Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Gingerbread



I love the flavor of gingerbread but had never actually made any before. This was so nice, especially when warm with powdered sugar and whipped cream on top! I had read one review that said to use rounded teaspoonfuls of the spices rather than leveling them off. I did it that way too and like the results so I would recommend doing it as well. Mmmm. * Just bought a mini bundt pan (walmart $11) and made this recipe using it and they turned out so cute and just as moist and good. Perfect individual portions for gifting!


Gingerbread/Gingerbread Cake

Ingredients
Cream Together:
1/2 cup shortening
1/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup molasses

In a separate bowl mix:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Grease and flour an 8" square pan (or use Pam).
  3. The ingredients listed under "cream together" should be added one ingredient at a time, creaming in between each addition.
  4. When you have finished adding/creaming all the liquid ingredients, keep beating the liquid mixture, folding in the dry mixture, alternating with the 2/3 cup sour milk.
  5. Once everything is mixed in, pour the batter into the prepared pan.
  6. Bake at 350°. Check for doneness by inserting a toothpick in the middle.
  7. When it comes out clean, it's done.
If using a mini bundt pan: spray with pam and fill cups to a 1/4 inch below the wavy design part. Bake at 350 for 10-13 minutes. Let cool 15 minutes and gently scoop out of pan.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Sweet Potatoes with Praline Topping

I've been making these for two years now for Thanksgiving and the difference between baking your sweet potatoes fresh rather than using the canned yams makes such a difference. These are so good. My only problem is that I'm torn every year whether to top them with the praline topping (mmmm) or the traditional marshmallows? Still, I don't know yet.


Sweet Potatoes with Praline Topping


Serves ~8

3 lbs sweet potatoes
1 can (5oz) evaporated milk
4 Tbs unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 Tbs firmly packed light brown sugar
1 Tbs vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt

Topping:
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup all purpose flour
4 Tbs unsalted butter, melted
1/3 cup (1 oz) chopped pecans
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 425. Line a baking sheet with foil.

Rinse the sweet potatoes and prick in several places with fork. Place on prepared baking sheet and bake until very soft when pierced with a knife, 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hrs. Remove sweet potatoes from oven and reduce heat to 325.

When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, peel them and put the pulp in the bowl of a food processor. Add the evaporated milk, butter, eggs , brown sugar, vanilla and salt. Process until smooth andcreamy. Transfer to an 8 inch baking dish.

Topping: Combine brown sugar,flour,butter,pecans and salt in a medium bowl. Spoon topping over potatoes. Bake until topping is golden brown, 25-35 minutes.

Notes: The sweet potato puree can be made a day in advance and refrigerated. The topping can be prepared 3-5 days in advance and stored in a sealed plastic bag in the refrigerator.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Apple Brownies


Another great fall dessert. These were more like apple crisp than a true brownie, but I would probably make them over a traditional apple crisp when faced with the choice. They were so moist and perfect with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Apple Brownies
Gourmet Mom on the Go

Ingredients:
1 c. butter
2 c. sugar
2 eggs
2 C. flour
1 tsp. Baking powder
2 tsp. cinnamon
3 large or 4 small apples, peeled and diced
granulated sugar (for sprinkling on top after baking)
Caramel Ice Cream topping (optional)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350. Choose your pan size: either a 9 x 13 pan, two pie pans, or a pie pan and four mini-loaf pans. Spray with nonstick cooking spray. Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and apples. Mix well. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with sugar.

Creamed Spinach

I made this last Christmas and everyone loved it. It is such a great side for the holidays, but it's good enough to make anytime.


Creamed Spinach

Serves: 6-8
Prep. Time: 0:35

5 Tbls. butter OR margarine - divided
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 dash ground nutmeg
1 cup half and half cream
4 oz. cream cheese
1 sm. onion - minced
3 cloves garlic - minced
(2) 10 oz. pkgs. frozen chopped spinach - thawed
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese


-In a 2-quart saucepan over medium-low heat, melt 3 Tbls. butter; stir in flour, salt, pepper, and nutmeg; slowly whisk in cream; stir in cream cheese.
-Increase heat to medium; whisk mixture constantly until thick and smooth; remove from heat and set aside.
-In a skillet over medium-high heat, cook onions and garlic in remaining 2 Tbls. butter until transparent; stir spinach and water into pan.
-Reduce heat to medium-low; cover; simmer, stirring occasionally, for 8 minutes.
-Stir spinach mixture into creamy mixture; return to medium heat; heat, stirring often, until warmed throughout.
-Remove from heat; fold in Parmesan.

Buttermilk Pancakes.

Omigosh! These were the best pancakes. I know it's just a pancake, but every bite made me so happy I couldn't stop raving about them.

Buttermilk Pancakes

Recipezaar.com Recipe #66241/Williams-Sonoma

SERVES 3 -5

  1. In a bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the eggs on medium speed until frothy.
  2. Add the buttermilk, melted butter and vanilla and mix well.
  3. Add the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt, and beat on medium speed just until blended. (You may have a few lumps, but don't worry about it).
  4. You can also mix this together using a wooden spoon or whatever you have.
  5. Heat lightly greased griddle at 350 degrees.
  6. Pour about 1/3 cup of the batter onto griddle for each pancake.
  7. Cook until the tops of the pancakes are covered with tiny bubbles and the batter is set, about 4-6 minutes. Flip pancakes and cook until the undersides are golden brown, about 4 minutes more.
  8. Repeat with remaining batter.

Chocolate Chip Banana Cake


I made this recipe into a mini round cake for Jude's Birthday and then used the rest of the batter to make cupcakes. This was such a yummy cake; moist and flavorful, not too sweet and perfect with cream cheese frosting. This is definitely one of my new go to cake recipes.

Chocolate Chip Banana Cake
Under the Highchair

1/4 lb (1 stick) sweet butter
1 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs, separated
1 cup mashed ripe bananas, I used 2 bananas
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate chips

-Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour two 9-inch layer cake pans.
-Cream butter and sugar together. Add egg yolks and beat well. Add mashed bananas, mixing thoroughly.
-Sift dry ingredients and add to butter mixture. Stir until just combined in. Add buttermilk and vanilla. Beat egg whites to soft peaks. Fold into batter gently. Sprinkle in chocolate chips and fold together.
-Pour batter into the prepared pans. Set on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean.
-Cool in pans on a rack for 10 minutes. Unmold and cool on rack for 2 hours.

Perfect Cream Cheese Frosting

  • Mmmm. If your making a cake that needs a firmer cream cheese frosting this is the tastiest I've had. My first choice would be the whipped cream cheese frosting, but this definitely takes second place.

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened

  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 1/2 cups icing sugar

  • Cream the butter and cream cheese until smooth.
  • Beat in 1 teaspoon vanilla.
  • Add icing sugar and beat on low speed until combined, then on high speed until frosting is smooth.
  • Spread on cooled cake.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Alfredo and Italian Sausage Pizza

Our last Pillsbury crust pizza turned out so well and was so easy and quick I tried another one this week when we were in a crunch for what to have for dinner. This was one was really yummy too. As a side note, next time I will pre-bake the crust a bit, to avoid the middle being a little soggy. Also as a note, when that does happen or you are reheating left over pizza, throw a few slices on a lightly greased frying pan over med to get the bottom crispy again and then in the microwave to heat the top. Works like a charm.

Toppings:

Alfredo sauce
Roma tomatoes, sliced
mild Italian sausage, cooked
red onion, sliced thin
dollops of ricotta cheese
Italian blend shredded cheese sprinkled over top



Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Spinach Salad

I always feel like salads can be funny things to make recipes for, but this was such a good combination I wanted to be able to remember it.

Spinach Salad
adapted from the Bazbeaux Pizza menu

fresh spinach leaves
sliced mushroom
crumbled bacon ( i love the hormel pre done kind in a package by the dressings and condiments)
chopped boiled egg
sliced red onion
black olives
shredded mozzarella

I used Marie's brand honey mustard dressing on this and it all came together so perfectly. This was a delicious salad ( I actually didn't put in the egg this time), the kind where the salad isn't just a plate filler but a desire for seconds.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Chicken Garlic Pizza

Okay, here is my resistance to homemade pizza- the crust. No offense to anyone who makes it, but I have never had a homemade crust that has equaled the goodness of the take out variety. I have tried to make my own from scratch and have been really unsatisfied as well. So, I know for those purists out there, admitting that I actually loved the store bought Pillsbury thin crust in a tube may be horrific. But, purism aside, this crust has made me excited to get on the homemade pizza bandwagon. This particular pizza was really yummy and fun to make. It has opened my eyes to all of the great variations I could try and I am looking forward to pizza night from my own kitchen now, armed with my trusty blue tube.

Chicken Garlic Pizza
Annie's Eats

2 chicken breasts
salt and pepper
2 tsp olive oil
4 Tbsp. butter
4 cloves garlic minced
4 Tbsp. green onion, chopped
1 tsp. dried basil
2-3 Roma tomatoes, sliced
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 - 1 cup ricotta cheese
1 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
pizza crust

Season chicken breasts on both sides with salt and pepper. Heat olive oil in a skillet on med-high and cook chicken until browned on both sides. Remove and cut into bite sized chunks. Return to pan, reducing heat to med and finish cooking until cooked through. In a small sauce pan, melt butter with garlic, onion and basil( I didn't have any on hand so I just used Italian seasoning.) Pour into a chilled dish to cool and refrigerate until set but still soft. Preheat oven to 350 for homed crust or 400 ( i think it is, check tube) for Pillsbury. Spread herb butter over crust. Arrange chicken on top, then dot with ricotta. Top with tomato slices, cilantro and Parmesan. Bake 15-20 minutes until crust is golden brown and cheese is melted.

I don't have a picture, though this pizza was picture perfect, because my camera battery was dead so here is a link to Annie's

Chicken Fettucine

I finally got the last recipe that the Relief Society girls brought over to me when I had Jude. I was surprised to find that I had a recipe really similar to this and wasn't that wowed by it. I guess the subtle changes really make a difference , because I love this version. It's one of those meals that you are excited to eat the left overs of the next day.

Chicken Fettucine
Tracy Belnap

2-3 chicken breasts
1 stick butter,melted
1 pkg. Italian dressing mix
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/4 cup water
fettucine or linguine noodles
1 pkg cream cheese, softened

Turn crock pot onto low. Add butter, then chicken breasts then sprinkle Italian seasoning over top. Cook on low for 3-4 hours. ( I did mine on med-high and they were done in about an hour and a half.)

Remove chicken and cut into bite sized pieces. Return chicken to crock pot and add soup, water and cream cheese. Stir until well combined. Cover and let cook until it boils. Serve over pasta.

Mmmm, so yummy.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Chinese Chicken Salad


Now, I don't know what the traditional way of making this salad is or if there really even is one. I saw so many different versions when I tried looking it up on recipezaar. This is my parent's recipe or Empire Caterer's recipe that is. I loved this salad when they would make it for catering dinners and called my dad for the recipe last week, having a sudden nostalgic craving for it. Unfortunately, they've only ever made this in batches that serve fifty or more people so trying to convert the measurements down was guess work. I took what my dad gave me and played around with it from there. Mine ended up quite tasty, but with a bit too much soy sauce. So my new adjustment to that is reflected here. Enjoy!

Chinese Chicken Salad
The Chernans

Dressing:

1 cup mayonnaise
3 Tbs. sour cream
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 Tbs soy sauce
1/4 tsp ground ginger
2 Tbs sugar

Mix all ingredients together. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 min to an hour before using.

Salad:

grilled chicken breast (or boiled) cut into strips or diced
romaine lettuce
chinese crunchy noodles
bean sprouts
cashews or sliced almonds
mandarin oranges
water chestnuts ( I don't like them, so i leave them out)

Amounts are subject to how many you are serving. The dressing will cover at least one normal sized bag of prepackaged romaine, probably two.

Asparagus with Tomatoes and Feta


I love, love, love asparagus. It and squash are probably my two favorite vegetables. So this recipe caught my fancy by taking that favorite of mine and making me think outside the box on how it can be served. This was a perfect side dish for a summer dinner; so fresh and yummy. For the asparagus fiends that we are, one bunch of asparagus only serves two, so I would recommend 2 bunches for more servings and just doubling the recipe.


Asparagus with Tomatoes and FetaAsparagus with Tomatoes and Feta

1 tbsp olive oil

1 shallot, finely minced

2 vine ripened tomatoes, seeded and diced

1-2 oz crumbled feta cheese

salt and pepper

In a large skillet, lay the asparagus in a single layer (or as close to a single layer as you can get). Add water just until the asparagus is covered. Heat over medium-high heat until the water boils. Reduce the heat and let simmer until the asparagus is tender. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a medium skillet or saucepan over medium-high heat. Sauté the shallot until tender, 3-4 minutes. Add the diced tomatoes to the pan and cook 2-3 minutes, just to warm and wilt very slightly. Once the asparagus is tender, remove from the heat and drain. Remove the shallot-tomato mixture from the heat, stir in the feta, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Place the warm asparagus on a serving platter (or individual plates) and top with the tomato-feta mixture. Serve immediately

Chicken Cordon Bleu Bake


I like casseroles, usually best at a church function, but they always seem a little less appealing to me at home. But, this one sounded like it had good strong flavors and was easy to put together so I thought I'd give it a try. After all, every kitchen needs some easy, comfort food meals.

I only used a cup of cheddar, not feeling like it needed any sprinkled on top since I'm trying to be a little healthier these days. And, even though 3/4 lbs of ham and two boxes of mix seem like a lot, it works. Though, really, this recipe makes a lot. We're on night three of it! So for a small table like ours I would suggest dividing the recipe into two 8x8 casserole dishes and freezing one. This was definitely good enough that we're not sick of it yet, but you can only eat leftovers so many nights in a row!

Chicken Cordon Bleu Bake
Sister's Cafe

2 Packages reduced sodium Stuffing mix
1 can (10 3/4 oz) cream of chicken soup
1 cup milk
1/2 tsp pepper
3/4 lb sliced deli ham, cut into 1/2 inch strips
1 cup swiss cheese shredded
2 cups cheddar cheese shredded
2 cups cooked chicken

Prepare stuffing mixes according to directions on box. Meanwhile in a bowl, combine soup and milk. Put chicken in a greased 9x13 baking dish. Sprinkle with pepper. Layer with ham, swiss cheese and 1 cups of cheddar cheese, soup mixture and stuffing. Sprinkle with remaining cheddar cheese. At this point you can freeze. Thaw in refrigerator overnight. Remove from fridge 30 minutes before baking. Cover and bake at 350 for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake 10-15 minutes longer.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Mayan Chocolate Cookies

This recipe totally intrigued me, especially since I love chili infused chocolate bars (Lindt has a good one.) These cookies were reminiscent of the chocolate crinkles we always make at Christmas time, both in basic taste and appearance, minus the powdered sugar coating. They weren't as impressive as I had hoped, sort of lacking that wow factor. But, since I enjoy crinkles, I also enjoyed these and they did have a nice little kick in them, though because of that they weren't the kind of cookies I can eat dozens of at a time. The recipe makes a lot, so make sure you have someone to treat them to.

Also, liking my cookies to be more fudgy and flat rather than cake like and puffy, I substituted the shortening with butter, making it a total 2 1/2 sticks butter, rather than one. They turned out well this way and I'd say it was a successful switch, but that's just due to preference. I also omitted the black pepper.

Mayan Chocolate Cookies
Under the Highchair

makes 5 dozen

Topping:

½ cup granulated sugar 125 mL

1 tsp ground cinnamon 5 mL

Cookies:

¾ cup vegetable shortening 175 mL

½ cup unsalted butter, softened 125 mL

¾ cup granulated sugar 175 mL

¾ cup brown sugar, packed 175 mL

2 large eggs 2

1 tsp pure vanilla extract 5 mL

1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour 425 mL

1 ¼ cups cocoa powder 300 mL

1 tbsp ground cinnamon 15 mL

2 tsp baking soda 10 mL

¼ tsp salt 1 mL

¼ tsp ground black pepper 1 mL

1/8 tsp ground cayenne pepper 1

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips 250 mL

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Topping:
Combine sugar and cinnamon for topping.

Cookies:
Beat shortening, butter, sugars
and vanilla until creamy. Beat in eggs, one at a time.
Sift together flour, cocoa, cinnamon and baking soda. Stir in black pepper, salt, and cayenne pepper.
Gradually add dry ingredients to butter mixture, beating after each addition. Stir in chocolate chips.

Roll in 1” (2.5 cm) balls, don’t flatten. Roll into cinnamon and sugar topping. Place on prepared cookie sheets, about 2” (5 cm) apart.
Bake 7-10 minutes. Cookies should still be soft in center. Let cool on baking sheet for 3-5 minutes. Remove, cool on wire rack.

Sour Cream Banana Bread

  • I had such success with this recipe and baking experience. First off, parchment paper. Why have I never used this product before!? Cookies, cakes, brownies, bread- I am never going back. Nothing sticks, you take it off, throw it away and are left with a clean baking dish and beautifully presentable baked good. I am totally converted and suggest you all join. I attribute the fact that, for the first time ever, I was able to get banana bread that wasn't at all overcooked on the sides, to the parchment paper. This banana bread was perfect. So moist on the inside, had a great flavor where the banana was significantly present and though so tasty drenched in margarine, didn't need it in the slightest. I've made several banana bread recipes in the past that haven't been the one. I chose this one because it had such high ratings and I needed to use up some sour cream. Great choice and I think it will be my go to banana bread recipe from now on.

  • Sour Cream Banana Bread
  • recipezaar.com

  • 1/2 cup margarine or butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup mashed banana, I used 3 nice, dark ones
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts (omit if you don't like nuts)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream

Grease loaf pan or not if using parchment paper.

Cream margarine, sugar, eggs and vanilla.

Add dry ingredients, then bananas then nuts and sour cream.

Mix well.

Bake at 350 for 1 hour. (my oven required 10 extra minutes)

Del Taco's Secret Sauce Chicken Soft Tacos


I was in the mood for some Del Taco chicken soft tacos. Mmmm, Ghetto good. Alas, we do not have a Del Taco in Midland. Actually, I don't think they are in Texas at all. So I hopped online and googled up their secret sauce.

Del Taco Secret Sauce

1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon buttermilk or whole milk
1/2 teaspoon fresh lime juice

Mix together and there ya go. Next time I may do 1/8 cup sour cream and 1/8 cup mayo. Just because I'm having an aversion to the taste of mayonnaise lately. (no, not prego.)

Prepare chicken using a package of chicken taco seasoning, according to directions.

Fill flour tortillas with sauce, chicken, tomato, shredded lettuce and cheese.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Tortilla Soup

I love tortilla soup but every time I make it I find it lacking. For this reason I have never made it the same way twice, always trying to find my perfect recipe. Well, I think I've come close at last. This is an adaptation from Jen and Lauren's recipes with a chicken marinade I found that I think is what makes the soup.

Tortilla Soup

3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into cubes or strips

Chicken Marinade:

1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp lime juice
2 tsp Worcestershire
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tp pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can beef broth (14 1/4 oz)
1 tsp chili powder



In a medium bowl, mix all ingredients together. Add chicken and mix well to coat all pieces. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight.

Soup:

I garlic clove, minced
1 onion, chopped
1 Tbsp margarine
2 14 1/2 oz cans chopped or stewed tomatoes
2 14 1/2 oz cans chicken broth
1 cup salsa (we use Pace chunky, a 16oz jar will be about a cups worth)
1Tbsp ground cumin1 can black beans
2 tbs, seeded and chopped jalapeno (Lauren's recipe calls fr this but I never use it since I like my soup more mild)

In a crockpot melt margarine and add onions and garlic. Saute until onions are tender. Or saute them in a pan and pour them into the crockpot when tender. Combine all ingredients in crockpot and add all contents of marinade and chicken. Stir to mix. Cover and cook on low 8-10 hours or on high 4-6 hours.

Toppings:

tortilla chips
sour cream
shredded cheese
diced avocado
To serve put chips on bottom of bowl and ladle soup over top. Add cheese, a dollop of sour cream and avocado on top. Mmmmm.

Meatloaf


A great comfort meal. As far as traditional meatloaf recipes go this has been our favorite find so far. My sister Lindsey, also has a yummy version that she made for us while we were in Arizona. Different than other recipes I've seen in that it used honey and a liquid base to keep it moist. Hers was also pretty tasty and I plan on trying that one for myself next time to compare and see which we prefer. It may be that they are both equally good, since hers is a different take on the traditional. Anyway though, this a great go to meatloaf recipe that we all thoroughly enjoy. Jon especially loves it.

Meatloaf
Corpening Sisiters/Williams Sonoma

2 tsp vegetable oil
1 small onion, chopped
1/4 cup milk
1 cup breadcrumbs
3/4 cup ketchup
4 tsp Worcestershire
1 lb ground beef round
8 oz (1/2 b) ground breakfast sausage
1 egg beaten
1 1/4 tsp Mrs. Dash Seasoning mix
1/2 tsp garlic powder

Preheat oven to 350. Heat the oil in medium non stick skillet over med heat and saute the onion until tender, 5-7 minutes.

Combine the milk and breadcrumbs in a small bowl and set aside. Combine 1/4 cup ketchup and 2 tsp. Worcestershire in another small bowl and set aside.

In a large bowl combine onions, remaining 2 tsp Worcestershire, remaining 2/4 cup ketchup, egg, seasoning mix, garlic powder, breadcrumbs ground beef and sausage. Mix until well incorporated.

Mound the meatloaf mixture in a greased 9 x 5 x 3 loaf pan. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove from oven, pour off some of the fat and then spread ketchup mixture over top. Return to oven and bake until an instant read thermometer reads 160 F when inserted into the middle, or about 30 minutes more. Let stand for 15 minutes before serving.

I hate when meatloaf turns out dry, so feel free to adjust the cooking times by about 5-10 minutes according to your oven. My oven tends to cook faster so I decreased to 40 minutes and 25 minutes and it turned out perfect. I don't have a thermometer but I think it would be a great investment for things like this so that you don't have to play the guessing game. Also, I never fill my pan all the way up because I like to keep enough of the meat mixture leftover to freeze and use for stuffed bell peppers for a later meal.


Stuffed Bell Peppers

I use the meatloaf recipe for the filling here. If using the entire recipe you will need 4-6 peppers. I usually make a smaller meatloaf and then save about 2 cups worth of the raw meat mixture to make 4 pepper halves, or two whole peppers.

2 cups meatloaf mix
2 bell peppers, red or green
1 cup cooked white rice
1/8 cup ketchup combined with 1 tsp Worcestershire

Preheat oven to 350.

Mix rice into meat.

Cut peppers in half lengthwise. Remove the seeds and veins. Brush the insides of the pepper halves with olive oil and season with a little bit of salt. Arrange the peppers cut side up on a foil lined baking sheet and bake until softened, about 20 minutes.

Remove from the oven and fill with meat mixture, 1/2 cup into each half. Spread the ketchup mixture over tops and bake until an instant read thermometer inserted into the centers reads 160F, or about 45 minutes.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Chicken Gyros and Homemade Pita Bread


I love meals that complement the season and these were so fresh and cool that they were a perfect summer dinner. The chicken was so flavorful and delicious, I found myself sneaking pieces as I was constructing the gyros. The tzatziki sauce was a perfect compliment to the warm chicken and pitas. All of the flavors- fresh tomato, biting red onion, cool cucumber and bold chicken combined to make an ideal eating experience.

Now for the side notes: the tzatziki was even better the second day so I would make it a day ahead the next time and I added a little extra lemon to counter the bitterness of the vinegar. Even though when eaten with the gyro as a whole it was a great compliment, I may leave out the white wine vinegar altogether or at least half it due to the bitterness. I ended up marinating my chicken for about 5 hours and all I know was that it was really good. It only calls for an hour but I've always heard that when it comes to marinating, the longer the better. The pita dough was really easy to put together but the whole process was quite time consuming. Was it worth all of the effort to make them fresh? Hmmm. The pride I got out of having created them myself was pleasant, they were tasty and soft, and since I can't recall how they compare to store bought pitas it would just depend on my laziness level on the day. I'd probably be just as satisfied, but I think I'll make them fresh again some time- because I can.

Chicken Gyros
Annie's Eats

Tzatziki Sauce:

16 oz. plain yogurt(preferably nonfat, if possible or actual Greek yogurt)
1/2 hothouse cucumber or 1 regular cucumber, peeled and seeded
2-3 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 tsp. white wine vinegar
salt and pepper
squeeze of fresh lemon juice
extra virgin live oil

for the Chicken:

4 cloves garlic, smashed
juice of 1 lemon
2 tsp. red wine vinegar
2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
2 heaping Tbs. plain yogurt
1 Tbs. dried oregano
salt and pepper
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

pita bread
fresh tomatoes
red onion, sliced thin

To make tzatziki sauce, strain yogurt (if using Greek this step is not necessary) using cheesecloth placed inside a stainer over a bowl. Let strain for several hours or overnight if possible, to remove as much moisture as possible.

Shred the cucumber. Wrap in paper towels and squeeze to remove as much water as possible. Mix the trained yogurt, shredded cucumber, garlic, white wine vinegar, salt and pepper to taste and squeeze of lemon juice. Drizzle lightly with olive oil. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving to allow flavors to meld.

To prepare chicken, combine the garlic, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, olive oil, yogurt, oregano, and salt and pepper to taste in a medium bowl. Whisk together until well blended. Add the chicken to the bow and mix well to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour.

Cook chicken as desired, in the skillet, with broiler or grill. Once the chicken is completely cooked through transfer to plate and let rest for 5 minutes. Cut into strips.

Heat pitas and fill with chicken, tzatziki sauce, tomato and onion. Serve immediately. Mmmm.