Monday, May 30, 2011

French Apple Tart

Need a good dessert this Memorial Day weekend?  Try this easy and elegant apple tart (forget about the French part).  This really isn't hard to make, and it looks so impressive.  It's really good, too, especially if you serve it with a scoop of ice cream.

I adapted this recipe from Ina Garten's on "Barefoot Contessa."  The Food Network website even has a video of here making it here if my instructions aren't too clear.  She made her own pastry dough, and you're welcome to do that too, but I used a sheet of puff pastry, and it was great.

You should definitely do this when you want to impress company.  It looks so elegant and is so much easier than it looks.

French Apple Tart

1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
3-4 Granny Smith apples
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup apricot jelly
2 Tbsp rum or water

Preheat oven to 400.  Roll out puff pastry sheet to 10"x14".  Transfer to sheet pan lined with parchment paper or sprayed with cooking spray. 

Peel the apples and cut them in half through the stem.  Remove the stems and core with a sharp knife and a melon baller.  Slice the apples crosswise into 1/4"-thick slices.  Place overlapping slices of apples diagonally down the middle of the tart and continue making diagonal slices down both sides of the first row until the tart is covered with apple slices.  Sprinkle apples with the 1/2 cup of sugar. 

Bake for 45-55 minutes, until the pastry is browned and the edges of the apples start to brown.  If the pastry puffs up in one area, cut a little slit with a knife to let the air out. 

When the tart is done, heat the apricot jelly together with the rum or water, and brush the apples and pastry completely with the jelly mixture.  Loosen the tart with a spatula.  Allow to cool, and serve warm or at room temperature. 

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Quesadilla Appetizer

This is a tasty Betty Crocker recipe that we both enjoyed.  It's kind of like a Mexican quiche without a crust.  Next time I make it, I'll put in chopped jalapenos and probably a pound of cooked breakfast sausage (or just serve it with sausage patties).  It's a really good and filling appetizer. 

Quesadilla Appetizer

1 (4.5 oz) can green chiles
4 eggs
2 cups (8oz) Monterey Jack or Cheddar cheese
1 cup Bisquick
1 cup half and half
1 dash hot sauce

Heat oven to 375.  Spread chiles and half of cheese on the bottom of a greased 9"x9" baking dish.  Mix together eggs, Bisquick, half and half, and hot sauce, and pour on top of chiles and cheese.  Top with remaining half of cheese.  Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.  Let stand 10 minutes before cutting.  Cut into 5 rows by 5 rows, and serve with salsa.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken

I'm about to give you the easiest recipe in the world.  Ready?  You need a jar of salsa and a package of chicken breasts.  That's it.  You're done.  (I seasoned with salt and pepper and threw in about a tablespoon of minced onion flakes, but it's been done with just salsa and chicken, and it's good.) 

Depending on the amount of chicken you put in, you can have enough leftovers to last you for a week of delicious chicken wraps, chicken nachos, chicken sandwiches, and whatever else you want to do with shredded chicken cooked in salsa.  It's so good and so versatile.  Thanks, Amanda, for sharing this incredibly easy and tasty recipe. 

This is also a really good meal to bring to someone who needs some extra help around the house.  Last week, my sister made this chicken, put it in some tupperware, and brought it with some fresh tortillas to a friend of hers who just had a baby.  So easy!  You can't go wrong with this.  This will definitely go on the regular rotation at our house. 

Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken

1.5 lb chicken breasts
1 (16oz) jar salsa
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 Tbsp minced onion flakes

Season the chicken with salt and pepper.  Put chicken, salsa, and onion flakes into slow cooker.  Mix to coat chicken.  Cover with lid, and set slow cooker on low.  Cook for 4 hours.  Shred chicken and coat again in salsa mixture. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Teak Dog Tuesday!

Teak's 2nd birthday was on Saturday.  Here he is waiting for his birthday present--a piece of bread with peanut butter on it. 

Friday, May 20, 2011

Fiesta Rice

This was a yummy side dish that tasted like what we imagined Mexican macaroni and cheese would taste like.  It was very creamy and good, and I love that it cooked in the oven instead of on the stovetop.

The soup is the same I used in these Sausage and Cheese Muffins, which you really need to try, if you haven't.

The recipe calls for 3/4 cup rice, but I think you could use 1 cup or even 1 1/4 cup, and it would still be fine.  Also, make sure you cover it with foil so it cooks in the right amount of time.  You'll need to stir the rice before serving it, so don't be surprised when you see it looking still liquidy on top of the baking dish.

Thanks again to Plain Chicken for her recipe!

Fiesta Rice

3/4 cup white rice, uncooked
1 cup water
1/3 cup milk
1 can fiesta nacho cheese condensed soup

Preheat oven to 375.  Combine ingredients and pour into a 9"x9" baking dish.  Cover with foil, and cook for 30-35 minutes or until rice is done.  Stir rice before serving.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Summer Veggie Dip

Yum!  This recipe is one my sister gave me, and I'm so glad she passed it along.  It's really easy because it only involves minimal chopping and opening cans.  It's pleasing to look at too because of how colorful it is; it should be more colorful because it called for a red bell pepper, but I'm cheap and used a green one. (Why does there have to be a $2 difference for the colors?)  If you're cheap too, you could throw in some diced tomatoes for color--either fresh or canned.  It's similar to this Southwest Veggie Dip, which is our go-to dip, but this one has feta cheese, which is even more delicious.

Summer Veggie Dip

1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can white corn, drained
1/2 medium red onion, diced
1 medium red or green bell pepper, chopped
Juice of 2 limes
2 avocados, chopped
6 oz feta cheese, crumbled

Combine all ingredients except feta, and let sit in the refrigerator over night.  Add feta just before serving.  Serve with tortilla chips or as a side salad.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Taco Chicken

I LOVED this recipe, and I can't wait to make it again.  It's better if you remember to marinate it early and stick it in the refrigerator that morning or the night before, but I waited until I got home from work to start marinating it, and it was still delicious that night.  I was especially happy that I already had everything at the house and didn't have to buy anything fancy for it. 

I grilled the chicken on my grill pan, but you could do it on your real grill, or just pan sear it for a couple of minutes per side, and then finish it off in the oven for 10 minutes at 400. 

I think the hit of barbecue sauce at the end is what really makes it.  You should try this; you'll really like it.  Thanks again, Plain Chicken!

Taco Chicken

2 Tbsp taco seasoning (from 1oz envelope)
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp cumin
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup salsa
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 1/4 pounds)
1/4 cup barbecue sauce

Combine the first five ingredients in a large zip-top bag, add chicken breasts, and marinate the chicken breasts in salsa mixture for several hours in the refrigerator. 

When ready to cook, heat grill pan over medium-high heat and grill for 10-15 minutes or until done.  Baste chicken with barbecue sauce mixture once on each side before removing from grill (during the last few minutes of grilling). 

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Southwestern Pasta Bake

This is a recipe from Rachael Ray's old cookbook, 365: No Repeats.  We both liked it and went back for seconds, and I know it would have been better if I'd actually had all the ingredients (no cilantro or parsley worth buying in the grocery store, so none went into the food; I also didn't have coriander, which it called for originally).   It was a spicier form of mac-and-cheese with chicken with some onion and jalapeno. 

The recipe really did go quickly, according to her 30 minute promise, but I'm in no hurry, and I don't want to use every pan in my kitchen to make it all in 30 minutes, so I used the pasta pot to make the cheese sauce while the pasta was hanging out in the colander.  (If you do it in half an hour, you have so many dirty dishes!  Everything cooks at the same time.  Make it easy on yourself; spread it out.)

I think she stuck it under the broiler at the end for the 30 minute promise, but if you wanted everything to firm up and get some color, you could put it in the oven at 350 for 15 or so minutes; we sprinkled breadcrumbs on top and put it under the broiler, and it was really good.

Southwestern Pasta Bake

1 lb pasta (I used farfalle; she suggested penne rigate)
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1.25 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 Tbsp cumin
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
2 cups sharp Cheddar cheese
2 cups milk
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped

Preheat the broiler and position the rack on the 2nd shelf.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Salt the boiling water and cook the pasta.

While the water is coming to a boil, preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat with the vegetable oil.  Season the chicken with cumin, chili powder, and salt and pepper to taste.  Add the seasoned chicken to the hot skillet, and cook until lightly brown, about 4-5 minutes.  Add the onions, garlic, and jalapeno, and continue to cook for 5 minutes.  While the chicken is cooking with the onions, make the Cheddar sauce.

In a medium sauce pot (or the pot you cooked the pasta in), melt the butter, and add the flour to it.  Cook for 1-2 minutes over medium heat, and then whisk in the milk.  When the milk comes to a bubble, stir in the cheese, cilantro, and parsley. 
Combine the pasta, chicken mixture, and cheese mixture in one large pot, and stir to combine.  Transfer to a baking dish, and place under the broiler for 2-3 minutes to lightly brown.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Italian Chicken Wrap

We're trying to get creative with the wraps, and it's easy to see how you can keep tweaking these recipes and making them different and better.  Last week, we made these wraps and really liked them.  Next time, I'll add more sun-dried tomatoes.  More wrap recipes will certainly be coming.

Side note:  Happy Mothers' Day to all the moms out there, including my sweet mom and my sweet sister!  (And Happy Birthday to I Hope You're Hungry; it's been a year since our first post!)  I hope it's been a good day for everyone!

Italian Chicken Wrap

1 lb chicken strips
3/4 cup Italian dressing
1/4 cup basil pesto
Sun-dried tomatoes
Mozzarella cheese

Marinate chicken strips in Italian dressing for at least an hour.  When ready to eat, grill on grill pan until done.  Set aside.

Spread pesto on each tortilla, and lay chicken strips on top.  Sprinkle chicken with mozzarella and desired amount sun-dried tomatoes.  Fold tortilla over chicken mixture, and grill for 3-4 minutes on each side in grill pan.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Teak Dog Tuesday!

Teak stayed with Biz's parents on Saturday night.  When we got him back on Sunday, he was exhausted.