Meet the Sullivans: April 2011

April 28, 2011

Chicken Avocado Wraps

Whenever we go to Disneyland or Anaheim we make it a priority to have lunch or dinner at ESPN Zone. Besides Keith's obvious reasons for loving the place (the overall sports related decor + televisions playing sports games on every surface of the place), we also like it for the food. This Chicken Avocado Wrap is just one of quite a few things we like off their menu.

Chicken Avocado Wraps
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1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 avocado, chopped
1/8 c. chipotle mayonnaise (I used Kraft)
2 c. shredded lettuce
1/2 c. tomato, seeded and chopped
1/8 c. mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/8 c. cheddar cheese, shredded
1/8 c. ranch dressing
flour tortillas / wraps

 Chop the avocado (remember to pour a little lemon juice on the avocado to keep it fresh) and tomato.

 Add both cheeses, a handful of lettuce and 1/8 ranch dressing and toss.

I just wanted to share with you one of the few things I buy frozen: Alexia Sweet Potato fries. We love sweet potato fries, but chopping them up into strips and then baking them is so time consuming. We like these for the many reasons you can read right off the package!

Spread some chipotle mayo on each of the tortillas.

Slice the chicken breast. I cooked ours on the stove after coating them with Panko, but you can also grill the chicken. 

Top with the lettuce mixture, then chicken. Roll up the wrap like a burrito, secure with toothpicks and slice in half at an angle.

We really loved this, and we'll definitely make it again. It was so close to what we've had at ESPN Zone. Enjoy!

April 27, 2011

Double-Caramel Turtle Cake

You know how sometimes you just feel like baking a cake? Okay, well, maybe it's just me then. I have so much time this week because I'm on Easter vacation--and last night I got the urge to bake a cake, so I posted on my Facebook page "I want to bake a cake. Any suggestions for what kind?" and the majority said CHOCOLATE, and so now I give you an amazing chocolate cake...

Double-Caramel Turtle Cake
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Cooking spray
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups boiling water
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
6 tablespoons butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour (7 1/2 ounces)
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Frosting: (I doubled the frosting recipe and gave it a splash of Godiva Chocolate liqueur)
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 to 3 tablespoons fat-free milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups sifted powdered sugar

2/3 cup fat-free caramel apple dip (such as T. Marzetti's)
1/4 cup finely chopped pecans, toasted

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. To prepare cake, coat bottoms of 2 (8-inch) round cake pans with cooking spray (do not coat sides of pans); line bottoms with wax paper. Coat wax paper with cooking spray; dust with 1 tablespoon flour.
  3. Combine boiling water and cocoa, stirring well with a whisk. Cool completely.
  4. Place granulated sugar, 6 tablespoons butter, and vanilla in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended (about 5 minutes). Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Lightly spoon 1 2/3 cups flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine 1 2/3 cups flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt, stirring well with a whisk. Add flour mixture and cocoa mixture alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture.
  5. Pour batter into prepared pans; sharply tap pans once on counter to remove air bubbles. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pans. Cool completely on wire rack.
  6. To prepare frosting, melt 2 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add brown sugar and 2 tablespoons milk; cook 1 minute or until sugar melts. Remove from heat; cool slightly. Combine butter mixture and 2 teaspoons vanilla in a large bowl. Gradually add powdered sugar; beat with a mixer at medium speed until smooth. Add additional milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, beating until spreading consistency.
  7. Place 1 cake layer on a plate; spread top with half of frosting. Place caramel dip in a small zip-top plastic bag. Snip a small hole in 1 corner of bag; drizzle half of caramel dip over frosting. Top with other cake layer. Spread remaining frosting over top of cake; drizzle with remaining caramel dip. Sprinkle with pecans.
 A few more cake glam shots: 

Keith and I give it 5 stars. The reviews online were great too, so you know it's not just me saying I love it! It is a very rich cake, so you might want to have some vanilla ice cream on hand to balance out the flavors. Enjoy!

April 26, 2011

Spring Good Reads

I totally failed at blogging about Black Heels to Tractor Wheels as I read it--sorry about that. Well, I'd like to share with you the books I'll be reading this Spring.
Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo and Lynn Vincent- Keith's brother recommended this book to him and I have been seeing it at Target and Barnes & Noble for a few weeks now. I have to say, since my dad passed away in January I've spent a lot of time thinking about heaven, so this book feels so important and special--like a little peak inside. I downloaded the sample chapter on my iPhone and I immediately ran to Barnes & Noble to buy the whole book--it was that good. I look forward to reading it soon, after these...

Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin- So much drama! I saw the preview for the movie that was inspired by this book a few weeks ago when we went to see Source Code. For some reason I always have to read the book before I see the movie. Right now, I can barely put this book down. I'm on chapter twenty and I'm desperately wondering how Rachel is ever going to survive this or live with her self. Keith picked me up a copy of the 'sequel' Something Blue yesterday when we were out and I'm definitely going to dive right in after finishing Borrowed.

Bossypants by Tina Fey- I am a big fan of Tina Fey. She is so brilliantly hilarious. I adore her show 30 Rock and still enjoy re-watching Mean Girls. I bought her book on the Sunday after it came out and sped through. She is just as funny on those pages as she is on her show and on SNL. There was a part of the book where she gives 'tips' on how new mom's can steal back some "me time"--I was literally crying-laughing as I read it on the couch next to Keith who was wondering if I was insane.

What are you reading?

April 25, 2011

Happy Easter 2011!

We had a really nice Easter! We started the morning by doing our own little Easter egg hunt at our place. Keith is so wonderful, he packed up my basket full of magazines, granola bars, sugar free gum and chap stick (all the things I love the most). I on the other hand packed his with sugary sweets, most of which contained chocolate and peanut year I'll try to remember to be more healthy conscious! 

 We went to an early service with Keith's mom, sister Kelly and her family, sister Teri and her family and my mom and sister--needless to say, but we took up a whole pew! After mass we all headed over to Keith's mom's house for coffee and brunch. After having brunch some of the adults hid the Easter eggs for the egg hunt. We had to have the hunt inside this year because it was a cold rainy day here--but everyone still had a blast!

 Seven out of nine of our nieces and nephews right before the egg hunt!

 The kids sorting all their loot!

There was some serious categorizing going on. Some eggs even hand dollar bills in them!

 Me, my sister-in-law Kelly and her son Nick.
 Sister-in-law Teri with mother-in-law Barbara.

After brunch with the Sullivan clan we came home to prep some stuff to bring to my grandpa's for Easter dinner. 

 I made a pasta salad and these delicious and adorable cupcakes! I blogged about the recipe here.

The view from my grandpa's. He lives on a hill that over looks the peninsula, and you can even see across the bay on a clear day.

Beautiful spring blooms in the front yard! My grandma (who passed away 5 years ago) took great pride in her garden.

Happy Easter! Love, Colleen and Keith

Easter Dessert: Yellow Cupcakes with Frosting

I book marked this Martha Stewart recipe way back in March when I was click around on her website attempting to quell my desire for some kind of baked good with frosting. I was in charge of dessert for Easter dinner this year and I thought cupcakes would be the perfect size to satisfy a sweet tooth after dinner. Everyone enjoyed them and we even had enough for everyone to take some home for later.  
Yellow Cupcakes with Frosting
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For the Cupcakes
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
Sprinkles, for decorating

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees; line the cups of a standard (12-cup) muffin tin with paper or foil liners. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In a liquid-measuring cup, mix milk and vanilla; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. With mixer on low speed, add half of dry ingredients, followed by milk-vanilla mixture, then remaining dry ingredients. Do not overmix.
  3. Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups (a 2-ounce or 1/4-cup ice-cream scoop is good for this).
  4. Place tin on a rimmed baking sheet; bake until a toothpick inserted in center of a cupcake comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool cupcakes 5 minutes in tin, then remove and cool completely on a rack before frosting.
  5. Prepare frosting: In a medium bowl, with an electric mixer, beat butter, confectioners' sugar, milk, and vanilla extract until smooth. Mix in up to 1/2 cup more sugar or a few more teaspoons of milk as necessary to achieve a spreadable consistency. Makes enough for 12 cupcakes. To make the chocolate frosting I just tossed 1 ½ tablespoon cocoa powder into the mixer.
  6. Frost cupcakes; decorate with sprinkles before frosting dries to ensure that they stick. The frosted cupcakes are best eaten within 1 day.
Some more cupcake glamour shots for your viewing pleasure!

In my opinion, half the "taste" of a cupcakes is attributed to how cute they are!

Menu Monday 4/25

We had a great time with both of our families yesterday for Easter and I'm off work this week for Easter vacation--yay!!! Here is what I have planned in the kitchen (so far):

Deconstructed Strawberry Shortcakes- This recipe is from the Barefoot Contessa How Easy is That? cookbook. Don't they look divine? I'm excited to put these pretty things together and give them a try.

Chicken Breasts with Tomatoes and Olives- An easy, healthy, fresh dish to throw together after my final exam on Tuesday evening. This recipe is from Cooking Light's Best Recipes 2010.

Chicken Avocado Wrap- This is inspired by an ESPN Zone wrap I always like to order when we're in Anaheim. It should be easy and tasty. I'll be baking Alexia's Sweet Potato fries to serve on the side--have you tried them? I buy them whenever I see them in stock (in the freezer section), because they sell out quick.  

Mediterranean Pasta Salad- I made this pasta salad to bring to Easter dinner with my family last night. It was great!

April 22, 2011

Zucchini Bread with Citrus Glaze

Every month the Food Network Magazine does a special article called Mix & Match where they show you different ways to customize your favorite foods. In the May 2011 issue they did Mix & match Quick Breads, which provided me with so many different options, so I had a really hard time deciding which one to make first. I settled on the zucchini bread and threw in raisins and topped it with their citrus glaze for good measure. It turned out fantastic! I'm looking forward to making a few more combo's soon--especially the Banana Bread with Chocolate Chips and Chocolate Glaze (yum)!

Zucchini Bread
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1 cup zucchini, shredded and squeezed dry
1 cup raisins
1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup plain yogurt or sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon citrus zest

For the glaze:
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon milk
1 tablespoon citrus juice
1 teaspoon citrus zest

Mix 11/4 cups whole wheat flour, 3/4 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon each baking powder and salt, and 1.2 teaspoon each baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg in a large bowl; add your dry mix-ins. In a medium bowl, whisk 2 eggs, 1/2 cup vegetable oil, 1/2 cup yogurt, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and 1 teaspoon citrus zest. Stir your zucchini into the egg mixture, then fold into the dry misture until just combined.

Spread the batter in the prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 55 minutes for a standard loaf, 35 to 40 minutes for mini loaves. Cool for 30 minutes in the pan on a rack, then turn out onto the rack to cool completely.

Next prepare the glaze: Whisk 1 cup confectioners' sugar, 1 tablespoon each milk, and citrus juice, and 1 teaspoon citrus zest. Pour onto cooled bread. Let the glaze stand 15 to 20 minutes.
Creating my own combination was so much fun, and delicious! You can expect to see many more Mix & Match creations on our blog.

Chicken Mini Empanadas

This is a Sandra Lee recipe I pulled out of the Food Network magazine a few months ago. I whipped them up to bring to our friends Allison and Jordan's house for a potluck last weekend. We really liked these empanadas. I made one alteration to the original recipe (that was recommended in the reviews on the Food Network)--I added a little cream cheese to moisten the filling a little more. I would definitely make these again!

Mini Chicken Empanadas
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2 11-ounce packages pie dough mix
1 9.75-ounce can white chicken meat, drained, or 1 1/2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
1 cup chunky salsa
1 3-ounce can sliced ripe olives
1 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend
1/4 cup cream cheese.
All-purpose flour, for dusting

Prepare the pie dough according to the package directions for a double-crust pie. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill. I used refrigerated pre-rolled pie crusts--keep them in the fridge until you need to roll them out.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. In a medium saucepan, combine the chicken, salsa and olives. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer 5 minutes. Stir in cream cheese.

Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese. Cool slightly.

On a flour-dusted surface, roll out the dough to inch thick. Using a 3-inch-round cutter, cut out 36 circles, rerolling the scraps as needed.

Place about 1 tablespoon chicken mixture in the center of each circle. Moisten the edges with water.

Fold the circles in half,

and pinch to seal.

Pierce the tops with a fork.
Place the empanadas on a baking sheet and bake 15 minutes, or until golden. Serve hot!


April 20, 2011

Mexican Fiesta Salad Pizza

This Pampered Chef recipe was great! We love tacos, and this is basically a taco on a crescent roll--great combo, if you ask me!

Mexican Fiesta Salad Pizza 
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2 8 oz. packages Crescent roll
1 ¾ pounds lean ground turkey 
1 ¾ cups chunky salsa 
1 envelope taco seasoning 
1 clove garlic, pressed 
1 cup sour cream 
2 cups thinly sliced lettuce 
2 plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped 
2 green onions with tops, thinly sliced 
½ cup shredded cheddar cheese 
¼ cup pitted ripe olives, coarsely chopped 
Additional salsa (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C). Unroll crescent dough; separate into 16 triangles.
  2. Arrange 14 of the triangles in a circle on lightly floured round baking stone with wide ends even with edge of baking stone and points toward the center. Place the remaining two triangles in the center, pinching seams to seal. Roll dough to create a smooth surface. Bake 15-18 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven; cool completely.
  3. In (12-in./30 cm) Skillet, cook ground turkey over medium heat 10-12 minutes or until no longer pink, breaking turkey into crumbles using; drain if necessary. 
  4. Combine salsa, seasoning mix and garlic in medium bowl; mix well. Add to turkey in Skillet; toss to coat. Spread sour cream over crust. Spoon turkey mixture over sour cream. Top with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, cheese and olives. Serve immediately with additional salsa, if desired.  

    April 18, 2011

    Menu Monday 4/18

    Hello, Monday! I'm happy to say this is going to be a short week at work for me--only 3 1/2 days! And then a 10-day Easter break after that. Here is what I have planned in the kitchen this week:
    Chicken-Peanut Chow Mein- A healthier version than the one we've ordered from the Chinese place across the street from us. I'm sure it will be a recipe I'll make again, and again.

    Mexican Fiesta Salad Pizza- This is a Pampered Chef recipe I stumbled upon last week and hit "bookmark" right after reading through the recipe. Its a pizza that's also a taco, could anything be any better? Yum! Photo courtesy of Live, Laugh, Love, EAT!!!

    Mix & Match Quick Bread- In May 2011 Food Network Magazine (if you're a foodie or like to cook like me you must subscribe to this magazine) the Mix & Match article this month is for Quick Breads. There are so many fun combos and possibilities offered I can't decide which one to make: the traditional Banana Bread; comforting Carrot Bread; or the all American Apple Bread? Guess you'll have to wait and see which we choose...

    Buffalo Chicken Salad- I asked Keith what kind of salad I should add to our menu this week and inevitably he suggested this salad, what can I say? He loves man food. I'm happy to make this one!

    Also, I've updated last week's Menu Monday with reviews and all that good stuff to let you know how it all turned out.

    Have a great week!

    April 17, 2011

    Risotto with Spring Vegetables

    This is a really great risotto. Absolutely worth all the prep and attention it requires. I made some substitutions based on what was available at my grocery store and what was more cost efficient. 
    Risotto with Spring Vegetables

    2 cups frozen edamame
    1/2 cup fresh green peas
    4 cups chicken stock
    2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    1 cup chopped shallots
    1/2 cup chopped carrot
    1 cup uncooked Arborio rice 
    1/2 cup white wine
    8 ounces thin asparagus, cut into 2-inch pieces
    1 cup (4 ounces) grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
    1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

    1. Prep and chop all of your ingredients before you get started with the cooking. I like to have all my stuff ready to go within grabbing distance.
    {From left to right: 1/2 cup white wine, chopped shallots and carrots, chicken stock, chopped asparagus and frozen edamame, and arborio rice}

    2. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat.

    3. Add shallots and carrot to pan; cook 4 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally.
    4. Add rice; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.

    5. Stir in wine; cook 30 seconds or until the liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly.

    6. Add 1 cup stock; cook 4 minutes or until liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Add remaining stock, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion of stock is absorbed before adding the next (about 25 minutes total). 

    7. Sometime before the last 1 cup of stock I added the asparagus and edamame.

    8. When it looks like this it's ready to be removed.

    9. Remove from heat; stir in cheese, parsley, salt, and pepper. The cheese is really what puts it over the top.

    10. Done! Now, enjoy!

    We had it with some Citrus Glazed Salmon--great combo.

    PS. I love my Dutch oven--its Amazing.