Monday, April 1, 2019

Favorite Recipes of the Last Decade (Most Viewed)


This is a big week at Elena Cooking - it was ten years ago this week that I started this little blog, so I am celebrating TEN YEARS of posting great recipes! This week, we'll look back on some of the favorite recipes of the last decade, as determined by me and by others. Today, I want to highlight the most viewed recipes on the blog - the ones that readers have looked at over and over and over again! What is fascinating to me is that there's a great mix of main dishes, desserts, bread, and even a salad! Even more fascinating is the post that has been viewed the most times -- more than twice as many times as any other post, and it's not even a recipe, it's a how-to! You'll have to scroll to the bottom to see it.

Stay tuned this week for my favorite recipe from each year (both main dishes and others...), and recipes from the last ten years that deserve another look!

So, now without delay, and without foolin' (but, Happy April Fool's to you!) is the list of the most viewed recipes on Elena Cooking.

Apple Pie Muffins


Some of the best recipes come out of the necessity of invention and this one is no different. It also shows that once you learn some basic skills and basic recipes, you have a lot of options in your arsenal.

Pumpkin Waffles


We eat a lot of waffles at our house, and so I like to change it up once in a while. These pumpkin waffles are perfect for fall, or for anytime, really.

Banana Blueberry Coffeecake


I am grateful to the person who came up with the idea for coffeecake - cake for breakfast, but it sounds more reasonable when you put "coffee" in front of it! I have lots of varieties of coffeecake on the blog, and this one is the most popular. And I'm not surprised; I love the combo of banana and blueberries, and the streusel topping just takes it over the top.

Oriental Coleslaw


If you've never made this salad, you should drop everything and go get the ingredients right now. It couldn't be easier, and it's SO good. My kids request this every summer, and it makes the perfect accompaniment to anything that comes off the grill, even fish!

Spanakopita Bites


Of all the appetizers on my blog, this is the most viewed one; in fact, it's the most viewed of nearly every category of recipe, so I'm not the only one who loves Greek food! Spinach and cheese nestled inside flaky phyllo is a sure winner. These melt in your mouth, and are beautiful on the plate, too!

Caramel Banana Crepes


I went through quite a crepe phase in 2011 and this was another example of learning a basic technique and then changing up the ingredients. Caramel and banana is a great combination (I have several other recipes on the blog with both caramel and banana) and crepes are a great vehicle for fruit and sauce!

Chocolate Cherry Cake


My mom made this cake often when I was growing up, so it's always been a family favorite. It couldn't be easier - it uses a box mix and a can of pie filling - and it has the most delectable frosting. Now, my family loves it too, and I hope many others have made it and adopted it for their "family cake."

Chicken with Zucchini and Mushrooms


This is my favorite dish to get at food court Chinese restaurants, so I was glad to see how easy it was to make at home!

Chicken, Bacon and Avocado Quesadillas


Quesadillas are always a hit at our house, and this combination of ingredients makes them especially pleasing.

Shrimp and Asparagus Risotto


When I discovered how wonderfully risotto turns out in the Instant Pot, my life was forever changed. And I am not exaggerating. I love risotto; this version is probably my favorite but I have many recipes on the blog because again, it's so versatile! And with the IP, you don't have to stand over it and stir. Instead, you can sit on the couch and drink wine, or do push ups, or whatever your heart desires.

Pork Chops in Mushroom Gravy


The Instant Pot has become a very popular appliance in the last couple of years, and that has led to these two recipes being included in the "most viewed" category. Pork chops turn out beautifully in the IP; I have had a hard time getting this cut of meat to "behave" either on the stove top, the grill or in the oven, but in the IP, they are fork tender and scrumptious. If you don't like mushrooms, just leave them out of this recipe!

Crockpot Chicken Marsala


The crockpot is another "dinner saving" appliance! This recipe turns a more labor intensive dish into one that just cooks while you're doing other things, and still is just as company-worthy.

Cook Wild Rice in the Crockpot


Well, folks, here you have it: the most viewed post on my blog is How to Cook Wild Rice in the Crockpot. Can you believe that? Well, maybe it's a novel concept but it's a great idea: the rice cooks evenly, you don't have to watch it, it all "bursts" as it's supposed to, and it doesn't make your house quite as odiferous as the stove top method.

It's been fun to look back on these most-viewed recipes of the past ten years, and I hope you found some new inspiration for your cooking and baking.

Get more great ideas at Hearth and Soul, Inspiration Monday, Busy Monday, Inspire Me.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Twice Baked Potatoes


I know it sounds silly, but twice baked potatoes are one thing that I have never tried to make. And even worse, I buy them from the grocery meat counter regularly because I enjoy eating them so much! So I figured it was high time I figured them out. They do take a little planning, cause they are a little time-intensive, so this isn't something to make when you need dinner on the table in 30 minutes. However, if you can plan ahead, these are a great accompaniment to roasted meat, ham or steak, and would actually be a totally great vegetarian meal if you alter the toppings.


I love baking potatoes in my air fryer, so that's what I used to prep that potatoes. If you don't have an air fryer, you can, of course, use the oven. I know the microwave is also an option, and that may be a way to speed up this process but I do like the way potatoes turn out when they're baked in the oven versus the microwave. But, totally personal preference, so do what you like best!


The other great aspect of this side (or main!) dish is that you can top them, or mix in, what you like - we like cheese, or cheese and bacon, but you could do any variety of cheese, a combination of cheeses, chives, onions, etc. This "recipe" is really just a guide - and the best part is trying all different combos!

Find a lot more great ideas at Hearth and Soul, Inspire Me, Inspiration Monday, Busy Monday.

Twice Baked Potatoes

4-5 medium baking potatoes
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup milk
1 cup shredded cheddar or colby jack cheese
1/4 cup chopped, cooked bacon (optional)
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions

Scrub potatoes and pat dry. Rub potatoes with a light coating of canola oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Bake at 400 for 40 minutes or until potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork. (If you're baking them in the air fryer, you'll need to turn them over half way through the cooking time.)

Let the potatoes cool slightly, and then cut in half lengthwise. Carefully scoop out the pulp and place it in a bowl. Leave a small layer of potato still in the shell to provide stability. Once all the pulp is in the bowl, mash it up with a fork, then add the sour cream, milk, 1/2 cup of cheese, bacon and green onion, or whatever toppings/fillings you're using. Mix well.

Fill the potato shells with this mixture, mounding the mashed potatoes slightly over the shells. Place filled shells on a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top of the potatoes. Broil the potatoes for 2-3 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Serves 4-8 (Depending on if each person eats a half or full potato!)



Monday, February 25, 2019

Drunken Noodles with Shrimp and Chicken


Everyone in my family loves noodle based dishes. So I work hard to find a variety, and especially ones that include plenty of vegetables. This recipe was just the ticket.


I added two kinds of protein to the typical "drunken noodles" and several varieties of vegetables. I used our favorites: broccoli, peppers and mushrooms, but you could use your favorites - zucchini, asparagus and bok choy would all be delicious.


This is a great weeknight dinner that comes together quickly - and only dirties one pot! Make yourself some drunken noodles tonight!

Drunken Noodles with Shrimp and Chicken

1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. freshly grated ginger
1/4 c. sliced green onions
1 bell pepper, thinly sliced into strips
1 cup sliced mushrooms
2 cups broccoli florets
1/2 pound chicken breast, cut into thin pieces
8 ounces medium cooked shrimp
8 oz. cooked rice or udon noodles
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 Tbsp. chili garlic sauce
1 tsp. lime zest

Make sauce: Whisk together soy sauce, brown sugar, Sriracha, and lime zest.

In a large skillet over medium heat, heat oil. Add garlic and ginger and stir until fragrant, 1 minute, then add chicken. Stir and cook until chicken is cooked through, about 3 minutes. Remove chicken to a bowl. Heat the skillet again, then add green onions. Cook until softened, 2 minutes. Add peppers, broccoli and mushrooms and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add noodles and toss until completely combined.

Pour sauce over noodles and and toss until combined. Adc in the cooked chicken and shrimp and stir until combined. Garnish with fresh basil and lime wedges, if you like. Makes 4 servings.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Mango Chicken Curry


I love Thai food, and I especially love being able to make great restaurant-worthy dishes at home. This is one of them.

I especially love when I find a recipe that meets my weeknight trifecta: fast, easy and delicious. This is one of them.

There's so much to love here!


This is such a great curry dish. It's so convenient to whirr the sauce together in the blender and then add it to the stir fry. The extra flavor burst from the mango just takes this over the top. We enjoyed it served over rice (and cauli rice!) with stir fried green beans. I hope you love it as much as we do.


Mango Chicken Curry

Sauce:
1 can light or regular coconut milk
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 large mango, peeled and pit removed
1 Tbsp. fish sauce
1 Tbsp. cornstarch

Chicken:
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp. grated ginger or ginger paste
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
1 Tbsp. red curry paste
1 Tbsp. curry powder
1/4 tsp. salt and dash of pepper
Fresh cilantro, for garnish

For the sauce, in a blender, combine all the ingredients and process until smooth. Set aside.

For the chicken, in a large, nonstick skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the onion, garlic, and ginger. Cook until the onion softens, 2-3 minutes.
Add the chicken pieces dry to the skillet. Cook, stirring often, until the chicken turns white on all sides but isn't cooked through all the way, 1-2 minutes.

Add the curry paste, curry powder, salt and pepper, and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture is fragrant, 1-2 minutes.

Add the sauce mixture and stir well. Bring to a simmer, stirring often to make sure the curry paste and curry powder are fully dissolved. Simmer for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally and adjusting the heat to prevent burning, until the sauce has thickened slightly.

Serve on rice with cilantro to garnish, if you wish. Makes 6 servings.

Recipe Source: Adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

Monday, February 11, 2019

Red Velvet Marble Bundt Cake


So here we have a Valentine's Day dessert obviously displayed on a Christmas plate. Hmmm. Well, the easiest explanation is that I made this at Christmas, but also think it's a wonderful cake for Valentine's, with the beautiful red swirl. It's the easiest and the most true. So don't mind the Christmas plate - just look at the cake.

This is a wonderfully rich cake with swirls of red velvet in the vanilla batter. It doesn't need a frosting or any kind of icing - it's divine just on its own.

So, whether you make it this week for Valentine's, or pin this recipe and save it for Christmas, it doesn't matter. Any holiday that needs an infusion of red and deliciousness is the right holiday for this cake.


Red Velvet Marble Bundt Cake

3 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup butter, softened
2 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
1 Tbsp. vanilla
5 eggs
1/2 cup milk

RED VELVET SWIRL
1/3 cup cocoa powder
5 Tbsp. milk
1 Tbsp. red food color

In a medium bowl, whisk together cake flour, baking powder, and salt.

In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat together butter, sugar, and sour cream until well-combined. Stir in vanilla. Add eggs one at time, mixing well after each addition. On low, stir in flour mixture until just incorporated. Stir in milk.

In a separate large bowl, stir together 2 ½ cups of the batter, cocoa powder, milk, and red food coloring.

Using a 1/4-cup measuring cup, drop two scoops of plain batter into a greased and floured bundt pan. Drop one scoop of red velvet swirl batter on top of plain batter. Continue to alternate between plain and red velvet swirl batters until both batters are gone.

Bake at 350 for 50-60 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool cake in the pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Invert the cake onto wire rack, and cool completely.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Mexican Street Corn Chowder


Well, we barely survived the Polar Vortex 2019... just kidding, we survived just fine. But here in Minnesota, we're expecting more snow and cold temps again this week. Time to make soup! We love soups that have Mexican flavors, and so when I saw this one, I knew I wanted to try it. It's similar to the chicken tortilla soups I've made, but you can never have too many Mexican soups in your repertoire, in my opinion.


I actually served this with chips and guacamole, but you could also add all kinds of fun toppings right to your soup: avocados, cilantro, sour cream, salsa, etc.!

I especially like soups that can cook in the crock pot, making meal planning a breeze, and making your house smell heavenly when you walk in after work! I also love how easy and convenient soup leftovers are to take for lunch on the next day.


Stay warm out there, and eat plenty of soup!


Mexican Street Corn Chowder

1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut in half
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups chicken broth
2 cans cream style corn
1 can fire-roasted corn, drained (or regular canned corn)
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can fire-roasted diced green chiles
2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. paprika
1 1/4 tsp. cumin
2 cups shredded Colby Jack Cheese (or Mexican cheese)
1 cups half and half
Optional toppings: fresh lime, fresh cilantro, diced onion, hot sauce, sour cream, avocado

Spray a large crockpot (I use a 6 quart crockpot) with nonstick spray.

Add the chicken, garlic, broth, creamed corn, fire-roasted corn, black beans, diced green chiles, chili powder, paprika, and cumin to the crockpot.

Stir well. Cover and cook on high for 3-5 hours or low for 4-6 hours or until the chicken shreds easily.

Remove the chicken and shred.

Return the shredded chicken, and add the cheese and half and half. Stir well to incorporate all the cheese and cream. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Makes 8 servings

Monday, January 21, 2019

Soy and Honey Glazed Cod


Here's a super healthy and delicious dinner for the New Year. Cod is a mild white fish that will absorb the flavors that you use with it. Here, it gets a little sweet/savory treatment that is reminiscent of Japanese or other Asian flavors.

In this recipe, the cod is broiled, so it is ready in a flash, and the broiling also creates the nice crust from the honey. It does need a few minutes to marinate, or a few hours if you've planned ahead, but then dinner will be ready in a snap.


I served this over a chopped Asian salad, the kind in a bag with the almonds and wonton strips... it was super easy to throw this together while the fish cooked, and the crunchy salad paired really well with the soft fish. I would even dare to call it restaurant worthy!

I hope your family enjoys it as much as we did.


Find more inspiration at Hearth and Soul, Inspiration Monday, Busy Monday, Inspire Me.


Soy and Honey Glazed Cod

1 pound Alaska cod
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 1/2 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 tsp. honey
2 tsp. sesame oil
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Combine the lemon juice, soy sauce, honey, oil, ginger and red pepper flakes in a measuring cup and whisk well. Place the fish in a small dish and cover with the marinade. Turn the fish over to coat all sides. Let stand 10-15 minutes to marinate, or if you have planned ahead, marinate the cod for up to 4 hours in the refrigerator. (If you keep the fish in the fridge, let it come to room temp for about 15 minutes prior to baking.)

Set broiler temperature to high; move oven rack to 7 inches below the broiler element. Grease a small baking sheet, and add the cod, pouring the marinade over the top.

Cook just until cod is opaque throughout, about 5-8 minutes. (Time will vary depending on the thickness of your fish pieces.)

Serve over Asian chopped salad, or with rice and fresh steamed vegetables.

Recipe Source: Adapted from Michelle Dudash
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