Thursday, January 26, 2012

Fudgy Brownies a/k/a a good diversion from your New Year's Diet

A friend wanted me to share my brownie recipe. Here it is:

Fudgy Brownies
4 squares of unsweetened chocolate (1 ounce each)
1 cup butter (softened)
2 cups granulated sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp. salt (I like Kosher)
1 cup walnuts (or pecans if you like)

Heat oven to 350. Grease your pan or use parchment paper at the bottom of a 9 x 13 pan. Melt the chocolate in your microwave according to the package directions. Cream the butter and sugar. Add the melted chocolate. After the chocolate is well mixed in (and cooler), add the eggs one at a time (mixing well between each one). Mix in remaining ingredients (except nuts). Don't overmix here. Mix just until all the ingredients are incorporated. Mix in nuts in just a few turns of your mixer. Spread in the pan. Bake for 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. You can frost them with your favorite frosting after they cool slightly.

A optional topping we sometimes do is peanut butter. Put your favorite smooth peanut butter in a small zipper bag. Cut off a small portion of one corner. Pipe lines up and down the longest side of your pan a few inches apart. Take a toothpick and drag it through the lines. Drag it the other way. Here is a tutorial on another blog http://sweetopia.net/2010/04/how-to-marble-royal-icing/

Friday, January 13, 2012

More Winter Garden Beauty

Thought I would share a few pictures of my winter garden to help brighten you day! Isn't God's creation magnificent!

huge head of cabbage! Check out my feetsies at the bottom. of the picture for scale. 

cauliflower

huge head of cauliflower

Garden No. 3

Sweet Pea flower

Beautiful sweet pea pod - we have been eating them raw in salad - delish!

Regrowth of broccoli. After you cut away the initial head, you get tons of little shoots that come up.

a big fat, gorgeous Kale plant. Is there anything more beautiful?

My first harvest of cauliflower. Yummy! I'm going to try the mashed  them like mashed potatoes. 

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Easy Enchilada Casserole

 Do you own a cast iron skillet? If you don't, you should think about investing in one. They are not expensive and the quality of cooking you can do with one surpasses any fancy skillet. Browning meat in cast iron is wonderful and you can't beat cornbread made in a cast iron skillet. The recipe below calls for one. Sure, you can get by with your regular pots, but a cast iron pot makes it so much better.
Tortillas - I love to use Guerrero uncooked Taco Tortillas. A dear friend told me about them and I haven't used anything else since. Of course you can substitute already cooked Tortillas, but once you brown your own Guerrero tortillas in your cast iron skillet, you may never switch back. I brown them quickly in my black cast iron pan with the tiniest amount of corn oil. After the tortillas are done and the pot is nice and hot, you can cook the meat.

Sometimes I have a little taco meat leftover after my family eats my ground beef tacos. I usually save this in a small tupperware in the freezer. When I get a good amount, I make nachos or Enchilada Casserole. I thought you might like the recipe for my Enchilada Casserole.

Taco Meat - (You can make a double batch and freeze half for another day of Tacos or Nachos)
1 lb. Ground Beef (low fat) (you can also use ground turkey)
1 Tbl. Olive or Corn oil
1 finely chopped yellow onion
1 clove of garlic minced
2 tsp. cumin
2 stems of cilantro chopped
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. Kosher salt
dash of Cholula Hot Sauce (or your favorite mexican hot sauce)
Brown the ground beef in the vegetable oil in a heavy black cast iron pan. The browner, the more flavor you will have. When the meat is browned, saute the onion and garlic until they turn clear. You don't need to remove the meat to saute the vegetables. Add the rest of the seasonings and 1/4 cup of water. Cook on low  for 10 minutes.
Enchilada Sauce
1 tablespoon butter
1 yellow onion, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2  cans tomato paste + 4 cans of water
1 (28 ounce) can fire roasted tomatoes Muir Glen Organic
2 Tbl. chili powder
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt

Saute the onions and garlic in the butter. Once the onions turn clear, add the bell pepper and cook for 5 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients. Cook for 20 minutes. Run through your blender to make a smooth sauce. I highly recommend the blender if children will be eating. This recipe makes more than you need for the Enchilada recipe below. Use the extra to spread on a tortilla, sprinkle with cheese, roll and microwave until cheese melts for a quick afternoon snack. This sauce is so much healthier and more delicious than any canned sauce!
EASY ENCHILADAS CASSEROLE
2 cups of grated sharp cheddar cheese
6 flour tortillas
Taco Meat (above)
Enchilada sauce (above)
1/4 - 1/2 cup sour cream
sliced jalapenos (optional)
Preheat oven to 350. Use 9 x 11 pan. Spray bottom of pan with non-stick spray or lay out a sheet of parchment paper. Layer with flat tortillas first, meat, a few small globs of sour cream all around the pan, enchilada sauce. Then again: tortillas, meat, sour cream, enchilada sauce top with cheese. You can also add jalapenos on top. Cover with foil (sprayed with non-stick spray) Bake for 20 minutes in 350 oven. Remove foil and bake for another 10 minutes.
Gluten/Dairy Free Option
Enchiladas 

Taco Meat - (You can make a double batch and freeze half for another day of Tacos or Nachos)
1 lb. Ground Beef (low fat) (you can also use ground turkey)
1 Tbl. Olive or Corn oil
1 finely chopped yellow onion
1 clove of garlic minced
2 tsp. cumin
2 stems of cilantro chopped
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. Kosher salt
dash of Cholula Hot Sauce (read here to see Cholula is gluten free)

Brown the ground beef in the vegetable oil in a heavy black cast iron pan. The browner, the more flavor you will have. When the meat is browned, saute the onion and garlic until they turn clear. You don't need to remove the meat to saute the vegetables. Add the rest of the seasonings and 1/4 cup of water. Cook on low  for 10 minutes.

Enchilada Sauce
You can totally cheat here and get the HILL COUNTRY FARE ENCHILADA SAUCE MEDIUM which is Gluten Free at your local HEB

1 tablespoon butter
1 yellow onion, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2  cans tomato paste + 4 cans of water
1 (28 ounce) can fire roasted tomatoes Muir Glen Organic
2 Tbl. chili powder
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
  Saute the onions and garlic in the butter. Once the onions turn clear, add the bell pepper and cook for 5 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients. Cook for 20 minutes. Run through your blender to make a smooth sauce. I highly recommend the blender if children will be eating. This recipe makes more than you need for the Enchilada recipe below. This sauce is so much healthier and more delicious than any canned sauce!

EASY ENCHILADAS CASSEROLE
6 corn tortillas
Taco Meat (above)
Enchilada sauce (above)
sliced jalapenos (optional)

Preheat oven to 350. Use 9 x 11 pan. Spray bottom of pan with non-stick spray (Pam original is gluten free) or lay out a sheet of parchment paper. Layer with flat tortillas first, meat, enchilada sauce. Then again: tortillas, meat, enchilada sauce. You can also add jalapenos on top. Cover with foil (sprayed with non-stick spray) Bake for 20 minutes in 350 oven. Remove foil and bake for another 10 minutes.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Santa bought me a shiny, pretty thing

I got some shiny, blingy things for Christmas. My husband bought me a new range and microwave. Some women might be put off by a gift of appliances. Not me! I love anything shiny that comes with a butter softening feature. That's right, butter softening. Mmmmm!

My husband isn't a stupid man. He knows that a happy cook means yummy in the tummy. He teased me that he expected my cooking to rise to a "whole nutha level". I chuckled back that it wasn't possible. I am happy to say I was dead wrong. My husband is happy to say that I was dead wrong.

I am soooooo glad I got a double oven. I have used both ovens simultaneously many times. Love it! If you are on the fence about this feature, get off and get the double oven! I love the warming feature. I have used it several times. I wish both the top and bottom ovens were convection. Only the bottom is. I have used the convection bake and roast. I have noticed that my bread is browned very evenly with the convection bake but it didn't shave any time off. Didn't notice a big difference in the convection baked chicken and it only shaved off 15 minutes from the baking time. I'm still experimenting, so I reserve the right to change my initial opinion.
The loaf on the right was baked in a convection oven

My husband only installed the microwave a few days ago.It should really be called a convection oven with a microwave feature. I have THREE ovens! I haven't had a chance to test out the convection oven feature in this appliance yet. The popcorn feature is amazing! It weighs the popcorn bag and adjusts the time accordingly. It also senses when it is done. My favorite feature is the butter softening. It's pitiful, I know it. But I LOVE this feature. The defrost feature of this microwave is amazing! It defrosts it perfectly without hot spots. The ground meat was just like I got it from the butcher.

Now, getting to this happy point has been a bit of a bumpy road. Got really great service at our local Lowe's appliance center. Gave positive feedback to the store manager. Delivered to the house and installed. Check. Hmmmmm... why does the convection fan keep kicking off? That's weird. E-mailed Kitchenaid customer service. They said that wasn't right. Called and confirmed with a different customer service person. OK then. We have a problem. Called Lowe's. They delivered a new one. Hmmmmm... same thing. Kitchenaid customer service confirmed AGAIN that the fan should stay on all the time. Called back and asked to talk to a technical person. Doesn't exist at Kitchenaid. What? Told the story again. Put on hold. Manuals pulled out. People consulted. Oh no, the fan DOES actually kick on and off. Everything is hunky dory ma'am. Really? Wish Kitchenaid knew their products. Would have saved me a bunch of trouble.

The manual that came with the Kitchenaid Double Oven Convection Gas Range Model KGRS505XSS is awful. The Kitchenaid convection microwave KHMC1857WSS manual is worse. For what I dropped on these things, they should have come with an in-home demonstration or at least a video online. Throw me something Kitchenaid! I remember when my mother bought one of the first Amana microwaves. We had a whole microwave cooking class at the appliance center and a huge cookbook with detailed instructions. Gone are those days. Is it too much to ask for a decent manual that actually mentions any of the features? I guess so.

I'm still testing out all the features, but so far I'm pretty impressed. I'm just really thrilled to have an oven that actually holds a temperature.

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails