BBQ Chicken Salad

No re-inventing the wheel here. Just a BBQ Chicken Salad.

2 chicken breasts, grilled & chopped
3 tablespoons BBQ sauce (we used Jack Daniel’s).
4 cups iceberg lettuce, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
1 cup sweet corn
1 cup black beans
1 avocado, chopped
1 healthy helping of monetary jack cheese

In a small bowl, combine grilled & chopped chicken breast with 3 tablespoons BBQ sauce (we used Jack Daniel’s).
In a large bowl, combine chopped lettuce, tomato, corn, black beans and avocado.
Divide lettuce mixture evenly between two plates, top with 1 healthy helping of monetary jack cheese and grilled chicken.

*Instead of croutons we added quesadilla strips for a change. Use 2 tortillas & 4 ounces of Monterey jack cheese. Add tortilla and half the cheese to a non-stick pan, cook until both sides are toasted and the cheese has melted. Slice into strips.

*When you don’t have time to make homemade dressing you can always mix with things you have. We used ranch dressing and added the Jack Daniel’s BBQ sauce then drizzled it on the salad. It was delish!


Homemade Raspberry Sauce

I am always looking for new recipes to try out. Since we often have someone come over during the week I am always looking for easy and simple recipes especially when it comes to dessert.

So when I found Pioneer Women’s Blackberry Cobbler I was happy – only five ingredients, easy instructions and an hour in the oven. I substituted the blackberry for raspberries and decided to serve the cobbler with vanilla ice cream and raspberry sauce. Everyone happily ate it up!

The raspberry sauce I served the cobbler with was homemade. I love making sauces at home because you know exactly what is going into it with no extra hidden ingredients or preservatives.

Raspberry Sauce
Yields approximately 1 ½ cups

1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
12 ounces raspberries

Place sugar and 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan over high heat; stir, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat, and allow syrup to cool completely. Place raspberries and syrup in the jar of a blender; puree until smooth. Pour through a fine sieve or colander into a bowl; discard solids. Serve or store in an airtight container, refrigerated, for up to 5 days.

Waffles. Just cause.

This recipe is nothing new. No invention of the wheel or an amazing new recipe made with a crazy new ingredient. Here lies a recipe for waffles. Use it for a breakfast, brunch or piled high with ice cream for a late night snack. Enjoy!

1 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup cake flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
1 1/4 cups water
4 large eggs, separated
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup unsalted butter (melted)
Combine flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt and sugar. Whisk to mix. Add water, egg yolks and vanilla and whisk until smooth.
Whisk in melted butter. Beat egg whites in another bowl until stiff peaks form, then fold into batter, half at a time. Keep folding until smooth. Pour into waffle iron and bake until golden brown.

Chicken Francese

Chicken Francese
adapted from Tyler Florence
4 skinless, boneless, chicken breasts
All-purpose flour, for dredging
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Dried Parsley, Oregano and thyme (I only had dried on hand)
4 large eggs
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup dry white wine, such as Pinot Grigio
1 cup chicken broth
1 lemon, juiced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Pound the chicken breasts with a flat meat mallet, until they are about 1/4-inch thick. Place flour in a shallow platter and season with a fair amount of salt, pepper, parsley, oregano and thyme (seasoned to your preferred taste); mix with a fork to distribute evenly. In a wide bowl, beat the eggs to make an egg wash. Heat the oil over medium-high flame in a large skillet.

Dip the chicken in the egg wash to coat completely, letting the excess drip off, dredge both sides of the chicken cutlets in the seasoned flour. When the oil is nice and hot, add the cutlets and fry for 2 minutes on each side until golden, turning once. Remove the chicken cutlets to a large platter. I usually place a paper towel on the platter to soak up the excess oil from the chicken.

Add the wine, broth, and lemon juice to a headed skillet. Simmer for 5 minutes to reduce the sauce slightly. Roll the butter in some flour and add it to the skillet – this will help to thicken the sauce. Stir to incorporate and dissolve the flour. Reduce the heat to medium-low and return the chicken to the pan. Simmer gently for 2 minutes to heat the chicken thoroughly.

I served my chicken with rice boiled in chicken stock (instead of water) and green beans! Enjoy!

Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Mr. Sweet & I were invited to dinner two Sunday’s ago. I am always one to bring something when invited over. Be it a bottle of wine for dinner, a six-pack for the game or dessert for after dinner.

I have had this Chocolate Peanut Butter Torte pinned on my “Sweet Tooth” board on Pinterest for months now. It’s the definition of decadent – a thick Oreo crust surrounds a fluffy peanut butter mousse with chocolate chips and peanuts sprinkled within and covered in a dark chocolate ganache topped with even more peanuts. Peanut butter and chocolate are good enough on their own and pretty unbeatable when they’re together.

At first glance, the recipe may seem a bit time-consuming and overwhelming. While there are several steps required to make this torte, they are simple and quite easy to do.

You can find the recipe in Dorie Greenspan’s cookbook “Baking from My Home to Yours” or this adapted version on Annie’s Eats.

This dessert is rich and decadent. As in, take a tiny sliver. Addicting and delicious you are going to want to make it again and again. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Note: Dorie’s cookbook is amazing! Give it a try. I have made Classic Banana Bundt Cake, Apples Muffins, Allspice Crumb Muffins and many more I haven’t blogged about.

The beauty and simplicity of homemade granola.

I am a lover of homemade granola.  Sweet and crunchy, granola is delicious served with fruit and milk for breakfast, stirred into yogurt or sprinkled on ice cream.

Before I knew how easy it was to make at home, I would search the shelves at the market for the perfect granola.  Prepackaged, processed and overpriced is what I would find.  The beauty of making something at home means that you can control what you put in it, how healthy it will be and what flavors you would like to add.   Add-ins could be shredded coconut, dried fruits, crunchy nuts, seeds and if you are feeling naughty chocolate pieces. Spices such as nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger can peak your taste buds.  Saying that making granola is ridiculously easy is an understatement.

Try my Cranberry & Chocolate Granola, Tropical Granola or just plain granola next time you have a craving.  I know I will.

Could there be a more perfect cookie in the world?

I have been on the search for the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe since I started baking. It had to be out there somewhere – perfectly baked, perfectly formed & heaped with divine chocolate pieces.

Perfection in a cookie is a matter of individual preference. Each batch I have made over the years was slightly different. Different in proportions, chocolates, mixing methods, & even baking times were carefully controlled. I have searched for tips & tricks about creaming butters, types of sugar to use and egg handling. When to mix, how long to mix, when not to mix.

There were also variations. Thin & crispy with loads of buttery flavor. Soft & cake-y, dotted with dark chocolate chips. Or my personal favorite, irresistibly chewy & chock-full of gooey chocolate.

I believe my search has finally ended. I found Averie Cooks Chocolate Chip and Chunk Cookies recipe while browsing Pinterest. The day I found it I ran home to try it out. My sister & her boyfriend were coming by for dinner and I thought they would be the perfect guinea pigs.

Butter was creamed with brown & granulated sugar. Egg, vanilla and other ingredients were added. Flavors married while chilling. Dough was scooped & baked. After dinner I served the cookies with a tall glass of milk. Many bites happen, some moans might have ensued. More milk was poured & before we knew it the cookies were gone. Since that night I have made this recipe about a dozen or so times.

Could there be a more perfect cookie in the world? Maybe, but I really don’t think so.

Everyday Chocolate Cake

Everyday Chocolate Cake
from Smitten Kitchen

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract *
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 325F. Butter and lightly flour a 9x5x3-inch loaf pan.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugars and beat until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the egg, buttermilk and vanilla. Beat well.
Sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add all dry ingredients right into your wet ingredients. Stir together with a spoon until well-blended but do not over mix. Scrape down the batter in the bowl to ensure the ingredients are well blended.
Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan (I used two smaller loaf pans). Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Cool in pan on a rack for about 10 minutes. Remove from the pan and set on the rack till completely cool.

*Since I was out of vanilla extract I replaced it with almond extract. I enjoyed the subtle hint of almond flavoring and decided next time to try it with coconut extract.