Diary of a Foodie

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Craisan Nut Bark

Here's another super easy candy to add to your holiday baking and making. Feel free to add any ingredients that you like and take anything out that your don't.

Craisan Nut Bark

24 ounces white chocolate
3/4 c dried cranberries (Craisans)
1/2 c chopped walnuts
1/2 c whole almonds
1/2 c shelled pistachios

In a double boiler, melt the white chocolate over medium heat. Once melted, pour onto a Sil-Pat or parchment paper. Using an offset spatula, smooth chocolate out until about 1/3 inch thickness. Sprinkle on dried cranberries and nuts. Using hand, gently press fruit and nuts into the chocolate so they will set into it. Let cool on counter for at least 1 hour. Break into smaller pieces, about 1X1 inch squares. Store in a cool, dry place.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Braised Beef Short Ribs with Cheesy Polenta

We've had this meal twice in the last two weeks. I generally do not like to repeat a meal even within the month, so to have it twice in two weeks just tells you how much the entire family loved it. It does take a few hours to make it, but most of the time it spent braising in the oven, so no extra work is needed from you. Just make sure to plan ahead for dinner when making this dish to give it enough time to become tender.

Braised Beef Short Ribs

6-8 bone-in beef short ribs (plan on one per person)
1 cup flour
2 tsp Kosher salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 white onion, peeled and diced
3 large carrots, peeled and chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 TBSP tomato paste
4 cups beef stock
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried rosemary

Heat 1/3 c vegetable oil in a large saute pan, that has a lid, over medium high heat. Dredge short ribs in flour that has been seasoned with salt and pepper. Once oil is hot, sear the short ribs on each side, until browned. Remove meat from pan once browned. Pour out any burned drippings from the saute pan. Add 1/4 c vegetable oil back into the same saute pan. Add celery, onion, carrots, garlic, and tomato paste. Cooked over medium heat, until softened slightly, about 5 minutes. Add the short ribs to the vegetables. Pour over the beef stock, thyme, and rosemary. Place lid on the saute pan and place in a preheated 350 degree F oven. Braise in oven for 3-4 hours. About an hour in, taste the broth to check for salt and pepper levels. Add as needed. After 3-4 hours, remove from oven and serve over cheesy polenta, or mashed potatoes.

Cheesy Polenta 

1 c polenta (not quick cooking polenta)
3 cups water
4 TBSP butter
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup milk
1/2 c grated Parmesan

In a large stock pot, bring water to a boil. Add butter and polenta, stirring vigorously. Continue stirring over medium heat. Let cook for 15-20 minutes. Mixture will be thick and may bubble up-be careful as it can burn your skin. After 15-20 minutes, stir in 1 cup heavy cream. Cook while stirring for another 10 minutes. Add 1 cup milk and the Parmesan cheese, cooking for another 5 minutes. Serve immediately with the short ribs. 

Triple Nut English Toffee

Tis the season to make candy and treats for friends, family, and neighbors. This is an easy addition to any treat box. I've been tinkering with my mom's original recipe and I think this one is a winner.

Triple Nut English Toffee

1 lb butter
2 1/2 c white sugar
4 TBSP water
2 TBSP Karo corn syrup
1 c chopped almonds
1 c chopped walnuts
1 c chopped pecans
2 c semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips

Prepare a cookie sheet by greasing it and sprinkling the pan with all the nuts. The cooked sugar will be poured over the nuts, so set it aside for assembly.

In a large cast iron skillet, melt butter, sugar, water, and corn syrup over medium heat, stirring often. Bring to a boil and allow to cook for 15-20 minutes, until temp on a candy thermometer reaches 300-310 degrees F. Color will be a medium brown color. Once toffee has reached this temperature, remove from stove and pour it over the nuts on the cookie sheet. BE CAREFUL! Cooked sugar is very hot! Spread toffee evenly over the nuts. Allow to cool for 10-15 minutes. After it has cooled slightly, pour chocolate chips over the top and allow the warm toffee to melt the chips. Using a spatula, smooth the chocolate over the top of t
he toffee. Allow to cool completely, about an hour. Using hands or a knife, break toffee into smaller pieces.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Salted Caramel Apple Pecan Rolls

My dad has a great apple tree in his yard. It only produces apples every other year, but this was our lucky year! Baking in the Fall means apples, cinnamon, pumpkin, cloves, nutmeg. I combined apple pie and pecan sticky buns in this recipe to make a delicious new hybrid.

Salted Caramel Apple Pecan Rolls


1 cup warm milk (between 105-115 degrees F)
1/3 cup melted butter (no margarine, that is of the devil)
1 T quick acting yeast
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 t salt
4 1/2 cups all purpose flour

Preheat oven to 400 F. In a stand mixer, (I use my Kitchen Aid) with the bread hook attachment, add the warm milk, melted butter, yeast and sugar. Set on low speed and let mix for 2 minutes. Turn mixer off and let yeast activate for 10 minutes. You might see bubbling, which is good. Very good. If your milk was too hot, you'll kill the yeast and have to start over. Good rule of thumb is to have the milk the same temp as bath water. Too hot for your fingers, too hot for yeast. After yeast has bloomed, add the eggs one at a time and let mix. Sprinkle in salt and half the flour. Let the bread work for about 2 minutes and then add the rest of the flour. Let mix for a good 5 minutes. Keeping the dough in your bowl, place dough, covered with a clean kitchen towel, in a warm area of your kitchen. I place my dough on the stove while the oven is preheating. Let the dough rise for at least an hour but up to 3 hours. 

Apple Cinnamon Filling
4-6 large apples, peeled, cored, diced small (use a good baking apple- honey crisp, gala, fuji, granny smith, golden delicious, etc...)
3 TBSP butter
1/2 c light brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 TBSP corn starch

In a medium sized saute pan, melt butter over medium heat. Add diced apples, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and corn starch. Cook apples for about 10 minutes, or until slightly softened, but not mushy.  Remove from heat and allow to cool before assembly.

Caramel Sauce:

1 stick butter
1 c brown sugar
2 tsp Kosher salt
1/4 c heavy cream
1 cup toasted whole pecans, chopped

Butter a 9X13 casserole dish and set aside. In a medium sauce pan, melt the butter. Add the brown sugar and cook till sugar is completely dissolved and smooth, about 5-7 minutes. Take off heat and add the salt and heavy cream. Stir till cream is completely incorporated. Pour caramel sauce into the prepared 9X13 pan, spreading it evenly over the bottom. Sprinkle the caramel with the whole pecans and set aside.


Once your dough has risen for at least an hour, pour it out onto a floured flat counter. Roll dough into a 16X12 inch rectangle. Spread the cinnamon apples over the dough evenly. Roll the dough into a jelly roll. Cut dough into rolls about 3/4 inch thick. Place in the caramel sauce,  12 rolls per pan. Place rolls back in a warm area and let rise again for at least 30 minutes. Bake at 400 degrees for 15-18 minutes, or until golden brown on the edges. Remove from oven and immediately turn the rolls out onto a cookie sheet, being careful of the hot caramel sauce. Scoop any pecans and caramel out of the 9X13 pan and spread onto the rolls. Ready to eat.

Taco Soup

Fall is clearly in the air; crisp nights, leaves on the ground, boots on my feet. I love this time of year! And with it being Fall, that makes it soup season. Soups are so easy and quick to make. On a busy school night, I can have a soup ready in 30 minutes or less. It's such a great go-to meal.

Taco Soup

1 lb ground hamburger
1 TSBP chili powder
1 TBSP salt
1 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp dried Mexican oregano
1/2 tsp ground cayenne
1/2 yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups beef broth or stock
1 can Rotel tomatoes (mild or hot depending on your heat preference)
2 cans black beans, drained
2 cups frozen corn

In a large soup pot, brown ground hamburger until completely cooked through. Add all seasonings to browned meat and cook for about 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add diced onion and garlic. Cook for an additional 5 minutes. Add beef broth, Rotel tomatoes, beans, and corn. Bring to a boil, cover with lid, reduce heat to simmer. Simmer for 20 minutes. Serve immediately with tortilla chips, cheese, sour cream, and/or jalepenos.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Southern Mac and Cheese

There a few distinct differences between how most mac and cheese is made and Southern mac and cheese. Most notably is that eggs are added to the Southern version as a thickener, instead of a regular butter and flour roux.

As my husband is from the South, he never really loved my original recipe with a flour and butter base because it is not what he grew up with. I've been trying for several years to get a Southern version right, and this one is just cheesy deliciousness.

Southern Mac and Cheese

1 lb box elbow macaroni
2 c milk
1/4 c diced yellow onion
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (reserve 3/4 cup of this for topping)
1/2 c monterey jack cheese, shredded
1/2 c muenster cheese, shredded
1 TSBP Frank's hot sauce
1 TSBP Kosher salt
2 tsp ground black pepper
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bring 10 cups of water to a boil in a large pot. Add 2 TSBP salt to water and add macaroni. Cook according to package directions, about 8 minutes. While pasta is boiling, in a separate bowl, whisk together milk, onion, salt, pepper, hot sauce, and eggs. Whisk until everything is well incorporated. Drain pasta once it is done cooking, and run it under cold water until pasta is cooled completely. This is a very important step, otherwise you will have scrambled eggs, not creamy mac and cheese. Once pasta has been cooled completely, add it to a greased 9X13 inch pan. Mix the cheeses into the pasta, (except for reserved 3/4 c cheddar for the topping). Pour the egg milk mixture over the pasta and stir. Sprinkle the remaining cheddar over the top of the pasta. Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes, or until top is bubbling and browned. Remove from oven and let set for 10 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Chicken CousCous Soup

It's been rainy and cold the last few days. Perfect Fall weather! Which in turn, means perfect soup weather. This recipe is just a take off of classic chicken noodle soup. I made the stock from scratch, as I had roasted a chicken the night before. I pulled off the leftover chicken off the bones before making the stock and reserved it for the soup. If you have not roasted a chicken to use the bones for the stock, either buy a whole chicken and make stock from that, or feel free to substitute canned chicken stock. Although, homemade always tastes way better.

Chicken CousCous Soup

To make Chicken Stock:
One whole chicken (or the bones and skin leftover from roasting a chicken)
12 cups water
3 stalks celery, cut in half
one yellow onion, peeled and cut in half
3 carrots, cut in half
1 TBSP salt
1 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp dried sage
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried oregano

Put all ingredients in a large stock pot. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover with lid, and allow to simmer away for 3 hours. After three hours, turn off heat, and allow stock to cool slightly. Using kitchen tongs or large spoons, remove the whole chicken and the vegetables. Throw the vegetables away, BUT reserve the chicken. Remove the skin and pull chicken off the bones, shredding it into bite size pieces. Save the pulled chicken for the soup. Using a spoon, remove any impurities off the top of the chicken stock.

To make soup:

12 cups chicken stock (homemade or canned)
2 cups cooked, shredded chicken
3 stalks of celery, diced
3 carrots, peeled and diced
4 green onions, chopped
1 cup plain couscous
salt and pepper to taste (this will vary based on tastes and how salty the stock is)
**If you use canned chicken stock, add 1 tsp dried thyme, 1 tsp  dried oregano, and 1 tsp dried sage at the same time you add the vegetables**

Bring stock and vegetables to a boil, allowing them to soften softly, about 10 minutes. Add cooked chicken and couscous. Cover pot with lid and cook for 5 minutes, allowing couscous to cook. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Serve warm.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Salted Caramel Popcorn

It's safe to say that we love popcorn around this house. We love to get together as a family on Sunday nights, curl up in a snuggly blanket, pop in a movie and watch it, all while munching on a side of popcorn. Same old buttery, salty popcorn gets boring. In this recipe, I took my mom's basic caramel corn recipe and added a whole lot of Kosher salt.

Salted Caramel Popcorn

1 cup popcorn kernels
1/3 c vegetable oil

In a large, 8-10 qt size pot with a lid (very important), heat oil and kernels over medium high heat. Place lid on pot and cook kernels until most are popped; about 3 seconds between kernels popping means that you are done. I shake the pan every 20 seconds to make sure the heavier kernels stay at the bottom of the pan to keep popping.

Pour popped kernals into a large serving bowl. Take a dry paper towel and wipe out the inside of the pot you cooked the popcorn in, to now use it to make the caramel sauce.

Salted Cararmel

2 sticks butter
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 c light corn syrup (Karo)
1 TSBP Kosher salt
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp baking soda

Melt the butter in the pot over medium high heat. Once it has melted, add the corn syrup, brown sugar, and salt. Stir until the sugar is melted, about 2-3 minutes. After the sugar has melted, do not stir it again. Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes. Once large, tight bubbles form, remove from heat, add vanilla and baking soda. Be careful as it will bubble violently at this point. Take a new, clean spoon and stir until baking soda and vanilla are incorporated. Pour immediately over the popped corn. Stir with a spoon until all popcorn is coated. Let set for 5 minutes before eating.

Peaches and Cream Topped Cinnamon Sugar French Toast

Another long name to a fantastic dinner (or brinner, if you will), but I promise you it is something you need to try today! Peaches are in peak season and this is one of the most delicious ways to use them.

My family requests breakfast for dinner almost weekly. We all love French toast, waffles, pancakes. You know, all the carby goodness. This was son #3's request for dinner this past week, and I may have given him extra treats that night as a, "thank you, you genius boy".

Peaches and Cream Topped Cinnamon Sugar French Toast

1 loaf Texas toast, or one loaf sliced Brioche bread
5 eggs
3 cups milk
1 TBSP cinnamon
1/4 c sugar
1 TBSP vanilla
1/2 tsp salt



1 TBSP sugar
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
Stir til well mixed. Set aside for assembly.

In a large bowl, whisk together milk, eggs, cinnamon, sugar, vanilla, and salt. Heat up griddle or nonstick skillet to medium low heat (about 250 degrees on a griddle).  Once griddle is warmed up, take 1 TSBP of butter and melt it over the surface. Take sliced bread and dip it in the custard mixture on both sides. Immediately place on hot griddle and cook for about 3-4 minutes per side, or until browned. My griddle can cook 8 slices of bread at time, your griddle may vary, but do no overcrowd the pan/griddle, or bread will steam instead of browning. When French toast is cooked through on both sides. remove from griddle, and sprinkle both sides with cinnamon sugar mixture. Top with fresh peaches and fresh whipped cream.

Peaches and Cream

3-4 peaches, sliced, and sprinkled with Stay Fresh Fruit preserver, or lemon juice
(this will keep fruit from browning)

1 cup fresh heavy cream
1/4 c powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Whip together cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla, until stiff peaks form.

Top fresh toast with 4-5 slices of peaches and a dollop of fresh whipped cream.
Serve warm.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Grilled Chicken Tostada Bowls

Looking for new ways to eat healthier is not always easy when you have 4 boys that just want to eat chicken nuggets all day. We love tacos around this place so I thought I would find new ways to add more vegetables and use more figure friendly chicken breast.

Grilled Chicken Tostada Bowls

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 TBSP Kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp ground chile powder
juice and zest of one lime
1/4 c vegetable oil

Pour vegetable oil, lime juice and zest, and seasonings in a gallon Ziploc bag. Place chicken in bag and rub seasonings all over the chicken. Let chicken marinate in fridge for about 2-4 hours. Grill chicken for 6-8 minutes per side, or until no longer pink inside. Remove chicken from grill and allow it to rest 5 minutes before cutting chicken into chunks. 

2 cans black beans, drain, and heat through with 1 clove garlic, minced
3 cups Romaine lettuce, chopped
1 cup black olives, sliced
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded

6 whole wheat flour tortillas
cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Turn a cupcake/muffin pan upside down and spray with cooking spray. Take each flour tortilla and fold over the cupcake mold to make the tortilla into a bowl. Bake the tortillas on an upside down cupcake pan for 8-10 minutes, or until slightly brown. Once browned, remove from oven and flip the tortillas off the pan and let them cool before filling.

Fill the flour tortilla tostada bowl with 1/3 cup black beans, 1/3 c cheese, salsa, chopped chicken, lettuce, olives, and cherry tomatoes.

Ropa Vieja

I like to try foods from around the world and I am fascinated by Cuban food. Heavily seasoned but not spicy, Ropa Viejha (rope-uh vee-aa-ha) literally means old clothes. The beef in this dish is shredded after a long braising time to look like old clothes. Hence the name. It is a great and easy way to try new flavors.

Ropa Vieja

2 lb flank steak
3 large tomatoes, seeded, and diced
1 red bell pepper, seeded, and chopped into 1 inch pieces
1/2 yellow onion, peeled and chopped into 1 inch pieces
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup tomato sauce
2 tsp Kosher salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground chile powder
1/2 tsp Mexican oregano

Put meat in crockpot and sprinkle with the seasonings. Pour the vegetables and tomato sauce over the meat. Turn crockpot to high and cook for 6-8 hours, or until beef is easily shredded with two forks. Shred meat and place back into cooking liquid. To be authentic, serve over rice with black beans as a side. I served it to my family in softened corn tortillas, topped with black beans, and cheese.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Supreme Pizza Pasta Bake

Several years ago, while at staying at our family's cabin with some friends, we had Pizza Pasta Bake for dinner. It was penne pasta, pasta sauce, cheese, topped with pepperoni. It was really good! Over the last couple years, I've experimented on this basic recipe and come up with this latest version...
Supreme Pizza Pasta Bake. I've tried to scale back on the fat and use a whole wheat pasta and turkey sausage and pepperoni, to get this healthier. Hope you enjoy!

Supreme Pizza Pasta Bake

1 lb whole wheat pasta (penne or elbow macaroni)
2 links mild turkey Italian sausage (Jennie-O and Johnsonville make these)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup sliced black olives
1 cup sliced button mushrooms
1/2 c diced yellow onion
1 green bell pepper, diced
8 oz package turkey pepperoni
1 cup part skim mozzarella cheese, grated
1 jar of your favorite pasta sauce (or make here)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bring 10 cups of water to a boil and add 1 TBSP salt to water. Cook pasta according to package directions to al dente (about 10 minutes). While pasta is cooking, in a non-stick skillet over medium heat, cook the turkey sausage all the way through, About 10 minutes, turning often. Once sausage is cooked through, remove it from pan and let it rest. At this point, pasta should be done. Drain the pasta, add the pasta back into the pot it was cooked in,  and set it aside for assembly. In the same skillet the sausage was cooked in, add 1 TBSP olive oil, garlic, olives, mushrooms, onions, and peppers. Saute the vegetables over medium heat for 5 minutes.
Chop the cooked sausage into bit sized pieces and add to the cooked pasta. Add the sautéed vegetables to the pasta and sausage. Pour in marinara sauce and stir till all ingredients are coated. Pour the pasta into a greased 9X13 pan. Top the pasta with the shredded cheese and pepperoni. Bake uncovered in 350 degree oven for 25 minutes. Serve hot with garlic bread or salad.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Parmesan Chili Corn on the Cob

Need an easy summer side for your next barbecue? This is fast and delicious.

Parmesan Chili Corn on the Cob

8 ears of fresh corn, husks removed and clean the corn
1/2 cup melted butter
1 tsp chili powder
2 lines, cut into wedges
1 cup Grated Parmesan cheese

Boil or grill corn until done (about minutes total. If grilling, turn corn often to avoid burning). Once corn is cooked, roll the corn in melted butter. Sprinkle with chili powder, squeeze one lime wedge on each each, the sprinkle about 1/8 cup of cheese on each ear of corn. Serve warm.

Chicken Al Pastor Kabobs

I have been slacking big time when it comes to posting recipes. I've felt a little burned out and pulled in different directions. When I had a few friends ask about it lately, I felt ready to tackle food blogging again. I hope you love the new additions.

As a family, we are trying to eat healthier and watch the carbs that we are eating. To this end, we wanted to revisit some recipes but tweak them to a healthier version. Today, we decided to try Al pastor again, without the tortillas, and with chicken, not pork. It may be better than the original. Try it this week for a great, delicious, easy dinner.

Chicken Al Pastor Kabobs 

2 lb chicken tenderloins, cut into 1 inch chunks
1 cup orange juice
1 cup pineapple juice
Chipotles in adobo sauce, 2 chipotles and 2 TBSP adobo sauce
1 tsp Mexican oregano
1 TBSP New Mexican chile powder
2 tsp Ancho chile powder
1 TBSP Kosher salt
2 tsp ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic
1/2 yellow onion
juice of one lime

One large yellow onion cut into thick chunks
Fresh pineapple, peeled, cored, cut into chunks

Cut chicken tenderloins into small chunks and add to a gallon Ziplock bag. In a blender, add all other ingredients and blend until smooth. Pour over the chicken chunks, onion pieces, and pineapple chunks,  and marinate in the fridge for 4 hours. Heat BBQ grill to about 300 degrees. On metal kabob skewers, alternate pieces of chicken, onion, and pineapple. Grill the skewers  3-4 minutes per side, being sure not to overcook. Once cooked through, remove from grill and cover with foil and allow meat to rest for 5 minutes before eating.

Chop fresh cilantro and sprinkle over grilled skewers. Serve warm with lime wedges.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Spicy and Sweet Steak Chili

Up until a few years ago, I never really made chili. We didn't really eat it a lot growing up and I don't think it looks very appetizing. But, my family likes it so I set about to make it into something I liked and would eat. I've played around with different spices, meats, beans, etc... and this is the final recipe.

Spicy and Sweet Steak Chili

1 1/2 lbs steak stew meat
1/2 yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups beef stock
1-14 oz can diced tomatoes
1-8 oz can tomato sauce
1 TBSP salt
2 tsp black pepper
1 TBSP chili powder
2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 1/2 tsp New Mexican chili powder
3/4 tsp Chipotle chili powder
1 tsp cumin
3 TSBP honey
1-14 oz can black beans, drained
1-14 oz can red kidney beans, drained

In a large stock pot, add 1 TSBP olive oil to pan and heat over medium high heat. Add the stew meat and brown the meat, about 5 minutes. Add the onion and garlic, saute for 5 minutes. Add all the seasonings; salt, pepper, the chili powders, cayenne, and cumin. Cook the seasonings onto the meat for about 2 minutes. Pour in the beef stock, diced tomatoes, and tomato sauce. Cover the pot, lower heat to low, and simmer for 90 minutes. Stir every 20 minutes or so.  (Don't have 90 minutes? Simmer for at least 30. The longer it simmers, the more tender the meat will be.)  After the meat has simmered and tenderized, add the honey and drained beans, stirring to mix all ingredients. Remove lid and simmer for another 20 minutes. Taste to check for seasonings. Add salt and pepper as needed. (want it spicier? Add more cayenne or even fresh jalepeno.)  Serve with sour cream, cheese, fresh onions, green onions, cilantro, lime, and/or tortilla chips, or corn bread.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Braised Jerk Chicken Tacos

This is my 100th Post on In The Kitch with T Mitch. That's very exciting...for me, at least. I hope you have enjoyed and tried some of the recipes I post on here. As a simple home cook, I wonder if I am even getting my ideas across or if my recipes make sense to anyone but me.  Please let me know your thoughts or ideas you would like to see in the future.

Braised Jerk Chicken Tacos

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 TSBP Jerk seasoning (can be found at any grocery store)
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 green onions, chopped
1 TSBP apple cider vinegar
1/3 c orange juice
1/3 c honey

In a crockpot or an oven safe pot with a lid, place the chicken inside. Sprinkle with seasonings. Add garlic, onions, vinegar, orange juice and honey. Cook in crockpot set to high, for 4-6 hours, or in oven set at 350 degrees for 2-3 hours. Remove chicken from pot and cover with aluminum foil, allowing meat to rest for 15 minutes. Once chicken has rested, use hands or two forks to shred the meat. Add the meat back into the cooking liquid to await assembly.

Taco Toppings

1 whole, fresh pineapple, peeled, cored, and diced
1- 14 ounce can black beans, drained and heated through
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
2 green onions, diced
1/2 c fresh cilantro, chopped
15-18 corn tortillas, softened (to soften a tortilla, add 1 tsp vegetable oil to a non-stick skillet over medium low heat, turning tortillas after 15-20 seconds, then remove them to a plate for assembly)


Take softened, corn tortilla and add shredded cheese to center of tortilla. Top with black beans, shredded chicken, pineapple, green onions, and cilantro. Eat warm.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Key Lime Pie

I'm not usually a fan of key lime flavors. It is usually fake tasting (artificial flavoring) or too tart. I hate tart and sour things. YUCK. So, in this lime curd, it is a perfect balance of sweet and tart.

Key Lime Pie

Lime Curd

1 stick butter
5 limes, zest and juice
1 3/4 c sugar
4 eggs

 In a stand mixer, cream together butter, zest and sugar until smooth. Add the juice of the limes and the eggs one at a time, mixing on low. Transfer mixture into a large sauce pan and cook over low heat for about 10-15 minutes, stirring often. DO NOT LET THIS BOIL. While it is cooking, it may look curdled, but just keep stirring and let it cook and come back together. When it thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, it's done. Remove from heat and cool in fridge completely before using it.

1- 9 inch graham cracker crust (premade are great!)

 Whipped Cream
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 c powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Whip together heavy cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla with a stand mixer with whisk attachment, or with hand mixer. Whip until stiff peaks appear. Pour cooled lime curd into the prepared pie crust. Pipe whipped cream onto curd in any pattern you would like. Don't want to pipe? Just spread whipped cream over the pie evenly. Keep pie in fridge. Serves 8.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Caprese Chicken Linguine

Sometimes dinner ideas come to mind just based on what I have in the house. This is how this recipe came about. I was looking in the fridge for some inspiration and I had all the ingredients for a caprese salad. Knowing I needed to turn it into a full meal, I added chicken and
pasta and this was created. The entire family ate it and asked for seconds. Hope you like it too.

Caprese Chicken Linguine

1 lb linguine
2 chicken breasts
1 lb grape tomatoes, halved
3 cloves garlic, minced
1- 14 oz can low sodium chicken broth
2 eggs
8 oz fresh, part skim mozzarella cheese, diced
1/4 c grated Parmesan cheese
1 TSBP fresh basil, chopped
salt and pepper

Bring 10 cups of water to a boil in a large stock pot. While waiting for water to come to a boil, heat 2 TSBP olive oil in a large saute pan, over medium high heat.  Sprinkle salt and pepper onto the chicken breasts. Once oil is hot, cook chicken, about 7 minutes per side, until cooked through. Remove the chicken and dice it into bite size pieces.  Add pasta to boiling water with 1 TBSP Kosher salt. Cook until al dente, about 10 minutes. While pasta is cooking, add halved tomatoes to the same pan chicken was cooked in, lowering heat to medium.  Saute tomatoes for 3-5 minutes. Add minced garlic and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Add the chicken broth and simmer for another 5 minutes. Drain the cooked pasta and add it to the chicken broth and tomatoes. Turn the heat off and add the two raw eggs. Using tongs, toss the eggs with the cooked pasta and broth, until all pasta is coated with the eggs.  This will create the sauce. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. Add the Parmesan cheese and diced chicken and toss again. Top with diced mozzarella cheese and the basil. Serve hot.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Orange Creamsicle Cupcakes

This past summer, I was asked to make cupcakes for a friend's wedding. She requested a creamsicle cupcake, based on one of their favorite treats. After literally weeks, and batches and batches of cupcakes, I think this one turned out rather close to the original flavors. Creamy, orangey, vanilla flavors combine to make this fantastic!

Orange Creamsicle Cupcakes

Vanilla Cupcakes
1 stick butter, softened
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 t salt
1 1/2 t baking powder
1 1/2 t baking soda
2 cups all purpose flour
 3/4 c water

Place paper liners in muffin pans. Yields about 18 cupcakes, or 36 mini cupcakes.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

In a large mixing bowl, combine softened butter and sugar, creaming together until smooth with a hand mixer or stand mixer. Once smooth, add eggs and beat well. Add vanilla, salt, baking soda and powder. Mix until well incorporated. Add ONE cup of the flour and mix well.  Add ALL the water and mix again. Add last cup of flour and mix. Using a one ounce ice cream scooper, scoop batter into the paper liners. Bake at 325 degrees F for 20-25 minutes, or until baked through. You can test doneness by lightly pressing your finger in the middle of the cupcake. If you see a fingerprint, they are not done. if it bounces back, they are done. BUT BE CAREFUL. Obviously they are hot.

Remove from oven when done, and using the handle of a wooden spoon, poke a hole in the middle of each cupcake. This is where the orange curd will go. Let cool.

 Orange Curd

4 TBSP butter
 2 oranges, zest and juice
 1 cup sugar
 2 eggs

In a stand mixer, cream together butter, zest and sugar until smooth. Add the juice of the oranges and the eggs one at a time, mixing on low. Transfer mixture into a large sauce pan and cook over low heat for about 10-15 minutes, stirring often. DO NOT LET THIS BOIL. While it is cooking, it may look curdled, but just keep stirring and let it cook and come back together. When it thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, it's done. Remove from heat and cool in fridge completely before using it.

Once cupcakes are cooled, spoon in about 1 TBSP of curd into each cupcake. Set aside and make whipped cream frosting.

Whipped Cream Frosting

2 c heavy whipping cream
3/4 c powdered sugar
1 TBSP vanilla extract
With a hand mixer or stand mixer with whisk attachment, whisk together all ingredients until stiff peaks form. Pipe into filled and cooled cupcakes. Store in fridge. Can garnish with orange zest.

Mint Chocolate Chip Cupcakes

For a recent holiday party we attended, I wanted to make a dessert that was appropriate for the season. Mint always seems wintery to me, so I set off to make a new Mint Chocolate Chip Cupcake. This recipe uses my basic chocolate cupcake recipe with a new frosting and a new minty addition.

Mint Chocolate Chip Cupcakes

1 stick butter, softened
1 c sugar
2 eggs
1/2 c sour cream
1 t vanilla
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 c unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 c all purpose flour
2/3 c water
1 cup mint and chocolate chips (found next to chocolate chips)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line muffin tins with paper liners. In a stand mixer, or a mixing bowl with a hand mixer, cream together softened butter and sugar until smooth, about 3 minutes. Add eggs and beat together. Add sour cream, vanilla, baking powder and soda, and salt and mix until well incorporated. Add the cocoa powder and mix on low speed til totally mixed. Add 3/4 of the flour and mix well. Add ALL the water and mix. Add the last 3/4 c of the flour and mix well. Fold in mint and chocolate chips. Using a one ounce ice cream scoop, divide the batter into the liners. Bake at 325 degrees F for 20-25, or until done. Let cool completely before frosting.
Yields about 18 cupcakes

Chocolate Ganache Frosting

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 c heavy cream

In a double boiler (a sauce pan filled 1/3 full with simmering water and a glass bowl on top for the chocolate and cream), add chocolate and cream, stirring until smooth. Take cooled cupcakes and dip the top into the chocolate. Let cupcakes set for about 5 minutes before eating.

Balsamic Garlic Pot Roast

Sometimes, I really don't want to cook. As someone who LOVES to cook, this doesn't happen very often. I do also  have 4 man-children to feed, as well as a hungry husband that needs to be fed. (As a side note, why are they never FULL? Even after a big meal, they immediately go foraging for snacks.) But I digress... this is a simple recipe that you can throw in the crockpot and just forget about it until dinner rolls around.

Balsamic Garlic Pot Roast

2-3 lb, top round roast
3 garlic cloves, diced
1/4 cup Balsamic vinegar
2 TBSP worchestshire sauce
2 bay leaves
1 TBSP Kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp ground black pepper

Heat a large, heavy bottomed skillet over medium high heat. Sprinkle roast with salt and pepper on all sides. Add 1 TBSP vegetable oil to skillet and brown roast on all sides. Once roast is browned, place it in a crockpot set to HIGH heat. Add the garlic, Balsamic vinegar, worchestshire sauce, and bay leaves. Cover crock pot with lid and cook for 4-6 hours, or until fork tender. Let meat rest, covered with tin foil, for 15 minutes, before slicing. Serve with mashed potatoes and roasted vegetables.  TIP: You can cook carrots or potatoes in the crockpot with the pot roast.