Thursday, December 9, 2010

Christmas Breakfast Pudding

I usually don't post a recipe before I make it for purposes of providing a picture that I took but I am going to make an exception today....(I have made it several times, I just do it on Christmas so I don't have a picture) This is a delicious breakfast for Christmas and it can be assembled the night before so all you have to do on Christmas morning is put it in the oven and that makes it EVEN BETTER!!!!!!!!

This recipe serves 10 so unless you have a gang of kids or plan on having guests, I would advise you cut the recipe in half. It makes a FULL 9x13 pan and will bubble over the edges so I usually split it into 2 pans which also give you the option to share or freeze half of it. The recipe looks like its a lot of work but it really isn't and it is definitely worth the time and effort.

Ingredients
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup finely chopped yellow onions
1/4 cup finely chopped green bell peppers
1/4 cup finely chopped red bell peppers
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley leaves
6 ounces Canadian bacon or baked ham, trimmed and diced
6 ounces hot smoked sausage, chopped
8 large eggs
3 cups whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 1/4 teaspoons Creole Seasoning
8 cups (1-inch cubes) stale French or Italian bread, or rolls
8 ounces grated Gouda or Fontina cheese (about 2 cups)
1/2 cup fine dry bread crumbs
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degree F. Lightly grease a 3-quart (9 by 13-inch) baking dish with 1 tablespoon of the butter and set aside.

In a medium skillet, melt 2 teaspoons of the butter over medium-high heat. Add the onions, green and red bell peppers, 1/4 teaspoon of the salt, and 1/8 teaspoon of the pepper and cook, stirring, until soft, 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 30 seconds. Add the parsley, stir, and remove from the heat. Let cool.

In a medium skillet, melt the remaining 1 teaspoon butter over medium-high heat. Add the Canadian bacon and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Add the sausage to the skillet and cook, stirring, until lightly browned, 5 to 6 minutes. Drain on paper towels and let cool.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs. Add the milk, cream, 1 teaspoon of the Essence, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and remaining 1/8 teaspoon pepper and whisk to combine. Add the bread cubes and let sit for 5 minutes. Add the cooked Canadian bacon and sausage, the onion mixture, and the Gouda cheese and stir to incorporate the ingredients. Pour into the prepared dish, cover with aluminum foil, and bake until almost completely set, 50 to 55 minutes.

(Alternatively, the bread pudding can be assembled up to this point, covered, and refrigerated 8 hours or overnight, and then baked. Let sit at room temperature while preheating the oven, before baking. )

In a small bowl, combine the bread crumbs, Parmesan, melted butter, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon Essence. Uncover the pudding and sprinkle the bread crumb mixture evenly over the top. Return to the oven, increase the heat to 375 degrees F and bake until the pudding is completely set in the center, puffed, and golden brown on top, about 20 minutes.

Let sit for 15 minutes before serving.

FYI... this is an accurate picture of what it looks like when it is done.









Sour Cream Chicken

Since so many people asked for this recipe I thought I would post it. It is super easy and can be made a little more healthy if you want to use fat free sour cream. I loved the sound of coating the chicken in sour cream and once I started making it I was so excited for this recipe because it makes a thick and creamy coating and the breadcrumbs stick to it! This chicken is good, fast and doesn't require any additional seasoning.

Ingredients:

4 chicken breasts
1 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons of onion seasoning (dry onion soup mix will work - or you can substitute the sour cream and onion seasoning for sour cream and onion dip in the dairy section)
2 cups of seasoned breadcrumbs **

Directions:

1. Mix the sour cream and onion seasoning.

2. Dip the chicken in the sour cream and coat completely.

3. Coat in breadcrumbs.

4. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until juices run clear.

** Another option is to substitute breadcrumbs for crushed sour cream and onion potato chips. I have used this as breading on chicken nuggets and it is good. But my scale tells me that I do not need to bread my chicken in potato chips!

And sorry for not having an actual photo of what I cooked... it was long gone by the time I posted this.



Happy Holidays!


Sunday, September 26, 2010

Baked Parmesan Tenders


Ingredients:

1 pound chicken tenders
2 cups Italian breadcrumbs
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
2 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup milk

1. Preheat over to 350 degrees. Line baking sheet with foil and spray with non-stick spray.

2. Combine beaten eggs and milk in medium bowl. Combine breadcrumbs, cheese and seasoning in large bowl.

3. Dip each tender in the egg/milk mix and then toss in breadcrumbs.

4. Place on baking sheet and bake for 30-40 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink in center and juices run clear.

Chicken Chili


Ingredients:

1 pound ground chicken
1 medium onion
1 green pepper
1 can kidney beans
1 can whole stewed tomatoes
6 ounce can of tomato sauce
1 small can chopped jalapenos (omit for mild chili)
1 1/2 cup water
1 packet of chili seasoning
1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper (omit for mild chili)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup flour

Shredded cheese (optional)
Fritos or cornbread (optional)

Directions:

1. Chop onion and put in large pot with ground chicken. Cook over medium-high heat until chicken is cooked.

2. Stir in remaining items except flour. Cover and let simmer on medium heat for 15 minutes.

3. Stir and reduce heat to low for 45 minutes. About 5 minutes before serving add flour (if needed) to thicken the chili up to your preferred consistency.

Serves 4-6 people.

Friday, September 17, 2010

BBQ Chicken


Ingredients:

1 cup ketchup
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1-3 pounds of chicken

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In large bowl mix all ingredients together except the chicken. reserve 1/3 cup of the sauce; set aside. Add the chicken to the remaining sauce in the bowl, turning to coat.

Arrange the coated chicken on a roasting pan. Cook 40-45 minutes or until cooked through, basting with the reserved 1/3 sauce after 20 minutes.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Leonard's Malasadas



These are sugary donuts with no hole. The WARM chocholate filled ones were hands-down the best thing I have ever eaten in my life!!!!!!!!!! (They are far superior to Krispy Kreme, which I dearly love.)

I saw this place on Food Network and made a point to go there while in Hawaii. It was to die for! Although the chocolate ones were best, I only have the recipe for the plain ones which were also delicious. Don't worry, figuring out how to make the chocolate ones is on my adgenda and it's pretty high up on the list!

Ingredients:

2 teaspoons dry active yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1 tablespoon sugar plus 1/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 eggs, well beaten
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Vegatbel oil for frying
Cinnamon-sugar for coating (about 1/4 cup suagr mixed with cinnamon to taste)

Directions:

In a medium bowl, combine the yeast with 1/4 cup lukewarm water and 1 tablesppon of sugar. Mix until the yeast dissolves then set aside for 5 minutes. Stir the milk, vanilla, eggs and butter and reserve.

In a large bowl, mix the flour with the 1/3 cup of sugar, salt and nutmeg. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Pour the yeast and milk mixture into the well. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry, forming a soft, smooth dough. Cover the dough with a clean towel and set aside to rise in a warm place until dough doubles in size, about one hour. (A good place that is warm, is the back portion of your stove top after you have been using your oven. Also, depending on the humidity, it may take them longer to rise. Use your eyes and do not rely on the time alone.)

Punch the dough down, then with oiled fingers, pinch off pieces about the size of golf balls. Place the dough balls on greased baking sheets. Cover the malasadas with a clean towel and set aside to rise in a warm place for about 15 minutes.

In a heavy, high-sided pot (or electric fryer if you have one) heat about 2-inches of oil over medium to medium-high heat until the oil reaches 325 degrees F. Working in small batches, fry the malasadas until they are uniformly golden brown, 7-10 minutes per batch. Drain the malasadas on a plate lined with paper towels just until they are cool enough to handle, then roll in cinnamon-sugar and serve.

To help you, check out the website for photos of them being made....

http://www.leonardshawaii.com/malasadas.html

Recipe courtesy Chef Leonard Rego, Leonard's Bakery - Hawaii

3 Step Quickie Chicky Parm

Have you missed me? I have been so busy getting ready and recovering from my travels that I haven't been cooking (well I did make some pancakes for my lovey in Hawaii.) The good news is, I have some really yummolicious things coming up. I have a new recipe that I got in Hawaii and then lots of Halloween stuff coming up!!

Since I just got back I haven't been to the store so I had to whip something up with what I had in the house. The good thing about this recipe is it is simple but you can also amp it up with gourmet ingredients if you like.

Ingrediets:
4 frozen breaded chicken breasts ( I use Tyson's)
1/2 box of spaghetti noodles
1/2 jar spaghetti sauce
4 slices of mozzerella cheese to melt over chicken

Directions
1. Prepare noodles and mix with spaghetti sauce.
2. Bake chicken brests in oven as directed.
3. Place slice of mozzerella cheese on top of each chicken breast and place under the broiler to melt.

Combine on plate. Serve with vegtables of your choice or a side salad.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Speedy Fettuccine


Ingredients:
9 ounces fettuccine noodles
1 tablespoon butter
3/4 cup of frozen baby sweet peas (or broccoli)
2/3 cup half and half
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Garnish: fresh shaved Parmesan cheese

Optional: Grilled chicken

1. Prepare pasta according to package directions.

2. Melt butter in large skillet over medium heat. Add peas and next 6 ingredients. Reduce heat to low, and cook, stirring constantly, 5 minutes or until cheese is melted. Stir in hot cooked pasta (and grilled chicken, optional) and serve immediately.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Parmesan Crusted Chicken with Creamy Risotto

Ok so no picture today =( I tried to take one and it just didn't do the recipe any justice. You're just going to have to trust me on this one. It is really straightforward and yummy. Usually I like to double the cheese in recipes because I love it so however, this is NOT one of those recipes. If you double any of the cheeses, especially the cream cheese, it will overpower the dish. You can substitue or add vegtables to this if you are not a fan of zucchini although I suggest you leave the onion. I am not a zucchini fan but will eat it in this and it is a good way to sneak green veggies in. If you do substitute, make sure you use something with a similiar texture.

This is really one of my favorite dinner recipes for 3 reasons:
1. Its delish
2. You only have to dirty one skillet
3. It takes less than 30 minutes

Ingredients:
2 eggs
1/4 cup plain dry bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese (divided)
1/2 teaspoon of pepper
4-6 boneless chicken breast (remember you can brine your chicken)
2 tablespoons vegtable oil
1 can (14.5 ounces) petite diced tomatoes
1 can (10.75 ounces) condensed tomato soup
1/3 cup of water
1 1/4 cups 2% milk
1 medium zucchini
1/2 medium onion
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 cups uncooked instant white rice
2 ounces cream cheese, softened

1. Beat your eggs in one dish. Combine bread crumbs, 1/4 cup parmesan cheese and black pepper in second bowl. Dip chicken into eggs, then into bread crumb mixture. Sprinkle chicken with any remaining bread crumb mixture. Heat oil in 12 inch skillet over medium-high heat 1-3 minutes or until oil is shimmering. Add chicken; cook 3-5 minutes in each side or until internal temp is 165 degrees in the thickest part of the chicken and centers are no longer pink. (I like to beat my chicken flat. It makes the breading stay on much better and it cooks faster.)

2. While chicken cooks, pour tomatoes, water, soup and milk in a bowl and mix well. Slice zucchini lengthwise into quarters, then crosswise into 1/4 inch slices. Chop onion.

3. Remove chicken from skillet and kep warm. Combine zucchini, onion, garlic, salt and pepper flakes into skillet. Cook 1-3 minutes or until fragrant. Add rice and tomoato mixture. Bring to a simmer and cook for 3 minutes. Cover and remove from heat. (If you don't have a cover for your big skillet like me, put a pizza pan or foil on top to keep the steam in so the rice will cook.) Add cream cheese and remaining parmesan cheese; stir until incorporated. Put chicken on top of risotto and serve.



Friday, July 23, 2010

Fudge Pie



This is my favorite thing. This is the best and easiest recipe. It takes less than 5 minutes to mix it up and 25 minutes to bake. The hardest part is waiting for it to cool off so you can eat it. As long as you mix the ingredients in the order stated, you can't go wrong.

Ingredients:

1 stick of butter
3 squares of Bakers semi-sweet chocolate
1 cup of sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 9-inch frozen pie crust

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Melt butter and chocolate in saucepan over LOW heat.

3. Remove pan from heat and mix in sugar.

4. Next, mix in beaten eggs. (You must add the ingredients in this order.)

5. Pour into pie crust and bake for 22-25 minutes or until pie is set.

Yep, that's it!!


Thursday, July 22, 2010

Almond Chicken Stir-Fry & Noodle Cake


This is an easy stir-fry recipe that you will be able to make without looking at the recipe after the first time. Also, the chicken recipe is really good if you want to make chicken for a salad or some other dish. Coating chicken with egg white and cornstarch gives them a light and velvety texture.

Ingredients:
2 packages of Chicken flavored Ramen noodles
1 egg white
2 tablespoons of corn starch (divided)
1 pound chicken tenders
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon ginger root
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1/4 cup silvered almonds (divided)
1 can of chicken broth (about 15 ounces)
2 bags of stir-fry vegetables (I use Birds Eye.)
1/2 teaspoon of pepper

1. For the chicken, lightly whisk egg white in a medium sized bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of the cornstarch and one season packet from the ramen noodles. Slice chicken into 1-inch pieces. Toss with mixture and set aside.

2. Place almonds in the skillet and cook over medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes or until toasted. These are easy to burn so watch them! Remove from skillet and set aside.

3. Prepare noodle cake (directions follow) and steam bags of vegetables according to package instructions. While noodle cake and veggies cook, add oil to skillet over medium-high heat for 1-3 minutes or until shimmering. Add coated chicken pieces to skillet. (They will probably all be stuck together so break them up.) Cook and stir for 4-6 minutes or until center of chicken is no longer pink. Remove chicken from skillet and keep warm.

4. To finish stir-fry, whisk together chicken broth and 1 tablespoon of cornstarch. Add to skillet and bring to a simmer, stirring frequently. Add ginger root and garlic to skillet. Heat until fragrant, stirring constantly. Add cooked vegetables and chicken to skillet; simmer 1-2 minutes until heated through. Stir in half of the almonds. Serve over noodle cake and sprinkle with remaining almonds and pepper.

Noodle Cake Directions:

1. Prepare both packs of noodles on stove or in microwave. Drain water off and add remaining packet of seasoning and 1 tablespoon of oil.

2. Lightly spray a 10-12 inch skillet with vegetable oil or non-stick spray; heat over medium-high heat 1-3 minutes or until hot.

3. Add noodles to pan. Gently press to form a cake. Noodles will need to cook at least 3-4 minutes (if not longer) on each side until golden brown. Lift edges to make sure the first side is done before attempting to flip or it will fall apart. You will need 2 spatulas to flip - or at least I do. Mine typically looks better and is browner than in the picture below. I had to rush because I had a 2-year latched to my leg. Cut into wedges like a pizza and serve.


Monday, July 19, 2010

Taking You to School on Juicy Breasts


I am always in a hurry to get dinner done and am paranoid about my chicken being raw in the middle - because even with a thermometer it has happened before. The miracle fix for this is BRINING!!

Brining simply means soaking something in a salt-water solution, and it noticeably improves the flavor, texture and juiciness of the meat. Without getting into too much science, the salt loosens up the proteins in meat, which allows more water to be trapped in the meat when it’s cooked, making it more plump and juicy.
To make a brine solution, dissolve 1 1/2 tbsp. table salt (or 1/4 cup kosher salt) in 8 cups of cold water inside a zip-top bag. Let the breasts marinate (there’s enough brine for four breasts) for 30-45 minutes in the refrigerator.

The Pan-Roasted Chicken with Lemon recipe (in another post below) is the perfect recipe to test the brining method. Before you insert the herbs under the skin, brine the whole pieces in a solution of 3/4 cup kosher salt and 1 quart of water for one hour. You’ll never cook chicken without brining again.

Chicken breasts are also fairly uneven in thickness—the top end is usually plump and wide, and the bottom end is fairly narrow and thin—which can cause the breast to dry out in some places before the thicker section is cooked. To remedy this, you can pound and flatten the breast (with a meat tenderizer or a plastic-wrapped mallet) to a more even thickness. Flattening-out the thicker parts also means you can cut your cooking time by a few minutes.

The method you use to cook the chicken will also affect its overall juiciness. Grilling, pan-sauteing, roasting or baking the breast in an open pan allows a lot of the moisture in the meat to evaporate. If you cook the breast en papillote [in pap-ee-yoht], a fancy (but super-easy) French technique of steam-cooking meat inside parchment paper packets (aluminum foil works, too), you won’t lose much moisture. The beauty of this method is that you can throw all sorts of veggies, herbs or steaming liquid (think: wine, vinegar, citrus juice) in the packet with the chicken to make a complete, flavorful meal—with very little clean up.

The basic directions for cooking en papillote: Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Season both sides of the brined chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Lay out 12-inch squares of heavy-duty aluminum foil for each breast, and place the chicken in the center of the foil. Bend opposite sides of the foil into a tent over the widest sides of the breast and crimp the edges together. Fold once or twice more to seal. Close the open sides of the packet by folding them over several times (but not so tightly that the meat touches the ends of the packet). Place the packets on a baking sheet and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. *Be careful when opening the foil to serve. The steam will be very hot!

Also the recipe for Spicy Southwest Chicken Sandwich (also in another post below) calls for leftover chicken, but you could easily cook a few breasts, lightly coated in some of the adobo sauce mixture, in foil packets. The difference in flavor—between the leftover chicken and the fresh, steam-cooked breasts—is kooky.

Or, customize your chicken en papillote with:

Garlic+freshly grated ginger root+soy sauce
Sliced mushrooms+sliced onions+white wine
Freshly ground black pepper+lemon juice
Dijon mustard+rosemary
Diced tomato+fresh basil

**Another option is to wrap a lose piece of tin foil around a chicken breast (pre seasoned and lightly sprayed with olive oil) and put it on the Foreman to cook (you know how I love the Foreman grill!) Very easy to cook and essentially no clean-up and the foil keeps all the juices in.**

Pan-Roasted Chicken With Lemon and Whole-Grain Mustard


This is a Wolfgang Puck recipe. And if you have ever eaten at a Wolfgang Puck resturant (a real one, not the express crap in Cool Springs) you will know that everything there is DELISH!

Serves: 2-4
 
Time: 45 minutes
 
Ingredients:

1 whole frying chicken, 3 to 4 pounds, butterflied
1 sprig fresh flat-leaf parsley, 2 fresh basil leaves, or 1 small sprig rosemary
Kosher salt and freshly ground white pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup chicken stock or good-quality canned chicken broth
Juice of 2 large lemons (6 to 8 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into several pieces
1/4 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley or finely shredded fresh basil
 
Directions:

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Prepare the chicken. From the neck opening, gently ease your fingertips between the skin and the meat to loosen the skin all over the breast, taking care not to tear the skin. Insert the parsley sprig, basil leaves, or rosemary sprig under the skin. Season the chicken generously on both sides with salt and pepper.
 
Heat an ovenproof skillet large enough to hold the chicken over high heat. Add the olive oil and swirl it in the skillet. As soon as you begin to see slight wisps of smoke, carefully place the chicken skin side down in the skillet. Sear the chicken, undisturbed, while reducing the heat little by little to medium, until its skin has turned golden brown and crisp, 5 to 7 minutes. With tongs, carefully turn the chicken skin side up. Put the skillet with the chicken into the preheated oven and cook until the chicken is deep golden brown and the juices run clear when the thickest part of the thigh meat is pierced with a thin skewer, 10 to 15 minutes more, depending on its size. When the chicken is done, remove it from the skillet with tongs and transfer it to a cutting board.

Pour off all but a thin glaze of fat from the skillet. Return the skillet to high heat, add the chicken stock or broth and the lemon juice, stir and scrape with a wooden spoon to deglaze the pan deposits, and boil the liquid until it has reduced by half its volume, 3 to 4 minutes. Turn down the heat, add the mustard, and, stirring briskly with a wire whisk, add the butter a piece at a time to make a creamy sauce. Make sure each piece has been incorporated completely before adding the next. Season the sauce to taste with salt and pepper and stir in half of the parsley or basil.

 
To serve, spoon the sauce into the centers of two to four heated serving plates. With a large, sharp knife, cut the chicken into two halves or four equal pieces. Place the chicken on the plates, sprinkle with the remaining parsley or basil, and serve.

Recipe from Wolfgang Puck Makes It Easy.

Spicy Southwest Chicken Sandwich with Avocado and Bacon


Ingredients:
6 oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1 canned chipotle chile, plus 2 tablespoons of the adobo sauce
2 tablespoons water
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon light brown sugar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 ripe avocado, pitted
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Juice of 1 lime
2 1/2 cups thinly sliced leftover chicken
4 thick slices bacon, cooked until crisp
1 large ripe tomato, cored and thinly sliced
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
8 slices focaccia or sourdough bread, lightly toasted

Directions:

1. In a blender, mini-chop, or food processor, pulse the sun-dried tomatoes, chipotle, adobo sauce, water, oil, vinegar, mustard, and brown sugar together until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste and pulse again. Transfer to a small bowl.

2. In another small bowl, mash the avocado with half the cilantro and all of the lime juice. Season generously with salt and pepper to taste.

3. Spread 4 of the slices of bread with the avocado mixture. Spread the remaining 4 pieces of bread with the sun-dried tomato-and-chipotle mixture, then layer on the chicken, bacon, tomato, onion, the remaining cilantro, and the bread. Cut in half and serve immediately.

This recipe is from 150 Things to Make with Roast Chicken & 50 Ways to Roast It.

Cookies 101

If you don't already know, baking is my passion. There are certain things I do not allow in my household because I will totally binge. Cookies, ice cream, cakes and pies are my vice. I will eat them non-stop. As a result, I know cookies forwards and backwards and am pretty darn good at making and eating them. That being said, I do not allow store bought cookie dough in my house. I am a cookie snob and proud of it. You can make homemade cookies so easily and they taste so much better than anything you can buy that it just isn't worth it to me.

So today I am going to give you a staple recipe for cookies. This is not a sugar cookie recipe. It is a brown sugar cookie recipe, typically what you would use for chocolate chip cookies. The variations of this recipe are endless but before we talk about the 'what' lets talk about the 'how-to.'

Like I said, I bake a lot of stuff, and for that stuff I use a few pieces of equipment that you probably already have...

Plastic bowls
Wooden spoon
Sifter
Good vanilla
A good cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. (If you don't have the vanilla or cookie sheet, please see my MUST-HAVES post.)

Maybe I'm old school but I swear by wooden spoons. They are a bakers best friend. I really think that they make a difference in your end results and I won't use anything else.

Now one more thing before we talk ingredients, lets talk about the baking process and how not to burn your cookies. Bake at 350 degrees, use the pan and paper I told you about and pull the pan out of the oven BEFORE they are done. When the sides are brown and the center still looks gooey and raw, pull them out. The cookies will continue to cook on the cookie sheet while it cools off. With that being said, if you forget about your cookies while they are in the oven (that would never happen in this house) and they look all the way done, take them out of the oven give them about a minute to firm up and take them off the cookie sheet so they will stop cooking. This is true with pasta also. If you over cook it, you have to take it out of the water and rinse it with cool water to stop the cooking process.

So now about the recipe.. you can put anything in these cookies you want. Chocolate chips, nuts, M&Ms, whatever. I personally like to use 1/2 a cup of chopped pecans, one big Hershey chocolate bar and 2 Milky Way bars cut into chunks. The unlimited options make this great for kids and adults. If you decide to get chocolate chips, I do not advise you to get generic or store brand ones. Chocolate is one of the things where you get what you pay for so go for the Ghiradelli or at very least get the Toll House chips.

Also, I use dark brown sugar for chocolate chip cookies and light brown sugar for white chocolate macadamia nut cookies. You can use whichever you prefer.

Ingredients:
1 and 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
1/4 tablespoon of baking soda
1/8 tablespoon (a pinch) of salt
3/4 cup of brown sugar
1 stick of room temperature lightly salted butter (don't use margarine!!!)
1 egg
1 tablespoon of vanilla
Whatever chips, candy or nuts you prefer

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

1. Mix flour, baking soda and salt in one bowl. Sift if possible.
2. In another bowl mix your butter and brown sugar with a wooden spoon until it is well mixed and creamy. (If your butter is cold, put it in a bowl in the microwave for 15 seconds to soften before mixing with brown sugar.)
3. Mix egg and vanilla into butter/sugar mix until well incorporated.
4. Gradually mix in your flour mixture.
5. Add your chocolate, nuts, candy or whatever you decide to use. (You can also roll a ball around a Rolo for a gooey center.)
6. Put on lined cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees until edges start to turn brown.

You can make them any size you want...as small as a quarter or scoop the dough on to the pan with an ice cream scoop. Because all ovens are different and sizes vary I can't give you a cook time. I typically put my dough on about the size of a golf ball and they are done in about 10 minutes. These cookies don't get dark brown like store bought cookie dough if you use quality ingredients. Keep an eye on them and watch for the brown edges.

Enjoy!



Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Double Scallop Potatoes

Ingredients:

8 ounces cubed smoked ham
1/2 cup diced green onions
1 can condensed cream of potato (or condensed cheese soup)
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 large unpeeled potatoes (about 2 pounds)
1/2 cup seasoned croutons

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

1. Cube ham and slice green onions. Crush croutons in a sandwich bag.

2. Combine ham, onions, soup, cream, salt and pepper in large bowl.

3. Thinly slice potatoes. Fold into soup mixture.

4. Pour soup mixture into baking dish and cover with foil.

5. Bake for 50 minutes. Remove and sprinkle crushed croutons over potatoes.

6. Return to oven and bake uncovered for 15-20 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

Easy Grilled Porkchops

Ingredients:

4 Boneless pork chops
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons your choice seasoning

I often make 2 with Weber N'Orleans Cajun seasoning and 2 with fresh Rosemary.

Pour olive oil in a freezer bag(s). Add seasoning and tilt bag so that you can mix the oil and seasoning by massaging the bag.

Add pork chops to bag and seal. Manipulate the bag and pork chops to ensure that all are equally covered. Place flat in fridge for 15 minutes.

Place on Foreman grill for 6-8 minutes or until 160 degrees in center. If cooking on an outdoor grill cook for 6-8 minutes on each side.

No Bake Twix Cheesecake

Ingredients:

1 prepared chocolate pie crust
1 jar of Hershey's caramel sauce (located with ice cream toppings)
1 small bag of pecan pieces 
1 box of no bake plain cheesecake (Kroger brand works fine)
1 1/2 cup milk
3 packages of Twix

1. Place a small saucepan filled 2/3 full of water on stove on medium heat for 5 minutes.

2. Turn off heat. Remove lid from caramel sauce and place in water. Let caramel sit for 3-5 minutes or until warm so it is easier to pour.

3. Chop up half of the Twix bars in very thin pieces.

4. Pour a thin layer of caramel in the bottom of the pie crust.

5. Put chopped Twix on top of caramel in bottom of pie crust.

6. Prepare the cheesecake filling from the box as directed. Check box because the amount of milk required may be more or less depending on what brand you use. Typically you pour milk into mixing bowl and then add filing mix. Beat with hand mixer on medium speed for 3 minutes so filling thickens.

7. Pour filling into pie crust on top of caramel and Twix and refrigerate uncovered for one hour.

8. Chop remaining Twix into slightly larger pieces.

9. Remove cheesecake from fridge after one hour. Scatter Twix and nuts on top. Drizzle caramel on top. (The cheesecake pictured below has too much caramel on it. I didn't realize how much I had used until I pulled it out of the freezer so drizzle with caution!) If you need to heat it up in order to be able to pour it, only heat it slightly. You do not want it to be hot or even moderately warm.

10. Place in fridge for 2-3 hours or in the freezer for about 1 hour. The cheesecake needs to cool all the way through before serving.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Bistro Turkey Burgers

You can cook these over a grill with medium coals or on a Foreman grill.


Ingredients:
1 envelope of dry onion soup mix (divided)
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons of water
1 pound of lean ground turkey (lean = 93%)
1 egg white
2 tablespoons of snipped parsley
1 garlic clove (pressed) or 1/2 teaspoon of diced garlic in jar
1 yellow or red onion cut into 4 slices (1/2 inch thick slices)
4 slices of cheese (I use swiss)
4 onion rolls
4 tablespoons of honey mustard

*For a moist burger, you can also add 1/2 cup of grated carrots and 1/4 cup of chopped green onions to your ground turkey.*

 1. Combine 3 tablespoons of the onion soup mix with 2 tablespoons of water. Add turkey, egg white, parsley and garlic. Mix lightly but thoroughly and pat into 4 round patties, 1-2 inches thick.

2. For basting sauce combine remaining 1 tablespoon of soup mix with 1/4 cup of water. Heat in microwave for 30 seconds.


3. Place patties and onion slices on grill. Brush both with basting sauce. Grill uncovered for 5 minutes. Turn patties and onions, baste and grill 5-6 minutes or until meat is no longer pink in the center and the onions are tender. Put cheese on patties and let melt (approx. 1 minute) before removing from grill.


4. Place roll halves, cut side down on grill for 1-2 minutes or until lightly toasted.


5. Spread honey mustard on roll bottoms, place onion on roll tops with patties.


Side Notes:
You can prepare and shape the burgers in advance. Wrap them tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate up to one day before grilling.



Saturday, July 10, 2010

Fresh and Fruity and Surprisingly Refreshing



In order to make these, please read the Alabama Slammer post so you know the proper mixing methods. You can use the cheap liquor for these (except for the Hypnotic) but I have put the call brand names in parenthesis.

1/2 ounce = small side of jigger
1 ounce = large side of jigger

Bahama Mama Highball - Shake & Strain over ice

1/2 ounce light rum (Bacardi)
1/2 ounce coconut rum (Malibu)
1/2 ounce Creme de Banana
1/2 ounce Grenadine - buy this at the grocery store
1 1/2 ounces of orange juice
1 1/2 ounce pinapple juice

This goes in a tall/highball glass. The garnish is a pineapple wedge.

Blue Hawaiian Highball - Shake & Strain over ice

1 ounce light rum (Bacardi)
1/2 ounce blue curacao (if you have to ask for this at the store, it is pronounced "cure a sow" - think of a sick pig)
3 ounces of pineapple juice
1/2 ounce or a splash of sprite

This goes in a tall/highball glass. The garnish is a pineapple wedge and a cherry.

These two tequilla drinks are to be 'built on ice' in a tall/highball glass. That means you put the ice in the glass, and pour in the ingredients. Don't shake, strain or mix. It should always have a straw in it so that the person drinking it can mix it if they like. Build on ice drinks don't have garnishs.

When making tequilla drinks, I highly reccommend you get a call brand. Your head will thank you in the morning.

Tequilla Sunrise - Build on ice

1 ounce tequilla
2 ounces orange juice
Top with grenadine (1/2 ounce poured around the edge of the drink. It will settle slowly.)

Sunburn - Build on ice

1 ounce tequilla
1/2 ounce triple sec (Cointreau or Grand Marnier)
1 1/2 ounce cranberry juice.

Hypnotic Martini - Shake & Strain no ice

1 ounce Hypnotic
1/2 ounce coconut rum (Malibu)
1/2 ounce blue curacao - see above
1 ounce pineapple juice

This should be blue. Too much pineapple juice will make it green. Even if it turns green, it will still taste good its just that green drinks aren't visually appealing unless it's St. Patrick's Day. Just watch it as you add the pineapple juice.

This goes in a martini glass. It should be shaken and strained into a martini glass which means it gets no ice. The garnish for this is a glow stick but put whatever you want in it or nothing at all.

Alabama Slammer

Alabama Slammers are great tasting drinks. There are two versions, a highball and a shooter. Either one should come out the same color of the picture above or sometimes they look like dark orange juice. So if your end result looks like either, you probably mixed it right.

The main liquor in an Alabama Slammer is Southern Comfort (also very tasty with SunDrop.) Southern Comfort is a peach flavored whiskey that bartenders refer to as "pisky." It also has Sloe Gin in it. Sloe Gin is a berry flavored gin. It is really more of a cordial liquor than hard liquor because it is sweet and the alcohol content is low (usually 15-30%.) Typically you will find Sloe Gin with the cordials in a liquor store and not with the gin. Last but not least it has amaretto. Cheap amaretto will work for this recipe. It is not necessary to buy Disoronno which is pricey and the only top shelf brand of amaretto that I am aware of.

As for any drink recipe you really need a jigger and a shaker. If you don't have a jigger, find a measuring cup. If you purchase a shaker, the best ones are the tin shakers because the metal and ice will make the drink super cold. When you are at the store, check to make sure the strainer and top come off fairly easily. Sometimes the tops stick and they are a total pain in the ass. The only exception to the tin shaker is if you plan on making lots of gin martinis and then you should go with a plastic or glass shaker. Gin doesn't fair well in metal and I will explain that in a martini recipe later. If you don't have a shaker, find some kind of cup with a lid that you can shake without spilling it or put it in a tupperware bowl with a lid to shake it.... whatever works.

Now, if you have a shaker, put everything in your shaker, put the strainer part on and THEN put the top cap on. Most people put the strainer on with the cap on. It will trap air, not seal and expensive liquor and sticky juice will fly all over the place when you start shaking. Alcohol abuse such as this is never cute.

Alabama Slammer Shooter

1 ounce Southern Comfort (large side of jigger)
1/2 ounce of amaretto (small side of jigger)
1/2 ounce of sloe gin (small side of jigger)
Splash of orange juice

Put ice in your shaker, pour in your booze, shake it hard about 10 times and strain into a glass. *Make sure you really strain all your shooters. You don't want even one single piece of ice to slip into a shot. It's really a party foul for the shooter to start choking and that's usually what happens.*

Alabama Slammer Highball

1 ounce Southern Comfort (large side of jigger)
1/2 ounce of vodka (small side of jigger)
1/2 ounce of amaretto (small side of jigger)
1/2 ounce of sloe gin (small side of jigger)
2-3 ounces of orange juice

The only difference here is the vodka which is totally optional and that you use more orange juice. Shake it hard 10-15 times and strain it into a tall glass. I shake and strain all my drinks into a glass filled with ice. The ice in the shaker will be half melted after you shake it and fresh ice will make the drink colder.


If you want to get all fancy with it, you can garnish it with what bartenders call a flag. It is a cherry and an orange slice stuck together via plastic sword. A toothpick will work or you can just toss it in the glass. Some bartenders will squeeze the garnish in the drink before dropping it. I never did that because getting a drink where my fruit has already been squeezed freaks me out. I don't know why but I think its creepy.

Happy Drinking!

Peppercorn Burgers

I was going to make turkey burgers today but I decided to make some Peppercorn Burgers because I wanted to tell you about panade.

Panada is Italian (I think) and it is basically a thick batter made of bread and milk that holds your burger together when you pat it out and cook it. I think it's awesome and I can't believe more people don't know about it!

Ingredients:
2 slices of thick white bread
1/3 cup of milk
1 tablespoon of peppercorn garlic seasoning
1 onion
1 pound hamburger meat
4 onion rolls - I think its worth an extra dollar or two to get good buns from the grocery store bakery.
Other garnishes of your choice (tomato, lettuce, steak sauce, cheese, onion rings, bacon, etc.)

To make my panade I take 2 pieces of thick white bread and remove the crust. I break it up into small pieces and put in a mixing bowl. I add the milk and seasoning and mix until it forms a thick paste. I then add the hamburger meat and mix it all together.

When patting the burgers out you will be able to tell how much better they hold up. The panade doesn't dry the burgers out at all and if you don't like peppercorn you can add any other seasoning that appeals to you. Another variation is to add some BBQ sauce, it will give your burgers a smokey flavor.
Then pat out 4 big burgers and take into consideration that they will shrink! I make mine about an inch thick and 4 inches wide. On a grill they should cook 3-4 minutes on each side or 6-8 minutes on the Foreman grill.

I cut an onion into thick pieces to put on the burgers and brush them with olive oil. I put the onion slices on the grill for 3-4 minutes along with the burger buns so they get toasty.

Good Luck!

Fruit Salad with Amaretto Mint Vinaigrette

This is one of my favorite summer recipes and it is super easy! I serve it at every cookout we have and it is always a hit. I also always save some for myself in the freezer because whatever I put out for guests is always gone.

* I recommend a melon baller for this. You can find them at any grocery store for a couple of dollars. If not, you can cut your fruit into cubes.*

Ingredients:
1 bunch of fresh mint chopped
1/4 cup of lemon juice (about one lemon)
1/4 cup simple syrup (recipe follows)
1/8 teaspoon amaretto (or more... it won't hurt)
Small watermelon
Other fruit of your choice - cantaloupe, honeydew, grapes, blueberries, raspberries, etc.

1. In blender combine mint, lemon juice, simple syrup and amaretto. Blend until smooth. Chill until ready to serve.

2. Hollow out the watermelon. When doing so, make balls of watermelon with the melon baller by scooping it like you would ice cream. Freeze hollow watermelon for at least one hour but overnight is best. Carve melon balls from the other melons. Freeze all fruit balls in freezer bags also.

3. Toss fruit together in vinaigrette and put fruit in hollow watermelon right before you are ready to serve.

Simple Syrup Recipe
1/2 cup of water
1 cup of sugar

1. In saucepan combine water and sugar over medium heat.
2. Brig to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes until the sugar has dissolved.

3. Remove from heat and allow syrup to cool.

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Monte Cristo

Who doesn't love a Monte Cristo? I think this is a quick hot meal with relatively easy clean-up that is super yummy and kid friendly. You can serve 4 people sandwiches and fries for under $15. Now, If you are lucky enough to live somewhere that has a Bennigan's, just skip this because I can't top theirs. Bennigan's has the mother of Monte Cristos. If you haven't had one from Bennigan's you should make a point to try one.

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Ingredients :
2 eggs
1/3 cup milk
1/4 cup of flour
Dash of cinnamon
8 slices of 1/2 inch thick white bread (I use Italian or Texas toast.)
8 slices of Swiss cheese
4 slices of American or Cheddar Cheese (This is is an optional bonus for Cheese Lovers like me.)
6-8 ounce of ham, turkey or both
2 tablespoons of butter or margarine
Powdered sugar
Strawberry Jam or Preserves - I know it sounds crazy but it is good!
(I serve mine with shoe string french fries.)

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Now this is an easy recipe and there are only 2 ways that you can screw it up. Since I have had more kitchen failures than successes, lets address these first.

* Putting too much cinnamon in the batter.
* Cooking it too fast which will not only burn it, but make the bread soggy and nobody is going to want to eat that. Trust me.

1. Mix eggs, flour, milk and dash of cinnamon in bowl until it is smooth.

2. Turn on your griddle to 325-350 degrees. If you don't have griddle, use a large skillet on med-high heat.

3. Make your sandwiches. I layer bread-swiss-ham-cheddar-turkey-swiss-bread. The melted cheese will hold it all together.

4. Dip sandwiches in batter and coat both sides well.

5. Cover griddle or skillet with a thin layer of butter. Slap on the sandwiches. *Remember not to cook them too fast. *



6. Cook sandwiches until they are a nice golden brown and flip. You can put a little butter down again for the second side if you want.



7. Remove from pan, sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve with strawberry jam or preserves.



Side Note:
Another option is to deep fry the sandwiches. But as my grandmother would say... "What's good to you isn't always good for you."