Google Amy's Cooking Adventures: February 2011
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Monday, February 28, 2011

Lemon Roasted Chicken



Nothing says homemade like a roasted chicken.  The house smells so good while it is baking and (if you have string) you can truss the chicken into a beautiful presentation.

This recipe is a simple twist on a classic.  The lemon and rosemary give off a wonderful aroma while baking and add just a subtle hint of their flavors to the chicken.  Just toss in a pan of Brussels sprouts while the chicken cooks, and you’ve got yourself a meal!


Lemon Roasted Chicken
Recipe adapted from ButterYum

3 ½ pound chicken
2 small lemons
2-3 sprigs rosemary
Salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Clean and rinse chicken thoroughly.  Tip chicken on its side for 10 minutes to completely drain.

Meanwhile roll the lemons firmly against the counter and pierce at least 20 times with a toothpick.

Thoroughly season the chicken, inside and out, with salt and pepper.  Place whole lemons and sprigs of rosemary inside the chicken’s cavity.  Secure the cavity closed with a toothpick.  If you have kitchen string, now is the time to truss your chicken.

Place the chicken in a roasting pan breast side down.  Bake uncovered for 30 minutes.

Turn heat up to 400 degrees.  Carefully flip the bird and continue cooking for another 20 minutes per pound, about 50 minutes for a 3 ½ pound chicken.  Cover loosely with tin foil if the chicken starts to brown too much.

Once the chicken is fully cooked, let rest for 15 minutes outside of the oven before serving.

Enjoy!
Amy

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Roasted Brussels Sprouts


Did you know that Brussels Sprouts is plural?  But most people are in a hurry and say/write Brussel Spouts, because the double plural sounds weird.  Or at least it does to me, just saying.

So Brussels sprouts look like little mini cabbages and incidentally, are in the cabbage family.  They are chock-full of vitamins A & C and folic acid and I think they taste a lot like broccoli (my favorite vegetable!)

This is the first time I’ve ever made (or eaten) Brussels Sprouts, but I assure you, it won’t be the last.  I decided to treat them very simply and roast them in the oven while I baked a chicken.  By roasting them (and cooking them with another food) it cut down on the cabbage-y smell that can come from cooking Brussels Sprouts.  I’d love to say that my son ate these, unfortunately he was still down with the flu, so there was no way.  However, my husband and I enjoyed them very much.

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Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Recipe from Simply Recipes

1 lb Brussels sprouts, rinsed and trimmed
½ tbsp minced garlic (3 cloves)
1 tsp lemon juice
2 tbsp olive oil
½ - 1 tsp coarse salt
Black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Trim Brussels sprouts, removing stems and any discolored leaves.  Place in a zip lock bag and toss with garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil.

Place Brussels sprout mix in a roasting pan and sprinkle with salt & pepper.  Place the Brussels sprouts on the top rack of the oven. 

Cook for 15 minutes and stir.  Cook for another 10 minutes or until tender throughout and browned on the outside.


Enjoy!
Amy

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Easy Weeknight Burritos


Last week when my son was sick, I needed a fast meal that my husband could eat on his way to work.  These burritos took about 20 minutes from start to finish (even I was surprised at how fast it went!)  When you are making these, you may want more salsa (I only had 1 cup on hand) or to add some of your favorite toppings.  As an added bonus, these are awesome warmed up in the microwave, so you can enjoy the leftovers when you are exhausted from taking care of a sick 3 year old or you can send them to work with your husband.


Easy Weeknight Burritos
An Amy Original

10 flour tortillas, burrito size
1 lb lean ground beef
¼ cup onions, chopped
1 (8 oz) bag precooked microwavable brown rice
1 (15 oz) can pinto beans, drained & rinsed
1 cup salsa
1 cup shredded cheese
1 avocado, diced
Salt & pepper


In a skillet or pot, brown beef with onion.  Season with salt and pepper.  Meanwhile, cook the rice and drain the beans.

Once the beef is fully cooked, stir in the rice, beans, and salsa; heat through.  Microwave the tortillas for 20 seconds to soften.

Place filling in the center of each tortilla, top with about 2 tbsp of cheese and diced avocados.  Serve immediately or wrap in cling wrap and heat for about a minute in the microwave for a nice lunch to go.

Makes 10 burritos


Enjoy!
Amy

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Easy Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies


I come from a long line of “stress eaters”.  As my stress increases, I find myself inching closer and closer to anything with chocolate, the higher the chocolate content, the better.  Lucky for me, I am usually so busy tending the children that I can curb these cravings.  However, having a very sick 3 year old (the flu – ick) proved too much for me.

It was 11 o’clock at night, I was worrying, and I needed cookies.  Sadly, there were no cookies in the house, so I got to baking.  These little gems are fantastic if you need cookies and you need them now.  They take only a handful of ingredients that you probably have on had.  Plus, they only took an hour from the first “I need a cookie” to my husband and I stuffing our faces with soft, chewy peanut butter-chocolaty goodness.


Easy Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies
An Amy Original

1 family size box brownie mix
1 cup chunky peanut butter
2 eggs
¼ cup water
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
Sea salt


Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the brownie mix, peanut butter, eggs, and water until well combined.  Stir in chocolate chips.

Using a 2 tbsp scoop, drop dough balls onto the prepared sheets.  Pat down each dough ball into a disc using your fingers or the bottom of a glass.  Sprinkle each cookie with sea salt.

Bake 8-10 minutes or until the tops of the cookies are no longer shiny.  Let the cookies cool on the cookie sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

Makes 30 cookies

Enjoy!
Amy

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Frocaccia Sandwich


If you have a little of that Frocaccia leftover (hard to do, I know), why not use it to make a fancy sandwich?  While not a traditional sandwich bread, this flavorful frocaccia is reminiscent of an artisan sandwich found at your favorite restaurant.

Frocaccia Sandwich
An Amy Original

1 piece of Frocaccia, sliced in half
1 tbsp hummus
1 tsp ranch dressing
1 tbsp roasted sunflower seeds
6 slices smoked turkey breast
1 leaf romaine lettuce
6 slices turkey pepperoni


Spread the hummus on the inside of one half of bread.  Spread the ranch on the other half of the bread.

Sprinkle the sunflower seeds over the bottom slice of bread, followed by the turkey, lettuce, romaine, and turkey pepperoni.  Top with the remaining slice of bread.  Enjoy as a light lunch.

Makes 1 small sandwich


Enjoy!
Amy

Monday, February 21, 2011

Frocaccia Bread


I love bread, especially when it is home made.  I like making traditional breads, and breads with different herbs and flavors.  This time I decided to try my hand at frocaccia bread.  Frocaccia is an Italian flatbread that is similar to, but not the same as, pizza crust.  Frocaccia has many variations depending upon region and personal preference.  I decided to make an herbed focaccia with just a bit of cheese.  This bread was so fragrant and a wonderful side to pasta.  This would also be great smothered in cheese and eaten as soft bread sticks!


Frocaccia Bread
Adapted from Group Recipes

1 tbsp active dry yeast
1 cup water (about 115 degrees F)
1 tsp honey
1 ¼ cups whole wheat flour
1 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp dried rosemary
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
¼ tsp black pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
1-2 tbsp freshly grated parmesan cheese


In a small bowl, combine the yeast, water, and honey.  Cover with a damp cloth and let proof for 5-7 minutes or until the yeast is foamy.

In a large bowl, combine yeast mixture, flours, salt, garlic powder, rosemary, oregano, thyme, black pepper, and olive oil. 

Once the dough has pulled together, turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic.  Spray a bowl with non stick spray.  Place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat.  Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and place in a warm, draft free place for 1 ½ hours until dough has doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Punch down dough and place on a greased baking sheet.  Roll dough into a ½ inch thick disc.  Cover with a damp towel and let rise for 30 minutes.

Once the dough has risen, use your finger or the handle of a wooden spoon to make indentations about 2 inches apart in the dough.  Lightly brush the dough with olive oil and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

Bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.  Serve warm.


Enjoy!
Amy

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Beautiful Bow Wedding Cake


It is been a crazy week of company, sick little boy, and working hard on my very first wedding cake order!  The bride and groom are acquaintances from my church and wanted to do sheet cakes from the store for the bulk of their guests, but still wanted a nice wedding cake to serve the wedding party.  That’s where I came in!


The cake is a yellow pound cake filled with chocolate pudding.  It is then covered in an almond butter cream and fondant.  I am so blessed that my mom was able to come and watch the children for me as I baked, frosted, decorated, and delivered the cake (Thanks, Mom!)


Though I was nervous at first, I am really happy with the final result and the opportunity to stretch my abilities and make someone’s wedding day special.  Congratulations, Kristie & Jake!

Enjoy!
Amy

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Carrot Cake Pancakes


It is pancake day again at my house (big surprise, right?)  Since pancakes are such a big hit with the little guy, I am constantly experimenting with fun (and healthy) variations on the simple pancake. 


This time, I decided to add in some yummy orange vegetables and some cinnamon to make a pancake reminiscent of a super indulgent carrot cake.  Since I thought adding cream cheese frosting to the pancakes would defeat the purpose of making pancakes instead of just going for the cake, I used French Vanilla yogurt and a sprinkling of walnuts in place of frosting or syrup.  Of course some pancake fans, like my dad and little guy choose to forgo the yogurt since they are unwilling to part with their syrup.  Others like my husband and mom loved the yogurt!


Carrot Cake Pancakes
An Amy Original

1 cup unbleached flour
½ cup whole wheat flour
2 tbsp wheat germ
2 tbsp ground flaxseed
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt
2 large eggs, beaten
1 1/3 cups light soy milk (or a milk of your choice)
½ cup pureed carrots or orange puree
2 tbsp honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
6 oz French vanilla yogurt
¼ cup chopped walnuts


Whisk together the flours, wheat germ, flax, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.

In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, pureed carrots, honey, and vanilla extract until well blended.  Pour liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.

Heat a large non stick skillet to medium-high heat.  Pour batter onto the hot skillet using a heaping 2 tablespoon scoop.

Cook until bubbles begin to appear on the surface of the pancakes and the bottoms turn golden-brown, about 3 minutes.  Flip and cook until golden, an additional 2-3 minutes.

Serve topped with French vanilla yogurt and chopped walnuts.

 Enjoy!
Amy

Monday, February 14, 2011

“Eye” Love You Egg Sandwiches


Though my mom did the majority or the cooking when I was growing up, my dad did have one specialty: Eye Egg Sandwiches, thusly named because the egg inside the toast looks like an eye peeking through the hole.  This fun breakfast goes by many different names depending upon where you live, but they will always be eye egg sandwiches to me!















For a special valentines treat for my sweeties, I used a cookie cutter to cut a heart shape out of the toast.  These look very pretty if you cook them sunny side up. They still look nice if you flip them (though you obviously won’t see the bright yellow yolk), but you have to be a good flipper…sadly, this is how my husband’s egg turned out.  Good thing he loves me!


“Eye” Love You Egg Sandwiches
Adapted from my Dad

1 slice of whole wheat bread
2 tsp olive oil
1 egg
Salt & pepper


Lightly toast the bread in a toaster.  Meanwhile, begin heating the oil with a little salt and pepper in a skillet.

Once the bread is toasted, use a heart shape cookie cutter to cut a section out (you can use a knife or cut any other shape out if you wish).  Set the cut out section aside.

Lay the toast (the piece with the hole) in the skillet.  Carefully crack an egg into the center and cook completely.  If desired, flip the egg and toast to cook over easy.


Enjoy!
Amy

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Valentine’s Cookie Bark


Quick.  Easy.  Delicious.

Those are the three words I would use to describe Cookie Bark.  All you have to do is take out some of your latent anger on some Oreos and pretzel sticks, melt some candy, and voilà!  You have an irresistible Valentine’s treat.

This can be customized to basically any holiday, or made for everyday enjoyment.  Now go, just try and keep your hands off of this!


Valentine’s Cookie Bark
Adapted from Your Homebased Mom

1 ½ lb vanilla almond bark
4 cups pretzel sticks, broken in half
21 Double Stuff Oreo Cookies, broken in quarters
1 cup M&M’s, divided


Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.  Spread half the broken cookies and half of the pretzel sticks onto each cookie sheet.  Sprinkle ¾ cup M&M’s equally onto the cookies and pretzels.

Place the almond bark in a microwave safe dish.  Microwave for 90 seconds and stir.  Continue microwaving for 20 second increments and stirring until the almond bark is completely melted and smooth.

Using a spoon, drizzle the melted almond bark over the cookie and pretzel mix.  While the candy is still wet, sprinkle the remaining ¼ cup of M&M’s over the two sheets. 

Allow to set for about 20 minutes, then gently break into pieces.  Store in an airtight container.


Enjoy!
Amy

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Roasted Sweet Potatoes


One of my cooking goals is to serve more vegetables at meals, especially if those vegetables don’t come out of a can.  These simple sweet potatoes made an excellent side dish and even my 3 year old ate some!


Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Adapted from Family Circle


1 ½ lbs sweet potatoes
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp paprika
½ tsp coarse sea salt


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.

Cut the sweet potatoes in to ¼ inch medallions.  Cut each medallion in halves or quarters, depending on the size.  Place sweet potatoes in a bowl and toss with olive oil and paprika.

Place the seasoned sweet potatoes in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet and sprinkle with sea salt.  Bake for 45 minutes or until tender.

Enjoy!
Amy

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Spicy Mini Meatloaves


Did you despise meatloaf as a child?  I know I did.  I have recently reached that final milestone to becoming an adult (wait – I still don’t like coffee – darn!) and have started to like and cook meatloaf.  Last time I made meatloaf, I cut it into small bits and told my 3 year old it was meatballs (one of his favorites).  He was not convinced, most likely because meatloaf is inherently gross to children.

This time, in an effort to make meatloaf more appealing to him, I made mini meatloaves (they were really just giant meatballs but work with me here).  And, because of the new shape, my 3 year old did indeed eat my meatloaf.  As an added bonus, the meatloaf didn’t sit in its own grease in a loaf pan.  Because I spaced the meatloaves out by a couple inches in a large casserole dish, a lot of the grease was able to drain away from the meatloaves without soaking back into the meat!  Note: normally, I would put some cheese on top of these while baking, but omitted that step because of the whole dairy free thing.


Spicy Mini Meatloaves
An Amy Original

1 lb ground beef
1 lb Italian turkey sausage, casings removed
1 egg
¼ cup wheat germ
4 tbsp onions, finely diced
½ tsp fennel
½ tsp black pepper


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Spray a 9x13 inch casserole dish or cake pan.

Mix all ingredients by hand in a large bowl until evenly blended.

Form into about 12 large meat balls (mini meatloaves) and place the prepared baking dish, spaced apart by a couple inches.  Bake for 30-45 minutes or until cooked completely through and browned.

Enjoy!
Amy

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Bread Crumb Tutorial

Bread Crumb Tutorial


One of the ingredients I occasionally use in recipes (like chicken nuggets or meatballs) is whole wheat bread crumbs.  Unless you have a health food store in your town that you frequent, this might be a tricky ingredient to find.  I know it is for me.

So instead of going on a wild goose chase searching for bread crumbs, I have started making my own.  It is quick, simple and saves some cash (bonus!)

Confession: even though I am an adult, I still can’t bring myself to eat the ends of the bread.  I can’t even trick myself into thinking they are hamburger buns.

So instead, I take all of the ends of my whole wheat bread (or any slices that are getting dry) and stick it in a ziplock bag in my freezer.

After a few months of collecting, by bag is full and it is time to make bread crumbs!

I grab some baking sheets and lay all the frozen bread in a single layer on the baking sheets to thaw. 


After letting the bread thaw and dry overnight, flip the bread slices and tear them into 1-2 inch pieces.  You can see I had a couple different kinds of bread...some whole wheat, some multigrain, etc.  

Turn the large bread crumbs every 4-5 hours until completely hard and dry.  It took about 36 hours for my bread crumbs to dry from the time they left the freezer until I was really to process them.  The time will vary depending upon how dry the bread was when it was frozen and if it picked up any ice crystals in the freezer.

Once the bread crumbs are completely dry, move them to your food processor and blend to a fine crumb.

Move to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator.  These will keep for months.

Now you have cheap whole wheat bread crumbs!

Enjoy!
Amy

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Crème de Menthe Brownies


I love brownies.  In fact, I love brownies from the box because they are so fudgy and delicious.  I could try making them from scratch, but why mess with perfection, right?

So I was thinking about those Peppermint Brownies I made around Christmas and was lamenting a bit because Candy Cane Kisses are only sold at Christmastime.  Boo. 

I was dreaming of something as decadent and luxurious as those as I walked the candy aisle when I came across the Andes Mints.  So I picked them up with dreams of minty brownie goodness and continued my shopping trip.  Then, I came across Andes mints baking chips in the baking aisle!  Even better since now I wouldn’t have to chop up the candies.

After I made these, I was immediately in love!  My husband, however, was a harder sell.  In his own words, he likes “pure unadulterated brownies” and considers nuts in brownies to be blasphemous.  Yet even he, the brownie purist, loved these brownies.  So go.  Make some brownies.  With all this snow and yuck, you deserve it.


Crème de Menthe Brownies
An Amy Original


1 family size box of brownie mix plus eggs, water, and oil as directed
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1 ¼ cups Andes Crème de Menthe baking chips


Preheat oven to 350, or as directed on the brownie box.  Spray a 9x13 inch pan with non stick spray, set aside.

Mix brownies, as directed.  Fold in the chocolate chips.  Pour into the pan and bake as directed until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Immediately after removing brownies from the oven, sprinkle the Andes mints oven the brownies.  The heat from the brownies will melt the chips.  Cool completely.

Enjoy!
Amy

Friday, February 4, 2011

Lemon & Ginger Chicken Stir Fry


Do you ever have one of those days when, no matter what, the meal you planned to make just won’t come together?  So here is what happened to me: 

·        The meal I had planned to make that day, I ended up making the day before instead.  No big deal, just switch the meals, right?
·        The day before, I accidentally cross contaminated the bread crumbs I needed for that meal and had to throw them out.  Ok, so use something planned for later in the week, right?
·        I forgot to take out the meat for the next day’s recipe
·        I would have needed to start another recipe in the crock pot 6 hours before.

Totally foiled.

So I started looking through the fridge and the pantry to see what I could come up with, and this recipe was born.  Funny side note…just as I was trying to open the wine for the marinade, the father of the little girl I was babysitting came to pick her up.  Nothing like having your babysitter cracking open a bottle of wine to freak you out…oops.


Lemon & Ginger Chicken Stir Fry
An Amy Original

6 tbsp dry red wine
¼ cup onions, diced
1 tbsp fresh ginger, shredded
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut in 1-inch cubes
2 celery sticks, diced
2 carrots, cut in coins
2 tbsp olive oil
Zest from 1 lemon (1-2 tbsp)
2 tbsp soy sauce
4 oz mushrooms, sliced
2 ½ cups broccoli florets


Combine the red wine, onions, and ginger in a bowl.  Add the chicken, toss well to coat.  Let marinate in the bowl for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile heat the oil in a frying pan.  Add celery and carrots.  Cook for about 3 minutes. 

Add the chicken and the marinade.  Cook for about 7 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and the marinade is reduced. 

Stir the soy sauce, lemon zest, broccoli, and mushrooms.  Turn heat to medium-low and cover to let the broccoli steam for 3 minutes.

Serve over brown rice and garnish with lemon slices.

Enjoy!
Amy

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Red Velvet Pancakes


When I was growing up, I remember always wanting special meals all day on Valentine’s Day.  I always wanted to start with something sweet like donuts.  My mom usually didn’t indulge me with this treat (especially on school days).  So I got to thinking about an indulgent breakfast that could still be healthy, yet feel special for my sweeties.  


For a fun, nutritious Valentine’s Day breakfast, I decided to break out those beets again.  I made these pancakes full of fiber (whole wheat flour, wheat germ, and flax seed) and those yummy beets added all sorts of vitamins and their lovely red color.


Red Velvet Pancakes
An Amy Original

1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
½ cup whole wheat flour
2 tbsp wheat germ
2 tbsp ground flaxseed
1 tbsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1 tbsp cocoa powder, unsweetened
1/3 cup chocolate chips
2 large eggs, beaten
1 1/3 cups vanilla almond milk (or regular lowfat milk)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp honey
½ cup beet puree

Whisk together the all purpose flour, whole wheat flour, wheat germ, flaxseed, baking powder, salt, cocoa powder, and chocolate chips in a large bowl.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, vanilla, honey, and beet puree until well blended.  Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.

Heat a large non stick skillet to medium-high heat. Pour the batter onto the hot skillet, using a heaping 2 tablespoon scoop.

Cook until bubbles begin to appear on the surface of the pancakes and the bottoms turn pink, about 3 minutes.  Flip and cook until pink, an additional 2-3 minutes.

Serve with powdered sugar or your favorite syrup.


Makes about 20 pancakes

Enjoy!
Amy

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Slow Cooker Spicy Bison and Pork Chili


The Super Bowl is this weekend, so why not whip up a big bowl of chili?  Or make it anytime, just for fun.  This recipe is man food at its best.  Two kinds of meat, and super spicy—it’s a winner.  My husband couldn’t get enough of it!  It makes a huge batch and he was asking for more right away!


Slow Cooker Spicy Bison and Pork Chili
Adapted slightly from The Cooking Photographer

¾ lb ground bison
1 lb hot Italian sausage
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
3 (14.5 oz) cans diced tomatoes with roasted garlic (see note)
1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
3 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
2 (15 oz) can kidney beans


In a large skillet, cook the meats, onions, and garlic until the meat is browned and the onions are tender.

Without draining, place the meat mixture into a large crockpot (I’ll be honest, I drained it a little!)  Add in the tomatoes, tomatoes sauce and all spices.  Stir to combine.  Cook on high 5-6 hours or on low for 10-12 hours.  Stir once or twice through the cooking.

About an hour before the chili is done, skim off any fat pooled on the top with a tablespoon and discard.  Then drain and rinse the beans and add them to the pot.

Serve with crackers and a sprinkling of cheese.



Note: I misread the instructions before I went to the store and ended up with only 1 can of diced tomatoes with roasted garlic.  So I also threw in one can of diced tomatoes with chilies and one can of Italian style diced tomatoes

Enjoy!
Amy



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