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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Red Velvet Cake Batter Fudge

Would this be considered complete sabotage if I made this today to take to my fitness trainer? I think so, but I think it was my own sabatoge, because I certainly HAD to taste a bite for quality control. ;)
The fact that there are still some pieces sitting in my refrigerator right now is not boding well for me. If you listen closely, you can probably  hear it calling my name. I would have taken my trainer all of it, but I knew if I did, she would create a wicked workout for me to pay me back haha! So here I sit, exerting every bit of will power  I have to NOT go get another piece. Do you think I'll make it? I hope so, but for now, you will have to excuse me while I go to the refrigerator for a piece of fudge  healthy drink of water! :)
Recipe Source:


1 box Red Velvet cake mix 
2 cups powdered sugar
10 Tbsp butter, cut into small pieces or cubes
5 Tbsp milk
3/4 cup white chocolate chips
Edible pearls or sprinkles for decorating

Sift together cake mix and powdered sugar in a large microwaveable bowl. Add cubed butter and milk. There is no need to stir. Microwave on high for 2 minutes.

Immediately remove from the microwave and stir until it is all blended and creamy. Stir in white chocolate chips making sure they completely melted into the fudge and there are no white streaks. Press fudge into a parchment lined or lightly greased 8x8 pan. Add the edible pearls or sprinkles on top, if using, and refrigerate until set, about 2 hours or place into the freezer for 20-30 minutes to set it up quickly. When firm, cut into squares and serve.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Vegetable Tray with Fiesta Dip

Sometimes when things look pretty, it tricks you into thinking you want to eat  more of it. That was the case with this vegetable tray I made yesterday for my father in laws birthday party. Now if I could only figure out how to NOT make this theory work when it comes to sweets. I mean, sweets don't even have to look pretty and my brain is still tricked into thinking I want more. But thankfully the veggie tray looked and tasted great and so I got to enjoy quite a bit of it. This is such an easy and yet decorative way to serve veggies and dip.
For the vegetables:

1 head Savoy cabbage
Any vegetables you want cut up for dipping

Wash the cabbage head and cut a fairly large circle into the top with a knife. Gently remove the circle and use a melon baller to take out the insides of the cabbage head, leaving enough of a lining to support the dip you will pace inside.
Gently pull back the outer layers of the savoy cabbage.  (If they break off that's ok because you can tuck them under the head of cabbage on the tray to fill with the vegetables) Place the head of cabbage in the center of the tray and fill each "leaf" with your favorite vegetables. Make the fiesta dip and place it into the cabbage head when you are ready to serve.

For the Fiesta Dip:
4 oz cream cheese, softened 
1/4 cup nonfat plain yogurt  
1/8 cup light mayonnaise  
1 Tbsp cilantro, chopped 
3/4 tsp lime juice 
1/4 teaspoon Sriracha Sauce (or your favorite hot sauce) 
1/8 teaspoon salt 
2-3 Tbsp chopped jarred roasted red bell peppers 
1 Tbsp finely chopped green onion

Place the first 7 ingredients in the bowl of your food processor and process until smooth. Add the roasted peppers and the green onion and pulse the processor just a few times until blended they are blended in.
Place in a bowl and cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Frosted Toffee Crunch Brownies

If I'm going to be honest here, I would probably tell you that if I am ever left alone with the ingredients for this frosting, I will probably just make a huge bowl of it and sit with a spoon and work my way through it. Seriously....I want to wallow in this stuff. It's so chocolatey, gooey and rich. The Heath toffee bits, gives it a bit of a crunch, which just makes it that much better. There is really nothing else to say except: Get off your butt and bake these lol. Then ship me some, because I'm seriously afraid to have these frosting ingredients laying around my house. It could be a real danger to my pant size!
For the brownies: 
1 box Brownie mix
1 pkg Heath Toffee baking bits (sold on the baking aisle by the chocolate chips in most stores)

Make brownie batter according to pkg directions. Stir in half of the bag (6 oz) of Heath baking chips.
Bake as directed on the package. While the brownies are baking, prepare the frosting.

For the frosting:
6 Tbsp butter
1 can sweetened condensed milk
6 oz Heath baking chips
1 tsp vanilla

Melt butter in saucepan on stovetop. Stir in Heath baking chips, sweetened condensed milk and vanilla. Stir until melted and smooth. When brownies come out of the oven, let sit for 5 minutes then pour the frosting evenly onto the top of the brownies. Spread till smooth, if needed. Place in the refrigerator until the topping is firm enough to cut through. Enjoy!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Sweet and Sour Thai Chicken

Once again, I apologize for the cruddy picture. I seriously lack in the picture taking skill department. I can cook till the cows come home, but don't ask me to be able to take a good picture of my food ;)
I found this recipe on Pinterest and I knew I had to try it. Lately I seem to be on a serious Asian cooking kick. I think that's 3 nights out of 4 now that I have made Asian food. Maybe that's because I LOVE it! I think I could vary between Asian and Mexican cooking and be completely satisfied . So maybe next week I will find a new "kick" to get started on. Who knows? Anyway, I will definitely be making this one again. We loved it at our house and it was fairly simple to make.
Recipe Source:

For  the chicken:

3- 4 chicken breasts, cut into chunky bite size pieces
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 cups panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
2 Tbsp conrmeal
For the sauce:
1 cup sweet Thai chili sauce (I use Mae Ploy brand)
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp all natural peanut butter
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1/2 cup apple juice
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 lime, juiced
1 tsp fish sauce
2 coves garlic, chopped
1 Tbsp fresh ginger, grated
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1/4 tsp pepper
1 Tbsp cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon cold water (optional)
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped, plus more for garnish
Chopped cashews, for garnish
Preheat the oven to 475°F. 
Line a baking sheet with foil and spray it with Pam.
Add the chicken to a large bowl and pour the buttermilk over it. Mix well and set aside.
In a shallow pie dish or large bowl add the panko, cornmeal and a pinch of salt and pepper. Mix well.
Remove each piece of chicken from the buttermilk, and dredge through the crumbs, pressing gently to adhere. Place on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat until all the chicken has been coated. Spray the top of the chicken pieces with non stick cooking spray.
Bake for 12 minutes, then gently flip the chicken pieces over and spray the other side. Bake for 10-12 minutes more, then remove the chicken from the oven. Reduce the oven to 400°.
While the chicken is baking make the sauce. 
Combine the sweet Thai chili sauce, soy sauce, brown sugar, peanut butter, tomato paste, apple juice, rice vinegar, lime juice, fish sauce, garlic, ginger, crushed red pepper and pepper in a medium sauce pot. Bring the sauce to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes or until sauce has thickened slightly. If the sauce does not thicken enough, then add in the cornstarch/water mixture and boil 1-2 minutes until slightly thickened. Remove from the heat and stir in the cilantro.
Gently toss each piece of chicken in the sauce, draining the excess sauce back in to the pot. Place the chicken back on the pan and repeat until all the chicken is coated in the sauce. Place the pan of chicken back in the oven for 5 minutes.
Serve with fresh cilantro, chopped cashews and any extra sauce for dipping.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Frosted Creme De Menthe Brownies

This is a terrible picture of these brownies, that does not do them any justice at all. They were so much better than they look here. I made these quickly before work this morning and basically ran out of time to let the frosting cool before I had to cut them. This  is why the top looks cracked and "bumpy." But since these are so wonderful tasting, there was none left to take a picture of when I got home. So, unfortunately this is the only picture I have to post on here. It's actually a really good thing that these are no longer in my house, because I'm not sure I could have denied myself the pleasure of enjoying ANY that were left!
For the brownies: 
1 box Brownie mix
1 pkg Andes Creme De Menthe baking  chihps

Make brownie batter according to pkg directions. Stir in half of the bag (6 oz) of Andes Creme De Menthe chips.
Bake as directed on the package. While the brownies are baking, prepare the frosting.

For the frosting:
6 Tbsp butter
1 can sweetened condensed milk
6 oz Andes Creme De Menthe baking chips
1 tsp vanilla

Melt butter in saucepan on stovetop. Stir in Andes baking chips, sweetened condensed milk and vanilla. Stir until melted and smooth. When brownies come out of the oven, let sit for 5 minutes then pour the frosting evenly onto the top of the brownies. Spread till smooth, if needed. Place in the refrigerator until the topping is firm enough to cut through. Enjoy!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Sweet Fire Chicken

I really don't like to eat out much. Since I love to cook, I find myself at restaurants thinking, "I could make this at home and it would probably taste just as good." So we don't eat out that much. I guess that's what happens when you love to cook! I would prefer to spend a couple hours in the kitchen creating a fabulous meal, rather than get dressed and head out to order something that I'm not even sure if I'm going to like. I had found a recipe on Pinterest for sweet fire chicken. I LOVE the sweet fire chicken at Panda Express, so I just knew I had to try this recipe. I looked forward to it all day. I could tell by the smell of the sauce cooking, that I was going to love this. I sure did. That's 2 Asian dinners this week that we have loved. This recipe is definitely a keeper!

Recipe Source:

For the chicken:
3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces
salt/ pepper to taste
2 eggs
¼ cup flour
⅔ cup corn starch
1 Tbsp oil

 Place eggs in a bowl and whisk. Place flour in another bowl, and corn starch in yet another bowl. Season the chopped chicken with salt and pepper to taste. Toss about a half a cup of  the chicken pieces at a time, in the whisked egg bowl, then remove and toss in the flour bowl, then remove and toss in the corn starch bowl. Repeat with all chicken pieces until all are coated well. Set aside  on a plate. Heat oil over medium high heat in a large pan or non stick skillet. Add chicken pieces and cook, stirring occasionally.  Cook for about 8-10 minutes or until all chicken pieces are cooked through, browned, and slightly crispy. Place in a bowl or on a a  plate and set aside.

 For the sauce:

2 tsp garlic, chopped
1-2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes (use less if you don’t want it really spicy)
⅔ cup sugar
1 cup water
2 Tbsp sweet red chili sauce (I use Mae Ploy brand)
½ tsp salt
4 Tbsp cold water + 3 tablespoons corn starch

1 red bell pepper, chopped
½ white onion, chopped
1 (15 oz) ounce cans pineapple chunks, packed in pineapple  juice, drained

In a large sauce pan, combine first 6 sauce ingredients and bring to a boil, whisking constantly. In a small bowl whisk together cold water and corn starch. When sauce comes to a boil, add corn starch mixture and continue to stir until sauce thickens. Reduce the heat. Add peppers, onions, and pineapple chunks to pan  and cook over medium heat 2-3 minutes until onions start to turn translucent. Add the chicken to the sauce and stir. Cook until chicken is reheated all the way through. Serve hot with coconut rice.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Salted Dark Chocolate Cashew Clusters

My hubby loves dark chocolate. And when I say dark chocolate, I mean the kind that is so dark and so bitter that it in no way resembles chocolate. So when I stumbled upon some of the dark chocolate chips that I like, that are definitely not so bitter, I decided that I would make these for him and see if he liked them. I should have known he would as he likes anything with dark chocolate. Thankfully he liked them, because if he hadn't I would, or rather my hips would, have been in trouble. I only made 5 and between the hubby, daughter and grand daughter I am thankful I do not have to worry about this temptation any longer. I didn't even taste one, but word on the street has it, they were very good!
Dark chocolate, melted
Coarse Sea Salt

There really is no "recipe" for these. Just take any amount of your favorite dark chocolate and melt it down. Stir in any amount of cashews you would like and then scoop it up by the spoonful and place it on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Sprinkle the tops with coarse sea salt and place the cookie sheet in the refrigerator until the chocolate has firmed up.

Dark Chocolate Dipped Oranges with Sea Salt

For those of you that know me, you know I do NOT like oranges! BUT I do love dark chocolate. I was trying to make a dessert with my 3 year old grand daughter, that would be somewhat healthy for her to eat after dinner. I mean seriously....Santa brought her a cotton candy maker, so I'm sure she has consumed enough sugar for the year already and it's only Jan. 9th! She loves oranges, I mean LOVES them. So why not try to combine her love of oranges with my love of chocolate? I was sure hesitant on this one because I figured I automatically would not like it, but I knew that everyone else would eat them. Well, with trepidation, I bit into one, but ONLY on the side with the chocolate haha and guess what? I loved it! But I do have a confession to make here (insert dramatic music here) I threw away the other half that was not covered in chocolate. I know, I know, that's a sin. But I already asked for forgiveness and I'm quite sure I'm ok now!
1 orange (or 3 cuties or mandarin oranges)
6 oz dark chocolate, melted
coarse sea salt

Cover a small cookie sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
Peel the orange and break apart the slices or segments, peeling away as much pithe (the bitter white stuff) as you can. In a bowl, melt the dark chocolate in the microwave (be careful it burns easily) and dip the orange slices into the dark chocolate. Sprinkle with sea salt and set on the parchment paper lined cookie sheet and place in the refrigerator to firm up. Serve. 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Honey Sesame Chicken

This recipe really is a "winner winner chicken dinner." It tastes like you are eating Chinese take out food, but you actually made it yourself. It's really super easy and doesn't require a lot of time. Today this was a good thing, as I was gone the entire day, between work, running errands and going on a booty kicking 4 mile, almost all uphill walk! I felt so good afterward, but trust me when I say, I came home so hungry that I could have consumed this entire pan of chicken. You think I'm kidding? I seriously had to stop myself from going back for more and more and more. I didn't want my walk to have been for nothing! So my plan is to make this again soon and find a way to sneak some extra in without gaining 10 lbs!
Recipe Source:

4 chicken breasts
1 cup cornstarch
3 eggs
salt and pepper, to taste
¼ cup vegetable or canola oil

¾ cup honey
¾ cup soy sauce
½ cup ketchup
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup rice wine vinegar
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp minced garlic
2 T cornstarch
Chopped green onions for garnish
Toasted sesame seeds for garnish

Heat oven to 325°. Cut chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

In two separate bowls, place cornstarch and slightly beaten eggs. Dip chicken into cornstarch then coat in egg mixture.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and cook chicken until browned. Place the chicken in a
9 x 13 greased baking dish.

In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine honey, soy sauce, ketchup, brown sugar, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, minced garlic, and cornstarch. Pour over the chicken and bake for 30-40 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Stir the chicken every 10 minutes or so, to coat the chicken in the sauce. *If you need to thicken up the sauce, just stir in a tsp of cornstarch at a time and cook for a couple minutes and then check to see if it's thick enough for your liking, if not then do the same process again.
Remove chicken from the oven and sprinkle sesame seeds on the top and chopped green onions. Serve plain or over rice.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Thai Lime Coconut Rice

I have a recipe book that is about cooking  your way around the world. I absolutely LOVE the section on Thailand. I have been making this coconut rice for years, just plain. The other day I was thinking how much I love coconut and lime together and decided to try it out on this rice. I'm so thankful I did, as it was a great combination. I also added a touch more sugar than I usually do and that was a good change also. Then I saw on Pinterest about adding all these goodies to coconut rice. So guess what I did? Yep...I added goodies. Oh my goodness, I want to eat this every day of my life! I even ate a bite cold out of the refrigerator today for leftovers. That's how good this was!!
1 can coconut milk (14 oz)
1/2 lime, juiced
1 cup water
1 cup Jasmine Rice
2 1/2 tsp sugar
salt to taste
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup honey roasted, or cocktail peanuts, chopped
1/2 cup toasted, shredded coconut

1. Turn the oven on to 350. Pour the coconut out onto a cookie sheet and make sure it's in a single layer. When oven is hot, place the cookie sheet in the oven. Set the timer for4 minutes and check to see if the coconut is golden and toasted. If it isn't, then set the timer for 1-2 minutes and check it again. Repeat this process until your coconut is toasted and golden. Remove from the oven and set aside.

2. In a medium saucepan, combine coconut milk, lime juice and water. Bring to a boil. Add the rice, sugar and salt. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until all the liquid is absorbed. This can take from 20-40 minutes.

3. Serve rice with the garnishes: Toasted coconut, cilantro, peanuts and extra lime if you wish!

Grilled Skirt Steak with Jalapeno Chimichurri

Since I'm not a red meat fan, I wasn't sure of what my reaction to this recipe would be. Well, I guess as long as there is a sauce on red meat to cover the flavor of the meat, then I must be ok with it. I loved this chimichurri sauce! I literally drowned my meat in this sauce haha. I have made chimichurri sauce many times before, but I haven't ever made it with jalapenos. This will definitely be my new "go to" chimichurri" sauce reipe. So even if you are not a huge fan or red meat, give this a try. I'm sure this sauce would be good on anything.
Recipe Adapted From:

2 jalapenos 
2 cups cilantro 
2 cups Italian parsley 
2 cloves garlic (2 tsp minced garlic) 
Juice of 3 limes 
3Tbsp cooking sherry 
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar 
1/2 cup olive oil, plus more for brushing the steak
salt/pepper to taste 
2 lbs skirt steak

Preheat the grill.
Char the jalapenos on the stovetop with a gas burner or on a grill until the outsides are charred. Place them in a paper bag or a small bowl covered with a plate or towel and allow the skins to steam and loosen. Peel, stem, and seed the chilies.

In a food processor or blender, combine the jalapeƱos, cilantro, parsley, garlic, lime juice, sherry, apple cider vinegar, olive oil, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Pulse (or blend) until the mixture is a coarse puree. Taste and adjust for salt and blend again if needed.

Rub the steaks with olive oil and season very generously with salt and pepper. Grill until cooked to your eatin preference (medium well for our family)
Remove to a plate and allow to rest for at least 5 minutes.

Slice the steak across the grain with the knife at a 45 degree angle. Arrange on a serving plate and spoon some chimichurri over the steak. Serve with the extra sauce.