Monday, March 26, 2012

Brown Butter Risotto with Lobster

We don't often buy lobster, in fact we may only have it once or twice a year. But, my husband loves lobster and I thought this would be the perfect addition to some risotto for a special date night at home. Using lobster tail, which I bought on sale, allowed us to feel a little indulgent without breaking the bank.

This turned out to be a beautiful dish and tasted amazing! It was also easier than you might think to put together. Instead of using chicken or fish stock to cook the rice, I decided to use the water I boiled the lobster in, with a dash of Old Bay to spice it up. Pair that with delicious brown butter, and I couldn't have been happier with the results.

Brown Butter Risotto with Lobster
1 pound (about 2 medium) frozen lobster tails, thawed
4 1/2 cups lobster stock
dash Old Bay seasoning (or more to taste)
4 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup white cooking wine
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
salt and freshly ground black pepper
chives, for garnish, if desired

Bring a stockpot of salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the lobster tails and boil for 8 to 10 minutes until the shells curl and the lobster meat turns white. Remove tails, reserving 4 1/2 cups of the stock, drain and transfer to a cutting board; cool for 15 minutes. Using kitchen shears or a sharp knife, cut through the top shell lengthwise. Remove the meat and cut into 1/2-inch pieces. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan, keep the stock hot over low heat. Add Old Bay and stir to incorporate.

In a large saucepan, melt 3 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Cook until the butter begins to foam and then turns brown, about 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Add the onion and cook, about 3 minutes. Add the rice and stir to coat with the butter. Add the white wine and simmer until the liquid has almost evaporated, about 3 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of stock and stir until almost completely absorbed, about 2 minutes.

Continue adding the stock, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly and allowing each addition of stock to absorb before adding the next. Cook until the rice is tender but still firm to the bite, about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat. Stir in the Parmesan cheese and the remaining butter. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Transfer the risotto to a large serving bowl. Arrange the lobster meat on top of the risotto and garnish with the remaining chives, if desired.

SOURCE: Giada De Laurentiis

Friday, March 23, 2012

Spicy Thai Coconut Shrimp Soup

I had to hurry and sneak this soup in while the weather is still in limbo. It's been unseasonably warm this winter and now that spring is on the verge, we've got snow in the forecast. Silly weather.

Anyway, whether the weather cooperates or not, you'll be happy you tried this soup. It is amazingly delicious! My husband and I couldn't stop eating it. It's also super fast to throw together. Make the soup while the rice is cooking and it will all be ready at the same time.

This soup gets it's kick from serrano peppers and it's slight sweetness from the coconut milk. The flavors balance out with the addition of fresh lime, ginger and basil leaves. Don't have shrimp around? Go ahead and switch it out for a couple of cut up chicken breasts.

Spicy Thai Coconut Shrimp Soup
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 serrano peppers, seeds removed and finely diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. ginger, peeled and minced (or grate it on a microplane, if you have one, no peeling necessary)
5 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 cans (13.5-oz) coconut milk, light or regular
3 Tbsp. fish sauce
2 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. salt
8 whole basil leaves, chopped into ribbons
zest and juice of 1 lime
1/2 lb. large shrimp, raw, peeled and deveined, tails Off (can Substitute 1 Cup, Chopped Raw Chicken)
Hot cooked Thai Coconut Rice (omit toasted coconut and cilantro)

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the chili and cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and the ginger. Stir frequently until you can smell the garlic, about 30 seconds. Add the chicken broth and coconut milk and allow to simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the remaining ingredients and cook until the shrimp is cooked through, about 5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning to your personal preference.

Serve with a large spoonful of hot cooked coconut rice.

SOURCE: Adapted from Domestic Fits

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Tropical Smoothie

It is not very often that I try a new combination in my green smoothies that I immediately like and continue to make. So, I was really surprised when I made this the other day and absolutely loved it! I made it like three days in a row (until my cilantro and mangoes were gone). I was a little hesitant about the cilantro but was so glad I tried it. It is so refreshing in this smoothie.

If you don't have a high powered blender, you may have to blend this for a longer time to make sure there aren't pieces of orange floating around. Your other option would be to just juice the orange and use that.

Tropical Smoothie
1 mango, peeled and seed removed
1 cup fresh pineapple
1 whole orange, peeled
2 cups baby spinach
small handful of cilantro
1 cup water (add more to your liking)
handful of ice

Place everything in a blender and blend until liquid and smooth. Add more water as desired.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Chicken Enchiladas

I am so glad I finally got to post these. I didn't think I would ever find (or make) an enchilada that looked or tasted so good. You see me and enchiladas, we don't get along-uhh we didn't until now. Years ago, when I first got married, I searched and searched for a good enchilada recipe and tried a few different ones out. They never ended up any good. I usually didn't like the sauce and they always fell apart on me! After much searching, I came upon these Chicken Enchiladas that had a green sauce and used flour tortillas. I actually really liked them and made them quite a bit for a while. However, there was still something in the back of my head that wanted to find that perfect traditional enchilada recipe.

Well folks, I think I have found it! When I saw this recipe on Annie's Eats a while ago, I bookmarked it because I knew it would be good. Her recipes are always spot on! When I got around to trying it the first time I was blown away by how good they were, especially the sauce. They tasted even better than a traditional enchilada and looked pretty good too. My only complaint the first few times I made these was that the tortillas always broke when I tried to roll them up. Very frustrating; no fault of Annie's though, I just needed to learn how to do it.

I was almost ready to bag the whole roll-it-up way and make it lasagna-style like my other enchiladas when I happened to randomly pick up some freshly made tortillas from a Mexican bakery. Score!

Let me tell you! It made such a difference using the fresh tortillas. They were much more pliable with rolling and filling them up and they didn't break all over the place.

Now, I'm sure I won't be able to get fresh tortillas ALL the time, so I may have to learn a trick or two when using regular store-bough tortillas so they won't break. Or I might just stack instead of roll. Either way this is a keeper! You will want to try these.

Chicken Enchiladas
for the sauce:
1 medium onion, chopped fine
2 jalapenos, seeded and chopped fine
1 tsp. canola oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsp. chili powder
2 tsp. cumin
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 cup water
1 tomato, seeded and chopped
Salt and pepper

3-4 cups cooked and shredded chicken
1 cup shredded sharp white cheddar cheese, divided (Feel free to substitute mozzarella cheese here, farmers cheese or a soft Mexican cheese such as cojita.)
1 cup shredded monterey jack cheese, divided
1/2 cup minced fresh cilantro
12 (6-inch) soft corn tortillas
Cooking spray

Combine the onion, jalapeno and oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring often, until the onions and peppers have softened, 8-10 minutes. Stir in the garlic, chili powder, cumin and sugar, and cook just until fragrant, less than 30 seconds. Mix in the tomato sauce, water, and chopped tomato. Bring the sauce to a simmer, lower the heat and cook until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.

Strain the sauce through a large mesh strainer into a medium bowl, pressing down on the onions and tomatoes to extract as much liquid as possible. Transfer the reserved solids to a large bowl and set aside. Season the sauce with additional salt and pepper to taste. Add shredded chicken to onion mixture, as well as 1/4 cup of the enchilada sauce, 1/2 cup of each of the shredded cheese and the cilantro. Stir to combine.

Preheat the oven to 425˚ F. Oil a 9 x 13″ baking dish with cooking spray. Stack half of the tortillas on a plate, cover with plastic wrap, and microwave for 40-60 seconds, until warm and pliable. Spoon 1/3 cup of the chicken mixture evenly down the center of a tortilla. Roll up the tortilla around the filling tightly, and place in the prepared baking dish, seam-side down. Repeat with the remaining filling and tortillas.

Lightly spray the tops of the enchiladas with cooking spray. Place in the oven, uncovered, for 7 minutes or until the tortillas start to brown slightly.

Reduce the oven temperature to 400˚ F. Remove the enchiladas from the oven and pour the sauce oven the top. Sprinkle with the remaining shredded cheese. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 20 minutes.

Remove the foil and bake for 5 more minutes, until the cheese is browned. Remove from the oven and let stand 10 minutes before serving.

SOURCE:Lightly adapted from Annie's Eats, originally from America's Test Kitchen

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Cinnamon Baked French Toast

I know I'm a breakfast person, but I almost never make french toast. I don't know why. I like it. I eat it. I just don't really think about it much.

We had some day old french bread and cream in the fridge that I didn't have plans for and needed a home. My brain went right to french toast. And not just regular french toast. Baked french toast. I wanted yummy deliciousness but didn't want to have to stand around dippin' and flippin' all morning. I figured Ree-Pioneer Woman-would have something worth writing home about. And she did. I went right for it.

This stuff does not disappoint man! I cheated on the whole soaking over night part, 'cause, you know I only had patience to wait like 10 minutes before putting it in the oven. It still turned out heavenly. If you have the foresight to put this together the night before, more power to you. All you would have to do in the morning would be toss it in the oven. This would be great for company, or a lazy weekend.

Beware of those ooey-gooey little pieces though, they are dangerous! You'll want to snitch one because it's poking out making the row uneven. Then you'll keep snitching and snitching and before you know it, you've eaten a whole other row. By yourself. Don't say I didn't warn you!

Cinnamon Baked French Toast
For the toast:
1 loaf day old french bread
8 eggs
2 cups heavy cream
3/4 cups Sugar
2 Tbsp. vanilla extract

For the topping:
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1 stick cold butter, cut into pieces

Spray a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with cooking spray. Tear bread into chunks (or cut into bite-sized cubes) and evenly distribute in the pan.

Mix together eggs, cream, sugar, and vanilla. Pour evenly over bread. Cover tightly and store in the fridge several hours or overnight. (Or if you're like me, you can just wait 10 minutes or so, while the oven heats up.)

In a separate bowl, mix flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Add nutmeg if desired. Add butter pieces and cut into the dry mixture until mixture resembles fine pebbles. Store in and airtight bag or container the fridge if you're not baking the french toast right away.

When you're ready to bake the french toast, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove pan from fridge and sprinkle crumb mixture over the top. Bake for 45 minutes for a softer, more bread pudding texture. Bake 1 hour or more for a firmer, less liquid texture.

Scoop out individual portions. Top with butter and drizzle with maple syrup.

SOURCE: Pioneer Woman

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Dulce de Leche Banana Trifle

I have a love-hate relationship with trifles. First of all, I love them because they are totally a fool-proof dessert, you can't mess them up if you tried and they have lots of layers of deliciousness. Buuuuuuuuuuuuuut, I hate, hate, hate trying to photograph them! I am by no means a great, or even good, photographer, so I have no skills in trying to take a nice picture of these tricky things.

Lately trifle has been my go-to dessert when I need something for a crowd and there is NEVER ANY LEFT! I guess that's a good thing, or I'd be scooping that stuff right out of the bowl and into my mouth. This trifle is no different. I stumbled upon it a while ago but finally found the right occasion to make it a few weeks ago. I was teaching an Italian-themed cooking class at my home for some girls in my church and this just fit.

Seriously, I couldn't believe my mouth when I had the first bite of this stuff-SO delicious! And rich. Don't think you can get away with eating just one bite of it either. And you may just have to add a few more miles on the treadmill for it as well.

I've actually made this a couple of times and I have to admit the first time I made it I accidentally bought sweetened condensed milk instead of dulce de leche. I used it anyway because really, it's the same stuff, just not cooked down as long, and even though it has a different flavor it was still really delicious. So, you know, just use which ever one you want.

Dulce de Leche Banana Trifle
1 box white cake mix
8 ounces mascarpone cheese,
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 can dulce de leche
3 ripe bananas
1 package toffee bits

Make cake mix according to package instructions in a 9x13 baking pan. Cool completely and cut into 1-inch cubes.

In a mixer, fitted with a whisk attachment, whisk the mascarpone cheese. Slowly add the heavy cream and whisk on high making sure the cream is incorporated into the cheese. Scrape down the sides of the bowl periodically. Whisk until the mixture is thick and forms soft peaks. Add the vanilla and sugar, mix.

In a trifle bowl, layer 1/3 of cake cubes, 1/3 of the dulce de leche, 1/3 of the bananas, 1/3 of the mascarpone cream, and 1/3 of the toffee bits. Repeat two more times. Cover and chill, at least 1 hour, or until ready to serve.

SOURCE: Adapted from Stonewall Kitchen

Monday, March 12, 2012

Basil Chicken in Coconut Curry Sauce

Goodness we have been eating some fabulous food around here lately. I'm not sure if it's the food that's a little extra special or if it's just we haven't had real food in so long anything and everything sounds soooo delicious!

I was looking at my long line-up of posts waiting to debut and deciding which was the next most delicious thing I could post. It was a hard decision (ok, it really only took me about 3 seconds to decide), but this coconut curry totally won.

This seriously is one of the most tasty meals I have had in a while. (Do I say that a lot, because it sounds a little deja vous.) Even better, it's so easy and quick to prepare...AND my kids gobbled it up! You really can't get better than that.

I love coconut curries. This one has a milder taste, but you could certainly intensify the flavor a bit by adding more curry paste and jalapenos, or better yet, try the smaller Thai chilies if you really want a kick. All the flavors go together so perfectly and completely balance each other out. I like to serve this curry with Jasmine rice, but feel free to use whichever rice you prefer.

Basil Chicken in Coconut Curry Sauce
1-2 tsp. red curry paste
1/2 tsp. cracked black pepper
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. chili powder
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 large red onion, cut into thin wedges (1 cup)
2 fresh jalapeno chile peppers, seeded and finely chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 13 1/2 - 14 ounce can unsweetened coconut milk
3 Tbsp. snipped fresh basil
1 tsp. grated fresh ginger
3 cups hot cooked Jasmine rice

In a medium bowl combine curry paste, black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and the chili powder. Add chicken pieces and toss to coat. Cover and let marinate for 1 to 2 hours.

In a large frying pan or wok, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, jalapeno peppers, and garlic to wok; cook and stir about 8 minutes or until crisp-tender. Remove onion mixture from wok. Add chicken to the wok. Cook and stir for 4 to 6 minutes or until no longer pink. Return onions, jalapenos and garlic mixture to wok.

Pour the can of coconut milk into the wok and sprinkle the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Stir and allow to simmer a few minutes, until heated through. Stir in basil and ginger. Cook another minute or two. Serve over hot rice.

SOURCE: Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens

Monday, March 5, 2012

Orange Cranberry Granola

I'm always looking for new and tasty combinations for my granola. I don't know why I never thought to add orange to my granola, it's so light and refreshing and pairs wonderfully with cranberries.

Granola is one of my breakfast staples. We eat it a lot. I love making my own because it's much cheaper than buying it at the store, I can control the amount of sugar and I know exactly what goes into it. Plus, sometimes, I like to give it an extra healthy boost by adding some ground flax, sesame seeds or wheat germ. I love that my girls enjoy eating granola too. It gives me great satisfaction that they enjoy eating something healthy.

Whether you eat this for breakfast or for an afternoon snack, this deliciously crunchy, slightly sweet granola is sure to be a winner for any member of your family!

Orange Cranberry Granola
4 cups rolled oats
1 cup shredded sweetened coconut
1 cup almonds (whole, chopped, slivered or sliced)
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup Honey
3 Tbsp. brown sugar
1/2 Tbsp. vanilla extract
pinch salt
1 Tbsp. orange zest
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cups dried cranberries
1/2 cup white chocolate chips, chopped (optional)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

In a large bowl, combine the rolled oats, coconut and almonds. In a small microwave safe bowl, add the coconut oil, honey and brown sugar. Heat in microwave about 20-30 seconds until coconut oil is melted. Stir to combine, then add the vanilla extract, salt, orange zest and cinnamon. Stir again until completely combined then pour over the oat mixture. Stir with a long wooden spoon until oat mixture is evenly coated. Spread onto a baking sheet and bake for 20-30 minutes, and stirring about every 5 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool on the baking sheet. Stir in cranberries and white chocolate. Store in an airtight container.
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