Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Foodie Penpals Reveal Day

The Lean Green Bean

This is my first time participating in the Foodie Penpals hosted by Lindsay at The Lean Green Bean. I had participated in a blogger cookie swap this winter and the monthly penpals sounded like a great idea. You are paired up with another blogger or blog reader and have a $15 spending cap to send your pen pal a package with items you have made or enjoy. My favorite part is that you must include something handwritten, whether it is a note, recipe, etc. I lucked out and was paired with Mike from Made by Mike, an amazing  blogger, baker and picture taker! He really included something from all of those categories in my package. Here is what it looked like when we ripped open the package! Packed full of goodies we couldn't wait to check out!

The first thing we broke into was the granola, it was crunchy and sweet but not too sweet. Too bad for us because that meant we could eat it by the handful! I have already looked up the recipe to make more! I was especially taken by the amazing photography of Mike. He included those adorable business cards and note cards with photos all taken by him. The box included cherry candies, local cherry spread, two kinds of local coffee beans, and dark honey. It's always nice to be able to try local items from a place I have never been. The cherry spread and honey were perfect on an English muffin for breakfast. And the granola went fast since we ate it as a snack and on top of my yogurt. I of course signed up for another month and can't wait to see who we are paired with.

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Sunday, July 29, 2012

Olive Tapenade and Olympics

We had Jason’s family over to watch the opening ceremonies this weekend and ended having a semi-Greek style dinner. I get so excited for the Olympics and hate that it is crammed into 2 weeks with so many sports going on at the same time all day that you inevitably miss them. Although I am sure to the host city and atheletes 2 weeks must seem like a long time. Good thing for DVR so I can watch some sports and record others for later. 

Jason's sister is a vegetarian so it took me a bit to figure out what to make but decided on my favorite spinach pie. Another Greek flavor is olive tapenade, which I love, but sometimes it can be too salty when I buy it premade or order it at a restaurant. The best solution is to make it at home where you can control the salt and what you put in it. I find this is something that is really easy to make, essentially you throw everything into the food processor and let it do the work. We had this with triscuits and toasted french bread crostinis.

Olive Tapenade
Yields: 2 cups
Adapted slightly from: Emeril Lagasse

12 ounces pitted black olives, such as Kalamata, Nicoise, or Gaeta (I used kalamata)
3 ounces capers, drained and rinsed
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
4 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves finely chopped
3 Tablespoons chopped parsley
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 lemon, juiced
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1/3 cup good quality extra-virgin olive oil

Combine olives, capers, anchovies, garlic, mustard, thyme, parsley, crushed red pepper, vinegar and lemon juice, and half of the olive oil in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine well, then allow to process until mixture is coarsely pureed, adding more olive oil as needed to obtain desired consistency. (A thicker product will better suit serving on crostini, whereas a looser consistency will work better as a sauce for pasta or cooked vegetables.) Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary, then serve as a dip alongside crusty bread, grilled vegetables or chicken, or tossed with cooked pasta and fresh herbs.

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Friday, July 27, 2012

Zucchini Tots

Happy Friday! We all survived another week and this time with record heat! We are big fans of summer squash and zucchini but am never too creative in how to use it aside from saute, steam or grill. During the summer they are fresh and affordable so take advantage! I wish I had a garden to grow some in, but have a feeling this Florida heat would not cooperate well. This is a perfect recipe for a party food, side dish or even part of breakfast! There is built in portion control with the mini muffins and they have a little golden crunch on the outside. They are great for sneaking in vegetables since there isn't a strong flavor from the zucchini but mainly the seasonings. I am going definitely keeping this recipe on hand for the future.

Zucchini Tots
Yields: 12 mini muffins
Serving Size: 4 per person
Source: Skinnytaste

1 cup zucchini, grated
1 large egg
1/4 medium onion, diced
1/4 cup reduced fat sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1/4 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
salt and pepper to taste
cooking spray

Preheat oven to 400°. Spray a mini muffin tin with cooking spray.

Grate the zucchini into a clean dish towel. Wring all of the excess water out of the zucchini. In a medium bowl, combine all of the ingredients and season with salt and pepper.

Fill each muffin section to the top, pushing down on the filling with your spoon so it's nice and compacted so they don't fall apart when you take them out of the tin.

Bake for 16-18 minutes, or until the tops are golden.  Use a plastic knife or rubber spatula around the edges of each tot to remove them from the muffin tin.   

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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Oatmeal Cookies with Raisinets

I love baking but find that to try a new recipe, especially of cookies that I end up with way too many in the house tempting me. Since I like the trashy show Bachelor Pad I invited one of my girlfriends over to watch it together because, well isn’t it always more fun to make fun of them with someone else?! And it gave me justification to try out a cookie recipe I had saved on my computer for a while.

What could be better than chewy oatmeal raisin cookies you ask? Ones that are made with raisinets of course! Oatmeal cookies are Jason’s favorite so this recipe is a spin on the traditional that can incorporate my love for chocolate. I used traditional milk chocolate covered raisinets but you can use dark chocolate ones or chocolate craisinets as the original recipe called for, I couldn’t find them despite loving craisins. These are sweet and chewy with the yummy chocolate chips AND raisinets. The next time I make these I am going to try to swap some of the butter with applesauce to make them a bit healthier.

Oatmeal Cookies with Raisinets
Yields: about 40 cookies
Source: My Baking Addiction

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 cups quick cooking oats
3/4 cup chocolate covered cranberries
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in large bowl with an electric mixer cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
2. Beat in eggs one at a time and add in vanilla. In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Mix the dry ingredients into the creamed mixture until just combined. Stir in oats, chocolate covered cranberries and chocolate chips mixing until incorporated. Cover, and chill dough for at least one hour.

3. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or spray with nonstick cooking spray. Use a medium scoop (1 ½ Tablespoons) to create dough balls. Place the balls of dough 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets.

4. Bake for 10-12 minutes in preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

- Store cooled cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to three days, if they last that long!

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Saturday, July 21, 2012

Korean Grilled Chicken

I am writing this as I sit in a chaise lounge in our backyard taking in one of the less hot and humid evenings. I tend to take for granted how nice it can be here, even in the summer and just taking a few minutes to sit outside and relax, read or write this blog post can make such a difference in the day or night. Now onto the food! I am not sure what makes this chicken Korean but it definitely has Asian flavors in the marinade. I couldn't find the special Korean malt syrup the recipe called for so I added a tiny bit of honey for the texture and sweetness. Since this recipe uses chicken thighs and it is marinated beforehand it keeps the meat nice and juicy, not dried out like boneless, skinless chicken breasts can get. You can definitely taste the saltiness from the soy sauce and sweetness from the sugar and honey with a hint of ginger. Serve with your favorite vegetable, we had broccoli and shared a sweet potato instead of traditional rice. Hope you have a great weekend and hopefully can grill up some of this chicken!

Korean Grilled Chicken
Serves: 6
Source: Chow.com

3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
6 medium garlic cloves, smashed
3 medium scallions, ends trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 (4-inch) piece ginger, cut into ¼ inch coins
3/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup Korean malt syrup or honey
6 Tablespoons granulated sugar
3 Tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1 ½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 Tablespoon toasted sesame seeds, for garnish
Vegetable oil, for prepping the grill


1. Lay the chicken in a single layer on a cutting board. Cover with plastic wrap and, using a meat mallet or rolling pin, evenly pound to a 1/2-inch thickness.

2. Place everything except the chicken and the sesame seeds in a large, nonreactive dish or a re-sealable plastic bag and mix until evenly combined. Add the chicken and turn to coat evenly. Cover and place in the bottom of the refrigerator to marinate for 2 hours.

3. Heat a gas or charcoal grill to high (about 400°F) and rub the grill with a towel dipped in vegetable oil. Remove the chicken from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature while the grill heats up, at least 20 minutes.

4. Remove the chicken from the marinade and let any excess drip off. Place the chicken on the grill and cook uncovered, turning rarely, until it’s charred and the juices are running clear, about 10 minutes total. When ready to serve, garnish with the sesame seeds.

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Thursday, July 19, 2012

Easy Baked Pork Chops with White Wine–Mustard Sauce

Pork is definitely our other white meat. We eat a lot of pork whether it is a tenderloin or boneless or bone in pork chops to mix up our chicken meals. I try to buy meat when it's on sale and store in the freezer for when I come across a recipe such as this one. By doing so, it allows me to not have to go to the store, but pull the meat from the freezer and we have the rest of the few ingredients already in the house. This is a really flavorful sauce, especially the Dijon mustard, one of my favorites. Be very careful and sure to use a pot holder/oven mit when handling the pan! I have made that mistake before and burned my hand, extremely painful.

Baked Pork Chops with White Wine–Mustard Sauce
Serves: 2
Source: Chow.com

2 (1-inch-thick) bone-in pork loin chops
1 teaspoon olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and at room temperature
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

Heat the oven to 400°F and arrange a rack in the middle.

Pat the pork chops dry with a paper towel and rub them all over with the oil. Season both sides generously with salt and pepper.

Heat a large oven-safe frying pan over medium-high heat until several drops of water sprinkled into the pan skitter around and converge into one big drop or the pan is smoking, about 3 to 4 minutes. Place the chops in the pan and cook undisturbed until they’re golden brown on the bottom, about 3 minutes.

Flip the chops over and immediately place the pan in the oven. Bake until the chops are golden brown on the second side and the temperature registers 145°F on an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of each chop, about 7 to 10 minutes.

Using a kitchen towel or potholder, take the pan out of the oven and return it to the stovetop. Transfer the chops to a plate and tent them loosely with foil; set aside.

Using the kitchen towel or potholder to grasp the handle of the pan (be careful not to touch the handle with your bare hands for the remainder of the cooking time), pour off and discard any fat. Add the wine, place the pan over medium-high heat, and cook, scraping up any browned bits that have accumulated in the bottom of the pan, until the wine is reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat.

Whisk in the butter 1 piece at a time, letting each melt before adding the next, until all of the butter has been added and the sauce has thickened. Whisk in the parsley and mustard. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. Place 1 pork chop on each plate, top with sauce, and serve immediately with vegetable of choice

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Sunday, July 15, 2012

Brownie Crackles

What could be better than a brownie or a cookie? A brownie crackle cookie of course! These cookies combine the fudgey chocolate flavor of a brownie in cookie form topped with powdered sugar. They seriously are addicting! I almost forgot to take a picture and these were the last 2 remaining!

Thank goodness I made them to send to my foodie penpal this month. I had to give some away to people at Jason's work for fear I would eat them all myself. One of his employees kids thought they were so good they were willing to pay for more! Definitely a recipe to keep in mind for the holidays, as you can see they package nicely.

 Brownie Crackles
Adapted from: Taste of Home
Yields: 2-3 dozen depending on how big you make them

1 package fudge brownie mix (13-in. x 9-inch pan size)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 egg
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup canola oil
1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
Confectioners' sugar
In a large bowl, beat the brownie mix, flour, egg, water and oil until well blended. Stir in chocolate chips. Chill dough in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to make them easier to scoop.

Place confectioners' sugar in a shallow dish. Drop dough by Tablespoonfuls into sugar; roll to coat. Place 2 in. apart on greased baking sheets. Bake at 350° for 8-10 minutes or until set. Remove from pans to wire racks to cool. 

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Friday, July 13, 2012

Pan-Roasted Chicken with Lemon-Garlic Green Beans

Happy Friday! We made it through the week! I am a big fan of what some call "one pot" meals. They are just so easy and hassle free you can't resist. I especially like this one because you don't have to brown the meat or do anything, you just simply put it in the pan and have your chicken, veggie and potato ready to go. We normally don't eat chicken with the skin on but this was too good to resist, it had the perfect crunch. I cut the recipe in half, but ended up using a whole lemon for the slices on the bottom of the pan. For me it was too much lemon but Jason thought it was just right, it really depends on your love for lemon flavor. According to Jason this was REALLY good and cooked perfectly, therefore meaning I have to up my game next time now that the bar is set higher...no pressure. Hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Pan-Roasted Chicken with Lemon-Garlic Green Beans
Serves: 4
Source: Real Simple Magazine

6  Tablespoons  olive oil
2 lemons, 1 thinly sliced, 1 juiced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1  teaspoon  kosher salt
1/2  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
3/4  pound  trimmed green beans
8 small red potatoes, quartered
4 chicken breasts (bones left in, with skin, about 3 1/4 pounds)

Preheat oven to 450°F. Coat a large baking dish or cast-iron skillet with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Arrange the lemon slices in a single layer in the bottom of the dish or skillet.

In a large bowl, combine the remaining oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and pepper; add the green beans and toss to coat. Using a slotted spoon or tongs, remove the green beans and arrange them on top of the lemon slices. Add the potatoes to the same olive-oil mixture and toss to coat. Using a slotted spoon or tongs, arrange the potatoes along the inside edge of the dish or skillet on top of the green beans. Place the chicken in the same bowl with the olive-oil mixture and coat thoroughly. Place the chicken, skin-side up, in the dish or skillet. Pour any of the remaining olive-oil mixture over the chicken.

Roast for 50 minutes. Remove the chicken from the dish or skillet. Place the beans and potatoes back in oven for 10 minutes more or until the potatoes are tender. Place a chicken breast on each of 4 serving plates; divide the green beans and potatoes equally. Serve warm.

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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Roasted Potatoes with Arugula-Pistachio Pesto

Happy hump day! Hope everyone is surviving being back at work after the holiday, I know I barely am. It always seems to be harder to get back into the swing of things after a week of vacation. I tried to start this  morning with a run to get myself energized. I had forgotten how it is a great way to start the day and also get a tan ;) Now if only I can keep this up for the rest of the week. This is a recipe that Jason pulled from Cooking Light and made for us. I love potatoes, especially roasted ones. These are a spin on the traditional roasted potatoes and a spin on pesto. The arugula gives it a peppery flavor however, we couldn't taste the pistachios but was still a good flavor.

Roasted Potatoes with Arugula-Pistachio Pesto
Serves: 6
Source: Cooking Light Magazine

2 pounds fingerling potatoes, halved lengthwise
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
3/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1 1/2 cups packed arugula leaves (about 1 1/2 ounces)
3 tablespoons grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 Tablespoons pistachios
2 teaspoons water
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 garlic clove

Place a jelly-roll pan in oven. Preheat oven to 400°F

Combine potatoes and 1 tablespoon oil in a medium bowl; toss well. Arrange potatoes in a single layer on preheated pan. Sprinkle potatoes with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes; toss potatoes. Bake an additional 25 minutes or until tender, stirring every 10 minutes.

Combine remaining 3 tablespoons oil, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon pepper, arugula leaves, Parmesan cheese, pistachios, 2 teaspoons water, lemon juice, and garlic in a food processor; process until smooth. Combine arugula mixture and hot potatoes in a medium bowl; toss well.

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Monday, July 9, 2012

Marinated Baked Pork Chops

This week boneless pork loin chops were on sale at the grocery store. I have read some blogs that plan their weekly menu solely around what is on sale at the store. I am not that organized, I usually cook what we feel like for dinner and am not the best at planning ahead a few meals. So when I saw that pork chops were on sale and we love to eat them it was a great match. And I was even luckier because Jason researched how to prepare them AND did all of the cooking! Lucky  me could sit back on our patio and pretend I was still on vacation for another night. The marinate was delicious, just sweet enough from the sugar with a bit of tang and salt from the soy and Worcestershire sauces. A great thing about allrecipes is that you can adjust the recipe to however many people you are serving. This is another tasty and quick recipe that is great for a weeknight dinner!

Marinated Baked Pork Chops
Serves: 6
Source: All Recipes

1 Tablespoon soy sauce
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
2 Tablespoons ketchup
6 pork chops, trimmed

Preheat oven to 350F

In a small bowl, thoroughly blend soy sauce, vegetable oil, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, brown sugar, and ketchup.

Place pork chops in a medium baking dish, and spread with 1/2 the sauce. Bake pork chops 30 minutes in the preheated oven. Turn, and spread with remaining sauce. Continue baking about 30 minutes (depending on size), or until internal temperature of the chops has reached 145F. Be sure not to overcook or the meat or it will become tough.

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Saturday, July 7, 2012

Rhode Island

This week I was definitely not cooking, but relaxing! It has become a family tradition to go to Rhode Island for the 4th of July. With the holiday being on Wednesday this year it was a bit trickier to schedule, but I caved and decided to take the whole week off for vacation and I don't regret it one bit! There is something about the crashing of the waves, traditional new england town and the smell of the ocean that instantly relaxes you. I absolutely love being able to see my parents for the week and missed my brother this year. We have our traditions like going to the light house and Aunt Carrie's for steamers and chowder, something we've done since I was a toddler.

This year we stayed in Jamestown, across from Newprt, a town I had never been to before. I really liked that we could walk to the small town for dinner and watched some fireworks across the bay. We were very lucky and had gorgeous weather every day, which is unheard of for us. Another great feature of Jamestown is an area that you can go and climb down to rocks and cliffs to set up a secluded area for sun bathing and enjoy the crashing of the waves and nice breeze to keep you cool.

I was sad to leave and head back home to the heat and reality. Only good thing is that we have the weekend to catch up and ease our way back to the work week.

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