Saturday, March 24, 2012

Macaroni Grill Rosemary Bread

I love bread.... Any kind of bread....especially if it's warm from the oven. Last Sunday afternoon I felt like baking and bread just sounded good. I had ran across this recipe here and just had to give it a try. It's Rosemary Bread like you get at the Macaroni Grill... I love the stuff. The recipe was easy and it smelled sooooo good while baking! It came out of the oven right when Jim and I needed an afternoon snack... I think we ate 3/4's of the loaf warm with butter! YUM! Enjoy!

Macaroni Grill Rosemary Bread
adapted from melskitchencafe.com
*Makes 2 loaves

INGREDIENTS:
1 tablespoon instant yeast or 1 1/2 tablespoons active dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 cups warm water
2 3/4 - 4 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 tablespoons dried rosemary, chopped and divided
2 tablespoons butter, melted
Coarse salt for sprinkling

DIRECTIONS:
In a large bowl (or the bowl of an electric stand mixer if you have one), combine the yeast, sugar and water. If using active dry yeast, let the mixture stand until foaming and bubbly, about 5 minutes. If using instant yeast, proceed with the recipe. Add two cups of the flour, salt and 1 tablespoon of the chopped rosemary. Mix. Continue adding flour, gradually, until a soft dough is formed. Judge the dough based on texture and feel versus how much actual flour you've had to add based on the recipe. The dough should be slightly tacky to the touch but should hold it's shape while still being soft and smooth. Knead the dough by hand or with an electric mixer for 4-5 minutes, adding additional flour only if the dough is overly sticky and not clearing the sides of the bowl.

Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl and cover with greased plastic wrap. Let the dough rise until doubled in size, approximately 1-2 hours, depending on the warmth of your kitchen. Once doubled, gently deflate the dough and divide in half. Prepare a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper, a silpat liner or lightly grease with cooking spray. Shape the dough into two smooth, oval shaped loaves and place them on the baking sheet, one on each half of the tray so they have room to rise and bake without touching. Use a brush to slather the melted butter over the top of the loaves. Continue brushing on the butter until it is gone (the loaves will be well-saturated). Sprinkle the remaining chopped rosemary over the top of the loaves, patting down gently to set into the dough, if needed. Cover the loaves with lightly greased plastic wrap and let them rise again until puffy and nearly doubled, about an hour (again, the exact time will depend on temperature so judge the dough by how it looks).
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Lightly sprinkle coarse salt over the top of the loaves. Bake the loaves for 18-20 minutes until browned and baked through. Transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Orecchiette With Spicy Sausage and Chicken

I just got my new Food Network Magazine and this recipe was inside.... just what I was craving lately! Pasta!! I especially like the little Orecchiette pasta (it looks like little ears or hats.. too cute and yummy) I have a similar recipe on my blog like this with hot sausage but this one's not quite as saucy... but it's still good! I added some diced cooked chicken to the recipe as well, because I had some I needed to use up and I thought it would be good. I served mine with cheesy french bread and a tossed green salad. Enjoy!!

Orecchiette With Spicy Sausage and Chicken
Recipe adapted from Food Network Magazine
Serves:4 servings

Ingredients:
Kosher salt
12 ounces orecchiette pasta
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
8 ounces fresh chorizo or other spicy sausage, casings removed ( I used hot Italian sausage)
2 cups chopped cooked chicken breasts
2 spring onions (white and light green parts only), thinly sliced, plus more for topping ** See note below
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced (or minced)
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced ( I just used sliced button mushrooms because that's what I had)
Freshly ground pepper
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1 Tablespoon fresh basil, chopped (Optional, but I LOVE basil so I added it. )
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup grated pecorino or parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

Directions
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook as the label directs. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the sausage and cook, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, until it begins to brown, about 3 minutes. Add the spring onions and cook until softened, about 3 more minutes. Add the cooked chicken, garlic, mushrooms, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste; cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms start to brown, about 3 minutes. Add the cherry tomatoes and fresh basil and cook until the tomatoes soften slightly, about 3 more minutes.
Reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water, then drain the pasta. Add the broth to the skillet and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Stir in the pasta and cheese, adding some of the reserved cooking water to loosen, if necessary. Season with salt and pepper.
 Divide among bowls, drizzle with olive oil and top with more cheese and spring onions. Serve with cheesey french bread and salad if desired-- YUM!

**NOTE: Spring onions have small mild bulbs with green tops. If you can't find them use a bunch of green onions or scallions.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Carbonara-Style Fettuccine with Grilled Asparagus and Lemon-Herb Breadcrumbs

Don't you love Springtime?? As least when it looks like spring outside... we had a period of lovely weather that made me get spring fever and then we woke up to snow this morning! Ugh! But spring does officially start this Wednesday, the 21st! Woo hoo! I love the fresh fruit and vegetables that become available in Spring... like strawberries, blackberries, but most of all Asparagus!! I  LOVE Asparagus! I remember in the good old days when I was young, going Asparagus hunting along the ditch banks (yes, I'm a country girl) we would get tons of Asparagus for free! Now you can't find it there anymore..at least when I've looked, either someone beats me to it or it could be that most of the ditch banks have disappeared due to the fact they have invented sprinkler pipes and water pumps.... I hate spending more that $2 a pound for it, so I LOVE it when it becomes available in the markets for under that. I watched Rachel Ray the other day on Saturday morning and she made this recipe (you can find the original recipe here )and knew I just had to give it shot! It was really good! I made mine with cooked bacon because I couldn't find pancetta in the stores I have available, plus I had some on hand that I needed to use up. I also added a little diced onion instead of chives... because that's what I hand as well. I certainly wasn't disappointed! This was delicious! I served mine with meatballs on the side! Enjoy!!

Carbonara-Style Fettuccine  with Grilled Asparagus and Lemon-Herb Breadcrumbs
Recipe adapted from Rachael Ray
Serves: 4 servings.

Ingredients:
1 pound asparagus, tough ends trimmed
4 tablespoons Olive oil, plus more for drizzling
2 tablespoons butter
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1 cup breadcrumbs (I used 1/2 cup Panko Crumbs and 1/2 cup regular breadcrumbs
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (I used 1 Tablespoon dried, because that is what I had)
6 slices pepper bacon, sliced into bite size pieces
1/2 cup finely diced onion
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
1/2 cup chicken broth
3 egg yolks
1 pound Fettuccine (I used a little over half of a 1 pound package because I'm cooking for 2, use the whole pound if you need more servings)
1 cup grated Romano Cheese (you could use grated Parmesan too if that's what you have)
 Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:
Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Lightly drizzle the asparagus with olive oil, then grill until charred, evenly marked and tender, 7 to 10 minutes. Cut into 1-inch pieces on an angle, or thinly slice if the asparagus is thick.  OR you can do like I did, I preheated my oven to 350 degrees, and spread my asparagus in a single layer on a large cookie sheet that I had lightly sprayed with a non-stick cooking spray, I drizzled the asparagus with Olive oil, and then baked for 8 to 10 minutes until tender.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta.

Heat 1 tablespoon Olive Oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Melt the butter into the oil; when it foams, stir in the lemon zest, then add the breadcrumbs and stir until moistened. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the breadcrumbs are deep golden. Stir in the parsley and remove from the heat.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring occasionally until the bacon is crispy tender (drain some of the bacon fat if there's a lot, leave about 1 Tablespoon in the skillet) Add the diced onion and cook for another 3 minutes; then add the garlic and stir for 1 to 2 more minutes, then add the chicken broth  and reduce the heat to medium low and let simmer for another 2 to 3 minutes., then turn to low.

Lightly beat the egg yolks in a small bowl.

Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until al dente. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking water just before draining the pasta, and beat it into the egg yolks to temper them.
To temper the egg yolks add the pasta water a little at a time while whisking briskly (this will keep them from turning into scrambled eggs when you add to the pasta mixture)
Add the asparagus to the bacon mixture and heat through.
Drain the pasta and add it to the skillet with the asparagus and bacon. Pour the egg mixture over the top, turn off the heat and toss for 1 minute (I actually left my heat on medium low and cooked for 1 to 2 minutes to kind of thicken the sauce mixture) adding the cheese in the last few seconds. Taste and add a little Salt and pepper if necessary.
Divide the pasta among shallow bowls and top with lots of the lemon-herb breadcrumbs.  Enjoy!!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Chocolate Peanut Butter No Bake Cookies

 Okay... does anyone else always HAVE to make cookies or something on Sunday afternoon?? Today was no exception... and all of a sudden this afternoon, I was craving good old no-bake cookies. I have not been able to  find my mom's recipe anywhere for a long time for these cookies. Since then I have been on the search for a recipe that was similar... my mom's didn't have peanut butter in it though, and that's all I've been able to find, but peanut butter and chocolate go hand in hand I guess. I also remembered going to my friends house when I was in the 7th grade and they had fresh No-bake cookies that were gooey and delicious, I think they didn't have cocoa or something so they substituted chocolate syrup....hmmmmm. I found a recipe that wasn't very large, and it looked yummy but I substituted a square of unsweetened chocolate to see if I could get a bit of the gooey that I remembered my childhood friend's cookies having. I think this recipe was good and close to what I remembered! I ate 5 while they were still warm and slightly gooey! YUMMO!!

Chocolate Peanut Butter No-bake Cookies
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup milk
1- 1-ounce square unsweetened chocolate
1/4 cup chunky peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups oatmeal (I used the quick oats, but old fashioned would work too)

Combine the sugar, butter and milk together in a medium size saucepan. Cook over medium/high heat, stirring constantly until mixture comes to a boil, turn heat down a little (you want it to keep boiling but not to burn) and STOP stirring, let this boil on it's own for 1 minute. (Be sure it boils for 1 whole minute and don't stir even though you will be tempted to... it goes grainy and sugary if you do.)
Remove from heat and add the chocolate and the peanut butter, let sit in the top mixture for a minute to get melty then stir to help melt and combine. Then stir in the vanilla. Next add the oats and stir to combine.
Drop by Tablespoons onto waxed paper. (As you can see I just had waxed paper on my stove top, not too pretty of a picture, but the cookies were yummo!) let cool and enjoy!! or if you are like me, let cool till you candle handle them and eat two before anyone notices!!
Makes about 16 cookies

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Bacon and Cheddar Scones

I love the laziness of Saturday mornings!! I sleep in and when I wake up I watch the food network in bed until my stomach growls so loud my hubby kicks me out of bed to go make breakfast. I ran across this recipe on the Internet one evening (click here for the original recipe). I LOVE scones... both the biscuit type and the kind that is fried bread. Usually the biscuit type are a sweeter version... this is a savory version but it is sooooo good for Breakfast or brunch! These were pretty easy to make too! I liked mine cut in half with a runny egg on top YUM! My hubby liked his better warm from the oven with honey butter on it! Either way its a good way to start a Saturday I think!  I served these with cut up fruit with yogurt on the top for a side. Enjoy!
Bacon and Cheddar Scones
Yield: 8 large scones
Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons butter, frozen
1/2 cup sour cream
1 large egg
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 pound bacon, cooked, cooled, and chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
1/4 cup heavy cream

Directions:
 Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Cook your bacon as desired, I like to cook mine in the oven at about 400 degrees, I place bacon on a cooling rack which I have placed in a cookie sheet and I bake for about 20 minutes. Perfect bacon! When done remove from oven and let cool until you can handle it, and chop into pieces.
While bacon cooks, Saute your onion in a Tablespoon of hot oil in a small skillet, this only take about 5 minutes.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
 In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Using the large holes of a  grater, grate the frozen butter into flour mixture. Use the tips of your fingers to work in the butter (the dough will be crumbly).
In a small bowl, whisk the sour cream and egg until smooth.
Using a fork, stir sour cream mixture into flour mixture until large dough clumps form. Stir in the cheese, bacon and onion until they are well incorporated into the dough.
Use your hands to press the dough against the bowl into a ball. At first it may seem like there isn’t enough liquid, but as you press, the dough will come together.
Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and pat into about a 6-inch by 15-inch rectangle about 3/4-inch thick.
Use a sharp knife to cut the dough into 8 triangles; I do this by cutting the rectangle in half, then each half in half again so you have 4 squares, and then cut each square at a diagonal and viola! you have 8 triangles!
place the scones onto prepared baking sheet. Use a pastry brush to lightly brush the tops of the scones with heavy cream, this will help you achieve a nice golden brown color. Bake until golden, about 15 to 17 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes and serve warm or at room temperature.
Notes:
- If you really want to take these to the next level, slice a scone in half and top each half with a fried egg.
- These scones are best served the day they are made.

Creamy Poblano Pepper Strips

I had made this recipe last fall when I saw it on the Food Network show "Mexican made easy" but wasn't sure if I liked it enough to blog. I made it again the other day because I had some Poblano peppers I needed to use up and YUM!!  I grilled chicken strips that I had marinated in McCormick's Chipotle marinade and made tacos with them and used these Creamy Poblano Pepper Strips to go on top along with a little Salsa! YUMMO!! Best Tacos that we've had in a while. You could also just serve this recipe as a side dish to Enchilada's or tamales or what ever you happen to be making. I tweaked it just a bit to what I had on hand, my tweaks are in parenthesis. Enjoy!!

Creamy Poblano Pepper Strips
Serves:
4 to 6 servings (or 2 cups)

Ingredients:
4 to 6 fresh poblano chiles* (or canned, peeled)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium white onion, thinly sliced
2 ears corn, kernels removed (or 1 cup frozen corn, thawed)
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup Mexican crema or creme fraiche (3 ounces cream cheese, brought to room temperature)
1/2 cup, shredded Monterrey jack cheese (colby jack or pepper jack are good too!)
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper

Directions:
Char the poblano chiles directly over the gas flame on the stove or under the broiler until blackened on all sides. Enclose in a plastic bag and let steam for about 10 minutes.

Add the oil to a heavy large skillet over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the onion and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the corn and cook for an additional 3 minutes. Set aside.

Peel and seed the chiles. Cut the chiles into 1/4 to 1/2-inch strips  and add the strips to the onion and corn mixture and saute until the corn is tender, about 5 minutes. Add the heavy cream and Mexican crema (or cream cheese) stir and cook until bubbling, about for 8 minutes. Add the grated cheese and stir until melted and smooth. Season the Peppers with salt and pepper, to taste. Transfer to a serving dish and serve as a side or garnish for tacos. (This is what it looks like since my above picture it was on tacos!)

Notes:
*Cook's Note: The poblano chile is a fresh chile that ranges from mild to hot. It is a deep, dark green color and is large and wide with shiny skin. Ripened on the plant and dried it is known as "chile ancho" or "pasilla." They can also be found at most supermarkets or Latin specialty markets. Just keep your eye out, as some stores sell them fresh under the name "pasilla."
A great filling for tacos. You can use virtually any chile but a mild poblano adds the perfect amount of spice to any dish.