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

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
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
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.


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