Monday, September 22, 2014

Thai Basil Chicken



Thai basil chicken may be the most popular Thai dish of them all. Chicken, mushrooms, a savory sauce, and loads of basil are quickly cooked and served alongside jasmine rice. The perfect weeknight meal and a crowd favorite!

If you've never had Thai Basil Chicken, you're in for a treat! This simple stir-fry comes together in minutes but tastes restaurant quality. The sauce is savory and addictive. The chicken and mushrooms are sliced thin so they cook fast and soak up tons of flavor. The basil is the true star of this dish. It seems like you're adding a lot but I promise, it's not overpowering. Just delicious!

I'm a rice fanatic so I like to serve this over jasmine rice. It'd also be good wrapped in a lettuce wrap or over noodles!

Thai basil or basil? Traditionally, Thai basil is used - and should be, if you can find it. I sub in regular basil and it's still amazing.


Thai Basil Chicken
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
2 tablespoons chopped Thai chile pepper, ribs and seeds removed (sub in Serrano if Thai isn't easily found)
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into thinly sliced bite sized pieces
16 ounce package sliced white mushrooms
3 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 cup chicken stock
2 cups Thai basil leaves, roughly chopped

Heat the oil in a large wok over medium-high heat. Add the chopped garlic and cook until golden brown. Add the chile pepper and stir well.

Add the chicken and cook until almost cooked through. Reduce the heat to medium and add the mushrooms, fish sauce, oyster sauce, sugar, and chicken stock. Stir until the mushrooms are softened and the chicken is cooked through. Add the chopped basil and mix well.

Serve hot alongside steamed jasmine rice.

Source: adapted from Foo Swasdee

Friday, September 19, 2014

Honey Mustard Sauce



Everyone's favorite dipping sauce couldn't be easier to make! Creamy, sweet, and tangy - perfect for chicken nuggets. Just 4 ingredients!

Honey mustard is my go-to dipping sauce for chicken nuggets, tenders, and fries but I also love smothering it over chicken (like Outback's Alice Springs Chicken). I'm beginning to think that children will eat just about anything dipped in honey mustard! :)

You could whisk this together right before dinner and it'd be delicious but I found it's even better the next day.


Honey Mustard Sauce
1 cup mayonnaise
4 tablespoons yellow mustard
2 tablespoons lemon juice
4 tablespoons honey

Whisk together all ingredients. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. 

Source: adapted from All Recipes

Monday, September 15, 2014

(Skinny) Bang Bang Shrimp Pasta



If you love Bang Bang Shrimp, you'll love this pasta - and it's low calorie, to boot! Just 350 calories a serving!

Bang Bang Shrimp is perhaps one of the most popular chain restaurant appetizers - and for good reason. It's addictive, creamy, and slightly spicy. I made a copycat version several years ago and while my photo is awful, the recipe is delicious. The only downside to that version? The calories! We're talking deep fried shrimp. Droolworthy but too much of a splurge to be a regular weeknight meal.

This version? You'll add it to your menu rotation in no time flat. Fast, easy, and guiltless. The shrimp is well seasoned and quickly sauteed while the pasta cooks. Toss with a flavorful sauce and you've got dinner on the table in 20 minutes or less! The chili sauce has some heat to it but not burn-your-face-off heat. If you like spice, be sure and up the Sriracha sauce.

Not gonna lie. We fought over these leftovers :)

You should be able to find the Thai Sweet Chili Sauce in the international aisle at your grocery store. Note: this is not the same as Heinz Chili Sauce. 


{Skinny} Bang Bang Shrimp Pasta
8 ounces angel hair pasta
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 pound medium shrimp, shelled and deveined
1 tablespoon coconut oil
6 tablespoons light mayonnaise
1/4 cup Thai Sweet Chili Sauce
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 teaspoons Sriracha (or more, if you like it hot!)
3 green onions, chopped

Cook the angel hair pasta according to package directions. Drain, return to the pot, and set aside.

Combine the cornstarch, paprika, salt, and pepper in a gallon sized ziptop bag. Add the shrimp, seal, and shake gently until the shrimp are well coated.

Heat the coconut oil in a large wok over medium-high heat. Cook the shrimp, stirring often, until pink and cooked through, about 3-4 minutes.

In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, chili sauce, lime juice, and Sriracha. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed.

Pour the sauce over the cooked pasta and toss together. Add the shrimp and toss gently.

Serve topped with chopped green onions. 

Source: adapted from Skinny Mom (includes full nutritional info)

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Grilled Naan Bread Pizza with Mango Chutney, Prosciutto, and Ricotta



An Indian twist on pizza! Fresh naan bread is topped with a mango chutney infused tomato sauce, mozzarella, ricotta, and prosciutto before grilling. The tastiest pizza you'll make at home and it takes just 20 minutes to make!

I'm such an Aarti Sequeria fan, and I hate that her show isn't on anymore! She won Food Network Star a few years ago and her angle was bringing flavors of India into American food. Matter of fact, this pizza was from her time on Food Network Star before she even won!

Her version calls for baking the pizzas at a high heat but I'm a grill fan. Don't have one? Just bake at 450 for 10-15 minutes instead. My limited access (read: no access) to paneer meant I was therefore too lazy to make my own so I just switched it out with another cheese. Feta would be perfect but my husband isn't a fan so I used ricotta - also delicious! Really, you can't go wrong.

Fresh and/or frozen naan bread can be found in most grocery stores now, including Trader Joes. Mango chutney should be readily available in the international aisle at most grocery stores, too. I pick up prosciutto at the deli counter to save money!


Grilled Naan Bread Pizza
1/2 cup tomato paste
2 tablespoons sweet mango chutney
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup water
salt and pepper
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1 green onion, finely chopped
1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
extra virgin olive oil
4 pieces of naan bread
4 slices prosciutto, diced

Preheat your grill to medium-high. 

In a small saucepan, combine the tomato paste, mango chutney, minced garlic, and water over medium heat, until well combined. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes and then remove the saucepan from heat and set aside. 

In a small bowl, combine the mozzarella, ricotta, red pepper flakes, cilantro, green onion, ground cumin and a tablespoon or so of extra-virgin olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. 

Spread the tomato-mango chutney sauce evenly over the 4 naan pieces. Evenly spread the cheese mixture over top and then add the chopped prosciutto

Lightly oil the grates and place the pizzas on the grill. Grilling, rotating occasionally, for 5-7 minutes or until the crust is crispy along the edges. 

Source: adapted from Aarti Sequeria

Monday, September 8, 2014

Coconut Cilantro Rice



Basmati rice is cooked in a mixture of cilantro, coconut, chiles, and spices resulting in a colorful, slightly spicy, and very tasty side dish perfect for Indian and Mexican foods alike! This is definitely not your momma's steamed white rice.

I adore both Indian and Mexican cuisine. Have you thought about how similar they are? I know, I know, the dishes really aren't similar but if you think about the spices and flavor profile they both have you'll see what I mean. Coconut, cilantro, and cumin are used in both cuisines which made this rice a total hit for our family.

I served this alongside an Indian dish one night and then used the leftovers in homemade burrito bowls two nights later. It worked perfect both ways!

Truth be told... we prefer this rice over Chipotle's Cilantro-Lime Rice. It's got loads more flavor!


Coconut Cilantro Rice
1 cup basmati rice
3 large handfuls of fresh cilantro
1/4 cup sweetened coconut flakes
3 jalapenos, ribs and seeds removed unless you like lots of spice!
1 garlic clove
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups water

Rinse the rice and set aside.

In a food processor, combine the cilantro, coconut, jalapenos, and garlic. Pulse until it's a coarse paste.

Heat the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once melted, add the onion and cook, stirring often, for 6-8 minutes or until the onions are browned and soft. Add the cumin and cloves and stir well, coating the onions. Add the rice, salt, and coconut-cilantro paste. Stir to coat the rice with the paste and then pour in the water. Stir and bring to a boil.

Once boiling, turn heat to low and cover. Cook for 15 minutes or until the water is absorbed.

Remove from heat, stir, and serve hot.

Source: adapted from Lisa's Kitchen

Friday, September 5, 2014

Grilled Zucchini and Yellow Squash Pasta Salad



Still have lots of zucchini and squash at your house? This pasta salad is tasty way to use them up! Pieces of grilled zucchini and squash are tossed with toasted pine nuts, chopped olives, and a simple oil and vinegar dressing. Light, fresh, and a delicious way to eat your veggies. Simple... but delicious!

As soon as zucchini and squash hit the store, we are all over it. They are some of our favorite vegetables! If you're like me and love to grill them, step them up with this super simple salad. Oregano, pine nuts, and olives are the perfect accompaniment to the otherwise standard pasta salad.

Since it's not mayo based, this is especially perfect for a potluck or picnic!



Grilled Zucchini & Yellow Squash Pasta Salad
16 ounces farfalle pasta
1 pound yellow squash, cut into 1 inch chunks
1 pound zucchini, cut into 1 inch chunks
1/2 cup olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons Champagne vinegar
salt and fresh ground pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
1/4 cup chopped green or kalamata olives

Bring a large pot of water to boil and cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain and rinse thoroughly under cool water.

Preheat the grill to medium. Thread the zucchini and squash chunks onto skewers, brush lightly with olive oil on all sides, and sprinkle with salt. Grill, turning occasionally, until very tender, about 10-15 minutes. Remove from the grill and transfer the pieces to a large bowl.

Meanwhile, whisk together remaining olive oil (about 1/4 cup), vinegar, and black pepper.

In the bowl with the vegetables, add the cooked pasta, oregano, pine nuts, olives, and dressing. Toss and adjust seasonings if needed.

Serve warm or cold. 

Source: adapted from Sunset Magazine

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Indian Spiced Grilled Shrimp and Okra



Looking for a 10 minute weeknight meal? This grilled shrimp and okra is not only quick to make, it's delicious! The ~200 calories a serving doesn't hurt, either ;) A simple blend of curry, coriander, and serrano pepper coat the shrimp and okra before grilling to give big flavor without the hassle of a marinade.

Like all good southerners, we're fans of okra. My preference is deep fried while Jason loves his pickled. Neither of us had tried grilling it before! Most people love okra but are turned off by the slimy insides. Grilling it removes all slime! It makes them softer but still have a bit of bite to them. I picked up some fresh okra at the farmer's market and this was the perfect way to use them.

Shrimp is always an easy weeknight meal choice. It's extremely low calorie, relatively inexpensive, and cooks super fast. So fast, in fact, that you have to be careful to not overcook and turn them into rubber. Grilling is by far my favorite method to cook shrimp thanks to the gorgeous char marks they come away with. That, mixed with the okra, makes one delicious meal.

We love Indian cuisine and this spice blend is perfect. Not too spicy, especially if you remove the seeds and ribs from the serrano, and loads of flavor.


Indian Spiced Grilled Shrimp & Okra
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon curry powder (I use mild)
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 serrano chile, ribs and seeds removed and minced
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined with tails in tact
1 pound okra pods, trimmed
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
salt, to taste

Preheat grill to medium-high heat.

Combine vegetable oil, curry, coriander, and serrano in a large mixing bowl. Add the shrimp and okra to the bowl, tossing to coat.

Thread the shrimp and okra onto skewers. Lightly coat the grates with cooking spray and then place the skewers on the grill. Grill 3 minutes per side, or until well marked and cooked through.

Sprinkle with salt and chopped cilantro before serving.

Source: adapted from Cooking Light June 2014

Monday, September 1, 2014

Homemade Ketchup



This homemade ketchup is easy, inexpensive, and tastes better than any store-bought version I've tried!  Perfect on burgers, hot dogs, or fries.

Speaking of burgers and hot dogs... Happy Labor Day! Are they on your menu today or are you cooking up something else? I hope that many of you have plans to soak up just a few more hours of summer before we launch all the way into September.

Awhile back, I hosted a children's event and we made this ketchup. I'd never made ketchup before and couldn't believe how easy it was! The kids devoured it and all claimed it to be 'the best ketchup ever', which is high marks considering they are ketchup connoisseurs...

Throw in the pot, whisk, simmer, done. Couldn't be easier!

At just 20 calories a tablespoon, it's also guilt free! 


Homemade Ketchup
6 ounce can tomato paste
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk until smooth. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring often. 

Remove from heat, cover, and let cool. Once cooled, transfer to a storage container and store in the refrigerator until chilled. 

Source: Skinnytaste 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Honey Lime Chicken Enchiladas



Sticky sweet lime chicken and loads of shredded cheese are stuffed into warm flour tortillas, rolled, and baked in a creamy green sauce until bubbling. This weeknight meal is one of our favorite enchilada recipes to date!

I think I've eaten enchiladas 4 million times in my 30 something years on earth. We are Tex Mex addicts and enchiladas are just a staple in our diet. I really love them all. Sour cream, chili con carne, chili con queso, Tex Mex chili, ranchero, tomatillo, mole, red, boom boom (thanks, Chuys!)... any sauce you put on them, I'm gonna love it. This creamy green sauce is very mild and would be a hit even among picky eaters. Thanks to the use of prepared enchilada sauce, it's also super easy!

This recipe uses the greatness that is the grocery store rotisserie chicken. The chicken filling is simple and delicious - honey, lime juice, chili powder, garlic powder. It creates this citrusy sweet and sticky chicken that is amazing alongside the slightly tangy sauce and gooey melted cheese.

Flour or corn tortillas? Corn is traditional for enchiladas - and amazing - but I don't have access to good corn tortillas here in North Carolina so I reach for (or make) flour tortillas. The upside is that they roll easier but the downside is that they are higher in calories. I think either way is a winner!



Honey Lime Chicken Enchiladas
6 tablespoons honey
5 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
3 cups boneless skinless rotisserie chicken meal, shredded
8-10 fajita size flour tortillas, or corn tortillas
1 pound monterey jack cheese, shredded
16 ounces green enchilada sauce
1/2 cup canned evaporated milk

Whisk together the honey, lime juice, chili powder, and garlic powder in a large bowl. Add the shredded chicken and mix well. Cover and let marinate in the fridge for at least 30 minutes (preferably longer!).

Preheat oven to 350.

Pour 1/2 cup enchilada sauce on the bottom of a 9x13 baking pan.

Assemble the enchiladas by filling tortillas with chicken and shredded cheese. Reserve the remaining marinade and 1 cup of the shredded cheese. *if using corn tortillas, you'll need to wrap them in a kitchen towel and microwave in small batches to make them pliable for rolling. They will only need 15 seconds or so to warm enough but cool off quickly. 

Mix together the leftover marinade, remaining enchilada sauce, and evaporated milk. Pour over top and sprinkle with remaining cheese.

Bake for 30 minutes or until brown and crispy on top.

Source; adapted from Stephanie Cooks

Monday, August 25, 2014

Grilled Chile-Lime Shrimp with Israeli Couscous, Mango, and Zucchini



The perfect end of summer dish! Marinated grilled shrimp is tossed with Israeli couscous and grilled mango and zucchini. Only one pot needed and done in just minutes thanks to your grill!

This dish was by far my favorite meal of the past couple of months. The char on the zucchini and mango, the flavor burst in each shrimp, and my favorite carb - Israeli couscous - came together in one easy summer meal that tasted restaurant quality... and was beautiful to boot!

Ignore all the pumpkin posts rolling out in August - grab some fresh summer produce and savor the season before it ends! :)


Grilled Chile-Lime Shrimp with Israeli Couscous, Mango, and Zucchini
For the shrimp:
1.5 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined with tails on
1 teaspoon grated lime zest
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne

For the couscous:
2 cups Israeli couscous
1 mango
1 medium zucchini
Vegetable oil, for brushing
2.5 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley leaves
salt and pepper, to taste

Pat the shrimp dry with a paper towel and place in a large ziptop bag. In a medium bowl, whisk together all the remaining shrimp ingredients. Pour over top of the shrimp, seal, refrigerate, and let marinate for 20 minutes (no more or your shrimp will turn into ceviche!).

Preheat your grill to medium-high.

In a medium pot over medium-low heat, toast the dry couscous, stirring often, until golden brown, 8-10 minutes. Transfer the toasted couscous to a small bowl and set aside.

Peel the mango and cut off slices each 1/2 inch thick (you should be able to get 4 slices). Slice the zucchini lengthwise into sticks about 3 inches long. Brush the mango and zucchini with vegetable oil on both sides and grill until charred and tender, 6-8 minutes. Let cool slightly and then cut into 1/2 inch chunks.

In the medium pot you used to toast the couscous, bring the chicken stock to a boil. Add the toasted couscous, stir, cover, reduce heat and simmer for 7 minutes. Add the diced mango, diced zucchini, butter, and parsley. Cook for 1 minute. Taste and add salt pepper if desired. Keep warm.

Skewer the marinated shrimp and grill until just cooked through, 2 minutes per side.

Serve shrimp on top of couscous.

Source: "In My Kitchen" by Ted Allen
 

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Cajun Chicken Pasta (Chili's Copycat)



If you like Chili's Cajun Chicken Pasta, you'll love this copycat version! Cajun spiced chicken is sliced and nestled in creamy Alfredo sauce - weeknight friendly and crowd pleasing.

Occasionally, we order Chili's take-out. It's convenient and frankly, darn tasty! I'm a total sucker for their chips and queso (my copycat version here!) but occasionally venture beyond the carb & cheese bonanza and order a dignified meal. Like cheesy pasta. Ha!

Their Cajun chicken pasta has been on the menu for years - and for good reason! It's tasty! My Chili's is now charging $11.29 for a bowl of this pasta and you can make it for the entire family for much less than that. And, it's quick and easy for a weeknight!

Not a fan of spice? Just decrease the Cajun seasoning - it'll still have loads of flavor. 



Chili's Copycat Cajun Chicken Pasta
8 ounces dried penne pasta
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
4 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
3 cups heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper seasoning
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
2 tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Cook pasta according to directions on box. Drain and set aside.

Place the chicken in a gallon sized resealable plastic bag. Add Cajun seasoning, seal, and shake to coat chicken evenly.

In a skillet over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Add chicken and saute, turning occasionally, until cooked through. Remove from skillet and thinly slice.

In a separate skillet, melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Sprinkle in flour and whisk until smooth and bubbling, about 5 minutes. Slowly whisk in heavy cream and let cook until thickened and smooth, another 5 minutes. Stir in lemon pepper, black pepper, and garlic powder. 

Add the cooked pasta to the sauce and stir well. 

You can either add the cooked chicken slices right into the pasta (what I did) or top each serving with it. 

Serve with chopped tomatoes and shredded Parmesan on top. 

Source: adapted from Food.com

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Cheesy Taco Stuffed Poblanos



I'm BACK!!

This summer has been especially wild and I can count on one hand the amount of dinners I cooked at home over the last 2.5 months. This humble blog is my hobby, born entirely out of my love for cooking and new recipes, so it sorta comes to a screeching halt when I don't have time to spend on cooking. My last major summer activity ended last week and I have loved being in the kitchen the last few nights.

These stuffed peppers was one of the few meals I made over the summer and man, were they are a hit! Mild poblano peppers are the PERFECT vehicle for taco meat and cheese. They are so tasty you won't miss the carbs!

Summer may be winding down but we have plenty of grilling weather left so crank up the grill and treat yourself to a plate of these. They aren't spicy - I promise - just flavorful and delicious.


Cheesy Taco Stuffed Poblanos
8 large poblano peppers
1 pound ground beef
8 ounces shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons taco seasoning + 1/2 cup water
toothpicks

In a large skillet, brown the ground beef until cooked through. Drain any excess fat. Stir in the taco seasoning and 1/2 cup water. Simmer until the water has fully absorbed. Remove from heat and set aside.

Carefully cut the top off each pepper so it can be put back on the pepper like a cap. Be careful to not cut into the pepper.

Remove and discard the seeds and membranes from inside the peppers and the cap.

Preheat the grill to medium-high heat and lightly grease the grates.

Divide the cheese and meat into 8 equal portions. Layer the cheese and meat inside the peppers, ending with a layer of cheese. Put the cap back on each pepper and secure with toothpicks.

Grill the peppers, rotating every 5 minutes or so, until the exterior is well charred, the cheese is melted, and the flesh is soft.

Source: See Aimee Cook


Monday, June 23, 2014

Meyer Lemon Butter Burgers



These burgers are my FAVORITE burger recipe to date! The Meyer lemon herb butter is stuffed inside the patty before grilling. While it cooks, the butter melts throughout the patty resulting in the most flavorful and moist burger you'll ever taste.

Burgers are perfect for weekend BBQ's for a reason: they are inexpensive, fast, and crowd pleasing -  which means they are also perfect for a busy weeknight! The butter, nestled into the burger patty, sends these burgers over the top - so much that you'll likely never grill burgers without it again. The lemon lends a bright fresh taste, perfect for a summer dinner. It's like a pop of unexpected flavor! Whip up the butter the night before, leave it in the fridge to chill, and it'll be ready to go the next day. Easy peasy.

Can't find Meyer lemons? No worries! Just use regular lemons.


Meyer Lemon Butter Burgers
6 tablespoons butter, room temp
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh tarragon
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 teaspoon fresh Meyer lemon juice or regular lemon juice
1 teaspoon finely grated Meyer lemon peel or regular lemon peel
1.5 pounds ground beef (preferably 15%)
Hamburger buns
Toppings: sliced cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickles, etc.

In a small bowl, mix together the butter, all the herbs, lemon peel, and lemon juice until well combined. Season with salt and pepper. Measure out 1/3 cup butter and transfer it to a sheet of plastic wrap. Using the plastic wrap as aid, form the butter into a 3 inch log. Wrap to seal and place in the fridge until firm (if making this at the same time as the burgers, put it in the freezer for 30 minutes).

Divide the meat into 4 equal parts. Form each piece into a ball and, using your thumb, make a deep wide indentation in the center of each ball.

Slice the butter into 4 pieces and flatten them slightly. Press a butter piece into the indentation on each patty and seal the meat around the butter, completely enclosing it.

Preheat the grill to medium-high heat and oil the grates. Sprinkle both sides of the burgers with salt and pepper and grill until cooked through, 4-6 minutes per side. Spread the remaining butter on the cut sides of the buns and grill the buns until slightly charred, about 1 minute per side.

Source: Bon Appetit magazine

Friday, June 20, 2014

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake (Nothing Bundt Cake Copycat)



There's a reason why Nothing Bundt Cake stores are nationwide - they are amazing! By far the moistest and more intensely flavored bundt cake I've had to date. I finally found a recipe that is a dead match for the real deal, which is perfect for someone who no longer lives in the same city as a Nothing Bundt Cake. The richest, moistest, most delicious chocolate bundt cake you'll ever make. Load it up with homemade cream cheese frosting and you'll think you've died and gone to heaven!

While the big cakes are delicious, I'm a fan of the bundlet - I love having my own mini-bundt cake to enjoy. I made a huge batch of these bundlets to test out and brought the best ones to work for sampling. Over the years I've brought tons of goodies to work and these were hands down the most quickly devoured of them all.

Make this and I promise people will be begging for the recipe. It's that good!

This recipe can be used for a large bundt cake pan or baby bundts. Directions for both are below. 


Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cake
For the cake:
1 box chocolate cake mix (I used Pillsbury Moist Supreme Dark Chocolate but any version will work)
1 box instant chocolate pudding
1 cup sour cream
4 large eggs
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1.5 cups mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

For the icing:
2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
3-4 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 and grease a bundt pan or mini bundt pan.

In a large mixing bowl, mix together the cake mix, pudding mix, sour cream, eggs, water, and oil with a beater. Once well mixed, blend in the mini chocolate chips. 

Pour the batter into your bundt pan or, if using a mini bundt pan, spoon the batter about 3/4 of the way full in each cavity. For the regular bundt pan, bake for 45-50 minutes. For mini-bundts, bake for 15-20. Remove from oven and let cool for 20 minutes before removing from the pan. 

In a medium bowl, cream together the cream cheese and butter until creamy. Mix in the vanilla and then gradually add powdered sugar until desired consistency. Transfer the frosting to a pastry bag or ziplock, cut off the corner, and pipe onto the cake(s) before serving.

*It tasted best the next day so if you have time, cover the cake(s) well and store in the fridge overnight. Frost right before serving. 

Monday, June 16, 2014

Grilled Maple Chipotle Pork and Smoked Gouda Grits



Smoky, sweet, and spicy! This dish is impressive enough for company but easy enough for a weeknight meal. One bite and you'll be putting it back on the menu over and over again.

I'm sure I've mentioned a million times how much I love grilling. The taste of food fresh off the grill is something that just can't be replicated in the kitchen! But more than that, a grill means less dishes, a cleaner kitchen, and quick cooking. While I grill year round, my grill gets multiple uses during the summer months. I just combed through the recipes I have waiting to be blogged and 100% of them are meals that I grilled!

You could easily make this dish in the kitchen if needed though I think grilling the pork ramps up that smoky flavor and pairs so well with the BBQ sauce. While your pork grills, you can whip up the cheesy grits and have dinner on the table in 20 minutes! If you're sensitive to heat, scale back the chipotle pepper. Even a teensy bit will add a huge dose of smokiness that you will love so don't cut it out completely.

Psst - No one can ever use an entire can of chipotle peppers at one time! So, after you use a couple peppers for this recipe, add a pepper + sauce to each compartment of an ice tray. Stick in the freezer until solid, crack and remove from the tray, then store frozen cubes in a freezer bag until you need a chipotle pepper & sauce again. Just thaw what you need!


Grilled Maple Chipotle Pork and Smoked Gouda Grits
For the pork:
1/2 cup barbecue sauce of your choice
1/2 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, minced *see note above
4 boneless pork loin chops
salt and pepper to taste

For the grits:
4 cups milk
2 cups quick cooking grits
2 cups shredded smoked Gouda
3 tablespoons butter
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the grill to medium-high. Whisk together the barbecue sauce, maple syrup, and minced chipotle peppers. Pour half in a small bowl and reserve the remainder for serving.

Salt and pepper both sides of the pork and and grill, covered, 9 minutes on each side or until 155 degrees at the thickest part, basting with half of the BBQ sauce mixture during the last 5 minutes. 

Meanwhile, bring 4 cups water and 4 cups milk to a boil in a large saucepan. Gradually whisk in the grits, salt, and pepper. Cook, whisking often, 5 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat. Whisk in the smoked Gouda and butter until well combined. Salt and pepper to taste.

To serve, place a piece of pork on a mound of grits and ladle with reserved BBQ sauce mixture over top.

Source: adapted from Southern Living Magazine



See Aimee Cook

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