Saturday, August 27, 2011

Churros

I have always loved the smell of churros. I have also always loved the taste of churros. This year we haven't gone anywhere that makes churros so I decided it was time to make some of my own. After a little research, I realized churros are super, duper easy to make. And they require hardly any ingredients. Woot! Woot! You do have to have a piping bag in order to make them. And you need a star shaped tip that is 1/2 inch wide. The tip is only about $1.00 at any craft store. And totally worth buying for these yummy churros!

2 cups vegetable oil
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
4 Tablespoons butter
1/2 cup water
2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon orange zest
3/4 cup flour
2 eggs

Heat the oil in a skillet until the temperature registers 350 degrees on a thermometer.

Combine the 1/2 cup sugar and cinnamon. Set aside.

In a skillet, heat the butter, water, 2 teaspoons sugar, salt and zest over medium heat. Once it starts to boil, stir in the flour. Continue stirring until the dough starts to pull away from the sides of the pan. Cook for 1 minute more. Transfer to a bowl.

With an electric mixer, beat the dough for 30 seconds. Add the eggs, one at a time, until completely incorporated, before adding the next egg. Let the dough cool slightly.

Transfer the dough to a piping bag fitted with the star tip. Pipe strips of dough into the hot oil. Fry the churros until golden brown, turn the churro and continue to brown the other side. Remove the churros and place on paper towels to drain. Immediately coat the churros in the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Serve immediately.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Beef Empanadas with Black Bean Dip

I have never had empanadas before but they looked so good I had to try them. I was happily surprised at how easy they are to make and delicious! They are so simple, I can't believe I didn't come across them before. Then you dip them in the amazing black bean dip and oh, my. Your taste buds are happy, happy, happy! You will need a box of puff pastry to make these. There are two sheets inside. It takes about 40 minutes for the puff pastry to thaw, so plan your dinner in advance. Once the puff pastry is thawed, unwrap both sheets. Cut each puff pastry sheet into 9 squares, so there is a total of 18 squares.

1 pound hamburger
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon ketchup
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 box frozen puff pastry, thawed
1-15oz can of black beans, drained
1 cup sour cream

Combine the hamburger and garlic in a skillet and cook until meat is cooked through. Add the ketchup, cumin and cayenne. Reduce heat to medium and stirring often, cook for another 4 minutes. Let the meat mixture cool slightly.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spray a cookie sheet with non-stick cooking spray. Spoon the meat mixture onto each precut square. Fold over the edges to form a triangle. Crimp the edges with a fork. Place on the prepared cookie sheet. Spray the empanadas with non-stick cooking spray. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the tops are puffed and golden brown.

While the empanadas are cooking, puree the beans and sour cream in a blender until smooth. Place in individual bowls for serving.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Pan-fried Zucchini

There is an older neighbor near me who has a large property and grows all kinds of foods to sell. He is amazing!! I bought some zucchini from him and brought it home to make it into zucchini bread with a friend of mine. My husband was so excited (not like we have never had zucchini before) and instantly requested pan fried zucchini like his mom made. So I called her up, and she told me how she makes it. She doesn't have a recipe but eyes it as she goes. When I made it for dinner that night, my husband declared it was just like his mom made. Yeah!! The batter ends up being like a tempura around the zucchini. It's quite liquid before it's cooked. It needs salt and pepper but I prefer to sprinkle it on at the end, rather than add it to the batter.

1/2 to 1 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1/4 cup flour
3 Tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 large zucchini, cut into rounds and 1/4 inch thick
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a large saucepan. You only need it to cover the bottom of the pan - that's why there is a range on the oil amount.

Whisk the egg. Whisk in the flour, milk and garlic powder until smooth. Dip the zucchini into the mixture, flipping over to cover both sides. Fry in the heated oil for about 1 minute, flip and cook for an additional minute. Zucchini should be cooked but still crisp.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Chicken Alfredo Noodles

Typically chicken alfredo is time consuming or involves lots of steps. But not this one! I brainstormed some ideas and came up with a quick and easy way to make this meal. And was it ever yummy! Plus, I think it's so fun to use different noodles, rather than just the typical spaghetti-type ones. And if it wasn't for cooking the noodles, this would be a one-pan meal! My favorite kind. The less dishes, the better.

1 package of small shells
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 pound of boneless, skinless chicken breasts, chopped
1 1/2 cups milk (I used 2%)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 stick butter
1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan, divided
2 teaspoons pepper
4 Tablespoons parsley

Cook the noodles according to package directions.

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken and saute until the chicken is cooked through. Add the milk and garlic, cook for 3 minutes. Add 1 cup Parmesan and simmer until the liquid is reduced to about 1 cup. Remove from heat. Stir in the cooked noodles. Sprinkle with parsley and enjoy!!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Unstuffed Pepper Bake

This meal is so yummy. In fact, I looked forward to eating the leftovers. My mouth would water as I smelled it warm up in the microwave. I grew up eating stuffed peppers. My mom makes the best ones! But I never liked eating the pepper, only the mixture inside the pepper. So, when I saw a recipe for this, I had to make my own version. Oh, and I had a coupon to save money on a set of tricolored peppers - even better.

1 pound hamburger
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 each - red, yellow and green pepper, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-14.5oz can diced tomatoes, drained
1 1/2 cups instant rice
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 cups cheddar cheese, divided
1-15oz tomato sauce

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Combine the hamburger, onion powder, peppers, garlic and salt in a large skillet. Saute until the meat is cooked through and the vegetables are tender. Stir in the tomatoes, rice and Worcestershire sauce. Remove from heat and stir in 1 cup of cheese. Spread the mixture into a 9x13 pan. Top with tomato sauce and sprinkle with remaining cheese.

Bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes, or until heated through and cheese is melted and bubbly. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Peanut Butter Layer Bars

I found a recipe for these bars months and months ago. I even made them but, quite honestly, they were really dry. They needed a little something else. So, I put my mind to work, adjusted the recipe and now these bars are amazing! They are super loaded with peanut butter. The crust is peanut butter cookies, followed by a melt-in-your mouth peanut butter layer, sprinkled with marshmallows and topped with more peanut butter, peanuts and rice krispies. Is your mouth watering yet? Just wait til you try them!

1 pound peanut-butter sandwich cookie, coarsely crumbled (I used Nutter Butters)
8 Tablespoons (1 stick) butter, melted
4 cups peanut butter chips
1 1/3 light corn syrup
8 Tablespoons (1 stick) butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups mini marshmellows
2 cups dry-roasted peanuts (I used the salted kind)
2 cups crisp rice cereal (I used Rice Krispies)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray and 9x13 pan with non-stick spray.

Crush the cookies either using a food processor or a rolling pin. Add the melted butter and mix until well combined. Press into the prepared pan. Bake for 10 minutes or until golden.

In a saucepan, combine the peanut butter chip, corn syrup, butter and vanilla. Stir until smooth, about 7 minutes. Spread 1/2 of the mixture over the crumb crust. Top with the marshmallows and return to the oven. You only want them in there until the marshmallows puff, about two minutes. If you cook them longer, the marshmallows will turn crunchy.

Toss the peanuts and rice cereal with the remaining peanut butter mixture. Stir well so everything is evenly coated. Drop, by the spoonful, over the marshmallows. Cool bars completely before cutting and serving.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Sarah's Salad

The other day my hubbie and I were invited over to our friend's for dinner and games. Dinner was this salad and I have to say, it was incredible. One of the best things I have had in forever! So I had to make it at home for me and my hubs another time. The best part is, there are several components, but if served buffet style each person can add as much or as little of each part they like. Our friends used a flavored Ranch dressing, but I didn't have any when I made it. I loved it without dressing, my hubbie made due with some dressing from our fridge. When I made the rice in my rice cooker, I just added a canned of drained pinto beans with the uncooked rice as the way to cook them.

1 - 2 pound pork roast
1 cup barbeque sauce
2 cups of uncooked rice and a can of drained pinto beans, cooked together
1 head of romaine lettuce, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
2 avocados, chopped
dressing of your choice

Cook the pork roast until you can pull it apart with a fork. I put mine in the crockpot, on low, for 6 to 7 hours. Once you pull the pork apart, stir in the barbeque sauce.

Meanwhile, about 1/2 hour before the pork is done, cook the rice and beans. While they are cooking, cut the lettuce, red pepper and avocados. Place each in a separate bowl. Place the pork and the rice and beans into separate bowls when finished cooking. Assemble the salad for each individual, adding as much or as little of each food as desired. Then dig in and enjoy!! Thanks Sarah for sharing this amazing salad!