Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Chicken Noodle Soup (or Dumpling, if you like)

Here is my chicken soup recipe, a truly nourishing meal for keeping your health up. As before, read this broth information if you are interested. The stock recipe immediately below is from that link.

When I make soup, I start in the morning with the chicken stock and then by 5pm or so, the chicken is cooked, the broth is dark golden, and I am ready to assemble a soup. The soup recipe follows the stock recipe. As soon as you do it once, it is much easier to remember and make.

Chicken Stock:

1 whole free-range chicken or 2 to 3 pounds of bony chicken parts, such as necks, backs, breastbones and wings*
gizzards from one chicken (optional)
2-4 chicken feet (optional) I cannot find these anywhere, so I omit
4 quarts cold filtered water
2 tablespoons vinegar I use raw apple cider vinegar
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
3 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
1 bunch parsley

*Note: Farm-raised, free-range chickens give the best results. Many battery-raised chickens will not produce stock that gels.

If you are using a whole chicken, cut off the wings and remove the neck, fat glands and the gizzards from the cavity. Cut chicken parts into several pieces. (If you are using a whole chicken, remove the neck and wings and cut them into several pieces.) Place chicken or chicken pieces in a large stainless steel pot with water, vinegar and all vegetables except parsley. Let stand 30 minutes to 1 hour. Bring to a boil, and remove scum that rises to the top. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 6 to 8 hours. The longer you cook the stock, the richer and more flavorful it will be. About 10 minutes before finishing the stock, add parsley. This will impart additional mineral ions to the broth.

Remove whole chicken or pieces with a slotted spoon. If you are using a whole chicken, let cool and remove chicken meat from the carcass. Reserve for other uses, such as chicken salads, enchiladas, sandwiches or curries. Strain the stock into a large bowl and reserve in your refrigerator until the fat rises to the top and congeals. Skim off this fat and reserve the stock in covered containers in your refrigerator or freezer.

Chicken Noodle Soup:

chicken meat from 1/2 whole chicken, reserved from making chicken stock, shredded
reserved broth from making chicken stock
2-4 T. unsalted butter
1 medium onion, chopped
4 carrots, peeled and sliced thinly crosswise into rounds
4 celery stalks, sliced thinly crosswise
4 T. chopped fresh parsley
2 tsp. dried basil
salt and pepper to taste

dumplings (or noodles, if you want to roll them out):
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
2 eggs
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

1. Melt 2-4 T. butter in a stock pot. Add onion and saute until soft. Add all chicken stock and bring to a simmer. While heating up, add carrot, celery, parsley, basil, salt and pepper. Cover and let simmer over low heat for 30-60 minutes, or until vegetables are soft.
2. Start making noodles/dumplings: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or with your hands in a large mixing bowl, measure out flour and salt. Add eggs and oil and combine until dough forms. If making dumplings, stop here and spoon directly into soup (about 1/2 tsp. each--I use a small ice cream scoop). If making noodles, continue: On a lightly floured surface, knead for 10-12 minutes until dough is elastic. Roll out and cut into 2 inch strips. Add to soup pot.
3. Cook for about 30 minutes, until noodles/dumplings are cooked through. Serve with whole grain bread, sourdough if you can find or make it, toasted with butter. Can also sprinkle additional parsley on top.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Potato-Fennel Gratin

My mom's ward (the congregation I grew up in) is full of the most fabulous cooks. I had inklings of what people typically thought of Mormon cooking (think Garrison Keillor's descriptions of meals done by the Lutheran congregation at Lake Wobegon) when I heard disparaging remarks made about lime jello salads and funeral potatoes. But, I never tasted such cooking until I went away to college; the ladies I grew up around just didn't do things that way. As an adult, I always thought funeral potatoes were pretty tasty until I got this recipe that my mom's ward used in the last two Christmas parties they put on. This is my THE potato gratin/funeral potatoes dish.

Seriously, you'll never want funeral potatoes again...

Potato-Fennel Gratin
The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

2 small fennel bulbs
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 T good olive oil
1 T unsalted butter
2 pounds russet potatoes (4 large potatoes)
2 C plus 2 T heavy cream
2 1/2 C grated Gruyere cheese (1/2 pound)
1 t kosher salt
1/2 t freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Butter inside of a 10x5x2 (10 cup) baking dish. I just used a 9x13 pyrex.

Remove the stalks from the fennel and cut the bulbs in half lengthwise. REmove the cores and thinly slice the bulbs crosswise, making approximately 4 cups of sliced fennel. SAute the fennel and onions in the olive oil and butter on medium-low heat for 15 minutes, until tender.

Peel the potatoes, then thinly slice them by hand or with a mandoline. Mix the sliced potatoes in a large bowl with 2 cups of cream, 2 cups of Gruyere, salt, and pepper. Add the sauteed fennel and onion and mix well.

Pour the potatoes into the baking dish. Press down to smooth the potatoes. Combine the remiaining 2 T of cream and 1/2 c of Gruyere and sprinkle on the top. Bake for 1 1/2 hours, until the potatoes are very tender and the top is browned and bubbly. Check on this; I've had to cover the pan with foil with 15 minutes to a half hour to go to prevent the top from getting burned. Allow to set for 10 minutes and serve.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Cinnamon Rolls

It just seems more like Christmas if you eat a delicious cinnamon roll, even if you have been eating cookies all week. I can say from recent personal experience that if you even try to eat more than one of these, you may risk heartburn!

I sneakily stole this recipe from someone two years ago, so it somehow makes them taste even better. The extra ingredient would seem to be Sneakiness. Oh wait, it is actually all that cinnamon. Or maybe that it takes one pound of butter to make a batch? You tell me.

Cinnamon Rolls

2.5 teaspoons yeast (1 pkg.)
2 eggs
1 cup milk
3/4 cup butter
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons wheat gluten
4 cups flour (I use whole wheat pastry flour)
1 teaspoon vanilla

1. Mix 1 cup flour with yeast and wheat gluten in a mixing bowl and set aside.
2. Melt butter in a saucepan and then add milk. Add sugar and salt until just dissolved. Heat through until warm and add to mixing bowl (the flour mixture).
3. Mix on high for 3 minutes. Add eggs and mix until blended. Add vanilla. Add flour gradually until dough is pliable and can be kneaded (you may need to add another cup or so of flour).
4. Knead dough on lightly floured surface for 6-8 minutes, or until dough is elastic. Put into a large, greased plastic bowl and let rise until double, about 1 1/2-2 hours. Once dough has risen, roll out to the size (about) of a cookie sheet and about 1/8-1/4 inch thick (aim for 1/8 inch thickness).

1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
3 Tablespoons cinnamon

1. Mix cinnamon and sugar together in a bowl and set aside. Spread butter evenly on dough and then sprinkle with sugar mixture. (You can leave one end plain--about 1/2 inch edge--to make the log stick together.) Roll dough into a log and cut every 2-3 inches. You can use a serrated knife or dental floss to avoid smashing the log.
2. Place on cookie sheets 1-2 inches apart (they will grow a lot in the oven!) Let rise on cookie sheets for about 1 hour. Bake at 335 degrees for about 20 minutes. Remove when tops begin to brown (to avoid dryness).

4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 3/4 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon lemon flavor

1. Cream butter and cream cheese together at low speed for 6 minutes. Switch to whisk attachment and whisk on high for 10 minutes. Add 1 cup sugar on low speed, and then go back to high speed for another 3 minutes. Add vanilla, lemon, and remaining sugar on low and then return to high speed for another 3 minutes, or until creamy.
2. Keep leftover frosting in fridge. Store extra rolls at room temperature, covered. Don't ice the rolls until just before serving.

(*note: when I made these, I kept my oven at a low temperature (around 150 degrees) while the dough was rising. Then I put the bowls (when the dough ball was rising) and the cookie sheets (when the rolls were rising) on top of the oven to make sure they were warm enough to rise properly. It worked like a charm!)

(If it is really cold in your house, heat up the oven and then turn it off, putting the dough to rise inside the warm oven. Put a ceramic bowl of boiling or very hot water in the oven as well, to keep the air moist.)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Cookie Baking Extravaganza 2009: Classic Sugar Cookies

This is a recipe from my MIL, who makes excellent sugar cookies. They have lemon extract in the dough and icing, which is probably why I am so partial to this particular recipe. I have not made a different recipe than this for a few years now. I love it! It also works well with whole wheat pastry flour.

(Later next week I am going to try it with sprouted flour, whole cane sugar, coconut oil, etc. for a healthy version. I will post my results!)

Classic Sugar Cookies
from k's MIL, modified

4 cups all-purpose flour
3 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. lemon extract
3/4 cup milk (I use whole)

powdered sugar
lemon extract

  1. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl and set aside.
  2. Cream butter and sugar together in a stand mixer on medium with the paddle attachment until pale and fluffy. Add egg and lemon extract. Gradually add flour and milk, alternating by switching 3 times or so. Mix until just combined.
  3. Divide in thirds, flatten into disks, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for about 1 hour.
  4. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  5. Remove dough from refrigerator and roll out on lightly floured board. Cut out shapes and transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  6. Bake 10-12 minutes, depending on thickness. Transfer to cooking rack and let cool completely before decorating.
  7. Make icing. Use a few cups of sugar, add about 1 tsp. of lemon extract, and then stir in milk until desired consistency is reached. You can also add food coloring to the icing at this point. Decorate cookies and let dry until icing is hardened.

Cookie Baking Extravaganza 2009: Gingerbread Cookies

Today I made a classic, and I love this version with pepper in addition to the usual gingerbready spices. I made mine into different shapes, and also am not going to make the royal icing. I made sugar cookies today as well, so I will just use that icing for both recipes. Look at the sugar cookie post for the recipe. Enjoy! (I got the recipe for these cookies from M*rtha Stewart.)

Gingerbread Cookies

6 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup packed dark-brown sugar
4 teaspoons ground ginger
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
1 teaspoon finely ground pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
2 large eggs
1 cup unsulfured molasses
Royal Icing
Fine sanding sugar, for sprinkling


  1. Sift together flour, baking soda, and baking powder into a large bowl. Set aside.
  2. Put butter and brown sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; mix on medium speed until fluffy. Mix in spices and salt, then eggs and molasses. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture; mix until just combined. Divide dough into thirds; wrap each in plastic. Refrigerate until cold, about 1 hour.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll out dough on a lightly floured work surface to a 1/4-inch thick. Cut into snowflakes with a 7- inch snowflake-shape cookie cutter. Space 2 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper, and refrigerate until firm, about 15 minutes.
  4. Bake cookies until crisp but not dark, 12 to 14 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks.
  5. Put icing in a pastry bag fitted with a small plain round tip (such as Ateco #7). Pipe designs on snowflakes; immediately sprinkle with sanding sugar. Let stand 5 minutes; tap off excess sugar. Let icing set completely at room temperature, about 1 hour. Store cookies between layers of parchment in an airtight container at room temperature up to 5 days.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Cookie Baking Extravaganza 2009: Chocolate Lump Cookies

I love these simple almond-milk chocolate ball cookies, since I was a little k.

Chocolate Lump Cookies

¾ cup unsalted butter, softened
½ cup sugar
¼ cup brown sugar
1 egg
2 ½ cups sifted flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pure almond extract
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 bars (5 oz. each) Cadbury “Dairy Milk” chocolate bars, chopped

  1. Preheat oven to 350. In a mixing bowl fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugar, and brown sugar until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add egg and blend completely. Add flour, salt, almond extract, and vanilla extract. Combine. Add chopped chocolate bars and mix by hand with a wooden spoon.
  2. Scoop out by the tablespoon and roll into 1 inch balls. Place on parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes, until barely brown on the bottom. Do not over bake.

Cookie Baking Extravaganza 2009: Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

These cookies are a satisfying blend of chocolate and peanut butter, even better than those peanut butter cookies with kisses in my opinion! Here is the original recipe, exactly the same as below but linked to give credit where credit is due.

Peanut Butter Cup Cookies
from Martha Stewart

½ cup creamy peanut butter
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 cup packed light-brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1½ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1/3 cup granulated sugar, for rolling out the dough
36 mini peanut butter cups, unwrapped and chilled

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a mixing bowl fitted with the paddle attachment, cream peanut butter and butter until smooth. Add brown sugar; beat until combined, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Add eggs and vanilla, and beat until incorporated.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. With mixer on low speed, gradually beat in flour mixture in two batches.
  3. Scoop off the dough in tablespoons; roll into balls. Place granulated sugar on a plate; roll balls in sugar, coating completely. Place two inches apart on a parchment-lined nonstick insulated baking sheet.
  4. Bake until cookies begin to puff up slightly, about 7 minutes. Remove from oven. Press one peanut butter cup into the center of each cookie. Return to the oven; continue baking until cookies are golden brown and chocolate has begun to melt, about 6 minutes more. Let cool at least 10 minutes on baking sheet before transferring cookies to a rack to cool completely.

Cookie Baking Extravaganza 2009: Shortbread (with variations)

I love shortbread: it tastes amazing, always impresses a crowd, and turns out to be very versatile if you try different mix-ins like the ones below. For Christmas this year I have settled on these four flavors to take to neighbors and family:

Shortbread with variations:

Classic Shortbread:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1¼ tsp. coarse salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pan
¾ cup confectioner’s sugar

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees, with rack in upper third. Sift flour and salt into a bowl; set aside. Put butter into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium-high speed until fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes, scraping down sides of bowl. Gradually add sugar; beat until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  2. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture all at once; mix until just combined.
  3. Butter a 10-inch round springform pan or cake pan. Using plastic wrap, press dough evenly into pan. With plastic on dough, refrigerate 20 minutes.
  4. Cut dough into 8 wedges with a paring knife. Using a wooden skewer (not a fork, it’s tines with pull at the dough), prick all over at ¼-inch intervals.
  5. Bake until golden brown and firm in the center, about 1 hour. Transfer pan to a wire rack. Recut shortbread into wedges; let cool completely in pan. Can be stored in an airtight container up to 2 weeks.
Coconut-Macadamia Fingers Variation:
Follow classic shortbread recipe, mixing in 1 tsp. vanilla at end of step 1. Add ½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut and ½ cup finely chopped toasted macadamia nuts; mix to combine. Proceed with step 2. Butter an 11½-by-8½-inch rimmed baking sheet, and line with parchment, allowing a 2-inch overhang on long sides; butter parchment. Using plastic wrap, press dough into prepared pan. Leave plastic on dough, and refrigerate 20 minutes. Cut into 32 rectangles (about 3 by 1 inch each); prick top all over with a wooden skewer. Refrigerate 15 minutes. Bake until golden brown and firm in center, about 40 minutes. Lift out by overhang; transfer to a wire rack to cool. Recut into rectangles.

Lemon Shortbread Variation:
Follow classic shortbread recipe, mixing in 5 tsp. finely grated lemon zest and 1 T. fresh lemon juice at end of step 1. Proceed with step 2, then halve dough, and shape into disks. Wrap each in plastic, and refrigerate 1 hour. Working with 1 disk at a time, roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to ¼ inch thick. Cut out rounds with a 2-inch fluted cutter. Space 1 inch apart on baking sheets lined with parchment. Refrigerate 30 minutes. Bake until pale golden brown, 22 to 25 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack; let cool completely. Dust with confectioners’ sugar.

Walnut-Chocolate Chunk Shortbread Variation:
Follow classic shortbread recipe, mixing in 1 tsp. pure vanilla at end of step 1. Proceed with step 2, and then stir in 5 oz. (1 cup) finely chopped semisweet chocolate. Halve dough. Transfer each half to a piece of parchment paper, and shape into a log. Roll in parchment to 2 inches in diameter, pressing a ruler along edge of parchment at each turn to narrow the log and force out air. Unwrap, and roll each log in 1 cup chopped toasted walnuts. Wrap each in plastic, and refrigerate 1 hour. Let stand at room temperature 10 minutes. Cut logs into ¼-inch-thick slices. Space 1 inch apart on baking sheets lined with parchment. Bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack; let cool completely.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Cookie Baking Extravaganza 2009: Cadbury Christmas Mini-Egg Brownies

You know how Cadbury Mini-Eggs are amazing? Well, they have started putting out a Christmas version only the candies are round and colored with green, red, and white. I made Mini-Egg brownies a few Easter's ago, and thought, why not Christmas brownies?

The reason any version of these brownies are good is due to the original recipe by Nick Malgieri. He makes a Pecan Brownie recipe to die for. These candy versions are the same recipe but with pecans omitted, and candy pieces replacing them. I put half the bag in the dough, and then sprinkle the other half on top so you can see the colors.

Cadbury Christmas Candy Brownies

16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, cut into ¼-inch pieces
4 large eggs
1 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup flour (I use whole wheat pastry flour)
one bag (10 0z.)Cadbury Mini-Eggs, or Cadbury Christmas candies, divided in half

  1. Set a rack in the middle level of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.
  2. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat and add the chocolate. Let stand 2 minutes, and then whisk smooth. If all the chocolate has not melted, return to very low heat and stir constantly until the chocolate melts.
  3. In a large bowl, use a rubber spatula to stir one egg into the brown sugar. Make sure any lumps in the sugar are dissolved. Add the remaining eggs, one at a time, stirring each in with the rubber spatula in the same way. Stir in the granulated sugar, then the vanilla and salt. Stir in the chocolate mixture.
  4. Finally, fold in the flour, then half of the candy.
  5. Prepare a 9x13x2 pan by buttering it and then lining it with parchment paper and buttering the parchment paper at the very last. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with an offset spatula. Scatter the remaining candies over the top of the batter.
  6. Bake for about 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick or a small knife inserted into the center emerges clean. Cool completely on a rack.
  7. Wrap and refrigerate the pan so that the cake solidifies completely, at least 4 hours but overnight is best. This also makes the cake easier to cut.*
  8. Transfer the whole cake to a cutting board and slide a long knife or spatula under it to loosen the paper, and then pull it away. Use a ruler to mark, and then cut the cake into 2-inch squares.
  9. For up to several days, store the brownies between sheets of parchment or wax paper in a tin or plastic container with a tight-fitting cover. Freeze for longer storage. If you plan to keep the brownies for any length of time, it is better to wrap them individually.
*I really do this step, and it makes a BIG difference in how they taste.

Cookie Baking Extravaganza 2009: Checkerboard Cookies

Checkerboard Cookies
by Nick Malgieri

French Vanilla Sables

12 Tablespoons (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg yolk
1½ cups all-purpose flour

Cream butter and sugar in the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium speed until smooth, until well mixed, light colored, and fluffy, about 4-5 minutes. Beat in vanilla and egg yolk. Continue beating until very smooth, about 2 more minutes. Scrape the bowl and beater well and beat in the flour.
Scrape the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and shape it into a 1 inch thick square and chill for several hours and up to several days.

Dark Chocolate Sables

1½ cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup alkalized (Dutch process) cocoa powder, sifted after measuring
½ teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
8 Tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg

In bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar on medium speed until well mixed and fluffy, about 4-5 minutes, then beat in vanilla and egg. Continue beating until very smooth, about 2 minutes more. Scrape bowl and beater very well and beat in flour mixture.
Scrape the dough onto a lightly floured surface and shape it into a 1 inch thick square the same size as the vanilla dough, and chill for several hours.

Checkerboard Cookies

1 batch French Vanilla Sables
1 batch Dark Chocolate Sables
1 egg white for adhering the dough

  1. Remove vanilla dough from refrigerator and roll out to an 8x12 inch rectangle on a floured surface. Slide onto a cookie sheet, cover with plastic wrap and chill again until firm, about 30 minutes. Repeat with chocolate dough.
  2. Remove vanilla and chocolate doughs and uncover. Paint entire top of vanilla dough with egg white and then place chocolate dough on top, pressing with cookie sheet, gently, to adhere completely. Immediately cut dough in half and paint one half with more egg white, then stacking other half on top and pressing gently again with a cookie sheet to adhere completely. Wrap completely in plastic wrap and chill again for several hours. At this point you may double wrap and freeze, only to be defrosted in the refrigerator when you are ready to continue.
  3. Remove the dough and unwrap. Using a sharp knife, cut the dough across the 6 inch side into sixteen 3/8-inch-thick slices. Place one slice cut side down and paint with egg white. Stack a second slice on top making sure that the vanilla and chocolate doughs are lined up oppositely. For example, if the first slice was vanilla, chocolate, vanilla, chocolate, then the second slice should go chocolate, vanilla, chocolate, vanilla. Continue painting the second slice with egg white, adding a third slice, painting the third slice and topping off with a fourth slice. This stack is finished once there are 4 slices adhered together. Start a new stack exactly the same way, ending with 4 slices adhered together. You should end up with 4 stacks of 4 slices adhered together, since you started with 16 individual slices. Wrap the individual stacks tightly in plastic wrap, taking care to gently press them together. Return to refrigerator to chill for another several hours. At this point they may be double wrapped and frozen, only to be defrosted in the refrigerator in order to continue when you are ready.
  4. When you are ready to bake, get your parchment-lined baking sheets ready and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Make sure the racks in the oven are placed in the upper and lower thirds of the oven.
  5. Remove dough from fridge and unwrap. Cut with a sharp knife into ¼ inch thick slices and place immediately onto sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until puffed somewhat and dull and firm to the touch. Slide the papers from the pans onto cooling racks and let cool completely. Store between sheets of parchment paper in an airtight container.

Mexican Wedding Cookies

I started Cookie Baking Extravaganza this afternoon, and what Christmas cookie plate would be complete without Mexican Wedding Cookies? This year I used this Martha Stewart recipe, and it is great! I could not find the recipe I used two years ago, so I put my trust in Martha, and she did not disappoint. I love the cinnamon-almond combination, and the finely ground almond meal that goes into the dough. Yum!

Mexican Wedding Cookies

Mexican Wedding Cookies

1 cup almonds, plus 40 more for decorating
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 1/4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
1 large egg white, beaten

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread 1 cup almonds on a baking sheet; toast until fragrant, about 12 minutes. Let cool.
  2. Put toasted almonds, flour, salt, and cinnamon in a food processor; process until almonds are finely chopped, about 1 minute. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle, cream butter and 1 cup confectioners' sugar on medium until pale and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add vanilla and almond extracts, and mix until combined. Add the almond mixture, and mix on low until dough just comes together.
  4. Roll dough into twenty 1 1/2-inch balls; place on ungreased baking sheets, spaced 2 inches apart. Flatten each ball slightly with your palm.
  5. Toss 1 tablespoon beaten egg white and remaining 40 whole almonds in a small bowl to coat. Press two almonds into each cookie.
  6. Bake cookies until lightly browned around the edges, about 25 minutes. Transfer baking sheets to a wire rack; let stand until cool enough to handle.
  7. Place remaining 1 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar in a medium bowl. Roll warm cookies in sugar, reserving any remaining sugar. Return cookies to baking sheets. Let cookies cool 15 minutes, and roll again. Store in an airtight container up to 1 week.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Christmas Gift 2009: Creamless Creamy Tomato Soup

Every Christmas, I try to make a treat for neighbors who help me make it through my day-to-day life. However, I am not a baker, and though I LOVE it when others bring me cookies and treats, some days around the holidays, I think it would be so handy to have a quick homemade dinner (that I didn't have to make).

This year, I wanted to make pesto because it can be used for so many things, but when pine nuts cost $7.99 for a little over a cup, plus the copious amounts of good quality olive oil and parmesan cheese, I decided that may be a little pricey.

Then, inspiration hit...I could make this tasty tomato soup and put a little pesto on the side. Have you tried 1 (or 2) teaspoons of pesto in tomato soup? DELICIOUS!

And, it's a gift that has red and green! How festive! I know, I know, just call me, "Martha."

Creamless Creamy Tomato Soup
Cook's Illustrated

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling I only use about 2 T at the beginning; the recipe says to add more as you're blending the tomatoes, but I haven't found that to be necessary to the creaminess or flavor-enhancing
1 medium onion, chopped
3 medium garlic cloves, minced
Pinch hot red pepper flakes (optional) I haven't done this
1 bay leaf
2 (28 oz) cans whole tomatoes packed in juice I buy mine diced
1 T brown sugar I do 1 1/2 T brown sugar
3 large slices good-quality sandwich bread, crusts removed, torn into 1-inch pieces I measured 3/4 c of fresh bread crumbs that I've run through the food processor and keep in the freezer
2 C low-sodium chicken broth I think homemade stock makes the difference here because there are so few ingredients
2 T brandy (optional) I haven't done this
Table salt and ground black pepper I left out the pepper for purely aesthetic reasons and thought it still tasted fine
1/4 c chopped fresh chives I think this is unnecessary when adding the pesto

Heat 2 T oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onion, garlic, red pepper flakes (if using), and bay leaf. Cook, stirring frequently, until onion is translucent, 3-5 minutes.

Stir in tomatoes and their juice. Using potato masher, mash until no pieces bigger than 2 inches remain (this is why I just buy the tomatoes already diced).

Stir in sugar and bread; bring soup to boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until bread is completely staurated and starts to break down, about 5 minutes. Remove and discard bay leaf.

Transfer half of soup to blender. Add 1 T oil and process until soup is smooth and creamy, 2-3 minutes. Sometimes, I add this, but often, I don't. There's usually a little fat in the chicken broth, so I count that instead. Transfer to large bowl and repeat with remaining soup and oil.

Rinse out Dutch oven and return soup to pot. Stir in chicken broth and brandy (if using). Return soup to boil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve soup in individual bowls. Sprinkle each portion with pepper and chives and drizzle with olive oil. I omit this last sentence and instead add 1-2 teaspoons per bowl of this pesto. Serve with grilled cheese sandwiches for an easy dinner.

Christmas Gift 2008: Red Lentil Soup

I LOVE this soup. So, last year, I put together all the dry ingredients as a gift for our neighbors during the holidays. It does involve a lot of chopping, but it's well worth it. (Oh, another task that's well worth it--hunting down those 6 whole cloves!)

I make it throughout the year, but it’s great at Christmas—the cinnamon, allspice and cloves make the whole house smell like the holiday season.

Bob’s Red Lentil Soup
Bob Adams

3 C red lentils
1 C chopped celery
1 red pepper, diced
1 C chopped ripe tomatoes
9 C chicken or vegetable broth
1 onion chopped
1 c sliced carrots
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 t cumin
1 t coriander
1 t thyme
½ t allspice
dash cinnamon
2 bay leaves
6 whole cloves
dash flaked red pepper
2-3 t vinegar
1 lemon juiced

Simmer lentils in broth with spices and garlic until lentils are soft. Add vegetables and simmer 10-15 minutes. Blend/puree soup in blender. Add vinegar and lemon juice. Serve with plain yogurt or sour cream on top.

Gingerbread People

I've never tried another gingerbread recipe because I love this one so much that I've never felt the need. These are decadent with just the right amount of spices. Mrs. Fields has a recipe for icing, but the thing I love most about gingerbread people is that they can be decorated with red hots, sprinkles, and chocolate chips BEFORE they're baked.

I'm so lazy that I just never do icing or frosting on cookies.

On a completely unrelated note, will they take away my feminist card if I call them "gingerbread men?" :)

Gingerbread Men
Mrs. Fields' Cookie Book

3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
1 t ground cinnamon
2 t ground ginger
1/4 t ground cloves
1 c salted butter, softened
3/4 c dark brown sugar, firmly packed
1 large egg
1/2 c unsulfured molasses

Whisk together flour, soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves in medium bowl.

In mixer, cream butter and sugar, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Add egg and molasses, and beat on medium speed until smooth. Scrape bowl and add the flour mixture. Belnd on low speed just until combined; do not overmix. It will be magically clear when you've mixed enough.

Separate dough into 2 balls and flatten into disks. Wrap each disk tightly in plastic wrap or a plastic bag, and refrigerate 1 hour or until firm.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. On floured surface with floured rolling pin, roll dough out to 1/4 inch thickness. With floured cookie cutters cut into gingerbread men. Gather scraps and reroll dough until all dough is used. Place on ungreased baking sheets 1/2 inch apart. This is where I decorate with the above mentioned items.

Bake 9-11 minutes being careful not to borwn. Transfer to cool flat surface with spatula.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Biscuits (soaked and yummy!)

This very morning I finished making biscuits. It is from one of my favorite blogs: The Nourishing Gourmet. She bases most of her recipes on the food philosophies of Sally Fallon, the Nourishing Traditions cookbook, and the Weston A. Price foundation. I am not a big fan of the book itself (poorly edited, but informative; get it from the library), but I do frequent this blog for recipe ideas. (I will soon try making her sourdough recipe, once my starter arrives in the mail!)

The recipe below is written with the specific ingredients I used. I made two batches at the same time, one with butter and milk, and one with coconut oil and coconut tonic. I had to do both because my DH does not like coconut, but I am currently experimenting with (virgin organic) coconut oil due to all of it's health benefits. If you want pictures and more information on the biscuits, click here for the original recipe. Here is my version, which is barely different.

Fluffy, Whole Wheat Biscuits
Makes 20 small biscuits

Coconut oil melts at a low temperature, so keep this dough “soaking” under 76 degrees so the oil will stay solid.

    2 1/2 cups of whole wheat pastry flour
    6 tablespoons coconut oil
    3/4 cup of coconut milk tonic*
    1 tablespoon raw apple cider vinegar

    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    1 1/2 teaspoons aluminum-free baking powder
    3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

    (*one can coconut milk, 17 oz. coconut water (or plain water, I used coconut water from a coconut we had drained earlier that day), and 1 tsp. vanilla, whisked together)


2 1/2 cups of whole wheat pastry flour
6 tablespoons organic, pastured butter
3/4 cup of raw milk
1 tablespoon raw apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons aluminum-free baking powder
3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

1-The night before, measure the flour into a medium size bowl. Using a pastry cutter, or a fork and knife with a cutting motion, cut in the coconut oil/butter into the flour. When the oil/butter is the size of peas or smaller, you are done. Add the coconut milk tonic/water/milk and vinegar, and mix in until just combined. Leave overnight at room temperature, well covered. You can cover it with a towel and then put a plate on top to hold it down. This mixture will be wetter then your average biscuit recipe. This is so we can more easily mix in the salt and rising agents the next day.

2-The next morning, place the oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 450. Press down the dough a bit right in the bowl. Sprinkle the baking soda, baking power and salt on top of the dough, then fold it in half, top to bottom and press down firmly. Fold in half again from the side, and press down firmly again. Starting at the top, repeat this process until you have folded the dough about 10-15 times (do so until you feel assured that the rising agents and salt have been well mixed in).

3-Now it’s ready to roll it out! Because the folding process develops the gluten a bit, you may not need any flour. But if you do, feel free to use some more whole wheat pastry flour or arrowroot flour when you roll this out. Place on a clean surface, and roll out into a rectangle. It should be about 1/2 an inch thick.

4-You can use biscuit cutters to get nice round biscuits, but I like to simply cut it into squares as there is no waste this way.

5-Place on a parchment-lined jellyroll pan and pop it in your preheated oven. Cook for 8-10 minutes, or until the top and bottom is lightly browned and the middle is cooked all the way through. Remove to cooling racks when done. Biscuits are best warm, we enjoyed ours with a little butter and local raw honey on top.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Chicken, Ham and Swiss Roll-ups (cheater Chicken Cordon Bleu)

I love this easy dinner recipe for when you are craving a satisfying meat dish, but also short on time. Plus it is really good!

Chicken, Ham and Swiss Roll-ups (cheater Chicken Cordon Bleu)

from Everyday Food

6 chicken breasts, thawed
6 T. Dijon mustard
salt and pepper
6-10 slices deli ham
12 slices Swiss cheese

Preheat oven to 350.
Pound each chicken breast very thin and lay out flat. Spread one tablespoon of mustard on each chicken breast and season with salt and pepper. Layer ham on each breast, making sure each is covered completely. Then layer cheese over ham in the same way.
Roll each chicken breast jelly roll style and place seam side down on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for about 20 minutes, until chicken is no longer pink. Let rest 5 minutes and then serve.

Lemon Cream

Another great Kate H. recipe.

Norma Gillespie

1 pkg lemon jello
1/2 c sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1 c boiling water
6-oz frozen lemonade concentrate (thawed)
1 c whipped cream I whipped cream for a total of 2 cups. Why? Because I wanted the color of the lemon cream to be lighter. Only after I put it in to set did I realize that doubling the whip cream may have made the lemon cream not set. Fortunately, it did set, but it didn't keep the shape of the mold quite as well.

Whisk jello, sugar, salt, and boiling water until dissolved. Stir in 6-oz frozen lemonade concentrate. Chill until jelly-like consistency. Fold in 1c (1/2 pt) whipped cream. Lightly spray mold with Pam. Fill mold and refrigerate until set. I let mind sit overnight. To remove from the mold, I placed it in hot water for about 5 minutes, and then, inverted the mold on the plate. (ok, I made my friend, Kirstin, do this because I was too nervous) Serve with seasonal fresh fruit. Blackberries and strawberries are delicious with this!

Breakfast Pizza

We had lots of great neighbors when we lived in Boston. Some of our favorites were Dave and Geri who would host a bi-annual LDS General Conference breakfast. Their breakfast pizza and Swedish pancakes were staples at these events, and I remember counting down the days until a Zollinger breakfast.

The pizza is great--so easy and such a crowd please!

Breakfast Pizza
Geri and Dave Zollinger

1 package crescent rolls
5 eggs
1 c hashbrowns, thawed
12 oz sausage
1 c cheddar cheese
¼ c milk
½ t salt
1/8 t pepper
2 T Parmesan cheese

Brown sausage and drain.

Roll out crust on an ungreased pizza pan. Layer sausage, then hash browns, then cheese.

Beat the eggs milk, salt and pepper together.

Pour over pizza. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top.

Bake in oven at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Coconut Bars

This past summer I did an Easy Breezy Summer Recipe night and this was my favorite recipe from the whole night. Thank you Heather J!
Coconut Bars

1 & 1/2 C Graham Cracker Crumbs
1/2 C Butter melted
1 can (14oz) Condensed Milk
1 package (7oz) Coconut
2 C Chocolate chips
1/2 C Peanut Butter

Combine graham cracker crumbs and butter and press into 9x13 pan. Combine coconut and milk and spread over crust. Bake at 350 for 18-20 minutes or until slightly browned. Melt chocolate chips and peanut butter and spread over bars. Keep cool in refrigerator.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Tortilla Soup

This is another soup I make with homemade stock/broth. Here is the link again, with the health benefits and recipe on one page. (I find I crave this for mineral content and especially calcium now that I am no longer drinking milk.)
Tortilla Soup
(my mother-in-law's recipe)
1 pound cooked chicken, cubed
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 oz. can diced green chiles
15 oz. can stewed tomatoes
4 cups chicken broth
1 tsp. lemon-pepper
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon hot sauce
4 tablespoons flour
½ cup water

  1. Boil water with chicken and bouillon until cooked. Save 4 cups broth and cube chicken. (I don't do this part, I make stock that morning and use the broth and chicken from it. If I am in a pinch and do not have time to do that, I will use bouillon but from the Better Than Bouillon jars, NOT the cubes. (They contain MSG.))
  2. In a large stockpot, sauté onion, garlic in oil. Add green chiles, tomatoes, saved broth, lemon pepper, Worcestershire sauce, chili powder, cumin, and hot sauce.
  3. Add flour and water and cook until thickened. Add chicken and stir to combine.
  4. Serve with tortilla chips, guacamole, sour cream and grated cheese on top.

Cheese and Vegetable Chowder

This is, without a doubt, my favorite soup of all time. Seriously. It is good with store bought stock, but I highly recommend buying an organic, free range chicken if you can find a decently priced one (I go to Sprouts), and making your own stock that morning. Then you just use the stock that night for dinner. The reason I go through the trouble is for the massive health benefits from one single recipe and made all in one pot: Broth is Beautiful (recipe included).

Cheese and Vegetable Chowder
2 T. butter
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 large leek, split lengthwise and thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
6 T. whole wheat pastry flour
5 cups chicken or vegetable stock
3 carrots, finely diced
2 stalks celery, finely diced
1 turnip, finely diced
1 large potato, finely diced
3-4 sprigs fresh thyme, or 1/8 tsp. dried thyme
1 bay leaf
1½ cups light cream or half-and-half
10½ oz. mature Cheddar cheese, grated
fresh chopped parsley, to garnish
salt and pepper

  1. Melt the butter in a large heavy-based saucepan or stockpot over a medium-low heat. Add the onion, leek and garlic. Cover and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until the vegetables start to soften.
  2. Stir the flour into the vegetables and continue cooking for 2 minutes. Add a little of the stock and stir well, scraping the bottom of the pan to mix in the flour. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently, and slowly stir in the rest of the stock.
  3. Add the carrots, celery, turnip, potato, thyme and bay leaf. Reduce the heat, cover and cook gently for about 35 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender. Remove the bay leaf and the thyme branches.
  4. Stir in the cream and simmer over a very low heat for 5 minutes. Add the cheese a handful at a time, stirring constantly for 1 minute after each addition, to make sure it is completely melted. Taste the soup and adjust the seasoning, adding salt if needed, and pepper to taste. Ladle immediately into warm bowls, sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley and serve.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Vegetable Soup

Now that cold weather has finally turned cold I thought I should share this recipe:
This basic soup can be made with any combination of fresh or frozen vegetables, so you can switch it up and it will taste different each time.
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 C chopped onions or leeks
1 C thinly sliced celery
2 tsp Italian seasoning
3 cans (14.5oz) vegetable or chicken broth
1 can (28oz) diced tomatoes with juice
1 Tbsp tomato paste
8 C mixed fresh or frozen vegetables (I like to do carrots, potatoes, zucchini, yellow squash, green beans but really the sky is the limit. I've also done cabbage and cauliflower.)

Heat oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add onions, celery, and Italian seasoning; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until onions are translucent, 5 to 8 minutes.
Add broth, tomatoes and their juice, tomato paste, and 2 1/2 C water to pot; bring mixture to a boil. Reduce and heat to simmer, and cook, uncovered for 20 minutes.
Add vegetables to pot, and return to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, until the vegetables are tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Season with salt and pepper as desired.

Now I know I got this off of a recipe blog 2 years ago but for the life of me don't remember where so special to the mysterious blogger who gave me this recipe.

This recipe is also great to freeze and save for later!

Fresh Mushroom Soup

So, mushrooms were the last food I have taught myself to, if not like, at least appreciate for their "mushroomyness." (I've hated mushrooms for as long as I can remember.)

They were the only food that would make me gag (well, that an gristle, but is gristle really a food?). Still
, over the past two years, I've been trying to incorporate them into our meals, and now, I can say, "Mmmm, that's a good mushroom dish." Notot my favorite food, but mushrooms and I get along better now.

I think there's a metaphor for life somewhere in there, but I'll spare you those thoughts.

Really, the ultimate triumph is that I can enjoy this mushroom soup. Not that this is a hard soup to like. It's rich and creamy. Seriously, it could be a sauce over a poached egg and an English muffin for a decadent breakfast or dinner.

Fresh Mushroom Soup
Gourmet Cookbook

2 cups half and half
1 medium onion
1/2 stick unsalted butter
3/4 pound mushrooms, trimmed and thinly sliced I used 2 8 oz boxes of creminis with the stems removed because they were looking a little yucky
4 t all-purpose flour
1 cup beef stock or store-bought broth I used the stock left over from this dish
1/2 Turkish bay leaf or 1/4 California bay leaf
1/4 t salt
1/8 t freshly ground pepper
2 t fresh lemon juice I had the lemon, but forgot to add it

Bring half-and-half just to a boil in a heavy sacuepan, then remove from heat and cover to keep warm.

Meanwhile, cut a 3/4-inch-thick crosswise slice from center of onion; reserve remainder for another use I'm not sure why or how they thought of this, but I'm glad--it would have been weird , kind of disturbing the texture of the soup, to have diced onions floating there, which is what I was tempted to do until I realized this would save me work!

Heat butter in a 6-quart wide heavy pot over moderately high heat until foam subsides. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring, until golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Add onion slice, then sprinkle mushrooms with flour and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add stock in a slow stream, stirring constantly, then add half-and-half, bay leaf, salt, and pepper. Reduce heat to low and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes.

Discard onion and bay leaf and stir in lemon juice.

Add a loaf of French bread to dip in this soup and a salad for a quick easy dinner!

Escarole, Sausage, and White Bean Stew

My family doesn't like spicy food, but I think the heat here is important to the overall flavor. I found a sprinkling of cayenne did the trick; kids would still eat it and the heat was still there albeit slightly muted. With a loaf of bread and a side of apple slices, this was an easy dinner.

With some minor modifications (dairy-free sausage, no butter or cheese), I think this dish would still be quiet good, definitely lower in calories, and a top-8 allergy-free dish.

Escarole, Sausage, and White Bean Stew
Gourmet Cookbook

1 t olive oil
1 pound bulk Italian sausage (sweet and/or hot) broken into 1-inch pieces I used Trader Joe's chicken sausage with fontina cheese and garlic
5 large garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste I sprinkled a bit (less than 1/8 t) of cayenne pepper instead
1 head escarole, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces couldn't find this anywhere! I used 1 C thawed frozen spinach instead
3 c cooked or canned white beans, such as great northern or navy, drained and rinsed if canned I used 2 15 oz cans of great northerns
3 c chicken stock
1/2 stick (4 T) unsalted butter
1/2 c finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or a combination of Parmigiano and pecorino Romans
2 plum tomatoes, diced I drained a 15 oz can of diced tomatoes
2 T choped fresh flat leaf parsley not a bit fan, so I left this out

Kosher salt and pepper

Heat oil in a deep 12-inch skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking. Brown sausage, stirring, for 7-10 minutes. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, until garlic is softened, about 2 minutes. Add beans and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

Add stock and beese, tomatoes, and hal Stir in butter, cheese, tomatoes, and half of parsley and cook, stirring, until butter is melted and stew is heated through.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Magical Mint Kiss Cookies

I didn't know this was a Hershey's recipe until I bought a bag of Mint Kisses two years ago. I thought my mom made it up! Either way, a delicious chocolate-mint recipe for those who are partial to the combination. I know I am.

Magical Mint Kiss Cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups flour
¼ cup Dutch process cocoa powder
48 mint kisses, unwrapped
powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350. In a mixer fitted the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. In another bowl, blend flour and cocoa together; gradually add to butter mixture on low speed. Mold a scant tablespoon of dough around each individual mint kiss, covering completely. Shape into balls and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
Bake 8-10 minutes or until set. Cool about 1 minute and then remove from baking sheet to cool completely. Roll in powdered sugar once and then roll a second time just before serving.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Brussel Sprouts with Pancetta

I grew up hearing that brussel sprouts were yucky, but then, my Gourmet Group friend, Christina, brought the most delicious brussel sprouts to a Thanksgiving dinner we shared. Unfortunately, I lost that recipe that she gave me, but these are just as good with a hint of nuttiness, so it's a dish that fits perfectly at my family's holiday table.

Brussel Sprouts with Pancetta
Giada De Laurentiis

1 pound fresh Brussels sprouts, trimmed
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 ounces paper-thin slices pancetta, coarsely chopped I can never find pancetta, so I've only ever used proscuitto and added it at the end with the chicken broth
2 garlic cloves, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup low-salt chicken broth

Partially cook the Brussels sprouts in a large pot of boiling salted water, about 4 minutes. Drain.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add the pancetta and saute until beginning to crisp, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and saute until pale golden, about 2 minutes. Add the Brussels sprouts to the same skillet and saute until heated through and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Add the broth and simmer until the broth reduces just enough to coat the Brussels sprouts, about 3 minutes. Serve.

Sweet Potato Casserole

It's a little embarrassing to admit that this dish is one of the ones that made me sad when Asher was first diagnosed with all his food allergies because really, could his life be complete without ever tasting these? :)

But, this year, I'll make them without the eggs and watch him not even try a bite. That's ok, though. More for me!

Sweet Potato Casserole
Janice Rose

3 cups mashed sweet potatoes
½ c brown sugar
½ c butter
2 eggs, beaten
1 t vanilla
½ c milk

1/3 c melted butter
1 c brown sugar
½ c flour
1 c chopped nuts

Mix together first six ingredients and put into a 9x13 inch baking dish. Mix together topping and spread on top of potatoes. Bake at 350 for 35 minutes. Serves 10 to 12.

Favorite Thanksgiving dishes

The Peterson Shrimp Brick: sounds gross, looks a little gross, but trust me, it's a delicious appetizer!

Deer Valley Turkey and Black Bean Chili: to take care of the leftover turkey

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Carmelized Apples: my new favorite way to eat sweet potatoes

Sweet Potato Casserole: my old favorite way to eat sweet potatoes

Nate's Marshmallow Salad: because it wouldn't be Christmas or Thanksgiving without it

Katie's Dinner Rolls: while my grandma's rolls are what really reminds me of the holidays, Katie's are easier to adapt to to Asher's allergies and just as tasty!

Brussel Sprouts with Proscuitto: people who don't like brussel sprouts enjoy these because of the magic of proscuitto

What are your favorite Thanksgiving dishes?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Pumpkin Cookies With Brown Butter Icing

I have made these cookies every fall for the last couple of years and they never fail to be crowd-pleasers. I am very biased since I love anything pumpkin-y and vanilla-y, but these cookies are definitely in my Top Ten Best Cookies. You can make the cookies ahead of time and then make the icing on the day you intend to serve them. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Cookies with Brown Butter Icing

adapted from Martha Stewart's original recipe here

2 ¾ cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 ¼ teaspoons sea salt
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 ¼ teaspoons ground ginger
¾ teaspoon ground nutmeg (freshly ground if possible)
¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened (I use organic cultured butter)
2 ¼ cups packed dark-brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 ½ cups canned solid-pack pumpkin (14 ounces) (I roast pumpkin, then puree)
¾ cup whole milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (I use Pure Bourbon Vanilla from Trader Joe's)

4 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted (I use unbleached, organic powdered sugar)
10 tablespoons (1 ¼ sticks) unsalted butter
¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon whole milk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1. Make cookies: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg in a medium bowl; set aside.
2. Put butter and brown sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Mix in eggs. Reduce speed to low. Add pumpkin, milk, and vanilla; mix until well blended, about 2 minutes. Add flour mixture; mix until combined.
3. Using small ice cream scoop, drop onto parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing 1 inch apart. Bake cookies, rotating sheets halfway through, until tops spring back, about 12 minutes. Cool on sheets on wire racks 5 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire racks; let cool completely.
4. Make icing: Put confectioners' sugar in a large bowl; set aside. Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, swirling pan occasionally, until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Immediately add butter to confectioners' sugar, scraping any browned bits from sides and bottom of pan. Add milk and vanilla; stir until smooth. Spread about 1 teaspoon icing onto each cookie. If icing stiffens, stir in more milk, a little at a time. Cookies can be stored in single layers in airtight containers at room temperature up to 3 days.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Cook's Country Meat Loaf

We (okay, I've) been working on getting us to eat less meat around here for the past year, so I usually don't make an entree that's all meat and when I do, I don't usually post it here. But, this recipe is such a hit at my house among all four of us that I couldn't not share it. I'm NOT a meatloaf fan, and even I like it. Luke will take fistfuls of meat and cram it in his mouth when I make this. And with the cauliflower on the side, this makes a delicious dinner. This is THE only meatloaf I'll make for quite a while.

Glazed Meat Loaf
Cook's Country, Feb 2009

1 c ketchup
1/4 c packed brown sugar I reduced to 2 T; couldn't tell a difference
2 1/2 T cider vinegar
1/2 t hot sauce I used 1/8 t cayenne pepper; I left it out the first time since our family doesn't like spicy food, but I definitely felt like this needed a little heat

Meat Loaf
2 t vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped fine
2 garlic cloves, minced
2/3 c crushed saltine crackers (about 17) I used left over Chicken in Biskit crackers because I liked the seasoning on them
1/3 c whole milk I've used skim and 1%--couldnt' tell a difference
1 pound 90 percent lean ground beef grass-fed from Sprouts--yay!
1 pound ground pork
2 large eggs plus 1 large yolk egg is used as a binder in meat loaf, so it doesn't really add flavor. We leave it out because of allergies, which just makes the meat loaf more crumbly.
2 t Dijon mustard
2 t Worcestershire sauce
1/2 t dried thyme
1/3 c finely chopped parsley
Salt and pepper

1. Make glaze: whisk all ingredients in saucepan until sugar dissolves. Reserve 1/4 c glaze, then simmer remaining glaze over medium heat until sightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Cover and keep warm.
2. Cook vegetables: line rimmed baking sheet with foil and coat lightly with cooking spray. Don't skip this step--it saves LOTS on clean up time!

Heat oil in nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Cook onion until golden, about 8 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Transfer to large bowl.

3. Process meat: Process saltines and milk in food processor until smooth. Add beef and pork and pulse until well combined, about ten 1-second pulses. Ok, the first time I did this, I totally overprocessed the meat, making a meat paste. Now, I mix the pork and beef together first, throw it in the processor for about 3 1-second pulses, and really mix everthing in the next step:

Transfer meat to cooled onion mixture. Add eggs and yolk, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, thyme, parsley, 1 t salt I added 1/2 t because my crackers were so salty, and 3/4 t pepper to bowl. Mix with hands until combined. Was it Rachael Ray who said to work the meat loaf as little as possible or else it will get tough? Can't remember, but I'm sure someone said it.

4. Broil: Adjust oven racks to upper (about 4 inches away from broiler element) and middle positions and heat broiler. Transfer meat mixture to prepared baking sheet and shape into 9 inch by 5 inch loaf. I think this is one of the reasons why I like this recipe so much. Cook's Country writes, "Problem: Greasy, Pale Loaf, Solution: Bake the Loaf Free-Form--Skip the loaf pan, Baking the laof on a rimmed baking sheet allows the fat and juices to drain and exposes more surface area for a better crust." Amen!

Broil on upper rack until well browned, about 5 minutes.

Brush 2 T uncooked glaze over top and sides of loaf and then return to oven and broil until glaze begins to brown, about 2 mintues.

5. Bake: Transfer meat loaf to middle rack and brush with remaining uncooked glaze.

Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake until meat loaf registers 160 degrees, 40 to 45 minutes.

Transfer to carving board, tent with foil I haven't tented with foil, and let rest 20 minutes. Slice and serve, passing cooked glaze at table.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Parmesan-Roasted Broccoli

Thanks to EmilyCC for inviting me to blog here. I have an appreciation of a great recipe, so I am looking forward to sharing some standouts that I have found over the years.

This broccoli recipe is a recent find, but I have made it repeatedly since we have basil growing in the backyard and the ingredient list would double as a "K's Favorite Foods List". It must be the Italian part of me! I took the recipe from Ina Garten on her show Barefoot Contessa, found here in it's original form. I have written the recipe with slight changes below, due to my preferences. Enjoy.

Parmesan-Roasted Broccoli

4 to 5 pounds broccoli
5-6 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
Good olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt (I use pink Himalayan salt, and I do not measure. I just do a large pinch, enough to sprinkle over all the broccoli liberally)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 lemon, zested and then cut in half to squeeze out juice
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (I use Trader Joe's grated parmesan for a shortcut)
fresh basil leaves (about 12 leaves, or a large handful)
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Cut the broccoli florets from the thick stalks, leaving an inch or two of stalk attached to the florets, discarding the rest of the stalks. Cut the larger pieces through the base of the head with a small knife, pulling the florets apart. You should have about 8 cups of florets. Place the broccoli florets on a sheet pan large enough to hold them in a single layer. Toss the garlic on the broccoli and drizzle with 5-6 tablespoons olive oil. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes, until crisp-tender and the tips of some of the florets are browned.
  3. While broccoli roasts, toast pine nuts in a dry stainless steel sauce pan (non-stick will give off fumes used dry) over medium heat, tossing occasionally. Standing right next to pine nuts, julienne the basil leaves on a cutting board, making a pile. Zest the lemon over the top of the pile of basil leaves and set aside for juicing. When the pine nuts are done toasting, ease them out of the pan over the basil-lemon pile. Put Parmesan cheese on top of the pile. Give the pile a loose chop, mixing gently as you go.
  4. Remove the broccoli from the oven and immediately drizzle with more olive oil. Sprinkle basil, lemon, pine nuts and Parmesan mixture over the whole pan of roasted broccoli. Cut reserved lemon in half and squeeze juice over the entire pan. Serve hot, immediately.
Picture of Parmesan-Roasted Broccoli Recipe

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Cauliflower with Almonds, Raisins, and Capers

This was a delicious side dish with the meatloaf I made for dinner tonight--the only meatloaf I'll eat because, you know, the two words, "meat" and "loaf" together, just don't sound that good.

I've only had cauliflower steamed with lots of butter and/or cheese, but I love the texture that came with a light saute and some roasting. I made it with almonds and butter, but this recipe could easily be made Top 8 allergen-free with olive oil replacing the butter and pepitas replacing the almonds. I think I'll try it that way next time.

Also, this recipe is a simplified version of what's on the Smitten Kitchen website. Here's what I did because I'm lazy :)

Cauliflower With Almonds, Capers and Raisins
from Smitten Kitchen

1 head cauliflower, trimmed of leaves
1 1/2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh soft bread crumbs I ground up 2 slices of white bread in the food processor 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons whole almonds or pepitas, I used sliced almonds
Salt and freshly ground black pepper a light sprinkling from the salt shaker and a couple grinds from the pepper mill
2 tablespoons golden raisins I only had craisins
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon capers, rinsed and drained
1 teaspoon finely chopped parsley
1 teaspoon finely chopped tarragon didn't have
1 teaspoon finely sliced chives

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut cauliflower from top to bottom in 1-inch slices. Place a large ovenproof skillet over low heat and add one tablespoon butter. When it has melted, add bread crumbs and toss until toasted and golden brown, about 3 minutes. Transfer crumbs to a plate and wipe out pan. My version: Toast the almonds first in the skillet. Once they start to turn golden, add the breItalicad crumbs and/or olive oil. Then, salt and pepper the crumb/almond mixture and set aside. That will omit steps 1 and 2.

2. Return pan to medium heat and add one teaspoon olive oil. Add almonds and toss until lightly browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Season lightly with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer almonds to a plate, let cool, and cut each almond into three pieces*; set aside.

3. Wipe out pan and return to medium heat. Add remaining one tablespoon olive oil and cauliflower slices. Sauté until lightly browned on both sides. Transfer pan to oven and roast until tender, about 12 minutes. (I had to brown my cauliflower in batches, not having enough surface area in my pan, but tossed everything back in to roast it.) Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over low heat, melt remaining 1/2 tablespoon butter and add raisins, vinegar and 1 tablespoon water. Simmer until raisins are plump and soft, about 5 minutes; drain and set aside. In a small bowl, combine almonds, capers, raisins, parsley, tarragon and chives. See directions in 4 for what I did here. Season with salt and pepper and toss to mix.

4. Arrange roasted cauliflower on a serving platter. Spoon almond-herb mixture evenly on top and sprinkle with toasted bread crumbs. Serve immediately. When the cauliflower was cooked and the craisin/vinegar/butter (or oil) mixture was done, I put the cauliflower in a serving bowl, poured the craisin dressing on, and after a brief toss of the almonds, capers, chives, parsley, and bread crumbs, I sprinkled all that on top of the cauliflower.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Carmelized Green Beans

I used to make these delicious deep fried green beans with ground pork served over rice for dinner. Then, I got tired of doing all the work of deep frying the beans, so I haven't made them for a while. Maybe one day I'll post that recipe here.

Right now, though, I don't think I have to because I found these delightful Carmelized Green Beans from Our Best Bites. I've had the recipe for a while, but I didn't try it until last night. I think I was intimidated by the length of the recipe, but really, it's quite easy. My only suggestion is to add a larger onion. I would have liked more onion in mine.

Such a winner, though. It tastes a lot like my deep fried green beans but with much less work (and fat :) ).

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Brie en Croute

I got this recipe from my Catholic friend in my Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) group when I was in chaplaincy training. I miss those days! She, of course, just rattled it off the top of her head. I've added the measurements I used to make mine.

Brie en Croute
Patricia Shea

Circle of brie I used a small 8 oz brie circle
1 package of Pepperidge Farm frozen pastry dough, thawed I only used one sheet since I used the smaller sized brie
1 jar apricot jam I used 1/4 c jam
slivered almonds I used 2 T

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut into two circles of pastry bigger than the brie. Place one circle on baking sheet. Place brie in the center of the circle. Ease the edges of the dough around the brie. Use water to hold cimpring.

Spread jam on top of the brie and sprinkle with almonds. Place second circle of pastry over brie and crimp the edges to fit and attach to bottom layer. Brush dough with egg yolk wash. Decorate by designing patterns with a knife on the top layer. Bake for 30 minutes until lightly brown and puffy.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

THE Cornbread recipe

Isn't satisfying when you find THE recipe? The one that means you don't have to keep trying others because you love this one so much? Incidentally, I've found this blog terribly handy to compile all of my THE recipes.

So, I was thrilled yesterday when I found THE cornbread recipe, complete with THE honey butter recipe, which I found because my friend, Sara mentioned one of her favorites, Real Mom Kitchen, and that blog led me to My Kitchen Cafe, which I love (seriously, I think Melanie and I might be identical foodie twins).

(And, after typing all that, I realize I spend WAY too much time on the computer looking at recipes :))

Melanie's notes are great, I wouldn't add a thing, but I would second her advice--don't fear the marshmallow fluff in the honey butter. It makes it light and fluffy while adding sweetness and little marshmallowy flavor, which I found delicious.

Also, I forgot (I know, surprise) to add the melted butter to the cornbread, but it still turned out fine.

Deer Valley Resort's Turkey and Black Bean Chili

This is what we're having tonight for dinner (because you can't beat a chili that uses a stick of butter!). Leonore made this a couple years ago and won our ward's Chili Cook-off and comes from the all-famous Arcadia/Camelview Ward cookbook, submitted by Sharon Williams, who also submitted my favorite pumpkin bread.

Deer Valley Resort's Turkey and Black Bean Chili
Arcadia/Camelview Ward Cookbook
Sharon Williams

2 cans black beans, drained
1 (4 oz) can mild green chilies, drained
2/3 c red onion, chopped I used a whole small/medium sized on
2/3 c celery, chopped I used 2 stalks
2/3 c red bell pepper, chopped I used 1 whole red bell pepper
2/3 c chopped leeks (white part only) 1 med/large leek--can you tell I don't have much patience for measuring?
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 T oregano, I assumed this meant dried oregano; I used a scant 2 T dried oregano
1 stick butter when Asher was still allergic to dairy, I sauteed the vegetables in 1/4 c olive oil, which takes away some of the richness of the chili, but still well worth making the recipe
1/4 c flour
4 c shredded turkey 1 Costco rotisserie chicken will work nicely
4 C chicken broth
2 1/2 C thawed frozen corn
2 T chili powder
2 T ground cumin
1/2 t salt afterwards, I seasoned a bit more with added salt and pepper
1/4 c brown sugar I did about 2 T brown sugar

In a stock pot, saute chilies, onion, celery, pepper, leeks, garlic and oregano in butter over moderate heat for approximately 15 minutes until softened. Gradually add the flour, cooking over low heat until mixture is golden, approximately 10 to 15 minutes.

Gradually stir in chicken broth. In a blender put half or 1 1/4 c of the corn and puree. Add that and the remaining corn, meat, beans, and spices until heated through.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Cracker Chicken

A Kirstin main dish (see below) with this Kate H. side dish made a perfectly lovely dinner tonight. My kids LOVED it!

Cracker Chicken
Kirstin Bruce

1/4 cup butter, melted
Nabisco Chicken in a Biskit crackers I used about 1/2 the box and had too much crumbs left over. I may try 1/4 of the box next time
chicken breasts I used 4
garlic salt I used 1/2 t; with the saltiness of the crackers it was plenty!
seasoned pepper I just did a few grinds of black pepper

Dip chicken in butter. Make crackers into crumbs and roll chicken in crumbs. Season with pepper and garlic salt (oops, I just added the salt and pepper to the crumbs). Bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes.

Taco Soup

I think just about everyone has a version of this recipe. I've been partial to this one, which is easily Top-8 allergen free if one checks the taco seasoning and leaves out the Hidden Valley Ranch seasoning.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Beef in a Costume

My mom served this dish at my 8th grade Halloween party, and every year after, I would ask her to make it. But, we lost the recipe soon after that party. I'll confess, there have been many a Halloween when I thought this dish would hit the spot.

So, I was super excited when I was going through my mom's recipes this summer and found this. I did a bit to update this (note the distinctly 1980's can of water chestnuts and can of sliced mushrooms), but really, it's a pretty tasty one dish (or one pumpkin) dinner.

Beef in a Costume

1 small to medium pumpkin about the size you'd use to make a pumpkin pie--about the size of a soccer ball
1 medium onion, chopped
1 T vegetable oil I left this out and just used the fat from the beef
1 1/2 to 2 lbs ground beef
2 T soy sauce I used 3 T
2 T brown sugar I used 3 T here, too
1 (4 oz) can sliced mushrooms, drained I sliced about a cup of cremini mushrooms
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 1/2 c cooked rice I used 2 c of brown rice, I might move up to 2 1/2 c next time
1 (8 oz) can sliced water chestnuts, drained I skipped

Cut off the top of pumpkin and thoroughly clean out seeds and pulp. Paint appropriate face on the pumpkin with permanent marking pen or acrylic paint. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large skillet, saute onions in oil until tender. Add meat and brown. Drain drippings from skillet.

I cooked the hamburger first. When it was almost done, I added the onion, mushrooms, and 1 chopped red bell pepper and sauteed all until they were nice and soft.

Add soy sauce, brown sugar, and soup. Simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add cooked rice and water chestnuts. Spoon mixture into the cleaned pumpkin shell. Replace pumpkin top and place entire pumpkin, with filling, on a baking sheet. Bake 1 hour or until inside meat of the pumpkin is tender. Put pumpkin on a plate. Remover pumpkin lid and serve meat. For your vegetable, scoop out cooked pumpkin and serve. Serves 6.

Delightful with a scoop of sour cream.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Pumpkin Alfredo

Ah! It's been too long! I've found that watching what I eat requires that I spend much less time cooking fun things. Such a drag...

But, it's made me much more discriminating about what I'll try. I've been visiting Our Best Bites for a while (and I wish I could remember who directed me to the site because I need to thank them!). These ladies do it all--make their own recipes, take pictures and offer excellent notes, which leaves me with very little to add to this recipe. I made the Guiltless Alfredo that went with it instead of buying alfredo sauce, and I'm with Sara--I hate calling it "guiltless" because that would imply that it's not as good as the original, but it really is.

And, ditto with serving it over plain pasta. This sauce tastes like a squash ravioli filling, so there's no need to guild that lily, though I was tempted to buy some cheesy ravioli.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Corn and Tomato Pie

So, for Nate's birthday, he asked that we do P90X together. Between the high protein diet (and by high protein, P90X creators apparently mean, "Eat lots and lots of meat--until you feel it coming out of your pores.") and the daily workouts, I haven't felt like cooking.

Now that we're heading into week 3, we've decided to go back to our old eating habits and just watch our portions. To celebrate, I made this corn and tomato pie from Smitten Kitchen (I'm loving this website--this woman seems to know just what I love to eat and her pictures are WAY more appetizing than mine) that my talented friend, mraynes introduced me to.

I don't have much to add to this pie (except I had to use 2 T pesto instead of the fresh basil and 1 green onion instead of chives because I was so caught up in making sure I had farmer's market corn and tomatoes that I forgot about the rest of the ingredients). It took a while to make the first pie, but I suspect that's because I have never made pie dough before. In fact, I never really liked pie crust so whenever someone talked about making pie dough, I never listened.

Fortunately, it's remarkably easy. I watched this tutorial first, and it was SO helpful.

Oh, and though this recipe does require the use of an oven, I'm still categorizing it as a "summer" meal because I think with a recipe that uses so few ingredients, it's important that the corn and tomatoes be in season.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Grilled Portabello Mushroom Caps

I've been doing research for about a year now to figure out how to grill portabellos. I had some AMAZING ones at a barbeque a few years ago, but the event was catered, and I was too shy to ask the caterer how they made them. The feat of making amazing portabellos is doublely impressive in light of the fact that there has only been one food item that I have consistently detested and gagged on my entire life...mushrooms. After eating those, I thought that I had clearly misjudged this fungi and needed to learn more. So, after consulting,, and several of my home cookbooks, I think I have the technique down.

Teriyaki Grilled Portabellos

4 Portabello mushrooms
1/2 cup Teriyaki sauce (I like Trader Joe's)

1. Remove the mushroom stems. They pop right out. Save them if you're ambitious and use them in homemade stock (I've only been that ambitious once).

2. Take a damp kitchen towel and wipe off the mushroom caps (don't worry about clearning the gills). If you wash mushrooms, they'll absorb the water, not the marinade.

3. Place the mushroom caps in a bowl or Ziplock bag and pour the teriyaki sauce over. Swish around to make sure the caps are completely covered. Leave at room temperature (this takes some getting used to for someone who only usually marinates meat) for about an hour.

4. Preheat grill to around 350-400 degrees or medium high if your grill doesn't have a thermometer.

5. When the temperature is right, place the mushrooms, cap side down, on the grill for 5-8 minutes. They should have some nice grill marks. Flip and continue to grill for another 5 minutes.

Honestly, I feel like the portabellos' cook time is very similar to a chicken breast's cook time. If you cook both at the same time (like I often do because most of my family still prefers chicken), they should all be done at the same time.

The portabellos are done when there's some (but not much) spongy give--like chicken breasts.

I kept hoping to be super ambitious and do a youtube video about this, but I got shy. Maybe I'll work up my courage and get a demonstration up soon.

In the meantime, I think these are a nice meat replacement. I love them in the mango summer rolls instead of chicken, or on a sandwich with other grilled vegetables and mayo.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Leonore's S'mores Bars

My friend, Leonore, first introduced me to these beauties 2 years ago at a Primary Presidency meeting. She created these all on her own, and I kept bugging her for the recipe. She said, "They're like Rice Krispie Treats but you throw a handful of marshmallows and chocolate chips once they're in the pan."

I'm a concrete recipe follower, so such instructions made me a little anxious. Last night, I was brave enough (or desperate enough--Nate and I start P90X on Monday) to make these. I wrote down what I did, but I still think Leonore's are better :)

Leonore's S'more Bars

1/4 c butter or dairy-free margarine
3 1/2 c Golden Grahams
3 1/2 c mini marshmallows
1/2 c chocolate chips

Melt margarine and 3 cups of marshmallows. Add all Golden Grahams and stir until covered.

Put mixture in a greased 8X8 pan. Sprinkle 1/2 c of chocolate chips and remaining marshmallows over the top.

Broil pan for 2-5 minutes to get chocolate melty and marshmallows golden brown.

Cobb Salad

A couple months ago, I couldn't think of what to make for dinner, so I had thawed some chicken breasts and had lettuce. I figured I'd just make some boring salad with chicken in it. I was chatting with a piano lesson mom who said, "The only salad my family will eat is a Cobb salad." I'd never made one at home before, but I do love them! And, they have so much stuff in them that they're quite versatile--leave out the eggs and cheese and it's a delicious "allergen-free" dinner. Leave out the bacon and chicken and it's vegetarian. THE only Cobb salad for me.

Cobb Salad
6-8 servings

1 medium-size head of iceberg lettuce, shredded--I used a head of Romaine
1 large tomato, chopped
1 1/2 c diced, cooked chicken--I grill a pack of chicken tenders with grill seasoning
1 large advocado, peeled and diced
3/4 pound bacon, cooked, drained, and crumbled--I used the whole package when feeding 6 adults
2 hard boiled eggs--I used 4 when feeding 6 adults
4 oz blue cheese, crumbled

Chive Dressing
6 T white wine vinegar
1/2 t salt
1/4 t garlic powder--I did 1/2 t of Adobo seasoning instead of the salt and garlic powder
1/4 t fresh ground pepper
3 T chopped chives
1/2 c vegetable oil--I used olive oil

Place lettuce in large salad bowl. Prepare dressing by combining salt, garlic powder, pepper, chives, and oil in a jar and shaking well. Pour the dressing over the lettuce and toss. Arrange the tomato, chicken, avocado, bacon, and eggs on top of the lettuce. Place crumbled cheese in the center of the salad. Toss at the table.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Easy Salsa

I LOVE homemade salsa and would eat it all the time if I wasn't the one who had to make it. Besides the endless chopping, my other problem with homemade salsa is that it has to be eaten within 3 days for optimal flavor, and it'll almost always go bad by day 5.

There are two women who's recipes I trust implicitly, my aunt, Katie, and my friend, Kirstin. Every time I eat their food I think, "Man, I hope I can do this one day!" And, they're always lovely about sharing their recipes. This summer, I got to try their salsa recipes, and I was thrilled to notice that they were very similar. When I heard that both were made in the food processor, I was sold! Note: the picture above was taken 6 days after the salsa was made. It lasts so long and is a thousand times better than a jar of Pace Picante.

1 large can tomatoes (Aunt Katie recommends petite diced)
1 small can diced green chiles
1 yellow bell pepper
1 small white onion or 1 bunch green onions
1/2 T garlic, crushed I used about 3-4 medium cloves, but I really like garlicky salsa
1 T sugar
1 T salt
1/4 c jarred jalapenos or 1/2 can EL PATO tomato sauce (Kirstin says that you can find this in the mexican aisle, in the YELLOW can, not green. If you want it to be hotter you can add more of this, I never do.)
1/2 bunch cilantro (Aunt Katie says stems and all, just cut a bit above the elastic that holds the bunch together)
1 large lime
In food processor, process onion, pepper, garlic, salt, sugar, lime juice.
Remove 1/2 into large bowl and process remained with jalapenos and cilantro. Add to bowl. I put my kids in charge of processing, so I, uh, didn't bother with separating out 1/2 to preseve the texture. They ground it quite fine before I realized what was going on :)

Add tomatoes to bowl and stir (Aunt Katie and Kirstin have thrown these in the processor, but Aunt Katie points out that if you get petite diced tomatoes, you can put them in after processing. We like our salsa chunky, so we did this).

*Aunt Katie notes if you want the salsa thicker, add a 4 oz can of tomato paste.
*Kirstin recommends letting the salsa refrigerate overnight to let the flavors blend.