Thursday, September 29, 2011

Southwestern Salad with Cilantro & Jalapeno Ranch Dressing

This salad is hearty and colorful and its a snap to make if you already have a batch of my Roasted Corn Salsa whipped up. 


For the dressing, chop up your jalapenos and cilantro before adding them to the other ingredients. Then use an immersion blender or regular blender to liquefy it completely. I was surprised at how easy it was to get it perfectly smooth. After you have blended it, it will be very thin. Once you let it sit for a few minutes it will start thickening up again. So before you drizzle it over a salad, be sure to whisk it a little so i twill re-liqueify in texture. 

Also, this does taste similar to the dressing at Cafe Rio or if you are familiar with the restuarant Chuy's this is similar to their jalapeno ranch. The dressing has a great light and fresh flavor because of all the fresh green cilantro in it.
The recipe below calls for 2 jalapenos which gives it a very slight heat. If you want to taste more heat I would recommend using 4 jalapenos.


Add whichever of the ingreidents you have around, preferably all and toss with some beautiful romaine lettuce. I used my salsa, colby jack cheese, and finished it with crushed up tortilla chips. Be sure to wait until the last minute to add the tortilla chips so they don't get soggy! This salad was a side dish but to make it a meal just add some grilled chicken on top and voila!

Of course, if you don't want to make the Roasted Corn Salsa all the way you could just throw a can of black beans, corn, 2 tomatoes along with some chopped red onion and cilantro and it would still turn out pretty good. But this was divine with the pre marinated salsa. 


Cilantro & Jalapeno Ranch Dressing
The Apron Gal

Ingredients
2-4 Jalapenos [2 for mild, 4 for medium heat], 
3/4 cup cilantro
1 cup milk
1 cup mayo
1 packet dry ranch dressing mix

Directions

Deseed jalapenos and chop. Chop cilantro. Mix chopped jalapenos and cilantro with remaining ingredients. Puree until liquid using immersion blender or stand blender. Chill before serving. 

Southwest Salad
The Apron Gal
Serves 8 as a side or 4 as a main course
Ingredients 
1 large head romaine lettuce
1 batch Roasted Corn and Black Bean Salsa or 1 can corn, 1/2 can black beans, 1/2 cup cilantro, 1/2 cup red onion, 2 tomatoes
1/2 cup shredded cheese
Tortilla chips
Grilled chicken [optional]

1 batch Cilantro & Jalapeno Ranch Dressing [see recipe above]

Directions
Wash and tear romaine. Make Roasted Corn salsa or chop substitute ingredients and toss with romaine. Add shredded cheese and toss with Cilantro & Jalapeno Ranch dressing and crushed tortilla chips. Add grilled chicken if desired.

Enjoy!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Roasted Corn and Black Bean Salsa

So this is definitely one of my favorite things I have made lately! It is also another great summer to fall recipe. Corn for me is both summer [at the fair or on the grill] but also fall [warm corn chowder...] so I think it fits perfectly this time of year.


I made this for another football gathering and it was a hit! Everyone was asking me for the recipe so again, I am willingly obliging. 






The hardest part of this is "grilling" the corn but you don't even have to do that you could use fresh boiled corn, canned corn, or even frozen corn. 


Let me tell you more about the grill pan I love so dearly....


Mine looks like this but is not this exact kind. 


My good friend Jessica once had a grill pan so of course, I wanted to be cool like her and have one too. I stumbled on my Wolfgang Puck one at Ross once and snatched it up. I let it sit in a drawer for several months until I remembered I had it and decided to try it out!


It changed my life. 


I love grilling outside but it does have some drawbacks:
1. apartments + large grills = not so easy
2. maintenance
3. inside. outside. forgot the tongs. inside. out. you get the idea right? 
4. or its 40 degrees and you don't want to grill....

or my current predicament....
I live in Austin, Texas and all grilling is currently banned at my complex. Did you happen to hear about those huge fires?? Far enough away from me to be safe, but close enough to be careful. Let's just say we need rain BAD and grilling outside is currently off limits!


Anyways, that is why having a grill pan is so awesome. Did you want one? Go here to buy one similar to mine [the awesome red color] but here is one that is a little cheaper but I am sure works just as well. And no I have never seen mine again at Ross, nor can I find many online other than a few on Ebay. Sorry friends. 


Alright enough of my worship of the grill pan. But did I mention you get those great grill marks as well as some of [not all] of that great grill flavor on your stove? Or that you can grill steak, chicken, shrimp, hot dogs....


I WAS skeptical that it would work for grilling corn but now I am a BELIEVER!


Let me show you. 


I have had bad [aka BURNED] experiences with corn on the cob on the grill before. 


So here is how I prevented that. 


I boiled my corn for about 7-8 minutes just to make sure it was cooked enough and not raw. 


Then I put it on the grill for a few minutes per side just to give it some great grill marks and a little smoky flavor. As always, make sure your grill is very hot before you put the corn on or you won't get those grill marks!




Keep getting grill marks around the corn for 2-3 minutes per side. You could go as long as you want to keep getting grill marks [or outdoor grilling would give you much more intense and probably faster, grill marks as well]. I was just so excited to get any grill marks at all!



Ok, then cut off the cooled corn from the cob, by holding it upright and dragging a knife down the cob, as close to the cob as possible and then break it down into kernels. 




The corn is the base of your salsa. Again you could skip all that aforementioned trouble and just open a can of corn too. But you would miss all that fun grill time!


Chop the rest of your ingredients into bite sized salsa size and then add your seasonings and lime juice. 


Then you must let it marinate. If you eat this right away you will be disappointed. Let the finished salsa marinate for at least a few hours in the fridge before serving. Those flavors really need to mesh together. 


Also, depending on the strength/sweetness of your corn, onions etc., feel free to add more onion, beans or cilantro. We are big on cilantro so I would probably add more next time. You could also add serranos or jalapenos for kick if you wanted. This is a very versatile base for a good salsa, so feel free to add on to it!


Serve with chips and enjoy! 


*I also used some of this salsa in some grilled quesadillas [grill pan again, need I say more?] and it was awesome. Or I might just bring you another recipe soon that you could use some of this with too. If you are lucky. IF :)






Roasted Corn and Black Bean Salsa
The Apron Gal


Ingredients
3 ears corn on the cob or about 1.5 cups [ish] frozen or 1 can
3 Roma tomatoes
1/2 can black beans
1/4 red onion
1/2 cup cilantro
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 chili powder
1/2 tsp white pepper
Juice of 2 limes


Directions
Chop into bite sizes [see photo]: tomato, red onion and cilantro. Mix chopped ingredients with corn and black beans. Add lime juice and seasonings. 


Let marinate at least 2-3 hours in fridge before serving. 


Enjoy!




Wednesday, September 21, 2011

White Chip Chocolate Cookies

I was trying to get rid of some white chocolate chips the other day and I found this recipe on the back of the chip bag and thought, "Why not?"

They were so good and my new friends gobbled them up! They have been asking me for the recipe ever since so I am delivering on my promise!

My only special instructions are to follow the directions. I recently discovered that this is the secret to baking! The one area where you have room for substitution is changing chips for candy or different flavors but I wouldn't steer far from the white chocolate/chocolate combination in this recipe because they are perfect!


White Chip Chocolate Cookies
Nestle
Makes 5 dozen cookies

Ingredients
2 1/4 cups flour
2/3 cup cocoa
1 TSP baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 sticks [1 cup] butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 TSP vanilla
2 large eggs
2 cups white chocolate chips
Directions
Preheat oven to 350. Whisk flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt in one bowl. In different bowl, beat together softened butter, brown sugar, white sugar, and vanilla until creamy. Add eggs beating well after each one. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in white chocolate chips. 

Drop by well rounded teaspoons onto ungreased cookie sheets. 

Bake 9 to 11 minutes or until centers are set. Cool on cookie sheets for 2 minutes [THAT PART IS KEY!]
Enjoy!

 

Monday, September 19, 2011

Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce

Didn't Jess do an awesome job with that gorgeous bruschetta?? Be sure to visit her blog
since she is always posting cute stories, photos and recipes! Thanks Jess for an awesome
guest post!

Hey Ya'll!

Today I have a recipe that is a great summer grilling recipe or its great for fall too. I think this is the confusing time of year for food bloggers. See, I live in Texas and its still 91 degrees outside. But I know people in Utah are having nice fall weather with 75 degrees. So I am still going to post some good end of summer favorites as well as some in the middle and some great fall recipes. I hope that is okay with y'all!

Chicken satay has always been a favorite of mine at Thai restauarants and to make. Its fast, flavorful and it always impresses guests. 


In case you were wondering, a satay  is a "Southeast Asian dish consisting of small pieces of meat grilled on a skewer served with a spiced sauce."

So begin with some boneless skinless chicken breasts. I had some hearty ones that I cut in half so they were thinner. This helped them to cook quickly and evenly on the grill. 

Cut the chicken into small tenders that will lay flat on a grill, so not cubes but not as big as normal chicken tenders. See my pictures to get a better idea of size. 
Thread your chicken strips on to wooden skewers. If you will be grilling outside you need to soak your skewers in water for 30 minutes to help prevent them from burning. I used my indoor grill pan so I didn't need to soak mine. I also cut mine in half so they were easier to manage and fit on my grill pan.

Season your chicken with garlic salt and pepper, my go to seasoning for any chicken.You could also marinate or brush your chicken with the peanut sauce since a lot of it would cook off on the grill but could still leave some good flavor. 


I left my seasoning simple so that the dipping peanut sauce could really shine. 

Grill chicken about 3-4 minutes per side or until cooked through. As always, make sure your grill pan or grill is nice and hot so you get those great grill marks!

While chicken is cooking, mix together ingredients for peanut sauce.

Serve skewers with dipping sauce and enjoy!


Chicken Satay with Peanut Dipping Sauce
adapted from WeightWatchers New Complete cookbook

This made a dozen half skewers.

Chicken Skewers
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
garlic salt
pepper

Peanut Dipping Sauce
3 TBS creamy or chunky peanut butter
2 TSP sugar
2 garlic cloves or 1 tsp minced garlic
2 TBS soy sauce
1 TBS water
2 TSP rice vinegar
1/2 tsp Siricha or chili garlic sauce
1 TBS chopped cilantro [I forgot it for the picture!]
Soak skewers in water for 30 minutes if grilling outside. Slice chicken into small pieces and thread onto skewers. Season with garlic salt and pepper. Heat grill pan or broiler and cook chicken for 4-5 minutes per side.

Combine peanut dipping ingridients and sprinkle with chopped cilantro. 

Enjoy!


Saturday, September 10, 2011

Guest Post: Jess from Steve & Jess!

Hello all, I'm Jess and I'm over here to share some culinary wisdom!
First off, can we just acknowledge the fact that Kasee is wonderwoman?
No, she really is.
We are real-life friends and I've been trying to emulate her for like 5 years now...seriously.
Which is why I was so incredibly honored to guest post over here at the Apron Gal!
So here it goes, one of my favorite go-to recipes
Italian Bruschetta
Here are the ingredients (serves 4):
Tomatoes (around 2 cups diced)-
I used sunbursts and grape tomatoes, mostly because I love adding color! You could also use plain old romas, they work great!
1/4 large red onion (diced)-
Red onions add color and are more sweet, which is why I like them for this dish, but you could also use white if that's what you have in your fridge!
Blackberry Honey Goat Cheese (about 1/8cup to sprinkle on top)-
Now you could substitute a number of cheeses here, think: fresh mozzarella, shaved parmesan, regular goat cheese, feta, etc... but I'm kind of obsessed with this stuff right now, so I used it.
1 cup of balsamic vinegar-
you'll reduce this. and I'll teach you how. and you'll love me for it. the end.
1/2-1 cup olive oil-
for pan-frying the bread.
Rustic Bread-
Italian pugilese or french work the best.
S. Pellegrino-
because no italian meal is complete without a long-stemmed glass of it.
Basil, Salt, and Pepper-
Now, I went to the store and forgot to pick up fresh basil. Don't be like me! I used dried basil here but fresh julienned basil is much better!
Now roll up your sleeves and let's get to it!
First:
Diced up your tomatoes and onions (make sure you dice your onions really small...nobody likes a straight shot of onion) and throw in your salt, pepper, and basil to taste. Let this sit while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. I like to do this first because it gives the flavors time to mix and meld and work their magic together. 
Second:
Put your balsamic in a pot over medium-high heat on your stove. Then, bring it to a boil for around 5-10 minutes. Now, this is called balsamic reduction because it is going to reduce/boil down into sweet, slightly sticky, balsamic goodness. So don't freak out when your 1 cup turns into 1/2 cup. You'll know it's ready when the balsamic clings to your spoon. Then remove from the heat and let it cool.
Third:
Pan fry your bread until it's crispy and golden. Watch it though and make sure it doesn't burn! When it's ready, pat off the excess oil and let it cool on a plate.
Fourth:
Put your tomato mixture over the bread, sprinkle on your cheese, and spoon on your balsamic reduction, flip on an old re-run of Gilmore Girls, pour yourself a glass of something sparkly, and enjoy!
Don't forget to stop by my blog and say hello!



Thanks Jess! I think I will make that tonight...mmmmm! 

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Chicken Piccata

Dear Blogger Friends, 


Please excuse my week long absence. I was moving to my new home in Austin, Texas! I am so excited to be a Texan again and I can't wait to share all the secrets of our delicious food here at The Apron Gal. 


To make it up to you I have this amazing dinner recipe and my next post will be an amazing guest blogger who also happens to be one of my best friends! 


On to the recipe!


The official name for this dinner is Chicken in Lemon Caper Sauce. But do you know what a piccata is? Piccata means cooked in a sauce of lemon, parsley, and butter. We used all of those ingredients for this recipe so I think it counts!


I'm not sure if this picture really does justice to the melt in your mouth factor of this chicken. 

Start by pounding your chicken breasts thin using a meat tenderizer or whatever else you have to pound it thinner. Then coat your chicken in the flour mixture before placing in hot skillet with olive oil.  


Make sure your skillet with oil is hot, you want that nice light brown sear you see on my chicken below and in the final product above. Cook the chicken through about 3 minutes per side. 


Next make your sauce by using fresh lemon juice, capers and chicken broth. 

Did you know that rolling your lemons before you cut them allows more juice to get out? That's a tip from my dad, the master chef. 


What is a caper you ask? Capers are a Mediterranean type of condiment, similar to a green olive. They are pickled and have a distinctive salty and sour flavor. They are picked by hand so they are more expensive than things like normal pickles and a small jar will cost about $3-$5 and last you years since you only use a small amount in each recipe. Additionally, specialty food stores often sell different varieties by the pound so you could buy just a small portion for one recipe. 



Now before you decide not to make this let me elaborate. I DO NOT LIKE GREEN OLIVES. Just another one of those things I should but don't like. Capers are different. First of all, you do not sit down and eat a jar of capers. They are mainly used in sauces or pizza but not as a stand alone ingredient. I did eat one out of the jar for this recipe and my face puckered. 

However, when you place these in a sauce the flavors mellow and you are left with a really flavorful sauce. 

Alright, enough about capers. 

Bring your sauce to a boil and then reduce to a simmer and add the chicken back just to coat it in the sauce.

**Note: If your sauce doesn't seem like enough, just double the amounts of lemon juice, capers and chicken broth. This sauce is so tasty and it really makes the chicken so don't skimp on it! 

Finally, melt butter and stir in chopped parsley and drizzle over chicken. [Again, you might want to increase amounts of butter/parsley] 

Serve with rice or pasta and lemon wedges. 

Enjoy!!


Chicken Piccata
adapted from WeightWatchers  New Complete Cookbook

Ingredients
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 TSP salt 

1/2 cup chicken broth
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice [or 1 lemon] 
1 TBS capers, drained & lightly chopped

1 TSP butter
2 TBS fresh chopped parsley

Directions

Pound chicken  breasts thin. Mix together flour and salt. Coat chicken breasts in flour mixture. 

Heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add chicken breasts and cook 3 minutes per side or until just barely cooked through. Remove from heat.

Combine fresh lemon juice, capers, and chicken broth and pour into skillet. Bring to a boil and then reduce to simmer until slightly reduced before adding chicken to skillet to heat trhough and coat in sauce. 

Melt butter and then add fresh parsley. Pour over chicken breasts. 

Serve with rice or pasta.

Serves 4. 


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