Sunday, May 31, 2009

Chicken Enchilada Casserole

This is another fast and easy weeknight meal that uses leftovers and hardly any effort on the part of the cook. I adapted it from a recipe in Cooking Light, although I'm pretty sure it's not THAT light this way. But it's not too bad if you use the 2% cheese.

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 to 2 cups shredded cooked chicken (tonight I used leftover roasted chicken, which was good, but any leftover chicken will do)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1 28 oz jar of enchilada sauce (I like verde, but use whatever you have/like)
about 12 small corn tortillas
2 cups reduced-fat shredded mexican cheese blend, or sharp cheddar if that's what you can find.

Spray a 13 x 9 baking dish with cooking spray. Preheat over to 350.

In a skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and saute until tender (about 4 min), then add garlic and saute another minute. Add chicken, salt, pepper, chili powder, and cumin and heat through; remove from heat. Note: You can play with the spices you add, or leave them out altogether, especially if you have a flavorful enchilada sauce. This would also be a good place to toss some leftover veggies. If you chop them up, it's possible no one will notice them.

In baking dish, spread about 2/3 cup enchilada sauce on bottom of pan. Cover with tortillas (I use two whole, then two broken in half, and then I break one of the halves into "fourths" and cover the holes). Place about half the chicken mixture on top of the tortillas. Top with a layer of cheese (about 1/3 of it). Add another layer of enchilada sauce, then tortillas, then chicken mixture, then cheese, then enchilada sauce, then tortillas. Top with remaining enchilada sauce and cheese.

Bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Super easy, super good, and you can assemble it in advance if needed.

The Big Geek and I like this. Well, actually, I LOVE it. The little geek is not a huge fan. She had broccoli for dinner.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Roasted Broccoli

I've been roasting lots of veggies lately--mainly squash--but got this suggestion from my BFF. Let me just say that The Big Geek hates broccoli. He thinks it smells bad, and it's highly unlikely that he's going to eat any of this. However, I have sampled it and think it tastes awesome and will go wonderfully with the chicken that's finishing roasting right now.

Here's what you do:

preheat the oven to 500 with a baking sheet inside

chop two heads of broccoli and place in bowl

drizzle with Extra-virgin Olive Oil

Sprinkle with salt (kosher or sea salt is good) and pepper

Sprinkle with 1/4 tsp sugar (I know, I know, but trust me)

Toss to coat.

When the oven heats up, take out the cookie sheet, spread the broccoli on it, and roast for 9-11 minutes.


Edit: The Big Geek at exactly one (very small) floret, at my prodding. He said it was less bad than broccoli usually tastes. I'm going to keep making it, and he can eat one floret while the little geek and I gobble it up.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Brandied Peach Sauce and Peach Cobbler

This recipe orignated as a Peach Cobbler recipe (I'll share that version as well). But I love the filling part so much that I decided I should make some just to have. Because peaches are good, and now they're in season and tempting me at the farmer's market, and I thought it would be YUMMY on top of some vanilla ice cream. Who needs the cobbler part? (Well, it is good, too, but I mainly love the peaches).

1 3/4 lbs (3-4) peaches, pitted, peeled, and sliced
1/4 cup sugar (up to 1/2 cup if they are tart)
1 Tbsp of brandy (I sometimes add more, because liquor in food is good)
1 Tbsp vanilla
2 Tsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp ground cloves

For the sauce: mix all ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and simmer 35-40 minutes until fruit softens and liquid begins to thicken. Pour over ice cream, or cool and reheat for later use, or just eat it out of the pan and then act like you don't know what people are talking about when they ask why the kitchen smells so good.

For the cobbler: Mix all ingredients in a greased pie plate. Or, if you're like me, mix them in a greased square baking dish, but double the fruit part so you have a higher fruit to biscuit ratio. Place dish on a rimmed baking sheet (to catch spills) and bake until the fruit releases its liuid and is hot and bubbling around the edges, 20-30 minutes.

For the biscuit topping:

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
3 Tbsp yellow cornmeal
1/4 plus 2 tsp sugar
1 tsp bakign powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup buttermilk
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon

Whisk flour, cornmeal, 1/4 cup sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl; set aside.

In a separate bowl, whisk the buttermilk, butter, and vanilla together; set aside.

In a small bowl, mix the remaining 2 tsp sugar with the cinnamon; set aside.

When the filling is ready, stir the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture with a rubber spatula until just combined and no pockets of flour remain. Remove the cobbler filling from the over and stir. Pinch off 8 equal pieces of the biscuit dough and arrange them on top of the hot filling, spaced 1/2 inch apart. Sprinkle the tops with cinnamon sugar.

Continue to bake the cobbler until the biscuits are golden brown on top and cooked through and the filling is again hot and bubbling, 15-20 minutes. Cool the cobbler on a wire rack 15 minutes before serving.

Trust me, this is good, and better for you than a pie.

This recipe comes from The Best Light Recipe cookbook, which contains variations for blueberry, sour cherry, strawberry, strawberry-rhubarb, plum, raspberry, blackberry, and apricot cobblers. So far, I've only done peach, but the sour cherry is on my list to try.

Did I mention that you should buy that cookbook? Because you SHOULD.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Dark Chocolate Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting

I used this recently to frost some cupcakes I took to a barbecue (well, technically a cook out) at a friend's house. It was a nice change from the usual chocolate buttercream I make. I found the recipe on Bakerella's blog.

1/2 cup butter, softened to room temp.
8 oz. cream cheese, softened to room temp (I used 1/3 less fat, and it worked fine)
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 lb confectioners sugar (I just add it until it tastes right)
1 tsp vanilla
1-3 Tbsp milk

Cream butter and cream cheese iwth a mixer.
Add cocoa and vanilla and mix.
Add confectioner's sugar in small batches and blend on low until combined. Scrape down sides with each addition.
Add 1 Tbsp of milk at a time until you get the consistency you desire.

(I generally put in some sugar, mix, put in some milk, mix, and repeat until it tastes the way I want and is the consistency I want.)

This was GOOOOOD. I put it on top of Devil's Food cupcakes (from a box).

Other than these 4 recipes, I have no clue what we've eaten recently. Lots of hot dogs, it feels like. The Big Geek went out of town for a time, so the little geek and I probably just ate sandwiches or pasta or something. Oh, and we ordered a pizza one night.

Turkey Burgers

I realize that you all know how to make Turkey Burgers. But these are the moistest Turkey Burgers I've ever made, so I thought I'd share. The recipe comes from The Best Light Recipe cookbook from the editors of Cook's Illustrated, which I reviewed at some point in the recent past. You should buy this cookbook, really.

This recipe makes 4 burgers.

1 1/4 lb 93% lean ground turkey
1/2 cup fat-free ricotta cheese
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper

1 Tbsp vegetable oil (if preparing in a skillet)

Combine all ingredients (except oil) in a large bowl until uniformly combined. Divide the mixture into 4 portions. Lightly toss one portion from hand to hand to form a ball, then lightly flatten the ball with your fingertips into a 1-inch-thick patty. Repeat the process with the remaining portions.

They suggest you cook the patties in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Heat the oil until smoking, then lay burgers in the skillet and cook until light brown and crusted, about 3-4 minutes. Flip and cook until the second side is light brown, 3-4 minutes. The reduce the heat to low, partially cover, and cook until burgers are 160 degrees (about 8-10 more minutes).

In reality, I gave them to The Big Geek and he cooked them. He managed to keep them from falling apart (which was my fear), but I think he had to be a bit more careful with them than with other burgers I've made.

These burgers had a good flavor, but weren't full of flavor if you're used to adding other things (like soup mix) to your burgers. Next time I'll probably dice some shallots to throw in, and double the Worcestershire sauce and Dijon mustard.

What I will say is they were hands down the moistest Turkey Burgers I have EVER had, and I thoroughly enjoyed mine. You don't taste the ricotta at all.

Cooked as directed these have 250 calories and 12 g. of fat (compared to about 34 grams in a regular burger).

Chicken Sausage with Quick Sauerkraut

1 12 oz package chicken sausage (chicken apple is a good choice)
1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil (I probably use more than that)
1 small onion, sliced
1 Granny Smith apple, thinly sliced
1 10-oz package shredded cabbage, preferably finely shredded
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup apple cider
1 tsp caraway seeds.

Cook sausages in large skillet over medium-high heat until brown on all sides, 2-3 minutes. Transfer to a plate (I cut mine in half, but you could leave them whole or slice them however you like).

Heat oil in the pan over med-high heat. Add onion and apple and cook, stirring constantly, until beginning to brown (1-2 min). Add cabbage, vinegar, and salt and cook, stirring often, until just wilted (about 2 min.). Add cider and caraway seeds. Bring to a boil.

Return sausages to a pan, cover, reduce heat to a simmer and cook until the sausages are heated through and cabbage is tender, about 10 min.

I was halfway through making this when I realized that I did not own any apple cider. So instead, I put in 1 cup water and a generous sprinkle of white sugar. Then, when there was about 4 min. to go, I realized I had some hard cider in the fridge. So I opened one of those and poured about half of it in the skillet (leaving the cover off so the extra moisture could escape) and about half down my throat. It actually turned out ok, although I think if I'd had the cider and not the water it would have been better.

To my amazement, even the little geek ate this. I wasn't surprised she ate the sausages, but I was surprised I got her to eat the cabbage by telling her it was "cabbage pasta." I will make this again, but probably not until this fall when it's not so hot out. The Big Geek seemed to be a fan, but did say it needed more sausage and less cabbage.

I got this recipe from, so it really is pretty good for you--it has about 45 % of your daily vitamin C and only 194 calories per serving. Of course, that assumes you eat the equivalent of one sausage.

Island Chicken with Grilled Pineapple

I've been busy. I could not tell you what I've been busy doing, but it hasn't involved updating this blog. The way this usually works is that I post nothing for a while, and then I come and post a bunch of stuff. This is going to be one of those days.

1/4 cup dark rum
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1 Tbsp packed brown sugar
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp red pepper sauce
8 chicken drumsticks (or whatever you have)
Fresh pineapple (optional, but I suggest you opt for it)

Mix rum, chili powder, lime juice, brown sugar, garlic, and pepper sauce. Pour over chicken (or put all of it in a ziplock, add your chicken, seal, and shake/massage the bag to coat). Cover and refrigerate at least one hour (the longer the better). Remove chicken. Grill chicken 5-6 inches from heat 15-20 minutes. Turn chicken. This is when you could turn/brush on the extra marinade that I suggest you make as often as you like. Keep cooking until chicken is done (about 30 min).

Grilled Pineapple: Cut top off pineapple. Core and cut in 1/2 inch slices (leave the rind on). Cut slices in half (so you kind of make little "watermelon" pieces). Grill pineapple 5-6 inches from heat for 15-20 minute. Make sure you have lots of napkins when you eat this.

I tried this after the bourbon chicken, once I'd gotten the Big Geek to bring home some rum. I thought it was tasty, but there wasn't enough flavor. Next time, I will double the marinade, reserve half, and use it to baste the chicken while it's cooking.

The little geek ate 3 pieces of chicken (!!!) and at least 3 pieces of grilled pineapple.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Cajun Bourbon Chicken


1 cup bourbon
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp paprika
pinch red hot pepper flakes
1 Tbsp molasses
3 cloves garlic smashed (or minced)
2 tbsp freshly grated ginger (or the jarred/tube kind)
1 1/2 tsp onion powder
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
12 pcs bone-in chicken (skin optional)

Combine all ingredients except chicken for marinade in ziplock bag. Pour out and set aside 1/2 cup of marinade to use later for basting. Add chicken to ziplock and marinate for 6-12 hours in refrigerator, turning occasionally.

Remove chicken from marinade, discard marinade. Grill over medium high heat with the grill open for 5 min., then close grill and reduce heat. Continue cooking over low heat for 15-20 min. or until chicken is done. Baste with reserved marinade every few minutes, turning chicken to cook both sides evenly.

We had this tonight, and it was good. The original recipe had 1 cup of soy sauce, but The Big Geek and I felt that the soy sauce over powered the other flavors, so I've reduced it to 1/2 cup. I don't think you'd need to make up for that 1/2 cup liquid, but if so, you could add 1/2 cup water, chicken broth, or vegetable oil.

Asian Pork Tenderloin

This is another easy way to get dinner on the table. If you prepare the marinade after your little geeks are in bed the night before, then all you have to do is remember to put it in the oven about 30 minutes before dinner.

1/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup sesame oil
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp lemon juice
4 garlic cloves, crushed (or minced)
1 Tbsp dry mustard
1 1/2 tsp pepper
1 1/2 to 2 lb pork tenderloin.

Mix together first 8 ingredients in a ziplock bag. Add pork, seal, and let marinate 8 hours or overnight.

Remove pork from marinade, discarding marinade. Place in a foil-lined roasting pan.

Bake at 450 for 25 min. or until a meat thermometer registers 160. Let pork stand 5 min. before serving.

A meat thermometer you can put in the oven, that beeps at the appropriate temperature, is a wonderful thing.

Slice and serve!

Buttermilk Chicken

It's been a while. My semester was ending, and I had assignments to complete, and somehow, posting recipes here didn't seem like a good use of my limited time.

However, we have been eating. My sister came to visit, and I managed to pull off some pretty tasty meals in between the pasta and tacos The Big Geek prepared while I was busy studying. This chicken recipe, for example.

I don't make it that often, because it requires such advanced planning and the purchase of buttermilk (you really do need actual buttermilk), which I don't usually keep on hand. However, every time I make it I wonder why we don't have it more often. Seriously, it is the best chicken EVER. You should make it tonight. Or tomorrow. Or even better, in two days, so it has a good long time to sit in the brine.

Grilled Buttermilk Chicken
from Sunset

1 quart Buttermilk
1/2 cup chopped shallots
2 Tbsp chopped garlic (or minced, whatever)
2 Tbsp kosher salt
2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp pepper
6 chicken thighs
6 chicken drumsticks
(or whatever bone-in chicken you like. You can leave the skin on or take it off--it's good either way.)

1. In a large bowl, mix buttermilk, shallots, garlic, salt, sugar, cumin, and pepper.

2. Rinse chicken and pat dry. Submerge chicken pieces in buttermilk brine. Cover and chill for at least 4 hours, up to 1 day (I did 2 days because things changed, and it was REALLY good).

3. Lift chicken from brine, discard brine.

4. Lay chicken pieces on a barbecue grill over medium coals or medium heat on a gass grill (you can hold you rhand at grill level only 4-5 seconds); Close lid on gas grill. Cook, turnin frequently, until browned on both sides and no longer pink at the bone (cut to test, 20-30 minutes).

Serve hot or cold.

This is probably my favorite grilled chicken recipe. Make it!

I served it with salad and grilled veggies (cut up some squash, red bell pepper, onion, whatever you have, place it on a metal baking pan sprayed with cooking spray, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and whatever spices you want, cook at 400 for about 15 minutes). YUM!