Monday, December 28, 2009

Homemade Cinnamon Rolls




One of our little Christmas traditions is to have cinnamon rolls for breakfast, along with some eggs and OJ.  Nothing too fancy really.   Typically I just pop open a can on Pillsbury Grands Cinnamon Rolls and call it a day.  They are perfectly delicious and easy, but this year, I decided to give homemade cinnamon rolls a go (plus Meijer was out of the Grands).  I found a delicious looking recipe over at My Kitchen Cafe, the third recipe I've made from that site.  The recipe calls for vanilla pudding in the dough, which makes it very sticky.  I was worried that I was adding too much flour while trying to knead the dough, but the recipe said the dough should be soft, not sticky, so I kept adding flour until I was able to move the dough around without it accumulating all over my hands.  It was quite messy, but they turned out pretty good, if I do say so myself!  I had to cut the recipe in half, since 24 rolls would have been way to much for my family of 5.  The leftovers reheated beautifully the next morning too! 

Vanilla Pudding Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting
From My Kitchen Cafe

Yield 24 large rolls 



Rolls:


½ cup warm water
2 tablespoons active dry yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
3 ½ ounce package instant vanilla pudding
½ cup butter, melted
2 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
6+ cups flour


Filling:


1 cup butter, softened to room temperature
2 cups brown sugar
4 teaspoons cinnamon




Frosting:   (I used a can of cream cheese frosting)


8 ounces cream cheese
½ cup butter, softened to room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups confectioner’s sugar
2-3 tablespoons milk




Directions:


In a small bowl combine water, yeast and sugar. Stir until dissolved. Set aside.
In large bowl, take pudding mix and prepare according to package directions.
Add butter, eggs and salt. Mix well. Then add yeast mixture. Blend. Gradually add flour; knead until smooth. Do not overflour the dough! It should be very soft but not sticky. Place in a greased bowl. Cover and let rise until doubled. Then roll out on floured board to 34 X 21 inches in size. Take 1 cup soft butter and spread over surface. In bowl, mix 2 cups brown sugar and 4 teaspoons cinnamon. Sprinkle over the top. Roll up very tightly. With knife put a notch every 1 1/2 inches. Cut with thread or serrated knife. Place on lightly greased cookie sheet 1 inch apart. Cover and let rise until double again.

Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Remove when they start to turn golden (don’t overbake). Frost warm rolls with cream cheese frosting (combine butter and cream cheese and mix well, then add vanilla and sugar and mix again, then add milk for desired consistency).

  out of the fridge and ready to bake.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Daring Bakers Challege December 2009- Gingerbread Houses

My son's "gingerbread" house

The December 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to you by Anna of Very Small Anna and Y of Lemonpi. They chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ everywhere to bake and assemble a gingerbread house from scratch. They chose recipes from Good Housekeeping and from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book as the challenge recipes.

Before I go any further, I must admit I did not bake a gingerbread house from scratch this month.   I was very excited about this challenge when I first read about it.  Last year I made graham cracker houses with my kids and it was a very fun project and I was planning on doing it again this year.  I knew it would be even better with real homemade gingerbread.  HOWEVER, I volunteered to help out in my son's classroom with their holiday party this year.  The teacher decided to do a gingerbread house as the craft.  Oh Joy!  After spending two days, constructing and decorating "gingerbread" houses with 25 second graders, I was totally over the idea of decorating houses at home.   Hopefully next year I can give it a try.   Please forgive me. :)


Merry Christmas!! 

Saturday, December 19, 2009

White Christmas Snack Mix

My sister-in law gave me this family recipe of hers a few years ago and it's now become a tradition to make this in my house every Christmas.  You'll need a big bowl to mix this in, as it makes a lot!  I sent some into work with my husband and everyone loved it.  Sweet and salty, the best combination!  Enjoy!




White Christmas

Ingredients:

5 cups Cheerios (original)
5 cups corn or rice Chex cereal
1 (10oz) bag of mini pretzel twists
2 cups  salted peanuts
1 bag  plain M&M's (holiday color)  
2 bags  white chocolate chips
3 Tbls.  vegetable or canola oil

Directions:

Combine first five ingredients into a very large bowl and set aside.

In smaller, microwavable bowl, combine the white chocolate chips and oil, mix well.  Microwave for 1 minute, stir.  Microwave for another minute, stir.  May need one more minute (depending on appliance). 

Pour over dry ingredients and mix well.  (It may seem like there's not enough chocolate to cover it all, but keep stirring, it will coat everything!)

Spread out on parchment or wax paper lined baking sheets to cool.  Store in air tight container. 

Pumpkin Apple Spice Muffins

My first post in over a month.. bout' time, huh?    Colds, flu, Thanksgiving, my birthday and other events with friends and family have taken up most of my time these past 6 weeks.  Now that the kids are out of school, I finally have some time to get back to my blog. 


the cake my husband got me for my birthday, love the fall colors!


Slowly but surely I've been trying to use up the three huge cans of pumpkin puree I picked up at Sam's Club before Thanksgiving.  I found the recipe for the pumpkin muffins over at My Kitchen Cafe.  It's the second recipe I've made from that site and I've been very happy with both of them.  These muffins are very moist and flavorful.  Enjoy!




Pumpkin Apple Spice Muffins

Ingredients:

1 2/3 cups all purpose flour

1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup butter melted
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 apple, peeled and finely chopped  (I used a Honeycrisp)

For Topping:
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
3 tablespoons sugar

Directions:

Combine first 6 ingredients in a large bowl.  Make a well in center of mixture.

Combine pumpkin, butter, and eggs in another bowl.  Add to dry ingredients, stirring just until moistened. Fold in chopped apple.

Spoon into paper cup lined muffin tins,  filling two-thirds full.

Combine the 3 tablespoons sugar and 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice; sprinkle evenly over muffins.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Remove from pans immediately, and cool on wire racks.



Monday, November 9, 2009

Creamy White Chicken Chili


Today was a busy day in the kitchen for me.  I had to pick-up my daughter from school early because she wasn't feeling well.  On the way home, I asked her if there was anything she wanted to make her feel better, her reply...Chicken Noodle Soup.  I love it when my kids request homemade soup, and I love making it for them even more.  Luckily, I had a large pack of split-chicken breasts in the fridge already thawed.  I rubbed them with some olive oil, salt and pepper and roasted them for about 40 minutes.  This is THE best way to cook chicken meat when you need it for a recipe.  Roasting with the bone-in and skin on produces very moist and flavorful meat.   Once it was cooled, I shredded the meat and used it in the soup, and Creamy White Chicken Chili for dinner.   I found a recipe for the chili at My Kitchen Cafe and made a few modifications.  My family really enjoyed it and I hope you will too. 

Creamy White Chicken Chili

3 large split bone-in, skin on chicken breasts
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper

 
2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 carrot, shredded
2 cans (15 1/2 ounces each) Great Northern Beans, rinsed and drained
16 oz  chicken stock  ( I
used 1/2 of a 32 oz box, can use a 14.5 oz can of broth and a little extra water if desired)
2 cans (4 ounces each) chopped green chilies
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/ 4 teaspoon dried cilantro
1/ 2 teaspoon pepper
1/ 8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup half n half


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Place chicken breasts skin side up on a baking sheet.  Rub with olive oil, and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.  Roast for 35-40 minutes until chicken is cooked through.
When chicken is cool enough to handle, shred into bite size pieces. 

In a dutch oven, add 2 tablespoons Olive Oil and the diced onion, celery and grated carrot.  Sauté on med-low heat until vegetables are tender, do not let them brown.  Add beans, chicken meat, chicken stock, green chilis, and the spices. 

Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Remove from the heat; stir in sour cream and half n half.  Serve with tortilla chips, sour cream and shredded Jack cheese. Makes about 6 servings. 


Thursday, November 5, 2009

Hearty Ham and Potato Casserole




I found this recipe over at Full Bellies Happy Kids recently and knew I had to give it a try.  Cheese, Ham, Potatoes, what's not to love, right?   My husband and I really enjoyed it.   I would be eating leftovers for breakfast this morning, but our microwave died last night. 

The kids were lukewarm on this dish.  Young Mr. Picky Pants wouldn't eat it at all.  Miss Picky Pants wouldn't eat the ham, go figure.   Mr. Eat Everything said he liked it, but didn't finish it.   I think next time I make it I'll use regular onion instead of green onion.  I love them, but I don't think my boys liked the flavor they added to the cheese sauce.   I followed the original recipe almost exactly, except for adding a little salt, extra pepper and a dash of cayenne to my sauce.  I also sprinkled the top of the casserole with paprika before baking.  A great comfort food dish, that could easily be made ahead of time. 


Hearty Ham and Potato Casserole 

(I doubled the recipe and cooked it in a 13x9 dish)

2. cups cubed potatoes
2 cups cooked cubed ham
1 fifteen ounce can of whole kernel golden corn, drained  ( I used thawed frozen corn)
1/4 cup fresh parsley (optional)  ( I used a teaspoon dried parsley)
1/4 cup butter
2 Tablespoons chopped onion or green onion or leeks

SAUCE

1/3 c. all purpose flour
1-3/4 c. milk
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
4 oz. shredded cheese, preferably yellow


Boil your potatoes until they are ALMOST done, they still have to cook in the oven for a while longer.

Drain off the water, add in the ham, corn, parsley, butter and green onions. Mix well.

In a small pot, add the milk and cook over medium heat until it just starts to want to boil, add in the flour and the remaining sauce ingredients and stir until thickened.

Pour the potato mixture into an oven proof dish, pour the milk mixture over, sprinkle some more cheese over and cover with foil.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until potatoes are done. Remove foil and bake for a few minutes more until cheese is completely melted and browned.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

THE DARING BAKERS OCTOBER 2009 CHALLENGE: MACAROONS

 



The 2009 October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Ami S.   She chose macarons from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern as the challenge recipe.

 This was my first time eating a french macaroon, let alone trying to make them.  There are many different flavorings and colors that macaroons can be made with and they look very pretty when finished, however, I decided to keep it simple.  I added cocoa powder to my batter and then filled them with Nutella.  Honestly, I have to admit that I didn't really care for  the overly almond flavor of these, or the cost.  The almond flour cost $10 for a 16 oz bag. Needless to say, I doubt I'll be making these again.   I would rather spend money on expensive chocolate, than almond flour. 


Ingredients:

Confectioners’ (Icing) sugar: 2 ¼ cups (225 g, 8 oz.)
Almond flour: 2 cups (190 g, 6.7 oz.)
Granulated sugar: 2 tablespoons (25 g , .88 oz.)
Egg whites: 5 (Have at room temperature)


Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 200°F (93°C). Combine the confectioners’ sugar and almond flour in a medium bowl. If grinding your own nuts, combine nuts and a cup of confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of a food processor and grind until nuts are very fine and powdery.
2. Beat the egg whites in the clean dry bowl of a stand mixer until they hold soft peaks. Slowly add the granulated sugar and beat until the mixture holds stiff peaks.
3. Sift a third of the almond flour mixture into the meringue and fold gently to combine. If you are planning on adding zest or other flavorings to the batter, now is the time. Sift in the remaining almond flour in two batches. Be gentle! Don’t overfold, but fully incorporate your ingredients.
4. Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a plain half-inch tip (Ateco #806). You can also use a Ziploc bag with a corner cut off. It’s easiest to fill your bag if you stand it up in a tall glass and fold the top down before spooning in the batter.
5. Pipe one-inch-sized (2.5 cm) mounds of batter onto baking sheets lined with nonstick liners (or parchment paper).
6. Bake the macaroon for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and raise the temperature to 375°F (190°C). Once the oven is up to temperature, put the pans back in the oven and bake for an additional 7 to 8 minutes, or lightly colored.
7. Cool on a rack before filling.



Monday, October 26, 2009

Chocolate Chip Muffins



Doesn't it look like a perfect chocolate chip cookie sitting on top of a muffin?!  I made these Sunday afternoon because I had the urge to bake something and thought the kids would like them before school this morning.  Nothing like having a little dessert for breakfast! 

I used Ina Garten's Blueberry Coffee Cake Muffin recipe to make these.  The batter has sour cream in it which makes these very moist.  This is my go-to muffin recipe.  Enjoy!

Chocolate Chip Muffins
adapted from Barefoot Contessa Family Style, 2002

makes 16 regular muffins


Ingredients:

12 tablespoons unslated butter, at room temp.
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 extra-large eggs, at room temp.
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup milk
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups milk chocolate chips (recommed Hershey's brand)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place 16 paper liners in muffin pans.  Spray tops of pans with cooking spray (makes it easier to remove the muffins)

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs one at a time, then add the vanilla, sour cream, and milk. 

In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt (I use a whisk to blend it all together).  With the mixer on low speed add the flour mixture to the batter and beat until just mixed.  Fold in the chocolate chips with a spatula. 

Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin pans using a large ice-cream scoop, filling to the top.  Bake for 25-30 minutes until the muffins are lightly browned on top.  (I always set my timer for the minimum amount of time and give it more time if needed)


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Crock-Pot Beef and Bean Chili with Cheddar Jalapeno Cornbread



No seasoning packet here, this is all from scratch.  This is one colorful chili when it's all mixed together.  Along with the beef, I added red and black beans, and for even more fiber, corn, grated carrot, yellow and green peppers.  My youngest wouldn't eat it, but everyone else had seconds.  This filled my crock-pot up to the brim, so make sure you have a large cooker. 

Lisa's Crock-Pot Beef and Bean Chili

Ingredients:

2 pounds ground beef (can substitute turkey)
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 (28-ounce) can tomato sauce
1 (14-ounce) can diced tomato
1 (14-ounce) can diced tomato with green chiles
1 (15-ounce) can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup frozen corn
1 yellow pepper, seeded and chopped
1 green pepper, seeded and chopped
1 carrot, peeled and grated
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and very finely chopped
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1-2 dashes ground cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon dried cilantro
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions:

Cook the beef, onion and garlic in a large skillet over high heat until meat is no longer pink.  Drain and add to the slow-cooker. 

Add in all remaining ingredients, stir and cover.  Cook on high for 3 hours.






This corn bread recipe is one of our favorites.  The first time I made it my husband said it was the best corn bread he had ever had.  The cheddar and jalapeno give it such great flavor, and letting the batter sit on the counter before cooking, makes it very moist and tender, almost cake like.   I modified the original recipe by using mild cheddar (that's what I had on hand), and only 1 jalapeno.  Enjoy!


Cheddar Jalapeno Cornbread
adapted from Barefoot Contessa at Home by Ina Garten 2006

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 cups milk
3 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted, plus extra to grease the pan
2 cups grated cheddar, divided
1/4 cup chopped scallions, white and green parts
1 jalapeno pepper, minced 

Directions:

Combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.

In a separate bowl, combine the milk, eggs, and melted butter.

With a wooden spoon, stir the wet ingredients into the dry until most of the lumps are dissolved. Don't overmix!   Mix in half of the grated Cheddar, the scallions and jalapenos, and allow the mixture to sit at room temperature for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 by 13 by 2-inch baking pan.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top, and sprinkle with the remaining grated Cheddar. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool and cut into large squares. Serve warm or at room temperature.



Saturday, October 3, 2009

A Perfect Gift



A friend of ours volunteers at a local C.S.A. farm in Milan.  My husband met up with him for coffee the other day, and ended up bringing home this large box full of peppers, tomatoes, eggplant and more.   Check out the huge yellow tomato and the dark purple peppers.  It makes me happy just looking at the colors in this box. 


little eggplants, so cute!

I had some of my homemade marinara left over so I cooked up the eggplant, red, green and yellow peppers in olive oil, along with some onion, fresh tomato and garlic, and then mixed them in with the marinara.  Healthy, delicious and no recipe required!

   
                        

Serve over angel hair pasta. Enjoy!


Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Mushroom Risotto



I love mushrooms!  This is one of my favorite dishes to order at an italian restaurant.  Last night I wanted to make something new, so I finally decided to give Ina Garten's Mushroom Risotto recipe a try.  Her recipe calls for dried morels that are soaked in water to produce a stock.  I didn't want to deal with this step, so I substituted other mushrooms and vegetable stock.  I followed the rest of the recipe exactly and the results were perfect...creamy and al dente.  Yum!


 

Mushroom Risotto
adapted from Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics (Clarkson/Potter 2008)

4 oz fresh wild mushrooms (the package at my store contained sliced oyster, baby bella and shitake)
1/2 lb fresh cremini mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
4 cups chicken stock
2 cups vegetable stock
6 tablespoons  unsalted butter
2 oz pancetta
1/2 cup chopped shallots
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2/3 cup parmesan cheese, freshly grated


Directions:

In a large saucepan, heat the chicken and vegetable stocks and bring to a simmer.


In a heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven,  melt the butter and saute the pancetta and shallots over medium-low heat for 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and saute for another 5 minutes.

Add the rice and stir to coat the grains with butter. Add the wine and cook for 2 minutes.

Add 2 full ladles of the chicken stock mixture to the rice, plus the saffron, salt and pepper. Stir and simmer over LOW heat until the stock is absorbed, 5-10 minutes. Continue to add the stock mixture, 2 ladles at a time, stirring every few minutes. Each time, cook until the mixture seems a little dry before adding more of the stock mixture. Continue until the rice is cooked through, but still al dente, about 25-30 minutes total.

When done, the risotto should be thick and creamy and not at all dry. Off the heat, stir in the parmesan cheese. Serve hot in bowls with extra cheese.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Quick-Fix Skillet Burritos

Nothing fancy here, but it will please almost everyone at the table, is inexpensive, and I always have the ingredients on hand.   I found the original recipe at Kraftfoods.com, but adapted it by cooking onions with the beef and adding frozen corn. 




Quick-Fix Skillet Burritos

1 lb. lean ground beef
1 pkg. Taco Seasoning Mix
1 can (19 oz.) kidney beans, drained, rinsed
1 cup Salsa
1 cup water
4 flour tortillas (6 inch), cut into 1-1/2-inch squares
1 cup mexican style shredded cheese
 lettuce, tomato, sour cream, green onions for serving.


Directions:

BROWN meat and onions in large nonstick skillet on medium-high heat; drain.

ADD seasoning mix, beans, salsa, corn and water; stir. Bring to boil. Simmer on medium-low heat 5 min.

STIR in tortillas; top with cheese. Cover; let stand 5 min. or until cheese is melted.

Serve on a bed of lettuce and tomatos.  Top with sour cream and green onions, if desired.


ready to serve



Cinnamon-Sugar Pretzel Twists with White Chocolate Drizzle

  • Cinnamon-Sugar Pretzel Twists

Last night I made a batch of Cinnamon Sugar Pretzels drizzled with White Chocolate.  I found this delicious recipe over at Tried-and-True Cooking With Heidi.  Thank You!!

These couldn't be easier to make and the combination of salty pretzel with the sweet cinnamon sugar and white chocolate is great!  I sent 1/2 the batch to work with my husband, which made him very happy.  I'm sure I'll be making these again and again.
















2/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup cinnamon sugar
1 lb  bag mini pretzels 
4 oz white chocolate (or Almond Bark)

Mix oil and cinnamon sugar in large microwavable dish. Add pretzels and toss to coat.   Microwave on HIGH for 5 minutes (stirring every 30 seconds), or until oil's absorbed.  Spread on cookie sheets to air dry.   Melt white chocolate and drizzle over the top.   Store in airtight container.       

2

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Daring Bakers in September: Vols-au-Vent with Michel Richard’s Puff Pastry Dough



The September 2009 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Steph of a whisk and a spoon.  She chose the French treat, Vols-au-Vent based on the Puff Pastry recipe by Michel Richard from the cookbook Baking With Julia by Dorie Greenspan.

I joined the Daring Bakers in August 2009 and this was my very first challenge.  I've never made puff pastry and was excited and nervous to attempt making this.  Last week, while making the dough, it was extremely warm in my kitchen and the butter started coming out of the dough a few times.  I immediately wrapped and chilled it for a few hours to let it relax.  After 4 "turns", I left the dough in the fridge for a day and a half.   I needed to take a break from rolling dough and getting flour all over my kitchen.   I was worried about how the dough would turn out, but as you can see from the photo, the vols-au-vents puffed up very nicely.  They were flaky, buttery and perfect for serving my Chicken Stew in. 




 
  
shaped and ready to bake





  

Hot out of the oven






I had plenty of dough left over so I shaped it into a rectangle, sprinkled with cinnamon & sugar and rolled it into a log.  I cut 1 in. pieces and sprayed them with some I Can't Believe It's Not Butter.  Bake on a sheet pan lined with parchment at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes.   They made the house smell great and tasted even better.  We ate these as a snack before dinner! 



This was a fun challenge and I look forward to the next one! 




Saturday, September 26, 2009

Chicken Stew

I love Ina Garten,  a.k.a. the Barefoot Contessa.  I have all of her books and actually use them at least once a week.  She is probably the one celebrity chef (well, she's not technically a trained chef) that has insipred me the most.  I've watched Food Network for the past ten years, but it wasn't until Ina appeared that I actually started cooking the recipes I saw on t.v.  This Chicken Stew recipe is one of my all time favorites.  I've made a few adjustments to suit my family's tastes, but the basics are still the same.  I did not make her biscuit recipe (although I have before and it's great).  Check back tomorrow for my first Daring Baker's challenge reveal and you'll see how I served this delicious stew. 


I love my green Le Creuset Dutch Oven!

Chicken Stew
adapted from Barefoot Contessa Family Style, 2002 Clarkston Potter/Publisher


3 whole (6 split) chicken breasts, bone-in, skin on
3 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
5 cups chicken stock       (I use Kitchen Basics stock in a box)
2 chicken bouillon cubes
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 cups chopped onion
2 stalks celery, chopped   
4 carrots, chopped
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups frozen green peas
8 oz canned mushrooms
1/4 cup heavy cream  (I used half-n-half)
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Place the chicken breasts on a sheet pan and rub them with the olive oil.  SPrinkle generously with salt and pepper.  Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, or until cooked through.  Set aside until cool enough to handle, then remove the meat from the bones and discard the skin.  Shred the chicken into large bite size pieces.  You will have 4-6 cups of chicken.

In a medium saucepan, heat the chicken stock and dissolve the bouillon cubes in the stock.  

In a large pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter and saute' the onions, carrots and celery over medium-low heat for 10-15 minutes, until tender.  Add the flour and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes.  Add the hot chicken stock to the sauce.  Simmer over low heat for 1 more minute, stirring until thick.  Add 2 teaspoons salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and the cream.  Add the shredded chicken, peas and parsley and mix well.  Simmer on low for a few minutes until everything is heated through.  

Friday, September 25, 2009

Sweet Potato Biscuits

Breakfast for dinner is a favorite in my family.  We usually have it once a week because it's inexpensive and everyone eats without complaining.  I wanted to use up some of the left over mashed sweet potatoes I have in the fridge and thought sweet potato biscuits would be interesting.  I found a recipe on the Betty Crocker Bisquick website and decided to give it try.  Using Bisquick made these come together quickly.   The recipe states a yield of 16 biscuits, but I only got 10.   Guess I made them a little too big.   I also made a cinnamon/sugar butter to spread on them and the combo was outstanding.   This is my new favorite way to use up leftover sweet potatoes.    Unfortunately, they were so yummy hot out of the oven, that I forgot to take a picture.





Thursday, September 24, 2009

Baked Broccoli Mac & Cheese

I spent much of my day yesterday working on my Daring Bakers Challenge (which I'll post next week), so by the time 4:30 pm rolled around, I needed to whip up something quick for dinner.  I quickly grabbed a box of Ronzoni elbows from the pantry, and found a large head of broccoli in the fridge that needed attention, so I decided mac & cheese with broccoli on the side would be good.  Once I finished making the cheese sauce and added the cooked pasta, I was worried that I didn't have enough noodles for the amount of sauce.  I had already cooked the broccoli in the pasta water, so I decided to throw it in with the mac & cheese, instead of serving it on the side.  Boy am I glad I did.  The broccoli soaked up the sauce and was very tasty.   My oldest son loved the dish, but the other two kids only ate the pasta and picked out the broccoli.  Oh well, more broccoli for me!  


                                                                                            

Lisa's Baked Broccoli Mac & Cheese

2 cups half-n-half
2 cups 2% milk
1 16ox box of elbow macaroni
1 large head broccoli, cut into florets
6 tablespoons  butter
1/2 cup  flour
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded 
1 tsp minced onion
2 dashes ground red pepper (optional)
1/2 cup mexican blend shredded cheese (or whatever you have on hand)

Preheat Oven to 375 degrees.  Spray a 13x9 baking dish with cooking spray.

In large saucepan over medium heat, warm the half-n-half and milk together. 

In another large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to directions on box.  2 minutes before pasta is finished cooking, add the broccoli, finish cooking and drain.

In a dutch oven,  melt butter over medium heat.  Add flour and cook for 1-2  minutes.  Add salt & pepper.  Slowly add the warm milk mixture, while stiring with a whisk.  This will thicken up really well.  Turn off the heat and add the cheddar cheese, minced onion and ground red pepper (if using).  Once cheese is melted, add the pasta with the broccoli and mix.   Pour into the baking dish and sprinkle with the 1/2 cup of extra cheese.  Bake at 375 for approximately 30-40 minutes, until bubbling and the top is nicely brown.  Enjoy!   Serves 6-8 people.











Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Tacos, Tortillas, Tostadas, Oh My!

I've never fried my own tortilla chips or taco shells before, until last night!  So easy to do and much better than store bought.  I used a tall sided pot for the frying and still ended up with grease over the stove-top, but that's okay, it was worth it.  The kids loved the homemade taco shells.  They were kind of like a puffy-taco, really crunchy and not overly hard like the boxed kind.  I used store bought corn tortillas and metal tongs to help hold one side of the tortilla up to make the taco shape.  I did this right before serving, but I think they would hold up well enough to be made ahead of time.  I also left some of them flat for tostadas and cut some into chips.  Delicious!











Monday, September 21, 2009

Pork Tenderloin with Mustard-Cider Pan Sauce and Maple Sweet Potatoes

I had a package of pork tenderloins in my fridge that I planned on cooking this past weekend, but I ended up not having to cook at all.  Friday night was my euchre night with the girls, so I got pizza for my husband and kids.  Saturday we had soccer games and ended up getting chinese takeout.  I did prepare a quick batch of chocolate chip pancakes for the kids after church Sunday, but nothing else.  Later that evening, I had a craving for cider and doughnuts.  We are fortunate to live right down the road from Plymouth Orchard and Cider Mill, so we went and picked up a dozen freshly baked cinnamon doughnuts and 1/2 gallon of cider.   Yum!

For dinner tonight, I decided to use some of the cider in mashed sweet potatoes, as well as in a pan sauce to go with the pork tenderloin    The Roasted Red Pepper Mustard I used in my sauce is from a Michigan company called Sansonetti Gourmet Food.  I picked it up at the Canton Farmers Market two weeks ago and have fallen in love with this product.  It's great in this sauce, but also good mixed with some mayo on a sandwich.   



Pork Tenderloin with Mustard-Cider Pan Sauce
  serves 6

2 tablespoons  Roasted Red Pepper Mustard  (may substitue Dijion)
3 tablespoons  Olive Oil
1 teaspoon  Garlic, minced
salt and pepper
1 package Pork Tenderloins (2), trimmed
Reserved pan drippings
1/4 cup Apple Cider
1/2 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons butter

Mix all ingredients and rub over the tenderloins.  May let this marinate for an hour or two, or cook immediately in an oven-safe stainless-steel saute pan.  Bake at 375 degrees for approximately 20 minutes or until pork is cooked through.   Remove from oven,  transfer tenderloins to a plate.  To the pan drippings, add the apple cider, salt and pepper.  Cook over med-high heat until slightly reduced, approximately 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and add the parsley and butter.  Serve over sliced tenderloin. 

Maple Mashed Sweet Potatoes  
  serves 6         
                                            
3 large sweet potatoes
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup apple cider
1 tablespoon maple syrup
salt and pepper to taste

Cut potatoes into large chunks, boil until fork tender.  Drain and put back into pot.  Add butter, apple cider, maple syrup, salt and pepper and mash until desired texture is achieved.  Enjoy!