Kitchen Concoctions: April 2011

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Cooking Light

I love this magazine. It is hard to believe that all of the gorgeous, mouthwatering food in this magazine is 'light' and healthy! No only do the recipes surprise me each issue, a figure friendly pancake or low fat peanut butter banana bread, but this magazine has some really great tips to eat healthy and overall useful cooking tips.

Here is a review of Cooking Light Magazine:

Pictures: Yes!
Every single recipe in this magazine has a color photo to accompany it!

Prep Time, Cooking Time, and Number of Servings listed: Yes
All recipes have 'Hands on Time' and 'Total Time' as well as servings listed. While the exact cooking and prep time is not listed you can figure it out by the information provided.

Clear, easy to follow directions and ease of preparation: medium
All of the recipes have clear directions and most are fairly easy to prepare but some of the recipes have rather intense cooking/steps required.
Variety of recipes: yes
The variety of recipes in Cooking Light is one of the many things I love about this magazine. When you are trying to eat healthy, lighter, or heaven forbid "diet," the last thing you want to feel is deprived. Cooking Light has recipes to cover everything (breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, etc., etc.) that you may need with a lighter touch!

Easily available ingredients and budget friendly: medium
Most of the recipes use easy to find, budget friendly ingredients. However, as with the stigma of healthy eating, a lot of the recipes have fish and an abundance of fresh fruits and veggies as well as some pricier ingredient substitutes (egg substitute, whole wheat flour, etc.). But since there is a variety of recipes, and since most recipes in each edition center around seasonal produce, I am sure you can find recipes in your budget.

Special feature:
Nutritional information! Having this information (which is hard to find on a lot of recipes) is extremely helpful if you are trying to watch what you eat. I also love that they share healthy cooking tips and feature different products that the editors have taste tested to find the tastiest healthy food option.

Cost: $3.99 per issue or $18.00 for one year subscription (12 issues)

So in case you missed them, here are the recipes I featured.

Peanut Butter Banana Bread: Nothing will ever top my Mom's classic banana bread recipe but this peanut butter version is a yummy way to change things up!

Oatmeal Pancakes: These are a heartier, denser pancake, but the fiber from the oatmeal is sure to hold you over til lunch.

Root Beer Can Chicken: The kids will surely gobble this dinner up if they know it's cooked in their favorite drink!

Black Bean Hummus: This is one of my favorite snacks to date! I love all the flavors going on in this hummus, that it has become a regular in my house! Don't forget to serve it up with some homemade tortilla crisps.

Couscous Salad with Chickpeas: This salad is so light and refreshing, perfect for a side dish or vegetarian main dish.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Cursin' in the Kitchen

Today was one of those days. First thing this morning I knocked a brand new bottle of olive oil on the floor. Olive oil and broken glass was everywhere. In my hair, on the walls, and had me yelling out profanity. Have you ever had to clean up olive oil? Not fun... Not fun AT ALL! (FYI: If you cause a mess with olive oil like I did, pour corn meal all over it. Let it sit for a few minutes and then sweep or wipe it up.)

I cleaned it up and got over it. Then I was getting ready to cook dinner when I realized I didn't have a few ingredients and so I ran to the store. I came back home and started cooking. I then went to get stuff from the fridge to only realize it had gone bad. Curse words again and this time throwing kitchen utensils.

I pulled myself together and went with plan B. Then I realized that the salad I was going to make called for olive oil in the dressing, which was lying in clumps at the bottom of the trash can.

With a day like that dinner plans were cancelled and I ate these muffins and ice cream for dinner. I mean fruit... check... protein... check.... dairy..... check, check. Peanut Butter Banana Bread and ice cream the most balanced meal ever (not to mention soul sothing and temper mellowing).

I love the flavor combonation of banana and peanut butter. In fact a bannna and a spoonful of peanut butter is a standard go to breakfast or snack for me. So this was a perfect twist on that usual staple!

Recipe Notes: The orginal recipe called for the peanuts to be cooked in the batter, but I am not a girl who likes my bread that way so I added them to the top. This made the bread look pretty and added crunch to a few bites but not ALL bites. Also for the best banana bread use super black bananas (a tip my Momma taught me). These type of bananas add the most mositure and flavor.

One Year Ago: Chicken Enchilada Pasta
Two Years Ago: Oatmeal Cookie Pancakes

Peanut Butter Banana Bread
Printable Version
Prep Time: 15 minutes Cook Time: Muffins: 20 minutes; Mini loaf: 40 minutes Makes 1 large loaf, 4 mini loafs, and 12 muffins

1 1/2 cups mashed ripe banana
1/3 cup vanilla fat-free yogurt
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 large eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup ground oatmeal
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
Cooking spray

1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon 1% low-fat milk
1 tablespoon creamy peanut butter
dry roasted peanuts, for topping

Preheat oven to 350°.

To prepare bread, combine first 6 ingredients (through eggs) in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed. Add granulated and brown sugars; beat until blended.

Combine flour and next 7 ingredients (through allspice) in a small bowl. Add flour mixture to banana mixture; beat just until blended. Pour batter into 4 (5 3/4 x 3 x 2) inch mini loaf pans coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 40 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from oven; cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack. Remove bread from pan; cool.

To prepare glaze, combine powdered sugar, milk, and 1 tablespoon peanut butter in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Drizzle glaze over bread and top with peanuts.

adapted from Cooking Light October 2010

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Breakfast It's What's For Dinner Tonight

I love breakfast. I mean when else can you eat sweets for your main course?? The only thing is, I rarely eat breakfast in the morning. I know. I know. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It jump starts you metabolism. Yeah. Yeah. I agree. And I try to get a little something for breakfast most days whether a banana or yogurt or bowl of cereal, but rarely do I make a full hot and hardy breakfast in the morning. Usually when I make traditional hardy breakfast foods (pancakes, omelets, bacon and eggs, etc) is for dinner or a late lunch. But really who doesn't love breakfast for dinner... it's quick, easy, and filling.
These pancakes prove that you can have a hot breakfast, well... for breakfast. These come together before you have time to even say breakfast. If you have never had oatmeal in your pancakes, it does change the texture of the pancake, more dense and slightly chewy. But with syrup, strawberries and whip cream, I gobbled these up.

Oatmeal Pancakes
Printable Version
Prep Time: 5 minutes Cook Time: 10 minutes Serves 2-3

1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup quick-cooking oats
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup nonfat buttermilk
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 large egg
Cooking spray

Combine the first 7 ingredients in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk.

Combine vanilla, buttermilk, butter, and egg in a small bowl. Add to flour mixture, stirring just until moist.

Heat a nonstick griddle over medium heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Spoon about 1/4 cup batter per pancake onto griddle. Turn pancakes over when tops are covered with bubbles; cook until bottoms are lightly browned.

adapted from Cooking Light September 2010

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Vamping Up A Classic

When I am in the kitchen and and cooking or baking I am always looking for ways to build or enhance the flavors of my final dish. In baking I do this by using milk, juice or coffee in place of water called for in cake mixes, to make frosting and glazes, or to soak fresh fruit (apples covered in a reduced orange juice mixture is a refreshing and light breakfast).

In cooking I do the same thing. When I cook meat in my crockpot I always use chicken broth, tomato juice, or beer (such as Fat Tire) and even root beer to ensure that my meat comes out tender and flavorful. I also like to use these same flavorful ingredients to create sauces and gravies (this technique is what makes this Shepherd's Pie incredible).

Today I bring you a vamped up southern classic. Biscuits and gravy. But not just any biscuits and gravy; Beer Biscuits with a Beer and Sausage Gravy. Now that's adding a boost of flavor!

Recipe Notes: You can substitute beef broth or milk in place of the beer in both recipes below.

Beer Biscuits
by Heather of Kitchen Concoctions:
Printable Version
Prep Time: 15 minutes Cook Time: 8-10 minutes Makes 10 biscuits

2 1/2 cups baking mix (such as Bisquick)
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1 cup of beer (such as Fat Tire Ale)
1 tablespoons butter, melted
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with non-stick spray.

Mix all ingredients together, and stir until dough forms. Dump dough onto floured surface. Fold over and kneed approximately five times. Roll dough to 1/2 an inch thick. Using two-inch circular biscuit cutter cut biscuits.

Place biscuits on prepared baking sheet. Bake at 450 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes until golden brown.

Beer and Sausage Gravy
by Heather of Kitchen Concoctions:
Printable Version
Prep Time: 5 minutes Cook Time: 15 minutes

1/2 pound sausage
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 small onion, diced
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup beer (such as Fat Tire Ale)
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat 1/2 tablespoon of vegetable oil to a large saucepan over medium high heat. Add the sausage and break it up into small pieces. And brown.

Turn the heat down to medium. Remove the sausage and drain. Add remaing vegetable oil to pan. Add onions and cook until they begin to caramelize slightly, approximately 8 minutes.

Add butter to pan and let melt. Whisk in the flour and cook while whisking until the roux forms and turns a golden brown. Keep stirring and slowly pour in the beer and then milk, making sure to whisk out all the lumps. Once all the milk and beer is mixed in, return the sausage back to the skillet. Season with salt and plenty of freshly ground pepper. Simmer the gravy until thickened and serve over beer biscuits.

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by FoodBuzz and New Belgium Brewing Company. Comments, opinions and recipes all my own.

"I rewrite the recipe book"

I love this saying! Eric asks me all the time why I have such a large hording problem assortment of cookbooks and why I spend so many hours reading food blogs and recipe websites. I always look at him like "Are you kidding me? I obviously love to cook (and eat), and have to feed you, so I spend countless hours reading and studying food. I just enjoy it!" He then looks at me hurt and says "well I just don't know why you need all that anyways, you NEVER follow a recipe!" Hahaha! He is completely right. I NEVER follow a recipe. I always change one thing or another. Whither changing the ingredients to suit my tastes or what I have on hand or changing a cooking technique to make things simpler I never follow a recipe to a T (I just look to it as inspiration).

This recipe is a perfect example of this! Have you ever heard or seen beer can chicken? Typically you take a whole roaster chicken, rub it with seasoning and the stick a can of beer inside of it and slow roast it or grill it. When I saw this recipe I was quite intrigued because instead of beer it uses Root BEER! I wanted to try this recipe but didn't have a whole roaster chicken on hand. So I used what I had, chicken breasts, and decided to 'slow-cook' the chicken in the Root Beer. It worked just fine and Eric couldn't stop saying enough great things about it! (How's THAT for not following a recipe, Babe! Me: Batting my lovely eye lashes).

Two Years Ago: Polish Smash and Cookbook Review: Cooking 'Round the Clock

Root Beer Can Chicken
Prep Time: 5 minutes Cook Time: 4-5 hours on high or 6-8 hours on low Serves 4

1 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1 cup chicken broth
3 cups root beer, divided
2 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Combine first 9 ingredients in a small bowl. Reserve 1 teaspoon of this spice rub and set aside.

Use remaing spice mixture and rub all over chicken breasts.

Place chicken in a large slow cooker. Pour 1 cup of root beer and 1 cup of chicken broth over chicken. Cover and let cook for 4-5 hours on high or 6-8 hour on low

When chicken is almost done cooking, bring  remaing 2 cups of root beer to a boil. Cook until reduced to 1/3 cup (about 20 minutes). Remove from heat. Add reserved spice mixture, butter, and vinegar, stirring until smooth.

Serve chicken with reduced root beer sauce.

adapted from Cooking Light June 2010

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Healthy Snacking

I am totally a person that has to eat every few hours. If I don't eat frequently then watch out! LOL, Eric can all to well testify to my mood swings all based on an empty stomach! Snacks are critical for me getting by each day sanely but eating junk just makes me (and probably you too) groggy and more tired. But all to commonly 'junk' is so convent epically when I am on the run.

Hummus is a snack that Eric and I both enjoy with veggies, crackers and on pita bread. In fact I can pretty much say that Eric has perfected his Roasted Red Bell Pepper Hummus (our my favorite)!

So naturally when I saw this version of hummus made with black beans I was excited. I always, always have black beans in my pantry because we throw them in our tacos and in our salads. This was so good and a nice change to our usual hummus snack.

Smooth, and slightly spicy I paired this was some tortilla crisps that I have shared on this blog before. This was the perfect combo and the perfect (keep me from becoming the hungry monster) snack!

One Year Ago: Mexican Chicken Salad with Tortilla Crisps

Black Bean Hummus
Printable Version
Prep Time: 10 minutes Serves 8
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons tahini (roasted sesame seed paste)
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 (15-ounce) can no-salt-added black beans, rinsed and drained
1 garlic clove, peeled
1/2 small jalapeño pepper, seeded

Place all ingredients in a food processor; process until smooth. Spoon into a bowl; sprinkle with extra cilantro.

adapted from Cooking Light March 2011

Tortilla Crisps
by Heather of Kitchen Concoctions:
Printable Version
Prep time: 5 minutes Cook time: 10 minutes Makes 48 crisps

6 flour tortillas
3 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon taco seasoning
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cut each tortilla into 8 triangles. Lay tortillas in a single layer on a baking sheet.

Melt butter and add spices to butter. Brush each tortilla triangle with butter mixtuer. Flip each tortilla triangle over and repeat.

Bake for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Tastes Like Summer

I love when food tastes like the seasons. I know. This sounds weird.

Really what I am referring to is not foods that are typically found in the different seasons (like pumpkin in fall, or soup in winter, or asparagus in spring (although all those foods remind me of those times of year). I am talking about true flavors that actually taste like the different seasons.

Take apple cider and gingerbread. If I could eat Christmas this is what it would taste like. Spicy and magical.

And this couscous salad recipe tastes like summer. If I could eat a warm summers night this salad, with its fresh lemon juice, sweet juicy cherry tomatoes, and tangy green onions would be it. Summer in your mouth. Now that’s a food description!
(Don’t judge laugh at me to hard.)

One Year Ago: Mexican Chicken Salad with Tortilla Crisps
Two Years Ago: Gooey Cheese and Chicken Enchiladas

Couscous Salad with Chickpeas
Printable Version
Prep Time: 8 minutes Cook Time: 5 minutes Serves 4

1 cup uncooked couscous
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, divided
1 cup boiling water
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
1/8 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
15 cherry tomatoes, chopped
3/4 cup (3 ounces) crumbled feta cheese

Place couscous, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a bowl. Stir in boiling water; cover and let stand 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

Combine oil, juice, garlic, and sugar.

Add oil mixture, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and next 4 ingredients (through tomato). Sprinkle with cheese.

adapted from Cooking Light July 2010

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Aspire to Eat Asparagus

With spring here I have been drooling over all the fresh fruits and veggies at the grocery store. And asparagus is one of those vegetables that I can't get enough of right now! Here is an article I wrote for meal planning/recipe site Food on the Table, all about this fabulous green and a fast and fresh asparagus side dish. (I'm thinking a perfect side for Easter!!!)

Ahh, with warmer days fast approaching the grocery store produce department will start filling up again with fresh, seasonal, spring time vegetables. One of these glorious spring favorites is asparagus!

The name, asparagus means "sprout" or "shoot," because it literally grows from the shoot of the perennial plant, which is planted in deep sandy soils. Asparagus is grown and harvested in the United States from January to May. During these months you can expect to find asparagus at its freshest and at reasonable prices at grocery stores and farmer’s markets.

This green vegetable provides an enormous amount of nutritional value. It is high in Folic Acid and is a good source of potassium, fiber, ruitin, thiamin, and Vitamins A, B6 and C. Asparagus is also very low in calories, with only about 30 calories per 8 stalks.

To keep asparagus fresh, it should be stored in the refrigerator. Asparagus should be wrapped in a moist paper towel or placed upright in a tall cup with approximately two inches of cold water.  Asparagus is best if used within 2 or 3 days of purchase. If unable to use asparagus within this time frame, it may be frozen. To freeze asparagus, thoroughly wash spears and blanch in boiling water for 2 to 3 minutes. Immediately cool the blanched asparagus in ice cold water; drain well, place in freezer safe packaging, and freeze for up to eight months.

Asparagus can be grilled, steamed, boiled, or sautéed. It is a very tasty vegetable eaten on its own or it can be added to stir-fry, pasta dishes, and even pureed for soup.

Are you ready to eat this healthy, seasonal green veggie? Well, try this recipe for steamed asparagus with tangy garlic vinaigrette!

Asparagus with Garlic Vinaigrette
by Heather of Kitchen Concoctions:
Printable Version
Prep Time: 5 minutes Cook Time: 5 minutes Serves: 4

2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon stone ground mustard
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 pound asparagus, tough ends trimmed off

In a large bowl, whisk together garlic, mustard, olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper.

Steam asparagus for 3 - 5 minutes until cooked and tender. Remove asparagus from heat and run under cold water to stop the cooking.

Place cooked asparagus in the bowl with the prepared vinaigrette. Toss asparagus with vinaigrette to evenly coat. Transfer asparagus to a serving dish and serve. Can be served warm or chilled.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A Week of "Eggcellent" Recipes

I absolutely love these Week of... series. I have fun coming up with a handful of recipes that fit a theme and sharing them with you! I hope you all enjoy them as much as I do! This week I had fun with eggs in preparation for Easter. Well all know how annoying those over abundance of hard boiled eggs are... so I hope some of these "eggcellent" help make Easter a tasty one for you!

Deviled eggs are my favorite way to eat leftover hard boiled eggs. Try this recipe for classic deviled eggs or a tasty variation.

I am a total kid when it comes to the holidays and so egg dying brings me much happiness!! Try this cool and inventive way to make 'tie' dyed eggs!

With summer right around the corner I have been craving salads like crazy. This Southwestern Cobb Salad is an easy and flavorful way to use up any hard boiled eggs you might have lying around.

For many years I was a egg salad sandwich hater. This sandwich changed all that. Period.

And while these bird nest cookies have no eggs in them at all (hurray for no bake), they sure are quite adorable and yummy too!

What are your favorite ways to serve or decorate all those hard boiled eggs?

Monday, April 18, 2011

Birds 'n Worms

I know... not the most appetizing title of a blog post on a food blog. Who really wants to talk birds and especially icky worms?!? But the last recipe I have to share for my week of "Egg"cellent recipes actually doesn't have any real eggs in it at all! Or real birds or worms for that matter (in case you were concerned)!

Today I bring you these Ah-dorabe Bird Nest Cookies! These cookies are so cute and are perfect for Spring/Easter.

I actually first had 'cookies' like this when I was in the second grade. And then they weren't bird nests (here comes in the part about those icky worms). You see I did a little book report then on a book called How to Eat Fried Worms. Ever heard of it? Well the book is about some young school age boys and their dares/pranks/bulling attempts on each other. And the ultimate dare... eating fried worms. So part of that book report project we made these 'cookes' (minus the 'eggs' of course). We shaped our 'worm cookies' a little smaller and my entire second grade class happily ate some tasty fried worms! Wink. Wink.

So if you have a child in the second or third grade, especially a little boy (or a tom-girl like I was) they will love this book and would think you are the coolest Mom (or Dad, Aunt, older sister....) EV-A if you let them make and eat 'fried worms' (and of course read the book and watch the movie).

Or stick with them as birds nests. They are totally cuter than worms!

There are several versions of this no-bake cookie floating around. However, this is my version that I love and think tastes perfect (and looks the most authentic as bird nests or worms).

One Year Ago: Monkey Bread

Bird Nest Cookies
by Heather of Kitchen Concoctions:
Printable Version
Prep Time: 20 minutes Cool Time: 15 minutes Makes 10-12 cookies

1/4 cup peanut butter
2/3 cup peanut butter chips
2/3 cup butterscotch chips
4 cups chow mein noodles
Whoppers malted eggs, peanut M&M's (Easter colors), jelly beans

Line a baking sheet with waxed paper.

Place peanut butter, peanut butter chips, and butterscotch chips in a large bowl. Microwave at 50% power for 30 seconds. Remove from microwave and stir. Repeat process until all chips are melted and mixed together. Once all chips are are melted remove 1 tablespoon of the melted chip mixture and set aside. In remaining melted chip mixture stir in chow mein noodles. Stir until well coated.

Using 1/3 cup measuring cup, scoop noodle mixture and place on prepared baking sheet. Shape into the nest shape. Dip malted eggs/M&M's/jelly beans in reserved melted peanut butter mixture. Adhere to 'nests'.

Let cookies sit and firm up for twenty minutes.

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Pee-Wee Herman Sandwich

Did you know Pee-Wee Herman's favorite sandwich is an egg salad sandwich? Yup he proclaims it in one of the Pee-Wee Herman movies (I think Pee-Wee Herman's Big Top Adventure) when he goes on a picnic date with his girlfriend. I have always despised Pee-Wee Herman. And because of this extreme dislike of Pee-Wee Herman (and his TV show and movies) I could not stand egg salad sandwiches. Yes even though I have NEVER had one! If Pee-Wee liked it, then I could NEVER like it. So in my whole twenty something years I avoided egg salad sandwiches at all costs. When I found out a local sandwich shop was known for their egg salad sandwiches I knew I could no longer eat there. Every time I saw a recipe for egg salad sandwiches I quickly turned the page.

 I know... extreme. I mean I love chicken salad, and tuna salad, and deviled eggs... so why not egg salad. So I had a little chat with myself and told myself that I needed to grow up and try egg salad sandwiches. And you know what? I loved it! I took the flavors of my classic deviled eggs added a few more yummy things and ta-da had a yummy and quick sandwich suitable for breakfast, lunch or dinner!

So despite my dislike for Pee-Wee Herman and in honor of Easter I bring you my new favorite sandwich.

Egg Salad Sandwiches (NOT for Pee-Wee Herman!)
by Heather of Kitchen Concoctions:
Printable Version
Prep Time: 10 minutes Serves 4-5

6 hard boiled eggs, chopped
3 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
3 green onions, diced (both green and white parts)
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons stone ground mustard
2 tablespoons sour cream
salt and pepper, to taste
lettuce leaves (for serving)
bread (for serving)

Combine all ingredients and stir well. Serve on bread with lettuce.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Egg Goes Southwestern

When I was deciding on recipes to feature for this week to celebrate Easter and eggs I knew I wanted something that used hard boiled eggs in the 'non-traditional' since (you know not as in deviled eggs and egg salad sandwiches). Not that there is anything wrong with these foods (I love them dearly) but I wanted something slightly different.

That's where the wheels in my head started turning and I couldn't stop thinking about a nice fresh cobb salad! I love the flavors of Southwestern/Tex-mex food and wanted to come up with a cobb salad to reflect this. So here it is the final salad in all it's Southwestern glory. Crisp lettuce, juicy chicken, sweet corn, plump tomatoes and black beans. And of course those darn hard boiled eggs!

Notes: The chicken I serve with this is what I called salsa chicken. It is so incredibly easy to make and is perfect in tacos, burritos, tortilla soup, enchiladas, served with rice or just about any dish Southwestern/Tex-mex/Mexican inspired. Also I have this photographed with all the salad ingredients on a serving platter. This is a great way to serve an entree salad like this at a dinner party. Set up a serving table and allow your guests to make their own salad (think your own salad bar) so that people can add the things they like (and avoid the things they don't).

Southwestern Cobb Salad
by Heather of Kitchen Concoctions:
Prep Time: 15 minutes Cook Time: on high 4-5 hours on low 6-8 hours Serves 8

1 cup ranch dressing
1/2 cup tomatillo salsa (salsa verde)

4 large skinless, boneless chicken breast
1 (16 ounce) jar salsa
10 cups torn romaine lettuce
4 roma tomatoes, diced
2 small avocados, diced
1/2 cup real bacon bits
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 cups frozen corn, thawed
4 hard boiled eggs, diced
1 cup shredded Mexican blend cheese

To prepare chicken:
Place chicken breasts in crockpot. Add entire jar of salsa. Cook on high for 4-5 hours or on low 6-8 hours. When chicken is done cooking, shred into bite size pieces.

To prepare dressing:
Whisk together ranch dressing and tomatillo salsa.

To assemble salad:
Combine all ingredients and toss with desired amount of dressing. Top with cheese.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

"Tie" Dyed Eggs

I am a total kid when it comes to a lot of things. I get extremely excited about making our traditional gingerbread house and decorating our Christmas tree each year. And going pumpkin ‘hunting’ and the scared ritual of pumpkin carving. And dying Easter eggs is no exception either!

That’s why I actually got giddy when I saw this how-to for “Tie” Dyed eggs over on the blog Our Best Bites. I thought these dyed eggs were sooo cool! All you need is a few old 100% silk ties and an old white pillow case (I got 5 ties and a pillow case at my local thrift store for less than 5 bucks!)

I followed the directions and went to town! I thought these turned out so neat and I was so happy it worked (I’ll admit I was a little skeptical about the whole process)! So if you are looking for a new and impressive way to dye eggs this Easter make “Tie” Dyed Eggs. Kids young and old alike will have fun and be wowed!

(All my cheap thrift store ties!)

First remove seaming from ties and any lining on the inside. You want just the silk. Cut silk into a large piece to wrap around a raw egg.

Next wrap an egg with a piece of silk, making sure the printed side of the material is facing the egg. Try to make the fabric as smooth as possible. The pattern will transfer better if it is right up against the egg. Any part that is folded or wrinkled will leave a tie-dyed pattern. Secure silk fabric with twist-tie.

Place the silk-wrapped egg in a piece of white sheet and secure tightly with another twist-tie.

Repeat with additional silk ties and eggs. Place the eggs in a pot. Fill pot with water to cover eggs completely. Then, add 1/4 cup of white vinegar. Bring water to a boil and simmer for 20-25 minutes. Remove eggs from water with tongs or spoon and let cool on a pile of paper towels or in a colander.

When eggs are cool enough to handle remove the fabric and enjoy your beautiful eggs!

WOW! From this to this (look how clear those flowers came out!):

Or check out these bright colors!

Look I can even be a hand model!

Oh this was so much fun!!!

"Tie" Dyed Easter Eggs

Materials and Tools
-Raw Eggs
-Glass or enamel pot (but pretty much any non-aluminum pot will be fine)
-Silk ties, blouses, or boxers, cut into pieces large enough to cover an egg
-An old white sheet, pillowcase, tablecloth, cut into pieces to cover silk-wrapped eggs
-Twist ties
-¼ cup white vinegar
-Warm water
-Paper towels
-Tongs or spoon

1. Remove seaming from ties and any lining on the inside. You want just the silk. Cut silk into a large piece to wrap around a raw egg.

2. Wrap an egg with a piece of silk, making sure the printed side of the material is facing the egg. Try to make the fabric as smooth as possible. The pattern will transfer better if it is right up against the egg. Any part that is folded or wrinkled will leave a tie-dyed pattern. Secure silk fabric with twist-tie.

3. Place the silk-wrapped egg in a piece of white sheet and secure tightly with another twist-tie.

4. Repeat with additional silk ties and eggs.

5. Place the eggs in a pot. Fill pot with water to cover eggs completely. Then, add 1/4 cup of white vinegar.

6. Bring water to a boil and simmer for 20-25 minutes.

7. Remove eggs from water with tongs or spoon and let cool on a pile of paper towels or in a colander.

8. When eggs are cool enough to handle remove the fabric and enjoy your beautiful eggs!

Note: Due to the fact that the dye in the ties are not food safe and edible (and if you get your ties at the thrift store, no telling where they came from) it is advised that you don’t eat these eggs. Just look at them and enjoy their coolness and beauty.

adapted from Our Best Bites

Monday, April 11, 2011

Ecstatic About Eggs

Since Easter is just a few weeks away I thought it would fun (and useful) to bring back the Week of… series and feature eggs. More specifically hard boiled egg recipes since I am sure a lot of you will have an abundance of these eggs sitting in your fridge from Easter egg dyeing. Today I am sharing an article about the health benefits and tradition of dying eggs that I wrote for meal planning/recipe site Food on the Table. And today’s egg recipe? Well probably my absolute favorite way to enjoy hard boiled eggs, as a deviled egg!

Eggs aren’t just for breakfast any more. They are the most commonly used item in cooking and baking, and a highly valued commodity world wide. With advanced technology, egg farmers have been able to keep the price of eggs low, making them an extremely affordable protein.

Despite the bad rap eggs have been given over the years, they are an extremely healthy food. According to new research, eggs are lower in cholesterol than previously thought and contain essential vitamins and nutrients such as: Vitamin B12, A, D, and E. Eggs are an excellent source of protein and contain choline, lutein, and zeaxanthin, which help in memory function and reduce the risk of cataracts.

Eggs have long been a part of springtime traditions and celebrations. Dying or painting eggs is traditionally known as ’Pysanka’ and is to represent the bright colors of spring. In China parents give family members a red dyed egg to announce the birth of a child. During the Renaissance era, young men tossed empty eggshells filled with perfume at young women they wished to court. This custom spread to Austria, Spain, and later to Mexico, where empty eggshells were filled with confetti and used to make wishes.

Decorating eggs this Easter season can be a fun project for all! However, if you would like to later eat your decorated eggs, follow these simple safety tips:
• Wash hands during all the steps of the cooking and dying process.
• Be sure all decorating materials and dyes are food safe and edible.
• Keep the eggs refrigerated as much as possible, storing them in the refrigerator whenever not using them.

Hard boiled eggs are great made into egg salad sandwiches, added to a chopped green salad, or made into delicious deviled eggs. The Classic Deviled Egg (or a tasty variation) will make a great appetizer or side dish this Easter dinner!

One Year Ago: Cookbook Review: The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes From An Accidental Country Girl

Classic Deviled Eggs
by Heather of Kitchen Concoctions:
Prep Time: 5 minutes Cook Time: 20 minutes Serves 10-12

6 large hard boiled eggs, cooled and peeled**
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons stone ground mustard
salt and fresh pepper to taste

Cut eggs in half longways. Remove yolks and put them in a bowl. Add mayonnaise, mustard, salt and pepper. Mash together and stir well. Pipe yolk mixture back into egg whites. Top with paprika.

** To ensure the perfect hard boiled egg follow these directions. Place eggs in a single layer in a large saucepan. Cover the eggs with about an inch of cold water. Turn heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Immediately remove pan from heat and cover. Let stand for 20 minutes. Run eggs under cold water to let eggs cool.

Deviled Egg Variations:

The BLT Deviled Egg:

Start with the classic deviled egg recipe. Add 1 ½ tablespoons minced sun dried tomatoes and 1 tablespoon minced fresh Italian parsley. Stir tomatoes and parsley into mashed yolk/mayonnaise mixture. Mix well and pipe back into egg whites. Top each egg with a sprinkling of real bacon bits.

Ranch Deviled Eggs:

Prepare classic deviled egg recipe. Stir 2 teaspoons dry ranch seasoning mix into mashed yolk/mayonnaise mixture. Mix well and pipe back into egg whites.

Spicy Deviled Eggs:

Prepare classic deviled egg recipe. Add 1 ½ tablespoons minced jalapenos. Stir jalapenos into mashed yolk/mayonnaise mixture. Mix well and pipe back into egg whites. Top each egg with a sprinkling of chili powder.
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