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I am working mom who loves to cook and bake. I hope to keep track of recipes and share some of my better ones. In the process, hopefully my photography and cooking will get better and better!

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Pineapple Magarita

I need cuter margarita glasses than the $1 specials at Big Y.  That is apparent.  But this recipe is really good.   Ina's recipe was too stiff for me, and Foodie Bride's was not converted easily to bulk.  And if I'm going to make margaritas, it's going to be a pitcher so I can sip them all week!  So I modifed Ina's in the spirit of Shawnda's, and it's a winner.

Pineapple Margarita
Adapted from Foodie Bride and Ina Garten

2 cups lime juice, about 20 limes (Nellie and Joe''s key west Lime juice in a bottle)
2 cups white tequila
2 cups Triple Sec
2 1/2 cups fresh pineapple juice
Simple syrup (made from 1/2 cup sugar and 1 cup water, heated until sugar dissolved)

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Tomatillo Glazed Baby Back ribs

Doesn't this site just make you weak?

Yeah, the ribs were good, too.  But having your husband slave over something in the kitchen for hours is a phenomenon known as barbecue.  Even better was that this recipe was conceived of, shopped for, and the whole nine yards by NOT yours truly.  Don't get me wrong, he plans and executes meals all the time, but usually they are pretty quick ones.  This one was blood, sweat, and tears.

Actually, kinda literally blood.  Dull knives, man, get you every time.  3 cheers for our local ER.  In and out in an hour.

But it was worth it.  The ribs were amazing.  And the glaze was unreal.  We used it as a dipping sauce, on chicken, and even to dip tortilla chips in.  Just awesome.  

Tomatillo glazed baby back ribs
Adapted from Food network.

Dry Rub and Ribs:
3 tablespoons chili powder
3 tablespoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

4 pounds pork baby back ribs

Tomatillo Glaze:
1 small onion, diced
3 tablespoons bacon fat
10 cloves garlic, chopped
10 tomatillos, husked, washed and roughly chopped
3 serrano chiles, sliced
1 large bunch fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
3 tablespoons maple syrup
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the dry rub and ribs: Combine the paprika, cumin, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Pat the spice mixture all over the ribs. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 2 to 4 hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F, or 250 degrees F with fan on in a convection oven.

Place ribs in a single layer in a baking pan and pour in water to a depth of about 1/2-inch. Bake, covered with foil, for 45 to 60 minutes in the oven (or on a grill with the lid closed). Uncover and bake until the meat is tender and beginning to pull away from the bones, an additional 45 to 60 minutes. Remove the ribs from the pan and reserve the pan juices to add to tomatillo glaze.

Meanwhile, make the tomatillo glaze: In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, saute the onions in the duck fat until golden. Add the garlic, tomatillos and serrano chiles and cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture thickens, 30 to 45 minutes. Add the reserved rib pan juices and cilantro and cook an additional 10 minutes. Puree with an immersion blender and add the maple syrup. Cook over low heat for 10 minutes, stirring constantly and being careful not to burn. Season with salt and pepper.

Turn the oven heat up to 450 degrees F, or preheat the grill. If finishing the ribs in the oven, brush generously with the glaze and bake another 10 minutes per side, basting with the glaze every 2 to 3 minutes. To grill, generously glaze the ribs and grill 5 minutes per side, frequently brushing with additional glaze. Cut the ribs apart and serve hot with extra glaze on the side.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Chipotle Ranch Dressing

I love homemade salad dressings.  I take great pleasure in making things from scratch, and keeping preservatives and god knows what else out of us.  Well, except for the adobo sauce bathing the chile peppers- that doesn't count!

This dressing has a good kick, and is great for dipping fries, salads, and sandwiches.   I think it's my new favorite!

Chipotle ranch dressing
Adapted from foodie bride 

3/4 cup mayo (low fat)
3/4 cup sour cream (low fat is fine; or you can replace half or all with fat-free Greek yogurt)
2-3 canned chipotle peppers with 1 Tbsp sauce
1 Tbsp lime juice
1 small bunch of chives
Small handful of cilantro
1 clove garlic
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 to 1/2 cup buttermilk (optional)

To make the dressing, place all dressing ingredients except the buttermilk in a blender.
Blend for 10 seconds. Check consistency and add buttermilk if desired (less buttermilk for dipping, more for dressing).
Store in an air-tight mason jar in the fridge for a week or more.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Chocolate Peanut Butter Sugar Free "Ice Cream"

Meet our new obsession.  No refined sugar, no dairy.   But sweet, creamy, and chocolatey.  The kids love it, and are completely fooled.  I am excited to make these into "fudgesicles."  True, it doesn't hold much of a candle to true homemade ice cream, but given how healthy it is, it is completely satisfying.  Good enough to have every night.

Not that I'd know that from personal experience.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Frozen Treat
Adapted from Sugar Free Mom

2 ripe bananas, preferably brown spotted
2 tablespoons peanut butter, all natural, no added sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa powder, unsweetened

Using a food processor, place the bananas in and let it go until you start seeing that is becoming very smooth, no lumps.
Add the peanut butter and continue to process until smooth again. Then add the cocoa and process again, taste and decide if you need any stevia.
Pour it into a serving dish and place it back in the freezer for 60 minutes.
Eat up!!!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Spicy Sweet Potato Fries

Baked sweet potato fries with a spicy topping?  These could make a meal in themselves, they're so good!   I love all things spicy, and the fact that these are baked makes them irresistible.

Spicy Baked Sweet Potato Fries
Adapted from foodie bride

For the sweet potato fries:
3-4 Tbsp oil (coconut recommended)
1 lb sweet potatoes (2 medium, no longer than ~5-6 inches long)
1 tsp ancho chile powder (substitute regular chile powder if you can
2 tsp chile powder
2 tablespoons corn starch
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/8 tsp garlic powder
Dash of cinnamon
Pinch of salt and black pepper

To make the fries, coat a baking sheet with 3 Tbsp of oil, adding the last Tbsp if necessary.

Preheat the oven and baking sheet to 450.

Peel and slice the sweet potatoes into 1/4-inch sticks (no longer than ~5 inches long).
In a large zipper bag, mix the dry spices together.
Add the sweet potato fries, zip close, and shake to coat the fries evenly.
Carefully put the fries onto the baking sheet and bake for ~20 minutes, flipping halfway through - this is easier to do by shaking the pan if you place the fries parallel to the long side of the pan, a couple of back-and-forth shakes will suffice.
Turn on the broiler for the last 1-2 minutes, just until the tips of the fries begin to turn black. Stand watch!!!! They will burn.

Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate in a single layer until ready to serve.

Dip them in Chipotle Ranch Dressing or the Comme Ca sauce!!!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Curried Chicken Salad

I have been addicted to this salad at my work.  I've been looking for a replica, and this salad does my work one better!  I love that it has no rice, that the raisins get plump with the curry mayo-yogurt mix.  It's a nice sweetness, and it also makes sure my husband will stay away from my "raisin salad."
This is a great weekday lunch!

Curried Chicken Salad

3-4 tablespoons mayonnaise
3-4 tablespoons plain or Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon curry powder
Large pinch cayenne pepper
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 cups cooked, chopped chicken
2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
1 cup red grapes, halved; or raisins, or chopped apple
2 scallions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro or parsley

In a medium bowl, combine the mayonnaise, yogurt, curry powder, salt and pepper. Add the chicken, celery, fruit and scallions and toss to coat evenly with the yogurt mixture. Stir in the cilantro/parsley. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to four days.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Spicy Turkey Lettuce Wraps

So we try to eat healthy, and we also try to avoid carbs at night.  We have a lot of weight influenced health problems in my family, so we are particularly cautious about the scale.  That means we endlessly are looking for protein rich, veggie rich, and flavor rich meals.  This fits the bill on all accounts.  Although I used romaine, I really think butter lettuce or good old iceberg would be a good choice.  The carrots and water chestnuts add great crunch!!!

Spicy Turkey Lettuce Wraps
Adapted from Melissa D'arabian

12 ounces ground turkey
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
8 ounces white mushrooms, chopped
3 scallions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
One 6-ounce can water chestnuts, chopped

1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

Drizzling Sauce:
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard or spicy mustard
1 tablespoon Sriracha sauce
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

8 to 12 large iceberg lettuce leaves, cleaned and dry
Shredded carrots, for serving
Bean sprouts, for serving
Chopped fresh cilantro, for serving

For the filling: Brown the turkey in the oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat until no longer pink. Add the mushrooms, scallions, garlic and water chestnuts, and cook until the mushrooms soften. In a small bowl, mix the soy sauce, brown sugar and vinegar, pour over the turkey mixture and cook 1 minute. Remove from the heat.

For the drizzling sauce: In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, vinegar, honey, mustard, Sriracha, sesame oil and 1/4 cup water.

Serve the turkey mixture with the lettuce leaves, drizzling sauce and vegetables for lettuce wrap assembly.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Homemade Chicken Nuggets & Honey Mustard Sauce

OK, so my daughter loved these.  I loved them, my husband loved them-  my son refused them.  After all, they are distinctly NOT in a dinosaur shape.  Mea culpa.  No accounting for taste.  The honey mustard sauce is very mild, not very sweet, but just a nice hint of mustard without being neither acrid nor bland.

Honey Mustard Sauce
Adapted from All Recipes

1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons prepared yellow mustard
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice

Mix the mayonnaise, yellow mustard, Dijon mustard, honey, and lemon juice together in a bowl. Cover and chill in refrigerator overnight.

Chicken Nuggets
Adapted from Bobby Deen and Sugar Free Mom

1 lb chicken thighs, trimmed of fat
1 tsp. salt, and 1 tsp salt, divided
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
1 tsp. garlic powder
4 cups ground corn flakes
1 eggs white
butter spray

Preheat oven to 400 F.
Place chicken, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, pepper and 1 tsp. of salt in the food processor and process until smooth.

Combine 1 tsp salt with cornflakes in a bowl and beaten egg white in another bowl.

Liberally spray a cookie sheet with baking spray.

Using a small cookie scoop or tablespoon, roll the chicken paste into a ball and flatten. I suggest making as many as will fit into your egg bowl before coating them in flour as your fingers get quite sticky.

After dipping in egg on both sides, dip into cornflakes.

 Make sure both sides are coated well. Place them on a baking sheet and flatten slightly.  Spray tops with cooking spray, bake for 8-10 minutes.  Flip over and broil for 60 seconds at close range if more crisp is desired.  (see right most nugget...)

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Spinach Artichoke spread, Mozzarella, and Sun dried Tomato Chicken sandwiches

Mmmm.   This sandwich has a lot of components, but they all work.  It's the perfect sandwich for a lunch with someone special-  easy to prep in advance, but thoroughly impressive in a "yes, you're special" kind of way.  You can even grill the chicken in advance, but I like the temperature contrast with the spinach spread!

Adapted from Jeff Mauro

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup Balsamic  vinegar

Spinach and Artichoke Spread:
5 ounces (1/2 a box) frozen chopped spinach, defrosted, drained
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 clove garlic, grated
1 lemon, zested and juiced
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
One 6-ounce jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained

Sandwich Build:
Fresh Focaccia, recipe follows
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, sliced into thin strips
1 pound ball fresh mozzarella, sliced into 1/4-inch slices
2 cups arugula

For the chicken: Marinate the chicken in the Balsamic for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours in the refrigerator.

Preheat a grill pan or grill over medium-high heat.

Let any excess marinade drip off the chicken, and then grill the chicken for 5 to 6 minutes per side until cooked through. Once cooked, let rest 5 to 10 minutes. Then slice thinly on the bias.

For the spinach and artichoke spread: Squeeze the drained spinach with a kitchen towel to dry it out. Place into a food processor with the sour cream, mayonnaise, garlic, lemon zest and juice. Puree until smooth. Taste for seasoning and add the artichokes. Pulse 2 to 3 times to leave the artichokes slightly chunky.

For the sandwich build: Cut the Fresh Focaccia in half into triangles.  Spread each half with Spinach Artichoke Spread. Then, on the bottom of the bread, sprinkle over the sliced sun-dried tomatoes, top with chicken slices, place a layer of mozzarella down and top with arugula. Place on the other half of bread.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Minny's Chocolate Pie

I don't know if you've read The Help, but if not, I highly suggest it.  And if you have, surely you are wondering why in the heck I ever did a google search for the recipe for Minny's chocolate pie.  But, I did.  And I'm not sorry.  LeeAnn Fleming made 55 chocolate pies and settled on this recipe for the highly regarded Minny's representation.

Now, you know I also adore my mother-in-law's chocolate pie, but I wanted to try to make one I could call my own.  Different, but still yummy.  This one is very rich and delicious!

Adapted from LeeAnn Fleming

1 pie dough crust (I use this one)

1 1/2 cups sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs, beaten
3/4 cup evaporated milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
Whipped cream, for serving, or make Mile High Meringue

Preheat the oven to 350°. Ease the pie crust into a 9-inch pie plate and crimp the edges decoratively. Prick the crust lightly with a fork. Line the crust with foil or parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 15 minutes or until set. Remove the foil and weights and bake for about 5 minutes longer, just until the crust is dry but not browned.

Meanwhile, in a bowl, whisk the sugar with the cocoa powder, butter, eggs, evaporated milk, vanilla and salt until smooth.

Pour the filling into the pie shell and bake for about 45 minutes, until the filling is set around the edges but a little wiggly in the center. Cover the crust with strips of foil halfway through baking.

Transfer the pie to a rack and let cool completely before cutting into wedges. Serve with whipped cream.

The chocolate pie can - and should- be refrigerated overnight.

Thursday, June 7, 2012


This stuff is the real deal.  Smells amazing, tastes amazing. Easy.  Adaptable.  I've even had it for breakfast.  It tastes just like your favorite sandwich shop's fancy focaccia, but fresher!  Consider yourself spoiled.

Adapted from Jeff Mauro

2 cups warm water (105 to 110 degrees F)
1 tablespoon sugar
2 packages active dry yeast
4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary, finely chopped, plus leaves, for garnish
1 cup olive oil, plus more for brushing
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan

Place the water in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the sugar, sprinkle the yeast over the water and let it bloom until bubbly, 5 to 15 minutes.

In a mixing bowl, combine the all-purpose and wheat flours together with the salt and chopped rosemary. Gradually add the flour mixture to the bloomed yeast in the mixing bowl. Then add 1/2 cup of the olive oil.

Using the dough hook attachment, mix the dough on medium speed until it becomes smooth and soft, 8 to 10 minutes. The dough will be very loose put not really sticky because of the olive oil.

Transfer the dough to a clean, floured surface and knead the dough by hand for 2 to 3 minutes.

Wipe out the bowl you mixed the dough in and then coat the bowl with some olive oil. Return the dough to the oiled bowl and let it rest in a warm place, covered with a dish towel, until doubled in size, 30 to 35 minutes.

Oil a 9-by-13-inch baking sheet with the remaining 1/2 cup olive oil. Spread the dough into the pan using your fingertips to create dimples into the dough. The more dimples you make, the more texture the bread will have.

Using a pastry brush, oil the dough and place leaves of rosemary into some of the dimples. Sprinkle with the Parmesan. Cover the dough again with the towel and let rest in a warm spot until doubled in size, another 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 425 degree F and set a rack in the middle of the oven.

Bake the dough until golden brown, 35 to 40 minutes.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Pulled Chicken Sandwich

I never stop looking for easy, tasty meals that are ready when I come home for dinner after work.  This has to be my favorite pulled chicken recipe I've tried.  I put it in the slow cooker at night, then the fridge and just heated it at night, but if you are at home doing it during the day would be even easier.

It's not spicy, just flavorful!

Adapted from Alida's Kitchen

1 pound chicken breast, boneless, skinless
1 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons Sriracha sauce (or regular hot sauce), adjust to taste
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
4 whole wheat buns, toasted
1 cup broccoli slaw (optional, for topping)

Put raw chicken in a slowcooker.
Whisk the ketchup, mustard, vinegar, sugar, hot sauce, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika and cumin until combined. Pour over chicken and cover, cook on low for 6-8 hours.  Shred chicken with 2 forks.

Divide chicken evenly among buns and top with pickles or slaw, as desired. Serve immediately.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Moo Shu Chicken

We make moo shu chicken quite a bit.

It's a great meal without the flour tortillas, because it's light but satisfying without a lot of nighttime carbs.  You can play with it too- add bean sprouts, red peppers, a little crushed red pepper- any of the above!
A vegetarian permutation is easy to imagine, too- just add more egg and omit the meat.

Moo Shu Chicken or Pork
Adapted from Martha Stewart

1 teaspoon plus 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 pork tenderloin or chicken breast (about 1 pound), halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 pound shiitake mushrooms (stems removed), caps thinly sliced
2 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger
1/2 head napa cabbage, shredded
5 oz snow peas
5 scallions, thinly sliced
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup rice vinegar
Flour tortillas and hoisin sauce, for serving if desired

In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 teaspoon oil over medium. Add eggs; cook, without stirring, until set, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board. When cool enough to handle, roll up, and slice crosswise into 1/4-inch-wide strips; set aside. Wipe skillet clean; reserve.

Place pork or chicken in a medium bowl, and sprinkle with cornstarch. Season with salt and pepper, and toss to coat. In reserved skillet, heat remaining tablespoon oil over medium-high. Add pork, and cook until browned on one side, 4 to 5 minutes (pork/chicken will cook more later); transfer to a plate (reserve skillet).

Combine mushrooms and ginger in skillet; season with salt and pepper. Cook until mushrooms are just browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Add cabbage, scallions, snow peas, soy sauce, vinegar, egg strips, and pork; cook, tossing occasionally, until cabbage has wilted and pork/chicken is opaque, 2 to 3 minutes.

Stack tortillas between damp paper towels; microwave on high for 2 minutes. To assemble, spread center of a tortilla with hoisin sauce; top with moo shu filling, and roll up.