Sunday, July 31, 2011

How to roast a garlic bulb

This last couple of weeks I had been busy trying to lose a few pounds and eat healthier, then I went on a little vacation to visit my daughter and I had a great time. When I got back I felt quite down at work and not myself. I thought maybe it was because I missed my daughter, plus my day off in the middle of the week went away due to business picking up a little, which is a good thing, I thought that was the reason I was a little down. Then I realized it was because I wasn't cooking much!! It really was! I got out my recipes I'd been wanting to try this weekend and have been a cooking fool, and I seem to have the old me back. I guess I"m going to have to let myself eat what I like, but keep portions down and exercise. After all you only have this one life, and why not do what makes you happy, but just use self control. So this weekend I made a lovely chicken alfredo (don't worry, I will post my re-vamped recipe for that here when I get a chance) I decided to roast a garlic bulb and mash it into a paste, I heard that Olive Garden uses a garlic paste instead of just minced garlic so that it was I tried and it turned out yummo! I've roasted a whole bulb of garlic before for garlic mashed potatoes, and its way better than just using minced garlic, although there is nothing wrong with minced garlic, but roasted garlic just has a bit sweeter taste and not as pungent! But I thought some of you may not know how to roast a garlic bulb, so I thought I would put this little video on here to show you just how to do it. I also have a few new recipes to share eventually, that were fun and yummy, I hope you enjoy them all! :o)

Friday, July 29, 2011

Jambalasta or Pastalaya

I LOVE Jambalaya or anything like it, this was kind of like Jambalaya only you use pasta instead of rice so hence the name... and I LOVE Cajun seasoning. You know when you go to Disneyland and they have that place to eat by the Pirates of the Carribean ride, it serves Gumbo, and the air smells soooo good while you are waiting in line and makes you hungry for Cajun food. Well, that's what I was trying to create, that smell. I know, it seems weird to try to create a smell, but I ran across this recipe and thought I would give it a shot. I found the original recipe on but I added a few things of my own, and added more seasonings too. This was yummo!! And if you didn't want to use pasta, it would be delicious spooned over hot cooked rice as well. Enjoy!!

Jambalasta or Pastalaya

1 box linguine pasta
2-3  tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1/2 green pepper, diced
1 heaping teaspoon minced garlic
2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into strips
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 tablespoon Cajun seasoning (I use Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning)
1 tablespoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt (Tony Chachere's has lots of salt so start with about this much and adjust to taste)
1/2 teaspoon Cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried mustard
1-2 tablespoons Louisiana-style hot sauce
2-3 tablespoons flour
1 pound kielbasa, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
4 or 5 leaves fresh basil, or about teaspoon dried basil
Parmesan cheese for garnish
1.Fill a large pot with lightly salted water and bring to a rolling boil over high heat. Once the water is boiling, stir in the linguine, and return to a boil. Cook the pasta uncovered, stirring occasionally according to package directions. Drain well in a colander; set in the sink.
2. Heat about a Tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the chicken and cook for about 8 to 10 minutes until cooked through. Remove from skillet and set aside.
3.Heat another Tablespoon of oil in skillet over medium-high heat; cook and stir the onion, celery, carrots and bell pepper in the oil until translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook about another minute.
4.Combine the flour and  dry seasonings together and add to the veggies, cook and stir for about a minute. (if flour sticks to the bottom of the pan too much, add a tablespoon or so of water and de-glaze the pan.
5.Return the chicken to the pan along with the shrimp and kielbasa cook until the shrimp turns slightly pink, about 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the diced tomatoes and hot sauce, scraping up the good stuff from the bottom of the pan. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes. Add your cooked linguine and fresh basil and cook another minute or two until pasta is heated through.Garnish with Parmesan cheese!

I served mine with sauteed zucchini and crusty french bread !

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Lemony Shrimp with Asparagus/Veggie Stir Fry

I've been trying to cook lighter lately, since it's been so hot, nothing very heavy sounds good. Tonight, I got out my Stir Fry Cookbook and found this recipe. If you don't like Shrimp you could easily substitute about a pound of fish, like orange roughy, or halibut fillets cut into 1/2 inch thick 1 by 3-inch strips. But I'm a shrimp person, so I used a 1 pound package of frozen raw shrimp. I served this with a side salad, who says you have to be boring when cooking lighter. I used cooked brown rice to serve my stir fry on, but use whatever kind of rice you have and like. ENJOY!

Lemony Shrimp with Asparagus/Veggie Stir Fry
1 pound frozen raw shrimp, thawed with tails removed
1 (1lb) package frozen aparagus stir fry veggies, I also used a cup or so of broccolli florets for more variety
 (you could use fresh veggies either, just cut up fresh asparagus and a mixture of 2 or 3 kinds of other veggies into bite size pieces, you want about 3 cups)
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 large clove garlic, minced (or a  slightly heaping teaspoonful already minced garlic in the jar)
2 Tablespoons chicken broth
2  Tablespoons Lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon sugar
salt and Pepper to taste
2 or 3 Tablespoons Olive oil or salad oil to stir fry with
Hot cooked brown rice

Thaw your frozen shrimp and remove the tails. Get your rice cooking according to package directions, brown rice cooks a long time (about 45 minutes so plan accordingly if you use that) Most other rices cook 20 to 25 minutes.
In a bowl, whisk together the 2 teaspoons of cornstarch, 2 teaspoons lemon juice, and 2 teaspoons oil. Add thawed shrimp, and toss to coat. Let sit for about 5 minutes.
In a large skillet or wok, heat about 2 Tablespoons oil. When oil is hot, add your shrimp and stir-fry over medium-high heat until curled and mostly pink. (about 2 or 3 minutes). Remove from skillet and set aside.
Pour remaining 1 tablespoon of oil into skillet, when oil begins to heat add the garlic and stir-fry for about 30 seconds. Then add your veggies and stir-fry for 1 to 2 minutes.
Stir together your chicken broth, and 2 Tablespoons lemon juice and the 1/4 teaspoon sugar (I added the sugar because I think it takes the edge off the lemon juice, if you don't want to add it you can leave it out)  Pour into skillet over your veggies and cover and cook, stirring frequently until veggies are tender-crisp to bite (2 to 3 more minutes). You can also sprinkle your veggies with a dash or two of salt.
When veggies are done, add your shrimp back into the skillet and stir until just heated through. Serve over hot cooked rice. Garnish with salt and pepper and a dash or two of soy sauce if desired.
Makes about 4 servings.

Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Well, since I've been on my mission to lose a few pounds this summer, I had forgotten that my husband and family still like to have sweets now and then.  So I felt bad and decided to make them some cookies. I had some Crunchy Almond Butter that I needed to use up, and I thought.. Hmmmmmm, I wonder if I did my peanut butter cookie recipe but substituted Almond butter, if it would be good. So, I had to give it a shot, after all I'm all up for experimenting when it comes to cooking!  I also added vanilla extract and a little almond extract to these, and milk chocolate chips! I also like the crunchy almond butter, it gives you a little crunch in your cookies. YUMMO.... ok, I confess I ate one cookie, I had to taste them though to make sure they were blog worthy! Enjoy!

Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes about 2 1/2 dozen cookies

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup crunchy almond butter
1 egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons  all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4  teaspoon salt
1 cup Milk chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray cookie sheet with non-stick cooking spray.
In large bowl with electric mixer, cream butter, sugar, brown sugar, and almond butter together. Then add egg, vanilla, and almond extract and beat well. Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a small bowl, and then add to creamed mixture slowly. Hand stir chips in until just combined.
Next, drop by heaping teaspoonfuls onto prepared cookie sheet (I use my small ice-cream scoop) and bake 8 to 10 minutes, or until just starting to brown around the edges. Remove from oven and let sit on cookie sheet for a minute or two, then remove to cooling rack.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Shrimp Chiles Rellenos

I LOVE Chiles Rellenos! Usually these are stuffed with just cheese and dipped in an egg batter and then deep fried. I first ate them when we lived in Albuquerque, New Mexico at the state fair that was in Albuquerque, those were the best I've ever had!! They were deep fried but crispy with a yummo sauce on them. I have tried to find some like those ever since we moved back to Idaho but so far they haven't been like those. The ones I  have had here are good, they just are softer on the outside. Jim's Mom has shown me how to make them too, and those were good, but not crispy. I was watching T.V. on Saturday Morning and Rick Bayless' show 'Mexico, One plate at a Time' was on. He made this recipe and they looked yummy and a bit more healthy than the deep fried ones I've seen so I thought I would give them a try. I followed his recipe pretty close, but added the black beans and corn to the filling. And I marinated my shrimp for more flavor.  I tried both the Anaheim Chiles and the fresh Poblano Chiles, we liked them both, but I think I liked the Poblanos best. They were bigger and some of the Anaheim chiles were quite spicy. Just a warning, these a take a while to make because you have to roast and peel the chiles, but I didn't mind... I like experimenting in the kitchen. So make these when you have a bit of time and feel like trying something different. YUM!
Also.. If you don't want to take the time to wrap these in cornhusks... you could bake them on a greased cookie sheet at 350 for about 10 minutes or until the filling is hot and bubbly.

Shrimp Chiles Rellenos
An 8-ounce package dried corn husks
12 medium (about 1 1/2 pounds total) fresh Anaheim chiles or fresh Poblano Peppers ( I used 8 Anaheim and 4 Poblano because I wanted to try both kinds)
1 medium onion, sliced into 1/2-inch-thick rounds
A little vegetable oil
1 pound raw shrimp, shelled and deveined
Grill Mates Baja Citris Marinade packet, (mix according to directions on packet)
1/2 (14 oz.) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 (14 oz ) can corn, drained
12 ounces shredded Mexican melting cheese (Chihuahua, quesillo, asadero or the like) or Monterey Jack, brick or mild cheddar, shredded (you’ll have about 3 cups)
1/4 teaspoon oregano, preferably Mexican
1/2 teaspoon fresh black pepper
Dash or two salt

1. Soak the corn husks. Fill your sink with hot water and add your corn husks to it, if they float, I put a cake pan that I've filled with water on top of them. Let soak for a good hour.
2. Roast the chiles, you can do this in the broiler, but I prefer to roast mine on my grill, either gas or charcoal will work, just get the grill hot. Lay the chiles on the grill and turn until blackened and blistered, about 4 minutes per side. Place in a large bowl and cover with a lid or piece of saran wrap, you want these to steam a little so the skin is easy to peel off.
Meanwhile, brush both sides of the onion slices with a little oil, sprinkle with salt, then lay in a single layer on the grill. Grill, turning at least once, until richly browned and soft, about 7 minutes. Scoop onto a cutting board and chop into small pieces.
Marinade your shrimp in the Baja Citris Marinade for about 15 minutes. (Mine marinades while I peel my chilles)
When the chiles are cool enough to handle, peel off the blistered skin. Make a slit in the side of each chile and use your finger to scrape out the seeds. Rinse briefly to remove any stray seeds or bits of skin. Dry with paper towels.
Saute the shrimp in a large frying pan for about 5 to 6 minutes or until they turn pink and start to curl. Remove from pan, and chop into about 1/4 inch pieces.
In a large bowl, mix together the chopped shrimp, shredded cheese, chopped grilled onion, black beans, corn, oregano, black pepper and salt.
 Spoon your filling into the peppers until full but you can still almost close them up again.

3. Grill and serve--Preheat your grill again. Choose 12 larger corn husks. Lay six on your counter top and dry with a towel. Lay the Anaheim chili's  in pairs lengthwise on the corn husks and roll up., or if you use Poblano peppers, do just one in each corn husk. Lay out 6 more corn husks. Lay each “chile relleno roll” on another corn husk, tapered end pointing the opposite direction. and roll up, Tear  1/4-inch strips from the remaining corn husks and use them to tie around the ends of each roll. Lay the rolls on the grill. Grill them for 10 to 12 minutes, turning them regularly, until the corn husks are slightly charred, the cheese has melted and the shrimp are warm.

Slide them onto plates, cut off the ties, pry back the husk and serve! (I slid mine out of the husks completely to serve)
I served mine with a side salad and spicy dilly beans and carrots. But you could serve these with a steamed veggie and Mexican rice if desired.

The top pic at the beginning of the recipe is the Aneheim Chile and the one at the bottom is the Poblano Chile.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Smoky Salsa Frittata

Goodness so far all summer it seems I"ve just been eating BBQ and salads and desserts!! I've decided that for 30 days I will go on a health kick and eat better and exercise... I've been feeling like a slug. So for the next month I will be in search of healthier recipes with less fat and sauces, I will post the good ones I find, and hope you enjoy them as well. I have posted a couple of different Frittata recipes on here... but I made up a pretty good one this morning for breakfast. I LOVE chili's and mushrooms, and I also added onions and tomato's so I decidedthat that's everything you put in salsa just about, so that's where I got the name for it. I LOVE the subtle smoky flavor of smoky gouda cheese and thought I'd add a little of that in this. Serve with fresh fruit and you have a Yummo healthy breakfast! Enjoy!

Smoky Salsa Frittata
1/2 of a serrano pepper, seeded and minced
2 Tablespoons minced onion
2 Tablespoons minced green bell pepper
2 Tablespoons canned green chili's
1 (4 oz.) can sliced mushrooms (or a handful or two of fresh if you have them)
1/2 of a large tomato, diced
3 eggs
1/2 to 3/4 cup Egg beaters egg product
dash or two Frank's hot sauce
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup or more grated smoky gouda cheese (or pepper jack would be good too, use whatever you like)
Olive Oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large oven-safe skillet heat about a Tablespoon or a little more of Olive Oil over medium high heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, and serrano pepper and saute over medium heat for about 3 to 5 minutes until the onion starts to turn transluscent. Next, add your mushrooms and green chili's and saute for 2 more minutes (approximately). Then add your tomato and cook a minute more so it gets heated through.
While your veggies are cooking, whisk together the egg and egg beaters in a medium size bowl. Add your dash of hot sauce and salt and pepper (I always do a couple of shakes of pepper and about 4 or 5 shakes of salt, I never measure it!) Whisk a little more until the eggs are frothy. Add about 1/4 cup of your grated cheese and stir to combine.
Next pour your egg mixture over your veggies and stir and let sit a minute, then stir again, and smooth out so it's kind of flat. Turn your stove heat off, and sprinkle the rest of your cheese over the top.

Now pop in your preheated oven for about 5 to 7 minutes, or until the egg is bubbly and not runny, and your cheese is melted.
Remove from oven and cut into 3 or 4 large pieces (like a pie) and serve with fresh fruit! YUMMO!

Boston Cream Whoopie Pies (or Mini Boston Cream Pies)

While browsing on the internet the other day, I ran across this recipe at . Being obsessed with Whoopie Pies lately, I had to give them a try! YUM! I wasn't disappointed! They taste as good as they look! I use to love the Boston Cream Pies we had at the Bakery, once in a while the girls and I would have to 'damage' one so we could eat it at work...isn't that a normal thing to do when you work in a Bakery?? Anyway, they are mini soft vanilla cookie cakes that you fill with a homemade pastry cream filling, and then top with a Chocolate Ganache. I found them easy to make, and just as easy to eat 2 or 3! Keep these in the refrigerator and enjoy!

Boston Cream Whoopie Pies
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 large eggs
2/3 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Vanilla Pastry Cream (recipe below)
Chocolate Ganache (recipe below)

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light. Beat in vegetable oil and the eggs, adding the eggs in one at a time and waiting until the first is fully incorporated to add the second. Stir in half of the flour mixture, followed by the buttermilk and vanilla extract. Stir in the remaining flour, mixing just until all ingredients are combined and no streaks of flour remain.
Drop batter in approx 2-tbsp sized rounds onto prepared baking sheet, as you would for cookie dough. (I have a small ice-cream scooper that I use when making cookies, and I used it for making these, perfect size I think!)
Bake for 10 minutes, or until cake is set and springs back when lightly pressed. Cake may be very lightly browned around the edges.
Cool cakes completely on a wire rack.
Pair up the cakes by size, creating pairs of roughly equal size that will fit together well once put together as whoopie pies.
Take one half of each of the whoopie pies and spread about 1 tbsp chocolate ganache over the rounded portion of the cake (I just dipped the top side of them in my ganached and allowed to set up at room temperature.
Fill a piping bag or a ziploc bag with the corner snipped off with the pastry cream and pipe a generous amount (2 tbsp) onto the flat portion of the cakes that are not covered with chocolate. Top each with a chocolate covered cake and serve.
Makes about 14 Boston Cream Whoopie Pies.
( I got about 24 Whoopie Pies, mine were a little smaller since I used my small Ice-cream scoop, I thought they were the perfect size, about 2 or 3 bites!)

Vanilla Pastry Cream
1 1/4 cups low fat milk
1/4 vanilla bean or 2 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg, room temperature
1 egg yolk, room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
2 1/2 tbsp cornstarch
In a medium saucepan, combine milk and vanilla bean. Bring to a simmer over medium heat then turn off heat. Scrape vanilla bean into milk and allow to stand for 15 minutes to infuse the milk with the vanilla. Bring milk back to a simmer over medium heat (Skip this step if using vanilla extract and simply bring the milk to a simmer on the stovetop).
While milk is heating, combine eggs, egg yolks and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Beat until smooth, then add cornstarch and beat until smooth again. When the milk is done, pour a few tablespoons of milk into the egg mixture while whisking constantly. Repeat this a few times until about half of the milk has been added. It is important to add the hot milk slowly (tempering) so you do not cook the eggs.
Add the remaining milk and return the whole mixture to the sauce pan. Cook, stirring constantly, over medium heat until the custard thickens – about 5 minutes.
Strain through a sieve into a medium bowl, cover surface of the pastry cream with plastic wrap and store in fridge until ready to use. Stir chilled pastry cream vigorously before using.

Chocolate Ganache
1 cup chocolate chips or chopped bittersweet chocolate
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 tsp corn syrup (optional)
Combine chocolate, cream and corn syrup (if using) in a medium sized, microwave-safe bowl and cook on high just until the cream starts to simmer. Whisk or stir thoroughly until all chocolate has melted and ganache is smooth.
If you add the corn syrup, your ganache will be slightly glossier when it sets, but it is optional and you don’t need to add it to have a good result.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Triple Chocolate Oreo Chunk Cookies

I love cookies! I think these are one of my new favorites! With a name like Triple Chocolate Oreo Chunk how could they not be fabulous??? I had to give these a try this weekend and I wasn't disappointed at all!...LOVED them! I found this recipe I made mine with chocolate chips instead of buying the squares of chocolate and chopping them up, but do whatever you have. They were also good with peanut butter spread over them.... that's one of my weird favorite things to do with cookies for a late night snack..... :o)

Triple Chocolate Oreo Chunk Cookies
Yield: 3 1/2 dozen cookies
Cook Time: 8-10 minutes

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup cocoa powder ( I use Hershey's Coco powder)
1 cup butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup chopped white chocolate (or white chocolate chips)
1 cup chopped semi-sweet chocolate (or chocolate chips)
1 cup chopped Oreo cookies

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, sift flour, baking soda, salt, and cocoa. Set aside.
3. With a mixer, cream butter and sugars together until smooth. Add in eggs, one at a time. Next, add in vanilla extract. Mix until blended.
4. Slowly add flour mixture to sugar mixture and mix until flour disappears. Stir in chocolate chunks and Oreos. Drop cookie dough by rounded tablespoons onto prepared baking sheet, about 2 inches apart.
5. Bake cookies for 8 to 10 minutes (I did 10 minutes in my oven, and the cookies were perfect!). Don't over bake. Remove from oven and let sit on baking sheet for 3-5 minutes. Move to a cooling rack and cool completely.

Portabella Mushroom Tacos

I love tacos. My hubby and I thought it would be awesome to see if we could do a meatless Monday  and Portabella mushrooms have a grea...