Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Caramel Sticky Rolls

Holy goodness. Eat these.  Now.  NOW!  I love cinnamon rolls as much as the next person, but this is a welcome variation.  Also, it is one of those miracles of chemistry that is baking because a little bit of butter and brown sugar turn into an amazing caramel that douses these buns in very sticky and amazing goodness.

I made these to surprise my husband when he came home from work one morning.  His response was, "Great.  I'm going to get fat."  In my opinion, a few extra pounds so that you can eat these rolls is totally something you can live with.  And he did.  And he was grateful.

Sticky Pecan Caramel Rolls

1 1/2 pounds of bread dough (It would be too laborious for me to go over the whole method of bread making in this book, but it is wonderful.  You should definitely check the book out from your library.  I used the Challah dough from this same book to make these rolls.)

Caramel Topping
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
30 pecan halves (I omitted these)

The Filling
4 tablespoons salted butter, softened (I used unsalted.  You can just add a little salt.)
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup chopped and toasted pecans (I omitted these)
Pinch of ground black pepper (I omitted this too.  I don't remember this being on the ingredient list.  I think I might try it next time.)

Cream together the butter, salt, and brown sugar.  Spread evenly over the bottom of a 9-inch round cake pan.  Scatter the pecans over the butter-sugar mixture and set aside.
Roll out the dough to a 1/8-inch thick rectangle on a lightly foured surface.
Cream together the butter, sugar, and spices.  Spread evenly over the rolled-out dough and sprinkle with the chopped nuts.  Starting with the long side, roll the dough into a log.  With a very sharp serrated knife, cut the log into 8 equal pieces and arrange over the pecans in the pan, with the swirled edge facing upward.  Cover loosely and allow to rest and rise 1 hour (or just 40 minutes if you're using fresh, unrefrigerated dough).
5 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 350.  Bake about 40 minutes, or until golden brown and well set in the center.  While still hot, run a knife around the inside of the pan to release the rolls, and invert immediately onto a serving dish.  If you let them set too long they will stick to the pan and be difficult to turn out.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Swedish Meatballs

Wow.  It has been 3 weeks since I've posted a recipe.  Don't worry, this one will make up for it.  These meatballs were so tender and delicious.  It was so hard to not lick the plate clean.  They are better than the IKEA version if you've ever had them.  Serve these babies over egg noodles for a sensational meal.

Swedish Meatballs

Meatballs:
1 large egg
1/4 cup half & half or heavy cream
2 medium sized dinner rolls, torn into small pieces
1 pound ground turkey
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
Vegetable oil for frying (optional) - see tip below

Sauce:
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon unbleached all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups low sodium beef broth
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup half & half or heavy cream
2 teaspoons juice from 1 lemon

For the Meatballs:
Whisk egg and cream together in medium bowl. Stir in bread and set aside.
Meanwhile, in a bowl mix together the turkey, nutmeg, allspice, pepper, brown sugar, salt, and baking powder with clean hands.  Using fork, mash bread mixture until no large dry bread chunks remain; add mixture to the meat mixture and blend with hands until just incorporated.  (When mixing meat, try to handle it as little as possible.)
Using a small or medium ice cream scoop, form meatballs with wet hands and set aside; repeat with remaining mixture to form 25 to 30 meatballs.
Heat oil in 10-inch straight-sided sauté pan over medium-high heat until edge of meatball dipped in oil sizzles (oil should register 350 degrees on instant-read thermometer), 3 to 5 minutes. Add meatballs in single layer and fry, flipping once halfway through cooking, until lightly browned all over and cooked through, 7 to 10 minutes. (Adjust heat as needed to keep oil sizzling but not smoking.) Using slotted spoon, transfer browned meatballs to paper towel-lined plate.
Tip: rather than frying your meatballs, use a mini muffin pan and bake them instead! Spray the mini muffin pan with cooking spray to prevent sticking and place your meatballs in each well. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Remove and use in the recipe as directed. (This is the method I chose.)

For the Sauce:
Heat a pan over medium-high heat and add butter. When foaming subsides, add flour and cook, whisking constantly, until flour is light brown, about 30 seconds. Slowly whisk in broth. Add brown sugar and mushrooms and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to medium and cook until sauce is reduced to about 1 cup, about 5 minutes. Stir in cream and return to simmer.
Add meatballs to sauce and simmer, turning occasionally, until heated through, about 5 minutes. Stir in lemon juice, season with salt and pepper, and serve.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Cream Scones

I made some raspberry jam the other day.  You know what goes perfectly with raspberry jam?  Scones.  And cream.  It was lovely.  These cream scones are amazingly tender, light, and crumbly.  They are not dry like the ones you might buy at stores.  If you've never had a scone, you should get in touch with your inner Brit and try one today.

Cream Scones

2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
4 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 egg slightly beaten
1 teaspoon of vanilla
2 tablespoons of sugar for sprinkling on top

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and butter in a food processor. Pulsate everything in 3-second intervals until everything resembles course meal. If doing this by hand, use 2 knives, a pastry blender or your fingers until the mixture resembles course meal.
Transfer everything to a large bowl. Stir in heavy cream, egg, and vanilla mixing the dough by hand until it forms into a uniformed and slightly moistened dough. *You can also use your Kitchenaid with the dough hook on the slowest speed for a few minutes.

On a floured surface, grab enough dough to fit into your hand about the size of a baseball and gently roll it in a ball.  Flatten the ball and until your disk is approx. 3/4″ in height. Press down the outside of the dough circle so the center is slightly taller. Evenly sprinkle sugar on top of each circle.  Cut each circle in quarters. You should have enough dough to make 4 circles and 16 scones.
Bake on a ungreased cookie sheet, or line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Bake for 15 minutes until the bottoms are golden brown. Remove scones from baking sheet and cool on a wire rack. Serve with butter, honey, cream or jam. Enjoy!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Coney Island Hot Dogs with Homemade Buns


I have always loved coneys from Sonic.  Yes, some of you may scoff.  And yes, I am aware of how low brow a coney may seem, but come on!  Hot dogs with chili and cheese?  Yes please!  These turned out really well.  The chili was slightly sweet for my taste, so I think I would decrease the brown sugar next time, but the hot dog buns turned out just beautifully and were so much better than the storebought kind.


Yummy yummy!  This is a highly kid friendly meal as well.  And it can always be customized.  My daughter didn't have any of the chili, but she had some ketchup and cheese.  It's so easy to make this meal fit anyone's tastes.  Try some soon!

Coney Island Hot Dog Sauce
adapted slightly from Mommy's Kitchen

1 lb ground turkey
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 - 3 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon prepared mustard
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
1 1/2 cups water
2-3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire
Salt and pepper to taste
hot dogs and hot dog buns (recipe follows)

Brown the meat in a skillet over medium-high heat.  Make sure to break up the meat as fine as possible (a potato masher works great (I just used the back of my spoon and worked it a little more than usual)). When the meat is cooked, drain and return to the skillet. Add the garlic and cook for a couple minutes. Add the remaining ingredients except the hot dogs and add the mixture to your crock pot. Turn the crock pot on low and cook for 2 hours. Serve the Coney sauce on top of cooked hot dogs with diced onions and mustard.
To cook the sauce on the stove, prepare the mixture the same way and just simmer on low for about 45 minutes to 1 hour. (I used the stove method, and it was just as easy and much faster.)


Homemade Hot Dog Buns
adapted slightly from At the Baker's Bench

3 cups flour
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 cup warm water

In the bowl of a stand mixer, put salt and warm water.  Sprinkle the yeast over the water and allow to bloom for 5 minutes.  Add flour, vegetable oil and sugar.  Knead using the dough hook until it’s smooth and satiny, then put it in an oiled bowl. Turn the dough over to coat it with oil, or brush the surface lightly with oil, and cover the bowl. Let the dough rise in a warm, draft-free spot until it’s doubled, about 1 hour.
Gently de-gas the dough by pressing your fist down into it, shape it into a 12-inch log, cover with a piece of oiled plastic wrap, and let rest for 10 minutes. Roll the dough into a 20 x 8-inch strip. Cut the dough (a pizza wheel works well here) into ten 4-inch squares. (Cut in half lengthwise, then into fifths vertically.) Shape each square by folding it over, pressing the edges to seal them, then rolling to form a bun about 6 inches long. Flatten the buns till they’re about 2 inches wide, and transfer them to lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheets, leaving 3 inches between them. Note: If you prefer to tear the buns apart from one another after they’re baked, place them so they’re only about 3/4-inch apart. Cover the buns with a piece of oiled plastic wrap, and allow them to rise for 45 to 60 minutes, until they’re puffy.
Bake the buns in a preheated 350°F oven for 16 to 18 minutes, until they’re golden brown. Remove them from the oven, cool them on a rack, and store tightly wrapped, or freeze.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thanksgiving Menu 2010

That picture is, unfortunately, not mine.  I don't have any current pictures of my Thanksgiving food, but I promise that after Thanksgiving, I will post many of the recipes I used up here.  About a week ago I finalized my Thanksgiving menu.  If you can't tell, I'm really excited about it.  It's the first time I will host Thanksgiving, and although it will be small, it will be awesome.  Here's the menu:

Appetizers
My Mother-in-Law's Cheese Ball

Main Course
Roasted Turkey and Gravy - my husband is the one who cooks the turkey, so we'll see what he comes up with this year!

Sides
Fresh Cranberry Sauce
Green Bean Casserole
Mashed Potatoes
Stuffing (I'm still trying to decide between 2 recipes for this)
My Grandmother's Snail Rolls with Compound Herb Butter and Honey Butter

Dessert
Pumpkin Pie with Sweetened Whipped Cream

What can you not live without on your Thanksgiving table?  I would love to know!  Any other traditions that you really enjoy?  What about ideas for leftovers?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Fried Apples & the Winner!

I really love fall, and I love when the apples come by the thousands into the stores.  This is a really simple and wonderfully delicious way to use up some of that harvest.  But be careful, it might melt your ice cream - but then you just have some yumminess to drink.  And congratulations to commenter number 1, Miss Nesbit, who won the cookbook!  Keep looking back for yummy recipes and more giveaways in the future!

Fried Apples

2 medium apples
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon table salt

Peel and core the apples and then slice them into 1/4-inch wedges.
Melt the butter in a 10-inch non-stick skillet over medium heat. When the butter has fully melted, sprinkle the brown sugar over the butter and then quickly place the apple slices in a single layer on top of the brown sugar. With a wooden spoon, stir the apples to coat them in the butter and brown sugar. Continue to stir the apples. When the butter and brown sugar have formed a syrup, sprinkle the cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt over the ingredients in the pan and stir to incorporate.
Reduce heat to medium-low and continue to stir the apples until they are fork tender and the syrup has reduced and thickened slightly. Remove the skillet from the heat and let the apples cool for several minutes. Serve alone, or as a topping for ice cream.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Cowboy Spaghetti & A Giveaway!


I'm not usually a big Rachael Ray fan.  But she does have some recipes that are really delicious, and yes, easy.  This is one of my favorites.  The best thing about this pasta is the switch-up on the cheese.  This picture shows it with your typical parmesan and mozzarella on the top, but the recipe calls for grated cheddar to garnish the pasta.  And it's delicious!!  This is not your typical spaghetti with meat sauce.  It has bacon and a nice smoky flavor that is just wonderful.  And because I love this recipe so much, I'm giving away a copy of the book that contains it!

If you want a chance to win, just comment on this post!  The winner will be randomly selected by using random.org and announced on Thursday when I'll put up another yummy recipe!  Enjoy and good luck!

Cowboy Spaghetti
from Rachael Ray's Express Lane Meals

Salt
1 pound spaghetti
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 slices smoky bacon, chopped
1 pound ground beef
1 medium onion (once again, I left this out since my husband hates onions)
3-4 garlic cloves, chopped
Black pepper
2 teaspoons hot sauce (like Tobasco)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 14-oz can chopped or crushed fire-roasted tomatoes
1 8-oz can tomato sauce
8 oz sharp cheddar cheese
4 scallions, trimmed, chopped (I omitted these too)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Salt the water and add the spaghetti.  Cook the pasta to al dente, with a bite to it.  Drain the spaghetti.
Heat a deep skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the olive oil and bacon.  Brown and crisp the bacon for 5 minutes, then remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate.  Drain off a little excess fat from the skillet if necessary, leaving just enough to coat the bottom.  Add the beef and crumble as it browns, 3 to 4 minutes.  Add the onions and garlic and stir into the meat.  Season the meat with salt and pepper, hot sauce, and Worcestershire.  Cook for 5 to 6 minutes more, then stir in the tomatoes and tomato sauce.
Add the hot spaghetti to the meat and sauce and combine.  Adjust the seasonings and serve up the pasta in shallow bowls.  Grate some cheese over the pasta and sprinkle with the scallions.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Halloween Cupcakes


I help out with activities for the 8-11 year old girls at my church, and last night we had a daddy/daughter pumpkin carving night.  All the girls and dads came dressed in costume and we had a great time carving pumpkins, giving out prizes, wrapping the dads up like mummies (and then watching them hop around in a mummy parade), and eating some scary food.  There were deviled eggs that looked like eyeballs, breadsticks that looked like bones, and dip that looked like spiderwebs.  My contribution?  Vampire cupcakes and slime-filled cupcakes.  They were both absolutely delicious, and the vampire cupcakes are by far the best cupcake I've ever made.  It's a light almond vanilla cake with marshmallow frosting filled with cherry pie filling.


They even bleed when you bite into them.  The slime-filled cupcakes were also wonderful.  Vanilla cake with a simple frosting, but the filling really made these cupcakes.  A tangy and surprising lime curd.  They were both fabulous and the girls just ate them up.  Having a Halloween party this weekend?  Whip up a batch of these cupcakes!


Vampire Cupcakes

2 cups cake flour
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
2 large egg whites
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract

Preheat oven to 350F. Line muffin tins (you will need 18 cups total) with paper liners and set aside.  Sift together cake flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer. Add sugar and blend, using the paddle attachment.  Cut butter into 4 or 5 chunks and drop into the bowl with the flour mixture.  Blend on low speed until mixture looks sandy and no large chunks of butter remain, 1-2 minutes.
In a large measuring cup, combine eggs, buttermilk, vanilla and almond extracts. Beat lightly with a fork until combined. With the mixer on low, pour 1 cup of the buttermilk mixture into the bowl. Turn speed up to medium and beat for 1 1/2 minutes. Reduce speed back to low and pour in the rest of the buttermilk mixture. Continue to beat at low speed for an additional 30 seconds, until liquid is fully incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat for a few more seconds, if necessary.
Divide evenly into prepared muffin tins, filling 18 cups as equally as possible.  Bake for 16-20 minutes, until cupcakes are light golden and a toothpick inserted into their centers comes out clean. The cake should spring back when lightly pressed.  Turn cupcakes out onto a wire rack to cool completely.  Makes 18 cupcakes.

Filling
1 can cherry pie filling

Puree cherry pie filling in a food processor until fairly smooth. Very small pieces of cherries are ok.
(A photo how-to of the assembly method can be found on the Baking Bites blog.) Take a cooled cupcake and, using a small pairing knife, cut a cone of cake (1-inch across by 1-inch deep) out of the top. Trim off the pointy end of the cone, leaving a flat circle of cake. Set aside and repeat this process for all the cupcakes.
Take the cherry filling and spoon about tablespoon or so into each cupcake cavity, filling it almost to the top with filling. Top off with the flat circle of cake you just removed to seal the hole and hold the “blood” filling in place. (On these cupcakes the cake was too soft for me to keep a circle to put back on top, but they turned out fine anyway.)

Marshmallow Frosting
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large egg whites, room temperature
1/3 cup water
2 tsp light corn syrup
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Whisk sugar, egg whites, 1/3 cup water, light corn syrup, and cream of tartar in large metal bowl to blend. Set bowl over saucepan of barely simmering water (do not allow bottom of bowl to touch simmering water). Using handheld electric mixer, beat on medium speed until mixture resembles soft marshmallow fluff, about 5-7 minutes.  Increase mixer speed to high and beat until mixture is very smooth and thick, about 3 minutes longer. Remove bowl from over simmering water. Add vanilla extract and continue beating until marshmallow frosting is completely cool, about 5-7 minutes longer. (I don't have a hand mixer, so my husband and I switched off whisking this by hand.  It took a little bit longer, and was very tiring, but worked just fine.  We used the whisk attachment on our Kitchen Aid for the last 5-7 minutes.)

Using a butter knife or a small offset spatula, frost each cupcake with a layer of the cooled marshmallow frosting by placing a dollop of icing in the center of the cupcake (on top of the cut out circle of cake) and spreading from the center to the sides of the cupcake.
Dip a wooden toothpick or skewer into some leftover cherry pie filling and poke two fang-holes, about 3/4 inch apart, in the frosting on one side of the cupcake. Dribble a little extra filling from the holes for effect.
Repeat until all cupcakes are frosted and decorated. You will probably have frosting leftover for another batch if you are baking more.


Slime-Filled Cupcakes
also from Baking Bites

Slime (Lime Curd) Filling:
2/3 cup strained fresh lime juice
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
10-12 drops green food coloring

In a small sauce pan, over medium heat, dissolve sugar into lime juice.
Lightly beat eggs in a small/medium bowl. Whisking constantly, slowly trickle hot lime/sugar syrup into the eggs. Beat for about 1 minute, until well combined, then transfer back into the saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until curd starts to bubble and is thick. Stir in the food coloring while the curd is cooking. Remove from heat and transfer to a heatproof bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold.  Makes about 1 1/3 cups.

Vanilla Cupcakes
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted and cooled
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup milk (low fat is ok)

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.  In a medium bowl, whisk together cooled, melted butter, eggs, vanilla and milk. Pour into flour mixture and stir until just combined and no streaks of flour remain.  Distribute batter evenly into prepared muffin cups.
Bake for 16-19 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean.  Cool completely on a wire rack before filling and frosting.  Makes 12-cupcakes.

(A photo how-to of the assembly method can be found on the Baking Bites blog.)  Take a cooled cupcake and, using a small pairing knife, cut a cone of cake (1-inch across by 1-inch deep) out of the top. Trim off the pointy end of the cone, leaving a flat circle of cake. Set aside the circle and discard (or eat) the rest of the cone. Repeat this process for all the cupcakes.
Take the slime filling and spoon about tablespoon into each cupcake cavity, filling it almost to the top with lime curd. Top off with the flat circle of cake you just removed to seal the hole and hold the “black lagoon” filling in place.  Once all the cupcakes are filled, they can be frosted just as ordinary cupcakes.

Swampy Vanilla Frosting
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
2-3 cups confectioners’ sugar
2-4 tablespoons milk
green food coloring

Cream butter with an electric mixer until soft. Add vanilla and gradually add in sugar until most has been incorporated. Mixture will look a bit sandy. Add in milk as necessary (start with 2 tbsp), along with any remaining sugar, until frosting reaches a thick, but easy-to-spread consistency. Add green food coloring until desired green color is reached. Add in a few drops of red with the green for a brownish color, or a drop or two of blue to deepen the green.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Eggs Blackstone

Eggs Benedict has always been one of my favorite breakfast dishes, but I never get to eat it.  Hollandaise sauce is notoriously difficult to make correctly.  My first attempt at making it was when I was dating my husband - so 5 years ago.  It was disastrous.  I was in a little teeny college kitchen and was still perfecting my cooking skills.  I think I was a bit ambitious.  Needless to say, I was scared to try again, but now that I am a more confident cook I decided to go for it.  Not with Eggs Benedict though - with Eggs Blackstone.  And holy cow, they beat out Eggs Benedict.  Instead of ham, they use bacon and a tomato slice.  Yum!  My hollandaise, although imperfect, did not break like it did on my last attempt, so I have improved!  Watch out for the temperature on your double boiler.  Mine was too high, so the eggs yolks cooked a little bit too much, which gave the sauce a mildly eggy flavor.  It was still magically delicious though.  The sauce will take a few tries to get right, but hey, better start now so I can enjoy it more often!  NOTE: I just used regular fried eggs instead of poached eggs, but I will include the poaching directions for you.

Eggs Blackstone with Meyer Lemon Hollandaise

For the sauce:
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 1/2 tablespoons Meyer lemon juice (I used regular lemon juice)
3 egg yolks
4 tablespoons boiling water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

8 slices thick bacon, cut in half lengthwise
1 teaspoon Meyer lemon juice (once again, I used regular)
8 eggs
4 English muffins, halved and toasted
8 heirloom or regular tomato slices
Freshly ground pepper

To make the hollandaise sauce, in a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter.  Remove from the heat and keep warm.  In a small nonreactive saucepan over low heat, warm the lemon juice.  Place the egg yolks in a heatproof bowl or in the top of a double boiler and set over (not touching) barely simmering water in a saucepan.  Heat the yolks, whisking constantly, until they begin to thicken, 3-4 minutes.  Add 1 tablespoon of the boiling water and whisk until the yolks thicken, about 2 seconds.  Add another 1 tablespoon of the boiling water and whisk until the yolks thicken, about 2 seconds.  Repeat twice, adding 1 tablespoon of boiling water each time.  Whisk in the warm lemon juice and remove the bowl from the heat.  Whisking constantly, very slowly pour in the melted butter.  Whisk in the salt and cayenne and continue to whisk until the sauce triple in volume, 3-4 minutes.  To keep the sauce warm until serving, set it over (not touching) hot water in the saucepan and whisk occasionally.
Preheat a broiler (grill).  Arrange the bacon slices in a single layer on a baking sheet and place in the broiler about 6 inches from the heat source.  Broil (grill) the slices until browned, about 3 minutes.  Turn and broil until browned on the second side, about 2 minutes longer.  Transfer the bacon to paper towels to drain.
Pour water to a depth of 2 inches into a large frying pan and add the lemon juice.  Place over medium heat and bring to a gentle simmer.  Break 1 egg into a small bowl or cup.  Hold the bowl so it is just touching the simmering water and slide the egg into the water.  Quickly repeat with the remaining eggs, one at a time, keeping them about 1 inch apart.  Adjust the heat to keep the water at a gentle simmer.  Cook until the whites are set and the yolks are glazed over but still soft, about 4-5 minutes.
About 1 minute before the eggs are done, place 2 muffin halves, cut side up, on each warmed plate.  Top each half with 1 tomato slice and 2 bacon slices.  Using a slotted spoon, lift each egg from the simmering water, letting the excess water drain into the pan.  Trim any ragged edges of egg white with kitchen scissors.  Top each muffin half with 1 poached egg and sprinkle with pepper.  Spoon 2 tablespoons of the hollandaise sauce over each egg.  Serve at once.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Toasted Coconut Gelato

I promised this recipe quite a while ago.  Since the pictures of my pumpkin pie french toast didn't turn out, here it is!  It's somewhat summery, but that's no reason to skip it now!  It's delicious and creamy and very tropical.  It smells like the beach.  In a good way.  Don't be scared of making ice cream.  Ice cream is your friend.

Toasted Coconut Gelato
from The Culinary Chronicles

2 cups plus 3 tablespoons whole milk (I used 1% which worked, but I think it would be better with whole)
1¾ cups coconut milk (this is roughly 1 14-oz can)
1 cup loosely packed toasted unsweetened coconut flakes, plus additional for garnish
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon coconut extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoons cornstarch
Pinch salt

In a heavy sauce pot, add 2 cups of milk, coconut milk, sugar, and salt. Bring to a low boil on medium low heat. Be careful not to scorch. With the remaining milk, add corn starch to make a slurry. When milk and coconut milk come to a boil, add the slurry and extracts. Cook on low and whisk often so that clumps do not form. The mixture is cooked when you can run a line on the back of a spoon without the mixture coming back together. Cool the mixture to room temperature and then chill in the refrigerator for a minimum of 12 hours.
Add the mixture to your ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer’s directions. When half the time has elapsed, slowly add the toasted coconut allowing it to be thoroughly incorporated in the mixture.
Transfer to a storage container and freeze until desired firmness. Before serving, allow the gelato to sit on your counter for a few minutes for a better texture and because its easier to scoop. Serve with a sprinkle of toasted coconut flakes.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

These are the most delicious pumpkin muffins ever.  EVER.  They are super easy, but because you have to layer the muffins, they do take a little bit longer than your average muffin.  They really taste more like a cupcake than a muffin.  The cream cheese layer is wonderfully creamy and tangy to offset the sweetness of the pumpkin, and the streusel gives a great crunch.  These need to go on your fall baking list.  I'm so glad I was in a Halloween mood yesterday and put this recipe to use.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

For the filling:
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 cup confectioners’ sugar

For the muffins:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. ground cloves
1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
4 large eggs
2 cups sugar
2 cups pumpkin puree
1¼ cups vegetable oil

For the topping:
½ cup sugar
5 tbsp. flour
1½ tsp. ground cinnamon
4 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

To prepare the filling, combine the cream cheese and confectioners’ sugar in a medium bowl and mix well until blended and smooth. Transfer the mixture to a piece of plastic wrap and shape into a log about 1½-inches in diameter. Smooth the plastic wrap tightly around the log, and reinforce with a piece of foil. Transfer to the freezer and chill until at least slightly firm, at least 2 hours.
To make the muffins, preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Line muffin pans with paper liners. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, pumpkin pie spice, salt and baking soda; whisk to blend. In the bowl of an electric mixer combine the eggs, sugar, pumpkin puree and oil. Mix on medium-low speed until blended. With the mixer on low speed, add in the dry ingredients, mixing just until incorporated.
To make the topping, combine the sugar, flour and cinnamon in a small bowl; whisk to blend. Add in the butter pieces and cut into the dry ingredients with a pastry blender or two forks until the mixture is coarse and crumbly. Transfer to the refrigerator until ready to use.
To assemble the muffins, fill each muffin well with a small amount of batter, just enough to cover the bottom of the liner (1-2 tablespoons). Slice the log of cream cheese filling into 24 equal pieces. Place a slice of the cream cheese mixture into each muffin well. Divide the remaining batter among the muffin cups, placing on top of the cream cheese to cover completely. Sprinkle a small amount of the topping mixture over each of the muffin wells.
Bake for 20-25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely before serving. (It may be hard to resist immediate consumption, but the cream cheese filling gets very hot!)  Makes 24 muffins.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

These treats are the essence of fall and taste like Halloween to me.  I've made them twice already this month and will probably make it again before Halloween comes our way.  This is by far the best recipe I've ever had.  They have the perfect blend of autumn spices and they will just plain make you happy.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Cream together:

½ cup butter
1 cup brown sugar, packed
¼ cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup puréed pumpkin
1½ teaspoons vanilla

Mix together in separate bowl:
2 cups flour
3 teaspoons cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cloves
½ teaspoon allspice
½ teaspoon nutmeg (fresh is best)
½ teaspoon ginger
A pinch of cardamom
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon baking powder

Combine the two mixes completely.  Add 1 cup of chocolate chips.  Bake at 400 for 10-12 minutes on greased baking sheets.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Lemon Yogurt Cake

I love when I just happen to have all the ingredients for something I want to make.  It's a lovely feeling.  I'm hoping that as I get older and my grocery budget increases (maybe that's wishful thinking) I will have moments like that much more often.  I will always have plain yogurt on hand, or peanut butter chips, or heavy cream, or any other number of spices and baking mix ins that would make my life even more delicious and fattening than it is.  Case in point, I actually had yogurt and lemons to use up, so I immediately thought of this cake.  Make this cake, if for nothing else, for the crack.  It's all about the crack.

The lemon syrup and lemon icing ooze into the cake and make that crack (excuse my repeated use of that word in reference to food) moist and sticky and lemony and to die for.

Lemon Yogurt Cake

1 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup plain yogurt
1 1/3 cups sugar, divided
3 eggs
2 teaspoons lemon zest (from 2 lemons)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup lemon juice (please use fresh)

1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 350.  Grease a 9x5 loaf pan.  Line the bottom with parchment paper.  Grease and flour the pan. (I only greased the pan.  I didn't do the other two steps and it turned out fine.)
Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into one bowl.  In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, 1 cup sugar, eggs, lemon zest and vanilla.  Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.  With a rubber spatula, fold the vegetable oil into the batter, making sure it's all incorporated.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 50 minutes, or until a cake tester placed in the center of the loaf comes out clean.
Meanwhile, cook the 1/3 cup lemon juice and remaining 1/3 cup sugar in a small pan until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear.  Set aside.
When the cake is done, allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes.  Carefully place on a baking rack over a sheet pan.  (I would recommend lining the sheet pan with aluminum foil so you don't have to clean it later.)  While the cake is still warm, pour the lemon-sugar mixture over the cake and allow it to soak in.  Cool.
For the glaze, combine the powdered sugar and lemon juice and pour over the cake.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Chicken Parmigiana a la The Husband

My husband is a pretty awesome guy.  He works hard and provides a good life for me and our children.  He loves us and is always thinking of us.  And he cooks.  Yeah, you read that right.  And not only does he cook, but he's good at it.  Recently, even with his busy work schedule (he's in the Coast Guard and works 48 hour periods) he has offered to cook dinner once a month.  He gets ambitious too, which usually turns out deliciously for me.  In fact, he made me Pioneer Woman's Chicken Parmigiana.  It was amazing.  I love my cooking husband.

Chicken Parmigiana

4 whole (up to 6) Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts, Trimmed And Pounded Flat

½ cups All-purpose Flour
Salt And Pepper, to taste
½ cups Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons Butter
1 whole Medium Onion, Chopped (he left this out, he hates them)
4 cloves Garlic, Minced
¾ cups Wine (white Or Red Is Fine) (he used chicken broth)
3 cans (14.5 Oz.) Crushed Tomatoes
2 Tablespoons Sugar
¼ cubes Chopped Fresh Parsley (he left this out)
1 cup Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese
1 pound Thin Linguine

Mix flour, salt, and pepper together on a large plate.  Dredge flattened chicken breasts in flour mixture. Set aside.  At this time, you can start a pot of water for your pasta. Cook linguine until al dente.
Heat olive oil and butter together in a large skillet over medium heat. When butter is melted and oil/butter mixture is hot, fry chicken breasts until nice and golden brown on each side, about 2 to 3 minutes per side.
Remove chicken breasts from the skillet and keep warm.
Without cleaning skillet, add onions and garlic and gently stir for 2 minutes. Pour in wine and scrape the bottom of the pan, getting all the flavorful bits off the bottom. Allow wine to cook down until reduced by half, about 2 minutes.  Pour in crushed tomatoes and stir to combine. Add sugar and more salt and pepper to taste. Allow to cook for 30 minutes. Toward the end of cooking time, add chopped parsley and give sauce a final stir.
Carefully lay chicken breasts on top of the sauce and completely cover them in grated Parmesan. Place lid on skillet and reduce heat to low. Allow to simmer until cheese is melted and chicken is thoroughly heated. Add more cheese to taste.
Place cooked noodles on a plate and cover with sauce. Place chicken breast on top and sprinkle with more parsley. Serve immediately.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Buttermilk Syrup

Latley, I have been praying for patience.  Lucky for me, when I pray for patience, I am inevitably given reasons to be patient.  Over the last 24 hours I have been woken up 4 times, cleaned up 7 nasty messes, and went through church, husbandless, with a screaming, teething baby.  And I didn't yell once.  I even still want to make this sweet treat for my family, because even though I do need to pray for patience, I love them.

Buttermilk Syrup

1 1/2 cups butter
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
3 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon baking soda

In large saucepan (make sure it is big enough to accommodate the syrup foaming when the baking soda is added), combine butter, buttermilk, and sugar. Bring to a boil, stirring regularly.
Remove from heat and whisk in vanilla and baking soda (it will foam up at this point.) It is now ready to serve over pancakes, waffles, or ice cream.
Keeps for at least a couple weeks if you can manage to not use it all up quicker.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Buffalo Chicken Pizza

Need something to do with that second ball of pizza dough in your freezer from the calzones?  Look no further.  This is the most delicious pizza I have ever made - no exaggeration.  This would be fantastic for a football party and is a great alternative to hot wings.  It made my husband happy, and I thought it was awesome too.

Buffalo Chicken Pizza

2 chicken breasts sauteed with some pam, salt and pepper
Red hot sauce, such as Tobasco (2-4 tablespoons depending on heat preference)
1-2 tablespoons melted butter (depending on how much red hot sauce you use)
Blue cheese salad dressing
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Dice chicken and put in small mixing bowl. Pour red hot sauce and melted butter over top. Stir to combine. Set aside.
Roll out the pizza dough to desired thickness and top with blue cheese dressing.  Evenly top with 3/4 of the chicken mixture, then top with the cheese.  Sprinkle the rest of the chicken mixture over the top.  Bake at 450 on pizza stone in bottom of oven until browned nicely all over (crust and topping). (To be honest, I forgot how long this took.  You'll have to watch it, although I'd say 10-20 minutes.)
Remove from oven and sprinkle with blue cheese crumbles if desired then cool for about 10 minutes before cutting (to prevent cheese and sauce from running all over stone and you).

Monday, September 20, 2010

Sausage and Artichoke Calzones

Calzones are so much easier to make than I expected them to be.  And these turned out beautifully.  My only regret is that I forgot to use the cool calzone maker that my husband got me for my birthday.  Drat!  But I will next time.  I'm sure they would have turned out even prettier if I had, but oh well.  I'm sure that I will be making these again soon.  Bring them on a picnic since they are pretty clean and can be eaten with your hands!


Sausage and Artichoke Calzones
from Pizza and Other Savory Pies
Makes 2 calzones

1/2 lb sweet or hot Italian sausage, casing removed (I used chicken sausage)
1 egg
1 tablespoon milk
Flour, for dusting
1 ball Thin Crust Pizza Dough, at room temperature (recipe follows)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 jar (6.5  oz) marinated artichoke hearts, drained and cut into bite-sized pieces
1 oz Parmesan, finely grated, plus 1 tablespoon for sprinkling
2 oz Italian fontina or smoked mozzarella cheese, shredded (I used regular mozzarella)
6-8 fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces
1/2 cup pizza sauce

Place a pizza stone on a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 450.  Let the pizza stone heat for 45-60 minutes.
In a frying pan over medium-low heat, saute the sausage, breaking it up into small pieces with a spoon, until no trace of pink remains, 5-7 minutes.  Drain on paper towels and set aside.  In a bowl, lightly beat together the egg and milk.
On a lightly floured work surface, divide the dough in half and shape each half into a ball.  Place a sheet of parchment paper on the work surface and set the first ball of dough in the center.  Cover the second dough ball with a clean kitchen towel and set aside.  Dust the top of the dough with flour and, using a rolling pin, roll out to a 7-inch round of even thickness.  Repeat with the second ball of dough.  Cover both rounds with a clean kitchen towel and let rise for 5 minutes.
Season the first dough round lightly with salt and pepper.  Spoon 1/2 of the artichokes over one half of the dough round, leaving a 3/4-inch border uncovered.  Top the artichokes with 1/2 each of the cooked sausage, Parmesan, fontina and basil.  Make sure the filling isn't mounded too high in the center; it should evenly half of the dough round.  Gently fold the uncovered half over the covered half to enclose the filling.  Firmly pinch and crimp the edges to seal.  Repeat with the second dough round.  Brush the tops of the calzones with the egg mixture and sprinkle each with 1/2 tablespoon of the remaining Parmesan.  Cut a small steam vent in the top of each calzone.  Using a pizza peel or rimless baking sheet, carefully slide the calzone-topped parchment paper sheets onto the hot pizza stone.  Bake until golden, about 15 minutes.
Using the pizza peel or rimless baking sheet, remove the calzones from the oven and transfer to a cutting board.  Let stand for 15-20 minutes, then cut into halves and serve warm.  If desired, serve the tomato sauce on the side.

Thin-Crust Pizza Dough
from Pizza and Other Savory Pies
Makes 2 balls of dough

3 1/3 cups flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour (I've made it with just regular flour too, and it works fine)
1 package (2 1/2 teaspoons) quick-rise yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon salt
1 1/4 cups warm water (110 F), plus more as needed
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra as needed

In a food processor, combine the flours, yeast, sugar and salt.  Pulse to mix the ingredients.  With the motor running, add the water and olive oil in a steady stream, and then pulse until the dough comes together in a rough mass, about 12 seconds.  If the dough doesn't  form into a ball, sprinkle with 1-2 teaspoons of water and pulse again until a rough mass forms.  Let the dough rest for 5-10 minutes  Process again for 25-30 seconds, steadying the top of the food processor with one hand.  The dough should be tacky to the touch but not sticky.  Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and form it into a smooth ball.  Place the dough in a large oiled bowl, turn to coat with oil, and cover with plastic wrap.  Let the dough rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk and spongy, about 1 1/2 hours.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, punch it down, and shape into a smooth cylinder.  Divide the dough into 2 equal pieces.  Shape each piece into a smooth ball, dusting with flour only if the dough becomes sticky.  Cover both balls of dough with a clean kitchen towel and let rest for 10 minutes before proceeding with your chosen pizza recipe.  If you are using only one ball of dough, place the second ball in a gallon-size zipper-lock bag and freeze for up to 2 months.  (When ready to use, thaw the frozen dough for 3-4 hours at room temperature.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Polynesian Pineapple Meatballs

Sticky, sweet and perfect over rice.  Have a Polynesian staycation at home with these meatballs for dinner and some coconut gelato (recipe posted soon!) for dessert, and, if you wish, escape the rainy fall days.

Polynesian Pineapple Meatballs

1 lb ground turkey
1 egg
3/4 cup Panko breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons soy sauce
3/4 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
3/4 teaspoon mustard powder
20 oz can pineapple chunks
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
1/2 cup water
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch

Preheat oven to 350. Cover a baking sheet with foil and lightly spritz with cooking spray.

Combine turkey with next 5 ingredients (egg through mustard) in a bowl and mix well. Using a disher or your hands, roll into balls, about 1 1/2 tablespoons each, or your desired size.
Brown meatballs in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until browned on all sides. Move meatballs to baking sheet and bake for approximately 15 minutes or until they are cooked through (center should be 165 degrees – residual heat will continue to cook them to 170).
While meatballs are baking, In same pan you used for the meat, heat pineapple with juice over medium-high heat until just boiling. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. In a small bowl, combine vinegar, water, brown sugar and cornstarch and mix well. Add to pineapple and stir to combine. Boil and stir for 1-2 minutes or until thickened.
Add meatballs back into pan and toss to coat. Serve over hot rice.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Caesar Salad & Garlic Bread

And yes, those croutons are homemade too.  This meal is so light and delicious, but definitely fills you up.  I'm so glad that I finally made a Caesar salad from scratch.  I found a recipe that doesn't call for mayonnaise because generally, I hate the stuff.  The dressing really turned out perfectly, but it only will if you aren't afraid of the anchovy!  That is the distinctive flavor in Caesar dressing.  Don't let it gross you out.  Embrace it.  It really makes a wonderful salad.  The croutons were crunchy and amazing, and the garlic bread had an awesome flavor.  This whole meal took almost no time at all, which means you should make it very soon.

Caesar Salad
dressing recipe from Once Upon A Plate

Romaine lettuce
1 medium garlic clove
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup fresh parsley, packed (I omitted this, but I would put it in next time)
3 canned anchovy fillets or 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons anchovy paste (I used the paste)
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup sour cream

With machine running, drop garlic through feed tube of food processor and mince (if you don't have a food processor, you can use a blender).  Add Parmesan, parsley, anchovies and lemon juice.  Process into a paste.  Transfer to a bowl and fold in the sour cream.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.  Toss with romaine lettuce and top with freshly ground black pepper and a little Parmesan cheese.  Serve with croutons (recipe follows).


Croutons

1/2 loaf day old French bread
Olive oil (approximately 1/4 cup)
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Optional: Parmesan cheese, dried herbs, garlic powder (I left mine plain)

Preheat oven to 350.  Cut bread into 1/2 inch by 1/2 inch cubes.  You can make them bigger or smaller, just try to make them the same size so that they cook evenly.  In a large bowl, toss bread cubes with enough olive oil to lightly coat.  Add salt, pepper and any seasonings you prefer.  Pour bread onto a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil.  Bake for 20-30 minutes or until bread is golden and very crunchy.  Toss cubes several times during baking.


Garlic Bread

1 loaf French bread
4 tablespoons butter, room temperature
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped (I omitted this, but would add it next time)
Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 400.  If using a food processor, combine the garlic (cloves can be whole) and olive oil. Process until the garlic is minced. Next add the softened butter and process for another 30 seconds. Add fresh parsley and process once more until the parsley is in small pieces. Add a pinch of salt, taste and adjust to your liking.

If you are not using a food processor, mince the garlic with a knife. In a bowl combine the garlic and softened butter. Stir in the olive oil. Mince the parsley and stir it into garlic/butter/oil mixture. Add a pinch of salt, taste and adjust to your liking.
Slice the baguette in half lengthwise and open it so that both cut sides are facing up. Spread the butter/garlic mixture evenly over the cut surface. Bake the bread for 10-15 minutes at 400 degrees. Every oven is different so keep a close eye on it. Take the bread out when it is a deep golden brown on the edges.
Cut the bread into 2-inch wide pieces and serve with a saucy Italian meal!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Peach Pie

There is something so satisfying about baking.  Pies in particular really make me feel accomplished and domestic.  Now that I have found the easiest and best crust recipe around, pies are literally easy as pie and just as wonderfully tasty. 

The peaches have been awesome around here lately, and I haven't been able to get enough of them.  Thus, the peach pie was born.  I loved making this pie.  Slicing the fresh peaches and letting the juice run down my hands and elbows was sticky and messy and amazing.  It felt really good to just get in the kitchen, make a mess, and in the process, create a pie - something tangible, beautiful and delicious.  And since I wasn't the only one to enjoy it, it was infinitely better.  It really doesn't get much better than sharing a homemade pie with family and friends.

Peach Pie

For the crust, see my post for Cherry Pie, here.

The filling recipe came from Kitchen Parade.

6-8 cups ripe peaches, skins on
1 1/3 cups sugar
4-6 tablespoons flour (depending on how many peaches you use)
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
3 tablespoons butter

Slice the peaches in six or eight pieces lengthwise, then each piece into three or four pieces. In a large saucepan, gently stir together the peaches, sugar, flour and nutmeg. Let rest at room temperature for 20 – 30 minutes until a peachy syrup forms. With a slotted spoon, move the peach pieces to a bowl. Bring the remaining liquid to a boil over medium heat, reduce to low, cook for about 10 minutes or until just beginning to thicken. Stir in the peaches; stirring often, cook for another 10 minutes or until the peaches are tender. Take the pan off the heat, stir in vanilla and butter, stirring until butter melts. Let cool to room temperature. (The peach filling can be made ahead of time and refrigerated.)

Preheat oven to 425F. Roll the top crust, cut into nine long narrow strips. Working quickly, pour the filling into the bottom crust and arrange the pastry strips in a lattice, five strips running left to right, four strips running up and down. Turn the overhang over to form the crust’s edge, pinch to seal.
Bake at 425F for 10 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350F, bake for another 25-35 minutes or until the crust is golden on top and bottom and the filling is bubbly.
Let cool for 2 hours or more. Slice and serve.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Best Tin Foil Dinners

The first time I ever had a tin foil dinner, I was disgusted.  I had made it per my husband's instructions - ground beef, carrots, potatoes - and then seasoned the heck out of it.  I was sure that it would turn out so well, but when we ate them, it tasted like nothing.  It was just texture.  I asked if that was what they were supposed to taste like and he said, "Yeah.  Just put some ketchup on it."  Lovely.  So now I was eating textured ketchup.  The next opportunity I had to make a tin foil dinner was this last weekend.  I made sure that we would not be eating the traditional tasteless mush and would be actually eating something we wanted to put in our mouths.

When making this recipe, I decided that it was essential to go way over the top on flavor at first.  The fire had cooked out all flavor before, so I figured that if there was way too much flavor to start with, we might end up somewhere in the middle.  I figured right.  The end result was absolutely perfect.  Cheesy, creamy and delicious.  The sauce soaked right into the vegetables and marinated the chicken.  My husband said that it was the best tin foil dinner he's ever had.  He said, "You have to understand.  These are traditional.  They don't usually taste good, so these are awesome."  I guess I did something right.  And finishing the meal off with a Reese's smore doesn't hurt either.

The Best Tin Foil Dinners

2 large Yukon gold potatoes, sliced
2 large carrots, peeled and sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 chicken breasts, cut into pieces
Salt and pepper
1 can cream of chicken soup
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon chicken Better than Bouillon, or 1 chicken bouillon cube
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Lay out 2-3 large pieces of tin foil.  Lay the potatoes and carrots in each of the pieces of foil.  In a large skillet or medium saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.  Season the chicken with salt and pepper, then cook in the oil until almost cooked through.  Take off the heat and let cool for a few minutes.  Layer the chicken in each piece of foil.  Drain the skillet of excess liquid.
In the same skillet over medium heat, add soup, butter, sour cream and Better than Bouillon.  Cook until butter melts and ingredients are mixed, stirring frequently.  Add cheddar and stir until melted.  Add pepper to taste.  Take off the heat and let cool for about 5 minutes.
Pour the sauce over the chicken and vegetables.  Wrap up well.  Wrap each foil packet with 2 more pieces of foil.
When outside, let the fire burn down until there are just smoldering logs left.  Put the dinners in and turn a few times.  You'll have to watch it though, since cooking time will entirely depend on the heat of your fire and the foil you used.  It will probably take about 10-20 minutes.  Unwrap and enjoy!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Smoky Chili Joes

These are what my husband describes as the best sloppy joes he's ever had.  In fact, when I made them the other day, I made them early because my husband had to travel for work that night.  He stopped at home to grab a few things before he left, and was excited to see that I had made them.  He then proceeded to wolf down two of them in 10 minutes or less.  They are truly different from any other sloppy joes I've ever had, which is good, because generally I hate them.  And although they don't use any summer produce, they really are summer fare.  Delicious.

Smoky Chili Joes
from Cooking Light, December 2006

1/2 pound extra lean ground beef (I used turkey)
1/2 cup chopped onion (I omitted this)
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/8 chipotle chile powder (I used regular chili powder)
1/4 cup ketchup
1 15-oz can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 14.5-oz can diced tomatoes, with green pepper and onions, undrained (I used regular)
6 hamburger buns
6 tablespoons shredded sharp cheddar cheese (I used more)
12 pickles

Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add beef to pan; cook 4 minutes or until browned, stirring to crumble.  Add onion and garlic to pan; cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add cumin, chili powder and chipotle chili powder, and cook 30 seconds.  Stir in ketchup, beans and tomatoes; cook 6 minutes or until slightly thickened.  Spoon about 2/3 cup beef mixture over 6 bottom bun halves, and top each with 1 tablespoon cheese and 2 pickles.  Top with remaining bun halves.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Raspberry Cream Pie

This pie is divine.  Divine.  It's the first thing in a long time that my husband has just raved about.  I saw it on Ree Drummond's blog The Pioneer Woman a few days ago and absolutely had to make it, so I did the next day.  It was just delectable.  If this doesn't make you want to make it, I don't know what will.
My daughter was simply dying to eat this once I showed her the "pink pie".  She devoured it, made a huge mess of the kitchen, and was so cute doing it that all I could do was snap pictures of her and her sticky face and hands.
This is perfect for those hot summer days (not that we've had many of those out here in Oregon lately) and most definitely uses those juicy, delicious summer raspberries.  Make it before summer ends!  You'll thank me.  And the Pioneer Woman.

Raspberry Cream Pie
by Ree Drummond on The Pioneer Woman

25 whole Oreos
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup (generous) raspberries
3 tablespoons sugar
2 6-oz containers raspberry yogurt
1 3.4-oz package vanilla instant pudding mix
1 cup heavy cream

To make the crust, preheat the oven to 350.  Crush cookies in a food processor (or smash in a plastic bag with a rolling pin).  Stir in melted butter until combined.  Pour into a pie pan and press crumbs all over the pan and up the sides.  Bake for 3-4 minutes - just long enough for it to set.  Cool crust completely.
Place raspberries on a plate.  Smash them with a fork, then sprinkle on 3 tablespoons of sugar.  Stir together and allow to sit for 15 minutes.
In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the yogurt with the pudding mix (powder only).  Beat on low until combined, about 1 minute.  Pour in heavy cream and whip on low for 30 seconds.  Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula.  Turn mixer on medium-high speed and beat for 2 minutes, or until thick.
Turn off mixer, then fold in raspberries until just combined.  Pour into cooled pie crust and spread evenly.  Freeze for 2 hours, or until very firm.  Allow time to thaw before serving.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Sweet Corn Chowder

I realized on Sunday that is already August.  August!  As usual, this year has flown by and I have no idea where the time went.  As a kid, I remember it taking forever for Christmas to come, but now it seems to sneak up on me every year.  August means that we only have one more month of summer produce before the fall bounty starts coming in.  But I'm not quite ready!  I didn't use the summer flavors to their fullest.  So before apple season is upon us, I am going to share with you some awesome recipes to use up all of those summer fruits and vegetables before they go away.  First up: corn.  This recipe comes from Ari who runs both Baking and Books and The Vegetarian Family Table.  I lover her sites.  This is a tasty and very low fat recipe considering how creamy the end product is.  My husband described this as creamed corn soup, and he's pretty much dead on.  Sprinkle some cheddar cheese on top and you have a perfect summer meal.

Sweet Summer Corn Chowder

4 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 cup diced scallions, white and light green parts only (I omitted this)
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup flour
4 cups skim milk (use what you have, I used 1%)
2 cups vegetable stock
Kernels from 6 ears of corn
1/2 cup cheddar cheese

In a large soup pot or dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add the scallions and sugar and cook, stirring occasionally, until the scallions are soft, about 2-3 minutes.  Turn the heat down to medium and add the flour, stirring constantly until the mixture turns a light golden brown and smells cooked.
Add the milk and vegetable stock, stirring until it has combined with the flour mixture, about 2-3 minutes.
Add the corn kernels and bring to a boil.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the corn has cooked through, about 15 minutes.
Remove 1/4 cup of the kernels, then puree the chowder.  To do this: Remove the soup from the burner, and puree with a hand blender or a regular blender.  If you use a regular blender be sure not to create an airtight seal with the lid by closing the top entirely.  If you do, heat from the chowder will cause hot air to expand and splatter chowder all over you. (Believe me, it will.  I've done it before.  Not fun.  I have a hand blender now though, and it's much easier.)  If you have a hand blender, it's definitely the easier way to go.
Stir in the cheddar cheese and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Ladle the chowder into bowls and top with the reserved corn kernels.  I topped it with more cheddar too.
Note: For a thicker chowder, you can add 1 large peeled and diced baking potato to the pot when you add the corn kernels.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Chicken Pasties, or Chicken Hand Pies

One of my food blogging idols is Jaime on Sophistimom.  If you have not visited her site, please, go visit it and revel in her beautiful pictures and wonderful recipes.  I saw this amazing recipe on her site and just had to try it.  Not the least of the reasons why is because while reading Harry Potter my mouth always waters at the mention of pasties, and here is a recipe for one!  But that's a story for another time.  Today I'm paying tribute to Jaime and her beautiful blog.  These are essentially a chicken pot pie wrapped in a pastry, making it easily transportable.  And was it ever delicious.  I think I needed to use a little bit more of the chicken broth in the filling, and I think a little bit too much flour got into my pastry, but it was heavenly nonetheless.  When you see the method, please don't let it turn you off from making it.  It looks long, but it's not hard and doesn't even take up all that much time.  In fact, the pastry and the filling can both me made as early as the night before and then refrigerated until needed.  Make them for someone special for an extra treat.  Make them for a picnic or a camping trip.  They really are fabulous, and you will not regret it.

Chicken Pasties, or Chicken Hand Pies
by Jaime on Sophistimom

1 medium potato, peeled and diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, finely diced (I omitted this and added more celery to replace it)
1 stalk celery, finely diced (I added 1-2 stalks)
2 large carrots, chopped
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour
1 14-oz can chicken stock
1 bouillon cube or 1 tablespoon Better than Bouillon
Salt and pepper to taste
1-2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
Pastry dough (recipe follows)
1 egg, plus a teaspoon of water, beaten

Place potatoes in a medium saucepan, and cover with water.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Cook until potatoes are tender to the point of a knife.  Drain and set aside.  While the potatoes cook, set a large skillet over medium low heat and add in the olive oil, onion, celery, and carrots.  Cook until onions are very tender, about 12-15 minutes.
Melt butter into the mixture and stir in flour.  Let cook for 2 minutes or so, just to let the flour taste cook out.  Pour in about half of the can of chicken stock.  Add the bouillon and potatoes.  Let simmer for a few minutes and taste for flavor.  Add salt and pepper if needed.  Add in chicken and simmer until cooked through.  The mixture should be thick, but not too dry.  Add more chicken stock until you achieve the desired consistency (she used the whole can).  Store mixture in refrigerator until ready to use (the pies are easier to make if the filling is cold).
Preheat oven to 425.  Place a piece of parchment paper in a baking sheet and set aside.  Roll out the pastry dough on a floured surface 18x22-inch rectangle.  (A note on rolling: I have no idea how people get perfect circles or rectangles when rolling.  I never can.  So don't worry if some of your pies are misshapen - they will still taste good!)  Cut in half, then cut each half in thirds, to make 6 equal smaller rectangles.
Spoon 1/4 cup of the chicken mixture onto one of the rectangles of dough, placing it slightly off center.  Wet the edges of the dough with a pastry brush and water, and fold the longer end of the pastry up and over the filling.  Press the dough down to seal it, and then crimp with the edges of a fork.  Place on the prepared baking sheet.  Make two incisions in the top of the pastry with a sharp knife, and brush with the beaten egg and water.  Repeat with remaining 5 pastries.  Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown and puffed.


Pastry Dough

2 1/4 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon sugar (optional)
1 stick (1/2 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/3 cup ice cold water

In a food processor fitted with the blade attachment, pulse together the flour, salt and sugar.  Add in the butter, and pulse a few times until the mixture is crumbly and resembles coarse meal.  Combine the egg and water in a container (remove all ice pieces).  While the processor is running, pour the water/egg mixture in and pulse until mixture just comes together.
Pour mixture out onto a floured board and knead a few times to bring all the ingredients together. (I think this is where I got too much flour in the dough.  Be careful!)  Dough can be rolled out immediately, or it can be wrapped in plastic and refrigerated for up to 2 days.
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