Sunday, January 29, 2012

Cucumber and Avocado Salad

My friend picked out this recipe to serve with mac and cheese and bbq chicken and it was GREAT. Tony the Tiger style great.

2 cups chopped cucumbers (3-4 medium cucumbers or 2 larger cucumbers)
salt, for drawing water out of cucumber
1-2 ripe avocados, peeled and chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
1-2 tsp. fresh lime juice (to toss with avocado)
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh mint (measure after chopping)
1/2 cup crumbled feta (more or less to taste)

Dressing Ingredients:
2 T extra-virgin olive oil
1 T fresh lime juice


Peel cucumbers, and scrape out seeds if they are large. Cut cucumber into 1/2 inch pieces and put in colander. (we skipped over this next part and just let the cucumber sit with the feta. No blotting, either). Sprinkle with generous amount of salt and let sit for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, use paper towels to blot the cucumbers to remove the water and salt.

While cucumber is draining, peel avocado and chop into 1/2 inch pieces.  Put avocado into large salad bowl and toss with the 1 or 2 tsp. lime juice. Wash mint and chop with chef's knife or mini-processor. Whisk together olive oil and lime juice to make dressing and measure 1/2 cup crumbled feta.

Add drained cucumbers, mint, and dressing to avocado and combine. Then gently stir the crumbled feta into salad ingredients. Serve immediately.

This was so good. Very light and refreshing, and the mint was perfect. I think it will be an excellent salad for summer time. Might also be good with some red bell peppers for a little color. Maybe next time.

Revolutionary Mac & Cheese

LeGreg and I made our way down to lovely Fresno this weekend to hang out with some friends. His friend lives in a pretty nice little area in Clovis, just outside of Fresno, and we ended up having a pretty great weekend.

The weekend was topped off with a collabo dinner of cucumber avo salad, this mac and cheese (from the Macaroni and Cheesecake blog), and bbq chicken.

Fantasticness ensued.

2 cups dried pasta
2 cups 2% or skim milk
1 cup loosely packed shredded cheddar cheese (
we  used extra sharp)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dijon mustard
In a small saucepan, add pasta and milk.  Bring to simmer, then reduce heat to low and cook for 20 minutes, until pasta is soft, stirring frequently (I stirred constantly. Milk on the stove is a fickle character) and ensuring milk does not boil.
Turn heat off, add cheese & salt & and stir to combine.  Stir in the mustard a little at a time to taste. Cover and let stand for about 5 minutes, then stir again and serve. If not creamy enough, add milk a little at a time, and gently stir.
If you would like to bake it at this point, place in a baking dish and top with a generous sprinkling of cheese. Bake at 375 degrees for approximately 10 minutes until cheese has melted. (We did this, but added some breadcrumbs on top, too)
As a side dish this makes enough for 4 people with no leftovers (can easily be doubled).
This was SO easy and SO creamy and delicious. I mean, seriously? Does a mac and cheese ingredient list GET any easier? Methinks no. There was exactly zero left when we were done with it, so I cant quite yet testify to how it holds up for leftovers. I'm not sure that I ever will...

Monday, January 23, 2012

Lemon Frosted Lemon Cake

My BFF came into town for her 30th birthday, so I wanted to do something special and unexpected. \

Bake a cake. 

Bake a LEMON cake, because she loves lemony things.  

1 cup (230 grams) unsaltedbutter, room temperature
1 cup (200 grams) granulated whitesugar
1 teaspoon purevanillaextract
4 largeeggs, room temperature
Zest of 1 largelemon(outer yellow skin of lemon)
2 cups (260 grams) all purposeflour
2 teaspoonsbaking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (60 ml) fresh lemon juice

Lemon Frosting:
1 cup (115 grams) confectioners' (powdered or icing) sugar, sifted
2 - 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Lemon Cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) and place ovenrack in the center of the oven. Butter, or spray with a non stick cooking spray, a 9 inch (23 cm) spring form pan and then line the bottom of the pan with parchment or wax paper.

In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer) beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy and pale in color (about 3-4 minutes). Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Beat in the vanilla extract. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition (batter will look curdled).

Sift or whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and lemon zest. Add the flour mixture (in three additions) alternately with the lemon juice (in two additions), mixing until you have a smooth batter. 

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top with the back of a spoon or an offset spatula. Bake about 40 - 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. (Do not over bake or the cake will be dry.) Place on a wire rack to cool for about 15 minutes, then gently remove the sides and bottom of the pan.

Lemon Frosting:Place the sifted confectioners sugar in a small bowl. Add 2 tablespoons lemon juice and stir until you have a thick and smooth glaze. Add more lemon juice or powdered sugar, as needed. Pour the frosting over the top of the cake, allowing it to drip down the sides. Let the frosting dry before covering and storing. This cake will keep for several days in anairtightcontainer.
Makes one - 9 inch (23 cm) cake.

First off, all of those links and that pic were with the original recipe. They aren't mine, so I can't be held accountable if it's porn or something. The picture is because mine didn't come out NEARLY that pretty. 

Turns out, I only had access to a 6-in pan, aaaaaand I didn't hear the timer go off, so it was a smidge overcooked and dry. My glaze also looked nothing like that. Mine was clear, BUT it tasted like a dream come true. I think they maybe used more powdered sugar? 

Baking makes me nervous, because there is so little room for error. This cake was pretty easy to assemble, though. I should have paid more attention to the "smoothing the top" part, though, as mine was a little domed and a lot not flat. Meh. Still tasted like cake, so no huge loss. 

Definitely worth making again, fo sho. 

Monday, January 16, 2012

Avocado Spinach Egg Salad

From We Are Not Martha.

We know my love of shoving veggies in stuff to make myself feel slightly less guilty about eating my weight in it.

This egg salad?

GUILT FREE. Completely. Also completely great tasting.

  • 7 eggs, hardboiled
  • 4 oz. plain greek yogurt
  • 2 avocados
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1 C baby spinach (I chopped mine just a bit)
  • Hot pepper flakes to taste
  • Good bread, toasted if you want

1) Once your eggs are cooled, peel them and mash them up with the Greek yogurt. Sprinkle some salt and pepper on top, too. 
2) Peel and pit your avocados and mash those up, too. Add a little salt and pepper to this, too, if you'd like.
3) Combine the egg with the avocado. 
4) Mix in the cup of spinach and the celery.
5) Add hot pepper flakes for an extra punch.
6) Serve on good, crusty bread. 

(Makes 5-6 sandwiches)

How I cook my eggs: place the eggs in the pan, then put your cool water in, covering the eggs with it. By putting the eggs in first, you're less likely to crack one than if you drop it into the water. Also, heating the eggs up with the water will usually prevent them busting open from heating up too fast. When they're done cooking, toss them in some ice water to cool. The quick cool will make the egg pull away from the shell a bit and make it way easier to peel.

I opted to make this as more of a dip than a sandwich and served with wheat crackers instead of on bread. Both the boy and I wolfed it down! It's really filling and doesn't even have mayo in it! The avo made it plenty creamy. Make sure it's properly seasoned, though. Mine needed just a touch more S&P, and it made all the difference. 

This recipe is an absolute keeper! I'll for sure be making it again. And again....and again....

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Crockpot BBQ Beer Chicken

How Sweet It Is strikes again!

This recipe was the first thing to grace my new crockpot.

And it was WORTHY.

Crockpot BBQ Beer Chicken
serves about 8-10
3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 6 large)
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
8 ounces of beer (I used a classic amber)
32 ounces of barbecue sauce
Season chicken with onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, salt and pepper. Add to crockpot, then add beer and 24 ounces of barbecue sauce. Cook on low for 8 hours, tossing once or twice if desired. After 8 hours, shred and add remaining barbecue sauce. Serve as desired.
Notes (these are all hers):
1. I’ve found that *thinner* barbecue sauce works better (such as Bone Suckin’ Sauce) than thicker sauce (like Sweet Baby Ray’s). If you choose to use a thicker sauce, you may want to add a little more beer (or liquid) in order for the sauce not to burn and thicken on the edges of the pot. This is also the reason I don’t use myhomemade barbecue sauce.
2. If you don’t want to use beer, you can try a ginger ale, chicken stock, or even water.
3. This makes a ton of chicken and I usually freeze immediately freeze a container for later.

I set everything up this morning and let this blaze all day. It has SO few ingredients and was SO easy to make! When I got home from work, I panicked. The sauce had cooked WAY down (duh) and the chicken looked dry. Once I took a fork to it, shredded it up, and mixed it with the remaining sauce, all worries were gone. This couldn't be easier! I plopped a bunch on a slice of whole wheat bread, topped with a drizzle of bbq sauce and went to town. 
LeGreg was supposed to come down here tonight, which is why I made food. Now he's not coming until tomorrow. There will be no leftovers. That's a promise, not a threat.   

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Cookie Dough Dip

( From Chocolate Covered Katie. The pic, too )

You guys.

What we have here, is a game changer.

A healthy cookie dough dip that REALLY tastes like cookie dough.

  • 1 1/2 cups chickpeas (1 can, drained) (250g)
  • 1/8 tsp plus 1/16 tsp salt (maybe a TINY bit more? MAYBE 1/4 tsp?)
  • tiny bit over 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup nut butter (You can get away with using only 3 T. If you use peanut butter, it’ll have a very-slight “pb cookie dough” taste, so if you don’t want this, you can sub oil.)(I used almond oil)
  • up to 1/4 cup milk of choice (Start with 1 T, and add more as needed) (I used 1/4 cup almond milk)
  • Sweetener (see note below, for amount) (her note says that she used 2/3 cup of brown sugar, so I followed suit)
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips (I used 1/2 cup. Let's be honest.)
  • 2 to 3 T oats (or flaxmeal) (You can omit, but also omit the milk if you do) (I used the flax seed, 2 T)
Add all ingredients (except for chocolate chips) to a food processor, and blend until very smooth. Then mix in the chocolate chips.

Nic and I gobbled this up. It was....surprisingly spot on. I mean, it probably wouldn't win a side by side comparison with real cookie dough, but it was pretty damn close. Nic nailed it when she said that it needed to be a little thicker. Sticking it in the fridge for a bit might have thickened it up. We had no such will power to wait.

We used pretzels and wafer cookies as vessels to shove this in our faces. It was REALLY good. There is a decent amount of sugar in it, but not too bad. And garbanzo beans?! Are you kidding me? Brills! Chocolate Covered Katie has a snickerdoodle version, too...will probably need to check that out immediately.

Edit: LeGreg's mom brought this to a work potluck. Everyone gobbled it up and refused to believe her when she finally told them what was in it. They made her show them the recipe. Also, Nic brought this to her moms house. Her stepbrothers who, I'm not even slightly joking, eat almost NOTHING except cheese pizza, went to town on this. I don't think she ever told them what was in it. Why ruin a good thing, right?

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Stuffed Chicken with Tomatoes and Arugula

I got some pretty rad new additions to my kitchen for Christmas!
  • Crockpot (from my parents)
  • Cast iron dutch oven pot thing (from LeGreg's parents, at his suggestion)
  • What to Cook & How to Cook It, by Jane Hornby (from my sister)
My sister got me the cookbook after I flipped when she mentioned making goat cheese stuffed, bacon wrapped chicken. Can you even imagine. The cookbook is rad, because it shows pictures of the ingredients and each step of each recipe. I had to stop putting sticky notes on the recipes I liked out of it, because it was basically every page.

Last night, for New Years Eve, I decided to make that chicken for LeGreg and our friends Nic and Rob. It was....killer.

Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 25 mins
Serves: 4 (easily halved)

2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
4 med skinless boneless chicken breasts (omg the ones I got from Trader Joe's were ENORMOUS)
3.5 oz soft goat cheese (or any full-fat soft cheese)
8 strips dry-cured smoked bacon (Trader Joe's didn't have any cured bacon, so I just got smoked un-cured)
1 Tbl sunflower or veggie oil
4 large or 6 smaller ripe tomatoes (I got 5 med, and it was A LOT...but not too much)
1 clove of garlic
2 Tbl extra-virgin olive oil
3.5 oz arugula or other leafy salad green
1/2 lemon

Preheat the oven to 400F. Finely chop the needle-shape leaves from the rosemary. Put the chicken onto a cutting board. Using a small sharp knife, cut a slit into the thickest part of each chicken breast, then poke down inside the chicken to make a pocket, using your fingers to help, then seal the pocket up as well as you can (uhhh.....yeah right).

Season the chicken with salt and pepper, then sprinkle with half of the rosemary. Wrap 2 strips of the bacon tightly around each piece of chicken, tucking in any loose ends.

Place a shallow, flameproof casserole (dish?) (like your brand new cast iron dish!!) over high heat, then add the sunflower or veggie oil. After 30 secs, add the chicken. Cook for at least 2 mins on each side, until the bacon is starting to turn golden. Kitchen tongs are useful here. (The bacon totally stuck to the pan and my gigantor chicken had to be shoved in there for all 4 pieces to fit, so it looked slightly mangled by the time they were done browning. Oops)

Meanwhile, very thickly slice the tomatoes and thinly slice the garlic. Add the tomatoes to the casserole (DISH), then sprinkle them with the remaining rosemary and the garlic. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with about 1/2 Tbl of the olive oil. Put the pan into the oven for 25 mins.

Remove the pan from the oven and set aside for a couple of minutes to let the chicken rest. The chicken will be surrounded with delicious tomato flavored juices.

(I stopped here. I didn't serve with the arugula, instead I served with a side of green beans. )

Put the arugula into a large bowl. Squeeze the juice from the lemon over it and drizzle with the remaining olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve the chicken with the salad, drizzling some of the pan juices around each plate.

Everyone, including myself, LOVED this. The chicken was cooked perfectly, the goat cheese was creamy and delish, and BACON. 

I really need to get some different colored plates to take my pics on. My pea green plates look like snot on camera! Damn it...