Saturday, April 24, 2010

Takeout at Home

I love P.F. Chang's. I know, it's a chain restaurant but it can't be helped. One of my favorite is their lettuce wraps (not as great as their crispy green beans but they're darn close). Here's my take on their lettuce wraps for when I want to eat dinner at home in my pajamas and be lazy. :)

Kelly's Lettuce Wraps
- 8 dried Shiitake mushrooms
- 2 teaspoons cooking sherry
- 2 teaspoons water
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- salt and pepper
- 5 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 green onions, chopped
- 1-1.5lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts - cut into bite-size pieces
- 8 ounce can of bamboo shoots, chopped up
- 1 package of Chinese cellophane rice noodles, cooked
- Iceberg lettuce leaves

Lettuce Wrap "Sauce"
- 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce (reduced sodium is great!)
- 1 tablespoon cooking sherry
- 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
- 1.5 tablespoons water
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon sugar

Pour boiling water over dried mushrooms to rehydrate - just enough to cover. Let them soak for roughly 25-30 minutes and then drain. Remove the stems and chop up mushrooms.

In a small bowl, whisk together all the ingredients for the sauce until combined and set aside. In a separate bowl, mix together the sherry, water, soy sauce, cornstarch, salt, pepper, and chicken. Stir together until chicken is well coated with mixture.

Heat large skillet over medium high heat. Add 3 tablespoons of oil. After the oil gets hots, add the chicken mixture. Fry quickly for about 3 minutes, or til chicken is no longer pink. Stir constantly to prevent burning. Remove chicken.

To the same skillet, add 2 more tablespoons of oil. Add the fresh ginger, garlic, green onions, and optional chilies, if desired. Fry quickly for 45-60 seconds, or til garlic is a golden color. Do not overcook garlic, or it will taste bitter. Add the dried mushrooms, bamboo shoots and water chestnuts. Fry quickly for about 2 minutes. Return chicken to the skillet and add the sauce ingredients. Cook until the sauce thickens.

Break the cooked cellophane noodles into small pieces. Spread the noodles onto the bottom of a platter. Pour the chicken mixture on top of the noodles and spoon into your lettuce leaves. Devour.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

I apologize for the mini-break I took from posting. Work, garage sale, new car for the hubs, etc sort of took over for a bit! But I'm back with my recipe for Tomatillo Salsa. I'm not generally a fan of the green stuff (guac, tomatillo,etc) but this one with it's hint of spice has got me hooked. I use it sometimes in my Green Chile Chicken enchiladas... but sometimes I just shovel it with a chip.

Tomatillo Salsa

  • 1 small white onion

  • 10 tomatillos (husked)

  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped

  • 2 jalapeno peppers, chopped (and deseeded if you want)

  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

  • salt and pepper to taste

In a pan, cover the tomatillos with water and cook over medium-high heat until it comes to a boil. Lower heat to medium, and simmer until tomatillos soften and begin to burst - about 10 minutes.

Drain tomatillos and place in a food processor (or blender, if you don't own a food processor that will fit them all!) with onion, garlic, jalapenos, cilantro, salt and pepper. Blend until it's how you want it - I blend until almost entirely smooth.

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Real Reason I moved to Texas

I love Shiner Bock. It's 30% of the reason I moved here - with the other remaining 70% going to the hotness that is my dear husband. ;) One of my favorite things in the world is Shiner Bock Beer Bread. When you add in my special honey butter, it's better than finding the perfect shoes, in your size, on sale and then what? You get another 40% off? It's that good.

Shiner Bock Beer Bread

  • 2.5 cups self rising flour
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon italian seasoning
  • 12 ounces of Shiner Bock
  • 1/4 cup, melted butter

Honey Butter

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup honey

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and grease and flour a 9"x5" baking pan. In a large bowl, mix together the self-rising flour, all purpose flour, brown sugar, salt, baking powder, onion powder, and italian seasoning until combined. Next, pour in the beer and mix until JUST moistened. Pour into the greased baking dish and top with the melted butter. Bake 40-50 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean!

For the honey butter, use room temperature softened butter and mix in the honey until combined. It's easy, and delicious.

Wait anxiously until the bread has cooled off then eat like crazy with honey butter.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Butter Pound Cake

I have to admit, even though I love to bake - I used to eat Sara Lee Pound Cake (delish!) instead of ever making my own.. until I found this recipe. It's delicious. When I'm feeling lazy (read: Mon - Thurs), I might still be tempted to buy the Sara Lee kind, but this one freezes well sooo... :)

Mama's Butter Pound Cake

- 1 cup butter
- 6 eggs
- 3 cups white sugar
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 pint heavy whipping cream
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon lemon extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter and flour 1 bundt pan and 1 loaf pan (this dish makes enough batter to make both!). In a large bowl using an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy and combined. Next, add in the eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition.

Alternate adding in 1 cup of a flour with 1/4 pint of heavy cream, mixing between until all of the flour and cream have been incorporated. Last, add in the vanilla and lemon extract and mix well. Pour the batter into the two pans until each pan is about 2/3 full.

Bake for 1-1.5 hours or until the cake is lightly browned on top and springs back when you touch it.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Tasty Adult Beverages

I love a good mojito. McCormick & Schmick's makes a pineapple mojito that makes my adult tastebuds sing. This is my attempt to recreate it, which is dangerously delicious and I recommend alternating with water if you're trying to quench your thirst on a hot summer day. :) These sneak up on you!

Pineapple Mojito

  • 2 ounces white rum
  • 1 tablespoon simple syrup*
  • 4 ounces, pineapple juice
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • 5 fresh mint leaves
  • Ice
  • Shaker

Add mint leaves into a shaker and muddle/smash the living heck out of it. If you do not own a muddler, a wooden spoon is not a horrible substitute. Add ice, rum, simple syrup, lime juice, and pineapple juice. Shake what your mama gave you (and the shaker) until well combined. Strain into a glass with ice - and if you're a bit of a wuss, add a splash of soda water. Or just take it like a man, add a wedge of lime and enjoy.

*Simple syrup is made by combining water and sugar in equal amounts, heating until the sugar dissolves and letting it cool. Make a large amount and keep it on hand.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Why My Husband Loves Me, Reason #462

My husband loves fish tacos. Absolutely lives to try them at any restaurant and can often be found wolfing them down with me at Trudy's - my favorite restaurant. While I love fajitas, I worked on learning to make a mean fish taco because he loves them so much, and because our monthly Trudy's bill was starting to resemble our mortgage. Here's my take on them but beware - they're spicy!

Kelly's Kickass Fish Tacos

  • 6 tilapia fillets (4 ounces each), cut into bit sized pieces
  • 1 cup corn
  • 1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 1 cup, finely chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 cup, diced red onion
  • 1 lime, zested and juiced
  • 2 tablespoons of sour cream (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons of cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 12 corn tortillas

Preheat grill pan over medium-high heat. Preheat smaller secondary skillet over medium heat. In a medium-sized bowl, mix together corn, bell pepper, and onion. Toss mixture into smaller skillet and cook until veggies are softened. Remove from heat, pour back into bowl and mix in lime juice, cilantro and lime zest.

In a small bowl, combine the cayenne pepper, black pepper, and salt. Brush the tilapia with the olive oil and sprinkle cayenne mixture on both sides of the fish. In the large grill pan, cook the tilapia fillets for 3-4 mintues on each side, until completely cooked. Remove from heat. If you want at this point, you can break the tilapia up into smaller pieces for the tacos. It's optional.

Assemble delicious fish taco, topping with the grilled salsa & enjoy!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

A little bit of romance...

Have you ever tried to make chocolate dipped strawberries and had the chocolate separate from the strawberry just a bit once they cooled? Me too. I hunted and hunted for a good recipe and the magic way to do this until I found the lovely recipe below, from a good friend in Arizona. I hope this will inspire you to make these little treats often! This makes 1 pound of strawberries but is pretty easy to scale to your size!

Chocolate Dipped Strawberries

  • 1 pound, milk chocolate chips
  • 2 tablespoons, vegetable shortening
  • 1 pound fresh strawberries (with stems if possible!)

In a double boiler (or just place a glass bowl over 1" of simmering water in a pot), place the milk chocolate chips and vegetable shortening and stir until melted and combined. Lay out a sheet of wax paper to let the chocolate dipped strawberries harden post-dipping. Grab a strawberry by the stem and dip into melted chocolate until desired coverage is acheived. Lay strawberry to harden on wax paper. Repeat until all strawberries are coated. Then go back and eat the first one you dipped. (at least that's my addition to the recipe).

Friday, April 2, 2010

Finally, something healthy!

It's starting to warm up here, in sunny Texas and I find myself craving what I lovingly refer to as summer foods - nice cold, crisp salads (okay and ice cream too but we're on healthy at the moment) and ice-cold frozen drinks with little umbrellas in them. We're going for the salad today. This salad with strawberries and crunchy spinach is truly delicious. It won't ever be a burger and fries - but that's okay.

Strawberry and Spinach Salad (this serves about 8 people, so feel free to taper it to your size group)

  • 2 bunches of spinach, washed and torn into pieces (or 1 bag prewashed, torn into pieces)

  • 4 cups of fresh sliced strawberries

  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil

  • 1/2 cup white sugar

  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika

  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar

  • 3 pieces of crispy bacon, crumbled (optional)

  • 3 oz, crumbled goat cheese (optional)

  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds (you can always use more or less)

In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, sugar, vinegar and paprika together until combined. In a larger bowl, toss together the spinach, strawberries, slivered almonds, and bacon until combined. If you like your dressing mixed in, feel free to pour about half the dressing and toss together - or if you don't, throw the goat cheese on top and add whatever amount of dressing you want on top.