Friday, July 3, 2015

Easy Brownie Mix

Yay it's a very special holiday weekend! As in you can stuff your face while watching fireworks.  Yay for multitasking.  But seriously, you may be invited to about 5 different barbecues and have no clue what to bring.  Here's an easy solution for that.

I am a huge chocolate fanatic.  One of my favorite chocolatey dishes to eat is a really good traditional brownie.  Brownies are super easy to make and are also pretty full proof to bake.  However as easy as it was to stick a brownie mix from the store into a bowl, it's also a bit expensive.  The good ones retail at $3-4 a box unless you get them on sale.  I began looking into how I could make my own and it turns out it's super simple.  I had all of the ingredients on hand and it tasted better than the box kind.  I did add brown sugar instead of all granulated sugar, I felt it gave more flavor to the brownie.  But you can use all granulated sugar if you prefer.

 

Brownies

5 minutes of Prep
20-25 minutes of Bake time
12 Servings

·       1/2 Cup Flour
·       1/3 Cocoa
·       1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar
·       1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
·       1 tsp. Baking Powder
·       1/4 tsp. Salt
·       Non-Stick Pan Spray
·      1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
·      2 Eggs
·       1/2 Cup Vegetable Oil
·       1 Cup Chocolate Chips (optional)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and spray a pie pan or a 9 by 9 pan with non-stick pan spray.




A good tip with these is to use a really good Cocoa.  My favorite is Hershey's but you might have your own fav.



Typically I mix my sugars with my wet ingredients like butter but in this instance I mix the dry ingredients first and then add the oil, vanilla, and eggs.




Once everything is well mixed, you can add the chocolate chips if you like. Then add to your prepared pan and bake for 20-25 minutes.  Don't over bake this.





Serve with whipped cream and fresh fruit.





Friday, June 19, 2015

Mexican Corn

One of my favorite things to do is food truck hopping, but with a new baby, a job, and very very short weekends, I now have no opportunity to indulge myself. Since I missed Mexican Corn with a passion, I thought I'd put together my own version.  

Mexican Corn is super delicious and surprisingly easy to make.  It only takes a few ingredients and can easily be the star of a meal or simply a side dish.  I only like that there's the option of cutting the corn off the cobs and making a corn salad too.  The version I've made here is the "skinny" version. Don't be fooled, there's still lots of calories, but maybe a tiny bit less fat. I also added some paprika for a hint of smokiness.

Mexican Corn

10 minutes of Prep
10 minutes of Grill time
4 Servings

·       4 Corn Cobs
·       1/4 Cup Low Fat Yogurt
·       1/4 Cup Low Far Sour Cream
·       2 tsp. Paprika (divided)
·       1 tsp. Chili Powder
·       4 Tbsp. Olive Oil
·      4 Tbsp. Fresh Cilantro chopped
·      2 Tbsp. Parmesan Cheese
·       2 tsp. Salt (divided)
·       2 tsp. Pepper (divided)


Start your grill.  I used charcoal and let it heat up for about 25-30 minutes.  You're welcome to use propane. 




Shuck your corn but leave as much as the stalk on as you can.  Take a container, lay the corn in it and drizzle the stalks with the olive oil.  Then take a brush, and evenly coat the corn. Sprinkle 1 tsp. salt and 1 tsp. pepper on the corn.



Prepare the topping. Mix up the sour cream, yogurt, 1 tsp. paprika, 1 tsp. chili powder, 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. pepper, and cilantro in a small bowl.  Set aside so it becomes room temperature.



When the grill is prepared, grill the corn for about 10 minutes, constantly turning it so it doesn't brown too much.  Mine took about 2-3 minutes a side.



When corn is browned and ready, pull it from the grill.  Brush the cobs with the sour cream mixture and then sprinkle the Parmesan cheese and remaining paprika on top.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Enchilada Casserole

I'm back!!!! After a wonderful maternity leave with our new baby girl, I've returned to attempt to simultaneously cook, work, blog, and mommy. Wish me luck. 

I'm also learning the benefits of finding recipes that are wonderful to freeze and cook ahead of time. So it's easy to pop out of the fridge, bake for 25-30 minutes, and then serve for dinner.  This recipe is an easy, make ahead meal, which can be served the day after.



A couple of notes about this recipe.  I typically make most of my sauces from scratch, but frankly didn't have time to make and prep the enchilada sauce, so I used canned.  You can also substitute a different kind of ground meat if you so choose. I also split this recipe up and froze one portion for later.

Enchilada Casserole


45 minutes of Prep/Stove time
30 minutes in the oven
12 Servings

·       1 lbs of ground Turkey
·       8-10 Medium Corn Tortillas
·       1 Large White Onion (chopped)
·       2 Cups of Carrots (chopped)
·       1 Cup of Celery (chopped)
·       1 Garlic Clove minced
·       2 Cups Shredded Mexican Cheese
·       1 Can of Black Beans
·       4 Tbsp. Vegetable Oil
·       2 Cloves Garlic (minced)
·       2 tsp. Salt (divided)
·       2 tsp. Pepper (divided)
·       1 Can Enchilada Sauce
·       2 tsp. Cayenne Pepper (divided)
·       Sour Cream (for serving)
·       Lettuce (for serving)
·       Chopped Tomatoes (for serving)
·       Chopped Avocado (for serving

Add 2 Tbsp. Oil to a large oven safe skillet and heat up under medium heat. Add Chopped onion, carrots, and celery. Add in 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. pepper, 1 tsp. cayenne pepper. Saute for 8-10 minutes until onions are translucent. Set aside.



Using the same skillet, add the last of the oil and heat up. Saute the ground meat.  This takes about 10-15 minutes under medium heat. Add salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, and garlic to meat while it's browning. Turn off heat when completed.



Drain can of black beans and add to browned meat.

Now it's time to start building your casserole. Take enchilada sauce and pour a small amount in the bottom of a baking pan.  You can either use a 13 x 9 baking pan, or a 9 x 9 baking pan and 5 x 9 pan.


Place corn tortillas on bottom of pan, cover completely. Break up the tortillas so they evenly cover the area.  Add mixture of meat and beans as first layer, spread out evenly over tortillas.  Sprinkle some of the cheese on top of this layer.

Add more corn tortillas on top of meat and bean layer.  Cover evenly. Drizzle some more of the enchilada sauce on top of tortillas.  Keep most of sauce for top of casserole.

Add veggies as top layer, spread out evenly.  Add more corn tortillas for top.

Pour remaining sauce evenly over the casserole. Then cover the top with the shredded cheese.



Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until the cheese has melted.



Serve with lettuce, tomato, and sour cream. I also made some rice to accompany it.





Friday, February 20, 2015

Chicken and Rice Skillet Casserole

It's that weird cold time of year where most people are stuck trying to put out an easy and healthy dinner on the table in a limited amount of time.  Considering how cold and ugly it is outside, no one really feels like cooking and no one wants to spend a lot of time stuck in the kitchen after work.
This is an easy recipe you can make ahead of time or even the day ahead for your family's dinner time. Chicken and Rice seem to be a perfect combination for any type of casserole.  Then by adding the use of the skillet and some delicious veggies and cheese, you have a crispy and easy dinner for anyone.
This will unfortunately be my last post for awhile.  Next week is my last week until maternity leave.  I'll definitely miss bringing everyone make own take on recipes for the next few months.  I will hopefully be back in June with a whole new slew of recipes and delicious ideas to show everyone. Please feel free to continue to send me your requests for recipes and any feedback you may have to ahoff@timesherald.com.


 

Chicken and Rice Skillet Casserole


40 minutes of Prep/Stove time
35 minutes in the oven
8 Servings

·       1.5 lbs of raw Chicken (I used chicken thighs, you can certainly use white meat)
·       1 Large White Onion (chopped)
·       2 Cups of Broccoli (chopped)
·       3 Cups of Vegetable Broth
·       1 Cup Uncooked Rice
·       1.5 Cups Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese (divided)
·       1 Cup Frozen Peas
·       2 Cloves Garlic (minced)
·       1 tsp. Salt
·       1 tsp. Pepper
·       1/2 Sour Cream
·       4 Tsp. Olive Oil (divided)

Add 2 Tsp. Olive Oil to a large oven safe skillet and heat up under medium heat. Add Chopped onion and saute until thoroughly translucent.


Chop of chicken into bite sized portion, make sure to discard bones but feel free to add chicken skin and fat into the dish.  It adds great flavor.  Add chopped chicken and additional 2 Tsp. of Olive Oil to skillet and brown with onions for 5 minutes or so.



Then add rice and minced garlic to skillet, stir and saute together for 1-2 minutes.  Add Broth to mixture and bring up to a simmer.  Simmer for 10 minutes or so, stirring every few minutes.


When rice started to come together add broccoli and simmer for 1-2 more minutes.



After that add sour cream, salt, pepper, peas, and about half the cheese to the dish and stir together.  Top the casserole with other half of cheese, sprinkling it evenly throughout the top of the dish.



Either set aside to cool and refrigerate until you're ready to bake it or preheat oven to 350 degrees.



Bake Dish for 30-35 minutes.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Chocolate Lava Cake

It's the day before Valentine's Day, which is a holiday that has a lot of different meanings to many different people. Maybe you have a romantic evening planned out with your significant other, maybe instead you're joining a group of friends, or at home with your family.  Either way there seems to be one universal way to celebrate Valentine's Day, and that's to eat CHOCOLATE.
Chocolate may be one of the greatest inventions of man.  Right up there with the wheel and sliced bread. This time of year, there's a great deal of emphasis for people to buy chocolates or eat dinner and have a chocolate dessert. Whatever your fancy may be, this is an awesome recipe to have tucked in your back pocket. A Chocolate Lava Cake that can easily be made in the Slow Cooker. This is an easy recipe to make for a dinner party, or if you're at home this Valentine's Day with your significant other and 3 kids.  It's delicious, easy, and requires very little attention. I did make the brownie mix from scratch (mostly because it was cheaper), but you can certainly buy a box of pre-made brownie mix if you prefer or to save time.
Just a reminder, this is one of my last blog posts before maternity leave starts. I'll try my best to keep online and post a few while on maternity leave, but I can't promise anything. However feel free to keep submitting recipe requests and emailing me at ahoff@timesherald.com with questions or thoughts.

Slow Cooker Chocolate Lava Cake

10 minutes to prep
3-3.5 hours on High in Slow Cooker
10 servings
·       Non Stick Cooking Spray to cover bottom and sides of Slow Cooker

Homemade Brownie Mix
·       1 Cup Granulated Sugar
·       2/3 Cup Flour
·       1/3 Cup Dark Chocolate Cocoa (I used Hershey's)
·       1/2 tsp. Salt
·       1/2 tsp baking powder
·       1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
·       3 Eggs
·       2/3 Cup Water


Topping
·       2 Cups Milk
·       1 Instant Pudding Packet (I used Jello brand, feel free to use whatever brand you like)
·       2 Cups Chocolate Chips




Optional
·       Whipped Cream or Vanilla Ice Cream

Set up Slow Cooker and spray down bottom and sides with nonstick cooking spray. In a bowl mix up homemade Brownie mix, beat together for 2-3 minutes until thoroughly combined.



Pour into slow cooker carefully, it'll easily splash down the sides.



In a separate bowl, mix together the milk and pudding packet. Allow to set for 2-3 minutes until it's soft set.





Add pudding mixture on top of brownie mixture in Slow Cooker. DO NOT MIX TOGETHER once they're both in the slow cooker.



Evenly spread chocolate chips on top of both mixtures.



Cook on High for 3-3.5 hours. It may look a bit goopy but it will taste amazing when done.  You can also top each serving with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.


Friday, February 6, 2015

Coq au Vin

So it's now February, which means there's only a couple of blog posts left (including this one) until my maternity leave.  Yes... yes.. I'm expecting. No, we didn't find out the gender, but yes we're both (my husband and I) are very excited. So while I'm desperately trying to push out a few more blog entries before my due date, unfortunately there are only a couple left.  I'll be on maternity leave for about 3 months. I'm not sure how often I'll be able to post during my leave, but will return to regular blog posts in June.
Onto the blog entry, it's comfort food season and who doesn't love a slow cooked meal with tons and tons of flavor.  I love Coq Au Vin and it's a great beginning of the week recipe that can be broken up into lunches or meals as the week progresses.  Coq Au Vin is a French recipe that involves slow cooked chicken with mushrooms, red wine, and bacon. This is also a very forgiving recipe, you can kind of leave it alone and allow it to cook.

Coq au Vin

30 minutes to prep
2-3 hours at 325 degrees to cook
8 servings

·       4 Chicken Leg Quarters
·       2 lbs Carrots, peeled and chopped
·       8 oz Mushrooms sliced
·       16 oz Red Wine, (I prefer Cabernet)
·       4 cloves Garlic, minced
·       1 Cup Chicken Broth
·       4 oz or 5-6 slices of Bacon
·       2 Shallots, diced
·       2 Tsp. Olive Oil
·       2-3 large stalks of celery chopped
·       1 Tsp. Thyme
·       2 Bay Leaves or 1 Tsp. chopped Bay Leaves
·       1/4 cup Flour
·       1 Tsp. Salt
·       1 tsp. Pepper
·       2-3 large stalks of celery chopped
·       Egg noodles (I used one large box)

Begin by preheating oven to 325 degrees and pulling out a saute pan. Begin to saute bacon in the pan until crispy.



While bacon is browning, grab a large baking pan and line the bottom with carrots and celery. Then add chicken on top of carrots and celery.  You can also brown chicken before adding to the pan. I choose not to. Add salt and pepper evenly on top of chicken.

When bacon is finished spread on top of the chicken in baking pan. Then add 1 Tsp. of Olive Oil in with bacon fat in the saute pan and caramelize the diced shallots.



Add mushrooms evenly on top of chicken in the pan.



When the shallots look just about browned, add minced garlic and saute for 1 minute.  Add thyme, bay leaves, red wine and chicken broth and simmer for 5-10 minutes until it starts to come together.  You'll see it'll just start to thicken.  Turn off heat and pour sauce on top of chicken evenly. 



Bake in oven for 2 hours or so.  Occasionally pull out every hour or so to baste.  Then pull out of oven and ladle out 2-3 cups of broth.  Add flour to broth and mix well.  Add back to pan and stir around.  Put back in oven for 30 minutes to an hour.

Prepare egg noodles according to instructions.



Pull out chicken, allow to rest for 5 minutes and then add on top of egg noodles for a warm hearty dinner.


Friday, January 30, 2015

Slow Cooker Hot Chocolate

It's that time of winter where the temperature is dropping, but there aren't any fun holidays to help ease the boredom of being stuck inside.  Christmas and New Years are finished, and coming up is the Superbowl and Valentine's Day.  January however is a month devoid of holidays that revolve around food.  February has fun stuff like Fasnaughts for Fat Tuesday and chocolate goodies for Valentine's Day. So to cope with the cold temperatures, being stuck inside, and the bleakness that is known as winter, I went in search of yummy recipes to make to warm up.
Recently I also celebrated my baby shower with family and friends.  I got the chance to pitch in and help out with the decorations and food, which I love to do.  I'm a huge fan of getting to create little items for people to enjoy and it also gave me the chance to try out this recipe.  Hot Chocolate is a staple for winter, but it can be difficult to create for a crowd, unless you have a slow cooker.  The big slow cooker allows you to fill it up and then everyone can enjoy it. I served it with marshmallows, but you can also add an assortment of peppermints, caramels, and raspberry syrup. Make sure you use a large slow cooker for this.  

Slow Cooker Hot Chocolate


12-15 servings
5 minutes to prep
1.5-2 hours on high heat in slow cooker
or 3-4 hours on low heat

·       14 oz Sweetened Condensed Milk
·       1/2 Cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
·       2 Tsp. Vanilla extract
·       1/4 Cup powdered Sugar
·       1/8 Tsp. Salt
·       14 Cups of water
·       Marshmallows to serve afterwards


Set slow cooker to desired temperature (low or high depending on how long you would like it to cook). All ingredients except for water to the slow cooker.


Slowly add water to slow cooker, and stir as you add it.



Cook or 1.5-2 hours on high heat, or 3-4 hours on low heat.


Feel free to add marshmallows to it or any other kind of flavorings.  Some people enjoy peppermints, caramels, or adding raspberry syrup.