Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Pineapple Upside Down Cupcakes

I definitely have a sweet tooth--I will eat just about any dessert you put in front of me! However, I have never found pineapple upside down cake particularly appealing. I’m not really sure why I stayed away from pineapple upside down cake for so long; especially since I remember my mom making it for my dad when I was a child and he loved it. I recently came across a recipe for pineapple upside down cupcakes; I had all of the ingredients on hand to make them, so I decided to give them a try. These cupcakes were so delicious and easy to make, they have definitely changed me into a pineapple upside down cake lover--I will certainly be making these again!

Ingredients:

Topping:
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 12 pineapple rings
  • 12 maraschino cherries (I omitted)
Cupcakes:
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup pineapple juice, reserved from can
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 12-cup muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray. Drain the pineapple, reserving the juice for the cupcake batter. In a small bowl, combine melted butter with brown sugar.

Evenly divide the mixture between the 12 muffin cups, approximately 1 teaspoon per muffin cup. Cut about 1/3 out of each pineapple ring and place on top of brown sugar mixture in each muffin cup. Add a cherry in the center of each pineapple ring.

In a mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, and baking powder. Add pineapple juice, vanilla, and butter. Using a mixer, beat on low until just combined. Increase speed and beat for 2 minutes.

Add the egg and beat until well incorporated. Evenly divide the batter among the muffin cups.

Bake approximately 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool the cupcakes for 5 minutes in the pan. Flip muffin pan onto a platter or covered rack (it helps to run a butter knife along the edges of each cupcake to ensure they come out completely). Cool and enjoy!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Chicken Tikka Masala

I have often stated my love for Indian food and how I dearly miss our favorite Indian restaurant in Herndon, Virginia. I am always on the lookout for recipes to recreate the dishes that we loved there. Chicken Tikka Masala is one of those meals that I have been wishing to replicate. Chicken Tikka Masala is usually a spicy dish but the first recipe I tried was unbearable! Russell likes spicy foods so I knew it was too hot when he could not finish his plate! My search for a new recipe led me the one below. I adjusted the recipe to ensure that it would not be too spicy. My second attempt turned out just right as the flavor was wonderful and the spice was perfect! I served it with homemade naan complimented with my twist on a traditional tzatziki sauce (recipe soon to come). This is definitely the Chicken Tikka Masala recipe I will be using from now on when we are craving some wonderful Indian food.

This recipe calls for a spice called Garam Masala which is typically made from whole spices; roasted, and then ground. For a quick and easy substitute you can make your own: Garam Masala. You can also find Garam Masala at the World Market, Whole Foods, or The Fresh Market.

Ingredients:

Chicken Masala Marinade Ingredients:
  • 1 cup plain low-fat yogurt
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger or 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Other Ingredients:
  • 2 pounds chicken breasts (about 3-4 chicken breasts)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger or 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder (more if you would like it spicier)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (more if you would like it spicier)
  • 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 16 ounce can tomato sauce
  • Pinch of sugar
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • Cilantro
  • Cooked basmati rice
Directions:

In a large glass or stainless steel bowl, combine all of the chicken masala marinade ingredients except the chicken. Using a sharp knife make a few shallow slashes in each piece of chicken. Add the chicken to the marinade, turning to coat. Refrigerate covered overnight.

In a large dutch oven or large pot, heat the vegetable oil. Add the onion, garlic, and ginger and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally. Cook until onions are tender and golden, approximately 6-8 minutes.

Add the garam masala, chili powder, and cayenne pepper and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

Add the tomatoes with their juices, the tomato sauce, and the pinch of sugar. Season with salt and pepper. Cover partially and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, for about 5-10 minutes.

While the mixture begins to simmer, remove the chicken from the marinade and cut into bite-sized pieces. Place the chicken into the pot of simmering tomato sauce. Continue simmering/cooking the chicken, partially covered, for an additional 10-20 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce has reduced and thickened slightly.

Add the cream and some of the cilantro and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 10 minutes longer.

Serve over basmati rice and garnish with cilantro.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Homemade Naan

As I have previously mentioned, where we currently live is not a hotspot when it comes to any type of food other than Mexican. Therefore, to fulfill our void of Indian food, I have to make it at home. This weekend I decided to tackle making homemade Naan.

When we lived in Virginia it was very easy (and cheap) to find ready made naan. Now that we live in west Texas it is very difficult to find naan anywhere, let alone at a reasonable price. This past Saturday I planned a wonderful Indian meal, and of course naan was included on the menu. After searching several stores for naan I discovered it was going to cost over $12 just for Russell and I to have enough for our meal (and perhaps some leftovers). At that point I decided making naan from scratch was the only way to go. After the fact I am so glad the naan was too expensive at the store because homemade naan is absolutely wonderful and easy to make! I also made a wonderful twist on the traditional tzatziki sauce (recipe will be coming soon) that I served the naan with.

Ingredients:
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 cup Milk
  • 1 tbsp Sugar
  • 1 Egg
  • 4 tbsp Oil , divided
  • water
  • 1 tsp Nigella seeds (Kalunji) (I omitted)
Directions:

Sift together flour, salt, and baking powder into a bowl and make a well in the middle.

Mix milk, egg, sugar and 2 tablespoons of oil together in a separate bowl. Pour into the center of the flour mixture and knead, adding water if necessary, to form soft dough (I had to add a little less than a cup of water).

Add remaining oil and knead again, then cover with a damp cloth. Allow dough to stand for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes knead dough again and cover with a damp cloth. Allow to rest for 2-3 hours.

About 30 minutes before Naan are required, preheat oven to maximum heat (I preheated the oven to 475 degrees F).

Divide dough into 8 balls and allow to rest for 3-4 minutes. Shape each ball of dough your palms to make an oval shape. Bake the Naan until puffed and golden brown, approximately 8-10 minutes. Serve hot and enjoy!

Source: Indian Food Forever: Naan

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Apple Turnovers

During the week Russell has to leave fairly early for work, around 6:00a.m. Although I would love to cook a nice breakfast during the week, since Russell is not home to partake in it, I usually end up eating cereal. The weekends are a different story, I am able to fix a yummy breakfast for the both of us.

Russell and I both love football season (Roll Tide!!)--I love waking up early and preparing a yummy breakfast while ESPN Gameday plays in the background. Seeing as how I also love apple pastries, especially apple turnovers, it only makes perfect sense to make apple turnovers on a football Saturday morning :)

Ingredients:
  • 1 sheet puff pastry
  • 2 apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Directions:

Thaw puff pastry according to package directions.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, combine chopped apples with lemon juice and cinnamon. Add in sugar, brown sugar, and butter. Toss to coat.

Once puff pastry has thawed, cut pastry into 4 squares.

Divide apple mixture between the 4 squares. Pinch the dough at the end to close dough. Bake on parchment covered baking sheet for approximately 20-25 minutes, or until puff pastry is golden brown on top.

To top apple turnovers with icing combine:
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Once apple turnovers are complete drizzle with icing.

Apple Turnovers adapted from: Sugar Crafter: Apple Strudel

Monday, September 13, 2010

Broccoli Salad

I generally do not like raw broccoli, raw onions, or raisins, so why am I posting a recipe which has all three ingredients you might ask--because this broccoli salad is wonderful! I believe my fear of broccoli salad originated from attending potlucks. There would always be this strange green mixture sitting on the table starring back at me that did not look appealing to me at all. One day I was feeling brave and decided to try the dreaded green mixture, it turns out it was delicious and I had been depriving myself of broccoli salad goodness for far too long. I decided with a few small modifications broccoli salad was actually something I could really enjoy.

Since I am the one who does all the cooking in our household (our kitchen stays much cleaner that way :) ), I am the one who does all of the meal planning. There are not too many things that Russell will not eat so I am able to try out a lot of new things. I knew that this broccoli salad was delicious but for some reason, although I knew he would eat it, I was still afraid if Russell was going to like it or not. Not only did he eat it but he went back for seconds and commented on how good it was! Broccoli salad in our house has been deemed a success.

Ingredients:

Salad Ingredients:
  • 1 large head of broccoli, cut into flowerettes and stem pieces
  • 1 pound of bacon, fried and crumbled (I used Maple flavored bacon)
  • 1 cup of sunflower seeds (optional, I chose to omit)
  • 1/2 white onion chopped (depending on your taste you may prefer more)
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
Dressing Ingredients:
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vinegar
Directions:

Combine dressing ingredients in a small bowl and set aside. Combine salad ingredients and toss.

Add dressing and mix well. Chill for several hours to blend flavors before serving.

This is another recipe I requested from my sister, she got it from a friend who adapted it from this recipe: All Recipes: Broccoli Salad

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Creamy Tomato Basil Pasta

Simplicity is key in our house when it comes to a weeknight meal. Although I love to cook, once Russell gets home from work and I begin to prepare dinner, I do not want to spend all of my time in the kitchen. This Creamy Tomato Basil Pasta is a simple meal to prepare yet it is so delicious. Because of our love for pasta dishes, I am always on the lookout for new pasta recipes to try. Once I came across this recipe I knew I had to try it- it certainly did not disappoint.

Ingredients:
  • 2- 9oz packages of cheese tortellini
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 pint cheery tomatoes, halved
  • 2 cups fresh spinach, chopped
  • 1 cup tomato basil pasta sauce (I used approx. 1 1/2 cups)
  • 4 oz cream cheese (I used 1/3 less fat)
  • 1/4 cup basil, chopped (I used dried because it was what I had on hand)
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese (used for topping pasta)
Directions:

Boil cheese tortellini pasta according to package directions, approximately 8-10 minutes.

In a large non-stick skillet, heat olive oil, add garlic, and cook about a minute.

Add tomatoes and spinach to garlic, stirring frequently. Spinach should cook down and tomatoes should be tender. Add sauce and let simmer for about 5 minutes.

In a large bowl add pasta. While pasta is still warm add cream cheese and basil. Stir until creamy. Add tomato sauce mixture and stir until well combined. Add to serving dish and top with parmesan.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Warm Greek Pasta Salad

I have been looking for a simple yet delicious pasta salad recipe. When I called my sister one day to ask her if she had made anything delicious lately and she mentioned this pasta salad recipe, I could not wait to try it! I knew it would be a great dish as all the recipe ideas I get from my sister are always so yummy! This is such a simple dish that can easily be made after a long busy day. This dish is so versatile, it can be served as a side dish or accompanied with chicken as a main dish. I will definitely be making this again!

Ingredients:
  • 1 can of crushed or diced tomatoes
  • 1 can of marinated artichoke hearts, cut into bite-size pieces with liquid set aside
  • 1 can black olives
  • 1 1/2 cups feta cheese
  • 1/2 onion diced
  • 12 oz box of tri-color rotini pasta (or pasta of your choice)
  • Italian Spices
Directions:

While pasta is boiling, saute diced onion in olive oil.

Add olives, tomatoes, artichoke hearts, italian spices, and about three-fourths of the feta cheese to the sautéed onion. Let simmer until pasta is ready.

If sauce is too thick add reserved liquid from artichoke hearts, if too thin add more feta cheese. (I used all of the feta cheese and all of the reserved liquid, but I like a lot of sauce.)

Once pasta is done, toss with sauce.

If you would like to add chicken to your pasta, I used the chicken recipe from Annie’s Eats: Chicken Gyros

Warm Greek Pasta Salad Recipe adapted from:
All Recipes: Greek Pasta