Archive for ‘How Sweet It Is’

May 17, 2012

Buttermilk-soaked baked Parmesan pork chops

How Sweet It Is

Serves: 4

  • 4 thin-sliced, boneless center cut pork chops
  • 2 cups low-fat buttermilk
  • 2 cups panko bread crumbs
  • 1/3 cup flour (I used whole wheat pastry, any flour will do)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese + a little more for garnish
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock

Tenderize and trim fat from pork chops if you’d like. It’s not necessary but I do it. Add pork chops to a baking dish and pour buttermilk over top. Soak for at least 2 ours, or over night. Remove pork chops from fridge 30 minutes before you plan to make them.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In a bowl, combine panko, flour, salt, pepper and parmesan. Heat an over-safe skillet on medium-high heat and add olive oil. Grab a pork chop from the buttermilk, letting any excess milk run off. Dredge through panko mixture, coating completely. Lay down in skillet and repeat with remaining chops. Brown pork chops for 3 minutes on each side only! You don’t want them to toughen up. After six minutes, turn off heat and add chicken stock to pan. Sprinkle a little parmesan on pork chops and cover skillet. Bake for 20 minutes.

*Chef’s note: These were quite yummy! A pork chop is probably my least favorite cut of meat that I eat, but these earn a thumbs up from me! I trimmed and tenderized the chops as suggested and soaked them for about 5 hours, which made them moist and easy to cut. I liked the slightly tangy hint of buttermilk flavor, and I’m always game for Parm. and panko. I used all-purpose flour I had on hand.

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May 16, 2012

Sweet and sour chicken

How Sweet It Is

Serves: 3

  • 3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • salt & pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

Preheat oven to 325.

Cut boneless chicken breasts into chunks. Season with salt and pepper. Coat chicken in egg and then in cornstarch. Pan fry in oil until golden brown, but not cooked through. Place in a single layer in a baking dish.

Sauce

3/4 cup sugar

4 tablespoons ketchup

1/2 cup cider vinegar

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon garlic powder

Mix all ingredients together and pour over chicken. Bake chicken for 6o minutes, turning every 15 minutes. You can also make extra sauce – add all ingredients to a saucepan and simmer until thick.

*Chef’s note: This tasted just as good as restaurant sweet and sour chicken! This is my boyfriend’s favorite (a.k.a. only) dish to order at Asian restaurants, and I was pleasantly surprised that it turned out just as delicious! He especially liked that there were no peppers in this sauce. Two breasts were plenty for the two of us with brown rice. I wouldn’t change anything except maybe try to crisp the breading a bit at a higher temp for the last few minutes (our chicken was cooked through after 45 minutes because of the pre-cooking in the skillet).

May 16, 2012

Crispy honey lime tilapia

How Sweet It Is

Serves: 4

  • 4 fresh (or thawed) tilapia filets
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon lime zest
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/3 cup flour [I used whole wheat pastry]
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil for frying
  • additional honey + lime zest mixed for drizzling

60 minutes before cooking,season tilapia filets with salt and pepper then lay in a baking dish or into a large ziplock bag. In a bowl, combine olive oil, honey, lime juice and zest, and crushed garlic and whisk until combined. Pour over tilapia and let marinate for an hour. Add flour [+ a bit more salt, pepper, and lime zest] to a bowl and set aside.

Heat a cast iron skillet (or a non-stick skillet) over medium-high heat and add olive oil. Dredge each piece of tilapia through the flour until you have a very light coating. Making sure the pan is hot, add tilapia to the oil and cook until flaky and crispy on each side – about 3-4 minutes per side. Remove tilapia from pan and let drain on a paper towel for a few minutes. Serve with an additional drizzle of lime + honey, then cover in blueberry lime salsa.

*Chef’s note: This had a lovely flavor, even through all my broken, burnt crust, so that says a lot. I am almost ashamed to post this icky photo when hers turned out so beautiful and golden and crisp. It is tricky to crisp something (high temps) with sugars involved without burning, but I think a better (and bigger) pan would have helped a lot in my case. And unfortunately, more oil. And a better fish turner. And smaller fillets. I didn’t make the blueberry lime salsa, but it sounds awesome.

May 16, 2012

Salted mudslide cookies

How Sweet It Is

Makes: I forget exactly how many. Enough to give my grandpa a decent amount as a birthday gift and still keep some for myself.

  • 2 cups + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 cup dark cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoons instant coffee powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) of unsalted butter, melted and cooled for 10-15 minutes
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg + 1 egg yolk, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup coffee liqueur + 1 teaspoon (Godiva, Kahlua, etc)
  • 1 cup chocolate chunks
  • sea salt for topping

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Mix the flour, cocoa, coffee powder, salt and baking soda in a bowl and set aside. In another bowl, mix the melted butter and sugars until they are combined. Add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla and stir until mixed. Stream in coffee liqueur and mix. Gradually add flour and mix until a dough forms – it will look crumbly at first, but it will come together. I even used my hands to help at one point. If you find you absolutely need more liquid add in a teaspoon of coffee liqueur, but it should come together. Fold in the chocolate chunks. Refrigerate dough for 30 minutes.

Remove dough from the fridge and roll into golfball sized balls. Set on a non-stick baking sheet with 2 inches between each. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the edges are set and the middles are still soft. The centers should be puffy. Do not over bake. Remove from oven and immediately sprinkle with sea salt. Let cool completely then dig in!

*Chef’s note: These. cookies. are. the. best. cookies. Fantastic! Ms. How Sweet It Is seriously knows what she is doing. Especially when it comes to sinful desserts. Are you weird and hate chocolate? Do you not care for coffee? You’ll still love these cookies. So soft and moist and full of flavor. The salt adds the perfect compliment to the sweetness, too. *Italian finger-kissing delicious perfection gesture*

May 16, 2012

Peanut butter fudge pretzel brownies

How Sweet It Is

Makes: 12 bars

  • 1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 2/3 cups chocolate chips (optional)
  • 1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
  • 1/3 powdered sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups crushed pretzel pieces
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour an 8×8 baking dish and set aside.

Combine melted butter and pretzel crumbs in a bowl until moistened. With the back of a spoon, press pretzels into the 8×8 pan making a crust. If pretzels seem loose, drizzle some additional melted butter over top of hit with a quick shot of non-stick spray.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, then add vanilla. With the mixer on medium speed, add in cocoa, flour and salt, mixing until combined – about 2 to 3 minutes. Fold in chocolate chips. Using a spatula sprayed with non-stick spray, evenly spread brownies on top of pretzel crust. Set pan on a baking sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until brownies are baked through.

When brownies have about 3 minutes left baking, melt peanut butter (I melted mine in the microwave in 30 second increments then stirring) in a bowl. Once melted, stir in 1/3 cup powdered sugar and mix until no lumps remain. Pour over warm brownies and spread evenly. Refrigerate brownies for 1-2 hours, then cut into bars and serve.

*Chef’s note: If you are a sucker for the sweet/salty combo like I am, you will absolutely die for these brownies. I just know it. I could have eaten the whole pan by myself in just a couple of days (hours?). I did encounter the too-crumbly crust problem, so next time I would try baking the brownies alone, then topping with the peanut butter mixture and pressing the pretzel “crust” into the peanut butter before it sets in the fridge. Would taste the same and be easier to eat! You can sub in your favorite brownie recipe and enjoy this just as much! I added several Tbsp. of that Smucker’s dark chocolate fudge sauce I love so much to this batter.

April 10, 2012

Caramelized chicken with mushroom sauce and grilled herb bread

How Sweet It Is

Serves: 2

  • 4 thinly sliced boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 onion, chopped
  • 2 cups sliced mushrooms
  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • bread of your choice (I used whole grain talonica bread)
  • salt and pepper
  • for bread: 1/4-1/2 cup butter, softened + herbs of your choice (I used parsley, basil and thyme – a good sprinkling of each)

Season the chicken breasts (make sure they are very thin or slice them thin!) liberally with salt and pepper. Add the flour in a bowl and dredge the chicken in the flour – you want a very thin and light coating on the chicken. Heat a large skillet on medium high heat and add the olive oil. Add the chicken to the skillet and brown on each side, about 3-4 minutes per side. While the chicken is browning, chop the onion and get out your mushrooms. Slice your bread as desired. Combine 1/4 cup of butter and herbs of your choice (you really can’t go wrong here! I’ve used dried and fresh, just add a sprinkling to the butter.) and mix. Spread on one side of bread. At this point you can either use a grill pan and grill the bread buttered-side down first, or heat your broiler and set the bread underneath for 30-90 seconds.

Once chicken is done cooking (after about 7-8 minutes total), set it aside on a plate. Turn heat down to medium and add 1 tablespoon butter and onion. Saute for 1 minute. Add the remaining butter (2 tablespoons) and mushrooms. Stir and saute for 6-8 minutes, until mushrooms are soft. Add in wine to deglaze the pan and stir well to remove brown bits from bottom of the pan. Add chicken back in with the mushrooms.

Serve hot with bread for dipping.

*Chef’s note: I didn’t make the grilled herb bread but still included the recipe because it looks fabulousss (I probably would use parsley, thyme and rosemary). The browned chicken had a great flavor, but I wish I had browned the mushrooms and onions more. And it didn’t create so much of a “sauce” for me; I could have added some flour to thicken it up. It seemed to be missing something to me, but it was very yummy!

April 2, 2012

Brown butter oatmeal chunk cookies

How Sweet It Is

Makes: 15-18

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cups rolled oats
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 cup chocolate chunks
  • optional: 1- 2 tablespoons milk, if dough is crumbly

Heat a small saucepan over medium-low heat and add butter. Whisking constantly, cook butter until bubbly and until small brown bits appear on the bottom of the pan – about 5-6 minutes. Watch closely and immediately remove the butter from the heat, whisking for an additional 30 seconds or so. Set aside and let cool COMPLETELY. Note: It does not need to solidfy at all, but it should not be warm to the touch.

In a bowl, combine flour, salt, baking powder, oats and cinnamon, mixing, then set aside.

Once butter has cooled, add to a large bowl. Whisk in sugars, stirring until smooth. Add in egg and vanilla, whisking until smooth once again. Slowly begin to stir in dry ingredients, using your hands if necessary (I always do) to bring dough together. If you find that the dough still won’t come together, add in milk 1 tablespoon at a time (I rarely have to do this.) Fold in chocolate chips, distributing them evenly. Refrigerate dough for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Using an ice cream scoop or your hands, form dough into 1 1/2 inch balls. Place about 2 inches apart on a nonstick baking sheet, then bake for 10-12 minutes, or until bottoms and edges are golden. Let cool before serving.

*Chef’s note: Brown butter + oats + brown sugar + chocolate chunks = sure success. Yummm! [Whispers:] And I have a confession to make: I didn’t successfully brown the butter! And they still were awesome. I even over-baked them by a minute or two because I was waiting for some brownage around the edges. And they still were awesome. Moist and chewy for all 3 days they lasted. Yay! I didn’t need the milk in the dough. Definitely use the chocolate chunks, though. There’s just something about them that makes these better. And please attempt the brown butter. I know I will again. I can only imagine its toffee tones will improve the cookie even more.

March 24, 2012

Roasted red pepper penne

How Sweet It Is

Serves: 4

  • 2 large red peppers
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1/3 cup parmesan cheese
  • 4-5 basil leaves, torn
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 4-5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups of dry whole wheat penne
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 thin sliced boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • salt & pepper for seasoning chicken

To roast peppers: remove core and seeds from peppers and slice into pieces. Lay on a baking sheet and preheat the broiler in your oven. Place under the broiler skin-side up until skins are completely charred and black – this took about 10 minutes for me but will depend on your oven. Just check every 2 minutes or so. Immediately remove peppers from oven and using kitchen tongs, quickly place them in a ziplock bag then seal it. Set aside for 20-30 minutes.

While peppers are “steaming” in the bag, pat the chicken breasts completely dry with a pepper towel, then season them with salt and pepper. Heat a skillet over medium high heat and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Brown chicken on both sides until cooked through, about 4-5 minutes per side. Set chicken aside to cool, then add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the same skillet with onions and a sprinkle of salt. Saute over medium-low heat until onions soften and caramelized. Cut chicken into pieces.

Boil water and prepare pasta according to directions. Remove peppers from the bag and peel the skin off to discard. It’s okay if a little bit of char remains as it adds to the flavor. Add peppers, garlic, parmesan cheese, basil, salt and pepper to a food processor. Blend until pureed, then stream in 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil so mixture comes together.

In a large bowl, combine penne with chicken and onions. Add red pepper sauce and toss thoroughly to coat as it is very thick. Serve with additional parmesan cheese and a few basil leaves.

*Chef’s note: Can I just geek out for a minute? I loved getting to roast my own red peppers. I’d never done it before; so easy! I just felt so official. Anyway, this was very tasty! Next time I would add a tad of plain tomato sauce to smooth out the sauce and add a touch of sweetness with the red pepper. I am very happy to have found a yummy red pepper sauce without cream in it. Score.

March 24, 2012

Cheddar-crusted chicken fingers

How Sweet It Is

Serves: 2-3

  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken tenderloins
  • 2 cups low-fat buttermilk
  • 3 cups panko bread crumbs
  • 1 cup seasoned regular bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 4 ounces of cheddar, freshly & finely grated
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground mustard

2-4 hours before serving (or even overnight), add chicken to a baking dish and cover with buttermilk. Let soak.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 450 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine bread crumbs, flour, salt (quantity should be adjusted to taste given the amount of salty cheese), pepper, mustard and paprika and stir with a spoon. Fold in cheese. Lay a wire rack on a baking sheet and spray with non-stick spray.

Remove each piece of chicken from the buttermilk (it should have a think layer of milk around it), and dredge through the breadcrumbs, pressing gently to adhere. Lay on the wire rack and repeat. Before baking, hit each chicken tender with a spray of non-stick spray or mist of olive oil. Bake for 10-12 minutes, then gently flip using kitchen tongs and spray the other side. Bake for 10-12 minutes more, then remove from oven and serve with dips of choice.

*Chef’s note: I think these could have benefited from a dipping sauce, as suggested on How Sweet It Is (LOVE this blog. Thanks to my gal Alyssa for introducing it to me!). (She used a bacon ranch with added chili powder.) And I should have cooked them longer to get them nice and browned and crispy.  That would have made the dish. I was afraid they would dry out, but the buttermilk really does keep that from happening. Otherwise pretty tasty. I may have even added more sharp cheddar! NOTE: This amount of breading (said to serve 2-3) coated 2 pounds of tenderloins for me with almost half left over, so plan accordingly.

March 24, 2012

Roasted blueberry cupcakes with chocolate fudge frosting

How Sweet It Is

Makes: 12 cupcakes

  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries + a few additional ones rubbed with sugar for garnish
  • 2-3 tablespoons milk, if needed (I used 2.)

Chocolate Fudge Buttercream

  • 1 cup of butter (2 sticks), softened
  • 3-4 cups of powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s Dark, it’s what I had)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup hot fudge sauce (at room temperature or cold, and using store bought is fine)
  • 1-2 tablespoons milk, if needed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Spread blueberries on a baking sheet (with sides) and roast for 10-15 minutes, or until berries start to burst. Remove from oven and let cool.

Beat butter and sugar together in the bowl of an electric mixer until fluffy, about 4-5 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla extract and mix until combined, another 2-3 minutes. Add flour, baking powder and salt with the mixer on low speed, then gradually increase speed. Scrape in blueberries and beat on medium speed until the berries break down – about 2-3 minutes. At this point, the berries most likely have enough liquid that you only need to add a small amount of milk to the batter. Begin adding 1 tablespoon of milk at a time and beat with the mixer until the batter is smooth. You definitely want it to be cake batter and not dough.

Pour into cupcake liners, filling 2/3 of the way full, and bake for 18-22 minutes or until cake is set. Let cool completely, then frost.

Frosting: In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter until smooth. Gradually add in powdered sugar about 1/2 cup at a time with the mixer on low, increasing it to medium-high speed once all the sugar has been added. Add the cocoa, vanilla and hot fudge, and mix until completely combined (while scraping down the bowl every few minutes) for about 5-6 minutes. If the frosting seems very thick, simply add some milk 1 tablespoon at a time and mixer for another minute or 2 until it comes together.

Note: this makes enough frosting for me to frost 12 cupcakes with a pastry bag. If you use a spatula for frosting, you will most likely have frosting left over. If you use a pastry bag and add a lot of frosting, you may not have enough. I add about 1/4 cup of frosting on my cupcakes when piping. If you have some leftover, simply store it in an air-tight container in the fridge (a few days) or the freezer (3-4 months!).

*Chef’s note: OK. This is really, really good. But I still think it’s a muffin with frosting. (Make that AWESOME frosting — my new go-to chocolate.) Super blueberry flavor, which does go deliciously with chocolate, but it is denser like a muffin. I might even make this batter again, throw some whole blueberries in it, top it with raw sugar and call it a super blueberry-y muffin. Aren’t they so pretty, though? And I just love that you get to roast blueberries. Be careful not to overbake these muffins/cupcakes; check (patiently) every 1-2 minutes toward the end of baking time.