Monday, February 22, 2010

Baked Creamy Chicken Taquitos

Best. Taquitos. Ever!
Recipe from Our Best Bites.

1/3 C. (3 oz.) cream cheese
1/4 C. green salsa
1 T. fresh lime juice
1/2 t. cumin
1 t. chili powder
1/2 t. onion powder
1/4 t. granulated garlic, or garlic powder
3 T. chopped cilantro
2 T. sliced green onions
2 C. shredded cooked chicken
1 C. grated pepperjack cheese

small corn tortillas (flour tortillas would also work well)
cooking spray
kosher salt

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and lightly coat with cooking spray.

Heat cream cheese in the microwave for 20-30 seconds so it's soft and easy to stir. Add green salsa, lime juice, cumin, chili powder, onion powder and garlic. Stir to combine and then add cilantro and green onions. Add chicken and cheese and combine well.

**You can prepare up to this step ahead of time. Just keep the mixture in the fridge.**

Work with a few tortillas at a time and heat in the microwave until they are soft enough to roll without cracking. It helps to place them between damp paper towels. Usually 20-30 seconds will do it. If you find yours are cracking when you roll them or are coming unrolled right away, just try heating them longer and try the paper towel thing.

Place 2-3 T. of chicken mixture on the lower third of a tortilla, keeping it about 1/2 inch from the edges. Then roll it up as tight as you can.

Place seam side down on the baking sheet. Lay all the taquitos on the baking sheet and make sure they are not touching each other. Spray the tops lightly with cooking spray or an oil miser and sprinkle some kosher salt on top.

Place pan in oven and bake for 15-20 minutes or until crisp and the ends start to get golden brown.

Serve with salsa, sour cream, or guacamole.

My suggestions: A few things I did differently in this recipe:
  • I used 1/2 C. cream cheese, instead of the called for 1/3 C., which made it more creamy, which is how I like it.
  • I didn't have any cilantro, so I just omitted it. Next time I make these though, I would make sure to have some to add. I could tell that it was missing that flavor the cilantro adds to a dish.
  • I omitted the green onions because, really, I'm not a fan of those. Not sure if it really even mattered.
  • Used a generous cup of pepperjack cheese. I love cheese.
  • You don't need kosher salt. I used normal table salt and it worked just fine.
I will never buy frozen taquitos again. They do not even compare to how yummy these homemade, baked taquitos taste!

Chocolate Heart Peanut Butter Cookies

A Valentine variation on the original Peanut Butter Blossom cookies with a Hershey's kiss in the middle. Recipe from Betty Crocker.

1 pouch Betty Crocker peanut butter cookie mix
3 T. vegetable oil
1 T. water
1 egg
2 T. sugar
36 heart shaped milk chocolate candies

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. In medium bowl, stir cookie mix, oil, water and egg until dough forms.

2. Shape dough into 36 (1-inch) balls; roll in sugar. Place 2-inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets.

3. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until light golden brown. Immediately press chocolate candy into top of each cookie. Remove from cookie sheets to cooling racks. Cool completely, about 20 minutes, before storing in tightly covered container.

Makes 3 dozen cookies.

My suggestions: Yum! I love these cookies, and I loved the heart shaped candy variation to use them for Valentines Day treats. I wanted my cookies to be larger, so I made 2 dozen cookies, instead of the 3 dozen in the recipe directions. If you plan on stacking the cookies on top of one another, you need to cool them on the cooling rack for a lot longer than 2o minutes. Mine cooled for 1-2 hours at least, allowing time for the chocolate to harden up again after being pressed into the hot cookie. I took these to a baby shower and they were an absolute hit!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Chewy Soft Pretzels

I made these for the Super Bowl Party with my family. They were a definite hit! I never did get around to taking a picture though. Recipe is from My Kitchen Cafe.

2 1/2 cups (10 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
7/8 to 1 cup (7 to 8 ounces) warm water*

1/2 cup (4 ounces) warm water
2 tablespoons baking soda
Coarse salt (optional)
3 tablespoons butter, melted

Place all of the dough ingredients into a bowl and beat until well combined. Knead the dough, by hand or machine, for about 5 minutes, until it is soft, smooth, and quite slack. Lightly flour the dough and place it in a plastic bag; close the bag, leaving room for the dough to expand, and let it rest for 30 minutes (see pictures below).

Preheat your oven to 500°F. Prepare two baking sheets by spraying them with vegetable oil spray, or lining them with parchment paper.

Transfer the dough to a lightly greased work surface, and divide it into eight equal pieces (about 70g, or 2 1/2 ounces, each). Allow the pieces to rest, uncovered, for 5 minutes. While the dough is resting, combine the 1/2 cup warm water and the baking soda, and place it in a shallow bowl or pie plate. Make sure the baking soda is thoroughly dissolved; if it isn't, it will make your pretzels splotchy.

Roll each piece of dough into a long, thin rope (about 28 to 30 inches long), and twist each rope into a pretzel. Dip each pretzel in the baking soda wash (this will give the pretzels a nice, golden-brown color), and place them on the baking sheets. Sprinkle them lightly with coarse, kosher, or pretzel salt. Allow them to rest, uncovered, for 10 minutes.

Bake the pretzels for 8 to 9 minutes, or until they're golden brown. I only bake one baking sheet at a time and let the other rest while the first is in the oven.

Remove the pretzels from the oven, and brush them thoroughly with the melted butter. Keep brushing the butter on until you've used it all up; it may seem like a lot, but that's what gives these pretzels their ethereal taste. Eat the pretzels warm, or reheat them in an oven or microwave.

*Use the greater amount in the winter, the lesser amount in the summer, and somewhere in between in the spring and fall. Your goal is a soft dough.

Makes 8 pretzels.

My suggestions: I had an EXTREMELY difficult time getting the baking soda to dissolve completely in the water, and I was never successful. Yes, the pretzels did turn out slightly splotchy, but despite their splotchy appearance, they were still delicious! If anyone decides to try this recipe, drop me a line and let me know how your baking soda wash turned out. If you have any tricks, I'd love to finally get it right!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Chicken Crescent Wreath

(recipe from Mountain View 8th Ward Relief Society cookbook)

2 (8 oz) tubes refrigerated crescent rolls
1 c. shredded Co-Jack cheese
2/3 c. condensed cream of chicken soup, undiluted
1/2 c. fresh broccoli
1/2 c. chopped sweet red pepper
1/4 c. water chestnuts, chopped
1 (5 oz) can white chicken, drained or 3/4 c. chicken, cooked and cubed
2 T. onion, chopped

Arrange the crescent rolls on a 12-inch pizza pan, forming a ring with pointed ends facing the outer edge of pan and wide ends overlapping. Combine the remaining ingredients; spoon over wide ends of rolls. Fold points over filling and tuck under wide ends (filling will be visible). Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.

Makes 6-8 servings.

My suggestions:
  • I would use a can of Campbell's Healthy Request Cream of Chicken Soup, instead of just the regular kind. The Healthy Request soup has 45% less sodium than the regular product, which is just what this recipe needs- less salt.
  • Use the entire can of soup- for a couple of reasons: 1) it makes the dish creamier and less dry and 2) what else are you going to do with the leftover soup? It's better to use it in the recipe than just let it go to waste. :-)
Overall, this dish was so so SO tasty (minus the salt)! Two thumbs WAY up!

Corn, Cheddar and Tomato Quiche

(recipe from Betty Crocker)
1 cup soy milk
4 eggs or 1 cup fat-free egg product
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 cup Cascadian Farm frozen organic sweet corn, thawed
3/4 cup shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese (3 oz.)
1 medium tomato, seeded, chopped (3/4 cup)

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 9-inch glass pie plate with cooking spray.

2. In medium bowl, stir all ingredients except corn, cheese and tomato until blended. Stir in corn, cheese and tomato; pour into pie plate.

3. Bake 30-35 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting.

Makes 6 servings.

My suggestions:
  • Instead of using frozen corn, I would try using canned corn instead. I think the juices/extra water or whatever from the frozen corn made the quiche a bit more liquidy than I had anticipated. And yes, I did thaw the corn and it still turned out that way. Maybe if I had actually used the organic version instead of the normal frozen sweet corn... :-)
  • I used regular milk instead of soy milk like the recipe called for. Next time, I would try the soy milk. I don't think the regular milk was thick enough for this recipe.
  • Fresh cilantro is cheap, but you have to buy a lot more than you need. So if you really want to make this me, I've got a whole bunch.
  • Next time I make this (because I did get that request from the husband), I want to try using sharp cheddar cheese. I think it will give the dish a little extra flavor.
Overall, we REALLY enjoyed this dish. So so simple to make and very healthy! I will definitely be making this again.

Chicken Sausage with Peppers & Basil

(recipe from Rival Crock-Pot)

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/2 yellow onion, minced (1/3 cup)
1 pound sweet or hot Italian chicken sausage
1 can (28 oz) whole tomatoes, drained and seeded
1/2 red pepper, julienned into 1/2-inch strips
1/2 yellow pepper, julienned into 1/2-inch strips
1/2 orange pepper, julienned into 1/2-inch strips
3/4 cup fresh basil
Crushed red pepper flakes to taste
Salt and black pepper to taste

1. Heat olive oil in skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and onion and cook until translucent.

2. Remove sausage from casing and cut into 1-inch chunks. Add to pan and cook for 3-4 minutes, until just beginning to brown. Transfer to crock-pot slow cooker with slotted spoon, skimming off some fat.

3. Add tomatoes, peppers, basil, red pepper flakes, salt and black pepper to crock-pot slow cooker and stir to blend. Cook on HIGH for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, until peppers have softened. Adjust seasonings to taste.

Makes 4 servings.

My suggestions: Frankly, I have several. Where to start...
  • a) I very much dislike cooking with whole tomatoes. Use diced tomatoes. Whole tomatoes make the entire dish look sloppy.
  • b) Chicken sausage is weird. I would have substituted Italian Sausage instead to give the dish more flavor. Chicken sausage is bland and tastes EXACTLY like chicken, but with a sausage texture. Definitely not worth the $3.99/lb, which, by the way, I could only find at Sunflower Market.
  • c) Any bell pepper that is not green, is a fairly expensive vegetable. You can find red peppers on sale for a good price, but yellow and orange peppers are a bit pricey. I bought a 3 pack of the peppers (orange, yellow, red) at Macey's for $5.00 which is usually cheaper than buying them individually.
  • d) Fresh basil is hard to find! I was only able to locate it at Sunflower Market in PLANT form- you know, just in case I want to grow my own. I would have tried using dry basil leaves instead. Cheaper and probably do the same trick.
  • e) Slow cooker time was WAY least for me. I cooked it for 2 1/2 hours and the peppers and tomatoes looked wilted. Make sure to adjust your cooking time to the size of your crock-pot, which is something I should have done.
And if you're still thinking about making this dish after all that, here is my last suggestion...
  • f) Don't waste your time. Really.

Polynesian Pork Chops

(recipe from Campbell's 1-2-3 cookbook)

4 boneless pork chops, 3/4 inch thick
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon vegetable oil (I used olive oil to make it more healthy)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 can Campbell's Golden Mushroom Soup
1 can (8 oz.) pineapple chunks
1/4 cup water
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon honey
2 cups instant white rice
Slice green onions (which I omitted because I don't like them)

1. Season chops with garlic. Heat oil in skillet. Add chops and cook until browned. Add onion.
2. Add soup, pineapple with juice, water, soy sauce and honey. Heat to a boil. Cook over low heat 10 minutes or until done.
3. Service with rice and garnish with green onions.

Makes 4 servings.

My suggestions:
  • If I were to make this again, I would add a little brown sugar to make it slightly sweeter, because it was a bit more salty than I had originally thought. I did like that the pork chops were mostly cooked in the sauce making them very tender.
An easy and fast recipe for dinner!