Friday, December 31, 2010

Beef Tenderloin with Red Wine Sauce

IMG_6172This was amazing. The sauce is a little bit intensive as far as sauces go, but it is totally worth it. This was our Christmas dinner and it was perfect for the occasion. Beef tenderloin goes on sale a few times a year at Rice Epicurean Market and when it does, I buy it. Who can pass up tenderloin for $6 a pound? Especially when it was over twice as much at Costco? And Costco doesn't have a nice butcher who will trim it, cut it and tie it up for you.  And you can buy See's Candy at Rice, total bonus.
Beef Tenderloin with Red Wine Sauce

1 tablespoon canola oil
1 cup shallots, sliced
½ cup mushrooms, sliced
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 cups red wine
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup beef broth
1 fresh thyme sprig
¾ teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 bay leaf

1 tablespoon butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon all purpose flour

1 2-pound beef tenderloin roast
1 tablespoon olive oil

For red wine sauce:
Heat oil in heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Add shallots and mushrooms; sauté until tender, about 12 minutes. Sprinkle sugar over; sauté until mixture is deep brown, about 4 minutes longer. Add vinegar; stir until liquid evaporates, about 1 minute. Add wine; boil until reduced by half, about 20 minutes. Add both broths, thyme, peppercorns, and bay leaf; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium; simmer uncovered 35 minutes to blend flavors, stirring occasionally.

Strain sauce through fine strainer into small saucepan; discard solids. Mix butter and flour in small bowl. Bring sauce to simmer over medium-high heat; gradually whisk in flour mixture. Cook until sauce is reduced to ½ cup, about 5 minutes. (Sauce can be made 1 day ahead. Cover; chill. Rewarm over medium heat.)

For beef tenderloin:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Place rack on rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle beef generously with salt and pepper. Heat oil in heavy large skillet over high heat. Add beef to skillet and cook until brown on all sides, about 5 minutes. Transfer beef to rack on baking sheet. Roast in oven until thermometer inserted into center of beef registers 120°F for medium-rare, about 35 minutes. Transfer beef to cutting board and let rest 10 minutes.

Cut beef tenderloin crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Spoon sauce over and around beef.

Adapted from Michael Mina
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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Blackbottoms

IMG_5964xThis is one of my mom's recipes and one of my most favorite. Being that it is an old recipe, passed down on a weathered recipe card, some of the measurements were left to interpretation. They have transcribed most of my mom's recipe box to electronic files, but often "___" and "?" are where a measurement is meant to be. Fair warning: you will have extra of the chocolate mixture. One day, I will try reducing it to not be so wasteful, but who doesn't like licking extra batter out of the bowl? And as a bonus: no raw eggs!
Black Bottoms
makes 48

1 ½ cups flour
1 cup sugar
¼ cup cocoa
1 tablespoon white vinegar
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup oil
1 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla

8 ounces cream cheese
1 egg
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup sugar

1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350. Mix first eight ingredients together and set aside. In a separate bowl, beat the cream cheese, egg, salt and sugar together. Stir the chocolate chips into the cream cheese mixture. Line a miniature muffin pan with paper liners. Add 1 tablespoon of the chocolate batter and top with 1 teaspoon of the cream cheese mixture. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until set.
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Monday, December 27, 2010

Potatoes Dauphinois

IMG_6163I have posted this recipe once before, but it was buried in an Easter post and it truly merits its own posting. My friend Shannon, she makes such amazing cakes, gave me this recipe years ago. She had sent it to me as a scanned newspaper clipping originally. This is such a fantastic recipe for a dinner party because you can make it the night before, it looks impressive and it tastes amazing. You don't have to make it in advance if you would prefer to serve it straight from the dish, it's just as tasty.
Potatoes Dauphinois

1 ½ cups whipping cream
1 cup milk
½ teaspoon each: dried thyme, salt and pepper
5 russet potatoes, peeled
1 sweet potato, peeled (can substitute russet potato)
3 cloves garlic minced

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Combine cream, milk, thyme, salt and pepper in a large pot. Cut russet potatoes and sweet potato into 1/8 inch slices, dropping them into the cream mixture as they are sliced. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are evenly coated and cream mixture thickens, about 10 minutes.

Sprinkle garlic over the bottom of an 8 inch square buttered baking pan. Transfer potatoes into pan in layers, placing sweet potatoes in center layers. Pour remaining cream mixture over. Bake until potatoes are golden brown and tender, about 30 minutes. Cool about 1 hour. Cover, refrigerate until firm, at least 8 hours.

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Cut potatoes into rounds with 3 inch ring molds (or cut into triangles). Bake on a parchment lined (or Silpat) baking sheet until they begin to bubble, about 10 minutes.
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Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

IMG_6019

May you all have an amazing holiday, hopefully with a much nicer gingerbread house than mine. Kadooz to everyone who is able to decorate with royal icing.  Can I just blame my toddler for the state of the house?  I think it is only fair.  I hope everyone has a delicious Christmas!

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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Pumpkin Gingerbread

IMG_5905I found this recipe in the most random of places, Soap Opera Digest. Now before you get too judgey, I get the magazine for free (thanks FreeBizMag!)  And yes, I get Soap Opera Weekly for free as well.  And I don't really even watch soap operas, I do DVR All My Children, but I am not a loyal viewer as a SAHM should.  This recipe was presented as a regular version and a healthier version, I made a version somewhat in the middle of the two.  The gingerbread is moist, dense and delicious.  And it used up another cup of my homemade pumpkin puree from the freezer.  Only one left...
Pumpkin Gingerbread

¾ cup sugar
¾ cup brown sugar
½ cup unsweetened apple sauce
2 eggs
2/3 cup water
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon ginger
¼ teaspoon cloves
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 ¾ cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon baking powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9x5 inch loaf pan. In a large mixing bowl, combine sugar, applesauce and eggs; beat until smooth. Add water and beat until well blended. Stir in pumpkin, ginger, cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt and baking powder. Add dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture and blend just until all ingredients are mixed. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake until toothpick comes out clean, ~ 1 hour.

Adapted from Soap Opera Digest
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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Hamburger Rolls

IMG_5686My usual go to meal to take to a new mom is Chicken Spinach Pasta bake. My friend Sarah brought it to me when I had Miss F and I have brought it to a number of my new mom friends. My friend had her gorgeous baby Stella this month and I decided to break out of my pasta casserole rut and make her Dr Pepper Pulled Pork instead. And I decided to be extra daring and bake rolls without using my bread machine. I turned to Confections of a Foodie Bride for a fantastic recipe and she totally came through.  I am not sure I will ever be able to have store bought rolls again.
Hamburger Rolls

2 tablespoons sugar
1 packet yeast
¼ cup warm water (105°-115°)
1 cup warm milk (105°-115°)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
3 to 3 ¾ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon cold water
Sesame seeds for topping

In a bowl of an electric mixer, dissolve the sugar in the warm water. Sprinkle the yeast over the surface and let sit for 10 minutes. If the mixture hasn’t started to get frothy, start over. Add the warm milk, oil, salt and 1 ½ cups of flour to the yeast mixture. Beat vigorously for 2 minutes.

Add an additional cup of flour and then the remaining flour 2 Tablespoon at a time, until the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl. This particular dough should be quite slack, i.e. very relaxed in order to make soft and tender buns. So you want to add only enough more flour, past the 3 cup point, to make the dough just kneadable, sprinkling in only enough more to keep it from sticking to you or the work surface.

Switch to the dough hook and knead until you have a smooth and elastic dough, about 7-9 minutes. Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl. Turn once to coat the entire ball of dough in oil. Cover with a dampened towel and let rise until doubled, about one hour.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly oiled work surface. Working with oiled hands, divide the dough into 9 equal pieces (a bench scraper and kitchen scale come in handy here). Shape each piece into a ball, and flatten into 3 ½-inch disks. For soft-sided buns, place them on a parchment or silpat-lined baking sheet a half-inch apart so they will grow together when they rise. For crisper bun, place them three inches apart. Cover with a towel and let rise until almost doubled, about 45 minutes.

15 minutes before you want to bake the buns, preheat the oven to 400°. Just before baking, brush the tops of the buns lightly with the egg wash and sprinkle with any desired toppings.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the internal temperature of the bread reaches 190°. When the buns are done, remove them from the baking sheet to cool on a wire rack. This will prevent the crust from becoming soggy.

Adapted from Confections from a Foodie Bride
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Monday, December 20, 2010

Creamy Artichoke Lemon Chicken Pasta

IMG_5676xThis dish is super similar to one of my most favorite pasta dishes, Artichoke Chicken Pasta. The addition of bacon and cream make this dish all the more decadent. Fresh lemon juice is vital, it really adds a nice tangy flavor to the pasta, it is especially nice with the capers. I love capers, I need to cook more things that include capers in the recipe. Anyone have any great caper recipes?
Creamy Artichoke Lemon Chicken Pasta

12 ounces angel hair pasta
2 slices bacon
2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, halved and pounded to ¼ inch thickness
¼ cup all-purpose flour
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1 can artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
2 teaspoons capers, drained
½ cup white wine
1 cup chicken broth
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon butter, chilled
salt and pepper to taste
chopped fresh parsley for garnish

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to boil. Add pasta, and cook until al dente, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain, and set aside.

In a large Dutch oven, cook the bacon over medium heat, cook through. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon and reserve. In a bowl, stir together flour, salt, and pepper. Lightly coat chicken with flour mixture. Without crowding, carefully place chicken in the bacon grease. Fry until cooked through and golden brown on both sides. Remove the chicken to paper towels. Stir the mushrooms, artichokes, and capers into the pan; cook until the mushrooms are soft. Deglaze the pan with the wine. Cook for 2 minutes. Add the broth and lemon juice, cook for 2 minutes more. Stir in the cream and the butter to the sauce, stirring until completely incorporated. Season with salt and pepper.

Cut the chicken breasts into strips, and return them to the pan. Stir the pasta and bacon into the chicken mixture. Serve.
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Friday, December 17, 2010

Jap Chae

IMG_5667As soon as I saw this recipe on My Adventures in Food, I knew I had to try it.  I had to make a couple of changes to the recipe, the biggest issue was the noodles.  I couldn't find any made of sweet potato.  We have a huge selection of Asian noodles at our grocery store, but not a single one of them was made with sweet potato.  I settled on glass noodles made from green beans, which meant I had to change how they were cooked.  They only needed soaking in hot water instead of boiling.  Miss F gobbled this up, I was shocked.  She normally doesn't like the flavors in this dish.  C liked it as well, but I doubt he would go for it without meat. 
Jap Chae

12 ounce clear glass noodles

½ lb chicken, cut into thin strips
3 tablespoons soy sauce, divided
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger
1 tablespoon chili-garlic sauce

1 clove garlic, minced
3 carrots, shredded
1 zucchini, slivered
½ onion, cut into slivers
6 ounces mushrooms, stems removed and caps thinly sliced
3 tablespoons vegetable oil

4 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon chili-garlic sauce
Sesame oil
Sesame seeds

Soak noodles in hot water for 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Combine meat, 3 tablespoons of soy sauce, ginger, and chili-garlic sauce in a bowl, toss the meat to evenly coat. Let marinate while you prep all the vegetables.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add the marinating meat. Cook until meat is done, about 5 minutes. Remove to a plate. Heat remaining tablespoon of oil in the pan. Add carrots, zucchini, red onion, shitake mushrooms, and green onions. Sauté for a few minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from pan and add to plate with meat.

Place 4 tablespoons of soy sauce, sugar, and chili-garlic sauce to pan. Stir to combine. Add noodles to pan. Stir to coat and heat through. Return meat and vegetables to pan, and toss to combine. Drizzle sesame oil over the contents of the pan. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Serve.

Adapted from My Adventures in Food
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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Marinara Sauce

IMG_5666xOne of my friends asked for a tomato sauce for her mom to use in lasagna. I realized I have never written down my recipe, I always just wing it whenever I make a simple tomato sauce. I have been making marinara sauce for years. Back when I was single, I would make a big batch of it and eat it with pasta for a week. At one of my first dinner parties ever, I served baked ziti with homemade sauce, I remember being so impressed with myself. If you don't want to add the carrots to the sauce, add a tablespoon or two of brown sugar instead.
Marinara Sauce

½ onion, chopped
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
½ cup red wine
1 can (6 ounce) tomato paste
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon oregano
2 cans (14.5 ounce) diced tomatoes

In a small food processor, process the onions and carrots to a fine mince. In a large sauté pan, heat oil over medium high heat. Add the carrot and onion mixture, sauté until soft, approximately 2 to 3 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds more. Deglaze the pan with the wine and cook until reduced by half. Add the tomato paste, basil and oregano, stir it in to incorporate and cook for 3 minutes more. Add the diced tomatoes, bring the sauce to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.
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Monday, December 13, 2010

Cayenne Chocolate Cookies

IMG_5695Yesterday, I had a fantastic cookie exchange to attend. The details: 72 cookies, packaged in groups of three, sending you home with 24 varieties of cookies. My cookie recipe made more than I thought it would, so I was able to send an extra cookie in each bag. Which was a way better idea than having another two dozen cookies in my house just begging to be eaten. This cookies are fantastic, they are rich and chocolatey, they finish off with a nice, spicy kick. Miss F especially enjoyed them, she loves the spice!
Cayenne Chocolate Cookies
makes four dozen

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 cups flour
1 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°F. Cream butter and both sugars until fluffy. Add eggs and blend well. Add cayenne, cocoa, baking soda and salt and blend very well. It's important to blend this stage completely so that heat is evenly distributed. Add flour and blend. Fold in chips. Refrigerate for one hour. Drop teaspoonfuls onto lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes.

Source: AllRecipes
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Friday, December 10, 2010

Tortilla Crusted Chicken with Avocado Cilantro Sauce

IMG_5365xThis chicken dish was super quick and very tasty. Add some black beans on the side and your meal is ready. We are very lucky in Texas to have quality tortilla chips at the regular grocery store. El Milagro is my chip of choice, they aren't salted, so you get the true corn flavor rather than the salt salt salt of other brands (cough...Tostitos...cough).
Tortilla Crusted Chicken with Avocado Cilantro Sauce

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 egg
¼ cup milk
4 cups tortilla chips (El Milagro works great, something with no salt)

¼ cup sour cream
1 small avocado, pitted and peeled
1 tablespoon cilantro, minced
juice of one lime
2 to 3 tablespoons water
salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Pound the chicken out to ¼ to ½ inch thickness or butterfly each breast. In a bowl, whisk the egg with the milk. In a food processor, pulse the tortilla chips until they resemble a fine powder. Put the crushed tortilla chips in a separate shallow dish. Dip the chicken in the egg mixture. Dredge the chicken into the crushed tortilla chips and toss gently to coat. Place the chicken in a greased baking dish and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until chicken is cooked through.

In a small food processor or blender, add sour cream, avocado, cilantro, lime juice and water. Process until smooth, salt to taste. Drizzle sauce over chicken. Serve.
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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Butternut Squash Risotto

IMG_5378xI am pretty sure this recipe got saved on my computer during some magazine purge. I subscribe to all sorts of magazines, usually for free thanks to freebizmagazine or from rewards points for the cat litter we buy (so appetizing!). Real Simple has disappointed me in the past with most of their recipes, but this one was a standout. This is such a comforting dish and totally worth all the stirring. For one of my first ever dinner parties, I made risotto. I don't think I got to spend much time with my guests prior to dinner...stir stir stir!
Butternut Squash Risotto

4 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ yellow onion, finely chopped
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and grated
1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
1 ½ cups Arborio rice
1 cup dry white wine
½ cup Parmesan, grated

Warm the broth in a small saucepan over low heat. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, salt and pepper and cook for 4 minutes. Add the squash and cook until squash softens, 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds more. Add the rice and cook, stirring constantly for 3 minutes. Add the wine and cook, stirring frequently, until the liquid is absorbed, about 3 minutes. Add the broth, ½ cup at a time, stirring occasionally and waiting until absorbed to add more. It should take about 30 minutes for all the broth to be absorbed. Remove from heat and stir in the Parmesan.

Adapted from Real Simple
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Monday, December 6, 2010

Cinnamon Ice Cream

IMG_5441xThis is the first ice cream I have ever tried using eggs. It was really good! Especially good scooped on a slice of warm apple pie. C still isn't sold on the homemade ice cream, he still prefers his Blue Bell. I definitely don't!
Cinnamon Ice Cream

1 cup white sugar
1 ½ cups half-and-half cream
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

In a saucepan over medium-low heat, stir together the sugar and half-and-half. When the mixture begins to simmer, remove from heat, and whisk half of the mixture into the eggs. Whisk quickly so that the eggs do not scramble. Pour the egg mixture back into the saucepan, and stir in the heavy cream. Continue cooking over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a metal spoon. Remove from heat, and whisk in vanilla and cinnamon. Set aside to cool.

Pour cooled mixture into an ice cream maker, and freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Source: AllRecipes.com
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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Caramel Apple Tart

IMG_5494xInstead of a traditional apple pie this year, I decided to try out this tart for Thanksgiving. It was amazing! I had to make the caramel sauce twice, the first one was gritty. I had overcooked it. After some googling, I decided to add some corn syrup to ensure that it would be smooth. It worked well. The caramel was perfect for drizzling, I will make it again for sure. I love caramel apples and this was a lovely alternative. That being said, I did dip a slice or two into the caramel sauce for snacking.
Caramel Apple Tart

Crust
2 ½ cups flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into 1//2 inch cubes
3 to 4 tablespoons ice water

Caramel sauce
¾ cup dark brown sugar
¾ cup heavy whipping cream
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon corn syrup

Filling
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon unbleached all purpose flour
5 large Granny Smith apples (about 2 to 2 ½ pounds), peeled, cored, cut into sixteenths

For the crust:
Pulse flour, sugar and salt in a food processor until combined. Add butter and process until mixture resembles coarse meal, about 10 seconds. With the machine running, add ice water in a slow steady stream until mixture just begins to hold together. Shape dough into a disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate 1 hour or up to 3 days, before using

For caramel sauce:
Bring sugar, cream, butter and corn syrup to boil in heavy medium saucepan over medium-high heat, whisking constantly until sugar dissolves. Boil until caramel thickens enough to coat spoon thickly, whisking often, about 8 minutes. Caramel sauce can be made 5 days ahead. Cover; chill. Whisk over low heat until warm before using.

For filling:
Whisk flour and sugar in large bowl to blend. Add apples and toss until evenly coated. Preheat oven to 375°F. Roll out dough on lightly floured surface to 13-inch round. Transfer to 9-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom. Cut overhang even with top of pan sides. Arrange apple slices in circle around outer edge of pan, fitting snugly. Cut remaining apple quarters lengthwise in half; stand in center of tart, fitting snugly.

Bake tart until apples are tender, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Remove tart from oven; brush with some of caramel sauce. Cool tart to room temperature. Rewarm remaining caramel sauce. Drizzle tart lightly with sauce. Serve, passing remaining sauce separately.

Adapted from Martha Stewart (crust) and Bon Appetit
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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Apple Cider Glazed Pork Chops

IMG_5380xI always have a crockpot full of hot apple cider stewed with apple slices and cinnamon sticks. Of course, the whole gallon of apple cider never gets drank, maybe if I spiked it people would drink it all? It usually is just me and my mother-in-law who drink it, but I will continue making it because it makes the house smell like the holidays. I am still working up the nerve to make apple cider doughnuts. This is such a quick way to make pork chops and it is perfect for the fall.

Apple Cider Glazed Pork Chops

4 pork rib chops, ~ one pound
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup apple cider
1 ½ tablespoons packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
½ teaspoon mustard seeds

Pat pork chops dry and season with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then sauté chops until browned on both sides, about 10 minutes total.

Stir together cider and brown sugar and add to skillet. Simmer, uncovered, turning chops once, until meat is almost cooked through, about 3 minutes. Transfer chops to a plate.

Add vinegar and mustard seeds to sauce and boil, stirring to scrape up any brown bits, until reduced to about 1/3 cup, about 5 minutes. Return chops with any juices on plate to skillet and simmer until meat is just cooked through and sauce is slightly thickened, about 2 minutes.

Adapted from Gourmet
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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Alton Brown's Pumpkin Pie

IMG_5455I confess, I have never tried pumpkin pie. The whole thing just doesn't sound delicious to me. That being said, C requests a pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving every year. This year, Alton Brown featured pumpkin pie on his Thanksgiving special. I followed his instructions, but I did change his ginger snap crust to a standard pastry crust. C insists pumpkin pie be served with Cool Whip (blech!), but this year he had to settle for extra creamy Cool Whip since Kroger was sold out of the regular. Do they not realize it is Thanksgiving? 
Pumpkin Pie

16 ounces Pumpkin Puree, approximately 2 cups, recipe follows
1 cup half-and-half
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinammon
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¾ cup dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1 pie crust

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Bring the pumpkin puree to a simmer over medium heat in a 2-quart saucepan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the half-and-half, nutmeg, and salt. Stir and return the mixture to a simmer. Remove the pumpkin mixture from the heat and cool for 10 minutes.

Whisk the brown sugar, eggs, and yolk until smooth in a large bowl. Add the pumpkin mixture and whisk until thoroughly combined. Pour the prepared filling into a prepared pie crust and bake on the same half sheet pan until the center jiggles slightly but the sides of the filling are set, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool on a cooling rack for at least 2 to 3 hours before slicing. Pie can be made and refrigerated up to 2 days in advance. Pie is best the day after it is made.

Pumpkin Puree

2 pie pumpkins
kosher salt

Slice a small piece of skin off the one side of the pumpkin so when laid on its side, the pumpkin will lay flat without rolling. Remove the stem and split the pumpkin in half from top to bottom, using a large cleaver and a mallet. Scoop out the seeds and fiber with a large metal spoon or ice cream scoop. Cut the fibers with kitchen shears if necessary. Reserve seeds for another use.

Sprinkle the flesh with kosher salt and lay the halves, flesh side down, on a parchment paper-lined half sheet pan. Roast until a paring knife can be easily inserted and removed from the pumpkin, 30 to 45 minutes. Test in several places to ensure doneness.

Remove the half sheet pan to a cooling rack and cool the pumpkin for 1 hour. Using a large spoon, remove the roasted flesh of the pumpkin from the skin to the bowl of a food processor. Process until the flesh is smooth, 3 to 4 minutes. Store in the fridge for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 3 months.

Adapted from Alton Brown
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Monday, November 29, 2010

Smoked Turkey Pasta

IMG_5408xOnce again, I had a smoked turkey to use up the week before Thanksgiving...can you ever really be sick of turkey? Of course you can. Which is why this dish can easily be frozen in a casserole dish and reheated when the turkey craving sets in again. After I made this, the remaining smoked turkey meat was banished to the freezer. When it gets cold in February for a week or so, I will defrost it to make more Smoked Turkey Chowder.

Smoked Turkey Pasta

2 tablespoons olive oil
½ onion, chopped
1 cup button mushrooms, sliced
1 large red bell pepper, seeded, diced
1 ½ cups dry white wine
2 cups half and half
3 cups smoked turkey, shredded
1 teaspoon parsley
¾ pound linguine or pasta of your choice
¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Heat olive oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add chopped onions and sauté 1 minute. Add mushrooms and bell pepper and sauté until vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. Add white wine and boil until liquid is reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Add 1 cup whipping cream and simmer until sauce thickens, about 5 minutes. Add remaining 1 cup whipping cream, smoked turkey and parsley; simmer 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite. Drain well. Add pasta to sauce in pot and toss to coat. Add cheese and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Adapted from Bon Appetit
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Friday, November 26, 2010

Smoked Turkey Chowder

IMG_5398xThis recipe is loosely based on the recipe I use for Chicken Corn Chowder.  The flavors of this chowder were fantastic.  I am not sure how much had to do with the flavor of the smoked turkey from Greenberg Smoked Turkey in Tyler, Texas, but I do know this was a winner.  And it would be equally fantastic with leftover turkey, which I am sure we all have a ton of.  I forgot to sprinkle the bacon on top, but it didn't even need it.  The bacon flavor came through beautifully in the broth.
Smoked Turkey Chowder

3 slices bacon, chopped
½ small white onion, chopped
4 carrots, peeled and chopped
¼ cup white wine
½ teaspoon dried sage
2 cups chicken broth
2 to 3 small russet potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 ½ cups corn kernels, fresh or frozen
1 to 2 cups smoked turkey meat (any leftover turkey meat will work)
1 cup half and half

Cook bacon in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat until brown and crisp, about 5 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels and drain. Discard all but 2 tablespoons drippings from pan. Add onions and carrots; sauté until beginning to soften, about 4 minutes. Deglaze the pan with the white wine and cook for 2 minutes more. Add the sage, broth and potato, increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Cover pan, reduce the heat and simmer 15 minutes. Add corn and simmer for 5 minutes more. Add turkey and half and half and bring to simmer, about 2 minutes. Season chowder to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls. Sprinkle with cooked bacon and serve.
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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving~Smoked Turkey

IMG_5392x
I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving, with great food and family around them! I know we will be stuffing ourselves silly!

C got a smoked turkey from one of his co-workers the week before Thanksgiving, so I will be blogging a couple of fantastic recipes using the smoked turkey. Of course, leftover roast turkey will work just as well as the smoked turkey, but you might want to increase the spices a bit, especially the salt.
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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Carrot Cake

IMG_5096xC's favorite cake is a carrot cake, followed closely by tres leches cake. For his birthday this year, same as the first year we were dating, he requested a carrot cake. And over the seven years we have been together, I have used Cooks' Illustrated's recipe for carrot cake and my mom's friend's recipe for cream cheese frosting. The main difference between now and the first time, is that I now own a food processor (thank you wedding registry), so I no longer have to walk around with carrot orange stained hands after grating a pound of carrots for the cake.
Carrot Cake

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 ¼ teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon salt
1 pound carrots, peeled
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
½ cup packed light brown sugar
4 large eggs
1 ½ cups vegetable oil

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 8” cake pans.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt in a large bowl; set aside.

In a food processor fitted with a large shredding disk, shred the carrots; fit the processor with the metal blade and pulse the grated carrots 3 to 5 times. Pour the carrots into a large mixing bowl. Process the granulated and brown sugars and eggs until frothy and thoroughly combined, about 20 seconds. With the machine running, add the oil through the feed tube in a steady stream. Process until the mixture is light in color and well emulsified, about 20 seconds longer. Pour the mixture into the bowl with the carrots. Stir in the dry ingredients until incorporated and no streaks of flour remain. Pour into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick or skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool the cake to room temperature in the pan on a wire rack, about 2 hours.

Adapted from Cooks’ Illustrated

Cream Cheese Frosting
frosts one cake or 24 cupcakes

½ cup butter, softened
8 ounces of cream cheese, softened
4 cups of confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla

Mix all ingredients until smooth.
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Monday, November 22, 2010

Fried Okra

IMG_4935xI love fried okra. My favorite spot for fried okra is Hickory Hollow, but I think that is mainly based on the fact that Hickory Hollow has the best ranch dressing I have ever tasted. There were lots of things I wouldn't eat before I moved to Texas: queso, guacamole, and of course, ranch dressing. I would probably be a lot healthier if I didn't indulge in any of them. These okra are so good, you don't even need ranch dressing.
Fried Okra

3 to 4 cups fresh okra
1 egg
¼ cup milk
½ cup flour
½ cup processed tortilla chips
oil for frying

Trim the ends from the okra, then slice into ½” pieces. In a bowl, whisk the egg with the milk. Toss the okra in the egg mixture. In a food processor, pulse the tortilla chips until they resemble a fine powder. Mix the tortilla chips and flour in a separate bowl. Add the okra into the flour mixture and toss gently to coat. Heat 1” of oil in a small saucepan over medium high heat. Working in batches, fry the okra for 3 to 5 minutes, until they are golden brown in color. Drain on a wire rack.
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Friday, November 19, 2010

Portobello Mushroom Soup

IMG_4882xxThis farmshare has provided me so many fun blog updates. There were two huge Portobellos in my box, I would normally make Sausage Stuffed Portobellos, but C was gone for the evening and there was no way I could eat that much. Well, Miss F does love sausage, but I still think it would have been too much for the two of us. Miss F loves soup as do I, the best part is that we have leftovers for lunches. This soup was made up by me and it turned out quite nicely.
Portobello Mushroom Soup
serves 4

2 large or 3 medium caps fresh Portobello mushrooms
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
¼ whole onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup white wine
4 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon parsley, minced
2/3 cup half and half

Coarsely chop the mushroom caps. Melt butter in a large saucepan. Whisk in the flour and cook for two minutes. Sauté the onions until translucent, add the mushrooms and sauté for 3 to 5 minutes more and add the garlic and sauté 30 seconds more. Deglaze the pan with the wine. Add the chicken stock and parsley; bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Stir in the half and half, salt and pepper to taste. Serve.
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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Garlic Rosemary Focaccia

IMG_4867xxWhen I saw this recipe on My Adventures in Food, I knew I needed to try it. More importantly, I knew I needed to make it when C was out of the house. Not only does he hate the smell of fresh baked bread, but he really despises the smell of garlic cooking in oil. Thankfully, he was gone all day one Saturday for an A&M football game, so I had all afternoon to stink up the kitchen to my heart's content. I also made the refrigerator pickles, I am positive he would hate the smell of boiling vinegar. This bread is wonderful. Make it!
Garlic Rosemary Focaccia

3 large garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1/3 cup olive oil
3 ½ teaspoons dry yeast
1 cup + 1 tablespoon warm water (95-105 degrees F)
3 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons salt
½ tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh rosemary
Coarse salt for sprinkling
Fresh ground black pepper for sprinkling

Combine garlic and olive oil in a small saucepan. Simmer over medium-low heat until garlic begins to brown. Do not let garlic burn. Remove from heat, discard garlic cloves, and let the oil cool.

Whisk together yeast and warm water in the bowl of a standing mixer. In a separate bowl, stir together the flour and table salt. Let stand for 5 minutes. Add half of the garlic oil. Stir half the flour mixture into the bowl with the yeast. Add the remaining flour, and mix on low with the dough hook attachment. Once flour is incorporated, turn mixer to medium. Knead until the dough becomes soft and sticky, about 5 minutes. Transfer dough to a large, well-oiled bowl. Turn the dough over so that both sides are coated with oil. Cover with plastic wrap, and set in a warm place to rise. Dough should double in bulk in about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 450. Grease a half baking sheet (9x13) with some of the remaining garlic oil. Gently press the dough into the pan. Cover with oiled plastic wrap and let rise for another 30 minutes. Make indentations at intervals in the surface of the dough. Drizzle the remaining garlic oil over the top of the dough. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and the fresh herbs. Bake in the lower third of the oven until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Transfer bread to a wire rack and serve warm or at room temperature.

Adapted from My Adventures in Food
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Monday, November 15, 2010

Refrigerator Pickles

IMG_4854xI had two gorgeous cucumbers in my farm share and they had sent out a link to their Wood Duck Farms refrigerator cucumber recipe. I had to eat one of the cucumbers fresh, but I decided to make the other into pickles. I changed up their recipe a bit, theirs called for bell pepper, which I didn't have, so I omitted.
Refrigerator Pickles

1 large cucumber, sliced
1 cup white vinegar
1 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons pickling spice

In a small saucepan, boil the vinegar, sugar and salt until all the sugar has dissolved, approximately 8 to 10 minutes. Place the cucumber slices and pickling spice in a sterilized Le Parfait jar. Pour the vinegar mixture and pickling spice over top. Seal the jar and refrigerate overnight.
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Friday, November 12, 2010

Pot Roast

IMG_4842xChuck roast was on sale at Kroger, so I had planned to make a pot roast. My friend Kristina was out of town for work, so she gave me her farm share for the week, as long as I would pick it up, it was mine for the taking. There were turnips in the box, so I decided to add them to the pot roast since I had no idea what else to do with them. A couple people had recommended Pioneer Woman's Pot Roast recipe. I adpated it a little, to add in turnips and potatoes. I still have no idea what to do with the turnip greens, which were about 10 times the size of the turnips.
Pot Roast

1 whole (3 to 4 pounds) chuck roast
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 whole onion
3 to 4 turnips
2 russet potatoes
1 pound of carrots, peeled
1 cup red wine
2 to 3 cups beef stock
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
1 bay leaf

Heat a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Then add 2 to 3 tablespoons of olive oil.

Cut the onion in half, cut 6 to 8 carrots into 2-inch slices, cut the turnips in half and cut the potatoes into 2” cubes. When the oil in the pot is very hot (but not smoking), add in the halved onions and turnips, browning them on one side and then the other. Remove the onions to a plate.

Throw the carrots and potatoes into the same very hot pan and toss them around a bit until slightly browned, about a minute or so.

If needed, add a bit more olive oil to the very hot pan. Salt and pepper the roast. Place the meat in the pan and sear it for about a minute on all sides until it is nice and brown all over. Remove the roast to a plate.

With the burner still on high, use the red wine to deglaze the pan, scraping the bottom with a whisk to get all of that wonderful flavor up.

When the bottom of the pan is sufficiently deglazed, place the roast back into the pan and add enough beef stock to cover the meat halfway (about 2 to 3 cups). Add in the onion, turnip, carrots, potatoes, as well as the rosemary, thyme and bay leaf.

Put the lid on, then roast in a 275F oven for 3 hours (for a 3-pound roast). For a 4 to 5-pound roast, plan on 4 hours.

Adapted from the Pioneer Woman
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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

IMG_4368xWhen I saw these on Annie Eats and had a baby shower in just a few days, I knew they would be perfect. Miss F got all excited that they were her muffins, but she was quite disappointed when she bit into the cream cheese portion of the muffin.  I had a few issues with these, the muffin itself was super dense, the cream cheese shriveled up, which was unappetizing and the spice level wasn't near where I would want it.  If I make them again, I will certainly double up on the spices.
Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins
makes 24 muffins

3 cups flour
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 ½ teaspoons nutmeg
¾ teaspoon ginger
1 ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 c. sugar
4 eggs
2 cups canned pumpkin
1 ¼ cups vegetable oil
8 oz. pkg. cream cheese

Preheat oven to 350.

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, salt, baking soda and sugar. In a small bowl, combine the eggs, pumpkin and oil. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.

Fill lined muffin tins half full. Cut the cream cheese into 24 equal squares. Place a cream cheese square into each muffin tin. Fill each muffin tin with the remaining batter.

Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean from the muffin part.

Let cool in pan for 5 min. before moving to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Adapted from Annie Eats
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Monday, November 8, 2010

Crab Dip

IMG_4363xI first had this at brunch the day after Zane and Karen's amazing wedding.  I asked for the recipe straight away, I couldn't get enough of the creamy, crabby goodness.  His brother Lance had made it and the secret recipe was actually from Phillips.  I doubled the crab meat from the original recipe.  I actually halved the other ingredients and still used a pound of backfin crab meat.  Heaven.
Crab Dip

1 cup crab meat, cleaned and picked free of shells
1 8 oz. package cream cheese
½ cup sour cream
1 tablespoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon parsley
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon Old Bay
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Allow cream cheese to come to room temperature and soften. In a large mixing bowl, combine softened cream cheese, sour cream, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, 1 tsp. parsley, dry mustard and Old Bay. Stir in ¾ cup of the cheddar cheese and the mozzarella cheese. Mix well. Gently fold in crab meat by hand until evenly distributed throughout mixture. Be careful not to break apart the meat. Pour mixture into lightly greased gratin dish. Sprinkle with remaining cheddar cheese and parsley. Bake at 350°F for 20-25 minutes or until top is golden brown and bubbling.
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Friday, November 5, 2010

Chicken and Shrimp Creole

IMG_4420xSince C doesn't eat seafood, I have to make separate plates for he and I whenever I decide to eat it. This was easy to split since the shrimp take so little time to cook. The only irritation was C whining about the shrimp smell, but the man complains when there is fresh bread baking, so his nose is obviously not up to par. The flavors were fantastic, it really hit the spot. It would be lovely with just shrimp and would cook up in no time.
Chicken and Shrimp Creole
serves 4

¼ cup oil
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 green bell pepper, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 pound chicken breast, cut into bite size pieces
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes with green chile peppers, with liquid
1 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon white sugar
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
3 dashes hot sauce
½ pound shrimp, cleaned and peeled

Heat oil in a large skillet over high heat. Stir in flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes or until mixture is the color of a copper penny. Reduce heat to low and stir in bell pepper, celery, onion and chicken. Cook 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir in tomatoes with green chile peppers, chicken broth, parsley, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, soy sauce, sugar, salt, pepper and hot sauce. Bring heat to medium high and when the mixture comes to a boil, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Add shrimp for last 3 to 5 minutes of cooking, depending on the size of the shrimp. Serve over rice.
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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Penne Alla Vecchia Bettola

IMG_4428xOne of my most favorite pasta dishes is Cooks Illustrated Penne a la Vodka. It is so good and reasonably easy to prepare. When I saw the episode of The Barefoot Contessa featuring a very similar dish, I knew I had to try it. Who cares that it takes over two hours...it is worth every second. This dish is amazing. Miss F kept asking for "more" and when I say kept asking, she had at least 5 helpings. Her little belly was about to explode. C thought it was good, but wondered why there was no meat. I will make it again with sausage for him.
Nick and Toni's Penne Alla Vecchia Bettola
serves 4

¼ cup good olive oil
1 medium Spanish onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, diced
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 ½ teaspoons dried oregano
1 cup vodka
2 (28-ounce) cans peeled plum tomatoes
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 pound penne pasta
4 tablespoons fresh oregano
¾ to 1 cup heavy cream
Grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Heat the olive oil in a large oven proof saute pan over medium heat, add the onions and cook for about 5 minutes until translucent. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes and dried oregano and cook for 1 minute more. Add the vodka and continue cooking until the mixture is reduced by half.

Meanwhile, drain the tomatoes through a sieve and crush them into the pan with your hands. Add 1 teaspoon salt and a pinch of black pepper. Cover the pan with a tight fitting lid and place it in the oven for 1 ½ hours. Remove the pan from the oven and let cool for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta al dente. Drain and set aside.

Place the tomato mixture in a blender and puree in batches until the sauce is a smooth consistency. Return to the pan.

Reheat the sauce, add 2 tablespoons fresh oregano and enough heavy cream to make the sauce a creamy consistency. Add salt and pepper, to taste, and simmer for 10 minutes. Toss the pasta into the sauce and cook for 2 minutes more. Stir in ½ cup Parmesan. Serve with an additional sprinkle of Parmesan and a sprinkle of fresh oregano on each plate.
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Monday, November 1, 2010

Mini Banana Muffins

IMG_4332x It's my turn to host playgroup for the toddlers this week. I plan on taking full advantage of this glorious weather, so we are meeting at a local park. These muffins are easily eaten by toddlers and their moms alike. They are super easy to make and even easier to tote along to the park to soak up the sun.
Mini Banana Muffins
makes 30 mini muffins

2 to 3 brown bananas, peeled and mashed
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup natural applesauce
1 egg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, add bananas, sugar, egg, and applesauce and mix well.

Stir in baking soda, powder, salt and flour. Mix well.

Line the mini muffin tins with paper liners. Fill each muffin cup 2/3 way full. Bake for 15 minutes. Cool.
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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Pumpkin Bread

IMG_4446xAfter the disappointing Pumpkin Cream Cheese muffins, I still had a pumpkin craving that hadn't been satiated. I combined several recipes I found on the internet, trying to make it spicy and sweet enough for my tastes. This was certainly a winner. I made two loaves, one with chocolate chips and one without. Of course Miss F preferred the chocolate chip version.
Pumpkin Bread
makes 2 loaves

3½ cups flour
2 ½ cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1½ teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 ½ teaspoons ground cloves
1½ cups of semi-sweet mini chocolate chips (optional)

4 eggs
½ cup canola oil
½ cup unsweetened applesauce
2/3 cup water
2 cups canned, plain pumpkin

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Combine all dry ingredients, except chocolate chips, in a large mixing bowl and mix well.

In a separate bowl, slightly beat the eggs with a fork or wire whisk. Add the remaining wet ingredients to the eggs and stir well. Gradually add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Stir just until evenly mixed. Fold in chocolate chips.

Coat 2 bread pans evenly with cooking spray. Pour half of the mixture into each pan.

Bake for 50-60 minutes.
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Monday, October 25, 2010

Candy Corn Cupcakes

I have seen these all over the internet and finally had an event to use them for. Our playgroup was having a Halloween party and I was the host. I figured the kids couldn't do too much damage with white frosting. Too bad the same cannot be said for me. I decided to use a medicine dropper to add the red food coloring. It was a total success, I got the perfect orange color. Just when I thought I had nailed it, the dropper flipped out of my hands sending red food coloring everywhere. Joy.
Candy Corn Cupcakes
makes 24 cupcakes or 48 mini cupcakes

1 box yellow cake mix
red food coloring
yellow food coloring
72 candy corns for regular size cupcakes
48 candy corns for mini cupcakes

1/2 cup butter, softened
3 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons milk

Preheat the oven to 350. Prepare the cake batter per the package directions. Divide equally into two bowls. In one bowl, add yellow and red food coloring drop by drop, to acheive a bright orange color. Pour two tablespoons (teaspoons for mini cupcakes) of the plain batter into a cupcake pan with paper liners. Add two tablespoons (two teaspoons for mini cupcakes) of the orange batter on top. Bake per package instructions.

Beat the butter over medium speed. Gradually add the powdered sugar and milk until icing reaches desired consistency. Frost the cooled cupcakes and top with the candy corns (3 per regular, 1 per mini).
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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Pork Kebabs with Cucumber Yogurt Sauce

I paired this with homemade pita bread and it was absolutely delicious. It almost rivals the gyros I love so much at Niko Nikos.  The best part was that Miss F gobbled up the pork as if they were her beloved chicken nuggets.  She loves gyros meat, so the flavors were very similar.  This recipe will be going into regular rotation at our house, but the homemade pita is a must for them.  I broiled the kebabs, but they would also be fantastic on the grill.  The "yogurt sauce" is pretty much my go to for tzatiki sauce.  If you use plain yogurt instead of Greek yogurt, drain it over a bowl fitted with a fine mssh strainer lined with a paper towel over night to drain the excess water out.
Pork Kebabs with Yogurt Sauce
serves 4

1 cup red wine
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. kosher salt, plus more to taste
1 tsp. dried thyme
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
3 cloves garlic, smashed
1 pound pork, cut into 1 1⁄2" cubes
Freshly ground pepper, to taste

1 cucumber
1 ½ cups yogurt
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Kosher salt, to taste

4 pita breads, warmed

Whisk together the wine, oregano, cumin, salt, thyme, cinnamon, and garlic in a large bowl. Add the cubes of pork and toss well to combine. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside to let marinate at room temperature for at least 2 hours or in the refrigerator overnight.

Meanwhile, make the yogurt sauce: Trim the ends off the cucumber and peel it. Cut the cucumber in half lengthwise. Using a small spoon, scrape out and discard the seeds from each half. Finely chop the cucumber and transfer it to a medium bowl. Stir in the yogurt, garlic, and season with salt. Cover the sauce with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.

Arrange an oven rack 7–8" from the broiler element and heat broiler. Remove the pork from the marinade (reserve marinade), thread the cubes onto 4 metal or wooden skewers, and arrange on a foil-lined baking sheet. (If using wooden skewers, make sure to cover the ends completely with the pork cubes, to prevent the skewers from burning.) Season the pork with salt and pepper. Pour the marinade into a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Broil the kebabs, generously basting with the marinade occasionally, until browned on all sides and cooked through, 20–25 minutes. (Alternatively, the kebabs may be cooked over a medium-hot grill for the same amount of time.)

Serve with the yogurt sauce and the pita.

Adapted from Saveur
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Monday, October 18, 2010

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

I adapted these from a Martha Stewart recipe. Growing up, my mom would make these amazing chocolate chunk cookies. Everyone would always rave about them. The secret behind them is that they were from a bag mix. And they tasted homemade. These are almost as good as the bag mix, if I splurged for chocolate chunks, I am sure they would be a close rival.  The best part of these cookies is that I always have the ingredients on hand, thanks to the jumbo chocolate chip bag from Costco.
Double Chocolate Chip Cookies
makes one dozen

1 1/3 cups semisweet chocolate chips
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2/3 cup all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
¾ cup packed light-brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat 1 1/3 cups chocolate chips and butter in a microwave-safe bowl in 20-second increments, stirring in between, until almost melted; do not overheat. In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.

In a mixing bowl, beat eggs, brown sugar, and vanilla on high speed until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low; beat in melted chocolate. Mix in flour mixture until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips.

Drop heaping tablespoons of dough 2 to 3 inches apart onto baking sheets. Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until cookies are shiny and crackly yet soft in centers, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool on sheets 10 minutes; with a thin metal spatula, transfer to racks to cool completely.

Adapted from Martha Stewart
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Thursday, October 14, 2010

Succulent Braised Pork

C loves anything braised. When we are out to eat, if there is a braised item on the menu, I know that is what he is eating. I saw this on Melissa d'Arabian's show $10 Dollar Dinners and I knew I had to try it. It seemed so similar to my favorite Short Ribs recipe, which is a big winner in our house. C came home from work stuffed from lunch, so he didn't have any fresh. I was out for sushi the next night and he had leftovers with Miss F. He told me the next day that he found it odd...whatever, this recipe was delicious. So discouraging, especially when I made them special for him.
Braised Pork
serves 6

2 pounds pork shoulder, cut into 6 large chunks
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup red wine
1 1/2 cups beef stock or broth
1 bunch parsley stems, tied with string
2 bay leaves
1 cup water

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Pat the pork dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.

In a large Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat, and working in batches brown the meat on all sides until a golden crust forms. Transfer the pork to a plate. To the pan add the onion, celery, and carrot and sweat until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and sweat another 2 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 3 minutes to cook off the raw flavor and caramelize it. Sprinkle with the flour and cook another 2 minutes to cook off its raw flavor. Whisk in the wine and reduce it by half. Return the pork to the Dutch oven, then stir in the beef stock, parsley stems, and bay leaves. Add the water if liquid does not come up to the top of the pork. Do not cover the pork with liquid. Cover the pan and place it in the oven to braise until the meat is fork tender, about 3 hours. Taste and season with more salt and pepper, if needed. Transfer to a serving platter and serve.

Source: Melissa d’Arabian
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Monday, October 11, 2010

Roast Chicken with Butternut Squash

It's fall! Well, fall in Houston equals summer in most of the United States. We have been enjoying sunny days with temperatures in the 80s. It is perfection. I still want to cook with the fall spirit, so I picked up a butternut squash at the grocery. I love butternut squash, I just wish it weren't so expensive. It feels strange to spend $5 on one squash, but only $2 on the chicken quarters. Miss F gobbled the chicken up and C went back for seconds. Success! A good tip for cleaning the squash is to use a melon baller to scoop out the seeds. This recipe was adapted from Food and Wine.
Roast Chicken with Butternut Squash
serves 4

4 chicken quarters
3 tablespoons olive oil
¾ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
1 large butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 teaspoon dried sage

Heat the oven to 450°. Coat the chicken quarters with 1 tablespoon of the oil, ½ teaspoon of the salt, and 1/8 teaspoon of the pepper. Arrange the chicken quarters, skin-side up, in a large roasting pan. Toss the cubes of butternut squash with the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil, ¼ teaspoon of salt, and 1/8 teaspoon of pepper, and the sage. Add the cubes of squash to the roasting pan.

Cook, stirring the squash occasionally, for 30 to 40 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through.
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Thursday, October 7, 2010

Mini Blueberry Muffins

In honor of the teeny tiny blueberries I got on my last Costco run, these mini blueberry muffins suited them perfectly. Baking the blueberries brings out their sweetness since they weren't super tasty on their own, Miss F rejected them on more than one occasion. She did not reject the muffins, they were gobbled up with glee. She loves anything that is teeny tiny in size, perfect for her!
Mini Blueberry Muffins
makes 30

2 cups flour
½ teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons baking powder
½ cup sugar
2 tablespoons butter
¼ cup natural applesauce
1 egg
¾ cup milk
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

Preheat the oven to 350.

Sift together the flour, salt and baking powder. Cream the butter and the sugar. Add the applesauce and egg and mix to combine. Add the flour mixture alternately with the milk and mix until it forms a smooth batter. Gently fold the berries into the batter.

Spoon the batter into lined mini muffin tins. Bake the muffins for 10 to 12 minutes, until golden brown.
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Monday, October 4, 2010

Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies

I attended a baby shower a couple weeks back and they served the most amazing brownie cupcakes. Each one was filled with a Reeses Peanut Butter cup. One of the best combinations in the dessert world and I may have eaten one or two more than I should have. I didn't have any Reeses Cups here at the house today, but I still had the craving. So I improvised...with help from Martha Stewart.  C liked these...of course he piled on Butterfinger ice cream on top.
Peanut Butter Brownies
adapted from Martha Stewart

Batter:
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, plus more for pan
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
2/3 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Peanut Butter filling:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
½ cup confectioners' sugar
¾ cup smooth peanut butter
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan.

Make batter: Put butter and chocolate chips in a heatproof medium bowl set over a pan of simmering water; stir until melted. Let cool slightly. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Whisk granulated sugar into chocolate mixture. Add eggs, and whisk until mixture is smooth. Stir in vanilla. Add flour mixture; stir until well incorporated.

Make filling: Stir together butter, confectioners' sugar, peanut butter, salt, and vanilla in a bowl until smooth.

Pour one-third of batter into prepared pan; spread evenly with a rubber spatula. Drop dollops of peanut butter filling (about 1 tablespoon each) on top of batter, spacing about 1 inch apart. Drizzle remaining batter on top, and gently spread to fill pan. Drop dollops of remaining filling on top. Gently swirl peanut butter filling into batter with a butter knife, running the knife lengthwise and crosswise through layers.

Bake until a cake tester inserted into brownies (avoid center and edges) comes out with a few crumbs but is not wet, about 45 minutes. Let cool slightly in pan, about 15 minutes. Cut into squares.
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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Spanish Chicken with Rice

This is sort of a fake-out paella. C doesn't eat seafood of any kind, which makes cooking paella a challenge. I tried to adapt it to an easy weeknight meal. I thought it was really good, not as good as paella, but good enough for a Thursday night dinner. C on the other hand was not a fan. He thought there was "some weird spice", at least he is consistent.
Spanish Chicken with Red Bell Peppers and Rice
serves 4

1 pound boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ large onion, chopped
1 large red bell pepper, cut into ½ inch pieces
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon paprika
1 ½ cups white rice
1 cup dry white wine
1 (14-oz) can diced tomatoes including juice
1 ¼ cups chicken broth
¾ teaspoon crumbled saffron threads
1 bay leaf
1 cup frozen peas

Pat chicken dry and season with salt and pepper. Using a deep 12-inch heavy skillet, brown chicken in hot oil on all sides. Transfer chicken with tongs to a plate. Add onion, red pepper, and salt to taste. Cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, about 7 minutes. Add garlic, paprika, and rice, then cook, stirring 1 minute. Add wine and boil, uncovered 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes with juice, chicken broth, saffron, and bay leaf. Nestle chicken in rice adding any juices from plate.

Cook, covered, over low heat until chicken is cooked through, rice is tender, and most of liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the peas, and salt and pepper to taste. Cover skillet and let stand 10 minutes. Discard bay leaf.
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Monday, September 27, 2010

Vanilla Ice Cream

I had been toying with the idea of getting an ice cream maker all summer long. Miss F and C love ice cream more than any other dessert. When Sur la Table emailed out the sale on the colorful Cusinart Ice Cream Maker, I was in Italy. So I sent my parents over to the store to pick me up a blue one. I started with the simple vanilla ice cream recipe in the manual and it was great. I found that if I adjusted my freezer to -2 degrees, it firmed up really nicely. C said he preferred Blue Bell...ugh.  Maybe he will enjoy the next batch more.
Vanilla Ice Cream
makes 1 ½ quarts

1-1/2 cups whole milk
1-1/8 cups granulated sugar
3 cups heavy cream
1-1/2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract

In a medium mixing bowl, use a hand mixer on low speed to combine the milk and granulated sugar until the sugar is dissolved, about 1 to 2 minutes.

Stir in the heavy cream and vanilla. Turn the machine on; pour the mixture into freezer bowl, and let mix until thickened, about 20 to 25 minutes. The ice cream will have a soft, creamy texture. If a firmer consistency is desired, transfer the ice cream to an airtight container and place in freezer for about 2 hours. Remove from freezer about 15 minutes before serving.
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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Blueberry Waffles

I am down to my last bag of frozen summer blueberries. The blueberries I am finding at the store right now are tiny, tart and just not right. Blueberries are one of Miss F's favorite snacks, especially the plump and sweet summer ones. These waffles were great and would be even better with blueberry syrup.
Blueberry Waffles
makes 6 to 8 waffles

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 ¾ cups milk
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
1 tablespoon melted butter
2 large eggs
4 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 piches of salt
1 pinch of cinnamon

Separate egg yolks and whites. Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form.

In a medium-sized bowl, add egg yolks, milk and butter. Stir well.

Sift all dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Add the yolk/milk/butter mixture and whisk until smooth. Gently fold in the blueberries a Tablespoon at a time. Fold in the egg whites.

Cook in a well-greased waffle iron heated to its medium-high setting.
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Monday, September 20, 2010

Chicken Enchiladas

I made a creamy chicken enchiladas awhile back for my Bunco group and they were a big success. I decided to stock my freezer with traditonal chicken enchiladas for while my parents are here watching Miss F while we take in the sights and food of Italy. Of course, I had to make a pan for us to have straight away. These were another great use of the Crockpot Chicken Soft Tacos recipe, which I still cannot get enough of.
Chicken Enchiladas with Red Sauce

Enchilada sauce:
2 tbsp canola oil
2 tbsp flour
2 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
14 oz can chicken broth
8 oz can tomato sauce
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp garlic powder

3 cups enchilada sauce (above)
1 recipe Crockpot Chicken Tacos
2 cups shredded Colby Jack cheese
16 six-inch corn tortillas

Heat oil in saucepan; stir in flour and chili powder, cook for 1 minute. Add remaining ingredients, bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add ½ cup cheese and ½ cup enchilada sauce with the shredded chicken. Stir to combine. Microwave the tortillas, 15 to 20 seconds, until soft.

Spread 3 to 4 tablespoons of the enchilada sauce in bottom of a 9x13 glass dish. Fill each tortilla with 2 spoonfuls of chicken mixture and roll up. Place seam side down in dish, side by side. Pour remaining sauce over, top with remaining cheeses and bake at 350 degrees F until bubbling- 15-20 minutes. Garnish with sour cream, green onions, and cilantro.
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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Chicken and Artichokes with Wine Sauce

I got this fantastic recipe from Proceed with Caution. As soon as I read it, I knew I had to try it.  The recipe was easy and came together super quickly. I made a few small changes, but overall the spirit of the recipe is the same. I love anything with artichokes and mushrooms, in fact, they are my two favorite pizza toppings, so this will go into our regular menu rotation.  The sauce is especially delicious when a green bean is dipped into it.
Chicken and Artichokes with Wine Sauce
serves 4

¼ cup flour
½ teaspoon dried sage, crushed
¼ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
1 14.5 ounce can of artichokes
1 tablespoon butter
½ cup dry white wine
½ cup chicken broth
1/8 teaspoon salt

In a shallow dish, stir together flour, sage, ¼ teaspoon salt, pepper; reserve two tablespoons of flour mixture. Coat chicken in remaining flour mixture.

In a large skillet cook chicken in hot oil over medium-high heat for 8 to 10 minutes or until no longer pink, turning once. Remove chicken from skillet; cover and keep warm. Drain off any excess oil in skillet.

In the same skillet, cook mushrooms and artichoke hearts in hot butter over medium heat for 3 minutes or until artichokes are tender.

In a small bowl stir together reserved flour mixture, wine, broth, and teaspoon salt until smooth. Add wine mixture to skillet. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir for 1 minute more. Pour sauce over chicken.

Adapted from http://tpox-proceedwithcaution.blogspot.com/2010/05/chicken-and-artichokes-with-wine-sauce.html
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Monday, September 13, 2010

Peach Oat Muffins

Miss F is obsessed with the Banana Applesauce Oat Muffins, so I decided to try another flavor as I was getting bored making them nearly every week. She was not as much a fan of the peach muffins. And she loves peaches. She is a peach monster. I think she ate a whole peach while I was chopping them for the muffins. I thought they were fantastic, but I guess it is back to the old muffins for Miss F.
Peach Oat Muffins
makes 12 muffins

¾ cup all-purpose flour
¾ cup whole-wheat flour
¾ cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated
1 teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon salt
¾ cup natural applesauce
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 eggs, lightly beaten
¾ cup white sugar
¾ cup brown sugar
3 peaches, pitted and chopped

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a muffin tin with baking cups.

Combine the flours, oats, spices, baking soda and salt in a bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the applesauce, oil, eggs, and sugars. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and stir to combine. Fold in the peaches.

Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin pan. Bake for 25 minutes. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack.
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Thursday, September 9, 2010

Peach Barbecue Sauce

Lesson learned on this one. If your hot pad gets wet, it no longer protects you from the hot. I have a huge burn blister on my thumb...ouch. This barbecue sauce works well on chicken, but it would also be great on pork. The peach isn't overly sweet, the ginger counters it nicely. I am going to be so sad when the summer fruit season is over. I didn't bother to tell C that there were peaches in the sauce, what he doesn't know, won't hurt him (or cause him to turn his nose up!)
Peach Barbecue Sauce
makes 2 cups

¼ cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon onion, minced
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon ground mustard
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
¼ cup water
1 cup tomato ketchup
1 peach, peeled and pureed
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon butter

In a medium saucepan, combine all the ingredients except the butter. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. With a whisk, blend in the butter until incorporated.
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Monday, September 6, 2010

Fake Out Chick-fil-a Chicken Nuggets

Chick-fil-a is one of my favorite fast food joints. Whenever I spy a chicken nugget tray at a party, I know where I am going to be hanging out. Chick-fil-a is not open on Sundays, which is when I always end up getting a craving for some nuggets. These nuggets are nearly identical to the real thing and there is no waiting in the drive through line.  The Chick-fil-a by our house has THREE lanes at the drive through, how crazy is that?
Chick-fil-a Chicken Nuggets

½ cup vegetable oil.
½ cup flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup milk
1 boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into bite size pieces

Heat just enough oil to cover chicken over medium high heat. Stir together flour & salt. Dip chicken in milk, then flour. Dip in milk again, then flour again. Refrigerate chicken for 10-15 minutes. Fry chicken in oil for 10 minutes until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Serve with your favorite sauce.
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Thursday, September 2, 2010

Spicy Pork Stir Fry

This recipe was amazingly easy, the longest part of it was waiting for the brown rice to cook. Oh how I wish there were a quick cooking short grain brown rice, short grain rice is my favorite. I love how it sticks together, making eating it with chopsticks not nearly so hard. I will use this stir fry recipe with other meats and with other vegetable combinations.
Spicy Pork with Vegetables

Pork Marinade
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sherry
1 tablespoon corn starch

Sauce
1 cup chicken stock
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons minced ginger
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 teaspoons cornstarch

1 pound pork, sliced thin
2 to 3 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 small bunch broccoli, chopped into bite size pieces
¼ onion, chopped
5 to 6 mushrooms, sliced
handful of snow peas

2 tablespoons oil
4 slices of garlic
4 slices of ginger

Combine the soy sauce, sherry and cornstarch in a small bowl. Toss the pork to coat and set aside.

Combine the chicken stock, red pepper flakes, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, ginger and garlic in a small bowl and set aside.

In a large skillet or wok, heat the oil over high heat. Once oil comes to temperature, sauté the garlic and ginger slices for 30 seconds. Remove the garlic and ginger from the pan. Add the onion, mushrooms, carrots, broccoli and snow peas, stir fry for 3 to 5 minutes, until vegetables are tender. Remove the vegetables from the pan and set aside. Add the marinated pork and stir fry for 3 to 5 minutes, until the pork is cooked through. Return the vegetables to the pan. Pour the prepared sauce over the stir fry and cook for 1 to 3 minutes longer.

Serve over rice.
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Monday, August 30, 2010

Strawberry Shortcake

My intended dessert for my girls dinner party was a big ole strawberry cheesecake. I whipped it up, baked it, set it out to cool and went to bed. I woke up at 6 am with the sad reliazation that the cheesecake had never been put in the refrigerator. Whoops! These shortcakes are easy to make ahead, just whip the cream when you are ready to serve. Everything else can be done in advance. Or just make a cheesecake and abide by proper food safety rules.
Strawberry Shortcake
makes one dozen

6 cups sliced strawberries
¼ cup sugar
4 cups flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons salt
2/3 cup sugar
½ cup butter
1 ½ cup half and half
Melted butter to brush shortcakes
whipped cream

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a medium bowl, stir together the berries and sugar. Set berries aside to macerate while you prepare the shortcakes. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Cut in butter and shortening. Mix in half-and-half. Drop by large spoonfuls onto a baking sheet. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 15 minutes or until brown.

To serve, split the biscuit in two, spoon the berry mixture over the bottom half top with whipped cream and the other half of the biscuit.
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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Black Midnight Cake

This is another of my grandmother's amazing cake recipes. The other I have blogged is the yellow cake, the Lazy Daisy cake. This chocolate cake is exceptional. It even trumps Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate cake, which is my usual go to for chocolate cakes. There are some odd measurements (1/3 of a teaspoon?), but my guesstimations worked just fine. I frosted it with a white buttercream, but you could get as creative as you like.
Black Midnight Cake

⅔ cup butter
1⅔ cup sugar
3 eggs
⅔ cup cocoa
1⅓ cup cold water
2 cups flour
⅓ teaspoon baking powder
1¼ teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in the eggs. In a separate bowl, blend together the cocoa and water. Mix in the cocoa mixture to the batter. Sift the flour, baking powder and baking soda into the batter. Add the vanilla. Pour into two 8” or 9” floured and greased cake pans. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes
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