Thursday, September 24, 2009

Chicken Cordon Bleu

This a non-breaded version of Chicken Cordon Bleu. I have made it with bacon, and without. Both ways are good, but I normally make it without since it bakes for 30 minutes less.
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
6 thin slices ham
Swiss cheese
3 slices bacon

1 c. sour cream
1 can cream of mushroom soup

Lay chicken breast on piece of saran wrap; cover with another piece of saran wrap. Pound to flatten with a glass jar bottom. Put slice of ham and then a piece of cheese about ½ inch square by width of cheese pkg. on breast, then roll. Fasten with toothpick, then arrange in a glass-baking dish so not touching. Put ½ slice of bacon over top, then bake, covered, at 350 for 30 minutes. Pour sauce over, then bake, covered, 1 hour.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Sauteed Zucchini with Thyme

Do you have zucchini coming out of your ears? It's that time of year, and if you have a garden that produces zucchini, you probably need things to do with it. Here is a quick tasty dish that you can cook up to accompany anything.

Sautee zucchini in a few tablespoons of butter. Add salt and fresh thyme. Sautee until zucchini is cooked through.

Sloppy Joes

1 lb. Ground beef, cooked and drained
1 can chicken gumbo soup
2 Tbsp. mustard
¼ c. ketchup
Mix together in skillet and heat 5 minutes.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Red Velvet Cake

I learned a very important lesson today. Replace your baking soda every now and then. I just haven't used it that much, so it's a kind of old box. I have made this recipe several times, but this time, I guess my baking soda was just too old. The cake layers sunk in the middle, so sorry about the bad picture.

I don't have three 8" cake pans, so I make this a two layer cake instead of three and pour the remaining batter into a 9" square pan .

Cake Batter:
1 cup butter, softened
3 cups white sugar
6 eggs
1 ounce red food coloring
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon white vinegar

2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese
12 ounces white chocolate
1 cup butter, softened

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Grease and flour three 8 inch pans.
In a large bowl, cream 1 cup butter with sugar. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix food coloring with cocoa and add to mixture.
Add flour alternately with buttermilk. Add vanilla and salt.
Mix baking soda with vinegar, and gently stir into mixture. Be careful not to over mix.
Divide batter into three prepared 8 inch round pans. Bake at 325 degrees F (165 degrees C) for 25 minutes. Allow to cool.
To make the White Chocolate Cream Cheese Icing: Melt the white chocolate and allow to cool to lukewarm. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in melted white chocolate and softened butter. Beat until it is the consistency of whipped cream, then use to fill and frost the cake.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Alfredo Pasta

Alfredo pasta is a staple at our house. I have tried several different recipes that come close to Olive Garden's alfredo sauce, but this one is the closest so far. I added some grilled chicken to the sauce.

Olive Garden Alfredo Sauce
1 stick unsalted butter
½ Tbsp. minced garlic
2 Tbsp. flour
1/3 cup milk
1 C heavy cream
½ C parmesan cheese
¼ tsp black pepper
Melt the butter on low setting. Add minced garlic when butter is about halfway melted. Add flour when butter is completely melted. Add milk and heavy cream and bring to a boil. Turn heat down and wait about 5-10 minutes. Add parmesan cheese, and pepper. Sauce should start to thicken. Let cool about 10 minutes before serving over pasta.
I use my pizza dough recipe to make breadsticks. I add about 1/2 tsp. of garlic powder to the dough and then roll them into strips. Braid the strips together and bake at 375 for 10-15 minutes.
Pizza Dough
1 ½ c. flour
½ tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. oil
1 pkg. active dry yeast
½ c. warm water
Mix yeast in water. Add flour, salt and oil. Knead well. Cover with cloth and let rise approximately 15-30 minutes.

Apple Pie

Apple Pie Filling
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, plus more for sprinkling
Freshly ground nutmeg, to taste
7 medium apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
1 lemon, zested and juiced

3 tablespoons butter, diced
Egg wash, for brushing
Sugar, for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
Mix together the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a small bowl. In another bowl, sprinkle apples with the juice of 1 lemon and toss. Stir in the sugar mixture to evenly coat the apples.
Set aside. Roll out chilled dough into 2 circles and use 1 round to line a 9-inch pie pan. Chill the other round.
Mound the apple and sugar mixture into the pie pan lined with dough. Dot with the cubed butter.
Using a pastry cutter, cut an even number of strips from the remaining rolled out dough. Transfer every other strip to the pie top and weave in the lattice by folding every other strip back onto itself and laying another strip perpendicularly. Fold the strips back across and repeat until completed.
Brush the top of the pie with egg wash and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. Trim the overhanging dough and crimp edges.
Bake pie for 45 minutes. Let rest 20 minutes before slicing.
*I made the top crust of this pie by using a cookie cutter on the rolled out dough. Lightly place the cut-out shapes (I did apples) in a pattern on top of the pie before crimping the edges.

Barbecue Spare Ribs

This dish is good for people who aren't a fan of traditional barbecue sauce, or even for those who are.

Use Boneless Pork Country Style Spare Ribs
In a gallon size baggie, combine:
1 tsp. celery seed
1 tsp. chili powder
½ c. brown sugar
Shake ribs into sack to coat. Brown for 30 minutes at 500 in a 9x13 baking dish.
Meanwhile in a bowl mix:
1 can tomato sauce
¼ c. vinegar
Little bit of water to desired consistency
Place browned ribs in 9x13 baking dish and pour sauce over. Sprinkle leftover seasoning mixture on top. Bake at 350 for 1 hour.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Apple Stuffed Pork Chops

When I buy pork chops, I buy them really thick (seriously, they are like 2-2 1/2 inches thick). This makes stuffing pork chops easy, but it does take longer to cook. This is where the meat thermometer comes in. I highly recommend getting one if you don't already have one. With this recipe, I also used my meat injector and injected apple juice into the pork, which made it a bit more moist.
1 tablespoon chopped onion
1/4 cup butter
1 1/2 cups bread crumbs
2 cups chopped apples
1/4 C apple juice
1/4 tsp celery seed
2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 thick pork chops
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). In a large skillet saute onion in butter until tender. Remove from heat. Add the bread crumbs, apples, celery seed, parsley and salt. Mix all together. Cut a large pocket in the side of each pork chop; season inside and out with salt and pepper to taste. Spoon apple mixture loosely into pockets. In skillet, heat oil to medium high and brown chops on both sides. Place browned chops in an ungreased 9x13 inch baking dish. Cover with aluminum foil and bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes. Remove cover and bake for 25 minutes longer or until juices run clear and internal temperature of the pork is 160.

Green Beans with Slivered Almonds

This is an easy side dish that is more than just vegetables.
Cook frozen green beans in microwave (covered) for 2 minutes. While green beans are cooking, saute slivered almonds in 1 Tbsp. butter (not margarine). Add slightly cooked green beans and salt to taste, and saute until green beans are cooked through.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Curried Orange Chicken

½ tsp. curry powder
2 Tbsp. honey
2 tsp. cornstarch
½ orange, peeled, sliced and quartered
¼ C. orange juice
1 Tbsp. prepared mustard
1 Tbsp. cold water
1-2 lbs. chicken, cut up, or 2 chicken breasts
Sprinkle chicken pieces with curry powder and rub into meat. Arrange chicken in small baking dish, skin down. Combine orange juice, honey, and mustard in small saucepan; simmer until blended. Pour over chicken. Bake at 375 for 30 minutes. Turn chicken and continue baking for 20 minutes, or until tender. Remove chicken and keep warm. In small saucepan, combine cornstarch and water. Stir in pan juices from chicken. Cook and stir until thick and bubbly. Add orange pieces. Heat for 1 minute. Serve sauce separately. Serves 2. We normally double the sauce, too.

Ruth's Chris Sweet Potatoes

Sweet Potato Mixture
3 cups mashed sweet potatoes
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs -- well beaten
1 stick butter -- (1/2 cup) melted

1 cup brown sugar
1/6 cup flour
1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 stick butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine sweet potatoes, sugar, salt, vanilla, eggs and butter in a mixing bowl in the order listed. Mix thoroughly. Pour mixture into buttered 9x9 baking dish. Sprinkle the surface of the sweet potato mixture evenly with the crust mixture. Bake for 30 minutes. Allow to set at least 30 minutes before serving. (I also broiled it for a few minutes after I baked it to finish off the topping a bit more)

Macaroni and Cheese

Macaroni and Cheese
4 Tbsp. butter
4 Tbsp. flour
2 C. milk
1 tsp. garlic powder
2 cups cheddar cheese
1 c. Mozzarella cheese
½ C. Parmesan cheese
Salt and Pepper to taste
Macaroni noodles, cooked according to directions on box
Melt butter over medium low heat. Mix in flour and stir until smooth. Heat until bubbly, stirring constantly to prevent flour from burning. Slowly add milk while stirring to prevent clumping. Cook over low heat until thickened and bubbly. Add cheeses, garlic, salt and pepper. Cook until cheese has all melted. Add to cooked macaroni noodles.

Cafe Rio anyone?

I am not normally a salad person. In fact, it is very rare that you will find me eating a salad, but here is one that I will eat all the time. There is a Mexican food chain restaurant nearby called Cafe Rio. They have a great pork salad. In it you have: pork barbacoa, black beans (or pinto beans), rice, cilantro, tortilla strips, guacamole, pico de gallo, and a tomatillo dressing that is great. These are the recipes for the dressing and the pork. There are a lot of copy cat recipes out there for these items, but I think these come the closest.

Cafe Rio Pork Barbacoa
5-6 lb. pork roast
21 oz. Dr. Pepper (or Coke, do NOT use diet soda)
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
1 clove garlic, minced
7 oz. can chipotle chilies in adobo sauce
6-ish oz. red taco sauce (I used hot)
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
Place roast in crock-pot, cover half-way with water and cook on low for 12 hours. (I started my Pork Adventure at midnight and everything worked out perfectly for Sunday dinner at 6:00 pm.) After 12 hours, drain pork (retain liquid if you want sauce for burritos, simply mix with a can of verde enchilada sauce and away you go).
Mix remaining ingredients until sugar dissolves. I didn't keep the actual chilies, I dumped the can into a bowl and added enough Dr. Pepper to get all the sauce off of the chilies, then I tossed them. I also rinsed out the can with Dr. Pepper for more adobo goodness. My version had a fairly good kick to it, but if you LOVE hotness, then blend everything + 2 or 3 chilies in the blender. (Also, the adobo sauce tends to stain plastic, using a glass or metal mixing bowl will make your clean-up of adobo sauce considerably less frustrating).
Add Dr. Pepper mixture to the roast and cook on low an additional 4 hours.
Take out roast and shred, add back into sauce and cook for 2 more hours. At this point the meat was so tender it practically shredded itself.

Cafe Rio Creamy Tomatillo Dressing
2 tomatillos, quarter
1/2 bunch cilantro leaves
1 cup milk
1 pkg. ranch dressing mix
1 tsp garlic, minced
pinch cayenne pepper
1 large jalapeno
1 Tbsp lime juice
1 cup mayo
Blend tomatillos then add all the ingredients except mayo and blend together. Stir in mayo, chill and serve.

French Dip Sandwiches

French Dip Sandwiches
1 (3 to 4 lb.) roast of your choice
1/3 c. soy sauce
1 envelope onion soup mix

Brown roast in skillet. Transfer to crock pot. Add soy sauce and soup mix. Add just enough water to cover roast. Cook on low for 7 to 9 hours. Shred beef and serve on rolls or buns. Serve crock pot juices on the side as au jus.

Brie in Puff Pastry

This makes a great appetizer when served with crackers.

Brie in puff pastry
8 oz Brie round
One sheet of puff pastry, thawed
2 Tablespoons sliced almonds, toasted
One of the following: 1/4 cup cranberry sauce, or 1/4 cup apricot preserves, or 1/4 cup raspberry preserves

Preheat oven to 425F. Lightly grease a cookie sheet. Lay puff pastry sheet in the center. Cut Brie in half, so you have two rounds. Lay the bottom round on the puff pastry and top with the 1/4 cup cranberry sauce or preserves. Top that with the almonds and then the other half of the brie. Fold the puff pastry up around the brie so you have a little purse/bag. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes (depends on your oven) or until golden brown. Serve with crackers or just eat with a fork!

Butter Cookies

Lorelei begged for blue frosting, so that's what she got.

Butter Cookies
1 C butter, softened
½ C. granulated sugar
1 unbeaten egg
3 tsp. vanilla
3 C sifted flour
½ tsp. baking powder

Mix butter, sugar and egg thoroughly. Stir in vanilla. Sift together flour and baking powder. Stir into butter mixture. If you want, chill dough and roll onto floured surface, or you can drop by spoonful onto a greased cookie sheet and press down with a fork. Bake at 425 for 5-7 minutes. Do not overcook. Frost with butter frosting. Makes 2-3 dozen.

Raspberry Chicken

6 boneless chicken breasts
1/2 C. raspberry preserves (fruit type only)
1/2 C. frozen pineapple juice concentrate (thawed)
1/2 C. soy sauce
2 T. rice wine vinegar
1/2 t. chili powder
1/2 t. curry powder
1/2 t. garlic powder
1/4 C. fresh raspberries mashed
1/4 C. fresh raspberries
Combine preserves, pineapple juice concentrate, soy sauce, vinegar, spices and crushed raspberries. Add chicken to a baking dish. Pour the sauce over it. Bake covered for 35 - 40 minutes at 350°F. Remove from oven and transfer chicken to serving platter. Top with pan juices. Garnish with fresh berries.

Bread Bowls and Clam Chowder

Now I know it is not quite soup season yet, but how can you resist this, even in the summer?
Bread Bowls
½ C. warm water
1 C. warm milk
2 Tbsp. butter, softened
1 ½ tsp. salt
4 C. flour
2 pkg. yeast
1 egg, beaten
Pour ingredients into a bread machine in the order suggested by the manufacturer. Select dough cycle. After about five minutes of mixing, add 1-2 Tbsp water or flour if needed. Complete dough cycle on bread machine. Divide dough into four equal parts and shape into balls. Place on greased baking sheets. Cover and let rise until doubled (about 30 minutes). Brush tops with egg. Bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes. Cool on wire racks. Slice off top ¼ of bread bowl and hollow out. Save the extra bread to dip in your soup.
Clam Chowder
1 c. chopped onion
1 c. diced celery
1 c. diced potatoes
2 cans minced clams
¾ c. butter
¾ c. flour
1 qt. half and half
1 ½ tsp. salt
Pepper to taste
½ tsp. sugar
Drain clams juice from canned clams into saucepan. Add vegetables and water to barely cover. Simmer covered over medium heat until tender (about 20 minutes). Melt butter and add flour. Cook one minute. Add half and half. Stir with wire whisk until thick. Add undrained vegetables, clams and sugar. Heat through.

Best Cornbread

I was never a big fan of cornbread growing up, unless it was my mom's. I did not like how dry it was, and I still don't. I am posting my mom's recipe for cornbread that really is the best cornbread. It isn't dry like other recipes are.

Mom’s Cornbread
2 c. Flour
1 c. Cornmeal
1/4 c. Sugar
3 tsp. Baking powder
1 3/4-2 c. Milk
1/2 tsp. Salt
1 egg
1/3 c. Oil

Pour into greased loaf pan and bake at 350 for about an hour.

Pie Crust

I have always had a hard time getting pie crusts just right. My first Thanksgiving that I did not go to my mother's house I tried to make pies, and failed! I made three batches of pie crust and ruined every one of them. I have finally found a recipe that works well and I find pretty easy. My sister gave this recipe to me last year.
Easy Pie Crust (for a 2-crust pie)
2 1/2 c. flour, plus extra for rolling out the dough
2 T. sugar
1 tsp. salt
8 T. shortening, cut into 1/2-inch pieces and chilled
12 T. unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces and chilled (I didn't have unsalted so I used salted and a tiny bit less salt, and it turned out great too)
6 to 8 T. ice water

Process the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor until combined. Scatter the shortening over the top and process until the mixture has the texture of coarse sand, about 10 seconds. Scatter the butter pieces over the top and, using short pulses, process the mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs, about 10 pulses. Transfer to a bowl.

Sprinkle 6 T. of the ice water over the mixture. Stir and press the dough together, using a stiff rubber spatula until the dough sticks together. If the dough does not come together, stir in the remaining water, 1 T. at a time, until it does.

Divide the dough into two even pieces and flatten each into a 4-inch disk. Wrap the disks tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. Let the chilled dough soften slightly at room temperature before rolling it out and fitting the bottom crust into a pie plate. (I didn't really let it soften, and it was still great for rolling.)

To Make Ahead: The dough can be refrigerated, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, for up to 2 days or frozen for up to 2 months. Let the frozen dough thaw on the counter top until malleable before rolling.

Cinnamon Rolls

Cinnamon rolls are something that are very hard to get wrong. I found a recipe that works well in my bread machine (yes, sometimes I cheat).
Cinnamon Rolls

½ cup milk
½ cup water
1/8 cup butter
¾ teaspoons salt
3 cups all-purpose flour
¾ tablespoons active dry yeast
¼ cup white sugar
1 egg
2 ½ Tbsp butter, softened
¾ teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/3 cup white sugar
1/3 cup raisins (optional)
1/3 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
1 cups confectioners' sugar
1 ½ tablespoons butter, melted
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ½ tablespoons milk

In saucepan, heat 1 cup milk, water, and 1/8 cup butter until very warm (butter doesn't need to be completely melted). Place milk mixture, salt, flour, yeast, sugar, and eggs in the pan of the bread machine in the order suggested by the manufacturer. Select the Dough cycle. Press Start.

Once Dough cycle is complete, remove the dough from the bread machine. Punch down, and divide into 2 parts. On a floured surface, roll each part into a large rectangle. Smear each rectangle with the softened butter. Combine the cinnamon and sugar. Sprinkle over the rectangles. Generously sprinkle the raisins and/or chopped nuts over the top.

Roll the dough up into two logs starting at the long side. Cut each log into 12 slices. Place the rolls cut side down into two 9x13 inch greased baking pans. Cover, and let rise in a warm place until almost doubled (about 30 minutes).

Bake in a preheated 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden. Combine the confectioners' sugar, 3 tablespoons melted butter, vanilla, and 3 tablespoons milk. Frosting should be thick. Spread over baked rolls and enjoy.

It's that time of year again!

Yes, it's jam season. The fruit is ripe and ready to be made into jam. My family and I went berry picking yesterday and came home with quite a haul of raspberries and blackberries.
Today I made blackberry jam. This is my personal favorite type of jam. Especially when it is made with the right recipe. I like to use Sure-Jell pectin. I use the recipe that is printed right inside the package. For blackberry and raspberry jam, it takes 1 package of fruit pectin, 5 cups of crushed berries, and 7 cups of sugar.
Bring the berries and pectin to a full rolling boil (the kind of boil that cannot be stirred down), then add the sugar all at once. Stir constantly and bring the mixture back to a rolling boil. Boil for one minute, then remove from heat.
Pour into jars and process.