Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Buttermilk Pecan muffins


I made these muffins for breakfast last Saturday; which seems like forever ago. It's been a week.

They tasted delicious and we were really hungry while they baked; all that cinnamon with the pecans, vanilla and brown sugar made for a wonderful smelling kitchen. I loved the crunchy, streusel-like topping and it was extra good having a second layer of pecan goodness in the middle of the muffin.

Supposedly these freeze really well; but I can't speak to that. They didn't last long enough to freeze.  I can say they make great snacks and breakfast the next morning. 

Ingredients:

¼ cup Butter, softened
1 Egg
1-½ cups Buttermilk
½ cup Sugar
½ tsp Vanilla
1 tsp Cinnamon
2 cups Flour
¾ tsp Baking Power
¾ tsp Baking Soda
½ tsp Salt
¼ cup Brown Sugar
½ tsp Cinnamon
½ cup Finely Chopped Pecans

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease  a 12-cup muffin tin or line with paper cupcake liners.

In a bowl beat butter, sugar, buttermilk, egg and vanilla. In another bowl combine flour, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Slowly beat the flour mixture into the bowl, mixing thoroughly. It may still be a little lumpy, but no worries.

In a small bowl, mix ½ teaspoon cinnamon with the brown sugar and pecans.

Fill muffin cups half way up with batter. Spoon about a rounded teaspoon of the brown sugar-pecan mixture in each tin of batter, and then repeat with a little more batter to fill the muffin cup up three-quarters. Sprinkle the top with the rest of the brown sugar-pecan mixture.

Bake 25 minutes. Makes 12 large muffins. They can be frozen after baking and completely cooled.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Spinach, Artichoke, And Tortellini Pasta Salad


This recipe has been in my to-try file for a long time. It has olives in it, which Husband doesn't like, so I haven't made for us.

Today there was a potluck at work and I decided to give it a shot. I usually make tried and tested recipes to share with my coworkers, but this sounded so wonderful and I didn't see how it was going to try out badly.

It was popular! Although it makes a large amount nearly all of it was gone at the end of the day and I have many requests for the recipe. It turned out to be a really good choice for a potluck too. I was able to make it the night before and it can sit out for several hours and still taste great.

When the salad comes together it will seem like a TON of spinach. But the spinach does wilt down as the salad sits.

Adapted from Rachel Ray

Ingredients:

1 (20 oz) Package Fresh Cheese Tortellini
8 ounces Fresh Baby Spinach, chopped
¼ Red Onion, minced
2 Tbsp Jarred Roasted Red Pepper, minced
1 (14 oz)can Baby (Small) Artichoke Hearts, quartered
¼-½ cups Pitted Kalamata Olives, chopped or whole
2 cloves Garlic, minced
2 Tbsp Red Wine Vinegar
Zest And Juice Of 1 Lemon
¼ cup Olive Oil
1 Tbsp Fresh Thyme Leaves, minced
Black Pepper To Taste
½ cup Oil-Packed Sun Dried Tomatoes, julienned - from a jar or from an olive bar
¼ cup Feta Cheese, crumbled

Directions:

Boil a large pot of water. Add tortellini and boil 4-5 minutes or until tender but still firm. Drain pasta and allow to cool. (I have always added pasta to salad while its a little warm. I think it absorbed the flavors of the salad more readily-but whatever you prefer.)

In a large bowl, add chopped spinach, onion, red pepper, artichoke hearts and olives. Toss.  Mince garlic or put the cloves through a garlic press and place in a small bowl or jar. Add red wine vinegar, lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, thyme, and black pepper. Whisk or shake to combine. Pour dressing over spinach. Toss well. Add pasta, tomatoes, and feta. Toss again and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Panini Press



My Christmas present to myself was a Panini press. I had been wanting one for quite a while and, well, everything goes on sale before Christmas. So it was a good time to buy myself a little something.  I love sandwiches in general and I order Paninis all the time when we go out. I have tried them at home a couple times using the two skillet method; as in pushing down on the sandwich with the other skillet. I wasn't thrilled with the results so I thought an gadget made for the job would be a worthy investment.

I wanted a small one; for storage and because Husband and I certainly don't one capable of making a bunch of sandwiches at a time. I settled on this model as it was attractive, compact and got great reviews.  We have some other kitchen items that are Cuisinart brand and I have been pleased with them. 

I have been very happy with it. It heats up quickly, the food heats evenly and its very easy to clean. We haven't made anything terribly greasy with it so it has just been a matter of wiping down the non-stick grill plates once it cools and cleanup is done. We have concentrated on Panini sandwiches and Quesadillas but you can make burgers, sliders, chicken and all sorts of things. 



The sandwich above has pork left over from a roast we had a few weekends ago, Provolone cheese, dill pickles and Chipotle mayo on multi-grain bread. I love the pretty grill marks from the Panini press. Its a great way to use up leftover meat.
We do make our sandwiches one at a time. You could probably squish both on at once; but it's easy to manage one at a time and the second person isn't waiting long. This sandwich took 4-5 minutes.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Chicken Chilaquiles


These were basically another excuse to put nachos on the dinner menu. They are made with chicken instead of the traditional beef and have a tomato base.  We like spicy so these contain both jalapeno pepper and Chipotle peppers in adobo. The original recipe didn't call for jalapenos but I happened to have several of them at the moment and I knew it would be good addition.

On the subject of Chipotle peppers in adobo; what to do with the rest of the can after making a recipe? Freeze in Ziploc bag! Take the peppers out of the can, spread in the single layer in the bag and throw in the freezer. You can break off what you need for future recipes and your peppers will last a long time. I tried it and it works great. 

I also look for any excuse to buy avocados or guacamole. The first time we had it with chopped avocado over the chicken and this time we had spicy guacamole beside the sour cream; both were delicious. 


Adapted from Martha Stewart

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp Olive Oil
¼ cup Onion, finely chopped
2 Cloves Garlic, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, diced
1 Can (14 Ounces) Whole Peeled Tomatoes, in puree
1-2 Canned Chipotle Chilies In Adobo, plus the sauce clinging to the chili pepper
1 Cooked Chicken Breast
1 tsp Cilantro
2 cups Tortilla Chips
1 Avocado, chopped
¼ cup Sour Cream
½ cup Mexican Cheese

Directions:

1.  Pour oil into heavy skillet, heat and add onion and peppers.  Cook and stir over medium heat until tender. Add garlic and cook until fragrant. 

2. Add tomatoes with their puree (breaking tomatoes up, or chop tomatoes ahead of time) and chipotle with adobo sauce. ( I used a can of diced tomatoes instead. )  Bring to a boil; season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat and simmer rapidly until lightly thickened and some of the liquid is evaporated, 6 to 8 minutes.

3. Add chicken and cook, stirring, until hot, about 1 minute. Remove from heat; stir in cilantro.

4. Divide chips among four shallow bowls; top with chicken mixture and Mexican cheese. Microwave for 30 seconds on high if melted cheese is desired.  Garnish with avocado or guacamole and sour cream.  Serve warm