Tomato-Orange Marmalade Chicken

Poultry

Tomato-Orange Marmalade Chicken

 

Adapted from Southern Living Vol. 49 No. 6

This chicken is super juicy and yummy. We all loved it. Even I, who hate tomatoes, ate everything. The sweetness from the marmalade and the sourness from the tomatoes blend beautifully together. It does not take very long to make.

Ingredients:

  • 4 6-oz. skinned and boned chicken breasts
  • 2 tsp salt
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 3 tbsp sweet orange marmalade
  • 2 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, chopped

Directions:

  1. Place the chicken breasts between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and flatten them to ½-inch thickness using the flat side of a meat mallet. Season the chicken with salt and pepper.
  2. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook 2 chicken breasts in the skillet 4 minutes on each side or until done. Transfer them to a serving platter and cover them with aluminum foil to keep them warm. Repeat the procedure with the remaining butter and chicken.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Add 3 tablespoons of water and half of the tomatoes. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring to loosen the browned bits from the bottom of the skillet. Stir in the marmalade and vinegar. Stir for 4 more minutes, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes burst and the sauce begins to thicken. Stir in the remaining tomatoes and cook for 2 minutes until thoroughly heated. Stir in the basil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Spoon the sauce over the chicken.

 

Comments: For this recipe, it is very important to use sweet marmalade. The only one I was able to find that used sweet oranges was Smucker’s. If the label doesn’t specify, you can look at the list of ingredients to see if they say whether the oranges are sweet or bitter. I had this chicken with whole-wheat couscous. The magazine also suggests sprinkling the chicken with goat cheese, something I think would work really well.

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Chicken Gumbo

Poultry

Chicken Gumbo

Adapted from Review It Magazine

When I went to New Orleans, I discovered a lot of new dishes including gumbo. This is a really simple recipe. It’s hearty and a perfect meal for a cold autumn or winter day.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 ½ lbs chicken breast, skinless and boneless, cut into 1-inch strips
  • 1 cup white potatoes, cubed
  • 1 cup onions, chopped
  • 1 cup carrots, chopped
  • ½ medium carrot, grated
  • 1 whole bay leaf
  • ½ tsp thyme
  • Ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup okra, sliced

Directions:

  1. Add the vegetable oil to a large pot and heat over medium heat.
  2. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until the flour begins to turn golden brown.
  3. Slowly stir in all the broth using a wire whisk. Cook for about 2 minutes until the mixture is no longer lumpy.
  4. Add the rest of the ingredients except the okra. Bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes.
  5. Add the okra and cook for 15 to 20 more minutes.
  6. Remove the bay leaf and serve.

 

Comments: This is a very straightforward, foolproof recipe. The trickiest thing I can think of is making sure no flour lumps remain in the broth. One suggestion is to pour some of the broth and stir with the whisk to dissolve the flour completely and then incorporate the remaining broth. You can also try removing the bigger lumps with a spoon; smaller lumps won’t really be noticeable when the broth is mixed with the chicken and vegetables. Typically gumbo is served with rice; so, to serve, I suggest pouring servings of gumbo into bowls and then scooping some cooked rice on top.

 

Red Velvet White Chocolate Cheesecake

Cakes

Red Velvet White Chocolate Cheesecake

 

Adapted from Southern Living Vol.48 No.12

 I made this exquisite cake last year for our 2013 Christmas dinner. So, yeah…it’s definitely not for you if you are on a diet, but, seriously, can you resist? It is beautiful, elegant, delicious, and perfect for the holiday season. It also combines two favorite desserts into one: red velvet cake and cheesecake. It is very big, so make sure you have guests before attempting it. You should definitely start this the day before.

Cheesecake Layers

Ingredients:

  • 2 8-inch round disposable aluminum foil cake pans
  • 12 oz white chocolate chips
  • 5 8-oz packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp vanilla

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 300F (150C).
  2. Line the bottom and sides of the 2 disposable cake pans with aluminum foil, allowing 2 to 3 inches to extend over sides. Lightly grease the foil.
  3. Microwave the white chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl according to the directions on the package. Cool for 10 minutes.
  4. Beat the cream cheese and melted chocolate at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add the sugar, beating well. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until the yellow disappears after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Pour into the prepared pans.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes until almost set. Turn the oven off. Let the cheesecake stand in the oven, wit the door closed, for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool completely (about 1½ hours). Cover and chill for 8 hours or freeze for 24 hours to 2 days.

Red Velvet Layers

Ingredients:

  • 3 8-inch disposable aluminum foil cake pans
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2½ cups sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 3 cups flour
  • 3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • 8 oz sour cream
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 1-oz bottles red liquid food coloring

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F (177C).
  2. Beat the butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add the sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition.
  3. Stir together the flour, coca and baking soda. Add to the butter mixture alternately with the sour cream, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Beat at low speed just until blended after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Stir in the food coloring. Spoon the batter into the 3 greased disposable cake pans.
  4. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 24 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes. Remove from the pans and cool completely (about 1 hour).

Red Velvet White Chocolate Cheesecake, cortada

White Chocolate Frosting

Ingredients:

  • 2 4-oz white chocolate baking bars, chopped
  • ½ cup boiling water
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 32 oz powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1/8 tsp salt

Directions:

  1. Whisk together the chocolate and the boiling water until the chocolate melts. Cool for 20 minutes, then chill for 30.
  2. Beat the butter and chilled chocolate mixture at low speed until blended. Beat at medium speed for 1 minute. Increase speed to high and beat for 2 to 3 minutes until fluffy. Gradually add the powdered sugar and salt, beating at low speed until blended. Increase the speed to high and beat for 1 to 2 minutes until smooth and fluffy.

Assembling the Cake

Ingredients:

  • 2 cheesecake layers (recipe above)
  • 3 red velvet layers (recipe above)
  • White chocolate frosting (recipe above)

Directions:

  1. Place 1 layer of red velvet on a serving platter. Top with 1 layer of cheesecake.
  2. Repeat with the remaining layers of red velvet and cheesecake, alternating and ending with red velvet on top.
  3. Spread the top and sides of the cake with the white chocolate frosting. If desired, garnish with white candy leaves (recipe below). Store in the refrigerator.
So you get an idea of how tall it is...

So you get an idea of how tall it is…

White Candy Leaves

Ingredients:

  • Bay leaves
  • 2 oz vanilla candy coating

Directions:

  1. Wash the leaves and pat dry. Melt the vanilla candy coating in a saucepan over low heat until melted (about 3 minutes). Stir until smooth. Cool slightly. Working on parchment paper, spoon a 1/8-inch-thick layer of the candy coating over the backs of the leaves, spreading to the edges.
  2. Transfer the leaves gently, by their stems, o a clean sheet of parchment paper, resting them candy coating sides up. Let stand until the candy coating is firm (about 10 minutes). Gently hold each leaf at the stem end and carefully peel the leaf away from the candy coating. Store the candy leaves in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 1 week.

 

Comments: Overall, a wonderful and heavenly dessert. It can feed many, it tastes great and it looks fantastic. I do recommend that you buy the disposable cake pans to keep the size of the layers the same and it makes your job faster than having to clean pans in between cooking layers. Since this is a very tall layered cake, I have some suggestions for cutting it. After cutting once through the cake, dip the blade of the knife in warm water and wipe clean. Then finish cutting the first slice. Repeat this process of dipping the blade in the water before cutting more slices. Most importantly, indulge!

Red Velvet White Chocolate Cheesecake, pedazo

 

Gratin aux Fruits de Mer

Fish

(Gratin of Creamed Salmon)

Gratin aux Fruits de Mer

Adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child

This dish is really quite simple and quick to make. It can be prepared ahead and set in the oven right before serving. It has a light and creamy texture and is quite a versatile dish.

Serves 4 to 6 people

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup finely minced onions
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 1 cup boiling milk
  • ¼ cup White wine
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • Pepper, to taste
  • ¼ tsp oregano
  • 4 tbsp whipping cream
  • 1½ cups canned salmon
  • ¼ cup grated Gruyère cheese

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425F (218C).
  2. Cook the onions in the butter in a 2-quart saucepan over low heat for 5 minutes until the onions are tender but not browned.
  3. Stir in the flour and cook slowly for 2 minutes without coloring.
  4. Off heat, beat in the boiling milk, then the wine and seasonings. Bring the sauce to a boil over medium high heat, stirring. Boil for several minutes to evaporate the alcohol in the wine, and allow the sauce to thicken considerably.
  5. Remove the sauce from the heat and thin it with the cream.
  6. Fold the salmon into the sauce.
  7. Spread the mixture in an 8-inch shallow baking dish. Sprinkle on the cheese.
  8. Bake in the upper third of the preheated oven for about 15 minutes until the top is nicely browned.

 

Comments:

Like I said earlier, this is a very versatile dish. It would go great in a pastry shell, for example; instead of spreading the mixture into a baking dish, spread it in the cooked pastry shell. You may also want to add sautéed mushrooms or sliced hard boiled eggs when folding in the salmon. Other fish, such as tuna, can replace the salmon or you may even use calms or other shellfish. I used canned salmon but leftover cooked fish works fine too.

I decided to serve the Gratin with Spicy Sweet Potato Wedges.

I decided to serve the Gratin with spicy sweet potato wedges.

Double-Chocolate Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

Cupcakes and Muffins

Penguin Cupcake, terminados 2

 

A year ago, my friend, knowing how much I love to bake, gave me a penguin cupcake kit for Christmas. I never got the opportunity to use it. However, I thought this year’s (or last year’s) New Year’s Party was the perfect opportunity to use it. No better way to say good-bye to the old year with a delicious chocolate cupcake with white frosting, right? Happy New Year! May you all be successful in your 2015 endeavors (which must include these cupcakes).

 Penguin Cupcake Kit

Double-Chocolate Cupcakes

Adapted from Cooking Light: Best Baking Recipes

Makes about 24 cupcakes

Ingredients:

  • 9 oz all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 1/3 cup sugar
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 8 egg whites
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup 1% low-fat buttermilk
  • 2 ½ oz dark chocolate, finely chopped (I used Guittard 64%)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F (177C).
  2. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Stir with a whisk.
  3. Beat the sugar and butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until well combined. Add the egg whites and vanilla, beating well. Add the flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to the sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Fold in the chocolate.
  4. Spoon the batter into muffin cups lined with muffin cup liners.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven for about 18 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  6. Remove from the pan and cool completely.

Penguin Cupcakes, unfrosted 3

Penguin Cupcakes, unfrosted

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

Adapted from Southern Living December 2012

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 1/8 tsp of salt
  • 16 oz of confectioner’s sugar
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • 1/2 tbsp vanilla

Directions:

  1. Beat the butter and salt at medium speed with an electric mixer for 1 to 2 minutes until creamy.
  2. Gradually add the confectioner’s sugar alternately with the milk, beating at low speed until blended and smooth after each addition.
  3. Stir in vanilla.
  4. Use immediately.

Penguin Cupcakes, frostedPenguin Cupcakes, frosted 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

Assembling the Cupcakes

Ingredients:

  • Double-Chocolate Cupcakes (recipe above)
  • Vanilla Buttercream Frosting (recipe above)
  • Decorations of your choice

Directions:

  1. Once the cupcakes have cooled completely, use a frosting piper or piping bag to top the cupcakes with the frosting. You may also use a knife or spatula if you prefer.
  2. Top the frosted cupcakes with any decoration you desire.
  3. Most importantly, enjoy and indulge!

 

Comments: I was very happy with how these cupcakes turned out. They were spongy and delicate. The chocolate pieces gave them the perfect final touch. The frosting is the same one I used for the Christmas white cake. Everyone loved the cupcakes and thought the penguins were very cute. I actually ended up with 27 cupcakes, and, even though I had made half of the recipe, I had leftover frosting.

Penguin Cupcakes, terminados