20 February 2012

cajun chicken pasta

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Yep.  It's here, again.  Monday.  But, wait!  It doesn't have to be all that bad.  You could totally add some of this cajun chicken pasta to your life and jazz it up!  

Make this for Fat Tuesday (or fat monday, if that's how you're feeling) and get all the spicy pasta goodness with a little less guilt.  I balance out the pasta with extra chicken and veggies so I can get my pasta fix without a total carb overload.  Balance, grasshopper. Balance. 

Recipe for Cajun Chicken Pasta
1 lb fettuccine, cooked
4 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 large red onion, diced
4 (about) cloves of garlic, minced
1 green bell pepper, diced
4 roma tomatos, chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup white wine
cajun seasoning, to taste (I used SO MUCH!)
olive oil (about 1/4 cup)

While pasta is cooking, sautee 1 inch sized pieces of chicken in a large skillet with about 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Season generously with cajun seasoning.  Once chicken in opaque throughout, transfer to a bowl and begin cooking your veggies in the same pan.  Toss in onion and pepper and sautee on medium until softened, adding more oil and cajun seasoning if needed.  Add garlic in the last few minutes and cook until fragrant. Transfer onto top of chicken and add tomatoes to pan.  Cook until tomatoes are wilted and soft.  Add cream and wine before stirring together to combine into a sauce and simmer for one minute.  Toss together with pasta, chicken, and veggies before serving with an extra sprinkle of cajun seasoning.

16 February 2012

king cake

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Confession: I have never been to New Orleans.  I know, this is a sin.  I should have partaken in many a jazz fest, mardi gras, or other cajun extravaganza. But, hey... I'm still young.  In the meantime, I'll just make some breakfast pastries.

Some of the king cakes I have tried in the past have been pretty dry.  The better ones are filled with goodness.  What kind of goodness, you ask?  Cream cheese filling.  Isn't the answer usually cream cheese filling?  I think so.

Okay, here we go!  This seems like a long recipe, but don't be afraid!  It's super easy.

Recipe for King Cake
1 envelope dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1/2 cup milk
1 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
2 whole eggs (large)
3 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt

Mix the yeast and warm water in small bowl with 1 tsp sugar and 1 tsp flour.  Let sit until bubbly.  In the meantime, heat milk, butter, and sugar  in a small sauce pan on the stove.  When butter has melted, transfer mixture to a stand mixer with the paddle attachment.  Beat on low until mixture has cooled to lukewarm.  Add eggs, yolks, and yeast mixture and mix until combined.

Combine flour, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt in large bowl and toss together with a fork.  Slowly add half of mixture to mixer before switching to a dough hook attachment.  Add the rest of the flour and let the mixer knead the dough with the hook until the entire mix comes together into a ball.  Transfer to a well oiled bowl and cover with a damp towel.  Let sit overnight in fridge (or 8 hours).

The next morning, remove the dough from the fridge and prepare the filling!

Recipe for King Cake Filling
16 oz cream cheese, softened
1 cup chopped pecans
1 egg
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp flour
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp vanilla extract

Mix ingredients by hand in a small bowl with a fork.

Remove the dough from the bowl and divide into three sections.  Roll each section into a long rectangle. Fill one side rectangle with some of the cream cheese filling.  Fold each rectangle in half to cover the filling and pinch together to seal.  Seam sides down, braid the three sections together form into a circle.  Let sit 30 minutes to rest while you preheat your oven to 375F!

Brush dough with a beaten egg and bake for around 30 minutes, or until nice and golden brown.  Remove and let cool before drizzling with icing.   I simply use about a cup of powdered sugar mixed with almond extract and a little bit of water.  People typically dye their icings purple, yellow, and green for mardi gras, but this seems more appetizing to me!  You could also cover your cake with colored sugar after you ice it if you want to be extra festive!

Don't forget to hide a little plastic baby inside!  I did it after the cake was baked by just pressing it into the underside of the cake.  If you don't want to go buy a little plastic baby, traditionally they used a dried bean.  Oh, you... so traditional and classy (and historical!) with your bean!

This sucker is huge, so it is perfect for a party or bringing to the office.  If you are just making it at home, maybe halve the recipe.  I used our left overs to make some pretty bangin' bread pudding.  It was awesome.  Just sayin'.  

Do you get in the Mardi Gras spirit?  What else is festive?  Crawfish etoufee?!  

06 February 2012

raw energy bars

Pin It Are you one of those people who forget to eat?  Or, in my case, are too busy too early and never hungry enough to eat right when you wake up?  These will change your world.  They are gluten-free and vegan and full of awesome nutty & chocolatey goodness.  I was told they were like a little debbie brownie mixed with a mounds bar.  Not to shabby for a raw energy bar's reputation!  Alright, let's plug in that cuisinart and get energized!

I got the cadillac of food processors for Christmas.  It made making these a breeze!  Do you have a food processor?  If not, you should totally get one.  Then, you can be energized all day long!  And, a whiz at making hummus and pie crust!

Okay... here we go!

Recipe for Raw Energy Bars
2 cups Moist Medjool Dates, pitted and chopped
2 cups raw cashews
1/2 cup raw almonds (without skin)
3/4 cup cocoa powder
pinch of salt
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
2-3 tablespoons cold water

Pulse chopped dates, nuts, cocoa, salt, and coconut in food processor until finely chopped.  Add vanilla and water (while pulsing) until mixture comes together.  Remove and press into square pan lined with plastic wrap.  Refrigerate 1 hour (or until firm).  Remove and cut into bars!

02 February 2012

chocolate truffles

Pin It So, I know how you are.  You probably think Valentine's Day is for dopes and don't see the point of such a silly hallmark holiday.  You love your significant other all of the days of the year, why would you pay extra attention to them on February 14th?

I know that you probably think this way because I have thought this way.  I also know that somewhere around February 12th I start to play into the hype and want to do something special for my guy.  I mean, why wouldn't I totally indulge in an extra holiday full of love??  I dare you this Valentine's Day to make these chocolate truffles for the one you cherish.  Don't buy them an ipad.  Okay, you can totally buy them an ipad. But, make them these chocolate truffles, too!

These are a super quick, easy version of chocolate truffles.  They usually have a hard shell (which you can totally do by just dipping them in some melted chocolate), but I like them this way.  Much easier and just as pretty.

Recipe for Easy Chocolate Truffles
1/2 cup heavy cream
8 oz favorite chocolate (I used semi sweet)
confectionary sugar, cocoa powder, and chopped nuts (for coating)

First, make your ganache.   Pour your chocolate into a medium sized bowl.  Bring the cream to a simmer and pour onto chocolate.  Wait about a minute and begin stirring together.  It helps if you start in the middle and work your way to the edges to keep everything nice and smooth.  Cover with plastic and pop in the fridge.

It's going to have to sit in the fridge for a few hours to set up.  In the meantime, gather ingredients for coating your truffs and curl your hair.  You got a hot date tonight, valentine baby!

When ganache is hardened, use a teaspoon to scoop out small balls of chocolate.  Roll in between your hands until they are as round and smooth as you can get them (warning: chocolate mess!).  Roll them in cocoa powder, chopped nuts (I used hazelnuts, duh!), and powdered sugar.

Present them to your lover (or friend or mom) and tell them how much you love them!  I know, you do it every day anyway, but why not do it with chocolate truffles today?