Noodles with Ground Chicken & Crispy Shallots

May 30, 2010

A friend of mine gave me a stack of her old Bon Appetit magazines earlier this year; which I devoured quickly. This recipe stood out as being very simple yet unique that I earmarked it right away as one of the dishes to make. After all, we love anything with pasta and are always up to trying something new with noodles, and I must say that I am glad that we gave this one a try.

While noodles sometimes feel like  a “heavy” meal, the lime juice used in this dish added such a brightness to the dish that I thought it was a very appropriate summer meal. I took a shortcut and used ground chicken breast instead, and it worked wonderfully. I also skipped the cilantro, because I forgot to get them at the grocery store. The hot sauce was also a must for us. I hope you give this one a try!

Adapted from: Bon Appetit, June 2009

Ingredients
4 large shallots, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch thick slices
5 garlic cloves; 3 sliced, 2 pressed
2 tbsp Asian sesame oil
3 quarts low-salt chicken broth
1 lb skinless boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch cubes (or, substitute with ground chicken breast)
4 tbsp Asian fish sauce
1 6.75-ounce package rice stick noodles
8 ounces Chinese long beans (or green beans), cut into 1-inch pieces
1/4 cup lime juice
2 tbsp raw sugar
2 pinches cayenne pepper
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup chopped green onions
2 tbsp chopped salted roasted peanuts
Hot chill sauce, such as sriracha, for serving

Directions
Add enough vegetable oil to small saucepan, to reach depth of 2 inches. Attach deep-fry thermometer to side of pan and heat oil to 330 deg F. Add shallots to oil and fry until golden brown, stirring often, approximately 8 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain. Add sliced garlic to oil and fry until golden brown, about 1 minute. Using slotted spoon, transfer garlic to paper towels to drain. Mix sesame oil and pressed garlic in small bowl.

Bring chicken broth to boil in a heavy large pot. Add ground chicken to to broth and simmer until cooked through, stirring to break up chicken into small pieces, approximately 5 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer chicken to large book. Add 1 tbsp of fish sauce to chicken, toss to coat. Return broth to boil.

Add rice noodles and cook until tender. Using slotted spoon, transfer noodles to large bowl. Return broth to boil.

Add beans and cook until crisp tender, approximately 5 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer beans to large bowl. Add sesame-garlic oil, lime juice, 1 tbsp of raw sugar, 2 pinches cayenne pepper, and remaining fish sauce. Toss to coat.

Transfer noodle mixture to large shallow bowl. Sprinkle cilantro, green onions, peanuts, fried shallots, fried garlic and remaining 1 tbsp of raw sugar over noodles. Serve, with hot chili sauce.

Yield: 6 servings


Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies

May 29, 2010

I decided to try a new recipe for chocolate chip cookies while getting ready to see my folks, who live about 10 hours away from me.  I always try to bring home some homemade cookies  for both my mom and dad, who each has their own cookie preference. My dad loves most things chocolate, but he definitely appreciates good old fashioned chocolate chip cookies.

My mom, on the other hand, is probably one of the very few people who doesn’t care for chocolate very much. So back to my dad and his chocolate chip cookies. I have a recipe already that I think is pretty good; but I thought that I’d try the recipe from the back of my Nestle chocolate chip morsels.  Who can beat with the old fashioned classic Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies? And the legend really stood true to its rave!

These cookies, however, spread a little bit more than what I had expected; but I guess with the amount of butter called for in this recipe, it shouldn’t have been a surprise for me. But, while they turned out thinner than I would like, they are soft in the inside and crispy in the outside, which are fantastic.  This recipe got a nod from my dad and hubby; so it looks like now I have two go-to chocolate chip cookie recipes.

Adapted from The Very Best of Baking

Ingredients
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate morsels
1 cup chopped nuts

Directions
Preheat oven to 375° F.

Combine flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.

Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Yield: 5 dozens


Roasted Banana Cinnamon Rolls

May 22, 2010

Red loves cinnamon rolls.  And I love anything with bananas. When I saw this recipe on Picky Palate, I knew that we had to make this very soon. I love bananas, so I used three bananas, and even that–I felt like I could have used more. In the future, I think I would probably add another two bananas. Depending on the ripeness of the bananas, you can also adjust the amount of sugar used. These rolls were absolutely to die for! I know that we’ll be making this again soon.

Ingredients
1 tube of Pillsbury French Bread Roll (I used my cinnamon roll dough)
3 ripe bananas cut into 1/4 inch slices
2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
2 tablespoons brown sugar
4 tablespoons softened butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1-1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk

Directions
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Place banana slices and cut up pieces of butter into a small baking dish.  Sprinkle with brown sugar and bake for 25 minutes or until golden and bubbly.  Remove and let cool for 10 minutes.  Next, use a fork to smash roasted bananas until well combined.

Reduce heat to 350 degrees F.  Unroll dough into rectangle.  Spread with softened butter and sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon.  Place dollops of roasted banana mixture evenly over top.  Starting from long end, roll up into log shape.  Using a sharp knife, cut 1 inch slices and place onto a parchment lined baking sheet.  Bake for 25-30 minutes or until just turning golden brown.  Remove and let cool for 10 minutes.

Whisk powdered sugar and heavy cream until combined; drizzle over top of warm rolls.

Yield: 12 rolls


Raspberry Thumbprint Cookies

May 16, 2010

This is one of my favorite cookies of all time.  I make them all year long whenever I crave something sweet, yet not too overpowering. This one has the double bonus of using fruit topping on the top and uses ingredients that I usually have handy around the house. The dough that I use is also pretty versatile; it can be used as a sandwich cookie, or regular sugar cookies and can be flavored with lemon or orange zest, or almond extract. Really, whatever you want. Some people roll the dough balls with chopped nuts, shredded coconut, etc before they bake them. Or sprinkle them with powder sugar before serving.  The possibilities are endless!  Not convinced yet of its versatility? It also freezes great, and makes a large batch… there! You can always have these handy in the freezer, and when you want something to snack on or have company over, you have freshly baked homemade cookies waiting to the delight of your guests.

I also found it work best for me, to roll the dough using my hand first, then make make the small indentation, bake them, fill them, then finish baking the rest of the time. Some people may indent it halfway through the baking, then fill it. Others want to just make the indentation at the beginning, fill them, then bake all the way through the entire time.

If you have never tried this recipe before–this is a must try!

Adapted from Martha Stewart Living, December 2003

Ingredients
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
1/4 cup of raspberry preserves/jam (you can substitute this for whatever filling you like)

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer with paddle attachment, beat butter, sugar, and salt until light and fluffy. Add yolks, one at a time, scraping the bowl after each addition. Add vanilla. With mixer on low, add flour; mix just until combined. Wrap in plastic; chill until firm, about 1 hour.

On parchment-lined baking sheets, drop about a teaspoon-size cookie dough, 1 inch apart. Use the back of a 1/4-teaspoon measure to gently press a hollow in the center of each dough mound.

Bake for about 8 min. Fill each hollow with 1/2 teaspoon jam or jelly, a chocolate chunk, or a nut, and return to the oven, and bake for another 8 minutes.

To make ahead: Refrigerate up to 2 weeks, or freeze up to 3 months.

Yield: 4 dozens


MSC: Tres Leches Cupcakes

May 15, 2010

While I love chocolate, especially the dark type, I actually prefer other flavor than chocolate for my cakes, yea I know, kind of weird right? We didn’t even have chocolate for our wedding cupcakes (we had everything but chocolate!) Lisa from Smiley’s Sweet and Creations chose Tres Leches Cupcakes on page 48 for our May’s selection, and I was thrilled to be able to try this recipe this month, especially since I had to miss last month’s bake off.

There were a few surprises from this recipe that I experienced along the way. I was able to only come up with 14 cupcakes instead of 20 as the recipe stated. I usually tend to have a few extra more than what the recipe calls for, so that was odd. The milk mixture also way too much for my 14 cupcakes–therefore my cupcakes were, well, soaked and literally dripped with this milk mixture through the liners. I used probably 1/2 cup at the most of the milk mixture, and they were a bit messy to eat, so this isn’t exactly a dessert that would be convenient to eat… it’s actually kind of messy.

I asked Red what he thinks of this cupcake and his response is: “Well, it’s different, kind of sweet but dense.” I love how it tastes: just enough hint of sweetness with milk flavor, but I am not particularly crazy about the texture. I love my cupcakes light and well, fluffy. Don’t forget to check out the other members’ creation here. Have a great weekend everyone!!


Wilton Class 3

May 9, 2010

I decided to sign up for another Wilton class, since three of my other classmates from the second class decided to continue on. My energy level was still at all-time high from the second trimester boost, and I wanted to put it to good use! I don’t necessarily like the taste of fondant; but I thought that it would still be neat to be able to learn how to work with them. Later, I found out that Wilton has decided to revamp their classes in June, so I knew that this would probably my last opportunity to take advantage of the “soon to be obsolete” classes.

1st lesson
During the first meeting, we practiced with several types of borders using regular butter-cream icing.  Fortunately, I had about a cup of leftover icing from my second class, and I decided not to make a batch of fresh icing since it was only a week old. It worked fine because we didn’t use it to frost any cakes. We just practiced making borders on our practice board and then threw them away after I used it.

2nd lesson
For the second night, we were required to bring in two stacked cakes, already covered with thin consistency butter-cream icing. I debated for a long time whether I was going to make two layers of 9-inch round cakes, or just stack two square cakes. I ended up making 9×13-sized cake, cut them in half and stack them. We learned how to work with fondant & then make fondant roses–and we ran out of time. Nobody ended up with a complete cake this evening; since we spent probably an hour working on the fondant roses and then the rest of the time with rolling fondant to cover the cake. I was debating whether I should post this picture below, I am a tad bit embarrassed that I ran out of time to finish, and I had to leave out of town the next day. But here you go anyway.

3rd lesson
I actually had to miss this lesson due to a work’s travel. This entire lesson was making royal icing flowers, such as poinsettia, lilies, etc. My instructor was kind enough to show me how to do this later–but I haven’t had time to practice them on my own at home. I do love how versatile royal icing is!

4th lesson
In getting ready for this last class, I had to make some fondant roses at home since I didn’t have any that turned out from the first night. I spent probably two hours making about 16-20 roses, leaves and the little white flowers. I still had a little bit of issue trying to find the right thickness of fondant that would make good looking roses. During my first trial, I thought that I rolled it too thin, and the petals did not hold up very well. For my second attempt, as shown on the picture below, I made them a little bit thicker, which makes thicker looking petals.

I also baked (2) 2-layers cake, one was a 10-inch size, and the 2nd one was a smaller 6-inch. They recommended a 4-inch different in the diameter of the cakes. In class, we basically had to assemble the cakes, put the borders on, and attached all of the flowers. Phew!

We also took pictures of all of the cakes from the three students in class. One of our classmates decided to drop the class, so we only ended up with three students. Here are our final cakes.


Corn Tortilla Chicken Lasagna

May 5, 2010

I love tex-mex flavor; but don’t get to make any dishes with that flavoring enough at home.  I don’t normally have a jar of salsa or tortilla laying around, therefore it’s really easy to exclude it from the weekly menu because I tend to start my menu based on what I have at home, then add some variations to it. As a nod to Cinco de Mayo’s day, I thought that I’d whip up this dish as variation; although it is really fabulous all year long considering how easy it is to assemble!

This recipe originally makes two casseroles (using 9×13 dish), but since I was only going to make one casserole, I had to make some modifications to the size used so that I didn’t waste the ingredients. Instead of 9×13 casserole dish, I also split it up into two pans of  9×9 inch so I could bake one and save the other one for later. Happy eating!

Adapted from Taste of Home Holiday, Potlucks & Barbecues

Ingredients
18 (6-inch) yellow corn tortillas
2 cans (13 ounces each) of cubed chicken
2 cans (16 ounces each) of kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 jar of salsa of your choice (24 ounce)
2 large green peppers, diced
1 can (16 ounce) of ripe olives
1 -1/2 cups of shredded Monterrey Jack cheese
1 -1/2 cups of shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Directions
In a greased 9×13-inch baking dish, arrange 9 of the tortillas. Top each with half of all of the ingredients (chicken, kidney bean, green pepper, ripe olives, sour cream, salsa, and both type of cheeses). Repeat layer.

Cover and bake at 350 degree for 25 minutes. Uncover, and bake another 10-15 min or longer until the cheese on top is melted. Let stand for about 10 minutes before serving.

Yield: 1 casserole (8-12 servings each)