Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Taking a Break!

I will be taking a break for next week to spend time with family! I'll probably be doing some cooking and definitely will be doing some eating! Since, I have been pretty busy these last few weeks and haven't had the time to post as much as I would like, I have a lot of recipes saved up to post soon.

Till then, please enjoy some of my favorites:

Monday, April 25, 2011

Cheesy Herb & Chive Breakfast Quesidillas

I made these little quesidillas for breakfast on Easter Sunday. I love trying something new for breakfast on the weekends. I had some fresh herbs on hand from our dinner the previous night and some whole wheat tortillas I needed to use up. Personally, the fontina cheese is my favorite part. You can use any kind of cheese you'd like but I'm in love with fontina.

Cheesy Herb & Chive Breakfast Quesidillas
recipe by Sabrina W. for eat.drink.and be merry.
yields 2 servings
4 eggs
2 tablespoons finely chopped chives
2 tablespoons chooped parsley
4 tablespoons shredded fontina cheese
2 whole wheat tortillas
salt & pepper
2 tablespoons butter

Heat a medium sized frying pan on med to low heat, and melt 1 tablespoon butter. In a small bowl, beat eggs, fresh herbs, and salt and pepper. Pour eggs into frying pan and cook, stirring occasionally until they are just cooked through. Remove from pan and set aside. Wipe down pan and melt the other tablespoon of butter. Bring the pan to med-hi heat. Place one tortilla in pan. Place 1 tablespoon of cheese on one half of the tortilla. Top the same half with half of he scrambled eggs, and spinkle the eggs with another tablespoon of cheese. Fold over the tortilla over to meet the other side and carefully flip. Once browned on both sides, transfer to cutting board and slice into 3 pieces. Repeat to make the second quesidilla.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Vegan Coconut Cupcakes for Easter

Happy Easter Everyone!

This year we celebrated Easter with Eric's family; and since my mom's family was in Florida she came along as well.

A couple weeks ago I saw a recipe for Easter Egg Nest Cupcakes in my "Cupcakes" book by Shelly Kaldunski. They were so cute I thought I'd make them for Easter. Since there are many special diets in my husbands family, I thought I'd make them vegan to make sure they could be enjoyed by all.

My mom came over the night before to help me taste test and decorate them. They came out great! I couldn't believe how moist they turned out and the texture of the cupcake, frosting, and crunchy coconut was sooo good. It was acutally one of the best cupcakes I've tasted. As we know, I'm not a vegetarian or a vegan but I have a lot of respect for those that have made this committment. It really takes a lot of dedication and sacrifice. And it was fun taking on this challenge.

One note is that the eggs are unfortunately just for decoration if your vegan. They are whoppers! And I did use a yellow cake mix that was dairy free, egg free & nut free just to make life easier.

Vegan Coconut Cupcakes
yields 12 cupcakes
1 box Cherrybrook Kitchen Yellow Cake Mix (plus ingredients on the back of the box)
1/2 cup Earth Balance margarine, softened if its in sticks, not softened if its from the tub
4 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup rice milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cups shredded coconut

Make cupcakes accordning to back of the box. Set aside and cool completely before icing and decorating.

Make the buttercream frosting by beating together the margarine, sugar, milk, and vanilla. Add more or less sugar according to your taste. Let refridgerate for 20 minutes to thicken.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and spread out coconut on a baking sheet. Toast for about 8 to 11 minutes or until golden.

Ice the cupcakes with the frosting, sprinkle with toasted coconut, and arrange candy eggs on each. Refridgerate overnight and let come to room temperature before serving.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Slow-Cooked Beef & Bean Chili

As you know, there are millions and millions of chili recipes out there. So it really becomes impossible for me to decide on which recipe to make. Some are more chunky, some are really spicy, some have not so traditional ingredients like potatoes or corn, the list goes on and on! The truth is I want to make them all! But that would be again, impossible.

So, after asking friends, looking online and in books, and after a few failures, I settled on this creation. It's chunky, not so spicy, traditional but not so traditional, and super super easy as the slow cooker does most of the work!

I loved the idea of simmering the meat all day in beer and I think to add an even smokier flavor, next time I will add about 1 cup chopped chorizo. I also love how the addition of frozen sweet corn adds a sweetness to the chili.

So here is my version, enjoy!

Slow-Cooked Beef & Bean Chili
recipe by Sabrina W. for eat.drink.and be merry.
yields about 6-8 servings
1 package stew meat (about 1 1/2 lbs)
1 1/4 lbs ground beef
1 cup chopped chorizo (optional)
1 onion, diced
1-15 oz can fire roasted petite diced tomatoes
1-15 oz can black beans
1-15 oz can red kidney beans
1 small can diced green chilies
1 lb  frozen sweet corn
1 package your favorite chili seasonings
1 12oz bottle of beer (whatever you have on hand)
1-2 tablespoon flour, to thicken chili as needed
olive oil
cheddar cheese, for garnish

Heat a medium skillet on med-hi heat and drizzle with olive oil. Season stew meat with salt and lightly brown all sides of meat. The inside should be rare. Remove stew meat and add to the crock pot. Brown ground beef and add to the crock pot. Add diced onion and chorizo. Drain the canned beans and chilies and add them along with the frozen corn and diced tomatoes (do not drain). Mix together and add the beer and seasonings. Mix together and set the crock pot to low. Cook for 6-8 hours. Stir occasionally and at the last hour, stir in flour if needed. Serve with shredded cheese, tortilla chips, and cornbread.

Linked with : Savannah's Savory Bites

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Chicken Salad with Cranberries, Apples, & Walnuts

There is just something about the weather getting warmer that gets me excited about picnics! My chicken salad recipe is perfect for a packed lunch to go. I have brought it with me to the beach many times!

I have always loved my mom's Waldorf Salad recipe. So one day I asked her what was in it and I thought it would be perfect with chicken. I love the sweet and savory flavors of the apples & cranberries coated in the spices. I also substituted the traditional mayonnaise with greek yogurt to make it healthier. I couldn't tell the difference.

Chicken Salad with Cranberries, Apples, & Walnuts
recipe by Sabrina W. for eat.drink.and be merry.
yields 4 servings
3 medium chicken breasts, (or 4 cups leftover shredded chicken)
1 McIntosh apple, peeled and diced small and sprinkled with lemon juice
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup plain greek yogurt (or mayonnaise) 
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon sugar (I usually sprinkle in about 3 pinches) 
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
salt & pepper to your taste

Boil chicken until cooked through, about 15 minutes. Once cooled, shred the chicken into bite-sized pieces.

In a large bowl, mix shredded chicken, diced apple, cranberries, & walnuts. In a separate small bowl, combine yogurt and spices. You may like to adjust spices to your taste. Pour yogurt mixture in with chicken and toss. Refrigerate up to 30 minutes to allow flavors to marry. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Potato and Leek Soup with Bacon

I have always wanted to try Potato Leek soup so when I saw this recipe in the last Food Network Magazine, I new I had to try it! It was soooo good!! And really really easy and quick to make-which I love! The soup was nice and creamy, and the croutons reminded me of the ones they serve at Panera Bread!

I tweeked the recipe a little bit, by using Yukon gold potatoes instead of russet and added shredded parmesan cheese to the croutons. I also found this great rosemary and olive oil crusty bread at the store so I used it instead of plain. The soup was ready to serve in 30 minutes! I will definitely be making it again!

Potato Leek Soup with Bacon
recipe by Food Network Magazine
adapted recipe by Sabrina W. for eat.drink.and be merry.
yields 4 servings
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cups crusty bread of your choice, cubed
4 slices bacon, chopped
2 large leeks, white and light green parts only, halved and then thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
4-5 small to medium yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
salt & pepper
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cup frozen peas (do not thaw)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. To make the croutons, melt 1 tablespoon butter in a medium size bowl and toss in the bread cubes. Spread on a baking sheet and sprinkle with paprika and cheese. Bake for about 8 to 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a large stock pot over medium heat until crisp, about 8 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a paper towel-lined plate. Add the remaining butter, then add the leeks and garlic. (leeks can contain a lot of dirt between their layers, so it may help to half them and soak them in cold water for a few minutes to make sure they are thoroughly washed.) Cover and cook about 5 minutes. Add the broth, 2 cups water, the potatoes and 1/4 teaspoon of salt and pepper; cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, partially covered, until the potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes.

Puree half the soup in a blender or with a hand blender. If using a blender, remove the filler cap to let the steam out. Then return it to the pot. Add the cream and bring to a simmer. Add the peas and cook until tender, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and serve with croutons and chopped bacon.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Blood Orange Spritzer

A couple weekends ago I celebrated my 26th birthday. I really just wanted a mellow day relaxing with Eric. We went out for breakfast at one of my favorite restaurants, did some shopping, and stopped at our local fish market to pick up some fresh scallops for dinner. (Recipe coming soon!) We were going to go out for dinner but sometimes its just nice to stay in, so that's what we did!

To further celebrate, I thought I would mix up a refreshing drink using the giant bottle of orange vodka I have. (It was double the size for only a $1 more!) Unfortunately I could not find Blood Oranges so I had to use regular ones, but the blood orange sparkling water I found kind of made up for them.

Blood Orange Spritzer
recipe by Sabrina W. for eat.drink.and be merry
yields 2 servings
3 shots orange vodka (I used Three Olives RangTang)
2 cups blood orange sparkling water
1 large orange or 2 blood oranges
ice cubes

Pour ice in two tall glasses. Add 1 1/2 shot of vodka in each glass. Pour in 1 cup of sparkling water in each glass. Slice orange(s) in half. Juice 1 half in glasses and slice the other half of the orange. Stir and add orange slices.


Thursday, April 7, 2011

Cranberry Coconut Granola

I never realized how easy it was to make your own granola, and really I never thought about making it myself. There are so many wonderful varieties out there that I always bought them already prepared. But one day I was wondering what to do with the very large bag of sliced almonds that I had in my freezer and I thought maybe I'd give granola a try. I had other baking ingredients I had to use up too so instead of making cookies or muffins, I thought I would try something healthy.

Let me tell you the smell of the granola baking in the oven alone is worth making it yourself. My whole apartment smelt all warm and cinnamon-y! annnd it only took 20 minutes! really!

I also never had granola warm. It's heavenly! especially when paired with honey flavored chobani yogurt! I will always warm it up from now on.

Cranberry Coconut Granola
yields about 10 cups
recipe by Sabrina W. for eat.drink.and be merry.
4 cups rolled oats
2 cups sliced almonds
2 cups shredded coconut
1 1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Spray a large rectangle cake pan with cooking spray.

Mix together oats, almonds, coconut, cranberries, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Pour in oil and honey and stir until everything is coated. Add the extracts and stir together. Spread mixture in pan and sprinkle evenly with brown sugar. Bake for 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

You can also mix everything together in the baking pan if it's easier. Enjoy!!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Orange Cupcakes

I spent today with one of my best friends, Aly. We met about 8 years ago when we both waitressed at a local family restaurant. Since then we both have moved on to different jobs and apartments, and have gotten married. Aly is one of the most sweetest, thoughtful, and hilarious person I know. She and her wonderful husband (who is a fabulous cook!) are expecting their first child in September! Which is totally exciting and I couldn't be happier for them! 

One thing about Aly that stands out is her obsession for the color orange. Aly has EVERYTHING orange. She has purses, sheets, candles, shoes, scarfs, keychains, pens, lamps, blankets, EVERYTHING orange. It's absolutely wonderful! This is a well known signature trait of Aly's so all her family and friends have given her even more things in orange. You should have seen the giant pile of orange presents at her bridal shower. She even (obviously) dressed us bridesmaids in the most beautiful orange one-shoulder gowns! (see below) 

So when I was thinking about what I could bake for her to celebrate their first pregnancy, I immediately thought - ORANGE CUPCAKES!

I took the recipe from the Red Velvet Cupcakes I made a couple months ago and tweeked it a little bit. I obviously took out the coco powder, and added orange marmalade and orange zest. They came out surprisingly pretty good. I topped them with cream cheese frosting and sprinkled them with orange sugar. To make them special, I packed them in cupcake boxes from Michael's with orange tissue paper.

October 9, 2010

Orange Cupcakes
recipe by Sabrina W. for eat.drink.and be merry.
yields 24 cupcakes
2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
zest of 1 orange
1/3 cup orange marmalade

Cream Cheese Frosting
12 oz of cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 sticks butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups confectioners sugar

orange sugar for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 muffin pans (12 cups each) with cupcake liners.

In a medium mixing bowl, mix together all of the dry ingredients. (flour, sugar, salt, baking soda)

In a large bowl, beat together the wet ingredients (eggs, oil, buttermilk, vanilla extract, orange zest, and marmalade) 

Mix in dry ingredients a little at a time until well blended.  Fill each cup 2/3 of the way. Bake for 15-20 minutes. If you have hot spots in your oven, you may want to turn the pans halfway through baking. Cool completely before topping with frosting.

For the frosting: Beat together butter, cream cheese, and vanilla until smooth. Add the powdered sugar and beat on low until blended. Frost cupcakes with a spoon or with a pastry tip and bag. Sprinkle with sugar.

Visiting out best friend Lisa in Florida. Lisa also worked with us at the restaurant and moved to FL about 3 years ago. We are all still very close and make and effort to reunite every year!


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