Friday, February 27, 2015

Hazelnut Icebox Cake

It turned out so I will share the recipe.  I'm referring to what I made with the Hazelnut Cookie recipe that I posted yesterday.  This cake is decadent so I will advise serving small slices but it's oh so good.  The cookies soften as they are nestled in the whipping cream mixture overnight.  Look at the bottom to see how I lined the cookies in the pan and cut a few into 6 pieces to fill in the open spots.  

Hazelnut Icebox Cake

Hazelnut cookies to fill 3 layers
8 oz mascarpone cheese, room temperature
1 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup Nutella
2 tbsp Frangelico
2/3 cup powdered sugar

Toasted hazelnuts to decorate the top.

In a medium bowl, combine the mascarpone, whipping cream and Nutella.  Whip until it thickens.  Stir in Frangelico and powdered sugar. Line cookies in a layer at the bottom of a  9" springform pan.  Place 1/3 of the cream mixture evenly on top.  Repeat for 2 more layers.  Sprinkle hazelnuts on top and cover with plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for 24 hours before serving.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Hazelnut Cookies

Everyone needs an easy chocolate cookie recipe and this is super easy to make.  I made these for another recipe, which I'll post tomorrow but a couple might have been eaten before it was done.

Hazelnut Cookies

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup Nutella
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1 /3 cups flour

Cream together butter, Nutella, egg, vanilla and both sugars.  Add in the dry ingredients.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour before baking.  Place 12 balls on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Gently press down the tops.  Bake for 10 minutes at 350°Leave on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing. 

Makes 3 dozen cookies.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Parmesan Polenta

I always enjoy an easy side that only requires an occasional stir as I'm working on the rest of the meal.  I had never made polenta before so I was very happy with the great flavor and ease or preparation.  I wanted to add in one of my favorite cheeses so I grated some Parmesan to stir in and a little extra to sprinkle on top with a bit of freshly ground pepper and parsley.

Parmesan Polenta

2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup polenta
1 tbsp butter
1/2 tbsp sea salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
2 tbsp mascarpone cheese

Bring the chicken broth to a boil.  Whisk in the polenta and turn down the heat to medium low.  Add in sea salt and pepper and stir (with a wooden spoon now).  Continue to stir frequently as it cooks and thickens.  This will take about a half hour.  When it has thickened, remove from heat and stir in the butter, mascarpone and Parmesan cheeses.  

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Crock Pot Beef Tips & Gravy

It's cold.  Darn cold.  The high today is -7.  It wouldn't be bad if that was Celsius but unfortunately it's Fahrenheit.  For me, it meant putting in some kitchen and crafting time since it's too cold to venture out.  That's not all bad either.  One of the first things I made was cookies (recipe coming later this week) and then I put these beef tips in the crock pot to slowly tenderize and cook all day.  Great for serving over egg noodles or mashed potatoes.

Crock Pot Beef Tips & Gravy

1# sirloin steak (mine was 1.3#)
extra virgin olive oil

Dredge ~
1/2 cup flour
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a pan.  Cube the steak while you are waiting for the oil and pan to heat.  Combine all the ingredients and roll the steak cubes in the mixture before placing into the hot pan.  Lightly brown on all sides before placing in the crock pot.  Add more olive oil as needed.  In the last batch, add in 1 small onion that is minced.  Place the remaining beef and onions in the crock pot and deglaze the pan with 1/4 cup burgundy.  Add in 2 1/2 cups beef broth and place the crock pot on medium heat.  Cook for at least 4 hours.  A half hour before serving, mix together 2 tbsp. corn starch and 1/4 cup cold water and stir into the crock pot gravy to thicken.  Turn up the heat a notch and allow it to thicken.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Buckwheat Pancakes

I've watched the temperature drop 12 degrees since I've been awake.  It's now at an even 0 outside.  I decided to make one of my comfort breakfasts that makes me think about my dad.  As a child, we would take trips to my grandparents farm in Sebeka, Minnesota.  It's a small town and might be hard to find on the map.  We'd get up early and start the trip which went through Wadena.  Wadena had a cafe where I was introduced to buckwheat pancakes.  Dad and I would order them every time we stopped there.  I recently came across some buckwheat flour so I made my own pancake mix this morning.

Buckwheat Pancakes

1 1/2 cups buckwheat flour
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 dash cinnamon
1 tbsp melted butter
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups milk

Whisk together all the dry ingredients in a medium sized bowl to combine.  Stir in melted butter, egg and milk.  Let mixture sit for 10 minutes before making pancakes.  Heat an oiled griddle and pour 1/4 cup of batter for each pancake.  Lightly brown both sides.  I recommend serving with warmed maple syrup.

Makes 8 pancakes.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Oatmeal Toffee Cookies

Today is Random Acts of Kindness day.  My contribution for the day is taking in cookies to work (and a dozen went to my wonderful neighbors last night).  Maybe I'll be nice to a fellow driver that doesn't know what lane they're supposed to be in also....well, I won't make any promises.  :-)

Oatmeal Toffee Cookies

1 cup butter, softened
1 3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp milk
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 cups quick cooking oatmeal
2 cups toffee bits

Cream butter and sugars together.  Gradually beat in eggs, vanilla and milk.  Combine all the dry ingredients and slowly add into butter mixture.  Stir in the toffee bits last.  Bake at 325°F for 12 minutes.
Makes 6 dozen cookies.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Peach Jam Muffins

Another blustery day in the valley with new fallen snow and wind gusts blowing snow down the unplowed street.  I had a couple open jars of peach jam in the refrigerator (oops) so I wanted to come up with a way to use them.  The 1 tablespoon of baking powder is not a typo.  I used that much because the jam itself is heavy so I wanted to make sure the muffins rose. 

Peach Jam Muffins

Mix together in a medium sized bowl ~

1/2 cup sugar
2 tbsp. canola oil
1 cup milk

Whisk in ~

1/2 cup peach jam
1/2 tsp vanilla

Gradually mix in ~

2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Scoop into paper liners and fill 2/3 full.  Bake at 350° for 18 minutes.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Crock Pot Turkey Breast

I love turkey, especially when I'm not being overloaded with it during the holidays.  I've been using my crock pot often to make them since it's easy and keeps the meat from drying out.  I tucked some spices and butter under the skin to make it even more moist.  It was falling apart as I took it out of the crock pot.

Crock Pot Turkey Breast

1 turkey breast, approximately 2.5#
3 tbsp butter, softened
1/2 tsp poultry seasoning
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Mix together and gently lift the skin on top of the turkey.  Rub butter mixture underneath the skin and return to it's original position.  Rub 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil on top of the skin and sprinkle salt and freshly ground pepper on top.  Place 1 cup of chicken ot turkey stock in the bottom of the crock pot and place the turkey breast in there.  Cover and cook over medium heat for 5 hours. 

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Valentine's Krispie Heart Treats

Ever have a craving for Rice Krispie bars?  The ones that are packaged in the little foil pouches just doesn't cut it for me.  Since it's Valentine's day next weekend, I decided to make mine special and give them away.  Well, some of them.  The fun part about cutting these out is that you can do quality taste tests on the leftover part.  Or you can smoosh them together to make more hearts.  But I recommend at least a nibble for a quality control sampling.  

Valentine's Krispie Heart Treats

3 tbsp butter
10 oz miniature marshmallows

Melt together for 1-2 minutes in a large bowl in the microwave.  Stir until smooth.  Add in 6 cups of crisped rice cereal.  Stir until completely combined.  Spread out on a greased jelly roll pan, 15.5 x 10.5".  A piece of waxed paper helps to spread it out without sticking to your hand.  Allow to set for 45 minutes to one hour.  Cut into heart shapes, whichever size you prefer.  Mine allowed me to make 24 treats.  

In a large microwave safe measuring cup, melt 11 oz of white chocolate chips - I used Ghirardelli Classic White chips.  I might take around 2 minutes.  Stir in 1/2 tsp canola oil to keep it shiny and stir and dip easier.  I added in 4 drops of red food coloring for a nice pink color.  Place on a rack and sprinkle with red sugar.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Chicken Cordon Bleu Hotdish

We were pampered with a few streaks of warm weather.  Now that the outside temperatures are back to the normal range, it's time for comfort food.  And what is more comforting than chicken, cheese and pasta?  This recipe will cause you to dirty a few pans but it is worth it.  Thank you whoever invented the dishwasher.

Chicken Cordon Bleu Hotdish

2 chicken breasts, cooked and fork shredded
2 slices thick-cut ham, cut into 1" squares
3 tbsp butter
3 tbsp flour

3/4 cup milk

1 cup Half & Half
6 oz swiss cheese
2 cups egg noodles, or your favorite pasta

1 tbsp butter, melted
1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Melt the 3 tbsp of butter and stir in flour.  Cook for a minute.  Gradually add in milk and Half & Half, stirring constantly.  When thickened, remove from heat and add in Swiss cheese.  Stir until melted.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

In a casserole, put cooked egg noodles, chicken, ham and cheese sauce mixed together.

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

Bake at 350° for 30 minutes.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Dr Pepper Chili

This was my Super Bowl chili.  First time trying using a "pop" in my chili but the flavors in Dr Pepper added a nice undertone to it.  Plus, it's one of those easy recipes that you just throw all the ingredients into the crock pot and set the temperature to eat at whatever time you decide to.  

Dr Pepper Chili

1 - 15 oz can Light Red Kidney Beans, rinsed and drained
1 - 19 oz can Cannellini White Kidney Beans, rinsed and drained
1 - 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes

1 cup Dr Pepper, more if you want your chili juicier
1 pound extra lean ground beef, cooked

1/2 red pepper, diced
1/2 small onion, minced 
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup ketchup
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
chili powder to taste, I used around 2 tbsp
1 tsp oregano

In your dutch oven or a large skillet, brown ground beef with onions, red peppers and garlic. Add all the remaining ingredients to the dutch oven or  crock pot.  Cover and cook on low for 30 minutes or longer in the crock pot.