Saturday, February 27, 2010

Faux "Good For You" Dessert

About 10 years ago, I worked with a lovely old man in Arizona who preferred lemon bars to any other dessert on Earth. I made these for him quite often and hope you'll enjoy them too!

Lemon Bars

- 1 cup confectioner's/powdered sugar (plus a bit more for decoration)
- 1 1/8th cup all purpose flour
-1/3 cup, freshly squeezed lemon juice
-1/2 cup butter, room temperature
- 1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
-2 eggs

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a medium sized bowl, mix together 1/3 cup confectioner's sugar, flour and softened butter until thoroughly combined. Take the mixture and press it into the bottom of an 11" x 7" pan. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until the crust is lightly browned.

Next, whisk together 2/3 cup of confectioner's sugar, eggs, lemon juice and lemon zest until thoroughly combined. Check the crust in the oven. Just before the crust is finished baking, add the baking powder into the lemon mixture and stir. Remove the crust from the oven and pour the lemon mixture onto the hot crust, and even it out with a spatula. Return to the oven and bake for another 25 minutes.

When the lemon bars are cool, dust them with a little bit more powdered sugar and serve!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

I love chicken.

In my house - we eat a lot of chicken, because I love it and I'm the cook! This recipe was born when I was messing around in the kitchen, trying to figure out a way to use up some ingredients while creating something my husband would adore.

Jalapeno-Goat Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breasts
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 4-6 ounces of goat cheese (crumbled)
- one cup of onion, minced
- one minced jalapeno (mostly or entirely deseeded depending on your love of heat)
- 4 pieces of cooked bacon (crumbled)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, stir together the goat cheese, onion, jalapeno and crumbled bacon until combined. Take each chicken breast and butterfly it (cut through the side of the chicken breast until 3/4 the way across - make sure not to cut all the way through!). Open up the breast and fill with 1/4 of the mixed filling. I use toothpicks to 'pin' the chicken breast together so the filling doesn't escape! Finish the other 3 chicken breasts and place all in a 9 x 12 glass baking dish that has been sprayed with Pam. Bake for 20 minutes and you're set!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Sometimes Chunky's a Good Thing

I'm relatively famous for my chunky guacamole with a kick, which I find ironic - since I don't like guacamole :) Aaron loves it, and it's generally the first thing to go at any event at our house. If you like it a little less spicy - feel free to leave out the hot sauce, but it's pretty awesome with it. This is chunky guacamole, so it won't be silky smooth!

Chunky Guacamole with a Kick

2 ripe Hass avocados
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 teaspooon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 medium red onion, chopped
1 Roma tomato, chopped
2 teaspoons hot sauce

Slice avocados and scoop out pits. Mash avocados a little with a fork . Add garlic, lime juice, salt, pepper, and hot sauce and mix well. Add in tomato, cilantro and onion and mix gently together until combined. It'll be chunky and delicious :)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

This dessert has much more than 96 calories.

You know those chocolate molten lava cakes that you get at the restaurant? The ones you cut with your fork and the chocolatey-goodness just oozes all over your plate. These are similar - but better. This is for the ultimate cheat day. There is no low fat version of this bad boy but you will appreciate every single bit. I bake mine as single servings in little ramekins, but this recipe is for one big gorgeous chocolate perfection.

Chocolate Perfection

2 sticks of unsalted butter, room temperature (plus a little extra to make sure it comes out of the dish!)
4 eggs, (room temperature is also best here to make sure it doesn't seize up the chocolate!)
2 cups sugar
6 ounces of melted dark chocolate (if you use semi sweet, cut back on the sugar a bit)
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 T. vanilla

Preheat your oven to 325 and butter a 9x12x2 glass baking dish. Melt/Microwave the butter until melted and set it aside to cool down (if you don't do this - you will scramble your eggs in the recipe!) Using a hand or stand mixer, beat together sugar and eggs for 8-10 minutes until they are light yellow and have thickened. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour and the cocoa powder (if you don't have a sift, stir together with a whisk). In the sugar mixture, add in the vanilla and then the flour/cocoa mixture and stir until just combined. Add in the butter and stir until combined.

Pour the mixture into the buttered baking dish and place the dish in a larger one/roaster if you have it. Fill the larger dish halfway up the side of the glass dish with really hot tap water and bake for 1 hour. It will appear really underbaked - which is the point :) How can it be gooey and delicious if you've cooked it all the way?

Absolutely fabulous by itself - even better with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. :)

Monday, February 22, 2010

Feeling saucy..

A few years ago, I started making my own marinara sauce. It sounds difficult, and a bit intimidating but I promise - you can do it and it's so worth it. Aaron and I can't really eat jarred sauces anymore - we are sauce snobs and you can be too :) I'll be posting a meat marinara sauce eventually, but this one's for my veggies out there. Carnivores - trust me, you'll love it too.

Kelly's Marinara

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, diced
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
1 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 (28-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes, undrained
1 tablespoon sugar

2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 teaspoons dried basil

Heat up a sauce pot or Dutch oven over medium heat and add in oil, onion, carrot and celery and saute for 3 minutes or until vegetables start to soften/onion is translucent. Add in garlic and saute for another minute. Add in all the spices and stir for 1 minute (this will smell awesome!). Lastly, add in the tomatoes. Give it a stir - and then let it simmer on low for at least an hour, stirring every fifteen minutes or so. If you have the time - let it simmer for longer, it will be delish!

If you're making a batch to freeze:

Let sauce cool completely before spooning it into tupperware or quart size freezer baggies (I recommend these as you can lay them completely flat and stack them in your freezer). They'll last up to three months in the freezer.

If you're matching a batch to eat immediately:

Enjoy! :)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Get Your Omega-3s!

Aaron absolutely loves salmon, so I get to experiment with it quite a bit. This salmon recipe can also be modified for chicken if you'd like, it's pretty flexible.

Honey Ginger Salmon

1/3 cup orange juice
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce (you can use regular, I just prefer low sodium)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
4 (4-ounce) salmon fillets (or one large piece anywhere from 8 oz+)
1/4 cup sliced green onions

I never find too much marinade to be a bad thing, so even when I'm making two smaller pieces of fish - I rarely modify the recipe to make less marinade. If you want, you can use 1/2 the marinade on the fish and save half to simmer over low heat until it thickens for a sauce. Important: Never, ever use marinade that has touched the raw fish or chicken to turn into a sauce.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine all ingredients except salmon in medium sized bowl and whisk together. Pour 1/4 of the marinade into a glass baking dish and place the salmon on top, before pouring the rest of the marinade over the top of the fish. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and chill for at least 15 minutes (You can marinade this for much longer (4-8 hours) but I do not recommend overnight as the acid in the OJ will start to cook and break down the fish). Remove plastic wrap and place in the oven for 20 minutes.

I recommend serving it over a little bit of rice - and it's delicious. :)


Saturday, February 20, 2010

The 96 Calorie Cookies

These cookies were an office favorite at Dell. You can justify anything at 96 calories. I took a recipe from Cooking Light and modified it a bit to include whole wheat flour, which I think really sets off the pecan taste. Even if you aren't a huge pecan fan - try it in this recipe. It's really great.

The 96 Calorie Cookie
1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour (if you don't have this - you can use all-purpose for all flour)
1 cup regular oats
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large egg
1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted
1/4 cup semisweet chocolate minichips

Like with any great cookie recipe - you'll need two mixing bowls - medium size or larger.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In one bowl, mix the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, and salt with a whisk and set aside. In the second bowl, cream together the sugar and butter before mixing in the vanilla and egg until well blended. Next, take the flour mixture and add by 1/3rds into the wet mixture until completely absorbed. Don't overstir or your cookies will be rocks. :) Next, add in the pecans and mini chips.

Here's where my technique differs a bit. I refrigerate my cookie dough for 15-20 minutes before scooping out onto the cookie sheets and I use parchment paper instead of a greased cookie sheet for easier cleanup and less burnt edges. Whatever your technique - put tablespoonfulls of cookie dough and bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes or until they're a bit browned.

Enjoy 5 - I think it's still less calories than 1 normal cookie. Just sayin'.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Round 3: Slow Cooker Ribs

My husband loves ribs. Absolutely loves them in a way that he just discovered in the past year or two. Being newly married, I now have all sorts of kitchen appliances that I wasn't aware I needed but am adoring - one of which is my brand-spankin' new slow cooker. Here's my newly perfected rib recipe that he loves. Warning: They've got a bit of spice.

Kelly's Slow Cooker Ribs #3
2 racks pork, country-style ribs, cut into 2 to 3 rib portions
Premade spice rub*
Salt and pepper
1 1/2 cups ketchup
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
2 tablespoons hot sauce (or chipotle-in-adobo sauce works too!)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon prepared mustard
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Take ribs and cut into 2-3 rib sections and rub liberally with the premade spice rub. Take a cookie sheet (with a lip on the edge!) and place your ribs bone-side down and bake for 1 hour. Combine all other ingredients (except ribs) in a bowl and stir together. (If you like a smooth sauce, you can puree in the food processor or blender).

Transfer ribs to the slow cooker and pour sauce all over them. Cover and cook on low for 4-5 hours, or high for 2-2.5 hours. Serves 4 normal people or 2 like my husband and his coworkers. :) Easy and delicious!

*If you don't want to use a premade spice rub, you can use a lot of the same spices above to achieve the same deliiiicious flavor. Here's my recipe for my spice rub - make a little extra and keep it onhand for your next ribfest.

Rib Rub
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 tablespoon cumin
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Famous Wedding Pecans

If you were cool enough to be invited to our wedding and an out of towner - you were treated to the famous Candied Pecans of Texas. All my California peeps - we have been missing out. The great part is - they're easy to make!

Marco Wedding Pecans

1 egg white
1 tablespoon water
1 pound pecan halves
1 cup white sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat your oven to 250 degrees. In a small bowl, whip the egg white and tablespoon of water together until frothy. In another small bowl, mix together the sugar, the salt, and the cinnamon until combined. This next step is important or your pecans will transform from awesome to a total pain in the rear. In a large bowl, put your pecans and pour on the egg white mixture. Grab your spatula and turn until they're coated. Trust me, it will happen. In a gallon Ziploc bag, put your sugar mixture before adding in all the coated pecans. Close the baggie and shake it like a Polaroid picture. Get the pecans good and coated.

Grease/PAM a baking sheet with edges and lay out all the pecans in a decent attempt at 1 layer. Place them in the oven for 1 hour - stirring with your spatula on the baking sheet every 15 minutes. If you don't do this - they will be permanently adhered to your baking sheet and you will be ticked. :)


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Kelly's famous Asian marinade

One way I'm able to take a huge package of chicken and not get sick of it is that I cook it and marinate it in all different ways. I've used the marinade below for everything from salmon to chicken. The ingredients might sound expensive, but I promise you that they'll last for quite some time and this recipe is one you'll be repeating!

Kelly's Famous Asian Marinade

  • Microwave safe bowl
  • 1/3 c. soy sauce (low sodium works great!)
  • 2 T. sesame oil (dark or roasted works best)
  • 3. T honey
  • 1 T. minced garlic*
  • 1 T. minced ginger*
  • 1 chopped green onion
*If you're in a rush - you can just slice these into big chunks and throw them in the marinade- it works just as well!

Microwave for about 40 seconds to melt honey into marinade and stir with a whisk. Pour into Gallon-size Ziploc freezer bag and add salmon/chicken/veggies/random meat and marinate for at least 4 hours in the fridge (I marinate mine overnight and do not worry- it will color the meat if marinated that long!).


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

For the love of tilapia..

My sister and I were talking today about how she wanted to learn some recipes for tilapia so she could introduce her kids to fish. Aaron loves tilapia, and I love to try out new recipes. A kitchen marriage made in heaven.

Tilapia & Vegetable Packets

  • Tinfoil

  • Cookie sheet (preferably with a lip to it)

  • 3-4 tilapia fillets (can be adjusted depending on the amount of tilapia you have/want)

  • 1 T. Fresh Rosemary, minced

  • Salt, as desired

  • Pepper, as desired

  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced

  • 1 red bell pepper, cut as mentioned below

  • 1 yellow onion, cut as mentioned below

  • 2 lemons

Here comes the variation part - the veggies. I've used everything from red bell peppers, onions, zucchini, squash, etc. The main point is to cut these into sticks about the size of one bar of a Kit Kat. You don't want them smaller or they'll turn to mush before the fish is finished cooking. Not pretty.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and begin assembling your tilapia packets. You will need one piece of tinfoil for each packet. Begin by placing the cut veggies on the bottom of the packet - you want a little bed about as large as the piece of tilapia you're using. Sprinkle salt, pepper, and the minced rosemary on both sides of the tilapia and place it on top of the vegetables. Take a few slices of lemon (3-4 usually works) and place them on top of the tilapia fillet.

Grab the two longest sides of the foil and pull them together on top of the fish, leaving some room so it can steam the fish. Roll the two edges together (like a lunch bag) and then roll each of the other two sides separately to keep in all the juice while it cooks. After assembling all the packets, place them on a cookie sheet in the 350 degree oven, checking them after 20 minutes. When the fish is no longer opaque and more of a white, it is done!

Happy eating!

Monday, February 15, 2010

This is why I don't have a blog...

Sorry for the random 8 month delay since my last post. Life has gotten in the way.

Since then:

I've gotten married.
I've gotten laid off.
I went on the world's best honeymoon.
I'm kicking my own butt with Crossfit's challenge.
I have been obsessed with watching the Olympics.
I have been cooking like a fiend.

This post is in the vein of that last point - a recipe for love. I made this for my honey on Valentine's Day - hopefully you'll make it for yours someday. It's worth it.

Tuscan Lemon Chicken
2 large chicken breasts
Salt, as desired
1 T olive oil
1 T. grated lemon zest
2 T lemon juice
3 T minced garlic
1/2 tsp. dried rosemary
Pepper, as desired
Combine all the ingredients together and pour over the chicken. Marinade overnight (highly recommended) or for 8+ hours, turning once.

I highly recommend mixing up the marinade in a bowl then using God's gift to people with small fridges - the Ziploc bag to marinade. Please use the freezer ones so you don't spend two hours scrubbing it out of your fridge. :)

Grill until internal temperature reaches 180 degrees - or if you don't want to rock the grill in these awful temperatures - put it in a clear glass baking dish and bake for 20 minutes at 400 degrees and then check temperature. When juices run clear - you're good!