Thursday, December 31, 2009
Let's just say some dinners sound/taste better in my head than in reality. I took the leftover filling from my raviolis from the other night and smeared it on some crescent roll dough. I par-cooked some shrimp and put it on top and baked for 20 minutes. The result: An almost pretty dinner (the stuffing sort of looked like scrambled eggs, which they weren't) and it was the way wrong texture. It sort of felt like raw dough. So, this one goes down as a failure! They can't all be masterpieces, can they?
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Okay, I'm only posting this because it was very good and I want to remember it; but it needs some work. It was too runny. I got inspired to make this after watching a guest cook on the Paula Deen Food Network show. She made Crispy Fried Tacos with Salsa Verde. This isn't exactly that. I had some left over taco shells and I wanted to use them up tonight, but then my "stuffing" was too runny, so I put them in tortillas and baked them for a bit with some store bought salsa verde on top. Like I said, they were delicious, especially with some basic white rice mixed in each bite. Even the two year olds loved it! I think I put too much sauce and not enough chicken. Anyway, here is what I did because it's a bit off from what the original "inspiration" recipe was.
Tomato Chicken Burritos
4 small chicken breasts *
2 garlic cloves
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp cumin
1 can of diced tomatoes
1 can of green chilis (I'd prefer a fresh one)
1/2 white onion
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tortilla that has been turned into bread crumbs in the food processor (or plain bread crumbs)
*like I said, I needed more I think. Oh, and I wish I had bone in, but I had boneless skinless, so that is what I used.
Place chicken in a pan and cover with water. Add garlic cloves and simmer for 20 minutes**. Do not boil or chicken will turn to rubber. Remove chicken and shred with two forks.
Put tomatoes, garlic cloves from the chicken pan, green chilis, oregano, cumin, onion, salt and pepper in a blender and puree. In the pan you removed the chicken from, pour sauce in. Add chicken back in and bring to a low boil. Add heavy cream, bread crumbs and cheese. Spoon in tortillas and wrap to form burritos. Pour some store bought salsa verde on the top. Cook at 375 for 20 minutes. Serve with white rice, makes 4-5 burritos.
(**hint: if you are using bone in chicken and you want to make some homemade chicken stock while you are at it, add an onion, celery and peppercorns to the water. Simmer on very low for 40 minutes. Remove chicken from bone, toss bones back and water and let simmer for however long you want. Strain, and you have homemade chicken broth, store in an air tight container and freeze)
Monday, December 28, 2009
How does one spontaneously decide to make homemade ravioli? I guess that is just how I am. So last night about an hour before dinner I decided to make ravioli. I make fresh pasta from time to time on a whim, but ravioli are a bit harder and I usually (notice the usually part) plan them out in advance. Well I got a ravioli press for my birthday and have been wanting to use it. I made a quick attempt a few days after I received my press but I over stuffed my ravioli and they exploded. Well last night my dough didn't come together so I had to ditch that and whip up a fast dinner. So I woke up this morning feeling challenged. I made fresh ravioli for lunch!
Acorn Squash Ravioli with a simple Bechamel Sauce
1/2 acorn squash (Butternut squash would be tasty too!)
1/4 cup ricotta cheese
1 tsp ground sage
salt and pepper
Cut acorn squash in half. Scoop out seeds and discard. Drizzle olive oil, salt and pepper on squash. Roast in a 425 degree oven for 30-45 minutes. (This can be done ahead of time.)
When squash is very fork tender and has cooled down, scoop out into a bowl. Add ricotta cheese and seasonings. Stir until well incorporated. Place filling in a pastry bag or ziplock back with the end snipped off.
1 1/4 cup flour
or wonton wrappers
Place ingredients in a food processor and process until a ball forms. Use a pasta machine to roll out sheets.
If you have a ravioli press lay pasta out and put a tiny amount of filling in each square (depending on the size of your press.) Lay a second sheet of pasta ontop and with a rolling pin, roll the sheets together sealing in the filling.
If you don't have a ravioli press but still have a pasta machine, lay out a sheet of pasta. Place about a tbsp of filling every 2 inches or so on the pasta. Lay a second sheet on top. Gently press around each mound of filling making sure to press out any air. Cut around each mound of filling into ravioli squares.
Place filling in wonton wrappers and fold over into triangles.
Fresh pasta only needs to boil for a couple of minutes. When the raviolis float to the top, cook for one minute longer and then drain.
1/2 cup fat free half and half
1/2 tbsp butter
pinch of sage, salt and pepper
3 tsp flour
2 tbsp ricotta cheese
Melt butter in a pan. Add flour and stir until flour is wet. Add half and half and seasonings. Stir until there are no lumps in the flour. Add ricotta cheese. Serve over ravioli.
This complete recipe made about 3 servings.
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
I am so excited. I just discovered a super easy way to make bread bowls at home from scratch. The possibilities are endless. I really don't know how to contain my joy at this discovery! Traditional bread bowls that I have had are more crusty, usually made out of sourdough, but this was light fluffy and the main thing... EASY!
1 package of dry active yeast
2/3 cup warm water
1 tbsp sugar (sugar substitute won't work, it's "food" for the yeast)
1 2/3 cup of flour
1/2 tbsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil
few tablespoons of cornmeal reserved
For Mexican Bowl:
add 1/2 tbsp oregano and 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
For Italian Bowl:
add 1/2 tbsp dry basil and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
Pour yeast into warm water. Warm tap water is fine, you don't want it to be boiling. Add the sugar and stir the yeast. Wait until it starts to foam and bubble. This way you know your yeast is still good. It should take about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, place the rest of the ingredients (except cornmeal!) in a food processor (I'm sure you can do this by hand, just knead until dough comes together. You could probably also use a stand mixer with dough hook.) When yeast is good and foamy, turn on processor and pour the water-yeast mixture in slowly until incorporated. Keep the food processor on until the dough starts to ball up on the side. Remove from the food processor and knead a few times by hand to bring it together into one large ball.
Spray a large bowl with cooking spray and place dough ball in the bottom. Cover with a kitchen towel and place in a warm non-drafty spot. Let rise about 45 minutes. Preheat oven to 375º. Divide the dough into two smaller balls. Sprinkly reserved cornmeal on a cookie sheet (this prevents dough from sticking!) Place balls onto the cookie sheet and cook for about 20 minutes. Dough should start to turn brown on top. A toothpick will come out clean.
Possibilities are endless: Pictured above: I have a Mexican bowl with Shredded Salsa Beef, topped with cheese, onion and a pickled jalapeno. Diced tomato or black olives would be good too.
Italian bowl, fill with meat spaghetti sauce and top with mozzarella.
Or make a chili bowl, a clam chowder bowl, cheese and broccoli bowl, etc!
Monday, December 21, 2009
I love pumpkin. Pie, of course. But there’s a lot of baking that can be done with pumpkin, which adds moisture and fiber while cutting out some of those pesky calories. I’m not saying it makes a baked good particularly slenderizing, but it might just help the guilt factor of eating that second serving.
Many times, I’ll make a recipe that uses part of a can of pumpkin. Sure, I could freeze the remainder, but I have a very bad habit of freezing little bits and then losing them to the freezer monster (also known as forgetting it was ever there in the first place, at which point I open a fresh can, have another leftover, lather, rinse, repeat). So I gave myself a pat on the back for figuring out this way to make 2 tasty treats, use the whole can of pumpkin, and everybody wins.
Pumpkin Applesauce Muffins
½ cup pumpkin
1 cup applesauce
½ cup milk
¼ cup oil (or substitute another ¼ cup applesauce)
½ cup packed brown sugar
1 cup flour*
½ cup wheat flour*
1 cup oats
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. cinnamon
Mix pumpkin, applesauce, milk, oil, sugar, and egg together until combined. Add remaining dry ingredients and mix until batter is formed. Fill muffin tins halfway. Bake at 400 degrees for 18-20 minutes. Makes approximately 36 mini muffins or 18 regular sized muffins.
* Use any combination of flour that yields 1 ½ cups.
Remaining pumpkin (about 1 ½ cups)
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 egg white1/4 cup applesauce
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/3 cup plain yogurt (or vanilla yogurt – just adjust the next ingredient down a little)
1 cup flour
3/4 cup wheat flour
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup golden raisins (optional)
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)
Combine sugar and egg whites completely. Add pumpkin, applesauce, yogurt, and vanilla and mix to combine. Add remaining ingredients and mix into batter.
Pour into a greased loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-55 minutes until it can pass the toothpick test.
Friday, December 18, 2009
Thursday, December 17, 2009
The other day John and I watched The Proposal. At the end of the movie the couple is being grilled by US customs about their relationship to see if it is legit. (She was a Canadian with an expired green card and he was her assistant.) Anyway, it was a good romantic comedy. But then John and I started asking each other questions to see if we knew all the answers about our "favorites" and things like that. Apparently I did not know his favorite fruit was pineapple. So when I was grocery shopping the other day and saw fresh pineapples on the shelf I had to buy it. Then I didn't know what to do with it. I asked him if he wanted to eat it straight up, as dessert grilled with brown sugar or as Sweet and Sour Chicken. This dish won out and it was very good, and I normally don't like Sweet and Sour Chicken!
Sweet and Sour Chicken
2 large chicken breasts
4 tbsp cornstarch
1 bell pepper (whatever color, I used green)
1/4 of a red onion
1 cup of sugar snap peas
1/2 a fresh pineapple or 1 can of pineapple chunks, drained
1 cup of button mushrooms (I didn't have any, but I wanted to put them in the dish!)
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
4 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp ketchup
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp corn starch
Cut bell pepper & red onion into large chunks. Heat oil in a large skillet. Put the bell pepper and onion in the skillet on high heat and cook it until it starts to brown. Chop chicken into large chunks. In a large ziplock bag, pour the cornstarch and chicken chunks together. Coat the chicken thoroughly. Put the chicken in a colander to sift off extra cornstarch. You may need to add a bit more oil to the skillet. Add the chicken to the peppers and onions. Add the sugar snap peas and mushrooms. Dice the pineapple and add it to the chicken.
To make the sauce in a small bowl whisk together all ingredients and pour over the chicken and vegetables. Cook until thickened. Serve over white rice.
John made these cookies for my neighbors annual Christmas cookie exchange. They are so perfect.
Mint Chocolate Cookies
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
1/2 tsp mint extract
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup Dark Cocoa Powder
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/3 cup dark chocolate chips
1 1/2 tsp shortening
3 tsp min extract
Heat oven to 350º.
In a small bowl, melt 1/2 cup of the dark chocolate chips in the microwave for 1 minute or until melted when stirred.
Beat butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar in a large bowl until well blended. Add melted chips; beat until well blended. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir together flour, cocoa, baking powder and baking soda. gradually beat into chocolate mixture. Drob by rounded teaspoons onto a cookie sheet.
Bake 8-9 minutes for chewy cookies or 10-11 for crispy cookies. Cool slightly. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely.
Place the 1 1/3 cups dark chocolate chips in a small bowl and melt with the shortening about 1 minute 20 seconds. Add the 3 teaspoons of mint extract and stir. Place in a ziplock bag and snip a corner. Drizzle over cookies.
Makes about 5 dozen cookies
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
I was having the whole family over for Kurban Bayram and wanted to make something they never had before. People love trying things they have never seen, and like it even better when those things are really delicious. I found this recipe on Tasty Kitchen. I love Bakerella, she does some amazing things. This dessert turned out great. It is Turkish-mother-in-law approved! It was sweet yet tangy. The crust just melts in your mouth. It really was a hit.
1 cup Butter
1-¾ cup Flour
⅔ cups Confectionary Sugar (plus More For Dusting)
1-½ cup Sugar
¼ cups Flour
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
½ cups Lemon Juice
4 whole Eggs, Beaten
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. To make crust mix flour and confectioner’s sugar together, cut up the butter into small pieces, (I used a fork) until the mix is combined. If it is crumbly that is fine. Press mix into a greased 9X13 pan. Bake until golden or about 20 minutes.
Make the filling while the crust is in the oven. Mix sugar, flour, and baking powder, then add the beaten eggs and lemon juice. Mix well. Pour on the crust when the crust is finished, back for another 20 minutes. Cool lemon bars, cut into bars and dust with powdered sugar. Eat cold.
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Spoon chili into baking dishes.
This recipe is perfectly adaptable to campfire cooking. As a matter of fact that's how I had it the first time, prepared in a huge castiron dutch oven. It was so good I didn't want to wait until the next campout to have it again, so it can be done in your home oven. Substitute ingredients as you see fit, the main idea is to make a yummy chili and top it with a yummy cornbread.
My playgroup has decided to do a meal swap. I picked this meal to make for our first swap for a couple of reasons. It's easy to make in bulk (I needed enough for 3 families), it is perfect cold weather food, and I had all the ingredients on hand! You can scale it down to suit one family meal or make it in bulk and freeze the extra casseroles!
2-3 pieces of bacon
2.5 lbs of lean ground beef
2 cans of black beans, drained
1 can of tomato paste
1 can of fire roasted tomatoes
1 can of diced green chilies
4 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp cumin
salt & pepper
Cornbread: (You can also use a Cornbread Kit)
2 1/2 cups of cornmeal
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 cup shredded mexican cheese
1 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp vegetable oil
3/4 cup milk (give or take)
Dice bacon into tiny bits. Saute the bacon with diced onion and garlic. Add ground beef. Break up the beef with the end of your spoon and add seasonings: chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper. Add tomato paste and mix it into the ground beef. Add drained beans and fire roasted diced tomatoes. Last, add the diced green chilies. Continue cooking over medium high heat until meat is fully cooked. Transfer over to baking dishes. I made 3, 9"x9" casseroles.
Preheat oven to 350º. Mix all the ingredients for the cornbread into a big mixing bowl. Spoon wet cornbread mixture over the chili in a thin layer. Sprinkle the top with extra cheese. Bake for 25 minutes.
Friday, December 11, 2009
Alot of times when I cook, I make things up on the fly. Other times I use an idea for a recipe and then change things as I go along. For instance tonight I wanted to make my Pantry Chicken and Rice Casserole. The problem was that I didn't have any broccoli, one of the main ingredients. So I used the basic idea for the dish and subbed in spinach and canned mushrooms for the broccoli. It was delicious and everyone pretty much cleared their plates, even my twin toddlers. I'm not posting a recipe because it's the same as the Pantry Chicken and Rice with the simple subsititution!
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
The idea for this meal just sort of popped into my head today as I was looking at the ingredients I had on hand. I wish I had made more! This is one that is super easy to make but looks and sounds fancier!
Balsamic Chicken Turnovers
1 package of pizza dough or crescent rolls
1/2 chicken breast
4-5 asparagus, chopped into small pieces
1 clove garlic
2-3 button mushrooms
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup ricotta cheese (or cottage cheese)
spring of rosemary
salt & pepper
Preheat oven to 375º. Cut the chicken into very small pieces. In a small skillet, cook the chicken, asparagus and mushrooms. Add the rosemary, salt and pepper to taste and the balsamic vinegar. Cook until the balsamic vinegar reduces. In a small mixing bowl combine the cheese and egg. Temper the cheese and the egg by adding a bit of the chicken mixture at a time. Cut the pizza dough into fourths. Place a couple of tablespoons of filling into each rectangle and fold over. Sprinke the top with extra kosher salt. Bake for 20 minutes. Sprinkle a bit more balsamic vinegar over the top before serving. Serves 4 small portions or 2 bigger ones.
Sunday, December 6, 2009
John made these cookies for me to take to a Christmas cookie exchange party two years ago, a few days before Maddie and Izzie were born. I'm headed off to another cookie exchange and since these were such a hit, he made them again. They are from the cook book: Best Loved Cookies. A lot of the cookies from this book are a hit!
Chocolate Pecan Carmel Cookies
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
2/3 cup sugar
1 egg, separated
2 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup finely chopped pecans
Carmel filling (recipe follows)
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 tsp shortening (do not use butter, margarine, or oil)
1. Beat butter, sugar, egg yolk, milk and vanilla in a medium bowl until blended. Stir together flour, cocoa and salt; blend into butter mixture. Refridgerate dough at least 1 hour or until firm enough to handle.
2. Heat oven to 350º. Lightly grease cookie sheet.
3. Beat egg white slightly. Shape dough into 1 inch balls. Dip each ball into egg white; roll in pecans to coat. Place on prepared cookie sheet. Press thumb gently in center of each ball. Bake 10-12 minutes or until set.
4. Meanwhile, prepare Carmel Filling. Remove cookies from oven; press center of each cookie again with thumb to make indentation. Immediately spoon about 1/2 tsp Caramel Filling in center of each cookie. Carefully remove from cookie sheets; cool on wire racks.
5. Place chocolate chips and shortenting in smal lmicrowave safe bowl. Microwave at High (100%) 1 minute or until softened; stir. Allow to stand several minutes to finish melting; stir until smooth. Place wax paper under wire rack with cookies. Drizzle chocolate mixure over top of cookies.
Makes about 2 dozen cookies.
Caramel Filling: In small saucepan, combine 14 unwrapped light caramels and 3 tbsp whipping cream. Cook over low heat, stirring frequently, until caramels are melted and mixture is smooth.
Saturday, December 5, 2009
I make this a dish that is sometimes called Chicken Mushroom Glop. I basically add rice, a can of cream of mushroom soup, diced mushrooms and chicken broth to a pot and cook on low until the chicken and rice are cooked through adding chicken broth if needed. I decided to glam up that recipe and make Mushroom Risotto with baked chicken. The only problem, I think the last time I made risotto was last December so my risotto rice has gone rancid. And eating rancid food can make you very ill. So I made this version with regular white rice, it was still creamy and delicious just not as creamy as real risotto would be. Risotto isn't hard, but you do have to babysit the pot and stir almost the entire time.
1 cup of rice (preferably risotto)
3 cups of chicken broth/stock
1/2 diced onion
1 stalk of celery (optional)
1/2 pint of button mushrooms
1/2 can cream of chicken or mushroom soup
pat of butter
In a small pot bring the chicken broth up to a low simmer. You don't want to add cold (or room temperature) stock to your rice.
In a medium size pot, melt the butter and saute the onions and celery until soft. Add 1 cup of rice and about 1 cup of the chicken broth to your rice. Stir constantly until the rice mostly absorbs the broth. Adding a laddle at a time of chicken broth stir until rice keeps absorbing the broth. It usually takes about 2 minutes between adding more broth. When you have about one or two ladles of broth left in your small pot, add the 1/2 can of cream of chicken soup to the stock and mix well. When the soup has come up to temperature incorporate it into the rice the same way you were doing with the stock. The entire process will take about 30 minutes until the rice is cooked through. The best way to tell is to taste and see if the rice is cooked all the way. It will also get thicker and creamier as it cooks. Keep the heat on medium on your rice pot, you don't want it to boil, just simmer.
While the rice is cooking quickly chop about 1/2 pint of mushrooms and saute them in a skillet on high heat. Add the mushrooms to the rice when it is finished cooking. Melt in a second pat of butter. Serves 4. I served with oven baked chicken breast and green beans.
Thursday, December 3, 2009
I'm headed out to my first Christmas party of the season. I was asked to bring an appetizer or a dessert. Since I don't bake unless I get a wild hair (with usually disastrous results,) I picked the appetizer category. After asking some of my Mommy friends for suggestions this was recommended to me from AllRecipes.com. I have to say, they are a perfect balance of smokey, sweet and salty.
Bacon Wrapped Smokies
2 packages of little smokies
2 packages of bacon
1 cup or so of brown sugar.
Cut bacon into thirds. Wrap each smokie with the bacon really tightly. Put brown sugar in a bowl and roll the bacon wrapped smokie in the sugar. Cover a cookie sheet with foil. Place a wire rack on the cookie sheet and line your smokies up on the rack with space between each one. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees and cook for 40 minutes. Serve warm OR After cooling, place all smokies in a crock pot, add 1/2 cup of maple syrup and serve with fancy toothpicks on the side.
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Some dishes don't photograph very well. I mean, I don't claim to be a food photographer by any means, but this didn't photograph that well. Anyway, it was very good. It brought back some childhood taste that I couldn't quite place. This would make a great brunch item, perfect for the holidays that are coming up! The girls asked for 3rds not even realizing that it was laced with SPINACH. Then again, that ingredient is probably the lone healthy thing in the dish...
Ham and Spinach Casserole
20-24 oz shredded potatoes (or about 5 smallish baking potatoes)
2 cups shredded cheese, divided
1 can cream of celery soup
1/2 onion diced small
1 stalk celery diced very small
8-10 oz diced ham
1 cup of sour cream
10 oz frozen spinach, thawed and drained
salt and pepper
1 egg (optional)
In a pot, saute the onions and celery until soft. Add soup, sour cream, 1 1/2 cups of cheese, spinach and ham. Stir very well. Add potatoes. (You can either use a grater, a food processor or buy pre-shredded potatoes.) Stir everything really well and pour into a greased baking dish. Top with remaining cheese and bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes. Take out of the oven and break an egg on top and bake for an addtional 10-15 minutes or until the egg whites are cooked through and the yellow is still runny.
In my family the dressing is prized over the turkey. As a matter of fact we usually make the turkey to compliment the dressing. We need the turkey "juices" as my Mema calls them. Also, with the leftover turkey we'd chop it up and add it to the dressing and eat on it for days. Why days? Because we make a small bathtubs worth of dressing every year so that everyone in the family can have leftovers. The thing is, this recipe is simple and I totally get that it isn't for everyone, because one thing I've learned is that people like and want the dressing they grew up with. Here's our family version. This makes a big lasagna pan, for a smaller amount, half the recipe, we usually triple it at least! Oh, one other thing. I'll run this recipe by my Mema to make sure it gets the final stamp of approval!
Thanksgiving Cornbread Dressing
2 recipes of cornbread (Homemade, CornKit, whatever suits you)
6 hard boiled eggs
1 onion finely diced
3 stalks of celery finely diced
4 pieces of the whitest white bread you can find
salt & pepper to taste
ground sage to tast <- this is hard to put a measure on, but probably at LEAST 3-4 tbsp.
6-8 cups of liquid: which means as much turkey "stock/juice" as you can get your sticky fingers on (the gravy people in the family also fight for this high prized commodity!) Supplement turkey drippings with chicken STOCK (not broth) and water if you must.
A lot of recipes have you saute your veggies before you add them to the dressing, our family likes the crunch so we put the veggies in raw. So, dice up your onions, celery and the hard boiled eggs and set aside. In a very large mixing bowl crumble up your cornbread into various sized pieces. With the white bread, tear off small pieces and roll and crumble them between your fingers to evenly distribute throughout the cornbread. Add veggies and egg and mix well. Add salt and pepper. Add sage. Stirring everything in very well. Now you do a "dry" taste until the seasonings taste right. Add the liquids. Transfer to baking dishes and cook on 325 degrees until the top gets browned. It is important to taste every 10-15 minutes just to make "sure" the seasoning is correct. Also just as important to have multiple tasters available.
I can't say how long you bake it because other things are usually crowding the oven and the temp goes up and down depending on what else is in the oven. That is just a Thanksgiving issue!