Monday, December 27, 2010

Loaded Peanut Butter Cookies

I dug up this recipe a few years ago from the internet, and it officially became my Favorite Peanut Butter Cookie recipe ever. :) You get a triple whammy from crunchy peanut butter and PB chips. This is one of those cookies that taste better the longer they sit; in fact, I don't like them much until they cool completely. I found that it's easier to shape the cookies if you put the batter in the fridge for a while before baking and in between cookie sheets. Once cool, they will be slightly crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside. These cookies do not spread much when baking, so you can cram quite a few on a single cookie sheet.

Loaded Peanut Butter Cookies

2 c. crunchy peanut butter

1 c. margarine
1 c. sugar
1 c. packed brown sugar
2 eggs
6 tbsp. milk
2 tsp. vanilla
2 ½ c. flour
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
2 c. peanut butter chips

Preheat oven to 375. In a large bowl, cream together peanut butter, margarine, and sugars until well blended. Beat in egg, milk, and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt; stir into creamed mixture. Roll tablespoonfuls of dough into balls. Place cookies 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Press each ball with fork. Bake for 9 to 11 minutes on cookie sheets until edges are lightly brown. Let cool for 2-3 minutes before removing to cooling racks. Makes 10 dozen.

Mulled Cider

This recipe came from my college roomie. She served this at her wedding (January) and every Christmas after I kept thinking I should make it. This year I finally did. I dumped everything in the slow cooker the night before, and we sipped on cider all day long Christmas Eve day. It was sooooo good! Her original recipe called for orange juice concentrate, which I didn't have, so I improvised and used regular OJ. There are no exact measurements - you can't really mess it up, so just add to taste. I did find that it needed more cinnamon sticks, so I added more in the morning for a total of about 10.

Mulled Apple Cider

apple cider (a gallon or so)
orange juice or orange juice concentrate (if OJ, use two cups. if concentrate, use less)
pineapple juice (optional, maybe a cup or so)
whole cloves (about 1 tbsp)
cinnamon sticks (about 10)

Dump it all in a slow cooker on "keep warm" setting the night before serving. Will keep in slow cooker for about 24 hrs - if it lasts that long!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Bubble Bread

I can't tell you how often as a child I woke up on Sunday mornings to the smell of Bubble Bread in the oven. Because it is mixed the night before, it was frequently Mom's choice for a speedy breakfast on church days. It had been years since I last enjoyed it, but I suggested to Mom that we make it the day after Thanksgiving. It's completely unfriendly toward dieters, but oh-so-good anyway! Just a note - you need to eat this as soon as it comes out of the oven because the gooey topping hardens very quickly.

Bubble Bread

1 pkg frozen dinner rolls (we use Parkerhouse brand)
1 stick butter or margine, melted
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 c. brown sugar
2/3 c. chopped nuts, optional
1 pkg cook & serve butterscotch pudding (not instant)

Grease an angel food or bundt pan very well. In a small bowl, mix remaining ingredients until well blended. Place frozen rolls in pan and pour butter mixture over the rolls. Cover with a damp towel and allow to rise overnight. In the morning, bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Invert onto a plate and serve immediately.

Serves 6.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Cranberry Relish

I will be making a double batch of this super-easy relish tomorrow. Though I prefer to make it with Splenda, feel free to indulge with real sugar. How much you need depends on how sweet the berries are. Mix in the sugar last, a little at a time, until you like it.

Cranberry Relish

1 bag fresh cranberries
1 orange, peeled
1 single-serving applesauce
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 - 1 c sugar or Splenda

Pulse the cranberries and oranges in a food processor until smooth. Stir in applesauce a d cinnamon. Add sugar to taste. Refrigerate a few hours before serving. Keep up to a week in fridge.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Thai Turkey

This is wickedly good - wonderful for leftover Thanksgiving turkey, or you can always use shredded chicken. I actually combined them both this time, because I didn't have quite enough of either, and it tasted just fine. It goes together in 15 minutes or less, and reheats very well - if there's any left! (Leftovers would be wonderful in a burrito, by the way.) It's very low fat (about 4 WW points), too. Serve over a bed of fresh spinach leaves.

Thai Turkey

3 c. diced or shredded turkey
3 green onions
1 red bell pepper
2 garlic clove, minced
4 tbsp. soy sauce
2 tsp. Dried cilantro leaves
2 tbsp. honey
3 tsp. curry powder
2 tsp. sesame oil
1 tsp. cornstarch
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
1 tsp. vegetable oil
Cilantro sprigs for garnish, optional

Coarsely shred turkey-breast meat. Thinly slice green onions; cut red pepper into 2-inch-long, matchstick-thin strips. In small bowl, mix garlic, soy sauce, cilantro, honey, curry powder, sesame oil, cornstarch, crushed red pepper, and 1/3 cup water until well blended. In a skillet over high heat, in hot salad oil, cook green onions and pepper, stirring frequently, until vegetables are tender and golden. Stir in liquid mixture and shredded turkey meat and cook, stirring to coat turkey well, until heated through. Garnish with cilantro sprigs.

Serves 4.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Italian Chicken Soup

The original recipe for this elegant soup called for the cook to make her own broth. I did that - once. After that I decided to make the recipe considerably easier on myself, and started using vegetable broth instead. The chicken in this recipe is a good candidate for the slow-cooked Just Chicken, but I have used rotisserie with good success, too. It reheats and freezes quite well.

Italian Chicken Soup

1 carton (4 cups) vegetable broth
2 cups water
2 tsp low-sodium chicken bouillon granules
2 bay leaves
1 15-oz can diced tomatoes, undrained
6 green onions, sliced thin
1/2 c. chopped fresh parsley or 1-2 tbsp. dried parsley
1/4 c. ketchup
1 tsp. crushed rosemary
1/2 tsp basil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 5-oz cans kidney beans, rinsed and drained
3 c. shredded cooked chicken
Parmesan or Romano cheese, optional

Combine all ingredients except beans and chicken in a large soup pan.Bring to a boil. reduce heat; cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Add beans and chicken, heat through. If desired, garnish with cheese. Serves 6-8.

White Chili

I adapted this recipe from one I found on the internet, and YUM! This uses chicken from the Just Chicken recipe, but you can use whatever you happen to have. It's a nice change from traditional chili, and if you want to kick up the heat, just add more cayenne and chipotle seasonings.

White Chili

1 tsp. canola oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cups shredded cooked chicken
2 cups chicken broth
1 7-oz can diced green chilies, undrained
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp cilantrao
1/2 tsp. chipotle chili powder
1/8 tsp cayenne
2 15-oz cans cannelinni beans (great northern), rinsed and drained
8 oz block pepper jack cheese, divided
sour cream, optional

Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large saucepan. Add onions and cook until tender. Add chicken, broth, and spices. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.

Cut block of cheese in half. Shred one half and set aside for garnish. Cut the other half into small cubes. Add cheese cubes and beans to chili. Stir well. Cover and simmer 5 minutes, or until cheese is melted and can be stirred thoroughly into chili.

Stir in beans and cook until warmed through. Garnish with sour cream and shredded cheese. Serves 6-8.

Just Chicken

I enjoy chicken dishes, but I hate to cut and handle raw chicken. Gross. Recently I discovered a couple of tricks for cooking it that are a) relatively mess-free; b) super-duper easy; and c) produce jaw-droppingly tender chicken that falls apart when you touch it.

So... Tip One: freeze your chicken, and only thaw it enough to get a sharp knife through it. It's so much easier to handle this way, and considerly less slimy. (Though I will admit that your hands get pretty cold by the time you're finished!)

Tip Two: Cook that sucker in the crock pot! I have a 3-qt pot that will hold about 6 boneless skinless chicken breasts (cut up in big chunks). I drop it in the cooker just before bed. In the morning, it's nice and tender, and I pull out the chicken to cool just to the point that I can handle it without burning my fingers, and shred it in a large bowl. This will produce enough shredded meat for 3-4 recipes, or it will make burritos for a crowd of 20 or so. You always want some kind of liquid, but there doesn't have to be a lot of it, either.

Here are a few options for seasonings and liquids. For each one, cut the chicken in big chunks, mix up into the liquid, and cook on low for about 8 hours:

Spicy Chicken
1 jar salsa, your choice
1/2 c. chicken broth or water
chili powder to taste
(You can reserve the liquid if you want, or you can chunk it. I use about a cup and mix it back into the shredded chicken if I am using it for burritos or tacos.)

Generic Chicken (suitable for most any recipe)
1 1/2 c. chicken broth
pepper to taste
pinch garlic powder
salt, optional
(This makes delicious broth. Strain out the gook that floats to the top and save it for a later recipe.)

Italian Chicken
1 1/2 c. chicken broth
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. basil
1/2 tsp. crushed rosemary
1 bay leaf
black pepper to taste
(Another good one for broth, but make sure you use it in a dish it will complement)

FYI: one boneless skinless chicken breast will shred into about 3/4 cup of meat.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Bruschetta Tilapia

Ever start to make something that sounded good in your head, but the actual execution was a disaster? I do that a lot. I'm trying to diet again, and I knew that fish would be good for me. It's something I usually enjoy, but a while back I had some that wasn't cooked all the way and I've struggled to eat it since then. But... big bags of tilapia were on sale, so I decided to try again. I had some Campari tomatoes that were going to go bad soon, so I thought I'd tried a bruschetta-inspired fish. I was not entirely confident in my idea, I must confess.

Lemme tell you... it rocked! Soooo good. Think I'm over my fish issues now. :) Even better, it only took a couple of minute to throw it in the oven. I made it for one, but you can easily adjust to make as much as you need - just make sure you give each piece of fish room to cook evenly.

Bruschetta Tilapia

1 tilapia filet
4 cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 tsp dried basil
salt & pepper to taste
1/4 c. reduced-fat mozzarella

Preheat oven to 380. Line a cookie sheet with foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Arrange tomatoes on top of fish and sprinkle with basil, salt and pepper. Bake for 12-18 minutes, or until fish flakes with fork (some people like it more done than others; use your best judgment. Just make sure it's cooked through.) Sprinkle with mozzarella. Serves 1.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Honey-Lime Chipotle Chicken

It's been a bit too long since my last post. However, I have started Weight Watchers again for the umpteenth time, and decided to do a little experiment on the grill. The first recipe is for the marinade; I daresay it would be delicious on pork as well as chicken. The second is one version of a salad; and let me assure you that it's divine. I used some of the reserved marinade as a dressing, but a simple vinegar-and-oil treatment would also be tasty.

Chipotle powder adds a smoky heat; use more or less to suit your personal preferences.

Honey-Lime Chipotle Marinade

2/3 c. lime juice
1/4 c. honey
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. chipotle pepper powder

In a small bowl, whisk all ingredients until well blended.

To marinate chicken, trim 3 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breasts and put them in a gallon-size ziploc bag. Pour in half of the marinade. Seal the bag and spread chicken evenly. Refrigerate two hours to overnight, and turn at least once to ensure marinade spreads evenly. Grill over medium-high heat, basting frequently with half the remaining marinade, until juices run clear.

Honey-Lime Chipotle Chicken Salad

1 boneless skinless chicken breast, grilled and marinated
2 tbsp. Honey-Lime Chipotle Marinade
1 medium tomato, diced
1 kiwifruit, diced
1 scallion, chopped
2 c. baby spinach or other greens

Combine all vegetables. Top with chicken and marinade. Serves 1.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Some Changes

I apologize, but lately I seem to be getting a lot of spam comments. To help avoid it, I've turned on comment approval and word verification. I'm sorry, but it's driving me crazy and I don't want to subject what few readers I do have to the obnoxiousness of the spam.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Refrigerator Pickles

I'm back on a diet (surprise, surprise!), and I'd bought tons of veggies, including a monster of a cucumber. Jeff won't eat them, and I'm not crazy about eating them plain, so I decided to experiment with a refrigerator pickle - no canning requiring. If I do say so myself, they are quite tasty. You can adjust the number of Splenda packets to your taste - I personally like them a little sweet.

Refrigerator Pickles

1 large cucumber, sliced as thinly as possible
1/2 c. white vinegar
3-5 splenda packets
1 tsp. celery seed
3 whole black peppercorns

Combine all ingredients in an airtight container. Seal and turn over container a few times to coat cucumber slices. Chill several hours before serving.