Thursday, December 18, 2008

Let's Have Breakfast...for Dinner

Guest author John here. While Annemarie is in San Diego, she has handed the family over to me. That means I am responsible for the nourishment and well-being of our children. And if there is one thing I have learned over the last year, when you make a sweet dinner, you blog about it.

I'm not as meticulous as Annemarie about measurement, proper cooking temperatures, and things like that, so I'm pretty much just going to show you the pictures of this awesome meal.

Any food "breakfast for dinner" starts with sausage

A couple of the kids (and me) really love sauteed mushrooms on their eggs.

After this, the cooking was pretty fast and furious and their wasn't much time for pictures, so here's the final product.

There's a good chance that the rest of the meals I prepare will not be as big as this one. Next up, "Cereal for Dinner".

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

frozen hot chocolate...

4 ounces of your favorite chocolate
2 teaspoons store-bought hot chocolate powder
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 cups milk
3 cups ice cubes
sweetened whipped cream
chocolate shavings (optional)

Chop chocolate into small pieces and melt in microwave on low heat. Once melted, add hot chocolate mix and sugar, stirring constantly until thoroughly blended. Slowly add 1/2 cup milk, stirring until smooth. Cool to room temperature. In blender, place the remaining 1 cup milk, room-temperature chocolate mixture and ice. Blend on high speed until smooth and the consistency of a frozen daiquiri.
Makes about 4 8oz servings

Need I say more?

*recipe from My Kitchen Cafe...LOVE her site!

Monday, December 15, 2008


1 1/2 Tbsp butter, melted, plus softened butter for greasing pans
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups milk, at room temperature

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees .
Generously grease popover pans with softened butter. You’ll need enough pans to make 12 popovers. Place the pans in the oven for exactly 2 minutes to preheat. Meanwhile, whisk together the flour, salt, eggs, milk, and melted butter until smooth. The batter will be thin. Fill the popover pans half full and bake for exactly 30 minutes. DO NOT PEEK.

I have always wanted to try to make these. I was a little put-off at first that I needed to buy a special pan...especially after a lengthy search and no time to head to the baking supply store...I got lucky and happened upon a popover pan at Target (of all places) for $11. Score! Popovers can seem a little daunting, but this is just one where the recipe needs to be followed EXACTLY, and I promise it will turn out. This is another fabulous Ina Garten specialty. They were a nice change from bread or rolls, and perfect for a special occasion.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

oven roasted pork roulade...

6 boneless pork chops, pounded into cutlets
1 pkg dressing mix (not stuffing)
salt & pepper
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup chicken broth
1 Tbsp butter, room temp
1 Tbsp flour

Prepare dressing according to pkg directions. Set aside to cool to room temp. Place each pork chop in between two sheets of parchment or plastic wrap & pound out with a meat tenderizer or rolling pin to 1/4 inch thick. Season with salt & pepper.
Spread a couple of tablespoons of dressing onto each pork chop, roll up & secure with 2-3 toothpicks. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Heat olive oil in a skillet over med-med high heat. Brown rolled up pork chops on all sides. Place on baking sheet at finish cooking in oven until 160 degrees (about 20-25 min)
Meanwhile, drain excess fat from skillet, return to heat and add 1 cup chicken broth. Let simmer for 3-5 min, scraping bits off the bottom of the pan. Make a paste out of butter and flour and whisk into chicken broth. Simmer over med heat until thickened.
Remove pork from oven and let rest about 15 min. Slice and drizzle with pan sauce.

This was a little time consuming, but relatively easy to put together...and VERY good! This was a crowd pleaser. Watch the pork (once in the oven) carefully. Depending on the thickness, it may take less time to finish cooking. The pan sauce really pulled the whole dish together.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

holiday dinner...

*oven roasted pork roulade
*roasted green beans with shallots
*peppermint bark
*frozen hot chocolate

**recipes on the way!

Monday, December 8, 2008

ginger snaps...

3/4 cup butter, room temp
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1 egg
2 1/4 cup flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp ground cloves

Combine dry ingredients, set aside. Cream butter and sugar. Add molasses and egg and mix until smooth. Add dry ingredients, one cup at a time and mix to combine. Chill dough. Shape into 1-inch balls and roll in sugar to coat. Bake on greased cookie sheet at 375 for about 10 min. If you like them soft, take them out as soon as the balls crack on the top & let them cool.

This was a recipe from the cookie exchange last week from my cute friend, Stacy. Mine didn't turn out as good as hers...but they tasted YUMMY!!! Bake some up for Santa...he'll love 'em!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

ham & cheese in puff pastry...

1 package (2 sheets) frozen puff pastry, defrosted (recommended: Pepperidge Farm)
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/4 pound black forest ham, sliced
1/2 pound Swiss Gruyere or cheddar, cheese sliced
1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Place a piece of parchment paper or a silpat on a sheet pan.
Lay 1 sheet of puff pastry on a floured board and carefully roll it out to 10 by 12 inches. Place it on a sheet pan and brush the center with the mustard, leaving a 1-inch border around the edge. Place a layer first of ham and then cheese, also leaving a 1-inch border. Brush the border with the egg wash.
Place the second sheet of puff pastry on the floured board and roll it out to 10 by 12inches. Place the second sheet on top of the filled pastry, lining up the edges. Cut the edges straight with a small, sharp knife and press together lightly. Brush the top with egg wash and cut a few slits in the top to allow steam to escape.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until puffed and golden brown. Allow to cool for a few minutes and serve hot or warm.

I love Ina. She, yet again, came through. The episode where she makes this just aired today...I didn't even watch the whole thing, but I knew I needed to make this. She recommends this for a cocktail party...One man's appetizer is another man's dinner.
My family loved it.
(I used a little more ham than the recipe calles for in as much as it was dinner)
*cut into 12...1 serving 7 pts*

Thursday, December 4, 2008

chocolate turtle cookies...

1 cup flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 Tbsp butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
1 large egg, separated, plus 1 egg white
2 Tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup chopped pecans, chopped fine
14 soft caramel candies
3 Tbsp heavy cream

Pre heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silpat liners. Combine flour, cocoa, and salt in bowl. With electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter and sugar until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add egg yolk, milk, and vanilla and mix until combined. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture until just combined. Refrigerate dough until firm, at least 1 hour.Whisk egg white(s) in another bowl until frothy. Place pecans in another bowl. One at a time, roll dough into 1-inch balls, dip in egg whites, then roll in pecans. Place balls 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Using teaspoon measure, make indentation in center of each ball. Bake until set, 10 to12 minutes. Meanwhile, microwave caramels and cream in bowl, stirring occasionally, until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Once cookies are removed from oven, gently press existing indentations with teaspoon measure. Fill each with 1/2 to 1 teaspoon caramel mixture. Cool 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack and cool completely.

This was my contribution to the annual cookie exchange that we have for Enrichment each year. Yum, yum & yum! I so wish I had taken a pic of the plate of cookies I came home with...but they disappeared too fast...hmm...

These were a little time consuming, but totally worth it. I think it would be a little easier, and maybe even taste better with caramel ice cream topping (Mrs. Richardson's to be exact) in place of the candies & cream. OR...if you were reeeaaaally daring...homemade caramels.

*Recipe from My Kitchen Cafe*

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

crunchy caramel apple pie...

1 9 in. deep dish pie crust (store bought or homemade)
1/2 cup sugar
3 Tbsp flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt
6 cups thinly sliced, peeled apples (fuji, granny smith, honeycrisp, or any combo of these)
1 recipe crumb topping (below)
1/2 cup chopped pecans
caramel ice cream topping (Mrs. Richardson's butterscotch caramel sauce)

In large mixing bowl stir together sugar, flour, cinnamon & salt. Add apples & toss until coated. Transfer apples to pie crust. Sprinkle crumb topping over apples. Place pie on lined baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 50-60 min. Remove from oven and sprinkle with chopped pecans and drizzle with caramel.

Crumb topping:

1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup butter, room temp
Stir together 1st three ingredients. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

This has been a must have at Thanksgiving for the past several years. It is so amazingly wonderful!! It certainly is not just for Thanksgiving, though. It's just a kicked-up apple pie that could be made throughout the year. Oh...and don't forget the vanilla bean ice cream!!!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thanksgiving tips...

1. Do as much cooking and prep work as you can in the next two days so you can also enjoy Thanksgiving day. Stuffing, cranberries, pies, vegetable platters can all be made ahead. You can also chop vegetables for other side dishes the day before. If you don't need access to the table, set it in advance.

2. Buy a bunch or two of Italian parsley. It is only about .99 a bunch and can be used as a garnish, sprinkled over side dishes, etc. This is just a little touch that makes food look extra special.

3. Sweeten the whipped cream for your pies with ...brown sugar. Delicious!!!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

pear tart & pumpkin bars...

2 cups flour
3/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
3/4 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
12 tablespoons cold butter (1 1/2 sticks), diced
1 egg yolk
2 pounds ripe d'anjou pears, cored and cut into slices

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.Combine the flour, walnuts, and sugar in a large bowl. Add the butter and the egg yolk. Mix, either by hand or with an electric mixer, until crumbly. Press 1 1/2 cups of the crumb mixture in an even layer into the bottom of a 9 1/2-inch springform or tart pan. Arrange the pears in the pan, skin side down, to form a flower pattern; begin at the outside and work your way in. Sprinkle the rest of the crumb mixture evenly over the pears. Bake the tart for 25-30 minutes, or until it's lightly browned. Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes. Remove from the pan and transfer the tart to a flat plate. Serve warm or at room temperature.

2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
4 eggs
1 15oz can pumpkin
1 ½ cups sugar
1 cup canola oil

Combine dry ingredients. Beat eggs. Add pumpkin, sugar and oil. Mix to combine. Add dry ingredients. Bake on large, greased baking sheet, 350 degrees 25-30 min. Cool completely and frost. Cut to make 48

Cream Cheese Frosting
6 oz cream cheese
½ cup butter
2 tsp vanilla
4 cups powdered sugar
thin with milk if needed

Want something other than pumpkin or apple pie on Thanksgiving?? Here are two wonderful, different suggestions. I think the pumpkin bars speak for themselves. They are always a favorite in the Fall. The pics just show tips for cutting even, same sized bars. Cut in half, then in half again. Then, cut into thirds or half again. Rotate pan & repeat. I hope that makes sense...
The pear tart is the same recipe as the plum tart I made over the summer...I just swapped out the plums for pears. Fab.u.lous. This is one of my all-time favorite desserts. You could even add dried, sweetened cranberries for a festive touch! It really is so easy to put together, but looks like something that took quite a bit of effort. Great way to fool everyone!!
A little tip on baking with pears that are a just a little soft to the touch. DO NOT PRESS TOO HARD or you will just bruise them. If pears are too firm, they will not soften when baking.
Try something new this year!!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

acorn squash...

1 acorn squash
1 Tbsp melted butter
1 Tbsp brown sugar
pecans (if desired)

Cut acorn squash in half & remove seeds. Slice a small piece of the skin off of the underside to create a flat surface. Melt butter and add brown sugar. Brush on squash. Sprinkle on pecans and a little coarse salt. Roast at 400 degrees for 45-60 min until squash is fork tender.

This is a perfect, easy side dish for Fall. It would even make a fantastic side for Thanksgiving. My kids could not get enough! With the brown sugar it was almost a dessert...really, really good!!

Friday, November 14, 2008

homemade bread stuffing...

You can make it from a box, a bag, whatever you like...this is just another EASY, good option.

8 Tbsp butter
1 large onion, chopped
3 med celery ribs, chopped
1 pound firm, white sandwich bread, cut in 1/2 in. cubes (10 cups) and dried overnight or in the oven (directions below)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
3 cups chicken stock/broth, or as needed
2 tsp poultry seasoning
salt & pepper

In a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add the onion and celery. Cook, stirring often, until the onion is translucent, about 10 min.
Put vegetables and butter in a large bowl. Add the bread & the parsley. Stir in enough liquid to moisten the stuffing, about 2 1/2 cups. Season with poultry seasoning and salt & pepper. Place in a buttered baking dish, drizzle with an additional 1/2 cup stock/broth, cover and bake. (350 about 30 min. Remove cover for the last 5-10 min for a crisp top, if desired)

*dried bread cubes*

Use a firm sandwich bread. NOT a fluffy white (the stuffing will just be soggy) Crusty French or Italian breads also work. Using a serrated knife, cut the bread in 1/2 inch cubes (no need to cut crusts off). Let bread stand at room temp overnight OR, bake the bread cubes at 350 degrees, stirring occasionally, until they are dry and starting to crisp. 20-30 min. Do not toast them, they will crisp a little more upon cooling.

This recipe can also be used with packaged, seasoned stuffing mixes. Just use caution when adding the poultry seasoning and salt.

(Linsey...if you can't find poultry seasoning in your neck of the woods let me know...I'll happily ship some to you!!!)

Friday, November 7, 2008

stuffing the bird...

One of the first times I cooked a turkey I read about stuffing it with root vegetables, mostly onions. Let me preface this by saying that I am not the biggest fan of bread stuffing that has been cooked inside the turkey, so this approach of using vegetables instead was very appealing to me. I tried it, I loved it, and have been doing that ever since.
My favorite way is to use a combination of onions, carrots, celery and a turnip, or two. This creates the most amazing stock/juice, which then makes a fabulous gravy. The carrots and turnip do not even need to be peeled. The intention is not to eat the vegetables, just use them for flavor.
Season the inside of the turkey cavity with salt & pepper, prepare your vegetables (depending on the size of your bird, this could take quite a few of each type of vegetable) and stuff the turkey.
And as for traditional stuffing?? It definitely still has a place on my table. I just make it and bake it {separately} in the oven.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

meatball pizza...

meatballs (mini)
premade pizza crust(s)
pizza sauce
mozzarella cheese
green onions

If you have meatballs already made in your freezer this couldn't be any easier...and a nice change from pepperoni & cheese!
Everyone loved it!!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

menu planning & list making...

OK, I said the next Thanksgiving post would be about stuffing...but I got a little ahead of myself. First things first:
*plan your menu*
Sit down with pen and paper (or keyboard & screen!) and write/type out your menu. Really, this is so helpful.
1. Turkey-
Plan on about 1 lb per person (that leaves plenty for seconds and leftovers) You may even want to consider roasting 1 large turkey and a turkey breast, depending on the number of people you are feeding.
2. Sides-
Just figure out what you like (and what you like to cook). Include at least one's nice to serve something light and fresh with all of the starch & protein
3. Rolls/bread-
Are you going to make them or buy them? Do you need to order them from your favorite bakery? (if so, do it soon!)
4. Dessert-
Same goes here. Making or buying? Either way, it's good to start thinking about it now.
5. Appetizers & beverages-
If you so choose...

Make a rough draft menu and then decide what things (if any) can be assigned out. If someone offers to contribute, take them up on it.
Next, start making a grocery list of the things you need to purchase. Most things on your list will be on sale in the coming weeks, and non-perishable items can be purchased and tucked away now. Even if you haven't committed to your menu, there are some items that you may need regardless.

Happy meal planning!!!

Friday, October 31, 2008

turkey 101...

Happy November!!

You know what that means...

Thanksgiving (serious cooking) is just around the corner.

I've had a couple of requests to share tips for cooking Thanksgiving dinner.

I've done this several times (sometimes the outcome was fantastic...sometimes a flop). I will offer up the things that have worked for me in the past, and hopefully give a few fool-proof, easy suggestions.

First things first.

The bird.

I've tried cooking turkey MANY different ways (seriously, just about every technique Martha has suggested, I've tried). Surprisingly, this way was the easiest and best tasting. Who knew?? I'll never go back. If they ever stop making these bags, they had better be replaced with something truly amazing because these things ROCK!

Next up...stuffing the bird!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008