Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Here's a quick way to serve sweet potatoes as a side.

Preheat the oven to 450

Peel and slice the potatoes, making sure they are equal in thickness for even cooking.  Toss them in Olive Oil and spread them out evenly on a baking sheet.  Season with Chili pepper and salt.  These are not spicy at all, if you like more of a kick add a little cayenne.

Bake for 15 minutes, then toss the potatoes and bake for about 10 more. 

Baby Back Ribs

I have never made baby back ribs before, but today I did!  Thanks to my neighbor and friend Joy for passing along her tips, since she's done it a million times and is a fabulous cook!!

Season all Salt (or lawry's or something like it)
BBQ sauce  (use your favorite whether home made or store bought)

Generously season both sides of the ribs with the season all salt and rub it in well.  Then add a squirt or 2 of mustard the same way and rub it in.  Mustard will help to tenderize the meat plus add some tang to it.

Place on a jelly roll pan, or 9x13.  There will be liquid, so make sure your pan has a good lip on it.  Cover it well with foil and place in the oven until it is tender, at least a few hours. 

When the ribs are done, remove them from the oven, and remove the foil.  Get rid of the excess liquid, and place them back on the pan.  Turn on your broiler.  Spread the bbq sauce over the ribs and place under the broiler to carmelize it.  It will get nice and gooey and stick to your meat better.

Enjoy!  I like serving mine with rice and sweet potatoes.

Chocolate cupcakes with bittersweet glaze

These are not for the faint at heart!  Rich chocolatey yummy good deliciousness!  There just aren't words to describe.  I got this recipe from a book I read, and for the life of me I cannot remember the name of the book or the author!  I can picture the cover, but I just can't see the title!  I like to give credit where credit is due, and I'm so sorry I am not holding up to that.  But I promise that when it comes to me I will edit the post and add her name.

1 oz semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 cup hot brewed coffee
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup plus 1 tbs unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 large egg
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup well stirred plain whole-milk yogurt (not lowfat or nonfat)
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

For the glaze
8 oz bittersweetchocolate, finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 300.  Line the wells of a standard-sized muffin tin with paper liners.

Put the semisweet chocolate in a medium bowl with the hot coffee.  Let stand, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth and opaque.

Meanwhile, in anothermedium bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

In the bowl of a stand mixer beat the egg on medium speed until it is pale yellow, aobut 1 minute.  Add the oil, yogurt, and vanilla, beating well.  Gradually pour in the melted chocolate mixture, and beat to thoroughly combine.  Add the dry ingredients all at once, and beat on low speed until the batter is just combined.  Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the sides of the bowl and briefly stir to make sure that all thedry ingredients are absorbed. 

Spoon the batter into the wells of the muffin tin, making sure that it is evenly distributed.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of one  comes out clean.  Transfer the pan to a wire rack and cool for 20 minutes before---carefully, they're tender!--removing the cupcakes.  Allow them to cool comletely before glazing.

To make the glaze, melt the bittersweet chocolate in a metal or glass bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water.  Stir frequently to preven scorching.  When the chocolate is comletely smooth, it's ready.  Working with one cupcake at a time, spoon a heaping teaspoonful of melted chocolate on top.  Tilt and rotate the cupcake to coax the chocolate out to the edge.  Alternatively, use a knife or icing spatula to spread the chocolate.  The top of the cupcake should be entirely covered with a thin layer ofchocolate.  Spoon on more chocolate as needed.

Set the cupcakes aside at room temperature until ready to serve, at least an hour.  The chocolateglaze will firm up a bit and become matte.   You can, of course serve them with the chocolate still warm and soft if you just can't possibly wait any longer!

store in anairtight container at room temperature, these cupcakes are even better thesecond day.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Becker's Pasta

I'm doing a bible study with a couple friends this summer.  It's called "No Other Gods" by Kelly Minter.  It is really good!  I'm only 2 weeks in and loving it.  My good friend Cindy over at She Sparkles recommended it a long time ago, and I'm finally doing it.  Upon receiving her book, my friend Kelli said to me "Now I know why you picked this study... because of the recipes".  To which I replied,"there's recipes??"  Of course I was pleasantly surprised because I love new recipes and it gives me inspiration.  So, that is not why I chose the book, but it was pure bonus.  The next couple posts were adapted by my bible study book.  I don't know why this is called Beckers Pasta, but I didn't feel like re-naming it.  Of course I don't want to take credit for something I didn't create, and I did change things up a bit. 

1/2 of rotissere chicken (breast, leg and thigh)
1 box of bowtie pasta (for color you can go for the tri-color pasta)
10-15 chopped sundried tomatoes.  I prefer the ones packed in oil.  They'll come whole
3 garlic cloves, crushed or minced finely
1 package of feta cheese (6 oz)
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
1 can pitted black olives (optional)

Preheat oven to 350.  Spread pine nuts on a baking sheet and toast 3-4 minutes.  They will continue to brown after being out of the oven.  Set aside to cool.

Boil water and add Pasta, cook according to instructions.

Meanwhile, slice chicken into bite size pieces.  Saute' the chicken with the sundried tomatoes and garlic until warmed through.

In a seperate bowl combine feta cheese, pine nuts and olives if using.  Add chicken mixture.  Drain pasta and add to the bowl. Toss to mix well. 

This dish goes FABULOUSwith Caprese Salad and Bread and dipping oil

This was a phenominal dish!  If you want to impress someone, serve this!  So many flavors.  It is meant to feed 4, but we could have easily fed 6.  It makes alot. You can use all chicken breasts that you cook yourself if you want to make it a bit more healthy.  If so, just saute' the chicken to cook it, then add your tomatoes and garlic.  I really like both dark and light meat in a dish like this, it just adds more flavor and the meat is very tender. 

Caprese Salad

4 vine-ripened tomatoes
8 oz fresh mozzarella cheese (preferably the kind packagedin water)
basil leaves (definitely fresh!)
fresh cracked pepper
olive oil
balsamic vinegar

Slice tomatoes, you should get about 4 slices per tomato. I chose to slice mine in half again, but be creative in how you want to arrange them.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Then add your mozzarella cheese and basil leaves. Drizzle olive oil and balsamic vinegar over the top.  Great summer salad!

If you want to, you can mix your olive oil and vinegar prior to drizzling.  You want about 3-4 parts oil to 1 part vinegar

Another tip if you like your basil leaves chopped smaller:  Stack the basil leaves all going in the same direction, gently roll them, then gently slice them crosswise.  You'll end up with little shreds of basil.  Just be careful because it bruises really easily, then it turns black and doesn't look quite as appetizing. 

Bread and Dipping Oil

Some time I'll put my favorite bread recipe up.  This was just an all natural, no preservative multi-grain loaf from the local store.  This post is more about the dipping oil.  This is a great, simple appetizer or side with dinner.  It's a little more exciting than just plain bread.

Garlic (often I use Tastefully Simple's Garlic Garlic for super quick and easy)
parmesean cheese
fresh cracked pepper
Olive oil

If you're using fresh garlic, put it through a garlic press or finely mince.  Warm Olive oil in a small pan and saute' garlic just until lightly browned and fragrant.  About 1 minute.  You don't want it too dark, but definitely want it golden.  Remove garlic to a plate lined with paper towel to drain.

Once garlic is cooled, put some on each dipping plate.  Add a tbs or 2 of parm. cheese, sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Drizzle Olive Oil on top until covered.  Wah-lah... dipping oil!  This is great with some additional fresh herbs as well, rosemary, thyme, or whatever you are in the mood for.  Be creative.  You could also add a splash of balsamic vinegar.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Cooking for friends

There's a chef in my kitchen!

Actually, that's not true, and it's not my kitchen.  It all started one day when I posted black bean and corn salad.  My friend Cindy over at She Sparkles, saw it and commented on my fb page that it looked delicious but she would rather have me come and make it for her.  So, ask and receive!  I told Cindy I would love to come and make dinner for her!  Cindy is such an amazing person, and has been such a gift in my life, it was the least I could do to let her know how much I appreciate her.  Be sure to check out her blog, you will be blessed!  She thought the enchiladas verde sounded good, so we made that, the salad and blueberry crumble for dessert.  I know, the dessert was not so mexican, but hey, it's good sweet deliciousness, so who cares?

Here I am whippin' up some black beans

One of the things Cindy told me was she wanted to learn how to cut an Avacado, so this was the "instructional" part of our time together.  :-)  After showing her how to slice it...

And scoop it out...

I told her you can actually go to Bed Bath and Beyond an buy a nice kitchen gadget, called an Avacado slicer!  Yes, they actually make those.  I've never used one, but I'm sure their fabulous.  Speaking of kitchen gadgets, Cindy has some pretty nice stuff!  I think she may have been a pampered chef fan along the way.  Sometimes its not so easy or comfortable to cook in someone else's kitchen because your just not used to the same tools.  But it was actually very easy, and Cindy just has a way of making you feel right at home.

Here's the taste test on the salad.

Notice how Cindy really enjoys the moment while my fork is immediately back for more! 
Yep, I'm a pig!

What a great Day!  Thanks Cindy for making me feel so welcome, I hope you enjoyed the finished product!

Blueberry Crumble

This is great with any fresh or frozen fruit. 

3 cups fresh blueberries
1/2 c sugar
3 tbs flour + 3/4 cups for topping
1/2 c brown sugar
1/2 c rolled oats
1 stick butter

Preheat oven to 350.  Rinse and drain berries.  Put into and 8x8 baking dish.  Sprinkle wiht the white sugar and 3 tbs flour.  Mix and spread evenly.  

In a seperate bowl, combine 3/4 cup flour, brown sugar, oats and butter.  Mix with hands until crumbly.  Sprinkle evenly over berries.  Bake 30-35 minutes until fruit bubbles through topping.  Serve warm.  It's especially good with a dab of vanilla ice cream on top... yum!