Monday, January 30, 2012

7 Layer Greek Dip

If you're anything like me, you have been searching the internet like crazy looking for great superbowl party foods. And again, if you're anything like me you are stunned to see some of the odd elaborate football inspired appetizers, meals, etc. I don't want my food to LOOK like a football or football field, I just want good recipes to serve.... something new, something re-invented, or something classic. None of this nonsense of shaping a brownie like a football... just give me some good recipes! (Okay, I will admit I do love the football themed cupcakes and cake pops.. but that is it!)

This year, in honor of trying to keep our Superbowl party kind of healthy... I am bringing this dip to be my saving grace.  It does have cream cheese... and I refused to use the low fat kind... so that is my splurge. I made this about a week ago for my sister-in-laws baby shower and it seemed to be quite a hit so it definitely warrants another test group and I think the ladies will love the lightness of this flavorful dish. 

I received the inspiration to make this dish on pinterest from Our Best Bites and the website I found it at has a GREAT photo tutorial that you can view here. I only made a few variations of her original and think anything you might want to add or remove will still make a wonderful dip.  

7 Layer Greek Dip
Serves: 10-12

8 ounces of cream cheese (garden vegetable)
8 ounce container of roasted red pepper hummus
1 cucumber, peeled seeded and chopped
1 tomato seeded and chopped
5 ounces pitted and halved kalamata olives
4 ounces of crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup of chopped green onions (optional; I skip these when entertaining!)
A drizzle of extra virgin olive oil

Spread the cream cheese on top of a serving platter. (I tend to use a circle platter and spread the cream cheese to make an inner circle on the platter, leaving room for pita chips to be placed on the sides of the dip.) Refrigerate for a half an hour. Drop the hummus by small spoonfuls evenly over the top of the cream cheese. Spread as evenly as possible. Top with the remaining ingredients in layers in the following order: cucumber, tomatoes, olives, feta, green onions, and a tiny drizzle of olive oil.

Serve with pita chips.
-The Little Bitchin Kitchen 

Monday, January 23, 2012

Vanilla Bean Cupcakes with Vanilla Butter Cream Frosting

Two weeks ago, I was honored to host a baby shower for my sister-in-law and knowing her elegant style, I knew I wanted an beautiful looking, yet heavenly tasting cupcake recipe. I recently purchased Martha Stewart's Cupcakes book and although there are many recipes in there that I am dying to try... I wanted simplicity and wasn't getting that from the book. (Although the pineapple flowers did come from there!) I decided to hit the Internet and underground blogging world and was pleased to come across this wonderful flavor-packed vanilla bean cupcake with a wonderful light and fluffy vanilla frosting. Simple, yet wonderful. I took them one step further and added a dried pineapple flowers to make them extra elegant. They were absolutely beautiful in addition to tasting wonderful! 

Vanilla Bean Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
Makes: 12 Cupcakes

1½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon table salt
1 stick unsalted butter; room temperature
½ cup sour cream
1 large egg; room temperature
2 large egg yolks; room temperature
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract

Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line standard muffin/cupcake tin with paper or foil liners.

Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in bowl of standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Add butter, sour cream, egg and egg yolks, and vanilla; beat at medium speed until smooth and satiny, about 30 seconds. Scrape down sides of bowl with rubber spatula and mix by hand until smooth and no flour pockets remain.

Divide batter evenly among cups of prepared tin. Bake until cupcake tops are pale gold and toothpick or skewer inserted into center comes out clean, 20 to 24 minutes. Remove the cupcakes from tin and transfer to wire rack; cool cupcakes to room temperature before frosting.

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
Makes: Enough to frost 12 cupcakes

1 cup (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2½ cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Using the wire whisk attachment of your stand mixer, whip the butter on medium-high speed for 5 minutes, stopping to scrape the bowl once or twice.

Reduce the speed to low and gradually add the powdered sugar. Once all of the powdered sugar is incorporated, increase the speed to medium-high and add the vanilla, mixing until incorporated. Whip at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes, scraping the bowl as needed.

(From left to right) Mom, Leah, Me, Anna, Emma, Tammy, and Pat at Anna's Baby Shower, January 2012
Happy Baking!
-The Little Bitchin Kitchen

Cupcakes (Originally from Cook’s Illustrated) and Frosting were seen and duplicated from the  Brown Eyed Baker 
Pineapple flowers: Inspired by Annie's Eats, originally from Martha Stewart

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Italian Sub on Tomato Basil Focaccia

Since I have kind of been on a kick lately with "quick and easy" posts, I wanted to share with you the EASIEST party sandwich on the face of the earth.  I know this would be so much better if I were to take the time and make the foccacia bread from scratch, but sometimes when I am in a bind and I want something to look pretty for my party I take a cheaters route and in this case... my result is always wonderful.

The biggest thing to remember when hosting is that sometimes simple is better. If you have spent 3 hours decorating cupcakes, take a break and make a really easy appetizer, sandwich, dip, or salad. Sometimes things I just "throw together" on the fly are the things I get the most positive feed back on.

This past Saturday, I held a baby shower for my sister-in-law and wanted something filling but pretty to put on the table amongst the other lighter items. I had made this delectable little sandwich for our ugly sweater party and never even got a bite... so I thought I would make it again. The most beautiful thing about a my mind... is that they never get old and the possibilities are endless.

For this, I used an Italian Sub theme but can already tell you that next time I am going to try to make a caprese sandwich with thick balsamic glaze. I think anything you add will turn out just fine. Here's what I did:

Italian Sub on Tomato Basil Focaccia
Servings: Twelve (12)

One Large Archer Farms Tomato Basil Focaccia (from Target's bakery; any round focaccia will work.)
1/4 Lb. Hard Salami
1/4 Lb. Thinly Sliced Honey Ham
1/4 Lb. Thinly Sliced Turkey Breast
1/4 Lb. Pepperoni
1/2 Lb. Provolone Cheese
4 slices bib leaf lettuce 
Mustard and Mayo (on the side)  

Carefully slice focaccia in half lengthwise (like a hamburger bun)
Assemble sandwich to your liking
Cut into multiple slices and place a toothpick in each sandwich to hold them together (if necessary)
Serve on a cake stand or decorative plate with mustard and mayo on the side. 

Note: If you prefer to add mustard and/or mayo to the sandwich prior to serving the sandwich will likely get soggy and any leftovers will not store well.

Wasn't that easy? But yet it looks really pretty... 

I love easy little pretty party ideas. Hope you enjoy!
-The Little Bitchin Kitchen

Monday, January 16, 2012

Lemon Butter Tilapia

There are three qualities that make a great weeknight meal. Quick, cheap, and easy.
There have been so many nights lately that the thought of cooking exhausts me more than anything. (Yes, me, who LOVES my kitchen and has a passion for cooknig!) I am sure I am not the only one that sometimes needs a break.

Some days, being emotionally drained at work is enough to just want to call it a day, but on top of that I have been forcing myself to make the time for the gym AND make a home cooked dinner. Sometimes... it's just to much! That's where these little recipes can be lifesavers. Although this recipe is quick and easy, the flavor profile is wonderful and fills the house with that great garlic aroma. I have actually ordered something similiar to this in a restaurant and paid waaaay to much. ($15.99 for one fillet and a "serving" of vegetables that consisted of a carrot or two in my opinion is just too much!!) This same meal, made at home, turned out to be less that $10.00 for two. Now how can you beat that?

Give it a shot and let me know what you think. Tilapia is always my "go to" quick meal because I never get sick of white fish and it's still somewhat healthy, even with a little butter! You could always half this recipe to make just two fillets of fish, but I find that it reheats extremely well the following day for lunch so I prefer to always make four fillets and enjoy the leftovers.

Lemon Butter Tilapia
Serves: Four (4)

4 Tilapia Fillets
3 Tablespoons Fresh Lemon Juice 
2 Tablespoons Butter, Melted 
2 Cloves Garlic, Finely Chopped 
1 Tablespoon Fresh Parsley Flakes
Salt and Pepper (to taste)
Emeril's Original Essence (to taste; recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Spray a baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.

Rinse tilapia fillets under cool water, and pat dry with paper towels.

Place fillets in baking dish.

In a small pan, slowly melt butter over medium heat. Add lemon juice, parsley, and garlic. Simmer until fragrant. (About 3 minutes). Pour over fish. Generously season with Salt, Pepper, and Emeril's Original Essence seasoning.

Bake in preheated oven until the fish is white and flakes when pulled apart with a fork, about 15-20 minutes. Top with fresh parsley and serve over rice, vegetables, or by itself.

Emeril's Original Essence
Makes: About 6 oz.

2 1/2 Tablespoons Paprika
2 Tablespoons Salt
2 Tablespoons Garlic Powder
1 Tablespoon Black Pepper
1 Tablespoon Onion Powder
1 Table Spoon Cayenne Pepper
1 Tablespoon Dried Oregano
1 Tablespoon Dried Thyme

Mix all ingredients thoroughly and store in air tight container.

Happy Cooking!
-The Little Bitchin Kitchen

Source: The fish recipe is something I came up with myself. I chose to use Emeril's Original Essence seasoning because I personally love the flavors and do not have any affiliation with him and/or Food Network. His recipe above was copied identically from: Food Network

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Mustard Roasted Potatoes

I feel like sometimes potatoes really get a bad rap. I always hear people saying how they don't like to "eat all those carbs" or that they are "just too heavy for their liking." Well fine then, don't eat potatoes, but I must say... you really are missing out. I have never heard anyone speak that way about cupcakes, muffins or rice... yet those are heavy in carbohydrates too!

Let's give potatoes some love this year and prove to everyone that even potatoes, when not smothered with butter and sour cream, can be extremely healthy and flavorful.

This recipe comes to you from the one and only Barefoot Contessa. That woman has really taught me to scale it down sometimes when it comes to spices and ingredients. Sometimes you just can't beat fresh and simple ingredients.

Serves: Six (6)

2.5 lbs small flavorful potatoes, such as red or Yukon Gold
1 onion (white or yellow)
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons whole grain mustard
kosher salt
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Scrub and dry potatoes, slice into wedges, and place on a rimmed baking sheet or in a baking dish.

In a small bowl, stir together olive oil, whole grain mustard, salt, pepper, and parsley. Pour over potatoes, and toss to coat. Bake in preheated oven 30 - 40 minutes, until potatoes are soft when pierced with a fork, and are crisp around the edges. Remove from oven, let cool slightly, and enjoy!

Yeah... I know... again... as Ina would say, "How easy is that?"

What's your HEALTHY potato recipe? Please share!!

Source: Barefoot Contessa at Home

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Chicken Enchilada Bake

Don't you just love when you find a recipe that is healthy but tastes like it isn't? That's how I would describe this dish. It's rich, full-flavored, and healthy. Yes, I said healthy! I had chicken breasts, and corn tortillas and wasn't feeling inspired but knew whatever I was going to make needed to be healthy.  I ended up finding a recipe for something similar and then in true Kristen form revamped the whole thing. The original inspired me but was just too packed with calories for my "goal" of eating better.   I removed a lot of the cheese, (I know, I know... it's so good, but I promise you won't miss it,) and used reduced fat sour cream.

Another bonus for this recipe? It's fast and easy! Total prep time was about twenty minutes and that could be reduced if you choose to use rotisserie chicken instead of cooking it at home. Although it's healthy AND fast.. it is NOT lacking in flavor.

Chicken Enchilada Bake 
Serves: Six (6)

3-4 boneless skinless chicken breasts*
1 (4 oz.) can diced green chilis
1/2 jalapeno, finely chopped
1/2 C. black beans (or any bean you have on hand)
1 bell pepper, finely chopped 
10 small yellow corn tortillas
1 (16 oz.) Jar of mild, medium or hot salsa ( I prefer to use hot)
1 (8 oz.) container of reduced fat or regular sour cream
1 1/2 C. shredded colby jack cheese 
Salt, Pepper, and Garlic powder (to taste)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees °F 

Heat a large skillet over medium heat, and spray with vegetable cooking spray. Saute chicken until cooked through. Add in beans, chilie, jalapenos, and bell pepper. Saute for about 3 more minutes and add salt, pepper, and garlic powder. 

Spread half of the jar of salsa over the bottom of an 8x8 baking dish. Place 5 tortillas over the sauce, overlapping if necessary. Spoon half of the chicken mixture over the tortillas, and sprinkle with half of the cheese and half of the sour cream. Layer the remaining chicken mixture over the tortillas. Cover dish with a lid or aluminum foil.

Bake for 30 minutes in the preheated oven. Remove the cover, and sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top and dot with sour cream. Continue cooking, uncovered, for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, or until cheese melts. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. 

There you have it. That was pretty easy, wasn't it? I thought so too. And it tastes JUST like an enchilada!  Since you saved all those calories you could even enjoy a margarita and not feel guilty about it!

*Note: If substituting shredded rotisserie chicken, use about 2 Cups
-The Little Bitchin Kitchen

Inspired by: All Recipes

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Tomato and Basil Baked Egg Cups

Let's face it. Whether or not any of us will admit it... we are all on the "going to eat healthier in 2012" kick and although I refuse to make resolutions, I do like setting goals. I love to eat, but I would would also like to look a bit better in my swim suit this coming summer so I am making it a "goal" to eat a lot less and a lot healthier! 

This recipe is a great protein start to the day.  (Research shows that starting your day off with protein is a good option because it keeps you fuller longer, which can aid in your weight loss goals.)  Although this is a "pre-health kick" version with matchstick potatoes and cheese on top, you could certainly remove those options and be left with a great and healthy start to your morning.

Tomato & Basil Baked Egg Cups
Yield: One Egg Cup 

1 slice bacon (optional)
1 teaspoon melted butter
2-3 slices deli ham, chopped
1 egg
1/4 slice Cheddar cheese (or any cheese of your liking; optional)
1-2 cherry tomatoes (for topping)
Basil, chopped (for topping)
Dash of salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350 °F

Place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium high heat until evenly brown, but still flexible. Wrap bacon slice around the inside of a muffin cup or small individual ramekin. Place a teaspoon of butter in the bottom of muffin cup and then add ham. Drop in egg. 

Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes. Place 1/4 slice of cheese over egg, and continue cooking until cheese is melted and egg is cooked. 

Remove from muffin cup or ramekin and top with tomatoes and basil. Sprinkle with dash of salt and pepper and dig in! (The pictured egg here is over a bed of home-made hash browns.)

Note: This recipe is for 1 serving. Scale it to the number of eggs you would like to bake. It's so simple and delicious and a great idea for a brunch you're hosting!
Hope you LOVE it as much as we did!
-The Little Bitchin Kitchen