Saturday, April 19, 2014

Empanada Dough

There are a few great Cuban restaurants in Philadelphia, but my current favorite may be Cuba Libra.  They make the best empanadas.  Since I can’t always get to the Old City neighborhood and the ingredients themselves aren’t expensive, I begin looking into making my own.  

Empanada Dough
45 min prep time
20-25 min cooking time
10 Servings, 2 empanadas per serving
•    1 and ½ sticks of butter
•    3 cups of flour
•    ¼ cup of sugar
•    1 egg (whole)
•    1 egg beaten
•    1 teaspoon salt
•    ¼ cup of water (you may need extra to get the dough consistency right)

Preheat oven at 370 degrees.  Line 3 cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Mix the flour, butter, sugar, and 1 egg together.  Slowly add the water about a tablespoon at a time until it looks crumbly like this.

Pat the dough into a bag and wrap in plastic wrap.  Allow to rest in the fridge for 1-2 hours.

Prep whatever filling ingredients you want to stuff into the empanadas.  I chose mozzarella cheese, mushrooms, corn, and spinach.

Pull dough from fridge and make small balls that can fit in the palm of your hand.  There should be around 20 of them.  Roll out each ball of dough until it’s thin and round.

Fill each piece of dough with a couple of tablespoons of filling and pinch them to resemble a half moon shape.  After each empanada is shaped, brush with the beaten egg.

Bake empanadas for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. 

Friday, April 11, 2014

Cooking for 1

Recently a friend of mine confessed that she was at a loss for cooking for herself.  Her husband had recently passed away after a battle with cancer and she was trying to get back into the swing of things.  I realized that many people are in the same predicament, learning to cook for 1 person.  So I tested out a few recipes for people to try.  I looked for recipes that were healthy, interesting, and didn't break the budget for any one person.

 Avocados are one of my favorite super foods.  This is a meal jam packed with protein and fiber with the side of vegetables.  Keep in mind, avocados are a rich dense food. 

Egg Baked in Avocado
2 min prep time
15-20 min cook time
1 serving
·       1 egg
·       ½ avocado
·       pinch of cayenne pepper
·       pinch of salt
Preheat oven at 400 degrees.  Utilize a ramekin to bake the dish.
Scoop out part of the avocado.  (I tend to eat this part while preparing the dish) Carefully crack the egg and fill the spot in the avocado. 
Bake for 15-20 minutes and sprinkle with cayenne pepper and salt.  

My mother-in-law Magsy is a big fan of Chef Salads and so am I.  But I have a hard time dealing with the amount of fat and preservatives that come with the ingredients.   This is a lower fat version that has some great protein and tons of vitamins.

Spinach Chef Salad
5 min prep time
1 serving
·       ½ cup of strawberries
·        ¼ of your favorite dressing
·       2-3 slices of turkey
·       ¼ cup of chopped chicken
·       ¼ cup of croutons
·       2 cups of spinach
Grab a bowl and layer the bottom with spinach.  Then add the strawberries, turkey, chicken, and croutons on top.  

Frozen shrimp are a great staple to keep in your freezer.  You can easily make as much or as few of them as you like and enjoy something different than chicken. 

Baked Shrimp and Kale
5 min prep time
15-20 min cook time
1 serving
·       6-7 frozen shrimp
·       1 tablespoon olive oil
·       1 garlic clove or 1 tablespoon garlic powder
·       1 medium chopped tomato
·       1 cup of chopped Kale
·       lemon juice
Preheat oven at 400 degrees..
Use a small baking dish and layer the kale on the bottom, with the tomatoes. Toss vegetables with olive oil and garlic.   On top of them add the shrimp still frozen.
Bake for 15-20 minutes until shrimp are pink.  Add a squeeze of lemon juice on top.

Let me know what your favorite recipe for cooking for 1-2 people may be.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Blueberry Cream Cheese Bread Pudding

I love bread, absolutely positively love bread.  However I was given about 4 loaves of it in one week.  Not even I can finish off that much bread.  So I looked around for ways to use up the bread and got super excited at the thought of making bread pudding.  That sinful delicious carb filled dessert dish that satisfies our after dinner sweet tooth.

Blueberry Cream Cheese Bread Pudding
20 min prep time
60 min cooking time
10 Servings

•    5 eggs
•    2 ½ cups of 2% Milk (divided)
•    1 ½ loaves of Bread
•    1 cup of White Chocolate Chips
•    1 cup of Frozen Blueberries (You can definitely use fresh if they’re in season)
•    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
•    2/3’s cup of powdered sugar
•    8 oz of cream cheese

Preheat oven at 350 degrees.  Grease a 13 by 9 in pan or a pie pan, set aside.
Chop up bread into small chunks, set aside.  Mix 5 eggs, vanilla extract, and 2 cups of Milk together in a large bowl. 

In a small pot, melt white chocolate with ½ cup of milk on the stove on medium heat.  Continually stir the pot until the chocolate melts and combines with the milk.  Add chocolate mixture and sugar to egg mixture.  Stir to combine.

Slowly add the bread to the wet ingredients and mix in until it’s well mixed.  Take bread mixture and add to pie pan and press down (it will rise up during baking).

Chop up cream cheese and add it on top of the mixture.

Bake for 60 minutes or so and serve with fresh whipped cream.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Roasted Vegetable Bruschetta

A few months ago, my husband and I went for a romantic weekend in Delaware.  Despite the cold weather, we were looking forward to walking on the beach, shopping, and enjoy dinner out.  However the first morning we woke up on our trip, we were both incredibly sick.  Despite being sick, we had a great time.  One of the places we went to, we tried this amazing roasted vegetable bruschetta topped with goat cheese.  Although we were both sick and had little piles of tissues in front of us, we both loved this dish.  So I spent some time trying to replicate it.  

Roasted Vegetable Bruschetta
30 min prep time
90 min cooking time
10 Servings

·       1 medium loaf of bread
·       4 oz of goat cheese (crumbled or chopped up)
·       2 zucchini
·       3 small tomatoes
·       ½ cup of chopped mushrooms
·       1 onion
·       2 cloves of garlic
·       3 Tablespoons of White Balsamic Vinaigrette
·       3 Tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
·       1 Tablespoon dried basil
·       1 Tablespoon of Salt

Preheat oven at 400 degrees.  Grease a 13 by 9 in pan and set aside.
Chop up zucchini, onion, tomato, and garlic.  

Add to the pan and mix in the White Balsamic, Olive Oil, salt, and dried basil.

Roast Vegetables for 90 minutes, occasionally stirring it so it evenly cooks.
Thinly slice the loaf of bread.  Line the bread on a cookie sheet and toast in the oven for 10 minutes or so.

When vegetable mixture is thoroughly cooked, pull out of oven and allow it to cool off.  (I used the refrigerator so it would cook quickly.)  When the vegetables are cool, scoop up enough to top each piece of bread.  Sprinkle goat cheese on top of each piece.  

This is a wonderful appetizer to serve for a crowd.  The veggies can be prepped a day ahead to save time. 

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Chicken Fried Rice

I am a huge Benihana fan, but I don’t have a lot of time to go out during the week or the weekend.  So I began researching ways to make fried rice at home.  I attempted to make this an easy and healthy recipe to replicate.  It was incredibly tasty and with very few leftovers.

Chicken Fried Rice
15 min prep time
30 min cooking time
4 servings

·       1 cup uncooked rice
·       1 Tablespoon garlic powder
·       1 sweet onion
·       3-4 carrots
·       ½ cup peas ( I used frozen for convenience)
·       ½ cup corn
·        1 chicken breast
·       4 Tablespoons canola oil (divided)
·       2 large eggs
·       3 Tablespoons of Soy Sauce

I used a griddle, just because it saved me space and time.  But feel free to use a wok or just separate pans to fry everything.

Cook 1 cup of rice according to directions.  You can also prep this the day before to save time.  

Chop carrots and onions.  Steam carrots either on the stove in a small pot with water, or utilizing a small microwave veggie steamer.  (I use the veggie steamer, best gift ever!)

Coat the griddle with two Tablespoons of canola oil.  Cook chicken breast on one side and onions on other. Sprinkle Tablespoon of garlic powder over both the chicken and the onions.  The onions will take time to caramelize, allow them to cook on low and occasionally stir to cook evenly.  When chicken breast is cooked through, set aside to cool.  When it’s cool enough, shred the meat.  

Coat empty side of griddle with another Tablespoon of canola oil and begin to cook the rice on the griddle under low heat.  Scoop caramelized onions with spatula and mix into rice.  Add peas and carrots to rice mix.

On empty side of griddle, add last Tablespoon of canola oil and fry up both eggs.  Chop up the eggs as you scramble them.  When cooked, add to the rice and mix thoroughly.  Add Soy Sauce and cooked chicken to the rice, turn up heat to medium and cook for about five minutes consistently stirring mixture.  

           The rice should then be perfect to eat.  I like to serve it with some sautéed bok choy or sautéed veggies. 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Simply Souffle

I love souffles but have not had the best luck in making them.  Sometimes they come out soft but tasteless.  Sometimes they've come out with a burned top and raw bottom.  Occasionally they have tasted like cardboard. 
Here is an example of a very sad attempt.

After numerous tries, I have finally found an awesome yet simple recipe to make a souffle. My goal with making souffles was finding one that didn't have a lot of ingredients and wasn't super involved.  In other words, a lazy souffle to satisfy my sweet tooth. 

Dark Chocolate Orange Souffles
10-15 minutes prep
15 minutes cooking
Will make 2 souffles, just double ingredients for 4. 
Here's what you'll need:
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 1/2 cup of powdered sugar, divided.  Plus extra for dusting.
  • 1 teaspoon of orange oil (you can use a different flavored oil if you want)
  • 2 teaspoons of dark cocoa
  • butter to grease ramekins

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Place a cookie sheet into the oven while it preheats.  Grease your ramekins and gently dust them with the powdered sugar.

Separate your eggs into two bowls, with the yolks in one and the egg whites in the other.  Mix in the cocoa, orange oil, and 1/4 cup of the powdered sugar in with the egg yolks.

In the second bowl begin to beat your egg whites.  Add the egg whites begin to turn white, slowly begin to add little by little the rest of the powdered sugar until the mixture forms stiff peaks.

Add a dollops of the egg white mixture to the chocolate mixture to lighten it.  When it's a light brown color begin to slowly fold it into the egg white mixture. 

Pull out cookie sheet and place ramekins on top.  Fill both ramekins evenly with the mixture.

Place in the oven for 15 minutes.  DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT open the oven to check on it while it's cooking.  It took me far too many ruined souffles before finding out that little tidbit.  The souffles will puff up beautifully when finished.  Check out how it looks through the oven door.  It should only taken 15 minutes to cook through.  Serve immediately with whipped cream or maybe some fresh fruit. 

These were INFREAKINGCREDIBLE and even my husband Tom, the guy who doesn't like sweets tried to eat both of them.  I'm looking forward to trying maybe a savory souffle in the future. 

Friday, March 7, 2014

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

This time of year I love to experiment with winter vegetables, and since it's getting close to Saint Patty's Day, I thought I'd go with cabbage.  Cabbage is a wonderfully healthy veggie, but needs strong flavors to make a recipe work.

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

·       1 pound of ground turkey
·       Cooked White Rice (I made about 1 cup uncooked rice, but you can make less)
·       1 Large Cabbage head ( About 12-13 leaves pulled off)
·       ½ of a red pepper, diced
·       1 large onion diced
·       2  medium carrots diced
·       1 egg
·       2 cups of Tomato Soup (featured earlier in the blog), divided
·       1 cup of water
·       1 teaspoon salt
·       1 teaspoon pepper
·       1 Tablespoon nutmeg
·       2 cloves of garlic
·       1 teaspoon cinnamon
·       1 Tablespoon olive oil

There are many ways to pre-treat cabbage before peeling the leaves off.  The way I used was to heat up water and pour over the leave for 5-10 minutes or until the leaves pull off easily.
In a sauté pan, heat up olive oil and add diced red pepper, carrots, and onion to brown.  When they are almost done browning (when the onions are translucent and the carrots soft), add the garlic to sauté it.  Let it cook for a few minutes

In a large bowl, combine cooked rice, raw ground turkey, egg and veggies.  Season the combination with the salt, pepper, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Mix thoroughly. 
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Pull of the cabbage leaves one by one.  Use the largest ones to cover the bottom of the pan, so the rolls wont burn.  

Grab a baking dish, cover the bottom/cabbage leaves with a cup of tomato soup and a cup of water.  
Gently rolls the layers of cabbage off, work carefully so you dont tear the leaves too much.  (But if you tear it, keep at it, itll still be tasty)
Youll need to think about how much mixture per cabbage leaves.  I think about 12 cabbage leaves with a half cup of the mixture per roll. 

Take each cabbage leaf and cut the vein out of the leaf.  Itll make it easier to roll.
Roll up the mixture in each cabbage leaf like a burrito.  Folding the leafs sides and roll tight.  Place each roll into a pan.  When finished top with the 2nd cup of tomato soup and cover tightly with a lid or foil. Cook at 350 degrees for 90 minutes.  

Serve with fresh veggies or a cup of the Tomato Soup.