Its a pasta with a Thai peanut butter sauce. I came across this recipe from The Nest which I frequent often for cooking advice, toddler advice, or just browsing about anything that has to do with married life or life in general. Its where I got my ideas for our wedding almost 8 years ago.

The flavors of this dish was quite yummy. However, the consistency of the sauce was too thick, that it dried out pretty quickly. I like my Thai pasta to be pretty saucy. I may modify this recipe by lessening the peanut butter and adding some type of broth to make it more saucy.

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup light unsweetened coconut milk
3 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 Tbsp. fresh squeezed orange juice
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
a pinch ground cumin
a pinch ground allspice
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 lb. spaghetti, cooked al dente and drained
1 Tbsp. chopped cilantro for garnish

1) In a medium saucepan, whisk together peanut butter, coconut milk, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, orange juice, ground ginger, crushed red pepper, cumin, allspice, and salt until smooth. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently for about 2 minutes. Add shrimp. Continue cooking until mixture begins to boil and shrimp has turned pink in color. Remove from heat. Toss in cooked spaghetti until it is well coated. Serve warm and garnish with chopped cilantro.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Umami - the Fifth Taste

Umami is a Japanese word meaning "pleasant savory taste." It is said to be the fifth taste together with sweet, sour, bitter and salty. It is a mild taste that is pretty hard to describe. The flavor of umami has therefore been incorporated into the burgers at Umami Burger. Hubby and I have been dying to come here for a while now. Ever since seeing the restaurant featured on many cooking shows as well as from hearing other foodies rave about the restaurant. Today was an opportune time for us to see what the hype was all about.

The restaurant had a pretty cool vibe. It had a nice brick interior and the seating varied from regular tables and chairs to retro leather couches to a school playground bench and table. The menu was nothing but burgers and sides.

I decided to order the original Umami burger, which was an umami flavored hamburger patty topped with a cheese crisp, slightly cooked tomatoes, and shitaake mushrooms. I paired my umami burger with a side of their onion rings which I dipped in their delicious garlic aioli. I loved the flavor and crunch of the onion rings, but they became super greasy by the time I reached the bottom of the plate. I don't like eating greasy onion rings.

Hubby ordered their SoCal Burger, which was another umami flavored hamburger patty, cheese, slightly cooked tomatoes, and lettuce. He paired his burger with their thin fries.

Hubby and I decided to give each other half of our burger, so that we can each experience the different umamis.

To wash it down, I ordered their "Mexican Coke," which is nothing more than a regular coke in a bottle. I used to buy a lot of this stuff in the Philippines, where its also prevalent.

The burgers here sure are "umami." Its a flavor that I definitely can't describe. Its a very unique and pleasant taste. Not what you'd expect from a run-of-the-mill hamburger. The only thing I didn't like about this place was that even though we saw a few families walk in with their kids, this isn't that much of a kid-friendly place. My daughter isn't a burger eater yet. We all know that she only eats pasta and rice. Sometimes a good grilled cheese sandwich or quesadilla will find its way on her plate. And they didn't have any of that or any kid friendly meals. I don't know if we'll be frequenting Umami Burger for a while, until she learns to appreciate a good burger. Maybe when she's around 6 or 7 years old? But we'll definitely swing by every now and then to get our umami fix. We'll just have to make sure my daughter has had her meal before we come here.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Lemon Blueberry Cupcakes

After making almost 200 mini cupcakes over the weekend for hubby's pinning ceremony, I thought I'd be sick of making cupcakes for a while. Tonight is one of those nights where I didn't feel like cooking dinner, so I wanted to clean out the fridge by having all the leftovers for dinner. But for some reason, I had the urge to do some baking. I guess my hands always want to stay busy in the kitchen.

I had bought some blueberries earlier in the week with the intent of making this recipe for Lemon Blueberry Cupcakes from Annie's Eats. It looked really light and refreshing and so I saved it on my reader to make later on. I felt like now was the time to do it. So when hubby and my daughter went for a bike ride around the neighborhood this evening, I went to work. And when they returned from the bike ride, the cupcakes were almost done baking in the oven.

I was right about these cupcakes. They were light and refreshing. A perfect cupcake for the spring. I had been looking for a good lemon cupcake recipe and I think I've found the one. Yummy!

3/4 cup, plus 2 Tbsp. all purpose flour
3/4 cup cake flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup, plus 2 Tbsp. sugar
zest of 1 lemon
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 cup, plus 2 Tbsp. milk, at room temperature
1 cup fresh blueberries

1) Preheat oven to 350 deg F. Line cupcake pans with liners.

2) In a medium bowl, combine 3/4 cup all purpose flour, cake flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk together and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine butter, sugar and lemon zest. Beat together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, blending well after each addition. Beat in vanilla and lemon juice. With the mixer on low speed, mix in half of the dry ingredients just until incorporated. Blend in the milk. Mix in the remaining dry ingredients, beating just until incorporated.

3) In a small bowl, toss blueberries with the remaining 2 tablespoons of flour. Gently fold blueberries into the cake batter with a spatula. Divide batter evenly into prepared liners, filling about 3/4 full. Bake for 20-22 minutes or until toothpick test comes out clean. Cool in pans for 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Lemon frosting
8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
5 Tbsp. butter, at room temperature
3 cups confectioner's sugar, sifted
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
zest of 1 lemon
additional blueberries for garnish

1) Combine cream cheese and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat on medium-high speed until well combined and smooth, about 2-3 minutes. Mix in lemon juice and lemon zest. With the mixer on low speed, gradually beat in confectioner's sugar until totally incorporated. Increase the speed and then beat until smooth. Frost cooled cupcakes.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Mac 'n Cheese Croquettes

The weekend was spent celebrating hubby's graduation from PTA school. Therefore, not much was going on in my kitchen aside from warming up leftovers and repeat recipes. Lunch for today is a twist on a repeat recipe. I had some leftover cheese sauce from the last time I made my Macaroni and Cheese. I've been wanting to make some fried Mac n Cheese for a while, ever since I saw Paula Deen on the Food Network make it. I've also seen it on the menu at the Cheesecake Factory. But I've never had any mac n cheese leftovers because my daughter always eats it all up or I freeze them for a quick meal for her later on. And everyone knows how much my daughter loves her Mac n Cheese. I figured she would love these too. So when I remembered that I had cheese sauce left over, I boiled some pasta and mixed it with the sauce and decided to finally try to make some fried mac n cheese.

These were so yummy and I especially loved dipping them in an aioli sauce. Anything is great with aioli sauce. This is an awesome grown-up version of Mac n Cheese. My daughter didn't care much for them because she wanted "clean Mac n Cheese" as she called them. But this is a great way to spruce up leftover Mac n Cheese.

2 cups pre-made macaroni and cheese
1 cup flour
salt and pepper to taste
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp. lemon juice
oil for deep frying

1) Heat oil in a pan until it reaches 350 deg F.

2) In a small bowl, season flour with salt and pepper to taste. Roll macaroni and cheese into bite-sized balls. Dredge balls in flour mixture, shaking off the excess flour. Dip in egg, and then dredge in the bread crumbs. Let balls sit for a few minutes to set the crust.

3) Carefully drop the balls into hot oil and fry until golden brown. Drain on paper towel. Serve with aioli sauce.

4) To make aioli sauce: combine mayonnaise, garlic and lemon juice. Stir until well incorporated.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Congratulations to the PTA Class of 2011

Its been 2 long years, and its finally here. Hubby's graduation for a 2nd degree in Physical Therapist Assistant. I know it was hard for him, juggling a full time job, full load of classes, and then manage to come home and spend time with his family, while getting good grades. He even managed to get straight A's. But it was tough on us too. Having him come home late at night and not being able to spend much time with our daughter. A lot of weekends were spent apart from him, at my parents' house so that he can stay home, undistracted, while studying for exams. But its a small sacrifice we made for a better future for our daughter. And I'm so proud of him for this accomplishment.

Today was his Class Pinning Ceremony. Many of his classmates, such as himself, are already Bachelor's Degree holders. So they mostly opted out of the graduation ceremony and attend the more intimate pinning ceremony. If you've been following my previous blog entries, I decided to volunteer myself and make cupcakes for the small reception they're having after the ceremony. Its the least I could do after all that he had been through these 2 years. But I also wanted to challenge myself and see if I could handle making that much. I decided to make almost 200 Red Velvet and Bananas Foster mini cupcakes that they used to display "2011."

And from what I heard, everyone seemed to enjoy them. I even overheard a group at the table next to ours go back for seconds and thirds. And when I went back to get myself a cupcake, they were all gone. I'm glad everyone liked them.

After the reception, we decided to have a late lunch/early dinner with our families who attended the ceremony at Lucille's Smokehouse Bar-B-Que.

This was our first time at this restaurant. I've always wanted to try it after a co-worker of mine raved about their strawberry lemonade, of all things. We were having lunch at another chain restaurant one day and we both ordered strawberry lemonade. She mentioned that Lucille's had the best strawberry lemonade. I said I'd never heard of Lucille's. "You've never heard of Lucille's???" Well, there isn't one near where we live, and when I found out there's a branch near hubby's school, I vowed to someday go before he ends school. So I decided to take our family on this special day.

The theme of the restaurant is a laid back, backyard BBQ atmosphere. Complete with the plastic table covers. We started off our meal with their onion straws served with an aioli sauce.

We also had the spinach & cheese dip.

We decided to order the Backyard Family Feast that fed 4 or more people. It included chicken, baby back ribs, and 4 sides. We ordered corn on the cob, mashed potatoes, shoestring fries, and coleslaw.

It was quite a feast and with the 7 of us, we still had leftovers to take home to my parents (who couldn't make it to the ceremony because mom had to work).

To wash it all down, I ordered the, what else, strawberry lemonade. The reason I wanted to come here in the first place. It was served in a mason jar. So cool.

Our overall experience here was really positive. The food was delicious and I loved the laid back atmosphere. I'm just bummed that we may not be back here for a while because it is quite far from home. Since hubby won't be out here for school anymore, there isn't much of a reason to make it out this far. Although I have cousins that live out this way. Maybe its time for more visits to the cousin's house.

Congratulations boo. I'm so proud of you. I love you ♥

Friday, May 13, 2011

Slow Cooker Pozole (Mexican Pork & Hominy Stew)

I remember back in my Spanish classes in high school many years ago (I won't say how many), we would always have a potluck of international foods at the end of the semester. Many of my Latino classmates would bring dishes from their individual culture. One classmate brought banuelos, which were fried tortilla chips dredged in cinnamon sugar. Another brought Tamales. But one dish that stood out was the Pozole, a pork and hominy stew. I was hooked. I haven't had Pozole since then, but I often see it on the menus at Mexican restaurants. I've always wanted to order it, but worry that it wouldn't taste as good as the first time I had it. I was also intimidated to order it.

Pozole is said to be a cure for hangover. Well, I don't drink much. But I can tell you that this is easily a comfort food. Perfect to have on a cold day. I was finally inspired to try to make Pozole myself when I was looking through some blogs one day and found someone who made it. That pozole looked too chunky and didn't look like what I had years ago. So I decided to do a search for Pozole recipes. There were quite a few recipes out there and I couldn't tell which one came closest to that recipe. But I finally settled on this one from allrecipes.com. What made me decide on this one was the fact that its a slow cooker recipe. I've been busy all day today, baking almost 200 mini cupcakes for hubby's pinning ceremony tomorrow. So I wanted to just throw everything in the slow cooker and have it ready for dinner.

This dish was quite good. However, as one of the reviews on this recipe indicated, this was more like a soup than a stew. This wasn't the Pozole that I had back in high school. I'll probably continue my search for that recipe. But I don't mind making this one again.

1 dried chile negro pasilla (or 1 1/2 Tbsp. ground pasilla)
3 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups beef broth
1 1/2 lb. pork tenderloin, cubed
2 cups chopped onion
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 (4 oz can) diced green chiles
2 (15 oz can) hominy
1 bay leaf
2 tsp. dried oregano
2 Tbsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. salt

1) Puree (or blend together) chile negro pasilla and 1 1/2 cups of chicken broth. Pour in slow cooker pot.

2) Pour remaining chicken broth, beef broth, onion, garlic, green chiles, hominy and pork in slow cooker pot. Season with bay leaf, oregano, cumin and salt. Cook on high for 4-5 hours, or on low for 6-7 hours. Remove bay leaf before serving. Serve topped with chopped cilantro and avocado.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Peanut Butter Snickers Cookies

I'm one of those people who like to stock up on holiday goodies when they go on sale after the holiday. I actually still have some Christmas-themed Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and Hershey kisses in my pantry that I bought after Christmas. Hubby hates that I do this. He says it tempts us to eat chocolate all the time when we're supposed to be watching our calorie intake. But they're great to use in baking, so I like to stock up. And every now and then, we do reward ourselves by eating a couple of pieces whenever we get a sweet tooth. So we don't eat them often, which is why we still have Christmas chocolates. That's a lot of self control to be able to not consume all that chocolate. And I loooove chocolate and have a huge sweet tooth. A deadly combination.

This past Easter, hubby was shocked to see that I bought more chocolates - Snickers to be exact. I assured him, however, that they were going to be used for this Peanut Butter Snicker Cookie recipe I found from Brown Eyed Baker. I decided to finally make them today with my daughter, who's been asking me to bake some cookies with her. Maybe hubby will quit complaining about all the chocolate in the pantry because these cookies were delicious. Dangerously delicious. I couldn't stop eating them. The peanut butter doesn't overpower the overall flavor of the cookie. And they're soft and chewy. Just the way I like them.

1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 cup peanut butter (creamy or chunky)
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 egg
1 Tbsp. milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups chopped Snickers (4 regular bars, or 3/4 bag of bite-sized Snickers)
3/4 cup milk chocolate chips

1) Preheat oven to 350 deg F. Line cookie sheet with parchment/wax paper or silicone mat.

2) In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

3) In a bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter and peanut butter on medium speed until fluffy. Slowly add sugars and continue to beat until smooth. Add egg and mix until well combined. Add the milk and vanilla extract and continue mixing until combined.

4) With the mixer on low, add flour mixture and beat until flour disappears. Stir in chopped snickers and chocolate chips.

5) Drop heaping tablespoonfuls of cookie dough on prepared cookie sheet. Slightly flatten the dough with the palm of your hand. Bake for 10-11 minutes or until edges begin to brown. Cool on baking sheet for 5-10 minutes and then transfer to cooling racks to cool completely. Store in air-tight container at room temperature.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Creamy Chicken Taquitos

I admit that even though I prefer making dishes from scratch, I'm still one of those who likes to buy quick meals, such as certain frozen foods. That includes frozen taquitos. I happen to still like eating frozen taquitos, so when I saw this recipe for Creamy Chicken Taquitos from Annie's Eats, I was quite intrigued. And since today is Cinco de Mayo, I thought it would be fitting to make this today.

These came out really well and it won hubby over, who only likes taquitos if its made with flour tortilla. He hates corn tortillas. So I had hubby in mind when I made these. You can also freeze the taquitos after assembling them so you can have a make-ahead-meal. I'll definitely be making these when I want to get my taquito fix.

3 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup salsa
1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. onion powder
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsp. chopped cilantro
1-2 green onions, chopped
2 cups cooked shredded chicken
1 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend
10-12 6 inch flour tortillas
cooking spray

1) Preheat oven to 425 deg F. Line baking sheet with a silicone pat or parchment/wax paper.

2) In a large mixing bowl, combine cream cheese, salsa, lime juice, spices, cilantro, green onions, chicken and shredded cheese. Season with salt to taste. Mix thoroughly until well combined.

3) Briefly heat tortillas in microwave to make them soft enough to roll easily, about 20-30 seconds. Spoon 2-3 tablespoons of the filling mixture down the middle of the tortilla. Roll the tortilla up tightly around the filling. Place seam-side down on the baking sheet. Spray the tops lightly with cooking spray and sprinkle with a little salt. Bake for 15-20 minutes until crisp and golden brown. Serve with sour cream and salsa.

* To freeze taquitos before baking, place baking sheet to the freezer and chill for 30-60 minutes. Transfer to a freezer-safe container or plastic bag. To bake from the freezer, add a few minutes to the original baking time, until filling is warmed through. *

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Chicken Fried Steak & Gravy

Because I was very busy this weekend and we were out of town at Disneyland celebrating my daughter's 3rd birthday, I didn't really do any grocery shopping for the week. This recipe for Chicken Fried Steak & Gravy popped up on my reader from What's Cookin' Chicago? and I remembered that I still had some thinly sliced beef that I normally use for Korean Bulgogi Beef. As much as I love, love, love Bulgogi, I wanted to try something new tonight. So I decided to try Chicken Fried Steak for dinner.

I like to eat Chicken Fried Steak occasionally. I say "occasionally" because we all know that this meal is not really healthy. But its sooooo good. I especially love the gravy that goes along with it. I served this with some homemade mashed potatoes that I quickly whipped up. This is definitely comfort food at its best.

6 cubed steaks, pounded to 1/3 inch thickness
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
5 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 egg
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 cup buttermilk
oil for frying

1 medium onion, minced
1/8 tsp. dried thyme
2 cloves garlic minced
3 Tbsp. all purpose flour
1/2 cup chicken or beef broth
2 cups milk
3/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
pinch of cayenne pepper

1) For the steaks: In a large shallow dish, combine flour, salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper. Set aside. In another large shallow dish, beat together egg, baking powder, and baking soda. Stir in buttermilk.

3) Heat oven to 200 deg F. Place a rimmed baking sheet with a wire rack in the oven.

Heat 1 inch of oil to 375 deg F in a large frying pan or dutch oven. While oven and oil are heating, pat the steaks dry and season both sides with salt and pepper. Dredge steaks in flour mixture, shaking off excess flour. Dip steaks in egg mixture and dredge again in the flour mixture, shaking off excess flour. Place on another wire rack while oil is heating up.

4) Cook 3 steaks at a time in the oil for 2-3 minutes on each side, until they turn deep golden brown. Turn steaks only once. Place cooked steaks on a paper towel to drain and place on the wire rack in the oven to keep warm. Allow oil to return to 375 deg F prior to cooking the rest of the steaks.

5) For the gravy: Carefully pour out the hot oil through a fine-mesh strainer. Return the browned bits from the strainer along with 2 tablespoon oil back into the frying pan (or dutch oven).

Turn the heat to medium. Add onions and thyme and cook until onions have softened, about 4-5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until aromatic, about 30 seconds. Add flour to the pan and stir until well combined and starting to dissolve, about 1 minute.

Whisk in the broth, scraping any browned bits off the bottom of the pan. Whisk in milk, salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Cook until thickened (gravy will have a loose consistency and will thicken when cooled), about 5 minutes.