Saturday, January 30, 2010

Bagels

Two heater repairmen spent an hour trying to fix my heater late Friday. They ran several tests and checked everything thoroughly. Since there were two of them, I was really hoping they could fix the furnace. No such luck. The control panel needs to be replaced, and unfortunately, neither of them had that part so we won't have heat till Monday. URGH!

It was chilly this morning so I wanted to warm up the house by baking something. This was the perfect opportunity to try The Food Allergy Mama's Bakery-Style Bagels. If it continues to stay cold, I'm sure to do more baking this weekend. The warmth from the oven and the wonderful aroma of homemade bagels baking was very comforting. These were easy to make and definitely the best I've ever tasted. Seriously.

Captain Hook kneads away so I can prep my work surface.

Roll out bagel shapes, cover with towel and let rise for 10-15 minutes.

They're cooking in water...almost ready for the oven.

Fresh, hot bagels for breakfast. 
YUM!

Nice, golden, crunchy outside.

Soft, moist, chewy inside.
The perfect bagel.

Bakery-Style Bagels

Yield: 12 bagels

Ingredients:
  • 4 1/2 c flour
  • 2 packages active dry yeast (I used 1 1/2 tbs Red Star Active Dry Yeast from the jar)
  • 1 1/2 c warm water (110F)
  • 3 1/2 tbs sugar
  • 1 tbs salt
  • 1 tbs sugar
Directions:
  1. In stand mixer bowl, use paddle attachment and mix 1 1/2 c flour and yeast.
  2. In separate bowl, mix water, sugar and salt.
  3. Add water mixture to flour mixture and mix on low for about 1 min. using dough hook. Turn up speed and knead/mix for another 3-4 mins.
  4. Stir in remaining flour until dough comes together.
  5. Knead dough until smooth and elastic about 3-5 mins. Cover with kitchen towel and let rise 10-15 mins.
  6. Separate dough into 12 portions and shape into balls. Make hole in center and form bagel shapes. Cover and let rise another 10-15 mins.
  7. Fill large pot with water and 1 tbs sugar. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook 4 bagels at a time for 5-7 mins, turning once. Don't overcrowd the pot. 
  8. Use metal tongs to remove bagels from pot and drain on paper towels.
  9. Preheat oven to 375F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Place drained bagels on baking sheets.
  10. Bake 30 mins or until golden brown.

Source: The Food Allergy Mama

Friday, January 29, 2010

Coconut Chicken

Last week, I saw a tasty post for Coconut-Crusted Chicken Tenders. I really like all the recipes Meghan posts so I knew I wanted to try these. I IMMEDIATELY put this on my "food to make" list. Yuhhh-ummmm...coconut! I've made coconut shrimp before, but my 6 yr old can't eat shellfish so I haven't made them since. Coconut chicken is THE perfect alternative for my fam. Plus, my heater's broken so I just HAD to make these. See what I do for a little warmth around here? :)

The house is finally warm and it smells good, too!

Crisp, coconut crust...mmmmm......
That little, burnt, crispy part is my fave. :)
I topped my sticky rice with sweet chili sauce. It was the perfect complement to the coconut chicken.

Coconut Chicken

Yield: 2-3 servings

Ingredients:
  • 1 package boneless, skinless chicken tenders (I used 2 breasts, cut into strips)
  • 1/2 tbs vegetable oil
  • 3/4 c panko bread crumbs
  • 3/4 c shredded, sweetened coconut
  • 1/3 can light coconut milk
  • 1/2 c flour
  • 1 tbs salt
  • 1 tsp ground pepper
  • dipping sauce: sweet chili sauce, sriracha or red chili paste (optional)
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 400F. 
  2. Heat oil in non-stick skillet. Add panko, stir often and cook until golden. Set aside in low bowl to cool.
  3. Using same skillet, add coconut and brown. Do not overcook or it will burn in the oven when chicken is baked. Add to the panko in the low bowl. Mix well.
  4. Line baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking oil.
  5. Wash chicken and dry with paper towels. Dredge in flour, dip in coconut milk, followed by coconut/panko mixture. Place on baking sheet.
  6. Bake 15-20 mins or until cooked through. Watch chicken closely towards end of bake time to avoid burning the coconut.
Notes:
I had exactly enough panko/coconut mixture for 2 chicken breasts. Next time, I'll make a little more as we like the crunchy crust. :)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Award + "Ice Cream" = SMILES!

Since the end of November, I've been spending a lot of time in the kitchen. I didn't know I liked cooking so much! It can be labor intensive depending on the meal, but definitely rewarding when the family raves on and on about how much they like my dishes. Luckily, my family eats everything so it makes cooking for them really easy.

My hubby is stoked when he comes home from work and I have a new dish prepared for dinner. He says I've been making "very gourmet meals." He's even been eating leftovers for lunch (gasp!) so I know he really likes what I'm cooking up. :) 

My 6 year old son eats everything I make. He always tells me I'm the "best cooker ever." So cute. I'm very lucky to have kids that eat everything I serve them. The only food he doesn't care for is eggplant. He's allergic to eggs, so in his mind, "egg"plant is an allergen. Even though he knows it's not egg, he has a hard time eating it. At least he'll still take a bite or two just to keep trying it. He's such a good boy.

My 8 year old son has been eating up all the goodies I've been making. He loves to eat and he eats everything. There isn't a thing he doesn't like. Well, ok, he's not a big raw carrot fan but he'll still eat them when given to him. While I was making dinner the other night, he graced me with my very first cooking award. How sweet, is he?! It's the "Best Cooking Mama Ever" badge. He taped a paperclip to the back and slid the badge right onto the collar of my shirt. My time in the kitchen cooking, baking and cleaning for my family is totally worth it. :)

My award. :)
Awwww....what a sweet son I have!

~~~~~~~~

Sooooo with all the lovely compliments I've been getting from the fam, I had to treat them to something special. Something healthy. Then I found this. The boys LOVED it, and hubby, though nervous at first, even ate it. Success!

Creamy and cold...just like real ice cream!

Smooth banana "ice cream" was a hit!
The boys added chocolate fudge for their topping. 
YUM YUM!


Banana "Ice Cream"

Ingredients:
  • 3 medium bananas
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • toppings (optional)

Directions:
  1. Peel bananas and cut into small pieces. 
  2. Lay flat in single layer and freeze several hours or overnight.
  3. Put frozen bananas in food processor and puree them up. It'll start to look crumbly and not at all like ice cream. Don't worry...keep pureeing.
  4. You will have to stop several times to scrape banana mixture down into food processor. 
  5. Continue pureeing till you get smooth, creamy "ice cream."

Source: Adapted from Our Best Bites

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Soup!

When I'm cold, I eat soup. I really love soup and I love to make it, too. It's so easy and delicious! I just dig around in my fridge and see what I can throw into my big stock pot. Tonight's soup was delish. It was just what I needed to warm me up! Dig deep in your fridge and throw it in the pot. Don't worry...it'll turn out great!

Really. Tasty. Soup.

Soup with Pork, Veggies and Elbow Macaroni

Ingredients:
  • 6 c chicken stock or beef stock (I used 3 c beef and 3 c chicken stock because that's what I had in my fridge and needed to use it up)
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • half bunch spinach, stems removed and washed
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 1 orange bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 15 oz can corn, drained
  • 1 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 c elbow macaroni, uncooked
  • 2 pork tenderloin medallions, grilled and cubed (leftovers from the night before- throw in your "meat" of choice)
  • crushed tortilla chips (I omitted as I didn't have any)
  • monterrey jack cheese, shredded (to taste)
  • sour cream, optional (I mixed taco seasoning into fat-free sour cream for a little extra flavor)
  • habanero sauce, optional
Directions:
  1. Heat stock in large stock pot and bring to boil.
  2. Reduce heat and add chili powder, salt and pepper.
  3. Add veggies, beans, macaroni and pork. Simmer at least 10-15 mins or longer to let flavors really mingle.
  4. Pour soup into serving bowl, add crushed tortilla chips, sprinkle of jack cheese, dollop of sour cream and dash of habanero sauce (or your fave hot sauce).
  5. Enjoy with slice of bread and/or salad.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Baked Sausage Pasta

It was a cold day today and it even started raining by 3pm. Nice! Cold, wet weather for San Clemente...I LOVE IT! I wanted to make something warm and comforting for dinner. Yup, baked pasta was the answer. The boys really loved this and gobbled it up. They also asked to have leftovers for lunch at school tomorrow. :)

This was really yummy!
The baked fontina on top is delicious...

Baked Pasta with Sausage, Fontina and Basil

Yield: 8-10 servings

Ingredients:
  • 1 lb pasta - fusilli, elbows or shells
  • 1 lb mild Italian sausage, casings removed (not pre-cooked sausage)
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 6-8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 oz baby bella mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 c marinara sauce
  • 1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
  • sliced fontina cheese, enough to cover pasta dish x 2 (~3/4 lb, discard red wax)
  • 1/2 cup basil chiffonade (I chopped mine but chiffonade would've looked much nicer.)
Directions:
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350F. 
  2. In large pot, cook pasta according to package directions but ONE MINUTE LESS than required. Drain pasta and set aside.
  3. In large skillet over medium heat, add sausages and break up into small pieces. Cook until evenly browned, about 5 minutes. 
  4. Using a slotted spoon, remove sausage from skillet and put into EMPTY large pot used for cooking pasta. Leave oil and fat in skillet. 
  5. In remaining oil from sausages, cook onions until translucent. Add garlic and mushrooms and cook another minute. Add marinara sauce and diced tomatoes and cook over medium heat till sauce is hot and bubbling. 
  6. Season with salt and pepper. 
  7. Add sauce to large pot with sausage. Add pasta back to pot. Mix well.
  8. Spray 9x13" dish with olive oil.
  9. *Scoop half pasta mixture into 9x13" dish. Cover dish with sliced fontina cheese. Scoop remaining pasta into dish. Top with more sliced fontina cheese.
  10. Bake for 20 minutes or until cheese has melted. 
  11. Remove from oven and top with basil chiffonade. 
  12. Let sit 5 mins before serving. ENJOY!
NOTE:
*I baked the pasta dish with only one layer of cheese on top. The boys thought a little more cheese would've been yummy so I included Step #9 so that I remember to try that next time. If you prefer less cheese, simply fill dish with pasta and top with one layer of sliced cheese. :)


Source: Adapted from Week of Menus

Monday, January 25, 2010

Vanilla Cupcakes/Cake

Last week, I got an email from my first grader's Room Mom about an ice cream sundae party in celebration of their wonderful Teacher's birthday. With the rain, wind and tornado warnings we had, I couldn't even think about ice cream. Brrrr! She was open to other suggestions so I offered to bake cupcakes for the class. Plus, if I bake the cupcakes, my son can enjoy them with his classmates since he can't eat store-bought cupcakes or "regular" homemade ones due to his egg allergy. The Room Mom is so thoughtful, always making sure that my son is included, so I wanted to make a cupcake that she could eat, too. I bought soy milk and Nucoa and baked vegan cupcakes...these cupcakes were a HIT! The kids AND adults enjoyed them! Success!!!

Cupcakes are cooling...waiting to get frosted...

Cute cupcakes ready for transport. :)

I saved four for the fam...the boys will be SO happy!

Mmmmm....I can hardly wait to sink my teeth into one!

This is the BEST frosting EVER!
Dangerously delicious!!!

Vanilla Cupcakes


Yield: 12 cupcakes (double ingredients for 9x13" cake)

Ingredients:
  • 1 c soy milk (or milk)
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/4 c all purpose flour
  • 2 tbs cornstarch
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 c sugar (I used organic cane sugar)
  • 1/3 c canola oil
  • (1/4 c pureed tofu if making cake)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line muffin pan with cupcake liners.
  2. Whisk soy milk and apple cider vinegar in measuring cup and set aside a few minutes to curdle. If you prefer eggs, skip the milk/vinegar mixture and use 2 eggs.
  3. In stand mixer bowl, mix flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl.
  4. Slowly mix in sugar, oil and vanilla about 2 minutes. Add milk/cider mixture. If baking cake, add the tofu. Mix well.
  5. Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full and bake for 20-22 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. If baking cake, grease 9x13" pan and fill with cake mixture. Bake for 34-38 minutes and check with toothpick for doneness. 
  6. Transfer to cooling rack and cool completely before frosting.
Source: Adapted from No Whey! Vegan Treats Galore


Vanilla Buttercream Frosting


Yield: ~36 cupcakes


Ingredients:
  • 1.5 sticks Nucoa (or use Earth Balance, margarine or butter)
  • (1/4 c shortening - add if using butter...it stiffens the frosting)
  • 3 c powdered sugar (1 box)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 c vanilla soy milk (or milk)
Directions:
  1. Mix Nucoa (or butter with shortening) together.
  2. Add powdered sugar, vanilla and soy milk until combined.
  3. Pipe or spread onto cupcakes.
Source: Adapted from Endless Simmer

UPDATE: 2/4/10

My friend asked me for an egg-free cake recipe so she can have a bakery bake her son's birthday cake. Really? The bakery can't do a little research and make their own egg-free cake? Well, then...hmph! Forget them! I offered to bake Seanie's egg-free birthday cake and cupcakes and my friend happily accepted my offer. :)

I tried a new recipe and ended up with a HUGE mess-up! Everything turned out lumpy bumpy, the texture was more like a biscuit and the taste was just ok. Just "OK" is not ok for a 6 yr old's birthday party so I came back to this tried and true vanilla cupcake recipe.

Though I could've flipped this cake and frosted the smooth side, 
the flavor and texture just didn't do it for me.

 Lumpity-bumpity...
My boys ate these with some leftover raspberry buttercream frosting. They said they were good. HA! I think they're deprived of sweets and will eat anything. :)
-----------------
Soooo....I turned to this vanilla cupcake recipe because I've taste them before and KNOW they're yummy. I doubled the ingredients and quadruple-crossed my fingers and toes that the cake would look like cake when it was done baking. Everything turned out beautifully! WOOHOOOO!!!

GOLDEN!
Now THIS is what a cake is supposed to look like...

YAY for smooth tops!

Vanilla cake with vanilla buttercream frosting and an edible image placed on top.

Crazy for Cupakes!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Flour Tortillas

Mexican restaurants that serve fresh tortillas are the BEST! Seriously. There's something about fresh tortillas that are just so yummy. If you've had 'em, you know what I'm talking about. A couple weekends ago, I took my sis and her boyfriend to Old Town San Diego. When we were walking around, we saw a couple restaurants with gals behind the big window rolling out homemade tortillas and cooking them on a big griddle. They made it look so easy and the tortillas looked so fresh and delicious. I wanted one. I wanted one really bad but we had just eaten lunch so I was full. I made a mental note to make homemade tortillas at some point. 

I tried a recipe from Our Best Bites and they were beyond delicious! The tortillas were really easy to make thanks to my new stand mixer and my new Roul'Pat. Jeez, I LOVE my new kitchen goodies!

No, they weren't all perfectly circular but they were close enough.
I spread one with a little butter, rolled it up and gave it to my boys.
They raved on and on about how tasty they were. 
YUM!
Flour Tortillas

Yield: 10-12 fajita-sized tortillas, 7-8 burrito-sized tortillas or 5-6 large tortillas

Ingredients:
  • 2 1/2 c flour
  • 1 c very hot water
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/4 c shortening
Directions:
  1. In stand mixer bowl, mix flour and salt.
  2. Add shortening and mix well (will look like coarse bread crumbs).
  3. Add hot water (45 seconds in microwave was perfect for me) - should be hot enough to melt shortening but not so hot that it melts the dough.
  4. Mix until dough forms.
  5. Pinch off small amount of dough and form golfball-sized dough ball. Make 'em bigger if you want bigger tortillas. Ball up remaining dough.
  6. Make round tortilla shapes: take dough ball in palm of hand and flatten, maintaining round shape. Place on lightly floured Roul'Pat and roll out to round, tortilla shape. Roll to desired thickness (I prefer thin as they seem less doughy and more tortilla-ey).
  7. Preheat non-stick/cast-iron skillet (I used my pancake griddle) to med-low heat. Spray with cooking oil if needed (I didn't use any).
  8. Place raw tortilla on preheated skillet and cook until you see large bubbles puff up (if you see small bubbles, your skillet is too hot). When you see large bubbles, flip tortilla and cook another 30-45 seconds. I like to see a little bit of browning on my tortillas but don't over-do it as you can over-cook the tortillas.
  9. If eating immediately, stack cooked tortillas on a plate. Otherwise, place in tortilla warmer. If you don't have one, wrap tortillas in damp paper towels, then wrap in foil and keep in warm oven (170F) until ready to eat them. ENJOY!
Source: Our Best Bites

Thursday, January 21, 2010

5-Grain Blueberry Muffins

I keep a container of fresh blueberries in my freezer so I can add a handful to pancake batter whenever I please. Since I haven't made pancakes in a really long time, it was time to use them up in muffins. I LOVE blueberry muffins and I honestly can't even remember the last time I ate one. Plus, I've never baked them from scratch so I was excited to try out a recipe I found on Wholesome Sweeteners' site.

During my last shopping trip to Costco, I picked up Organic Blue Agave syrup in lieu of honey. I read about this sweetener on a bread post and wanted to try it out. The tag on the product showed a link to their website for recipes so I checked it out. While perusing their site, I found the 5-Grain Blueberry Muffin recipe. I was missing an ingredient, so technically speaking, I baked "4-grain" muffins. Baking these treats warmed up my house on this cold, rainy morning and was a nice breakfast treat to go with my cup of coffee.

Don't let the bumpy texture scare you. These are so delicious.
I gave one to my son's teacher and she ate it up right there on the spot. She loved it!

My boys thought these were "totally wicked!"
Who would've thought vegan muffins could taste so good?!

5-Grain Blueberry Muffins

Yield: 19 muffins

Ingredients:
  • 2 c flour
  • ½ c rolled oats
  • ½ c cornmeal
  • 1/3 c millet (I didn't have any so I omitted)
  • 1/3 c flax seeds
  • 1½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½  tsp sea salt
  • 1 c orange juice
  • ½  c vegetable oil
  • ¾  c Wholesome Sweeteners' Organic Blue Agave syrup
  • 2 eggs, beaten (I used 1/4 c pureed tofu)
  • 1½  c blueberries (I used frozen fresh blueberries)
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line muffin pan or spray with oil to prevent sticking.
  2. In stand mixer bowl, mix together flour, oats, cornmeal, millet, flax seeds, baking soda, baking powder and salt. 
  3. In separate bowl, whisk orange juice, vegetable oil, agave syrup and eggs (or tofu mixture).
  4. Add liquid mixture slowly to flour mixture till thoroughly mixed in. 
  5. Gently fold in blueberries.
  6. Fill muffin liners 2/3 c full and bake 30 mins or until done. Transfer to cooling rack.

Mashed "Potatoes"

When my chef friend, Kat, and I were training for the AVON Walk for Breast Cancer walk last year, she mentioned making mashed "potatoes" out of steamed cauliflower. Say what?! I LOVE mashed potatoes so I was excited to learn that pureed cauliflower could pass for mashed potatoes. She claimed that my family wouldn't be able to tell the difference between that and the real deal. She said it was that good. 

Well, I've put my family through the mashed "potatoes" test twice now. I made my first batch last month and thought it was pretty good. I got carried away and didn't measure the garlic powder which made it too spicy for the kids to eat. The second batch I made the other night was delish. I used real garlic cloves this time, minced them up and sauteed in butter before adding to the cauliflower. The second batch was super, duper yummy. BTW, my boys ate this up. They loved it! Don't let the cauliflower scare ya. This really IS good!

I think I prefer fake mashed "potatoes" over real mashed potatoes.
These mashies are very light and delicious.
I don't even like cauliflower but I can eat them when served up like mashed "potatoes."
I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.
Try it!

Cauliflower Mashed "Potatoes"

Ingredients:
  • 1 cauliflower, medium size
  • 4-6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbs milk 
  • 3 tbs unsalted butter (add more if you like buttery mashies)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 c shredded mozzarella (or jack) cheese
  • chives, amount is up to you (mix in or reserve for garnish)
Directions:
  1. Boil a large pot of water over high heat or get steamer pot ready.
  2. Meanwhile, clean and cut cauliflower into small pieces. Boil for 6 minutes or until well done. I prefer to steam mine. Make sure they're cooked through so they're easier to puree. 
  3. Melt 1 tbs butter in small saucepan and saute garlic about 1 minute.
  4. Drain cauliflower well and pat it very dry. If steaming, cauliflower should be dry enough to put directly into food processor bowl. Do not let cool.
  5. In food processor, puree hot cauliflower with sauteed garlic, milk, 2 tbs butter (or more) and salt and pepper to taste. Process until smooth.  
  6. Put into serving bowl, carefully stir in shredded cheese and mix in chives or simply garnish with chives on top.
Notes: Breast Cancer information. I'm walking another 39.3 miles with AVON Walk for Breast Cancer this Sept. in Santa Barbara. I'm walking for all the women in my life. We all deserve a life without cancer! I hope for a CURE! If you'd like to make a small donation, it will help me get to my $1800 fundraising goal. Thank you very much in advance!


Source: Adapted from Kat, my chef friend. :)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Blackberry Tart

I am so close to conquering this crust. Ohhhh, soooooo close, I tell you. I took lululu's advice from her comment on my chicken pot pie post and used the food processor. I was nervous because I fried the motor to my other food processor/blender making this very same crust but I did it. I'm glad because it was delicious and it turned out the way it was supposed to. Well, an improvement over the last crust I made so let's leave it at that. :)
mmmm.......

blackberries!

I topped it off with toasted, sweetened coconut.
This was such a tasty treat!

Blackberry Tart

Yield: 2 tarts (definitely big enough to share between 4 people)

Ingredients:

short crust pastry:
  • 1 1/4 c flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbs sugar
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, cut into little cubes (must be very cold)
  • 1/4 c water (use ice water and remove ice cubes before adding to flour mixture)
Filling:
  • 2 c berries (fresh or frozen mix of strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries)
  • 1-2 tbs sugar (1/4 c sugar if using frozen berries)
  • lemon zest (I used half a lemon)
  • 1 1/2 tbs flour
  • 1/4 c sweetened coconut, toasted (reserve for topping after the tarts have been baked)
Directions:
  1. Place flour, salt and sugar in a food processor and give a quick mix. 
  2. Add butter and process until mixture resembles a sandy mixture. While the machine is running, pour in cold water slowly. The dough should hold together when pinched. Add a little more water if necessary.
  3. Gather dough into 2 balls. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 mins to chill.
  4. Preheat oven to 400F. 
  5. Combine berries, sugar, lemon zest and flour in large bowl and set aside. 
  6. Remove the doughs from the fridge. Roll each dough on a floured surface into a 7" circle. Place the pastries onto the baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  7. Divide filling between the two pastries, leaving about 1" border around the edges. Fold up and seal the pastry edges, leaving the center open.
  8. Place baking sheet on center rack. Bake for 30 mins or until crust is golden brown and juice is bubbling. 
  9. Remove from oven and serve immediately with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.
NOTE: This made 2 good-sized tarts. Next time, I'll use my 8" tart pan. I can't believe I didn't even think of using my new cute, little, 8" tart pan. 

Source: slightly adapted from lululuathome

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Lemon Chicken

I must admit I was pretty impressed with General Tso's Chicken I made the other night and wanted to try another Chinese dish. I also wanted to use up the remainder of the Meyer lemon juice I had leftover from my lemon cupcakes. Lemon chicken is typically fried but I wanted a lighter, healthier version so I basically just cooked it in the marinade in a deep saute pan and then added the sauce at the end. I would have grilled the chicken, but since there was a tornado warning and it was raining heavily today, I wasn't able to use the grill.

My boys really liked this dish...YAY!

My dinner is spiced up with crushed red peppers and a drizzle of hot chili oil.
The four of us gave this a thumbs up!

Lemon Chicken

Yield: 6-8 servings

Ingredients:
  • 6 chicken breasts
  • 2 tbs rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tbs honey
  • 2 tsp fresh ginger, grated (can use ground ginger)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • slices of lemon for garnish
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • crushed red pepper
  • hot chili oil
Sauce: mix all ingredients in a med-large bowl.
  • 1 c chicken stock
  • 2/3 c lemon juice (original recipe stated 2 tbs lemon juice but this is "lemon" chicken, right?)
  • 4 tbs sugar
  • 2 tbs soy sauce
  • 2 tbs cornstarch
  • 1 tsp grated lemon peel
  • 2-3 drops yellow food coloring, optional (I didn't add this)
  1. Wash and dry chicken breasts and cut into bite-size pieces. 
  2. Place chicken in shallow dish (or ziploc bag) and add rice wine vinegar, honey and ginger. Marinate for 30 minutes.
  3. Heat oil in deep saute pan and add chicken pieces. Stir chicken often as they tend to stick together. Cook over medium heat.
  4. Add sauce to chicken. Bring to boil and stir often. Add yellow food coloring if desired. Cook until sauce has thickened.
  5. Serve with rice and garnish with sliced green onions. Add crushed red pepper and hot chili oil to taste.
NOTE: I set aside an orange bell pepper and an onion and forgot to add them. Saute veggies first then add to cooked chicken.

Source: Cook Asian Food

Monday, January 18, 2010

Coconut Cupcakes

I couldn't take my mind off these beautiful coconut cupcakes. The leftover shredded coconut I had from an ambrosia salad were just begging to be baked up in cupcakes. 


Cuckoo for coconuts...YUM YUM!

As I was reading up on the recipe, there were many comments about how good the cupcake was on its own so I skipped frosting them altogether. These were little explosions of coconut. Delish! When I bake them again, I'll top them with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting. YUMMO!

Coconut Cupcakes

Yield: 24 cupcakes

Ingredients:

  • 1 c soy milk
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 c flour
  • 2 tbs cornstarch
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 c packed sweetened, shredded coconut
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 c sugar
  • 3/4 c unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line muffin pans with cupcake liners.
  2. Whisk soy milk and apple cider vinegar in measuring cup and set aside a few minutes to curdle.
  3. Whisk dry ingredients in a large bowl.
  4. In stand mixer bowl, cream butter and sugar.
  5. Add coconut milk and vanilla extract.
  6. Alternate mixing in soy milk mixture and dry ingredients. 
  7. Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full and bake for 20-22 mins until done.
  8. Transfer to cooling rack and cool completely before frosting.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Meyer Lemon Cupcakes


My next-door-neighbor gave me 4 beautiful Meyer lemons and I wanted to bake something yummy to share with her family as well. I've tried baking a vegan lemon bar in the past and failed miserably so I spent hours looking for the right lemon recipe. Cookies? Cake? Bread? So many choices! I found TONS of great recipes and had a hard time making my selection. Then I had a hard time picking the frosting. Blueberry? Raspberry? Cream Cheese? AHHHHHH!!! I settled for Meyer Lemon Cupcakes with Raspberry Buttercream Frosting. I love that I found an egg-free recipe so I didn't have to worry too much about whether they'd turn out or not.

I thought the cupcake was lemony and delicious.
My first attempt at piping a decorative cupcake frosting. Not bad considering I was in a rush and frosted 2 dozen cupcakes in 2 minutes.
The frosting was good but too sweet for my taste. At least everyone else liked them and they looked pretty, too. :)

Meyer Lemon Cupcakes

Yield: 12 regular or 24 mini cupcakes 
Note: I doubled the recipe because I need 24 cupcakes but they were still pretty small.

Ingredients:
  • 1 c soy milk
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/4 c flour
  • 2 tbs cornstarch
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 c margarine, softened
  • 3/4 c sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • juice of 2 Meyer lemons (or 2 medium regular lemons)
  • 1 tbs Meyer lemon zest (or regular lemon zest)
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line muffin pan with cupcake liners.
  2. Whisk soy milk and apple cider vinegar in measuring cup and set aside a few minutes to curdle. 
  3. Whisk flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl.
  4. In stand mixer bowl, cream margarine and sugar about 2 minutes. 
  5. Add vanilla, lemon juice and lemon zest.
  6. Alternate mixing in soy milk mixture and dry ingredients. 
  7. Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full and bake for 20-22 minutes until done. Transfer to cooling rack and cool completely before frosting.
Source: The Boastful Baker 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Raspberry Buttercream Frosting

Ingredients:
  • butter, 1 stick (I used margarine to firm up the frosting a bit)
  • powdered sugar, 3/4 box
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 c milk
  • 3/4 c raspberry preserves
Directions:
  1. Mix butter and powdered sugar together. 
  2. Add vanilla and milk. 
  3. Add raspberry preserves and mix until combined. 
  4. Pipe or spread onto cupcakes.

General Tso's Chicken

I saw a tasty looking post for General Tso's Chicken so I saved it knowing I wanted to try it out. I've never heard of this dish before so I looked it up on wikipedia. They claim it's a popular Chinese dish. Really? I love Chinese food so how come I've never heard of this delightful dish? Hubby's apparently eaten it a few times so he was really excited when I told him I was making it for dinner. 

According to wikipedia, General Tso's Chicken is strictly a chicken dish with a little bit of broccoli served on the side. It's typically a sweet and spicy sauce but I couldn't add the peppers since I was serving this to my kids, too.
I love veggies with my meals and it's easier to get the fam to eat their veggies when they're all chopped up and mixed in with sauce.
I'm sure the General wouldn't mind a little veggies in his dish. :)

The fam really loved this dish. It was a very sweet sauce so my portion had crushed red peppers and a dash of red chili oil to spice things up.
OH MY! This was freakin' fantastic!
Pretty darn good for my very first Chinese dish.

General Tso's Chicken

Ingredients:
  • 6 chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 7-8 tbs cornstarch
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • olive oil
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, minced
  • sesame seeds for garnish, optional
  • 3 green onions for garnish, chopped
sauce: this makes a lot of sauce...perfect for us as we LOVE sauces!
  • 1/3 c hoisin sauce
  • 1/3 c ketchup
  • 1/3 c rice vinegar
  • 1/3 c soy sauce
  • 2 tbs sesame oil
  • 1/2 c brown sugar
  • 3/4 c water
  • 2 1/2 tbs fresh ginger, minced (I omitted because I didn't have any)
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, minced
  • red pepper flakes to taste
Directions:
  1. Wash and dry chicken breasts and cut into bite-sized pieces.
  2. Saute garlic, red bell pepper and onion about 6-8 mins. Set aside when done.
  3. In a shallow bowl, combine cornstarch, salt and pepper. Dredge chicken pieces in cornstarch mixture and tap off excess. You can also put the chicken and cornstarch mixture in a large plastic bag or container and shake to coat.
  4. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook chicken pieces in batches, using a small drizzle of olive or canola oil to cook each batch.
  5. Make sauce by combining all sauce ingredients in a small mixing bowl. Return chicken to skillet and pour in sauce. Don't add all of it if you don't like your food saucy. You can always reserve remainder of sauce for another dish. Stirring occasionally, cook over medium heat until thickened, about 3-6 minutes.
  6. Serve with rice and top chicken mixture with sliced green onions and sesame seeds. Add red pepper to taste.
NOTE: The next time I make this, I'll used grilled chicken cut it into bite-sized pieces and then saute it in the sauce. That will make it a little healthier. :)


UPDATE: 2/18/10 I marinated chicken thighs overnight using General Tso's sauce for my Bunco group. I grilled the chicken, covered with foil and kept it warm in the oven until the group was ready to eat. The use of thighs kept the chicken super moist. My friends really enjoyed this chicken.

Source: Adapted from My Muffin Thursdays
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