Kitchen Creations

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Third Grade Field Trips!

In 3rd grade my class took a field trip to an apple orchard, Myer's Orchard, to be exact.  We all thought it was our teacher's orchard because her last name was Meyer (we just knew how to say it, not spell it).  She had to keep explaining that all day long. It was wonderful.  We picked our own apples, watched them make cider and got to taste test.  This recipe is from that field trip and I remember it more from the times my mom made it for us growing up.  These "puffs" live up to their name, they are light, fluffy and gorgeous.  Now that I have a food processor, the grating of the apples is no big deal anymore either.  As with many of my recent recipes, I made it for my home group.  It made over 24 and that night several people were missing.  By the time everyone was gone, there were 2 left.  It's not hard to eat more than one of these tasty treats!

What are some of your favorite recipes from childhood?

Apple Puffs (from Myer’s Orchard “Apple Recipes)  
3 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup butter
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 cup grated apples
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1.)  Combine flour, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg & sugar.  I love all the colors of the spices & flour.

2.)  Cut in shortening until size of small crumbs.   I don't have a pastry cutter, but my forks work just fine.

3.)  Add eggs, milk and apples. Stir just enough to mix well.

4.)  Fill well-greased muffin tins 2/3 full.

5.)  Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.
6.)  While still hot from oven, dip tops of puffs in melted butter, then in cinnamon sugar mixture.

Click here for printable recipe

Monday, January 30, 2012

Peach Pie, Oh Me - Oh My!!

I started making peach pie when Jeremy and I were first married.  It was the first pie I tried out a lattice top on, which I loved making.  It was also the pie I made, bourbon scented with cardamom, for a church summer baking contest, and it's one that I have LOTS of "raw material" for in my freezers because of the phenomenal amount of peaches picked by Anna, Teresa, my boys and myself as we gleaned an orchard this past summer.  My husband has been, oh so gently, urging me to "do something with some of those peaches, like maybe a pie?".  Well, since I now have my newly found favorite pie crust recipe that doesn't tear, rip, crumble or generally fall apart on a whim, I felt inclined to oblige his hints for a peach pie.  I got out my cute new pie dish from my friend Stacy and set to work.  This was my first "closed crust" pie.  My top crusts are usually lattice or some tearfully pieced together scrap of patchwork crust.  I must say that I am extremely pleased with the results.  I can't help it!  When I got that top crust on and the edges fluted, I let out the loudest Woo-Hoo, my boys and husband have EVER heard.  It made my husband jump and my boys come running from the back of the house!  The pie also tasted "kinna like toolicious" as my youngest son used to say!  The ginger really took it up a notch!
Woooo-hoooo!  You can have some tooooooo!!!!

Gingered Peach Pie 
Crust:  Flaky Cream Cheese Crust -double for a top and bottom crust
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp flour (I used pastry flour for a flakier crust)
1 Tbsp white sugar
¼ tsp. salt
6 Tbsp. cold unsalted butter
3 ounces cold cream cheese
2-3 Tbsp. cold ½ & ½

5 cups peaches, peeled and sliced
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1- 1 1/2 tsp. ground ginger (depending on how much you like ginger)
dash of cinnamon & dash of nutmeg (if desired)
2 Tbsp. butter (cut into small pieces)

1.)  Whisk together flour, sugar & salt in a large bowl. (for crust)
2.)  With pastry cutter or 2 knives, cut in butter and cream cheese.  (for crust)   It should look like coarse sand with some bigger sized clumps in there with it, about pea sized.
3.)  Drizzle 2-3 Tbsp. ½ & ½ over and mix with fork until dough begins to gather.
4.)  Roll out and place into a 9 inch pie pan, let edges hang over.
5.)  Roll out top crust and set aside.
6.)  Mix together ingredients for filling and let sit for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
7.)  Pour filling into pie shell and dot with 2 Tbsp of butter, cut into small pieces. 
        Look at how that dough just gracefully hangs over the sides of the pie dish!!!

8.)  Brush the edges of bottom crust with cold water.
9.)  Place top crust over the filling and trim the edges.
10.)  Tuck the crusts together and under then flute/crimp edges & brush top with milk.
          Isn't it gorgeous?!  I  didn't have to grab scraps to improvise and edge.  It's all in one  piece!  Have I mentioned that I love this dough recipe yet???

11.)  Bake at 425 degrees for 30 minutes.
12.)  Then bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until inside juices are bubbling.

*** Hint:  Placing a cookie sheet under the pie plate can be helpful for catching any juices that may escape.  None did for this one, but sometimes with a lattice top they can.

Click here for printable recipe

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Perfect Potatoes

I love french fries, really love them.  I know they are terrible for me, but I love them.  My husband helped me create a better solution to satisfy the french fry cravings.  Now these are a great favorite in our house.  My boys and I love to create all different kinds of sauces for dipping.  I introduced them to my favorite German dipping sauce, Rot-Weiss (red-white), which is basically ketchup with mayo.  Our plates look like painter's palette with every color of condiment imaginable.  Most taste great, some have not been winners. This is also a great way to use those potatoes that are getting older while hanging out in your kitchen.

So make your fries and eat them too!!

Oven Fries 
*  6-10 small-medium potatoes (peeled or unpeeled according to preference)
*  1-2 Tbsp. of olive oil (1 if closer to 6 potatoes, 2 if closer to 10)
*  Spices to taste:  salt, pepper, parsley, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, etc. (whatever sounds good to you).

1.)  Wash (and peel, if desired) potatoes.  Then slice into desired size fries.

2.)  Combine olive oil and potatoes in large a bowl.
3.)  Mix in spices
4.)  Spread onto a large baking sheets.

5.)  Bake at 400 degrees for 20-30 minutes, until golden and crispy!

Friday, January 27, 2012


Since we've gone, "mostly meatless", quiche has become a favorite meal for us.  I love any dish that combines main dish and sides all in one.  I also love quiche because you can use whatever is on hand, whatever is in season and make it differently each and every time.  My boys love it when I add bacon or sausage and broccoli, spinach are ALWAYS part of the mix.  Now when it comes to pie crust I have difficulty.  Many nights my husband has come home to mess and tears because I can't get the crust to roll out and stay together.  It falls apart on me, crumbles, rips, tears and any number or terrible things.  Until now!  I've found a recipe that uses cream cheese and it not only tastes divine, it rolls and out beautifully and doesn't fall apart on me!  Feel free to use whatever your favorite flaky crust is, but I'll share my new favorite with you just the same.

Try some!  It's eggcellent!

Herby Quiche  
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp flour (I used pastry flour for a flakier crust)
1 Tbsp white sugar
¼ tsp. salt
6 Tbsp. cold unsalted butter
3 ounces cold cream cheese
2-3 Tbsp. cold ½ & ½

2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 medium sweet onion, chopped
3-4 cups vegetables - any combination you love - mushrooms, zucchini, red & green bell peppers, broccoli, spinach, etc.
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup cream cheese or sour cream (or combination)
3 large eggs
½ cup shredded cheese (whatever your favorite is)
1 tsp. marjoram
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. rosemary
¼ tsp. thyme

1.)  Whisk together flour, sugar & salt in a large bowl.
2.)  With pastry cutter, 2 knives or a fork, cut in butter and cream cheese

3.)  Drizzle 2-3 Tbsp. ½ & ½ over and mix with fork until dough begins to gather.
4.)  Roll out and place into a 9 inch pie pan, flute the edges
5.)  Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes.

1.)  Saute medium onion in olive oil.
2.)  Add prepared vegetables and garlic, saute until tender
3.)  Pour cooked vegetables into pie shell.

4.)  Sprinkle with shredded cheese
5.)  Whisk together cream cheese/sour cream & eggs & spices.
6.)  Pour egg mixture over cheese and vegetables.

7.)  Cook for 25 minutes, or until eggs are set and quiche is golden brown.

Click here for printable recipe

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Easy, Peasy, Macaroni & Cheesy!

This recipe in it's original form was from my friend Lacie. My husband lovingly typed out and compiled all my favorite, well-loved and well-used recipes into a beautiful cookbook for me and so I can't tell what I altered, if anything, and what was there to begin with. I have a feeling I changed things because, well, that's what I do. The name is one I came up with. At the time I was reading a series of books set in England and the main character used the word "fab" quite often to exclaim over items or food she loved, thus the name for this amazing and easy dish. (On a related note, I got my current favorite word, "gobsmacked" from that series of books as well.). I love that the spinach and broccoli are part of the dish, so you don't have to worry about sides, you've got it all in one!  If you like a saucier macaroni & cheese, double everything except the noodles, broccoli and spinach.

If you and your family like macaroni and cheese, you've got to give this "Fab" recipe a try. You will be absolutely gobsmacked by the results!!!

Fab Mac n’ Cheese 
1 Tbsp. Olive OIl
1/2 large sweet onion, chopped
1 ¾ cup of milk
3 Tbsp. flour
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
½ tsp. garlic powder
½ tsp. paprika
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp nutmeg
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
6 Tbsp. grated Romano cheese
1 box of favorite noodles
1 ½ cups broccoli florets
5 cups spinach

1.)  Boil pasta according to box directions.
2.)  Saute Onions in large pan.  Add 1 cup of milk and heat.
3.)  Pour remaining ¾ cup of milk into medium bowl and whisk in flour and spices.

4.)  Add milk/spice mixture to saucepan and cook 2-3 minutes, whisking constantly, until thickened.

5.)  Remove from heat, whisk in cheddar & cover.
6.)  Cook broccoli and spinach to desired color & texture.

7.)  Drain broccoli and spinach and add to cheese sauce.

8.)  Stir pasta into cheese sauce over medium-low heat until heated through.

Click here for printable version

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Youthful Bread

This is a recipe originally given to me by my friend Shannon.  She did such an amazing job describing it to me that my mouth was literally watering!  Another plus was that it is fantastically easy to make.  The day after Shannon gave me the recipe, I decided to stop by the store on my way home from our church's moms group.  The recipe calls for a 12 ounce can of beer.  As I stood waiting to be rung up, the cashier looked at me closely and said, you're over 21 aren't you?  I smiled and said that there came a time in life when it is really quite flattering to be carded.  She looked at me in disbelief and said, "Oh come on, you can't be more than 23 or 24!  You've got a few years before you need to be flattered".  Well, needless to say I AM over 24, well over, and that made my day!  It wasn't a fakey flattery, it was sincere and I LOVED it!!  So I have affectionately named this bread, Youthful Bread, in commemoration of that wonderful moment in the Albertson's check out line.  

I added 1/2 cup of shredded cheddar cheese to the bread and was thinking some roasted garlic might be nice too.  I've also tried out adding more pictures as I make the recipes.  Let me know what you think!

Let's drink, oh I mean eat, to your youth!
Beer Bread 
3 cups flour, sifted
3 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
4 Tbsp. sugar
1 (12 ounce) can of beer
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
3 Tbsp. melted butter
1 Tbsp. Italian Seasoning
1-2 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese

1.  Preheat your oven to 375 degrees
2.  Mix together all dry ingredients.

3.  Add beer and mix

4.  Mix in cheese
5.  Spread into a greased loaf pan
6.  Pour melted butter over mixture.
7.  Sprinkle top with Italian Seasoning and Parmesan Cheese.

8.  Bake 1 hour, remove from pan and cool for at least 15 minutes.

Click here for printable recipe

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Feeling Corny?

It's been cold up here in the northwest!  Lots of snow, which is gorgeous.  Last night I was feeling in the mood for some nice warm comfort food and decided on chili.  To go with that, I wanted cornbread, but not dry cornbread, something warm and filling and not as crumbly.  I had a few different recipes from different friends and looked them over.  Unfortunately I had ALMOST all the ingredients.  I was missing a couple key ingredients, namely a cornbread mix.  So I grabbed my box of corn meal, turned on my imagination, uh... culinary expertise, and came up with this recipe, which was divine. It's also incredibly easy - an "open, dump and mix" recipe! We drizzled it with honey and it was so delicious.  It could stand by itself it was so good and filling.  It's our go to cornbread now for sure!

So go to it! You won't regret it!

Deluxe Cornbread 
1 cup yellow corn meal
1 cup flour (used white whole wheat)
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. honey
1 can corn, drained
1 can creamed corn
2 eggs
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup sour cream

1.)  Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees
2.)  Grease a 8X8 or 9X9 pan - it's pretty thick - you can use a bigger pan to make a thinner bread, just be sure to reduce the heat to 350 and cook for less time.
3.)  Mix cornmeal, flour, baking powder and salt together.
4.)  Add remaining ingredients and mix well.
5.)  Spread into greased pan and cook for 45-60 minutes, until bread is golden on top and knife inserted in the center of the bread comes out clean.

Click here for printable link

Sunday, January 22, 2012

A most enjoyable way to cook!

Today's post is a little different.  There is no recipe.  I wanted to tell you about one of our favorite ways to cook, the method of cooking that gets the whole family excited.  It's known as Raclette.  Now Raclette is a type of cheese used for cooking, but it's also a method of cooking.  The word Raclette comes from the French racler, which means to scrape.  This method "cooking" originated in the Swiss Alps among shepherds and herdsmen.  The cheese was easy to transport and when heated on rocks near the campfire, melted nicely onto potatoes and was often accompanied by pickles and onions.  There have been many methods by which people have re-created Raclette over the years.  The Raclette grill is a very popular one.  I was first introduced to it on a trip to Germany to visit my sister and her host family.  We had this for dinner one night and I fell in love with the whole idea of it.  Basically you choose your favorite meats, cheeses and vegetables and sit around the Raclette grill and create your own signature dishes.  You can grill meats and vegetables on top while melting cheese over potatoes in your Raclette pans below. The pans, which I call shovels, (because that's what they look like) are relatively small, which means you can try many different combinations of meats, potato, vegetable and cheese.  We added spices and sauces to the mix too. The possibilities are endless!!!The best part is the socializing that occurs while you create.  Many of our best dinners and breakfasts have been around the Raclette grill.

The sky is the limit with this fun little machine!

Our "Raclette Breakfast" yesterday with Will and Anna.

Friday, January 20, 2012

It's good for you!!!!!

This is a recipe I'm very proud of because I made it up myself.  I wanted something healthy to eat for breakfast, for a snack or to put in lunches, something very versatile that I felt good about giving my boys, as well as my husband and myself.  I packed this with fruit and vegetables.  The sweetness comes from the bananas and vanilla.  There is NO extra sugar in here.  I waited with trepidation as my guys tasted them.  Nothing but smiles and requests for more.  You won't miss the added sugar and you'll feel really good about the great stuff you're putting in your body!

I also tried out a technique I discovered on Pinterest when I made these muffins today.  I only have 1 muffin pan and this recipe makes 24.  Using a cookie sheet and the metal rings for canning jar lids, I created another 12 muffin cups!  Check it out!  

So go ahead and make a batch and eat just as many as you like!  No guilt here!  They're good for you!!

Morning Glory Muffins 
2 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup buttermilk
2  cups of mashed bananas
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups flour (I used white whole wheat)
1/2 cups rolled oats, toasted
2 tsp. baking soda for a denser muffin or 1 tsp. baking soda & 1 tsp. baking powder for a lighter muffin.
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups shredded carrots
1 cup shredded apples
1/2 cup dried fruit, pick your favorite!

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Place paper baking cups in regular size muffin cups.
In a large bowl beat eggs, oil, buttermilk, mashed bananas, and vanilla with a wire whisk until well blended.
In another bowl combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg & ginger, and salt. Mix well.
Combine wet and dry ingredients. Mix together.
Fold in shredded carrots, apple, and dried fruit.
Fill muffin cups about 3.4 of the way full.
Bake for 20 - 25 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
Cool for 5 minutes and remove from muffin pans.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Somewhere between a biscuit and a muffin.

This recipe was also one tested on my small group.  They have become my official taste testers for any sweet treats.  I don't think it's a job any of them are upset about, thankfully.  So far, it's been mostly good reviews and if it isn't, well then you certainly won't be reading about it here!!!  These "puffs" are a cross between a biscuit and a muffin.  A nice tall glass of milk or a steaming cup of tea or coffee would be the ideal accompaniment.  I based this loosly on a recipe found in a Gooseberry Patch, Tastes of Fall cookbook.  I adapted it heavily because as much as I love baking sweet treats, even I draw the line at too much sugar and butter.  I cut the sugar in half and the oil by a third.  I also decided NOT to roll the baked muffin in melted butter and then in 1 cup of sugar cinnamon mix.  Feel free to add this back in if it sounds good to you.  I was very pleased with the end result, it is perfect for breakfast or a snack.

Spice Puffs   
3 cups of flour (used white whole wheat)
1/8 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
2 Tbsp. of cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/8 tsp. ground ginger
1 cup of sugar
1 cup of oil
2 eggs
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
1 cup milk

For topping:
2 Tbsp. cinnamon
2 Tbsp. sugar

1.)  Combine flour, salt, baking powder and 2 Tbsp. of cinnamon.
2.)  In separate bowl, mix sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla together and blend for 1 minute @ medium speed.
3.)  Add eggs mixture to flour mixture and add milk, mixing well.
4.)  Fill greased muffin tins 2/3 full of batter.
5.)  Sprinkle the tops of the muffins with the cinnamon/sugar mixture
6.)  Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.
*** Makes 12-14 muffins.

Click here for printable recipe

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

German Baking

One thing I remember vividly from my time in Germany is walking into a bakery and being overwhelmed by the wonderful aroma and endless choices of baked good available to me.  I loved everything I tried and one of my favorites was apfel kuchen - apple cake.  I tried this recipe out for our small group Bible study last night and it's a definite keeper.  I changed quite a few things, as usual.  My overall result was not as pretty as the ones I remember in the bakery windows in Germany, but the taste left absolutely NOTHING to be desired.

Guten appetit!!!

Apfel Kuchen - German Apple Cake 
1 1/2 cups flour (I used white whole wheat)
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup oil
1 tsp. vanilla
5-6 apples, cored, peeled and sliced
1 Tbsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/8 tsp. ground ginger

For Drizzling Over before baking (just mix together in small bowl)
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. cinnamon

For Glaze, after baking & cooled:
4 Tbsp. apricot jam, 4 Tbsp. water

1.)  Combine flour, sugar, baking powder & salt in a mixing bowl; then make a well in the center & set aside.
2.)  Blend egg, milk and oil together in a small mixing bowl.
3.)  Add egg mixture to dry mixture and stir until just moistened.
4.)  Spread batter into a greased 13X9 inche baking dish.
5.)  Arrange apple sliced in rows, slightly overlapping, on top of the batter, covering it completely.
6.)  Drizzle top butter/cinnamon/sugar/vanilla mixture
7.)  Bake @ 375 degrees for 40-45 minutes.
8.)  Combine jam & water in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until the jam melts. 
9.)  When kuchen is cooled, brush with glaze.

Click here for printable recipe

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Plum Good!

When we first moved to "the land of apples and hops", we got an invitation to a plum picking potluck.  I was ecstatic!  Food, fellowship & fun.  We picked over 40 pounds of plums that night.  I just couldn't stop, it was addictive.  Every time I thought I was done, I'd see a few more.  My husband had to pull me away from the trees, which involved getting me down a ladder too.  Needless to say, we had more plums than we knew what to do with.  I started creating plum bread, freezing plums, making plum sauce and the list goes on.  One of our favorite items from this plum craziness was this plum crisp.  It was the perfect blend of sweet, tart & crispy!
Try it, it's just "plum" good!!!

Gretchen's Plum Crisp
Plums (I would estimate I ended up with about 7-8 cups, once they were pitted and chopped.  They were small damson plums, so a little more tart than other varieties).
4 Tbsp of sugar (use less if you have a sweeter plum)
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp. nutmeg

Crumble Topping
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup flour (whole wheat or white - whole wheat tasted really good)
3/4 cup of brown sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
3/4  cup of butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Mix together chopped plums, sugar and spices and let sit.
Mix together oats, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger & nutmeg.  Cut in butter until mixture is coarse and crumbly.
Pour plum mixture into a baking dish (I used 2 pie plates, but any deep dish pan would work.
Sprinkle the crumb topping mixture over the plums.
Bake for 40 minutes.  Let sit for 20 minutes.

Click here for printable recipe

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Apple pie as a finger food!

My friend Lacie makes this amazing treat and once I'd tried it, I HAD to have the recipe.  I did add ginger & nutmeg to the apple mixture & vanilla to the glaze, but didn't mess with anything else.
I love that you can have apple pie without the plate and fork.  These bars are soooooo delicious.  You won't be able to stay away once you've tried them.  They look so rustic to me and I adore the rustic look.  If you're looking for a dessert sure to please everyone, look no further than this.  You won't be disappointed.

Mosey on up to these bars for a satisfying experience!!

3 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup shortening (I use butter flavor)
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup milk
6 cups sliced, peeled apples
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
2 Tb flour
1-2 tsp cinnamon (depending on how you like cinnamon)
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
For Top:
1 egg white, lightly beaten
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 to 3 tsp water
1/2 tsp. vanilla

1.) Combine flour and salt, then cut in shortening until it resembles coarse crumbs.
2.) Combine egg yolk and milk, add to flour mixture. Stir just until dough clings together.
3.)  Divide dough in half and on a slightly floured surface, roll half of dough into a 15 X 10 inch rectangle, transfer to greased 15 X 10 X1 inch baking pan (Lacie's note: I just use a cookie sheet that is about an inch deep and roll my dough to fit my pan).
4.) In a bowl, toss together filling ingredients; spoon over pastry in pan. 
5.) Roll out remaining dough to another 15 X 10 rectangle.  Place over filling.  Brush with egg white.
6.) Bake at 375 for 40 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool on wire rack.
7.) Combine powdered sugar and enough water to achieve a drizzling consistency. 
8.) Drizzle over warm pastry.  Cut into squares.

Click here for printable recipe

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

I love Rachael Ray

Rachael Ray officially made me feel like I could cook again after having children.  There was a time that I felt like I'd never be able to get into the kitchen and actually make a meal, let alone enjoy my baking again.  I started watching the Food Network while I nursed my oldest and found her 30 minute meals and loved them.  I loved them so much that I received several of her cookbooks the next Christmas.  One of them is called "Express Lane Meals".  I fell particularly in love with the "meals for the exhausted" section of the book.  That is where this particular recipe comes from and it's about as easy as you can get, she calls it a "chop, drop and open" recipe.  It doesn't taste like a quick and easy recipe - big flavor and very satisfying.  I stumbled on the greatest accompaniment to it as well, lime flavored tortilla chips.  Talk about a match made in heaven!

Enjoy a hearty bowl of this soup tonight!

Rachael Ray's Smoky Black Bean & Rice Stoup 
2 Tbsp. olive oil
3 bacon slices, chopped
1 bay leaf
2 celery ribs, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 cup frozen corn kernels
2 15 ounce cans of black beans
1 Tbsp ground coriander
1 Tbsp. ground cumin
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp hot sauce
salt and pepper to taste
1 15 ounce can of diced fire-roasted tomatoes
1 8 ounce can tomato sauce
1 quart chicken stock
1 cup rice

1.)  Heat oil in a medium sized soup pot.
2.)  Add bacon and cook for 3-4 minutes
3.)  Add the bay leaf, celery, onions and garlic and cook for 3-4 minutes to soften them
4.)  Add corn and 1 can of black beans.  Drain the other can and add half of that can, mash the remaining beans with a fork to make a paste out of them, then scrape them into the soup pot (makes for thicker soup).  I don't always do this and it tastes just fine and is plenty thick for us.
5.)  Season the veggies and beans with coriander, chili, group cumin, Worcestershire and hot sauce.
6.)  Season the mixture with salt and pepper to taste.
7.)  Stir in tomatoes, tomato sauce and stock, then cover pot and raise heat to bring to a boil.
8.)  Add the rice and cook over a rolling simmer until rice is tender (about 15 minutes)
9.)  Serve with lime tortilla chips and garnish with sour cream & chives!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Spices Galore!

One of my favorite aspects of Indian food is the flavor derived from the use of spices, LOTS of spices.  This dish was introduced to me by my friend Brandi and my husband and I instantly loved it.  It doesn't disappoint on flavor or spices, or spice for that matter - it can be a bit hot.  I've adapted it a little so that our kids can enjoy it as well.  I had to after the first time I made it when my oldest was a very little guy and he turned red and gasped for water.  It's not that hot, but to a 2 year old it was.
Chana is Hindi for chickpea and Masala refers the use of the spice garam masala, a blend of spices common in northern India cuisine.  The spice blend often includes white and black peppercorns, cloves, cumin, cardamom, nutmeg, anise and coriander.  . This is another seriously easy vegetarian meal that can be paired with chicken for those who like meat with dinner.  I've also blended it to make some amazing hummus or for use as a sauce for pasta.  It is incredibly versatile that way!

So grab some tasty naan and enjoy some flavors of India!

Chana Masala 
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 small fresh green chili peppers, chopped (I choose milder versions for now)
1 3/4" of ginger root, minced
4 Tbsp. olive oil
4 tsp. ground coriander
2 tsp. cumin seeds
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (I leave this out for now with kids)
1 tsp. turmeric
2 tsp ground cumin
4 tsp. lemon juice
2 tsp. paprika
1 14 ounce can of diced tomatoes
3 1/4 cup of chickpeas/garbanzo beans
1 tsp. garam masala
salt to taste

1.)  Cook onion, garlic and ginger & chilies in olive oil until softened, stir occasionally
2.)  Add all spices, except the masala and cook over low heat for 1-2 minutes; Stir Continuously!
3.)  Add tomatoes, roughly chopped, in juice
4.)  Add cooked chickpeas & mix well
5.)  Cook for 30 minutes over medium heat, stir occasionally
6.)  Add masala & salt (in the original recipe the chilies are added here, but we prefer them cooked for now)
7.)  Stir well and serve immediately.

Click here for printable recipe

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Make 'em all - Part 3 (The Trilogy Ends)

This is the final recipe in the "Make 'em all" trilogy and I must admit my favorite and most adapted recipe. :)  The original recipe called for walnuts and maple syrup. I didn't have either, so I substituted roasted hazelnuts and honey.  I really loved the outcome and so it will stay that way in our house!
And now for your history lesson..... Rugelach is a traditional Jewish pastry which originated among the Ashkenazi Jewish communities along the Rhine river in Germany. The name is Yiddish and when looking at the root meanings, it refers to "little twists" or "little corners", which is a very descriptive name for these little rolled cookies!  Another favorite name was coined by our friend Kyle, "grown up honey-nut Cheerios".

This is another great recipe to pair with a great cup of coffee or tea, along with finding a "little corner" of your own and curling up with a good book.

Honey-Hazelnut Rugelach 
4 ounces (half of an 8 ounce package) cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
2 Tbsp honey
1/4 tsp. salt
1 egg yolk
1 1/2 cup of flour (I used white whole wheat)
1 Cup finely ground hazelnuts
1/3 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. honey
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 egg white
1 tsp. water
1 tsp sugar

1.) Prepare dough by beating together cream cheese, butter, sugar, honey, salt and egg yolk.  Beat until smooth.  Then beat in flour until just blended.  Shape dough into a ball.  Wrap and refrigerate until firm (about 2 hours).
2.)  Prepare filling by stirring together hazelnuts, 1/3 cup sugar, honey and spices.
3.)  Grease 2 large baking sheets and preheat oven to 350 degrees.
4.)  Divide dough in half.  Roll half of the dough out on a lightly floured surface.  Roll to 1/8 inch thickness.  Cut dough into a 10 inch circle.  Spread circle with half of the nut mixture.  Cut dough into 16 equal pie-shaped wedges.
5.)  Starting with the outer edge, roll up the wedge and place cookies, point side down, on baking sheets.
6.)  Repeat steps 4 & 5 with remaining dough.
7.)  Lightly beat egg white and water together and brush over the tops of the cookies.  Then sprinkle lightly with the tsp. of sugar.
8.)  Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until lightly golden.  Cool on wire racks.

Click here for printable version

Make 'em all - Part 2

This is the second of the "Make 'em all" trilogy that began with coffee cake.  This recipe appealed to me right away because it looked incredible and it includes hazelnuts.  I adore hazelnuts and their flavor. As I've stated before, the picture draws me in first.  It's how I decide that I want to make it. Occasionally the ingredients will dissuade me, but often times not.  In this one, the ingredients just solidified my desire to make it.  It also made my house smell INCREDIBLE while it baked!!!This one is not incredibly sweet and can be somewhat dry, yet hugely flavorful.  I would recommend pairing it with a great cup of coffee or tea for an absolutely wonderful time of relaxing indulgence.

Indulge and Enjoy!

Hazelnut Shortbread 
3 cups cake flour or regular flour (I used white whole wheat)
3/4 cup powdered sugar (also called 10X sugar - never knew that!)
1/2 cup hazelnuts, toasted and ground
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/4 cups unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate, melted (I used chocolate chips)

1.)  Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees
2.)  Stir together flour, powdered sugar, hazelnuts and salt in a medium size bowl.
3.)  Cut butter into flour mixture with fork or pastry blender, until it resembles coarse crumbs.
4.)  Knead mixture together until it holds together and then divide dough in half
5.)  Place each half on an ungreased baking sheet and pat out into 9 inch circles, then crimp edges.
6.)  Cut each circle into 12 equal wedges, but do not separate.
7.)  Bake in 325 degree oven for 30-35 minutes, or until golden brown.
8.)  Drizzle with chocolate, if using, when shortbread is hot.
9.)  Cool 10 minutes, then recut to separate wedges.  Cool completely

Click here for printable recipe.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

When you can't decide, make 'em ALL!

This became my motto last Tuesday when I looked through my cookbooks for a new and yummy recipe to make for our small group Bible study.  I found three that looked good and when I couldn't make the decision between the three, I chose to make them all.  I don't work on Tuesday, so a day of baking seemed like a good idea, especially since my 4 year old loves to help me in the kitchen and he's good at it.  These recipes come from my "Family Circle Cookbook" with a few adaptations from yours truly.  They were all a hit, as far as I could tell from the small group peeps.  Here is the first installment of the 3 recipes I made.

Here's to hoping this satisfies your sweet tooth!

Sour Cream Apple-Cranberry Coffee Cake 
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup warm water
1 envelope of active dry yeast
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/3 cup sour cream
1 egg, slightly beaten
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups flour (white or whole wheat, depending on your personal preference)
Fruit Filling:
3-4 apples (pealed, cored and cut into 1/4 inch cubes)
1 Tbsp. butter
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
Streusel Topping:
1/3 cup flour
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
2 Tbsp. butter, cold

1.) Prepare dough:  Combine 1 Tbsp. sugar (from the 1/4 cup) & warm water.  Sprinkle yeast over the top; stir to dissolve yeast.  Let stand until foamy (about 10 minutes).
2.) Heat milk and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat, until warm.  The butter should not melt completely.  Let the mixture cool to lukewarm.
3.)  Beat together yeast mixture, remaining sugar, milk mixture, sour cream, egg, vanilla, salt and flour in large bowl until smooth.  Beat mixture for 1 minute.  Scrape down side of bowl.  Cover bowl with oiled plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size (about 1 hour)
4.)  Grease a 13X9X2 inch baking pan.  Stir down dough; spread evening in pan.  Cover with greased plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled (about 45 minutes)
5.)  Prepare fruit filling by peeling, coring and cubing apples.  Melt butter in a large skillet and add apples; saute 4 minutes or until partially cooked and very lightly browned.  Cool slightly and stir in cranberries.
6.)  Prepare streusel by combining flour, sugar and spices.  Cut in the butter with a fork or pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
7.)  Spoon the filling evening over dough, then spread the streusel topping over the filling.
8.)  Bake at 350 degrees until bubbly and top is slightly crusty (about 30 minutes).  Serve Warm.

Click here for printable recipe

Ode to Pat & Oscar's

Okay, there are a few things I miss about living in Southern California, along with some dear friends and family, those things include Rubio's and Pat & Oscar's.  I can't make fish tacos and don't even want to try at this point, but I have been trying my hand at recreating the bread sticks and pasta dishes at Pat & Oscar's.  They have a delicious pasta called "Mato-Fredo" there that combines their marinara pasta sauce with their alfredo sauce.  It makes me hungry just typing this!!!  Well, I decided to get going on a copy-cat version of my own.  It turned out pretty darn good!  I call it, "Spi-mato-fredo" because I added spinach to the dish as well.  It's been given the official  "stamp of approval" from my amazing friend Stacy, who generally makes me feel like the most fantastic cook ever placed in a kitchen!  To top it all off, this dish is EASY!!!  So if you are looking for a quick, hot and satisfying meal to make for your family, you've got it in this recipe!  If you have to have meat for dinner in order to feel like it's really dinner, chicken is a wonderful addition to this dish!

Enjoy the extra time with the family this easy recipe will give you!

1 box of your favorite pasta
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium sweet onion (optional - but we like onions at our house), finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 jar/can of your favorite pasta sauce (or you can make your own, but that would defeat the purpose of the quick & easy part of this recipe. :))
1 jar of your favorite alfredo sauce (again, you can make your own, but if you're going for quick and easy...)
1 bunch of fresh spinach (washed with stems removed) or a box of frozen spinach
Parmesan Cheese for garnish

1.)  Prepare pasta according to the box directions
2.)  In a seperate pan, heat olive oil and saute onions until tender, add garlic for the last minute.
3.)  Add pasta sauce & alfredo sauce and heat through
4.)  Add spinach and heat until spinach is soft
5.)  Mix pasta with sauce & garnish with parmesan!

Click here for printable version

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Use your noodle!

Noodles are a number one favorite in our house.  Pasta or Chinese, doesn't matter, I know it will be a hit if it involves noodles.  I got this recipe a while ago from my friend Andrea.  It was so flavorful, so simple and SO QUICK!  I added a few ingredients and a step or two.  You really could do whatever you want with it.  Add the vegetables, or meat, your family likes best.  I made a double batch last night and there was nothing left to show for it this morning.  I'll let that last statement speak for itself.

Japanese Noodles with Tomatoes (& lots of other vegetables now) 
**Adapted from "Moosewood Restaurant Cooking for Health cookbook"
8 oz soba noodles
2 Tbs sesame oil (toated)
2 Tbs. soy sauce
1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
2 Cups diced tomatoes (I used whole grape tomatoes)
1 Lg. Red Pepper (Roasted in oven until slightly blackened & sliced)
1-2 Cups of broccoli florets
1/4 Cup slices scallions/green onions
1 Cup Edamame

1.)  Cook Noodles according to package directions.
2.)  Roast red pepper @ 500 degrees (about 5 minutes) until slightly blackened, then slice
3.)  Saute broccoli & edamame for about 3 minutes
4.)  Add in sliced green onions & saute one more minute
5.)  Add vegetables to drained noodles & mix in sesame oil, olive oil & soy sauce.

*** The noodles will be cold from the rinse following boiling.  If you'd prefer a hot dish, throw everything back into a large skillet for a couple of minutes. 

Click here for printable version