Monday, September 28, 2009

Artisan Bread

I can't believe I haven't posted about this recipe yet - I just double and triple checked - I have to apologize from keeping you all from this recipe - it's AMAZING.

If you really want to impress - make this - people will think you spent years working in a bakery - and it'll be our little secret that this recipe is probably the least labor intensive bread I've ever made (and that is saying something!)

The first time I made it - it turned out just like it did today - you can't go wrong with this one - whether it's your first time or your 100th!

I found this recipe 3 or 4 years ago and I make it all the time. The only thing you need to keep in mind is that it needs to rise overnight - so PLAN AHEAD:)
Artisan Bread
3 c all-purpose flour
1/4 t instant yeast
1 1/4 t salt
1 + 1/2 + 2T warm water
Cornmeal

In a large bowl, combine flour, yeast and salt. Then add the water and stir until blended. Dough will be sticky and shaggy looking. (See? That will only take you 4 minutes) Then cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let dough rest for 18 hours at room temperature. *You'll know when the dough is ready - the surface will be dotted with bubbles.

Lightly flour your work surface and place dough on it (I just flip the bowl over and it all slides out). Sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest for 15 minutes.

Using just enough flour to keep the dough from sticking to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a COTTON TOWEL (not terry cloth) with cornmeal. place the dough 'ball' seam side down on the cornmeal then cover with another cotton towel and let rise an additional 2 hours.

Half an hour before the dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6 - 8 qt. heavy covered pot (I use my cast iron pot) in the oven as it heats up.

When the dough is ready, carefully remove the pot from the oven and remove the lid. Take the top towel off of the dough - slide your hand under the other towel and turn the dough over into the pot. It might look like a mess - don't worry.

Cover with the lid and bake 30 minutes. Then remove lid and bake another 5 - 10 minutes until the loaf is beautifully browned.

When it's ready - plop that baby on a rack to cool and be careful not to go to far away - or it'll disappear!

*I usually make these loaves 2 at a time. The first one out of the oven is gone lickity split! I use the second one to give to a neighbor or use for sandwiches or baked fondue - mmmmm...

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Broccoli Bake

Remember a few posts back when I blanched and then froze ALL that broccoli?

I thawed it out (in the fridge overnight) and made this little number with it. I didn't have any diced ham, so we just ate it 'veggie style' - it's great as a main dish or as a side.
Broccoli Bake
3 lbs fresh broccoli – blanched (or you can use 20 oz. chopped frozen broccoli, thawed)
2 cups cubed ham
1 can whole kernel corn, drained
1 medium onion, diced and sautéed (you can add them raw, but if you sauté them, that’ll take the ‘bite’ out of them)
8 oz sour cream
1 can cream of (whatever you have on hand) soup
3 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
1 c crushed Ritz crackers (about 2/3 of a package)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl, mix together all ingredients except broccoli. Add the broccoli and incorporate. Spread out in a 9x13 casserole dish (or 2 8x8’s like I usually do). Bake for 30 minutes – YUMMO.

*If you want it really creamy, add another can of soup.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Pumpkin Cookies

This is my all time favorite time of year and the FIRST thing I do EVERY year when I feel that fall nip in the air is make pumpkin cookies! This is a family recipe handed down for generations. I hope you all enjoy it!
3 Cups sugar
3 Eggs Beaten
1 cup shortening
6 cups of flour
1 Large can of pumpkin
3 tsp vanilla
3 tsp salt
3 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp nutmeg
12 (yes 12!) tsp baking powder

Cream shortening and sugar together. Add eggs. Add pumpkin. Mix dry ingredients together. Add to pumpkn mixture. Bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes. They will be very moist. DO NOT overcook.
*Tip* Add all the spices to the pumpkin in seperate bowl, mix together and THEN add it to the shortening, sugar and eggs mixture. Continue on with rest of recipe.
This recipe yields at least 4 dozen. I usually get closer to 6-7 dozen when I make it. It is easiest to make in a Kitchenaid or other big mixer.

Playdoh- Home made

I remembered today making this as a kid. We are home sick at our house and I was trying to think of something easy but fun to do. Hence homemade playdoh! Try it!
1 Cup flour
1 TBSP oil
1 Cup water (add food coloring if desired to the water)
1/2 cup salt
2 tsp cream of tartar
Mix together all ingredients. Cook over medium heat. Stir constantly until dough comes away from the pan. Remove from heat and knead for one minute. Store in a covered container.

Garden Veggie Chowder

This recipe is my all time favorite soup for fall. I originally got it from a friend and have adapted a little bit. SO delicious. I'm not sure if it is because it is beautiful weather or if it's because I'm sick (or a combination of the two) but I have a hankering for some veggie chowder.

1/2 cup chopped green peppers
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup butter
1 Cup chopped of EACH of the following: Potato, celery, cauliflower, carrots, and broccoli
3 cups water
3 chicken bouillan cubes
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 cup flour
2 cups of milk
1 TBSP parsley flakes (or fresh)
12 oz. of cheddar cheese (I use medium sharp)

Saute green pepper and onion in the butter until tender. Add all veggies, water, bouillan, salt, pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 min. or until veggies are all tender.
In a seperate bowl, combine flour and milk until smooth, stir into pan. Bring to a boil once more, stir continuously while at a boil for 2 minutes. Reduce heat and add parsley. Add cheese just before serving, stir in until melted.

*A couple of suggestions on this recipe that I have. 1. I ALWAYS double this. Reason being: It is so easy to double. Plus, all of your veggies that you buy, you will get at least two cups and lots extra out of. While you are at it you may as well freeze some for later. 2. When I do freeze some for later, I do NOT add the cheese. I add the cheese after I reheat it and it is already warmed up. THEN add the cheese. 3. Before I add cheese when serving I transfer to my crockpot and set on low to keep warm while I'm serving my family or my guests. I hope these tips help. Enjoy! Please try it and let me know what you think! Oh... and I usually add more cheese than it says too. We like it uber cheesy!

*Make this a 'diet' food by using skim milk, a butter substitute and reduced fat cheese

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Lazy Momma Dayz

My husband travels a lot - I know I've mentioned this too many times - but it's relevant. When my hubs gets home from being 'on the road' I love to have the house spik and span and the house smelling delicious. I'm just that kinda gal (and I love to eat delicious home cooked meals as much as he does!)

BUT - this post is about the Lazy Momma Days I have inbetween when my hubby is home and when I am only catering to my kiddos tastes and needs. Keep in mind that my kids are 6, 4 and 21 months old. Here are a few quick lazy meals that'll satisfy the kiddos and won't make you feel guilty.

Top Ramen - alone you're the bomb - if you want to kick it up a notch - here's an idea: make it the usual way - only you drain the water off like you would pasta. Add steamed veggies (usually broccoli and carrots - they take 10 minutes in the micro), a few cashews (protein) and your favorite Teriyaki sauce (Mr. Yoshida's at Costco rocks!) It's a (under 6 crowd pleaser - me not so much)

Mac N' Cheese with Hot Dogs: a classic. Self explanitory - dairy, protein, gooeyness - nuff said.

Pasta: There are 100 million things you can do with pasta. I pre-cook a bunch (look here) and the possibilities are endless. You can throw the pre-cooked pasta in the microwave with Alfredo Sauce (from a jar), spaghetti sauce (from a jar or homemade), pesto (from a jar or homemade) or as my son prefers - just with butter and a pinch of salt. Plus you can add any protein you have in your fridge to kick it up - HOLLA!

Believe me - make one of these ridiculously easy kid friendly meals and you'll be a hero - just like me.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Home Made Soft Pretzels

When I posted my Home Made Bagel recipe someone commented or whether or not I thought that recipe could be used to make soft pretzels - what a genius!! So, today I decided to test that theory.

I was alone in the kitchen and when I pulled them out of the oven - everyone came running. Jack had his plain (salted), Maisie had hers with ranch dressing, my hubs had his with mustard, I had mine with cream cheese and my baby had hers with butta. YUM.

As I mentioned before - I made 2 batches so I had 8 BIG dough balls - if you adhere to the recipe, you will have 8 small dough balls...
Roll it out nice and thin - Remember how big mine turned out - next time I'll roll them even thinner...
This is what they looked like right before they took their bath...
And the finished product - I've been saying they are huge - but I should at least mention that this isn't a dinner plate, it's a salad plate - they aren't THAT big:)
Homemade Soft Pretzels
4 cups bread flour *remember how I told you that using 'bread flour' is really important in certain recipes - this is one of them*
1 Tbls sugar
1 1/2 tsps salt
1 Tbls vegetable oil
2 tsps instant yeast
1-1/4- 1-1/2 cups of warm water

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl. You don't have to worry about soaking the yeast when you use instant yeast (most yeast sold these days is instant yeast). The dough should feel stiff, but add the extra water if it's really stiff, or you can't get all the dry flour incorporated. Plop the dough down onto the counter, and knead for about ten minutes, or until the dough is uniform and smooth. Cut the dough into 8 equal sized balls, and let rest for 10-20 minutes. *Since this is the first time trying this, I decided to use double the amount of dough per pretzel - so I only had 4 equal sized balls - and my pretzels turned out GINORMOUS. They were awesome, but next time I'll stick with the original recipe.

Now, take each of the dough balls and using two hands, roll it into a long thin snake on the counter - remember they will be just about double the size you make them - so go thin. Then shape them into pretzels. Let your dough rest on the counter for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to boil, and grease a large baking tray lightly. You can just rub a splash of vegetable or olive oil and rub it around.
After the 20 minute wait, your pretzels will start to look puffy, and it's time to get them boiling! Add them as many at a time as you can to your boiling water without crowding them. Boil for about a minute, turn them over, and boil for another minute. *If you decide to 'go big' like I did - you'll need to boil them for about 90 seconds on each side* Take them out and set them on a cooling rack for a minute or two and then place them on your oiled baking tray. Repeat until all the pretzels are boiled. If you want to make traditional salted pretzels, sprinkle them with Kosher Salt right when you get them out of the water.

Bake them at 425 degrees for 20 - 25 minutes flipping them over half way through. Then feast on these delicious babies.

**One last tip. I made 2 batches because with they way I did them (the hugeinic way) I would've only ended up with 4 pretzels - and that just wouldn't fly around here. So - here's the tip - NEVER, EVER, EVER DOUBLE YOUR BATCH. The dough is so stiff you can't work with it. I made 2 batches - but I made them in seperate bowls - so if you are making them for a crowd - get out a bowl for each batch and get 'er done!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Creamy Asparagus Pasta

We love asparagus. My favorite way to do them is in a hot pan with a little water - cover and steam for 5-6. YUM. Anyway... this is a great recipe I found (I'm sorry I can't remember where - darn it!) and it's really yummy. I swear sauces and dressings taste so much better when they are made from scratch!

Creamy Asparagus Pasta
12 oz farfalle pasta
2 minced garlic cloves
3 T EVOO
1 bunch asparagus - tough ends removed and cut into bite size pieces
Snap peas or snow peas
3 cups heavy cream
1 c grated Parmesan cheese
Salt & Pepper

Cook pasta 2 minutes less than the package suggests. Drain. In a skillet heat oil, add garlic and cook for a minute. Add asparagus and peas and cook about 5 minutes (they will be bright green). Add the cream, salt and pepper to taste and simmer for about 10 minutes. Add cheese and stir often until thickened. Combine sauce with pasta and enjoy!!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Kara's cupcakes

So first I have to apologize for being a total slacker. Thanks to Jen, this blog is single handedly still running. Anyway, I promised you all a review of KARAS CUPCAKES Raspberry lemonade cupcakes and Keylime pie cupcakes awhile ago. Well, I tried them and they were completely FABULOUS! They were a little time consuming because I made both at the same time, but both recipes were mouth-watering! I had several of my friends and family sample them and also my hubby's work was lucky enough to get in on the action too. It was split right down the middle as to which was everyone's favorite, but I really could not decide. They were SO good. I highly recommend that you all try her recipe of them both. You can find the Raspberry lemonade one HERE:and the key lime pie recipe HERE: EAT UP!

Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas

I have already used the Hatch Green Chiles in a couple of recipes - Hubs had them in his omelette, I made a little snack for us: fried up a tortilla (with butter) then spread the tortilla with cream cheese, sprinkled it with cheddar cheese, onions and green chiles. Pop it in the microwave for 30 seconds (so the cheese is all melty) then roll it up like a wrap and cut into bite size pieces...

My hair stylist gave me her Grandmothers recipe for Green Chile Enchiladas - and here it is...

Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas
3 boneless skinless chicken breasts - diced or shredded
1 medium onion, diced
Green Chiles - as many as you want
Salt
Pepper
Garlic Powder
2 cans Cream of Mushroom Soup
Tortillas
Cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese

Dice Chicken and throw them in your pan with some EVOO. Season with Salt Pepper and Garlic Powder and cook until they are no longer pink. Add the onions and green chiles until they are soft then add the Cream of Mushroom Soup. Reduce heat and let simmer until incorporated and heated through.
Heat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x13 pan (or 2 8x8 pans) layer tortillas, then soup mixture, shredded cheese and repeat. Stick the casserole in the oven for about 10 minutes - until the cheese is melted. Enjoy:)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Hatch Green Chilis

The town of Hatch, New Mexico has been known as the "Chile Capitol of the World" for over 200 years. Hatch is about 3 hours from here. Every year around this time they have a "Chile Festival" we've been hearing stories about people that travel down to the festival, buy chiles by the box load and have them roasted there. On the way home, there are caravans of people on the side of the road having little fiestas and enjoying the chiles they just bought. The smell of the chile's are so overwhelming that they just can't make it the whole way home without eating some:)

I have always had a 'when in Rome' attitude - so when they started selling boxes of Hatch Chiles at our local grocery store - I bought one (30 freakin' pounds of chiles) it is such a big deal here that the grocery store will actually roast them for you on the spot...

This box was over flowing with chiles
This is what they look like after being roasted. You leave them in this plastic bag to let them 'sweat' for an hour or so.
We called my hubs good friend who is a Master Chile Dude and has been for the last 40 years to ask advice on what to do next. He advised us to put 5 -8 of them in Ziploc baggies and freeze them. Then, when we are ready to use them, just stick the bag in the microwave for 1 1/2 minutes and they are ready to go. YUM.
I am not a chile person - well, let me rephrase. I wasn't a chile person. I wanted to have some peeled and diced b/c I am making an AWESOME recipe with them tonight.
The chiles we didn't freeze went into the sink filled with cold water. When you pull them out, the skin practically falls off. Then we diced them and left the seeds in (this being my first time doing this I got the MILD chiles - to be on the safe side)
We couldn't resist the aroma. We pulled out some tortillas, spread them with cream cheese and sprinkled chilis on top - then we just rolled it up, cut it into bite sized pieces and went to town.
Man oh man these are good. Stay tuned for one (of the very many) recipes I am going to make with these babies!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Thai Chicken & Noodles

This is the 3rd recipe I have tried from 365 Days of Crockpot Meals (on our sidebar). I am 1 for 3. So far I have tried the "Crock Pot Garlic Lime Chicken" me no likey, the "Cafe Rio Chicken" total thumbs up and definitely recommend and now this recipe - again not my taste.
I ate my dinner (cuz I am PHAT that way) and my husband practically inhaled it - BUT - let's consider that he has been out of town all week and was very much looking forward to a home cooked meal - not exactly what I'd call 'discriminating' taste buds.

It may be because I have had such a craving for Asian food lately and that I was hoping this would feed that hunger. Maybe. 365 DOCM rated this at 5 stars - so maybe I'm crazy - I'll give you the recipe and you tell me what you think...

Thai Chicken and Noodles
1 1/2 lb chicken cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 red bell pepper, cut into short thin strips
1 1/4 cups chicken broth, divided
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 tsp red pepper flakes
2 tbsp cornstarch
3 green onions, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/3 cup creamy or chunky peanut butter
12 oz hot cooked vermicelli pasta
3/4 cup peanuts or cashews chopped
3/4 cup cilantro chopped
Directions: Place chicken, bell pepper, 1 cup of broth, soy sauce, garlic, and red pepper flakes in slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 3 hours. Mix cornstarch with remaining 1/4 cup broth in small bown until smooth. Turn slow cooker on High. Stir in green onions, peanut butter, and cornstarch mixture. Cover and cook 30 minutes or until sauce is thickened and chicken is no longer pink. Stir well. Serve over vermicelli or Thai noodles. Sprinkle with peanuts or cashews.

*I want to know if anyone else has tried the crock pot recipes from 365 Days of Crock Pot Meals - I want to know what kind of luck you've had - let me know!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Choppin' Broccoli

I went to Costco over the weekend and bought a boat load of veggies. While I was unloading all the food Sweetness said - "are you having a party while I'm out of town?" Shoot! I forgot that he'd be gone all week. What to do...

I know better than to try and force feed 3 pounds of broccoli to my sweet children - but I hate to waste food! The solution? Blanching. My friend Dawn actually reminded me of this long lost treasure...

First - you get a large pot of water boiling. Put the broccoli in the boiling water and 'blanche' for 2 to 3 minutes.

Then, straight from the boiling water into an ice bath they go (use a slotted spoon to transfer them) Wait until the broccoli is cooled, and drain them.
At this point, you can set them aside until you are ready to eat. To reheat, just stick them in a saute pan with EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) salt and pepper for about 1 -2 minutes - just so they are heated through.
Blanching ensures crisp cooked veggies instead of that mush...

OR, if you are like me and are trying to extend the life of your broccoli - put the cooled broccoli in a ziploc or air tight container - stick it in the freezer and it will keep for up to 12 months!

*I got all this information from my Barefoot Contessa Cookbook - I love that lady!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

The Perfect Roasted Potatoes

I bought a cookbook titled "Roasting" by Peter Swann last week (clearance $2) and I've been pouring over the text and drooling over the recipes ever since. Roasting is one of the most basic no muss no fuss ways to cook something with mucho flavor and minimal effort (second only to using your crock pot).

Since we don't have taste-o-vision or smell-o-vision, I try to use descriptive words when posting recipes. I have used words like "Best Ever" "So Delicious" "Crowd Pleaser" etc. I have NEVER used the word "Perfect" to describe a recipe. I've been saving that word for this recipe.

***Life changing tip ahead - keep reading***

This morning I made these for our 'skillet type' breakfast. I'm not sure if you can tell - but they are about the size of a quarter - a small bite.

Next time I make them, I'll make them in bigger chunks - dinner style...

The Perfect Roasted Potatoes
3 lbs potatoes (any kind you like) peeled and cut into chunks
3 T EVOO
Salt

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. cook the potatoes in a large pan of lightly salted boiling water over medium heat, covered for 5 - 7 minutes. They will still be firm. remove from the heat. meanwhile, add the EVOO to a roasting pan (or cookie sheet) and place in the hot oven.

***Here it is. The best cooking tip I've heard of this year*** Drain the potatoes well and return them to the pan. Cover with the lid and firmly shake the pan so that the surface of the potatoes is slightly roughened to help give them a much crisper texture.

Remove the roasting pan from the oven and carefully tip the potatoes into the hot oil. baste them mto ensure that they are all coated with the oil.

Roast the potatoes at the top of the oven for 45 -50 minutes (the small potatoes I did this morning only took 35 minutes) until they are browned all over and thoroughly crisp. Turn the potates and baste again only once during the process or the crunchy edges will be destroyed.

Using a slotted spoon, carefully transfer the potatoes from the roasting pan into a warmed serving dish. Sprinkle with a little salt and serve at once.


For breakfast this morning we ate them completely unseasoned - I didn't even salt the water when I boiled them - and they were sooo good. The recipe calls for you to salt the potatoes when they are finished cooking - but I would suggest seasoning them right when you put them in the oven. They come out of the oven so crispy on the outside (soft and fluffy on the inside) that the surface of the potato isn't porous enough to accept seasoning.

The cool thing about this is that you can season these a million different ways - imagine the possibilities:)

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