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  • Have a Spooky Halloween!

    Cheddar Witches Fingers - Cheese straws in the shape of fingers, complete with a black almond "finger nail." Delicious and totally spooky.

    Candy Apples - You don't need to go to the fair to get my favorite treat because you can make these at home. Black food coloring gives them a festive touch.

    Pumpkin Caramel Sauce - Having a not-so-scary Halloween party? Serve ice cream with this pumpkin infused caramel sauce on top.

Monthly Archives: March 2010

Lighter General Tso’s Chicken

While unpacking recently, I came across my old recipe folder. The majority of the recipes were simple with minimal ingredients and required no kitchen skills whatsoever. Food blogging has been a great experience for me because my cooking skills have drastically improved since I first started this blog. I know I still have a long way to go, but I’m still learning and can happily look back and see how much I’ve grown as a home cook. Not to mention, I’ve gotten to know some fabulous people who have helped me along the way.

Every now and then, I’ll be reposting some old recipes. There are some dishes in my blog that really don’t have descriptions or pictures giving them the credit they deserve. I’ll be highlighting recipes that Eric and I have made several times since I first posted them.

There was once a time that I thought it would be completely impossible for Eric and I to make any type of takeout food at home. Funny how things change! This dish is so delicious and can easily be made on a busy weeknight. The chicken is coated in an egg white batter, which gives it a crispy, but lower-on-the-guilt-scale coating and then pan-fried. The sauce is the perfect combination of sweet and heat, and the ginger gives it a very fresh flavor.


Lighter General Tso’s Chicken
Ingredients:
1 1/4 cups long-grain brown rice
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 pound sugar snap peas
3-4 carrots, cut into sticks
4 garlic cloves, sliced
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, peeled and grated
3 tablespoons light-brown sugar
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 large egg whites
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Directions:
-Cook rice according to package directions.
-While the rice is cooking, mix together 1 tablespoon of cornstarch with 1/2 cup of cold water in a large bowl. Add the snap peas, carrots, garlic, ginger, brown sugar, soy sauce and red pepper flakes. Toss to combine and set aside.
-In another bowl, whisk together egg whites with remaining 3 tablespoons of cornstarch, salt and pepper. Add chicken and toss to coat.
-In a large, nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat. Shake off excess egg white mixture from half of the chicken pieces and add to skillet. Cook, turning occasionally, until chicken is golden, about 6-8 minutes.
-Transfer to a paper towel lined plate and repeat with remaining oil and chicken.
-Add snap pea mixture to skillet. Cover and allow to cook for 5 minutes, until carrots and snap peas are crisp-tender and sauce has thickened. Return chicken to skillet and toss to coat.
-Serve with rice.

Serves 4

Source: Adapted from Everyday Food, October 2008. Seen on Proceed with Caution.


Balsamic Candied Pecans

Balsamic vinegar is one of my favorite ingredients. It imparts such a wonderfully rich flavor to almost any dish, but also has a hint of sweetness. In this case, it gives these pecans exactly what they need to take them over the top. The recipe is incredibly simple, and I would be surprised if you didn’t have the four ingredients somewhere in your pantry. I initially made these pecans to top my favorite salad (baby spinach, dried cranberries and goat or gorgonzola cheese). However, they also make a great snack. If I’m craving something sweet, I can just grab a couple of these to curb the craving.


Balsamic Candied Pecans

Ingredients:
1 cup pecan halves
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Directions:
-Line a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper and set near stovetop.
-Using a rubber spatula, stir together sugar, oil and vinegar in a medium sized skillet set over medium heat until sugar melts and mixture begins to bubble, about three minutes.
-Add pecans and stir to coat. Continue cooking five to six minutes until pecans are toasted and evenly coated with syrup.
-Immediately turn out onto prepared baking sheet and use two forks to separate.
-Allow to cool completely.
-If not serving immediately, cooled nuts can be stored in an airtight container for one month.

Source: Adapted from Helen Rennie


Lemon Olive Oil Cupcakes

Spring is just around the corner, and these cupcakes are a great way to celebrate the end of a long winter. Their fresh, lemony taste pairs perfectly with the basil buttercream. This is a sturdy cupcake recipe that stands up well even when filled with lemon curd. These cupcakes are like a little bite of sunshine, and I promise they won’t disappoint!


Lemon Olive Oil Cupcakes

Ingredients:

4 eggs
1 cup sugar
Zest of 1 Meyer lemon
3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup Meyer lemon infused extra virgin olive oil
2/3 cup milk
3 tablespoons Grand Marnier
1 tablespoon baking powder
Large pinch of Kosher salt

Directions:
-Line muffin tins and preheat oven to 325°.
-Combine the milk, olive oil and Grand Marnier and set aside.
-In the bowl of a stand mixer on medium speed, whisk together eggs and sugar until pale yellow.
-Meanwhile, sift together flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.
-Switch to the paddle attachment and add the dry and wet ingredients alternately in three batches.
-Mix just until blended. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
-Cool completely and, using the cone method, fill the cupcakes with Meyer Lemon Curd.

Makes about 20 cupcakes
Source: Adapted from Very Small Anna


Lemon Basil Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Ingredients:
1 cup sugar
4 large egg whites
3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped

Directions:
-In the bowl of a stand mixer, thoroughly whisk together egg whites and sugar.
-Set the bowl over a pot of simmering water. Whisk constantly until all the mixture is hot and sugar has dissolved.
-Place bowl back in stand mixer and beat on medium-high speed until a stiff meringue has formed and mixture has cooled to room temperature.
-Switch to paddle attachment, reduce speed to medium and add butter a few tablespoons at a time.
-Once all the butter is incorporated, beat until fluffy and smooth, about 6-10 minutes. If at any time the buttercream curdles, just continue beating. It will smooth back out.
-Set the mixer to low speed and gradually add the lemon juice and vanilla.
-Stir in the chopped basil by hand.
-For same day use, buttercream can be stored at room temperature. For later use, refrigerate in an airtight container and reconstitute by beating on low speed with paddle attachment until smooth.

Source: Adapted from Beantown Baker


Meyer Lemon Curd

Most of the time, Eric and I plan our meals out for the week and go to the store with the plan to get only what’s on our list. We know exactly what we’ll be making with each ingredient we buy. However, there’s one thing that can turn me into a total impulse buyer (okay, one thing besides chocolate) and that’s Meyer lemons. Recently, I saw a beautiful stack of them at Whole Foods and decided it would be a great idea to buy some even though I had no clue how I would use them. Enter Meyer lemon curd.

This curd was filled with Meyer lemon flavor and wonderful for so many reasons. It was the perfect accompaniment to Cream Scones for breakfast and made a great filling in Meyer Lemon Olive Oil Cupcakes. It would also be great with ladyfingers, fruit or yogurt (or just by the spoonful…not that I did that).


Meyer Lemon Curd
Ingredients:
6 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest (from 1 lemon)
3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (from about 4 lemons)
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, cut into small pieces

Directions:
-Place a wire mesh strainer over a medium bowl and set near stovetop.
-In a medium saucepan, whisk together eggs, sugar, zest and juice. Add the butter.
-Place saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly, using a heatproof spatula.
-Continue cooking about 6-8 minutes, until curd is thickened.
-Immediately pour curd into strainer and press through to remove any cooked eggs or lumps.
-Place a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the curd and refrigerate for at least two hours.
-Transfer to an airtight container. The curd will keep refrigerated for up to one week.

Makes 2 1/2 cups.

Source: Adapted from The Runaway Spoon