Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Roast Beef

I had never made roast beef before.  I have cooked roasts in a slow-cooker plenty of times, but this is the kind of roast beef that you slice into thin slices and eat with mashed potatoes, or on a sandwich.  It was so good.  My kids, who aren't big beef eaters, loved this.  They asked for seconds, then thirds, then fourths.  They even asked for it again for lunch, which is unheard of.  It really is so good. Give it a try.  But be aware, you'll need to plan ahead for this one.  It's not at all difficult, but it takes some time.  But Boy, is it worth it!

Roast Beef
Recipe from America's Test Kitchen

1 boneless eye-round or top-round roast (2 1/2 - 4 1/2 lbs)
Kosher salt (1 T for 2 1/2 - 3 1/2 lb roast; 4 tsp for 3 1/2 - 4 1/2 lb roast)
2 tsp vegetable oil, plus 1 T oil for cooking
Freshly ground black pepper (1 1/2 tsp for 2 1/2 - 3 1/2 lb roast; 2 tsp for 3 1/2 - 4 1/2 lb roast)

Sprinkle all the sides of roast evenly with salt.  Wrap roast in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 18 to 24 hours.
Heat oven to 225F.  Pat roast dry with paper towels; rub with 2 tsp oil.  Sprinkle all sides evenly with pepper.
Heat remaining tablespoon oil in a skillet over medium-high heat until smoking.  Sear roast until browned on all sides, about 2 minutes per side.  Transfer roast to a wire rack set in a rimmed baking sheet.  Roast in the 225F oven until a thermometer inserted into the center of the roast registers 125-degrees F, about 1 1/4 - 1 3/4 hours.
Turn oven off, but leave roast in oven, without opening door, until temperature of meat reaches at least 130 degrees (medium-rare) or 140 degrees(medium), about 30-50 minutes longer.  Transfer roast to carving board and let rest 15 minutes before carving.  Slice meat crosswise as thinly as possible and serve.
The leftovers make great sandwiches.  Try topping a pile of sliced roast beef with mango chutney for an amazing sandwich!
Serves 6-8.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Buttery Scones

I love scones.  I have already posted my favorite blueberry scone recipe, and this one is similar, but without the berries.  Half my kids don't like blueberries, so I have to make plain scones for them sometimes, too.  We like to eat them with jam. 

Buttery Scones
Recipe adapted from Good Housekeeping

3 1/3 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 T baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
6 T cold butter
1 cup whole milk
2 large eggs, beaten
1 T whole milk
1 T sugar

Preheat oven to 400F. Grease a cookie sheet.
Using a box grater, grate the butter.  Put in freezer until ready to use.
In a large bowl, mix flour, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Add in grated butter and mix lightly with your hands until butter is evenly distributed. 
In a small bowl, combine 1 cup milk and eggs. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in milk mixture.  Stir until just combined.
Turn dough onto prepared cookie sheet (dough will be sticky).  Using floured hands, pat dough into a 9-inch circle.  Brush 1 T milk over the surface of the dough, and sprinkle with remaining 1 T sugar.  With floured knife, cut into 8 wedges, but do not separate.
Bake at 400F for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown.  Let cool 5 minutes or completely before serving. 
Makes 8 large scones.

Cedar Grilled Salmon

By the time we remembered to take a photo, this was all that was left!
I don't eat fish.  This is something you have to know about me.  My husband is always trying to get me to eat fish, and I obligingly try it, and don't like it.  But this fish I almost liked.  I certainly didn't have a problem finishing my entire steak, and if I hadn't known it was fish I probably would have eaten it without any problem.  My husband assures me it was fantastic.  Try it, and tell me what you think.  By the way, if you don't have a cedar plank, you can grill this without it, it just won't have that smoky flavor.

Cedar Grilled Salmon

1 T chili powder
2 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp olive oil
4 salmon steaks, 3/4-inch thick (8 oz each)
cedar plank for grilling

4 hours before grilling, submerge the cedar plank in water.  Let soak for 4 hours.
Prepare grill.  In small bowl combine chili powder, brown sugar, cumin, thyme, salt, ginger and oil.  Rub on all sides of salmon steaks.
Place the cedar plank on the grill and turn the heat to medium-high.  Place salmon steaks on the plank and close the top of the grill to create that delicious cedar smoke.  Grill until just opaque throughout, about 10 minutes (when grilling on a plank you don't need to flip the meat).
If not using the cedar plank, grill 4 minutes per side.
Serves 4.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Ginger Cake

I have to start by saying that this is NOT gingerbread.  The flavor and texture is nothing like gingerbread.  It is ginger cake, and so it tastes like ginger and spices, not like molasses and spices (which is what the main flavor in gingerbread is).  It is so delicious.  The texture is very light and moist, and despite the copious amounts of ginger in it, the flavor is not at all overpowering.  It's a perfect blend of ginger, spices, and a touch of sweetness.  It would be great as a teacake, or since ginger is so good for digestion, you can eat it with abandon as a dessert.  Serve with a dollop of whipped cream on top, if you prefer.

Ginger Cake
Recipe by Susan Wittig Albert

1 cup butter
1 1/4 cups brown sugar, packed
2 1/2 cups flour
4 tsp baking powder
4 tsp ground ginger
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
4 eggs
1/4 cup grated fresh ginger root
Zest of half a lemon
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup milk
Powdered sugar, for dusting

Preheat oven to 350F.  Grease and flour a 9" Bundt pan.  In a large mixing bowl, beat together sugar and butter until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes, scraping down the sides occasionally.  In a separate medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, ground ginger, cinnamon, and salt.  Set aside. 
When the butter and sugar are light and fluffy, beat in eggs one at a time, then stir in the grated ginger root, lemon zest, and vanilla.  Beat in flour mixture alternately with the milk, mixing until just incorporated.  Pour batter into prepared pan.  Bake at 350F for 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.  Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then invert onto serving plate.  Dust lightly with powdered sugar before serving.

Serves 10-12.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

BBQ Chicken Pizza

I love BBQ Chicken Pizza.  When I go to one of those fancy pizza restaurants it's always what I order.  When my sister-in-law Natalie mentioned that the Slow-Cooker BBQ Chicken from the previous post was great on pizza, I thought, "I have to make that!"  Most of the ingredients for the pizza are the same as the sandwiches, so save some of everything if you want to make the pizza later on in the week.  Of course, you could always just make the chicken for the pizza, too!

BBQ Chicken Pizza

2 cups BBQ Chicken
Pizza dough (see recipe below)
1/2 cup whole milk
4 T melted butter
1 T flour
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (the real stuff, people, not the kind in the green can)
2-3 T chopped red onion
1-2 T chopped cilantro
1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
Corn meal

Preheat oven to 425F.  Sprinkle corn meal in a 10" circle on a baking sheet.  Roll out pizza dough into a 10" circle and place on baking sheet.  Refrigerate until needed.
In a small saucepan, combine milk, butter, flour, garlic powder, salt, and black pepper.  Turn heat to medium-high and whisk continuously until mixture begins to bubble and turns thick.  Remove from heat and whisk in Parmesan cheese.
Remove pizza crust from refrigerator.  Spread warm milk mixture over crust.  Top generously with BBQ chicken, then red onion and cilantro.  Finally, top with shredded mozzarella cheese.
Pizza can be refrigerated until ready to use, or baked immediately.
Bake at 425F for 15 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and slightly brown. 

Pizza Dough
Makes 2 10-inch pizza crusts

1 1/2 cups warm water
1 tsp sugar
1 T yeast
1/2 tsp salt
3 1/2 - 4 cups flour (I use 2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour, and the rest white, or you can use all white)

In a mixer combine water, sugar, yeast, and salt.  Add 3 1/2 cups flour and stir well.  If dough is very wet and doesn't come away from the sides of the bowl, add additional 1/2 cup flour.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 1 hour.  After 1 hour, turn onto lightly floured surface and divide dough into two.  Form into pizza crusts, add toppings, and bake at 425F for 15 minutes.
Makes 2 crusts.

BBQ Chicken Sandwiches

These are so amazingly delicious.  We had them at my sister-in-law Natalie's house a few weeks ago and I made them again the next week because I'd been thinking about them non-stop.  I really think that it's the combination of toppings that makes it so amazing.  You can double this recipe and save some of the leftovers for BBQ Chicken Pizza, which I'll post next. 

Slow-Cooker BBQ Chicken Sandwiches

3 chicken breasts
Your favorite BBQ sauce
1/4 cup honey
1 T mustard
1/2 tsp garlic powder
Sandwich buns
Chopped cilantro
Chopped red onion
Avocado slices

Place chicken in slow-cooker.  Pour over enough BBQ sauce to coat chicken.  In a small bowl combine honey, mustard, and garlic powder.  Pour over chicken.  Cook on low for 3-4 hours.  Shred chicken 1 hour before serving.

To serve, place shredded chicken on sandwich bun.  Top with cilantro, red onion, and avocado slices.  Enjoy!
Serves 6.

Cumberland Sausage Rolls

Have you ever made your own sausage?  It's actually easier than you would think, and since you're making it yourself, you can adjust the flavors to suit your taste.  This recipe is from the mystery book series "Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter" by Susan Wittig Albert.  I recommend the books as a fun read, and there are lots of recipes in the back of each one.  My kids loved this recipe, and I'll definitely be making it again!

Cumberland Sausage Rolls
Recipe by Susan Wittig Albert

1 lb ground pork (or turkey or chicken)
1 egg
3-4 T dry breadcrumbs
1 tsp dry sage
1/2 tsp dry thyme
1/2 tsp dry savory or tarragon
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1 T oil
Pie pastry, enough for 2 pies (see recipe below)

Mix pork, egg, breadcrumbs, and herbs.  Divide the mixture into 4 parts, then divide each part into 4 parts so you have 32 equal pieces.  Roll sausages into 4-inch-long cigar shapes.  Heat oil in skillet over medium or medium-high heat.  Fry sausages until nicely browned.  Set aside to cool.

Roll out half pastry into a circle 1/8" thick.  Cut into 16 wedges.  Place a sausage at the wide end of a wedge and roll up.  Place point-side down on a baking sheet.  When 16 rolls have been completed, roll out second pastry and repeat directions.  Refrigerate rolls until just before you're ready to eat, then bake at 400F for 15 minutes, or until pastry is lightly browned.  Serve immediately.

Pie Pastry
Makes enough for 2 pies

2 1/2 cups flour (you can include up to 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour if desired)
1/2 tsp salt
8 T cold butter (1/2 cup or 1 stick), cut into small pieces 
4 T shortening or lard
6-8 T ice water

Place flour and salt in a food processor.  Process to combine.  Add butter and shortening and process until mixture resembles a coarse meal.  Add 6 T ice water, process until dough comes together.  If dough doesn't come together, add more water a teaspoon at a time.  Divide dough into two equal pieces and wrap each in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes or freeze for 10-15.  Roll and bake as directed.

Greek Steak Pitas with Dill Sauce

This is a great quick dinner.  You can make the dill sauce, or use hummus instead. Both are delicious!

Greek Steak Pitas

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tsp dried oregano (or even better 1 tsp Herbs de Provence)
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 flank steak
4 (6-inch) pitas, cut in half
Romaine lettuce leaves
Crumbled feta cheese

In a zip-top bag, combine lemon juice, oregano, black pepper, and garlic.  Add flank steak.  Marinate for 10 minutes (set a timer--the meat will begin to taste funny if you leave it too long!).  Grill steak over medium-high heat for 3 minutes per side, then turn heat to medium-low and grill an additional 3 minutes per side.  Let meat rest for 5 minutes, then slice into thin slices across the grain.
Fill each pita with lettuce and meat, dill sauce or hummus, and top with some feta cheese. 

Dill Sauce

1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/2 tsp dried dill
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 clove garlic, minced

Mix all ingredients in a medium bowl, and refrigerate until ready to use.

Noodle Dessert (a.k.a. Frog-Eye Salad)

One of the first things I had when I was meeting my husband's family (before he was my husband) was what they called Noodle Dessert.  As soon as I tasted it I knew that I had to get into this family.  It was heaven.  It's still one of my favorite things to eat, and when I make it I have to use great restraint to save any for anyone else.  YUM!  I've since found out that it's pretty much the same thing as Frog-Eye Salad, though I think Noodle Dessert is a much more pleasant name!

Noodle Dessert

1 20-oz can pineapple chunks (reserve liquid)
1 8-oz can crushed pineapple (reserve liquid)
2 small cans or 1 large can Mandarin oranges (reserve liquid)
2/3 cup sugar
2 T flour
1/4 tsp salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp lemon juice
8 oz cool whip, or 1 pint of whipping cream, whipped
8 oz acine de pepe pasta
1 tsp salt
1 tsp oil

Drain all the fruit, reserving the liquid.  You'll need a total of 1 3/4 cups liquid.  Measure the pineapple juices first, then add the orange juices until you get 1 3/4 cups. 
Pour 1 3/4 cups juices into a medium saucepan.  Stir in sugar, flour, 1/4 salt, and eggs.  Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until thick.  Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice. Place a piece of plastic wrap right on the surface of the pudding and refrigerate until cool, about 2 hours.
Heat 2 quarts water and 1 tsp salt in a medium saucepan until boiling.  Cook acini de pepe for 8 minutes (ignore directions on box), then drain and rinse in cold water.  Immediately add 1 tsp oil, and toss until well-coated.  Set aside to cool.
When all ingredients are cool, pour pudding into a large serving bowl.  Stir in fruit and cool whip (or whipping cream), and stir well until combined.  Add the acini de pepe and stir well.  Refrigerate for several hours or overnight before serving.
Serves 8-10 as a side dish or dessert.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Thai Pork Lettuce Wraps

It's no secret that I love Thai food.  This recipe is similar to the lettuce wraps that you can order at PF Chang's, but is a Thai version instead of Chinese.  They're slightly different, but still delicious.  It makes enough to serve six adults as an appetizer, or a family of six as a main course if four of them are under the age of 7.  My kids love these!  They're a little spicy, a little sweet, and little tangy, all wrapped up in a crispy lettuce leaf.  Delicious!

A note on the chili peppers--they're potent!  Take extreme caution when cutting them, and don't touch your face until after you've scrubbed your hands with soap and water.

Thai Pork Lettuce Wraps

1 T minced garlic
2 Thai chilies, seeded and finely chopped (it doesn't matter if they're red or green)
1 Tbs ground coriander*
1 Tbs grated fresh ginger root, or 1 tsp ground dried ginger
3 Tbs canola or vegetable oil
1 Tbs hot water
1 lb lean ground pork
Zest of 1 lime, and 1 T of lime juice
2 Tbs fish sauce
1 tsp soft light brown sugar
2 Tbs coarsely chopped fresh cilantro*
Crisp iceberg lettuce leaves, to serve

In a food processor or blender place the garlic, chilies, coriander, ginger, oil, and water.  Process until smooth.  Transfer to a wok or large non-stick skillet.  Heat and stir the mixture over medium heat for 4 minutes.  Increase heat to medium-high and add the ground pork.  Stir-fry for 3 minutes, or until most of the pink is gone.  Add lime zest and juice, fish sauce, brown sugar, and cilantro. Continue to cook until the pork is cooked through and is mostly dry.
Serve in lettuce cups.  Garnish with cilantro leaves if desired.
Serves 6 as an appetizer.

*Did you know that cilantro and coriander are the same plant?  Cilantro is the leaves and stems and coriander is the seeds and roots.  In many countries, they're all just called coriander.

Valentine's Day Pancakes

Look at the sweet pancakes my fantastic husband made for Valentine's Day!  Isn't he great?

If you'd like my great pancake recipe (minus the food coloring!), it's here:

Buttermilk Pancakes

1 cup flour
2 T sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3 T butter, melted
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 1/4 cup buttermilk (NO SUBSTITUTIONS)

In a medium mixing bowl, combine all the dry ingredients.  Add the wet ingredients and mix until combined (may be slightly lumpy).  Heat your griddle over medium heat until water drops dance on top.  Use about 1/4 cup of batter for each pancake.  Cook until edges are dull and a few bubbles have popped on the surface of the pancake, then flip and cook 30 seconds on the other side.  Serve hot.
Makes about 12 pancakes.

A Lot of Meat

We recently went in with a friend and purchased a whole beef.  My portion of it was a quarter, which was plenty for the space we had available to store it in.  This is amazingly delicious, tender, and juicy fully-grass-fed no hormone real meat, folks.  And in case you were wondering what a quarter beef looks like, here's what it looked like on my table as I was sorting it all out:

Also in case you were wondering, that is about 133 pounds of beef, and consists of:

Chuck roasts (5), Short Ribs (1), rump roast (1), bottom round (1), sirloin top roast (1), soup meat (2), arm roast (1), T-Bone steaks (6), Sirloin steaks (4 very large--that's what my baby is grabbing in the picture), Porterhouse steaks (4), flank steak (1), brisket (1), top round (2), and ground beef (31 lbs). There were also bones and offals, but I declined to have those.

I'm curious to see how long this lasts my family of 6.  I'll keep you updated.  And if you see a few more beef recipes than normal, now you know why.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Homemade Fortune Cookies

I was looking around the Internet for some fun and easy things to do for Valentine's Day and saw this one on the ourbestbites.com blog.  It isn't too difficult but does require a little time.  Since I loved the look of it and had all the ingredients on hand, I thought I'd give it a try.  The first batch disappeared in no time, so the next day I made another double batch and packaged them up to give to the kids teachers  and some special friends for Valentine's Day.  I even had the kids help me write the fortunes and do the dipping and sprinkling.  You could, of course, do this for any event, since you write the fortunes!  You could dip them or not, as you like.

The recipe below is their recipe, but with all my comments and everything I learned while making so many of them!  Enjoy!

Homemade Fortune Cookies
adapted from Cooking Light

1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract (or you can use 1 tsp of vanilla and skip the almond)
2 egg whites (or you can substitute meringue powder, just follow directions on package)

Place all ingredients in food processor and blend to combine.  Place in container, cover, and chill for 1 hour or more.

Prepare fortunes, and have folded fortunes, a thin-edged metal spatula and a bowl close to the oven.

Preheat oven to 400F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat mat (or use a non-stick pan). Whatever you do to your pan, afterwords spray it lightly with cooking spray.  Believe me, this is essential. 

Using a teaspoon, spoon 1 teaspoon batter onto the baking sheet.  Spread into a 3-inch circle.  It will be very thin, almost like icing.  Repeat until you have 5 circles on a sheet (Even though you can fit more on your sheet, you won't be able to fold them fast enough before they get hard if you cook more than that at a time.  Trust me on this one!).  Bake at 400F for 4 1/2 to 5 minutes.  They should have brown edges but the middles should still be white.  Remove from oven and count to 15.  Using a sharp-edged spatula, carefully and quickly remove one cookie.  Flip over, place folded fortune in the middle, then fold cookie in half.  Hold edges together and pull the ends of the cookie down over the rim of a bowl to get the traditional fortune cookie look (see picture).  Hold for a few seconds until set, then move quickly on to the next cookie.  Repeat with remaining cookies.
You should really pinch with both fingers, but then I didn't have a hand to use the camera.

If desired, you can melt chocolate, almond bark, or candy melts and dip part of the cookie in.  Top with sprinkles, nuts, or bits of toffee for a more festive look.

Makes about 35 cookies.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Barbecue Beef Brisket

Brisket is one of the classic barbecue meats.  In fact, to be considered a "Master Barbecue Chef" you have to prove your worth with brisket.  Although it is a tough cut of meat, when cooked slowly it gets tender and juicy, and if you rub in some great seasonings and top it with barbecue sauce, it is heaven on earth!  You can slice it and eat it on its own, or put it on buns for a sandwich (with coleslaw, if you're in to that!).  Last night I served it with a side salad and some garlic mashed potatoes.  Tonight we'll have the leftovers as sandwiches.  Traditionally it's cooked in a pit, or a smoker.  This recipe bakes it in the oven, and I don't think it loses much from the difference except about 8 hours of cooking time! 

This recipe came originially from the cookbook, "Comfort Food Fix" by Ellie Krieger.  However, I've altered her recipe a bit to make the flavors (in my opinion) better, and simplified the instructions as well.

A note on the meat itself: brisket comes in different sizes.  If you get a true whole brisket it will be very large, as in about 14-inches long.  Sometimes butchers separate the brisket into two parts, which makes it about half that size.  This recipe is for the whole long brisket.  If your brisket is of the smaller variety, you may want to cut the recipe in half.

Barbecue Beef Brisket

Rub Ingredients:
2 Tbs sugar
1 Tbs chili powder
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Sauce Ingredients:
1/2 cup prepared yellow mustard
1/2 cup molasses
1/4 cup cider vinegar
2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp hot pepper sauce (Tabasco)
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Other ingredients:
One beef brisket, trimmed of excess fat if desired
2 T canola or vegetable oil
1/2 cup water

Combine all the rub ingredients in a small bowl.  Rub generously over both sides of the brisket.  Let spices absorb into meat for at least one hour, or up to 1 day.

Preheat oven to 300F.  In a medium bowl, combine all the sauce ingredients.  Whisk together until well mixed.  Set aside.

In a large non-stick skillet or dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat.  Add brisket and sear both sides until deep brown, about 8 minutes total.  If using a dutch oven, you can bake it in that pan.  Otherwise, transfer brisket to a roasting pan.  Add water and 1/2 cup of the barbecue sauce.  Cover tightly and transfer to oven.  Cook until the meat is fork-tender, 2 1/2 to 3 hours.

Remove meat from pan and place on cutting board to rest.  Transfer pan drippings to a medium saucepan.  Add remaining barbecue sauce to the drippings and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until sauce has reduced slightly, 5-10 minutes. 

After brisket has rested at least 5 minutes, slice into 1/4-inch slices.  Serve with the sauce.

Makes 6-8 servings.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Corn Chowder

I really wanted to call this post "Chunky Corn Chowder that Won't Make You Chunkier."  This is a great recipe submitted to another cooking blog I contribute to called "The Recipe Roundtable."  The first time I made it I made it as is, but this time around I thought I'd make a lighter version.  It was a huge success, and every bit as rich and delicious as the first one. 
This recipe is fantastic served with some crusty bread or homemade dinner rolls and a salad.  Perfect for those cold winter nights.

Corn Chowder

1/4 cup butter
2 T olive or canola oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 T garlic, minced
3/4 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
3 large russet potatoes, baked*, peeled, and cubed
1 lb bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 16-oz package frozen corn, thawed OR 1 can (15 oz) canned corn, drained
4 1/2 cups whole or 2% milk
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 cup light sour cream

Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat; add oil.  Add onion and garlic and cook until onion is tender, about 5 minutes.  Whisk in flour, salt and pepper.  Gradually add milk and chicken broth while whisking.  Stir in bacon, potatoes, and corn.  Heat until thickened, about 20 minutes, stirring frequently.  Be sure not to turn the heat up or the bottom of the soup will burn.  Stir in cheese and sour cream and cook an additional 5 minutes.

Serves 8.

*You can easily bake the potatoes in a microwave.  Stab each potato with a fork a few times, then microwave them on high for 8-15 minutes.  Check after 8 minutes to see how cooked they are by squeezing gently while wearing an oven mitt.  If they give, they're ready.  If they're still quite hard, cook an additional 2 minutes and check again.  Repeat until cooked.  Let cool, then peel and cube.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Whole Wheat Dinner Rolls

These rolls are soft and chewy and delicious.  And you can feel good about them, because they have whole wheat.  You can also use a multi-grain or Ezekiel Mix flour with equal success. The recipe is a whole-wheat variation of the Our Best Bites dinner rolls.  Also, I changed the instructions (read: made them a lot easier) because the directions they use are unnecessarily time-consuming.  

Whole Wheat Dinner Rolls

2 cups whole or 2% milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted
2 tsp kosher salt
2 T yeast
2/3 cup warm water
3 eggs, lightly beaten
3 cups whole wheat or multi-grain flour
5 cups white flour

Heat milk in microwave for 1-2 minutes on high heat, or until milk is warm but won't burn you if you tried to drink it (about 115F).  Pour into mixing bowl, then add sugar, melted butter, salt, water and yeast.  Stir until sugar dissolves.  Add eggs and beat until well combined, about 1 minute.  Add flour and stir until dough comes together.  Spray with cooking spray, cover, and place in a warm place to rise for 1 hour.
Punch dough down.  Lightly flour work surface and turn dough out. Divide in half.  Cut each half into twelve pieces, then shape pieces into balls.  Place in two 9"x13" glass pans that have been coated in cooking spray.  Let rise for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375F.  Bake rolls for 15-18 minutes.  Remove from oven and rub a stick of cold butter on the tops of the rolls.
Makes 24 rolls.

Lemon Meringue Pie

Lemon Meringue Pie.  Tart, Sweet, Soft, Foamy, Flaky.  Need I say more?  This recipe is from the America's Test Kitchen.  Nothing they do is bad, and most of it is fantastic.  Need I say more?
A word on the crust.  The crust is good.  It's great, in fact.  But it takes a good long time to make.  So if you want this pie to be done quickly, buy a pre-made crust. 

Lemon Meringue Pie
Recipe by America's Test Kitchen

Crust Ingredients:
1 1/4 cup flour
1 T sugar
3 T vegetable shortening
4 T butter, chilled and cut into 1/4" cubes
4-5 T ice water
4 sheets graham crackers, crushed (about 1/2 cup crushed)

Pie Crust Instructions:
Pulse the flour and sugar in a food processor until combined.  Add shortening and process for 10 seconds.  Scatter the butter over the flour mixture and process until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs, about 10 seconds.  Add 4 T ice water and process until dough just comes together.  If it doesn't come together, add the remaining ice water, a teaspoon at a time, until it does.  Flatten the dough into a 4-inch circle and wrap in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 2 days.
Before rolling, sprinkle part of the graham cracker crumbs on the work surface (instead of flour).  Roll the dough into a 12-inch circle.  Sprinkle with remaining crumbs and press in.  Line a 9-inch pie plate with the dough and crimp the edges.  Refrigerate for 40 minutes, then frees for at least 20 minutes.
Heat an oven to 375F.  Press a sheet of heavy-duty foil over the frozen crust, covering the inside and sides completely.  Fill with pie weights or dry beans.  Bake for 25 minutes, then remove foil and weights and continue to bake for an additional 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown.  Let cool while making the pie.

Lemon Filling Ingredients:
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 1/2 cups cold water
6 large egg yolks
1 T grated lemon zest
1/2 cup lemon juice (about 2-3 lemons)
2 T butter

Lemon Filling Instructions:
Have all ingredients pre-measured and close at hand.  Mix sugar, cornstarch, and water in a large saucepan.  Bring to a simmer over medium heat, whisking occasionally at the beginning, then more frequently as the mixture gets hotter.  When mixture starts to simmer and turn translucent, whisk in egg yolks, two at a time.  Whisk in zest, then juice, and finally butter.  Bring to a good simmer, whisking constantly.  Then remove from heat and press plastic wrap directly on surface to prevent skin from forming as you make the meringue.

Meringue Ingredients:
1 T cornstarch
1/3 cup water
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 cup sugar
4 large egg whites
1/2 tsp vanilla

Meringue Instructions:
Mix cornstarch with water in a small saucepan.  Bring to a simmer, whisking constantly, until mixture thickens and turns translucent.  Remove from heat and set aside.
Heat oven to 325F.
Mix cream of tartar and sugar together.  Beat egg whites and vanilla until frothy.  Beat in sugar mixture, 1 tablespoon at a time, until sugar is incorporated and mixture forms soft peaks.  Add cornstarch mixture, 1 tablespoon at a time.  Continue to beat until meringue forms soft peaks and is shiny.

To assemble the pie:
Pour hot lemon filling into pie crust.  Using a rubber spatula, distribute the meringue around the edge and then the center of the pie, making sure the meringue attaches to the edges of the crust to prevent shrinking.  Use the spatula or the back of a spoon to make decorative peaks in the meringue.  Bake until the meringue is golden brown, about 20 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack and cool to room temperature, then chill if desired.
Serves 8-10. 

Friday, February 3, 2012

Flank Steak Salad

I was sure I'd already posted this recipe since it's one of my old stand-bys, but I don't see it anywhere.  I make this all the time in the summer, and whenever the weather is nice enough to grill during the rest of the year.  You can alter the salad ingredients to whatever you have on hand.  I usually serve with a loaf of homemade wheat bread.  As a note, flank steak shrinks a lot when cooking.  Just something to keep in mind when purchasing.

Flank Steak Salad

1 flank steak (can also use skirt steak if you can't find flank steak)
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
Salad greens (I use a mix of baby spinach and baby romaine or a spring mix)
2 tomatoes, cut into 1/2" pieces
1 cucumber, cut into 1/2" pieces
1/2 cup black beans, drained and rinsed
1 avocado, sliced into 1/2" cubes
1/2 a small red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 a red bell pepper, thinly sliced
Your favorite salad dressing (my recommendation is either Ranch or Poppy Seed)

For the steak:
In a small bowl combine cumin, coriander, chili powder, garlic salt, ginger, and cayenne pepper.  Rub over both sides of flank steak.  Heat grill or broiler.  Cook on high or medium-high for 3 minutes each side.  Reduce heat to medium-low and grill an additional 3 minutes per side.  Let rest at least 5 minutes. After meat has rested, slice in 1/4"-thin slices crosswise to the grain.  Then if desired you can cross-cut the slices to form bite-sized pieces.

For the salad:
Combine all ingredients except dressing and toss lightly.  Add the steak and dressing on top. 
Serves 4-6 as a main dish.

Classic Sunday Pot Roast with Root Vegetables

Pot Roast is one of those things that brings back memories from childhood.  Although I'm sure it wasn't every Sunday, it seems like it's the quintessential Sunday Dinner from when I was a child.  My mom would put the pot roast in to cook before we went to church, and when we got home the smell would drift out of the house to greet us.  It's still one of my favorite dinners, especially served with some steamed green veggies or a salad and a basket of homemade rolls.

Classic Sunday Pot Roast with Root Vegetables

1 Chuck or Pot Roast
1 envelope Dry Onion Soup Mix
2 Tbs minced garlic
1/2 cup dried mushrooms OR 8 oz fresh mushrooms, sliced
5 large carrots, peeled and cut into 2"-long pieces
2 large baking potatoes, cut into 2"-long pieces
1/4 cup water (omit if using fresh mushrooms)

Place mushrooms, carrots, and potatoes in slow cooker, then put roast on top.  Distribute the garlic on top of the meat, then sprinkle the dry onion soup mix on top.  Cover and cook on low for 6-7 hours or on high for 3-4 hours. 
If you would like the turn the drippings into gravy, 30 minutes before serving combine 2 T cornstarch with 1/4 cup cold water in a small bowl.  Add to the slow cooker and stir in as best you can.  Finish cooking, and drippings will become gravy. 
Serves 6.

White Chicken Chili

This recipe is another Our Best Bites.  I promise I'm going to make something of my own soon.  Even next post. :)  This one is good and easy, especially if you make it in the slow-cooker, which is the directions I'm going to give you.  Serve it with sliced avocados, crushed tortilla chips, grated cheddar cheese, and a dollop of sour cream.  Delicious!

Slow Cooker White Chicken Chili
Recipe by Our Best Bites

1 T olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 lb boneless skinless chicken, cubed
1 T minced garlic
1 (3.5-oz) can green chilies
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp salt
Ground pepper, to taste
4 cups (32 oz) chicken broth
2 (15-oz) cans Great Northern beans
1 lime, juiced
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the chopped onion.  Cook for 2 minutes until onion becomes translucent.  Add chicken and garlic and cook until the chicken is no longer visibly pink, about 4-5 minutes.  Transfer onion/chicken mixture to the slow cooker.  Add green chilies, cumin, coriander, salt, pepper, and chicken broth.  Cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 3-4 hours.  30 minutes before serving, add lime juice, cilantro, and beans. 
Serves 6.