Sunday, November 29, 2009

Grandma's Meatloaf

Grandma's Meatloaf

2 pounds ground beef (80/20 works great, meatloaf mix is even better - meatloaf mix is beef, veal and pork)
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/8 tsp ground pepper
1/2 cup milk
1 egg, beaten
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 tbsp dried chopped onion

Combine the first six ingredients and gently press into a loaf pan. Combine the remaining ingredients and pour over the meatloaf in pan.
Bank in 350-degree oven for 90 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes and remove from pan, slice and serve.

Butternut Squash Gratin

A few years ago, Dan and I ate dinner at Forepaugh's. One of the sides that came with out entree's was Butternut Squash Gratin. It was so good, Dan and I practically licked the serving dish out when it was gone (in about 45 seconds).
Since then, I've been searching the web for a recipe for Butternut Squash Gratin and have never found anything that I felt would suffice. So, tonight I took matters into my own hands and decided to take care of business myself. I know how to cook for gosh sake....and now that I've got a cast iron skillet, life is good.
Let's get this party started, shall we?

Butternut Squash Gratin
1 butternut squash; peeled, seeded and cut into cubes (about 4 cups)
5 tbsp butter; divided
1 onion; chopped in large chunks
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 cup bread crumbs
1 tbsp fresh sage, minced
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
kosher salt
fresh ground pepper
fresh ground nutmeg
In a large sauce pan, with the steamer insert, bring about 3 cups of water to a boil (enough water to come to the bottom of the steamer basket). Add the cubed squash, cover and steam for about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a 10 inch cast iron skillet, melt 3 tbsp of butter, add the chopped onion. Saute on low to medium heat until soft and carmelized, stirring occasionally. This takes about 20 minutes. Add the squash to the onions in the skillet and stir until combined. Sprinkle with salt, fresh ground pepper, sage and fresh ground nutmeg.
Heat the heavy cream in microwave for 1-2 minutes until warm. Pour over squash.
In a bowl, toss the bread crumbs and parmesan cheese with the remaining 2 tbsp of butter (melted). Sprinkle over the squash mixture in the skillet and bake in a 350 degree oven for 40 minutes, until bubbly.
Season with salt and pepper when serving.

Monday, November 23, 2009

My OWN Macaroni and Cheese

Over the last several months, I've been in search of the "perfect" macaroni and cheese recipe. They are either too dry, not enough flavor or (gulp) too Velveeta'y!
So, yesterday I decided to take the bull by the horns and make up my own version that is a little bit of each recipe that I've made in the last 3 months...... it started with America's Test Kitchen's recipe, I love the taste of the different cheeses, but had a weird texture. Martha Stewarts is DIVINE, but it's got $30 worth of cheese in it; too expensive! Then, I tried my friend Audrey's; delicious, creamy and had a wonderfully flavorful sourdough crumb topping, but it was Velveeta. Last was The Pioneer Woman's recipe, a flavor explosion (thanks to the dry mustard!) and great cheese flavor, but was a little too dry for my taste buds and it was missing a bread crumb topping.
So, I set out yesterday to sort of combine them all. Here's what I came up with and it was pretty DANG good!

1 pound pasta (I love Rotelle pasta mac and cheese!)
1 stick butter
1/2 cup flour
1 quart whole milk
2 teaspoons of dry mustard (or a little less if you don't like too much flavor)
1/2 teapsoon of season salt
1/2 teaspoon Frank's Red Hot Sauce
fresh ground pepper
1 egg, beaten
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated (grate it yourself, please)
2 cups gruyere cheese (save some $$ and buy a block at sam's club and use half and freeze half for later, you won't regret the gruyere!)
2-3 slices torn sourdough bread
4 tablespoons butter, melted
grated parmesan cheese

Boil 4 qts of water in a pot. Add pasta, some salt and cook al'dente. (about 10-12 minutes, depending on the type). Drain and set aside.
In a large dutch oven over medium heat, melt butter. Add flour and contiune cooking, whisking constantly for about 5 minutes. Gradually whisk in 1 quart of milk. Continue cooking over medium heat, whisking constantly for several minutes until thickened (takes me about 6-8 minutes). In a small bowl, lightly beat an egg, whisk in 1/2 cup of the hot milk sauce mixture so the egg is tempered. Add the egg mixture to the dutch oven, continuing to whisk constantly.
When that is mixed in, add the dry mustard, seasoned salt, fresh ground pepper and Frank's Red Hot; mix thoroughly. Begin adding the cheese by handfuls until all cheese is incorporated. Taste and season accordingly, I add some kosher salt at this point.
Stir in the cooked noodles. It will be very saucy, but that's great!
Pour the noodle mixture into a 9x13 pan sprayed with cooking spray.
In a food processor, pulse the sourdough bread until it is coarsely crumbed. While pulsing a few more times, pour the melted butter in through the feed tube. Toss with about 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese. Evenly distribute the crumbs over the top of the mac and cheese.
Bake for 30 minutes in a 350 degree oven.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Turkey and Stuffing Scallop

My grandma used to make this casserole every year after Thanksgiving. It's a great dish to make with some of the leftovers. I love it and this is comfort food!

3 1/2 cups prepared stuffing, herb is good, but use whatever is leftover
3 cups cooked turkey, cut into pieces
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
dash of pepper
4 cups chicken broth
6 eggs, lightly beaten
1 can cream of mushroom soup
3 tbsp milk
3 tbsp dry sherry
1 cup sour cream
1 small jar pimento, drained and chopped

If not using leftovers, prepare stuffing. Spread stuffing in a 9×13 baking dish. Top with chopped turkey. In a medium saucepan, melt buter; whisk in flour and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add salt and pepper; stir well. Gradually whisk in the chicken broth and cook, stirring until the mixture thickens.
In a separate bowl, lightly beat eggs, stir in a small amount of the hot mixture, to temper the eggs. Return the egg/hot mixture to the saucepan. Pour over the turkey and stuffing.
Bake in a 325 degree oven for 45-50 minutes or until a knife inserted halfway comes out clean. (this takes me longer in our oven) .
Let stand 5 minutes.
While the turkey/stuffing is standing, combine the soup, milk, sherry, sour cream and pimento in a small sauce pan and heat.
Cut the casserole into squares and serve with pimento sauce.
(I don’t care for pimento, so I leave it out…but my grandma always used them.)

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Apple Pie Squares

I watched a little bit of the Martha Stewart "Thanksgiving Desserts" special on the Fine Living Network this morning.
She made pumpkin pie, apple pie and a bunch of other stuff. I was hungry for Apple I made these.... the recipe is from my cousin Mary Kay Elbert.  She made them years ago at their fall bonfire and I had to have the recipe!

Apple Pie Squares

1 1/3 c. shortening
3 1/2 c flour
8-9 tbsp cold water
Mix together with pastry blender, like preparing pie crust. (I use a food processor with the steel blade, add the water through the feed tube with machine running)
Gather into a ball, divide into halves. Shape into a rectangular log and freeze for about 30 minutes. Roll one half of the dough into an 18x13 rectangle. Put in ungreased jelly roll pan. Roll other half into 17x12 rectangle and set aside.

1 c. granulated sugar (a little extra isn't bad...)
1/3 c. flour
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
8 cups thinly sliced tart apples (extra here isn't bad either)

3 tbsp butter, melted
Turbinado sugar

3/4 c powdered sugar
1 tbsp milk

Prepare filling:
Mix sugar, flour, nutmeg & cinnamon. Stir in Apples. Turn into pastry lined pan. Cover with second crust. Brush top of crust with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar (turbinado sugar is lovely here.)
Seal edges, cut slits into top crust. Bake about 35-40 minutes @ 425.
Combine powdered sugar and milk, frost the apple pastry with this after cooling a few minutes.
Cool completely and cut into squares.
Serve warm.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Cinnamon Apple Cake

A delicious and super moist cake with an amazing apple flavor!

1 3/4 cups sugar, divided
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
2 large apples, peeled, cored and chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Beat 1 1/2 cups sugar, cream cheese, butter and vanilla until light, about 4 minutes. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beat until well blended.
In a bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Add to sugar mixture, beating at low speed until blended.
Stir together remaining 1/4 cup sugar and cinnamon. Toss 2 tbsp with the chopped apples. Stir apples into batter.
Spoon batter into greased 9 inch springform pan. Sprinkle remaining cinnamon sugar mixture evenly over the top.
Bake until cake pulls away from side of pan, about 1 hour and 10 minutes.
Let cool for about 5 minutes and remove the springform ring. Let the cake cool completely on a cooling rack and remove from the bottom of pan.

(tip: I use a 9 inch round of parchment in the bottom of the pan for really easy removal)

Serve warm with a scoop of ice cream or whipped cream.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Tunnel of Fudge Cake

• 2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
• 1/2 c. boiling water
• 3/4 c. Dutch-processed cocoa powder, plus extra for pan
• 2 c. flour
• 2 c. walnuts or pecans, finely chopped
• 2 c. powdered sugar
• 1 tsp. salt
• 5 eggs, at room temperature
• 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
• 1 c. granulated sugar
• 3/4 c. packed light brown sugar
• 11/4 c. (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for pan

For glaze:

• 4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
• 1/2 c. heavy cream
• 2 tbsp. granulated sugar
• 2 tbsp. water


To prepare cake: Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously butter a 12-cup Bundt pan and dust with cocoa powder, tapping out excess. Place bittersweet chocolate in a small heatproof bowl. Add boiling water, whisk until smooth, cool to room temperature and reserve.

In a large bowl, whisk together cocoa, flour, walnuts (or pecans), powdered sugar and salt and reserve.

In a large measuring cup, whisk together eggs and vanilla extract and reserve.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat granulated sugar, brown sugar and butter until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to low, add egg mixture and mix until just combined, about 30 seconds. Add chocolate mixture and mix until just combined, about 30 seconds. Add flour mixture and mix until just combined.

Scrape batter into prepared pan, smooth batter with a rubber spatula and bake until edges are beginning to pull away from pan, about 45 minutes; do not overbake (do not use a cake tester, toothpick or skewer to test the cake).

Remove to a wire rack and cool, upright, for 1 1/2 hours. Invert cake onto serving plate and cool completely, at least 2 hours.

To prepare glaze: Place chocolate in a heatproof bowl. In a small saucepan over high heat, combine cream, granulated sugar and water and bring to a boil. Pour liquid over chocolate and let sit for 30 seconds. Using a whisk or a rubber spatula, gently stir chocolate and cream together in small circles, starting at center of bowl and working your way out in increasingly larger concentric circles.

Leave glaze at room temperature until it thickens just enough to pour in a ribbon, about 20 minutes. Drizzle glaze over cake and let sit for at least 10 minutes before serving. Cover tightly and store at room temperature for up to 2 days.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

White Chicken Chili

Adjust the heat in this dish by adding the minced ribs and seeds from the jalapeño as directed in step 6. If Anaheim chiles cannot be found, add an additional poblano and jalapeño to the chili. This dish can also be successfully made by substituting chicken thighs for the chicken breasts. If using thighs, increase the cooking time in step 4 to about 40 minutes. Serve chili with sour cream, tortilla chips, and lime wedges.Serves 6 to 8
3 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken breast halves , trimmed of excess fat and skin
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 medium jalapeño chiles
3 poblano chiles (medium), stemmed, seeded, and cut into large pieces
3 Anaheim chile peppers (medium), stemmed, seeded, and cut into large pieces
2 medium onions , cut into large pieces (2 cups)
6 medium cloves garlic , minced or pressed through garlic press (about 2 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 (14.5-ounce) cans cannellini beans , drained and rinsed
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice (from 2 to 3 limes)
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro leaves
4 scallions , white and light green parts sliced thin

1. Season chicken liberally with salt and pepper. Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add chicken, skin side down, and cook without moving until skin is golden brown, about 4 minutes. Using tongs, turn chicken and lightly brown on other side, about 2 minutes. Transfer chicken to plate; remove and discard skin.

2. While chicken is browning, remove and discard ribs and seeds from 2 jalapeños; mince flesh. In food processor, process half of poblano chiles, Anaheim chiles, and onions until consistency of chunky salsa, ten to twelve 1-second pulses, scraping down sides of workbowl halfway through. Transfer mixture to medium bowl. Repeat with remaining poblano chiles, Anaheim chiles, and onions; combine with first batch (do not wash food processor blade or workbowl).

3. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon fat from Dutch oven (adding additional vegetable oil if necessary) and reduce heat to medium. Add minced jalapeños, chile-onion mixture, garlic, cumin, coriander, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables soften, about 10 minutes. Remove pot from heat.

4. Transfer 1 cup cooked vegetable mixture to now-empty food processor workbowl. Add 1 cup beans and 1 cup broth and process until smooth, about 20 seconds. Add vegetable-bean mixture, remaining 2 cups broth, and chicken breasts to Dutch oven and bring to boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until chicken registers 160 degrees (175 degrees if using thighs) on instant-read thermometer, 15 to 20 minutes (40 minutes if using thighs).

5. Using tongs, transfer chicken to large plate. Stir in remaining beans and continue to simmer, uncovered, until beans are heated through and chili has thickened slightly, about 10 minutes.

6. Mince remaining jalapeño, reserving and mincing ribs and seeds (see note above), and set aside. When cool enough to handle, shred chicken into bite-sized pieces, discarding bones. Stir shredded chicken, lime juice, cilantro, scallions, and remaining minced jalapeño (with seeds if desired) into chili and return to simmer. Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper and serve.

Per Serving:Cal 370; Fat 6 g; Sat fat 1 g; Chol 115 mg; Carb 25 g; Protein 52 g; Fiber 7 g; Sodium 710 mg

Double Corn Cornbread

This looked soooo good!

A cast-iron skillet (or any ovensafe pan) is our first choice for this recipe, but a 9-inch cake pan will also work. Instead of heating it on the stovetop, place the cake pan with the oil in the preheated oven for 5 minutes before adding the batter.Serves 8 to 10

1 cup cornmeal (yellow or white)
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon table salt
1 cup frozen corn , thawed
1 cup sour cream
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
4 tablespoons unsalted butter , melted
2 teaspoons Vegetable oil

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees. Whisk cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in large bowl. Pulse corn, sour cream, eggs, and hot sauce in food processor until corn is coarsely chopped and mixture is combined. Fold corn mixture into cornmeal mixture, then stir in melted butter.
2. Heat oil in 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat until just beginning to smoke. Take skillet off heat; quickly add batter and place skillet in oven. Bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Cool cornbread in skillet on wire rack for 20 minutes (handle will be hot). Serve warm.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Lattice Chicken Hot Dish

Whenever I go to Sam's Club, I buy a rotissierie chicken, skin it, bone it and chop it. I keep these in ziploc bags in the freezer. So handy to have for an easy chicken casserole!
This is one of our favorites, it's easy and my kids LOVE it. It's like a chicken pot pie.

Lattice Chicken Hot Dish

1 can cream of potato soup
3/4 cup milk
1/2 tsp seasoned salt
3 cup cooked chicken (rotisserie chicken!)
1 bag frozen vegetables
1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
1 cup French fried onions
1 pkg. crescent dough, either the sheet or the rolls, cut into strips

  1. Combine soup, milk, salt, cut up chicken, vegetables, 1/2 cheese and 1/2 onions. 
  2. Put in a 9x13 pan, sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. 
  3. Bake covered with foil at 350 for 20 minutes. 
  4. Uncover and top with strips of crescent roll dough arranged in a lattice formation. 
  5. Bake for 15 minutes longer.  
  6. After rolls have baked, add remaining 1/2 cheese and 1/2 onions. Bake another 5 minutes, until cheese melts.

Swiss Cheese Chicken

Great recipe for skinless boneless chicken breasts....

6 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
6 slices of swiss cheese
2 cans of cream of something soup (I use celery and mushroom)
1/2 can white wine or dry sherry wine
1/2 package of bread crumb stuffing (I use the sage and onion flavor) *some use the whole package, I don't care for that much, but just eyeball it, use however much you want.
1 stick of melted butter

**if I have them in the fridge, I will also add a package of sliced mushrooms.

Tuck the Swiss cheese around chicken breasts and place in a 9x13 casserole pan. Mix the soup and wine. (add mushrooms if you have them, here) Pour the soup mixture over cheese and chicken. Cover with the bread crumb stuffing. Top with melted butter.
Bake at 325 for 1 1/2-2 hours, uncovered.

Pasta with Smoked Bacon, Butternut Squash and Spinach

Dan found this recipe and made it for me, it's got all of my favorite ingredients. Give it a try, you won't be disappointed. Trust me!

My Favorite Things Pasta

1/2 lb smoked bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 tbsp unsalted butter
3 large (Vidalia) onions, sliced 1/4 inch thick
4 cups butternut squash, peeled & cut into 1/2 inch cubes
3/4 to 1 cup chicken broth
1 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped (use fresh, don't doubt me on this one!)
1 lb penne pasta (I prefer whole wheat, just a nuttier flavor)
1 big bag of baby spinach leaves
kosher salt
1 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
fresh ground pepper.

In a large heavy skillet or dutch oven with lid, over medium heat, saute bacon until crisp. Remove bacon and drain on paper towels, leave drippings in pan and add butter. Heat until butter is melted, add ionions and cook, stirring often until brown and caramelized, about 10-15 minutes, I like them a nice deep brown. (I usually add a couple tsp of sugar to the onions to help the carmelizing process). Add squash and stir and cook for about 5 minutes. Pour in chicken stock and sprinkle with chopped rosemary. Cover and cook until liquid is reduced, about 2-4 minutes. Be careful to NOT overcook the squash.
Bring a large pot of water to boil and add penne and 1 tbsp salt. Cook until al dente, or just tender. While the pasta is cooking, add the spinach by large handfuls to the onion and squash mixture. Stir and when wilted, add another handful. Continue until it's all added. Don't overcook! Toss in 2/3 of the bacon. Drain pasta and place in a large bowl. Add the vegetables along with 1/2 cup parmesan cheese. Toss to mix. Tast and season with salt and pepper as needed. Garnish with remaining bacon and 1/2 cup parmesan cheese. Serve hot.

NOTE: This makes a HUGE amount. We typically will freeze half in a casserole dish. When you want to serve the second pan, remove from freezer, thaw in fridge. Drizzle with chicken broth, cover and bake in oven to reheat.

Key West Ribs

I found this recipe a few years ago. We've updated it and made it our own. These ribs are so moist and delicious. It's a great meal when you've got the winter blahs, the citrus is so refreshing!

2 1/2 lb. country-style pork spareribs (either bone-in or boneless will work)
1/4 cup onion, chopped fine
1/4 cup barbecue sauce (a thick flavorful sauce is great in here)
1 tsp grated orange peel (I use the zest from one orange)
1 tsp grated lime peel (I use the zest from one lime)
2 cloves of minced garlic
1/2 tsp salt
juice from the zested orange
juice from the zested lime

Place ribs in the crockpot. Combine the remaining ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Pour over the ribs.
Cover; cook on low for 7-9 hours. Remove ribs from crockpot, cover with foil, set aside. 
Pour sauce in a sauce pan and over med/high heat, reduce the sauce by 1/3.  Spoon sauce over ribs when serving.
We love this with some rice and a side of black beans; serve these with the sauce too.

Cheesy Ravioli Casserole

We always keep a couple bags of cheese or beef ravioli in the freezer, so this can be thrown in the crock pot for a quick quick, I mean not a lot of prep work and easy to put together.

Cheesy Ravioli Casserole

1 tbsp oil
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cans of Hunts Spaghetti Sauce, we use the Herb and Garlic flavor
1-14 oz can of diced tomatoes
1 tsp Italian seasoning
2 bags of frozen ravioli, beef or cheese filled
2 cups mozzarella cheese, grated (1 large bag grated)
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped

Spray crock pot with non-stick cooking spray. Heat oil in dutch oven, add onion, cook about 4 minutes. Add garlic, cook another 30 seconds, until fragrant. Stir in pasta sauce, diced tomaotes and Italian seasoning.
Put 1 cup of sauce in crock pot. Add 1 package frozen ravioli; top with 1 cup of cheese. Top with second package of ravioli and 1 cup of cheese. Pour the remaining sauce over the top.
Cover; cook on low setting for 5 1/2 to 6 1/2 hours. Sprinkle with parsley before serving.
This recipe will serve a crowd or you can have lots of leftovers for lunches the rest of the week!

Audrey's Pork Tenderloin

This is one of the best recipes for pork tenderloin that I have come across. I love it, everyone that we've made it for loves it! It's simple and absolutely delicious! The recipe is from our neighbor, Audrey.

Audrey's Pork Tenderloin

1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup dry sherry wine
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp dry mustard
1 tsp ground ginger (we always have that fresh ginger in the jar, use that if you've got it, much better flavor)
1 tsp thyme (I have fresh thyme in the garden, use about 6-7 sprigs of fresh if you have it, again, much better flavor)

Mix all the marinade ingredients and 2 pork tenderloins in a ziploc bag. Marinate overnight. When you're ready to grill, tie up the tenderloins with butcher string; fold the skinny tail end over so that it will grill more evenly.
Set up your charcoal grill for direct grilling. Once the coals are ready, clean and oil your grill grates. Grill the tenderloins for about 4 minutes per side, grilling all four side. It should be on the grill for a total of 16 minutes, depending on the size of them. Internal temperature on an instant read thermometer should be 140. Be careful to not over cook these, it can happen very quickly.
When the temp is 140, remove from the grill to a platter and tent with foil for 5 minutes.
While the meat is resting, prepare the sauce:

1 jar red currant jelly
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp dry sherry wine

Simmer in a saucepan for about 3 minutes, until the jelly is melted and it is combined.
Slice the tenderloin and serve with the warm sauce.

Preparation tip: We buy our pork tenderloin from Sam's Club as it is considerably cheaper than the grocery store. The Sam's packages are a double pack and each pack has 2 tenderloins in it.
When I buy them, I'll split the marinade and put 2 tenderloins in a Food Saver bag with the marinade and freeze it. The meat will marinate while thawing...saving a step!
Also, I'll buy a couple of them now, and get them in the freezer with the fresh thyme, before it's gone for the winter.... we grill year round!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Macaroni and Cheese

Cooks' Country Mac and Cheese

Serves 8 to 10.
3–4 slices hearty white sandwich bread , torn into large pieces
8 tablespoons unsalted butter , 4 tablespoons melted
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 pound elbow macaroni
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 (12-ounce) cans evaporated milk (I could swear that they used 4 on the show!)
2 teaspoons hot sauce
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon dry mustard
2 cups shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese
1 1/4 cups shredded American cheese , (about 5 ounces) from the deli counter, not sliced or velveeta
3/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Pulse bread, melted butter, and Parmesan in food processor until ground to coarse crumb. Transfer to bowl.
2. Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot. Add 1 tablespoon salt and macaroni to boiling water and cook until al dente, about 6 minutes. Reserve 1/2 cup macaroni cooking water, then drain and rinse macaroni in colander under cold running water. Set aside.
3. Melt remaining 4 tablespoons butter in now-empty pot over medium-high heat until foaming. Stir in flour and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture turns light brown, about 1 minute. Slowly whisk in evaporated milk, hot sauce, nutmeg, mustard, and 2 teaspoons salt and cook until mixture begins to simmer and is slightly thickened, about 4 minutes. Off heat, whisk in cheeses and 1/2 cup reserved pasta water until cheese melts. Stir in macaroni until completely coated.
4. Transfer mixture to 13 by 9-inch baking dish and top with bread crumb mixture. Bake until cheese is bubbling around edges and top is golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Let sit for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.
Make Ahead: The macaroni and cheese can be made in advance through step 3; since the pasta continues to absorb moisture, adjustments must be made to avoid a dry filling. To do so, increase amount of reserved pasta cooking water to 1 cup. Pour filling into 13 by 9-inch baking dish, lay plastic wrap directly on surface of pasta, and refrigerate for up to 1 day. The bread crumb mixture may be refrigerated in airtight container up to 2 days. When ready to bake, remove plastic wrap, cover macaroni mixture with foil, and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle bread crumbs over top, and bake until topping is golden brown, about 20 minutes longer.

NOTE: I made this last night and it is delicious! I actually forgot to use the monterey jack cheese, so we used extra american and a little extra cheddar. The evaporated milk clearly makes the difference in the creaminess of this. So delicious!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Yay!!!! She finally did it!

I have been thinking for the 1.5 years that I've been reading the Pioneer Woman's website, she should have her own recipe website
AND she did!!!!

Introducing "Tasty Kitchen"

Check it out!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Best Banana Bread, ever!

We've been making this banana bread for several years and LOVE it! The original recipe was from a book of recipes that were contributed by all the people that worked for Norwest Investments & Trust back in 1996. I doctored it up and made a couple of changes to make it our own and it is delicious and moist.

Banana Bread

1 cup milk
2 tbsp vinegar (white is preferable, but otherwise cider is ok)
1 cup oil
2 1/2 cups flour
3 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 cup mashed bananas (or approximately 2 brown bananas)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (or if you are using the black coated pans, preheat to 325-335 degrees).
Add 2 tbsp vinegar to milk and set aside. Mix the remaining ingredients, except the baking soda, together in a mixer. Add the baking soda to the milk mixture and stir well. Let rest for a minute or two. Gradually add the milk mixture to the flour mixture with your mixer on low.
Divide the batter between two loaf pans that have been sprayed with the non-stick baking spray. (I love the size of the IKEA loaf pans, long and narrow).
Bake for 55-60 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in pan for 5 minutes and then remove from the pan and continue cooling on a wire rack, or just dig right in a start eating!

hint: what to do with the last brown (or sometime black) banana that is left from the bunch? peel it and put it in a ziploc sandwich bag in the freezer. I'll usually free 2 or 3 bananas together, depending on their size, adding bananas to the bag as they turn brown. Then, when I want to bake banana bread, I've got mashed bananas all ready to go in the freezer. You can thaw them in the microwave or just let them sit on the counter for an hour.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Banana Nut Waffles (sans nuts)

Shortly after Dan and I were married, we were shopping at the Mall of America. We stopped in to Williams-Sonoma to check out the clearance section (they have a great clearance section!). This particular visit, we found a Cuisinart Belgian Waffle Maker for $20, SCORE!
Ever since then, we've made homemade waffles on a regular basis ever since.
Louie loves "awfuls!"

Sunday morning, when we got back from church, I whipped up some waffles and used my rotten bananas that I was saving for banana bread. They were delicious!

I had a recipe for Banana Nut Waffles, but didn't have all the ingredients, so I just made up my own recipe with that other one as a guide.

2 cups flour
2 tbsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl.
In a separate bowl whisk together:
2 eggs
6 tbsp vegetable oil
Stir into dry ingredients and then add
1 cup yogurt
3/4 cup milk
1 cup mashed banana

Let batter rest for 5 minutes before using. Preheat waffle iron. When the iron is ready, add batter and spread with a spatula to 1/4 inch of the edge. Close lid, when the green light turns on

Voila, you've got some delicious waffles to serve with maple syrup!

Louie can eat two of these, they're so good!

The recipe will make about 12 waffles. Any extras can be cooled on a cooling rack and then frozen in a zipper freezer bag for a quick breakfast. We've never bought Eggo's yet!

Best Hamburgers EVER!

My sister-in-law, Tesa shared this recipe with me earlier this spring and I'm addicted and converted. I used to be strictly a Lipton Onion Soup Burger consumer. We have converted to Hidden Valley Ranch Burgers. They're delicious and super juicy.
Here's the recipe:

2# of 80/20 ground beef (the fat content in the ground beef is very important when putting burgers on the grill)
6 Tbsp of dry Hidden Valley Ranch Salad Dressing Mix (I have the big Sam's Club jar of mix, it's much cheaper)
1 large Vidalia onion, sliced thick
olive oil
salt and pepper
2 Tbsp of vegetable oil

Mix the ground beef and the dressing mix thoroughly, but don't be too rough with it.
Divide the ground beef in half and each half into thirds. Or about 5.75 ounces each (for third pound burgers).
Shape each third of beef into a ball and shape into a burger.
or . . . you can use this handy dandy little gadget: Robinsons Tastee Ring Burger Press

This burger press makes perfect burgers that stay flat on the grill. No little burger balls that are charred and don't fit into your bun! This burger press works perfectly with 1/3 pound burgers. It is the perfect size burger.
Put a piece of plastic wrap in the bottom of the press and then put the ball of beef on top. Cover with plastic wrap and then press with the top of the Tastee Ring Burger Press.

Voila! a perfect burger for your prepared charcoal grill!

Here's our grill with the coals getting ready for the burgers.
Once your coals are ready, prepare your grill for direct grilling. Preheat your grill grate and clean the grate. Use a folded paper towel to oil your grill grate (carefully).
Drizzle the sliced onion with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Place the burgers and the onions on the grill and cover. Grill on each side for 5 minutes. Flip once (don't turn over again, they could break apart). Cook for an additional 4 minutes and add a slice of cheese if you'd like it (and who doesn't??). Put the lid on the grill for an additional minute and then remove the burgers and onion slices.
Serve on a good bun with the onion slices and condiments of your choice.
Enjoy! We enjoyed! That's why there aren't any pictures of the finished product!
These are great burgers.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Delicious Garlic Potatoes

Goes with anything! really tasty and delicious.

8 yukon gold potatoes
6 cloves of garlic, thin sliced
1/4 cup of butter
2 tbsp olive oil
kosher salt
fresh ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Using a wooden spoon as a cradle, place each potato in the spoon and make several parallel slits into each potato top making sure not to slice completely through. Place 3 garlic slices between slits at the crown of each potato. Toss in a medium bowl with butter and olive oil. Place on a baking sheet and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Bake until tops are crispy and potatoes are cooked through, about 1 hour. Transfer to a platter and top with Herbed Sour Cream.

Herbed Sour Cream:
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Combine ingredients in a small bowl. Season, to taste, and refrigerate until use.

Kona Crusted Sirloin

If you've ever been to the Capital Grill, you may have ordered the Kona Crusted Sirloin. It's delicious! Definitely, the best steak that I've ever eaten in a restaurant.
I tried to remember to take a picture of the steaks after they were done on the grill, but I was so excited to eat mine, that I completely forgot!

Coffee Rub:
(the recipe I found says this is for one steak, it's a lot of rub. I stored excess in a zip-loc bag in the freezer. it is enough for about 8 steaks!)

1/3 cup sugar
1 cup kona ground decaffeinated coffee
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese grated
1/4 cup mustard powder
1/4 cup granulated garlic
1 tablespoon black pepper
2 tablespoons lowry season salt
4 steaks (we used tenderloin on Sunday, although any steak will work)

Mix everything, except the steaks in a bowl. Depending on the cheese, you may want to pulse the blend in a food processor a few times.

dredge the steaks in the rub and pat into the meat. Let it rest in the fridge for 30 minutes while you prep your grill for direct grilling. Grill each steak for 6-8 minutes per side (depending on thickness and desired doneness). The ones that I grilled were pretty thick, so we did all four sides.

Grilled to perfection! Medium rare! Yummy.

American-Italian all'Amatriciana

We saw this recipe on 30 Minute Meals a couple of years ago. It is delicious! Italian flat leaf parsley is a must in every summer garden. Archer Farms (Target) has a nice thick sliced black pepper bacon. I always use the whole package (12 ounces). The sharp white cheddar seems weird to some, but again, it really adds a lot of flavor.

1 pound whole-wheat cassarecci, rigatoni or penne pasta
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
6 slices lean peppered bacon, chopped
1 large red onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
1 cup chicken stock
1 (28-ounce) can crushed fire roasted tomatoes (Muir Glen is a good brand of these)
Black pepper
A handful flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Shredded sharp white Cheddar, to pass at table
Heat water to boil for pasta, season with salt and cook pasta to al dente.
Heat a deep skillet over medium-high heat with extra-virgin olive oil, a turn of the pan. Add bacon and crisp 4 to 5 minutes then add onions and garlic cook to soften, 5 to 6 minutes. Stir in stock then tomatoes and season with pepper to taste. Simmer sauce 15 minutes. Toss pasta with sauce and parsley. Serve with grated sharp white Cheddar.

Lemon and Parsley Noodles

Pioneer Woman had a recipe like this on her website a week or two ago. We've been making a similar recipe for several years and wanted to share it. It is one of the reasons that we grow fresh Italian flat leaf parsley in our garden every summer (well, this and another recipe that I'll share later).

Lemony Parsley Noodles

1 pound pasta (we really prefer a whole wheat pasta with this recipe, but something like Fusilli works great!)
1 lemon, zested and then juice of 2 lemons
1 stick butter
1 pint sour cream (don't bother with light or low fat, it's no good in this recipe)
1-2 tbsp chopped parsley (absolutely use fresh flat leaf!)
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated (or more if you like it)

Cook the pasta and drain. Zest the lemon, you need 2 tsp of lemon zest. When you're done zesting the lemon, cut it in half and juice it. Melt butter in the pan you cooked the pasta in, remove from heat and stir in the lemon zest and lemon juice. Stir in the sour cream and then toss the pasta back into the pan. Once it is coated, pour into a 2 qt baking pan that has been sprayed with Pam. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 15 minutes. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and parsley. Serve warm. YUMMY!

The Original Beer Can Chicken

I'm discovering that I have a huge problem when it comes to photos of the food, I never remember to take a picture of the finished product. When it came to the beer can chicken, by the time I remembered it was too late. None left on the platter! It is that good. Enough said.

Beer Can Chicken - adapted from the book "How to Grill" by Steven Raichlen (quite possibly the BEST grilling book ever printed, enough said)

1 large chicken (a big fatty is always good on the grill)
1 12 ounce can of beer
2-4 tbsp of the Basic BBQ Rub (see below)
1/2 tsp liquid smoke (optional)

Begin 2 hours before you're going to put the chicken on the grill. Brine your girl. Brining keeps her nice and moist. But, don't overdo it. Too long and it's rubbery!
Fill a large container or bowl with 2-3 quarts of COLD water. In a smaller measuring cup, dilute 1/2 cup of kosher salt in warm water. Add to the bowl of cold water and add your chicken, submerging it. I usually will add ice because we never have room in the fridge for the bowl. If you have room, put it in the fridge. (we brine pork and salmon too, but follow a different ratio and amount).
Don't brine the chicken for more than 2 hours.
Prepare your charcoal grill for indirect grilling and medium heat. Place a foil drip pan in the middle of the coals.
Remove from the brining liquid, rinse and pat dry with a paper towel inside and out.
Rub the chicken inside and out with 2-3 tbsp of the rub. Open the can of beer, immediately drink about 1/3 of the contents and then taking a church key bottle opener, punch a few extra holes in the top of the can. Put a teaspoon of the rub and a teaspoon of liquid smoke into the beer can. Sitting the can on a baking sheet, place the chicken legs down on top of the beer can. She'll sit nice an pretty right on the can.
This past weekend was the first time that I added the liquid smoke to the beer can and man o'man was that good! Highly recommend giving that a try, delish!
Stand the chicken on the grill, over the drip pan and cover. She'll be done in a little over an hour. (usually about an hour and 15 minutes). But check it with an instant read thermometer. She should be at about 160 degrees.
Carefully remove from the grill, this is where my purchase of the leather welding gloves comes in really handy! Just pick the chicken right up with the gloves on and remove the can.
Let her rest for a few minutes covered with foil before you carve and enjoy!

You know how the Sam's Club whole chickens come in packs of 2, we always make both of them at the same time and freeze the leftovers (if there are any).
Trust me on the liquid smoke thing too. It's deliscious!

Basic BBQ Rub

1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup paprika (I will use Penzy's Smoked Paprika for extra flavor)
1/4 cup kosher salt
3 tbsp course ground black pepper
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp onion powder
1 tsp celery seed
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl with your fingers to break up the brown sugar. Store extra in an empty jar, it will keep for several months. We make a double batch to last for the summer. This is great on BBQ spareribs too!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Stay Tuned

We're having a grill-a-thon this weekend!
I just have to remember to have the camera handy . . .
We'll be having pizza-on-the-grill, beer can chicken and something else that I haven't decided on yet.
Oh and cake!
Lots going on around here in the next few days.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Enchilada Hot Dish

Yes, I'm in Minnesota and it's called a "hot dish."

When I got my second job at Norwest, it was in downtown Minneapolis. My first job downtown. The department that I moved to would use any excuse to host a potluck. Our crazy co-worker (seriously, she was nuts!) brought this one of our potlucks and it was delicious! I've made it many times over the last several years and have kicked it up a notch by switching out some of her ingredients for something a little more flavorful.

Here it is, Enchilada Hotdish:

2# ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can cream of mushroom soup (no minnesota 'hotdish' is complete without it!)
1 can of Campbell's Pepper Jack soup (or nacho cheese soup)
1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes (with green chiles is good too)
1/2-3/4 cup salsa
2 bags of cheddar, co-jack or whatever cheese you like
16-20 corn tortillas

In a dutch oven, brown the ground beef, drain off the fat. Add chopped onion and celery, cook until soft. Add the two cloves of garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. To the ground beef, add the soups and the tomatoes and salsa. Stir and cook for a couple of minutes, until flavors incorporated.
While the soup and beef mixture is heating, begin to lightly fry the tortillas on a hot griddle or skillet. Add a couple spoonfuls of the soup mixture to a 9x13 pan sprayed with cooking spray.
Top with 4-5 tortillas and a 1/4 of the cheese. Repeat the layers until you have 4 layers of tortillas and you've ended with cheese. Cover with foil and bake in a 350 degree oven for 35-45 minutes, remove the foil and bake for 10 more minutes. (remember to spray the foil so the cheese doesn't stick).
Let it sit for 5-10 minutes to set and the layers will slice nicely. Serve with a little sour cream and salsa. This is really good the next day too!

My sister-in-law shared a recipe similar to this called "King Ranch Casserole" made with chicken. I'll see if she is ok with me posting that recipe and share that later. It's really good. An excellent dish to make with a shredded rotisserie chicken.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Enchiladas Verdes

Here's another recipe from the episode of America's Test Kitchen that looked amazing!

Enchiladas Verdes

You can substitute three 11-ounce cans of tomatillos, drained and rinsed, for the fresh ones in this recipe. Halve large tomatillos (more than 2 inches in diameter) and place them skin-side up for broiling in step 2 to ensure even cooking and charring. If you can’t find poblanos, substitute 4 large jalapeño chiles (with seeds and ribs removed). To increase the spiciness of the sauce, reserve some of the chiles’ ribs and seeds and add them to the food processor in step 3.
Serves 4-6

4 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion , chopped medium (about 1 cup)
3 medium garlic cloves , minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1 tablespoon)
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts (2 to 3 breasts), trimmed of excess fat
1 1/2 pounds tomatillos (16 to 20 medium), husks and stems removed, rinsed well and dried (see note)
3 medium poblano chiles , halved lengthwise, stemmed, and seeded (see note)
1 - 2 1/2 teaspoons sugar
Table salt
Ground black pepper
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
8 ounces Pepper Jack cheese or Monterey Jack cheese, grated (2 cups)
12 (6-inch) corn tortillas
2 medium scallions , sliced thin
Thinly sliced radishes
Sour cream

1. Adjust oven racks to middle and highest positions and heat broiler. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in medium saucepan over medium heat until shimmering; add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until golden, 6 to 8 minutes. Add 2 teaspoons garlic and cumin; cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Decrease heat to low and stir in broth. Add chicken, cover, and simmer until instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of chicken registers 160 degrees, 15 to 20 minutes, flipping chicken halfway through cooking. Transfer chicken to large bowl; place in refrigerator to cool, about 20 minutes. Remove 1/4 cup liquid from saucepan and set aside; discard remaining liquid.

2. Meanwhile, toss tomatillos and poblanos with remaining 2 teaspoons oil; arrange on rimmed baking sheet lined with foil, with poblanos skin-side up. Broil until vegetables blacken and start to soften, 5 to 10 minutes, rotating pan halfway through cooking. Cool 10 minutes, then remove skin from poblanos (leave tomatillo skins intact). Transfer tomatillos and chiles to food processor. Decrease oven temperature to 350 degrees. Discard foil from baking sheet and set baking sheet aside for warming tortillas.

3. Add 1 teaspoon sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, remaining teaspoon garlic, and reserved cooking liquid to food processor; process until sauce is somewhat chunky, about eight 1-second pulses. Taste sauce; season with salt and pepper and adjust tartness by stirring in remaining sugar, 1/2 teaspoon at a time. Set sauce aside (you should have about 3 cups).

4. When chicken is cool, pull into shreds using hands or 2 forks, then chop into small bite-sized pieces. Combine chicken with cilantro and 11/2 cups cheese; season with salt.

5. Smear bottom of 13- by 9-inch baking dish with 3/4 cup tomatillo sauce. Place tortillas on 2 baking sheets. Spray both sides of tortillas lightly with cooking spray. Bake until tortillas are soft and pliable, 2 to 4 minutes. Increase oven temperature to 450 degrees. Place warm tortillas on countertop and spread 1/3 cup filling down center of each tortilla. Roll each tortilla tightly and place in baking dish, seam-side down. Pour remaining tomatillo sauce over top of enchiladas. Use back of spoon to spread sauce so that it coats top of each tortilla. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese and cover baking dish with foil.

6. Bake enchiladas on middle rack until heated through and cheese is melted, 15 to 20 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle with scallions, and serve immediately, passing radishes and sour cream separately.

Steak Tacos

We watched the episode of America's Test Kitchen last night and this was one of the recipes. I'll definitely be giving this a try this summer, cooking the meat on the grill and heating the tortillas on the grill too. Served right up outside at the table with margaritas or cold beer! Sounds delicious.

Steak Tacos - America's Test Kitchen

For a less spicy dish, remove some or all of the ribs and seeds from the jalapeños before chopping them for the marinade. In addition to the toppings suggested below, try serving the tacos with Sweet and Spicy Pickled Onions (see related recipe), thinly sliced radishes or cucumber, or salsa.

Serves 4 to 6
Herb Paste

1/2 cup packed fresh cilantro leaves
3 medium garlic cloves , roughly chopped
3 medium scallions , roughly chopped (about 1/3 cup)
1 medium jalapeño chile , stemmed and roughly chopped (see note)
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice


1 flank steak (1 1/2 to 1 3/4 pounds), trimmed of excess fat and cut lengthwise (with grain) into 4 equal pieces (see below)
1 tablespoon kosher salt or 1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil


12 (6-inch) corn tortillas , warmed (see note)
Fresh cilantro leaves
Minced white or red onion
Lime wedges

See Illustrations Below: How to Warm Tortillas

1. FOR THE HERB PASTE: Pulse cilantro, garlic, scallions, jalapeño, and cumin in food processor until finely chopped, ten to twelve 1-second pulses, scraping down sides as necessary. Add oil and process until mixture is smooth and resembles pesto, about 15 seconds, scraping down sides of workbowl as necessary. Transfer 2 tablespoons herb paste to medium bowl; whisk in lime juice and set aside.

2. FOR THE STEAK: Using dinner fork, poke each piece of steak 10 to 12 times on each side. Place in large baking dish; rub all sides of steak pieces evenly with salt and then coat with remaining herb paste. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 30 minutes or up to 1 hour.

3. Scrape herb paste off steak and sprinkle all sides of pieces evenly with sugar and pepper. Heat oil in 12-inch heavy-bottomed nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until smoking. Place steak in skillet and cook until well browned, about 3 minutes. Flip steak and sear until second side is well browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Using tongs, stand each piece on a cut side and cook, turning as necessary, until all cut sides are well browned and internal temperature registers 125 to 130 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, 2 to 7 minutes. Transfer steak to cutting board and let rest 5 minutes.

4. FOR THE TACOS: Using sharp chef’s knife or carving knife, slice steak pieces across grain into 1/8-inch-thick pieces. Transfer sliced steak to bowl with herb paste-lime juice mixture and toss to coat. Season with salt. Spoon small amount of sliced steak into center of each warm tortilla and serve immediately, passing toppings separately.

Sweet and Spicy Pickled Onions

The pickled onions can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Makes about 2 cups 1 medium red onion , sliced thin (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 cup red wine vinegar
1/3 cup sugar
2 jalapeño chiles , stemmed, seeded, and cut into thin rings
1/4 teaspoon table salt

Place onions in medium heat-resistant bowl. Bring vinegar, sugar, jalapeños, and salt to simmer in small saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves. Pour vinegar mixture over onions, cover loosely, and let cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes. Once cool, drain and discard liquid.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Chocolate Blackout Cake

Made this for dessert this past weekend. I saw the recipe on Cook's Country in January. I have been waiting for an occasion to make it, or waiting for a chocolate lover to appreciate it. Gracey's birthday is coming up and after last weekend, we thought she deserved it!

Be sure to give the pudding and the cake enough time to cool or you'll end up with runny pudding and gummy cake.


1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon table salt
2 cups half-and-half
1 cup whole milk
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate , chopped
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), plus extra for greasing pans
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour , plus extra for dusting pans
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Table salt
3/4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 cup strong black coffee
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. For the pudding: Whisk sugar, cornstarch, salt, half-and-half, and milk in large saucepan. Set pan over medium heat. Add chocolate and whisk constantly until chocolate melts and mixture begins to bubble, 2 to 4 minutes. Stir in vanilla and transfer pudding to large bowl. Place plastic wrap directly on surface of pudding and refrigerate until cold, at least 4 hours or up to 1 day.

2. For the cake layers: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Butter and flour two 8-inch cake pans. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in bowl.

3. Melt butter in large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in cocoa and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Off heat, whisk in coffee, buttermilk, and sugars until dissolved. Whisk in eggs and vanilla, then slowly whisk in flour mixture.

4. Divide batter evenly between prepared pans and bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool layers in pans 15 minutes, then invert onto wire rack. Cool to room temperature, at least 1 hour.

5. To assemble the cake: Cut each cake in half horizontally. Crumble one cake layer into medium crumbs and set aside. Place one cake layer on serving platter or cardboard round. Spread 1 cup pudding over cake layer and top with another layer. Repeat with 1 cup pudding and last cake layer. Spread remaining pudding evenly over top and sides of cake. Sprinkle cake crumbs evenly over top and sides of cake, pressing lightly to adhere crumbs. Serve.

(Cake can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.)

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Caramel French Toast

My friend, Carol, made this for the kids when we went to her house for brunch and cookie decorating in December. It is delicious and our kids LOVE it!

Make one day ahead:
6 eggs
2c. milk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 stick butter
1 c. brown sugar
2 tsp. corn syrup
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 loaf french bread, sliced 1 inch thick or Texas Toast (but you can only get 6 slices in the pan....)
Spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray. In a heavy saucepan, melt butter, sugar, corn syrup and cinnamon until it is a syrup; pour into bottom of the 9x13 pan. Arrange bread slices on top of syrup. In a bowl, beat eggs, milk and vanilla. Pour over the bread; sprinkle with cinnamon sugar over top. Cover pan and refrigerate overnight. Bake uncovered at 350 for 45-50 minutes.
Serve each slice by turning upside down on plate, carmel side up. Delish!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Crock Pot Lasagna

UPDATE: Dan made this for dinner on Wednesday night. It is delicious. Oval crockpot is recommended. He used the no-boil whole wheat Archer Farms lasagna noodles. Really delicious. Highly recommended.

So, the St. Paul Pioneer Press had this deal a while back to sign up and get a crock pot recipe a week until the end of April. Well, it has been a total bust in my book. The recipes have not appealed to me at all . . . and I'm not a picky eater!
Yesterday, this recipe arrived in my mailbox and it actually is something that we'll try. My family loves lasagna. The invention of the no-boil noodles sealed the deal for me. We have lasagna a few times a year and it's made from scratch. I'm not a fan of Simek's (eccchhhhhh!) and the other frozen varieties (except the frozen stuff from Morrelli's!!).
Give it a try and let us know how it turns out . . . . maybe we'll make it here next week???
I'll talk to the chef.

Easy Lasagna

1 pound ground beef
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jar (about 26 ounces) of marinara sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
1 pound whole-milk ricotta (such as Crystal Farms)
1/4 cup milk
1 egg
1 pound shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
8 ounces no-boil lasagna noodles
To prepare crockpot: Spray crockpot with cooking spray or grease with vegetable shortening.To prepare meat sauce: In large saute pan, brown ground beef, onion and garlic. Drain off any grease. Add marinara sauce. Stir well. Season with salt and pepper to taste. To prepare cheese mixture: Meanwhile, in medium bowl, combine ricotta, milk and egg. Mix until smooth. Add mozzarella and parmesan. Mix until combined. To assemble lasagna: Spread 2 tablespoons meat sauce in bottom of crockpot. Arrange 3 noodles on top of sauce (break them if necessary). Spread 1/3 cup cheese mixture on top of noodles. Top with 1/4 cup meat sauce. Add another layer of noodles. Repeat layering (2 or 3 more layers of meat sauce, noodles and cheese, depending on size of crockpot). Top with meat sauce. Cover. Cook on low for 4 to 6 hours or until noodles are tender.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Beef Pot Roast with Root Vegetables

This recipe is from my friend Mary Owen (aka: Ted's step-mother). I have not made it, but it sounds delicious. We really like sweet potatoes at our house and they are so much better for you than just a regular potato.
It sounds delicious!

½ cup chopped onion
2 large sweet potatos, cut into 2-inch pieces
2 parsnips, peeled and chopped
1 celery root (celeriac), peeled and chopped
1 (5 lb) boneless beef roast, trimmed of fat
Sea salt and ground black pepper
3 tbsp. flour
1 (14 oz.) can diced tomatoes
1/3 cup real maple syrup
2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
*I like to add a small handful of chopped parsley*

Arrange onion, sweet potatoes, parsnips, and celery root in bottom of crock pot. Season beef all over with sea salt and black pepper. Rub flour all over beef. Place roast on top of vegetables. Whisk together tomatoes, maple syrup, and seasonings. Pour mixture over beef.
Cover and cook on LOW for 12 hours or HIGH or 8 hours.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Shredded chicken tacos- super easy meal.

This is so simple and delicious! It's great on a salad the next day and also served with lime and cilantro rice (think Chipotle!). We also will use the leftovers for Chicken Enchiladas (roll filling with cheese in corn tortillas, lay in pan, pour a can of red or green enchilada sauce over it, smother with more cheese and bake for 30 minutes, YUM)

1 package Trader Joe's frozen roasted corn (or any frozen corn will do...) (left over grilled corn from the summer works too)
1 can black beans, drained
3-4 frozen chicken breasts (depending on leftovers, use 1 or 2 more)
1 jar salsa
1 package taco seasoning (I used either Penzey's Taco Seasoning or Chi Chi's)

Pour the bag of corn in the bottom of crockpot. Add the black beans. Put the chicken on top of beans and sprinkle with the taco seasoning. Pour the jar of salsa over the top.
Cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 3-4. Shred the chicken and then toss with the remaining ingredients, serve in tortillas with your regularly scheduled taco fixin's.

Also really good with lime and cilantro rice:

1 tbsp butter
1 cup white basmati rice
1 1/2 cups water
juice of 1 lime
lime zest
2 tbsp chopped cilantro

Melt butter in a heavy sauce pan. Add rice and saute until you reach your desired nutty flavor (america's test kitchen technique, yummy!) 2-4 minutes. Add water and salt. Bring to a boil, turn down the heat to low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Add lime juice and fluff with a fork. Remove from heat and let sit for another 15 minutes. Add cilantro and fluff with a fork. Serve.

Beef Lombardi

Makes 6 servings
1 pound lean ground beef
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can chopped tomatoes
1 (10-ounce) can diced tomatoes and green chiles
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
1 bay leaf
1 (6-ounce) package medium egg noodles
6 green onions, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1 cup sour cream
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese
Garnish: fresh parsley sprigs
Cook ground beef in a large skillet over medium heat 5 to 6 minutes, stirring until it crumbles and is no longer pink. Drain.
Stir in chopped tomatoes and next 4 ingredients; cook 5 minutes. Add tomato paste and bay leaf, and simmer 30 minutes.
Cook egg noodles according to package directions; drain.
Stir together cooked egg noodles, chopped green onions, and sour cream until blended.
Place noodle mixture in bottom of a lightly greased 13- x 9-inch baking dish. Top with beef mixture; sprinkle evenly with cheeses.
Bake, covered with aluminum foil, at 350° for 35 minutes. Uncover casserole, and bake 5 more minutes. Garnish, if desired.
Note: Freeze casserole up to 1 month, if desired. Thaw in refrigerator overnight. Bake as directed.
To lighten: Substitute low-fat or fat-free sour cream and 2% reduced-fat Cheddar cheese. Reduce amount of cheeses on top to 1/2 cup each.
Southern Living, OCTOBER 2003

Prune Cake

I found this recipe on The Pioneer Woman. You can see photos of it there. I made it back in early February for a family gathering. I neglected to mention to anyone what the name of the cake is. I just called it "spice cake." There wasn't a piece left on the cake plate. It is so moist and delicious!
Give it a try and keep the ingredients secret until after it's been eaten.
Hands down, delicious!

Grandma Iny’s Prune CakeCake
1 cup prunes
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 cup canola oil
1 ½ cups flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
Cover prunes with water. Bring to a boil and cook until soft and mashable, about eight minutes.Remove from heat, drain water, and mash on a plate. Set aside.Sift together dry ingredients.Mix together oil, sugar, and eggs.Combine wet and dry ingredients, add buttermilk, and stir gently until just combined.Throw in the mashed pruned and stir gently to combine.DO NOT OVERMIX.
Pour batter into buttered baking dish (9 x 13 or so) and bake for 35 to 40 minutes.

While cake has five minutes remaining, make the icing:
1 cup sugar
½ cup buttermilk
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon white corn syrup
¼ cup butter
½ teaspoon vanilla
Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium heat and bring to a slow boil. Boil without stirring for 5 to 7 minutes, or until icing starts to turn dark. Do NOT allow icing to reach soft ball stage; icing should be caramel in color, but not sticky like caramel. Icing should be easily pourable.
Remove cake from oven and pour on icing immediately.
Allow to rest on the counter. Serve warm.
NOTE: There is absolutely zero “prune effect” associated with this cake. The end

Monday, March 2, 2009

Pumpkin Crisp

Tesa's Pumpkin Crisp
(not sure if it is really her recipe, but she gets credit for it as she introduced us to it)
1 box yellow cake mix
1 stick of melted butter
1 egg
*remove 1 cup of the cake mix for use later. mix the remaining cake mix, butter and egg in a bowl and then pat into a 9x13 cake pan.
1 can pumpkin
2 eggs
2/3 cup of evaporated milk
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
*mix pumpkin, eggs, milk and spices together and pour over the cake mix mixture.
1 cup yellow cake mix
3/4 cup sugar (I use 1/2 brown sugar and 1/2 granulated)
1 stick room temperature butter
*combine cake mix, sugar and butter in a bowl until mixed and sort of crumbly. crumble in small pieces on top of the pumpkin mixture.
bake in a 350 degree oven for 55 minutes or until it doesn't jiggle and is a nice carmelized brown color.
Serve warm with a spoonful of whipped cream.
** this is delicious! and one of our fall favorites.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

I found this recipe on Heidi Swapp's blog. They sounded good, so I gave them a try. OMG! They are fantastic. I love everything pumpkin and these don't disappoint! So good!

1 c. pumpkin
3/4 c. sugar
1/2 c. oil
1 egg
2 c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. milk
1 c. chocolate chips
1 tsp. vanilla
Nuts (optional)Dissolve baking soda in milk; set aside. In large bowl add pumpkin, sugar, oil, and egg; stir. Add flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and baking soda mixture. Mix well. Stir in chocolate chips and vanilla. Spoon onto cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees 10 to 12 minutes or until done.

Tuna Noodle Casserole

I've never been a fan of Tuna Noodle Casserole, but being that it's Lent, I figured we better come up with some that is liked by all and I do believe that this is it! The kids love the Goldfish crackers.

8 oz. dried egg noodles
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 (5 oz) can evaporated milk
1/3 cup chopped onion
1/3 cup Durkees French fried onions
1 can albacore tuna, packed in water, drained and flaked.
1 cup finely shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 cups frozen baby peas
1/2 tsp pepper (I used Penzy's Shallot Pepper, so good with anything!)
1 cup cheddar flavored goldfish crackers

Cook noodles, drain. Stir in soup and next 6 ingredients Pour into an 8x8 square casserole sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.
Cover and back at 350 F for 30 minutes. Sprinkle with crackers; continue to bake for 5 minutes uncovered. 4 servings.

**I learned on America's Test Kitchen that evaporated milk makes dishes like this creamy. Regular milk breaks down and separates during cooking. Evaporated milk, because it is already cooked, doesn't separate and remains a nice creamy texture.

Heavenly Hash

Everyone in Minnesota has eaten (or at least been served) this hot dish in some form or another . . . . commonly referred to as Beef Goulash or something like that.

2 T butter
1 onion, chopped
1 rib celery, sliced
1 green pepper, chopped
8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced (or 2 4 oz cans of sliced mushrooms, we never had fresh growing up)
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
8 ozs. egg noodles or macaroni noodles
8 ounce pack cream cheese
2 cups corn (frozen) or 15 ounce can
1 can crushed tomatoes

Heat oven to 350F
Melt butter in large skillet. Saute onion, celery, green pepper and mushrooms in butter; add ground beef, saute and breaking up meat, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, cook noodles according to package directions in salted water, being careful to not overcook. Cut cream cheese into small chunks and put in large bowl. When beef is cooked, drain excess fat and add to bowl with cr. cheese. Toss until all ingredients are coated with cream cheese. Drain noodles, add to bowl. Toss to combine. Add corn, toss and then add tomatoes. Turn mixture into a 2 qt baking dish and bake about 40-45 minutes, until well heated.

**this is a little bit different, the cream cheese is really a good addition, much better than grated cheddar. Also, I like a little bit of tomato rather than sauce or soup . . .so I changed to crushed tomatoes.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Asian Noodle Salad

Asian Noodle Salad
adapted from Jamie Oliver
1 packages linguine noodles, cooked, rinsed, and cooled
1/2 to 1 head sliced Napa cabbage1/2 to 1 head sliced purple cabbage1/2 to 1 bag baby spinach1 red bell pepper, sliced thin1 yellow bell pepper, sliced thin1 orange bell pepper, sliced thin (if available)1 small bag bean sprouts (also called “mung bean sprouts”)3 sliced scallions3 peeled, sliced cucumbers (I didn’t have a cucumber for the photos above, but they’re yummy in the salad)LOTS of chopped cilantro—up to one bunch1 can whole cashews, lightly toasted in skillet (again, I didn’t have them for the photos, but have used them before and they’re…sublime.)
Juice of 1 lime8 tablespoons olive oil2 tablespoons sesame oil6 tablespoons soy sauce1/3 cup brown sugar3 tablespoons fresh ginger, chopped2 cloves chopped garlic2 hot peppers or jalapenos, choppedMore chopped cilantro—LOTS
Mix together salad ingredients. Whisk together dressing ingredients and pour over salad. Mix with tongs or hands and serve on platter.*Dressing keeps up to three days before serving, WITHOUT cilantro.
Enjoy! This is sooo good. PW had it posted on her website and I tried it. Had to share it!

(courtesy of the Pioneer Woman)