Sunday, October 28, 2007

spinach and artichoke dip

For my sister's birthday party, I decided to make some spinach and artichoke dip to go with the sandwiches my mom was putting together. I looked at a few different recipes, but decided on this one because it didn't involve a ton of ingredients and seemed pretty simple to put together. Rather than using a food processor, as the directions call for, I just chopped up the garlic and artichokes and mixed everything in a bowl. It seemed to go over really well - even with people who generally don't like spinach and artichokes!

Sorry, no pictures this time! My changes are included (***).

Spinach Artichoke Dip
Recipe courtesy Juan-Carlos Cruz/Food Network


1 box frozen chopped spinach, thawed
1 cup light sour cream
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella
8 ounces reduced fat cream cheese, softened
4 cloves garlic, crushed **I chopped it
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed
1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce, plus more as needed **I didn't have any, so I just left it out
1 (14-ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained
Carrot sticks, celery sticks or baked tortilla strips, for serving**I served with pita chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Squeeze all excess liquid from spinach, place in a food processor with sour cream, Parmesan, 1/2 cup of the mozzarella, the cream cheese, garlic, pepper and hot sauce. **I just mixed in a bowl, making sure the garlic was finely chopped.

Process until just blended but still slightly lumpy. Add artichokes and pulse to form a chunky mixture. **Again - I just made sure the artichokes were chopped small and mixed them in. Place in a 1-quart baking dish. Top with remaining mozzarella. Bake until bubbly, about 30 minutes. Serve with carrot sticks, celery sticks or baked tortilla strips.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Happy Birthday to Me!

This has nothing to do with cooking, but it does involve yummy food, so I thought it was fair game. My birthday was last Monday and my husband surprised me with a yummy cake from Cold Stone Creamery. The delicious treat was made of red velvet cake, along with strawberry ice cream, whipped frosting, and topped with frozen strawberries. YUM!

Stuffed Chicken Breast

Many of the ladies on the cooking board that I frequent are very enthusiastic about goat cheese and I thought it was time to try cooking with it! I had remembered seeing this recipe on somebody's blog (sorry I don't remember who! **Edit: It was MrsPresley's Blog!) but found the original on the Cooking Light website. I served the chicken with some sauteed green beans and a boxed wild rice mix.

I have to say that before eating this meal, my husband claimed to "hate" goat cheese and sun-dried tomatoes. After eating this dish, he is totally open to them and we actually put them both on pizza last night!

Chicken Breast Stuffed with Goat Cheese and Sun-dried Tomatoes

Recipe courtesy Cooking Light, March 2004


1 cup boiling water
cup sun-dried tomatoes, packed without oil
2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
1/2 cup chopped shallots, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, divided
1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled goat cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
teaspoon salt, divided
4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons water


Combine boiling water and tomatoes in a bowl; cover and let stand 30 minutes or until soft. Drain and finely chop.

Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add 1/3 cup shallots, sugar, and garlic; cook 4 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring frequently. Spoon into a bowl; stir in 1 1/2 teaspoons vinegar.

Combine chopped tomatoes, shallot mixture, cheese, basil, and 1/4 teaspoon salt, stirring well.

Cut a horizontal slit through thickest portion of each chicken breast half to form a pocket. Stuff about 2 tablespoons cheese mixture into each pocket. Sprinkle chicken evenly with 1/2 teaspoon salt and black pepper.

Heat 1 teaspoon oil in pan over medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook 6 minutes on each side or until done. Remove chicken from pan; cover and keep warm. Add broth, remaining shallots, 2 tablespoons vinegar, and thyme; bring to a boil. Combine cornstarch and water, stirring with a whisk. Add cornstarch mixture to pan; bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute or until sauce is slightly thick, stirring constantly. Serve sauce over chicken.


4 servings (serving size: 1 chicken breast half and 2 tablespoons sauce)

Nutritional Information

CALORIES 296(23% from fat); FAT 7.6g (sat 3g,mono 2.9g,poly 0.8g); PROTEIN 43.8g; CHOLESTEROL 105mg; CALCIUM 62mg; SODIUM 787mg; FIBER 0.9g; IRON 2.4mg;

Tortilla Soup

This soup was absolutely delicious! I actually didn't do the whole tortilla strips part, which I guess just makes it a southwest chicken soup. I also ended up adding about 2 cups of corn, and a can of black beans to make it a little more substantial. I've included the original recipe here and noted the changes I made (**).

Emeril's Quick Tortilla Soup
Recipe courtesy Emeril Lagasse and

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onions
2 teaspoons chopped garlic
1 poblano pepper, seeded and chopped, or 1 pasilla or green bell pepper
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon tomato paste
6 cups chicken stock or canned, low-sodium chicken broth
1 pound cooked chicken, shredded
**2 cups frozen corn (thawed)
**1 can black beans
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
6 stale corn tortillas, cut into 1/4-inch-thick strips
2 cups vegetable oil, for frying
1 teaspoon Essence, recipe follows
1 avocado, peeled, seeded, and chopped, optional garnish
Chipotle Crema, optional garnish, recipe below **I just garnished with plain sour cream

In a Dutch oven or large heavy pot, heat the oil on medium-high heat. Add the onions, garlic, peppers, salt, cumin, and coriander for 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 20 minutes. Add the chicken and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the cilantro and lime juice, and stir well. Remove from the heat and cover to keep warm.

Heat the oil in a heavy pot or electric fryer to 350 degrees F. Add the tortilla strips in batches and fry until golden and crisp, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Season with the Essence. **I skipped this and the soup was still great

Ladle the soup into 4 or 6 serving bowls. Garnish each serving with the fried tortilla strips, avocado and Chipotle Crema, as desired. **I left off the avocado, but sprinkled some cheddar cheese on top

Apple Walnut Cake

I've been wanting to update for a while, but have been soooooo busy with work and graduate courses. Also, our camera broke in September and it took us a few weeks to replace it. The recipes are not nearly as much fun without the pictures!

My mother-in-law has been making this cake for a while, and this was my first attempt. You'll notice as this blog continues that I very rarely bake. I'm just not a huge fan of making exact measurements, but this looked so easy and tasted so good that I thought I'd put all that aside and try it out. It came out great! I'll probably be making it again to take to my Mom's for Thanksgiving.

Apple Walnut Cake
Recipe Courtesy of my Mother-in-law

1 1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
3 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups apples, unpeeled, chopped
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Cream oil and sugar together. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well. Sift dry ingredients and spices together. Add to sugar mixture. Add vanilla, apples and nuts to
batter and fold all together. Bake in a well greased Bundt pan for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Cool for 20 minutes before removing from the pan.

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