Spinach and Artichoke Chicken Manicotti

I intended on boiling the handy dandy boxed noodles but I felt compelled to make the noodles. The last time I did that I just made some simple pasta noodles. When I went to the Googles to find some inspo I saw a technique that I’d never heard of which meant that I obviously have to try it.

Additionally the supermarket only had an insanely large container of ricotta. The Googles said it was easy so I said ‘what the hell?”

And it was!

I’m not writing up a lengthy post. I think the pictures are largely self explanatory. I didn’t use any precise measurements aside from the manicotti and the ricotta, which I’ll link to if anyone feels adventurous.

Fresh ricotta

Fresh manicotti

I winged this meal. I didn’t know what was happening until I was basically ready to assemble.

The following are the components:

I cooked up ground chicken thighs. I seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika and a bit of chopped garlic and shallots.

Chopped spinach (frozen) and chopped artichoke hearts

I used a can of crushed tomatoes. I seasoned it up with the usual suspects and my personal tricks. Season your sauce as you like or use your usual.

Shredded mozzarella.

I mixed the ricotta with the spinach and artichokes. I seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic, parmesan and crushed red pepper.The rest is just assembly. Make sure you place them seam side down. Bake at 350 until nice and bubbly then make sure your cheese gets nice and melty 😍

This was my first time using this crepe-pasta technique. I did an amazing job with the flavors. I think it’s more suitable for a light recipe. This is hearty. I think I would have preferred an ordinary noodle. Either way this was amazingly yummy!

Worth every step!

🐷.

 

 

 

© 2020 by Alexa Mason. All Rights Reserved

Quick and Easy Ham & Cheese Breakfast Cups

I whipped these up for our family’s Christmas brunch. I was a little concerned because I’m personally not a big fan of baked eggs or quiche. I knew my family would enjoy them so I made them anyway.

And then I tasted one.

Yo.

I ate like four or five and instantly decided that I would be making these again.

It’s a really simple recipe. I fully intend on freezing some of these and warming them up throughout the week .So, these are easy and efficient especially for busy mornings, independent kiddos, etc.

It’s clear that these are suitable for customization. Feel free to try your own combinations like:

Pepperoni and mozzarella

Spinach and feta

Sundried tomato, basil and spinach

Feta, olives and chickpeas

Basil, mozzarella and tomato

Tag @NibblesandNom and share what you’ve come up with.

 

(I did not measure this. Just consider your family’s preferences, chop and dump)

 

To fill 12-cupcake pan I used:

5 eggs, whisked

Cheddar cheese

Finely chopped fresh brocolli

Chopped green onion

Chopped deli ham

Cream

Crescent rolls

Cooking Spray

S&P

 

I promise it’s a really easy and straightforward idea so I don’t any intention of writing anything extensive.

Preheat your oven to 350 and bake for 15-20m. You can store them in the fridge in an airtight container. You can freeze them and warm em up as you need them.

Jerk Chicken and Spicy Beef Patties

I did these at the same time. I’m just going to jot down what I recall doing. Follow the techniques, use what you got, use your own spice combos and TASTE TASTE TASTE.

Both dishes started with chopped garlic, red onion, jalapeno and scallions.

I seasoned my chicken breast with just a little salt, pepper, garlic and cumin. I wanted the chicken to taste good on its own. I didn’t want to rely on the sauce.

The ground beef was not seasoned until it was cooked through.

I seared one side of the chicken and then flipped it.

The chicken was then seasoned with some pepper and all spice. I added a tbsp of Grace jerk seasoning, scotch bonnet sauce and Worcestershire sauce. I allowed this to ‘braise’ until the sauce reduced some.

I chopped the chicken and added it back to the pan. I added a bit of water, some scallions and then stirred to combine.

Once the beef was cooked through it was mashed to break down the meat into smaller pieces.

I used spices like curry, cumin, ginger, all spice, garlic, onion and clove. I used a bit of Worcestershire and fish sauce.

I used water to temper the flavors and the moisture lever. Use salt last, you don’t want a salty dish.

Allow these filling to chill.

Preheat oven to 420

To assemble the patties:

Ensure that your filling is cool and not too watery

Take a disc and roll it out to create a larger patty discSpoon the filling onto the disc, do not over fill

Fold over and seal using your fingers and then a fork

(If you want to freeze these for later, this is when you want to do it.)

Bake until patties are crispy and golden brown.

Allow to cool before eating.

 

© 2019 by Alexa Mason. All Rights Reserved

Beef Patty Pastry Dough

Ingredients:

Dough:

3C AP four

1/2 tsp salt

3 tbsp jamaican curry powder

2 sticks of unsalted butter, frozen and cut into tabs

3/4C cold water

1 tbsp white vinegar

1 egg, lightly whisked

KEEP EVERYTHING COLD. STICK IT IN THE FREEZER. KEEP EVERYTHING COLD!

  1. In your food processor, pulse together the butter, flour, salt and curry powder
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, water and vinegar
  3. Slowly add the mixture to the food processor
  4. Pulse until the dough forms a ball
  5. Quickly dump the dough onto plastic wrap, wrap it up and stick it in the fridge (1 hr) or freezer (30-45m).

Now here is where it got fun. I had so much energy to transfer that I just took every technique I’ve ever used to try to get that flakey, buttery pastry that I love. I thought I was doing way too much BUT it came out so perfectly. The best I’ve ever made. Flour is your friend. So is the freezer. Do not let your dough get warm. Do not let your dough get soft. Do not let your butter melt. You want to see those big butter chunks. They’re responsible for those flakey layers we melt. When in doubt, stick it in the freezer! 

Prepare your work area with lots of flour. You want it everywhere. I spread flour all over a cookie sheet. One for prep and one for baking the actual beef patty.

I cut my dough into thirds so that I could keep some cool while I worked on the other.

Place one disc on a floured surface and press out into a rectangular shape

Roll it out until you have a long rectangle

Fold like an envelope

Roll it out again

Fold it again into an envelope then fold it on top of itself, so its like a cube?

I know it sounds like a lot but that’s because we’re not following rules anymore. We want flakes! We want flakes!

Press this down and roll it out again

Fold it up the ‘long way’ and roll it up

Keep chilled until it’s time to use it.

Freeze your scraps and any other dough.

Take one ‘roll’ out and roll it out until it’s like 1/4-/1/8 inch thick

Use a round dish to cut your shape

Keep everything floured, freeze discs as your work.

Repeat until you’ve used up your dough.

 

I used this dough to cook Jerk Chicken Patties and Spicy Beef Patties.

White Chocolate and Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies

1c AP flour

1c oats

2/3c brown sugar, packed

1/2c each craisins and white chocolate

1 stick cool but softened butter uns.

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/8 baking soda

Preheat to 350

Combine dry ingredients

On low, cream butter and sugar

Add egg and vanilla

Add dry ingredients

Add craisins and white chocolate

Combine with wooden spoon or spatula

Crumple parchment*

Form balls

Pro tip: Crumpling parchment paper makes it easier to manipulate when using baking sheets and pans

Bake for 10-15 minutes

Start checking for doneness around 10m

Edges should turn golden brown

Cool on cookie sheets before transferring to a cooling rack

© 2019 by Alexa Mason. All Rights Reserved

Jerk Chicken Plantain Patties

Ingredients:

 

Plantain Dough

Flour

 

2 chicken breasts

Seasoning (salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, coriander, smoked paprika)

 

½ head of a small green cabbage

1 small red onion

1 small sweet onion

1 serrano pepper

1 red jalapeno pepper

 

1-2 tbsp Grace Jerk Seasoning

Low-sodium Chicken Broth

2-3 tbsp brown sugar

Squeeze lime juice

1 tbsp butter

 

½ cup black beans

1 egg for egg wash

(Yields about 20 medium sized patties)

 

  1. Preheat oven to 420
  2. Butterfly and season chicken breasts (or boneless skinless thighs)
  3. Heat cast iron (or heavy bottom) skillet on medium-medium high, sear chicken on both sides, cook mostly through
  4. Remove from heat
  5. Deglaze pan with ½ cup chicken broth

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  1. Dice onions, slice cabbage, chop peppers, chop cilantro
  2. Set 2 tbsp of red onion to the side
  3. Sautee remaining peppers and onions until softened, season lightly with s&pplantain8
  4. Remove a tbsp of cooked onions and peppers and put in a small bowl
  5. Add cabbage to peppers and onions, add reserved red onion and toss together

 

  1. In the small bowl, mash beans together with the onion and pepper, season with salt and pepper and a squeeze of lime juiceplantain11

 

  1. Set chicken to the side

 

  1. Bring the deglazed pan to a boil, add jerk seasoning, squeeze of lime juice, butter and brown sugar

 

  1. Stir and taste, adjust seasoning if necessary (I added additional clove to pump up the jerk)

 

  1. Chop chicken and add to the jerk sauce, sprinkle a little corn starch and stir, sauce should thicken

plantain13

  1. Toss with cabbage mixture and set aside to cool

 

plantain9plantain10plantain14plantain15plantain16plantain17plantain25

  1. Line two baking sheets with parchment
  2. Flour surface and roll out plantain dough to about 1/8-1/4”
  3. Using a round container (I used the small soup container from Chinese take out)
  4. Place discs on parchment
  5. Assemble:
    1. Flour surface
    1. Gently elongate disc using rolling pin/tool
    1. Black bean mixture, shredded cheese, chicken and cabbage
    1. Fold shut and press to secure
    1. Gently crimp using a fork
    1. Place complete patties on second lined baking sheetplantain21plantain23plantain24plantain26plantain27
  6. Brush finished patties with egg washplantain28plantain29plantain30plantain31
  7. You can freeze on baking sheet then store in a freezer bag
    • Bake from frozen at 400 on lined baking sheet
  8. If serving right away, bake at 420 until golden brown, edges will be crispy
  9. Store in the fridge in an airtight containerplantain32plantain33plantain34plantain35plantain36

 

 

 

 

© 2019 by Alexa Mason. All Rights Reserved

Plantain Dough

plantain2

 

3 ripened plantains

1 green plantain

¾- 1 c flour, extra for dusting

1 egg

2 tsp vegetable oil

Salt

Pepper

 

  1. Bring large pot of salted water to a boil
  2. Chop plantains into thirds or quarters, skin intactplantainplantain18
  3. Boil for 20-30 or fork tender
  4. Remove and allow to cool enough to handleplantain4plantain5
  5. In a food processor, puree everything together except for the flour
  6. A ball should begin to form, add flour a quarter at a time until fully incorporated, no chunksplantain7plantain6
  7. Dough should not be too sticky
  8. Plop onto floured surface, dust dough and knead incorporating flour until the dough doesn’t stick to the surfaceplantain19plantain20
  9. This dough can be used for empanadas/patties or get creative with layers for a lasagna, taco shells, pot pie crust, pizza crust, etc. you name it.
  10. To freeze: Press into disc, wrap tightly with plastic wrap before storing in freezer bag. Allow to thaw completely before using.

plantain21plantain22plantain23plantain28

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

© 2019 by Alexa Mason. All Rights Reserved

 

Strawberry-Raspberry Poptart Cupcakes

I make my son special cupcakes for his birthday each year. When I asked him what he wanted this year he told me he wanted a Poptart cupcakes and I kind of just stared at him. Frankly it just sounded like a lot of work and there was no guarantee that I could pull it off because who the hell has heard of Poptart cupcakes. At first I was going to blow him off and just “you get what you get what” him.

 

But I started playing with the idea.

 

I went to the Google to see if I was on the right track. I was surprised to find that all of the other recipes I saw were….not like this. So I sat down and worked it out and this is what I came up with. I fully intend on doing these again. There are just so many flavor-filling options!

 

We prefer strawberry Poptarts. I decided to pump up the berry by adding raspberry to the mixture. I matched the tangy raspberry with the tart lemon juice. The jam is bright and tart, so it cuts through the sweetness of the other components. The jam would be amazing on a croissant *drool*.

It may look like a lot of work but just break it up into steps. Some things you can make ahead. This is my suggested order:

  1. Cupcake
  2. Jam
  3. Icing
  4. Decorate

 

Ingredients:

Vanilla Cupcakes

For Jam:

1 pint of raspberries

1 cup of roughly chopped strawberries

1/4-1/2  sugar

1/8 c water

1/8 c lemon juice

Tsp lemon zest

 

For Icing:

2 egg whites, room temperature

4+ c confectioner’s sugar, sifted

1 ½ c melted white sugar morsels

½ tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp water, if needed

 

Decorations:

Pieces of poptart

Strawberry jello

Sugar crystals*

 

  1. Prepare the vanilla cupcakes

For the jam:

  1. Combine the liquids and the sugar
  2. Stir until sugar melts
  3. Add berries
  4. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer
  5. Simmer covered until the berries start to break down (you can smush to help it along)
  6. Simmer uncovered, stirring frequently until the liquid begins to evaporate and the mixture thickens (this is called reducing).
  7. Taste and adjust to your preference.
  8. You want a pretty thick, scoop-able consistency but honestly, you just don’t want it watery. Otherwise your sponge will just sop it up and then your filling won’t be much of a filling.
  9. Set aside to cool. (This is an easily adjustable recipe, this was more than enough for 12 cupcakes and breakfast toast the next day.)

For the icing:

  1. While the cupcakes are cooling, melt the white chocolate over a double boiler
  2. Set aside to cool
  3. In your stand mixer, use the whisk attachment to beat the whites until they’re fluffy
  4. Add vanilla extract
  5. Slowly incorporate some of the powdered sugar
  6. Mix in the white chocolate
  7. Continue adding the sugar
    1. Here is where I hiccupped, my icing was way drippier than I wanted. Add as much sugar as you need to achieve a thick-spread that won’t drip down a bunch.
  8. Prepare your decorations
    1. I could not find crystal sprinkles so I made colored sugar*
  9. Poke your finger or a cylindrical tool deep into the cupcakes to form a divot. You don’t want to poke through the cake
  10. Fill the divots with the cooled jam
  11. Spread the thick icing on top
  12. Stick in poptart pieces
  13. Sprinkle with sprinkles or sugar and strawberry jello

 

Happy 8th Birthday, kid.

 

© 2019 by Alexa Mason. All Rights Reserved

Simple Vanilla Cupcake

This is my go to vanilla cupcake recipe. Because it’s such a perfect vehicle, I use this as the base for 90% of my cupcakes.

I don’t generally like a super sweet sponge because usually I am loading it up with buttercream, chocolate or fillings. So I often opt to use less sugar. If you enjoy a sweeter cupcake then I suggest 1 to 1 1/2 cups of sugar. Some recipes call for milk or cream, however, I substitute sour cream. This yields a moister cake. That’s a 1:1 ratio. So if you prefer to use milk or cream or if that’s all you have, just remember it’s a direct conversion

bcn2

Simple Vanilla

 

 

screen-shot-2016-09-08-at-9-54-02-pm

Blackberry Vanilla Cupcakes

 

 

 

 

Ingredients:

1⅓ cups AP flour

1 tsp baking powder

¼ tsp salt

1 stick (1/2 c) unsalted butter, softened

3/4 granulated sugar

2 eggs, room temperature

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

½ cup light sour cream

bc5

 

Instructions:

Preheat your oven to 350F

Line muffin tin with cupcake liners.

In a bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt.

Using your paddle attachment and your stand mixer, cream (beat together) the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy.

Scrape the bowl as necessary.

Add eggs one at a time. Make sure the first is fully incorporated before adding the next.

Add vanilla extract and beat until combined.

Turn the mixer down to slow.

Add half of the dry ingredients

Add sour cream

Add remaining dry ingredients

Be careful not to overmix the batter but be sure that everything is well incorporated.

Divide the batter into the tins. This is enough for 12 decent size cupcakes.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, toothpick check and cool on a wire rack.

bc8

Simple Vanilla Cheesecake Filling

This can absolutely be used for a traditional cheesecake with a graham cracker or cookie crust. I’m posting this separate from my other ‘cheesecake’ recipes so it’s less confusing to figure out how to recreate the filling.

I’ve used this recipe for the Strawberry Shortcake Cheesecake, Red Velvet Cheesecake and the Red Velvet White Chocolate Cheesecake.

Ingredients:

2-8oz cream cheese, room temp

1 C sugar

3 tbsp sour cream, room temp

½ tbsp. vanilla extract

2 eggs

½ tbsp. corn starch

1/8 tsp salt

ss15rv9rv11

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees
  2. In the bowl of your mixer, whip the softened cream cheese.
  3. Add the sour cream
  4. Add the sugar and vanilla
  5. Add the corn starch
  6. Add the eggs one at a time
  7. Scrape down the sides, mix until combined
    1. You don’t want to see any large flecks of cream cheese, small specks are okay.
  8. Cut a circle large enough to fit into the bottom of a 9” cake pan
  9. Spray with cooking spray, place parchment
  10. Pour cheesecake mixture into the pan, gently tap the pan on your counter to release any bubbles
  11. Bake for roughly an hour
    1. The cheesecake will be slightly jiggly in the center, a tad firmer towards the edges
    2. This cheesecake is a filling so some browning and cracks are fine. No one is going to see this. This is basically sacrilegious for traditional cheesecake, I know, but trust me.
  12. Allow the cheesecake to cool
  13. Cover with plastic wrap and allow cheesecake to set in the fridge for at least 4 hours, or overnight preferably

 

 

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© 2019 by Alexa Mason. All Rights Reserved