Thursday, December 31, 2009

Food Blog Search

I added a new link to this blog. Its in the right margin underneath my list of "other sweet blogs". Its called Food Blog Search. Thousands of recipes are just a click away- click on the picture and see. I have been using this food search for quite a while now. I love that when I search for a recipe or ingredient on here I am gauranteed to get pictures with my results. A recipe has to sound pretty amazing for me to try it without a picture! Food Blog Search has lead me to some pretty delicious recipes and some really great food blogs. Give it a try next time you're looking for a great recipe!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Dutch Baby

Looks cool, right? You will definitely impress any holiday guests coming your way with this one! Don't worry, dutch babies look difficult, but there couldn't be an easier recipe out there! The heat of the oven does all the work. A dutch baby, otherwise known as a german pancake, is an "eggy" giant, oven baked pancake. Such a fun breakfast, kid-friendly and yummy too! Traditionally it is served with a sprinkling of lemon juice and powdered sugar, but we usually eat it with maple syrup or raspberry sauce and whipped cream.
Make sure your guests or family see it come out of the oven, if they aren't already gathered round the oven watching it puff, it deflates rather quickly when taken out of the oven.
Dutch Baby
4 eggs
1 T. sugar (optional- I usually skip it)
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cups flour
2/3 cup milk
3 T. butter
*Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Put the butter in an oven safe skillet or cast iron skillet (or 2 9 inch cake pans, although it wont puff as well) and place in preheating oven.
*While the butter is melting, blend the eggs until light yellow. (I usually do this by hand, but can be done with a mixer. The more you beat it, the more air you put in the eggs, the more puff you will get).
*Add all the other ingredients and blend well until smooth (err on the side of too much beating)
*Carefully remove the hot skillet from the oven and immediately pour the mixture into the skillet and quickly get it back in the oven.
*Bake for 20 min. (dont open the door during this time, until it has begun to brown, otherwise it may deflate)
*Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake another 10 or so minutes until deep golden brown.
*Cut and serve hot
What a pathetic drizzle of raspberry sauce, huh? :) We were using up some leftover from the freezer!

*Your goal is to have the sides puff more than the middle, although that often doesnt happen. A dutch baby is like a snowflake- no two look the same!

*They are actually rather "light" and I could eat 1/2 of one myself, so if you plan on feeding more than a few people, make sure you have other stuff to go with it like bacon or sausage and fruit.

*Step up the impressive and decadent factor by piling it high with seasonal fruit and whipped cream or sauteed cinnamon and sugar apples (it makes a natural and delicious bowl!)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Santa Cookies

I have been making these santa cookies every Christmas for as long as I can remember. It wouldn't be Christmas without them! We usually make them with a couple of rolls of pillsbury sugar cookie dough, but this year I decided to make my own dough. I used my sister's sugar cookie recipe, divided it in half and rolled them into logs. It worked beautifully and this dough didnt spread at all!
The M-ster sprinkling the hats. She wasnt too interested in helping yesterday- good thing we only did one roll- maybe she will want to help another day:
"Ooohhh..." The T-ster thinks they look pretty good even before they are baked:
Santa Cookies
3/4 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2 3/4 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
red sprinkles
chocolate chips
red hot
piece of nut
white frosting
*Combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
*Cream the butter and sugar
*Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until light and fluffy
*Gradually add the dry ingredients and mix well.
*Divide dough in 2 and roll each piece into a log. Wrap in seran wrap and chill overnight- rotating occasionally to help keep a round shape.
*Slice chilled dough into about 1/4 inch slices (I got about 24 slices out of one roll- equals 12 cookies)
Assembly:
*Place one slice on a greased baking sheet. Take another slice and cut a triangle into it. Place the triangle on top of the head and place the other two pieces on the face as a mustache.
*Place two chocolate chips on each face for the eyes. The red hot for the mouth, under the mustache and the nut for the nose. Sprinkle the hat with red sugar sprinkles.
*Bake at 375 degrees for about 8 min.
*When cooled, frost the moustache and decorate the bottom edge of the hat and tip of the hat with a star decorators tip.

Monday, December 14, 2009

See's Fudge

This fudge and I go way back!! I mean as far back as my memory allows me. Every year my grandma would work hard to fill a big box full of Christmas goodies for my family and one for my cousins. It was full of peanut cookies, chocolate chip cookies, banana bread, poor man's bread, a giant windmill cookie, and my two favorites- cinnamon rolls and this fudge! Yum!!

My grandma gave me the recipe when I got married and the first year that I didn't get to enjoy her fudge, I decided to tackle it myself. Fudge is a little intimidating, all that heating and bubbling and stirring. It felt like there were just too many things that could go wrong, but after a phone call to my grandma to learn a few of her secrets, I discovered that it wasnt so hard afterall. And look, even I can create a creamy delicious fudge that tastes just like grandma's!- well, almost anyway, can you ever really match grandma? :)
See's Fudge (from Grandma Vanderbilt)
4 1/2 cups sugar
12 oz. can of evaporated milk
1/2 lb. (2 sticks, 1 cup) butter, chopped into chunks
18 oz. chocolate chips (I used dark choc., but in the past have used milk choc., both work fine)
7 oz. jar of marshmallow creme (the recipe says 8 oz, but I can never find that size and it seems to work just fine missing that one ounce)
2 tsp. vanilla
*Put the sugar and evaporated milk in a 6 quart pan and bring it to a rolling boil over medium heat, stirring nearly constantly. When it begins to boil rapidly, begin timing, and allow it to boil rapidly for about 8 min, stirring constantly. (grandma says it will NOT burn! :)
*Take it off the heat and add the butter, chocolate chips and marshmallow creme. Transfer to a big bowl and beat until smooth and creamy.
*Add the vanilla (and nuts if you choose) and continue to beat until it thickens (usually takes around 7-10 mins)
*Immediately pour into a well buttered 9x13 pan and allow to cool in the fridge at least overnight, if not longer. (I usually store mine in the fridge)
Makes 5 lbs.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Sticky Biscuits

When we woke up this morning to a blizzard and I knew my husband would be home I knew I wanted to make cinnamon rolls for breakfast. Only problem? We didnt want to wait 3 hours to eat, while the yeast took its time to do its thing!! So I improvised and made some out of biscuits. Not as good as the real deal, but definitely not bad for a quick fix!

Sticky Biscuits

For the biscuits:
2 cups flour
1 T. baking powder
2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter
2/3 cup milk

For the topping:
3/4 cup brown sugar
4 T. butter
3 T. honey
1 T. corn syrup
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped pecans (I left off since the T-ster was going to be eating them too)

For the filling:
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 T cinnamon
4 T. butter, softened

The method:

*Combine all the filling ingredients and set aside.
*Combine all the topping ingredients, except the pecans, and begin to heat in a small saucepan until melted together.
*While the topping is melting together make the biscuits:
*Combine all the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
*Cut in the butter with a pastry blender or two forks until butter is roughly pea sized.
*Create a well in the dough and all at once, add the milk. With a fork gently toss until moistened and starts to hold together.
*Transfer to a lightly floured surface and quickly knead 4 or 5 times to bring the dough into a rough disk.
*Roll out into a rectangle (maybe 6 x 12 ??)
*Sprinkle the filling over the rectangle and then from one long side, roll up the dough and pinch to seal.
*Pour the topping into a lightly greased 9 inch round cake pan. (I didnt quite use all of it) And top with pecans.
*Cut the dough into 8 slices and place on top of the topping in the pan.
*Bake at 400 degrees for about 18 min? (I didnt really time it!- start watching after maybe 12 min)
*Cool slightly and then invert onto a plate or pan and allow the topping to drip down a bit before removing the pan.
*Serve warm

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Reindeer Sammies

Need a cute idea to please the kids in your life this Christmas season? Try these Rudolph the Reindeer treats. Take your basic Ritz sammie, peanut butter smashed between two Ritz crackers, dipped in chocolate, add a few other ingredients and you have a reindeer. I dont have a real recipe for this one, but here's the basic idea:

*Smear peanut butter between two ritz crackers and sandwhich together.
*Melt some candy melts in a double boiler, or in a small bowl placed over a bit of simmering water in a saucepan.
*Dip the crackers in the chocolate and set on a piece of wax paper to dry. While the "head" is still wet, dip two small twist pretzels and place next to the head so the chocolates touch and allow to harden together.
*Also while the "head" is still wet, place chocolate chips on the face for eyes and a red hot for the nose. (It helps to have a three year old help with this step! :)
*I used roughly two sleeves of ritz and one pkg of candy melts. I had leftover chocolate, which was perfect because I love chocolate covered pretzels:

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Speculaas (windmill cookies)

Dec. 5 is celebrated in Holland as Sinterklaas Day. Of course, being a Dutch family, it only made sense to take this opportunity for a good excuse to bake and have a party. Speculaas cookies (windmill cookies) are the traditional treat of Sinterklaas day. It is usually made in windmill or dutch boy and girl shapes, baked into a wooden press, but we just made due with christmas cookie cutters, along with a wooden shoe shape and a windmill shape, although as you can see in the picture below, the windmill looks a little more like a bunny, at least that's what the M-ster says!
Speculaas are a crunchy, spice cookie, studded with almond slices and usually topped with almond slices (we left them off this time). We also made half the dough without almonds for the little ones at the party! It's a very easy dough to whip up and work with. You do need to let it chill in the fridge overnight, so plan ahead!
Speculaas (windmill cookies)
1 cup butter, softened
2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup sugar
1 1/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs, beaten
3 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp ground anise seed (I left out b/c I didnt have any)
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cups sliced almonds, plus more for topping, if desired
*Combine the flour, baking soda, all the spices and the salt. Set aside.
*Cream the butter, vanilla, and both sugars, until light and fluffy.
*Add the beaten eggs and blend well.
*Add the dry ingredients.
*Stir in the almonds, by hand, so you dont crush them.
*Divide the dough into four and form each one into a disk. Wrap each section in plastic wrap and chill overnight.
* When ready to bake, allow the dough to warm up a bit so you can roll it out. Roll to about 1/4 inch thickness, cut.
*Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 min.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Peanut Blossoms

Its Christmas baking season! Time to pull out all those holiday favorites. I would love to hear what some of your favorites are, leave a comment, maybe you will help me discover a few new ones!! I thought I would start the season off with a classic, but can you believe I've never made peanut blossoms before! So simple, so delicious, so classic! Good thing I had some leftover kisses I needed to use up! The M-ster was very helpful in unwrapping all the kisses and in pressing them into the cookies. Here's the recipe I used, just in case, like me, you've never made them either. :)

Peanut Blossoms
1 3/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp milk
sugar for rolling
bag of Hershey kisses
*In a small bowl combine the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
*Cream the butter and peanut butter.
*Add both the sugars and beat well.
*Add the egg, vanilla and milk and beat to combine.
*Mix in the flour mixture.
*Roll a small amount of dough into a ball (about 1 inch) and roll in sugar to coat.
*Bake at 375 degrees for about 10 min.
*Remove from oven and immediately gently press a kiss into each cookie.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Cheese Topped Pumpkin Muffins

If you haven't yet made a pumpkin flavored treat this November, its time- Thanksgiving is almost here! And these muffins are just the ones to try. They are delicious! The first time I tasted them I let out an audible "mmm...", that doesnt happen very often! The recipe says it makes 12 muffins, but I guess I didnt fill mine as full as I should have because I had some leftover batter. I just put them in my mini muffin tin and made them without the cheese on top, they were also very good!



Cheese-Topped Pumpkin Muffins (adapted from muffintop.com and a Machine Shed recipe book)

1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup of canned pumpkin(as suggested by the muffintop blogger, I used the whole 15 oz can for added moistness)
1/3 cup veg oil
2 eggs
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ginger
1/8 tsp. cloves
1 1/4 cups plus 1 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
4 oz. cream cheese, cut into 12 pieces
2 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon

*Whisk together the flour and baking powder; set aside.

*In a large bowl, stir together the pumpkin, oil, eggs, spices, sugar, baking soda and salt, until smooth.

*Gently stir the flour into the pumpkin mixture just until combined.

*Place in muffin tin fitted with papers and top each one with a piece of cream cheese and sprinkle with a topping of the sugar, brown sugar and cinnamon.

*Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 min.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Angel Food Cake

It was my husband's birthday on Wednesday. His one and only request every year is for an angel food cake. Until I met him I had never made one, now I make one twice a year, for his birthday and fathers day. I dont think I will ever make one as well as his grandma did :), who made his every year for his birthday, but still, Im happy with the results!
When making an angel food cake start mixing the whites in a very large bowl. I use a 6 quart mixer and it is full to the top by time its done whipping! Its very sticky batter and requires a gentle touch. When decorating a cake, one tip on making sure you end with a fairly clean platter is to put wax paper pieces around the edge under the cake and then just pull them away after the frosting sets a bit.
Angel Food Cake (Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book)
1 1/2 cups egg whites (10-12 large)
1 1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar
1 cup sifted flour
1 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup granulated sugar
*Sift the powdered sugar and flour together 3 times, set aside.
*In an extra large mixing bowl begin whipping the egg whites (they seperate easier when cold, but then let them come to room temp, takes about 30 min, because they whip better at room temp)
*Once they are foamy add the cream of tartar and vanilla. Beat on med-high speed until soft peaks form. Gradually add the granulated sugar about 2 Tbsp. at a time, continue speeding until stiff peaks form.
*Add 1/4 of the flour/sugar mixture. Gently fold in. Continue adding the mixture about 1/4 at a time, gently folding.
*Pour into an ungreased 10 inch tube pan. Gently cut through with a knife to remove air pockets.
*Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 min. until dry and top springs back when lightly touched. Immediately invert cake to cool completely.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Apple Custard Kuchen

Here is another apple recipe for your fall enjoyment. This recipe starts by making a chunky applesauce that you sweeten with honey. The girls and I really liked it. So even if you dont try the whole recipe you may want to keep this recipe in mind next time you make applesauce.
Kuchen (pr. kook-en), is a german sweet yeast coffee cake. It can be used and topped in many different ways. I made an apple custard, which turned out creamy and delicious. If you know you dont like custard, try topping it with a different form of fruit. If you are unsure whether you like custard, this may be a good one to try because it has the added layer of applesauce to "mellow" the custard texture and flavor.
The dough was very sticky to work with, even after adding more flour, and after dumping it in a bowl to refridgerate I thought for sure this was going to end in disaster. But several hours later when I pulled it out I was so suprised at how the dough had hardened. It broke easily after rolling it and trying to lift it and place it in the pan, but I just pressed it back together and it turned out pretty good. I almost wonder if you could skip the rolling step and just press it all in the pan.

I have never had or even seen an authentic kuchen so Im not really sure how this one stacks up. Has anyone had one? Do you know if this looks authentic?

Apple Custard Kuchen (from Prairie Home Breads by Judith M. Fertig)

The filling:
1 egg, beaten
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup honeyed applesauce (recipe below) or any chunky applesauce

*Whisk all ingredients but the applesauce together and set aside.

The dough:
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. butter
1 pkg (2 1/4 tsp.) yeast
1/4 cup lukewarm water (90 degrees)
1 egg, beaten
2 cups flour (I used more)

*In a small saucepan combine the milk, sugar, salt and butter and scald the milk (heat until small bubble form around the edges). Remove from heat and stir until butter melts. Cool to lukewarm.
*In a large bowl sprinkl the yeast over the warm water and allow to proof about 5 minutes until foamy.
*Stir the milk mixture into the yeast, then stir in the flour, one cup at a time until you have a soft dough. Place the dough in a large oiled bowl and turn to coat. Cover and place in the fridge for at least 3 hrs or up to 3 days.

Assembly:
*Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and divide in two. Roll out each section into a circle and place each one in a 9 inch cake pan or springform pan, bringing the sides up a bit.
*Spoon half the applesauce onto each dough and then top with half the filling mixture on each one.
*Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 20-25 min. until the dough puffs a bit and has browned and the filling has browned, but will still look soft. Serve warm or at room temp.

Honeyed Applesauce
8 cups cored, peeled, quartered apples (about 3 lbs)
1 cup mild honey
1 tsp. lemon juice
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp. salt, or to taste

*In a large saucepan combine the apples and 1/2 cup of the honey. Cover and bring to a simmer. Cook until the apples are tender, about 20 min.
*Mash the apples with a masher, leaving it chunky. Stir in the rest of the ingredients
(I just made roughly a quater of this recipe for the kuchen)

Friday, November 6, 2009

Shaker Daily Bread

I went hunting for some bread books from the library this week and came home with two. One had great pictures and a wide variety of world breads. The other one, from where I got this recipe, focused on breads found in the midwest. This one was made by "kitchen sisters" in a Shaker community in Ohio, who would make about about 60 loaves a day! My two was more than enough!!

What I liked most about this bread was that it had a really crispy crust, but unlike so many crispy crusted breads, this ones was very thin. It wasnt tough to bite through at all. It was a little "crumbly". As you can see in the slice in the top picture, the crumb gets looser at the top of the slice than it is at the bottom. That shouldnt be, but I have yet to figure that one out! All in all, a very good basic white bread and an easy to handle dough.
Shaker Daily Bread (from Prairie Home Breads)
2 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water (about 90-100 degrees)
1 3/4 Tbsp butter, cut into pieces
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. salt
5-5 1/2 cups flour
melted butter, for brushing
*Scald the milk (heat until small bubbles appear around the edges) and then add the butter and sugar. Remove from heat and allow to cool to lukewarm (80-90 degrees)
*Meanwhile in a large bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water and allow to proof at least 5 min.
*Add the milk mixture to to the yeast mixture. With a wooden spoon, or your mixer, if you have a dough hook, beat in 5 cups of flour, one cup at a time, until you have a smooth dough, adding more flour if needed.
*Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead about 10 min until smooth and elastic.
*Place the dough in a large oiled bowl and brush top with melted butter. Cover and allow to rise until double, roughly 1 1/2 hrs.
*Gently punch the dough down and transfer to a floured surface. Cut in half and form into two loaves. Place in two greased loaf pans and brush with melted butter. Cover and allow to rise until doubled about 1 1/2 hrs.
*Bake at 400 degrees for about 30 min.
Oops, see the loaf to the right. For some reason it didnt rise as well as the other one. Oh well, I did two loaves because I wanted to let one of them "stale" a bit to try making a Charlotte. Guess I know wich loaf I will be using! And hey, even bad homemade bread is still good!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Cinnamon Raisin Bread

My goal this winter is to broaden my repetoire of yeast breads. I can confidently produce a good oatmeal molasses bread, cinnamon rolls and pizza dough/ breadsticks, but that leaves a whole lot of untried yeast creations. This cinnamon raisin bread is my first new one.
Cinnamon Raisin Bread (from my kitchen aid recipe book)
1/2 cup milk
3 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. butter
2 pkgs yeast (one pkg equals 2 1/4 tsp)
1 1/2 cup warm water
5-6 cups flour
*Heat the milk, sugar, salt and butter over low heat in a saucepan until melted. Cool to lukewarm.
*Dissolve yeast in the warm water in a warmed mixer bowl.
*Add the lukewarm milk mixture and 4 1/2 cups of flour. Attach dough hook or beater and mix until combined. Continue mixing while you add remaining flour 1/2 cup at a time.
*Take out of the bowl and continue kneading on a lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic, several minutes (dough will be slightly sticky)
*Put the dough in a greased bowl, turning to coat, cover with plastic wrap and let rise until double (about 1 hr)
*Punch dough down, divide in half and roll each section into approx 9x14 rectangle.
*Spread 1 Tbsp of softened butter onto each rectangle and sprinkle half of a sugar mixture over the whole surface of each one (1/2 cup sugar and 2 tsp. cinnamon)
*Shape into loaves by rolling tightly, pinching to seal and tucking ends under. Place in greased loaf pans, cover with plastic wrap and allow to double in size
*Bake at 375 degrees for 40-45 min. (loosely cover with tin foil if top browns excessively)

Friday, October 30, 2009

Chicago-style Deep Dish Pizza

I love deep dish pizza. Why didn't I think to make it at home a long time ago? Definitely not perfect, but definitely delicious!! And so fun to make!
The Crust
The crust is more thin crust, cracker-like than most doughs. But very stable- I was impressed at how well it held up. I may have liked it more if I didnt mess it up! While I was waiting out the 2 hour rise I decided to make some brownies. I turned on the oven to preheat...and then realized I still had my dough in the oven rising. Oops!! Apparently I didnt kill the yeast altogether because while it was resting on the counter it did puff up a little. But I do wonder if it would have turned out differently had I not started to bake it before it's rising time was up!!

Heres what you need for 2 pizza pies:
2 cups flour
1/3 cup yellow corn meal
1 Tbsp sugar
1 1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/8 tsp. yeast
2 1/2 Tbsp. canola oil
3/4 cup lukewarm water

*Place the yeast in the warm water and let if sit for a few minutes to proof.
*Meanwhile combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar and salt in your mixer.
*Pour the oil and water/yeast mixture into the flour mixture and knead until smooth a few minutes, or when it starts to come together finish kneading it by hand until smooth.
*Place the smooth dough ball in an oiled bowl and turn to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot to rise about 2 hours, or until doubled.

The Sauce
I really liked the flavor of the sauce. It was very similar to my usual sauce but with the added red wine vinegar. And it was so simple to whip up.

28 oz. crushed tomatoes (I used italian style)
3 garlic cloves, minced
a sprinkling of oregano, basil, pepper and salt
1 Tbsp. of red wine vinegar

*Mix all ingredients in a bowl

The Assembly

My pizza needed more filling and more cheese, but really quite an easy process. (Just be careful with ingredients that are "wet"- I almost thought mine was going to be soggy.)

*Generously butter two 8 or 9 inch cake pans.
*Divide your dough in half and roll each one out quite thin, about an inch bigger around than the pans. Place in pans and gently press into place. I blind baked my crust for 4 min. min. at 400 degrees, but not sure if that was necessary.
*Put a very generous amount of mozzarella cheese on top of the crust.
*Place all your toppings on next. (I then sprinkled some more mozzarella and some parmesan, but not enough)
*Pour half your sauce onto each pizza.
*Bake for about 35 min. Watch the crust and cover it loosely with foil if it starts to brown too fast.
*Let it sit for about 5 min. before gently taking them out of the pans and placing them on a cutting board to cut and serve.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Scalloped Potatoes

Tonights dinner was as simple as they get- a pork roast in the crockpot and acorn squash in the microwave. Simple, but one of my favorites. But because of its simplicity I figured I could go all out on the potato dish- scalloped potatoes. Which actually turned out to be quite simple in and of itself.
I've only made scalloped potatoes once in my life and they weren't too great. Pretty boring really. So I'm not sure why I thought I wanted to try them tonight, but I'm so glad I did!! They were delicious! I couldn't stop eating them!! This recipe originally comes from Cook's Illustrated, but I found it on seriouseats.com. They were the opposite of everything that I don't like about scalloped potatoes. The potatoes were not mushy at all, neither were they undercooked and the flavor was pretty amazing. They claim the trick is to parboil the potatoes before putting them in the oven- I'm convinced!! And please don't let the terrible picture keep you from trying this recipe. You will be missing out on one great recipe!- well, in my opinion anyway :)

Scalloped Potatoes

1 Tbsp. butter
1/2 medium onion, minced
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. fresh thyme, minced (I used 1/4 tsp. dried thyme)
1 1/4 lbs. russet potatoes, peeled and sliced thin
1/2 c. chicken broth
1/2 c heavy cream (I used 2% milk and didnt miss any of the creaminess!)
1 bay leaf
shredded cheese (I used sharp cheddar)
(I sprinkled the top with dried bread crumbs for added crunch)

*Melt the butter in a large oven proof saucepan on med-high heat.
*Add the onions and saute until tender, a few minutes
*Add the garlic and thyme and saute for about 30 seconds more
*Dump in the potatoes, broth, cream and bay leaf. Bring to a simmer and then reduce heat, cover and let cook for 10 min. (I stirred mine a couple times, b/c Im a bit of a fanatic about stirring :)
*Remove lid and bay leaf.
*Top potatoes with the cheese and if you choose, the dried bread crumbs.
*Put the skillet in a 425 degree oven for 15 min or until bubbly and cheese is all melted.
*Let it rest for about 5 min. before serving

-If you dont have an oven proof skillet, just transfer the potatoes to a casserole dish after you cook them on the stove.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Apple Cake

It's apple season!! I love fall with all the color, crisp air, wonderful apple and spice smells. In my opinion, it doesnt get more "comfort" food than apple dishes.
Okay, so this recipe doesn't actually use fresh apples, but rather canned apple pie filling. But it is so moist, delicious and extremely easy to make. This is yet another of my moms recipes. For a woman who can't eat sugar, she sure knows how to find scrumptious recipes. Best of all her recipes are simple, unfussy and use ingredients that you often have sitting in your cupboard.
This cake is delicious enough to serve for a dinner party with a dab of cool whip or served plain and used as a morning coffee cake.
Apple Cake
3 eggs
1 can (20 oz) apple pie filling
1 pkg yellow cake mix
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 Tbsp. flour
1 Tbsp. butter
*Stir together, by hand, the eggs, pie filling and dry cake mix.
*Pour into a greased and floured 9x13 pan
*Combine the brown sugar, cinnamon and flour. Cut in the butter.
*Sprinkle on top of the unbaked cake.
*Bake for about 30-35 min. at 350 degrees

Sunday, October 18, 2009

PB Oatmeal Cookies

In apology for the long lapse in posting,(we moved to an old farmhouse out in the country and had to wait 3 weeks for the internet!) I'm offering a no-fail, delicious cookie recipe. I love cookies, but at the same time I find it difficult to find one that actually meets my standards. This one does.

And even more surprisingly it meets my husbands as well! These are his favorite and he is actually the one who introduced me to them. They are the cookie by which all other cookies are judged by- nothing ever even comes close according to him. He made them a few times for me while we were dating. His trick to making them great is undercooking them and he would pile them into a tupperware and put them in the fridge and they would clump together like one giant cookie that we would tear chunks off of. YUM!! If you ever wondered why I married the guy, this is why- he wouldnt give me the recipe until I said YES!! :)
-Im still working on making them as great as he can, according to him I will never get it quite right!! PB Oatmeal Cookies (otherwise known as "goodness" in this household)

3/4 cup butter
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/4 cups flour
2 cups oatmeal
chocolate chips

*Cream together the butter and peanut butter
*Add the sugars baking powder and baking soda, mix well
*Beat in the eggs and vanilla
*Mix in the flour and then the oatmeal just until combined
*Stir in some chocolate chips
*Bake for 8 min. or so at 375 degrees

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Chewy Granola Bars

Does anyone else struggle with snack ideas for your kids? My girls usually get tired of eating something about half way through the box, so I have learned to only buy things for them that I am willing to finish off. Along with that issue, I much prefer to make them snacks-they are more healthy, not full of processed junk, and a little cheaper.
These granola bars were perfect! They are so versatile- you can completely cater to your own taste preference. And they are beyond easy to make, and really tasty too. They are made just like rice krisy bars, just with different ingredients. Not including cooling and cutting time, it took me less than 10 minutes to whip these babies up! And the cost difference compared to store bought is pretty big. My rough estimate indicated that store bought bars cost about $.27 per bar (for the cheaper brand!) and these much healthier, tastier, basic version cost only about $.09 per bar! Chewy Granola Bars

2 cups oatmeal (I havent done this yet, but try toasting it first)
2 cups cheerios (or rice krispys, puff cereal, etc.)
1 cup raisins (or other dried fruit)
1/3 cup ground flax seed (or wheat germ)
-any other mix in ingredient (nuts, seeds, more fruit, etc)
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup corn syrup (or honey, maple syrup, agave nectar, etc)
1/2 cup brown sugar

*Mix the dry ingredients together. Set aside.
*Combine the peanut butter, corn syrup and brown sugar in a large pot and heat over medium until the mixture just boils.
*Toss the dry ingredients into the gooey mixture in the pot and quickly stir to coat.
*Dump into a greased 9x13 pan and press down with fingers or a fork dipped in water to prevent sticking
*Allow to cool completely (about an hour, or put it in the fridge to speed the process)
*Cut into bars (I found it easiest to pop the whole thing out of the pan, put it on a cutting board and chop through it with a big butcher knife)
*Makes 18 bars

I haven't tried it yet, but I read that they freeze well. Wrap individually in seran wrap, place in a freezer bag and you will always have ready some easy, fairly healthy, really good grab and go snacks. (or like in our house, breakfast, with some yogurt and a banana)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Double Chocolate Torte

This past Friday I celebrated 5 years of being married to the most terrific husband ever, but I will spare you the mushy gushy and get straight to the food. That is, afterall, why you are here, right?
The occassion completely warrented itself to a very decadent dessert, so I went all out with this one! Double Chocolate Torte- chocolate on top of chocolate- doesn't get much better than that. It is a rich and fudgy chocolate torte base topped with a creamy, fluffy chocolate mousse. I have never made a torte or mousse, so it was an adventure! The torte is basically a very rich brownie- same method, just different amounts of the same ingredients. So that was simple. The mousse was a little more intimidating- trying to heat eggs without curdling them and then folding the whites into the warm chocolate. It turned out surprisingly well, just maybe a little more grainy than I would have liked. But oh so rich and decadent and perfectly paired with a glass of sweet red wine- the perfect end to a perfect day of celebrating!

Double Chocolate Torte (from smittenkitchen.com)
For the torte (the cake):
8 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
5 eggs
1 Tbsp. vanilla
1/4 cup flour
For the mousse:
1/2 cup butter, cut into pieces
4 egss, seperated
1/4 cup whipping cream
1 Tbsp. vanilla
8 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup sugar
For the whipped cream topping:
3/4 whipping cream
1 1/2 tsp. sugar
For the cake:
*Butter and sugar a springform pan.
*Melt chocolate and butter in heavy saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly. Cool to lukewarm.
*Whisk in the sugar.
*Whisk in the eggs one at a time, blending well after each addition.
*Mix in the vanilla and salt and then the flour.
*Pour into the prepared pan and bake at 325 degrees for about 35 min. (until the center just rises- a toothpick inserted in center will not come out clean)
*Cool completely and then chill while making the mousse.
For the mousse:
*Melt the butter in a double boiler or heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water (dont allow bowl to touch water).
*In a small bowl whisk the yolks, cream and vanilla.
*Gradually add yolk mixture to the butter and whisk constantly over simmering water until thermometer reaches 150 degrees (about 6 min)- Dont worry if mixture appears curdled
*Remove from heat and stir in the chocolate to melt, then set aside.
*Beat the egg whites and sugar medium stiff peaks form.
*Whisk 1/4 of the beaten egg whites to the chocolate mixture to lighten it, then fold in the remaining egg whites.
*Pour the mousse over the cake and chill for at least 6 hrs until set.
*Release the torte from the pan and transfer it to a serving platter.
*Whip the 3/4 cup of cream with the 1 1/2 tsp of sugar and top the torte.
*Garnish how you like, with chocolate shavings, raspberries, etc.
**Note: The batter of the cake oozed out of the springform pan and onto the bottom of my oven when I made this. Ugh! Thankfully I realized it before too much mess and placed a pan on the bottom rack to catch it and it didnt seem to effect the outcome of the cake, but not real sure how to keep that from happening again- maybe wrap the pan in tin foil?

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Raspberry Sauce

Phew! I thought there for a little while that summer was over early in Iowa. Im so glad to have a few more warm days before the fall chill sets in. And Im taking advantage of these warmer days by enjoying some summer favorites like ice cream cones, a fish fry, eating outside, bbqs and raspberry lemonade.
This raspberry sauce is as delicious as it is gorgeous!! And extremely simple!

Just take 6 oz. of fresh or frozen raspberries (both work equally well) and run it through a food processor (Im sure a blender would work too) with 1 Tablespoon of sugar until it is pureed.
Then mash it through a fine mesh sieve:
Keep mashing until all that is left are the seeds. (Thats my favorite part of this recipe- I hate seeds!):
And you are left with some very tasty raspberry sauce. It freezes very well, so dont worry if you can't use it all up. You can use it as a garnish for a fancy dessert, or as a layer in a cake (although you may want to thicken it up a bit by heating it with some cornstarch), or pour it over some pancakes, a dutch baby or some popovers like the girls and I did for lunch the other day, or as an ice cream topping. As you can see the possiblities are many! But my favorite way to use this sauce is to mix it into some lemonade to make raspberry lemonade- the best you will ever have, especially if you make the lemonade from scratch as well. Use anywhere from 1 Tbs.- 1/4 cup of sauce for a pitcher of lemonade, according to your preference.
Enjoy the taste of summer before its just a distant memory!!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Zucchini Bread

I feel like I'm a little late in the season for offering up another zucchini recipe, but if you are like me, you still have several zucchini's sitting in your fridge patiently waiting to be used in some delectable way. Ive been making breads and cakes and storing them away in the freezer for this winter when zucchini is no where to be seen. This recipe comes from my mom. I have no clue where she got it, but it's a pretty good one. I found that I liked this one better the next day rather than fresh, go figure.

Zucchini Bread

1 2/3 cup flour
1 1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. cloves
2 beaten eggs
1/3 cup melted butter (I substituted 2 T. of this with oil- I like the flavor of butter, but I like the moistness that oil offers)
1/3 cup water
1 cup shredded zucchini (or other squash)
1/2 cup nuts or raisins (optional)

*Sift together the dry ingredients in a large bowl and set aside
*Combine the rest of the ingredients in another bowl
*Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and stir just until moistened
*Pour into a greased and floured loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour