Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Foodie Pen Pals: October

The Lean Green Bean

Happy Halloween and Foodie Pen Pal reveal day! This month was a fun month of buying and receiving these goodies this month. I was paired with two non-bloggers again this month, Kozzette who I sent my package to and Lori who sent me my package.

Lori sent me an exciting themed package this month. She lived in Germany for awhile, so she sent me some of her favorite German foods and recipes!

Here's a list of what I received from Lori:

  • Werther's Original Hard Candies. These are some of my all-time favorite candies, I didn't know they were a German candy. My grandma used to always buy these candies when I was little and I would always sneak them when I was over. Somehow I was convinced she didn't see all the wrappers in the trash!
  • Haribo Christmas Gummy Bears. Christmas came early this year with these gummies! These were another product that I didn't know that was German.
  • Peanut Puffs. These were one of my favorite things in the package. These were puffy and very peanut buttery (in a real and not fake peanut butter way), I absolutely loved these!
  • Spekulatius. These cookies reminded me of Biscoff or Speculoos and are absolutely wonderful! I wanted to save these for making a dessert with them (maybe a cheesecake), but I've been snacking on them so much I probably won't have enough which works for me because then I don't have to share, haha.
  • Spaetzel. I've never had this meal before, so I'm excited to try it! Lori also gave me a recipe to make this, so I'm looking forward t
  • Schnitzel. This is another meal I've never had before. Lori included a recipe for these as well! I've been so busy with school lately, I haven't had a chance to cook these up but will make these very very soon!
  • Vanilla sugar and vanilla sauce, which were some fun additions in the package!

Lori put together a brilliant and fun package. There are so many new and fun things to try in this package, I am so honored to have gotten this set of goodies!

Thank you Lori and Kozzette for being my foodie pen pals this month!

If you would like to participate in Foodie Pen Pals, head over to The Lean Green Bean for more information and to sign up! Also, you don't have to be a blogger to participate!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Chocolate Chip and Toffee Cookie Dough Cheesecake Bars

Chocolate Chip and Toffee Cookie Dough Cheesecake Bars

So guess what? I'm surviving graduate school so far. I've gotten two A's on two of my papers. I just turned in my third paper for the semester yesterday. I have a midterm due next week and two more papers due two weeks after that. So ask me in a couple weeks if I still feel the same way!

My excitement for the fall has been depleted slightly. Every year I forget about the dark mornings. Every morning seems a little darker and I do NOT like waking up before sunrise. It just doesn't seem natural! Also, a cold front is coming through New Mexico so it's cold right now (not the crisp mornings and warm afternoons). And I won't go into trying on last year's fall/winter clothes. But I like scarves!

Anyway, I love it when people send me recipes or ideas. My brother's girlfriend sent me this recipe that she had found online. It's cheesecake and cookie dough together in one. Sounds heavenly right?

This recipe is super easy. If you don't want to make your own graham cracker crumbs, you can buy the store bought. It reduces the time and reduces the kitchen mess, but I still prefer making my own crumbs. I added toffee because I had some on hand and I'll put toffee in anything. The cookie dough is pretty versatile, so you can add in any of your favorite mix-ins.

A very rich dessert and is every bit as good as it looks!

Chocolate Chip Toffee Cookie Dough Cheesecake Bars
slightly adapted from from My Baking Addiction


For the Crust:
1 1/2 c. graham cracker crumbs
5 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough:
5 Tbs. unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 c. light brown sugar, packed
3 Tbs. granulated sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
3/4 c. flour
1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 c. toffee bits

For the Cheesecake Filling:
10 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 c. sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract


1. Preheat the oven to 325 F. Line an 8 inch square baking pan with parchment paper or foil allowing a little overhang and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.

2. Mix the melted butter and graham cracker crumbs until thoroughly combined. Press the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake in preheated oven for 6 minutes. Remove pan to a cooling rack. Do not turn your oven off.

3. While the crust is cooling, prepare the chocolate chip cookie dough. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, salt and vanilla until smooth and thoroughly combined, about 1 minute. Mix in the flour on low speed, and mix until just incorporated. Mix in the chocolate chips. Set aside.

4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl with an electric mixer cream together the cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Mix in the egg and vanilla on low speed just until incorporated. Pour the cheesecake batter into the prepared crust. Using your hand to form clumps. Flatten the clumps of dough in your palms to flatten them out a bit. Distribute the cookie dough onto the top of the cheesecake batter. Be sure to use all of the dough. You will cover most of the cheesecake batter.

5. Bake for about 30 minutes, until the top feels dry and firm (the cookie dough) and the entire pan looks set if given a gentle shake. Move bars to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely.

6. Lift the bars out by the overhang; slice into desired size and store in the refrigerator. Serve cold or at room temperature

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Chinese No Clay-Pot with Chicken and Shrimp

Chinese No Clay-Pot with Chicken and Shrimp

When I was living at my old place, one of my favorite restaurants was right down the street. We'd go there almost every other weekend. It is a little Vietnamese restaurant called Viet Q Vietnamese Grill. They make some of the best Vietnamese sandwiches (banh mi) or these dishes called hot rice claypot, which to me seems either like a fancy fried rice or a better version of teriyaki chicken.

When I moved in with Joe, I asked him if we could still go there for dinner even if it was all the way across town. Now that he can't eat gluten, I'm afraid our Viet Q days are over. :-( I've been searching for dishes that are similar to the claypot at Viet Q, but have had a difficult time finding recipes that look even similar to the ones that we had at the restaurant.

I came across this recipe a couple weeks ago at The Kitchn and was very excited because it looks similar to the one at Viet Q, even though this dish says it's Chinese style. By looking at the recipe and the photos, the only differences were that the one at Viet Q uses egg, a lot more vegetables, it has more oil, and the meat has more of a glaze. Okay, that seems like a lot of differences, but it comes a lot closer than a lot of the other recipes I've found. So if you have a claypot recipe that sounds what I'm looking for, please send it my way!

I did make several adjustments to the original recipe. I only had one chicken breast, not two like the recipe asks for, so I also added in about a dozen frozen shrimp. I also added about a cup and a half of broccoli and half a cup of diced carrots. Lastly, the original recipe also asks for Chinese lapchang, which I've never cared for and my dad used to make it ALL the time when I was growing up-- so I used Italian salami instead. Yeah, sometimes I'm a bad Asian.

Some future adjustments I might make when I make this again, reduce the salt. It was a little salty, even though I used a reduced sodium soy sauce. I also might try it with different meats (pork loin or sirloin) and use more vegetables. I MAY even toss in some scrambled raw eggs before I put it in the oven, but I'm not entirely too sure that will work.

You can also make this dish gluten free. Use a gluten free soy sauce and check your labels for the sesame oil, corn starch, smoked sausage, long grain rice, and chicken stock to make sure they don't include gluten.

PS - Joe said that this dish was better than Viet Q's! Now, I don't agree with that statement but this means the dish got a huge endorsement from him!

Chinese No Clay-Pot with Chicken and Shrimp
Adapted from The Kitchn

1/4 c. soy sauce (I used gluten-free reduced sodium soy sauce)
1 1/2 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. toasted sesame oil
2 tsp. cornstarch
1 1/2 c. broccoli florets
1/2 c. carrots, diced
1 boneless chicken breast, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
12 shrimp, raw, peeled and deveined (frozen is okay)
3 scallions, roughly chopped, plus extra to serve
3 garlic cloves, minced
1-inch piece fresh ginger, roughly grated
2 oz. smoked sausage (Chinese lapchang or good Italian salami), cut into 1/4-inch cubes
10 oz. fresh shiitake mushrooms, caps thinly sliced (I used cremini, you can also use white button mushrooms)
1 Tbs. canola or peanut oil
2 c. Chinese long grain rice (I used long grain basmati rice)
1 tsp. salt (might leave this out for next time)
4 c. chicken stock

Heat the oven to 350°F.

Whisk together the soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, and cornstarch in a medium bowl. Stir in the broccoli, carrots, chicken, shrimp, scallions, garlic and ginger, and toss so that they are coated with the liquid. Place this mixture in the refrigerator and let marinate for at least 15 minutes while you cook the mushrooms.

Place an oven-safe pan, like a 3-quart Dutch oven, over medium high heat on the stove. When it is hot, add the sausage and turn the heat down to medium-low. Let the sausage slowly release its fat. When the bottom of the pot is slick with the sausage fat, add the mushrooms. Turn the heat back up to medium high heat and let the mushrooms cook, without stirring them, for 5 minutes. Flip them over and cook for another 3 minutes.

Add 1 tablespoon oil to the pot, and sauté the rice briefly to develop some toasty flavor (you don’t want to brown the rice here, just sauté it for 1 minute or so), then add the salt and the vegetable/meat mixture from the fridge. Pour in the stock. Bring to a boil.

Turn off the heat, cover with a lid or with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Make sure to taste the rice for doneness before taking it out of the oven. Let stand 5 minutes, covered, before serving. Stir up the rice before serving, as the chicken and mushrooms will have risen to the top during baking. Stir thoroughly so that they are incorporated throughout the rice.

Garnish with chopped scallions and serve with extra soy sauce and chili garlic sauce, if desired.

Makes about 6 servings.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Apple Streusel Cheesecake

Apple Streusel Cheesecake

Happy Monday! I have another wonderful fall recipe for you today and a great recipe if you have some apples waiting to be used. This recipe I've been making for years and found it on back when it was Recipezaar. Do you remember it back in those days? I've been hoarding recipes for so long!

What I'm sharing with you today an Apple Streusal Cheesecake. The cheesecake is very mild and doesn't have a strong cheesecake flavor so the apples are the star. The lemon really helps to bring out the flavor of the apples, especially if you're using tart apples.

This is a very simple recipe that doesn't take too much time to put together, just remember that chilling time is several hours.

I hope you enjoy this recipe, it's one of my favorites!

Also, the Balloon Fiesta ended yesterday so I'm going to share a photo that I snapped on the way to work last week. Being stuck in morning traffic didn't seem as frustrating when there are so many beautiful balloons in the Albuquerque sky. And all the more exciting when they make their way all the way to the Westside (or my part of it anyway!).

Have a great week!

Apple Streusel Cheesecake

1/2 c. butter, softened
1/3 c. sugar
1 c. flour

3 apples, peeled, cored and sliced into 1/3 inch (I used a mixture of sweet and sour apples)
1/4 c. sugar
2 Tbs. butter
2 Tbs. whipping cream (I just used 2% milk)
1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 c. light brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
1 c. sour cream
1 lemon juice, & rind

1/2 c. flour
1/4 c. light brown sugar, packed
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 c. butter, softened


Heat oven to 350.

For the crust:
Cream butter and sugar thoroughly, then blend in flour. Press onto the bottom and 1/2 inch up the side of a greased 9 inch spring-form pan. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until slightly golden.

For the filling:
In fry-pan, melt sugar with butter over medium heat. Cook apples for 3-5 minutes or just until tender (and lightly browned) but not mushy. Add cream and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Set aside.

In a large bowl beat cream cheese with brown sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs one at a time until just blended. Beat in sour cream, lemon rind, and juice. Using a slotted spoon arrange apples over crust, cover with cheese mixture.

For topping: Mix the ingredients until crumbly. Sprinkle over filling.

Bake 45 minutes or until center is just set. Cool thoroughly at room temperature. Chill at least 4 hours or overnight.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Creamy Green Chile Chicken Soup

Creamy Green Chile Chicken Soup

It's now Balloon Fiesta here in New Mexico. We don't go to the Balloon Fiesta very often, but it's something I look forward to every year. The skies are beautiful and, for me, is the official start of fall. It's kind of funny how the weather turns as soon as the Balloon Fiesta comes around each year. Right on schedule, the mornings have gotten a lot more crisp and the evenings are getting darker earlier. As soon as it does, I want to pull out my scarves and eat chile and stew and all those wonderful fall comfort foods. It's my favorite time of year!

Green chile chicken soup is one of my favorite things to eat. It's a year-around thing for me. And our hospital cafeteria actually makes some killer green chile chicken soup, though it's very simple and nothing fancy. It's served every Tuesday and for awhile I was walking over and getting a bowl every week. I'm on the search for the recipe like the one at work. Once I find it, I'm making it and sharing it.

This recipe is different than the one at work because it's more creamy. The recipe calls for cream cheese and half and half, so it's a very rich soup. I love the extra little something the cream cheese gives to the soup and it complements the chicken and the green chile perfectly.

I originally found this recipe in one of my cookbooks, but changed it so that it uses already cooked meat instead of making your own stock and cooking the chicken. I also halved the recipe and added some more seasoning, which is reflected below. This makes about 4-5 servings, so if you want more, you can double the recipe. I actually might do that myself!

Happy New Mexico fall with lots of love and green chile. :-)

PS - How is it that my pictures look good on one computer and then drab on another!

Creamy Green Chile Chicken Soup
Adapted from "A Taste of Enchantment"

1 Tbs. canola oil
1/2 large onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 c. chicken stock
1 1/2 c. chicken, cooked and shredded (store-bought rotisserie works here)
1 c. green chile, diced
1 Tbs. flour
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 c. half and half
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4. tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper

In a large saucepan or dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for about a minute, until fragrant. Add chicken stock, raise heat and bring to a boil.

When stock is boiling, remove 1/2 c. of broth and let it cool. To the boiling broth, add shredded chicken and green chile.

After reserved broth is cool, add 1 Tbs. of flour to it and whisk until well blended. Add the flour mixture back into the boiling broth and mix well. Cook for 15 minutes, stirring frequently.

In a small bowl, add the cream cheese. Gradually add the half and half, whisking constantly. This is so the mixture won't be as clumpy when you add it to the soup; if it's a little clumpy, don't worry because it will end up melting into the soup.

Add the cream cheese mixture gradually into the soup, whisking constantly. When cream cheese mixture is added, reduce the heat to a simmer then add in the rest of your powdered spices (garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper).

Simmer the soup for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until the soup thickens. Do not boil.

Ladle soup into bowls and enjoy!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Peach Cobbler

Peach Cobbler

Peach season is now officially over and I forgot to post this recipe before apple and pumpkin season started! So here's your last tribute to summer eating with Paula Deen's wonderful peach cobbler! One of my old co-workers brought this dish in to work several years ago that she had made with peaches from her peach tree. It had such a wonderful sugary and buttery crust that I begged her for the recipe. Lo and behold it was a Paula Deen recipe!

Since acquiring this recipe, it's become one of my beloved recipes that I make every year when peaches are in season. This year my boss brought in peaches that she ordered from Denver and I saved them for this recipe.

I've changed the recipe a little bit from the original version-- converted self-rising flour to regular flour and adding in cinnamon and vanilla into the filling. There is another peach cobbler recipe of Paula Deen's that is similar to this recipe, but it looks like it's breadier with less sugar and butter. I haven't tried it, but I just stick with this one because I love it so much.

Peach Cobbler
Adapted from Paula Deen's "The Lady & Sons Just Desserts"

2 c. peeled, sliced peaches
2 c. sugar (divided)
1 c. water
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla
 8 Tbs. (1 stick) butter
3/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 1/8 tsp. baking powder
3/8 tsp. salt
3/4 c. milk
ground cinnamon for sprinkling, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine the peaches, 1 cup sugar, and water in a saucepan and mix well. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Add in cinnamon and vanilla and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Put the butter in a 2-quart baking dish and place in oven to melt.

Mix remaining 1 cup sugar, flour, and milk slowly to prevent clumping. Pour mixture over melted butter. Do not stir. Spoon fruit on top, gently pouring in syrup. Sprinkle top with ground cinnamon, if using. Batter will rise to top during baking. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes. (You might want to place the baking dish on top of a baking sheet while it cooks in case of spillage.)

To serve, scoop onto a plate and serve with your choice of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.  


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