Thursday, December 31, 2009

CEiMB: No Bake Lemon Bars

This week's Craving Ellie in My Belly was chosen by Amy of Playing House. She chose for us to make the No Bake Lemon Bars from So Easy: Luscious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Week by Ellie Krieger. I love anything lemon, and this recipe looked easy and quick, so I was looking forward to trying this recipe.

I really liked the flavor of these bars, they were creamy and tart. I had added the zest of the whole lemon, not just a teaspoon to amp up the lemon flavor, and I am glad that I did. My only complaint is that even though these are "No bake" lemon bars, I would suggest baking the crust to get it to set up more. My crust was very crumbly, and it kind of fell apart when I was removing the bars from the pan. Other than that, this was an easy, tasty treat!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Baked Shrimp Scampi

I wanted to make something special this past week for dinner, and I came across a recipe for Baked Shrimp Scampi from The Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten. There was only going to be two of us enjoying this dish, so I cut the recipe in half. Per reviewers' suggestions, I also cut down on the amount of butter called for in the recipe, and increased the amount of crushed red pepper to give the recipe a bit more heat. You can always decrease amount of, or eliminate all together, the crushed red pepper if you don't like things spicy. I think this dish is easy to put together, and it cooks in just minutes. I did choose to place my shrimp under the broiler for just a few minutes to make the buttery breadcrumb mixture bubbly and golden brown. I would definitely make it again, it is great for a special dinner.

Baked Shrimp Scampi


  • 1 pounds large shrimp, tail on, peeled and deveined
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon dry white wine
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallots
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/3 cup panko bread crumbs (Japanese dried bread flakes)
  • Lemon wedges, for serving


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

If needed, peel, devein, and butterfly the shrimp, leaving the tails on. Place the shrimp in a mixing bowl and toss gently with the olive oil, wine, 1 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Allow to sit at room temperature while you make the butter and garlic mixture.

In a small bowl, mash the softened butter with the garlic, shallots, parsley, rosemary, red pepper flakes, lemon zest, lemon juice, egg yolk, panko, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon of pepper until combined.

Starting from the outer edge of a small gratin dish, arrange the shrimp in a single layer cut side down with the tails curling up and towards the center of the dish. Pour the remaining marinade over the shrimp. Spread the butter mixture evenly over the shrimp. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until hot and bubbly. If you like the top browned, place under a broiler for 1-2 minute. Serve with lemon wedges.

Serves 2-3

Thursday, December 17, 2009

CEiMB: Maple-Mustard Chicken Thighs

This week's Craving Ellie in My Belly is from Tessa of Handle the Heat. She chose for us to make the Maple-Mustard Chicken Thighs from The Food You Crave: Luscious Recipes for a Healthy Life by Ellie Krieger. I was really looking forward to this dish. I loved the flavor combination of the mustard sauce. I didn't have any dried marjoram on had, so I added a tablespoon of chopped fresh dill to the sauce. I also lightly seasoned the chicken thighs with salt and pepper before adding the sauce on top.

This dish couldn't have been any easier to throw together. It literally took me five minutes to whip up the sauce and get the chicken in the oven. My chicken was done in about 5o minutes, and the mustard sauce made a nice "crust" on top of the chicken. The chicken was moist and flavorful, this dish will definitely make in into the weeknight rotation. So easy and delicious.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

I had some leftover pumpkin from Thanksgiving, and I was thinking about what I could make with it, when I came across this recipe from the Taste of Home website. I altered the recipe a bit by decreasing the amount of sugar, and increasing some of the spices in the recipe. The original recipe states that this recipe makes 24 muffins, I had enough left over to also make a miniture Pumpkin Chocolate Chip loaf. In other words, this recipe makes a lot of muffins, so if you only want a dozen or so, I would recommend halving the recipe. The pumpkin in these muffins is very subtle, so are the spices, but they are definitely there, and it works well with the chocolate chips. Speaking of chocolate chips, these muffins are chock full of them. I could barely test to see if the muffins were done without poking into a chip. These were moist and rich, and I would make them again. Next time, however, I might add in extra pumpkin and decrease the amount of oil in the recipe to get a more prominent pumpkin flavor.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins


  • 4 eggs
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 can (15 ounces) solid-pack pumpkin
  • 1-1/2 cups canola oil
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips


  • In a large bowl, beat the eggs, sugar, pumpkin and oil until smooth. Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and salt; gradually add to pumpkin mixture and mix well. Fold in chocolate chips. Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups three-fourths full.
  • Bake at 400° for 15-18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack. Yield: about 2 dozen muffins.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Mini Cherry Cheesecakes

Per my co-worker's request, I decided to make her miniature cherry cheesecakes for her birthday lunch. I adapted these cheesecakes from this recipe over at the Martha Stewart website. This recipe is super simple to throw together, and they come together in no time. I made these the night before because they are supposed to set up in the refrigerator overnight. I think these are great for an office or holiday party. Note: It is very important that your cream cheese and eggs are at room temperature. I took my cream cheese out in the morning, and let it sit on the counter all day until I made the cheesecakes in the evening. The eggs took less time, I only let them sit out for about 30 minutes prior to making the cheesecakes.

Miniature Cherry Cheesecakes
makes 14-16

  • 3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 1/2 ounces (3 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 pound cream cheese, softened (two 8 oz. packages cream cheese)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 can of cherry pie filling (21 oz)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Mix graham cracker crumbs and 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon sugar in a bowl. Stir in butter. Press 1 tablespoon of mixture in bottom of each cup. Bake until set, about 7 minutes. Let cool in tins on wire racks.
  2. Reduce oven temperature to 275 degrees. Beat cream cheese with a mixer on medium speed until smooth. Add remaining 1/2 cup sugar, then vanilla. With mixer running, add eggs slowly, scraping down side of bowl. Add sour cream and salt. Pour batter into muffin cups, filling almost to the tops.
  3. Bake until sides are set but centers are wobbly, about 20 minutes. Let cool in tins on wire racks. Wrap tins tightly with plastic, and refrigerate 4 hours or overnight.
  4. Spoon about 3-4 cherries from the pie filing onto each cheesecake. Cheesecakes will keep, covered and refrigerated, for up to 3 days.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

CEiMB: Confetti Chili

This week's Craving Ellie in My Belly is from Lauren of I'll Eat You. She chose for us to make Confetti Chili from The Food You Crave: Luscious Recipes for a Healthy Life by Ellie Krieger. I hadn't made chili yet, and since it is finally getting cold around here, I was looking forward to this making this. The recipe on the Food Network is slightly different than the recipe in the book. Basically, instead of one of the cans of beans, 1 1/2 cups of corn was added to the chili instead. I like the idea of corn in chili because it adds some nice sweetness to balance the heat. I used black beans and pinto beans, because I like the texture and flavor of those beans better than kidney beans. I also added 2 teaspoons of chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon of smoked paprika, and one clove of minced garlic to the chili. I really think those additions boosted the flavor of the chili considerably. I didn't have a red bell pepper on hand, but I did have some poblanos from my garden that I had roasted and frozen this summer, so I used that instead.

I really liked this chili. There is a nice smokiness to it due to the chipotle pepper and the smoked paprika, and a slight bit of heat. Next time, I might add some jalapeno or some cayenne pepper to boost the heat a little. The carrots and and corn balance the smokiness and the heat by adding sweetness. Overall it is a very balanced dish. Black beans and pinto beans have much better texture and flavor than kidney beans, and I think I will use both of them chilis I make in the future. Another good recipe from Ellie.