Welcome back! This week we’re focusing on a couple of categories because they’re delicious recipes that I’ve really been wanting to share with you. Also, we don’t have a pizza recipe this week because pizza night just didn’t happen last week. But don’t worry, it should be back with a vengeance this week and you’ll hear all about it on the next post. On a completely unrelated side note, the weather has been weird this week. This is the third day in a row that has started out like a typical Texas day: hot and humid, but then rapidly turned into a torrential downpour in the afternoon accompanied by strong winds and lots of thunder and lightning. Crazy! Still, I’m glad for the rain. (I just don’t like being out in it.)
Let’s start out with an easy, slow cooker dinner with some great flavor. My hubby was originally very skeptical about the flavors, but once he tasted it he understood. It was enough for 4 servings, and I enjoyed mine with lots of crunchy peanuts on top. This is quick to throw together and uses basic ingredients that you might already have in your kitchen. Let’s find out.
Slow-Cooker Thai Chicken (from Betty Crocker.com)
2 lb. skinless chicken thighs (I used my standard boneless, skinless chicken breasts, and I cut them first for quicker cooking.)
3/4 c. salsa
1/4 c. peanut butter
2 tbsp. lime juice
1 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. grated ginger
1/4 c. chopped peanuts
2 tbsp. chopped cilantro
1. Place the chicken in the slow cooker. In a small bowl, mix together the salsa, peanut butter, lime juice, soy sauce, and ginger and pour the mix over the chicken.
2. Cover and cook on low 8-9 hours or til the chicken is no longer pink. Remove the chicken onto a plate.
3. Remove the sauce from the slow-cooker and skim off the fat. Pour the sauce over the chicken and sprinkle with the peanuts and cilantro. (Since my chicken was cut, it cooked through in 3-4 hours. And I didn’t have to skim any fat since I used chicken breast. When we got home, I just cooked up some rice and poured the chicken and sauce over top.)
Let’s move on to an easy dessert that packs a ton of fudgy, walnut goodness into every bite. As a bonus, you should already have all of these ingredients (except maybe the walnuts) in your pantry. (Before you ask, there are NO leavening agents in this recipe, so don’t think that you just forgot to add them. I double-checked before I made these and was a little apprehensive, but they turned out perfect.) I love a fudgy brownie, especially when they don’t require me to stir chocolate over a double boiler. Another bonus is that these taste better the longer they sit (if they last very long at all). Check these bad boys out!
Cocoa Brownies with Browned Butter and Walnuts (from the February 2011 issue of Bon Appetit)
10 tbsp. cubed butter
1 1/4 c. sugar
3/4 c. cocoa
1 tsp. vanilla
1/3 c. + 1 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 c. walnuts
1. Position a rack in the bottom third of the oven and preheat it to 325 degrees. Line an 8 inch square pan with foil and grease the foil with Pam. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and continue cooking til the butter stops foaming and browned bits form at the bottom of the pan, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and immediately add the sugar, cocoa, 2 tsp. water, vanilla, and 1/4 tsp. salt and stir to blend. Let this mix cool 5 minutes.
2. Add the eggs 1 at a time, beating vigorously to blend after each addition. When the mix looks thick and shiny, add flour and stir til blended. Beat vigorously for 60 strokes. Stir in the nuts and transfer to the prepared pan.
3. Bake til a toothpick inserted in the center removes almost cleanly, about 25 minutes. (Mine had to go just a little longer.) Cool on a wire rack.
Back to the savory side, I love this dish. It’s healthy, but it feels like it shouldn’t be. (I mean, it’s got the word “fried” in the title. Shouldn’t that be unhealthy?) This doesn’t take long to whip up, and I ate it all (Well, half the recipe anyway.) for dinner one night when the hubby was working. (He’s not a big quinoa fan or a hot pineapple fan, so it was just for me.) It’s got a great combination of flavors and textures, and you can really customize it to your tastes and what you might have on hand. Let me start by saying that I love the flavor of hot pineapple. I don’t know what it is, but it just tastes SO good. (Just talking about it makes me want to eat it again.) Let me give you the recipe before I explode.
Thai Fried Quinoa (from the fabulous Dainty Chef)
1 c. rinsed, drained quinoa
1 c. light coconut milk
1 c. chicken broth
2 chopped green onions (Yeah, you guessed it. I left these out. I just used a little bit of a regular onion instead.)
1 tbsp. grated ginger
2 tsp. minced garlic
1 c. frozen peas (I used edamame because I just love its crunchy texture.)
1 8 oz. can drained pineapple tidbits
1/4 c. chopped cilantro (I didn’t have any on hand, so I didn’t worry about this.)
2 tbsp. soy sauce
Juice of 1/2 lime
1. Place the quinoa in a saucepan over high heat. Add the milk and broth and bring to a boil. Once it’s boiling, cover it, lower the heat to medium-low, and cook til all the liquid is absorbed and the quinoa is tender, 15-20 minutes.
2. While the quinoa cooks, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and spray it with Pam. Add the onions, ginger, and garlic and cook for 1 minute or til fragrant, stirring constantly. Add the peas, pineapple, and cilantro and cook for 1 more minute.
3. Create a well in the center of the ingredients. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs, then pour them in the well. Continue to whisk vigorously til scrambled, then fold in the outer ingredients. Add the quinoa, soy sauce, and lime juice and stir to combine. Cook 1-2 more minutes, or til the quinoa starts to crisp.
Our last recipe is fora rich, dark chocolate ice cream with a salty peanut butter swirl. It’s amazing, and so rich that I could only eat 2 small scoops at a time. Oh, but it was so good. I’m warning you though, the chocolate is REALLY rich. You just can’t eat a lot without getting sick. (I couldn’t anyway.) And I think I’ll double the peanut butter part next time because it was just so amazing. Here’s the skinny on how to make it. (And sorry about just one pic; somehow the other’s got blurred, and I didn’t notice while there was still ice cream left to photograph.)
Chocolate and Salty Peanut Butter Ice Cream (from the Joy the Baker cookbook)
For the ice cream:
1 c. sugar
1/3 c. cocoa
1/4 tsp. salt
3 tbsp. cornstarch
2 1/2 c. whole milk
3/4 c. heavy cream
3/4 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips (My cocoa is really dark, which I usually love. But in combination with the semi-sweet chocolate chips, I felt it was too much. If you plan to use dark cocoa, then I’d suggest using milk chocolate chips to balance it out.)
For the peanut butter swirl: (I plan to double this next time.)
1/2 c. peanut butter
1 tbsp. heavy cream
1 pinch salt (I’d suggest a fine salt. I used kosher and sometimes the peanut butter swirl was a little crunchy.)
1. In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar, cocoa, 1/4 tsp. salt, and cornstarch. In a medium saucepan, warm the milk over medium heat. Add the sugar mix and whisk to combine. Heat til the mix just begins to boil and thickens to a warm pudding consistency. Remove from the heat and pour through a fine mesh strainer. Stir in the 3/4 c. cream and the chocolate chips til melted and smooth. Place plastic wrap on the custard and refrigerate til chilled through.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the peanut butter, 1 tbsp. cream, and pinch of salt. Cover and set aside (at room temperature).
3. When the custard is completely cooled, churn according to your ice cream maker’s instructions. When it’s done churning, spoon it into a freezer-friendly container. Drizzle the peanut butter mix on top and gently swirl it. (To avoid overworking it, I layered them together then swirled it gently.) Freeze several hours before serving.
I hope this gets your mouth watering. Talk to you again soon!