Thursday, January 28, 2010

Italian Bread Sticks

These bread sticks taste a little bit like Olive Garden's breadsticks (though they're not a clone) and in my opinion that's a good thing! I found a similar recipe online when I first developed an interest in cooking and sort of tweaked it a little over the years. They smell so good baking in the oven that your family will be waiting at the table before it's even set!

Tips:
  • You can find frozen bread dough near at most grocery stores, it's usually near (frozen) garlic bread and dinner rolls. They often come in a package of 3 loaves, though you only need 1 for this recipe.
  • You may have some of the seasoning mixture leftover, don't feel like you have to use it all. A dusting is all they really need.
  • For this particular recipe I use the kind of parmesan cheese that comes in a green can (like Kraft). Normally I use fresh parmesan  when cooking but for this recipe the "powdered" kind works best.

Italian Bread Sticks

1 loaf frozen bread dough

4 tablespoons Olive oil
2 tablespoons Garlic powder
1 tablespoon Oregano (dried)
2 tablespoons Grated Parmesan Cheese

Let bread dough thaw to room temperature. Lightly coat your hands/fingers with cooking spray and shape dough into 8 cigar sized pieces (you may need to knead the dough a little first to make it more pliable).
On a greased cookie sheet, place the bread sticks a few inches apart. Let them rise in warm place until doubled  in size (1-2 hours).  In a small bowl combine the garlic powder, oregano and Parmesan cheese. Toss together until mixture is blended.
Lightly brush the top and sides of each bread stick with olive oil and then sprinkle with a dusting of the seasoning mixture. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool slightly before serving.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Applesauce Cake with a Brown Butter-Rum Glaze

This is one of my very favorite home-made cakes! The use of brown(ed) butter is what takes this applesauce cake to another level. It adds a subtle caramel flavor to the cake that is only enhanced by the butter rum glaze. 

Tips:
  • When browning the butter, watch it carefully. It can go from browned to burned in a matter of seconds.
  • The butter should just begin to take on an amber color (similar to apple juice), when you remove it from the heat.
  •  Margarine won't brown, or at least won't taste "browned", so only real butter can be used for this recipe.
  • When adding the flour and other dry ingredients to the butter and applesauce mixture, you can use a mixer or stir by hand. I've made it both ways and there doesn't appear to be a difference either way.
  • You can add an additional tablespoon of milk to the glaze if it appears to thick to pour over the cake.
  • The glaze is amazing on it's own and makes a great alternative to traditional glazes on cinnamon rolls, Bundt cakes or any other dish that utilizes a powdered sugar based glaze. 



Applesauce Cake with Brown-Butter Rum Glaze


5 1/2 tablespoons butter, no substitutes
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 cup applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 2/3 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
Butter Rum Glaze-Recipe below

Melt butter in a medium saucepan, cooking until it begins to turn brown (about 3 minutes). Remove from heat and stir in applesauce, sugar, brown sugar and vanilla. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and mix in flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Pour batter into a well greased 8x8 baking dish and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Pour glaze over warm cake while and let sit for 30 minutes. Serve warm

Butter Rum Glaze

2 1/2 tablespoons butter, no substitutes
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon rum extract/flavoring
3 tablespoons milk

Brown butter in a small or medium saucepan. Once butter begins to brown remove from heat and whisk in remaining ingredients. Continue whisking until mixture is smooth. Pour over warm cake and let rest 30 minutes.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Butter Rum Glaze

Butter Rum Glaze


2 1/2 tablespoons butter, no substitutes
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon rum extract/flavoring (or 1 teaspoon of rum)
3 tablespoons milk

Brown butter in a small or medium saucepan. Once butter begins to brown remove from heat and whisk in remaining ingredients. Continue whisking until mixture is smooth. Pour over warm cake and let rest 30 minutes.

Chicken Cordon Bleu Pizza

 A pizza crust is a blank canvas waiting to be adorned by the limits of your culinary creativity. This yummy pizza is one such example.

Tips:
  • For the crust I usually use Pilsbury Thin Crust but you can make your own or use brand you choose.
  • You can find jars of Alfredo sauce with the other pasta sauces at your local grocery store. This pizza uses so little though, that I usually make my own for Chicken Alfredo earlier in the week and use the leftover sauce and chicken for this dish.
  • Any type of chicken works here. Fried, boiled, baked, or grilled the choice is yours. Traditionaly Chicken Cordon Bleu is breaded so a more authentic version would use breaded or fried chicken.
  • If you don't have any leftover chicken but still want a fast and easy preperation, you can use frozen (defrosted) chicken nuggets or patties and cut into small pieces.


Chicken Cordon Bleu Pizza

1 prepared pizza crust
1/2 cup Alfredo sauce

2 cups cooked chicken, diced
1/2 cup thinly sliced ham, chopped (6-8 pieces of deli ham)
1 1/2 cups shredded Swiss cheese
2-3 green onions, sliced

Follow directions for pizza crust (prebake if called for). Ladle Alfredo sauce over crust top with green onions and ham. Sprinkle on the Swiss cheese and top with chicken. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes (or follow directions for pizza crust).

Monday, January 25, 2010

Maple Monday-Nutmeg Maple Cream Pie

Recipe and photo courtesy of Smitten Kitchen.


Nutmeg-Maple Cream Pie


3/4 cup maple syrup
2 1/4 cups heavy cream
4 egg yolks
1 whole egg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 9-inch pie crust or tart shell.



 Par-bake pie crust: Preheat oven to 350°F. Line pie refrigerated pie shell with foil or parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until beginning to set. Remove foil with weights and bake 15 to 18 minutes longer or until golden. If shell puffs during baking, press it down with back of spoon. Cool on wire rack. Lower temperature to 300 degrees.
Prepare filling: In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, reduce maple syrup by a quarter, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in cream and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat.
In a medium bowl, whisk together egg yolks and egg. Whisking constantly, slowly add cream mixture to eggs. Strain mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a cup or bowl with pouring spout. Stir in salt, nutmeg and vanilla.
 Pour filling into crust and transfer to a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until pie is firm to touch but jiggles slightly when moved, about 1 hour. Let cool to room temperature before serving.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Brown Sugar Bars

These bars come from a combination of a couple of different recipes for blondies. The result isn't exactly a true blondie but they are delicious none the less. They are pretty sweet and the addition of  a 1/3 cup of chocolate chips or a little ice cream on the side might help cut sweetness if they are indeed too rich for your tastes.
Of course being the batter fiend I am,  I found the batter alone so enchanting it's a miracle the pan ever made it to the oven at all!


Brown Sugar Bars

1/2 cup of butter, melted

1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1 egg
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon of baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt


In a large bowl whisk the melted butter, brown sugar, egg and vanilla together.
Stir in the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt until all ingredients are well combined..Pour into a greased 8x8 baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool, cut and serve.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Football Cheeseball

I found this recipe on the Kraft website and just thought it was so cute and sounded so tasty! I don't follow football at all (Joe Montana still plays point guard for the Chicago Yankees right?) but I do believe that there are a couple of big games in the coming weeks. This darling little football-esque cheeseball will make a great snack for your rowdy guests on game day (just don't actually refer to it as a "darling little football-esque cheeseball" to those previously mentioned rowdy guests)!



Football Cheeseball

2 pkg. (8 oz. each)  Cream Cheese, softened
1 pkg. (8 oz.)  Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
1/2 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
1/2 cup mayonnaise or Miracle Whip
2 green onions, chopped
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 pkg. (3 oz.) Oscar Mayer Real Bacon Bits
2 Tbsp. pimiento strips
RITZ Crackers



Beat cheeses and dressing with mixer until blended. Add onions and pepper; mix well. Refrigerate several hours. Form into football shape on serving plate; coat with bacon bits. Add pimento strips for "lacing." Serve with crackers.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Cinnamon Sugar Tortilla Crisps

These yummy chips are a great way to use up those extra tortillas you have leftover. Delicious on their own and even better when dipped in hot fudge! Try crumbling them over vanilla ice cream and add a drizzling of honey. The resulting flavor closely resembles the fried ice cream you get at Tex-Mex restaurants.

Another fun way to serve them is with a dessert "salsa". In a blender combine strawberries, kiwis, pineapple chunks (or any fruit combo you like) and a pinch or two of sugar. Serve like you would traditional chips and salsa, you can even use whipped cream to replicate the look of sour cream! \


Cinnamon Sugar Tortilla Crisps

3 (12 inch) flour tortillas
canola cooking spray
1 cup cinnamon sugar


Pour cinnamon sugar in a large bowl or pan. Coat both sides of each tortilla with cooking spray and cut into triangles. Roll the wedges in cinnamon sugar and place on a lightly greased cookie sheet.

Bake in 400 degree oven for 10 minutes or until golden and crispy.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Maple Monday-Maple Cream Coffee Treat

Another great recipe from Pilsbury!

Maple Cream Coffee Treat

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)
1/3 cup maple syrup or dark corn syrup
1/4 cup margarine or butter, melted
1 (8-oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons margarine or butter, softened
1/2 cup coconut
2 (12-oz.) cans Pillsbury® Grands!® Jr. Golden Layers® refrigerated biscuits


Heat oven to 350°F. In ungreased 13x9-inch pan, combine brown sugar, nuts, syrup and 1/4 cup margarine; spread evenly in bottom of pan. In small bowl, combine cream cheese, powdered sugar and 2 tablespoons margarine; mix until smooth. Stir in coconut.

Separate dough into 20 biscuits. Press or roll each to from 4-inch round. Spoon 1 tablespoon cream cheese mixture down center of each round to within 1/4 inch of edge. Overlap sides of dough over filling, forming finger-shaped rolls. Arrange rolls, seam side down, in 2 rows of 10 rolls each over brown sugar mixture in pan.

 Bake at 350°F. for 25 to 30 minutes or until deep golden brown. Cool 3 to 5 minutes; invert onto serving platter.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Chocolate Truffle Topped Caramel Bars

This recipe comes from the Pilsbury website and is just as delicious and decadent as it sounds!


Chocolate Truffle Topped Caramel Bars

Chocolate Truffle Topping

1/3 cup whipping cream
3 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1 bag (12 oz) dark chocolate chips (2 cups)

Crust
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup cold butter or margarine
1 cup quick-cooking or old-fashioned oats
1 cup chopped pecans or toffee pieces

Caramel Layer
1 cup butter or margarine
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk


Pre-heat oven to 350°F.
In 1-quart saucepan, heat whipping cream, 3 tablespoons butter and 1 tablespoon corn syrup to a full boil over medium heat; turn off heat. Add dark chocolate chips; let stand 5 minutes without stirring. After 5 minutes, stir slowly with wire whisk until chocolate chips are melted and mixture is smooth and glossy; set aside.

In large bowl, stir together flour and 1/2 cup brown sugar. Cut in 1/2 cup cold butter, using pastry blender (or pulling 2 table knives through mixture in opposite directions), until mixture looks like coarse crumbs. Stir in oats and pecans. Press mixture into ungreased 15x10x1-inch pan. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

Meanwhile, in 2-quart saucepan, heat 1 cup butter, 1 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup corn syrup, the salt and condensed milk to boiling over medium heat, stirring constantly. Continue boiling 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Pour over crust; spread evenly. Cool slightly, about 10 minutes.

Pour chocolate truffle topping over caramel layer; spread evenly. Cool 1 hour at room temperature; refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving. For bars, cut into 15 rows by 5 rows. Cover and refrigerate any remaining bars

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Popovers

These popovers are so simple and delicious that you won't belive you've never made them before! They look and taste like something you slaved over, when in reality the preperation takes about 5 minutes and the cooking time is around 30 minutes. 
I adapted this recipe from a couple of different ones I found online last year and couldn't have been any more thrilled with the results. Popovers are the perfect accompaniment to a pot roast or roast beef dinner, just dip them in the au jus or gravy for an authentic effect.


Tips:
  • To make these popovers into a Yorkshire pudding, substitute the butter with pan drippings from a roast beef.
  • Keep them warm until ready to serve, if they cool too quickly they could deflate as the steam escapes. When they are finished cooking I just turn off the oven, open the oven door a bit and let them sit in there until I'm ready to serve them.
  • As the name suggests these rolls really do "pop over" the top of the muffin cups, they won't do this evenly so don't try to make them to.
  • The crust won't be a "golden" brown like traditional dinner rolls, but more of smokey-brown color. When you see this color for the first time you may think you over-cooked them but chances are you did it just right. The outside will be crusty and slightly hard and the centers will be soft and little doughy.
  • This recipe will fill 6-7 muffin cups, so if your muffin pan is for 12 muffins then don't grease all of the cups (it's a pain to clean up if they are greased but not filled). You can easily double the recipe though and make an even dozen.



 Popovers

2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup milk
1 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs

In a medium mixing bowl combine the butter, milk, flour and salt. Beat ingredients well. Add in eggs one at a time and continue beating. Pour batter into a well greased muffin pan, filing each cup 3/4 of the way up. Bake for 20 minutes at 425 degrees, then decrease oven temperature to 350 and continue baking an additional 15 minutes or until centers of popovers are set. Serve warm.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Picante Burger

This fun twist on burgers comes from the Campbell's Soup website.


Picante Burgers

1 1/2 pounds ground beef

1/2 cup Picante Sauce
1 envelope (about 1 ounce) dry onion soup and recipe mix
6 hamburger buns
lettuce leaves, tomato slices, and avacado slices (optional)


Mix thoroughly the beef, picante sauce and soup mix. Shape firmly into 6 burgers, 1/2-inch thick each.

Lightly oil the grill rack and heat the grill to medium. Grill the burgers for 10 minutes or until desired doneness, turning the burgers over halfway through grilling.

Serve on rolls with lettuce, tomato, avocado and additional picante sauce.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Maple Monday-Ham and Apple Waffle-wich

I have a massive amount of love for sandwiches. Pretty much all varieties are welcome at my table. Club, Rueben, Cucumber, you name it I love them all. They are truly a perfect meal, they can be held in your hand and eaten standing up, they can be as healthy or as decadent as you desire and they have no rules so they can be transformed into whatever you wish them to be. Even if you don't have so called "sandwich" bread on hand you still make a sandwich. Garlic bread for instance provides the perfect cushion for an Italian style or meatball sub. Slather on some cream cheese and jelly on apple bread and top with some sliced fruit for a sweet sandwich. A little leftover pot-roast on a dinner roll makes for an amazing lunch. In the case of this sandwich, I used frozen waffles in place of bread and piled it with ham, cheese, apples and maple syrup. The end result is a delicious blend or savory, sweet and tart. 

I don't think you can really have a recipe for a sandwich, just directions. What I've listed below will direct you in one way but have fun and go in any direction you want. Today, forget what your mother told you and play with your food!


Tips: I like Granny Smith apples for sandwiches and salads. They are nicely tart and aren't as mealy as some varieties so they have a great crispness to them. I used a Vermont White Cheddar to make my sandwich as seen in the photo below but there is no difference in taste between a white or yellow Cheddar, just food coloring. I do like the cheese to be somewhat sharp for this sandwich though, as to provide a greater contrast of flavors.
This sandwich also tastes great when grilled on a pannini press!  If you don't have a pannini press just do what you would do for a grilled cheese sandwich.


Waffle-wich

4 frozen waffles, toasted
2 slices sharp Cheddar cheese
8 slices deli sliced Ham
1/2 small green apple, sliced thin
2 tsp. maple syrup


Top one waffle with 1 slice of cheese, 4 slices of ham and half of apple slices. Drizzle on 1 teaspoon maple syrup and top with another waffle. Repeat for second sandwich.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Ravioli Soup

Nothing tastes better on a cold winter night than a big bowl of soup. This hearty ravioli soup will help keep Jack Frost at bay and fill you up in no time. I adapted this recipe from an old recipe I found tucked inside my recipe box and wished I had the ingredients to make it again last night!
This soup is delicious when served with garlic bread sticks that can be dunked right in the bowl!


Ravioli Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper. chopped
2 cans vegetable broth, 14 oz
1 can kidney beans,18 oz
2 cans Italian seasoned diced tomatoes, undrained, 14 oz
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1 package refrigerated ravioli (any variety), 9 oz
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

In large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add bell pepper, onion, and garlic and cook until tender, stirring occasionaly. Stir in remaining ingredients except for ravioli and cheese. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 15 minutes. Add ravioli; cook over medium high heat for 6-8 minutes until tender. Top with parmesan cheese.

Basic Pie Crust

Basic Pie Crust

1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup cold butter, cut into pieces
1/4 cup shortening, cut into pieces
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup water

Add flour, sugar and salt in a large mixing bowl. Cut in butter and shortening with a pastry blender until mixture is crumbly. Add water, 2 tablespoons at a time. Roll into a tight ball and flatten into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap or wax paper and refrigerate for 1 hour before rolling out.

To pre-bake crust :
Bake at 400 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until lightly browned

To par-bake crust:
Bake at 400 degrees for 5-10 minutes, or until bottom of crust just begins to brown.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Chocolate Pudding Cake

This recipe comes from the Cool Whip website and is just way too amazing for me not to share! You'll want to make this over and over again and share it with everyone you know!

Variations: If you're not a fan of chocolate (please contact scientists, they'll want to know about you) then you can make this with spice cake mix and butterscotch pudding or yellow cake mix and vanilla pudding or any other variation you can think of. A sprinkle of toffee bits, crushed peppermint candy, or even a sprinkle of sprinkles offer a delicious touch of texture to this soft dessert.


Chocolate Pudding Cake

1 box chocolate cake mix
2 cups cold milk
1 1/4 cups water
2 packages instant chocolate instant pudding, 3.9oz each
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup Cool Whip, thawed


Heat oven to 350°F. Prepare cake batter as directed on package. Pour into greased 13x9-inch baking dish; set aside.

Pour milk and water into large bowl. Add pudding mixes and sugar. Beat with whisk 2 min. or until blended. Pour over batter.

Place baking dish on baking sheet to catch any sauce that bubbles over sides of dish as dessert bakes. Bake 55 min. to 1 hour or until toothpick inserted in center of cake layer comes out clean. Cool 20 min. (Sauce will thicken slightly as it cools). Spoon into serving dishes; top with Cool whip. Serve warm.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Brown Sugar Bacon

This bacon is so delicious! I've been making it for several years now and it never gets old. The sweet and salty combination is just simply unbeatable. It's wonderful served alone and equally wonderful served atop a sandwich or burger.


Brown Sugar Bacon

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon black pepper
8 slices thick cut bacon

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Mix together brown sugar and black pepper in a large bowl. Add in the bacon and toss to coat. Pat down the brown sugar mixture on top of the bacon. Place the bacon on a wire rack that is set in a baking sheet. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 15 minutes and let cool for 3 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Bacon Cheeseburger Roll-ups

This recipe is from the Kraft Foods website and is pretty darn tasty. It's an easy weeknight meal that is perfect for kids and picky eaters. It's even great as a finger food for get togethers and sporting events.

Tips: I used a thin crust pizza dough to make this, I find the thin crust is a little easier to stretch out and roll up. I also brush the top of the dough with an egg wash and dusted it with some grated parmesan cheese and dried parsely. Try serving this with a variety of dipping sauces like ketchup, mustard, ranch dressing and bbq sauce.

Bacon Cheeseburger Roll-up

1 lb. lean ground beef
4 slices Bacon, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 lb. (8 oz.) Velveeta Cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 pkg. (13.8 oz.) refrigerated pizza crust


Preheat oven to 400°F. Brown ground beef with bacon and onions in large skillet on medium-high heat; drain. Return meat mixture to skillet. Add Velveeta; cook until melted, stirring frequently. Cool 10 min.

Unroll dough onto baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray. Press into 15x8-inch rectangle; top with meat mixture. Roll up, starting at one of the long sides. Rearrange if necessary so roll is seam-side down.
Bake 20 to 25 min. or until golden brown.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Maple Monday-Maple Apple Marinade

This semi-sweet mariade is delicious on chicken, pork chops and even burgers. A couple of  pineapple slices before cooking the meat only makes things better!


Maple Apple Marinade

2 cups apple cider

1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup maple syrup
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons orange juice
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons sage
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Combine the cider, vinegar, syrup, oil, and orange juice in a small bowl. Stir in the brown sugar until dissolved. Add sage, cayenne, salt and pepper and stir to combine.
In a shallow glass baking dish, place the meat you are marinating. Pour the marinade over, cover, and refrigerate, turning once, for 3 hours.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!



Here is a link with all of the traditional New Year's Day recipes you've ever heard about! --->Link<---
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