Google Amy's Cooking Adventures: May 2012
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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Melt in Your Mouth Chicken




If you’re on Pinterest, you’ve likely seen this recipe cross your pinboard a time or two.  After seeing it several times and hearing it recommended by a friend, I know it was time to jump on the bandwagon and give this one a try.

The verdict?  The sauce was delicious and yielded a nice, moist chicken breast.  Mine didn’t brown up as much as the original photo, but it could be because I used lite mayo instead of regular.  I also made this with 4 nice sized chicken breasts and had plenty of sauce to spare.  I easily could have covered 6 chicken breasts in the sauce.

Melt in Your Mouth Chicken
Adapted from Food.com

4-6 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 cup lite mayo with olive oil
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
1 ½ tsp seasoning salt
1 tsp garlic powder
½ tsp black pepper

Monday, May 28, 2012

White Queso Dip





Awhile back, I posted a recipe for a copycat Qdoba Queso.  It was delicious and though it was a little on the grainy side, a pretty close approximation.  This dip, however, blows that one out of the water.

This one is a bit milder but so silky smooth.  And there’s bacon.  Bacon makes everything better. 

Recipe Notes:
*This queso is delicious as it, but for a spicier dip, leave some seeds and ribs on the jalapeno or add a dash of cayenne!


White Queso Dip
Adapted from Two Peas & Their Pod

1 medium poblano pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
¼ cup white onion, diced
1 medium jalapeno, diced (seeds and ribs removed)
10 oz white American cheese, shredded
6 oz pepper jack cheese, shredded
1 cup whole milk
1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
1 roma tomato, diced (seeds removed)
¼ cup real bacon pieces


Saturday, May 26, 2012

Toffee-Pretzel Peanut Butter Cookies





I’m a sucker for a good cookie.  And these cookies, in all of their salty-sweet glory, most certainly raised the “good cookie” bar.   There are so many wonderful flavors at work here.  I left my pretzel pieces and my toffee pieces quite large so that when I bit into the cookies, I could get a big mouthful of delicious toffee and salty pretzel, all wrapped up in peanut butter.  I wonder if this could be made into a pancake…because I want to eat these for breakfast.


Toffee-Pretzel Peanut Butter Cookies

2 cups creamy peanut butter
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 cup broken salted pretzel pieces
1 cup English toffee bars (such as Heath or Scor), chopped


Friday, May 25, 2012

Poblano Pesto Pizza




Grilled pizza is my latest obsession.  So when I had some leftover Poblano Pesto, I just knew that pizza was the perfect way to use it all up.

This simple vegetarian pizza was so good that my two little picky eaters even ate it (Yay!  Mommy wins!), while my husband and I simply couldn’t get enough.  The unique flavors of the poblano pesto blend beautifully with the grilled dough and we can’t wait to make it again!

Recipe Notes:
*To bake instead of grill, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F and bake for 8-10 minutes or until the crust is lightly browned and cheese is melted.
*If your grill is large enough, you can cook 2 pizzas at once, just beware of hot spots and be sure you can work quickly enough.


Poblano Pesto Pizza
An Amy’s Cooking Adventures Original

Quick Whole Wheat Pizza Dough
1 cup warm water (110 degree F)
1 tbsp active dry yeast
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 ½ tbsp vital wheat gluten
2 ½ cups whole wheat flour

Toppings
1 tomato, diced
¾ cup mozzarella cheese, finely shredded
¼ cup Asiago cheese, finely shredded


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Waffle Iron Pizzas




I am an avid reader.  To the point that I can barely set a book down once I am intrigued.  When I start reading a good book, I live and breathe reading.  This is only exacerbated when I am reading a series because when one book ends, another is just beginning!  It’s kind of a problem.

During these feverish reading marathons (thank you, Hunger Games for taking over 3 days) I tend to get a bit distracted.  Trivial matters starting dinner fall to the wayside.  This is a meal for just such a day.  These little pizza pockets are made with ingredients that are already in the refrigerator and are done in less than five minutes, thanks to the handy waffle maker!


Recipe Notes:
*The sky is the limit when it comes to fillings!  Use your favorite pizza toppings or even breakfast foods (ham & eggs?  I think I see a future blog post!)

Waffle Iron Pizzas

1 tube of refrigerated large Buttermilk Biscuits
12 slices turkey pepperoni, cut in quarters
2 tbsp bacon bits
½ cup mozzarella cheese

Monday, May 21, 2012

Sweet & Sticky Baked Chicken



I’m not one to use a lot of bone-in chicken when I cook.  For some reason, bone-in chicken freaks me out.  I’m always worried that I’m going to undercook it and poison my family.

But one day I ended up with double coupons for chicken legs.  Since I can’t pass up a good deal, I decided to set my misgivings aside and make some delicious marinated chicken legs.

I loved these chicken legs because the sticky marinade is so reminiscent of chicken wings.  It’s like morphing an appetizer into an entrée without embarrassing yourself at the buffet table – not that that’s ever happened or anything.


Recipe Notes:
*If you forget to marinate the chicken overnight, just let it set in the marinade at room temperature for 30 minutes or so.  The flavor won’t get into the chicken as deeply, but all those wonderful flavors will still be on the outer parts of the chicken.
*Experiment using this marinade on different parts of the chicken or on boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs.
*Also try these as chicken wings and they become instant man food (think Super Bowl parties!)


Sweet & Sticky Baked Chicken
Adapted from The Novice Chef Blog

6 chicken legs (about 1 ½ lbs)
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
¼ cup honey
¼ cup packed brown sugar
2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
1 ½ tsp minced garlic (3 cloves)
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp black pepper
1 tbsp sesame seeds

Friday, May 18, 2012

Butterfly Cake (Cherry Vanilla Cake)




Last weekend (on Mother’s Day, in fact!), my good friend had her lovely daughter baptized.  The theme was butterflies and the colors were bright pink, navy, & white.


To match with the theme, I made the cake (and cupcakes) half white cake, and half (pink) cherry vanilla cake.  With some lovely butterflies swirling around a 3-tired cake, it was a real show stopper!


And as the real icing on the cake, we got a very rare action shot of the cake construction (and I don’t even look like a goon!)


Recipe notes:
*If there is not enough maraschino cherry juice for a complete 2/3 cup, fill the remainder with water.


Cherry Vanilla Cake
Adapted from Jam Hands

1 (10 oz) jar maraschino cherries; drained, juice reserved
2/3 cup reserved maraschino cherry juice (see note)
1 package of white cake mix
1 ¼ cups water (or as indicated on the package)
1/3 cup canola oil (or as indicated on the package)
½ cup canola oil (in addition to the previous amount)
4 egg whites
1 cup all purpose flour
¾ cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
3-5 drop red food coloring, optional

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Pork Chops with Mustard Sauce



I’m having one of those writer’s block days. 

I’ve sat here staring at these yummy pork chop photos trying to think of something to say.  What do you say about Pork Chops with Mustard Sauce?  They were delicious (of course they were or I wouldn’t be sharing).  Ummmm…that’s all. 

All I’ve really succeeded in doing is making myself hungry for pork chops and it’s 10 am.  And I don’t have any pork chops in the refrigerator that I could make. And I’m too lazy to drag the children (one of whom is still in pajamas) to the store.  Sad.

This is a super simple recipe that is tasty because of its simplicity (ß that’s my deep thought for today, I’m sure you’re all impressed)  I’m going to go take a nap now and save the rest of my deep thoughts for later.


Recipe Notes:
*Since grilling weather is here, cook the pork chops outside on the grill!  Just start the sauce with a drizzle of oil for the onions and make as written.
*You can use bone-in or boneless chops with this recipe.  I typically use boneless because bones freak me out.

Pork Chops with Mustard Sauce
Adapted from What is Cooking Now?

4 pork loin chops (about 1.5 lbs)
Salt and pepper
1 tbsp canola oil or bacon drippings
2 tbsp white onion, finely diced
½ cup chicken broth
¼ cup Dijon mustard
2 tbsp whole milk


Monday, May 14, 2012

Poblano Pesto


For this month’s Secret Recipe Club, I had the pleasure of cooking up a recipe from Jennifer’s blog, Jen’s Journey.  Jennifer is a mother of two and a baker at heart (sound familiar?)

Secret Recipe Club

Jennifer has so many lovely recipes, I had trouble choosing just one, but ultimately Poblano Pesto won out.  The pesto was absolutely phenomenal!  I loved the way the cool temperature of the pesto contradicted the spiciness of the peppers and how that tasted over a nice hot steak.

I had quite a bit of pesto left over and I can’t wait to share how I used that up!  Be sure to stop by Jen’s Journey and say, hi!


Poblano Pesto
Adapted from Jen’s Journey

2 poblano peppers
½ cup grated parmesan
¼ cup cilantro, packed
2 cloves garlic (1 tsp minced garlic)
1 tbsp chili powder
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
Pinch of salt


Saturday, May 12, 2012

Crème de Menthe Cupcakes




Tomorrow is Mother's Day, so what better way to make Mom feel special than with a beautiful box of cupcakes?


Today’s recipe is a delicious Crème de Menthe Cupcake.  A chocolaty, minty cupcake topped off with a simple vanilla icing, this is the perfect way to show your appreciation for all of Mom’s hard work!


Recipe Notes:
*I used Girl Scout Thin Mints in this recipe, but you can use grasshopper cookies or other mint cookies
*I used Andes Crème de Menthe Baking chips for the mint chips in this recipe


Crème de Menthe Cupcakes
An Amy’s Cooking Adventures Original Recipe

Cupcakes
1 box Devil’s Food Cake Mix with pudding
3 eggs
1 ¼ cups water
½ cup canola oil
8 mint cookies, crushed, about ½ cup
½ cup mint chips

Crème de Menthe Ganache
¾ cup Crème de Menthe baking chips
1 ½ tbsp cream or whole milk


Vanilla Icing
1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 ¼ cups powdered sugar

Friday, May 11, 2012

Avocado, Cucumber, & Pepper Jack Melt



More and more often, I find myself turning to a simple vegetarian salad or sandwich for lunch.  Here is this week’s obsession.

Avocado, Cucumber, & Pepper Jack Melt
An Amy’s Cooking Adventures Original Recipe

2 slices 100% whole wheat bread, toasted
1 oz pepper jack cheese, sliced thin
1/3 avocado, sliced
1/3 cucumber, sliced
Spinach or lettuce

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Whole Wheat Pancake Stackers



Mother’s Day is this Sunday, so why not treat mom to something special?

These little pancake stackers were so fun!  My kids loved deconstructing them.  My older son loved dipping the pancakes into the syrup, while the younger one was all about licking the whipped cream off the top (I think it’s possible that he only ate whipped cream for dinner…oops).

The skewers can be a little unstable the higher you stack them (and a bit dangerous and pokey for the youngsters), so after the first few rounds, I made the pancakes bigger and just topped them with the whipped cream and strawberries.  The pancakes weren’t as visually stunning this way, but they were a little more kid friendly and just as delicious!


Recipe Notes:
*When mixing the wet ingredients with the dry, be sure to leave it lumpy (don’t beat it smooth).  Overbeating will result in dense, tough pancakes.

Whole Wheat Pancake Stackers
Pancake recipe adapted from The Frugal Girl

1 ¼ cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 egg
Strawberries, sliced
Whipped cream
Bamboo skewers, optional
Maple syrup, optional

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Using Up Leftover Easter Candy



Easter was a month ago now.  And if you’re anything like me, you had a lot of Easter candy.  If your kids are like mine, they ate their favorites and now you have this:


A month out and I realize that these bunnies just aren’t going to be eaten.  So what to do?


Chop them up and put them in cookies!

Problem solved!


Note: Also chop up left over Halloween/Christmas/Valentine's Day Candy.  Also mix the candy into other treats like brownies or pancakes!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Chipotle Sour Cream Dip for Sweet Potato Fries



One of my favorite restaurants serves sweet potato fries (deliciously fried, not baked) with an amazing chipotle aioli sauce.

Since we don’t go out to eat often, I’ve long tried to replicate this delicious appetizer.  Last year, I made a crispy baked sweet potato fry by using a breading.  I also made a sour cream dip that was spicy and good, but a bit of a shortcut.

This year I moved back to the basics, with a simple baked fry (sadly not crispy, by tasty nonetheless) and a chipotle dip that is just as easy, but much tastier than my last attempt.   The chipotle peppers add a heat that blends beautifully with the sour cream (if you’re sensitive to heat, I recommend using less chipotle pepper). 

This is definitely going to be our new go to sweet potato fry dip.  Now if only I could bake up a crispy sweet potato fry!  Any suggestions?


Recipe Notes:
*The dip can be eaten right away, but the flavors will mellow and the dip will become spicier as it rests.
*To tone down the spiciness, use just one chipotle pepper instead of two.
*If you have buttermilk on hand, use 2 tablespoons of buttermilk in place of the milk and buttermilk powder
*To make the sweet potato fries, I used this method, replacing the white potatoes with sweet potatoes.  These were seasoned with 1 tsp Lawry’s Seasoning Salt and ¼ tsp garlic powder (in addition to the corn starch & olive oil in the recipe).  Bake for about 20 minutes.


Chipotle Sour Cream Dip

¼ cup Reduced Fat Mayo with Olive Oil
¾ cup Low Fat Sour Cream
2 canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (1 tbsp of the sauce)
Small handful of chives (about 2 tbsp)
Small handful of cilantro (about 2 tbsp)
1 clove garlic (½ tsp minced garlic)
½ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp black pepper
1 tbsp cultured buttermilk powder
2 tbsp lowfat milk

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Tutorial: Decorating with Marshmallow Fondant



When I decorate cakes for events, I usually use Marshmallow Fondant.  I use MM Fondant because it has the same smooth finish as traditional fondant but it tastes much better and is very inexpensive!

If you’ve never made or used fondant, it ca be a little tricky, so I’m sharing a two-part tutorial on how to make MM fondant and then how to decorate with it.

Last week, we looked at the making of MM fondant, so this week we’re learning how to decorate with it!  Enjoy!


Decorating with Marshmallow Fondant

If you missed the tutorial on how to make MM fondant, check it out here.


Now that the fondant is all colored and ready to go, we need a cake.   This amount of fondant will easily cover an 8, 9, or 10 inch cake with some to spare.  If you are covering a tiered cake (let’s say an 8-inch and a 6-inch cake) you will likely need and additional half batch of fondant.  

Today I’m decorating an 8-inch square cake.


First of all, cover your cake with buttercream, at least 1/8 inch thick (ignore all the crumbs on my cake – it was a new recipe that turned out to be rather crumbly – good thing I was planning on covering it with fondant!)

Now it is time to measure your cake.  Even if you know your pan sizes (my cake is two 8x1.5 inch square layers stacked on top of one another), always measure with a ruler to verify (my ruler is pretty snazzy, eh?). 


In this case, my cake is 3 inches tall by 8 inches wide.  Now it is simple mathematics.  Always (for square or round cakes) take your width and add the height twice (or W + 2H).  For my cake this looks like: 8 + 3 + 3 = 14. 

Therefore, when I am rolling out my fondant, I need it to be at least 14x14 inches (I roll out a large circle regardless of the shape of my cake.  And it is not usually perfectly circular, more nodular).  I usually add an additional inch or two, just to be on the safe side.  For this cake, I actually rolled out a 16x16 inch circle, about 1/8 inch thick.


I always roll out my fondant on a thin fondant rolling mat that has been very lightly dusted with corn starch.  It is marked with sizes and is flexible enough to be flipped directly onto the cake and peeled off. 


If you do not have a mat that can be used for this purpose, dust the surface of the fondant with corn starch and gently roll the fondant onto a rolling pin, carefully unrolling the fondant onto the cake.  Also use this second method if you need to roll the fondant larger than your rolling mat. 

If you notice any air bubbles as you roll, insert a toothpick into the bubble and press down on the bubble to release all the air.  Continue rolling as usual.

Using the palms of your hands or a fondant smoother, gently smooth the fondant over the top of the cake, starting at the center and moving to the edges.

Then move to the sides.  Smooth the fondant along the sides of the cake, taking care that the fondant is flush against the cake, especially near the bottom.  


At times, the fondant may wrinkle (this will specifically happen at the corners on a square cake, but will occur on round cakes as well).
 

To remove the wrinkle, gently pull and stretch the fondant to cover the area and smooth down.





Use a sharp knife or pizza cutter dusted in corn starch to cut away the excess fondant.  Smooth down the sides with a fondant smoother.


Now the cake is covered!  


Add any details and borders using fondant or buttercream.


Check out these other cakes that were decorated with Marshmallow Fondant:
-Wall-e Cake
-Zebra Stripe Wedding Cake
-Xylosaurus Cake
-Beautiful Bow Cake
-Modern Circle Cake
-Pretty in Pink Cake


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