All Fruit Popsicles

Watermelon PopsicleIt is summer time. Days of 100 F degree weather are the norm here. The nice thing about summer is the abundance of fruit available. And I tend to buy more than we can eat before they go bad. Here is a great way to use some of your extra fruit up and a healthy alternative to store bought corn syrup and whatever else popsicles.  Plus, who doesn’t like a nice cold popsicle on a hot day? If you don’t have popsicle molds, you can use plastic cups and popsicles sticks with cling wrap to hold them in place. Feel free to switch up your ingredients. I just used what I had on hand, but there are tons of different combinations out there. This recipe yields 6.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 cups watermelon chunks
  • 2 strawberries, sliced
  • 1/2 nectarine, sliced
  • 1 kiwi, sliced
  • 1/4 cup blueberriesWatermelon Popsicle 2

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a blender, puree the watermelon chunks.
  2.  Watermelon Popsicle 1
  3. Fill 1/4 of your molds with watermelon puree.
  4. Add equal amounts of each fruit into the molds. Watermelon Popsicle 3
  5. Pour the rest of the watermelon puree to the fill line on each of the molds. Watermelon Popsicle 4
  6. Freeze your filled molds for 4 to 6 hours; overnight is best. Watermelon Popsicle

Vietnamese Style Chicken Wings

Vietnamese Wings 1Yes, once again I’m making chicken wings.  Most the Vietnamese chicken wing recipes I’ve seen call for fish sauce. As my son and I are allergic to most things seafood, I cannot use it as it is too strong.  So, believe it or not, that is why I am using Worcestershire sauce for the unami in this recipe. Thus, the reason why I call it Vietnamese “style.”  These wings are sweet, sticky and a little bit spicy. Good news is this recipe is quite simple, uses only a few ingredients, no oil frying required and done in less than 45 minutes.  For my vegetarian friends, maybe you can substitute fried or pan seared tofu as the sauce itself is quite tasty.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 1/2 pounds chicken wings
  • kosher salt
  • ground black pepper
  • garlic powder
  • 4 tablespoons sweet soy sauce Kecap Manis
  • 2-3 tablespoons Sambal Oelek Chili Paste (start with 2 tablespoons and add more to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • cilantro chopped for garnish
  • lime wedges (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 475 F degrees.
  2. For easier clean up, cover a baking sheet in foil or use a silicone mat as the sauce becomes quite sticky.
  3. Lay out the chicken wings in a single layer in prepared baking pan.
  4. Season the chicken wings on both sides using salt, pepper and garlic powder.
  5. Bake in oven for 25 minutes or until lightly browned or cooked through.
  6. While the chicken wings bake, prepare the sauce.
  7. In a small bowl or measuring cup, combine the sweet soy sauce, chili paste and Worcestershire sauce. Stir to mix well.
  8. When the chicken is fully cooked, transfer the wings to a large bowl. Add half the sauce and, using tongs, toss to thoroughly coat. Return the wings to the lined sheet pan and arrange in a single, even layer. Vietnamese Wings Tray
  9. Bake for an additional 6 to 8 minutes, or until browned. Remove from the oven. Top with the remaining sauce and sprinkle with chopped cilantro.
  10. Optional: Serve with a lime wedge. I like how the lime juice offsets the sweetness of the soy sauce. Vietnamese Wings 2

 

Black Forest Bundt Cake

IMG_6752I finally bought myself a bundt cake pan. Being a bundt pan novice, I didn’t realize I needed to spray the pan with baking spray oil so heavily.  My lesson was learned after 10% of the top of my first bundt cake stayed in the pan. Good thing I had enough ingredients to try again.  Otherwise, the bundt cake pan would have been put in the far back of a cupboard never to be seen again.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup strong brewed coffee (room temperature)
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

FILLING INGREDIENT:

  • 1/2 can (21 ounces) cherry pie filling (use remainder to serve on the side)

TOPPING INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons confectioners (powdered) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • sprinkles of your choice

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F degrees.
  2. Prepare your bundt pan by coating it heavily with baking spray or butter and flour.
  3. In a large bowl, mix the eggs, coffee, buttermilk, almond extract,  vanilla extract and sugar on medium speed for 1 minute.
  4. Sift into the bowl the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and kosher salt.
  5. Mix together on medium speed for 2 minutes. Batter will be thin.
  6. Top the batter with the cherry pie filling. Black Forest Bundt pan 2
  7. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  8. Cool for 15 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack to cool completely.IMG_6749 (2)
  9. Whip the heavy cream in a cold, chilled bowl until it starts to thicken.
  10. Then beat in confectioners sugar, almond and vanilla extract until the mixture begins to hold its shape.
  11. Top the bundt cake with the whipped topping and add sprinkles. If you have maraschino cherries add those too. I didn’t have enough to decorate my cake though.
  12. Serve the extra whipped topping and cherry pie filling on the side. Your guests will be pleased! Black Forest Bundt 2

Mexican Cornbread Casserole

Mexican Cornbread Casserole platedHappy Cinco de Mayo! This recipe is like a mash up of my Mexican Casserole and a tamale pie recipe I’ve tried in the past. And for my fellow home cooks who like quick recipes, the 35 minutes baking time is the longest you have to wait.  I love shortcuts, so if you do not have all the required spices in your cupboards you can also use a packet of taco seasoning. Since there is only two of us at home to eat this, I used half the meat and only one box of the Jiffy cornbread mix and an 8×8 baking pan. Otherwise I used the same amount of all the other ingredients. For my vegetarian friends, omit the ground beef and add pinto beans.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 (8.5 ounce) boxes Jiffy cornbread mix
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 cups grated Mexican cheese blend; separated into 1/2 cup and 1 cup
  • 1 (4 ounce) can diced green chilies (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can black beans (15 ounce)
  • 1 cup corn kernels
  • 1 can (2.25 ounces) sliced black olives
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 can (10 ounce) Ro-Tel Diced Tomatoes and Green Chiles
  • 1 1/2 cup chunky salsa

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F degrees. Meanwhile in a large bowl, prepare Jiffy cornbread mix by combining mix, eggs and milk. Stir well then add 1/2 cup grated Mexican cheese blend. Set aside. (If you like some extra spice, add a small can of diced green chilies to the cornbread mixture.)
  2. In a skillet add olive oil and cook ground beef over medium high heat until cooked through. Drain any grease. Add onions and garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes until onions are tender.
  3. Add remaining ingredients to the meat mixture in skillet. Mix well and remove from heat.
  4. In a 9X13 baking pan, add meat and vegetable mixture. Top with 1 cup grated Mexican blend cheese.
  5. Add prepared cornbread mixture on top of cheese layer. Be sure to spread out evenly.
  6. Bake in oven for 33-35 minutes or until cornbread turns golden.  Enjoy with your favorite beverage.

Mexican Cornbread Casserole

Asparagus Beef

Asparagus BeefWho needs take-out when you can make it yourself? I’m always finding myself looking at various dishes at restaurants thinking I could probably make it. And if you have been following my blog, you know I’m all about quick and easy recipes.  For my vegetarian friends, just omit the beef and you should have a tasty vegetable stir fry dish.

MARINADE INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon light soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch

INGREDIENTS:

  • 12 ounce sirloin or flank steak, sliced into thin strips
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil for cooking, separated into 2 tablespoons and 1 tablespoon
  • 1 pound of asparagus, sliced in an angle into thirds
  • 1 small bell pepper, sliced into small strips
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 3 tablespoons Shaoxing wine (Chinese cooking wine)
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons light soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon oyster flavored sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • cornstarch slurry (2 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons water)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a bowl mix together marinade ingredients and add beef strips. Set aside.
  2. In another small bowl prepare the sauce by combining sugar, soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil, and the chicken stock. Mix well. Set aside.
  3. Heat up wok or skillet on high heat.  Swirl in 2 tablespoons vegetable oil to coat wok or skillet.
  4. Quickly spread the beef slices around the pan in an even layer. Let it sear for 15-30 seconds without stirring. Then give it a quick stir to sear the other side. The meat should be browned and no sticking should happen if you got the pan hot enough. Take the meat out of the pan and set aside.
  5. Keep the wok/skillet on high heat and add one tablespoon oil.
  6. Add in asparagus, bell peppers, onions and minced garlic.
  7. Stir for about 10 seconds and add the shaoxing wine. Cover, leaving the heat on high. Let it cook for 20 to 30 seconds. Remove the cover. Add the beef back to the pan.
  8. Add the sauce mixture. Stir vigorously and let the liquid bubble up.
  9. Stir up your cornstarch slurry to make sure the starch is dissolved and pour in about half of it. Stir for a few seconds. If the sauce is still thin, add more slurry. If it’s too thick, add a little water or stock.
  10. Plate with rice and serve immediately!

Easy Oven Baked Chicken Fajitas

chichen-fajitas-1Okay. I admit it. I am a picky eater. You will not find green bell peppers or yellow onions in my fajitas. I love every type of bell peppers except green. I will always substitute whenever a recipe calls for green bell peppers. As for red onions, they just happen to be my favorite type of onion. I always have them on hand. Don’t get me wrong, I like yellow onions too. But I ALWAYS have red onions. So feel free to substitute your favorite colors of the rainbow for this dish. You can even omit the chicken and use sliced portabella mushrooms and add other vegetables to make a fantastic vegetarian fajita.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 large onion sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper sliced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper sliced
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts sliced into strips
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons Mexican seasoning (chili powder, crushed red peppers, cumin, garlic powder, oregano and paprika)
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • tortillas and your favorite fajita sides for serving
  • lime wedges for garnish

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 F degrees.
  2. Place onions, peppers and chicken in 9×13 baking pan or dish.
  3. Drizzle and coat with olive oil. Sprinkle Mexican seasoning over dish. Top with lime juice. Toss to coat.
  4. Bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes, stirring halfway.
  5. Serve with tortillas and your favorite fajita sides. Add lime wedge to each plate for garnish and extra lime juice if wanted.

Makes 3-4 servings.

chichen-fajitas-2

Olive Oil Oatmeal Cookies with Dried Cranberries

olive-oil-oatmeal-cookieI know what you are thinking. “What?! Joann is not fattening us up with butter in her cookies like always?” No worries. I made these more out of curiosity rather than trying to be more health conscious. And actually, these were not bad at all. They turned out sweet, savory and moist all in one.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 4 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup dried cranberries (or dried cherries or raisins)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 F degrees. Meanwhile line baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
  2. Mix together olive oil, brown sugar, vanilla and eggs in a large mixing bowl until blended.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, cinnamon, salt, baking soda, cloves and nutmeg.
  4. Add flour mixture, rolled oats and dried cranberries to olive oil mixture.
  5. Drop in tablespoon balls on prepared baking sheets.
  6. Bake for 10-12 minutes.
  7. Let cool at least 3 minutes before transferring to baking rack to completely cool.
  8. This recipe yielded 32 cookies. Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.