Monday, April 29, 2013

Big News!

The Cozy Little Kitchen has not been as busy these day, and I apologize for that!  It's not because I haven't been making delicious recipes, but because I've had something pretty big going on in our life the past few weeks. 
As you all may know, Heath and I have been trying to start a family for almost 7 long years now.  God has never left us on this journey of major ups and downs.  We are about to come full circle in a beautiful way.  The journey began with innocently trying to start our family, to infertility, to stress and anxiety, to conceiving a miracle baby girl, to burying Bailey Faith, failed fertility treatments, confusion, discouragement, and fear....
Last year after years of seeking God and crying out to Him, the Lord completely delivered me from all of my depression and hopelessness.  HE SAVED ME all over again last year!
I decided to whole-heartedly and completely step outside of reason and give my mind, emotions, body and spirit to God in free-falling trust.  Last year my eyes were opened up to how massive His love is for me, and because of His love there is no reason not to trust this plan He has for our life.  It's WAY better than what ours would be! 
Heath and I have walked places that when we married I'd never dreamt  we would go.  What the enemy was trying to use to destroy us, God has revealed to me that He is using to victoriously REDEEM.  Because of this journey, I have a story in the works that He wants us to share with others to give HOPE!
I've said all of that to get to the best part.  God's ways are higher and so much better....
We are adopting a baby!!!!
 God has laid this on our hearts for a few years now, but now He has called us to do so!  We are no less than thrilled.  We know the journey isn't over yet and it's not for the faint of heart, but when God calls you to something He will provide and continue to guide, and that's what we stand on!!! :)
Here is a new blog my husband started a few days ago called Bringing Home Baby Cates.  We've been swamped with things around here, and I haven't posted in it yet but Heath has. :) There is still much ahead of us and decisions to be made, but just to be finally in this process is exciting for us.  He is making a way where there seemed to be no way....
The Cozy Little Kitchen will continue on, but the posts may not be as frequent for a little while.   So please keep us in your prayers and follow our new blog as the Lord guides us to meet our new baby!

Friday, April 19, 2013

My Prayer For the Hurting and Pan Seared Tilapia with Crispy Oven Fries

"Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need." Hebrews 4:16
"Commit your way to the Lord, trust in Him, and He will act.  He will bring forth righteousness as the light and your justice as the noonday!"  Psalm 37:5-6
I want to start off by addressing the two tragedies that have happen since I last posted.  I never. ever. want to grow unaffected by such horrific events, despite the frequency of them.  I am heartbroken for the city of Boston, the town of West, TX and for every person and family whose lives have been permanently altered.  I've been praying for these communities!  I can only imagine how clouded their minds must be from the marathon terrorist bombing and the plant explosion, since there hasn't been much time for reality to sink in.  
I pray for peace and comfort that only the Lord can give and for safety and justice in this situation.  I trust in God to do this, because He loves us and I'm asking in Jesus' name!  Every time I see another tragedy unfold, I'm reminded of the blessing of my health and own family whom I never want to take for granted.  It's only because of His grace and mercy.  I put my hope in the one constant thing on earth ... His unfailing love!
It's not easy to transition to a recipe from this, but we must continue to live our lives. Perhaps this food can bring you some sunshine today!
So now, I wanted to share with you the delicious plate of food I made for myself one day when I was outside working in the yard and I could smell Long John Silvers wafting my way!  We have one very close by.   
There was something about the warm, sunny, beautiful day and working outside that made me crave a fish dinner.  I grew up on "fish dinners", and they're still one of my favorite meals of all time, really!  Usually a classic fish fry style meal consists of fried catfish or crappie, hushpuppies, french fries, coleslaw, white beans, with tarter sauce, lemon with freshly sliced tomatoes.  Friends, this is summer cooking at it's best!!
I didn't really want to go out to eat since I was home alone, and I didn't want greasy fish (since I'm working out to be ready for shorts, ha) so I decided to whip up a dinner with what I had.  I happen to find some tilapia in the freezer (score!) and I had a baking potato that would be perfect for homemade fries.  Delicious, crispy, skin-on french fries doused in some hot sauce for a kick!  For some reason I was really wanted fries with hot sauce instead of ketchup.
I didn't have anything for slaw, but I found a ripe avocado that sliced up would be the perfect cool, creamy side I needed.   I also just happened to have some sweet tea left over from the night before, and of course that's what you drink with your fish around here!  I found lemon for the tea and fish, and I made up a quick tarter/remoulade sauce, too!   I had everything for a perfectly delicious and healthy fish dinner that would satisfy my summer craving.
I can't tell you how quick I whipped this dinner up, because I was so hungry after working outside!  As you can see, I already started digging in before I took a picture. (I hope you don't mind my occasional blog posting with very casual/real pictures!!) These pictures aren't staged at all, but in fact the one at the top is actually my plate sitting on--you guessed it-- my lap!   I ate picnic style in front of the tv.  Mr. Cozy thinks I have mad lap-eating skills! ;)
  I thought maybe you all would like to know how I fixed this meal in case you also want to make an impromptu fish dinner!  These are not exact recipes, but they are all my own.  I hope this will give you a good idea of how easy it is to make yourself!
Here's to the taste of summer!  :)
Pan Seared Tilapia with Hand-Cut Oven Fries
This is a very loose interpretation of my fish"recipe". I add different seasonings every time, but this time I wanted some spicy heat.  I began making pan seared tilapia and salmon after Mom began making it at home with sauteed onions and pepper on a bed or fresh spinach and brown rice. Really fast and delicious!
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Tilapia Fillet
1/4 c. sliced onion
Cajun Seasoning
Garlic Powder
Salt & Pepper
On a plate or flat bowl, squeeze the lemon juice on your fish.  Eyeball the amount, but evenly sprinkle the Cajun seasoning, a little garlic powder and a little paprika to evenly coat the fish.  I do this liberally because I love flavor.  Add a little salt and pepper depending on how salty your Cajun spice is. 
While  your fish is sitting, over medium heat swirl some EVOO in a cast iron or regular skillet until the bottom is coated.  Once hot, add the sliced onion and cook until tender and translucent or a little browned.  Remove from pan.
Add a little more oil, and add the fish to the pan top side down.  Cook over med-high heat for about 3-4 minutes and carefully turn to the other side for another 2 minutes or until fish is white and opaque.  When you turn the fish (once) put the onions on the top of the fish for the remaining cooking time to flavor it well.  Serve hot with a slice of lemon!
Crispy Oven Fries
I make these ALL THE TIME.   I very rarely buy frozen french fries anymore, because these are so good!  Mind you, I'm only cooking for my husband and I don't have to make that many.  Remember, 1 large baking potato serves about two people.
1 large Russet Baking Potato 
Freshly Ground Pepper (if you have a grinder)
Garlic Salt (I use Mc Cormick's Garlic-Sea salt)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
 Wash, scrub, and dry your potato well. 
Using a steady hand and a large knife, carefully cut the potato in half width-wise.  Stand each piece on the flat end and cut in half again.  Lay down flat and half again.  Now, it's just a matter of slicing to get medium to small shoe string pieces of potato.  Mine end up being about 2 1/2 - 3 1/2 inches long.  (So sorry for no visual here!)
If you have a little extra patience and want extra crispy fries, put the uncooked fries into a large bowl and submerge with cold water for at least 30 minutes.  This draws out the starch in the potato leaving you with potatoes that will be easier to bake and get crispy!
Rinse and dry the potatoes well.
Drizzle a large baking sheet with EVOO to coat.   Dump the fries on the pan and drizzle them with more oil.  You really don't want them swimming in oil here, but they should feel oily once tossed.  Start with about 1 Tbsp. and  you can always add more.
 Sprinkle all the seasoning on the potatoes and toss well.  Spread out evenly and add more seasoning if you can't plainly see it on the potatoes.  (Watch the amount of garlic-salt, you can always add more salt once out of the oven.) 
You don't want to over crowd your potatoes in the pan, even if that means using 2 pans.  An overcrowded pan equals soggy fries!
Bake for about 30-35 minutes--tossing once or twice--until fries are golden with crispy edges.  If they finish before the other food, turn the oven off and cracked and leave them in to keep warm.
Taste a fry and add a more salt or pepper if need-be, fresh out of the oven.  These french fries are so addicting and especially delicious with fish or grilled hamburgers!
The Sauce
I apologize for not having a recipe for the yum sauce I made for the fish.  I will play with the recipe more and post it soon.  Here are basically the ingredients if you want to play with it...
Light Mayo
Greek Yogurt
Smidgen of Dijon Mustard
Lemon Juice
Diced Sweet Pickles and bit of juice
Cajun Seasoning
Garlic Powder
Salt and Pepper
Like I said, I need to make it again and give y'all the exact proportions to make it easier. It's divine with the fish!
Linking up with:

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Vanilla Bean Tiramisu

There are a few desserts that kind of..... intimidate me.  Probably because I only see them in restaurants, and nobody seems to really make them at home.  You know, those desserts!  Give me all the cookie, brownie and pie recipes you want, but there is something about a dessert like the Italian classic tiramisu that I would never normally think of making.
That is until last week when we were going to a friend's house for a homemade Italian supper.  When I asked what dessert I could bring, she casually mentioned tiramisu.  I confidently said, " that sounds great!".  (Although, I've never made that before!)  Behold, a challenge was in front of me and I like those!  I was to make my first tiramisu for new friends! 
Let me tell you guys that there are a few steps, but it's really so simple to make.  This is coming from a girl who has only eaten tiramisu a couple of time and didn't know what in the world it really consists of!  I was intimidated for no reason, and in fact it was really fun to make.  
I knew the recipe I wanted to try.  I saw the Gabrielle and Debi from Extra Virgin (The Cooking Channel) make this on an episode a while back and thought it looked amazing!  He is Italian, and so who better to learn from?  This recipe came out supremely delicious!! 
The only major thing I changed from the recipe is that I never have liked the alcohol taste in tiramisu (call me crazy), so I opted to keep it out and replace it with the smooth, warm flavor of  vanilla.  Oh, what a good decision!!  I used my vanilla bean paste instead of giving my kidney for a vanilla bean pod.  If you haven't used vanilla bean paste, I urge you to look for it in the nearest specialty food store or order it online.  Mine comes from The Fresh Market for 7.99, but I think I've seen it at Home Goods, too.  This stuff is like vanilla extract meets vanilla beans and is really amazing!  It's a paste and has vanilla beans in it (duh, Leslie) so not only is the flavor more concentrated than extract, but you have the pretty specks of beans, too!
The addition of vanilla resulted in a lusciously delicious mascarpone cream for the filling.  (Mascarpone cheese is basically Italian cream cheese, and I get mine at Trader Joes.   See picture.) 
The filling for the tiramisu is really light and fluffy.  It consists of whipping egg whites with sugar and folding that in a mixture of egg yolks, sugar, mascarpone cheese, a dash of strong coffee and vanilla bean paste.  It's quite hard to not eat this with a spoon while you're assembling!
This cream is then layered with coffee soaked cookies and a dusting of cocoa powder.  Finish it off with lots of dark chocolate shavings and you have a gorgeous homemade tiramisu!  It's really that simple.  There is no baking or cooking involved to make such an elegant dessert!
Everyone loved the dessert (whew!), and we had a really wonderful night with some new friends just sitting around the table, eating, telling stories, laughing and drinking coffee!  There's nothing like good food to bring people together and make an evening really worth remembering!
 Vanilla Bean Tiramisu
Makes about 10 Servings
3 c. brewed Coffee
2 (8 oz.) containers Mascarpone Cheese
5 *fresh* Eggs, separated
14 oz. Savoiardi Cookies, known as "Lady Fingers"
4 oz. Sugar, plus 2-3 Tbsp. for the coffee
1 1/2 Tbsp. Vanilla Bean Paste (or 2 shots of rum or Marsala)
Pinch Salt
2 Tbsp. unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1/4 c. Dark Chocolate,  shaved to garnish (I used 60%)
Make the strong coffee and pour in a shallow bowl, add about 2-3 Tbsp. sugar and allow to cool. 
Mix the egg yolks with 2 ounces of sugar, until you obtain a very pale yellow, creamy mixture. 
 Work the mascarpone cream in a bowl using a wooden spoon to rid of lumps and then add this to the sugar-egg mixture.  Add the vanilla bean paste and I added about 1 Tbsp. of the cold coffee, too.  Continue to mix very well.  I used a whisk and then a wooden spoon for this. 
 In a large separate bowl, mix the egg white, salt, and remaining 2 oz. sugar until the eggs get firm and fluffy. 
I acted like I was making meringue, so I used the stand mixture and gradually added the sugar a little at a time once it got to soft peaks.  Once the sugar was added, I cranked up the speed to high until I got pretty stiff peaks. 
Gently fold the fluffed egg whites into the creamy mascarpone mixture.   Keep in mind, you want to keep this a fluffy mixture, so I didn't mix this in until smooth.  There was probably still a little egg white that wasn't completely incorporated.  Once you get it on the tiramisu, you won't taste it.  It will just remain light and airy this way!
 Have your best cocoa powder handy with a small sieve for part of the layering process.
 Here is my work station.  As you can see I have my bowl of coffee, my dish where I'm layering it all in, and the fluffy marscapone mixture on the other side.  My cocoa powder is handy and so are my lady finger cookies (though not seen here). 
Begin by taking the cookies one at a time and dipping them halfway in the coffee mixture.  Place the cookie dipped side up in the dish so the coffee will gradually seep through the cookie without making it completely mushy.
Do this until the bottom of the dish is lined with cookies. 
 Next, heap a big dollop of the cream and spread out evenly over the cookies. 
 Next, using your small sieve, dust cocoa powder over the cream. (No picture here.)
Repeat the steps ....
 Cocoa powder. 
In my dish I actually assembled 3 layers, layering completely to the top of the dish, because it will settle a bit.  I ended up having some cookies and a little cream left over.  (Mmm, cookies dipped in cream for a snack!)
This is my favorite part...
Shaving the chocolate bar right over the finished tiramisu at the very end.  I like lots of chocolate!
 Store this is the fridge for at least 3 hours. Cut into squares and enjoy!  Eat within 2 days for the best taste, but that won't be a problem!   
**Be aware there are raw egg in here, so please don't it allow to sit out of the fridge for very long!  This probably wouldn't be a good idea at a picnic.**
 I'm linking up with:



Thursday, April 11, 2013

Sweet & Salty Green Bean Bundles at Inspired By Family & Thanks to YOU!

Why, hello there long-lost friends of mine! 
...  Ha! April is already such a busy month, I haven't posted anything is over a week! :(  I've missed seeing what yummy food and beautiful inspiration you all have up.  Also, I have a long line of scrumptious recipes that I've made and want to soon share with you!  I made tiramisu that I took to a gathering with friends over the weekend that is the best I've ever had... my post for this is in the making!!
Do you ever stubble on a period of time in the year that just seems to be stuffed full of things?  They could be events such as birthdays, weddings, spring break activities, overnight guest or perhaps deadlines for something at work or party you're throwing?
Well, I'm having one of those months!  After December, April and May are usually one of the busiest times for us, and this one is no different.  Everything--praise God-- is all very good things, but all important things that have been consuming my time.
Unfortunately my blog here has been put on the back burner a little.  From the start I decided that my blog would be all about my life, instead of my life being all about my blog.  That way everything I write about it purely genuine and from my heart, and it doesn't cause me to miss out on my life.  If anything, it gives me time to do everything I love and then tell you about it! :)  Speaking of things I love ...
I really need to say THANK YOU to all of you!  To my family, readers, friends, followers, in the past couple of weeks I have celebrated exceeding my 200th post and my 300th follower!  I have all of your precious hearts to thank for expressing support and love for my blog.  I truly write from my heart and consider so many of you my friends!  I've built some good relationships through email with some of you, and I wanted to let you know if there is anything in your life you want me to pray about, please email me and I will.  :) 
 I hope you'll continue with me on this sweet journey of sharing my kitchen and my life with you. 
 Let's get to business! .....
Meet my favorite side of delicious sweet & salty green bean bundles....yummers!!!  I made these green beans on Easter, and we devoured them.  I mean how can bacon, brown sugar, and garlic butter not make green beans the very best they can be??
You really need to check out this recipe where I'm contributing today, at Inspired By Family Magazine!  Join me there, because I love when my friends hop over and browse around all the tasty recipes, crafts, and articles on family. 
Have a blessed day, and I will meet you back here again very soon with my tiramisu! ;)

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Green Bean Bundles

Since we've been talking about fresh, summer vegetables (although the season is coming to an end), I want to re-share this recipe of delicious green bean bundles!  I've shared this recipe, as you may remember, at Inspired By Family Magazine, but I never did post it here on my own blog.  This was just before our lives so dramatically changed with our little Blessings!  

I made these green beans for Easter with holy yum chicken and rosemary mashed potatoes.  I wanted another unique side dish, so I decided on these tangy bundles of green beans wrapped in bacon and baked up crispy and good.  I used French green beans and they look a little too shriveled here, but if you want them more plump just use regular garden green beans.  Either way, the sauce that's poured over and the bacon make them irresistible little bundles!
Salty & Sweet Green Bean Bundles
Recipe Adapted from Makin' it Mo' Betta
1 lb. Green Beans (I used French green beans)
10-12 slices of Bacon
2 Tbsp. Butter
1 Tbsp. Brown Sugar
2 cloves Minced Garlic
1/4 tsp. Salt
1/4 tsp. Black Pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. 
Line a baking pan with aluminum foil and put a baking rack on the top.  This way all the excess fat will drip down and your green beans won't cook in all the fat.  Your bacon will crisp better, too.
Wash and dry the green beans well.  Season with salt and pepper.  Bundle about 6-8 green beans and take a slice of bacon and wrap around the center of the green bean bundle.  They don't have to be perfect!  Lay the bundle with the seam side down on the rack.  Do this to all the green beans.  They can touch in the pan if you make a large batch, but since I only made a few for us two I scattered them out.
In a small sauce pan over low heat, mix the brown sugar, butter, and minced garlic until melted.  Stir it all together.  Using a pastry brush, brush this butter mixture over all the bundles.  If you can any left, just pour over the bundles until they're saturated and evenly coated.  I added a bit more black pepper over the top.
Cover the pan with foil and bake for about 35 minutes.  Take the foil off and bake for another 10-15 minutes, or until the bacon is crisp.  If the bacon is having a hard time, turn on the broiler for a minute at the very end.  Unless you use thick cut bacon, you shouldn't have a problem with this.  Plan on everyone having at least 2 bundles.
Enjoy with your favorite food and your favorite people!


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Savory Herb Crusted Chicken with Tomato-Garlic Cream Sauce

In case this picture doesn't do the trick, let me explain to you just how amazing this chicken recipe is! 
This was actually the first time to make this recipe that I found on Pinterest and decided to make in the very last few minutes before starting to cook!  I just happened to have most all of the ingredients needed for this mouthwatering chicken that's covered with a veil of cream sauce filled with roasted tomatoes and garlic. 
Oh. my. goodness, I want seconds nooooow!!
(Sorry for channeling the bratty girl from Willy Wonka.)
The flavors in this dish are incredible!  The chicken is seasoned well and pan fried with a light breading.  The base of the sauce comes from the "good bits" from the pan, chicken broth, cream, garlic and tomatoes that I quickly oven roasted.  It all comes together and marries like any well done recipe really should!  I decided to make some spaghetti and toss a little of the sauce and use that as a bed for the chicken breasts that's smothered with the rest of the tomato cream sauce.I did make some changes from the original recipe.  Here are the main ones:  
I used EVOO instead of butter.  (Other than adding a tiny bit to the sauce.) 
I didn't have any canned Italian tomatoes, but I did have Roma tomatoes that I needed to use.  I seeded and chopped them, tossed with EVOO, minced garlic, dried Italian seasoning salt & freshly cracked pepper and roasted them at 425 degrees for about 12 minutes.  Easy and incredible.  This could even be done ahead of time. 
Unfortunately I didn't have fresh basil , so I did use dried Italian seasoning.
All of the changes were scrumptious.  I think either way this dish is perfection.
My mouth is seriously watering as I type!
I mean look at how the hot piece of chicken is soaking up the warm herb cream sauce?
The camera was loving this dish, but a girl can only take so many pics when she's drooling!!
To be honest, I knew the recipe looked good, but it tasted even better than I expected .... Way better!  This chicken is restaurant quality.  This would be a perfect meal to treat family and friends with!  It may look like it would be difficult, but it's really not.  It didn't take me long at all to make this and it came together so beautifully with the French green beans (haricot verts) I roasted.  You can substitute the pasta for mashed potatoes for a more home style option that would be a really comforting meal!
Please, for the love of your taste buds make this recipe!!   The whipping cream does put it in the very infrequent rotation of recipes for us, but you know that makes this dish even more special.  I'm already trying to think of a reason to make it again.  If you need a new chicken dish to try out, this is the recipe to make!   
Herb Crusted Chicken in Tomato-Garlic Cream Sauce
  Adapted from Our Kind of Love
Serves 2
2 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts, pounded thin
1/4 c. Milk
6 dashes of Hot Sauce
1/2 c. Italian Dried Bread Crumbs
1 tsp. Paprika
1 tsp. Garlic Salt
1 tsp. Freshly Cracked Black Pepper
3 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2-3 cloves Garlic, minced
1/2 c. Chicken broth
2/3 c. Whipping Cream, I didn't use "heavy" 
1/4 can of Italian diced tomatoes, drained and finely chopped
That is where I substituted for fresh roasted ones. Instructions above.
1/2 c. Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
Salt & Fresh Cracked Pepper to taste
Fresh Basil
(Please note that this is the recipe after I tweaked it to make it my own, other than the canned tomatoes.  The seasonings may not be precise, but they are very close.  I love the taste of hot sauce in the milk and please feel free to play with the sauce adding more less cream or additional spices if you like doing that!)
Pour milk in a shallow dish and add the hot sauce and salt and pepper.  Go ahead and put your chicken in there to soak while you're preparing the rest of the ingredients.
Place breadcrumbs, paprika, garlic salt and pepper in another shallow bowl or plate.
In a large skillet, heat EVOO on medium heat. 
Using tongs, remove the chicken from the milk and place directly into the breadcrumb mixture.  Make sure it's thoroughly coated with crumbs.
Cook the chicken until brown and cooked through.  Since your cutlets will be thin, it won't take too long.  Remove and keep warm in aluminum foil.
In the same skillet, add garlic (I also added a smidgen of butter) and saute for almost a minute.
Add chicken broth and bring to a boil.  Using a wooden spoon, scrape the pan to loosen all the good bits.
Stir in the cream and tomatoes.  Bring to a simmer for 1-2 minutes.
Reduce heat to low and add the cheese.  Reserve some for plating if you wish.  Add fresh basil, pepper and stir the sauce until heated through and thickened.  This will just take 3-5 minutes.
I served the chicken by slicing it on a cutting board first.  Plate the chicken--I did this over pasta--and generously pour the sauce over the chicken. 
Divine!  You're ready to eat!
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