Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Coconut Shrimp with Pineapple Salsa

I've made this one a few times before, and have never taken great pictures of it.  So, it gets another blog post.  This time around, it was made by my hubby, though I did jump in and help him out somewhere along the way.  We didn't have any red onion, so just left that out, and it was still really tasty.

Nonetheless, the 3 year old wouldn't eat any.  Can you say, "Power struggle?"  Yeah.  The 1 year old, however, went to TOWN on these.  As for M and I, we both enjoyed it a lot, and it was especially made by the pineapple salsa; it was fabulous and really brought out the flavor of the coconut.  Yummm!

The All New Complete Cooking Light Cookbook, p 255

28 large shrimp
1/3c cornstarch
3/4t salt
1/2-3/4t ground red pepper
3 large egg whites
1-1/2c flaked sweetened coconut
Cooking spray

1c finely chopped fresh pineapple
1/3c finely chopped red onion
1/4c finely chopped fresh cilantro
1/4c pineapple preserves
1-1/2T fresh lime juice
1T finely chopped seeded jalapeno pepper
1/4 black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 400.
2. To prepare shrimp, peel and devein, leaving tails intact. Rinse shrimp in cold water; drain on paper towels.
3. Combine cornstarch, salt, and red pepper in a shallow dish; stir with a whisk. Place egg whites in a medium bowl; beat with a mixer at medium high speed until frothy (about 2 min). Place coconut in a shallow dish.
4. Working with one shrimp at a time, dredge in cornstarch mixture. Dip in egg white, and dredge in coconut, pressing gently with fingers. Place shrimp on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Lightly coat shrimp with cooking spray. Bake for 20 min or until shrimp are done, turning after 10 min.
5. To prepare pineapple salsa, combine chopped pineapple and remaining ingredients in a medium bowl; stir to combine.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Banana Caramel Whoopie Pies

Do you say it cahr-uh-mel or car-muhl?

We had plans to go to a Memorial Day party, and I was asked to bring a dessert.  I went to the internet and got some ideas.  When I told my husband about these ideas, he heard "whoopie pie," giggled, and said "Make those!"  I really hemmed and hawed, since they involved so many steps plus wouldn't have been cooking in my own kitchen.

But, I went for it anyway, and forced my husband to help.  Because, after all, I was only making these at his request.

So, they involved a lot of steps, took a lot of time, but otherwise were really EASY.  And they were AWESOME.  I took them to the party, and don't really know how folks liked them because we had to leave early with an unhappy baby, but WE loved them.  It was much like eating a banana pancake with deliciousness on top; I think they'd be even better with the addition of walnuts to the cookie part.

I wasn't happy with how the caramel sauce turned out; I think I overcooked the sugar a little bit, and on its own, it tasted...weird.  But in the whoopie pie, it was delicious!!

Another WIN from Annie's Eats

Banana Caramel Whoopie Pies
Yield: 30-36 sandwich cookies
For the caramel sauce:
½ cup sugar
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
¼ tsp. coarse salt
½ tsp. vanilla extract
For the cookies:
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
½ cup mashed banana (about 1-1½ bananas)
½ cup sour cream
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup light brown sugar
1 large egg
½ tsp. vanilla extract
For the filling:*
3 large egg whites, at room temperature
¾ cup sugar
Pinch of salt
16 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into 1 tbsp. pieces, at room temperature
½ cup caramel sauce (above)
*This will make more filling/frosting than you actually need for this recipe (I had about 1 cup extra).  You could reduce to 2/3 or simply save for another use.
To make the caramel sauce, spread the sugar out in an even layer in a medium skillet or saucepan over medium heat.  Once the sugar starts to liquefy around the edges, stir it gently with a spatula towards the center.  Continue stirring gently until all of the sugar is melted and no hard bits remain.  Once the caramel reaches a deep amber color, remove it from the heat.  (If you are using a dark pan, test a drop on a white plate or towel so you can accurately assess the color.)  Off the heat, carefully whisk in half of the cream.  The mixture will bubble and steam violently.  Stir until the cream is thoroughly combined, then whisk in the remaining cream.  Some of the sugar will likely have clumped up around the whisk.  Return the pan to medium-low heat and continue to whisk gently until everything is melted and smooth.  Stir in the salt and vanilla.  Remove from the heat and let cool.  (This sauce can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator and reheated.)
To make the cookies, preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Line baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper.  In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt; whisk to blend, and set aside.  In a small bowl, combine the mashed banana and sour cream.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugars on medium high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Blend in the egg and vanilla.  With the mixer on low speed, add in the dry ingredients in three additions alternating with the banana mixture, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.  Mix each addition just until incorporated.
Pipe the batter using a plain round tip onto the prepared baking sheets into 1¼-inch rounds, spacing a couple of inches apart.  Bake until the cookies are just set and the bottom edges are starting to brown, about 10-12 minutes.  Let cool on the baking sheets 5-10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
To make the filling, combine the egg whites and sugar in a large heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water.  Heat the mixture, whisking very frequently, until the sugar is completely dissolved and reaches 160° F on an instant read thermometer.  Transfer the mixture to the clean, dry bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Beat on medium-high speed until the mixture holds stiff peaks.  Reduce the speed to medium low, add in the salt and begin adding the butter one piece at a time, beating well after each addition.  Stir in ½ cup of the cooled caramel sauce until well blended.
Once the cookies are completely cooled, match them up in pairs by size.  Fill a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip with the caramel filling.  Pipe a dollop of filling onto the flat side of one cookie of each pair, and sandwich the cookies together, pushing the filling to the edges.  Store in an airtight container.
Source: caramel sauce slightly adapted from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz, cookie from Martha Stewart, frosting from Half Baked, all via Annie's Eats

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Baked Scallops

I haven't been feeling well today, so asked hubby to cook dinner. We were going to make Scallops fra Diavolo, but didn't have brandy/cognac or diced tomatoes, so looked for something else. This came up, and we had all the ingredients.

We weren't big fans of this; I said there was way too much bread crumb. He then told me that the original recipe called for 1.5lb of scallops, and that he had 1lb but didn't cut the other ingredients. So it's worth another try for sure.

It was definitely an easy recipe; it only took him about 15 minutes to put together. If you're looking for a fast, easy meal with ingredients you likely have on hand, it's worth a try, but just make sure you scale back on the other ingredients if you don't have the right amount of scallops.

I wonder how this would be with shrimp......

Baked Scallops from allrecipes

4 tablespoons butter, melted
1 1/2 pounds bay scallops, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup seasoned dry bread crumbs
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
Pour melted butter into a 2 quart oval casserole dish. Distribute butter and scallops evenly inside the dish.
Combine the bread crumbs, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, parsley, minced garlic and Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle this mixture over the scallops.
Bake in pre-heated oven until scallops are firm, about 20 minutes.
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Monday, May 23, 2011

Coconut Chicken Fingers

A few months ago, Lisa hosted a challenge to cook through an article about preparing chicken different ways. Patrizia completed this recipe, and while I was intrigued, it took a really long time for it to make it into the meal plan.

I really had no idea what to serve on the side with this, so I made roasted broccoli, omitting the lemon and pepper. It turned out great, unlike my last attempt at roasting broccoli, which resulted in a disgusting burned disaster. I also made roasted potatoes from allrecipes. We were all super happy with how the sides turned out!

As far as the chicken fingers, I did a little thinking, inspired by the comments on the original recipe, and decided to bake instead of fry them. I already had the oven going for the sides, and figured doing so would allow me to clean up the kitchen a little bit or play with the family. I found this Rachael Ray recipe and used it as a starting point. My oven was already at 450, so instead of baking for 12 minutes, I set the timer for 10 minutes and kept an eye on them.

I really enjoyed my chicken fingers, and so did A. E wasn't interested and M said he thought they were ok but nothing special. They were a little on the bland side, I guess, but when dipped in a tiny bit of apricot preserves, they were outstanding.

I used one of my own packages of chicken breast. I typically package in 1lb increments. Tonight's package was only one (rather large) breast, so I'm not sure how much it actually was... For the amount I had, I used 1/2c of flour, and I used coconut as needed... I'll keep their measurements for you just in case.

I don't know if my sides really went together or compimented the meal, but each component was delicious on its own.

Coconut Chicken Fingers adapted from Cooking Light January 2011

1lb skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into 1/2-inch-thick strips
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
1 cup AP flour
1 cup whole buttermilk
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups unsweetened flaked coconut
3 tablespoons canola oil
Sweet chile sauce (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Place flour in a shallow dish. Combine buttermilk and egg in a shallow dish, stirring well. Place coconut in a shallow dish. Dredge chicken in flour; shake off excess. Dip chicken in egg mixture; dredge in coconut. Place on a baking sheet lined with silpat or parchment paper.
2. Bake chicken for 10 minutes, or until golden. Serve with chile sauce, if desired.
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Meal Plan Monday

I have this habit of losing my meal plan.  I map it out on a piece of scrap paper, the other half of which is my grocery list.  That gets tossed into a grocery bag at the end of the grocery shop, and then gets lost.  I'm now using a dry erase board to map out my meal plan, which doesn't get lost, but my son has a habit of getting it down and coloring/wiping it.  So maybe putting it here will help me not lose my plan and my recipes....

Monday:  Coconut Chicken Fingers
Tuesday:  Coconut Shrimp with Pineapple Salsa
Wednesday:  Scallops Fra Diavolo with Linguine
Thursday:  Pizza, maybe BBQ or Ranch Chicken...  or maybe something new?
Friday-Sunday:  Memorial Day weekend at my parents' house.  I need to make a dessert to bring to a party, and got some great ideas from Annie's Eats and a facebook friend.  Judy suggested this Carrot Cake, and these look really interesting from Annie's Eats...  Banana Caramel Whoopie Pies, Chocolate Raspberry Truffle Layer Cake,
Strawberry Cream Cheese Tart

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Baked Rice and Peas

I have this problem with rice.  It NEVER comes out as it's supposed to, although sometimes Minute Rice works in the microwave for me.  I can time it exactly as the recipe states, and it's crunchy.  Then I'm all frustrated because I FINALLY timed a meal so that the sides were ready at the same time as the main dish and now I have to add ten or twenty or more time to the rice.

This?  Came out perfect.  It was soft with just a little bit of bite, it had flavor, and it was SO EASY.  Much like a crockpot meal, you dump all the stuff into the pot, put it in the oven, and don't touch it till the timer goes off.  WORD UP.

Baked Rice and Peas originally from Gina's Weight Watcher Recipes 
Servings: 5
  • 1 cup uncooked long grain rice
  • 14.5 oz can fat free chicken broth
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 2 tbsp parmesan cheese
  • 5 oz (1/2 package) frozen peas
Preheat oven to 350°. Combine all ingredients in a oven-safe baking dish with a lid. Place a piece of tin foil between the lid and the dish to ensure no steam escapes. Bake 45 minutes (do not open, do not peek, do not stir to rice). When 45 minutes is up, remove from oven and let it sit for 10 more minutes to allow the steam to finish cooking the rice, (do not open, do not peek, do not stir to rice). After 10 minutes, remove lid and fluff with a fork.

Chicken and Mushrooms in a Garlic Wine Sauce

I've been feeling the effects on my body of two babies and not making the gym a priority.  In other words, the jelly belly has been bothering me.  So, I wandered over to "Skinny Taste" for some ideas and inspiration and found this meal.

Woohoo, success! My husband liked his meal, my sonS (!!) both cleared their plates, and I thought it tasty too.  It was a really easy meal to make and the results are almost worthy of company.  My husband thought something was missing, saying he thought it was something like a marsala but not quite.  The sauce is so completely different from marsala, I really didn't know what he was talking about, but I guess it's similar in the preparation and inclusion of mushrooms.  But I assure you, it's completely different.

As Gina suggested, I served this with Baked Rice and Peas.

Chicken and Mushrooms in a Garlic White Wine Sauce, very slightly adapted from Gina's Weight Watcher Recipes
Servings: 4

  • 1 lb chicken breast, sliced into 1" strips
  • 2 tsp butter
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1/8 cup all purpose flour
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 12 oz sliced mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1/3 cup fat free chicken broth
  • salt and fresh pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Season chicken with salt and pepper. Toss the chicken pieces in a bowl of the flour.

Heat a large skillet on medium heat; when hot add 1 tsp butter and 1 tsp olive oil. Add chicken to the skillet and cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes on each side, or until chicken is no longer pink. Set aside.

Add additional oil and butter to the skillet, then garlic and cook a few seconds; add mushrooms, salt and pepper stirring occasionally until golden, about 5 minutes.

Add wine, chicken broth, parsley; stir the pan with a wooden spoon breaking up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook a few more minutes or until the liquid reduces by half. Top the chicken with the mushroom sauce and serve.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of TwoOfUs for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

I've been given an opportunity to share information with you about a website called Two of Us.  This website gives tips on keeping your relationship fresh no matter in what stage of "life" your relationship is in. 

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Check out twoofus.org by going to their website directly, or you can like twoofus.org on facebook.  They also have a video of actor Hill Harper discussing what he calls "Conversation Parties."  The host sets up a party and has talking points about relationships, particularly the differences between the genders.  I thought the interview was really interesting, and you can view it here.

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Friday, May 13, 2011

Southwest Turkey Meatballs with Creamy Cilantro Dipping Sauce

I don't follow Weight Watchers, but have been feeling the effects of two children on my belly, so I turned to Gina's Skinny Recipes, aka: Skinny Taste for some of my meal planning this week. I'm not sure what it was about this recipe that caught my eye, but it definitely did.

I definitely de-skinnified this quite a bit. See, I served it on a roll, and it's not even a whole wheat one. Making the sauce, I only had full fat mayo, and I only had whole milk yogurt (which I strained a little bit, but not enough that the sauce was the consistency I wanted). So, in the end, I took this Skinny Taste and made it a Fatty Taste (though certainly no "fat sandwich," a specialty at the university around the corner from us).

I especially liked that this involved baking the meatballs, because when I fry meatballs? I get so frustrated, they fall apart, etc etc. These are baked; hooray!! So much easier anyway.

I thought these meatballs were delicious--with the sauce, without the sauce, on the roll, and the sauce was delicious on my salad. Again, E-boy went nuts because he loves food. A-boy ate "enough" of his meatballs. M did not like it; when I asked what he didn't like, he said he didn't like any of it, but most especially the sauce. Sigh.

I definitely suggest you make these, cause MY tastebuds are the RIGHT ones.

Southwest Turkey Meatballs by: Gina's Skinny Recipes

1-1/4 lbs 99% lean ground turkey
1 jalapeño, seeds removed (leave some in for spicier meatballs)
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 scallions
1/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1 egg
1 tsp cumin
pinch oregano
salt and fresh pepper
cooking spray
Creamy Cilantro Tomatillo Dipping Sauce; recipe follows

Lightly spray baking pan with oil. Preheat oven to 400°.Place jalapeño, garlic, cilantro, and scallions into a small food processor or chopper and pulse a few times until finely minced.In a large bowl combine turkey, chopped herbs, bread crumbs, egg, cumin, salt and pepper. Using your hands, mix well and measure 1/4 cup meat, then divide in two so you end up with each meatball 1/8 cup in size. Roll and place on a baking pan.
Bake meatballs at 400° 15 minutes.

Creamy Cilantro Tomatillo Dipping Sauce by Gina's Skinny Recipes

1/2 cup lowfat buttermilk
1/4 cup light mayonnaise
1/4 cup fat free Greek yogurt
1 small jalapeno, seeds removed, leave them in if you want it spicy
1/4 cup of fresh cilantro
1 tomatillo, husks removed, chopped
1 clove garlic
1 scallion
juice of 1/2 lime
1/2 tsp dried parsley flakes
1/8 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
1/4 tsp salt
Combine all ingredients in a blender.
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Bruschetta Grilled Pizza

If you're one of the two people who reads this thing, you know how much I love mozzarella, tomato, and basil, and you also know that I've been playing around a lot with homemade pizza. When I saw that Stephanie Cooks had recreated Bruschetta Pizza from her favorite pizza place, I knew I'd have to try it too. I also decided that it should be done on the grill.

I'm not the best at reading for comprehension, I guess, and so added the pesto in with the tomato marinade. I'm not sure if it impacted the flavor or not, because it was still awesome, but it did save me a step--speed is imperative when making your pizza on the grill. Here's a refresher on how I make grilled pizza, and I used Perfect Pizza Dough from Annie's Eats, this time adding Italian seasoning and garlic powder to the dough.

As for the boys... Baby E devoured his. Like, shoving way too big pieces in a full mouth devoured. A took a teensy tiny bite and asked for something else (I'm sensing a trend, perhaps a power struggle round here?), and M liked it, but thought the red wine vinegar was a little too strong (I understood what he meant after a few bites when my tongue started tingling from the tang... I may have gone a little heavy handed with it, since I was at the very end of the bottle).

As for me, I loved this. It was one of those, "I'm not hungry anymore, but I can't stop eating this" kind of yummies. So I encourage you to give Stephanie's recipe a try!!

Bruschetta Pizza, very slightly adapted from Stephanie Cooks
1 batch of pizza dough
1/4 cup pesto sauce
3 plum tomatoes, seeded and diced
2 tbsp. chopped red onion
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
3 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
Shredded mozzarella cheese

1- In a small bowl combine the tomatoes, red onion, garlic, olive oil, and red wine vinegar. Set the bowl in the fridge and allow it to marinade for at least an hour.
2- Preheat the grill on medium.
3- Stretch your dough into round or rectangle shapes; I used 1/4 of my dough for each pie. Brush one side with olive oil. Drain the bruschetta mixture of all oils and other juices. Take the dough, marinated bruschetta, and shredded cheese out to the grill. Lower the grill to low. Place each dough on the grill, oiled side down. Oil the other side of the dough. Cook until it starts to bubble (like ready to flip pancake). Flip each dough and MOVING VERY QUICKLY, top with bruschetta mixture and cheese (at this point, the cheese was having a hard time melting, so I turned the grill temp up to medium again. Just keep an eye on it). Cook until the cheese is melty and the bottom is cooked through.
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Freschetta Winner!!

Comment number 9, from Lishie is the winner of the Freschetta Pizza and cheese board!
Lishie's winning entry was:
Lishie said...
I follow you on FB :)
May 4, 2011 7:11 PM

I've seen a few other contests still going on for the same prize, so you can still win if you're interested. Here is one I've seen (though her entries are high; currently 44).

Thank you all for entering!
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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Balsamic Portobello and Radicchio

I served with broccoli, and really wish I'd had some of the balsamic reduction to drizzle over it.  Yum!
When I saw this post on my friend Lishie's blog, I nearly started salivating.  She promised it was a decent substitute for steak (well, maybe she didn't promise... maybe my steak starved self extrapolated the promise) but completely meat free.

It also sounded delicious.  I made it tonight, and was a little surprised that this was meant as a main course.  See, the finished product didn't seem all that filling to me--a side dish or topping sure, but as a main?  So, I made some pasta to go along.

Upon his first taste, M exclaimed that the mushrooms were REALLY good.  His assessment was that pasta was not a good choice, but thought they would be really great over chicken.  I agree with his assessment, except for the pasta bit.  I thought it was quite tasty with the pasta.

The boys wouldn't eat anything but pasta.  Stinkers.

Here's the dish the way I made it... slightly different from Lishie's.  I did use chicken stock because that's what I had open, so it wasn't completely vegetarian, but that's a super easy substitution!

Balsamic Portobello and Radicchio slightly adapted from DeLish

  • 1/3lb your favorite shape pasta
  • 1T Extra virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
  • 4 Portobello Mushroom Caps, sliced
  • 1/2 Radicchio head, shredded
  • 1 TBSp Sugar
  • 3T thinly sliced fresh Basil
  • 1/4 cup Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1/4 cup Chicken Stock

Cook pasta according to package directions.  Heat oil on medium-high heat. When it starts to shimmer, add garlic.  When it starts to sizzle, add the sliced portobello to the saute pan. Cook until the mushrooms are darker and cooked down (smaller), continuously mixing. Add the shredded radicchio & stir together with the mushrooms. Keep mixing & sauteing until the radicchio is wilted. Add the sugar & basil & stir/saute for another minute. Add in the balsamic vinegar & allow it to cook down (become half its amount & thicker). Then carefully add the stock & simmer for 5 more minutes.  Mix the cooked pasta into the pan so it's evenly coated with the sauce.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes

My picture looks awful.  Go to Annie's blog and see her little cuties.

These were a little bit more work than other cupcakes I've made, but I've gotta tell ya, they were worth it.  Everyone raved about these babies, even saying they thought I'd never top Annie's Cherry Coke cupcakes.

I had a little bit of trouble with the frosting, which a look at the comments on her recipe shows others had the same problem.  I put the frosting in the fridge for awhile, which made it pipable, but it was still really thin and not nearly as pretty as Annie's.  Maybe more confectioner's sugar?  I also had a problem getting these baked; I often have trouble with the oven baking properly, but when I checked these with a toothpick, it came out clean but felt REALLY soft.  We, of course, had to try one.  The strawberries made it really soft.  I almost decided not to frost them at all; the cakes were so awesome.

I think in the future, I will take Cook's Illustrated's tip of using frozen berries (they recommend it for pancakes, saying they hold their color instead of coloring the cake but also don't turn mushy) in the cake.

Anyway, make these cupcakes.  They're deliciously light (despite ALL THAT BUTTER) and springy/summery.  You might want to eat the frosting with a spoon, and some people around here might have done that very thing.

Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes from Annie's Eats

Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes
Yield: about 21 cupcakes
For the cake:
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. lemon zest
12 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
3/4 cup milk
2 cups fresh strawberries, chopped

For the lemonade syrup:
1 cup lemonade concentrate, thawed
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
For the frosting:
1 cup fresh strawberries, roughly chopped
12 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
18 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 2/3 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
3 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. vanilla extract
For garnish:
Fresh strawberries
Lemon slices
To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.  Line muffin pans with paper liners.  In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt and lemon zest.  Stir together with a fork and set aside.  In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter on medium speed until it is light and fluffy.  Add the sugar and beat until well combined.  Beat in the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition.  Add half of the flour mixture to the bowl and beat on low speed until just incorporated.  Add in the milk and mix until smooth.  Add in the remaining flour mixture and mix on low speed until just blended.  Fold in the fresh strawberries with a spatula.
Divide the batter evenly between the paper liners, filling them about 3/4 full.  Bake about 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Allow to cool in the pan 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Once the cupcakes have cooled, whisk together the lemonade concentrate and confectioners’ sugar in a small bowl to make the lemonade syrup.  Poke several holes in the top of each cupcake with a skewer and pour the syrup over the cupcakes, allowing it to soak in.  (Place wax paper underneath your cooling rack so you don’t make a mess!)
To make the frosting, puree the strawberries in a food processor or blender.  Strain the puree through a mesh sieve to remove the seeds, and set aside.  Beat the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth and very fluffy, about 5 minutes.  Add the powdered sugar and mix until smooth.  Add the lemon juice and vanilla extract and mix until incorporated.  Mix in strawberry puree, a tablespoon at a time, until you achieve your desired texture and flavor of frosting (I added about 7 tablespoons of puree).  Frost cupcakes as desired and garnish with fresh strawberries and lemon slices.
Source: cake adapted from Williams Sonoma, frosting from Annie’s Eats

Monday, May 9, 2011

Roasted Shrimp with Feta

 I took out and defrosted some shrimp in anticipation of making it.  Here's where I went wrong.  See, I normally forget, and then have to defrost it under running water.  So, when I actually remembered, of course things would happen and it would be several days before we could eat it.

I don't remember what those several things were, and the shrimp ended up smelling and tasting fine; no food poisoning yet!

I loved this.  It was really easy to put together, and due to the quick cooking shrimp, there wasn't my typical poor planning of taking half an hour to put it all together then having to bake it for an hour.

This was so yummy; I loved the flavors of the lemon and the tomato, and even the flavor of the feta (which I thought I don't like, but maybe I do???).  The shrimp were perfect and soft (so glad I had shrimp with the tails removed).  Because of the light lemon flavor, this is a perfect springtime meal.  Because it's warm, it's an awesome winter comfort meal, but not too heavy in the calorie department.

Roasted Shrimp with Feta, adapted from How Easy Is That? by Ina Garten via Annie's Eats
Roasted Shrimp with Feta
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3 tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup dry white wine
1 (15 oz.) can diced tomatoes, with liquid
2 tsp. tomato paste
1½ tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. black pepper
1 cup fresh bread crumbs
3 tbsp. minced fresh parsley
1 tsp. lemon zest
1 lb. large shrimp (16-20 per lb.), peeled with tail segments left intact, deveined
5 oz. crumbled feta cheese
Juice of 1 lemon
Fresh lemon wedges, for serving
Preheat the oven to 400˚ F.  Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion and cook until slightly tender, 5-8 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook just until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Add the wine and bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits.  Continue to cook 2-3 minutes, until the liquid has reduced by half.
Add the tomatoes with the liquid, tomato paste, oregano, salt and pepper.  Stir to combine, reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, 10-15 minutes.
Combine the bread crumbs, parsley, lemon zest and the remaining tablespoon olive oil in a bowl.  Toss well with a fork to blend.
Remove the pan from the heat.  Lay the shrimp in a single layer, tails up, on top of the the tomato mixture.  Scatter the feta over the top of the shrimp, followed by the bread crumb mixture.
Bake for 15 minutes, until the shrimp are cooked through and the breadcrumbs are browned.  Squeeze the juice of 1 lemon over the shrimp.  Serve with additional lemon wedges.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

It's funny; I never heard of Cinco de Mayo until I became of legal drinking age.  Or maybe I'd just never paid attention?

This year, I actually remembered and planned my meal plan around having a Mexican meal today.  Of course, I forgot to get the stuff for margaritas, but I digress.  That's right I planned!!  Sort of.

See, I planned to make this taquito recipe from Annie's Eats.  And I then read it called for cooked chicken.  At 5pm, I didn't feel like taking the half hour to cook the chicken before preparing the rest of the meal.  So, instead, I chose to make these quesadillas, also from Annie's Eats.

I was so excited to try a different variation of quesadillas, a meal we often make when grocery shopping needs to be done, but that typically consists of little more than tortilla, cheese, and diced cooked chicken.  Of course, fate was against me, and the grill ran out of gas.  So, we improvised by cooking on the stove.

When it was my plan to do it all on the grill, I didn't see the point of dirtying a pan to cook the onion, so instead used mild Rotel in place of the onion and tomato (and because I didn't have any fresh tomatoes). This made life a little bit easier.  I also added the onion, since I ended up cooking on the stove.

This had delicious flavor; the chicken rub was so much more yummy than plain old cooked chicken.  I'm glad I cooked 3 enormous breasts (as a note, Annie calls for 4 chicken breasts, but we ended up using one, and it made leftovers after making three quesadillas), because now I have some delicious cooked chicken to make quesadillas for lunch, or even taquitos!  I do wish I'd been able to try grilling the whole quesadilla, but it wasn't meant to be tonight.  Because the chicken was so yummy, I did wish I had more stuff to dress up the quesadillas, particularly some avocado.

Grilled Chicken Quesadillas, courtesy of Annie's Eats
Grilled Chicken Quesadillas
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1 tbsp. chili powder
2 tbsp. fresh cilantro, minced
1 tbsp. olive oil
Juice of 1 lime
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cumin
½ tsp. red pepper flakes
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts halves
Half a yellow onion, roughly chopped
2 tomatoes, seeded and diced
Corn tortillas (6-7 inches)
Cooking spray
Shredded cheese (pepper jack, cheddar, etc.)
Heat a grill pan or skillet over medium high heat.  Combine the chili powder, cilantro, olive oil, lime juice, salt, cumin and red pepper flakes in a pie plate; whisk to combine.  Add the chicken breast halves and turn to coat.  Cook the chicken until browned on both sides and juices run clear.  Remove from the heat and shred the chicken into small pieces.  Add the onion to the pan and cook until tender and golden, about 5 minutes.
Combine the shredded chicken, cooked onion, and diced tomatoes in a mixing bowl; toss to combine.  Lightly brush or spray one side of a tortilla with vegetable oil; flip over on a work surface so the oiled side is facing down.  Place about a quarter of the chicken mixture onto one side of the tortilla.  Top with shredded cheese.  Fold over the tortilla to sandwich the filling inside.  Repeat with the remaining tortillas and filling mixture.
Cook the assembled quesadillas over medium-high heat in a lightly oiled grill pan or skillet until browned on the outside and warmed through with the cheese melted on the inside.  Slice into wedges and serve with sour cream and salsa as desired.
Source: adapted from Confections of a Foodie Bride

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Porrrk Chops and Appleshauce

For the latest recipe swap, the theme was grilling.  I got a whole meal plan from the lovely Kelly.  We've only had a grill for about a year, so I really didn't know how to grill the pork chops, and so went to the internet.  I found a website that gave great instructions, but my instant read thermometer is still lacking it's battery, so I sort of guessed.  Argggh, they weren't all cooked all the way.

At any rate, M's first comment was "this is a really interesting rub."  I thought it was really tasty, but was nervous The Boy wouldn't like it, claiming it was "too spicy."  He didn't like the pork at all, but didn't say why.

I thought this was an interesting take on pork chops; my husband typically doesn't like them, generally saying they are too dry.  While he wasn't over the moon about this preparation (but he's generally anti pork chop in the first place), he didn't say he didn't like them.

As I said, Kelly gave me a whole meal plan.  In addition to the grilled pork chops, she also gave the recipe for the big hit of the night, Garlic Red Mashed Potatoes.  Everyone (except for the Babe, who seems to have an anti mashed potato texture thing going on right now) enjoyed these. 

Finally, Kelly made roasted asparagus (which I LOVE, but hubby will not touch), so I chose to make Roasted Broccoli, using a recipe from Food Network Kitchens.  Well, the parts that weren't blackened were pretty tasty, but those that were were pretty bad.  I couldn't figure out how to peel the broccoli stalks, despite reading a few tutorials online, so so just used the florets.  Gotta learn how to do that so I don't feel so wasteful.

Also, like Kelly, I made applesauce to go along.  Another hit here; I used Baked Applesauce, but since it was my intent to feed it to both kiddos, I used four small apples and one T of brown sugar.  It was still devoured by all four of us, so I will continue to reduce the sugar.

Thank you, Kelly, for the inspiration to make a complete meal using fresh ingredients!  I probably never would have tried pork chops on the grill without the recommendation.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Sugar Cookie Madness!

I've never really made sugar cookies in the past, at least, not that I can recall.  I know my husband made them with our son a few Christmases ago, rolled them super thin and they were...crisp.
But our budget for our son's first birthday party required getting creative, so I made these as the party favors for all the guests, after being inspired by a friend with whom I planned a baby shower doing an awesome job and assuring me they were so easy!  I contacted that friend, and she mentioned a Paula Deen recipe, but I went to allrecipes and found this one.

I remembered to make sure I rolled the dough about 1/2" thick.  These cookies came out awesome, and I went ahead and froze the cookies after they cooled.

Then, I defrosted them on Wednesday and frosted them using the Wilton recipe and directions, which I found on Brown Eyed Baker's website (her tutorial was super helpful!)

I then used a stamp on card stock and made a tag, wrapped them in a cellophane bag, and had a really nice looking favor.  I thought they looked really professional, for a not professional.

The Best Rolled Sugar Cookies, from allrecipes


  • 1 1/2 cups butter, softened
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt


  1. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cover, and chill dough for at least one hour (or overnight).
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Roll out dough on floured surface 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Cut into shapes with any cookie cutter. Place cookies 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets.
  3. Bake 6 to 8 minutes in preheated oven. Cool completely. 

Royal Icing, from Wilton, via Brown Eyed Baker

4 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons meringue powder
6 tablespoons water
Mix all ingredients on low speed for 7-10 minutes or until the icing loses its shine. Add more water by the teaspoon if it appears too stiff. At this stage you want to be able to pipe it easily:

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Freschetta Simply Inspired, a review and GIVEAWAY!

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of FRESCHETTA® for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.
Freschetta has a new line of frozen pizzas, and I was given the opportunity to try the new line.  This coincided perfectly with a crazy night in the Feisty home, so BAJ went to the store and picked up one of Freschetta's Simply Inspired pizzas.  He chose Chicken Bianco, because they only other variety available at our store had pepperoni, of which I am not a fan.  (I assume this lack of variety was because it's a newer product.  FRESCHETTA® Simply…Inspired™'s website lists 8 kinds of pizza, many of which sound awesome to me!)

I have to say, I was dubious that this thin crust pizza would be enough for us.  The packaging states that a serving is 1/3 of the pizza, but we cut ours in typical 8 slice fashion, an with a side salad, 2 slices was enough for me.
We thought this was fantastic.  It's really tasty, and though we're not typically white pizza fans, I really enjoyed the sauce on top.  This variety was particularly great because you've got all your food groups on one pie--protein in the chicken, carbs, dairy, and veggies (olives, roasted red peppers, spinach).  It's also reasonable in the calorie department, coming in at 360 calories for 1/3 of the pie.  As New Jersey residents, we have a certain understanding of what pizza crust is all about, and thin crust typically doesn't meet it.  This was good anyway, because it wasn't cracker like, as so many thin crust pizzas tend to be.
As someone who tries to be mindful of reducing her family's impact on the planet, it can be hard to buy convenience foods.  But, Freschetta has a new packaging for this product, which their website claims saves paperboard, trees, and fuel because it uses 30% less packaging.  But you don't lose any of the quality, either.  The pizza tasted delicious and fresh.
If you'd like to learn more about Freschetta's Simply Inspired line, you can:
- Visit freschettasimplyinspired.com to learn more about our eight great-tasting varieties, and find which flavor is simply… you!
- Check out @FreschettaSI on Twitter and “Like” www.facebook.com/FreschettaSim… on Facebook
*** On their Facebook page, they are offering weekly giveaways of awesome prizes through the rest of 2011. Also, starting soon, they will be offering the opportunity to download a $2 off coupon for FRESCHETTA® Simply Inspired on the Facebook page!

Freschetta has also given me the opportunity to offer a giveaway!  One lucky winner will get to a coupon for a free Freschetta Simply Inspired pizza AND a bamboo cheese board (they call it a cutting board, but it comes with cheese serving utensils and isn't sturdy enough to use as a regular cutting board.  It's a great piece nonetheless!)

If you'd like to win this prize, your mandatory entry (which must be completed before any o the other steps) is to comment with your favorite pizza toppings(s).
After you've done that, you can win extra entries by doing any/all of the following, and leaving a separate comment on this post for each entry.  Remember, each comment is an entry, so make sure you leave a comment for each thing you do!
Entries will be accepted until May 11 at 8pm EST, and the winner will be posted by May 12 at 8pm EST.

Visit Sponsor's Site

Monday, May 2, 2011

Chicken and Bacon Ranch Mac and Cheese

When I saw this recipe pop up from Lauren's blog, I knew it would be getting made soon.  See, I LOVE mac and cheese.  My son LOVES mac and cheese.  My husband, however, dislikes mac and cheese.  So, I need to find fancified mac and cheese recipes that he'll like.

He liked.  The boys liked.  I liked.

It was saucy, and cheesey, and carb-o-licious.  Lauren added steamed broccoli to hers, but we both said it would be good with some more mushrooms.  The original recipe used dried spice, but Lauren cleverly used dried ranch dressing mix (I had no idea such a thing existed, but how brilliant!).  I used some sharp cheddar and some monterey jack cheese in this; I think any mild cheese you like would work well.
Yummy, yummy!!

Chicken and Bacon Ranch Mac and Cheese by Cooking Light, via Lauren's Kitchen

  • 8 ounces uncooked Fusilli pasta
  • 3 slices pre-cooked bacon, cut into small pieces (reserve 1/3)
  • 8 ounces skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 1 breast)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 12 ounces skim milk
  • 1 can condensed 98% fat-free cream of mushroom soup
  • 4oz shredded cheese
  • 3 teaspoons Ranch dressing mix
  • Cooking spray
Preheat oven to 350.

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain.

Cook chicken in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add bacon to the pan and warm through. Remove from heat and set aside.

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat; sprinkle flour evenly into pan. Cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly with a whisk. Combine milk and soup, stirring with a whisk; gradually add milk mixture to saucepan, stirring with a whisk. Bring to a boil; cook 2 minutes or until thick. Remove from heat; let stand 4 minutes or until sauce cools to 155°. Add cheeses and dressing mix, stirring until cheese melts. Stir in broccoli, pasta and chicken.

Spoon mixture into an 8-inch square baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake covered for 10-15 minutes; remove cover and bake for another 10.
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