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Thursday, March 28, 2013

White Chocolate Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies

My hubby happens to love oatmeal cookies. Me? I'm not a fan! So for once it was nice to make a cookie that would not tempt me to eat it at all. Or so I thought. Ok, I never gave into the temptation, but let me tell you, my house smells so wonderful right now as the hot cookies are just coming out of the oven, that I want to go run into my kitchen and bite a chunk out of one of these cookies. I guess I don't want my 3 mile walk today to be for nothing, so I will continue to fight off the temptation. Maybe if I just go get a clothes pin and put it on my nose, I will no longer be able to smell the amazing smell that is wafting through my home as I type this. Then I would show up at work tomorrow looking like Rudolph from having my nose pinched all evening with a clothes pin. So for now, I will just do my best to convince myself that what I am smelling would not taste good at all. Maybe if I chant it to myself, it will work. What do you think? "Those will not taste good...those will not taste good...those will not taste good..."
Oh forget it. I'll be right back, I'm going on a cookie run ;)

Based on Quaker's Best Oatmeal Cookie Recipe:

1-1/4  cups butter, softened 
3/4  cup firmly packed brown sugar 
1/2  cup granulated sugar 
1  egg 
1  tsp vanilla 
1-1/2  cups flour 
1  tsp baking soda 
1  tsp cinnamon 
1/2  tsp salt 
1/4  tsp nutmeg 
3  cups oats, quick or old fashioned
1 cup craisins (dried cranberries)
white chocolate, chopped into chunks (as much or as little as you like in your cookies) 

 Heat oven to 375°. 
In large bowl, beat butter and both sugars until creamy. Add egg and vanilla. Mix thoroughly. 
In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg. Stir together to mix well. Add the flour mixture to the mixed butter and sugar combination. Mix well. Add oats and mix well again. 
Stir in Craisins and white chocolate chunks. 
Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.
Bake 8 to 9 minutes for a chewy cookie or 10 to 11 minutes for a crisp cookie.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Enchilada Chicken

While on my walk today, a good friend saw me as I was passing her house. She called to me and told me that she had something for me. I was thrilled when she handed me a bag full of lemons from her tree and some dried New Mexico chiles, that she got on her last trip to New Mexico. I had a debate with myself, whether to  make fish with lemon tonight, or to try something completely different. Well, different won out, and I'm so glad it did. This was absolutely delicious! It had just the right amount of spice and I really loved the combination of flavors. Since I can't have the tortillas that would normally be in enchiladas, this was a great "lighter" version for me.
4 Chicken Breasts
10 Dried New Mexico Chilies
1 garlic clove, cut in chunks (you do not have to dice this, it will go in the blender or food processor)
1 Tbsp shortening
1- 1 1/2 tsp water
Salt to taste
Cheddar Chees, grated
Cilantro, chopped
Green onions, chopped

To prepare your enchilada sauce:
Remove the stems from all of the dried chilies. Place the chilies in a pan and cover them with water. Bring to a boil and boil for 30 minutes. (*If you want your sauce to be a little less spicy, after you remove the chilies from the water, remove the vein and the seeds.) Using tongs, pick up the chilies and place them in a food processor or blender with the garlic clove. Mix until completely smooth. Place the sauce in a sieve or small netted strainer with a bowl underneath and push the sauce through the sieve so it will catch all the seeds and pulp. Throw away anything left in the strainer and what is left in the bowl is your enchilada sauce. Set aside.
In a skillet, place the shortening over medium heat. Melt the shortening completely, then add the flour. Stir thoroughly and this will leave you with a roux. *(A roux is a thickening agent for sauces) It will resemble a paste. This is how you want it. After the roux has formed, add the blended sauce to it. Stir thoroughly to blend the roux into the sauce. Salt to taste. Stir and cook for about one minute to blend the flavors.

To cook your chicken and prepare the dish:
Season your chicken with salt and pepper. Cook your chicken any way you prefer. You can bake it, grill it, broil it etc. etc.
A few minutes before your chicken is done cooking, reheat your enchilada sauce. When the chicken is completely cooked, top with sauce and then put the grated cheddar cheese on top of the sauce. Place under the broiler or in the microwave just long enough to melt the cheese.
Remove and garnish with chopped green onions and cilantro. Enjoy!


Sunday, March 24, 2013

Veggie Salad

This is one of my favorite ways to eat raw veggies. I know, you are probably thinking that your favorite way is to cut up some raw veggies and dip them in Ranch dressing. Well, this is a much healthier way to eat them. Let's face it, Ranch dressing is not the healthiest thing in the world. This salad has nothing unhealthy in it at all. There is no measuring, no cooking, it's basically a slice and stir recipe. So next time you are feeling like you just want something extremely healthy to snack on, give this a try. I think you will be surprised at how great it tastes.
You can include any veggies that you like, but these happen to be my favorite. You can add or take away as you please. Also, I happened to use a gourmet olive oil and balsamic vinegar that I had at the house, but plain olive oil and balsamic also tastes great on this salad. I didn't include any amounts in the recipe because this is just a "add the amount you like" kind of recipe.

Cucumber
Celery
Fennel
Red Onion
Tomato
Green Onion
Cilantro
Lemon Infused Olive Oil
Peach Cinnamon Balsamic Vinegar
Salt/Pepper to taste

Chop all the veggies. Throw them into a bowl. Drizzle as much or as little olive oil and vinegar as you would like over them. Add salt and pepper to taste. 

Friday, March 22, 2013

Almond Orange Lace Cookies with Dark Chocolate filling

Have you ever stumbled onto a recipe and you just know as you are reading it (and salivating) that it's going to be a winner? This is exactly that kind of recipe. My mom is visiting tomorrow, so I wanted to make a cookie that I knew she might like. I'm sure she will love these! They are fairy simple to put together and they sure taste great.
 Original Recipe:
http://myjerusalemkitchen.wordpress.com/2011/05/22/dark-chocolate-almond-orange-lace-cookies-florentines/

Ingredients:
1/2 c brown sugar
2 Tbsp room  butter
1 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp milk
1/4 c honey
1/3 c flour
1/2 c almonds, ground coarsely in the food processor
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 heaping tsp orange zest
1/2 c dark chocolate (to melt for filling the cookies)

 The original recipe states that you should follow the order of the instructions carefully. I did so and they turned out great. So take her advice and follow these carefully.  Have 2 cookie trays handy to bake the cookies or if you only have access to one cookie sheet, then bake one tray and be absolutely sure your cookie sheet is cooled off completely before baking the rest of the cookies.
 
1. Preheat oven to 350°.

2. Spray your cookie sheets with Pam or you can line them with Parchment paper. I sprayed mine and they worked fine. 

3. Bring the brown sugar, butter, vanilla, milk and honey to a boil, over medium heat, stirring continuously. Once it reaches a rolling boil, cook for one minute and remove the pan from the heat and set aside. 

4. In  bowl, mix the flour, almonds, cinnamon and orange zest together. Slowly add this dry mixture to the wet mixture and making sure it is stirred together well. Let sit for about 10-12 minutes. 

5. Drop a rounded teaspoon of the cookie mixture onto your greased pan. Make sure you leave at least 3 inches between each cookie, as they will spread a lot. Bake at 350° for 8 minutes. They should be a golden brown color and bubbly. If you used parchment paper, remove the paper from the cookie sheets and let the cookies cool on the counter. If you used Pam, then just remove the cookies from the oven and leave them on the cookie sheet away from the hot stove to cool for about 3-5 minutes.

 6. While the cookies are cooling, in a double boiler or in the microwave, melt the dark chocolate. 

7.  After the cookies have cooled for 3-5 minutes. Remove one cookie and place it upside down on a flat surface. Spread a bit of melted chocolate onto it. Remove another cookie from the cookie sheet and place it on top  of the chocolate. So now you should have a sandwich type  thin cookie with both "pretty" sides facing out. Do this with all the cookies until they are all sandwiched together. Place the cookies into the refrigerator for about 20 minutes until the chocolate firms up.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Corn with Spicy Butter and Lime

Anything with lime and cilantro has got to qualify as a favorite of mine. So when I found this recipe, I just knew it had to be a good one and I was right. Again, I didn't get to enjoy it because corn is no longer on my eating plan, but I did try a bite and was thrilled with the result. The hubby loved it too! This is super quick and easy to make and I'm not sure you could really do it wrong.
Adapted from: http://eatdrinkdaily.com/bbq-corn-mexican-spicy-butter-lime-recipe/

1 (16 oz) bag frozen corn
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 lime, juiced
1/2 tsp paprika
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (use less if you don't like your food too spicy)
1/2 tsp cumin
1 garlic clove, chopped
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp coriander
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

For garnish:
1/2- 1 lime, juiced
Chopped cilantro

Heat oven to 400°
Thaw out corn on countertop or in microwave. Set aside. In a medium bowl, place the melted butter, lime juice, paprika, red pepper flakes, cumin, garlic, sugar, coriander, salt and pepper.  Put the corn into the butter mixture and stir, making sure all the corn is coated with the butter mixture. Pour out the corn into a greased 9x11 pan. (You could also use a square pan) Bake at 400° for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and top with chopped cilantro and lime juice.


Sausage Enchilada Stuffed Zucchini

Sometimes I just sit back and wonder why I do things like this to myself? What did I do you ask? Well I made these wonderful stuffed zucchini and I can't even enjoy them! *sigh*
I am sure shootin positive they don't qualify as a healthy whole food that my nutrition doctor would be excited about me eating. They are generally healthy, but since I am on a whole foods only program, with no dairy, the cheese and a few other ingredients disqualified these for me!

As the hubby was giving them the "thumbs up" at dinner, I couldn't help myself. I got a fork and tasted the smallest amount I could place on the end of the fork. Trust me it was microscopic, but it was enough for me to know that they tasted wonderful. So now I feel like I can give you a tried and true opinion. So gather up the ingredients, put on that old apron that's gathering dust and get cooking!

P.S. Don't be like me and forget to add the chopped green onion to the top after it's finished.  I found them sitting on my countertop after we had already cut into them.

Recipe adapted from: http://www.skinnytaste.com/2012/08/chicken-enchilada-stuffed-zucchini-boats.html

For  the sauce:

1 tsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 chipotle chilis, chopped (canned chipotle chili) (use only 1 tsp if you don't like spicy food)
1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
2/3 cup chicken broth
salt/pepper to taste

For the Zucchini:

4 zucchini
1 tsp canola oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup red bell pepper, chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
8-12 oz pork sausage, cooked(I used pork green chili sausage from Sprouts market)
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp chili powder
3 Tbsp chicken broth
1 Tbsp tomato paste
salt/pepper to taste

For  topping:

1 cup cheddar cheese, grated (you can substitute your favorite...mozzarella, jack, pepper jack etc)
 1 (3.8 oz) can sliced olives, drained

For garnish:

Chopped cilantro
Green onions



In a medium saucepan, saute the garlic in the olive oil for about 2 minutes. Add the chipotle chilis, tomato sauce, chili powder, cumin, chicken broth, salt and pepper. . Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 5- 10 minutes. Adjust the salt and pepper to suit your taste. Set the sauce aside until later.

Preheat oven to 400 °. Cut zucchini in half lengthwise and use a spoon or melon baller to scoop out the flesh, leaving about a 1/4 inch thickness to the zucchini boat. Chop the scooped out flesh of the zucchini into small pieces and set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Drop the zucchini boats into the boiling water and cook for 1 minute, then immediately remove from the water to stop the cooking process. Set aside.

In a large skillet, heat the canola oil and add the onion, garlic and red bell pepper. Cook on medium heat for about 3 minutes. Ad chopped zucchini and cilantro and season with salt and pepper. Cook about 4 minutes then add the cooked sausage, cumin, Italian seasoning, chili powder, chicken broth, and tomato paste. Cook for 3 more minutes. Taste and adjust salt and pepper as needed.

Place 1/4 cup enchilada sauce on the bottom of a 13x9 baking dish that has been sprayed with Pam. Place zucchini halves in the dish, cut side up. Fill each zucchini boat with 1/3 cup sausage mixture. If there is extra, just scoop it on in to any that look like they could use some extra. Push the mixture down into the zucchini with the back of your spoon. 

Pour the remaining enchilada sauce over the zucchini boats. Top with 1 cup grated cheese and sliced olives. Cover with foil and bake at 400 ° for 35 minutes. Top with chopped cilantro and sliced green onions.


Thursday, March 7, 2013

Chocolate Orange Banana Bread with White Chocolate Chunks

Kudos to Barry C. Parsons for creating this amazing bread recipe.If you get a chance, head on over to his original recipe at this link: http://www.nlrockrecipes.com/2012/03/chocolate-orange-banana-bread-with.html
and check out some of his other recipes. They all look wonderful.

This is now my most favorite banana bread recipe. Sure, sometimes plain old banana bread sounds great, (as long as there are no nuts in it), but trust me when I tell you that this bread has such a fantastic  array of flavors and they all work together beautifully. I wish I was a better photographer, so you could genuinely see how great this bread looks, but I guess cooking and baking shall remain my only talents for now! So if you are looking for a new way to jazz up that old banana bread, this is definitely it!


*My white chocolate was in an enormous block, so I had trouble chopping it. Mine came out more "shaved" and that's why you can't see the white chocolate chunks in my sliced bread as much.The shavings were small and somewhat "melted" into the bread as it was cooking.
1 cup white sugar
½ cup vegetable oil
2 eggs, beaten
3 medium ripe bananas, mashed
zest of one orange

1 3/4 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt

juice of one orange
1/2 pound white chocolate, roughly chopped into chunks
Preheat oven to 325°.

Beat sugar and oil in a bowl. Add eggs, orange zest and mashed banana. Mix well.
Sift together dry ingredients and fold into banana mixture alternately with orange juice.
Fold in the white chocolate chunks. Pour batter into 1 large or two small greased loaf pans. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour depending upon pan size. Mine took well over an hour since I used a large loaf pan. Bake  until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Caramel Apple Pie

Having company over is the best excuse for me to bake something. So when we decided to have friends over on Saturday evening, I scoured my Pinterest boards to find a great dessert recipe. I found a recipe for Candy Apple Pie that looked like a winner. After a quick trip to the grocery store, I started putting this pie together. This was a great dessert choice for me because I don't like apple pie, so I knew I would not be tempted by this one at all. I was dead wrong! While it was baking, I  had a moment of insanity, where I thought about waiting for it to cool off and taking it into a closet and consuming the entire thing by myself.  Then it dawned on me that the hubby would probably find a pecan and caramel trail down the hall, and also, if company arrived and there was no dessert, someone would figure out what I had done, so I left it alone. I was a good girl and didn't eat any, but company, and the hubby, did enjoy it! If you like caramel apples and you can handle a pretty sweet dessert, you just  might like this one. There is a very thin "almost cheesecake like" layer in it also.




This is where you can find the original recipe:
http://www.thekitchn.com/-best-pie-bakeoff-2008-entry-1-10-69632
*The only adaptation I made is that I used Richardson brand butterscotch caramel instead of plain caramel.

Crust:
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
3 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/3 c butter, melted
3/4 c Richardson's Butterscotch Caramel ice cream topping
1 c chopped pecans

Apple Filling:
5 Granny Smith apples (peeled, cored, sliced very thin)
5 Tbsp butter
1/2 c brown sugar (lightly packed)
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon

Cream Cheese Topping:
8 oz. cream cheese
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/4 c sugar

Topping:
3/4 c heavy cream, whipped
2 Tbsp sugar


Garnish:
1/2 c Richardson's Butterscotch Caramel ice cream topping
1/4 c pecans, chopped
 
Preheat oven to 375°

In a medium bowl, combine the crumbs, sugar, cinnamon and melted butter. Mix well and press into a 10-inch pie plate and up the sides. Bake for 6 to 7 minutes or until golden. Remove from oven and cool completely. Pour 3/4 cup caramel into pie shell and sprinkle with 1 cup of chopped pecans. Refrigerate the pie shell while you are making the apple filling.

In a large skilet, over medium heat, melt butter and add brown sugar, salt and cinnamon. Stir. Add apples and stir again until they are coated well. Cook over medium heat for 15 minutes or until apples are softened and tender. Let cool for 10 minutes and pour into the  pie shell.

Reduce oven to 350°

In a mixer, combine cream cheese and sugar for about 1 minute until smooth. Add egg, lemon juice and vanilla and beat for 1 minute or until fully blended. Pour over apple filling in pie shell. Bake for 30 minutes or until an inserted knife comes out clean. Remove pie from oven and let cool. Refrigerate for 4 hours.

After you pie has been refrigerated, combine the heavy whipping cream and the sugar in a mixer. Whip until it is a whipped cream consistency. Spread this onto your pie.

Top with 1/2 cup Richardson's Butterscotch Caramel and 1/4 cup chopped pecans.
It's best to take this pie out of the refrigerator at least a half hour before serving.