Sunday, September 30, 2012

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Hubby started a new shift last week, and we've been struggling. We went from graveyard to swing, so we're missing a lot of our family time in the afternoon. And I'm missing the time I got to plan and cook dinner every day. Now, I have to decide what we're going to eat the day before and have to do prep work before bed so that it is ready in time for him to go to work. I'm not loving it, but that's the life, and we're hoping it's only temporary.
Yay for Instagram! This was after we ate-not enough left over!

This recipe wasn't really an option as is, since we don't have time for slow cooker meals, unless I'm going to get up at 4am to make them. No thanks. But the soup looked so good that I decided to adapt the recipe for my Dutch oven, which just happens to be my favorite kitchen tool ever. Other than cooking the chicken the night before, this came together really quickly and was amazingly delicious. Hubby claims it's his new favorite soup-he liked it even more than my chicken noodle soup-and that's really saying something! The only change I will make next time is doubling the recipe. There just wasn't enough left over!
Chicken Tortilla Soup
*Adapted from Baked by Rachel (see the link for the slow cooker instructions)

3 chicken breasts, cooked with homemade taco seasoning, salt and pepper, and shredded**
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
15oz can sweet corn, drained
15oz can diced tomatoes, drained
5 cups chicken stock
3/4 cup yellow onion, finely diced (about half a medium onion)
1 medium green bell pepper, diced
1 serrano pepper, ribs and seeds removed and minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 heaping teaspoon chili powder
Kosher salt and pepper
Tiny pinch of sugar
Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
Seasoned tortilla strips
Sour cream
Green onions, chopped

Melt butter and olive oil in a 5-quart Dutch oven on medium heat. Add diced onions and cook for 5-7 minutes, until softened. Add diced bell pepper and cook for another 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently. Season lightly with salt and pepper. 

Add minced garlic and serrano pepper and cook for 1 minute. Pour in 5 cups of chicken broth. Add cooked shredded chicken, corn, and diced tomatoes. Season again with salt and pepper, then add chili powder and a pinch of sugar. Bring to a boil and continue boiling for 20 minutes at medium-high heat, stirring frequently. Reduce heat and simmer for another 15-20 minutes or until ready to serve. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper, if necessary.

Serve with a dollop of sour cream mixed in, then top with cheese, tortilla strips, cilantro, and chopped green onions. Enjoy!
**How to cook the chicken: I start with frozen chicken breasts. Place each one in a foil packet and top with a small drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkle of taco seasoning and salt and pepper. Close up the packets and bake at 375º for 45-65 minutes (for frozen chicken), or until the juices run clear. Shred in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment.

Cinnamon Churro Chex

Nothing like a cup of Cinnamon Churro Chex in the morning!
I have a small (read: huge!) obsession with cinnamon chips. I'm always looking for new ways to use them because those little chips are so good. My cinnamon chip oatmeal cookies are a family favorite; I make them all the time as my go-to cookie. When I saw this recipe on Pinterest, I called Hubby at work to tell him about it, which I never do. In our world, calling Hubby while he's on duty isn't a good idea, unless it's an emergency. I don't want to distract my favorite deputy. However, this was too good to keep to myself and he was ecstatic to try these. They didn't disappoint either! Easy, yummy, and cinnamon-y. Oh yes!

Cinnamon Churro Chex
*Slightly adapted from The Family Kitchen

9 cups Rice Chex cereal
1 1/2 cups cinnamon chips
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

Microwave cinnamon chips and butter in a small bowl for 1 minute, stirring halfway through. Stir and microwave 30 seconds longer, or until completely melted and smooth. Drizzle mixture over cereal and toss (your hands are the best tools here). In a small bowl, combine powdered sugar, granulated sugar, and cinnamon. Toss the coated Chex with the mixture and spread on parchment paper until cooled.


Saturday, September 15, 2012

Asian Chicken Salad

This salad was absolutely delicious! We try a lot of new recipes and some are great, but only a few make it into the regular rotation. This is one of those special dishes that we both love. Full of fresh ingredients, flavorful chicken, and crunchy chow mein noodles, Asian chicken salad is a bright, yummy, and easy dish to throw together any night of the week. While we loved all the flavors, we might try to give it a Thai spin next time by changing up the marinade just a little with the addition of red pepper flakes and peanut butter instead of Chinese 5-Spice seasoning, which has a licorice-y flavor. That's another nice thing about this dish-you can change it up to fit your taste very easily. Again though, we loved this one!

Asian Chicken Salad
*Adapted from Pinch of Yum

For the chicken:
2 chicken breasts
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon ginger (or 1 tablespoon minced ginger)
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons Chinese 5-Spice seasoning

1/4 cup chopped green onions
2-3 cups coleslaw or shredded lettuce
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1-2 cups shredded carrots
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
2 cups cooked, shelled edamame (it's called mukimame when you buy it pre-shelled and is much more convenient in steam bags for easy cooking)
2 cups crunchy chow mein noodles
Toasted sesame seeds (optional)
Salad dressing of your choice (I used Litehouse toasted sesame ginger)

Whisk together the soy sauce, garlic, ginger, sugar, and 5-spice seasoning. Marinate the chicken in the sauce for at least 1 hour. Bake chicken with the sauce at 400º for 20-30 minutes, turning occasionally, until cooked through. Let cool and shred.

Toss chicken, green onions, coleslaw, almonds, carrots, cilantro, edamame, and sesame seeds together.

Serve tossed with salad dressing and top with crunchy chow mein noodles. Enjoy!

Self-Frosting Nutella Cupcakes

I used to hate Nutella. It's a sad, sad fact, but it's true. While we were in France, I had a bite of a particularly delicious crepe smothered in Nutella. Every hotel we stayed at served little cups of Nutella with baguettes and croissants. I became obsessed. Now it goes on everything: waffles, bread, fruit, and now cupcakes. These were very good, but the cupcake itself was just a little dry, so I will probably use all butter next time or make smaller muffins to shorten the cooking time. Smaller muffins would have helped the overflow problem I had as well. Lesson learned: don't overfill your muffin tin!

Self-Frosting Nutella Cupcakes
*From The Family Kitchen

1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup canola oil
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk or half and half
1/2-2/3 cup Nutella

Preheat oven to 350º.

Beat the oil, butter, and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until smooth.

In a small bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add half of the mixture to the batter and beat on low speed until just combined. Add the milk and mix until just combined, then add the rest of the flour mixture and mix until just combined.

Divide the batter between 12 paper-lined muffin cups (I will do 15-18 muffins next time). Spoon the Nutella into a dish and microwave for 15-30 seconds, until soft. Drop a spoonful of Nutella into each muffin cup on top of the batter and swirl with a knife.

Bake 20-30 minutes or until springy to the touch. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Homemade Taco Seasoning

What do you do when you really want Mexican, but you're out of taco seasoning? You frantically search the internet (seriously, what did we do before the internet?) and find a recipe for homemade taco seasoning that sounds promising. Then you tweak it a little bit and hope for the best. The verdict? It was good! We missed a little bit of salt, which might be a residual effect of our reliance on the standard pre-packaged taco seasoning, but a pinch of salt in the finished product did the trick. This seasoning was spicy, smoky, and delicious! We will be sticking with homemade taco seasoning from now on.

Homemade Taco Seasoning
*Adapted from Annie's Eats

4 tbsp. chili powder
3 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. smoked paprika
3 tbsp. ground cumin
1 tbsp. plus 2 tsp. onion powder
1 heaping tsp. garlic powder
3/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp. ground red pepper

Mix all ingredients together and store in an airtight container. To use: Add 2 heaping tablespoons seasoning, a pinch of kosher salt, and 1 cup of water to 1 pound cooked beef, chicken, or pork. Simmer until the liquid is completely gone. You can also use about 1 tablespoon per can of black beans as a side dish as well.

**We did find that a pinch of salt was necessary for flavor in our dish, so add salt to taste!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Spaghetti Squash Au Gratin

Have you ever had spaghetti squash? If not, you should go to the store right now and get one. Seriously. Spaghetti squash are insanely easy to cook and taste just like shredded potatoes (at least in this dish). You can also substitute spaghetti squash in as pasta because it imitates the texture. The best thing about this squash is that it is low carb, but still delicious. We try to eat relatively healthy in our house, but we enjoy food too much to resort to the rabbit food lifestyle. So anytime I find a recipe that we love, but that is also healthy, it's goes into our permanent recipe file. This is definitely one for the permanent file!

Here's an even better bonus-the baby loved it too! She's not too picky about her food, but she does seem to really enjoy her meats and veggies. It wasn't a big surprise that she loved the squash, but it tickles us every time she gets excited about the food we make. We love her so much!

Spaghetti Squash Au Gratin
*Adapted from Dandy Dishes

1 large spaghetti squash
3 tablespoons butter
1 large shallot, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (we grind ours to a powder)
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme
1/2 cup sour cream
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Kosher salt and pepper, to taste

Spaghetti squash are a little tough to cut. To do so, place your knife tip into the middle of the squash and press down lengthwise toward your cutting board. Repeat on the other side and split. Once you've cut it, remove the seeds. Place the halves in a dish, fill with about 1/2 inch water, and cover. Microwave for 12-15 minutes or until the squash is soft and the flesh scrapes off easily with a fork. (We did this part in batches because our dish wasn't large enough.)

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a skillet. Add the shallots and cook until translucent. Add the red pepper flakes, thyme, and salt and pepper. Cook a few more minutes, until the shallots are slightly brown. Add the garlic and cook for about 1 minute longer, until fragrant.

Combine the squash, shallot mixture, sour cream, cream cheese, and half the cheese in a large bowl and mix well. Transfer to a buttered baking dish and top with the remaining cheese. Bake for 25-35 minutes at 375º or until the top is golden brown.


Friday, June 22, 2012

CrockPot Kalua Pork

This is one of the best recipes I've ever tried. Other than a few minutes of prep work and the ten minutes it takes to shred, this pork is easy, flavorful, and makes enough for a crowd. Hubby and I will eat this with BBQ sauce on sandwiches or in tacos with spicy black beans and sour cream. It lasts for days! An added bonus is that our 8-month-old loves it too. The smoke flavor is pretty mild, but so delicious-it's even baby approved!

Kalua Pork

5-8 pound bone-in pork roast
1 1/2 tablespoons coarse sea salt
2 tablespoons liquid smoke

The first thing I learned about the prep work for this recipe is to wear gloves! Liquid smoke smell will stay on your hands all day if you don't wear those gloves. Pierce your pork roast all over with a fork (we use a tenderizing fork so we get some nice big holes). Make sure you get all sides.

Rub in your sea salt.

Pour on the liquid smoke and massage that in as well. 

Place the roast in the CrockPot and cook on low until the meat starts to fall apart, anywhere from 8-12 hours, depending on the size, turning once. Remove the meat from the slow cooker and drain the juice into a bowl. Do NOT throw that out-that's the good stuff!

Shred your pork, removing the fat as you go. Return the shredded meat to the slow cooker and add in a few large spoonfuls of that delicious juice you saved. You'll know you have enough when the meat starts to look very moist. Cover and cook on low for about 30 minutes.

Serve in tacos or with BBQ sauce on sandwiches. Or be like my hubby and eat it right out of the CrockPot. Pat yourself on the back because this dish is SO good! And enjoy!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Zucchini Soup

Hubby got me a Vitamix blender to celebrate getting our tax return and I'm a little obsessed with it. This soup took all of 5 minutes to put together and it was really yummy. Plus, it cooks in the blender, meaning no pot to clean! Healthy, easy, and delicious all rolled in one? Yes, please!

Zucchini Soup
*Adapted from the Vitamix Whole Foods cookbook

2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 medium zucchini, chopped
1 medium carrot, halved
1 stalk celery, chopped
1/4 cup potato flakes (or half a cooked baked potato)
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
Pinch salt
Fresh cracked pepper

Place all ingredients into the blender (you could certainly use a food processor and then cook this on the stove). Turn the blender on Variable 1 and quickly increase speed to Variable 10, then to high. Blend for 6-7 minutes or until heavy steam escapes from the vented lid. Serve and enjoy!

Chicken Noodle Soup

I make this chicken noodle soup at least once a month and, since it makes such a large amount, Hubby and I eat it for a few days afterward. The best thing about these leftovers: they just get better and better. Another good thing about this recipe is that it is extremely easy. On nights I don't want to bother with cooking chicken, I pick up a whole roasted chicken from the store (Costco has the best ones!) and Hubby shreds it while I chop up veggies. 

I know that chicken noodle soup isn't fancy or "special," but this is one of my all-time favorite recipes. I'd say it's definitely in the top five! This can be made last minute or you can let is simmer for a few hours and really get some amazing flavor out of the stock. As with most dishes, I think homemade chicken stock would make the soup extra delicious, but I always use boxed stock because it's a lot quicker and easier. Try this soup! I promise it won't disappoint!

Chicken Noodle Soup

4 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded (or a whole roasted chicken, shredded)
4 or 5 boxes of chicken stock (4-5 quarts of stock)
A 16-20 ounce bag of baby carrots, chopped small (the smaller the carrots, the quicker they will cook)
4-6 stalks of celery, chopped (about the same size as the carrots)
2 pound bag of egg noodles
A pinch of salt
Lots and lots of freshly cracked pepper

Add your veggies, chicken, salt, pepper, and 2 quarts of chicken stock to a large pot. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat. Simmer at medium heat for 45 minutes or at low heat for a few hours, or until the carrots and celery have softened.

Turn up the heat, add noodles and enough stock to cover, about 2-3 quarts, depending on how much the cooking liquid has reduced. Cook until the noodles are al dente. Serve immediately. Enjoy!

*This keeps well in a sealed container in the fridge for a few days. Just add a little bit of water before you heat it up to give it a little more broth.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Amazing Garlic Alfredo Sauce!

 What makes this alfredo so amazing? How about the fact that there is no cream in it? Or maybe it's the non-oily nature of the sauce when it's reheated? But it might just be the simple deliciousness of it! Our whole house smelled of garlicky goodness while this was cooking. It came together so fast-so make sure you have all your ingredients ready before you start.

We really couldn't tell that there wasn't any cream, as the sauce was gooey and amazing. The lack of cream meant that, when reheated, this alfredo doesn't separate and get all oily. In this house, that makes this recipe a keeper! So, let's recap: yummy, garlicky, easy, quick, delicious, AND it reheats well. Score!
Garlic Alfredo Sauce
*From Mel's Kitchen Cafe

4 tablespoons butter
6 cloves garlic, finely minced
8 ounces of cream cheese (you can use low fat), softened and cut into pieces
2 cups milk (1% or 2% both work just fine)
1 1/2-2 cups grated parmesan cheese
1/2-1 teaspoon ground black pepper, to taste
1/2-1 teaspoon Kosher salt, to taste
1 pound fettuccine

In a large pot, boil noodles in salted water until just al dente.

In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly to make sure the garlic doesn't burn. Add the cream cheese, stirring with a whisk until the mixture is smooth. It will look curdled at first, but with constant whisking for 2-3 minutes, it comes together to form a smooth, creamy paste.

Add the milk about 1/4 cup at a time, whisking as you go to fully incorporate it into the sauce. Stir in the parmesan cheese, pepper, and salt. Stir until the cheese is melted and the sauce is the desired consistency. The longer you cook it, the thicker the sauce will get. Serve immediately.


Michael Symon's Mac and Cheese with Rosemary, Goat Cheese, and Prosciutto

 This is one of those recipes that really makes you believe that a few simple, good ingredients put together in a dish can make an amazing meal. Goat cheese, rosemary, and prosciutto mac and cheese is decadent and delicious. It was so easy to put together and reheated pretty well. While the original recipe called for shredded chicken, we chose to use the prosciutto and cut back on the salt. The result was well balanced and really yummy. I'm so glad to have this dish as one in our permanent recipe file. Hubby loved it too-we fought over the leftovers!

Rigatoni with Rosemary, Goat Cheese, and Prosciutto
*From Michael Symon

Kosher salt
1 pound rigatoni
4 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons rosemary, chopped
8 ounces goat cheese
4-6 slices prosciutto, chopped (or you could use shredded chicken or bacon-or leave all meat out and make it vegetarian)

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. In a large saucepan over high heat, add heavy cream, rosemary, a pinch of salt, and pepper. Bring just to a simmer and then lower the heat to medium. Simmer until the mixture is reduced by half, about 20 minutes. Continue cooking until it coats the back of a spoon.

Add the rigatoni to the boiling water and cook until just al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain the pasta, reserving a cup of cooking liquid. Add chunks of goat cheese to the sauce. Stir and add pasta, thinning with cooking liquid, if necessary.

Bring sauce back to just a simmer and adjust seasoning to taste.


Sunday, April 1, 2012

Pain Au Chocolat (Croissant and Dark Chocolate) Bread Pudding

I am a firm believer in enjoying life as much as possible, particularly since it is so short. Good food is essential to a happy life, and this is good food. Decadent, rich, deliciously good food. Pain au chocolat is a pastry that you can find in any boulangerie or patisserie in France. It's basically a croissant with a piece of dark chocolate in the middle. It's light, but rich because of the chocolate and it's wonderful. We've been unable to find one locally that stands up to those we ate in France.

Enter Pain Au Chocolat Bread Pudding. It isn't quite the same, but as a dessert, dare I say that it is better? Sprinkle some powdered sugar on top or add some sliced strawberries and you have my new favorite dessert with a fancy topping. This was truly a special dish, one that I will make for special occasions from now on, since, let's face it, heavy cream and croissants with dark chocolate isn't exactly body healthy. It is good for my soul though!

Pain Au Chocolat Bread Pudding 
*From The Comfort of Cooking

Nonstick cooking spray
3 large egg yokes
1 cup milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 croissants, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, cut into small pieces

Heat oven to 375º. Coat a 2-quart baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks, milk, cream, sugar, vanilla, salt, and nutmeg. Add the croissants and chocolate and mix to combine.

Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish. 

Bake until set and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature. Serves 4.


Saturday, March 31, 2012

Asparagus and Parmesan Frittata

Lately, I'm lucky if I can sit down for 10 minutes to enjoy my food. Baby girl is coming up on 6 months and she keeps me BUSY! I think this blog has, therefore, turned into just a way for me to keep track of recipes that we liked, without the photos that take an extra 10 minutes that I just don't have anymore. I'll do my best to take at least one photo of each dish, but I can't promise anything.

Unfortunately, this delicious (and EASY!) frittata didn't make it to the picture table. I had intended on taking one, and then I burned my hand on the handle of the skillet. Ouch! Besides my stinging fingers, this meal was a hit. It was incredibly easy, versatile, and quick, which makes it the perfect meal in this house with Little Miss Needs Attention!

Asparagus and Parmesan Frittata

2 tablespoons margarine or butter
12 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup milk or half and half
1 package chopped asparagus, cooked and drained (find these in your freezer section-I used Green Giant, which steams in its own package)
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

*You could add bacon, chicken, ham, turkey, or different veggies and herbs to mix it up too.

Preheat oven to 350º. Whip eggs with a hand mixer and then whisk in the milk. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the cooked asparagus and stir. Add the eggs and season with salt and pepper. Stir and cook for 2-3 minutes until the eggs are slightly set.

Sprinkle parmesan cheese on top and transfer the skillet to the oven. Cook until the eggs have set, about 15 minutes. CAREFULLY remove the skillet from the oven and keep the hot pad on the handle so you don't burn yourself like I did!


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Brown Butter and Sage Sauce

I made this sauce to cover mushroom ravioli. It was done so quickly, and eaten even faster, so I didn't get a chance to take pictures. But I promise, it was delicious! So much better than the jarred pasta sauces I usually use for quick dishes like this. I always have these ingredients on hand, so I'm making this my go-to sauce for pasta from now on. Sage, brown butter, parmesan, and lemon juice-oh YES!

Brown Butter and Sage Sauce
* From Mario Batali

Pasta, of choice
4 tablespoons salted butter
8 sage leaves (leave whole or tear into pieces)
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/4 cup grated parmesan

While your pasta cooks, melt the butter in a 12 to 14-inch sauté pan and continue cooking until golden brown color appears in the thinnest liquid of the butter. Add sage leaves and remove from heat. Add lemon juice and set aside. Drain the pasta, reserving some of the cooking water, and gently pour the pasta into the sauté pan and return to heat. Add the cheese and toss to coat. Use the pasta water to thin a bit, if necessary.


Hubby's Favorite Apple Crisp

Somehow I didn't take a single picture of this recipe. Maybe that's because Hubby ate it so quickly. I, on the other hand, didn't eat any of it. This recipe was too sweet for me, but I've come to realize that I don't really like very sweet flavors. I love my mom's apple crisp, which I make with Granny Smith apples for that tart bite. I'm glad I used Granny Smiths in this recipe too, since it cut the sweetness a bit. Hubby declared this his new favorite apple crisp recipe. I guess next time I make it for him, I'll have to take a picture!

Hubby's Favorite Apple Crisp
*From Mommy's Kitchen

4-5 apples, peeled and sliced (I used Granny Smith apples)
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 cup apple cider or apple juice (I used about 2/3 of a cup)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 stick cold margarine (not butter)

Preheat oven to 400º. In a small bowl, mix the cinnamon and sugar together. Add a single layer of cinnamon sugar onto the bottom of an ungreased 8x8 or 9x9 inch baking pan.

Layer sliced apples, sprinkling the cinnamon sugar mixture in between each layer. Make sure to use enough of the mixture to cover each layer.

Once the apples are to the top of the pan, cover with a final layer of cinnamon and sugar. Mix the vanilla extract and apple cider together in a measuring cup. Pour the apple cider mixture over the apples.

Using a pastry cutter or fork, blend the 3 topping ingredients together until crumbly. Cover the apples with the topping and bake for 25-35 minutes until golden brown and bubbly. Cool and serve.


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Coconut Almond Granola

I have a hard time with snack foods. I don't want crackers, I want a steak or some leftover chicken noodle soup or pasta. Usually I reach for something a little more hearty than a handful of granola, but this is special granola. It has coconut and almonds, two of my favorite things. Add in some cinnamon (which you do!) and you've got yourself a yummy treat!

This recipe called for chia seeds, which I was all for using, but chia seeds are expensive! The brand is Bob's Red Mill and you can find them in the whole foods aisle. I didn't know if I would like the recipe, since I've never made granola before, so I didn't buy the seeds. A single batch of granola only calls for 2 tablespoons of chia seeds, which means a bag would last a long time. I might go buy the seeds for next time, since I'm sure I'll be making this recipe again and again. It's delicious, especially on Greek yogurt or even ice cream!

Coconut Almond Granola
*Adapted from The Vintage Mixer

3 1/2 cups coconut flakes, sweetened or unsweetened, depending on your taste
2/3 cup oats
1/2 cup almonds, chopped
2 tablespoons chia seeds (I left these out this time)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup coconut oil (mine was in solid form, so I heated it in the microwave until it liquified)
Dash of salt

Preheat oven to 350º. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and spread the mixture evenly onto a baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes and then turn everything with a spatula. Spread it back out and cook for an additional 10 minutes or until just golden.

Cool, then store in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-5 days. This is good over ice cream, Greek yogurt, apple sauce, with milk, or just straight out of the jar!


Friday, January 13, 2012

Sourdough, Apple, and Shallot Stuffing-The BEST Stuffing Ever!

Hubby and I are very particular about our stuffing. We like lots of flavor and a bit of crispiness in our bread. For us, stuffing should be a wonderful side dish that can stand up to the rest of a holiday meal and be memorable in and of itself. This stuffing took me a while to perfect, but once I did, it became our favorite part of Thanksgiving. I make this dish all the time so that we get to enjoy it more than once a year because it's too good to eat just once. You can't go wrong with apples, shallots, herbs, and the delicious taste of sourdough bread!

Sorry for the picture; I never got a final one. But it's good and beautiful, I promise!

Sourdough, Apple, and Shallot Stuffing

2 large loaves sourdough bread (we use 2 large boules)
1 stick butter
1 or 2 shallots, diced
2 or 3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and diced
4 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon thyme
2-3 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Salt, to taste

Chop the bread into 1-inch cubes and set on cookie sheets to dry overnight or toast in a 350º oven for 3-45 minutes or until slightly crispy, but not browned.

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. When it's melted, add the shallot and apple and cook until the shallot is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add 4 1/2 cups chicken broth and bring to a boil. Add in the herbs and stir to combine.

Place dried breadcrumbs in a large bowl and gently mix. Add in the broth mixture a ladleful at a time and gently toss to coat. Taste as you to adjust seasonings. Add in salt to taste. If the breadcrumbs are still a little dry once you've added all the broth mixture, add more broth and toss again.

Pour stuffing into a large baking dish and bake in a 350º oven for 20-30 minutes or until golden brown on top. Enjoy!

Pumpkin and Apple Soup

 Fall is my favorite season and I have a hard time giving up the flavors that go along with it. This soup is the perfect way to capture fall in a bowl and I loved the way it made the house smell. The best thing about this soup was that it tasted even better the next day. The hubby loved it too! It was also filling and easy to make, which makes this a great soup. This one is in our permanent file, especially considering the fact that I have most of these ingredients on hand all the time too!

Pumpkin and Apple Soup
*Adapted from Brown Eyed Baker

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 shallot, diced
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and diced
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
6 cups chicken stock
2/3 cup no sugar added applesauce
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground sage
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 15-ounce cans pumpkin
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup cream
Fresh ground black pepper for serving

Heat a Dutch oven or large soup pot over medium heat. Add the olive oil and heat until it shimmers. Add the diced shallot, apples, and salt. Sauté until shallot is translucent, about 7 minutes. Add the chicken stock, applesauce, white pepper, sage, thyme, and nutmeg. Bring to a boil and until apples are very tender, about 5 more minutes.

Add the pumpkin and brown sugar and cook for 10-15 minutes over medium heat. Use an immersion blender to blend soup until it's smooth or use a blender to blend the soup in batches. Add the cream to the soup and heat through over very low heat. Add more cream or water if necessary to thin it out. Remove from heat and serve with fresh ground pepper as desired.


Slow Cooker Cinnamon Applesauce

I love a recipe that makes the entire house smell like warmth and yumminess. I can achieve that with a great roast or baked dessert, but the best smell comes from any dish that includes cinnamon. This recipe for applesauce really sent the aroma of cinnamon wafting through our house. I was so excited to try this applesauce and it didn't disappoint!

This might be one of those recipes that I shouldn't mess with because it really was yummy as is, but I have a few changes I'm going to try next time. The first is switching out the white sugar for brown sugar. I'm also going to add nutmeg, cloves, and maybe a little bit of vanilla extract. I love that I have a great basic recipe though. I only wish it had made more! Once you mash it, the amount reduces by about half. Something to keep in mind for next time.
Emma helped Momma make applesauce! (Please ignore the clutter and mess in my kitchen. Having a baby and holiday time combine to make it impossible to keep my house clean!)

Slow Cooker Cinnamon Applesauce
*Slightly adapted from What Megan's Making

3 pounds of apples (6-9), peeled, cored, and cut into 1 1/2 inch chunks
1 cup apple cider or apple juice, plus more as needed
2 tablespoons sugar, plus more as needed
Pinch salt
2 cinnamon sticks (optional)
1/4-1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Combine apples, cider or juice, sugar, salt, and cinnamon sticks in a slow cooker. Cover and cook on low until apples are very soft and beginning to disintegrate, between 3-4 hours on low. Remove cinnamon sticks if using. Mash with a potato masher or immersion blender to desired consistency. Season with cinnamon and additional sugar to taste and adjust consistency with additional hot apple juice or cider as needed.

*Recommended apples: Jonagold, Pink Lady, Jonathon, Golden Delicious, Rome, Mcintosh, Empire

*Not Recommended: Granny Smith, Red Delicious, Braeburn, Cortland, Baldwin, Honeycrisp, Norther Spy

Cinnamon Roll Cake with Cinnabon Frosting

 I made cinnamon rolls for Christmas this year from the Pioneer Woman's recipe, which I love. I do them in my bread machine, which makes it insanely easy. The only work comes from rolling and filling them, but that is a lot of work and it is messy. Once Christmas was over and all the rolls had been eaten, which didn't take long (boo!), I still had a lot of frosting left over. What to do, what to do? I felt too guilty just eating it with a spoon (which I could have easily done), so I made this cake as a vehicle for the amazing frosting.

If you're looking for a quick fix to curb a cinnamon roll craving, this is the way to go. The cake is delicious and easy, but the frosting. Oh the frosting. This IS the Cinnabon frosting. It. Is. So. Good. Make it and eat it with a spoon. Go ahead, I won't tell anyone!

Cinnamon Roll Cake with Cinnabon Frosting
*From Life as a Lofthouse
*Frosting from CDKitchen

3 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 cups milk
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon cinnamon

1 cup (2 sticks) margarine, room temperature
1 package cream cheese, room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the cake:
Preheat oven to 350º. Spray a 9x13 glass baking pan with cooking spray and set aside. In an stand mixer, add the flour, salt, sugar, baking powder, milk, eggs, and vanilla. Once well combined, slowly stir in the melted butter. Pour into the prepared baking pan.

For the topping:
In a large bowl, mix the 2 sticks of butter, brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon together until well combined and creamy (I used an electric hand mixer). Drop evenly over the batter by tablespoonfuls and use a knife to marble/swirl it through the cake.

Bake at 350º for 25-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out nearly clean.

For the frosting:
Beat cream cheese and margarine together in a large bowl with a mixer. Slowly add in all powdered sugar. Once all of the sugar is in the bowl, mix for AT LEAST an additional 12 minutes until light and fluffy. With about a minute left on mix time, add in the lemon juice and vanilla.

Frost the cake when warm or cool or serve the frosting on the side to be used on warmed cake.