Apple & Brown Sugar Soy Chicken

Fall dinner. Apple and brown sugar soy chicken from the crockpot. Apple crisp for dessert. All courtesy of the millions of apples we picked in Charlottesville the other week! The house smells decadent 🙂

The meal itself was super easy to make. Chicken breasts. 1 cup of apple juice. A few tablespoons of lemon juice. 1/2 cup soy sauce. 1/2 cup brown sugar (or to taste.) Toss in a few apple slices, if you have them. Cook on low in the crockpot for 6-8 hours. Serve over rice!

The apple crisp was good but not worth sharing yet – I have a better recipe Ill try later!

(Taken with Instagram)

Culinary Delight #10: Pancake Cupcake with Maple Buttercream & Bacon

This is the first cupcake I’ve made from scratch that wasn’t overly heavy or dense, but boy was it sweet. I was skeptical of the whole concept but it’s actually pretty good – and Chuck downed a whole plate of them and made me keep the excess frosting. It’s straight up brown sugar and maple syrup though, so they’re a bit sticky. Easier to eat with a spoon almost!

Pancake Cupcake Ingredients

2 1/2 cups flour

2 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1 stick or 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup light-brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 1/4 cups maple syrup

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup walnuts or pecans, finely chopped (optional)

Instructions:

Preheat your oven 350 degrees. Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and ginger together. Set aside.

Beat the butter and sugar on medium speed in a large bowl until they are fluffy. (Your butter must be soft!) Add in eggs, syrup and vanilla. Mix until blended. Then mix in the flour mixture alternating with the buttermilk. Do about one-third of the flour and then one-third of the buttermilk, and so on. Add the nuts if using.

Fill muffin or cupcake tins, either lined or buttered, according to your preference. Cook for approximately 20 minutes or until your tester comes out clean. Cool totally and then ice with Maple-Butter Frosting.

Maple-Butter Frosting Ingredients

1 cup of softened, unsalted butter

3 ounces of cream cheese, also softened

2/3 cup of dark-brown sugar (I use golden)

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup of maple syrup

3/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract

1 cup of confectioners’ (icing) sugar

Instructions: 

Beat the softened butter, cream cheese, brown sugar and salt in a medium-sized bowl until fluffy. Once again, it is critical that your ingredients be softened. While you keep beating, add both the maple syrup and the vanilla. Slowly add the confectioners’ sugar and gradually increase the speed to high. Continue beating until the icing is fluffy.

Chill the maple-butter frosting for one hour before using.

Breakfast for dessert!!

Culinary Delight #9: Chicken in Basil Cream Sauce

Sooo good but sooo rich! I think next time I will bake the chicken so that it’s healthier. No need to fry it in all that butter…the sauce is what matters anyways. 🙂 I served it over angel hair pasta with sliced tomatoes.

Ingredients:

1/4 cup milk

1/4 cup dry bread crumbs

2-4 chicken breasts

3 tbsp butter

1/2 cup chicken broth

1 cup heavy cream

1 can (4 oz) Pimento, diced

1/4 cup fresh Basil, minced

1/2 cup grated Parmesan

Pepper to taste

Instructions:

Heat the skillet over medium-high heat. Place the milk and bread crumbs in separate, shallow bowls. Dip and coat the chicken in the milk bowl, then in the bread crumbs bowl.

Add the chicken to the skillet with half of the butter. Flip the chicken to cook the other side and add the rest of the butter. When the chicken is fully cooked, remove and keep warm.

Add the broth to the skillet and bring to a boil over medium heat to remove fond. Stir in the cream and pimentos; boil and stir for 1 minute. Reduce the heat and add the parmesan cheese, basil, adn pepper. Cook until heated through.

Serve the chicken with the sauce poured over and enjoy. Would be good with rice or pasta!!

I was craving straight up chocolate decadence last night, so I whipped up a devils food chocolate layer cake (just out of a box) with semi sweet morsels and a cream cheese frosting center… And a rather lopsided powdered sugar heart on top? 🙂 I added a few tablespoons of heavy whipping cream for extra richness!!

I’m not gonna lie, it tastes GLORIOUS.

(Taken with Instagram)

Cakes have gotten a bad rap. People equate virtue with turning down dessert. There is always one person at the table who holds up her hand when I serve the cake. No, really, I couldn’t she says, and then gives her flat stomach a conspiratorial little pat. Everyone who is pressing a fork into that first tender layer looks at the person who declined the plate, and they all think, That person is better than I am. That person has discipline. But that isn’t a person with discipline; that is a person who has completely lost touch with joy. A slice of cake never made anybody fat. You don’t eat the whole cake. You don’t eat a cake every day of your life. You take the cake when it is offered because the cake is delicious. You have a slice of cake and what it reminds you of is someplace that’s safe, uncomplicated, without stress. A cake is a party, a birthday, a wedding. A cake is what’s served on the happiest days of your life. This is a story of how my life was saved by cake, so, of course, if sides are to be taken, I will always take the side of cake.

– Jeanne Ray

Culinary Delight #8: Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes

These are one of my favorite cupcakes yet! Even my more health-conscious friends ate two, and Chuck had four. There’s no combo better for the beginning of summer than strawberries  and lemonade 🙂

For the cupcakes:

2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature

2 cups sugar

4 eggs

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 cup lemonade powder mix (Country Time was really good)

1 cup milk

3 tbsp lemon juice

1 tbsp lemon zest

1 tsp vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line muffin pans with liners. In a medium bowl, mix the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, salt, lemonade powder, lemon zest, and set aside.

IN another bowl, cream butter and sugar until combined. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Add the lemon juice and vanilla. Mix well. Gradually add the dry ingredients and the milk, alternating starting and ending with the dry ingredients and mix until combined.

Fill the liners about 2/3 full. Bake for 20 minutes, then cool for 5 minutes. Ice with Strawberry Lemon Frosting.

For the Frosting:


2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature

4 cups powdered sugar

3 tbsp strawberry puree (I used more than that – I pureed something like 5-7 strawberries)

1 tsp lemon zest

Cream the butter for 1-2 minutes. Gradually add powdered sugar until well mixed. Mix in the strawberry puree and lemon zest. Frost your cupcakes!

**I topped my cupcakes with strawberry slices, but they ended up molding over time – so I had to throw everything out 😦 It was yummy though, so next time I will just add the strawberry slice to a few, and add after that as I go along. **

Culinary Delight #7: Pan-Roasted Apple Garlic Chicken

I’m proud of this one because it’s a tasty and easy diversion from my usual unhealthy comfort foods. I’m also proud because I kinda sorta came up with it myself! It was originally going to be lemon-garlic chicken, but I thought the lemon was too strong. I had apple chicken served at my wedding, and it was just amazing, so I started substituting in this recipe to get a similar effect. FYI, this picture was taken when I used lemons, and it doesn’t do it justice.. it’s way juicier and more golden 🙂

1/4 cup olive oil

1 apple, half thinly sliced, the other half cut into chunks

1/4 cup apple juice

1 tbsp lemon juice

4 cloves minced garlic

Salt and pepper to taste

3/4 pound trimmed green beans

8 small red potatoes, quartered

4 chicken breasts

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and lightly coat a casserole dish with olive oil. Arrange apple slices in a single layer on the bottom of the dish.

In a large bowl, combine the oil, apple juice, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and pepper. Add the green beans and toss to coat. Using a slotted spoon or tongs, remove the green beans and arrange them on top of the apple slices.

Add the potatoes to the same olive-oil mixture and toss to coat. Arrange the potatoes along the inside edge of the dish or skillet on top of the green beans. Place the chicken in the same bowl with the olive-oil mixture and coat thoroughly. Place the chicken, skin-side up, in the dish or skillet. Arrange apple chunks around the chicken and potatoes. Pour any of the remaining olive-oil mixture over the chicken.

Roast for 50 minutes. Remove the chicken from the dish. Place the beans and potatoes back in the oven for 10 more minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Place the chicken back in the dish, cool, and serve!

Culinary Delight #6: Garden Chicken Enchiladas

This is another easy one that I inherited from my mom. It’s one of my all-time favorite dinners growing up, and it tastes great re-heated, too!

Ingredients

10 oz can cream of chicken soup
8 oz sour cream (I add a little more because I’m decadent like that)
2 cups diced cooked chicken breast (Usually about 2 large breasts – I shred mine with a fork)
10 oz frozen chopped broccoli, thawed
1/2 cup finely chopped red pepper
1/2 cup chopped green onion
2 cups (8 oz) Mexican Blend Cheese (I add a little more, since we are cheese-a-holics)
8” flour tortillas
**If you are used to something a little spicier, a can of your preferred enchilada sauce is a great addition!**
Directions
 
– Combine the soup and sour cream.  Stir well.
– Combine the chicken, half of the soup mixture, broccoli, pepper, onion and 1 cup cheese in a large bowl.  Mix well.
– Spread a heaping 1/2 cup of the chicken mixture on each tortilla
– Roll up and place seam side down in lightly greased 13×9 pan
– Spoon and spread the remaining soup mix over the tortilla wraps. Spread the enchilada sauce over them as well, if desired.
– Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes
– Uncover and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake for another 5 minutes.

Culinary Delight #5: Chocolate-Strawberry Cupcakes

I actually made these for Valentine’s Day and thoroughly screwed them up, but somehow, they still tasted fantabulous – even if they were a huge mess.

I’m a bit sheepish that I failed*, because they are so easy to make they don’t even need a drawn-out recipe. Simply make brownie batter in one bowl (brownie mix + 2 eggs + 1/2 cup canola oil + 1/4 cup water) and strawberry cake batter in another (cake mix + 2 tablespoons canola oil + 1 1/3 cup water + 3 egg whites.) Spoon a small amount of the brownie batter into the muffin tins, and then spoon a slightly larger amount of strawberry batter on top, and bake for 20 minutes at 350. Frost with cream cheese icing once they cool, and voila! 🙂

*I failed because I didn’t have brownie mix, and figured cake mix would suffice. It didn’t! The two cakes just ran all together and made for a very weakly structured cupcake that fell apart easily. That’s what I get for substituting…

Culinary Delight #4: Bloomin’ Onion Cheese Bread

Culinary Delight #4: Bloomin’ Onion Cheese Bread

I made this a while ago, and Chuck approved to the point of requesting it again for the Superbowl. It was a little tricky, but easier the second time around. It was a huge hit all ‘round as a football party appetizer. Recipe below!

Bloomin’ Onion Cheese Bread

1 unsliced loaf sourdough bread (French bread is good too)

12-16 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, thinly sliced

1/2 cup butter, melted

1/2 cup finely diced green onion

2 teaspoons poppy seeds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cut the bread lengthwise and widthwise without cutting through the bottom crust. This can be a little tricky going the second way, but the bread is very forgiving.

Place on a foil-lined baking sheet. Insert cheese slices between cuts (I used a plastic spatula to help hold the cuts apart.) Combine butter, onion, and poppy seeds. Drizzle over bread, and top with a little black pepper, if desired. Wrap in foil; place on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.

Unwrap the bread and bake 10 more minutes, or until cheese is melted.