Sunday, May 31, 2009

Ashlee's Corn Salad

This recipe is another recreation of a salad I had at my friend Ashlee's house - it was so yummy that I had to try to make it. It turned out great and my hubby and I loved it (the kids were another story, but hey they don't like a whole lot of salads so don't judge it by them). Thanks Ashlee!! Oh, BTW we had it for dinner with Crockpot Pork Chops (but I didn't add the green beans to the sauce this time).

Ashlee's Corn Salad

romaine lettuce (I used a bag of precut romaine hearts)
1 large or 2 small roma tomatoes, chopped
1 can white sweet corn, drained (I used a can of "super sweet" white and yellow corn)
3-4 green onions, sliced
1 - 1 1/2 cups peanuts, coarsley chopped
1 package ramen noodles (I didn't have this so I used some chow mein noodles)

Put lettuce, tomatoes, corn, green onions and peanuts in a large bowl. Break up ramen noodles and toast on a cookie sheet in a 375 degree oven for a few minutes, until lightly browned. Add toasted noodles to salad. Toss with about half of the dressing mixture (recipe below) and then add more dressing as needed.

1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
few dashes of Monterey Steak Seasoning
ground black pepper, to taste

Combine ingredients in a tightly lidded jar; shake till well mixed.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Favorite Cinnamon Rolls

I have a new favorite cinnamon roll recipe! The recipe is from The Sisters' Cafe and oh my these cinnamon rolls are good! My whole family said they preferred them to my usual cinnamon rolls (and I agree) so I guess I'll make these from now on.

*Sorry for the horrible out-of-focus picture! My camera has been giving me grief. I'll try to get a better picture of these fabulous cinnamon rolls soon!

Favorite Cinnamon Rolls

2 cups milk
2 sticks butter (1 cup)
4 1/2 teaspoons yeast (2 packets)
1/3 cup warm water
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 teaspoon salt
4 eggs, beaten
8 cups flour
1 stick butter
brown sugar

Heat milk and 2 sticks of butter till butter is melted (I did this in the microwave), set aside and allow to cool.

Mix yeast and warm water in the bowl of a mixer and let stand for 5 minutes. Add cooled milk/butter mixture, sugar, salt, eggs and mix. Add 4 cups of flour and mix. Gradually add 4 additional cups of flour till dough is firm but sticky and pulled away from sides of the bowl (I added 1/3 cup more flour than called for). Turn dough out into an oiled bowl, cover and allow to raise for 1 1/2 - 2 hours (it took 2 hours for me).

Punch down and turn out dough onto a floured surface (may need to knead a little). Divide dough in half. Roll half of the dough into a rectangle about 1/2" thick. Spread 1/4 cup softened butter over the dough. Spread a good layer of brown sugar over the butter and then sprinkle generously with cinnamon. Roll up as tightly as possible. Slice into equal pieces (about 1 1/2 ") with a sharp knife and place either side by side in baking dishes (I used 9" cake pans) for pull-apart rolls or place apart on cookie sheets covered with parchment paper for individual rolls (I prefer the baking dish way having tried both methods, but The Sisters' Cafe does it the cookie sheet way). Repeat process for the other half of the dough.

Cover rolls with plastic wrap sprayed with non-stick cooking spray and put in a warm place to rise for about 1-2 hours* (it depends on how warm your kitchen is) or until doubled in size. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes or until just lightly golden brown, you don't want to over bake these. Remove from oven and let set for 5 minutes. Drizzle with glaze (recipe below) or with cream cheese frosting while they are still warm. Makes 3-4 dozen. (Definitely lots to share with friend, neighbors, or co-workers.)

*It said on The Sisters' Cafe that you can put them in a cold place (like on top of the freezer in my garage) overnight to raise and bake them as soon as you wake up in the morning. I haven't tried this yet, but I'm going to next time.

Butter Cream Glaze:
1 stick butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
dash of salt
dash of cream of tarter
1 lb box powdered sugar
heavy cream

Beat together butter, vanilla, salt, cream of tarter, and about half the box of powdered sugar with a little cream. Add more cream and mix. Add the rest of the powdered sugar and mix. Add more cream as needed until the glaze is a spreadable consistency.

Russian Cucumber Salad

This is a salad I recreated from a dish my friend, Christine, served when she hosted book club at her house a couple weeks ago (we read the book A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich). I love simple refreshing salads like this. This is a great side dish for any dinner, but I made it to go with pelmeni and black bread which are both yummy Russian dishes.

Russian Cucumber Salad

2 large roma tomatoes, chopped
2 cucumbers or 1 large English cucumber, peeled and sliced or chopped
4-5 green onions, sliced thin
about 1/4 cup oil (vegetable or canola)
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1-2 teaspoons chopped fresh dill (or freeze dried dill which I found in the produce section of my grocery store)

Put prepared tomatoes, cucumbers, and green onions in a large bowl; chill while you make the dressing. Combine oil, vinegar, and dill. Pour about half of the dressing over the vegetables, toss to coat well. Add additional dressing if desired. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Russian Black Bread

The other night I made pelmeni and decided to make it an all-around Russian meal so I served it with this Russian Black Bread and a Russian Cucumber Salad. This black bread turned out really good. It's a dense, hearty bread with a tangy taste to it. It is great with a cheese spread or cream cheese on it (we spread Laughing Cow wedges on it). Of course it's good with just butter too.

Russian Black Bread

4 cups dark rye flour (the only brand I found was Bob's Red Mill)
3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons salt
2 cups All Bran cereal (it's the twiggy looking kind)
2 tablespoons caraway seeds, crushed in a blender
2 teaspoons onion powder
4 1/2 teaspoon yeast (2 packets)
2 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup vinegar
1/4 cup molasses
1 oz unsweetened chocolate
1/4 cup butter
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 cup cold water

Combine flours and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer combine 2 1/3 cups of the flour mixture, sugar, salt, All Bran cereal, crushed caraway seeds, onion powder, and yeast. Beat a couple of times just to combine.

In a saucepan combine 2 1/2 cups water, vinegar, molasses, unsweetened chocolate, and butter. Heat until very warm, 120 - 130 degrees - butter and chocolate do not have to be all the way melted.

Gradually add heated liquid mixture to the dry ingredients and beat with dough hook for 2 minutes at medium speed. Add 1/2 cup flour and beat again for 2 minutes. Add enough additional flour to form a soft dough that pulls away from the side of the bowl. (For me I used all but 1/2 cup of flour mixture.) Knead dough with dough hook for 5 minutes on medium speed. Remove dough and shape into a ball with oiled hands. Place dough ball in an oiled bowl turning dough over so that the top of dough is also greased. Cover and allow to rise till doubled, about 30 - 45 minutes.

Punch down dough and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide in half and shape each half into a ball about 5 inches in diameter and place each into a greased 8 inch round cake pan. Cover and let rise till doubled, about 30 - 45 minutes.

Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Near the end of baking time combine water and cornstarch in a saucepan and boil for 1 minutes, stirring. After the 40 minutes of baking brush the tops of the loaves with cornstarch glaze then return loaves to oven for additional 2-3 minutes to let the glaze set. Remove from oven and cool on wire rack. Serve warm with butter or cream cheese spread on it.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Crockpot Hawaiian Pork

So I finally figured out how to cook Hawaiian pulled pork in my crockpot. And it was good!! This is one of my favorite meals ever!

Crockpot Hawaiian Pork

5-6 lb. pork shoulder/butt roast
1 large box chicken broth or stock
3/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon dry ginger
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke

Toppings for serving (if desired):
sliced green onions
sesame seeds, toasted
bottled Teriyaki sauce or Yosida's sauce

The night before:
Place roast in crockpot with the fattiest side up. Pour enough chicken broth into the crockpot to come up half way on the pork roast. Cook on low all night (I put mine in around 10pm).

The day of:
Pour most of the chicken broth out of the crockpot. Combine soy sauce, ginger, granulated garlic, and liquid smoke; pour over roast. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. Remove meat and break into pieces or shred (depending on how you like it). Clean out the crockpot and put meat back into crockpot to keep warm, can add a little chicken broth to mixture to keep it moist till serving. Serve plain or over rice with a sliced green onions, sesame seeds, and little heated teriyaki sauce or Yoshida's sauce drizzled over.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Crockpot Salsa Chicken

Crockpot meals are so great for Sundays or any day really. I love just dumping the ingredients in and getting such great results at the end. This recipe is from What's for Dinner and even though the combination of ingredients might seem weird go with it because it turns out great. The shredded chicken is taco-ish in flavor and is great over rice.

Crockpot Salsa Chicken

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I used frozen)
1 cup salsa
1 packet taco seasoning
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup sour cream

Put chicken in crockpot; sprinkle taco meat over chicken. Mix salsa and cream of chicken soup; pour over the chicken. Cook on low for 6 -8 hours*. Shred chicken with 2 forks about 45 minutes before serving. Right before serving stir in sour cream and mix well. Serve over rice or in tortillas.

*Since I used frozen chicken I cooked it on high for 1 hour to thaw the chicken and then turned it down to low for about 5 or 6 hours.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

I think I have finally found my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe! Yay!! This recipe is from Real Mom Kitchen and it is GREAT! I love a cookie that is soft and chewy and that is just what these are and they stay that way after they are cooled. I like that it has a combination of sugars and shortening and butter. Yummy. Yummy. Yummy.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

2/3 cup butter flavored shortening
2/3 cup butter (that 1 stick + 2 2/3 tablespoons), softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 bag chocolate chips

Cream butter, shortening, and sugars together. Add eggs and vanilla and mix well. In a separate bowl combine flour, baking soda and salt; mix flour mixture into wet mixture, mixing until combined. Stir in chocolate chips by hand. Cover dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a half hour. Drop by teaspoonfuls or tablespoonfuls (depending on how big you want the cookies to be) onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake at 375 for 8 - 10 minutes - just until very lightly browned, you don't want to over bake them. Cool for a few minutes on cookie sheets until cookies are moveable, then transfer to cooling racks. Oh they are so good warm from the oven!! Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

My experiments in banana bread continue... This one is from The Sisters' Cafe and is super yummy - how can chocolate chocolate chip not be right?! Can I just tell you how wonderful this smelled while it baked - heavenly! Next time you have a few over ripe bananas give it a try.

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil (I used canola)
3 very ripe bananas, mashed
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a loaf pan and set aside.

Beat sugar, eggs, and oil at medium speed until combined. Beat in bananas and vanilla at low speed. Combine flour, cocoa, and baking soda in a medium bowl; beat into banana mixture at low speed just until combined. Stir in chocolate chips by hand. Pour batter into greased loaf pan and bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes in pan. Remove from pan and cool completely on a rack.

Taco Soup (Can be a Freezer Meal too)

This is a very basic taco soup (though it's thickness is more like a chili) and it's a favorite at our house. My kids eat it up without argument. Nice. It's also a great stand-by meal if you're like me and always seem to have a bag a tortilla chips hanging around in your pantry. Oh, and this also makes a great freezer meal!

Taco Soup

1 lb ground beef
1 onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 can beans - pinto, red, or kidney, drained and rinsed
1 can chili beans (or a can of chili if you don't have chili beans on hand)
8 oz can tomato sauce
1 cup water (can add extra water if you want the soup to be thinner)
1 packet taco seasoning
1 can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can corn, undrained

Brown hamburger in a pot with chopped onion. Add beans, chili beans, tomato sauce, water, taco seasoning, diced tomatoes and corn. Bring to a boil and simmer covered for 10 minutes. Serve with shredded cheese, sour cream, olives, and tortilla chips. Corn bread is also yummy with this.

Freezer Meal Instructions:
Brown hamburger in a skillet with chopped onion, drain and allow to cool. In a bowl combine beans, chili beans, tomato sauce, water, taco seasoning, diced tomatoes with juices, and corn with juices. Add cooled hamburger and pour into a gallon size ziplock. Label with cooking instructions and freeze flat.

Cooking Instructions:
Thaw. Pour into a pot and bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. If desired thin with a little water or V8 juice. Serve with shredded cheese, sour cream, olives, and/or tortilla chips. Corn bread is also yummy with this.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Easiest Smores

I'm sure everyone knows about this little trick already, but just in case here is the simplest way to make smores. My little boy has been craving smores since going on the father-son campout last weekend, so for our FHE treat tonight we toasted marshmallows over our gas range and made these super simple smores. Scrumptious!!

Easiest Smores

toasted marshmallows
fudge striped cookies

Smoosh toasted marmallows between 2 cookies and enjoy!

Meatballs with Mushroom Sauce

Thanks to Mennonite Girls Can Cook for this one. Very yummy! I love meatball recipes because I always have Swedish and Italian frozen meatballs on hand and am always looking for new sauces to put on them.

Meatballs with Mushroom Sauce

25-30 cooked meatballs (I used a 1 lb bag of frozen Armor original flavor meatballs - that's my favorite brand)

2 tablespoons butter
1/2 onion, chopped
2 cups sliced mushrooms
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can cream of mushroom soup
3/4 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 cup sour cream

*I think I might add a teaspoon or 2 of Worcestershire sauce next time

In a large skillet melt butter and saute onion, mushrooms and garlic in is until tender; stirring often. Add mushroom soup mixed with milk. Bring to a boil. Stir in the thyme, sour cream, and meatballs and simmer for 10 minutes. Serve over noodles.

Light and Fluffy Banana Muffins

We've had really ripe bananas hanging around lately so I've been trying different banana breadish recipes to find out what the favorite will be. This one is a very basic banana bread/muffin recipe and the only flavor going on is banana which for my kids is fabulous and they gobbled these up in no time. But for me I might try it with cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla added next time. Another bunch of bananas is sitting on our counter so maybe chocolate banana bread will be next - I'll let you know how it goes.

Light and Fluffy Banana Muffins

2 cups all purpose flour (plus 2 tablespoons for high altitude)
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 egg
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 very ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 375. Grease muffin tins really well or use paper muffin cups to line muffin tins (I used one 12 cup muffin tin and 1 mini muffin tin).

Mix together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl mix together sugar, milk, egg, oil, and bananas, stir really well to combine. Add flour mixture and stir until just moistened and all flour is incorporated, be sure not to over mix. Stir in walnuts or chocolate chips if desired. Spoon batter into prepared pans filling about 3/4 full (I used a large cookie scoop for the 12 cup tin and a small cookie scoop for the mini muffin tin to keep the sizes consistent). Bake large muffins for 15 minutes and mini-muffins for 10 minutes.

Orange Rolls

This recipe is from my friend and former neighbor Michelle and it is so good!! She brought these over years ago when my son was born and I had to get the recipe from her. My daughter describes them as crispy on the outside and ooey-gooey-orangey soft on the inside.

Orange Rolls

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
grated zest of 1 orange
2, 12 oz tubes Pillsbury Golden Layers Buttermilk Biscuits

In a saucepan heat sugar, butter, and orange zest until sugar is dissolved. Open biscuits and separate them into individual biscuits. Dip one side of each biscuit in the orange sauce and place side to side in a row around the interior of a metal bundt pan. Pour remaining sauce over the rolls. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until tops are golden brown.

Confetti Fried Rice

I love Chinese food. Love it. So I'm always up for an at home version of Chinese take-out. Though I would not say this fried rice tastes just like take-out it is pretty good and versatile for any kind of veggies or meat you want to substitute. I served it as a main dish with orange rolls on the side and everyone was happy (for some happiness was only achieved after picking out the mushrooms).

Confetti Fried Rice

1 1/2 - 2 cups uncooked rice (depending on appetites you can add more rice to stretch this dish)
5 scrambled eggs
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon canola oil
4 slices bacon, diced
1/2 cup diced red pepper
2 cups sliced mushrooms
3/4 - 1 cup sliced green onions
1 cup diced ham
4 tablespoons soy sauce (this is to taste)
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric (optional, it gives it a slightly smoky flavor and yellow color)
1 cup frozen peas
2 tablespoons melted butter

Cook the rice using the instructions on the package - usually 1 part rice to 2 parts water. Set aside.

Scramble the eggs, breaking into small pieces and set aside.

Heat 2 tablespoons butter and canola oil in a large skillet. Add bacon, red pepper, mushrooms and green onions and saute till tender. Add diced ham, scrambled eggs, and rice. Mix well and heat through. Add soy sauce a little at a time till to taste. Add onion powder and turmeric and mix well. Add frozen peas and mix then sprinkle rice with melted butter and mix well. Check for seasoning adding more soy sauce if necessary. Serve with a sprinkling of sliced green onions on top of individual servings.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Cowboy Spaghetti

I adapted this recipe from the Cowboy Spaghetti recipe on Taste and Tell. I thought it was a great switch-up from regular spaghetti with meat sauce. My family really enjoyed it! It's a keeper.

Cowboy Spaghetti

1 pound spaghetti, cooked and drained
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 slices bacon, chopped
1 pound ground beef (ground sirloin is good)
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
ground black pepper
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup beef stock
1, 14 oz can diced fire roasted tomatoes
1, 16 oz can tomato sauce
1/8 - 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
1 tablespoon chili powder
8 oz sharp cheddar, shredded
4 green onions, sliced

Heat oil in a deep skillet. Add bacon and saute till browned. Turn off heat and spoon out excess fat leaving enough to coat the bottom of skillet. Add beef, onion, and garlic and cook till meat s browned, breaking up meat as it cooks. Season meat with salt and pepper. Add Worcestershire and 1/2 cup beef stock and let cook for 5 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, tomato sauce, cayenne (optional), and chili powder. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Serve over spaghetti and sprinkle individual servings with cheese and green onions.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Chocolate Cheesecake Tunnel Cake

I love this cake! It is moist and yummy and chocolatey there's cheesecake inside it! Nuff said.:)

Chocolate Cheesecake Tunnel Cake

Chocolate Cake:
1 chocolate cake mix with pudding in the mix (I used Pillsbury devils food)
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 large eggs

8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 egg
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup semi-sweet mini chocolate chips

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. For the chocolate cake, in the bowl of a mixer combine cake mix, sour cream, water, oil, and eggs. Beat at low speed for 1 minute. Scrape down sides of bowl and beat for 2 - 3 more minutes or until well combined and smooth. Pour 2/3 of the cake batter into a well greased and lightly floured bundt pan.

For filling, in a mixer or a bowl with a hand beater, mix together cream cheese, egg, and sugar. When smooth mix in mini chocolate chips by hand. Spread this filling over the cake batter and top with remaining cake batter. Bake for 45-55 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly pressed and sides are starting to pull away from pan. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes, invert cake onto rack or a serving plate and cool for 20 more minutes.

For glaze, combine chocolate chips and cream in a bowl. Microwave on high for 30 seconds then stir until smooth (you may need to pop it back in the oven if chips are not melted enough to make it smooth). Put glaze into a ziplock bag and snip off one of the bottom corners; drizzle glaze in an even pattern back and forth over the cake. Store cake covered in the refrigerator.

Rolo Turtle Candies

These are incredibly easy and very addictive. I made them for a book club treat last night. To make them more turtle-ish you can press pecan halves onto the tops rather than m&ms, but I forgot to get m&ms it was.

Rolo Turtle Candies

a package of Rolo candies (around 50 Rolos or more if you want a larger batch)
a bag of square grid pretzels (I think they are called pretzel snaps)
m&ms, mini m&ms, or pecan halves for topping

Line up pretzels on a foil covered cookie sheet. Place one unwrapped Rolo in the middle of each pretzel. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 3 minutes or until Rolos are just beginning to get soft. Take out of oven and working quickly press m&ms or pecan halves in the top of each Rolo and push down a little. Let them cool on the cookie sheet for a while, if you need them to set up faster you can pop them in the fridge for a bit.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Honey Dijon Chicken with Bacon and Cheddar

My sweet husband made this for dinner on Mother's Day. It was super yummy and he also made spinach salad and rolls to go along with it. Thanks Babe!!:)

Honey Dijon Chicken with Bacon and Cheddar

4-6 chicken breasts
1/2 cup coarse grain mustard
1/2 cup honey
juice from half a lemon (about 2 teaspoons)
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
8-12 pieces bacon
shredded cheddar cheese

Combine mustard, honey, lemon juice, paprika, salt and cayenne pepper. Set aside.

Pound the chicken breats flat and let marinate in the honey/mustard mixture for 3 hours.

Heat a couple tablespoons of canola oil in a skillet. Fry chicken in oil till browned on both sides. Transfer chicken to a 9x13 baking pan or cookie sheet and bake at 375 for 20 minutes or until chicken is done all the way through. Place 2 pieces of bacon on each breast and sprinkle with cheddar cheese. Return to oven and let cheese melt a little, a couple minutes.

Sour Dough Bread with Overnight Starter

I've always been a bit intimidated by sour dough bread. The whole sour dough starter thing is kind of a commitment isn't it - a sort of yeasty pet that sits in your fridge and bubbles away. You even have to feed it. I just find the whole thing a little weird. I had a friend who's mom had a starter that had been given to her by her grandmother. Crazy. And I know that the starters used by bakers in San Francisco are incredibly old. Anywho, this sour dough bread is for the commitment-phobic. You make the starter on a one-time basis and it's ready to go after 24 hours. That's my kind of starter. Maybe someday I'll start a real starter, but for now as a novice baker I'll stick to this less intimidating sour dough bread.

*Oh this bread is also fat free and sugar free - nice, eh?!

Sour Dough Bread with Overnight Starter

1 cup lukewarm water
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon yeast

Combine yeast and water in a bowl. Stir until yeast dissolves. Add flour and mix. Let stand at room temperature for 24 hours.

starter (already prepared and allowed to sit for 24 hours)
2 cups lukewarm water
4-5 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon yeast
4 teaspoons salt

In the bowl of a mixer dissolve 1 teaspoon of yeast in 2 cups of lukewarm water. Add the starter, 4 cups of flour, and 4 teaspoons of salt. Knead with dough hooks on medium speed for about 2 minutes. Check consistency and add more flour as needed to form a satiny dough (I used 5 cups of flour total). Knead for another minute. Turn out dough onto a floured surface and form into a ball. Cut in half. Form each half into a ball and place on separate greased cookie sheets. Slit tops a couple of times with a sharp knife (to make it look more sour-dough-bready:)). Cover with non-stick sprayed plastic wrap and let sit till doubled in size (for me it was about 35 minutes). Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for 50 minutes to 1 hour - until golden brown. When loaves come out of oven brush with a little melted butter if desired.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Big and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

I got this recipe from Baking Blonde and though I don't think it will become my "go to" chocolate chip cookie recipe (I still love my sister-in-law's recipe, click HERE for the link) it was fun to make and the kids loved how huge they were. As a note, next time I make this recipe I think I'll make the cookies smaller, because these were so big!

Big and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks butter, melted and cooled until warm
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Whisk dry ingredients together and set aside. In the bowl of a mixer combine butter and sugars until thoroughly combined. Beat egg, egg yolk, and vanilla until combined. Add dry ingredients and beat at low speed until combined. Stir in chips by hand.

Roll 1/2 cup of the dough into a ball.** Pull the dough ball apart evenly into 2 halves. Place the halves jagged surfaces up onto cookies sheets with AMPLE room between them (they spread quite a bit).

Bake, turning the cookie sheets half way through, for 10-16 minutes. Keep an eye on cookies and look for them to be golden brown with the outer edges hardened slightly, but the centers should still be soft and puffy. It took about 15 minutes in my oven. You don't want to over bake them though as they spread more and more when over baked.

Cool cookies on cookie sheets till they are able to be lifted without breaking, then transfer to wire racks to cool.

**Next time I'm going to drop the cookies by heaping tablespoons onto the cookie sheets, they were just so big that I felt like a bad mom having my kids eat these ginormous cookies - of course they didn't object in the slightest!:)

Throw It All In Pasta Salad

This is a great versatile pasta salad. You can add/substitute any veggies/cheeses that you like or have on hand. Some great add in or substitutions are par-boiled asparagus pieces, peas, and sliced olives.

Throw It All In Pasta Salad

12oz - 1 lb pasta of choice (I used a 12 oz package of "Trio Italiano")
1 large cucumber, peeled and cubed
1/2 lb cherry tomatoes, quartered
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan
1 cup diced cheddar
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon dried dill
2 teaspoon lemon pepper
1/2 teaspoon Montreal Steak Seasoning

Boil pasta according to package directions to al dente. Drain, rinse with cold water and set aside to dry slightly.

In a small bowl combine mayonnaise, sour cream, Worcestershire sauce, dill, lemon pepper, and steak seasoning. Set aside.

In a large bowl combine pasta, cucumbers, tomatoes, red onion, bell pepper, shredded Parmesan, and diced cheddar. Add the dressing to mixture and toss till combined well. Refrigerate till ready to serve. If the salad need a little moistening add more mayonnaise before serving.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Ham and Corn Chowder

This is a lovely comforting soup. It is thick and creamy and the flavors from the ham, corn, and bacon go so nicely together. I made home-made buttermilk biscuits to go along with it. Oh and don't be afraid of the jalapeno or cayenne, they do not add heat, but rather a depth of flavor that's great.

Ham and Corn Chowder

3 tablespoons butter
2 stalks celery, diced
1/4 cup onion, chopped fine (about 1/2 an onion)
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup heavy cream
2 cups milk
2 cups cubed ham
1/4 cup cooked,crumbled bacon (plus more for topping)
3 large potatoes, peeled and diced
1, 15.25 oz can corn, undrained
1, 15.25 oz can creamed corn
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Cook cubed potatoes in boiling water till done. Drain and set aside.

Melt butter in a pot. Add celery, onion, and jalapeno and saute until tender. Stir in flour until well blended. Gradually add cream and milk. Bring to a boil; cook stirring for 2 minutes or until thickened. Stir in remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. If mixture is too thick add a little more milk. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, then cover and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes. Serve with a little crumbled bacon on top of individual servings if desired.

Buttermilk Biscuits

Thanks so much to Tina at Mommy's Kitchen for this one. She totally inspired me to try to make biscuits, which is something I thought I'd never do. Can I just tell you that biscuits made from scratch are a million times better than the from-the-refrigerated-tube kind and they're really not that hard to make. These were SO good with butter and strawberry jam.

Buttermilk Biscuits

1 stick of cold butter
2 1/4 cups self-rising flour (+ 2 tablespoons for high altitude)
1 1/4 cups buttermilk (or 1 tablespoon of vinegar + enough milk to make 1 1/4 cups)
additional self-rising flour
2 tablespoon butter, melted

Cut butter with a sharp knife into cubes. Put flour into a large bowl and sprinkle butter pieces over the flour, tossing butter into flour. Cut butter into flour with a pastry blender until crumbly and mixture resembles small peas (I did the last part by hand). Cover and chill for 10 minutes.

Remove flour mixture from fridge and add buttermilk (I did the milk and vinegar trick) stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened. Add some more flour if it's too wet. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead 3 or 4 times, gradually adding more flour if needed.

With floured hands press and pat dough into a 3/4 inch thick rectangle (about 9"x 5"). Sprinkle top of dough with a little flour and then fold dough like you would fold a piece of paper into fourths; press dough back into a rectangle and repeat this folding process 2 more times.

Press and pat dough into a 1/2" thick rectangle on the floured surface. Cut dough into circles with the open end of a glass. Place circles onto a lightly greased cookie sheet and bake at 425 for 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from oven and brush hot biscuits with melted 2 tablespoons of butter.

Creamy Fettuccine with Italian Sausage

I made this last night and can I just say it was DELICIOUS. I can say these things about my recipes because they are rarely actually mine. This particular one is from Simply Recipes (over there it's called Fettuccine with Creamy Tomato Italian Sausage Sauce). I don't use a whole lot of Italian sausage so this one was a new twist to pasta for us and it was great. I think it will go into permanent rotation on our menu.

Creamy Fettuccine with Italian Sausage

2 tablespoons olive oil
3 shallots, chopped fine
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb Italian sausage
1 cup heavy cream
2, 14.5 oz cans diced tomatoes, undrained
1 tablespoon dried sage
3/4 lb fettuccine
1/2 cup grated Parmesan, plus more for topping

Heat oil in a large skillet. Add shallots and garlic and saute until they begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Add sausage and cook until no longer pink, breaking up the sausage as it cooks. Add cream and simmer for 5 minutes. Add tomatoes with juices and sage. Simmer until sauce thickens, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook pasta in boiling salted water according to package directions. Drain pasta but reserve 1/2 cup cooking water.

When sauce is ready add pasta to the sauce and toss over medium heat until sauce coats pasta. Add 1/2 cup parmesan cheese and toss. Add cooking water as needed if the mixture is too dry. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle additional Parmesan on top and serve.


My husband served his mission in Russia and one of his favorite foods on his mission was pelmeni (little meat filled dumplings). I made a big batch of pelmeni years ago, but because it was so difficult and time consuming I haven't made them since. Then I saw this pelmeni mold on the internet and wanted to try again so I got it (you can find anything on ebay, I tell you) and made a big batch last week end. The process was so much easier with the mold! And they turned out GREAT. The little dumplings were so cute and of course yummy! This is a great freezer meal!


1 1/2 - 2 cups flour
2 eggs
1/2 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt

In a mixer combine 1 1/2 cups flour, eggs, water and salt and mix adding more flour as needed till a fairly stiff dough forms - you want it to be easy to handle. Form dough into a ball and cover with plastic wrap. Set aside.

1 lb ground pork (or a mixture of pork and beef)
1 onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon fresh chopped dill
1 teaspoon fresh chopped parsley

Mix all together in a large bowl and set aside.

The Process:
Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces. Grease the pelmini mold well with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.
Take one portion of dough and roll it out on a well floured surface until it fits the mold. Place rolled out dough on the mold. Fill all the little indentations with meat mixture (I used a small melon-baller to help me scoop out the meat in consistent portions). Roll out another portion of dough to the size of the mold and lay it over the mold. Run a rolling pin over the top of the mold to form all the little dumplings. Pull off the excess dough from the outer rim and form it into a ball and cover with plastic wrap. Pick up the mold, turn it over and bang like a tambourine to get all the little dumplings out - if you've greased the mold well they should come out when you shake it well. Repeat this process with the other 2 portions of dough. Then with the 2 balls of excess dough (the scraps from around the edge of the mold) you should be able to make a full or partial third batch. The dough will be tougher to roll out, but it can be done!

To Freeze:
Place pelmini on lightly floured wax paper covered cookie sheet and place in freezer. When pelmeni are frozen transfer them to ziplock bags (I ended up with 90 pelmini - enough for 2 dinner for my family).
To cook:
Place frozen pelmini in salted boiling water (or water with chicken bouillon added for extra flavor) and boil till they float. Serve with sour cream and fresh dill or melted butter and vinegar (we like the sour cream and dill way).