Friday, October 29, 2010

Italian Sausage & Red Pepper Lentil Stew


I am lovin' the lentils lately!  Even more, I am loving the conversation that lentils trigger when my son and husband repeatedly ask if lentils are beans.  I love saying, repeatedly, "No.  Lentils are legumes."  Say "legumes" with me....a fun word, huh?!  The main reason that I am loving the legume called lentils is that not only are they fabulous tasting on the day I made them, but they are fabulous leftover.  (And I typically prefer to not eat leftovers!)  So, go for it.  I think that you will be glad that you made them.

Italian Sausage and Roasted Red Pepper Lentil Stew
Serves 4, adapted from Eats Well With Others


1 lb. Italian sausage, casings removed
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
red pepper flakes, to taste
1 cup red wine
1 cup red lentils
2 cups chicken broth or water for gluten-free
1 (14 oz) can diced tomatoes
2 roasted red bell peppers, diced
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp oregano
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper, to taste
3 tbl. grated Parmesan cheese
parsley for garnish

Directions:
Cook the sausage in a large pot, breaking into crumbles with a spatula as you go.  Set aside.

Heat the oil in the same pot.  Add the onion and carrots, and saute until tender, about 10 minutes.

Add the garlic and chili pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Add the red wine and deglaze the pan.  Add the sausage, lentils, chicken broth, tomatoes, roasted red bell peppers, bay leaf, oregano, and balsamic vinegar.  Bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat, cover and simmer until the lentils are cooked, about 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Serve hot.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Crockpot Oatmeal


Awhile ago (like several years!), a friend of mine from church brought a crockpot of oatmeal to a Ladies' Brunch that I hosted at my house.  Now, I am a sucker for breakfast casseroles, so I admired her oatmeal from a distance.  I don't typically prefer sweets in the morning, even though I am an oatmeal fan.  Anyway, I chose several things from the plethora of savory treats laid out on the buffet.  However, her oatmeal intrigued me and she kindly shared the recipe with me.  This was my introduction to steel cut oats.  So, yesterday, after a trip to a quaint local bulk store, I brought home a package of steel cut oats and determined that I would put together the recipe in the crockpot for breakfast.  Her recipe told me to add the oats and the water according to the package directions, but since I bought a bulk package, alas, no directions!  So, I googled (there's a big surprise!), and found this recipe on a blog that I have heard a lot about.  I will include the stovetop procedure (which I didn't use) as well as my crockpot method.

This was yummy, so simple, and adaptable to any sort of taste preference.  The steel cut oats are the key ingredient.

Crockpot Oatmeal
Source: Two Peas and their Pod, and my friend

1 cup steel cut oats
3 1/2 cups water
pinch of salt
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
several dashes of cinnamon,
a handful of raisins, or whatever toppings you like
a chopped apple, peeled

Crockpot Directions:
Place all ingredients in the crockpot and stir to combine.  Cook on low overnight (I did mine for about 8 hours).  In the morning, add a splash of milk to thin it out and top with brown sugar and any additional toppings, such as more raisins, nuts, craisins, etc.

Simple.

Stovetop Directions:
Bring the water to a boil in a large pot. Add the steel cut oats and and salt.  Stir.

Reduce the heat to medium low and cook for 30 minutes. Make sure you stir the oats occasionally so they don’t stick to the pan.

When the oats start to thicken, at about 30 minutes, add in the milk and vanilla.  I think the milk makes the oats creamier. Stir the oats,  milk, and vanilla together and cook for ten more minutes.

Add in the cinnamon and raisins or whatever toppings you wish.

Serve the oats hot.  To reheat, add a splash of milk and reheat in the microwave for 1-2 minutes.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Mixed Greens with Chicken and White Balsamic Apple Vinaigrette


I had the opportunity to delight in this salad this summer while out shopping with a girlfriend.  I raved about it to her.  I went home and raved about it to my husband.  When I returned to the restaurant later in the summer with a girlfriend from out of state, I raved about it to her.  I got the bold idea to ask the restaurant manager if there was any possible way to obtain the recipe, somehow.   He was kind enough to make me a copy of the ingredient list.  So I was faced with the challenge of re-creating it.  Not sure I could do it.  It called for white balsamic vinegar, which I had never heard of before.  As luck would have it, I accidentally saw it on the shelf at Trader Joe's during a recent shopping trip with the girls (are you getting the shopping theme here??!)  So, one obstacle overcome.  :)  When I was finally ready to attempt this salad and the vinaigrette, I decided first to google it and see if there were any helps I could add to my ingredient list.  Well, wouldn't you know.  First link, there was the recipe!  Score!  I just love how Google enables my laziness!!  I had to make a couple of tweaks, as I didn't have apple juice concentrate or cider available, and next time I will use a lighter oil than EVOO...the olive oil taste was pretty dominant.  A light olive oil next time, perhaps?

Anyway, YUM.  And much cheaper to make than to buy at the restaurant.... 

 Mixed Greens with Chicken and White Balsamic Apple Vinaigrette
Adapted from Suite 101

6 cups mixed field greens (such as arugula, radicchio, curly endive, etc.)
1-1/2 cup cooked, shredded rotisserie chicken breast
1/3 cup blue cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted
1 Granny Smith apple, cored and thinly sliced


For Apple White Balsamic Vinaigrette:
1 Granny Smith apple, cored, peeled, and finely chopped
2 Tbsp. apple juice concentrate
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. white balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. sour cream
1 tbl. unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup light olive oil (or any light salad oil)

Directions:
Toss mixed greens, rotisserie chicken, blue cheese, pecans and apple slices together in a large salad bowl.

Whisk together vinaigrette ingredients and pour over salad. Serve immediately.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Spanakopita


"Spana-what?" was one response I received on my Facebook page.  Spanakopita.  Greek.  Phyllo dough, spinach, feta cheese....all wrapped up in individual strudels.  Perfect for dinner.  Perfect for kids.  Although, you should have seen my 1-year-old's face as he held a flaky spanakopita in his little hand....he looked at me for verification that yes, I did just hand him something edible.  After the first bite, he looked at me as if I was the flake.  But he ate it.  Even my sugar princess ate it.  This is not the first time I have made spanakopita, but this time, they turned out beautiful and tasted just as pretty (if that is possible!).  A hint for you, especially if it is your first time working with phyllo dough--it is pretty sensitive.  It is so thin, and will dry out so quickly, so be sure to keep it covered while you are working on building the layers.  Also, you will need more butter than the recipe lists.  Phyllo dough is madly in love with butter.

Have fun!  Enjoy!  Leave a comment, telling me how it went and what you thought!

Spanakopita
Adapted from Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics by Ina Garten

2 tbl. cup olive oil
1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
1 (10-oz.) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, and drained all all liquid
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 tbl. Parmesan cheese
1 tbl. plain bread crumbs
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 cup feta cheese, crumbled
12 sheets frozen phyllo dough, thawed
1 stick unsalted butter, melted (You might need more than this.)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Heat olive oil in medium pan and add the onion.  Cook on medium-low heat until onions are tender and soft, about 5 minutes.  Meanwhile, squeeze the liquid out of the spinach (wrapping it in a paper towel and squeezing works perfectly!).  Transfer spinach to a large bowl.

Add cooked onions to spinach, and mix in the eggs, Parmesan cheese, bread crumbs, nutmeg, salt, and pepper.  Gently fold in the feta cheese.

Place one sheet of phyllo dough on flat work surface with the long end in front of you.  Brush the dough lightly with melted butter.  Working quickly, slide another sheet of phyllo dough on top of the first, and brush it with butter.  Repeat two more times, for a total of 4 layers of phyllo dough.  Cut the sheets of phyllo in half lengthwise.  Place a couple tablespoons of spinach filling on the shorter end and roll the phyllo up diagonally as if folding a flag.  Then fold the triangle of phyllo over straight and then diagonally again.  Continue folding first diagonally, then straight, until you reach the end of the sheet.  The filling should be totally enclosed.  Continue assembling phyllo layers and folding the filling until all the filling is used.  Place each strudel on a baking sheet, seam sides down.  Brush with melted butter, and sprinkle with kosher salt. 

Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the phyllo is browned and crisp.  Serve hot.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Oatmeal Cream Pies


I rarely eat junky snack food, and never buy premade cookies or baked goods.  However, sometimes I get the urge for a Little Debbie oatmeal cream pie.  To me, there is just something special about that flavor and texture combination.  After I made Snickerdoodle cupcakes, I had a ton of marshmallow meringue frosting left over.  Licking my dipped finger, I was reminded of the fluffy, creamy, lightness of the filling of oatmeal cream pies, and I decided right then and there that I would make my own!  Voila!  Perfect!  Perfect chewy oatmeal cookie, not too heavy and dense.  The marshmallow meringue was perfect sandwiched in between the cookies. 

Oatmeal Cream Pies
Cookie Source: Diane Steury, a friend (adapted)
Marshmallow Meringue: here

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/4 cup flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup milk
2 cups quick oats

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Beat butter and both sugars together; add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition; add vanilla.  In separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.  Add flour mixture to butter mixture in two batches, alternating with the milk.  Add the oatmeal and mix well.

Drop by rounded teaspoons (I used a regular spoon) onto ungreased cookie sheet 2-inches apart.  Bake for 10-12 minutes or until lightly brown.  Let cookies cool most of the way before removing them from the baking sheets (this lets them finish baking and harden a bit so they don't crumble when you remove them from the sheet).

To make cream pies, match up like-sized cookies to form pairs.  Turn one cookie over, and gently squeeze marshmallow meringue onto bottom side of cookie (I filled a large zip bag with the frosting and cut the bottom corner off to form a tip).  Top with its pair.  Repeat with remaining cookie pairs.  You should now have about 2 dozen oatmeal cream pies!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Snickerdoodle Cupcakes with Marshmallow Meringue Frosting


Some of you may remember my obsession with snickerdoodles a year ago, during the last trimester of my final pregnancy.  If not, let me just assure you that "obsession" is not an overstatement.  I'm talking at least a batch a week, sometimes 2.  Obsession.  My kind Facebook friends were sharing with me links for snickerdoodle scones, for snickerdoodle biscotti, snickerdoodle soup (ok, not really that one....but you get the "obsession" part, right?).  In the interest of personal snickerdoodle recovery, I have cut back my cinnamon-sugar intake significantly.....until now.  Snickerdoodle cupcakes.  Are you kidding me??!  Kill me now.

When all was said and done and baked and frosted and shared (yes, I do share!), they lasted all of 24 hours in my house.  Fortunately for me, I have a lot of the frosting left over....so stay tuned for my creative use of the remainder.


Snickerdoodle Cupcakes with Marshmallow Meringue Frosting
Source: Martha Stewart

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups cake flour (not self- rising), sifted
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon, plus 1/2 teaspoon for dusting
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 3/4 cups sugar, plus 2 tablespoons for dusting
4 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups milk

Directions:  

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Sift together both flours, baking powder, salt, and 1 tablespoon cinnamon.

With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of milk, and beating until combined after each. 
Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes. 
Cupcakes can be stored up to 2 days at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers.  
To finish, combine remaining 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 2 tablespoons sugar. Using a pastry bag fitted with a large plain tip (Ateco No. 809 or Wilton No. 1A), pipe frosting on each cupcake: Hold bag over cupcake with tip just above top, and squeeze to create a dome of frosting, then release pressure and pull up to form a peak. Using a small, fine sieve, dust peaks with cinnamon-sugar. Cupcakes are best eaten the day they are frosted; keep at room temperature until ready to serve.

For Frosting (also called "7 Minute Frosting"--I thought "Marshmallow Meringue" sounded more intriguing!)
1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2/3 cup water
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
6 large egg whites, room temperature

Directions:
Combine 1 1/2 cups sugar with the water and corn syrup in a small saucepan; clip a candy thermometer to side of pan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves. Continue boiling, without stirring, until syrup reaches 230 degrees.

Meanwhile, in the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk egg whites on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. With mixer running, add remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, beating to combine.

As soon as sugar syrup reaches 230 degrees, remove from heat. With mixer on medium-low speed, pour syrup down side of bowl in a slow, steady stream. Raise speed to medium-high; whisk until mixture is completely cool (test by touching the bottom of the bowl) and stiff (but not dry) peaks form, about 7 minutes. Use immediately.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Greek Turkey Burgers


I personally think that a good gyro is hard to beat.  But, on a weeknight, when I'm pressed for time, and I need to satisfy a Greek craving, these turkey burgers are hard to beat.  They come together so quickly and when paired with homemade pita bread, they hit the spot!


Greek Turkey Burgers
Source:  Main Dishes from The Pampered Chef

1/4 cup + 2 tbl. onion, finely chopped, divided
1 pound lean ground turkey
1 container (8 oz.) plain yogurt, divided
1/4 cup plain dry bread crumbs
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1 tsp. dried oregano leaves, divided
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. black pepper
2 medium tomatoes, sliced
1/2 cucumber, thinly sliced
6 pita rounds
6 lettuce leaves

Directions:
For burgers, combine 1/4 cup chopped onion, ground turkey, 1/4 cup of yogurt, bread crumbs, egg, garlic, 3/4 tsp. oregano, salt and pepper; mix lightly with a fork.

For sauce, stir remaining 2 tbl. onion, and 1/4 tsp. oregano into the remaining yogurt; set aside.

Form turkey mixture into 6 oval patties (1/3 cup each).  Lightly drizzle olive oil into a large skillet and heat over medium heat until hot.  Cook patties 10-12 minutes or until meat is no longer pink in center, turning once.

To assemble, cut open pita bread to reveal the pocket.  Fill each pita with a turkey burger, lettuce, tomato slices, cucumber slices, and top with reserved yogurt sauce.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Pumpkin Pie Bars


What is it about pumpkin that says "fall" like few other flavors?  And why is it that pumpkin in July does NOT taste as good as pumpkin in October?  Well, whatever the reason, it's pumpkin season!  Let's celebrate with these pumpkin pie bars (fork is optional).  Rock on, Pumpkins!
Pumpkin Pie Bars
Source:  Joy the Baker

1-1/3 cups flour
3/4 cup  granulated sugar, divided
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup  (1-1/2 sticks) cold butter or margarine
1 cup old-fashioned or quick-cooking oats, uncooked
1/2 cup  chopped walnuts
1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
3   eggs
1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin (or 2 cups homemade pumpkin puree)
1 Tbsp.  pumpkin pie spice (or 1 tsp. each of cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
a handful of butterscotch, cinnamon, or white, chocolate chips for sprinkling on top (optional)
Directions:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 13×9-inch pan with foil, with ends of foil extending over sides; grease foil.

Mix flour, 1/4 granulated sugar and brown sugar in medium bowl; cut in butter with pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in oats and nuts.Reserve 1 cup oat mixture; press remaining onto bottom of prepared pan. Bake 15 min.
For filling, beat cream cheese, remaining 1/2 cup sugar, eggs, vanilla, pumpkin, and spice mixture with mixer until well blended. Pour over crust; sprinkle with reserved crumb mixture and a handful of butterscotch, cinnamon, or white chocolate chips (if desired).

Bake 25 min.; transfer to wire cooling rack and cool 10 min. Use foil to transfer dessert from pan to wire rack; cool completely.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Pumpkin Butter


This post is almost more about the photography than the food.  Almost.  I am having fun playing around and learning this camera....thanks for your gracious learning curve!  Pumpkin butter was introduced to me during college when I worked at a local coffee shop that doubled as a bakery .  Yum.  Pumpkin butter isn't as sweet and light as apple butter, so I find that one batch satisfies the need for an autumn season.  As a side note, these honey yeast rolls turned out ah-mazing...I dare you to try this combination!  Let me know how you like it!

Pumpkin Butter
Adapted from Allrecipes (Eleanor Johnson)

1 1/4 cup pumpkin puree (or 1 15-oz can)
1/2 cup apple juice or cider (add more liquid if you need to thin out your butter)
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
6 tbl. granulated sugar

Directions:
Combine pumpkin puree, juice/cider, spices, and sugar in a large saucepan; stir well.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes or until thickened.  Stir frequently.

Transfer to a sterile jar or container and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Homemade Pumpkin Puree


I've been hearing rumors of a pumpkin shortage in the grocery stores....here in October, in the Midwest, this is basically the same thing as a national emergency.  (You know I'm right!)  True to my nature, I think that homemade pumpkin puree is the way to go...better than canned.  But then, again, I love to make my own stuff from scratch.  Should you be able to track down some pumpkin, I have zero problem with that.  However, should you want to make your own pumpkin puree, the process is simple!  It is worth trying once, and you might surprise yourself and never go back to canned!

Homemade Pumpkin Puree

2-3 pie pumpkins (the small ones in the produce department)
  *that's it!  :)

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

1. Cut the tops off of the pumpkins.  Cut in half.  Scoop the seeds out and discard.  Place each half face-down on a rimmed baking sheet.  When baking sheet is full, pour some water into the pan to cover the bottom.  This will keep the pumpkins from burning.

2.  Bake for 45-60 minutes, until pumpkin pulp is fork-tender and outsides of pumpkins are a deep orange.  Remove from oven and cool slightly.  Turn each half over, so that it doesn't absorb the water.

3.  With a spoon, scoop the pumpkin pulp out of the shell.  Transfer to blender (do small amounts) or a food processor and blend/process to a puree.

4.  For the best puree, line a large colander with a double layer of cheesecloth and place over a large bowl.  Pour puree into the cheesecloth and let drain for about 30 minutes.  Discard pumpkin liquid.  Refrigerate or freeze puree until ready to use.

(I think my 3 pumpkins yielded about 6 cups.  I didn't measure, so this is a guess.)

Now, for the pictures....they are in the order of the process listed above.









 Enjoy!  Leave a comment below--I would love to know how this turned out for you!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Caramel Apple Dumplings


 Does anything say "autumn" more than freshly baked apple dumplings?  I mean, besides caramel corn, or pumpkin pie, or apple pie, or...well, I'm sure you get the idea.  I thought it would be fun to spin a twist on a basic apple dumpling....add caramel!  Using brown sugar instead of white achieves this taste.  I would suggest making a double batch, because you are going to want to enjoy these for more than just one sitting.

Caramel Apple Dumplings
Source:  Me, from here and there

1 recipe All-Butter pastry dough, divided into 9 sections
9 apples, cored and peeled (choose your favorite variety!)
1/2 cup cinnamon-sugar mixture
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 cup water
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 cup butter

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Core and peel apples, leaving them whole.  Roll each apple in cinnamon-sugar mixture.

Combine brown sugar, water, heavy cream, cinnamon, cloves, and butter in a medium saucepan and heat over medium-high heat.  Bring to a very low boil for a couple of minutes.  Off heat and set aside.

Divide pastry dough into 9 sections.  Roll each one out into a 6-inch circle.  Place cinnamon-sugar apple in the center of rolled dough.  Gather the sides of the dough up over the apple and twist lightly to seal.  Repeat with remaining apples.

Place dumplings in a 9x13 casserole/baking dish.   Pour sauce over the top of the dumplings, letting it pool at the bottom.  Bake for 40 minutes, or until golden brown.  Cool slightly before serving.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Potato Soup with Roasted Garlic


Fall is the season for soup!  Love it!  There is nothing like a crisp, cool day and a pot of soup on the stovetop, simmering away, waiting anxiously for dinner.  It seems like each time I make potato soup, it turns out differently--sometimes I like it, sometimes I don't.  The great thing about trial and error is that you get to evaluate what you like and don't like.  I've determined that I like more of a potato chowder rather than a thin soup.  I like to have hearty chunks of potatoes, rather than a smooth puree.  I like mine to taste like potatoes and not a bunch of other flavors or seasonings.  So, I share with you my latest (and most favorite, of course!) version.  You can cut some of the prep work out by doing the garlic and the bacon on different days and storing them in the fridge until you're ready.

This also uses a lot of potatoes (refer back to the sentence about me liking thick, potato-tasting potato soup!), but you can halve this or even freeze the leftovers.


Potato Soup with Roasted Garlic
Source: A Karla Original

For the garlic:
1 whole head of garlic
olive oil
salt and pepper

Cut the top of the garlic head off, exposing the cloves.  Place on a sheet of foil.  Drizzle olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Wrap tightly and place on a baking sheet.  Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 45-60 minutes, until garlic cloves are tender.  Cool and then squeeze cloves out into a small bowl.  Refrigerate until ready to use.

Soup:
5 pounds potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 large onion, diced
1 carrot, chopped
olive oil
roasted garlic cloves, smashed
3 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves separated from stems
1/2 cup white wine
2 cups chicken broth or water for gluten-free
2 1/2 cups milk or half-n-half
1 tbl. parsley
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/8 tsp. red cayenne pepper
1/4 cup sour cream
5 strips of cooked bacon, chopped

Directions:
In a large stockpot, cover potatoes with water and bring to a boil.  Cook until fork tender, about 30-45 minutes.  Drain. Reserve some of the potatoes in a small mixing bowl and mash.  Set potatoes aside.

In another large stockpot, add olive oil, onions, carrots, smashed roasted garlic, and thyme.  Saute over medium-high heat until veggies are tender.  Delgaze pan with white wine and reduce until barely any liquid remains.  Season with salt.  Add chicken broth, potatoes, mashed potatoes, and milk.  Stir to incorporate all ingredients.  Add onion powder and cayenne pepper.  Taste and adjust salt and pepper.  Add the chopped bacon, parsely, and sour cream, and stir to mix.

To serve, top with cheddar cheese and additional sour cream if desired.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Zucchini Pound Cake with Cinnamon-Sugar Crust


As all good things go, they must naturally come to an end.  What I am talking about specifically is this:  Goodbye, Kodak Easy Share camera (aka, my "crap camera").  My Kodak was my introduction to the world of digital cameras about 8 years ago, when we were anticipating the birth of our first baby.  It has served me decently over the years, though I have often hated it more than I loved it for various reasons.  The intensity of my negative feelings toward it grew when I started this blog and began to notice the amazing details in food photography.  Of course, my camera did not give me amazing details.  To my husband's ears, I have poured my laments and distresses over this crap camera.  Not fast enough.  Can't get good details.  Too slow.  Et cetera.  Et cetera.  Finally, he told me just to go--go and get what I needed.   So, the ownership of the Kodak transfers to a certain very excited 7-year-old who lives in my house....if that blasted thing didn't need charged every night, Bennett would totally sleep with that camera!  (Truly, the battery has enough juice in it for about a dozen pictures, then it craps out).  Will you join me in welcoming my new Nikon D3000 to this blog?  After only a couple of days, I am loving this camera already, and am looking forward to growing in knowledge of how it works and in some more skill in food photography.

So, a toast to the Nikon....and a yummy zucchini pound cake recipe to you!  Cheers!


Zucchini Pound Cake with Cinnamon-Sugar Crust
Source:  Sophisitmom

for the crust:
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

for the cake:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 teaspoons cinnamon
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
3 eggs
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup sour cream
2 cups finely grated zucchini (I used my food processor with the grating disc)

for the glaze:
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Mix together cinnamon and sugar for the crust. Butter 6 mini loaf pans and sprinkle with the cinnamon and sugar mixture, just as you would flour a pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the sugars and butter. Add in eggs, one at a time, incorporating well after each addition. Stir in vanilla, sour cream and zucchini.

Fold dry ingredients into the zucchini mixture, and divide evenly among pans. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cakes cool in pans for about 10 minutes, then tip on their sides to let cool completely. Carefully remove from pans.

Mix together confectioner’s sugar, cream, and vanilla, and whisk until smooth. Add more liquid as necessary to make a smooth, runny glaze. Pour over cakes.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Roasted Cauliflower with Garlic Vinaigrette


What a delightful side dish!!  I love roasting vegetables in the oven, and cauliflower was a nice change. Truly, as with broccoli, roasting cauliflower brings out the nuttiness of the vegetable.  El Hub and I ate the entire portion of it, so next time I make this for the whole family, I will have to buy two heads of cauliflower.

Roasted Cauliflower with Garlic Vinaigrette
Adapted from Gourmet, September 2009

1 head cauliflower
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
salt and pepper
1 small garlic clove
1-2 tbl. lemon juice

Directions:
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Cut cauliflower int 3/4-in. thick slices.  Put in a large rimmed baking sheet and drizzle 2 tbl. olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper.  Roast, turning once or twice, until golden and just tender, about 25 minutes.

For vinaigrette, mince and mash garlic to a paste with a pinch of salt, then whisk together with lemon juice and remaining 2 tbl. olive oil.  Drizzle over cauliflower and serve.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Pear Butterscotch Pie


And so continues my love affair with pie.....

I tend to think of pears as fall fruit, since that is when they are picked off of my dad's tree.  This pie, from the looks of the recipe, had the very real potential of being too sweet.  However, it was perfect.  The crust was tender, and the filling filled the crust sufficiently.  It was perfectly satisfying.


Pear Butterscotch Pie
Source: Gourmet, September 2009

3 tbl. flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 1/2 pounds firm-ripe Barlett of Anjou pears (about 5), peeled, cored, and cut into 6 wedges
1 tbl. lemon juice
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 recipe of All-Butter Pastry Dough
1 tbl. unsalted butter, cut into bits
1 egg, beaten with 1 tbl. warm water
1 tbl. granulated sugar

Directions:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Place a rimmed baking sheet in the oven on middle or bottom rack.

Whisk together flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt, then whisk in brown sugar, breaking up any lumps.  Gently toss pears with brown sugar mixture, lemon juice, and vanilla and let stand 5-15 minutes to macerate fruit.

Roll out one piece of dough on a lightly floured surface iwth a lightly floured rolling pin into a 13-in. round.  Fit into a 9-in. pie plate.  Roll out remaining piece of dough in a 13-in. round.

Transfer pear filling to shell.  Dot with butter, then cover with pastry round.  Trim edges, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang.  Press edges together to seal, then fold under.  Flute the edges.  Lightly brush top crust with some of the egg wash, then cut 3 (1-inch long) vents in the center.  Sprinkle with granulated sugar.

(You can use remaining scraps to make decorative cut-outs to place on top of your pie).

Bake pie on hot baking sheet 20 minutes with a pie shield around the rim.  Reduce oven heat to 375 degrees, remove shield, and bake until crust is golden and filling is bubbling, 40-45 minutes more.  Cool to warm  or room temperature, 2-3 hours.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

All-Butter Pastry Dough

I found a new pie crust recipe and wanted to share it with you.  I don't have a picture, but this dough is so simple to make and yields a nice, soft, tender crust.

All-Butter Pastry Dough
Source:  Gourmet, September 2009

1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 stick cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-in. cubes
1/4 tsp. salt
3 - 5 tbl. ice water

Directions:
Blend together flour, butter, and salt in a bowl with your fingertips or a pastry blender (I used my food processor) just until most of the mixture resembles coarse meal with some roughly pea-sized butter lumps.

Drizzle 3 tbl. ice water evenly over mixture and gently stir with a fork (or pulse) until incorporated.

Squeeze a small handful; if it doesn't hold together, add more ice water, 1/2 tbl. at a time, stirring (or pulsing) until incorporated, then test again.  Do NOT overwork dough or pastry will be tough.

Turn out dough onto lightly floured surface and divide the dough into 2 portions.  With the heel of your hand, smear each portion once or twice in a forward motion to help distribute fat.  Gather dough together, with a pastry scraper if you have one, and press into a ball, then flatten into a 5-inch disc.  Chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, until firm, at least 1 hour.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Cincinnati Chili


I love the combination of these flavors....it's not spaghetti, it's not chili, it's not spicy, it's not sweet....it's just perfect.  I love the way that the aroma of this changes the longer it cooks.  When it has simmered for a few hours, you will then know what Cincinnati Chili is supposed to smell like....any other smell is a fraud.  I am thankful to my friend for sharing her recipe with me.


Cincinnati Chili
Source: my friend Melanie

1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
1 (29 oz. can) tomato sauce
1 (14 oz. can) diced tomatoes
Small onion, diced
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 Tablespoon chili powder
1 Tablespoon white vinegar
2cloves garlic, minced 
3 bay leaves  
1 can red kidney beans 
1 pound spaghetti, cooked according to package directions, 
1 medium onion, diced 
cheddar cheese
Directions:
Brown meat and add onions and garlic when almost brown. Cook until onions are clear. Add the rest of the ingredients. Cook slowly, 3-5 hours, covered. Remove bay leaves before serving. 
Serve on a bed of spaghetti noodles or on hot dogs. Top with plenty of grated cheddar cheese and freshly diced onions if desired.  ENJOY! 
*Sorry about the formatting of the recipe....Blogger can be soooo stubborn sometimes.  I couldn't get it changed....

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Chicken Cacciatore Subs


I don't know about you, but every once in awhile I will get a craving for a good sandwich.  It doesn't happen often--both that I crave a sandwich or get a good one.  But...this one is both.  I love the fact that this one is chock-full of good veggies and chicken and is very low on the "unhealthy" part of sandwiches which usually make them good.  These subs are perfect for a casual family movie night or quick to pull together after an afternoon at the park.  I served them with oven-roasted sweet potato fries.  Yum.


Chicken Cacciatore Subs
Source: Rachael Ray

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
olive oil
salt and pepper
4 sub rolls, split
2 cloves garlic, cracked away from skin
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
4 oz. fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 green bell pepper, seeded and sliced
1 large onion, sliced
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 cup dry red wine (or chicken stock)
1 can diced tomatoes
2 tbl. fresh parsley, chopped
1/3 pound sliced provolone cheese


Directions:
Heat grill pan or large skillet.  Drizzle chicken with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Cook six minutes on each side, until browned and no longer pink on the inside.  Remove to a warm plate and cover.

Heat broiler, lighly toast rolls on cookie sheet and remove.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add olive oil, garlic, crushed red pepper flakses, mushrooms, peppers, onions, and oregano.  Saute veggies and season with salt and pepper.  Cook five minutes, then deglaze the pan with wine or stock.  Pick up tasty bits off the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon or heat-safe spatuala.  Add tomatoes and parsley. 

Slice chicken breasts on the angle and add to the veggie pan.  Pile chicken and veggies onto the sub rolls, top with sliced provolone, and melt cheese under hot broiler. 

Monday, October 4, 2010

Buffalo Chicken Chili Mac


Do you want a flavorful and quick meal that everyone will love?  You've come to the right blog.  This recipe has been sitting in my binder for almost 2 years, and this is the first time I've made it.  However, let me assure you, it won't be the last!  The kids loved this!  Now, we can all agree that nothing takes the place of good saucy buffalo wings, but this is a great twist on those delicious little wing dingers!  I adjusted the heat level to accommodate tender tongues, but we all agreed in the end to make it with more hot sauce and pepper jack cheese (see, it's good to know that you can cut the heat back a bit, eh?!  Just decrease the amount of hot sauce and use monterey jack cheese instead!)

Buffalo Chicken Chili Mac
Source:  Rachael Ray

2 tbl. olive oil
2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 4-6), cut into small chunks
2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
1 large onion, chopped
3 ribs celery, finely chopped
5 large garlic cloves, minced
1 tbl. paprika
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup hot sauce
1 15-oz. can of diced tomatoes
1 pound whole wheat or regular macaroni noodles
1/2 cup pepper jack cheese
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese

Directions:
Trim chicken of excess fat and dice into small chunks.  Place a large pot over medium heat and add olive oil.  Add the chicken and cook until browned.  Add the carrot, onion, celery, garlic, paprika, bay leaf, and salt and pepper.  Cook the veggies, stirring frequently, until tender, 3-4 minutes.  Add the chicken stock and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot.  Add the hot sauce and diced tomatoes (undrained), and bring up to a bubble.  Simmer the chili for 8-10 minutes to let the flavors blend.

While the chili is simmering, toss the pasta in a pot of boiling salted water and cook until al dente, according to the package directions.  Once cooked, drain and toss it into the chili.  Mix to combine, then transfer everything to a large casserole dish.  Sprinkle the cheeses evenly over the top and place it under the broiler until the cheeses have melted and the top is golden brown, 2-3 minutes.