Monthly Archives: February 2013

Southwest stuffed peppers

February 24, 2013

Have you noticed lately that I’m on a stuffed kick?? Stuffed potatoes, stuffed peppers, stuffed, stuffed STUFFED!

I don’t know- there’s just something a little rustic and warming to have something stuffed.

Yesterday was no different. After a day out exploring all that Falls Church had to offer ( ok, maybe not ALL it had to offer- we only went 1 place. But, truth be told, they had amazing beer and gourmet pizza, and I think that’s about all a town needs to offer.) we came home and made Southwest Stuffed Peppers. Easy and Satisfying- if you have 20 minutes, you can make these sweet babies!

This serves 2- you’ll need:

2 orange peppers
5 ounces cooked, diced chicken- rotisserie chicken works great here too
1/2 cup black beans
1/4 cup corn
2 plum tomatoes, diced
1/4 red onion, diced
2 tbsp tomato paste

1/4 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt

1/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

In a small bowl, combine the chili powder, cumin, cinnamon, paprika, brown sugar, and salt.

Cut the tops off of your peppers, then scoop out the seeds and stem.  It should look like a little bowl:

Drain and rinse the black beans and add 1/2 cup to a bowl. Add 1/4 cup corn, fresh or thawed frozen, and the diced chicken. While you’re at it, go ahead and throw in 1/4 of a red onion, diced up… And your diced plum tomatoes. Give everything a gentle toss and add the spice mix. Toss it once more and then stir in the 2 tbsp tomato paste- this will bind everything together.

(Editor’s note: I decided this AFTER making ours, so you can’t see it in the picture.  Without the tomato paste, it’s still delicious- but Kevin and I felt it would pull it all together a bit more.)

Fill each pepper with the mixture- I had a little left over, as my peppers weren’t huge this time. Oh well!

Top each with shredded Monterey Jack and pop into a 425 degree oven for 12 to 15 minutes. Then, to get the cheese nice and bubbly, transfer them to the broiler for an additional 2 to 3 minutes.

When you take them out, top with a dallop of sour cream, an enjoy!

(Editor’s note- totally forgot the sour cream.)

Additionally, if you aren’t a super fan of the tomato paste, you can also bind it together with a tiny bit of softened cream cheese.

Hope you’ll try this tasty dinner!
Until next time… Happy eating!
J

Cheese Steak Stuffed Peppers

February 19, 2013

Gosh, I love a good cheese steak from Philly. I am 100% a Pat’s girl… Whiz wit.

And if there’s 1 thing I’ve learned, it’s that no one in NoVA knows how to make a darn cheese steak. Not even myself, though, I can come pretty close when I pony up and ACTUALLY buy cheese whiz. (What is that stuff, anyway??)

But let’s be honest kids…unless its opening day for my lovely Phillies, I probably venture to be a little healthier. So when I crave that cheesesteak feeling, I turn to this guy- a cheesesteak stuffed pepper. All of the glory- none of the bread demons!

And, as usual… Super simple. Let’s get cookin!

You’ll need:
2 to 2 1/2 pounds loin steak
(Truth be told, I usually grab the pack of pre chopped raw fajita steak…why not save a step, aye?)

2 onions- sliced thin. I like 1 Spanish and 1 red, but that’s me.

8 slices of provolone or shredded mozzarella, your choice

4 green peppers, tops cut off, and inside “seed area” removed (basically so it’s a hollow bowl)

Heat a skillet over medium high, add a few tbsp of butter, your onions, and some salt. Sauté for about 10 to 15 minutes or until soft and slightly caramelized. You can also add sliced mushrooms, but we don’t care for those, so we skip it. Remove from pan and add your chopped steak. Give it a minute or two to brown up a bit, but not fully cooked. Combine with onions.

Ok, now it gets fun.
Either sprinkle the inside of your pepper with shredded mozzarella or push a slice of provolone down in there. Then, fill each pepper with your meat and onion mixture. Top with more cheese. Obviously!

Pop those little guys into a 425 degree oven for 15 minutes then bump the heat up to the BROILER setting and let them hang out for another 2 to 3 minutes. Trust me- do it, the cheese gets so bubbly and amazing.

And then, dig in with steak knives and forks!

Enjoy- later this week, I’ll show you a similar recipe with a southwest twist!

Until next time…happy eating!
J

Snickers Cake

February 10, 2013

WOW.

It’s been a crazy busy week over here, and during busy weeks, I turn to old favorites.  Sadly, that means nothing too new or creative came out of my kitchen this week.  BUT, to tide you over while you wait for this week’s goodness  (I’m on a STUFFED kick… stuffed peppers, tons of different ways!)  I’ve prepared the Snickers Cake recipe for you.

I’d like to say that I am someone that ALWAYS bakes from scratch, and that I have oodles of time to just sit around and mix up cakes with my nonexistent Mixer.  Not so, readers, not so. 

Instead, I tend to be a “semi homemade” baker from time to time.  Most of us are busy people and want simple solutions.  My simple solution- Start with boxed cake mix and doctor it up a bit.

Pinterest has been great for this lately!  I found this post on there…

http://tierasta.blogspot.com/2010/07/cupcake-chronicles-25-ways-to-doctor.html

and decided, it’s only cake… why not just doctor up a mix??

And so, I started with a chocolate cake mix.  Instead of the 1/2 cup of vegetable oil called for on the box, I added 1/2 cup of melted  butter.  It generally creates a moist, rich flavor.  Who doesn’t love that??  Aside from that, I followed the directions on the box, and then added 1 tbsp instant coffee.  The coffee really pairs well with the chocolate and intensifies the chocolate flavor of it all.
 ( I got THAT tip from Ina Garten!)

Anyway, mix that all up and follow the directions on the box.  I went with 2- 8 inch round cake pans.  Most round cake pans come in 9 inches these days, but my 8 inchers were my mother’s and when I bake, I like to use them and think of her.  Once I pour the batter into the 2 pans, I give them gentle tosses on the counter to work out the air bubbles.  No one likes a holey cake!

Into the oven they went, and I was onward wards creating that “nougat” type filling.  I pulled this one out of thin air, and hoped for the best with it- It worked pretty well, and was crazy easy.  My “nougat” solution for this Snickers cake?  PB and Fluff.  Yep. That’s it.  I used a ratio of 2 parts fluff to 1 part creamy peanut butter, mixed it up, and popped it in the fridge.  It created that texture that was ALMOST nougat-like without the hassle of making actual nougat which requires a candy thermometer and absolute precision.  Forget that- the last time I attempted anything with a candy thermometer, I had peppermint marshmallow mush all over my cutting board- which I threw away.  Talk about a Pinterest Fail- should have taken a picture, as I totally “Nailed It!”  Not.   

ANYWAY, the Snickers cake.  Once that bad boy comes out of the oven and cools for a bit, go ahead and even out one of your cakes to make the bottom half- basically, cut off the rounded top part of it, crumble it up and make an icecream parfait treat.  Super tasty.  Also- take your nougat filling out of the fridge, so that it has a few minutes to warm up.  It’ll spread easier for you.  (A step that I MAY have forgotten!) Once your cake is even, spread a big, thick layer of the nougat filling onto your bottom cake.  Seriously- big and thick.  This was our favorite part, and I wish I had put more of it into the cake.  Then plop the top cake onto it all and give it a little “squish” so that everything stays. 

Next, I topped it with a caramel butter cream icing.  In retrospect, I wish I had made it a bit thicker, but MAN was it tasty.  This too, took short cuts.  Judge me if you will, but… I’d like to take the time eating the cake, and not so much making it.  I just don’t usually make things that take a lot of time.  SO, for this, I took 2 jars/ tubs of premade butter cream frosting- Thanks, Duncan Hines, and added a stick of softened butter, along with half a jar of Hershey’s Caramel Ice Cream Topping.  Once it was mixed up, I popped it in the fridge to thicken up a bit. 

While it was thickening, I chopped up quite a few fun sized snickers bars.  I’d say half a bag. 
I finally iced up the cake and topped it with the chopped Snickers.  The end result- a beautiful (if not a little gravity driven) cake for my husband’s birthday. 

It was even more beautiful the next day because some of the caramel oozed out of the snickers bars and made little trails down the cake.

I will definitely make this again, but will try to modify the icing!

Until next time…Happy Eating!
J

Crab Stuffed Avocados (in less than 20 minutes)

February 3, 2013

It’s no secret that I’ve been on an avocado kick lately.  What’s not to love- a super food high in good fat, and full of potassium, fiber, and vitamin E.  To say it packs a punch is an understatement. 

It’s also no secret- at least to friends and family- that I constantly have at least one notebook at fingertip length.  I am constantly in need of writing something down.  So, a few weeks back, when this vision of Crab Stuffed Avocados came into my head, I was ready with pen and paper in hand to write down all of the flavors I thought would mesh well to create this dish.

The result?  An absolute dream of buttery avocado, flaky crab, and crunchy Parmesan bread coating… all in under 20 minutes from prep to plate.

Ingredients to serve 2:

3 avocados, halved and pitted
12 oz lump crab meat (drained of excess water, if needed)
1/4 cup whipped cream cheese spread with chives
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup shredded parmesan, romano, and asiago cheese blend
1 tsp Old Bay seasoning

Split your avocados with a knife and wack the pit with the blade- twist to remove the pit.  If desired, spoon out a tiny bit more of the avocado, but not too much- it’s what really makes this so yummy!

In a bowl, combine your crab meat, cream cheese spread, egg, cheese, and Old Bay.   Spoon 1 to 2 TBSP of the crab mix into each avocado.

In another small bowl combine 1/2 cup bread crumbs, 1/2 tsp Old Bay seasoning, and 1/4 cup of the cheese blend.

Top each avocado with a spoonful of the breadcrumb mixture, and spray with butter flavored nonstick cooking spray.

Pop into a 425 degree oven for 13 -15 minutes, depending on your oven.  Mine were in for 14 minutes.

Tonight, truth be told, we were so excited that we ate these without anything else!  In the future though, I’ll probably pair them with a Tomato Parmesan Bisque, or maybe as simple as a roasted tomato salad. 

One thing is for certain- we’ll be having them again.

Just a short post today.  More tomorrow with Healthier Superbowl Snacks!

Until then,
J