Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

Recipe from Cooking Light magazine
1 package dry yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
1/4 cup warm water (100-110 degrees)
2 3/4 cups flour, divided
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup 1% milk
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (freshly grated has way better flavor than the stuff in jars)
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into small pieces
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon hot water
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1. Dissolve yeast in warm water in a large bowl; let stand for 5 minutes. Lightly spoon flour into measuring cups and level with knife. Add 2 cups flour, pumpkin, and next 5 ingredients (through nutmeg); beat with a mixer at medium speed until smooth. Turn dough out onto floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes); add enough of the remaining 3/4 cup of flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands (dough will feel tacky).
2. Place the dough in a large bowl, coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place, free from drafts, for 45 minutes or until doubled in size. Press two fingers into the dough. If an indentation remains, the dough has risen enough.
3. Combine the sugar, brown sugar, flour and cinnamon for the filling. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal.
4. Punch dough down; cover and let rest 5 minutes. Roll the dough into a 12X10-inch rectangle on a floured surface. Sprinkle with filling mixture. Roll up the rectangle tightly, starting with a long edge, pressing firmly to eliminate air pockets; pinch seam and ends to seal. Cut roll into 12 1-inch slices. Place slices in a 13X9 inch pan coated with cooking spray. Cover and let rise for 25 minutes or until doubled in size. *Tip: Use plain dental floss to slice through dough cleanly.
5. Preheat oven to 375. Bake the rolls for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool for 15 minutes in pan on a wire rack.
6. To prepare the glaze, combine all ingredients in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk until smooth. Drizzle glaze over buns. Serve warm.
*Note-You may want to double the glaze if you have frosting lovers in your house.

Pumpkin Waffles

This is one of the most delightful things I have eaten in a while!

2 1/2 cups flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger (I used grated fresh ginger, yummy!)
1/4 teaspoon cloves
4 large eggs, separated
2 cups well-shaken buttermilk
1 cup canned pumpkin (plain old pure pumpkin)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
vegetable oil for brushing waffle iron

Preheat oven to 250 and preheat waffle iron. Sift together flour, brown sugar, baking powder and soda, salt and spices. In another bowl, whisk egg yolks with buttermilk, pumpkin and butter until smooth. Whisk in dry ingredients just until combined.
In a mixing bowl with a whisk attachment, whisk the egg whites until they hold soft peaks. Fold them gently into the waffle batter, just until combined.
Brush waffle iron with oil and spoon batter into waffle iron, spreading quickly.
Transfer waffles to oven to keep warm and crisp.
Serve with maple syrup and chopped pecans.
The dry and the wet... Folding in the egg whites...
Bon appetit!
Recipe courtesy of Smitten Kitchen

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Monte Cristo Sandwich

My first Monte Cristo sandwich was at the Blue Bayou in Disneyland, and I was hooked. This version is called a 'Monte Cristo-Style Croque Monsieur', but all you need to know is it is heavenly.
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups milk
salt and pepper
ground nutmeg, to taste
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
8 slices white bread, choose a really soft French
12 thin slices baked ham
4 slices Swiss cheese, Emmanteler if available
2 large eggs
raspberry jam, for dipping
1. In a saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour, then 1 cup milk. Bring to a gentle boil; season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Cook for 2 minutes to thicken. Off the heat, stir in the mustard.
2. Spread the bread with the sauce, then layer 4 slices with the ham, cheese and remaining bread.
3. In a shallow bowl, beat the eggs with the remaining 1/2 cup milk. In a nonstick skillet, melt 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat. Soak 2 sandwiches in the egg mixture. Add the sandwiches to the skillet and cook, turning once, until golden, about 5 minutes. Repeat with remaining butter and sandwiches.
Serve with raspberry jam, if desired. But why wouldn't you desire that?

Recipe courtesy of Racheal Ray Magazine.

Sweet Potato Biscuits with Maple Butter

Recipe courtesy of Cooking Light
These turned out quite delicious and I look forward to making them again. They are especially good with ham and pork and really make a dinner special.
For the biscuits:
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup pureed cooked sweet potatoes, cooled (I used canned, shhhh)
1/3 cup fat-free milk (I used 1% and nothing bad happened!)
Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal-do not overwork the dough. Combine sweet potato and milk in a small bowl; add potato mixture to flour mixture, stirring just until moist.
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface (it will be a little crumbly); knead lightly 5 times. Roll dough to a 3/4-inch thickness; cut with a 2-inch biscuit cutter. Place biscuits on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray.
Bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Serve warm.
*Tip*: The key to flaky biscuits is to keep them cold. Make sure your butter stays cold and keep your baking sheet cold, I refrigerated the baking sheet with the biscuits for a while before I baked them.
For the maple butter:
6 tablespoons butter, softened
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1/8 teaspoon salt
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed 1 minute or until smooth. Cover and chill until use. Mmmmm!
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Buttermilk Pancakes

Nothing fancy here, but the kids love 'em!
This is our go-to for Saturday or Sunday morning. The kids request them over and over...although I have a whole list of other things I would prefer to make these keep the kids happy.
I have to admit they are pretty darn tasty, too. Ryan and the kids demand chocolate chip, I make myself a batch of blueberry when they are in season.
I have tried several 'from scratch' pancake recipes and these are the easiest and taste great, it is just the recipe out of the Better Homes and Gardens red plaid cookbook. They are a cinch to throw together in the morning but when I am really on the ball I will do it the night before and stick the batter in the fridge.
This is the standard pancake recipe with the 'buttermilk pancake' variation. The buttermilk is a necessity in my opinion-the texture and flavor are way way better.
In a medium bowl combine:
1 cup flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon flaxseed meal, optional
In another medium bowl combine:
1 beaten egg
1 cup buttermilk, plus more for thinning
2 tablespoons canola oil
Add egg mixture to dry mixture all at once, stirring just until moistened, batter will remain lumpy.
Stir in 2 tablespoons mini chocolate chips, if desired.
Let rest at least 5 minutes before ladling onto griddle.
Pour about 1/4-cup batter onto a hot, lightly greased griddle.
*Tip* When the whole family is eating I double the recipe. The kids like the leftovers the next morning.
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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Texas sheet cupcakes

Recipe courtesy of Cooking Light
This recipe nabs the award for "most requested cake" in our family. My Mom, in particular, must not think much of anything else I have ever baked because it is this cake that time and time again I get asked to bring.
I'm not sure why this cake is called Texas Sheet Cake, a friend from Texas claims he has never tasted this--the mystery deepens.
A friend of mine asked for this recipe and made it into cupcakes for her daughter's birthday, I thought it was a great idea so I made these for my Mom's birthday.
Texas Sheet Cake/Cupcakes
For the cake:
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 large eggs
6 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup fat-free milk
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted
Preheat oven to 375°.
Coat a 13 x 9-inch pan with cooking spray, and dust with 2 teaspoons flour. Set aside.
Lightly spoon 2 cups flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine 2 cups flour and next 4 ingredients (through salt) in a large bowl (or Kitchen-Aid), stirring well with a whisk.
Combine 3/4 cup water, 1/2 cup butter, and 1/4 cup cocoa in a small saucepan; bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Add to flour mixture. Beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until well blended. Add buttermilk, vanilla, and eggs; beat well. Pour batter into the prepared pan (or cupcake liners). Bake at 375° for 22-28 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Place on a wire rack.
Prepare the frosting while the cake is baking:
Combine butter, milk, and cocoa in a saucepan; bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Gradually stir in powdered sugar and remaining 2 teaspoons vanilla. Spread over hot cake. Sprinkle cake with pecans (I usually stir my pecans into the icing). Cool completely on wire rack.
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Sunday, September 6, 2009

That's rich

This recipe courtesy of Hershey's

This cake makes me wonder if Betty Crocker went to a remedial baking school. Alright people, step away from the box mix! This recipe is easy and only uses one bowl.

If you would just try this cake you would understand.

So moist, so decadent, so perfectly chocolate.

Hershey's "Perfectly Chocolate" Chocolate Cake

Heat your oven to 350 degrees and while you're at it...grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans (and if you really want to be sure your cake will slide right out then I suggest lining the bottom of your pan with wax paper--you know, just in case).

In a large bowl (or your Kitchen-Aid mixer) stir together:

2 cups sugar

1 3/4 cups flour

3/4 cup Hershey's cocoa powder

1 1/2 teaspoons each baking powder and baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

Then you will add:

2 eggs

1 cup milk

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 teaspoons vanilla

And beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Then stir in:

1 cup boiling water (I use a glass measuring cup in the microwave for 2 minutes while the mixture is beating--two birds, one stone...)

The batter will be thin, it's okay. Pour into your prepared pans, try to get an even amount in each pan while trying to hold off the voracious kids that are trying to snatch the bowl and spatula from you.

*13X9 pan directions* Prepare as above but bake 35-40 minutes.

Pop 'em in the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes and remove (hopefully in one piece) from the pan to cool completely on a wire rack.

Prepare the frosting while being careful to guard your cooling cakes from wandering fingers.

Please, you've come this far--do not, I repeat, do not use premade frosting!

"Perfectly Chocolate" Chocolate Frosting

1 stick of butter, melted

2/3 cup of Hershey's cocoa

3 cups powdered sugar

1/3 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

In a medium bowl stir the cocoa into the melted butter. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add a tiny bit more milk if needed. Stir in vanilla.

Once your cake is cooled: Place one cake on a plate or cake pedestal and frost the top generously. Place the other cake on top of the frosting, frost the top of that cake and then finish the sides. I find an offset spatula makes the job a little easier.

This cake seems so nostalgic to me, it reminds me of the cakes that are in Pollyanna when she is at the fair and the ones that are involved in the Hayley Mills vs. Hayley Mills fight in The Parent Trap...

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Saturday, September 5, 2009

Comfort me

This recipe courtesy of Cat Cora (Iron Chef)
I'm sorry to report that I did not grow up with very many "comfort foods"; but I am thrilled to have stumbled upon this recipe, for it became an instant classic for me and I hope my kids will enjoy it as they grow up. Plus, it's a perfect use for my leftover rice...
I love the texture of this rice pudding and how good it feels in my belly when it is warmed.
This can be eaten hot or cold, morning or night.
Place 2 cups cooked brown rice in a large bowl and rinse with cold water, drain well.
Pour 2 1/2 cups low-fat milk into a saucepan and place over medium-high heat. Add 1 teaspoon of cinnamon and vanilla and bring to a low boil.
Turn the heat down to low and whisk in 1/4 cup sugar, 1/8 teaspoon salt and the zest of one lemon. (If you don't have a lemon lying around, just skip it.)
Crack one egg into a small bowl and beat. Pour about 1/4-cup of the hot milk slowly into the beaten egg, whisking constantly. This will "temper" the egg and prevent it from scrambling.
Pour your tempered egg mixture back into the saucepan and stir. Add the rice and stir continuously over low heat until the mixture begins to thicken, about 20 minutes. (Next time I think I'll bribe one of the kids to do this step for me.)
Add 1 1/2 teaspoons unsalted butter and stir. Sprinkle with another 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon and serve.
*Serving Suggestion* Top with granola and a drizzle of honey. Serve warm with milk in bowls.
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Thursday, August 20, 2009

One for you, one dozen for me...

This is my all-time absolute, favorite cookie recipe, ever. I realize everyone has their own favorite but this one is mine. I usually heavily guard my top-secret, classified recipe, but for you two people that read this blog--the much coveted secret is finally being revealed. Shhhhhh!
(This recipe comes from Hershey's, with slight modifications.)
Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
Heat oven to 350.
One of the most wonderful things about this recipe is that it only uses one bowl, yippee!
I use my Kitchen-Aid, of course, but you can use a big bowl and a mixer.
Chop 1/2 cup nuts (1 cup if you are really nutty) and set aside. Please don't tell me you are one of those people who don't like nuts!
Cream together:
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar and 14 tablespoons of softened butter
Then stir in:
  • 1 tsp of vanilla and 1 egg; mix until light and fluffy
Stir in:
  • 2 cups quick oats, 1 1/2 cups flour, 1 tsp baking soda, 1/4 tsp salt*
*this is my modification, I add in 2 heaping tablespoons of ground flaxseed, you may also swap 1/2 a cup of regular flour for whole wheat flour without altering the taste
Stir in:
  • 1 cup semisweet* chocolate chips and the chopped walnuts, if desired
*sometimes I do half milk chocolate and half semisweet, it's like a party in my mouth
Bake for 9-11 minutes or until golden brown.
Warning: You may be compelled to take a cookie every time you pass through the kitchen. (I justify this by telling myself that the walnuts, flaxseed and oats are doing damage control on the butter and sugar as I digest. You can come up with your own excuse or feel free to use mine.)
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Bananas beware!

If I see three bananas sitting on my counter not getting eaten, I secretly hope they don't get eaten so I can turn them into this luscious bread. Add in the fact that everyone in my family is crazy about this bread and--bananas, your counter-sitting days are numbered!
Marbled-Chocolate Banana Bread
2 cups flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups mashed banana, about 3 medium
1/2 cup egg substitute
1/3 cup plain low-fat yogurt ( I prefer Greek)
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • Combine flour, baking soda and salt, stirring with a whisk. Set aside. If desired, this is where I usually add in 2 tablespoons of ground flax seed.
  • Mash the bananas in another bowl. Set aside.
  • Place sugar and butter in a large bowl ( I use my Kitchen-Aid); beat until well blended-about a minute. Add banana, egg substitute and yogurt; beat until blended.
  • Add flour mixture; beat on low just until moist.
  • Place chocolate chips in a medium bowl and microwave in 15-second intervals, stirring in between, until melted and smooth. Cool slightly.
  • Add 1 cup of batter to the melted chocolate, stirring until combined.
  • Spoon chocolate batter alternately with plain batter into a loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Swirl batters by running a knife lengthwise and then from side to side.
  • Bake at 350 for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes in the pan and then remove and cool completely on a wire rack. Yield:16 slices

Tip: Don't cover the top of the bread, it will cause the delectable top crust to become soggy.

Guilty pleasure: Toast a slice of the bread and slather with peanut butter...you must try this, it is such a treat!

Sorry this is post is all centered...having technical difficulties!
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Monkeyin' around

Monkey Bread (Pull-aparts)
This photo looks like it was taken in 1978; however, in my defense, I made this at the cabin and the kitchen looks like it is from the 1970's as well as the plate it is sitting on....so it all works.
This satisfies the kids (and Ryan's) requests for cinnamon rolls and it is way less effort.
  • Thaw 24 Rhodes white dinner rolls, this takes about an hour. Cut each roll in half.
  • In a medium bowl, mix 1 cup brown sugar with 3 tsp cinnamon and 1/2 cup chopped pecans, if desired.
  • In another bowl, melt 1/2 cup butter.

Spray a bundt cake pan with Pam. Dip the roll halves in the melted butter and then in the cinnamon sugar and put in the bundt pan. Spray the tops of the rolls with Pam and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled in size (2-3 hours). Remove wrap and bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes. Cover with foil the last 15 minutes of baking. Immediately after baking, loosen the edges with a knife and invert onto a plate.

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What a surprise to see a post about zucchini in August, I know. It's just that time of year. And it's pretty much the only thing actually producing in my garden, aside from my sweet peppers.
Here are just a few things I have done with my zucchini so far this season....the other things got eaten before I remembered to photograph them! Sorry if this feels a bit like Pvt. Benjamin Buford "Bubba" Blue...
Oh yeah, and the title comes from Kian...I say zucchini, he says new-kini.

Fried Zucchini

First, I cut the zucchini into quarters and halved lengthwise.

Then, I mixed up some regular breadcrumbs, panko breadcrumbs, salt and pepper, parmesan cheese, garlic powder, and a smattering of Italian seasoning in a bowl.

Then I cracked and beat an egg in another bowl.

Next, I dipped each piece of zucchini in the egg and dredged through the breadcrumb mixture.

Sometimes I faux-fry these in the oven but since it was already too hot in the house I decided to do the real deal. I heated olive oil in a skillet. When it was good and hot I started adding pieces of zucchini and would turn them to let them brown on each side. Once out, I drained them on paper towels and then spooned more parmesan cheese over them. Now, I am not a huge fan of ranch dressing--but for some reason, these beg to be dipped in it.

These are almost as good as the ones on the pier from Riva in Santa Cruz. Almost.

BBQ'd Zucchini

So easy....Slice the zucchini lengthwise into 1/4" thick pieces. Drizzle the slices with olive oil and sprinkle generously with Creole seasoning. Barbecue to your hearts content.

'Sauteed' Zucchini
This is the traditional method my Mom uses to make zucchini. I don't know who showed her this....maybe her Mom?
Slice up the zucchini into 1/8" thick slices. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil and bit of butter in a pot. Add the zucchini and stir to coat pieces with oil. Let sit to saute and cook through. Stir every few minutes. It's okay to let the pieces on the bottom brown, in fact, a fight usually breaks out over who is taking all the "brown pieces".
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Friday, July 24, 2009

A Secret Combination

I think that chocolate+peanut butter+oats=a secret combination. There is just something magical and delicious that happens when these things mix together. I have three similar recipes that I will post here.
Today Kian and I tried out the most recent addition:

Recipe #1 Swirl Bars
Preheat oven to 350 and grease a 13X9 pan.

In a large bowl beat together:
1 stick softened, unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 tsp vanilla
In another bowl mix together:
1 cup flour
1 cup quick oats
1/4 tsp salt

On low speed, beat flour mixture into butter mixture until just combined. Press dough into pan.
Sprinkle 1 cup chocolate chips over top. Bake for 20 minutes.

To make the icing blend together: 1 cup powdered sugar, 1/4 cup peanut butter and 3 tablespoons milk until smooth.

Pour icing over uncut bars while still warm and swirl chips with icing. Cool completely in the pan. I like to keep them in the fridge, it's yummy when the icing is hard.

Recipe #2 Oh Henry Bars
In a small saucepan heat until dissolved:
1/2 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla
Stir in 4 cups of oats and 1 cup of chocolate chips

Press into greased 13X9 pan. Bake at 375 for 15 minutes--do not overbake! Let cool and cut into bars.
These bars are super chewy...good for stress eating; )

Recipe #3 Chewy Oatmeal Peanut Butter Bars
Preheat oven to 350 and grease a 13X9 pan.

Melt 2 sticks of butter in a large glass bowl. Add 4 cups oats, 1 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup corn syrup and stir until well combined. Press oat mixture into pan and bake for 20-23 minutes until edges are set and center is still slightly jiggly. Cool completely.

Combine 1 cup semisweet or milk chocolate chips with 3/4 cup peanut butter in a small saucepan until melted and mixture is smooth, stir frequently. Spread chocolate mixture over cooled oat crust. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 1 hour or until firm.

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A hot little pocket

This recipe is courtesy of Cooking Light

Tex-Mex Calzones

We just love Tex-Mex 'round here! I did all my chopping while Millie was napping so this was really quick to throw together for dinner. This is just like a home-made hot pocket, there are endless combinations you could try!
Next time I'll make a double batch of the filling and freeze half for later, you will have enough produce and turkey to double the recipe if you want to, just remember to buy two pizza crusts.

8 ounces ground turkey breast*
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder, try chipotle chili powder for heat
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup fat-free fire-roasted salsa verde
1 (11-ounce) can refrigerated thin-crust pizza dough
3/4 cup shredded Mexican blend cheese
Cooking spray
1/4 cup fat-free sour cream

1. Preheat oven to 425°.
2. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add ground turkey to pan; cook 3 minutes, stirring to crumble. Add onion and next 5 ingredients (through garlic) to pan; cook 4 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender, stirring mixture occasionally. Remove turkey mixture from heat; stir in salsa.
3. Unroll dough; divide into 4 equal portions. Roll each portion into a 6 x 4–inch rectangle. Spoon about 1/2 cup turkey mixture on one side of each dough rectangle. Top with 3 tablespoons cheese; fold dough over turkey mixture, and press edges together with a fork to seal. Place on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 425° for 12 minutes or until browned. Serve with sour cream.

*If you have leftover chicken you can just chop that up and use in place of turkey, 2 cups.

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Sunday, July 12, 2009

Caprese me

Have I mentioned how much we love panini?

Thanks to the Barefoot Contessa for this one!

Tomato, Mozzarella and Pesto Panini
2 large ripe beefsteak tomatoes, cored and sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 16-ounce ball fresh mozzarella, sliced 1/4-inch thick
12 slices bakery white bread, sliced 1/2-inch thick
1 cup prepared pesto
kosher salt
6 slices prosciutto
unsalted butter, room temperature

Preheat your panini grill.
Spread each piece of bread evenly with a thin layer of pesto sauce. Place a layer of mozzarella slices and tomato slices on half of the slices of bread. Sprinkle tomatoes with salt. Top with prosciutto and remaining bread slices. Spread the top and bottom of each sandwich with softened butter. Grill the sandwiches for 2-3 minutes, until the mozzarella starts to ooze. Cut sandwiches in half and serve warm.

These were so delicious, I think they would have been wonderful on sourdough bread and even without the prosciutto (a little pricey!).

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Don't knock it 'til you try it!

Caution: Not a low calorie food.

Strawberry-Pretzel Salad
2 2/3 cups broken up pretzel pieces
3/4 cup melted butter
Mix together and press into bottom of 9x13 pan. Bake at 400 for 10-12 minutes. Let cool.
12 ounces cream cheese, brought to room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
Mix together and spread over pretzel layer.
8 ounces whipped topping
Spread over chilled cream cheese layer.
6-ounces strawberry jell-o dissolved in 2 cups boiling water
Stir in 20 ounces frozen strawberries or about 3 cups of fresh sliced strawberries. Allow to cool and start to jelly, then pour over the chilled whipped cream layer.

Let set up completely in the fridge before serving.

Don't be fooled by the word "salad" in the title, this is a dessert! Thanks Grammare for the yummy recipe.

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Sunday, July 5, 2009

Crazy for Panini

We just love our panini maker. Ryan was on a kick of panini'ing everything right after we got it. I picked up this recipe while perusing Williams-Sonoma. I love that you cook everything right inside your panini grill so there isn't much clean-up! 2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1/4 cup olive oil
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup smoky bacon BBQ sauce
1 large red onion, cut into 1/4-inch rings
1 large piece focaccia (about 8 by 7 inches)
8 slices Provolone cheese

Rub the chicken breasts with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place the chicken on a preheated panini press, close the lid and cook until nicely grill-marked, about 6 minutes. Turn the chicken over, rotating 90 degrees. Close the lid and continue cooking until the chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes more. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and cut into 1-inch pieces. Transfer to a bowl, add the barbecue sauce and stir to combine.
Reduce the heat on the panini press to the lowest setting. In another bowl, stir together the onion rings, 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, 3/4 teaspoon salt and a pinch of pepper. Arrange the onion rings on the panini press, close the lid and cook, stirring occassionally, until they are soft and golden, 12-14 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.
Wipe the panini press clean. Cut the focaccia in half horizontally. Brush the outside of the focaccia halves with the remaning olive oil. Place the bottom half, cut side up, on a work surface. Arrange the chicken in an even layer on top, then top with the onion rings and cheese. Cover with the top half of the focaccia, cut side down.
Place the sandwich on the grill, close the lid, and cook until bread is nicely grill-marked and the cheese is melted, about 6 minutes.
Transfer the sandwich to a cutting board and cut into 4 equal pieces. Serve immediately. Serves 4.
Tip: To save time and use leftovers I have used rotisserie chicken.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

This recipe is from Everyday with Racheal Ray magazine.Ryan kept saying "this has such a great flavor" over and over so I thought it worthy of my blog. My nectarines went bad before I used them so I substituted white peaches and I also didn't have whole wheat penne so I used regular rigatoni, I am all about making a recipe work with things I have on hand.

1 pound whole wheat penne pasta
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
3 ribs celery, chopped
8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
4 nectarines, 3 coarsely chopped and 1 sliced
1 bunch chives, cut into 1/2-inch lengths
3/4 cup coarsely chopped salted, roasted pecans

In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the pasta until al dente. Drain and rinse with cold water.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, sour cream, lemon juice, cumin and 1/4 cup water. Add the pasta nd toss to coat; let sit for 10 minutes. Stir in the celery, bacon, chopped nectarines, half of the chives and half of the pecans.
To serve, top the pasta with the remaining chives, pecans and the sliced nectarine.
Tip: Substitute pears for the nectarines in the fall.

Psst, I forgot to add the 1/4 cup of water so mine is probably a little creamier than the recipe intended.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Strawberry Layer Cake

Recipe from Cooking Light

This cake is so deliciously moist and sweet!

1 1/4 cups sliced strawberries
2 1/4 cups flour
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 large eggs
2 large egg whites
1 cup low-fat buttermilk
1/4 teaspoon red food coloring
Cooking spray
1/3 cup (3 ounces) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
1/3 cup butter, softened
2 fresh orange juice
3 cups powdered sugar
12 whole strawberries (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350°.
2. To prepare cake, place sliced strawberries in a food processor; process until smooth.
3. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt, stirring with a whisk. Place granulated sugar and 1/2 cup butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in egg whites. Add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Add pureed strawberries and food coloring; beat just until blended.
4. Divide batter between 2 (8-inch) round cake pans coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pans; cool completely on wire racks.
5. To prepare frosting, place cream cheese, 1/3 cup butter, and orange juice in a medium bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until blended. Gradually add powdered sugar, and beat just until blended.
6. Place 1 cake layer on a plate; spread with 1/2 cup frosting. Top with remaining cake layer. Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake. Cut 1 whole strawberry into thin slices, cutting to, but not through, the stem end. Fan strawberry on top of cake just before serving, if desired. Cut remaining 11 strawberries in half. Garnish cake with strawberry halves, if desired.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Quadruple Chocolate Loaf Cake

Recipe courtesy of Nigella Lawson
Warning: for chocolate lovers only
1 2/3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup cocoa
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 1/2 sticks soft unsalted butter
2 eggs
1 tablespoon good-quality vanilla extract
1/3 cup sour cream
1/2 cup boiling water
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon cocoa
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1-ounce dark chocolate (from a thick bar if possible), cut into splinters of varying thickness, for garnish

Special equipment: 2-pound loaf tin (approximately 9 1/2 by 4 1/2 by 3 inches deep), lined with greased foil, pressed into the corners and with some overhang at the top.

Take whatever you need out of the refrigerator so that all ingredients can come room temperature.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F, putting in a baking sheet as you do so.
Put the flour, baking soda, cocoa, sugar, butter, eggs, vanilla, and sour cream into the processor and blitz until a smooth, satiny brown batter. Scrape down with a rubber spatula and process again while pouring the boiling water down the funnel. Switch it off, then remove the lid and the well-scraped double-bladed knife and, still using your rubber spatula, stir in the chocolate chips or morsels.
Scrape and pour the batter into the prepared loaf tin and put into the oven, cooking for about 1 hour. When ready, the loaf will be risen and split down the middle and a cake-tester will pretty well come out clean.
Not long before the cake is due out of the oven (when it has had about 45 to 50 minutes), put the syrup ingredients of cocoa, water and sugar into a small saucepan and boil for about 5 minutes, to give a thick syrup.
Take the cake out of the oven and sit it on a cooling rack, still in the tin, and pierce here and there with a cake tester. Pour the syrup over the cake.
Let the cake become completely cold and then slip out of its tin, removing the foil as you do so. Sit on an oblong or other plate. Sprinkle the chocolate splinters over the top of the sticky surface of the cake

Power balls

Yeah, I don't like the name of this treat, either...we'll have to come up with our own new name for them I guess. Send your ideas my way!1 c. peanut butter
1 c. honey
3 c. oatmeal
1/2 c. raisins or other dried fruit
1/2 c. nuts or sunflower seeds, I prefer cashews
1/2c. flax seed meal
I also added in some rice krispies for crunch, these are really a free-for-all

For some reason I badly wanted to roll these in sesame seeds but I didn't have any...maybe next time!

Mix honey and peanut butter. Stir in oats, add in everything else and roll into balls. Put in fridge to firm.
Warning: Be careful if using your KitchenAid mixer, I bent my whisk attachment trying to incorporate all the ingredients! Then I broke my wooden spoon in half trying to stir the rest of the way. Maybe I'll just get in their with my hands next time...

Enchilada Casserole

Recipe from 'Pampered Chef'
This is a really fast meal to throw together and it warms in the microwave for those days you don't want to turn the oven on.

1 lb 95% lean ground beef
1 tbsp taco seasoning (no sodium)
¼ tsp salt (omit if using full sodium taco seasoning)
1 can enchilada sauce
¼ cup water
½ cup medium thick and chunky salsa
12 yellow corn tortillas
¼ cup snipped fresh cilantro, divided
1 cup shredded Colby & Monterey Jack cheese blend, divided
Sour Cream and lime wedges (optional)

I like to stir about a half cup black beans in with the meat mixture for extra fiber and to make it more filling.

1. Combine beef, seasoning mix and salt in 10 inch skillet. Cook over medium – high heat 8-10 minutes or until beef is no longer pink, breaking beef into crumbles. Add enchilada sauce, water and salsa to skillet. Bring to a simmer and remove from heat.
2. As beef mixture cooks, place tortillas in a stack and cut into 1 inch pieces. Snip cilantro easily using Kitchen Shears.
3. Arrange half of the tortillas evenly over bottom of deep casserole dish; top with half of the beef mixture and half of the cheese. Sprinkle 2 tbsp of the cilantro over cheese. Top with remaining tortillas, beef mixture and cheese.
4. Microwave dish on HIGH 3-5 minutes or until cheese is melted. Garnish with remaining 2 tbsp cilantro. Serve with sour cream and lime wedges, if desired.Yield 6 servings

For a variation, swap ground turkey for the beef and a green enchilada sauce for the red.

Father's Day scones

I made these when we were living in Provo quite a bit but I haven't made them since. Ryan has asked for them from time to time so I surprised him by making them on Father's Day for breakfast. Oh, and bacon too, of course.

1 3/4 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
1/2 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips
3 tablespoons orange juice

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. With a pastry blender or a large fork, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the chocolate chips. Mix in the orange juice to form a dough.
Turn out the dough on a floured surface. Pat or roll into a 9 inch circle about 1/2 inch thick. With a 2 1/2 inch fluted biscuit cutter, cut out 12 scones, pushing the dough scraps together for the last few, if necessary. Transfer the scones to the baking sheet.
Bake in preheated oven until golden brown, about 12 minutes. Move to wire racks to cool.