Friday, October 31, 2014

Butternut Bisque

Butternut Bisque
I am obsessed with butternut squash soups. I love them completely. I have come along way from my original recipe. I also love it with apples, in a chowder or even in stew.  This soup is perfection and quite easy to make, except for peeling the butternut squash. For some reason, I get some sort of reaction on my skin whenever I touch butternut squash raw. Thankfully eating it doesn't cause any issues at all!  C and Miss F weren't as big of fans.  Miss F was okay with it, as long as she could dip her crouton in it.  C whined about the thyme flavor, oh well, more soup for me.
Butternut Bisque

3 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, sliced
½ teaspoon dried thyme
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Coarse salt
1 large butternut squash (about 4 pounds), peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch cubes
2 cups chicken broth
3 cups water
1 cup half-and-half
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

In a large sauce pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, thyme and cayenne; season with salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 7 minutes, until the onion is soft. Add the squash, broth and water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 20 minutes, until squash is tender. Using a stick blender, puree the soup until smooth. Stir in the half-and-half and lemon juice, season with salt and pepper. Serve.
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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Apple Cider Doughnuts

Apple Cider Doughnuts
Miss F could have doughnuts for breakfast every single day. Or Cheerios. She loves both equally. My mom had given me a jug of apple cider and Miss F was content to drink every last drop of it, but I was able to snag enough from her to make these amazing doughnuts. The powdered sugar makes quite a mess, but it is worth it. These have a great fall flavor and are a perfect was to use apple cider.  Thanks to Hezzi-D Books and Cooks for the fantastic recipe.
Apple Cider Doughnuts

1 cup apple cider
1 ¾ cup flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter, melted
½ cup sugar
1 large egg
¼ cup milk

¼ cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring the apple cider to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered for 15-20 minutes or until the cider has reduced to 1/3 cup. Set aside to cool.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spray a doughnut pan with cooking spray and set aside. In a medium mixing bowl combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Stir in the butter, sugar, egg and milk. Mix until just combined. Fill the doughnut pan 2/3 of the way full and bake for 8 to 11 minutes, until the doughnuts are golden brown. Cool doughnuts on a wire rack.

In a shallow bowl, stir together the powdered sugar and cinnamon. Toss the cooled doughnuts in the cinnamon sugar until coated.
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Monday, October 27, 2014

Braised Short Ribs with Parmesan Gnocchi

Braised Short Ribs with Parmesan Gnocchi
This recipe was a compilation from Martha Stewart and The Hopeless Housewife.  I love gnocchi, so does C.  Miss F took some convincing and I still don't think she was sold on it.  She just isn't a fan of potatoes, she doesn't even love French fries!  No worries, she didn't go hungry at all.  She calls short ribs, "more meat!" because that is what she always proclaims whenever we have it.  I don't think I will ever eat leftover mashed potatoes again, they will always be reserved for making gnocchi.  I have this nifty gnocchi roller that works perfectly for adding the grooves to the pasta.
Braised Short Ribs with Parmesan Gnocchi

1 to 1 ½ pounds boneless short ribs
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
6 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
1 ½ cups red wine
2 cups beef broth
1 teaspoon thyme
1 bay leaf

2 cups mashed potatoes
1 large egg
1 cup flour
¼ cup grated Parmesan
¼ teaspoon salt

fresh basil

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees. Season the short ribs with salt and pepper. In a dutch oven, heat the vegetable oil over medium high heat and sear all sides of the short ribs, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Remove the short ribs and set aside. Pulse the carrots, onion and garlic in a food processor four or five times, until roughly minced. Add the carrots, onion and garlic to the dutch oven and saute until tender, about two minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and saute for a minute more. Add the wine to deglaze the pan, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom. Stir in the beef broth, thyme and bay leaf. Return the short ribs to the pot and cover. Place in the oven and cook for 3 hours, until tender. Remove the short ribs from the pot and shred the meat with two forks. Return the meat to the pot and stir to combine, salt and pepper to taste.

Boil 6 quarts of water in a large pot. Stir together the mashed potatoes and egg yolk, then stir in the flour, Parmesan and salt. If the dough it still quite sticky, add more flour a tablespoon at a time. Place the dough on a floured surface and knead a couple times. Divide the dough into four equal pieces, then roll each into ½" diameter logs. Cut into 1" long gnocchis, the use a fork to add grooves to each. Place the gnocchi into the large pot and cook until they rise to the top. Remove with a slotted spoon and top with the short ribs and basil.
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Friday, October 24, 2014

Oven Fried Parmesan Drumsticks

Oven Fried Parmesan Drumsticks
I love "frying" chicken in the oven. When I saw this recipe from Diabetic Living via Pinterest, I knew it would be a hit in our house. I wish frying chicken didn't cause the house to smell like a fryer for days on end.  Miss F and C were both huge fans of the chicken, as was I.  C wanted mashed potatoes with skins on, but since I knew I was going to use the leftovers to make gnocchi, so I got to make them creamy, just like my mom makes.  Who wants lumpy mashed potatoes with skins?
Oven Fried Parmesan Drumsticks

1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons milk
1/3 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
1/3 cup bread crumbs
1 teaspoon oregano
½ teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
8 chicken drumsticks, skinned
2 tablespoons butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease a baking pan. In a shallow bowl, whisk together the egg and milk. In a second shallow bowl, stir together the parmesan, bread crumbs, oregano, paprika, salt and pepper. Dip the drumsticks in the egg mixture, coating completely, then dip each in the bread crumb mixture, coating completely. Place on the baking pan and drizzle with the melted butter. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, serve.
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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Chipotle Chicken Fajita Spaghetti

Chipotle Chicken Spaghetti
I always keep chipotle peppers in the freezer. I never use a whole can in any recipe, so it is quite convenient to always have some on hand. This recipe came about when my mom brought me several bell peppers and cilantro from her garden. The chipotle adds such a nice spice to the dish. Miss F gobbled this right up, she has been a big fan of bell peppers lately. I think it is because we harvest them from the garden. We have tomatoes, bell peppers, pumpkins, cucumber and okra in the fall garden. I can't wait to get them all! 
Chipotle Chicken Fajita Spaghetti

1 pound spaghetti
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
1 green bell pepper, sliced
1 red bell pepper, sliced
½ onion, sliced
¼ cup white wine
½ cup chicken stock
1 chipotle pepper, minced
1 tablespoon of adobo sauce
½ cup heavy cream
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro

Prepare the spaghetti per package directions, drain and set aside. Heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium high heat. Add the chicken, bell peppers, and onion, saute for 6 to 8 minutes. Deglaze the pan with the wine, then stir in the chicken stock, chipotle and adobo sauce. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and stir in the cream and tomatoes. Toss the spaghetti with the sauce, chicken and bell peppers. Top with cilantro and serve.
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Monday, October 20, 2014

Jack Skellington Cookies

Jack Skellington Cookies
I have never decorated cookies in any sort of fancy way. A smear of buttercream and a dousing of sprinkles is about as far as I would go. Miss F saw this recipe in our fall issue of the Mickey Monitor (the Disney annual passholder newsletter) and she had to make them. I was very wary. C insisted he would draw the faces since I was so nervous about it. I originally bought black gel icing to decorate them, but that was a total fail. My Kroger didn't carry black food coloring, but our local Party City did (so does Amazon.) Royal icing was SO much easier to use than I expected. I used these nifty tools to pipe the eyes, nose and mouth.
Jack Skellington Sugar Cookies

2 ½ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

2 egg whites
3 cups confectioner’s sugar
Black food coloring paste

Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl and whisk until combined. Set aside. Combine butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Add flour mixture in three parts. Once dough comes together, cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a floured surface, roll out dough to ¼ inch thickness. Using a round cookie cutter or an overturned cup, cut dough into circles about 3 inches in diameter. Place cookies 1 inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely before icing.

Place egg whites in bowl of an electric mixer; whisk until frothy. Add confectioners’ sugar a little at a time, until thick but still spreadable. Place 1/3 of icing in a separate bowl. Add black food coloring paste to reserved icing and stir until color is uniform. Decorate cooled cookies by covering with white icing and letting it dry (placing cookies in the refrigerator will speed up this process). Place black icing in a pastry bag or a plastic resealable bag and cut off a tiny bit of the corner to create a very small hole. Use black icing to draw eyes, nostrils and stitched mouth on each cookie.
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Friday, October 17, 2014

Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin

Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin
Years ago, I received a Taste Book of my friend's family recipes as a gift. I use several of the recipes in the book, but the bacon wrapped pork tenderloin is the one I go back to the most often. I swapped out the seasoning for my Maryland friendly Old Bay, but other than that, I am very true to the recipe. Miss F loves bacon in any format, so this tenderloin is always a hit. This would be great for a dinner party because you could prep it in advance and cook it while you socialize with your guests.  Be sure to broil it at the end to really crisp up the bacon, there is nothing worse than soggy bacon!
Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin

1 pork tenderloin, trimmed
1 teaspoon Old Bay
1 clove garlic, sliced
5 slices of bacon

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Sprinkle the Old Bay all over the outside of the pork tenderloin, making sure to coat the meat evenly. Make slashes in the meat with a knife every inch or so, nestle a garlic slice in each notch. Wrap the tenderloin in the bacon and place in a baking dish. Bake for 45 minutes, until the pork has reached an internal temperature of 155 degrees. Turn on the broiler and broil for 2 to 4 minutes to crisp the bacon. Let the meat rest for 10 minutes, slice and serve.
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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Steakhouse Honey Wheat Bread

Steakhouse Honey Wheat Bread
I have a major bread obsession. And honey wheat bread is near the very top of my favorite bread list, probably only surpassed by sourdough, which I am still not brave enough to try at home.  These adorable mini bread boules were perfection.  The undertones of molasses, cocoa and honey made for a near perfect bread.  This recipe is adapted from Never Enough Thyme.  I definitely agree with her recommendation to use plenty of butter when enjoying this bread, the more butter the better.
Steakhouse Honey Wheat Bread

1 ¼ cups warm water (105-110 degrees)
2 teaspoons sugar
2 ¼ teaspoons yeast
2 cups bread flour
1 ¾ cups whole wheat flour
1 ½ tablespoons cocoa
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter, softened
¼ cup honey
2 tablespoons molasses
Yellow cornmeal for dusting

Combine the water in sugar in a two cup measure, sprinkle the yeast overtop and allow to sit for five minutes. Mix together the flours, cocoa and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the yeast mixture, butter, honey and molasses to the bowl. Stir to incorporate. Knead for 8 to 10 minutes on low. Remove the dough from the bowl, spray the bowl with cooking spray and return the dough to the bowl. Turn to coat all the dough in cooking spray. Cover and let rise in a warm place for one hour, until doubled in size. Divide the dough into six equal portions. Form each portion into a round boule. Sprinkle cornmeal on the work surface. Moisten each boule very lightly and roll in the cornmeal. Place on a silpat lined baking sheet, cover and let rise for one hour more, until doubled in size. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Uncover the dough and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, cool for 10 to 15 minutes and serve.
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Monday, October 13, 2014

Chicken and Dumplings

Chicken and Dumplings
I love dumplings. They were one of my favorites as a kid, whenever my mom made beef stew, I always filled up on dumplings and ate very little of the stew itself. And whatever stew I did eat, I dipped it in ketchup, even the carrots.  This recipe from Smells Like Home is a classic chicken and dumplings recipe.  I can still pretend it is fall, even though the temperatures are still in the 80s and 90s around here.  I used my disher to scoop out the dumplings and it really made things quite easy. 
Chicken and Dumplings

2 ½ pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs and legs
2 teaspoons canola oil
4 carrots, peeled and sliced ¼ inch thick
2 ribs celery, sliced ¼ inch thick
1 onion, minced
¼ cup flour
1 tablespoons dry sherry
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
¼ cup milk
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried parsley
2 bay leaves
1 cup frozen green peas

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
3 tablespoons butter

Pat the chicken dry and season with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the chicken, skin side down and brown both sides. Remove the chicken from the pot and remove the skin from the chicken. Add the carrots, celery, onion and ¼ teaspoon salt to the pan. Cook until the vegetables have softened, about 7 minutes. Stir in the flour, then whisk in the sherry, scraping up any browned bits. Whisk in the broth and milk, then add the thyme, parsley and bay leaves. Return the chicken to the pot, cover and simmer on low for one hour. Remove the chicken and bay leaves from the pot. Discard the chicken bones and then shred the meat. Stir the shredded chicken into the stew, add the peas, then salt and pepper to taste.

Stir the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl. Add the milk and butter to a two cup measure, microwave for one minute. Stir the milk into the flour mixture just until combined. Scoop out golf ball sized pieces of batter and gently lower them into the stew. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 15 to 18 minutes. Serve.
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Friday, October 10, 2014

Crockpot Cheddar Beer Chicken Tacos

Crockpot Cheddar Beer Chicken Tacos
Cheddar cheese is a big winner at my house. Miss F and C both cannot get enough of it, so when I saw this recipe from How Sweet It Is, I knew it would be a hit.  And I also knew that both of them would pile their tacos high with even more cheese, even though I assured them both that plenty of cheese had already been mixed in with the chicken.  This recipe reminds me of one of my favorites, crockpot chicken tacos, but without the seasoning packet.  I really enjoyed this spice blend and I am going to use it in place of the taco seasoning packet when I make it next.  Miss F also enjoyed the leftover chicken in quesadillas in her lunch box, with plenty additional cheese. 
Crockpot Cheddar Beer Chicken Tacos

2 teaspoons chili powder
1 ½ teaspoons cumin
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon onion powder
pinch of cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup beer
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
½ cup grated cheddar cheese + more for topping
12 tortillas
toppings: sour cream, avocado, cilantro, salsa, onion, black beans, tomato

In a small bowl, stir together the chili powder, cumin, garlic, onion, paprika, cayenne, and salt. Stir in the beer. Add the chicken to a greased crockpot. Pour the beer mixture over top. Cook on low for 7 to 8 hours. Shred the chicken with two forks and leave in the crockpot for 15 additional minutes. Turnn off the crockpot and stir in the cheddar cheese. Assemble the tacos, adding whatever toppings you desire.
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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Apricot Roast Chicken

Apricot Roast Chicken
I love roast chicken, especially when cooked over a bed of root vegetables. It is so easy to prep and always yields impressive results.  This recipe is amazingly easy and perfect for an autumn Sunday dinner.   I adapted this recipe from the Organic Kitchen, I even used an organic whole chicken because I got one in the meat sale bin.  It was so much smaller than the franken chickens I am used to, which meant that it actually worked for a weeknight meal because it cooked up so quickly.  The sweet orange and apricot glaze made for delicious chicken skin.
Apricot Roast Chicken

One whole chicken
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons apricot preserves
1 orange, half sliced and half juiced
1 teaspoon Herbes de Provence
5 red potatoes, halved
8 carrots, peeled and cut into 2 inch pieces
4 shallots, peeled (if small leave whole, if large cut in half)
2 stalks celery, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Clean the chicken, removing all giblets. Place the chicken in a roasting pan. Whisk together 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, the orange juice and apricot preserves in a small bowl, brush the mixture on all sides of the chicken and stuff the juiced orange half in the cavity. Sprinkle the chicken with half of the Herbes de Provence, ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Layer the potatoes, carrots, shallots and celery around the chicken, toss with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Sprinkle with the remaining Herbes de Provence, ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Place the roasting pan in the oven and roast for 20 minutes per pound, until the temperature of the thickest part of the thigh reaches 155 degrees. Remove from the oven, tent with foil and let rest for 10 minutes. Carve and serve.
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Monday, October 6, 2014

Texas Toast

Texas Toast
C: What is this brick bread?
Me: What are you talking about?
Miss F: Can we build a house with it?
C would much prefer the inflate with air Mrs Baird's Texas Toast from the grocery store, but Miss F and I much prefer homemade bread, whether or not you can build a house with it is still up for debate. I love having a big slice of Texas Toast with barbecue, it is what makes the meal. I have always loved bread, it is probably my most favorite food group. This bread goes perfectly with barbecue, but it also made amazing sandwiches the following day. I am always looking for new breads to bake for Miss F's lunch box and this recipe is definitely going into the usual rotation. Recipe based from Just a Pinch.
Texas Toast

3 to 3 ½ cups flour
2 ¼ teaspoons yeast
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg

In the bowl of the stand mixer, combine 1 ½ cups of the flour and the yeast. In a small saucepan, heat milk, sugar, butter and salt over medium heat until the butter is just melted, stirring constantly. Add the warm milk to flour mixture, then add the egg. Beat at low speed for 30 seconds, scraping the bowl. Beat at high speed for three minutes and stir in the remaining flour. Swap out the mixing paddle for the kneading attachment and knead at low speed for 6 minutes. Shape into a ball, cover and let rise in a warm place for one hour.

Punch down the dough, cover and let rest for 10 minutes. Place the dough into a greased loaf pan and let rise 30 minutes more. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 35 to 40 minutes, cover with foil for the last 15 minutes. Remove from the pan and cool on a wire rack. Slice into 1" thick slices.
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Friday, October 3, 2014

Tomatillo Chicken

Tomatillo Chicken
This may be one of the ugliest meals I have made in awhile. And it was also one of the tastiest. I ate over half of my chicken breast during dinner and decided to save the remainder for lunch the next day. It didn't make it to lunch. About an hour after dinner, I went into the fridge and devoured the rest. The chicken was full of flavor from the brine and the sauce, based on my favorite Deluxe Tomatillo Sauce from Chuy's, was perfection.  Thanks to Confections of a Foodie Bride for the brining inspiration and thanks to my friend Jen for always agreeing to meet me for lunch at Chuy's.
Tomatillo Chicken

4 cups water
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon salt
juice from one lime
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 can (28 ounces) tomatillos, drained
1 cup chicken broth
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
1 clove garlic, minced
½ jalapeno, minced
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon sugar
1 cup sour cream
3 cups cooked white rice

Stir together the water, sugar, salt and lime juice in a sealable plastic bag. Add the chicken breasts and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease a baking dish and add the chicken in a single layer. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until cooked through.

In a saucepan, combine tomatillos, broth, cumin, lime juice, garlic, jalapeno, salt and sugar. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat. Puree until smooth with an immersion blender. Return to heat, stir in the sour cream and cook 3 minutes more until heated through. Serve the chicken over the rice with the tomatillo sauce poured over top.
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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

White Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

White Chocolate Chip Banana Bread
Miss F has a banana bread obsession. She loves it. She will eat it for breakfast, as a snack and even as dessert after dinner. I remember loving it as a kid as well, so I always use my mom's recipe to take me back to childhood. I had some white chocolate chips left over from these cookies, so I decided to adapt mom's recipe a bit and add them. The chips melted in with the bread and it made for the most decadent banana bread ever. Miss F was a huge fan and so was I.  If you don't have unsweetened applesauce on hand, use 1/2 cup of vegetable oil instead.
White Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

1 ¾ cup flour
¾ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup sugar
1 ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
2 eggs
¼ cup vegetable oil
¼ cup unsweetened applesauce (may use vegetable oil in place of applesauce)
2 over ripe bananas
½ cup white chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, sift the first five ingredients together. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs, oil, applesauce and bananas at medium speed until well combined. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until well combined, stir in the chips. Grease the loaf pan and fill with the batter. Bake for 45 minutes, let cool before slicing.
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