Sunday, April 24, 2011

Portobello Parmesan

Does this photo make portobello parmesan look appetizing? I can't objectively judge the picture because looking through the several shots I took of my dinner brings back so many tasty memories. Please don't judge this picture and blow off this recipe. Portobello parmesan is so delicious!  This fun spin on chicken parmesan is saucy and cheesy, but maintains a nice crunch from the fried portobellos. What I found most difficult in making this dish was slicing the portobello mushrooms in half. You might want to buy a few extras mushrooms in case one doesn't work out so well.

Extra-virgin olive oil
3 portobello mushroom caps
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
4 basil leaves
Salt and pepper
2 cups panko breadcrumbs
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
4 large eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
Vegetable oil, for frying
4 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced (A tip for slicing: Freeze the mozzarella for thirty minutes for an easier slice.)

Lightly oil a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Remove the gills of the portobellos with a spoon, then halve the mushrooms horizontally to make 6 thin rounds.

Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the red pepper flakes (I always add more than the recipe calls for) and garlic; cook 1 minute. Reduce the heat to low, add the tomatoes and basil and cook until the garlic is soft, about 15 more minutes. Move to a blender or food processor and pulse until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

Combine the 1/2 cup parmesan, panko, 1 tablespoon parsley, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a shallow bowl. Whisk the eggs and 2 tablespoons cold water in second bowl. Put the flour in a third bowl.

Coat the mushrooms with flour, shaking off the excess. Dip in the eggs and last in the panko mixture, making sure to coat both sides. Heat 1/2 inch vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, fry the mushrooms until golden, roughly 2 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels.

Spread a layer of the tomato sauce in the prepared baking dish. Add the fried mushrooms, then cover with the remaining tomato sauce. Top with the mozzarella and the remaining 1/2 cup parmesan. Bake until browned, 20 to 25 minutes. Sprinkle with the extra1 tablespoon parsley.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Nutter Butter Balls

Brent and I love nutter butter cookies. He asks me not to buy them because we both lack self-control when they are around. When I baked this bakerella recipe, we, being nutter butter fanatics, thought it would be an easy win for the KIPP Baking Club. Who doesn't love the combination of peanut butter and chocolate? Unfortunately they lost to a delicious batch of blueberry brownies by one vote. Although they didn't win, I will still vouch for these smooth, buttery nutter butter balls. Peanut Butter/Chocolate lovers will not be disappointed.

1 pkg. Nutter Butter cookies
1 8oz. package cream cheese (softened)
2 bars of semi-sweet baking chocolate

1. Finely crush all but 5 cookies in a food processor. Snack on the 5 leftovers while you bake.
2. Combine with cream cheese. Use a mixer, or a large wooden spoon.
3. Roll the mixture into 1 inch balls and place on wax paper covered cookie sheet. Refrigerate for at least thirty minutes.
4. Melt chocolate using a double boiler, then dunk balls into chocolate. Using a spoon, fish the balls out and tap off extra and set aside on wax paper covered cookie sheet to dry.
5. Once dry, keep refrigerated.
Makes about 30 balls.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Peanut Butter Cookies

I baked these cookies for our friend Elisa's Italian Meatball night. In retrospect it was risky of me to bake cookies for someone who bakes cookies for a living, but these got the stamp of approval from Elisa, CEO of Hoff and Holmes Baked Goods. They looked pretty with the light sugar coating and cracks, and were soft and cakey. Delicious after a meal of prosciutto, artichoke, olive and red pepper antipasto, and the star of the show, the Italian meatballs and pasta. Thank you Elisa for a fun night!

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup natural creamy peanut butter at room temperature
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg at room temperature
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanut butter chips
For coating the cookies: A few extra tablespoon of sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the flour, the salt, baking soda, and baking powder. Set aside.
With a mixer, beat the butter and the peanut butter together until fluffy. Add the sugars and beat until smooth. Add the egg and mix well. Add the milk and the vanilla extract. Slowly add the flour mixture and beat thoroughly. Stir in the peanut butter and chocolate chips. Place coating sugar on a plate. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls into the sugar, then onto ungreased cookie sheets. Using a fork, lightly indent the cookies with the signature peanut butter criss-cross. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Make sure you do not over-bake the cookies. Cookies may look underdone, but they are not.
Cool the cookies on the sheets for 1 minute, then remove to a rack to cool completely.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Cranberry Walnut Chicken Salad

I love the cranberry walnut combination. This week I have made cranberry walnut granola with yogurt and blackberries, salad with cranberry, walnut and Gorgonzola, and in the mornings I top my cereal with cranberries and walnuts. I then had a craving for chicken salad, so I threw in more cranberries and walnuts. I went all out with my chicken salad by brining the chicken breast to make sure it was nice and moist. Next time I might use a little less mayonnaise. I was really in the mood for a creamy deli-style chicken salad, but it probably was not the best decision health wise. Brent and I enjoyed this chicken salad both in a wrap, and on its own. It has a great variation of textures and flavors, and has become a Lowry lunch favorite.

4 cups cubed roasted chicken (between 1.5 and 2 pounds)
1 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
1 cup celery, diced
2 tablespoons minced shallot
1 cup dried cranberries
2/3 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh tarragon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a medium size bowl. Mix well.

Adapted (barely) from Smitten Kitchen.