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Saturday, November 29, 2008

Chocolate Trifle Heath Bar Dessert

What does every awesome dessert on the face of this earth need to have? CHOCOLATE! And this has a lot. Which makes it SO good, even for (weird) people who claim to not love chocolate! You can eat this guilt-free, because it's so low in fat!

-1 package chocolate cake mix, baked according to directions, making TWO 8 or 9 inch round pans
-1 prepared package of fat free/sugar free chocolate pudding
-1 tub fat free cool whip
-4 crushed Heath bars (the more you use, the better)

To Make
-assemble 1 of the cakes in the bottom of a trifle bowl or other round bowl
-spread half of the chocolate pudding
-spread half of the cool whip on top of the pudding
-sprinkle 2 of the crushed Heath bars
-repeat all the steps for a second layer of all ingredients
-cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate AT LEAST 24 hours in advance...if you leave it for 2 days, it will taste absolutely amazing!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Okra Simmered in a Cilantro & Garlic Tomato Sauce (Bamyeh)

I've tried searching Middle Eastern recipes on the internet, and they just don't exist. Unless you have Arabic installed on your computer, and can search for the recipes in that language. Which I don't. So I've decided to post all my Middle Eastern recipes as I make them, although they are not really originals.

This is a really good dish. My 4 year old was eating this and saying "mmm...delicious!" after every bite :)

**This can TOTALLY be made in the slow cooker. Just layer all the ingredients except for the cilantro and minced garlic (which you will add when it is fully cooked), and cook on low for 4-5 hours, or on high for 3-4 hours.**

-1 tablespoon olive oil

-1 pound beef stew meat (depending on how much your family likes meat), cut into 1 inch cubes
-s&p to taste
-1 teaspoon coriander
-1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
-1 teaspoon all spice
-optional: 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
-1 package frozen okra
-3 cloves garlic, sliced finely
-1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses or lemon juice
-14.5 ounce can tomato sauce
-4-5 cans water
-1 cup finely diced fresh tomato, cut into small cubes OR 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes (optional)
-1 bunch cilantro, diced finely
-3 cloves minced garlic

To make
-heat olive oil in pressure cooker. Add stew meat and cook half way through, about 10-15 minutes. Season the meat with coriander, cardamom, allspice and cumin seeds. Add frozen okra and let it defrost in the pot. Take care not to over mix, because okra will mush. Add sliced garlic and pomegranate molasses, and stir gently. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
-Once okra has defrosted, add tomatoes and tomato sauce. Fill tomato sauce can with water and add to pot. Bring sauce to a boil. Cover pressure cooker. Once it is 'pressured', reduce heat to low and cook for 30-35 minutes.
-Uncover lid and add fresh minced cilantro and fresh minced garlic. Let sauce simmer for an additional 5 minutes.
-Serve with bulghur or rice 

**If you do not have a pressure cooker, increase cook time to about 45-60 minutes, or until meat is tender.**

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Friday, November 21, 2008

Sunflower Seed and Everything Else Salad

I made this salad up with a certain craving in mind...something tart, sweet and nutty, and very hearty! I kept the dressing very simple, and it helped pronounce the flavor of the ingredients.

This will feed 4 adults for lunch, or provide 6 generous portions to accompany a main meal.

-3 cups (or 6 ounce bag) of 7 lettuce blend (or European style blend...any of the fancy stuff is fine...probably even romaine)
-1 pear, cut into small cubes
-2 Persian cucumbers, finely diced
-1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
-1 avocado, cubed
-1/4 red onion, minced
-1/2 cup carrots, finely chopped
-1/2 cup orange cranberries (if you don't have orange flavored, normal cranberries will do)
-1/2 cup sunflower seeds
-1/2 cup Mediterranean seasoned feta cheese (or plain feta) time I'm trying this with goat cheese

-juice of 1 lemon
-zest from 1/2 a lemon
-3 tablespoons olive oil
-salt to taste
-fresh cracked black pepper

To make
-toss all the ingredients together
-mix in dressing right before serving

Monday, November 17, 2008

Oreo Fudge Ice Cream Cake

Oreo Fudge Ice Cream Cake. You could stop at anyone of those words and be happy. Seriously. Very happy. The best part? Knowing it was so easy to make, and 1/4 of the cost of a Baskin Robbins ice cream cake.

I got this recipe from Kraft foods, and I followed it almost exactly as they said. It is recommended for 12 servings.

-1 package chocolate pudding mix (you can really mix this cake up by changing the flavor of pudding)
-1/2 cup warmed chocolate fudge (another way to change the cake. I made 2 of these, one using dark mint fudge, and the other using Reese's peanut butter fudge)
-1 tub (8 oz) thawed Cool Whip (use fat free, you won't tell the difference)
-10 chopped oreo cookies
-12 unwrapped vanilla ice cream sandwiches (again, you can mix up flavors)

To make
-Mix pudding mix and fudge in a bowl until well blended. Add 1 cup of cool whip, and stir until it is mixed in well. If the mixture is too thick, thin it out with a little bit of milk. Stir in chopped oreo cookies.
-Lay out 4 of the ice cream sandwiches, side by side, to form a rectangle shape. The long sides are what go next to each other, like this: IIII
-Spread half of the fudge mixture on top of the sandwiches. Layer another 4 ice cream sandwiches on top of that. Spread the remaining fudge on top of the ice cream. Top the second fudge layer with the remaining 4 ice cream sandwiches.
-Frost the 'cake' with the remaining cool whip. Drizzle with fudge or additional oreo cookies. Freeze for 4 hours.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Slow Cooker Masala Chicken

 This has been one of the most searched and viewed recipes on my blog...and for good reason! It's ridiculously simple to throw together and the flavor will blow your mind. Tender chicken breast, soft veggies, caramelized onions and a creamy spiced sauce make this the ultimate comfort meal on a busy weeknight or as the star of a dinner party! Like many slow cooked meals, this tastes even BETTER the next day, so leftovers are a plus :)

If preparing in advance, you can place everything in your pot to marinate until the next day and cook fresh for your meal. Alternatively, you can cook it all the day before and reheat in your slow cooker. Of course you can also make this on a stove and it will be ready in about 30 minutes (perfect for those of us who don't always plan ahead!). Customize the flavors to your preference. For a strong flavor of Indian spices, use less (or none) of the half and half. For a creamier sauce and subtle spice flavor, use more!

A huge thank you to my sister Hanna for taking all these beautiful photos :) She's recently become quite the talented chef and photographer...just look at her plated presentation of this dish!

Serves 4-5 adults

-2 large onions, cut into thin strips
-1/4 cup olive oil (or vegetable oil)
-2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into cubes
-3 or 4 medium sized potatoes, cubed (peeled or not, I chose to peel)
-1/2 cup chopped carrots
-1 jar (15 oz) Masala simmer sauce (I got mine from Trader Joe's, but it is available in different markets)
-1 cup water
-1 tablespoon fresh minced ginger (or 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons dried ginger)
-2 tablespoons fresh minced garlic
-salt to taste

-1 cup chopped fresh cilantro (1 bunch)
-1/2-1 cup half and half (or heavy cream). If using heavy cream use less. The more half+half/cream you use, the more it will dilute the flavor of the spices, but it tastes really delicious! 

To make

-Saute your sliced onions in oil until they are soft and browned. Set aside 1/2 of the onions for garnish at the end. Do NOT skip sauteing the onions, they add a lot of flavor! 
-Place  the other 1/2 of the sauteed onions, chicken, chopped potatoes, chopped carrots, Masala simmer sauce, water, ginger, garlic and a dash of salt into your slow cooker. Cover and cook for 5 hours on low, or 3 hours on high. (Stovetop cooking time is about 30-40 minutes on medium high heat, until the chicken is tender and the veggies are soft).
-In the last 30 minutes of cooking, uncover lid and taste the salt, adjust to your liking. Add the chopped cilantro, and half +half. 
-When ready to serve, plate and garnish with reserved sauteed onions and additional cilantro. 
-Serve with Pea Ginger Rice

I'd love to connect with you! Stay updated on the latest posts through Facebook or follow savvy_chef on Instagram. Tag #savvychef with your re-creations!

Try these other popular meals!

Musakhan: Middle Eastern Chicken Rolls

One Pot Lemon Garlic Chicken and Potatoes
Sheesh Tawooq: Lemon Garlic Chicken and Roasted Potatoes

Pea Ginger Rice

This is the rice I made to accompany the awesome slow cooker Masala was soo good :)

-2 1/2 cups well soaked calrose rice
-1 1/2 tablespoons dried ginger (or 1 tablespoon fresh minced ginger)
-3 cups boiling water
-1 cup peas
-butter or oil

To make
-Heat the butter or oil, add the well drained rice and ginger, saute for a couple of minutes
-Add the boiling water and peas. Add salt to taste
-Cover and cook on lowest setting for about 18-20 minutes.
-Uncover, fluff rice and leave for another 10 minutes.
-Optional: Garnish with any remaining cilantro and sauteed onions from the Masala Chicken

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Savory Slow Cooker Pot Roast

The weather in California is FINALLY starting to cool down, and this pot roast is the greatest thing to eat on a day where you're busy doing stuff but still want a home cooked meal.

This makes enough for two and a half adults with some leftovers.

-1 pound roast meat (I used tri-tip, but any cut will do)
-1 large onion, cut into thick strips
-1 can 'cream of' something soup (I recommend celery or mushroom)
-1/2 can water
-cinnamon stick, bay leaves, cardamon, whole dried black pepper balls
-roughly 1/2 to 1 cup each of the following (adjust to your preferences):
-potatoes cut into cubes
-baby carrots
-mushrooms sliced in half
-squash cut into cubes
-pumpkin cut into cubes (these were from the fresh ones I had frozen, and I was surprised to see that they had softened in the freezer) If you are using fresh, place this before the mushrooms

To make
-Brown meat and onion stips in a pot until meat has browned on all sides. Season with s&p.
-Transfer meat and onions to slow cooker and add diced potatoes
-Add all the spices, then spread the 'cream of' soup over the meat
-Cook on low for 3-4 hours, or on high for about 2 hours.
-Add the mushrooms, squash and pumpkin on top of the meat after cooking halfway. Do not stir.
If you will not be home, go ahead and layer all the ingredients in the order I listed them from the start.
-Let cook for another 2-3 hours on low. Total cooking time should be anywhere from 5-6 hours on low or 4-5 hours on high. The meat and veggies taste best the slower and longer they cook, but take care not to mush the veggies.

*I served with cornbread*


Saturday, November 8, 2008

Breakfast Egg and Cheese Quesadillas

True to the mantra of this blog, one day I was rummaging through my fridge, trying to put something new together for breakfast, with minimal amounts of work. I tried these ingredients together, and the results were WOOOW!

The measurements that will follow are for one completed quesadilla, so change as needed.

-1 egg
-1/4 to 1/3 cup salsa (or picante sauce)
-cheese (Chedder, Monterey or Jack)
-salt and pepper to taste
-1 tsp olive oil

-sour cream

To make
-Spray skillet with non-stick cooking spray, and heat on medium.
-Crack egg directly into skillet, beat slightly with wooden spoon, add salsa and s&p to taste.
-Keep stirring for about a minute until the eggs are scrambled and cooked.
-Open tortilla bread and place scrambled eggs inside. Layer cheese on top.
-Wipe skillet clean with a paper towel, add 1 teaspoon olive oil on medium high heat, and saute quesadilla about 1 or 2 minutes per side (depending on how browned you like it).
-Serve with your favorite side!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Roasted Pumpkin with Simmered Chicken and Yogurt Sauce

The fall season got the best of me this year, and I went out and bought myself a nice big pumpkin! Much to my 4 year old's disappointment, we didn't turn it into a jack-o-lantern. Instead, we got to work on peeling and cutting this tough vegetable into cubes. Then I portioned out the cubes into Ziploc baggies and froze them. But first...I made this...

This recipe generously fed 4 adults, with a bit of leftovers. The leftovers were awesome the next day!

-About 3 cups cubed pumpkins
-Onion powder
-2 tablespoons olive oil
-32 ounce tub of yogurt (I used nonfat organic, use what you'd like)
-2 & 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch, mixed with 1 tablespoon water
-1 pound chicken breast pieces, cut into cubes (about the same size as the pumpkins)
-Enough water to cover chicken and make broth (about 6 cups)
-Cinnamon stick, 4 bay leaves, 5 cardamons
-2 onions, cut into strips
-1/2 cup pine nuts (I had to make this with slivered almonds, it was still good)

-Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
-Toss pumpkin cubes in a baking dish with onion powder, salt, pepper and oil. Bake for about 35-40 minutes or until the pumpkin seems roasted and lightly browned.
-In the meantime, boil water in a 4 quart pot. Once boiling, drop in the chicken pieces and add the cinnamon stick, bay leaves, cardamon and salt. Simmer on medium low while pumpkin is roasting.
-Remove pumpkin cubes from oven and gently drop into the chicken broth, turn heat to lowest setting and continue to simmer for 20 minutes.
- In another pot, about 6 or 8 quart, mix cornstarch mixture with yogurt. Turn on heat to medium, and continue stirring (to avoid clumping or sticking or yogurt) with a wooden spoon until the yogurt starts to bubble.
-Slowly add the chicken broth (ONLY) with a ladle, and mix after each ladleful. Continue this until you get the desired consistency ( I used all the broth that I had made). Heat through.
-Throw out the cinnamon, bay leaves and cardamon, and add chicken breast pieces and pumpkin. Turn off heat and avoid over stirring, so the pumpkin doesn't get mashed.
-Saute onion in olive oil until it is soft and almost crispy. About 3/4 of the way through, add the pine nuts and toast them. Serve over the pumpkin and yogurt dish.

-I serve this with rice. It was divine!

-Although there isn't too much work involved in making this (you can go off and do whatever you want while the pumpkin is roasting and the chicken and broth are simmering), you can save time by using leftover shredded chicken and pre-made broth (but I'm not guaranteeing the results!)
-Also, you can pre-roast a bunch of the pumpkin cubes before freezing them in the baggies, and you can therefore skip that step in future recipes.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Chicken Burrito Tortilla Rolls

This is one of my first recipes...the start of my claim to fame ;) It is an adaptation from Kraft foods, with a little bit more zing and flavor.

It is EASY, and the recipe automatically makes two baking dishes. So you can either make it for a huge crowd, or freeze one of the dishes for another night (which is what the recipe recommends).

-1/2 cup mayonnaise

-1/2 cup flour

-3 cups milk (any fat content should be fine, I always use 1%)

-1 cup shredded cheese, plus extra for garnish (Mexican blend is the best, cheddar or jack are ok too)

-1 1/2 pounds chicken, cubed into 1 inch pieces (do NOT use leftover shredded chicken for this, the pieces give it an important texture)

-1 cup salsa

-1 cup corn (canned or frozen)

-1 cup fresh parsley, plus a handful for garnish

-salt and pepper to taste

-1 tablespoon taco seasoning (paprika will also do the job)

To make

-Preheat oven to 375 degrees

-Mix the mayo and flour in a saucepan until well blended. Slowly add the milk and mix. Cook and stir on medium heat until the sauce begins to boil and thickens.

-Stir in 1/2 cup of cheese, 1 cup of salsa to the sauce. Put aside 1 1/2 cups sauce for later use.

-Cook chicken breast pieces with salt, pepper and taco seasoning in non-stick cooking spray until they are cooked through. Add them to the sauce in the sauce pan, and add the 1 cup corn and 1 cup parsley.

-Place some of the chicken and sauce mixture in each tortilla and roll. Place seem sides down in a row in the baking dish. You should be able to fit 8 tortilla rolls per dish. Cut the tortilla rolls in half, for a total of 16 smaller rolls.

-Spread some of the reserved sauce in two rows across the tortilla rolls, garnish with extra cheese and parsley. Bake at 375 for 25 minutes, or until lightly toasted and crispy on the sides....then EAT!

*When you are ready to cook the 2nd frozen baking dish, just take it out of the freezer a couple of hours before serving, or refrigerate overnight. Follow the same baking directions of 375 degrees for 25 minutes.

**If reheating frozen, bake in 350°F oven until heated through, allowing almost double the original baking time.