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Crispy Baked Zucchini Fries
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As expected, our zucchini yield in our garden wasn’t as spectacular as it probably should have been this summer.  I don’t know what it is, but we just don’t have a green thumb when it comes to growing zucchini.  The first year we planted it, we got zero zucchini.  How depressing.  This year, our three seedling plants grew fabulously, flowered like it was there job (it was), and so far we’ve only gotten two zucchini (two more will be ready this week though).  From three plants, I don’t consider that to be a success.

But nonetheless, one of the zucchini we picked got chopped up and made into these baked zucchini fries.  And to be able to eat what we grew and picked from our own yard made for such a satisfying dinner – all of the dread of a low yield just melts away.  These fries are freaking awesome!  A quick run through a basic flour-egg-panko combination then into the oven for 20 or so minutes is all that separates you from zucchini heaven.

Because the fries aren’t actually fried, I feel like you are actually able to taste the zucchini and not just the grease (there is none of here anyway), which is certainly the goal with such fresh ingredients.  They come out of the oven crispy on the outside and tender and not mushy on the inside…and not at all watery, which I was slightly worried about since zucchini is such a watery vegetable.  While the zucchini fries were baking, I whipped up a batch of our favorite ranch dressing in the blender to dip them into – this should be a requirement when making these fries.  I have a few other recipes planned for the rest of the zucchini that we pick but it’s certainly going to take a heckavalot of restraint not to make these fries again this summer!

Baked Chicken Burritos with Sour Cream-Poblano Sauce
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baked burritos with sour cream poblano sauce

I start off most of my mornings with a cup of coffee.  Sometimes I make it at home.  Sometimes it’s on the run on the way to work or on the way home from the gym, which happens before work and usually involves a LOT of rushing around.  But it’s part of my routine and even though I look like a whirling dervish most mornings on my way out the door (like this morning when I dropped my laptop in an effort to muscle my way through the door at 6:30am with my purse, work bag, gym bag, and laptop bag strung over my arms), I’m happy with my little routine.

Baked Burritos with Sour Cream-Poblano Sauce

My afternoon routine is much more serene.  Come home, make dinner, relax…except on Tuesdays and Thursdays when I meet with my trainer at 4:00.  By the time I pull myself into the house, it’s all I can do to move.  She’s insane.  So it’s those nights where throwing a simple meal together or reheating leftovers works best.  These baked burritos serve both purposes.  On the table in about half an hour and filled to the brim with Tex-Mex-y ground chicken and black beans, this meal rejuvenates my weary body.  The sour cream-poblano sauce is spicy and cool at the same time and it’s a genius sauce since it reheats perfectly for leftovers.  And speaking of leftovers, these burritos reheat like champs.  The recipe yields 4-5 large burritos so you can bake all of them then reheat leftovers quickly in the microwave and throw them in the oven to crisp up the tortillas.  It’s pretty much my favorite meal from over the past few weeks and  I may even make a big batch this weekend to have in the freezer at the ready on those crazy kinds of days.

Baked Chicken Burritos with Sour Cream-Poblano Sauce

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 4-6 servings

Ingredients

    For the burritos:
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 lb ground chicken
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • ¼ cup water or beef broth
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1 ½ tsp chili powder
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese
  • 4-10 whole wheat tortillas, depending on size (4 for burrito-sized, more for soft taco or fajita sized)
  • Cooking spray
  • For the sour cream-poblano sauce:
  • 2 poblano peppers
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 2/3 cup chicken broth at room temperature
  • ½ cup sour cream (light is fine) or non-fat Greek yogurt
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400º F and spray a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray.
  2. To make the burritos: Heat a large skillet over medium heat, and then add the oil. Once hot, add the onions and cook for 3-5 minutes until they begin to soften. Place the ground chicken in the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until well browned. (At this point, drain any excess fat if necessary/desired). Stir in the garlic and tomato paste and cook for 30-60 seconds before adding in the beans. Add the water or broth, cumin, oregano, chili powder, cayenne, brown sugar and salt to taste (about 1 teaspoon). Reduce heat and simmer until most of the liquid has been absorbed.
  3. Place 2 tablespoons of the cheese at the end of each tortilla (depending on size) and then spoon some of the beef and bean mixture over the top. Fold the left and right sides of the tortilla in, and then roll the tortilla up, from the end closest to you, to the top. Place seam-side down on a baking sheet and lightly spray the tops of the burritos with cooking spray. Bake for about 20 minutes, until tortillas are golden brown and crispy.
  4. Meanwhile, make the sauce. Place the poblanos directly over a gas burner. Using tongs, turn occasionally until skin is blackened on all sides. Place in a bowl and top with plastic wrap or a clean towel, until cook enough to handle. (Alternatively, you can roast the peppers under the broiler until all sides are well-charred.) Peel the peppers, remove the stems and seeds, and dice them.
  5. Heat a small saucepan over medium heat and melt the butter; stir in the flour and cook for an additional minute, stirring constantly. Slowly whisk in the chicken broth and then the diced poblano; continue to simmer, whisking frequently, until thickened. Stir in the sour cream/yogurt and warm through. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve the sauce over the baked burritos.

Source

adapted from Elly Says Opa

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http://www.smells-like-home.com/2012/05/baked-chicken-burritos-with-sour-cream-poblano-sauce/

Salted Caramel Brownies
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IMG_0455

Is there not a more amazing combination of flavors than in salted caramel?  Don’t agree with me?  Uhh, have you tried these salted caramel brownies yet??  Like these sweet and salty cupcakes and these turbo-charged brownies, this brownie recipe brings together rich chocolate and salted caramel, a topping I don’t ever see myself tiring of.  And rather than being sandwiched within the brownies (like this recipe), the caramel seeps into the batter, distributing the goodness throughout and keeping the brownies perfectly fudgy.  After adding a sprinkle of fleur de sel and coarse sugar which melt onto the warm brownies after baking, this dessert is elevated to another level.  As my first official baked goodie in the new kitchen, these brownies were a smash hit and whether you top them with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a glorious drizzle of the leftover caramel sauce (or both!), you will not be disappointed – we certainly weren’t!

Salted Caramel Brownies

Yield: 9-12 brownies

Ingredients

  • ¼ ½ ¾ °
  • For the salted caramel sauce:
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp light corn syrup
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 1 ¼ tsp fleur de sel
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup sour cream or Greek yogurt
  • For the brownies:
  • 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp Dutch-process unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 11 oz good quality bittersweet or semisweet chocolate (preferably 60 to 72%), coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • ½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 5 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • splash of Kahlua (optional)
  • 1 tsp fleur de sel
  • 1 tsp coarse sugar

Instructions

  1. To make the caramel: Combine the sugar and corn syrup with 1/4 cup water in a medium saucepan. Carefully stir them together, trying not to splash the sides of the pan. Cook over high heat, stirring often, until the mixture reaches 350° F, about 6 to 8 minutes. It should be dark amber in color, but keep a close eye on it, as caramel goes from perfect to burnt and ruined in no time flat. Remove the caramel from heat, and carefully stir in the cream. It will bubble up, so be ready! Whisk in the sour cream or Greek yogurt, and set aside to cool.
  2. To make the brownies: Preheat the oven to 350° F and grease a 9×13 inch baking dish. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and cocoa powder; set aside.
  3. Combine the butter and chocolate in a large microwave safe bowl and cook at 30 second intervals, stirring well in between, until the chocolate and butter have melted. Add both sugars and whisk until combined. Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature. Add three of the eggs and whisk until just combined. Whisk in the remaining two eggs, vanilla, and Kahlua (if using), and whisk just until combined. Sprinkle the flour mixture over the brownies and use a spatula to fold it into the wet ingredients, until there are just small traces of the flour visible.
  4. To assemble the brownies: Pour half the batter into the prepared baking dish. Drizzle 3/4 cup of the caramel over the brownie batter, being careful not to let the sauce come into contact with the edge of dish. Use and offset spatula to gently spread the caramel evenly over the brownie layer, then drop the remaining brownie batter over the caramel by the spoonful. Again, use the offset spatula to gently spread it in an even layer.
  5. Bake the brownies for 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking. The brownies are done when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with just a few crumbs attached.
  6. Remove the brownies from the oven and sprinkle with the salt and sugar Cool completely before cutting and serving.

Source

source: adapted from Baked: Explorations via Pink Parsley

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http://www.smells-like-home.com/2012/03/salted-caramel-brownies/

Baked Corned Beef and Sauteed Cabbage
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Apparently, I grew up as a picky eater.  These days, I’m doing a lot of apologizing to my parents.  Until I met Kyle, I was conscious of only truly not liking one food: green beans.   And only after he pinned me as a picky eater, I realized there were so many other things…asparagus, cauliflower, pickles, mustard, nuts, spicy foods in any form, and two of the biggest offenders: corned beef and cabbage.  I used to dread St. Paddy’s Day and I always felt so bad being invited to friends’ houses to celebrate as a teenager because I just couldn’t stomach the boiled meal.

But somewhere along the way in the past few years, my tastes have changed drastically (see: jalapeño popper grilled cheese and buffalo chicken pizza) and on a complete whim early last year, I agreed to swap half of my roast beef sandwich for half of Kyle’s corned beef Reuben.  And I was hooked.  So after 8 years of Kyle unsuccessfully begging me to make corned beef for St. Paddy’s Day, I found this baked corned beef recipe last year and truly discovered a new food love.  Baked with cloves and covered with brown sugar and hot and sweet honey mustard, this corned beef is other-worldly good.  The cloves subtly seep into the beef roast and the brown sugar and honey mustard create a slight crust on top, adding both ample flavor and a nice texture.  Let’s also quickly talk about the cabbage because what else would really round out this Irish-American meal (aside from soda or rye bread)?  You’ll thinly slice the cabbage and saute it with onion, garlic, and olive oil, much like you’ll do for this colcannon, another Irish staple.  And let me tell you, sauteed cabbage is nothing like boiled cabbage.  Slightly crisp and fully awesome, you’ll want this cabbage as a side dish for more than just corned beef.  Served alongside potatoes and carrots, this baked corned beef and sauteed cabbage is the perfect American celebration of St. Paddy’s Day and when made this past weekend for my visiting family in only 2 hours (as opposed to the hours needed to boil corned beef), it was a huge hit.  If you think you can’t get your family to eat corned beef, test this recipe on them – I’m positive they’ll think differently after eating it.

Baked Apple Cinnamon Raisin Oatmeal
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Baked Apple Cinnamon Raisin Oatmeal

And after the heavy recipe I posted yesterday, I felt like things around here needed to be lightened up a little.  That’s where this baked oatmeal comes in.  I’ve been dying to make a baked or an overnight oatmeal recipe for years but for whatever reason, I never pulled the trigger and sought out a recipe.  So it was pretty handy when this recipe stumbled upon my doorstep over the summer for the first time.  I immediately fell in love with the components of this baked oatmeal and how the fruit could be so easily changed for preferences or seasons.  The original recipe calls for bananas and blueberries but I made mine with apples, raisins, and I added a bit more cinnamon.  And while this combination reminded me of the oatmeal packets I grew up on, this version was no comparison with its freshly baked apples, plump raisins, and lots of cinnamon swirling around the oatmeal.  This was my kind of breakfast.

Baked Apple Cinnamon Raisin Oatmeal

The difficulty level of this recipe?  Nil.  You’ll put a layer of some of the fruit on the bottom of the dish followed by all of the dry oatmeal mixture, then pour over a mixture of milk, eggs, maple syrup, and vanilla, top with some more fruit and bake.  So easy!  I whipped up my first batch one Sunday morning a couple weeks ago while Kyle slept in (never happens) and I actually wrote and scheduled an entire blog post before it finished baking – talk about time efficiency!  I think what I love most about this baked oatmeal is that a full batch yields leftovers for Kyle for 3 mornings and since in the winter months he takes a packet of apple cinnamon oatmeal with him to work for breakfast nearly everyday, we now not only have a cheaper alternative to those packets, but also oatmeal fresh fruit and without any preservatives.  It’s a win-win all around!

Banana Espresso Chocolate Chip Muffins
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Banana Espresso Chocolate Chip Muffins

Somethings are worth waiting for.  Like these muffins.  Perfect banana flavor balanced with semi-sweet chocolate chips that are totally enhanced by some instant espresso powder. Love, I tell you, love.

My interest was piqued months ago while tagging recipes to make in the Baked cookbook and then my interest took off after both The Pêche and Smith Bites blogs, my fellow Big Summer Potluckers, were gushing about these muffins on Twitter.  For whatever reason, the recipe got pushed down “the list” and I finally just took a few well-ripened bananas out of the freezer this week, only intending on using them in this recipe.  And boy, I can see what they were gushing about months ago!  These muffins are hands-down some of the best I’ve ever eaten!  I love the fact that they were so quickly whipped up (not literally) by hand rather than having to pull out the stand mixer…and I love the fact that even though I forgot to add the milk until after I mixed in the chocolate chips at the end, the muffins still turned out amazing!  They bake up with this funny shape, only what I picture to be a quintessentially quirky Baked trademark look, and when fresh out of the oven, the chips are gooey, the banana is prominent, and there is a slightest hint of crispiness around the top edges. Love, I tell you, love.

THE Baked Brownie
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Today, let’s talk brownies.  It seems like the #1 prerequisite for writing a cookbook these days is that you have to include a brownie recipe.  And damn, it better be a good one.  Luckily for the guys at Baked in Red Hook, Brooklyn (NY, that is) they had one.  And it’s truly the recipe that put them on the map.  Actually, praise Oprah for making this brownie one of her “Favorite Things” a few years ago, thus making this the most famous brownie recipe ever. The Baked: New Frontiers in Baking cookbook was born thereafter Oprah and frankly, this recipe is what made me want to buy the want to buy the cookbook. I’m sure I’m not the only one.

I’ve talked about quite a few different brownie recipes here over the years.  Here are just a few of them:

And out of those three base recipes, David’s brownies are hands-down my favorite.  Just as the title describes, they are chewy, dense, and downright perfect.  But, I have to say that the Baked brownie, with all of its high (Godly?) expectations, gives David’s recipe a full-on run for its money.  Shall I say that it may have taken over the top seed on my list? The texture is very similar to that of the Chewy-Dense Brownie but there seems to be an extra level of richness.  Of course, this could have been due to the handful of Heath Bar bits I threw into the batter and butterscotch chips I topped the batter with before baking, but all in all, I won’t hesitate to make the Baked brownie again and again.  It really is something special and you can bet your butt that the next time I drive down to Long Island to see my parents, a side-trip to Baked will be in my plans.  I hear they sell other things too.

**EDIT** The winner of the copy of Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice is Kimberly @redheadrunswild!!

I Heart My Chunky Hubby [Cupcakes]
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Be forewarned that I’ll be in cupcake mode here for the next 6 weeks!  See, I’m attending Cupcake Camp New Haven on September 18th as a baker and I need to cut my list of about 300 choices of cupcakes down to just 4.  It won’t be an easy task (sigh) but I know the students working in my office for the summer will appreciate helping me narrow the choices down.

We started off the journey to cupcakedom with these Chunky Hubby cupcakes.  Remember the Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream Chubby Hubby flavor? Peanut butter-filled-chocolate-covered-pretzels…yum!  Well this cupcake is a deconstructed version of Chubby Hubby plus B&J’s Chunky Monkey flavor which adds banana to the mix.  Double yum!  I upped the ante and roasted the bananas before adding them to the cupcake batter and subbed in a some brown sugar for some of the white sugar.  The results of this already fantastic-sounding cupcake was truly a delight with the roasted banana and brown sugar. So you’ve got the roasted bananas, the obvious pretzel on top, some peanut butter frosting (which, if you haven’t tried this recipe yet, it’s a must), and a hidden surprise of chocolate ganache that fills the cupcake.  Does life get any better than this?!