Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Sweet & Spicy Sweet Potatoes

Isn't it amazing how your energy level can drop in just 4 hours?  I was planning dinner during lunch and it included making these sweet potatoes and I was going to finally make Kentucky Hot Browns.  I thought it would be easy to whip up a Mornay sauce after work when my sweet potatoes were in the oven.  I ended up with turkey on toast.  But the sweet potatoes are a success.  You bite into them and get the hint of brown sugar and then the cayenne jumps on your taste buds.

Sweet & Spicy Sweet Potatoes

1 large sweet potato, pared and cut into wedges
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp dark brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cayenne 
1/4 tsp black pepper

Place sweet potato wedges in a medium sized bowl.  Pour olive oil over and toss.  Mix together spices and brown sugar in a small bowl and sprinkle over potatoes.  Place on a lightly greased pan (an Anolon crisper works great) and bake at 350° for 1 hour.  Turn wedges every 15 minutes for even cooking.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Mashed Potato Soufflé

Here's another dish that is using up potatoes and cream before their expiration date.  I only wish that potatoes and poultry would photograph better.  

Mashed Potato Soufflé

6 potatoes, peeled and diced
3 oz Neutchatel cheese
1 large egg
1 cup cream
2 dashes hot sauce
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Boil potatoes until fork tender. Drain and whip together with cheese, egg, cream and hot sauce. Do not add any more hot sauce that the 2 dashes or else you'll have orange potatoes. Add in salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Place in a greased casserole dish and bake for 45 minutes at 350°

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Parmesan Corn

I'm determined not to waste any food that I buy.  I've been guilty of it in the past but I'm working hard at planning and creating meals with what I find in my refrigerator, freezer and pantry.  This is the result of making sure to use up a few items that I found searching.  It uses corn that I froze last summer, leftover Canadian bacon and some milk that is due to expire in 4 days.

Parmesan Corn

2 cups corn
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
1 cup milk
1/2 cup Canadian bacon, diced small
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Melt butter in a small saucepan.  Stir in flour until a paste forms.  Gradually stir in cream and allow to thicken over a medium heat, stirring frequently.  In a small greased pan, combine corn, Canadian bacon and Parmesan cheese.  Pour thickened cream mixture over corn and stir.  Bake for 40 minutes at 350°.  

  Here's the saying that I want to make a print of or cross-stitch for my kitchen.  I first saw this on the back cover of my Salt to Taste cookbook by Marco Canora.  It's from a U.S. Food Administration Poster ~ 1914-1918 and it's still relevant today.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Tortilla Pizza

Spring fever has arrived.  It only took a dozen seed catalogs and a day of sunshine to have me cleaning, tossing, recycling and finally winding down to finish reading How I Learned To Cook by Kimberly Witherspoon and Peter Meehan.  I enjoyed it.  If you haven't picked it up, this book and Don't Try This At Home also by Kimberly Witherspoon are fun to read.  A quick glance at the clock sent me into the kitchen looking for something for dinner.  I chose this over peanut butter toast.  It was a good choice.

Tortilla Pizza

Flour tortillas
Pizza Sauce
Mozzarella Cheese
Pizza Toppings of your choice

Pizza Sauce ~

15 oz tomato sauce
4.5 oz tomato paste
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup onions, minced
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp oregano
1 tsp basil
1 tsp honey

Heat a medium sized saucepan with the olive oil.  Add in minced onions and garlic and cook for 2 minutes before adding in remaining ingredients.  Remember to crush the oregano and basil in your hands before adding to the sauce so they release their oils.  Cook for 10 minutes over a medium low heat until the sauce thickens.

Place flour tortilla(s) on an ungreased baking sheet.  Top with about 2 tbsp pizza sauce and then your favorite toppings.  Bake at 400° for 15 minutes until tortilla is crisp.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Peaches n' Cream Jelly Roll

I'm not sure what made me start making jelly rolls as a teenager nor why I stopped making them.  Recently someone asked me to identify what a jelly roll pan looked like because they needed to bake something for a function.  I asked if they had ever had a jelly roll and was amazed that they had not.   I didn't dare ask if they had ever experienced a baked Alaska.  It's all good since now I get to cross another item off my recipe bucket list for the year and this is an upgraded version using icing from the plain ones I used to bake.  

Peaches n' Cream Jelly Roll

4 eggs at room temperature, separated
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour, sifted
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup peach preserves (do yourself a favor and use a good kind)


3 tbsp butter, softened
4 ounces mascarpone 
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup powdered sugar

Start off by greasing your jelly roll pan.  Place a layer of wax or parchment paper down (cut to size) at the bottom of the pan and grease that also.  

In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks with 1/2 tsp vanilla until thick (at least 3 minutes) and then beat in 1/2 cup of sugar.  In a larger bowl, whip the egg whites until they form a soft peak.  Gradually beat in the other 1/2 cup of sugar.  Put away the mixer until it's time to make the icing.

Gently fold in the egg yolk mixture into the egg whites.  Gradually add in sifted flour and baking powder.  You don't want to over 5but make sure the flour isn't hiding into any little air pockets.  Spread out over jelly roll pan.  Bake for 10-12 minutes (it's done when you can touch the middle and it doesn't indent) at 375°.  Gently cut along edges to make sure it doesn't stick to the pan.

Cover the pan with a clean kitchen towel.  Hold towel tight across and turn over.  Carefully remove the wax/parchment paper.  Roll up the cake in the towel and allow to cool completely on a rack.

Time to make the icing.  In a medium bowl, mix together butter and mascarpone.  Gradually add in powdered sugar (covering the bowl slightly with your spare hand will save you clean up later because the powdered sugar likes to fly.  Mix in 1/2 tsp of vanilla last.

When cool, carefully unroll the cake.  Cut off any dried edges.  Spread the cake with the peach preserves and then a layer (approximately 1/2) of the icing.  Reroll the cake and place the icing on the outside.  Cut into slices approximately 1/2 to 3/4" thick.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Taco Mac & Cheese

Where is Spring?  I miss seeing green grass and hearing lawn mowers instead of shovels scraping cement and snowblowers.  This is part two of what I did with taco meat.  Will there be a part three?  Only time will tell.

Taco Mac & Cheese

4 tbsp butter
4 tbsp flour
2 cups milk
2 cups medium macaroni shells
1 1/2 cups mild cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 cup taco cheese
1 cup taco meat
1 tbsp butter, melted
1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
1/4 tsp paprika
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Melt 4 tbsp butter and stir in flour.  Gradually add in milk, stirring constantly.  When thickened, remove from heat and add in cheeses.

In a casserole, put cooked macaroni, taco meat and cheese sauce.

In a small pan, melt 1 tbsp butter.  Add in Panko bread crumbs and spices.  Top macaroni mixture.

Servings: 8

Bake at 350°F for 20 minutes

Monday, February 18, 2013

Taco Grilled Cheese Sandwich

One pound of lean ground beef and my taco seasoning mix...this is a start of what I making using them together.  And since we're easing into the week...we'll start off with the easiest but tasty sandwich.

Taco Grilled Cheese

2 slices of your favorite bread, I chose a Buttermilk White Bread
softened butter
1/4 cup taco meat
Colby cheese, sliced

Assemble just like a regular grilled cheese sandwich.  Butter the outside slices of bread and place one piece face down in a frying pan.  Place a layer of cheese slices over the bread.  Top with the taco meat and place another layer of cheese.  Top with your second piece of bread, buttered side up.   Grill until a nice golden brown, carefully flip and grill the second side. 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Strawberry Waffles

Sunday mornings call for an extra special breakfast.  During the week my breakfast consists of cheese and ham so I can splurge and create a fun breakfast on the weekend.  Today I doubled up on the strawberries - inside and on top of my waffle.

Strawberry Waffles

1 egg yolk
2 egg whites
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1/3 cup milk
1 tbsp honey
3 tbsp butter, melted
1/2 cup strawberry sauce

Here's the strawberry sauce recipe that I had made last month and froze ~

Strawberry Sauce

1 pound strawberries, quartered
1 tsp lemon juice
dash lemon zest
1/4 cup sugar, to start - add more depending on sweetness of berries

Sift all dry ingredients into a medium sized bowl. In a small bowl, beat egg whites until light and fluffy. Gradually mix milk, egg yolks, melted butter  and strawberry sauce into dry ingredients.  Gently fold in beaten egg whites.  Bake in waffle maker per manufacturers instructions.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Cheese Sauce

There's nothing better than having a versatile cheese sauce for dipping.  I made bread sticks to use with the sauce this time but you can use it for pretzels, apples, french fries, nacho topping...you get the idea.  Plus it has just the right amount of heat to awaken your taste buds.

Cheese Sauce

2/3 cup powdered milk
3/4 cup water
1 tbsp corn starch
8 ounces shredded Colby cheese
1 1/2 tbsp hot sauce (I used Frank's)

Whisk all ingredients together in a medium sized saucepan.  Heat over a low heat, stirring frequently, until it thickens.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Bacon & Cheese Chicken Breasts

I updated my cheddar chicken breast recipe to include homemade bacon bits (nothing from a jar).  I used a different mixture of cheese too for this tasty combination.

Bacon Cheese Chicken Breasts

2 chicken breasts, skinless and boneless
1 cup shredded Colby/Monterey Jack cheese
3/4 cup Panko bread crumbs
1 large egg

1/4 cup milk
1 tsp smoked paprika 
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Dice and cook the bacon bits.  Drain on a paper towel.  Set up an assembly line with bowls.  Mix together the egg and milk
 in the first bowl, the grated cheese and bacon in the second and the Panko bread crumbs and spices in the third.  At the end of your assembly line, have a foil lined baking sheet (this is your one dish that will not have to be run through the dishwasher since it will stay clean).  Dip your chicken breast in the egg mixture, then the cheese and bacon (you may have to pat it on firmly so it stays), roll in the Panko mixture and place on your baking sheet.  Any leftover cheddar and Panko crumbs can be sprinkled on top of the breasts after you've coated all that you are making.

Bake at 350° for 40 minutes.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Chicken & Pancetta Wild Rice Soup

This is another Orko blizzard creation.  When did they start naming blizzards?  I really wish it would stop.  I understand hurricanes because they do more widespread damage.  Blizzards are meant to make you stay inside, cook good food and watch terrible movies.  Thank goodness of Netflix Instant Queue.  Luckily we had plenty of warnings for days before "Orko" struck so I stocked up with lots of good foods.

Chicken & Pancetta Wild Rice Soup

3 cups chicken broth
1 cup cream

1 cup milk
2 chicken breasts, cooked and cut into small pieces

3 oz Pancetta, lightly fried and crumbled
2 cups wild and long grain rice, cooked according to package directions
1 cup carrots peeled and diced
1 tbp celery flakes
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
4 dashes hot sauce

Cook rice per package directions.  Braise chicken breasts and cut into small pieces when cool enough to touch.  Heat broth and milk and gradually add in remaining ingredients.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Valentine's Chocolate Cookies

As Valentine's day nears, the demand for chocolate rises.  Here's the cookies I baked using Dove milk and dark chocolate hearts.

Valentine's Chocolate Cookies

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla 
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup flour
1/4 cup dark cocoa
24 Dove chocolate hearts, unwrapped.

Cream together butter and sugars.  Add in egg and vanilla.  Gradually stir in salt, baking soda and flour.  Fold in dark cocoa.  Make sure it is completely mixed in or your cookies will have stripes. Bake on parchment lined baking pans at 350° for 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and press a chocolate heart in the center of each cookie.  Let cool completely.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Strawberry Sweet Rolls

Who can resist big, ripe strawberries when they are on sale...not me.  And I happened to have leftover cream cheese from my wontons that I could whip up a quick icing too.

Strawberry Sweet Rolls

1 loaf of sweet dough, thawed and allowed to rise in a greased, covered loaf pan
8 strawberries, sliced
2 tbsp butter, softened
1/4 cup dark brown sugar


4 oz cream cheese, softened
3 tbsp butter, softened
2 tbsp strawberry juice
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Roll out dough on a floured surface into a 10 x 16" rectangle.  Spread softened butter on top of dough, sprinkle with brown sugar and lay
 down slices of strawberries.

Carefully roll up dough.  Cut in half, then cut in thirds and then cut each third in half for 12 equal slices.  Place in a greased 9 x 13 pan and allow to rise.  Bake at 325° for 15 - 20 minutes.  Make sure the bottom is completely cooked since some juice will have dripped down.  Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly before icing.

For icing - mix together cream cheese, butter and strawberry juice until smooth.  Stir in powdered sugar.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Cream Cheese Wontons with Sweet & Sour Sauce

Happy Chinese New Year and the year of the snake!  The blizzard has begun after a slow start with 2" on the ground, heavy snow still falling and the wind beginning to pick up.  Oh joy.  It's a good day to be in the woman cave crossing things off my recipe bucket list and cream cheese wontons were high on that list.  I can't believe how easy they are to make and since these are baked, healthier than the ones that I love to order.  

Cream Cheese Wontons with Sweet & Sour Sauce

15 wonton wrappers
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 tsp garlic powder

Mix together cream cheese and garlic powder.  Using a .5 tablespoon cookie dough scoop, fill half full and place in the center of the wonton wrapper.  Dip your finger in water (once for each of the 4 sides) and wet the edge of the wrapper.  Gently fold over into a triangle shape and press down on the edges.  Place on a greased baking sheet.  When all 15 are made, spray with cooking oil and bake for 10 minutes at 400°.  

Sweet & Sour Sauce

6 oz pineapple juice
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup ketchup
1/8 cup white vinegar
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp ginger
1 1/2 tbsp cornstarch

Whisk together in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until it thickens.

Serve both sauce and wontons warm.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Ham & Garlic Pasta

I took a few blog vacation days and relaxed with a couple of my comfort foods ~ chili and tater tot hotdish.  With blizzard warnings up, I decided it was time for a new comfort food dinner.

Ham & Garlic Pasta

1/2# orecchiette pasta, cooked per package instructions
3/4 cup ham, diced
1/2 cup peas
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
1/2 cup cream
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

In a small saucepan, melt butter.  When completely melted, stir in flour and garlic.  Allow to thicken slightly and gradually stir in cream and milk and bring to a simmer.  In a large saucepan, cook the orecchiette.  When done, drain and stir in ham and peas.  Pour in garlic cream sauce.  Fold in Parmesan cheese, red pepper flakes, salt and freshly ground pepper.  

Monday, February 4, 2013

Orange Cupcakes

One of my secret Santa gifts this year was a Babycakes cupcake maker.  I finally got around to using it for the first time yesterday and it does work great.  I, however, didn't have patience to cook the entire batch of cupcakes in there so I split it 50/50.  It does include recipes for half batches and I'll be trying that in the future, plus baby cheesecakes or brownies which sound like great fun.  I do like having a filled refrigerator with good things like oranges to turn into good for the soul things like cupcakes.

Orange Cupcakes

1 stick butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1 tsp orange zest
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup orange juice


2 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp orange zest
2 tbsp melted butter
orange juice to thin to icing consistency

Cream together softened butter and sugar.  Add in eggs and orange juice.  Gradually add in dry ingredients.  Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full.  For full size, bake at 350° for 15 - 20 minutes.  Allow to cool completely before icing.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Bread Bowl Cheese Dip

Don't worry - you have plenty of time to make this before the big game.  The tang of the Greek yogurt and the hint of garlic blend together perfectly for this cheese dip.  The bacon is a bonus and optional.

Bread Bowl Cheese Dip

1 Sour Dough bread bowl
8 oz cream cheese, softened
2 cups Colby/Monterey Jack shredded cheese
3 oz Greek yogurt
1/2 cup sour cream
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 lb bacon, cooked and drained

Cut off top of sour dough bowl and scoop out insides.  You can cut the inside bread into cubes and lightly toast to use to dip into the cheese.  Cut bacon into 1/2" pieces (I cut off the fat) and cook.  Drain on paper towels and allow to cool.  In a medium sized bowl, combine cheeses, yogurt, sour cream and garlic.  Mix in bacon, when cooled, and scoop into the bread bowl.  Place bread bowl into an aluminum foil wrapper (use 2 pieces and place in a large plus sign).  Bake for 1 hour at 350°.  

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Chili Cheese Popcorn

The weather has warmed up to +2F° and it's starting to snow.  Mother Nature has a twisted sense of humor but at least the Groundhog was more cooperative.  Sounded like a good time to head into the kitchen for a snack before watching a movie.

Chili Cheese Popcorn

1/2 cup popcorn (not popped)
3 tbsp butter
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder

Pop popcorn using your favorite method.  I have an air popper that I use often.  Melt butter in a small microwave safe bowl.  Stir in chili and garlic powders and pour over popped corn.  Grate Parmesan cheese and mix into popcorn with butter and spices.