Saturday, April 27, 2013

Organic Salad with Fried Chicken and Organic Strawberries

Do what you preach, preach what you do.  That's the old saying right?  Well in a previous post I reported about the dirty dozen.  In efforts to feel better and live better Lee and I decided to shop organic produce and in season produce last week.  We planned out our meals for the week and shopped together.  It was a good feeling when we looked down at our shopping cart and knew we only bought what we needed for our meals, we shopped organically when possible and bought lots of in season fruits and vegetables. 
With that being said I came up with the following recipe after watching The Chew last week.  Jaime Deen was on and suggested a quick, easy, and healthy idea for making your own dressing.  You take a canning jar and put local honey (good for fighting allergies) and dijon mustard in it and shake it up.  Yum! 
So here is what I did.  First I bought an organic lettuce salad mix at the local grocery store.  Buy which every organic salad mix you like.  I also bought organic strawberries. I couldn't believe how red and plump and delish they were!  And don't forget your Dirty Dozen List and your What's In Season List when you go shopping.  You will also need 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts or 4 cutlets. 
There is no real recipe with this one folks, but here is what I did.
I placed 2 eggs in one shallow dish and lightly wisked them with a fork.  Then I seasoned them with salt and pepper.  In a separate shallow dish I placed about 1/3 cup of flour, salt, pepper, and some paprika.  I took my cleaned and trimmed chicken breasts and coated them with flour, then egg wash, then flour again.  Set them aside.  I then placed about 4 tablespoons of Extra virgin Oilve oil in a large saute pan on medium-high.  Once warm I fried the chicken breasts for about 4-5 minutes on each side.  Once done I removed and cut each chicken breast in half.  Each salad was served with a few sliced organic strawberries and half of a chicken breast cut into smaller pieces.  I then drizzled the honey mustard dressing over top.  (*note I did about equal parts local honey and equal parts dijon mustard (1/4 cup each) and seasoned with salt and pepper to make my dressing).  This recipe serves 4 people. 
This recipe was very refreshing and easy to do.  Adapt it by adding your own favorite seasoning to your chicken when breading it.  Enjoy!

Rhubarb Teaser

Rhubarb is in season and one of my favorites.  Hoping to get my act in gear and make a rhubarb pie, which is Lee and my favorite...yum yum!  In the meantime, I've been working on a Rhubarb cupcake recipe.  Although the first batch was absolutely delish it didn't have a strong enough rhubarb taste for me.  Back to the drawing board, but I wanted to give you all a little tease of what's to come.  Here are some photo's from my first batch.

Roasted Asparagus Pasta Salad-Adapted from The Neely's

Asparagus is probably the one vegetable my husband could eat every night of the week. He says he "loves the way I make it."  To top that off it's currently in season which means its cheaper and tastes great.  A win win all around! 
So when looking for a recipe to inspire my creative juices I stumbled upon The Neely's Roasted Asparagus Pasta Salad.  It looked very yummy, but right away there were a few things I knew I needed to adapt.  I can't have goat cheese, lemon juice or lemon zest.  All of which the recipe called for.  Having substituted vinegar in the past for lemon juice in recipes I thought I'd give it a try in this one.  I googled how much juice comes from a lemon and the results I found said 3 tablespoons.  Since this recipe called for half of a lemon  I used a scant 1 1/2 tablespoons.  I used a scant measurement because the mustard had vinegar in it and vinegar can be sharper then lemon.  Plus I knew I could go back and add more, but not take it out.  I left the lemon zest out and the goat cheese out (and didn't miss them).  Other then that I followed the recipe to the "T".  
It was a very simple and delish last minute go to recipe.  I started boiling the water and by the time the water came to a boil I had the asparagus chopped and ready to go.  The pasta and asparagus went on at the same time and cooked for the same amount of time.  Meanwhile I prepared the sauce. 
We love this recipe and with a few minor adaptations we will be enjoying it quite often. 
Roasted Asparagus Pasta Salad- As Adapted from The Neely’s

  • 1 pound bowtie pasta
  • 1 pound asparagus, ends trimmed
  • Olive oil, for drizzling
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 ½ tbsp. Clear Vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh chives

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Bring large pot of salted water to a boil. 

While water is coming to a boil, slice asparagus on the bias into ½ inch pieces.  Place the asparagus on a sheet tray and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.

Place asparagus in the oven and roast for 11 minutes.  Add pasta to the boiling water and boil for 11 minutes or until al dente.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine shallot, garlic, mustard, vinegar, and red pepper flakes. Whisk in olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Add thinly sliced chives.  Set aside.

Drain the cooked pasta in a colander.  Once drained place in a large bowl.  Add the asparagus and drizzle with the dressing and toss.  Serve warm (although I think this recipe would taste great cold too).
(*Note- It has a kick.  Cut back on the crushed red pepper if you don't like a kick of heat)

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Caterpillar Cupcakes

Awhile back someone my mother-in-law works with asked me to make caterpillar themed cupcakes for her daughter's baby shower.  Making a tasty cupcake was no problem, but decorating and making a beautiful caterpillar cupcake on the other hand would be challenging...or so I thought.  Coming up with the concept was harder then putting it all together.  I googled caterpillar cupcake ideas and came up with nothing...well accept people lining cupcakes up in a line and icing them in different colors and making a head out of fondant on the first cupcake.  Not exactly what I was looking for.  So that's when I thought I would try out some fondant.  So I bought baby pink and baby green fondant.  I took a hunk of fondant and started rolling balls.  I used three balls for the body and one for the head.  Because the caterpillar would be anchored on the icing I didn't need to worry about gluing the fondant balls together.  For the head I placed a ball the same size as the rest of the balls directly on top of the first ball.  You can use a little bit of buttercream icing to hold the head in place or you can use a tiny bit of gum glue (take a pea size amount of gum paste and dissolve it in about 1 tablespoon of warm water).  This will hold fondant pieces together.  I then took candy eyeballs and glued them on with a touch of butter cream icing.  Lastly I took a flower stamen and cut it down and made two antennae for each caterpillar.  I made half the caterpillars pink and half green.  Then I iced the cupcakes the same way, half green and half pink with wilton's buttercream recipe that I previously posted.  I made my favorite chocolate cake recipe for the chocolate cupcakes...not my recipe but it's delicious and half white cupcakes...again not my recipe.  Then I put them all together on my cupcake stand and I think they turned out pretty nice looking. 

Although some of the design showed through for the cupcake liners I still recommend using glassine or grease-free cupcake liners so that your design is guaranteed to show up.  These cupcakes were made in standard size cupcake liners. 
I hope this post gets your creative juices flowing for your next baby shower or kids birthday.  Enjoy!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Dominic's Chicken adapted from Giada De Laurentiis

Ok...I promised you I would go back and adapt old recipes that I previously posted making sure they are now MSG free and migraine free.  So here is my new adaption to my son's favorite Chicken Meatballs with pasta.  I'm going to leave my message below that explains my original inspiration for this recipe.  Enjoy!
Awhile back my son wasn't eating anything, especially vegetables and protein.  So thinking that maybe it was a texture thing, and knowing that he likes regular meatballs (made with ground beef), I thought I would try out some chicken meatballs.  That's when I found Giada's recipe for Orecchiette with Mini Chicken Meatballs.  First obstacle was that I didn't have any ground chicken and I refuse to buy meat at the local grocery store.  Simple solution...I pulled out my Kitchen Aid mixer and attached my meat grinder attachment and some organic chicken breasts I had and "POW!" I got ground chicken.  Second obstacle was that I don't eat any cheese accept ricotta and cream cheese and Giada's recipe called for parmesan and mozzarella.  Easy enough, I just omitted both of them.  Probably just added a different taste component and texture to the recipe (sorry Giada if you think I ruined your recipe).  And lastly I didn't have cherry tomatoes.  Oh well...a can of diced tomatoes drained worked great. 
So here is the recipe as I made it...feel free to think Giada's is better, but my husband, son, mother-in-law and I loved them...and its the closest thing I can get to sausage (another food I can't have)...yes I'm a pain in the butt...there I said it!
Dominic's Chicken Meatballs (As inspired by Giada):
1 pound medium or small shell pasta (I use Barilla)
1/4 cup plain bread crumbs (I made my own from the ends of my loafs of bread.  This is recipe for bread)
1/4 cup dried parsley (preferably from your own organic garden)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon Organic Pasteurized Whole Milk
1 tablespoon homemade ketchup
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 pound ground chicken (I ground my own from organic boneless skinless chicken breasts)
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil for frying
1 1/2 cups homemade chicken stock (I use Tyler Florence's recipe minus the turnip)
1 28 ounce can Bionaturae Diced Tomatoes in their juice, lightly drained See Label Here.
About 1 teaspoon fresh chopped basil leaves
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.  Add the pasta and cook until tender, but still firm to the bite. 
In a medium bowl, stir together the bread crumbs, parsley, eggs, milk, ketchup, and the salt and pepper.  Add the chicken and gently stir to combine. 
Using a melon baller or a teaspoon measure (I just guessed size and made them without measuring), form the chicken mixture into 3/4 inch pieces.  Roll the chicken pieces into mini meatballs.
In a large 14 inch skillet, heat the oil over medium heat.  Working in batches, add the meatballs and cook without moving until brown on the bottom, about 2 minutes.  Turn the meatballs over and brown the other side, about 2 minutes longer.  After all of the meatballs are cooked, return them to the pan and add the chicken stock and diced tomatoes.  Bring to a boil.  Using a wooden spoon, scrape up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan.  Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with chopped basil.  Enjoy!


The Best Chicken Sandwich and Coleslaw

I'm not from the South, but I do love me a fried chicken sandwich.  I'm not so big into coleslaw though.  Especially ones drenched in mayo.  However, I saw this recipe for Bakesale Betty's Buttermilk Fried Chicken on The Chew a few months back and I just had to try it.  And I'm trying to get better at trying things as they were made (with only a few adaptations of course!).  So I made Bakesale Betty's Buttermilk Fried Chicken, but I made it with Emeril Lagasse's homemade buttermilk recipe (as posted in previous post).  It's so simple to make people!  And why go out and buy something you don't keep around the house for everyday use anyway.  As for the coleslaw here is where I made a couple minor adaptations.  I used white wine vinegar instead of red wine vinegar, which gives me a headache, and I used dried parsley instead of fresh (just because I didn't have fresh on me).  Now that I've made the recipe with the dried parsley, and I like it, I'm not messing with it.  The coleslaw is refreshing, crisp and very tasty.  My husband loves it and he too doesn't like many coleslaws.  I will say that I also only made half of the flour mix for the chicken breading and I also take 4 chicken breasts and cut them in half longways to make them into cutlets.  They fried up faster and were easier to get in your mouth on a sandwich.  This way there was much less flour thrown away.  If you cut your chicken breasts into cutlets like I did this recipe will easily feed 8 people.  1 sandwich with coleslaw on it and chips on the side was more then enough for me.  Oh!  One last thought.  I also put butter/mayo combo on the bread and toasted it on the stove top so that the bun was nice and warm with a little crisp to it.  The best way to eat any sub or sandwich!  Anyway, I hope you enjoy Bake Sale Betty's recipe for Buttermilk Fried Chicken and cole slaw.  I know we do!     

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Caramel Apple Cupcake

In the previous post I talked about using fresh fruit to make a cupcake.  Today's recipe uses apples which is considered a year round fruit.  However, I have recently read a few articles, and they talked about it on The Chew as well, about the "Dirty Dozen Plus".  These are fruits that are usually picked before they are rippened and sprayed with pesticides to make them last until shipped to the stores where they will rippen on the shelfs.  Or they are sprayed with pesticides while they are growing to keep bugs out.  Yuck!  EWG has come up with a list that includes 12 + 2 fruits and vegetables that should be bought organic.  Here is that list incase you are interested.  I know I am since I have a one year old son.  And incase you are interested in reading some literature on this information I found this article and this one too very facinating.  I belive it was Parenting Magazine that I just received in the mail as well, and they talked about IQ levels in children droping largely do to pesticides in produce as well. 

Ok!  Now on to the main event and why you probably stopped by.  My Caramel Apple Cupcake recipe.  You will notice the base of the batter for this recipe is virtually the same as the pineapple cupcake recipe...why change a good thing!?  You will also notice I baked these cupcakes in the red grease-free taller cupcake liners which measure 2 x 1-3/4. 

Caramel Apple Cupcake Recipe:

2 3/4 cups of flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
2 sticks of butter (room temperature)
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
3 firm-ish but ripe apples, peeled,  (take the skins off and grate it whole but don’t go down as far as the core).  Set in a seive over a bowl for about 15 minutes.  Drain excess liquid.  Drain 1 more time before using in the batter. Reserve access apple juice for the icing. 
¾ of a whole apple diced
1 cup homemade buttermilk

¾  tsp cinnamon

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. In a small bowl sift flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  3. In mixer (or large bowl), cream butter and sugar until well mixed and airy.
  4. Add eggs, one at a time, making sure each one is full incorporated before adding next.
  5. Slowly add in flour mixture - I do it 1/3 at a time - making sure it is fully incorporated. And adding milk in in between batches.  Make sure you start and stop with flour. 
  6. Stir in vanilla and buttermilk.
  7. Stir in drained apples.
  8. Line a cupcake tin with cupcake liners.
  9. Scoop an even amount of dough into each cup - I filled them to the top. You should have enough for about 16 cupcakes if using the taller wrappers.
  10. Bake for about 16 minutes. I started checking around 12 just to be safe. You want them to be golden in color.  (mine took 19 minutes to cook)  till toothpick comes out clean but don’t over bake.
  11. While cupcakes are baking, make frosting
Caramel Apple Buttercream Frosting (the base is one of Wilton's buttercream recipes that I adapted)
1 cup solid vegetable shortening
1 cup butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
32 ounces sifted confectioners sugar
3-4 tablespoons milk (I use 1 or 2 percent)
1-2 tablespoons drained apple juice

In a large mixing bowl, cream shortening and butter. Gradually add sifted confectioners sugar a cup at a time. Beat well on medium speed between additions of sugar. Scrape sides and bottom often. When all the sugar has been added, mix in the milk, vanilla and apple juice. Keep bowl covered with a damp cloth until ready to use.
For best results, keep icing bowl in refridgerator when not in use. Refridgerate in an airtight container and it can be stored for 2 weeks. Rewhip before using after refridgeration.

Caramel Acorn Decorations:
You will need chocolate jimmies, melted milk or dark chocolate and 1 caramel square per acorn.

In a heat proof bowl place 4-5 unwrapped caramels and microwave for 5 or more seconds.  While warm and pliable, shape into the shape of an egg.  Place on wax paper and continue until you have 1 acorn for each of your cupcakes.  Once all of the acorns are shaped dip the top into melted chocolate and then roll in chocolate jimmies to get the acorn effect. 

I could not find the original post/tutorial on how to do this.  And I might have read it in the Hello Cupcake book.  Anyway, this website shows you step by step how to make these acorns. 

I tried homemade caramel for the drizzle over the icing and it was disaster because of the way it hardened, so I suggest just buying your favorite caramel topping for the drizzle. 

Here are some pictures of the cupcakes.  Hope you enjoy them as much as we did!

Special Notes**-  If you are making these for a crowd or for entertraining I would wait to put the caramel drizzle and acorns on until the last minute. The acorns started to wilt for me and created their own caramel drizzle and lost their shape after a day or two, especially in my humid kitchen.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Pineapple Cupcake Recipe


Summer is almost here!  You know what that means!?  Fresh fruit gallore!  Currently, pineapple is in season, a favorite of my son and husband, and that was the inspiration for this recipe.  So here it is:

Karin's Pineapple Cupcakes
For the Cupcakes:
  • 2 3/4 cups of flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 sticks of butter
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup of pineapple diced and drained
  • liquid from drained pineapple
  • 1 cup homemade buttermilk (I use Emeril Lagasse's recipe, but I use the white vinegar instead of lemon).

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  2. In a small bowl sift the flour, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.
  3. In stand mixer (or large bowl), cream butter and sugar until well mixed and airy.
  4. Add eggs, one at a time, making sure each one is fully incorporated before adding the next. 
  5. Mix vanilla, buttermilk and drained pineapple juice in a small bowl and mix.
  6. Slowly add in the flour mixture to the creamed butter mixture.  I do it 1/3 at a time- making sure it is fully mixed in and I add the milk mixture after the first and second flour addition.  Make sure you start and end with the flour. Beat an additional 1 minute after everything is added to the mixture.
  7. Stir in the drained pineapple
  8. Line a cupcake pan with your favorite cupcake liners.
  9. Scoop an even amount of batter into each cup.  I have an oxo scoop which I believe is the 2 1/4 inch scoop and holds 1/3 cup of batter.  You should have enough for 16 cupcakes. 
  10. Bake for about 16 minutes.  I started checking at 12 minutes just to be safe.  You want them to be golden in color (mine took 19 minutes).  Make sure a toothpick comes out clean, but don't over bake.
  11. While cupcakes are baking make the frosting.
Pineapple Buttercream Frosting (the base is one of Wilton's buttercream recipes that I adapted)
1 cup solid vegetable shortening
1 cup butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
32 ounces sifted confectioners sugar
3-4 tablespoons milk (I use 1 or 2 percent)
1-2 tablespoons drained pineapple juice

In a large mixing bowl, cream shortening and butter.  Gradually add sifted confectioners sugar a cup at a time.  Beat well on medium speed between additions of sugar.  Scrape sides and bottom often.  When all the sugar has been added, mix in the milk, vanilla and pineapple juice. Keep bowl covered with a damp cloth until ready to use.
For best results, keep icing bowl in refridgerator when not in use.  Refridgerate in an airtight container and it can be stored for 2 weeks.  Rewhip before using after refridgeration. 

Pineapple Topper Decorations
I used Martha Stewarts method for this and it worked very well.  Here are her directions.

Here is Wilton's buttercream recipe.  *Note- I do not like Wilton's other buttercream recipes (that call for meringue powder), unless you are making flowers as a decoration for a cake.  I do not like the taste of meringue powder...just a personal taste preference. 

And here is the finished product

One last food for thought.  I love using fresh fruit and vegetables that are in season when baking or cooking and I use this website to know which fruits and vegetables are in season when. 

Ok, another last food for thought.  The cupcake size I used for these cupcakes is called Taller and measures 2 x 1-3/4.  It is red and is also grease-free, hense the color stayed beautiful.  They are my favorite wrappers of all time!  However, I don't remember where I got them.  I did get the same ones in brown from Charming Creatings and I LOVE them.  This is the perfect cupcake size.  Jumbo seems too big (and requires a special baking pan) and the standard leaves you wanting more.  But, that's PERFECT!
I hope you enjoy these recipes as much as we do!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

In March of this year our first born (son- Dominic) turned one and it sure blew by fast!  I started planning his birthday party about 3 months ahead of time.  My husband is 25 percent Korean, 50 percent Irish and 25 percent Sicilian and loves that he has such a mixed heritage.  And me, well I am 100 percent German.  To honor our heritage my husband and I threw a party for our son incorporating all of our heritage. 
Dominic was born in the year of the dragon and probably owns everything ever made that is a dragon, including this hard to find awesome Lamaze Dragon Dee Dee the Dragon.  So we knew that we had to incorporate dragons into the theme as well.  After taking Wilton's Course 2 on Cake Decorating, I felt reasonably confident that I could sculpt dragons for his cake.  Of course, in my typical fashion of more is better, bigger is better, I decided to make 13 little dragons.  One for each month of his life so far including an extra one for the day he was born.  To make it more interesting I decided that each dragon should be posed into a position so to speak. (Do you think I am crazy yet!?)  After much headache I finally decided I would match each dragon with his accomplishment from each month.  For example, when Dominic was 7 months old he pulled himself up.
With the help of a good friend Trish, my cousin Mel and my mother-in-law, we pulled it off.  13 little dragons were completed.  I placed 1 on each of 12 cupcakes and then the last one on his special cake. 
A lot of my inspiration came from OnebiteSweet's etsy shop Fondant Dragons, another etsy shop named Fondant Fads, and a website called Cake Central.  Of course we adapted the poses for the dragons to meet the 12 different accomplishments my son had over the last 12 months.  Here are some pictures which I hope bring you some inspiration for your next baking venture!

As far as other parts of our heritage that we included in Dominic's party, his cake had 2 candles for my German heritage, his grandmother made Irish soda bread and I made Italian tricolor cookies for the first time.  Take a look: 
The only adaptation I made with this recipe is that I let the top set up a little longer then it said to and I didn't rake a fork through the top of it because I liked the pristine look it had.  This recipe was courteous of my monthly Food Network subsription and the recipe can be found here Rainbow Cookies.  All of the Italians in the family gave these great praise and I hope you enjoy them too! 
Here is a few more pictures from his party that I hope will give you some inspiration for planning your next party.