TORTILLA SOUP

 

Does it seem like I’ve been visiting the Pioneer Woman’s site a lot lately? I have made a lot of her recipes in the past couple of weeks. Maybe it’s because she has a lot of good Mexican food and comfort food recipes and that’s what I crave when the weather gets cold. I saw this recipe for tortilla soup the other day and knew I had to try it. It’s really tasty. Matthew, who never eats anything, had two bowls, and Andrew asked to take it to school for lunch the next day. I call that a success. It’s a little bit time consuming, but most of that is hands-off work. It has to simmer for a while. I think you could easily make this in the crock pot and add the tortilla strips a few minutes before you’re ready to serve it. I topped mine with cheese, sour cream, and fresh avocado. Yum!

Tortilla Soup

2 whole boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1-½ tsp. cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
½ tsp. garlic powder
½ tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 c. diced onion
¼ c. diced green bell pepper
¼ c. red bell pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 can Rotel tomatoes and green chiles
32 oz., fluid low sodium chicken stock
3 Tbsp. tomato paste
4 c. hot water
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
3 Tbsp. cornmeal
5 whole corn tortillas, cut into 2 to 3 inch strips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix cumin, chili pepper, garlic powder, and salt. Drizzle 1 tablespoon olive oil on chicken breasts, then sprinkle a small amount of spice mix on both sides. Set aside the rest of the spice mix. Place chicken breasts on a baking sheet. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until chicken is done. Use two forks to shred chicken. Set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a pot over medium high heat. Add onions, red pepper, green pepper, and minced garlic. Stir and begin cooking, then add the rest of the spice mix. Stir to combine, then add shredded chicken and stir. Pour in Rotel, chicken stock, tomato paste, water, and black beans. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for 45 minutes, uncovered.

Mix cornmeal with a small amount of water. Pour into the soup, then simmer for an additional 30 minutes. Check seasonings, adding more if needed—add more chili powder if it needs more spice, and be sure not to undersalt. Turn off heat and allow to sit for 15 to 20 minutes before serving. Five minutes before serving, gently stir in tortilla strips. Ladle into bowls, then top with sour cream, diced red onion, diced avocado, pico de gallo, and/or grated cheese.

Source: The Pioneer Woman; Photo also courtesy of the Pioneer Woman (I forgot to take a picture again. Doh!)

THE MOST AMAZING ENCHILADAS

I love Mexican food. I make a it a lot at home because my family likes it and I find that most of it is pretty easy to make. The boys are really partial to burritos. Jason would eat anything as long as it was wrapped up in a tortilla, and Andrew is pretty much the same way. I’ve made the Pioneer Woman’s burritos and chicken enchiladas before, and I also noticed the beef enchiladas and have been meaning to make them for a while. I’m so glad I finally did. These are spectacular! They are fantastic left over too. I made one pan of a dozen and had plenty of meat and sauce left over for another pan (I used small white corn tortillas), but I used the leftovers to make my easy burritos the next day instead. I did not use the black olives or green onions in my enchiladas, simply because I didn’t have any, and they were still amazing without them. These enchiladas are a little bit time consuming, but SO worth it. I had to borrow the Pioneer Woman’s photo becaues they didn’t last long enough for me to get a picture. Try them this weekend. You’ll be glad you did.

Beef Enchiladas

Sauce:
1 Tbsp. canola oil
1 Tbsp. flour
3 7 3/4 oz. cans El Pato Mexican tomato sauce
2 c. chicken broth
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/4 c. finely chopped cilantro1-½ pound Ground Beef

Meat:
1 1/2 to 2 lbs. ground beef
1 onion, finely diced
2 4 oz. cans diced green chiles
1/2 tsp. salt

Tortillas:
12 to 14 white corn tortillas
1/2 c. canola oil

To assemble:
3 c. grated sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 c. chopped cilantro
1/2 c. chopped black olives, optional
1 c. chopped green onions, optional

To make the sauce:
In a large saucepan over medium heat, add oil and flour and whisk together to make a paste, cooking for one minute. Pour in the red sauce, chicken broth, cilantro, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

To make the meat:
Brown the meat with onions and green chiles in a skillet. Drain off fat. Season with salt and set aside.

To make the tortillas:
Heat canola oil in a small skillet over medium heat. One by one, using tongs, fry tortillas in oil until soft and pliable, but not crisp – about 30 seconds per side. Remove to a paper—towel lined plate. Repeat until all tortillas have been fried.

To assemble:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9×13 baking pan lightly with non-stick spray. Dip each tortilla into red sauce, then remove to work surface. Spoon meat, a little grated cheese, a little black olives and green onions, if using, in the center of each tortilla. Roll up and place, seam down, in baking pan. Repeat until pan is filled. Pour extra red sauce over enchiladas to cover. You may not use all the sauce, but you can use the rest for another pan of enchiladas depending on how much meat you have left over.  Top with remaining cheddar cheese.

Bake for 20 minutes or until bubbly. Sprinkle cilantro over enchiladas and top with sour cream, if desired, before serving.

Source: Adapted from The Pioneer Woman. Photo also courtesy of The Pioneer Woman.

TOMATO BASIL SOUP

Okay, you’re going to think I’m weird, but I have never eaten tomato soup in my life. Seriously. It’s been cold and windy here lately, so I’ve been craving soup. I’ve had this recipe in my list of things to try for some time, so I decided to go ahead and try it. I will definitely be making this again. This is a great soup to have on a cold day. Roasting the tomatoes makes them incredibly rich and the fresh basil gives the soup a wonderful hint of fresh herb sweetness. It’s great for a light lunch or along with a salad and crusty bread or sandwiches for dinner. I served this with grilled cheese sandwiches and it was a hearty wintertime meal. This recipe makes a large batch, but it’s even better the next day, and it freezes beautifully. Directions for freezing follow the recipe.

Tomato Basil Soup

2 28 oz. cans whole tomatoes
salt and pepper
1/4 c. plus 2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 carrots
2 ribs celery
1 yellow onion
2 cloves chopped garlic
4 Tbsp. butter
1 can chicken broth
1 bay leaf
12 to 14 leaves fresh basil
1 c. heavy cream, optional

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Strain tomatoes, reserving juice. Place the tomatoes on a rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with 1/4 c. olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Roast for 15 minutes, or until caramelized.

While tomatoes are roasting, chop the carrots, celery and onion. Heat 2 Tbsp. butter and the remaining 2 Tbsp. olive oil in a large saucepan. Saute the vegetables, along with the chopped garlic for 10 minutes, or until softened. Remove tomatoes from the oven and add them to the pan, along with the reserved tomato juice, chicken broth, and bay leaf. Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Add basil and remaining 2 Tbsp. butter. Puree in batches in a blender or use an immersion blender. Add cream before serving.

*If you’d like to freeze the soup, you may do so, but do not add the cream before freezing. Thaw and reheat and add the cream before serving.

PROJECT PASTRY QUEEN: MOTHER’S DAY PANCAKES

It’s my turn again to choose the recipe for Project Pastry Queen, and this time I chose Mother’s Day Pancakes. I could eat breakfast food for every meal of every day, and pancakes are my absolute favorite breakfast food.
I’ve tried over and over again to make perfect, fluffy pancakes on my own, and I’m just not very good at it. These pancakes turned out pretty darn good, though. I had some brown bananas that I needed to use, so I used the “Rather Sweet Variation” and added banana and mini chocolate chips to my pancakes. The kids scarfed them, and I really liked them too. The banana and chocolate chips made them feel more like a dessert than breakfast, which is probably why the kids liked them so much. I think this is a great pancake recipe, and I will be trying it again soon without the add-ins.  I am posting the original recipe for those of you who don’t want the add-ins, and I’ve included the banana chocolate chip pancake variation below. This recipe gives a range for the amount of buttermilk to use; if you want thicker pancakes use less buttermilk, and if you like thinner pancakes, use more.

Mother’s Day Pancakes

2 large eggs
3 1/2 to 4 c. buttermilk
1 tsp. baking soda
3 c. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. sugar
1/4 c. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp. vanilla extract, optional
1 Tbsp. butter, for frying

Whisk together the eggs and buttermilk in a large bowl. Add the baking soda and mix until combined. Add the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar; whisk until just incorporated. Stir in the melted butter and vanilla. Pour the batter into a pitcher. (At this point, the batter will keep for 2 to 3 days, covered and refrigerated). Set a griddle or frying pan on the stove over medium heat. Add some of the butter for frying; when it begins to foam, pour some of the batter into the pan to make pancakes of whatever size you wish. When the bubbles form on top of the pancakes, flip them and cook until the bottoms are golden brown. Serve immediately.

To make chocolate chip banana pancakes, mash 2 ripe  bananas or cut them into 1/4 inch slices and stir them into the batter. Cook as directed above. To make chocolate banana pancakes, stir in 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips with the bananas. Your kids will love them.

Source: The Pastry Queen

CHICKEN ENCHILADA CHOWDER

I love crock pot soups and they are great meals for fall and winter. I have a lot of these types of recipes that are my staples, because they are so easy to throw together and they taste delicious. Most taste even better the next day, so I  usually put the leftovers in several small tupperware containers and take them to work for lunch.

When my mom told me about this crock pot soup recipe, I knew I needed to try it. It was super easy to make and the family really liked it. It tastes just like chicken enchiladas! I will definitely add this one to my crock pot soup rotation. If you use the Mexican tomato sauce and the pepper jack cheese, it’s a bit spicy, so if you want to tone it down a little, you can use mild enchilada sauce and/or plain jack cheese instead.

Chicken Enchilada Chowder

1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 10-ounce package frozen whole kernel corn
I small onion, chopped
1 small bell pepper, chopped
2 small cans El Pato Mexican tomato sauce or 1 10-ounce can enchilada sauce
1 10.75-ounce can condensed cream of chicken soup
2 cups milk
1 cup shredded Pepperjack cheese (4 ounces)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (4 ounces)
4 chicken breasts (can still be frozen)

In a crock pot, combine drained beans, tomatoes, corn, onion, and bell pepper. Top with chicken breasts. In a large bowl, whisk together enchilada sauce or Mexican tomato sauce and soup. Gradually whisk in milk until smooth. Pour sauce mixture over ingredients in cooker.

Cover; cook on low heat for 6 to 8 hours or on high for 4 to 5 hours.

Remove chicken from crock pot and shred. Add chicken back into soup. Stir in shredded cheeses until melted just before serving. Serve with crushed tortilla chips and avocado or sour cream, if desired.

Source: Adapted from Taste and Tell

MEXICAN CHICKEN CASSEROLE

I am so sorry I have been gone for so long. Life has been hectic around my house. We had a garage sale this past Saturday and I have been consumed with cleaning out my cabinets, closets, and attic and trying to figure out how to get a 16 foot trailer full of my junk priced in just a week. Yuck. On top of that, my kiddo has had the stomach bug, which let me tell you, is about as fun as having a garage sale. I have some posts ready so I will try to get those up on a more regular basis than I have been posting. I’ve got some yummy stuff to share with you, this recipe included. So, without further adieu…

When I first saw this recipe on Annie’s Eats, I wasn’t sure about it. It looked really good, but I’m very weird about food texture, and I wasn’t sure if I would like the texture of this casserole. However, I was needing a quick and easy meal for dinner and I had all the ingredients for this on hand, so I thought we’d try it. I’m so glad we did! The whole family loved it, and so did I. Though the tortilla chips are soaked in chicken broth, there is no soggy texture to this dish. We had it left over the next day and it was even better. This is a delicious 30 minute meal that I will make over and over again.

Chicken Tortilla Casserole

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, butterflied into halves (4 halves total)
2 tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 small onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 tbsp. minced chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
1¾ c. chicken broth
5 c. tortilla chips, broken into large pieces
1 can Rotel diced tomatoes and green chiles, drained
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
4 oz. Mexican blend cheese, shredded
2 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro

Directions:
Pat the chicken breast halves dry and season with salt and pepper.  Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the chicken to the pan and cook until golden brown on both sides (chicken does not need to be fully cooked at this point.)  Transfer to a plate and set aside.

Add the remaining oil, onion, garlic, chipotle, and ¼ teaspoon of salt.  Cook just until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Add the chicken broth, scrape the browned bits from the bottom of the pan, and bring to a simmer. Stir in half of the tortilla chips.  Nestle the chicken into the broth and cook over medium-low heat until cooked through (reading 160° F on an instant-read thermometer), about 10 minutes.  Transfer the cooked chicken pieces to a cutting board and shred into bite-sized pieces when it is cool enough to handle.

Return the shredded chicken to the skillet with the Rotel, black beans, ½ cup of the shredded cheddar cheese, and 1 tablespoon of the cilantro.  Stir in the other half of the tortilla chips until they are incorporated and moistened.

Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top and place the pan under the broiler until the cheese is melted and browning, about 3 to 5 minutes.  Top with remaining cilantro and serve, allowing the casserole to cool 5 minutes before serving.

Source: Adapted from Annie’s Eats

PROJECT PASTRY QUEEN: JAILHOUSE POTATO CINNAMON ROLLS

This week, I got to choose the recipe for Project Pastry Queen: jailhouse potato cinnamon rolls. The reason I chose this recipe was that I wanted to compare them to the Pioneer Woman’s cinnamon rolls that I make all the time. Lucky for me, we had food day at work on Friday, so I had a place to take them because if they had remained in my house, I would have gained 10 pounds and my kids would be on a constant sugar high. I kept a couple of smaller pans at the house for the kiddos, and they have not lasted long. These rolls are so soft and sweet and decadent.

I think the texture is not very different from the Pioneer Woman’s rolls, but these are a little more involved to make because you have the extra step of making the mashed potatoes. Of course, the icing is different too, but I changed it up a bit and doubled the amount, using the Pioneer Woman’s recipe as inspiration. My changes are noted below in the recipe but I included the original recipe below as well. I asked a lot of people at work which recipe they preferred.

Some said they couldn’t tell the difference, and others said that they found these rolls to be more moist and still others said they like the Pioneer Woman’s recipe better. I think it’s a toss up as far as taste goes. These are absolutely delicious and are worth the work for a special occasion.

As everyone else in the PPQ group has said, the dough for these rolls is a pain in the rear end to work with. It is very wet and soft and falls apart easily. I always preheat my oven for a minute or so and then turn it off and put the dough in there to rise, since my kitchen is quite drafty. That was a big mistake with this dough.

When I went to check on it at about 45 minutes into the rise time, the dough had exploded all over my oven. I had put it in a very large bowl to rise, but when it reached the top, it just started spilling over the edges. It was everywhere! I probably lost about 1/4 of the dough. Even so, I ended up with 4 dozen cinnamon rolls from one recipe (double what the recipe says you’ll get). My advice to make the dough easier to handle is to really flour your work surface, hands, rolling pin, and dough as you work with it.

It really tries to fall apart when you roll it up, so be careful not to roll it out too thin to begin with. (I realized as I typed the recipe that it says to chill the dough and I did not do that. Maybe that’s why it was so hard to work with?) I really liked these rolls but I think I prefer making the Pioneer Woman’s rolls better, just because they are less time consuming and the dough is easier to handle.

When I make cinnamon rolls, I usually make them in the evening and bake them the next morning. I have found that once you get the rolls cut and in the pans, you can cover and refrigerate the pans overnight and the rolls will actually rise most of the way in the refrigerator.

I pull them out and put them on the counter about 20 to 30 minutes before I’m ready to bake them. This always works like a charm and I don’t have to wait for the second rise time. Thanks to the Project Pastry Queen girls for letting me choose the recipe this week!


Jailhouse Potato Cinnamon Rolls

Dough:
2 medium russet potatoes, peeled, quartered, boiled and mashed
Reserve 3 c. of potato water
1 oz active dry yeast (4 pkgs.)
3/4 c. plus 1 tsp. sugar
3 lg. eggs
2 tsp. salt
9 c. flour

Filling:
4 c. toasted pecans, optional (I didn’t use them)
4 c. firmly packed brown sugar
2 Tbsp. cinnamon
2 sticks butter, melted

Icing:
2 lbs. powdered sugar
1/2 c. milk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 stick butter, melted

Butter two 9X13 disposable foil pans by greasing using butter or Pam (you will probably need more pans, depending on how many rolls you end up with. I used 4). Wash, peel and dice the potatoes and boil until fork tender. After boiling the potatoes, set aside 3 cups of the potato water and let cool to 110 degrees using a candy thermometer, or to the temp of hot water coming out of the faucet. Mash potatoes in a large bowl, set aside. Sprinkle yeast over the water, stir until dissolved, add 1 tsp. sugar. Allow to rest for 5 minutes until foamy.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk the mashed potatoes and 3/4 cup sugar together. Add the melted butter, eggs , salt and potato water and mix until smooth. Add the flour 3 cups at a time. After the dough begins to get thick, switch to the dough hook and add the remaining flour. Mix until all the flour is incorporated.  Place the dough in a large greased bowl. Cover with a damp cloth and leave in a warm place until the dough is doubled in size, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Leaving the dough in the bowl, flour your hands and punch it down until it deflates. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. At this point the dough can be refrigerated until the next day. You can proceed from here, but it is easier to handle the dough after it has chilled.

With floured hands, remove the dough from the bowl onto a well floured surface and divide in half. Using a rolling pin, roll each half into a 1/4 inch thick rectangle. About 20 X 10. Spread each rectangle with half the butter. Then half the brown sugar mix. Then half the chopped pecans.

Starting with the long side, carefully roll the dough. Using a very sharp floured serated knife, cut each roll crosswise in 2 to 3 inch slices. Place the slices, cut side down, in the foil pans spacing about one inch apart so they have room to expand. Make sure the end flap of each roll is set snugly against a side of the pan. At this point the rolls can be tightly wrapped in polastic wrap and a layer of foil and frozen up to 3 weeks. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight or for one hour at room temperature and continue following the directions from this point. Leaving them covered, set the rolls in a warm draft free place and let them rise until they get puffy, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Remove covering and bake the rolls for 20 to 25 minutes or until light brown.

Combine icing ingredients with a whisk and drizzle over warm rolls.

*I changed the icing substantially. The original recipe calls for 2 1/2 c. powdered sugar, 1/4 c. milk and 1/2 tsp. vanilla.

Source: Adapted from The Pastry Queen by Rebecca Rather

PROJECT PASTRY QUEEN: TEXAS BIG HAIRS ALMOND TARTS

This week’s Project Pastry Queen recipe was chosen by Joelen of What’s Cookin’ Chicago. I liked this recipe because it was easy to adjust to make smaller or larger portions. I halved the recipe and prepared it in a 6 inch springform pan because I didn’t need more than one tart. This was a great exercise in “using what you have” for me, because I made a lot of changes based on what was in my pantry. I used almonds instead of hazlenuts, almond extract instead of Frangelico, vanilla extract instead of vanilla bean, and I had to make my own powdered sugar, because I was out. (To make powdered sugar, place 1 cup granulated sugar and 1 teaspoon cornstarch in a blender, and blend until the sugar is powdered. So easy!)

This tart is very, very rich. I think it would be fun to experiment with different types of chocolate, because the bittersweet was a bit bitter. The marshmallow flavor in the meringue was a good balance for the bittersweet chocolate, though. Cut yourself a tiny sliver, and it will be plenty to satisfy a craving for something sweet. I posted my version of the full recipe below. for the original recipe, visit Joelen’s site.

 

Texas Big Hairs Almond Tarts

Crust:
1/3 c. almonds
1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature + more for greasing pans
1/2 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp. almond extract
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 c. flour

Ganache:
1 c. whipping cream
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1/8 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
7 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

Meringue:
4 large egg whites, at room temperature
3/4 c. sugar

To make the crust:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. With your fingers, butter four 4 3/8-inch, 1-cup capacity tartlet pans, using about 1 generous tablespoon softened unsalted butter total.

Arrange the almonds on a baking sheet in a single layer and toast them in the oven for 7-9 minutes, until golden brown and aromatic. (Alternatively, you can place them in a dry nonstick skillet and toast the hazelnuts on the stovetop.) Chop the almonds and set aside.

Using a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl at medium-high speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Mix in the almond extract and salt. Gradually add the flour and combine on low speed until just incorporated. Add the almonds and mix on low speed just until incorporated. Form the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator, divide into 4 equal portions, and press into the prepared pans, making sure the dough comes up to the top edge of the pans. Bake 12-15 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool for 30 minutes. (Don’t worry if the tart bottoms look wrinkly.) At this point, the crusts can be cooled and stored in airtight containers for up to 2 days.

To make the ganache:
In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the cream, butter, salt and vanilla extract. Bring to a gentle boil over medium heat. Remove the pan from the heat. Put the chopped chocolate in a large bowl and pour the hot cream over it. Let stand for 5 minutes, then whisk until smooth. Spoon the ganache into the tart shells, dividing it evenly among them. Refrigerate the tarts at least 30 minutes, or until the ganache is set.

To make the meringue:
Set a the perfectly clean bowl of your mixer over a pot of simmering water. Pour in the egg whites and sugar. (Note: if there is a trace of fat in the bowl, the eggs won’t reach their proper volume.) Heat the egg whites and sugar while whisking constantly until the sugar melts and there are no visible grains in the meringue. Take a little meringue mixture and rub it between your fingers to make sure all the sugar grains have melted and dissolved. Remove the meringue from over the simmering water and whip it with a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment on low speed for 5 minutes; then increase the speed to high and whisk for 5 more minutes, until the meringue is stiff and shiny.

Position an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat the broiler. Pile the meringue on top of the cooled tarts, being sure to seal each tart by spreading the meringue to the edge of the pan. Style the meringe with your fingers by plucking at it to tease the meringue into jagged spikes. (For those who don’t like the hands on approach, shape the meringue with the back of a spoon.)

Broil the tarts until the meringue turns golden brown. Watch the tarts carefully, as they can turn from browned to burned in a matter of seconds. (If you are using a kitchen torch, hold it 2-3 inches away from the meringue until it is browned all over.) The tarts should be served the day they are assembled.

*I halved the recipe and prepared one tart, using a 6-inch springform pan.

Source: The Pastry Queen, by Rebecca Rather

COOK IT FROZEN SALMON AND FRUIT SALAD

The folks at Alaska Seafood have initiated a campaign to encourage people to cook Alaskan seafood frozen for speedier, easier meals. They were kind enough to send me some beautiful frozen Alaskan salmon so I could try this new way of preparing it using one of my favorite recipes. I would have never considered cooking salmon straight from the freezer, but it’s great. You get the nutrition and freshness of wild Alaskan salmon without the wait for thawing and marinating. It’s ready in less than 20 minutes. As a busy mom, it’s hard to get a healthy dinner on the table quickly. Salmon is packed with high-quality protein, essential vitamins and minerals, and it also contains heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids and is a powerhouse of good nutrition. The fact that I can pull it from the freezer, cook it, and have dinner on the table in less than 30 minutes makes this a fantastic thing for me. I want to eat healthy and I want to feed my family nutritious meals, but I need to be able to prepare them quickly.

I love salmon and eat it often. My favorite recipe is my grilled Asian salmon, so I used that recipe for the “cook it frozen” salmon. I changed the method a little bit to allow for the fact that the salmon was frozen. I served it with steamed vegetables and a fruit salad with honey lime dressing. It was a delicious and refreshing summer meal, and it was super healthy! If you’d like to try cooking seafood straight from the freezer, visit the Alaska Seafood website to learn more about where to buy and how to prepare Alaska seafood.

Grilled Asian Salmon…The Cook It Frozen Way

4 to 5 skinless Cook It Frozen salmon fillets
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 heaping tsp. chopped garlic
1 tsp. ginger powder
2 tsp. soy sauce
2 tsp. pure maple syrup
1 Tbsp. dried onion or finely diced onion (I used Tastefully Simple Onion Onion seasoning)

Heat grill to 400 degress. Rince salmon under cold water to remove any ice crystals and pat dry. Place salmon in a pie plate or shallow dish. Mix all ingredients together and pour over the salmon, making sure it is coated well. Tear an 18 inch wide piece of aluminum foil so it is 4 inches longer than the salmon, and place the salmon on the foil. Pour half of the remaining marinade on the salmon and bring the sides of the foil together and fold several times to seal the packet. Place the salmon packet on the grill, seam side down, and grill for 8 to 10 minutes. Open the packet and brush salmon with the remaining marinade. Loosely seal the packet back up and grill for an additional 6 to 8 minutes, or until salmon is opaque and firm to the touch.

*If you’d like for the salmon to have grill marks and a little bit of charring, you can cook it for the last couple of minutes directly on the grill.

Fruit Salad with Honey Lime Dressing

3 c. seedless watermelon, cubed
5 to 6 peaches or nectarines, sliced
1 pint strawberries, hulled and halved
6 Tbsp. honey
2 Tbsp. lime juice
1/4 tsp. salt

Place fruit in a large bowl. Whisk the honey and lime juice together and drizzle over fruit. Sprinkle with salt. Stir gently to combine.

Source: adapted from Rookie Cookie

SOUTHERN BUTTERMILK BISCUITS

I am on a quest to make biscuits that taste better than what I can buy in a can. These are pretty darn close and they turned out pretty good for a novice biscuit maker like myself. I’m sure with practice, I will learn how not to overwork the dough and how to make my biscuits  even lighter and fluffier. These are fairly foolproof, though. They are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.

The kids asked for them later in the day for a snack and gobbled up the leftovers the next morning. If you fold the dough over on itself a few times before flattening it out, more air will be incorporated into the dough and will give you a taller, lighter biscuit. Just be careful not to overwork the dough.

If you mess with it too much, you will end up with a tough biscuit. A food processor can be used to make the dough and makes it a little bit easier to avoid overmixing. If you want to make these in advance, you can freeze the cut biscuits for up to a month. Just pull as many biscuits as you want from the freezer and bake them from frozen at 450 degrees for 20 minutes.

Southern Buttermilk Biscuits

2 c. all purpose flour
6 Tbsp. cold butter
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 c. butter, melted

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Mix dry ingredients together and cut in butter with a fork or pastry cutter until butter is incorporated and mixture is crumbly. Pour in buttermilk and stir the dough, just until incorporated. Be careful not to overwork the dough. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and lightly flatten the dough and then gently fold it over itself a few times. Gently flatten it out again with your hands until it is about 1/2 inch thick – do not use a rolling pin. Cut biscuits out with a biscuit cutter and place in a cake pan or on a rimmed cookie sheet very close together (this will help biscuits to rise higher when baking and will result in soft edges). Brush the tops of the biscuits with melted butter. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until golden brown. Brush the tops again with melted butter and serve warm.

*You can use a food processor to make the dough. Just be sure to pulse only a few times until the butter is cut into the dry ingredients, and then only a few times more until the buttermilk is incorporated.

Source: Adapted from Recipezaar