Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Chocolate Chip Pecan Blondies

I just realized that I've been making a lot of bar treats to share. It's just that it's so darn easy to make and share treats this way. Lots easier than waiting for each batch of drop cookies to bake for sure! This blondie recipe is no different in terms of a quick bar treat. This was super easy to make and took no time at all. The tough part was waiting for them to cool before slicing and devouring!

I made these the morning of the day some friends came over to hang out. It was a nice get together. They brought lunch, so I provided some treats and desserts. This was one of the desserts I made for everyone.

After I transferred the contents into my pan, I realized I didn't add any baking soda. I read and re-read the directions probably 10 times until I saw in the comments that there was no leavening needed. Because of that, the bars came out all even and level. It and a very nice caramel taste from the butter and sugar, and the pecans provided a nice crunch. To me, it was sweet, but not too overly sweet that it left a sugar aftertaste and headache. My brother ate 2 pieces and he's not a huge sweets fan!

I did cut this into 12 pieces, thinking that the 16 pieces would be too small, and 9 would be too big. I thought they were the perfect size for adults, but I would cut them smaller if serving to kids.

Chocolate Chip Pecan Blondies
made by cathy's kitchen journey
adapted from Once Upon a Chef

  • 8 TBSP (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all purpose flour (spooned into measuring cups, then leveled off)
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Spray an 8-inch square baking pan with non-stick cooking spray, set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, beat melted butter with sugars until well combined, about 2 minutes. Beat in egg and vanilla.
  3. On low speed, mix in flour and salt until just blended, do not overmix. Gently stir in chocolate chips and nuts. Transfer batter to prepared pan.
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 23-25 minutes, until top is lightly golden and toothpick inserted into middle comes out clean. Set pan on a wire rack and let cool completely. Transfer the blondies to a cutting board and cut into 12-16 squares, or to desired size.
Yield: 12-16 servings

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Friday, March 23, 2012

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Snack Cake

For this latest recipe swap, I received Kate's blog. I had my choice of anything I wanted to make, but I had quite a difficult time narrowing it down to one recipe! I wanted to make a dessert, but didn't really have an occasion to make or bring a decadent dessert. While her chocolate peanut butter cheesecake looked amazing, I knew I had to make the peanut butter oatmeal snack cake when I saw it pop up.

I love how this dessert isn't too sweet and it's pretty healthy to boot. It had a great salty/sweet taste. My peanut butter loving aunt wanted to hoard this all for herself. Pretty much all the fat is from the peanut butter, and since I use natural pb with no added sugars or anything, I had no guilt eating this for breakfast! ;)

I did cut the cake into 16 pieces instead of 9. It was pretty dense, so a little when a long way, and you definitely want a glass of milk or coffee or something to wash it down with. I did replace the milk with soy milk powder with water since I usually don't have milk on hand. Doing this ended up making this vegan (as long as your chips are dairy free), which is a plus in my book!

As always, remember to check out Sarah's blog for the full roundup of recipe swap recipes. I'm curious to find out who got my blog and what they picked!

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Snack Cake
made by cathy's kitchen journey
adapted from Kate's Recipe Box

  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 TBSP vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup milk (I used soy milk powder with water)
  • 1/3 cup mini chocolate chips

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Spray a metal 8x8 pan with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, oats, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  3. Beat the peanut butter and sugar in your mixer at high speed until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and mix until combined.
  4. Slowly add in dry ingredients while beating at medium speed. The mixture will be dry and look like coarse sand.
  5. Reduce speed to low and slowly pour in milk. Mix until a dough ball forms. Fold in chocolate chips.
  6. Form a dough ball with your hands then transfer to the prepared pan. Press the dough evenly in the pan.
  7. Bake in preheated oven for 18-20 minutes, or until golden brown.
  8. Let cool, then cut into 16 pieces (or however big you want them!)
Yield: 9-16 servings

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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Vegan Stuffed Shells

As I mentioned earlier. Gary really missed stuffed shells. While I made the lasagna with the filling, he still wanted stuffed shells. I decided to make it since I wanted to try out the filling with the spinach.

I found it really weird that Gary has never mentioned anything about stuffed shells in the 6 years we've lived together. That might be one of the reasons I've never made before, but I digress.

Although the original said to scoop 2 TBSP of filling in each shell, I found that to be a bit much. I used a medium cookie scoop, which was about 1 TBSP of filling. It made it a lot easier to fill as well. Even doing that, I still have some shells left over. You can save them and serve with sauce or use them in another recipe.

Vegan Stuffed Shells
made by cathy's kitchen journey
adapted from PBS Food

  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 16-oz block extra firm tofu
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 TBSP nutritional yeast
  • 1 10-oz package frozen chopped spinach, thawed
  • 1 box jumbo shells
  • 1 24-26 oz jar marinara sauce

  1. Drain the tofu and pat dry with paper towels, lightly squeeze out extra water. Crumble into the bowl of a food processor or high-speed blender along with olive oil, salt, oregano, garlic and nutritional yeast. Process on high until smooth and “ricotta-like”.
  2. Transfer mixture to a bowl and mix in the defrosted spinach to the blended tofu mixture.
  3. Cook shells in boiling salted water until el dente. Drain, and add cold water to so it's easier to handle.
  4. Preheat oven to 350° F. Pour about ½ cup pasta sauce into the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch pan. Using a medium cookie scoop, stuff shells with 1-2 T of filling and place in pan, seam side down. Repeat until all shells have been stuffed. (I had leftover shells)
  5. Pour remaining pasta sauce over shells, cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
Yield: 6-8 servings

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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Caramelized Baked Chicken Wings

A couple of friends were coming over for lunch and I wanted something easy to make that would also taste phenomenal. I saw this recipe on allrecipes.com and it looked pretty simple. I had all the ingredients, so I decided to make this. This was great for me because it took minimal prep time, and all I had to do was cook the sauce then pop it in the oven. Great for someone like me who wants to sleep late and still want lunch! ;)

As usual I went through some of the comments to see how some people have adapted the recipe. Most of the time, people don't rate honestly on all recipes. They've adapted the recipe significantly then still in turn give the recipe 5 stars. It's kind of unreliable, and I have to take the comments with a grain of salt. Especially when I know my own tastes.

One of the comments mentioned to cook the sauce to thicken it first before adding to the chicken. I decided to do that first, but in the end, my sauce wasn't too thick. Now, looking back at the comments, she also mentioned to add cornstarch. I've adjusted the recipe below to include the cornstarch. Even without the full caramelization of the wings, the flavor turned out great!

Caramelized Baked Chicken Wings
made by cathy's kitchen journey
adapted from allrecipes.com

  • 3 lb (about 20 pieces) chicken wings
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 2 TBSP ketchup
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 TBSP cornstarch
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • minced scallion for garnish (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 375° F (190° C).
  2. Mix together the oil, soy sauce, ketchup, honey, garlic, and cornstarch in a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer for 15 minutes.  
  3. Place chicken in a single layer in a 9x13 inch glass baking dish. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Pour the sauce over the chicken to complete cover.
  4. Bake uncovered in the preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until sauce is caramelized.
  5. Transfer to a bowl and drizzle any remaining sauce over the chicken.
Yield: 4 servings

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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Vegan Zucchini Lasagna

When I first saw this recipe for the tofu ricotta, I knew it would be a winner. I've used tofu as a ricotta replacement before, and it worked very well. However, at that time, I didn't have as much knowledge I have now about tofu.

I've always been a fan of tofu, but I never really knew the difference between firm or silken or whatnot. I just ate anything my mom fed me. Now that I have to find dairy alternatives, I have to be creative in what I use. This tofu ricotta worked out beautifully and you really wouldn't believe it's vegan until I tell you.

Gary had a hankering for stuffed shells earlier in the week. Lucky for him, I had this recipe in my back pocket and I was already planning on making it. He thought the filling was perfect for shells, and of course it worked well in lasagna too, as I first thought when I saw this. Try this, and I bet you won't miss the cheese either!

Vegan Zucchini Lasagna
made by cathy's kitchen journey
tofu "ricotta" adapted from PBS Food

  • 9 lasagna noodles
  • 1 block (16 oz) firm or extra firm tofu, drained
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 TBSP nutritional yeast
  • 1 large zucchini, peeled and slice lengthwise
  • 1 24 oz jar marinara sauce
  • vegan cheese (optional)
  • vegan parmesan (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the water, then boil lasagna noodles for 10 minutes. Once done, drain and add cold water.
  2. In a food processor, blend the tofu, oil, salt, oregano, garlic and nutritional yeast until smooth and the consistency of ricotta.
  3. Peel and slice the zucchini lengthwise with a mandolin. 
  4. In a 9x13 baking dish, add 1/2 cup of the sauce.
  5. Pat dry 3 lasagna noodles and add to the pan. Spread half the tofu mixture (you might have to use your hands), then layer with half the zucchini, overlapping slightly.
  6. Add 1/2 cup sauce then layer with 3 more noodles, the remaining tofu, and the remaining zucchini. Then top with another 1/2 cup sauce.
  7. Top with remaining 3 noodles, then pour the remaining sauce on top.
  8. Cover the pan loosely with foil, then bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes.
  9. During the last 5 minutes, top with cheese and sprinkle with parmesan if desired.
  10. Let rest for 5 minutes. Run a knife through to cut into 9 even pieces.
Yield: 9 servings

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Sunday, March 4, 2012

Filipino Grilled Chicken

When I first started documenting my kitchen journey, I never thought I would meet such a great community of food bloggers. I often visit forums and chat with a few online. We follow each other on twitter. We've become friends over the years and we've gotten to know each other, even when most of them are many miles away.

While I've met some in person, I've yet to meet Krystal. She's one of the ladies I've met chatting online. Her and her husband, Eric are having a baby soon, and I delighted when I was asked to make something for her virtual baby shower, hosted by our wonderful Joelen.

Since Krystal is Filipino and her husband is Cuban, we were asked to make something inspired by their heritage. I decided to make this Filipino grilled chicken. I originally wanted to bake this since it wasn't quite bbq weather, which would defeat the purpose of this being grilled chicken. Then I remembered that I had bought a stove top griddle way back when I was still living with my parents! I decided it was time to take it out and take it for a test drive.

This came out very well. Since I used the boneless chicken thighs, they cooked up fast. I only had 3/4 cup vinegar left, so I only used that much. There was still plenty of liquid to marinade the chicken. The sweetness of the sugar and soda cut the vinegar very nicely, and the flavors worked well together. I can't wait til grilling season to try this again!

Filipino Grilled Chicken (Inihaw na manok)
made by cathy's kitchen journey
adapted from The Ivory Hut

  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 12 oz lemon-lime soda (such as 7-up, Sprite, or Sierra Mist)
  • 3 bay leaves, torn or crushed
  • 3 garlic cloves, grated
  • 1 TBSP ground black pepper
  • 2 lbs chicken (I used boneless skinless thighs)

  1. In a bowl, combine all the ingredients except chicken. Whisk until the sugar has dissolved.. Reserve half for basting in a separate container with a lid.
  2. Place the chicken in a plastic zip top bag. Pour the the marinade into the bag. Seal tightly and mix the liquid around to coat the chicken. Place in fridge to marinate for at least 3 hours or overnight.
  3. When ready to grill, take the chicken out of the fridge and let come to room temperature. Remove the chicken from the marinade and place on a plate. Discard marinade.
  4. In a sauce pan, bring the reserved marinade to a boil over medium-high heat until it has reduced to a sticky syrup.
  5. Bring the grill to 350° F or heat on medium heat. Grill the chicken for 10 minutes each side, basting each side with the sticky syrup. [Depending on the size of your chicken, cook time may be longer. My chicken pieces were flat, so they cooked fairly quick on the grill.]
  6. Cook until juices run clear. Take the chicken off the grill and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.
Yield: 6-8 servings

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Thursday, March 1, 2012

Braised Moroccan Chicken

Sometimes we get bored of the same old thing. Especially with chicken recipes. It's one of our main proteins, so there's so much you can do with chicken before you get bored with it. It's not like we've been in a rut lately. I have been trying new things in the kitchen, but we have our basics we always gravitate towards.

I'm glad I tried this recipe, even though I forgot about bookmarking it a while back from Weelicious. Even though her blog caters to kids, there are a lot of great recipes for everybody!

I had everything on hand to make this and it was so simple to make. The chicken was moist and flavorful because of the dark meat. If you haven't tried dark meat before because white is technically slightly better for you, try it! I didn't really think the short cooking time and the simple ingredients would yield such fantastic results, but I'm now a believer. Simpler is sometimes better, and this recipe proves it. This will definitely go in my rotation more often.

Braised Moroccan Chicken
made by cathy's kitchen journey
adapted from Weelicious

  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 small onion, cut in half then sliced thin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 15-oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 15-oz can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained and rinsed
  • 1 lb (about 4-5 pieces) boneless, skinless chicken thighs

  1. In a hot pan on medium heat, heat the oil. Add onions and saute for 5 minutes or until translucent.
  2. Add the spices and tomatoes, then bring to a boil.
  3. Add the beans and chicken, and stir to coat thoroughly.
  4. Reduce heat to medium low to simmer, cover and cook for 20 minutes, stirring halfway through.
  5. Serve over your choice of grains.
Yield: 4 servings when served with rice or other grain

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