Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Homemade Shrimp Cocktail

This is the first time I've made a homemade cocktail sauce and was pleasantly surprised. It was so easy to make and this meal comes together in minutes, especially if you buy shrimp that is already peeled and deveined. My sister and I spent what felt like hours peeling and deveining shrimp, but even with the extra effort, this recipe was worth it. You can serve this as an appetizer or as a main course.

This sauce can be easily tweaked to your liking. Deb from Smitten Kitchen adds extra lemon juice to her sauce. If you want more spice to it, increase the amount of horseradish or cayenne pepper. We grilled shrimp when we made this recipe, but you could also sauté your shrimp if grilling is out of the question. The cooking instructions are exactly the same as with grilling, except that instead of threading the shrimp on skewers, you just cook them individually in a pan over medium-high heat. Serve the shrimp when it is just cooked and enjoy.

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Friday, October 26, 2012

Whole Wheat Apple Muffins

My sister's neighbors have an apple tree, which means there is a surplus of apples in her kitchen. In efforts to make a dent in the apple pile, we decided to tackle a variety of apple dishes. She had made these muffins before and loved them, so I started peeling and chopping apples without any questions. The apples we have are smaller, so I used 4 and it worked well.

These muffins turned out great and stayed fresh for 3 days stored in an airtight container. I love the effect the brown sugar has on the tops of the muffins. It adds a little crunch as well as a delicious caramel like flavor, so don't get lazy or too health conscious and skip that step. Even though these are made with whole wheat flour, that flavor does not dominate the muffin and you don't even realize it's been used.

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Monday, October 22, 2012

Three Bean and Beef Chili

Chili season is slowly making its appearance. The mountains are getting their first signs of winter, and leaves are falling everywhere. I decided to make a pot of chili one cold evening and was instantly brought back to my childhood when we used to order chili in a bread bowl at our local ski area. This recipe makes a generous serving of healthy chili. I love the adobo sauce flavor that comes through, but if you're not a fan or you'd rather have a mild flavor, you can scale back the amount of chipotle chilis and adobo sauce you use. The ingredients for this recipe are simple. I couldn't find black beans or pinto beans when I made this, so I just added extra kidney beans and cannellini beans.

As with all chilis, this freezes really well and can be served with biscuits, bread bowls, rice, or you can just eat it plain. If you're trying to keep it healthy, use a lean ground beef, like 90% lean. In Switzerland I don't have the option to see how much fat is in my ground beef, so I'm sure mine was more of an 80% lean beef. If you have never cooked with chipotle chilis in adobo sauce, don't worry about the extra chilis you will have left over. They freeze really well and once you get hooked on the flavor, you will find many other was to use them up. The picture below if proof of just how cold it was in my town. There are actually really big mountains behind those clouds.

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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Brie and Chicken Salad with Honey Mustard Dressing

Living in Switzerland, there is almost always a wedge of brie in my fridge. I usually cut off slices and snack on them when I walk by the kitchen, or I put the slices on bread and top it all with some chutney. Not matter which way it gets used, brie is delicious. The other week my friend and I had lunch together and we both decided on having a lighter meal. I wanted to make a salad that would be filling, but not heavy, so I decided I was going to add some chicken breast and cheese.

The mixed greens available in Switzerland are different to those in the U.S. I combined salade de mâche with some red leaf lettuce, but any combination of colorful lettuce would be great. If you have leftover chicken in your fridge, this salad is a great way to use it up. I also make this same salad with crumbled blue cheese instead of brie sometimes. You can easily add or subtract veggies or even fruits to this dish. Serve with some rustic bread and your meal is complete.

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Saturday, October 13, 2012

Peanut and Sesame Noodles

I know I have more than enough Asian noodle dishes on this blog, but I keep coming across new ones that are also great, so you can take your pick. I chose this recipe since I actually had all the ingredients for the sauce in my pantry. Usually I find an Asian recipe and realize that I'm missing some key component and then opt against making it. This is a really easy noodle dish. It makes a great lunch if you have any leftovers as well.

In this recipe, the veggies are quickly cooked with the boiling pasta so that they are crisp tender. I often just use raw veggies in an Asian noodle salad, but decided to give this method a try. I actually liked the result, but you need to be careful to not overcook the veggies. If you are hesitant at all, just use raw peppers, carrot, cucumbers, or any other veggie you like in an Asian noodle dish.

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Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Betty Bossi's Lemon Cake

This is one of the easiest, no-fail cakes I have ever made. I've been making this cake since I've been young enough to "help" in the kitchen. This is one of my family's favorite cakes and usually one that never lasts too long in the house. The recipe comes from Betty Bossi and is called a Getränkter Zitronenkuchen. This just means a soaked lemon cake, but I never really cared for the soaked aspect of the cake. The original recipe calls for an icing sugar and lemon juice mixture to be poured over the cake. I always found it to be too much and it overwhelms the flavor of the otherwise perfect lemon cake.

This lemon cake is moist and flavorful. It will last about 3 to 4 days if you store it in an airtight container. When zesting the lemons, try not to peel too much of the white pitch (in between the yellow peel and lemon flesh) since it has a bitter flavor. I usually snack on this cake throughout the day, but it also makes a great dessert to serve with tea and coffee if you don't want to make anything too difficult. If you want to make it look a little fancier, serve it with a dollop of whipped cream.

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Thursday, October 4, 2012

Pan Roasted Chicken with White Wine

I came up with this recipe while looking at coq au vin recipes the other day. I had some chicken in my fridge, but was missing all the fancy kitchen supplies to follow any recipe exactly. I was also missing some ingredients that seemed essential. So I opted for  a pan roasted chicken, which turned out being easy and delicious. If you had a bigger pan, you could keep your veggies in bigger pieces and add other vegetables as well. There is plenty of sauce to add more meat if you want to (you could double the amount of meat). I also didn't have a pan with a lid, so I placed another heavy bottomed pan on top of the other to create a lid effect, which worked great as well. I also added some cut up strips of bacon to this recipe, but didn't feel like it added much flavor, so next time I will omit them.

There is a lot of sauce to be used when you serve this meal. I made mashed potatoes with this dish and put a generous spoon of the sauce over the mash. It would be great over noodles as well. This dish warms up well, so your leftovers will be tasty too. If you're lucky enough to have herbs growing in your garden, the ingredients for this recipe and really simple and easy to find.

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