Crispy Oven Fried Fish Fillets

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My fiance decided to surprise me with a healthy meal one night and cooked this wonderful fish recipe that he found online. I LOVED the way this fish came out, and I hope he wants to make it again sometime soon!!

Crispy Oven Fried Fish Fillets
Source: Campbell’s

Ingredients

  • Vegetable cooking spray
  • 1 lb. firm white fish fillet, cut into 4 pieces (he used Louisiana catfish)
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups Pepperidge Farm® Zesty Italian Croutons, crushed

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Spray baking sheet with vegetable cooking spray.
  2. Dip fish into milk. Coat with flour and then dip in milk. Coat with crushed croutons.
  3. Place fish on baking sheet. Spray fish with vegetable cooking spray. Bake for 10 min. or until fish is done. Serve with tartar sauce.

Garlic Fries

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This was a side dish to the oven fried chicken, and another Ellie recipe. OMG…these were fabulous! A little tedious to cut the potatoes into sticks, but wow, super super good!!

Garlic Fries
Source: Ellie Krieger

Ingredients

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 3 large baking potatoes, 12 ounces each
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley leaves

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. Heat the garlic and oil in a small saucepan over medium heat for 2 minutes. Strain the garlic from the oil with a small mesh strainer. Set both garlic and oil aside.
  3. Cut the potatoes into 1/4-inch sticks. In a large bowl, toss the oil, potatoes and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and spread the potatoes onto it in a single layer. Bake until golden and crisp, about 35 minutes.
  4. Remove potatoes from the tray with a metal spatula. Toss with parsley, reserved garlic, and additional salt, to taste. Serve immediately.

Oven Fried Chicken

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My fiance and I are currently changing our lifestyle around to less eating out and more healthy cooking. I recently made this chicken from Food Network’s website that encouraged me to buy Ellie Krieger’s “The Food You Crave”.

This chicken was pretty darn tasty!! :) Here’s the recipe!

Oven Fried Chicken
Source: Ellie Krieger

Ingredients

  • 1/2 sleeve (about 20) whole-grain salted crackers, pulsed in a food processor until fine (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2 1/2 cups corn cereal flakes, pulsed in a food processor to fine crumbs (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 cup lowfat, plain yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Olive oil cooking spray
  • 4 medium sized skinless chicken breasts and 4 skinless chicken thighs, rinsed and patted dry (about 3 1/2 pounds chicken)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly spray a baking sheet with olive oil.
  2. Combine the crackers and corn cereal crumbs, sesame seeds, cayenne, and garlic powder in a shallow bowl. Reserve.
  3. In a large bowl, combine egg whites, yogurt, Dijon mustard, and salt. Add the chicken pieces and coat thoroughly with the yogurt mixture.
  4. One at a time, dip the chicken pieces in the cracker mixture, packing crumbs onto chicken. Arrange the chicken on a baking sheet and spray lightly with olive oil cooking spray.
  5. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until juices run clear when chicken is pierced with a knife.

Cuccidati (Italian Fig Cookies)

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(Yeah, those are Christmas sprinkles. I was too lazy to go get regular nonpareils!!)

These are my ultimate childhood memory. I love these cookies more than words can say, and I heavily depended on one bakery to give me these cookies 364 days/year.  The other day, March 19, I could depend on a St. Joseph’s altar for these tasty treats. My dad is half Sicilian, so of course, he got me stuck on italian cookies early on.

I decided around Christmas to look up this recipe, because I wanted a challenge in baking. If it didn’t work out, I still had my trusty Italian bakery. If it did, though, there would definitely be a mini-baking victory in order! Let’s just say  there’s a mini-baking victory in order! These cookies came out JUST like the ones I know to love!

Cuccidati
Source: Gourmet through Epicurious

Ingredients

For filling

  • 1 cup packed soft dried Mission figs (8 oz), hard tips discarded
  • 3/4 cup raisins (3 3/4 oz)
  • 3/4 cup mild honey
  • 1/4 cup brandy
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated fresh orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated fresh lemon zest (used Meyer Lemon zest)
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves (for next time, this will be omitted.)
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup whole almonds (4 oz), toasted and coarsely chopped
  • 3/4 cup walnuts (3 oz), toasted and coarsely chopped
    **For the nuts, I toasted and food processed them into a powder, since I never noticed nuts in cuccidati filling before.**

For pastry dough

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated fresh orange or lemon zest

For icing
(didn’t use this for the recipe. The cuccidati that I’ve eaten have only had nonpareils on them.)

  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
  • Garnish: multicolored nonpareils

Directions:

Make filling:

  • Pulse figs and raisins (and nuts) in a food processor until finely chopped, then stir together with remaining filling ingredients in a bowl. Chill, covered, at least 8 hours.

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Look at those pretty dried figs.

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Fig filling. Mmm…

Make dough:

  • Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Add butter and blend with your fingertips or a pastry blender (or pulse in a food processor) just until most of mixture resembles coarse meal with some small (roughly pea-size) butter lumps. Add eggs, milk, vanilla, and zest and stir with a fork until a soft dough forms. Halve dough and gather each half into a ball, then flatten each half into a rough 6- by 4-inch rectangle between sheets of plastic wrap. Chill until firm, at least 8 hours.

Form cookies:

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Roll out 1 rectangle of dough (keep remaining dough chilled) into a 15- by 14-inch rectangle on a well-floured surface with a floured rolling pin. Trim to a 13- by 10-inch rectangle (chill trimmings), then cut into 4 (10- by 3 1/4-inch) strips. Arrange 1/3 cup filling in a 1-inch-wide log lengthwise down center of each strip, then fold sides of each strip up over filling to enclose it, pinching edges together to seal. Turn rolls seam-sides down and press gently to flatten seams. Cut logs crosswise with a floured knife into 1 1/2-inch-wide slices and arrange 1/2 inch apart on buttered large baking sheets. Make more cookies in same manner with remaining chilled dough, trimmings (reroll once), and filling.

**Just a note. This dough becomes very sticky when room temperature. So roll this dough out as quickly as possible. I did this between wax paper sheets, flipping the dough often. **

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Adding fillingimg_7277
Rolling dough
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Slicing cookies

  • Bake cookies in batches in middle of oven until golden around edges, 16 to 20 minutes. Transfer cookies to racks and cool until warm, about 10 minutes. Make icing while cookies bake.
  • Whisk together confectioners sugar, vanilla, and enough orange juice to make a pourable icing.
  • Brush icing on warm cookies and decorate with nonpareils (if using), then cool completely.

Notes:

• Filling can be made 1 week ahead and chilled, covered.

• Dough can be chilled, wrapped in plastic wrap and then foil, up to 3 days.

• Cookies keep, layered between sheets of wax paper or parchment paper, in an airtight container at room temperature 1 week.

I’m submitting this post to this month’s Tasty Tools events from Joelen’s Culinary Adventures! Go check out her blog for other fun challenges!!

Foodie Christmas Presents!!

This Christmas, I decided to give a bunch of homemade presents. I love the thought of gifting something that is homemade. It feels more personal, and who hates food?

For some family members, I gave spice baskets with homemade vanilla extract and sugar. For the extract, I found very reasonably priced bottles (that you didn’t have to buy in bulk or pay a TON for shipping, since they were glass) at American Spice Company, and I simply used mason jars for the vanilla sugar. To give it a cuter touch, I purchased label sheets at Office Depot and designed the labels for them myself. Check them out!

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I also made some homemade peppermint bark to put in the baskets. This is very simple…just place some parchment on a rimmed baking sheet and pour in melted semi-sweet or milk chocolate. Pour melted white chocolate on top (and swirl a little, if you’d like). Then, before the chocolate hardens, sprinkle crushed candy canes on top. Once everything hardens, break the bark off into large chunks and place in bags.

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I thought that my family would enjoy some spice mixes, and I decided to give them our favorites from Penzeys: Northwood seasoning and BBQ 3000.

As for our coworkers, I baked sugar cookies using this recipe. I would say this book is a definite read for anyone who is interested in learning to decorate cookies! I adapted it to add almond extract, in addition to the vanilla extract and lemon rind called for in the recipe. It gave the cookies more of a sugar cookie flavor and less of a butter cookie flavor. This was the first homemade sugar cookie recipe that my fiance loved too! I FINALLY ended the search for the perfect recipe! :)

This recipe barely spread, allowing the cookies to keep their great crisp shape. It also rolled VERY easily. I never had a sticking problem, which is something I experienced with some previous recipes.

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To show how well they hold their shape, the cookies on the left are not cooked, while the ones on right are cooked.

I also made candy bark coated pretzels with Christmas M&Ms on top. This was a SUPER easy recipe. Just melt candy melts or bark, spoon into the middle of the store bought pretzels (laid out on wax or parchment paper) and top with 3 M&M’s.
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Last, but not least, I made the infamous Oreo Truffles. To make more, I used 1/2 tsp. as a measuring tool for how big the truffles should be. These made a more decent sized truffle, and I made about 80 with the recipe this time.

Then, I put each treat in holiday cellophane bags, as pictured.

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These went in cute little holiday take-out boxes that I found at Michael’s for $1 each. I absolutely love how these all came out! They were also well-received, so I’m definitely going to keep making edible gifts for future holidays!
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Chocolate Shot Cookies

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The What’s Cooking board recently had a Holiday Treat recipe exchange. Thanks so much to Tara from Smells Like Home for organizing this!! I submitted the cranberry white chocolate pistachio biscotti I recently made, and received this interesting recipe for Chocolate Shot cookies.

The original submitter, The Milkman’s Wife of Milk & Honey mentioned that while these cookies don’t seem like much, they are amazing. I was really surprised! These are thin little cookies with a nice crunch and taste to them. You can’t even tell there is oatmeal in them!!

Chocolate Shot Cookies
Source: The Milkman’s Wife’s mom, Nadine M.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 ½ cups flour
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • 1 cup uncooked oatmeal (rolled oats or quick oats – whichever you prefer)
  • Chocolate sprinkles for rolling

Directions:

  1. With electric mixer, cream together butter and sugar, beating until fluffy. Add vanilla and mix until combined.
  2. Stir together the flour and baking soda; add to butter mixture, beat until combined. Stir in oatmeal and mix well. Chill dough for a half hour. Shape dough into log and roll in chocolate sprinkles. (so that when you slice the cookies you have a border of chocolate sprinkles around the edges of every cookie)
  3. Slice cookies about ¼ inch thick and place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes, until golden brown. Cool on wire rack.

DIY Recipe Cards

Recently, I forked out the ever famous Gocco machine to make our wedding invitations. Since the What’s Cooking board had a holiday gift exchange, I thought it would be fun to Gocco recipe cards for my Elfster. She said she likes cupcakes, so I Gocco’ed these recipe cards on Stardreams Opal paper with red ink for the holidays. I hope she enjoys them as much as I enjoyed making them!! Her name is blurred out since she hasn’t gotten her package yet!

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I love my Gocco. If only they didn’t discontinue the machine and supplies. :( Sadly after my wedding fun, I’ll be selling my Gocco. I can’t compete with rising prices of screens, bulbs and ink, unfortunately.

Beef Daube Provencal

I was searching for the perfect beef stew recipe, and was pointed out to this recipe by someone on the What’s Cooking board that I frequent. I have to thank her so much for pointing me to this recipe because I would have never made it or known to search for it. :) This was a wonderful recipe! FI went for seconds and he RARELY does that for anything I cook! I guess my skills are growing!

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Beef Daube Provencal
Source: Cooking Light

Ingredients:

  • 2  teaspoons  olive oil
  • 12  garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1  (2-pound) boneless chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 2-inch cubes (I used extra lean stew meat)
  • 1 1/2  teaspoons  salt, divided
  • 1/2  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 1  cup  red wine (I used 12 oz.)
  • 2  cups  chopped carrot
  • 1 1/2  cups  chopped onion
  • 1/2  cup  less-sodium beef broth
  • 1  tablespoon  tomato paste
  • 1  teaspoon  chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1  teaspoon  chopped fresh thyme
  • Dash of ground cloves
  • 1  (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1  bay leaf
  • 3  cups  hot cooked medium egg noodles (about 4 cups uncooked noodles)
  • Chopped fresh thyme (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 300°.
  2. Heat olive oil in a small Dutch oven over low heat. Add garlic to pan; cook for 5 minutes or until garlic is fragrant, stirring occasionally. Remove garlic with a slotted spoon; set aside. Increase heat to medium-high. Add beef to pan. Sprinkle beef with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Cook 5 minutes, browning on all sides. Remove beef from pan. Add wine to pan, and bring to a boil, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Add garlic, beef, remaining 1 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper, carrot, and next 8 ingredients (through bay leaf) to pan; bring to a boil.
  3. Cover and bake at 300° for 2 1/2 hours or until beef is tender. Discard bay leaf. Serve over noodles. Garnish with chopped fresh thyme, if desired.

Note: To make in a slow cooker, prepare through Step 2. Place beef mixture in an electric slow cooker. Cover and cook on HIGH for 5 hours.

Serves: 6

POINTS*: 8 (with noodles)

Sillycone Trays

I have to apologize about the tardiness of this post. See, I moved about a month ago and in my move, things got a little unorganized until I unpacked it all last week. I ::just:: found this tray that was given to me by Sillycone, Inc. by way of Blake Makes.

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So, I put some cranberry blueberry juice in the trays to make ice, because I like to not water down my juice when I drink it and plus, I discovered these make really good little popsicles!

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Thanks Sillycone for the great trays! I’m sure I’ll figure out more and more uses for them as I go!

Christmas Oreo Truffles

I made these again for the holidays. This time, I had MUCH more patience! I also used a food processor for a finer truffle and it worked out really well. :)

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