Archive for December, 2010

I made this for my family’s Christmas Eve party.  It seemed to be a hit.  I’ve had good luck with dips from Annie’s Eats before (I definitely recommend the jalapeno popper dip) so I adapted the recipe from one she had on her site (Source).  I adapted it based on my own preferences and what was in the kitchen.  I love cheese and garlic and I prefer a slightly chunkier dip.  Also, my mother had done the shopping for the dip since I was baking it at my parent’s house and not at my home so I had to go with what was available.  Enjoy!

Spinach and Artichoke Dip

8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup sour cream
1/3 cup mayonnaise
10 oz. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1 can coarsely chopped canned artichoke hearts
5 cloves roasted garlic, smashed
¼ tsp. salt
½ tsp. roasted red pepper flakes

If you to make the roasted garlic: Preheat oven to 350˚ F. Take the five cloves of garlic and cut the tops of each clove.  Put the five cloves in a tin foil pouch.  Bake garlic for about 20-25 minutes or until soft.  Allow to cool before adding them to the dip recipe.  Squeeze roasted garlic out of each clove and smash with a knife to use in dip.

Preheat the oven to 400˚ F.  In a medium bowl, combine the cream cheese, Parmesan, sour cream, mayonnaise, spinach, artichokes, roasted garlic, salt and red pepper flakes.  For the artichokes, I pulled all the leaves off the hearts before roughly chopping them up.  Mix well with a rubber spatula until all ingredients are evenly blended.  Spread into a small baking dish (I used a gratin dish).  Sprinkle additional  Parmesan over the top if desired.  Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the top is slightly browned (I baked it in a toaster oven and it only took about 30 minutes to be done).  Serve warm with toasted baguette slices or  pita chips.

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This is part 2 of the Christmas cookie collection.  These are always a favorite among my family, my in-laws, and friends.  These are incredibly easy to make so even the least skillful baker could make them for a cookie exchange.  The biggest hitch is you need a large clear space for the wax paper to lay out the cookies to have the chocolate/butterscotch mixture set.


2 regular sized packages or semi-sweet chocolate morsels
1 regular sized package of butterscotch morsels
2 large bags of chow mein noodles (they also come in tin size.  This is the only ingredient that varies based on kitchen temperature – which will determine how well the chocolate/butterscotch hardens – and preference)

  1. Melt 2 regular sized packages of semi-sweet  chocolate morsels and 1 package of butterscotch morsels,
    stir the melted  chocolate and butterscotch together.
  2. Break up the chow mein noodles into smaller pieces.
  3. Then pour  into a bowl of  chow mein noodles (I usually use two large cans of LaChoy chow mein noodles.)  Slowly add the chow mein noodles into the mixture until the noodles are well coated and there is little remaining of the melted chocolate/butterscotch mixture that is not on the noodles.
  4. Stir  together. Continue breaking up the noodles with  hands or a spoon to make them into  smaller chunks.
  5. Line a large space with a few sheets of waxed paper.
  6. Drop the bite-sized cookies on waxed paper and let cookies cool to allow chocolate/butterscotch mixture to harden
  7. When you put cookies  in tins, put a layer of waxed paper between each layer.

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Pecan Balls

This is part 1 of my Christmas cookie collection.  These are a Christmas cookie tradition dating back to when I was a wee little one.  Enjoy!

Pecan Balls

1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
½ cup soft butter
1 cup finely chopped pecans*
2 tbsp granulated sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
Confectioners sugar for coating

  1. In large bowl, combine all ingredients except confectioners’ sugar.  With hands or on a low setting with a mixer, mix until thoroughly blended.  Refrigerate 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 375F.  Using hands, roll dough into balls,1 ¼ inch in diameter.  Place 1 inch apart on un-greased cookie sheet.
  3. Bake 15 to 20 minutes, or until cookies are set, but not brown.  Let stand 1 minute before removing from cookie sheet.  Remove to wire rack to cool slightly.
  4. Roll in confectioners’ sugar while still warm; cool completely.
  5. Just before serving, re-roll in powdered sugar.

*To chop the pecans I usually throw the bag of pecans into a food processor or blender.

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I made this a few weeks ago but got swamped and haven’t had a chance to update and put it up so I’m not positive the story behind it.  Oh well, I’m sure it wasn’t that interesting anyway.

I made chicken for B and made shrimp for myself.  The chicken I added water to occassionally to make sure that the adobo mixture (and chicken) stayed moist.


Adobo Chipotle Chicken (and Shrimp) Tacos

1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1 lime
4 chipotle peppers – canned in adobo sauce
1 cup onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic
4 tsp cumin
1 ½ tsp ground black pepper
1 ½ tsp salt
1/8 tsp allspice
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, thawed
10 shrimp, thawed
2 1/3 cup vegetable broth
3 bay leaves
1 oz gin

1.  Combine the lime juice, vinegar, onions, chipotle peppers, garlic, cumin, allspice, black pepper, and salt in a food processor and blend until smooth and creamy.

2.  Remove any excess fat from the thawed chicken.

3.  In a large dutch oven, heat 2 tbsp of oil and cook each side of the meat pieces until lightly browned. (heat 2 tbsp of oil in a sauce pan for shrimp)

4.  Pour the blended sauce over the meat (or shrimp) and add in the vegetable broth, bay leaves and gin.

5.  Cover and cook on medium heat for about 2 hours, turning every twenty minutes or so until the meat can easily be pulled apart. (For shrimp simmer for about 10-15 minutes)

6. Serve with lettuce, shredded cheese, taco shells, and your favorite taco fixins!

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So there are a few things common to every Thanksgiving feast, one being a crowd of family around.  As much as we love our families, sometimes we just want to sit down for a nice meal with just the two of us (insert “aw” or *snicker* “sap” here).  As lame as it sounds, my husband and I are both so busy and we rarely get to sit and enjoy a dinner without yelling “Margot, NO!” (Margot is our dog) or thinking about our respective work.  Before Thanksgiving we decided to do a “Jen and Brad Thanksgiving,” which, by the nature of being a “Jen and Brad Thanksgiving” would be slightly less traditional than the one we’ve had with our families.  First, it’s a Thanksgiving for two (and whatever ends up on the floor for the dog).  Second, 1/2 of the feasters doesn’t eat turkey.  Third, we have busy schedules and can’t really spend the whole day or days before preparing for the feast.  So behold, the “Mini Thanksgiving Feast for the Carnivore and Pescetarian” emerged.  There’s not really any awe-inspiring, creative recipes in here but I hope it helps those that are looking for a similar meal for the holidays now and in the future.  I’ve split this into the traditional components of Thanksgiving: bird, sides, gravy, dessert.  Enjoy!

2 Quorn Chik’en cutlets
1 Rotisserie Chicken from your friendly neighborhood grocery store

Rosemary mashed potatoes
3 Russet potatoes, peeled
1/2 cup half and half
2 tbsp butter, cubed
2 tbsp rosemary
1 tsp garlic powder

Peel and dice potatoes into 1/2 cubes.  Put in slightly salted water and boil.  Keep potatoes in water until soft when poked with a fork.  Drain potatoes and put back in pot.  Using a potato masher, mash potatoes.  Add 2 tbsp butter and mix well.  Add 1/2 cup half and half and mix well.  Mix in rosemary and garlic powder.

Whiskey Glazed Carrots (adapted from Annie’s Eats)
1 lb. carrots, peeled and cut into thick slices
4 tbsp. unsalted butter
1/4 cup Jim Beam (or other whiskey)
1/3 cup brown sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
In a large skillet with a lid, heat the butter over medium-high heat until melted.  Add half of the carrots to the pan and cook briefly just to sear, approximately 1-2 minutes.  Transfer to a plate and repeat with the remaining carrots.  Set aside. Very carefully add the whiskey to the pan and allow to evaporate for about 30 seconds.   Reduce the heat to medium.  Sprinkle the brown sugar into the pan and stir.  Mix in the carrots, stir well, and cover.  Cook until the carrots are fork-tender and the glaze has thickened, about 10-15 minutes.   Serve immediately.

Cranberry Sauce
Canned, jellied cranberry sauce (its my favorite and hey, its easy)

Mushroom gravy in a can (not the best flavor but again way easy)

Apple Crisp
3 Granny Smith Apples, peeled and diced into 1/2-inch pieces
2 tbsp. Apple Cider vinegar
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4  tsp ground or freshly grated nutmeg
2 tbsp granulated sugar
1/4  cup flour
1/2  cup fine graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 stick butter

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a 9 by 12 baking dish, combine apples, apple cider vinegar, cinnamon, nutmeg and sugar.  In a small bowl, mix flour, graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar and butter together using the tines of a fork and your fingers, working until even, small crumbles form. Sprinkle topping evenly over apples and bake 15 to 20 minutes until apples are just tender and topping is golden brown.

We also had dinner rolls from our friendly neighborhood grocery store.  So behold, an easy faux Thanksgiving feast!

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I started out thinking I was going to pull a master Food Network chef and whip something up out of nothing.  I had originally intended to make traditional chicken parmesan but after some discussion with my husband we decided to do something slightly healthier than breaded and fried chicken (and chik’en) with loads of cheese.  I made a hybrid bruschetta chicken-chicken parm dish as a result.   Yet again this is a garlic heavy recipe; if you aren’t as much of a fan of garlic amend accordingly.

Healthier Chicken Parmesan (Serves 2-4 depending on hunger and size of chicken breasts)
4 Chicken breasts, thawed and chopped (I used 2 chicken breasts and 2 Quorn chik’en cutlets)
2 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp garlic, minced
2 tbsp basil, chopped
1/2 cup onions, diced
1/2 cup tomato sauce
3 cups tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup roasted red peppers
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella
Parmesan cheese to taste
Salt and pepper to taste

After thawing and dicing the chicken breasts, add olive oil, 2 tbsp of garlic, onions, salt, and pepper.  Saute onions and garlic until soft; be sure not to burn the garlic.  Add the chicken (or chik’en).   If needed add a bit of liquid to cook the chicken to ensure that the garlic does not burn (I needed to do this and used 1/4 cup of water because we were out of cooking wine).  Add tomato sauce when chicken is cooked (approximately 15 minutes or until liquid boils down).  Add remaining garlic, tomatoes, and roasted red peppers.  Cook an additional 4-5 minutes.  Add mozzarella and parmesan cheese to top of chicken mixture.  Heat under boiler until cheese is melted.  Serve over pasta with remaining tomato sauce.


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