Thursday, September 23, 2010

Recipe - Indonesian Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce

This recipe was actually discovered by my mother-in-law and she made it for a big family gathering for the Fourth of July.  Everyone loved it and Travis insisted that I try to look up or figure out the recipe.  I found the version I use on but since I never have plain tomato sauce on hand, I use tomato paste in mine.  It doesn't quite have the same taste as Laura's did that night, but is still delicious.  I usually serve it with a side of fried rice.  Also, instead of cubing my chicken breast, I sliced it thin into satay-style strips.

Indonesian Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce

3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon peanut oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 pinch ground black pepper
1 pinch ground cumin
6 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - cubed
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/4 cup minced onion
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
1 cup water
1/2 cup chunky peanut butter
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 - In a bowl, mix soy sauce, tomato sauce, peanut oil, garlic, black pepper, and cumin. Place chicken into the mixture, and stir to coat. Cover, and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes, but not overnight. This will make the meat too dark.
2 - Preheat the grill for high heat.
3 - Heat vegetable oil in a saucepan over medium heat, and saute onion and garlic until lightly browned. Mix in water, peanut butter, soy sauce, and sugar. Cook and stir until well blended. Remove from heat, mix in lemon juice, and set aside.
4 - Lightly oil the grill grate. Thread chicken onto skewers, and discard marinade. Grill skewers about 5 minutes per side, until chicken juices run clear. Serve with the peanut sauce.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Recipe - White Veggie Lasagna

Travis was skeptical of this dish when he heard the name but was quickly won over when he saw the finished product.  Very tasty and lots of great leftovers.  Of course, since it's lasagna it reheats very well.  If you absolutely NEED to have some meat, I recommend using ground turkey with the veggies or some kind of chicken or turkey sausage.

White Veggie Lasagna

1 white onion
1 large carrot
1 large zucchini
2 yellow squash
2 Tbsp minced garlic
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 pkg Lasagna noodles
1 15 oz. pkg of ricotta cheese
1 Tbsp oregano
1 egg
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 jar Alfredo pasta sauce, or your favorite homemade white sauce

1 - Cook lasagna noodles according to package instructions (reserve 1 cup of pasta water for sauce), preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2 - Grate or thinly slice your veggies.  In a large straight sided saute pan, cook the veggies and garlic over medium low heat with generous salt and pepper until the veggies loose most of their water.  Drain the excess water and add the Alfredo sauce.  Thin the sauce with pasta water or with milk, depending on your preference.  You want the sauce to be slightly thinner than you expect it to be after baking.

3 - Mix the ricotta, parmesan, 2 cups of mozzarella, egg, and oregano in a bowl.  Add some salt and pepper to taste.

4 - Assemble your lasagna: in a 9 x 13 rectangular pan, start with a very small amount of sauce so that the bottom noodles do not stick.  Layer the noodles, then half of the ricotta mix, and top with sauce.  Another layer of noodles, the rest of the ricotta, sauce.  For the very top, lay the noodles, the rest of the sauce, and the last cup of mozzarella.

5 - Bake the lasagna in the oven for 45-60 minutes, enough so the ricotta mix sets and the cheese on top is browned, but not burnt.  Let sit for 5 minutes then serve.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Recipe - Beef Roulade and Potato Gnocchi

I made this for dinner tonight for our friends Mindy and Aaron - they come over once a week for dinner and some great television - and it was a huge hit.  So huge, in fact, that I was told to share the recipe with all of you!  I thought for sure there would be some kind of leftovers but we ate every last gnocchi and every single brussels sprout.  Every plate was practically licked clean.  I wouldn't necessarily call it a "simple" meal, but beginners should not feel too daunted by a more complex recipe.  However, this may not be a good week night meal for most families, maybe a better Sunday meal when you'll have more time to cook.  I would definitely all it a "WOW!" meal though, great for entertaining guests.  Also, older kids will love to help you shape the gnocchi!  Sorry the picture is kind of small, my camera died so we used Travis's iPhone.  I'll try to get another close up picture the next time I make this.

Beef Roulade

1 Large steak - I used sirloin but any cut would work except fillet because it is too tender
1/4 cup Alouette Garlic and Herb Cheese Spread
a handful of chopped frozen spinach, thawed
3 Tbsp Blue Cheese - I used gorgonzola
Cooking twine or toothpicks
1 Tbsp Olive Oil, or just enough to cover the bottom of your pan

1 - Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  Pound out your steak with a meat mallet until it is a rectangular shape, about 1/4-1/2 inch thick.  The easiest and safest way to do this is to fold large pieces of plastic wrap in half (to make them stick only to themselves, you may need two pieces for each side) and sandwich the meat between them.  This way your mallet stays clean and you won't have bits of raw steak or meat all over your kitchen counters.  Work your way from the center out for the best results.  Season your steak on both sides with salt and pepper.

2 - Spread the Alouette on the steak in an even layer, leaving about 1 inch dry on one of the long sides.  Top with an even layer of spinach and then sprinkle with the blue cheese.  Using the plastic wrap to help you start, tightly roll the steak starting from the non-dry edge until it is a complete log.

3 - Tie the twine around the steak so that it stays rolled up as you cook it.  If you do not have twine, you can use strategically placed toothpicks as pins.  Just remember to pull them all out before slicing!

4 - Sear the outside of the roulade in olive oil over medium heat (reserve this pan to make the sauce, if you choose).  Place on a sheet pan and put into the oven for 5-15 minutes, depending on your desired done-ness.  I put ours in for about 7 minutes for a beautiful medium-rare, leaning towards rare.  Remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes.

5 - Slice the roulade into 3/4-1 inch slices on a diagonal for the best presentation.  Serve with sauce.

Very Easy Mustard Sauce (not pictured)

1 cup Chicken Stock
2-3 Tbsp Whole Grain Mustard
1 Tbsp butter, cut into small pieces 

1 - Pour off any excess olive oil and deglaze the hot pan you've just seared your protein in by adding the chicken stock all at once.  Allow to boil and then scrape the bottom of the pan for all of the delicious drippings.

2 - Whisk in the whole grain mustard and reduce until barely thicker than you want your end sauce to be.  Keep in mind that your sauce will become thicker as it cools.

3 - Remove the pan from the heat and add the butter pieces.  Stir until the butter has melted into the sauce and then keep off of the heat.  If you put it back on the burner after this step, the sauce will "break" and the butter will become separate from the rest of the sauce.  Taste and season with salt and pepper if necessary.

Potato Gnocchi

2 small potatoes, peeled and cubed
about 1 cup all purpose flour, and some extra for dusting work surfaces
a handful of parmesan cheese
salt and pepper

1 - Boil the potatoes until completely cooked through.  Quickly rice the potatoes using either a food mill or a mesh strainer and a spoon.  While the potatoes are still hot, add most of the flour, salt, pepper, and cheese.  Begin to mix together, the potatoes should start to come together into a soft but not sticky dough.  Add more flour as necessary and knead on a floured work surface.

2 - Cut the dough into quarters and roll out into a long roll, 3/4 inch in diameter.  Cut the roll into bite-sized pieces (about 1/2-3/4 inch) and shape the gnocchi by pressing and rolling off of the back of a fork.  They should have a small dimple in the back and ridges across the front.  Place the gnocchi on a floured sheet pan.  If you are making these ahead of time, you can refrigerate them at this point for a day or freeze them for up to a week.  Just allow the gnocchi to come up to room temperature before cooking to ensure proper texture.

3 - Briefly boil the gnocchi in a large pot of salted water - as you would for pasta - until they begin to float.  Be careful not to overcook the gnocchi because they will turn into a big pot of potato mush.  You can finish these in any kind of sauce imaginable, I tossed them into a pan with butter until they got a little crispy on the outside, then topped them with more parmesan cheese.  They're also great in soup as dumplings.

Recipe - Banana Bread

I shared this recipe last night with my Moms of Multiples group but thought I'd post it here as well.  This is one of my all time favorite things to make, and the whole family's favorite thing to eat.  I often double the recipe and make one loaf and twelve muffins (and sometimes there's even enough for a couple of mini muffins) and I've adapted it for cupcakes at times also.  I swear, I could probably just eat banana bread all day long every day and be perfectly happy.  And beyond being delicious, this is also the easiest recipe I know.  It can be whipped together in no time and it's gone without a trace almost as fast! 

Chef Momma's Famous Banana Bread 

3 to 4 ripe bananas (the riper the better!)
1/4 cup melted butter 
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp cinnamon  
1/2 Tbsp nutmeg 
1/2 Tbsp ground clove
1 1/2 cups Chocolate chips or walnuts (optional) 

1 - Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, grease a loaf pan or line a muffin tin.

2 - Mash the bananas in a large mixing bowl with the sugar.  Add all other ingredients except chocolate chips or walnuts, if using, and mix until combined.  Don't over-mix your batter or you'll have tunneling (long holes) in your end product.

3 - If using, fold in half of the chocolate chips or walnuts.  Pour into the pan and top with remaining chips or nuts.

4 - Bake for 55-60 minutes for loaf or 18-22 minutes for muffins, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Slice and serve!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Two Firsts!

We are celebrating two firsts in our house tomorrow - Travis's first day of student teaching and my first attempt at a bento box lunch!  Yay!

Eventually, I hope for these lunches to be waste-free but this first bento does not fall into that category.  I have not really had a chance to build up my supplies so I used a paper cupcake liner, packed a string cheese, and Travis bought a big tub of lychee jellies from the Asian market yesterday.  As I become more proficient at packing bentos, I hope that it becomes easier to make them waste-free.  I could go into a long post about why I care about making lunches less wasteful and more healthful but that is a spiel for another day.  Also, all of the Travis bentos will be practice for the many many Eli and Jude bentos to come when they start school at some point.  They'll be the coolest kids with the dorkiest lunches but it's only because I love them.

In this bento box, I have given Travis a peanut butter and blood orange-cranberry jelly sandwich, one string cheese, two clementine oranges, some bugles, two brownie bites, and a lychee jelly treat.  Not too shabby for my first one, if I do say so myself.  No veggies, but I'll make sure to stick extra in tomorrow's lunch.  : )

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Coke Float Cupcakes

The feedback I got from Travis's friends was that the cupcake itself was not sweet enough and the frosting was too sweet.  I really like them, and so did the book club.  Feel free to tweak as necessary.  If I made them again though, I'd probably go a little heavier on the mini marshmallows because I think I was a little too stingy with them in this batch.  Coca-cola cake recipe courtesy of the Coca-Cola Company's website, adapted for cupcakes.  It made about 20 standard cupcakes but would probably also be nice as mini-cupcakes (decrease cooking time).  The icing is not the recommended one from the Coca-Cola website, but a variation of my own American Buttercream.  This recipe might also be tasty with root beer.

2 cups sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups small marshmallows
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 tablespoons cocoa
1 cup Coca-Cola®
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, sift sugar and flour. Add marsh- mallows. In saucepan, mix butter, oil, cocoa, and Coca-Cola. Bring to a boil and pour over dry ingredients; blend well. Dissolve baking soda in buttermilk just before adding to batter along with eggs and vanilla extract, mixing well. Pour into a lined muffin tin and bake 18-22 minutes.  Remove from pan and let cool completely before frosting.


1 cup (2 sticks) of unsalted butter, room temperature
About 16 oz powdered sugar (use your best judgment based on local humidity and stiffness of icing)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1-3 Tbsp Coca-Cola®
brown food coloring (optional)

 Beat butter in large mixing bowl until slightly fluffy and a light yellow color.  Slowly add in the powdered sugar until the icing is a little thicker than you'd like the final product to be.  Add the vanilla extract and soda until the icing is the proper thickness.  Continue beating for 3 minutes until the icing is a fluffy, smooth consistency.  If using, gently mix in a couple of drops of brown food coloring to make the icing the color of soda foam.  Pipe or spread onto cupcakes.  Depending on how much soda you use and how long you beat it, you may have a little extra icing or be a little short.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Recipe - Hearty Chili

**This is one of my favorite bulk meals to make because Chili is so versatile.  I doubled the recipe and froze half of the leftovers to use on busy nights earlier this week.  The first night I made it, we had Chili Dogs but it's also great for a veggie-rich version of Chili-Mac or just plain with a big slice of garlic bread for dipping.  This is not a Texas Chili because I love beans, but you could leave out the beans and add chicken or beef stock for more body.  It may need to reduce a little more though, without the starchy liquid from the beans.  Also great with squash and zucchini for an extra boost of veggies!**

2 slices thick cut bacon
2 medium white onions, diced
2 small (or 1 large) bell peppers, any color, diced
1 heaping Tbsp minced garlic
1 lb ground beef or turkey
1 lg can whole tomatoes (you can replace this with a can of diced tomatoes, but I really like the large bites of tomato goodness)
2 lg cans diced tomatoes
1 can pinto beans
1 can kidney beans
1 pkg. chili spice mix (or make your own with chili powder, paprika, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper, black pepper, and salt)

1 - Slice your bacon into 1/2 inch slices and put into the cold chili pot.  Render the fat over medium-low heat until the bacon pieces are crispy and you have a good amount of fat in the pan.  Remove the bacon, turn the heat up to medium.

2 - Add the onions, bell peppers, and garlic to the bacon fat and cook with a sprinkle of salt until onions are soft and almost translucent.  Add ground beef or turkey and brown.  Drain all excess fat.

3 - Add all of the canned tomatoes and beans to the pot.  Do not drain the liquid from the cans, the tomato liquid will be the base of the chili and the bean liquid will thicken it up.  Use a wooden spoon to puncture the whole tomatoes (if using) and stir.  Return bacon pieces to the chili (cut into smaller pieces before hand, if desired) and add chili spices.  If the chili looks too dry, add some water or stock for flavor.

4 - Bring chili to a boil for 5-10 minutes (or until it reaches a loose soup consistency) and simmer for at least an hour for the flavors to meld, stirring occasionally.  If the chili becomes too thick, add some water or stock.  If the chili is too wet, boil for a few more minutes.  Skim any excess fat.

5 - Taste the finished product and add salt if necessary.  Serve hot.  Leftovers can be refrigerated or frozen and reheat very well.