Monday, August 31, 2009

Honey Whole Wheat Bread

Bart made this bread today, and it was delicious! He made 4 loaves of bread, but he saved the dough for the 5th loaf for scones to have with dinner. He used fresh ground white wheat. He did add the dough enhancer and the vital wheat gluten. The bread had a fabulous texture and flavor! This recipe is from "The Sister's Cafe" (with some minor adaptations--he added rising time after the dough is mixed).

3 1/2 cups hot tap water (helps offset the cool can of milk)
1 (12oz) can evaporated milk
3 Tbs instant yeast (like SAF)
2/3 cup oil
1 cup honey (use the same measuring glass as the oil and the honey will slide right out)
1 cup white flour
3 Tbs vital wheat gluten
2 Tbs dough enhancer
12 cups whole wheat flour (I used white wheat)
1 1/2 TBs salt

Grind your wheat (in your electric wheat grinder) while getting everything else ready. Then, using a Bosch or other heavy duty mixer, combine ingredients in the order given, mixing well after half the flour, then add the other half of flour and salt. Add a little extra white flour as needed if dough is too sticky. Knead in mixer for 5 to 8 minutes. Place dough in greased bowl and allow to rise until volume has doubled. Press down dough. Divide into 5 loaves. Form each loaf into a log shape and place in a greased medium-sized bread pan. Press down the sides of each dough piece to fill the bottom of the pan, leaving the top round and smooth. Let rise in a warm spot until almost desired bread size. (about 1 hour). Bake in preheated 350 oven for 25-30 minutes. Remove from pans and let loaves cool on wire racks.

Blackberry Cobbler

I tried this recipe for the ward overnighter. I of course changed it up and did half blackberries and half fresh peaches, and don't be too shocked--but I even did it in the dutch oven. It turned out delicious and was the first dessert to be devoured.

6 cups fresh or frozen blackberries
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon grated lime peel

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar, divided
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
7 tablespoons cold butter, divided
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

Place the blackberries in a large bowl. Combine the sugar, cornstarch and lime peel; sprinkle over berries and gently toss to coat. Pour into a greased 9-in. square baking dish.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, 2 tablespoons sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda; cut in 5 tablespoons butter until crumbly. Combine sour cream and heavy cream; gradually add to crumb mixture, tossing with a fork until mixture forms a ball. Roll out to fit top of baking dish; place pastry over filling. Trim and seal edges; cut slits in top. Melt remaining butter; brush over pastry. Sprinkle with remaining sugar.

Bake, uncovered, at 375 for 30 minutes. Cover and bake 15-20 minutes longer or until filling is bubbly and crust is golden brown. Cool for 15 miutes before serving.

EDITORS NOTE: If using frozen blackberries, do no thaw before assembling cobbler.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Molten Lava Cakes

I've been waiting to try a chocolate lava recipe until I found some inexpensive ramekins. Last week, at Pier 1, I found them for $1 each! I bought eight, which was perfect for this recipe. The recipe was easy, delicious, and very rich. Bryant and I researched and reviewed several recipes before choosing this one. We chose this one because it used ingredients we had on hand and didn't contain any liqueur. Be sure to have whipped cream or ice cream on hand to serve it with.

Molten Lava Cakes

1 cup butter
1 1/3 cups semisweet chocolate chips
5 large eggs
1/2 cup sugar
4 teaspoons flour
Whipped cream, optional
Fresh raspberries, optional

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil. Place eight 10-oz. ramekins on the foil-lined cookie sheet; generously butter each ramekin. In a 4-cup container, melt butter and chocolate chips in microwave, stirring frequently. In an 8-cup container, beat eggs and sugar. Add melted mixture, stir well. Add flour, stir until just combined. Pour into the eight greased ramekins. Bake 8-10 minutes (mine took 12-13 minutes); cakes will puff but centers will still jiggle. Remove from oven and let cool for several minutes. Run a knife around the edges of the ramekin, place small dessert plate on top of ramekin, and turn plate and ramekin over to carefully remove cake from ramekin. Garnish as desired. Serve and enjoy!

Mexican-Style Charcoal Grilled Corn

If you still have some corn on the cob left, try this recipe. Bart was enjoying it so much last night for dinner that he was completely oblivious to everything else. Grilling the corn gives it a deeper roasted corn flavor, and the seasoning adds just the right amount of spice. You can prepare this on a gas grill by turning all burners to high and heating grill with lid down until very hot, about 15 minutes. Proceed with recipe as indicated, leaving burners on high and cooking corn with lid down.

Vegetable oil for cooking grate
1/4 cup regular or light mayonnaise
3 tablespoons sour cream
3 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro leaves
1 medium garlic clove , minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1 teaspoon)
3/4 teaspoon chili powder (divided)
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
4 teaspoons juice from 1 lime
1 ounce Pecorino Romano cheese , grated (about 1/2 cup) OR 1 ounce crumbled queso fresco or Cotija
4 teaspoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt or 1/4 teaspoon table salt
6 large ears corn , husks and silk removed

1. Light large chimney starter filled with charcoal (6 quarts, about 100 briquettes) and allow to burn until coals are fully ignited and partially covered with thin layer of ash, about 20 minutes. Arrange all coals in even layer over half of grill, leaving other half empty. Position cooking grate over coals, cover grill, and heat grate until hot, about 5 minutes; scrape grate clean with grill brush. Dip wad of paper towels in vegetable oil; holding wad with tongs, wipe cooking grate.

2. While grill is heating, combine mayonnaise, sour cream, cilantro, garlic, ¼ teaspoon chili powder, black pepper, cayenne (if using), lime juice, and cheese in large bowl; set aside. In second large bowl, combine oil, salt, and remaining ½ teaspoon chili powder; add corn and toss until coated evenly.

3. Grill corn over coals, turning occasionally, until lightly charred on all sides, 7 to 12 minutes total. Remove from grill and place in bowl with mayonnaise mixture; toss to coat evenly. Serve immediately.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Penne with Cherry Tomatoes, Basil, and Mozzarella

Every year we look forward to when our cherry tomatoes are ripe—primarily so that we can make this dish. You can eat it like we do while the pasta is hot and the sauce is room temperature. Or you can serve it all cold—toss the tomatoes and pasta while still hot, then set them aside until you’re ready to serve it. Finish the pasta by tossing in the basil and mozzarella cheese and serve.

1 pound ripe and juicy cherry tomatoes (the ones on the vine are the best—garden grown is preferable), rinsed, dried, and cut in half
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling over the finished pasta if you like
1 teaspoon sea salt, preferably coarse (the larger salt crystal helps to draw more liquid out of the tomatoes which makes more juice to use as sauce for the pasta)
Pinch crushed hot red pepper
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1 pound penne pasta
10 fresh basil leaves, shredded
½ pound bocconcini (bite-size fresh mozzarella, cut in half—or use cubed fresh mozzarella)

Toss the tomatoes, oil, sea salt, and crushed red pepper together in a large bowl. Whack the garlic with the side of a knife and toss it into the bowl. Let marinate at room temperature, tossing once or twice, for 30 minutes.

While the tomatoes are marinating, bring 6 quarts of salted water to a boil in an 8-quart pot over high heat.

Stir the penne into the boiling water. Return to a boil, stirring frequently. Cook the pasta, semi-covered, stirring occasionally, until done, 10 to 12 minutes.

Remove the garlic from the marinated tomatoes and toss in the basil. Drain the pasta, add it to the bowl, and toss well to mix. Check the seasoning, adding salt and more crushed red pepper if necessary. Gently stir in the bocconcini and serve.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Raspberry-Chocolate Mousse Chocolate Cake

By now I’m sure you all realize that my family loves dark chocolate. Thus, this cake that I made for my birthday was a big hit! Ganache is my favorite way to frost chocolate cakes—you get an intense chocolate kick without the super sweet sugary feel of typical frosting. The raspberry-chocolate mousse in the middle also had a dark chocolate flavor with just a hint of raspberry. The original recipe from King Arthur Flour’s Baking Sheet used a different chocolate cake recipe, but I used their recipe for Favorite Fudge Birthday Cake instead because it is super easy to make and always turns out very moist, fudgy, and delicious.

Favorite Fudge Birthday Cake

2 cups (14 ounces) sugar
2 cups (8 1/2 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
2 tablespoons (3/8 ounce) Instant ClearJel® or cornstarch
3/4 cup (2 1/4 ounces) Double-Dutch Dark Cocoa or Dutch-process cocoa
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons espresso 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°F. Lightly grease and flour (or grease, then line with parchment, then grease again, or use Baker’s Joy) two 8" x 2" round cake pans. Note: These pans need to be at least 2" tall; if you have non-standard, shorter 8" pans, substitute 9" round pans.

Whisk together the dry ingredients. Add the eggs, oil, and vanilla, beating until smooth. Gradually add the water, beating until smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared pans.

Bake the cakes for 25 to 35 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool the cakes in the pan for 15 minutes, then turn them out of the pans to cool completely on a rack.

Raspberry-Chocolate Mousse

2 cups (16 ounces) heavy cream
½ cup (3 ½ ounces) granulated sugar
1 cup (6 ounces) coarsely chopped unsweetened baking chocolate, melted and cooled (I would recommend using bittersweet instead of unsweetened)
1 pint (8 ½ ounces) fresh red raspberries

Place heavy cream and sugar in a large mixing bowl and whisk on medium-high for 2 minutes until firm peaks form. Add 1 ½ cups of the whipped cream to the cooled, melted chocolate and use a rubber spatula to fold together until thoroughly combined. Add the combined whipped cream and chocolate to the remaining whipped cream and mix on medium-high for 30 seconds. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl, add the raspberries, and mix on medium for another 10 seconds. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Chocolate Ganache

12 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips
9 ounces heavy cream

Place chocolate and cream in a medium microwaveable bowl. Microwave on high for about 2 minutes, until chocolate starts to melt, then whisk until smooth. Cool to room temperature. Be patient—this takes a long time to cool. The ganache will be very thin at first, but then will gradually thicken into a spreading consistency. Don’t try to speed up this process by putting the ganache in the fridge—it will set up too firmly and be more like fudge than icing.

Raspberry Sauce

2 cups (10 ounces) frozen whole raspberries (Note: I used a 12 ounce package that I thawed before using.)
2 teaspoons cornstarch (Note: I used 2 teaspoons cornstarch and 2 teaspoons Instant ClearJel)
¼ cup (1 ¾ ounces) granulated sugar (I used 1/3 cup since I increased the amount of berries)

Mix sugar and cornstarch together in a small saucepan. Add thawed raspberries. Cook over medium heat; bring to a boil to thicken. Remove from heat and strain the mixture to remove seeds.

To assemble the cake:

Set aside 1 cup of the mousse for decorating the cake. Trim the tops of the cake layers if necessary to remove any dome. Put one layer, cut-side down, on a serving plate. Line the plate with waxed paper or parchment to keep it clean while you assemble the cake. Fill the cake layers with the remaining mousse. Refrigerate the cake to set the mousse while you make the ganache.

Once the ganache has reached room temperature, pour it over the cake and use an offset spatula to smooth over the top and sides. Refrigerate the cake for 15 or more minutes to set the ganache.

Once the ganache is firm, pipe rosettes of reserved mousse (use a large, open star tip so the raspberry bits won’t clog the tip) around the outer edge of the top of the cake; make sure the edges of the rosettes touch each other. If you have enough mousse left, you can also pipe a border around the lower edge of the cake. Pour the raspberry sauce on the top of the cake, and spread it all the way to the rosettes with a small offset spatula.

Decorate the top of the cake with extra fresh raspberries if desired. Refrigerate the finished cake until ready to serve.

General Tso’s Chicken with Chinese-Style Rice

I’m excited to share my birthday dinner with you! Bart made me General Tso’s Chicken, Chinese-Style Sticky Rice, and Sesame Green Beans. All of the recipes came from Cook's Country. It was a fabulous meal! The chicken is extremely flavorful. It does take a fair amount of time to make, so plan ahead if possible. The fried chicken pieces can be held in a 200°F. oven for up to 30 minutes before being added to the sauce (if held any longer, they will lose their crispness). If the sauce is too thick in step 5, whisk in 1 tablespoon of water before adding the crispy chicken.

Serves 4 (generously)

Marinade and Sauce
1/2 cup hoisin sauce
1/4 cup white vinegar
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2 cups water
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 pounds) cut into 1-inch pieces
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
4 garlic cloves , minced
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Coating and Frying
3 large egg whites
1 1/2 cups cornstarch
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
4 cups vegetable oil

1. For the marinade and sauce: Whisk hoisin, vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, cornstarch, and water in bowl. Combine 6 tablespoons hoisin mixture and chicken in zipper-lock bag; refrigerate for 30 minutes.

2. Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Cook garlic, ginger, and pepper flakes until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add 2 cups hoisin mixture and simmer, whisking constantly, until dark brown and thickened, about 2 minutes. Cover and keep sauce warm.

3. For coating and frying: Whisk egg whites in shallow dish until foamy. Combine cornstarch, flour, baking soda, and remaining hoisin mixture in second shallow dish until mixture resembles coarse meal. Remove chicken from marinade and pat dry with paper towels. Toss half of chicken with egg whites until well coated, then dredge chicken in cornstarch mixture, pressing to adhere. Transfer coated chicken to plate and repeat with remaining chicken.

4. Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat until oil registers 350 degrees. Fry half of chicken until golden brown, about 3 minutes, turning each piece halfway through cooking. Transfer chicken to paper towel-lined plate. Return oil to 350 degrees and repeat with remaining chicken.

5. To serve: Warm sauce over medium-low heat until simmering, about 1 minute. Add crispy chicken and toss to coat. Serve.

Chinese-Style Sticky Rice

Do not stir the rice as it cooks. The finished rice can stand off heat, covered, for up to 15 minutes.

2 cups long-grain white rice
3 cups water
½ teaspoon salt

1. Place rice in fine-mesh strainer set over bowl. Rinse under running water, swishing with hands until water runs clear. Drain thoroughly.
2. Bring rinsed rice, water, and salt to boil in saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook, uncovered, until water level drops below surface of rice and small holes form, about 5 minutes.
3. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook until rice is tender and water is fully absorbed, about 15 minutes. Serve.

Sesame Green Beans

These green beans are a perfect accompaniment to an Asian-themed meal. My favorite way to cook with green beans is to start with them fresh—that way you end up with a crisp texture that I find delicious. I usually cook the beans a little less time than the recipe indicates to make sure I don’t lose that wonderful crispness.

2 teaspoons sesame seeds
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons honey
4 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 pound green beans, trimmed
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
3 scallions, sliced thin

1. Toast sesame seeds in large skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 5 minutes. Transfer to plate. Whisk soy sauce and honey in small bowl.
2. Heat oil in empty skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Cook beans until bright green, about 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until beans are spotty brown and tender, about 10 minutes (I usually stop mine at 7 minutes).
3. Uncover, stir in soy sauce mixture, and cook until beans are glazed, about 1 minute. Off heat, stir in vinegar, sesame oil, and scallions. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds. Serve.

Makes 4 servings.

Potato Stuffing

Here's another recipe using potatoes from Mom and Dad's garden. Bryce and I liked it, but my older three children wouldn't eat it. Erica ate it, though she said "hot, hot" after every bite of sausage. I even used Mild Italian Sausage. The recipe originally called for stuffing a chicken with the potato stuffing, but I didn't have a chicken or feel like stuffing one. So this is just the potato stuffing part.

6 medium red potatoes, cut into 1" cubes
1 pound Italian sausage
1 cup finally chopped onion
1 tablespoon butter
2 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Cook the potatoes in boiling salted water until almost tender; drain and set aside. Cook the sausage in boiling water for 10 minutes; drain. Halve each sausage lengthwise, then cut into 1/2" pieces.
In a large skillet (large is the operative word here)over medium heat, cook potatoes, sausage and onion in butter until sausage is browned and onion is tender. Add herbs and seasonings. Place the stuffing in a greased 2 quart baking dish; cover and bake 45 minutes at 350 degrees.

Zucchini Cupcakes

I've been using some of Mom and Dad's great fresh garden produce. Here's a yummy recipe.

3 eggs
1 1/3 cups sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup orange juice
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 cups shredded zucchini

Caramel Frosting:
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 to 2 cups powdered sugar

In a mixing bowl, beat egg, sugar, oil, orange juice and extract. Combine dry ingredients; add to the egg mixture and mix well. Add zucchini and mix well. Fill grease or paper-lined muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes or until cupcakes test done. Cool for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack. For frosting, combine brown sugar, butter and milk in a saucepan; bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook and stir for 2 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla. Cool to lukewarm. Gradually beat in powdered sugar until frosting reaches spreading consistency. Frost cupcakes. Yield: 1 1/2 to 2 dozen

Artie’s Awesome Burgers

Recipe from the Shrek Cookbook.

1 pound lean ground beef
½ small onion
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 teaspoon mustard (optional but recommended)
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (optional but recommended)
1 egg yolk (optional but recommended)
1 garlic clove (optional but recommended)

Roughly chop the onion and garlic and finely blend them. Put them in a bowl and add the beef, Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, mustard, and egg yolk. Season with salt and pepper and mix together, using your hands.

Use your hands to shape the mixture into 4 to 6 equal-sized balls. Pat each ball down to make a flat burger shape. Put the burgers on a plate, cover them with plastic wrap, and chill for 30 minutes in the fridge.

Grill the burgers for 2 to 3 minutes per side, or as desired.

Serve on buns with cheese, tomatoes, pickles, lettuce, etc.

Ogre Shake

Recipe from the Shrek Cookbook.

1 scoop vanilla ice cream
2 tablespoon honey
½ cup milk
¼ cup natural plain yogurt
3 ounces chocolate cookies (Oreos)
2 teaspoons cocoa powder

Break all the cookies into small pieces and put them in a blender. Next, add the honey, milk, yogurt, and ice cream and blend the ingredients for about 1 minute. Once all of the ingredients are blended, the shake should be evenly mixed and creamy. Pour it into tall glasses and serve!

Makes 2 servings.

Marvelous Muffins

Recipe from the Shrek Cookbook.

2 ½ cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup sugar
1 egg
1 ¼ cups whole milk
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
5 ounces (1 cup) chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl and then stir in the sugar.

Crack the egg into a separate bowl and add the oil. Beat the egg and oil until they are light and fluffy. Add the milk and whisk the mixture.

Gently fold the egg mixture into the flour mixture. The mixture will be lumpy but no flour should be visible. Then fold in the chocolate chips (you can also add some fruit such as raspberries or blueberries with the chips).

Spray muffin tins with Baker’s Joy and spoon or scoop the mixture into the tins.

Bake the muffins for about 18 minutes, or until risen and golden.

Remove the muffins from the oven and, as soon as muffins are cool enough, remove them from the tin to a wire rack.

Makes about 12 muffins.

Captain Hook’s Fish Cakes

Recipe from the Shrek Cookbook.

8 ounces potatoes (peeled and chopped)
Salt and pepper
2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley
12 ounces canned tuna (drained)
¾ cup flour
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 eggs (beaten)
1 green onion (finely chopped)
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 ½ cups bread crumbs
1 cup vegetable oil

Half-fill the saucepan with water. Add the potatoes and a pinch of salt. Bring the water to a boil and cook for about 12 to 15 minutes, or until soft.

Thoroughly drain the potatoes and put them back in the saucepan. Mash the potatoes and leave them until cool enough to handle.

Break the tuna into small pieces in a bowl. Stir in the potatoes, mustard, scallion, and parsley until they are all fully mixed in. Add a little salt and pepper and one beaten egg.

Lightly dust your hands with flour and shape the mixture into 8 cakes. Place the fishcakes on a plate, cover with plastic wrap, and chill for 30 minutes.

Put the flour and bread crumbs on separate plates. Coat each chilled fish cake in flour, beaten egg, and then bread crumbs.

Heat the oil in a deep nonstick pan. Over medium heat, shallow-fry the fish cakes for 2 minutes on each side, or until golden. Put them on a plate lined with paper towels to drain any excess oil.

Donkey Dippers

Recipe from the Shrek Cookbook.

Tzatziki:1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
½ cucumber
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
Salt and pepper
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 cup plain yogurt

Salsa:1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
1-2 drops of hot sauce
2-3 pinches of sugar
12 cherry tomatoes (quartered)
3 scallions (trimmed and finely chopped)
Salt and pepper

For dipping:Tortilla chips

To make the tzatziki, first remove the seeds from the cucumber using a teaspoon. Next, carefully grate the cucumber into a small bowl. Wrap the cucumber in a clean tea towel and firmly squeeze out any excess moisture. Finally, mix together the grated cucumber, yogurt, lemon juice, mint, and garlic in a bowl and season with salt and pepper.

To make the salsa, put all the ingredients for the salsa in a bowl and mix them together. You can add more or less hot sauce to suite your own taste buds. The dronkies like their salsa really spicy so they add lots of hot sauce.

Molten Lava Soup

Recipe from the Shrek Cookbook.

1 onion
2 carrots
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves (peeled and crushed)
2 tablespoons flour
1 (28 ounce) can chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
4 cups vegetable (or chicken) stock
2 pinches sugar
2 squeezes of lemon juice
Ground black pepper

Peel and dice the onion and carrot. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat.

Add the onion and carrot to the pan and cook them for about 5 minutes to soften, stirring occasionally. Stir in the garlic and the flour and cook the mixture for 1 minute.

Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, stock, sugar, and lemon juice and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 20 – 25 minutes. Take the soup off the heat and leave it to cool.

Ladle the soup into a blender, season with pepper, and blend until smooth. Pour the soup back into the pan and bring to a simmer.

Ladle the soup into bowls and serve with warm, toasted bread.

Deep-Fried Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

Recipe from Take this Dish and Twist It by George Duran

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
1 ½ cups packed brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup pasteurized egg (Egg Beaters)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 (12 ounce) package chocolate chips (2 cups)
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ cup pasteurized egg
¾ cup seltzer water or club soda, plus more if needed
Vegetable oil for frying

For the dough: In a bowl, stir together the 2 ½ cups flour, the baking soda, and salt; set aside. In a mixing bowl beat the butter with an electric or hand mixer until it is lighter in color. Add the brown sugar and the ½ cup granulated sugar; beat until light and fluffy. Add the egg half at a time and beat until incorporated. Stir in the vanilla. Beat in the flour mixture, then stir in the chocolate chips.

For each cookie, roll 2 teaspoons of the dough into a ball. Put the balls on a cookie sheet. Freeze for 30 minutes or until firm.

For the batter, in a large bowl whisk together the 2 cups flour, 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, and baking powder. Add the egg and half the seltzer; whisk to combine. Add more seltzer as needed until the batter is the consistency of heavy cream.

In a deep-fat fryer heat the oil to 375 F. Dip the chilled dough balls in the batter, then carefully place them in the hot oil. Fry, a few at a time, for 2 to 3 minutes o r until golden brown, turning them over from time to time. Drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve warm.

Artichoke Tuna Salad

Recipe from Take this Dish and Twist It by George Duran

2 (6-ounce) cans solid white tuna (water pack), drained
1 cup mayonnaise
4 canned artichoke hearts, drained, squeezed, and chopped
2 green onions (white and green parts), chopped
2 tablespoons snipped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (plus more to taste, if desired)
6 dashes bottled hot pepper sauce
Kosher salt or table salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

In a medium bowl combine all the ingredients and mix well. Taste and adjust the seasonings.

Serving suggestions: Eat on its own or with lettuce and tomato. Use as a sandwich filling for your favorite bread. Make an open-face tuna melt by spreading the tuna mixture on bread, topping with cheese, and broiling for a few minutes. Or mound the tuna salad on cooked slices of eggplant or Portobello mushrooms for a breadless sandwich.

Orange Croissant French Toast

Recipe from Take This Dish and Twist It by George Duran.

3 eggs
¼ cup milk
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon orange zest
2 to 3 tablespoons butter
12 small croissants or 6 large croissants, cut in half lengthwise
Powdered sugar
Orange zest (optional)
Honey (optional)

In a shallow dish beat the eggs with the milk, sugar, 1 teaspoon zest, and orange juice. In a nonstick skillet or electric griddle melt 1 tablespoon of the butter over medium-low heat. Dip the croissant slices into the egg mixture until well-coated. Cook in hot butter about 3 minutes per side or until golden brown. Work in batches, adding more butter as necessary. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. If desired, garnish with additional orange zest and serve with honey. (Note: we enjoyed ours just with the powdered sugar garnish. Maple syrup was good with it, too.)

Quick-Fix Pasta e Fagioli

Bart made this for dinner recently—and it was a huge hit! Joshua actually went back for thirds (that is unheard of!). Alyssa and Joshua both requested that we pack the leftovers in their lunch. This reminds me of the “Cowgirl Delight” we had while growing up—except it has beans and fresh herbs added.

Recipe from Robin Rescues Dinner by Robin Miller.

8 ounces small shell-shaped pasta
2 teaspoons olive oil
½ cup chopped onion
8 ounces ground beef
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 (15-ounce) can white beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15-ounce) can pink beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups reduced-sodium beef broth
1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce (Note: Bart used a 15-ounce can and just simmered it a little longer)
1 to 2 teaspoons hot sauce, to taste
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil (don’t skip this—it adds a great fresh flavor)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook for 3 minutes, or until soft. Add the beef and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, until browned, breaking up the meat as it cooks. Add the oregano and cook for 1 minute, or until the oregano is fragrant. Add both types of beans, the broth, tomato sauce, and hot sauce and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 5 minutes.

Stir in the pasta and cook for 2 minutes to heat through. Remove from the heat and stir in the basil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Ladle the mixture into bowls and top with Parmesan cheese.

Serves 4 to 6.

Chocolate-Coconut Biscotti

If you've never tried biscotti before, now is a great time to begin. This is one of our favorite biscotti recipes. We usually don't dip them in chocolate--the cookies are great just like they are. Bart and Joshua like to dip their biscotti in milk or cocoa, but Alyssa and I enjoy the crunch of them dry. This recipe is from The King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion.

6 tablespoons (3 ounces) butter
2/3 cup (4 3/4 ounces) sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 large eggs
2 cups (8 1/2 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup (3 ½ ounces, packed) shredded sweetened coconut
1 cup (6 ounces) chocolate chips or chopped semisweet or bittersweet chocolate
1 ¾ cups (10 ½ ounces) semisweet chocolate chips or bittersweet chocolate chunks, melted, for dipping (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease (or line with parchment) one large (about 18" x 13") baking sheet.

In a medium-sized bowl, beat the butter, sugar, salt, vanilla, and baking powder until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Beat in the eggs; the batter may look slightly curdled. At low speed of your mixer, add the flour, coconut, and 1 cup chocolate chips, stirring until smooth; the dough will be sticky.

Plop the dough onto the prepared baking sheet. Shape it into a log that’s about 14" long x 2 ½" wide x ¾" thick. Straighten the log, and smooth its top and sides; a wet spatula, wet bowl scraper, or wet hands works well here. Note: For extra-long, bistro-style biscotti, pat the dough into a lightly greased 12" x 5 1/2" biscotti pan.

Bake the dough for 25 minutes. Remove it from the oven, and allow it to cool on the pan anywhere from 10 to 25 minutes; just work it into the schedule of whatever else you’re doing in the kitchen. Using a spray bottle filled with room-temperature water, lightly but thoroughly spritz the log, making sure to cover the sides as well as the top. Softening the crust just this little bit will make slicing the biscotti much easier.

Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F. Wait another 5 minutes, then use a serrated knife to cut the log crosswise into 1⁄2" to 3⁄4" slices. Or cut the biscotti on the diagonal—for fewer, longer biscotti. As you’re slicing, be sure to cut straight up and down, perpendicular to the pan; if you cut unevenly, biscotti may be thicker at the top than the bottom, and they’ll topple over during their second bake.

Set the biscotti on edge (standing upright) on the prepared baking sheet. Return the biscotti to the oven, and bake them for about 25 minutes, till they feel very dry and are beginning to turn golden. They’ll still feel a tiny bit moist in the very center, if you break off a piece; but they’ll continue to dry out as they cool. Remove the biscotti from the oven, and transfer them to a rack to cool.

Dip half of each finished, cooled biscotto (or the front or back) in the melted chocolate, if desired. Place the dipped biscotti on a rack set over a piece of parchment or plastic wrap (to catch drips), and allow the chocolate to set before serving.

Yield: 3 dozen 3 1⁄2" biscotti, when cut crosswise. Or about 1 1/2 dozen biscotti cut on the diagonal; the exact yield will depend upon just how much of a slant you cut them on.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Georgia Peach Chicken Sandwiches

We first tried this recipe a year ago after seeing it in the magazine Every Day with Rachael Ray. Bart and I absolutely loved it and have been craving it. Alyssa and Joshua didn't remember it. They both enjoyed it this time, though. After dinner Joshua thanked me, commenting with surprise that he didn't think the combination sounded appetizing but it was actually very delicious. If you can get some fresh peaches, this is a great way to use some of them. The combination of spicy/sweet and crunchy/soft is fabulous!

• 1 pound chicken breast cutlets
• 1 cup buttermilk
• 1/2 cup mayonnaise
• 3 tablespoons finely chopped pickled jalapeño chiles (I LOVE the spice of the jalapeño chiles, but you can substitute chopped dill pickles if desired)
• 1/2 cup pecans, finely ground
• 1/2 cup bread crumbs
• 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil (I used peanut oil to fry the chicken cutlets in)
• 4 kaiser rolls, split (I used homemade Beautiful Burger Buns)
• 1 peach, thinly sliced
• 8 green-leaf lettuce leaves

1. In a medium bowl, combine the chicken and buttermilk. In a small bowl, stir together the mayonnaise and pickled jalapeños.
2. In a shallow bowl, combine the pecans and bread crumbs. Working with one piece at a time, remove the chicken cutlets from the buttermilk, letting the excess drip off, and coat with the pecan mixture.
3. In a large skillet, heat the olive (or peanut) oil over medium heat (I used an electric skillet). Add the cutlets and cook, turning once, until golden-brown, about 2 minutes on each side. Drain on paper towels.
4. Spread the jalapeño mayonnaise on the cut sides of each kaiser roll. Assemble sandwiches with the chicken, peach and lettuce.

Chocolate Chip Crumb Cake Muffins

Eventually we will meet our new neighbors. We made a batch of cinnamon rolls to bring over to them the evening after they moved in. Just as we were leaving our house, the neighbors drove away. This morning we made a batch of muffins to share with them--and once again, they were gone. But that's okay--we enjoyed the muffins. The crumb topping on these muffins adds a nice crunch to the muffin. The mufffins themselves are much more like a cupcake than a muffin.

¼ cup packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature, cut into pieces
1/3 cup mini chocolate chips

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup (1 stick) butter
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 ¼ cups sour cream (may use plain yogurt for part of sour cream)

Heat the oven to 375°F. Line muffin tins with paper liners or spray with Baker’s Joy.

To make the topping: In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon and mix on low speed. Add the butter and mix on low speed until crumbly. The mixture will look sandy at first and then will bind into crumbs. This may take several minutes, so keep mixing until larger crumbs form. Add the chocolate chips and mix just until they are dispersed. (You can make this topping in advance and keep it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.)

To make the muffins: Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl, and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer (no need to wash the bowl after making the topping) fitted with the whip attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until it is light and fluffy; then add the sugar and mix well. Mix in the eggs, one at a time, and then mix in the vanilla. Add a third of the dry ingredients and mix until barely combined. Then mix in a third of the sour cream. Repeat until all the dry ingredients and sour cream are added and mixed until just combined. Scoop the batter into the lined muffin tins, filling them about halfway (or slightly more).

Spoon the topping onto the tops of the muffins. Bake until the muffins are cooked through and the topping is golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes 12-24 muffins (depending on size).

Ultimate Chocolate Milkshake

Okay--I know you can make a chocolate milk shake with just chocolate ice cream and milk. But sometime, when you're feeling adventurous, try this version of a chocolate milkshake. It is thick, creamy, and perfectly chocolately. The only tricky part is finding the chocolate sorbet--we have the best luck finding it at Albertsons. We made this to go with our Baked Mini Corn Dogs--what a festive summer menu!

Recipe from Cook's Country.

3 cups vanilla ice cream, cut into large chunks
1 1/2 cups (1 container) chocolate sorbet, cut into large chunks (I just peel off the cardboard wrapping from the Haagen-Dazs sorbet)
1/2 cup whole milk (yes--you do need to buy some whole milk for this)
2 tablespoons hot fudge sauce, at room temperature

Combine all ingredients in food processor or blender and puree until smooth, scraping down sides as needed. Pour into chilled glasses. Serve.

Makes 4 servings.

Baked Mini Corn Dogs

This is a great way to make corn dogs without all the grease of frying them. I also think these corn dogs are really cute. We had fun making these together as a family--we worked together to cut the hot dogs, insert the skewers, roll the dough balls into ropes, and wrap the dough ropes around the mini hot dogs. This recipe is from Food Network Magazine. I actually goofed on making the dough and I added one beaten egg to the dough (I had to beat another egg to use to brush on the top of the dough as indicated in the recipe). It worked the way I did it--although I'm sure it would work if you make it the way the recipe states.

• 1 cup reduced-fat milk
• 1 package active dry yeast
• 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for greasing
• 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
• 1 cup fine yellow cornmeal
• 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting and kneading
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper or paprika
• 9 reduced-fat hot dogs, halved crosswise
• 1 large egg, beaten
• 1 tablespoon black sesame seeds (optional)
Warm the milk to about 110 degrees in a saucepan; pour into a medium bowl. Sprinkle in the yeast and let soften for about 2 minutes. Stir in the olive oil, brown sugar and cornmeal with a wooden spoon. Add the flour, salt, baking soda and cayenne pepper; stir to make a sticky dough.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead, adding more flour if needed, until smooth but still slightly tacky, about 5 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball, place in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Meanwhile, insert a wooden stick or small skewer into each hot dog half, about 1 inch deep; set aside.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and lightly oil a large baking sheet. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface; divide into 18 pieces. With your palms, roll each piece into a 10-inch length. Wrap each piece around a hot dog half, tucking and pressing the edges to seal; place on the baking sheet.

Brush the dough-wrapped dogs with the beaten egg; sprinkle with sesame seeds, if desired. Bake until golden, 15 minutes (check them early--mine were done at about 12 minutes).

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Cookies

Bryn, Paige, Logan, and I all entered the oatmeal cookie contest at the Bannock County Fair this week. Logan was the only one to get a ribbon and he got first place with this recipe. I did the measuring and Logan dumped all the ingredients together and did much of the stirring and spooning onto the waxed paper. He did so great!!!

2 cups sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup cocoa
1/4 cup butter
3/4 cup peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups quick oats

Combine the first 4 ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes, stirring often (or constantly so it doesn't burn). Remove from heat and add peanut butter and vanilla, stirring to dissolve. Stir in quick oats, mix well. Spoon onto waxed paper and let cool to set up. (We used a cookie scoop so the cookies would be as similar in size and shape as Logan could get them).

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Microwave Chicken Curry

I love eating Indian food, but my mom rarely makes it, so I decided to learn how to make one of my favorite meals myself. This Microwave Chicken Curry is one of the easiest meals I've ever made, yet turned out entirely gourmet! My entire family loved it, and they all want me to make it again.

3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons Indian curry paste
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts cut into strips
2 (13.5-ounce) cans unsweetened coconut milk
2 tablespoons soy sauce
½ bunch fresh basil, snipped (about ¼ cup)
½ bunch fresh cilantro, snipped (about ¼ cup)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Hot steamed rice (we had Indian-Spiced Rice Pilaf with Dates using basmati rice)
1 green onion, thinly sliced
Crushed pink peppercorns (optional—we didn’t use them)

In a large microwave-safe dish with a cover mix together the oil and curry paste. Microwave (covered) on high (100% power) for 3 minutes. Stir in the chicken; cover and microwave on medium (50% power) for 8 minutes.

Stir in the coconut milk, soy sauce, basil, and cilantro; season with salt and pepper. Cover and microwave on medium (50% power) for 4 minutes. Stir the mixture again, cover, and let stand for 3 or 4 minutes. Serve over rice and garnish with paprika and green onion. If desired, sprinkle with crushed peppercorns.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Cream Cheese and Raspberry Coffee Cake

I was planning on making this coffee cake during our family reunion, but since I didn't make it there I decided to share this cake with you via our recipe blog. It was fun to make it at home--I had all the dry ingredients pre-measured for the campout, so it was very quick to put together. The cake is divine--very tender, delicious raspberry flavor, and the sprinkle of powdered sugar on top sets it off just right. Hope you enjoy it!


1(8-ounce package)cream cheese or reduced-fat cream cheese (Neufchatel), softened*
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened*
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup seedless raspberry preserves
Sifted powdered sugar


1. In a large mixing bowl beat cream cheese, granulated sugar, and butter or margarine with an electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy. Add half of the flour, the eggs, milk, vanilla, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Beat for about 2 minutes or until well mixed. Beat in remaining flour on low speed until well mixed. Spread batter evenly in a greased and floured 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Spoon preserves in 8 to 10 portions on top of batter. With a knife, swirl preserves into batter to marble.

2. Bake in a 350 degree F oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until a wooden toothpick comes out clean. Cool slightly on a wire rack. Sift powdered sugar atop. Cut into squares; serve warm. Garnish with fresh mint and raspberries, if desired. Makes 24 servings.

*Note: Do not use fat-free cream cheese; also, use real butter or margarine, not a spread.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Chinese Chicken Salad

This is one of the salads Kendra made for the night before our family reunion started this year. It was incredible, and I'm so glad she gave me a copy of the recipe. Bart especially loved it, so he made it the first chance he got--for dinner tonight. It's a refreshing spin on a main-dish pasta salad.

1/3 cup rice vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons dark sesame oil
2 tablespoons salad (vegetable) oil
½ teaspoon black pepper (freshly ground preferred)
2 packages (9-ounces each) cheese tortellini, cooked, drained, and rinsed with cold water
2-3 cups cooked and shredded chicken (from a rotisserie or roasted chicken)
1 cup snow pea pods, sliced lengthwise into thin strips
1 can (8 ounces) sliced water chestnuts, drained and coarsely chopped
¼ cup thinly sliced green onions (slice on a diagonal)
1/3 cup toasted slivered almonds
3 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted

To make the dressing, combine vinegar, sugar and salt. Mix until sugar has dissolved. Stir in sesame oil, vegetable oil and pepper. Whip until thickened.

Combine pasta, chicken, snow peas, water chestnuts, green onions, and dressing in large salad bowl, toss well. Chill. Sprinkle with almonds and sesame seeds before serving. Toss. Makes about 8 cups (or 4 to 6 entrée servings).

Oatmeal Cookie Pancakes

I have lots of blessings I am grateful for--one of which is a husband who loves to cook (and is great at it, too!). I printed this recipe after seeing it on a food blog I recently discovered. Bart found my printed copy and made this for our breakfast this morning. He had the batter ready to go onto the griddle by the time I got home from work. The blog I found the recipe on is Check out her blog sometime--she has great recipes and fun introductions to the recipes. Especially check out her introduction for the following two recipes--they're really cute:

In the oatmeal cookie pancakes intro, she writes a letter to her future husband and children. With the sweet-and-spicy-almonds she contemplates old age in a unique way. She gives a great description of these pancakes, so I'll just quote her:

"What could go wrong when fluffy pancakes meet oatmeal raisin cookies? Nothing, just sheer delicious, breakfast times. These pancakes are not overwhelmingly sweet, but have just the right balance of fluff, oats, cinnamon and raisins. With pure maple syrup, these are out of this world! Show some love. Make someone pancakes!"

2 eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
heaping 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
healthy pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
2 cups buttermilk
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
4 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup golden raisins
oil or cooking spray (for cooking)

Step 1: In a large bowl beat eggs. Add buttermilk, butter, maple syrup and vanilla and mix well. Add flour, oats, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt. Mix well until mostly smooth. Fold in raisins and let batter set for a few minutes.

Step 2: Heat griddle or pan over medium heat. Add a teaspoon of oil to the pan or spray with cooking spray. You can test to see if the pan is hot enough by adding a few drops of water. When the drops start to dance it’s hot enough.

Step 3: Pour 2 Tablespoons of batter onto the griddle. Cook on the first side until bubbles that form start to pop. You can also gently lift up the pancake to make sure the bottom is not overcooking, if it is the pan may be too hot and you will need to adjust the heat. Flip the pancake over with a spatula and cook until golden brown. Repeat until all the batter is gone. Let cooked pancakes rest on a heat proof plate in a 200 degree F oven until ready to serve.

Picnic Potato and Chicken Salad

This is a great meal for summer. It is refreshing and delicious! We love wraps, and this was a really fun variation on our usual Asian-themed lettuce wraps. This recipe is by Sunny Anderson at Food Network.

• 4 Idaho potatoes, peeled and cubed
• 1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 1 (6-ounce) skinless chicken breast (I used leftover roasted turkey)
• 3 slices cooked bacon, crumbled
• 1/4 cup diced celery
• 1/4 cup diced onion
• 1 garlic clove, minced
• 1/2 cup mayonnaise
• 2 teaspoons mustard
• 1 tablespoon paprika
• 2 tablespoons chopped parsley leaves
• 2 sage leaves, chopped
• 2 heads Bibb lettuce (we used butter lettuce)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Place potatoes on a sheet tray, toss with oil, season with salt and pepper, and roast until golden and tender, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a saucepan cover chicken with water and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Poach until cooked through, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from poaching liquid, let cool for a bit, and cut chicken into cubes.

In a large bowl, toss together potatoes, chicken and bacon with the celery, onions, and garlic. Add the mayonnaise, mustard, paprika, herbs, salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste. Mix until well combined.

Serve salad in Bibb lettuce cups. Roll up and eat.