Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Chicken Tacos

I love tacos...mainly soft tacos from Chipotle.  My neighbor and I take the kids there every other week - sometimes more than that.  We don't even have to ask where the other wants to go to is always the same because we both like it and the kids, 5 between us, can get something they like and I can get out of there for about $9 on a good day.  Also, they play the music loud enough that no one looks at us twice even with our entourage.
I always get the soft taco and I always make mine the same...rice, beans, carnitas, extra corn salsa, cheese, lettuce, and sour cream.  So when we have tacos at home I always try to recreate my favorite combination.  I've made many tacos at home...but this rendition is right at the top of the list and the closest one to my usual.
Chicken Tacos - serves 4
3 chicken breasts
4 medium ripe tomatoes, chopped or 1 can diced tomatoes
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup chicken broth
2 heaping teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper
In a medium pot heat a tablespoon olive oil and cook chicken until lightly browned on both sides.   Remove from pan and add onions and garlic.  Cook until softened and translucent.  Add tomatoes and cook an additional 3-5 minutes.  Add all remaining ingredients and simmer for 30 minutes.  Remove chicken breasts, shred, and return to pan.
* I have also used leftover cooked chicken or meat from a rotisserie works beautifully...just add it in after the tomatoes have softened.

1 cup jasmine rice
2 cups water
1 Tablespoon butter
juice of 1 lime
Add all ingredients to a small saucepan and bring to a boil.  Turn heat down to low and simmer for 20 minutes.  Remove from heat and fluff with a fork.  Add a handful of chopped cilantro or parsley for a nice hit of fresh herb flavor.

Pinto beans
I love pinto beans on my taco.  For an easy fix use a can of pinto beans and heat with a teaspoon of cumin and a little extra salt and pepper mixed in.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Baked French Toast with Berry Sauce

This is a great option for a weekend breakfast.  It can be mixed up the night before and then you can sneak down in the morning and pop it into the oven.  Then you can sneak back to bed for awhile if you wish or relax on the couch for a bit before the natives start waking up.  It makes the whole house smell divine, which makes the rest of your family come down the stairs happy and hungry and loving you.  You get tons of credit  and you didn't even have to get a single bowl dirty.
I think that the mixed berry sauce is what really takes this Baked French Toast to another level and even that can be made ahead of time and reheated.  I also think the toasted almonds give it the texture that it needs, so don't skip that step unless you are opposed to nuts like my son can be sometimes.

Baked French Toast - serves 4
1/2 a baguette, day old is best
5 eggs
2 1/2 cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon fresh nutmeg
1/2 cup sugar

Tear baguette into large bite-size pieces and place in a buttered 1 3/4 quart or 2 quart baking dish.  (I spray the baking dish and then sprinkle sugar in the bottom.)   Mix remaining ingredients in a bowl and pour over bread.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 1 hour or until center is not jiggly anymore.  Serve with berry sauce and toasted almonds or your favorite syrup.

Mixed Berry Sauce
In a small saucepan mix 2 cups berries...any combination works, with 1/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup water, and 1 teaspoon cornstarch.  Mix to combine and bring to a boil.  Simmer for 5 minutes or until sauce thickens and berries start to break down a bit...add a little more water if sauce is too thick.  Remove from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes.

*This sauce is also delicious on pancakes, waffles, yogurt, cheesecake, or ice cream and it keeps well in the refrigerator.  I have even been known to heat a leftover biscuit slightly and spoon this sauce over it with a scoop of ice cream on the side.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Baked Eggs

My husband went nuts over these baked eggs after the first bite.  He loves them and so do I.  They are really delicious and will elevate your breakfast experience.  It also makes a delightful breakfast in bed!!

Baked Eggs
Makes 2
1 T butter
1 small leek, white part only, washed and thinly sliced
1 large shallot, chopped
2 cups spinach washed and roughly chopped
2 slices canadian bacon or ham
2 large eggs
heavy cream

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and place two 8-oz buttered ramekins in a larger pan.  Melt butter into a medium sauté pan and cook leek and shallot until soft 7-10 minutes.  Add spinach salt, pepper, and cumin and stir until wilted.
Divide the filling into the two ramekins,  add a layer of canadian bacon or ham and then carefully break 1 egg into each ramekin.  Pour cream around each yolk, make sure that you do not cover the yolk.  Season the top with additional salt and pepper and then pour boiling water into the large pan and make sure the water comes halfway up on each ramekin.  Place in oven for 10-12 minutes until egg is set but yolk is still soft.  Remove and top with chopped chives and serve with crusty bread for dipping.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Buttermilk Biscuits

I've tried plenty of biscuit recipes, but this one is my favorite to date.  So tender, tasty, and perfect with a drizzle of honey or a spoonful of jam.  These were enjoyed for breakfast, but would make a delicious addition to any dinner.

Buttermilk Biscuits
yields 5-6 biscuits

2 cups self rising flour*
1/3 cup shortening
2/3 cup buttermilk
melted butter

Heat oven to 450 degrees.  Sift flour into large bowl and then cut shortening into flour with a pastry cutter or a fork.  Add buttermilk and stir with a fork until it forms a shaggy ball.  Use hand to gather dough and knead 2 to three times until flour is incorporated.  Roll out and cut biscuits and place on a parchment lined pan.  Bake for 8-10 minutes or until light golden brown.  Remove from oven and brush with melted butter.

*I made my own self rising flour.  Here is the recipe.
1 cup cake flour
1 cup all purpose flour
1 t salt
3 t baking powder
Sift all into a large bowl and proceed with recipe above.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Pizza : Two Ways

You know those times when you want to try something new for dinner, but you are unsure if the rest of your family will be as excited about a new food?  I have those days often and so I find myself creating a plan B if everything goes badly or compromising like I did tonight.  I knew a Thai Chicken Pizza would be tasty, but I was afraid the kids would shy away from the heat that I wanted it to have.  So, I decided to create pizza two ways.  Their side was a fresh mozzarella and ham pizza and our side was Thai Chicken with a spicy peanut sauce.  Both sides were equally delicious...and a hit with everybody. The kids tried the Thai Chicken side and said they liked it followed up with requests for milk refills!
This is also a great way to get rid of leftover bits in the refrigerator...I had two slices of ham leftover from breakfast, a container of fresh mozzarella balls, a few carrots from a veggie tray, and cilantro from a batch of guacamole.
Pizza : Two Ways

Pizza Dough
1 t active dry yeast
3/4 cup warm water
1 T honey
1 T olive oil
1/2 t salt
2 cups flour
Combine water and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, let stand 5-10 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and turn mixer on low.  Continue mixing until all flour is incorporated.  Dough should be firm and not sticky, add a little flour if needed.  Transfer dough to a lightly oiled bowl and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour.

Peanut Sauce
1 clove garlic
1 T fresh ginger
2 T soy sauce
1 1/2 t sesame oil
1/2 cup peanut butter
2 t honey
1 T chipotle adobo sauce or 1 T sweet chili sauce
Combine everything in a small food processor bowl and process until smooth.

12 oz. fresh mozzarella
2 grilled chicken breasts, thinly sliced
1 cup shredded carrot
1 cup cilantro
1/4 c chopped peanuts

Heat oven to 500 degrees.  Spread a little cornmeal onto a half sheet pan and roll dough out to the size of the pan.  Place dough in pan and spread half with peanut sauce and the other half with your favorite jarred pizza sauce.  Next top regular pizza side with toppings of your choice.  Finish by topping entire pizza with thin slices of fresh mozzarella and baking until cheese is melted.

Finish Thai Pizza side with grilled chicken, shredded carrot, chopped cilantro, chopped peanuts, and drizzle with additional peanut sauce.  Enjoy!

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