Monday, November 30, 2009

Oops.

Hopefully you survived T-day without my beloved pie crust!! What can I say? I was busy with baking, 3 kids, art projects [for table decorations], and busy sewing Christmas gifts.

I'm a bad food-blogger lately. Perhaps I should take a small hiatus??

Sunday, November 22, 2009

...to come

Coming soon [maybe today/tonight?], my recipe for pie crust. I'm gearing up for a week full of baking. I'm making tons of pies, homemade cranberry sauce, turkey cupcakes [not as gross as they sound!], and many other Thanksgiving classics.

What are you making for T-day this year? Need any recipes? I might have some!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Homemade English Muffins


Okay, seriously. Jackpot.

I've found a lot of recipes for English muffins in the past, but they've all used a lot of milk [in the dough] and shortening, which I'd prefer not to use often, if possible.

I finally found this recipe, the ingredients are basic, the method is easy, and the result is freaking nuts. Seriously. If you've never had a homemade English muffin you are seriously missing out. The are leaps and bounds above the rubbery, preservative filled, store bought kind. Not to mention, SO much more cost effective. It cost me probably .06 cents to make each of these.

Each of these muffins is 110 calories each, 2.5 grams of fat, 3 grams of protein, and 18 grams of carbohydrates. Thank you CIA for the recipe!!

English Muffins
Makes 12 muffins
  • 1 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm water [110 F]
  • 2 3/4 c. all-purpose flour [next time I'll try half wheat, half regular]
  • 1 T. butter, softened
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 c. cornmeal [+/-]
  • small amount of vegetable oil
  1. Place the yeast and the warm water in the bowl of a mixer, and stir to completely dissolve. [I added the sugar during this step, to help the yeast activate quickly!] Let the yeast proof until foamy, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the flour, butter, sugar [if you didn't add it in step 1], and salt to the yeast mixture. Mix the ingredients together on low speed [using your dough hook] until well blended, about 2 minutes.
  3. Increase speed to medium-high and mix until the dough is smooth, another 5 minutes. [Mine only took 3 minutes!]
  4. Shape the dough into a ball, being careful not to overwork the dough, and place it in a lightly greased bowl. [I sprayed my glass bowl with non-stick spray.] Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 2 hours. [I let mine rise for about 1 1/2 hours.]
  5. Fold the dough gently over itself in 3 or 4 places [DO NOT OVERWORK! Or you'll loose the great airpockets inside your muffin] and turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface.
  6. There are several ways to shape your muffins. You can roll to about 1/2" thick and use a biscuit cutter [or any circle cutter] to cut the dough. You can roll the dough into a nice uniform log and cut 12 equal pieces. Or you can free form shape them [like I did]. Divide your dough into 12 equal pieces. Shape each piece [using your hands, but not overworking] into rounds, and place them onto a sheet pan that has been heavily coated with cornmeal. Turn rounds over, so that each side gets coated with cornmeal.
  7. Cover and let rise until they have risen slightly, about 1/2 hour.
  8. Preheat griddle over medium heat and brush lightly with cooking oil. [I used my big pancake griddle, and had the heat on high.] Cook the English muffins until lightly browned on the bottom, about 5 minutes. Turn the muffins over and cook about 5 minutes more. [It is okay if they are slightly underdone, they will finish cooking when you toast them. If you aren't going to toast them, the be sure to cook them through.]
  9. Store in a plastic storage bag in the refrigerator. To split the muffins, use a fork and pierce through, in a straight line all the way around the muffin. They will split right open.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Ooh La La.





As soon as the little people are in bed tonight, I'm going to make homemade English muffins.

Boo-yah, as Camden would say. I found a new recipe and I'm about to test it out.


[I think I'll make some honey butter, and serve them for breakfast. Or homemade honey peanut butter with bananas... For the people who can eat stuff like that and not weigh 10,000 lbs. In case you were wondering, that doesn't include me.]


Friday, November 13, 2009

Wow.

www.annacancook.com

That is so not me.

But I dig her fancy hat and pepper grinder.

Chicken Tortilla Soup


I debated about not even posting a picture, but then it feels naked. Sorry for the craptastic picture. Taking pictures in the kitchen, when it's dark outside, with flourescent lighting= not a good combo.

But who cares. The soup is freaking tasty, so that's all that matters. My house is in full-blown soup mode, right now. I have recipes waiting to be posted for minestrone, broccoli cheddar, creamy chicken & wildrice... Soup is a good, good thing.

I started making this soup after I had my first baby. I was working my way into the world of "cooking", and trying to learn and teach myself things. This soup was based on the [in]famous taco soup that was [is?] popular at that time. I wanted something with chicken, and I wanted it more loose, and less "Welcome to the church potluck." After some tweakage, this is what I came up with.

*This recipe is very, very versatile. For instance: Chris hates beans. I, however, love beans. I love black beans in this soup. So sometimes I make them without, sometimes I make a big batch, and seperate it into two, and add different [good] stuff to my soup, and leave his alone. You can add pretty much anything, as long as the base stays the same.

Serve this soup with sour cream [serve on top, and then mix to balance the flavors], cheddar cheese, diced avocado, green onion, black olives, or tortilla chips. [I prefer fat free sour cream and avocado. Chris and Mason dig it with cheese & chips. Camden likes it with sour cream, cheese, chips and black olives.]

[Also great with homemade tortilla strips instead of store bought chips.]
Depending on what you top your soup with, it's very healthy and budget friendly! I'm so multi-faceted, you have no idea!

Chicken Tortilla Soup
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • olive oil
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • ground cumin
  • 2 [14.5] oz. cans chicken broth [or 4 cups of water mixed with Shirley J chicken bouillon]
  • 1 c. frozen corn [a great way to use the stuff you froze from summer!]
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • dash of cayenne pepper
  • 1-2 T. lemon juice [fresh is best]
  • 1 c. chunky salsa
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes, or rotel
  • optional: black beans, kidney beans, etc.
  1. Boil the chicken in chicken stock or water until cooked through. [I like to season the water/broth with spices to give the chicken more flavor.] Shred the chicken and set aside. [Or use leftover rotisserie chicken.] If you don't want to boil the chicken, you can saute it in the oil with the onions until cooked through.
  2. In a large pot, over medium heat, saute the onions in the oil until tender. Add the cooked chicken for the last minute or so. Add minced garlic and cumin. [I don't measure my cumin, I add it until when I stir everything you can see it slightly coat all of the chicken. I'd guess at least 1 tsp.maybe more!]
  3. Mix well and cook for a couple of minutes, making sure not to cook the garlic.
  4. Pour in chicken broth, canned tomatoes, corn, chili powder and cayenne [if using], lemon juice and salsa. [Also add anything else you are using, ie: black beans, etc.]
  5. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to low and simmer for about 20-30 minutes. Stirring occasionally.
  6. Serve soup with desired toppings.



Thursday, November 5, 2009

Pumpkin Supreme




I generally like to avoid dishes that are made with whipped topping [aka: cool whip] and jello. It just feels so....pedestrian? Utahn? I don't know!

However, there are times where I make exceptions. I've had this recipe sitting in my "to try" pile for a long, long time. I had to take a dessert to a Halloween party, and I had a ton of pumpkin to use up, so I decided to give this a whirl.

Comments that followed: "This is better than pumpkin pie!" "Ooooooh. This is soooooo goooood."

The graham cracker crust and cheese cake layer are something different. It pairs nicely with the light, cinnamon/nutmeg flavor of the pumpkin layer.

Pumpkin Supreme
  • 1 3/4 c. graham cracker crumbs [reduced fat/low sugar is fine!]
  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • 1/2 c. butter, melted [gulp]
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened [light is fine!]
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 2 pkgs. sugar free vanilla instant pudding mix [3 3/4 oz. size]
  • 1 c. milk
  • 2 c. cooked, mashed pumpkin [or 16 oz can]
  • ground cinnamon
  • ground nutmeg
  • 12 oz. cool whip, thawed [fat free/light works great]
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Make graham cracker crumbs in food processor, this works best to get the right texture. Combine cracker crumbs, 1/4 cup sugar and butter. Press into a 9x13 inch baking dish. Set aside.
  3. Combine cream cheese, eggs, and sugar. Beat until fluffy. Spread over crust. Bake for 25 minutes. [Bake until center is close to being set. Jiggle the pan, and if the middle moves a lot, keep baking!] Cool.
  4. Combine pudding mix and milk. Beat 2 minutes at medium speed with electric mixer. Add pumpkin, cinnamon and nutmeg. Mix well. Fold in half of the cool whip. Spread over the cooled cream cheese layer.
  5. Cover with remaining cool whip.
  6. Refrigerate.

*I didn't measure my cinnamon and nutmeg. I just sprinkled it in, tasted it, and added more until it was right. You won't need a TON, just enough to give it some flavor. I'd guess I used about 1/2 tsp. of each. Maybe more, maybe less. How is that for vague?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

French Bread


My mom is, hands down, the best bread maker I know. I was lucky enough to grow up on the best homemade rolls, breads, scones, sweet rolls...

For years I was intimidated by dough and breads and rolls. Thankfully my mom has shared her recipes with me, and I have been able to master them. [Maybe not quite to her level, but I'll keep trying!]

French bread, or any white bread is not the norm in my house. My kids call it "french toast bread", mostly because I only buy it/make it when we make french toast. [And only then because my husband says that whole grain wheat bread doesn't taste good in french toast!] So, when I make a loaf [or 2!] of this, it's always a big deal.

This recipe makes 2 big loaves of bread, or 24 rolls. [Or, 1 loaf of bread and 12 rolls.] The bread freezes great, and so does the dough! You can easily bake half of the dough and freeze the rest to use later.

We used this bread for fondue, and later for french toast. It's also a great basic bread.

French Bread
  • 2 T. yeast
  • 1/2 c. warm water
  • 2 c. hot water
  • 3 T. sugar
  • 1 T. salt
  • 1/3 c. shortening [or some type of fat]
  • Flour
  1. Dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup water. [Pour yeast into water, stir it up and let it sit while you do everything else.] Combine hot water, sugar, salt, and shortening in mixing bowl. Let stand until lukewarm. [Shortening/fat will met, that's what you want!]
  2. Add yeast and 3 cups of flour to mixture. Beat until smooth. Add 3 cups more flour. Beat until stiff dough. [If it is sticky add more flour gradually.]
  3. Remove bowl from mixer, and stir dough with a long spoon. Leave spoon in batter; rest 10 minutes. Stir again; rest 10 minutes. Continue until stirring down has been repeated 5 times. [During the rest times, I cover the bowl with a towel.]
  4. Turn dough out of bowl onto floured surface, and divide into 2 parts. Bread: Shape into loaves and slash diagonally. Rolls: Divide each 1/2 into 12 rolls. Place on a greased cookie sheet, cover and let rise 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  5. Bake at 400 degrees. [Rolls: 15 minutes. Bread: 35 minutes.]

*If you want to freeze the dough, spray a gallon sized ziploc storage bag with non-stick spray, place dough in, and freeze. You'll want a bag big enough to allow the dough to expand, otherwise it will explode everywhere! When you are ready to use, defrost in the fridge and use like normal!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Fondue= Fun Dinner


This "dark early" stuff is killer! Sorry for the crappy kitchen lighting.

The other night Camden [my middle child, poor kid], asked what we were having for dinner. I told him, "Fondue!" He said, "Oh wow! I love Fun-dinner!"

So, for now, fondue is called fun dinner. Honestly, a perfect name for this! My boys absolutely LOVED having this for dinner. They loved dipping different things into the sauce, picking their own color of "fondue fork", basically playing with their food.

I'm thrilled because they ate a ton of broccoli, carrots, chicken...and they didn't even realize it!

I served this with homemade french bread [recipe to come!], garlic broccoli [you could easily use raw broccoli, but this was SO good in fondue!], raw carrots, and rotisserie style chicken. I put the fondue pot in the middle of the table, and plates lined with the "dippies" surrounding it.

Unfortunately, I wasn't happy with the fondue that I made. It was a recipe that I'd been wanting to try for a seriously LONG time. It had great reviews, so I followed it exactly, and I was pretty disappointed. So...back to the drawing board. It's on the menu again in a few weeks [because the dudes loved it so much!], so I'll be making my own fondue recipe, and I'll post it then!

Stay tuned for the homemade french bread recipe. It's my moms recipe, and it's pretty much awesome.