Sunday, January 31, 2010

Poached Salmon with Creamy Piccata Sauce

It is so cold in Wisconsin! I just keep telling myself only a few more months, only a few more months till..... MEXICO! We leave in early May for a much needed vacation that can't come soon enough! I found this recipe on's website and couldn't wait to try it. I made it for game night with my parents and everyone loved it. Not only does it taste great, but it is easy and healthy. Enjoy!
1 pound center-cut salmon fillet, skinned (see Tip) and cut into 4 portions
1 cup dry white wine, divided
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large shallot, minced
2 tablespoons lemon juice
4 teaspoons capers, rinsed
1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill


Place salmon in a large skillet. Add 1/2 cup wine and enough water to just cover the salmon. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to a simmer, turn the salmon over, cover and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallot and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the remaining 1/2 cup wine; boil until slightly reduced, about 1 minute. Stir in lemon juice and capers; cook 1 minute more. Remove from the heat; stir in sour cream and salt. To serve, top the salmon with the sauce and garnish with dill.

Tip: How to skin a salmon fillet: Place skin-side down. Starting at the tail end, slip a long knife between the fish flesh and the skin, holding down firmly with your other hand. Gently push the blade along at a 30° angle, separating the fillet from the skin without cutting through either. If you are not comfortable doing this ask the staff at the fish counter when you purchase the salmon.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes

Tuesday was my good friend Emily's birthday. We have been friends since college when we lived together with 7, yes 7, other girls in a house. Oh memories..... Anyways, tonight was our Wednesday night volleyball game and what more perfect time to make a sweet treat for the birthday girl?! I knew I wanted to make these cupcakes, but needed the perfect recipe. I found this recipe and knew it would be wonderful. It did not disappoint! I love the addition of fresh strawberries to the buttercream frosting. Yum. Enjoy!
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup oil
1 cup full fat coconut milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon lemon juice

2 ounces of fresh strawberries
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large egg whites
6 ounces unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons lemon juice (approximately 1 large lemon)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350F.
In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add sugar and brown sugar and mix. Whisk together oil, coconut milk, lemon zest, lemon juice, and vanilla. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients. Mix until relatively smooth. Fill cupcake liners with a scant 1/4 cup of batter (should be just under 2/3 of the way full). Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden, and toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer to cooling rack and allow to cool completely.
To make frosting, first wash and hull strawberries and toss them into a food processor. Puree strawberries and set aside.
Add sugar and egg whites into a mixer bowl or another large heatproof bowl, fit the bowl over a plan of simmering water and whisk constantly, keeping the mixture over the heat, until it feels hot to the touch, about 3 minutes. The sugar should be dissolved, and the mixture will look like shiny marshmallow cream. Remove the bowl from the heat.
Using the whisk attachment on a stand mixer or with a hand mixer, beat the meringue on medium speed until it is cool, about 5 minutes.
Switch to the paddle attachment if you have one, and add the butter a tablespoon at a time, beating until smooth. Once all the butter is in, beat the buttercream on medium-high speed until it is thick and very smooth, 6-10 minutes. Don’t freak out if your buttercream curdles or separates, keep beating and it will come together again.
Once the buttercream is thick and smooth, gradually beat in the lemon juice on medium speed, waiting until each addition is absorbed before adding more, and then the vanilla. By this point you should have a shiny smooth, velvety, pristine white buttercream. You can stop at this point if you want to stick with lemon buttercream. For strawberry buttercream, gradually add in strawberry puree, beating on medium speed until well incorporated.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Cheeseburger Macaroni

This was kind of a throw together lunch. I never use to eat velveeta before I met Ron. He loves the stuff and I was never a big fan. However, I try to use it ever so often for him. This dish reminded me of homemade Hamburger Helper. I was really good and very very easy to make. Enjoy! Ingredients
1 1/4 lb extra lean ground beef
1/2 onion, diced
2 1/2 cups water
1 can (14 1/2 oz) diced tomatoes
4 oz Velveeta Light, cubed
5 oz uncooked macaroni
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp seasoning salt

In large saucepan, cook meat and onions until brown. Add water, tomatoes and seasonings. Bring to a boil. Add macaroni and stir. Reduce heat and cook 15 mins or until liquid has been absorbed. Stir often. Add Velveeta and mix well.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Tuscan Chicken Simmer

I have been on a bit of a pesto kick lately. I found this recipe on the Kraft website and wanted to give it a try. I was really yummy. I liked the combination of pesto and tomato. Yum. It is super easy and quick- which is great for a weekend. I served the chicken with a little pasta, but you could sub in veggie, rice, or a nice salad. I also scaled down the amount of cheese topping (the original called for one cup) Enjoy!


4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (1 lb.)
4 oz. (1/2 of 8-oz. pkg.) Cream Cheese, cubed
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup pesto
2 cups grape or cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Heat large nonstick skillet sprayed with cooking spray on medium-high heat. Add chicken; cover. Cook 5 to 7 min. on each side or until done (165ºF). Remove chicken from skillet; cover to keep warm.

Add cream cheese, water, pesto and tomatoes to skillet. Cook, uncovered, on medium heat 2 min. or until heated through, stirring occasionally.

Return chicken to skillet. Cook and stir 1 min. or until chicken is coated and heated through. Sprinkle with shredded cheese.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Lighter General Tso's Chicken

For the life of me I don't remember where i found this recipe. I usually am very good about writing that down, but not this time! I am pretty sure this is a WeightWatchers recipe, but-again- not positive. I love Chinese carry out. Yum. However, it can be really unhealthy. This recipe takes an old favorite, and lightens it up so you don't feel so guilty after eating it. I actually like the sauce more than I do at the restaurants. Most of the time the sauce is too sweet and omits the heat! This recipe give the heat and sweet, but not all the fat and calories. Enjoy!

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces
1 lb snow peas, trimmed
1/4 flour
4 cloves garlic, sliced
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
3 Tbl brown sugar
2 Tbl soy sauce
1 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (adjust to your preferred spice level)
2 egg whites
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 Tbl olive oil
4 cups hot cooked brown rice

In a large bowl, stir together 1 tablespoon flour and 1/2 cup cold water until smooth. Add snow peas, garlic, ginger, sugar, soy sauce, and red-pepper flakes. Toss to combine and set aside.

In another bowl, whisk together egg whites, remaining 3 tablespoons cornstarch, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Add chicken, and toss to coat.

In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high. Lift half the chicken from egg-white mixture (shaking off excess), and add to skillet. Cook, turning occasionally, until golden, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate; repeat with remaining oil and chicken, and set aside (reserve skillet).

Add snow-pea mixture to skillet. Cover and cook until snow peas are tender and sauce has thickened, 3 to 5 minutes. Return chicken to skillet (with any juices); toss to coat. Serve over rice.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Julia Child's Boeuf Bourguignon

For Christmas my Mom and Dad bought me "Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol. 1 & 2" by Julia Child, Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle. Many consider this to be one of Julia's signature dishes. I have been wanting to make this recipe because I think that it is a staple of different french cooking techniques and it is delicious. The recipe is very time consuming and I was exhausted after everything was finished, but it was so worth every second in the kitchen. Thankfully, I had my dad and sister Rachel on hand to do my onion peeling- now that's love. Enjoy!

1 9- to 10-inch fireproof casserole, 3 inches deep
1 slotted spoon
Tons and tons of pans :)

1 6-ounce chunk of bacon (I used thick cut bacon- I think it was pretty true to taste)
1 tablespoon olive oil or cooking oil
3 pounds lean stewing beef cut into 2-inch cubes
1 sliced carrot
1 sliced onion
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons flour
3 cups of a full-bodied young red wine (I used a 2008 Chianti)
2-3 cups brown beef stock or canned beef bouillon
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cloves mashed garlic
1/2 teaspoon thyme (*I used fresh and tied the thyme, bay leaf, and parsley together with kitchen twine)
a crumbled bay leaf *
the blanched bacon rind (I did not use this)
18-24 small white onions (brown-braised in stock) (we used extra- it was probably around 35)
1 pound quartered fresh mushrooms sauteed in butter
parsley sprigs*

Remove rind and cut bacon into lardons (sticks, 1/4-inch thick and 1 1/2-inches long). Simmer rind and bacon for 10 minutes in 1 1/2 quarts of water. Drain and dry (I did not do this part because I used thick cut).
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Saute the bacon in the oil over moderate heat for 2 to 3 minutes to brown lightly. Remove to a side dish with a slotted spoon. Set casserole aside. Reheat until fat is almost smoking before you saute the beef.
Dry the beef in paper towels; it will not brown if it is damp. Saute it, a few pieces at a time, in the hot oil and bacon fat until nicely browned on all sides. Add it to the bacon.
In the same fat, brown the sliced vegetables. Pour out the sauteing fat.
Return the beef and bacon to the casserole and toss with the salt and pepper. Then sprinkle on the flour and toss again to coat the beef lightly with the flour. Set casserole uncovered in middle position of preheated oven for 4 minutes. Toss the meat and return to oven for 4 minutes more. (This browns the flour and covers the meat with a light crust.) Remove casserole and turn oven down to 325 degrees.
Stir in the wine and enough stock or bouillon so that the meat is barely covered. Add the tomato paste, garlic, herbs and bacon rind. Bring to simmer on top of the stove. Then cover the casserole and set in lower third of preheated oven. Regulate heat so liquid simmers very slowly for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily.
While the beef is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms. Set them aside until needed.
When the meat is tender, pour the contents of the casserole into a sieve set over a saucepan. Wash out the casserole and return the beef and bacon to it. Distribute the cooked onions and mushrooms over the meat.
Skim fat off the sauce. Simmer sauce for a minute or two, skimming off additional fat as it rises. You should have about 2 1/2 cups of sauce thick enough to coat a spoon lightly. If too thin, boil it down rapidly. If too thick, mix in a few tablespoons of stock or canned bouillon. Taste carefully for seasoning. Pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables.
(*) Recipe may be completed in advance to this point.
Cover the casserole and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce several times. Serve in its casserole, or arrange the stew on a platter surrounded with potatoes, noodles or rice, and decorated with parsley.
When cold, cover and refrigerate. About 15 to 20 minutes before serving, bring to the simmer, cover and simmer very slowly for 10 minutes, occasionally basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Buffalo Chicken Dip

Today was the big Packer playoff game. Unfortunately, the Packers lost in overtime in a nail biting finish. Hopefully they will make it further next year. On another note, I made this yummy dip for the sporting festivities. I really like buffalo chicken wraps, wings, pasta (coming soon!), ect. I have seen a couple different variations of this dip floating around various blogs. This is my version of this delicious dip (the picture does not do it justice). Enjoy!
6 oz chicken breast, chopped
8 oz reduced fat cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup reduced fat sour cream
3 Tbl hot sauce (I use Cholula)
2 Tbl lt. blue cheese dressing
1 cup reduced fat mozzarella cheese, divided
3 Tbl blue cheese crumbles
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a small baking dish or pie dish with PAM. In a small bowl, mix cream cheese, chicken, sour cream, hot sauce, dressing, and 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese. Spread chicken mixture evenly into baking dish. Top with mozzarella and blue cheese crumbles. Bake for 30 min or until bubbly.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Creamy Pesto Pasta with Chicken Sausage and White Beans

I really like Trader Joe's chicken sausage. They come in so many different flavors it is great for new recipes. I had a package of Sweet Basil & Pesto in the freezer and knew I couldn't wait for a grill to try those suckers out. This recipe seemed to come together as I cooked. I have seen a few different recipes mix beans with pasta and I thought I would give that a shot as well. We really like how this turned out! Now what to do with the mango chicken sausage waiting in the freezer.... hmm.... Enjoy!
4 Sweet Basil & Pesto Chicken Sausage Links (you can use whatever you have on hand), sliced
4 cups cooked pasta
1/4 cup pesto
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 medium onion, diced
1/3 cup pinenuts
1/2 cup reduced fat sour cream
1/4 cup reduced fat mayo
1 can great norther beans, drained and rinsed
2 Tbl water
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 roma tomato, chopped
Parmesan for garnish
Saute sausage, garlic, onion, and pinenuts in a large skillet. Cook pasta while sausage is cooking. In a small bowl, mix pesto, sour cream, mayo, water, and pepper. Add beans to skillet with sausage. Allow mixture to warm on low. Once it is warmed add pesto mixture. Stir well. Continue to warm on stove and add pasta. Stir well. Make sure pasta is warmed through. Plate and garnish with tomatoes, pinenuts, and parmesan.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Breakfast Bake

This is one of my favorite things to make. One, it's easy. Two, it feeds an army. Three, it is soooo yummy. This year we hosted stop number one of the Lecker Family round robin. I figured this would be a perfect late morning meal. This recipe makes 12 large servings and is easy to scale back for a smaller crowd. This picture does not have onions or green peppers in it, but feel free to add them for a little more color and flavor.
20 large/extra large eggs (or 2 dozen medium)
1 bag Ore-Ida frozen hashbrowns
1 lb center cut bacon
12 oz breakfast sausage
4 cups cheddar cheese
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup green pepper, diced
1/2 cup onion, finely diced
salt and pepper to taste


Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees. Cook bacon and sausage and chop into small pieces. In a small bowl mix bacon, sausage and veggies together. In a medium bowl whisk eggs, milk, and salt/pepper. Grease a 9X13 baking dish. Evenly layer hashbrowns into baking dish. Sprinkle 2 cups of cheese over hashbrowns. Add meat and veggie mixture. Evenly pour eggs over hashbrowns/meat. Top with cheese. Bake for about 60 minutes or until the middle is completely cooked*.
*You may need to alter baking time depending on how fast the middle of the casserole takes to completely set.