Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Peach Brie Chicken

Say cheese!  I received a big wheel of brie for Christmas from a co-worker.  Major score.  I love cheese and brie is a wonderful and versatile cheese to work with.  I decided to start off my cheese adventure using it topping some chicken breasts that had a peach baked on top of them.  I only made 2 but their was enough sauce for up to 4 chicken breasts, just add in additional brie for each one.
Peach Brie Chicken
2-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
¼ cup peach preserves
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
Salt and freshly ground pepper
6 oz Brie, rind removed, cut into slices

Season both sides of the chicken breasts and place in a greased baking dish.  In a small bowl, mix together the peach preserves and vinegar.  Spoon over the chicken breasts evenly.  Bake for 35 minutes at 350.  Remove from oven and top with the Brie.  Return to oven until the Brie has melted.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Peach Salsa Pork Chops

Last minute Christmas tasks and a lack of time to cook makes this a perfect weeknight dinner.    I had picked up mammoth pork chops (it was all they had, I normally prefer thinner ones) at the grocery store.    I happened to have a jar peach salsa in my pantry...time for an easy dinner.

Peach Salsa Pork Chops
2-4 center cut pork chops
1/3 cup peach salsa
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Season both sides of the pork chops and place in a greased baking pan.  Top with the salsa and bake at 350° for 30 minutes (40 minutes for thicker pork chops.  Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Brown Butter & Romano Fettuccine

After all the sweets and Christmas treats, it was time to start thinking more healthy.  I bought some whole wheat fettuccine with flax and chia in it to use for this recipe but regular fettuccine would be just as good.  I had some leftover unsalted butter from holiday baking so it was a good way to use that up.

Brown Butter & Romano Fettuccine

4 tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
1/3 cup Romano cheese, freshly grated
1 tsp parsley
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
6 oz whole wheat fettuccine or any pasta will work

In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.  Stir or whisk constantly until it turns a nice, golden brown.  Remove from heat.  In another small pan, toast the pine nuts until they are golden brown, no need to add any oils or butter.  Stir the pine nuts occasionally.  Cook your pasta per the package directions.  Drain and return to the pan.  Add in the brown butter, pine nuts, Romano cheese, parsley and seasonings.  Serve immediately.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Chocolate Drop Cookies

It's getting closer to Christmas and I'm trying to finish up my holiday baking and gift wrapping.  I decided to make a new cookie this year.  These are soft cookies with a creamy icing and you can make them all year long - change the sprinkles to match the holiday or just leave them off.  Any extra icing makes a great dip for pretzels.

Chocolate Drop Cookies

1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
2/3 cups sour cream
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup cocoa (I used a dark cocoa)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 3/4 cups flour

Cream together butter and sugar.  Add in the egg, sour cream and vanilla.  Gradually stir in the dry ingredients.  Scoop out into balls and bake for 8 minutes at 350°.  Let sit for a couple minutes on the baking sheet before tranferring to a cooling rack.  

Chocolate Icing

1/4 cup butter, softened
4 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp milk
1/4 cup cocoa
2 cups powdered sugar

Stir together the butter and cream cheese until completely blended.  Add in milk and vanilla.  Gradually add in the cocoa and powdered sugar.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Cranberry Turkey Sausage

Don’t you hate it when you have leftover bits and pieces of food items?  It generally happens with chocolate chips and nuts in my home but I managed to end up with a small amount of cranberries in my freezer.  I  happened to find some ground turkey and ground pork in there also so the idea came to me about making sausage.  It turned out really well and the cranberries added a nice flavor and color.  I cooked the cranberries ahead of time since I was making patties.  I didn’t think the cranberries would have enough cooking time to soften if I just chopped them in the food processor.

Cranberry Turkey Sausage
¾ cup cranberries, fresh or frozen
2 tbsp water
Cook the berries until they pop and then let them cool down completely
1# ground turkey
½#  ground pork
cooled cranberries
1 tsp salt
½ tsp freshly ground pepper
1 tsp fennel seed
1 tsp rubbed sage
¼ tsp garlic powder

Completely mix together all of the ingredients so the spices are distributed evenly.  I recommend frying a small piece in a pan to make sure your spice level is to your liking.  Cook all the pieces taking care not to overcrowd your pan.  Drain on paper towels before serving.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

I wanted to try a new cookie this holiday season and I had a couple bags of Andes peppermint chips on hand.  What goes better with peppermint than chocolate?  This recipe is going to be a regular every holiday season.

Chocolate Peppermint Cookies
1 stick butter
12 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup flour
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 bag Andes peppermint chips
1 tsp flour

Melt the butter and chocolate chips together, either in the microwave or a large saucepan.  In a large mixing bowl, beat together the sugar and eggs until they are a pale yellow.  Add in the chocolate and butter mixture, along with the vanilla.  Stir in the dry ingredients.  In a small bowl, mix together the peppermint chips and 1 tsp flour.  This is so they don’t sink to the bottom and melt on your cookie sheet.  Gently fold the chips into the batter and then scoop out onto parchment lined baking sheets.    Bake for 12 minutes at 350°. Let cool on the pan for 10 minutes before moving to a cooling rack.  Makes 48 cookies.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Cinnamon & Apple Breakfast Risotto

There's nothing like starting off a lazy weekend morning with the aroma of apples and cinnamon in the air.  I saw a risotto commercial a few weeks ago and thought why couldn't a risotto be made for breakfast...hence my morning mission today.  I had a some apples in the crisper and a box of golden raisins on hand for holiday baking so I borrowed some of each.  Remember to heat the apple juice and milk before adding to the rice to keep the rice cooking.

Cinnamon & Apple Breakfast Risotto

1 tbsp butter
1 cup arborio rice
1 1/2 cups apple juice
2 cups milk
1 apple, peeled and thin sliced
1/4 cup golden raisins
2 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 pinch of salt
1 pinch of nutmeg

Melt the butter in the bottom of a large saucepan.  Add in rice, stir and cook for a couple minutes.  Stir in the sliced apple and 1 cup apple juice.  Cook until the juice is absorbed.  Add in the additional 1/2 cup of heated juice.  Next start adding in the milk in 1/2 cup measures, stirring and cooking until it's absorbed.  Add in the raisins, honey, salt and spices.  Keep cooking until the rice is tender.  It will take about a half hour.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Cracked Black Pepper & Parmesan Biscuits

Light and flaky biscuits are a great way to start the day, especially when they are topped with sausage & gravy.  I took out the pepper from the gravy that I normally add and redirected it into these easy to make biscuits.  The secret is let your food processor do all of the work.  These would also make a great side for any meal.

Cracked Black Pepper & Parmesan Biscuits

2 cups flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 large egg
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 sticks of cold butter

Combine all the dry ingredients and Parmesan cheese in the food processor and give it a couple pulses to mix them up.  Add in the butter, one tbsp. at a time and the egg.  Pour in milk and pulse until it combines and forms a ball.  Turn out onto a lightly floured surface.  Pat out dough until it's 1" thick and cut into rounds.  Place on an ungreased baking sheet and bake for 12 minutes at 450°.  Pull the biscuits from the oven and brush with buttermilk and sprinkle with some freshly ground pepper.  Return to the oven for another minute.

Makes 24 biscuits