Meg’s Cooking Corner

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Creamy White Chili

When cold weather comes around I get excited to make this white chili again. A family favorite from Mel's Kitchen Cafe, this chili is creamy, flavorful and always get rave reviews! Serve with cornbread and salad for the perfect meal on a cozy winter night.

Creamy White Chili
*Serves 6

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 medium onion, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder or 2 cloves fresh garlic, finely minced
1 tablespoon oil
2 cans (15 1/2 ounces each) Great Northern Beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) chicken broth
2 cans (4 ounces each) chopped green chilies (if you like less kick, add just one can)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup whipping cream
Fresh cilantro, for garnish (optional)

In a large saucepan, saute chicken, onion and garlic powder (or fresh garlic, if using) in oil until chicken is no longer pink. Add beans, broth, chilies and seasonings. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Remove from the heat; stir in sour cream and cream. Garnish with fresh cilantro, if desired. Serve immediately. Also good served with tortilla chips.

Slow Cooker Option: In a medium round slow cooker, place 1 pound chicken breasts (fresh or frozen) without cubing them. Add the chopped onion, garlic powder, beans, green chiles and all of the spices. Do not add the sour cream or whipping cream yet! Reduce the chicken broth to 12 ounces (about 1 1/2 cups) and pour in over the other ingredients. Stir the mixture around a bit to incorporate the dry spices. Cook on low for 5-7 hours (if using frozen chicken you’ll cook on the longer end of that spectrum, fresh chicken will cook in less time). Remove the chicken to a cutting board and shred in bite-size pieces. Stir back into the slow cooker. In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk together the sour cream and whipping cream until smooth. Whisk the cream mixture into the crockpot with the other ingredients. Let the soup cook until heated through. Serve.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Chocolate Peppermint Ice Cream Cake

I love the flavor combo of warm chocolate fudge and cool peppermint ice cream at Christmastime. I made this ice cream cake I saw on dinnersonme for my son's December birthday.  A great tip for making ice cream cakes is softening the ice cream, spreading it into a cake pan, and then re-freezing so it will fit perfectly between the cake layers. Enjoy the holiday season!

Chocolate Peppermint Ice Cream Cake
*instead of putting the fudge below and above the ice cream layer, I torted my two cake layers to make four layers, and layered my cake as follows: cake, hot fudge, cake, ice cream, cake, hot fudge, cake, cool whip

1 box chocolate cake mix
1 jar hot fudge sauce
3 1/2 cups Dreyers Peppermint Ice Cream -softened
4 cups Cool Whip
1/8 tsp peppermint extract
candy canes, crushed

Prepare chocolate cake according to directions on box. Use 8-inch round pans. Bake & cool. When cakes are cool, slice off top to flatten cake a bit. Make sure you cut it fairly level.  Wrap each cake in plastic wrap and freeze for at least 2 hours.

While cakes are freezing, line an 8-inch cake pan with plastic wrap. Spread softened ice cream into pan, making sure it's fairly level. Cover and freeze until firm (2-4 hours).
In a bowl, combine Cool Whip with peppermint extract. Stir just until combined. Place in fridge.

Remove frozen cakes from freezer, but leave ice cream layer in freezer until it's needed. Microwave hot fudge just until it's spreadable. If it's too hot it will melt ice cream.  Unwrap one cake layer and place (bottom side up) on plate. Cover with a layer of hot fudge - almost to the edge of the cake. Remove ice cream layer from freezer and unwrap. Place on top of cake and fudge. Drizzle a layer of hot fudge on top of ice cream until it is mostly covered.  Top with final cake layer, bottom side up. Spread peppermint Cool Whip over top and sides of cake, covering as best you can. Sprinkle top with crushed candy cane.

Freeze until ready to serve.  Then remove cake from freezer and let it sit for about 5-10 minutes. Run your knife under hot water for 30 seconds to heat it up. Shake off excess water and slice cake! 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Candy Corn Cupcakes

With Halloween around the corner, life is busy with finding those perfect costumes, making treats for halloween parties and building excitment for the big night. I have become hooked on Pinterest, and it's been fun to find lots of great Halloween ideas there. I wanted to make some cute but simple cupcakes and loved this idea I saw here to make layers of color like candy corn. Dress up my favorite white wedding cupcake recipe with food gel, halloween liners, sprinkles and of course candy corn, and it made some cute little cupcakes!

Candy Corn Cupcakes

1 Duncan Hines white cake mix
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/3 cups water
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream
4 large egg whites
-Add a tsp of almond extract (in addition to the vanilla) if you wish to have a different flavor.
Yellow and orange Wilton food gel (about a 1/2 tsp. of each)

Preheat oven to 325F. Place cupcake liners in cupcake pans (you'll need up to 36). In a large bowl, whisk together cake mix, flour, sugar and salt. Add remaining ingredients except for food coloring and beat with hand mixer for 2 minutes, or until well blended.

Divide batter equally into two bowls. Mix about 1/2 heaping tsp. of yellow coloring into one bowl of batter and 1/2 heaping tsp. of orange coloring into the other bowl. Stir until colors are to your liking.
Divide the yellow batter evenly among the muffin tins. I used a standard cookie scoop, which measures about 1 Tbsp. Holding the edges of each pan firmly, bang the pan a few times on the counter to level out the batter. Repeat the process with the orange batter. Fill cupcake liner about 3/4 full.  Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool for about 5 minutes in the pan and then allow to cool completely on a cooling rack. When ready, swirl the frosting onto the cupcakes using an Wilton 1M tip and garnish with sprinkles and a candy corn. Here's what the cupcake colors look like:

Frost with your favorite white frosting or use this recipe:

Wedding Cupcake Buttercream3 cups powdered sugar
1 cup butter, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 to 2 Tbsp whipping cream

In a large bowl, with a hand mixer, cream together sugar and butter on low speed. Mix until well blended. Increase speed to medium and beat for another three minutes. Add vanilla and cream and continue to beat on medium speed for 1 minute more, adding more cream if needed for desired spreading/piping consistency. Yield: Enough to frost 12 cupcakes    

*This recipe doubles or triples well

Friday, October 21, 2011

Stuffed Pizza Rolls

Now that my oldest son is a teenager, he wants to eat all the time. And to my dismay, he constantly asks for unhealthy things I don't buy like hot pockets and frozen pizzas rolls. So I was excited to find on the blog Our Best Bites a recipe for homemade stuffed pizza rolls. This recipe is very quick to make, easy to adapt, healthier than the storebought stuff and makes a teenage boy happy and full (for the moment).

Stuffed Pizza Rolls

1 roll refrigerated pizza dough (or make your own)
2 Tbsp grated parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp olive oil or melted butter
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried Italian seasoning
mozzarella cheese
marinara/pizza sauce for dipping
Pizza toppings of choice: pepperoni, sausage, vegetables, etc.

*For a different variation: try chicken, bacon, cheddar cheese and dip in ranch sauce

Preheat oven to 400. Unroll your pizza dough onto a lightly floured surface. Pat or roll the dough so it's about 12" x 8". Use a pizza cutter to slice the dough into 24 squares (6 x 4 rows).

Place cheese and desired toppings on each square. Carefully lift up the corners of each square and wrap the dough around the toppings. Pinch to make sure each ball is sealed shut and then place seam side down in  lightly sprayed pie pans (or similiar sized dishes). Brush the tops of the dough balls with olive oil or melted butter. Sprinkle on garlic and Italian seasoning and top with parmesan cheese. Cook them in the oven for about 15-20 minutes or until golden brown on top. Serve warm with warmed marinara sauce on the side for dipping.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Orange Chocolate Cake

My oldest son has all the makings of a foodie. Although he loves the typical teen fare of junk food, he will try everything and even loves foods such as octopus and shrimp with ice cream (don't ask!) I love it when his birthday comes around because he always has an unusual birthday cake request. This year he wanted an orange and chocolate cake. I wasn't too sure about the combo, but was pleased to find this cake by Ina Garten (the Barefoot Contessa). I knew she wouldn't let me down, and sure enough, it was wonderful: orange cake dotted with chocolate chips, an orange glaze to keep the cake moist, and a chocolate ganache to top it all off! Thanks for another great cake request, Jake!

Orange Chocolate Cake

*This cake would also be wonderful baked in mini bundt cake pans for a delicious fall treat for friends!

1/2 pound unsalted butter at room temp
2 cups sugar
4 extra-large eggs at room temp
1/4 cup grated orange zest (from 4 large oranges)
3 cups all-purpose flour plus 2 tablespoons
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
3/4 cup buttermilk at room temp
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 cups good semisweet chocolate chunks or chocolate chips

1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

8 oz semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tsp instant coffee granules (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 (175C). Grease and flour a 10-inch Bundt pan. Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment for about 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, then the orange zest.

Sift together 3 cups flour, the baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. In another bowl, combine the orange juice, buttermilk, and vanilla. Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately in thirds to the creamed butter, beginning and ending with the flour. Toss the chocolate chunks or chips with 2 tablespoons flour and add to the batter. Pour into the pan, smooth the top, and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until a toothpick comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the syrup. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, cook the sugar with the orange juice until the sugar dissolves. Remove the cake from the pan, set it on a rack over a tray, and spoon the orange syrup over the cake. Allow the cake to cool completely.

For the ganache, melt the chocolate, heavy cream, and coffee in the top of a double boiler over simmering water until smooth and warm, stirring occasionally. Drizzle over the top of the cake.

Tomato Basil Pizza

We love to make homemade pizzas around our house. I usually will make one kid-friendly (a.k.a. boring pepperoni) pizza for the kids, and one fun pizza for my husband and I. Our favorites are bbq chicken bacon, chicken pesto, or my new favorite creation: tomato basil pizza. I had a bunch of leftover fresh mozzarella cheese, tomatoes and basil leaves from making my favorite tomato caprese salad, and decided to use them in a pizza. The result was a pizza that is fresh, satisfying, simple to make and so good!

Fresh Tomato Basil Pizza

fresh mozzarella cheese, grate a little and cut the rest into slices
1-2 tomatoes, sliced thin
fresh basil leaves, cut into long strips
fresh grated parmesan cheese

pizza crust (try my favorite bread machine dough recipe or this one)

Pizza sauce: (makes enough sauce for 2 pizzas)
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 small can tomato paste
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp garlic salt

Preheat oven to 400. Make pizza dough as directed. Roll dough out onto pizza pan. Set aside. Combine all pizza sauce ingredients in food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Pour over crust. Sprinkle some grated mozzarella cheese over sauce. Arrange fresh mozzarella slices, tomato slices and fresh basil leaves around pizza (see picture). Sprinkle with more grated mozzarella cheese and grated parmesan cheese. Bake for 15-25 min until golden brown and bubbling.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Tomato Caprese Salad

It's finally summer here! I have to share my favorite salad that's so good I could eat it every day. The classic Caprese salad of slices of tomato, fresh mozzarella and basil leaves drizzled with balsamic vinegar is good, but this version gets all the fresh flavors in every bite. Perfect for lunch or served for dinner alongside your favorite bbq or Italian meal. This recipe is from Mel's Kitchen Cafe and is light, fresh and delicious. Enjoy!

Cherry Tomato Caprese Salad

2 pints cherry or grape tomatoes, quartered
1/2 tsp sugar
1Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
8 oz fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/2 inch cubes and patted dry
1 cup chopped fresh basil
salt and pepper

In a large bowl, toss the tomatoes, sugar and 1/4 tsp salt together. Let the mixture stand for 30 minutes so that the tomatoes give up some of their juices. Transfer the tomatoes and any accumulated liquid to a salad spinner and spin to remove the seeds and the liquid.

Pour the accumulated seeds and liquid into a fine-mesh strainer to remove the seeds, reserving the liquid. Return the tomatoes to the original bowl and pour the tomato liquid into a small saucepan (you should have between 1/3 and 1/2 cup of liquid). To the small saucepan, add the balsamic vinegar and garlic. Simmer over medium heat until the mixture is reduced to about 3 tablespoons. This will take about 5 minutes. Cool to room temperature and then whisk in the olive oil.

Add the mozzarella cheese, basil and cooled dressing to the bowl with the tomatoes and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Serve.