January 25, 2016

Salsa Verde Chicken Chili

After I made a batch of Salsa Verde Chicken, I then moved onto Cookies and Cups' version of Chicken Chili. I made a few minor tweaks in seasonings, and this is amazing!

For something so healthy, it's loaded with flavor. I did top our portions with a bit of shredded cheese, but you could go without if you like leading a boring life. This is thick and really loaded with chicken. I think you could stretch the chicken a bit, either using 2 cups or increasing some of the other ingredients to make this recipe go even further.

Salsa Verde Chicken Chili
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 cup frozen corn
3 cloves garlic, diced
2 cans cannellini beans, drained, rinsed and divided
2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. aleppo pepper
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
1 tsp. smoked salt
3 cups salsa verde chicken
24 oz. chicken broth

In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Saute the onions and corn until soft, about 5 minutes. Add in the garlic, and saute for 2 more minutes.

Place one can of drained and rinsed beans into a blender or food processor. Transfer the onion mixture into the blender or food processor as well. Add in the cumin, aleppo pepper, paprika and salt. Blend the mixture until it is a thick paste.

Add the chicken to the unwashed dutch oven over medium heat, and stir in the chicken broth. Add in the bean mixture to the broth, and stir to combine. Finally add in the remaining beans. Heat the chili until it just comes to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce the heat to low, and simmer the chili for 30 minutes. Makes 6 servings.

Salsa Verde Chicken

You know where your mind is when you type slow cookie instead of slow cooker. I found this recipe from Cookies and Cups, and I made it within a couple weeks, which is pretty fast for me to get to a recipe that doesn't involve chocolate. It also used up that last jar of tomatillo salsa that was sitting on my shelf.

This recipe is super simple and perfect for a weeknight. You end up with a plethora of chicken that can be used in tacos, burritos rice bowls, casseroles or an amazing chicken chili.

Salsa Verde Chicken
2 - 2 1/2 lbs. boneless chicken breasts
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. smoked paprika
1 tsp. salt
16 oz. salsa verde

Place all ingredients in a slow cooker. Cook on low heat for 6-7 hours or on high heat for 4 hours. Shred with two forks, and serve or use in recipes. Makes roughly 4-5 cups of chicken.

January 18, 2016

Mini Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookies

I've made quite a few batches of cookies lately, and these are one of my all-time favorites, along with the NY Times ones. Love & Olive Oil nailed it with these, minus the espresso powder.

The edges are perfectly crispy and crunchy, rich with the brown sugar flavor. And the inside is a gooey and delicious mess that my husband described as cookie stew. Weird, but I love him anyways.

By the way, I bought the skillets recommended in the original post. For us, they are totally worth it for these cookies alone. Make a double batch, and freeze the extra dough in cookie-sized portions.

Mini Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookies
3/4 cup flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. fine sea or kosher salt
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
6 Tbsp. butter, room temperature
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla
2/3 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup dark chocolate chunks or chips
Flaked sea salt

Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly butter or grease 8 mini (3.5-inch diameter) cast iron skillets. Arrange on a baking sheet.

In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon until incorporated. Set aside.
In a mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Mix in egg and vanilla, scraping down the side of the bowl as needed. Add dry ingredients and oats, and mix until just incorporated. Stir in chocolate chunks.

Spoon dough into 2-inch diameter balls, approximately 2 tablespoons per ball. Drop balls into prepared skillets. Top with a few more chocolate chunks and a sprinkle of flake salt (if desired). (Dough balls can also be frozen on a lined cookie sheet until frozen solid, and then transferred to a zip top bag for later use.)

Bake for 14 to 16 minutes or until edges are golden and center is just set but not overcooked. If you like your cookies gooey, err on the side of underdone. If you like your cookies crispy, cook for a minute or two longer. Add one minute of cook time if cooking dough from frozen, and do not thaw first.

Makes 8 skillet cookies.

Proscuitto-Stuffed Chicken Breast

Obviously there's no shortage of sweet treats on my blog, so I'm happy to have a savory to add to the mix. Again, no pictures because there's no way it would look appetizing if I tried to photograph this, but Baker's Royale makes it look as delicious as it tastes.

These are phenomenal. They're a bit more work than a standard meal for us, simply because I don't usually use string to truss my food. Still, I think you could easily make a larger batch, freeze, thaw and then cook as directed. They would be great for a meal to impress for entertaining, although they're not really complicated.

I ad-libbed on the mushroom sauce, but it was amazing the way I've noted.

Proscuitto-Stuffed Chicken Breasts
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
8 thin slices prosciutto
8 thin slices provolone cheese
Basil leaves, the tube kind
2 Tbsp. butter, divided
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
4 cups mushrooms, chopped
1/2 cup chicken broth

Fillet chicken breasts horizontally. Open breast in half, and pound to 1/4-inch thickness. Season on all sides with salt and pepper.

Place 1 chicken breast half on a work surface, cut side up. Spread a dollop of basil (from the tube) evenly onto the chicken. Lay 1 slice of prosciutto on top of chicken. Layer with a slice of cheese. Roll up chicken lengthwise, and tie with kitchen twine. Repeat with remaining chicken breasts.

Pre-heat oven to 450°F. Heat 1 Tbsp. butter and oil in a large heavy ovenproof skillet. Add chicken, and cook until browned on all sides, about 8-10 minutes. Transfer skillet to oven, and bake until instant-read thermometer inserted into center of roulades reads 165°, about 7-8 minutes. (The chicken will be cooked through but still juicy.) Transfer chicken to plates, and let rest for 10 minutes.

While chicken is cooking, cook mushrooms in remaining Tbsp. butter, along with some pepper. As needed, add chicken broth to prevent sticking. When you remove chicken from the skillet after it is baked in the oven, pour the mushroom mixture into that skillet. Add a bit of chicken broth, and scrape up all drippings and cheese. Use as a sauce to top the chicken.

Makes about 8 small portions or 4 large ones.

Note: If your toddler questions the basil in the chicken, might I suggest serving broccoli as a side so that can be used as an excuse that some got into the chicken? Worked for me, but only because he likes broccoli.

Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate Ice Cream

I had some heavy cream that needed a purpose before it spoiled, so homemade ice cream in December. Others may reserve ice cream for summer months, but I recall being pregnant with my first child and wanting nothing more than Coldstone Creamery ice cream for lunch during a blizzard. (And it's not just pregnant me that likes ice cream all year.)

I've had this recipe from Iowa Girl Eats bookmarked for more than a year. Perfect for this time of year, hot chocolate and ice cream.

Can you guess how many Caramello bars I ate (and snuck) as a child during our annual candy bar sales? That was my ultimate favorite of our candy bars to sell.

This is one of the easiest ice creams to make because it requires no eggs and careful, patient stirring.

Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate Ice Cream
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup 2% milk
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. coarse sea salt
4 oz. dark chocolate, finely chopped
1 king-sized Caramello Bar (2.7oz)
1 tsp. vanilla

Whisk together heavy whipping cream, milk, sugar, cocoa powder and sea salt in a large saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, whisking every so often. Add bittersweet chocolate and Caramello bar, crushing squares slightly with fingers, and whisk until melted and smooth. Remove pan from heat, and then stir in vanilla.

Pour mixture into a large glass bowl, and cover with plastic wrap directly on top to prevent a skin from forming. Cool slightly, and then chill completely, 4 hours or overnight. Freeze according to your ice cream maker's instructions.

Peppermint Bark Cupcakes

I haven't baked cupcakes in quite a while, and I miss the weekly cupcake routine. I took the Christmas lunch at work as an excuse to convert this recipe from Food Fanatic into cupcakes.

My frosting turned pink because my blender pulverized the candy canes into powder. (How's that for a tongue twister?) These are a cute holiday treat and pretty tasty. They're not a top 10 cupcake for me but a nice seasonal one.

Peppermint Bark Cupcakes
2 cups sugar
2 cups flour
3/4 cup dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 tsp. peppermint extract
1 cup boiling water
2 sticks salted butter, slightly softened
3/4 cup white chocolate chips, melted and cooled
3 Tbsp. heavy cream
2 tsp. vanilla
5-6 cups powdered sugar
2/3 cup crushed candy cane pieces, finely crushed
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy cream
Peppermint bark

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 36 cupcake tins.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water. Pour batter into prepared cupcake liners.

Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until top springs back when lightly touched in the center. Cool 5 minutes, and remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely.

For the frosting, beat butter, melted chocolate, heavy cream and vanilla until smooth. Slowly add powdered sugar, scraping the sides of the bowl and beating on low until just combined and desired consistency. Add crushed candy, increase mixer speed to high, and beat for one minute. Frost cupcakes, and chill.

In a microwave-safe bowl, heat chocolate chips and heavy cream, stopping to stir every 20 seconds until smooth. Cool to room temperature, and then dollop on frosted cupcakes. Garnish with peppermint bark. Makes 36 cupcakes.

Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookies

Toffee is one of my loves, so I thought these cookies from Cookies and Cups would become an instant favorite for me. Perhaps my expectations were too high, but these cookies didn't impress me much. (Channeling some old-school Shania Twain there.) Don't get me wrong, they're still a good cookie. They just weren't magical for me.

No photos, yet again, because the camera was gone and then so were the cookies. Dave's co-workers were happy he's been there for three years ... if for no other reason than they got cookies.

One other note: My absolute favorite way to eat cookies is warm and gooey from the oven. My husband said these are better the next day, although I wouldn't know since he didn't save me any. And he said he'll deny that if I bake these again, so he can eat them straight from the oven.

Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookies
14 Tbsp. butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
1 Tbsp. vanilla
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. coarse sea salt
2 2/3 cups flour
2 cups chopped chocolate chunks, plus 1/2 cup more for garnish
1 cup toffee bits

In the bowl of your stand mixer beat the butter and sugar together for 3 minutes on medium speed, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add the eggs and vanilla, and continue mixing for 1 more minute on medium speed until pale in color.

Add in the baking soda and salt, and mix for 30 more seconds on medium speed. Turn the mixer to low, and mix in the flour until evenly incorporated. Stir in the chocolate chunks and toffee bits by hand, reserving the 1/2 cup of chocolate for garnish.

Chill the dough for at least 2 hours or up to 2 days. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silipat.

Place the dough on the baking sheet 2 inches apart. Top each dough ball with a few more chocolate chunk pieces. Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes until the edges are golden and the tops are just set. Cool cookies on the same parchment paper or Silipat until nearly cool, as the cookies are very soft and tend to ooze through baking racks.

While you are baking the cookies, in batches place the remaining dough back in the refrigerator. You want to bake the dough chilled. Makes 24 large cookies or more modest cookies.

January 11, 2016

Italian Hot Chocolate

Ever since my semester abroad in Spain, hot chocolate has never been the same. One of my favorite things to order in Spain, aside from my caƱa chocolate from my local bakery, was chocolate and churros. When you "drink" your hot chocolate with a spoon, it's amazing and delicious.

This Italian version from Brown Eyed-Baker is perhaps a bit richer than the version of Spanish hot chocolate that I've made at home because of the heavy cream. It's delicious and decadent.

Italian Hot Chocolate
1 cup whole milk, divided
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp. cornstarch
4 1/2 oz. dark chocolate, finely chopped
Whipped cream, optional

In a small saucepan, whisk together the 3/4 cup milk, cream and sugar. Set the saucepan over medium-low heat, and cook until it starts to bubble around the edges.

While the milk mixture is heating, whisk together the remaining milk and cornstarch until it is smooth. Once the milk mixture starts bubbling around the edges, add the milk and cornstarch mixture, and whisk until it’s heated through, about 1 minute.

Add the the chopped chocolate, and whisk together until it’s smooth and thick enough to coat a spoon, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, pour into mugs and serve with whipped cream if desired.

If you want to spike the drinks, whisk 1 1/2 Tbsp. of your favorite liqueur into the hot chocolate after removing from heat.