Friday, March 30, 2012

Recipe Swap Roundup - SRC-Style Part 2

It seems my fellow recipe swappers really enjoy being able to pick any recipe they like from their assigned blog a la the Secret Recipe Club (known as SRC), so I've decided to make it a regular theme. Look for this style of swap every few months (I'm planning two themes, SRC, two themes, SRC, which works out to about every 6 weeks).

Melissa is always looking for meatless dishes for Lent and she really enjoyed this Salmon with Lemon Compound Butter:


Caitlin had corned beef leftover from St. Patrick's Day and was looking for an excuse to try poaching eggs, so she chose Corned Beef Hash with Poached Eggs for the swap:


Nicole enjoyed her simple and delicious English Muffin Bread, which tasted just like the English muffins she loves only in bread form:


The Cookaholic Wife wanted a meal she could make ahead and freeze, so she chose Chicken Cheese Enchiladas:


Kate's husband was in charge of picking her recipe for the swap and he chose White Cheddar Chicken Pasta:


Ammie needed to use up some strawberries, so she settled on these delicious Strawberry Pancakes with Strawberry Maple Compound Butter for breakfast:


Allison is a breakfast lover so these Maple Oatmeal Pancakes were a great addition to her repertoire:


Christina's family loved her Easy Mexi Chicken, especially the cheese sauce:


Eva loves to bake and her husband loves apple pie so it was an easy choice with Warm Apple Buttermilk Pie:


Dawn wanted a recipe that could be grilled because of the warm weather we've been heaving. She chose BBQ Cheddar Burgers with Caramelized Onions, which were perfect:


Lishie is always looking for new chicken recipes, so the Filipino-Grilled Chicken was a natural choice:


It had been awhile since Katie used her donut pan and since her daughter was home on spring break she thought Baked Chocolate Doughnuts would be a great choice:


Heather was in the mood for something sweet and these Oatmeal Apricot Cherry Bars caught her eye:


Kelsey was nervous about being assigned a baking blog since she doesn't have a good track record when it comes to baking, but this Two-Minute Chocolate Mug Cake couldn't have been easier:


Britney ended up making two recipes, one of which was Spicy Yogurt Marinated Chicken, which packed great flavor:


Coleen was initially hesitant about making Spanikopita, but discovered it was well worth the time and effort:


Jaida had some ground beef to use up so she found a recipe for BBQ Meatballs, which even included making her own ketchup from scratch:


Jey was enamored with the marinade for her Strawberry Balsamic Chicken with Grilled French Onion Packets, which also allowed her to take advantage of the gorgeous weather by using her grill:


Cathy made guilt-free Peanut Butter Oatmeal Snack Cake, which was delicious for breakfast:


Brianna's Soft Garlic Knots were a trip down memory lane:


Melissa is a sucker for peanut butter and chocolate so when she saw these Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies she knew she had to make them:


Nicole made tasty Eggs Baked in a Bread Bowl:


Joelen made these Caramel Pecan Bun Muffins for her team at work:


Mary Ellen had a tough time choosing a recipe but finally settled on Balsamic Glazed Chicken, which she and her dad loved:


I'm a sucker for mint chocolate chip ice cream so I couldn't wait to make these Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies:


Ashley was also enjoying some warm weather when she picked Grilled Tandoori Chicken to go with a channa masala recipe she'd been wanting to try:


Carrie's daughter and husband love popcorn so she made Peanut Butter and Honey Popcorn as a special treat for them:


Jill finally got around to trying the delicious Chicken Gyros (and homemade Naan) that have been floating around the blogosphere for awhile:


Melissa loved theShrimp & Mushroom Spaghetti she chose, even if her daughter picked out all the shrimp:


Lauren made these Crispy Chicken Wontons as a side for stir-fry and they were perfectly delicious:


Jenna's Roasted Jalapeno Mashed Potatoes were the best mashed potatoes she's ever had:


Kim is a Nutella lover so this Nutella Latte was a great choice and the best coffee drink she's ever had:

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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Weeknight Spaghetti and Meatballs


One of the only magazines I continue to subscribe to is Cook's Country. I love their recipes but the real reason is they don't make their content available on their website. That irks me quite a bit, but it's a good move on their part since it forces folks to buy their magazine. SP was looking through the most recent issue and came across this one for Weeknight Spaghetti and Meatballs. He's a big spaghetti and meatballs fan but he also thought it would be great because it's a one-pot meal. Score!


This couldn't have been easier to make. SP wished there had been more spaghetti and less meatballs, so I need to figure out how to make that work next time. I felt like the meatballs needed more seasoning than just the garlic, so I added salt, pepper and Italian seasoning. I had the meatballs rolled in about 10 minutes and put them in the fridge to stay cold until I was ready to cook. I think that was a good step because the meatballs held together perfectly while cooking, so I modified the recipe below.


Baby Girl absolutely loved this dish. She had thirds of the spaghetti (don't you love that toddlers call spaghetti "pasketti?") and we already know how much she loves meatballs and these were no exception. She was covered from head to toe in red sauce, which made for some adorable pictures.

I'll be making this often, especially in the fall and winter.

Weeknight Spaghetti and Meatballs
Slightly Modified from Cook's Country

1 pound meatloaf mix (ground beef, pork and veal)
1/3 cup panko
1 large egg, lightly beaten
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 (28-oz) can crushed tomatoes
2 cups water
8 ounces spaghetti, broken in half
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
Grated cheese for serving

Combine meat, panko, egg, half the garlic, Italian seasoning and some salt and pepper in a bowl and knead gently until combined. Form meat into 48 meatballs, about 1-inch around. Refrigerate for 20 minutes to firm up the meat.

Heat oil in a large, 12-inch non-stick skillet with high sides over medium heat until just smoking. Cook meatballs until well browned all over, about 5 minutes. Transfer meatballs to a paper towel-lined plate. Drain fat from the skillet.

Add 1 tablespoon oil to the now-empty skillet over medium-high heat. Add the remaining garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add tomatoes, water, pasta, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring often, until pasta begins to soften, about 7 minutes.

Return meatballs to the skillet and simmer, covered, until meatballs are cooked through and pasta is al dente, about 5 minutes. Off heat, stir in basil. Serve with grated cheese.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Recipe Swap - Sriracha Beef Tacos

As I said in Friday's post, I decided to make one sweet and one savory recipe from Jaida's blog, Sweet Beginnings, for the SRC-style recipe swap. Friday brought you the sweet recipe, now here's the savory.


I decided to go with something from her Taco Tuesday posts and then narrowed it down further by looking for a ground beef taco recipe since I have a bunch of ground beef taking up space in my freezer. I was sold when I reached the first recipe in her Taco Tuesday series, Sriracha Beef Tacos. I loved the Ultimate Sriracha Burger that inspired the tacos and already had most of the ingredients on hand.


Jaida isn't a fan of blue cheese but we are, so I switched the dressing back from ranch to blue cheese. I used cheddar instead of pepper jack because I had some on hand and I decreased the amount of Sriracha because I can't handle as much spice as Jaida.

I think 2 tablespoons of chili powder was too much and, unfortunately, the ground beef was a tad gritty because of it. The flavor was still good but the texture was off-putting. I've decreased the amount in the recipe below. These were still beautiful tacos with great flavor, not to mention a nice change of pace from the usual ground beef taco.

Sriracha Beef Tacos
Slightly Modified from Sweet Beginnings

1 lb lean ground sirloin
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion or shallot, finely chopped
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon Sriracha*, divided
1/2 cup blue cheese dressing
8-10 flour tortillas
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup tomatoes, chopped
2 cups shredded lettuce

Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat, add garlic and shallot and cook for 1-2 minutes, until softened. Add sirloin, stir to combine, and cook until browned. Add water, chili powder, cumin and 1/2 tablespoon Sriracha to sirloin mixture. Stir, reduce heat, and simmer for 5 minutes.

While taco mixture finishes cooking, combine blue cheese dressing and remaining 1/2 tablespoon Sriracha in a small bowl. Set aside.

Warm flour tortillas; Spoon taco mixture into tortillas and top with Sriracha sauce, cheese, lettuce and tomato.

*Sriracha is pretty spicy, so adjust the amount according to your tolerance level. If you don’t do well with spicy, you may want to test it 1 teaspoon at a time.

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Monday, March 26, 2012

Secret Recipe Club - Bacon, Egg and Asparagus Salad

It's Secret Recipe Club time again. Man, that month goes by fast!


As soon as I got my blog assignment (Kudos Kitchen by Renee) for March I started to look through all her recipes. Renee does crafts in addition to cooking and has some beautiful handmade items. After a quick spin through her blog I knew I wanted to make this Bacon, Egg and Asparagus Salad. Just the name made my mouth water. Unfortunately the post didn't include a recipe. One of my biggest pet peeves about the whole Dorie Greenspan blogging community is that those who participate aren't allowed to post the recipe on their blog. I love food porn (aka photos) as much as the next person but if a meal looks good I'd like to be able to make it at home, especially if the blogger made some changes to the original recipe. Thankfully Renee saw my comment on her post asking for the recipe and responded quickly so I was able to get this made before the SRC deadline. Renee, I'm sorry I wasn't able to explain why I was so anxious to get this recipe but now you know. :)


Like I said, I was in love with this salad just from Renee's photos. It combines some of my favorite things - asparagus, runny eggs, pine nuts and bacon - into a gorgeous salad with a tangy dressing. I ended up subbing white wine vinegar for the sherry vinegar because I already had some on hand. Besides the asparagus and mixed greens I didn't have to buy anything else - all the ingredients are things I keep on hand. A tip - if you belong to a wholesale club look for pine nuts in their baking aisle. They're so much cheaper than the grocery store and you can keep them in the freezer so they don't go rancid. This recipe used up the last of my pine nuts so it's a good thing we're headed to the wholesale club this weekend.


This would make a great first course at a dinner party because you can assemble the plates while the asparagus is roasting and then fry or poach some eggs and serve. I fried my eggs in bacon fat to stay true to the original recipe, but I don't think it added anything extra to the taste. Next time I'll poach the eggs to save some calories. Regardless of how you cook your eggs a runny yolk is key. It mixes with the dressing to create something luxurious. If you don't like runny eggs this isn't the salad for you.

The final bite:


I knew SP wouldn't be into this salad so I made it for lunch one day (one of the perks of working from home). I was very happy that it made enough for two salads so I could enjoy it again for lunch the next day.

I can't say enough good things about this salad. I may or may not have licked the plate clean to get up all that delicious dressing and egg yolk. What a winner. Thank you SO much, Renee. This was a great treat and surprisingly simple to make. It was the perfect light lunch and I can't wait to make it again soon.

Bacon and Eggs and Asparagus Salad
Slightly Modified from Kudos Kitchen by Renee
Makes 2 main course salads or 4 first course salads

1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons sherry or white wine vinegar
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and coarsely-ground black pepper
4 large eggs
1 bunch asparagus spears, preferably thick, trimmed
6 strips bacon
3 handfuls mesclun or other mixed salad greens, rinsed and dried
1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted

To make the vinaigrette: Put all the ingredients in a small jar, cover, and shake to blend; or use a small bowl and a whisk. Set aside, and shake (or whisk) again before using. (You can make the vinaigrette up to a week in advance and keep it in the fridge.)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and arrange the asparagus on a baking sheet. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast until just cooked through, about 5 mintues.

Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium-low heat, turning as needed, until the bacon is golden and crisp on both sides. Remove the strips and put them between a double thickness of paper towels; when the bacon is cool, cut it into narrow strips or chop it into bits. Leave 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat in the skillet. Rewarm the bacon fat over medium heat. Cook eggs over-easy, making sure the yolks are still runny.

Season the mesclun with salt and pepper, then toss it with about three quarters of the vinaigrette, and arrange in the center of the platter or your plates. Toss the asparagus with the remaining vinaigrette and lay the spears over the greens. Lift the eggs out of the skillet and place them on top of the asparagus. Scatter the bacon bits and toasted pine nuts over the salad and serve immediately.



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Sunday, March 25, 2012

Weekly Menu - Week of March 25, 2012


Where has March gone? I can't believe we've already changed the clocks and officially welcomed Spring. This has been a crazy busy month since I started my new job. I'm loving it but the days are flying by, which can be both good and bad. Unfortunately the warm weather we've been having has been replaced by cooler, more seasonable temps, so my idea of summer food will have to wait a few more weeks. In the meantime I'm taking this opportunity to enjoy some cold weather favorites before putting them back on the shelf for a few months.

Sunday - Steaks on the grill and Thai Pineapple Rice: I bought a big can of pineapple a few weeks ago and SP asked me to make this rice with it. I'm hoping the rain holds off long enough for us to grill the steaks.

Monday - Panera's Stove Top Mac and Cheese, ham steaks and Roasted Asparagus with Pecorino and Lemon: This looks like a quick and easy version of my favorite mac and cheese recipe. I'm going to pan-fry the ham steaks for added color and flavor and to make the mac and cheese more of a side dish. The asparagus SP bought at the store looks fantastic.

Tuesday - Hoagies after exercise

Wednesday - BBQ Chicken Ranch Salads: We have a late appointment so these salads will be easy to throw together before we have to head out the door.

Thursday - Chicken and Broccoli Stir-Fry over rice: I can't wait to make this meal again. This time I'm adding water chestnuts for that extra crunch.

Friday - Lemon-Garlic Spaghetti with Mascarpone and Shrimp: I've had my eye on this since Josie posted it. I can't wait to try it!
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Friday, March 23, 2012

Recipe Swap - Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies

Want to see what other Secret Recipe Club recipes were made during the swap? Here is the link to the Secret Recipe Club Recipe Swap Part 2 Roundup


The SRC-style Recipe Swap was so popular last time that I decided to make it a regular theme. This go-round I ended up with my good friend Jaida's blog, Sweet Beginnings. Jaida actually reached out to me because of the recipe swaps, which she had seen on my blog. She wanted to start a blog of her own and we found ourselves emailing and chatting on a regular basis. That's one of the things I love about the blogging community - I've met so many great people through my blog. One day I'll make it out to Texas or she'll make it out to PA and we'll actually get to meet in person.


As much as I love being able to choose whatever recipe I want for the SRC-style swap, sometimes having to make that decision can be difficult. Jaida's blog is full of delicious recipes I want to try and narrowing it down was hard. As you'll see in Tuesday's post, I couldn't pick just one thing so I opted to make one savory and one sweet recipe. I recently won a McCormick giveaway on Chocolate Moosey, so I decided to finally bake these Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies I've been drooling over for months. Like Jaida, mint chocolate chip is my favorite ice cream flavor. I've always loved it and 8 out of 10 times that's the flavor I'll pick if we're having ice cream. I couldn't wait to try it in cookie form.


Now we all know I don't bake, so this was a big deal for me. And I decided to bake these on a Wednesday night, which just goes to show how easy they are to make. I started at 7:50pm and had all the cookies baked and cooling by 8:35pm. That's impressive for me. I didn't even need to bust out the KitchenAid stand mixer; I just used my trusty hand mixer and it did a great job. What impressed me the most about this recipe was that the cookies didn't spread in the oven. That's always my biggest complaint when I make cookies. I like a moist, chewy, puffy cookie, not a crispy, thin cookie. These were perfect.

Since the recipe makes approximately 36 cookies I baked them in batches. And as you can see, my cookies aren't green. Sadly, I don't own food coloring (remember, I don't normally bake). I think the green color is fun and definitely alerts folks to the minty flavor, but it isn't necessary for a tasty cookie. I tried one after they'd been cooling for a few minutes and I had to physically restrain myself from eating another. This is why I don't bake, people. The results are just too tempting.

Thanks for a wonderful recipe, Jaida!

Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies
Sweet Beginnings

1 cup sugar
1 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon mint extract
8-10 drops green food coloring
1 egg
2 1/3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 bag (12 oz) semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Beat together butter and sugar on low speed (using a hand or stand mixer) until fluffy. Stir in vanilla, food coloring, and egg; mix well. Sift together flour and baking powder in a small bowl and slowly add to the sugar mixture, combining well after each addition. Once combined, stir in chocolate chips using a wooden spoon.

Drop heaping tablespoons onto a foil-lined baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake 7-9 minutes until just set. Remove to cooling rack.

Makes approximately 36 cookies
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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Ravioli with Bacon Mushroom Cream Sauce

Lately I've been trying to use up things I have in the freezer and pantry, modifying recipes to make them work with what I already have on hand instead of buying new ingredients. It's going to be a long project since we have a ton of things stored in not just the freezer but the pantry and garage.

This recipe started out as Tortellini & Pancetta in Mushroom Walnut Sauce on my friend Melissa's blog, was modified into Tortellini & Pancetta in a Mushroom Cream Sauce on my friend Carrie's blog and ended up as Ravioli with Bacon Pesto Mushroom Cream Sauce on my friend Cassie's blog. I modified it further by leaving out the pesto because I didn't have any in the freezer and didn't want to buy it.


This was surprisingly light for including heavy cream. I added some chicken stock to stretch the sauce and cut the calories. I will definitely try it with pesto over the summer when my basil plant gets out of control, but this was delicious without it. A simple, light, easy dinner.

Ravioli with Bacon Mushroom Cream Sauce
Modified from Cassie Craves

1 package frozen cheese ravioli
4 strips bacon, chopped
1 tablespoon butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
8 ounces sliced white mushrooms
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup chicken broth
Salt and pepper to taste
Parmesan or Romano cheese for serving

Cook the bacon in a large, high-sided skillet over medium-high heat until crisp. Remove to paper towels to drain. Drain all but one tablespoon of bacon grease from pan.

Add butter to reserved bacon grease. When melted, add onion and mushrooms and cook until onions are translucent and mushrooms are browned. Season with salt and pepper. Add garlic; cook and stir for 30 seconds. Reduce heat to medium and add heavy cream and chicken broth, stirring occasionally until sauce begins to thicken.

While sauce is thickening, cook ravioli according to package directions.

Add cooked bacon back to the pan. Taste sauce for seasoning and adjust as needed. Add sauce to cooked ravioli, stirring very gently to combine. Sprinkle each serving with shredded parmesan or Romano cheese.
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Monday, March 19, 2012

Buffalo Chicken Wraps

Oh buffalo chicken, how I love you. Let's see, I've made traditional wings, buffalo chicken chili, buffalo chicken tenders, buffalo chicken mac and cheese, buffalo chicken tacos, buffalo chicken quesadillas, buffalo chicken burgers, buffalo chicken sandwiches, and buffalo chicken pizza.

Wow, I've made a lot of variations on buffalo chicken, haven't I? Sheesh.

As much as I love buffalo chicken I'd never made it into a wrap before. Then a craving for buffalo chicken hit and since it was Friday we went out for dinner. I ordered a buffalo chicken wrap and it was a disgrace. The chicken was breaded, which meant it was mostly breading and very little chicken. It was also mostly filler. I vowed right then and there to find a great version to make at home. My friend Jaida recently turned me on to Bev Cooks and I remembered seeing her post a recipe for Buffalo Chicken Wraps.


I made a few modifications, mainly deleting the hardboiled eggs and bacon because I don't think they belong in a buffalo chicken wrap. Just a personal preference, so feel free to add them back in. I also left out the cayenne in the marinade because Frank's is spicy enough for me on its own and used blue cheese dressing in place of making my own with ranch and blue cheese crumbles. I watched a few YouTube videos about rolling wraps and finally perfected my technique. Go me!

These were absolutely delicious. I already knew we loved buffalo chicken but everything worked so well together. These wraps were simple to make, especially if you cook the chicken ahead of time and chop up all the other ingredients. I made another wrap for lunch the next day and it took all of 5 minutes to heat the tortilla and chicken and then wrap everything up.

If you love buffalo chicken you need to make these. Soon.


Buffalo Chicken Wraps
Modified from Bev Cooks

1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 pinch freshly ground pepper
1 pinch coarse salt
1/2 cup Frank’s hot sauce, divided
1 pound chicken tenders
2 cups shredded romaine lettuce
1 roma tomato, diced
1/4 cup blue cheese dressing
2-3 scallions, finely chopped
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
4 large flour tortillas

Combine the butter, black pepper, salt and 1/4 cup Frank’s in a bowl. Whisk to combine. Add the chicken and toss to coat. Cover and marinate for however long you want to. An hour or more.

Heat an indoor grill over medium-high and coat with cooking spray. Add the chicken tenders and grill until cooked through with nice grill marks on both sides, about 8 minutes total. Remove from grill and roughly chop.

Heat up the tortillas in the microwave. Layer some chicken in the center, followed by romaine, tomato, blue cheese dressing, scallions, cheddar, and a few more good glugs of Frank’s. Mix up the filling with a spoon or your fingers so the dressing evenly coats all of the ingredients. Roll up the wrap and tuck in the corners (I suggest searching YouTube for a video as seeing someone do it is the best way to learn).
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