Thursday, December 30, 2010

Barbecue Chicken Quesadillas

These Quesadillas were great! It's so nice to have something different with a healthy twist. I love that the recipe included spinach. I could barely taste it, but I knew I was getting the extra vitamins. I love it!
These were super easy to make compared to Tuesday nights shrimp. This took about 30 minutes total with having to cook and shred the chicken. Soux chef actually was a soux chef tonight and helped by shredding the chicken!

Here's a picture of the quesadilla before I put the top on the tortilla. 
I used the leftover mozzarella from the chicken tuscan primavera, and the leftover spinach from the Asian greens salad we had Tuesday. I pulled one chicken breast out of the freezer, which left the tortillas being the only ingredient I needed from the store. 

You can barely see the quesadillas, but they're on the plate. You don't really need salsa with the quesadillas, we used it with some chips. 

Soux Chef says:
He did add a disclamer: It was two thumbs up delicious, but for culinary creativity it gets 1 thumb up. 
I think the easier the recipe is the more thumbs up it should get, but that just shows who's actually doing the cooking!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Coconut Shrimp with Asian Greens and Hoisin Vinaigrette

This was my FAVORITE recipe so far!
I love, love, loved it!
That being said, it took me 1 hour to make it. The shrimp required quite a fuss. 
I thought I did a good job of planning ahead when I took the shrimp out of the freezer this morning, but I didn't realize that you are supposed to marinate the shrimp for an hour. So when I got home from work at 5:45 I put the shrimp in the marinade while I prepared the rest of the ingredients. We ended up eating dinner at 7:15, so not too late. Clean up was a piece of cake. I put all of the bowls in the dishwasher, threw the aluminum foil and ziplock (from marinating the shrimp) in the garbage and clean up was done. Coconut shrimp is one of my favorite ways to eat shrimp. It's hard to find good coconut shrimp though, because most recipes try to fry them and they are dripping in grease. This recipe bakes them to perfection. 

While my shrimp were marinating I set up a little assembly line:

You dip the marinated shrimp in bowl number, all the way to the left, then bowl number 2 in the middle, then in the good stuff (panko crumbs, which continue to amaze me, and coconut), then place it on the pan. After the shrimp are all dipped, place the pan in the oven...and...

Those are some beautiful shrimp! Delicious too!

While the shrimp were marinating and cooking I prepared the Asian Green salad. 
It's spinach and Napa cabbage. I've never used Napa cabbage before, I don't even know if I've ever eaten it before, but here it is:
this isn't actually Napa cabbage. It's bok choy. Oops! It was next to the napa cabbage, I just realized this. 
You're supposed to shred it, but I wasn't sure how far down the stalk to go, so I just cut off the stalk and shredded the leafy green part. I was having flashbacks to the brussels sprouts, there was a lot of the cabbage waste that went outside to feed the deer. 

After I cut up all of the ingredients, I tossed them in a bowl and topped them with some toasted ramen noodles and almonds:
Isn't that a gorgeous salad?

The recipe says to top with your favorite salad dressing, so I took this as an opportunity to make the Hoisin Vinaigrette. It worked out perfectly. I had a leftover red onion in the fridge from last week and just the right amount of hoisin sauce left in the jar, so I mixed all of the ingredients together in the hoisin sauce jar:

 I gave them all a good shake then poured it over the salad:

The hoisin vinaigrette is actually in a later recipe in the cookbook. If you make this salad you have to use the hoisin vinaigrette. It taste like it was meant for this salad. 

Not done yet. Now you top the salad with the coconut shrimp

OMG it was sooo good. I mean this is gourmet chef type of cooking. I can't believe I made this! I'm so impressed with myself, and Holly Clegg too of course : )

Soux Chef says:
 Of course it's two thumbs up, it was amazing!

The total for the ingredients was about $17 making this recipe $5.60 and worth every penny.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Kleinpeter Family Christmas!

Guess what Marion got all of the girls for Christmas this year?

Everyone gives it:

 Two thumbs up!

Pina Colada Brie

I made this dish as an appetizer for Christmas day, we had to have something from the cookbook for everyone to rate! It turned out we had three things. My cousin Jennifer made the peanut clusters and my grandmother made the rice dressing. All were fantastic. 

For this recipe you start with Brie:

This is special Brie because I had to go to 4 different grocery store to find it! I started with Albertson's, then went to Hi Neighbor, then Calvin's and finally Whole Foods. I knew I should have started with Whole Foods, but I was trying to avoid the Christmas traffic. It wasn't too expensive though, $7. It cost a lot more than that in Nashville. 

You have to shave off all of the wax, which I just scraped away with a knife. Then you have to cut the Brie in half which is practically impossible with a knife because it sticks to it. So I used the little advice side note in the cookbook and cut it in half with dental floss. It worked like a charm. It's the same idea as cutting clay in pottery class. I can't believe nobody has ever thought to do that before. 

Layer all of the ingredients and you get a beautiful appetizer:

Aunt Aimee had a better picture:

I can't believe these were the only pictures that ended up on my camera : ( 
I know I took one before it went in the oven. It was beautiful, but I guess I'll have to make it again so you can see it up close. I loved cooking in mom's kitchen. There's room to spread out my ingredients and really make a mess. 

I would say the family was pretty impressed!

Chicken Tuscan Primavera

This was a great dish!
It was another dish that only required one dirty pot. The recipe says that it makes 4-6 servings, but we made it into about 10 servings. This picture does not do it justice. There's spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms and onions. This probably sounds like a dish that you've had before, but the sauce was a wine based sauce that mostly just flavored the noodles. It was especially delicious the following day after the noodles absorbed the sauce. I put three chicken breasts in the dish which was a bit much, and all of the good stuff sunk to the bottom. 

I couldn't get a better picture than this, but it was yummy. 

Soux Chef says:
I give it one thumb up as well! 

Quick Italian Cream Cake

Another birthday party! And once again I begged to make the cake. 

Bradley's mother celebrated a birthday on Saturday so we had the family over for a little birthday party. I cooked a lovely dinner, then we finished up with a fabulous birthday cake for dessert.
I chose the Quick Italian Cream Cake because there is a picture in the cookbook and it looks amazing. 
I can't believe how easy it was to make. You use a box cake mix instead of measuring out flour and baking powder etc., then add a few extra ingredients that make it taste homemade. This one was another triple decker, but I figured out a way to lay each layer so they wouldn't slide. You probably already knew this, but you have to match up the two flat sides for the bottom two layers then put the flat side down for the top layer. I made it on Friday and stored it in an air-tight container for Saturday. 

Here it is:

The red says "happy birthday," you can barely see it. 

Yup, that's right, I toasted coconut to go on top. It has a cream cheese icing, toasted pecans and coconut, and a butter pecan'ish center. Very light and moist. I would definitely make this again!

Ready to sing Happy Birthday!

Center view
Soux Chef gives this:

I give it two thumbs up also! It tasted like I spent all day baking it, but it really only took about 30 min. Toasting the coconut was the hardest part...You have to be very careful when toasting the coconut. When it looks like it's almost done, it only takes 1 more minute, any longer and it will burn. 
Birthday girl thought it was delicious as well. I didn't know this when picking out the recipe, but the Richmond family has a special coconut cream cake recipe that has been in the family a long time, so they are all partial to that recipe. This one is much easier though, and the frosting has three tablespoons of butter compared to an entire stick!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Beef Lettuce Wraps

These beef lettuce wraps are amazing!
They took me about 20 minutes to prepare, I only had one dirty pan to clean. I only had to buy three ingredients. The rest I had in the fridge. I used the rest of the shredded carrots that I had originally bought for the morning muffins, then used in the cannelloni. I love how nothing goes to waste. Bradley was the most impressed by these, he's never been to P.F. Chang's and had the lettuce wraps there.
The recipe was meant to cook for two so it called for 1/2 lb of sirloin, but I didn't want the other half sitting in the fridge so I doubled all of the ingredients. 

I took my cousin Jennifer's advice and let the lettuce dry out well before dinner. 

Fill the lettuce with the beef mixture and wrap it up like a burrito


I loved cooking this dish because I didn't have to chop anything, and only had to clean one dish after dinner. The meal cost about $1.50 per serving, based on four servings.

Soux Chef says:

Two thumbs up! I also give it two thumbs up, its definitely different. 

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Spinach Feta Cheese Ball

I made this cheese ball as an appetizer to serve at Cara's birthday party. It was fairly easy to make. It would have been easier if I had a bigger food processor, I had to do it in two batches. 
I've never made a cheese ball before, but I'm pretty sure that it's supposed to be a little more solid than mine turned out. It was soft and a little hard to form. I made this ahead on Monday as well and left it wrapped in the fridge until Wed. 
I thought the recipe was good, but would have been better with more cheese, less spinach. 

Here it its right out of the food processor before I tried to shape it into a ball:

Shaped into a ball and served with crackers:

Evan and Stephanie give it: 

Rich Chocolate Three Layer Cake with Chocolate Frosting

Last night we had a very special occasion for a cake recipe...Cara's 30th birthday!
We had a surprise birthday party, and while Brian distracted her and took her out to dinner, I snuck into their house and prepared some yummy food and drinks. I pretty much begged Brian to let me make the cake so I could try out this recipe. 

I had all of the ingredients in my pantry except 2- butter extract (which sounds and looks disgusting) and cream cheese. 

I started with the three layers of cake, whipped up the icing then layered them all on top of each other. The icing was a little slippery and it made the layers of the cake slide around a bit, so I stuck some toothpicks in the cake to hold it in place. 

Thanks Palmer for the pretty handwriting. 

We served it with some vanilla ice-cream. 
I made the cake ahead on Monday and stored it in a tupperware cake container. It stored great. It was moist and absolutely delicious. You could hardly tell it's healthy...sort of. 
313 calories per slice and 8 grams of fat. We had about 16 people and ate the entire cake. 
Soux chef's say:

Stephanie was super excited about rating it!

Cara got a copy of the cookbook for her birthday! Picture coming soon.

As promised: Cara's birthday picture, with her birthday present. What a lucky girl!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Best Barley Soup

Last night I was home by myself so I made Best Barley Soup, had a glass of wine and watched a Christmas movie. It was lovely. 

Perfect weather for a warm bowl of  soup!

I don't think I've ever had barley before. It's interesting. It's comparable to rice. If it's healthier than rice, then I like it better. However, if the nutrition facts are the same then I prefer rice. 

I went to the grocery store to get all of the ingredients last night and they were out of mushrooms. So, I went to the salad bar and got some sliced mushrooms from there, and some sliced onions while I was at it, making this one of the easiest soups I've ever made. 
I love how Holly sneaks sweet potatoes into a lot of the recipes. We had a bunch that Bradley's parents grew in their garden this summer, so I used some homegrown TN sweet potatoes in this soup. 

Another thought to ponder: Does a single bay leaf really give soup any extra flavor? I mean I put the bay leaf in the soup because I had some, but I just don't see how a single bay leaf can add any flavor to any recipe. 

Top it off with turkey bacon and this is what you get:

Bradley and I both are having a hard time making the switch to turkey bacon. I might stick with the real stuff from now on. 

This was such a simple recipe. You cook everything in one pot so there's very little clean up. The best part is that the total cost of this recipe turned out to be about $1 per serving. I had a serving last night for dinner, then Bradley and I both had a bowl for lunch today and there's enough left for at least three more bowls. 

We both give this recipe one thumb up!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Easy Chocolate Truffles Dipped in White Chocolate

Bradley, Brian, Cara, and I went tailgating Thursday night for the Titans vs. Colts game. Titans lost, but we still had a great time. 
We grilled in the 30 degree weather, then finished up the meal with Chocolate Truffles. 
They were a hit, and they were so easy to make. There's only three ingredients, and it's impossible to mess these up. 
All you do is put the two ingredients (I'm trying to keep them a secret so you'll have to buy the cookbook) in the food processor and this is what happens:

Take the blob out of the food processor and this is what you get:

I had to divide the ingredients in half to get them to fit in my food processor.
It doesn't really look appetizing yet, but you form this big blob into little bitty blobs and this what it looks like:

 I put food coloring in my white chocolate to add a little Christmas cheer. 

Here they are tasting them in action:

Two thumbs up!

Brian went on and on about how good these were. I'm thinking Cara might need this cookbook for her birthday so she can make them for him again. 

Sad the Titans lost, but it was a close game. I couldn't feel my feet by the end of the game. It's time to start making the soup recipes. 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Tomato Bruschetta, Cannelloni and Roasted Garlic Broccoli

Tonight we hosted family night. We started family night about 4 years ago when I first moved to Nashville. Basically its an excuse for everyone to get together, eat, drink and catch up. There's six of us and we usually get together about every other month at a different persons house each time. It gives us all something to look forward to during the work week. 

Tonight's theme was Italian. 

We started off with Tomato Bruschetta. This is an easy recipe, but best used during the summer when tomatoes are ripe. I gave it a try anyway. I chopped up all of the ingredients and mixed them together. Nothing to it. I had to use dry basil leaves since the grocery store was out of fresh basil. You can't really tell, it just isn't as pretty. Bradley got a slap chop last year for Christmas and it works great for onions, not so much for tomatoes. 

For the main course we had Cannelloni with a side of Roasted Garlic Broccoli. 
Did you know?: Cannelloni and Manicotti are not the same. Americans have used the words interchangeably, but originally Cannelloni was made with pasta shells and Manicotti was made with crepes. So, as you can see, I was a bit frustrated when I went to two different grocery stores looking for Cannelloni shells only to find out later that Cannelloni and Manicotti are the same. That was my mistake. Upon closer examination the recipe actually says Manicotti shells. 
This recipe took me an hour and a half to prepare. You have to cook the noodles, prepare to separate sauces and then stuff the noodles. Definitely not a weekday after work recipe. Luckily I was off today so I made this and the bruschetta ahead.

Here's a photo of the empty noodle:

Then I filled it with the stuffing:

 Then put on the white sauce:

Then the red sauce:

Roasted Garlic Broccoli was a cinch.
I bought two bags of frozen broccoli florets and let them thaw all day in the refrigerator. Then all I had to do was toss them with the oil and garlic and lay them out on a baking pan. Easy clean up too, I just threw away the foil baking sheet. No chopping or cleaning involved.

The total cost of this meal was $19.60 (not including staples), making the cost of the meal $3.20 per person.

Soux chef says overall:

Butters was worn out from all of the excitement: