Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Joanna Pruess's Molasses Spice Cookies

from Carole Walter's Great Cookies cookbook

¾ c (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter
2 c all purpose flour, spooned and leveled
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
¾ tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cloves
2 c sugar, divided
¼ c dark molasses
1 lg egg

Melt butter in a heavy duty saucepan over low heat. (This cookie is mixed by hand in the pot). Cool to tepid.
Strain together 3 times- flour, soda, cinnamon, ginger, salt, and cloves. Set aside.
Using a wooden spoon, stir 1 ½ c of the sugar, molasses, and egg into the butter, mixing until smooth.
Add dry ingredients, ½ at a time and blend well.
Cover with wax paper and chill for 30-45 minutes until firm.
Position shelves in upper and lower third of oven. Heat to 375. Moderately butter cookie sheets.
Shape dough into 1 in balls between palms of hands.
Place remaining ½ c sugar in a shallow dish and roll the balls of dough in sugar.
Place balls 2 inches apart on cookie sheets. Bake 8-10 minutes or until tops begin to crack. Toward end of baking time rotate pans from top to bottom and front to back.
Remove from oven and let stand 2-3 minutes.

Datenut Pinwheels

These have always been one of my favorites at Christmas time. I realize the dates might scare you off if you've never had anything with dates (I haven't had anything else with dates so I am not sure how they are in other things) but these are great. I've had them every year since I can remember and as I said above, they're one of my very favorites!

Mix thoroughly:

½ c shortening
1c brown sugar
1 egg
½ tsp vanilla

1 ¾ c flour
½ tsp baking soda

Divide dough into 2 equal parts.
Tear off a piece of wax paper for each half. Roll each piece on top of the wax paper into rectangle 11 in x 7 in. (you will be rolling the dough up in the wax paper so don't skip this)

For the Filling, cook ingredients below in a saucepan until thickened, stirring constantly:

¾ lb moist pitted dates cut up (I get the already cut dates that come in a purple box, way
easier than trying to cut sticky dates!)
1/3 c sugar
1/3 c water

Once thickened, stir in:
1/2 c finely chopped nuts (I like pecans)

It will look like this when thickened:

Spread 1/2 of the filling on each dough piece and spread out. Roll up the dough.

Next roll the wax paper around the dough to enclose it. Twist ends of wax paper and refrigerate for several hours.

Heat oven to 400 and cut into 1/4" slices.
Place on lightly greased baking sheet and bake 10 minutes or until lightly golden.

You can bake as many as you want and store the rest in the wax paper. It also freezes very well in the wax paper.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Sugar Cookies

The nutmeg and sour cream in this recipe makes it my favorite for sugar cookies!

3 1/4 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 c. butter
1 c. sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. sour cream

Sift together first five (dry) ingredients. Cream together remaining five ingredients. Mix dry ingredients into wet. Chill in refrigerator for 3-4 hours. Roll out to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut into shapes. Bake at 350 ° F for 9 minutes.

These cookies are even more amazing with cream cheese frosting, but any kind will do!

I'm not sure where the recipe originates, but I received it from my friend, Melissa Landon.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Pumpkin Pie Bars

from Kraft
I've been trying some recipes from my cookbook that I haven't tried in years, in attempt to toss the recipes I don't really care much about and cut down on recipes.
Since this is another pumpkin recipe, and I don't go crazy over pumpkin for the most part, I thought this recipe would get the ax once I made them and tried them again, but... they made the cut. They were good. I ate more than I thought I would. Good combination of flavors...and from Kraft-- who knew?

1 1/3 cups flour
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar, divided
1 1/2 sticks cold butter or margarine
1 cup old-fashioned or quick-cooking oats, uncooked
1/2 cup chopped pecans
8 oz cream cheese, softened
3 eggs
1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin
1 Tbsp pumpkin pie spice

Preheat to 350°F. Line 13x9-inch pan with foil, with ends of foil extending over sides; grease foil. Mix flour, 1/4 granulated sugar and brown sugar in medium bowl; cut in butter with pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in oats and nuts.
Reserve 1 cup oat mixture; press remaining onto bottom of prepared pan. Bake 15 min.
Beat cream cheese, remaining ½ c sugar, eggs, pumpkin and spice on medium speed until well blended. Pour over crust; sprinkle with reserved crumb mixture.
Bake 25 min; cool 10 min. Use foil to transfer dessert from pan to wire rack; cool completely

Mexican Wedding Cookies

Recipe from Creative Cooking Collection.

1 cup butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar, divided
2 cups flour, divided
2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup pecans, ground

Beat butter and 1/2 cup powdered sugar until light and fluffy. Add 1 cup flour, vanilla, and salt. Stir in remaining flour and nuts with spoon.

Form dough into ball, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate 1 hour or until firm.

Preheat oven to 350 ° F. Roll tablespoons of dough into 1-inch balls; place 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until pale golden brown. Let cookies stand on cookie sheets 2 minutes.

Place 1 cup powdered sugar in 9X13 dish. Transfer hot cookies to dish and roll in sugar, coating well. Let cookies cool in sugar. Sift remaining 1/2 cup powdered sugar over sugar-coated cookies before serving.

Store tightly at room temperature or freeze up to 1 month. Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Pumpkin Cake Roll

One of my all-time favorite holiday treats!
Recipe from The Essential Mormon Cookbook.

3 eggs
1 c. sugar
2/3 c. pumpkin
1 tsp. lemon juice
3/4 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. powdered sugar
1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese
4 Tbs. butter
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Beat eggs and sugar together. Add pumpkin and lemon juice and mix together. In a separate bowl sift together flour, baking powder, spices, and salt. Fold into pumpkin mixture.

Line a 15 x 10 1/2 inch pan with waxed paper. Grease lightly. Spread pumpkin mixture evenly in pan. Bake at 375 ° F for about 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Turn out immediately onto a clean towel sprinkled with powdered sugar, removing waxed paper. Sprinkle more powdered sugar on top of cake. Start at on end, carefully rolling towel and cake together. Cool on counter top.
Combine the 1 cup powdered sugar, cream cheese, butter and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Gently unroll cake, removing towel. Spread cream cheese filling over top. Roll back up. [Note: After you roll the cake up with the filling, place it seam side down. I didn't really think about it when I made it, but I think it would be prettier that way.] Cover with waxed paper and chill in refrigerator. Best when made a day ahead. Will keep in refrigerator 6 to 10 days (well wrapped). Freezes well. Cut cake roll into slices using a bread knife. Makes approximately 20 servings.

Friday, December 3, 2010

A Christmas twist on Chocolate Chip Cookies

This is my Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe, and the main reason Dalyce invited me to be part of this blog. :)  Anyway at Christmas I like to replace the chocolate chips with chopped up candy cane kisses.  I have actually never done nuts with the kisses so I don't know how that would be. I hope you like it!

1 ½  C shortening                                          
¾ C sugar                                                         
1 ½ C brown sugar                                            
1 ½ tsp vanilla                                                  
3 well-beaten eggs                                            
3 1/2 C flour
 1 ½ tsp soda
 1 ½ tsp salt 
 3 C chocolate chips
 ½ C nuts, chopped (Optional)

Cream together shortening both sugars, add vanilla.  Beat until light and fluffy.  Fold in eggs and mix well.
Sift together flour, soda, & salt.  Add to first mixture and stir in chips and nuts.  Mix well, drop 1 spoonful on ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake at 375 for 10 min.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

December Theme

Most people are planning on doing some holiday baking. What are your favorites?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Grilled Chicken Salad

this recipe comes from the cookbook Mexican Everyday

This is my favorite salad!

½ c vegetable or olive oil + more for onion
4 garlic cloves
2 serranos or 1 lg jalapeno, stemmed and halved
½ c fresh lime juice
¾ c loosely packed cilantro
¼ tsp pepper
4 chicken breast halves
1 medium white onion chopped
2 avocados
Romaine lettuce
~1/3 c grated Romano, Parmesan, or Mexican queso anejo cheese

Heat oil and add garlic and chiles. Cook, stirring frequently, until garlic is soft and lightly browned, 1-2 minutes. Pour oil, garlic, and chile into food processor. Add lime juice, cilantro, pepper, and scant 1 tsp salt. Process until smooth.
Place chicken in a bowl and pour 1/3 of dressing over, spreading evenly. Lightly brush onions with oil. Sprinkle with salt. Cook both over medium heat in separate pans. Sear chicken. Cook onion until well browned, 3-4 minutes on each side.
Place onions in a bowl with avocados. Add another 1/3 dressing, then mash together. Season to taste with about ½ tsp salt.
Place cut romaine lettuce into a large bowl and toss with remaining dressing. If you plan to have left overs, do not toss lettuce w/dressing, the leftovers will get soggy. Just pour dressing individually.

Serve with guacamole, chicken, and cheese.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Buttermilk Pancakes

from Fine Cooking Magazine, Dec 09

I always use real buttermilk, I find they turn out fluffier.
Avoid overmixing, which will make pancakes heavier.

3 T butter
9 oz (2 c) unbleached, all purpose flour
1/4 c sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 c buttermilk
2 eggs
vegetable oil for the griddle

Heat oven to 200 (if you want to make them all at once and keep warm until ready to serve).

Melt butter in a small bowl and set aside to cool briefly.

In a large bowl, whisk dry ingredients.
In a medium bowl, whisk buttermilk and eggs. Pour wet into dry ingredients.

Whisk gently until the dry ingredients are almost incorporated. STOP before the batter is evenly moistened.

Add the cooled butter and mix just until the batter is evenly moistened (there will be lumps). Let the batter rest while you heat the griddle (to relax any gluten that has formed, which will produce a more tender pancake.)

Heat the griddle to 375 or a skillet over medium heat until drops of water briefly dance on the surface before evaporating. Lightly oil the griddle.

Pour 1/4 c of the batter for each pancake. Let cook undisturbed until bubbles rise to the surface and edges look dry, 1-2 minutes. Check the underside to make sure it is nicely browned then flip. Cook until nicely browned, about 1 minute.

Transfer pancakes to a baking sheet if desired to keep warm while you cook the remaining batter.

*Cooked pancakes will keep in sealed freezer bags for up to 2 days in the refrigerator or up to 1 month in the freezer. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight and reheat in a 350 oven for 5 minutes.

Friday, November 19, 2010

How to Roast a Pumpkin

So there are a lot of pumpkin recipes out there this time of year. While canned pumpkin certainly is convenient, it just doesn't compare in flavor to fresh pumpkin. Not to mention it is twice as expensive; also, I remember 2 years ago there was a shortage of canned and the only thing you COULD do was used fresh. Or pay $10 for a can.

For all these reasons and more, I make my own pumpkin puree by roasting a pumpkin. It's really really simple:

For your pumpkin, you will want to use a sugar pumpkin, or a "pie pumpkin" - they are the little round ones that weigh around 2-4 pounds. You CAN use a regular ol' jack-o-lantern pumpkin, but they are less sweet and have a higher water content, so if you do use one of the big ones, just put your roasted pumpkin meat into a strainer to get as much liquid out as possible, and then add 2T brown sugar and 1 egg yolk for every 2c pumpkin puree used.

Moving on...
Cut your pumpkin in half - remove all the seeds and yuck. Place them, cut side down, in a large baking dish or roasting pan and fill the pan with 1/4" of water.
Cook at 350 for 45-60 minutes. Check it at 45 minutes (poke it with a fork- you want it to be very tender). If it's not done at 45 minutes, continue baking and check it at 5 minute intervals.

Once tender, remove from the pan of water and let it cool. Then scoop out all the meat and put it in a blender / food processor and puree until smooth.
If your puree is too dry, add water, a tablespoon at a time, until desired consistency is reached. If it's too runny, put it in a strainer and let it release some of its liquid.

(If you're using a large pumpkin, you can quarter it (or cut it into as many pieces as necessary) to fit it into the pan.)

There you go, perfect FRESH pumpkin puree! :)
*If you enjoy canned pumpkin (I don't, but some people prefer its flavor), the reason it's so orange and has such a strong flavor is because it uses the rind of the pumpkin as well. So if you'd like more of a canned pumpkin flavor, scrub your pumpkin really well first, and then don't scoop out your meat, just put the whole thing in a blender. *

Double-Coconut Cream Pie

When we were young, my siblings and I were not big fans of pumpkin pie (one of my sisters even threw up after eating it and still won't touch the stuff!), so my mom would take requests and make whatever we wanted for Thanksgiving. Pumpkin pie was not a staple, or really that necessary at our house. My husband thinks we are so weird. "It's not Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie!" Whatever! Though I do like pumpkin pie now, there are plenty of pies way more delicious than pumpkin. Some of our favorites were chocolate, lemon meringue, and banana cream; you know all the sweet, creamy pudding pies. In honor of our family tradition, I will be making Coconut Cream Pie, because that is what I requested this year. And Cody can have his pumpkin.

3 egg whites
1/4 c. cornstarch
1/4 tsp. salt
2 c. milk
3/4 c. cream of coconut
3 beaten egg yolks
2 Tbs. butter
1 c. flaked coconut
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/3 c. sugar
1 9-inch baked pie crust shell
2 Tbs. flaked coconut

1. Let egg whites stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, for filling, in a medium saucepan combine cornstarch and salt; stir in 1/4 c. of the milk until smooth. Stir in remaining milk and cream of coconut. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened. Cook and stir for 2 minutes more.

2. Remove from heat. Gradually stir about 1 c. of the hot filling into egg yolks, stirring constantly. Pour yolk mixture into remaining hot filling in saucepan. Bring to a gentle boil. Cook and stir for 2 min. more. Remove from heat. Stir in butter until melted. Stir in 1 c. coconut and 2 tsp vanilla. Keep warm. Preheat oven to 350 ° F.

3. For meringue, in a large mixing bowl combine egg whites, the 1/2 tsp. vanilla, and cream of tartar. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed about 1 min. or until soft peaks form (tips curl). Gradually add the 1/3 c. sugar, 1 Tbs. at a time, beating on high speed about 4 min. more or until mixture forms stiff, glossy peaks (tips stand straight) and sugar dissolves.

4. Spoon warm filling into the cooled baked pie crust shell. Immediately spread meringue over warm filling, carefully sealing to edge of pastry to prevent shrinkage. Sprinkle with the 2 Tbs. coconut. Bake for 15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for 1 hour. Chill for 3 to 6 hours before serving; cover for longer storage. Makes 8 servings.

From Better Homes and Gardens: All-Time Favorites Cookbook Volume 2

Turkey Stuffing

A traditional stuffing recipe that has been passed down four generations (and for good reason)!

1 1/2 loaves bread
2 c. onion
1 1/2 c. celery
6 eggs
1/2 c. butter
12 boullion cubes, dissolved in 1 1/2 c. water
1 tsp. poultry seasoning
1 tsp. sage

Saute onions in 1/2 of the butter. Cut bread into bite size pieces. Add seasoning to bread, then onion, celery, eggs, and butter. If not moist enough, add some water. Add salt to taste. This recipe is enough to stuff a 12 lb. turkey or 1 1/2 the recipe for 18 to 20 lbs, 2 times the recipe for 25 lbs. Or do like I do and cook it in a crock pot for 4 to 5 hours.

Sweet Potato Pie

I'll be honest, growing up I was scared of anything yam or sweet potato. But only because everyone else was. Then I tried my in-laws' sweet potato pie. And I went back for seconds, and thirds, and probably fourths. Now I love all things sweet potato. This one has got to be the best though, because it is pretty much dessert but you get to eat it as a side with the rest of the meal. No waiting necessary. My kind of vegetable!

1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 c. butter, melted
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. sugar
2 Tbs. cream
8 oz. yams (or sweet potatoes, technically they are not the same thing, but I interchange them and can't tell much difference)

Mix until well combined. Spread in greased pie dish.

1/4 c. butter, melted
3/4 c. brown sugar
3 Tbs. flour
1/2 c. chopped pecans

Mix and sprinkle over potatoes.

Bake uncovered at 350 ° F for 30 minutes.

Shrimp Dip

My in-laws always, ALWAYS, make shrimp dip for Thanksgiving and Christmas. We all gorge ourselves on it while waiting for the Turkey feast to be ready. Then we eat even more with the meal... and after the meal... and you get the idea. It is so good and so addicting. A must in the Rowland household. A tradition I will very gladly be carrying on.

8 oz. cream cheese
1/3 c. cream
2 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. grated onion

Cream together.

6 oz. canned shrimp
Dash Worcestershire sauce
1 carton cottage cheese

Add, stir to combine. Serve with potato chips or crackers.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Shannon's Thanksgiving spread

I hope no one minds me doing this, but I wanted to have a post of just links to my entire Thanksgiving menu so (family that is using the same menu and) I can have it right on hand. I've also added a suggested rough time table as far as preparation goes. Maybe it will be helpful to some of you as well? Anyway, here it is.

My spread includes:

Superman Turkey (Brine this the night before and cook the next day)

Southern-style cornbread stuffing (you can start this the night before - cook the onions and celery, cube the breads, just don't mix them all together yet. The next morning, reheat the cooked veggie mixture and mix with the bread to bake.)

Green bean casserole - I make mine with homemade fried onion strings, although those croutons are the best ever. (This can be assembled the night before, just leave off the topping. The next day, put the topping on and bake.)

Orange-ginger cranberry chutney - I freeze the leftovers in ziplock bags (2/3 c batches) and plop the frozen chutney into a batch of plain muffin batter. Greatest. Muffins. Ever. No exaggeration. (This can be made up to 2 days in advance.)

Mashed potatoes (make these Thanksgiving day)

Turkey pan gravy (make this Thanksgiving day)

Mixed spring greens salad

Whole wheat rolls (can be made the day before if your Thanksgiving day is full, but they are best fresh out of the oven. I put them in and have them baking while I'm putting the very finishing touches on the rest of the meal.)

Butternut squash soup (this can be made the day before if needs be, just heat up and garnish. Or make it Thanksgiving day, but the squash can be roasted up to 2 days ahead of time.)

Spiced candied walnuts - I have these sitting out all day for people to snack on while they're waiting for the real food to be done. (these can be made within a week in advance. Just make sure there's still some left by the time Thanksgiving rolls around.)

Fresh pumpkin pie - I like to top mine with nutmeg whipped cream (heavy cream, add sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg to taste - whip until soft peaks form) (This can be made the day before, but the pumpkin can be roasted well ahead of time. Any remaining pumpkin can be frozen and stored up to 6 months.)

I can't wait for Thanksgiving!!!!

Traditional cranberry sauce

If you are not a fan of the crazy cranberry chutneys like I am, here is a more traditional cranberry sauce / jelly.

2 bags cranberries
2 1/2 c water
2 1/2 c sugar
1t pectin

Bring cranberries and water to a boil and cook for 20 minutes.
Strain pulp as much as possible (as in almost break your wooden spoon, or in my case, literally break your wooden spoon and send bright burgundy sauce flying all over your kitchen)

Put the juice back on the stove and cook for about 3 minutes to let it thicken.
Add the sugar and pectin. Cook for 2 more minutes.

Grease your mold VERY well, and fill with the jelly. Chill and turn out.

Orange-ginger cranberry chutney

This is NOT the same flavor as canned cranberry sauce. A little goes a long way. It's strong and bitter, but I love it. Also, it makes a lot, so you can freeze it and add 2/3 of a cup to plain muffin batter and you'll have the greatest muffins ever.

2 cups water
3 cups sugar
2 whole oranges, peel included, diced, seeded, and finely chopped in a blender
1 2-inch piece ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
4 cups fresh cranberries
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup golden raisins

In a medium pot, combine the water and sugar and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Add the oranges and ginger and reduce the heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes.

Add the cranberries, cinnamon and cloves and simmer, uncovered, for about 15 minutes, until thickened. Add the raisins and cook for about 7 minutes more, until big bubbles appear in the sauce. Cool in a bowl before serving.

Spiced candied walnuts

I originally made these as a garnish for a fall soup I had made once, but they were so good I decided that they deserved to be more than just a garnish, and now I make them every Thanksgiving as an appetizer. I make them the night before and set them out Thanksgiving morning. Everyone grazes on them all day long while they wait for the feast, which I love because it gives them something to curb their appetites, but it's not so heavy that they don't have room for the dinner that I slaved over for two days. Win win.

Peanut or canola oil
4c walnut halves
1c sifted powdered sugar
1/2 t cayenne pepper
1/2 t ground cinnamon
pinch of salt
1/4 t freshly ground pepper

In a large skillet or fryer, heat 1 inch of oil to 350 degrees.

In a small bowl, stir together cayenne, cinnamon, salt, and pepper.

Bring a pot of water to a boil and blanch the walnuts for 30 seconds. Drain and transfer to a bowl. While the nuts are still hot and slightly damp, add powdered sugar and toss until coated, and all the sugar has melted into the nuts. The sugar must all be melted.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the nuts in small batches into the hot oil. Fry until med. brown, about 45 seconds. Do not overcook. Scatter on a large baking sheet to let cool. Continue in small batches until all the nuts are fried.

While the nuts are still warm, transfer them to a bowl and toss with about half the spice mix (sprinkle it evenly over the top, it will clump if you just dump it). Add more spice mix to taste and toss well after each addition.

This will keep in an airtight container for 2 weeks. Wait until cool to store.

Not your grandma's pumpkin pie

I will let everyone in on a secret. I hate pumpkin pie. I mean, I really hate it. I love pumpkin. Really anything pumpkin. And when I say love, I mean to an unhealthy degree. But I think that pumpkin pie is a scourge on the good name of pumpkin goodness. It's too orange and too spiced and too dense and too sweet and too....pumpkin pie.

I do, however, love MY pumpkin pie. There are several differences that make me like mine over any other, and they are: I only use fresh, not canned pumpkin; I use cream cheese instead of evaporated milk or sweetened condensed milk (no it is not a pumpkin cheesecake, although those are delicious); and I beat the crap out of it until it's super fluffy. The end result? A light, fluffy, tasty pie that isn't so sweet or rich that you can only eat a couple bites. I have literally eaten an entire pie by myself. In one sitting. For breakfast. And later discovered that my mother-in-law, her husband, my father-in-law, AND his wife, all did the same thing. :)

Here goes:

1 8oz cream cheese (softened)
2 c pumpkin FRESH roasted pumpkin (if you don't know how to do that, ask and I will write a know who you are)
1 c sugar
1/4 t salt
1 egg + 2 egg yolks, beaten
1c half and half
1/4 c butter
1t vanilla
1/2 t cinnamon
1/4 t ginger
pie dough (2)
(I'm not going to leave a recipe for this. If you want one, ask and I will - you know who you are!)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line your pie crust with foil and fill with weights or beans, and bake for 10 minutes. Remove foil and beans and bake again for another 10 minutes. Cool.

Beat cream cheese. Add fresh pumpkin and beat. Add sugar and salt beat again. Add eggs, half and half, and butter and beat. Add vanilla, cinnamon, and ginger, and beat again. Pour into pie crusts and bake, 50 minutes.

*Depending on my oven and altitude, I have baked this pie anywhere between 50 minutes and an hour and a half. Just take it out when the center is no longer jiggly.*

Whole wheat dinner rolls

I hesitate to post this because it is my father-in-laws recipe that has been passed down through several generations, but after some deliberation, I decided this recipe needed to be shared. I have honestly never had a better roll than this, and it just happens to be whole wheat. They are so soft and slightly gooey - something you don't really find with whole wheat rolls.

3 packages of yeast (if you're using jarred, 1 pkg = 2 1/4 t)
1 c warm (not hot, it will kill the yeast) water
1/8 c sugar
3 c warm milk
4 eggs, slightly beaten
1c sugar
4t salt
2 squares oleo, melted (or 1c other fat, like shortening or butter)
8-10 c flour

Mix yeast, water, and sugar together and let sit for 10 minutes, or until bubbly.
Mix in everything else except flour.
Add 7 c flour and mix well. Mix in as much more flour as needed to make a dough that just barely sticks to your finger. Cover and let rise, about 20 minutes. Punch down, cover and let rise again. repeat 2 more times, until it has risen for 1 hr. Roll out and use a pizza cutter or knife to cut them into square rolls. Dip them in butter in put them in a pan. Let them rise while you preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
Cook for 10-15 minutes, and brush with butter when cooked.

Butternut squash soup

There are a lot of fall soups out there, and a lot of butternut squash variations. I know that many of them are a sweet and sour type, with apples or other fruit. If that's what you like, you may not like this one. I enjoy the more savory soups, so this has leeks and bacon. Just so you know what you're getting before you try to make it.

1 butternut squash
1 onion or leek (whichever you prefer) chopped
1T fresh grated ginger
3T butter
3c broth
1-2 c apple cider
salt and pepper
heavy cream
sour cream
cooked bacon, crumbled

Quarter and bake your squash for 40-45 minutes. Once cool, scoop out the pulp.
Cook onion and ginger in butter in a saucepan over low heat for about 5 minutes. Add broth and simmer for 10 minutes, covered. Remove form heat and add the squash pulp and puree till smooth. Add cider to desired consistency, and salt and pepper to taste. Return to the stove and cook till hot. When ready to serve, add a splash (or 5) of cream. Garnish with a dollop of sour cream and crumbled bacon.

Green Bean Casserole

This is fresh, people. No canned veggies or condensed soup here. And it's the bomb.

3 lbs green beans, strung and snapped
2T unsalted butter
2T fresh thyme
2T fresh chives
2T olive oil
2 pounds mixed mushrooms (I use button, shitake, cremini, and portobello, but you can really use whatever you like)
2 shallots, sliced
1c heavy cream
salt and pepper

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add some salt and the green beans. If you like your green beans crisp, cook them for about 5 minutes, as they will cook more in the oven. If you like them more tender, cook for 8-10 minutes. Drain them and set aside.
Melt the butter and olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and shallots, and season with salt and pepper. Cook until the shallots are tender and the mushrooms have released all their liquid. Pour in the cream, thyme, and chives, and cook for 5 more minutes. Add the green beans and stir well. Season to taste. Pour the mixture into a greased baking dish and top with desired topping (choices listed below). Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until bubbly.


1 loaf crusty Italian bread
1T fresh chives
1T fresh thyme leaves
1T fresh rosemary
2T parmesan cheese
3T olive oil

Cube bread (2" cubes). Put them in a bowl with all the ingredients and mix well. Spread onto a baking sheet and bake at 375 until it turns just golden (about 10 min). If using the croutons, sprinkle a little more parmesan cheese on top of everything before baking.

Fried onion strings:
1 large onion
1 egg plus dash of milk
1c flour
1t garlic powder
1t season salt
1t salt
1/2 t pepper
peanut oil or other frying oil

Mix egg and milk to make a batter coating.
Mix flour, garlic powder, season salt, salt, and pepper in a bowl.
Heat oil to 350 degrees. Thinly slice your onion into rings. In batches, dip in egg mixture and lift out, letting excess egg drip off. Toss in the flour mixture until coated. Shake off excess and fry in hot oil, about 3 minutes, until golden. Place on paper towels to drain and repeat with remaining onions. Use enough to coat the casserole. You don't need to add these until the last 5 or 10 minutes of baking time. Place unused onion strings in an airtight container. Will keep for about 2 weeks. Longer if stored in the fridge.

Or you can just use a can of French's fried onions if you want to cut down on your work.

*I use the homemade onion strings - they're a lot easier than they sound, and they are amazing!!!

Superman Turkey

This is my absolute favorite turkey, hands down. It got the name "superman turkey" because of a cooking method I use to have a perfectly crispy skin but a moist bird, that involves making an aluminum foil "shield" for the turkey to wear. It will make you laugh, just warning you now. Your turkey will look like a little knight or a superhero of some sort. And let's face it, it's way more fun to eat a cute turkey in a costume than it is to eat some plain, boring poultry with no sense of humor.

Moving on.....

First step: you want to brine your turkey. The high amount of salt will allow your turkey to absorb the liquid and flavor, making a juicy flavorful bird.
1 c salt
1/2 c brown sugar
1 gallon vegetable stock
1T whole black peppercorns
1/2 T allspice berries
1/2 T candied ginger
1 gallon iced water

Combine all brine ingredients except ice water in a stockpot and bring to a boil. Stir to dissolve solids, then remove from heat, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate until completely chilled. Early on the day of cooking (or late the night before), combine the brine and the ice water in a clean (do I really need to say that?) 5 gallon bucket. Place the thawed turkey breast side down in the brine. Cover and set in a cool area for 6 hours. Turn turkey over once, halfway through brining.

As I've stated before, I don't stuff my turkey, I use aromatics. Here's my favorite blend:
1 red apple, sliced into wedges
1/2 onion, sliced into wedges
1 cinnamon stick
4 sprigs rosemary
6 leaves sage
1c water

Okay, on to cooking:
A few minutes before roasting, heat your oven to 500 (yes, 500) degrees. Combine the apple, onion, cinnamon stick, and water in a bowl and microwave for 5 minutes. Remove turkey from the brine and rinse inside and out with cold water. Place the turkey on a roasting rack inside a wide low pan, and pat dry with paper towels. Add the steeped aromatics to the cavity, along with rosemary and sage. Tuck the wings back (pull them up and out, then tuck the tips behind the shoulders like he's just lounging. He'll look super cute and relaxed). Coat liberally with canola or other neutral oil (NOT olive oil, as it has a lower temperature tolerance. It will smoke you out of your house. I recommend canola or peanut oil).

Roast your turkey on the lowest level of the oven at 500 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and cover the breast with a double layer of aluminum foil (get a large square and fold it in half into a triangle. Place it on the breast, point down, flat side on the top toward neck. Pinch a section of it to make a handle to make it easier to remove). Insert a probe into the thickest part of the breast and return it to the oven, reducing oven temp to 350. Set the thermometer alarm to 161 (yes, 161) degrees. A 12 pound bird should require 2 - 2 1/2 hours. (15 - 20 min. per pound). Let the turkey rest, loosely covered, for 15 minutes before carving.

*If you want to skip the brine (some people do), I recommend mixing some softened butter and some sage leaves and slipping it between the skin and the meat of the turkey, all over the bird. That way you'll at least get some flavor in there.

Cornbread stuffing

I am from the South, and so most of my culinary creations have some sort of southern flair. This stuffing is a staple for us in my family. It's a true southern stuffing, but is sure to please even the Yankees at the table (I should know, all my in-laws are from Utah!). There are some variations you can use for this recipe, so I'll give the basic recipe, and then list the add ons below.

This recipe is for a 12 pound Turkey, and it makes about 9 c. Or if you're like me and don't stuff the turkey, it will make one 9x13 and one 8x8 casserole dish of stuffing.

1 1/2 c chopped onion
3 c chopped celery
2c butter
9 c SOFT bread cubes (do not dry them like you would for traditional stuffing)
9 c cubed corn bread (this is meant to be made with southern style corn bread - NOT sweet corn "cake" like all y'all yankees like to make! :) So reduce the sugar in your cornbread to 2 T (for a recipe originally calling for 1/4 c) to make this more authentic.)
2t salt
3t crushed sage
2t dried thyme
1 t pepper

Cook and stir onions, celery, and butter till opaque. Mix all ingredients until well coated.

If cooking inside the bird, DO NOT PACK the turkey cavity. Place loosely in the bird and use the remainder in a small casserole dish.

If you are cooking this on the side in a casserole dish, you can either wait until the turkey is completely cooked and then dump the juices into the stuffing before cooking, or you can melt some butter and mix it with some chicken broth and drizzle that on the top of your casserole. Either way, you want enough juices mixed in to your stuffing so as not to let it dry out while baking.

Sausage stuffing:
cook some breakfast sausage, andouille sausage (for a cajun flair), or smoked sausage with the onions and celery. Reduce the bread by 1c and omit salt.

Giblet stuffing:
Reserve the neck, giblets, and liver from your turkey when you are cleaning out your bird. Boil the neck, liver and giblets for several hours until tender. Shred the meat from the neck and finely chop the giblets and liver. Add to your mixture.
This is probably the most authentically southern, but grosses most people out.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Best Pan Gravy

This is assuming you're having a turkey for Thanksgiving. That goes without saying, right?

4c low sodium chicken broth
1 shallot, minced
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 sprig rosemary, minced (approx. 1T)
1 sprig thyme, stemmed and minced (approx. 1t)
1 bay leaf
1t kosher salt
fresh ground pepper
3T flour
3T unsalted butter

After roasting your turkey, reserve pan drippings into a cup and let it set to separate. Skim off 2T fat, and discard the rest, and add the separated juice to the broth.

In a pan, heat the reserved fat. Add the shallot, garlic, rosemary, thyme, and bay leaf. Season w/ salt and pepper. Cook until the shallot is tender (about 3 min.).

Make a paste with the butter and flour in a small bowl and set aside. Add the broth to the pan and scrape up any bits that have formed in the bottom of the pan. Brink this to a boil and whisk in the flour mixture. Boil until the gravy has thickened (it will thicken considerably more as it cools), about 4-5 minutes. Season to taste, if necessary. Remove garlic and bay leaf.

There you have it. Super simple and very tasty. I never stuff my turkey for sanitary purposes, but I always use aromatics in the cavity. The combo I love is apple wedges, onion wedges, and several sprigs of rosemary. It smells heavenly and really flavors the bird nicely. It's a very subtle flavor that goes well with this gravy.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

creamy chicken enchiladas

Enchiladas are not the greatest in my book- but these are. I just made them for the first time and we both loved this recipe. I found the recipe from this blog and the way she raved over them convinced me to try them. They're seriously good.

cooked chicken tenderloins, shredded or cubed
1/4 c butter
1/2 of an onion, chopped
1 can green chiles
8 oz cream cheese
2 c mexican style cheese, divide
1/4 c salsa
flour tortillas
1 can El Pato sauce (found in the mexican aisle, it is an enchilada sauce)
1/2 c heavy whipping cream

In a frying pan saute butter, onion, green chilies.
Mix in cream cheese, 1 cup of cheese and salsa.
Once cheese is melted add Shredded or cubed Chicken

Place about 3 Tb. of the chicken filling in a flour tortilla. Then roll it up like an enchilada and place in a 9x13 pan.

Mix together El Pato Sauce (mild if you don't like it too spicy) and the whipping cream. Then pour the sauce over the enchiladas. Cover with 1 cup of Mexican style cheese and bake at 350 for 20 min covered. Then bake 10 more minutes uncovered. Take it out when it's nice and bubbly!

Monday, November 1, 2010

November Theme

What are your must have's at your Thanksgiving feast or What do you do with the leftovers?

Feel free to post your favorite even if someone has already done a recipe for that kind of food (like below). Its always nice to try new recipes and have a change from our usuals.

These are my favorites after years of searching:

Creamy mashed potatoes,
best green bean casserole I've ever had,
these rolls turn out soft and perfect every time and are made with a bread machine
this is such a moist turkey,
this stuffing is very flavorful
and have you ever tried the cheesecake factory pumpkin cheesecake? I searced for a copy cat and this is it! Sooo good!

I love this pot pie and use the left over turkey to make it.

To get your minds going, think also appetizers, pies, desserts, salads, breakfast, drinks, etc.

Apple Crumb Cake

from woman’s day

Crumb Topping
¾ cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup graham cracker crumbs (or 2 whole graham crackers, ground in a food processor)
1/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
5 Tbsp plus 1 tsp (1/3 cup) stick butter, softened
1 ½ sticks butter, softened
1 ¼ cups packed light-brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 ½ tsp cinnamon
1 tsp each baking powder and baking soda
½ tsp salt
3 large eggs
2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups reduced-fat sour cream, at room temperature
3 large Golden Delicious apples, peeled, halved, cored and very thinly sliced (about 4 cups)
Garnish: confectioners' sugar

Heat oven to 350F. Line a 13 x 9 x 2-in. baking pan with nonstick foil, letting foil extend 2 in. above ends of pan.
Topping: Mix flour, cracker crumbs and sugar in a medium bowl. Add butter and rub in with fingertips until large crumbs form.
Cake: In a large bowl with mixer on low speed, beat butter, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt 3 minutes or until creamy. Beat in eggs 1 at a time until blended. With mixer on low speed, add flour alternately with sour cream, beginning and ending with flour and beating just until smooth.
Spoon 1/2 into prepared pan; spread evenly. Cover with 1/2 the apples, the remaining batter, then remaining apples. Crumble topping over apples.
Bake 45 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack 10 to 15 minutes. Holding foil ends, lift cake from pan to rack to cool. Dust with confectioners' sugar. Cut in squares with a serrated knife and serve warm, or cool before cutting.
Planning Tip: Wrap airtight in pan and store at room temperature up to 3 days, or remove from pan, wrap and freeze up to 2 months.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Maple Pumpkin Cheesecake

1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 (14-ounce) can EAGLE BRAND® Sweetened Condensed Milk
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin (2 cups)
3 large eggs
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
Maple Pecan Glaze (recipe follows)

1. Preheat oven to 325ºF.
2. Combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar and butter; press firmly on bottom of 9-inch springform pan.
3. In large bowl, beat cream cheese until fluffy. Gradually beat in EAGLE BRAND® until smooth. Add pumpkin, eggs, maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt; mix well. Pour into prepared pan.
4. Bake 1 hour and 15 minutes or until center appears nearly set when shaken. Cool 1 hour. Cover and chill at least 4 hours.
5. Top with Maple Pecan Glaze. Store leftovers covered in refrigerator.

Maple Pecan Glaze: In medium-sized saucepan, combine 3/4 cup pure maple syrup and 1 cup (1/2pint) whipping cream; bring to a boil. Boil rapidly 15 to 20 minutes or until thickened; stir occasionally. Add 1/2 cup chopped pecans. Cover and chill until served. Stir before serving.

Recipe from KitchenAid cookbook.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread

3 cups sugar
1 cup cooking oil
4 eggs
3 1/3 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 ½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
2/3 cups water
1 (15oz.) can of pumpkin

Grease the bottom and ½ inch up sides of two 9x5x3-inch or 8x4x2-inch, or four71/2 x 3 ½ x 2-inch loaf pans; set aside. In a very large mixing bowl beat sugar and oil with an electric mixer on medium speed. Add eggs and beat well; set aside.
In a large bowl combine flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Mix well. Beat in pumpkin and water. Spoon batter into prepared pans. ( I usually just dump it in). Bake in a 350 degree oven for 55-65 minutes or until a wooden toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pans and cool completely on wire racks. Wrap and store overnight before slicing for best results. (I have never left it overnight cause it’s so good fresh out of the oven and slightly cooled . )

Pumpkin Chiffon Pie

Gingersnap Crust
1 1/4 c. finely crushed gingersnaps
1/3 c. melted butter

Toss gently to combine. Press onto bottom and side of lightly greased 9" pie plate. Cover and chill about 1 hour or until firm.

Pie Filling
1/2 c. sugar
2 envelopes unflavored gelatin
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground allspice
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
3/4 cup milk
2 egg yolks
1 c. canned pumpkin
1 c. whipping cream
2 Tbs. sugar

1. Prepare Gingersnap Crust; set aside. For filling: In medium saucepan, stir together 1/2 cup sugar, the gelatin, cinnamon, allspice, salt, ginger, and nutmeg. Stir in milk. Cook and stir over medium heat until gelatin dissolves.

2. In medium bowl, slightly beat egg yolks. Slowly stir about half of the hot milk mixture into yolks. Return yolk mixture to saucepan. Stir in pumpkin. Bring to gentle boil; reduce heat. Cook and stir for 2 minutes. Transfer to large bowl. Cover and chill about 30 minutes or until mixture mounds when spooned, stirring occasionally.

3. In chilled medium bowl, beat 1 cup whipping cream and 2 tablespoons sugar with chilled beaters of electric mixer on medium speed until soft peaks form. Fold into pumpkin mixture.

4. Transfer filling to crust. Cover and chill about 4 hours or until set. If desired, garnish with whipped cream and pecans. Makes 8 servings.

Recipe from Better Homes and Gardens.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Pumpkin Dip

This recipe is so good and so easy. A must for any autumn occasion!
Photo from The Little Nest
8 oz. cream cheese
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
12 oz. cool whip

Beat cream cheese until smooth. Mix in pumpkin and spice. Fold in cool whip. Serve with ginger snaps, graham crackers, apple slices, etc.

I like the dip best served with ginger snaps or on top of whole wheat Halloween pancakes! :)

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Chicken Balls

2 (8 oz.) refrigerated cresent rolls dough
1 (8 oz.) cream cheese
1/2 tsp. chives
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp italian seasoning
1-2 chicken breasts cooked and diced
1 box of Stove Top stuffing
1/2 cube melted butter
15 oz. can cream of chicken soup

Combine cream cheese, chicken, chives, pepper, garlic powder, and italian seasoning. Roll 1- 1/2 Tbsp. of chicken mixture in each cresent roll and shape into a ball. Dip each chicken ball in butter then roll in Stove Top stuffing. Place chicken balls on a cookie sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. In the meantime, make cream of chicken soup according to directions on the can. When ready to serve, drizzle soup over chicken balls.
My four year old son LOVED this recipe! It was super fast an easy to make! We served the chicken balls with mahed potatoes and corn!
Makes 16 chicken balls

Friday, September 10, 2010

Peachy Pork Medallions

This isn't really a fun presentation type food, but it really pleased my two-year old this week. She gobbled it up and kept asking for more. That is a rare thing. Plus it is from Parenting magazine, so I think it counts as a kid food, right?! Oh, and it is super fast to make, so that's gotta be a mommy-pleaser!

1 lb pork tenderloin, cut into 8 slices, flattened to 1/4 inch thick
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
8 slices (1/2 inch thick) precooked polenta
2 tsp olive oil
2 2/3 cups sliced peaches
1/4 cup reduced-sodium, fat-free chicken broth
6 Tbs seedless raspberry all-fruit spread
1 Tbs balsamic vinegar
1/4 tsp ground ginger

1. Coat a large skillet with cooking spray and set on medium-high heat. Sprinkle pork with salt and pepper, and sauté 2 minutes on each side; remove from pan and cover with foil to keep warm.

2. Brush polenta slices with oil. Cook in skillet on medium-high heat, 3 to 4 minutes per side or until lightly browned. Remove and set aside. Reduce heat to medium and cook peach slices, stirring frequently, until barely tender.

3. Add broth to peaches and bring to a simmer, stirring regularly. Add preserves, vinegar, and ginger. Stir until preserves melt.

4. Serve pork, drizzled with sauce, with peaches and polenta.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Edible Crayons

I randomly came across this today- good timing! Made from pretzel rods and chocolate... can't go wrong with that combination, right? Click here for the labels. Also click that link for pictures of the process.

*Pretzel Rods
*Candy Melts (or white chocolate bark/chocolate chips with a little of your favorite food coloring added)
*Paper Labels (Print on colored paper of your choice)

-Break or cut pretzel rods in half.
-Melt candy melts or chocoalte chips in microwave on medium heat for 1 minute. Stir and continue cooking at 15 second intervals until melted. Stir well. Add a few drops food coloring if desired.
-Dip ends of pretzels in melted candy.
-Place on wax paper or aluminum foil to dry.
-When dry, wrap with crayon label and secure with tape. We put some in inexpensive pencil boxes for back to school gifts!

Notes: To color melted white chocolate chips or chocolate bark, oil-based candy food coloring is best. If you have regular food coloring, just make sure the chocolate isn't too hot (just warm) when you add it or it might make it clumpy.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Macaroni Grill Bread

1 Tbs. Dry Yeast
1 Tbs. Sugar
1 c. warm water (105 - 115 degrees)
2 1/2 c. white flour
1 t. salt
2 Tbs. fresh rosemary, chopped
1 Tbs. canola oil, peanut oil or olive oil
nonstick cooking spray
2 T. butter

Place yeast, sugar and water in large bowl and allow mixture to become bubbly. Mix in 2 cups of flour and the salt. Add one tablespoon of the fresh chopped rosemary. Knead for about 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Add flour if necessary.

Put dough in an oiled bowl and cover with a towel. Let dough rise in a warm place for one hour until doubled.

Punch down dough and divide in half. Let dough rest about 5 – 10 minutes. Spray baking pan with cooking spray. Shape the dough into 2 small rounded oval loaves. Melt margarine or butter. Brush over the top of the loaves. Sprinkle remaining 1 Tablespoon of rosemary over the loaves and press lightly into the surface. Let loaves rise again until doubled, about 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Lightly sprinkle course salt over the loaves. Bake for 20 - 25 minutes, until lightly browned.

I received this recipe from my dear friend, Tiffany (with whom I've eaten many, many loaves of MG bread), but it is originally from Recipe Circus.

Of course this bread is incredible on its own, but I also like to use it to make Italian-herbed chicken avocado sandwiches. A-mazing!

Instead of making two loaves, make four, as shown below.

Then slice two raw chicken breasts depth wise, to make four flat chicken breasts. A bread knife works well for this. Place them in a deep plate filled with milk.

In another deep plate, make a breading by mixing flour, grated Parmesan (you can use fresh and the Kraft powder stuff--it's best with both, but if I don't have fresh, I'll just use the powder), thyme, rosemary, basil, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, and pretty much any other Italian seasoning you like. Sorry I don't have measurements; I just put a bunch of everything in, but more of what I like best (basil, thyme, and garlic).

Heat a frying pan on low with some olive oil. Dip, and thoroughly coat, chicken breasts with breading mixture. Place in frying pan in heated oil. Cook on both sides, only once each side, for a few minutes until done all the way through.

Place on bread with mayonnaise, lettuce, avocado, and anything else you like on your chicken sandwich. Enjoy!

Outback Steakhouse Alice Springs Chicken

Honey Mustard Marinade
1/2 c. Grey Poupon Dijon Mustard
1/2 c. honey
1 1/2 tsp. vegetable oil
1/2 tsp. lemon juice

Combine ingredients in a bowl. Whip with electric mixer for about 30 seconds.

4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts

Pour about 2/3 of marinade over chicken. Marinate, covered in refrigerator for about 2 hours. Chill the remaining marinade until later.

1 Tbs. vegetable oil
2 c. sliced mushrooms (10 to 12 mushrooms)
2 Tbs. butter
8 slices bacon, cooked
1 c. shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 c. shredded Cheddar cheese
2 tsp. finely chopped fresh parsley

Preheat oven to 375. Heat large frying pan over medium heat. Sear chicken for 3 to 4 minutes per side or until olden brown. Place chicken in baking dish.

Saute sliced mushrooms in butter. Brush seared chicken with reserved honey mustard marinade (save a little extra to serve on the side of the dish). Season chicken with salt, pepper, and paprika. Stack two pieces of bacon, sauteed mushrooms, 1/4 c. Monterey Jack cheese, and 1/4 c. Cheddar cheese on each chicken breast.
Bake for 7 to 10 minutes or until cheese is thoroughly melted and starting to bubble. Sprinkle with parsley before serving. Serve extra honey mustard marinade on the side.

Compliments of A Treasury of Top Secret Recipes.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Cheesecake Factory Key Lime Cheesecake

1 3/4 c. graham cracker crumbs
5 Tbs. butter, melted
1 Tbs. sugar

Preheat oven to 350. Combine ingredients, stir to coat all crumbs with butter. Press crumbs onto the bottom and about half way up the sides of an 8-inch springform pan. Bake for 5 minutes, then set aside.

3 - 8 oz. packages cream cheese, softened
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup fresh lime juice (about 5 limes)
3 eggs
Whipped cream

Combine cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla. Mix until smooth. Add lime juice and eggs; beat until smooth and creamy. Pour filling into pan. Bake 60 to 70 minutes. If the top of the cheesecake is turning light brown, it's done. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

When the cheesecake has come to room temperature, put it in the refrigerator. When the cheesecake has chilled, remove the pan sides and cut. Serve with whipped cream on top.

Compliments of A Treasury of Top Secret Recipes.

Friday, August 27, 2010

California Pizza Kitchen Chicken Club Pizza

My favorite pizza at California Pizza Kitchen* is the Chicken Club. And the Thai Peanut Chicken. And the Jerk Chicken. And the Pear and Gorgonzola. And the Vegetarian with Japanese Eggplant. But for the purpose of this post, it's the Chicken Club, so here we go.

This is not actually a copy-cat recipe. It is one that I made up because I wanted this pizza but didn't want to go get it (see the footnote). So I'm sure it doesn't taste exactly like it, but it's yummy. So let's all pretend we can't tell the difference, shall we?

Your favorite pizza crust (I like this pizza with whole wheat)
garlic butter
ranch powder
1 chicken breast
2 roma tomatoes
6 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled
mozzerella cheese
1 head romaine lettuce
1/4 c mayo
1/4 c sour cream
2 avocados

Rub chicken breast with oil and ranch seasoning. Bake in 375 degree oven until cooked through. Dice into bite sized pieces.

Roll out pizza crust or pat into pizza pan. Precook dough according to recipe instructions. Remove from oven and slather generously with garlic butter. Top with sliced tomato, diced chicken, and crumbled bacon. Top with slices of mozzerella cheese until the entire pizza is covered. Bake in 350 degree oven for 10 - 12 minutes, or until cheese is golden.

Yes, in this picture I used cherry tomatoes. They are also good on this pizza.

Meanwhile, cut lettuce into strips and mix with mayo, sr cream, and salt and pepper to taste.

Place on top of cooked pizza. Top the entire concoction with fresh avocado slices. Season with kosher salt and cracked black pepper. Done and done.

*It should be noted that I absolutely HATE, with a capitol H-A-T-E, California Pizza Kitchen. I have stepped foot into one of their establishments once in my life and I will never ever go back. It was so pretentious. And I hate that. And I also hate that frequenters of the restaurant refer to it as CPK. I don't know why, but that just really really bugs me. Like all you need is a blue tooth and some CPK to be the world's biggest D-Bag. But, I love their pizza. Sue me.

Chili's Southwestern Eggrolls

My in-laws request this at every superbowl / fantasy football draft / New Year's Eve / in any way sports oriented party. And they are right to do it. Because they are delicious. And super easy. I usually triple the batch to take it to parties. And there are never any leftovers. If you've ever eaten them, you know why.

1 chicken breast
1 T oil
2 T minced red bell pepper
2 T minced green onion
1/3 c frozen corn
1/4 c canned black beans, rinsed and drained
2 T frozen spinach, thawed and drained
2 T diced canned jalapenos
1/2 T minced fresh parsley
1/2 t cumin
1/2 t chili powder
1/4 t salt
dash cayenne
3/4 c shredded monterrey jack cheese
5 - 7" tortillas

Grill your chicken; let cool. Over medium high heat, saute red pepper and onion till tender; add diced cooked chicken; add corn, black beans, spinach, jalapeno, parsley, cumin, chili powder, salt, and cayenne. Cook for 4 minutes, stirring well to separate and incorporate spinach. Remove pan from heat and add cheese; stir to melt.

Wrap tortillas in a moist cloth and microwave 1 minute or until hot and pliable. Spoon 1/5 of the mixture into the center of each tortilla. Fold in the ends and roll the tortilla tightly - hold with a toothpick. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze at least 4 hours.

Heat oil to 375 degrees and fry for 12-15 minutes each. Drain and cut on the bias.
Serve with avocado dill dip.

Avocado Dill Dip:

1/4 c smashed fresh avocado (about 1/2 an avocado)
1/4 c mayo
1/4 c sour cream
1 T buttermilk
1 1/2 t white vinegar
1/8 t salt
1/8 t dried parsley
1/8 t onion powder
1/8 t dried dill weed
dash garlic powder
dash pepper

Mix and chill for an hour or more to blend flavors.

Cafe Rio Dressing

I saw that a few weeks ago someone posted their recipe for the Cafe Rio Sweet Barbacoa Pork (greatest stuff ever), so I figured I'd add their dressing to the mix.

1 packet hidden valley ranch mix
1 c mayo
1/2 c milk
2 tomatillos
1/2 bunch cilantro
2 cloves garlic
juice of 1 lime
1 jalapeno (ribbed and seeded, unless you want it extra spicy)
hot sauce
Use a food processor and blend all the ingredients but hot sauce. Add hot sauce at the end to taste.

In a pinch? Here's another version that cuts your work down for you:

Omit tomatillos and jalapeno, and cut cilantro down to 1/2 c. Add 1/4 c green salsa in its place.

Hidden Valley Ranch

Now I know this is not a restaurant copy cat, but it is a copy cat of sorts, so I'm posting it.

Ever wanted some ranch dressing only to find that you were out of the packets of powder? It's the worst! As a ranch eating family, we run in to this problem a lot. I hate premade ranch (gag), but I never seem to have enough powder in my pantry for more. I constantly underestimate how much of it we actually eat.

After much experimentation, I think I have finally found a way to make it at home with spices you have in your cabinet. Amazing, right? I know. You're welcome.

2 saltine crackers
1/4 c dried parsley flakes
2T minced onion (dried)
1 1/3 t dill weed
1 T onion salt
1 T onion powder
1 T garlic salt
1 T garlic powder
black pepper to taste (I like a lot)

Mix it all up in a food processor and store in an airtight container.

Mix 1 1/8 t with 1 c buttermilk.

*This will not work in use of recipes that use just the powder, as there are no buttermilk solids that give ranch its distinct flavor. It only tastes right when it's mixed with the buttermilk. But it makes a great dressing!

Winger's Sauce

I could drink this stuff. When I was pregnant with baby #2, this is all I wanted morning, noon, and night. If you've never eaten at wingers, get to one QUICK! Or make this yourself.

2 1/2 c firmly packed brown sugar
3 T light corn syrup
1/3 c Frank's red hot
1 T apple cider vinegar
1/2 c hot water

Place brown sugar and corn syrup in a medium saucepan and melt over medium heat until boiling. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring constantly - it will burn, and quickly! Add hot water, pepper sauce, and vinegar. Stir all ingredients well and continue cooking at a low boil, stirring often until reduced to a syrupy consistency (about 15 minutes).

The sauce will thicken considerably as it cools.

Okay, I hestitate in posting this part, but if you don't have all this stuff in your pantry or you just don't have the time to do the full recipe above, you can get by with the following. But I warn you, it is not the same! Nor does it have anywhere near the right consistency. But, it is a good quick susbtitute if you're in a pinch:

1 c brown sugar
1 c frank's red hot

Mix, bring it to a boil, and let it cool.

Easy peasy, but not as good as the first.

Wingers uses this on all their wings (fry wings and toss them in the sauce directly out of the fryer). But it's also great on top of burgers, or as a dipping sauce for, well, really anything. Especially cheese quesadillas. And especially especially if you mix it with ranch dip. Yum.

Panda Express Orange Chicken

This recipe isn't totally exact, sorry. But it's still really good. So give it a try!

2 lbs chicken, chopped into bite sized pieces
1 egg
1 1/2 t salt
white pepper
oil (for frying) - I like peanut oil for this
1/2 c cornstarch, plus
1 T cornstarch
1/4 c flour
1 T gingerroot, minced
1 t garlic, minced
1/2 t crushed red pepper
1/4 c green onion, chopped
1 T rice wine
1/4 c water
1/2 t sesame oil

1 1/2 T soy sauce
1 1/2 T water
5 T sugar
5 T white vinegar
1 orange, zest of and 1/4 juice from
mix all ingredients and set aside

Place chicken pieces in a large bowl. Stir in egg, salt, pepper and 1T oil, and mix well.
Stir 1/2 c cornstarch and flour together. Add chicken pieces, stirring to coat.
Heat oil for frying in a wok or deep fryer (to 375). Add chicken (in small batches) and fry until golden (about 3-4 minutes).
Remove chicken from oil and drain on paper towels.

Clean your wok and heat 15 seconds over high heat. And 1T oil. Add ginger and garlic and stir fry until fragrant (10 seconds). Add crushed pepper and green onions. Add rice wine and stir for 3 seconds. Add orange sauce and bring to a boil. Add cooked chicken and stir to coat. Stir water into remaining 1T cornstarch until smooth and add to chicken. Heat until sauce is thickened. Stir in sesame oil, and more zest / juice if desired.

Serves 4 - 6

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Denny's Moons Over My Hammy

from Top Secret Restaurant Recipes

The Egg McMuffin type breakfast sandwhich (minus the english muffin), we love these and often make them for dinner. So good & quick.
The recipe is here, but its pretty easy to just make them based on desired amounts of egg, cheese, etc.

Butter, softened
2 eggs beaten
2 oz deli sliced ham
2 slices sourdough bread
1-2 slices Swiss cheese
1-2 slices American cheese

Melt some butter in a skillet, scramble eggs. Salt to taste.

In a separate skillet, brown the ham stacked, without separating the slices. When browned a bit on both sides, remove from pan.

Butter one side of each slice of bread and place 1 slice in pan, buttered side down. Immediately stack Swiss, then heated ham, eggs, American cheese, then bread, buttered side up. Grill both sides until golden.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Sweet Pork Burrito's (like Cafe Rio or Costa Vida) and Dressing

I didn't think the meat tasted exactly like the stuff you get from the restaurant but they were still pretty good and the people I served them to like them a lot. The dressing I thought was closer.  It makes a ton though so you might want to half it.

Meat mix:

6lb Pork Roast: Put in Crock Pot and cover halfway up with water and cook for at least 6 hours. Discard Water. Shred.

In separate bowl mix a 12oz can of salsa, 1 can Coke, and 2 cups brown sugar. Pour over meat. Cook an additional 3 hours.


In a blender combine:
1 Buttermilk Ranch Mix packet.
2 cups mayo
2 cups buttermilk (or 1 cup sour cream and 1 cup milk)
2 tomatillos
1 jalapeno, seeded
1/2 - 1 bunch cilantro
1 Tbs lime juice
1 clove garlic, crushed

Homemade Flour Tortilla's
I got this recipe out of the Worldwide Ward cookbook.  It is super easy and very good.

8 C. Flour
4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 C. oil
3 C boiling water

Stir together flour, salt and baking powder.  Mix in oil; there will be small lumps of oil in the dough.  Stir in boiling water (boiling water makes the dough a lot easier to roll out when it is finished).  The dough should be soft and pliable, but not sticky or stiff; you may have to add a little more flour or water to get the right consistency.  when the dough cools down, finish mixing it with your hands.  Some oil lumps will remain; don't over mix the dough trying to get rid of them.  Using a piece of dough about the size of a small apple, roll the dough out on a floured surface with a floured rolling pin.  Roll in one direction first, then pick up the dough, flip it over and around, and roll in the other direction.  Do that a couple of times.  Don't worry if the tortilla is not perfectly round.  Bake the tortilla over medium-low heat on a DRY pan-do not use oil.  When the tortilla bubbles up, flip it over and bake the other side for a few seconds.  Makes 15 tortillas.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

CPK Thai Chicken Pizza

California Pizza Kitchen
Thai Chicken Pizza

1/3 cup plus 1 Tbs. warm water
3/4 tsp. yeast
1 tsp. sugar
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 Tbs. olive oil

In a small bowl dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water. Let it sit for 5 minutes until the surface of the mixture turns foamy. Sift the flour and salt together into a medium bowl. Made a depression in the flour and pour in the olive oil and yeast mixture. Use a fork to stir the liquid, gradually drawing in more flour as you stir, until all the ingredients are combined. When you can no longer stir with a fork, use your hands to form the dough into a ball. Knead dough until smooth (about 10 minutes). Form the dough into a ball, coat it with oil, and place in clean bowl covered with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise for about 2 hours. Punch dough down, recover it, and place it in the fridge overnight. Take the dough out of the fridge 1 to 2 hours before building the pizza to allow it to warm to room temperature.

Peanut Sauce
1/4 cup cream peanut butter
2 Tbs. teriyaki sauce
2 Tbs. hoisin
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1 Tbs. sugar
1 Tbs. brown sugar
2 Tbs. water
2 tsp. sesame oil
1 tsp. soy sauce
1 1/2 tsp. minced onion
1 tsp. minced gingerroot

Blend ingredients in a food processor for about 15 seconds. Pour into a small pan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Cook for 1 minute.

1 chicken breast
1 1/2 tsp. olive oil
1 1/4 cups grated mozzarella
1 to 2 green onions
1/2 cup bean sprouts
1/4 cup julienned carrot
2 tsp. minced cilantro
1 Tbs. chopped peanuts

Slice chicken into bit-size chunks. Pour 1/3 of peanut sauce over chicken. Marinate for at least 2 hours. Heat 1 tsp. oil in small pan over medium/high heat. Cook marinated chicken for 3 to 4 minutes.

Preheat oven to 475*F. Roll out pizza crust and place on pizza pan. Spread remaining pizza sauce over crust. Sprinkle 1 cup mozzarella over sauce. Julienne green onions into 2-inch match stick strips. Spread onions over cheese. Arrange chicken on the pizza, then sprouts and carrots. Sprinkle remaining mozzarella on the center of the pizza and top with cilantro and nuts. Bake 10 to 12 minutes.

Compliments of A Treasury of Top Secret Recipes.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

August is here!

I went through and cleared out the blog authors, so if I deleted your name and I shouldn't have, just email or leave a comment and I can go back and add you. I didn't recognize some of the names. Miriam, I don't know if you were ever added (I may not have recognized the name, you can send me an email so I can add you).

Theme for August- restaurant recipes made at home...
everyone seems to have some sort of copy cat recipe. If you have one you swear by, let's see it.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Cheesy French Bread

You will need two dutch ovens for this recipe or just half it if you only have one dutch oven.

1 Tbsp. Yeast in 1 + 1/2 cup warm water
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 + 1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. oil
2 cups grated cheese
4 cups flour
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. onion salt
1 egg white
Poppy seeds or sesame seeds are optional

Mix sugar, salt, oil, and yeast mixture in a large bowl. Add flour and mix well. Punch dough down 5 times at 10 minute intervals. Turn onto floured board and divide in half. Shape each into a rectangle then place in a dutch oven. Sprinkle with garlic, onion, and the cheese. Roll firmly into a roll long ways. Slash top. Place in dutch oven and let rise until double in size. Brush top with egg white and sprinkle with poppy seeds or sesame seeds if desired. I prefer it without the seeds (Just FYI). Bake at 400 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until bread sounds hollow when tapped.

7-up Chicken

This dutch oven recipe can be used in your oven. You could also cook it outside and use hot coals like the traditional dutch oven way to cook.

1 lb. bacon, diced
8 potatoes, quartered
1 lb. bag of baby carrots
1/2 cup flour
8 chicken breasts
2 large onions, sliced
20 ounces of 7-up or Sprite
8 slices of processed American cheese or whatever cheese you like
Season All seasoning or use whatever seasons you like

Fry bacon in 12" dutch oven until crisp. Dredge chicken in flour and Season All. Brown chicken in bacon grease. When both sides of chicken are browned, add potatoes, carrots, and onions. Sprinkle Season All liberally over veggies. Add crumbled bacon on top and pour in 7-up or sprite. Cook at 350 degrees in oven or continue to cook on hot coals until veggies are tender and chicken is done. Bring chicken pieces to top and cover with a slice of processed cheese. Place lid back on crock pot just long enough for the cheese to melt.