Friday, February 24, 2012

Chicken, Squash, and Chickpea Salad with Tahini Dressing

I love chickpeas, I love tahini dressing, and I LOVE butternut squash.  Needless to say this recipe made me so happy.  I debated using spinach instead of romaine lettuce, but the other ingredients offer enough flavor that romaine is the best way to go.  I also left out the chives (because I don't love them) and ate the pita chips on the side.  The recipe was very simple and only took about 45 minutes to make.  It won't take you as long if you're a pro at peeling butternut squash, unlike me.  Maybe I need to buy a new peeler, or maybe it's just the butternut squash.  Regardless, I will not let my dislike of peeling the squash keep me from cooking it and neither should you!  

1 medium butternut squash (about 2 pounds) peeled, seeded, and cut into 1 inch pieces
4 tablespoons olive oil
salt & pepper
2  6-oz boneless, skinless chicken breast
1/3 cup tahini 
1/3 cup water
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon dried oregano
12 oz romaine hearts, cut into strips
1 15.5-ounce can of chickpeas, rinsed
1 cup pita chips
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

1. Heat oven to 425 degrees, with the racks in the upper and lower thirds.  
2. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the squash with 2 tablespoons of the oil, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.  
3. Roast on the bottom rack, tossing once, until tender, 25 to 30 minutes.
4. Place the chicken on a second rimmed baking sheet and coat with 1 tablespoon of oil.  Season with 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper.  Roast on the top rack until cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes.  Let cool slightly, then slice.
4. While the squash and chicken are cooking, in a small bowl, whisk together tahini, lemon juice, oregano, one tablespoon of oil, 1/3 cup water, and 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper.  
5. Mix together the lettuce, chicken, squash and chickpeas.  Top with pita chips and chives if desired.  Serve with dressing.

Recipe adapted from February 2012 edition of Real Simple magazine.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

A Taste of Heaven

Chocolate Peanut Butter Layered Cupcakes  
All you have to read is the title of this blog and you know you won't be disappointed.  Chocolate and Peanut Butter, enough said.  Although, if I can say one more thing, these cupcakes have cream cheese in them which in my opinion makes them even better.  

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup baking cocoa
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 vegetable oil
1 cup water
1 tablespoon white vinegar 
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 powdered sugar
                                                                1/4 cup peanut butter chips
1/4 cup chocolate chips

A couple of things to note before baking.  First, I left out the white vinegar because I didn't have any and they were still as delicious as ever.  Second, the peanut butter chips and chocolate chips are to sprinkle on top of the cupcake.  I bought a mixed bag of chocolate/peanut butter chips and sprinkled the amount I wanted on each cupcake.  You may use more or less chips than what the recipe calls for.  

1.  Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Fill 18 regular size muffin tins with liners.

2. In a large bowl, mix flour, baking cocoa, brown sugar, baking soda and salt.  Add oil, water, vinegar and vanilla to flour mixture.  Stir until smooth.

3. In another large bowl, beat egg, cream cheese, peanut butter and granulated sugar with electric mixer. Once mixed, add powered sugar and beat until creamy.

4. Spoon about a tablespoon of chocolate batter into each cup.  Spread about a tablespoon of peanut butter filling on top of the chocolate.  Repeat the layers once more.  Sprinkle with peanut butter and chocolate chips.  

5. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool in pan for 15 minutes.  Serve warm or cool. 

6.  Try to restrain yourself from eating all of the cupcakes.

This original recipe can be found from the Pillsbury website.