Archive for April, 2010

What’s for dinner?

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

As I’ve mentioned before, we make a point of planning our meals out a week in advance. I thought it might be fun to share what our meals are going to be for the week. I also wanted an excuse to post today so I could say:

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO LEAH! (known around here as Test Subject #2)

Anyway, now that that’s out of the way, here’s what we have planned for this week:

  • (Meatless) Monday: Quesadillas with Fajita Veggies (Made with Chihuahua cheese, which makes the best quesadillas!)
  • Tuesday: Beef Posole Stew, from the Weight Watchers “Slow Cook-It!” Cookbook, over Alton Brown’s Baked Brown Rice
  • Wednesday: Apricot-Glazed Chicken, from the Weight Watchers “Now & Later” Cookbook, with Toasted Pine Nut Couscous
  • Thursday: Chicken Cubano Panini, from the Weight Watchers “Now & Later” Cookbook, with a side of Roasted Potatoes. I’m also trying a new healthy carrot cake recipe for Leah’s birthday!
  • Friday: Chicken Cordon Bleu Pasta Casserole, seen here. I kind of can’t wait for this one–I’ve only made it the one time, but it was very good.

Meatless Monday: Chipotle Bean Burritos

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

We’ve been doing this Meatless Monday thing for several weeks, and it’s going pretty well. We’re typically pretty happy with the meals, though I can’t say I’ve gotten to the point where I wouldn’t rather have meat. As I said before, we’ve tried quite a few things. I think all of them have been either Italian-flavored or some variation on Tex-Mex, probably because these are cuisines that are more likely to include vegetables in the first place, and because the bold, fresh flavors help to make-up for the lack of meat. That’s meant plenty of pasta, panini, chili, and one of the first things we tried, these Chipotle Bean Burritos from January’s issue of Cooking Light.

I liked this recipe, in general. The beans had a really good flavor, even though chipotle is not usually my favorite seasoning. The beans were spicy, but not hot. We used a delicious Chipotle Chile & Peppers flavored tortilla, which I think added to the dish. The tortilla is made by Tumaro’s, soon to be available at Amazon, and is one of the best healthy tortillas I’ve ever tasted. Again, a hint of spicy flavor, but not hot. We used them for quesadillas this week, and will continue to buy them, I’m sure.

If meatless meals are your thing, you’ll definitely like these burritos. They were tasty and filling, and the recipe was a quick one. For those of us that lean towards the carnivore side of things, they were good, but not great. We all would’ve liked a little chicken or steak or some additional protein in there.

Cooking Light’s Chipotle Bean Burritos

  • 1  tablespoon  canola oil
  • 1  garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2  teaspoon  chipotle chile powder
  • 1/4  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/3  cup  water
  • 1  (15-ounce) can organic black beans, drained
  • 1  (15-ounce) can organic kidney beans, drained
  • 3  tablespoons  refrigerated fresh salsa
  • 6  (10-inch) reduced-fat flour tortillas
  • 1  cup  (4 ounces) preshredded reduced-fat 4-cheese Mexican blend cheese
  • 1 1/2  cups  chopped plum tomato (about 3)
  • 1 1/2  cups  shredded romaine lettuce
  • 6  tablespoons  thinly sliced green onions
  • 6  tablespoons  light sour cream

1. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add garlic to pan; cook 1 minute, stirring frequently. Stir in chile powder and salt; cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Stir in 1/3 cup water and beans; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in salsa. Partially mash bean mixture with a fork.

2. Warm tortillas according to package directions. Spoon about 1/3 cup bean mixture into center of each tortilla. Top each serving with about 2 1/2 tablespoons cheese, 1/4 cup tomato, 1/4 cup lettuce, 1 tablespoon onions, and 1 tablespoon sour cream; roll up.

Pioneer Woman’s Cheddar Puffs

Monday, April 12th, 2010

Warning: This is not a healthy recipe. We’re not even going to talk about Points today.

Now that that’s out of the way…

Yum!

These tasty little appetizers are cheesy bites of heaven. You make rich, gooey, melty cheese sauce, use it to coat bread chunks, then freeze them and bake them to puff them up. My favorite part of the recipe is that you can do all the work in advance–the prep work leaves you with a bag of frozen puffs that only require 10 minutes in the oven to finish. Perfect for parties or family get-togethers!

The Pioneer Woman’s Cheddar Puffs

  • 1 loaf Crusty French Bread, Cut Into 1-inch Cubes
  • ½ stick Butter
  • 3 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 1-½ teaspoon Dijon Mustard
  • 8 ounces, weight Cream Cheese, Sliced
  • 1-½ cup Grated Cheddar Cheese
  • Salt And Freshly Ground Black Pepper, To Taste
  • 2 whole Egg Whites, Beaten
  1. Heat butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and saute for 1 minute. Add Dijon and stir to combine. Reduce heat to low.
  2. Add cream cheese and stir until melted. Add grated cheddar and stir until melted. Turn off heat. Add salt and pepper to taste. Fold in egg whites.
  3. Dunk bread cubes in cheese, coating thoroughly. Place on a nonstick baking mat or sheet of waxed paper and freeze for 20 minutes, uncovered. Remove frozen chunks from tray and place into a Ziploc bag. Store in the freezer.
  4. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place frozen cheese puffs on a baking sheet with a nonstick baking mat or parchment paper, and bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown. Serve immediately or at room temperature.

Caramelized Corn with Fresh Thyme

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

This is a great, simple, summery side dish, even though it takes advantage of frozen corn. It’s not hard, and there aren’t many ingredients. It’s one of those awesome, simple dishes that really is greater than the sum of its parts.

Caramelizing the corn brings out tons of great flavor, and the fresh herbs brightened and deepened the flavors. The original recipe called for mint, but I think any fresh herbs that you have on hand would work just fine. The thyme was very good, and I think basil or cilantro would be equally delicious.


Caramelized Corn with Fresh Thyme
Adapted from The Wednesday Chef

1 10-ounce package frozen premium corn (choose something extra sweet)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons minced fresh thyme
Salt

1. Defrost the corn in a colander, tossing occasionally, for about 30 minutes.

2. In a wide skillet, melt the butter over high heat. Add the corn and cook, stirring often, until golden and browned (kernels may begin to pop), about 10 minutes. Stir in the thyme and sprinkle with salt. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve while hot.

Note: I didn’t have any frozen corn on hand, so I had to use canned. I made sure to drain it really well. It worked fine. Next time, I’d try it with frozen corn, and I think it could be even better.

Happy Easter!

Sunday, April 4th, 2010

Happy Easter, everyone! David and I are headed to a family gathering, where I was asked to bring a dessert. I ended making two desserts, because I’m ridiculous: Easter Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing and Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting. You’ll here more about the cupcakes someday soon, I promise. In the meantime, here’s the details on the cookies.

Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing
Adapted from marthastewart.com

* 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for surface
* 1 teaspoon baking powder
* 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
* 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
* 2 cups granulated sugar
* 2 large eggs
* 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
* Royal Icing
* Sanding sugar, for sprinkling (optional)

Directions

1. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
2. Beat butter and granulated sugar with a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time. Reduce speed to low; add flour mixture, and beat until combined. Add vanilla. Wrap dough in plastic, and refrigerate for 1 hour.
3. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Roll out dough to 1/8-inch thickness on a lightly floured surface. Cut out egg shapes with a 2 1/2-inch oval cutter. Transfer cookies to parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing about 1 inch apart. Refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes. Bake until edges are golden, 8 to 10 minutes (Mine took 11 minutes, baking the cookies one tray at a time. It took 13 minutes with two trays in the oven). Let cool. Using a pastry bag fitted with a 1/8-inch tip and filled with royal icing, decorate as desired. If you want, sprinkle with sanding sugar while icing is wet. If adding dots or stripes, let base layer dry first.

Royal Icing

  • 1 pound confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 cup meringue powder
  • 1/2 cup water, plus more if needed
  • Gel-paste food coloring in colors such as violet, lemon yellow, soft pink, or leaf green for tinting

Directions

  1. Combine sugar, meringue powder, and water in the bowl of a mixer. Beat on medium speed until smooth, about 4 minutes. (If icing is too thick, add more water, 1 teaspoon at a time.)
  2. Divide icing into batches, and mix in a different shade of food coloring to each to tint.

Note: I like the way these turned out: super cute! The cookies themselves don’t have a ton of flavor, which makes them pair perfectly with the super-sweet royal icing. They turned out kind of crunchy, which makes sense, so they’re great for dunking. I got the best results for decorating with the squeeze bottles I use for cake pops. I just need a few more so I can work with more colors at one time!

Also, a HUGE thanks to Leah for helping me out with all the decorating. She’s awesome!