Monday, December 31, 2007

Fried Wonton Goodness

What do you do when your wonton skins are going to expire? You fill them and fry them up that's what you do!

You really can fill wontons with anything. I generally just browse the fridge for ingredients and fill 'em up. Today I had 3 links of italian sausage, 1/2 a large vidalia, goat, brie, and a monterrey jack/cheddar combo.
Chad doesn't like brie, or goat cheese (weirdo, I know.) so he got his own special wontons. Or you could say that i got MY own special wontons, either way we both win. : )

For mine I carmalized the onion in olive oil and butter, spread a little of cheese on the skin (either brie or goat, not together), topped with the onion (I put a little sausage in some of them), put a little water on my finger to run around the edges, folded them up and finally, I fried them.

For Chad's wontons I mixed sausage a little ranch dressing (like a couple Tbs.) and monterrey jack and cheddar cheese together. I put a little in the center of the skin, and like mine folded them up. I fried both in a little canola oil, but the could have been baked as well.

I made quite a few so I ended up freezing them in a single layer on a baking sheet then when frozen I put them in a ziplock. These will be a tasty treat for a later date.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

S'more Please. And, Thank you.


Ummmmm. S'mores. S'mores cookies that is. I love these little devils, so much they were my dinner tonight. BUT! In my defense, I had a late lunch. Again this afternooon I went a-browsing through the foodie blogosphere and I fell upon these nasty things. Nasty meaning they aren't helping me in my quest to shed a few lbs. Anyhoo, they are fabulous and Chad agrees. He is actually the culprit for me baking these gooey, chocolately, nutty delights. One look at the pic on the Cookie Madness blog, and he was sold. "Baby... can you make those?" :: My heart melts:: "Oh, of course darling!" And here they are. : ) Enjoy!

Smores Cookies
(Cookie Madness [thanks!])

3/4 cup butter — softened
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/2 teaspoon salt1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate (I used milk, that's all I had.No biggie, it didnt make a diff.)
1 cup (more or less) of marshmallows (not Jet puffs)
2 Hershey Bars, broken into pieces ( I made Chad buy 3 bars. One for me.)
**My contribution to the recipe was 1/2 cup pecan pieces**

Beat together margarine and sugars until light and fluffy. Blend in egg and vanilla. Add combined flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking soda and salt. Mix well. Stir in chocolate chips and (if using) other stuff.
Drop dough by heaping tablespoonfuls onto greased cookie sheets about 3 inches apart ..
Bake in pre-heated oven 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for 8 minutes. Remove and quickly press marshmallows and chocolate into cookies. Return to oven and cook until done (about 3 or 4 more minutes)
Makes about 3 dozen
Mine made about 20. I think I made 'em a little big : )

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Baked Spaghetti

So today I did a little blog wandering. I checked out "Is My Blog Burning" seeing if there were any events I could participate in. I didn't find any that I knew for sure I would be able to do given the due date on most of them. Then I remembered I wanted to join the Daring Bakers. Peabody had given me a little info on them and I ventured over to their blog site. After emailing and agreeing to the rules I am proud to say I will be participating in February's Daring Bakers Event. I am so excited, and petrified at the same time. I usually do not bake. Well, I do bake, but I admit it isn't my specialty. Not that anything has gone wrong in the kitchen (that I'll tell about anyway ha, ha ) but because I simply do not have a very strong sweet tooth. I'd say maybe 30% of my teeth are sweet.
That being said, I am still in awe of the fantastic creations the Daring Bakers ladies (and one man) come up with. And because I have a about 30% sweet teeth in me, I can't wait to start baking. What I don't devour, will be thrown to the dogs ( i.e. my beloved friends and coworkers. Note: I do not think they are dogs)

Oh yeah, the Baked spaghetti. Well I started browsing Ivonne and Lis' blog, the founders of Daring Bakers, and I came across this recipe from La Mia Cucina. It just looked so good I saved the recipe. I actually recommended it to a girl on a message board I frequent. It seems, that as soon as I did that I knew I wanted it, and I wanted it tonight. I have been craving a good pasta dish for a few days, actually a couple of weeks now. With all the turkey and apps the holidays bring, I just wanted a big hunk of pasta. And with this recipe I got it.

Thanks Lis for the recipe, it is a keeper, and I have over half a pan to munch on the next few days. For those who are afraid of the use of Cream of Crap (Cream of .... soups) this is one recipe where it is not a salty stand out, it actually makes it more delicious!

Baked Spaghetti
(La Mia Cucina) My modifications in red

1/2 c. chopped onions
1 c. chopped green peppers
1 TBS. olive oil
2 to 3 c. of your favorite marinara sauce ( I actually used my 1 cent jarred sauce from publix, I love Sunday and Monday there. If you spend $10 you get the "mystery item for a penny, last week it was jar sauce. Something I never use but found useful here)
1 (4 oz.) can mushroom slices ( I used Fresh)
1 (2 oz.) can sliced ripe olives2 tsp. oregano [ I omitted, Chad hates them : ( ]
1 1/2 lb. ground beef, brown and drain
1 lb. spaghetti, cooked al dente (You'll be baking it too, so don't boil for too long) and drained
1 wedge (1/2 lb.?) of Fontina cheese, sliced (Italian Fontina, it's semi-soft and melts perfectly.)Or any other good melting cheese - mozzarella would certainly be just as good. [ I used mozz]
1 (10 oz.) can cream of mushroom soup (using fat free or low sodium would be fine) [ I used 98% fat free]
1/4 c. water
1/2 c. grated Pecorino Romano or Asiago [I used Parmesano Reggiano]



Preheat oven to 350
In a large skillet, saute the onion and green pepper in olive oil until soft, then add the ground beef and cook until browned. Add mushrooms, olives, oregano and enough marinara to coat it all. You want it saucy, but not swimming in marinara.Simmer for 10 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine 1 - 1/2 c. of marinara with the al dente spaghetti - again, you want enough sauce to coat it, but not so much that the spaghetti is swimming in it.
Place half of the sauced spaghetti in a greased 13" x 9" x 2" baking pan (I used Pam)
Top with half the meat sauce. Layer half of the sliced Fontina over the meat sauce. Repeat layers.
Mix soup and water until smooth; pour over casserole. Sprinkle with Romano cheese.Bake, covered, at 350ยบ F for 25-30 minutes, until heated through, remove foil and bake another 5 minutes, or until top has started to turn goldeny brown and delicious. [Goldeny, don't you just love that word?]
Of course, I finished my plate. I won't mention the seconds ; - p

Friday, December 28, 2007

Vegetable Fried Rice

To go along with the chicken I made below I made a simple but delicious fried rice. It was packed with vegetables, just like I like it. Fried rice is one of those dishes you make when you have just a little bit of a lot of different vegetables in your crisper or freezer. I had a stalk of celery, 1/2 a red pepper, 1/2 a red onion, about a cup of crimini mushrooms, and in the freezer I had like a cup left in the bag of a pea, carrot, corn, green bean combo. Because I wanted to finally use up all the vegetables, I made a big enough batch so both Chad and I can eat some for lunch.

Vegtable Fried Rice
1 1/2 cups rice cooked and put in fridge to cool
2 Tbs. vegetable oil
1 stalk celery chopped
1/2 red onion chopped
1 cup fresh mushrooms chopped
1 cup frozen veggies of choice
1 can diced water chestnuts drained
1 can baby corn chopped
1/2 red pepper diced
1 can bean sprouts drained
2 eggs beaten
3 cloves garlic minced
1 tsp. ground ginger or 2 tsp. fresh grated
3 Tbs. low sodium soy sauce
2 Tbs. sesame oil
pinch red pepper flakes
pepper to taste

Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over med. high heat. Saute all vegetables except garlic and frozen vegetables until soft about 5-7 minutes. Add garlic, ground ginger and red pepper flakes saute for a couple minutes more. Make a hole in the center of the pan by pushing veggies aside. Add beaten eggs and cook until almost done. Add rice,frozen veggies, soy sauce and sesame oil mixing to combine and cook about 5 minutes longer for flavors to meld. Add pepper to your taste and serve.

Wor Su Gai or Almond Boneless Chicken

Tonight I had the guts to try and replicate a chicken dish that is popular in Chinese restaurants around Detroit, MI. It's proper name is Wor Su Gai, but my family calls it ABC, short for almond boneless chicken.

I can only get this when I visit my family up north. I have been to many a chinese restaurant around here in Atlanta and not one has come close. So when I browsed the web for a recipe I was jumping for joy when I actually found one.
The dish isn't anything too special. And definitely not a healthy one either. It is basically batter fried chicken with a gravy like sauce. It sounds simple enough, but I can't get the same flavor from the chinese places around here, and I LOVE this chicken!
The chicken came out pretty close, but next time I think I'll add some sugar to the batter. And the sauce was a bit off as well. Not bad by any means, but not exactly like the one I'm used to. I believe with a little tweaking I can probably get it just right.

Wor Su Gai (ABC)
(recipe from about.com)
2 whole chicken breasts, skinned, boned, and cut in half
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon dry sherry
Sauce:
4 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons water
3 cups broth
1 1/2 cup chopped mushrooms (optional) (I omitted)
3 tablespoons chicken fat or butter
2 teaspoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons chicken bouillon granules
Batter:
3 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 egg, beaten1 tablespoon water
1 cup shredded lettuce
1/3 cup toasted, slivered almonds
1 green onion, finely chopped (green and white parts) for garnish
Oil for deep-frying

Sprinkle chicken with salt and sherry and marinate for 15 minutes. While chicken is marinating, prepare the sauce. Mix together the cornstarch and water in a small saucepan until smooth. Gradually mix in the chicken broth, mushrooms (if using), chicken fat or butter, soy sauce, and bouillon granules. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly. Let boil for 1 minute, and keep warm. To prepare batter: Beat together the cornstarch, flour, baking powder, egg, and water until smooth. Coat each piece of chicken with the batter. Heat wok or a large skillet and add oil to a depth of 1/2-inch. Heat to 375 degrees. Cook coated chicken pieces in oil until they are golden, turning them once. This should take about 5 - 7 minutes. Drain the chicken on a tempura rack if you have one, or on paper towels. Cut the chicken diagonally into strips. Reassemble the strips into chicken breast shapes and place on a bed of shredded lettuce. Sprinkle with almonds and green onion. Spoon the sauce over the chicken and serve.
I like my sauce on the side...

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Cranberry Raisin Nut Bread

I made this bread as a Christmas gift to give my dh's granparents (both sets). It was super simple, and helped me use up the fresh cranberries I had in the fridge. Unfortunately I wasn't able to add the orange zest since I had none on hand, but I don't think it mattered too much. This bread is great for breakfast, a snack, or even for dessert. It is not too sweet, and the tartness of the cranberries really shine through. His grandparents loved the gift; I think more than the popcorn tin from last year, lol.


Cranberry Raisin Nut Bread
1-1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1-1/2 tsps. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 Tbsp. orange peel, grated
2 eggs
3/4 cup milk
3 Tbsps. unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Preheat oven to temperature 350°F. Sift together first 6 ingredients in alarge bowl. Stir in next 4 ingredients. Mix remainingingredients in another bowl until combined. Add to flour mixtureand stir until just moistened. Spoon into a buttered 9 inchloaf pan. Bake 55-60 minutes or until a tester comes out clean when inserted in center. Cool in pan 15 minutes. Remove from pan andcool completely on a wire rack.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Roasted Chestnut Herb Stuffing

To go along with the turkey in my post below, I wanted to make a stuffing. I bought some Italian chestnuts a couple of weeks ago, and I wanted to use them up. Plus, what goes better with turkey than stuffing? This recipe is super easy, and very savory. The fresh herbs are a must, and the bacon gave it a nice salty touch. I used French bread (the whole loaf) but you can easily use whatever you have on hand.


Roasted Chestnut Herb Stuffing
1 loaf of french bread cut into 1" cubes (or 3-4 cups cubed bread that you have on hand)
10 chestnuts
1 large celery stalk halved long ways and chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 1/2 cups fresh mushrooms chopped
3 garlic cloves minced
1 Tbs. Each of Fresh herbs chopped finely: Sage, Rosemary, Thyme, Flat leafed parsley
5 Strips bacon cooked and crumbled
3 Tbs. unsalted butter
1/2 cup chicken stock
Fresh ground pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Take chestnuts and cut an "X" on the flattest side. Put on a cookie sheet or the like and roast for 15-20 minutes. When finished roasting set aside and put a kitchen towel over them until they cool. When cool, peel away the tough outer shell, and the lighter brown inner shell. Chop into pieces. Add cubed bread to a large bowl.
heat butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add all veggies except garlic. Saute for about 8 minutes and add chestnuts, garlic, herbs and pepper. Saute about 4 minutes more. Transfer veggie mixture to the bowl with bread tossing to combine. Add bacon and stock and mix well. Let sit a couple minutes to absorb the liquid. Transfer to a 9x13 greased baking dish. Cook in oven 15 minutes covered, and 15 uncovered.

Turkey, Two Ways

I happened to buy these right after Thanksgiving while they were on sale. Chad wasn't so into them, so I bought him some turkey breast cutlets which were also on sale. I am a fan of dark meat on a bird, to me it has the most flavor. That doesn't mean I don't like the breast meat though, but I tend to pile more of the dark on my plate on Thanksgiving and Christmas than the white.

While eating the drumsticks tonight I kept hearing the intro to the Flintstones. You know "Flintstones, meet the Flintstones..." I really felt like Fred, er, Wilma eating these monster turkey legs. But they were so good. I mean really good, like I want to go and buy a whole bunch while they are on sale and freeze. I can think of a gazillion recipes I could make with them.
For the breasts I just sauteed them in a pan, finished them in the toaster oven and made a simple pan sauce. They came out so tender and juicy, and the sauce was a perfect compliment with the fresh herbs I used. If you happen to see turkey parts on sale (That sounds kind of gross but you get my drift) you've got to pick some up. It makes a really nice meal even when it isn't a holiday.

Roasted Turkey Legs
2-3 Lbs. Turkey legs (3 legs)
Fresh herbs, 1 Tbs. of each chopped fine: Sage, rosemary, thyme
2 Tbs. butter softened
Salt and Pepper for seasoning
1 tsp. Garlic powder
1/2 cup chicken stock or broth

Preheat oven to 350
Season legs well with salt and pepper. Combine fresh herbs and butter until well mixed. Cut a couple of small slits in turkey legs under the skin. Massage Turkey legs with butter mixture making sure to get under skin. Put into a small roasting pan or large oven proof skillet. Pour chicken stock into pan and cover tightly with foil. Roast one hour, and uncover. Cook another 1/2 hour or until skin is nicely browned.

Turkey Breasts with Pan Sauce
1 lb. boneless, skinless turkey breasts
1 Tbs. combined chopped fresh sage, thyme and rosemary
Salt pepper and garlic powder for seasoning
olive oil
tsp. flour
water

Season turkey with salt, pepper, and garlic powder and herbs. Heat oil in a large skillet over med. heat. Cook 5 minutes per side (for 1" thick less time for thinner cuts). Transfer to 350 degree oven and cook for 5-10 minutes longer until temp. reaches 175. While the turkey is finishing in the oven deglaze the pan with 1/4 cup white wine, and add 1/2 cup of chicken stock. Combine water and flour in a small dish and mix together thoroughly. Add to pan whisking constantly. Let simmer for about 5 minutes. Serve over turkey.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Candy Bar Brownies


Wow. These babies are rich. But so very good. This entry is part of a recipe exchange I participated in with the girls on the "What's Cooking" board on The Nest. A bunch of us "nesties" submitted our favorite dessert recipes, then we were given a recipe by our host; Katie of
I was anxious to make this recipe, and even though I'm submitting on the deadline, I am happy to have participated. I actually made these at my father's home in MI. I ended up having to purchase most of the goodies to top the brownies, as well as all the staples, my Pa just isn't a baker. So I needed to get baking flour, vanilla, and flour.... Yes flour. I don't understand how he cooks, and he is a fabulous cook, without flour.

They were a bit time consuming, but no big deal. It was nice to hang out with my family and bake for them. They were happy I did too, my nephews loved them.
If I were to make these again, I would cut them petit four size, as they are so rich. But others may wish to eat a whole bar. To each their own. : )

Candy Bar Brownies
(source Amber from Amber's Delectable Delights)

Brownie Ingredients:
3/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
2 tbls water
2/3 cup sugar
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
1 cup AP flour
1/2 tsp baking powder

Candy Bar Topping Ingredients:
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/4 cup milk
1 cup marshmallow creme
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cup dry roasted peanuts
40 caramels, unwrapped
1/4 cup water
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup butterscotch flavored chips

Directions

1) Heat oven to 350 (if using a dark nonstick pan, heat oven to 325). Line bottom and sides of 9 x 13 pan with foil, leaving 1" of foil overhanging at 2 opposite sides of pan; spray foil with cooking spray.

2) In large microwave safe bowl, microwave 3/4 cup butter, 2 tbls water and 2/3 cup sugar uncovered on high about 1 minute or until mixture just starts to boil; stir until blended. Stir in 1 cup chocolate chips until melted. Stir in 1 tsp vanilla and 2 eggs until well mixed. Stir in flour and baking powder. Pour batter into prepared pan.

3) Bake 18 to 23 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean (do not over bake). Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack, about 30 minutes.

4) In 2 quart saucepan, heat 1 cup sugar, 1/4 cup butter and the 1/4 cup milk to a boiling over medium heat, stirring constantly. Boil 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in marshmallow creme, 1/4 cup of the peanut butter and 1/2 tsp of vanilla. Pour over brownies. Sprinkle peanuts over top of previous mixture.

5) In 1 quart saucepan, heat caramels and 1/4 cup water over medium low heat, stirring constantly, until caramels are melted; pour over peanuts.

6) In a medium microwave safe bowl, microwave 1 cup chocolate chips and the 1/4 cup butterscotch chips uncovered on hgh about 1 minute or until softened; stir until smooth. Stir in remaining 1/4 cup peanut butter; spread over caramel layer.

7) Refrigerate at least 1 hour before cutting. For bars, cut into 8 rows by 6 rows. Store covered in the refrigerator.


Monday, December 17, 2007

Cheddar Herb Dinner Rolls


I was in the mood to bake tonight as well as looking for something to go along side the dirty rice dish we were having. I wasn't looking to bake something sweet, instead I wanted a hearty, earthy, dinner roll. It took some time looking for a recipe, but I came upon this one on allrecipes. I followed the recipe as written except used the herbs I had on hand and added a little more butter. Oh, and I added cheddar cheese. Everything's better with cheese, right?

I was suprised how simple it was to make these dinner rolls. Since we will be traveling out of town on thurs. I didn't make the entire batch. I just didn't think me and Chad would eat 24 rolls in a couple of days. I ended up freezing them, so I can have them again without as much work.
One thing I will do next time is add a little more sugar, cheese and herbs. Otherwise they were a very nice compliment to our meal.


Cheddar Herb Dinner Rolls
My modifications are in red
1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
1 cup milk, room temperature
2 eggs
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons butter, softened (I used 3 Tbs.)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives (I used thyme)
6 cups bread flour (I used AP)
I added about one cup of shredded cheese
1 egg white
2 tablespoons water

DIRECTIONS
In a small mixing bowl, dissolve yeast and sugar in 1 cup warm water. Let stand until creamy; about 10 minutes.
In a large bowl, stir together the yeast mixture with milk, eggs, salt, butter, parsley, chives, and 4 cups flour. Add cheddar cheese, the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until dough has pulled together. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl, and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth and put in a warm place to rise until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
Grease two 9x13 inch baking pans. Deflate the dough, and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into 24 pieces. Shape each piece into a round ball, and place into the prepared pans. Cover the rolls with a warm, damp cloth, and let rise until doubled in volume, about 40 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). In a small bowl, lightly beat the egg white with 2 tablespoons of water; brush egg wash over tops of rolls.
Bake in preheated oven for about 30 minutes, or until golden brown.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Beer Braised Brisket with Vegetables


What a wonderful Sunday meal. I was going to make dirty rice for dinner but decided to make this brisket instead since I had some time to prepare it. I have to admit that this is only the second time I've made a brisket. I don't know why, it is such a yummy cut of meat when cooked low and slow. I used this Emeril recipe and of course I modified it a bit. Just a bit though, everything about this recipe is delicious. Instead of using a dutch oven I ended up using my very large cast iron skillet. I love this thing, it is just so versatile that I recommend every cook get one. I served the brisket and veggies over egg noodles and spooned the sauce over the sliced meat and veggies.

Braised Brisket
4 slices of bacon, chopped (I used 6 slices)
1 (2-pound) beef brisket
Essence, recipe follows (Pretty close to his essence, but I used cayenne, dried basil, garlic powder, onion powder, S&P, and dried oregano)
2 large onions, sliced thinly
4 cloves garlic, smashed
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 (12-ounce) bottle beer (not dark)
1 cup beef broth (I ended up using another cup toward the end of cooking)
2 carrots, cut crosswise into 1 1/2-inch-thick pieces
1 boiling potato, cut into (I used 2 medium russetts)
1-inch pieces
1 turnip, cut into 1-inch pieces (omitted, I didn't have any)
Cooked buttered noodles, as accompaniment
1/2 cup minced fresh parsley leaves (omitted only because I forgot)
I added 2 sliced celery stalks
Preheat oven to 350
In a Dutch oven, cook bacon in 1 tablespoon water over moderate heat until crisp. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Pat brisket dry and season with salt, pepper and essence. Brown in bacon fat. Transfer brisket to platter. Add the onions to the Dutch oven and cook until softened, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and tomato paste. Cook 1 minute more. Add beer, broth, and bacon bits. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to simmer. Braise the brisket, covered, in the oven for 2 to 3 hours. Add carrots, potatoes, and turnips for the last 45 minutes.
Transfer the brisket and vegetables with a slotted spoon to a plate and keep warm, covered. Bring the braising liquid to a boil. Let sauce reduce over high heat until thickened. Season sauce, to taste, with salt and pepper. Slice the brisket and arrange it and the vegetables with the noodles on a platter. Spoon some of the sauce over the brisket and the vegetables, sprinkle the dish of parsley, and serve the remaining sauce separately.

Banana Nut Toffee Chocolate Chip Bars

Now that'a a mouthful. It seems that whenever I have bananas there are always at least 2 left waiting to be baked into something sinful. I didn't want to do a bread or a muffin, and Chad wanted cookies. I probably browsed about a thousand recipes looking for a crispy banana chocolate chip cookie, but to no avail. So I decided to make a bar instead. I used this recipe as a guide but added a few extra ingredients.


Banana Nut Toffee Chocolate Chip Bars

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 medium mashed ripe bananas (I used 2 med.)
1 large egg
2 cups (I only used one cup)
2 tablespoons powdered sugar

I added:
1/2 cup toffee bits
1/2 cup pecan pieces

Preheat oven to 350
Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in a large mixing bowl until creamy. Beat in bananas and egg. Gradually beat in flour mixture; stir in morsels. Spread into prepared jelly-roll pan.

Bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Peanut Butter Banana Cupcakes

My friend Jen's bday was last Friday. And Jen loves her peanut butter banana sandwiches, so I thought I'd make a treat for her birthday. I couldn't wait to try this recipe either. The picture looked so good, I couldn't resist. I made these after the Nestie ornament get together, so I admit I was a little tipsy. ; ) But even with my buzz, they came out wonderfully. I love the caramalized banana on the top, and the suprise peanut center is delicious!

Peanut Butter Banana Cupcakes with Caramel Glaze
(this is the original recipe from Chockylit, I made some modifications)
11 tablespoons unsalted butter
9 ounces best-quality semi-sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (I used chips)
5 ounces best-quality bitter-sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (I used milk choc. chips)
1-1/3 cup sugar
4 large eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 pinch salt
1/2 cup mashed banana (from 1 medium banana) (I used 1 cup/2 med. bananas)

1. melt butter and semi-sweet chocolate over a bain marie
2. whisk together eggs and sugar
3. add flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt, mix to combine
4. add melted chocolate/butter mixture, mix to combine
5. stir in mashed banana
6. fill cupcake tins about 1/3 full, drop a teaspoon of peanut butter mixture into each tin, top off with cupcake batter to about 2/3's full
7. bake for ~20 minutes or until a crust forms on the cupcakes

Caramel Glaze
2 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons half and half
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. in a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter
2. add milk and brown sugar, stir to combine
3. boil vigorously for 1 minute
4. remove from heat and beat in 1/2 cup powdered sugar
5. cool slightly then and beat in the vanilla and remaining powdered sugar, add more half in half if necessary (I used a couple more Tbs. of milk and 1/4 cup more sugar)
6. quickly spoon over cupcakes before glaze sets

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Cashew Chicken Wonton Cups

This recipe was inspired by bakingblonde of the "What's Cooking" board on the nest. I was having trouble coming up with an appetizer for the Atlanta Nestie Ornament Exchange, and she had suggested wonton cups. I really didn't know what I wanted to fill them with so I sort of made up a cashew chicken recipe.

I ended up marinating the chicken overnight and then sauteed the veggies and chicken the next day. They really came out great. They look so cute, and there are endless possibilities of what to fill them with.
Cashew Chicken (My amts. are approximate, I really just threw this together.)
The marinade:
  • 2 large boneless/skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 Tbs. oyster sauce
  • 1 tbs. honey
  • 2 garlic cloves roughly chopped
  • 1/2 " of ginger peeled and grated
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • couple dashes ground red pepper
  • few drops sirracha (asian chili sauce)
  • 1 tbs. ketchup
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
Combine all ingrediens together and pour over chicken in a large zip lock bag. Let marinate at least one hour or overnight for more flavor. When finished marinating cut into small pieces.
Putting it together
  • 1 Tbs. peanut or canola oil
  • 1 1/2 cups crimini mushrooms small dice
  • 1 cup water chestnuts small dice
  • 1/2 red onion small dice
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 red pepper small diced
  • 1 cup unsalted roasted chashews
  • 1 Tbs. hoisin
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock or broth
  • Pepper
  • chopped parsley for garnish
Heat oil in a large skillet over med. heat. Add chicken and cook until no longer pink about 5 minutes. Add veggies (except garlic) and saute for 5 more minutes. Add garlic, hoisin, pepper, and stock and bring to a simmer. simmer for about 20 minutes until sauce has reduced by half. Mix in cashew and fill wonton cups with filling. Top with chopped parsley.
  • Wonton cups
  • wonton wrapper
  • cooking spray
  • mini muffin tin
Preheat oven to 350. spray muffn tin with cooking spray, and fit wonton wrappers in the cups. Spray the wontons with cooking spray and cook in oven for 7-8 minutes or until crispy

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

A Good 'Ol Alton Recipe


Being pressed for time this evening because we had an advent service to attend, Chad elected to make dinner. He had a pretty early day, well a little earlier than mine. I had picked up some cubed steaks at Publix because they were so darn cheap. I think I've only made cube steak once. And it was horribly tough. But I bought these steaks anyway because I remembered an episode I saw on Good Eats where Alton made a "Country Style Steak" using cube steak. They looked so tender on the show, I wanted to try the recipe. And this was the perfect night. Since Chad was coming home earlier than I, he could get them started and let it cook slow in the oven for 2 hours. When they were finished I removed the steaks and made a gravy from the juices.
The result was very yummy, but I think something else could have been added. I'm still on the fence about what though. I madI served this with Trader Joe's harves grains and roasted asparagus.

Country Style Steak an Alton Recipe

  • 2 pounds beef bottom round, trimmed of excess fat
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil or bacon drippings (is it sad I had bacon drippings saved, lol)
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme

Preheat oven to 300 degrees

Cut the meat with the grain into 1/2-inch thick slices and season on both sides with salt and pepper. Place the flour into a pie pan. Dredge the pieces of meat on both sides in the flour. Tenderize the meat, using a needling device, until each slice is 1/4-inch thick. Dredge in the flour again and set aside.
Add enough of the vegetable oil or bacon fat to just cover the bottom of a 4 to 5-quart Dutch oven set over medium-high heat. Once the oil begins to shimmer, add the steaks to the pan, being careful not to overcrowd. Cook until golden brown on both sides, approximately 2 minutes per side. Remove the steaks to a plate and repeat until all of the steaks have been browned.
Remove the last steaks from the pot and add the chicken broth and thyme and whisk until the liquid just comes to a boil. Return the steaks to the pot and make sure they are all submerged in the liquid. Cover the pot and place it in the oven on the middle rack. Cook for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until the meat is tender and falling apart.

The Asparagus

  • Handful asparagus
  • olive oil for tossing
  • salt and pepper

Roast in oven for 10-15 minutes (longer if they are thick). So simple but very delicious!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Pork Chops with Mustard Cream

When we were at the grocery store Saturday, Chad had mentioned that he was craving pork chops. So into the cart they went. We chose bone-in chops since they have so much more flavor. I'm always on the hunt for a good pork chop recipe, one that is relatively quick (meaning without brining) and not a ton of ingredients. I looked on line for some recipes and found one here, but I modified it a bit. I'm glad I tried this recipe, the chops turned out so moist and yummy and the sauce was perfect for the mashed potatoes I whipped up. I'm sure to make this dish again.

Pork Chops with Mustard Cream
  • 4 1 inch thick bone in pork chops
  • Flour for dusting chops
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 3 Tbs. butter divided
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 1 cup crimini mushrooms
  • 2 large cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 1/2 cup chicken stock warmed
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 Tbs. dijon mustard
Heat oven to 350
Season chops with salt and pepper and dust with flour. Heat 2 Tbs. of butter and 1 Tbs. olive oil in a large skillet over med. high heat. Brown chops on each side for about 3 minutes. Transfer to another plate and keep warm. Add the rest of the butter and olive oil to the pan and add the onions and mushrooms. Saute for about 5 minutes, add garlic and saute 2 minutes more. Deglaze the pan with the white wine and let reduce by 1/2 about 6-8 minutes. Add warm stock, and stir contents together. Add chops cover with foil and cook for about 15 minutes covered. Uncover and cook about 5-10 minutes more. Remove chops to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm. Return skillet to burner and heat juices over med. low heat. Add heavy cream and let reduce to become thick. remove from burner and add dijon mix thoroughly.
Serve chops and sauce over mashed potatoes
Mashed Potatoes
  • 4 med. sized russet potatoes
  • 3 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup hot milk
  • salt and pepper
Peel and cut potatoes into chunks. cover with cold water and heat to a boil. Lower heat to get a gentle boil and cook for about 15 minutes or until fork tender. Remove from heat drain and put back in pot. Turn heat to low and shake pot to remove excess moisture. Add butter and salt and mash with a masher. Add milk and remove from heat. Continue to mash until you get your desired consistency.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Curried Beef and Vegetables

Last Friday a friend made curry chicken for our lunch club. Since then, I have been wanting more of that spicy flavor. I had some chuck cut up for stew so I thought that I would make a curry dish with it. I really ran with this idea and just started thinking of what I had on hand to throw in the 'ol cast iron skillet. It took a while to cook, but unless I wanted chewy meat I had to let it simmer for a couple hours. And within those couple of hours I was asked when it would be ready a dozen times. You see, the aroma of this dish coming together is hard to ignore. And oh how it will make your stomach growl. So I suggest if you plan to make it you find something to do outside in the yard. : )

Curried Beef and Vegetables
  • 2 lbs. beef chuck cut into cubes
  • 1/2 cup flour (for dusting)
  • Salt and Pepper for seasoning beef
  • 3 Tbs. canola oil
  • 1 can beef broth
  • 1 can diced tomatoes with juice
  • 1 1/2 cups 2% greek yogurt
  • 1 green pepper sliced into 1/2 in pieces
  • 1 onion diced
  • 1 large carrot sliced
  • 2 large potatoes diced
  • 1/2 " ginger finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. curry powder
  • 1 Tbs. garam masala
  • 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 2 tsp. cumin
  • 2 tsp. paprika
Dust the beef with flour and in a large skillet over med. high heat add oil. Brown beef on all sides, about 4 minutes and transfer to another plate. Add onions, pepper, carrot and potatoes. Saute for about 6-8 minutes. Add garlic, ginger and spices and cook a few minutes more. Add tomatoes and deglaze the pan with the juices getting all the bit from the bottom. Add yogurt and mix well. Add browned beef back to pan. Add beef broth (warmed) and stir to combine. Let simmer covered for 1 1/2 hours. Remove foil add almonds and simmer another 30-45 minutes. Serve over rice and garnish with parsley.

Smoked Turkey Monte Cristo

Wow. This sure is The Sandwich of Sandwich's. After church Chad and I usually go out for a light lunch, but since we had gone grocery shopping yesterday we decided to eat lunch at home. I bought some great French Boule bread from Trader Joe's and I was excited to use it for sandwiches. As I was looking for exciting ways to make my turkey sandwich, I remembered the Monte Cristo. Not the battered and fried one from Bennigan's, but the french-toast type.

I looked for some advice on cooking online but ended up doing it my own way. This is a huge sandwich, I cold only eat half. The slices of the boule were about 7" long, so this can definitely be something you share.
Smoked Turkey Monte Cristo
  • 3 slices of french boule bread (you can substitute and egg bread or just plain white bread)
  • 6 slices smoked turkey breast
  • 2 slices fontina cheese
  • 2 slices havarti cheese
  • 1 Tbs. seedless raspberry preserves
  • 1 Tbs. dijon mustard
  • 1 egg
  • 2 Tbs. milk
  • 3 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • powdered sugar for dusting

Butter 2 sides of the boule and flip. Layer turkey and on two sides of the boule. Layer cheeses on top of turkey. Mix together the raspberry and dijon and spread on both sides of the unbuttered piece. Assemble and cut in half. Mix egg and water, and dip both sides of the halved sandwich. Melt butter in a med. sized sauce pan over medium heat and when it foams add the sandwich. Let cook for a couple minutes and flip. Repeat with the other half. Dust with powder sugar and enjoy!