Sunday, September 23, 2012

Pumpkin Spice Caramel-Corn

I am re-posting this  recipe in case you missed it when I posted it before! I LOVE this stuff... and it's the perfect time of the year to make it!
This is the best carmel corn and it's really easy to make!! We devoured half of it while still warm!!! I have re-vamped this recipe to how I like it, twice as much sauce to about 12 cups  popcorn. I love the stuff and it's a perfect snack for this time of year! Thanks for the recipe Jill!!

Pumpkin Pie Spice Caramel-Corn
12 cups popped popcorn (approximately, or 1 big bowl full)
1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons  pumpkin pie spice (see recipe below for pumpkin pie spice or you can use store bought)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
Dash of salt

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Pop popcorn in an air popper or you can use microwave popcorn also. In a sauce pan melt butter and add sugar. Bring to a boil and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and add pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon and vanilla. Pour over popcorn and stir to coat well. Dump popcorn into a cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Then eat. Yummo!!

TIP: Do not make popcorn and then leave to do an errand. When you get back, kids will have eaten the entire bowl and you will have to make another batch if you want some :)

2  teaspoons cinnamon
1  teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Mix all together in a small bowl.This is equivalent to 4 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Thin Crust Pizza

As I have said before I love experimenting with pizza and pizza dough. I love watching America's Test Kitchen and Cook's County on PBS, and the week I happened to miss it, Jim watched it and said they made an awesome looking pizza that I needed to try. I love that my husband loves trying different recipes too. And he's a good sport in trying some of the things I cook. It's fun being the cook of the house and cooking whatever I happen to be hungry for... my family is at the mercy of my cravings. This pizza dough was awesome!! But it does take time... the dough needs to sit in the refrigerator over night, and then you have to take it out at least an hour before you want to make your pizza, but it's well worth it so plan ahead. To make the pizza in the picture above, I used oven roasted zucchini, and onions (my garden is abundant in those items) and cherry tomatoes. I also used a jarred spaghetti sauce (love Paul Newman's Sockarooni sauce) and a fresh Belgioioso mozzarella cheese. This pizza dough recipe makes two 12-inch thin crust pizzas. YUM!!

Thin-Crust Pizza
adapted from America's Test Kitchen
Dough Ingredients:
3cups (16 1/2 ounces) bread flour, plus more for work surface (Semolina flour is good to coat the pizza peel)
2teaspoons sugar
1/2teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast
1- 1/3cups ice water (about 10 1/2 ounces)
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
1 1/2teaspoons table salt

Pizza Toppings:
Pizza Sauce (use your favorite jarred or homemade recipe)
1/2 (about) cup grated Parmesan Cheese
2 small zucchini, sliced thinly
1 medium onion,  sliced thinly
(roast your zucchini and onion on a cookie sheet sprayed with non-stick cooking spray for about 8-10 minutes in oven while preheating your pizza stone)
1 lb package sliced Belgioioso Mozzarella Cheese (use how much you like)
1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half

Step 1--In food processor fitted with metal blade, process flour, sugar, and yeast until combined, about 2 seconds. With machine running, slowly add water through feed tube; process until dough is just combined and no dry flour remains, about 10 seconds. Let dough stand 10 minutes.

Add oil and salt to dough and process until dough forms satiny, sticky ball that clears sides of work bowl, 30 to 60 seconds. Remove dough from bowl and knead briefly on lightly oiled counter top until smooth, about 1 minute. Shape dough into tight ball and place in large, lightly oiled bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 24 hours and up to 3 days.

Step 2--TO BAKE THE PIZZA: One hour before baking pizza, adjust oven rack to second highest position (rack should be about 4 to 5 inches below broiler), set pizza stone on rack, and heat oven to 500 degrees. Remove dough from refrigerator and divide in half. Shape each half into smooth, tight ball. Place on lightly oiled baking sheet, spacing them at least 3 inches apart; cover loosely with plastic wrap coated with nonstick cooking spray; let stand for 1 hour.

Step 3--Coat 1 ball of dough generously with flour and place on well-floured counter top. Using fingertips, gently flatten into 8-inch disk, leaving 1 inch of outer edge slightly thicker than center. Using hands, gently stretch disk into 12-inch round, working along edges and giving disk quarter turns as you stretch. Transfer dough to well-floured pizza peel and stretch into 13-inch round. (If you don't have a pizza peel, use the back of a cookie sheet and coat well with Semolina flour and a little bit of Corn meal) Using back of spoon or ladle, spread 1/2 cup Pizza sauce in thin layer over surface of dough, leaving 1/4-inch border around edge. Sprinkle 1/4 cup Parmesan evenly over sauce, followed by the 1/2 of the rest of the pizza toppings (use what I use or your favorite). Slide pizza carefully onto stone and bake until crust is well browned and cheese is bubbly and beginning to brown, 10 to 12 minutes, rotating pizza halfway through. Remove pizza and place on wire rack for 5 minutes before slicing and serving. Repeat the above steps to shape, top, and bake second pizza. Enjoy!!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Cinnamon Chip Banana Cookies

Lately it seems, I buy a bunch of bananas, we eat a couple and then they get too brown for any of us to eat. I like mine still slightly green on the edges. So, that means I've made banana bread, frosted banana bars, and banana muffins alot this summer. I thought it would be nice for a change to make banana cookies so I googled them. I found a lot of different recipes and finally decided to try this one. I also found a frosting recipe from a different recipe blog and combined them together. Sadly, I can't remember the place I found either of them to give credit where credit is due, but I wanted to post them anyway. I took these cookies to work, and by the end of the day the pan was empty so they must of been good. .... and yes I did eat one in the morning before leaving for work. You have to do a quality check on food you share I think. Enjoy with a glass of milk! Yum!!
Cinnamon Chip Banana Cookies
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2¼ cups mashed very, very ripe bananas (about 3 or 4) I didn't measure mine, I just mashed up the 4 very overripe bananas I had.
2 teaspoons baking soda
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups cinnamon chips (I used the Cinnamon Chips from 'The Prepared Pantry' but Hershey's cinnamon chips are good too.)

**Optional additions: instead of cinnamon chips you can use 2 cups raisins or 2 cups chocolate chips and if you like nuts also add 2 cups chopped walnuts or pecans (per whole batch)

Brown Sugar Frosting:
6 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 cup milk
4 tablespoons butter
powdered sugar (start with 1-1/2 cups)
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350F.
Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugars in a large bowl until light and fluffy, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add the eggs and beat until well combined. Beat in the vanilla.

Combine the baking soda and mashed bananas in a small bowl and let sit for 2 minutes to froth a bit. (the baking soda reacts with the acid in the bananas to give the cookies their lift and rise.)
Mix the bananas into the butter mixture until combined.
Whisk together in another medium bowl, the flours, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt, then add to the banana mixture and mix on low speed just until combined. The batter will be more like a thick cake batter than traditional cookie dough.

Stir in the cinnamon chips (or raisins, or chocolate chips, and/or nuts.)  Use a 1/4-cup scoop or 1/4-cup measure to drop cookies onto a heavy duty baking sheet lined with unbleached parchment paper. I can fit 6 cookies on my largest cookie-sheet pan.

If the batter gets too gooey to handle, put it in the freezer for a few minutes to stiffen up. Bake cookies until lightly browned around the edges, about 12-15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

For frosting, combine brown sugar, milk and butter in saucepan; stir over medium heat until it just reaches a rolling boil. Remove pan from heat; beat in enough powdered sugar to make frosting spreadable (start with about 1-1/2 cups adding more if necessary, but remember, this frosting stiffens a bit when it cools); beat in vanilla. I like to put my frosting in a decorator bag and drizzle over the cookies, or you can just spread it over the cookies as well. As this frosting cools, it will become stiffer, if this happens, reheat it in the microwave for a few seconds, or add a bit more milk to thin it. I like to frost the cookies while the frosting  and the cookies - are still just a bit warm, so that it drizzles over the cookie and coats it nicely.

Store in an airtight container or freeze. I think they taste even better the next day, after the flavors have had a chance to mellow and mingle.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Chicken Spaghetti Casserole

I've had this recipe for years!! Back when I worked at the Bakery, a friend I worked with made and brought this into share with all of us! It was delicious! Can you believe I haven't made it at home till now??? The recipe my friend gave was HUGE!!! Enough for 2 big casserole pans full, so when I saw The Pioneer Woman make a similar recipe on the Food Network I had to dig out my recipe and compare. They were similar, some things I liked more about my friends recipe and some I used from The Pioneer Woman's. This was a delicious casserole and since the weather is getting chillier, this would make a great dinner paired with steamed garden veggies and crusty french bread. Enjoy!!

Chicken Spaghetti Casserole
Servings: 6 to 8
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 of a 1- pound package spaghetti noddles, broken into 3rd's (maybe slightly more than a half a box)
1 can cream of chicken or mushroom soup (which ever you have on hand)
1 can of Rico's Condensed Aged Cheddar Cheese Sauce (see photo below)
1 can Ro-tel Tomatoes with green chilies with juice
1/4 cup finely diced green pepper
1/4 cup finely diced red bell pepper
1 medium onion, finely diced
1 or 2 stalks celery, diced
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon Lawry's seasoned salt
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or a little more if you like it spicy)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 to 2  cups chicken broth (use the broth you cook your chicken and spaghetti in)
1 to 2 cups grated Cheddar cheese (depending on how cheesy you want it)

Cook your chicken by bringing a large pot of water to a boil. I like to add a piece of onion, 1/2 of a celery stalk, and a teaspoon of minced garlic to mine (makes yummy broth) Add the chicken pieces to the boiling water and boil for a few minutes, then return the heat to medium-low and simmer for about 30 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.  Remove the chicken from the pot, strain the broth and put back in the pot (be careful, it's hot!) When the chicken is cool, chop into bite size pieces and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large, deep skillet, drizzle a tablespoon or two of Olive oil and heat over medium high heat. Add the celery, bell peppers, and onion and saute until crunchy tender (about 7 to10 minutes)
While the veggies are cooking, cook the spaghetti in the same chicken cooking broth until al dente. Do not overcook (about 7 to 9 minutes depending on how thick your spaghetti is). Save the broth, you will use a little later in your casserole,.
When the veggies are crunchy tender, add the minced garlic and stir for another minute. Then add the chicken or mushroom soup, the Cheese sauce (found in the Mexican food section of most grocery stores)
and  the Rotel tomatoes with juice, seasoned salt, cayenne, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Stir in 1 cup of the chicken cooking broth, adding  a little more  if needed. (you can freeze the leftover broth to make soup with later) Add your cooked and drained spaghetti noodles and about 1 cup grated cheese into this mixtureif desired, stir to combine.
Place the mixture into a a 13x9 casserole dish that has been sprayed with a non-stick cooking spray. Top with the remaining grated cheese. Bake until hot and bubbly, and 30 to 40 minutes. *if the cheese on top starts to get too brown, cover with a sheet of aluminum foil.
Serve with crusty french bread and steamed veggies! Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Triple Chocolate Scones

"Triple chocolate" — you can't argue with that! These scones have chocolate chips studded throughout a tender, just-sweet-enough chocolate scone; the rich chocolate glaze makes this a triple treat. Just what I need for a Saturday morning breakfast! YUM! I served mine with Strawberries topped with Keylime Greek yogurt... nothing like getting your chocolate fix in the morning to help you get through your Saturday house cleaning! Enjoy!

Triple Chocolate Scones
For the Scones:
2 cups All-Purpose Flour
2/3 cup White Whole Wheat Flour or Premium Whole Wheat Flour
1/3 cup Dutch-process cocoa
1/2 teaspoon espresso powder, (optional for flavor and color)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) cold butter, cut into pats
1 1/2 cups semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
3/4 cup milk

For the Glaze:
2/3 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup half & half or liquid coffee creamer

Preheat your oven to 375°F. Lightly grease a baking sheet, or line it with parchment.
To make the scones:
In a large mixing bowl, thoroughly whisk the flours, cocoa, espresso powder, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together.
With a pastry blender, pastry fork, a mixer or, most easily, your fingertips, work in the butter until the mixture is unevenly crumbly.
Next, gently stir in the chocolate chips.
In another medium-size bowl, whisk together the vanilla, egg, and milk.
Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients, stirring until the mixture is evenly moist. You may need to add an additional 2 to 3 tablespoons of milk to make the dough come together. (Depends on where you live and the humidity of the day)
Next, mix 3 tablespoons confectioners' sugar with 1 teaspoon cocoa powder, and sprinkle it on your parchment-lined (or lightly greased) baking sheet. You're using this sugar mixture in place of the usual flour, to keep the scones from sticking to the pan as you shape them.
Divide the dough in half, and place the two pieces onto the baking sheet. Pat them gently into two 6" circles, each about 3/4" thick.
Cut each circle into 6 wedge-shaped pieces with a bench knife or bowl scraper (or sharp knife), pressing down firmly without sawing. You'll find it easier if you dip your cutter in flour after each cut. Make sure you press it into the dough quickly, without twisting or sawing. This shears the dough cleanly rather than pressing it together, which allows the scones to rise higher. (gently separate just a little with a spatula for more even baking)
Bake the scones for 15 to 20minutes, until they lose their moist look, and a cake tester inserted into the center of one comes out clean; or with just a smear of chocolate from a melting chip.
Remove the scones from the oven, and transfer them to a rack to cool.
To make the glaze:
Place the chocolate chips and half & half in a microwave-safe bowl or small saucepan. Heat in the microwave (or over low heat) until the cream is very hot. Remove from the heat, and stir until the chips melt, and the mixture is smooth.
Drizzle/spread the glaze over the cooled scones.
Yield: 12 scones.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Smoked Pork Loin

I LOVE new cookbooks, I just want to make everything!!! I got a new Best Grilling Recipes from Cook's Country and have spent lots of evenings drooling over the pictures. Does anyone else do that? I would love to try out a recipe everyday! Anyway, this recipe was in there, but I tweaked it a bit to what I had on hand. We loved it! It was juicy and flavorful,  I love anything smoked in my smoker. I served this with steamed veggies and red mashed potatoes. Enjoy!

Smoked Pork Loin
1/4 cup dijon mustard
1/4 cup whiskey such as Jack Daniel's (or if you prefer just add chicken broth instead)
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 Tablespoon minced garlic
1 (2-1/2 to 3 pound) boneless pork loin

Spice Rub:
1 Tablespoon paprika
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

To make the marinade; whisk the mustard, whiskey (or chicken broth) soy sauce, sugar, Worcestershire, and garlic together. Place the pork loin in a gallon-sized Ziploc baggie and pour the marinade over. Press the air out and seal the bag. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 8 hours. (I let mine marinate overnight and put on the smoker in the morning) Flip the bag over halfway through marinating time.

Make the spice rub by combining the paprika, sugar, chili powder, cumin, oregano, pepper, salt and cayenne in a small bowl. Remove the pork loin from the marinade and pat dry with paper towels. Rub the spice mixture evenly over the pork loin, then wrap with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for an hour before grilling. (You can refrigerate for up to 24 hours like this, but let sit at room temperature for an hour)

There are lots of different ways to grill or smoke this. I used my Treager smoker. I heated it on high for 5 minutes until there was a good fire going; then turned to smoke and let the pork loin smoke all Sunday morning (for about 3 to 4 hours depending on how big the pork loin is)

If you have a gas grill, you can soak about 2 cups of wood chips in water and seal in a foil packet, then place the packet directly on the primary burner. Turn all the burners to high, cover, and heat the grill until hot and wood chips begin to smoke heavily (about 15 minutes) Leave the primary burner on high, and turn off the others. (You want to maintain the grill temperature between 350 to 400 degrees). Place the pork, fat side up, on the cool part of the grill away from the coals and flames. Cover and cook until the meat registers 130 to 135 degrees on an instant read thermometer (this takes about an hour on a gas grill)

When pork is done transfer the pork to a carving board and tent loosely with foil. Let this rest for about 15 to 20 minutes. Slice the pork into 1/2 inch thick slices and serve.
I served with Barbecue Sauce, you can make your own or use your favorite kind from the store ( I like the Kraft Chipotle flavor)

Here's an easy BBQ sauce if you need one.
Pantry Barbecue Sauce
1-1/2 cups Ketchup
1/2 cup molasses
2 Tablespoons cider vinegar
1-1/2 teaspoons hot sauce
1/2 to 1  teaspoon liquid smoke
Salt and pepper to taste.

Whisk all of the ingredients together in a bowl, season with Salt and pepper to taste and serve. Can be stored in the refrigerated for up to 4 days.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Coffee Cake Muffins with Salted Maple Glaze

Happy 1st day of September!!! I love autumn, I think Spring and Autumn are my favorite seasons... I love the crispiness that's in the air but it's still warm enough for Capri's and flip flops. I ran across this recipe here and didn't change a thing other than I use grape seed oil rather than regular vegetable or canola oils. I love the smell of baking muffins on a crispy morning.These were wonderful with the streusel topping and maple glaze, and I love the way the applesauce makes them taste! I suggest eating while still warm from the oven with fruit in the morning for breakfast! Enjoy!!

Coffee Cake Muffins with Salted Maple Glaze

Streusel ingredients:
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt
1 cup finely chopped pecans or walnuts
1 tablespoon melted butter

Muffin ingredients:
1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil (or grapeseed oil)
2 eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream or Greek yogurt, room temperature
1/2 cup applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup sugar
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Glaze ingredients
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk
2 teaspoons maple flavoring
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a muffin tin with liners and set aside.
In a small mixing bowl, use a fork to mix together streusel ingredients. Add the chopped pecans and melted butter. Mix until all ingredients are combined. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, mix together the oil, eggs, sour cream or yogurt, applesauce and vanilla. Add sugar a little at a time until sugar is dissolved. You may use beaters or mix by hand.
In another bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet and stir till evenly moistened. Do not over-mix.
Scoop batter into each lined muffin tin. Fill the muffin cups evenly.
Sprinkle about 2 tablespoons of streusel on the top of each muffin.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool while making glaze.
Place powdered sugar, milk, maple flavoring and melted butter into small bowl. Whisk together. Add salt and mix well. Spoon the glaze into a small plastic bag.
Work the frosting into the corner of the bag and snip off a small corner with scissors. Gently squeeze and drizzle the frosting in a zig-zag pattern across the top of the muffins.
 Eat while still warm.... as you can see I did! LOL!

Portabella Mushroom Tacos

I love tacos. My hubby and I thought it would be awesome to see if we could do a meatless Monday  and Portabella mushrooms have a grea...