Friday, September 30, 2011

Homemade Girl Scout Samoa Cookies

This is the final course on this week's sharing of items from my 23 Things in 2011 list.  You might also know them as Caramel Delites.  Whatever you call them, we can all agree on one word: DELICIOUS.

Did you know that the reason Girl Scout Cookies are known by different names is because there are two bakeries that supply the nation with these delectable cookies?  Each manufacturer has their own names for the cookies and that's why the name is different depending on what region you're in.  Growing up as a Girl Scout myself (Troop 2180 represent!) I remember them going by both names.  Yep, I was one of those girls that sold you cookies door-to-door, at your parents' office, and even at your neighborhood Kroger.  I even have the badges to prove it :).

It's strange that I even like these cookies.  I HATE the texture of coconut but the flavor is fine by me.  I think what makes it work for me in this cookie is the fact that the coconut is completely drowned in gooey, delicious caramel.  Who can say no to that??

Yes this cookie is a little time consuming to make.  Yes, I couldn't get my holes to stay open when I baked them (I think putting them in the freezer a few minutes before baking would help them to retain their shape and therefore the hole or if you're fortunate enough to own a donut pan apparently those are awesome for this application, too).  But, that didn't make them any less appetizing...just ask my Dinner Club friends Jeff, Jackie, Toni, Ke'Mani, Scott and Emily.  They sampled these at our Luau themed Dinner Club (hey, I figured the coconut would loosely fit and it was a bonus dish anyway!).  I'd even consider making them in a bar version to save time in the future.  Taste over aesthetics any day when it's just me wanting to eat the whole batch.  Noms!

Two Years Ago: Cha Cha's White Chicken Chili - My favorite white chicken chili but watchout because it definitely packs a lot of heat!

Homemade Girl Scout Samoa Cookies

Homemade Girl Scout Samoa Cookies

Yields: 3-1/2 to 4 dozen cookies


For the Cookies
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • Up to 2 Tbps milk
For the Topping
  • 3 cups shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
  • 12 oz good-quality chewy caramels (I used the Kraft ones)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 Tbsp milk
  • 8 oz dark or semisweet chocolate (chips are okay)


To make the cookies:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  
  2. In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar.  Mix in flour, baking powder and salt at a low speed followed by the vanilla and milk as needed to make the dough come together without being sticky (it's possible you may not need any milk at all).  The dough should come together in a soft, not-too-sticky ball.  Add in a bit of extra flour if your dough is very sticky.  
  3. Roll the dough (working in 2-3 batches) out between pieces of wax paper to about 1/4" thickness and use a 1 1/2" cookie cutter to make rounds.  Place  on a parchment lined baking sheet and use the end of a wide straw to cut a smaller center hole.  Repeat with remaining dough.  Alternatively, use scant tablespoons of dough and press into an even layer in a mini donut pan to form the rounds.  
  4. Bake cookies for 10-12 minutes until bottoms are lightly browned and cookies are set.  If using a mini donut pan, bake for only about 10 minutes, until edges are light gold.  Cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
To top and decorate the cookies:
  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Spread coconut evenly on a parchment-lined baking sheet (preferably one with sides) and toast 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes, until coconut is golden. Cool on baking sheet, stirring occasionally. Set aside.
  2. Unwrap the caramels and place in a large microwave-safe bowl with milk and salt. Cook on high for 3-4 minutes, stopping to stir a few times to help the caramel melt. When smooth, fold in toasted coconut with a spatula.
  3. Using the spatula or a small offset spatula, spread topping on cooled cookies, using about 2-3 tsp per cookie. Reheat caramel for a few seconds in the microwave if it gets too firm to work with.
  4. While topping sets up, melt chocolate in a small bowl. Heat on high in the microwave in 45 second intervals, stirring thoroughly to prevent scorching. Dip the base of each cookie into the chocolate and place on a clean piece of parchment paper. Transfer all remaining chocolate (or melt a bit of additional chocolate, if necessary) into a piping bag or a ziplock bag with the corner snipped off and drizzle finished cookies with chocolate.  Let chocolate set completely before storing in an airtight container.

Source: Baking Bites

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Stuffed Chicken Marsala

Here's this week's second item off of my 23 Things in 2011 list that I'm posting this week.  This is a blinged out version of chicken marsala.  If you know anything about me, you'll know that not only do I love mushrooms but I also love CHEESE and anything using sun-dried tomatoes.  So, when I saw this recipe on Joelen's blog it was a no-brainer that this would be the recipe that I made to check that chicken marsala off my list.  The fact that it's an original Olive Garden recipe made it a bonus.

It was ridiculously good.  Like...died and gone to heaven good!  I used some of the mushroom sauce to top on a side of spaghetti noodles.

Two Years Ago: Barbecue Chicken Pizza

Stuffed Chicken Marsala

Stuffed Chicken Marsala


For the Cheese Stuffing:
1/2 cup smoked shredded cheese (provolone or gouda) 
8-oz package mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1 tsp fresh garlic, minced
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes, crushed
2 Tbsp sun-dried tomato, chopped (drain first if in oil)
1/3 cup green onions, thinly sliced

3/4 cup sour cream (6 oz) 
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
For the Sauce:
1/2 large red small onion, finely chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups Marsala wine
1 cup heavy cream
1 8oz container of cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
Salt and pepper to taste

2 lbs skinless, boneless chicken breasts
4 fl oz olive oil for frying

2 cups all-purpose flour

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350°F and have a baking dish ready.
  2. Combine all the cheese stuffing ingredients in a mixing bowl and set aside.
  3. To prepare the chicken, butterfly the thickest section of chicken breasts to create 2 halves. Place each breast in a large ziplock bag and pound it with the flat side of a meat mallet until ¼” - ½” thick.  Place the flattened chicken breasts on a plate and add a desired amount of cheese stuffing on one half of each chicken breast. Try not to overfill. Gently press stuffing down and fold over other half of chicken breast; it does not have to seal. Place flour in a shallow pan and season to taste with salt and pepper. Dredge stuffed chicken breasts in flour, shaking off excess.
  4. In a cast iron skillet over medium heat, add oil and heat until shimmering. Saute the flour coated chicken breasts in the preheated oil, cooking until each side is golden brown. Remove chicken from pan and place in the baking dish you have on hand. Bake the browned chicken in the preheated oven for 10-20 minutes, or until juices run clear and the center of chicken reaches 165°F.
  5. Meanwhile, add the onions and garlic to the cast iron skillet and stir to loosen chicken drippings. After 2 minutes, add mushrooms and fresh chopped parsley. Sauté until the onions are translucent and the mushrooms begin to caramelize. Add the Marsala wine to the skillet to deglaze the pan – make sure to incorporate drippings from bottom of pan. Allow the Marsala to come to a simmer and then add the heavy cream. Simmer on low heat until reduced by half. Place the cooked chicken breasts on a plate and top each with this Marsala-mushroom sauce.
Source: Originally from Olive Garden Kitchen as adapted by and seen on What's Cookin, Chicago

Monday, September 26, 2011

French Onion Soup

I was encouraged by my husband and my friend Emily to post a midway status update on my 23 Things in 2011 List.  This is when we realized that the year is actually 3/4 of the way through.  Oh snap.  Still, worth a revisit and you can see what I've made (and blogged about) to date by checking out the link above. 

All in all, I've only made 11 of the 23 things and even worse, only blogged about 4 (after this one) to date.  Where have you guys been to hold me accountable the rest of year?!  Now it looks like I have some serious work to make up on the back end of the year if I want to even come close to achieving all 23 items!

This French onion soup was exactly as I remember it being when I went to France last year.  My brother, the French onion aficionado gave it his stamp of approval, too.

This week, I'm going to post only things from the list to help me get caught up!  See the list for a sneak peek of what this week's posts may be ;).

Two Years Ago: Sausage, Onion, and Green Pepper Fra Diavolo

French Onion Soup

  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 2 large red onions, thinly sliced
  • Pinch of sugar
  • 2 leeks, including tender green portions, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • ¾ cup low-sodium beef broth
  • ¼ cup dry red wine
  • 2 sprigs fresh parsley
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Baguette slices, ¾-inch thick
  • Sliced Gruyere cheese
  1. Melt the butter in a Dutch oven or large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add in the sliced red onions, reduce the heat to medium, and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions have wilted. Mix in the sugar and leeks and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are completely caramelized and dark in color (about 15 more minutes). Add the garlic to the pot and sauté just until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the chicken and beef broths and red wine, scraping the browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Add the parsley, thyme and bay leaf. Cover, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer about 30 minutes. Discard the herbs and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Preheat the broiler with an oven rack in the upper-middle position. Portion the soup into oven-safe bowls or crocks placed on a baking sheet. Top each serving with two baguette slices, and layer with thin slices of Gruyere cheese. Place under the broiler until the cheese is browned and bubbly, 2-5 minutes. Cool a few minutes before serving.
Source: Originally from Williams Sonoma and The New Best Recipe as adapted by and as seen on Annie's Eats

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Peanut Butter Cup Chocolate Cheesecake

I didn't think it was possible but there's something that's even more decadent and outrageous than the Peanut Butter-Fudge Cheesecake that I made for Chris' birthday last year.  Last year when he had that cake he told me he wanted me to make that same cake for him for the rest of his life.  But, I went ahead and gave him some alternative options this year just in case he changed his mind.  One look at this cake and he was sold.  We were destined for fatness greatness.

This recipe is based on Cheescake Factory's Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Chocolate Cake Cheesecake - Chunks of Reese’s® Peanut Butter Cups in our Original Cheesecake with Layers of Delicious Fudge Cake and Caramel.  With my change of substituting one of the caramel layers for a peanut butter layer, it's by far one of the best copycat recipes that I have EVER made.  It's seriously spot on and Chris (and his fellow PB loving mom) went to PB chocolate heaven.

Peanut Butter Cup Chocolate Cheesecake
Here's the cake all dressed up and ready to go..or so I thought.  When I presented it to the birthday boy, he asked me "Where are the peanut butter cups??  The picture on the recipe showed it having peanut butter cups!"

Peanut Butter Cup Chocolate Cheesecake
There, we go.  Peanut butter cups!  Now we're in business and boy does that look rich (and surprisingly a lot like last year's cake from the outside).  But  it's SO MUCH more.  Let's peel back the layers and peek at what lies inside...
Peanut Butter Cup Chocolate Cheesecake Insides
Ohmigoodness there are 9 layers of amazingness to this cake!!!
Peanut Butter Cup Chocolate Cheesecake Naked
And here it is neked...
I'll admit the cake looks intimidating with all its steps and layers but if you set aside a few nights to bake and assemble, people will think you're a kitchen God/dess AND you'll save yourself some $40+.  Plus, the original website has some nice step-by-step pictures to help you along the way if you need extra assistance.

A word of caution: my caramel layers oozed out over time so I wouldn't make it more than 2-3 days in advance.  The cake is literally so heavy that it squishes the liquid layers out!  Ae nother note from experience - I found that while keeping the cake in the freezer helps keep the layers intact it's just too hard to cut.  So, allow it to thaw some in the fridge before serving or, if you don't mind risking some caramel ooze after cutting, just keep it in the fridge full time for minimal wait time before enjoyment :).

Will I be able to top this cake in the future?  I'm always for challenging myself in the kitchen and next year is the big 3-0 for my dear hubby but my waistline sure hopes not!

Happy 29th Birthday, honey!
Two Years Ago: Sausage, Onion, and Green Pepper Fra Diavolo

Peanut Butter Cup Chocolate Cheesecake

Peanut Butter Cup Chocolate Cheesecake

Serves: 15-20 people


For the Crustless Cheesecake
  • 30 mini peanut butter cups, each one quartered
  • 2 sticks (16 tbsp) softened butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 4- 8 oz packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1- 3 oz. package cook and serve vanilla pudding
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
For the Caramel Layers
  • 1 (4 oz) can of sweetened condensed milk
  • 5 tbsp. butter
  • 40 caramels
  • Scant 1/2 cup of salted peanut halves 
For the Chocolate Cake
  • 1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cups cocoa powder, unsweetened
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup canola oil (or other vegetable oil)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup of coffee - must be hot! 
For the Peanut Butter Layers
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
For the Chocolate Ganache Frosting
  • 13 oz. or 1 2/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 tbsp. corn syrup
For the Peanut Butter Frosting and Garnish
  • 1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 4 tbsp butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 6 mini peanut butter cups

For the Crustless Cheesecake
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Grease two 9" pans with shortening, line the pans with parchment and then grease the parchment.  Lightly flour the pans and tap out excess.  Set aside.
  2. Cream butter and sugar in a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment.  Add cream cheese a little at a time until smooth.  Scrape bowl down and beat again on medium speed, adding eggs one at a time.  Add remaining ingredients except peanut butter cups.  Mix again until smooth.
  3. With a rubber spatula, fold in quartered peanut butter cups.  Divide batter evenly between pans.  You should have 8 cups of batter, so 4 cups in each pan.  Smooth batter with offset spatula and bake for 55 minutes to 1 hour.  Cheesecake will puff up during baking, then deflate when taken out.
  4. Do not turn out cheesecakes when they are finished baking.  Put them directly in the freezer.  While the cheesecake is freezing, make the caramel layer.
For the Caramel Layers
  1. In a large microwaveable bowl, place 1- 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk, 5 tbsp. butter, and 40 caramels.  Heat at 1 minute intervals until smooth. 
  2. Pour caramel evenly over frozen layers of cheesecakes.  Be careful to not let the caramel drip over the sides.  Sprinkle each layer with 3-4 tbsp. of salted peanut halves.  Return cheesecake layers to freezer until frozen solid.
For the Chocolate Cake and Peanut Butter Layer
  1. Grease 2- 9" pans with shortening and line with parchment.  Grease parchment and lightly flour pan, tapping out excess.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Sift all the dry ingredients into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment.  In a 4 cup glass measure, mix all the wet ingredients except hot coffee! 
  3. Turn mixer on low speed and gradually add wet ingredients to dry.  Stop and scrape down the bowl, making sure to scrape the bottom where dregs tend to gather.  Return mixer to low speed and beat in hot coffee.  Mixture will be very thin.
  4. Divide batter evenly between the two pans, and bake for 35-40 minutes (check at 35).  Cake is ready when toothpick tester comes out clean.  Cool slightly in pans.  Run knife around the edge of cakes and turn them out.  Let them rest on a cooling rack.
  5. When cool, level cakes with a serrated knife or cake leveler.  Line cake pans with parchment or wax paper, enough to hang over the edges (just like previously with the cheesecake layers).  Return cake layers to parchment lined pans.
  6. Make the peanut butter layer by microwaving it in a bowl for approximately 1 minute.  Pour peanut butter mixture evenly over both chocolate cake layers, sprinkle with 3-4 tbsp. salted peanut halves.  Place peanut butter covered cakes in freezer until peanut butter has hardened a bit (about 15 minutes).
  7. Remove all cake layers from freezer.  Remove all cake layers from pans.  All of the cakes will be stacked with the caramel or peanut butter layer on top.  Stack layers beginning with 1 layer of chocolate cake as the bottom, then cheesecake layer, then chocolate layer, and last cheesecake layer will be on top.  Wrap layers in plastic wrap and freeze overnight.  You'll frost your cake the next day.
For the Chocolate Ganache Frosting
  1. Note: Remove cheesecake layers from freezer and unwrap.  Choose your serving plate and line it with wax paper strips.  Place cake over strips.  Now you're ready to frost.
  2. Put chocolate chips in a medium bowl or 4 cup measure.  Heat cream in a saucepan over medium high heat until very hot but not boiling.  Pour hot cream over chips and stir until smooth.  Remove 2/3 cup chocolate mixture and pour into a small bowl.  Add 1/2 tbsp. corn syrup and stir.  When combined, immediately pour over top of cake, creating a shiny dark topping and taking care that most remains on top of the cake and doesn't spill down the edges.  Return cake, uncovered this time,  to freezer.
  3. Fit stand mixer with whisk attachment.  Pour remaining chocolate ganache into the stand mixer bowl and whip on the highest speed for 5-10 minutes until icing is light and fluffy.  Icing is ready when it is thick and can be pulled into a stiff peak.
  4. Remove cake layers from freezer and frost sides with chocolate ganache using an offset spatula.  The whipped frosting should grab on to the frozen cakes well.  Use all the ganache frosting, evening the cake's surface as you work.
 For the Peanut Butter Frosting and Garnish
  1. Cream peanut butter and butter together in stand mixer with whisk attachment.  Gradually add powdered sugar.  Whip on high speed until light and fluffy.
  2. Transfer icing to a piping bag fitted with a large piping tip.  Pipe edges and then 6 large swirls around the top edge of cake.  Garnish each large swirl with a peanut butter cup.
Source: Slightly modified from Sprinkle Bakes

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Easy Cannellini Bean and Ham Soup

I don't know about where you live but around these parts walking my dog in the morning requires a sweatshirt, the A/C isn't kicking on during the day anymore, and the nights require extra close snuggling in bed.  This also means it's the time of year when NORMAL people resume eating soup (though, we already established that I personally eat it year round).  Rejoice!

My mother-in-law, Mary Lynn, gave me a ham bone from when she baked a ham knowing that I could turn it into something magically delicious.  I could have done something tried and true with it but you know me, I'm always up for trying a new recipe.  After some searching, I decided on this recipe.

What resulted was a soup that wasn't heavy yet was still filling and nutritious.  I added carrots.  I find they give soups an extra special (but not overwhelming) sweetness to them.  This soup was perfect for using the last of Summer's veggies while warming the bones from the chill of the onset of Fall.

Two Years Ago: Lasagna - I grew up on my mom's recipe and I guess this is how I came to like cottage cheese more than traditional ricotta in my lasagna.

Easy Cannellini Bean and Ham Soup

  • 4 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2.5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 14.5oz. can stewed tomatoes, coarsely cut
  • 2-3 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth (omit if using ham bone)
  • 2 (19 oz). cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 1/2-lb piece baked ham (sliced 3/4 inch thick), cut into 1/2-inch cubes (optional: ham bone)
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 10 oz spinach (roughly torn)
  1. In a large pot, sauté the chopped garlic and onion in 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil over moderately high heat until the onions turn golden (approx. 3-5 minutes).  Add the carrots and cook until soft (about 5-7 minutes).
  2. Add the can of cut stewed tomatoes and juice to pot and stir.  If you are using a ham bone, add it now with enough water to cover.  When the liquid starts to simmer, add the beans, ham and black pepper. If not using a ham bone or you need more liquid, add the chicken broth now, stir and bring to a boil.  When the broth starts to boil, reduce the heat until it settles at a simmer.
  3. When the soup is simmering, pile the spinach on top of the pot to steam the spinach. As the spinach starts to wilt, stir it into the soup and turn off the heat. Serve immediately.

Source: Modified from and as seen on Loves to Eat; Originally from Gourmet.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Potato and Tomato Gratin

Summer's coming to an end which means that local red fresh tomatoes are, too :(.  If you make one more dish with your fresh tomatoes this summer I highly suggest this one.  The time needed to caramelize the onions and bake the dish are a bit long for a weeknight (unless you prep and assemble in advance) but it's definitely worth it.  This was a great departure from traditional potato gratin.  Really fresh and lighter in taste and texture.  I'll make it again when tomatoes are at their best again next year.

Two Years Ago: Finn Nisu Bread - A tribute to my husband's heritage

Potato and Tomato Gratin
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  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 cups thinly sliced onions (about 1 1/2 pounds)
  • 1 tablespoon thyme leaves, divided
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled or not...whichever you prefer
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 1/4 pound ripe tomatoes, cut into 1/4" thick slices
  • 1/4 cup sliced basil
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Heat a large saute pan or Dutch oven over high heat until hot, then add 3 tablespoons olive oil, the onions, 1 teaspoon thyme, 1 teaspoon salt, and some pepper. Cook for 6 minutes, stirring often, then turn down the heat to medium and add the butter. Cook an additional 10-15 minutes, scraping with a spoon or spatula until the onions start to caramelize. Turn the heat down to low and continue cooking until the onions are a deep golden brown, another 5-10 minutes. Turn the heat off and set aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  3. Thinly slice the potatoes (using a mandoline or a sharp chef’s knife) into 1/8-inch-thick rounds. Toss them in a bowl with the cream, 1 teaspoon thyme, 1 teaspoon salt, and some freshly ground black pepper.  Arrange sliced tomatoes on a plate and season with 1 teaspoon salt and some pepper.
  4. To layer the gratin, first spread half the caramelized onions in an even layer in a 9×9 inch baking dish. Top the onions with one layer of alternating potatoes and tomatoes (using about half of each), then drizzle with 2 tablespoons cream (from the potato bowl) and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Season with 1/4 teaspoon salt, a healthy pinch of black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon thyme and half the basil.
  5. Repeat the layers, making the top potato/tomato layer pretty since this is the top presentation layer of the gratin. Pour the remaining cream (from the potato bowl) and remaining tablespoon olive oil over the gratin and season with 1/4 salt, a pinch of pepper, the remaining 1/4 teaspoon thyme and the remaining basil. Press all the vegetables down with your fingers; the cream will come up through the layers and coat the vegetables evenly.
  6. Cover the baking dish tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until the potatoes are tender when pierced. Turn the oven temperature up to 450 degrees F, uncover the gratin, and bake an additional 25-30 minutes until the top is bubbly and golden brown. Let cool slightly before serving.
Source: Originally from Sunday Suppers at Lucques by Suzanne Goin as seen on Eggs on Sunday

Monday, September 19, 2011

Foil-Baked Fish with Black Beans and Corn

This past Friday night I was in a pinch for a quick meal and so I went scavenging my freezer to see what I could find.  This is when I came across these fish foil packets and my mouth immediately began watering.

The first time I made these they were SO GOOD.  And, since the recipe made 4 packets, I figured I'd freeze the other 2 for later.  Trust me, you want all of those packets of goodness since it freezes well and tastes great.  The texture didn't get all weird and the flavor was not at all subdued by the freezing process.  When I put the fish in my mouth the second time, it was just as wonderful as I remembered.

Spicy and zesty from the orange-chipotle compound butter, this fish is just bursting with flavor and is very moist.  The fact that it's contained in a foil packet makes clean-up a breeze.  It just may be one of my favorite fish preparations.  If you can't handle heat, I'd use fewer chipotle peppers.  Chris and I love spicy foods and even this was bordering too hot for us!

Don't forget to freeze some extra packets to grow your freezer stock!

One Year Ago: Pineapple Teriyaki Chicken
Two Years Ago: Slow Cooker Pulled Pork (or make it with chicken) - This is a staple for dinners and potlucks alike for me.  It's gobbled up in full every time.  I even made it on our recent vacation to Orlando.  Yes, I brought my crockpot with me on vacation.  Don't judge.

Foil-Baked Fish with Black Beans and Corn

Foil Baked Fish with Black Beans and Corn

  • 4 skinless white fish fillets (6 to 8 oz each), 1-inch thick
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 Tbs unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 tsp minced chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
  • 1 tsp grated orange zest
  • 2 Tbs freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (16-oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cups corn kernels
  • 1/2 red onion, minced
  • 2 scallions, minced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  1. Adjust the oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat to 450 degrees.
  2. Pat the fish dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.  Using a fork, mix together the butter, 1 teaspoon chipotle, orange zest, half the garlic, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper in a medium bowl until well-combined.  Spread butter mixture over the fish.
  3. Combine the beans, corn, onion, scallions, 2 tablespoons of cilantro, orange juice, remaining chipotle, remaining garlic, scallions, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a bowl.
  4. Lay four 14-inch lengths of foil on the counter and divide the bean mixture evenly over the lower half of each piece of foil.  Top with fish, and fold the foil over the fish, folding the edges to seal.
  5. Arrange the packets in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until the fish is just cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes*.  Carefully open the packets and sprinkle with remaining cilantro.  Serve.
Make ahead notes: If you are freezing the packets, follow all the steps through #4.  When you're ready to eat them, either thaw in the fridge overnight then cook as directed above or take the packets straight from the freezer and cook about 45 minutes or until fish is opaque and flakes with a fork.  

Source: America's Test Kitchen, The Best Simple Recipes as seen on Pink Parsley

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Swiss Chard Lasagna Florentine

Each week I split a share (1/2 bushel) of organically grown farm-fresh veggies with my co-worker Delia.  Our farm, Cedarmore, is run by an Amish couple and I love reading all the stories about their life and how our food was grown.  They even let you visit the farm, if you want to.  I like that Andy, the farmer that we support, describes a CSA share as a "magazine subscription".  Each week you get something different and each week I also look forward to whatever delicious recipe comes in our box.

This was one of those recipes.  I thoroughly enjoyed it and would recommend everyone give it a try.  It was my first venture with swiss chard and it's a new favorite veggie.  I'm always excited to see it in our box when we get it.  The smell of the rainbow chard cooking in this recipe made my mouth water and it was oh-so-colorful!

Swiss Chard Lasagna Florentine
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  • 1/2 box of lasagna, prepared according to box
  • 3/4 cup chopped onion
  • 5 cups spaghetti sauce
  • 1 lb Swiss chard, chopped (separate stems and leaves)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 Tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 finely chopped cloves of garlic
  • 15 oz ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 pound shredded mozzarella cheese

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large skillet, heat oil and add chopped Swiss chard stems.  Saute for two minutes then stir in the leaves in handfuls at a time, cooking for 3-5 minutes.  Add onion and garlic near the end of sauteing.  Cover and cook for another 3-5 minutes.  Uncover and continue cooking to reduce the liquid.  
  3. Warm the spaghetti sauce.  
  4. In a large bowl, beat the eggs and stir in the ricotta, the Parmesan and 1/2 cup of the mozzarella cheese and the Swiss chard.  
  5. In a 15 x 9 inch baking dish, layer in 2 cups of sauce, half the lasagna noodles, 2 cups of sauce, all of the egg mixture, 1/2 the mozzarella, then the remaining lasagna noodles, sauce and mozzarella.  Cover with foil.  Bake for 30 minutes, uncover, bake an additional 10 minutes.  Let stand for 10 minutes, cut, serve, and enjoy.
Source: Cedarmore CSA

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Oven-Baked Sweet Potato Chips

Okay...hate to tell you this but summer is unofficially over *sad face*.  But, on the flip side, that means the weather is going to start getting cooler and I'll be able to use my oven again without feeling too bad about heating up the house.

If you told me that I could make my own chips in the oven and at home that are crispy, I'd tell you I thought you must be joking.  That is, until I tried these.  They were so addicting that I only regretted not making more of them.  I put some chipotle chili powder on mine and WOW what a  pop of flavor!  Serve it alongside your favorite sandwich or burger or just eat them as a snack.  They're kind of too good to play second fiddle, anyway.

Oven-Baked Sweet Potato Chips
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Yields: 2 servings

  • 1 sweet potato
  • vegetable or canola oil for spraying
  • sea salt
  • black pepper, chili powder, chipotle chili powder, cumin (optional seasoning)
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Farenheit. 
  2. Slice potatoes with a mandolin slicer or food processor, if possible.  Spread the slices out in a single layer on baking sheets.  Spray the potatoes lightly with the oil on each side then sprinkle lightly with salt or any other seasoning. 
  3. Bake for 10-20 minutes, flipping halfway through baking time.  Be sure to monitor the chips frequently to make sure they don't burn, puling out any chips that may finish cooking early.
Source: Originally from Tiny Urban Kitchen as seen on Apple a Day

Friday, September 2, 2011

Thai Peanut Turkey Burgers

Don't put away your grills quite yet.  If you make one more recipe this "season" (or if you're hardcore and grill year-round), this is it.  It has a unique, Thai flavor that you don't really expect from a burger.  And it works.  It was perfect served with oven baked sweet potato chips, which I'll share with you next week :).

Thai Peanut Turkey Burgers
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For the burgers:
  • 8oz ground turkey (I used chicken because that's what I had on hand)
  • 1 medium carrot, shredded
  • 1 large scallion, minced
  • 1/4 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp chili garlic sauce
  • 2 tbsp natural peanut butter
  • freshly ground salt and pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
For the sauce:
  • 2 tbsp light mayonnaise (I used unflavored Greek yogurt)
  • handful of cilantro, finely minced
  • 1-2 tsp chili garlic sauce
For serving:
  • hamburger buns of your choice
  • mixed greens
  1. Combine burger ingredients a mixing bowl and combine thoroughly. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Form the turkey mixture into two patties. Cook for about 7-10 minutes per side, until cooked through. 
  2. Serve on buns with cilantro-chili mayo and greens.
Source: Slightly adapted from A Good Appetite as seen on Cara's Cravings

Nutritional Info, Burgers Only (does not include hamburger bun or cilantro-chili mayo)
Servings Per Recipe: 2
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 276.1
Total Fat: 16.7 g
Cholesterol: 80.0 mg
Sodium: 212.1 mg
Total Carbs: 7.9 g
Dietary Fiber: 2.1 g
Protein: 26.1 g