Sunday, February 28, 2010

Spicy Sweet Potatoes

These were fabulous. These are a great simple side dish.
Spicy Sweet Potatoes

From: Taste of Home, October/November 2001

3 lg. sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1" chunks
2 Tbs. olive oil
2 Tbs. brown sugar
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large resealable plastic bag, toss sweet potatoes and oil. Add remaining ingredients; toss to coat. Transfer to a greased 9 x 13 pan. Bake uncovered for 40-45 minutes or until potatoes are tender, stirring every 15 minutes.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Spicy Gingerbread Dough

These don't look super fantastic and cutesy because I made this primarily for the kids to decorate. They did turn out perfect for making the houses. My boys were thrilled. Be warned, this does take a fair amount of time. Don't plan on making it all in one day.
Spicy Gingerbread Dough

From: Sugar and Spice

2 1/2 cups packed dark brown sugar
1 1/2 cups heavy cream or whipping cream (you can add a few extra Tbs. if you have a hard time getting the dough to come together.)
1 1/4 cups molasses
9 1/2 cups flour
2 Tbs. baking soda
1 Tbs. ground ginger

In a very large bowl, with a wire whisk or electric mixer, beat brown sugar, cream, and molasses until sugar lumps dissolve and mixture is smooth. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and ginger. With spoon, stir flour mixture into cream mixture in 3 additions until the dough is too stiff to stir, then knead with hands until flour is incorporated and dough is smooth.

Divide the dough into 4 equat portions; flatten each into a disk to speed chilling. Wrap each disk well with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight, until dough is firm enough to roll.

Grease and flour large cookie sheets.

Roll out dough, one disk at a time on each cookie sheet(I found this impossible and just did it on my counter top) to about 3/16th" thickness. (It was suggested that you used 3/16th" dowel rods or a ruler to help make sure that you get it to an even thickness. I just eyeballed it.)

Trim excess dough from cookie sheet; wrap and reserve in fridge. Chill rolled dough on cookie sheet in refrigerator or freezer at least 10 minutes or until firm enough to cut easily. (Because I rolled mine on my counter, I just cut it out and moved it to the cookie sheets)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Use chilled rolled dough, floured poster board patterns and a sharp paring knife to cut all house pieces on cookie sheet making sure to leave at least a 1 1/4" between pieces as dough will expand slightly during cooking. (I just used computer paper for my pattern and a cake spatula to cut the dough) Wrap and reserve trimmings in the fridge. Combine and use trimmings for decorative pieces or whatever you want.

Chill for 10 minutes before baking if the dough seems really soft after the cut it. This will discourage too much spreading while baking.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, until pieces are firm to the touch. Do not over bake or pieces will be too crisp to trim if necessary.

Remove cookie sheet from oven. While pieces are still warm, place poster-board patterns on top and use them as guides to trim shapes to match if necessary. Cool pieces completely before attempting to assemble the house. Use royal icing to assemble.

Royal Icing

1 large egg white
3 cups powdered sugar (I only needed about 2 cups)
1 tsp. white vinegar
1 tsp. almond extract

Beat all ingredients together until smooth, adding the powdered sugar gradually to get the desired consistency. Pipe frosting onto pieces and assemble. Cover the portion of frosting not currently in use with a damp towel to prevent it from setting up.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Product Review: Herb Mincer

I've been wanting an herb mincer for a little while. Knowing this, when my husband saw one on clearance he picked it up for me. You can all go oooh and awww now. I was so excited to try it out. So the next time my recipe called for some fresh basil, I whipped that baby out and went to it. I was saddened by the pathetic performance. It mostly just mangled the basil. There were little lines where it should have cut it. I thought perhaps it was not truly meant for basil so I tried it on parsley and cilantro, etc. All returned the same results. Moral of the story, save your money, even if it is on clearance.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Meatball Subs

Meatball Subs

From: Sugar and Spice

For Meatballs:

1/2 lb. ground beef
1 tbs. garlic, chopped
1/2 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs or panko bread crumbs
2 Tbs. parsley leaves, finely chopped
2 Tbs. grated parmesan
1 egg
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbs. canola oil
1 cup tomato sauce, jarred or homemade, recipe below (definitely must make the homemade sauce. It really is not optional)

Chunky Tomato Sauce:

2 Tbs. olive oil
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 Tbs. garlic, chopped
1 (28 oz.) can diced tomatoes
2 Tbs. fresh basil leaves, chopped
2 Tbs.fresh parsley, chopped
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

For meatballs, in a large bowl mix together all ingredients, except the canola oil, tomato sauce and mozzarella, until well combined. using wet hands, form walnut sized pieces into balls. Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat and fry the meatballs until browned on all sides. (I made my meatballs a tiny bit bigger than walnut sized. Also, I never fry my meatballs. I always bake them. It is so much easier and healthier. Just line a cookie sheet with foil and place the meatballs on the cookie sheet just so that they aren't touching. Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes.)

Slice the rolls in half lengthwise and put on a baking sheet. Top each half with 1/4 cup of the tomato sauce, 4 meatballs and some mozzarella. (As you can see in the picture, I didn't put a ton of sauce on mine to start thinking it would be super messy. I added more later.) Put in the oven and bake for 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted. (I just popped mine into my toaster oven.) Transfer to a serving platter and serve.

For Sauce, in a medium pot, add the oil and heat over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and saute for 3 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer for another 15 minutes.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Chicken Bacon Stuffed Pizza Rolls

Wow, these were so yummy. I was one happy momma this night. The bacon totally made it!Chicken Bacon Stuffed Pizza Rolls

1 roll refrigerated pizza dough, or make your own (which I did)
1 packet dry ranch dressing mix
2 Tbs. grated Parmesan cheese
1 Tbs. olive oil or melted butter
sharp cheddar cheese, or whatever you prefer
8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 cup chicken, cooked and shredded
3/4 cup mayo
3/4 cup milk

First take 1 tsp. of the ranch dressing mix and combine it with 1 1/2 Tbs. parmesan cheese. Set aside. Combine the remaining ranch mix with 3/4 cup mayo (I subbed in plain yogurt for some of the mayo) and 3/4 cup milk and place in the fridge to chill.

Preheat oven to heat specified on dough package, usually between 400-425 degrees.

Unroll you pizza dough onto a lightly floured surface. Pat or roll the dough so its about 12" x 8". Cut it into 24 even squares. Place cheese and desired toppings on each square. When all of your dough squares have cheese and toppings on, carefully lift up each square and wrap the dough around the toppings. You can just grab the four corners and squeeze the seams shut and then place them seam side down on a greased baking sheet. Brush them with the olive oil or melted butter and sprinkle with the parmesan ranch mixture. (I was way too lazy to do this, so I just rolled the dough out and placed it on my greased cookie sheet. I added all of the toppings and then folded the dough over top and crimped it kind of like a calzone. I topped it as directed and just sliced it up after baking.)

Place your rolls in the oven. Bake 10-20 minutes depending on your dough. Take them out when they are lightly golden on top.

Serve them warm with a side of the freshly made ranch dressing for dipping.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Poppin Garlic Ranch Biscuit Topped Chicken Pot Pie

I'm not typically a huge fan of chicken pot pies. This however was so yummy. It had the perfect feel for these colder months.Poppin' Garlic Ranch Biscuit Topped Chicken Pot Pie

From: Picky Palate

4 lg. chicken breast, cooked and shredded (I think I only used 2 large breasts because I'm cheap)
1 packet dry ranch dressing mix, reserve 1/2 tsp.
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 (10 oz.) cans cream of chicken soup
1 (10 oz.) can cheddar cheese soup
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup milk
2 (15 oz.) cans mixed veggies, drained
3/4 cup bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
1 (6 count) can of home style biscuits (next time I'll use more, I really liked this part)
1/2 tsp. garlic salt (the kind with the parsley in it)
hot sauce, to top if desired

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place shredded chicken into a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle with the ranch dressing mix, making sure to reserve 1/2 tsp. for later, salt and pepper. Toss to combine seasonings.

In a large rimmed skillet or dutch oven, place soups, broth and milk over medium heat; whisk until combined. Stir in mixed veggies then shredded chicken. Transfer to a large 9x13" baking dish that is coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle bacon and 1 cup of cheese over top.

Open biscuits and place on wax paper. Cut each biscuit into about 10 little pieces. Place the little pieces over top of the chicken mixture until it is all covered. Sprinkle biscuits with remaining ranch dressing mix, garlic salt and 1/2 cup cheese.

Bake for 40-50 minutes or until golden brown and biscuits are cooked through underneath. Cover with foil for the last 25 minutes of baking to prevent too much browning. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving. Top with a little hot sauce if desired. (I did not. I thought it would drown out the yumminess of this dish.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Tri-Colore Orzo Pasta Salad

This was my first experience with arugula. When I smelled it I was a little worried that I was NOT going to like it. I was pleasantly surprised.
Tri-Colore Orzo Pasta

From: A Dash of Sass

1 lb. orzo pasta
3 Tbs. + 1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 cups fresh arugula, roughly chopped
3/4 cup crumbled feta
1/2 cup dried cherries or cranberries, roughly chopped
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
3 Tbs. lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Fill a large pot with salted water. Bring to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until tender, approximately 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Drain the pasta and spread over a large rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with 3 Tabs. of olive oil and stir to combine. Let cool.

In a large bowl, add the pasta and all remaining ingredients. Gently stir to combine. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Sesame Noodles

This could easily be used as a main dish or a side dish. Either way, it was delish.Sesame Noodles

From: The Noshery

12 oz. rice noodles, cooked and drained (I can never find these, so I always substitute this spaghetti)
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 Tbs. honey
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbs. rice vinegar
3 Tbs. sesame oil
2 tsp. sriracha sauce
4 Tbs. canola oil
3 Tbs. rice wine vinegar
2 Tbs. oyster sauce
1/2 cup cole slaw mix
2 whole green onions, diced
Sesame seeds
Prepare noodles according to package directions.

Combine all ingredients, except green onions in a bowl. Pour mixture into a large hot skillet. Add noodle mixture to the pan and toss to combine. Stir-fry the noodles for about 5 minutes, toss in green onions.

Serve hot, topped with more green onions and sesame seeds if desired.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Chorizo, Corn and Red pepper Quesadilla with Mexican Rice

Chorizo, Corn and Red Pepper Quesadilla

From: The Noshery

8 tortillas
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 cup corn
1 red bell pepper, diced
5 oz. ground chorizo
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 dash cumin
salt and pepper
2 Tbs. cilantro minced
2 cups monterey jack, shredded
4 Tbs. butter, melted

Prepare the chorizo in a skillet and set aside.

In a heavy skillet hat olive oil at a medium hight heat. Add corn, cook until it starts to toast about 5 minutes. Add peppers, onion, cumin, salt and pepper. Saute until the onion begins to soften, and add cilantro, toss and set aside.

In a separate skillet, brush with butter. Place a tortilla in the skillet, then layer on the ingredients: cheese, chorizo, corn mixture, and more cheese. Top with a second tortilla, brush with butter and flip when golden brown on bottom.

Remove from skillet when both sides are golden brown. Slice into wedges.

Mexican Rice

1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
1 lg clove garlic, minced
2 tsp. canola oil
1 cup long grain rice
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1 tsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups beef broth

In a heavy pot, saute onion, green pepper and garlic until onion is softened. Add rice to pot and cook over medium-high heat until rice has browned. Add tomato sauce, chili powder, salt and beef broth. Bring to a boil; cover, lower heat, and simmer until liquid has been absorbed, about 20 minutes. Taste and add more salt if needed.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Crispy Southwest Chicken Wraps

Crispy Southwest Chicken Wraps

From: My Kitchen Cafe

1 cup cooked rice, warm or at room temperature
1 cup cooked and shredded chicken
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 green onion, finely sliced (both the white and the green parts)
1/2 red or green pepper, diced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
juice of 1 lime
1/2 Tbs. chili powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. garlic salt
2 cups shredded cheese
sour cream
6 burrito sized flour tortillas

Mix rice together with chili powder, cumin and garlic salt. Add remaining ingredients except for the cheese and sour cream. Sprinkle cheese over the tortillas, leaving 1/2 inch border around the edges. Then arrange the chicken and rice mixture down the center of each tortilla. You can also add 1-2 Tbs. of sour cream down the middle of the tortillas before adding the chicken and rice mixture for added creaminess, if you want. (I wanted!) Roll stuffed tortillas, leaving edges open. (I didn't leave the edges open, that sounded like it would be disastrous as I tried to grill them.) Spray the tortillas all over with cooking spray.

Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium heat for 1 minute. Arrange 2 wraps, seam-side down, in pan and cook until golden brown and crisp, about 2-3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and repeat with remaining wraps. Serve topped with sour cream, salsa or whatever sounds delish.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Reuben "Sandwich"

We love us a good Reuben in this house, and so when I saw thing I couldn't pass up trying it. We were definitely NOT disappointed.Reuben "Sandwich"

From: Real Mom Kitchen

1 loaf frozen bread dough, thawed or use the recipe below (I made the homemade version)
1/4 cup thousand island dressing
1/2 lb. corned beef or pastrami (In my world a Reuben is always corned beef)
8 slices of swiss cheese
1/2 cup sauerkraut, well drained (the recipe says optional, but not in my book)
caraway seeds (I wish that I would have used more of these. They were crucial as this wasn't the typical rye bread that you would see with a Reuben.)
extra thousand island dressing for dipping.

Roll your bread dough out to a 9x13" rectangle. Transfer to a baking pan sprayed with cooking spray. Using kitchen shears or a pizza cutter, make 1" wide strips about 3" long down the long side of the dough. Repeat with the other long side. Down the center portion of the dough, spread the thousand island dressing and top with cheese, meat and sauerkraut. Start with one end and pull the two strips together, twist together in the center and tuck ends under. It will make a little knot shape. Also roll the end of the dough up to seal the ends. Continue with the strips until you get to the other end. Sprinkle on the caraway seeds. Bake at 35o degrees, or whatever the package directions on your bread says, for 30-35 minutes until nice and golden brown. Allow to cool for a few minutes before slicing. Cut into slices and serve with extra thousand island dressing if desired.

Bread Dough Recipe

1 1/8 cups plus 2 tsp. warm water
1/3 cup oil
2 Tbs. yeast
1/4 cup sugar or honey
1/2 tsp. salt
1 egg
3 1/2 cups flour.

Mix 1st 4 ingredients and let rest for 15 minutes. Add salt and eggs. Gradually add the flour. Your dough is ready to use for the Reuben now. Make sure to use a lot of flour when you roll out the dough as it is quite sticky.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

One Hour Bread

I feel like I've been keeping something from you. And I'm a bad person because of it.

I have a great bread recipe that I love.
The reasons I love it:
It takes about an hour, start to finish.
It makes 4 loaves. Or 2 loaves, a pan of cinnamon rolls and some breadsticks for dinner.
It's extremely easy.
It's fluffy and delicious.

But it's no artisan bread. I hate that word.

One Hour Bread

10.5 c bread flour or wheat flour (not All-Purpose Flour)
1/2 c sugar
1 heaping tbsp salt
3 rounded tbsp instant yeast
3 tbsp liquid lecithin
4 c hot tap water

Mix dry ingredients. Add lecithin and water. Mix for one minute and check consistency. If dough is too dry add more water. Dough should be slightly sticky. Mix for five minutes. Do not add flour to the dough after it has finished mixing. Spray counter and pans and hands well with Pam. Shape loaves and cover with a dish towel or Saran wrap. Let rise 20-25 minutes. Bake on 350 for 25 minutes. Recipe makes four loaves of bread.

*Lecithin can be purchased at Whole foods or other trendy healthy food store.
*Do not measure lecithin. Pour quarter sized dollops directly into the bowl. You'll thank me when you get some on your fingers.
*For whole wheat bread, use the same recipe but add one cup of applesauce as part of the hot tap water and an additional tbsp of lecithin. Mix for ten minutes.
*I make this in my Kitchen-Aid. I put all the water in the bottom, add the yeast on top. Then just add all the dry ingredients, THEN the lecithin on top of the flour, etc.

To make into cinnamon rolls:
Just roll 1/4th of your total unrisen dough into a rectangle on your greased up surface. Spread a nice thick layer of butter, then spread a lovely layer of brown sugar, then sprinkle with cinnamon liberally. Roll it up. Then use floss or whatever your preferred method is. Let rise 15-20 minutes. Bake 20 minutes or until tops are browned. Spread with your preferred icing. Mine involves a 1.5c (ISH... I don't measure) powdered sugar, 2 TBSP Butter, a tsp of vanilla and milk to my preferred consistency. YUM.

I have told people... these aren't the world's best cinnamon rolls. But they are really GOOD. No one ever complains when I make them.

This dough could easily be used for:
Pizza (just don't let it rise!)
Braided Loaf
Filled Loaf
Cinnamon swirl bread

I've made each of the above and they're all delicious.
Good luck!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Vanilla Pudding Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting

I think that the pictures say how amazing these are.
Vanilla Pudding Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting

From: My Kitchen Cafe

1/2 cup warm water
2 Tbs. active dry yeast
2 Tbs. sugar
1 (3.5 oz.) pkg. instant vanilla pudding
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 eggs
1 tsp. salt
6+ cups flour

1 cup butter, softened
2 cups brown sugar
4 tsp. cinnamon

8 oz. cream cheese
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 tsp. vanilla
3 cups powdered sugar
2-3 Tbs. milk

In a small bowl, combine water, yeast and sugar. Stir until dissolved. Set aside.

In a large bowl, take pudding mix and prepare according to package directions. Add butter, eggs and salt. Mix well. Add pudding mixture to yeast mixture. Blend.

Gradually add flour; knead until smooth. Do not over flour! It should be very soft but not sticky. Place in a greased bowl. Cover and let rise until doubled.

Then roll our on a floured surface to 34" x 21". Take 1 cup of soft butter and spread over the surface. In a bowl, mix the brown sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle over the top. Roll up very tightly. Using a serrated knife or thread (I always use dental floss, because that is what my mom did... lol.) cut ever 1 1/2". Place on a lightly greased cookie sheet 1" apart. Cover and let rise until double again.

Bake at 35o degrees for 15-20 minutes. remove when they start to turn golden brown. Frost warm rolls with the cream cheese frosting.

Combine butter and cream cheese; mix well. Add vanilla and sugar, mix again. Add milk until desired consistency.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Strawberry Rhubarb Sauce

This is my favorite ice cream topping. My mom made it all of the time growing up. Perhaps that is because he has rhubarb growing like a weed in her back yard. Nonetheless, I LOVE it.Strawberry Rhubarb Sauce

From: Mom Solter

1 pkg. strawberry jello
3 cups chopped rhubarb

Place chopped rhubarb in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave for 6-8 minutes until mushy, stirring every 2 minutes.

Add strawberry jello; mix well. For some reason you are supposed to refrigerate it until it is set and add gobs of it on top of your ice cream. We always pour the hot stuff on top. Divine, I tell you, divine.