Monday, April 4, 2011

Orange and Chocolate Chip Muffins

These muffins get me lots of compliments, and who would complain about that?  The subtle hint of orange and the melty chocolate chips plus the ease with which these come together make these muffins absoultely perfect.

Orange and Chocolate Chip Muffins

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 Tablespoon of fresh orange zest
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted & slightly cooled
1/2 cup of half & half cream (I always make my own by using half milk and half cream)

1/2 teaspoon of almond extract
1 1/4 cups of dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375°. Lightly grease or line 12 muffins cups.
In a large bowl, rub the orange zest into the granulated sugar until it becomes fragrant and coloured. Mix in the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.
In a separate bowl, beat the eggs. Stir in melted butter, cream, and almond extract. Add to flour mixture, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened. Stir in chocolate chips. Spoon batter into muffin cups, filling each about 2/3 full.
Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out clean. Try not to over bake them or else they will be a bit dry. Serve warm.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Taco Pizza


Pizza is a funny thing.  It's so fun (or at least it was as a kid, now it's mostly convenient) to get a pizza delivered to your door.  It's a family event to go to the pizza place and order your own creation.  But homemade pizza is just so satisfying.  Even so, I often find myself ordering pizza as often as I make it at home.  I love taco pizzas.  It's such a weird combination that actually works.  But I'm never completely convinced.  So I decided that it was high time I made my own taco pizza, and the results were amazing.  The biggest difference is that I used guacamole as a base.  It made all the difference in the world.  I also chose to cook the lettuce with the pizza rather than put it on after, which I liked a lot, because for me, lettuce tends to take away from other flavors.  Please give this a go - I really think it will become a pizza night favorite.

For more pizza night fun, check out these posts!

Taco Pizza
1 recipe pizza dough
Cheese (we used a mix of cheddar and pepper jack)
Black olives, sliced
Shredded lettuce
Tomatoes, diced
Ground turkey meat, cooked and seasoned with taco seasoning

Heat a pizza stone in an oven heated to 400.  Spread the pizza dough into a round and place on a pizza peel generously covered in cornmeal.  Top with guacamole.  Sprinkle half of the cheese on top.  Top with the rest of the ingredients, and then top with the remaining cheese.  Quickly slide it onto the pizza stone and cook for 9 to 11 minutes.  Remove from the oven, let cool, and cut into slices.  Enjoy!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Chicken Stew with Biscuits

Ina Garten is one of my very favorite chefs.  Her food never fails me, and my go to recipe for company (and one of my favorite meals) is her recipe for Lemon Fusilli with Arugula.  It's fantastic.  My husband made dinner a couple of weeks ago and made this recipe that I have been eyeing for literally a few years.  For whatever reason I never had the cajones to make it - but he did.  And it was amazing!  Another winner from Ina.  This is homey and so comforting.  Perfect for the dead of winter, but I wouldn't discount it in summer either.

Chicken Stew with Biscuits
from Barefoot Contessa Family Style by Ina Garten

For the stew:
6 chicken breasts, bone in, skin on (we used boneless, skinless)
3 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
5 cups chicken stock
2 chicken bouillon cubes (we used Better than Bouillon)
12 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 yellow onions, chopped
3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup heavy cream
4 carrots, medium diced, blanched for 2 minutes (that means boiled for 2 minutes)
1 10-oz package frozen peas
1 1/2 cups frozen small whole onions (we left these out)
1/2 cup minced fresh parsley

For the biscuits:
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 pound (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, diced
3/4 cup half-and-half (You can make your own by using half heavy cream, half milk.)
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 egg mixed with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash

Preheat oven to 375.
Place the chicken breasts on a sheet pan and rub them with olive oil.  Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.  Roast for 35-40 minutes, or until cooked through.  (We just boiled the chicken until done.)  Set aside until cool enough to handle, then remove the meat from the bones and discard the skin.  Cut the chicken into large dice.  You will have 4-6 cups of cubed chicken.
In a small saucepan, heat the chicken stock and dissolve the bouillon cubes in the stock.  In a large pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter and saute the onions over medium-low heat for 10-15 minutes, until translucent.  Add the flour and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes.  Add the hot chicken stock to the sauce.  Simmer over low heat for 1 more minute, stirring, until thick.  Add 2 teapsoons salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and the heavy cream.  Add the cubed chicken, carrots, peas, onions, and parsley.  Mix well.  Place the stew in a 9x13 baking dish.  Place the baking dish on a sheet pan lined with parchment or wax paper.  Bake for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the biscuits.  Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Add the butter and mix on low speed until the butter is the size of peas.  Add the half-and-half and combine on low speed.  Mix in the parsley.
Dump the dough out onto a well-floured board and, with a rolling pin, roll out to 3/8-inch thick.  Cut out 12 circles with a 2 1/2-inch round cutter.
Remove the stew from the oven and arrange the biscuits on top of the filling.  Brush them with egg wash, and return the dish to the oven.  Bake for another 20-30 minutes, until the biscuits are brown and the stew is bubbly.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Creamy Potato Salad with Avocado

All I hear about anymore is how much snow is covering the nation.  But not here.  Here it feels like summer.  Granted, summers here in Oregon are cool, but it's still summer.  Sun, beach, 65 degrees,  You can bet I've been wearing flip flops and wishing that the summer produce was in so I could make a pie.  But I'll go for the next best thing and make a potato salad.  Doesn't it just sound like a picnic on the grass?

Creamy Potato Salad with Avocado
from Vegan Visitor

1 1/2 lbs new potatoes, scrubbed
1 large ripe avocado
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons mixed chopped herbs (I used sage, garlic powder, coriander, and dill.)
Steam the potatoes until they are just fork tender but al dente.  Cool until the potatoes can be handled, then quarter.  Peel and dice the avocado and combine with the potatoes and lemon juice in a large bowl.  Stir in the herbs, then season with salt and pepper to taste.  Toss well to coat everything and to break down some of the softened avocado.
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