Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Lemon Velvet Cream Pie

Oh yes, you read that right...Lemon. Velvet. Cream. Pie.  I swear it's like eating cheesecake but there isn't any cheese in it at all.  Awesome!  I am partial to lemon desserts, so when this one showed up at pie night I was pretty happy.  It's more sophisticated than your typical lemon meringue.
While it doesn't require a springform pan per se, you may want to use one because the filling is really too much for a standard size pie pan.

Lemon Velvet Cream Pie

1 1/2 c. graham cracker crumbs
5 Tbsp. sugar
1/3 c. butter, melted

1 tsp. unflavored gelatin
2 Tbsp. cold water
6 egg yolks
1 1/2 14-oz. cans sweetened condensed milk (2 cups)
1/4 c. whipping cream
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 c. lemon juice

1 c. heavy whipping cream
1/4 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

1.  Crust: Combine all ingredients and press against sides and bottom of springform pan.  Set aside.
2.  In a small bowl soften gelatin in water 5 minutes. Heat in microwave for 14 seconds; set aside.
3.  In large bowl combine egg yolks and sweetened condensed milk. With an electric mixer, beat on high speed for 2 to 3 minutes until well combined.

4.  Beat in gelatin, whipping cream and salt on low speed. Add lemon juice and beat on low speed for 30 seconds. Pour into prepared crust.
5.  Bake at 375 for 22 to 25 minutes or until center of pie looks set when gently shaken; cool on wire rack 1 hour. Cover loosely and refrigerate at least 2 hours.  
6.  Topping: Place the heavy cream in a chilled mixing bowl. Whip until the whisk begins to leave tracks in the bowl. Add the sugar and vanilla and whip until the cream holds a medium peak.  Spread on top of pie.

Lemon Velvet Cream Pie
source:  Susan T. via plainchicken.com

Monday, November 21, 2011

Roast Beef Italian Soup

This is my favorite recipe to make when we have leftover pot roast. I found it on the internet years ago.   I keep the stock that comes from making the roast to use in the soup.   Sometimes I vary the amount of peppers, or sometimes I mix it up and use red and green peppers.  Depending on the seasoning in the Italian diced tomatoes, you may need to adjust the seasoning.   I have also adapted it for the slow cooker by sauteing the onion and peppers and then tossing all the ingredients in the slow cooker for about 4 hours.  
 It is so good with a crusty bread on a cold night.

Roast Beef Italian Soup

1 onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 Tbsp. olive oil
4 c. beef stock
8 oz. mushrooms, sliced
1 can diced tomatoes, italian recipe
2 c. cubed leftover roast beef
1 Tbsp. dried oregano
1 Tbsp. dried basil
salt & pepper to taste
fresh basil

1.  Heat oil in the bottom of a large pot.  Saute onions and peppers about 5 minutes or until tender.
2.  Add remaining ingredients.  Simmer for about half an hour. Toss a handful of fresh chopped basil over the top before serving.
source: unknown

Pineapple-Rhubarb Pie

For our annual "Pie Night" last year, this pie was our unofficial winner.  We don't actually hold a contest for best pie on pie night, but my husband and I generally discuss our favorites when the evening is over and this one was easily our favorite.  

Pineapple-Rhubarb Pie

2 c. raw rhubarb (in pieces)
1 c. sugar (scant)
1/2 can crushed pineapple
1 egg beaten
2 Tbsp. flour
Double pie crust

1. Beat egg.  Add sugar and flour.  Stir.  Add pineapple and rhubarb.  Stir to cover fruit.  
2. Put in uncooked pie crust.  Cover with top crust and bake 425 degree for 15 minutes and then 350 degrees for 45 minutes.  Freezes well. 

source:  Susan T.


"Wassail, wassail, all over the town.  Our bread it is white and our ale it is brown.  Our bowl it is made of the white maple tree., With the wassailing bowl we'll drink to thee."

I was in a Madrigal troupe at one point and this was one of the songs we often sang.  I can't have wassail, or any spiced cider without singing it.
This recipe is my own.  It is a combination of a number of recipes I've seen over the years.  The important thing is to start with good cider.  Good cider is dark and may have small bits that settle to the bottom, and you have to shake it up before pouring.  If you can see through it, it is not good cider, but just apple juice.
The key is to let it simmer for a long time to allow the flavors to come out of the cinnamon sticks and cloves.  Your house will smell amazing!!
You can do this on the stove if you like, just bring it to a boil in a large pot and then turn down to a low simmer.


2 quarts apple cider
2 cups orange juice
1 cup pineapple juice (sometimes I just drain a can of pineapple and use that juice)
5 cinnamon sticks
12 whole cloves
pinch ground ginger
pinch ground nutmeg

1.  Place all ingredients in the slow cooker on high.
2.  Allow to come to a bubbly simmer (about 2 hours) then turn on low for 2-4 hours.  Serve hot.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Honey and Cinnamon

I really am not a big fan of the candied yams with marshmallows on top and never have been. Still, I do like sweet potatoes. I wanted to find a way to make them last Thanksgiving that was simple, but still special. I googled around until I found this recipe from Tyler Florence and I hit the jackpot. They were amazing! They were everyone's favorite part of the meal and have now become the recipe we plan on using every year. As a bonus, they are easy to prepare, and much healthier for you than the usual version.
The recipe below serves 4, so you may need to double or triple the recipe.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Honey and Cinnamon

  • 4 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling potatoes after cooked
  • 1/4 c. honey
  • 2 tsp, ground cinnamon
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1.  Lay the sweet potatoes out in a single layer on a roasting tray lined with aluminum foil. Drizzle the oil, honey, cinnamon, salt and pepper over the potatoes. 
2.  Roast at 375 for 25 to 30 minutes in oven or until tender.
3.  Take sweet potatoes out of the oven and transfer them to a serving platter. Drizzle with more extra-virgin olive oil before serving.
source: Tyler Florence

Cheeseburger Soup

This recipe comes from one of the teachers at the school where I used to work.  She brought it to a potluck and everybody raved about it so she forwarded on the recipe.  My husband also raved about it and has deemed it blog-worthy. 
I usually buy ground beef in a large family size package or two when it goes on sale and brown most of it up immediately and then freeze it in 1 lb. packages to make for easy recipes.  This one came together pretty quickly as a result.  

Cheeseburger Soup

3/4 c. chopped onions
3/4 c. chopped carrots
3/4 c. chopped celery
1 tsp. basil
1 tsp. parsley
1 Tbs. butter
3 c. chicken broth
1 pound ground beef, browned and drained
4 c. peeled, diced potatoes

3 Tbs. butter
1/4 c. flour
1 1/2 c. milk
1/4 c. sour cream
12 oz. processed American cheese (Velveeta or sliced American cheese)
salt & pepper 

1. In large saucepan, saute onions, carrots, celery, basil, and parsley in butter until tender, about 10 minutes. 

2. Add broth, potatoes, and beef.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer for 10 to 12 minutes until potatoes are tender.
3. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, melt butter.  Stir in flour and cook for 2 to 3 minutes until bubbly.  

4.  Stir in milk and sour cream.  Cook until thickened, stirring often.  Add cheese and heat on low until melted smooth.  
5.  Add cheese sauce to soup. Stir until well blended.  Add salt & pepper to taste.

source:  Allyson M.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Pumpkin Spice Scones

I enjoyed making these scones so much this summer, that when I found a recipe for pumpkin scones I had to try them. 
I made them one afternoon and had them ready when my kids came home from school.  They devoured them very appreciatively.  I decided never to underestimate the power of home-baked snacks to make for happy children!  It works for husbands too.

Pumpkin Spice Scones

5 c. flour  (I used 1 c. whole wheat and 4 c. all-purpose)
1 c.sugar
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. ground ginger

1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. butter, cut into cubes

1/2-3/4c. canned pumpkin
1 c. buttermilk

Cinnamon sugar: 5 1/2 tsp. sugar +1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1.  Combine dry ingredients in large bowl.  Cut in butter with a pastry blender (you can also use a food processor)  until you have coarse blend.  Add buttermilk and pumpkin and gently fold to combine.
2.  Turn dough out onto a floured surface and work gently until dough comes together.  Pat it into a 1 inch thickness.  

3.  Combine 5 1/2 tsp. sugar with 1/2 tsp. cinnamon and sprinkle over the top of the dough. 
4.  Use a knife or roller cutter to slice into squares.  ( I usually get about 2 dozen small scones.)
5.  Bake at 375 for 15 minutes.  Let cool slightly before serving.

source:  Good Cheap Eats

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Salsa Black Bean Chicken

Since school has started, I have found more use for recipes that require almost no time whatsoever.
I like this one on top of rice with a little cheese, and sour cream, and maybe avocado.  You could even tuck it into a tortilla if you like.

Salsa Black Bean Chicken

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 16 oz. jar of salsa
1 15 oz. can of black beans

1.  Place chicken in slow cooker.  top with salsa and black beans.
2.  Cover and cook on low 8 hours.  Serve with rice and other desired toppings.

source:  crockpotgirls.com

Old-Fashioned Chocolate Layer Cake and Frosting

I made this cake for my husband's birthday this year.  It took me most of the day.  It was clearly not as easy as a mix, and I'm not sure the kids appreciated it, but I think my husband did.  It makes quite a rich cake, with lots of chocolatey goodness and we couldn't come close to finishing it with our family of six.  It makes a beautiful cake, though.  The kind that deserves a really great cake stand, not just my Rubbermaid cake taker. (although it came in handy when taking the cake to work to let them finish it off!)

Because the recipe originates at Cook's Country (the America's Test Kitchen People) I recommend following all of the steps as outlined.  They are all there for a reason.
Also, don't make the frosting until the cake is cooled already, and then frost it right away.  Once frosted though, you can refrigerate it and serve it the next day.  Just let it come to room temperature first so that the frosting softens and you can really taste the chocolate.
Also, note that the directions call for a stand mixer.  I do not have one, and it worked out just fine.

Old-Fashioned Chocolate Layer Cake

12 Tbsp. (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, very soft, plus extra for greasing pans
1 3/4 c. all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting pans
4 oz unsweetened chocolate, coarsley chopped
1/4 c. dutch-processed cocoa powder
1/2 c. hot water
1 3/4 c. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. table salt
1 c. buttermilk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
4 large eggs, plus 2 large egg yolks

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat to 350 degrees. Grease two 9-inch round by 2 inch high cake pans with butter; dust pans with flour and knock out excess. (or line with parchment paper)

2.  Combine chocolate, cocoa powder, and hot water in medium heatproof bowl; set bowl over saucepan containing 1 inch of simmering water and stir with rubber spatula until chocolate ins melted, about 2 minutes. Add 1/2 cup sugar to chocolate and stir until glossy, 1-2 minutes. Remove bowl from heat and set aside to cool.
3. Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl. 
4. Combine buttermilk and vanilla in small bowl.
5. In bowl of stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, whisk eggs and yolks on medium-low speed until combined, about 10 seconds. Add remaining 1 1/4 C sugar, increase speed to high, and whis until fluffy and lightened in color, 2-3 minutes. 
6.  Replace whisk with paddle attachment. Add cooled chocolate mixture to egg/sugar mixture and mix on medium speed until thoroughly incorporated, 30-45 seconds, pausing to scrape down sides of bowl with rubber spatula as needed. 
7.  Add softened butter 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing about 10 seconds after each addition.
8.  Add about 1/3 of flour mixture; followed by half of buttermilk mixture mixing until incorporated after each addition (about 15 seconds.) Repeat using half of remaining flour mixture and all of remaining buttermilk mixture (batter may appear separated.) Scrape down sides of bowl and add remaining flour mixture; mix at medium low speed until batter is thoroughly combined, about 15 seconds. 
9.  Remove bowl from mixer and fold batter once or twice with rubber spatula to incorporate any remaining flour. Divide batter evenly between prepared cake pans; smooth batter to edges of pan with spatula.
10.  Bake cakes until toothpick inserted into center comes out with a few crumbs attached, 25-30minutes. Cool cakes in pans 15 minutes, then invert onto wire rack. Cool cakes to room temperature before frosting, 45-60 minutes

Old-Fashioned Chocolate Frosting

16 oz. semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
8 Tbsp. (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 Tbsp. corn syrup
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. table salt
1 1/4 c. cold heavy cream

1.  Melt Chocolate in heatproof bowl set over a saucepan containing 1 inch of barely simmering water, stirring occasionally until smooth. Remove from heat and set aside.
2.   Meanwhile, heat butter in small saucepan over medium-low heat until melted. Increase heat to medium; add sugar, corn syrup, vanilla, and salt and stir with heatproof rubber spatula until sugar is dissolved, 4-5 minutes. Add melted chocolate, butter mixture, and cream to clean bowl of stand mixer and stir to thoroughly combine.
3.  Place mixer bowl over ice bath and stir mixture constantly with rubber spatula until frosting is thick and just beginning to harden against sides of bowl, 1-2 minutes (frosting should be 70 degrees). 
4.  Place bowl on stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment and beat on medium-high speed until frosting is light and fluffy, 1-2 minutes. Stir with rubber spatula until completely smooth. 

 *If you find after beating, your frosting is still too soft for your liking, try chilling in the fridge until it sets up a little more.
source:  Cook's Country via Our Best Bites

Slow Cooker Western Omlet Casserole

This would be a good recipe for when you have to serve breakfast to a large group or if you just didn't have a lot of time in the morning and still wanted a hot breakfast.  Or like me, you may just want to have it for dinner.

The recipe itself is very basic and you can feel free to put in all kinds of add-ins: peppers, mushrooms, salsa, etc.

Slow Cooker Western Omlet Casserole

32 oz. bag of frozen hash brown potatoes (I used the 26 oz. one at Aldi and it turned out fine!)
1 lb. cooked sausage or cubed ham
1 medium onion, diced
1 1/2 c. shredded cheese
12 eggs
1 c. milk
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper

1.  Spray slow-cooker with cooking spray.
2.  Layer 1/3 of each hash browns, meat, onions and cheese (and any other add ins) in the slow cooker.  Repeat two times.
3.  Beat together eggs, milk, salt and pepper.  Pour over mixture in slow cooker.
4.  cover and cook on low 8-9 hours. Serve immediately.
source:  crockpotgirls.com

Plum and Cinnamon Crumble

Back in the summer of twenty-ought-six, I used to love to hang out at my Mom's house and watch her cable T.V.  One of the shows my Mom and I liked to watch was Take Home Chef starring Curtis Stone, before he was a big star.  The premise of the show was that Curtis would go up to people shopping at the grocery store (usually Whole Foods) and ask them who they were cooking dinner for tonight and then he would offer to do the cooking and pay for the groceries.   One day he made a dessert that looked so easy and yummy that I immediately went to the show website and printed it.
And then it sat in my recipe book for 5 years.
I scored some yummy plums for a great price at the farmer's market this year and decided that it was finally time to try this recipe, and I am so glad I did!  It's wonderful!
You must serve this with vanilla ice cream.  I tried it with white chocolate macadamia nut and it was weird.

Plum and Cinnamon Crumble

For the fruit filling:
2 lbs. plums, halved, pitted, each cut into 6 wedges
1/3 c. sugar
2 cinnamon sticks

For the crumb topping:
3/4 c. all purpose flour
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. old-fashioned oats
1 stick chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
3/4 c. sliced almonds, coarsely chopped

Vanilla ice cream

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.  In an 8-inch square baking dish, toss the plums, sugar and cinnamon sticks.  Arrange the mixture evenly over the dish, tucking the cinnamon sticks beneath the plums.
 2. In a medium bowl, mix the flour, sugar and oats to blend. Using your fingers, rub the butter into the flour mixture until moist clumps form. (I've also used a pastry blender for this to get it started.) Mix in the almonds. Sprinkle the crumb topping evenly over the plum mixture.
3. Bake for 45 minutes, or until the juices bubble, the fruit is tender and the topping is golden brown.  Allow the crumble to stand at room temperature for 5 minutes to cool slightly.  Spoon the crumble into bowls and serve with vanilla ice cream.

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread/Muffins or Pumpkin Muffins

Late last summer, when everyone was basking in garden fresh zucchini, I kept seeing friends post on facebook that they were making Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins.  Finally I asked for a recipe and Cari, whose recipes are usually a pretty sure thing, posted this one.

I scored several pounds of zucchini at the farmers market at the end of the summer this year and froze it, so I am still making zucchini muffins, much to the delight of the family.  I also adapted the recipe for pumpkin, by simply substituting a can of pumpkin for the zucchini.  If it seems too dry with the pumpkin, you can add a bit of water.  It's often depended on the brand of pumpkin I'm using.

I usually don't include nuts in mine, so I have listed them as optional.

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread/Muffins
or Pumpkin Muffins
3 c. flour
1/2 c. white sugar
1 c. brown sugar
1 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. salt
3 eggs
2 c. grated, unpeeled zucchini  (or 1 can pumpkin)
3/4 c. oil
1 T. vanilla
1/2 c. chopped walnuts (optional)
6 oz. chocolate chips

1. Mix all dry ingredients together; then mix eggs, oil, vanilla and zucchini in a large bowl.  Add dry ingredients to wet mixture and mix well.  Add nuts and chocolate chips.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease pans.  This batter can be poured into 2 loaf pans (50-60 minutes), or 4 - 5 mini-loaf pans (30 minutes), or muffin pans (15 - 20 minutes) or mini-muffin pans (13 - 15 minutes).
source:  Cari C.

Cafe Rio Sweet Pork

There are a number of versions of this recipe going around.  I have probably 3 different ones in my inbox right now.  I'll share the way we made it, and you can tweak as you like.

I like to serve this either on a tortilla with fillings or as salad.  Toppings we like include lettuce, taco rice, black beans, tomatoes, avocado and Creamy Tomatillo dressing.

Cafe Rio Sweet Pork

3 lbs. pork roast
1 16 oz. bottle of salsa (or can of red taco sauce)
1 can Coke or Dr. Pepper 
1 c. brown sugar

1. Place pork in crock pot and fill it half-full with water. Cook on high for 5 hours. 
2. Drain off water. Cut pork in thirds. Mix together sauce ingredients and pour into crock pot on top of pork. Cook an additional 3 hours on high. 
3. Shred pork with fork. Leave meat in crock pot on low until ready to serve.

source:  Angie P.

Applesauce Pork Roast

The local grocery store often has pork loins on sale.  Whole pork loins.  The whole loin comes packaged in this large 9-ish lb. package that looks like it's almost a yard long.  I've seen a number of people see its size and then just walk away, daunted.  What they don't know is that the meat department at the store will butcher the loin up for you however you like, roasts, chops, whatever, at no additional cost.  So I usually walk out of there with three roasts or maybe two roasts and a pkg of chops, which will all fit nicely in my freezer.

This recipe for pork roast is so easy, it's amazing I haven't shared it sooner.  It literally takes a minute to prepare. I might suggest removing the pork from the slow cooker and letting it sit for a few minutes before slicing, so that it retains it's juiciness.  I like to serve it with pork flavored stuffing (the instant kind!) and green beans.

Applesauce Pork Roast

1 2-3 lb. pork loin roast, trimmed of excess fat (leave a little on there for flavor, but you don't need a thick pad of fat like you would for an oven roast.)
1 24 oz. jar unsweetened applesauce
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 Tbsp. cinnamon

1.  Place roast in slow cooker.
2.  Pour applesauce over pork.
3.  Sprinkle brown sugar, then cinnamon on top.
4.  Cover and cook on low approx. 8 hours.

source: crockpotgirls.com

Friday, August 26, 2011

Creamy Chicken Taquitos

I made these breakfast taquitos a few weeks ago, and they were so good that I had to go back to Our Best Bites for more.  I used more of my leftover Cafe Rio Chicken to make these (that recipe makes a ton!) which gave an added depth of flavor.  I also used red salsa instead of the green called for at OBB, because that's what I had around, and it was great.  I paired this with the same Chipotle-Lime Dipping Sauce that I used for the breakfast taquitos which fit perfectly.

Creamy Chicken Taquitos
1 dozen-ish 6 inch tortillas
2 c. shredded chicken
3 oz. cream cheese
1/4 c. salsa
1 Tbsp. lime juice
1/2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
3 Tbsp. chopped cilantro
2 Tbsp. chopped green onions
1 c. shredded Monterrey Jack and Pepper Jack cheese
kosher salt

1.  Warm cream cheese in the microwave for 20-30 seconds so it's easy to mix.  Add salsa, lime, cumin, chili powder, onion powder, and garlic powder.  Stir to combine.
2. Add cilantro, green onions, chicken and cheese and combine.
3.  Warm tortillas slightly in the microwave so they are easier to work with.  Place 2-3 Tbsp. of chicken mix into each tortilla and roll up.
4.  Place them on a foil lined baking sheet with the seam side down.  Spray with cooking spray and then sprinkle with salt.
5.  Bake at 425 for 15 minutes.
serve with sour cream, salsa, guacamole or dipping sauce.
before rolling. 
source: Our Best Bites

Slow-Cooker BBQ Chicken Leg Quarters

Chicken leg quarters are on sale again!  Before I made these, my intention was to do this BBQ recipe, but my the crock in my slow cooker cracked, making it rather unsafe to use.  I finally got a new one and christened it with this chicken recipe.
The chicken comes out amazingly fall-off-the-bone tender, and the foil in the bottom keeps it from being greasy.

Slow-Cooker BBQ Chicken Leg Quarters

6 chicken leg quarters
barbeque dry rub
barbeque sauce
aluminum foil

1.  Place aluminum foil balls in the bottom of the slow cooker.

2.  Rub the chicken with a barbeque seasoning of your choice.  I prefer Grill Creations Smokey Mesquite.

3.  Place chicken on top of foil in the slow cooker.  Cook on low 6-8 hours or high 3-4 hours.
4.  Remove chicken from slow-cooker and place on a rack above a foil lined baking pan.  Brush both sides with the barbeque sauce of your choice.
5.  Place under the broiler and cook until the skin starts to crisp and the sauce starts to char slightly (just a few minutes).  Remove and serve.

source: me

Fajita Melts

My husband takes these to work for lunch and then gets complaints because he doesn't have enough for the whole group.
This recipe comes together really quickly, especially when you use leftover grilled chicken or shredded chicken, like the Cafe Rio Chicken.  In that case it takes less than 10 minutes to prepare.  
The most important step is to toast the bread first, otherwise it gets kind of soggy.  
Mmmmmmm.  Toasty.
Fajita Chicken Melts

1 loaf french bread
2 chicken breasts (or use leftover cooked chicken)
1 pkg. fajita seasoning
1-2 sliced peppers (green, red, yellow)
1 sliced onion
1/4 c. salsa
Monterrey Jack or Pepper Jack cheese

1. Slice bread lengthwise and toast it lightly under the broiler.
2. Season chicken with 1/2 of the fajita seasoning and grill on both side until cooked through.  Let rest a few minutes and then slice into thin strips.
3. Saute peppers and onions until tender and then add remaining fajita seasoning and 1/4 c. water. Stir and cook until water cooks off.  (about 3-5 minutes)
4. Spread salsa on the toasted bread.  Top with chicken, then peppers and onions.  Top with sliced or shredded cheese.
5.  Place under the broiler for a few minutes or until the cheese is melted.

source: 5 dollar dinners

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Farm-Style Oatmeal Cookies

I originally didn't intend to re-post these cookies I found at Good Cheap Eats.  After all, they are just oatmeal cookies, and doesn't everybody have a recipe for those?   Then my 9 year old told me, "Mom, I normally don't like oatmeal cookies, but these are fantastic!"  Since then she has been monitoring levels in the cookie jar and telling me, "Mom, you need to make more of those cookies we only have a few left!"
My husband also chimed in with a "Wow, those are great!"
So how could I help but share?
The recipe at GCE calls for two different kinds of oats, but I just used one kind because that's what I keep in the house, but if you want to mix & match for different texture go for it.  If you don't have buttermilk, you can use a bit of vinegar and lemon juice in regular milk and let it sit a few minutes to thicken.

Farm-Style Oatmeal Cookies
1 1/2 c. brown sugar
1 c. butter
1/2 c. buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla
4 c. quick oats
1 3/4 c. unbleached flour
1 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
optional:  chocolate chips, craisins, chopped nuts

1.  Combine sugar, butter, buttermilk, and vanilla. Add in dry ingredients.  Stir to combine.
2.  Using wet hands, shape into 2 inch balls.  Place 3 inches apart on baking sheet.  Flatten with your palm or the bottom of a glass dipped in water.
3.  Bake at 375 for about 10 minutes.  Cool on cookie sheet for 1-2 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

source: Good Cheap Eats

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Shopska Salad

When I was in Bulgaria we had this salad every day.  Now that it is harvest time and cucumbers and tomatoes are in abundance, it's a good time to revisit it.
I mean, just look at the tomato I got at the farmers market yesterday.  Look how deep the color and how meaty it was! And the flavor was unbelievable.  It makes me never want to eat another hot house tomato again.
Back to the salad....
The recipe is super simple.  The most important ingredients are the fresh cucumbers and tomatoes and the cheese.  The true Shopska salad has sirene cheese, but the closest you can usually find in the States is feta.   I have made it without onion, when I don't have it around, and I don't usually add the parsley.
The salad usually came at the beginning of the meal in Bulgaria, but in the summertime sometimes I will eat a whole bowl of just this salad for lunch.  It is delightfully cool and refreshing.  I should also note that in Bulgaria the oil & vinegar are usually sitting on the table in the restaurant (along with the salt & pepper) for the guests to add according to their tastes, but I usually toss it all together.  I've also substituted different vinegars for different flavors, although I'm pretty sure we just had the red wine vinegar all the time in Bulgaria.

Shopska Salad

2 fresh tomatoes, chopped
1 large cucumber, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1/4 c. chopped green onion
1-2 Tbsp. fresh chopped parsely (optional)
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar (to taste)
salt (to taste)
4 oz. feta cheese crumbles.

1. Toss all vegetables together with oil & vinegar and salt.  Top with cheese.

source:  Cantoria Bulgarian tour 1997

Friday, August 12, 2011

Skillet Chicken Parmesan

Even my picky eaters liked this one. My husband and I discovered this while watching an episode of Cook's Country/America's Test Kitchen.  It looked really good and really simple and only required one large skillet.   I was most intrigued by the chicken cutlets.  I'd never thought to cut the chicken in half horizontally before.  This simple technique may have just changed my life.  Cutting the chicken into cutlets makes them quicker to cook and allows for more even cooking as well. And I think the kids found them easier to eat than full sized chicken breasts too.

Skillet Chicken Parmesan

1 1/2 c. bread crumbs
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 1/4 c. parmesan cheese
1/4 c chopped basil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (28-oz) can crushed tomatoes (I only had a can of whole tomatoes, so I pulsed it in the food processor first.)
1/2 c. flour
4 chicken breasts, cut in half horizontally
3 Tbsp. oil
3/4 c. mozzarella cheese
3/4 .c shredded provolone cheese

1.  Toast bread crumbs in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer to bowl. Toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/4 cup Parmesan, and half of basil. Set aside.
2.  Season chicken with salt and pepper.  Put flour in a shallow pan and dip chicken in the flour to coat on both sides.
3.  Heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in now-empty skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add 4 cutlets and cook until golden brown on both sides. Transfer to a plate and repeat with remaining cutlets and vegetable oil.
4.  Combine remaining olive oil, 1/4 cup Parmesan, remaining basil, garlic, tomatoes, and salt and pepper to taste.  Reduce heat on skillet to medium-low and add tomato mixture to empty skillet. Return cutlets to pan in even layer, pressing down to cover with sauce.
5.  Sprinkle mozzarella, provolone, and remaining Parmesan over chicken. Cover with lid and cook until cheese is melted, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with bread crumb mixture and serve.
source:  Cook's Country

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Lemon Blueberry Scones (or Orange Scones)

I have a friend who moved to England and occasionally taunts us from overseas with her blog mentioning how they eat scones and clotted cream.  I don't know what clotted cream is, but I do know how to make scones.
The dough is a little tricky.  It is not a batter that you pour, nor is it a dough that you roll out completely, though you can use a rolling pin to help even out the thickness.  It's more something to be shaped with your hands.  Don't overwork it.
Once prepared, you can flash freeze them before baking and then bake as many as you need for 20 min. at 375.
If you don't like blueberries, you could omit the blueberries and just have lemon scones, or you could use the zest of an orange for orange scones instead.
The glaze is totally unnecessary for me, but it is very easy and yummy if you are so inclined.

Lemon-Blueberry Scones

5 c. flour  (I used 1 c. whole wheat and 4 c. all-purpose)
3/4 c.sugar
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 c. butter, cut into cubes
1 1/2 c. half and half or milk (not skim) (use a little less if using milk)
zest of one lemon
1 1/2 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen)

Glaze (optional)
1/4 c. melted butter
2 c. powdered sugar
2-4 Tbsp milk or half & half (or lemon or orange juice)
lemon or orange zest (optional)
For glaze, combine all ingredients above and beat until smooth and creamy. 
 (Use lemon juice and lemon zest for a lemon glaze and orange juice and orange zest for an orange glaze.) Add more liquid if too thick.  You don't want it too runny though.

for scones:
1.  Combine dry ingredients in large bowl.  Cut in butter with a pastry blender (you can also use a food processor)  until you have coarse blend.  Add remaining ingredients and gently fold to combine.
2.  Turn dough out onto a floured surface and work gently until dough comes together.  Pat it into a 1 inch thickness.  Use a knife or roller cutter to slice into squares.  ( I usually get just under 2 dozen small scones.)

I may have had a bit too much flour on the table, but this is about the size you will get when you pat it out.  The rolling pin just smoothed it out a bit.
3. Bake at 375 for 15 minutes.

Lemon blueberry scones, unglazed.
 4.  Drizzle with glaze, if using.
Orange scones with orange glaze
source:  Good Cheap Eats

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Herb Roasted Chicken Leg Quarters

I really like getting meat on sale.  I frequently find chicken leg quarters for as low as $0.29/lb, usually sold in a 10 lb. bag.  The question is, what to do with them?  My original plan included a crock pot, but mine cracked so I went to plan B, which will probably turn into plan A because it turned out really, really well.
First of all, if you do get the 10 lb. bag, be sure to divide them up into meal portions and freeze what you aren't going to use individually.  (I usually find about 15 of them in a bag.) For my family of 6, I divided them up into 2 meals which included leftovers.  Otherwise you end up with a huge ball of frozen together chicken that you have to use all at once.

Herb Roasted Chicken Quarters

1 tsp. rosemary
1 tsp. thyme
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
8 chicken leg quarters
1 c. chicken stock

1.  Rinse and pat dry the chicken leg quarters. Do not remove skin. Combine rosemary, thyme, salt, and pepper.  Sprinkle liberally over chicken.
2.  Place chicken in 2 9x13 pans (4 per pan).  Pour 1/2 c. chicken stock in the bottom of each pan to just cover the bottom of the pan.
3.  Roast in a 350 degree oven for about 40 minutes or until juices run clear.  Allow to rest a few minutes before serving.

source: cbsop.com

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Sweet and Spicy Ribs

What has two thumbs and keeps the oven on all day when it is 103 degrees outside to make ribs for her in-laws?  This guy! or girl, really.
Okay, bad joke.
Yes, we braved the heat because I bought some ribs on sale and intended to do most of the cooking via crock pot and then mine cracked.  They needed to be cooked so I did it in the oven.  The house was indeed quite warm, but the ribs were well worth it.
Ribs are one of those recipes where everybody has their own signature way of doing it and people will come to blows over parboiling, smoking, grilling, oven temperatures, dry rub vs. sauce, etc.  I'm no expert on BBQ, especially where ribs are concerned, so all I know is that everyone who ate this particular recipe wanted more.
This recipe is mainly a dry rub, with a reduction-type sauce, but you can finish off instead with a BBQ sauce of your choosing.  This time I actually chose to brush with a little Sweet Baby Ray's before putting under the broiler, though it didn't really need it.   I used a chipotle chili powder that I bought for another recipe, which gave them some heat, but it wasn't overwhelming, though maybe a bit much for a couple of the kids.  You could dial down the pepper if you find it too strong for you.
***update.  After making these several times, I have a couple of points to add:

  • The rub makes enough for 2 slabs of ribs.  You can cut everything in half for one slab, keep it the same and make 2 slabs, or keep half the rub in an airtight container until next time you need to make ribs.
  • I've done these in the slow cooker as well.  In the slow cooker you do not need to wrap them in foil, but I recommend spraying the inside with cooking spray first.  I did it on high about 4 hours, and then finished them off in the broiler again, because I like just a little bit of char on the outside.
  • For the chili powder, I've done a number of things, but I like 1 TBSP chipotle powder and 1 TBSP mesquite bbq powder the best.  You can adjust according to your taste, however.

Sweet and Spicy Ribs 

1 slab of spareribs (I prefer St. Louis cut)
1 c. brown sugar
2 Tbsp. chili powder (I used chipotle, but you could use ancho or even just a smoked paprika)
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. cloves
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tbsp. vinegar

1.  Combine brown sugar, chili powder, salt, garlic powder, cloves, and cinnamon in small bowl.
2.  Place a rack on a foil lined baking sheet (standard half sheet).  Place a large sheet of aluminum foil on the rack.  Place ribs on top of foil.  Rub brown sugar/spice mixture all over the ribs, patting it in generously.  Leave ribs meaty side down and fold up the foil to make a large sealed packet.

3.  Place in oven on 250 for approximately 3.5-4 hours.  Remove ribs from the oven.  Carefully open the foil packet.  Remove ribs and place back on the rack.  Pour contents of foil into a saucepan.  If using a BBQ sauce, brush both sides with sauce.
4.  Place ribs under the broiler.  Broil until top starts to get lightly charred and then turn ribs to the other side.  The meat on the ribs will retract and you should be able to see about 1/2 inch of bone on the end when they are done.
5.  Meanwhile, boil the juices to reduce by about 1/2.  Add in the vinegar and stir.  Pour over the ribs (if you didn't sauce them already) and serve.

source: Smitten Kitchen

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Fancy Dipped Strawberries

My 9 year old was bored yesterday so she decided to follow a recipe in her Kid's Cookbook and make these.  It uses canned frosting instead of having to melt chocolate chips or other dipping chocolate, which can be easy to scorch if you aren't paying attention.  The only help I offered was getting out the waxed paper and putting the finished pan in the fridge.  I have quite a little chef in my house!

Fancy Dipped Strawberries

1 lb. strawberries,washed and pat dry with paper towels
1 c. ready to spread frosting (chocolate or vanilla)
chopped nuts
miniature chocolate chips
coconut, etc.

1. Place desired toppings in small custard cups or bowls.
2. Melt frosting in a glass bowl in the microwave for 15-20 seconds or until melted.  Stir.
3.  Holding strawberries by the stems, dip each strawberry into the melted frosting.  Right away, dip the strawberry into one of the toppings.  Place on waxed-paper lined baking sheet.
4.  Place baking sheet into the fridge for 5 minutes or until the frosting has hardened.
 source: Pillsbury Kid's Cookbook

Bean Tostadas

This was another recipe we have made this week in an attempt to beat the heat.  We warmed up the beans in the microwave, and cooked the tortillas on the stovetop, which only took a few minutes.  Loading on all the cool veggie toppings made for a refreshing, but filling dinner.  (It's also good with some of the Creamy Tomatillo Dressing or Chipotle-Lime Dipping Sauce drizzled on it.)

Bean Tostadas

vegetable oil
refried beans
shredded cheese
shredded lettuce
chopped tomatoes
chopped olives
chopped avocado
sour cream

1.  Heat about 1/2 c. oil in a large skillet.  Using tongs, place the tortilla in the pan. Use the tongs to hold the tortilla down or it may bubble up in the middle.  Cook for about a minute on each side until browned and crisp.  Drain on a paper towel lined plate.
2.  When cool, spread with refried beans and top with desired toppings.

source: Good Cheap Eats

Monday, July 25, 2011

Bean Chip Dip

I first had this recipe at a baby shower.  Come to think of it, it might have been my baby shower!  My friend Kathy brought it and everybody raved about it.  I was hoping to have similar luck in bringing it to a Pioneer Day picnic this weekend.  It was over 100 degrees, and I thought that this yummy cool dip would be a good idea.  At the end of the picnic, there was still quite a bit of it left, so I wondered if I had done something wrong and no one liked it.  When I went to pick it up off of the table I  had 3 different people ask me for the recipe, so I guess I did alright!
It's technically a dip, eaten best with Tostitos Scoops, but it's consistency is more of a salsa, or even a bean salad.

Bean Chip Dip

2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
1 can white corn, drained
1 bunch green onions, chopped
3 avocados, chopped
4 roma tomatoes, chopped
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
1 pkg. Good Seasons Italian dressing mix
1/2 c. vegetable oil
1/4 c. white vinegar
3 Tbsp. water

1.  Combine beans, corn, onions, tomatoes, avocados, and cilantro in a large bowl.
2.  In small bowl, vigorously stir together oil, vinegar, water and seasoning packet.  Pour (to taste) over ingredients in large bowl and toss together.
Serve cold with tortilla chips

source:  Kathy A.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Creamy Tomatillo Dressing

This is a popular Cafe Rio recipe.  It's a very refreshing, light dressing, and it is great with the Cafe Rio Chicken and Cilantro-Lime Rice, though it would be good on a taco salad too.
The recipe makes about a quart, which is a bit too much for us, so I usually put some in a pretty jar and pass it on to a friend or neighbor.  
A couple of helpful tips:  1.  If you don't have buttermilk, you can use 1 c. milk and 1 Tbsp. white vinegar or lemon juice and let it sit for 5-10 minutes.  2.  If you don't have mayo, you can substitute sour cream or greek yogurt.  Do NOT use Miracle Whip.

Creamy Tomatillo Dressing

2 tomatillos
1 buttermilk ranch dressing packet
1 c. buttermilk
1 c. mayo
1/2 bunch cilantro
1 clove garlic
jalapeƱo, seeded
juice of 1 lime

1.  Use food processor or blender to blend all ingredients.
Keep refrigerated in an airtight container.

source:  Kate M.

Cilantro-Lime Rice

I like this rice with my Cafe Rio Chicken.  You can eat it as a side dish, but I like it piled on with the chicken as a burrito.

Cilantro-Lime Rice

1 c. uncooked rice
1 tsp. butter
2 cloves minced garlic
3 tsp. lime juice, divided
2 c. chicken broth or water
1 tsp. sugar
3 Tbsp. chopped cilantro

1.  Combine rice, butter, garlic, 1 tsp. lime juice and chicken broth in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer on low for about 20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.
2.  Meanwhile, combine sugar and 2 tsp. lime juice and cilantro.  Stir in to cooked rice and fluff with a fork.  (If you used water instead of chicken broth, or used low sodium broth, you may need to add some salt to taste.)

source:  Kate M.

Cafe Rio Chicken

I'll start by informing you that I've never been to Cafe Rio, but I have so many friends from out west that the legend looms large, and several of it's recipes have made their way to the midwest and into my crock pot.
I first had this recipe when I threw my back out and my friend Kate surprised me and brought dinner over.  I've always been hesitant to ask for food during illness or childbirth because what you get can be really hit or miss.  This one was a big hit.
I decided to make it this week since we are in the middle of a heat wave and using the crock pot beats the oven any day.  The Creamy Tomatillo Dressing is also light and refreshing and good for any number of summertime salads.
I've been told that this is often made as a salad, but I always eat it as a burrito with some black beans and Cilantro-Lime Rice, shredded lettuce and drizzled with the Creamy Tomatillo Dressing.

Cafe Rio Chicken

1 small bottle Kraft Zesty Italian Dressing
1 Tbsp. chili powder
1 Tbsp. cumin
3 cloves minced garlic
5 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breasts

1.  Place all ingredients in crock pot and cook on low 4 hours.
2.  Shred chicken by pulling apart with forks and cook for another hour.
Serve with Cilantro-Lime Rice and Creamy Tomatillo Dressing
source: Kate M.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Baked Egg Taquitos with Chipotle-Lime Dipping Sauce

While on vacation I was able to visit my old supper club and visit with some very cool ladies.  The theme that night was breakfast and this was one of my favorite items on my plate.
I made them as directed for my family, and they were delicious, though next time I will customize them for my brood.  I have a kid or two who will not even think of touching anything green, so I may just top them with diced ham and cheddar cheese for her and leave the cilantro and green onions for me and the hubby.  It makes a ton, and my hubs and I were filled up by only eating two.  I also love that they can be frozen ahead and made for an easy breakfast on the go.
The dip is also delicious, but not necessary.  Plain sour cream is just fine.  (The chipotle chili powder was a little expensive!)

Baked Egg Taquitos

2 tsp. olive oil or butter
12 eggs
1/2 c. light sour cream
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 c. shredded pepper jack cheese
1/4 c. chopped roasted red bell pepper
1/4 c. chopped cilantro
1/4 c. sliced green onions
1-2 shakes hot sauce (optional)
20 6" flour tortillas
cooking spray

Chipotle-Lime Dipping Sauce
1 1/2 c. light sour cream
1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
1/4 tsp. chipotle chili powder
1/2 tsp. salt

1.  To roast the red bell pepper, slice in half and remove seeds and ribs.  Place face down on a foil lined baking sheet.  Spray with cooking spray.  Roast under broiler for a few minutes until the outside starts to char and turn black.  Remove from oven and place peppers in ziploc bag and seal or wrap with aluminum foil.  Leave for 15 minutes.  Remove them from bag and allow to cool enough to be handled.  Skins should slide off easily.  Then chop as desired.
2.  Prepare skillet by heating oil/butter over med. heat.  Crack eggs into large bowl.  Stir in sour cream, salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  Beat lightly.  Add to pan and cook until lightly scrambled. (They can be a bit underdone)
3.  Add in cheese, green onions, red pepper, cilantro and optional hot sauce.  Gently fold to combine.
4.  Warm tortillas for a few seconds in the microwave.  Add a scant 1/4 c. egg mixture slightly off center to each tortilla and roll up.  Place seam side down on foil-lined baking sheet.  Spray lightly with cooking spray.
5.  Bake for 12-15 min at 425 degrees or until edges are lightly browned.    Serve with dipping sauce.
6.  Prepare dipping sauce by combining sour cream, chipotle chili powder, lime juice, and salt.
To make ahead, prepare taquitos and freeze before baking.  To prepare frozen taquitos, place (un-thawed) on a lightly greased cooking sheet and bake about 20 minutes at 425.

source:  Kathy A. via Our Best Bites