Saturday, April 24, 2010

An update to the blog

In my quest to do some housekeeping on the blog, I've created a whole new page for my recipes. Check out to the right under the "Pages" category the link called "Recipes Found on this blog" Now they are organized under category and with a quick click of the mouse, you will see the original blog post with the recipe. I hope this makes it easier for you to find new recipes to try out. Please ignore the fact that the dessert sections is quite extensive. (smile)

Friday, April 23, 2010

Fudgy Cappuccino Crinkles Cookies

Anything that says "Cappuccino" in the title catches my eye. OK "Fudgy" catches my eye too. Crinkles is too close to Wrinkles and can't be good. But "Cappuccino" and "Fudgy" cancel that out. You have just had a glimpse inside my very busy head and its workings. Scary 'aint it.

These cookies are so good that you will forget all about my head and its workings.

FUDGY CAPPUCCINO CRINKLES

1/3 cup butter, softened (no substitutes)
1 cup packed brown sugar
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon instant coffee granules
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (I love Saigon cinnamon)
2 egg whites
1/3 cup vanilla yogurt
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup powdered sugar

Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
Beat butter in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds.
Add the brown sugar, cocoa powder, coffee granules, baking soda, and cinnamon.
Beat until combined, scraping sides of the bowl occasionally.
Beat in egg whites and yogurt until combined.
Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer.
Stir in remaining flour with a wooden spoon. (My KitchenAid handled it just fine)

Cover and chill dough for 3 hours or until easy to handle. (try not to eat all the dough)
Place powdered sugar in a small bowl.
Drop dough by heaping teaspoons into sugar and roll into balls. (I use a melon baller for uniform cookie size.)
Place balls 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until edges are firm.
Transfer cookies to wire racks and cool.
Devour.

This makes 40 cookies. Do not eat 40 cookies. Put some in a container with wax paper between the layers and freeze. They defrost quickly for company and they are handily out of sight, out of mind.
Caution: Do not tell your husband there are cookies in the freezer. He will pull them out and consume half of them and leave the rest dangerously on the countertop for you to find.

No Hummingbirds were Harmed in the Making of this Cake! Promise.

Another tea. Another table full of delicious goodies. I tried out a new recipe on a brave friend that didn't mind playing guinea pig yesterday. I didn't feel like it was much of a risk since the Queen of "butter" herself had this recipe in her cookbook, Paula Deen Celebrates.

Hummingbird Cake is not made from tiny hummingbird carcasses. Nor is it made from hundreds of tiny hummingbird eggs (I'm giggling over the thought of cracking open hundreds of teensie eggs). Nope. No one really knows why it is called this, but there are several theories. If you are really bored, read here.

The only change I made was that I lightly oven toasted the 1/2 cup of chopped pecans that went on top of the cake. I also used fresh pineapple. I had to borrow another cake pan from a neighbor since I do not own 3 cake pans. Who does? The clean pan went back to its home with a sampling of this cake inside. Confession: I made the mistake of not noticing that it was "self-rising" flour and my cake was a little dense. Don't make that mistake! I'm posting the picture of someone else's cake since mine didn't look that good. It was still gone in 3.2 seconds after it was baked and iced. Guess I will just have to try again. A cheer goes up from the crowd.


HUMMINGBIRD CAKE
(from Paula Deen Celebrates cookbook)

3 Cups self-rising flour
(Note: one cup self-rising flour equals: 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder, plus 1/8 teaspoons salt)2 Cups granulated sugar
3/4 Cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup chopped pecans
2 very ripe large bananas – mashed
1 can (8oz) crushed pineapple (I used fresh)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp ground cinnamon
4 large eggs, beaten

ICING RECIPE
1 pound box confectioners’ sugar
8oz package cream cheese- room temp
6 tbs butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbs milk, more if needed
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans (I slightly toasted them in the oven)

Preheat oven to 325

Grease and flour three 8 inch round cake pans. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, oil, 1/2 cup pecans, bananas, pineapple, vanilla, cinnamon and beaten eggs. Stir well until smooth.

Pour batter into the 3 pans and bake for 26-28 min, or until tops spring back. Let cool in pans for 10 min. Then cool on racks completely.

Make the icing by mixing the sugar, cream cheese, butter, vanilla and 1 tbs milk in a large bowl with an electric mixer. Mix until smooth. If needed add more milk, 1 tsp at a time for proper spreading consistency. Ice between each layer and on the top and sides. Sprinkle the top with pecans. Keep refrigerated.

Enjoy!

How to get your stainless steel sink and pots looking like new

I'm a huge fan of stainless steel sinks. My MIL (who is the queen of clean) gave me a tip. When her plumber first installed her stainless steel sink some 30+ years ago, he suggested Cameo Aluminum & Stainless Steel Cleaner. She said at first she thought it was just a regular cleaner until she tried it and realized it was a polish as well as a cleaner. The more you use it, the shiner your sink gets. Let me tell you, her sink shines beautifully. I gave it a try when I was first married (in 1988) and have loved it ever since. I stock up whenever I see it at my Wal-Mart because their stocking of it on their shelves is hit or miss. I tried other "polish" products over the years when I couldn't find Cameo and have been very disappointed. Cameo works amazingly on my aluminum pots. They shine like new. My MIL also uses it on her cookie sheets and cake pans. They always look brand new.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Pass the butter ya'll


Hey Ya'll, look what I won from Add More Chocolate Blog sight. Thanks Renee! Can't wait to get cooking. Now where is my butter dish ya'll? I'm saying ya'll too much... can't stop... please someone help me.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Home Design Software

I'm just a tiny bit obsessed with lighting right now. We had some pretty horrid builder grade lighting fixtures in our house. I had some ideas for changing out our kitchen lighting, but wasn't really sure how it would look. I had purchased the Better Homes and Gardens software called "Home Designer" a while back and have fooled with it from from to time. It really isn't hard to use, but some things are a little tricky and as I don't use it on a daily basis, I usually forget how to do particular things and have to look it up in the "Help" file over and over. Or maybe I'm just a dumb, dumb head. Either way, it still isn't hard to use and I like it. They have come up with 2 upgrades since I first purchased it, so maybe those buggy things are gone now.

Here is what the lighting looks like that I designed. The software has a cool option to take a picture of a particular angle and save it. Oh... I'm showing my nerdy side now. Sexy ain't it! (My nerdy side and the room)

I had fun with it. I put a knife block just where I have mine next to the stove. I even put a blender and a cookbook. Not that I need a cookbook to use my blender. It's just so fun. You can "walk" around the room in 3D. Look at it from all angles. Take cool pictures from all angles to send obsessively to your husband at work to bug him.

The only complaint I have is that the software company sends you some very cool extra things to put in your room. Like blenders and cookbooks. But the files are huge and take up mega space on your computer. But they are so fun! After all, what fun is making your kitchen if you can't put your blender on the island.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Chicken Pot Pie

This is my "go to" recipe (as in "go to" when you are hankering for some comfort food. I don't know where "hankering" came from. I must be feeling very Texan today). It makes two pot pies. The additional pie can be frozen cooked for another day. I love how this recipe uses up leftover baked chicken. Sometimes I’ll bake an extra chicken just so I can make this recipe! A family favorite. Lots of step-by-step pictures below. Enjoy!

Chicken Pot Pie

1 C. chopped onion
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
4 C. chicken stock
1 T. chopped fresh parsley (or 1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes)
½ teaspoon celery salt
2 C. sliced carrots (I use frozen, presliced)
1 C. cubed potatoes
1 C. Green beans (I use frozen green beans)
1 C. peas (frozen)
1 teas. Rosemary (I bake my chicken with rosemary, so if you don’t, add rosemary)
salt & pepper to taste
Leftover chicken from about ½ of a baked chicken

Thickener to be mixed in separate bowl:
1/3 cup whole wheat flour
½ c. water

Sauté onion in a little vegetable oil. Add chicken stock, parsley, celery salt, carrots, potatoes and green beans. Simmer until vegetables are tender (about 24 minutes). Add peas. In a small bowl mix the flour with water. Stir into vegetable mixture. Simmer until thickened, stirring frequently. Add chicken and remove from heat.

Prepare pastry:

8” pie shell (this recipe will make enough for a top and bottom for two pies)
3 c. flour
1 teas. salt
1 cup shortening
8 to 10 Tablespoons cold water (Put ice cubes in water to ensure the coldest water)

9” pie shell (this recipe will make enough for a top and bottom for two pies)
4 c. flour
2 teas. Salt
1 1/3 C. shortening
10 to 14 Tablespoons cold water (Put ice cubes in water to ensure the coldest water)

Mix dry ingredients; cut in shortening; stir in cold water.

Divide your dough into four pieces. 2 for the top of both pies and 2 for the bottom of both pies. Generously flour your surface and rolling pin and roll out the first ball into a circle. Flip your pie pan over on top to check the size. Roll out about 1" bigger than your pie pan.







Place it in your pie pan, add filling and roll out the top crust of the pie.





once you roll out your top crust, sprinkle lightly with flour and fold in half.



Then sprinkle again and fold in half again. Put on the top of your pie as shown.






Unfold and then crimp the edges with your fingers to seal the edges so the filling doesn't leak out. You don't need to get fancy here.











cut three slits in the top for venting. Cover the top loosely with foil and lightly pinch around the crust so you can see where the edges of the crust are under the foil.















Recruit a very cute helper to cut out the middle of the foil. Place the foil back on the pie and more tightly pinch it so that the foil fits more tightly around the pie. This protects the crust from burning. Don't skip this part. You will be happy when your crust comes out so pretty from the oven.














Cook 425º for 35 minutes. The beautiful final result. Enjoy!


Saturday, April 10, 2010

Chicken and Asparagus Crepes

This recipe is so worth the effort it takes to make this dish. I only wish I had doubled it! It also refrigerates well so you could make it Saturday night, refrigerate it and you can pop it into the oven after church on Sunday for 15 minutes for an easy gourmet meal! And no comments about the unbelievable amounts of butter in this recipe. This is a French recipe after all! Viva la France! Viva la tummy roll.

First you make the crepes. You have to make the batter first and refrigerate it for an hour, so get started early. You can also make them ahead of time and put in the fridge with waxed paper between the crepes and tightly wrapped in plastic wrap. Keep in the fridge up to 3 days.

Crepes (supposed to make 12 but I made 7 larger ones):
3/4 cup all purpose flour
3 large eggs, beaten
3/4 cup plus 3 Tbl. whole milk
pinch salt
4 1/2 tsp. of melted unsalted butter for the batter
1 1/2 tsp. of melter butter for your pan (Pam could also work just fine)

Whisk together the flour, eggs, milk, salt and 4 1/2 tsp. of butter for form a smooth, thin batter. Refrigerate for at least one hour.

Heat a heavy 6-inch skillet over medium high heat (I used a larger skillet to make larger crepes). Brush with butter (or spray with Pam). Ladle 1/4 cup of crepe batter into the pan, tilting the skillet to evenly coat the pan with batter. It doesn't have to be perfect please. Cook until golden brown on the bottom and the top begins to look dry, 1 to 2 minutes. Use a spatula, carefully turn the crepe and cook on the second side just until the bottom colors slightly, about 30 seconds. I was surprised how easy it is to turn if you let it cook enough on the first side. Transfer to a plate. Put pieces of waxed paper between the crepes.

Ingredients:

crepes (recipe above)
4 Tbl. butter (more butter below, I know...)
1/4 cup all purpose flour
2 cups chicken stock, hot
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups heavy cream (I substituted with whole milk successfully)
1 Tbl. milk
1 cup grated Gruyere (I substituted Mozzarella here)
3/4 cup grated Parmesan

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2 inch dice (I had previously baked a chicken and removed the meat and froze it. I used that for this recipe)
2 Tbl. butter
6 asparagus stalks chopped into 1/4" pieces
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves minced
1/4 pound baked ham, chopped (about 3/4 cup) (I used chopped uncooked turkey bacon)
1 tsp. tarragon
1/4 tsp. salt

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Butter (or use Parchment paper) a glass 9 x 13 pan

Sauce: In a medium saucepan, melt 4 Tbl. of butter over medium heat. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened into a pale blond roux, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the hot stock in a steady stream, whisking to incorporate. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring frequently until thick. Add 1/4 tsp. of salt and 1/8 tsp. of pepper and stir to incorporate. Slowly whisk in the cream and simmer, stirring, until well incorporated and thickened. Remove from the heat and very lightly film the top with the milk to prevent a skin from forming.

Insides: In a large pan or skillet, heat 2 Tbl. of butter over medium-high heat. Add the uncooked chicken (if you are using cooked chicken, we'll add that later). Brown and cook through about 4 minutes. Add the asparagus, onion and garlic and cook until the onions are clear. Add the salt, tarragon and pepper. Add the ham (or bacon) and cook for 2 minutes. (If you are using pre-cooked chicken, add it after the ham/bacon is cooked). Add 1/4 cup water and stir to deglaze (get the good stuff off the bottom of the pan). Add 1 cup of your Sauce (above) to this mixture. Turn off of the heat and let it cool a bit. Add the cheeses to your cream sauce and stir.

Now to the good part!

Put your crepes on a work surface. One at a time, spoon the filling along the bottom third of each crepe. Roll up. Place seam side down into your baking dish. Continue until you have used up all your crepes.

Pour the cheesy cream sauce on and bake for 15 to 20 minutes.
(Note: after you pour the cheesy cream sauce on, you can cover the crepes tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 day or freeze for 3 days. Bring to room temperature before baking.)

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Beer Bread - Look like a gourmet cook in 3 easy steps

I don't think there are much easier recipes than that of Beer Bread. I also think there aren't many breads as tasty! No rising, no kneading, no yeast, no problem!

You can change the flavor of the bread by changing the beer. I've used Samuel Adams, Corona and Shiner Bock. I think the best flavor has been with the Shiner Bock since it is naturally a little sweet. Also, I'm a little partial to anything Texan! Tee hee.

Here is the easy recipe:

Beer Bread

1 can or bottle of any beer (12 fluid ounces)
3 cups of flour
3 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 cup sugar

2 Tbl. butter (for after the loaf comes out of the oven)

Step 1: Grease a 9 x 5 loaf pan.

Step 2: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. When you oven reaches this temperature, then and only then should you start the mixing process. It's quick and you don't want your batter sitting around waiting for your oven to heat up.

Step 3: In a large bowl mix together the dry ingredients. Make a hole in the middle of your flour mixture and pour in the beer. Mix with a wooden spoon. The batter will be real sticky. Pour into your loaf pan. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes. The top will be crunchy and the inside will be deliciously soft. Melt the butter and pour over the top. Then you melt as you taste the deliciousness of it all.

The other day I made this for a friend along with red beans and rice. I think I have a friend for life (or someone I could call on to donate a kidney if necessary).

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