Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Mixed Berry Cobbler: Tuesday's with Dorie

Today's recipe from Baking: From My Home to Your's, was a simple fruit cobbler--nothing fancy, just nice berries topped with a homey biscuit crust. Very comforting and easy. The lemon zest gave the berry filling a nice freshness and the plain topping was perfect to sop up all of the juices and let the fruit be the star. Not too sweet, this will be good for my breakfast tomorrow!

I did change this recipe just a bit. I cut it down by 1/3 and added 2 cups of mixed berries and peaches (more than the recipe called for but I definitely wouldn't want less). I also added a dash of cinnamon to the fruit and used buttermilk instead of the heavy cream in the topping. Instead of rolling out the dough, after mixing it with my hands, I globbed it on top of the fruit and spread it out to cover, giving it a more rustic feel. I was also scant with the sugar in the filling. Nice recipe! It would be just perfect with Blue Bell's new summer flavor, Blackberry Cobbler ice cream--yum!


Monday, June 23, 2008

Blueberry Boy Bait

Fresh blueberry time!! We have a local farm where we pick gorgeous, pesticide-free blueberries for only $1.50/lb--amazing! I picked close to 10 pounds and so now have a wonderful stock of berries begging to be used. I did freeze a lot so I'll be able to enjoy them throughout the year as well.

I made a coffeecake today which is really nice from America's Test Kitchen. It is very tender and buttery, studded with sweet blueberries. It is topped with cinnamon and sugar which I really like--not as rich as a crumb topping, but just enough to give it sweetness and crunch on the top. Yum! Continue for blueberry recipe.Blueberry Boy Bait

The Best of America's Test Kitchen 2008

16 T unsalted butter, softened
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 T baking powder
1 t salt
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 cups whole milk
3/4 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen,
tossed with 1 t flour

3/4 cup blueberries
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 t ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease and flour a 9x13 pan.
Whisk flour, powder, and salt in medium bowl.
With a mixer, beat butter and sugars on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 3 min., scraping the sides when needed.
Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until just incorporated.
Reduce speed to medium and beat in 1/3 of the flour mixture until incorporated; beat in 1/2 of the milk.
Beat in 1/2 of the remaining flour mixture, then the remaining milk, finally the rest of the flour.
Gently fold blueberries into the batter.
Pour the batter into the pan and smooth with a spatula.
For the topping, scatter the berries over the top of the batter.
Mix the sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl and sprinkle over the batter.
Bake about 45 min.
cool the cake in the pan for 20 minutes.
Cut into squares and serve warm or at room temperature.


Sunday, June 22, 2008

Tamale Pie

Comfort food--ummm. Today I wanted something filling and easy that would make enough for leftovers and decided on this Tamale Pie. It's been awhile since we've had this and it was nice to revisit an old favorite.

This "pie" is made with ground beef, tomatoes, green pepper, spices, salsa, and whatever else you want to throw in. Today I felt like corn but sometimes I add beans too. This mixture is topped with a thick layer of cornbread that is great to sop up the juices of the filling. I like to break up my cornbread and mix it all together on my plate. The sweetness of the cornbread is really nice with the spiciness of the filling. Of course, you can use a cornbread box mix to top this as well, but I find it just as easy to make up my own and it's tastier. You can also add spices or chiles to the cornbread, (really good with cilantro), but it's great without any additions. Serve with a salad, and you have a complete meal! Continue for Tamale Pie recipe.

Tamale Pie

1/2 onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced
1 lb. ground beef
1 t coriander
1/2 t cumin
1/2 t chili powder
1/2-1 cup salsa
1 14oz can diced tomatoes
1 14oz can corn
1 T Mexican hot sauce or several dashes of Tabasco
salt to taste

1 cup flour
3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
2 generous T sugar
2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
2/3 c milk
1 1/2 T butter, melted
1 egg
cilantro (optional)

Heat large skillet to medium high. Add onions, green peppers, and beef. Cook, breaking up the beef with spoon, until meat is fully cooked and vegetables are soft.
Stir in spices.
Add salsa, tomatoes, corn, and hot sauce.
Taste and salt, adjusting hot sauce if needed.
Preheat oven to 350.
Pour beef mixture into a 3 quart baking dish.

For cornbread topping:
Mix flour through salt in medium bowl.
In measuring cup, mix milk, egg, and butter.
Add milk mixture to flour and stir until just barely combined.
Add cilantro, if using.
Drop spoonfuls of batter onto beef mixture.

Bake for about 35 min, or until cornbread is done.


Monday, June 16, 2008

Tuesday's with Dorie Rewind: Bill's Big Carrot Cake

It's Tuesday again and that means another recipe from Baking: From My Home to Yours! This week, the selection was a delicious looking peppermint puff ring. As you can tell by my photo, I was side-tracked by a previous recipe. And I noticed that it is acceptable to make past recipe trials, so I decided I just had to make a carrot cake for Father's Day. I'll have to get back to the yummy looking puff another time soon!

This is a big, beautiful looking carrot cake, filled with nuts, coconut, and raisins. The three layers are very moist and bake nicely and it certainly makes for an impressive presentation. It was good, but definitely not my favorite carrot cake. I guess I was wanting something spicier. As this cake only contains cinnamon, it didn't quite taste like a spice cake. And I'm not a fan of all of the coconut. If I were it make it again, I would add spices, omit the coconut, and increase the amount of raisins. That being said, it was still a very good cake.

But I absolutely LOVE the icing!! In fact, the icing took over the cake--yum! I could eat a bowl of this stuff! It's just a simple mixture of cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, and lemon extract--but it is terrific! I will definitely be featuring this lemon icing on many sweets to come! It would be wonderful on cinnamon rolls, or chocolate cake, or.....Yum!
Type rest of the post here



Well, calzones sounded really great today. I had leftover ricotta that needed to be used and so I whipped these up for lunch. But I decided to make a semolina dough that ended up being way too bready for the amount of filling that I used. Oh well, they smelled wonderful!! I definitely prefer thin, light crusts for more traditional calzones. Next time!

Type rest of the post here


Fast and Easy Chicken Two Ways: Salsa and Sesame

I'm always on the look-out for quick dishes that can be thrown together when I walk in from work and am starving. It's nice to have these in mind so I don't go straight for the dessert. :) And these are made with ingredients that I usually have on hand in the pantry. Both are served over rice, and so I usually start that simmering immediately. Salsa Chicken is spicy and Sesame Chicken is sweet--two great choices that both always sound good! Continue for Chicken recipes.

Salsa Chicken

1- 1 1/2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs, but into 1-inch pieces
Several teaspoons of taco seasoning
1 cup prepared salsa (I like medium)
1 small can diced green chiles
1 8oz can tomato sauce
sharp cheddar cheese

Heat a little oil in a skillet over medium heat.
Generously sprinkle chicken on one side with taco seasoning.
Place chicken in single layer in skillet.
Sprinkle top-side of chicken with salt and pepper.
Cook chicken several minutes, until browned.
Flip chicken pieces over, and cook several more minutes, until browned.
Add salsa, chiles, and tomato sauce.
Cover the skillet and simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 5 more minutes.
Sprinkle the top with cheese.
Cover skillet until cheese melts.
Serve over rice.

Easy Sesame Chicken

adapted from Culinary in the Country

3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 garlic clove, minced
sprinkle of red pepper flakes
2 large egg whites
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 1/2 pounds boneless/skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 1/2"chunks
salt and fresh ground black pepper
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 1/2 pounds broccoli, cut into large florets

In a small bowl, whisk together honey, sesame seeds, soy sauce, garlic, and red pepper flakes.

In a large bowl, whisk together egg whites and cornstarch. Add chicken, season with salt and pepper and toss well to coat.

In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high. Place half of the chicken into the skillet - cook, turning occasionally, until golden and cooked through, about 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate and repeat with remaining tablespoon oil and chicken. Place all of the chicken back into the skillet and pour in the honey sauce - toss well to coat and remove from the heat.

Meanwhile, steam broccoli until crisp-tender.

Serve sesame chicken over the rice and broccoli.


Thursday, June 5, 2008

Granola Bars

One of my essential daily snacks is a granola bar. I love them and eat them all the time--breakfast, snack, dessert. I especially enjoy the trail mix bars, loaded with nuts and dried fruit. And for ages now, I've been meaning to make my own. They are so easy to put together, taste wonderful, smell terrific in the oven, and you can add exactly what you want to fit your fancy. Not to mention they don't contain all of the junk that store bought bars have--preservatives, added fats, refined sweeteners, a plethora of corn products...Why haven't I made these months ago?

So today, I've finally made my own. Exciting!! I was inspired by this recipe from a nice looking blog, The Kitchen Sink, and adapted it for the ingredients that I had on hand. I really love pumpkin seeds but didn't have any today. I enjoyed the mix of brown sugar and honey and liked the sesame seeds. Unfortunately, my coconut flakes were rather old, and didn't really add anything special, but I'm sure fresher coconut would be tasty. I'm a fan of whole nuts and seeds and so I liked the whole almonds.

Next time, I'll cut back on the oats to 2 1/2 cups and add another nut/seed and/or puffed rice cereal for lightness. But wonderful bars for my first go at it! Yummy!! Wrap them individually in parchment, and they're ready to go for lunches or treats in the car! I'll definitely play around with this recipe and make other combinations:

peanut butter for the oil
pumpkin seeds
sunflower seeds
wheat germ
Rice Krispies in place of some of the oats
flax seeds
chocolate chips
maple syrup for some of the sugar/honey

So many possible add-ins! Fun!!
Continue for Granola Bar recipe.

Granola Bars

3 cups old-fashioned oats (next time, cut back a little to 2 1/2 cups and add seeds/wheat germ/puffed rice)
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut
1 t sea salt
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1 cup whole almonds, unsalted

1/2 t cinnamon
1 t vanilla
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup canola oil

1 generous cup mixed dried fruit: cranberries, dates, apricots

Preheat oven to 325.
Line a 9x9 pan with 2 pieces or parchment or foil so that there are overhangs on each side of the pan. (This will make it easy to get the bars out of the pan.)
Spread the first set of ingredients on a large, rimmed baking sheet and bake for 15 min., stirring once half way through.
A few minutes before oats mixture is finished baking, combine next set of ingredients in a small saucepan and heat over medium-low heat until brown sugar is dissolved.
In large bowl, combine oats mixture and sugar mixture; stir to combine.
Add dried fruit and mix.
Spread granola in prepared pan and press down firmly to pack it in.
Bake for 30 min.
Remove from oven and allow to cool COMPLETELY.
Lift out of pan and cut into bars with a very sharp knife.
**Do not try to cut when still warm!


Tuesday, June 3, 2008

French Chocolate Brownies: Tuesdays with Dorie

My first recipe with the group Tuesdays with Dorie! Wonderful! This group is going through Dorie Greenspan's fabulous book, Baking From My Home to Yours, one recipe at a time, posting each Tuesday. I was so excited to join up, as I really enjoy this cookbook--Yummy!!

These brownies are really tasty. But I'm not sure if I would necessarily call them brownies--they're so smooth and soft--velvety, yet not a cake either. Wonderful!! They are made with bittersweet chocolate and have an intense flavor. They aren't fudgy or cake-like, maybe somewhere in between. They have a very tender, soft texture. The top crusts over while baking and then cracks, making them rather delicate and crumbly, adding to their charm. The secret ingredient is raisins (supposed to be rum-soaked, but I left this out) and they're very subtle--great with the chocolate. They really add a great dimension. Very nice! I love these!!

Continue for brownie recipe.

French Chocolate Brownies

adapted from Baking From My Home to Yours

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup raisins, dark or golden
1 1/2 tablespoons water
1 1/2 tablespoons dark rum (I left this out)
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into 12 pieces
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup sugar

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 300°F.
Line an 8-inch square baking pan with foil, butter the foil, place the pan on a baking sheet, and set aside.
Whisk together the flour, salt and cinnamon.
Put the raisins in a small saucepan with the water, bring to a boil over medium hea,t and cook until the water almost evaporates. Add the rum, let it warm for about 30 seconds, turn off the heat, stand back and ignite the rum. Allow the flames to die down, and set the raisins aside until needed.
Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Slowly and gently melt the chocolate, stirring occasionally. Remove the bowl from the saucepan and add the butter, stirring so that it melts. It's important that the chocolate and butter not get very hot. However, if the butter is not melting, you can put the bowl back over the still-hot water for a minute. If you've got a couple of little bits of unmelted butter, leave them—it's better to have a few bits than to overheat the whole. (I carefully melted mine in the microwave and it worked fine--medium power).
Set the chocolate aside for the moment.
Working with a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the eggs and sugar until they are thick and pale, about 2 minutes.
Lower the mixer speed and pour in the chocolate-butter, mixing only until it is incorporated—you'll have a thick, creamy batter.
Add the dry ingredients and mix at low speed for about 30 seconds—the dry ingredients won't be completely incorporated and that's fine.
Finish folding in the dry ingredients by hand with a rubber spatula, then fold in the raisins along with any liquid remaining in the pan.
Scrape the batter into the pan and bake 50 to 60 minutes, or until the top is dry and crackled and a knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
Transfer the pan to a rack and allow the brownies to cool to warm or room temperature.
Carefully lift the brownies out of the pan, using the foil edges as handles, and transfer to a cutting board. With a long-bladed knife, cut the brownies into 16 squares, each roughly 2 inches on a side, taking care not to cut through the foil.

Dorie's Serving Suggestions: The brownies are good just warm or at room temperature; they're even fine cold. I like these with a little something on top or alongside—good go-alongs are whipped crème fraiche or whipped cream, ice cream or chocolate sauce or even all three!

Storing: Wrapped well, these can be kept at room temperature for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months.