Mexican Night: Shrimp and Corn Fajitas

Tonight’s Menu was time consuming but it was a good dinner. However, by the time I was done cooking, I really wasn’t that hungry…figures right?

Oh! And by the way, you get pictures tonight :) I used my fiance’s camera hehehe :)

We had: Shrimp and Corn Fajitas, Mexican Rice, Refried Beans, and Chips and Salsa.

The shrimp and corn fajitas were from the What’s Cooking recipe exchange for June/July. The original submitted recipe was from I&R4_23_06 of the Nest, and the source is unknown.

Shrimp & Corn Tacos

Ingredients:

  • 2 T vegetable oil (we used canola)
  • 1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded & ribbed, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • coarse salt & ground pepper
  • 2 plum tomatoes, chopped (omitted)
  • 1 10 oz. package frozen corn, unthawed (canned b/c FI rathers canned veggies)
  • 1/2 pound shrimp, cut into 1/2″ pieces (We had 1 lb. of shrimp, 19-25 ct. and left whole)
  • 12 6″ corn tortillas, warmed
  • Taco accouterments- salsa, cheese, sour cream, cilantro, lime wedges

Directions:

  1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add onion, jalapeño, and garlic; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are softened, 4 to 5 minutes.
  2. Add tomatoes and corn; cook, stirring occasionally, until corn is heated through and tomatoes are soft, 4 to 5 minutes.
  3. Add shrimp and cook, stirring occasionally, until opaque throughout, 2 to 3 minutes. Serve immediately with tortillas (which we heated in the oven for a couple minutes)

Vanilla Extract (attempt)

I have been putting this off for quite some time. Thanks to ebay seller, Arizona Vanilla Company for selling me these gorgeous dozen of beans for a little over $1 each (including shipping)

See, I’m not a vodka drinker, never have been (more of a rum girl). So, I only wanted to buy what I was going to use for my attempt at making vanilla extract. So, I wanted to make a small amount, using a half pint or pint of vodka. After going to retailers, pints and smaller don’t exist there. I’m too lazy to stop by the convenience store, so two weeks later (yep, I’ve had the beans for that long, maybe longer), I find myself in the middle of CVs buying uber cheap paper towels (since I stacked a coupon on top of a sale YAY) and saw SMALL SMALL SMALL bottles of liquor. I had 4 choices of vodka, so I bought a middle of the line Smirnoff half pint. :)

These vanilla beans are so long, and amazingly easy to get the seeds out of. Look at how gorgeous these are.

It seemed like the average was 5 beans/pint of vodka (tons of recipes on the internet), so since this is a half pint, I used 3 beans.

To extract the seeds from a vanilla bean, all you have to do is slice the bean all the way down, then take the blunt part of the knife and run it on the inside, scraping the seeds off the bean. Easy right?

Place the seeds and scraped bean leftovers in the vodka bottle. After it’s all sliced and scraped, close the vodka and give it a good shake.


Store the bottle in a dark, cool place, shaking it every 2 days or so. Keep this going for about 2 months. Then, voila! Fresh extract for your baking! (well you want to pour the contents out into a strainer first to make sure it’s nothing but liquid too)

Then, I read, use the leftover beans (dried out of course) to make vanilla sugar afterward! Talk about nifty!! Great gift idea for the coffee drinkers :)

Ina’s (Amano) Brownies!

I have been trying to figure out what to do with my Amano chocolate that I graciously received from Blake Makes.


Yesterday, I found on Annie’s Eats blog a recipe from Ina Garten of Food Network. Her post was great, because she compared two brownie recipes (Ina’s and Cook Illustrated), and gave a synopsis. Ina’s brownies won in her book, and I can totally see why. These brownies were so rich and chocolatey and gooey (I underbake my brownies a little, so what?)…just amazing brownies and I’m sure the Amano chocolate really tipped it over the edge. It was a really smooth, rich flavor…I could only eat 1/2 a brownie, but my mom, dad and sister went to town. This morning, there were only 6 brownies left!! (So much for sharing with coworkers lol!)

I ended up halving the recipe, since I had 6 oz of Amano chocolate and used that instead of the semisweet chocolate chips. Since there is over 70% cacao in this chocolate, I knew this would be more of a dark chocolate brownie. I also, in halving everything, forgot to half the 3 oz. of unsweetened chocolate, but really no big deal in the end. Very very good stuff here folks!

Ina’s Outrageous Brownies

Ingredients:

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 1 ½ cups semisweet chocolate chips (I used Amano chocolate here)
  • 3 oz. unsweetened chocolate (I used a substitute of 3 tbs cocoa powder + 1 tbs butter for every oz.)3 extra-large eggs
  • 1 ½ tbsp. instant coffee powder
  • 1 tbsp. real vanilla extract
  • 1 cup and 2 tbsp. sugar
  • ½ cup and 2 tbsp. flour, divided – ½ cup for batter and 2 tbsp. .in the chips
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ cups morsels (milk chocolate, dark chocolate, white chocolate or butterscotch)
    (for this recipe, I mixed Ghiradelli and Andes mint chocolate baking chips AND I didn’t half this haha!)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Grease and flour a 9×13” metal pan. (I used 8×8 for the halved recipe)
  2. Melt together the butter, 1 ½ cups chocolate chips, and unsweetened chocolate on top of a double boiler. (I don’t have a double boiler, so I placed the Amano in the microwave in 30 second intervals until smooth. Then I combined all the butter and cocoa powder to make a sauce and folded the two together.) Cool slightly. Stir together the eggs, instant coffee, vanilla and sugar. Stir in the warm chocolate mixture and cool to room temperature.
  3. Stir together ½ cup of the flour, baking powder and salt. Add to cooled chocolate mixture. Toss the chocolate chips with 2 tbsp. flour (I only needed 1 tbs of flour here) to coat. Then add to the chocolate batter. Pour into prepared pan.
  4. Bake for about 30 minutes, (mine took 20 minutes but I like mine a little underbaked) or until tester just comes out clean. Halfway through the baking, rap the pan against the oven shelf to allow air to escape from between the pan and the brownie dough. (Oops! Forgot to do this…no big deal here) Do not overbake! Cool thoroughly, refrigerate well (didn’t refrigerate…just dug in!) and cut into squares.



Dare I get the nutritional facts on this??

For 16 servings (with half the recipe), here are the facts…

Calories 275.8
Fat 14.8 g
Fiber 1.3 g

Points* 7

Faux Tiramisu Trifle..as sugar free as I could

Yesterday was mother’s day, and I got a call from mom to go to the grocery store to pick up a sugar free dessert for my grandma’s dinner that she was making. (Grandma is diabetic). I figured, I could make a great dessert for the family in a pinch that would go with the spaghetti dinner. It’s a faux tiramisu trifle! :)

Tiramisu Trifle

Ingredients:

  • 16 oz. sugar free cool whip (ideally but the store only had fat free)
  • 8 oz. 1/3 less fat cream cheese (it actually has 1 g less sugar than fat free!)
  • Sugar Free instant chocolate pudding mix (large box)
  • 2 tbsp instant coffee
  • 2 cups 1% milk
  • Sugar Free Angel Food cake
  • Grated chocolate (didn’t use for grandma’s sake but thought this would be great to add)

Directions:

Thaw cool whip and soften cream cheese. Fold 1/2 of cool whip into cream cheese and put aside. Prepare chocolate pudding by mixing 2 cups of milk with coffee, whisk, then add pudding mix and whisk for 2 minutes (this has less milk that required to keep it firmer). Cube angel food cake or cut into 3 rings. Layer trifle as such…cake, cream cheese cool whip, pudding…then when the last layer of cake is laid, add remaining cool whip on top. Add grated chocolate on top, and refridgerate until serving.

(Sorry, I’m not a writer, but this took 10 minutes to make and was WONDERFUL!)

I can’t calculate the recipe b/c Spark Recipes doesn’t have Sugar Free Angel Food Cake in it’s database :(.

Guinness Braised Beef Brisket

This is a recipe I found off Cooking Light. It was our first experience with a slow cooker, and I learned the lesson of never, ever open the cover of the slow cooker…after 8 hours, we seared the brisket in the Le Creuset and put it in the oven at 350 for 1 additional hour. The meat was still super tender (the meat literally fell apart) and was delicious!


Ingredients
2 cups water
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped carrot
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup Guinness stout
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/4 cup chopped fresh or 1 tablespoon dried dill
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can low-salt beef broth
6 black peppercorns
2 whole cloves
1 (3-pound) cured corned beef brisket, trimmed

Preparation
Combine first 11 ingredients in a large electric slow cooker, stirring until well blended; top with beef. Cover and cook on HIGH 8 hours or until beef is tender. Remove beef; cut diagonally across grain into 1/4-inch slices. Discard broth mixture.

Yield
6 servings (serving size: 3 ounces)

Nutritional Information
CALORIES 226(39% from fat); FAT 9.7g (sat 3.2g,mono 4.7g,poly 0.4g); PROTEIN 17.9g; CHOLESTEROL 87mg; CALCIUM 28mg; SODIUM 1105mg; FIBER 0.9g; IRON 2.2mg; CARBOHYDRATE 15.2g

Points: 5*

Almond Pound Cake…mmm

I coordinated this round of the What’s Cooking? Board’s recipe exchange. Advantage of this is not only do I have a nice compilation of recipes, I get to choose the one for me to make. All the recipes looked delicious, but I wanted to surprise my fiance with a nice dessert one weekend I was over there.

I would have made a bundt cake, but I purchased a stoneware mini bundt cake pan on clearance off Pampered Chef for about $13, so I couldn’t resist. Next time I make these cakes, I will have to half the recipe. This batter made 12 mini cakes, which is more than enough and they are in the freezer for another night :).

These were a light cake with a subtle almond flavoring…great to add berries on top, for a spring cake.

Enough talking, here is the recipe from Delia of Kreeper’s Cooking.

Almond Pound Cake – from my mother in law, Billie Love

1 cup unsalted butter
½ cup shortening
3 cups sugar
5 eggs
2 t almond extract
1 t vanilla
3 cups flour
1 t salt
1 t baking powder
1 cup milk

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour a bundt cake pan. Cream butter and shortening. Add sugar ¼ cup at a time, alternating with the eggs until all of the sugar and eggs are added. Mix in the almond and vanilla extracts. Sift dry ingredients and add ¾ cup at a time, alternating with the milk a little at a time. Continue to mix until both the milk and dry ingredients are added. Pour into the pan and bake for 1 hour. Reduce the heat to 300 degrees and bake for an additional 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and let it stand for 10-15 minutes before flipping.

This is not at all Weight Watchers friendly, but the mini cakes are large, so if you eat half a cake, this could be reasonable for dessert.

Nutritional Info: (1 serving out of 12)

Calories 564.2
Total Fat 27.3 g
Dietary Fiber 0.8 g
Points: 14* (ouch)

Waist Friendly Chicken Marsala

I had been craving some serious chicken marsala for a while, and so I asked my What’s Cooking sister from A Taste of Home Cooking, if she had a recipe, and SCORE! (she did!!) So, thank you so much for this recipe, which is from Everyday Food by Martha Stewart (my changes noted to make it weight watcher friendly)

Serves 4 (When the chicken was pounded out, it served 6)

Chicken Marsala

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (omitted)
Coarse salt and ground pepper
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (6 to 8 ounces each)
1 tablespoon olive oil
10 ounces cremini mushrooms, trimmed and thinly sliced (used Portobella’s)
1 shallot, minced
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage, plus more for garnish (didn’t have this, used oregano)
1/2 cup sweet Marsala wine
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon butter
added oregano
added 2 cloves of minced garlic
added 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Directions
Place flour in a shallow bowl; season generously with salt and pepper. Dredge each piece of chicken in flour, shaking off excess.
In a large skillet, heat oil over medium. Add chicken, and cook until golden on the outside and opaque throughout, 8 to 10 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate, and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm (reserve skillet).

Instead of this, I pounded the chicken to equal thickness, put the olive oil in a hot skillet and grilled/seared the chicken until cooked. I added salt/pepper, some oregano and basted with the balsamic vinegar for more flavor while cooking.

Add mushrooms, shallot, garlic, sage (not for me), and 1/4 cup water to skillet; season with salt and pepper. Cook, tossing frequently, until mushrooms are tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Add wine and cream; simmer over medium-high until slightly thickened, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in butter; season with salt and pepper.
Top chicken with mushroom sauce, and garnish with sage. (didn’t have sage)



The results? Total yumminess! Here are the stats:

6 Servings

Amount Per Serving

Calories 191.4

Total Fat 8.2 g

Total Carbohydrate 21.9 g

Dietary Fiber 0.8 g

Weight Watchers Points: 4.5 *

Wilton Course 2…

This was a great course. It took me a while to catch up and learn these flowers but my favorite is highlighted in my final cake.

The filling is fresh blackberries (adapted from Katie’s recipe), the cake is Pillsbury mix (get over it LOL) and the frosting is white chocolate buttercream (oh yeh, yum!)

The coworkers are in for a treat Friday ;)

Mixing filling…looks like something out of Dr. Seuss

Cake from the top…I lovers the LSU colored pansies!

Cake from the side…check out that weave peeps!

A zoom in of those LSU colored pansies..nature has pansies colored right. Geaux Tigers (I need football season again..)

Camo Cake!

This is just a cake I was requested to make…it’s a simple camo cake made with thin consistency icing smeared all over :) I highly recommend to cake decorators to invest (not really invest but buy) the 8 in x 3 in pan. It’s one big cake that you just cut in half when it’s done. It cooks evenly and just (in my opinion) makes things simpler (less cleanup with one pan too!). I bought mine for 50% off last week, so for less than $4….not too shabby right?


Final Cake! :)

I’m finished with my Wilton Course I! Yay!! I may not be taking a course this coming month to help FI move in, since classes are offered on Saturdays (probably the same in Baton Rouge for me) and that would take away from some part of the weekend that we spend together (we only see each other on weekends)…

Anyways, pardon the crumbles…my icing was too stiff for the flimsy diet soda cake I made. I combined spice cake mix with Diet Dr. Pepper :)