Thursday, September 25, 2008

Pasta Filled Peppers

Easy. Good for you. Delicious. Ya, this one's a keeper. I had 1/2 a bell pepper laying around and about to go bad, so instead of throwing it into the pasta sauce, all chopped up and indistinguishable, I decided to make a bell pepper boat for pasta. It worked SO well.
I baked the pepper a little before stuffing just so that it was not too hard when the pasta went in, but you could probably omit the pre-baking if you want a crisper pepper. I highly recommend a pasta sauce that has a hint of roasted pepper in it to help pick up the flavors and take it to another level. Even with your basic pasta sauce though, this is definitely worth a try.
Pasta Filled Peppers
Serves 1
1/2 a bell pepper, cored and seeded
a large handful of short pasta (I used gimmelli, but I think penne or macaroni would work)
about 1/3 cup of pasta sauce
3TBSP shredded mozzarella
2TBSP Parmesan cheese
1TBSP breadcrumbs

1. Preheat oven to 400. Cook pasta according to package directions.
2. Place pepper, cut side up, on a square of aluminum foil. Fold and crimp the foil so that it will hold the pepper upright. Bake on a cookie sheet or in a baking dish for 10 min.
3. Combine pasta, mozzarella and sauce and pour into the baked pepper.
4. Combine breadcrumbs and Parmesan and sprinkle on top of pepper. Push down lightly to adhere. Bake in the oven for another 15-20 minutes until topping is golden brown.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Irish Brownies

I made these a long time ago and I have no clue why I have not made them since. Imagine: brownies. Good. Brownies with caramel. Better. Brownies with caramel Irish cream liqueur. BEST. The only person who didn't like these was a person who hates Bailey's already, but if you have any inclination to like Bailey's you will LOVE these.
Irish Brownies (Adapted from the Treasury of Home Baking cookbook)
4 oz chocolate chips
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/4 cup Irish cream liqueur (I used the Bailey's Creme Caramel)
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
Irish Cream Frosting (recipe below)

1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease 8 inch square pan.
2. Melt butter and chocolate over low heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in sugar.
3. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, with wire whisk. Whisk in Liqueur.
4. Combine flour, baking powder and salt in small bowl. Stir into chocolate mixture just until blended. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan.
5. Bake 22-25 min. Cool completely before frosting.Irish Cream Frosting
1/4 cup (2oz) cream cheese
2 TBSP butter, softened
3 TBSP Irish cream liqueur
~1 1/2 cups powdered sugar (I almost always use less than whatever is recommended because I don't want it too sweet)
Optional: Chocolate shavings

Beat cream cheese and butter in a small bowl with electric mixer until smooth. Beat in liqueur. Gradually beat in sugar until smooth. Spread on cooled brownies. Chill at least 1 hour until set before serving. Can top with chocolate shavings

Friday, September 19, 2008

Oozing Chocolate Cake

Can I say how awesome my friends are? Forgive me for bragging for a moment, but I have a friend who works for the local news channel, a friend who works for a sports lobbying group (and plays on the senate softball league, lol), a friend who is currently working at a theater in the woods in Kentucky, and oh, yes, one who gets me free cookbooks. Actually, she works, get this, in the TV section of the Washington Post! Awesome by itself, but add the fact that the people who do book reviews give away books, and it gets even cooler. When she sees cool cookbooks in the give away pile, she sometimes brings some home for me. One time she brought home a cookbook that I have so far only used twice. Once was kind of a dud, but the other. WOW. I made this oozing chocolate cake for a girly night in and it was perfect. So soft and chocolatey. I would not change a thing...well, maybe I would serve with vanilla ice cream, but last time we all dug in and devoured it so fast, there was no time for ice cream scoopers! The recipe is from "Without Reservations"by Joey Altman. I don't know whether or not to reccomend it, having only tried 2 recipes, but I can sure reccomend this one! Brownie Ice Cream Sandwich friend, thank you. I do have the coolest friends!Oozing Chocolate Cake
serves 6
8oz chocolate chips
1 stick butter
3 large eggs, seperated
1/2 cup sugar
cooking spray

1. Melt the chocolate and butter together in a double boiler over simmering water. Set aside to cool
2. In medium bowl, whisk the yolks with 1/4 cup sugar until pale and light, about 5 min
3. Whip the whites in a large, clean, dry bowl until thick and frothy, then add remaining 1/4 cup sugar and continue whipping until they form soft peaks; they shouldn't be dry or hard
4. Fold yolks into chocolate then fold that into the whites. Cover and refridgerate between 1 and 24 hours (i reccomend a higher number to make the center colder and more lava like when done)
5. Preheat oven to 400. Spray 6 6oz ramekins with cooking spray and divide the batter between them. Bake until set on the outsides but runny when inserting toothpick in center (15min).
6. Cool 1 minute, run a knife around the outside to loosen, put a plate on top of the ramekin and flip to remove.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Pineapple Kiwi Chicken

Because I have found myself a TAD bit busy (somewhere between torts briefs, training to run a 5k and trying to have a life, my schedule got crowded) this post is going to be an exercise in brevity. Trust me, I can use all the help I can get in staying brief; my current memo is over 7 pages and there is a 5 page limit! Law school is phenomenally interesting and I love it, but people are not kidding when they say there is a lot of work. Oh well, here is a quick and FANTASTIC recipe from last night. The ease of this recipe was much appreciated, but so were its spicy sweet flavors. I adapted this recipe from Robin Miller's seared pork version.
Pineapple Kiwi Chicken
serves 4

1 cup diced pineapple (fresh or canned in juice)1 cup peeled and diced kiwi (about 2 or 3 whole kiwi)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced (I used a jalapeno from a jar [technically pickled?] I rinsed it off, pulled out the seeds, rinsed the inside and dried it off to use, then I used less than called for because I didn't want too much spice)
1 tablespoon lime juice
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil

2 chicken breasts, each cut into chicken strips
chili powder
to taste
cooked brown rice

In a medium bowl, combine the pineapple, kiwi, cilantro, jalapeno, and lime juice and toss to combine. Season, to taste, with salt and set aside.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Season one side of each of the chicken strips with salt, pepper and chili powder. Put the seasoned side down into the pan. Spice the other side with salt, pepper and chili powder. Once the first side is cooked, turn the strips over and cook until done. Serve the chicken over the rice and spoon the pineapple kiwi salsa over top.

English Muffin Bread and Garlic Herb Butter

This has been floating around my "to be blogged" area for a while. It is a great bread (crusty outside, firm but not at all hard inside) and it is super easy to make (put ingredients in the machine). I served it with baked ziti and the tomato and green bean salad and it perfectly complemented both flavors. You can add any spices you like, but as I note below, my favorite so far is oregano and garlic.
Bread Machine English Muffin Bread (from "The Bread Machine Baker")
1 cup minus 1 TBSP water
1/8 tsp baking soda
2 TBSP nonfat dry milk powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
oregano to taste
garlic powder to taste
2 cups bread flour
2 tsp active dry yeast
Add all ingredients to machine in order listed. Choose regular crust and press start. Also works on rapid or quick bread setting.
I highly recommend this butter for...ANYTHING. I first used it as a spread for crackers and baguettes at the engagement party. Then I used the leftovers as the butter for Italian grilled cheese. Finally, it would certainly work on the above bread!
Roasted Garlic Butter with Chives

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 heads roasted garlic, recipe below
1 tablespoon chopped chives
1/2 tsp. salt

In a bowl, combine all the ingredients and mix well.

Take a large piece of parchment paper and pile the butter at one end of the paper, forming it into a log as best as you can.

Begin rolling the paper and the butter up, jelly-roll style, rolling tightly as you go and smoothing the log.

Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.

Roasted Garlic
Preheat oven to 350
Take 2 heads of garlic and cut off about one-third of the top of each head. Place them each on a piece of aluminum foil and drizzle each with a bit of olive oil. Sprinkle with a bit of salt and then wrap loosely in the foil.
Place them on a baking sheet in the center of the oven.
Bake the garlic for about 40 minutes. Check the garlic. It’s done once the cloves become soft and the head of garlic can be easily squeezed. Don’t burn the garlic.
Let it sit overnight wrapped in the foil and use the following day.