Thursday, March 17, 2011

Shamrock Brownies

Happy St. Patricks Day!

The kids at work requested brownies when I asked them what treat they wanted for St. Patrick's Day. I wanted to make them green, but also do something more unique then sprinkles or M & Ms. I've seen lots of heart decorations where you place a dot of icing on  fresh icing and then drag a toothpick through it to make a heart. I wondered what would happen if you merged four dots together to make a shamrock. The results turned out quite cute. I didn't have time to make brownies from scratch, so this isn't much of a recipe as it is wishing all of you a happy St. Patrick's Day!

Powdered Sugar Icing
2 1/2-3 cups shifted powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons very soft butter
3-5 tablespoon milk

Add powdered sugar to a large bowl. Add wet indgredients and mix until smooth. Add more milk or powdered sugar until desired sonsistancy is reached. For the bownies I wanted it fairly thick so it could be spread without running over the sides too much.

How to make a shamrock brownie:
Bake favorite brownies, let them cool and then cut into 2 inch squares.
Place 1/4 cup of the icing in a bowl and add enough green dye to make it bright green (around 4-5 drops). Dye the rest of the icing a nice light green (around 4-5 drops as well). Frost the tops of the brownies with the light green. Take a toothpick and dip it in the darker green frosting. Using the toothpick, drop four equal sized dots in a square onto the top of the brownie. Then drag the toothpick through each dot towards the center of the square. This should look like four raindrops pointing inward. Dip the toothpick in the darker icing, place in the middle of the suquare, and drag down to form the stem.  Let the icing dry for an hour or place in the freezer for 15-20 minutes or until hard.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Bajio Chicken and Crockpot Refried Beans

This chicken is supposedly a copycat recipe of the chicken served at the Tex-Mex resturant Bajio, but since I haven't been there in a long time I can't tell you if it is a match. What I can tell you is that this is easy and delicious. It melts in your mouth- hence why my friend Laura dubbed this "Melty Chicken".

I paired this with equally easy and healthy refried beans. While beans do take a long time to cook- these can be done over night in a crockpot. So the the actual work time is very minimal. These use no oil, but taste like the canned kind (which is full of oil). The recipe makes quite a lot (about 6 cups), but the extra can be frozen and reheats quite nicely.  Just remember to save the liquid drained off the beans, or the recipe won't work.

Overall a delicious and relatively healthy meal. 

Bajio Chicken
(from Real Mom Kitchen)

5 chicken breasts
1/2 cup medium salsa
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 4 oz. can diced green chilies (I wanted more heat and so I added the larger can- think it was 7 oz)
6 oz. lemon-lime soda

Mix all the ingredients together in a crockpot and cook for 5-6 hours on low. Remove the chicken, shred it, and return it to the crockpot for another hour.  Serve on flour tortillas with your choice of taco toppings.

Crockpot Refried Beans
(from Real Mom Kitchen)

3 cups dry pinto beans, rinsed (rinsing is important, since dry beans are generally dirty)
1 onion diced
1 tablespoon salt
1 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/8 teaspoon ground cumin

Place all ingredients in a crockpot and cook on high for eight hours.  When done,  drain the beans and save the liquid. Mash the beans with a potato masher, adding small amounts of the drained liquid until the desired consistency is reached. They will thicken over time, so make them a little runnier then needed. Top with grated cheese as a garnish  or refrigerate/ freeze to reheat latter.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Lemon Bundt Cake

*  Check this out! Lisa over at Sweet as Sugar Cookies invited me to post this on her Sweets for Saturday.

While lemon cake may be viewed as a summer treat, I feel that towards the end of winter we all need some summery flavors to remind us that the sun will come back and we won't be stuck inside all day. Besides, I love lemons. They are such a versatile and cheap ingredient that's full of huge flavor. While I was looking for recipes to try out the new bundt ban that I got for Christmas (thanks Sherrie!), I found a lemon cornmeal cake that failed miserably, and then I found this amazing little cake. It is bursting with lemon flavor- due to a double layer of an intensely lemon glaze and adding the zest to the lemon juice before it goes in the cake to bring out more lemon flavor. 

Lemon Bundt Cake
(Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated by Tortatebukura's blog)
Zest from 3 lemons (about 2 tablespoons)
3 tablespoons  lemon juice
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (15 ounces)
1teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup low-fat buttermilk
3 large eggs , at room temperature
1 large egg yolk , at room temperature
18 tablespoons unsalted butter (2 1/4 sticks), at room temperature
2 cups sugar (14 ounces)

3  tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon buttermilk
2 cups confectioners’ sugar

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position; heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 12-cup Bundt pan with nonstick baking spray and dust with flour

Combine zest and lemon juice in small bowl; set aside to soften, 10 to 15 minutes.

Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in large bowl. Combine lemon juice mixture, vanilla, and buttermilk in medium bowl. In small bowl, gently whisk eggs and yolk to combine. In standing mixer fitted with flat beater (or you can use a hand mixer and a large bowl), cream butter and sugar at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes; scrape down sides of bowl with rubber spatula. Reduce to medium speed and add half of eggs, mixing until incorporated, about 15 seconds. Repeat with remaining eggs; scrape down bowl again. Reduce to low speed; add about one-third of flour mixture, followed by half of buttermilk mixture, mixing until just incorporated after each addition (about 5 seconds). Repeat using half of remaining flour mixture and all of remaining buttermilk mixture. Scrape bowl and add remaining flour mixture; mix at medium-low speed until batter is thoroughly combined, about 15 seconds. Remove bowl from mixer and fold batter once or twice with rubber spatula to incorporate any remaining flour. Scrape into prepared pan.

Bake until top is golden brown and wooden skewer or toothpick inserted into center comes out with no crumbs attached, 45 to 50 minutes.

While cake is baking, whisk 2 tablespoons lemon juice, buttermilk, and confectioners’ sugar until smooth, adding more lemon juice gradually as needed until glaze is thick but still pourable.

Cool cake in pan on wire rack set over baking sheet for 10 minutes, then invert cake directly onto rack. Pour half of glaze over warm cake and let cool for 1 hour; pour remaining glaze evenly over top of cake and continue to cool to room temperature, at least 2 hours. Cut into slices and serve.