Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A Classic: Peanut Butter Tassies

This is what happens when you're craving something sweet.......

1/2 c. butter, softened
1/2 c. creamy peanut butter
1/2 c. granulated white sugar
1/2 c. light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/4 c. flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 (14 oz.) bag miniature peanut butter cups

Cream butter and peanut butter; add sugars gradually, beating until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla, beating well. Combine flour, baking soda and salt; add to creamed mixture, mixing well. Chill at least 1 hour.

Shape dough into 1 inch balls. Place in lightly greased tassie pans, shaping each ball into a shell. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes, dough will rise during baking. Remove from oven and immediately press a peanut butter cup evenly into each hot crust. Cool completely before removing from pan. Makes 24 tassies. Can be frozen.

Turkey and Wild Rice Soup

Melissa gave me a recipe for this soup and it sounded so good. Although, I wanted to make it a bit lighter, so I decided to make this broth-based instead of cream-based. This is a good use for leftover turkey! The soup was so yummy! Lots of hearty veggies paired nicely with the wild rice.

2 cups of leftover turkey, shredded
6 cups of chicken broth
1 cup of water
3 carrots, chopped
1 parsnip, chopped
1 1/2 cups of uncooked long grain and wild rice
1 1/2 cups of assorted mushrooms (I just grabbed the package of mixed mushrooms)
1 stalk of celery, chopped
1 onion, diced
2 tablespoons of olive oil
3 tablespoons of sherry
bay leaf

In a soup pot, sautee the onion, carrot, parsnip, and celery in the oil for 10 minutes. Deglaze with the sherry wine. Add the chicken broth, water, bay leaf, and rice. Simmer for 15 minutes or until rice is tender. Add the mushrooms and simmer until tender, approximately 5 minutes. Add in the turkey to warm. Season with salt/pepper and serve.

Red Chile-Cheese Enchiladas

When I saw this in the December issue of Cooking Light, I had to make it! I added shredded chicken to mine, just because it seemed kinda boring without it. I topped it with lettuce, tomato, and sour I always do with enchiladas. I think next time I'll also add in the Fiesta Rice too! Of course, my photos aren't nearly as pretty and neat as in the magazine!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Aunt Jennie's Apple Pie

No one made apple pie like my great aunt, Jennie. Most of the time she'd skip making small pies and make trays and trays of apple squares...which was basically apple pie but made on baking sheets and cut into squares. She made pies up until she got very sick and was well into her 80's.

Luckily, her recipe was written down, although, I don't think anyone can amke pies like she could! I used her recipe and was very pleased with the result. The crust was flaky and the apples were tender and sweet with a hint of tartness.

2 1/2 Cups of flour, sifted

3/4 cup of shortening
5 tablespoons of cold water
1 teaspoon of salt

Sift the flour and salt together into a large bowl. With 2 forks, cut in half of the shortening until the shortening is incorporated into the flour and the mixture is "mealy".

Cut in the remaining shortening until the shortening is incorporated and forms small "beans".

Sprinkle the water onto the mixture, one tablespoon at a time. Incorporating the water thouroughly before adding the next tablespoon.

Form the dough into a ball, making sure not to over-handle the dough.

Roll out onto a well-floured surface.

8-10 apples (I used a mixture of rome, jonagold, golden delicicous, mcintosh, and fuji)
*The apples must be peeled, cored, and sliced very thin.*
The juice of 1 lemon
2/3 cup of sugar
2 tablespoons of cinnamon

Toss all of the ingredients in a bowl.

Assembling the pie:
Line the bottom of a pie plate with the rolled-out dough.
Fill the crust-lined pie plate with the apple mixture.
Dot with 2-3 teaspoons of butter.
Top with remaining pie crust.

Bake approximately 45 minutes at 350 degrees or until golden brown and filling is bubbly.

Marbled Pumpkin Chocolate Cheesecake

This recipe was given to me by a Nestie on the What's Cooking Board on the Nest....Pinks101604. I really liked the combination, but my family wasn't as keen on it as I was. Apparently, no one else in my family likes dark chocolate!
4 tbsp unsalted butter
2 oz bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
¼ cup sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
¼ cup all purpose flour
½ tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
¼ cup finely chopped walnuts (optional)

4 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 ½ lbs cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
4 large eggs, at room temp.
1 ½ tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 cups canned pumpkin puree (1 lb)
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of ground cloves

Make the crust: Preheat oven to 325. Lightly butter 9 inch springform pan. In a medium saucepan, melt butter with the chopped chocolate over low heat, stirring constantly. Remove the melted chocolate mixture from the heat and let it cool slightly, then stir in the sugar and the lightly beaten egg until blended.

In a small bowl, whisk the flour with the baking powder and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the melted chocolate mixture. Stir the chopped walnuts into the brownie batter. Spread the batter in the prepared springform pan and smooth the surface with a spatula. Bake for 10 minutes, or until risen and dry to the touch. Let it cool completely. Wrap the outside of the pan in a large sheet of foil. Leave the oven on.

Make the cheesecake: In a medium glass bowl, melt the chopped chocolate in a microwave oven on high for 1 minute, stirring halfway through. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well between additions. Beat in the cornstarch and vanilla. Add 1 cup of the cheesecake batter to the melted chocolate and stir until well blended. Beat the pumpkin puree and the cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves into the remaining cheesecake batter.
Pour three-fourths of the pumpkin cheesecake batter over the brownie crust. Pour the chocolate batter on top of the pumpkin cheesecake batter. If the chocolate batter is too thick to pour easily, heat it in the microwave on high for 10 seconds. Spoon the remaining pumpkin cheesecake batter on top of the chocolate batter. Use a table knife to make a few decorative swirls: Do not over swirl.

Set the springform pan in a medium roasting pan. Add enough hot water to the roasting pan to reach halfway up the side of the springform pan. Bake the pumpkin cheesecake in the hot water bath in the center of the oven for 1 ½ hours or until it is firm around the edges but slightly jiggly in the center. Turn the oven off, prop the door several inches open and let the cheesecake stand in the water bath in the warm oven for 1 hour or until it is completely set.
Remove the marbled pumpkin cheesecake from the water bath and refrigerate it until thoroughly chilled, at least 4 hours or over night.
Remove the foil and springform ring from the cheesecake. Carefully transfer the cheesecake to a platter, cut into wedges and serve.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Chicken Tortilla Soup

My friend Jill gave me this recipe several years ago. It's become a staple menu item in our house. Her recipe calls for carrot and zucchini, but Josh doesn't like them in the soup, so I've substituted them.

4 cups of chicken broth
1 cup salsa (I use homemade)
3 chicken breasts, cubed
1 green pepper, diced
1 red pepper, diced
1 can of black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can of Niblets corn, drained
1 clove of garlic, minced
2 teaspoons of orgegano
1 teaspoon cumin

tortilla chips
cheddar cheese
sour cream

Place the chicken broth and spices in a soup pot and bring to a simmer.
Add the chicken and cook until no longer pink.
Add the salsa and diced peppers and simmer until peppers are tender.
Add the corn and black beans to warm.
Serve over crushed tortilla chips and shredded cheddar cheese. Top with sour cream.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Cheesy Potatoes Au Gratin

I wasn't happy with any of the recipes I found online, so I made up my own! I would like to try this with different cheeses like asiago, but this is what I had on hand.

6 Yukon gold potatoes, sliced thin
1/2 cup of cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 cup of Velveeta Light, shredded
1/2 cup of fat free sour cream
1 cup of milk
1 small onion, diced
2 tablespoons of butter
1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon of flour

Melt the butter in a skillet. Saute the onion until transparent. Whisk in the flour. Stir constantly until the roux is a light golden brown.

Whisk in the Dijon mustard, sour cream, and milk.

Add the cheeses and melt almost completely. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the potatoes and stir gently.

Transfer to a baking dish and bake for approximately 35-40 minutes at 325.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Zuppa Toscana, My Version this is my version of what you can get at the Olive Garden. I've lowered the calories and fat by using turkey sausage and skim milk and the end result is practically the same!

1 pound of turkey sausage
1 large can of chicken broth
4-5 yukon gold potatoes (sliced thin)
1 small onion, diced
1 clove of garlic, diced
1 cup of skim milk
1 cup of chopped kale

Crumble sausage and brown in a skillet.

Place the chicken broth, potatoes, onion, and garlic in a soup pot and simmer for approximately 25-30 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. Add the sausage and simmer 10 minutes more.
Add the kale and milk and simmer until kale is tender. Season with salt and pepper.

Beef Noodle Soup

This recipe has been in the family for quite some time. I remember having it as a child and it is still one of my favorite soups.

1 2-3 pound beef roast
1 head of cabbage
1 quart of tomato juice (I use homemade)
6 yukon gold potatoes (peeled and quartered)
1 pound of carrots (peeled and cut into thirds)
2 stalks of celery
1 onion (peeled and cut in half)
a small bunch of parsley

Fill a large stock pot about 2/3 of the way up with water. Place the cabbage, beef roast, tomato juice, celery, onion and parsley in the pot. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer for 4-6 hours (keep the lid on the pot).

After the stock has cooked, strain it through a sieve, reserving the meat. Place the meat back into the stock. Add the carrots and potatoes. Simmer for 20-30 minutes or until carrots are tender.

Serve with extra fine egg noodles.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Pumpkin Rolls - A Family Tradition

Each year, my mom and my aunt make pumpkin rolls. Some are given out as gifts and some are kept for the family for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I think everyone who tries these asks for the recipe, so here it is!

3 eggs
2/3 Cup of canned pumpkin
1 Cup of granulated sugar
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 tesaspoon of cinnamon
3/4 Cup of flour
1/4 Cup of chopped nuts (we use walnuts)

In a bowl, mix the wet ingredients and then mix in all of the dry ingredients.

Pour the batter into a wax paper-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with chopped nuts.

Bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes.

Turn the cake onto a tea towel sprinkled with powdered sugar and gently peel off the wax paper. Gently roll the cake and tea towel ~ roll longways. Place roll in freezer and allow to cool.

Once the cake is cool, remove it from the towel and place onto a sheet of aluminum foil. Gently unroll and spread filling inside.
Filling Recipe:
1 8oz. Package of Philadelphia Cream Cheese
1 Cup of Powdered Sugar
2 Tablespoons of Butter
1 Tablespoon of Vanilla Extract

Mix well with an electric mixer. Filling should be smooth and creamy.

Once the filling is spread onto the cake, roll the cake back up and wrap in the aluminum foil.

Can be frozen for several months.

Bowls of pumpkin cake batter

Bowls of Cream Cheese Filling

Spreading the cake batter in the pan

Spreading the filling on the cake roll

Rolling up the pumpkin roll

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Make Your Own: Sweetened Condensed Milk

I wanted to make the Hello Dolly bars in my blog and realized I had no sweetened condensed milk. So, I figured I'd make my own!

2 Cups Skim Milk
1 1/4 Cups of sugar
1/2 teaspoon of Vanilla
Place the milk in a saucepot and reduce by 2/3. The milk will be slightly thicker and have a light tan appearance. Add the sugar and simmer until the mixture is thick and coats the back of a spoon. About 20 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.

This was way better than any canned sweetened condensed milk! It was almost like dulce de leche...just not as caramelized and thick.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Homemade Spaghetti & Meatballs

I learned how to make spaghetti sauce from my mommy when I was very young. At the time, I was so naive that I thought the onion she put in the sauce was an egg! Like any good spaghetti sauce recipe, this one also evolved over time.

1 can crushed tomatoes (I like San Marzano)
1 can diced tomatoes (San Marzano)
1 can tomato paste
1 quart of tomato juice
1 small onion (peeled but left whole)
2 bay leaves
5-6 fresh basil leaves (chopped)
oregano (fresh is good, but if you have dried that’s fine – I put it in to taste, so no measurement here)
¼ cup sugar
olive oil ( about a tablespoon or 2)

Place all the ingredients into a crock pot and allow to simmer on low for 6-8 hours. I like to put mine on the lowest setting and let it cook while I’m at work. If you don’t have a crock pot, you can do this on the stovetop, but just simmer for about an hour, stirring frequently.

My meatballs are also a basic, family recipe.

1 pound of lean ground beef
1 egg
1/2 cup of Italian Seasoned bread crumbs
2 tablespoons of chopped parsley
Mix all ingredients by hand in a large bowl. Form into 1.5" balls. I usually just drop these in the sauce and let them cook - flavoring the sauce and being flavored by the sauce!

Greek Lamb Kabobs

I saw this marinade recipe in the May 2007 issue of Cooking Light. We thought it looked so good, but was a bit apprehensive because they served it on lamb. We've never had lamb before, other than in a gyro, so it was definitely an experiment.

I used lamb chops and cubed the meat, removing all fat and bone. Then I marinated the cubes in this recipe:

1/4 cup fresh oregano leaves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
4 garlic cloves, minced

I let the lamb sit in the marinade for at least an hour. Then skewer the meat and grill. This turned out so yummy and was almost like eating filet mignon!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Tha Ill-Dookie (Josh's Hot Wings)

My husband claims he can't cook, but yet he's made a few amazing things. For my 30th, he made filet mingon, garlic mashed potatoes, and even baked me a cake. He's also the grill-master of the house and can grill a steak to perfection.

These wings were no exception. This was a bit of an experimental recipe. He had tried these wings in Baltimore and had to figure out how to make these at home. I'm usually not a fan of hot wings...I don't care for the taste of hot sauce...but I found myself eating way more of these than expected! I told Josh...these are blog-worthy and he had to come up with a name. He said they were the "ill-dookie" and laughed. He didn't give me any other choice at that point, so these are Josh's Ill-Dookie Hot Wings.

Here's the rundown of ingredients - no real measurements were made and it was done according to taste:
Frank's Hot Sauce (the base of the sauce) - approximately 1 cup
Butter - approximately 3-4 tablespoons
Garlic Salt - a few shakes
Old Bay Seasoning (the secret ingredient that changes everything you know about wings!) - approximately 1 tablespoon (give or take)
Parmesan Cheese - approximately 2 tablespoons in the sauce and extra for sprinkling.

In a saucepot, heat up the Frank's Hot Sauce.
Add the butter and let it melt.
Add the spices and cheese.

*The Lions Head bottle that you see in the background is a pilsner beer from a microbrewery in Wilkes Barre, PA. This stuff is really good and only about $11 a case! You have to have beer and wings!

Veggie Pizza

I love this stuff! It's really the only way you'd get me to eat raw cauliflower and raw broccoli! I made it as a side dish to our dinner last night. Josh made hot wings so this was like the veggies and ranch dip you get as a side.
2 (8 ounce) packages refrigerated crescent rolls
2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup Light Miracle Whip
1 (1 ounce) package dry Ranch-style dressing mix
1 cup fresh broccoli, chopped
1 cup chopped cauliflower
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
Roll out the crescent roll dough onto a 9x13 inch baking sheet, and pinch together edges to form the pizza crust.

Bake crust for 12 minutes in the preheated oven. Once finished cooking, remove crust from oven and let cool 15 minutes without removing it from the baking sheet.

In a small mixing bowl, combine cream cheese, mayonnaise, and dry Ranch dressing. Spread the mixture over the cooled crust. Arrange broccoli, tomato, green bell pepper, cauliflower, shredded carrots, and Cheddar cheese over the cream cheese layer. Chill for one hour, slice and serve.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Chicken Enchiladas with Poblano Cream Sauce

Back in graduate school, a girl I used to know made this for us for dinner a couple of times. The sauce was her mom's recipe and she was never able to give me a copy. It was one of my favorite mexican dishes and I've been craving it for about 8 years now! I found this and thought it was very close to what I had in grad school. Maybe after a few practice rounds, I can get it just right!

* 3-4 poblano chiles, seeded and chopped
*1 clove of garlic
* 1/2 cup milk
* 4 tablespoons butter
* 1 tablespoon flour
* 1 cup Mexican crema or heavy cream
* salt to taste
* 2 whole chicken breasts, cut in half
* 1 cup grated manchego, jack or gouda cheese

Puree the chiles and garlic in a blender with the milk until smooth.

In a medium saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter, add the flour and brown lightly.

Add the chile puree, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon or a wire whisk until smooth. Lower the heat, add the cream, and stir constantly until the sauce begins to bubble. Remove from heat and add salt to taste. This sauce may be made one day ahead and refrigerated.

Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet and saute chicken breast halves for 4 minutes on each side. Place them in a buttered baking dish, pour the poblano cream sauce over all bake, uncovered, in a preheated oven at 350º for 20 minutes.
Shred the chicken with two forks.

I served this rolled up inside a lightly fried tortilla with the cheese and topped with homemade guacamole and sour cream.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Chili....that's quick but tastes like it simmered all day!

Over the years, I have tinkered around with how I make chili. I think I've finally gotten it to a point that I'm happy with. The addition of the lager really gives it depth. Plus adding extras in like corn and topping with sharp cheddar gives it many layers of flavor and texture. I just got really tired of beans and meat only!

1 pound of lean ground beef
1 small onion, diced
1 can of dark red kidney beans (sometimes I substitue 1 can of black beans here)
1 can of light red kidney beans
1 small can of Niblets corn
1/2 bottle of lager (I used Lion's Head)
1 quart of tomato juice
1 can of Progresso hearty tomato soup
1 teaspoon cumin
2 teaspoons oregano
1 clove of garlic, diced
2 tablespoons of olive oil
cheddar cheese (optional)

In a dutch oven, sautee the onions and garlic in the olive oil until the onions are transparent. Add the ground beef, season with salt and pepper, and let brown.

Add the tomato juice, tomato soup, oregano, and cumin and allow to simmer for about 15 minutes. Add the beer and simmer 15-20 minutes more. Chili should be somewhat thick.

Add the beans and corn and let warm. I've also added black beans to this at times.

Top with shredded cheddar cheese.