Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Spicy Orange Chicken

I've been having to make dinners quickly before I work at 5 every day.  I found this the other day on a blog that I follow and it sounded quick, easy, and I had most of the ingredients.  This Spicy Orange Chicken is like takeout, without the high cost and it takes about as long as you would have to wait for them to deliver anyways!

Spicy Orange Chicken
adapted from: This Week for Dinner

  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1/2 C flour
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1/2 t. pepper
  • 3 T butter 
  • broccoli (optional, or any other veggies that you like)
  • 3T brown sugar
  • 3T vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar)
  • 1.5 C orange juice
  • 1.5 t. nutmeg
  • 1.5 t. dried basil
  • 1 t ground ginger
  • 1-2 t red pepper flakes
  • 1 small can mandarin oranges (optional)
  1. Combine flour, salt and pepper in bag. Shake chicken pieces until coated. Brown on both sides in butter in skillet over medium heat. Drain off fat. The chicken probably won't be cooked all the way through, but that is okay!
  2. Combine sauce ingredients and add to skillet. Cover, turn the heat down to low, and simmer ~30 minutes or until tender.  Make sure it is not simmering too violently, or you will end up with tough chicken.  For a “sophisticated touch” add drained mandarin oranges and heat about 5 mins.  
  3. If using (frozen) veggies, add about 5 minutes before finished cooking. (I added mine too soon and ended up with tough, brown broccoli, oops!)  You may need to turn the heat up a bit to bring the sauce back to a simmer.
  4. Note: cook chicken and sauce in covered skillet, but tip the cover a little to thicken sauce towards the end of cooking time.  Sauce will also thicken if you let it stand about 5 minutes before serving.
  5. Serve over rice, or grain of your choice. Enjoy!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Strawberry Lemonade Bars

Me and Brittani have been baking a lot together and I don't mind because her kitchen is much bigger than mine :)
We made these on Saturday to go along with the alligator burgers and butternut squash fries that she and her husband made, yum.  I had never had alligator before and I was quite surprised!  It was very tasty, especially with the barbecue sauce and bacon from the butcher we put on them!

On to the recipe: these Strawberry Lemonade bars were really tasty and a nice, light dessert for a hot summer night.  These were a bit tart, so if you want a sweeter bar, I would recommend using 1 1/2 cups of sugar instead of the called for 1 1/4.  Also, the crust is a little thin on these, so if you like a nice, thick shortbread crust you may want to consider multiplying the crust ingredients by 1.5.

Strawberry Lemonade Bars
from: Playing House
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup fresh lemon juice (Amy's note: I used an entire 3 lb. bag of small lemons to get a cup of juice)
  • 2-3 tsp lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup pureed strawberries (about 3/4 cup berries)
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • Powdered sugar (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking pan.

2. Begin by making the crust. In a large bowl, cream together sugar and butter, until smooth and fluffy. Working at a low speed, gradually beat in flour and salt until mixture is crumbly. Pour into prepared pan and press into an even layer. Bake for about 17 minutes, until set at the edges.

3. While the crust bakes, prepare the filling. In the bowl of a food processor (or blender!!), combine lemon juice, lemon zest, strawberry puree, sugar and eggs and process until smooth. Add in flour, baking powder and salt, then pulse until smooth. Gently pour the filling over the hot crust when it has finished baking. Return pan to oven and bake for 23-26 minutes, until the filling is set (There will be a light colored “crust” on top from the sugar in the custard - nothing to worry about).

4. Dust with powdered sugar if desired. Cool completely before slicing and use a damp knife to ensure clean slices. Store bars in the refrigerator, especially on a hot day.

Makes 24 bars.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

June Garden

I posted some pictures of my garden about a month ago.  Its amazing how quickly these plants grow.  I have tomatoes that are still green, but they are there!  The squash are getting out of control and the pepper plants have little baby peppers on them!  I also finally uploaded the picture of the Oreo Cheesecake Bars I posted a while back.  Those disappeared really quickly...

Spaghetti squash on the left and sugar pumpkins on the right.  The are getting out of control!
Tomatoes, jalapenos, and basil which have gotten so big!
See what they used to look like?

Acorn squash and popcorn in the left corner.  Luckily, squash and corn get along because the squash is heading straight for them!

Finally, the tiny little tomatoes! I'm not sure if these are the cherry tomatoes or the big ones, but I'll find out soon, I guess.

I'll keep you updated as things get bigger.  I forgot to take a picture of the cucumbers, they aren't much to look at right now anyways.  I'll be excited to finally start eating things I have grown.  I've eat things that Janine has grown (she's my friend I'm gardening with) which is exciting and everything is so yummy!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Tortilla Pizzas

Since I've started my new job at night, I've had to make dinner for me and Max before I leave or I would be very hungry when I got back at 8.  I was browsing some of the food blogs that I frequently follow and I came across this recipe.  I went to the store after class and intended to buy some pitas, but the store didn't have any!!  They did have some big, wrap-sized tortillas that I thought would work really well.  I was right and now I am sharing this yummy recipe with you :)

Tortilla Pizza
adapted from: gimmesomeoven 
  • wrap-sized tortillas (any flavor, I used spinach-herb)
  • mozzarella cheese
  • pizza sauce 
  • Parmesan cheese (if you like a little extra cheese)
  • any toppings you like!
    • I used Canadian bacon and pineapple
  1. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees with your pizza stone in it. 
  2. Put on the sauce, cheese, then toppings.
  3. Put in oven and bake for about 10 minutes, but check on it because the crust is so thin.
  4. Pull out of the oven and enjoy!
I made one of these for each of us.  Because the crust is so thin, they may not be as filling as normal pizza, but are super-duper yummy!!!  This is a quick dinner that I think most people will enjoy!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Quinoa Salad

I start my new job next week as night time coordinator at the Writing Center and I am very excited.  That doesn't really have anything to do with the recipe for today, but I thought I'd share :)

Today's recipe, quinoa salad, is something I kind of made up.  I was inspired by a recipe for quinoa stuffed peppers.  I made this to bring to a friend's house the other day and she asked for the recipe, so I thought I would share it with everyone here too!  Max loves this, so its not a girly meal; he finished everything that was left over from Brittani and Chris's house, I didn't get to have any!

Quinoa Salad
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups water (or chicken broth)
  • 1-2 avocados, diced into cubes (depending on taste or availability) 
  • 6-10 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 can corn
  • 1 can Rotel (I used the kind with cilantro and lime juice)
  • lime juice (however much tastes good to you, it also helps stop the avocado from browning)
  • cilantro (optional)
  • salt and pepper
  1. To cook the quinoa: bring 2 cups of water (or broth) to a boil.  Add the quinoa.  Turn heat to medium and simmer for 12-15 minutes, or until all the water is absorbed.  Fluff with a fork.  Let it cool for a while before you add all of the other ingredients.
  2. Add all of the ingredients to the quinoa.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Chill and enjoy!  
I usually eat this for lunch.  Quinoa is very filling and is considered a complete protein.  If you haven't had it before, you really should try it.  It looks a little like couscous, except bigger.  It has more flavor than couscous or rice.  I usually make it with Better than Bouillon because it adds a bit more flavor.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Oreo Cheesecake Bars

I've kind of been on an Oreo kick lately.  Lemon was the theme a few months ago, now I've moved on.  Oreos are delicious on their own, but adding them to other things multiplies their deliciousness in my opinion.

Max and I went to our friends' house yesterday for Memorial Day.  Brittani and Chris just moved into a new house and it has an amazing backyard, which we enjoyed a great dinner in.  We had buffalo chicken legs, salad, and quinoa salad (which I will post the recipe for soon).  We also had Oreo Cheesecake Bars.  These are really easy because you can do the whole thing in a food processor and you don't need a springform pan (although I really want an excuse to use mine!).

I took a picture, but I forgot to put in on my computer, so I will add it later.

Oreo Cheesecake Bars
adapted from: Annie's Eats
For the crust:
  • 23 Oreo cookies
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
For the cheesecake:
  • 12 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 6 tbsp. sugar
  • 6 tbsp. sour cream, at room temperature
  • ½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
  • 12 Oreo cookies, roughly chopped
  1. Preheat the oven to 325˚ F.  Line an 8 x 8-inch baking dish with foil.  
  2. To make the crust, place the Oreos in the bowl of a food processor.  Process, pulsing, until the cookies are finely ground.  Add in the melted butter and pulse until the cookie crumbs are moistened.  Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking pan.  Press the crumbs into an even layer over the bottom of the pan.  Bake the crust for 10 minutes, then set aside and prepare the filling while maintaining the oven temperature. 
  3. To make the filling, add the cream cheese to the bowl of the food processor and process until light and smooth, about 2 minutes (you don't need to clean out your processor bowl since you'll be adding more Oreos soon).  Mix in the sugar until well combined.  Blend in the sour cream, vanilla and salt.  Beat in the egg and egg yolk until incorporated and very smooth looking, scraping down the bowl as needed. Stir in the chopped Oreos with a rubber spatula (or if you want smaller pieces, you can add them in the food processor).  
  4. Pour the cheesecake batter over the prepared crust, smoothing the top with a spatula.  Bake for about 40 minutes, until the cheesecake is set around the edges but slightly wobbly in the center.  Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool about 1 hour to room temperature.  Cover the pan and refrigerate until well chilled, about 3 hours.  
  5. To cut the bars, pull the cake from the pan by lifting the foil up out of the pan.  Place on a cutting board, peel away the foil, and slice into bars.  Clean the knife blade between each slice to keep the edges neat.  Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.