Friday, July 11, 2014

Savory Beef Marinade

Savory Beef Marinade
It's grilling season!  During the heat of the summer my grill works overtime and I'm happy to find marinades that turn a simple grilled beef dinner into a delicious treat.  This savory beef marinade is a favorite for steak tips.  Serve your grilled beef tips with any garden salad for a satisfying meal whenever summer's heat keeps you out of the kitchen.

Savory Beef Marinade
Savory Beef Marinade

2-3 lbs beef tips
1 cup oil and vinegar based Italian salad dressing
1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 cup prepared barbecue sauce, your favorite
4-6 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary

Three to six hours before grilling, mix together all of the ingredients. Place the beef tips in either a plastic bag with a zip closure or a glass or ceramic pan.  Pour the marinade over the beef tips.  Cover and refrigerate for three to six hours.

Grill the beef tips for 4 to 6 minutes on each side, until cooked to your desired doneness. Let sit for 5 minutes before serving.



Thursday, March 20, 2014

Slow Cooker Southwest Chicken

When you crave the flavors of the Southwest take out your slow cooker for an easy to prepare, satisfying Southwest chicken dinner.  This recipe will feed and army, so if you don't have an army to feed you will have left overs that can be used for another meal or two.   For taco night place the shredded chicken on top of shredded lettuce in soft tortillas and top with the vegetable mixture.  You can also easily turn the left overs into a delicious soup by adding six to eight cups of chicken broth.

Slow Cooker Southwest Chicken

Southwest Chicken
  • 4- 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
  • 1 colorful bell pepper, red, yellow or orange, chopped
  • 1 lb package frozen corn kernels
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 medium zucchini, diced
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1/2 tablespoon granulated garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • One handful chopped fresh cilantro
  • Cooked brown rice, for serving
  • Garnishes: chopped avocado, red onion, sliced black peppers, shredded cheese
  • Chopped fresh cilantro

Layer all the vegetables and diced tomatoes in your six quart slow cooker.  Mix together the spices. Season the chicken breasts generously with the spice mixture.  Stir the remaining spice mixture into the vegetables. Nestle the seasoned chicken breasts into the vegetable mixture.  Cook on the high setting for 4 to 6 hours, or on low for 6-8 hours, until the chicken is cooked through and shreds easily.

Serve over cooked brown rice and topped with the garnishes of your choice.

Get the printable slow cooker southwest chicken recipe.


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A Strawberry Banana Lunch Smoothie

As the days on the calendar move closer and closer to the first day of spring I find myself thinking less about comfort food and more about fruits and salads.  Smoothies have become a favorite way for me to add fruits into my diet.  Smoothies have been all the rage for quite some time.  The problem with smoothies is that they can hide a whole lot of calories in a glass.  That means we have to be careful with our ingredients and aware of the resulting calorie count when consuming smoothies.  With that in mind I've been building a collection of favorite smoothie recipes that are both delicious and calorie conscious.

Today's smoothie is a favorite lunch smoothie.   It weighs in at 180 calories, with 38 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of fiber and 3 grams of protein.  Some days I use frozen strawberries and a frozen banana. The frozen fruit makes a very thick smoothie in the consistency of soft serve ice cream.  When I eat that for lunch I  feel like I'm am being very decadent.  Other days I'll thaw the strawberries and use a fresh banana which results in a smoothie that is much thinner in consistency.  You can also add water to thin the smoothie if you prefer your smoothies to be of a very thin consistency.

Strawberry Banana Smoothie

Strawberry Banana Lunch Smoothie
Makes one smoothie

  • 6 large frozen strawberries
  • 1 medium banana
  • 6 ounces coconut water
  • 1 teaspoon almond butter 
  • 1 teaspoon ground flax seed meal
  • 1/2 teaspoon stevia, optional

Place all of the ingredients in a blender and blend for 20-30 seconds, or until you achieve the consistency you like.  Use frozen fruit for a very thick smoothie.

Don't be afraid to use frozen berries when making smoothies.  I have found frozen berries to be superior to the fresh berries in my grocery store's produce department.  The frozen berries I have used have been consistently at peak ripeness which results in a very flavorful smoothie. When you use great berries you won't find it necessary to add any sweeteners.

Freezing bananas is a great way to be sure you always have bananas on hand that are at the perfect ripeness for your smoothies.  As my bananas ripen I remove the peel and wrap each banana individually in plastic wrap. Then I put the individually wrapped bananas into a resealable plastic bag in the freezer.  In addition to the smoothies you can also use the thawed  bananas in your favorite banana bread recipe or for a batch of banana cupcakes with maple frosting.



Tuesday, March 4, 2014

An Easy Way to Peel Garlic

If, like me, you love to cook with fresh garlic you will love this handy tip for how to peel multiple cloves in a few short seconds.  Lately, I've been buying the pre-peeled garlic being sold in produce departments that is packaged in sealed pouches containing six to eight garlic cloves.  I find it very handy to be able to reach into the refrigerator for a couple of peeled cloves to mince up quickly for a recipe.  Peeling garlic is not my favorite thing to do.

The other day I went to buy one of those packages of peeled garlic loves at my local grocery store only to find that they were out of them.  "They are on the next shipment," I was told.  Hmpf, I've been told that before.  I had a couple of bulbs of garlic at home in the pantry, so home I went.  I needed some garlic for a slow cooker recipe I was making.  As I began to pull the cloves of garlic from the bulb I remembered a garlic peeling tip I had heard some time ago, but never tried.

All you need in addition to your garlic cloves is a metal bowl and a cover.  I used a small plate as the cover for my bowl.

Just toss your unpeeled garlic cloves into the metal bowl.  Cover the bowl with the plate and shake.  Shake like your life depends on it for about 30 seconds, then take a look.  All that banging around in the bowl should leave your garlic cloves clean as a whistle.  It worked for mine as you can see below.

All of the peels will be left in your bowl.  Mine were.

Isn't this a great tip?  Thirty seconds and your garlic will be as clean as can be with no smelly, sticky fingers to deal with.

Updates based on Facebook feedback:
First, make sure the bowl you use is metal and medium to large in size.  You want plenty of room for your cloves to bang around.
Second, separate the cloves from the garlic head by giving the whole head a good bang on your counter before putting the whole head in the the bowl.
Practice a little.  It's all in the technique!  Good luck with this tip.



Monday, February 24, 2014

Cheddar Ranch Dip

Cheddar Ranch Dip
I like to keep a dip on hand in the refrigerator.  That way I always have something at the ready to offer a drop-in visitor.  It also helps to keep hungry family members at bay when dinner isn't quite ready, but
stomachs are grumbling.  This cheddar ranch dip is easy to make, packs a lot of flavor and keeps well in the fridge.

The flavor in this dip comes from a packet of prepared ranch dip seasoning.  I don't usually rely on pre-made seasoning mixtures, but in this case it makes this dip quick and easy to make.  With just five ingredients you cab have this dip ready to serve in 5 minutes.  How easy is that?

Cheddar Ranch Dip
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 ounce package ranch dip seasoning
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk, well shaken
  • 8 ounces sharp white cheddar cheese, shredded

Shred the cheddar cheese using the large slots of a box grater.  Place the cream cheese, seasoning packet, sour cream and buttermilk in a medium bowl.  Using a hand mixer, blend the ingredients together until smooth.  Stir the shredded cheese into the dip using the mixer.  Beat the ingredients together until the cheese is well combined.  Chill for a couple of hours to allow the flavors to combine.  Serve with your favorite crackers.

Get the printable cheddar ranch dip recipe.



Sunday, February 16, 2014

Almond Biscotti Recipe

Almond Biscotti and Coffee
The trouble with a snowy winter afternoon is that I sit around thinking about what would make the cold and dreariness go away.  More often than not the answer is a baked good of some kind.  Yesterday as the snow fell for the second time in three days, almond biscotti became the antidote to my mid-winter blahs.

Are you a biscotti fan?  Some people are not, but I think it must be because they have never had a really tasty biscotti.  When a biscotti is just right, it is crisp, with just the right amount of crumble in your mouth.  It should hold up when dunked in a steaming cup of coffee or tea, but be flavorful enough not to need to be dunked.  The light almond scent of these biscotti adds to the pleasure of eating these delicious treats.  The aroma, taste and texture all make almond biscotti perfect for your mid-afternoon pick me up, or after dinner dessert.

You'll find this biscotti recipe each to make.  Just try not to be impatient while you are waiting to eat one.  Biscotti must be baked twice, with a short cooling period in between.

Almond Biscotti
About 16 cookies
Almond Biscotti Fresh from the Oven

  • 1 1/4 cups sliced almonds, toasted
  • 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons egg whites

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Spread the almonds out on a baking sheet.  Place the baking sheet on the center rack of your oven for 5-10 minutes, just until the nuts start to brown slightly.  Remove the nuts from the oven to cool.  Grind 1/4 cup of the almonds into a fine powder and set aside.  Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees F.

Mix together the flour, baking powder, salt and ground almonds in a medium bowl.   Place the 2 whole eggs in the bowl of your stand mixer.  Beat the eggs on medium high speed until they become light in color and doubled in size, 3-6 minutes.  Add the melted butter, almond extract and vanilla, mixing well to combine.

Remove the bowl from the mixer.  Fold in half of the flour mixture using a spatula until just combined.  Add the remaining flour mixture and the almonds, continuing to fold until just combined.  Set aside.

Prepare your baking sheet by lining with parchment paper.  I find it helps to spray the pan with cooking spray to hold the parchment paper in place.  Divide the batter in half with your spatula and place each portion on your baking sheet in separate rectangles approximately 8" X 3" in size.  Flour your hands and pat the batter into the rectangular shape.  You'll want to be sure each rectangle is the same size to ensure even baking.  Brush each rectangle with the egg white.

Bake the biscotti on the center rack of your oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until lightly browned and the tops are beginning to crack.  Remove from the oven to cool for 20-30 minutes on the baking sheet.  When cooled, but still warm, place the biscotti on a cutting board.  Cut each rectangle on the bias into 1/2 inch slices. Place the sliced biscotti onto a wire rack on a baking sheet and return to the oven to bake for another 30-35 minutes, until each side is lightly browned. Turn each biscotti over halfway through the cooking time to ensure even browning.

Cool completely before serving.  Store in an airtight container for up to a month.

You can get the printable almond biscotti recipe here.

This cranberry pistachio biscotti recipe is also a favorite of mine.



Friday, February 7, 2014

Red Velvet Cake

Red Velvet Cake
Red velvet cake has become a favorite at my house.  For this reason I have worked on refining my favorite red velvet cake recipe to find just the right balance of moistness and crumb with the perfect marriage of cocoa and red food coloring.  I think this red velvet cake recipe does just that, and just in time for Valentine's Day.

What could be better than a red cake for Valentine's Day?  Nothing at all.  The red cake makes it special with the taste of chocolate that is sure to please.

Are you looking for the best red velvet cake recipe?  After trying multiple recipes for red velvet cake I settled on this one because it is very moist.  That comes from the oil used in the recipe instead of butter.  Butter, while tasty, can often make the texture of a cake a bit too dry.  Try this red velvet cake recipe and see if you agree that it is the best you have had.

Red Velvet Cake

Red Velvet Cake
  • 15 1/2 ounces all-purpose flour (approximately 3 1/2 cups)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
  • 13 ounces granulated sugar (approximately 1 3/4 cups)
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon red food coloring
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 Tablespoons water
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two nine inch cake pans.
In the bowl of your mixer (with a paddle attachment) mix the oil, sugar, and buttermilk. Add the eggs, food coloring, vinegar, vanilla and water. Mix well. Add half the dry ingredients, stir and add the rest, scraping down the sides and mixing just to combine.  Don't over mix to avoid making a tough cake.
Pour the batter into the cake pans. Bake for 35-40 minutes until the cake springs back when touched and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Frost with cream cheese frosting.

The Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 8 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3/4 pound confectioners' sugar (3 1/2 cups)

Cream together the cream cheese, butter and vanilla using your electric mixer and the paddle attachment. Sift the sugar into the cream cheese and butter mixture, mix on medium speed until well combined. Spread a generous amount of the frosting between the layers and on top of the cake.  Frosting the sides is optional.

Get the red velvet cake recipe.




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