Thursday, July 29, 2010

Sesame Chicken with Lo Mein Noodles

I love Chinese food. It is right up there with Italian, and I could easily eat both every day of the week: one for lunch, one for dinner. As much as I love Chinese food, I've never really learned to cook it myself. I've always gone to a hole in the wall Chinese take-out and gotten my food cravings fulfilled there.

While my sister was here, we decided to make sesame chicken, which is one of my all-time favorite Chinese dishes. I went to my trustworthy Joy of Cooking for this recipe. Their recipe was a bit different then what I'm used to eating at Chinese restaurants, so I changed it bit. Instead of using bone-in chicken breast halves, we used chicken tenders that we diced. They cooked up a lot faster. I also did not serve it with cucumbers- I absolutely hate cucumbers. We served this alongside my sister's recipe for lo mein noodles.

This recipe for sesame chicken was good- a very strong peanut flavor. What I didn't like about it was that the sauce was very thick and filling, and that it didn't call for sesame seeds. I'm still on the look out for the perfect at-home sesame chicken, but I'd make this again.


16 cups water
3 bone-in chicken breast halves (with skin)

For Sauce:

1/4 cup toasted sesame paste or smooth peanut butter
2 to 3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil (enough to liquefy the sesame paste or peanut butter)
2 1/2 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1/2 to 1 tablespoon hot chili pepper oil, or to taste
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh garlic
1 scallion, finely chopped

~In a large pot, bring the water to a boil. Add the chicken and cook til no longer pink, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove to a plate and let cool. Thoroughly combine the sauce ingredients in a medium bowl. Remove the bones from the cooled chicken breasts. By hand, tear the chicken meat along the grain to make rough shreds 2 1/2 inches long by1/2 inch thick. Place in a serving bowl. Pour the sesame paste sauce over the chicken shreds and mix thoroughly to coat.

*** As I said, I didn't exactly follow Joy of Cooking's recipe. We bought a package of chicken tenders, cut them in bite-size pieces, and cooked them in some canola oil until no longer pink. We then transferred them to a bowl, covered it to keep the chicken warm, and made the sauce. We then pour the chicken into the sauce and mixed it well. ***

Black Bean Burgers

My Dad and sister visited last week, and we wanted to make some special meals for them. We love black bean burgers, and normally just buy them at the grocery store and pop them in the microwave, but this past 4th of July we sampled my brother-in-law's homemade version and loved them. Since then, I was determined to make them myself.

I found a great recipe here. They were easy to make for a weeknight dinner, and had great flavor. While flipping them over on the baking sheet to bake the other side, they did start to break a bit, but once they baked longer, they seemed to hold together pretty well.

We topped them with pepper jack cheese, and served them with fresh corn on the cob and homemade potato salad made by my sister. Perfect for a summer meal!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Crispy Baked Breakfast Taquitos with Lime Chipotle Dip

These are amazing. Make them right away!

That said, this recipe was taken from another food blog, our best bites.

I loved, loved, loved this meal. It can be breakfast, lunch, or dinner. It would be perfect as a brunch item as well. It's pretty quick to make, and has a lot of great ingredients. I've never put sour cream in eggs before, and they made the scrambled eggs very creamy. The addition of roasted red peppers and pepper jack cheese added another punch to make it delicious. You could stop right there and just have the scrambled eggs with those amazing add-ons, but to make it even better, you stick it in a tortilla and bake it until it's nice and crispy.

The lime chipotle dip is quite spicy, so just take a little bit to dunk your taquito into- enjoy!


2 teaspoons olive oil
12 large eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 black pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 1/2 cup grated pepper jack cheese
1/4 cup roasted red peppers
1/4 cup sliced green onions
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1-2 teaspoon hot sauce
16 6-inch flour tortillas

1 1/2 cup sour cream
1 T fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

(Makes 16 taquitos)

1.) Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil for easy clean up. Spray with oil

2.) Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Crack eggs and mix in 1/2 cup sour cream, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Add eggs to pan. Scramble eggs.

3.) Remove eggs from heat and add pepper jack cheese, roasted red peppers, green onions, cilantro, and hot sauce to taste.

4.) Fold together warm tortillas in microwave. Place about 1/4 cup egg mixture in each tortilla and roll into a cylinder. Place the rolled tortillas on a baking sheet, seam side down, not touching. Spray tops with cooking spray.

5.) Bake 15 minutes, or until edges are golden and crisp.

6.) While baking, combine 1 1/2 cups sour cream, lime juice, chipotle chili powder, and salt. Stir and store in fridge. Remove taquitos from oven, let cool, and serve with sauce.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Lucky Lemony Coins

Cookies don't last long in our house. Both my husband and I have a great love for sweet treats, and when a girl spends the majority of her day in an apartment with a cookie jar full of yummy, gooey, chocolaty cookies... it just doesn't end well. For the cookies that is.

So once again, our cookie jar is empty.

So I turned to my recipes and cookbooks to find a recipe for the next delicious cookie that would tempt me. Which is how I came upon these lucky lemony coins. For my bridal shower, one of my friends gave us Crate and Barrel's jar of cookie cutters, and Rose Dunnington's "The Year of the Cookie" cookbook. I had yet to make anything out of this cookbook, even though the pictures of each type of cookie look amazing.

Now I've made a lot of chocolate chip and peanut butter cookies, and I wanted a break. So I flipped past each similar cookie until I came upon these darling cookies with one of my favorite ingredients: lemon!

These were fun to make, and I got to use my brand new hand mixer! (Birthday gift from my mom.) These cookies also don't contain any eggs, so feel free to taste a bit of the cookie dough. (I know I did.)

I think I rolled the cookie dough snake out a bit too thin because I ended up with a lot more then 50 cookies... which is what the recipe yielded. I think I have about 70. But, they are tiny and cute and perfect!


2 sticks (1 cup) butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
zest of 1 big lemon, or 2 little lemons
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 cups flour, sifted
yellow sparkle sugar (I had to use green as Kroger didn't carry yellow :( )

1.) Cream the softened butter with the sugar, zest, and salt. Use the rubber spatula to scrape down the beaters and side of the bowl.

2.) Dump the flour into the bowl with the butter mixture. Use your fingertips to rub the flour into the butter. (The hand motion is like the gesture that means "money.")

3.) Squish the crumbly dough together until it forms a ball. Dump the ball of dough onto the board, and knead it several times. Divide the dough in half, and shape each half into a ball. Put the balls back in the mixing bowl.

4.) Wipe any stray clumps of dough off the board. Sprinkle a few tablespoonfuls of yellow sparkle sugar on the board. Roll one of the dough balls into a long, sugarcoated snake, about 1 inch in diameter. Wrap the snake in plastic. Do the same thing with the other half of dough. Freeze the snake for half an hour.

5.) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Unwrap one of the chilled dough snakes and put it on the board. Cut the dough into 1/4-inch thick slices. Put them on the cookie sheet1/2 inch apart. Repeat with the rest of the dough.

6.) Bake the cookies 8 to 10 minutes, until they look dry on top, but are still pale. Use oven mitts to take the cookie sheet out of the oven. These little cookies are very delicate, so don't try to move them until they cool.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Lemon Shrimp with Parmesan Rice

Living with a vegetarian can be hard at times as I don't get to eat a lot of meat- unless I want to make two separate meals. I had been craving a seafood dish for awhile, and came across this recipe in my file box. I clipped it out of a magazine and don't remember which one, but it is delicious! It's very fast, and full of flavor. Lemon adds a great tang to the shrimp- after this meal, I'm hoping to find more recipes that incorporate lemon.


2 cups chicken broth
2 cups uncooked instant rice
1 pound uncooked medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 cup chopped green onions
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

1.) In a small saucepan, bring the broth to a boil. Stir in the rice; cover and remove from the heat. Let stand for 5 minutes.

2.) Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook the shrimp, onions, and garlic in butter and oil over medium heat for 5-6 minutes or until the shrimp turn pink. Stir in the lemon juice and pepper.

3.) Stir the Parmesan cheese and parsley into the rice; serve with shrimp.

Yield: 4 servings

Monday, July 12, 2010

Mexicali Chop with Crunchy Tortilla Strips

One of my favorite things to order when going out to eat is a nice big salad. Some people may think that a salad doesn't qualify as a main course, but to me, give me a bowl full of lettuce, chopped chicken, veggies, shredded cheese, and dressing and I am one happy girl.

We've been going through a heat wave in Southern Ohio, staying the in the low 90s, and lots of humidity. So when I came across a recipe for a Mexican style salad in my new Vegetarian Times, I knew I had to try it out.

This salad is minus the meat (obviously), but for meat lovers you can easily add chicken, steak, shrimp, etc. This salad reminded me of one of my favorite main course salads that I often get at Cheesecake Factory. The crunch tortilla strips put this over the top and added a little spiciness. The dressing was what made this salad though- without it, it would be just lettuce, beans, and veggies.

So try this out next time you need something light on a hot summer's night!

Tortilla Strips:

1 1/2 teaspoons canola oil
3 6-inch corn tortillas
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon maple crystals or sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt


1/2 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced (2 teaspoons)
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup lime juice
1/4 cup chopped green onion
1/4 cup cilantro leaves
pinch cayenne pepper


1 head romaine lettuce, sliced (8 cups)
2 medium tomatoes, chopped (2 cups)
1 avocado, diced (1 cup)
3 celery stalks, sliced (1 cup)
1 cucumber, seeded and diced (1 cup)
1 cup, fresh or frozen, thawed corn kernels
3/4 cup cooked pinto beans
1/2 cup jarred roasted red bell peppers, rinsed, drained, and sliced
1/3 cup finely chopped red onion

1.) To make Tortilla Strips: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Brush oil on tortillas. Cut in half, then cut into 1/8-inch wide strips. Spread on baking sheet. Combine chili powder, maple crystals, and salt in bowl. Sprinkle chili powder mixture over strips. Bake 15 minutes, or until crisp. Cool.

2.) To make Dressing: heat oil, garlic, cumin, coriander, sugar, and salt in saucepan 2 to 3 minutes over low heat, or until garlic begins to sizzle.

3.) Blend remaining Dressing ingredients with garlic oil in blender until smooth.

4.) Toss together all Salad ingredients with Tortilla Strips and 1/4 cup Dressing.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

4th of July Brownies

For my birthday recently, my mom got me a hand mixer (which we really needed- we found that out when we tried to whip eggs into peaks with a spoon...) and an awesome baking cookbook: Baking From My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan. I immediately started perusing the recipes for something I could make. This cookbook has all kinds of recipes for cookies, cakes, pies, brownies, scones, muffins, breads, etc.

When my mother in law asked me to bring brownies to our 4th of July celebration in Columbus, I immediately went to my new cookbook and decided to make Classic Brownies.

They were super easy to make, and turned out delicious!

Classic Brownies

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 5 pieces
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder (optional, but really good)
1/4-1/2 teaspoon salt (according to taste)
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup chopped walnuts

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with foil, butter the foil and place the pan on a baking sheet.

Set a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Put the butter in the bowl, top with the chopped chocolates and stir occasionally until the ingredients are just melted-you don't want them to get so hot that the butter separates. Remove the bowl from the pan of water.

With a whisk, stir in the sugar. Don't be concerned when your smooth mixture turns grainy. One by one, whisk in the eggs. Add the vanilla and give the ingredients a vigorous whisking before gently stirring in the espresso, if you're using it, salt and flour; stir only until incorporated. Switch to a rubber spatula and fold in the chopped walnuts.

Scrape the batter into the pan and smooth the top with a spatula.

Bake the brownies 30 to 33 minutes, or until the top is dull and a thin knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool the brownies to room temperature.

When the brownies are completely cool, turn out onto a rack, peel away the foil and invert onto a cutting board. Cut into 16 squares, each a scant 2 inches on a side.