Saturday, January 16, 2016

Cheesy Garlic Biscuits

These cheesy garlic biscuits are pretty much the best thing next to sliced bread. I mean, come on. How can you go wrong with something that has garlic and cheese, right? And the best part, they only take 30 minutes from start to ready to eat. Now we are talking. These biscuits are crisp on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside and the perfect accompaniment to your weeknight soup or big family dinner. Or if you are like me, who needs dinner to enjoy them? I dream about these and the smell they fill my house with. Garlic and cheese are pretty much a match made in heaven. Let me tell you just how easy these are to make. Be warned though - once you start making these, you may want them all the time. You can thank me later.

Okay, biscuits. Here we go. Other than the baking staples you already have in your kitchen (flour, salt, etc), you'll need grated cheese (don't use the pre grated, it has starch all over and won't get all ooey gooey), buttermilk and garlic powder. Biscuits also must have butter - it's what makes them so good! But who wants to sit there and cut all the butter in with a pastry cutter or your hands? Not me. I have a new trick that will change your life - grate your butter with a box grater. No need to cut it in any more, just mix it right in with everything else. So easy, right? I think so! Once the butter is all grated, just mix in all the dry ingredients and then mix in all the wet until everything is just combined. You want to make sure to not over mix it. This will give you a tougher biscuit. Not that those are bad, but you want those bad boys nice and fluffy. Once the mixture is ready, you'll want to use a spoon to make 12 plops (technical term) on your baking sheet. They will rise, so leave a bit of room between them. Not too much, but enough. If you need two pans, that's fine. My baking pans seem to be a bit larger than normal, so I could fit them all. Once the biscuits are all measured out and ready to go, pop them in the oven for about 15 minutes, give or take.

While the biscuits are baking, here is where you make the stuff that takes these from good to great. The garlic butter sauce! In a small pan, melt the butter, parsley and more garlic powder until everything is combined. When the timer goes off and the biscuits come out of the oven, you will brush each one with the garlic butter. There is just something about when that butter soaks right in and the smell of garlic hits your nose. And then you realize you must eat one now! These biscuits are so incredibly easy to make that once you make them,you'll wonder why you never made homemade biscuits before!

these biscuits are ready for their closeup

Cheesy Garlic Biscuits (Handle the Heat)

For Biscuits:

2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold butter, grated
1 1/4 cups grated cheddar cheese
3/4 cup cold buttermilk

For Butter:
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper (or silpat, if you have one).

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, garlic powder and salt. If you've grated the butter, throw it in now. If you have not and want to cut your butter in, add the cubed butter and use a pastry cutter to cut in the butter until the butter is pea size, give or take. Then add in the cheese and then the buttermilk. Mix everything until just combined. Don't over mix it here.

Drop the dough in about 1/4 cup sizes on to the baking sheet. You should get about 12 biscuits using this measurement. Bake until golden brown about 15 to 17 minutes.

While the biscuits are baking, mix together the melted butter, parsley and garlic powder. When the biscuits come out of the oven. brush each one with the garlic butter and enjoy!

These cheesy garlic biscuits are pretty much life changing.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Skinny Honey Lemon Chicken

It's that time of the year where we all want to start eating a little better and working out a bit more. Hello New Year's resolutions, right? Plus, I am always looking for new tasty and lighter dishes to make. Here comes skinny honey lemon chicken! I know what you are thinking. Skinny? Does that mean it even tastes good? Well, let me tell you, this skinny honey lemon chicken is loaded (and I mean loaded) with flavor. And best of all, it only takes 20 minutes from start to finish and you have a meal that is quick, easy to make and it's even gluten free! Let me tell you all about how to make it.

This honey lemon chicken starts off with a super easy and quick marinade of soy sauce (use tamari or other gluten free soy sauce here is going gluten free!), sesame oil and rice wine vinegar. You just dump the diced chicken and the soy, sesame and vinegar, give it a little toss and let it do its thing. I would suggest a couple of hours for maximum flavor, but who has that much time when you are hungry. Am I right? A 10 minute marinade will be just fine here and will give just enough time for the chicken to get all that yumminess. When you are ready to start cooking, drain off the juices and toss them away. You won't need them. Then, salt and pepper the chicken to your liking and then start cooking it up. While the chicken is cooking (which only takes 5-8 minutes), you'll need to throw the honey lemon sauce together. Grab a bowl and add in chicken stock (or broth), fresh (none of that pre-squeezed stuff here!), honey (duh), cornstarch, lemon zest and a pinch of fresh or ground ginger. Oh and make sure to zest the lemon before you squeeze it. You'll never get the zest off if you've already squeezed out all the juice. I've tried. It doesn't work well and it's dangerous to your knuckles! 

Mix everything together and set aside for a few minutes. When the chicken is done cooking and looks all brown and delicious, remove it and then add the sauce to the pan. Cook for a few minutes until it gets thick and ooey gooey. At this point, if you like a bit of zing, you can add in sriracha or your favorite hot sauce. I added a bit, but not too much. Just a little bit of, hmm. Once the sauce is thick and delicious, add the chicken back in and toss it to coat. At this point, you can eat it plain, over brown rice, quinoa or with roasted veggies. Personally, I like it with a bit of brown rice and veggies to round out the dish. Healthy carbs and veggies for the win! 

This quick and easy dinner can be made during the week in a flash and the best part, you made it at home. You don't have to go out for take out and even better, it's sauteed, not fried! We all know most sweet and sour takeout dishes are fried. Delicious, but fried and not the best for our waistlines. Also, this dish is naturally sweetened with honey and not loaded with anything other than fresh and delicious ingredients. Here's to a delicious and healthy 2016!

Pucker up, it's honey lemon chicken!

Skinny Honey Lemon Chicken (slightly adapted from Gimme Some Oven)

1 1/2 pounds of chicken breasts, cut in to bite size pieces
3 tablespoons soy sauce (or tamari if going gluten free)
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar (can use white or white wine vinegar here, too)
Dash sesame oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil
Honey lemon sauce (see below)
Toppings (optional): sliced green onions, lemon slices and sesame seeds

For Honey Lemon Sauce:
3/4 cup chicken broth or stock (whatever you have will work just fine)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons honey (more if you want it sweeter)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
zest of 1 lemon
pinch of fresh or ground ginger
optional: sriracha for a bit of heat, to taste

In a large ziploc style bad, add the chicken, soy sauce, sesame oil and vinegar. Toss the bag around until all the chicken is coated well. Place the bag in the fridge for the chicken to marinate for at least 10 minutes, but not to exceed six hours.

When you are ready to start cooking, drain the chicken and season with salt and pepper. You can toss the marinade at this point. You will not need it. Heat the olive oil in a pan and cook the chicken for about five to eight minutes, or until there is no more pink. You don't want raw chicken! When the chicken is done, remove from the pan. 

In a small bowl, add all of the honey sauce ingredients and mix well. While the pan is still hot, cook the sauce for several minutes until it's thick and bubbly. Once it's ready, add in the chicken and season to taste. If you want to add a bit of heat, now is the time to add the sriracha or hot sauce of your choice. Top with toppings and enjoy!

Who knew eating well could taste so good!

Friday, January 1, 2016

Coffee Cake Baked Donuts

In honor of my father in law, I bring you a special new year's morning edition of Stracciatella. He is a donut lover (just don't give him a maple or blueberry donut!) and always has a supply on hand. I always look forward to the donut part of the morning when we go to visit him because who doesn't love a good donut in the morning.  Especially with a good cup of coffee. Mmm. He always has a variety and boy are they good. It's really hard to choose which one you want! Maple are my favorite and there always seems to be one in the box for me! I love how he always remembers I loves maple. You're the best, Dean!

When we got back from our most recent trip to Oregon, it got me thinking about baked donuts. I loved our donut mornings, but wanted to see if I could make them a bit healthier (but taste just as good!). Plus, I had purchased a donut pan a year or two ago and it was pretty much time to pull it out and experiment. It wasn't doing any good collecting dust in the pantry. As soon as we got home, we unloaded the truck and while the hubby was unpacking, I started looking online for a baked donut recipe. There are so many recipes out there, but nothing was really saying "make me". Maybe that's because I was tired after an eight hour drive. Nevertheless, I kept going and finally found the one. A coffee cake donut with crumbs. Lots of crumbs. And you know how I like crumbs! There were lots of chocolate donuts, but for some reason. I wanted something a bit more breakfast-y. If that makes any sense at all. I thought I would go for the chocolate one at first, but nope. Maybe next weekend. Chocolate glaze is also my thing. Don't tell anyone.

As long as you have a donut pan, these are a piece of cake. Or piece of donut. Okay, that wasn't as funny as I hoped it would be. Oh well.  Here is the pan I use - it's perfect and a great price. You can order one online, but if you can't wait for it to be shipped, you can find them at almost any store these days. The donuts are made of a simple batter of flour, butter, milk, sugar, and egg and baking powder. I added a dash of cinnamon for extra oomph, but that is up to you. I like cinnamon. The crumb topping is super easy too and is just melted butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and flour. Mix it all up until it's nice and crumbly. You'll know when it's ready, trust me. You'll want to make sure to spray your donut pan with non-stick spray and then pour the batter in to a plastic ziploc style bag. Snip off the end and then fill each donut indent in the pan with the batter. You should have just enough for six donuts. Then top all of the batter with the crumbs. You may have more crumbs than you need, but try to pack it all in if you can. If there is some leftover, that's okay. No need to panic. I could not get all mine to fit!

The wonderful baked donuts then go in to the oven for about 15 minutes to get nice and puffed to perfection. Once they come out, let them sit in the pan for about five minutes before removing. They will be hot and some of the crumbs may fall off. Just a warning. Let the donuts cool for about another 10 minutes and then comes the best part - the glaze! Crumbs + glaze = love. Just saying. The glaze is just powdered sugar and milk. I added a dash of cinnamon and nutmeg to give it a bit more coffee cake like flavor. I also put this in a small ziploc style bag to make it easier to drizzle over the tops. Plus it makes it look all pretty and fancy. These coffee cake donuts are soft, crumby and a little bit sweet from the glaze. They are the perfect little morning treat are too good not to make. Plus, they will make your morning just a little bit extra special (and delicious).

look at those crumbs!

Coffee Cake Baked Donuts  (Slightly adapted from Chef in Training)

For Donuts:
1 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup granulated sugar
pinch cinnamon
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon melted butter
1/2 cup milk

For Crumb Topping:
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

For Glaze:
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon milk or heavy cream (add more for desired consistency)
Pinch cinnamon and nutmeg

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and spray donut pan with non-stick cooking spray.

In a stand mixer (or bowl and spoon!), mix together all the ingredients for the donuts except the last four ingredients. In a small bowl, mix together the egg, vanilla, melted butter and milk. Then, gently fold in the wet ingredients to the dry. Mix just until combined. Place the batter in a ziploc like bag and snip the corner. Fill each of the donut holes in the pan evenly until all batter is used. Set aside.

After the donut batter is made, you'll need to prepare the crumb topping. In a microwave proof bowl, melt the butter. Then add in the brown sugar and cinnamon and stir to combine. Then add the flour and mix until it resembles crumbs. Top each one of the donuts with the crumbs. Add as much as you can, but there may be some crumbs left over. Make sure to push some into the donut batter. Place prepared donuts in the oven for approximately 15 minutes until cooked and slightly browned. 

Let cooked donuts cool in the pan for five minutes and then remove to a cooling rack. While the donuts are cooling, prepare the glaze. Place both the powdered sugar, pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg and milk in a small bowl and mix until the glaze is pourable. Not to thin and not too thick. Add more powdered sugar and/or milk as needed. Once glaze is ready, pour in to a small ziploc like bag, snip end and drizzle over each one of the donuts. Enjoy!

These coffee cake baked donuts will change your life.