Thursday, December 31, 2009

Holiday Peanut Butter Cut-Out Cookies

This is the first baked cookie recipe that Alyssa made entirely by herself. They turned out fabulously!

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
1 cup REESE'S Peanut Butter Chips
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 egg
3/4 vanilla extract
1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda


1. Combine butter and peanut butter chips in saucepan; cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until melted. Pour into large bowl; add brown sugar, egg and vanilla. Beat well. Stir in flour and baking soda. Refrigerate 15 to 20 minutes or until firm enough to roll.

2. Heat oven to 350°F.

3. Roll dough, a small portion at a time, on lightly floured surface or between 2 pieces of wax paper, to 1/4-inch thickness. (Keep remaining dough in refrigerator until ready to use.) Using cookie cutters, cut into desired shapes; place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 7 to 8 minutes or until almost set (do not overbake). Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely. Garnish with CHOCOLATE CHIP DRIZZLE. About 3 dozen cookies.

CHOCOLATE CHIP DRIZZLE: Place 1 cup HERSHEY'S SPECIAL DARK Chocolate Chips or HERSHEY'S Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips and 1 tablespoon shortening (do not use butter, margarine or oil) in microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at MEDIUM (50%) 1 minute; stir. If necessary, microwave at MEDIUM an additional 15 seconds at a time, stirring after each heating, until chips are melted when stirred.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Hershey's Secret Kiss Cookies

Alyssa made these cookies for us. They are absolutely delicious!

1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup finely chopped walnuts or pecans
1 bag (6 oz.) HERSHEY'S KISSES Milk Chocolates
Powdered sugar

Beat butter, granulated sugar and vanilla in large bowl until fluffy. Add flour and walnuts; beat on low speed of mixer until well blended. Cover; refrigerate 1 to 2 hours or until dough is firm enough to handle.

Remove wrappers from chocolate pieces. Heat oven to 375°F. Using approximately 1 tablespoon dough for each cookie, shape dough around each chocolate piece; roll to make ball. (Be sure to cover each chocolate piece completely.) Place on ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until cookies are set but not brown. Cool slightly; remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. While still slightly warm, roll in powdered sugar. Cool completely. Store in tightly covered container. Roll again in powdered sugar just before serving. About 3 dozen cookies.

Skillet Tuna Noodle Casserole

If desired, sprinkle individual bowls of this casserole with crushed Ritz or Saltine crackers before serving.

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
10 ounces white button mushrooms, trimmed and sliced thin
1 onion , minced
Table salt
8 ounces egg noodles (3 cups)
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup frozen peas
2 (7-ounce) foil pouches solid white tuna, flaked (or use drained canned tuna)
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
Ground black pepper
Lemon wedges (for serving)

1. Melt the butter in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms, onion, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook until the mushrooms are browned, about 15 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a bowl.

2. Sprinkle the noodles into the skillet. Pour the broth and cream over the noodles. Cover and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the noodles are tender, about 10 minutes.

3. Stir in the peas, tuna, mushroom mixture, and parsley and allow to heat through, about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve, passing the lemon wedges separately.

Serves 4 to 6

Chocolate Peppermint Scones

Bart made this for us shortly before Christmas--it was a delicious, festive breakfast!

Recipe from: Taste of Home

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup baking cocoa
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup cold butter
3/4 cup (6 ounces) vanilla yogurt
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 egg
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
1 cup 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate baking chips
1 tablespoon coarse sugar
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
1/4 cup crushed peppermint candies

In a large bowl, combine the first six ingredients. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. In a small bowl, whisk the yogurt, buttermilk, egg and extract; add to crumb mixture just until moistened. Stir in chocolate chips.
Turn onto a floured surface; knead 10 times. Divide dough in half; transfer each portion to a greased baking sheet. Pat into a 6-in. circle. Cut into six wedges, but do not separate. Sprinkle with sugar.

Bake at 400° for 18-20 minutes or until puffed and tops are cracked. Remove to wire racks; cool slightly. Drizzle with melted chocolate and sprinkle with peppermint candies. Serve warm (although these are also good leftover).

Yield: 1 dozen.

Cranberry-Walnut-Orange Muffins

Just in case you stocked up on cranberries this past fall and have some in the freezer you need to use!

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon table salt
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar, less 1 tablespoon
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups plain low-fat yogurt
1 1/2 cups chopped cranberries, fresh or frozen
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
Vegetable cooking spray or additional unsalted butter for muffin tins

1. Adjust oven rack to lower middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl; set aside.

2. Beat butter and sugar with electric mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add orange zest to butter-sugar mixture. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in one-half of dry ingredients. Beat in one-third of yogurt. Beat in remaining dry ingredients in two batches, alternating with yogurt, until incorporated. Fold cranberries and walnuts into finished batter.

3. Spray twelve-cup muffin tin with vegetable cooking spray or coat lightly with butter. Use large ice cream scoop to divide batter evenly among cups. Bake until muffins are golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Set on wire rack to cool slightly, about 5 minutes. Remove muffins from tin and serve warm.

Makes 1 dozen large muffins.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Eggnog Cookies

I decided to try a new recipe for the holidays. So to please my Eggnog Loving family I found this recipes. It's like a soft sugar cookie, only with eggnog flavor. Everyone loved it except for me, but then again, I don't like Eggnog! So if you like Eggnog, you'll probably like this recipe too.

1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon rum extract
dash of nutmeg
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup eggnog

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg, vanilla and rum extract. Combine nutmeg, flour, baking soda and salt together; add to creamed mixture alternating with the eggnog and mix well. (If the mixture is too thick you can add a bit more eggnog.) Drop by rounded tablespoons onto greased cookie sheets. Flatten down cookies just a bit. Bake at 375 for 10-12 minutes. Let the cookies cool on the pan for a couple of minutes and then move to cooling racks to cool completely and then frost.


2 tablespoons butter, softened
3 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup eggnog

Combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix well. If the frosting is too thick add a bit more eggnog or if it is too runny add a bit more sugar. It should be spreadable. Frost the cookies and sprinkle with a bit of cinnamon sugar.

Rolo Turtles

1 small package square shaped pretzels
1 package Rolo candy
1 package pecan halves (toasted), or other nut

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Cover a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and place pretzels individually on to form one layer. Place one Rolo candy on each pretzel. Bake in preheated oven for 4 minutes or until the candies soften. Immediately after removing them from the oven place one pecan half on top of each candy and squish down to flatten out. Cool for 20 minutes and then place uncovered in the refrigerator for 20 minutes to set. Transfer to a decorative serving plate.

If you don't like pecans use a different type of nut or push down an M&M on top. I used macadamia nuts.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Peanut Brittle

3 cups sugar
1 ¼ cups corn syrup
1 cup water
2 tablespoons butter
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 pound raw Spanish peanuts (I measure out 4 cups)

In a small bowl, combine the salt, soda and vanilla. Set aside until ready to use. Butter a 17 x 12-inch cookie sheet and set aside on a cooling rack.

Combine sugar, corn syrup, and water in a heavy 3-quart saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil and sugar is dissolved. If sugar crystals form on the side of the pan, wipe them off, or cover with a lid until they dissolve, then remove the lid and continue boiling. Put thermometer in saucepan. Cook to 232°F. Remove thermometer. Stir in the raw peanuts and continue cooking, stirring to keep from burning. Cook until the syrup is a beautiful golden brown, stirring constantly.

Add the butter and stir to combine. Remove from heat, and add the salt, soda, and vanilla mixture. Stir well. (The brittle will foam.) Spread onto buttered cookie sheet.

After the candy begins to cool slightly, use a buttered knife to “score” the candy into squares. After the candy cools completely, invert onto a sheet of waxed paper or parchment paper, and break it into the squares you scored earlier. Most will be in squares.


4 cups sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
¾ cup water
¼ teaspoon salt
3 egg whites, room temperature, stiffly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup broken nuts, if desired

Combine sugar, corn syrup, water, and salt in a heavy 3-quart saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil and sugar is dissolved. If sugar crystals form on side of pan, wipe them off or cover with lid unto they dissolve then remove the lid and continue boiling. Reduce heat and cook without stirring until temperature reaches 248°F., or firm ball stage.

When candy reaches 240°F., beat egg whites until stiff, but not dry (be certain that the utensils and bowl are grease-free). When candy mixture reaches 248°F., slowly pour it in a fine stream over egg whites, beating constantly with electric mixer, slowly pour it in a fine stream over egg whites, beating constantly with electric mix at medium speed (this is a 2-person job if you’re using a hand mixer; a stand mixer is much easier to use by yourself).

Continue beating until mixture begins to lose its gloss and a small amount dropped from a spoon holds soft peaks. The secret to smooth, velvety divinity is plenty of beating. Take a little taste—when it feels velvety on the tongue and the raw syrup taste is gone, it’s ready.

Mix in the vanilla. You may fold in chopped nuts if desired. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto waxed paper. You may place a nut on top of each candy, if desired.

Makes about 8 dozen pieces.


• To make a pastel divinity, add 20 drops of food coloring to the uncooked syrup.
• It is recommended that you test your candy thermometer before use each time. Place in a saucepan with boiling water. Water boils at 212°F., so adjust the temperature in the recipe up or down as required.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Christmas Root-Deer

Bart made these to take to his home-teaching families. Isn't he great at crafts?

IBC root beer (or other root beer in individual-size bottles)
Brown pipe cleaners
Wiggle eyes
Red and/or black pom-poms
Jingle Bells

Following picture, use a hot glue gun to create reindeer. To make the antlers, we twisted one whole pipe cleaner around the top of each bottle. Then we cut a pipe cleaner into fourths, and used two of these pieces on each side of the whole pipe cleaner that was twisted around the top.

Coconut Scones with Coconut Glaze

4-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling
2 cups shredded coconut
3 sticks cold unsalted butter, cubed
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon coconut extract
2 cups pecans, finely chopped

For the Glaze:
4 tablespoons unsweetened coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 to 2 cups confectioners' sugar

Make the scones: Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line 2 or 3 baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, granulated sugar and shredded coconut in a bowl. Beat in the butter with a mixer on low speed, then raise the speed to high and beat until the mixture is in coarse crumbles.
Whisk the coconut milk, eggs and coconut extract in another bowl, then stir into the flour mixture until just combined. Stir in the pecans; do not over mix.

Scoop 2-to-3-inch mounds of dough onto the prepared baking sheets (a large ice cream scoop works well for this). Sprinkle the tops with sugar and bake until golden brown, 15 to 17 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the glaze: Whisk the coconut milk, coconut and vanilla extracts and 1 cup confectioners' sugar in a bowl until smooth, adding more sugar as needed to thicken. Drizzle over the scones while still slightly warm.

Strawberry and Chocolate Oat Scones

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup rolled oats
¼ cup dark brown sugar
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons cold butter, cut into pieces
½ cup chocolate chips
2/3 cup buttermilk
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
About 1 cup chopped fresh strawberries (or substitute 1/3 dried cranberries or dried cherries)

Heat oven to 400°F.

Combine flour, oats, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in food processor. Pulse to mix. Add butter pieces and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Remove mixture from food processor and place in large bowl. Stir in chocolate chips. Set aside.

In small bowl, combine buttermilk, egg, and flour. Mix well.

Add liquid ingredients to dry ingredients; stir with fork or Danish whisk just until dry ingredients are moistened. Gently fold in strawberries. Do not overmix.

Drop dough by ¼ cup portions 2 inches apart onto parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until very light golden brown.

Makes 10 to 12 scones.

Brûléed Oatmeal with Baked Apples

2 apples (Granny Smith, Baldwin, or Honeycrisp)—peeled, cored, and cut into wedges ¼ inch thick
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons firmly packed light brown sugar
4 cups (32 ounces) whole milk
¼ teaspoon salt
2 cups (6 ounces) rolled oats
½ cup (3 ½ ounces) firmly packed light brown sugar

To make the baked apples, position a rack in the middle of the oven, and preheat to 375°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a bowl, combine the apples, lemon juice, melted butter, and brown sugar and stir to evenly coat the apples. Spread the apples on the prepared sheet and bake until the liquid is bubbling and the apples are tender and glazed with the brown sugar mixture, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and keep warm. Preheat the broiler (grill).

Meanwhile, in a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the milk and salt to a gentle boil, about 3 minutes. Stir in the oats. Reduce the heat to medium and cook uncovered at a gentle boil, stirring frequently, until the oatmeal is soft and the milk is absorbed, about 5 minutes. Adjust the heat as needed to keep the oatmeal boiling gently. Remove from the heat.

Divide the hot oatmeal among 4 shallow baking dishes about 6 inches in diameter, spreading it evenly in the dishes. Evenly sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the brown sugar over each serving. Using a spoon or your fingers, gently press the brown sugar into a uniform layer.

Arrange the baking dishes on a baking sheet and place in the broiler about 6 inches from the heat source. Broil (grill) until the topping melts and bubbles vigorously, about 3 minutes. Rotate the baking sheet halfway through baking to ensure uniform browning, and watch carefully to prevent the topping from burning. Place each baking dish on a serving plate. Top with the warm apple splices and serve at once.

Recipe Source: Williams-Sonoma: Essentials of Breakfast and Brunch

Apple Berry Breakfast Crisp

4 cups thinly sliced peeled apples (about 4 medium)
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries or sliced strawberries
¼ cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour or instant Clear-Jel
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ cup frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed

1 cup old fashioned oats
½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Heat oven to 350°F. Spray 8-inch baking dish with nonstick baking spray.

For filling, combine brown sugar, flour or Clear-Jel and cinnamon in large bowl. Stir to mix well. Stir in apples, blueberries and juice concentrate until fruit is evenly coated. Spoon into baking dish.

For topping, combine oats, brown sugar, margarine and flour in medium bowl; mix until crumbly. Sprinkle evenly over fruit.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until apples are tender. Serve warm.

Makes 9 servings.

Tip: For a delicious dessert, serve warm with vanilla frozen yogurt or ice cream.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

S'mores Sandwich Bar Cookies

Alyssa has been really wanting to make cookies, so today we made these together. She was hoping to have enough to deliver some Christmas treats to our neighbors, but we ended up eating them all. Oh well--they were simple to make so we can make another batch for our neighbors!

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 (1.55 oz. each) HERSHEY'S Milk Chocolate Bars (we used 7 3/4 ounces semisweet chocolate chips instead)
3 cups miniature marshmallows

Heat oven to 350°F. Grease 8-inch square baking pan.

Beat butter and sugar in large bowl until well blended. Add egg and vanilla; beat well. Stir together flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder and salt; add to butter mixture, beating until blended. Press half of dough into prepared pan.

Bake for 15 minutes.

Sprinkle chocolate bar sections, marshmallows and bits of remaining dough over baked layer.

Bake 10 to 15 minutes or just until lightly browned.

Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Cut into bars. 16 bars.

Cheeseburger Pasta

We love pasta dishes! This meal was great. We think it would also be fun to serve crumbled bacon over it.

1 pound penne pasta
1 to 1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
2 cans (14-1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes
1/4 cup dill pickle relish
1/4 cup prepared mustard
1/4 cup ketchup
2 teaspoons steak seasoning (such as Montreal steak seasoning)
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
Chopped green onions, for serving

Cook pasta according to package directions.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook beef and onion over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain. Stir in the tomatoes, relish, mustard, ketchup, steak seasoning and seasoned salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes.

Drain pasta; add to meat mixture.

Sprinkle with cheese. Remove from the heat; cover and let stand until cheese is melted. Garnish with green onions.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Favorite Dinner Rolls

This is the recipe from the Lion House cookbooks. I added the 20 minutes autolyse time--it really seems to help and it is a very simple thing to do. I had trouble describing how to make the Parkerhouse rolls--but I'm sure you all already know how to do that.

2 tablespoons yeast
2 cups (16 ounces) warm water
1/3 cup (2 3/8 ounces) sugar
1/3 cup (2 3/8 ounces) vegetable shortening (butter-flavor is good)—or use 1/3 cup (2 5/8 ounces) butter or margarine
2 teaspoons salt
2/3 cup nonfat dry milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
5 to 6 cups (21 ¼ ounces – 25 ½ ounces) all-purpose flour
Melted butter (about ½ cup)

In a large bowl, mix yeast and water and let stand 5 minutes. Add sugar, shortening, salt, dry milk, egg, and 2 ½ cups of the flour. Beat together until smooth (beating 2 minutes at medium-high speed). Cover and let mixture rest for 20 minutes. After mixture has rested, gradually add remaining flour until a soft dough is formed.
Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic. Alternatively, you can knead dough in a large standing mixer. Knead for about 4 minutes in mixer on low. Place dough in greased bowl; cover and let rise until dough doubles in bulk. Punch down.

To make Parkerhouse rolls, roll dough out onto counter about 3/8-inch thick. Cut with round biscuit cutter. Remove cut shapes and reroll remaining dough. You may need to let the dough rest before re-rolling if it doesn’t roll easily.

Prepare a half-sheet baking sheet by greasing or spraying with Baker’s Joy. Line with parchment and spray lightly again.

Slightly stretch out each dough round into an elongated oval. Dip top side of bottom half of oval into melted butter. Place into prepared pan, folding top half over onto buttered half. Gently press cut edges to seal. Repeat with remaining dough, placing rolls quite close together. Placing each new row of rolls close to the last row helps prevent the tops from opening up during rising and baking.

(To make crescent rolls, divide dough into thirds. Roll out one third of dough into a circle; cut into 12 pie-shaped pieces. Starting at the wide end, roll up each piece into a crescent. Place on greased baking sheet with point on bottom. Repeat with remainder of dough. Brush tops with melted butter.)

Butter plastic wrap and use to cover rolls. Let rolls rise until double in size. Bake at 400°F. for 15 minutes. Serve warm with honey butter or cran-raspberry butter if desired.

Makes about 3 dozen rolls.

Cran-Raspberry Butter

We make this butter every Thanksgiving to serve with our rolls. It is absolutely delicious!

1 cup whole-berry cranberry sauce (we prefer to use homemade, but canned will work)
½ cup raspberry preserves
2 cups butter, softened
1 tablespoon powdered sugar

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl; beat on high for 5 minutes. Mixture should be creamy. Spoon into a dish; cover and refrigerate for 24 hours.

Makes 3 ½ cups.

Honey Butter


½ cup (4 ounces) softened butter
¼ teaspoon vanilla
1 egg yolk
1 cup (12 ounces) honey

Whip butter; add vanilla and egg yolk. Gradually whip in honey until light and fluffy.

Makes 1 ½ cups.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Split Pea Soup

Before Thanksgiving we needed to clean out our fridge. We decided to use our remaining ham (and the bone) to make this soup. It has been a very long time since we've had split pea soup--Alyssa and Joshua didn't remember having it before. We all loved this soup! And, like most soups, it is even better the next day.

2 1/4 cups dried split peas
2 quarts cold water
1 1/2 pounds ham bone
2 onions, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 pinch dried marjoram
3 stalks celery, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
1 potato, diced


1.In a large stock pot, cover peas with 2 quarts cold water and soak overnight. If you need a faster method, simmer the peas gently for 2 minutes, and then soak for l hour.
2.Once peas are soaked, add ham bone, onion, salt, pepper and marjoram. Cover, bring to boil and then simmer for 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.
3.Remove bone; cut off meat, dice and return meat to soup. Add celery, carrots and potatoes. Cook slowly, uncovered for 30 to 40 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Butternut Squash Mac-n-Cheese

Macaroni and cheese has to be one of the most comforting and satisfying meals. Sometimes, however, by the time you get the macaroni and cheese creamy and saucy enough, the overall effect can be too “cheesy”. Enter this recipe—one of my all-time favorite macaroni and cheese recipes. The butternut squash provides a smooth, rich presence that enriches the dish without overwhelming it. Mom and Dad brought us some winter squash (sweet meat), so that is what we used this time instead of butternut squash. It worked just as well. If you’re preparing your own squash, be sure to puree it very well (we use a food processor and sometimes a blender as well if necessary) to ensure the squash is very smooth without any distracting fibers.

Bart made this for us for dinner tonight—and we all loved it. This is a recipe we look forward to every year when we get winter squash. We freeze the extra squash so we can enjoy it throughout the year. Luckily, the thyme from our garden was still good, so we didn’t have to buy the fresh thyme.

Recipe from Rachael Ray 365: No Repeats.

1 pound macaroni with ridges, such as tubettini or mini penne rigate (we used regular penne rigate)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme, plus a few sprigs for garnish
½ medium onion, finely chopped
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups chicken stock or broth
1 (10-ounce) box frozen cooked butternut squash, defrosted
1 cup cream or half-and-half (we use cream)
2 cups (8 ounces) grated sharp Cheddar cheese
½ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
¼ teaspoon nutmeg (eyeball it—we use freshly ground)
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Heat a pot of water to boil for the pasta. Salt the water, then add the pasta and cool al dente, or with a bite to it.

While the pasta cooks, heat a medium heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the olive oil and butter. When the butter melts into the oil, add the thyme and onion. Cook the onions for a minute or two, then add the flour and cook together for a minute or two more. Whisk in the stock, then add the butternut squash and cook until warmed through and smooth. Stir in the cream and bring the sauce to a bubble. Stir in the cheeses in a figure-eight motion and season the completed sauce with salt, nutmeg, and pepper. Taste to adjust seasonings.

Drain the cooked pasta well and combine with the sauce. Serve with a green salad. Garnish with thyme leaves.

Double Chocolate Granola

Sometimes I think my family considers chocolate it's own food group. If you're that way too, here's a way to make sure you get your daily chocolate intake at breakfast. Actually, this granola is also fabulous as a snack or dessert. You can eat it plain, with milk, or sprinkle it over yogurt or ice cream. I prefer to make the granola a day before you plan to serve it--that gives it more time to crisp up.

4 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup wheat germ
¼ cup dark brown sugar
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup coconut
1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
½ cup honey
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons water
1/3 cup cocoa
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup semisweet chocolate chips

Mix together oats, wheat germ, brown sugar, salt, coconut, pecans, and almonds in large bowl. In small saucepan, combine honey, oil, water and cocoa and bring to a simmer over low heat. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Drizzle liquid mixture over oat mixture and stir to combine. Pour mixture onto greased baking sheet (I use a half-sheet pan) and working a handful at a time squeeze cereal to form small clumps. (We make the clumps as we put the mixture onto the pan.) Bake at 275 for 30 minutes. Sprinkle chocolate chips on granola. Continue to bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes longer. Carefully stir in melted chocolate chips. Leave in pan to let cool completely.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

White Chocolate Whisper Cake

Last summer Bart's mom was extremely disappointed that she didn't get a taste of the cake I made for Nicki's wedding. Therefore, she placed an order with me at that time (she made sure she placed her order early) for me to make a birthday cake for her. She chose a white cake with lemon filling, but left the decorating up to me. Because she has a huge family and gatherings can be quite large, I made a relatively large birthday cake for her. Her birthday is today--hopefully we can get her cake there in one piece!

I decided to try a new recipe for the cake and filling. I got the cake recipe from The Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum. This cake smells incredible while it is baking, and it baked very evenly. The cake has a very fine, delicate crumb. As the title implies, the white chocolate just supplies a subtle "whisper" in the background. According to Rose, the "white chocolate offers the double advantage of velvety, melt-in-the-moouth texture and, because of white cake's gentle flavor, a definite whisper of cocoa butter. This special flavor blends well with a lemon buttercream or, of course, a white chocolate buttercream or glaze."

I filled the cake with homemade lemon curd (recipe from Cook's Illustrated). The lemon curd is nice and tart and offsets the sweetness of the cake.

I frosted the cake with lemon buttercream (made with butter and cream cheese), and applied homemade lemon-flavored fondant. The decorations are made with a mixture of homemade gumpaste and white chocolate clay. I had fun making the cake, and I hope she enjoys it!

P.S. While making the cake, I had trouble getting the 6-inch cakes to turn out--so I frosted the ruined cake. The pictures of the cut cake are the pictures of my failures.

White Chocolate Whisper Cake

6 ounces white chocolate
4.75 ounces egg whites
8.5 ounces milk
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
10.5 ounces sifted cake flour
8.5 ounces sugar
1 tablespoon + 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt
4.5 ounces (9 T.) unsalted butter, softened

Preheat the oven 350°F. Prepare two 9-inch x 1-1/2-inch cake pans by greasing them, lining bottoms with parchment paper, then grease and flour again. (I use Baker's Joy instead of grease and flour, but I still use the parchment circle.)

In a double boiler melt the chocolate over hot (not simmering) water, stirring frequently. Remove from the water.

In a medium bowl lightly combine the egg whites, ¼ cup milk, and vanilla.

In a large mixing bowl combine the dry ingredients and mix on low speed for 30 seconds to blend. Add the butter and remaining ¾ cup milk. Mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Increase to medium speed (high speed if using a hand mixer) and beat for 1 ½ minutes to aerate and develop the cake’s structure. Scrape down the sides. Gradually add the egg mixture in 3 batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition to incorporate the ingredients and strengthen the structure. Scrape down the sides. Add the melted chocolate and beat to incorporate.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pans and smooth the surface with a spatula. The pans will be about ½ full. Bake 25 to 35 minutes for 6-inch pan (30-40 minutes for 9-inch) or until a tester inserted near the center comes out clean and the cake springs back when pressed lightly in the center. The cakes should start to shrink from the sides of the pans only after removal from the oven.

Let the cakes cool in the pans on racks for 10 minutes. Loosen the sides with a small metal spatula and invert onto greased wire racks. To prevent splitting, reinvert so that the tops are up and cool completely before wrapping airtight.

Lemon Curd Filling

1 cup fresh lemon juice from about 6 lemons
1 teaspoon gelatin (powdered)
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar (10 1/2 ounces)
1/8 teaspoon table salt
4 large eggs
6 large egg yolks (reserve egg whites for cake)
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), cut into 1/2-inch cubes and frozen

FOR THE FILLING: Measure 1 tablespoon lemon juice into small bowl; sprinkle gelatin over top. Heat remaining lemon juice, sugar, and salt in medium nonreactive saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves and mixture is hot but not boiling. Whisk eggs and yolks in large nonreactive bowl. Whisking constantly, slowly pour hot lemon-sugar mixture into eggs, then return mixture to saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with heatproof spatula, until mixture registers 170 degrees on instant-read thermometer and is thick enough to leave trail when spatula is scraped along pan bottom, 4 to 6 minutes. Immediately remove pan from heat and stir in gelatin mixture until dissolved. Stir in frozen butter until incorporated. Pour filling through fine-mesh strainer into nonreactive bowl (you should have 3 cups). Cover surface directly with plastic wrap; refrigerate until firm enough to spread, at least 4 hours.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Homemade Samoa Bars

Our cousin LeAnn sent me a bunch of recipes to include in the Yancey Family Reunion Cookbook. This is one of them. Bart needed a treat to bring to a potluck at work, so I made these. They are very yummy--although I like them even better the second day! I suggest cutting them into small pieces, as they are rather rich. I used the Peter's block caramel that I get from Gygi's. It worked perfectly.

Cookie Base:
1/2 c sugar
3/4 c butter, softened
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 c all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9x13 inch baking pan, or line with parchment paper. In a large bowl, cream together sugar and butter, until fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla extract. Working at a low speed, gradually beat in flour and salt until mixture is crumbly, like wet sand. The dough does not need to come together. Pour crumbly dough into prepared pan and press into an even layer. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until base is set and edges are lightly browned. Cool completely on a wire rack before topping.

3 cups shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
12 oz good quality chewy caramels
1/4 tsp salt
3 tbsp milk
10 oz dark or semisweet chocolate (chocolate chips are ok)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Spread coconut evenly on a parchment-lined baking sheet (preferably one with sides) and toast 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes, until coconut is golden. Cool on baking sheet, stirring occasionally. Set aside. Unwrap the caramels and place in a large microwave safe bowl with milk and salt. Cook on high for 3-4 minutes, stopping to stir a few times to help the caramel melt. When smooth, fold in toasted coconut with a spatula. Put dollops of the topping all over the shortbread base. Using the spatula, spread topping into an even layer. Let topping set until cooled.

When cooled, cut into 30 bars with a large knife or a pizza cutter (it’s easy to get it through the topping). Once bars are cut, melt chocolate in a small bowl. Heat on high in the microwave in 45 second intervals; stirring thoroughly to prevent scorching. Dip the base of each bar into the chocolate and place on a clean piece of parchment or wax paper. Transfer all remaining chocolate (or melt a bit of additional chocolate, if necessary) into a piping bag or a ziploc bag with the corner snipped off and drizzle bars with chocolate to finish. Let chocolate set completely before storing in an airtight container.

Makes 30 bar cookies.

French Onion Mac ‘n’ Cheese

Bart and I absolutely love French Onion Soup. We often make it to celebrate our wedding anniversary. Considering that we also love pasta, this recipe was an incredible find for us! Bart is an expert at making French Onion Soup, so he is the one that made this recipe for us. He advises to take your time when browning the onions so you get that yummy caramelized flavor (not a burnt flavor).

Recipe from EveryDay with Rachael Ray Dec/Jan 2010.

4 tablespoons butter
2 large onions, very thinly sliced
1 teaspoon ground thyme
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper
1 pound penne rigate (or use whole wheat penne rigate) pasta
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup whole milk
Freshly grated nutmeg
¾ pound gruyere cheese, shredded (can substitute Swiss cheese if desired)

In a skillet, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium-high heat. Stir in the onions, thyme and bay leaf for 5 minutes; season with salt and pepper. Lower the heat and cook until the onions are browned, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a plate and discard the bay leaf. Reserve the skillet.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt it, add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain and return to the pot.

In the reserved skillet, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour for 1 minute, then whisk in the chicken stock and milk and bring to a boil (I find it works better to microwave the chicken stock and milk before adding them—it tends to result in a smoother sauce); season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Lower the heat and cook until thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the cheese until melted.

Combine the onions and sauce with the pasta and toss well.

Serve as a main dish with a mixed greens salad or as a side with sliced London broil.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Corn Pillows

I had to try this recipe because of the unique name. We enjoyed these scones as a side dish/dessert with taco salad. We served them with honey butter or tossed in cinnamon-sugar instead of sprinkling with powdered sugar.

Corn Pillows
Recipe from Taste of Home.

1 tablespoon active dry yeast
¼ cup warm water
1-3/4 cups milk
½ cup cornmeal
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 can (14.75 ounces) cream-style corn
2 eggs, beaten
6 to 7 cups all-purpose flour
Oil for deep-fat frying
Confectioners’ sugar

In a large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. In a large saucepan, heat the milk, cornmeal, oil, sugar and salt to 110° - 115°F.; add to yeast mixture. Add corn, eggs, and 6 cups flour; beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6 – 8 minutes. (Note: I dissolved instant yeast in 2 cups warm water with about 1 teaspoon of the sugar in bowl of standing mixer. Then I added 2/3 cup dry milk, cornmeal, oil, remaining sugar, salt, corn, eggs and 3 cups flour. Beat vigorously for 2 minutes. Add remaining flour gradually to form a soft dough. Knead in mixer for about 4 minutes.)

Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; divide in half. Roll each portion into a 15-in. x 12-in. rectangle. Cut into 3-in. x 1-1/2-in. strips.

In a deep-fat fryer, heat oil to 375°F. Drop dough strips in batches into oil; fry for 45 – 75 seconds or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Dust with confectioners’ sugar.

Yield: about 6-1/2 dozen. (I used half the dough to make a loaf of bread.)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Zucchini Brownies (Ethella Yancey)

1 1/2 cups sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups shredded zucchini
2 cups flour
1/4 cup cocoa
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup chopped nuts.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl mix together flour, cocoa, salt and baking soda. Set aside. In a mixing bowl, blend sugar, egg, oil, and vanilla together until well mixed. Stir in zucchini. Stir in flour mixture. Add nuts. Bake for 30 minutes in greased 13x9x2-inch baking dish.

Frosting: Melt 1/4 cup butter. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons cocoa and blend well. Beat in 2 or more cups powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon milk, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Mix until spreading consistency.

Mrs. Gee's Parmesan-Garlic Sandwich Bread

(recipe from Mrs. Gee's website)
This sandwich bread is especially nice for those liking a lot of crust on their bread. The bread is fabulous served hot, cut into wedges. It also reheats well, wrapped with a paper towel in microwave for a few seconds. And finally, if you have any left, it makes super breadcrumbs for your next batch of meatballs, meatloaf, or breaded cutlets.

1 heaping tablespoon dry yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup olive oil
3 1/2 to 4 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
2 large cloves garlic, crushed
1/3 cup finely grated fresh parmesan cheese

Dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water. Add olive oil, 2 cups flour, crushed garlic cloves, and parmesan cheese. Mix until a smooth batter. Add salt and 1 1/2 cups flour, knead until smooth and elastic. Add enough extra flour, just until the dough is non-sticky.

Place in a greased bowl (or plastic bowl), cover and let rise until doubled in size. Punch down and let rise again.

Lightly grease a large cookie sheet with olive oil. Place the dough gently onto the cookie sheet and press out evenly with hands until the pan is covered. Let rise for about 25 minutes. "Dimple" top with your fingertips (as you would a focaccia loaf). Bake in preheated oven at 375 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes or until a nice golden brown. Cool on a wire rack. Cut in half lengthwise, and then into sandwich-sized pieces. Split open and add sandwich fillings.

Apple Streusel Coffee Cake

Yes, I'm trying to use Mom and Dad's apples. This recipe originally called for blueberries and I put "Yum" by the recipe in the book. So I decided to try it with apples and Bryce, Erica, Logan, and I had some at lunch today. It was very tasty.

1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 1/2 cups flour
2 Tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups milk
3 cups peeled, finely diced apples

Streusel Topping:
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup cold butter or margarine

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with milk. Fold in apples. Pour into a greased 13x9" pan. For topping, combine sugar and cinnamon. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle over batter. Bake at 375 for 35 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack. Yield: 12-16 servings. (For the blueberry version: if using frozen blueberries, do not thaw before adding to the batter).

Dutch Apple Loaf

I promised my piano student that I would come up with an apple treat for our refreshments at our recital. I made this bread, which uses quite a few apples for only one loaf. I quadrupled the recipe and put it into 5 loaves (my pans are 8 1/2 x 4 1/2).

1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups diced peeled tart apples
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 cup cold butter or margarine

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in buttermilk and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt; add to creamed mixture. Fold in apples and walnuts. Pour into a greased 9x5" loaf pan. For topping, combine the sugar, flour and cinnamon in a bowl. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle over batter. Bake at 350 for 55-60 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack. Yield: 1 loaf.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Candy Bar Caramel Apples

Joshua was concerned because he had never had a caramel apple. I didn't want him to grow up without having the opportunity to try a caramel apple, so I decided I would make him some. I was nervous, because I haven't had much success with homemade caramel apples in the past (it's been probably 15 years since I last tried). I found this recipe from Land O'Lakes. It was easy to make, the apples looked quite elegant, and they tasted delicious. My favorite way to serve caramel apples is to slice them into thin wedges--it's much easier to eat that way. I used the Peter's brand block caramel that I bought at Gygi's. I bought 12 honeycrisp apples from Costco and had enough caramel to make 12 (I did have to chop a little more candy, though). I didn't take a picture of mine--this picture is from Land O'Lakes--but the apples actually do end up looking like the picture.

Yield: 8 caramel apples

8 wooden craft sticks
8 large apples, washed, dried (I used honeycrisp apples and they were fabulous)
1 cup chopped your favorite chocolate-covered candy bars (I used chopped Butterfingers)
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup milk
1 (11-ounce) bag caramel bits or 45 unwrapped caramels (I used 11 ounces of block caramel)
1 cup milk chocolate & caramel swirled baking chips (or use 1 cup milk chocolate chips)
2 (1-ounce) squares white baking chocolate, melted

Insert 1 wooden stick into stem end of each apple; set aside. Line baking sheet with waxed paper; spray with no-stick cooking spray. Set aside. Place chopped candy into medium bowl; set aside.

Combine butter, milk and caramel bits in 3-quart saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until caramel is melted and smooth (5 to 7 minutes). Remove from heat; stir in baking chips until smooth.

Place pan over low heat; dip apples into melted caramel mixture until evenly coated, spooning mixture over apples as needed. Shake gently to allow all excess caramel mixture to drip off. Roll bottoms of apples into chopped candy. Place onto prepared baking sheet.

Drizzle each apple with melted white chocolate. If necessary, lift each apple from waxed paper and press caramel and chopped candy back onto bottom of apples. Place back onto waxed paper.

Refrigerate at least 1 hour. Wrap each apple in waxed paper; store refrigerated. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour before serving.

Recipe Tips
* Make sure to allow all excess caramel mixture to drip off into pan.

* Wrap 2 colors of festive ribbon around wooden sticks for a special touch. Tie at ends to secure.

* Leftover caramel sauce can be re-heated and served over ice cream.

Super Easy, Super Fast, Super Yummy, Super-Duper Chili

When I first read through this recipe, I couldn't imagine that it would actually come together and taste good. Of course, I had to try it to find out. And it works! This is a very fast to put together chili--you basically just open up cans of ingredients and dump them together. The onions, garlic, and green peppers are all from the salsa so there is no chopping involved.

Recipe from Taste of Home.

1 pound bulk pork sausage
1 pound ground beef
2 cans (16 ounces each) hot chili beans, undrained
1 jar (16 ounces) salsa
1 can (16 ounces) kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (15 ounces) pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (14-1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can (10-3/4 ounces) condensed cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
8 ounces process cheese (Velveeta), cubed
1-1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

In a large soup kettle or Dutch oven, cook the sausage and beef over medium heat until no longer pink; drain. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until heated through. Yield: 14 servings (3-1/2 quarts).

Friday, October 30, 2009

Favorite Fudge Cupcakes with Buttercream Frosting

I'm sure you all know by now how much my family loves the "Favorite Fudge Birthday Cake" recipe from King Arthur Flour! Last night Bart wanted to bring a treat in for a coworker's birthday. I thought cupcakes would be easier to serve at work, so I used our favorite chocolate cake recipe for cupcakes. It worked great! I made a different recipe for the frosting than I usually use. It tasted just like an Italian-meringue buttercream, but it was MUCH simpler to make. We prefer our buttercream a little less buttery and a little more sweet, so I just added some extra powdered sugar at the end until we liked the taste. It didn't harm the texture at all--in fact, this buttercream has an extremely silky, light texture that makes it easy to work with. I highly recommend using a stand mixer for the frosting.

Favorite Fudge Cupcakes

2 cups (14 ounces) sugar
2 cups (8 1/2 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons Instant ClearJel or cornstarch (I always use Instant ClearJel)
3/4 cup (2 1/4 ounces) Dutch-process cocoa
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) water

Preheat the oven to 350. Line muffin pans with paper baking liners.

Whisk together the dry ingredients. Add the eggs, oil, and vanilla, beating until smooth. Gradually add the water, beating until smooth. Put the batter into the prepared liners (I use my muffin scoop--about 1/4 cup per cupcake depending on the size of your pan).

Bake the cupcakes for 20 to 25 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean or cake feels done when lightly touched. Cool the cupcakes in the pan for 5 minutes, then carefully remove them from the pan and place them on a rack to cool completely.

Buttercream Frosting

3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt (ONLY if you use unsalted butter)
1/2 cup (4 ounces) boiling water
1/4 cup(1 ounce) meringue powder
1 tablespoon (1/2 ounce) vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract (if desired)
4-8 cups (1 to 2 pounds) powdered sugar
2 cups (4 sticks, 1 pound) soft butter

Dissolve the sugar (and salt if you're using it) in the boiling water, and cool to room temperature. Mix in the meringue powder. Beat on low speed of an electric mixer for several minutes, until the powder dissolves and the mixture is foamy. Increase the speed and beat until soft peaks form. Beat in the vanilla and almond extract, then the confectioners' sugar. Add the soft butter a few tablespoons at a time, beating well after each addition. Taste and add additional powdered sugar if desired (I added a little over 1 pound extra). Swirl the icing onto the cupcakes.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Chicken and Rice with Coconut Milk and Pistachios

This is a great variation on chicken and rice. Bart made this for us for dinner tonight. We all absolutely loved it! We served it with an Asian lettuce salad.

Recipe from The Best Skillet Recipes.

4 (5- to 6-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, tenderloins removed and breasts trimmed
½ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
Salt and ground black pepper
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, minced
1 ½ teaspoons garam masala
1 ½ cups long-grain white rice
3 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 1 tablespoon)
2 ¾ cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 (13.5-ounce) can light coconut milk (we used regular coconut milk because that’s what we had on hand)
1 cup frozen peas
½ cup chopped pistachios, toasted
½ cup minced fresh cilantro leaves

Pound each chicken breast between two sheet sof plastic wrap to a uniform ½-inch thickness. Place the flour in a shallow dish. Pat the chicken breasts dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Working with 1 chicken breast at a time, dredge in the flour, sahking off the excess.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Carefully lay the chicken breasts in the skillet and ocok until lightly browned on both sides, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate.

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the skillet and return to medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the onion, garam masala, and ½ teaspoon salt and cook until the onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the rice and garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Stir in the chicken broth and coconut milk, scraping up any browned bits. Nestle the chicken into the rice and bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook until the thickest part of the chicken registers 160 to 165 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, about 10 minutes.

Transfer the chicken to a clean plate, brushing off any rice back into the skillet. Tent the chicken loosely with foil to stay warm. Cover the skillet and continue to cook the rice over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is tender, about 10 minutes.

Off the heat, sprinkle the peas over the rice, cover, and let warm through, about 2 minutes. Add the pistachios and cilantro and gently fold into the rice. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve with the chicken. (Note: we served the pistachios on top instead of mixing them in—just to make sure they kept their crunch.)

Tamale Pie

I love it when Bart cooks! He always makes incredibly delicious meals—like this one. We enjoyed it with a lettuce salad. You can serve the pie with sour cream and/or salsa if desired.

Recipe from The Best Skillet Recipes.

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, minced
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
1 pound 90% lean ground beef
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
4 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded (1 cup)
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro leaves
Ground black pepper

Corn Bread Topping:
¾ cup (3 ¾ ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
¾ cup (3 ¾ ounces) yellow cornmeal
3 tablespoons sugar
¾ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon salt
¾ cup buttermilk
1 large egg
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

For the filling: Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 450°F. Heat the oil in a 12-inch ovenproof skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion, chili powder, and ½ teaspoon salt and cook until the onion is softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until gragrant, about 30 seconds.

Stir in the ground beef, beans, and tomatoes and bring to a simmer, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, about 5 minutes. Off the heat, stir in the cheddar and cilantro and season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside while preparing the topping.

For the cornbread topping: Whisk the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk the buttermilk and egg together. Stir the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture until uniform, then stir in the butter until just combined.

Smooth the filling into an even layer in the skillet. Dollop the corn bread topping evenly over the filling, then spread it into an even layer, covering the filling completely. Bake the pie until the topping is golden and has baked through completely in the center, 15 to 20 minutes (check early—ours was done at 12 minutes). Let the pie cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Halloween Night Tortilla Soup

I love to make soup for Halloween, preferably something thick or creamy. This recipe fits the bill perfectly! And, as an added bonus, it uses lots of food storage items! It can be prepared early in the day and kept in a crock pot on low or warm until serving time. Be aware that this recipe makes a lot – 1 gallon or 8-10 large servings – so the kids can have 1 serving before Trick or Treating, and then another serving to warm them up when they return!

(Sorry no picture. . . Bryant took the camera to Orem for his band competition!)

Leo’s Tortilla Soup (from the Lion House)

2 T. chicken base
4 cups diced canned tomatoes
1 cup canned diced green chilies (or, you can replace tomatoes and chilies with 5 cups Rotel diced tomatoes and chilies)
3 cups diced onions (may use dehydrated; just be sure to re-hydrate them before adding them)
10 cups water
5 cups dried refried beans (available at Bishop’s Storehouse)
2 cups crushed heavy corn tortilla chips (Fritos are best, but any corn tortilla chip will work)
1 T. ground cumin
1 tsp. garlic powder
2/3 cup diced green onion, optional
2/3 cup fresh cilantro, optional
Tortilla chips
Sour Cream

In a large soup pot add chicken base, tomatoes, green chilies, butter, and onions. Cook until onions are translucent. Add water, dried beans, chips, and seasonings. Heat until thickened and beans are soft. Add green onions and cilantro, if desired, about 5 minutes before serving (I just set these ingredients out in bowls for toppings). Garnish with crisp tortilla chips and sour cream. Also good with a sprinkling of shredded cheese on top!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Raspberry Cream Filled Chocolate Fudge Cake

I know I have already posted our "Favorite Fudge Birthday Cake." Here is my latest variation on that recipe. I made two recipes of it--using two 8-inch and two 6-inch round pans (I made a few cupcakes with the extra batter). I sliced each layer in half horizontally, filled each layer with raspberry cream, then coated the cakes with a thin layer of ganache. After that, I put a layer of homemade rolled chocolate fondant on it. The white decorations were done with a 50:50 mixture of gumpaste and white chocolate clay. Everything on it is edible.

I hope Alyssa likes it!

Update: Alyssa loved the cake--it tasted fabulous! The fondant is very delicious.
Following is the recipe:

Chocolate Rolled Fondant
From The Cake Bible
Makes 2 ¾ pounds
(enough to cover a 9-inch x 3-inch cake and a 6-inch x 3-inch cake)

1 tablespoon gelatin
1/3 cup (2 ¾ ounces) water
2/3 cup (7 ½ ounces) corn syrup
1 tablespoon glycerine
¼ cup (1 ¾ ounces) solid white vegetable shortening
1 teaspoon vanilla
6 ¼ cups (1 pound 9 ounces) powdered sugar
2 cups + 2 tablespoons (7 ounces) Dutch-processed unsweetened cocoa

Sprinkle the gelatin over the water in a 2-cup heatproof glass measure or bowl and allow to sit for 5 minutes. Set in a small pan of simmering water and stir until the gelatin is dissolved. (This can also be done in a few seconds in a microwave on high power, stirring once or twice.) Blend in the corn syrup and glycerine, then add the shortening and stir until melted. Remove from the heat and stir in vanilla.

Mix the sugar and cocoa in a large bowl and make a well in the center. Add the gelatin mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until blended. Mix with your hands and knead vigorously in the bowl until it forms a ball. Turn out onto a smooth, lightly greased surface such as Formica or marble, clean your hands, and knead until smooth and satiny. If the fondant seems dry or brittle, add several drops of water and knead well. The water will make it very sticky and messy at first. When the mixture holds together, scrape the counter clean, lightly grease it, and knead the fondant until smooth.

Chocolate Rolled Fondant may be used at once but is easier to work with if made 1 day ahead to give the moisture a chance to distribute evenly. It is important to cover the fondant to prevent drying out. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and place in an airtight container.

When ready to roll out, spray the work surface and rolling pin with nonstick vegetable spray. Don’t be alarmed if tiny cracks appear in the surface of the fondant; the warmth from kneading or pressure from the rolling pin will make it smooth and satiny.

• If the cocoa is lumpy, process it in a food processor for a few seconds until powdery. If lumpy cocoa is used it may not incorporate evenly into the fondant. If this should happen, the chocolate fondant can also be placed in the food processor for a few seconds until completely smooth. Don’t try to process the whole batch at one time.
• Use nonstick vegetable spray to grease the counter, rolling pin, cutters, and hands.
• If stored fondant seems very stiff, a few seconds in the microwave before kneading it will make it pliable.
• Don’t be tempted to substitute butter for the solid white shortening. This is one rare instance where there is no perceivable difference in flavor and the shortening actually blends better (without streaking) than the butter.

Raspberry Cream Filling:

Sorry--I didn't measure when I made this. But it was incredibly delicious. I used some heavy whipping cream (probably about 1 cup), beat it until it started to thicken, then I added some raspberry pie filling (probably about 1-1/2 cups) and beat it until it formed stiff peaks. It held up well in the cake, was a pretty pink color, and really tasted like raspberries with cream.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Bryn asked me to try this recipe that was on my calendar for the month of October. I was skeptical when I saw that it called for 7 eggs! But I did try it, using my whole egg powder, and it turned out just great. I even made great big cookies by putting the dough in pumpkin shaped aluminum pans I purchased at Walmart. I'm planning on giving these to the sisters I visit teach.

1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin (I used butternut squash because that's what I had in the freezer that needed used)
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 cup oil
7 eggs, well beaten
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
4 1/2 cups flour
1 12-oz bag chocolate chips

Mix first 7 ingredients together. In a separate bowl, sift dry ingredients together, stir dry ingredients into pumpkin mixture until well blended. Drop by spoonfuls onto sprayed cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until firm and bottoms are brown. Cool on wire rack.

Soft Sugar Cookies

Okay, so I tried Teresa's sugar cookie recipe from Harriet. It was good, but not quite what I really enjoy. So here is a recipe to try for you all. (Try this one with Bryant and see if it replaces his favorite from Aunt Harriet.) This is a soft cookie and reminds me of the Lofthouse cookies. I don't recommend this recipe if you really want a definite shape to your cookie, but it works great for plain old circles.

1 cup butter or margarine
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp baking soda
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
4 1/2 cups flour (I have better success with about 5 to 5 1/2 cups flour)

Cream sugar and butter, add eggs one at a time, add sour cream and vanilla. Add dry ingredients. Cover and chill for one hour. (My friend says that when she doubles the recipe she needs to chill the dough overnight.) Roll out 1/2 inch thick. Bake at 350 for 10 to 12 minutes. (I have better success baking at 375 and placing the cookies on parchment paper.)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Peanut Butter Muffins

I made these muffins for breakfast today—and we all loved them! Even Alyssa—who sometimes wonders how long this peanut butter kick of mine will continue.

This recipe is from The Ultimate Peanut Butter Book.

¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/3 cup graham cracker crumbs (process about 3-4 whole graham crackers in a food processor to get this amount of crumbs)
1 tablespoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup creamy standard peanut butter (7-1/8 ounces)
2/3 cup sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 large egg plus 1 large egg white, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ cup plus 1 tablespoon milk, preferably low-fat or nonfat

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Lightly spray indentations of a 12-cup muffin tin with nonstick spray; set aside. Whisk the flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside.

Beat the peanut butter, sugar, and butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Beat in the egg, then the egg white, and finally the vanilla until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula and beat in the milk until creamy and light, about 1 minute.

Remove the beaters and stir in the prepared flour mixture with a wooden spoon or a rubber spatula, just until moistened. The batter may still be grainy but no white pockets of flour should be visible. Fill the muffin-tin indentations three-quarters full. (If you have any empty indentations, fill them with water—I had one that was empty).

Bake until golden a toothpick inserted into one of the muffins comes out dry, about 14 to 16 minutes. Remove the muffins from the tin and cool on a rack.

Customize them! Stir 2/3 cup dried cranberries or other fruit, raisins, or semisweet chocolate chips in with the flour. Or add 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon with the vanilla. (I added dried mixed berries--yummy!)

Apple Dumplings

Since Teresa asked where the picture of the apple dumplings was, I thought I'd post my picture and the recipe. Valerie, are you including this recipe in the Yancey cookbook? Bryce thought it was interesting that Paige picked out the apple pieces in the apple pie I made, but she ate the entire apple dumpling. I told him this was no surprise--that's why the apples are shredded. I explained how Mom had to shred the apples so we would eat them as children -- same reason we shred the carrots and potatoes in our hamburger soup. What an eye-opening conversation this was for him!

1 9" two crust pie dough recipe
3 to 4 cups peeled, shredded apples
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 Tbsp butter or margarine

1 cup sugar
2 cups water
3 Tbsp. butter or margarine
1/4 tsp. cinnamon

Make pie dough. (I usually use Kendra's recipe that she says is from the Lion House Cookbook). Combine the sugar and cinnamon. Roll out pie dough thin and cut into 6 approximately 6" squares. In the center of each square place heaping 1/2 cup apples. Sprinkle a spoonful of cinnamon sugar over the apples. Cut the 1 1/2 tbsp butter into six pieces and place one piece of butter on top of apples. Fold the opposite corners of pie dough square up and secure with a toothpick. Place dumplings in a 13"x9" pan. Make the syrup by combining all ingredients and boiling for 3 minutes. Pour syrup over the dumplings. Bake at 425 degrees for 40 minutes.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Southwest Ghost Town Soup

Bart loves to make soups--and this soup is perfect for fall. The butternut squash adds a rich creaminess to the soup that offsets the spices. The garnish is delicious!

1 medium butternut squash (about 4 pounds)
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tablespoons butter
1 can (49-1/2 ounces) chicken broth
3 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Dash pepper
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
2 teaspoons lime juice

Cut the squash in half lengthwise; discard seeds. Place the squash cut side down in a greased shallow baking pan. Bake, uncovered, at 350 F. for 1-1/2 hours or until tender. Cool slightly; scoop out enough pulp to measure 3 cups. Process pulp in food processor. Transfer to a large bowl.

In a small skillet, saute onion in butter until tender. Add seasonings to onion mixture and heat through. Stir in squash and broth. In a blender, process squash mixture in batches until smooth. Transfer to the large saucepan; heat through.

In a small bowl, combine the sour cream, cream, and lime juice. Top each serving with a dollop of sour cream mixture or drizzle cream mixture over soup to form a ghost shape. You can use a toothpick to swirl the dollop of cream into the shape of a ghost if desired.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Bart made these cookies today. We all loved them! He got the recipe from the bag of Gold Medal flour.

1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
2 cups quick-cooking oats
1 1/2 cups unbleached flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped nuts

Heat oven to 350 F. In large bowl, beat brown sugar, butter, vanilla and egg with electric mixer on medium speed until well-blended, or mix with spoon. Add oats, flour, baking soda and salt; mix well. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts.

On ungreased cookie sheets, drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls about 2 inches apart.

Bake 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool slightly; remove from cookie sheets to cooling racks.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Crunchy Caramel Apple Pie

I was experimenting with a new recipe -- trying to decide if I should use this recipe with my Activity Day girls. We loved the recipe. I even made homemade ice cream to go with it. But luckily, I took the picture of the whole pie. With three big slices left, the pie went flying across the kitchen and the pie dish shattered and it was all put in the garbage. Bryce was so sad that he had lost hold of the pie, especially since he liked the pie. He assured me he didn't intentionally drop it because he didn't like it. As a result I came home from Bryant's band competition to a Peanut Butter Silk Pie from Perkins and two new pie plates to make up for the lost pie and pie plate. Now for the recipe:

1 pastry crust for a deep-dish 9" pie
1/2 cup sugar
3 Tbsp flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt
6 cups thinly sliced peeled apples
1 recipe crumb topping
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup caramel topping

Crumb Topping:
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup quick oats
1/2 cup butter

Directions for Crumb Topping:
Stir together brown sugar, flour, rolled oats. Cut in 1/2 cup butter until topping is like course crumbs. Set aside.

Directions for pie:
In a large mixing bowl, stir together the sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt. Add apple slices and gently toss until coated. Transfer apple mixture to the pie shell. Sprinkle crumb topping over apple mixture. Place pie on a cookie sheet so the drippings don't drop into your oven. (I didn't have a problem with this). Cover edges of pie with aluminum foil. Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 25 minutes. Then remove foil and bake another 25 to 30 minutes without foil. Remove from oven. Sprinkle pie with chopped pecans then drizzle with caramel on top. Cool on a wire rack and enjoy warm or at room temperature.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Black Cat Cookies

Alyssa and I had lots of fun making these cookies together. I cut out the circles from the cookie dough, and Alyssa decorated the cookies. The resulting cookies are the perfect combination of crunchy, chewy, and chocolatey.

2 cups sugar
1 cup butter, softened
3 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla
3 cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt

Candy corn
Red cinnamon candies

Combine sugar and butter in large bowl; beat at medium speed until well-mixed. Add 1 egg at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla; beat until well-mixed.

Combine all remaining ingredients except candies in medium bowl. Reduce speed to low; add flour mixture to butter mixture. Beat until well-mixed.

Divide dough in half. Shape each half into a ball; flatten to ½ inch. Wrap each half in plastic food wrap. Refrigerate until firm (at least 2 hours).

Heat oven to 350°F. Roll out dough on lightly floured surface, one-half at a time (keeping remaining dough refrigerated), to ¼-inch thickness. Cut with 3-inch round cookie cutter. Place onto ungreased cookie sheets.

Using fingers, pinch up 2 ears at top of each circle. Place 2 pieces of candy on corn on cookies for eyes and 1 red cinnamon candy for nose. Press tines of fork on each side of cookie below the eyes to form whiskers.

Bake for 7 to 9 minutes or until cookies are set. Let cool 1 minute on cookie sheet; remove to wire cooling rack.

Pumpkin Spice Pancakes

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour (I used whole wheat pastry flour)
¼ cup brown sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of ground ginger
Pinch of ground cloves
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup milk
1 cup canned pumpkin
2 eggs
¼ cup vegetable oil or melted butter

Whisk together flours, salt, spices, sugar, and baking powder in a large bowl.

In a separate bowl, whisk together milks, egg, pumpkin and vegetable oil or melted butter.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and whisk until just combined. Don’t worry if you have a few lumps. You don’t want to over beat the batter—it’ll produce tough pancakes.

Let the batter sit for 10 minutes while you heat the griddle. Once griddle is pre-heated, cook pancakes.

Serve with whipped cream and cinnamon sugar…or maple syrup. Delicious!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Quick Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream

Mom and Dad gave us a big box of apples. So, of course, I had to make apple dumplings! I was too lazy to go to the store to buy ice cream to go with it, and I needed a quicker recipe than our tried and true vanilla ice cream recipe. So I found this recipe. It makes a very smooth and creamy ice cream that is faster to put together than going to the store to buy ice cream (luckily I had all the ingredients I needed at home)!

1 1/2 cups sugar
1 package (3.4 ounces) instant vanilla pudding mix
1 quart heavy whipping cream
2 cups milk (whole milk recommended)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

In a large bowl, whisk together the ice cream ingredients. Fill ice cream freezer cylinder two-thirds full; freeze according to manufacturer's directions. Refrigerate remaining mixture until ready to freeze. Whisk before adding to ice cream freezer (mixture will have some lumps). Put in tightly sealed container to freeze to allow ice cream to ripen.

Italian Alphabet Soup with Cheesy Soup Dippers

This is one of our family's favorite soup recipes! If you have trouble finding the alphabet pasta, look in the Mexican section of the grocery store. The recipe is from Rachael Ray's book: Cooking Rocks! It is in the chapter for kids ages 4-6 to make with a Grown-up Helper.

1 wedge Parmigiano Reggiano cheese with the rind on
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 cup marinara or tomato sauce
5 cups chicken stock
1 cup alphabet pasta
1 cup frozen peas and carrots (or 1 cup frozen mixed vegetables)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 jumbo English muffins, cut open
2 tablespoons butter
Garlic powder
Dried Italian seasoning blend

Shred up lots of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese for topping your bread dippers and for topping your soup. Trim off the rind of the cheese and save it—you will put it into the soup later, which will make the whole soup taste as good as the cheese.

Put 2 tablespoons of olive oil in medium soup hot. Add onions and garlic and stir and cook for 2 to 3 minutes—until onions have softened. Add the tomato sauce and stir, then add the chicken stock. Bring to a boil, add alphabet pasta and cheese rind. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the pasta letters are just tender, 6 to 7 minutes.

While the soup cooks, prepare your cheesy dippers. Spread melted butter on English muffins (or sliced Italian bread). Sprinkle with lots of cheese and some garlic powder and Italian seasoning. Place in oven and bake or broil until cheese has melted. Cut the muffins into 2-inch strips.

When the pasta is about done, add the vegetables and a little pepper (and salt if necessary). Take the cheese rind out of the soup and serve.

Serve bowls of your Italian alphabet soup with a few dippers to dunk and extra grated cheese to sprinkle on top.