Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Oreo Truffles

This recipe is as easy to make as they are delicious. I bring these to many holiday parties and yet somehow I never end up bringing any home. Hmm...



Oreo Truffles

1 package Oreos (for Christmas try mint ones!)
8 oz package of cream cheese, softened
2 packages (16 oz total) semi-sweet Bakers chocolate, melted

Smash up the Oreos into crumbled pieces in your favorite fashion. I've used a blender, a rolling pin, a potato smasher, a hammer, and a fork. It's fun just whacking the daylights out of cookies. Add the softened cream cheese to the crumbs and mix together thoroughly.

Roll into 1 inch balls and dip these in the melted chocolate. Place onto wax paper to cool. Refrigerate leftovers.

Meatball Cassoulet

Cassoulet is a rustic stew from France that's traditionally made using white beans and a variety of meats. Work-saving frozen meatballs and a crock pot make this version extra easy! Navy or cannelli (white kidney) beans are tasty options as well. I used chick peas because that's what I had on hand and that's what my family likes.


Meatball Cassoulet

2 15 oz cans Garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
4 cups vegetable or tomato juice
12 oz frozen cooked Italian meatballs, thawed
8 oz cooked smoked turkey Polish sausage, sliced (Jennie O's is my favorite)
1 finely chopped carrot
1 finely chopped celery stalk
1 cup chopped onion
1 tbsp Worchestershire sauce
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp paprika

Combine all ingredients into a slow cooker and cook on low 8-9 hours or high 4-5 hours.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Chocolate Toffee Pie

This entry will not have a photo because the pie was devoured in minutes by some of my great friends. And since I did not wish to cut the pie, take out a piece, photograph it, and then put it back before taking it to a party, ahem. You're just going to have to use your imagination. My recipe is an offshoot of one by Kraft. That one utilizes pecans but I know quite a few of my friends either have nut allergies or do not care for the taste of them. But you can check out the pictures over there and they look deliciously similar!


Chocolate Toffee Pie

3 oz bittersweet chocolate
1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 oreo pastry shell
2 3 oz packages of instant chocolate pudding
2 cups of 2% milk
1 tub of cool whip, thawed
desired amount of toffee

In a small sauce pan melt the chocolate. Remove from heat and add the condensed milk. Pour the mixture over the pastry shell. Layer your desired amount of toffee over this. I usually do about 3-4 oz.

In a mixing bowl add the pudding mix and the milk and whip for about 2 minutes. Spoon 1 1/2 cups of this over the toffee. Mix half of the Cool Whip with the remaining pudding and put that on top.

Finally top all of that with the remaining half of the Cool Whip. If you want to get all fancy shave some chocolate strips or garnish with more toffee.




AND! the best part of making this, besides my friends delightful reaction was the endless Cool Whip laughs around our house.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Cranberry Orange Muffins

The first Sunday of every month I am on our church's baking team, where I am to bring 10 dozen mini muffins to church to help feed the goers. Here is half of what I made (the other being boring banana nut muffins)



Cranberry Orange Muffins

1 cup dried cranberries (or craisins, or cherries!)
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
2/3 cup granulated sugar, plus up to 1 tablespoon for topping, if desired
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup milk

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Put the cranberries and orange juice in a small saucepan, and bring just to a simmer over medium heat. Remove berries from the heat, and set aside to cool and plump. Drain off any excess liquid and set aside.

Line muffin tins with papers or lightly brush a tin with butter. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl and set aside.

In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or with an electric hand-held mixer in a large bowl, cream the butter, orange zest, and 2/3 cup sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Remove the bowl from the mixer.

Fold the flour in 3 parts into the butter mixture, alternating with the milk in 2 parts, until just combined. Fold in the cranberries. Do not over mix. Divide the batter evenly into the muffin tin and sprinkle the tops with sugar.

Bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes. Cool muffins in the pan on a rack. Serve warm.

Potato Soup with Ham

Each year my brother and I lovingly squabble over who gets to take home the Thanksgiving ham bone so we can transform it into some delicious soup. This year was my year and here is what I made. Sorry no photo. The broth wouldn't look right when I photographed it! So rather than an unappetizing photo, better none at all :) I made a double batch of this!


Potato Soup with Ham

2 cups red potatoes, quartered
3 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, chopped fine
3 tablespoons flour
cayenne pepper
black pepper
3 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup cooked, cubed ham
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
fresh chopped parsley or chives for garnish, if desire

Cook potatoes in boiling water until tender. Drain; reserve 1 cup of the liquid.Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add onion; cook, stirring, until tender. Stir in flour; season with red and black pepper. Cook for about 3 more minutes, stirring. Add potatoes, reserved liquid, milk, and salt; stir well. Add ham; simmer for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and let cool for about 5 minutes. Add cheese; stir until melted. Top with fresh parsley or chives, if desired.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Pumpkin Pancakes



Pumpkin Pancakes

2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 egg
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

In a bowl
mix together the milk, pumpkin, egg, and oil. Combine the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, allspice, cinnamon, ginger and salt, stir into the pumpkin mixture just enough to combine.

Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each pancake. Brown on both sides and serve hot.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Cherry Cobbler

My tastes border on fanatical when it comes to cherries. I have yet to find a setting where I do not gravitate & salivate over these little red fruits. This combines my favorite fruit with, in my opinion, a cold weather staple, cobbler.



Cherry Cobbler


base:
2 cups pitted sour cherries
3/4 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour


crisp topping:

1/2 cup walnut bits

1/2 cup flour

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 tsp cinnamon
3 tbsp chilled butter, cut into bits

1 cup rolled oats

1 egg white


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Place cherries into the bowl, and toss with the remaining 3/4 cup of sugar and 1 tablespoon of flour. Distribute the cherry mixture evenly over the bottom of a greased 9 X 13 inch dish.

In another bowl combine the remaining ingredients and toss. Then pour over cherry mixture.

Bake uncovered in the oven for 30 minutes.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Pizza

Ah the universally pleasing food - PIZZA! Endless combinations and customizations, that is my favorite part about making pizza. You can make several dough balls and pop them in the freezer, then pull one out and thaw it a few hours before you're ready to get baking! My daughter Olive has a bit of an acid sensitivity so we tend to make a lot of white pizzas with a homemade oil sauce. My favorite white pizza is mozzarella cheese, pine nuts, tomato, and spinach. The below pictured pizza is half pepperoni/cheese, half red onion/tomato/pepperoni



Pizza

dough-


* 1 teaspoon white sugar
* 1 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
* 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
* 1 tablespoon olive oil
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 2 cups whole wheat flour
* 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour


Dissolve sugar in the water and sprinkle with yeast. Set aside for 10 minutes to get frothy.

Stir the olive oil and salt into the yeast mixture, then mix in the whole wheat flour and 1 cup of the all-purpose flour until dough starts to come together. Tip dough out onto a surface floured with the remaining all-purpose flour, and knead until all of the flour has been absorbed, and the ball of dough becomes smooth, about 10 minutes. Place dough in an oiled bowl, and turn to coat the surface. Cover loosely with a towel, and let stand in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

When the dough is doubled, tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and divide into 2 pieces for 2 thin crust, or leave whole to make one thick crust. Form into a tight ball. Let rise for about 45 minutes, until doubled.

Roll out to desired thinness. This recipe makes two thin crust pizzas or one thick. Top as desired.

Bake at 425 15-20 minutes. For extra crispiness put the dough onto the rack while baking.



Pizza Oil-


1 1/2 cups extra virgin olive oil

1-2 tsp each basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary

1 tsp salt


Store in an airtight jar, let flavors infuse together for several hours. The longer the better! Refrigerate any leftovers.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Iced Pumpkin Cookies

This is the simplest of recipes. I've made these two weeks in a row and they do not last long! I recommend doubling the recipe, which uses up an entire can of pumpkin basically. But if you have other plans for the remainder of the can, by all means stick to the below mentioned




Iced Pumpkin Cookies

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Glaze:

2 cups confectioners' sugar
3 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves, and salt; set it aside.

(Here I used my stand mixer but you can use a large bowl with a hand mixer too.) Cream together the 1/2 cup of butter and white sugar. Add pumpkin, egg, and 1 teaspoon vanilla to butter mixture, and beat until creamy. Mix in dry ingredients. Drop on cookie sheet by tablespoonfuls; flatten slightly.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes in the preheated oven. Cool cookies, then drizzle glaze with fork. (You can also use a cream cheese frosting for these!)

To Make Glaze: Combine confectioners' sugar, milk, 1 tablespoon melted butter, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Add milk as needed, to achieve drizzling consistency.




If I could pay our babysitter in cookies I would!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Pumpkin Walnut Muffins

I would like to give whomever invented this recipe a big smack on the lips. I think you'll agree. This recipe is worth the wait it takes to make it!



Pumpkin Walnut Muffins

2 cups sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin
1/2 cup water
2 cups bread flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups raisins
1 cup chopped walnuts.

In a large bowl mix together the sugar, veggie oil, eggs, pumpkin, and water. Set aside. In another bowl mix together the remaining ingredients. Let stand at room temp for 1 hour.

Scoop into lined or greased muffin tins and bake at 400 for 15 minutes for regular sized muffins, 12-14 minutes for minis.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Chicken Lentil Soup

Today is rainy and just blah outside so I decided to make some warm comfort food. We also desperately need groceries so in such situations I always make something with dried beans or other bulk food I tend to push to the back of the cabinet. This recipe makes enough for 4.

I will add here that my camera is still kaput so I am stealing this photo from the Food Network. I swear it looks like this though! Well mine doesnt use any garnish but feel free to if that is your bag.



Chicken Lentil Soup

1 cup of lentils
5 cups of hot water
4 chicken bullion cubes
4 medium tomatoes, chopped (I used roma so if using a larger variety of tomato use less of them)
3 medium carrots, chopped
1 medium potato, peeled and chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp cumin
salt & pepper to taste
1 chicken breast, cooked & cut into bite size pieces

My preferred way of eating lentil soup is the traditional way - having it slightly pureed. I have had it with no amount of pureeing done and it's been equally fabulous. If you don't want yours to be pureed you can add the raw chicken to the pot from the jump and it will cook along with all of the ingredients.

Combine all ingredients except chicken and simmer on low 15-25 minutes. Once the lentils loose their bite and the onions are translucent pop it into a blender and puree it to your desired consistency. Add the chicken and enjoy!

This would be ridiculously easy to vegetarian or vegan-ized.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

The taste of fall to me is pumpkin, pumpkin, and more pumpkin. My husband is obsessed with these muffins. I made jumbo ones and if you go that route add 5-10 minutes of bake time on. As always do the ol' toothpick coming out clean test to check for doneness.


Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

3/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
3/4 cup canned pumpkin
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 - 1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease and flour the pan or use paper liners.

Mix sugar, oil, eggs, pumpkin, and water together in a bowl. In a separate bowl mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spice, salt, and chocolate chips. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir just until blended. Do not overmix.

Pour into muffin tins and bake 20-25 minutes.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Corn & Potato Soup

I find this to be the perfect soup to eat on a cool evening. It's so satisfying to feel that warmth fill your belly. This recipe (and photo, since it was a rainy day out and I couldn't for the life of me get a good shot) is from Mothering Magazine.



Corn and Potato Soup

2 tsp olive oil
1/2 cup onion, diced (I used green onion)
1 tsp garlic, minced
1/2 tsp cumin
4 cups fresh corn kernels (about 4-5 ears worth)
2 1/2 cups red potatoes, cut into bite size pieces
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh pepper
1 quart vegetable stock
6 oz of 1% milk
1 tsp cilantro (optional)

Heat oil in a 6-8 quart pot and saute onion, garlic, and cumin over medium heat until the onion is translucent. Then add the corn, potatoes, salt, pepper, and stock. Bring this to a boil then reduce heat and simmer about 20 minutes or until the potatoes are nice and soft. Top it off with the milk and cilantro if you're using it and serve.

SO GOOD!

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Lactation Cookies

When any of my friends has a baby I make these cookies for them. It helps boost a woman's milk supply with the use of the flax seeds, oats, and brewer's yeast. Though rest assured this recipe will not make you lactate or do anything funny if you're not a new mother :)



Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Lactation Cookies

1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
4 tbsp water
2 tbsp flaxseed
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
3 cups rolled oats
1 cup chocolate chips
2-4 tbsp brewer's yeast

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

In a small bowl mix together the water and flaxseeds. Set aside for 3-5 minutes*

Beat together sugars and butter until creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well in between each addition. Add the flaxseeds and vanilla. Again, beat well.

In a small mixing bowl sift together the flour, baking soda, oats, chocolate chips, and salt. Then add this to the buttery ingredients. Be careful not to overmix of your cookies will become tough.

Scoop onto baking sheet and bake for 12 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.



*This method is great for subbing in all kinds of baking situations where you lack an egg. Just don't try it with an omelet!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Texas Black Bean Soup

Crockpots, who doesn't love them? As a mom I live by this thing certain days because I don't even have time to finish a hot cup of coffee let alone prepare a nice meal. This recipe was sent to me by my friend Leesa and it did not disappoint!



Texas Black Bean Soup

2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (14.5 ounce) can stewed tomatoes
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, or diced tomatoes with green chilies
1 (14.5 ounce) can chicken broth
1 (11 ounce) can Mexicorn, drained
2 (4 ounce) cans chopped green chilies
4 green onions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried minced garlic

In a slow cooker, combine all ingredients. Cover and cook on high for 4-5 hours or until heated through.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Peach Muffins

Every Sunday our church provides 20-30 dozen mini muffins for the goers to enjoy. 2 perhaps 3 weeks ago someone brought in muffins made with the following recipe and I am nearly embarrassed (nearly, but not really) at how many I ate! I tracked this person down friend to friend and she sent me the recipe (from Allrecipes.com). These taste surprisingly similar to snickerdoodles I swear!




Peach Muffins

3 cups all purpose flour
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups sugar
2 cups peaches, pitted and peeled

Preheat oven to 350.

In a large bowl, mix flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, mix the oil, eggs, and sugar. Stir the oil mixture into the the flour mixture just until moist.

Fold in the peaches. Spoon into the prepared muffin cups. This recipe is for 16 standard muffins but I made 3 dozen mini muffins, and 3 jumbo muffins.

Bake 25 minutes if making traditional cupcake/muffin size or jumbo, about 10-15 for mini muffins. Basically just keep checking until they are brown on top and a toothpick comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes before turning out onto wire racks to cool completely.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Bread pt 3

Are you sick of me making bread yet? I just love experimenting! For some, finding the right recipe for any given meal or single food seems tedious, exhausting, too much effort, or you'd rather just make do with the meal/food that you've got because that is what you are comfortable with. Me, this is not true. I pick and prod and explore and attempt (sometimes futilely!) to find and prepare the meals that I feel suit my family and I's palette best. Finally I will make peace that this is the bread for us. I have made it 4 times now with much delight for everyone involved. This recipe comes from The Queen herself! (Martha Stewart)

This makes one 9 inch loaf.



Whole Wheat Bread

1 cup whole wheat flour
2 tbsp bran
1 cup water
3/4 cup warm whole milk
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 tbsp + 1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast (or 2 packets)
2 tbsp coarse ground cornmeal (I like Bob's Red Mill)
3 tbsp + 2 tsp old fashioned rolled oats
3 tbsp ground flaxseeds + 1 tsp whole for sprinkling
2 tsp salt
2 1/2 - 3 cups bread flour

Mix the whole wheat flour, bran, and water in a bowl and set aside for 30 minutes.

In a small bowl mix together the warm milk and sugar. Stir until the sugar is dissolved then add the yeast. This will take about 5-10 minutes to get frothy.

In a mixing bowl add the flour mixture, the yeast mixture, cornmeal, 3 tbsp oats, 3 tbsp flaxseeds, and salt and mix on medium speed until combined. With you dough hook on, add the bread flour and mix all of this together about 2 minutes until well combined. Once it is, knead it for another 5 minutes until it is elastic.

In a warm, draft free place cover this and let it rise for at least an hour. You can refrigerate this but bring it to room temperature before baking later. Punch it down and line a bread pan with parchment paper and spray or brush it with oil. Turn the dough into it and let it rise again (about 45 minutes).

Preheat oven to 400. Martha says to "mist the oven" when you put it in, then wait 5 minutes and "mist again". If you're into that, go for it, but I just popped mine in and it turned out beautifully. The misting provides a nicer crust apparently. Continue baking 25-30 minutes turning once during baking. Turn out onto wire rack to cool.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Blueberry Peach Pie

I bought a few peaches yesterday. haha. I've been really getting into them recently. Last week I made the best blueberry peace pie and it was indeed blogworthy I felt. Sometimes I make my own pastry, sometimes not. Whole Foods usually sells whole wheat crusts which is very convenient.


Blueberry Peach Pie

pastry shell: (this makes two 9inch crusts)
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup plus 2 tbsp shortening
4-5 tbsp cold water

Mix flour and salt in a medium bowl. Cut shorteing in using a pastry blender until particles are the size of peas. Sprinkle with cold water, 1 tbsp at a time, tossing with fork until all flour is moistened and pastry almost leaves the sides of the bowl. If needed add 1-2 more tbsp of water.

Gather the pastry, halve it into two balls and shape into a flattened rounds on a floured surface. If you like your pastry more flaky, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for 30 minutes before proceeding. Roll pastry onto lightly floured surface until it is 2 inches larger than your pie pan. Press this into your pie pan. Cut slits in what will be the top pastry.

filling:
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 cups fresh blueberries
2 1/2 cups fresh sliced peaches (2-3 medium peaches)
1 tbsp butter if desired

Heat oven to 425 degrees.

Mix sugar, flour, and cinnamon in a large bowl. Place blueberries in the bottom of the pastry shell and cover it with half of this mixture. Add a layer of the peaches and sprinkle with the remaining sugar mixture. Cover with top pastry shell and pinch it, fork it, or tuck it in.

Cover edges with 2-3 inches of aluminum foil to prevent excessive browning. Remove this foil the last 15 minutes of baking. Bake 35-45 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and juice begins to bubble through the slits in the crust. Cool on wire wrack 2 hours before serving.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Mala String Beans with Tofu

One thing that I really enjoy doing is making dishes similar to those I love from restaurants. This is much easier said than done since the staff typically isn't in the habit of passing out recipes for their signature dishes. Also let's keep in mind that the chef has many many years of culinary education and I have oh, none? Well no formal education unless you count the school of life that is. One dish that my husband David orders nearly every time we get Chinese food is spicy bean curd with string beans. This is my homemade version that got rave reviews from him. The beans came from our garden so it was extra delicious!

Before I start I'll interject a tip about working with tofu that I found helpful. This tip comes from my friend Maggie. If you like your tofu firm firm buy extra firm tofu and freeze it. As you are thawing it squeeze as much of the water out of it as you possibly can. I did this by putting the block in a colander and putting my cast iron skillet on top of it. When I came back an hour later, POOF! Something about freezing it and thawing it makes the texture more firm.



Mala String Beans with Tofu

1 package of extra firm tofu
1/2 - 3/4 lbs of fresh green beans
chili oil
canola oil
2 tbsp soy sauce
1- 2 cloves of garlic, minced

First cube the tofu into 1-2 inch cubes. Keep in mind these will shrink by maybe 1/2 as they fry up. I wish I had cut mine slightly bigger but the taste and texture was still great. If you leave the cubes too large they won't fry evenly, the inside will be mooshy and I personally dislike a non-uniform texture to my fried tofu. Moving on, add 1/4 cup canola oil and 1/3 cup chili oil or so to a skillet and heat it over medium high heat. Add the tofu and fry it until it is golden brown. If you like it hot add some of the chili flakes at the bottom of the jar. Drain the fried tofu on a paper towel.

While the tofu rests add more of the oils to the skillet. This recipe is easily customizable to how hot you like your food. More chili oil = spicier. So use your gut on how much to use. I like mine mild-medium but my husband is a hot-a-holic so i compromised and my recipe was medium-moderate I'd say. Reheat the skillet to medium-high with the new oil and soy sauce, add the beans. Saute 8 minutes or so until they are crispy but cooked. Only add the garlic the last few minutes or else it will burn!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Bread pt 2

If you know me at all then you know that in a culinary sense at least, I tend to be constantly honing my craft (or lack thereof). It bothers me if I have made something that doesn't taste how I want or the texture if off, etc. This does not imply I am a fantastic cook. Nope! I am simply saying that when I set my mind on making something I can't rest comfortably until I feel I've made the best darn ___ or ____ that I can muster. So continues my quest for really fantastic bread. So far of the two loaves I've made, this one is my favorite. I'm trying a third recipe out right now so time will tell.





Light Oat Bread

1 1/4 cups water
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
2 tablespoons honey
1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast

Mix flour and oats in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl combine the warm water with the yeast, butter, and honey and mix well. Let this sit until it is nice and foamy. Once it seems creamy add it to the wet ingredients and kneed for 10-15 minutes. This is where i thank my sweet Jesus for my dough kneading attachment on my kitchenaid mixer. Loosely cover the bowl and let it sit in a warm spot for about an hour - or until it has doubled in size.

While that is rising line a loaf pan with parchment paper and brush with some olive oil. I find this is the simplest way to prevent bread from sticking to the sides of the pan.

Preheat the oven at this point to 350 degrees. Once the dough has doubled punch it down and add it to the pan. Allow it to rise one more time before adding it to the oven and letting it bake for 35 - 45 minutes.

I allowed mine to bake for 35 minutes and it was "light". Next time I'm going to leave it in longer, but it was SO delicious!

ETA: this was my second loaf

Friday, July 18, 2008

Chili

Once upon a time I was watching Rachel Ray on one of her many tv shows and she said something about it being controversial whether or not chili was to contain beans or not. If that is true my chili is scandalous because I use three different kinds of beans!




Chili

1/2 cup each of red, green, yellow pepper - chopped
1/2 cup onion (I prefer sweet onions to balance the spice)
2 cans crushed tomatoes
1 can black beans, rinsed
1 can red kidney beans, drained
1 can chili beans of desired hotness
16 oz zesty sausage or for a vegetarian chili, Crumbles
1 tbsp cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tbsp brown sugar

This recipe is great because you can make it in a pot on the stove or if you're like me, a busy bee, you can pop it into the crock pot and not fuss with it. Either way brown the meat if using sausage, in a skillet first before adding it to the pot. If using a crock pot set it on high for 4 hours or low for 8. If making this on the stove I usually will add all of the peppers and onion to the pot first and let them soften up before adding the rest of the ingredients. This is a tip for those wanting to make it in a crock too. It can cut your cook time in half simply by giving them a head start in cooking. The brown sugar is my dad's secret ingredient (whoops, not a secret any more!) for balancing the sweet with the spicy. Sometimes I have even shaved in some dark chocolate too

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Bread

I have tried many many times to make bread. I can make breads like banana, zucchini, etc. but straight up sandwich bread I have struggled with. I think my problem has been that I have focused too much on it being 100% whole wheat and the result has been thick, dense bread that is unfit for human consumption practically. At one of our garden club meetings my friend Jaime had made a loaf of bread that I could not put down and I asked begged her for the recipe. It is as follows:



2 tsp yeast
2 cups flour
1 ¾ cups whole wheat flour
2 tsp salt, regular
1 tsp salt, large crystal
2 cups water
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
optional herbs


Begin by mixing the flour, yeast, & (small grain) salt in 4-5-quart bowl. Add the warm water (90-105 degrees F) and 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil. Stir until smooth; about 2 minutes. Can stir by hand or with paddle on mixer. After a few minutes of stirring, the dough will pull away from the sides of the bowl and form a rough, shaggy mass. If the dough is too sticky, add 1-2 tbsp of flour.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let rise for 30-40 minutes. Additional time in the bowl is just fine. For an early start in the morning, prepare batter to this point in the evening. Leave the covered bowl in a draft-free, warmish place such as the top of the refrigerator.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees F. with rack in middle of oven.

Line pan with parchment paper (this is necessary) and drizzle 1-2 tbsp on top of the paper. Pour dough into pan and smooth with well-wetted hand. Do not fuss overmuch. Drizzle one or two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil on top of dough. Sprinkle with large crystal salt and optional herbs. Place pan on middle shelf in oven. Keep thermostat set for 500 degrees F for two and a half minutes; then reset to complete baking at 450 degrees F. for a total of about 30 minutes more or less depending on how chewy or desired texture (chewy or crunchy). Alternately, keep oven at 500 degrees F for about 23 or 24 minutes..

You can bake two focaccia breads in one domestic oven. Alternate shelves and rotate pans about halfway through the baking. Greater uniformity is likely if batter is mixed in two bowls rather that doubling the recipe in a single bowl. Remove from pan and cool on cutting board or rack. Bread is still baking while it is hot; wait until it is cool before cutting.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Tuscan Pasta with Pine Nuts

One of my favorite restaurants is Olive Garden, how utterly generic of me right? Every birthday and anniversary, graduation or Mother's Day if given a choice I always went to Olive Garden. One such random meal I ordered my favorite meal - which i should interject was the only thing I ever ordered! - and I was told they had changed menus and they no longer had that item. Crestfallen I sputtered and fumbled trying to find something, anything from their menu as a close approximation. This is when I realized that Olive Garden was not in fact my favorite restaurant, but rather I was just a big fan of one dish! Since then I have discovered a new favorite dish there, which is similar to the following one, which is from my friend Meredith.



Tuscan Pasta with Pine Nuts

1 box whole grain farfalle or penne pasta
5 oz basil pesto
2-3 oz sun dried tomatoes, drained
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
salt & pepper
1 large chicken breast, grilled

Prepare the box of pasta as per the directions on the box. While the pasta is boiling drain the sun dried tomatoes if they are in oil. I find a paper towel helps here. Once drained, chop them up into bite sized pieces.

Salt and pepper a chicken breast and in a grill pan, on the outside grill, or whatever you have on hand grill it over medium high heat for about 12 minutes on one side, flipping and grilling for another 6-10 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees. Allow to rest at least 5 minutes before slicing into bite size pieces.

In a small skillet, over low heat toast the pine nuts until they are just golden brown. Your nose will tell you when they are done.

Once the pasta is done, drain it and place it back into the pot. Add all of the remaining ingredients and toss until incorporated. Garnish with a sprinkle of freshly grated Parmesan cheese if desired.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Vegan Cupcakes & Icing

Tuesday night we hosted a small dinner party with some (rather awesome) friends. Being who I am, when dividing up who brought what I chose dessert. Just picture me doing the "peanut butter jelly time!" dance because that meant I got to make cupcakes & one of my favorite things to make, icing! These are vegan and utterly, no really, utterly delicious! They are moist and rich while the icing is pillowy and light. This recipe is basically from the fantastic cookbook Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World




Chocolate Vegan Cupcakes

1 cup vanilla soy milk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
1/2 teaspoon almond extract, chocolate extract, or vanilla extract if not using vanilla soymilk
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Long ago I decided that cupcake liners made no sense and were just a waste of paper and source of trash accumulation so I simply sprayed my cupcake pan with cooking spray. Otherwise line them with papers if that is how you roll.

In a medium sized mixing bowl whisk together the soy milk and the apple cider vinegar and set this aside. It will start to curdle, which you want. Then add the sugar, oil, and whatever type of extract strikes your fancy. Beat this until it is frothy.

In a separate bowl sift together the remaining dry ingredients. In two batches, add the dry ingredients to the wet, gently mixing until no lumps remain. Pour this into your cupcake pans 3/4 of the way to the top and bake for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted. Cool completely on wire rack before icing. Speaking of...


Vegan Strawberry "Buttercream" Icing

1/4 cup nonhydrogenated shortening
1/4 cup nonhydrogenated margarine (like Earth Balance)
1 3/4 cups powdered sugar
1/4 - 1/2 cup strawberries, pureed

Beat together the shortening and margarine until nice and fluffy. Then, in 1/2 cup increments, lest your find yourself engulfed in a large puffy cloud of sugar, add the powdered sugar, beating well each time. Beat all together on high for about 3 minutes. Then add the strawberry puree. Depending on how juicy your strawberries are you might need to add some powdered sugar to get the right consistency. When finished, pipe or spread onto cupcakes. Garnish with fresh strawberries if desired and enjoy.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Strawberry Pancakes

This recipe will please even the pickiest of eaters I promise! My son Augustine, age 3 really loves to bake and cook with me. I asked him if he could make up a recipe and after looking through many cookbooks and our fridge/pantry for ideas he came up with "Strawberry Panpakes!" and this was the result. I made the "panpake" part and he loved, and really ... who wouldn't!?, smashing up all of the strawberries.


Augustine's Strawberry Pancakes
1-1/4 cups whole wheat flour

1 tbsp baking powder

3 tbsp sugar

3/4 tsp sea salt

2-3 egg yolks, well beaten

2-3 egg whites, stiffly beaten

1 cup milk

3 tbsp melted butter

1 cup smooshed up/pureed strawberries (or any other fruit)


Sift together the first 4 ingredients (whole wheat flour through salt).

Combine and beat the egg yolks, milk and butter. Add this to the flour mixture, blend. Fold in the stiffly beaten egg whites. Add the strawberry puree

Fry on medium hot griddle until bubbles are well-formed around edges of pancakes; turn and cook other side 2 minutes. Or bake in waffle iron if you want a waffle instead of a "panpake". Reheat waffle iron before putting another waffle in each time.

Makes 8 pancakes or 4 waffles.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Vegan Veggie Burgers

Memorial Day is always full of picnics and cookouts. We had/are having 3! On Sunday we had a church picnic and instead of the traditional burgers we whipped up some chick pea burgers. These are vegan and based on a recipe I found from TreeHugger.com. This recipe makes 8 delicioso burgers


Chickpea Burgers
aka Garbanzo Bean Burgers

4 tsp vegetable oil
3 green onions (including tops) chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp chili powder
2 cup diced sweet red and/or green pepper
Half tomato, chopped
2 cans (30 oz total) chick-peas drained and rinsed
2/3 cup dry bread crumbs
2 tbsp cilantro or parsley, chopped

In nonstick skillet, heat the oil over medium heat and cook onions, garlic, oregano and chili powder, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add red pepper and tomato. Cook, stirring for about 5 minutes or until pepper is tender and liquid is evaporated.

In food processor, mix pepper mixture with chick-peas; transfer to bowl. Stir in bread crumbs, parsley, and salt and pepper to taste until well combined. Pressing firmly, shape into burgers.

On the grill or in nonstick skillet, heat remaining oil over medium heat and cook burgers for 4 minutes on each side or until heated through.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Whole Wheat Apple Muffins

Today happiness is a delicious muffin served with a hot cup of tea, taking in the cool morning breeze. The title of this muffin is a bit deceiving, as it contains 4 different kinds of fruit mixed in. I debated whether or not to simply call them "Fruit Muffins" or not. Regardless, they are scrumptious, healthy, and perfect for a morning such as we've been experiencing here lately.




Wh
ole Wheat Apple Muffins
or Whole Wheat Fruit Muffins

2 cups whole wheat flour

1 tbsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg

3/4 cup milk
1 egg

1/2 cup applesauce

1 tbsp vegetable oil

1/4 - 1/2 cup brown sugar

1 tbsp honey

1 cup chopped apples (I recommend Granny Smith)
3/4 cup dried fruit (I used raisins, apricots, cherries, and cranberries)


Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and lightly grease one 12-cup muffin tin. I made some Big Daddy muffins too, delicious!

Lightly beat egg in a small bowl. In another bowl mix dry ingredients thoroughly. In a third bowl, mix all of the remaining ingredients. Gently folding in egg. Add to the dry ingredients. Stir until barely moistened. Batter will be lumpy.

Fill greased muffin tins to the top to ensure you get those delicious, pillowy muffin tops. Bake about 20 minutes until lightly browned.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Rocky Road Bars

My husband had a particularly bad day one day so, being as he is a real chocolate/sweets junkie i decided to go all out and make him something extra special. This recipe is slightly more time consuming than most things I've made in the past as far as assembly goes, in that it has three separate layers to make before putting it into the oven. Well worth the effort though, trust me!!



Rocky Road Bars

Base

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter

1 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped

1 cup flour

1 cup sugar

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp vanilla

2 eggs

3/4 cup chopped nuts (I used 1/2 peanuts 1/2 pecans. It's versatile)

Filling
1 (8-oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened, reserving 2 oz. for frosting
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar

2 tbsp flour

1/2 tsp vanilla

1 egg

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (I used dark chocolate - again versatile)

2 cups mini marshmallows


Frosting

1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup milk

1 oz. unsweetened chocolate, cut up

2 oz cream cheese (reserved from earlier)

3 cups powdered sugar

1 tsp vanilla


Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 13x9-inch pan. In large saucepan, melt 1/2 cup butter and 1 oz. unsweetened chocolate over low heat, stirring with a whisk or wooden spoon until smooth. Remove from heat. Then stir in 1 cup of flour and all remaining base ingredients; mix well. Spread in greased and floured pan and set aside.


In your mixer bowl, combine 6 oz. of the cream cheese, 1/4 cup margarine, 1/2 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons flour, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla and 1 egg; beat 1 minute at medium speed until smooth and fluffy. Spread over chocolate mixture; sprinkle evenly with chocolate chips.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from oven; immediately sprinkle with marshmallows. Return to oven; bake an additional 2 minutes.

While marshmallows are baking, in large saucepan, combine 1/4 cup butter, milk, 1 oz. unsweetened chocolate and the reserved 2 oz. cream cheese. Cook over low heat, stirring until well blended. Remove from heat; stir in powdered sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla until smooth. Immediately pour frosting over puffed marshmallows and lightly swirl with knife to marble. Refrigerate 1 hour or until firm. Cut into bars. Store in refrigerator.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Molten Chocolate Cookies

My camera is broken so instead of posting what my cookies look like I had to "borrow" one from another website with an equivalent recipe to show how they turned out. This really bothers me but let's make lemonade out of lemons shall we?

Molten Chocolate Cookies

2 1/2 bars of dark chocolate (about 4 oz)
1 stick of butter (1/2 cup)
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
1 cup powdered sugar
1/3 cup flour
12 small store bought cookies (Oreo, Chips Ahoy, etc.)


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and while that is heating up line a muffin tin with liners. Spray the liners with cooking spray.

In a medium sized pan melt together the dark chocolate and the butter, stirring constantly. When it is melted, remove from heat and set aside. In a mixing bowl beat together the eggs, powdered sugar, & flour with a whisk until it is well blended. Then add this to the melted chocolate mixture and whisk it all together.

Place one cookie upside down in the bottom of each liner and fill the rest with the batter. Bake for 8 minutes or until the outside of the cookie is firm but the middle is still gooey. Remove from pan and place onto plates. Garnish with powdered sugar or Cool Whip.



Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Soup


Ahh soup, the ultimate meal in my opinion. Last week I had the flu, hence no updates. What am I Super Woman? So now that I'm on the mend and in need of some replenishing, soup fits the bill to a T providing healthy vegetables & lots of fluids. Last night I made the chicken noodle. Here are a few of my favorite soup recipes.

Minestrone


1/4 cup oil

1 cup chopped onions

1 cup diced carrots
3/4 cup zucchini, chopped

2 cloves garlic, crushed

8 cups veggie or chicken broth

1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

1/4 tsp. oregano

1/4 tsp. thyme

1/4 tsp. basil

1/2 cup uncooked macaroni (I precook to make it ready faster when I'm in a hurry)

16 oz. can chopped tomatoes (I also add tomato paste as well - I love tomatoes!)

16 oz. can beans (kidney beans, navy beans are best)

10 oz. package frozen spinach


Saute onions, celery, carrots, zucchini, mushrooms and garlic in oil for 5 minutes. Add chicken broth, salt, pepper, Worcestershire, oregano, thyme and basil. Bring to boil an simmer for 5 minutes. Add macaroni and simmer for 5 minutes longer. Add tomatoes, beans, spinach and veggies and simmer an additional 5 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley. Allow soup to stand 15 to 20 minutes. Serve with grated Parmesan cheese and Italian bread.



Chicken Noodle Soup

4 carrots, chopped
4 celery stalks, chopped
1/2 medium or 1 small onion, diced

4 cups water
4-5 tsp bullion
3 cups diced, uncooked chicken breasts
2 tsp parsley
2 cups desired noodles
minced garlic, optional
salt and pepper

In a medium, saute onion, carrots, and celery until almost cooked through. Add the bullion and water and bring to a boil adding the chicken and noodles. Follow the directions on the package of noodles to determine how long to boil the soup. Add the garlic the last few minutes of cooking. Sprinkle with parsley, salt and pepper to your desired taste.




Beef and Barley Soup

4 cups water
2 beef bullion cubes
1 medium potato, cubed
1 medium onion, cubed
2 medium carrots, chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried garlic powder
1/2 pound boneless beef cut into cubes
1 cup quick cooking barley
cracked pepper to taste

3/4 cup peas

In large pot add water, beef bullion cubes (dissolved in a small amount of the water, heated in separate cup), and all the ingredients except the barley. Cook approximately 30 minutes at a minimum heat, or until meat is fully cooked and potatoes are soft. Add the quick cooking barley and cook another 15 minutes. Before serving, add peas. Serve hot. Add salt to taste. A very easy shortcut would be to use beef stock instead of making your own. Omit water and bullion in this situation.


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Grilled Chicken variations

To grill chicken is simple, whether you're doing it inside on a grill pan or George Foreman (love these by the way!), or outside of a traditional grill. If outside, put down a layer of foil and punch holes in it. Salt and pepper both sides of the chicken and place over medium heat for 3 minutes on each side. Then reduce the heat to low and cook about 10 minutes until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees. If you don't have a good meat thermometer check the juices of the chicken. If it is clear, it's done. Remove from grill and let rest 5 minutes before cutting

In our house, warm weather is all about grilling. In fact I might venture to say we grill TOO much if that is possible. My favorite things to grill is chicken because it is so versatile and light. Usually I will grill a few extra chicken breasts at a time for use later in the week. Here are two very simple and delicious recipes we made for dinner last night with grilled chicken.


I call this "Garbage Can" Salad because I usually dump everything but the kitchen sink on top of it, anything from green onions to peas, ham, and various cheeses. Here is what I made last night.

"Garbage Can" Salad with warm Grilled Chicken

Bibb lettuce
Red leaf lettuce
1 large carrot, chopped or shredded
1 stalk of celery, chopped
1/4 cup feta cheese
garlic butter croutons
1 grilled chicken breast, cut into strips
desired amount of dressing



I really should call this entry "His & Hers Chicken" because this shows the different personalities of chicken I think, and those who eat it. I err on the lighter side of things, whereas my husband likes things slightly heavier. This sandwich was a huge hit with him as you can see.

Chicken Parmesan Sandwich

1 grilled chicken breast
2 tbsp pasta sauce
1/4 cup mozzarella cheese
whole wheat hoagie style bun



Silence (when your mouth is too full to speak...) is the best compliment


Other options for grill chicken: Quesadillas, Chicken Pot Pie, a Hawaiian pizza

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Icing

Today is my daughter Olive's first birthday and I wanted to make something special for her. I flipped through many many recipes when trying to decide what to make for her first real taste of sugary yumminess (that I know of... I'm throwing a suspicious look in the direction of Grandpa). Perhaps we are a bit strict in this department, who knows, but we try to eat as much organic, healthy, fresh foods that are made at home that we can afford. We feel it is especially important to try to do this for our children. So while birthdays are certainly a time to celebrate, a healthy spin is welcomed if there is one. I based this recipe from one by Martha Stewart of all people and all I'm going to say is uhh... this cake didn't make it to see the light of tomorrow's day! I must admit that this recipe particularly strikes my fancy, as they say, because it allows me to do two of my three favorite things in cooking - zesting and making frosting! (my third being chopping onions). I am officially putting my Jenny-guarantee on this recipe for enjoyment.


Baby Carrot Cake

4 medium carrots, grated
1 cup raisins
1 cup walnut pieces
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
juice and zest of 1 lemon
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cups vegetable oil
4 large eggs
shortening and flour for cake pans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two standard sized cake pans. Set aside

Grate the carrots using a box grater or food processor if you have one. Measure 2 cups of carrots and place in medium mixing bowl. Add raisins, walnuts, applesauce, zest and juice from the lemon and toss together.

With your mixer, pulse together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. With motor running, pour in oil and eggs; process until smooth, scraping sides. Add carrot mixture; pulse. Pour into pans; bake about 40 minutes, until tester inserted in middle comes out clean.

Cool in pans on rack for 20 minutes. Remove; cool completely before adding frosting.





Cream Cheese Frosting

8 oz
cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup cup butter
2 or 3 tsp milk
1 tsp vanilla
4 cups powdered sugar

Beat cream cheese, butter, milk, and vanilla with your mixer on low speed until it is smooth and creamy. Gradually beat in the powdered sugar 1 cup at a time. I have learned the hard/messy way not to add too much powdered sugar and once. Talk about a sugary cloud! Anyways, beat this on low speed until it is smooth again.

This recipe makes enough to frost a two layer 8 or 9 inch cake or one 13 x 9 inch sheet cake generously. Be sure to store these cakes in the fridge as the cream cheese frosting will spoil otherwise!


Jenny's Note: I made three teensy cakes in 6x2 pans because this was for a baby. Also Olive is wild about strawberries so that is why I added them to her cake. Personally, I wouldn't add them but when it's your birthday why not get the cake you want?

Friday, April 11, 2008

Roasted Chicken with Vegetables

Early this year I swore to myself that I would attempt, nay! perfect a roasted chicken. This was my first crack at it but I must say I consider it a smashing success. Really, roasting a chicken seems a little "out there" to me but I was shocked at how simple and delicious it was. This recipe has a very low degree of difficulty but will fool all of your dinner guests when you put it on a platter! Nothing says "home" and "comfort" like a warm roasted chicken with delicious root vegetables.




Roasted Chicken with Vegetables

1 whole chicken, 3-5 lbs (note: I highly recommend an organic bird!) salt
freshly ground pepper
2 cloves of garlic

1/2 lemon

2 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp thyme or rosemary

4 carrots, peeled and quartered

1 large onion, chopped


Preheat oven to 425 degrees


Wash the bird inside and out with cold water, then pat it dry with paper towels. Remove any innards that may have come with it before washing. Salt and pepper the inside of the chicken and set aside.


Chop onion and quarter the carrots, arranging them around the outside of a roasting pan (proportionate to the size of the bird you chose), leaving room for the chicken to be placed in the center.


Place peeled (or minced, whichever you prefer) garlic, half of the lemon, and your chosen herbs into the cavity of the chicken. Then place the bird into the middle of the roasting pan and drizzle the olive oil all over it. Season with salt and pepper.


Place pan in the center of the oven and roast for 20 minutes before turning down the heat to 350 degrees and roasting for another 60 minutes or until a meat thermometer reads between 170 and 175 degrees. Upon removing the chicken from the oven, allow it to rest for about 5 minutes to let the juices redistribute before carving.

Enjoy!


Wednesday, April 9, 2008

S'more Pie

One thing my family and I enjoy doing is camping during the warm months of the year. I think we could all agree that the best part of camping is s'mores right? Bring home some of that ooey gooey-ness with this pie.


S'more pie


16 graham squares, finely crushed (about 1 cup)
1/3 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar
3 cups mini marshmallows
1/2 cup milk
8 oz cool whip
4 bars of milk chocolate, chopped and divided

First make the pie crust my mixing the graham crumbs, butter, and sugar together and pressing the mixture onto the bottom of a 9- inch pie plate. Set this aside.

Mix the marshmallows and milk in a pot on the oven and heat on low, stirring constantly, until the mallows have melted. Refrigerate this about 40 minutes or until it has completely cool.

Gently stir cool whip and 3/4 of the chocolate into the marshmallow mixture then spoon this into the crust, topping it all with the remaining chocolate.

Refrigerate 3 hours or until firm.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Wake Up Casserole

I don't know about you but on the weekends I enjoy special breakfasts that involve a little more time and effort. Heaven knows that I'm not about to break out the eggs Benedict on a Monday morning after being awakened every few hours by a teething baby the previous night. My go-to weekend breakfast casserole is based on one from my creative mother in law and it is as easy as it is delicious! In fact I make this nearly every Christmas for brunch.


Wake Up Casserole

2 1/2 cups shredded potatoes
5 eggs
8 oz of your preferred cheese
1 cup milk
4-5 pieces of bacon OR 3-4 oz sausage
dash of salt

If you want to skip a step, you can purchase store bought shredded hash browns. Otherwise, skin and shred two potatoes then squeeze out as much of the moisture as you can from them using paper towels. Place them into a skillet with some hot oil and fry them for to desired crispiness adding salt and pepper to your liking. Place shredded potatoes in a single layer in a grease pie pan or 9 x 9 casserole dish. Crisp bacon or brown sausage and crumble. Mix that with eggs, milk, salt, & cheese and pour that over the potatoes. You could easily add your favorite vegetables here for a healthy boost - shredded carrot, red or green pepper, green onion, etc. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Uncover and cook an additional 15 minutes or until the top is golden and bubbly.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Potato Croquettes

This recipe is directly from one of my favorite cookbooks, Apples for Jam by Tessa Kiros. To me, these are sort of like comfort food with a twist as they are composed of meat and potatoes. These are a real crowd pleaser, even for my toddler who can be a finicky eater.

Croquettes

4 potatoes
3/4 lb ground beef
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg
1 tsp salt
about 1 cup bread crumbs
about 6 tbsp olive oil
desired amount of parsley

Put a pan of salt water on to boil & add the unpeeled potatoes to it. Boil, covered for about 20 minutes or until they are soft and completely cooked through. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Drain the potatoes and when they are cool enough to handle, peel them. In a wide bowl, mash them well. Add the beef, egg, cheese, salt, and mix thoroughly with your hands.

Roll the mixture into small walnut sized balls, then flatten slightly into an oval shape. Put the bread crumbs onto a plate and pat the croquettes into it to coat both sides. Drizzle about 2 1/2 tbsp of olive oil into a large baking pan, spreading it around with the back of a spoon. Pack the croquettes like tight little soldiers on the pan and drizzle a few more tablespoons of oil.

Put the pan in the oven and bake the croquettes about 30 minutes, or until the underside is golden and crispy. Turn them over and bake for another 10 minutes or longer if necessary.

Serve warm or at room temperature with a scattering of salt if you think they need it.

Makes about 40 croquettes.