Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Thai Chicken Peanut Noodles

Adapted from The Sister's Cafe

SO GOOD! This dish is pretty healthy and so flavorful. I have made it for guests many times and everyone loves it. I made a few changes to the original recipe but nothing that changes the flavor too much. I increased the quantity of the sauce, because I think when cooled, the dish is too dry. Also, when eaten for left-overs, the noodles suck up all the moisture, so this helps that a little bit.



1 lb. whole wheat thin spaghetti noodles (or any variety)
3 Tablespoons sesame oil
2 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. ground ginger
2/3 Cup smooth peanut butter
1/3 Cup soy sauce
3 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/2 Tablespoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 1/2 Cup hot water
3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2/3 Cup finely chopped white onion
2/3 Cup finely chopped red or orange bell pepper
4 Cups cooked, shredded chicken breast
1/3 Cup finely chopped cilantro leaves
2/3 teaspoon salt, or to taste

1/3 Cup dry roasted peanuts, chopped
3 Tablespoons sesame seeds (I just sprinkle some on top)


Set water to boil and cook noodles according to package directions. Meanwhile, place peanut butter & soy sauce in a medium glass bowl and microwave for 1-2 minutes until the two combine when whisked. Stir in garlic powder, ginger, brown sugar, vinegar and red pepper flakes. Slowly add hot water. Stir and set aside.
Place olive oil in hot skillet over medium heat. Saute onion and bell pepper for 5 minutes or until softened. Stir in chicken breast, cilantro and salt. Stir until heated through. Pour prepared sauce and let simmer for 5 minutes or so until nice and hot. Add sauce and chicken mixture to strained noodles. Toss to coat and garnish with peanuts and sesame seeds if desired.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Raspberry Pretzel Salad

My friend, Katherine's recipe

PERFECT for any occasion, especially the much needed Thanksgiving jello salad! It is fabulous combination of salty, sweet and tart.
...
2 c. crushed pretzels
1/2 c. melted butter
2 T. powdered sugar
8 oz. cream cheese
8 oz. Cool Whip (doesn't need to be thawed but if it is it will be easier to work with.)
1 c. powdered sugar
2 c. boiling water
1 lg. box raspberry Jell-o
2 pkg. frozen raspberries
...
Mix together pretzels, butter and 2 T. sugar. Press into bottom of 9x13" Pyrex pan and bake at 350 for 10 minutes. Allow to cool.
Mix cream cheese, cool whip and 1 c. powdered sugar. Pour over pretzel crust and smooth with rubber spatula evenly.
Dissolve Jell-o in 2 c. boiling water. Add raspberries, breaking up frozen chunks. Pour over cream cheese mixture. Chill for 2-3 hours. Serve! YUM!

Apple Crumble Pie

LOVE this pie. This time around, I let it cook a little longer than I should have, but the taste was still absolutely wonderful. The apples were a little softer than I like them to be. The crumble topping is so easy and, in my opinion, is better than the traditional top crust.

The pie dough recipe is in my Blueberry Pie post below. You will only need to make a 1/2 recipe of the dough for this pie.



Apple Crumble Pie Filling

2 lbs. (4 medium/large) Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/2- 3/4 inch slices
2 lbs. (4 medium/large) McIntosh apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/2- 3/4 inch slices (I used Honeycrisp and they were wonderful)
3/4 c. plus 1 T. sugar
1 1/2 T. lemon juice
1 t. lemon zest from 1 lemon
1/4 t. salt
1/4 t. nutmeg
1/4 t. cinnamon
1/8 t. allspice

Toss apples with all other above ingredients. Prepare pie shell as stated in previous post. Turn fruit mixture into pie shell, including juices. (There will/should be A LOT of apples and they will make a large mound. You may have to place them one by one to get them to all fit. This is a good thing. The apples will bake down to almost half the volume.) Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Prepare crumble topping.

Apple Crumble Pie Topping

1/3 c. sugar
3/4 c. flour
6 T. butter

With pastry blender, knife or food processor, cut butter into sugar until butter pieces are no larger than the size of peas. Carefully turn mixture on top of apples, letting it fall in some cracks.
Bake at 425 for 20 minutes, until topping begins to brown slightly. Reduce temperature to 375 and bake for 30-35 minutes longer, until apples are to your desired softness. Serve warm.

Blueberry Pie

A few years ago, my husband's birthday was drawing near and I asked him what cake he wanted for the bash. He said he wanted an apple crumble and a blueberry pie instead of cake. He loves these two pies and so do I. I spent a good chunk of my Thanksgiving Eve this year making pies and am very happy to say that they turned out great.

There are a few tricks to pie-making though. First, you need a good crust recipe, but not only a good one, but the right one. For most common fruit pies, you use a raw dough, filled with the filling and topped with more raw dough or a crumble topping or whatever floats your boat. However, when making a pecan or pumpkin pie, or any pie with a liquid filling, you need a pre-baked pie crust to prevent a soggy, undesirable crust in the end.



American Pie Dough for Fruit Pies
from The Best Recipe cookbook

For one double-crust 9-inch pie

2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting dough and work surface
1 t. salt
2 T. sugar
12 T. unsalted butter, chilled, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
8 T. all-vegetable shortening, chilled
6-8 T ice water

Mix flour, salt and sugar in food processor fitted with steel blade. Scatter butter pieces over flour mixture, tossing to coat. Cut butter into flour with 5 1-second pulses. Add shortening and continue cutting until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal and is a pale yellow. Turn mixture into medium bowl. (I use my pastry blender and cut the butter that way by hand.)

Sprinkle 6 T. water over mixture. With blade of rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix. Press down on dough with broad side of spatula, adding only enough water necessary for dough to stick together, up to 2 T. more. Divide dough into 2 balls and flatten each into a 4-inch wide disk. Dust disks lightly with four, wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 30 minutes, or up to 2 days, before rolling.

Dust work surface and rolling pin with flour. Roll out dough for the bottom crust of your pie, so it extends about 2 inches farther than side of pie plate when placed over dough upside down. Dust work surface with flour occasionally to make sure dough doesn't stick. Once dough is rolled out, gently fold dough in quarters to easily transfer to pie plate. Place point in center of pie plate, unfold and gently position dough around edges of plate. Prepare filling and place in pie shell. Prepare top crust and place over top. Trim excess dough around edges. Gently decorate edges of dough to your liking.


For the top dough, you can do a lattice, like I did, or roll out the second dough-disk and do a traditional double crust pie. For lattice directions go here.



Blueberry Filling

3 pints (6 c.) fresh or 36 oz. frozen (thawed) blueberries
3/4 - 1 c. sugar
1/4 c. quick tapioca
2 t. lemon juice
1 t. grated lemon zest
1/4 t. ground allspice
pinch grated nutmeg

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare fruit filling and let stand for 15 minutes. Turn fruit mixture, including juices, into pie shell. Scatter 2 T. butter pieces over fruit. Refrigerate until ready to top with remaining dough.Place pie on cookie sheet to prevent drips onto your oven floor. Bake at 400 until top crust is golden, about 20-25 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees and bake an additional 30-40 minutes until filling is nice a bubbly and crusts are golden. If using a glass pie plate, the bottom crust should also be visibly golden.





Remarkable Fudge

Adapted from Delectable Delights: A Second Helping of SAA Favorites.

Easy, delicious! Versatile too. Swirl in caramel, peanut butter, toffee, white chocolate, coconut, walnuts or pecans, butterscotch... heaven in a pan! This recipe makes A LOT of fudge and can be easily halved.

This batch had white chocolate and peanut butter swirls, and walnuts.
...
1 cup butter
4 cups sugar
2-5 oz. cans evaporated milk
1-12 oz. package semi-sweet chocolate chips
1-8 oz. chocolate bar, milk, dark or a combo of both, your preference, broken into pieces
1-7 oz. jar marshmallow creme
1 t. vanilla
...
Line a 9x13 pan with foil and lightly grease foil with butter or cooking spray. In a 3 qt. heavy saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat. Increase hear to medium and add sugar and milk and stir until mixture comes to a low boil. Stirring constantly, cook until mixture reaches 238 degrees, which is the soft ball stage. If you don't have a thermometer, cook over medium heat for 10 minutes so that while stirring, mixture doesn't boil, but if you stop stirring momentarily, mixture boils. Remove from heat. Stir in chocolate chips and extra chocolate pieces, marshmallow creme and vanilla. Stir until mixture is smooth and chocolate is all melted and well-incorporated. If using nuts, stir the nuts in at this time. Pour into prepared pan. Swirl in additional ingredients of your choice now. Score fudge while still warm, to make for easier cutting later. Put in refrigerator to cool and set, about 1 hour. Enjoy!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Creamy Turkey Corn Cowder

Adapted from the kitchen of Rebecca Lutter of essentialsforliving.org


1 c. chopped onion
1 t. minced garlic*
1 (14 1/2 oz.) can chicken broth*
1 (10 3/4 oz.) can cream chicken soup
2 c. diced turkey*
1 (14 1/2 oz.) can cream style corn
1 (14 1/2 oz.) can whole kernel corn, drained
1/2 t. chili powder or more to taste
1/2 t. ground cumin
salt and pepper to taste
1 (5 oz.) can eveporated milk*
1 c. grated cheddar cheese
...
Directions
Add onions, garlic and broth to a large pot and bring to boil until onions and garlic are tender and onions are translucent. Turn temp to med heat and add cream of chicken soup, mixing well. Add turkey, cans of corn, chili powder and cumin. Let simmer for at least 10 minutes. Add milk and cheese slowly, incorporating well. Simmer until bubbly and hot. Serve promptly. You may garnish with chopped green onions.
...
*Trade Secrets
I use more garlic than just a teaspoon. For soups, I usually use boullion cubes, usually 1 cube to 1 cup of water. A 14 1/2 oz. can of broth is about 2 cups of water and 2-3 boullion cubes. I substitute the chicken for the turkey; I would only ever use turkey if I had left over turkey from Thanksgiving. I also have used skim milk, or whatever milk I have in my fridge 1% or 2% in place of the evap. milk. There really is no difference.

Loaded Baked Potato Soup

Adapted from The Picky Palate


Loaded Baked Potato Soup

16 oz Applewood smoked bacon, cooked and chopped
4 stalks celery finely diced
3 large carrots, peeled, finely diced
1 jalapeno, seeded, membrane removed and finely chopped
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 cup red bell pepper, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup cubed ham or Canadian bacon, in small pieces
36 oz chicken broth
6 oz half and half or whole milk
10 med/lg. potatoes, baked, peeled and mashed
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
½ cup milk
4 oz sour cream
1 ½ cups shredded cheddar cheese
...
Garnish
½ cup sour cream
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup thinly sliced green onion (green part only)
...
1. Heat large Dutch oven over medium heat. Cut bacon into pieces and cook until browned and crisp. Transfer bacon to a paper towel lined plate. Discard bacon grease, reserving 2 Tablespoons to sauté veggies. Sauté celery, carrots, jalapeno, onion and bell pepper in bacon grease for 10 minutes, stirring often until softened. Stir in garlic and ham; cook for 3 more minutes. Stir in chicken broth and half and half.
...
2. Place mashed potatoes in a stand or electric mixer. Mix on medium speed adding salt, pepper and milk. Stir mashed potatoes into soup until combined. Heat for 10 minutes.
...
3. Stir in sour cream and cheese until smooth. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste. Simmer on low until ready to serve. Top with sour cream, bacon, cheese and green onion.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Chocolate Turtle Cookies

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
1 large egg, separated, plus 1 egg white
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup chopped pecans, chopped fine
14 soft caramel candies
3 tablespoons heavy cream

Adjust oven rack to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 350 degrees. Combine flour, cocoa, and salt in small bowl. With electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter and sugar until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add egg yolk, milk, and vanilla and mix until incorporated. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture until just combined. Refrigerate dough until firm, at least 1 hour.

Whisk egg white(s) with fork or whisk in another bowl until frothy. Place pecans in another bowl. One at a time, roll dough into 1-inch balls, dip in egg whites, letting excess drip off, then roll in pecans. Place balls 1 inch apart on lightly greased baking sheets. Using teaspoon measure or your finger, make indentation in center of each ball.

Bake until set, 10 to12 minutes, switching and rotating sheets halfway through baking.

Meanwhile, microwave caramels and cream in bowl, stirring occasionally, until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Once cookies are removed from oven, gently press existing indentations with teaspoon measure. Fill each with 1/2 to 1 teaspoon caramel mixture. Cool 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack and cool completely.

Adapted from Cookscountry.com

Danish Almond Sweet Bread

Called Danish Pastries in the Franson household, absolutely necessary for the Holiday Season to be complete, not to mention they are some of the best things you have ever tasted. These pastries are equipped with a perfect hint of almond flavor, soft pastry dough, a crunchy topping and filling in the middle of it all that will make you fall off your rocker.

Danish Almond Sweet Bread
...
Dough
Put in blender:
1 ¼ c scalded milk
1/3 c shortening (melt with milk)
1/3 c sugar
1 t salt
2 eggs
Pulse in blender, then add:
1 T yeast
Pulse again, then wait 3 minutes.
Pour all into large bowl, and add:
4 c flour
Knead for about 3-5 minutes.
Cover and let rise in a warm place 35 minutes.
...
Filling #1
Scald in microwave and set aside:
1 c milk
Mix together:
1/3 c sugar
2 T flour
¼ t salt
Beat in with a fork:
3 egg yolks (save the whites!)
Pour hot milk into mixture and stir well.
Heat in microwave 2 minutes, whisking every 30 seconds,
until thick like pudding.
...
Filling #2:
Mix with pastry blender:
½ c butter
½ c flour
1 c sugar
¼ c oats
1 ½ t almond extract
¼ c sliced almonds
...
Topping
Mix:
½ c almonds
¼ c sugar
...
Punch down dough. Divide in 4. Roll each out to a rectangle 8” across and 12” long. Mentally divide the rectangle into thirds lengthwise and spread each filling onto the middle third. With a pizza cutter, cut slits across each side, crosswise, all the way to the bottom, 1” apart. Alternate sides and cross the strips over the middle. Make sure the top and bottom are tucked in so filling does not leak out. Brush the top with beaten egg whites, then sprinkle with Topping.

Let rise 30 minutes. Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes, making sure the bottom and top are both slightly brown. Let cool 10 minutes before cutting.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Almond Rocca

A wonderful homemade toffee that will make you crave more with every bite. You don't absolutely need a candy thermometer to make this, but it is recommended. Have all the packages open before you start.

1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
3/4 - 1 cup sliced almonds, divided
1 package semi-sweet chocolate chips

In heavy saucepan over medium-low heat, melt butter. Add sugar. Stir for 2-3 minutes until sugar is well incorporated, turn up heat to medium. Stirring constantly, bring mixture to a low boil. You may need to turn up the heat slightly depending on your burner size, but don't over-do it. Maintain a constant low-boil for about 5-6 minutes. The sugar granules should begin to dissolve and the mixture will begin to get puffy if you don't stir it for a few seconds and will begin to turn a light golden brown. Be patient! At this point add about 2/3 of the almond slices. Keep stirring until mixture darkens to a light brown and the temperature reaches 302 degrees F (hard crack). If you don't have a thermometer, judge by the color. Just don't let the toffee get too dark. (Every time I have made this, a little bit of the butter separates from the toffee, so I just pour off the excess grease when I take it off the stove. I don't think its anything to worry about.) Take off stove and immediately pour mixture onto a wax-lined cookie sheet and spread out to desired thickness, working quickly. Evenly spread chocolate chips over the top of toffee to melt. Once melted, spread over toffee with rubber spatula. Sprinkle remaining almonds over top. Let cool on counter-top of in fridge until chocolate solidifies. Enjoy.



White Chocolate Popcorn

This is the perfect treat for parties or for putting in cute cellophane baggies to give to neighbors for Christmas. Get creative with holiday sprinkles if you so desire!


2 bags microwavable popcorn (fat free is fine), popped
1 bag real white chocolate chips, melted
In a very large mixing bowl, or 2 larger bowls, place popcorn and drizzle chocolate over the top. Fold several times with large wooden spoon or rubber spatula until chocolate completely covers the popcorn. Let cool and dry before serving. This can be done in the mixing bowl or on wax paper on the counter. If you need to speed up the drying process, place in fridge.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Lemon Butter Pound Cake

I have to say I own some mean cake recipes. Of all of them, I think this is my favorite. It is absolutely, positively divine. Amazing. Soft, dense like a pound cake should be, with an exquisite tart, yet sweet, lemon topping that makes you want to swear to eat nothing else ever again in your life. Enjoy.

Adapted from Jeanine Franson, my mother-in-law's, recipe.

In medium bowl, sift:
3 c. flour (spoon lightly into cup to measure)
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
In large bowl, or in stand mixer, beat till light and fluffy:
2 sticks butter
1/2 c. shortening
2 2/3 c. sugar
Then add and mix until just blended:
1 c. milk
3 T. pure lemon extract
Then add dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
Scrape bottom and sides of bowl several times in the process.
Add:
5 eggs, one at a time, beating until completely blended, but not whipping.
Butter the bottom and sides of a 9 x 13" pan at least 2" deep. Pour in batter and bake at 320 degrees about 1 hour 15 minutes, until light golden brown and toothpick or knife inserted in center comes out clean. Check for doneness after 1 hour, or as soon as you smell the goodness of the cake and see that it is beginning to brown.
While cake is baking, prepare a mixture of 6 ounces of lemonade concentrate and 3/4 cups sugar. (I like to 1 1/2 times this) Microwave for a minute and mix well till thoroughly dissolved.
As soon as cake is out of oven, run a knife around sides of pan and prick top all over with a fork (a meat fork if you have one). Pour lemonade mixture over hot cake and spread to cover completely, including sides. Let it soak in completely; then sprinkle sugar lightly over top. For a crunchy texture, sprinkle again before serving.
Ages well; freezes well.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Southwestern Chicken

Adapted from Katherins Fields' recipe of the same title.

In crock pot, place:
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Pace medium salsa (Picante or chunky), enough to generously cover chicken breasts in crock pot, I don't know, about 4 cups?

Cook on medium/low for 6 hours or so until chicken is very soft and you can shred it with a fork. Shred!

Add and mix in:
2 cans black beans, drained
2 cans kernel corn, drained

Allow to heat through before serving. This is a very versatile recipe, so serve it with tortilla chips, over rice, over a taco salad, by itself in all its glory or in tortillas (make sure you use a good slotted spoon if you do this.) Garnish with sour cream, cilantro, avocado, cheddar cheese or Mexican blend cheese. Serves 8.

Note:
You only need about 1 large chicken breast each for 2 people. This is my favorite recipe to make when I either don't feel like cooking or when I am having a large crowd over for dinner and don't want to stress about it.

Jam-dotted Shortbread Cookies

Adapted from Coconut & Lime

12 T. butter
1 c. sugar
1 egg, at room temperature
2 c. flour
½ t. baking powder
Good quality jam (I used Smucker's Simply Fruit Jam)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease cookie sheet with butter. Cream together butter and sugar. Add egg and beat until smooth. Add baking powder and flour to form a thick dough. Roll into small 1 ½ inch balls. Place 1 inch apart on cookie sheet. With your spoon or fingertip, make a shallow dent in the top of each cookie. Fill with a tiny bit of jam. Bake until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Allow to cool on wire rack.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Grandma Haack's Authentic Italian Spaghetti Sauce


If you want Authentic Italian, here you go. My "Grandma GG", Anntoinette Jannetta Haack's, parents were born in Italy and she made this sauce all the years that she was a mother. She is 94 now and still going strong! She still makes this sauce.
As a child, my grandfather would "taste" the sauce all day, dipping bread into it and occasionally sneaking a chunk of Italian sausage out of the pot. Use nothing but the best and freshest ingredients for the sauce to taste right. Use the sauce over any type of noodles (homemade or fresh pasta is best), for a special pan of lasagna, for chicken Parmesan, you get the point.

Authentic Italian Spaghetti Sauce
Antoinette Jannetta Haack

Day 1

8-10 oz. round steak, pounded to about 1/4 inch thin
2 bunches Italian parsley, chopped, divided
4-6 cloves fresh garlic, minced
salt & pepper to taste
1 lb. hot or mild Italian sausage
2 28 oz. cans crushed tomatoes
1 28 oz. can petite diced tomatoes
handful of torn fresh basil

Place one handful chopped Italian parsley, garlic, salt and pepper in center of piece of steak. You may also use two smaller pieces of steak, each pounded thin and make two rolls if you can't find a piece large enough. Roll up steak tightly and secure with skewers, toothpicks or cloth twine. Sear on all sides in a skillet over med-high heat. Place in bottom of crock pot.

Slice sausage into 3/4 inch pieces and cook in skillet over medium heat until done. Be cautious not to over cook them or get them too dark on the outside. Put crushed and diced tomatoes and basil in pot over the steak. Put sausage in as well. Stir carefully paying attention not to disturb the steak in the bottom.

Meatballs :
1 1/2 cups Italian bread crumbs
1/2 c. Parmesan cheese
2 eggs
2 lbs. quality ground beef
salt & pepper to taste

In large mixing bowl, place other bunch of parsley, bread crumbs, eggs, raw ground beef and salt/pepper. Mix (your hands work best) until well combined. Roll into balls about the size of a small walnut, about 1 1/2 inch in diameter. Brown meatballs in skillet over medium heat, making sure they don't get too dark, until they are mostly done. Dab with paper towel or drain in colander. Put these into the sauce too, covered in tomato sauce.

Cook sauce in crock pot on high for 8 hours, uncovered, adding water if needed throughout the day. Let cool to room temperature, cover and place in refrigerator overnight.

Day 2

Heat sauce back up in crock pot for 6-8 hours, uncovered.
Once warm, add one small can of Contandina tomato paste plus 2-3 cans of water. Stir until well incorporated. The sauce may require additional water throughout the day. It should be a dark, rich color and most of the sausage and steak should be dissolved from cooking so long.

Orange Muffins with Honey Butter

Ingredients
1 1/4 cups all-purpose white flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup softened butter
1/2 cup honey
1 egg
1/4 cup orange juice concentrate
1/2 tsp. grated orange zest

Directions
Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl.
Cream the butter and honey with a whisk or electric mixer.
Gradually whisk in the egg, orange juice and zest; mix in the dry ingredients little by little.· Spoon into greased or paper-lined muffin tins. Bake in a 350° F oven for 25-30 minutes. Check for doneness with a skewer or the tip of a knife.

Orange Honey Butter
4 T. softened butter
2 T. honey
1/2 T. grated orange zest

Nanaimo Bars

From the kitchen of Marta Smith, my wonderful sister-in-law.

The Nanaimo bar is a dessert of Canadian origin popular across North America. A type of chocolate no-bake square, it receives its name from the city of Nanaimo, British Columbia. It consists of a crumb-based layer, topped by a layer of light custard or vanilla butter icing, which is covered in chocolate.

Many varieties are possible by using different types of crumb, flavours of custard or icing (e.g. mint, peanut butter), and types of chocolate. Two popular variations on the traditional Nanaimo bar involve mint flavoured custard or mocha flavoured custard.In my opinion, these are best served as a dessert alone, without any other sweet treat.

I love to sneak one before breakfast; there is nothing better than a sweet chocolaty treat hitting your pallet early in the morning!

Ingredients

For base, blend in mixer:
3/4 c. butter, softened
1/3 c. sugar
1/2 c. cocoa powder
1 1/2 t. vanilla
2 eggs

Combine in separate bowl and then add to chocolate mixture:
3 c. Graham cracker crumbs
1 1/2 c. shredded coconut
3/4 c. chopped walnuts
Mix until dry ingredients are well coated. Press firmly into ungreased 9x13 pan. Set aside.

For filling, cream:
1/3 c. butter
Add:
1 98g box vanilla instant pudding
3 c. powdered sugar
1/3 c. milk

Beat until resembling frosting. Spread evenly over base & chill in freezer until filling layer is nice and firm.

Heat in microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring frequently, until melted and smooth:
3 T. milk
1 c. semisweet chocolate chips

Spread quickly over top of filling. Chill in freezer until all layers are quite firm, but not frozen solid, about 30 minutes. Cut into rectangles or squares. Place in plastic container and freeze at least 1 hour before serving. To serve, let sit at room temperature for 3-5 minutes, still frozen but soft enough to bite.

Makes 4 dozen bars.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Fresh Raspberry Pie

American Pie Dough for Fruit Pies
from The Best Recipe cookbook
For one double-crust 9-inch pie

2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting dough and work surface
1 t. salt
2 T. sugar
12 T. unsalted butter, chilled, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
8 T. all-vegetable shortening, chilled
6-8 T ice water

Mix flour, salt and sugar in food processor fitted with steel blade. Scatter butter pieces over flour mixture, tossing to coat. Cut butter into flour with 5 1-second pulses. Add shortening and continue cutting until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal and is a pale yellow. Turn mixture into medium bowl. (I use my pastry blender and cut the butter that way by hand.)

Sprinkle 6 T. water over mixture. With blade of rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix. Press down on dough with broad side of spatula, adding only enough water necessary for dough to stick together, up to 2 T. more. Divide dough into 2 balls and flatten each into a 4-inch wide disk. Dust disks lightly with four, wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 30 minutes, or up to 2 days, before rolling.


Raspberry Filling

In bowl, mix carefully:
4 pints fresh or 48 oz. raspberries, rinsed if fresh
1/4 c. quick tapioca
3/4 c. sugar
2 t. lemon juice
t. vanilla extract

Roll out dough for the bottom layer of your pie, so it extends about 2 inches farther than side of pie plate when placed over dough upside down. Dust work surface with flour occasionally to make sure dough doesn't stick. Once dough is rolled out, gently fold dough circle in half and then in half again to easily transfer to pie plate. Unfold and gently position dough. Trim excess dough around edges of pie plate. Place filling on top of dough in pie plate.

For the top dough, you can do a lattice, like I did, or roll out the second dough-disk and do a traditional double crust pie. For lattice directions go here.

Pumpkin Soup

1/2 large or 1 small onion, chopped
3 T. butter
3 c. chicken broth, divided
2 c. pumpkin (pure, canned, not pie filling)
1 t. salt
1 T. sugar
1/4 t. nutmeg
1/4 t. pepper
1/2 c. half & half

Saute onions in butter until soft. Put 1 c. broth in blender with onions along with all ingredients except half & half. Transfer to small pot on stove top. Add remaining 2 c. broth. Heat thoroughly. Add half & half soon before serving. Heat, serve!

My thoughts:
This recipe is one of the easiest I have. It was also given to me by Marta, my SIL. It is SO quick, it is ridiculous. It is a tradition in my home to make it Halloween night every year with homemade bread and hot mulled cider.

Apple Crisp

Prepare:
8-10 apples, peeled, sliced to 1/2 inch thick slices

In bowl, mix with pastry blender:
1 1/2 c. brown sugar
1 c. flour
1 c. oats
2/3 c. butter
1 1/2 t. cinnamon
1 1/2 t. nutmeg

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spread topping evenly over apples. Bake for 30-45 minutes until apples reach desired firmness and topping is slightly browned. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or freshly whipped cream.

My thoughts:
My sister in law, Marta, gave me this recipe long ago and it is to this day written on a small piece of paper in my old recipe box. My husband told me a few weeks ago while eating a generous portion of this delectable dessert that, "yeah, they will have apple crisp in heaven." True, true.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Whole Wheat Bread

I haven't bought bread from any grocery store for 10 months. I vowed after I got my mixer for Christmas last year that I wouldn't ever buy bread again. I am so happy (and a little proud) that I have stuck by this resolution b/c I rarely actually do things that I mean to! I give 100% of the credit for this bread dough to Rebecca Lutter, who demonstrated the recipe when we were in MO together as med-student wives. She now lives in UT and me in MI, but her bread recipe stuck with me. My friend, Ruth Gough showed me how to make it a second time to refresh my memory when I actually got my mixer. I have demo-ed it on numerous occasions to friends and am very proud to do so b/c it is the best bread ever! There are a lot of good whole wheat bread recipes and a lot of people say that their recipe is the best. I have decided that there isn't one best recipe for bread, but a handful that are the ones worth eating. This is one of those.
What I love about this recipe is that it is very versatile. When I make a batch of dough I can very easily make 1 loaf of bread, a pizza crust and cinnamon rolls all at the same time (or bread sticks or Navajo tacos or cinna-balls or scones or dinner rolls...)


THE MASTER RECIPE
KNOWN TO ALL AS “FOOLPROOF BREAD”
Master this recipe then later add nuts, raisins, spices and flavoring for variety.

Ingredients:
8-81/2 cups freshly ground wheat- grind super-fine(5 1/2 cups wheat usually makes the perfect amount of flour)
3 cups warm water
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup oil (I use smart balance omega oil)
1 1/2 T Saf yeast
1 T dough enhancer
1 T gluten
1 T real salt

Grind wheat on the finest setting. In mixer, combine water, honey, and oil. Add 4 cups fresh, warm flour. Add yeast, dough enhancer, and gluten. Mix on low speed for about 1 minute until smooth. Allow to rest 20 minutes until swelled and bubbly. (I have let it stand a lot longer than this before, like an hour, and it was totally fine.)
Add salt (don't forget the salt!) and remaining flour slowly over medium speed-- **use only enough flour to get the dough to clean the bowl and stick together. Mix on medium speed for 3-5 minutes until dough ball looks smooth, is very elastic and a small amount of dough stretched between your fingers into a square shape does not break, but you can see light through it.
Grease bread pans or bowl for rising if using for something other than bread.
For bread:
Grease (NOT flour) your hands and divide dough into three equal parts. Form each part into bread form and place in greased pan. Cover and allow to rise for ~30 minutes until bread is almost to desired height, about 1 inch above top of pan. Place in cold oven and set to 350 degrees. Allow to cook for 18-20 minutes until bread is lightly browned on top, pan sizzles on bottom when touched with wet finger and bread makes a hollow sound. Butter the top and allow to cool on side for 5 minutes. Serve warm or allow to cool before placing in air tight container.

For Pizza Crust:
Allow dough to rise for 30 minutes. Grease hands and place 1/3 dough on baking stone. Roll out to desired shape. Allow to rest 10 minutes. Lightly cover in oil and fresh garlic, basil, or other favorite Italian herbs. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 10-15 minutes. Top with desired sauce and toppings and allow to bake until cheese is hot and bubbly.
For Bread Sticks:
Allow dough to rise for 30 minutes. Grease hands and place 1/3 dough on baking stone. Roll out until 1/4 inch thick. Cut into strips. Top with warm butter blended with your favorite Italian herbs, garlic. Spread over the sticks. Top with Parmesan or other favorite Italian cheeses if desired. Cook in preheated 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes. For dinner rolls: Allow dough to rise for 30 minutes. Take 1/3 of dough. Roll out on floured surface until 1/3 inch thick. Use round cutter or large glass cup to to cut out even rolls. Place in dish of warm butter then onto roll pan. Allow to rest 10 minutes then bake in 350 degree over for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.
For Cinnamon Rolls:
Allow dough to rise for 30 minutes. Take 1/3 of dough. Roll out on floured surface into rectangle until 1/4 inch thick. Mix 1/2 cup butter, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 2 T cinnamon, and raisins or walnuts, if desired. Spread mixture evenly over dough's surface. Roll dough and cup with floss or string into 1 inch pieces. Place in 9x13 greased pan, cover, and allow to rise 15 minutes. Place in preheated 350 degree oven and allow to cook 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Drizzle with warm milk and powdered sugar glaze while hot, if desired.
American Scones:
Allow dough to rise 30 minutes. Roll out 1/3 dough on floured surface into rectangle 1/3 inch thick. Cut into even squares, about 3" x 3" or so. Allow to rest 10 minutes. Cook in deep fryer or in frying pan full of hot oil until golden brown on both sides and cooked through-- about 2 minutes. Allow to cool and then slice one side to fill with taco fillings or honey butter and warm jam.
For Doughnuts:
Follow instructions for American scones, except cut with doughnut cutter and place in mixture of sugar/cinnamon, powdered sugar, or warm milk and powdered sugar glaze straight out of fryer. For Navajo Tacos:Follow instructions for American scones except form dough into large round circles 1/3 inch thick. Fry as directed and then top with southwestern taco toppings (or Katherine Field's Southwestern Chicken)
Number Of Servings: Yields 3 large loafs or any variety of variations...
Preparation Time: 30 minute prep, 30 minute rise, up to 30 minutes to bake

Ice Cream Sandwich Torte

Another really easy dessert that will make people think that you spent an obscene amount of hours in the kitchen. This is a Pampered Chef recipe that I have had for about 5 years and make it when I really want to pop a surprise at someone. I made it for a cooking club once and it won the night's prize. People came up to me and were asking what the crust was made out of and how on earth I got the layering so even. I couldn't help but laugh a little and told them the deep, sweet secret of this ice cream cake. It has wonderful presentation and can serve 20 people comfortably.


This cross-section is a little mutilated b/c I cut it when it had been out of the freezer for a while. But you get the idea.


Ice Cream Sandwich Torte
Place 6 ice cream sandwiches in a row on a large square platter (or bottom of cookie sheet lined with foil) to form a rectangle. Place in freezer.
In medium bowl mix:
1 4oz. pkg. chocolate instant pudding
2/3 c. milk
Then fold in to chocolate pudding mixture:
6 oz. Cool Whip, thawed
1 1/2 c. coarsely chopped Oreos
Remove platter from freezer and quickly spread chocolate mixture evenly over ice cream sandwiches. Place 6 more ice cream sandwiches over the filling. Frost with 6oz. Cool Whip (or more), covering all sides of torte. Sprinkle with bits of shaved chocolate or Oreos. Freeze at least 2 hours before serving.
To serve: Cut torte lengthwise in half. Then cut slices to desired width. Serves 20.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Traditional Chili


My mom made a pot of chili every so often while I was growing up. This recipe stems off of hers. It is a wonderful recipe for a traditional chili that everyone craves every once and a while.
Chili
In skillet, cook over medium-high heat:
1 T. oil
1 lb. lean ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 cans peeled, chopped green chilies
In crock pot on high or 5 or 6 quart saucepan on stove top on medium high heat, put above mixture and:
5-6 c. tomato juice (depending on how long you cook it, you may need to add more like 6)
1-2 14oz. can diced tomatoes, your preference
2 t. cumin (or more)
2 t. chili powder (or more)
1 can kidney beans, drained
1 can black beans, drained
1 can chili beans with sauce
1 can whole kernel corn, drained (optional)
cheddar cheese for garnish
chopped onions for garnish
Cook in crock pot for 3-4 hours or on stove top for 1-2 hours (or more) until thickened, dark and to your likin'. Serve with cheese and onions on top, if desired.

Chicken Broccoli Casserole


My husband grew up on this casserole. Hence, it comes from my MIL, Jeanine Franson. When I think Chicken Broccoli Casserole I think of a rice dish with a cheddar cheese sauce with chicken and broccoli, of course. This is different! It can be served over rice or mashed potatoes, but served alone in all its glory is a wonderful option too.
Chicken Broccoli Casserole
Prepare and place in 9x13 Pyrex pan:
1 lb. chicken, cooked & chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
4 cups fresh broccoli florets
In medium bowl, mix with wire whisk:
1 family size can cream chicken soup
1 cup mayo, low fat is fine
1/2 tsp curry powder
2 T. lemon juice
Spread mixture over broccoli and chicken. Sprinkle generously with paprika and grated Parmesan cheese (the more the Parmesan, the better!) Bake at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes until bubbly and cheese on top is crispy and slightly golden. Allow to sit and cool for a few minutes before serving.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Best Banana Bread

From The Best Recipe cookbook, never fails!


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease and flour 1 bread loaf pan.
In medium bowl, mix:
2 c. all purpose flour
1/2 t. salt
3/4 c. sugar
3/4 t. baking soda
1 c. chopped walnuts (optional)
In large bowl, mix:
3 very ripe, darkly speckled, large bananas, mashed
1/4 c. plain yogurt (I use any flavor I have)
6 T. butter, melted and cooled
1 t. vanilla
2 large eggs

Add dry ingredients to banana mixture and mix until just incorporated. Bake for 50-55 minutes until top is golden brown and cracked and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

An Easy One to Start

Inside-out Oreos
I am SO mad I didn't take a picture when I made these yesterday!!! I made these Oreo bon-bons for our church Halloween party and they looked beautiful arranged on my white rectangular platter. We were in such a rush to get to the party that I didn't snap a photo! Just trust me, this is a good recipe (and one that you can remember while walking down the isles at the grocery store b/c there are only 3 ingredients!)
1 pkg. regular Oreos
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 pkg. (or more) white Almond Bark
Crush entire package of Oreos in a gallon-size storage bag. (I use a combination of my rolling pin and the bottom of a glass.) In mixer, combine cream cheese with crushed Oreos until well incorporated. Roll mixture into balls, about 1 inch in diameter. Melt Almond Bark in glass bowl, 30 seconds at a time, stirring after each interval, until melted. Carefully dip Oreo balls into melted Almond Bark, covering each ball completely. Place on sheet of wax paper or foil until melted.
Trade Secrets:
You can also use the dark Almond Bark to cover the balls, or drizzle the dark over the white-covered bon-bons, or vice-versa. Sprinkles make the treat more festive for any occasion.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Alright, I have another blog...

I need a place to store my recipes in a spot where they will forever be safe. I think its kind of weird to post recipes on my family blog for some reason, so voila! Stay tuned for some of my favs.

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