Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Oven Baked Spicy Chicken Tacos

Recipe Found Here

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 pound cooked chicken, shredded 1
(1 ounce) packet Taco Seasoning
1/2 cup onion, diced (or onion powder)
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomato, drained 
1 (4.5 ounce) can Chopped Green Chilies
10 Old El Paso Stand and Stuff Taco Shells
1 (16 ounce) can Refried Beans
2 cups Mexican Blend Cheese, shredded
Desired toppings: sliced Jalapenos, sour cream, salsa, chopped cilantro and/or shredded lettuce

Preheat oven to 400F. Spray a 9x13 baking dish with nonstick spray and set aside.

Heat olive oil over medium heat in a medium skillet. Add onion to skillet and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until the onion is translucent and fragrant. Or use onion powder instead, maybe 1/2 teaspoon.

Stir in the cooked shredded chicken, taco seasoning, tomatoes, and green chilies. Stir to combine fully. Reduce to simmer and allow to cook for 5-8 minutes.

Place the taco shells in the baking dish, standing up. I was able to fit 10-12 taco shells in the dish by adding 2 on each side. Spoon about 1 Tablespoon of beans into the bottom of each taco shell. Top with the chicken mixture, almost to the top of each shell. Sprinkle each shell generously with shredded cheese.

Bake for 8-12 minutes or until cheese is fully melted and the edges of the shells are browned. Remove from the oven and top with your favorite items such as jalapenos, sour cream, cilantro, and salsa. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Juicy Perfect Hamburgers

Burger Tips Found Here

Ground Beef (15% fat, 95% lean), I have found this to be the best tasting without excessive fat
Lawry's seasoned salt

I use store bought ground beef already ground (I hear grinding your own fresh meat is best). Take meat out of fridge. Form patties without over handling/kneading the meat.

I make smaller patties about 1 inch thick, 4-5 per pound of meat. Lay them on a baking sheet lined with wax paper. For expert cooking weigh each patty to help determine cooking time needed for desired doneness.

Sprinkle each patty liberally with Lawry's seasoned salt and pepper (fresh ground for an extra kick). Flip each patty over and season again on the other side.

Don't salt the patties until they are formed and ready to go on the grill. Grill over medium heat about 4 min per side. Use a meat thermometer so you don't over cook. I like my burgers with pink in them.

Finish off with desired toppings: cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, mustard, ketchup, mayonnaise, etc.

  • 120°F and below for rare (red/raw in the center)
  • 130°F for medium-rare (pink and warm)
  • 140°F for medium (totally pink, starting to dry out)
  • 150°F for medium-well (grayish pink, significantly drier)
  • 160°F and above for well done (completely gray, very little moisture)

Friday, October 21, 2016

Perfected Yellow Cake

Recipe found here, go to link to see the extensive notes.


*For high altitude, add an additional 2 1/2 tablespoons cake flour before sifting

I saw this note online and thought it was probably good advice:
Toothpick inserted should come out WITH some moist crum. clean toothpick=dry cake. add moisture back to it with a misting of simple syrup.

I also used my whisk attachment on the kitchen aide through all the steps. I used King Arthur cake flour, Nielsen-Massey Pure Vanilla Extract, unsalted butter, light sour cream, and whole milk.

1 cup butter, softened to room temperature 
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar (13 ounces, 368 grams)
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 large eggs, room temperature 
2 large egg yolks, room temperature 
2 1/4 cups cake flour, lightly measured (9 ounces, 255 grams), *see note for high altitude adjustments
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk (1% or higher fat), room temperature 
1/2 cup sour cream (light or regular), room temperature 

To prep, whisk together the milk and sour cream together in a liquid measure and let come to room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and make sure an oven rack is placed in the middle of the oven.

In a large bowl of an electric stand mixer or with a handheld electric mixer, whip the butter on medium speed for 1-2 minutes. Add the granulated sugar and beat for 4-5 minutes on medium speed. Mix in the vanilla.

One at a time, add the eggs and egg yolks, mixing just until combined in between additions. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Combine the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Sift them together through a fine mesh strainer.

Add 1/3 of the dry ingredients to the batter and mix just until combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add 1/2 of the milk/sour cream mixture and mix. Add another 1/3 of the dry ingredients, mixing just until combined. Add the last 1/2 of the milk/sour cream mixture and beat until just combined. Add the final 1/3 of the dry ingredients and mix just until combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl if necessary. Give the batter one good, final stir with the rubber spatula.

Grease the cake pans and line the bottoms with a parchment round. Grease the parchment and sides of the pan again very well. I use regular cooking spray but you can also use butter or cooking spray with flour. If your cake pans tend to cause sticking, consider also flouring the pans.

Divide the batter evenly between the two pans. Drop each pan from about 3-inches onto the counter to minimize air bubbles while baking.

Bake for 25-28 minutes (high altitude: 28-30 minutes) until lightly golden around the edges and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs. Resist the urge to open and close the oven to check on the cake - this can cause the center of the cake to fall and never recover. And as with all cakes, don't overbake or the cake will be dry.

Let the cakes rest in the pans for 5-10 minutes before gently turning them onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

Lemon Curd

Recipe found here

7 to 8 large egg yolks (about 130 grams w/o shells), depending on size
1¼ cups + 2 tablespoons (275 grams) granulated sugar
4½ fluid ounces (about 133 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice (4 large lemons)
Pinch of kosher or sea salt
1 tablespoon (6 grams) finely grated lemon zest
½ cup (1 stick/113 grams) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pats

Add an inch or so of water to a medium saucepan or bottom pan of a double boiler set. Bring water to a simmer over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, in a medium sized metal bowl (or separate glass bowl) or top pan (insert) of a double boiler set, beat yolks and sugar vigorously with a whisk until smooth and well blended, about 1 minute. (Mixture will be very thick at first, just keep at it.) Add lemon juice and salt, whisk until smooth. If mixed in separate glass bowl, scrape and pour into top pan of double boiler set.

Once the water reaches a simmer, reduce heat to low and place bowl over saucepan or top pan (insert) into bottom of double boiler. Do not allow water to touch the bottom of the metal bowl or top pan (insert) of the double boiler as this could scorch and possibly curdle the mixture. Cook whisking constantly until thickened, about 20 to 22 minutes. The mixture will change from translucent to an opaque light yellow color and will coat the back of a wooden spoon yet still be liquid enough to pour. Do not allow the mixture to boil or it will curdle.

Remove promptly from heat and immediately whisk in lemon zest to release oils. Add butter gradually, one piece at a time, whisking well to combine. Allow each addition of the butter to melt completely before adding more. If straining (this is optional to strain lemon zest and any coagulated egg) for a smooth curd, strain at once into a medium bowl and press strainer with the back of a spoon or rubber spatula until only the coarse residue remains. Discard residue.

Allow curd to cool; cover by placing a layer of plastic food wrap directly on top of the surface of the curd. The curd will continue to thicken further upon resting and chilling. Transfer to airtight container and refrigerate.


Before juicing lemons, heat fruit for 10 seconds in microwave oven on high power. Roll between hands or on work surface, pressing lightly on the fruit. This will release a significant greater amount of juice.

To prevent curdling, be sure to blend the sugar well with the yolks before adding the lemon juice. Use a double boiler (or a metal bowl placed over saucepan) with an inch or so of water in bottom pan or heavy nonreactive (non-aluminum) saucepan that conducts heat evenly.

Do not allow the curd mixture to boil. Remove immediately from heat once curd is thickened and, if straining (this is optional to strain the citrus zest), strain at once as the residual heat will continue to cook the curd.

 If you have an accurate candy thermometer, check the temperature of the cooked curd. It should be 170ºF. Store curd covered tightly in refrigerator. It will keep up to 2 weeks.

Warning: The reason why a nonreactive (non-aluminum) saucepan should be used is because aluminum will react with the yolks and turn them a chartreuse (green) color.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Hot Buttered Soft Pretzels

Recipe Found HERE

2 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
7/8 to 1 cup warm water* *

Use the greater amount in the winter, the lesser amount in the summer, and somewhere in between in the spring and fall. Your goal is a soft dough.

1 cup boiling water
2 tablespoons baking soda
coarse, kosher or pretzel salt, optional
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

To make dough by hand, or with a mixer: Place all of the dough ingredients into a bowl, and beat until well-combined. Knead the dough, by hand or machine, for about 5 minutes, until it's soft, smooth, and quite slack. Flour the dough and place it in a bag, and allow it to rest for 30 minutes. 

To make dough with a bread machine: Place all of the dough ingredients into the pan of your bread machine, program the machine for dough or manual, and press Start. Allow the dough to proceed through its kneading cycle (no need to let it rise), then cancel the machine, flour the dough, and give it a rest in a plastic bag, as instructed above.

To make dough with a food processor: Place the flour, salt, sugar and yeast in the work bowl of a food processor equipped with the steel blade. Process for 5 seconds. Add the water, and process for 7 to 10 seconds, until the dough starts to clear the sides of the bowl. Process a further 45 seconds. Place a handful of flour in a bowl, scoop the slack dough into the bowl, and shape the dough into a ball, coating it with the flour.

Transfer the dough to a plastic bag, close the bag loosely, leaving room for the dough to expand, and let it rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.

While the dough is resting, prepare the topping: Combine the boiling water and baking soda, stirring until the soda is totally (or almost totally) dissolved. Set the mixture aside to cool to lukewarm (or cooler).

Preheat your oven to 475°F. Prepare a baking sheet by spraying it with vegetable oil spray, or lining it with parchment paper.

Transfer the dough to a lightly greased work surface, and divide it into eight equal pieces (about 70g, or 2 1/2 ounces, each). Allow the pieces to rest, uncovered, for 5 minutes.

Pour the baking soda/water into a 9" square pan. Roll each piece of dough into a long, thin rope (about 28" to 30" long), and twist each rope into a pretzel. Working with 4 pretzels at a time, place them in the pan with the baking soda/water, spooning the water over their tops; leave them in the water for 2 minutes before placing them on the baking sheet. This baking soda "bath" will give the pretzels a nice, golden-brown color.

Transfer the pretzels to the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle them lightly with coarse, kosher, or pretzel salt, if desired. Allow them to rest, uncovered, for 10 minutes.

Bake the pretzels for 8 to 9 minutes, or until they're golden brown. Remove the pretzels from the oven, and brush them thoroughly with the melted butter. Keep brushing the butter on until you've used it all up; it may seem like a lot, but that's what gives these pretzels their ethereal taste.

Eat the pretzels warm, or reheat them in an oven or microwave.

Yield: 8 large pretzels.

Cheesy Potato Breakfast Casserole

1 pound Italian Sausage (or regular sausage), cooked
1 yellow onion, chopped, sauteed in sausage grease
7 eggs
1/2 cup milk
20 ounce bag frozen Ore-Ida Diced Hash Browns
4 ounces of Mild Cheddar Cheese, grated
4 ounces of Monterrey Jack Cheese, grated
Salt & Pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 350. Spray medium casserole dish (9 x 13) with non-stick spray. Set aside. Prepare sausage and onions. In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients, including sausage and onions. Pour into prepared casserole dish. Reserve roughly one cup of the cheese for topping. Bake for 35-45 minutes. Remove from oven and top with reserved cheese. Return to oven for 5-8 minutes. Allow casserole to rest for 15-20 minutes. Serve and enjoy!

Also fabulous served in flour tortillas for a great breakfast burrito.

Recipe adapted from here

Friday, September 23, 2016

Chicken with Lemon Garlic Pasta

Combo of recipes found here and here

1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup Italian bread crumbs
Zest of 2 lemons, plus more, for garnish
1 pound boneless/skinless chicken breast fillets, cut crosswise in half
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 large eggs, beaten

Lemon Garlic Pasta:
 ½ lb linguine or spaghetti or other pasta
juice from 1 lemon, or to taste
3 garlic cloves, minced
zest from ¼ lemon
2 Tbsp butter, cold
2-3 Tbsp whipping cream, or to taste
salt, pepper

Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. In a large bowl, combine bread crumbs and lemon zest; set aside. Season chicken with salt and pepper.

Working one at a time, dredge chicken in flour, dip into eggs, then dredge in bread crumbs mixture, pressing to coat. Working in batches, add chicken to the skillet, 2 or 3 at a time, and cook until evenly golden and crispy, about 3-4 minutes on each side.

Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate Serve immediately, garnished with lemon zest, if desired.

Cook pasta according to package direction; drain (reserve about ½ cup pasta water). Add lemon juice to a pan; add garlic, lemon zest, a pinch of salt and pepper, and cook until liquid is reduced to about half. Add 1 Tbsp butter and slowly melt into your sauce, while swirling the pan; add another 1 Tbsp butter and repeat; stir in whipping cream and about 2 Tbsp pasta water. Add cooked pasta and toss to combine. Serve chicken over lemon garlic pasta.