Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Cuban Bread

This is another really easy to make bread. The crusty outside reminds me of a good loaf of French bread. There are just a few ingredients in this recipe and it really is not much work for a great loaf of bread. I used this bread for my Gourmet French Dip sandwiches, which I'll post the recipe for tomorrow, and we've been using it for toast. Give it a try you won't be disappointed.

Cuban Bread
Bernard Clayton's New Complete Book of Breads

5 to 6 cups bread or all-purpose flour
2 packages dry yeast
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
2 cups hot water (120 to 130 degrees)

One baking sheet, Teflon, greased, or sprinkled with cornmeal or lined with parchment paper

Place 4 cups flour in a large mixing bowl and add the yeast, salt, and sugar. Stir until well blended. Pour in the hot water and beat for 3 minutes. Gradually work in the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough takes shape and is no longer sticky.

Knead for 8 minutes with dough hook until the dough is smooth and elastic.

Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and put in a warm place until double in bulk, about 15 minutes.

Punch down the dough, turn it out on the work surface, and cut into 2 pieces. Shape each into a round. Place on baking sheet. With a sharp knife or razor, slash an X on each of the loaves and brush with water.

Place the sheet on the middle shelf of a cold oven. Place a large pan of hot water on the shelf below, and heat the oven to 400 degrees. The bread will continue to rise while the oven in heating. Bake about 50 minutes, or until the loaves are a deep golden brown. Thump on the bottom crusts to test for doneness. If they sound hard and hallow, they are baked.

Turn the loaves out onto metal racks and cool before slicing. It won't stay fresh more than a day or two but it does freeze well.

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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Halloween Treats Part II

These were too cute but I could not get my kids to try these cookies at all. They were too afraid the worms and dirt were real. The dirt is granulated sugar I colored black with black gel coloring. You could buy black edible glitter or even black sprinkles to use instead. I used a circle cookie cutter to cut out the cookie. I made my favorite sugar cookie dough but you could use the premade cookie dough from the store if you wanted. I tried making holes with a straw before cooking the cookies to weave the worm in the cookie. While trying to assemble the cookies I realized my worms were a bit bigger than my holes so in the end on some cookies I just laid the worm over the top of the cookie. Make sure you sprinkle the black sugar on while the cookies are still warm so it will adhere.

I have quite a few of the realistic looking worms left. Leave me a comment with a way to contact you if you'd like some free realistic worms. I'd be happy to send them your way.

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Monday, September 28, 2009

Peach Puzzle

This is a great dessert for using up fresh peaches. An added bonus is how easy it is to make. The hardest part is flipping the pie pan over without spilling the sauce. I managed to only lose about 1/4 of the caramel sauce with my flip. This dessert would be great served with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. The peaches blended well with the caramel sauce. The biscuit like bottom was nice and tasty too. If you have a few fresh peaches left give this recipe a try.

Peach Puzzle
America's Best Lost Recipes

Peaches and Syrup
7 medium peaches, peeled
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
6 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/4 inch pieces and chilled
6 tablespoons milk

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 400 degrees. Place a 6 ounce custard cup or ramekin upside down in the center of a 9 inch pie plate and arrange the peaches around the cup. Combine the brown sugar, water, butter, vanilla, and salt in a medium saucepan and stir over medium heat until the sugar dissolves and the butter melts, about 5 minutes. Pour the syrup over the peaches.

Pulse the flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt in a food processor until blended. Add the butter and pulse until the flour mixture is pale yellow and resembles course cornmeal. Turn the mixture into a medium bowl.

Using a rubber spatula, fold the milk into the flour mixture, pressing the mixture against the side of the bowl to form the dough. Squeeze the dough together and flatten into a disk. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a 9 inch circle. Lay the dough directly over the peaches and press and fit the dough so that it fits snugly around the peaches. Do not attach the dough to the pie plate. Bake until the top is golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer the pie plate to a rack and let cool for 30 minutes.

Place a large rimmed serving plate over the top of the pie plate and quickly invert the puzzle onto the plate. Cut into wedges around each peach and serve, pouring syrup over each portion.

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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Halloween Treats Part One

Over the next month I will be posting some fun ideas for Halloween. Today I start with these cute bone cookies. Using my favorite sugar cookie dough I made these cute cookies. I found the bone cookie cookies at The Cookie Cutter Shop. I made a royal frosting, recipe to follow, and used food safe markers to outline in black after the frosting was dry. They turned out really cute and they were the hit of the neighborhood. This would be a simple and fun activity to do with kids.

Royal Frosting
1 pound confectioner's sugar
4 teaspoons powdered egg whites (not reconstituted)
1/3 cup water
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a large bowl, beat together all ingredients with an electric mixer at medium speed until just combined, about 1 minute. Increase speed to high and beat icing, scraping down side of bowl occasionally, until it holds stiff peaks, 3 to 5 minutes. Use immediately or cover surface directly with plastic wrap and refrigerate up to 2 days.

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Friday, September 25, 2009

Wisconsin Cheddar Beer Soup

I love cheese soup. I've had the recipe for this soup since November of last year and never got around to making it. I finally did the other day when the temperature took a drop and I was cold. While this recipe was not my favorite cheese soup recipe my husband loved it. He is not a fan of cheese soup but he went back for thirds of this soup. The flavors were good together and I really loved the popcorn mixed with the soup. This is a rich and creamy soup.

Wisconsin Cheddar Beer Soup
Cooks Country December/January 2009

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 onion, chopped fine
2 carrots, peeled and chopped fine
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1 3/4 cup low sodium chicken broth
1 (12 ounce) beer
2 cups whole or low-fat milk
3 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded American cheese, you need a 4 ounce chunk from the deli the sliced cheese will not work
2 teaspoons cornstarch
salt and pepper

Melt butter in large pot over medium heat. Cook onion and carrots until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook until golden, about 1 minute. Slowly whisk in broth, beer, and milk. Bring mixture to simmer, then reduce heat to low and simmer gently (do not boil) until carrots are very soft, 20 to 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, toss shredded cheeses and cornstarch in large bowl until well combined. Puree soup in blender in two batches until completely in two batches until completely smooth, return to pot, and simmer over medium-low heat. Whisk in cheese mixture, one handful at a time, until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Top soup with popcorn.

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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Thirty Minute White Bread

This was a fairly easy bread to make and if your looking for an easy loaf to start with give this one a try. I will admit I prefer the First Loaf recipe I posted 2 days ago over this loaf. We still have bread left 2 days later so I think even the family does not like this bread as much as the first recipe. The bread seemed a little heavier and not as fluffy as the First Loaf recipe. However I can see myself making this bread when I'm short on time and need bread in a hurry.

30 Minute White Bread
Bernard Clayton's New Complete Book of Breads

1 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter
3 teaspoons salt
1 cup lukewarm water (105-115 degrees)
2 packages dry yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
6 to 7 cups bread or all purpose flour
1 tablespoon butter, melted

You'll need 2 medium loaf pans, greased.

Warm the milk in a saucepan to soften the butter for a few minutes. Add the salt and the lukewarm water. Add the yeast and sugar and stir to dissolve.

Stir in 2 cups flour and beat for 3 minutes at medium speed in an electric mixer. Gradually add 2 more cups flour, and continue beating for 3 minutes.

Turn off the mixer and add about 2 more cups of flour. Work it in with a spoon, and when it becomes stiff, with your hands.

Knead with a dough hook on the mixer for 8 minutes.

Divide the dough in half, and shape the balls. Let rest under a cloth for 5 minutes.

Form the loaves by pressing each ball into an oval, roughly the length of your baking pan. Fold the oval in half, pinch the seam tightly to seal, tuck under the ends, and place seam side down in the pan. Brush the loaves with melted butter.

Place the pans in a cold oven and turn heat on to 400 degrees for 60 seconds, 1 minute no more! Turn it off.

About 30 minutes later turn the oven to 400 degrees and bake for 45 minutes, or until loaves are brown. When done, they will sound hollow when tapped on the bottom crust with the forefinger. If the crust is soft, return to the oven, without the pans for 10 minutes.

This bread freezes well.

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Brian's Awesome Steak Marinade

Yummy! The smell and the taste of these steaks were just plain yummy! I made 6 steaks with this marinade and I should have made more. The kids ate one steak each which is almost a miracle these days. My husband ate his steak and said don't even think about ever trying another marinade this has topped any recipe I had tried before. The recipe calls for an overnight marinade but I did not catch that so my steaks only marinaded for about 6 hours but they still had great flavor. You might want to give this recipe a try before grilling season is over.

Brian's Awesome Steak Marinade
Melanie at My Kitchen Cafe

1 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup pineapple juice
3 garlic cloves crushed or finely minced

Combine all ingredients thoroughly and use as marinade. If marinading steaks, I marinade the meat overnight (about 12-14 hours) before grilling.

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The First Loaf

The temperature is dropping and that means its time for me to start baking again. We've missed homemade bread over the last few months. This recipe is the first in a book called Bernard Clayton's New Complete Book of Breads. I wanted to get the Bread Baker's Apprentice so I could join in on the challenge but the library did not have that book in stock and it was too pricey to buy right now. This first loaf of bread was really tasty. So tasty in fact the family had it all eaten in less than twelve hours. The recipe makes 2 loaves and they can be frozen up to 6 months.

The First Loaf
adapted slightly from Bernard Clayton's New Complete Book of Breads

5-6 cups bread or all purpose flour, approximately
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 package dry yeast
1/4 cup nonfat dry milk
2 cups hot water (120-130 degrees)
3 tablespoons butter, room temperature

In a large mixing bowl measure 2 cups flour, sugar, salt, yeast, and dry milk. Pour the hot water into the dry ingredients and beat with the batter attachment on your mixer to blend thoroughly. Add the butter; continue beating. Add 1 cup flour and beat for 3 minutes on medium speed. Attach the dough hook and add flour 1/4 cup at a time until the dough forms a soft, elastic ball around the revolving hook.

Continue to knead for 10 minutes. If the ball of dough sticks to the side of the bowl, add sprinkles of flour. Should the dough try to climb over the protective collar at the top of the hook as it turns, hold it back with the edge of a rubber spatula.

When properly kneaded the dough will be soft and elastic. It can be pulled into a thin sheet when stretched between the hands.

Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, tightly covered with plastic wrap to retain the moisture, and leave at room temperature until the dough has doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Turn back the plastic wrap and punch down the dough. Turn it onto the floured work surface and knead for a moment or so to force out any bubbles. Divide the dough into 2 pieces with a sharp knife. Shape each piece into a ball and let it rest on the work surface 2-3 minutes. Form a a loaf by pressing the ball of dough into a flat oval roughly the length of the baking pan. Fold the oval in half, pinch the seam tightly to seal, tuck under the ends, and place seam down in the pan.

Cover the pans with waxed or parchment paper and leave until dough has doubled in volume, about 45 minutes at room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees about 20 minutes before baking.

Place the loaves in the hot oven for 10 minutes, then lower the heat to 350 degrees for an additional 25 to 30 minutes. Midway through baking and again at the end turn the pans end for end so the loaves are uniformly exposed to heat.

When the loaves are a golden brown and sound hollow when thumped on the bottom crust, they are done. Turn out on wire racks to cool. If you want a soft, tender crust, brush on the hot loaves butter.

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Monday, September 21, 2009

Classic Potato Salad

This recipe is Aaron McCargo Jr.'s version of potato salad. When I read the ingredients I thought my husband would love this recipe. As I have mentioned before he is not a fan of potato salad and only eats it if its the only option. After eating this salad he promptly asked for seconds and asked when are you making this again. I would say this makes this salad a winner. This was a really quick salad to make and you can serve it immediately after making it if desired. I placed mine in the fridge for about 5 hours before serving just cause I prefer my potato salad cold.

Aaron McCargo's Jr.'s Classic Potato Salad
adapted slightly from Food Network Magazine June/July 2009

3 large red potatoes, about 1 1/2 pounds, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
2 medium eggs
one onion, diced
1/2 cup chopped celery
2 tablespoons sweet relish
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon hot sauce
salt and pepper
1 cup mayonnaise

Bring large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook potatoes until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain potatoes and allow to cool while making the rest of the salad. In a separate pot bring water to boil and add the eggs. Cook 12 minutes then remove eggs and place in a bowl filled with ice water. Cool eggs completely and then roughly chop the eggs.

In a large bowl, combine the onion, celery, relish, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, and the mayonnaise. Fold in the potatoes and eggs. Place in the fridge until cool or serve immediatley.

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Sunday, September 20, 2009

Cheese Rolls with Buttery Parmesan Crust

Oh goodness these were so tasty. The taste several minutes out of the oven was just heavenly. I could not get the kids to try these delightful treats but hey that left more for me. Even my husband liked these rolls and that's saying a lot since he's a traditionalist. The rolls was tender and chewy. Also they did not take much time to make considering the taste.

Cheese Rolls with Buttery Parmesan Crust
recipe from Melanie at My Kitchen Cafe

4 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1 cup lukewarm milk
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
5-6 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

8 ounces cheddar or pepperjack cheese, cut into 15 cubes

2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup Italian-flavored bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water

For the dough, combine all the ingredients and mix and knead until you have a soft, elastic dough (don't add too much flour - the key to soft dinner rolls is a soft dough!). Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl and cover, letting rise in a warm place for 20-30 minutes.

Prepare a 9X13-inch pan by lightly greasing the bottom and sides with butter or nonstick cooking spray. Deflate the dough and divide into 15 pieces. Shape the pieces of dough into rounds and punch a cube of cheese from the bottom up into the center of each piece. Pinch the dough tightly together to close the bottom. Place the rolls, pinched side down, in the prepared baking pan. Cover and let rise again for another 15 to 20 minutes, or until nearly doubled.

While the rolls are rising, melt the butter and stir in bread crumbs and parmesan cheese. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. When the rolls have risen, brush the tops with the egg yolk beaten with water. Sprinkle tops of rolls liberally with the bread crumb mixture. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until the tops of the rolls are nicely browned. Remove from the pan immediately and cool on a rack. Serve warm.

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Saturday, September 19, 2009

Green Bean Soup II

We love soup in our house. I love finding a gem of a soup recipe from a source but I usually just make up soup recipes as I go. This is one of those made up recipes. I had just over a pound of fresh green beans from my csa pickup that needed to be used. This turned out to be a pretty tasty soup. My husband did not want to try it and told me he wanted something else for dinner. Well after smelling the soup cooking he changed his mind. Overall this was a simple recipe but it did involve a little bit of time to cook the beans. I'd say it took about one hour from start to finish. A huge bonus being it was much better tasting than a can of soup.

Green Bean Soup II

1 pound fresh green beans, ends cut off and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2-3 strips bacon, I used peppered bacon, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced (use less if your not a huge fan of garlic)
2 1/2 teaspoons chicken bouillon
3 cups water
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
4-5 drops of hot sauce
salt and pepper to taste

Cook bacon until almost crisp in a dutch oven. Drain the grease from the bacon and reserved about 1-2 tablespoons. Place the grease in the pot add the cooked bacon and onion. Cook until onions are soft about 4-5 minutes. Add garlic, cook 30-45 seconds. Add water and green beans. Bring to a boil and then add all the rest of the ingredients. Simmer until beans are soft, anywhere from 20-40 minutes. You may need to adjust seasonings to your taste and you may need to add water to the pot.

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Friday, September 18, 2009

Quick and Easy Hamburger Steak

This is another of those go to recipes for busy days. It's quick and simple to make and requires just a handful of ingredients. We prefer having the mushrooms and onions with the gravy but its easy to leave those out of your family does not like them. You can cook the hamburger any way you want. Sometimes we grill it, broil it, or fry it in the pan. You can also use packaged gravy mix if desired but I make my own.

Quick and Easy Hamburger steaks

4-6 hamburger patties
Cook hamburger anyway you'd prefer and season to your taste. While cooking the burgers:

melt 2 tablespoons butter in pan over medium high heat
add one can of mushrooms
one onion, sliced
Cook, stirring occasionally until onions start to brown.

Now either use a brown gravy packet, added to the mushrooms and onions, and add water according to the packet. Or follow this recipe for gravy:

3 tbsp. flour
2 c. water
2 tbsp. catsup
Salt to taste
1/2 tsp. black pepper
Stir flour into the mushrooms and onions. Stir until brown. Add water, catsup, black pepper. When gravy thickens, pour over meat

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Soft Wrap Bread

This was so simple to make and tasted much better than the stale pita bread in the stores. I'll never buy pita bread at the store again or run to the store again when I need pita bread for a recipe. These were tender and soft and very tasty. The kids ate theirs plain and talked about how yummy the bread was. I served the adults a chicken "gyro" sandwich and the wrap was perfect for the sandwich. The recipe for the chicken I used follows the recipe for the pita bread. Give these wraps a try in any dish and you won't be disappointed.

Soft Wrap Bread
My Kitchen Cafe

3 to 3 1/4 cups (12 3/4 to 13 3/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) boiling water
1/4 cup (1 1/2 ounces) potato flour OR 1/2 cup (5/8 ounces) potato buds or flakes (I used potato flakes)
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons (7/8 ounce) vegetable oil
1 teaspoon instant yeast*

Place 2 cups of the flour into a bowl or the bucket of a bread machine. Pour the boiling water over the flour, and stir till smooth. Cover the bowl or bucket and set the mixture aside for 30 minutes.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the potato flour (or flakes or buds) and 1 cup of the remaining flour with the salt, oil and yeast. Add this to the cooled flour/water mixture, stir, then knead for several minutes (by hand, mixer or bread machine) to form a soft dough.

Note: You can allow the dough to go through the entire kneading cycle(s) in the bread machine, but it's not necessary; about a 5-minute knead in the machine, once it gets up to full kneading speed, is fine. The dough should form a ball, but will remain somewhat sticky (the dough is fairly stiff, so don't be worried - just be careful not to overflour the dough). Add additional flour only if necessary; if kneading by hand, keep your hands and work surface lightly oiled. Let the dough rise, covered, for 1 hour (a little longer is fine, I let mine rise for 2 1/2 hours).

Divide the dough into 8 pieces (each about the size of a handball, around 3 ounces), cover, and let rest for 15 to 30 minutes. Roll each piece into a 7- to 8-inch circle, and dry-fry them (fry without oil) on a griddle or frying pan over medium heat for about 1 minute per side (It took mine about 4 minutes per side so adjust for your stove and pan), until they're puffed and flecked with brown spots. Adjust the heat if they seem to be cooking either too quickly, or too slowly; cooking too quickly means they may be raw in the center, while too slowly will dry them out. Transfer the cooked breads to a wire rack, stacking them to keep them soft. Serve immediately, or cool slightly before storing in a plastic bag.

*This recipe works best with instant yeast because it dissolves during the kneading process, so you don't have to knead liquid into the dough. If you really prefer to use active dry yeast, use only 1 cup boiling water for the initial dough, dissolve the yeast in 1/4 cup warm water, and add this mixture to the dough along with the potato flour mixture. It'll be somewhat "slippery" at first, but will knead in and eventually become smooth.

Chicken Marinade
I adapted this from the recipe I have for Chicken Spiedies

1/2 cup olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons grated zest plus 1 tablespoon juice from one lemon
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Combine all ingredients together. Cut chicken in to 1 1/2 or 2 inch chunks. Marinade at least 30 minutes and up to 3 hours. Place chicken on skewers and grill until cooked. Remove skewers and place on bread wrap with toppings.

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Monday, September 14, 2009

Pumpkin Roll

This was so easy to make and the taste was superb. My three boys were licking their plates after eating this cause they wanted more. I was really worried about making a cake roll since I have never made one before but I only had a few minor problems with transferring the cake before rolling. Overall this was so easy to make and again I have to say cakes from scratch just plain taste better than cakes from a mix.

Pumpkin Roll
Cooks Country October/November 2009

1 cup cake flour, sifted
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
cream cheese frosting, recipe will be posted below the cake recipe
confectioner's sugar
spiced nuts for garnish, optional

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 18-by 13 inch rimmed baking sheet and line with parchment paper. Whisk flour, spice, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl; set aside. With electric mixer on medium high speed, beat eggs and sugar until pale yellow and thick, 6 to 10 minutes. Add pumpkin and mix on low until incorporated. Fold in flour mixture until combined. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan. Bake until cake is firm and springs back when touched, about 15 minutes. Before cooling, run knife around edge of cake to loosen, and turn out onto clean sheet of parchment paper that has been dusted with confectioner's sugar. Gently peel off parchment attached to cake and discard. Roll cake and fresh parchment into log and cool completely, about 1 hour.

To assemble:
Gently unroll cake and spread with frosting, leaving one inch border at edges. Re-roll cake snugly, leaving parchment behind. Wrap cake firmly in plastic wrap and chill completely, at least one hour or up to 2 days. Remove plastic, dust with confectioner's sugar and garnish with spiced nuts.

Cream Cheese frosting:
8 tablespoons unsalted butter , softened
2 cups confectioners' sugar
8 ounces cream cheese , cut into 4 pieces, softened
3/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
Pinch salt

With electric mixer, beat butter and sugar on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add cream cheese, one piece at a time, and beat until incorporated, about 30 seconds. Beat in vanilla and salt. Refrigerate until ready to use.

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Sunday, September 13, 2009

Grandma Wooly's Beef Barbecue

I after reading the ingredient list I thought there was no way this dish could really taste all that great. The ingredient list was way too short and contained some strange ingredients for bbq'd beef. However I was wrong. This dish was really quite tasty and was quite easy to make. The smell of this cooking made me very hungry long before it was done cooking. This is going on our to make again list!

Grandma Wooly's Beef Barbecue
Cooks Country Magazine October/November 2009

1 tablespoon pickling spice
2 pounds boneless chuck eye roast, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups ketchup
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 teaspoon dry mustard
8 hamburger buns, toasted

Adjust oven rack to lower middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees. Tie pickling spice in cheesecloth to make sachet. Pat beef dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large dutch oven over medium heat until just smoking. Cook half of beef, turning occasionally, until well browned all over, about 8 minutes. Transfer to large bowl and repeat with remaining oil and beef.

Stir water into pot, scraping up any browned bits. Add beef, along with any accumulated juices, to pot and bring to boil. Transfer pot to oven and cook covered, stirring occasionally, until meat is nearly tender, about 1 hour. Stir ketchup, vinegar, and mustard into pot. Add pickling spice sachet and continue to cook, covered, until meat is fork tender, about one hour longer.

Discard sachet. Using slotted spoon, transfer beef to plate. When cool enough to handle, shred beef into bite sized pieces. Return beef to pot and stir until coated with sauce and warmed. Season with salt and pepper. Serve on hamburger buns.

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Saturday, September 12, 2009

Skillet Chili Mac with Corn and Green Chilies

Sometimes I long for the old days of using hamburger helper for dinner. However my tastes have changed and hamburger helper is just gross to me these days. This dish brings back the easy meal making that the boxed stuff offers but it tastes nothing like the boxed stuff. The flavors mingled together perfectly and it was simple and quick to make. I was worried about adding the green chilies and almost skipped using them. I am so glad I did not since they really added to the dish. Give this simple and quick dish a try, you won't be disappointed.

Skillet Mac with Corn and Green Chilies
Melanie at My Kitchen Cafe

Serves 6

**If you want a traditional chili mac, omit the corn, chiles and cilantro**

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 pound ground beef
1 onion, minced
3/4 tablespoon chili powder (add more if you want more heat)
1/2 tablespoon ground coriander (substitute ground cumin for a smokier flavor)
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 8 oz. cans tomato sauce
2 cups water
8 ounces (2 cups) elbow macaroni
1 cup frozen corn
1 4.5-oz can chopped green chiles
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
2 cups shredded cheese (I used a combination of cheddar and monterey jack but you can use pepper jack or a mexican shredded cheese blend)

Heat oil in a 12-inch non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add the ground beef, onion, chili powder, coriander, cumin and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook the ground beef until it is no longer pink. Drain off any excess fat or grease (the amount will depend on how lean your beef is). Stir in garlic and brown sugar and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in tomato sauce, water, and macaroni. Cover and cook, stirring often and keeping the heat at a steady simmer, until the macaroni is tender, about 12-12 minutes.

Stir in 1 cup of the cheese, frozen corn, green chiles and cilantro and sprinkle remaining 1 cup of cheese over the top. Cover and let sit off the heat until the cheese melts, about 2 minutes.

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Thursday, September 10, 2009

Easy Chicken Tacos

Wow, these tacos were really good! A bonus being they were very easy to make. Now reading through the list of ingredients I had my doubts on how these were going to taste but they were from my favorite cooking magazine so I figured they were worth a try. These were sinfully delicious. I can't wait to make them again. Others in the family had no idea I used some strange ingredients for tacos and they all enjoyed the chicken too. These tacos would be delicious with a homemade guacamole and pico de gallo.

3 tablespoons butter
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons minced canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce (you can find these in the Mexican Foods aisle at most grocery stores)
1/2 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
3/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1 teaspoon yellow mustard
Salt and pepper
12 (6-inch) flour tortillas

Melt the butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and chipotle and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the orange juice, Worcestershire sauce and 1/2 cup chopped cilantro and bring the mixture to a boil. Add the chicken and simmer, covered, over medium-low heat for 12-13 minutes, flipping the chicken halfway through cooking. When the chicken is done cooking, transfer to a plate and tent with foil.

Increase the heat to medium-high and cook the mixture left in the skillet until the liquid is reduced to about 1/4 cup, about 5 minutes. Off the heat, whisk in the yellow mustard. Using 2 forks, shred the chicken into bite-sized pieces and return to the skillet. Add the remaining cilantro to the skillet and toss until well combined. Season with salt and pepper. Serve warm with tortillas topped with lettuce, cheese, tomato, sour cream and avocado.

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Sunday, September 6, 2009

Bacon Mac

Surprisingly this turned out pretty good. Given the fact it came from Cooking Light I was worried it would be not like macaroni and cheese. I was wrong. However next time I make it I think I'll leave the green onions out they did not do much for me in the dish. The bacon was an interesting addition. The one thing I thought it was missing was maybe some crushed corn flakes or crackers. That would have probably put the recipe over the goal of the Cooking Light magazine but I think it would have added to the dish.

Bacon Mac
Cooking Light Magazine Sept. 2009

3 1/4 teaspoon salt, divided
12 ounces strossapreti or penne pasta (I used elbow)
4 teaspoons all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups skim milk (I used 1%), divided
2 cups finely shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided
1/4 cup sliced green onions
1 teaspoon hot sauce
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 slices center cut bacon, cooked and crumbled
cooking spray

Preheat broiler.
Bring 6 quarts water and 1 tablespoon salt to a boil. Add pasta; cook 8 minutes or until al dente; drain.
Combine flour and 1/2 cup milk in a saucepan over medium heat. Gradually add 1 cup milk; bring to a boil. Cook one minute stirring constantly. Remove from heat; let stand 4 minutes or until it cools to 155 degrees. Stir in 1 1/2 cups cheese. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, onions, hot sauce, bacon, and pepper; stir. Add pasta; toss. Spoon into a 2 quart broiler safe dish coated with cooking spray; top with 1/2 cup cheese. Broil 7 minutes.
6 servings.

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Saturday, September 5, 2009

Cooking Magazines

I had someone leave a comment asking what cooking magazines I like so I am making a post about them. I've not been doing too much cooking lately since I've torn the ligaments and tendons in my ankle and I am not suppose to put any weight on my foot. So this question came at a good time.

I never miss these magazines:
Cook's Country- I have to admit this is one of my all time favorite magazines. I think in the 4 years I've been reading it only once was there a recipe we did not like after we tried it. I just can't say enough about this magazine. I think you'll notice I make a lot of recipes from this magazine.

Cook's Illustrated- I buy this regularly BUT I find I don't make much out of them. Usually the recipes are a little more complicated and are a little beyond my family's taste. However I purchase every month because you never know when you'll stumble across a great recipe. Two of my all time favorite recipes came from this magazine, Rustic Dinner Rolls and Multigrain Bread.

Taste of Home's Simple and Delicious- While I purchase this magazine I usually end up having to really adapt most of their recipes into something we would eat. This magazine is big on processed foods which we really do not eat in our house. I find most Taste of Home magazines to be a step down from Cook's Country and Cook's Illustrated but I do love finding the occasional gem in the magazines.

Taste of Home's Healthy Cooking- Love this one! If I had to limit myself to one Taste of Home magazine this would be the one. Great ideas and some pretty tasty recipes in this magazine.

Cooking Light- I buy this every month for all the great tips on fitness and food. I find their recipes usually rank up there with Cook's Country and Cook's Illustrated.

I buy these magazines occasionally:
Rachael Ray's magazine- I use to really love this magazine. Something changed though over the past year and now I only buy it if it catches my eye.

Taste of Home- Just the regular version on this one. Not a huge fan but will buy every once in awhile.

Food Network- Interesting magazine but not one I buy unless something looks great on the cover.

Cooking with Paula Dean- I think I have bought this magazine twice. I really don't like the layout of the magazine for some reason. But the two or three recipes I have tried have been great.

Adding to my list: Country Living Magazine- Yes this is not really a cooking magazine but they have some amazing recipes in side. I don't always remember to pick up this magazine and I don't always try the recipes they have but its worth a look.

Sunset- Another magazine that is not a cooking magazine but it does have some pretty tasty recipes every once in awhile. This is another magazine that I don't always pick up and usually only buy if there is a recipe I am interested in.

Parents- This is like the Taste Of Home magazine for me. I have like a 5 year subscription to this magazine so it arrives every month but I usually take their recipes and adapt to our tastes. I have found a few winners in this magazine.

Family Fun- Like Parents I have a huge amount of time on my subscription and find a few worthy recipes inside. They had a banana bread recipe that was so unbelievably tasty I am drooling just thinking about it.

I'll do another thread with cookbooks later this week.

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Thursday, September 3, 2009

Barbecue Sirloin and Blue Cheese Salad with Garlic-Olive Bread

This was an easy meal that I had on the table from start to finish in about 30 minutes. We loved the salad and the flavors were good together. I used a mild flavored Gorgonzola blue cheese but if you want a more assertive taste I like Maytag blue cheese.

Barbecue Sirloin and Blue Cheese Salad with Garlic-Olive Bread
adapted from Cooking Light Magazine September 2009

1 pound lean sirloin steak, seasoned with your favorite steak seasoning
Cook on grill to your desired temperature. Cut against grain in thin slices.

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 garlic powder
Mix all ingredients together. Double this if you'd prefer more dressing.

6 cups torn butter or Boston lettuce
3/4 cup thinly sliced peeled cucumber
1 cup red pepper strips
1/2 cup thinly sliced shallots
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
2 tomatoes, cut into slices
Build your salad in individual bowls. Start from the first ingredient, lettuce, and end with blue cheese. Top with steak and salad dressing. Serve.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Slice 2 Italian style hoagie rolls in half horizontally. Combine 1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil and 1 teaspoon garlic powder; brush evenly over cut sides of rolls. Bake at 425 degrees for 7 minutes or until toasted.

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