Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Chicken Ratatouille

A recipe for ya'll.

This is a great, easy, healthy and delicious meal, you can't beat that!

I've got several other recipes I'm backed up on sharing with ya'll because I have this problem. I don't measure things. Which doesn't bother me a bit, but when it comes to recipe sharing it makes things...complicated. So I'm going to give you the general outline and you will just have to experiment and tap into your inner cooking creativity.

Chicken Ratatouille

1 eggplant
2 zucchini (the zucchini looked the best, but sometimes I'll do a yellow squash and a zucchini)
1 orange pepper (because I like the color, I would do any color but green I don't like the taste)
1 large yellow or sweet onion
7-10 Campari tomatoes (these are the small on the vine tomatoes in plastic containers, I think they have great flavor year round but you could probably do 2-4 regular tomatoes instead just make sure they are ripe)
a couple of cloves of garlic
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
two chicken breasts
herbs de provence or italian seasoning
Preheat oven to 375
I chop the veggies up all in a uniform size and dump them into a 13x9 pan. Peel the garlic and if I'm not breaking up an argument or tripping on toys at this point I might even give it a rough chop, but the whole clove is fine if you're in a hurry. Throw that in with the veggies. Pour a couple of tablespoons of olive oil over the vegetables (enough to coat all of them) and liberally season with salt and pepper. I probably use about just under a tablespoon of salt and a teaspoon of fresh cracked pepper. Toss it all together and make sure all the veggies are covered in oil.
Liberally season each side of the chicken breasts with salt and pepper and make little wells for them in the veggies and place them on top. Sprinkle a little olive oil on the chicken and then sprinkle either herbs de provence (what I used) or italian seasoning on top. Stick it in the oven. Put you timer on for 15-20 minutes. When it goes off stir the veggies around slightly and sprinkle some of the juice or the veggies themselves on top of the chicken for moistness. Then let cook another 15-30 minutes, depending on how thick you chicken breasts are and how done you like your veggies. The chicken should be an internal temp of 160 in it's thickest part, don't overcook it!

Take it out of the oven and throw some foil over it while you get the rest of dinner on the table (about 10 minutes should be sufficient). This will let the chicken absorb some of the juices from the veggies and make it extra moist.

I served this over quinoa (pronounced keen-wa) but it would be great over brown rice or cous cous, or even mashed potatoes (but healthy points go down for that). Quinoa is one of the healthiest whole grains that there is and I think it tastes really good as well. Plus you can make it in about 20 minutes. Brown rice can't touch that! I follow the directions on the box (that I get from Trader Joe's) but use chicken stock instead of water.

The veggies and quinoa both heat up nicely for a healthy lunch the next day. If you want something different you can throw the veggies on a roll spread on some herbed goat cheese or boursin cheese top with some sun dried tomato paste and caramelized onions and you have one heck of a sandwich on your hands. I love multi-purpose meals.

Hopefully this will give you and additional recipe to add to your repertoire. And who doesn't need an extra easy healthy meal on hand?

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Cupcake Throwdown

I cannot decide.

I like to play around with different ways of decorating the cupcakes and usually in the process I find one more aesthetically appealing.

However with my cookies and cream cupcakes I am at an impass. I can't decide which one I think looks better.

The lightly sprinkled cookie crumbs

Or the completely covered ones

What do you think?

Monday, January 18, 2010

Like Grandma's...a new flavor

I was supposed to have a couple of blog posts last week, what happened?

I'll blame it on being distracted with painting projects we started this week and spending a good amount of time blogging on my other sites about what is going on Haiti.

I have a new flavor to introduce.

Actually it's not really that new, it's more of a classic, just new to my list.

Chris's grandma makes this coconut cream cake which is delightful, every time we see her she makes one for us. For whatever reason I had a really bad hankering for it. The problem being her recipe calls for a boxed cake mix (which I don't use) and cool whip (which I avoid because of the hydrogenated oils). So I was off to creating, and if I'm going to perfect something, might as well add it to the list so everyone else can enjoy, right?

So here it is, the new (read: classic) coconut cream cupcake:

Available for order immediately. It's a lightly coconut and vanilla flavored cake topped and filled with a coconut cream and rolled in shredded coconut.

Chris told me it tasted just like his grandma's. Score!

If you are interested in a full list of available flavors please contact me.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Project Craftiness

Cupcakes coming soon, in fact I even have a new flavor to introduce to you. I'm also backed up on recipes I want to share, so hopefully lots of blogging will occur within the next couple of weeks!

Monday's, my oldest son (Josh) has off of preschool, and this being his last year before kindergarten I've been trying to be diligent with that time. This was our first Monday together in awhile without things being off from the holidays, so it was fun to get to enjoy that time together. We met some friends at Chick-Fil-A where he got to play an extra long time and then we came home to work on a project.
My friend Kristin recently introduced me to this blog which is my new favorite. She has all kinds of fun crafts as well as photography, plus some great ideas for kids. While looking through some of her great crafts I found this post on a DIY apron that was thrifty and cute. I can use up some aprons so thrifty caught me. It was also simple enough I could make with Josh.

So that was our Monday bonding, aprons and his favorite muffins. The aprons only took me 5 minutes to make. For 2. I will be making these more often! Plus they would make fun gifts to stick in stockings, or a bridal shower gift, or to take to someone with some goodies, a recipe and an apron. We also cranked out the muffins pretty quick since Josh is an old pro (he can even crack eggs!), and the recipe gets made a minimum of once a month in our house.

Here are our results:

Josh's apron

Creaming the butter and sugar

My apron, not so graciously photographed!

Our muffins

Now it would be mean of me to show you our wonderful muffins and not give you the recipe. Being the nice person that I am, here you go:

Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Chip muffins:

  • 2 sticks butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 large or 5 small bananas extra ripe (I throw mine in the freezer until I'm ready and then defrost)
  • dash of salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cups oatmeal, you can use more or less depending on your preference
  • 1/2 to 3/4 bag of chocolate chips, I use ghiradelli dark, for this recipe

Preheat over to 350 F. Cream butter and sugar (by hand or in mixer), add eggs one at a time and mix well. Add bananas and mix until just combined. Add baking soda and salt, stir a few times to incorporate and add flour. Mix well. Add oatmeal, mix well. Add chocolate chips, stir until evenly distributed. Place heaping tablespoons into a greased muffin pan and bake about 19 minutes. Makes about 18.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Tiramisu, Bread Pudding and recipes!

Happy New Year!

Hope ya'll enjoyed your holidays.

I enjoyed a nice vacation with lots of cooking and baking, but no cupcakes!

It was nice to take a cupcake break and rediscover some other desserts I love. For Christmas I made tiramisu and bread pudding with a bourbon currant sauce. And since I have been lacking on the cupcake love I thought I would throw some dessert recipes your way to make up for it!

This was my tiramisu, which is surprisingly easy. It takes maybe 20 minutes of hands on prep and then you let it sit in the refrigerator overnight. Easy and elegant! My favorite tiramisu recipe is here but I half it. Half of it was plenty for 6 people! I would buy a few more ladyfingers than what it calls for though, I like extra and needed it to cover both layers. You can't always find them at regular grocery stores but Whole Foods has them in the cookie aisle. Also, I was out of Marsala wine so I used Madeira (as they are comparable, and I may have another recipe coming up soon that will help you use the rest of your Madeira wine!), I also just used Kahlua as the coffee liqueur.

For Thanksgiving we were in STL and took advantage of grandparents and their free babysitting (a luxury for us!) and went out to a nice meal at Harvest in Clayton. I'm normally not a big bread pudding person (unless it's a chocolate brioche bread pudding!) but theirs sounded intriguing and came highly recommended so we gave it a shot. It did not disappoint. When I started asking my husband if he had any opinions on Christmas dessert he reflected back to the bread pudding telling me if I could make that it would "awesome".

I knew it was a fairly standard bread pudding, but the sauce made it extraordinary. The restaurant strangely did not have their dessert menu online so I called them and asked what the sauce was. Bourbon currant. Just for kicks I thought I would google it to see what kind of recipes were pulled up. To my amazement this appeared. The exact recipe the restaurant had given a magazine!

My modifications were to again, half it (I did 2 eggs and 2 yolks for the custard), and I baked it longer since my dish was a bit deeper. Don't be afraid of it getting brown on top as the crispness adds to the texture. On the sauce, I would completely ignore their recommendation to take the sauce off of the heat before adding the bourbon and currants. Their is a decent amount of alcohol which needed to cook out or else you were left with nothing more than the taste of bourbon from the sauce. Also since the currants were dried they could use a good soak to plump them up. I also found the currants at Whole Foods, but I think fried blueberries or golden raisins would be a suitable substitute.

Sorry I don't have a picture of the bread pudding, it went too fast!

So that's part of what my holidays looked like, hope ya'll enjoyed yours and are having a great start to the New Year!