Creating memories in the kitchen...One meal at a time.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Broccoli Salad

This is another salad I really enjoy. The crisp broccoli ,crumbly bacon, crunchy nuts, tangy cranberries, and delicious dressing all combine to make this one of my favorites. If you're short on time, you can use bottled poppy seed dressing in place of the homemade. You can tailor it to your tastes. Sometimes I replace the cheddar cheese with Swiss, or leave it out. Sometimes I use slivered almonds instead of the sunflower seeds. However you make it, this is a great side dish for a potluck or casual family dinner.

Broccoli Salad
The Essential Mormon Cookbook

2 bunches fresh broccoli (about 1 lb.) cut in small florets
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
1 cup grated cheddar cheese (I sometimes use Swiss instead)
6 strips bacon, cooked until crisp and crumbled
1/2 cup sunflower seeds or slivered almonds
1/2 cup craisins or raisins
1 recipe Broccoli Salad Dressing
In a large bowl combine broccoli, onion, and cheese. Refrigerate. Just before serving, stir in bacon. Add nuts and craisins. Pour desired amount of dressing over salad. Stir briefly. This recipe is best when eaten the same day it is made.
Broccoli Salad Dressing
1 cup mayonnaise
2 tbsp. red or white wine vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
Mix ingredients. Chill at least one hour before tossing with salad. Makes 6 servings.
Posted by: Sallie

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Sunday, August 30, 2009

Starbucks Banana Walnut Bread

I was in Starbucks the other day and they were handing out these recipe cards with this recipe on it. It looked good, so I thought I'd give it a try. I made it for breakfast this morning and it was delicious, especially when it was still warm! I even substituted whole wheat flour and you couldn't tell.
Starbucks Banana Walnut Bread
From Starbucks Coffe Company
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 egg
1 1/3 cups sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tbsp. buttermilk
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 ripe medium-large bananas (mashed)
1/2 cup + 1/3 cup chopped walnuts
Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour a 9x5x3 loaf pan and dust with flour. Blend together the flour, baking soda and salt and set aside. Mix together the egg, sugar and vegetable oil until combined. Add the flour mixture and when blended add the buttermilk, vanilla and mased bananas and mix until combined. Fold in 1/2 cup chopped walnuts and pour batter into prepared loaf pan. Top batter with remaining 1/3 cup chopped walnuts. Bake for 45 to 60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack before removing from pan.
Posted by: Julia
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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Sweet and Easy Cornbread

Picture Courtesy of Our Best Bites

I am just willing Fall to get here so I can start breaking out my Fall recipes again. I love the spring and summer months that come with a lot of light dishes and grilling but I have to admit I think the warm comfort foods of fall and winter are my favorite. Truth be told, I never really liked cornbread until about 7 years ago when I tried this recipe. Most of the cornbread I had tried was too dry, too crumbly, not sweet enough, and basically, not worth eating. This recipe changed that and since then I have found several other recipes I like too. Another tip from Our Best Bites--replacing the water called for in the recipe with milk--made it even better. I'm sharing this one first because it's so yummy and easy. You can make it into muffins, or squares. I love it with Cinnamon Honey Butter.

Sweet and Easy Cornbread

1 yellow cake mix
2 Jiffy cornbread mixes
Oil, milk, and eggs according to package directions

Preheat oven according to directions on cake mix box. Combine cake mix and cornbread mixes in a large bowl. Add eggs, oil, and milk according to package directions (replace all water with milk). Mix together according to cake mix directions.

Bake according to directions on cake mix. Usually around 20 minutes for the muffins and 30 for the cake. If you find that it is not done in the center and browning too quickly, cover with foil and keep cooking until middle is done.

*This makes a lot of cornbread and since I don't really like using half a cake mix I usually just make it all and freeze the leftovers. You can either do 24 muffins, 12 muffins and a 9 x13 or a 9x13 and 8x8 pan. *
Posted by: Sallie
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Friday, August 28, 2009

Italian Baked Chicken and Pastina

Awhile ago, as I was making my weekly menu, this popped up on Food Network and I decided to give it a try. It was simple to put together and delicious. Throw together a green salad and there you go. An easy and pretty healthy meal. One thing I have noticed about Giada's recipes is that she uses a lot of olive oil. I usually half the amount called for in the recipe and then if it doesn't look like it will be enough, add a little more.

Italian Baked Chicken & Pastina

Giada De Laurentiis

1 cup pastina pasta (or any small pasta)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup cubed chicken breast (1-inch cubes)
1/2 cup diced onion (about 1/2 a small onion)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice
1 cup shredded mozzarella
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1 tablespoon butter, plus more for buttering the baking dish (or just use butter flavored cooking spray)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until just tender, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Drain pasta into a large mixing bowl.
Meanwhile, put the olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook for 3 minutes. Add the onions and garlic, stirring to combine, and cook until the onions are soft and the chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes more. Put the chicken mixture into the bowl with the cooked pasta. Add the canned tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, parsley, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine. Place the mixture in a buttered 8 by 8 by 2-inch baking dish. In a small bowl mix together the bread crumbs and the Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle over the top of the pasta mixture. Dot the top with small bits of butter. Bake until the top is golden brown, about 30 minutes.

Posted by: Sallie
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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Cinnamon Swirl Bread

One of my all-time favorite breads is Cinnamon Swirl Bread. This recipe tops my list because it has an extra sprinkling of cinnamon & sugar on top of the bread. It also uses two kinds of sugar and lots of cinnamon for a delicious filling. Sometimes I skip the cinnamon/sugar on top and use a powdered sugar glaze. This bread makes really good French Toast too!

Cinnamon Swirl Bread
Cooks Country

Serves 8

Cinnamon Sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
5 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 1/2 cups milk , heated to 110 degrees
4 tablespoons unsalted butter , 3 tablespoons melted
3 large egg yolks
4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour , plus more as needed
1 envelope (2 1/4 teaspoons) rapid-rise yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1. For the cinnamon sugar: Combine ingredients in small bowl, breaking up clumps. Cover tightly with plastic wrap.

2. For the bread: Spray large bowl with cooking spray. Whisk milk, melted butter, and yolks in large liquid measuring cup. Mix 1/4 cup cinnamon sugar, yeast, sugar, flour, and salt in large bowl of standing mixer fitted with dough hook. Turn mixer to low and slowly add milk mixture. After dough comes together, increase speed to medium and mix until dough is smooth and comes away from sides of bowl, 5 to 6 minutes. (If dough seems too sticky, add up to 1/4 cup more flour during kneading.) Turn dough out onto unfloured counter and knead to form smooth, round ball. Transfer dough to greased bowl and turn to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour. (Do not place in warm oven or sugar in dough will melt.)

3. Spray 9 by 5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray. On lightly floured surface, press dough into 20 by 8-inch rectangle, with short side facing you. Using spray bottle, lightly and evenly spray dough with water. Sprinkle 1/2 cup cinnamon sugar over dough, leaving 2-inch border along top edge. Lightly spray cinnamon sugar with water until damp but not wet. Starting at edge nearest you, roll up dough, then pinch seam and ends closed. Place loaf seam side down in prepared pan, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and let rise at room temperature until 1 inch above rim of pan, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

4. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Melt remaining tablespoon butter and brush over top of dough. Sprinkle with remaining cinnamon sugar and bake until top is deep brown and center of bread registers 185 to 190 degrees on instant-read thermometer, 45 to 60 minutes. Turn bread out onto rack and cool to room temperature, about 2 hours. Slice as desired. (Bread can be kept in airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.)
Posted by: Sallie
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Mexican Chicken Soup

Even though it's still summer and hot as ever I have been craving a good bowl of soup. This soup fit the bill as something light for summer and flavorful. If you like tortilla soup, give this recipe a try. It's very similar but instead of an all chicken broth this recipe uses pureed tomatoes and chipotle pepper for added flavor. It also has kidney beans and corn. We used all the same toppings-- avocado, tortilla strips, cheese and tomatoes. It's a little on the spicy side so if you prefer a milder broth, reduce the amount of adobo sauce.

Mexican Chicken Soup
slightly adapted from Cook's Country

6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1 large onion , quartered
4 cloves garlic , peeled
10 sprigs cilantro
Table salt
1 (14.5-ounce) can whole tomatoes in juice , drained, with juice reserved
1/2 jalapeno chile , seeds and ribs removed
1 canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce plus 1 tablespoon sauce (can be found in Mexican Food isle)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 cups frozen corn kernels
2 (14-ounce) cans kidney beans , drained and rinsed (You could also use pinto or black beans)
2 tablespoons lime juice

Optional garnish: tortilla strips, avocado, monterey jack cheese, cilantro, tomatoes

1. Bring 4 cups broth, chicken, 2 onion quarters, 2 garlic cloves, cilantro, and 1/2 teaspoon salt to boil in large skillet over high heat. Cover and cook over low heat until chicken is cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer chicken to large plate.
2. Puree tomatoes, remaining 2 onion quarters, remaining 2 garlic cloves, jalapeño, chipotle, and adobo sauce in blender until smooth.
3. Heat oil in Dutch oven over high heat until shimmering. Add tomato mixture and 1/8 teaspoon salt and cook until darkened in color, 8 to10 minutes. Strain broth directly into pot with tomato puree (discard solids). Add remaining 2 cups broth, reserved tomato juice, corn, and beans and simmer to blend flavors, about 5 minutes. Shred or dice chicken into bite-sized pieces and add to soup. Stir in lime juice and season with salt and pepper. Serves 6-8.

Posted by: Sallie
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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Baked Penne with Corn, Zucchini and Basil

I love a lot of vegetarian dishes, but my husband does not, so I was a little worried when I came across this recipe, but it just looked so tasty I had to try it. Well, he didn't miss the meat at all! He even asked for seconds. It was so delicious and very healthy with all the vegetables. I was able to make the whole meal in about an hour, which is perfect for us.
Baked Penne with Corn, Zucchini and Basil
from Williams Sonoma
Kosher salt, to taste
1/2 lb. penne
6 Tbs. olive oil, plus more as needed
Kernels cut from 2 ears of corn (I used frozen)
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
8 zucchini, about 2 lb. total, cut into half-moons
1/2 yellow onion, diced
4 tomatoes, cored, seeded and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 Tbs. sliced garlic
1 tsp. chopped fresh oregano
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 Tbs. tomato paste
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh basil
6 oz. mozzarella cheese, grated
2 oz. Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated

Preheat an oven to 400ºF. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Generously salt the water, add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain the pasta and rinse under cold running water. Set aside.
In a 12-inch nonstick fry pan over medium-high heat, warm 3 Tbs. of the olive oil. Add the corn, season with salt and black pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the corn is lightly golden, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl. Set aside.
Return the pan to medium-high heat and warm the remaining 3 Tbs. olive oil. Working in batches, add the zucchini, season with salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the zucchini is tender and golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Add to the bowl with the corn. Repeat with the remaining zucchini, adding more oil to the pan as needed.
Set the pan over medium-low heat. Add the onion, 1 tsp. salt and black pepper, to taste. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent, about 2 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, garlic, oregano and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes soften and begin to form a sauce, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 1 minute. Add the wine and cook until the wine has reduced and the sauce is fairly thick, about 3 minutes more.
Add the pasta, tomato sauce, basil, mozzarella and half of the Parmigiano-Reggiano to the bowl with the vegetables and stir to combine. Transfer to the fry pan and sprinkle the remaining Parmigiano-Reggiano on top. Transfer the pan to the oven and bake until golden brown on top, 20 to 25 minutes. Serve warm. Serves 8.
Posted by: Julia
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Monday, August 24, 2009

Classic Chocolate Layer Cake

My husband just had a birthday and I had visions of a delicious, fancy cake but as I've told you before my husband likes things simple and requested "a plain chocolate cake." Looking through my cookbooks I came across this cake and then dismissed it because it was named Classic Dark Chocolate Layer Cake. Eventually I ended up coming back to it because it just looked so good. Unlike the name, this cake has no dark chocolate in it (which I love but my husband doesn't.)just a hefty 3/4 cup of baking cocoa! It's your basic, good old fashioned chocolate layer cake. The buttermilk and sour cream gave it a nice moist texture and the layers baked up nice and tall. In my opinion the icing was the best part.

Classic Chocolate Layer Cake

A Passion for Baking


1 cup unsalted butter, softened (I used salted and it was fine)

2 cups sugar

3 large eggs

2 tsp pure vanilla extract

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

3/4 cup cocoa powder

2 1/4 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1 cup buttermilk

3/4 cup sour cream


1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips, melted and cooled

3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

3/4 cup cocoa powder, measured then sifted

3 to 4 cups confectioners sugar, measured then sifted

1/2 cup half and half or water (I used half and half)

optional: chocolate curls for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously spray two 9 in. round cake pans with nonstick cooking spray and line with parchment paper circles. Place pans on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.

In a mixer bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla and blend well. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Fold dry ingredients into wet and mix, adding buttermilk and sour cream as mixture blends. Blend on low speed about 3 minutes scraping sides and bottom once to incorporate all ingredients. Pour batter into prepared pans.

Bake on middle oven rack, 35 to 40 minutes, until cakes barely spring back when gently pressed with fingertips. Let cool in pan.

For icing, in a mixer bowl, on low speed, blend melted chocolate with butter. Add vanilla, cocoa, and half of confectioners sugar. Add remaining confectioners' sugar and mix slowly. Once sugar is more or less blended in, whip on high speed, using whisk attachment, adding a bit of half and half or water to get a light, fluffy consistency.

*If not using icing right away, rewhip before using. Add additional warm water (1 tbsp. at a time) to get correct consistency.*

To frost cake, semi-freeze layers first, 20-45 minutes, for easier handling. Turn flatter side (the bottom) of 1 layer down. Ice that layer. Top it with other layer, with bottom of cake facing up. Press down lightly and finish icing sides and top of cake Add chocolate shavings or curls, if desired. Makes 12-14 servings.

Posted by: Sallie
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Thursday, August 20, 2009

My New Favorite Pizza

Having kids means eating a lot of pizza. At least around here it does. It's one of those meals all of my kids will eat. This is my new favorite pizza crust. It uses an Artisanal technique which allows the dough to rest before it is thoroughly mixed and then allowing a long slow second rise which results in a puffy, crisp and chewy pizza dough. It also calls for all purpose and bread flour and something else interesting--you put on the toppings before the second rise. It's my new favorite crust. These pictures just don't do it justice. I'll blame it on my amateur camera skills. Use this if you want extra good sauce. I also used a combination of mozerella cheese and an italian blend cheese.

Pizza Dough

A Passion for Baking

*Makes 2 pizzas*

1 3/4 cups warm water (100 to 110 degrees)

2 tsp. rapid- rise yeast

1/4 cup semolina flour or 2 tbsp. cornmeal (I used the cornmeal)

2 tsp. salt

1 tbsp. honey or sugar

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 cups all purpose flour

3 -4 cups bread flour (I used 3)

Olive oil, for drizzling

additional cornmeal for dusting pans, if desired

In a mixer bowl, hand-whisk water and yeast together and let stand 2-3 minutes to dissolve yeast. Briskly whisk in semolina, salt, sugar, oil, and all purpose flour. Stir in enough bread flour to make a shaggy mass that is barely combined, about 2 minutes. Then cover loosely with plastic and let stand 30 minutes. Stir down dough and then knead with dough hook on lowest speed 6-8 minutes, dusting with additional flour as necessary to make a soft dough. (I used 3 cups and did not have to add any additional flour).

Remove dough hook, spray dough with nonstick cooking spray, and cover entire mixer and bowl with a large clear plastic bag. (I just put mine in a big plastic bowl and put it inside a turkey cooking bag. It worked great!) Let dough rise 45-60 minutes.

To make pizzas, gently deflate dough and divide into 2 or 3 large rounds, as required. You can place rounds in cast-iron skillets or on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet drizzled with olive oil. (This is what I did. I also dusted the sheet with cornmeal) Stretch to fit pans, turning in edges to make a thick crust.

Once pizzas are formed, spray with nonstick cooking spray and then garnish as desired. Cover loosely with a large sheet of plastic wrap and let dough rise 90 minutes or until dough is very light and puffed up.

To bake, preheat oven to 475 degrees. Bake pizzas on upper rack until done and pizzas are browned all over 12-20 minutes. Makes 2-3 pizzas depending on size.

Posted by: Sallie

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Turon - A Filipino Dessert

My Filipino friend, Rose, has us over for "happy hour" at her house last weekend and she made this dessert. It was so yummy, I had to try it for myself at my house! I'm not usually a big fan of fried foods, but I figure the nutrition of the banana balances out the deep frying (:
4 Soba Bananas or 2 regular bananas
Can of Jack Fruit
4 eggroll wrappers
Oil for frying
Vanilla Ice Cream (optional)
Chocolate Syrup (optional)
Cut each banana in half length wise. If using regular bananas, cut each banana in half cross wise and then again length wise. Drain jack fruit and cut two pieces length wise into half. Place one eggroll wrapper diagonally on a workable surface. Place jack fruit on lower 1/3 of wraper. Place one piece of banana on top of the jack fruit. Begin rolling from the corner closest to the fruit. When you get about half way, fold in the sides (like a burrito) and continue rolling. Repeat to make 4 total.
Place 1" of oil in wok or deep fryer and heat on medium high until hot. Fry one piece at a time for 1-2 minutes, turning once, until golden brown. Drain on a plate lined with paper towels.
Serve with a scoop of icecream and drizzle with chocolate syrup if desired.
Posted By: Julia
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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Kitchen Sink Cookies

I'll admit, from the name and even the picture these cookies might not sound like much but once you taste them all that will change. These cookies have something for everyone from crisp rice cereal, chopped up candy bars, marshmallows and coconut to lots of vanilla and buttery brown sugar. As the description from the cookbook reads--"these cookies rock! They are funky, sticky, chewy, buttery, and crisp. The marshmallows and the cereal are part of their charm." Couldn't have said it better myself.

Kitchen Sink Cookies
A Passion For Baking

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1 1/2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar

1/4 cup white sugar

1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

2 large eggs

2 cups all purpose flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1 /4 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

1 1/2 cups rolled oats

2 cups crisp rice cereal (like rice krispies)

1 1/2 cups miniature marshmallows

1/2 cups butterscotch chips or toffee bits (I used the toffee)

1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

3/4 cup chopped milk chocolate bars (about 2 1/2 regular sized Hershey's bars)

1 cup sweetened shredded coconut, optional (I used this)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stack two baking sheets together and line top sheet with parchment paper. (I did this for the first batch and then just did the second batch with one cookie sheet. They seemed to turn out better this way and seeing as I only have 4 cookie sheets and didn't want to be doing this all night opted for just one cookie sheet.)

In a mixer bowl, cream softened butter and melted butter with both sugars and vanilla. Add eggs, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and blend well. Stir in oats, cereal, marshmallows, butterscotch or toffee chips, semi sweet chocolate chips, milk chocolate and coconut (if using) to make a well- blended cookie dough.

For each cookie, scoop 2-3 tablespoons of dough and place on prepared baking sheets, spacing 2 inches apart.

Bake 12-14 minutes until set all over. You should see crisp edges and some marshmallow leaking out. That is fine. Let cool on baking sheets. Makes 2-3 dozen.

Posted by: Sallie
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Puff Up Pancake

I felt like I was in a rut for breakfast--same old things--waffles, oatmeal, cereal, pancakes, eggs but I still needed something quick and easy. Searching through my stack of recipes I came across this one and decided to give it a try. The kids liked the change from traditional pancakes and loved watching it puff up in the oven and I liked how quick it was to whip up and throw in the oven. Totally buttery and utterly delicious. A new favorite for me. Especially yummy topped with assorted fruit and powdered sugar. I'm adding this to my breakfast repertoire.
Puff Up Pancake

1/2 C butter
5 eggs
1 1/4 C milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 C flour

Melt butter in 9 x 13 pan in oven while oven is preheating to 425 degrees. Mix eggs, flour and milk with wire whisk or use blender. Add batter to dish and bake for 20-25 minutes. Serve with fruit, powdered sugar and lemon juice or syrup, if desired.
Posted by: Sallie
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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Ginger Spice Cookies

A great classic cookie from the famous Paula Deen. Soft and sugary, the perfect after school snack or lunch box treat. The perfect Fall cookie. Eating them makes me want to whip up some chili and carve pumpkins.Next time I'm going to try adding white chocolate chips or dipping them in white chocolate. Or how about sandwiching them with some vanilla ice cream and a drizzle or two of caramel sauce.

Ginger Cookies
Paula Deen

3/4 cup vegetable shortening (I used Butter Flavored Crisco)

1 cup sugar

1 egg

1/4 cup molasses

2 cup sifted all-purpose flour

2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon salt

Additional sugar for rolling cookies

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Line the cookie sheets with parchment paper or nonstick baking mats. Using electric mixers, at low speed, cream the shortening and sugar until thoroughly combined. Add the egg and molasses and beat until completely incorporated. Sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon ginger, cloves and salt and add to the mixture. Stir until combined. Roll the dough into balls about 1 inch in diameter. Roll the balls in sugar. Place 1/2 inch apart on the prepared cookie sheets. Flatten the balls slightly with fingertips. Bake for 12 minutes. Cool on wire racks.
Yield: about 3 dozen
Posted by: Sallie
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Monday, August 17, 2009

Cesar Grilled Chicken Sandwich

Remember the delicious soft wrap bread? Try this simple filling for an easy, delicious & healthy summer meal. Yummy grilled chicken and grilled or sauted veggies mixed with Cesar dressing and lettuce. Add your delicious bread and there you go! You only need 6 ingredients and 3 simple steps to assemble. How simple is that? If you're really in a hurry, just skip the veggies and just do the lettuce. Remember to grate on a little fresh Parmesan Cheese. Yum!

* I cheated and used bottled Caesar dressing but if you're interested in the homemade version you can try this.*

Caesar Grilled Chicken Sandwich

1 pound boneless chicken breasts or thighs
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and quartered
1 large onion, peeled and sliced in 1/2" slices
1 medium zucchini, sliced crosswise into 1/4"-thick slices
romaine lettuce
Parmesan cheese, grated
Grill the chicken and vegetables over medium coals until done (or sauté them in a skillet).

Cool, then slice the chicken and cut the vegetables into bite-size pieces.

Place a lettuce leaf on each bread. Spoon some of the filling down the center, atop the lettuce. Top with dressing and cheese and serve immediately. Makes approx 8 wraps.

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Friday, August 14, 2009

Soft Wrap Bread

I've had this Soft Wrap Bread bookmared for awhile and after hearing Melanie rave about it finally decided to try it. I am seriously in love with this bread! This bread is so soft and delicious. The possibilities are endless. Top them with taco fixings, turn them into Gyros, Pb & J wraps for the kids, top with a little honey & cinnamon butter, or eggs and cheese for a breakfast wrap. They do take about 3 hours so you'll need to plan ahead but the recipe is made in stages and none of them require much work, especially if you have a mixer. This bread is going to be making lots of appearances at my house! Stay tuned to find out what I put in these delicious wraps.

Soft Wrap Bread
from King Arthur Flour

*Makes about 8-9 breads*

3 cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour 1 1/4 cups boiling water
1/4 cup potato flour OR 1/2 cup potato buds or flakes
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon instant yeast

1) To make the bread: Place 2 cups of the flour into a bowl or the bucket of a bread machine. Pour the boiling water over the flour, and stir till smooth. Cover the bowl or bucket and set the mixture aside for 30 minutes.
2) In a separate bowl, whisk together the potato flour (or flakes or buds) and the remaining 1 cup of flour with the salt, oil and yeast.
3) Add this to the cooled flour/water mixture, stir, then knead for several minutes (by hand, mixer or bread machine) to form a soft dough. Note: You can allow the dough to go through the entire kneading cycle(s) in the bread machine, but it's not necessary; about a 5-minute knead in the machine, once it gets up to full kneading speed, is fine. The dough should form a ball, but will remain somewhat sticky. Add additional flour only if necessary; if kneading by hand, keep your hands and work surface lightly oiled.
4) Let the dough rise, covered, for 1 or 2 hours)
5) Divide the dough into 8 pieces (each about the size of a handball, around 3 ounces), cover, and let rest for 15 to 30 minutes.
6) Roll each piece into a 7"- to 8"-circle, and dry-fry them (fry without oil) over medium heat for about 1 minute per side, until they're puffed and flecked with brown spots. Adjust the heat if they seem to be cooking either too quickly, or too slowly; cooking too quickly means they may be raw in the center, while too slowly will dry them out.
7) Transfer the cooked breads to a wire rack, stacking them to keep them soft. Serve immediately, or cool slightly before storing in a plastic bag.

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Perfect Party Cake

Please excuse the paper plate.Between a birthday, Back to School Night, the First day of School and 2 house showings today, fancy dishes were just not on the agenda.

I can't believe my cute little baby just turned four today. I know it sounds so cliche but it really does seem like just yesterday that we were bringing her home from the hospital. Plus, today was the first day of school and here I was sending another little one off to Kindergarten. Where does time go?

Of course I had to make a cake to celebrate. I am usually such a fan of chocolate but when it comes to birthday cakes and kids let's face it---vanilla is much easier to clean up and I really like the flavor of vanilla cake with cream cheese frosting. This recipe comes from Dorie Greenspan's Baking from My Home to Yours. Scanning the ingredients I noticed buttermilk and lemon zest and that was all it took to convince me this was going to be a great cake. I opted to make the cake simple and skip the coconut and jam (at the request of the birthday girl.) I'm not a fan of meringue type frosting so I used my own but have included the original recipe in case you'd like to try it. (I think the coconut and strawberry jam would taste heavenly!)The cake turned out moist and flavorful and the hint of lemon was delicious. The birthday girl was happy and so was everyone else. Make sure and add this  TO DIE FOR frosting (you'll have to scroll down to the bottom of the recipe) and you'll have a one happy birthday boy or girl! (We love it after the cake has been refrigerated for a couple of hours. )
Perfect Party Cake
Baking from My Home to Yours
*Makes 12 to 14 servings*

For the Cake:
2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups whole milk or buttermilk
4 large egg whites
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon pure lemon extract
For the Butter cream:
1 cup sugar
4 large egg whites
3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from 2 large lemons)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
This is what I used.
For Finishing:
2/3 cup seedless raspberry preserves, stirred vigorously or warmed gently until spreadable
Getting Ready:
Center a rack in the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 9-x-2-inch round cake pans and line the bottom of each pan with a round of buttered parchment or wax paper. Put the pans on a baking sheet.
To Make The Cake:
Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
Whisk together the milk and egg whites in a medium bowl.
Put the sugar and lemon zest in a mixer bowl or another large bowl and rub them together with your fingers until the sugar is moist and fragrant. Add the butter and, working with the paddle or whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer, beat at medium speed for a full 3 minutes, until the butter and sugar are very light. Beat in the extract, then add one third of the flour mixture, still beating on medium speed. Beat in half of the milk-egg mixture, then beat in half of the remaining dry ingredients until incorporated. Add the rest of the milk and eggs, beating until the batter is homogeneous, then add the last of the dry ingredients. Finally, give the batter a good 2-minute beating to ensure that it is thoroughly mixed and well aerated. Divide the batter between the two pans and smooth the tops with a rubber spatula.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the cakes are well risen and springy to the tough – a thin knife inserted into the centers should come out clean. Transfer the cakes to cooling racks and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes, unmold them and peel off the paper liners. Invert and cool to room temperature right side up. (The cooled cake layers can be wrapped airtight and stored at room temperature overnight or frozen for up to 2 months.)
To Make the Butter cream:
Put the sugar and egg whites in a mixer bowl or other large heatproof bowl, fit the bowl over a pan of simmering water and whisk constantly, keeping the mixture over the heat, until it feels hot to the touch, about 3 minutes. The sugar should be dissolved, and the mixture will look like shiny marshmallow cream. Remove the bowl from the heat.
Working with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer, beat the meringue on medium speed until it is cool, about 5 minutes. Switch to the paddle attachment if you have one, and add the butter a stick at a time, beating until smooth. Once all the butter is in, beat the butter cream on medium-high speed until it is thick and very smooth, 6 to 10 minutes. During this time, the butter cream may curdle or separate – just keep beating and it will come together again. On medium speed, gradually beat in the lemon juice, waiting until each addition is absorbed before adding more, and then the vanilla. You should have a shiny, smooth, velvety, pristine white butter cream. Press a piece of plastic against the surface of the butter cream and set aside briefly.
To Assemble the Cake:
Using a sharp, serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion, slice each layer horizontally in half. Put one layer cut side up on a cardboard cake round or a cake plate protected by strips of wax or parchment paper. Spread it with one third of the preserves. Cover the jam evenly with about one quarter of the butter cream. Top with another layer, spread with preserves and butter cream and then do the same with the third layer (you’ll have used all the jam and have butter cream left over). Place the last layer cut side down on top of the cake and use the remaining butter cream to frost the sides and top. Press the coconut into the frosting, patting it gently all over the sides and top.
Serving: The cake is ready to serve as soon as it is assembled, but it’s best to let it set for a couple of hours in a cool room.
Storing: The cake is best the day it is made, but you can refrigerate it, well covered, for up to 2 days.
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Lemon Chicken Linguine

I get on my food kicks just like everyone else and I think my current flavor is lemon. This lemon pasta was the perfect light but flavorful weekday meal. Tons of flavor, but because the sauce was olive oil based it tasted really light. I loved the spiciness combined with the freshness of the lemon juice. I love meals like this that taste good and are healthy too.

Beach Street Lemon Chicken Linguine
My Kitchen Cafe

**This recipe requires marinating the chicken for 3-12 hours so plan ahead!**

1 lb. linguine

2 tablespoons olive oil

Zest from one lemon

Juice from one lemon

3 green onions, chopped (white and green parts)

¼ cup chopped fresh parsley

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese


½ cup olive oil

2 cloves garlic, crushed (smashed with the back of a large knife or saucepan)

1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning (cut this down to 1 1/2 teaspoons if you want less heat but don't omit entirely or you will lose great flavor)

Juice of one lemon

2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 chicken breasts, sliced

Combine the marinade ingredients in a bowl and whisk lightly before pouring into a Ziploc plastic bag. Pat chicken dry and toss in marinade to coat. Refrigerate 3-12 hours.When ready to cook, preheat skillet over medium heat and pour contents of plastic bag (both marinade and chicken) into the skillet. Saute over medium-high heat until chicken is cooked.Combine juice of one lemon, lemon zest, olive oil, green onions and fresh parsley together in a small bowl. Set aside.While the chicken is sauteing, cook linguine in boiling salted water until done; drain and return to warm pot. Pour lemon juice/olive oil/green onion mixture over pasta and mix lightly. When chicken is finished cooking, add hot pasta mixture to the skillet with the chicken and toss well. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste and toss in Parmesan cheese. Serve warm.
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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Chocolate Chip Zucchinni Bread

If you're taking advantage of either plentiful zucchini in your garden or just the cheap prices at your local grocery store this is great way to use zucchini. Another Paula Deen recipe that doesn't disappoint. I love that it has cinnamon & nutmeg in it, plus nuts, chocolate chips, and orange zest. If you haven't tried the chocolate/zucchini combo before you need to. A great way to get your kids to eat their veggies! This recipe makes 2 loaves so you can keep one and pass one on to a friend.

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread
Paula Deen
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 eggs
2 cups white sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups grated zucchini
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon orange zest
Whipped cream, for serving
Zucchini ribbons, for serving
Preheat oven at 350 degrees F. Grease (2) 9 by 5-inch loaf pans.
Sift together flour, baking powder, salt, spices and baking soda.
In a large bowl, beat eggs until light and fluffy. Add sugar, and continue beating until well blended. Stir in oil, vanilla, zucchini, pecans, chocolate chips, and orange zest. Stir in sifted ingredients. Pour into prepared loaf pans.
Bake for 50 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove loaves from pans and cool. Chill before slicing. Serve with whipped cream and ribbons of zucchini.

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Monday, August 10, 2009

Panettone Bread Pudding with Amaretto Sauce

I absolutely love bread pudding but have never been able to make it successfully until now! I was so excited to acutally have it turn out this time. It was so delicious. This is a great base recipe that I am going to add different things to (white chocolate, raisins, snickers, etc...). One note, I couldn't find Panettone Bread, so I just used French Bread.

Panettone Bread Pudding with Amaretto Sauce
By Giada De Laurentiis
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup whole milk
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup amaretto liqueur or amaretto flavoring
2 teaspoons cornstarch
Bread Pudding:
1 (1-pound) loaf panettone bread, crusts trimmed, bread cut into 1-inch cubes
8 large eggs
1 1/2 cups whipping cream
2 1/2 cups whole milk
1 1/4 cups sugar
To make the sauce: Bring the cream, milk, and sugar to a boil in a heavy small saucepan over medium heat, stirring frequently. In a small bowl, mix the amaretto and cornstarch to blend and then whisk into the cream mixture. Simmer over medium-low heat until the sauce thickens, stirring constantly, about 2 minutes. Set aside and keep warm. (The amaretto sauce can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Rewarm before serving.)
To make the bread pudding: Lightly butter a 13 by 9 by 2-inch baking dish. Arrange the bread cubes in the prepared dish. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, cream, milk, and sugar to blend. Pour the custard over the bread cubes, and press the bread cubes gently to submerge. Let stand for 30 minutes, occasionally pressing the bread cubes into the custard mixture. (Recipe can be prepared up to this point 2 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Bake until the pudding puffs and is set in the center, about 45 minutes. Cool slightly. Spoon the bread pudding into bowls, drizzle with the warm amaretto sauce, and serve.
Posted by: Julia
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Thai Lemongrass Soup (Tom Yum Soup)

This is my favorite thing to order whenever I eat at a Thai restaurant. I love the flavor of the lemongrass, and the chili paste gives it a kick of spice!

Thai Lemongrass Soup (Tom Yum Soup)

8 cups chicken broth
4 slices peeled fresh ginger
1 large lemongrass stalk, cut into 2-inch pieces, crushed
Grated zest of 1 large lime
1/4 cup lime or lemon juice
2 Tbs. light brown sugar
1 Tbs. red chili paste
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
1/2 lb. fresh white mushrooms, brushed clean and thinly sliced
Fresh cilantro leaves for garnish

In a large saucepan, combine the broth, ginger, lemongrass and lime zest. Place over medium heat and slowly bring to a boil. Boil for 1 minute. Reduce the heat to low, add the lime juice, brown sugar and chili paste; mix well and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the chicken pieces and simmer until tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and simmer until tender, about 1 minute more.To serve, ladle into warmed bowls. Float the cilantro leaves on top. Serves 4 to 6.

Posted by: Julia
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Friday, August 7, 2009

Cornish Game Hens with Apricot & Fig Stuffing

Well, I'm off to do the 111 mile Ulcer Bike Century with Kelly and Amy tomorrow. Hopefully all the training has paid off and to add to my excitement we are going to try and squeeze in a matinee of Julie and Julia! In honor of this movie debut I want to share another fabulous Williams Sonoma recipe with you. I will tell you this is a more time involved recipe that you would save for a special occasion. My sister has made it several times and passed on the recipe to me. The flavor of the chicken is enhanced by rubbing it with fresh herbs and the stuffing is incredible with both the sweet and savory flavors and more herbs.

Cornish Game Hens with Apricot & Fig Stuffing
Williams Sonoma
4 young chickens or Cornish hens, each 1 to 1 1/4 lb.
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup minced fresh sage
1/4 cup minced fresh rosemary
For the stuffing:
4 to 5 cups sliced or cubed 2-day-old baguette, pain au levain or any combination of coarse country breads
1 Tbs. unsalted butter
1/2 large yellow onion, minced (about 1 cup)
1 garlic clove, minced
2 cups boiling water
1/2 cup chopped dried figs
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
3 Tbs. minced fresh rosemary
3 Tbs. minced fresh thyme
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
For the glaze:
1/2 cup apricot jam
2 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
Fresh rosemary sprigs for garnish
Preheat an oven to 400°F. Rinse the birds and pat dry. Rub inside and out with the salt and pepper, then with the sage and rosemary. Discard the herbs or, if you prefer, leave some of them clinging to the skin or tucked under the skin. To make the stuffing, place the bread in a large bowl and set aside. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the boiling water and pour the mixture over the bread, turning it to soak all the pieces. Let stand until the bread is cool enough to handle and the water has been absorbed, 10 to 15 minutes. Using your hands, squeeze the bread, breaking it down until a thick paste forms. Add the dried figs and apricots, rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper, and continue squeezing to incorporate them into the paste. Spoon 1/3 to 1/2 cup stuffing into the cavity of each bird. Do not pack the cavities too full. Gently slip your fingers between the skin and the meat of the breast to make a pocket, and tuck some of the stuffing under the skin as well. Tie the legs together with kitchen string and tuck the wings under the breasts. Place the birds, breast side up, on a rack in a roasting pan and roast for 25 minutes. While the birds are roasting, make the glaze: In a small saucepan over low heat, combine the jam and vinegar and heat, stirring occasionally, until a syrup forms, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the birds from the oven and, using a pastry brush, coat them with the glaze. Return the birds to the oven and roast until the juices run clear when the thickest part of the thigh is pierced with the tip of a knife, about 25 minutes more. Remove the birds from the oven, garnish with rosemary sprigs and serve. Serves 4.
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Thursday, August 6, 2009

Lemon Velvet Tart

When it comes to dessert I usually go for the rich stuff- chocolate, brownies, cheesecake, but another of my favorite flavors is lemon. My sister and I made this tart awhile ago for a family bbq and I had forgotten all about it. It it so creamy and has great lemon flavor. You can use a prepared pie crust or make your own. We topped ours with whipped cream but a strawberry or raspberry sauce would also be delicious.

Lemon Velvet Tart
Southern Living


1/2 (15-oz.) package refrigerated piecrusts
2 (4-oz.) white chocolate bars, chopped (we just used white chocolate chips)
1 (8-oz.) package cream cheese, softened
Lemon Curd (purchased or see note & recipe below)
Whipped Cream
Strawberry or Raspberry Sauce for garnish

1. Fit piecrust into a lightly greased 9 1/2-inch tart pan; press into fluted edges. Fold any excess dough over outside of pan, and pinch to secure to pan. (This will keep piecrust from sliding down pan as it bakes.) Generously prick bottom and sides of piecrust with a fork, and freeze 20 minutes.
2. Preheat oven to 425°. Place piecrust on a baking sheet, and bake 15 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool on a wire rack 20 minutes or until completely cool. Gently tap excess crust from sides of pan, using a rolling pin.
3. Microwave white chocolate in a small microwave-safe bowl at HIGH 1 1/2 minutes or until melted and smooth, stirring at 30-second intervals.
4. Beat softened cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add melted chocolate, and beat until blended, stopping to scrape down sides. Add Lemon Curd, and beat until blended.
5. Spoon into prepared crust. Smooth filling with a spatula. Chill 4 hours.
6. Top with whipped cream or Strawberry or Raspberry Sauce if desired.
Serves 8.

*If you are going to make your own lemon curd I would do it the night before or early in the morning because of the 3 hour chilling time*
Lemon Curd

1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 cup fresh lemon juice
4 eggs yolks, lightly beaten
1/2 cup butter, cubed

1. Bring sugar, zest, and juice to a boil in a heavy nonaluminum 3 1/2-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat. Remove from heat, and gradually whisk about one-fourth hot juice mixture into egg yolks; add egg yolk mixture to remaining hot juice mixture, whisking constantly until well blended.
2. Place saucepan over medium heat, and cook, whisking constantly, at least 10 or up to 12 minutes. (Mixture will be a pudding-like thickness.)
3. Add butter, in 6 batches, whisking constantly until butter melts and mixture is well blended after each addition. Remove from heat, and pour mixture through a wire-mesh strainer into a bowl. Place plastic wrap directly on warm curd (to prevent a film from forming); chill 3 hours.
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Monday, August 3, 2009

Italian 3-Cheese Stuffed Shells

I love pasta dishes and this one was really yummy. Three types of cheeses are stuffed into jumbo pasta shells and layered in a zesty tomato sauce with what else but more delicious cheese. The original recipe called for ground beef but I had some sweet Italian sausage I needed to use up and it went perfectly. This meal does take a little planning because the sauce needs to simmer for 30 minutes but the actual hands on time is really quick. Dishes like this are nice because you can make it in advance and then cook it at dinner time.

Italian 3- cheese stuffed shells
Family Favorite Recipes

1 lb. ground beef or sweet Italian sausage
1 cup onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cups hot water
12 oz. tomato paste
1 T. instant beef bouillon granules
1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
16 oz. container cottage cheese
8 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg, beaten
24 jumbo pasta shells, cooked according to package directions

Cook beef , onion and garlic in a large skillet over medium-high heat, stirring until beef crumbles and is no longer pink; drain. Stir in water tomato paste, bouillon granules and oregano; simmer over medium heat about 30 minutes.

Stir together cottage cheese, one cup of mozzarella, Parmesan cheese and egg in a medium bowl; mix well. Stuff cooked shells with cheese mixture; arrange in a greased 9 x 13 pan. Pour sauce mixture over shells. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes. Uncover and sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese. Bake 5 more minutes or until cheese melts. Serves 6-8.
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