Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Table Talk: Buffalo Chicken Salad

This week is my turn to host.This was an easy pick for me - I love entree salads.  And our family loves Wings + Blue Cheese Dressing, so I figured this would be a hit!
 I loved this salad.
I loved the flavor of the chicken - definitely "buffalo" but not too spicy.  I didn't think the dressing was flavorful enough, but I added some blue cheese chunks to the salad and it was perfect!  I am curious to see how the chicken turned out for the other members of the group because all of my breading pretty much fell off when I cut the chicken, but that was not too big of an issue.  We will definitely have this again.  However, I don't know that I will stick to the carrots and celery only - I love to put as many veggies (and even fruits) as I can on my salads! 

Serves: 4
The brand of hot sauce you use can have a dramatic effect on the flavor and spice level of the Buffalo sauce; our favorite brand of hot sauce is Frank's RedHot Original Sauce.  Since Frank's is a very mild sauce, if you use a hotter sauce such as Tabasco, you will want to use about half as much.

1/2 cup hot sauce
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
1 Tbsp. light molasses
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
4 (6 oz.) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed
1/8 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1 Tbsp. canola oil

3 romaine lettuce hearts (about 1 pound), torn into bite-sized pieces
3 celery ribs, sliced thin
2 carrots, peeled and shredded
3/4 cup Blue Cheese Dressing (recipe to follow)

1. For the Chicken:  Whisk the hot sauce, butter, and molasses together in a bowl; set aside.  Whisk the cornmeal and cornstarch together in a shallow dish.  Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and season with the salt and pepper.  Thoroughly coat the chicken with the cornmeal mixture, pressing on the coating to help it adhere.

2. Heat the oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until just smoking.  Carefully lay the chicken breasts in the skillet and cook until well browned on the first side, 6-8 minutes.  Flip the chicken, reduce the heat to medium, and continue to cook until the chicken registers 160 to 165 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, 6-8 minutes longer.
3. Transfer the chicken breasts to a carving board and let rest for 5 minutes.  Slice the chicken cross-wise into 1/2-inch -thick pieces.
4. For the Salad:  Toss the lettuce, celery, and carrots with the dressing, then divide it among four plates.  Toss the chicken with the hot sauce mixture, arrange on top of the salads, and serve.

Blue Cheese  Dressing:
Makes about 1 cup
If you prefer a mild blue cheese flavor, use a less pungent blue cheese, such as Stella.

1/4 cup crumbled strongly flavored blue cheese, such as Roquefort or Stilton (about 1 oz)
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup light mayonaise
1/4 cup sour cream
2 Tbsp. water
2 tsp. white wine vinegar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
1/8 tsp. pepper

Mash the blue cheese and buttermilk together with a fork in a bowl until the mixture resembles cottage cheese with small curds.  Stir in the remaining ingredients until well combined.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Chocolate Chip Cookies

This week for Table Talk we baked healthy(er) chocolate chip cookies. 

This recipe had you brown a portion of the butter before mixing it in.  The purpose was to give it a "toffee" taste. I loved it!  I especially loved the way it tasted in the dough!  Also after making the dough ball, you pushed 3 chocolate chips into the top of each cookie. I really like the way that made them looked baked. I used a gluten-free flour so my cookies were a bit more flat, but they were delicious! I loved this recipe and will definitely try it again!  Check out Valerie's blog and you can try it too!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Vegetable Lo Mein

This was a great pick by Talesha this week!  My kids even compared it to Panda Express - which is awesome!  I was able to use gluten-free spaghetti, my hubby hasn't had anything like this in about 15 years and he loved it.  I served it with Sesame Chicken, I ended up mixing mine together and really liked the combo - I think next time I make it I will just add some chicken or beef to it.  Flavor was great - not too strong.  Definitely check out this recipe on Talesha's Blog!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Chickpea Cakes with Cucumber-Yogurt Sauce

I have to say I really wasn't sure about this week's recipe.  But I made these today for lunch so I had the advantage of checking out  Amanda's post before I made them.  I loved her idea of serving it sandwich-style.  And wow, her rolls look uh-mazing! Her photos seriously made me want to go eat at her house!
So I went to work.  And the results?  They were OK. Definitely better than I expected, but no wow factor for me.
   I did follow suit and make a healthier "sandwich", lettuce-wrap style.  I added avacado and purple onions, which added great flavors, of course.  If you're looking for a great vegetarian option - this might be it! Check out Amanda's blog for the recipe (and mouth-watering pictures)!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Creamy Chicken and Spinach Casserole

This week we made a pasta dish. I was out of gluten-free penne, so I used corkscrew noodles instead. I wasn't super excited about this dish, but was pleasantly surprised - it turned out really good! I used a 9X13 pan; I did end up using more noodles and chicken, and it totally filled my pan.  The whole family liked it - so a definite plus! And I'm shocked at how healthy it was for a creamy sauce, no butter, cream, cream cheese, etc.   Check out Jen's blog for the recipe!
(Oh - and I also subbed rice flour for the regular flour to make it gluten-free)

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Pork Chops

This week is my first time to host Table Talk. 
 My choice was Sauteed Boneless Pork Chops with Quick Ginger-Apple Chutney.
We have done recipes with shrimp, beef, turkey sausage and chicken, so I figured it would be fun to do a pork recipe, and this one stood out to me. I thought these were really good! I liked the apple and fresh ginger (which I added more of) flavors together with the pork.  I also usually bake or crock-pot my pork chops, so I liked trying a recipe to saute them.  My family really liked this dish, I will definitely try it again sometime.

 Sauteed Boneless Pork Chops with Quick Ginger-Apple Chutney 

If the pork is enhanced, do not brine. If brining the pork, do not season with salt in step 1.

4 (6 oz) boneless pork chops, 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick, brined if desired
Salt and pepper 
2 tsp. canola oil 
1 lb. Granny Smith apples (2 or 3), peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces 
1 onion, minced 
1 Tbs. grated fresh ginger
1/4 tsp. ground allspice
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 cup apple cider
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar

1. Pat the pork chops dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.  Heat the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking.  Brown the chops well on the first side, about 3 minutes.
2. Flip the chops over, reduce the heat to medium, and continue to cook until the chops register 140 to 145 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, 5 to 10 minutes longer. Transfer the pork chops to a platter, tent loosely with the aluminum foil, and let rest while making the chutney.
3. Add the apples and onion to the fat left in the skillet, cover, and cook over medium-low heat until softened, 8 to 10 minutes. Uncover, stir in the ginger, allspice, and cayenne and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the cider and brown sugar, scraping up any browned bits, and simmer until the sauce has thickened slightly, about 4 minutes. 
4. Stir in any accumulated meat juice and return to a brief simmer. Season with salt and pepper to taste, spoon the sauce over the chops, and serve.

Per Serving:  Cal 390; Fat 11g; Sat Fat 3g; Chol 95 mg; Carb 37 g; Protein 38 g; Fiber 2g; Sodium 260 mg

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Penne With Chicken, Asparagus, and Lemon

Our Table Talk pick this week was a pasta dish.  
 This is definitely something I wouldn't have tried on my own - I am almost ashamed to admit I have never actually cooked asparagus before.    
I found some gluten-free penne pasta at Costco that I hadn't tried  - it was made with brown rice, quinoa, amaranth and corn. It was really good and made for a great gluten-free dinner!
I made regular pasta for my kids. I had nieces and nephews staying with me, and didn't figure they would touch it, but was surprised that they really liked it! My 8 year old nephew ate 3 huge plates of it!  Impressive!
I used extra chicken, dried spices, and left out the leek and wine (subbing for chicken broth).  With just those few changes, though, the flavor was great!
If you want the recipe, head over to Valerie's blog!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Pan Seared Shrimp

This week's pick for Table Talk was
Pan Seared Shrimp with Garlic and Lemon
I. Love. This. Recipe.  It is so fast and easy, but the results are amazing!  Before cooking them, I added lemon pepper rather than just regular pepper, and a little salt. With that, the garlic, lemon, and parsley, they had such a great flavor! 
Everyone in the family agreed. I think they could totally pass for a Red Lobster menu item.  Yep, in my opinion, that good!
Check out the recipe at Janet's Blog

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Stir Fried Beef and Broccoli

Stir Fried Beef and Broccoli
This was Amanda's pick this week - and it was a great one!  This was a pretty simple recipe - there was a lot of prep work as far as cutting and marinating the meat, cutting veggies, and making two sauces; however, once the cooking began it was a quick and easy recipe.  
The results?  AMAZING! My family really loved this dish! It was even mentioned that it could be from Panda Express - only better! Wow, that's a big deal around here.  I should mention that we love pretty much any dish with fresh ginger and sesame oil - those add such great flavor!  There was an option for hoisin or oyster sauce - I went with the oyster sauce. I loved the bright colors - it made for a beautiful, healthy, delicious meal!
So glad we tried this - check out Amanda's blog for the recipe!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Chicken Parmesan

For 2013 we switched our baking group to a dinner group:
Table Talk will be posting dinner recipes twice a month.
We are using the America's Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook.
For our first week, Jen picked Chicken Parmesan!
 A favorite of mine, I was excited to make this!
It turned out awesome!  Everyone in my family LOVED it!  It was devoured and I'm already being asked when I will make more!  
Check out Jen's blog for the recipe!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Bake 52: Week 52

I cannot believe it is week 52! I cannot believe this year is over! And I cannot believe all of the amazing things that I baked this year!
For our last week, we baked 
Thick and Chewy Triple Chocolate Chip Cookies
This picture was taken on my phone and isn't so much in focus. I am sure other bakers got much better shots to give you a better idea of what these look like!
I made these a couple of weeks ago, knowing that Christmas week would be super busy. I was trying to find something fun for the kids to do one night and we decided to make cookies.  This was the perfect chance to try these out!  
So they are triple chocolate:  cocoa in the dough, melted chocolate in the dough, and chocolate chips in the dough.  Sounds amazing, right?
These were too sweet for me.  I almost felt like I didn't know who I was anymore - my motto is "there's never too much chocolate" and suddenly there was.  I could only eat one cookie.  And didn't want to eat the entire bowl of dough.
So...my conclusion is that I was either  coming down with a horrible case of something and my tastebuds weren't working properly....or they are just a little too rich for me.  I'm anxious to see what everyone else thought of it.
Hope everyone had a Merry Christmas!  I am looking forward to our Dinner Group for 2013!
Check out Janet's blog for the reicpe!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Bake 52: Week 51

This week's pick was Biscotti
The recipe was Almond Biscotti, but there were different variations.  Like most of the bakers this week, the chocolate chip definitely sounded the best to me!
 My grandma's cute little old friend used to always make Biscotti for Christmas - I always think of her this time of year.  It was fun to have this today!
And I loved all of the pictures of the Biscotti with hot chocolate - which I need to try tonight. I am sure dipping it is yum, however it was also super yum partnered up with an icy cold diet coke!  But then again, what isn't?
Thanks, Emily, for picking this recipe!  Check out her blog for the recipe.
Merry Christmas to all!!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Bake 52: Week 49

This week it is my turn to host again....the last time for Bake 52 this year.
I decided for my last baking host-age (to be read as the act of being a host, not being held as a hostage) that I wanted to try the jelly roll. I have never made one. Or a pumpkin roll. Or anything else that you roll in like manner.  But then I turned the page and decided if we were going to roll a cake, the one to make would be the 
Glazed Chocolate Cream Roll
First off I must say that making this cake reminded me sooooo much of the ice cream cake from The Milky Way - the bestest litle diner shop growing up.  Amanda - come on, you've got to have these secret recipes for us!  I am going to try using this same cake and doing ice cream rather than marshmallow cream. I think we might just have a new favorite birthday cake around here!

As the recipe was, though, it was delicious!  As I started to bake and realized that there was not a lot of flour called for in this cake (3/4 cup), I decided to try it gluten-free.  So I subbed in 3/4 cup of Pamela's Baking Mix for the flour.  I was prepared to have it totally fall apart when I started to roll it, because that's what happens when things are gluten free. And I already had a plan - fill a bowl with the cake chunks and they could still be enjoyed, and start a new cake with regular flour.
How delightedly surprised I was when it rolled PERFECTLY!  
We all really loved this cake!  And here's why: Chocolate cake, Marshmallow filling, Chocolate glaze.

Glazed Chocolate Cream Roll
America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book pg. 258
You'll need an 18X13-inch rimmed baking sheet for this cake.  We prefer a stiffer marshmallow creme in this filling, such as Jet-Puffed or Fluff.  Be sure to have the filling ready by the time the cake is finished baking; if the baked cake sits around for longer than 15 minutes before filling, it will become too stiff to roll.

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
5 large eggs, room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

6 Tbsp. (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup confectioners' sugar
1 1/4 cups marshmallow creme (see note above)
3/4 tsp. vanilla extract
1/8 tsp. salt

1/3 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp. light corn syrup
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

For the Cake: Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease an 18X13-inch rimmed baking sheet, line the bottom with parchment paper, and grease the parchment.  
 Whisk the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl.

In a large bowl, whip the eggs with an electric mixer on medium-high speed and gradually add the sugar and then the vanilla, about 1 minute.  Continue to whip the mixture until very thick and voluminous, 4-8 minutes.
Sift the flour mixture over the egg mixture and fold in with a rubber spatula until just incorporated.
 Scrape the batter into the prepared baking sheet and spread out to an even layer.  Bake the cake until it feels firm and springs back when touched, 12-17 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking.
 For the Filling: Meanwhile, beat the butter and sugar together in a medium bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Beat in the marshmallow creme, vanilla, and salt until incorporated, about 2 minutes.
Remove the cake from the oven, run a knife around the edge of the cake to loosen it, then flip the hot cake onto a large sheet of greased parchment paper.  Peel off and discard the parchment paper baked onto the cake.  Starting from a short end of the cake, roll the cake and parchment snugly into a log and let cool for 15 minutes.

Gently unroll the cake. Spread the filling over the cake, leaving a 1/2" border at the edges. 
  Reroll the cake gently but snugly around the filling, leaving the parchment behind as you roll.   Trim the ends of the cake, then let it cool compltely, about 30 minutes.
 For the Glaze:  Transfer the cake to a wire rack set over a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet.  Microwave all of the ingredients together, whisking often, until melted and smooth, 1-2 minutes.  Pour the warm glaze evenly over the cake, letting it drip down the sides, and refrigerate until the glaze has set, about 1 hour.  Transfer the cake to a cake platter before serving.
 For the Glaze:  Transfer the cake to a wire rack set over a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet.  Microwave all of the ingredients together, whisking often, until melted and smooth, 1-2 minutes.  Pour the warm glaze evenly over the cake, letting it drip down the sides, and refrigerate until the glaze has set, about 1 hour.  Transfer the cake to a cake platter before serving.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Bake 52: Week 48

Large Danish Braid
What a fun recipe to try!  I was sold when I saw that this had glaze AND icing.  You seriously can't go wrong with that!  Danish dough is a reeeeaaaallllllly long process, but you end up with flaky, sweet, pastry crust.  There were a few options for filling, I chose to do cream cheese and raspberry - again, a great combination - can't go wrong!  This turned out really good. I am not sure if I would commit as much time as it took again, but I think you could make something very similar with an easier dough.  It just wouldn't be as flaky.  I highly recommend trying this out - check out Jen O's blog for the recipe!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Bake 52: Week 47

Best Buttermilk Biscuits

I have always made drop-style biscuits, so this was another first for me.  I didn't have a round biscuit cutter, so resorted to a snowflake cookie cutter - very festive!
These were fast and easy to whip up and I really loved them! All of my kids did too. I made them on a night we were having soup and it tasted so great dipped in it.  They were also muy bueno with honey or jam.
Definitely try these out!
You can visit Betsy's blog for the recipe!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Bake 52: Week 46

This week we baked a
Sweet Potato Pie

This is the reason I love being a part of this baking group.  Here's how it looked in my head:
Sweet Potatoes are good.
Pie is good.
Sweet potatoes and pie do not mix.
BUT I was wrong!  It does mix because it has sugar, brown sugar, spices, and whole milk....
oh yah, sweet potato pie is GOOD!
And what good is pie without ice cream? This was no exception - the flavors went so well together!
So glad we got to try this!
Check out Talesha's blog for the complete recipe!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Bake 52: Week 45

This week Amanda chose for us to bake
Pumpkin - Great
Cheesecake - Great
Pumpkin + Cheesecake = Fantastic
What else can I say? 
I did think it was interesting that this recipe had you dry out the pumpkin puree first, I have never seen or done that, but it's a great tip to know!
Definitely a great dessert - and just in time for Thanksgiving!
Check out Amanda's blog for the complete recipe!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Bake 52: Week 44

This week's pick was a 
Red Velvet Layer Cake

 Growing up I never tasted a red velvet cake.  Once I got married, I found out that red velvet cake is "the cake" in my hubby's family.  In fact, when we got married it was his very favorite cake. His mom always made it for his birthday.  And she made it gluten-free.  Here I come into the picture with no idea what gluten-free even means...let's say I left that up to his mom for awhile.
Over the years I have tried a couple of different red velvet cakes and cupcakes with surprisingly good results.  When I saw that was the pick for this week, I decided to give it one more try, gluten-free style.  I followed the recipe exactly, only substituted a GF baking mix for the flour.  The results were great!  The middles of my cakes sank, but that was easily remedied by adding a lot of frosting to even it out. You can never get too much frosting - oh and did I mention it was cream cheese frosting?  Absolutely delish!  We always put red velvet cake in the fridge, so after trying it, I covered it up good and put it in the fridge overnight. I really do think it was even better the next day.

Check out Janet's blog for the recipe!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Bake 52: Week 43

This week our host, Emily, chose to bake Apple Dumplings.
Don't they sound good? I bet they were.
I, on the other hand, thought we were baking Apple Turnovers....
Not only did I pick the wrong recipe, but I turned it into intestines for Halloween. 
And I got Talesha to bake with me.  

So here's how it went down.  Talesha and I hosted a book club this week.  We made all sorts of fun, creepy food.  I had seen this idea for the intestines and thought - hey - if we are making turnovers, we could make this recipe together, but shape it different.  If only we were making turnovers....

Anyway, we did it.  We used puff pastry dough, had yummy apple filling, rolled it up and painted it with blood (ahem, red food coloring).  It was delicious.
If only it was April Fool's instead of Halloween, this would probably be a little funny.
 You should try making apple turnovers.  And apple dumplings!
Sorry for the mess up, ladies!  Can't wait to see how all of yours turned out!
Check out Emily's blog for this week's recipe!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Bake 52: Week 42

This week is my turn to host again, I decided to choose
Creme Caramel
I wanted to make something new, something gluten-free...and this recipe had me at "caramel".
My husband absolutely LOVED this dessert.  I thought it was just OK.  I didn't particularly love the flavor or texture, and it didn't taste like true caramel.  Lucky for him - he got to eat most of them - and I heard no complaints about that!
I really found this recipe to be fascinating, though.  First you pour the caramel into the bottom of a ramekin.  It hardens quickly - it is like glass and super stuck onto the ramekin. I couldn't imagine how I would ever get it out of there.  Somehow in the process it softens, fuses with the custard, and even becomes a bit runny - it's a bit magical!
Here's the recipe - give it a try - it's always fun to try something new :) 

 Creme Caramel - from The America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book 
Serves: 8
The caramel is best prepared in a light-colored pan so that you can gauge its color as it cooks.  Be careful handling the caramel, as it gets extremely hot.  The best way to clean stuck-on caramel from the ramekins after unmolding the custards is to fill them with boiling water and let them sit for a few minutes until the caramel dissolves.

1/2 cup water
1 2/3 cups sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
2 large egg yolks, room temperature
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Pinch salt
3 cups half-and-half

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Place a kitchen towel on the bottom of a large roasting pan and arrange eight 6-ounce ramekins on the towel.  Bring a kettle of water to a boil.
 Pour the 1/2 cup water into a medium saucepan, then pour 1 cup of the sugar into the center of the pan (don't let it hit the pan sides). 
 Gently stir the sugar with a clean spatula to wet it thoroughly.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, without stirring, until the sugar has dissolved completely and the liquid has a faint golden color (about 300 degrees on a candy thermometer), 6 to 10 minutes*.  Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the caramel has a dark amber color (about 350 degrees on a candy thermometer), 3 to 4 minutes longer.
  Immediately remove the pan from the heat and, working quickly but very carefully, pour about 2 tablespoons of the caramel into each ramekin.  Let the caramel cool slightly until hardened.
 4. Whisk the eggs, egg yolks, vanilla, salt, and the remaining 2/3 cup sugar together in a large bowl.  
Heat the half-and-half in a medium saucepan over medium heat until steaming, then whisk it into the egg mixture until just combined.  Strain the custard through a fine-mesh strainer into a large liquid measuring cup or pitcher.  

Pour the custard evenly into the ramekins on top of the caramel. Place the roasting pan in the oven and carefully pour enough boiling water into the pan to reach halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
  Bake the custards until a small knife inserted halfway between the center and edge comes out clean, 35-40 mintues.
 Carefully remove the ramekins from the water bath using tongs and a sturdy spatula and let the custards cool to room temperature, about 2 hours.  
Set the ramekins on a baking sheet, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until cold, at least 2 hours.
 TO SERVE:  Run a small knife around each rameking to loosen the custard.  Place an inverted serving plate over the top and quickly flip the custard onto the plate, shaking the ramekin gently to help release the custard and caramel.  Drizzle any extra caramel sauce over the top (some caramel will remain stuck in the ramekin).
* If you have a candy thermometer, definitely use it! I botched up my first bath of caramel and had to start over.  It took much longer than indicated here!