Monday, August 29, 2011

Chinese Bourbon Chicken

My friend Glenn is a fellow foodie who loves to try new dishes and then post photos of them on Facebook. As soon as I saw this one I immediately asked for the recipe, because, seriously, doesn't that look yummy???? I'm not sure where he got the recipe, but like I always say, he's the one who brought it to me, so he's the one who gets the credit! It's quick and easy and it's ready in little more time than it takes to cook a delicious bed of rice. Big thanx to Glenn for the recipe, and also for the photo!!!

2 lbs boneless chicken, cut into bite sized pieces
2 tbs peanut oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp fresh ginger, minced
3/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup apple juice
1/3 cup light brown sugar
2 tbs ketchup
1 tbs cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup bourbon

Heat oil in a large skillet.
Add chicken pieces and cook until lightly browned.
Remove Chicken.
Add remaining ingredients, heating over medium Heat until well mixed and dissolved.
Add chicken and bring to a hard boil.
Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
Serve over hot rice

Tip from Joey:
For extra flavorful rice, use chicken stock instead of water.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Peach Crumb Bars

 I recently got an email from my sister, Cathy, asking me for menu ideas for her book club get together. She said she was crunched for time and had no time to run to the store. Basically, she wanted something that was quick and easy, using simple ingredients that she had on hand. She also had some fresh ripe peaches that she was hoping to use. At first, I suggested making my Fresh Blackberry and Mango Galette and substituting peaches, but she said she was hoping for "a small picky uppy thing" rather than something that is served on a plate. So I immediately googled a few things and quickly found this recipe. It's from another food blog called As I told Cathy, it's one of those "How can this not be good?" recipes, and it has the same technique as the White Chocolate Raspberry Oatmeal Squares, which are super easy to make. Perfect!
 Cathy said the bars were a HUGE success! It was only AFTER everyone devoured them that someone said "oh, maybe we should have taken a picture of them so your brother can put them on his website!' LOL No worries, it gave me an excuse to make them! And now here they are. Thanx to Cathy and her book club for being recipe testers! And thanx to Michelle, The Browned Eyed Baker, for sharing such a fabulous recipe!

For the Dough:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold
1 egg, lightly beaten

For the Filling:
5 cups diced or sliced peaches (about 7 peaches, peeled)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a 9×13-inch baking pan.
2. For the Dough: In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Use a pastry blender to cut in the butter, and then the egg. The dough will be crumbly. Pat half of the dough into the prepared pan. Place the pan and the remainder of the dough in the refrigerator while you prepare the filling.
3. For the Filling: Place the diced (or sliced) peaches in a large bowl and sprinkle with lemon juice. Mix gently. In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Pour over the peaches and mix gently.
4. Spread the peach mixture evenly over the crust. Crumble the remaining dough over the peach layer.
5. Bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until the top is slightly brown. Cool completely before cutting into squares.

Tips from Joey:
Instead of cutting the butter into the dough with a pastry blender, I just threw everything into a food processor and pulsed it until the dough came together.
I also added WAY more cinnamon to the peach mixture because, frankly, you can never have too much cinnamon. I also added a touch more sugar because my peaches were a little bit tart.
My oven bakes hot, so I only baked them for a half hour. Seriously, its a wonder I can get anything to turn out with that oven. But I digress.... Just be sure to check them so you don't over bake them!
Instead of serving it as a "picky uppy thing", serve it warm out of the oven on a plate, topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Substitute any other fresh fruits for the peaches. (or any combination of fruits). Cathy made them a second time, and didn't have enough peaches, so she added blueberries to make up the difference. Deelish! I bet mangoes or apples would also be fabulous.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Ok, I know I already posted a recipe for Red Velvet Cake, but it's always such a hit, I figured why not do another one? As I always say, more is more, right? So when I was asked to make cupcakes for a recent event, I thought I'd turn to Miss Paula Deen and give her recipe a try.
 SWOOSH! They were gone in no time flat! Everyone loved them! What is it about red velvet cake that always pulls everyone in? It seems that any time I mention red velvet cake, everyone begins to "oooh" and "ahhh" and "mmm". It happens every time! I guess everyone loves the velvety moist texture of the cake and of course the cream cheese icing puts it over the top!
LOVE it! Thanx, Miss Paula.

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 tablespoons red food coloring
1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 (12-cup) muffin pans with cupcake papers.
In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder. In a large bowl gently beat together the oil, buttermilk, eggs, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla with a handheld electric mixer. Add the sifted dry ingredients to the wet and mix until smooth and thoroughly combined.
Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake tins about 2/3 filled. Bake in oven for about 20 to 22 minutes, turning the pans once, half way through. Test the cupcakes with a toothpick for doneness. Remove from oven and cool completely before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting:

1 pound cream cheese, softened
2 sticks butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
Chopped pecans and fresh raspberries or strawberries, for garnish

In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla together until smooth. Add the sugar and on low speed, beat until incorporated. Increase the speed to high and mix until very light and fluffy.
Garnish with chopped pecans and a fresh raspberry or strawberry. Frost the cupcakes with a butter knife or pipe it on with a big star tip.

Joey's Tips:
I like to use a 1/4 cup measure to fill my cupcakes. They're a little more full so they bake up a little higher, plus you get that muffin top thing goin' on, which gives you a better surface on which to pile the frosting. (Don't forget to be generous with the frosting!!!)
I must confess, I don't use Miss Paula's frosting recipe. The Cream Cheese Frosting that I like uses the same ingredients, but has a slightly different sugar to butter/cream cheese ratio and it's a bit softer and creamier.
I like to use salted butter because it really brings out the flavor of the butter and cream cheese.
Instead of garnishing with pecans or fresh berries, I just simply sprinkled them with red decorating sugar. (You know, the kind you'd use for decorating Christmas cookies.)

Monday, August 8, 2011

Orange Chocolate Cheesecake Bars

 Whenever we have a family occasion, we collectively decide on a menu, and then we decide who's gonna make what. The texts and emails start flying, all with the same question: "What do you want me to make?"
So, when I asked Jeanie what she wanted me to make for Emma's shower, she told me she had a recipe in mind that she wanted me to try. It's from a book of recipes that all use a 9x13 pan and it's called The Pan That Can. How fun is that?
 And here we are! It has a few extra steps to it, but it's not difficult to make and SO YUMMY. It has the same vibe as those chocolate know.. the ones you slam on the table to break apart. So, thanx to my Jeanie for finding the recipe. It was a big hit and definitely a keeper! They're perfect for everything from elegant brunch to a huge birthday bash.
You should try 'em, and then let me know how you liked 'em!

1 1/4 cups finely crushed graham crackers
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 c melted butter

3 8oz pkgs cream cheese
1 1/4 c. brown sugar
3 eggs
3 tbs frozen orange juice concentrate thawed
1 tbs finely grated orange peel
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
6 oz semi sweet chocolate, cut up
2 tbs butter

1 1/2 c sour cream
1/3 cup sugar
ground cinnamon

Heat oven to 350F
Line a 9x13 pan with foil, extending foil over edges of pan. Lightly grease foil. Set aside.
In a mixing bowl, stir together crust ingredients until well combined. Press evenly into bottom of prepared pan. Chill the crust while you make the filling.
In a large mixing bowl, beat softened cream cheese and brown sugar on medium speed until well mixed. Add eggs one at a time, beating just until combined after each addition. Stir in thawed orange juice concentrate, orange peel, vanilla, and salt. Pour one cup of cheese filling into a medium bowl. Set both bowls aside.
Place chocolate and butter in a nonmetallic bowl. Microwave on high, 20 seconds at a time, stirring after each interval until melted and smooth. Stir chocolate mixture into reserved cup of cream cheese filling. Carefully spread chocolate filling evenly over graham cracker crust. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven. Carefully pour remaining cheese filling over baked chocolate layer, spreading evenly. Bake 40-45 minutes or just until mixture is set in the center. Remove from oven, cool for 30 minutes in pan on wire rack. Meanwhile, in a small bowl combine sour cream and sugar. Cover and let stand at room temp while bars cool. Gently spread sour cream mixture onto bars. Cool for one hour more. Cover and chill for at least 4 hours or up to 24 hours before cutting into squares. Sprinkle finished squares with cinnamon.

When I made this, it was late at night, so I kinda skipped the steps that involve waiting for it to cool, then doing the topping, then cooling for another hour, etc. I just let it cool completely out of the oven, then topped it with the sour cream, then let it chill in the fridge uncovered for several hours until I was ready to serve. Oh, btw, if you clean your knife by dipping it into hot water before each cut, and use a straight down chopping motion, you'll get much pretty squares.
I didn't have the concentrated orange juice, so I just used 1/2 tsp orange extract + 3 tbs fresh orange juice. I also used chocolate chips instead of the bars of semisweet chocolate. No chopping required!
The original recipe instructed to melt the butter and chocolate in a saucepan, but I think it's easier (also less likely to scorch the chocolate) if you use the microwave as I've instructed above. I also took the liberty of rearranging and rephrasing the recipe to make it a little easier to understand.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Nancy's Simple Mango Puree

 My fabulous friend and former wife, Nancy, shared this recipe on Facebook. Like I always say, I'm not sure where she got the recipe, but since she's the one who brought it to me, she's the one who gets the credit! It's so easy, there's practically nothing to it. As soon as I read it, I knew that I needed to steal it an officially share it with everyone. Sharing is caring!
Thanx Nance!

2 mangoes, diced
2 tbs water
1/3 sugar

Simply place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Serve it over plain Greek yogurt, use it to top a dessert, add to a smoothie, or just eat it plain.

Joey's Tips:
I'm seeing this poured over a slice of pound cake, cheesecake, a scoop of vanilla ice cream, or even a delicate panna cotta. You could even use it as a base to make a fabulous vinaigrette.
When you buy fresh mangoes, be sure you get the ones that are mostly red and give a little when you press with your thumb. If they're green, they're not ripe yet. You can speed the ripening process by placing unripe mangoes in a paper bag and storing at room temperature for a day or two.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Joey's Tuna Pomodoro

 This is a little something I threw together when Glen came over for dinner. I was feeling culinarily creative, and this was the result.
 Very often, when I decide to create a recipe, I don't get it right on the very first try. Usually, I'll taste my first attempt and say it needs this or it needs that. But this time, I think I nailed it perfectly on the very first go. I loved it from the first bite! I was going for something that was uncomplicated and fresh, and that's exactly what this is. The tuna is rich without hindering the sweetness of the tomatoes and the parsley adds the perfect garden freshness. It's light and healthy, perfect for a summer lunch, and it only takes minutes to prepare. It's also sophisticated enough to serve for an elegant dinner. You could even omit the pasta and serve it as a first course over slices of toasted baguette, much like a Bruschetta. Whoda thunk that something as simple as tuna and tomatoes could be so fabulous?!?
Hope you like it!

1 can Italian tuna, packed in olive oil
1 small onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 pints fresh grape tomatoes
a handful of flat leaf parsley, chopped
a few glugs of olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 lb. angel hair pasta

Place a large pot of salted water over high heat. While you're waiting for it to boil, make the tuna sauce.
Drain the oil from the tuna into a saucepan. Place over medium heat and add onions and garlic. Gently saute until the onions are softened. Slice each tomato in half then add to the pan. Give it a good stir. Now add the tuna and parsley. Finish the sauce with a little more olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Throw the pasta into the water, which is probably boiling by now. Cook it for about 2 minutes. Drain pasta and toss with the sauce. Serve immediately.

Feel free to substitute any kind of pasta or any kind of tomatoes. Rather have penne? Perfect! If the cherry tomatoes look better than the grape tomatoes, or if you happen to have a ton of extra tomatoes from your garden, go for it!
When you make the sauce, if it seems like there won't be enough for the pasta, add a little splash or two of the pasta water or a few extra glugs of olive oil or even white wine. Let it simmer for a minute or two before you toss with the pasta.