Monday, March 28, 2011

French Baguettes

Like most of my bread recipes, this one uses a bread machine.  Though I'm sure it would be fairly easy to adapt using normal processes for bread dough.
Notice that the recipe calls for letting the dough rise twice after coming out of the machine.  If you are in a time crunch, you can eliminate the one in step three.  The flavor and texture is better if you let it rise both times, but it will still turn out great either way.

French Baguettes

1 c. water
2 3/4 c. bread flour
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. quick active dry yeast
1 egg yolk
1 Tbsp. water

1.  Measuring carefully, place all ingredients in the bread machine pan except the egg yolk and 1 Tbsp. water in the order recommended by the manufacturer (usually liquid first).
2.  Select dough/manual cycle and press start.
3.  When completed, remove dough from pan.  Place dough in a greased bowl, turning to coat all sides.  Cover and let rise 30 minutes or until double. 
4.  Punch down dough.  Roll dough into a 16 x 12 in rectangle on a lightly floured surface.  Cut dough crosswise in half to make two 8 x 12 pieces.  Roll up each half of dough tightly beginning at 12 inch side.   Pinch edge of dough into roll to seal.  Gently roll back and forth to taper end.
5.  Place loaves a few inches apart on a greased baking sheet.  Make diagonal slashes across the top of the loaves with a sharp knife.  Cover and let rise 30 minutes or until double.
6.  Mix egg yolk and 1 Tbsp. water, and brush mixture over the tops of the loaves.
7.  Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
I made these a bit skinnier than usual.  The top loaf is already sliced. 
source:  Betty Crocker's Best Bread Machine Cookbook

Spaghetti Carbonara

My husband and I spent a birthday/date night once at a cooking school inside a local grocery store.  It was a couples participation class and the theme was "An Evening in Italy."  Of all the recipes made that night, this was our favorite.  It has since become a staple in our household, and very popular with the kids.
The recipe calls for white wine, but we don't keep that in our house, so I substitute chicken stock and lemon juice.

Spaghetti Carbonara

1 lb. bacon diced 
1 c. dry white wine (I substitute 2/3 c. chicken stock & 1/3c. lemon juice) 
3 eggs 
½ c. grated parmesan cheese 
3 cloves garlic, minced 
1 lb. spaghetti 
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste 

1.  Adjust oven rack to lower middle position.  Set ovenproof serving bowl on rack, and heat oven to 200 degrees F.  Bring 4 quarts of water to rolling boil in large stockpot. 
2.  In large skillet, cook bacon, stirring occasionally until crisp.  Pour off about ¼ c. fat from skillet and discard.  Add wine to bacon and remaining drippings in skillet; simmer until alcohol aroma has cooked off and wine is slightly reduced 6 to 8 minutes.  Remove from heat; cover to keep warm.   
3.  In small bowl, beat eggs, cheese, and garlic together with fork; set aside. 
4.  When water is boiling, add pasta and 1 Tbsp. salt, stirring to separate pasta strands;  cook according to package directions until al dente.  Reserve about 1 cup pasta cooking water and then drain pasta in colander for about 5 seconds, leaving pasta slightly wet.  Transfer drained pasta to a warm serving dish. If pasta appears dry, add some reserved cooking water and toss to moisten.  5.  Immediately pour egg mixture over hot pasta and sprinkle with ¾ tsp. salt; toss well to combine.  
6.  Pour bacon mixture over pasta, season generously with black pepper and toss well to combine.  Serve immediately.

 (Sorry, no picture. It was eaten too quickly!)

source:  Dierberg's School of Cooking

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Orange Chicken

I discovered this recipe about a year ago, and my family really loves it.  Even the picky ones.  It looks like a lot of steps, but it is totally worth the effort. The recipe is really pretty simple to execute, and uses mostly ingredients that you are likely to have on hand.  
But, if you wish to simplify it even further, I happen to know that Costco sells the Panda Express Orange Chicken Sauce, and it is very good.
The original recipe calls for sesame oil, but I don't tend to keep that on hand, so I use regular vegetable oil.  I'm sure there is a subtle difference in taste, but we did not notice it.

Orange Chicken

2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken, cut into bite size cubes
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 Tbsp. oil plus oil for frying
1/2 c. plus 1 Tbsp. cornstarch, divided
1/4 c. flour
1/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. white vinegar
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 Tbsp. water
Grated Zest of 1 orange

1 Tbsp. minced or grated fresh ginger
1 tsp. minced garlic
1/4 c. chopped green onions
red pepper flakes, to taste
1/4 c. water
 1 Tbsp. oil

1.  In a large bowl, lightly beat egg, then add salt, pepper, and 1 Tbsp oil and combine.  Add in chicken and then toss lightly until coated.
2.  In a large ziploc bag, combine cornstarch and flour.  Drop in chicken pieces, turning to coat a few at a time, and shake the bag to coat all of the chicken. 
3.  Fill a wok or deep skillet with about 1 in. oil and heat to 375 degrees.  Add chicken in small batches and fry until golden around 4-5 minutes.  Remove chicken when done and drain on paper towels.  (In my large skillet I was able to do this in 2 batches, but needed to add more oil for the second batch)  Reserve 2 Tbsp. oil and set aside.
4.  In a small bowl, combine sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, 2 Tbsp. water, and orange zest and set aside.
5. In a clean wok or skillet (either the same one, washed, or a new one...your call) heat reserved oil.  Add ginger, garlic, green onions and red pepper flakes.  Cook 2-3 minutes.  Add orange mixture and bring to a boil.  Gently toss in chicken, turning to coat. 
6.  In a small bowl, combine 1 Tbsp. cornstarch with 1/2 c. water.  Add to skillet and continue to stir to coat chicken  Add remaining 1 Tbsp. oil and stir.  Serve hot over rice, and sprinkled with a few fresh chopped green onions.
The perceptive among you may have noticed an absence of aforementioned green onions.  The ones I thought I had in my fridge were no good anymore.  I definitely recommend using them though.  They add a nice flavor.

source:  Family Feasts for $75 a Week

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Spinach Cheddar Quiche

I love breakfast for dinner.  If there are enough leftovers I don't have to cook in the morning!
This recipe can take many forms. I usually add mushrooms but didn't have any around today. 
You could also substitute any number of other foods: You could use chopped broccoli instead of spinach, and add chopped ham, crumbled bacon or sausage.  Chopped peppers would also be good.  The possibilities are endless.

Spinach-Cheddar Quiche

1 Tbsp. oil
1/2 c. chopped fresh spinach
1/4 c. chopped onion
1 c. shredded cheddar cheese
2 c. milk
1 c. biscuit mix
4 eggs
1/4 tsp. salt

1.  Saute onions in oil until tender.  Add spinach and cook another 1-2 minutes until slightly wilted. 
2.  Spoon into lightly greased pie plate.  Sprinkle with cheese.
3.  Combine remaining ingredients in a blender until smooth.  Pour into pie plate
4.  Bake at 400 degrees for 30-40 min. (depending on size of pie plate)  The top will be lightly browned and the center will be set.

source: Cari C.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Hawaiian Kikkoman Chicken

For the life of me I can't figure out why this recipe is Hawaiian.  It tastes more like oven barbequed chicken to me.  In fact, if you wish you may grill the chicken instead.
The cooking times are for bone-in chicken, so if you decide to use boneless remember to shorten the cooking times.  Also, the sauce may be used to marinate the chicken for around 6 hours beforehand.  (I would recommend this.)

Hawaiian Kikkoman Chicken

1 or 2 cut up chickens or 6-8 chicken breasts
1 c. ketchup
1/2 c. vinegar
1 c. brown sugar
6 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. prepared mustard
1 tsp. garlic salt

1. Place chicken in oblong pain or broiler pan.
2. Combine all ingredients besides chicken in a saucepan and stir over low heat until blended well.
3.  Pour sauce over chicken and bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until done. 

source:  Tara B.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Banana French Toast

This recipe can be a great way to get extra fruit or vegetables (and flavor!) into the kids.  You could use applesauce or even pureed sweet potato, pumpkin, or butternut squash (for all of these I'll add some cinnamon as well).  The kids won't even notice and it adds a nice touch of subtle flavor.

Banana French Toast

10-12 pieces of bread
1 banana, mashed
4 eggs
1 c. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt

1.  Lightly beat eggs, add all other ingredients and combine.
2.  Spray griddle with cooking spray.
3.  Dip bread in egg mixture and place on preheated griddle.  Cook a couple of minutes per side, or until nicely browned.
4.  Serve with butter and syrup or sprinkled with powdered sugar.

source: none

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Corned Beef and Cabbage

My great-great grandmother came over on the boat from Ireland when she was but a wee thing.  We've always embraced our Irish heritage and celebrate St. Patrick's Day the same way my grandparents did.  The centerpiece of the celebration is always the Corned Beef and Cabbage.
In my area there are usually three types of corned beef available: round, flat cut, and point cut.  The point cut and flat cut both come from the brisket.  The flat cut slices nice and evenly, and has the least fat.  The point cut has nice marbling which makes for a lot of good flavor. My grandmother insisted that the round is the best.  It has excellent flavor and doesn't shrink the same way the brisket does.  
I make it pretty much the same way my grandmother did with the exception being using the slow cooker.

FYI- It is "corned" beef not "corn" beef.  It has nothing to do with corn whatsoever.

Corned Beef and Cabbage

1 prepared corned beef with spice packet
8-10 small red potatoes, quartered
5 carrots, peeled and cut in 3 in. pieces (or use baby carrots)
1 head cabbage, cut into small wedges
Salt & pepper

1.  Place potatoes in slow cooker.  Salt & pepper according to taste.
2.  Place corned beef on top of potatoes.  Sprinkle with spices from spice packet (often peppercorns & bay leaf) Place carrots around the corned beef. Cover with water.
3.  Cook on low 8-10 hours or on high 5-6 hours.  Add cabbage for the last 1-2 hours.
4.  Remove corned beef and set aside to rest at least 15 minutes before slicing.  Drain vegetables.
Serve with rye or pumpernickel bread, mustard and horseradish.
photo taken with my phone, sorry it isn't better!
source:  Grandma Charlotte

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Jumbo Stuffed Shells

I adore stuffed pastas, but I don't make them very often because of the work involved.  This recipe is actually fairly easy.  The shells are much easier to stuff than a manicotti or ravioli.
I made my own sauce, and I used ricotta instead of cottage cheese this time because that's what I had on hand.  I also couldn't find my oregano & parsley (it's buried somewhere in the pantry) so I used Italian seasoning instead.
If you find you don't get enough filling, feel free to double the cheeses.

Jumbo Stuffed Shells

12 dried jumbo pasta shells  (I add a few more for my family of 6)
1 egg, beaten
1 1/2 c. small curd cottage cheese
1/2 c. shredded mozzarella
1/4 c. Parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp. parsley flakes
1/2 tsp. oregano
1 jar spaghetti sauce (or make your own)

1.  Cook shells according to directions. Drain and let dry a bit on greased foil.
2.  Stir egg, chesses, parsley and oregano together.  Stuff each shell with a spoonful of filling.
3.  Place shells in a 2qt. casserole dish, and top with spaghetti sauce.
4.  Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 15 minutes.  Remove foil, and bake another 15 minutes.  Serve.

source:  Erin P.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Marinara with Butter and Onion

I have never had the desire before to make my own pasta sauce.  I didn't see the point.  I've always been a Prego girl, and spaghetti was always a quick convenience food for me,. Fussing over a simmering sauce all day was not my idea of convenient.
I decided to try this recipe from a speckled handle because of its very simple list of ingredients and the possibility of doing it in the slow cooker.
Oh, my heavens, is it good!

I've made it several times and tried different brands of tomatoes, and I have to say that the San Marzano tomatoes are the best for this recipe.  I loved the sauce every time I made it, but the time I made it with these tomatoes (found at Whole Foods) I found myself standing and eating it with a spoon directly out of the pot.   Unfortunately, the San Marzano tomatoes were $3.99 a can. (Not exactly the most economical choice.)  That being said, I was perfectly satisfied with regular whole canned  tomatoes from my regular store and my husband said he didn't notice much of a difference and that they were good every time.  I think as I continue to make this recipe, I will keep experimenting with different tomatoes, and perhaps only pick up the San Marzanos for special occasions or when very much on sale.

Note:  For the second, smaller can of tomatoes, I used a local store brand of diced tomatoes rather than whole each time that had italian seasonings because I had several of them on hand.

Marinara with Butter and Onion

1 29 oz. can of whole tomatoes
1 15 oz. can whole tomatoes
6 Tbsp. butter
1 onion, peeled and quartered.

1. Place ingredients in slow cooker. Cover.
2.  Cook on high for about 2 hours or on low for 3-4.
Note:  I recommend removing the lid and cooking the last 1/2-1 hr. on high with the lid off to thicken the sauce a bit.  
On the stovetop:  Bring to a simmer, and cook uncovered 45 minutes.
3.  Remove onion.  Blend sauce in pot with an immersion blender or carefully ladle into a blender.
4.  Serve over pasta of your choice.  Makes enough to lightly coat 1 lb. pasta. 

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Fried Chicken

I was afraid to make my own fried chicken.  I wasn't sure if I could do it.  A few years ago, I finally made the attempt, and it turned out great!  Since then, whenever I make fried chicken I also get the urge to make buttermilk biscuits and green beans cooked in bacon and it becomes a regular southern dinner.
It's not as labor intensive as you think once you know what you are doing. In fact, aside from the chicken soaking in buttermilk, I was able to make the chicken and the biscuits from scratch in under one hour.

Fried Chicken

2 c. + 6 Tbsp. buttermilk, divided
2 Tbsp. salt
1 chicken, cut up or 8 chicken pieces
3 c. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. paprika
3/4 dried thyme
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
4-5 cups vegetable shortening or peanut oil

1.  Whisk together 2 c. buttermilk and salt in a large bowl.  Add chicken pieces and stir to coat.  Cover bowl and refrigerate 1-1/2 hrs. (Don't do it any longer or the chicken will be REALLY salty.)
2.  Whisk flour, baking powder, and spices together in a large bowl.  Add 6 Tbsp. buttermilk and stir.   Use hands to crumble together until evenly incorporated. 
3.  Two at a time, drop chicken pieces into the flour mixture, turning to coat.  Gently press flour mixture onto chicken.  Shake off excess.  Transfer to wire rack set over rimmed baking sheet.
4.  Heat oil in heavy skillet or dutch oven until it reaches 375 degrees.  Place chicken pieces, skin side down, in oil.  Cover and fry 8 to 10 minutes, checking halfway for even browning, rearranging pieces if necessary.)
5. Turn chicken and fry, uncovered, on the other side for 6-8 minutes.  (Adjust burner if necessary to try to maintain an oil temperature of 315 to avoid over-browning.)
6.  Use tongs to transfer cooked chicken to a plate lined with paper towels.  Let drain a few minutes before serving.

Note:  If you have large chicken pieces or your skillet isn't very wide, I recommend cooking the chicken in 2 batches.  If you have too many pieces in there the breading will stick together and come off when you take it out of the oil, and the chicken won't cook through as well. 

Source:  Cook's Country

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Pink Pancakes

A few years ago for Christmas, I got the Deceptively Delicious cookbook by Jessica Seinfeld.  It was such a "cute" cookbook and I really wanted to love it.  Instead, I found it sort of ho-hum.  My kids liked many of the recipes okay, but I didn't think they were especially noteworthy.  Still, I did want to sneak a few more vegetables and fruits into my kids.

I already make pumpkin pancakes, but was intrigued by the pancakes with beets in them.  So I made her Pink Pancakes, which included pureed beets, ricotta cheese, and grated apples.  The kids loved it, but the adults weren't a big fan of the texture -it was a bit creamy in the middle, no matter how well it was cooked.  She also used pancake mix, and I don't usually keep that around.
I experimented with the recipe and found that the only thing that the cheese added was bulk, calories, and an off texture.  Here is the version that I came up with, though for my family of six I have to double it.

Pink Pancakes

1 egg
1 c. flour
1/2-3/4 c. milk (depends on the amount of moisture in the beets, so start with 1/2 and add more if necessary.)
1/4 c. pureed beets*
1/4 c. grated apple
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 Tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
cooking spray or butter

*Puree the beets by draining them from the can, or chopping fresh beets.  Place in blender or food processor with a Tbsp.or two of water, and puree until smooth.

1. Preheat griddle or skillet.  Spray with cooking spray or grease with butter, if necessary.
2.  Beat egg with whisk;  Add all other ingredients;  Whisk together until smooth.
3.  Pour 1/4 cup batter onto griddle or pan;  Cook until top is bubbly and edges are dry, then turn and cook till edges are cooked.

source: Deceptively Delicious

Tortilla Soup

This is one of my go-to last-minute throw-together recipes.  I can easily make it with ingredients I usually have on-hand.  It's a great way to use up cooked, leftover chicken, and really warms the belly on a cold night. 

Tortilla Soup

2 cloves garlic
1 med. onion, chopped
1 Tbsp. olive oil
4 c. chicken broth
2 c. cooked, cut-up chicken
1 bunch cilantro
1 1/2 c. frozen (or canned) corn, thawed and drained
1 can black beans, rinsed & drained
1-2 can recipe cut diced tomatoes (I only used one.)
1/8 c. taco seasoning (1 pkg.)

jack or cheddar cheese, shredded
tortilla chips

1.  Heat oil in large pot. Saute garlic and onions in oil until soft.
2.  Add broth, tomatoes, corn, beans, taco seasoning and chicken.
3.  Simmer at a med. heat for around 20-30 min. Add cilantro and simmer a few more minutes.
4.  Serve garnished with crushed tortilla chips, cheese and cilantro.

source:  Erin P.