Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Some of the Best Recipes from Around the Web

I love to cook. Growing up, I learned how to bake at a young age and always volunteered to make dessert for holidays or any other events that called for them. But it was only in college that I actually learned how to cook.

It wasn’t always good: the first time I made chicken breast, I cut it into chunks, put the pieces onto a sheet pan sprayed with Pam, and stuck it into the oven at 350 for 20 minutes. When I checked on it, I was genuinely surprised to see that the pink flesh had turned white. Not knowing how to tell if it was done, I left the chicken in the oven for another 15 minutes. The results? Dry, pale chunks of flavorless protein. I didn’t care; I thought it was magical. It had been raw, and I cooked it.







Since then, I’ve come a long way. I’m still not an expert by any means, but I can follow a recipe and have a little intuition on flavors and improvising dishes. I’m always looking for new dishes, new ways to prepare staples like ground beef, chicken breast, or rice, and over this time I’ve built of a bit of a collection of truly great recipes from around the Internet. All are delicious, and most are quite easy and fairly healthy.

Part of why I like calorie-counting is that no food is off limits. If I really want something, I can fit it into my plan. Even the flourless chocolate cake has a place.




So here they are below, in some semblance of order. (I’m not affiliated with any of these website or their owners, I’ve just enjoyed their recipes.)

Soup


  • A little twist from blended soups - you blend half the beans with broth, and leave the other half unblended. It creates a nice texture.
  • Changes: Add more of the spices, to taste


  • This recipe makes a wonderfully comforting soup with a thick, mildly flavored broth. I altered it by using chicken breast and using some chicken broth, instead of the bone-in thighs the recipe calls for. I sauteed the carrots, onions, and celery in the oil, then added the broth and chicken breast, essentially poaching the breasts in the liquid.
  • The dumplings for this recipe are especially good - one-bowl and easy to prepare, they puff up nicely in the soup. I recommend making them small for maximum flavor


Misc 

Easy and Unbelievable No-Knead Bread
  • You know that perfect artisan-style bread - with the wonderfully browned, hard, crackly crust and the perfectly soft and fluffy inside? The kind that, when it comes to your table all steamy and warm, you can never resist? This recipe makes that bread. It’s about 7 hours from start to finish, but only requires about four minutes of actual hand-on work, and most of that is just measuring flour. No kneading involved, the long rising time does that job.
  • This is what to make if you want to impress people, or just enjoy a seriously perfect loaf of bread.

Best Scrambled Eggs
  • You might have seen this video - in it, Gordon Ramsay shows off his method of making scrambled eggs. I was skeptical because they looked undercooked, but they’re actually amazing - creamy and really rich, even though there’s only a pad of butter in the whole thing.
Entrees 


Balsamic Baked Tilapia 
  • I use feta instead of the bleu cheese, and also often use less than the recipe calls for. You don’t miss it. 
  • Balsamic is an underused ingredient. It is so good on basically every kind of meat and fish.


Ginger Chicken Stir-Fry
  • This recipe is perfect, except you should add onions at the beginning. Quick, delicious, and healthy, a new way to prepare chicken breast.
  • The site I linked above, Mel's Kitchen Cafe, is also just a kick-ass site. So many good recipes, I've made several of them and they all come out great. (See especially cookie bars below)


  • This recipe sounds a little weird (baking cut-up refrigerator biscuits in sauce?) but is delicious and makes a huge, filling serving size
  • I make it vegetarian by using soy crumbles, and usually cut down a bit on the cheese


  • I shared this recipe a while back on this blog, and it’s worth mentioning again. If you’re willing to buy pre-cut veggies, it comes together in about five minutes

  • Great, easy-to-follow recipe that yields tender, delicious meatballs. 
  • The secret ingredient is mint - you don’t taste it at all, but it adds this great extra flavor

Desserts



  • I made this for a work event, and people were raving over it.
  • Bonus: It is incredibly easy to make and happens to be gluten-free, but is rich and chocolaty, and looks impressive. I pressed chopped almonds into the rim, which made it look extra fancy (it's a terrible photo; it actually looked pretty good




  • The name is exactly what they are. Simply spiced, soft and chewy cookies. They sound basic but are surprisingly wonderful.


  • I quite frankly can’t recommend these highly enough. Easy to make, you don’t even need a mixer, and they taste like perfect, chewy chocolate chip cookies, but without having to form individual cookies.
  • Note: Be sure not to over bake them though.

The Best Brownies I’ve Ever Made
  • Okay, they’re called “Brooke's Best Bombshell Brownie,” but they are the best. These are the brownies that you’re looking for - with the crackly, shiny top, gooey inside, and rich chocolately taste throughout. And easy, too! I made these as part of the Mother's Day meal we put together, and my mom loved them and thought we'd gone to a bakery.
  • The only change is to replace half the white sugar with brown

I’m always looking for new recipes, so feel free email or comment with your favorites!

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