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Category: Recipes

  1. Friday, April 22

    Super Easy Chicken for Tacos That Tastes Awesome

    Hi friends. Today’s recipe isn’t really a recipe at all. I would say it’s more of a kitchen tip and one that I am loving. Today I’m going to tell you how to make super easy chicken for tacos that tastes so good. And when I say easy, I mean easy.

    Easy Chicken for Tacos that Tastes Great! from @janemaynard

    My cousin Jamie gave me this idea and I will be forever grateful to her. We were cooking up tacos one night and had chopped up a bunch of grilled chicken thighs. Jamie grabbed some leftover taco seasoning and tossed it in the bowl. GENIUS. The chicken turned out awesome and now I make it this for tacos all the time.

    Easy Chicken for Tacos that Tastes Great! | Penzeys Taco Seasoning | from @janemaynard

    You can use any taco seasoning, but my favorite is from Penzeys. Not only does this seasoning taste great, but it comes in a jar, so you can use as much or as little as you want. It’s so much better than a packet.

    Easy Chicken for Tacos that Tastes Great! from @janemaynard

    Also, I always grill my chicken and while this is super tasty with chicken breasts, chicken thighs are definitely my favorite. Just grill up the meat, cut into bitesized pieces, then toss with taco seasoning.

    This seasoned chicken is also great on salad or in a wrap. Basically it’s the best. You’re welcome.


  2. Wednesday, March 30

    PB&P Sandwiches (aka Pear Brie and Prosciutto Grilled Cheese) + A Tasty Giveaway!

    Forget PB&J. Or PB&H. Today I give you PB&P! And it has nothing to do with peanut butter. But it is a sandwich. And it has everything to do with savory pear sauce, brie and prosciutto. That’s right, pear brie prosciutto grilled cheese sandwiches…PB&P! And this sandwich is scrumptious.

    PB&P Sandwiches, aka Pear Brie Prosciutto Grilled Cheese Sandwiches from @janemaynard

    It’s springtime, so fruit is in the air. (Along with love, but that’s another blog post for another blog, really.) Libby’s hired me to develop a recipe using one of their canned fruits to celebrate the spring season. I immediately thought of canned pears (one of my favorite foods growing up!) and wanted to try out a fun savory twist. Enter the PB&P.

    PB&P Sandwiches, aka Pear Brie Prosciutto Grilled Cheese Sandwiches from @janemaynard

    I love brie in a melted state. And I love the combination of salty prosciutto with sweet fruit. And I love bread. So, basically, today’s sandwich is the love of my life. The sandwich itself is quite simple – bread, sliced brie and prosciutto with a smattering of savory pear sauce. The layers of flavor are delicious, and the texture is perfect. Oh, and by the way, the savory pear sauce is so good and beyond easy to make. And, even though this is a great sandwich for springtime, by using canned pears it not only simplifies the recipe, but you can make this any time of year!

    PB&P Sandwiches, aka Pear Brie Prosciutto Grilled Cheese Sandwiches from @janemaynardPB&P Sandwiches, aka Pear Brie Prosciutto Grilled Cheese Sandwiches from @janemaynard

    Before we get to the recipe, Libby’s has a giveaway for you today! One lucky winner will receive this super cute Crate & Barrel Six Bottle Spice Box along with an assortment of Libby’s Fruit, so you can get creative in the kitchen, too! Simply leave a comment on this post to enter! Comments must be posted by midnight PT on Wednesday, April 6, 2016 and prize must be shipped within the U.S.

    Savory Pear Sauce for PB&P Sandwiches, aka Pear Brie Prosciutto Grilled Cheese Sandwiches from @janemaynard - Libby's Spring Giveaway

    Good luck to all on the giveaway…and now for the recipes! Enjoy!

    PB&P Sandwiches (aka Pear Brie Prosciutto Grilled Cheese)
     
    Prep time
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    Author:
    Serves: 1
    Ingredients
    • 2 slices good quality bread
    • 1 thin slice prosciutto
    • About 4 thin slices brie
    • 1-2 tablespoons savory pear sauce (see recipe below)
    • Butter
    Instructions
    1. Heat a frying pan over medium heat about 5 minutes.
    2. While pan is heating up, spread pear sauce on 1 slice of bread.
    3. On the second slice of bread, place the brie slices evenly to cover then top with prosciutto.
    4. Put the sandwich together, then butter the top.
    5. Place sandwich butter side down in the pan, then butter the other side (that is now facing up).
    6. Cook sandwich over medium heat until both sides are golden brown.

     
    Savory Pear Sauce
     
    Prep time
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    Total time
     
    Author:
    Serves: 1 cup
    Ingredients
    • 1 15-ounce can Libby's pear halves, drained but reserving 2 tablespoons of the juice
    • 1 tablespoon thinly sliced onions (about ⅛ of a small onion)
    • 1 teaspoon olive oil
    • ⅛ teaspoon salt
    • ⅛ teaspoon ground ginger
    • Couple shakes of ground pepper
    Instructions
    1. Heat olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Once hot, add onions and cook until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.
    2. Add 2 tablespoons of the pear juice to the pan, then the drained pears. Break the pears up with a spatula a bit. Add salt, ginger and pepper and stir well.
    3. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to about medium-low, making sure to maintain a simmer. Simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally and smashing up the pears each time you stir. The final consistency should be saucy with lumps.

    This post was sponsored by Libby’s – I received compensation in exchange for work performed. Price per serving for the PB&P sandwich is approximately $2.00.


  3. Thursday, March 24

    Homemade Baked Samosas

    Today I’m sharing a recipe for flaky, baked homemade samosas that don’t really taste that much like real fried samosas and are a lot of work but are also super delicious. How’s that for selling a recipe?

    Homemade Baked Samosas using puff pastry from @janemaynard

    My friend Traci wanted to make homemade samosas and found two recipes for baked samosas, one from The Kitchn that uses egg roll wrappers and another on Food 52 that uses puff pastry. We got together one Friday morning and tried making the puff pastry version. It took hours. I don’t know, maybe our chatting made us slow, but I don’t think so. In the end it’s a recipe with several steps, one of which involves rolling out each samosa individually and stuffing them. It can get time consuming, especially if you are making a lot of samosas. Traci and I did have a lot of fun cooking the samosas, but it was indeed a labor of love.

    Homemade Baked Samosas using puff pastry from @janemaynard

    The good news is the samosas were really delicious. The texture was nothing at all like a fried samosa you would get at an Indian restaurant, but I suppose in the end that shouldn’t have come as a surprise. I mean, it’s puff pastry. And they weren’t fried. So, yeah, they’re gonna be different. But they are still really good and the filling is divine.

    Knowing that puff pastry samosas are best served fresh, Traci and I froze a bunch of the unbaked samosas for cooking later. When I baked a frozen batch they came out perfectly. So, if you do in fact decide to tackle this recipe, triple or quadruple it and then freeze a whole bunch of the samosas before baking. Although, if you just make one batch, then it won’t be as time consuming because you want be rolling out and stuffing as many. I’ll let you decide your own strategy!

    Homemade Baked Samosas using puff pastry from @janemaynard

    But the freezing-ahead aspect of this recipe is why I’m really excited about sharing it with you. Seriously, having homemade, yummy samosas just waiting in the freezer for you on a busy weeknight is pretty awesome.

    Homemade Baked Samosas using puff pastry from @janemaynard

    One more thing, the green cilantro sauce you see in the pictures. I threw that sauce together on the fly and it was almost good…but I added too much onion. As I was getting this post ready, I decided not to share what I did with you and looked up some actual Indian cilantro sauce recipes. This one on Fine Cooking looks like what I was trying to accomplish, so that’s what I will make next time.

    Homemade Baked Samosas
     
    Prep time
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    From Food 52, although I have rewritten the directions based on our experience with the recipe.
    Author:
    Serves: 20-25
    Ingredients
    • ½ pound potatoes, cut into large chunks
    • 2 large carrots, cut into chunks similar in size to the potatoes
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • half of a small yellow onion, chopped
    • 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced
    • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
    • ¾ cup frozen peas
    • ¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
    • ¼ cup fresh mint, chopped
    • ½ teaspoon garam masala
    • 1 serrano pepper, minced
    • salt (the original recipe calls for a pinch, but it definitely needs more than that...I think we did ½ teaspoon - measure ¼ teaspoon at a time to taste)
    • Two 15x10-inch frozen puff pastry sheets (the puff pastry at my store was smaller than that, more like 9x9 inches, so I needed two packages...be sure to check the size!), place in refrigerator to defrost a few hours before using
    • Flour
    • 1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water
    Instructions
    1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add potatoes and carrots and cook for 10 minutes, until tender.
    2. Drain water and mash potatoes and carrots together with a potato masher. Leave mixture slightly chunky.
    3. While potatoes and carrots are cooking, heat the olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add onion, ginger, and cumin. Cook for about 5 minutes, until onions are tender and translucent.
    4. Add onion mixture, peas, cilantro, mint, garam masala, serrano pepper and salt to the potato/carrot mixture. Mix well. As I mentioned in the ingredients list, add salt ¼ teaspoon at a time and taste the mixture to get the right amount.
    5. Preheat oven to 375° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
    6. On a lightly floured surface, unfold one of the sheets of cold puff pastry and cut it into 3x3-inch squares.
    7. Roll each square out with a rolling pin quite thin (this is where my directions diverge from the original recipe more significantly). Place a scoop of the mixture onto the center of the square, about 2 tablespoons. You do not want to overfill or the filling will escape when baking, so it might not seem like enough filling, but it is. Brush two sides of the square with water just along the edge. Fold the dough over the filling diagonally to form a triangle, folding the unbrushed edges onto the wet edges. Once the dough is folded over, gently squish the filling sideways to fill the samosa evenly. Using a fork, press down all along the two joined edges to seal both sides, then flip the samosa over and crimp the edges with a fork again.
    8. Place triangles on prepared baking sheet, leaving a bit of space between the samosas. Brush the tops with egg wash. At this point you can bake the samosas or place them in the freezer.
    9. If freezing: Place baking sheet with samosas in the freezer. If freezing you can fit more samosas on the tray than if you were baking them. Fully freeze, then transfer samosas to an airtight container or ziptop freezer bag. When ready to eat, follow baking directions below, adding 5-10 minutes to the cooking time.
    10. If baking: Bake 30 to 40 minutes, until golden brown.
    11. Cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to a cooling rack.
    12. Serve warm!

     


  4. Wednesday, February 24

    Southwestern Salmon Orzo Salad

    February is American Heart Month. To raise awareness, the Salmon Council reached out to see if I would create a salmon recipe, which I was most happy to do! So, today we have Southwestern Salmon Orzo Salad, and it is quite tasty, if I do say so myself.

    Southwestern Salmon Orzo Salad by @janemaynardSouthwestern Salmon Orzo Salad by @janemaynard

    Currently, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, accounting for every 1 in 4 deaths. While that sounds dire, the good news is that a healthy diet and lifestyle can significantly help fight heart disease. When I interviewed Lisa Oz last December, one of my biggest takeaways from our conversation was how her heart surgeon father was an early adopter of using diet to help his patients’ health, an approach that then influenced Dr. Oz (Lisa’s husband). It can be quite miraculous what nutritious eating can do for our bodies.

    Southwestern Salmon Orzo Salad by @janemaynardSouthwestern Salmon Orzo Salad by @janemaynardSouthwestern Salmon Orzo Salad by @janemaynard

    Today’s post is specifically focused on heart-friendly salmon. Salmon is filled with omega-3 fatty acids, and it is recommended that we eat food high in omega-3s at least twice a week. But in addition to those omega-3s, salmon is also rich in protein and Vitamin D, a highly nutritious combination that can help lower cholesterol and reduce your risk of dying of a heart attack by up to one-third.

    Southwestern Salmon Orzo Salad by @janemaynardSouthwestern Salmon Orzo Salad by @janemaynard

    The Salmon Council challenged me to incorporate DeLallo’s organic whole grain orzo into my recipe. I immediately thought of an orzo salad that my mother-in-law makes that has a Greek flavor to it. I decided to change things up and give the salad a southwestern flare, using a cilantro dressing and adding some heat to the salmon. I have to admit that I’m not normally a huge fan of whole grain pastas strictly for taste reasons, but this whole grain orzo was awesome – just as delicious as regular orzo but with a nice nutritional boost. And the salad overall is sooooo good. The spicy sweet salmon pairs beautifully with the fresh-tasting cilantro dressing and the crunchy veggies. And, if you want to add just a bit of cheese, queso fresca or cotija Mexican cheeses are PERFECT in this salad. If you’re trying to cut back on cheese, though, the salad is just as good without it!

    Southwestern Salmon Orzo Salad by @janemaynard

    A note about the salmon – as much as I loved it in the orzo salad, it was also really delicious all by itself. The preparation is super simple, making it a great meal on its own. 

    Southwestern Salmon Orzo Salad by @janemaynard

    Southwestern Salmon Orzo Salad
     
    Author:
    Ingredients
    • 8 ounces uncooked whole grain DeLallo orzo
    • 2 tablespoons salt
    • 1 to 1-1/2 pound salmon filet, skin on
    • 1 small red bell pepper, chopped
    • ½ cup black beans, drained and rinsed
    • ½ cup canned corn
    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • ¼ teaspoon cumin
    • ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
    • 2 cloves minced fresh garlic
    • 8 ounces salsa verde
    • ¼ cup chopped cilantro
    • ¼ cup sour cream
    • ¼ cup water
    • About 3 ounces queso fresca or cotija cheese, crumbled (optional)
    Instructions
    1. Add 2 tablespoons salt to a large pot of water. Bring to a boil.
    2. Add orzo. Return to boil then cook for 9 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain and set aside.
    3. Preheat outdoor grill to medium heat, so internal temperature of grill reaches 500º F.
    4. While the pasta is cooking, rinse and dry the salmon filet. Brush both sides of the salmon filet with olive oil.
    5. Place skin down on a large piece of foil, folding up the sides, leaving a couple inches between the edge of the salmon and the edge of the foil all around the filet.
    6. Mix together the brown sugar, ½ teaspoon salt, cumin, cayenne pepper and garlic. Spread evenly on the top of the salmon filet. Place salmon on the foil on the grill and cook with the lid closed for 10-15 minutes, until salmon is fairly easy to flake apart. You may see some white stuff as well. Remove from grill.
    7. Remove salmon from the skin in very large pieces. Set aside.
    8. In a large bowl mix together the cooked orzo, bell pepper, black beans, corn.
    9. Add salsa verde, chopped cilantro, sour cream and water to a blender and blend well.
    10. Add ½ cup of the green sauce you just made to the orzo mixture and stir well. Add salmon pieces and stir carefully.
    11. Serve with extra green sauce and top with queso fresca/cotija cheese if using.
    12. Serve immediately or chilled.

    To learn more about salmon, visit the Hooked on Salmon Facebook page and get salmon recipe inspiration on Hooked on Salmon’s Pinterest board. To find out more about DeLallo’s products, click here to visit the DeLallo website!

    This post is sponsored by the Salmon Council. DeLallo provided me with the orzo I used in this recipe.


  5. Thursday, February 18

    Curry in a Hurry!

    My dear friend Michelle had the opportunity to live in Hyderabad, India for a year and is, therefore, well versed in Indian cuisine. One day when we were hanging out, she was ranting and raving about curry powder. Her complaint is that Americans think that curry powder makes curry, when in fact curry powder totally isn’t Indian. Sure enough, if you look up curry powder on Wikipedia you’ll see this: “Curry powder and the contemporary English use of the word “curry” are Western inventions and do not reflect any specific South Asian food.” Michelle explained that “curry” basically means a saucy dish with tons of spices, and there are lots of different kinds of curries in India, and that none of them have curry powder.

    Curry in a Hurry recipe from @janemaynard

    Basically, curry powder isn’t Indian. The end.

    Curry in a Hurry recipe from @janemaynard

    Michelle was feeling bad, however, once she realized that there is a recipe she has from an Indian cookbook that actually does use curry powder. It’s called Curry in a Hurry and it’s her favorite non-Indian Indian food recipe. I’ve had this recipe sitting in my “to-try” pile for years and we finally made it last week! It was very good, even if it is fake curry. 😉 Nate commented that it actually tastes more like a North African dish, which is kind of true. Whatever it is, it’s delicious. All of my kids liked it, too, especially my 8-year-old Anna. (Here’s a link to the cookbook the recipe came from originally – Michelle likes this book a lot!)

    Curry in a Hurry recipe from @janemaynard

    As for which curry powder to use for this recipe, just use whatever you find at the store. I used McCormick’s curry powder. Michelle said that since she first shared the recipe with me, she has discovered Penzey’s curry powders and she likes them better than the standard grocery store versions. The Sweet Curry Powder is milder and Michelle says her kids really like that one, but her favorite is the Maharajah Curry Powder, which has really good flavor.

    Curry in a Hurry recipe from @janemaynard

    Thank you, Michelle, for giving us a way to use curry powder that doesn’t make you want to yell at us. 😉

    Curry in a Hurry
     
    Prep time
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    Total time
     
    Originally from "Indian Home Cooking" by Suvir Saran (I modified the measurements slightly on a few things and wrote the directions in my own words.)
    Author:
    Ingredients
    • 1½ tablespoons oil
    • ½ of a small onion, chopped
    • 5 teaspoons curry powder
    • ½ teaspoon garam masala
    • 3 cloves garlic, minced
    • 3 dried red chilies (I just used 1 so it wouldn't be too spicy for my kids)
    • 1 can unsweetened coconut milk
    • 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
    • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
    • 4 chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces (original recipe was 2 chicken breasts, but I added more)
    • 3-5 cups fresh spinach
    Instructions
    1. Heat oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add onion and cook until translucent.
    2. Add curry powder, garam masala, garlic and red chilies. Stir for one minute.
    3. Add coconut milk, tomatoes, tomato paste and simmer until thickens, stirring regularly.
    4. Add chicken; simmer until chicken is fully cooked. (Alternatively, you can add already cooked chicken if you have it, just cook until heated through.)
    5. Add spinach, stir and cook until spinach as wilted.
    6. Serve over rice.

     


  6. Tuesday, February 2

    Spicy Layered Chocolate Mousse Squares

    Last week I traveled to Minneapolis to visit the General Mills headquarters, where I had the chance to meet with the director of sustainability at General Mills as well as participate in a small group Q&A with the president of cereal (at which point I asked waaaay too many questions). It was a great visit and I learned a lot, much of which I will share later. But today I have to tell you about the birth of Spicy Layered Chocolate Mousse Squares.

    Recipe for Spicy Layered Chocolate Mousse Squares from @janemaynard

    During the visit they had all the visiting food bloggers participate in a recipe challenge with Justin Warner (winner of Next Food Network Star Season 8). We had to create a recipe within 1 hour incorporating a General Mills cereal along with at least 2 items from the list of natural ingredients used for flavoring and coloring their cereals. (Over 75% of Big G cereals no longer use artificial colors or flavors and they are on track for almost 100% within the year.)

    Recipe for Spicy Layered Chocolate Mousse Squares from @janemaynardMe being all serious about the challenge that wasn’t even being judged.

    I have zero desire to ever be on a competitive cooking TV show, so when they told us what we were going to be doing, I was not excited. But I put my thinking cap on and got to work. With General Mills professional cook Mary Kaye at my side (I wanted to take her home with me!), I created the dessert I’m sharing with you today. I decided to use Cocoa Puffs, cayenne pepper, cinnamon and cocoa powder.

    Recipe for Spicy Layered Chocolate Mousse Squares from @janemaynardJustin giving his stamp of approval for the chocolate mousse technique I stole from Nigella Lawson; Mary Kaye and I writing up the recipe

    I ended up with a delicious layered dessert using the following layers. Layer 1: Cocoa Puffs crust with a hint of cinnamon (the crust had great flavor). Layer 2: Sweetened, whipped cream cheese. Layer 3: Chocolate mousse spiced with cayenne pepper. Layer 4: Unsweetened whipped cream, sprinkled lightly with cocoa powder and cayenne pepper. The final product tasted great, with a subtle heat that builds over time.The richness of the chocolate and the spice of the cayenne is counterbalanced by the almost sour flavor of the cream cheese, and all that creaminess goes perfectly with the crunchy crust. Plus, the layers look really pretty on the serving plate.

    Recipe for Spicy Layered Chocolate Mousse Squares from @janemaynard

    I made the recipe again last night just to be sure I had all the measurements where I wanted them. Once again I enjoyed it thoroughly. Nate had a chance to sample it as well and said that it is really good, but that I might have hyped it up too much. I told him it was a hit in Minnesota so whatever.

    So, here you go! Spicy Layered Chocolate Mousse Squares! Maybe I should put cooking competition shows on my to-do list after all. Actually, no. Never going to happen. One hour with a helper and no judges was already too much pressure! 😉 (Side note: I totally stole the chocolate mousse technique from Nigella Lawson and it works beautifully. Click here for Nigella’s instant chocolate mousse recipe and save it to your recipe box.)

    Recipe for Spicy Layered Chocolate Mousse Squares from @janemaynard

    One more thing! We had the opportunity to work in the photo studio to photograph our recipes. We had a professional prop stylist, food stylists and photographers all there to help, along with more beautiful props than you can imagine. This is the first time I shot a recipe with artificial light. Until I have this set up in my house, I probably won’t do it again…but it sure was fun!

    Spicy Layered Chocolate Mousse Squares | General Mills Photography StudioMe acting all serious again.

    Spicy Layered Chocolate Mousse Squares
     
    Prep time
    Total time
     
    Author:
    Serves: 16
    Ingredients
    • 3 cups Cocoa Puffs
    • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
    • 8 tablespoons butter, divided, softened to room temperature
    • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
    • 2 tablespoons sugar
    • 1 pint (2 cups) heavy whipping cream
    • 1½ teaspoons vanilla, divided
    • 1½ cups mini marshmallows
    • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
    • 2 tablespoons hot water
    • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, plus more for dusting
    • cocoa powder for dusting
    Instructions
    1. Preheat oven to 350º F.
    2. Place 3 cups Cocoa Puffs in a zip-top plastic bag. Using a rolling pin, crush the cereal until it is in crumbs, with no large pieces remaining. Pour crushed cereal into a medium mixing bowl.
    3. Add 6 tablespoons of the butter and 1 teaspoon cinnamon to the cereal, combine well with a fork or pastry blender.
    4. Press mixture firmly and evenly into the bottom of an 8" x 8" baking dish. If crust is sticking to your hands, wet your fingers lightly with water.
    5. Bake for 5-7 minutes. Remove from oven and set on counter to cool completely. While the crust is baking and cooling, make the cream cheese, chocolate mousse and whipped cream layers as described below.
    6. For chocolate mousse layer: In a heavy medium saucepan, melt bittersweet chocolate, 2 tablespoons of butter and 2 tablespoons of hot water over medium-low heat. Once melted, add the mini marshmallows and cook until marshmallows are completely melted. Remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes.
    7. While chocolate is cooling, in a medium mixing bowl, mix together ½ cup of the cream, ½ teaspoon of the vanilla and ¼ teaspoon of the cayenne pepper. Whip with a hand mixer until stiff peaks form.
    8. Fold chocolate mixture into the whipped cream, carefully mixing until there are no more white streaks.
    9. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for 30 minutes (not longer). If you are still prepping other layers at the 30 minute mark, remove the mousse from the fridge and set aside until ready to assemble the dessert.
    10. For the cream cheese layer: Using a hand mixer, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, ½ cup of the cream and 1 teaspoon of the vanilla. Start out at low speed until ingredients are mixed evenly together, then slowly increase speed to medium-high. Beat for about 1 minute, until very well blended. Set aside until ready to assemble dessert. Do not refrigerate before assembling - this will make it easier to spread.
    11. For the whipped cream layer: Beat 1 cup of the whipped cream in a large mixing bowl until thick but still spreadable. You do not want stiff peaks to form, but it should be thicker than soft peaks.
    12. To assemble the dessert: Once the crust is completely cooled, spread the cream cheese layer first directly on the crust, spreading evenly. Next add the chocolate mousse layer, spooning the mousse onto the cream cheese layer in several spoonfuls around the dish, then carefully spreading to all the edges. Finish with the straight whipped cream, spreading evenly on top and using a frosting spreader or knife to smooth out the top.
    13. To dust the dessert with cocoa and cayenne: Using a mesh sieve, over the sink spoon some cocoa powder into the sieve carefully. Hold the sieve over the dessert and tap it with a finger to sprinkle a thin layer of cocoa powder over the entire top surface. Repeat the process with cayenne pepper, making sure to sprinkle just a very light layer.
    14. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Serve cut into 16 squares.

     


  7. Thursday, January 21

    This Week for Dinner Podcast #21: Meredith Walker

    This Week for Dinner Podcast #21: Meredith Walker, Co-Founder & Executive Director of Amy Poehler's Smart Girls

    Today’s guest on the show is Meredith Walker. I met Meredith last year when I traveled with her to Malawi with ONE and Heifer International. After a week of truly life-changing travel together we are bonded for life! In addition to Meredith being completely lovable and someone I can laugh with for hours on end, she is also the co-founder and executive director of Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls, a website that Meredith started with her best friend Amy Poehler with the goal to empower girls. Previous to Smart Girls Meredith worked as the head of the talent department at Saturday Night Live, where she booked the guests and pretty much met everyone. Meredith began her career in television, however, working under the tutelage of respected journalist Linda Ellerbee on Nick News. The show won a Peabody and several Emmys while Meredith produced there, but the best part of her job at Nickelodeon was interviewing kids all over the country with interesting stories to tell, creating the foundation for her interest in the lives of young people.

    Meredith is the best and I feel lucky to count her as a friend. I am so happy she hung out with me on the podcast, especially since she was so pumped to share her favorite recipe with us all, as well as a few kitchen tips!

    Shownotes:

    Recipe for Joel Mozersky's French Onion Meatballs from Meredith WalkerPhoto of Joel’s Meatballs from Meredith

    French Onion Meatballs
     
    Recipe for French Onion Meatballs, as created by Joel Mozersky of Joel Mozersky Design and friend of Meredith Walker
    Author:
    Ingredients
    • Onion Mixture:
    • 4 sweet white onions, halved, and sliced very thin
    • 2 tablespoons butter
    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • 4 cups chicken stock
    • 1½ teaspoons fresh thyme
    • ½ bottle white wine - I used chardonnay
    • Meatballs:
    • 2 pounds ground chicken (breast or thighs or both)
    • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
    • 3 cloves crushed garlic
    • 1 handful of basil, minced
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 handful of chopped garlic chives
    • salt and pepper to taste
    • olive oil for frying
    • Topping:
    • ¾ cup Comte cheese
    • ¾ cup Gruyere cheese
    • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese
    • garlic chives
    • Sourdough bread
    Instructions
    1. Chop the onions very thin. Put the butter and oil in a stock pot on medium low heat. Add the onions and thyme, and cook them down until translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the wine and cook for 10 more minutes. Add the chicken stock, and let simmer on low until the liquid concentrates- about 20 minutes to 3 hours- the longer it simmers, the better it gets. You want it to be a somewhat thick soup consistency.
    2. While the soup is cooking down, combine all of the meatball ingredients in a bowl. Then form the meat into meatballs, a little larger than a golf ball. They might be a little wet, but they should stick together well enough to form. Heat some olive oil in a cast iron skillet on medium-high heat. Fry the meatballs on all sides until they have crispy edges and are cooked through- about 5 minutes per side. When they are cooked, but them in the pot with the onions and let them simmer for about 5 minutes.
    3. Transfer about half of the contents of the pot with the meatballs into a casserole dish. There should be liquid underneath and between the meatballs, and the onions as well.
    4. Cut up slices of sourdough bread. Grill or toast bread with a little olive oil on it. Put it on top of the meatballs. Then top with the cheeses and garlic chives.
    5. Broil until the cheese melts, serve in shallow bowls with crusty bread.
    6. Serve the rest of the soup on the side

    It’s easy to listen to the show!

    • Via the web: Just click play below!
    • Via an app: For iPhone and iPad, subscribe to the This Week for Dinner Podcast on iTunes and listen to it through the purple Podcasts app. For Android devices, use the Stitcher, Podcast Addict or Pocket Casts apps. In all cases, launch the app, then search for This Week for Dinner Podcast. The benefit of using an app: once downloaded, you can listen to the show without an Internet connection.

     Other Stuff!

     


  8. Wednesday, January 20

    Pork and Udon Noodle Soup, a.k.a. Plastic Noodle Soup

    My sister-in-law Cora is a great cook and also a great discoverer of recipes. When she texts me about a recipe, I always follow through and make it. I have yet to be disappointed.

    Recipe for Pork and Udon Noodle Soup from @janemaynard

    The latest Cora recipe was this Pork and Udon Soup found on the Food Network website. She had made a few modifications, sent me the link with her notes, and told me that my nephew ate three bowls. Of course I had to try it!

    Recipe for Pork and Udon Noodle Soup from @janemaynardThem’s the plastic noodles right there.

    I’ve had the soup on my menu for two weeks and today I finally made it. And it was delicious. Anna calls it Plastic Noodle Soup. I like the name and will be calling it that from now on. My kids honestly didn’t love the plastic, I mean udon, noodles, so I may try using ramen noodles next time. But they did love the pork, the veggies and the broth very much. Owen never eats the broth but today he did! (Small victories.)

    Recipe for Pork and Udon Noodle Soup from @janemaynard

    If you want the original recipe, click here. Cora and I both felt the measurements were way off for some of the ingredients and we also adjusted the directions. So, you know, I’d follow the recipe below if I were you. 😉

    Recipe for Pork and Udon Noodle Soup from @janemaynard

    Pork and Udon Noodle Soup, a.k.a. Plastic Noodle Soup
     
    Prep time
    Cook time
    Total time
     
    Author:
    Serves: 8-10
    Ingredients
    • For the roasted pork:
    • 1 2-pound pork shoulder
    • 3 tablespoons olive oil
    • 4 garlic cloves, minced
    • Kosher salt and pepper
    • Alternatively: In a pinch, you can use Aidells Teriyaki Pineapple meatballs, about half a package (Cora used the meatballs and said it was good but the roasted pork is probably better)
    • For the soup:
    • 4 tablespoons canola oil, divided
    • 2 medium carrots, chopped (my carrots were pretty skinny, I used 4 carrots)
    • ½ of a small onion, chopped
    • 1½ tablespoons fresh ginger (about 4 inches of root), minced using a zester
    • 4 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 habanero, seeded and chopped (optional)
    • 2 cups sliced mushrooms
    • 2 cups cabbage, chopped
    • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
    • 2 tablespoons honey
    • 8 cups chicken stock
    • ~1/2 teaspoon salt
    • ~3 cups of the roasted pork, shredded
    • 2 or 3 7-ounce packages udon noodles (each package is enough for ~4 servings; toss the flavor packet)
    • Fresh cilantro, chopped, for garnish
    • Bean sprouts, for garnish
    • Lime wedges, for garnish
    • Sriracha sauce, for garnish
    Instructions
    1. To roast the pork: Preheat oven to 425º F. In a small bowl mix 4 tablespoons olive oil with 4 minced garlic cloves. Place the pork shoulder in a roasting pan, preferably with a rack in the bottom. Brush the garlic oil on all sides, then sprinkle all sides evenly with kosher salt and pepper. Roast for 20 minutes then reduce heat to 325º F and cook until an instant read thermometer inserted in the center of the pork reads 185º F, which will take a few hours. Remove from oven and let rest for 30 minutes. Shred and set aside.
    2. To make the soup: Prep the onion, carrots, ginger, garlic, chile (if using), mushrooms and cabbage before you start to cook.
    3. Heat 2 tablespoons of canola oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Once heated add the onions and carrots. Cook until they start to brown. If pan seems too hot while the onions and carrots cook, adjust heat to medium.
    4. Reduce heat to medium (if you haven't already) then add the ginger and garlic. Cook for 1 minute.
    5. Add 2 tablespoons canola oil, then add the mushrooms and cabbage. Stir in the soy sauce, then add the chicken stock. Cook for about 10 minutes. At this point taste the soup and see if it needs additional salt. I added ½ teaspoon of salt at this point.
    6. In a separate small pot, bring about 2 cups of water to a boil. Cook udon noodles for 2 minutes then drain. Divide noodles into 4 bowls.
    7. Add shredded pork (or meatballs, if using) to the soup and cook for a few minutes, just until meat is heated. Fill each bowl with soup.
    8. Top with cilantro, bean sprouts, lime juice. Cora and I leave the habanero out of the soup so the kids can eat it, then use Sriracha to add heat to our own individual servings.
    Notes
    My kids didn't love the udon noodles. I think ramen noodles would be equally as delicious in this soup. 1 package of ramen (without the flavor packet) would probably be enough for the entire pot of soup.
    It is best to serve and store the noodles separate from the soup. You could in theory cook the noodles right in the soup. Cora said she stored the noodles in the soup for leftovers and they were okay, but it was definitely better keeping them separate.

     


  9. Wednesday, January 13

    Easy Ladybug Cupcakes

    Today I wanted to share the easy ladybug cupcakes I made for Cate’s birthday. One of my “things” as a mom is making fun birthday cakes for my kids, but this year Anna simply wanted a cake made out of donuts and Cate wanted chocolate cupcakes with vanilla icing. While I was a little disappointed to not be making more elaborate cakes, I will admit it was a nice break, especially one week before Christmas.

    Quick tutorial for easy ladybug cupcakes from @janemaynard

    Then, the day of her birthday, Cate informed me that she wanted ladybug cupcakes. I was like, “Uh, what?” I was completely unprepared, but really wanted to come through for her. Luckily I had some red cupcake liners and a pack of candy eyes in the cabinet and was able to pull these off!

    Quick tutorial for easy ladybug cupcakes from @janemaynard

    These ladybug cupcakes are seriously EASY.

    • Cook the cupcakes in red or black cupcake papers.
    • Make a batch of buttercream frosting. Color about 2/3 of it with red food coloring (you’ll need a lot of food color!). Color the rest of the buttercream with black food coloring.
    • Frost the cupcakes with red buttercream using a butter knife, spreading the frosting on smoothly (doesn’t have to be perfect!).
    • Place the black frosting in a piping bag with a small, round tip. Pipe on the outline of the wings, the polka dots, and a head, as shown in the diagram below.
    • Finish off the ladybug with small candy eyes placed on the black icing piped on as the head, right at the edge of the cupcake.

    How to decorate easy ladybug cupcakes from @janemaynard

    I was able to knock these cupcakes out no problem, and the design is so simple even the non-artistic among us can pull it off.

    Click here to get the recipes I used for the chocolate cake and buttercream frosting. (Feel free to use a cake mix, I’m not keeping track!)

    Happy decorating!


  10. Thursday, December 10

    Time for Pumpkin Pie

    Today is the last pie recipe of the week. And it’s a classic: pumpkin pie.

    classic pumpkin pie with homemade pie crust at @janemaynard

    Every time I make pumpkin pie, I can never remember how I made it the last time. Was it the recipe on the a pumpkin puree can? From a cookbook? From a website? I do know that I once used a pumpkin pie recipe I saw on the America’s Test Kitchen TV show and it came out beautifully – the pie didn’t even crack! But that recipe is a little involved (it’s very similar to the one in the Cook’s Illustrated cookbook), so I rarely feel like tackling it. When I try other recipes, well, I never keep track of which one I’ve tried. So, this year, I paid attention. I made notes. And I’m putting what I did in this blog post…I’ll never have to dig around again!

    classic pumpkin pie with homemade pie crust at @janemaynard

    This pumpkin pie recipe is very straightforward. Nothing crazy, just subtly-spiced, wonderful, creamy pumpkin pie. This recipe is originally from The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook. This ATK recipe is a bit simpler than the one I tried a few years ago, but has nearly identical technique. This year’s pie did crack, but we decided that we don’t care if our pumpkin pie cracks. The cracks give it character!

    classic pumpkin pie with homemade pie crust at @janemaynard

    There are a few aspects to the technique of this recipe that make the pie come out nicely (thanks, America’s Test Kitchen!). First, the pumpkin gets mixed in the food processor, to eliminate any fibers and make the filling smoother. Second, you cook the pumpkin, spices and sugar on the stovetop. The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook says this improves flavor, but the Cook’s Illustrated recipe also says that it helps you get the right amount of moisture in the pie filling. Lastly, the filling is warm when it is added to the warm crust, which helps with the overall texture of the pie custard and the crust.

    classic pumpkin pie with homemade pie crust at @janemaynard

    So, here you go! The pumpkin pie recipe I will use from here on out!

    Pumpkin Pie
     
    Adapted from The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook - I cut way back on the amount of spices in this recipe, but the rest of the recipe is pretty much the same. I use a different crust recipe than they do and I rewrote some of the instructions to reflect exactly what I did.
    Ingredients
    • 1 single pie crust (see recipe below)
    • 1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree
    • 1 cup packed brown sugar
    • ½ teaspoon ginger
    • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
    • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • ⅔ cup heavy cream
    • ⅔ cup whole milk
    • 4 large eggs
    Instructions
    1. Once your pie crust is rolled out and in a 9.75-inch pie dish, freeze for 30 minutes.
    2. Preheat oven to 375º F. Remove pie crust from freezer and line the pie crust with a double layer of non-stick aluminum foil (non-stick side down), covering the edges.
    3. Fill the pie crust with beans (about 1½ pounds), pennies, or pie weights. Bake for 25 minutes.
    4. While the pie crust is doing the blind bake, make the pumpkin filling. You want to fill the crust with the pumpkin filling while the crust is hot from the blind bake, so it's important to make the pumpkin filling while the crust is baking. Process the pumpkin, brown sugar, spices and salt in a food processor for about 1 minute.
    5. Transfer the pumpkin mixture to a medium pot and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. (Leave the processor as is...you're going to use it again in a few minutes, no need to clean!) Stir constantly to avoid the pumpkin bubbling and exploding all over your stove. Cook for about 5 minutes, until thick and shiny. Whisk in the milk and cream, bring mixture back to a simmer, then remove from heat.
    6. Place the eggs in the food processor and process until uniform, about 5 seconds. With the machine running, slowly add about half of the hot pumpkin mixture through the feed tube. Stop the machine, add the rest of the pumpkin and process again for about 30 more seconds until everything is uniform.
    7. The timing should work so that the pumpkin filling is done and warm when the pie crust is done blind baking. When you remove the partially-baked crust from the oven, turn the temperature up to 400º F and remove the pie weights you used and the foil. Immediately pour the warm pumpkin filling into the hot partially baked crust. If you have extra filling, ladel it into the crust 5 minutes into the baking time.
    8. Bake the pie until the filling is puffed and lightly cracked around the edges and the center wiggles slightly when jiggled, about 25 minutes. Cool pie on a wire rack and serve warm or at room temperature. Store leftover pie in the refrigerator, wrapped, up to 2 days.

    homemade pie crust recipe by kate lebo
    All-Butter Crust
     
    From "Pie School: Lessons in Fruit, Flour and Butter" by Kate Lebo. Reprinted with permission.
    Author:
    Ingredients
    • 2 ½ cups flour
    • 1 tablespoon sugar
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1 cup (2 sticks) well-chilled unsalted butter
    Instructions
    1. Fill a spouted liquid measuring cup with about 1½ cups of water, plop in some ice cubes, and place it in the freezer while you prepare the next steps of the recipe. The idea is to have more water than you need for the recipe (which will probably use ½ cup or less) at a very cold temperature, not to actually freeze the water or use all 1½ cups in the dough.
    2. In a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar, and salt. Cut ½- to 1-tablespoon pieces of butter and drop them into the flour. Toss the fat with the flour to evenly distribute it.
    3. Position your hands palms up, fingers loosely curled. Scoop up flour and fat and rub it between your thumb and fingers, letting it fall back into the bowl after rubbing. Do this, reaching into the bottom and around the sides to incorporate all the flour into the fat, until the mixture is slightly yellow, slightly damp. It should be chunky—mostly pea-size with some almond- and cherry-size pieces. The smaller bits should resemble coarse cornmeal.
    4. Take the water out of the freezer. Pour it in a steady thin stream around the bowl for about 5 seconds. Toss to distribute the moisture. You’ll probably need to pour a little more water on and toss again. As you toss and the dough gets close to perfection, it will become a bit shaggy and slightly tacky to the touch. Press a small bit of the mixture together and toss it gently in the air. If it breaks apart when you catch it, add more water, toss to distribute the moisture, and test again. If the dough ball keeps its shape, it’s done. (When all is said and done, you’ll have added about ⅓ to ½ cup water.)
    5. With firm, brief pressure, gather the dough in 2 roughly equal balls (if one is larger, use that for the bottom crust). Quickly form the dough into thick disks using your palms and thumbs. Wrap the disks individually in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for an hour to 3 days before rolling.
    6. Click here to read my (as in Jane's) instructions and photos for rolling out the pie crust.

    Click here to see my instructions and photos for rolling out pie crust.