Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Easy Chocolate Terrine


Oh my goodness. Are you ready for a rich and decadent dessert? What if I told you that it was also gluten free? Ya, I know, you hear gluten free dessert and think it isn't going to taste good, but you are totally wrong. I served this with a little homemade strawberry syrup and it was absolutely amazing. And yes, it is just as moist as it looks. It is super easy to make. In fact, I threw it together while I was making lunch for my kids. 


Ingredients

1 stick unsalted butter (1/2 cup)
4 tablespoons milk
1 1/4 cups cocoa powder
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt


Instructions

1. In a medium-sized saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Once it is completely melted whisk in the milk and remove from heat. 

2. Whisk in the cocoa powder to form a chocolatey paste.

3. Crack the eggs in one at a time, whisking until well incorporated.

4. Whisk in the sugar until it becomes smooth and glossy. Add in the vanilla and salt and stir until combined.

5. Spray a glass bread loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray. Pour the chocolate batter into the pan and cook for 28-30 minutes at 325 degrees. 


Adapted from Scientifically Sweet



So now you want to know what a terrine is, huh?

A terrine is usually made out of meat, fish, or vegetables that have been cooked and then allowed to cool in a mold so that it holds a shape. It can actually get pretty complicated. Ever heard of foie gras? It's a really expensive gourmet french dish made out of duck liver that has been prepared in such a way that it forms a terrine. 

The above recipe is a chocolate terrine. Basically, you are making a flourless chocolate cake and forming it into a mold so you can put it on display all fancy like. You could always do it in a pie tin for a round shape which could make for a beautiful display. 

Monday, April 29, 2013

Chipotle Rubbed Chicken Thighs


Lately I've developed a loving obsession with chicken thighs. They are just way too good. The skin gets gloriously crispy, the meat always tender and juicy....heaven! They are super easy to make. I serve them with warm tortillas and a vegetable to make myself feel good. I smear the tortillas around in the drippings on my plate and I swear I'm in a trance. Don't think you can handle skin and bones? Think again my friend. These are amazing! With chipotle trending in the food world, you should be able to find chipotle chili powder in a nearby grocery store. That picture above? Looks burnt, but it totally isn't. The chipotle is such a dark color to begin with. It's actually a very deep red. Chipotle chili powder has a nice smokiness that is just so dang tasty, it might be addicting. 


Ingredients

8 chicken thighs
2 tsp chipotle chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 tablespoons butter


Instructions

1. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Spray a 9x13 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Lay out the chicken thighs in the prepared pan, skin-side up. 

3. Combine all the spices in a small bowl. Sprinkle generously over the meat. 

4. Divide the butter up into 8  little clumps. Place 1 clump on top of each chicken thigh.

5. Bake for about 45 minutes.





Friday, April 26, 2013

Maple Glazed Brussel Sprouts and Carrots


We went out for dinner last weekend at a fabulous little restaurant. They had the most delicious maple glazed brussel sprouts and with one bite I knew exactly what I'd be doing with the bag of brussel sprouts I had in my fridge at home. Unlike a restaurant, I can't easily bring myself to smother things in butter like they do, but my results were pretty darn good. I steamed my vegetables first because I was making a huge dinner that required lots of hands on time, but you could do the whole thing in a skillet for that extra caramelization. Just saute until the vegetables are tender (maybe 20 minutes). 


Ingredients

1 lb brussel sprouts, ends trimmed and then halved
4 carrots, peeled, and cut into 2 inch strips
1/4 cup real maple syrup
1/4 tsp salt


Instructions

1. Steam the brussel sprouts in a steamer (don't know how to steam? Check out my cooking lesson below) until tender (about 10-15 minutes). 

2. In a large skillet, heat the syrup over medium-high heat. Add in the steamed brussel sprouts and carrots. Season with salt and cook until the vegetables begin to caramelize (about 5 minutes). 



How to steam vegetables:

Steaming vegetables is a healthy way to cook vegetables. It requires no additional fats and the steaming process helps the vegetable itself to retain more nutrients and flavor.  There are a few different methods you can use.

1. Steamer

There is an actual specialized kitchen appliance you can buy called a steamer. It has a base, a steaming basket, and a lid. You just fill the base with a couple inches of water, put the veggies in the basket that fits over the base, put the lid on, heat the water to simmering, and steam away. 

2. Makeshift Steamer

A makeshift steamer can be made using a pot, a colander, and a lid that at least somewhat fits. You'd put an inch or two of water in the pot and then put the colander over it. The colander should be able to fit over the pot without touching the water in the base. Then cover it with a lid. It doesn't have to be a prefect fit. Just as long as it traps most of the steam inside. 

3. Pan

The pan method isn't perfect, but it does work. Pick a saucepan that is big enough to fit all your veggies in it. Put a half inch of water in the bottom and bring it to a boil. Add in your veggies, put the lid on, and reduce the heat to low so it just simmers. The water will create enough steam to cook the vegetables, but the veggies that actually touch the water might get a little soggy or overcooked. 

4. Microwave

Use a microwave safe bowl and just put a little bit of water in to cover the bottom of it. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and poke a couple holes in it to allow some steam to escape. Microwave until desired done-ness is reached. 







Thursday, April 25, 2013

Soda Marinated Steak Kebab (Dr. Pepper, Sprite, or Coke)


Grilling season is upon us and I am stoked! Okay, so I actually live in a place where it is grilling season year round, but springtime did inspire me to refill the propane tank that has been empty since Thanksgiving (when a brand new tank was left on until it was empty...yikes!). These kebabs are my favorite. The meat is so tender and juicy, with such a great flavor. These skewers were devoured! The secret is in the soda. It works wonders on that meat. 


Ingredients

Marinade
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons vinegar
1 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp pepper
1 cup soda (Sprite, Dr. Pepper, or Coca Cola)

2 pounds beef sirloin steak, cut into 1 inch cubes

Vegetable Ideas
Mushroom caps
Cherry Tomatoes
Red or Green Bell Peppers
Fresh Pineapple
Onion
Zucchini


Instructions


1. Put marinade and beef in a resealable plastic bag. Allow it to marinade overnight (or at least 4 hours). 


2. Remove steak from bag and discard marinade. 


3. Thread steak and vegetables onto skewer. Alternate ingredients to your liking. Be sure not to cram them all together. Leave a little bit of space in between them to allow for even cooking.


4. Grill over high heat until the meat is cooked to your desired preference (I prefer medium rare). 



Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Healthy Baked Meatballs


I love a good meatball. I mean seriously, it transforms the plainest old spaghetti into something extraordinary. A good spice element is important, yet these aren't spicy enough for my kids to complain.  I do love it when I ask my 4-year old how many meatballs he wants and he replies, "8!" I mean seriously, how is that little body going to stuff in 8 meatballs? Since I know I can get my kids to devour them I like to make them as healthy as possible. These meatballs don't use any traditional bread crumbs. Instead they are full of wheat germ, wheat bran, and ground flax. Ta-da! And they are totally delicious! I like to bake mine a bit longer so they get all burnt and crispy on the outside. However, I'll write the recipe for a normal person. After forming the meatballs they can be frozen until ready to bake. Just pop them in the freezer on a baking sheet and once they are hard, store them in a ziplock freezer bag. 


Ingredients

1 pound ground beef, lean
1/2 white onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp basil
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/3 cup milk
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 cup wheat germ

1/4 cup ground flax seed
1/4 cup wheat bran


Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly spray a 9 x 13 pan or baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Combine all ingredients in a medium mixing bowl. Mix thoroughly until ingredients are evenly distributed.

3. Shape into 1 to 1.5 inch balls. Whatever size you choose, they should all be roughly the same size for even cooking.

4. Bake for 25 -30 minutes. For extra crispy add another 15 minutes. 




Ground beef....there are some things you should know about it.

When you purchase ground beef it'll have a percentage written on it. This percentage will tell you the fat content. The range of percentage will be anywhere from 70% to 97%. That number refers to what percent of the product is meat. The rest of the percentage is fat. So when you buy 70/30 beef, 70% is meat while 30% is fat.

While fattier packages of ground beef are usually cheaper, more of the product will melt off during cooking since it is fat. However, as the fat melts off the meat will have a constant basting of liquid and flavor which prevents your meat from drying out. On the other hand, lean ground beef is obviously healthier. If you use a lean ground beef then you should be mindful of the fact that it will dry out easier.

I bet you are wondering what the difference is between hamburger and ground beef, huh? Simply put, hamburger can have fat added to it while ground beef is just a specific cut of beef (top round, sirloin, or chuck) with whatever fat naturally comes on it. Now you know!




Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Coconut & Lime Corn On the Cob


Corn on the cob was on sale and I was thrilled! Grilling time! We were having people over for dinner and my mind was racing with ideas. I ended up deciding to experiment with coconut and lime corn on the cob. I attended a nutrition class last week that had me wanting to incorporate a little more coconut oil into my cooking. The results were absolutely delicious. It's different, and wonderful, and guess what? You aren't lathering that cob in butter! This is a refreshing take on corn on the cob that will have you gobbling those kernels right off and then asking for more. 


Ingredients

12 ears corn on the cob
1/4 cup coconut oil
2 limes
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
12 pieces aluminum foil


Instructions

1. Shuck the corn.

2. In a small, microwave safe bowl, melt the coconut oil by placing in the microwave for about 45 seconds.

3. Squeeze the lime juice into the melted coconut oil and stir. 

4. Brush the coconut/lime mixture onto the cobs, sprinkle with cilantro, and wrap in foil.

5. Heat an outdoor grill to medium heat. Grill the cobs for about 20 minutes, turning halfway through.




Monday, April 22, 2013

Peanut Butter & Nutella No Bake Cookies



I sit around with a jar of nutella and a spoon way more than I would care to admit. Actually putting the nutella in with something makes me feel better about how much I consume. Especially when it involves a whole grain like oatmeal. It's healthy, right? Well, maybe not with all that sugar and butter, but whatever, it's better than eating it by the spoonful. Anyway, I was in one of those moods for dessert, but felt the guilt of the spoon, so I decided to make some peanut butter and nutella no bake cookies. Oh heavens, it's way too easy and way too delicious. Enjoy!


Ingredients

1 cup sugar
4 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup nutella
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
2 cups uncooked oatmeal


Instructions

1. In a medium-sized saucepan, combing the sugar, butter and milk. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat while stirring constantly. 

2. Once boiling, remove from heat and stir in the peanut butter, nutella, and vanilla until smooth.

3. Add in the oatmeal and stir until well combined.

4. Drop by the spoonful onto wax paper and let cool. 




Friday, April 19, 2013

Acai-Strawberry-Pomegranate Smoothie


I think this might be my favorite smoothie I've made in a long time. I think it tastes like a fruit roll up, but my husband's response was, "well, maybe those natural kind of fruit roll ups." Whatever. I love it and it's delicious. I bought the acai and pomegranate juices at Costco which means I've been eating quite a few of these smoothies and I'm loving it. It's tangy and tasty and packed full of nutrients!


Ingredients

1 cup frozen strawberries
1/2 cup acai juice
1/2 cup pomegranate juice


Instructions

1. Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. 



You've probably heard of acai as a superfood. It's packed full of antioxidants and all those good omegas you keep hearing about. The best acai juice you can buy will be labeled as 100% acai berry juice, organic, fair trade, with no added sugar. The kind I bought at Costco is the Sambazon brand which isn't perfect, but is fairly good, especially for the price. They've added agave to it. Freshly squeezed juice is always better, but because acai has a very short shelf life it is nigh impossible to buy it fresh in the United States. 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Greek Yogurt Waffles



I decided to switch things up a bit and have breakfast for dinner. Who am I kidding? We have breakfast for dinner all the time. However, this time I did do something a little different by making waffles. Not just any waffles. I made waffles with greek yogurt. It makes me feel better when I lather it with syrup to know that there is a redeeming quality in there somewhere. Yes, you can make these with whole wheat flour. They won't be as fluffy, but they will have that extra redeeming quality. This batter can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for about a week, making breakfast a snap! Just stir a bit before using. 


Ingredients

2 eggs
1 3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup greek yogurt
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon + 2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups flour


Instructions

1. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, yogurt and honey. Whisk for at least a couple of minutes until it is well combined and fluffy. 

2. Add in the baking powder, salt and flour and stir until well combined. 

3. Cook on a heated waffle iron until golden brown. 

***Leftover batter can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for about a week. 


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Crockpot Korean Pork Bulgogi Sliders with Quick Kimchi Slaw (Slow Cooker)


Fun fact, my dad actually lived in South Korea for a couple of years as a young adult. He fell in love with the place and I actually grew up eating bulgogi. Fast forward to when I was in college and my husband and I frequented a Korean restaurant where the waiters often stood by to see if we'd actually eat our adventurous orders. Apparently Americans usually just stick to the bulgogi.

Well, nowadays Korean fusion is all the rage so I'm jumping on the bandwagon and sharing with you one of the most amazing bites I've had in a while. I tossed a pork roast and traditional bulgogi flavorings in a crockpot and let it cook all day. In the afternoon I threw together the slaw when I had a minute. Then when I had a little more time I even made the slider buns (it might be overachieving). Minus the buns, the meal was a total cinch, requiring very little effort. And the result? A-freakin'-mazing. If you are like most Americans, you are probably freaked out my kimchi, which is traditionally fermented, pickled vegetables. Well, don't worry too much on this one my friends because this slaw is amazing and not at all like the stinky stuff you might be thinking of. These sliders are American friendly for sure, and will fill your mouth with a burst of flavor.


Makes 24 sliders, or 12 "burgers"

Ingredients

24 slider buns

Bulgogi
1 Pork Roast (3 to 5 lbs), trimmed and sliced 1/2 inch thick
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp oyster sauce
2 tablespoons sesame seeds


Quick Kimchi Slaw
1/2 head of cabbage, thinly sliced
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup green onion, sliced
1 carrot, julienned (or just use a peeler and make it into a pile of peelings)
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp sriracha
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon sugar


Instructions

1. Place the sliced pork roast into a crockpot. In a small bowl combing the soy sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil, garlic, red peper flakes, ginger, oyster sauce and sesame seeds. Stir to combine. Pour over the meat in the crockpot. Cook on low 6-8 hours until meat shreds easily with a fork.

2. Make the slaw by combining all ingredients in a large tupperware or bowl with a lid. Give it a good shake to make sure everything is well combined. Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving. 

3. Serve by scooping meat onto slider buns and topping with a strained, heaping spoonful of the kimchi slaw. 





Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Chocolate Pretzel Caramel Bars - 3 Ingredient Dessert!




I'm bringing you another 3 ingredient dessert that will have your tastebuds singing with joy. Sweet, salty, and full of deliciousness. 




Ingredients

2 bags chocolate chips
A couple handfuls of pretzels
2 cans sweetened condensed milk






Instructions

1. Melt 1 bag chocolate chips in the microwave (15 seconds, stir, repeat until melted smooth).

2. Spread chocolate in bottom of a 9x9 pan. Layer pretzels to cover the chocolate. Let chocolate harden. 




3. Pour 2 cans of sweetened condensed milk into a saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir constantly until it thickens (20-25 minutes). Remove from heat and spread over pretzels and chocolate. Let cool. 

4. Melt 1 more bag of chocolate chips. Spread on top of caramel layer. Let chocolate harden. 






When sweetened condensed milk is caramelized it is called dulche de leche. The sugar in the sweetened condensed milk provides all the sugar that is necessary to turn it into a caramel. Pure caramel is simply melted sugar. A creamy caramel has some sort of milk added to it like heavy cream. Dulche de leche, then, is simply a Spanish name for creamy caramel. 

There are other ways to caramelize sweetened condensed milk. You can do it in a crockpot, a pressure cooker, the oven, other methods in a saucepan, and even the microwave. Check out this article HERE for instructions. 

Monday, April 15, 2013

Killer Crockpot Carnitas (Slow Cooker)


Years ago I was watching Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. They showed a Mexican restaurant that people  lined up out the door for. Apparently they had killer carnitas which they showed how to make. I say they showed how to make them, but if you've ever seen the show you know that means they just listed off the ingredients and showed it start to finish in about 10 seconds. They made theirs in huge batches, but I watched it over and over until I figured out the proportions of ingredients. After a few experimental tries, and several years of making them, I'm pretty sure I've mastered pork carnitas. This meat is as good as it comes and makes one killer taco. If you are still making ground beef tacos, they will quickly become a thing of the past once you try this recipe. Get ready for taco cravings!


Ingredients

1 Pork Butt/Shoulder Roast (3-5 lbs)
2 tablespoons Cumin
1 tablespoon Chili Powder
1/2-1 tablespoon Cayenne Pepper (depending on how spicy you want it)
3/4 tablespoon Garlic Powder
1 tsp Ground Cloves
2 Bay Leaves
1 tablespoon Salt
2 cups Vegetable Oil


Instructions


1. Trim roast and slice into 1/4 inch thick pieces. Put directly into crock pot (or baking pan). I hate eating gristle and fat so trim, trim, trim!

2. Combine spices and toss into crockpot.

3. Add in the vegetable oil. Yes, it is a lot of oil, but fear not. If you skimp you won't get the same results. 

4. Toss together using hands until evenly coated with spice and oil goodness.

5. Cook on low setting for 6-8 hours until the meat can easily be shredded with a fork. 




More Great Slow Cooker Recipes:

   
  





Friday, April 12, 2013

The Secret to Crockpot Ribs (Slow Cooker)


You want your ribs to be fall-off-the-bone tender. The crockpot is a great choice. BUT, how do you go from this ugly mess:



To this?



Well I can tell you that if you just throw ribs and bbq sauce in a slow cooker for 8 hours, you'll get some fall-off-the-bone ribs, but they'll be kind of funky. The bbq sauce won't have caramelized at all, and the liquids in the meat will have produced a really runny bbq sauce liquid. I've seen the method out there of lining the ribs around the edge of the crockpot so that it caramelizes from the heat of the pot itself, but it just doesn't work for me because I almost always make more than one rack at a time. I find the crockpot to be the easiest method to cook ribs and it is my go-to method, especially when cooking for a crowd. Combine the ease of the crockpot with my easy secret tip and you'll have yourself some pretty dang amazing ribs.

Check out this video for a quick demo:




Step 1: Remove the membrane from the back of the ribs. See my video for an easy demo. Just slide your fingers around the side to loosen it up and rip it right off.

Step 2: Give the ribs a dry rub if you want. This step is optional. Some people like a good dry rub first for additional flavor.

Step 3: Put your ribs in the crockpot . Lather them with bbq sauce. You can use a homemade sauce or a store-bought bottle. If you are going store-bought I recommend using Sweet Baby Ray's. Just remember to save a little bit for later. 

Step 5: Cook on low for 8 to 10 hours. The more racks in the pot, the longer you'll need to cook.


Step 6: Gently remove the racks and lay them out on a foil lined baking tray. Add more barbecue sauce on top. 










Step 7: Broil under a broiler for 3-5 minutes until the barbecue sauce starts to bubble and caramelize. Alternately you could wrap them in foil and throw them on a heated grill for the same effect. I sometimes do this for crowds and picnics. This keep the ribs warm until ready to eat and makes it easy to pass out portions. 



Step 8: Enjoy!



More Slow Cooker Recipes:

   


Thursday, April 11, 2013

Slow Cooker Braised Lamb Shank


Lamb shank might be my favorite cut of lamb. Rack of lamb is fabulous is its own right, but there's just something about that tender meat falling off the bone that makes me love my shanks. It makes it the perfect cut for someone who is new to lamb eating as well. This recipe is made in a slow cooker (crock pot) which means it really isn't too complicated and you don't have to worry too much about timing and you can still put out a fabulous, gourmet meal. I do warn that there is some outside prep work involved. You didn't think you could just toss a bunch of things into a pot and make a gourmet lamb shank did you? Well, you almost can. 



Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil
4 lamb shanks
Salt
1 onion, cut into large chunks 
4 medium-sized carrots, cut into large chunks
4 celery stalks, trimmed and cut into large chunks
4 cloves garlic, peeled
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 cups cranberry juice
1 tablespoon dried rosemary
4 cups water
4 bay leaves

Gremolata
1 orange, zested
1 lemon, zested
1 bunch parsley leaves, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1-inch chunk fresh horseradish, grated



Instructions

1. Heat a large heavy skillet over high heat. Season the lamb shanks with salt. Add olive oil to the pan and brown the shanks on all sides. Once each of the shanks have been nicely browned, transfer them to the crock pot/slow cooker.

2. Puree the onion, carrot, and celery chunks with the garlic in a food processor. Put this puree into the pan you used to brown the shanks. Season with a little salt and sautee until it is pretty brown, about 20 minutes.

3. Add the tomato paste and cranberry juice to the veggies and use the liquid to deglaze the pan (scrape up any of the veggie bits that are stuck to the pan. Pour this veggie mixture over the lamb shanks in the slow cooker

4. Add in the water and rosemary. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. 

5. Before serving, make the gremolata by combining all ingredients in a bowl. Brown the shanks under a broiler for a few minutes before serving to give it that nice roasted look and flavor. Top with gremolata.




Recipe adapted from Chef Anne Burrell




More Lamb Recipes:


 

 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Egg over Roasted Asparagus with candied Bacon



I've actually seen several recipes like this out there. Eggs over asparagus. It's just such a lovely spring food! The egg yolk creates this wonderful, rich sauce for the asparagus. I might be in love with candied bacon so I chopped some up and put it over it as well. Oh baby! The sweet, spicy, saltiness of the bacon combined with the richness of the egg yolk, and the yummy asparagus made it such a delicious breakfast treat for me. And seriously, vegetables at breakfast? You feel awesome about yourself for the rest of the day. 


Ingredients

1 bunch asparagus, trimmed
olive oil
4 eggs
2 strips spicy maple-candied bacon, diced
salt and pepper


Instructions

1. Roast asparagus, drizzled with olive oil, in a 400 degree oven for about 10 minutes until tender crisp. Learn all about roasting asparagus HERE

2. Cook your eggs sunny side up (see cooking lesson below, it's easy!)

3. Divide the cooked asparagus up among 4 plates. Place one egg over each asparagus bunch and top with a bit of the crumbled candied bacon. Season with salt and pepper. 




How to make a sunny side up egg:

What? You don't cook eggs sunny side up because it is intimidating? Well, it is totally easy! 

Melt a tablespoons or two in a skillet over medium heat. Slide the egg onto the skillet. Cover with a lid or aluminum foil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Walk away and come back a couple minutes later to check on it. It is done when the whites are completely set on top around the yolk. The lid or aluminum foil is the key so that the tops of the egg white can get a bit steamed. That way you can have it cooked all the way through without getting a rubbery bottom. 


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