Thursday, February 26, 2009

Park City Cashew Chicken

This is another Rachael Ray 365 meal. It is a favorite around here. It is spicy and a little sweet, plus the cashews add a wonderful crunch. I have said before how much we love stir fries and this resembles a stir fry but with less Asian flavors. It may seem like the chipotles and maple syrup should not go together, but they do.

I have made this recipe many times because everyone here loves it. One change I have made is Rachael's recipe calls for more chipotles than I use. The first time I made it, I cut back a bit on the chipotles and it was too hot for us and we love spicy food. Once we cut it back, it was much better.

The recipes I have found online for this is different than the one in the 365 book. Most of the online recipes include water chestnuts and garden peas. I think those added ingredients makes it more Asian. I choose to leave them out and follow the recipe in the book.


2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 cups jasmine rice
4 cups chicken stock or low-sodium chicken broth
2 pounds chicken meat (tenders; skinless, boneless breasts; skinless, boneless thighs), cut into 2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons grill seasoning blend, such as Montreal Steak Seasoning blend by McCormick
2 to 3 tablespoons dark soy sauce, such as tamari (eyeball it)
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
3 tablespoons canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, finely chopped (available in the international foods aisle), or 1 1/2 tablespoons ground chipotle powder **if you don't want super spicy food, cut this back to 1 tablespoon. You can always add more if you need more heat**
1 tablespoon ground cumin (a palmful)
2 to 3 tablespoons honey (2 healthy drizzles)
1/4 to 1/3 cup pure maple syrup (eyeball it)
2 to 3 tablespoons cilantro (a handful), chopped
1 cup raw cashews

1. Start the jasmine rice. Follow the directions on the bag.

2. While the rice cooks, make the chicken. Heat a large skillet over high heat. Season the chicken with the grill seasoning. Add the vegetable oil (2 turns of the pan) and then the chicken. Brown the chicken on both sides, season with the soy sauce, then move the chicken to 1 side of the pan. Add the sliced onion, garlic and bell pepper. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, then mix the vegetables and chicken together. Add the chipotle chiles and cumin. Toss to coat. Glaze the chicken mixture with the honey and maple syrup and turn off the heat. Add the chopped cilantro and the cashews.

3. Spoon the rice into bowls, top with the cashew chicken and serve.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

A different stirfry

This is another stir fry dinner we enjoy. It is quick, easy, and healthy. You can change up the vegetables to whatever your family enjoys. We used ground chicken this night and along with the broccoli slaw, I added a bag of coleslaw mix instead of the napa cabbage because our market didn't have any the day I was shopping for this meal. I love stir fry because of it's ease and it is great to have on a night when you need a quick dinner.

1/2 lb ground beef or ground chicken
1 TBSP toasted sesame oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 green onions, sliced
1 C broccoli slaw
1 C napa cabbage, shredded
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 TBSP lite soy sauce
Crushed red pepper flakes, to taste

1. Prepare rice according to its package directions

2. While the rice is cooking, in a medium skillet or wok, brown the ground beef over medium heat until no longer pink. Remove the beef from the skillet, drain and set aside.

3. Heat sesame oil in the skillet over med-high heat. Add garlic and green onions; stir-fry for 2 min. Add the broccoli slaw and cabbage; stir-fry for 2 min. Add rice and soy sauce, stir-fry for 2 min.

4. Return the cooked ground beef to skillet with rice and vegetable mixture and season with red pepper flakes, to taste. Stir until ingredients are well combined and heated through, about 2 minutes.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Rock Star fun! (fruit roll-ups)

Back in January, I left a comment on The Life and Loves of Grumpy's Honeybunch in a contest where she was giving away customized fruit roll-ups. Amazingly, I won!

Next came trying to figure out what to put on the fruit roll-ups. My nephew wants to be a rock star and he received a guitar for Christmas. He'll be starting lessons soon, so maybe he will be a rocker one day with a lot of money and he can take care of his favorite aunt. Maybe I better save one of these roll-ups for when he's older to remind him how much I spoil him.

This is what I ended up with:

This was his Valentine gift and he thought they were cool. He took a few to school and has become the coolest kid there. All of his buddies loved them.

Thank you Shelby!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Happy Valetine's Day! (Caramel Peanut Topped Brownie Cake )

Valetine's Day screams chocolate. It helps that I consider chocolate a major food group. Add caramel and nuts, oh my!

In October, the Tuesdays With Dorie (TWD) group made the Caramel Peanut Topped Brownie which was picked by Tammy at Wee Treats. From the day I saw all the pictures of everyone's creations, I knew I wanted to make this. I was waiting for the right occasion and I though what is better than Valentine's Day.

Instead of making it in a spring form pan, I decide to make it heart shaped. I have several heart shaped pans (remember, I love Nordic Ware) and I try to put them to good use on Valentine's day. I doubled the recipe and it made a bit more batter than I needed. I think one and a half of the batter would be enough to fill the heart shaped pan. The extra batter was used in a smaller heart bundt pan and I froze it for one day when we need an extra treat but I don't have time to bake.

for the cake:

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 large eggs
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup sugar
3 tbsp light corn syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp coffee extract
1 tbsp espresso

for the topping:

2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 tbsp light corn syrup
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup salted peanuts

butter a 8 inch springform pan. line bottom of pan with parchment paper. butter and cocoa powder over the parchment. put the pan on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

to make the cake:

sift the flour, baking soda and salt together.

melt chocolate and butter together using a double boiler. stir occasionally. take off heat just before all the chocolate is melted. whisk again.

in a large bowl beat the eggs and sugars together until well blended. add in the corn syrup, followed by the vanilla, espresso and coffee extract.

slowly add in the melted butter and chocolate. gently fold in the dry ingredients, mixing only until they are incorporated.

you will have a thick, smooth, shiny batter. pour the batter into the pan and jiggle the pan a bit to even out the batter.

bake the cake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center comes out almost clean. transfer the pan to a rack and cool he cake for 15 minutes, then run a knife between the cake and the pan and remove the sides of the pan.

during baking the cake probably will have puffed to the top of the pan don't be concerned if tit sinks a little or it if develops a crater in the center.

cool the cake to room temperature.
when the cake is completely cool, invert it, remove the base of the pan and peel off the paper. wash and dry the springform pan, and return the cake to it right side up. refasten the sides around the cake.

20 minutes before serving make the topping:
put the sugar, water and corn syrup in a medium heavy bottomed saucepan, stir just to combine the ingredients and then put the pan over medium-high heat.

heat, without stirring, until the caramel turns deep amber, 5-10 minutes.

lower the heat a bit and, standing back from the saucepan add the cream and butter. when the spatters are less vehement, stir to calm down the caramel and dissolve any lumps.

stir in the peanuts, and pour the caramel and peanuts into a 1-quart pyrex measuring cup or heat proof bowl.

spoon the peanuts on top of the cake. then spoon the caramel on top of those. you will have extra caramel leftover to use on something else - like ice cream! you'll have a layer about ¼ inch high. allow the topping to set to room temperature.

to serve, run a blunt knife between the caramel and the pan and simply remove the sides of the springform. if this isn't the case, hit the sides with some hot air from a hairdryer or wrap the sides in a towel moistened with hot water.

Monday, February 9, 2009

My 100th post!! Let's celebrate with a Chocolate Overload!

One Hundred Posts! Wow. Who knew? When I started my blog it was a way to keep track of things I'd made and to share recipes with a few friends. I don't have a following, and that is ok, this blog is still very much for my friends and me. I do wish more friends and family would leave comments just so I know you're still out there, but I still appreciate you taking the time to view the blog.

This cake is the one I made for my mom's birthday. She is such a chocoholic, this was the perfect cake for her. It is a Chocolate Velvet Cake with White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting decorated with dark and white chocolate curls and pirouette cookies. It is rich, chocolaty, and DELICIOUS.

The recipes for the cake and frosting both came from MYRecipes

Chocolate Velvet cake layers


1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate morsels
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 (16-ounce) package light brown sugar
3 large eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 (8-ounce) container sour cream
1 cup hot water
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Melt semisweet chocolate morsels in a microwave-safe bowl at HIGH for 30-second intervals until melted (about 1 1/2 minutes total time). Stir until smooth.

Beat butter and brown sugar at medium speed with an electric mixer, beating about 5 minutes or until well blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition. Add melted chocolate, beating just until blended.

Sift together flour, baking soda, and salt. Gradually add to chocolate mixture alternately with sour cream, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed just until blended after each addition. Gradually add 1 cup hot water in a slow, steady stream, beating at low speed just until blended. Stir in vanilla. Spoon cake batter evenly into 3 greased and floured 8-inch round cakepans. Bake at 350° for 25 to 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.

Cool in pans on a wire rack 10 minutes; remove from pans, and let cool completely on wire rack.

White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting


* 3 cups white chocolate morsels
* 3 (8-oz.) packages cream cheese, softened
* 3/4 cup butter, softened
* 7 1/2 cups powdered sugar


1. Microwave white chocolate morsels in a microwave-safe bowl at MEDIUM (50% power) 3 minutes; stir until smooth.

2. Combine cream cheese and butter in a large mixing bowl; beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Add melted chocolate, beating well. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating at low speed until blended. Beat at medium speed until mixture reaches desired spreading consistency.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Chicken with artichoke and spinach dip

We love artichoke dip but since it is more of a party food, I rarely make it. Then one day I was trying to figure out something different to do with chicken breasts. I was looking in the pantry at a can of artichoke hearts and remembered I had purchased them to make artichoke and spinach dip for New Year's Eve but never made it. What if I put the two together? Chicken topped with artichoke and spinach dip? Turns out, it is divine.

Since it was after the new year and everyone has started watching their calories, I wanted to do a lighter version of the artichoke and spinach dip. This does not contain cream cheese like most artichoke dip but it does have a little mayonnaise and a bit of cheese, but when you divide it up as a topping for the chicken, it is not really a lot of it per serving.

Place four chicken breasts in a 8x8 pan sprayed with nonstick spray. Season with salt and pepper.

For the dip:

Artichoke and Spinach Dip
1 Tbl. olive oil
½ cup yellow onion, small chopped
6 – 9 oz. fresh spinach, chopped
1 (14 oz.) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
½ tsp. Worcestershire sauce
½ tsp. red pepper flakes
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
3 Tbl. mayo
3 Tbl. grated Parmesan cheese
4 oz. sharp white cheddar, shredded
pinch salt and pepper
½ cup seasoned bread crumbs, dry
1 Tbl. butter, melted

Preheat the olive oil in a medium high-sided saut̩ pan over medium high heat. Add the onions and cook for 2 Р3 minutes, or until slightly translucent. Toss the spinach with the onions and saut̩ for an additional 1 Р2 minutes, or until completely wilted. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Toss the artichoke hearts, Worcestershire sauce, red pepper flakes, Dijon mustard, mayo, Parmesan cheese, white cheddar and cooled spinach mixture until well combined. Season with salt and pepper.

Pour mixture over chicken breasts.

Toss the bread crumbs and melted butter in a small mixing bowl until the butter is completely absorbed. Evenly distribute the bread crumbs on top of the dip mixture. Bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes or until the the chicken breast reaches 170 degrees.

I served this with couscous and roasted carrots.