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31 January 2013

Tamale Cups



Did you miss me?! My birthday month is coming to a close :/ and I will have to wait another year to turn one more year younger ;) Hahaha..but really, my goal this week was to try to post every day, especially since I made and photographed all my recipes this weekend. Sadly, this week has been hectic and by the time I came home each day, I had just enough energy to eat and fall asleep. It was pathetic really-- probably a sign that I am getting old ;)

And I do have to say that I think I jinxed myself- I was eager to post about how well Ninja has been doing, only for the very next day for him to start limping :/ How sad! The hubby took him out walking the very next morning after my post- and he was hopping around and not using his back leg that had surgery! I have no idea what happened, but clearly I jumped the "gun" in posting about good news. I guess Ninja has more waiting before returning to the dog park then I had originally thought. Whose going to break the bad news to him? I say the hubby does it ;)

Okay-- so I think that I have made my love for Asian food and Mexican food quite apparent, but have been a bit biased in making Asian food and not so much Mexican or Hispanic food! Oh the dilemma's I face each day-- this would nicely fit into those hash tag phrases of #firstworldproblems or maybe even #imaddictedtomykitchen :) As I always say, not the worst problem to have. Today's recipe marks a turning point, not in life but in my belly :) haha..I am on a roll right?! I decided to make these adorable Tamale cups that I saw on Pinterest. They not only look adorable but they taste pretty awesome if you love Tamales. They do not exactly taste like Tamales but close enough to be appreciated and yummy enough to be loved :)







TAMALE CUPS
Adapted from Mrs. Happy Homemaker

INGREDIENTS

Preheat Oven to 350F Degrees

FOR THE TAMALE CUPS
2 c. corn flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. taco seasoning
1 1/3 c. chicken broth
2/3 c. melted shortening (Crisco)

FOR THE MEAT FILLING
2- 2 1/2 c. of shredded chicken*
1 tbsp. olive oil
2/3 c. onion (or one small onion, diced)
2 tbsp. garlic
1 (8oz.) can of tomato paste
1/2 pack of taco seasoning
Few splashes of hot sauce

FOR THE GARNISH (Optional)
Cilantro
Sour Cream

*I always shred my chicken by cooking it in the crockpot on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours and shred using a fork-- so easy!

DIRECTIONS

For the tamale cups: combine corn flour, baking powder, salt and taco seasoning. Then add chicken broth and mix until the flour reaches a crumbly consistency. Pour in the melted shortening and mix by hand until smooth. Coat cupcake pan with cooking spray. Roll the flour mixture into golf ball size balls. You can shape the cups two ways:
  1. placing the ball in the cupcake well and using your fingers to press the ball to line the inside of the cup to form a "cup shape"
  2. they way I did it: using a spice or seasoning bottle with the lid the same size as the base of the cupcake well-- take the dough and shape it around the lid of the bottle. Then turning the bottle upside down push the dough into the cupcake well. This will create a firm flat tamale cup base the same size the the bottom of the cupcake well. Then using your fingers slowly separate the dough away from the side of the spice bottle lid and spread out to line the cupcake well. This is a lot easier than it sounds and worked great for me. It also give you great shaped cups.

Be careful though- the cups are very delicate!

For the filling: heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Saute onion and garlic until onions are translucent and garlic is browned. Add in shredded chicken and cook for 3-5 minutes. Next, stir in the tomato paste and taco seasoning. Finally mix in as much hot sauce as desired, depending on your "spiciness" preference.

Fill each tamale cup full with shredded chicken. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Allow the table cups to cook for 5-10 minutes. Top with sour cream and garnish with cilantro leaf.

Enjoy,
Chika

28 January 2013

Keshni Nuggets (Potato Chip Nuggets)



Some good news to start off this post: Ninja is now doing long walks (still on leash and not at the dog park)- but he is able to walk for 45 minutes with no hopping or limping! YAY! And you can tell he is really antsy and has so much energy, so we even did some brief running "spurts." And he is also able to support weight on that leg, if you lift the other (good) leg up :) I am so excited for him. I cannot wait to take him back to the dog park. Truth be told-- I miss the people at my dog park, and having random chats about life and watching Ninja have fun with his favorite doggie friends.

Okay, so you are probably wondering what are Keshni Nuggets? Keshni is my sister-in-law and about 3 years ago she made this really yummy recipe for my niece, who can sometimes be a picky eater. (on a side note: if you think I'm a good "chef" you should meet my sister-in-law, and best of all- she makes AMAZING cakes!). I saw her making them, and was immediately intrigued: thinking "Who would have thunk!?" But at the time, I did not try any, because they were for my niece's lunch, and stealing food from a two-year old is just not cool ;) Well later, for a Christmas get-together, she made them again, and this time I got to try them- De-freakin'-licious! And I was not the only one that loved them :)

When I came back to Houston, I just had to make them for the hubby! I knew how to make them, but I had no idea what they were called- so whenever I made them, I just kept referring to them as "Keshni Nuggets." Well, the other day I realized that I had not made these in awhile and that I never shared this recipe with you all. It is a simple, kid friendly meal that can be made as "healthy" as you want, and I guarantee that it will be a hit! I cannot imagine how kids and hubbies will not love this recipe! And since, it was shared to me by my sister-in-law, I will share them to you as I know them: Keshni Nuggets- chicken breast pieces coated in potato chips :) Yes, I know, amazing!







KESHNI NUGGETS
Adapted from Keshni and Paula Deen

INGREDIENTS  

Preheat Oven to 350F Degrees

4 chicken breasts, cut into large cubes
11.5 oz. or larger-bag of potato chips*
1 egg, beaten
1/8 c. buttermilk**

*You can choose any flavor you like (sour cream, BBQ) and you can choose regular or baked (healthier). I used BBQ but sour cream also taste yummy!
**Can substitute with regular milk

DIRECTIONS

Cut chicken breasts into 1 1/2 inch cubes. Set aside. Dump, potato chips into a large freezer bag. Then close bag and crush potato chips into small crumbs. Do not use a food processor as you do not want the chips to be fine grained, but instead crumbly (it will ad texture to your nuggets). Dump potato chip crumbs in flat tray or dish. In a bowl, whisk together egg and milk. Grease or place baking mat on large baking tray. 

Set up station as follows: chicken pieces, egg/milk mixture, chips, and baking tray. Using one hand, take a piece of chicken and dip it into the egg/milk mixture, entirely submerging the piece of chicken. Then place the chicken in the chip crumbs. Using your other hand, coat the chicken with potato chip crumbs and place on baking tray. Repeat until all chicken pieces are coated. Depending on how you coat you may run out of potato chips first (if so, just freeze remaining chicken). 

Bake nuggets for 18-20 minutes (until no longer pink in the center). Allow to cool and serve with favorite dipping sauce (i.e., ranch, ranch-jalapeno, honey-mustard). 

Enjoy,
Chika

27 January 2013

Banana Crumb Muffins



I love being a "foodie" and I am really enjoying getting into the persona. Last night, Justin and I had a quick Dairy Queen run. I got a simple vanilla ice cream cone that was dipped in chocolate. As I was eating it, I realized just how long it had been since I had a simple ice cream cone that I actually ate without a spoon! Ice Cream Shoppes have changed so much-- offering such different things--like Cold Stones (i.e., the ice cream cookie I had last week, and funnel cake!), that sometimes it's nice to enjoy ice cream the old fashion way. I got the hubby a root beer float-- another classic :) After having a late nice ice cream run-- Justin, the hubby and I enjoyed a game night. Justin and the hubby were adorable as they enjoyed a fun night of Mario Kart as Ninja and I just watched.


On a totally different topic: growing up I always had home cooked meals (yes, I love my mommy) even though my mom was a working mom. What she would do is spend either a Saturday or Sunday cooking--ALL day. Well, she has inspired me :) Now that I am married--and hope one day to have children-- I want to be able to provide home cooked meals everyday (and yes--that includes those lovely left over days). But going to school full time and having such a hectic schedule makes it difficult. So, I stole a piece from my mom's book- and decided to cook ALL day today! Well not technically all day-- I cooked all day and stopped when the sun went down because I photograph all my food with natural lighting. And well there is no point cooking if I cannot blog about it, right?! ;)

I really need to start learning other things to make for the hubby's breakfast other than muffins, but until then, for this week his breakfast is banana muffins with a brown sugar-cinnamon streusel (crumb). These muffins came out really well! They looked and smelled amazing-- and since the hubby is the taste tester- he said it tasted awesome and he really enjoyed the crumb:) He said these muffins tasted like banana bread topped with a sweet, crunchy topping.






BANANA CRUMB MUFFINS
Adapted from Lovin' the Oven

INGREDIENTS

Preheat Oven to 375F Degrees

FOR THE MUFFINS
1 1/2 c. all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking soda
3 large bananas, sliced into medallions
3/4 c. sugar
1 egg, beaten
1/2 c. butter, melted 

FOR THE CRUMB TOPPING
3 tsbp. all purpose flour
1/3 packed brown sugar, light
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tbsp. butter, softened

DIRECTIONS

For the Muffins:
Set up by lining muffin trays with liners or grease each muffin well. Then in a medium bowl whisk together flour and baking soda- set aside. In the bowl of a stand-mixer fitted with paddle attachment, mix bananas starting on low speed until slightly mashed and then increase speed to thoroughly mash bananas- until "liquidy." Then add sugar, egg, and melted butter and combine well. Next slowly stir in dry ingredients until just well incorporated. Evenly distribute batter among 11 muffin wells, filling 2/3 of the way full. 

For the Crumble:
Whisk together flour, brown sugar and cinnamon  Then cut butter into mixture (I cut the butter into the mixture and then used my fingers to combine well)- until the mixture resembles a corn meal or sand like texture. Completely cover each muffin with crumble. Bake for 18-20 minutes- until inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Enjoy,
Chika

26 January 2013

One Skillet Spinach & Sausage Spaghetti



First, I have to say that I am writing this while watching Guy Code on MTV. When I saw the previews for this show-- I was thinking it was another lame shown on MTV that is just a bit much. But I have to say- it's pretty darn funny. It is more like a comedy show where guys talk about different topics- and I really like it! So, although I never plug for a T.V. show especially not one on MTV-- I have to say--that you should take the time to watch it, it's a good laugh.


This morning the hubby, Luke, Justin and I decided to have a cupcakery adventure at a new bakery that opened up in Bryan/College Station area called BCS (i.e., Bryan College Station) Chocolate Gallery. All of their cupcakes seemed yummy! It is a chocolate store + bakery all in one-- who would not love this place?! Right when I entered, I just became overwhelmed with joy! And after enjoying some cupcake and cake truffle fun this afternoon-- I must say that I have officially found the cupcakery for me :) Ok-- it's technically a chocolate gallery but it has amazing cupcakes! YAY-- there is finally a good cupcake place in the area :)  And there is so much to try-- that I have many reasons to go back!


I did my weekly menu planning and grocery shopping yesterday. I like to do most of my cooking on the weekends because I get too busy on the weekdays but I still want the hubby to have homemade meals. Well when I woke up this morning I realized that I forgot to take out the different meats I need to use- and thaw it :( Tragic. But that is alright, because I was meeting Justin and Luke at noon. The only meat that I had thawed was the turkey sausage for one my recipes- which worked well- a simple, one skillet meal that is actually another Blogger retake on the original version of Spicy Sausage Pasta recipe that I made a while back. How interesting- foodie versions of the same recipe can come out so differently--both so yummy!

Update: the hubby came home and tried this and said it was good but he much preferred the Spicy Sausage Pasta.







ONE SKILLET SPINACH AND SAUSAGE SPAGHETTI
Adapted from Budget Bytes

INGREDIENTS

14 oz. turkey sausage 
1 tbsp. olive oi
1 c. diced onions
1- 14.5 oz. can of diced tomatoes w/ chiles
2.5-3 c. of chicken broth
8 oz. of spaghetti (break spaghetti in half)
3 c. of fresh spinach
1 c. of shredded cheese 
1 whole green onion, diced
Crushed red peppers (optional- if like spicy)

DIRECTIONS

Thinly slice sausage into medallions. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat and add sausage. Saute the sausage until browned, about 6-8 minutes. Then add diced onion (not green onion) and saute onion until browned and slightly translucent. Add the can of diced tomatoes (do not drain) and chicken broth (first only add 2.5 c.). Stir to combine. 

Add the uncooked spaghetti (broken in half) to the skillet and make sure that all the pasta is submerged under the liquid (if you need additional liquid add the remaining half a cup of chicken broth). Place a lid on the skillet and allow the mixture to come to a heavy boil. Once boiling, remove lid, reduce heat to low and let simmer for 10-15 minutes (stir only occasionally), until most but not all of the liquid has evaporated. The pasta should be tender. 

Stir in the fresh spinach, one cup at a time, until the spinach wilts. Once all the spinach is added, sprinkle the shredded cheese on top and place lid on skillet- let sit for a few minutes until cheese had melted. Garnish with green onions and red pepper flakes (optional).

Enjoy,
Chika 

24 January 2013

Cornbread Chicken Pot Pie



What a beautiful day in Texas! :) A sunny, bright, 73 degree day. Now, I know some of you are winter people, and strongly believe in the idea of having four actual seasons. And I definitely see your point-- I love when leaves change color-- BUT I am one of those odd ones- that is okay with Spring and Summer weather all year long...coming home and enjoying some ice cream :) That is definitely my kind of weather! Something about these kind of days just make me so happy! I do feel bad for Ninja...he just stares out the window hoping that someone will take him to the dog park...poor baby....(only 5 more weeks). I mean just look at this face ;)


I never really grew up eating a pot pie and neither has the hubby-- but both of us have had those frozen-dinner type pot pies. The hubby was not a fan of them, and maybe I just tried them so long ago that I do not remember, but I do not remember them being half bad. I stumbled on this delicious looking chicken pot pie recipe in one of my daily Pinterest Scrolls and what really caught my interest was the crust was made with cornbread! I thought: how interesting! Who would have thought to mix the two? I just knew that the hubby might really like this (and he did :)

I am not the best at making recipes "traditional" style and I think this pot pie is no exception. I mean the crust is made out of cornbread and the filling is a mixture of all things yummy--but still not your traditional filling. But I did not want to go too out of the box- and so I used traditional pot pie vegetables: carrots, corn, green beans and peas. I liked this recipe but I really could have lived without the peas. The hubby and I are just not a fan of peas-- we LOVE veggies, just not peas. Although you could not taste it too strongly in the pot pie, I just did not like knowing they were in there :/ I know, I am just being a big baby about it ;) But next time I make this recipe, I will be sure to make it more "non-traditional" and not include peas! Happy Cooking!







CORNBREAD CHICKEN POT PIE 

INGREDIENTS

Preheat Oven to 425F Degrees

2- 8.5 oz. packages of cornbread mix + ingredients required to make it
3 chicken breasts, COOKED and cubed
1- 10.75 oz. can of cream of chicken
1- 10.75 oz. can of cream of potato
16 oz. container of sour cream
16 oz. bag of frozen mixed vegetables (carrots, corn, green beans, and peas)
salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

Grease a 13 x 9 baking dish (I used a glass Pyrex dish). Prepare cornbread mix (2) according to package directions (make sure to double since using two packages). Spread a small amount of batter over the baking dish (just enough to cover the bottom). Set remaining batter aside. Evenly arrange chicken throughout the baking pan, on top of the thin layer of cornbread batter.

In a medium bowl, combine together cream of chicken, cream of potato, sour cream as well as salt and pepper (to taste). Add frozen vegetables and mix well. Spread vegetable filling over chicken in the baking dish. The best way to spread the vegetable filling evenly over the chicken and throughout the baking dish is to use a spatula. Pour remaining cornbread batter over the vegetable filling--again using a spatula to spread the batter evenly.

Bake, uncovered (on bottom oven rack) for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Allow pot pie to cool for 15 minutes before serving.

Enjoy,
Chika

23 January 2013

Mushroom Risotto



Have you all heard of Color Me Rad and Color Run? Now that I am more fond of running- I've been thinking of registering for one of these runs. They are both really similar-- a run where you get color thrown at you as you run the course. Really the whole things reminds me of Indian Holi. Color Me Rad and Color Run are about 2.5 miles (5K)-- meaning pretty do-able for me. See, I am definitely not a "runner" who can run miles and miles without stopping. I am your recreational runner that celebrates at two miles :)

I really enjoy the concept of getting color thrown at you throughout your run. Why? Because in the end you look like a celebration! Both runs are held across the United States on different dates. The hubby and I live close to Austin and Houston-- both of which are having runs in March. I have done some reading online and found that Color Me Rad actually "throws" more color and hence makes you look more colorful-- so I am leaning towards Color Me Rad in Austin :) Any suggestions?

Onto food: another recipe I attempted this past weekend was risotto. When I was growing up-- and my mom went out of town-- my dad would always make "risotto" for us (good memories). And for my dad that meant, egg, rice and cheese mixed together; and it was actually quite delicious. Now that I have realized that- that in fact was not risotto, I really wanted to try to make an actual risotto. Risotto does take a lot of patience and concentration. You cannot just put rice in a pot, let it boil and add a few things. You need to watch, slowly add ingredients and stir constantly to cook the rice. But all, in all-- it did not take a ton of time and it was absolutely delicious!!!! 

Definitely one of my favorite recipes! I love how the mushrooms and risotto tasted together...mmmm. The hubby is not even a huge fan of mushrooms but ate this up :) Though this is not technically a traditional risotto because I did not use Arborio rice- instead I used Jasmine rice. If you also do not have Arborio rice-- do not fret-- any long grain rice that tends to absorb a lot of liquid, will work fine :)








MUSHROOM RISOTTO
Adapted from Gimme Some Oven

INGREDIENTS

4 c. of chicken broth
2 tbsp. olive oil 
1 regular carton of fresh mushrooms
3 green onions, diced
1 c. rice (Arborio preferred, long grain rice as substitute)
1/4 c. cooking wine
1/2 c. Parmesan Cheese

DIRECTIONS

In a pot, bring chicken broth to a boil, then reduce heat and keep warm over low heat. 

In a skillet, heat 1 tbsp. of olive oil over medium-high heat. Once hot, toss in mushrooms and saute until tender-- about 8-10 minutes. Empty mushrooms onto plate or container and set aside. In the same skillet, heat another 1 tbsp. of olive oil over medium heat. Add green onions and saute until fragrant and translucent, about 3-5 minutes. Add in rice and stir well to coat with olive oil-green onion mixture. Cook rice for an additional 3 minutes, stirring only occasionally. 

Next add in cooking wine and cook until all the wine is absorbed-- stir constantly. Continue to cook rice by adding 1/4 c. of warmed chicken broth at a time into the rice, stirring continuously until broth has been completely absorbed (Gimme Some Oven had the great suggestion of using a ladle and that is exactly how I added the chicken broth). Do not add more broth until the previous amount has been entirely absorbed by the rice. Continue adding increments of chicken broth and allowing rice to absorb all the broth-- do this until all the broth has been used and rice is cooked through (add more broth if rice needs additional cooking). 

Once risotto is cooked add in Parmesan Cheese and then mushrooms, stirring until well combined. 

Enjoy,
Chika 


22 January 2013

Sante Fe Stuffed Peppers



AHHH! I may have written this post and realized that I am the hugest, dork. I am not sure how I overlooked this, at first, but THIS IS MY 100TH RECIPE POST!!! I never in a million years would have guessed that I would have had it in me to start a blog and actually keep up with it, especially in graduate school! I am so proud of myself for keeping up with this blog because it has turned into something that I love, adore and am so passionate about. Each week I cannot wait to post the different things I have attempted to make.

This has become an outlet that I can share my thoughts, feelings, inspirations, frustrations, randomness, and especially my trials and errors as I learn to become a baker/chef :) I get to take all the amazing recipes that I see out there, make it and share it! All the while, learning so much and each day getting better! And along the way I have gotten to develop new skills- like photography and blog designing (however basic they may be :)!

This truly is my de-stressor from graduate school and hubby's pretty happy himself ;)  I LOVE being For the Love of Dessert and I LOVE that through it, I have gotten to "meet" so many other people who love food just as much as I do. This little space on the inter-web ;) is my FOODIE soul :) And that is awesome! Here's to another 100 posts and tons more cupcakery reviews ;) YAY!!!

Today I came home to find more presents! I guess, all of my parents' presents they had ordered did not get delivered on time-- which I do not mind at all. Coming home to presents when it is not technically your birthday anymore, is pretty darn nice :) In my package today, I got a Wilton Cake Lifter and 3 piece glass canister set! Mark two more off my wish list. Which I am not sure is a Wish List anymore, so much, as it is a look what I now own list ;) I've been itching to make a cake-- and now I guess I have another reason. And I  am also desperately in need of storage containers for all the baking ingredients I have-- so all in all-- a pretty great gift!

In my attempt to eat healthier-- I made these stuffed peppers for the hubby and I this past weekend. They were not too difficult to make, did not require too many ingredients and tasted really good! Very southwestern and filled with a ton of veggies! I used very little cheese to keep it light.






SANTA FE STUFFED PEPPERS
Adapted slightly from Skinny Taste

INGREDIENTS 

Preheat Oven to 350F Degrees

FOR THE FILLING
1/2 lb. lean ground turkey
1 tbsp. garlic, minced
3 tbsp. chopped onion
2 tbsp. cilantro
3 tbsp. taco seasoning
1/8 c. chopped jalapeno peppers
Salt to taste
1 (15.25 oz) can of black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (14 oz) can of tomatoes, drained and rinsed
3/4 c. frozen corn

FOR THE PEPPERS
3 bell peppers, cut in half lengthwise and cleaned*
1/3 c. chicken broth
Shredded cheese for garnish*
Paprika for garnish (optional)

* Choose pepper (red, yellow, or green) and cheese of choice (I think pepper jack would be great). I chose green bell peppers and mozzarella cheese

DIRECTIONS

In a large skillet, over medium heat, brown turkey and season with salt. When turkey is cooked or browned, add onion, garlic, cilantro, jalapeno, black beans  and tomatoes. Mix well, cover and simmer on low for 20 minutes. Remove lid, and add corn. Simmer an additional 5 minutes or longer-- until excess liquid evaporates. Season turkey mixture with taco seasoning, combining well.

To prepare peppers, cut peppers lengthwise and remove seed and stem (I also always rinse the pepper with water and dry once cut). Place peppers, cut side up in an oven proof dish-- I use glass Pyrex dishes. Pour chicken broth into dish. Fill each pepper (until full) with turkey mixture. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake for 45-50 minutes until peppers become tender.

Take dish out of the oven and remove foil to sprinkle a small amount of shredded cheese on top. Once topped with shredded cheese return to oven for an additional 5 minutes of until cheese has melted. My cheese took about 3 minutes. You do not want to keep it in there too long as the cheese will burn. I sprinkled a little paprika on top of my peppers (you could also sprinkle a little Taco Seasoning instead).

Enjoy,
Chika