Friday, August 27, 2010

Quick Muffins

Yummy note: Lately, I have been loving breakfast breads. Anything in a loaf or a muffin is good in my eyes. So I found a quick easy homemade muffin recipe that really didn't take that long at all to throw together. I think I found it on website, and then tweaked it a little. Honestly, I am a little harsh on myself and I think I need to add a bit more flavoring to the batter at the end, but all in all it was a nice simple and easy recipe to execute.

Quick Muffins

2 c. self-rising flour, sifted
(Note: If you don't have the self-rising flour, you need to substitute it with these ingredients instead: 1 c. all purpose flour, 1 1/2 tsp. of baking powder, plus 1/4 tsp. of salt)
3 tbsp. vegetable oil
1/2 c. sugar
3/4 c. milk
1/4 c. orange juice
1 beaten egg
2 - 2 1/2 c. berries (I used a frozen berry mix, but you could add fresh ones if available.)

Combine egg, oil, milk, orange juice, and sugar. Add the sifted flour and stir until smooth. Next, stir in fruit and mix well. If using the frozen fruit, let the berries thaw a bit before adding them into the batter. At this point, I wish I would have added some more maybe like lemon or orange zest into the batter to make the flavor pop a little more, so I would suggest that in yours.

Next, pour muffin batter into paper liners in a muffin/cupcake pan and fill about 2/3 full.

Bake for 25 minutes at 400 degrees. Makes roughly 18 or so muffins, depending on the size of your muffins.

Monday, August 23, 2010

s'more fudge

Yummy note:
Summer evenings and warm weather makes you think of what other than s'mores. So going with that theme, I wanted to make s'mores, but inside where it was nice and cool :) Speaking of staying nice and cool, I really didn't want to do anything crazy or turn on my oven again, so I needed a recipe to either on the stove or in the microwave. Next dilemma I had was I had no big marshmallows or any chocolate bars! what?! I know, insane. So what I did have was graham crackers, mini marshmallows, and chocolate chips. So the start of s'mores fudge begins.

18-oz semisweet chocolate chips (or about 3 cups)
14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup mini marshmallows
1 cup chopped graham crackers

Line an 8-inch square pan with aluminum foil and then spray with a cooking spray or grease foil with little bit of butter. Melt the the chocolate chips and the condensed milk together in a heavy saucepan (or in a double boiler) over low heat, stirring constantly, until melted and smooth.

Remove from heat; let cool 1-2 minutes, then stir in vanilla. Cool for about another minute and then add in the cups of the marshmallows and graham cracker pieces.

Stir until incorporated together and spread into your prepared pan. Refrigerate about 3 hours or until firm. To cut pieces of fudge easily, invert pan and peel off foil from fudge, and cut in 1-inch pieces.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Chicken BLT salad with Avocado Dressing

Yummy note:
Since the weather the last month or so has been just so sweltering hot, I hate turning on the oven some nights to prepare a meal, so we've been going with a few more salad options. We grill out quite a bit, so we had some nice meat and then add it to a salad for a refreshing cool crispy meal. I had picked up some nice looking tomatoes and some hearty bacon the other day at the store with the intentions of making BLTs. But instead, I had some leftover grilled chicken from the night before, and decided to toss it all together as a nice salad instead. It worked awesome. So here's my newest creation, a Chicken BLT salad with Avocado Dressing!

Chicken BLT salad with Avocado Dressing

Chicken BLT Salad
about 3 cups lettuce
2-3 medium tomatoes, cut into small wedges
1/2 pound bacon (about a half a package), cooked and crumbled
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup croutons
2-3 chicken breasts, sliced

Prepare bacon and cook until done. Reserve some of the bacon drippings for the dressing if you'd like. Crumble bacon a bit and set aside. Continue making the avocado dressing as noted below.
If you don't have chicken already prepared or leftover, grill off a few chicken breasts for the salad, while your dressing is resting.

In a large bowl, toss lettuce, tomatoes, and bacon together. At this point, to your preference, add the avocado dressing now, or wait to add it at the end, all depending how you'd like to incorporate it. Finish the salad and top with your chicken, croutons, and cheese.

Avocado Dressing
1 avocado
1 tsp onion flakes
1/4 cup milk (may need to add more depending on how thick/thin you like the dressing)
4 Tbsp sour cream
1/2 lime (juiced)
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
s salt and pepper to taste
* Optional: For more flavor, add a tsp or so of your bacon drippings (or bits) from the pan.

Prepare avocado and chop into pieces. Cream the avocado, either by hand or in a blender/food processor. Add in the rest of the ingredients, and mix until smooth. Chill for atleast 1/2 hour before serving. Note: Can keep leftover dressing in the refrigerator for about a day or two.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Tropical Beach Ceviche

Yummy note:
This week the recipe I'm featuring is not one of my own, but one of my favorite chefs, Rick Bayless. If any of you are on Twitter and are following Rick Bayless (@Rick_Bayless), you might know that he has a Fiesta at Rick's Twitter content going on now and running until the next few weeks I believe. Basically he will post a 140-character recipe from his newest book. This week the featured recipe was Tropical Beach Ceviche. This is what you had to work with: "8oz slicd raw scallops+1c grapefrt j:45 min.Drain;blend 2/3c juice,1-2 chipotles,4 rstd grlc,2T br sgr.Mix w scal, red on,trop fruit,jicama" -- Below is my rendition of the Original recipe that I did and submitted for the contest this week. Obviously I was a bit off the visual mark as I think I needed to add more of the chipotle sauce to my dish, as that is what most of the winners are shown with more sauce Oh well! It was still a fun experiment.

On a side note, my girlfriend Mandi (under Jeff F.) placed 2nd in the Rick Bayless contest a few weeks ago! Great job! My same friend, also braved the long lines the other night at the bookstore to meet Rick and score me a fabulous, signed copy of his latest book. Thanks again, Mandi, for snagging me a copy!

Tropical Beach Ceviche

8 ounces raw shrimp (substituted fresh raw shrimp instead of the sea scallops)
1 cup fresh grapefruit juice
about a can of chipotle chiles en adobo sauce
several tablespoons of prepared chopped/minced roasted garlic
2 tablespoons brown sugar
dash of salt
2 cups diced tropical fruit (Instead of buying the mango, pineapple, papaya separately, I just bought a prepackaged jar of like a Dole tropical fruit fresh mixture located in the refrigerator section at the store. This was a nice time saver and saves some money, too.)
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 small jicama (about a cup peeled and diced)

special food note:
I didn't do a "true" ceviche on this, as I'm a bit crazy with the raw fish unless it is a sashimi or sushi grade, so I slightly precooked the raw shrimp. While in a true ceviche, the acidic juice marinade "cooks" the proteins, it doesn't really kill the potential bacteria. Because this is a shellfish, I decided to be a bit more safe than sorry.

What I did first, I slightly cooked the shrimp in boiling water for about 2 minutes, just until the shrimp started to get a little pink. Next, I drained the shrimp and ran cool water over them. Next, chop the shrimp into about more bite-sized pieces, and add shrimp into a small glass or stainless steel bowl. Marinate the shrimp in the grapefruit juice and cover in refrigerator for about 30-45 minutes.

Next, I opened the canned chipotle chiles and diced/chopped well and placed them in a separate bowl with the prepared garlic and brown sugar. Mix all ingredients well with a fork, or if you'd like, place them in a blender to make smooth. Next, drain the shrimp and place about 2/3 cup of the juice into the chipotle mixture. Next finish off with a dash of salt, chopped fruit, diced onion, jicama, and shrimp and toss all ingredients together. Refrigerate your ceviche until ready to eat or enjoy as it is right away.