Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Won Ton Tacos

Here's the thing. I'm different. Had you not figured that out by now? This whole 'trying to lose weight' thing ( for what, two years now eh?) gets the better of me and I fight with it constantly. But I found a recent comparison, that I'd like to share with you...and I promise it ties back into the weight loss thing. I've been wanting to try Zumba, so Husband finally gave in and got me a DVD (just one mind you, not the entire set *eye roll*) and I tried it, and I love it...but...not being of latin decent..my hips don't 'do' that. So I have to just do the best I can. These won ton tacos, kinda like me doing Zumba....they are trying to me mexican/latin (food), but they have to do it their own way. And just wait until you try them, you'll see that their way, it's ok. In fact, it's pretty awesome!

And it's easy b/c basically I'm just giving you a hint on how to make a different taco, I saw it somewhere/sometime and I'm finally getting around to it, so I unfortunately I can't link it back to the originator...but let me tell you one MORE thing before I get to the 'recipe'....won ton wrappers, seriously AMAZING all the things you can do with them.

So...turn your oven on 350 and get out your cupcake pan, muffin tin, or cup-tin (as I call it, hence my blog title in case you were ever wondering...there I am again doing things my own way)-and take the won ton wrappers and you're gonna take one and push it into the cup of the pan-(you can spray the pan with nonstick spray, but I didn't and they were fine)-now pop those little babies into the oven. But keep an eye on them, I'm gonna guess about 15 minutes or so,but you want them brown all over...not burnt brown, just brown...the point is for the whole little cup to be crispy.
See, easy. From here you can make your tacos however you want to! I've found the way we like our taco meat is 1lb of ground beef to 2 packets (Yes, two) of taco seasoning (one regular/low sodium, one cheesy taco-in the seasoning aisle at the market) you generally add some milk and water to the seasonings/meat and let it perk for awhile, then it's awesome.
Ours? Meat, lettuce, onions, cheese, sour cream, salsa, and black olives-for Husband and the kids...none for me thanks.

The crunch on these is amazing, and it's just a different way to do things. Very easily an appetizer for an upcoming SuperBowl party, or just a week night dinner.

Enjoy!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Ba-na-nas...

Everyone needs a go-to.
And this my Friends, is officially my go-to banana bread. Moist, dense, full of banana flavor, and a bit of a crunchy topping, yes...a resounding yes.
I've had/made my fair share of banana breads. Some just taste like spiced bread. Some are too crumbly. Some are too dry. This one though...it's my new favorite. And it makes two loaves...good for sharing. Or good for binging if you are really depressed.

Cream Cheese Banana Bread (adapted from bakeorbreak.com)

2 cups AP flour
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup salted butter-softened
1 pkg (8oz) cream cheese-softened
2 cups sugar (we keep organic cane sugar so that's what I used)
2 eggs
2 cups over-ripe bananas  (I had a bag of frozen bananas in the freezer, I left it out to thaw and that's what I used)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Topping-
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tablespoon ap flour
1/2 tablespoon white wheat flour
2  tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Oven at 350
TWO loaf pans-greased and ready-

Into the mixing bowl goes the butter and cream cheese-beat until creamy
add sugar-mix until light and fluffy
Add eggs, one at a time, mix until incorporated
Add flours, b-soda, and b-powder  (you can put those in a bowl before hand, but it just uses another bowl, so I usually skip that step)
Mix until combined
Add bananas-I left mine fairly chunky
Add vanilla-
Mix-
Divide batter evenly b/t the prepared  loaf pans

For the topping-combine all the ingredients in a small bowl, then top the two batter pans best you can-I found that mine was kinda clumpy, so I left it that way, and it works, I kinda swirled it a little, but again...it works.

Bake for approx 1 hour, or until a knife tests clean.
Remove from oven and cool-it's January, so I covered mine up and put them out on the deck..it's 20 degrees...it worked. :)

I think that the creaming method here and the addition of the cream cheese are the kickers. It gives the bread such a good texture! And w/just the addition of a tiny bit of cinnamon in the topping, it's not over-spiced and just lets the banana shine!

Ps....you are welcome for the Gwen Stefani earworm from the blog title.

Happy Friday the 13th! I won't be leaving my house today! :)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Chicken with Amogio (Spedini-ish)

Picture it, Sicily, 1924...
ok..not really..it's more like Kansas City, 2000...not quite as impressive..but wait...
so I'm out to dinner pre Prom and we go to this majorly italian restaurant.."what's good?" and I'm asking everyone-by dinner companions, the waiter, the table next to us. The most 'italian' I'd been was Olive Garden. Other than that it was the occassional lasagna or spaghetti at home and school. But this was the real deal. This was Cascone's.
I ended up getting the Chicken Spedini, and that's where the love affair began. Crispy breaded chicken, doused in this lemony, garlicky, sauce. Amazing.
When reps would ask what to cater to the Dr's office (a few years later) I'd answer with a sound "Get the Spedini from Cascone's". Sometimes they would bend to my will. And when they did it was a happy happy day.
I recently had the great pleasure of becoming friends with a bona fide Cascone, she's absolutely delightful, but totally zip-lipped about family recipes. So I had to come up with it on my own.
I was pretty intimidated by the rolling the chicken thing, so instead I did a milanese prep on it..but it's the sauce that makes it...try it for yourself!

The Chicken-the new edition of Martha Stewart magazine has a milanese article that is no-fail....so I went off of that. I butterflied two chicken breasts, and lightly pounded them out. Then dipped them in 2 eggs that were beaten, dreadged them in plain ol flour, coated them in italian bread crumbs (mine were homemade that I had in the freezer), then fried the chicken in about a 1/2 inch of vegetable oil (I would have used extra virgin olive, but I used it for the Amogio..you'll see) until golden brown. When I took them out I put them on a towel lined sheet (to soak out the excess oil) lightly salted them, and grated some fresh parm/reg over top-then put them on a baking sheet and into the oven at 200. This is more for warm keeping, not extra cooking.

Amogio (adapted from foodnetwork.uk)
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup veg oil
1/2 cup butter-melted
1/2 cup lemon juice
zest of one lemon
1 T italian seasoning
1 T dried parsley
dash of red pepper
1 heaping T minced garlic

add to a sauce pan, and bring to boil, 3 minutes. Remove from heat.

I served ours over some Lemon Pepper pasta. I put a couple spoonfuls of the amogio over the pasta, then the chicken, then some amogio on the chicken. This is a very flavorful sauce, so you only need about 2-3 Tablespoons full, versus the 1/4-1/2 cup (or more) of spaghetti sauce you might use. Don't make it swim, just splash it a little.

Totally amazing, and tastes so much like an actual pedigreed Italian person made it! :) We LOVED it! I hope you do too!!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Chicken Chilaquiles...sorta..

Chilaquiles- "chilla, keyless". I guess my brain translates anything quasi mexican in nature with crunchy chips mixed in. Works, right?
Easy, and easy to throw together!

Chicken Chilaquiles-
oven at 350, 8x8 baking pan greased (you don't want your chips and cheese sticking)

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts-cut/diced
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
1 can diced tomatoes
1T oil
1 container Philly cream Southwest sauce stuff (it's by the cream cheese at the grocery, I think it comes in about 5 different flavors)
shredded monterey jack cheese
shredded mozzarella cheese
tortilla chips

In a pan heat the oil then add the onions, cook until softened.
Add the chicken, cook, but don't brown-
add the can of tomatoes-with the juice. Let all that hang out for about 15 minutes on simmer. That will finish getting those onions all soft and cook the chicken through.
Then add the container of the Southwest Philly stuff...mix together.
Now in your 8x8 pan put down some of the chicken mix, top with 1-2 tablespoons of  both shredded cheeses. Now take a handful of tortilla chips and crush them over top.
Repeat layer.
I got 3 layers.
Into the oven for 20 minutes. It's all cooked, it just needs to get to know one another.

We really liked this! It was an afternoon meal that I threw together in no time and it was really tasty!