The culinary ramblings of a picky eater.

Friday, December 31, 2010

Southwestern Eggrolls with Avocado Sour Cream Dipping Sauce

I have seen versions of these done several different ways and in many different places. This is my version, and I came up with a yummy dipping sauce to go with it. These are pretty easy to make, and they're so.good. You can do these as appetizers at a party, or you can make them as a meal, which is what I did. Either way, they are amazing.

I will make a confession. I forgot something in mine, so the pictures won't really show that one ingredient, but just pretend that it's in there. It's the cheese. I know. It's sad that I could forget the cheese, but I did. So...don't forget the cheese. I'll give the recipe the way it's supposed to be, so just follow it. :) Yum!

For eggrolls-
-1 cup cooked, shredded chicken (I put mine in my food processor)
-1 can whole kernel corn, drained
-1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
-1 cup frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
-1.5 cups shredded cheddar cheese
-1 tablespoon onion powder
-2 tablespoons garlic
-1 teaspoon cumin
-1 teaspoon chili powder
-1 package soft taco sized tortillas

For Dipping Sauce-
-1 avocado
-3 tablespoons sour cream
-1 tablespoon garlic powder
-1/2 tablespoon onion powder
-1/4 teaspoon cumin
-1/4 teaspoon dried cilantro

In a large bowl, combine the chicken, corn, beans, spinach, cheese, onion powder, garlic powder, cumin, and chili powder.
Stir to evenly distribute all the ingredients.

Preheat the oven the 400 degrees. Wrap the tortillas in damp paper towels and microwave for about 10-20 seconds. This makes them pliable. Scoop some of the chicken mixture into the center of the tortilla.
Fold two sides of the tortilla in toward the center,
then roll it into a burrito type shape
and place it seam side down on a greased baking sheet. Repeat for all the tortillas.
Spray cooking spray on the tops of the rolled tortillas, so that the whole tortilla roll has a light coating of oil (the greased baking sheet on the bottom, cooking spray on top).

Place the baking sheet into the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Turn the eggrolls over and bake another 10 minutes. The tortillas should get crispy and slightly browned.
If they don't get crispy enough, you can stick them under the broiler on low for a couple minutes to crisp them up. Remove from the oven and serve hot. I always cut them in half. It makes them a little easier to handle in my opinion.

While the eggrolls are baking, make the dipping sauce. To start, cut the avocado in half, working your knife around the whole avocado around the pit. To separate the halves, gently hold the avocado in both hands and twist gently.
One side should break free of the pit and allow you to pull apart the halves. To remove the pit from the other half, stick your knife blade into the pit,
then gently twist it until it breaks free.
Discard the pit. To scoop out the avocado, take a spoon and work it right inside the peel all the way around the half.
The inside should come out in relatively one piece if you do it right. Discard the peel. Roughly chop the inside of the avocado and place it in a food processor. Process it until it's relatively smooth. Add the sour cream and the seasonings and process it until it's well mixed together.
Serve with the hot eggrolls as a dipping sauce. Enjoy!

Homemade Cheeseburger Pizza

As I have said before, my husband and I pretty much eat pizza every week. I enjoy taking the night off from cooking every once in a while, and sometimes we'll order a pizza from somewhere, or I'll make a frozen one, since it's quick and easy. But, there are times, like this week, where I really want to make one of my own. I try to come up with something my husband and I haven't had, or something that sounds interesting, or...whatever floats my boat that day. This time, it was a cheeseburger pizza. You may have had "hamburger" on your pizza before, but this pizza actually tasted like a cheeseburger. No lie. My husband even commented on it. It was almost like a brain trick. Your eyes saw a flat disc with toppings, your mouth tasted a cheeseburger, and your brain didn't know which to believe. But it was awesome. And, since it was tasted better than a delivery pizza would have, of course. Haha. Anyway, I hope you try this and enjoy it. My husband and I did.

-1 pizza crust (I bought a ready made one from the store that was about 12 or 14 inches, but use whatever you want, although the "plainer" the dough/crust, the better. Italian spices/garlic, etc, wouldn't be good for this pizza)
-1/2 cup of PLAIN tomato sauce (no spices)
-1/4 to 1/2 lb of ground beef, depending on how meaty you want your pizza
-1/2 teaspoon onion powder
-1/2 tablespoon ketchup
-1/2 tablespoon mustard
-1 teaspoon of worceistershire sauce
-1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese (or more if you like lots of cheese...whatever)

In a medium sized bowl, mix the ground beef, onion powder, worceistershire sauce, ketchup, and mustard.
You may be thinking, "That sounds like the grossest combination ever." Let me explain. When I make hamburgers at home, I usually make the beef patties with worceistershire sauce and onion powder. I LOVE the way they turn out. So I thought, "Self, making this pizza will be like making a burger, but in smaller chunks and spread out on a pizza crust. Just season the meat as you would a regular burger, and it will taste like a cheeseburger once you add the cheese to the pizza." And of course, mustard and ketchup are typical condiments, but topping a pizza with mustard and ketchup sounded...dangerous. So I just added it to the meat. Voila! It was a wise decision. Trust me. I used my hands to kneed it all together.
Set that meat mixture aside for the moment.

Preheat the oven according to the pizza crust directions. If it needs to be half-baked before you put on the toppings, then do that. Otherwise, pour the plain tomato sauce onto the crust and spread it evenly into a thin layer.
Why plain sauce, you ask? Well...a cheeseburger doesn't typically have garlic, Italian herbs and spices, or Italian cheeses in it. I figured a regular Italian seasoned tomato sauce would completely ruin the cheeseburgery-ness of the pizza, but it needed a sauce. So, I went with plain tomato sauce. Kinda like a non-vinegary ketchup, if you will.

Next, roll the beef into tiny little meatballs (about 1/2-3/4 inch in diameter)
and place evenly across the pizza.
Make sure they're all approximately the same size so they cook evenly. If you're too lazy for this (which I might be next took me a little while), then just pinch off a small amount and and place it on the pizza.

When the pizza is covered in as much meat as you want, sprinkle the cheese evenly over the top.
Bake it according to the crust package directions, or until the crust is golden, the meat is cooked through, and the cheese is melted and bubbly and yummy.
Woohoo! Enjoy! Yum.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Chocolate Dipped Pretzels

I love salty and sweet together. Trail mix with peanuts, chocolate candies, pretzels, raisins. French fries dipped into a chocolate milk shake (trust me. it's amazing). Chocolate and peanut butter in all forms. It's just yummy. So obviously, chocolate covered pretzels are right up there. They can also be an amazing and easy gift to give people for the holidays. Just dip pretzel rods in chocolate, sprinkle on some cute candy or sprinkles, and put into some plastic pretzel bags (you can find them at craft stores that sell confection containers and such). Tie a few together with a festive ribbon, and there you go.

So I'm just showing you what mine turned out to look like. I forgot to take pictures while I was dipping them, so you just get to see the finished product. Oops. But at least the directions will help guide you, and the pictures of the finished pretzels will help let you know you got it right. Haha. Have fun!

-2 cups (or more) of chocolate chips or candy melts
-2 tablespoons of shortening
-various sprinkles, candies, etc to make them pretty (you can also use a different type of chocolate or candy to drizzle them, as I did for some of mine)
-lots and lots of pretzel rods (I used about 1 and a half bags)

Lay out some wax paper on a baking sheet. This will be where your pretzels will rest to harden the chocolate.

In a small-ish microwave safe bowl (I used my 4 cup pyrex measuring cup), melt the chocolate with the shortening. To do this, pour the chocolate chips into the bowl, then add the shortening. Microwave for about a minute, then remove and stir. Continue heating this way until the chocolate is melted and the shortening has been well incorporated. It may take a few minutes, but DON'T OVERHEAT THE CHOCOLATE. It will be NASTY!

Once the chocolate is melted, dip a pretzel rod into the yummy goodness about half way to 2/3 of the way up the pretzel. You may need to tilt your bowl to allow the chocolate to come up that far, twirling the pretzel toward the side of the bowl so you get the coverage you need. Remove the pretzel from the chocolate and allow the excess to drip off. Lay the pretzel carefully on the wax-paper lined baking sheet, and sprinkle with your candy or sprinkles while the chocolate is still wet. Repeat this process until the baking sheet is full. Place the whole thing in the refrigerator until the chocolate has set, approximately 10 minutes.

Remove he pretzels from the fridge and place them individually into the pretzel bags.
I used the twist-ties that came with the bags to seal the pretzels in their little individual bags, then used a pretty ribbon to tie three of them together.
Aren't they cute? I printed out little sticker labels to put on them too.
So fun!

You could adapt this to any holiday-do pink and red sprinkles for Valentines day, do pastel colors for the spring and Easter, red white and blue for 4th of July and other patriotic holidays, black and white for formal occasions(or just do the different colors of chocolate drizzle trick). The possibilities are endless. I used white vanilla flavored candy melts for about a third of my pretzels, if you're not a huge chocolate fan. So have fun! I hope this gives you a great idea for the future. Yum.

Spinach, Bacon,and Cheese Appetizer

Around the holidays, I'm usually asked to bring an appetizer to at least one get together. I get tired of making the same stuff, so this year, I decided to experiment and make something new. I also get tired of eating only sweets at parties. It seems like that tends to be what people bring. Which is fine...but I like a little savory with my sweet sometimes. Hence this little appetizer experiment. I think it turned out well, and there was not much left on my plate when I brought it home, so others must have liked it a little bit too. Yesssssssss.

So...this is super simple, and I will make small changes next time to make these a little prettier, but they worked for this time. Here we go!

-2 sheets of frozen puff pastry
-1 package (1 lb) of bacon, cooked and crumbled (you might not need all of it, but close)
-1 cup of frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
-1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Lay out the puff pastry and let it thaw according to package directions. I used that time to cook and crumble my bacon, then to thaw and drain my spinach. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. When everything is ready to go, cut the puff pastry sheets in half. On each piece of pastry, spread a thin layer of the spinach on one half of the sheet, leaving a clean edge so you can seal it later. Next, add a layer of bacon.
Finally, add the cheese. Moisten the edge of the puff pastry (this will help it stick). Carefully fold the pastry in half over the filling and seal it with a fork, like you would a pie or pastry. Using a sharp knife, cut thick slices (about 1.5 to 2 inches) from the now filled pastry sheets. I tried to kind of pinch the edges of each slice closed as I cut them. This is where I have room for improvement next time. I will probably cut the pastry before filling it next time to make neater little pastries. But it was ok. As you cut the slices, place them on a baking sheet, leaving at least an inch between the pastries. When the sheet is full, bake them in the preheated oven until the pastry is golden brown and crispy, approximately 10-15 minutes. These are amazing served warm, but they're pretty good at room temperature, too, so have at them either way. When I make these again at some point in the future, I will update or create a new post to let you know what I did differently. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Exciting news!

I held off on making this little announcement until after the holidays for one reason...I was giving this as a gift to a lot of people. haha.

BUT! I can now disclose it. :) I MADE A COOKBOOK! Looky!

Yes, it's true. If you are at all interested, you can follow this link and preview the book, then order it if you are so inclined. I hope you have a had a wonderful Christmas and I wish you a happy New Year. I will be posting more soon, since I am no longer traveling all around the country for the holidays. Sorry for the delay! Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Chicken Tortellini Soup

The high today was 27 or something ridiculous. Yesterday I think it was in the 30's. Guess what I made for dinner? You guessed it! Soup! I mean, c'mon. What else can you eat when it's cold like this? (Don't answer that. Let me have my moment. haha.)

This soup of my favorites of my own creations, ever. I was impressed. This was a completely random experiment soup. I wanted it to have tortellini and chicken. Other than that, I kinda just went...hmmm...that sounds good. Sure. Toss it in there. And it worked MAGNIFICENTLY. This is not always the case, but, hey, every once in a while you gotta get something right, huh? Haha. And by the way...this is super duper easy. I mean, really. And it made A LOT. Family feeder for sure. I would say 6 people could eat this pretty easily. Woohoo! So here we go.

-6 cups chicken broth
-4 cups water
-2 chicken breasts (boneless and skinless, of course), cubed
-1 lb fresh refrigerated tortellini (in the deli section at the grocery store)
-1.5 cups frozen chopped spinach
-1 cup diced tomatoes
-1 tablespoon onion powder
-2 tablespoons garlic powder
-1/2 cup grated parmesan
-1/2 cup grated mozzarella
-2 cups cream, 1/4 cup reserved
-2 tablespoons flour

In a large pot, bring the broth and water to a boil over high heat. Add the chicken and let it cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the spinach and tomatoes (no need to thaw or drain the spinach...just toss the frozen stuff straight in the pot). Let the soup cook another 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the garlic and onion powders and stir to incorporate. Add the tortellini and let cook about 5 more minutes. The tortellini won't be totally done, but that's ok since you're not totally done with the soup. :) Add the cheeses and stir to incorporate. Let the cheeses start to melt, stirring frequently to keep it from clumping up on the bottom or the pot or on the side, or whatever. Reduce the heat to medium/medium low. In a small bowl, mix the reserved 1/4 cup of cream with the two tablespoons of flour. Stir slowly into the pot. This will help thicken the soup slightly. Add the rest of the cream, stirring continuously as you pour it in. Continue stirring occasionally to let the cream incorporate with everything else. The tortellini will continue to cook too. Reduce the heat to medium low. Let the soup simmer, stirring occasionally, until it has thickened slightly. Serve hot with yummy bread, if desired. Oh yeah. Enjoy!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Chicken Veggie Rice Soup

Yes, yet another soup. It is cold here. Haha.

I am trying to eat relatively healthily to fend off winter colds. I don't know if it will work, but I'm attempting it. Haha. So this soup is chicken, veggies, and rice in a simple chicken broth. Can't be bad, right? And it was really easy to make, so it would be an easy week day meal, too. And I'm pretty sure it would feed at least 4 people, maybe 6, depending on how much those people eat and if there was anything else served with it. You could probably add some potatoes too, to make it even heartier and more filling. But yeah. Here we go.

-5 cups chicken broth
-5 cups water
-3 chicken breasts, cubed
-1 bag (1 lb) frozen veggies (I used mixed veggies-green beans, corn, carrots, peas)
-1.5 cups uncooked rice

In a large pot, bring the broth and water to boil over high heat. Add the chicken pieces and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the frozen veggies and cook another 10 minutes or so. When the chicken and veggies are cooked through, add the rice and reduce the heat to medium/low. Let the soup simmer for another 10 minutes or so until the liquid has reduced slightly. Serve hot and yummy! Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Cranberry Glazed Chicken

As promised, a recipe using my Cranberry Relish.

This turned out a lot better than I expected. I wasn't really sure what to expect, I guess, having never tried this kind of thing before, but...I was impressed. My husband was pretty happy too, so...yay for that. Haha. If you already have the cranberry relish made, this is a really easy meal. I served it with seasoned rice and green bean casserole. So let's begin.

-approximately 1 cup cranberry relish
-boneless skinless chicken breasts (enough to feed everyone)

-1/2 cup uncooked instant rice per person
-1 cup chicken broth per cup of rice
-1 teaspoon garlic powder
-1 teaspoon onion powder
-1 teaspoon complimentary seasoning (I used a spice blend)

Green bean casserole:
-2 cans French cut green beans
-1 can cream of chicken soup (I despise mushrooms, so I never use cream of mushroom soup, which is the typical ingredient)
-1/2 cup milk
-1 can French fried onions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray. Place chicken breasts on the baking sheet and "glaze" with the cranberry relish. Basically, just pour enough on it to cover the chicken well. Cook in the oven for about 10 minutes. Remove from oven just long enough to re-glaze the chicken with the cranberry relish. Put the chicken back in the oven and continue cooking until cooked through, another 15-20 minutes or so.

While the chicken is cooking, mix together the soup and milk. Add the green beans and half the can of onions. Stir to evenly incorporate everything. Dump it all into a baking dish and top with the remaining onions. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

In a medium sized sauce pan, boil the chicken broth over high heat. Add the spices. Stir in the uncooked rice and remove from heat and cover. Let stand off the heat for about 5 minutes, until rice has absorbed the liquid.

Serve everything hot and yummy together. Enjoy!