Thursday, October 28, 2010

Southwestern Chicken and Barley "Soup"

 adapted from Perrys' Plate

{This is kinda cheating since this recipe was already on the blog a while ago...but we ate it again and this time I took a picture...and yes, that spoon had already been in my mouth.}

    Maybe I'm super lazy, but I am beginning to have the mindset that many soups taste better and are easier to prepare in a trusty crock pot. I threw everything in just before nap-time ended, cooked on high for 4 hours and called it done. This resembles a tortilla soup, but had a little something extra filling with the barely. This is a perfect number for a busy (or in my case lazy) day.


1-2 chicken breasts (fresh or frozen)
1-2 minced garlic cloves
2-3 cups chicken broth {depending on if you want it more soup-like or chili-like}
2 cups frozen corn
1 15-oz can kidney or black beans, rinsed and drained
1 15-oz can tomato sauce
1 10 oz. can diced tomatoes w/green chilies
1/2-1 cup pearl barley (uncooked)... or just throw in however much you'd like
1 1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
dash of coriander
juice from 1 small lime or 1/2 large lime (about 2-3 T)

Garnish with...
green onions, chopped
fresh cilantro, chopped
sour cream
shredded cheddar cheese
avocado, diced

   In a slow cooker, add chicken through lime juice. Cook 3-6 hours at the appropriate temperature. Before serving, use two forks and shred chicken into bite sized pieces. Garnish with desired topping and enjoy every bite.

Serves 6

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins




Just wait til you unwrap it

and discover a little treat inside.


 slightly adapted from Annie's Eats

   Despite not really liking pumpkin pie, I do in fact love pumpkin breads and muffins. This is a tasty little treat- but beware, it is easy to eat several in one sitting. No, really.


For the filling:

8 oz. cream cheese
1 cup confectioners’ sugar

For the muffins:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. ground cloves
1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
4 large eggs
2 cups sugar
2 cups pumpkin puree--- I used 1 15 oz can
1¼ cups vegetable oil

For the topping:
½ cup sugar
5 tbsp. flour
1½ tsp. ground cinnamon
4 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces


1. To prepare the filling, combine the cream cheese and confectioners’ sugar in a medium bowl and mix on low well until blended and smooth. Transfer the mixture to a piece of plastic wrap and shape into a log about 1½-inches in diameter. Smooth the plastic wrap tightly around the log. Transfer to the freezer and chill until at least slightly firm, 1-2 hours or up to overnight.

2. To make the muffins, preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Line muffin pans with paper liners. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, pumpkin pie spice, salt and baking soda; whisk to blend. In the bowl of an electric mixer combine the eggs, sugar, pumpkin puree and oil. Mix on medium-low speed until blended. With the mixer on low speed, add in the dry ingredients, mixing just until incorporated.

3. Using your 'dry ingredients bowl' - make the topping by combining the sugar, flour and cinnamon; whisk to blend. Add in the butter pieces and cut into the dry ingredients with a pastry blender or two forks until the mixture is coarse and crumbly.

4. To assemble the muffins, fill each muffin well with a small amount of batter, just enough to cover the bottom of the liner-about 1 Tbsp. Slice the log of cream cheese filling into 24 equal pieces. Place a slice of the cream cheese mixture into each muffin well. Divide the remaining batter among the muffin cups, placing on top of the cream cheese to cover completely. Sprinkle a small amount of the topping mixture over each of the muffin wells.

5. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely before serving. (It may be hard to resist immediate consumption, but the cream cheese filling gets very hot!)

Makes 24 muffins

Monday, October 25, 2010

Chinese Chicken and Broccoli

 adapted from the Nest and Annie's Eats

I love broccoli. Lucky for me it is available for a good part of the year. The first time I made a variation of this dish the broccoli was overcooked which was blah and the meal did not reheat well at all. This time around I was extra careful to leave my broccoli with lots of crunch and it was just as great the next day.


2 tsp. cornstarch
2 tsp. rice wine
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 tsp. peanut oil, divided
2 tsp. sesame oil, divided
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. freshly grated ginger
1/4- 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
4 cups broccoli florets
6 Tbsp. chicken broth, divided
3 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 Tbsp. hoisin sauce
1 ½ tsp. brown sugar
1 (8-ounce) can sliced bamboo shoots, drained {forgot to add this time, but it adds some great texture}
scallions, chopped
sesame seeds, for garnish


1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and wine. Add the chicken and mix well. Heat half of the peanut oil and the sesame oil in a large skillet or wok over medium high heat. Add the chicken pieces to the pan and saute until golden brown and cooked through. {I threw in a bit of salt here}.

2. Using a slotted spoon, transfer cooked chicken to a bowl. Add remaining oil to the pan. Add garlic and ginger and saute about 30 seconds to a minute. Add red pepper flakes and broccoli.

3. Pour in half of chicken broth (it should steam and boil quickly). Allow broccoli to cook until most of the broth has evaporated but the broccoli is still semi-crisp (2-3 min). Add the bamboo shoots and stir to combine.

4. In a small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, hoisin sauce, brown sugar, and remaining 3 Tbsp. of chicken broth add to pan along with the cooked chicken. Heat through, stirring frequently, until the sauce thickens, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and add scallions. Garnish with sesame seeds.

Serve over brown rice.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Lime Marinaded Pork Tacos

adapted from Acquired Taste

We will use this marinade again and again- it was awesome. I think Nick liked it so much he thought it would be perfect to eat without any need for the rest of the taco :)


1 Tbsp. lime zest
2 limes, juiced (about 1/2 cup)
1 tsp. ground coriander
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
salt to taste
1 pork tenderloin

2 avocados
1-2 Tbsp. plain yogurt
1-2 tsp. lime juice (about 1/2 lime)
1/4 cup onion, diced
1/2 tsp. kosher salt

corn or whole wheat tortillas
shredded cheese
fresh cilantro
diced tomatoes
other options-- jalapeno pepper slices, sliced onion, lettuce


1. In a bowl whisk together lime juice, paprika, cayenne pepper, garlic, vegetable oil and salt.
In a large zip bag or glass container, place the pork tenderloin in and pour the marinade on top. Chill for at least 1 hour, up to several hours. (I did 5 hours)

2. When ready to cook pork, preheat grill and spray with non-stick cooking spray. Cook tenderloin over medium to medium-high heat, rolling to rotate and cooking in 3 to 4 segments until pork is cooked through with a nice crust on the outside. {I finished cooking my pork by putting it in the oven to broil for 5-7 min.}Remove from the grill/oven and allow to cool before shredding meat with either forks or your hands.

3. While pork is cooking or cooling, prepare guacamole. Place the avocado in a bowl with yogurt and lime juice. Using the back of a fork, mash the avocado together with the yogurt and lime juice. Stir in onion and salt. *Could add a bit of chopped cilantro here if desired.

4. Assemble tacos by heating tortillas on in a large pan. Assemble tacos with desired ingredients and chow down.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Baby Popeye

I've had a few friends ask recently what foods Siena loves and eats easily on her own. Here is one of the favorite breakfasts around here...

This girl chows down on spinach tucked into omelets, quesadillas, pasta, pizza, quiche, smoothies, and peanut butter sandwiches. (Okay, I'm not that mean.)

And not just a little spinach- the omelet is filled with the green stuff and she will gobble it up to the last bite.

and will usually ask for "more"

Simple Spinach Omelete

2 eggs
fresh or frozen spinach

I keep frozen spinach on hand and thaw some (maybe 1/4 cup or so?) in hot water. Remove the spinach with a fork and add it to 2 beaten eggs.
(I split the omelet in half, to make it last two days)

If it were for me, it would be loaded with cheese, but she doesn't even know she's missing it
other options: tiny diced bell peppers or onion, sauteed a bit before incorporating

While I'm making it, I usually hand her half a banana to enjoy. It really takes less than 10 min start to finish and the best part is- the next day breakfast is done!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Grilled Lemongrass Chicken with Red Quinoa and Vegetables

adapted from Self

Easy enough for prepare? Check

Healthy? Check

Delicious? Check

Husband liked it? Check

I liked it? Check

Baby liked it? Check

The lemongrass in this has such a wonderful aroma. I may or may not be salivating a bit thinking about it. I got a few stalks from Whole Foods for honestly $0.25 or so- don't be tricked into buying the pre-made stuff in a tube. Be sure to add fresh mint into the mix because it really is the ticket to making this extra delicioso.



3-5 medium shallots

4-5 stalks fresh lemongrass (tough outer leaves removed)

1 piece ginger (about 1 1/2 inches), peeled

¼- 1/3 cup canola oil

½ cup fresh lime juice

2 Tbsp. tamari (or soy sauce)

2 Tbsp. light brown sugar

1 tsp. sea salt, plus more to taste

1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoon ground coriander

3-4 boneless, boneless skinless chicken breasts

drizzle olive oil (1-2 tsp.)

1 cup red quinoa

2 cups chicken broth (or stock) or water

1 pound (about 3 cups) fresh sugar snap peas, strings removed

1-2 (2 cups) red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and thinly sliced

fresh mint, chopped


1. To make the marinade puree shallots, lemongrass, ginger, oil, lime juice, tamari, sugar, sea salt, pepper, and coriander in a food processor, until smooth. This should make about 1 ¼ cup of marinade. Place chicken in a baking dish and spoon on ¾ cup marinade, rubbing it on all sides. Cover; chill 1/2 to 2 hours. Reserve and refrigerate remaining ¾ cup of marinade.

2. When chicken is ready to cook, preheat grill. While grill is heating up, heat a drizzle of olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook quinoa until toasted, 3 to 4 minutes. Add broth; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until quinoa absorbs liquid, about 15-20 minutes. Turn off heat; let sit, covered, until ready to serve.

3. Meanwhile, grill chicken over medium heat turning once, for 4-6 minutes per side. Remove chicken; let rest two minutes. Slice each breast on the diagonal into 1/2-inch pieces.

4.While chicken is grilling, remove reserved marinade from refrigerator-whisk to freshen. Pour 1 Tbsp. of marinade in a large skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Cook sugar peas and peppers until crisp-tender, about 3-4 minutes. Turn off heat. Add fresh mint and toss. Serve chicken and vegetables with a side bed of quinoa. Warm-up reserved marinade and drizzle on top of chicken and vegetables for a little extra flavor, if desired.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Chicken Tomale-esque

adapted from Cooking Light

This was pretty tasty, though I was pretty surprised it came from Cooking Light. I guess it would be 'light' if you really got 8 servings out of it. We managed about 5ish. Nick wanted tomales but this was a good compromise for weekday. It came together really quickly (I cooked the chicken during Siena's nap) and we enjoyed it with a nice big salad on the side.

I think this could be played around with and might go well with onions, bell peppers, in a tomatillo sauce, etc.


1 cup (4 ounces) preshredded 4-cheese Mexican blend cheese, divided

1 tsp. ground cumin

1/8 tsp. ground red pepper

1 (14 3/4-ounce) can cream-style corn

1 1/4 cup flour

3/4 cup corn meal

2 Tbsp. sugar

2 tsp. baking powder

1 cup milk

2 egg, beaten

1 (4-ounce) can chopped green chilies, drained

cooking spray

1 (10-ounce) can red enchilada sauce

2 cups shredded cooked chicken breast *

sour cream

fresh cilantro


1. Preheat oven to 400°. In a large bowl, combine 1/4 cup cheese, cumin, pepper, corn, flour, corn meal, sugar, baking powder, milk, egg, and green chilies, stirring just until moist. Pour mixture into a 13 x 9–inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.

2. Bake at 400° for 15-20 minutes or until set. Pierce entire surface liberally with a fork; pour enchilada sauce over top. Top with chicken; sprinkle with remaining 3/4 cup cheese. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until cheese melts. Remove from oven; let stand 5 minutes. Top each serving with a little sour cream and plenty of cilantro.

* This is a great way to cook chicken that needs to be shredded (pizza, enchiladas, pitas, etc). Preheat oven to 350 F. Season the chicken breast with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Loosely wrap it in aluminum foil and place it (directly on the rack is fine) in the the preheated oven and bake for 30-40 minutes until the juices run clear. After removing it from the oven let it sit for at least 10 minutes to cool and to let the juices settle before shredding or dicing it.

from A Hint of Honey

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Swiss Chard and Sun-Dried Tomato Skillet Mac

from Perrys' Plate


1 bunch Swiss Chard, washed
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sun-dried tomato pesto
1 cup plain yogurt (whole, not non-fat)
3/4-1 cup crumbled feta or goat cheese
8-10 ounces small whole wheat pasta (elbow, shells, etc.)
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan or Romano cheese


1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente, according to package directions. Reserve a cup of pasta water before draining. Set pasta aside.

2. Preheat your oven broiler. Meanwhile, separate chard spines from the leaves, chop both, but keep them separated. In a large oven-proof skillet heat olive oil and over medium heat. Add chopped chard stems and onions. Cook, stirring occasionally for about 3-4 minutes, then add the garlic. Cook another 3-4 minutes until vegetables are tender.

3. Add chopped chard greens and stir, cooking, until mostly wilted (another 2-3 minutes). Stir in flour and cook another minute. Add pesto, yogurt, feta, reserved cooked pasta, and about a 1/2 cup of reserved pasta water. Stir and cook until everything is heated through and begins to thicken, about 3-4 minutes. Add more pasta water if you feel it's too thick. Mixture should be rather thick, but still saucy. Not watery.

4. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over the pasta and place skillet under the preheated broiler {I transferred to a baking dish} for about 5 minutes or until it starts to brown slightly. Remove from the oven and serve.

Makes 4-6 servings

variations: use kale or spinach

{I think it's inconvenient when pasta recipes call for less than the box makes-- in this case the 13 oz of Barilla whole wheat shells... I chose to cook all of the pasta and just added a bit more of the other ingredients to compensate}

Monday, October 11, 2010

Stuffed Italian Burgers

slightly adapted from Annie's Eats

It may be October, but with the warm weather we've been enjoying (today is supposed to be 90!) we got a little craving for some burgers...


For the patties:
1 lb. ground sirloin (or good quality, low fat ground beef)
2 tbsp. yellow onion, finely chopped
1 tsp. garlic, minced
½ tsp. Italian seasoning
¼ tsp. black pepper
1-2 dashes of balsamic vinegar
Sliced fresh mozzarella
Fresh basil leaves
8 slices pancetta

For the basil ketchup:
1/3 cup ketchup
Handful fresh basil leaves (about ¼ cup)
¼ tsp. red pepper flakes

For serving:
wheat Kaiser rolls
Garlic butter (we did 1/4 of this recipe and it was more than enough)
fresh tomato slices
green lettuce


1. To make the patties, combine the ground sirloin, onion, garlic, salt, Italian seasoning, pepper and balsamic vinegar in a large bowl. Mix well to thoroughly combine. Divide the mixture into four equal portions; divide each of these further into halves so that you have 8 equal portions of the meat mixture. Form each portion into a thin, round patty.

2. Place a slice of fresh mozzarella and a few basil leaves on top of three of the patties. Lay the remaining patties on top of these, sandwiching the mozzarella in the center. Pinch the edges of the patties together to form one large patty with the cheese in the center. Wrap 2 slices of pancetta around each patty. Preheat the grill.

3. While the grill is heating, make the basil ketchup. Combine the ketchup, basil, garlic and red pepper flakes in a blender or food processor and pulse until well combined and finely chopped. Set aside.

4. Cook the burgers on the preheated grill until cooked to your liking and until the cheese inside has melted. Just before the burgers are done cooking, split the Kaiser rolls in half. Toast the buns and then spread with garlic butter. Assemble the cooked burgers on the rolls with fresh lettuce, tomato, and basil ketchup as desired.

Serves 4

Friday, October 8, 2010

African Curried Coconut Soup with Chickpeas

adapted from Epicurious

Don't be scared of the name. This soup/curry concoction is so flavorful and tasty- even a 1-year-old enjoyed it ...and hardly threw any of it on the floor.


2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1-2 red bell peppers, chopped
1 jalapeƱo pepper, seeded and finely chopped
3-4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 cups low-sodium broth
1 (15 oz.) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1-2 cups chopped tomatoes, seeded & peeled, fresh or canned (I used canned)
1 tsp. mild curry powder
1/2 tsp. coriander
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 cup water
1 cup couscous
1 (14-ounce) can light coconut milk (I only had regular on hand, so I used 3/4 of the can)
3 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro or parsley


1. In a medium stockpot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, and chili; cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute. Add the broth, chickpeas, tomatoes, curry powder, coriander, and cayenne pepper; bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer gently, uncovered, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.

2. While simmering soup, in a small pot, boil 1 cup of water. When water is boiling, add 1 cup of couscous, remove from heat and cover for 5 minutes. Fluff with fork and add to soup mixture with coconut milk and cilantro, stirring occasionally, until heated through, about 5 minutes. Serve warm.

Variations: Black-eyed peas can replace the chickpeas, if desired. Use 1 cup cooked brown rice instead of couscous, or, for a lighter soup, the rice can be omitted.

The following day it was much thicker, we didn't mind, but it could have been easily thinned out a bit by adding more broth.

Serves 4

Monday, October 4, 2010

Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies

from Gastronomy
My amiga, Kari, shared this link a few weeks ago and it has been bookmarked tempting me since. I had to get over the amount of butter and the fact it used Skippy instead of Jiff, and then I was ready to make it. The original recipe says to use an ice cream scoop for the cookies- I tried that on one pan and they were way too big for my boca, so the rest I made with a cookie scoop. I made the filling and paired it with some cookies for sandwiches but had plenty of cookies left over to enjoy on their own.
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
4 tsp. baking soda
1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
 2/3 cup creamy peanut butter, preferably Skippy
 1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
 1/3 cup coarsely chopped peanuts
 2 1/2 cups quick-cooking oats

¼ pound (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
½ cup creamy peanut butter, preferably Skippy
1 2/3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and baking soda; set aside. Using a mixer with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter and peanut butter. Add sugars and beat at medium speed for 4 minutes, scraping down bowl twice.
2. At low speed, add eggs and vanilla. Add flour mixture and beat at low speed until well mixed, frequently scraping down bowl. Add peanuts and oats, and mix well. Using a cookie scoop, place balls of dough on parchment-lined baking sheets at least three inches apart.
3. Bake until cookies have spread and turned very light golden brown, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool and firm up, 5 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool completely before filling.
4. To make the filling, use an electric mixer, cream together the butter, peanut butter, and confectioners’ sugar until very smooth. Transfer the filling to a pastry bag or makeshift pastry bag (i.e. Ziploc bag). To assemble cookies, pipe filling on underside of a cookie. Sandwich with another cookie. Repeat.

Lemon Yogurt Cake

from Barefoot Contessa

{I was a little sad at first because I was expecting more of a pound cake texture- it took a few pieces to convince me, but then I thought it was delightful}


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
1 1/3 cups sugar, divided
3 extra-large eggs
2 tsp. grated lemon zest (1-2 lemons)
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 applesauce
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (3 lemons)

1 cup confectioners' sugar
2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 8 1/2 by 4 1/4 by 2 1/2-inch loaf pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper.

2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into 1 bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, 1 cup sugar, the eggs, lemon zest, and vanilla. Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. With a rubber spatula, fold the vegetable oil into the batter, making sure it's all incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 50 minutes, or until a cake tester placed in the center of the loaf comes out clean.

3. Meanwhile, cook the 1/3 cup lemon juice and remaining 1/3 cup sugar in a small pan until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear. Set aside.

4. When the cake is done, allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Carefully place on a baking rack over a sheet pan. While the cake is still warm, pour the lemon-sugar mixture over the cake and allow it to soak in. Cool.

5. For the glaze, combine the confectioners' sugar and lemon juice and pour over the cake.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Simple Stir-Fry

adapted from Kelsey's Kitchen


1-2 chicken breasts, sliced thin
2 tsp. cornstarch
1 Tbsp. peanut or sesame oil
2 tsp ginger, minced
1 red bell pepper, julienne
1/2 cup green bell pepper, julienne
1/2 cup snow peas, sliced thin
3 Tbsp. Asian sweet chili sauce
3 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. rice vinegar
baby bok choy {1 1/2 cup sliced leaves, 2 handfuls diced stems)
1/4 cup green onions, thinly sliced on a diagonal

other optional ingredients: 1/4 cup red onion, 1/4 cup mandarin oranges, peeled & segmented
Enjoy with soba noodles or rice...but we prefered soba noodles!


1. Place chicken strips in a medium size bowl. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper and toss with cornstarch to coat.

2. Heat oil in large non-stick skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add minced ginger, stir 30 seconds. Add chicken; stir fry until chicken is beginning to brown an is almost cooked through, 3-5 minutes. Add bell peppers, snow peas, and bok choy stems; toss for 2 minutes. Add sweet chili sauce, soy sauce and rice vinegar; boil until sauce thickens slightly, tossing to blend, about 2-4 minutes. Stir in bok choy and scallions. Stir-fry just until bok choy is just wilted.

3. Serve with soba noodles or rice. Lay a bed of either, top with stir-fry and garnish with additional green onions.

Serves 4