Friday, April 27, 2012

Cocoa Brownies

Is it possible to have too many brownie recipes?  Pretty much you can track how often I make brownies, because I hunt for a new recipe every time I make them, straining to remember exactly how good the last one was.  I knew I could count on Alton Brown to deliver; although I was put out that with a last name of "Brown" he didn't come up with some kind of clever title for them.  I'm willing to over-look that minor detail because the results were delightful.  This is probably the unhealthiest brownie I've yet made- super duper rich!  Very lovely... in little bites... on occasion. :)  Proceed with caution.

Cocoa Brownies (Alton Brown)

  • Soft butter, for greasing the pan
  • Flour, for dusting the buttered pan
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar, sifted
  • 1 cup brown sugar, sifted
  • 8 ounces melted butter
  • 11/4 cups cocoa, sifted
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup flour, sifted
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Butter and flour an 8-inch square pan.
In a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the eggs at medium speed until fluffy and light yellow. Add both sugars. Add remaining ingredients, and mix to combine.
Pour the batter into a greased and floured 8-inch square pan and bake for 45 minutes. Check for doneness with the tried-and-true toothpick method: a toothpick inserted into the center of the pan should come out clean. When it's done, remove to a rack to cool. Resist the temptation to cut into it until it's mostly cool.
SERVINGS: 16 (PER BROWNIE); Calories: 243; Total Fat: 13 grams; Saturated Fat: 8 grams; Protein: 3 grams; Total carbohydrates: 28 grams; Sugar: 22 grams Fiber: 1 grams; Cholesterol: 83 milligrams; Sodium: 82 milligrams
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Friday, April 20, 2012

Sauteed Chicken Breasts with Creamy Chive Sauce

Chicken is one of my favorite meats to eat but my least favorite to prepare... so it doesn't show up as often as it probably should at my table.  If it does, it is usually in a crockpot dish because I didn't have to remember to let it thaw in fridge overnight or defrost, and because I can quite literally slide it in without handling it.  It's not that I'm afraid... I just prefer as little contact as possible. :) Isn't that weird because I don't usually have these hang-ups with steak or pork.  But let me tell you, when I DO plan ahead a bit, I put a darn good meal on the table!  I was trying to find a simple, satisfying recipe and I came across a great one!  Lots of flavor and the chicken stays really moist and tender, but you still get a nice sear that seals in the flavor.  Really tasty!  Hope my family appreciates it, because it might not happen again... at least not soon enough! :)

Sauteed Chicken Breasts with Creamy Chive Sauce 

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 pound), trimmed of fat
1 teaspoon kosher salt , divided
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour , divided
3 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil , divided
2 large shallots , finely chopped (I actually used green onions because that is what I had.)
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 14-ounce can reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/3 cup reduced-fat sour cream (You could even sub plain yogurt if you're want to cut calories.)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 cup chopped chives (about 1 bunch)

Place chicken between sheets of plastic wrap and pound with a meat mallet or heavy skillet until flattened to an even thickness, about 1/2 inch. Season both sides of the chicken with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Place 1/4 cup flour in a shallow glass baking dish and dredge the chicken in it. Discard the excess flour.

Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook until golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate, cover and keep warm.

Heat the remaining 1 teaspoon oil in the pan over medium-high heat. Add shallots and cook, stirring constantly and scraping up any browned bits, until golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon flour; stir to coat. Add wine, broth and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt; bring to a boil, stirring often.

Return the chicken and any accumulated juices to the pan, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook until heated through and no longer pink in the center, about 6 minutes. Stir in sour cream and mustard until smooth; turn the chicken to coat with the sauce. Stir in chives and serve immediately.
Health Advantages: low calorie, low carb, low sat fat, heart healthy, healthy weight.

Nutrition Information
Servings Per Recipe: 4
Amount Per serving
Calories: 244 cal Carbohydrate Servings: 1/2
Carbohydrates: 1 g Dietary Fiber: 0 g Cholesterol: 72 mg
Fat: 9 g Sodium: 679 mg Saturated Fat: 3 g
Protein: 26 g Potassium: 334 mg Monounsaturated Fat: 3 g
Nutrition Bonus: Niacin (50% daily value), Selenium (31% dv).
Exchanges: 1/2 starch, 4 very lean meat ,1 fat
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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Rockin' Ricotta...

I recently mentioned that I've got a "thing" for ricotta (Spiced Asian Pears with Sweetened Ricotta), but that was an understatement!  Lately, I have been playing around with all the AMAZING simple dessert options this versatile cheese has to offer.  So easy to make and something about saying "ricotta" makes it sound like you can cook. :)  Here are a couple different combinations that I have tried... and LOVED!

*I'm partial to this one- perhaps steming from "Blueberries For Sal" my favorite childhood read. :)
Sweetened Ricotta with Fresh Blueberries 
1 cup ricotta
1 T sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
handful of fresh blueberries

*Doug liked this one best.  Shocker... chocolate & raspberries.  That was a "given".
Cocoa Ricotta with Fresh Raspberries 
1 cup ricotta
1 T cocoa powder
2 T sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
handful of frozen or fresh blueberries 

*My girls really liked this one.
Ricotta with Fruit Preserves
1 cup ricotta
2 T jam (I used some of my homemade blackberry jam)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (if desired)
(I garnished with red sugar sprinkles, just so you're not stumped trying to figure out what that is. :)
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Friday, April 13, 2012

Chicken & Bacon Tart

I'm such a Simlple and Delicious fan!  I just organized my magazines and I realized I've been a loyal subscriber for six years now!  Worth every penny to me.  Especially when they pull things out of the hat like this- who would have thought to use pepper jelly with something like this?  But somehow, someway, the taste combined with chicken, bacon, and apples just totally worked.  AND it allowed me to use that obscure little jar I've had sitting around for a year not know what to do with. (My inspiration for trying this one out.)  Do people really spread that on their toast?  Spicy peppers in salsa... YES!  Spicy peppers in jam... NO THANKS.  Or at least that is what I thought before this one... thank goodness someone came up with a good use for it.  This was one Doug suggested I make for company... I love when he says things like that. :)  This is a winner... strange pepper jelly included!

Chicken & Bacon Tart (Simple and Delicious/Taste of Home)
1/4 pound bacon strips, cut into thirds (I cut them a little smaller and I think they were more manageable.)
2 medium onions, halved and thinly sliced
2 medium apples, peeled and thinly sliced
1 package (9 ounces) ready-to-serve roasted chicken breast strips
1/4 cup jalapeno pepper jelly (I actually used mango pepper jelly)
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp. Remove to paper towels with a slotted spoon. Saute onions and apples in drippings until tender. Stir in the chicken, jelly, thyme and salt.
On a lightly floured surface, unfold puff pastry. Roll into a 10-in. x 9-in. rectangle. Transfer to a 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Prick with a fork.
Spread chicken mixture over pastry to within 1 in. of edges. Sprinkle with cheese and pepper. Press edges with a fork, forming a decorative border.
Bake at 425° for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with bacon; bake 5-10 minutes longer or until golden brown. Sprinkle with parsley. Yield: 4 servings.
Nutritional Facts
1 piece equals 693 calories, 37 g fat (13 g saturated fat), 76 mg cholesterol, 1,023 mg sodium, 65 g carbohydrate, 7 g fiber, 28 g protein.
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Friday, April 6, 2012

Creamy Sausage Tomato Pasta

Italian Sausage is quite a treat- it comes pre-packed with lots of flavor.  I'm to cheap to buy it often... plus I want to live. :)  But I picked some up that had been reduced, and when I saw the heavy whipping cream sitting next to it in the fridge, they both said, "You knew what we were when you picked us up." And I figured I might as well finish the job by putting them in the same dish... no regrets, just creamy goodness... and a rigorous workout in the morning.

Creamy Sausage Tomato Pasta (
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 lb sweet Italian sausage link , casings removed,crumbled
1/4 teaspoon crushed dried red pepper flakes
1/4 cup diced onion
1 1/2 cloves garlic , minced
1 (14 1/2 ounce) can Italian plum tomatoes , drained,coarsely chopped
3/4 cup whipping cream
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 ounces pasta
1 1/2 tablespoons minced parsley
grated parmesan cheese

Heat oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat.
Add sausage and crushed red pepper.
Cook until sausage is no longer pink, stirring frequently, about 7 minutes.
Add onion and garlic to skillet and cook until onion is tender and sausage is light brown, stirring occasionally, about 7 minutes.
Add tomatoes, cream, and salt.
Simmer until mixture thickens slightly, about 4 minutes.
(Can be prepared one day ahead. Cover and chill.).
Cook pasta in large pot of boiling water.
Bring sauce to a simmer.
Add pasta to sauce and cook until pasta is heated through and sauce thickens, stirring occasionally, about 2 minutes.
Divide pasta between plates.
Sprinkle with parsley.
Serve, passing Parmesan separately. 
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