Friday, May 31, 2013

Spice It UP!!! Cilantro/Coriander

I will admit--I didn't much like cilantro when I was young.  Granted, my only experience with it was when I worked my high school job at a Mexican fast food restaurant, and I had to 'chop' it with scissors.  Cilantro tasted like soap/cleaner to me (kinda like how blue cheese tastes, and I'm talking to good stuff like Maytag--GROSS), and so I tended to stay away from it.  Plus, I don't believe that my mom ever cooked with it.  Turns out, I'm not the only one that doesn't really like cilantro--many people don't (read more here).  However, the Asian and Latin American cuisines cannot get enough of cilantro; Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines cannot get enough coriander!

{Cilantro growing on my balcony}

However, with culinary school and my love of food, I have tried cilantro in many different dishes, many different times, and now, I love it!  Don't get me wrong--if someone uses too much it still tastes like soap to me.  I do love how it gives everything a fresh and clean taste when used in moderation.  The hubby tolerates it, but it's not his favorite.  Anyway--on to cilantro's history and nutritional benefits!

Cilantro can be used in its entirety--seeds, stems and leaves.  The seeds (coriander) and stems/leaves (cilantro) do not taste similar and cannot be substituted.  For the purpose of this post, we will refer to both as cilantro.  Cilantro is commonly used in Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, Indian, South Asian, Mexican, Latin American, Chinese, African and Southeast Asian cuisine.  Cilantro is available year-round in grocery stores in the produce section.  Be careful to smell the leaves for that pungent odor!  Cilantro can be mistaken for parsley!  Source

Cilantro can be traced back to 5,000 BC making it one of the oldest herbs used for cooking and medicinal purposes.  Cilantro is said to help with toxic metal poisoning, but the plant has to be consumed in large quantities over a long period of time.  Cilantro is said to prevent cardiovascular disease, have anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, and anti-bacterial properties, and may improve sleep quality and may help diabetes.  Cilantro is also found to have several anti-oxidant properties.  Source and source

As with all fresh herbs, pick them vibrant and green, and store them in the fridge in a glass of water using as soon as possible.  The dried coriander seeds can be kept for up to on year in a cool place away from direct sunlight.

Here are some recipes with cilantro and/or coriander:

Black Bean and Spinach Enchiladas
Chana Masala*
Chicken Vindaloo*
Cilantro Lime Chicken
Curried Sweet Potato and Lentil Stew*
Feijoada (Brazilian Black Bean Stew)
Lentil and Chickpea Salad
Pumpkin and White Bean Stew*
Quinoa Black Bean Burrito Bowl
Rice Noodles with Peanut-Lime Sauce*
Sweet and Spicy Roasted Cauliflower Salad

The recipes with a * by them have a light amount of cilantro/coriander and are good starting recipes.

So how about you?  Do you like cilantro?  Do you use it on a regular basis?

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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Frozen Yogurt

Say that five times fast!  Anyway, one of my spring/summer list items is to perfect at least one frozen yogurt recipe.  I saw this recipe on Pinterest and was so easy (plus I had almost everything at home) that I went home and made it that day.  I LOVE cookie dough....  I mean I can't make cookies without having a few bites of raw dough.  No--I haven't had food poisoning or whatever it is you can get from eating raw dough.  If you don't like to eat raw cookie dough...  Well...  I'm sorry is all I can say!

{Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Frozen Yogurt}

Not only is this delicious--it LOOKS like pure, straight-up cookie dough!!!  I PROMISE that there are no raw eggs in this recipe.  In fact, that's how you make it; make cookie dough without eggs and add vanilla yogurt at the end.  Theortically, you could make ANY cookie dough into frozen yogurt.  Worth the chance right?

{Cream butter and sugars together until super light and fluffy}

{Add dry ingredients}

{The dough will be VERY dry, but adding the vanilla yogurt will make it look better!}

{Completed frozen yogurt batter}

{Fold in mini chocolate chips}

{The original recipe only makes about two cups (see above), but I've doubled the recipe for you! (yes it does need to be doubled--as of right now, I only have about 1/4 of it left because the hubby found it)}

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Frozen Yogurt

Makes 1 quart

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
20 oz Greek vanilla yogurt (I used Oikos non-fat vanilla; this recipe was a tad sweet but good.  Just keep in mind what yogurt you use; if it's sweet cut back a bit on the sugar!)
1 cup mini chocolate chips
  1. Cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy.
  2. Add vanilla and beat until combined.
  3. Add dry ingredients and mix until semi-combined.
  4. Add yogurt and beat until well combined--should look like cookie dough at this point.
  5. Fold in chocolate chips.
  6. Place frozen yogurt in a freezer-safe container and place in the freezer.
  7. Freeze overnight.
  8. Enjoy!
I do want to perfect vanilla and chocolate frozen yogurt, but I haven't found a recipe that has wowed me yet.  I will keep looking!  (unless one of you lovely readers has a suggestion!)

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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Chicken Cordon Bleu

I've always loved chicken cordon bleu.  Cutting into a juicy chicken breast stuffed with ham and cheese--what's not to love?  However, stuffing it without breaking the chicken breast or having all the cheese melt out--difficult.  When I saw this recipe for chicken cordon bleu made in a crockpot--I admit that I was skeptical.  However, I am so glad I made it AND that it tastes heavenly AND that it was easy.

{Sorry for the blurry picture--I had worked 12 hours, and I was HUNGRY!!!}

{Place cream of chicken on the bottom of the crockpot}

{Layer chicken, ham, and swiss cheese on top}

{Layer stuffing and butter on top}

{This is how it looked cooked--not much different right?  I checked it (see lower left hand corner) and might have eaten a third of a chicken breast in my hunger...  Oops!}

Chicken Cordon Bleu

Makes 4 servings

4 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
1-10.75 oz can of cream of chicken soup
1/4 cup milk
8 slices ham
8 slices Swiss cheese
1 box stuffing for chicken
5 tablespoons butter, melted
  1. In the bottom of the crockpot, spread 1/2 of the can of cream of chicken soup.
  2. Layer chicken breast on top of the cream of chicken soup.
  3. Place ham slices then cheese slices on top of the chicken breasts.
  4. Mix milk and remaining cream of chicken soup together until well combined.
  5. Pour the milk mixture over the cheese layer.
  6. Pour stuffing on top of the milk mixture.
  7. Pour butter over stuffing.
  8. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or until chicken is done.
  9. Serve.
The stuffing does get kinda soggy cooking that long, but I liked that!  If you don't, then just pour the milk mixture over the layers.  When the chicken is done, remove and add the sauce to the stuffing on the stovetop, that would most likely solve the soggy-stuffing problem.

This kinda inspired me to try another favorite in the crockpot: Chicken Wellington.  Hmmmm......

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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Tuesday Tip: How to Cut Up a Pineapple

I LOVE FRESH PINEAPPLE!!!  What else can I say?  I can mention that I could probably eat my weight in pineapple (not to mention the hubby too!).  Or that my loving co-workers brought me a HUGE container of cut up fresh pineapple when I was in the hospital recovering from surgery (don't worry--that was YEARS ago!).  I sing the Pina Colada song a bunch and eat pineapples--why?  Because I am silly!  (Which I might be listening to as I write this post...)

Have you ever seen fresh, whole pineapple?  It looks intimidating!  (or is that just me?)  Have you wanted to get it when it's on sale (whole), but didn't know how to cut it up?  Me too!  But after culinary school and working in the restaurant industry for several years, I have learned the technique and am here to share it with you!  The following is a step-by-step picture guide on how to peel and core a pineapple.  How you cut it from there (cubes or slices) is up to you!

{Pineapples will intimidate no more!}

{Supplies: a large cutting board and large chef knife}

{Step 1: cut off the top}

{Step 2: cut off the bottom}

{You need flat surfaces to stablize the pineapple while you "peel" it}

{Step 3: cut the outer peel off by cutting approximately 1/4 inch into the fruit.}

{Cutting a pineapple is not perfect, but the results are delicious!}

{Step 4: continue step 3 until the entire pineapple is "peeled"}

{Step 5: cut the pineapple in half}

{Step 6: cut the pineapple in hald again (or in quarters)}

{Step 7: cut the inner "point" off the pineapple.  This is the core and is very hard}

{Step 8: lay the pineapple on the flattest side and cut to desired size}

{Step 9: enjoy fresh pineapple!}

{If you want to use pineapple as a garnish, just skip the "peeling" and cut into quarters.  If using on a glass, cut a small slit through the core part of the pineapple}


As always--practice makes perfect.  Please be careful when using knives and other sharp objects. 

WARNINGS:  You might not be able to resist eating some while cutting it up or singing the Pina Colada song! 

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Wednesday, May 22, 2013


Many, many years ago, I made the scone recipe from a Betty Crocker book for my mom.  She loves it when you do stuff like that, and being a kid, cash is short.  However it started, I have created a scone-monster in my mother.  The scones are deliciously buttery and crumbly, perfect with a cup of coffee, milk or hot chocolate.  They are not the most fun dessert to make, which is why I only make them once or twice a year.  My mother hoards them and freezes them.  What can I say?

{Scones for Mother's Day Tea}

{Chocolate Chip Scone}

Worry not, readers!  I have taken many photos and included step-by-step instructions!

{Whisk dry ingredients together until well blended}

{Add butter and cut it into small chunks with a knife.  If you have a pastry blender USE IT!}

{If you don't have a pastry blender, then you'll use your hands to get the butter incorporated}

{You'll take the butter and squeeze it into small pieces.  What you are going for is having the butter in sand to pea size chunks coated with flour}

{See the sandy texture with pea sized chunks?  That's what you are going for}

{Make a well in the center and add the beaten eggs}

{The eggs will not form a cohesive dough.  What you are looking for here is to make bigger chunks}

{Finally, add the 1/2 and 1/2.  Just add a little bit at a time!  This dough should just barely come together and should not be sticky.  If it's sticky, you've added too much cream and will have to add more flour}

{At this point, add whatever ingredients you want.  Here I added zest from 1 orange to make orange scones.  Then knead the dough to just incorporate the flavorings}

{Here I added green onions and cheese}

{Make even balls with the dough and flatten them out slightly.  The scones will barely rise or spread}

{Orange scones getting ready for the oven}

{Bake scones until the edges just start to turn golden.  These scones are on the dry side anyway so if you bake them too long, they will be VERY dry!}


Makes about 36

1 cup butter, room temperature
5 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
1/2 tablespoon salt
3 eggs, beaten and at room temperature
1/2 cup half and half, room temperature
1 to 1 1/2 cups flavorings (if using zests of citrus, use 3)
egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 teaspoon milk)
  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Whisk all dry ingredients together.
  3. Cut in butter using a pastry blender or hands.
  4. Add eggs to dough and mix together.
  5. Gradually add half and half until dough just comes together--keep in mind all of the half and half might not be used.
  6. Add flavorings; knead dough about ten times to incorporate.
  7. Roll dough into even-sized balls; place on greased cookie sheet and flatten slightly.
  8. Brush with egg wash and place in oven.
  9. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the edges begin to turn golden.
  10. Cool for 1 minute on baking sheets and then transfer to wire racks to finish cooling.
I might also mention that I love these too; that's the true reason why I seldom make them.  The hubby grabbed a chocolate chip scone and ate it that night after I was done making them.  He asked me the next day why I put chocolate chips in the biscuits, and I died laughing.  I told him what it was, and he said it tasted like a biscuit.  It's pretty close to a biscuit, I will give him that.  He asked me yesterday when I'm making more.  I told him I'd have to raid mom's freezer for some  :o)

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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Tuesday Tip: How to Clean Your Garbage Disposal

I am bit of a neat freak.  The proof?  I have a cleaning schedule for chores that need to be done weekly, monthly, quarterly, semi-annually and annually.  (Yup total nerd/dork/etc right here).  I love lists, and I have a tendency to forget things.  I also don't like the idea of "spring cleaning" where you clean absolutely everything in your house once a year.  No thanks--I'll do it a few times a year to save time and headache.  I also live in an apartment and not a house so cleaning the two windows and glass doors in my apartment once a month might change to once a quarter in a house with ten windows and two glass doors.  Cleaning the garbage disposal?  A once a month task because it's easy and quick.  How easy and quick?  Let me show you...

{Garbage disposal}

{Freeze either lemons, lemon juice in ice cube trays, or vinegar in ice cube trays (be sure to mark them!)--any and all will work.  I froze peeled lemons because I had 5 or 6 and wasting is not in my blood}

{Frozen peeled lemons}

{Turn the cold water on and let it run the entire time plus 30 seconds after turning it off.  Never use hot or warm water because the motor, etc could overheat}

{After turning on the cold water, turn on the garbage disposal, drop the frozen whatnot down the disposal and let it run until you hear it clear; turn off the disposal.  Continue running the cold water for 30 seconds after turning the garbage disposal off}

See?  Told you it was easy.  Just in case you don't believe that ice is okay to clean the garbage disposal with, the following are reputable sources (you won't hurt my feelings; I always double check anything I read because you just never know):

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Monday, May 20, 2013

Cilantro Lime Chicken

This recipe was so easy and delicious that I really don't have much to say about it.  I pretty much followed the recipe, only doubling the onions and garlic because we love those flavors.  The hubby even loved it, and the recipe is so versatile: burrito, taco, over rice, over a Mexican-inspired salad, on its own with steamed veggies....  Although I didn't eat it with a tortilla, the hubby made a burrito and claimed that it was delicious.  This was so good that I looked forward to eating the leftovers, and I ALMOST moved them to the front of the line; however, others were waiting patiently first.  I claimed the leftovers as mine and devoured them.

{I ate my Cilantro Lime Chicken over Spanish Rice (coming soon!)}

{Mixing the ingredients together the night before}

{Place chicken in the crockpot}

{Pour the remaining ingredients over the chicken}

Cilantro Lime Chicken

Serves 4

2 pounds chicken thighs, skinless
1/2 cup lime juice
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
1 pound corn
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, diced
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  1. Place chicken in the bottom of a crockpot.
  2. Put remaining ingredients over the chicken.
  3. Cook for 6-8 hours on low.
  4. Serve with rice, in tacos, in burritos, or over a salad.
What is your go-to for Mexican food? 

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