Thursday, December 20, 2012

Gingerbread Cookies

recipe from my Mom

Merry Christmas!  These little gingerbread cookies are fun for kids to make and eat and your house will smell amazing while they are baking.  (My toddler was asleep while I was making these, or these might have turned out more like scary Halloween cookies rather than cute little Christmas gingerbread people! :)  It can be quite a project to make the cookies and frost all in one day, so you may want to make the cookies and then freeze them until you are ready to decorate. It makes them a little less time intensive.

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses
1 egg
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

Combine butter, brown sugar, molasses and egg and beat until fluffy.  Add the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and allspice and beat until blended.  Cover dough and refrigerate for 1-2 hours. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Roll out dough to 1/4 inch thickness and then cut into desired shapes. Place on greased cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes.  

I used this glace icing to decorate the cookies. There is also an awesome tutorial on decorating cookies with this icing technique at Our Best Bites

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Almond Poppyseed Muffins

recipe from bake-aholic.com

Sometimes there is nothing like a warm, fresh muffin for breakfast and these muffins come together so easily that there isn't really any excuse not to enjoy them whenever you want.  We devoured these at our house.  I guess that means we can make them again soon!

1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
1 egg
1/2 teaspoons almond extract
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup milk
1 1/3 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 Tablespoons poppy seed
3 teaspoons sugar
sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line 12 muffin cups with paper baking cups (or spray them very well).  In a large bowl, stir together 1/2 cup sugar, the oil, egg, and almond.  Beat in sour cream and milk with a spoon until blended.  Stir in flour, baking powder, salt, soda, and poppy seed until well blended.  Divide batter evenly among muffin cups.  Sprinkle batter with 3 teaspoons sugar and the almonds.  Bake for 14-17 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Remove from pan and cool on wire rack. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Butternut Squash Soup

recipe slightly adapted from Our Best Bites

Delightful recipe for this time of year. I have made this soup several times for my family and they love it.  I love it because it is packed with vegetables and my toddler doesn't even give it a second thought!  It is a very light soup, so I usually make it with a grilled ham and cheese sandwich or a nice crusty panini.  For a little more money, you can save yourself some time and buy the butternut squash already cubed at Costco, or you can go for the experience of peeling and slicing one yourself. Either way, this soup is definitely a seasonal favorite.

1/2 Tbsp canola oil
1 Tbsp butter (You could omit the butter and use 1 Tbsp canola oil for vegetarian recipe)
1/2 cup sliced carrots (about 1 medium or 12 baby ones)
2 stalks celery, diced
1 cup diced onion
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1 medium butternut squash, (about 4 cups peeled and diced)
32 oz chicken broth (that's one box/carton) (You could substitute vegetable broth here for a vegetarian recipe)
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon dried sage
1 pinch cayenne pepper or douse of hot sauce

In a large stock pot, heat oil and butter. When butter is melted, add onions, carrots, celery, and garlic.  Saute for 2-3 minutes or until onion is tender.  Add the squash. Then add potato, sage, salt, red pepper, and chicken broth. Bring to a boil and then turn down to a simmer.  Simmer with the lid on for 30-40 minutes or until everything is tender. check a piece of squash and also a piece of celery and potato to make sure they are fork tender.  Stir in 1 tablespoon brown sugar.

Use an immersion blender, or let soup cool and transfer to a regular blender and puree until smooth.  

Drizzle with sour cream or heavy cream and garnish with a little parsley and some croutons.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Garlic Roasted Pork Loin with Raspberry Chipotle Glaze

recipe slightly adapted from The Food Network

I was searching for a recipe one day and came across this recipe from the Food Network.  I had some leftover chipotle chilies in adobo sauce from making this amazing chipotle chicken taco salad and decided to try this pork loin recipe.  The glaze was so delicious.  I think it would be a perfect menu item for a holiday party.  I also made the accompanying wild rice and cranberry dressing, but wasn't as big of a fan of that.  I will definitely make the pork loin again, though.

Raspberry Chipotle Glaze
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup small diced onion
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 teaspoons chipotle chilies in adobo, chopped
2 pints fresh raspberries, rinsed (I think you could have success with frozen raspberries as well)
1/2 cup raspberry vinegar (I used red wine vinegar with pomegranate)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat.  Add the onions and cook, stirring until soft and slightly caramelized, 4 minutes.  Add the garlic to the pan and saute for 1 minute. Add the chipotles and cook, stirring continuously, for 1 minute.  Add the raspberries and cook until soft, 2-3 minutes.  Add the vinegar and stir to deglaze the pan.  Add the sugar and salt, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until thickened and reduced by half, 8-10 minutes.  Remove from the heat and strain through a fine mesh strainer, pressing on the solids with the back of a spoon to extract as much liquid as possible. 

Garlic Roasted Pork Loin
2 1/2 to 3 1/2 pound pork loin 
8 large garlic cloves, peeled and sliced in half lengthwise
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh sage
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
olive oil
2 Tablespoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

For the pork loin, preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Add oil to a large skillet until bottom is coated.  Season the pork loin with salt and pepper.  Sear the pork in the skillet on all sides until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes per side.  

In a food processor, combine the garlic, rosemary, sage, and thyme.  Process until smooth.  Add enough oil to make the mixture a good, spreadable consistency.  Season with salt and pepper.  

Remove the pork from the heat.  Carefully rub the garlic/herb mixture over the pork loin. Place pork on a roasting pan and roast until an instant read thermometer inserted into the center of the roast registers an internal temperature of 165 degrees F, about 40-45 minutes.  Five minutes before removing the roast from the oven, evenly spread the glaze over the top.  Remove the from oven and tent with aluminum foil to keep warm. Let rest for 10-15 minutes before carving.  Drizzle with leftover glaze.  





Monday, October 29, 2012

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread

recipe from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

It is the time of year for all things pumpkin and this pumpkin bread recipe does not disappoint!  Mel from Mel's Kitchen Cafe  says that it tastes best when it has cooled completely for a few hours and even better the next day.  It is true... I tried a piece warm out of the oven, one a few hours later, and one after I had stored it in my refrigerator overnight, and it was definitely the tastiest the next day!  (Leave it to me to experiment with all three scenarios!)  

Recipe makes 2 (9x5 inch loaves) or 3 (8x4 inch loaves)

2 1/2 cups white flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
3 cups sugar (I got away with about 2 1/2 - 2 3/4 cups and it still tasted wonderful)
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
1 (15 oz) can pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
1 cup canola oil
4 large eggs
2/3 cup water
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease two 9x5 inch loaf pans (or three 8x4 inch loaf pans).  In a  large bowl, mix flours, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt together.  Set aside.  In a medium bowl, whisk together canned pumpkin, oil, eggs, and 2/3 cup water until well combined and stir into dry ingredients, just until the dry ingredients are moistened and no dry streaks remain.  Stir in chocolate chips. Pour batter into prepared pans.

Bake the bread for 60-70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Remove the bread from the oven and let sit for 10-15 minutes.  Run a knife gently around the edge of the bread and turn bread out, right side up, onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Judy's Sugar Cookies with Glace Icing

sugar cookie recipe from my Mom, Glace Icing recipe from Our Best Bites

I love Halloween!  I love Fall!  And ever since I can remember, my Mom would make these darling sugar cookies around Halloween. We would use chocolate chips to make the Jack O' Lantern faces, but I wanted to try making them with the Glace Icing that the gals from Our Best Bites have posted on their website.  It was so fun and easy!  The thing I love about the glace icing is how cute the cookies turn out. They look more like bakery cookies and less like cookies I have made with my toddler!  I was so proud of how these turned out. ** Be sure to go over to the Glace Icing tutorial at Our Best Bites to see how you use different consistencies of icing for covering the cookie and for piping.  I also love how after you let the icing set, you can stack them without worrying about sticking, so it makes them perfect for giving away as cute little treats for the neighbors.... has anyone else been "BOOED"  lately? So here are the recipes!  I hope you enjoy them.  Happy Halloween! :)


Judy's Sugar Cookies
* this recipe makes approximately 68 cookies

2 cups butter or margarine
2 cups sugar
6 eggs
7 cups flour
6 tsp baking powder
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp almond extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter and sugar in stand mixer.  Add eggs, vanilla, almond extract and mix.  Then add baking powder, and flour a cup at a time to reach desired consistency.  Dough can be stored in refrigerator or used immediately.  Roll out to approximately 1/4 inch thickness and cut into desired shapes.  Bake on greased cookie sheet for 8-10 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool on cookie sheet for 3-5 minutes, then place cookies on cooling rack until completely cool.

Glace Icing

1 lb. powdered sugar (3 3/4 cups)
6 Tbsp whole milk
6 tbsp light corn syrup 
1 tsp extract (for our Halloween cookies my Mom always used Anise extract which gives the icing a black licorice flavor. I LOVE it, my husband hates it.  You can use vanilla or almond extract, whatever you prefer.)

With a whisk, combine sugar and milk until smooth.  Then stir in corn syrup and extract. You will use this same recipe for both glazing and piping. Thickened, you can pipe outlines, and as you thin it, you can use it for “flooding” cookies.  Make sure to let them dry overnight to fully harden for stacking. 

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Southwestern Chicken Barley Chili

recipe from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

Okay, I am still trying to hone my food photography skills.  Although this picture isn't my proudest effort, I want you to know that this chili is really delicious.  Check out Mel's picture from Mel's Kitchen Cafe for a picture that does this chili some justice.  It is a wonderfully hearty, delicious chili perfect for these cooler autumn nights.  Give it a shot. It has made several appearances at our dinner table and is truly tasty. Hope you like it!

*Serves 6-8

1 (14.5 ounce) can of diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (16 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 3/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup medium barley (not quick cooking)
4 cups water
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
dash cayenne pepper (more or less to taste)
2-3 boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 pounds), cut into bite-size pieces
1 (15 ounce) can black beans (rinsed and drained)
1 1/2 cups frozen corn kernels

suggested garnishes:  shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, sliced green onions, tortilla chips

In a large pot (about 6 quarts), combine the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, chicken broth, barley, water, chili powder, cumin, dried oregano and cayenne (if using). Stir well.  Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat and add the chicken. Stir to combine.  Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer the chili for 40 minutes, until the barley is tender and chewy and the chicken is no longer pink. Stir occasionally, while it simmers to prevent sticking and to make sure it stays at a steady simmer. After 40 minutes, add the beans and corn. Stir to combine and simmer for five more minutes.  Serve the chili with optional garnishes, if desired.

The chili will thicken considerably upon cooling.  Add chicken broth or water as needed to achieve a desirable consistency (especially if reheating the leftovers).

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Super Moist Chocolate Zucchini Cake

recipe from Jamie Cooks it Up

I don't know if my life will ever be the same. This chocolate zucchini cake is truly that good.  Usually I make a spice zucchini cake, but for the chocolate lover in all of us, this chocolate zucchini cake is truly out of this world!  Try it, you won't regret it.

And a note to all those who are trying to be health conscious and leave the peel of the zucchini on when you shred it for the extra vitamins (am I the only one that does this?), DON'T do it.  I was tempted to, but decided to follow the recipe exactly as it is.  In previous zucchini cakes and breads, I have left the peel on and it just doesn't result in the same consistency. It doesn't blend in well. If you peel and then shred your zucchini, you can't even tell the zucchini is there and your cake takes on a wonderful, moist and uniform consistency.  Let's just be honest... this is an indulgent treat and leaving the peel on for the extra vitamins is not really going to make a whole lot of difference. This is not a "healthy treat" even if you are trying to justify it by saying that there is a vegetable in there. So there is what I have learned about shredded zucchini. Take it for what it is worth. :)

Here's the life-changing recipe ... enjoy! :)

Cake:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup canola oil
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups flour
4 Tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup buttermilk (or 1/2 cup milk + 1 teaspoon vinegar)
2 cups shredded zucchini

Topping:
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup pecans, chopped (We don't like nuts at our house, so I didn't add these to my cake)
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Into your stand mixer or large mixing bowl, place 1/2 cup butter, 1/2 cup canola oil, 1 3/4 cups sugar and 2 eggs. Mix well for about 3 minutes.  Into a medium sized mixing bowl place 2 1/2 cups flour, 4 Tablespoons cocoa, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon cloves and 1 teaspoon baking soda.  Whisk until all dry ingredients are well distributed.  Pour 1/2 cup buttermilk and 1 teaspoon vanilla into the mixer.  Add the dry ingredients and mix until everything is well combined.  Spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray and pour batter in.  Spread around with a knife.  Roughly chop up pecans (or not), and pour pecans, 1/2 cup brown sugar and 1 cup chocolate chips into the same mixing bowl you used for the dry ingredients. Toss the topping ingredients together and sprinkle them over the top of the cake batter.  Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Serve warm from the oven, preferably with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  


Monday, August 6, 2012

Cheddar Herb Bread

recipe adapted from my friend Nicole S.

This is a wonderful quick bread recipe that would be a perfect savory accompaniment to your favorite soup or salad. It has a slightly crumbly texture similar to a biscuit. I have a Tomato Basil Bisque recipe I am going to try this fall when it cools off a bit that I think would go perfectly with this bread. Maybe I won't be able to wait until fall!

Bread Mix:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 Tablespoon dried cilantro or parsley (I used parsley)
1 Tablespoon dried rosemary
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

For the bread mix, you can combine the dry ingredients in a resealable plastic bag or container and store up to 1 month.

To make the bread, preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease a 8x4x2 inch loaf pan.  Place bread mix in a bowl.  With a pastry blender, cut in 1/4 cup butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Stir in 4 ounces (about 1/2 cup) shredded sharp cheddar or white cheddar cheese.  In a bowl, combine 3/4 cup milk and 1 egg, slightly beaten. *I also added about 1/2 cup frozen spinach chopped fine to the wet ingredients.  Add to crumb mixture all at once.  Stir quickly with a fork to moisten.  (Make sure the batter is moist throughout, but try not to over-mix.) Spread in prepared pan.  Bake 45 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes.  Turn loaf out onto wire rack and cool completely.  Makes about 12 servings.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Garlic Crusted Sliced Pork Loin with Fresh Succotash

recipe adapted from foodnetwork.com

Succotash?  Ever heard of that?  Remember good old Sylvester the cat off of Looney Tunes always saying, "Sufferin' succotash!"  Well, little did I know that it is an actual dish.  I came across this recipe and thought that with sweet corn being in season it would be the perfect time to try it out. 

Pork Loin:
1/4 cup dijon mustard
1 Tbsp kosher salt
1 Tbsp fresh thyme, chopped fine (I used about 3/4 Tbsp dried thyme)
1/2 tsp black pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced fine
3 pounds boneless pork loin, trimmed and tied

Succotash:
2 cups frozen baby lima beans
Kosher salt
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
4-6 ears fresh sweet corn, scraped from the cob
1/3 cup heavy cream (I used evaporated milk)
1 teaspoon sugar
Freshly ground black pepper
2 shakes paprika
2 Tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley (I used about 1 Tbsp dried parsley)

To make the pork loin, place the mustard, salt, thyme, pepper and garlic in a food processor. Process until the mixture resembles a coarse paste.  Rub the paste over the surface of the pork and allow pork to sit for 30 minutes at room temperature, or in the refrigerator for up to 6 hours. If refrigerated, allow roast to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before roasting.  Roast the pork for 30-50 minutes, check internal temperature with a meat thermometer.  The temperature should read 140 degrees F.  (I cooked mine to 150 degrees F because that is what my meat thermometer recommended for fresh pork.) Remove the pork as soon as it reaches the correct temperature, cover with foil and let rest for 15 minutes.

To make the succotash, place the beans in a saucepan and cover with salted water.  Simmer until tender, 6-8 minutes.  Drain the beans, and using the same saucepan, add the butter and  corn and saute quickly, about 2 minutes.  Add the cream, sugar, beans, and salt and pepper. Cook over low heat for about 3 minutes more.  

Spoon the succotash into 6 shallow bowls, sprinkle with paprika and parsley.  Top each with 3-4 (1/2-1 inch) slices of the pork loin and serve.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Braided Sandwich Loaf

 recipe adapted from Jamie Cooks it Up and Mel's Kitchen Cafe

There are several variations you can experiment with when making this sandwich loaf.  We have tried barbeque chicken, ham and cheese, and the latest (pictured below) is a pepperoni and cheese combination.  It turned out great and is a lot like a calzone.  


I used the recipe and instructions from Jamie Cooks it Up, but as far as getting the whole idea of the braiding technique, I really like the tutorial on Mel's Kitchen Cafe.  So, here's the recipe!
*Recipe makes 2 large sandwich loaves

Dough:
1 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp salt (I used a little bit less)
1 cup boiling water
1 cup cold water
1/3 cup lukewarm water
1 Tbsp yeast
5-6 cups flour
1 egg

Filling:
You can choose what variation you would like.  For the sandwich braid pictured above, I used pepperoni slices, this pizza sauce, and shredded mozzarella cheese. 

You could also use slices of deli meat (about 16 slices) and your choice of cheese (about 8 slices).

Barbeque sauce, shredded or sliced cooked chicken, sliced red onion, and mozzarella cheese would make a delicious loaf.

Be creative!

1. To make the dough, dissolve 1 Tbsp yeast in 1/3 cup lukewarm water.
2.  In the bottom of a stand mixer, mix the sugar, salt and butter together with a fork until well combined.
3.  Pour the boiling water over the sugar mixture.
4.  Pour the cold water over the sugar mixture.
5. Pour the yeast/water mixture over the sugar mixture.
6.  Add the flour 1 cup at a time while mixing.  You know you have enough flour with the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl.
7.  Once you have enough flour, knead the dough on high for 7-8 minutes.
8.  Let the dough rest for 2 minutes in the bowl.
9.  Divide the dough into 2 equal parts and let them rest on a cookie sheet sprayed with cooking spray for about 5 minutes.
10.  Sprinkle your surface with a small amount of flour and roll the dough out into a large rectangle.  Using a pizza cutter, cut 11-12 one inch wide strips along both longs sides of the rectangle. Be sure to leave about 5 inches down the center uncut. You want to leave room for your fillings.
11.  Place pepperoni down the center of the dough and then spread enough pizza sauce over the top to cover the pepperoni.  Sprinkle cheese over the sauce.  (If you are using a sauce, try to put a "drier" ingredient on the bottom layer and then cover with sauce.  I have found that if you put the sauce on the bottom layer, the bottom of your loaf tends to be a little soggy.)
12.  Over lap the dough strips in the center over the top of your fillings.  (Again, see Mel's Kitchen Cafe for a great tutorial on how to do this.)
13.  Place the sandwich loaf on a large cookie sheet sprayed with cooking spray or lined with a silpat.
14.  Beat the egg with a fork until frothy. Brush the egg all over the loaf.  Sprinkle with desired seasonings on top.  I used freshly grated Parmesan cheese.  Depending on the type of loaf you have made, you could also top with poppy seeds, sesame seeds, Montreal Steak Seasoning, dried onions, or cheese.
15.  Repeat these steps with the other piece of dough.
16.  Let the dough rise in a warm oven (about 170 degrees) for about 20 minutes.
17.  While loaves are still in the oven, turn oven up to 400 degrees and bake for about 15 minutes.  
18.  When the loaves are golden brown on top, turn the oven down to 350 degrees, and switch the pan on the bottom rack to the top. Bake for another 5-7 minutes.
19.  Let the loaves rest for about 5 minutes, then cut and serve.



Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Reese's Peanut Butter Bars

recipe from Our Best Bites


So, I just realized that I have posted a peanut butter/chocolate combination recently when I shared the Reese's Chewy Chocolate Cookie recipe a couple of weeks ago.  I don't know... read into it what you want.  I don't feel that stressed in my life right now, but it would appear that subconsciously I am drawn to insanely indulgent treats with peanut butter and chocolate right now.  :)  One of my favorite candy bars is Reese's peanut butter cups, and I don't know that my life will ever be the same after making these peanut butter bars. They taste so much like Reese's! They are truly sinful.  So, my suggestion is to make these when you have an occasion to share them or you will be cursing me when you are working them off at the gym.  Enjoy!  I know you will!

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (about 1 1/2 packages)
1 lb (3 1/2 cups) powdered sugar
1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
1 cup (2 sticks) real butter, melted
1 12 oz bag chocolate chips
*extra scoop of peanut butter

In a large mixing bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs, powdered sugar, peanut butter and butter and beat until combined.  Press into a parchment (or waxed paper or foil) lined 9x13 pan.

Place chocolate chips and *extra scoop of peanut butter in a microwave safe bowl and heat in 30 second intervals, stirring after each one, until melted and smooth.  Pour chocolate over peanut butter mixture and spread out evenly. Place pan in the fridge just until chocolate is set and then cut into bars.  

Tip:  If the bars chill until the chocolate is too hard to easily cut, use a sharp knife and score the cuts first, then gently cut through. Can be stored in the fridge or at room temperature. They will stay firmer if stored in the fridge.  

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Orange Sesame Chicken

recipe slightly adapted from Jamie Cooks it Up

I was pleasantly surprised by how easy and quickly this recipe came together. Great dish for an "Oh!  It's dinner time already!" moment. It takes about 30-45 minutes to come together start to finish. I think when I make it again, I might try to decrease the soy sauce a bit and see how that affects the sauce because it did taste a little heavy on the soy and not as orange-flavored as I expected.  

4 chicken breasts
1/2 cup flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons olive (or canola) oil

Sauce:
1/2 cup fresh orange juice (you'll need about 2 large oranges)
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 Tablespoons rice vinegar
4 Tablespoons sugar
1 Tablespoon orange peel/zest (loosely packed)
1/4 cup cold water
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
1 Tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

1. Pour 1/2 cup flour into a medium sized bowl and sprinkle 1/8 teaspoon salt into it. Toss it together with fork to combine.
2.  Cut your chicken into large chunks and dip them each into the flour, making sure all sides are coated.
3.  Heat a large skillet up over medium high heat.  Once the pan is hot, pour 2-3 tablespoons olive or canola oil into pan.
4. Once the oil has gotten hot, place your chicken into the pan. Let the chicken get nice and golden brown.  Then turn each piece over and let it get golden brown on the other side.
5.  While your chicken is cooking, zest one orange.
6. Squeeze the juice from 2 oranges (You will need about 1/2 cup of fresh orange juice)
7. Pour your orange juice, and 1 Tablespoon (loosely packed ) orange zest into a small mixing bowl. Add 1/4 cup soy sauce, 3 Tablespoons rice vinegar, 4 Tablespoons sugar, 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic, 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil, 1/4 teaspoon ginger, 1/4 cup cold water and 1 tablespoon cornstarch. Stir it all together until the cornstarch has dissolved and everything is mixed well.
8. Once your chicken is golden on both sides, pour the orange sauce over the chicken.  Bring the sauce to a simmer, cover, and let it cook for 10-15 minutes over medium low heat stirring occasionally.
9.  When  the chicken is cooked through and the sauce is thick and bubbly, pour 1 Tablespoon sesame seeds over the top of the chicken.  Stir it around to combine.  Serve over white or brown rice.

Serves 6

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Reese's Chewy Chocolate Cookies

recipe slightly adapted from Hershey's Kitchens

2 cups flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter (2 sticks) softened
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 10 oz package Reese's Peanut Butter Chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  
2. Stir together flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt.  Beat butter and sugar in mixer until fluffy.  Add eggs and vanilla; beat well.  Gradually add flour mixture, beating well.  Stir in peanut butter chips.
3.  Drop by rounded teaspoons onto ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake 8-9 minutes.  Do not overbake; cookies will be soft. They will puff while baking and flatten while cooling. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely.  
Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Snickerdoodles

my Mom's recipe

Ahhh... the Snickerdoodle.  What a name.  What a cookie.  I have been craving these for awhile.  They somehow take me right back to my childhood.  They are so delicious and buttery with a slight tang from the Cream of Tartar.  Perfect with a glass of milk.  Yummy.  I'm sure most people have some rendition of the Snickerdoodle recipe, but if you have never tried them, you really should. They are delicious.

1 cup shortening (I used unsalted butter), but I have seen some recipes that say they get better results with 1/2 cup vegetable shortening and 1/2 cup butter.
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 3/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon of salt (if using salted butter, you do not need to add this ingredient)
2 teaspoons cinnamon
4 Tablespoons sugar

Beat shortening, sugar and eggs in mixer until light and fluffy.  Sift together the flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt.  Stir flour mixture into shortening mixture until well combined.  This dough is very soft, so resist the temptation to add more flour.  Cover dough and chill for 1 hour. 
Mix the cinnamon and 4 Tablespoons of sugar together in a small bowl.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Roll dough into 2 inch balls and roll in the cinnamon sugar mixture until well coated.  Place on greased cookie sheet and press down on dough ball with
fork to make a criss-cross pattern.
Bake for 10-12 minutes.  Watch carefully.  You will lose the delicious chewiness of these cookies if they are over-baked.  They will puff up in the oven quite a bit.  When the edges have set and are slightly golden, remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes on cookie sheet.  They will fall when removed from oven, but that is what they are supposed to do.  

Note:  In my effort to try to justify eating way too many of these cookies in one sitting, I did tweak the amount of butter and sugar and found that they still turned out beautifully.  So, if you would like to decrease the butter and sugar, I did have success with about 3/4 cup unsalted butter and  1 cup sugar.  Those are the only changes I made, and the cookies were still wonderful, but they were slightly puffier and not quite as chewy. The picture above was a batch with the reduced amounts to give you an idea of how they will look.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Chicken Alfredo Pizza

recipe slightly adapted from The Food Network

This is quite possibly the most delicious homemade pizza I have ever made.  I followed this recipe for the crust preparation and used this recipe for the alfredo sauce recipe and topping ideas.  It was soooo good!

1 boneless skinless chicken breast
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons butter
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (I tamed this a little and just did a couple of sprinkles, but if you like a kick, add the whole teaspoon)
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 cup whole milk or heavy cream
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
2 cups spinach, well washed and dried, and chopped.
1 roma tomato, sliced
1-2 cups grated mozzarella
olive oil, for brushing crust

1. Season chicken with salt and pepper.  Put chicken on a grill pan and grill until cooked through, or bake seasoned chicken breast until internal temperature of 170 degrees and juices run clear. Let rest for 5 minutes and then dice and set aside.
2.  Melt the butter in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant.  Add the flour and cook until light blonde in color.  Whisk in the cream or milk, reduce the heat to low, and let simmer until thickened, about 2 minutes.  Stir in Parmesan and season lightly with salt and pepper, to taste. 
3. Prepare crust as indicated in this post.
4. Ladle sauce to cover bottom of the pizza.  Evenly top with the spinach, tomato slices, grilled chicken and mozzarella.  Brush the edge of the crust with olive oil.  Bake pizza until crisp and golden and cheese is melted and bubbly.  Remove from oven and immediately top with another handful of spinach.

Buttermilk Blueberry Breakfast Cake

recipe adapted from Alexandra Cooks via Pinterest

Serves 6-8 .... or 1-2 depending on your self control!

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
zest from 1 large lemon  (approx. 2 tsp)
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon sugar*  *for sprinkling on top of cake before baking 
1 egg, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup fresh blueberries (I used frozen and thawed them out in warm water)
1/2 cup buttermilk

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cream butter with lemon zest and 1/2 cup sugar until light and fluffy.  
2.  Add egg and vanilla and beat until combined. Meanwhile, toss the blueberries with 1/4 cup of flour, then whisk remaining flour, baking powder and salt.
3.  Add the flour mixture to the batter a little at a time, alternating with the buttermilk.  Fold in the blueberries.
4.  Grease a 9 inch square baking pan or something similar with butter or coat with non-stick cooking spray.  Spread batter into pan. Sprinkle batter with remaining tablespoon of sugar. Bake for 35 minutes.  Check with toothpick.  If necessary, return pan to oven for a couple more minutes.  Note: baking for as long as 10 minutes more might be necessary.  Let cool at least 15 minutes before serving.

The original recipe called for 3/4 cup sugar.  I reduced to 1/2 cup and it still tasted wonderful.  Also, I do like blueberries, but 2 cups seemed like a lot to me, so I only put in 1 cup and it was just the right amount for me, but if you love blueberries.... load it up! I think more blueberries would tend to result in a little bit moister cake if that is what you would like.