Monday, February 28, 2011

The Best Chicken Fajitas

*Serves 4-5

*Note: liquid smoke may seem like an unnecessary, optional ingredient but I promise it adds an irreplaceable flavor and smokiness - I keep a bottle of liquid smoke on hand in the refrigerator just to make these fajitas.

¼ cup fresh lime juice (about 3-4 limes)
1/3 cup water
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons apple cider or red wine vinegar
2 easpoons soy sauce
½ teaspoons chili powder
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon liquid smoke
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon onion powder

1 1/2 pounds chicken breasts (about 3 large chicken breasts)
1 yellow onion, cut into thin strips
1 green pepper, cut into thin strips
1 red (or orange) pepper, cut into thin strips
8 ounces fresh mushrooms, quartered
1 teaspoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons water
½ teaspoon fresh lime juice (a quick squeeze of a cut lime)
dash of salt and pepper

Combine all marinade ingredients in a small bowl. Place chicken in a ziploc bag and pour the marinade ingredients over the top. Seal the bag and place in the refrigerator and let marinate for 2-3 hours.

After marinading, take chicken out of the bag and discard the marinade. Grill or broil the chicken 4-5 minutes per side (I use my indoor grill pan usually). Remove from pan and tent with foil to keep warm.

In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat and add the onion, mushrooms and peppers. Stir fry until softened but still crisp tender. Add soy sauce, water, lime juice and salt and pepper. Cook another 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently. Slice chicken thinly on the diagonal and toss with the vegetables in the skillet. Serve immediately with flour tortillas and top with tomatoes, lettuce, guacamole, cheese, sour cream...the options are endless!

Chicken Tortilla Casserole

Chicken Tortilla Casserole
*Notes: Keep the corn tortillas wrapped in plastic or covered with a damp kitchen towel until ready to use – they will dry out quickly. The casserole can be made and refrigerated for up to 2 days. To bake, cover tightly with foil. Bake about 1 hour. Remove foil and bake until cheese has browned, about 10 minutes longer. Cool for 10 minutes.

*Serves 6

2 tablespoons canola oil
1 large onion, chopped fine
2 red bell peppers, stemmed, seeded, and diced medium
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
¾ teaspoon salt
3 medium garlic cloves, finely minced
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, chopped with 2 teaspoons sauce (decrease the amount of sauce to 1 teaspoon if you want it less spicy)
2 (15.5 ounce) cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 (14.5 ounce) cans diced tomatoes, drained
2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts trimmed of fat and cut into bite-size pieces
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons lime juice
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
18 (6-inch) round corn tortillas
Vegetable cooking spray
6 ounces cheddar cheese shredded (about 2 cups)
6 ounces Monterey jack cheese shredded (about 2 cups)

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 450 degrees. Heat the oil in a dutch oven or large pot over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion, bell peppers, cumin, chili powder, and salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft and the onions are golden, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until golden, about 1 minute. Slowly whisk in the chicken broth and bring to a simmer, whisking often. Add the chipotles with adobo sauce, beans, and tomatoes; simmer until the flavors have blended about 5 minutes. Add the chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, until no longer pink, about 4 minutes. Stir in ¼ cup cilantro, the lime juice and pepper.

Place a damp paper towel on the bottom and top of the corn tortilla stack. Microwave for 45 seconds to 1 minute until they are soft and pliable.

Toss the cheeses together in a medium bowl. Spread 1/3 of the chicken mixture in a lightly greased 9X13 inch dish. Layer 6 tortillas on top of the filling, overlapping as needed, and sprinkle with 1 ½ cups of the cheese. Repeat the process to form a second layer.

Spread the remaining filling in the baking dish. Cut the remaining 6 tortillas into quarters and arrange over the top and finish off with the remaining cheese. Bake until the cheese is golden brown and the casserole is bubbling, about 15 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons cilantro before serving. Serve with additional accompaniments, such as salsa, diced avocado, sour cream or sliced green onions. The casserole can be made and refrigerated for up to 2 days. To bake, cover tightly with foil. Bake about 1 hour. Remove foil and bake until cheese has browned, about 10 minutes longer. Cool for 10 minutes.

Italian Cream Cake

5 eggs, separated
1/2 C butter or margarine
1/2 C shortening
1 3/4 C sugar
2 C flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 C buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla
2 C coconut
1 C chopped pecans

Place egg whites in mixer bowl. Whip for 2 1/2 to 3 minutes, or until egg whites are stiff but not dry. Place egg whites in another bowl.

Place butter, shortening, and sugar in mixer bowl. Mix about 2 1/2 minutes or until light and fluffy. Add egg yolks, one at a time mixing after each. Scrape bowl.

Mix flour and baking soda. Add half to sugar mixture in bowl. Mix about 30 seconds. Add buttermilk, vanilla, and remaining flour mixture. Mix about one minute.

Add coconut and pecans. Mix just until blended. Remove bowl from mixer. Gently fold in beaten egg whites with spatula just until blended. Pour batter in greased and floured 13X9X2 inch baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 50 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool competely on wire rack. Spread with Cream Cheese Frosting.

NOTE: For best flavor, chill cake in refrigerator several hours or overnight.

Cream Cheese Frosting
4 C powdered sugar
1 package (8 oz) light cream cheese, softened
1/2 C butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla

Place all ingredients in mixer bowl. Beat abouit 2 minutes or until smooth and creamy. Spread on cooled cake.

Mexican Lasagna


*Note: this lasagna isn't super heavy on the sauce, just enough to plump up the pasta noodles perfectly and help everything hold their shape (not dry...just not overly saucy). I split all the ingredients (sauce, cheese, noodles) into three layers but feel free to simplify and just halve everything and do two layers only. Less noodles, more sauce. It's up to you. Also, the ingredient list looks long, but it comes together quickly, especially with the no-boil lasagna noodles.

*Serves 6-8

1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef or turkey
1 yellow onion, coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
dash of ground cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
3 (8 ounce) cans tomato sauce
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 ½ cup frozen corn kernels, white or yellow
1 (6 ounce) can olives, chopped
9-12 no-boil lasagna noodles (I love the Barilla brand), or boil and drain regular lasagna noodles
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup sour cream, light or regular
8 ounces cream cheese, light or regular

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9X13-inch pan and set aside.

In a large 12-inch skillet, brown the ground beef or turkey and onion over medium heat until the meat is no longer pink. Drain the grease. Add the minced garlic and tomato paste. Stir to combine well and cook for about a minute. Stir in the chili powder, cumin, cayenne, oregano and salt and pepper. Mix well. Add the diced tomatoes and tomato sauce. Stir to combine. Add the black beans, corn and olives. Mix well and heat through, about 5 minutes.

Remove the skillet from the heat. Spread 1/2 cup sauce in the bottom of the prepared pan. Layer three (or four, depending on the brand of noodles you use) noodles over the sauce. Spread 1/3 of the sauce over the noodles. Dollop 1/3 of the sour cream and 1/3 of the cream cheese (just pinch off chunks and toss them on top) across the sauce. Sprinkle with 1/3 of the cheeses. Repeat the layers two more times until all the ingredients are used.

Cover the lasagna with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. Uncover and bake 10-15 minutes more, until the lasagna is hot and bubbly. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting into and serving.

Chicken Pot Pie Crumble


*Serves 6-8

Chicken and Sauce:
1 ½ pounds chicken (about three medium-size chicken breasts)
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion , chopped fine (about 1 cup)
3-4 carrots, peeled and sliced (about 1 cup)
2-3 stalks celery, chopped (about ½ cup)
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
½ cup flour
1 cup milk
3/4 cup frozen peas

Crumble Topping:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
6 tablespoons butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and chilled
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup heavy cream

To prepare the chicken, place the chicken and broth in a large Dutch oven or pot and bring it to a simmer over medium heat. Cook the chicken until it is just done (don't overcook or it will dry out) - about 10-12 minutes. Alternately, if you are planning in advance, you can place the chicken and broth in a slow cooker and cook on high for 3 hours or low for 5 hours. Transfer the cooked chicken to a medium bowl. Pour the broth through a fine-mesh strainer into a liquid measuring cup and reserve. Return the pot to the stovetop (no need to wash if you used it to cook the chicken).

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, pepper, and cayenne. Sprinkle the chilled butter pieces over the top of the flour. Using your fingers or a pastry cutter, rub the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the Parmesan cheese. Add the cream and stir until just combined. Crumble the mixture into irregularly shaped pieces onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake the crumble topping until fragrant and starting to brown, about 15 minutes, tossing halfway through. Set aside.

For the filling, heat the olive oil in the now-empty pot over medium heat. Add onion, carrots, celery, salt and pepper. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until just tender, about 5 minutes. While the vegetables are cooking, shred the chicken into small bite-size pieces. Transfer the cooked vegetables to the bowl with the chicken; set aside.

Over medium heat melt the butter in the empty pot. Stir in the flour and cook for one minute, stirring constantly. Slowly whisk in the reserved chicken broth and milk. Bring to a simmer and stir occasionally until the sauce thickens, about 5 minutes, taking care not to burn the bottom. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Remove from the heat and stir the chicken, vegetables and peas into the sauce.

Pour the mixture into a 9x13 pan. Scatter the crumble topping evenly over the filling. Place the 9X13-inch pan on a rimmed baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees until the topping is well browned, about 15-20 minutes. Let the casserole stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Beach Street Lemon Chicken Linguini

I have made this three or four times and EVERYONE loves it which is amazing in and of itself!

**This recipe requires marinating the chicken for 3-12 hours so plan ahead!**

1 lb. linguine
2 tablespoons olive oil
Zest from one lemon
Juice from one lemon
3 green onions, chopped (white and green parts)
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

½ cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed (smashed with the back of a large knife or saucepan)
1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning (cut this down to 1 1/2 teaspoons if you want less heat but don’t omit entirely or you will lose great flavor)
Juice of one lemon
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 chicken breasts, sliced

Combine the marinade ingredients in a bowl and whisk lightly before pouring into a ziploc plastic bag. Pat chicken dry and toss in marinade to coat. Refrigerate 3-12 hours.

When ready to cook, preheat skillet over medium heat and pour contents of plastic bag (both marinade and chicken) into the skillet. Saute over medium-high heat until chicken is cooked.

Combine juice of one lemon, lemon zest, olive oil, green onions and fresh parsley together in a small bowl. Set aside.

While the chicken is sauteing, cook linguine in boiling salted water until done; drain and return to warm pot. Pour lemon juice/olive oil/green onion mixture over pasta and mix lightly. When chicken is finished cooking, add hot pasta mixture to the skillet with the chicken and toss well. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste and toss in parmesan cheese. Serve warm.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Buttermilk Cloverleaf Rolls

3 cups buttermilk at room temperature
3 cups flour
1 tablespoon yeast dissolved in ¼ cup warm water (let it proof for 2-3 minute)
½ cup sugar
3 eggs, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons salt
5 cups flour, more or less
½ cup oil
1 teaspoon baking soda

Mix the buttermilk, flour and yeast/water mixture together thoroughly in a large mixing bowl. Let stand at room temperature until double in size, about 2 hours. Add sugar, eggs, salt, flour, oil, and baking soda. Mix well and knead for 7-10 minutes. Roll out the amount of dough you want and place the rest in the refrigerator, covered. The next time you want fresh baked rolls, take from the bowl what you want and again put the rest back in the refrigerator. It will keep for up to seven days.

Shape the dough into cloverleafs by rolling dough into small balls about 3/4-inch in diameter and place three balls in each cup of a greased muffin tin.

Let rolls rise until double in size, 1-2 hours. Dough taken from the refrigerator will take longer because the dough is cold. Bake at 350° for 10-12 minutes.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
from My Kitchen Cafe (

*Makes about 4-5 dozen

1 cup (16 tablespoons) butter, softened to room temperature
2 cups smooth or chunky peanut butter
1 ½ cups firmly packed light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 ½ tablespoons milk
1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups chocolate chips (or a combination of peanut butter and chocolate chips)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl combine the butter and peanut butter and beat the mixture until it is light and fluffy (you can do this with a hand mixer or with an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment). Add the brown and white sugars and mix until well combined. Add the eggs and mix for 1-2 minutes, until the mixture is well combined and light in color. Add the milk and vanilla and mix. Add the dry ingredients and mix just briefly. While there are still large spots of flour, add the chocolate chips (or peanut butter chips or both) and mix until the flour is completely mixed in and the mixture is well combined. Let the cookie dough sit for 15 minutes before scooping onto the baking sheets. It will firm up as it sits.

When ready to bake, scoop tablespoon-sized balls of dough onto silpat or parchment-lined baking sheets leaving about 1 to 2 inches in between the cookies to allow for spreading as they bake. Bake for 10-11 minutes, taking care not to overbake in the slightest! Leave the cookies on the baking sheet for 2-3 minutes after baking before removing them to a cooling rack. This will help them set up and be firm enough to transfer without having them overbake in the oven. The cookies may look slightly underbaked but they will firm up as they cool. Resist the urge to eat them warm as they taste much better cooled.

I pop baked and cooled cookies into the freezer (in a large tupperware or freezer-safe ziploc bag) and they taste great out of the freezer, especially if they are left to sit at room temperature for a few minutes.

Chicken Chow Mien

Chicken Chow Mien

2 T olive oil
1 onions chopped
3 stocks celery chopped
1 C bean sprouts
1 package mushrooms chopped
2 chicken breasts chopped, salted and peppered
2  Chicken bullion cubes dissolved in 2 C water
2 T soy sauce
2 T sugar
2 T cornstarch dissolved in 1/3 C water

Saute onions, celery, mushrooms, and bean sprouts in oil over medium heat, about 5-7 min or until slightly crisp.  Remove from pan and cook chicken pieces until golden brown.  Add veggies back in with chicken broth, soy sauce, and sugar.  When hot add cornstarch mixture and cook over medium heat until slightly thickened.  Serve over rice and top with Chinese noodles.

This is a new favorite.  Quick and easy!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Baked French Toast

Baked French Toast

1 (1 pound) loaf French bread, cut diagonally in 1 inch slices
8 eggs
2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups half-and-half cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup butter
1 1/3 cups brown sugar
3 tablespoons light corn syrup

1.Butter a 9x13 inch baking dish. Arrange the slices of bread in the bottom. In a large bowl, beat together eggs, milk, cream, vanilla and cinnamon. Pour over bread slices, cover, and refrigerate overnight.
2.The next morning, preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). In a small saucepan, combine butter, brown sugar and corn syrup; heat until bubbling. Pour over bread and egg mixture.
3.Bake in preheated oven, uncovered, for 40 minutes.

Cottage Granola

Cottage Granola

I just made this yesterday when I spotted this on her blog. It isn't the most nutritious granola, but it is possibly the most delicious. Miriam loves it and wants it for every meal already.

Barefoot in the Kitchen

4 cups Old Fashioned Oats
2 cups chopped pecans
1 cup coconut
1/2 cup canola oil
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1 small pkg craisins (optional)

Mix all of the ingredients except craisins and spread on a baking sheet or two. Bake at 300 degrees, for about 40 to 50 minutes, checking and stirring every 20 minutes or so. I like my granola slightly well done, so I bake it for about 50 minutes. Cool completely. Add craisins. Try not to eat it all at once. Store in an airtight container.

Classic Bran Muffins

Classic Bran Muffins
We have made these often. I like the hint of sweetness in the muffins.

1 1/2 cups wheat bran
1 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup raisins

1.Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease muffin cups or line with paper muffin liners.
2.Mix together wheat bran and buttermilk; let stand for 10 minutes.
3.Beat together oil, egg, sugar and vanilla and add to buttermilk/bran mixture. Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Stir flour mixture into buttermilk mixture, until just blended. Fold in raisins and spoon batter into prepared muffin tins.
4.Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Cool.