Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Quick Homemade Sticky Rolls

This weekend I finally found some time to be in the kitchen. Wahoo!! I had a very special guest come and visit: 2 1/2 week old Elliana and her mom, my cousin Jessica. I got a call from them in the morning and they said they would be at my house in a couple of hours. I wondered, is it possible to make homemade caramel rolls in two hours?! I did a google search and found a recipe that fit the bill. This sweet dough uses two packages of yeast which must speed up the process. I doubled the amount of caramel sauce listed since it didn't sound like enough and even then it didn't end up very caramely. They were light and fluffy, sticky and sweet, and made the whole house smell good!
Sweet Dough
2 packages of yeast
1/2 c. warm water (105-115 F)
1 1/2 c. milk
7 c. flour
1/2 c. sugar
4 Tbsp. butter
1/2 tsp. vanilla
3 eggs
1 tsp. salt

2/3 c. sugar
4 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 stick butter, melted

Caramel Sauce
1/2 c. butter
1 c. brown sugar
4 Tbs. corn syrup

In a stand mixer bowl, add yeast and warm water and let dissolve for 5 minutes until foamy. Heat milk in microwave (30 seconds or so) until warm to the touch. Add milk and remaining sweet dough ingredients to the yeast and mix on low speed. Add additional flour if needed until dough comes away from the sides of the bowl and forms a large ball. On a floured work surface, turn dough over and roll out into a large rectangle about 1/2" thick.

For the filling, brush melted butter over dough and sprinkler with cinnamon and sugar. Starting on a long side of the rectangle, carefully roll up dough into one large log. Using a piece of string (floss works great too!) cut dough into 2-3" pieces by sliding string underneath the log and criss-crossing string to cut through dough.

In a small sauce pan, melt butter, brown sugar and corn syrup over low heat and stir until combined. Pour caramel mixture into a large cake pan (I used an 11x14). Place cinnamon rolls over caramel sauce cut side down. Cover and let rise for an hour. Bake at 375 F for 25 minutes. Let sit for 2 minutes before inverting over a half sheet pan.
Recipe adapted from http://www.cooks.com/
Printable Recipe

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Baked Potato Soup

With a cold chill in the air this week, it is the perfect excuse to make warm soup for dinner. Baked potato may be the most comforting cup of soup there is. In one spoonful you get creamy pototoes, salty bits of bacon and a hint of tang from the sour cream. My favorite ingredient in this recipe is probably the green onions though. Enjoy this baked potato soup tonight!
Baked Potato Soup
6 c. potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces
2 1/2 c. water
2 c. half and half
3 Tbs. flour
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 bunch green onions, sliced
1 c. cheddar cheese
1/2 lb. bacon, cut and cooked until crispy
1/2 c. sour cream
In a medium soup pot, add water and potatoes and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil over high heat and continue to boil 12-15 minutes. Add onions and garlic powder. Whisk flour into half and half until smooth. Slowly pour and stir half and half into simmering potatoes. Add cheddar cheese and bacon and season to taste. Continue to simmer until potatoes are tender. Serve topped with sour cream and additional green onions and cheddar cheese.  

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Sweet and Sour Pork

I love sweet and sour pork. A friend gave me this recipe and this is the first time I tried to make it. Believe me, it was quite a disaster!! I started making this and then realized that I didn't have all of the ingredients...isn't that the worst?! I ran out of soy sauce so I had to improvise with Worcestershire. I couldn't find any pineapple in the pantry so I used a bit of frozen orange juice concentrate. Then, after adding the orange juice I finally found the pineapple. I made it with too many vegetables so I needed more sauce and ended up adding about 1/2 cup of prepared sweet and sour that I had in the fridge. Well, I am still sharing this recipe with you because somehow it all came together and we really liked it.
Sweet and Sour Pork
1.5 lb. pork, cubed
3/4 c. matchstick carrots
1/2 c. onion, diced
1 green pepper, cut in strips
3 Tbs. soy sauce
1 Tbs. dry sherry
3 Tbs. cornstarch
1/4 tsp. salt
2 Tbs. oil
20 oz. can pineapple in juice
1 tsp. garlic
1/3 c. brown sugar
2 Tbs. Hoisin sauce
1/3 c. cider vinegar
1/2 c. cherry tomatoes
sesame seeds
In a large wok, cook pork in a Tbs. of oil over medium-high heat until cooked through. Scoop pork out and set aside. Add another Tbs. of oil to the wok and add carrots and stir and cook for 5 minutes. Add green pepper and onion and continue to stir-fry until vegetables are cooked but not soft. In a medium bowl, whisk together soy sauce, dry sherry, cornstarch, salt, pineapple juice, garlic, brown sugar, Hoisin sauce, and cider vinegar. Pour sauce over veggies in wok and add pork. Stir and cook until thickened. Add pineapple and cherry tomatoes right before serving. Top with sesame seeds and serve over rice.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Country Omelet

This is the first time we made this country omelet and we loved it!! Smokey kielbasa, tender potatoes and green onions all perfectly baked together in a skillet style omelet. What's not to like?  Since the eggs are baked at a low temperature they are given time to slowly cook which makes for light and fluffy. You could substitute bacon or ham for the kielbasa and any cheese would work well. Next time I make this I'm going to add red peppers for even more color and flavor. Try this Country Omelet with your family tonight - you will enjoy every savory bite.

Country Omelet
8 oz polska kielbasa, cubed
6 lg. eggs
3 Tbs. milk
3/4 tsp. dijon mustard
3/4 c. shredded parmesan cheese
3 green onions (white and green parts), sliced
1/2 c. mushrooms, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
2 Tbs. butter
1 c. fingerling potatoes, sliced 1/4" thick

In a medium bowl, whisk eggs, milk, dijon mustard, salt and pepper. Set aside. In an oven proof omelet pan, cook kielbasa over medium heat until browned (5-8 minutes) remove kielbasa from pan and set aside. Add butter to the pan and let melt. Add potatoes and white onions and cook for 10 minutes, flipping occasionally. Add mushrooms to the potatoes and continue to cook until potatoes are tender (about 5 minutes). Remove pan from heat. Remove potatoes, onions and mushrooms from the pan and set aside. Now butter the pan if needed and pour egg mixture into pan. Sprinkle egg mixture with parmesan cheese, kielbasa, potatoes, onions, mushrooms, and green onions. Bake at 350 F for 15-20 minutes or until eggs are set.

Recipe adapted from Ina Garten's, Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics
Printable Recipe

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Rotisserie Chicken Lasagna Roll-Ups

I first saw lasagna roll-ups a couple of years ago on Giada DeLaurentiis's show, Everday Italian. She filled lasagna noodles and rolled them up instead of layering them in a pan. I loved the concept so much that although I never tried them a couple of years ago, I was reminded of them every time I saw a box of lasagna noodles. While grocery shopping, my eye caught a rotisserie chicken and ricotta cheese and the idea for rotisserie chicken lasagna roll-ups was born. I love doing a little experimenting in the kitchen but usually not for guests. Tonight a couple of friends showed up for dinner and everyone took second helpings so I would say this meal was a success. If you like chicken alfredo you will love this new twist on the lasagna noodle.
Rotisserie Chicken Lasagna Roll-Ups
2 c. rotisserie chicken, shredded
1 1/2 c. shredded parmesan cheese
2 c. ricotta cheese
1/2 onion, chopped
1/4 c. mushrooms, diced
2 garlic cloves
1 Tbs. olive oil
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. white pepper
1 1/2 c. shredded mozzarella
15 oz. prepared alfredo sauce
3/4 c. marinara sauce
12 lasagna noodles
Bring a large pot with salted water to boil for lasagna noodles (cook until according to package or until al dente.) Meanwhile, cook onions, mushrooms and garlic in olive oil over medium heat in a fry pan until tender. Transfer into a medium bowl. Add the shredded chicken to the bowl along with white pepper, nutmeg, parmesan, and ricotta cheese. Stir filling until well combined. Take one lasagna noodle and lay out on a clean work surface. Scoop 3-4 Tbs. of filling and place on pasta. Spread filling evenly over pasta and then roll up. Continue process until all of the pasta is filled. In a 9x13 pan, pour marinara sauce and spread to cover the pan. Place lasagna rolls seam side down on top of marinara. Next, pour alfredo sauce over all of the pasta rolls and top with mozzarella cheese. Bake at 375 F for approx. 45 minutes. Printable Recipe

Monday, May 3, 2010

Breaded Pork Cutlets

Softball season is upon us which means we need to have simple and quick meals on Ryan's game nights. I picked up thinly cut pork chops just for this reason. I love pan frying chicken or pork cutlets in bread crumbs. They take such a short time to cook and they can be paired with any steamed vegetable for a well-rounded meal. I also like that they are great to dip in your favorite sauce: marinara, sweet and sour, barbeque, ranch, etc. Next time you are at the grocery store, stock up on thinly sliced pork chops or chicken breasts and keep them in your freezer. When you need a protein in a pinch, they will thaw and cook up quickly.
Breaded Pork Cutlets
4 thinly sliced, boneless pork chops
2 Tbs. olive oil
1/4 c. milk
1/4 c. flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/8 tsp. white pepper
1/2 c. bread crumbs (seasoned or season yourself)
In a shallow pan or large plate, season flour with salt, pepper, paprika and garlic powder. In another plate, pour bread crumbs and set aside. Dip pork chops in milk and then flour mixture. Dip again in milk and then in bread crumbs until well coated. Heat a large fry pan over medium heat and add olive oil. Place breaded chops in pan and cook about 4-5 minutes on each side or until cooked through.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Breakfast Burritos

Breakfast burritos are always a slam dunk meal in our household. I take everything we love about breakfast, cook it up on the stovetop and wrap everything in a flour tortilla. The result is a warm and hearty breakfast that keeps you satisfied throughout the morning. The best part about a breakfast burrito is that anything goes. For us, we always start with a flour tortillas, eggs and cheese. From there we add in whatever we have leftover in the refrigerator. Ham, vegetables, sausage, bacon, etc. For breakfast or for dinner...breakfast burritos are a winner. (Can you tell I have Guy Fieri on the television right now!!)
Breakfast Burritos for Two
2 flour tortillas
4 eggs
2 Tbs. milk
1/2 c. shredded cheese
2-4 slices of cooked bacon
1/2 small onion, diced
1/2 green pepper, diced
3-4 Tbs. butter
2 potatoes, peeled and shredded
cherry tomatoes, halved
In a medium bowl, whisk eggs, milk, salt/pepper and set aside. In a large skillet, melt butter and add shredded potatoes (aka hashbrowns), onion and green pepper. Cook over medium-high heat until crispy brown, flipping occasionally. In a small pan, melt a little butter and add egg mixture. Cook and stir over low heat until scrambled, add shredded cheese. Take flour tortillas and heat them briefly in the microwave to make them flexible. Spoon hashbrowns, eggs and cooked bacon to tortillas and top with cherry tomatoes. Roll up and enjoy!
Printable Recipe

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Craisin Coleslaw

When it comes to coleslaw people, either like it or they don't. I think a lot of mediocre restaurants have given coleslaw a bad wrap with their so-so soggy sidedish. When you do it right, coleslaw is tangy and crunchy and oh-so-good. I like to add different things to mine such as sesame seeds or craisins. If you do not want to make your own dressing there are plenty of prepared ones available that you can use and then add your own touches to. Try this craisin coleslaw with your next barbeque.
1/2 c. mayo
2 1/2 Tbs. cider vinegar
4 Tbs. milk
1 Tbs. sugar
1/4 c. craisins
1/2 tsp. poppy seeds
16 oz bag cabbage-carrot coleslaw blend
In a medium bowl whisk mayo, vinegar, milk, sugar, poppy seeds, salt and pepper until smooth. Taste dressing and adjust seasoning as you see fit. Add cabbage blend and craisins. Refrigerate for an hour and enjoy!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Carnitas with Homemade Tortillas

After watching Diners, Drive-Ins & Drives I wanted to give homemade tortillas a try. I had also never made carnitas but they always look so good on the show. I made mine in the crock pot since it is the easiest way to cook a roast. The meat came out fork tender and was packed full of flavor. My brother-in-law Eric and I had fun making the tortillas. I rolled them out paper thin and Eric cooked them in the cast iron pan. Together we were able to make a dozen tortillas in about 20 minutes which wasn't too bad for our first try. We sat back and enjoyed our delicious carnitas in our warm tortillas.
Crockpot Carnitas
3-4 lb. pork roast (shoulder or rump roast)
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. dried cilantro
1 tsp. cumin
3 tsp. brown sugar
1/4 c. water
4 oz. green chilies
Trim excess fat off or roast and set aside. Pour water and green chilies into a medium crock pot. In a shallow bowl combine all seasoning and place roast in the rub. Pat all seasoning into the roast and then set into crock pot above green chilies. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.
Remove roast and shred. Return a small amount of liquid to the roast to keep it moist. Serve warm on tortillas.
Printable Recipe
Homemade Tortillas
Since I had never made these before I followed this recipe exactly on allrecipes.com. Click this link for recipe: Tortilla Recipe

Friday, April 23, 2010

Salmon & Carmalized Onion Pizza

Pizza is the ultimate favorite food in our household so we were so excited to attend a cooking last year that was all about this American classic. We walked away from the class so enthused about making homemade pizza dough that we came home and started our dough at 10:00 and enjoyed a slice by midnight. We were also inspired after eating some salmon pizza. Isn't it amazing that pizza can be topped with just about anything?! As long as you have great crust and bubbly cheese you know you are in for a fabulous meal. I have already posted my crust recipe of choice but there are plenty of great dough recipes out there. Find which one works for you and have fun perfecting it.
Salmon & Caramelized Onion Pizza
Pizza dough
Smoked salmon
Onions, sliced
Olive oil
Mozzarella cheese
In a small saute pan, add olive oil, onions and salt/pepper. Cook over medium-low heat until caramelized.
Roll pizza dough out thin, and top with a tablespoon or so of olive oil. Sprinkle with a little rosemary. Top with cheese, chunks of salmon and caramelized onions. Bake at 500 F for 7 minutes or grill.

Pizza Dough (makes two crusts)
1 pkg. rapid rise yeast (2 1/4 tsp.)

1/4 tsp. sugar or honey
1 c. warm water (105 - 115 F)
1 tsp. salt
2 3/4 c. flour plus extra for kneading
Mix yeast, sugar and 1/4 c. warm water in a measuring cup and allow to stand until mixture is foamy, 10-15 minutes. Stir together the salt and flour in a large bowl. Pour yeast mixture and remaining 3/4 c. warm water and stir until dough just comes away from the side of the bowl. Knead on a lightly floured surface about 5 minutes and place dough in a separate bowl that is lightly brushed in olive oil. Cover with
plastic wrap and let dough rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Deep Fried Tacos & Elephant Ears

Deep fried tacos are a family favorite. My mom used to make these every year during the fair so we could all get our favorite fair food fix. They are delicious and fun - the perfect combination for entertaining guests. First we pile deep fried bread dough with taco toppings and enjoy. Then for dessert, we slather on vanilla frosting and sprinkle cinnamon on top of the fried bread and call them elephant ears. No one can come to an agreement on which is better. The beauty of it all is that you don't have to decide. One recipe with two toppings are sure to make you say "uff-da" after enjoying them.
Deep Fried Tacos
1-2 Frozen bread dough loaf
Taco toppings
Vegetable oil
Take frozen bread dough out of the freezer and let thaw in a short rimmed pan or large plate according to directions (or approximately 4 hours). Heat vegetable oil in deep fryer to 400 F. Using a serrated knife, cut loaf into 8 sections. Using your hands, stretch dough into 4-6" circles. Using tongs, place dough in deep fryer, turning occasionally until golden brown (about 2 minutes). Remove dough and let drain on paper towels. Top with seasoned ground beef and all of your favorite taco toppings.
*Note: when we first started making these we used frozen bread dough like stated above, I prefer using a basic homemade bread dough when I have time.
Vanilla Frosting for Elephant Ears
1/2 stick butter, softened
2 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1-2 Tbs. milk
In a medium bowl, beat above ingredients until smooth adding more milk or powdered sugar to achieve the right consistency as needed. Spread frosting on fried bread dough and sprinkle with cinnamon.
Tip: Deep fry outside or in your garage if possible to keep your house from smelling like grease. : )

Monday, April 19, 2010

Fancy Sauce (for burgers)

I spent the past weekend Up North - an extremely relaxing get away to my hometown. While I was there we soaked up a perfect Saturday on Cable Lake. The weather was beautiful, the lake, like glass and to end the perfect day, everyone gathered around the fire pit. Since I was too busy playing with my 10 month old nephew, I could not waste any time in the kitchen. I did contribute one thing to our fabulous meal at the lake: fancy sauce. (I hope you are picking up on my sarcasm.) Fancy sauce is the perfect topping to any burger. It is simple and easy - a must for any Minnesota barbeque.
Fancy Sauce
1/4 c. mayo
4 Tbs. ketchup
3 Tbs. dill pickle, minced
1/4 tsp. black pepper
In a small bow, mix all ingredients. Refrigerate at least one hour before serving. Spread on burgers and enjoy!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Chicken Lettuce Wraps

I love the lettuce wraps at P.F.Chang's and after several failed attempts to eat there in the past couple of weeks I decided to make my own version at home. I am so glad I did! Lettuce cups are the perfect house for the slightly sweet, garlic, ginger chicken. The chicken filling is packed full of great flavors. About a year ago, I had never purchased real ginger root from the grocery store. Now I try to think of more meals that I can make with ginger. These chicken lettuce wraps could be a great appetizer, but they also make a light and delicious mid-week dinner.
Note: I added stir fry rice noodles to this dish but we didn't love the texture in the lettuce wrap so I am leaving them out of the recipe below.
Chicken Lettuce Wraps
2 chicken breasts, chopped
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 bunch green onions, sliced
2 Tbs. fresh ginger, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 c. mushrooms, chopped
8 oz can water chestnuts, chopped
4 Tbs. soy sauce
1 Tbs. sweet and sour sauce
2 Tbs. rice wine vinegar
1 Tbs. lemon juice
2 Tbs. brown sugar
1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
2 Tbs. ketchup
1 Tbs. dijon mustard
Crisp lettuce
Heat oil in a wok or large skillet, add chicken and season with salt and pepper. Stir occasionally until chicken is cooked through. Remove chicken from pan and set aside. Add onions, ginger, garlic, mushrooms and water chestnuts and saute for 2-3 minutes over medium-high heat. In a separate bowl, whisk together: soy sauce, sweet and sour sauce, rice wine vinegar, lemon juice, brown sugar, red pepper flakes, ketchup and mustard. Pour sauce in pan with the sauted vegetables and add chicken. Simmer for 5 minutes and then scoop into large pieces of lettuce.
Printable Recipe

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Sundried Tomato Pasta Salad

I love making cold pasta salads when it is warm outside. They are easy to make, can change with whatever ingredients you have on hand,  are a great side dish for dinner and pack up nicely for lunch the next day. For these reasons, you can look forward to many pasta salads in the upcoming months! When making this dish and others like it, remember that the pasta will continue to absorb whatever dressing/sauce you put on it. I like to add a little extra dressing when I know that the pasta will be sitting in the refrigerator overnight. Unfortunately I forgot to measure ingredients while I was making this so please use the recipe below as a starting point.
Sundried Tomato Pasta Salad
1/2 box bowtie pasta
2 tomatoes, chopped
3 Tbs. red onion, diced
1/4 c. pepperoni slices, quartered
3-5 Tbs. olive oil
1/2 c. sundried tomato vinaigrette dressing
1/4 c. shredded parmesan cheese
Boil pasta until al dente. Drain and rinse in cold water. In a large bowl combine all ingredients and toss until well combined. Season to taste.
Printable Recipe

Monday, April 12, 2010

White Chicken Chili

Today I am thinking of my amazing grandma Juliette. She raised 16 children, farmed along side my grandpa, grew a fabulous garden, canned everything possible, prepared everything from scratch and did it all with such grace that she touched everyone who knew her. I am always connected to her when I am in the kitchen. She taught my mom (who taught me) that after practice, you can set food in the oven without a timer and somehow you will know when it is done; how bread dough is ready when it "feels" right; and how a little of "this" and a little of "that" that can transform basic ingredients into a wonderful meal.  She taught me to trust myself in the kitchen. Today I made white chicken chili for the first time - I didn't have a recipe and I didn't need one. "No one who cooks, cooks alone. Even at her most solitary, a cook in the kitchen is surrounded by generations of cooks past, the advice and menus of cooks present, the wisdom of cookbook writers." - Laurie Colwin
White Chicken Chili
2 c. chicken breast
1 onion
2 garlic cloves
2 cans chicken broth
4 oz can green chilies
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1 can white northern beans
1-2 Tbs. flour
4 Tbs. milk
3/4 c. heavy cream
Drizzle a tablespoon of olive oil in a medium soup pot and cook chicken over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Add onion and garlic and cook an additional 3-5 minutes. Add chicken broth, chilies, nutmeg, cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper and simmer for 15 minutes. In a liquid measuring cup, whisk flour and milk until well blended. Slowly pour milk mixture into simmering soup and stir (soup will thicken). Add beans and heavy cream. Season to taste.
We topped with crushed tortilla chips and shredded cheese.
Printable Recipe

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Ham & Hashbrowns

What to do with leftover Easter ham?? I started thinking of all the possibilities a couple of weeks ago and got so excited. Split pea soup...omelets...leftover ham sandwiches...yum. Then my week got busy, I didn't have my menu planned out, and I needed to use my leftover ham in a hurry. With only a short window of time to cook in, and no plan, I threw together this ham and hashbrown casserole. It was no split pea soup but it was a comforting casserole during a hectic week which was perfect.
Ham & Hashbrowns
1 lb. shredded hashbrowns
1 1/2 c. cubed ham
1 c. shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 c. milk
1 can cream of celery soup
small onion, diced
1/2 c. sour cream
Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Pour into a buttered casserole dish and bake at 375 uncovered for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Boston Cream Pie Cups

Last month we had a fun birthday dinner for my Mother-in-law Trish and Mary, my brother-in-law's girlfriend, brought the birthday cake. Trish loves Boston Cream Pie and I am so glad the Vossen family introduced me to it.  Mary made these extra-special by assembling the cake in personal serving cups. I just loved them - they are just so cute and very tasty. I had to take a picture and get the recipe to pass on to all of you.
*Note the recipe below is for a whole cake but Mary cubed the cooled cake and assembled in cups.

1 c. + 2 tablespoons of sifted cake flour
2/3 c. sugar
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ c. milk
¼ c. cooking oil
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
Pastry Crème filling
2 c. whole milk
½ vanilla bean cut lengthwise seeds scraped out
6 egg yolks
2/3 c. sugar
¼ c. cornstarch
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
8 oz. semi sweet chocolate
1 c. heavy cream boiling
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium mixing bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Add milk, oil, egg yolks, and vanilla. Beat with an electric mixer on low to medium speed until combined. Beat an additional 3 minutes on high speed and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, beat egg whites and cream of tartar on medium to high speed until soft peaks form. Pour the egg yolk mixture over the egg white mixture and fold in. Gently pour the batter into a 9-inch greased pie pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until the top springs back when lightly touched. Invert the pan onto a wire rack. Cool completely.
Pastry Cream Filling
In a medium saucepan, heat the milk and vanilla bean to a boil over medium heat. Immediately turn off the heat and set aside to infuse for 10 to 15 minutes. In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Add the cornstarch and whisk vigorously until no lumps remain. Whisk in 1/4 cup of the hot milk mixture until incorporated. Whisk in the remaining hot milk mixture, reserving the empty saucepan.
Pour the mixture through a strainer back into the saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, until thickened and slowly boiling. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter. Let cool slightly. Cover with plastic wrap, lightly pressing the plastic against the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Chill at least 2 hours or until ready to serve. (The custard can be made up to 24 hours in advance. Refrigerate until 1 hour before using.)
In a medium bowl, pour the boiling cream over the chopped chocolate and stir until melted.
To assemble pie, remove the cake from the pan. Cut the cake in half horizontally. Place bottom layer on a serving plate or board, and spread with the pastry cream. Top with second cake layer. Pour chocolate ganache over and down the sides of the cake. Store in refrigerator.

Printable Recipe

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Fudgy Brownies

If you need a good brownie recipe, look no further. These brownies are the best! I have to give a lot of credit to wonderful ingredients. I use a high quality dark chocolate cocoa powder with a natural high fat content. I also use my new favorite pantry staple: Vanilla Paste. You can purchase this vanilla paste at many food specialty or spice stores. It is the consistency of honey and contains the wonderful center of Madagascar vanilla beans. These brownies are moist and topped with the best frosting. I like to frost my brownies while they are warm so the frosting melts and becomes part of the brownie. Be warned, a pan of these fudgy brownies will not last long in your house!

Fudgy Brownies
1/2 c butter
1 c white sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 c unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 c flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder

3 Tbs butter, softened
3 Tbs unsweetened cocoa powder
1 Tbs honey
1 tsp vanilla
1 c powdered sugar
1 Tbs milk

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease and flour an 8" square pan and set aside. In a medium saucepan, melt butter. Remove from heat, and stir in sugar, eggs, vanilla. Beat in cocoa, flour, salt, and baking powder. Spread batter into prepared pan. Bake at 350 F for 25 to 30 minutes. Do not overbake!

To Make Frosting: Mix all ingredients in a small bowl. Frost brownies while they are still warm.
Recipe from www.allrecipes.com
Printable Recipe

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Lemon Meringue Pie

Happy Easter!! We enjoyed a weekend of family, fun and good food in the kitchen. My sister-in-law and I made this lemon meringue pie yesterday for our Easter meal today. I suggest when you go to make this dessert, you have a friend in the kitchen to help. Since there are a few steps involved (the crust, the lemon curd and then meringue) it is nice to have an extra set of hands. (Thanks Ethan!!) The extra work is worth it when you cut your fork through the soft pillow of meringue into a burst of refreshing, sweet-yet-tart lemon filling. Yum.
Flaky Pie Crust
5 Tbs. cold butter
3 Tbs. cold Crisco
1 1/3 c. flour
1 Tbs sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
4 Tbs ice water
In a large bowl, mix flour, sugar and salt. Scatter butter and shortening over the flour and toss to coat. Using a pastry cutter, cut mixture until it forms pea size crumbles. Drizzle water over the mixture and mix until dough is evenly moist and starts to come together. On a floured work surface, form dough into a disk and refrigerate for an hour. Take chilled dough out and roll out onto a floured work surface and place in pie pan. Using a fork, pierce dough a couple of times in the pan and then bake at 400 F for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Set pan on a wire rack and let cool.
Lemon Curd
1 c. sugar
2 Tbs. grated lemon zest
1 1/2 c. water
1/4 c. cornstarch
1/4 tsp. salt
5 lg. egg yolks
1/2 c. lemon juice
1/4 c. unsalted butter at room temp.
In a medium sauce pan, whisk together sugar, lemon zest, water, cornstarch and salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, whisking constantly and boil for 1 minute. Remove pan from heat. Whisk together egg yolks and lemon juice in a medium bowl. Add 1/2 c. of the hot cornstarch mixture to the yolk mixture and blend. Now take the yolk mixture and add it to the saucepan of cornstarch mixture and return to medium-high heat. Boil mixture for 1 minute or until thick. Remove from heat and pour filling through a strainer into a bowl and whisk in the butter. Fill the cooled pie shell with the hot filling.

1/2 c. sugar
1 Tbs. plus 1 tsp. cornstarch
1/2 c. cold water
4 lg egg whites at room temperature
pinch of salt
In a small saucepan, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch and water and bring to a boil, stirring constantly over high heat and boil for 1 minute. Transfer mixture to a glass measuring cup (one with a spout).  Using an electric mixture, beat the egg whites on medium speed until foamy. Add salt and increase speed to medium-high and beat to form soft peaks. Pour cornstarch mixture in a fine stream while the beaters are running and continue beating until stiff peaks are formed. Top the pie filling with the meringue mixture with a rubber spatula and seal all of the filling in with the meringue. Form swirls in the meringue with a small spoon. Bake at 350 F for 15-17 minutes or until top is golden brown. Cool on a wire rack and serve.
Mom's Lemon Meringue Pie recipe from "Luscious Lemon Desserts"
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Thursday, April 1, 2010

Shredded Chicken Tacos

Shredded chicken tacos make for a great dinner. I like that I can make up the meat in advance and then keep it in the refrigerator for easy re-heat and a delicious meal. I also like the texture of shredded chicken in my tacos as a nice change of pace to ground beef. We made these with soft shell tortillas tonight, but hard shell is my favorite. Leftovers can also be frozen and then used when you want to make a plate of nachos on a Saturday night.
Shredded Chicken Tacos
1 lb. shredded chicken breast
1/2 c. onion
1 Tbs. oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
3/4 c. prepared enchilada sauce
flour tortillas
cheddar cheese, shredded
tomatoes, diced
lettuce, shredded
sour cream
In a medium frying pan, add olive oil, onion and garlic. Saute until tender. Add chicken, seasonings and enchilada sauce. Simmer 15 minutes and add seasoning to taste. Top with your favorite taco toppings.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Philly Cheese Burgers

It is quite clear that summer is right around the corner and who isn't happy about that?! I get so excited for summer, for many reasons but one is for the great food that goes along with it. The fresh produce from the market, the fresh herbs from my mini-garden, and all of the wonderful grilling. We like to grill burgers but since I have already posted my standard burger recipe (see the Juicy Lucy) I am forced to try different variations. This is good for you the reader, and good for us the eaters. This recipe is inspired by the Philly Cheese steak. Take your basic burger and add caramelized onions and sauted peppers. Serve with a glass of lemonade and welcome summer!

Philly Cheese Burgers
1/4 lb hamburger patties (any way you like them)
1/2 green bell pepper
1/2 red or orange bell pepper
1 small yellow onion
2 Tbs. butter
1 Tbs. olive oil
1/4 tsp. chicago steak seasoning
1/2 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
slices of provolone cheese

Start pepper and onion topping a bit before grilling your burgers.
Slice and saute peppers and onions and add them to a large skillet with olive oil and butter over medium heat. Add seasonings and balsamic vinegar. Cook until peppers are tender but not soggy. Place peppers on top of a grilled burgers and add a slice of provolone cheese. Top with a toasted bun to melt cheese.
Inspired by Bobby Flay
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Monday, March 29, 2010

Buttermilk Pancakes

Against my better judgment, I admit that I have purchased pancake mix in a box. The box can be so inviting..."Just add water"...or "Shake and pour for fabulous pancakes in minutes". They are right, you can mix up batter in minutes and have hot pancakes in a hurry. Luckily, most of us cover our pancakes in maple syrup so we do not even notice what these quick pancakes are missing. Next time you are making a special breakfast, my suggestions is that you forego your usual pancake recipe and try a batch of these homemade buttermilk pancakes. This recipe is just how you expect a pancake should taste. Soft and fluffy centers with a lightly crisped rim around the edge. What more is there to say? These pancakes are simply the best. (Sorry maple syrup, you are no longer needed at our table.)

Buttermilk Pancakes
From Martha Stewart
2 c. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3 Tbs. sugar
2 lg eggs
3 c. buttermilk
4 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted
orange zest
butter or bacon grease (preferred) for greasing your griddle

Combine all dry ingredient in a medium-sized bowl and set aside. In a separate small bowl, lightly beat eggs and add buttermilk, melted butter and the zest of 1/2 an orange. Get your griddle hot (if you have an electric griddle set temp to 375 F). You do not want this batter to sit combined for too long, so right before you are ready to pour out your pancakes, combine the wet and dry ingredients. Mix until just combined - batter will be lumpy. Using a ladle, pour out pancakes on greased skillet. Do not flip until pancakes form bubbles. (I only flip my pancakes one time to keep them fluffy.)
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Sunday, March 28, 2010

Creamy Penne & Mushrooms

We love trying new pasta dishes.  After making this creamy penne meal we decided it would have to be one of the Vossen house favorites from now on. It is such a basic recipe that I can see myself making adjustments here and there in the future to accommodate whatever foods I have on hand. This recipe calls for sun-dried tomatoes but I made my own version which I like even better. I take a can of diced tomatoes and drain them; spread them out on a baking sheet; lightly drizzle them with olive oil and then bake them at 375 F for 30 minutes. These tomatoes are lighter than sun-dried and are like a little burst of candy in this dish.
Creamy Penne & Mushrooms
Recipe slightly changed from "Perfect Italian"
4 Tbs. butter
1 Tbs. olive oil
1/2 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb. cremini or baby bella mushrooms, sliced
1 Tbs. flour
1 c. heavy cream or half & half
4 oz. sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained & chopped*
1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 c. shredded parmesan cheese
12 oz. penne
2 Tbs. fresh parsley, chopped
Start a large pot of salted water and bring to a boil for your pasta. Meanwhile, in a separate large sauce pan, melt butter and olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and cook until tender. Add mushrooms and cook for 2-3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle flour over mushrooms. Stir for a minute more. Turn heat to low and add cream and nutmeg stirring occasionally for 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook an additional 3-5 minutes. Add cooked pasta to the mushrooms sauce and mix with cheese and parsley - serve immediately.
*I used 14.5 oz diced canned tomatoes, drained, and placed on a baking sheet. Drizzle tomatoes with olive oil and bake at 375 F for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
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Friday, March 26, 2010

Chicken Tortilla Soup

I love chicken tortilla soup!  This is a quick and easy soup that is just a little bit spicy but cooled off with wonderful toppings. I cut flour tortillas into strips and add them right before serving. They thicken the soup and turn into a soft noodle. To add contrast to the soft tortillas I top the soup with crunchy tortilla chips. I was especially excited to make this tonight because bought queso fresco for the first time. (I will be buying it again.) This mexican crumble cheese was smooth creamy. It was perfect for this soup and I am excited to try it on refried beans.
Chicken Tortilla Soup
2 c. shredded chicken (cooked)
1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes with green chilies
1 onion, diced
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1 14 oz. can chicken broth
2 large flour tortillas, cut in small strips
tortilla chips
sour cream
green onions
queso fresco or monterey jack cheese
Drizzle a little olive oil in a small soup pan. Add diced onion and garlic and season with salt & pepper. Stir over medium heat until translucent. Add crushed red pepper, tomatoes, chicken broth and chicken. Simmer on low for 15 minutes. Immediately before serving, add tortilla strips and ladle soup into bowls. Top with crushed tortilla chips, sour cream, green onions and cheese.
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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Sour Cream Coffee Cake

I was picking up a coffee and pastry treat the other day and it hit me - I have completely forgotten about making coffee cake! When I was younger, we made coffee cake all of the time. My family took turns with others in our church to provide the "coffee and bars" (try saying that without a Minnesotan accent!) for after-church socializing. My mom would always try to come up with different coffee cake recipes to keep things interesting. My favorite was a sour cream coffee cake. While my mom made every coffee cake from scratch I am using Bisquick because it makes baking so quick and easy when time is of the essence. The sour cream makes this cake moist and the streusel topping gives it the crumble that you look for in a good coffee cake.
Sour Cream Coffee Cake
1 1/2 c. Bisquick baking mix
1/2 c. sugar
2 Tbs. butter, softened
1 egg
3/4 c. sour cream
1/2 tsp. orange zest
1 tsp. vanilla
Streusel (below)
Grease square 8x8 pan and set aside. Mix all ingredients except streusel in a medium bowl until batter is smooth. Spread half of the mixture in your prepared pan and sprinkle with 1/2 of the streusel mixture below. Spread the remaining half of the batter in the pan and top with remaining streusel. Bake  about 35 minutes at 350 F. Cool slightly before cutting.
5 Tbs. firm butter, sliced
1/2 c. Bisquick baking mix
1/4. c. finely chopped pecans
4 Tbs. sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/8 tsp. allspice
pinch of ginger
pinch of cloves
Cut  butter with the remaining streusel ingredients with a pastry cutter until crumbly.
Printable Recipe

Monday, March 22, 2010

Southern Fried Chicken

When I have a really good fried chicken dinner like we had tonight, I daydream that my grandmother is really Paula Deen and that every Sunday afternoon we enjoy her Southern comfort food. Luckily for our cholesterol levels, she is not. In reality, we do not actually eat this greasy of food every day, so when we splurge, we can really appreciate it. This recipe is Art Smith's and he knows how to make extra crispy chicken that is unbelievably moist. (Buttermilk is the key!) I love this chicken when it is hot out of the fry pan and when it is cold the next day.
Fried Chicken
3 1/2 lb chicken, cut into 8 pieces
2 c. buttermilk
1 tsp. salt
vegetable oil for frying
1 c. flour
1/2 tsp. sweet paprika
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
In a large bowl, pour buttermilk over chicken and sprinkle with salt. Toss until chicken is well coated - cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. Heat 1" of vegetable oil in a large deep skillet or cast iron pan over medium heat until a deep-fry thermometer reaches 360 degrees. In a shallow dish, mix flour and seasonings. Using tongs, remove chicken from buttermilk and dip into flour mixture. Shake off excess flour and place in hot oil. Turn chicken occasionally until golden brown and cooked through. Chicken should have an internal temperature of 165 F. Drain chicken on paper towels.
Note: Smaller pieces of chicken work best for frying. When I made this, the larger chicken breasts and thighs needed additional baking at 375 (about 15 minutes) in the oven to get to the right temperature. This could have also been because my oil was a bit too hot.
Recipe from Art Smith, featured in April 2010 Food Network Magazine.
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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Good Meatloaf

Meatloaf became popular during the depression as an economical meal to feed your family and it has remained an American staple ever since. I know every family has their own spin on this comfort food and everyone probably thinks their mom makes it the best. My mom uses oatmeal or crushed saltines in her recipe but I like using bread crumbs. The beauty of making this meal is really almost anything works. You can be creative with what you use to flavor this dish. I used to bake this in a loaf pan but I have switched to forming it into a log shaped with my hands on a sheet pan since it is easier to cut and serve. This meat loaf is full of flavor and just plain good.
1 lb. ground beef
1/3 c. unseasoned bread crumbs
1/2 small onion, diced
1 small clove garlic, minced
1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbs. Heinz 57 sauce
1 egg
1/4 c. ketchup (for topping)
Combine all ingredients (except ketchup) in a large bowl. Using your hands form mixture into a loaf and place on a baking sheet (or fill a loaf pan if you choose).Top with ketchup and bake at 375 F for 45-55 minutes.
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Friday, March 19, 2010

Chocolate Fondue

This is less of a recipe and more of a great dessert idea for the next time you entertain. I love how simple melted chocolate and fruit can be for a wonderful dessert. If you have a fondue pot, you can take the dessert experience to a new level. I find that guests like to get involved and have fun with their food, and fondue is the perfect way for them to do this. As a host, the only work you have to do is preparing your fruit which makes for easy entertaining. If you do not have a fondue pot you can still melt chocolate in a small sauce pan and then serve immediately. Do you fondue? We do!
Dark Chocolate Fondue
2 c. good quality chocolate
1/2 c. heavy cream
1/2 vanilla bean
Set fondue pot to low setting (I have an electric pot) and add all ingredients. Stir occasionally until melted. Serve with...well anything goes! My suggestions below:
Pound Cake