Monday, January 21, 2008

Chicken Veggie Stir Fry Revisited

I've blogged a chicken vegetable stir fry I've tried in the past. The picture looked awful and I didn't really like the outcome. So when I made a chicken veggie stir fry tonight that everyone loved, I knew I had to come back and blog this one. I tried some things I haven't done with my stir fry before that I know made a huge difference.

First of all, I marinated the chicken before cooking it. I usually just season with salt and pepper and add to the skillet. I think this is a huge reason why I have not liked my stir fry in the past. The marinade added so much flavor and really helped the meat retain it's moisture. I also added a spice that I don't use very often; cumin. I've not been a huge fan of cumin in the past. But I've been incorporating it into some meals recently so I decided to give it a shot. It really added a ton of flavor to the dish and I think I'll never made stir fry without it. I did not get any pictures of this meal. I have a hard time taking pics of my food as it is, and this one just didn't look like it would photograph well.

Chicken Vegetable Stir Fry

3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 large green bell pepper, sliced
1 medium zucchini squash, cut into chunks
7-8 baby bella mushrooms, sliced thick
1-2 tsp cornstarch
1-2 tsp canola oil
1/4 cup vegetable broth (chicken broth could certainly be substituted here; I just didn't have any on hand tonight)

Marinade ingredients:
1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cumin
salt and pepper

Combine marinade ingredients in a large liquid measuring cup and stir briskly with a fork. Add chicken and marinade to large zip top bag and marinade in fridge 2 hours.

Heat oil in a large skillet and add vegetables. Cook over medium-high heat until tender. Remove from skillet and set aside.

Remove chicken from bag and cut chicken into 1/2 inch pieces, reserving marinade. Cook chicken in skillet until no longer pink. Add cornstarch to marinade and stir briskly with fork until completely incorporated. Add marinade and broth to skillet and cook over medium heat until bubbly and thickened; approximately 15 minutes.

Add veggies back to skillet and cook just until heated through. Serve over rice, if desired.

Serves 4

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Ina's Chocolate Cupcakes

I had an itch to bake the other day and I wanted to try something new. I searched my cookbooks and landed on a recipe in my Barefoot Contessa at Home cookbook for Chocolate Cupcakes. The recipe sounded wonderful and I was sure that I would fall in love with them. Ina's recipe in the cookbook comes with a recipe for "Kathleen's Peanut Butter Icing." Which I thought was another good sign since Kathleen is my full name and I love peanut butter icing :-) I decided to skip the icing though, since my husband and daughter aren't fans of peanut butter icing.

Unfortunately, we were less than impressed. The cupcakes came out dry and with very little chocolate flavor. I'm not sure if it's because i didn't have buttermilk and substituted with a combination of skim milk and vinegar. Or it could be that I used Hershey's cocoa powder when Ina called for "good" cocoa powder. I'm not sure if Ina would consider the Hershey's brand "good." ;-) Anyway, they weren't bad. I mean, they were chocolate cupcakes after all! But I probably won't be making them again :-(

Chocolate Cupcakes (source: Barefoot Contessa at Home)
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temp
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 extra large eggs, at room temp
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk, shaken, at room temp
1/2 cup sour cream, at room temp
2 tbsp brewed coffee
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 cup good cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt

Preheat oven to 350. Line cupcake pans with paper liners.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and two sugars on high speed until light and fluffy, approximately 5 minutes. Lower the speed to medium, add the eggs one at a time, then add the vanilla and mix well. In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, sour cream, and coffee. In another bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. On low speed, add the buttermilk mixture and the flour mixture alternately in thirds to the mixer bowl, beginning with the buttermilk mixture and ending with the flour mixture. Mix only until blended. Fold the batter with a rubber spatula to be sure it is completely blended.
Divide the batter among the cupcake pans (one rounded standard ice cream scoop per cup is the right amount). Bake in the middle of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes, remove from the pans, and allow to cool completely before frosting.

Ina says this recipe make 14-15 cupcakes but i got 19 cupcakes using about 1/4 cup of batter for each cup.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Peanut Butter Blossoms

Around the holidays, tons of people were making these cookies. I realized that I had never made them before. I've really never even eaten them all that much. I'm not a huge fan of peanut butter cookies. But I wanted to try them because everyone raved about them and they're so darn cute. These are very simple and very tasty. Even for someone who doesn't particularly care for peanut butter cookies! I had to give a bunch of them away to friend tonight because my husband and daughter really don't eat peanut butter cookies at all and I didn't want to eat them all by myself!

Peanut Butter Blossoms (source: Michelle at Sugar & Spice)

48 Hershey's kisses, unwrapped
1/2 cup shortening
3/4 cup peanut butter
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed light brown suage
1 egg
2 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
sugar for rolling

1. Preheat oven to 375. Remove wrapper from chocolates.

2. Beat shortening and peanut butter in a large bowl until well blended. Add 1/3 cup sugar and brown sugar; beat until fluffy. Add egg. milk and vanilla; beat well. Stir together Flour, baking soda and salt in a separate bowl; gradually beat into peanut butter mixture.

3. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in sugar; place on ungreased cookie sheet. (I lined my sheets with parchment paper)

4. Bake 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned. Immediately press a chocolate kiss into the center of each cookie; cookie will crack around the edges. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely.