Thursday, June 21, 2012

Man Pleasing Chicken (Applies to Moms, Women or Wives, too)

For those of you who haven't jumped on board with Pinterest, I'll give you fair warning-- Pinterest can become a time drain. It's a fun one, but I've had to detox myself--considerably-- from my addiction.  Seriously.  Never heard of Pinterest?  Pinterest is, a website that has an infinite number of mouthwatering photos that countless fellow food lovers (myself included) have "pinned" onto our personalized "boards".  Essentially, it's my way of, categorically, saving recipes onto my bucket lists "boards". I've also discovered some great food blogs, this way.

I won't live long enough to make all the recipes that I've pinned, but I'm slowly working my way through them.  It's interesting how one particular Pinterest photo can make a recipe go viral.  My own "Best Meatloaf Recipe" received 25,000 hits in one day!  This chicken recipe became a hit with Pinterest, and the original blogger is "Witty in the City".  (The recipe was adapted from the "I Love Trader Joe's Cookbook"). "Witty" has received over 400 comments for that recipe!  After making it, I can see why.  It's that good.

You only need three ingredients, plus chicken.  Fortunately, I always have those ingredients on hand: Maple syrup (not pancake syrup), Dijon Mustard and Rice Wine Vinegar.  Fresh rosemary makes a perfect garnish.  The name of the recipe speaks volumes.  I've made this recipe three times, already, because my men love it. 

The original recipe uses 1/2 cup of Dijon mustard, 1/4 cup of maple syrup and 1 Tablespoon rice wine vinegar.  Dijon mustard can be overpowering, in my opinion and I wanted the maple syrup to shine through--- so I used 1/4 cup Dijon mustard and 1/2 cup maple syrup.  Love.

Round #1: I used chicken thighs, bone-in.  After seasoning the chicken with salt & pepper, I poured the sauce over the chicken, and coated it.

In a 450F preheated oven, I baked the thighs, basting them with the sauce halfway through,  until it reached 165F-- about 30 minutes.  Garnish with fresh chopped rosemary, and it's perfect!
NOTE: There was a lot of fat on the surface, that I carefully drained out. Served with brown rice, it was a big hit at the dinner table. My men spied my plate, hoping for more.


Chicken thighs, skin-on, bone-in: Using a little olive oil, I seared them until golden brown, then drained the fat and baked them at 450F.   I got less fat, and delicious.

ROUND #3:  I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs.  I still got a little fat on the surface, but nobody complained.  I also started lining my baking dish with foil, for easier cleanup. So far, this has been my favorite version-- boneless thighs.  Just pour sauce over 'em, bake it and enjoy. Our favorite side dish is brown rice.

TASTING NOTES:  No matter how you choose to prepare this recipe, it's going to be good. I no longer measure when I make the sauce.  Adjust the flavor to your taste buds liking, to balance the Dijon to Maple ratio.  I think this sauce would be delicious with pork chops, and I'm going to test that theory.  This is the perfect quick meal to make, after a long day at the office.  Pssssssssst, I made the pork chop version and you can see them here.

Today, I need to get busy packing and doing last minute chores, as Craig and I are flying to Bozeman,  Montana to spend eight days exploring Yellowstone National Park, and the Grand Tetons.  I have a busy day ahead of me, so I'm staying off Pinterest!  I don't need a time-drain!   I might post more recipes, if I can.  If I don't, it means we are too busy exploring the beauty of Montana and Wyoming!

A printable recipe card is at the very bottom of this post. Or, click here if you can't see it.

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Sunday, June 10, 2012

Funfetti Cookies-- put some sprinkles in your life!

When my son was a little boy, I remember baking Funfetti Cupcakes for his classroom, because that was the cake mix he always chose.  (That was, back in the day, when I used to buy cake mixes.)  My favorite cake is white, as is my son's.

The colored sprinkles are festive, and I think that most kids love Funfetti anything for that very reason.

I first spotted this recipe on "Two Peas and Their Pod", that led me to "Tasty Kitchen", that led me to "Fat Girl Trapped in a Skinny Body" -- which is where this recipe originated. 

If I had to pick my favorite cookie, it would sugar cookies.  When I read that this cookie recipe uses both vanilla and almond extract-- and I happened to have a collection of colored sprinkles on hand, I decided to make them for me surprise my boys with cookies for their lunches.

These were super easy to make-- in fact, the batter was ready in less than 10 minutes.

Despite all the warnings about eating raw cookie dough, and raw eggs-- I have survived my addiction fondness of cookie dough.  This cookie dough rocks!  OMG!  The dough tastes just like Funfetti cake batter!
For the first batch, I used an ice cream scoop to measure the cookie dough; that yielded 8 cookies.

The cookies were huge!  We're talking the size of my hand, huge.

For the second batch, I used a smaller scoop and it yielded 12 cookies.

 I followed the recipes directions to bake them just until they turned golden brown.

They come out of the oven puffy, but quickly cool nice and flat-- and perfectly round.

 I set aside the larger cookies, and I taste tested a smaller one.

..and I smiled, and moaned, and devoured the rest of the cookie with glee. This cookie brought out the child in me, with the colors and the flavor of white cake!

TASTING NOTES:  There is a perfect balance of vanilla and almond.  The flavors remind me of white cake. The edges of the cookies have a light crispness, and the inside of the cookie is chewy.  This cookie has moved up on my list of favorite sugar cookies.  My husband and son gobbled these up very quickly.  

The large cookies became ice cream sandwiches, filled with a Buttermint Ice Cream that I made.  I think traditional vanilla ice cream would do just fine.   These cookies are so good, served warm.  The next day, I figured out that 20 seconds in the microwave worked really well.  

You want these cookies in your life.  My husband says that people, at his job, would pay good money for these.  Hmmmm....

A printable recipe is at the end of this post.  If you can view the recipe card, then click here to be directed to Key Ingredient.

The winner of my Jeni's Ice Cream Recipe Book Giveaway is #15 (chosen by Bruno of "Eats Well With Others"!  Congratulations, Joanne.  Thanks for being such a loyal follower, and I hope you enjoy using Jeni's ice cream recipe!  Email me at with your mailing address, so I can get this shipped off to you.

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Sunday, June 3, 2012

Buttermint Ice Cream with White Chocolate, From Jeni's Ice Cream

July 15th will be National Ice Cream Day, so I'm getting an early jump start. Truthfully, every day is a good day for ice cream-- rain or shine.   I have posted five egg custard style ice cream recipes, since I started my blog. I give credit to David Lebovitz's book, "The Perfect Scoop" for introducing me to egg custard style ice cream.  It's one of my favorites. This book remains one of my favorite places to find flavor inspirations.

But, wait! I have a new "favorite" reference book for ice cream-- Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams At Home.   I've seen blog posts, that rave about Jeni's Ice Cream.  California is a long way from Ohio, so I've never had the pleasure of experiencing them myself.  My Reader's Digest Condensed cookbook review is this-- the majority of the ice cream flavors are completely out-of-the box!  To name a few: Chamomile Chardonnay, Sweet Corn & Black Raspberry, Olive Oil with Sea-Salted Pepitas, Gorgonzola Dolce with Candied Walnuts. and Goat Cheese and Roasted Cherry.  For those who don't find think these sound appealing (I do, I do!) there's salted caramel, milk chocolate, mint chocolate chip-- and lots more.  I rest my case.

I've been told that Jeni's ice creams are pricey.  I can understand why.  She uses organic, top-of-the-line quality ingredients.  It's a lovely book, with lovely photos of each ice cream recipe.

Each recipe has been created and tested specifically for a home ice cream maker. If you don't own an ice cream maker, or yours is gathering dust in a future garage sale box-- now is the time to dig it out!  I'm a fan of Haagen Dasz commercially made ice cream.  Making your own ice cream isn't as much hard work as you might think, especially if you buy an ice cream maker that doesn't require ice and salt..  Creating your very own flavors is even more gratifying-- as I've done with Lemon Curd Ice Cream, Pumpkin Pie Custard and Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream

Jeni's recipe doesn't include eggs.  Instead, she uses cream cheese, corn syrup and a cornstarch slurry. In her stores, she uses tapioca starch, but she says that cornstarch is a fine substitute and easier to find.  She says that this prevents crystallization when the ice cream freezes.

 Cream cheese, sea salt & turmeric, whisked together

I enjoyed reading about how Jeni arrived at her recipe, and I bookmarked several flavors.   The first one I made is this "Savannah Buttermint" flavor.  Whenever I see the packaged mints at restaurants, I grab a couple.
 I love that buttery mint flavor, and how they dissolve in my mouth.  That's what this ice cream tastes like.  I love white chocolate, so this would be the maiden voyage Jeni's Ice Cream recipe for me!

Right out of the gate, I ran into on stumbling block-- I didn't have "natural butter flavor" nor "pure peppermint essential oil".  I did, however, have Loranns Buttery Sweet Dough Flavor and pure peppermint extract.  That will have to do.

Tumeric is used to give the ice cream a soft, yellow color.  (I keep turmeric to make yellow rice, and it's a cheap substitute for saffron.)

The base uses whole milk, heavy cream, sugar and light corn syrup. (2 Tablespoons of the milk is whisked with cornstarch, and set aside.)

Bring the mixture to a rolling boil (and don't walk away, like I did-- the milk almost boiled over!) This is important-- boil for four minutes.  Then, remove from heat...

...and whisk in the cornstarch slurry.

Bring the mixture back to a boil, then stir with a heatproof spatula until slightly thickened; about one minute.

Gradually add the hot mixture to the cream cheese mixture...

...then carefully pour the mixture into a 1-Gallon ZipLoc Freezer Bag and submerge the bag into an ice bath.

It takes about 30 minutes for the mixture to cool, as long as you use plenty of ice.  I wonder if I could just put the hot mixture into the refrigerator?  I'm not sure.  I rarely stray from a recipe's directions, the first time.  I might test this, but today, I'm following directions.

I was disappointed to discover that in my vast collection of chocolates, I did not have a bar of white chocolate.  I had to use white chocolate chips, and I don't recommend that.  You see, chips have an additive that makes melting them not very easy to do.  Trust me, stick with chopping chocolate. I forged on, and did my best to melt it over a pot of simmering water.  While I struggled with that...

...I grabbed the ice cream bowl from my freezer (I no longer use the ice & salt method), but off the corner of the chilled mixture and squeezed it into the ice cream maker-- and let it churn.  I added 1 Tablespoon of the Buttery Sweet Dough Butter Flavor and 1/4 teaspoon of peppermint extract... tasting and adding more, until 1 teaspoon seemed just right.   (I didn't want the peppermint to overpower the butter flavor.)

When you slowly drizzle melted chocolate into churning ice cream, it will break off into flecks.  In my case, though, I got chunks.  Ah well, I love white chocolate, so chunks will have to do.

I took about 25 minutes, before I could hear the ice cream machine slowing down.  I took my first taste....

 ...and I did a Happy Dance!  Creamy. Rich. Buttery. Slightly Minty.  I got a taste of white chocolate.

I hid the ice cream way in the back of the freezer.  The wait for the ice cream to freeze had begun...

The next day... the ice cream needs to sit out for about 15 minutes.  It was firm, but not icy or rock hard.  Amen.    I loved the pretty light yellow color, too!

TASTING NOTES:   David Lebovitz, move over.  Jeni's in town!  You cannot distinguish the cream cheese flavor at all.  What you taste is creamy ice cream, that has a velvety mouth feel, and it's not super sweet.  This ice cream flavor tastes just like buttermint!  I love white chocolate.  If you don't, leave it out, and I think the flavor would still be great.

What perfect timing, when I spotted a recipe for "Funfetti Cookies".  I will post the recipe for these cookies, next, because you will want to make them.  I had this idea that the cookies would be a perfect complement to the ice cream.

My hunch was right.   Craig and I enjoyed our ice cream sandwich!

Would you like your own copy of this book?  If you love ice cream, and want to make your own, I'm giving away a copy to one lucky reader.  All you have to do is leave a comment, on my blog, and think up an ice cream flavor you would like to make.   That's right, I'm asking you for inspiration.  Sweet? Savory? Or something as simple as chocolate....or chocolate with....?  

I'll give you one more entry if you follow me on Twitter and tweet my giveaway-- please leave a comment that you've done so.  If you aren't following me on my Facebook Fan Page, and you do so, please come back and let me know-- and there's one more entry.    You can earn a total of three entries, this way.

My giveaway will close on Friday, at 4pm.  I will randomly choose a winner.  I hate to do this, but I can only ship to the Continental United States.   GIVEAWAY IS CLOSED. THE WINNER WILL BE POSTED WITH MY NEXT RECIPE.

Good luck!  I can't wait to hear our ice cream flavor ideas!

A printable recipe card is at the end of this post, so keep scrolling down; or click here to view it.

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Saturday, June 2, 2012

Migas for Breakfast (The Homesick Texan)

Before I share this Tex-Mex breakfast, let me post my disclaimer right away: Except for a cross-country trip, in 1976, where I found myself white-knuckling through Dallas during rush hour, I have never been to Texas-- I've been through Texas.  Literally.  I've made a few plane connections at Dallas-Forth Worth Airport, but I've never had the pleasure of sight-seeing the many Texas places-to-see that I've read about.  Someday...

I've been a loyal reader of Lisa Fain's foodblog "The Homesick Texan", for quite a while.  I impressed with her friendly and approachable food blog persona-- she even responds to comments! I always appreciate bloggers who take the time to interact with their followers.

For that reason, I bought Lisa's cookbook, that is titled the same as her food blog.   I have bookmarked so many of her recipes, and have thoroughly enjoyed reading her stories about her life in Texas.  Like my disclaimer says, while I haven't eaten authentic Tex-Mex food in the Home State where it is proudly served--  I can personally attest to how easy and delicious her Chili Gravy recipe is (from her blog), because I made it for my  Cheese and Onion Enchiladas.  If you love the flavors of Mexico, get the book!

 Star ingredients: jalapeno, onion, garlic, cilantro-- and my own leftover tomatillo salsa verde

On Saturday mornings, I much prefer to make a breakfast with eggs.  That's the day that Craig and I have to do our weekend chores, and I need protein to get me going.  I'd never heard of Migas, before, but according to Lisa--
"If you’ve ever had breakfast in Austin, chances are you’ve had a plate of migas. This dish of eggs scrambled with fried corn tortilla strips, salsa and cheese is ubiquitous in some of the Texas capital city’s most popular breakfast spots, including Las Manitas where it’s almost a crime not to order their marvelous migas. I have fond memories of spending lazy mornings in this bustling Congress Avenue diner, scooping spoonfuls of the crunchy, cheesy eggs and bacon-laced refried beans into fluffy flour tortillas. There’s no better way to start the day."

The picture of this dish, in her cookbook is mouth-watering.  I had to make this! I used a combination of cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese, and leftover corn tortillas (we do love our Taco Tuesdays).

For the eggs:  Beat 6-8 eggs (I used six), about 1/4 cup milk, salt, pepper and 1/2 tsp ground cumin, and about 1/4  cup of fresh cilantro.

In my beloved cast-iron skillet, I heated about a half-inch of vegetable oil and fried the cut tortilla strips; cook them for about 2 minutes, remove and place on paper towels. Set aside. Pour out most of the oil.

Saute the onion and jalapeno (NOTE: Lisa uses four jalapenos, but I used only half of ONE jalapeno), until tender-- about 5 minutes, then add the garlic and cook just until fragrant--about 30 seconds.

DISCLOSURE:  I made this recipe TWICE, on separate weekends.  With all due respect to the author, my first attempt didn't quite work, to my expectations-- per the cookbook.  I'll explain why at the end, and will show you how I had better success on attempt #2.  MY WAY, TAKE TWO: add the eggs....

Cook the eggs, on medium-low until partially cooked...

...add the cooked tortilla strips.

Add about half the cheese; give this a gentle stir to combine.

This step is completely optional: I wanted to use leftover salsa verde, and it was refrigerated. I don't like adding cold salsa to hot food, so I added some salsa over the mixture.  Preheat the broiler, with the rack on high and broil for about one minute-- until the cheese is bubbly and melted.

Breakfast is ready!

TASTING NOTES, TAKE ONE: The first time I made this recipe, I thought the flavors were good. Personally, I thought the textures weren't quite right.  In the cookbook recipe, the instructions say to cook the eggs for about a minute, then add the cheese and to gently stir.  Problem:  Cheese plus gooey eggs = gooey, gloppy eggs.  No bueno!  Plus, when the tortilla strips got added to the gooey, gloppy cheese/egg mixgure, they got soggy.   

I'm not one to give up on a recipe that has promise.  So, my adaptions were to cook the eggs more,  then add the tortilla strips, to let them retain more of a crispy texture.  Then I added half the cheese, to melt into the egg-tortilla mixture.  By broiling the remaining cheese, I got the creamy-melted texture I wanted.  Bingo!!

 In a way, Migas reminds me of Nachos, but the eggs makes this a perfect, hearty breakfast.  I can see lots of possibilities with this recipe that can be personalized to your own taste. Lisa says that you can add crumbled Mexican chorizo, chopped poblanos or anything else. If I had any refried beans, I'd definitely want to try adding those.  I garnished this with sour cream, green onion and cilantro. If I had a ripe avocado, yep, that would be added to it.    I only wish I had flour tortillas-- and I plan to make Lisa's recipe, from her cookbook.  Migas for breakast.  It's a good thing.  

Now, I want to go to Austin, Texas!

A printable recipe is at the end of this post. If you cannot view it, click here to be directed to Key Ingredient.

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