Thursday, March 31, 2011

Coconut Shrimp Soup

This dish was inspired by an amazing coconut shrimp soup that hubby and I order from our favorite local Thai restaurant. I decided to just wing it, with no recipe, and for a girl who relies heavily on recipes, this was a very exciting success for me! The flavors were awesome and really how can you go wrong with shrimp, coconut milk, onion, garlic, lime, tomatoes, and cilantro.
 I served this "soup" over cheesy garlic grits and it was an excellent choice.
Although it is not pictured in the ingredient shot, I added some red chili flakes to kick things up a bit. One thing I learned from this dish was not to overcook the shrimp! They really only need a couple of minutes in the pan or else they become tough. Next time I will add them in at the very end.
Coconut Shrimp Soup
An Ashley's Cooking Adventures Original
Makes 4 servings

1 pound shrimp, cleaned and thawed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup tomatoes, chopped
1 teaspoon red chili flakes
1/2 cup coconut milk
Juice of 2 limes
4 tablespoons cilantro, minced
4 servings of prepared grits, rice, or quinoa  (if desired)
Heat oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and saute until softened, about 5 minutes. Add in shrimp, tomatoes, and coconut milk and raise the heat to high.
Shake in red chili flakes and stir. Bring to a simmer for 3 minutes. Plate grits or other grain of choice in a bowl. Drizzle lime juice over the top of the shrimp soup and pour over the grits. Garnish with cilantro and serve hot.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Hot Corn & Black Bean Dip

I found this hearty southwestern flavored dip on Delish. I knew it would be perfect to serve as an appetizer the night I fixed Grilled Fish Tacos for my parents and hubby and it was! Everyone gobbled it up.
This dip is warm, cheesy, creamy, and you can taste the black beans, corn, and onions in every bite. The original recipe did not call for sour cream but I added it in to make the dip more creamy.

Hot Black Bean & Corn Dip
From Delish
Printable Version

1 tablespoon olive oil
15 ounce can of black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup corn
1/2 cup onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 small can diced green chilies
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup shredded cheese
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Add oil to skillet over medium heat. Saute onions. Add garlic, green chiles, cumin, chili powder, and saute for 2-3 minutes until garlic is fragrant. Add black beans and saute another 3-4 minutes. Use a potato masher to coarsely mash half of the beans. Add corn and saute for another 2-3 minutes. Transfer skillet contents to a large bowl and allow to coo slightly. Add in the sour cream and half of the cheese and stir to mix everything together.
Pour into a baking dish (I used a 8X8 dish) and top with the remaining shredded cheese.
Bake for 15 minutes or until bubbly and lightly browned. Serve hot with tortilla chips or as a side dish to your favorite southwestern or Mexican meal.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Completion of 30 Things to Make Before I Turn 30: Homemade Bread

This recipe completes my list of 30 Things to Make Before I Turn 30! I did make this bread before the big 30, I promise! I had to wait to post it until I got my pictures transferred from my old laptop to new laptop and that finally happened with the help of the brilliant minds at the Apple Store. They somehow recovered all my old photos and I'm so grateful! (Lesson learned about backing up everything on an external hard drive!)

It was a great experience completing all of the items on my list of 30 Things to Make Before 30. It definitely got me out of my cooking comfort zone (rack of lamb, for example) and challenged me to make things I never thought I would be able to - noodles from scratch, homemade english muffins, scones. It is impossible to pick a favorite because I really enjoyed each and every recipe, but I do have to say I was the most excited about the homemade marshmallows. They were so so fun and yummy and such a treat in the middle of winter! I definitely encourage you to try making your own sometime!Looking back on my list I am pretty darn proud of myself. 

Here it is:
30 Things to Make Before I Turn 30

1. Cornish Hens [Check!]
2. Homemade Salsa [Check!]
5. Cheese Souffle [Check!]
6. Blueberry Pie [Check!]
7. Homemade Marshmallows [Check!]
8. She Crab Soup [Check!]
9. Beef Pot Roast [Check!]
11. Monkey Bread [Check!]
12. Yeast Bread [Check!]
13. Sweet Potato Soup [Check!]
16. Scones [Check!]
17. Beer battered fish [Check!]
18. Homemade Granola [Check!]
19. Rack of lamb [Check!]
20. Pasties (Recipe from A. Chris)  [Check!]
Pioneer Woman's Rosemary Rolls [Check!]
Lasanga [Check!]
Eggplant Parmesean [Check!]
Fettucine Alfredo (Recipe from Mary) [Check!]
English Muffins  [Check!]
German Potato Salad[Check!]
Giada De Laurentiis's Basil Pesto Sauce [Check!]
Rib Eye Steak with Pan Jus [Check!]
Chicken Braised in Red Wine [Check!]

30. Bean Burgers (Recipe from Margaret) [Check!]

I've been asked what is next on my cooking "goals". I think that I am going to try "Meatless Mondays" where I post vegetarian meals on Mondays. I am not going to commit to every Monday, but hopefully a couple of times a month! 

Oh, I almost forgot about the bread! I found this recipe on Tasty Kitchen. I've actually made it twice now because hubby and I loved it.  It's incredibly simple and turns out beautifully golden brown, soft, fluffy, yet dense. I love using it to sop up soup and hubby likes it covered in butter. It's excellent any way you eat it!
Milk & Honey Bread
From Twinks on Tasty Kitchen
Makes 1 loaf
Printable Version

1 tablespoon butter
1 1/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon honey
3 cups Bread Flour
2 1/4 teaspoon dry active yeast
3/4 teaspoons Kosher Salt

In a small saucepan melt the butter over low heat. Turn the burner off and add the milk and honey. 
Stir to combine well, then set aside. In a small bowl combine 2 cups of the flour, the yeast and salt. 
In a large bowl, or the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the milk mixture and the flour/yeast mixture. 
Mix until smooth. If mixing by hand, work in the remaining flour, then turn dough out on a floured surface and knead for 10 minutes. If using an electric mixer, add about half the remaining flour, then switch to the dough hook and mix in the remaining half cup flour. Knead for 8-10 minutes on low speed.
Place dough into an oiled bowl, turning to coat on all sides. Cover with plastic wrap and set in a draft-free location to rise until doubled in size, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Punch down the dough and turn it out onto a work surface and form into a loaf. Place the dough into a loaf pan that has been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Allow dough to rise until doubled in size, about 45 minutes. 
Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Place on wire rack to cool. Note: I melted 1 tablespoon of butter on top and sprinkled a tiny bit of Kosher salt. 

Friday, March 25, 2011

Chicken with Olives

I've been eying this recipe from Pioneer Woman for several months now and finally decided to make it this week. Olives are one of my favorite things. I eat them out of the jar just about every day, but prefer them in Bloody Maryies! :) This recipe was pretty simple because you cooked it all in one pot. The olives are the best part of this dish. I recommend using different pieces of chicken because I used only drumsticks and it wasn't a good ratio of meat to everything else and cutting apart a chicken leg over pasta isn't an easy or particularly sexy way to eat!
Pioneer Woman's Chicken and Olives
Serves 6
Printable Version

4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons olive oil
6 pieces of chicken
1 whole medium onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 whole green bell peppers, seeded and chopped into large pieces (I used a combination of peppers from Trader Joe's)
1 28 ounce can whole tomatoes, completely drained and juice squeezed out, chopped
1 cup white wine (or low sodium chicken broth)
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cups heavy cream (I used fat free half & half)
1 cup whole green olives (I used a combination of olives from the olive bar at my grocery store)
12 ounces of pasta of your choice, cooked to al dente and drained (I used angel hair)
Fresh parsley and Parmesan cheese for garnishing

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a Dutch Oven melt butter and olive oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken and brown on both sides. Remove to a plate.
Reduce heat to medium. Add onions, garlic, and peppers to the pot. Stir and cook for a couple of minutes.
 Add tomatoes and cook for a minute or two. Season with salt and pepper. Pour in wine and stir. Add the chicken back to the pot and cover with the lid. Cook in the oven for 45 minutes.
Remove pan from oven and take lid off. Add green olives and cream (drizzle evenly over the top). Put on the lid and shake the pan to "stir" in the cream.
Return to the oven for 15 -20 minutes to thicken the sauce. Remove from oven and keep lid on until ready to serve.

Place pasta into serving bowls. Arrange chicken pieces on top of the pasta then pour the sauce over the top. Garnish with fresh parsley and Parmesan if desired. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

BBQ Chicken Salad with Avocado and Blue Cheese Vinaigrette

Want to try a salad that is bursting with flavors and textures and is over the top delicious? then you have to try this BBQ Chicken Salad from Two Peas and their Pod. It involves creating a lot of different things: two homemade vinaigrettes, crispy cooked potatoes and grilled BBQ chicken, but every step is so worth it and so delicious. The salad alone is super yummy: tomatoes, corn, red onions, and black beans atop fresh greens.  I still cannot decide which of the dressings I liked better, the avocado or the blue cheese. Both are incredibly savory, tangy, creamy, and thick. They kept for several days so I dipped crackers and pretzels into after the salad fixins' were gone! 

The next time you are craving a salad, you gotta try this one! It's a salad that is m-e-a-l! You will not be disappointed!
BBQ Chicken Salad with Avocado and Blue Cheese Vinaigrette
From Two Peas and Their Pod
Serves 4
Printable Version
For the Avocado Vinaigrette:
2/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
1 medium shallot, chopped
3 tablespoons peach jam (I used rhubarb because I had it, and only used 1 tablespoon)
1 medium ripe avocado
Salt and pepper to taste
For the Blue Cheese Vinaigrette:
2/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
1 medium shallot, chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, dry pan roasted and chopped (I browned these in a skillet for a few minutes)
2 tablespoons peach jam (again I used my rhubarb and only 1 tablespoon)
1 cup sour cream
1 cup blue cheese or Gorgonzola
Salt and pepper to taste

For the potatoes:
1 pound red or small white potatoes, scrubbed and sliced
1 medium shallot, minced
1 small bunch parsley, finely chopped

For the chicken:
4 chicken breasts
3/4 cup BBQ sauce - use your favorite brand
For the salad:
Mixed greens
Tomatoes, chopped (I used cherry tomatoes)
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup corn
French Fried onions for garnish
Make avocado vinaigrette by combining all ingredients in a blender or food processor and mix until smooth. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve salad.
For the blue cheese vinaigrette combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and mix until smooth. If the dressing is too thick add a drizzle of olive oil and mix again. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve salad.
To make potatoes, slice thinly and saute in a large skillet with olive oil and shallots until browned and crispy. Stir in parsley. Set aside and keep warm until serving.
Grill the chicken and brush each piece liberally with BBQ sauce. Cut into strips and set aside.
To plate the salads layer first with mixed greens. Lay the sliced chicken on top of the greens. Top with tomatoes, black beans, corn, and tomatoes. Place potatoes on top. Garnish with french fried onions. Drizzle entire salad with the avocado and blue cheese vinaigrettes. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Strawberry Cream Cheese Cupcakes

I decided to make strawberry cream cheese cupcakes in order to use up a pint and a half of strawberries and a box of yellow cake mix. I looked and looked for strawberry cream cheese cupcakes that incorporated yellow cake mix, and found one here that gave me the idea to insert a little piece of cream cheese in the middle of each cupcake. 

I topped each cupcake with a homemade strawberry sauce. It created a beautiful marble color.
You'll notice I did not use cupcake liners because I never buy them or have them on hand. Instead I borrowed the idea of "making" cupcake liners from parchment paper from Carly's Kitchen. I thought it turned out pretty cute, how about you?? I also made strawberry cream cheese frosting to top the cupcakes. The frosting would be excellent if you need a dip for fresh fruit or even graham crackers or vanilla wafters. These cupcakes were super moist and soft. I took them up to my hubby at work and he said everyone talked about how moist and creamy they were. Strawberry season is just around the corner, so give these cupcakes a try!
Strawberry Cream Cheese Cupcakes
Makes 24 cupcakes

For the cupcakes
1 box yellow cake mix
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla (I used my homemade vanilla extract)
1 cup plain yogurt
4 ounces cream cheese, cut into 24 small pieces
For the strawberry sauce
1 pint strawberries
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
For the strawberry cream cheese frosting
1/2 cup fresh strawberries, mashed
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine cake mix, eggs, water, oil, vanilla and yogurt and mix until smooth with stand mixer or electric hand mixer. Pour into lined muffin tins. 
Make strawberry sauce by slicing strawberries into very small chunks. Place in saucepan with the 1/2 cup sugar and vanilla and cook over medium high heat. Stir frequently and allow to cool slightly.

Place the cream cheese pieces into the center of each cupcake and ladle 1 tablespoon of strawberry sauce on top. 
Bake in the oven for 25 minutes, or until cupcakes are golden brown.
Allow to cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes.
For the strawberry cream cheese frosting combine strawberries, butter, and cream cheese in a small bowl and cream with electric mixer. Add in powdered sugar slowly, mixing to combine until smooth.
Frost cupcakes when cool. 

Monday, March 21, 2011

Authentic Flour Tortillas

Homemade tortillas used to seem waaaaaay out of my league until I saw this recipe on Tasty Kitchen. All you need is a few pantry items, half an hour, and voila! Soft, warm tortillas! I found that I could speed up the process by making two at a time using two different pans. Next time you are making something that calls for tortillas, give these babies a try!
Authentic Flour Tortillas
From Marilee on Tasty Kitchen
Printable Version

2 1/2 cups flour
3 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup olive oil
3/4 cup water

In a bowl mix flour, baking powder, and salt.
 Add oil and with your hand mix until oil is incorporated. Add water all at once and mix with hands until well blended. Pinch off about 8-10 balls and place in bowl. 
Cover and let set at least 15 minutes then roll out thin on a floured surface. 
Heat up pan, place tortilla, and cook until bubbly. Then turn and cook until lightly browned. 
Note: You can make the balls early in the day and then cook right before eating. 


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