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

Thursday, December 16, 2010

White Cranberry Cashew Truffles


"Buttery cashews, jewel toned cranberries, and lavish white chocolate combine to make this dreamy candy that's an ideal holiday gift." I couldn't have said it better myself.

These caught my eye because they were something different and even though I'm all about tradition during the holidays, I love trying new things as well.

They were one of my favorites out of the three treats we made for our treat bags. Creamy, crunchy and a slightly tart from the cranberries. 

White Cranberry Cashew Truffles
Better Homes and Gardens

Ingredients


1 cup lightly salted roasted cashews

1/2 cup dried cranberries

12 ounces white baking chocolate, chopped

1/2 cup whipping cream

1 tablespoon butter

2 tablespoons brandy or orange juice

12 ounces white baking chocolate, chopped (or almond bark)

2 tablespoons shortening

Flaked coconut and/or snipped dried cranberries (optional)

Directions

1. For filling: In a food processor, combine cashews and the 1/2 cup dried cranberries. Cover and process until finely chopped. Transfer to a medium bowl; set aside. Place 12 ounces white chocolate in the food processor. Cover and process until finely chopped. In a small saucepan, combine whipping cream and butter. Cook and stir over medium-low heat until hot but not boiling. Remove from heat.

2. With the food processor running, carefully pour hot cream mixture through feed tube into finely chopped white chocolate. Process until smooth, stopping to scrape side of bowl if necessary. Add white chocolate mixture to cranberry mixture. Add brandy; mix well. Cover and chill about 3 hours or until firm. Shape filling into 3/4-inch balls; freeze for 15 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, for coating: In a 4-cup glass measuring cup, combine 12 ounces white chocolate and the shortening. Pour very warm tap water (100 degrees F to 110 degrees F) into a large glass bowl to a depth of 2 inches. Place measuring cup containing white chocolate in large bowl. (Water should cover bottom half of measuring cup.) Stir white chocolate constantly with a rubber spatula until melted. (This takes about 20 minutes; don't rush. If water cools, remove measuring cup. Replace cool water with very warm water; return measuring cup to bowl of water.)

4. Line a baking sheet with waxed paper. Using a fork, dip frozen balls of filling into coating, allowing excess coating to drip back into measuring cup.

5. If desired, sprinkle tops of truffles with coconut and/or snipped dried cranberries. Chill about 10 minutes or until coating is set. Store, tightly covered, in the refrigerator or freezer. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving. Makes about 60 truffles.

*Cook's note-- if you're making these in mass quantities, you might want to go with the almond bark. My sister and I found that the white chocolate tended to get too hard and then wasn't so pretty looking anymore.*
Posted by: Sallie
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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Moistest Turkey EVER!


In the rush of everything Christmas related, I almost forgot to post this amazing turkey we had for Thanksgiving.

My sister found the recipe via Food Network which claimed it's the top rated turkey on their site. I'd have to agree.

The turkey is brined in some deliciously different spices and then before cooking, stuffed with aromatics. It made for the moistest turkey we'd ever eaten. Really, throughout the whole dinner that is what everyone talked about was the turkey. This will now be our go to recipe for Thanksgiving (and Christmas) dinner.

Alton Brown's Roast Turkey
Food Network

*This turkey will need to be started 2-3 days before serving*

1 (14 to 16 pound) frozen young turkey



For the brine:

1 cup kosher salt

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1 gallon vegetable stock

1 tablespoon black peppercorns

1 1/2 teaspoons allspice berries

1 1/2 teaspoons chopped candied ginger

1 gallon heavily iced water



For the aromatics:

1 red apple, sliced

1/2 onion, sliced

1 cinnamon stick

1 cup water

4 sprigs rosemary

6 leaves sage

Canola oil

Directions
2 to 3 days before roasting:
Begin thawing the turkey in the refrigerator or in a cooler kept at 38 degrees F.

Combine the vegetable stock, salt, brown sugar, peppercorns, allspice berries, and candied ginger in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Stir occasionally to dissolve solids and bring to a boil. Then remove the brine from the heat, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate.

Early on the day or the night before you'd like to eat:

Combine the brine, water and ice in the 5-gallon bucket. Place the thawed turkey (with innards removed) breast side down in brine. If necessary, weigh down the bird to ensure it is fully immersed, cover, and refrigerate or set in cool area for 8 to 16 hours, turning the bird once half way through brining.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Remove the bird from brine and rinse inside and out with cold water. Discard the brine.

Place the bird on roasting rack inside a half sheet pan and pat dry with paper towels.

Combine the apple, onion, cinnamon stick, and 1 cup of water in a microwave safe dish and microwave on high for 5 minutes. Add steeped aromatics to the turkey's cavity along with the rosemary and sage. Tuck the wings underneath the bird and coat the skin liberally with canola oil.

Roast the turkey on lowest level of the oven at 500 degrees F for 30 minutes. Insert a probe thermometer into thickest part of the breast and reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Set the thermometer alarm (if available) to 161 degrees F. A 14 to 16 pound bird should require a total of 2 to 2 1/2 hours of roasting. Let the turkey rest, loosely covered with foil or a large mixing bowl for 15 minutes before carving.


Posted by: Sallie
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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Pecan Pie Bars


My friend Andrea brought these treats over to our family and they were such a hit, I had to get the recipe.

Pecan pie in bar form with a delicious shortbread crust. Yum! These are great for crowds or as neighbor treats because they make a whole jelly roll sheet full.

Delicious warmed up in the microwave with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.



Pecan Pie Bars
Andrea Wittwer and All Recipes

Ingredients


3 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup white sugar

1 cup butter

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 eggs

1 1/2 cups light corn syrup

1 1/2 cups white sugar

3 tablespoons margarine, melted

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 1/2 cups chopped pecans

Directions

1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease the sides and bottom of one 15x10 inch pan.

2.In a large bowl combine the flour, 1/2 cup sugar, margarine or butter and salt until the mixture resemble coarse crumbs. Press firmly into the prepared pan.

3.Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 20 minutes.

4.In a large bowl stir the eggs, corn syrup 1 1/2 cups white sugar, melted margarine and vanilla until blended. Stir in the chopped pecans.

5.Spread the filling evenly over the hot crust. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 25 minutes or until set. Let cool before slicing.  Makes about 48 bars depending on how small they are cut.

*I think these are best eaten the day they are made.*


Posted by: Sallie
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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Buttermilk Waffles---Williams Sonoma vs. King Arthur Flour

I just started making my food shopping list for Christmas. I might have started breaking out in a sweat just looking at the length of my list.  Luckily my Mom and sister will be here to help. My list included over 26 sticks of butter, 17 cups of heavy cream, and 7 packages of cream cheese. (This is for the whole week though, not just Christmas Day. I say that to rationalize the shocking amount of fat I will be consuming.) I hope  no one with a bad heart will be in attendance.  I'd better run a few extra miles in preparation.

To make up for all the goodies that I've already started eating, I decided to skip the treats and post a slightly healthier recipe.

Ever since having these delicious waffles at my sister's house I have been a loyal fan. We have waffles pretty much every Sunday and I freeze the leftovers for quick breakfasts during the week. I'm a huge fan of  Williams Sonoma. They  have so many tried and true, delicious recipes that have become staples at our house.

That being said, I'm also a huge fan of King Arthur Flour. I have this book that has so many yummy recipes. Their buttermilk waffles are no exception. With a whole stick of butter and two teaspoons of vanilla, their flavor is fabulous. No egg white beating required and one batch makes about 10 waffles. Perfect for leftovers during the week.

 My kids love them topped with whipped cream and syrup. What can I say, they take after me. I usually throw in a few banana slices because adding fruit makes me feel better about the whipped cream. I love having two recipes to alternate between and they are both delicious.

Classic Buttermilk Waffles
King Arthur Flour

2 large eggs


1 3/4 cups buttermilk

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted and cooled to room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 cups Round Table Unbleached Pastry OR 1 3/4 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

2 tablespoons sugar (leave this out if you want savory waffles, such as the type you'd use as a base for creamed chipped beef or creamed chicken)

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon soda

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup pecan meal (optional, I never use this)

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, beat together the eggs, buttermilk, melted butter or margarine and vanilla. In another bowl whisk together the dry ingredients. Combine the wet and dry ingredients just until almost smooth.

Spray your waffle iron with a non-stick cooking spray before preheating it. For an 8-inch round waffle iron, use about 1/3 cup batter. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until the iron stops steaming. Yield: about ten 8-inch waffles.

*cooks note - If you have a scale, this is a recipe where measuring the flour really makes a difference.*

Posted by: Sallie
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Sunday, December 5, 2010

Egg Nog Marshmallows

One of my most vivid Christmas memories is seeing the kitchen counters, of the house I grew up in, covered in plates and mass quantities of goodies. My mom (and her little helpers) would spend weeks making delicious treats.Then we would all hop in the car and deliver the treats we'd made to all of our friends and family.

Now that my sister and I are grown we still talk about how amazing our Mom is and how we can't believe she made ALL THOSE TREATS by herself. Especially with three little kids underfoot. Being mothers and cooks ourselves we realize all of the love and work that went into the holiday plates. I know my Mother's love for cooking is what inspires us and brings back so many fond memories of our childhood.

Once we were on our own we would still get together every year and make our annual Christmas plates. My Mom lives too far away now  for our annual baking days but my sister and I are keeping the tradition alive. Some years we make LOTS of treats and other years (when the holidays creep up way too fast) we keep it simple. But no matter what, we always remember our Mom and the fun Christmas memories she gave us.

This is one of those years that we just kept it simple. We tried out a few new recipes and this was one of our favorites.

Eggnog Marshmallows
Better Homes and Gardens 



2 envelopes unflavored gelatin (4-1/4 tsp.)



3/4 cup cold water


2 cups granulated sugar


2/3 cup light-colored corn syrup


1/3 cup refrigerated egg white product or 2 pasteurized egg whites*


1/4 tsp. salt


1 tsp. rum extract


1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg


Nonstick cooking spray


2/3 cup powdered sugar


3 Tbsp. cornstarch


4 oz. white baking chocolate with cocoa butter or vanilla-flavored candy coating, chopped


White nonpareils


Directions


1. Lightly coat an 8x8x2-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Line pan with plastic wrap or line bottom of pan with waxed paper or parchment paper. Coat the plastic or paper with nonstick cooking spray; set pan aside.






2. In a large metal or heatproof bowl sprinkle gelatin over 1/2 cup of the cold water; set aside.






3. In a 2-quart heavy saucepan stir together remaining 1/4 cup water, 1-3/4 cups of the sugar, and the corn syrup until combined. Bring to boiling over medium-high heat. Clip a candy thermometer to the side of the saucepan (see Candy Thermometer, below). Cook, without stirring, over medium-high heat until thermometer registers 260 degrees F, (hard-ball stage) 12 to 15 minutes total. Remove from heat; pour over gelatin mixture in bowl and stir well to combine (mixture will foam up).






4. Meanwhile, in a clean large mixing bowl beat the egg whites and salt with an electric mixer on high speed until foamy. Gradually add remaining 1/4 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, until stiff peaks form (tips stand straight), 3 to 4 minutes. Beat in rum extract and nutmeg until combined. With the mixer running on high speed, gradually add gelatin mixture to egg white mixture, beating about 7 minutes or until thick (like the consistency of thick, pourable cake batter). Quickly pour marshmallow mixture into prepared pan, spreading to edges of pan. Lightly coat another piece of plastic wrap with nonstick cooking spray; place, coated side down, over marshmallow mixture. Let stand at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours until firm.






5. Remove plastic wrap from top of marshmallows. In a small bowl combine powdered sugar and cornstarch; sprinkle about a quarter of the mixture evenly onto a large cutting board. Loosen sides of marshmallows, if necessary, and carefully invert onto the cutting board. Remove plastic wrap or paper. Sprinkle top with some of the remaining powdered sugar mixture. Using a knife that has been dipped in warm water, cut square into 20 marshmallows. Place squares, a few at a time, in a large resealable plastic bag. Add remaining powdered sugar mixture; seal bag and toss to coat all sides of marshmallows with powdered sugar mixture.






6. In a small saucepan, cook and stir white chocolate just until melted. Let stand 5 to 10 minutes or until cooled but not set. Spread in a thin, even layer over the top of the marshmallows. Top with nonpareils. Store marshmallows between sheets of waxed paper or parchment paper in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Or freeze for up to 1 month. Bring to room temperature 30 minutes before serving. Makes 20 large marshmallows.

Posted by: Sallie & Julia






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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Martha Stewarts Cream Cheese Pie Crust


I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. We had a delicious dinner at my Mom's. It was so fun being in the kitchen with my Mom and sister. The turkey was amazingly moist. Everyone agreed it was the best turkey ever (I'll be posting the recipe soon.)
 The kids did a wonderful job of decorating the tables and I enjoyed THREE pieces of pie and  didn't even feel guilty because it was Thanksgiving.  I used a new pie crust recipe my friend Heidi told me about. A pie crust with cream cheese? How could I resist?  It was simple to make and the cream cheese made the crust really easy to work with. It turned out beautiful. My only caution-- make sure you use either a pie crust shield (or wrap the crust with foil) to prevent it from overbrowning. I wasn't paying attention and let the top get too brown but the inside crust was delicious!
 
Cream Cheese Pie Crust
Martha Stewart

*Makes one 9-inch crust*

2 teaspoons cold water

1 teaspoon cold cider vinegar

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for surface

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 ounces (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

4 ounces cold cream cheese, cut into small pieces

Directions

1.Combine water and vinegar in a small bowl. Combine flour and salt in another bowl. Using a pastry cutter or your fingers, cut butter and cream cheese into flour mixture until mixture resembles coarse crumbs with some larger pieces remaining.

2.Add water mixture to dough in a slow, steady stream, stirring, until mixture just begins to hold together. (Alternatively, pulse ingredients in a food processor.) Turn out onto a piece of plastic wrap, and wrap. Press dough into a disk using a rolling pin. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour or overnight. (Dough can be frozen for up to 1 month; thaw before using.)
3.Roll dough into a 12-inch round on a lightly floured surface. Fit dough into a 9-inch pie dish. Trim edge, leaving a 1-inch overhang. Turn overhang under so that edge is flush with rim. Flute edge. Freeze until firm, about 15 minutes.

Posted by: Sallie
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Monday, November 22, 2010

Chocolate Thumbprints

Although I could happily live on chocolate chip cookies for the rest of my entire life, I also like trying new things, like these chocolate thumbprints.

Not only are they cute as can be, these little two bite beauties are pretty tasty too. Buttery, little shortbread rounds with a  creamy chocolate filling, I bet you'll have a hard time eating just one!

Simple enough for everyday, yet pretty enough for a baby shower or holiday plate, these little thumbprint cookies are going in my "keep" file. I also have a sneaking suspicion that the jam and double chocolate versions could be making an appearance really soon.





Chocolate Thumbprints
Martha Stewart

*Makes about 2 dozen*

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter

1/2 cup confectioners' sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped

1 1/2 teaspoons light corn syrup

Directions

1.Heat oven to 350 degrees. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together 1 stick butter, sugar, salt, and vanilla on medium-high speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Beat in flour, beginning on low speed and increasing to medium high.

2.Roll dough by teaspoonfuls into balls, and place 1 inch apart on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes, remove from oven, and press thumb into tops of cookies to make indentations. Return to oven, and bake until light brown on the edges, 7 to 9 minutes more. Remove to a wire rack to cool.

3.Combine chocolate, 4 tablespoons butter, and corn syrup in a small heat-proof bowl. Set over a pot of simmering water; stir occasionally until melted and smooth. Allow to cool slightly. When cookies are cool, fill the thumbprints with the chocolate mixture.

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Posted by: Sallie
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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Salsa Chicken

I recently participated in a recipe exchange and was given this recipe.  It is so delicious and easy!  I was surprised at how good such simple ingredients can taste.

Salsa Chicken

Ingredients:

4 chicken breasts
1 Jar of salsa (Picante, old el paso whatever you like; choose the heat you like I use mild)
Can of corn or thawed frozen corn
salt/pepper
garlic powder
onion powder
1 cup of shredded jack cheese

Sear the chicken in olive oil seasoned with the salt, pepper, garlic and onion powder place seared chicken in a casserole dish cover with the salsa and corn; bake covered at 350 for 40 minutes. Top with monterey jack cheese a few minutes before it's done.

Serve over white rice (if it's too spicy you can add a tbls of brown sugar while it's cooking).

In the slow cooker just put the chicken in the crock pot after you sear it with the other ingredients and cook it a low for three or four hours or at high for 1 or two hours.

Posted By: Julia
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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Giada's Marinara Sauce


Picture from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

I've long been a huge fan of Giada De Laurentiis. Her recipes are classic, delicious and usually pretty healthy too. Her marinara sauce is no exception. It turns out smooth, delicious, and thanks to Melanie's fabulous tip, of adding a couple tablespoons of butter, almost silky tasting. I love the adaptability of this recipe as well. The options are endless. Cook up some ground beef or turkey sausage, grilled chicken, or sauteed squash and zucchini for toppings.  Or eat as is for a healthy, vegetarian meal.  It's  delicious in lasagna, manicotti, or as a dip. My husband and I both agreed this is THE marinara sauce we'll be using from now on. My kids love it because there's no CHUNKS and I love it because they're eating their veggies without even knowing it!

Giada's Marinara Sauce
Giada De Laurentiis & Mel's Kitchen Cafe

*Makes about 7 cups of sauce

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 small onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 stalk celery, chopped

1 carrot, chopped

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 (28-ounce each) cans crushed tomatoes

1/2 tablespoon dried basil

1/2 tablespoon dried oregano

2 dried bay leaves

1 tablespoon brown sugar

2 tablespoons butter (optional but delicious)

In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat until hot and rippling. Add the onion and garlic and saute, stirring very frequently, until the onion is soft and translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Add the celery and carrots and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until all the vegetables are slightly tender, about 5 minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes, basil, oregano and bay leaves and simmer, covered, on low heat for 1 hour, stirring occasionally to make sure the sauce isn’t sticking to the bottom of the pot, until slightly thickened and the vegetables are completely tender. Stir in the brown sugar. Taste the sauce. Add salt and pepper as needed. Add the butter and stir to combine if you want to round out the flavors and add a dimension of silkiness.

Remove the bay leaves. In a blender or food processor, blend the sauce (in several batches, if necessary) until it is smooth. The sauce can be frozen once it is cooled completely in freezer-safe ziploc bags for up to 6 months.

Posted by: Sallie
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Monday, November 8, 2010

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars



I know I just posted a recipe for Cheesecake Bars awhile ago, but these were too good not to post. A perfect fall dessert, these bars have a little bit of everything. A delicious, buttery shortbread like crust, a creamy layer of cheesecake, cinnamon and sugar apples, a yummy struesel topping and as if that wasn't enough a drizzle of caramel. Leave it to Paula Deen. I just love her!


Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars with Streusel Topping

Paula Deen & My Kitchen Cafe
Base:

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

¼ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon cinnamon

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

Cream Cheese Layer:

2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Apples:

3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and finely chopped

2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Streusel Topping:

1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

1 cup all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup quick cooking oats

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened

1 cup caramel sauce (homemade recipe below)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.In a small bowl, stir together chopped apples, two tablespoons sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine all the streusel topping ingredients and mix until crumbly. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine flour and brown sugar. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or two forks until mixture is crumbly but combined. Press evenly into a 9X13-inch baking pan lined with aluminum foil. Bake for 10 minutes or until lightly browned.

While the crust is baking, in a large bowl, beat cream cheese with 1/2 cup sugar until smooth. Then add eggs, one at a time and then the vanilla. Mix well. Pour over the warm crust.

Spoon the apple mixture evenly over the cheesecake layer. Sprinkle the streusel topping over the apples. Bake for 30 minutes until the filling is set.

Cool the bars to room temperature. Drizzle with the caramel topping (or plate individual slices and drizzle with topping one by one).

*I cheated and used Mrs. Richardson's Caramel Sauce.*
Caramel Sauce:

4 tablespoons butter

1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

½ cups half-and-half or cream

Pinch of salt

1 tablespoon vanilla



Mix butter, brown sugar, half-and-half or cream, and salt in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook while whisking gently for 5 to 7 minutes, until thickened slightly. Add the vanilla and cook another minute to thicken further. Turn off the heat and pour the sauce into a jar. Refrigerate until cold. If the caramel sauce has cooled in the fridge long enough to harden, warm slightly before drizzling on bars.


Posted by: Sallie
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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Delicious Sugar Cookies


 

My family loves sugar cookies. We have a favorite recipe found here. My husband thinks it is a crime to even look at another recipe. Me, I'm the traitor. What can I say? Sometimes change is good. In this case, very good.

This recipe for sugar cookies is absolutely divine! Like I think I was actually moaning while I took a bite of one. (Good thing I was alone!) I loved the hint of lemon and the sweet buttery flavor. Even though they are cooked at a high temperature they keep their shape fabulously and are super soft, melt in your mouth, delicious!

Delicious Sugar Cookies
Good Things Catered and My Kitchen Cafe
Makes 2-3 dozen sugar cookies (about 2-3 inch size)

1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter, softened to cool room temperature

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1/2 cup powdered sugar

4 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1 tablespoon lemon zest (from about 1 lemon)

5 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt



Preheat oven to 400 degrees.



In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugars for 3-4 minutes, until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add vanilla extract, almond extract and lemon zest; mix. Add two cups flour, baking powder and salt. Mix. Add remaining flour and mix just until flour is incorporated and the dough is smooth and soft.

The dough can be wrapped in plastic wrap and kept in the refrigerator for up to a week or it can be rolled out right away. Dust a counter with powdered sugar or flour and roll the dough to desired thickness (I prefer my cookies on the thick side so I roll my dough out to about 1/4-inch, maybe even slightly thicker than that). Cut the dough into shapes. Place the cookies on a lined or lightly greased baking sheet. Bake for 7-8 minutes. The cookies won’t appear browned on top (or on bottom) when they are done baking so don’t let them over bake! I find 7 1/2 minutes is about perfect but if they are even lightly browned on bottom,  decrease the time by 30 seconds. This way they literally melt in my mouth.

Cool the cookies completely on a wire rack before frosting. The baked cookies (unfrosted) can be stored in a tupperware or ziploc bag in the freezer for up to a month. You can also  freeze 1/2 of the sugar cookie dough when you don’t have time or don’t want to roll it out and cut shapes. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and then stick it in a freezer-safe ziploc bag and freeze it for up to a month. Take it out the night before you want to roll it out and store it in the refrigerator to thaw (for about 12-15 hours). About 30 minutes before you want to use it,  let it sit on the counter to soften a bit and then  roll it out and cut out the cookies.

Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting

*Note: the key to success here is using really soft cream cheese and beating it with the powdered sugar until no lumps remain.


*Makes about 4 cups of frosting

1 (8 oz.) block cream cheese, softened

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream



In a large bowl, combine the softened cream cheese, powdered sugar, salt and vanilla. Mix until very smooth and light and no lumps remain. In a separate bowl, beat the cream to stiff peaks. Add the whipped cream to the cream cheese mixture. Mix until well combined and smooth. Store in the refrigerator for up to one week.



Posted by: Sallie


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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Mini Meatloaves

Even though I have a family of six, none of us are huge eaters. Sometimes this can pose a problem as in we're having leftovers again! There's only so much you can eat of one food before wanting it to disappear.
That's why I was excited to find this mini version of a family favorite.

These mini loaves turned out moist and flavorful. I used a meatloaf mix (I had my butcher mix up the exact amount I needed) but you could easily make your own combination using equal amounts of ground beef and pork. The glaze added the perfect tang.

Not only did it make a perfect amount, instead of taking over and hour to cook, these mini loaves were on the table in about 30 minutes. It was fun to serve everyone their own little loaf and know that I wouldn't be stuck eating meatloaf for the rest of my life!


Mini Meatloaves
The Best 30-Minute Recipe

Makes 4- 5 mini meatloaves.

Meatloaves:

17-20 saltine crackers, crushed fine (about 2/3 cup)

1/4 cup whole milk

1/3 cup minced fresh parsley

3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 large egg

1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 1/2 pounds ground meat (meatloaf mix or equal parts ground beef and pork)

2 teaspoons oil  (I used canola oil)

Glaze:

1/2 cup ketchup

1/4 cup packed light brown sugar

4 teaspoons cider vinegar


Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 500 degrees. Stir cracker crumbs, milk, parsley, Worcestershire sauce, egg, mustard, onion powder, garlic powder, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper together in a large bowl. Add ground meat and combine until uniform. Shape mixture into 4-5 oval loaves.

Heat oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until just smoking. Brown meatloaves well on one side (about 3-5 minutes). Carefully flip loaves over and tidy up edges using a spatula . Brown on other side for about 3 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix glaze ingredients together until smooth, then spoon glaze over top of loaves. Put loaves on baking sheet ( I always put a sheet of foil under them to make clean up easier!) and bake until centers of loaves register 160 degrees, about 15 minutes. Serve.

Posted by: Sallie
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Monday, October 25, 2010

Honey Whole Wheat Bread



One of my favorite parts of cooking is the challenge. I used to be a terrible bread and roll maker. I would end up with sticky, gooey, dough or really heavy, small, rock like rolls. Every once in awhile I would get lucky and have a batch turn out great. Now am I much more comfortable with yeast breads and (knock on wood) 99% of the time end up with great bread. Those of you who've made or tasted homemade rolls and bread know that there is no comparison to store bought!

So how did I go from being a bread making disaster to getting great results? Unfortunately there is no big, magic secret (that I know of anyway.) It all boils down to PRACTICE. Here are the few things I can share with you that have helped me.

1. Start with good recipes. I like to get my recipes from well known cookbooks, blogs (that I've made great recipes from before), and friends. Try to start out with very simple recipes and progress once you feel comfortable.

2. Invest in a thermometer. If you have recipes that call for a certain water temperature, it takes a lot of the guess work out of the process and will ensure that you are not either killing the yeast (by getting the water too hot) or not activating it enough (by not getting the water hot enough.)

3. Don't over or under flour your dough. This is where experience really comes into play. A dough that is too sticky won't rise properly while a dough that has too much flour results in tough, heavy rolls. Use your recipe as a guideline. If you feel you need to add more flour or water, do it in very small amounts and give it a minute to come together before adding more. Temperature, humidity, etc. all have an effect so use your best judgement. Once you have made a recipe multiple times, you will know what the dough should look like. *Melanie has a great yeast tutorial on her blog with photos and lots of helpful information. http://www.melskitchencafe.com/2009/11/tutorial-working-with-yeast.html

4. Practice, Practice, Practice. It's how you become successful at anything. Take a class or ask a friend who makes bread to help you.Don't get discouraged. I had a lot of failures! If I can do it, you can too.

Now, on to my recipe (which comes from The Sister's Cafe.) I have been promising myself for about 6 months that I would start making all of our bread. I finally got myself in gear and purchased a wheat grinder and some really good bread pans. I have been trying out different recipes and this one has been one of my favorites. The loaves turned out beautiful! I love using the white wheat flour. It has a much more mellow taste and even my kids (and maybe an unnamed husband) who hate wheat bread like this bread. It makes 5 loaves which is great because you can slice and freeze the leftovers. If you have an electric knife it works fantastically!

Yummy, Easy Whole Wheat Bread
The Sisters Cafe

Yield: 5 loaves

3 1/2 cups hot tap water (helps offset the cool can of milk)
1 (12oz) can evaporated milk
3 Tbs instant yeast (like SAF)
2/3 cup oil (I used canola)
1 cup honey (use the same measuring glass as the oil and the honey slides right out)
1 cup white flour
3 Tbs vital wheat gluten
2 Tbs dough enhancer (this is optional--I just happen to have some)
12 cups whole wheat flour (I used white wheat: approx 8c wheat berries= 12 c flour)
1 1/2 TBSsalt

*I ended up adding  1 cup of white flour and 1 cup of white wheat flour more than the recipe called for.*

Grind your wheat (in your electric wheat grinder) while getting everything else ready. Then, using a Bosch or other heavy duty mixer, combine ingredients in the order given, mixing well after half the flour, then add the other half of flour and salt. Add a little extra white flour as needed if dough is too sticky. Knead in mixer for 8 minutes. Dump out dough on your 'Rolpat' or if you don't have one, pour a little oil on your counter top and spread with your hand. Form into a long log, then divide into 5 loaves. Form each loaf into a log shape and place in medium sized nonstick bread pan. Press down the sides of each dough piece to fill the bottom of the pan, leaving the top round and smooth. Let rise in a warm spot until almost desired bread size. (about 1 hour). Bake in preheated 350 oven for 25-30 minutes. Remove from oven to wire racks and brush tops of hot loaves with butter, if desired. Let cool about 10 minutes, then remove from pans and let cool completely before slicing. (if you can wait that long!!)

Posted by: Sallie
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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

My go-to Apple Crisp


Quite awhile back we had a women's church meeting with a delicious dinner. I was asked to make an apple crisp and given this recipe. Since then it has been my go-to recipe for apple crisp. I love the cinnamon sprinkled on the apples and the topping is the best! We love ours served warm with vanilla ice cream and caramel syrup drizzled on top.





Apple Crisp

Fruit Mixture:
8 cups peeled apples (I usually use granny smith)
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 Tbsp. water
2 tsp. lemon juice

Topping:
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 1/3 cups flour
1 1/3 cups firmly packed brown sugar
3/4 cup butter, softened

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Place apples in ungreased 9 x 13 baking dish. Sprinkle with cinnamon, water and lemon juice. In a large bowl, combine all topping ingredients; mix until crumbly. Sprinkle crumb mixture evenly over apples. Bake at 375 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until fruit is tender and topping is golden brown.

Posted by: Sallie
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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Herb Crusted Pork Tenderloin



Forgive me for not posting any new recipes in such a long time. Having a new baby makes finding time to cook really difficult, but I'm starting to get back into the swing of things, finally!

Here's a great tasting recipe that is so easy you can roast it while you make your side dish and vegetable and by the time it's done roasting, you've got a complete meal!

Herb Crusted Pork Tenderloin
By Paula Dean
Ingredients
1 (4-pound) boneless pork loin, with fat left on
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried thyme or 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon dried basil or 2 teaspoons fresh basil leaves
1 teaspoon dried rosemary or 2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary

Directions
Preheat oven to 475 degrees F.
Place the pork loin on a rack in a roasting pan. Combine the remaining ingredients in a small bowl. With your fingers, massage the mixture onto the pork loin, covering all of the meat and fat.

Roast the pork for 30 minutes, then reduce the heat to 425 degrees F and roast for an additional hour. Test for doneness using an instant-read thermometer. When the internal temperature reaches 155 degrees F, remove the roast from the oven. Allow it to sit for about 20 minutes before carving. It will continue to cook while it rests.

Posted by: Julia
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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Easy Cheesesteak Subs



When I made these the other night my husband just sat there staring for a minute and then said "you are amazing." I think that says it all.

Not only easy but pretty darn tasty. Make your man (and yourself) really happy and make these for dinner. By the way, these rolls are not optional. They highly contribute to the amazing deliciousness of these sandwiches.

Cheesesteak Subs
Adapted slightly from Cook's Country

Serves 4-6 depending on how much meat you use.

1 onion , halved and sliced thin
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 garlic cloves , minced
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon A-1 steak sauce, plus extra for serving (I added another tbsp. because we like a lot of sauce)
1 pound rare deli roast beef , cut into 2-inch strips
Salt and pepper
8 slices deli provolone cheese
4 (6-inch) sub rolls , split partially open lengthwise (or the above mentioned recipe shaped into 6 hoagie rolls)

1. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat broiler. Melt butter in skillet. Add onion and cook until softened and golden, about 8 minutes. Stir in garlic and oregano and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add A-1 sauce and beef to skillet and cook until heated through, 1 to 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

2. Divide beef mixture among rolls. Top with cheese and broil on rimmed baking sheet until cheese is melted, about 2 minutes. Serve.

Posted by: Sallie
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Saturday, October 9, 2010

Cook's Illustrated Classic Brownies



I have a major complaint. Sorry in advance to any restaurant owners in St. George but you need to know that there is not a single establishment in this town that makes a great brownie sundae. And I should know. It's got to be one of my all-time favorite desserts and my friend Kelly and I are pretty much the authorities when it comes to brownies.

The other night the chocolate craving hit and I knew I wanted a brownie sundae. Knowing that buying one would end up in disappointment I went in search of THE BROWNIE.I have a great brownie recipe here but they are really rich and take a little more time. I wanted just your classic, fudgy, full of chocolatey goodness brownie.

I found just what I was looking for! Moist, fudgy, and bursting with chocolate flavor.Perfect for picnics and lunch boxes. Delicious topped with vanilla ice cream, smothered in hot fudge and topped off with some real whipped cream!This will be my go to classic brownie. If you want to take this recipe up a notch it would be delicious with chocolate chips (or any other kind of chips you like)mixed into the batter.

Classic Brownies

Cook's Illustrated

Ingredients
1 cup pecans or walnuts (4 ounces), chopped medium (optional) I left these out
1 1/4 cups plain cake flour (5 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon table salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate , chopped fine
12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), cut into six 1-inch pieces
2 1/4 cups sugar (15 3/4 ounces)
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Instructions
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 325 degrees. Cut 18-inch length foil and fold lengthwise to 8-inch width. Fit foil into length of 13- by 9-inch baking dish, pushing it into corners and up sides of pan; allow excess to overhang pan edges. Cut 14-inch length foil and, if using extra-wide foil, fold lengthwise to 12-inch width; fit into width of baking pan in same manner, perpendicular to first sheet. Spray foil-lined pan with nonstick cooking spray.

2. If using nuts, spread nuts evenly on rimmed baking sheet and toast in oven until fragrant, 5 to 8 minutes. Set aside to cool.

3. Whisk to combine flour, salt, and baking powder in medium bowl; set aside.

4. Melt chocolate and butter in large heatproof bowl set over saucepan of almost-simmering water, stirring occasionally, until smooth. (Alternatively, in microwave, heat butter and chocolate in large microwave-safe bowl on high for 45 seconds, then stir and heat for 30 seconds more. Stir again, and, if necessary, repeat in 15-second increments; do not let chocolate burn.) When chocolate mixture is completely smooth, remove bowl from saucepan and gradually whisk in sugar. Add eggs one at time, whisking after each addition until thoroughly combined. Whisk in vanilla. Add flour mixture in three additions, folding with rubber spatula until batter is completely smooth and homogeneous.

5. Transfer batter to prepared pan; using spatula, spread batter into corners of pan and smooth surface. Sprinkle toasted nuts (if using) evenly over batter and bake until toothpick or wooden skewer inserted into center of brownies comes out with few moist crumbs attached, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool on wire rack to room temperature, about 2 hours, then remove brownies from pan by lifting foil overhang. Cut brownies into 2-inch squares and serve. (Store leftovers in airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days.)

Posted by: Sallie
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Sunday, October 3, 2010

Breakfast Hash


After completing his second marathon, I thought my husband deserved a fantastic breakfast. (Sadly because of a back injury I am still in physical therapy and wasn't able to run this year). Waffles are kind of a Sunday morning tradition but he also requested some kind of breakfast hash. Digging around in my arsenal of cookbooks I spotted a corned beef hash. Not really appetizing to me, but the rest of the recipe sounded delicious.I had some leftover sausage and decided it would be a great substitute.

Chock full of golden brown potatoes, diced onions, bacon, & sausage, this hash was delicious. I was a little leery of adding cream but combined with the hot sauce and topped off with some sunny side up eggs it was perfect. This is a yummy dish I'll be making again. (My family was starving and attacked the hash before I could snap a picture. I did find this one online to give you a good idea of what it will look like.)

Sausage and Potato Breakfast Hash
adapted from The Best Skillet Recipes

2 lbs. russet potatoes (about 4 medium potatoes) peeled, and diced into 1/2 in. pieces
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic minced or put through a garlic press
4 oz. (about 4 slices) bacon, diced into 1/4 in. pieces
10-12 oz. sausage ,cooked in a separate pan then kept warm until ready to use(I used the kind in a big roll and cooked it like hamburger)
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/4 tsp. hot sauce
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 tbsp. olive oil
4 large eggs


Toss the potatoes with the oil, salt and pepper in a microwave safe bowl. Cover the bowl and microwave on high until the potatoes begin to soften, 7-10 minutes, stirring the potatoes halfway through cooking. Drain the potatoes well.

Cook the bacon in a 12 in. nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until the fat begins to render, about 2 minutes. Stir in the onion and cook until softened and lightly browned, about 8 minutes.

Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. (If there is a lot of grease you can drain it. See note at bottom of recipe.)Stir in the drained potatoes, cream, and hot sauce. Using the back of a spatula, gently pack the potatoes into the pan and cook undisturbed for 2 minutes.Flip the hash, one portion at a time, and lightly repack it into the pan. Repeat the flipping process every few minutes until the potatoes are nicely browned, 6-8 minutes.
Stir in the cooked sausage adn lightly repack the hash into the pan. Make four shallow wells (about 2 inches wide) in the surface of the hash.

Crack 1 egg into each indentation and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and continue to cook until the eggs are just set, about 5 minutes. Serve immediately. Serves 4-6.

*Note- the recipe didn't call for draining the pan but when i saw the amount of grease after cooking the bacon I drained mine.*
Posted by: Sallie
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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Divine Chocolate Cake With Magical Frosting



After seeing this recipe in Cook's Country Magazine and on Melanie's blog I decided I just had to try it. First the frosting. Let me tell you, it's a keeper. Although it does take a little extra time the effort is well worth it. Creamy, buttery and unbelievably delicious.Please ignore the fact that there are 3, yes 3 sticks of butter. I know this frosting is going to be making a lot more appearances around these parts. As if that isn't enough, there is also a chocolate version which I suspect will be just as delicious.

The cake, don't even get me started. Rich, dark and bursting with tons of chocolate flavor. This cake was so moist and when combined with the amazing frosting, let's just say I ate more than my fair share and then shuttled the rest off to neighbors before I devoured all the leftovers.

**Note: this frosting takes a bit of advance planning since the frosting needs time to cool so plan ahead! Also, the frosting can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to one week. When ready to use, let the frosting stand at room temperature until softened, about 2 hours. Beat with stand mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about one minute. **

Magical Frosting
My Kitchen Cafe and Cook's Country Magazine

*Makes about 4 cups frosting (plenty for two 9-inch cake layers)

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups milk (I used 1 % and it was delish)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
24 tablespoons (3 sticks) butter, cut into 24 pieces and softened at room temperature

In a medium bowl, combine the sugar, flour, cornstarch and salt. Slowly whisk in the milk until the mixture is smooth. Place a fine-mesh strainer over a medium saucepan and pour the milk mixture through the strainer into the saucepan. Cook the mixture over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture boils and is thick enough that it starts to become difficult to easily whisk. This could take anywhere between 5-10 minutes, depending on your stove, heat, etc. It should bubble quite a bit at the end (be careful of the splatters) and thicken considerably.

Transfer the mixture to a clean bowl and cool to room temperature – this is extremely important! If it is even slightly warm, the frosting won’t beat up properly. I refrigerated my initial mixture overnight. If you do this, make sure to pull it out in time to let it warm back up to room temperature. If you try to proceed with the rest of the recipe and the mixture is too cold, the butter won’t absorb into the frosting like it should.

Once the frosting is completely cooled to room temperature (it should have no hint of warmth at all!), beat the mixture with the vanilla on low speed until it is well combined, about 30 seconds (a stand mixer will work best for this). Add the butter, one piece at a time, and beat the frosting until all the butter has been incorporated fully, about 2 minutes. Increase the speed to medium-high and let the mixer work it’s magic. Beat the frosting for five minutes, until it is light and fluffy. Let the frosting sit at room temperature until it is a bit more stiff, about 1 hour. I suspect if you chill it for an hour or so, it would be stiff enough to actually pipe with instead of frosting with a rubber spatula.

Chocolate Version: Add 1/4 cup cocoa powder to the sugar, flour, cornstarch, salt mixture in the first step. Once the frosting has been mixed for five minutes and is light and fluffy, mix in 3-4 ounces of semisweet chocolate that has been melted and completely cooled to room temperature.

*Makes two 8-inch or 9-inch cake layers or a 9X13-inch pan*

Divine Chocolate Cake
My Kitchen Cafe and Martha Stewart

1 ¼ cups unsweetened cocoa powder
2 ½ cups all purpose flour
2 ½ cups sugar
2 ½ teaspoons baking soda
1 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
1 ¼ teaspoons salt
2 large eggs plus 1 large egg yolk
1 ¼ cups warm water
1 ¼ cups buttermilk
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, making sure the baking rack is in the middle of the oven. Prepare your cake pans by cutting out a piece of parchment or wax paper to line the bottom of the pan. Grease the pans, place the parchment or wax paper in the bottom of the pan and lightly grease again. Dust the pans with flour (or cocoa powder if you don’t want the white dusting on the finished cakes). Set the pans aside.

Using a fine mesh strainer, sift together the cocoa, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. Add the eggs, yolk, warm water, buttermilk, oil and vanilla. Mix on low speed (with a handheld mixer or in the bowl of an electric stand mixer) until smooth, about 3 minutes.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Bake the cakes for about 32-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean or with moist crumbs. Do not overbake! Remove the pans from the oven and set the pans on a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes. Gently run a thin knife around the edges of the pans and unmold the cakes, removing the parchment paper liners from the bottom of the cakes. Let them cool completely, top sides ups, on a wire rack.

Trim the tops of the cake layers with a long serrated knife to make them level. Frost as desired.

Posted by: Sallie
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Friday, September 24, 2010

Thai Basil Chicken



Last nights dinner was a complete disaster. It came from one of my favorite magazines and looked absolutely delicious but it was terrible. Bland, boring and just plain gross. There is nothing I hate worse that spending time and ingredients on something that once you take one bite of, you were wishing you would have just eaten a bowl or cereal or picked up Little Caesars.

I was more than a little skeptical trying another new recipe after last nights disappointment. This however was the complete opposite! The kind of dinner that has you going back for seconds and hoarding all the leftovers.The flavors of the sweet coconut milk blended with spicy chili sauce, tender onions and peppers & juicy chicken were out of this world. It does use a few ingredients you might not have on hand but I easily found all of them at my local grocery store. This is the first recipe I have tried from this cookbook and now I'm itching to try more.

Thai Basil Chicken
adapted from Entertaining at Home Cookbook

Serves 6

1 1/2 cups uncooked Jasmine or other long grain white rice
1 15 oz. can coconut milk, 2 tbsp. reserved
1 cup fresh Thai Basil leaves (I used regular basil)
2 tbsp. Thai fish sauce (nam pla)
2 tbsp. Chinese chili sauce with garlic *I would start out with 1 tbsp. 2 is quite spicy*
1 tbsp. Asian sesame oil
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 large walla walla or other sweet onion, sliced into thin slivers
1 1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 3/4 in. cubes
2 red bell peppers, seeded, deribbed, and sliced
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Prepare the rice according to package directions. When it has finished cooking, stir in 2 tbsp. of the coconut milk.
While the rice is cooking, in a food processor fitted with the metal blade, combine the basil, fish sauce, and chile sauce. Pulse until the basil is coarsely chopped and the mixture has a pestolike consistency. Add the remaining coconut milk and process just until blended. Set aside.
In a large skillet over medium heat, warm the sesame oil and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan. Add the garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until it turns light tan, about 1 minute. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion begins to turn golden brown, about 4 minutes. Add the chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, until nearly cooked through, about 3 minutes. Add the bell peppers and cook just until tender, about 2 minutes. Add the basil-coconut sauce, reduce the heat to low, and bring to a gentle simmer. Allow to simmer gently, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for about 2 minutes to meld the flavors. Add the salt and pepper, stir well, and then remove from the heat.
Divide the rice among warmed dinner plates and spoon the chicken mixture over the top. Serve immeadiately.


Posted by: Sallie
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Monday, September 20, 2010

Streusel Topped Banana Bread




Pictures from dlynz.com

Bananas are one of my favorite fruits and I usually eat one everyday. That being said I am very picky about my bananas.I don't like to eat bananas that are more than two or 3 days old. They must be firm, unbruised and basically perfect. This makes for a lot of leftover bananas if the rest of the family doesn't eat them quick enough. I know you can relate.

This leave me with a 2 options
1- cut them into chunks and freeze them for smoothies

or

2-make banana bread/muffins/cake.

Being the great wife/mother/friend that I am, I decided to go with option #2.

Really I'll be honest. This is coffee cake in banana bread form and it is heavenly! Moist and dense without being too heavy, and just the right amount of banana flavor. I loved the delicious crumbs of stresusel topping ribboned throught the bread and on top. Not only is the bread amazingly delicious it's also beautiful. This would be a great neighbor, teacher, just because I like you gift. It would also be a great addition to any brunch.

Streusel Topped Banana Bread

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup light brown sugar
2 eggs
3 or 4 very ripe bananas
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 cup buttermilk

Stresuel Topping

1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup flour
1 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease four mini loaf pans.

Either in a stand mixer (or bowl with hand mixer) cream the butter and sugar. Breat in eggs, bananas, and vanilla.

Combine the dry ingredients in separate bowl and add to the butter mixture. With the mixer running, add the buttermilk and mix until completely combined and smooth (about 1 minute on medium speed.)

Prepare the streusel topping. Combine all ingredients in medium bowl and work into coarse crumbs. (I used a hand pastry blender I have but two forks or your hands will work nicely.)

Fill each prepared pan about 1/3 full and divide half of the topping among the 4 pans. Fill with remaining batter and top with remaining struesel. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire rack about 10 minutes. With a thin knife loosen edges and carefully remove from pans. Cool a bit more and then slice to serve. Makes 4 mini loaves.


Posted by: Sallie
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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Creamy Cheesecake Squares with Chocolate Ganache


My family and I were able to visit my sister, her husband and their adorable daughter Anillie for the Labor Day Weekend. Although my sister and I like to be adventerous in the kitchen, sometimes you just need a break and so we went with some old stand bys.  Our Mom's tried and true Famous ribs (although we did do baby back which were just as delicious as the country style), potato salad, and corn on the cob.

The afternoon of we realized we hadn't planned a dessert. A major crime! Searching through recipes we found these cheesecake bars and boy were they good. A delicious graham cracker crust topped with a creamy and slightly tangy cheesecake layer and the ultimate topping a decadent chocolate ganache. I might have just found one of my new favorite desserts!

Cook's Note *Although the recipe states to chill overnight (and they are better that way) we put this dessert together from start to finish in 5 hours and they were still heavenly.*

The original recipe called for Biscoff cookies but we weren't able to find them. We both agreed the crust needed to be doubled (which is reflected in the recipe below) and that it would taste better cooked first.

Plan ahead. These bars need to chill overnight
FOR THE CRUST:
3 cups Crushed Graham Crackers
4 1/2  Tablespoons Packed Brown Sugar
12 Tablespoons Melted Butter

____
FOR THE CHEESECAKE FILLING:
1 cup Sugar
3 packages Cream Cheese (8 Oz Size)
2 Tablespoons Flour
3 whole Eggs
8 ounces, weight Sour Cream
1 Tablespoon Vanilla
_____
FOR THE CHOCOLATE GANACHE:
8 ounces, fluid Heavy Whipping Cream
¼ cups Butter
8 ounces, weight Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
¼ cups Confectioner's Sugar
Crust
Mix graham crackers and sugar together. Add butter and stir until combined. Press mixture into a 13 X 9 pan. Bake at 350 degrees until golden brown about 10 minutes. Let cool.


Cheesecake
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
Cream the sugar, cream cheese, and flour with an electric mixer on medium until light and fluffy. On medium-low speed, add eggs one at a time, mixing well with each addition. Add sour cream and vanilla and mix until just combined. Pour on prepared crust and bake for about 45 minutes.Remove and cool. Prepare ganache.

Chocolate Ganache
Heat cream and butter on stove until just before boiling.Remove from stove and pour the mixture over the top of the chocolate. Stir until completely combined. Add confectioners’ sugar and beat with a wire whisk until combined and smooth. Pour over cooled cheesecake.Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Cut into bars and serve.Makes about 30 bars.

Posted by: Sallie
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Crispy Garlic Bread


This is another recipe that has been lurking in the infamous "recipe pile" and all I can say is I wish I would have found it sooner!


Totally easy, totally buttery, totally garlicky and absolutely divine! The big bonus with this recipe is that you can even make the bread ahead of time and freeze it for up to 1 month. When you're ready to serve it just pop it in the oven and bake. It doesn't get any easier than that.



Crispy Garlic Bread
Cook's Country

Makes 12 slices

*For the smoothest texture, grate the garlic cloves on a rasp-style grater. *
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter , softened
4 cloves garlic , grated (see note) or minced (I put mine through a press and it turned out great)
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
12 slices (1-inch-thick) slice Italian bread

1. MAKE PASTE Adjust oven rack to middle position, place rimmed baking sheet on rack, and heat oven to 425 degrees. Using fork, beat butter, garlic, sugar, salt, and pepper in small bowl until combined. Spread butter mixture evenly over both sides of bread.
2. TOAST BREAD Arrange buttered bread on heated baking sheet and bake until golden brown on first side, 8 to 10 minutes. Flip and bake until golden brown on second side, about 5 minutes. Serve.

*Freezer-Ready Garlic Bread After spreading the bread with the butter mixture in step 1, freeze the slices on a large plate until firm, about 15 minutes. Transfer bread to zipper-lock freezer bag and freeze for up to 1 month. To serve, bake as directed, adding 2 to 5 minutes to cooking time. *


Posted by: Sallie
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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Butter Chicken


Who could resist making something with a name like butter chicken? Unlike it's name implies, the recipe doesn't use a lot of butter. It's actually an Indian Food also known as Chicken Makhani or Murg Makhani. Chicken marinated over night with garlic and spices, then cooked in a spicy tomato sauce and finished off with cream. I cut the cayenne back a tad to tone it down for the kids and it was perfect. It came together really quickly and was a fabulous, flavorful meal that will be appearing often in our house!



Picture from Tasty Kitchen

Butter Chicken

Tasty Kitchen


*The chicken needs to marinate overnight so plan accordingly*


4 pieces Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts (cut Into Bite Sized Pieces or left whole if you prefer)
5 cloves Garlic, Minced
1 teaspoon Salt
½ teaspoons Black Pepper
½ teaspoons Cayenne Pepper (I used 1/4 tsp.)
¼ teaspoons Ground Coriander
¼ teaspoons Cumin
¼ teaspoons Cardamom
1 whole Lime, Juiced
1 whole Onion, Diced
¼ cups Butter
1 can (14.5 Oz. Can) Tomato Sauce
1 can (14.5 Oz. Can) Petite Diced Tomatoes
1 pint Whipping Cream
1 bunch Chopped Cilantro, to taste
2 cups Basmati Rice (or However Much You Want. I used Jasmine and it was great)


Preparation Instructions

Combine first 9 ingredients and marinate overnight.
Saute the onion in the butter until soft. Add marinated chicken and cook about 10 minutes. Add the tomato sauce and diced tomatoes. Cook for 30 minutes over medium-low heat with the lid on. Add the whipping cream (I have used light cream or half-and-half also) and cilantro just before serving over Basmati rice.

Posted by: Sallie
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Monday, August 30, 2010

Lasagna

Picture Courtesy of Pioneer Woman
I have to admit that I still don't have a go to lasagna recipe. I really enjoy trying new recipes and haven't made one that justifies never trying another recipe. That being said, I really loved this lasagna recipe from Pioneer Woman (which I tweaked a little to suit our family's tastes.)
I loved the sauce/noodle/meat ratio. So many lasagnas I've tried don't have enough sauce and result in rubbery noodles or not enough flavor. I had some leftover fresh mozzarella from some pizza I made and used this in place of the shredded mozzarella! Amazing! I also loved the mixture of ground beef and Italian sausage. The original recipe called for Hot breakfast sausage but I had some leftover Italian sausage in my freezer which worked great. I also switched out the whole tomatoes for petite diced tomatoes. I'm not a huge cooked tomato fan and either are my kids so this was a perfect switch for us.


If you're really on the ball this lasagna can be made 2 days ahead of time and refrigerated. This is a lasagna recipe I know I'll be making again.



Lasagna

adapted from the Pioneer Woman


Ingredients
1-½ pound Ground Beef
1 pound Italian sausage peeled from wrapper (the original recipe called for Hot Breakfast sausage but I had some sausage that needed using up and it was delicious)
2 cloves Garlic, Minced
2 cans (14.5 Ounce) petite diced tomatoes
2 cans (6 Ounce) Tomato Paste
2 Tablespoons Dried Parsley
2 Tablespoons Dried Basil
1 teaspoon Salt
3 cups Lowfat Cottage Cheese
2 whole Beaten Eggs
½ cups freshly grated (not Shredded) Parmesan Cheese
2 Tablespoons Dried Parsley
1 teaspoon Salt
1 pound Sliced Mozzarella Cheese (or if you really want some amazing lasagna use fresh and just slice it yourself)
1 package (10 Ounce) Lasagna Noodles
(add 1/2 Teaspoon Salt And 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil To Pasta Water)
Preparation Instructions

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet or saucepan, combine ground beef, sausage, and garlic. Cook over medium-high heat until browned. Drain half the fat; less if you’re feeling naughty.(I drained all the fat. It was still delicious and my hips will be thanking me tomorrow!) Add tomatoes, tomato paste, 2 tablespoons parsley, basil and salt. After adding the tomatoes, the sauce mixture should simmer for 45 minutes while you are working on the other steps.
In a medium bowl, mix cottage cheese, beaten eggs, grated Parmesan, 2 more tablespoons parsley, and 1 more teaspoon salt. Stir together well. Set aside. Cook lasagna until “al dente” (not overly cooked).
To assemble:Arrange 4 cooked lasagna noodles in the bottom of a baking pan, overlapping if necessary. Spoon half the cottage cheese mixture over the noodles. Spread evenly. Cover cottage cheese with a layer of mozzarella cheese. Spoon a little less than half the meat/sauce mixture over the top.
Repeat, ending with meat/sauce mixture. Sprinkle top generously with extra Parmesan.
Either freeze, refrigerate for up to two days, or bake immediately: 350-degree oven for 20 to 30 minutes, or until top is hot and bubbly.


Posted by: Sallie
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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Soft and Chewy Pretzels






After hearing from my friend Andrea and then my son who ate them at Andrea's house how great these pretzels were I finally made them. They were really simple to make and would be something fun to make with kids. They turned out soft and chewy and were absolutely delicious. I took Andrea's advice and made half with coarse salt and the other half sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar. Queso dip and a vanilla glaze dip went along perfectly. They are best served warm from the oven but you can microwave them as well. Perfect for an after school snack or when the carb monster strikes.

Soft and Chewy Pretzels
All Recipes.com
Ingredients
1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/8 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup bread flour
2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
2 tablespoons baking soda
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons coarse kosher salt
Optional but totally delicious :Tostitos queso dip for the salty pretzels

Vanilla Glaze Dip for cinnamon Sugar. I used this recipe and just thinned it out with a little milk until it reached the consistency I liked.

Directions
In a large mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast, brown sugar and salt in 1 1/2 cups warm water. Stir in flour, and knead dough on a floured surface until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, and turn to coat the surface. Cover, and let rise for one hour.
Combine 2 cups warm water and baking soda in an 8 inch square pan.
After dough has risen, cut into 12 pieces. Roll each piece into a 3 foot rope, pencil thin or thinner. Twist into a pretzel shape (I've included a link here in case like myself you have never rolled a pretzel. Don't worry, it's easy and quite fun actually), and dip into the baking soda solution. Place on parchment covered cookie sheets, and let rise 15 to 20 minutes.
Bake at 450 degrees F (230 degrees C) for 8 to 10 minutes, or until golden brown. Brush with melted butter, and sprinkle with coarse salt, garlic salt or cinnamon sugar.


*Note *
When forming the ropes, roll each one to about half the length you want, then set it aside while you roll the rest. By the time you get back to the first rope, it will have rested enough to roll further.


Posted by: Sallie
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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Chicken Alfredo Pizza


I've mentioned before that my husband's tastes are pretty simple. He'd be perfectly happy to eat the same seven meals over and over every single week. He requested pizza for his birthday meal and to change it up we tried one of our restaurant favorites-- Chicken Alfredo pizza.


I didn't really have a recipe so i decided to make my own. I started with a simple Alfredo sauce recipe from my mother in law, added some seasoned chicken, sliced red onion and lots of cheese. I actually made 3 other kinds of pizza and this was by far the best. It would be a great way to use up some leftover chicken or Alfredo sauce. I was in a kind of pizza frenzy and didn't really think about it but next time I think adding some fresh cilantro would be delicious!


Chicken Alfredo Pizza


Alfredo Sauce:


1/4 cup real butter

1 tbsp. flour

1 cup half and half or cream (I've always used half and half)

3/4 cup fresh Parmesan cheese


Melt butter in small saucepan. Add remaining ingredients in order. Heat over low heat until smooth and thickened. (Make sure not to turn heat up too high or it will curdle).


2 boneless skinless chicken breasts seasoned with garlic salt and pepper. Grill or cook in pan with small amount of olive oil. Let rest for a few minutes, then shred into small chunks.

If you're in a hurry you could always use meat from a rotisserie chicken.


Red onion cut in half and then sliced into small slivers. I didn't measure, just to taste.


Lots of mozzarella cheese, grated


cilantro and grated Parmesan cheese, optional


Your favorite pizza crust recipe. I tried Pioneer Woman's this time and it was great. If you're interested, the recipe can be found here.


To make the pizza:


Preheat oven to 500 degrees.


Once crust is spread in pan spread Alfredo sauce generously on top. (I used most of the sauce from the above recipe for half of a jelly roll pan.)


Layer chicken and onion and cilantro if using. Top with mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle on a little grated Parmesan cheese over entire pizza including crust.


Bake in a 500 degree oven for 10-12 minutes or until crust is done and cheese is melted.
*Just a note in my oven it took close to 20 minutes.*


Remove and garnish with more cilantro


Posted by: Sallie


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Friday, August 20, 2010

Light and Creamy Cheesecake




Not a big fan of traditional birthday cake, my husband usually picks this Texas Sheet Cake or cheesecake for his birthday dessert. I had attempted this once before following the directions on the website but it turned out terrible! This time I used Melanie's directions with great results. Unlike a denser New York type cheesecake (which I love) this cheesecake turns out lighter and extremely creamy. We all loved the hint of lemon and the smooth texture. My favorite way to serve it is with cherry pie filling on top.






Cheesecake
Food Network and My Kitchen Cafe

Ingredients
Crust:
3 cups finely ground graham crackers (about 40 squares)
2 tbsp. sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, melted



Filling:
1 pound cream cheese, 2 (8-ounce) blocks, softened
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 pint sour cream
1 lemon, zested
1 tsp vanilla extract






To prepare crumb crust: In a mixing bowl, combine the crust ingredients together with a fork until evenly moistened. Lightly coat the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan (I used a 10-inch springform pan)with non-stick cooking spray. Firmly press the mixture over the bottom and 1-inch up the sides on the pan, use your fingers or the smooth bottom of a glass. Refrigerate the crust while preparing the filling.
To prepare filling: In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese on low speed for 1 minute just until smooth and free of any lumps. Gradually add the sugar and beat until creamy, 1 to 2 minutes. Periodically scrape down the sides of the bowl and the beaters. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and continue to slowly beat until combined. Stir in the vanilla and lemon zest. Blend in the sour cream. The batter should be well mixed but not overbeaten. Overbeating incorporates too much air and will cause the cake to puff when baking, then fall and crack when cooling. Pour filling into the crust-lined pan and smooth the top with a spatula.
Bake in a preheated 325 degree oven for 50-55 minutes. The cheesecake should still jiggle slightly, it will firm up after chilling. Be careful not to overcook! Do not do a toothpick test in the cake’s center, this will make a crack. Loosen the cheesecake from the sides of the pan by running a thin metal spatula around the inside rim. Let cool in the pan for 30 minutes. Chill in the refrigerator, loosely covered, for at least 4 hours to set up. Demold and transfer to a cake plate. Slice the cheesecake with a thin, nonserrated knife that has been dipped in hot water and wiped dry after each cut.



posted by: Sallie
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