Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Every morning I have an idea of what I want to make for dinner that night, and then take out a meat to defrost during the day while I'm at work. So I decided I wanted to make enchiladas a few days ago and took out ground beef. Come to find out, while searching for a recipe online, most enchilada's are made with chicken! Obviously I don't know much about Mexican cuisine. So when I got home I just threw a few things together and my ground beef "enchiladas" came out great! They were really easy to make, a very quick clean-up and overall a very pleasing weeknight meal. Keep in mind that I hate spicy food, so these were very mild. If you like a lot of spice, chopped jalepenos would be great in this.
1 lb ground beef
1 medium-large onion, chopped
1 taco seasoning packet
1 oz. cream cheese
6 flour tortilla's (or more if you want)
1 cup instant white rice
1 can enchilada sauce
Mexican shredded cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small saucepan, bring 1 cup of salted water to a boil. Add instant rice, stir briefly, cover and set aside. In a large sautee pan, brown ground beef until cooked through and crumbled. Drain fat if necessary. Add chopped onion and cook with beef until onion is tender, about 10 minutes. Then add taco seasoning packet and however much water it calls for on the packet. Mine called for 3/4 cup. Stir until the sauce is well combined. Add cream cheese and stir until melted and mixed in with the ground beef, about another 5 minutes. Then add your cooked instant rice and 2 tbsp of enchilada sauce to the ground beef mixture and stir until everything is combined.
On a seperate plate, lay out your tortilla's. In the center of each tortilla, add ground beef/rice mixture. You can make them as full as you want. Fold them up and place into a greased 13x9 baking dish. Once you have all of your enchilada's in the baking dish, cover them with the rest of the enchilada sauce. Top with Mexican shredded cheese, and cover with foil. Bake for 20 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes. Enjoy!
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
And I look ridiculous in this picture, no makeup and exhausted from cooking/baking all day....but my husband insisted on taking it because he was very proud of me and my Bûche de Noël!!!
For Christmas this year I decided to make a Bûche de Noël. I remember in 9th grade French Class my friend and I had to make one for class and it turned out horrible. It was pretty bad tasting and the ugliest thing ever. So now that I know a little more about cooking and baking, I was really excited to give it a go this year!
I'm very pleased and proud to say it came out awesome!!! Time consuming, yes. But it was WELL worth it. Not only was the presentation lovely but the cake tasted just delicious.
I consider myself way more of a cook than a baker...baking tends to intimidate me. So when this came out good I was just more than proud! Ok, ok...enough of tooting my own horn! Here's the recipe! I followed it *almost* exactly. The only thing I did different was the chocolate hazlenut mousse, which I'll note in the recipe.
Adapted from Mary Bergin, www.Foodnetwork.com
For the Cake layer:
- 6 eggs, separated
- l/4 cup plus l tablespoon granulated sugar
- l/2 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
Butter a jelly roll pan, line with parchment paper, butter the paper and sprinkle with flour, tapping to remove excess flour. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks with 2 tablespoons of the sugar. Meanwhile, place the egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until soft peaks form. Turn the machine up to high, and beat in the remaining 3 tablespoons of sugar, continue to beat until shiny but not stiff. Add the flour to the yolk/sugar mixture and whisk to combine. Add l/4 of the egg whites to the yolk mixture, whisking to lighten the mixture. Then return the yolk mixture to the egg whites, and fold gently. Scrape into the prepared pan and even the top by running a long offset spatula across the surface. Bake until cake is golden brown and springs back when lightly touched, l2 to l5 minutes. Cool on a rack. Set aside.
For the Hazelnut Mousse:
- l l/2 cups heavy cream
- 5 ounces hazelnuts, toasted
- 5 ounces milk chocolate, cut into small chunks
- l tablespoon hazelnut oil
Place cooled hazelnuts on a kitchen towel and rub together to remove skins. Place the skinned hazelnuts in a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process for l minute. Add the hazelnut oil through the feeder tube and process until a paste forms.
Melt chocolate in a medium bowl placed over simmering water, or melt in a microwave oven. Add the melted chocolate to the hazelnut paste and set aside.
Whip the heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Fold in the hazelnut/chocolate mixture. Keep covered in the refrigerator until needed.
I read in one of the comments on food network to just use nutella instead of roasting the hazlenuts and everything. And since it's Christmas and I was in a bit of a time crunch, I just did that instead. I used about 3/4 of a jar of nutella, melted it in the microwave and then folded it into the whipped cream. It worked out totally great. It still maintained a great consistancy and tasted wonderful!
To assemble the cake roll:
Trim the edges of the sponge cake. Place the Hazelnut mousse on the cake layer. Spread the mixture evenly over the cake, leaving a l inch space along the long side. Using the parchment paper to aid you, carefully roll up the cake into a thick log, enclosing the mousse. Leave the wrapped, rolled-up cake on the sheet pan and refrigerate until filling is firm, at least 2 hours.
For the Chocolate Frosting:
- 12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, cut into small pieces
- 8 ounces unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- l/2 cup powdered sugar
- 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
- l/2 cup water or strong coffee
- l/4 cup sour cream
- Melt the chocolate. In a small pot, heat the coffee and cocoa. Add the sour cream. In the bowl of a mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and creamy. Add the chocolate mixture and combine completely. Transfer to a medium bowl and set aside until of spreading consistency.
For the Meringue Mushrooms:
- 4 large egg whites
- l cup granulated sugar
- l/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- About 5 ounces semisweet chocolate
- Sifted unsweetened cocoa
Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Line l or 2 baking trays with parchment paper and set aside. Fit a large pastry bag with a #4 or #5 plain tip and set aside.
Beat the egg whites on medium speed until frothy. Turn speed to high, slowly pour in half the sugar, add vanilla and continue to beat for l minute. Slowly pour in the remaining sugar and beat until the whites are very thick and shiny, about 3 to 4 minutes longer. Immediately spoon half the mixture into the prepared pastry bag. (Meringue will begin to break down if not used soon after it is ready.) Hold the pastry bag upright over the prepared baking trays, squeeze out 26 to 30 mushroom caps, making different sizes, placed about l inch apart. The caps can be different sizes, since real mushroom caps are never identical.
Again, holding the bag upright over the other tray, lifting the bag as you squeeze out the meringue, form 26 to 30 stems, each l/2 inch to l inch high, placed about l inch apart.
Place the trays in the oven and bake until the meringues are firm to the touch and can be lifted easily from the trays, about l l/2 hours. The meringues should be dry, but should not take on any color. Remove the trays to a cool dry spot. When cool, with a small knife, trim any pointed tips on the caps and stems, if desired.
Melt the chocolate in a small bowl, and holding the caps upside down, spread a little chocolate on each one. Attach a stem and leave them upside down until the chocolate hardens. When ready, turn mushroom cap side up, and dust lightly with sifted cocoa.
Set aside until ready to use for decoration.
To decorate and serve:
Remove pan with cake from refrigerator and place wrapped cake on a firm surface. Carefully unwrap cake. Using a serrated knife, from one end cut a 2-inch piece of cake on the diagonal. Set the cut piece aside.
Cut out a piece of cardboard the length and width of the cake. Cover the cardboard with foil and place the cake on it. Spread a little frosting on the bottom of the small cut piece and set on top of the cake roll. Using a small spatula, spread the frosting over the entire cake as well as the small piece atop the cake. With a wooden skewer or the point of a small knife, make furrows to simulate bark along the sides and top of the cake.
Arrange Christmas greens, plastic holly, and Meringue Mushrooms around the Yule Log. Sift powdered sugar over the whole thing to simulate snow. Fresh cranberries can be scattered around for added color.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Colleen from Cooking this and that tagged me on her blog, so now I have to share 7 interesting / weird things about myself!
1) I used to show Arabian horses all over the US and Canada.
2) I use cornstarch, but I hate touching it. It reminds me of nails on a chalkboard.
3) One of my biggest pet peeves is people who break spaghetti in half before putting it a pot of boiling water (my mom does this and it drives me crazy!)
4) I LOVE snow which is good because I live in a snow belt where we get a LOT of it!
5) Escargots is by far my favorite food of all time. I would eat it every day if I could.
6) I hate breakfast foods...so much so that I never eat breakfast.
7) I helped my husband butcher his last deer and I actually had fun doing it. It's good to know where your meat comes from and how it breaks down.
So now the rules state that I need to tag 7 more blogs:
Erica's Kitchen Adventures
Food Alla Puttanesca
Num Yummy Recipes
Woman with a Whisk
Adventures are Better Together
Cook Like a Champion
Monday, December 22, 2008
I wrap each tray in plastic wrap, and tie with a decorative bow made from some pretty ribbon. I then tie a handmade gift card to each tray, so I know who's is who's!
I wanted to put one more item on my Christmas cookie tray this year, and I thought homemade marshmallows would be the perfect addition. I had so much fun making these. My Kitchen Aid mixer got quite the workout, but I really enjoyed forming these and then dipping them in chocolate. I thought they came out great...there's nothing like a homemade marshmallow!
Adapted from Alton Brown
- 3 packages unflavored gelatin
- 1 cup ice cold water, divided
- 12 ounces granulated sugar, approximately 1 1/2 cups
- 1 cup light corn syrup
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- Nonstick spray
Place the gelatin into the bowl of a stand mixer along with 1/2 cup of the water. Have the whisk attachment standing by.
In a small saucepan combine the remaining 1/2 cup water, granulated sugar, corn syrup and salt. Place over medium high heat, cover and allow to cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Uncover, clip a candy thermometer onto the side of the pan and continue to cook until the mixture reaches 240 degrees F, approximately 7 to 8 minutes. Once the mixture reaches this temperature, immediately remove from the heat.
Turn the mixer on low speed and, while running, slowly pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the gelatin mixture. Once you have added all of the syrup, increase the speed to high. Continue to whip until the mixture becomes very thick and is lukewarm, approximately 12 to 15 minutes. Add the vanilla during the last minute of whipping. While the mixture is whipping prepare the pans as follows.
For regular marshmallows:
Combine the confectioners' sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Lightly spray a 13 by 9-inch metal baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Add the sugar and cornstarch mixture and move around to completely coat the bottom and sides of the pan. Return the remaining mixture to the bowl for later use.
When ready, pour the mixture into the prepared pan, using a lightly oiled spatula for spreading evenly into the pan. Dust the top with enough of the remaining sugar and cornstarch mixture to lightly cover. Reserve the rest for later. Allow the marshmallows to sit uncovered for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.
Turn the marshmallows out onto a cutting board and cut into 1-inch squares using a pizza wheel dusted with the confectioners' sugar mixture. Once cut, lightly dust all sides of each marshmallow with the remaining mixture, using additional if necessary. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.
For miniature marshmallows:
Combine the confectioners' sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Line 4 half sheet pans with parchment paper, spray the paper with nonstick cooking spray and dust with the confectioners' sugar mixture.
Scoop the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a 1/2-inch round piping tip. Pipe the mixture onto the prepared sheet pans lengthwise, leaving about 1-inch between each strip. Sprinkle the tops with enough of the remaining cornstarch and sugar mixture to lightly cover. Let the strips set for 4 hours or up to overnight.
Cut into 1/2 inch pieces using a pizza wheel or scissors dusted with the confectioners' sugar mixture. Once cut, lightly dust all sides of each marshmallow with the remaining sugar mixture and store in an airtight container for up to a week.
To dip the marshmallows, all I did was melt chocolate chips over a double boiler with about 2-3 tbsp of shortening. Then, I piped a white chocolate decoration on the top!
I found this recipe in my Real Simple magazine, and knew I had to make it. I loved that I could freeze them first and then bake them when ready. Plus, my husband loves ginger-anything and chocolate, so I knew he'd love them. I baked them from frozen and they turned out just great. Like I thought, my husband raved over them. They had just enough spice to make them the perfect addition to any Christmas cookie tray.
Adapted from Real Simple
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for the pan
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/4 cups light brown sugar
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
Heat oven to 350° F. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking pan and line it with 2 crisscrossed pieces of parchment paper, leaving an overhang on all sides. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, baking soda, and salt.
With an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugars until fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat to combine. Gradually add the flour mixture, mixing until just incorporated. Mix in the chocolate chips.
Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 40 to 50 minutes. Cool completely in the pan, then cut into 32 bars (8 rows by 4 rows).
To Wrap: The tight seal on a take-out container will keep the bars moist and chewy. (Soak containers in warm, soapy water to remove glue from labels.) Wrap with a bow and personalize with a handwritten sticker.
To Freeze: Instead of baking the batter, freeze it in the pan for up to 2 months. To bake, follow the recipe instructions, baking from frozen, and use the upper end of the time range.
I've been wanting to try this soup because my husband always orders it when we go out. And since we had a small blizzard yesterday, I thought it would be the perfect time to try it! I loved this recipe. I mean, what's better than cooking onions in bacon grease? While it's not exactly low-cal, this is a really fantastic soup and just pure comfort food.
Adapted from www.Allrecipes.com
- 4 bacon strips, diced
- 2 small onions, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 3 cups chicken broth
- 2 large baked potatoes, peeled and cubed (I used about 4 smaller potatoes)
- 1 cup half-and-half cream
- 1 green onion, chopped
- Shredded Cheddar cheese
- Minced fresh parsley
- In a large saucepan, cook bacon until crisp. Drain, reserving 1 tablespoon drippings. Set bacon aside. Saute onion and garlic in the drippings until tender. Stir in flour, salt, basil and pepper; mix well. Gradually add broth. Bring to boil; boil and stir for 2 minutes. Add the potatoes, cream and green onions; heat through but do not boil. Garnish with bacon, cheese and parsley.
I really wanted to do a trial run with some yeast rolls before I baked them for Christmas, so I made these with potato soup yesterday. The only item I've successfully made with yeast is Babka, so I was hoping I'd do ok. When I first made the dough I thought I had done something drastically wrong. The dough was really heavy and dense and it just wasn't what I thought it would be. But I continued with the recipe and had some bakery bread for back up! I'm really glad I continued because the rolls turned out really great! They were really fluffy and had a great, sweet taste. I will definately make these for Christmas!
IngredientsAdapted from Annie's Eats
2 ¼ tsp. instant yeast (1 packet)
1 cup warm water (105°-115° F)
¼ cup honey
3 tbsp. canola oil
1 ¼ tsp. salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
4 cups bread flour
vegetable cooking spray
1 tbsp. butter, melted
1 tbsp honey
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the yeast and warm water. Add the honey, oil, salt, and egg and mix well. Add 3 cups of the flour and mix until the dough comes together in a sticky mass. With the mixer on low speed, add the remaining 1 cup flour and mix until it is incorporated into the dough. Switch to the dough hook, and continue kneading on low speed until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes.
Form the dough into a ball and transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, turning once to coat. Cover the bowl with a damp kitchen towel and let the dough rise in a warm, draft-free spot until it doubles in bulk, about 2 hours.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 30 seconds. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes.
Punch the dough down and divide into 12 equal portions. Shape each portion into a ball and place into a round, lightly greased baking dish, spacing evenly. Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place for 20 minutes. Mix together the melted butter and honey, and brush lightly over the tops of the rolls. Bake at 400° for 13-15 minutes or until lightly browned. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Friday, December 19, 2008
My husband requested this last night. I've been making this recipe for years now and we both love it...Paula never disappoints! I usually serve this with a salad and crusty sourdough bread slices toasted in the oven with extra virgin olive oil, freshly minced garlic, and a sprinkle of kosher salt and pepper.
adapted from Paula Deen
- 1 cup (2 sticks) butter (I use 1 stick)
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 small carrot, finely diced
- 1 small celery stalk, diced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 cups white corn kernels, fresh or frozen
- 3 cups chicken stock
- 2 cups half-and-half
- Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
- Kosher Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Melt 1 stick of butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic, and saute for 2 minutes. Add the flour and stir to make a roux. Cook until the roux is lightly browned; set aside to cool to room temperature.
Meanwhile, combine the corn and chicken stock in another saucepan, and bring to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes. Pour the boiling stock with the corn (a little at a time) into the saucepan with the roux, whisking briskly so it doesn't lump. Return the skillet to the heat and bring to a boil. The mixture should become very thick.
In a small saucepan, gently heat the half-and-half; stir it into the thick corn mixture. Add the nutmeg and salt and pepper, to taste. Just before serving, cut the remaining stick of butter into large chunks. Add it to enrich the soup, stirring until the butter melts. I always omit this last stick of butter. I've made it with and without, and there really isn't that much different. This soup is rich enough as it is!
Thursday, December 18, 2008
When I saw these on the Noble Pig blog, I was really anxious to try them out. The whole not using flour in a cookie thing intrigued me. I planned on putting these on my Christmas Cookie tray for the office/neighbors/friends but my husband begged me not to...he said I've been baking all these things for the last few weeks and he's been so good not eating all of my cookies but he just loved these so much that he didn't want me to give them away. So I decided that he really has been a good boy so I let him keep them for himself (and me of course)! These cookies were really light and delicate on the outside and gooey and chocolatey on the inside. They were quite decadent for being so fragile. These were great and such a cinch to make.
Adapted from The Noble Pig
6 ounces good quality, bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 large egg whites, at room temperature
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup finely chopped walnuts (omitted)
Melt chocolate over a double boiler. When completely melted and smooth, set aside.
With a stand or hand mixer using the whisk attachment, beat egg whites with cream of tartar until soft peaks form.
With the beaters running, gradually add vanilla extract and granulated sugar until the egg whites hold stiff peaks but aren't dry.
Pour melted chocolate over the whipped whites, gently folding them into the mixture with a rubber spatula. Try not to deflate the whites and mix until the color is just uniform.
Immediately drop teaspoons of the batter onto two baking sheets covered in parchment paper. Space the drops 1-inch apart. Position oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and bake cookies at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes.
Bake until the cookies are shiny and cracked. They will be firm on the outside but gooey on the inside when pressed. Transfer to racks to cool completely. Makes about 22 cookies.
I bought a jar of curry paste at the Grocery store and swore I would do something with it, because I had never eaten it before. It sat in my cabinet for about a month or two, until I came across Good Things Catered's Chicken Satay which sounded really good, but turns out it was really great! My husband and I just loved it because it was just so different from what we normally eat. And I finally got to eat curry (which was very good)! This was a meal for my husband and I so I didn't put it on skewers and I cooked it in a baking dish. I also used "my" recipe for Thai Peanut sauce and drizzled it over the chicken pieces.
Adapted from Good Things Catered
3 large chicken breasts, sliced lengthwise 1 - 1 1/2 inch wide
1/4 c. soy sauce
1 Tbsp canola oil (omitted, because I didn't have any)
1 Tbsp sesame oil (omitted, because I didn't have any)
Instead, I used: 2 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
juice of 1/2 lime
1 Tbsp curry powder (I used paste)
1/8 c. packed brown sugar
1/4 c. fresh cilantro, minced
2 green onions, white and light green portions sliced
-In large bowl, combine soy sauce, oil, lime, curry, brown sugar, cilantro and green onion and and stir to combine.
-Add chicken pieces and toss to cover completely.
-Cover bowl and place in fridge for 1-2 hours.
-Remove chicken from fridge, line baking sheet with foil, top with cooling rack, and turn broiler on low. (I arranged the chicken pieces in a well greased 13x9 baking dish and poured the leftover marinade over the chicken)
-Weave chicken strips through bamboo skewers and place on cooling rack-topped baking sheet. (did not do)
-Place in middle of oven and broil until tops begin to brown slightly, about 5-7 minutes. (I broiled for 15 minutes)
-Remove from oven, flip chicken over and place back in to cook.
-Broil on low until cooked through, about 5 more minutes. (I broiled another 15 minutes)
-Remove, let cool for 3 minutes, and serve with Thai peanut sauce.
Thai Peanut Sauce
This is "my" recipe for peanut sauce. It's the same sauce in my "spicy peanut penne" and it's just so very good!
Adapted from "More Healthy Homestyle Cooking" by Evelyn Tribole
1 1/2 Tbsp Cornstarch
I poured over my chicken but it would also be great as a dipping sauce.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
This is my favorite chicken dish. If it's on the menu when we go out, I get it no matter what. It's always a winner in my book, and I've never had a bad version of it. However, I've yet to make it myself! So I tried it last night and it was *so* good. My husband absolutely loved it, as did I. This recipe is wonderful...so easy to follow and it was all done in less than 20 minutes. You have to love that on a Monday night! I modified this recipe to work for 2 people.
I'm not exactly sure how to cite the source of this recipe...my coworker's wife gave me a copy of her Vodka Sauce recipe from a cut-out in her local newspaper, and this recipe was right next to it! So I really don't even know what paper it's from! It was written by a man named Frank Costanzo...and that's all I know! So thanks Frank for the great Recipe!!!
2 Boneless Skinless Chicken breasts, pounded thin
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Pepper
1 Large Egg
1 tbps Milk
1/2 Cup Flour
1/2 Cup Chicken Brother
1/2 Cup White Wine
2-3 Tbsp. Fresh Lemon Juice (I used the juice of 1 lemon and it was pleanty)
3 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 tbsp. Butter
1 tbsp Chopped Fresh Parsley
Place chicken cutlets between two sheets of plastic wrap. With a meat pounder, gently pound the slices into 1/4 inch thickness. Make sure the chicken breasts are dry. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper and set aside. Put egg into a shallow bowl with 1 tbsp of milk and season with salt and pepper. Beat with a fork or whisk until well blended. Spread flour on a plate. In a seperate bowl, mix the broth, wine and lemon juice. Heat the oil and butter in a skillet until sizzling. Dip cutlets ingo egg mixture, into flour and then again into egg mixture. Place in skillet. Cook 3-4 minutes per side until golden brown (I put mine on medium heat and cooked for aprox 4-6 minutes per side). Transfer chicken to a plate and keep warm. When all of the chicken has been cooked, add the broth mixture to the pan. Raise the heat and cook, stirring until the sauce is slightly thickened. Stir in the parsley. Return the chicken cutlets to the skillet and turn them over once or twice in the sauce. Serve immediately with lemon wedges.
I was inspired to make this dish while I was at a Christmas Party a few weeks ago. The restaurant served something similar with Penne Pasta, a cream sauce (it wasn't Alfredo), ham and scallions. Well, the dish was really good there but my husband wasn't with me so I decided to try and recreate something similar for him. The result was heavenly. I got Mezzi Rigatoni for something a little different from our "norm", found a a great Tyler Florence Alfredo sauce recipe, and then decided to add in some Prosciutto and Scallions for an extra "kick". The creamy and rich alfredo sauce blended so well with the sharpness of the scallions and the mellow flavor of the Proscuitto. I will definately be making this again...my husband and I both loved it.
1 box of Mezzi Rigatoni pasta
4-5 slices of Proscuitto, chopped
4-5 bunches of washed scallions, finely chopped
1 shallot, finely chopped
Afredo Sauce Recipe
Adapted from Tyler Florence
1 pint heavy cream (I used 2 cups of half and half)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Freshly cracked black pepper
3 tsp flour
Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, about 10 minutes for Al Dente. Drain, and put back in large pot. Cover and set aside.
To make alfredo sauce, heat heavy cream over low-medium heat in a deep saute pan. Add butter and whisk gently to melt. Add 3 tsp of all purpose flour a little at a time in order to thicken the sauce up. When you have reached the desired consistency, sprinkle in cheese and stir to incorporate. Season with freshly cracked black pepper and salt.
Toss cooked pasta with Alfredo sauce, Chopped Prosciutto, Green onions, Shallots, Salt and pepper.
Monday, December 15, 2008
Again, I used my "base" recipe for Chocolate Truffles but changed up the flavors a bit. This truffle was really good, but I was a little disappointed with the fact that the coffee and Bailey's weren't as strong as I would have liked. I think next time I will use instant coffee in order to achieve a higher coffee flavor. But, all in all, they were really good and I'm not giving up on this flavor just yet!
Adapted from Ina Garten
- 1/2 pound good bittersweet chocolate (recommended: Lindt)
- 1/2 pound good semisweet chocolate (recommended: Ghiradelli)
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2-3 tablespoons Bailey's Irish Cream
- aprox. 3 tablespoons brewed coffee
Chop the chocolates finely with a sharp knife. Place them in a heat-proof mixing bowl.
Heat the cream in a small saucepan until it just boils. Turn off the heat and allow the cream to sit for 20 seconds. Pour the cream through a fine-meshed sieve into the bowl with chocolate. With a wire whisk, slowly stir the cream and chocolates together until the chocolate is completely melted. Whisk in the Coffee and Bailey's. Set aside at room temperature for 1 hour.
With 2 teaspoons, spoon round balls of the chocolate mixture onto a baking sheet lined with parchment or wax paper. Roll each ball of chocolate in your hands to roughly make it round. Dip in melted semi sweet chocolate over a double boiler and put on wax paper, and if desired pipe melted white chocolate tinted green over the top of the truffles. These will keep refrigerated for weeks, but serve them at room temperature.
My aunt absolutely loves English Toffee, so when I saw this recipe on the wrapper of my 60% Cacao Ghiradelli bars (I know, of all the places to find a recipe!), I thought I'd give it a try for her! I had all of the ingredients, and even though I don't own a candy thermometer, I thought I'd give it a go. This came out *so good*. Even my husband who says he doesn't like Toffee really enjoyed it. In fact, after the first batch came out so good I made a second without the pecans for people who don't like (or can't eat) nuts. This one is for the archives!
Adapted from Ghiradelli
- 8 ounces 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Baking Bar
- 3/4 cups pecans, finely chopped
- 1 cup butter
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1/8 teaspoon salt (optional)
- 1 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350F. Toast the chopped pecans on a baking sheet in the oven for 6 to 8 minutes, or until fragrant. With heavy-duty aluminum foil, form a 10-inch square shell with 1-inch high sides. (I lined a 13x9" baking dish with 2 layers of foil) Place the foil shell on a baking sheet, and set aside. In a heavy saucepan, cook the butter, sugar, water, and salt over medium heat until the temperature reaches 305F (hard-crack stage), stirring occasionally (watch closely after it reaches 290F because the temperature will increase rapidly). When the mixture becomes dark golden brown, immediately remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the vanilla extract. Pour the mixture into the foil shell. It will spread but may not reach the edges of the square. Cool at room temperature for 45 minutes, or until hard. Melt the chocolate according to instructions on the side of package. Spread melted chocolate over the cooled toffee, and sprinkle with the pecans, pressing lightly to set pecans into chocolate. Let set at room temperature 1 hour, or until the chocolate is set. Break toffee into pieces. Store covered at room temperature for up to 1 month.
Some of my fondest childhood memories are from Christmas time, one of them being making Peanut Butter Balls with my mom. It was, and still is, the treat I most look forward to during Christmas. Where she got the recipe or learned to make them, I have no clue. Mom doesn't really make PB balls any more...she says she just likes eating mine instead. So here is my "recipe" and even though they super easy to make, they are a treat that most everyone will enjoy!
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup butter
3-4 cups Confectioners (powdered) sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
aprox. 1 bag of semi sweet chocolate chips
1-2 tbsp shortening (I use Crisco)
Melt Butter over medium heat in a medium saucepan. Add peanut butter and vanilla until very smooth. When smooth, add confectioners sugar a little at a time until one large "ball" forms and the mixture is hard to stir. When thoroughly combined, set aside to cool.
When the mixture is warm but not hot, lay out a cookie sheet lined with wax paper. Form balls out of the Peanut butter mixture, and place in rows on the lined cookie sheet. Let cool completely.
Over a double boiler, melt semi sweet chocolate chips with Crisco. Stir the mixture every so often, and when completely combined and smooth, dip Peanut Butter balls into the chocolate, then back on the cookie sheet using a spoon. Allow the chocolate to set up completely before serving.
This great little tool is what I use to measure things like Peanut butter, honey, and other sticky things! I love this kitchen tool and use it quite a bit.
Make sure your Peanut butter and butter are completely smooth before adding Confectioners Sugar!
After adding Confectioners sugar, your peanut butter should look like this:
I got the idea for this flavor combo. from none other then my own fabulous wedding cake! My awesome baker Jen, from She Takes the Cake came up with this fabulous flavor for every other layer of our cake. When we had our tasting, my husband and I just about devoured this flavor cake! Her description of this flavor (from her website) is as follows: "Chocolate Chambord Cake with blackberry infused ganache and raspberry fillings". Yeah it was awesome then, and now it's awesome in a truffle! I used my "base" recipe from Ina Garten, and the rest is as follows.
Adapted from Ina Garten
- 1/2 pound good bittersweet chocolate (recommended: Lindt)
- 1/2 pound good semisweet chocolate (recommended: Ghiradelli)
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons Chambord
- 1/2 teaspoon raspberry extract
Chop the chocolates finely with a sharp knife. Place them in a heat-proof mixing bowl.
Heat the cream in a small saucepan until it just boils. Turn off the heat and allow the cream to sit for 20 seconds. Pour the cream through a fine-meshed sieve into the bowl with chocolate. With a wire whisk, slowly stir the cream and chocolates together until the chocolate is completely melted. Whisk in Chambord and Raspberry extract. Set aside at room temperature for 1 hour.
With 2 teaspoons, spoon round balls of the chocolate mixture onto a baking sheet lined with parchment or wax paper. Roll each ball of chocolate in your hands to roughly make it round. Dip in melted semi sweet chocolate over a double boiler and put on wax paper, and if desired pipe melted white chocolate tinted red over the top of the truffles. These will keep refrigerated for weeks, but serve them at room temperature.
Until about 6 months ago, my husband has never had homemade chicken pot pie! He was always served the frozen stuff. So I finally made him a "real" chicken pot pie and he just loves it! I absolutely love this recipe. I've changed it around quite a bit, but it's rich, creamy and hearty. Pair that along with your favorite pie dough, and you have a wonderful comfort food...perfect for a cold night.
Adapted from Pillsbury
1 recipe Pie Dough
1/3 cup butter
1 small-medium onion, chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1 3/4 cup chicken brother
1/2 cup milk
2 chicken breasts, chopped into bite-sized pieces
2 cups frozen mixed vegetables
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a medium skillet, brown chopped chicken until the chicken is cooked through and there is no pink left inside the pieces. Set aside to cool.
In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook 2-4 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions are translucent and tender. Stir in flour, salt and pepper until well blended. Keep stirring for about 3-5 minutes until the roux has a very light golden color. Gradually stir in broth and milk, cooking and stirring until bubbly and thickened, about 10 minutes or so.
Stir in chicken and mixed vegetables. Remove from heat. Roll out refrigerated pie dough and place on the bottom of a pie pan. Then spoon chicken mixture into crust-lined pan. Top with second crust; seal edge and flute. If desired, brush top of pie with an egg wash. Cut slits in several places in top crust.
Place foil around the edges of the pie crust to prevent excessive browning. Bake 30 to 40 minutes or until crust is golden brown. During the last 10 minutes or so, remove foil from edges to allow them to brown as well, but keep a close eye because they can burn quickly!
This is my favorite recipe for pie dough. I like that it doesn't require any shortening, because I don't usually have that on hand. But I always have butter in the fridge so I can make this in any pie dough emergency! It's also super flaky and buttery...just how we like it! This recipe was written to be made in a food processor, but I don't have a very good food processor so I don't use it. So this is my recipe without the use of a food processor!
Adapted from Martha Stewart
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water (I usually need at least 1 cup of ice water...I don't know why I need so much but I definitely do to hold the dough together).
- In a large bowl combine flour, salt, and sugar. Add butter, and with a pastry blender mix until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
- Add ice water in a slow, steady stream. With your hands, mix water into flour mixture until it holds together without being wet or sticky; be careful not to over process. To test, squeeze a small amount together: If it is crumbly, add more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time.
- Divide dough into two equal balls. Flatten each ball into a disc and wrap in plastic. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill at least 1 hour. Dough may be stored, frozen, up to 1 month.
With Christmas cookie making, cleaning and wrapping gifts on Sunday, I was beat when it came time to make dinner. So my darling husband offered to make dinner for me! He can make one dish, and it's pretty good! So he calls it "his" casserole. There's really no recipe for it...he just throws it all together! I'm really not even sure how he thought of it. So here are the basics...but feel free to change it up to make it your own. It's great comfort food and a really good weeknight meal.
1 lb ground venison (we always use venison but you could easily sub. ground beef)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 can of whole kernel corn
1/2 cup of peas (thawed, if necessary)
cheddar cheese...as much as you want!
aprox. 3/4 cup jiffy mix
aprox. 3/4 cup milk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brown venison in a large skillet until cooked through. If you use ground beef, you might have to drain the fat. Venison is so lean you usually don't have to. In the same skillet as the ground venison, add chopped onion, garlic, salt, pepper, corn and peas. Cook about 5-6 minutes, or until onions are translucent. Then add about 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese (or more if you want!) and stir until melted. Remove from heat and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, combine milk and jiffy mix until it reaches your desired consistency. Brian likes his on the thin side...about the same consistency as pancake batter. Pour about 1/4-1/2 the batter on the bottom of a greased 13x9 casserole dish (I use a 2 1/2 quart casserole dish). Then add your meat mixture. Sprinkle a little cheddar on top of that. Finally, pour the rest of the jiffy mix batter until it covers all of the meat/cheese mixture. If you need to make more batter, that is fine. Just make sure it covers the meat mixture.
Bake for aprox 40-45 minutes until top is golden brown. If you're unsure if the jiffy mix is cooked through, poke a toothpick in the center. When it comes out dry, it is done.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
2 weeks ago at the grocery store, I picked up a box of orzo. I had no clue how to prepare it, and to be honest I don't think I've ever even eaten it before. But I'm always looking to do different side dishes so I thought it would be good for that. Well that box sat in my pantry for about a week or so. I scanned allrecipes.com with no luck, and even looked through some other food blogs. I still didn't find anything I was interested in. Then I happened to find my way on the Cook like a Champion blog and found exactly what I was looking for! A perfect way to serve my orzo! So I tried it last night and oh my gosh I loved it! I served it with Cheddar Baked Chicken, and it was a perfect side to that. It was also a perfect "base" recipe and I'm SO excited to try all different variations on it. But for the 1st time, I followed the recipe (almost) to the T! It reminded both my husband and I of risotto but it's a lot less time consuming. Either way it's great, you will love it!
Adapted from Cook like a Champion
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup orzo
1 1/4 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 1/4 cups water
1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated fresh Parmesan cheese (I didn't measure my Parmesan, but I know I used way more than 1/4 cup!!!)
2 tablespoons parsley
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
pinch of Nutmeg
-Heat butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
-Add orzo and cook three minutes, stirring constantly.
-Stir in broth and water; bring to a boil.
-Reduce heat and simmer until liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes.
-Remove from heat.
-Stir in cheese, parsley, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Grate a little Parmesan over the top right before serving.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
I'm always looking for new ways to incorporate more pork, beef or anything but chicken into weeknight dinners. So when I saw this recipe from Giada DeLaurentis, I knew I had to try it but with a few of my own changes. One addition I made was that I added balsamic caramelized onions to the top of the chop. I love balsamic caramelized onions with pork, so I thought it would work well and it did! I served it with roasted garlic mashed potatoes, Italian bread and a side salad.
adapted from Giada DeLaurentis
- 2 large eggs (I used 1 egg for 2 chops)
- 1 cup dried Italian-style bread crumbs (I used Italian style Panko)
- 3/4 cups freshly grated Parmesan
- 4 (1/2 to 3/4-inch thick) center-cut pork loin chops (each about 10 to 12 ounces) (I used 2 pork chops)
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
- Lemon wedges, for serving
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1-2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tbsp butter
Whisk the eggs in a plate or bowl to blend. Place the bread crumbs in another plate. Place the cheese in a third plate. Make sure your pork chops are very dry. Sprinkle the pork chops generously with salt and pepper. Coat the chops completely with the cheese, patting to adhere. Dip the chops into the eggs, then coat completely with the bread crumbs, patting to adhere.
Heat 3 tablespoons of oil and 1 tbsp of butter in a very large skillet over medium heat. Add pork chops, in batches if necessary, and cook until golden brown and the center reaches 150 degrees, about 6 minutes per side. After the 1st 6 minutes are up and you have flipped the pork chop, add your onions to the same skillet, making sure most of them are coming into direct contact with the skillet. When the pork chops are finished cooking (in aprox. another 6 minutes) remove them from the skillet and add your balsamic vinegar to the onions. Sautee for another 3-4 minutes until onions are carmelized and the vingear is absorbed. Serve onion mixture on top of pork chops.
Monday, December 8, 2008
This is my mother in law's favorite treat. I made it for Easter a few years ago and ever since then I make it for her for every holiday because she loves it so much. It is very good and very chocolatey! It's a pretty simple recipe to follow, just a bit time consuming. If you aren't a huge chocolate fan, I'd suggest cutting down on the chocolate streusel mixture. I think it's a bit much, but that's how my mother in law likes it! Either way, this babka would be perfect for a brunch or tea.
Makes 3 loaves
- 1 1/2 cups warm milk, 110 degrees
- 2 (1/4 ounce each) packages active dry yeast
- 1 3/4 cups plus a pinch of sugar
- 3 whole large eggs, room temperature
- 2 large egg yolks, room temperature
- 6 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 3/4 cups (3 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces, room temperature, plus more for bowl and loaf pans
- 2 1/4 pounds semisweet chocolate, very finely chopped
- 2 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon heavy cream
- Pour warm milk into a small bowl. Sprinkle yeast and pinch of sugar over milk; let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.
- In a bowl, whisk together 3/4 cup sugar, 2 eggs, and egg yolks. Add egg mixture to yeast mixture, and whisk to combine.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine flour and salt. Add egg mixture, and beat on low speed until almost all the flour is incorporated, about 30 seconds. Change to the dough hook. Add 2 sticks butter, and beat until flour mixture and butter are completely incorporated, and a smooth, soft dough that’s slightly sticky when squeezed is formed, about 10 minutes.
- Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead a few turns until smooth. Butter a large bowl. Place dough in bowl, and turn to coat. Cover tightly with plastic wrap. Set aside in a warm place to rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. (This usually takes about 2-3 hours for me!)
- Place chocolate, remaining cup sugar, and cinnamon in a large bowl, and stir to combine. Using two knives or a pastry cutter, cut in remaining 1 1/2 sticks butter until well combined; set filling aside.
- Generously butter three 9-by-5-by-2 3/4-inch loaf pans; line them with parchment paper. Beat remaining egg with 1 tablespoon cream; set egg wash aside. Punch back the dough, and transfer to a clean surface. Let rest 5 minutes. Cut into 3 equal pieces. Keep 2 pieces covered with plastic wrap while working with the remaining piece. On a generously floured surface, roll dough out into a 16-inch square; it should be 1/8 inch thick.
- Brush edges with reserved egg wash. Crumble 1/3 of the reserved chocolate filling evenly over dough, leaving a 1/4-inch border. Refresh egg wash if needed. Roll dough up tightly like a jelly roll. Pinch ends together to seal. Twist 5 or 6 turns. Brush top of roll with egg wash. Carefully crumble 2 tablespoons filling over the left half of the roll, being careful not to let mixture slide off. Fold right half of the roll over onto the coated left half. Fold ends under, and pinch to seal. Twist roll 2 turns, and fit into prepared pan. Repeat with the remaining 2 pieces of dough and remaining filling. This is where I freeze the loaves, if needed.
- Heat oven to 350 degrees. Brush the top of each loaf with egg wash. Crumble 1/3 of streusel topping over each loaf. Loosely cover each pan with plastic wrap, and let stand in a warm place 20 to 30 minutes.
- Bake loaves, rotating halfway through, until golden, about 55 minutes. Lower oven temperature to 325 degrees.bake until babkas are deep golden, 15 to 20 minutes more. Remove from oven, and transfer to wire racks until cool. Remove from pans; serve. Babkas freeze well for up to 1 month.
These are always a huge hit. My husband loves them so much I have to make a batch just for him every Christmas. I love them because they look so "fancy" but are so easy to make. I usually make 1 batch per cookie tray because they are always the first to go.
Adapted from Ina Garten
- 1/2 pound good bittersweet chocolate (recommended: Lindt)
- 1/2 pound good semisweet chocolate (recommended: Ghiradelli)
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons orange flavored liqueur, optional (I use Frangelico, which is hazelnut)
- 1/2 teaspoon good vanilla extract
-Chop the chocolates finely with a sharp knife. Place them in a heat-proof mixing bowl.
Heat the cream in a small saucepan until it just boils. Turn off the heat and allow the cream to sit for 20 seconds. Pour the cream through a fine-meshed sieve into the bowl with chocolate. With a wire whisk, slowly stir the cream and chocolates together until the chocolate is completely melted. Whisk in the liqueur if using, and vanilla. Set aside at room temperature for 1 hour.
With your hands and/or 2 teaspoons, make round balls of the chocolate mixture and place onto a baking sheet lined with parchment or wax paper. Place them in the freezer to "set up" before coating in chocolate, just for a few minutes. Remove from freezer.
Set up a double boiler on your stove top and add about 1/2 bag of semi sweet chocolate and a few heaping spoonfulls of shortening (I use Crisco). Stir mixture and continue to stir until the mixture is very smooth and everything is completely melted. One by one, using a teaspoon, dip truffles in melted chocolate mixture until completely coated and put on a baking sheet lined with parchment or wax paper. Put tray in refridgerator for about an hour or two, until chocolate is completely hardened. Either serve as is, or drizzle with white chocolate.
These are a must-have on every Christmas Cookie tray. Nothing too fancy or complicated about them, they are super-simple and everyone loves them. I got the recipe from the Hershey's website.
- 48 HERSHEY'S KISSES Brand Milk Chocolates
- 1/2 cup shortening
- 3/4 cup REESE'S Creamy Peanut Butter
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Granulated sugar
1. Heat oven to 375°F. Remove wrappers from chocolates.
2. Beat shortening and peanut butter in large bowl until well blended. Add 1/3 cup granulated sugar and brown sugar; beat until fluffy. Add egg, milk and vanilla; beat well. Stir together flour, baking soda and salt; gradually beat into peanut butter mixture.
3. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in granulated sugar; place on ungreased cookie sheet.
4. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Immediately press a chocolate into center of each cookie; cookie will crack around edges. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely. About 4 dozen cookies.
I wanted to find a great icing recipe for my cookies this year, and I came across this one from www.allrecipes.com. It is really easy, pipes well and hardens nicely. I will be using this one again.
- 2 cups confectioners' sugar
- 2 1/2 tablespoons cream
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- In a saucepan, over medium heat, heat cream and butter until butter is melted. Stir in the vanilla and confectioners' sugar. Remove from heat, and beat with an electric mixer until thick and smooth.