green kale smoothies..

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Are you all as sick of food as I am?  I swear I eat way more during the Christmas Holidays than I do Thanksgiving and Halloween combined.  I think it’s because there are cookies, cakes and chocolate bark galore in my house this time of year.  As I’m typing this I am stuffed and almost in a food coma.  The kids and I went to Whole Foods tonight for a burrito because we were starved and I was too lazy to cook.  Note to self; NEVER go get a Whole Foods Burrito when you are starved.  First off, they are huge and honestly half of their burritos are the perfect portion and what we normally eat.  Well, as I said, we were starved, so we each decided to get a whole burrito rather than share, and we ate the whole thing (well, at least I did).  I regret that decision now because I am SO utterly stuffed!   I’m ready to get back to healthy eating and healthy portions, so I guess this would be the perfect time for me to write a smoothie post.

I have 2 go-to kale smoothies that I have been drinking for some time but both require grapes which are out of season now, (organic grapes anyway) so I have been experimenting with different Kale concoctions.  It’s been pretty easy actually, because I am use so use to the taste of kale now that I can eat it with just about anything.

This is not your run of the mill fluff smoothie.  This is truly a green smoothie and you will taste the kale in this.  I want to get the most greens in my smoothie, so I just add some fruit to take away the bitter taste of the kale.  Basically your just drinking fruits and veggies in this smoothie, as there is no added fluff or sugars. I also add 2 tablespoons of flax seed to my smoothie because of all the health benefits.  I will post the benefits for you below.

Omega-3 essential fatty acids, “good” fats that have been shown to have heart-healthy effects. Each tablespoon of ground flaxseed contains about 1.8 grams of plant omega-3s.

Lignans, which have both plant estrogen and antioxidant qualities. Flaxseed contains 75-800 times more lignans than other plant foods.

Fiber. Flaxseed contains both the soluble and insoluble types.

Kale & Mango Smoothie:

makes approx. 16 oz

  • 2-3 large dinosaur/lacinato kale leaves – stems removed – Note: if you’re new to kale, then add 1 to 2 leaves till you get use to the taste
  • 1 cup filtered water or coconut water - coconut water makes it a bit sweeter
  • 1 large banana
  • 1 cup frozen or fresh mango (if you’re using fresh mango then you will want to add some ice cubes) - I like the frozen mango from Trader Joes
  • Optional – 2 tablespoons flax seed

Note:  If your smoothie is thick then add more water to taste or if you like it colder then add more ice.  Experiment with your smoothies until you get them to a taste and consistency you enjoy.  If you want it to be sweeter then add more mango.  The key here is that you can add what and how much you want till it tastes good to you.  I like the taste of kale so I tend to add less citrus than most people.  You can’t do anything wrong here, it’s a smoothie.

I drink my smoothies for lunch with a piece of whole grain bread topped with peanut butter, or I have one in-between my morning workout and lunch.

Homemade Graham Crackers

graham

Ever thought of making homemade graham crackers?  The thought never crossed my mind until recently when we visited Modern Cookie Company, a local cookie shop in Larkspur.   We ordered these decadent s’mores on homemade graham crackers and we just about flipped out of our seats they were soo good.  The s’mores were so amazing that I wanted to turn this experience into something I could replicate at home, so I challenged myself to creating a version of my own.


Update:  I have posted the s’more recipe and you can see it here.  It’s wonderful because it’s something you can make year round.  It also has a unique topping.  Enticed are you?


I didn’t even have a clue as to what ingredients even went into a graham cracker so I googled homemade graham crackers and stumbled upon Tracey’s Culinary Adventures.   Her recipe looked easy enough and I like the fact that they had some whole-wheat flour in them as it made them seem a bit more nutritious that I had originally thought.  The other bonus was the ingredients required were all things I had on hand at home.  I wanted to replicate the graham crackers I ate at the cookie shop so I used a cookie cutter here instead of making them into the traditional graham cracker shape.  If you like the look of the traditional graham cracker then link over to Tracey’s site and she will show you how.  


These graham crackers are more buttery and cookie-like than the store-bought variety.  They are sweet but not to sweet.  Once you try this homemade cracker you may never go back to the store bought variety again.


Graham Crackers or should I say cookies:
Recipe adapted from Tracey’s Culinary Adventures
Makes about 36 cookie sized graham crackers

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey


In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, whole-wheat flour, salt, baking soda and cinnamon.  
In a large bowl, combine the butter, dark brown sugar, granulated sugar, and honey.  
Use either a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a hand held mixer.  Mix on medium speed until well combined, about 1 minute. 
Add the dry ingredients in 2 additions, letting the first fully incorporate before you add the second.

Lay out some plastic wrap on your table, place the dough on it, and roll it out into a large rectangle.
Roll up the flattened dough tightly in the plastic wrap, and refrigerate until chilled, about 30 minutes or up to 2 days.  I refrigerated mine for a day and it felt like a log when I took it out (don’t worry the dough will soften from the heat of your hands when rolling it out).
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. 
 
Unwrap the chilled dough, and on a lightly floured surface, roll it out till it’s about an 1/8 inch thick.   Note:  I didn’t roll out all the dough at once.  I rolled it out in smaller sections and then used my cookie cutter on each section. 
Please ignore the brown spots in the dough, that is just my brown sugar that didn’t incorporate.  Take your cookie cutter and cut away.
Keep re-rolling the scraps of dough and repeat the cutting process until all of your dough is gone.  Place all of the cut crackers on your two prepared baking sheets.  Note:  At this time you can top each cracker with some cinnamon and sugar or just sugar if you want.  I didn’t add anything as I knew I was going to make s’mores with most of them and didn’t want the added sugar.    

Bake the graham crackers, rotating the baking sheets halfway through, until they are golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes.  Oven cooking times vary, so just keep your eye on them after 12 minutes.  I had one batch that was perfect and another that was a bit crispier, but still great!
Cool crackers on a wire rack. 

 They were just too good that I had to take a bite :)
Store your graham crackers in an airtight container at room temperature and they should keep for a week.
I had just finished lunch so I helped myself to that glass of milk and 2 graham crackers.  
They were the perfect afternoon treat.  

chicken enchiladas with pumpkin sauce

chicken enchiladas with pumpkin sauce
chicken enchiladas with pumpkin sauceJohn and I have become huge fans of Mexican cooking since moving out to California 15 years ago.  The Bay area has so many amazing and authentic restaurants to choose from that we rarely cook Mexican at home.  Now that I am blogging about food, I realize that I need to get out of my comfort zone and try some new dishes.  I recently asked a friend what type of dish she would like to see on my blog next, and she said anything Mexican.  So I listened to her request and perused through my stack of cookbooks for some Mexican inspiration.  I stumbled upon this pumpkin enchilada recipe in my Everyday Food cookbook, and since it was fall, I decided to try it.  I love anything with pumpkin and this sauce looked so savory and rich.  I have always had pretty good success with recipes from Every Day Food, so I knew it would turn out decent (fingers crossed).


This dish had since become one of our family’s favorite dinners.  Every time I make it, I get a thumbs up from the family.  The corn tortillas add so much flavor and texture to the dish.  It’s the perfect blend of spices and flavor.  We love serving these alongside a nice big salad, like my kid friendly caesar salad.  

This is also another great make ahead meal.  This dish can be assembled up to 8 hours ahead of time; refrigerate, covered with tin foil or plastic wrap, until ready to bake (add a few minutes to the cooking time).  You can also make the sauce ahead of time and cover and refrigerate it. Cook and shred the chicken and add the scallions and salt to it and refrigerate and cover till you’re ready to assemble the enchiladas.  When its time to then make the enchiladas, all you have to do is warm up the tortillas and assemble the enchiladas.

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chicken enchiladas with pumpkin sauce:

Recipe from Everyday Food
makes 8 enchiladas

  • 2 decent sized chicken breasts, bone in, skin on or 1/2 of a rotisserie chicken
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin puree
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 jalapeno chile, quartered, ribs and seeds removed
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 8 corn tortillas (6-inch)
  • 3 tablespoons grape seed oil – or another high smoke-point oil such as peanut or canola oil
  • 1 1/2 cups grated sharp white cheddar cheese (6 ounces)
UPDATE:  I wanted to let you all know that I was at the grocery store today and noticed that the organic pumpkin (shown below ) now comes in BPA free cans!  Yippee!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place the chicken breasts skin side up on a rimmed baking sheet.  Rub them with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Roast the breasts for 35 to 40 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.  I always use my meat thermometer here and take the chicken out when it reaches an internal temperature of 165º.       Want to know a super cool trick for shredding chicken? I learned this step from my good friend Carolyn.  While the chicken breasts are still pretty warm, (you really want them warm to hot for this next step to work) remove the skin from chicken and then using a knife, slice the chicken breast off of the bone.

Get out your kitchen aid mixer, throw the chicken breasts into the bowl and put your paddle attachment on.

DSC_0005Turn the mixer on to speed 4 and in approximately 20 seconds you will have shredded chicken. Super cool right? I didn’t believe it either till I saw it with my own eyes.  See, now you can believe it as well because there’s proof in the below photo.

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Note: The original recipe called for 1/2 of a rotisserie chicken so you can also use that if you wish.  We’re not fans of dark meat in this house, so I always just roast up some breasts when a recipes calls for shredded or cubed chicken.  I learned this trick from the Barefoot.

Note:  For time efficiency, the chicken can be roasted and shredded up ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator until needed.  

Once your chicken has been shredded, it’s time to start assembling the enchiladas. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees for the enchiladas.

As you know, I like to prep all my ingredients ahead of time, so lets get prepping!  Slice up your scallions, peel your garlic, chop up your jalapeño chile and grate your fresh cheddar cheese (you can just buy the cheese grated as well).In a blender, add 2 1/2 cups water, the pumpkin puree, garlic, jalapeno, chili powder, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and puree until smooth (hold top firmly as blender will be quite full).

Pour 1 cup of the sauce in the bottom of a rectangular baking dish.  In a medium bowl, combine the shredded chicken and scallions and season generously with salt and pepper.Now its time to heat up your corn tortillas so they do not break apart while rolling them.  I learned this amazing trick from simply recipes and it works every time.
In a medium sized skillet at medium-high heat add 2-3 tablespoons of grape seed oil.
Add a tortilla to the pan.  Cook for 2-3 seconds, lift up the tortilla with a spatula, add another tortilla underneath.
Cook for 2-3 seconds, lift again, both tortillas, and add another tortilla underneath.
Repeat the process with all the tortillas, adding a little more oil if needed. This way you can brown and soften the tortillas without using a lot of fat. You do this process to develop the flavor of the tortillas. As the tortillas brown a little, remove from the pan one by one to rest on a paper towel, which absorbs any excess fat.
Lay the tortillas on work surface; mound chicken mixture on half of each tortilla, dividing evenly.  Its best to put the chicken to one side of your tortilla and roll it up from there.
Roll it up as you would a sleeping bag.
Roll up each tortilla into a tight log; place seam side down over the sauce in the baking dish.
 Pour the remaining sauce on top.
I didn’t use all of my sauce here as I thought there was too much.
I poured what I thought was enough sauce and then threw away the rest, so just use your judgement here.Finish by topping the enchiladas with the sharp cheddar cheese.Bake the enchiladas uncovered in a 425 degree oven until the cheese is golden and the sauce is bubbling, 25 to 30 minutes.  Let cool 5 minutes before serving.   
DSC_0099 Top your enchilada with a dollop of sour cream and serve with a vegetable of choice or a nice green salad.  I must admit it wasn’t the prettiest dish I’ve ever made, but it sure got rave reviews on the taste, and we ate it happily two nights in a row.Kids and hubby also requested that I make it again, very soon.
Adios Amigos!
chicken enchiladas with pumpkin sauce

Serving Size: makes 8 enchiladas

chicken enchiladas with pumpkin sauce

Ingredients

  • 2 decent sized chicken breasts, bone in, skin on or 1/2 of a rotisserie chicken
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 6 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin puree
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 jalapeno chile, quartered, ribs and seeds removed
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 8 corn tortillas (6-inch)
  • 3 tablespoons grape seed oil - or another high smoke-point oil such as peanut or canola oil
  • 1 1/2 cups grated sharp white cheddar cheese (6 ounces)

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the chicken breasts skin side up on a rimmed baking sheet. Rub them with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast the breasts for 35 to 40 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. I always use my meat thermometer here and take the chicken out when it reaches an internal temperature of 165º.

Want to know a super cool trick for shredding chicken? While the chicken breasts are still pretty warm, (you really want them warm to hot for this next step to work) remove the skin from chicken and then using a knife, slice the chicken breast off of the bone.

Get out your kitchen aid mixer, throw the chicken breasts into the bowl and put your paddle attachment on.

Turn the mixer on to speed 4 and in approximately 20 seconds you will have shredded chicken.

Note: The original recipe called for 1/2 of a rotisserie chicken so you can also use that if you wish. We're not fans of dark meat in this house, so I always just roast up some breasts when a recipes calls for shredded or cubed chicken. I learned this trick from the Barefoot.

Note: For time efficiency, the chicken can be roasted and shredded up ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator until needed.

Once your chicken has been shredded, it's time to start assembling the enchiladas. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees for the enchiladas.

As you know, I like to prep all my ingredients ahead of time, so lets get prepping! Slice up your scallions, peel your garlic, chop up your jalapeño chile and grate your fresh cheddar cheese (you can just buy the cheese grated as well).

In a blender, add 2 1/2 cups water, the pumpkin puree, garlic, jalapeno, chili powder, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and puree until smooth (hold top firmly as blender will be quite full).

Pour 1 cup of the sauce in the bottom of a rectangular baking dish.

In a medium bowl, combine the shredded chicken and scallions and season generously with salt and pepper.

Now its time to heat up your corn tortillas so they do not break apart while rolling them.

In a medium sized skillet at medium-high heat add 2-3 tablespoons of grape seed oil.

Add a tortilla to the pan. Cook for 2-3 seconds, lift up the tortilla with a spatula, add another tortilla underneath. Cook for 2-3 seconds, lift again, both tortillas, and add another tortilla underneath.

Repeat the process with all the tortillas, adding a little more oil if needed. This way you can brown and soften the tortillas without using a lot of fat. You do this process to develop the flavor of the tortillas. As the tortillas brown a little, remove from the pan one by one to rest on a paper towel, which absorbs any excess fat.

Lay the tortillas on work surface; mound chicken mixture on half of each tortilla, dividing evenly. Its best to put the chicken to one side of your tortilla and roll it up from there.

Roll it up as you would a sleeping bag. Roll up each tortilla into a tight log; place seam side down over the sauce in the baking dish.

Pour the remaining sauce on top.

I didn't use all of my sauce here as I thought there was too much.I poured what I thought was enough sauce and then threw away the rest, so just use your judgement here.

Finish by topping the enchiladas with the sharp cheddar cheese.

Bake the enchiladas uncovered in a 425 degree oven until the cheese is golden and the sauce is bubbling, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes before serving.

Top your enchilada with a dollop of sour cream and serve with a vegetable of choice or a nice green salad.

http://www.marinmamacooks.com/2011/12/chicken-enchiladas-with-pumpkin-sauce/

Robert’s Absolute Best Brownies

Robert's Absolute Best Brownies (1 of 1)-3
Robert's Absolute Best Brownies
I have searched high and low for a homemade brownie recipe that I like as much as the boxed Ghirardelli Double Chocolate Brownie Mix.  I have tried all sorts of homemade recipes for years and they have never lived up to those boxed brownies.  That is until today!  I found the BEST from scratch recipe thanks to David Lebovitz!  These brownies are dark, oh so dark, rich, moist, and chocolaty.  They are literally a chocolate lovers dream. Be forewarned, they are not your standard cake-like brownie, these are more fudge-like in consistency, but fudge-like in a good way, like a mouthwatering lick your fingers and plate sort of way.

Robert’s absolute best brownies:

Recipe from David Lebovitz’s Ready for Dessert

Printer friendly recipe at bottom of post

  • 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped – I used Ghirardelli 60% bittersweet cacao   
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large (or extra large eggs), at room temperature – FYI, I always use extra large eggs
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose-flour
  • 1 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips – I used my favorite 60% bittersweet chocolate chips from Ghirardelli 
  • You can also add in chopped walnuts or any nut of your choice – we tend not to add nuts to our sweets as my kiddos are not fans
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line the inside of an 8-inch (I used my 8-inch glass baking dish) or 9-inch square baking pan with 2 lengths of foil or parchment paper, positioning the sheets perpendicular to each other and allowing the excess to extend beyond the edges of the pan.  Then lightly butter the foil or parchment paper.  I always butter the bottom piece so that the top piece sticks to it.  
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Chop up and measure out your dark chocolate.  I love using these Ghirardelli bars because they are each 4oz (8oz total) so I do not have to measure anything.
These bars are also thin enough to break apart with my hand so I don’t have to actually chop them up with a knife. I break them apart in little pieces (I’m strong like bull) right over the heatproof bowl that I’m going to melt the butter and chocolate in (I do this before I set the bowl over the simmering water). It saves me a cutting board and knife to clean up. If you don’t have thin chocolate bars like these, then chop up your chocolate using a serrated knife. 
Tip: I always place some parchment paper on top of my cutting board when chopping up chocolate as it helps make clean up easier and you can always just lift and pour those small pieces of chocolate into your pan.  It’s easiest to chop chocolate with a serrated knife.
 Placed the chopped chocolate and butter into a heatproof bowl.  Set the bowl over a pan of simmering water, (make sure that the bowl doesn’t touch the water) and melt the butter and chocolate together, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula, until melted and smooth.
DSC_0009
DSC_0010Immediately remove the chocolate from the heat and pour the chocolate mixture into a large bowl (unless the bowl you’re using to melt the chocolate in is large).  Make sure you use a spatula here so you can get all the chocolate goodness into the bowl.
Add the 3/4 cup sugar and the 1 teaspoon vanilla to the melted chocolate and mix until combined.
 Using a whisk, add in the eggs 1 at a time until combined.
Add the flour and stir the batter energetically for 1 minute until the batter loses it graininess, becomes smooth and glossy, and pulls away a bit from the sides of the bowl. The batter will also lighten up a bit in color.
Note: This is a very important step!!  Make sure that your stir vigorously for 1 full minute or a bit more.  I suggest timing yourself as I did (see photo below).  By doing this step you will end up with a batter that’s rich, thick, satiny smooth, and glossy as can be and brownies that are rich and fudge-like.  
See, I really timed myself.  I’m going to warn you that you are going to have one tired arm after stirring vigorously for a minute, believe me!
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Using a spatula, gently fold in your chocolate chips.
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Scrape the batter into the prepared pan using a spatula to make it even.
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Bake until the center feels almost set and the edges are a bit firm, about 30-35 minutes.  Do not over bake.  In my oven, my brownies are done around 32-33 minutes. Note:  Ovens vary in temperature and baking times, so get to know your oven and know how long it takes to bake things.  If your oven tends to cook things faster, then check it before 30 minutes etc. 
 The first time I baked these, I honestly thought they were underdone, but that is the way they are supposed to be. They’re truly more of a fudge-like brownie than cake-like one.  They will also firm up as they sit and cool.

Let the brownies cool completely in the pan (about an hour or so) before lifting the foil or parchment paper and the block of brownies out of the pan. Peel the parchment paper and cut the brownies into squares and store them in a sealed container.See how rich and gooey they are?  Serve these up with a tall glass of milk and make sure you have a napkin handy.These brownies are finger and plate licking good!

I’ve made these brownies better by adding carmel and sea salt.  You have to try these salted caramel brownies.

salted caramel brownies

Robert’s Absolute Best Brownies

Robert’s Absolute Best Brownies

Ingredients

  • 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped - I used Ghirardelli 60% bittersweet cacao
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large (or extra large eggs), at room temperature - FYI, I always use extra large eggs
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose-flour
  • 1 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips - I used my favorite 60% bittersweet chocolate chips from Ghirardelli
  • You can also add in chopped walnuts or any nut of your choice - we tend not to add nuts to our sweets as my kiddos are not fans

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line the inside of an 8-inch (I used my 8-inch glass baking dish) or 9-inch square baking pan with 2 lengths of foil or parchment paper, positioning the sheets perpendicular to each other and allowing the excess to extend beyond the edges of the pan. Then lightly butter the foil or parchment paper. I always butter the bottom piece so that the top piece sticks to it.

Chop up and measure out your dark chocolate. I love using these Ghirardelli bars because they are each 4oz (8oz total) so I do not have to measure anything.

These bars are also thin enough to break apart with my hand so I don’t have to actually chop them up with a knife. I break them apart in little pieces right over the heatproof bowl that I’m going to melt the butter and chocolate in (I do this before I set the bowl over the simmering water). It saves me a cutting board and knife to clean up. If you don’t have thin chocolate bars like these, then chop up your chocolate using a serrated knife.

Tip: I always place some parchment paper on top of my cutting board when chopping up chocolate as it helps make clean up easier and you can always just lift and pour those small pieces of chocolate into your pan. It's easiest to chop chocolate with a serrated knife.

Placed the chopped chocolate and butter into a heatproof bowl. Set the bowl over a pan of simmering water, (make sure that the bowl doesn’t touch the water) and melt the butter and chocolate together, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula, until melted and smooth.

Immediately remove the chocolate from the heat and pour the chocolate mixture into a large bowl (unless the bowl you're using to melt the chocolate in is large enough). Make sure you use a spatula here so you can get all the chocolate goodness into the bowl.

Add the 3/4 cup sugar and the 1 teaspoon vanilla to the melted chocolate and mix until combined.

Using a whisk, add in the eggs 1 at a time until combined.

Add the flour and stir the batter energetically for 1 minute until the batter loses it graininess, becomes smooth and glossy, and pulls away a bit from the sides of the bowl. The batter will also lighten up a bit in color.

Note: This is a very important step!! Make sure that your stir vigorously for 1 full minute or a bit more. I suggest timing yourself. By doing this step you will end up with a batter that's rich, thick, satiny smooth, and glossy as can be and brownies that are rich and fudge-like. I'm going to warn you that you are going to have one tired arm after stirring vigorously for a minute, believe me!

Using a spatula, gently fold in your chocolate chips.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan using a spatula to make it even.Bake until the center feels almost set and the edges are a bit firm, about 30-35 minutes. In my oven, my brownies are done around 32-33 minutes. Do not over bake.

Note: Ovens vary in temperature and baking times, so get to know your oven and know how long it takes to bake things. If your oven tends to cook things faster, then check it before 30 minutes etc.

The first time I baked these, I honestly thought they were underdone, but that is the way they are supposed to be. They're truly more of a fudge-like brownie than cake-like one. They will also firm up as they sit and cool.

Let the brownies cool completely in the pan (about an hour or so) before lifting the foil or parchment paper and the block of brownies out of the pan.

Peel down the parchment paper and cut the brownies into squares and store them in a sealed container.

http://www.marinmamacooks.com/2011/12/roberts-absolute-best-brownies/

Chicken Parmesan

chicken parmesan

chicken parmesanMoms, here’s a wonderful and classic meal that is guaranteed to be a crowd pleaser.  I tend to make this meal when I know were going to have a crazy filled week.  It’s one of those make ahead meals that re-heats extremely well.  I always whip this up when the kids are at school and I can blast my iPod and sing while cooking away.

I have been making this dish for a long time.  Quite frankly, this was the dish that I made for all of my college and post college boyfriends when I wanted to impress them.  Everyone that eats this, literally loves it.  It’s pure comfort food.

chicken parmesan

Chicken Parmesan:

  • Italian style breadcrumbs 
  • freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 to 3 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (halved horizontally) and pounded – Tip:  If you shop at a grocery store with a butcher, have them cut and pound the chicken for you, as it will save you time and a big mess.
  • 2 large eggs – lightly beaten
  • 1-2 jars of your favorite tomato sauce or  2-3 cups of homemade sauce - It really depends on how many chicken breasts you use and how much sauce you like. 
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • chunk of fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into thin slices or you can use shredded mozzarella cheese
  • flour

I usually get 3 chicken breasts that are halved and pounded (giving me 6 large cutlets) because I want dinner for 2 nights.  If you just want this for just one night, then get 2 chicken breasts.

It takes 1.5 jars of sauce to coat the bottom of the two pans below.  

I used a 9×13 pan and a 8×8 pan. Spread the tomato sauce on the bottom of a 9 x 13 or large lasagna style baking dish (if you’re making a double batch like me, then coat another small pan with some sauce as well).    

Get out 3 shallow bowls.  Put some flour in the first bowl, beat 2 eggs in the second bowl and mix together your breadcrumbs and some freshly grated parmesan cheese in the third bowl (that third bowl has a cutlet in it, so that’s why it looks a bit strange).  

Note:  I like mixing italian style breadcrumbs with some panko breadcrumbs to get a bit more crunch.    Dip the chicken in the flour, then dip it in the eggs and then dredge it in breadcrumb parmesan mixture, turning to coat both sides.   Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet (non-stick preferably if you have one) over medium heat.  

Note: You’re going to use a lot of olive oil here if you have a regular skillet.  A non-stick skillet or a cast-iron pan is recommend when making chicken cutlets because you use less oil and the breadcrumbs will not stick to the pan.
While your olive oil is heating up, grab a plate and put some paper towels on it.  You will use this to pat your chicken with after it has been sautéed.
Tip:  Whenever I fry something on the stove I take off all of the burners (besides the one that is being used). This helps with clean up, as I just have to wipe down the stove and not the burners.Place 1 to 2 chicken cutlets in your skillet; cook until golden brown on each side.  

I’m not giving any time estimates here because the cooking time will depend on the thickness of you chicken cutlet.  I usually pull them out when I see that the chicken is no longer pink on the inside.

Tip: I also use a meat thermometer to test the doneness of the chicken.  I take the chicken off when the internal temp is at or close to 165 degrees.  Using a pair of tongs, transfer the chicken to the plate with the paper towels and pat the cutlet to get rid of the excess oil.  You’ll want to use fresh paper towels with each cutlet.  Transfer the chicken cutlet to your baking dish, placing it on top of the sauce. Repeat this process with your remaining cutlets.

Turn on your broiler. Thinly slice up your mozzarella cheese and top each chicken cutlet with a slice or two (or three)!  We like our mozzarella so I put plenty on.Broil uncovered, about 6-8 inches from heat source until the sauce is hot and the cheese is melted and lightly browned in spots, 5 to 8 minutes.  Serve immediately, or if you’re making this meal ahead of time, let it cool a bit on the stove and then cover tightly with tin foil and place in the refrigerator till later.  

To re-heat it; cook uncovered in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes or until the sauce is bubbly and the chicken is warmed through.

chicken parmesanPair this with a vegetable of choice or a fresh salad and some crispy garlic bread.  

To make this a two-nighter meal, you can top the chicken on a bed of spaghetti or get some french bread, broil it and make some chicken parmesan subs.  
Delish!

Chicken Parmesan

Rating: 51

Chicken Parmesan

Ingredients

  • Italian style breadcrumbs
  • freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 to 3 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (halved horizontally) and pounded - Tip: If you shop at a grocery store with a butcher, have them cut and pound the chicken for you, as it will save you time and a big mess.
  • 2 large eggs - lightly beaten
  • 1-2 jars of your favorite tomato sauce or 2-3 cups of homemade sauce - It really depends on how many chicken breasts you use and how much sauce you like.
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • chunk of fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into thin slices or shredded mozzarella cheese
  • flour

Instructions

I usually get 3 chicken breasts that are halved and pounded (giving me 6 large cutlets) because I want dinner for 2 nights. If you just want this for just one night, then get 2 chicken breasts.

When I'm making this for 2 nights, I typically use a 9x13 pan and a 8x8 pan and it takes 1.5 jars of sauce to cover the bottom of the two pans. Spread the tomato sauce on the bottom of a 9 x 13 or large lasagna style baking dish (if you're making a double batch like me, then coat another small pan with some sauce as well).

Get out 3 shallow bowls. Put some flour in the first bowl.

Beat 2 eggs in the second bowl.

Mix together your breadcrumbs and some freshly grated parmesan cheese in the third bowl.

Note: I like mixing italian style breadcrumbs with some panko breadcrumbs to get a bit more crunch.

Dip the chicken in the flour, then dip it in the eggs and then dredge it in breadcrumb parmesan mixture, turning to coat both sides.

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet (non-stick preferably if you have one) over medium heat.

Note: You're going to use a lot of olive oil here if you have a regular skillet. A non-stick skillet or a cast-iron pan is recommend when making chicken cutlets because you use less oil and the breadcrumbs will not stick to the pan.

While your olive oil is heating up, grab a plate and put some paper towels on it. You will use this to pat your chicken with after it has been sautéed.

Tip: Whenever I fry something on the stove I take off all of the burners (besides the one that is being used). This helps with clean up, as I just have to wipe down the stove and not the burners.

Place 1 to 2 chicken cutlets in your skillet; cook until golden brown on each side.

I'm not giving any time estimates here because the cooking time will depend on the thickness of you chicken cutlet. I usually pull them out when I see that the chicken is no longer pink on the inside.

Tip: I also use a meat thermometer to test the doneness of the chicken. I take the chicken off when the internal temp is at or close to 165 degrees.

Using a pair of tongs, transfer the chicken to the plate with the paper towels and pat the cutlet to get rid of the excess oil. You'll want to use fresh paper towels with each cutlet.

Transfer the chicken cutlet to your baking dish, placing it on top of the sauce. Repeat this process with your remaining cutlets.

Turn on your broiler. Thinly slice up your mozzarella cheese and top each chicken cutlet with a slice or two (or three)! We like our mozzarella so I put plenty on.

Broil uncovered, about 6-8 inches from heat source until the sauce is hot and the cheese is melted and lightly browned in spots, 5 to 8 minutes.

Serve immediately, or if you're making this meal ahead of time, let it cool a bit on the stove and then cover tightly with tin foil and place in the refrigerator till later.

To re-heat it; cook uncovered in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes or until the sauce is bubbly and the chicken is warmed through.

Pair this with a vegetable of choice or a fresh salad and some crispy garlic bread.

To make this a two-nighter meal, you can top the chicken on a bed of spaghetti or get some french bread, broil it and make some chicken parmesan subs.

http://www.marinmamacooks.com/2011/12/chicken-parmesan/

sugar-crusted popovers

sugar-crusted popovers
sugar-crusted popovers

Set your weary eyes on these puppies.  Amazing!  They taste as good as they look, or should I say better than they look, as they look kind of weird.  These popovers are crusty on the outside and warm and gooey on the inside.  This popover is more like a breakfast treat or it can even be qualified as a dessert.  It’s a cross between cinnamon toast, a sugar and cinnamon donut and a popover.  

I came across this recipe at the hair salon, of all places, while my highlights were processing.  I had 20 minutes to kill, so I started pursuing my iPad for some fun popover recipes I could try, when I stumbled across this page:

Wow, are you salivating like I was just looking at this photo?  I was pretty hungry at this point or maybe it was the fumes from the highlight that were making me crave sugar, but whatever it was, I knew these popovers were going to play a part in my afternoon plans.
 
I wanted to make them fresh for the kid’s after school snack!  Snack time is an important time in the Grandy house as my kids come home from school with hefty appetites.  I had a feeling that this popover recipe would satisfy them plenty.  I mean who wouldn’t like a sugary and doughy snack on a Friday afternoon?  We loved these so much that I am making them again on Sunday morning before we go and pick up our Christmas tree.  I hope you will be making these as well!

Note:  These popovers, as all popovers, are best when served fresh and warm.  If you have leftovers, store them in a container overnight and then re-heat them in the morning in a 250 degree oven till they warm up.  I re-heated the kid’s popovers this morning and they still loved them, but they are so much better the day of.  I topped them with some fresh cinnamon/sugar mixture after they came out of the oven to freshen them up a bit.sugar-crusted popovers

sugar-crusted popovers:

Recipe from David Lebovitz
Makes 6 regular popovers and 9 muffin tin popovers
for the popovers:
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature – I always use extra large eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 cup flour

for the sugar coating:

  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted


Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and liberally butter a popover pan.  If you don’t have a popover pan, no worries, you can use a standard muffin tin with 1/2 cup indentations.  
Note: You will want to heavily butter your pan, even if it’s a non-stick popover pan, otherwise the popovers will stick and be hard to get out.

Get your blender out and put in the following, 2 tablespoons melted butter, 3 eggs, 1 cup milk, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar 
and blend for a few seconds.  
DON’T ADD THE FLOUR YET!
Add the 1 cup flour and blend for about 10 seconds, just until smooth.
 

Pour the batter into the popover cups filling them 1/2 to 2/3rds full.  If you’re using a muffin tin then divide the batter among the 9 greased molds, filling each 1/2 to 2/3rds full.  

I love this grand popover pan from Nordic Ware.  It may cost more than the normal popover pan, but it makes the perfect popover and they don’t stick to the pan. The pan is made of cast  iron, so it cooks up the popovers evenly.  I’ve had mine for 3 years now and I use it at least once a week, if not more, and it’s still looks brand new.   If you find yourself making popovers quite often, then I would invest in a good quality popover pan.  For  those of you that are local, Sur La Table carries this brand.Put your popovers into the oven and bake for 35 minutes, or until the popovers are deep brown.  You can turn on your oven’s light to see the transformation, but do not open the oven door during baking, as this will cause the popovers to deflate. I baked mine exactly 35 minutes and they were perfection.  

While the popovers are baking you can prepare your sugar & cinnamon mixture.  Just combine the 2/3 cup of sugar with the 1 teaspoon of cinnamon in a large shallow bowl and whisk the two together.  Cut the butter into small pieces, so it melts faster, and set it in a ramekin or small bowl.  Set these both aside until the popovers come out of the oven.
Remove the popovers from the oven, wait a few minutes until they are cool enough to handle, then remove them from the pans and set them on a cooling rack.  
This is what the popovers looked like when I pulled them out of the oven.  They’re all twisty and funky looking.   Looks can be deceiving though as they were crunchy on the outside and warm and gooey on the inside.
Now is the time to melt your butter.  Just stick the bowl in the microwave and melt away.  Once the butter is melted, you can start the buttering process.  Just grab a popover and brush it all over with the butter.  Make sure to get in all those nooks and crannies.
Next, dredge your buttered popover into the sugar and cinnamon mixture, making sure to get in all those nooks and crannies.  
Once all of your popovers are covered in sugar, let them cool on a wire rack.  If your kids are home or you’re serving these for breakfast, then by all means put them immediately on a plate and dig in.  

 As you can see, they were devoured in a matter of seconds.  I did not even get a word in from them until they were finished.  I actually think Eli ate his in one bite. 
Check out that happy kid!
Here are the four remaining popovers cooling on the rack.  John ate his before dinner and I had mine for dessert. We saved the other two for the kid’s breakfast this morning.sugar-crusted popovers
Now that I am looking at these, they kind of look like fried dough but without all the grease that comes with frying!  BONUS!
Come on and give these a shot at your next weekend breakfast.  Move away from the familiar pancakes and waffles and take a walk on the wild side!  
sugar-crusted popovers

Rating: 51

sugar-crusted popovers

Ingredients

    for the popovers:
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature - I always use extra large eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • for the sugar coating:
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted

Instructions

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and liberally butter a popover pan. If you don't have a popover pan, no worries, you can use a standard muffin tin with 1/2 cup indentations.

Note: You will want to heavily butter your pan, even if it's a non-stick popover pan, otherwise the popovers will stick and be hard to get out.

Get your blender out and put in the following, 2 tablespoons melted butter, 3 eggs, 1 cup milk, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar, and blend for a few seconds.

DON'T ADD THE FLOUR YET!

Add the 1 cup flour and blend for about 10 seconds, just until smooth.

Pour the batter into the popover cups filling them 1/2 to 2/3rds full.

If you're using a muffin tin then divide the batter among the 9 greased molds, filling each 1/2 to 2/3rds full.

Put your popovers into the oven and bake for 35 minutes, or until the popovers are deep brown. You can turn on your oven’s light to see the transformation, but do not open the oven door during baking, as this will cause the popovers to deflate. I baked mine exactly 35 minutes and they were perfection.

While the popovers are baking you can prepare your sugar & cinnamon mixture. Just combine the 2/3 cup of sugar with the 1 teaspoon of cinnamon in a large shallow bowl and whisk the two together. Cut the butter into small pieces, so it melts faster, and set it in a ramekin or small bowl.

Set these both aside until the popovers come out of the oven.

Remove the popovers from the oven, wait a few minutes until they are cool enough to handle, then remove them from the pans and set them on a cooling rack.

Now is the time to melt your butter. Just stick the bowl in the microwave and melt away. Once the butter is melted, you can start the buttering process.

Just grab a popover and brush it all over with the butter. Make sure to get in all those nooks and crannies.

Next, dredge your buttered popover into the sugar and cinnamon mixture, making sure to get in all those nooks and crannies.

Once all of your popovers are covered in sugar, let them cool on a wire rack. If your kids are home or you're serving these for breakfast, then by all means put them immediately on a plate and dig in.

http://www.marinmamacooks.com/2011/12/sugar-crusted-popovers/

orecchiette pasta with sausage and broccoli rabe

DSC_0003-3

DSC_0003-3First off, I want to say a huge THANK YOU to those of you that are viewing my blog and making some of my recipes.  I can’t tell you how happy it makes me when a close friend, stranger or mom at school comes up to me and tells me that they are making one of the recipes from my blog that night. I love hearing their comments on how much their family enjoyed the recipe or how easy it was to make.  

The biggest request I keep getting from people is to keep posting more yummy & easy weeknight dinners.  Dinner is the one meal that people struggle with. I get it, we’re all busy running around all day and to have that nagging “what to make for dinner” question hanging over our heads is not fun!  

Well, I’ve got you covered for dinner tonight. I have whipped up an easy, family approved one-bowl pasta dish.  This pasta is one of those pantry pastas that I cook quite often because I usually have all of the ingredients on hand expect for the fresh broccoli rabe. 

Below are the 6 ingredients you will need in addition to some fresh olive oil.

DSC_0003

orecchiette pasta with sausage and broccoli rabe:

Recipe adapted from Giada De Laurentiis

  • 1 to 2 bunches broccoli rabe, stems trimmed – You can also use baby broccoli or broccolini 
  • 1 pound orecchiette pasta
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 italian sausage links, casings removed or 3/4 pound of ground sausage – I used classic italian style sausages
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • pinch of crushed red pepper flakes – I used a bit more than a pinch of red pepper and it was spicy in a good way, but not too spicy for the kids
  • freshly shedded Parmesan cheese

Let’s prep the ingredients.  Wash and trim up the broccoli rabe, remove the sausage from it’s casings and mince up your garlic cloves.  

DSC_0009Bring a medium pot of well-salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to the package directions, adding the broccoli rabe during the last minute of cooking time.  I loved this step because it was all done in one pot at the same time!  How efficient!  Drain both the pasta and broccoli rabe together.

DSC_0016Meanwhile, while the pasta is cooking, heat the 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat and then add the sausage.  DSC_0001-2Cook the sausage breaking it up into pieces with a spoon, until browned and juices form.

DSC_0006-2Add the garlic and red pepper flakes, and sauté until fragrant, about 2 minutes.

DSC_0008-2Add the drained pasta and broccoli rabe to the pan with the sausage mixture and toss to coat with the juices. 

DSC_0034Serve up the pasta into individual bowls.  Make sure to scrape all those goodies off the bottom of the pan.  Top each bowl with a nice heaping of fresh Parmesan and some fresh ground pepper for the adults! 

My kids and hubby loved this dish. They all rated it a 10!  I hope that your family enjoys this easy weeknight pantry pasta!