Caesar Salad

28 Jul

It’s been a salad-for-dinner type week at my house! My AC went out, so there was no cooking allowed. Plus, on holidays that allow fireworks, people in my neighborhood go crazy! We are total cheapskates and don’t ever bother purchasing our own. There really is no point! We just set up our lawn chairs and rotate as necessary – there are fireworks going off everywhere! My three year old is the most excited about the fact that she is not afraid of fireworks this year. People probably think she’s terrified because she runs around screaming like crazy. But she’s just so darn happy to enjoy them. 🙂

Fireworks are awesome (especially since aerials are legal now!), but they make for some late nights for little people ’round my house. But how do you say no? Especially since the booms would keep them up anyways? Plus we hit the water park, went horseback riding, ran a marathon…ok…just kidding. But we are worn out! And sometimes get distracted until everyone is way too hungry to wait for dinner to take forever to make. Anyone else run into this issue during the summer? Too much of too many good things…at least you can’t get too much of this too good salad. Whip it up, and enjoy it sitting in your lawn chair while you watch other people’s pyrotechnic displays.

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Ingredients:

1/3 cup mayonnaise

1 1/2 Tbsp Dijon mustard

3-4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped

3 Tbsp lemon juice

1/2 Tbsp white wine vinegar

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

1 cup olive oil

2-3 Tbsp milk (if needed)

8 oz chicken breast

1-2 heads romaine lettuce (about 12 cups chopped)

1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Dressing:

Combine mayonnaise, mustard, garlic, lemon juice, vinegar, salt, and pepper in a blender and process until smooth. With blender running on low speed, slowly pour olive oil in a steady stream just until fully incorporated. Only if needed, add milk by the tablespoon until desired consistency is reached. Place 1/2 cup dressing in a zip lock bag with chicken and marinate at least 30 minutes or as long as overnight. Place remaining dressing in refrigerator to chill.

Salad:

Remove chicken from marinade and grill until cooked through. Wash lettuce and chop into bite-sized pieces. Toss with Parmesan cheese and prepared chicken (can add croutons). Toss with dressing, to taste.

 

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Honey Mustard Irish Chicken

25 Jul

We celebrated Pioneer Day today. It started out a little rocky – our AC went out yesterday. Not very convenient timing, considering we are in the hottest months of summer, and I’m not one who emulates the long-suffering of those celebrated Pioneers…when I’m hot, I’m cranky. So, instead of waiting, we called the 24 hour guys and paid a little extra for the inconvenience. Huzzah.

We closed the doors on our house as the repaired AC worked over time to cool things off, and set up some lawn chairs to enjoy the fireworks being set off in our neighborhood. The night cooled off nicely, and my irritation of the day began to fade. And then, I heard my little five year old. “Oh…aren’t they beautiful?” I almost cried…isn’t that silly? But it wasn’t, “Wow, cool.” or “Awesome!” That specific word, “beautiful,” just got to me. I had been missing most of the beauty in my day because I was so focused on being grumpy. And then, to push my blubbering over the edge, my three year old looked into the sky and sighed. “Mom! A star. I love this night.” Big, colorful explosions or a small, single star – kids find beauty. This is why God makes us parents – so we don’t forget to look around every now and again, regardless if we’re hot. 🙂

Because I have AC again, I can actually use my stove without worrying about creating a heat wave. I love when you can make dinner in a single pan! That is beautiful to me.

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Ingredients
1/4 cup honey
1 tablespoon coarse-ground mustard
1/2 tablespoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons butter, divided
1 lb chicken breasts
1 pound (about 8) small red potatoes, quartered
3 carrots, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch chunks
1 onion, cut into 1-inch wedges
Combine honey, mustard, salt and pepper in small bowl; set aside. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook for about 4 minutes on each side until the chicken is lightly browned. Transfer chicken to a plate. Melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter in the same skillet. Add vegetables; cook, stirring occasionally for 6 to 8 minutes, or until lightly browned. Place chicken breasts on top of the vegetables. Pour the honey mixture over the chicken and vegetables. Cover; reduce heat to low and cook, stirring the vegetables once, for about 10 to 12 minutes, or until vegetables are tender and chicken is thoroughly cooked.

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Mango Sticky Rice

21 Jul

I love mango sticky rice. Let me rephrase that…I LOVE MANGO STICKY RICE!!!

I’ve got 2 versions of this scrumptious dessert (I use the term ‘dessert’ very loosely, because I eat it for every meal until its gone). One is a little more complex and takes a few extra ingredients – but it’s totally worth it. However, there are days where I just don’t have half of that stuff 🙂 so I have the cheater version too. But the cheater version is almost just as good! Only the teeniest, tiniest of difference (which means that I make the cheater version more often :)). If mangoes are out of season, you can substitute with bananas and/or pineapples.

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Ingredients:

1 cup Jasmine or Glutenous Rice (found in Asian aisle in the grocery store)

1 3/4 cup water

1 ripe mango

1 Tbsp brown sugar

1 can coconut milk

1/4 + pinch of salt

1/4 cup granulated sugar

2 tsp coconut flavoring

1 tsp vanilla

2 tsp cornstarch dissolved in 2 Tbsp water

Soak the sweet rice in 1 cup of water for 20 minutes, up to 1 hour. When done soaking, add 3/4 cup more water, plus 1/4 can coconut milk, 1/4 tsp salt, 1 tsp coconut flavoring, and 1 Tbsp brown sugar. Stir this into the rice. Cook in rice cooker or over stove top.

Sauce:

Warm the rest of the can of coconut milk together with 1/4 cup sugar, pinch of salt, 1 tsp coconut flavoring, and 1 tsp vanilla over medium heat. Add cornstarch mixture (dissolved in water) to the sauce and stir to thicken slightly. As it thickens, turn heat down to low. Remove from heat when thickened. Pour sauce over cooked rice and mix completely. Allow to sit for a few minutes to let the rice absorb the sauce. Serve immediately with sliced mangos.

Quick Version:

1 cup uncooked Jasmine or Glutenous Rice (found in Asian aisle in the grocery store)

1 can coconut milk

2/3 cup sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1 ripe mango

Cook rice as directed on bag/box (can cook on stove top or in a rice maker). Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine coconut milk, sugar, and salt. Boil for 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat. Add the hot coconut milk sauce to the cooked rice. Stir until mixed. Slice mangos and top rice. Serve immediately.

 

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Corn Dogs

17 Jul

I think I’ve discovered a new species of fly. I call it: the Hydra-House Fly. I swear, for every fly I swat, three more take its place. Where are they coming from?!!!!

Flies are, unfortunately, a part of summer. Especially in my house, where it is (apparently) physically impossible to close the door behind you. That’s the bad part of summer. The good part? Sunshine, swimming, picnics…corn dogs. This recipe comes from my Grandma. The batter makes for a lighter corn bread that is airy and crispy and all around uber-tasty.

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Ingredients:

2 – 1 lb pkgs hot dogs

20 skewers

1 cup flour

3/4 cup cornmeal

2 Tbsp sugar

1 Tbsp dry mustard

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

2 Tbsp shortening

1 cup milk

1 beaten egg

Mix dry ingredients. Cut in shortening. Add milk and ddd. Stir to remove lumps. Skewer hot dogs and dip into batter. *Tip* Fill a drinking glass with the batter and dip the hot dogs down into the cup for better coverage. The batter will also adhere best if hot dogs are completely dry.

Fry in oil until golden brown – about 2 minutes.

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Eskimo Bars

12 Jul

I had my doubts about these. Homemade magic shell layer? How well can that turn out…really? Turns out, pretty darn great! I opted to go for the no-dip version, because dipping them was a little tricky and a lota messy (I lack a certain coordination apparently – that and my chocolate must have been a little on the warm side because it was melting my ice cream right off the brownie).  So, I drizzled instead. I poured a layer of caramel sauce (I used a jar of caramel ice cream topping) between the brownie and the ice cream layer instead of dipping it as well. This was both good and bad. I liked having everything together without having to worry about double dipping every time I wanted my caramel fix. However, it made the ice cream a little slippery and my layers didn’t want to stay stuck together. I plan on remedying this eventually (I’ll keep you posted if it works…or you try it and let me know ;)). I’m guessing that if I use my thicker homemade caramel instead of the store bought kind, then I think it will serve as a more effective glue between the ice cream and brownies.  Darn. I hate having to remake recipes over and over again until I get them right. Especially when they involve brownies and ice cream and caramel. It’s just torture. But, someone has to do it…and eat it…every time. Darn. 🙂

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INGREDIENTS

 

Brownie Layer:
    • 10 tablespoons butter
    • 1 1/4 cups sugar
    • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-process)
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    • 2 large eggs
    • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
Ice Cream Layer:
    • 1 quart good-quality vanilla ice cream (storebought or homemade)
Magic Shell Layer:
    • 3/4 cup coconut oil
    • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
Caramel Sauce:
  • 1-2 cups good-quality storebought or homemade caramel sauce

 

DIRECTIONS

 

  1. For the brownies, position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F. Line the bottom and sides of an 8×8-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides. Lightly grease with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. Combine the butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a medium microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for one minute intervals, stirring in between, until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth. Set the mixture aside until it cools slightly (is warm to the touch not hot). It will look gritty but it will become smooth once the other ingredients are added. Stir in the vanilla with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously after each one. When the batter looks thick, shiny, and well blended, add the flour and stir until you cannot see it any longer, then beat vigorously for 40 strokes with the wooden spoon or a rubber spatula. Spread evenly in the lined pan.
  3. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center emerges slightly moist with batter, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool completely on a rack and then chill in the refrigerator or freezer until thoroughly cold – this will help the brownies hold up well to the ice cream layer that’s coming.
  4. For the ice cream layer, soften the ice cream to spreading consistency (leaving at room temperature for 15-20 minutes should do the trick), then spread an even layer across the chilled brownies. The ice cream layer should be about an inch thick. Put the pan in the freezer until very firm (1-2 hours).
  5. For the magic shell, in a microwave-safe bowl, combine the coconut oil and chocolate chips. It helps if the bowl is more tall than wide so that when you dip the bars, the chocolate mixture is deep and not super shallow. Microwave for one minute intervals at 50% power until the chocolate is melted. Stir the mixture until it is smooth. It will be fairly runny.
  6. Remove the pan of brownies from the freezer. Gently lift the foil handles and remove the ice cream layered brownies from the pan. Cut the browines in half. Then, working with one half at a time (you might want to return the other half to the freezer if your kitchen is overly warm), cut rectangle into long, thin bars, about 1-inch by 4-inches. You should end up with 8 or so bars per half. Repeat with the remaining half. It is best to put all the cut bars onto a tray or plate and keep them in the refrigerator while dipping so they stay as cold as possible.
  7. Place a baking rack over a sheet of parchment paper or waxed paper or even aluminum foil (to help with cleanup). Working one-by-one, gently hold the ice cream bar at the base of the brownie and dip it quickly into the chocolate shell mixture (tilt the bowl to help deepen the chocolate for easier dipping) until completely coated and place on the baking rack. Your hands will get messy but I promise it’s worth it! Repeat the dipping process with each bar. After I dipped about 5-7 bars and the chocolate shell had hardened (it sets up very quickly, especially if your ice cream and brownie is very cold), I gently removed them from the cooling rack and put them in the freezer so the ice cream didn’t melt and kept dipping the other bars that were waiting in the freezer.
  8. Make note that the chocolate shell mixture will want to stick to the baking rack so pry the eskimo bars carefully off the baking rack so the chocolate shell doesn’t crack as you separate them from where the chocolate has hardened to the rack.
  9. When ready to serve, remove the eskimo bars from the freezer and let them sit at room temperature for 5-7 minutes. Warm the caramel sauce until it is runny and slightly warm but not overly hot (you don’t want any burned fingers).
  10. Dip the eskimo bars in the caramel and enjoy!

 

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Original recipe: http://www.melskitchencafe.com/outrageous-eskimo-bars/

 

 

 

 

Sour Cream Chocolate Cake

10 Jul

The little man of our house turned one last month. Most of the time, I try to pick cakes that have white frosting so that I can color it for decorating. I finally got to do a chocolate cake! I had almost as much fun eating it as I did decorating it…almost.

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Ingredients:

Cake:

1 pkg chocolate cake mix with pudding

1 cup sour cream

3/4 cup water

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 tsp vanilla

3 large eggs

Grease and dust two 9″ round cake pans. *Tip* Dust with cake mix instead of flour – you don’t get stuck with the white residue on the edges of your cake. Set pans aside.

Combine cake mix, sour cream, water, oil, vanilla, and eggs in a large mixing bowl and beat until all ingredients are incorporated. Divide the cake batter evenly between the 2 prepared cake pans. Place pans in the oven, side by side, and bake at 350^F for 28-32 minutes, until they spring back when lightly pressed with a finger. Let cool for 5 minutes, then remove cakes from the pans and allow to cool completely before frosting.

Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients:

8 Tbsp butter, at room temperature

4 oz cream cheese, at room temperature

1/3 cup cocoa powder

3 cups powdered sugar

2 tsp vanilla

Beat together butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add cocoa powder and powdered sugar, a bit at a time, beating until well incorporated. Add vanilla and beat until frosting is fluffy.

 

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Cafe Rio Pork

8 Jul

I took a nap today. I was so tired, that I started nodding off even while holding a wiggling, screaming one year old. He didn’t think we needed a nap – I knew we needed a nap. Luckily, he finally gave in. What I didn’t realize was that my three year old also needed a nap. I put her in timeout for being a stinker, and honestly kind of forgot I put her there (she was actually on the couch right next to me, but being in time out and not being happy about it, she buried herself under pillows). When I woke up after my little siesta, I heard her snoring. I even got to sit awhile longer and just enjoy watching my babies sleep. How could this dreamy afternoon happen, you ask? Where were the other two kids? I’ll tell you…it’s a magical place called “Grandma’s House.” Thanks for keeping my kids entertained today, Mom! I really needed a nap. 🙂

I have to thank my mom for this yummy recipe too! Another great thing about Grandma’s House, is she feeds you. And it always tastes good. If you have never been to Cafe Rio, you’re missing out. But, lucky for you, you can now have it in your own home (or at Grandma’s, if you are really lucky)! And it’s almost as easy as take out. Serve it as a sandwich or over salad (I’ll have to post the crazy-good cilantro dressing you should top it with too!…give me a few weeks, my tomatillos haven’t finished growing yet).

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Ingredients:

2 1/2 lbs pork (any cut)

salt, pepper, and garlic salt to taste

1 15 oz can mild green enchilada sauce

1 cup brown sugar

Add salt, pepper, and garlic salt to pork to taste. Cook in crock pot on high for 4 hours, or low for 8 hours, until meat is well done and easily shredded. Drain. Shred meat. Mix together enchilada sauce and brown sugar and pour over meat. Cook until heated through.

 

 

 

Apple Crisp

6 Jul

I am so behind on posting, these days. I’m in a production of Les Miserables this summer, so I’m not cooking new things as frequently (it’s a good thing my kids never get sick of mac and cheese), and when I do, I let them sit forever in my draft box because I can’t manage to upload the picture and write down the recipe in one sitting. So today I’m playing catch up! Hopefully I’ll get to the point that I can post more than one recipe a month. 🙂

This Apple Crisp is another one from my ‘there’s no way you can mess this up’ recipe collection. I like it because there is a single serving version, as well as a feed-the-crowd version.

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Apple Crisp For One:

Filling

1 medium cooking apple

2-3 drops lemon juice

1 Tbsp sugar

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

Crumb Topping

2 Tbsp flour

2 Tbsp rolled oats

2 Tbsp brown sugar

dash of cinnamon

1 Tbsp softened butter

Peel and core apple and cut into 1/4″ slices. Place in 4″ round casserole dish. Sprinkle with lemon juice. Combine sugar and cinnamon in small bowl. Add to apples and toss to coat. Combine dry ingredients for crumb topping. Cut in butter with a fork until the mixture is crumbly.

Method 1:

Cover prepared filling (no topping) loosely with plastic wrap and microwave on high for 2 minutes. Stir gently, then sprinkle with crumb topping mixture and bake, uncovered, at 375^F for 15-20 minutes.

Method 2:

Sprinkle crumb topping over apple/cinnamon sugar mixture and bake at 375^F for 30-40 minutes.

Apple Crisp for 6-8

Follow directions above for filling, using 6 medium cooking apples, 1 Tbsp lemon juice, 1/4 cup sugar, and 1 tsp cinnamon. Make the crumb topping as directed using 3/4 cup flour, 1 cup rolled oats, 1 cup brown sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon, and 1/2 cup softened butter.

Sprinkle topping over filling and bake at 375^F for 40-45 minutes until apples are tender.

Serve with ice cream.

 

Root Beer Float Cookies

16 Jun

I am ignoring my laundry…for another 5 minutes. If I ignore it much longer, it will most likely explode all over the house.

These cookies are pretty darn awesome. They aren’t crazy-full of root beer flavor, but have that creamy taste of a float. Perfect for a summer treat.

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INGREDIENTS

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Cream butter and sugars together.
  2. Beat in instant vanilla pudding mix well.
  3. Add eggs and root beer concentrate and beat until well incorporated.
  4. Add flour and baking soda and beat until well incorporated.
  5. Stir in white chocolate chips.
  6. Roll into 1″ balls and place on greased cookie sheet.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees F for 8-10 minutes.

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Original recipe: http://www.chef-in-training.com/2012/11/root-beer-pudding-cookies/

 

Empanadas de Jamon y Queso (Ham & Cheese Empanadas)

10 Jun

 

My daughter’s class at school got to earn ‘trips’ this year. They went to Florida, Italy, and…a few other places that now I can’t remember, and she’s gone to bed so I can’t ask! The point being: My husband took the class on a ‘trip’ to Peru. He served a mission there for the LDS church for two years, so he got to show off some of his souvenirs, share pictures, teach a little Spanish, and treat the kids to some of the things Peruvians eat. We joked about having him bring one of our pet guinea pigs in and offer to cook him up for the class. 🙂 We thought we were pretty funny,. But kids never really laugh when they find out that that is as common as chicken down there. The usual reaction is horror – we decided to keep the guinea pigs home.

So, if you are in the mood for some authentic Peruvian and don’t have a large, hairy rodent handy or have children that may frown upon you poaching their pets, whip up one of these pretty darn awesome empanadas. I think the smoked gouda is what really takes these a few giant leaps up from a hot pocket – that, and the fact that they are homemade and not stuffed full of preservatives. They are a little cheater because you use puff pastry dough instead of making your own, but if you don’t tell, I won’t.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 package frozen puff pastry dough
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup grated cheese (smoked gouda, edam, or similar)
  • 4 tablespoons grated parmesan
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/4 pound deli ham
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon water

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Melt butter in saucepan on medium-low heat. Whisk flour into butter, and increase heat to medium. Cook, stirring, for 1-2 minutes. Whisk milk into flour/butter mixture and bring to boil, stirring. Sauce will thicken slightly. Whisk 2 eggs into mixture and cook, stirring, for 1 -2 minutes more or until sauce has thickened. Add grated cheese and parmesan and stir until melted. Remove from heat and add cayenne pepper and salt to taste. Roll out 1 sheet of puff pastry dough on a floured surface to 12 inches square. With a pizza cutter or sharp knife, cut dough into 12 3 x 4 inch rectangles. Mix egg yolk with water, and brush the edges of half of the rectangles with the egg yolk mixture. Place a piece of ham in the center of the rectangles brushed with egg yolk. There should be an edge of dough all around the ham. Top ham with 2 tablespoons of the cheese mixture. Cover the ham and cheese with one of the plain rectangles, and firmly press down around the edges to seal. Repeat with other sheet of puff pastry. Pastries may be frozen at this point, or kept in the refrigerator for up to 6 hours before baking. Prick the top of the empanadas several times with a fork, and brush tops lightly with the egg yolk mixture. Bake 20 minutes, or until puffed and golden brown. Serve hot.

 

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Original recipe: http://southamericanfood.about.com/od/snacksstreetfood/r/empanadascheese.htm