Welcome to my kitchen! This is a blog that is evolving as my life does. I like food, but I don't have all the time in the world to cook. So lately, I'm going with simple, easy recipes. I may switch that up occassionally and post something time-intensive, but that isn't what I'm about these days. If that sounds like you - I hope you enjoy some of these recipes.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Margarita Cupcakes

As soon as I heard there was such a thing as Margarita Cupcakes, I wanted one.  And since we were going to a fajita and margarita party this weekend it was a great excuse to make them! 

This task took me 2 tries to get it right.  I had originally tried to make a recipe that I found on a blog that was from scratch, but it just didn't turn out.....right.  The cupcakes didn't rise quite normally and they dropped in the middle while cooling.  Thankfully I had a backup recipe that involved a cake mix, and that worked beautifully!  One of my new favorite blogs, Homemade By Holman, had this recipe along with a cream cheese icing recipe and they did not disappoint!! 

Margarita Cupcakes
Recipe from Homemade by Holman, (slightly adapted by Amy's New Kitchen for high altitude)
Yield: 24 cupcakes

Ingredients for Cupcakes:
1 box white cake mix
1 cup margarita mix
1/4 cup tequila
1 Tbsp orange juice
3 large egg whites
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
3 Tbsp flour
Zest of 1 lime

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line 2 muffin tins with 24 liners.  There is no need to spray the liners-the cupckes don't stick to the liners.  Mix margarita mix, tequila, and OJ in a separate bowl.  Add cake mix to your stand mixer bowl, along with the egg whites, oil, flour and margarita/tequila/oj mixture.  Beat on low until all ingredients are blended together, then continue to mix on medium-high for 2 more minutes until mixture thickens slightly.  Add lime zest and mix on medium approx 10 seconds.
Spoon batter into muffin liners, filling each 1/2-2/3 full.  Make sure there is an even amount in each liner.  Bake for 20 minutes, rotating pans halfway through cooking.  When a toothpick inserted into a cupcake comes out clean-they're done!  Remove from oven and let cool approx 5 minutes in the pan then remove. 
Cream Cheese Icing
Recipe from Homemade by Holman
Yield: enough icing for 24 cupcakes
Ingredients for Icing:
8 oz block of cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
Lime juice of 1 lime (from the zested lime from your cupcakes)
4 cups powdered sugar
4 drops green food coloring
Sprinkles, lime zest, lime wedges for decoration

Beat cream cheese and butter on medium-high speed until mixture is smooth and fluffy.  Add lime juice and beat until combined.  Add powdered sugar 1 cup at a time, until fully incorporated each time.  Add food coloring one drop at a time until the icing is the color you prefer.  Pipe or spread icing onto fully cooled cupcakes and top with sprinkles, lime wedges, or lime zest.  *Refrigerate cupcakes in an air-tight container if not serving immediately and bring to room temperature a couple hours prior to serving.
I knew these were going to be a big hit when Jeff tried the first one and gobbled it down.  Then he says-that is my new favorite cupcake!!  He loved that there was an actual 'flavor' to these cupcakes instead of another chocolate, vanilla or yellow cupcake....boring!
I also loved this recipe because I went out and bought a piping bag and tips-and we had lots of fun making these cupcakes cute.  I am no expert cupcake decorator though.  I guess I will have to make more cupcakes until I improve.  ;)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Sausage, Egg and Hash Brown Bake

I find something comforting about a hot breakfast casserole in the morning.  And nothing fits that bill like a good, classic sausage bake on my breakfast table (or better yet-breakfast in bed) and a hot cup of coffee to go along with it!  The only problem with them is that most recipes I've come across use sour cream.  An ingredient the husband does not like.  I needed to use up the fresh hash browns that I had bought-so I was off to the great wide internet to find a recipe that he would enjoy too.  I came across this recipe at Allrecipes.com and it is fantastic.  Classic, flavorful and feeds plenty.  Perfect.

Sausage, Egg and Hash Brown Bake
Original recipe from Allrecipes.com, slightly adapted by Amy's New Kitchen
Serves 8

1 package (2lbs) frozen hash browns, thawed (or 1 pkg fresh hash browns)
1 Tbsp canola oil
1 lb breakfast sausage
1 shallot, finely diced
9 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
12 oz cheddar cheese, shredded

Heat a skillet over medium heat and add 1 Tbsp oil.  When hot add 1/2 the hash browns and cook until slightly crisp.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9x13 baking dish. Place the crisp hash browns in the bottom of the baking dish, then add the rest on top. 

In that same skillet over medium heat cook the sausage and shallot until the sausage is crumbly, evenly browned, and no longer pink; drain. Meanwhile, whisk together the eggs, milk, onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper, and pour over the potatoes. Layer with 1/4 of the cheddar cheese, the sausage mixture, and then top with remaining Cheddar cheese. Cover with aluminum foil. 

Bake for 1 hour. Remove cover; return casserole to the oven and bake until cheese turns slightly crisp, about 5-10 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving. 

The cheese comes out crunchy and delicious, while the layers underneath hold such a nice flavor that you can't even wait to take your next bite.  This was chowed down by my 8 year old nephew-so it has to be good!  ;) 

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Emeril's Pork Ribs (AKA Sweet n' Spicy Ribs)

This was a pretty nice change from your everyday, bbq ribs.  I really liked the sweetness of the sauce, with a little heat from the cayenne pepper and the crushed red chili peppers, it makes such a great combo.  I served these ribs with rice, which is my all-time favorite food.  I loved this dinner.   Want the original recipe?  Check out Food Network.

Emeril's Pork Ribs
Original recipe by Emeril Lagasse, slightly adapted by Amy's New Kitchen
Serves 4

  • 2 (3-pound) slabs country-style pork ribs, sliced into individual ribs
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 2 cups Steen's 100% pure cane syrup or other cane syrup
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup minced yellow onion
  • 2 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 2 tablespoons peeled and grated fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne 
  • 2 tablespoons crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Scallions (green parts only), thinly sliced on the bias, for garnish
Put the ribs in a very large soup pot or kettle. Add the salt and enough water to cover them. Bring to a boil and let boil for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and drain.

Whisk the remaining ingredients together in a medium-size mixing bowl, blending well. Put the ribs in a large, deep braising pan or roasting pan and pour half of the marinade over them. Cover and refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours, turning the ribs in the marinade every hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Cover with foil and cook, basting with the reserved marinade and turning the ribs every 15 minutes, for 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Remove the ribs from the pan.  Spoon some of the sauce from the pan onto the top of each rib and garnish with sliced scallions when serving.

These make your kitchen smell absolutely amazing while they are in the oven.  I was so hungry by the time they were done I could have eaten 3 of them!  We didn't have the Steen's pure cane syrup so I actually used 1 cup of maple syrup.  I'm sure that affected the taste of the original recipe, so to compensate I doubled the cayenne and added red pepper flakes (all noted in the above recipe.)

Monday, April 19, 2010

Cheesy Potato and Ham Soup

I wanted a satisfying, warm soup one cold night so we decided to try this recipe out.  And we've made it twice since.  It is also a nice way to use up that left over New Year's or Easter ham!  The inspiration for this dish came from a recipe at Allrecipes.com called Golden Potato Soup.

Cheesy Potato and Ham Soup
Serves 8

3 1/2 cups potatoes, peeled (if you like) and cubed
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1/3 cup onion, finely chopped
2 Tbsp chicken bouillon granules or 1 chicken bouillon cube
3 cups water
1 Tbsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 Tbsp freshly cracked black pepper
1 tsp cayenne pepper
5 Tbsp flour
5 Tbsp butter
2 cups milk
2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
2 cups ham, cooked and diced

Combine the potatoes, celery, onion, ham and water in a large pot and bring to a boil.  Cook over medium to medium-high heat until the potatoes are tender.  Add in the chicken bouillon granules along with the salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper - stir.

In a separate large pot (I like to use my dutch oven), melt butter over medium heat and whisk in your flour until a nice roux forms.  Add in the parsley and stir.  Slowly pour in the milk while continuing to whisk so that no clumps form.  Continue stirring constantly until mixture thickens. (Just a few minutes)

Add the cheese slowly and stir until completely melted.  Add the potatoes, ham, and water mixture to the cheese.  Stir until your soup is well blended.

The first time I made this soup I peeled the potatoes.  Just for fun-the second time I made it, I used New Potatoes and didn't peel them.  It was good both ways, but the peeled potatoes definitely made a more traditional soup.  But I like the color the New Potato peels provide when you don't peel them.
Either way-this is a comforting dinner that we will make again and again on those cold winter nights!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

This is the most amazing pulled pork I've ever had.  It has just the right amount of juice, the right amount of heat, the perfect combination of spices and it's so easy!

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
Spice rub recipe from Cooks Illustrated 

1 6-8lb Pork Shoulder
1 Tbsp Ground Black Pepper
2 tsp Cayenne Pepper
2 Tbsp Chili Powder
2 Tbsp Ground Cumin
2 Tbsp Brown Sugar
1 Tbsp Dried Oregano
4 Tbsp Paprika
2 Tbsp Sea Salt
1 Tbsp Granulated Sugar
1 Tbsp Ground White Pepper

Mix all spice rub ingredients together in a bowl.  Massage the rub into the Pork Shoulder.  Wrap tightly in a double layer of saran wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.  Refrigerate longer for a stronger flavor.  (I refrigerated for 24 hours.)  

Unwrap roast and place in a slow cooker.  Add 3/4 cup water to the bottom of the cooker and cook on low for 8-10 hours until meat is fork-tender and easily shredded.

Shred meat along with all the juices in the slow cooker and add more water if necessary.  Continue heating on warm setting until time to serve.

I made this roast for burritos and it was a huge hit.  It has just enough spiciness to give any burrito or taco a little kick!  If you were thinking more along the lines of BBQ pulled pork-all you need to do is add about 2-2 1/2 cups of your favorite bbq sauce to the slow cooker while it's on the warm setting.

I cooked my 6.5lb boneless roast for 9 hours and it shredded so easily.  I did add about 1/4 cup more warm water to the shredded meat.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Tropical Fruit Sundaes

While flipping through my newest issue of Food and Wine magazine I found a picture and recipe that looked absolutely delicious!  I didn't have an Easter dessert yet - it seemed like a sign.

Tropical Fruit Sundaes
Originally by: Food and Wine; mildly adapted by Amy's New Kitchen
Serves 12

2 cups Heavy Cream
1 cup Milk
1/3 cup Ginger- peeled and finely grated
6 1/2 Tbsp sugar
3 1/2 tsp powdered gelatin-from 2 envelopes  (I used raspberry for added color)
9 oz Mascarpone Cheese
1 cup Dried Unsweetened Coconut Flakes
1 Pineapple- peeled, cored and diced
2 large Mangoes- peeled, pitted and diced
1/2 cup Light Brown Sugar
1 tsp Lime Zest
1/4 cup Lime Juice
2 pints raspberries (I used sliced strawberries instead)
2 pints Vanilla Ice Cream
Whipped Topping

In a large saucepan combine the cream and milk with the freshly grated ginger and bring to a simmer.  Remove from the burner, cover and let stand 30 minutes.

Strain the cream into a bowl.  Return the cream to the saucepan and again bring to a simmer.  Remove from the burner and whisk in the sugar and gelatin.  Let the cream cool to room temp, then whisk in the mascarpone cheese.  Spoon the mousse into 12 glasses or bowls and refrigerate to set.  (Approx 60-90 minutes)

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Spread the coconut flakes in a pie plate and toast 3 minutes or until golden.  Let cool.  (I couldn't find the dried coconut so we used sweetened coconut and skipped this step.)

In a large bowl toss the pineapple and mangoes with the brown sugar, lime juice and lime zest.  Scoop 2 scoops of ice cream into each bowl, spray some whipped topping and top with the pineapple mango mixture and raspberries. (Or in my case-strawberries.)  Garnish with the toasted coconut and serve with shortbread cookies.

This is such a colorful dish and serves up beautifully in a clear bowl.  The original recipe is heavy on the ginger, so next time I will use 1/3 cup instead of 1/2 cup, which I have already changed in the recipe above.  The mango was a nice little treat for the beginning of spring.  I would highly recommend this delicious dessert.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Individual Scalloped Potatoes

These little guys are so fun and easy!  We made them as a side dish with our brats for my dad's birthday dinner and they were devoured in no time.  I don't even really like potatoes, and I thought they were great.  I guess a stick of butter does make everything taste better.  Thanks Paula Deen!  ;)

I found this recipe at The Tasty Kitchen.  Yum!

Individual Scalloped Potatoes
12 servings, 2 each

8 Whole Medium Potatoes
1 Stick Butter
2 cups Shredded Cheddar Cheese
3/4 cup Diced Scallions
24 tsp Half & Half
Sea Salt
Fresh Cracked Pepper

Pierce each potato with a fork, sprinkle with salt and wrap in a damp paper towel and microwave on high for 15 minutes.  Potatoes should still be firm.  Set aside to cool until they can be handled, then slice.  

Place 1 pat of butter in the bottom of each mold of 2 muffin/cupcake pans, then a slice of potato, add a pinch of salt and pepper, then cheese and scallions.  Repeat layers so you have at least 3.  They will condense down-so don't worry if they don't quite fit.  Top each mold with another small pat of butter and drizzle each with 1 tsp of half & half.

Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.  The cheese will be melted and potatoes will be crispy on the edges and brown.

If you need to use up some of that leftover Easter ham- dice it up and add it to the mix.  It would be delicious.  I should have made more because between 4 boys...I didn't have any left.  But I'm glad my dad enjoyed his birthday dinner.  And I'm extra glad I found this tasty recipe.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Mango Mustard

We were having brats for my dad's birthday dinner and I wanted to have all the toppings.  So I put out a little shout out on Facebook and asked what were people's favorite toppings that I needed to have.  Mango Mustard came up.  I hadn't heard of it before but I'm so glad I made it!  It is soooo good.  I don't like regular mustard much, but this was a fresh, vibrant flavor and was absolutely delicious on a brat with some sauerkraut and cheese.

Mango Mustard

1 Mango, peeled, cored and cubed
Apple Cider Vinegar
Rice Wine Vinegar
Garlic Powder (Good Quality)
Yellow Mustard (Good Quality)

Blend all ingredients together in a blender until flavor and consisitency is the way you want.

The amount of ingredients to add to your mango just depends on how big the mango is and what flavors you like.  I eyeballed all of my ingredients but if I had to estimate, I would say that I used 1 mango, 1 Tbsp honey, 1 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar, 1 tsp Rice Wine Vinegar, 1/2 tsp good Garlic Granules, 2 Tbsp good Yellow Mustard.

This recipe can grow like a weed until you find that perfect flavor you are looking for.  Luckily for me-I hit it right off the bat.  But, don't be afraid to keep adding ingredients until it is to your liking. Start small, and work your way up.  You can always add more of something, but you can't take it back once it's all blended together.  If you find you made quite the amount, don't fret-this is great on grilled fish, or chicken, just use it like a satay sauce.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Classic Mac n' Cheese

Who doesn't like Mac N' Cheese?  No one I know!  This recipe from Cook's Illustrated is exactly what I think of, when I think of a "Classic" Macaroni and Cheese.

Classic Macaroni & Cheese
Recipe from Cook's Illustrated, slightly adapted

Bread Crumb Topping:
6 Slices White Sandwich Bread (good-quality, about 6oz) torn into rough pieces
3 Tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces

Pasta and Cheese Ingredients:
1 pound Elbow Macaroni
1 Tbsp Table Salt (I used Sea Salt)
5 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
6 Tbsp All-Purpose Flour
1 1/2 tsp Powdered Mustard
1/4 tsp Cayenne Pepper 
5 cups Milk
8oz Monterey Jack Cheese, shredded
8oz Sharp Cheddar Cheese, shredded
1 tsp Table Salt (I used Sea Salt)

1. For the bread crumb topping: Pulse bread pieces and butter in a food processor until crumbs are no larger than 1/8 inch.  (10-15 one second pulses.)  Set aside.  (I used 3/4 cup Panko bread crumbs mixed with 2 Tbsp melted butter since I didn't have bread in the house.)

2.  Bring 4 quarts water to a boil in a Dutch Oven and add macaroni along with 1 Tbsp salt; cook until pasta is al dente.  Drain pasta and set aside in colander.

3. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat broiler.

4. Wipe out now empty Dutch Oven, add butter and cook over medium high heat until foaming.  Add the flour, mustard, and cayenne pepper and whisk until mixture becomes fragrant and deepens in color, approx. 1 minute.  Gradually whisk in milk and bring mixture to a boil, whisking constantly.  Make sure mixture reaches full boil to thicken fully.  Reduce heat to medium and simmer, whisking occasionally, until consistency is of heavy cream.  (Approx. 5 minutes)  Off heat, whisk in cheeses and 1 tsp salt until cheeses are fully melted and creamy.  Add pasta and continue to cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly,  until heated through.

5. Transfer mixture to a broiler safe 9x13" baking dish and sprinkle bread crumb topping evenly on top.  Broil for 4 minutes until bread crumbs are crisp and golden brown.  Cool 5 minutes, then serve.

We had this with our Easter dinner and everyone raved about it.  The bread crumbs really sealed the deal-making this the hit side dish of the evening.  I would make this dish again for any occasion.  The only thing I would have preferred is to add some fresh cracked pepper onto the mixture before adding the bread crumbs on top and possibly increasing the amount of bread crumb topping.  And I think I will stick with the Panko.  It was perfect.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Delicious Deviled Eggs

Deviled eggs might be one of my all time favorite appetizers.  And this is my favorite combination of ingredients to make the ultimate deviled egg.

Deviled Eggs
Serves 5 (4 eggs each)

10 (hard boiled) Eggs
4 Tbsp Low Fat Mayo
4 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
2 baby Dill Pickles, finely diced
4 slices Ham, diced
Smoked Paprika
Sea Salt

Put eggs in a single layer, covered with lukewarm water in a pot and boil for 10 minutes.  Immediately remove from hot water and transfer to fridge in a container that allows them to be in a single layer.  (This will help make the shells easier to remove.)  When eggs are completely chilled, shell them and cut in half, lengthwise.  Remove all the yolks and set them aside in a medium sized bowl.  Mash the yolks with a potato masher.  Add the mayo, mustard, pickles and ham then mix until combined completely.  I like my deviled eggs a little 'rough' so I don't make my mixture completely smooth-but you could if you like.  Add a sprinkle of sea salt and a dash of paprika to each egg.  Serve cold.

I love the flavor the pickles and the ham brings to the eggs.  They are the first thing to go at potlucks!