Archive for January, 2011

January 30, 2011

A Birthday + Ingredient Challenge

I’ve quite simply had the best weekend ever. A night out for pizza and beer with good friends, a breakfast with my family, a romantic getaway with my man, and finally, cheese fondue, apple crisp and a movie with my best bud. I LOVE birthdays! While 23 seems like a bit of a dreary age with no extra special perks, my friends and family made it otherwise.

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A delicious cinnamon sugar birthday pizza at Woodstocks

This weekend was also an ingredient challenge weekend. The mystery ingredient is: Dates! I have had some Medjool Dates in the refrigerator for quite some time so this challenge was the perfect way to get me to use them up! Thanks to Jen’s informative post on date truffles I learned they last up to 6 months in the fridge! Who knew?!

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Mix it all up real good. But not too good or it will make your baby date bits tough!

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Place dollops of the dough into your mini muffin bake ware and top it off with chocolate.

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Voila: Pumpkin Date Cake Bites

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Pumpkin Date Cake Bites

  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoons double-acting baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin (let it drain out as much liquid as possible)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3/4 cup pitted medjool dates, roughly chopped
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

How To:

Into a bowl sift together the flour, the baking powder, the cinnamon, the nutmeg, the cloves, and the salt. In another bowl with an electric mixer cream the butter and the sugar, beat in the egg. Mix in pumpkin and the vanilla. In a small bowl toss the dates with 1/4 cup of the flour mixture until they are coated well. Gradually add the remaining flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture, beating slowly, and stir in the date mixture and the pecans, stirring until the batter is combined well. Drop the batter into mini muffin tins and bake in a preheated 350°F. oven for 15-20 minutes.

Check out all the other great Ingredient Challenge Recipes contenders for more spectacular date recipes:

And Love It Too!

Marci Gilbert

Dixie Chik Cooks

Also wishing Nutritionella a speedy recovery so she can participate next week!

From the Little Yellow Kitchen,

Lauren

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January 28, 2011

An Easy D.I.Y.

Lately I’ve been following some pretty neat DIY blogs. They are inspiring! Of course I’ve ignored the inspiring feeling because I am the last person that anyone would ever want a handmade gift from. My friends and family can attest to the fact that I have no artistic skill and my handwriting resembles a 10 year old boy’s (although I can type with the best of them). Chrissy is usually the one plating the dishes because if it were up to me I would stack cookies, waffles, french toast, maybe even Hungry Belly Breakfast Sandwiches(!) as high as I could get them — then snap the  picture, just because I thought it looked impressive and is fun to do. I’m working on this awful habit for the sake of the blog.

Some projects, where I have put my pride aside and enlisted the help of my structural engineer boyfriend, my less artistically challenged friend Chrissy, and my even less artistically challenged friend Darci, really haven’t turned out too bad. For example, these little Do It Yourself Christmas coasters really took some hulk sized muscle I didn’t even know two girls under 115lbs could manage. But we did! And our mama’s were able to have a suitable Christmas present because of it.

So, here’s how to make your own coasters:

Wait, first, pull on your lumberjack flannels . Ok, now you know that you’re ready for some action.

Then, collect these items:

  • Mod Podge
  • Foam brush
  • Super cute fabric
  • 4×4 pieces of birch wood
  1. If you couldn’t find coaster size pieces of would, get sawin’. Then get sandin’.
  2. Once you have soft and splinter-free squares, apply a coat of Mod Podge to the top.
  3. Lay a  piece of fabric on top that will match the size of the coaster and then paint another coat of Mod Podge over it.  Repeat the layers of Mod Podge about 3-5 times to ensure a glossy and smooth sheen.

 

 

You can get creative with many different patterned fabrics

Drying between layers of Mod Podge

Tie together 6-8 coasters with a nice bow and give them to your Mama. She will love them!

 

P.S. Notice our new Twitter bird to the right?! You should follow us.

P.S.S. I figured out that HTML. All.by.my.self. 🙂

From the Little Yellow Kitchen,

Narration by Lauren

Tutorial by Chrissy

January 26, 2011

Mean Green Chicken Enchiladas

That’s right. Watch out, these cheesy fiends will enlarge your thighs! Ha, funny. But seriously, check these puppies out!

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FYI, this isn’t a totally unhealthy dish, it has tons of spinach in it and light cream cheese. Plus, the color comes from lots o’ yummy veggies: green onion, cilantro, spinach, and chiles.

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It’s been a while since the Fajita Fiesta for One so we thought it was time to re-release our inner urges to Americanize Mexican food. We just can’t resist things like California burritos (carne asada, avocado and fries), nacho cheese sauce from a push pump, and apparently green and creamy enchiladas. If American’s love of cream and cheese and Mexico’s love of tortillas and cilantro had a baby, this would be it.

I made this with my mom during the holidays and have been thinking about it ever since. It was clearly love at first bite.

Mean Green Chicken Enchiladas

Sauce

  • 1/2 12-ounce package fresh spinach
  • 1/2 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 tablespoon all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 green onions, minced
  • 1 4-ounce can diced green chilies, drained
  • 1  teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1  teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper

Enchiladas

  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 8 6-inch corn tortillas
  • 1 1/2 cups grated mild cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
  • sour cream and salsa to top it all off

How to:

Warm cream cheese and milk for 20-30 seconds and blend well. Melt butter in heavy medium skillet over medium heat. Add flour and stir mixture for about 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in cream cheese and milk mixture. Simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in spinach, cilantro, green onion, chilies, cumin, coriander and red pepper. Use an immersion blender to puree (or put into a food processor). Season with salt and pepper.

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Heat oil in heavy small skillet over medium-high heat. Dip tortillas in oil to soften, shake it off, and put onto paper towels to drain.

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Let’s just pretend the Italian wine in the background is a Corona with a snazzy little lime in it. Thanks.

Combine cheeses in large bowl; set aside 3/4 cups for topping. Combine onion and cilantro in small bowl.

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Place 1/4 cup cheese mixture in center of 1 tortilla. Spoon 2 teaspoons onion mixture over. Roll up tortilla. Place seam side down in large glass baking dish. Repeat with remaining tortillas, cheese and onion, using 1/4 cup cheese for each.

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Preheat oven to 375°F. Sprinkle the top with with a happy trail of reserved 3/4 cup cheese.

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Bake until the cheese browns a bit, about 25 minutes.

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Enjoy your Mean Green Chicken Enchiladas with LOTS of loved ones, because it can sure feed all of them + some.

From the Little Yellow Kitchen,

Lauren

January 26, 2011

Crispy Eggplant Spinach Parm

Eggplant. I repeat, Eggplant. Do not be scared of it! It is so delicious when prepared the right way. I promise.

Here, have a look for yourself…

Since Lauren and I prepared some Mediterranean-style, grilled eggplant sandwiches for work yesterday, we still had a large portion of the eggplant hanging out in the fridge. On occasion, the remaining eggplant half might just end up pushed to the back only to be found during an intense cleaning session, thus resulting in a mass exodus of forgotten leftovers. We tried to steer clear of this from happening (again), so it was time for an eggplant parmesan creation.

Here are a few rules of thumb when preparing Eggplant:

1) Make sure you pick a fairly solid eggplant; if it is squishy in spots or feels hollow, steer clear.

2) Cut thick slices (about 1/2 in.); if slices are too thin, then they will turn out soggy and mushy and you will be so sad.

3) Soak up moisture. Use an old towel to press each side of the eggplant slices, before breading them, which will ensure a crispy and firm baked eggplant result.

Note: this is a messy task, try to only dirty one hand.

For the Eggplant:

Prepare a dredging station consisting of the following:

  • bowl with a 1/2 cup flour
  • bowl with 2 eggs, beaten
  • bowl with breadcrumb mixture (2/3 cup Italian bread crumbs; 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, additional dash of oregano, thyme, basil)

Don’t be shy, smother eggplant slices in flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs. Place on foiled cooking sheet and bake for around 10 minutes on each side in a 400 degree oven.

 

Meanwhile, start preparation For the Sauce:

1/2 Jar of  tomato & basil marinara

1 Mexican squash (zucchini is fine too)

1 Medium onion

6-8 Small crimini mushrooms

1 Can drained diced tomatoes

Handful of fresh spinach

Garlic powder, salt, pepper (to taste)

Directions: Saute onions for a few minutes. Add in the diced squash and mushrooms and cook for a few more minutes. Add in the rest of the ingredients, except for the spinach, and let simmer for around 15 minutes, stirring occassionally. Turn off the heat and stir in a handful or two of spinach.

Now, for the layering!


Start with a base of sauce. About a cup covered the bottom of our casserole dish.

Then put first round of eggplant slices atop the sauce. Follow with a few handfulls of spinach and cheese (we cut back on the mozzarella this time, and used a pre-shredded, 6- cheese Italian mix, along with some grated Parmesan & Romano.

Now, its time for the last layer of crispy eggplant slices. Lastly, top with a thin blanket of shredded cheese (mozzarella or the 6-cheese blend that we used) and grated Parmesan.

Put it in the oven and let cook at 400 degrees for about 20-25 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the top is looking golden brown. Remove, and let cool for 5 minutes before cutting into it, so that its not so messy when dishing it up.

Seeeeeee... Eggplant is good enough to eat! (or scarf down, in our case...)

 

 

 

From the Little Yellow Kitchen

–Chrissy

January 24, 2011

Super Simple French Toast

It was such a fine summer winter weekend. I got to spend some quality time with my man at the beach in Orange County. What? The beach? Yep. The beach. It was high 70’s and beautiful this weekend. No big deal.

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Okay, I’ll stop rubbing it in for those of you living in the low negatives.

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One of the many reason’s I love Chris is because he eats everything I put in front of him and loves it! While I’ve often referred to him as the garbage disposal, I always mean it in the nicest way possible. How can I not love someone who says “Mmmm” after everything I feed him and then proceeds to eat 3 more servings of it? I also adore that when we go out to dinner we always order strategically so that the items are mutually delicious and we can swap plates half way through. Oh, AND we are perfectly comfortable discussing what’s for breakfast the next day as we chow down on a three course meal for dinner. We like food.

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On Saturday night we went to a delicious dinner at Summer House in Corona Del Mar that was part of restaurant week. For $50 we each got an appetizer, entrée and a dessert. Whata deal! I always said I was a cheap date. Anyways, as I ate Ahi Poke with crispy wontons chips and stole nibbles of Chris’s salad, he brought up a particularly grand idea for breakfast on Sunday morning. We proceeded to discuss breakfast over a 12 oz. steak and a macadamia nut crusted mahi-mahi. After the chocolate soufflé and ice cream topped with fresh berries, Chris drove us to Ralphs (while sedated in one of his famous food comas, scary I know) and we grabbed a hearty loaf of day-old French bread to make none other than the Super Simple French Toast.

Ingredients:IMG_1995

4 eggs

¼ cup of milk

¼ tsp nutmeg

½ tsp vanilla

1 tsp of cinnamon

½ tsp of salt

Butter for frying

6-8 (1/2 in.) slices of crusty French Bread

Maple Syrup

 

How?

Mix together the eggs, milk, spices, and salt and pour into a shallow dish.

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Places bread slices into the mixture and allow them to soak for 30 seconds on each side.

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Melt a pad of butter in a hot pan and place the slices of bread in the pan over medium heat.

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Let them get nice and crispy on the outside yet still soft in the middle, 5-7 minutes on each side. Serve with maple syrup and if it’s in the upper 70’s in your town take a seat in the back yard with your loved ones, a cup o’ Joe and these babies:

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Oh, did I mention that Chris can make a mean over-easy egg? Or three?! His egg flippin’ skills are unparalleled.

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From the Little Yellow Kitchen,

Lauren