Thursday, December 31, 2009

Ice Cream Caramel Rolls

I remember being so excited for my first Home Ec class in 7th grade. Cooking at school? How much better could it get? This is one of the recipes that we made in class and one that my family has enjoyed ever since. The ice cream gives the caramel sauce a unique silky texture and a warm vanilla flavor. Since these rolls start with frozen bread dough, they can be assembled in less than fifteen minutes and left to raise overnight. Ice Cream Caramel Rolls are the best thing to wake up to on a Saturday morning.

Ice Cream Caramel Rolls
20 frozen white dinner rolls (dough balls)
4 Tbs. sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ c. sugar
½ c. brown sugar
½ c. butter
1 c. vanilla ice cream

Combine 4 Tbs. sugar and cinnamon in small bowl. Roll each frozen ball into cinnamon and sugar and place in a greased 9x13 pan. Sprinkle remaining cinnamon/sugar mixture over the top of the rolls. Meanwhile in a saucepan, stir the ½ c. brown and white sugar and butter over medium heat. Bring to boil and then remove from heat. Stir in the ice cream and pour over bread dough. Cover with tin foil and let raise over night.


In the morning bake at 350 F for 15-20 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes and then flip pan onto a cookie sheet or serving platter.
Printable Recipe


Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Vegetable Beef Soup

This week I am cooking in the Genereux Kitchen since we are at my parents home celebrating Christmas over the New Year weekend. To illustrate just how plentiful the food is here my husband weighs himself pre-Genereux Christmas and post-Genereux Christmas celebration. It is hard when my mom, sisters and I all enjoy spending time in the kitchen. Today we made a couple of soups for lunch and the vegetable beef was the favorite. The star ingredient is the acini de pepe which is a pebble-sized pasta. I use it instead of barley but if you don't have any on hand you could use barley or rice in it's place. Serve with a crusty bread.
Vegetable Beef Soup
1 lb. beef stew meat, cut bite sized
2 Tbls. olive oil
1 c. carrots, chopped
1 c. celery, chopped
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
1 12 oz. can beef broth
3-4 c. stewed tomatoes
1 c. water
1 cube beef bullion
1/4 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. parsley
1/4 tsp. thyme
1/4 tsp. rosemary
1/4 acini di pepe pasta
In large soup pan, heat 1 Tbls. oil at medium heat and add stew meat. Brown meat until cooked and transfer meat into a bowl. Add the other tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and saute carrots, celery, onion and garlic until tender (8-10 minutes). Add beef broth, stewed tomatoes, water and seasonings. Simmer on low for 15 minutes. Add cooked meat and pasta and simmer another 15 mintues.
Printable Recipe

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Mushrooms, Onions & Garlic


Steaks are supposed to be the "main event" in a meal but for me it is all about the mushrooms. Sauted mushrooms, onions & garlic make the perfect side dish that is so simple I hesitated posting it. But if anyone is eating steak without this side, you are not enjoying steak at it's fullest potential. The balsamic vinegar helps caramelize the onions and I love the way the slowly sauted garlic takes on a creamy, buttery texture. This could also be served with grilled chicken. Yum!!
Mushrooms, Onion & Garlic
6 Tbls. butter
1 Tbls. Extra virgin olive oil
6 garlic cloves, cut in half
1 pkg. white button or baby bella mushrooms, cleaned & quartered
1 onion, sliced
salt, pepper
2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
In large saute pan, heat butter and olive oil over medium low heat and add garlic. After garlic has cooked for about 5-8 minutes add onions, mushrooms, and salt/pepper. Saute another 5 minutes and add balsamic vinegar. Continue to saute until golden brown.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Quick & Easy - Broccoli Cheesy Soup


Broccoli & Cheese soup is one of my favorite comfort foods yet I think it is hard to find yourself a good bowl of it. Canned cream of broccoli soup is simply out of the question (if you've ever tried it, you know what I'm talking about) and there are only a couple of restaurants where I will order it off the menu. Basically, I have found that if you want good broccoli & cheese soup you have to make it yourself. I experimented tonight using frozen broccoli since I had a terrible worm incident with fresh broccoli that I can't discuss for fear that my readers will no longer be able to eat fresh broccoli! Instead, I used the "steamable" vegetable bags you can now find in the frozen section at the grocery store. I love them!! You pop them in the microwave and voila - in 5 minutes you have perfectly steamed veggies without having to wash a pan! Try them in this speedy soup recipe that tastes as if it had been slow-cooked all day.
Broccoli & Cheese Soup
3 Tbls. butter
1/2 onion, diced
1 carrot, peeled and diced (optional)
1 14 oz. can chicken or vegetable broth
1 c. milk
3-4 Tbls. flour
salt/pepper
1/4 tsp. white pepper
1/2 tsp. basil
1 1/2 c. heavy cream or half & half
1-2 c. shredded cheddar cheese
1 12 oz. bag "steamable" frozen broccoli
In sauce pan, saute onion & carrot in butter over med-low heat until tender (approx. 5 minutes). Add chicken broth and bring to a low boil for 5 minutes. In a small bowl whip flour and milk until smooth. Gradually stir flour mixture into boiling broth. Add seasonings and simmer again for 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low and stir in cream and cheese until melted. Meanwhile, microwave broccoli according to the directions. Add cooked broccoli to soup. You may have to adjust milk/cream amounts to reach your desired consistency. Serve with additional shredded cheese on top.
Tip:
I use a kitchen shears to cut broccoli into smaller chunks since I prefer small pieces in my soup.
I think block cheese that is shredded at home works better than cheese that is already shredded in a bag.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas Eve Eggnog


There is snow on the ground (with much more on the way!), Christmas music is playing throughout the house, the gifts are wrapped under our sparkling tree and all is well in the Vossen Kitchen. Thank you to those who have followed my adventures in the kitchen this holiday season. After my cookie marathon, I am ending my Christmas preparations with creamy homemade eggnog. I started making this about 12 years ago and I have continued to every Christmas Eve since. With a big batch of whipping cream and nutmeg involved you can't go wrong. I am excited because my co-worker brought me fresh eggs from his farm today so this eggnog is as fresh as it can possibly get. Because I am making the custard tonight, I will not have a finished product until tomorrow so my photo shows the beautiful fresh eggs I'm using. I want to wish everyone a wonderful Christmas - I will be back in the kitchen next week!
Christmas Eve Eggnog
Soft Custard
3 eggs, slightly beaten
1/3 cup granulated sugar

Dash of salt
2 1/2 cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Eggnog
1 cup whipping cream
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup light rum (optional)
Ground nutmeg
In 2-quart heavy saucepan, stir eggs, granulated sugar and salt until well mixed. Gradually stir in milk. Cook over medium heat 10 to 15 minutes, stirring constantly, until mixture just coats a metal spoon; remove from heat. Stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla. Place saucepan in cold water until custard is cool. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours but no longer than 24 hours. Just before serving, in chilled medium bowl, beat whipping cream, powdered sugar and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla with electric mixer on high speed until stiff. Gently stir 1 cup of the whipped cream and rum, if using, into the cooled custard. Pour custard mixture into small punch bowl or large pitcher. Top with remaining whipped cream and sprinkle with nutmeg. Serve immediately. Store in refrigerator up to 2 days.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Scalloped Potatoes & Ham


I grew up on a farm so it was pretty much mandatory to have meat and potatoes on the table at the end of a day. This is a version of scalloped potatoes and ham that my family always made. This hotdish is hearty and delicious - the kind of meal to warm you up on a cold winter's night. Put your leftover Christmas ham to good use in this recipe. I attempted to measure the ingredients while I was making this tonight but it is really more like a good estimate. Check on the consistency half way through the baking process and adjust the amount of milk, cheese, etc. as you see fit.
Scalloped Potatoes & Ham
6-8 large russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1" pieces
1 sm. onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 can cream of mushroom soup
3/4 c. half and half or milk
1 c. shredded colby jack or cheddar cheese
salt/pepper
3 Tbls. cold butter cut chunks

Combine all ingredients in a large casserole and bake at 375 F until potatoes are tender, approximately 90 minutes. Stir a couple of times while baking. (Bake covered for the first 45 minutes and uncovered for the remaining 30-45 minutes.)
Tip: For a quick meal you can combine all of the ingredients and refrigerate the day before and bake at a later time.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Andes Mint Cookies


There are many Christmas cookie variations that use the lovely Andes Mint for a frosting. I like this recipe for its simplicity and that it uses chocolate chips instead of cocoa powder. These mint cookies are soft and chewy and the swirled chocolate mint makes them simply beautiful. The best part is that after making these, your kitchen will actually smell like Christmas! Once again, I am using parchment paper (one of the best inventions : ) on my cookie sheets. If you do not plan on using parchment paper you will want to lightly grease your baking sheet because these cookies have a tendency to stick.
Andes Mint Cookies
3/4 c. butter
1 1/2 c. brown sugar
2 Tbls. water
12 oz. bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 eggs
2 3/4 c. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla

2 boxes Andes Mints

Melt together butter, brown sugar and water. Add chocolate chips and stir until melted. Let stand about 15 minutes to cool. Add remaining ingredients (except mints) and mix until well incorporated. Chill dough 1-2 hours. Roll into 1" balls and place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350 F for 8-9 minutes. Remove from oven and place 1/2 of an Andes mint on top of each cookie. Let cookies sit for 30 seconds or until candies are melting and glossy. Swirl melted chocolate with a butter knife.
Tip: I like to use mini chocolate chip morsels since they melt so easily.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Homemade Caramels


Good things come in small packages. Nothing could be more true when it comes to these buttery, vanilla homemade caramels. They make the perfect gift for practically everyone on your Christmas list. As a child we tested the caramel in a glass of water, waiting for a "firm ball" to form...spare yourself this hassle and buy a digital thermometer so you will know exactly when the caramels are done. My tip is to use parchment paper in your pan instead of butter. Once the caramels have cooled and set, all you'll have to do is lift the parchment paper and everything comes out in one easy step. Peel the parchment paper back and you are ready to cut and package your candies.
Homemade Caramels
1 c. butter
2 1/4 c. brown sugar
dash of salt
1 c. white Karo syrup
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp. vanilla

Place a large sheet of parchment paper in a 8x8 pan and set aside. Melt butter over medium to medium/high heat in a large sauce pan. Add brown sugar and salt, stir well. Slowly pour in Karo syrup and sweetened condensed milk stirring constantly. Continue to stir as mixture bubbles and reaches 245 degrees on a candy thermometer. Immediately remove from heat and add vanilla. Pour into parchment lined pan and let cool. Cut into squares and wrap in wax paper.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Raspberry Thumbprints


There is nothing better than a Saturday afternoon devoted to the kitchen. Especially when it is the Saturday before Christmas and the excitement of the season is in the air. I don't think Raspberry Thumbprints are traditionally a Christmas cookie but I love the way the red jam livens up a Christmas platter. I like to make these cookies bite-sized and enjoy them with a good cup of coffee in the morning. Go ahead and double the batch right away because they disappear fast!
Raspberry Thumbprints
1 c. butter at room temperature
2/3 c. sugar
1 tsp. almond flavored extract
2 c. flour
1/4 c. raspberry jam
Cookie glaze 1 c. powdered sugar 1/2 tsp. almond flavored extract 4-5 tsp. water Mix above ingredients in a small bowl until smooth.

Beat butter until well blended. Add sugar and almond extract and beat until creamy. Stir in flour (dough will be slightly crumbly) and shape into small 1" balls. Place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper and make a shallow indent with your finger or the end of a wooden spoon. Fill each cookie with 1/4 tsp. raspberry jam. Bake at 350 F for 14-16 minutes. Let rest about 5 minutes and then drizzle with glaze.
Tip: I scoop the jam with my 1/4 tsp and then using a butter knife, empty the jam into the indent.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Lamb Chops w/ Cauliflower Au Gratin


I'll admit that tonight's menu is not my favorite, but Ryan has requested lamb for the past two weeks so I thought we would give this new recipe a try. I love the way the lamb took on the rosemary and garlic flavors. If you are not a fan of lamb I think these grilled chops may change your mind. They are paired with a great side dish. Cauliflower Au Gratin is a rich and decadent dish that is perfect for the holidays. Tonight it bordered on being too rich so I think substituting the cream with milk may help. I love how the bread crumbs become golden brown on top of the bubbling cheese.
Rosemary Lamb Chops
8 lamb chops
Olive oil
3 sprigs rosemary
2-3 cloves garlic
Salt/pepper

Place the chops flat and next to each other in a glass dish. Drizzle olive oil onto chops and rub into both sides. Coarsely chop rosemary and cloves of garlic and pat onto both sides of the meat. Grind sea salt and pepper to taste. Let the meat sit in the dish, covered and in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours or overnight.
Heat grill to maximum temperature but let all flames completely die down and grill covered for 3-4 minutes on each side. Remove and serve.

Cauliflower Au Gratin
1 lg. head cauliflower, cut into florets 1 1/2 cups cream 8 oz. Monterey Jack cheese, shredded 2 cups grated Parmesan 4 ounces goat cheese, cut into small pieces
Freshly grated nutmeg Salt and pepper
3-4 Tbls. unseasoned bread crumbs Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Layer the cauliflower, heavy cream, and the 3 cheeses in a medium casserole dish. Season with salt, pepper & nutmeg. Sprinkle bread crumbs over mixture. Bake 30 minutes or until the cauliflower is soft and the cheese is golden brown. Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Chocolate Peanut Butter Crisps


This was my favorite Christmas treat as a kid. (I'm sure this had a lot to do with the fact that they were so easy to assemble that my mom let me make them by myself!) These chocolate peanut butter crisps are easy enough for kids yet sophisticated enough to share at an office Christmas party. I like that you can make these days ahead of time and they keep well in the refrigerator. The best part of these candies is that you probably have all of the ingredients in your pantry to make them tonight!
Chocolate Peanut Butter Crisps
1 box Wheat Thins crackers
1 1/2 c. creamy peanut butter
6 oz. chocolate flavored almond bark
1/2 c. semi sweet chocolate chips

Spread each cracker with peanut butter and place another cracker on top to make a small "sandwich". Melt chocolates in a double boiler and dip prepared crackers until well coated. Place on a baking sheet lined with wax paper and let cool.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Oreo Truffles


With Christmas only 9 days away...I feel very behind on my Christmas cookie baking! My plan is to make one "goodie" a night for the next week and I should have all of our holiday favorites covered. I am starting with my personal favorite: Oreo truffles. The first time I bit into one I was amazed that with all of the rich chocolatey-goodness, they still only contained three ingredients! These can be frozen and should always be stored in the refrigerator to keep them tasting fresh. Santa enjoys these best with a tall glass of milk.
Oreo Truffles
(1) pkg. oreo cookies
(1) 8 oz. pkg. cream cheese
(1) pkg. vanilla flavored almond bark

Crush oreos in a large food processor or large stand mixer. Add cream cheese and mix until well blended. Refrigerate dough approximately 2 hours. Roll into small tablespoon size balls and place on waxed paper and refrigerate another 2 hours. In a double boiler, melt almond bark and dip chilled oreo balls until well coated. Place on wax paper and cool. Store in the refrigerator.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Pizzetta


Is there such a thing as too much pizza?? In our house, I know we could easily eat pizza every week and still look forward to it. For this reason I always have pizza toppings on hand. The crust, however, is the one item that takes a while to make since I usually make mine with yeast. Today we didn't want to wait for our pizza dough to rise so we tried a little shortcut. Pillsbury Grand biscuits made for a soft and flakey crust that was still durable enough to hold many toppings. These pizzetta's are perfect for an appetizer; they are fun for kids; and they work well for quick meal. I am listing the toppings that we used today, but there are no rules with pizza so top them as you see fit!
Pizzetta's
1 can of Pillsbury Grand Biscuits
Extra virgin olive oil
Pizza sauce
Mozzarella & Parmesan cheese, shredded
Cooked Italian sausage
Pepperoni
Onion, sliced
Green pepper, chopped
Green olives, sliced

Preheat oven to 375 F. Cut biscuits in half so they are 1/2 the thickness and press out thin with your hands. Place on baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Meanwhile in a small pan, saute onions and green pepper in olive oil until tender. Top with pizza sauce, cheese, meat, sauted vegetables, more cheese and freshly cracked pepper. Bake approx. 15 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Mexican Lasagna


This Minnesota Mexican dish was, naturally, picked up at a potluck that my mom went to. It's part enchilada, part hotdish, which equals one satisfying meal. I love the texture of the baked corn tortillas and the cream of mushroom base brings me back home to the cream-of-something-inspired dishes that my mom frequently made. There are quite a bit of olives in this dish but if you don't like them I think they could easily be omitted. Don't forget to top it with all of your favorite taco toppings i.e. lettuce, tomatoes, taco sauce, sour cream, avocados, green chilies, etc. Ole!
Mexican Lasagna
1 lb ground beef
1/2 onion chopped
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
6 oz. black olives, sliced
1/2 sm. can green chilies, chopped
1 c. mild Ortega taco sauce
12 sm. corn tortillas
6 c. shredded colby jack/cheddar
Brown meat and onions, drain excess fat. Add soup, salt/pepper, taco sauce, olives and chilies. Simmer a few minutes. Grease 9x13 pan and line with 6 tortillas. Layer 1/2 the meat, 1/2 the cheese then 6 more tortillas, remaining meat and cheese. Bake at 350 30-45 minutes. Let set 10 minutes before cutting to serve.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Grilled Turkey Club w/ Caramelized Onions

As my drive home from work became longer and longer from blustery conditions I realized I would not be making it to the grocery store as I had hoped. I mentally started going through the items that I had in my pantry and refrigerator and came up with a grilled turkey club and hash browns for dinner. It is nothing fancy and I hesitated even posting it, but not everything that comes out of my kitchen is pretty. This sandwich was, however, one of the tastiest I've ever made and it was all due to the caramelized onions in balsamic vinegar. If you don't recreate this sandwich, please try the caramelized onions on your next creation.
Grilled Turkey Club
Sliced turkey meat
Bacon slices, cooked
Pepper jack cheese slices
Whole wheat bread
Avocado, sliced
Tomato, sliced
1/2 Onion, sliced
1 Tbls. Balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. sugar
Olive oil
Salt/pepper
Lightly coat small saute pan with olive oil and heat onion on low heat with sugar, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Meanwhile butter one side of each slice of bread and place buttered side down on a medium high fry pan. Top bread with deli meat, bacon, cheese and sauted onions. Place the other piece of bread on top and grill both sides until golden brown. Before serving add avocado and tomato slices.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Buffalo Chicken Dip


I specifically remember the first time I had buffalo chicken, it was 2003 and Dairy Queen was launching the new item on their menu. I remember the DQ representative saying that buffalo sauce was the new "hot" item (no pun intended) and that every restaurant would have it on their menu. He sure was right - six years later and I don't see this fad dying down. I am such a big fan of buffalo sauce that I am constantly trying to think of new things to put it on. Here is another dip recipe that I brought to Christmas Party No. 2. This is my future brother-in-law's :) signature dish. It is great "game day" food since it keeps well in a crock pot. With only a few ingredients it is a breeze to put together. Enjoy with your favorite tortilla chips!
Buffalo Chicken Dip
4 chicken breasts, grilled and shredded
2 c. shredded colby-jack cheese
1/2 c. ranch
1 pkg. (8 oz) cream cheese
1 c. buffalo sauce

Combine above ingredients in a medium crock pot on low setting for approximately one hour. Serve with tortilla chips.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Cowboy Caviar


There are many variations of this homemade salsa, commonly referred to as hobo caviar, Texas caviar, cowboy caviar, etc. I myself have a couple different recipes for it. We had our first Christmas party on Saturday and I brought a big bowl of this dip - it was a crowd-pleaser. (It makes a very large batch.) I love the sweet peppers and refreshing cilantro along with the different types of beans. The best part of this dip is that it is so tasty and you get a full serving of vegetables while enjoying it!
Texas caviar
1 green pepper, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1 orange pepper, chopped
1 cup chopped green onion ( about 2 bunches)
1 cup celery
1 11-oz can of shoe peg corn, drained
1 small jar jalapenos, or 4-5 fresh jalapenos, seeded and chopped ( i used fresh)
1 can black eyed peas drained and rinsed
1 can black beans drained and rinsed
1 can pinto beans drained and rinsed
Cilantro to taste (approx. 1/2 of a bunch ) - I only added the cilantro shortly before serving!! It doesn't need to sit over night like the rest of the items.
Dressing
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar or rice vinegar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
Mix dressing ingredients in saucepan, bring to a boil and cool. Mix remaining ingredients. Pour dressing over mixture. Refrigerate over night. Drain dressing off before serving. Serve with your favorite chips.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Chicken Carbonara


Although I am very proud of my french heritage, I have always longed to be Italian. Garlic, panchetta, parmesan cheese, prosciutto...I can hear Giada De Laurentiis pronouncing each word as if they were magical ingredients. When I see them on a menu, I have to order it. I go through phases where all I want to eat is Italian; last night it was Zuppa Toscano, tonight it is Chicken Carbonara. Although it is sometimes hard to find the energy on a Friday night to spend time in the kitchen I am so glad I did. A bowl full of garlic cream sauce with chicken, proscuitto and peas is best enjoyed in the comfort of your house. Be warned that this does make enough food for a large Italian family. Enjoy!
(Happy Birthday Mom!!)
Chicken Carbonara
1/2 cup olive oil 8 ounces prosciutto or bacon, diced 3 Tbls. chopped garlic 1 1/2 cups cooked chicken strips 1 1/2 cups Alfredo sauce (see recipe below) 2/3 cup peas Black pepper to taste 1 pound cooked thin spaghetti In a saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat until very hot. Add the prosciutto slices, and saute until the prosciutto starts to brown and has bubbly white caps. Add the chopped garlic and saute just long enough for the garlic to begin to caramelize. Add the chicken, Alfredo sauce, and slowly bring the sauce to a simmer. Add the peas and season with black pepper. Cook until the sauce thickens slightly and the chicken is hot. Toss the cooked pasta with the sauce and incorporate well. Top with diced tomato if you'd like. Serve immediately. Makes 6-8 servings. Alfredo Sauce (If you want a shortcut you could buy prepared alfredo) 2 c. heavy cream 2 c. milk
4 tablespoons softened butter 2 cups parmesan cheese Salt and pepper to taste
Freshly grated nutmeg
Heat the cream over medium heat until reduced by a third. Add the softened butter, stirring constantly, then incorporate the cheese, and salt and pepper to taste.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Zuppa Toscana


Zuppa Toscana or potato and sausage soup, is my favorite soup at the Olive Garden. In college my friends and I would frequent Olive Garden and fill up on the soup/salad and bread sticks, and then have delicious pasta leftovers for our dorms - how smart! :) This soup is both savory and spicy and I love how unique the ingredients are. (When else can you enjoy meat, potatoes and your greens all in one dish?!) Sometimes my grocery store will be out of kale and I have substituted escarole or swiss chard which also works well. I should mention to my sister who doesn't like this soup (because it is too spicy), you can omit the crushed red pepper if you'd like. Zuppa Toscana works well as a meal on a cold night like tonight since it is so hearty. I made onion-rosemary focaccia to go along with it. Serve with your favorite bread to soak up the flavorful broth.
Zuppa Toscana
1 lb. sweet/mild italian sausage
1 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
1 lg. white onion, diced
4 Tbls. bacon pieces, cooked and drained
2 garlic cloves, minced
10 c. water
5 cubes chicken bouillon
1 c. heavy cream
1 lb (4 large) russet potatoes, sliced
1/4 bunch kale, torn (Tip: the heart of the bunch will be less bitter than the outsides)
Parmesan cheese

Cook sausage with red pepper, drain and set aside. Saute bacon, garlic & onion approximately 5 minutes. Add water and bouillon and bring to a boil. Add potatoes and cook until tender. Add cream, sausage and kale. Serve with freshly grated parmesan.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Juicy Lucy Burger w/ Sweet Potato Fries


Our favorite show on the Food Network is "Diners, Drive Ins, & Dives". The only problem with watching a marathon of this show is that you will be left craving greasy burgers, pizza and fries. Tonight's burger and cooking technique is inspired from the show. Ryan suggested we grilled this week since the unseasonably warm weather we are having in Minnesota will still allow for it. This burger has bread crumbs to hold in all of the juices and is stuffed with cheese that melts in your mouth. To make up for the greasy burgers, I am making sweet potato fries. They are as tasty as they are easy and the extra bonus is that they are packed full of vitamin A. (As a side note: I bought sweet potatoes but when I cut into them they were yellow instead of orange - I'm not sure why but they still tasted good.)
Juicy Lucy burgers are a great way to end this year's grilling season!!
Juicy Lucy Burger
1 lb. ground beef
2 Tbls. unseasoned bread crumbs

2 Tbls. Worcestershire sauce
salt/pepper
1/4 tsp. seasoning salt
2 Tbls. minced onion

3 slices American or pepper jack cheese

For 1/3 pound burgers: Mix ingredients in a bowl just until combined. Separate mixture into 6 equal parts and flatten into thin patties. Take one slice of cheese and fold in half and then in half again. Place square of cheese in the center of one patty and top with another patty. Seal edge with your hands and press into one large burger. Repeat with remaining.
Heat grill to medium-high and place burgers on for approximately 8 minutes. Flip and cut a small hole in the top of the burger so that the cheese will bubble up to the top of the burger and not leak through the side seams. Cook an additional 8 minutes on this side.


Sweet Potato Fries
2 - 3 large sweet potatoes
olive oil
salt/pepper

Tbls. chopped basil

Serve with garlic flavored mayo

Clean & cut sweet potatoes into strips. Line baking sheet with parchment paper and top with potatoes. Drizzle with olive oil until well coated and season with salt & pepper. Bake at 400 F for approximately 45 minutes.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Sweet & Tangy Pot Roast


I love setting my crock pot in the morning and returning to a house filled with the aroma of a delicious roast. The few minutes it takes to put together the ingredients before work is well worth it when dinner is ready for the table as soon as you walk in the door. This recipe is one that my mother-in-law recently tried from a friend and then passed on to me. I would say that this was the best pot roast I have ever had!! The slow cooked meat was fork tender. The gravy was one-of-a-kind with ketchup being the star ingredient. Tonight we enjoyed this roast with mashed potatoes and peas - yum!
Sweet & Tangy Pot Roast
1 boneless beef chuck roast (3 lbs)
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 c. water
1 c. ketchup
1/4 c. red wine or beef broth
1 envelope brown gravy mix
2 tsp. dijon mustard
1 tsp. worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
2 Tbls. diced shallots
3 Tbls. cornstarch
1/4 c. cold water
Place meat in slow cooker and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Combine in bowl: water, ketchup, wine or broth, gravy mix, mustard, worcestershire sauce, shallots and garlic powder. Pour over meat.
Cook on low setting for 9 hours or until tender. Combine cornstarch and cold water until smooth and stir into slow cooker. Cover and cook on high for 30 minutes or until gravy is thickened.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Pilgrim Hat Cookies


My co-worker brought these cute cookies into work last year at Thanksgiving and I liked them so much that I emailed a picture of them to my family. My sister saved the email this past year and while I had forgotten about them, she had not. We made them on Wednesday night and decided they would be a fun activity to do with our nephews when they get a little older. They are quick and easy to assemble and keep your Thanksgiving table looking festive.
Pilgrim Hat Cookies
1 can cream cheese frosting
1 pkg. fudge striped cookies
1 bag mini Reece's peanut butter cups
Reece's pieces candies or mini M&M's

Place fudge striped cookie face down and add approximately 1 tsp. frosting to the center. Place peanut butter cup face down on top of frosting. Add a mini M&M for the button. Enjoy!

Green Bean Casserole


I couldn't post every item on my Thanksgiving menu since I was busy hosting my family for the weekend. (I was so happy that my husband was able to snap a picture of his plate since I was not thinking of my blog during the holiday.) Instead, I decided to feature one of my favorite new recipes for you to try, perhaps this Christmas. I have always liked the topping on green bean casserole but never liked the mushy center. I searched Food Network's website because I trusted their experts would know how to make this casserole better. By using fresh cut beans instead of canned or frozen the casserole was less mushy. I also used cream and fresh mushrooms instead of cream of mushroom soup which made the whole dish taste fresher. I still topped them with the prepared french onion crisps that we all love!
Fresh Green Bean Casserole
2 Tbls. salt
1-2 pounds fresh green beans, rinsed, trimmed and halved 2 Tbs. unsalted butter 12 oz. mushrooms, sliced 1/2 tsp. black pepper 2 cloves garlic, minced 1/4 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour 1 cup chicken broth 1 cup half-and-half
1 1/2 c. French fried onion Bring a gallon of water and 2 tablespoons of salt to a boil in an 8-quart saucepan. Add the beans and simmer for 10 minutes or until al dente. Drain and set aside. Melt the butter in a 12-inch cast iron skillet set over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, 1 teaspoon salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are tender. Add the garlic and nutmeg and continue to cook for another 1 to 2 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the mixture and stir to combine. Cook for 1 minute. Add the broth and simmer for 1 minute. Decrease the heat to medium-low and add the half-and-half. Cook until the mixture thickens, stirring occasionally, approximately 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the green beans. Top with onion crisps. Place into 425 degree F oven and bake until bubbly, approximately 25 minutes. Remove and serve immediately.
Adapted from Alton Brown's Green Bean Casserole recipe

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Harvest Squash Soup


The rush of the holiday season is already in full swing and I have not been able to get in the kitchen for quite a few days. (My apologies to my diligent readers!) With this in mind, I would like the recipes for the next month to be ones that can be made ahead of time or ones that do not take a lot of time prepare. Though the holidays can be "all about the food" I know we would rather spend time with family and friends or curled up on the couch watching a Christmas movie. It only takes a bit of extra planning to achieve both. Tonight's menu is another soup recipe. This squash soup is decadent and rich. It could be served as a first course or paired nicely with a leftover turkey sandwich. This was the first time I made something with fresh ginger and it was worth the effort! I hope you find this recipe as wonderful as we did. Happy Thanksgiving!
2 butternut squash, seeded and quartered 3 Tbls. melted butter 2 tsp. salt, plus 1 teaspoon to season later 3/4 tsp. freshly ground white pepper, plus 1/2 teaspoon to season later 3 cups chicken broth 1/4 cup honey 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger 1/2 cup heavy cream or half and half 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Place the quartered squash onto a half sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Brush squash with a melted butter and season with 1 tablespoon of the salt and 1 teaspoon of the white pepper. Place in the oven and roast for 30 to 35 minutes or until tender. Scoop the flesh from the skin into a large pot. Add the broth, honey and ginger. Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer, approximately 7 to 8 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool for 15 minutes. Transfer into a blender or food processor (you may have to do this in batches) and blend until smooth. Stir in the cream and return to pot and simmer on low. Season with the remaining salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
Based on Squash Soup recipe from Alton Brown

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Quick & Tasty Tortellini Soup


With my husband home sick today I knew there was only one option for dinner...soup! Soup is by far my favorite food. As soon as the weather starts to get cold, I look forward to the warmth and comfort that comes in a bowl of great soup. You can look forward to many easy soup recipes in the weeks to come. Tonight I had to make due with the ingredients that I had on hand so this soup is unlike any I've made before. By sauteing the vegetables in olive oil first, I was able to cut my cooking time down in half. Also, using pepperonis for the meat make this soup "quick and tasty". Top it all off with freshly grated parmesan cheese - yum!
Quick & Tasty Tortellini Soup
1 lg. carrot - thinly sliced
1/2 onion - diced
2 tomatoes - chopped
minced garlic
2 cans chicken or vegetable stock
1/4 c. pepperoni slices - quartered
salt/pepper
1 tsp. italian seasoning
15 oz. fresh or frozen tortellini
parmesan cheese

In large pot, saute carrots, onion and garlic until tender. Add tomatoes and stock and simmer covered for 10 minutes. Add pepperonis, seasoning and tortellini and simmer for 5-10 minutes more. Top with parmesan cheese.

Sticky Caramel Rolls


Is there anything better than made-from-scratch caramel rolls? The satisfaction I get from mixing yeast and a couple of basic pantry ingredients together to get homemade bread dough is almost as great as the sweet reward of the finished product. I know making your own dough can seem a little intimidating, but I challenge you to give it a try this week. The secret to yeast success is to use a digital thermometer to test your water or milk temperature. The magic number you are looking for is between 105-115 degrees Fahrenheit. My other tip is to use "rapid rise" yeast since it does cut the time needed for the dough to rise almost in half. This recipe is from my favorite cookbook and I have been perfecting it over the past year. Enjoy them on a Sunday morning - they are perfect to serve to overnight guests!
Dough
(2) pkg. rapid rise yeast
1 c. milk (heated 105-115 F)
1/2 c. granulated sugar
3 lg. eggs
5 1/2 c. flour
2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
Grated zest of 1 orange
1/2 c. butter (at room temperature)

In stand mixer dissolve yeast in warm milk and let stand until foamy (about 5 minutes) - add remaining ingredients. Attach dough hook to mixer and knead on low speed. Add a little more flour as needed for the dough to come away from the sides of the bowl - knead until dough is smooth and elastic (about 5 minutes). Form the dough into a ball and transfer into a lightly oiled bowl - cover with plastic wrap. Let dough rise in a warm spot until it doubles in size, 1 - 1.5 hours.

Filling
5 Tbls. granulated sugar
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
Combine sugar and cinnamon

1/4 c. softened butter

Punch down dough and turn over onto a lightly floured work surface. Cut the dough in half with a sharp knife. Roll out one-half of the dough into a 10 x 16 inch rectangle. Spread dough with butter and then sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Roll the rectangle up along the long side. Slice into approx. 10 rolls. Repeat with the remaining half of dough.

Caramel Sauce
1/2 stick butter
1 c. brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 c. half-n-half or cream
Combine ingredients in sauce pan until melted. Pour into 9x13 pan and place rolls on top of sauce.

Cover the rolls loosely with a kitchen towel and let them rise in a warm place until they have doubled in size, 30-40 minutes.
(Alternatively, place rolls in the refrigerator and let them rise overnight.)
Bake at 400 for 20-25 minutes. Let the rolls cool slightly in the pan and then flip over.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma "Essentials of Baking"





Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Grand Tacos


Here is a new version of tacos for your family. My sister-in-law made these last week and said they were an excellent twist to the regular taco. We piled our "grand" tacos high with seasoned ground beef, black beans and lots of fresh taco toppings. They remind me of Uffda-Taco's which are a fair favorite in northern Minnesota, but these are not deep fried so you don't have to feel guilty while enjoying them.
Grand Tacos
1 can of Pillsbury Grand Biscuits
Traditional taco toppings
Simply flatten Grand rolls on an ungreased baking sheet and cook at 375 for 13-15 minutes or until golden brown.
Top with taco seasoned ground beef, cheese, and all of your favorite taco toppings.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Cranberry Sauce


With Thanksgiving around the corner I am hurrying to perfect my side dishes since this is the first time I'll be hosting my family for the holiday. Last year I decided to forgo my usual canned cranberry sauce, and I tried making my own - we loved it!! It is tart and refreshing and packed with antioxidants - it is also much prettier on your table than the gelatin molds you get from a can! It really should be enjoyed more than on just Thanksgiving day. Try serving it warm over pancakes with maple syrup; baked on brie and then spread on crackers or a crusty bread; or try topping your vanilla ice cream for a sweet treat. (The best part is, this is a side dish you can make this ahead of time since it keeps really well in the fridge.)
Cranberry Sauce
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 c. water
4 c. fresh cranberries
zest of an orange
½ tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. nutmeg
In a sauce pan bring to boil water and sugar, stirring to dissolve. Add cranberries and return to a boil. Reduce heat, simmer approx. 10 minutes or until cranberries burst. Stir in orange peel, cinnamon & nutmeg. Remove from heat. Cool at room temperature and then store in refrigerator. (Sauce will thicken as it cools.)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Everyday Meatballs


These meatballs are wonderful because they can be the base of so many different meals. I cook a double batch at a time, refrigerate them to cool, and then freeze them in freezer bags so I can pull them out for a quick meal. Re-heat them in bbq sauce, cream of mushroom soup gravy, marinara sauce for spaghetti, sweet and sour sauce or serve them plain with ketchup. When making homemade pizza I grab a couple of meatballs out of the freezer and chop them up for a quick and delicious pizza topping. Tonight we enjoyed them with marinara sauce over spaghetti.
Everyday Meatballs
2 lbs of lean ground beef
1/2 - 3/4 lb. of ground pork sausage or Italian sausage
1/2 onion diced
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/4 c. unseasoned breadcrumbs
1-2 eggs
salt/pepper
2 Tbls Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
Combine all ingredients in large bowl (Do not over mix) Roll into 2" balls. Heat large fry pan to med heat and add a small amount of olive oil. When cooking meatballs be sure to let them cook for approx. 5-6 minutes a side before turning them. If you try to turn them before a thick crust is established your meatballs will fall apart. Serve hot or cool thoroughly before freezing.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Loaded Baked Potatoes

My sister requested baked potatoes for dinner and although they were meant to be a side dish, they really stole the show. We loaded our potatoes with broccoli, cheese, sour cream, bacon and topped them off with chives. I am featuring them tonight knowing that everyone reading this will already know how to make baked potatoes but maybe this will inspire you to have a little fun with them. Consider having a potato bar with your family for dinner or for the next football game. Bake the potatoes wrapped individually in tin foil (this will keep them moist while baking and help them retain their heat when you take them out of the oven). Get creative with your toppings because the possibilities really are endless!
Broccoli
Cheeses
Bacon
Tomatoes
Ham
Chili
Salsa
Sour Cream
Refried Beans
Chives
Green Onion

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Eggs in a Nest


Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but let's face it, not many of us make time for more than a quick bowl of cereal in the morning. With all of the wonderful breakfast dishes out there, I love an occasional "breakfast for dinner". When I was younger I loved when my mom made eggs in a nest - it always seemed like a special occasion when she did. This is another meal that can be made in a time crunch. Crispy hash browns make the "nest" and eggs are cooked on top of them. Top it off with shredded cheese (and ketchup in Ryan's case) and you have breakfast or dinner that will make any kid smile.
Eggs in a Nest
1 Tbls. olive oil
2 Tbls. butter
3 c. hash browns
1/8 tsp. onion salt
4 eggs
1/4 shredded marble jack cheese

Heat a frying pan to medium heat with olive oil. Add hash browns and top with cut butter. Season with onion salt and pepper. Cook for about 7-8 minutes or until golden brown. Flip hash browns and make a 2-3 inch indent for each egg. Place eggs on hash browns and cover to cook eggs approximately 5 minutes. During the last minute add shredded cheese to melt.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Pepperoni Ravioli


There are days when I don't have a lot of time to get dinner on the table and so I have a handful of semi-homemade recipes that I make in 20 minutes or less. This recipe is something I made up in college because it was quick and the ingredients are all staples that last for quite a while in the fridge. Tonight I used ravioli but I also like bowtie or penne pasta with this sauce. Add garlic bread and your vegetable of choice and you have a healthy and filling dinner in a snap.
Pepperoni Ravioli
9 oz. fresh or frozen cheese ravioli or tortellini

3/4 jar spaghetti sauce - my favorite is Barilla
3/4 c. quartered pepperoni slices
1/2. sm. onion diced
1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 c. sliced mushrooms (optional)

1/2 tsp. basil

1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
Parmesan cheese

Coat saute pan with olive oil and cook onions, mushrooms and garlic until tender. Add pepperoni, sauce and seasoning and simmer 10 minutes. Add cooked noodles and toss with parmesan cheese before serving.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Ultimate Chili

Deer hunting in my family sometimes feels like a holiday before the holidays. While the men bond in the woods, the women usually bond in the kitchen. In past years we have tackled lefse, caramel rolls and donuts from scratch. Our main goal is to relax and enjoy each others company. By the time our hungry hunters come inside we have quite the spread ready for them. Saturday night I was in charge of the soups. I made chicken wild rice soup and my Ultimate Chili. The chili was the crowd favorite so I am featuring that recipe tonight. (Zach even said this made his top 3 of the best chili he's ever had.) This chili has a couple of special ingredients that give it an edge over you basic recipe. The warm and spicy layers of flavor are cooled off by the cheese and sour cream toppings. I always make a big batch and freeze it in individual servings for easy lunches on the go. Ultimate Chili (Note: I never measure ingredients when making soups, so use this as a guide. Your seasoning amounts will vary on how spicy you like your chili) 1 lb. ground beef 1 sm. onion diced 3-4 stalks of celery diced 1 qt. whole tomatoes 1 qt. tomato juice 1 can chili beans in medium sauce 1 can black beans drained 1 sm. can green chilies diced salt/pepper 1/2 tsp. garlic powder 1/2 tsp. cumin 1/2 tps. oregano 3-4 Tbls. chili seasoning Toppings: sour cream, cheese, avocados - Brown ground beef, onions and celery in soup pot. Drain excess fat. Add remaining ingredients and simmer at least 20 minutes.

M&M Cookies

We spent the weekend Up North at my parents' house where the kitchen is packed with home-cooked foods and happy people. Staying there with family and friends is the perfect balance of relaxation and pure chaos. While we're there my mom makes most of the food and my dad makes sure no one goes hungry. : ) This weekend I was able to make a couple of family favorites that I know you will like too. There is nothing better than warm cookies to fill a room with the smell of home. These M&M cookies are the perfect treat. They differ from chocolate chip cookies in that they have crisco instead of butter. The crisco makes a very different cookie texture. The end result is a soft and chewy cookie. Paired best with a glass of milk!
M&M Cookies
1 c. crisco
1 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. water - not sure why this is necessary but I always do it : )
2 eggs
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
2 c. + 4 Tbls. flour
2 c. M&M's
Beat crisco and sugars until creamy. Add remaining ingredients in the order given. Bake at 375 on an ungreased cookie sheet 10 minutes.
(I always take my cookies out before they look done and let them sit for a minute on the cookiesheet before moving them on wax paper or a cooling rack to cool. )