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Saturday, January 29, 2011

Chipotle Chicken Pasta

Have you ever used the chipotle in adobo peppers you can usually find the Mexican or ethnic aisle of your grocery store?  I absolutely love them.  They have such awesome flavor.  I add them to chili, salsa, taco meat, and all kinds of things.  The adobo sauce adds such a great smoky heat.  Chipotles in adobo are dried, smoked jalapeno peppers cooked in a sauce of spices like cumin and garlic among other things, vinegar, tomato sauce and ancho chilis, there is often a little brown sugar added too. They are spicier than a jalapeno though so be careful.  If they are too hot for you, you can scrape out the seeds to cut down on the heat.  The ones I buy come in a small can that looks like this.
Picture of La Costena Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce 7 oz. - Item No. 1349

As for this pasta, I wanted a spicy pasta with a light cream sauce.  I added lots of bell peppers, onions, and cilantro to give it extra flavor.  I let the chicken marinate in a little lime juice, cilantro and spices for about half an hour before cooking it to give it some extra flavor.  I used whole wheat pasta to make it a little healthier.  I've cut back on the chipotles in this recipe from the way I made it the first time.  Although I was fine with using three chipotle peppers, my husband thought it was just too spicy so I would start with one pepper and taste it along the way.  That way you get the flavor but adjust the heat to suit your own tastes.  I didn't take out the seeds.  Remember though that it will get a little hotter as it cooks.  I used farfalle or bowtie pasta but feel free to substitute whatever shortcut pasta you would like.  This makes a lot of pasta - about 8-10 servings.

Chipotle Chicken Pasta

2-3 skinless, boneless chicken breasts (about 2 lbs)
1/4 cup lime juice
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup cilantro, finely chopped
1 tsp ancho chili powder
1 tsp salt
2 T olive oil
1 lb farfalle pasta
1 large red bell pepper, diced
1 large green bell pepper, diced
1 red onion, diced
1 chipotle pepper + 1 T of adobo sauce, minced
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Trim fat from chicken breasts and cut into bite-size pieces.  Combine lime juice, 1/2 of minced garlic, 1/2 of cilantro, chili powder, and salt and mix together.  Pour over chicken to coat and marinate chicken about 30 minutes. 

Heat a large pot of water to boiling.  Add generous amount of salt and add pasta.  Cook according to package directions until al dente.  Drain and set aside.  Meanwhile, add olive oil to large saute pan and heat over medium heat.  Add chicken, bell peppers, onions and remaining garlic and cook about 6-8 minutes until chicken is cooked through and vegetables are softened.  Add chicken stock and chipotle pepper and adobo sauce and cook until stock is reduced by about 1/3.  Reduce heat to low and add cream and cheese.  Stir to combine and return pasta to sauce pan and toss to evenly coat with sauce.  Cook about 5 minutes and top with remaining cilantro and serve.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

We have a winner!

Thank you to everyone who participated in my contest this week to win a copy of Michael Chiarello's cookbook Bottega and some lemon-pepper panko breadcrumbs to try courtesy of General Mills and MyBlogSpark.  Thank you to all of you for reading and following my blog!

There were 48 comments telling me about what they would make with panko breadcrumbs -- I got a few new ideas to use from them.  I chose the winner via a random number generator and the winning number was entry number seven.

Amber from Texas Tales said...
How exciting! I love exploring new recipes and reading cookbooks. Would love to win. In the meantime, I'll have to try out these panko bread crumbs. I enjoy cooking our tilapia or catfish in seasoned bread crumbs, and it might be time to mix it up a little!

Amber - I think you'll like the panko -- it will make an extra crispy crust on your fish!  Enjoy the cookbook and thank you for reading my blog!  I've sent you an email with the details. 

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Carrot Cake

So for at least the past week I have been wanting carrot cake -- I'm not sure why but I'm chalking it up to pregnancy cravings.  I finally had a halfway decent excuse to make one since we were having friends over for dinner.  While I love the carrot cake cupcakes I've made in the past, I wanted to try a new recipe that used pineapple since I had some crushed pineapple in the fridge that I needed to use up.  (The cupcakes are a great recipe to try if you prefer your carrot cake sans additions.)  It was an excellent decision, I found an Ina Garten recipe that used pineapple (although it called for fresh but I subbed in the canned that I already had) and it also added in raisins and walnuts (although I made another substitution and used pecans since I had those in the pantry).  Just make sure if you do use canned pineapple that you get the kind packed in its own juice not heavy syrup, you don't need to add extra sugar to the recipe.  It turned out to be really moist and topped with a cream cheese frosting, a perfect choice to satisfy my craving.

This cake is really forgiving, there's no complicated mixing instructions, you don't have to sift flour and most of the ingredients you probably have on hand.  I also added some extra spices to the recipe.  It originally called for cinnamon but I added some ginger and nutmeg as well.  A thick cream cheese frosting is always a good combination for carrot or other spice cakes and is really easy to whip up.  I used my normal cream cheese frosting which has a 1:1 ratio of cream cheese to butter.  To that, I add vanilla, milk or cream and powdered sugar.  Make sure you whip the frosting really well to incorporate plenty of air, this will help give it a light texture and make it the right consistency to frost your cake.  I did end up with about an extra cup of frosting even after converting this from a 2-layer to 3-layer cake. 

The original instructions were to use 2 8-inch pans but unless your cake pans are deeper than standard cake pans, I think you would have overflow problems, I split it into 3 8-inch pans and thought the layers were still pretty substantial.  They do bake up pretty flat so there was no trimming required to assemble.

Carrot Cake
Recipe adapted from Ina Garten via Food Network

2 cups sugar
1 1/3 cups canola or vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups flour, plus 1 T
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 cup raisins
1 cup chopped pecans
1 pound carrots, peeled and grated
1/2 cup crushed pineapple, drained

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter and flour three 8-inch round cake pans (or you can use baking spray) and line with parchment paper if desired (I didn't and it came out just fine but with a more delicate cake or if I'm not just making it for myself, I usually do). 

Combine sugar, oil, eggs, and vanilla in a mixing bowl and mix on medium speed for about two minutes until light yellow in color.  In a separate bowl, combine flour, soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt and whisk together.  Add to mixing bowl and mix on low speed until just incorporated.  Batter will be pretty thick at this point.  Toss raisins and pecans with remaining one tablespoon of flour.  Fold raisins, pecans, carrots and pineapple into batter until well distributed.   Divide batter evenly among pans and bake about 30 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool in pans about ten minutes and then transfer to wire racks to cool completely. 

1 package cream cheese (I used 1/3 less fat), at room temperature
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
3-4 T milk
1 pound powdered sugar

Combine cream cheese and butter in mixing bowl and beat on medium-high speed about three minutes until light and fluffy.  Add vanilla and first three tablespoons of milk and mix on low to incorporate.  Slowly add powdered sugar, mixing on low until incorporated.  Increase speed and whip about two minutes, adding additional milk if necessary to reach desired consistency.  When cakes are completely cool, spread about 1/4 of the frosting on top of the first layer, spread evenly, top with 2nd layer, add another 1/4 of the frosting and top with remaining layer.  Add a generous amount of frosting to the top of the cake and smooth working out with a spatula to the edges and down the sides of the cake. 

Friday, January 21, 2011

A Giveaway and an Easy Weeknight Dinner

***This contest is now closed - Thank you for participating!***

Well it's a good thing I didn't make a New Year's resolution to blog more often -- oh wait I did that??  FAIL!  These last couple of weeks have really just gotten away from me.  In a bit of good news, I have gotten a lot done, work has been busy, the nursery is finished and all the baby's laundry is cleaned and put away, and my freezer is full of meals frozen for easy dinners once she arrives.  So there's my excuse.  To make it up to you -- here's a GIVEAWAY for a beautiful cookbook, Bottega by Michael Chiarello Chef Chiarello is the host of Easy Entertaining on the Food Network and chef at Bottega Napa Valley Restaurant.  Along with this great cookbook, you'll also receive a box of the Progresso Lemon-Pepper Panko Breadcrumbs that I used in the recipe below to try out.

To enter the contest, simply leave a comment at the bottom of this post telling me what you would like to try to make or what your favorite dish using panko breadcrumbs is.  For a second chance to win, "like" Homemade by Holman on Facebook by clicking on the link in the side bar of this page and leave a separate comment telling me you're a fan.  All entries must be made before Tuesday, January 25 at 6 pm Eastern and must include a valid email address to be eligible. 

Speaking of the recipe... I promised a quick and easy dinner and this definitely meets those qualifications.  You can have all this ready to go in about twenty minutes.  If you have never used panko breadcrumbs before, they make a much crisper breading than traditional breadcrumbs.  I generally just buy the unflavored variety in the grocery store and season them up as needed but these lemon-pepper flavored breadcrumbs work great with the pesto pasta.  In the interest of full disclosure, I had pesto on hand when I decided to make this as I made a big batch this fall when I had an abundance of basil from the garden and froze it.  But pesto is really easy to make and only takes a few minutes, so I've included the recipe below (although this will make more than you need but you can freeze the extra.)  You can also find pesto in the grocery store if you want a pre-made version.

Lemon Pepper Panko Crusted Chicken with Pesto Pasta
Serves 4

2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts, butterflied and cut into 4 pieces
1 egg
1/4 cup milk
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
3 T olive oil

8 oz spaghetti (I used whole wheat)
1/4 cup pesto sauce

1 cup packed basil leaves
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with foil (if desired, you can cook directly on the baking sheet but foil makes for extra easy cleanup).  For the chicken, set up two wide shallow dishes for the breading process.  In one dish, beat egg and add milk, salt and pepper and whisk to combine.  In the second dish, add breadcrumbs.  Pound chicken breasts to an even thickness approximately 1/2" thick.  Dip each piece in the egg mixture, coating both sides and letting any excess drip off before transferring to the breadcrumbs.  Coat both sides, lightly pressing the breadcrumbs into the chicken to ensure they are well-coated.  Heat a large skillet over medium high heat, add olive oil.  When the oil is hot, add chicken breasts and cook about 2-3 minutes per side until golden brown.  Transfer to baking sheet and continue cooking in the oven until cooked through, about 5-10 minutes depending on the thickness of the chicken.

For the pasta, heat a large pot of water to boiling over high heat.  Generously add salt and add pasta to boiling water.  Cook pasta to al dente according to package directions.  Drain and toss with pesto sauce.

For the pesto, combine basil, garlic and pine nuts in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped, slowly stream in olive oil with processor running until uniform. Stir in cheese and pour over pasta.

Please note: Giveaway provided by General Mills via MyBlogSpark.  Although these products were provided to me free of charge, the opinions above are my own and are not influenced by General Mills or MyBlogSpark.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Cranberry - Orange Muffins

So as it turns out, the very last thing I baked in 2010 ended up being one of my favorites.  I made these cranberry-orange muffins for breakfast on New Year's Eve and they were delicious.  I've been meaning to try them ever since we had a breakfast tailgate for a football game a couple of months ago and we had some muffins from a local bakery here in town.  I hate to brag, but I think mine were better.  This has convinced me once again that I need to make more recipes from The Pastry Queen cookbook.  Everything I've made out of it so far has been delicious. 

The recipe in the cookbook is for "Essence of Orange Muffins" but as suggested, I added fruit.  I used frozen cranberries (like pumpkin I tend to stock up around Thanksgiving when they go on sale).  You could substitute fresh or dried cranberries as well.  I also used an equal ratio of orange juice to milk instead of 2:1 as the recipe suggested and added a little cinnamon and ginger.  I also decided to skip the glaze and topped half with demerara or turbinado sugar and left half plain.  The extra sugar gives the tops a nice sweet crunch so I recommend adding it.  This is one baked good that its fine to use skim or 2% milk instead of whole milk without any issues as well.  I used skim milk and light sour cream with no problems. 

I baked these in a jumbo size muffin pan and the recipe yielded 12 muffins. 

Cranberry - Orange Muffins
Recipe adapted from The Pastry Queen cookbook

3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup orange juice
1/2 cup sour cream
2 eggs
1 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup sugar
Zest of 1 orange
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 T baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1 cup fresh/frozen cranberries, roughly chopped
Demerara sugar (about a tsp per muffin)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray muffin tins with baking spray or line with paper liners.  In a medium bowl, combine milk, orange juice, sour cream, eggs, and butter and whisk until well combined.  In another mixing bowl, add sugar and orange zest.  Use your fingers to rub orange zest into the sugar until distributed and fragrant.  Add in flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and ginger.  Pour the milk mixture into the dry ingredients and stir just until incorporated.  Fold in the cranberries.

Spoon batter into prepared pans (I use an ice cream scoop to make it easier) and fill each muffin cup about 2/3 of the way full.  Sprinkle about one teaspoon of demerara sugar over the top of each muffin.  Bake about 20 - 25 minutes until the tops are golden brown and spring back lightly to the touch.  Cool in pans about 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.   

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