Sunday, February 26, 2012

Cajun Chicken Pasta

Cajun Chicken Pasta
I have been baking quite a bit for my family, so it was about time for a little change! decided I wanted to make something for the fam bam that they would appreciate.  Not just a regular marinara sauce pasta or an alfredo sauce one, but something that they had not had at home yet.  I decided to go with making a recipe that I saw on a while ago.  It stuck out to me because of it's spiciness (and being on the healthier side), which is something that my family wold love! So I gave it a go.  Although I used too much Cajun spices for my own liking, everyone in my household thought it was good.  I will leave up the exact amount of spices to your tastebuds! One side note is make sure and not use too much Cajun seasoning or your dish will turn to be on the saltier side.  Anyways, enjoy this great flavored pasta!

Ingredients (4-6 servings):
8 ounces uncooked linguine
1 pound chicken (cut into strips)
1 1/2 tsp Cajun seasoning (or more according to taste)
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1 tbsp olive oil
1 red bell pepper
1 green bell pepper 
8 oz mushrooms (I bought sliced ones)
1/2 red onion
4 cloves garlic
2 medium tomatoes
1 cup chicken broth
1/3 cup milk (I like using nonfat, but we didn't have any so I used whole)
1 tbsp flour
3 tbsp light cream cheese
1/8 tsp black pepper (more/less according to taste)
1/8 tsp salt (more/less according to taste)
2 scallions (optional)
cooking spray

1. Prepare pasta according to the directions on the package.  To make sure that the pasta boils fast and does not stick together after draining, add a little bit of oil and a pinch of salt to the water before it starts boiling. 
2. Cut red pepper, green pepper, and red onions into long strips.  Mince the garlic.  Dice the tomatoes.
3. In a blender, blend milk, flour, and cream cheese.  Pour into a small bowl and set aside.
4. Season the chicken strips with Cajun seasoning, garlic powder, and a little of the garlic.   
5. Heat a large skillet on medium high, spray with cooking spray, and add the chicken to the skillet.  Brown the chicken, about 6 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.  Set aside on a plate.
6. Add olive oil to the skillet and reduce the heat to just medium.  
7. Add in the bell peppers, onions and remaining garlic.  Saute on skillet for about 4 minutes.
8. Add in the mushrooms and tomatoes.  Saute for an addition 4 minutes or until all the vegetables are nice and tender. 
9. Add salt and black pepper to taste.  
10. Reduce the heat to medium low and add in chicken broth and mixture from step 3. Stir for about 4 minutes. 
11. Place the chicken back in the skillet.  Toss around and add extra Cajun seasoning and salt to taste.  Again be care not too add too much or your dish will be too salty. Cook for another few minutes to really mix everything in with the chicken.
12.  Add in the cooked linguine to the skillet and mix everything so the linguine is well coated with the sauce.  
13. Top with scallions.
14. ENJOY! 

Friday, February 24, 2012

Apple Cinnamon Crumble Muffins

Apple Cinnamon Crumble Muffins
It was breakfast time last weekend, and I really wanted to eat something warm out of the oven.  I love the combination of apples and cinnamon in almost anything.  Pie, cereal, bars, pies, anything!  The two pair so well together and because we had a ton of apples (Fuji to be exact) at home, I decided I wanted to make something with them! Now what to make, well muffins are always a quick and easy thing to eat! Early in the morning, it will have your house smelling DELIGHTFUL! Also, with a side of coffee, it was just what I was craving for! Thanks twopeasandtheirpod for this delicious recipe! YUM!

Ingredients for Muffins
Ingredients (makes about 24 muffins):
non-stick spray
2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup brown sugar (I used light brown)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/8 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground all-spice
1 cup milk (or 1 cup buttermilk)
2 tbsp white vinegar (omit if you have buttermilk)
1/4 cup canola oil
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large apples (should be about 2 cups after dicing)
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp cinnamon
3 tbsp butter

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. 
2. Spray muffin pan with the non-stick baking spray. 
3. In a large bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, brown sugar, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and all-spice.  I only had whole all spice that I used a mortar to grind up. 
4. In a small bowl, mix together buttermilk, oil, egg, and vanilla extract. **On a side note, I did not have buttermilk so I took just a cup of milk and added 2 tbsp of vineger and then let it sit for a couple minutes.  It worked perfectly as a substitution to buttermilk!**
Dry ingredients (top) and wet ingredients (bottom)
5. Pour the wet ingredients for step 4 over the dry ingredients in step 3. Mix until the wet and dry ingredients are just combined. Make sure to not over mix. 
7. Peal and dice apples.
8. Fold in the diced apples.  Do not over mix.
9. To make the crumble that goes on top, take a small bowl and combine brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, and melted butter. Mix with a spoon until the mixture takes on a crumbly appearance.

10. Fill the sprayed muffin pan with the muffin batter.  Fill each cup about 3/4 the way full and sprinkle each muffin with crumble topping. 
Fill 2/3 way with mixture.
Top with crumble
11. Bake for 20 minutes. If you insert a toothpick, it should come out clean, indicating the muffins are done.
12. Cool for about 5-10 minutes.
13. ENJOY! 

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Crab Wontons

Crab Wontons
Who doesn't love wontons?!  I know I love ordering them at restaurants.  I absolutely love the sweet and crunchy flavor of the won tons, and it really is a great appetizer before a meal.  Oh and with the right sweet and sour sauce, it's beyond amazing! I have always wanted to try and make them, but thought that it would be hard to do.  Turns out, it's actually not that bad.  I had a group of people helping me with the folding, which really is the only part that takes a while.  Otherwise, its just mixing everything up and putting them in the wrappers.  I bought my wrappers this time, next time though, I will have to even make that from scratch! Anyways, enjoy these delicious, crunchy, savory bits of delight.  Make sure and make the whole 45 because they go REAL fast!

Ingredients for the Wontons
Ingredients  (makes about 45 small won tons): 
2-3 cups oil for deep frying
6 oz crab meat or imitation crab meat
8 oz package cream cheese (1/3 fat or whipped)
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp sesame oil
5 scallions
3 cloves garlic
1/8 tsp chili powder 
1 egg white
1 (12 oz) package of wonton wrappers

1. Heat oil in a medium frying pan to about 375 degrees. To test the temperature drop a very tiny piece of crab meat into the oil and see if it sizzles.  Make sure after it's initially heated, that you turn it down to medium when you actually fry the wontons so not to burn the wontons.
2. Chop the scallions and garlic into very small pieces.
3. Chop the crab meat into tiny squares.
4. In a medium bowl, mix the crab meat, cream cheese, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, sesame oil, scallions, garlic, and chili powder.
5. Take a wonton wrapper, cover all four sides of it with egg white, place about 1 teaspoon of the crab mixture into the middle of the wonton wrapper.
6. Fold all corners up so that they all meet in the middle and pinch all four sides making sure to seal it tightly.
7. Fry in the oil for about 3-4 minutes or until they are a nice golden brown.
8. ENJOY with some sweet and sour sauce!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread
My mom takes full advantage of my love for baking by asking me to bake things for her to take to other dawats (desi gathering) and such.  She wanted banana bread, but I thought, why not make it chocolate chip banana bread instead since I have all the ingredients.  So my mom decided to take this to a Halaqa (Muslim gathering) where apparently it was a hit with the men (the women's side didn't get any!).  Who doesn't like chocolate and bananas?! Anyways, this is pretty delicious bread so you should definitely give this recipe a try!
Oh on a side note, this will have you house smelling AMAZING and fresh out of the oven taste SO GOOD! :D

Ingredients for the Bread!
Ingredients (makes one loaf):
non-stick baking spray
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 eggs, beaten
  • 4 medium very ripe bananas (riper the better!)
  • 1/8 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon poweder (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Spray 9x5 inch loaf pan.
3. Mash the bananas so no large pieces remain.
4. In a bowl, mix flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. 
5. In another bowl, cream together melted butter and brown sugar.
Dry ingredients to the left and eggs and vanilla extract to the right
6. Stir in beaten eggs and mashed bananas into wet ingredients (mixture 5). 
7. Stir banana mixture into flour mixture.  Stir to just moisten, do not over stir. 
8. Fold in chocolate chips.
9. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan. 
10. Top with cinnamon powder and about 10 chocolate chips.   
11. Bake for 60 to 65 minutes.  If you insert a toothpick, it should come out clean, indicating it is done. 
12. Cool for about 10 minutes before cutting.
13. ENJOY!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Coconut Clouds

Coconut Clouds
I love coconut in my cookies, but other than that I really am not that big of a fan of it.  These cookies are pretty dang good though.  Inspired by Skinnytaste's To Die For Coconut Cookies, these cookies are the perfect mixture of crunch and softness.  The base of this recipe is very meringue-like so it is super healthy and very fluffy.  No need to feel guilty after eating them!  On a side note, I tried making this my very first time by hand, without an electric mixer, and it's not possible to do.  To form the perfect peaks, you will need an electric mixer.  Hands are just not fast enough to get the right consistency.

One of my friends happens to love these cookies (I brought it to her after my first successful batch), and because she was spending the night at my house, I decided to make this as a special little treat for her.  Hopefully, now that I am posting this she will go and give it a try on her own!

Ingredients (about 24-26 cookies):
3 egg whites
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp lemon juice
1 cup sweetened coconut flakes
2 cups corn flakes (or 3/4 cup corn flake crumbs)
1/8 cup semi-sweet chocolate (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Crush corn flakes with a food processor or a blender.
3. Whip the eggs whites until they are slightly frothy on low with your electric mixer (about 1-2 minutes).
4. Add in sugar and lemon juice to the egg whites.
5. Whip, on medium-high with electric mixer, until hard peaks form (about 9-10 minutes).  The mixture should remind you of meringue.  (On a side note, a peak is basically when you lift up your whisk, the mixture stays risen where the whisk was.)
6. Fold in coconut flakes and crushed corn flakes, making sure to not over mix. 
7. With a spoon, drop cookie mix onto a cookie sheet (lined with wax/parchment paper) by the spoonfuls.
8. Bake for about 18-20 minutes just until they are golden.
9. Let cool for about 10 minutes.
10. Drizzle with chocolate to add a decorative touch. For the drizzle, melt semi-sweet chocolate in the microwave for about 1 minute, making sure to stir every 20 seconds. Take a fork and drizzle the chocolate on top of the cooled cookies.
11. ENJOY!
Kid Approved!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Strawberry-Raspberry Frozen Yogurt

Strawberry-Raspberry Frozen Yogurt
OH MY GOODNESS! Quite possibly the best gift that I have gotten in a while has to be my new ICE CREAM MAKER!  I have always wanted to make ice cream, but never had the guts to actually buy an ice cream maker.  I was always under the impression that it was expensive and/or it was really complicated to make.  I will give you that it's a bit hard depending on your maker, but nothing you can't learn easily.  Wow, I just can't contain how excited this gift has made me!  Now I just can't wait until summer, when all the fruits are in season, to make all the different variations of cold desserts!

Yes, I am pretty darn excited about making cold desserts, but especially my personal favorite cold dessert, FRO-YO (frozen yogurt)!  And now that I can control what goes into it, I can make it even healthier than the store bought stuff!  Use low-fat yogurt, low fat half n half, Splenda, ANYTHING!  For my first ever cold dessert experiment, I decided to make a yummy strawberry-raspberry fro-yo.  Nothing too fancy, but then again I didn't want to go all out on my first try at this! Anyways, enough with my excitement and on with the recipe!

Ingredients for Yogurt
Ingredients (about 5-6 servings):
1 16 oz package of strawberries
1 2-pound container low-fat raspberry yogurt
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup half and half 
3 cups rock salt
3 pounds of ice

1. Mash the thawed strawberries until there are no chunks left.
2. Combine the strawberries with the yogurt, sugar, and half n half.
3. Mix well and make sure that the mixture is still cold (if not put in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes).
4. Pour mixture in the canister of your ice cream maker.
5. Follow instructions according to your ice cream maker (each maker is slightly different).  This is where you will need ice and rock salt for your frozen yogurt to properly form (the measurements for this was according to the ice cream maker that I have, yours might be different).
6. Ice cream maker will churn the mixture for about 30-40 minutes before your mixture is turned into frozen yogurt.
7. You can eat the fro-yo right away or store it in a air tight container in the freezer.