Thursday, December 31, 2009

Oops - Turtle Mess

One day Mike asked me to make him a dessert for him to take to work for a luncheon. I asked him what other people were bringing to figure what to make. He came back with... You know the usual. Men...always great with giving you the details. I told him about this Turtle Cheesecake recipe I came a cross and thought it sounded good. So I went to the store and bought all the ingredients and got to work. I was making the cheesecake and tasting along the way I was really excited. It was easy to make and tasted very yummy. And than....all went to the hell.... You know when you read a recipe and something doesn't sound right about it....against my better judgement I decided to follow the recipe and here's what happened.

How did this happened you might ask? The recipe called for the cheesecake to bake for a certain amount of time until the center is set. Then take it out of the oven, let cool for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes than take the rim of the spring form pan off. That was the part of the recipe that didn't seem right to me. I've made a cheesecake a few times and didn't think that you would take the rim off that fast. But I was following the recipe. About two minutes after I took off the rim off is when the screaming started....OH @#$%, OH@#$%, is all my husband heard from the kitchen, so he came to find out what all the screaming was about. That's when he found me trying to put the rim back on and informed me that it was probably too late. I was like you think!!! Not really in the mood to hear the what were you thinking comments, especially from the non-baker in the family. I was so mad and upset. Since it was to late to make him something else to bring to work he ended up having to go to the store a buy something. I was able to save the cake, but he still didn't want to take it.


I told him I could cover it with whipped cream and caramel and no one would know. He said he we would just buy something. Which he did and when people asked why, h
e told them he dropped the cake I made. I told him he didn't have to do that, but that it was sweet of him.

Easy Cinnamon Bread

I am not actually the first person on this blog to make the bread...Heidi made it a while back. She was in search of the Hershey Cinnamon chips that used to be easily available. When she found them she made this recipe and said it was super yummy.

I actually found the chips recently and decided to try making this bread for New Year's Day breakfast. I am thinking of just eating it toasted with some butter or maybe even turning into french toast. I will let you know what we did in a couple of days...



Easy Cinnamon Bread
King Arthur Flour

3 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour OR Mellow Pastry Blend
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup warm milk
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted
1 large egg
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup cinnamon chips
cinnamon-sugar, for topping

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, yeast, cinnamon and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, butter, and egg. Combine the wet and dry ingredients, beating till smooth. Let the batter rest at room temperature for 1 hour, covered, then stir in the baking powder and cinnamon chips.

Spoon the batter into a greased 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan. Sprinkle the top with the cinnamon-sugar.

Bake the bread in a preheated 350°F oven for 35 to 40 minutes, until it tests done; a cake tester inserted into the center will come out clean. Remove the bread from the oven, let it rest in the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer it from the pan to a wire rack to cool completely. Note: Don't slice the bread while it's hot! It'll slice much better when it's completely cool. Yield: 1 loaf.

Review: I have not tasted a real piece yet...just crumbs so far which have tasted great. To me this a very fast and simple recipe to make. I think I started around 10:30am and was done by Noon. So far it is something I would make again the only issue I might have is finding the cinnamon chips but I could always break down and order them from KAF. I think this one is probably a keeper...

Update: The bread was super yummy and they whole family loved it. Not a piece was leftover after breakfast. Not really the right texture in my mind to make french toast with but yummy just plain!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Yummy Disaster...

I don't know why it matters but I think it is amazing that this is my 10th year celebrating Christmas with my husband's family. The celebrations style has evolved and so has the size of the family (there are now 5 little boys added) but really it is still the same.

Also I reminded Mike that he has had my sugar cookies at the table for the past 10 years...what did he do before them. He did not remember me bringing them the first year but I remember it so well. First time meeting my in-laws (at the time I did not know they would be my in-laws) and his WHOLE entire family. I needed to bring something that would impress and boy did they ever. I think I would be put out in the cold if I did not bring them with me.

The other thing I brought with me then were rum balls. Me being the silent dork that I am wanted to make them again. The first time they came out well but when I tried to make them now I failed miserably...Mike is now enjoying them as what I like to call Rum Crumbs.

I had a lot of leftover pecans and wanted to make something with them. So I searched a new cookie cookbook I got from Karen and found ones called Pecan Meltaways...



Pecan Meltaways

Taste of Home

1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup chopped pecans
Additional confectioners' sugar

Directions

  • In a large bowl, cream the butter, confectioners' sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. Combine flour and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well. Stir in pecans. Refrigerate until chilled.
  • Roll into 1-in. balls and place on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 350° for 10-12 minutes or until set. Roll warm cookies in additional confectioners' sugar; cool completely on wire racks. Roll cooled cookies again in confectioners' sugar. Yield: 4 dozen.
Review: This is a perfect cookie to add to your holiday baking list. Super easy to make and super yummy! The one problem I had with the recipe is that it does not tell you how long to chill the dough for...I think 30 minutes to 1 hour would be OK. I think they just need to firm up a bit do they don't spread so much in the oven. I actually had them in the refrigerator for a lot longer because I was trying to do more then I had time to do. I am not sure if I am sold on adding it to my annual list but the family is enjoying eating them.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas Dinner Recipe: Roast Prime Rib of Beef with Horseradish Crust

This is the only way I make prime rib! It has been my go-to recipe for prime rib. I saw it on an episode of How To Boil Water (Tyler Florence) and it was on an episode called "Christmas Made Easy."

Ingredients:
Prime Rib:

1 bone in prime rib beef roast, 3 ribs, about 6 pounds
5 garlic cloves, smashed
¼ cup grated fresh or prepared horseradish
Leaves from 2 fresh rosemary sprigs (or use dried rosemary)
Leaves from 4 fresh thyme sprigs (or use dried thyme)
¼ cup kosher salt
¼ cup freshly ground black pepper
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Sauce (optional):
½ cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 cups canned chicken or beef broth

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Prime Rib:
Lay the beef in a large foiled roasting pan with the bone side down. (The ribs act as a natural roasting rack.) In a small bowl mash together the garlic, horseradish, rosemary, thyme, salt, pepper, and olive oil to make a paste. Massage the paste generously over the entire roast. Put the pan in the oven and roast the beef until the internal temperature of the meat registers 125 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer (medium-rare), 1½ hours. Remove the beef to a carving board and let it rest for 20 minutes before carving.

Sauce:
Pour off some of the pan drippings and place pan on stovetop over medium-high heat.
Add the white wine and bring to a simmer, scraping the bits on the bottom of the pan. Reduce the wine by half. Whisk in the flour, then add the broth and continue to cook, whisking until sauce thickens into a gravy, about 10 minutes.

Jenn's Notes:
1. Save yourself time and energy by buying and preparing a package mix of McCormick’s beef with mushroom sauce/gravy.
2. The paste (aka crust) on the outside of the meat doesn't look pretty, but it doesn't matter, because the flavor is exceptional!
3. The crust almost always burns. Scrape it off before serving, because of the high amount of salt, the flavoring has already seeped into the meat.
4. If you mistakenly add the wine (from the sauce) to the paste, it will come out fine, but does not adhere well to the meat. Let it marinate overnight.


Review: absolutely delicious! I can't wait to make this for Christmas dinner this year. I'll be buying a big roast, especially so we have leftovers for the next day. To reheat prime rib, I suggest using beef broth and letting the piece(s) of meat reheat in the broth in a frying pan. Sooo good!

December Cookie Recipe #2: Graham Cracker Yummies


Another cookie making memory was making these yummy "cookies" with my mom. They almost are more of a toffee crunch type cookie. Similar to the Dog Turds recipe, sometimes these cookies come out perfect and other times, like this year, not as great. Don't know why, but here is the recipe!

Ingredients:
1 stick butter
1/2 c. brown sugar
1.5 sleeves graham crackers (left whole)
2 c. chocolate chips
1 c. chopped walnuts

Directions:
- Heat oven to 375 degrees
- Line cookie sheet with foil and place graham crackers side-by-side on top of the foil
- In a saucepan, heat butter and brown sugar and let boil 3 minutes
- Pour liquid mixture over graham crackers (make sure to cover all crackers)
- Put in oven for 10 minutes
- Take out and immediately sprinkle chocolate chips on top
- Let the chips melt and spread the chocolate to cover over all crackers
- Sprinkle chopped nuts over the top
- Let chocolate harden
- Break up cookies and store in a container or Ziplock bag

Review: these happen to be one of my favorite Christmas cookies. I like the caramel/toffee crunch. The mixture has to be made just right or it alters the flavor of the cookie. You can vary the chopped nut on top, but I have found that walnuts are just the right compliment.

December Cookie Recipe: Christmas Logs (aka Dog Turds)


Every year there are a couple of cookies that I make from my childhood cookie making with my mom. This recipe was given to my mom by Karen's mom and was affectionately called Dog Turds (forgive me, if I have already posted this before :). My mom hates to call them that, so I "re-named" them Christmas Logs or Chocolate-covered Logs. I think they came out the best that I have ever made them this year, so wanted to post them on our blog!

Ingredients:
2 sticks butter
1 1/4 c. confectionary sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
2 c. flour
1 c. (Quick) oats
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 c. chocolate chips
3/4 c. chopped walnuts

Directions:
- Cream butter and sugar together
- Add vanila and combine thoroughly
- Mix flour, oats, and salt together
- Pour dry ingredients into mixer (while on)
- Make sure the bottom of the mixing bowl is clean (meaning everything is mixed together)
- Dough will be crumbly
- Take small or medium size balls of dough and roll into 1.5-2" logs
- Bake at 325 degrees for 27 minutes (on an ungreased cookie sheet or Silpat)
- Remove from oven and let cool
- Dip in melted chocolate chips (or spoon and spread on top of the cookie log) and then dip in chopped walnuts
- Let harden and eat!

Review: Some years these come out dry, and this year, they were perfect! They are great with a cup of coffee, or my preference, a glass of milk. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Making a List...and Checking It Twice

I don't' know why but I am feeling a little out of control right now. I feel like I am unprepared and going to slam into a wall or something. This is one way you know the holidays are fast approaching. I am trying not to go totally crazy and bake a lot of stuff this year.

Here is my list so far on what I think I am going to make:

At least 2 batches of Sugar Cookies (maybe 3 batches)
Cuban Bread
Monkey Bread
Chocolate covered cherries (which I already made with Heidi this past weekend)

What I might make:
Hershey Kiss Peanut Butter Blossom Cookies
Biscotti
Italian Bread of some kind...

Thursday, December 3, 2009

I Can't Decide...So I Made Both.

Last week Mike asked me to make something for him to bring to work. They are having their annual charity bake sale and FINALLY Mike asked me to make something. I always got a little annoyed at him for not bringing something in...hello you have a wife at home that loves to bake...I would tell him. At first I was going to make individual monkey breads (I was going to make them in a muffin tin) just to have something different there. Since I was making cookies for my neighbor's birthday he said to just give him some of those.

There is a restaurant near me that gives cookies like these for dessert with the kid's meals. It was funny because I was wondering how they made them the other day and then I found a recipe. So of course I had to try it out. The dough was suppose to make A LOT of cookies.


Double Delights
Taste of Home

  • CHOCOLATE DOUGH:
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup baking cocoa
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
  • 5 ounces white baking chocolate, chopped

  • VANILLA DOUGH:
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
  • 4 ounces German sweet chocolate, chopped

Directions

  • For chocolate dough, in a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well. Stir in pecans and white chocolate.
  • For vanilla dough, in another large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Combine the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well. Stir in pecans and German chocolate. Cover and refrigerate both doughs for 2 hours.
  • Divide both doughs in half. Shape each portion into a 12-in. roll; wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 3 hours or until firm.
  • Unwrap and cut each roll in half lengthwise. Place a chocolate half and vanilla half together, pressing to form a log; wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 1 hour or until the dough holds together when cut.
  • Using a serrated knife, cut into 1/4-in. slices. Place 2 in. apart on greased baking sheets. Bake at 350° for 8-10 minutes or until set. Remove to wire racks to cool


Review: I made these cookies for a couple of reason one which I stated above because they were like the ones from the restaurant. The other reason was it stated it makes 15 dozen cookies...SO not the case. Maybe I can get 7 dozen out of this but I am not even sure of that. It makes two logs which I baked one and froze the other to bake for Christmas. The one log I think I might have gotten 3 dozen. I don't think I could have cut the cookies any thinner then I did...the were pretty thin to begin with. That being said the dough was easy to make and did not take that much time. I think you need to let the sit in the refrigerator a little longer then stated in the recipe to get them firm enough. Also I think if you put the in the freezer before you slice them it would make that process easier. The overall taste is super yummy and addictive. Not sure if i would make these again or try to find another recipe for the dough and just use the same technique. I have to wait and see how the guys at Mike's office liked them.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Dark Chocolate & Mint Chips

I love mint stuff and when I saw the package of dark chocolate and mint morsels that Nestle has out now I had to buy it. I did not know what or when I was going to use them...minor details.

Then I was asked to make my sugar cookies for Thanksgiving which everyone loves. I took out the butter to soften and the day just got away from me. The butter was way too soft to make the sugar cookies and so I decided to use the butter to make the cookie recipe that is on the back of the package.

Mint Chocolate Delights
VeryBestBaking.com
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup Cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 2/3 cups (10-oz. pkg.) NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Dark Chocolate & Mint Morsels
PREHEAT oven to 325° F.

COMBINE flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels. Drop by well-rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.

BAKE for 11 to 13 minutes or until cookies are puffed and centers are set. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

FOR MINI MINT CHOCOLATE DELIGHT COOKIES: Prepare dough as above. Drop by well-rounded measuring teaspoon onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake for 9 to 10 minutes or until cookies are puffed and centers are set. Makes about 7 dozen mini cookies.

This is the picture from Nestle's website of the cookie...I forgot to take a picture.

Review: When I opened the bag of chips I was already in love with this cookies. It was just the perfect mint smell to me. Making the cookies was just as easy as making any chocolate chip cookie. I used the small cookie scoop I had for a couple of reason...one my larger scoop broke and two I figured smaller cookies would be better after eating a lot of turkey. It does make a ton using the smaller scoop and I was able to set some aside for our second Turkey dinner with my in-laws. These cookies to me taste just like the girl scout Thin Mint cookies. Which is awesome because if you ever have a craving for them you don't have to wait to order a package from your local girl scout. This is a keeper and I just hope I can find another bag before they disappear...

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Bread Matters...well of course it does!

You will never believe what has happened to me...little old me. It was a normal day in my house and everything was going the way it usually does. Boys being boys...me being me...Mike being Mike and then I checked my email. Someone from Andrews McMeel Publishing contacted me to review a cookbook they have out. I thought this was some kind of joke because let me be honest I am not a writer. So the first thing I did was of course check out their website to see if the book existed...yes it did...ok so maybe this isn't a joke. I actually recognized some of the other books they have on there which was exciting. (I mean I usually look at amazon for book stuff and really never on the publisher's website.)

I am sorry this has taken me so long to write up my review because I have had it for about a month. All of us in this house got hit with a cold...yup every one of us got this cold and was sort of out of commission for about a week. Then the normal busy days came and went which made it hard to have time to sit down and write this up. So get ready here comes the review:

My Review: I know they say you shouldn't judge a book by it's cover (or photos) but I do sometimes. When it comes to cookbooks I think it is a must in some ways. As much as I love food I love looking at food. I also think that when a cookbook has pictures of the finish product it just makes it that much easier to want to make that recipe. A pet peeve of mine is when a cookbook as NO pictures in it. That being said this cookbook has some really nice photos in it and I get a warm and fuzzy feeling from them...if only I could take pictures like them!

The next thing I enjoyed in this book was that the author put some example time tables in it. It just gives you an idea on how long it will take you to complete a recipe. I have tried to make some recipes to only realize that I actually don't have enough time to do them in. I know I probably could do that on my own and figure out how much time it takes to complete but it is just so much easier when it is done for you.

You all know I am a big fan of King Arthur Flour (who are actually on the supply list in the back of this book) they always say it is better to use a scale when baking. It is just more accurate then volume measuring. I have a scale and I prefer that method now. The awesome thing in this book is that you are given 3 different measuring methods...cups, pounds/ounces (Imperial) and grams (Metric) for each recipe. Another thing you can figure out on your own but just easier when someone does it for you.

Another nice thing about this book it has a chapter on gluten-free baking. From some of the blogs I have looked at it seems that can be a hard thing to find for the average person. I have not tried this section out and probably won't just because of the ingredients needed.

If you like sour dough bread making this book has at least one chapter on it and seems to be a theme in the book. I do want to try making a sour dough starter but not right now. I just don't feel comfortable with one in my refrigerator (or counter top) especially with an almost 4 year old who seems to live in it. Also to me right now it is just another thing I would have to take care of when I already have too much of that.

That all being said is this a book I would have purchased on my own...maybe. Don't get me wrong it is a very nice book and a great reference book. To me it is just not a cookbook in the what I think a traditional cookbook is...it does have recipes but about half of the book does not. It is perfect for someone who wants to get started baking bread at home or just wants to know more about baking bread. You don't get a look at your first real recipe until after about 140+ pages. I am glad I have this book to look back at when I have questions about the bread I am making.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Monkeying Around Bread


I really never need an excuse to bake some bread. So when one of the at home suggested activities for Jacob this week was bake some bread with your child...how can I say no to that! I am willing to do whatever it takes to help Jacob learn. Since I bake bread at home a lot I wanted to make something that would be fun to do with Jacob.

First I looked at my list of things I want to make and did not really see anything on it that would be "fun" to make with Jacob. It did not take me long to figure out what would be both fun and easy enough to make with Jacob...Monkey Bread. I could not believe that this was not on my list I have been wanting to do that for a while now.

So I went to the website I trust most with bread recipes when I don't have one in mind (King Arthur Flour) and found one right away.

Monkeying Around Bread
King Arthur Flour

Ingredients

Topping

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon

Dough
1/2 cup lukewarm water
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 large egg
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons instant yeast
2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

Directions
1) Make the topping: Blend the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl, or shake them together in a small lidded container. Set aside.
2) Place water, vegetable oil, egg, salt, sugar, and yeast in a medium bowl and stir well.
3) Add 1 cup of the flour, stirring to blend.
4) Add the second cup of flour, stirring to make a cohesive dough. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes; this gives the flour a chance to absorb the liquid, making it easier to knead.
5) Knead the dough — by hand, mixer, or bread machine — till it's soft and smooth.
6) Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl or large measuring cup, cover it, and let the dough rise for 30 to 60 minutes, till it's doubled in size.
7) Gently deflate the dough, and place it on a clean, lightly greased work surface; a silicone mat works well here. Divide it into pieces about 1 1/2" in diameter; you'll make 16 to 18 pieces.
8) Lightly grease an 8" round cake pan. Dip each piece in water, then roll it in the cinnamon-sugar mixture to coat.
9) Place the pieces in a single layer in the prepared pan. Sprinkle any remaining cinnamon-sugar over the top.
10) Cover the pan, and let the bread rise for 30 to 60 minutes, till it's visibly puffy. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350°F.
11) Uncover the pan, and bake the bread for 25 to 30 minutes, till it's golden brown and feels set.
12) Remove from the oven, and immediately turn the pan over onto a cooling rack. Lift the pan off the bread, and scrape any leftover topping in the pan onto the bread.13) Pull the bread apart to serve.
Serve warm, or at room temperature.



Review: I remember making monkey bread when I was in middle school and even though this was a different recipe the taste was just like I remembered (well even better then I remember). Making the dough was really simple and did not take much time. I was busy doing stuff so the waiting in between each step seemed to go by fast. The only thing I might do different is make the individual pieces smaller...so instead of 16-18 I might try 20-22 and see how that size is for each piece. This is a keeper and I really want to try a savory type next because the dough isn't sweet and would work well. I think everyone would be amazed when you put that on the table at the next family meal.

Monday, November 16, 2009

My New Tea Toy.

It is official I have a child in school (well pre-school) and with that comes the obligation of fundraisers. I know I have to pace myself because this was only the first one and I am sure there will be many more. I approached this as I do my souvenir shopping when I am on vacation. (Those who know me know I love my gift shops!) Find something that you haven't seen before or you can't get around home.

Since this was the old wrapping paper/chocolate one I didn't really see much that fit this criteria. Then I turned the page to the handful of gifts they had and saw what I wanted. A silicon strawberry tea infuser which in the catalog was RED and the one I got is YELLOW (anyone ever seen a yellow strawberry?). I love drinking tea and with the winter weather coming I am going to be doing that a lot more often. Also it fit my criteria of I have never seen this before in any store around my house...SOLD!

Strawberry tea infuser with lid.
Action shot
Another action shot
Review: I now need to go and buy more loose tea so I can use my new tea infuser more. The tea I made was...wait for it...strawberry sencha tea. I just realized that I made a strawberry tea in my strawberry infuser which was totally not on purpose...it was the first loose tea I found in the cabinet. I have used those metal infusers before which always seem to leave a lot of tea leaves at the bottom of the cup. This one really did not leave much behind but I will hold my final approval in that department for when I have tried a few more teas. Overall I am happy with this purchase and I think I did good.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Happy Birthday to Me...oh and Heidi.

Today is my birthday and I plan to eat chocolate cake all day long...and look like Jacob after he eats a donut!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Lady and Sons' Chicken in Wine Sauce

I am always looking for new recipes to make for dinner. I like variety and get bored of making the same thing over and over again. One day a couple of weeks ago I found a recipe on the food networks website. Of course every time I thought I had all the ingredients I realized I was missing one. So finally this week I had all the stuff I needed to make it.

Lady and Sons' Chicken in Wine Sauce
Paula Deen (Food Network)

4 large skinless boneless chicken breasts
4 tablespoons butter, melted, plus more for casserole
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 ounces (about 8 slices) Swiss cheese
1 (10 3/4-ounce) can condensed cream of chicken soup
1/4 cup white wine
1 cup herb-flavored stuffing mix, crushed

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Add the chicken to a shallow buttered casserole and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Layer the cheese slices on top.

In a medium bowl, add the soup and the wine, season with salt and pepper and pour over the cheese. Sprinkle stuffing mix on top and drizzle with melted butter.* Bake for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve.


Review: I knew making a Paula Deen recipe wasn't going to be healthy for you but it tasted SO good. This is a great recipe to make during the week because the prep to table time goes really fast. You just layer everything in the pan put it in the oven and you are done. I just heated up some veggies and had leftover rice. Mike liked it a lot and thought it was a lot more work then it really was to make it. I think the Swiss cheese really does add a nice flavor to the dish. This recipe is defiantly a keeper...we ate it so fast that I did not have time to take a picture of the finished dish.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Monster Toast

The other day Jacob came home from school with a "recipe" for Monster Toast. I thought it was a cute idea so we made some to go with our lunch. I was able to find the print out he got online. I have to get a paint brush that we can use with food. Then I will post some pictures of our creations. I was thinking of doing something with this for Halloween dinner but not sure what yet.

This recipe is taken from the book Kinder-Krunchies, Healthy Snack Recipes for Children by Karen S. Jenkins. This book is distributed exclusively by Discovery Toys.

Print Out and Have Fun!


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Pumpkin Ravioli with Gorgonzola Sauce


Bake at 350


This month's theme for Bridget at 350's Flavor of the Month challenge was Pumpkin. I have a great pumpkin bread recipe, but decided to search for something different. For some reason I had raviolis on my brain. I think it's because while we were making wine (we decided to make Pinot Noir) the group at California Wine Works let us read a review regarding a Pinot Noir that was made at CWW. The person went on saying how great it was and that he was enjoying it while eating some mushroom raviolis. My mouth started watering, what could be better than wine and raviolis. So I started looking and came across a recipe for pumpkin raviolis. Perfect!! The funny thing was when I told Mike that I was going to make raviolis, he was like you remember what happened the last time. (He's referring to the time I tried making raviolis from scratch, dough and filling. To make a long and painful story short, we ended up going out for dinner that night). But I told him this recipe calls for wonton wrappers...so no dough making for me.


Pumpkin Ravioli with Gorgonzola Sauce



1 1/4 cups canned pumpkin
2 tablespoons dry breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons fresh grated Parmesan Cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh sage
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
30 round
wonton wrappers
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Cooking Spray
1 cup fat-free milk
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
3 tablespoons chopped walnuts

Spoon pumpkin onto several layers of heavy-duty paper towels, and spread to 1/2 inch thickness. Cover with additional paper towels; let stand 5 minutes. Scrape into a medium bowl, stir in breadcrumbs,
Parmesan, salt, minced sage, pepper and nutmeg.

Working with 1
wonton wrapper at a time (cover remaining wrappers with a damp towel), spoon 1-2 teaspoons pumpkin mixture into the center of wrapper. Brush edges with water and fold in half, pressing edges firmly. Place on a large baking sheet sprinkled with cornstarch. Repeat procedure with remaining wonton wrappers and pumpkin mixture.

Fill a large pot with water and bring to a simmer. Add half of ravioli to pan and cook 4 minutes or until done. Remove ravioli with a slotted spoon, lightly coat with cooking spray and keep warm. Repeat with the remaining ravioli.

Combine milk and flour in a saucepan, stirring with a whisk. Bring to a boil; cook for 1 minute or until thick, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add butter, stirring until butter melts. Gently stir in Gorgonzola.

Place ravioli on a plate or in a bowl and pour some sauce on top; sprinkle with walnuts.


Enjoy!

My Review: This recipe was really easy to make and I'm definitely going to make it again. Mike even asked for seconds. Too bad I didn't have any left to give him. Oh and we did have wine with them...not a Pinot Noir, but a wine called 7 Deadly Zins. So Good!!!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

I have a problem...and it involves bread

My local supermarket sells their day old bread for at least half price. I think you know you have a problem when you bring home a bag full of this bread. I just go over there every time to see if they have anything good. Well this past time they had a lot of good stuff. Also they had this big round loaf of pumpernickel that just look too good to pass up...my name is Michelle and I love day old bread.

The picture has nothing to do with day old bread but the other day it was so warm here that a ton of lady bugs came out. This was a great shot I got of one of them...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Ham & Potato Soup in a Bread Bowl: Part 2

OK so I completed the bread bowl for this mean it was time to figure out what soup I was going to make to fill them. I just knew it has to be thick and creamy like clam chowder but I did not want to make clam chowder. So I did what I always do when I am looking for a recipe...I searched the Internet to see what I could find. The Ham & Potato soup is the number 1 soup on allrecipes.com with over 2500+ review. How can you go wrong making a recipe that has been reviewed that many times.


Ham & Potato Soup

allrecipes.com

3 1/2 cups peeled and diced potatoes
1/3 cup diced celery
1/3 cup finely chopped onion
3/4 cup diced cooked ham
3 1/4 cups water
2 tablespoons chicken bouillon granules
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon ground white or black pepper, or to taste
5 tablespoons butter
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups milk

  1. Combine the potatoes, celery, onion, ham and water in a stockpot. Bring to a boil, then cook over medium heat until potatoes are tender, about 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in the chicken bouillon, salt and pepper.
  2. In a separate saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat. Whisk in flour with a fork, and cook, stirring constantly until thick, about 1 minute. Slowly stir in milk as not to allow lumps to form until all of the milk has been added. Continue stirring over medium-low heat until thick, 4 to 5 minutes.
  3. Stir the milk mixture into the stockpot, and cook soup until heated through. Serve immediately.

Review: I now know why this had some many reviews because it is a very easy and very good soup. The best part is that it doesn't take that much time to make and will be great to make with leftover holiday ham. Mike really liked this soup and I think enjoyed eating out of a bread bowl. When I mentioned to him I was making the bread bowls this was the kind of soup he hoped I would make. The one is defiantly a keeper and since I used the milk I had I don't think it is as bad if you used whole milk or heavy cream. One thing I liked about the soup is that it really stayed hot and warmed your insides right up. A perfect soup for those cold winter nights that are coming our way!


Monday, October 19, 2009

Ham & Potato Soup in a Bread Bowl: Part 1

Yesterday was just one of those gross...cold...wet days where you just want to crawl back into bed and wake up when it is nice and sunny. Well since I have two young kids that is not an option for me. I also knew that we were going to be staying home all day. I wanted a little project to break up the day because who looks forward to doing loads of laundry.

I had this one recipe on my list for a while now Artisan Bread Bowls from King Arthur Flour. It just brings back memories of our trips to San Fransisco and Fisherman's Wharf. Having some clam chowder in a sour dough bread bowl...what is better than that!

I actually remembered to get started early enough that I wasn't finishing the bread bowls at midnight. If my calculations are correct there is a minimum of 7 hours before you can bake the bread bowls. I used my bread machine again for the mixing/kneading and first rise part (about 1 hours). Then I took out my scale so I can divide the dough into 5 equal portions, made them into balls and put them on a silpat on a baking sheet. After that you put them in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours let them rise again...you can leave them in there up to 24 hours. Then 2 hours for you are ready to bake them you take them out of the refrigerator to continue rising.


Artisan Bread Bowls
King Arthur Flour

3 3/4 cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup Baker's Special Dry Milk or nonfat dry milk
1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups lukewarm water, enough to make a smooth, soft dough

Directions
1) Mix and knead together all of the ingredients—by hand, mixer or bread machine—till you've created a smooth dough.
2) Allow the dough to rise, covered, for 45 minutes; it should become puffy.
3) Divide the dough into 5 pieces.
4) Roll each piece into a ball.
5) Place on a lightly greased or parchment covered baking sheet.
6) Cover the bread bowls with greased plastic wrap.
7) Refrigerate for 4 hours (or up to 24 hours); this step will give the bread bowls extra flavor, and a delightfully crisp-chewy texture.
8) Two or more hours before serving, remove the bread bowls from the refrigerator. Uncover, and let them sit for about 30 minutes while you preheat the oven to 425°F.
9) Just before baking, slash the top surface of the bowls several times to allow them to expand.
10) Bake for 22 to 28 minutes, until the bowls are deep brown, and sound hollow when thumped on the bottom.
11) Remove from the oven, and cool on a rack.

Step #3

Baked bread bowl.
My favorite bowl...
My Review: If you are not a patient person then this recipe is not for you. There is a lot of waiting for the yeast to do it's job. At first I was worried that it would not be worth the wait but it was totally worth it. I planned on just doing the minimum rising times so we can eat it that night for dinner. Next time I think I will try to allow for more time in the refrigerator. The taste was perfect just what I expected out of this recipe. I think the whole wheat flour adds a nice flavor and texture to the finished product. Overall a very nice recipe and I can't wait to do this again!
I don't know why I had it in my head that I needed to eat these hot out of the oven. I didn't realize it calls for them to cool down...lucky for me it is cold here and I just stuck them outside for a little bit. So I think the next time I will start them the night before I want to eat them...let them have a good rest in the refrigerator and bake the the next day.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Biscotti the King Arthur Flour way...

It is no secret that I checkout the Bakers' Banter everyday...sometimes more then once a day just in case they added something new. Their post on October 12th just spoke to me...just called to me and said "Michelle...you must bake right now and you won't be sorry." Who am I to argue with myself when I just make perfect sense. I had to run to the supermarket for something any way and picked up a package of the mini chips which was the only thing I was missing. I took out the butter to soften and then the night go away with me and I had to wait. Lucky for my I just had to wait one day and I was able to make them.

Black and White Biscotti King Arthur Flour

Ingredient
6 tablespoons butter
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
2 tablespoons cocoa powder, Dutch-process preferred
1/2 teaspoon espresso powder
1/2 cup chocolate chips, mini chips preferred
2 tablespoons coarse white sparkling sugar, for topping (optional)

Glaze (optional)
3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon water

Directions
1) Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease (or line with parchment) one large (about 18" x 13") baking sheet.

2) In a medium-sized bowl, beat the butter, sugar, salt, vanilla, and baking powder until the mixture is smooth and creamy

3) Beat in the eggs; the batter may look slightly curdled.

4) At low speed of your mixer, add the flour, stirring until smooth; the dough will be sticky.

5) Divide the dough in half, leaving half in the bowl, and placing half on the prepared pan. If you have a scale, half the dough is about 10 1/4 ounces (290g). Volume-wise, half the dough is a generous 1 cup.

6) Shape the dough on the pan into a log that's about 14" long x 2 ½" wide. Straighten the log, and smooth its top and sides; a wet spatula or wet bowl scraper (or wet fingers) works well here. Place the pan in the freezer while you make the chocolate dough.

7) To prepare the chocolate dough, add the cocoa powder and espresso to the vanilla dough in the bowl, stirring to combine. Stir in the chocolate chips.

8) Remove the pan from the freezer. Using your wet fingers, spread the chocolate dough atop the vanilla dough, pressing it down the sides to entirely enclose the vanilla dough, if desired. You can also just leave the sides bare. Sprinkle the coarse sugar atop the dough, pressing it into the surface gently with your fingers.

9) Bake the dough for 25 minutes. Remove it from the oven, and allow it to cool on the pan anywhere from 10 to 25 minutes; just work it into the schedule of whatever else you're doing in the kitchen. While the biscotti are cooling slightly, reduce the oven temperature to 325°F.

10) If you've used parchment on your baking sheet, use it to lift the biscotti off the sheet onto a flat surface. If you haven't used parchment, carefully lift the biscotti off the sheet onto a flat surface. Using a serrated knife or sharp chef's knife, cut the biscotti crosswise into 3/4" slices. Or cut the biscotti on the diagonal — for fewer, longer biscotti. As you're slicing, be sure to cut straight up and down, perpendicular to the pan; if you cut unevenly, biscotti may be thicker at the top than the bottom, and they'll topple over during their second bake.

11) Set the biscotti, on edge, back on the baking sheet. Return the biscotti to the oven, and bake them for 30 to 40 minutes, till they feel very dry and are beginning to turn golden. They'll still feel a tiny bit moist in the very center, if you break off a piece; but they'll continue to dry out as they cool.

12) Remove the biscotti from the oven, and transfer them to a rack to cool.

13) If you haven't topped the biscotti with coarse sugar, glaze them once they're cool. Mix the confectioners' sugar and water, and drizzle it atop the biscotti.

Yield: 21 biscotti, about 4" to 5" long.

Review: I was excited to make these more for the way they looked because they just look so cool. I was really happy with the end result in both...they looked amazing and tasted great. To me it is nice to have both flavors in each bite. I also do not think they are super sweet and the chocolate actually helps with that part. It calls for a glaze or coarse sugar on top...I did not do either. I actually meant to put the sugar on them but totally spaced on that one. So I figured I would just glaze them then...I think I ate too many and my 3 year old just wanted them ASAP that I did not get the chance. I was half joking when I commented on their blog that I now want to make . Neapolitan version...maybe cut the batter into thirds and just color one pink...or increase the recipe to 1 1/2 times and then do that. I have to say this batter was super sticking and wetting your hands totally helps. I think this one is a keeper and I might add it to my holiday baking list.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Sesame Noodle

I am in love...no maybe I should say I am addicted to a blog I have recently found out there called Pioneer Woman. She has a really great blog that covers cooking, photography, home/garden stuff and home schooling. It is really awesome you should check it out...it will change your life.

I have to confess that I had a mommy brain moment because I bought sesame oil for something else and totally forgot what recipe I bought it for. So the other day when I was doing my daily check of what is new on the blog I came across a recipe her recipe for sesame noodles. It looked interesting to me so I saved it in my recipes to try folder.

Simple Sesame Noodles
Pioneer Woman

12 ounces thin noodles, cooked and drained (angel hair, thin spaghetti, or Asian style)
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons sugar
3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 to 3 tablespoons pure sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon hot chile oil (more to taste)
4 to 5 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons hot water
3 to 4 green onions, sliced thin

Whisk all ingredients (except noodles and green onions) together in a bowl. Taste and adjust ingredients as needed.
Pour sauce over warm noodles and toss to coat.
Sprinkle with green onions and toss.

Review: LOVE IT!!! I know it is a good recipe when Mike takes it to work with him the next day. I did not have any thin type pasta so I had to use fettuccine which was good. I also left out the chili oil because I don't think my 3 year old would have liked it but I might add a little next time. I had some fresh broccoli that I added to the mix and a cooked up the one chicken cutlet I had leftover. Overall this is a very easy and yummy recipe to make. Defiantly adding this one to my list...

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Beer Pizza Crust

My family are big pizza eaters and I make it at home frequently. I just find it an easy thing to make when I have no clue what to do for dinner. I have my standard dough recipe that I don't even need to look in the book anymore. I make it all the time but I am always looking for something new and different.

It is no secret that I love King Arthur flour and order stuff from their catalog all the time. I have noticed a recipe in there catalog for Quick Beer Pizza Dough. Just the different type of pizza dough recipe I was looking for. I was hoping that the beer would give it a nice flavor the recipe said it would give.


Review: I think this one is a keeper because it has a great taste and the crust was crunchy. I though that the bottom crust was a little tough but I think I know why. I made the dough in the bread machine and I think it was kneaded to much...well that is my theory. I will try it again but this time maybe in the food processor like I usually do with my other crust and see how it comes out that way.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Chicago Style - Tribute to John Hughes

Bake at 350

This month's Flavor of the Month theme is...A Tribute to John Hughes. If you don't know who he was, he was the writer/director of films like Sixteen Candles, Pretty in Pink, Ferris Bueller's Day off, Breakfast Club, National Lampoon's Vacation , and a lot more. He passed a way recently so what better way to make a tribute to someone, but with food. So the search began for ideas. I knew I didn't want to make something pink or something for breakfast, so I started to look through some of the movie trivia to see if I could find some fun fact to play with. What I discovered was that some of the films had a common location. Chicago!! Did you know that Chevy Chase wore the same Chicago Cubs hat in all the vacation movies?!? So I started to looking for things from Chicago.

The one thing I knew for sure that Chicago was known for was their Deep dish Pizza, but than I also came across Chicago style hot dogs and Italian Style Beef sandwiches. I make pizza all the time so I that was out, but the more I read about the Chicago style hot dog, the more it sounded good. So I decided to invite some family over for the first football game for some ball and dogs. But once the word got out more people said they would come over so I also made the Italian Beef as well.


Chicago Style Hot Dog



Ingredients (in order of assembly)


Poppy Seed Bun (see below)
All Beef Hot Dog
Yellow Mustard
Bright Green Relish
Fresh Chopped Onions
Two Tomato Wedges
Pickle Spear or Slice
Two Sport Peppers
Celery Salt


It's funny how certain items are regional. I had trouble finding two of the items needed to make a Chicago Style Hot Dog. One was the bright green relish and the other was sport peppers. I found a website I could have ordered them from, but I decided to just find similar products and no one knew the difference. Everyone thought the Chicago Style Hot Dogs were tasty, but not something they would eat all the time.

Since assembling a hot dog wasn't really a challenge I decided to try to make the Poppy Seed Buns. I was in luck when I found a recipe on King Arthur's website. I don't think they came out exactly the way they were suppose to, but the guys thought that the crunch of the buns really added an extra special touch to the whole experience.

Poppy Seed Buns

The recipe is kind of long so I linked the recipe above to bring you to King Arthur's site.


Italian Beef Sandwiches


So, the hot dogs were for the earlier games and for the later games I made the Italian Beef. It couldn't have worked out better. Since the beef was done in the slower cooker I was able to enjoy the day without having to stay in the kitchen. With this recipe you have the option to cook it on high for 4-5 hours or on low for 10-12. I started on high for a few hours and than turned it to low. Things always taste better when it's low and slow.


Ingredients

3 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon onion salt
1 teaspoon dried parsely
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 bay leaf
1 (.7 ounce) package dry Italian-style salad dressing mix
1 (5lb) rump roast


DIRECTIONS

- Combine water with salt, ground black pepper, oregano, basil, onion salt, parsley, garlic powder, bay leaf, and salad dressing mix in a saucepan. Stir well, and bring to a boil.

- Place roast in slow cooker, and pour salad dressing mixture over the meat.

-Cover, and cook on Low for 10 to 12 hours, or on High for 4 to 5 hours. When done, remove bay leaf, and shred meat with a fork.

Everyone really enjoyed the beef. It was tasty and something difference. I usually make pulled pork for large crowds, but the beef was a nice change.


Enjoy!!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Sour Cream Apple Pie

Last year I signed up for a calendar from Pillsbury and it has been really great using it. Each month they had a new featured recipe. I finally got around to making one this month and the results were surprisingly good.


Sour Cream Apple Pie
Pillsbury

Crust
1 refrigerated pie crust or 1 frozen deep dish pie shell

Filling
1 1/4 cups sour cream
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 egg
6 cups 1/4-inch slices peeled baking apples

Topping
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Dash salt
3 tablespoons cold butter or margarine

Heat oven to 400°F. Unroll pie crust in 9-inch glass pie plate as directed on box for One-Crust Filled Pie. In large bowl, beat sour cream, granulated sugar, flour, salt, vanilla and egg with wire whisk until well blended; stir in apples. Pour into crust-lined pie plate.

Bake 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F; bake 30 minutes longer.
Meanwhile, in medium bowl, mix all topping ingredients except butter. With pastry blender or fork, cut in butter until mixture looks like coarse crumbs; refrigerate until ready to use.

Sprinkle topping over pie. Bake 20 to 25 minutes longer or until topping is golden brown. Cool completely on cooling rack, about 2 hours. Cover and refrigerate any remaining pie.

Review: The only thing I changed in this recipe was that I used a frozen deep dish pie crust instead of rolling out my own. I figured it was just easier and sort of saved me a step. Everything else in the recipe I kept the same and I thought it was a very easy pie to make. It turned out great and I think I would make it again. It didn't come out like the picture totally but it tasted great and looked to me like own you can get in a store.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Eggplant "pizza"

I made Eggplant focaccia bread a few weeks ago and forgot to post it. I got the recipe from EveryDay Food magazine which had a whole section for eggplant recipes. I thought it was a tasty dish but I am not going to post to recipe because I want to try it a different way.



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