Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Jalapenos Stuffed with Chorizo and Smoked Gouda

I love appetizers and finger foods. I think this is why tapas restaurants are some of my favorite places to go. I like to sample lots of different flavors and don't like to commit myself to a large portion of anything. That's one of the many reasons I like hosting parties like my Oscar party, because it gives me an excuse to make a variety of small dishes. These poppers definitely fit the bill.

In choosing to make them, I did discover two important things:

1) Despite my complaints about my Giant and their less than stellar selection of many foods, they do have a very extensive Latino section, which boasted 4 different types of chorizo. This became a tough decision, but I opted for the traditional hot Mexican chorizo. I think it was a nice choice in that the supreme spicyness of the sausage was balanced out by the smokeyness of the cheese.

2) Speaking of heat...never again will I work with jalapenos without using some sort of gloves. My hands were still burning the next morning after countless washings. Do yourself a favor and wear disposable gloves if you're going to work with jalapenos for an extended period of time. I was petrified to touch my face for a good 24 hours and elected to wear glasses the next day. This probably could have been avoided with gloves.

Jalapenos Stuffed with Chorizo and Smoked Gouda (makes 24 poppers)

  • 2 links Mexican chorizo, casings removed
  • 1/2 pound smoked gouda, shredded
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped red onions
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup cream cheese
  • 3 TB sour cream
  • 1 TB hot sauce (recommended: Frank's Red Hot)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 12 large jalapeno peppers, stemmed, seeded and halved

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Brown chorizo in a skillet over medium-high heat, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and place into a large mixing bowl. Add the cheese, red onion, egg, cream cheese, sour cream, hot sauce, and salt and pepper, to taste.

Press into jalapeno halves and assemble on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake until golden and bubbly, about 20 minutes.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Chocolate Stout Cupcakes-Oscars style

I am a big fan of cooking with beer. I think it adds a bit of bite to a lot of dishes, and it's something I always have in my fridge. Tonight I am hosting an Oscars party with a few friends and while there will be booze at the party, there will also be booze in one of the dishes. I'll post the rest of the recipes later this week, but to whet your appetite I'm also making buffalo cheesey bread and chorizo and smoked gouda stuffed jalapenos. Yep, I'm going all out. The Oscars is the only awards show I ever watch so I'll need the fuel!

I took this recipe for chocolate stout cupcakes and add my own Oscars-themed spin on it with concession candy. I picked up a few boxes of Reese's Pieces, Junior Mints and Whoppers and voila! Movie theme cupcakes. I'm pulling for The Artist to win for Best Picture tonight so many of these are black and honor of a beautiful film.

Chocolate Stout Cupcakes (makes 24 cupcakes)


  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa, plus more for dusting finished cupcakes
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups all-purposeflour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • Pinch fine salt
  • 1 bottle stout beer (recommended: Guinness)
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 1 TB vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened at room temperature
  • 3/4 to 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 (1-pound) box confectioners' sugar


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the cocoa, sugar, flour, baking soda, and salt.

In another large mixing bowl, combine the stout, melted butter, and vanilla. Beat in eggs, 1 at time. Mix in sour cream until thoroughly combined and smooth. Gradually mix the dry ingredients into the wet mixture.

Lightly grease 24 muffin tins. Divide the batter equally between muffin tins, filling each 3/4 full. Bake for about 12 minutes and then rotate the pans. Bake another 12 to 13 minutes until risen, nicely domed, and set in the middle but still soft and tender. Cool before turning out.

To make the icing:

In a medium bowl with a hand mixer, beat the cream cheese on medium speed until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the heavy cream. On low speed, slowly mix in the confectioners' sugar until incorporated and smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use. Icing can be made several hours ahead and kept covered and chilled. Top each cupcake with a heap of frosting and your favorite concession candy!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

A Full Fridge

A Full Fridge

Cooking as often as I do has several benefits.  I'm controlling what's going into my body and not relying on restaurants and other eateries to eat. This saves money and I'm convinced it's a lot healthier. However after cooking 2-3 times a week for several weeks in a row, a few things happen.

1) I run out of containers to put food into.

2) My freezer starts to look like this:

Since it's just me most nights, that makes for a lot of leftovers. While sometimes I cut recipes in half, a lot of the time it just doesn't make sense. So I have friends over for dinners on occasion. But even then, I still have a good amount of food left over. Not one to waste anything (I learned that from my grandmother), I freeze a lot of my food. It's like having my own personal Lean Cuisine production line. I can pull a container out for lunch each day and I only pick up essential fresh fruits and vegetables at the grocery store for the week. So if every so often I don't post to this blog more than once in a week, this is the reason why.

I'm having some friends over to watch the Oscars on Sunday so I'll be making some great appetizers. Be on the lookout for some movie treat recipes and other savory bits next week!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Sweet Potato Stuffed Shells

Despite most of my dishes on this blog, I do occasionally make something that does not include meat! (this is for all you vegetarian friends of mine). My friend Nick posted this to his blog ( back in January and I've been itching to make it for a while now. I've altered his recipe ever so slightly and was really happy with the results. I'm a relatively recent convert to sweet potatoes, and think this is one good way to try them out. Stuffed shells make for great leftovers and this recipe easily will serve 4-6 people. In other words, I'll have lunch for a week!

Sweet Potato Stuffed Shells (serves 4-6)

  • 2 large yams or sweet potatoes, boiled and mashed
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 fresh sage leaves, minced
  • 3 TB unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1 28 oz can tomato sauce
  • 6 oz mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 12 oz pasta shells, cooked al dente
  • Salt and pepper
  • Fresh chives (garnish)


Peel and cube yams and boil them in salted water until they are very tender, about 12-15 minutes. Drain and mash in a bowl.

Cook shells until al dente and then remove and drain shells.

Dice onions, sage, and garlic and saute in butter over medium heat until onions are soft, about 5-6 minutes. Add red pepper flakes and a pinch of salt.

Add onion mixture to mashed yams with cinnamon, greek yogurt, cream, and walnuts. Stir together and season with salt and pepper.

Add half of the tomato sauce to the bottom of a baking dish. I ended up having to use baking dish because I had a lot of shells. Working with one shell at a time, fill shell with a few spoonfuls of filling. Arrange stuffed shells in baking dish. Once the dish is full, top each shell with extra sauce and a shredded mozzarella.

Cover dish loosely with foil and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Then uncover and bake dish for another 15 minutes at 400 degrees. Serve shells garnished with fresh chopped chives.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Herb Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breasts

At my new office, there is a team weight loss program that many of my co-workers (and myself) signed up for. There are three teams in total and we're hoping that this inner-office competition will push for better results. So this of course will impact how I'm eating so you'll probably see some healthier meals in the coming weeks (at least that is the plan). This recipe is super easy and relatively healthy. I served it with steamed asparagus.

Herb Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breasts (serves 3-4, depending on the size of the breasts, I cut them in half)

  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 oz feta cheese (1/4 cup) crumbled into tiny pieces
  • 2 TB chopped fresh parsley (can use dried parsley, just use less)
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh oregano (or 1/4 tsp dried oregano leaves)
  • 1 TB olive oil
  • 1 14.5 oz can Italian style diced tomatoes (undrained)
  • 2 TB ripe olives
  • 2 tsp cornstarch

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Slice a 3 inch slit in meaty side of each breast to form a pocket.

In a small bowl, combine feta cheese, parlsey, oregano and oil. Mix well and spoon into each pocket. Place on ungreased baking dish.

In another small bowl, combine tomatoes, olives and cornstarch. Mix well. Cover the chicken with this mixture and bake for 35-40 minutes.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Cincinnati-Style Chicken Chili

It's no secret I'm a Pittsburgh girl and proud of my roots. What a lot of people don't know is that I spent four years living in Ohio for undergrad at the University of Dayton (Go Flyers!). Yes, I curse and pity Ohio sports teams, but I can say the people are some of the nicest (and maybe delusional...haha) I've ever known. Another thing that Ohio gets right is chili. While totally different from Texas chili, I've always been a fan of the sweet and spicy mix of Cinci chili. Now this is no Skyline, but it's still pretty damn good. With the cold weather this weekend, it was the perfect time for some comfort food.

Cincinnati-Style Chicken Chili (serves 4)

Rudy Flyer is a fan!
  • 1 lb uncooked ground chicken or turkey
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3 TB chili powder
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/8 tsp. ground red pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • one 14.5 oz can stewed tomatoes
  • one 8 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 TB red wine vinegar
  • 1 TB molasses
  • one 15 oz. can red kidney beans
  • Hot cooked spaghetti
  • Shredded cheddar for topping

In a 4 1/2 quart Dutch oven,c ook ground chicken or turkey, onion, and garlic over medium heat for 5-7 minutes or until chicken is brown. Drain off fat, if necessary.

Add chili powder, paprita, cumin, salt, cinnamon, cloves, ground red pepper, and bay leaf. Cook and stir for 3 minutes.

Stir in undrained stewed tomatoes, tomato sauce, water, red wine vinegar, and molasses. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover and simmer to desired consistency. Discard bay leaf.

In a medium saucepan heat undrained kidney beans and then drain. To serve, spoon the chicken mixture and beans over hot cooked spaghetti.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Smoked Paprika Roasted Salmon with Chive Pesto Fingerling Potatoes

So this meal came about in a roundabout way as I wouldn't normally put these two items together. Long story short, I found myself near a Whole Foods and like a moth to the flame, I was drawn in to Whole Paycheck (as I affectionately call it) for some divine foodie inspiration chock full of fresh herbs and produce I would never find in my neighborhood Giant.

The fish at Whole Foods is always stellar, so I picked up a sockeye salmon fillet. I also saw a small bag of fingerling potatoes and remembered a recipe that my friend Nick had on his blog. Seeing as it would be a long time before I could afford another trip back to Whole Foods, I decided to make this dish as well. The one really awesome (and somewhat cost effective) item at Whole Foods is the raw nut bar where you can buy by the ounce. This comes particularly in handy when buying an expensive item that I would need very little of for this recipe...pine nuts. So I took my overpriced but highly tasty groceries home and made this great meal for myself.

Smoked Paprika Roasted Salmon  (serves 4)

  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 2 TB olive oil
  • 2 TB thyme
  • 1 pound of salmon fillets
  • 1 TB brown sugar
  • 1TB smoked paprika
  • 1tsp saigon cinnamon
  • 1 tsp grated orange peel
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

Mix orange juice, 2 TB oil and 1 tsp of thyme in small bowl. Place salmon in large glass dish. Add marinade, turn to coat well. Cover, refrigerate for 30 minutes or longer.

Mix sugar, smoked paprika, cinnamon, orange peel, remaining 1 tsp of thyme and sea salt in small bowl. remove salmon from marinade. Place salmon in greased foil lined baking pan. Discard any remaining marinade. Rub top of salmon evenly with smoked paprika mixture.

Roast salmon in preheated 400 degree oven 10-15 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork.

Chive Pesto Fingerling Potatoes (Serves 4)


1 1/2 pounds fingerling potatoes
3 TB olive oil
1/2 Cup fresh chives, chopped
1/2 Cup fresh flat leaf parsley
2 TB pine nuts
1 large garlic clove
1/2 Cup olive oil
1 TB lemon juice


To prep potatoes, cut in half lengthwise and toss with 1 TB olive oil, salt and pepper. Lay potatoes on baking sheet at 425 degrees for 35 minutes, flipping every 10 minutes to allow for even cooking.

To make pesto, combine chives, parsley, pine nuts, garlic clove, and 2 TB olive oil in a food processor to blend until its a coarse paste. Once processed, add lemon juice and salt and pepper, to taste.

Once potatoes are done, toss with the pesto and serve.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Sticky Wings-Super Bowl Sunday Part Deux

I'm a happy camper this week. First off, the Patriots did not win the Super Bowl. Secondly, I tested the capacity of my tiny condo and discovered that I can seat 10 people around a TV for a sporting event. Lastly, my Super Bowl party was a great success! With great food and company (and some very tasty jalapeno margaritas courtesy of my favorite bartender) a good time was had by all. I've made these wings a few times before and they are always a hit. As an added bonus, someone from Buffalo who knows her chicken wings, admitted she was impressed by these sweet and spicy wings. My friend Nick who has an awesome food blog ( is where I found this recipe initially. Check out his site for some awesome recipes. I know I do on a regular basis!

Sticky Wings

3-4 pounds chicken wings, about 3 dozen

Dry Rub:
  • 1/4 Cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 TB chili powder
  • 2 TB finely ground coffee
  • 1 1/2 TB Kosher salt
  • 1 TB hot paprika
  • 1 TB onion powder
  • 1 TB garlic powder
  • 1 TB fresh ground pepper
  • 1 tsp dried thyme, crumble it up
 Sticky Sauce:
  • 1/2 Cup rice vinegar
  • 1 large shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 TB fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1/4 Cup sugar
  • 1-3 TB Sriracha hot chili sauce (depending on your spicy tastes)
  • 6 TB canola or vegetable oil
  • 1/4 Cup cilantro, chopped for garnish (optional)


Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Combine all of the dry rub ingredients in a bowl and dip each chicken wing into the rub. No need to be shy when it comes to piling the rub on, just make sure there is enough to cover all of the wings.

Bake the wings for 40 minutes, turning at the 20 minute mark with a pair of tongs.

In the meantime, combine the sticky sauce ingredients in a bowl and whisk until mixed. When the wings are almost done baking, heat the sauce in a large sauce pan over high heat for 5 minutes until sauce starts to thicken slightly. Then, place the wings into the pan, coating the wings with the sauce. Keep in heat for a minute or two and then remove. Place chopped cilantro on top for serving.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Super Bowl Sunday...An excuse to eat a lot of food.

Like many friends of mine, this Super Bowl Sunday I'll be eating my feelings. Feeling bad about my team not making it to the big game. Feeling bad about not starting my new running program this morning (there was cooking to do!) And after the amount of meat I plan to eat today, I'll be eyeing salads for the rest of the week.

I'm having a bunch of friends over for the game today and the menu includes some awesome chicken wings (recipe to follow later this week) and some sweet, meaty balls.  In fact, this recipe is one from ages ago, from a friend of my mom, and the instructions were vague at best. So here it goes...Janet's Meatballs.

Janet's Meatballs (makes a lot of balls)

Sweet, sweet meat.

Ingredients For meatballs:
  • 2.5 – 3 lbs lean ground beef
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1 tsp onion powder or garlic powder
For sauce:
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup tomato juice
  • 1 TB vinegar
  • 1 tsp worchestershire sauce
  • salt & pepper 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Meanwhile, combine meatball ingredients and form small balls.

Combine sauce ingredients, whisking to combine.

Pour sauce over meatballs in large baking dish. I used a disposable foil pan to minimize the mess, because the sugar in the sauce will cause it to stick.

Bake for 2 hours at 350. Cover for first 90 minutes or so and then uncover.

Seriously, it's that easy. And that good.

My attempt at an artsy ball shot. That's what she said.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

A Growing Appetite

Over some red wine and mini-grilled cheese sandwiches a new partnership was formed last week. My blog will be featured once a week on the Slate Properties blog, I'm hoping that this partnership will get more people in the kitchen and trying out new foods!

The partnership actually began in another capacity around this time last year when I started working with Andrew Turczyn of Slate Properties as part of my efforts to buy a condo. Six months of searching resulted in the purchase of my 550 square feet of paradise (which works for a small person, even with an oversized appetite). My new kitchen, while small, is still a vast improvement over where I used to cook which made turning around difficult and there was little counterspace to work with.

Andrew and I kicked off our new project with a fun "photo shoot" in my kitchen and I'm sure he'll be over for dinner in the near future. Not only did I gain a great new place, but a fabulous new friend.

With Super Bowl Sunday tomorrow, I better start getting all my ingredients ready for what will be another meatfest! Recipes to follow next week!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Baked Costa Rican-style Tilapia with Pineapple, Black Beans, and Rice

This week I started a new job and as anyone can tell you, the first week is always information overload and I came home exhausted and unable to put two sentences together, much less dinner. I could have easily just gone to Chipotle for a quick bite, but in my efforts to try and eat a bit healthier this week after bacon overload, I opted to make a light, easy meal. This recipe was one of my favorites from last year. The best part is the sweet rice, which made an excellent lunch the next day.

Baked Costa Rican-style Tilapia with Pineapple, Black Beans, and Rice (serves 4)

1 cup long-grain white rice
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 (5 to 7-ounce) tilapia fillets, rinsed and patted dry
  • 2 cups jarred or homemade tomato salsa
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups diced fresh pineapple
DirectionsCombine the rice and chicken broth in a pot over medium heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until the rice is tender and has absorbed all of the liquid, about 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the orange juice, lime juice, oil, 2 tablespoons of the cilantro, the garlic, and sugar; season with salt and pepper. Add the tilapia fillets to the marinade, turning to coat. Marinate in the refrigerator for 20 minutes, turning occasionally.

Stir together the cooked rice, salsa, beans, pineapple, and remaining 2 tablespoons of the cilantro in a 2 or 3-quart baking dish. Remove the tilapia from the marinade, reserve the marinade, and lay the fish fillets over the rice mixture, overlapping if necessary. Pour the reserved marinade over the fish. Bake until the fish flakes easily, is opaque, and cooked through, 25 to 30 minutes. Garnish with chopped cilantro before serving.