Saturday, December 28, 2013

Hot Corn Dip with Poblano Peppers


I saw a few versions of this recipe on the internet and had been wanting to try it out for quite a while. On my treat-the-office day I thought I would give it a try. But I tweaked it a bit, I used the Pioneer woman's recipe for a guide line to start with but I tweaked it bit to what I was dreaming about. I LOVE roasted poblano peppers, they are spicy but not as spicy as jalapenos and I LOVE smokey paprika and smokey cheese. I thought all of those flavors would be so awesome in a corn dip. So this is what I came up with. Also rather than cooking in the oven in a dish that would cool off later, I made mine in the crock pot and kept it warm all day. This dip was the first thing to go at my office party. This would be a yummy dip for a New Year's Eve party or even a super bowl party. Enjoy!!

Hot Corn Dip with Poblano Peppers
Recipe adapted from  Ree DrummondIngredients:
3 poblano peppers, roasted and diced (see directions below for roasting)
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced (you can either roast this with the Poblano's or buy already roasted in a jar)
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) butter
1 medium onion, finely diced

1 heaping teaspoon minced  garlic
1-- 2-lb.  bag frozen corn, thawed
1/2 teaspoon smokey paprika
Salt and pepper

8 ounces cream cheese, softened.
1/2 cup mayonnaise, I did a heaping half cup
1/2 cup sour cream, I did a heaping half cup of this too!

1  cup grated Monterrey jack cheese
1/2 cup smokey cheddar

Tortilla chips or pita crisps, for serving

Directions
To roast the Poblano peppers and the red bell pepper, heat the broiler in your oven for a few minutes with the rack about 5 or 6 inches away from the broiler. Place peppers in the oven and let broil about 3 to 5 minutes or until they start to bubble and blacken, turn, and let broil until that side starts to bubble and blacken. When all sides are roasted, remove peppers from the oven and place in a glass bowl and cover tightly with saran wrap--this helps the peppers steam so you can remove the skins easily. In about 10 to 15 minutes when the peppers are cool enough to handle, remove the skins, the seeds and stem. Then cut into strips and dice. Set aside.

Melt one tablespoon of the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook for a few minutes, until they start to turn translucent, add the garlic and saute for another minute. Remove from the skillet into a bowl and set aside.

Melt the rest of the butter in the skillet and add the thawed corn, the paprika, and a dash or two of salt and pepper; saute and stir until the corn gets browned a little.

In a crock pot bowl, combine  the cream cheese, mayonnaise, sour cream and stir until combined. Add the Monterey jack cheese, the smokey cheddar, the corn mixture, and the roasted peppers and stir to combine thoroughly. Taste at this point and add more salt and pepper or a little ground chipotle pepper if you desire more heat. Heat in the crock pot over medium or high heat (depending on your crock -pot) until the dip is hot and bubbly. Turn down to warm and serve with tortilla chips or pita crisps for dipping.
Enjoy!

**You can adjust the heat of this dip by adding ground chipotle pepper, or using a few jalapeno peppers as desired.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Cordelia's Roast Beef

I love watching the food network. I watched Trisha's show where she cooked this pot roast and it looked so amazing I had to give it a try. I did tweak it a bit; I added rosemary and thyme, love those 2 seasonings with roast. I also cooked mine in the oven instead of on the stove top and it worked just fine! I loved this roast. It does make a lot of gravy, but that's good warmed up with a little leftover roast served over toast for a hot roast beef sandwich! Hope you enjoy as much as we did! YUMMO

Cordelia's Roast Beef
Adapted from Home Cooking with Trisha Yearwood (c) Clarkson Potter 2010


Ingredients:
2 to 3 tablespoons salt
1 teaspoon crushed rosemary
1 teaspoon crushed thyme
One 3-pound eye of round beef roast
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
Two 10-ounce cans French onion soup
One 10-ounce can condensed Golden mushroom soup,
3-3/4 cups water

1 Tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cold water


Directions:

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.Rub the salt, rosemary, and thyme into the meat very well. Coat the meat with the flour.
Heat the vegetable oil in a large cast-iron Dutch oven and sear the roast on all sides. Transfer the roast to a platter and scrape the pan to loosen the drippings. Add the French onion and mushroom soups and 3 3/4 cups water to the pan. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Return the roast and its juices to the pan, cover and cook in the oven until the meat is tender, about 3 hours. Remove the roast to a platter or cutting board to rest. Mix the cornstarch with 1/4 cup water and stir into gravy, let gravy boil while stirring. 

Gravy should be slightly thickened
Slice and serve with the pan gravy.

This gravy makes a lot! it's great on Garlic mashed potatoes !

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Hot Cocoa Cookies

Here's another cookie you may want to add to your Christmas baking list..... it was YUMMO! I ran across this recipe here and they looked too good to not try. My grandma Lucy used to make chocolate cookies with Marshmallow's on them and then frosted with chocolate icing, I Loved them when I was a kid. I have a similar recipe posted from a while back, but these were a richer chocolate and not so cakey of a cookie as those. Plus I love the fact that you put sprinkles on them. One thing I found was my icing stiffened up while waiting for my cookies to finish baking...either wait till they are all baked before icing (I couldn't, I wanted to taste one) or if it stiffens up, just add a 1/2 teaspoon hot water and stir till smooth; that should fix it, if not add just a drop or two more water. Leave a plate of these out for Santa Claus on Christmas Eve... I guarantee there won't be any left in the morning!! Enjoy!

Hot Cocoa Cookies
Yield: Makes about 50 (small) cookies

INGREDIENTS:

For the cookies-
1/2 cup (1 stick)  butter, softened
12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1- 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 -1/4 cups brown sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
25 (apx.) large marshmallows
For the icing -
2 cups powdered sugar
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup hot water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Assorted sprinkles

DIRECTIONS:

Make the cookies-
1.) In a medium saucepan (or in a microwave safe bowl, using 50% power), melt the butter and chocolate, stirring frequently. Once melted, set aside to cool slightly.
2.) In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt.
3.) In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the sugar, eggs and vanilla on low speed until well combined.
4.) Add the cooled chocolate mixture and blend until just combined.
5.) While mixing, add the flour mixture slowly and blend until just combined.
Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then cover the dough and refrigerate about 1 hour. If making the dough a day ahead, let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before shaping.
6.) Preheat oven to 325*F. and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or a silpat type liner. Use a tablespoon (or a tablespoon sized cookie scoop) to scoop the dough, then roll the dough in your hands to create balls. Arrange the balls about 2 inches apart on your baking sheets, then flatten slightly.
Bake cookies about 12 minutes.
7.) While the cookies bake, cut the large marshmallows in half (crosswise). When the cookies have baked, remove from oven and press one marshmallow half (cut side down) into the center of each cookie. Return the cookies to the oven and bake another 2-3 minutes. Allow the pan of cookies to cool a few minutes, then transfer cookies to cooling rack.
8.) Prepare cookie icing by combining all ingredients in a medium bowl and mixing together with a whisk. Place wire cooling rack (with cookies on it) over a baking sheet (to catch any excess icing). Spoon a small amount of icing onto the top of each marshmallow, and use the back of the spoon to spread it a bit. After icing just a couple cookies, top with sprinkles before the icing dries.
9.) Allow icing to set up about 30 minutes before serving.
Recipe source- Cookie base adapted from Rachael Ray, final cookies by Glorious Treats
Cookies can be stored in an airtight container up to 2 days. Change the sprinkles to coordinate with various holidays.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Cocoa Kiss Cookies


I can't believe I haven't posted this recipe yet! It's been a favorite of mine for a long time! I used to make these at Christmas time every year when my kids were little. We always made 8 to 10 different kinds of cookies and bars and take plates to neighbors and send baskets to family living far away. How did I ever find time for all of that??? Anyway, if you are making cookies for Christmas treats, these are a good one to try. LOVE 'em! You could make with any kind/ flavor of Hershey's kisses, I usually use the kisses with Almonds, but I've used the Hugs,  and caramel kisses would be yummo, oh and maybe even the peppermint ones! Enjoy!

Cocoa Kiss Cookies
INGREDIENTS:
1 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup chopped pecans
1 (9 ounce) bag milk chocolate candy kisses (I like to use the ones with almonds in the middle too sometimes)
1 cup powdered sugar (for coating when done)






DIRECTIONS:
1.In a medium bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Stir in the vanilla. Combine the flour and cocoa, add to the flour mixture, mix until all of the flour is absorbed. Finally, stir in the pecans. Cover and refrigerate dough for at least 1/2 an hour.
2.Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Unwrap chocolate kisses. Mold about 1 tablespoon of dough around each chocolate kiss. Place 1- 1/2 inches apart onto a parchment lined cookie sheet
3.Bake for 10 - 12 minutes in the preheated oven, or until set. Cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Roll cooled cookies in powdered sugar.

Enjoy!

Snowflake Sugar cookies

I figured since it's close to Christmas I had better do some baking-- I have done some baking but have been too busy to post any of the recipes!! This is my favorite sugar cookie recipe! Ever since I learned how to decorate sugar cookies this way at one of my kitchen meetings I love experimenting with it. I have posted this recipe before but I will post again in case you missed it.

Sugar Cookies
1 cup butter (no substitutions), softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Cream together butter and sugar in large mixing bowl until light and fluffy--about 2 minutes. Add egg and flavorings and mix to incorporate.
In a separate bowl whisk together  the flour, baking powder, and salt.
Add slowly to the butter mixture and mix to combine. 
When your dough is made, instead of putting it in the fridge, immediately roll between 2 sheets of waxed or parchment paper until it's about 1/4 thick. Place on a cookie sheet and then put in the fridge. Chill for about 20-30 minutes. This way it chills faster and the bonus is that you don't need to add extra flour to roll it out. Just remove the top layer of wax paper and cut with your desired cookie cutter. Move from the wax paper to another cookie sheet lined with parchment paper for baking with a spatula. Continue until your cookie sheet is full (you can roll out the scraps again between the two pieces of wax paper.)
Bake at 350 for 8 to 12 minutes. The baking time really depends on how you like them and how thick your dough is. If you like  them slightly chewy, about 8 to 9 minutes does it --this is what I do. If you like them slightly crisp and buttery, then go for 10 to 12.
Cool completely before icing.

Glace Icing
1 pound powdered sugar (about 3 and 3/4 cups)
6 Tablespoons whole milk
6 Tablespoons Corn Syrup
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
A Dash of salt

With a whisk or electric mixer, combine sugar and milk until smooth (no lumps!) Then stir in corn syrup and extract and dash of salt. 
You will use this same recipe for both glazing and piping. The way it is right now is the consistency you want for glazing (or flooding). It's smooth and thin. It easily runs off the whisk in a pretty thin drizzle.

To prepare the icing for piping (or outlining) you just add more powdered sugar. Just eyeball it. You can't really mess it up because if it's too thick you just add more milk and if it's too thin, you add more powdered sugar. I add it in small amounts until it's a good consistency. For me it's when it gets to a point where it's relatively hard to whisk by hand. When I pick up the whisk, it still runs off, but in a very slow, thick stream.... also you should almost be able to count to ten when you run a spoon through the middle of it by the time it runs back together.
Take your glazing icing and color to whatever colors you like. I use colored piping icing in decorator bags for adding details after the cookie has been flooded and allowed to dry for about half an hour. 

To see some of the other cookies I have done go here and for a quick tutorial on how to flood and ice cookies go here. I only wait about 15 minutes between outlining and flooding... and dragging a toothpick in your flooding icing on the cookie will help you fill in the area. I hope you have as much fun decorating cookies this way as I do, and that they turn out for you! :)

Baklava



I love Baklava, every year or most every year one of the ladies I work with brings this for our 'Treat the office" day, and I can't stay away from it. While this is not her recipe, I did find a good one here, I followed the recipe pretty much as it is. The only thing I did different was use both Walnuts and Pecans... love them both! Also I didn't bake mine for 45 mnutes... it looked good and brown with 35, everyone's ovens are different so start with 35 minutes and go from there. Enjoy!

Baklava
Ingredients
  • 1 package Phyllo Dough
  • 4 cups Chopped Walnuts Or Pecans, finely chopped
       (use both! I did 2 c. Pecans, and 2 c. Walnuts)
  • 1 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1-1/2 stick Butter, Melted
  • 2 cups Honey
  • 1/2 cup Water
  • 1/2 cup Sugar
  • 3 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
Preparation Instructions
Remove phyllo dough package from freezer and place in the fridge for 24 hours to thaw. Remove from fridge 1 hour before using.
When working with the phyllo dough, only remove the sheets you immediately need, keeping the other sheets covered in plastic wrap, then a damp cloth.
Toss together the chopped walnuts and cinnamon. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Thoroughly butter a rectangular baking pan. Make sure the sheets of phyllo will generally fit the pan (if they're a little bigger, that's okay.) If they're much bigger, just trim them with a sharp knife.
Butter the top sheet of phyllo with melted butter, then grab it and the unbuttered sheet below it. Set the two sheets in the pan, buttered sheet face down. Press lightly into the pan. Repeat this twice more, so that you have six sheets of phyllo in the pan, three of the sheets buttered.
Sprinkle on enough walnuts to make a single layer. Butter two sheets of phyllo and place them on top of the walnuts. Add more walnuts, then two more buttered phyllo sheets. Repeat this a couple more times, or until you're out of walnuts. Top with 4 more buttered phyllo sheets, ending with a buttered top. Cut a diagonal diamond pattern in the baklava using a very sharp knife.
Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until the baklava is very golden brown.
While the baklava is baking, combine 1 stick of the butter, honey, water, sugar, and vanilla in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low.
When you remove the baklava from the oven, drizzle half the saucepan evenly all over the top. Allow it to sit and absorb for a minute, then drizzle on a little more until you think it's thoroughly moistened. (You'll likely have some of the honey mixture leftover, which you can save in the refrigerator... I mixed mine with a little left over cinnamon syrup and used it for pancakes YUM)
Allow the baklava to cool, uncovered, for several hours. Once cool and sticky and divine, carefully remove them from the pan and serve with coffee (or give as gifts!)

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

my my my, Key Lime Pie

oh my goodness... I LOVE key lime anything, and when I ran across this recipe here I just had to try it. I made it for Thanksgiving and man oh man, was it good. It was light and not too sweet! Perfect for Thanksgiving especially when you have Pecan pie and pumpkin pie as well. I followed the recipe to a 'T' except I couldn't find bottle Key lime juice, so I used regular, but with extra lemon juice in it, (I filled my measuring cup almost to the 1/2 cup mark with lime juice, then topped it off with lemon juice, besides the 1 Tablespoon of lemon juice that the recipe calls for) It was YUMMO!! Top it off with Redi Whip and your set! Enjoy!!

My, My, My, Key Lime Pie
For the crust:
2 cups graham cracker crumbs, crushed with a food processor
(about 1 ½ packages)
1/3 cup butter melted
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Mix together in a large bowl. Press onto bottom and 1” up the sides a 9” greased spring form pan or a pie plate. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes. Cool.


For the filling:
3 large eggs, separated
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
½ cup key lime juice
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons grated lime peel
2 tablespoons sugar

Whisk egg yolks; add condensed milk and next three ingredients. Beat egg whites until foamy with mixer. Gradually add 2 tablespoons sugar beating until soft peaks form. Fold into yolk mixture, spoon into prepared crust. Bake at 325 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes, until set. Cover and chill for 4- 8 hours. 

When ready to serve, place a piece of pie on a plate and top with whipped cream! Enjoy!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Thanksgiving leftovers...

If you are looking for things to do with Thanksgiving leftovers, here is a couple of ideas. Besides the yummy leftover sandwiches, and just warming everything up and eating Thanks giving all over again, I like to make Turkey Jambalaya, or Turkey pot pie (see recipe for Chicken pot pie) just substitute turkey for the chicken and add any leftover vegetables you have, and mashed potatoes are good added to the broth to thicken it and make it a little more creamy.
This year, I made Shepherd's Pie, I used my leftover mashed potatoes of course, but I added my leftover green bean casserole to the meat mixture! It was delicious! Then for lunch yesterday we made these Pannini sandwiches for lunch!! so delicious! You have to give them a try! YUMMO! (we loved them so much, I had eaten mine before I took a picture, so I had to 'borrow' one from the internet)

Leftover Thanksgiving Turkey Pesto Pannini's
Ingredients:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 loaf of French bread, cut into 3-4 equal pieces (or I used a Square loaf of  California Sourdough bread, love it for Pannini's)
1/2 cup pesto, homemade or store-bought
Sun dried Tomatoes, sliced in Olive Oil (Optional)
4-8 ounces mozzarella, sliced
2 cups chopped leftover Thanksgiving turkey
2 Roma tomatoes, thinly sliced
1 avocado, halved, seeded, peeled and sliced

Instructions
Heat olive oil in a grill pan over medium-high heat. Slightly toast bread in toaster if you are using the Sourdough bread, you don't have to, but I think it helps it be less soggy.
Spread 2 tablespoons pesto over 1 side of of the bread and top with  a few sun dried tomatoes. Next add mozzarella, turkey, sliced roma tomatoes, avocado and top half of bread. Repeat with remaining slices of bread.
Add sandwich to pan and grill until the bread is golden and the cheese is melted, about 2-3 minutes
per side. I don't have a pannini press, so I grill in a regular skillet and place a heavy cast iron skillet on the top so you get that squished pannni sandwich. So Yummo!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!
I had to work and have been sooo busy up till now, that I haven't been able to blog what I was cooking for Thanksgiving dinner. I hope you all have your dinners planned and are able to spend your Thanksgiving day with family and friends and all those you love and are thankful for. I"m so thankful for my family and friends, and that I'm blessed to live where I do and have all the necessities of life. 
My Thanksgiving day will be loaded with the usual. I"m Brine ing the Turkey , and making the Mashed potatoes from this recipe. I will also do this Green Bean Casserole , I made it last year and we loved it! It's the best Green bean casserole ever. I always do my sweet potatoes like this , I know it's easy but when it's good and that's how you've always made them why change?? I also make my gravy from the turkey juice and I cook the turkey neck in a little chicken broth , then combine the the turkey juice and the neck broth with a mixture of water and cornstarch and bring to a boil to thicken. I add a little rosemary and thyme for seasonings with salt and pepper. I use Mrs. Cubbison's dressing, I make it like the directions on the back of the box but add a little more seasoning, like Thyme, Rosemary and sage... and I cook in my crock pot. I put on high in my crock pot for 1 hour then turn down for another hour and it's perfect! YUM. 
My hubby likes the canned cranberry jelly, so I'm serving that, but I'm also trying this fresh Cranberry Raspberry sauce... thought it sounded yummo! 
These are the Rolls I will make, soooo good. I'm making Pecan Pie , Pumpkin Pie and this year I"m trying two new pies.... Cranberry Apple pie (it looked sooo good I must give it a try) and Key Lime Pie  I LOVE Key lime pie. All that should last us for the day and for a couple of days after . Enjoy
Happy Thanksgiving and Hug those you are with :)


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Pumpkin "unroll" or Pumpkin cake

I LOVE pumpkin roll... it's always been a holiday favorite. Sometimes though, I just don't feel like rolling it! It's a lot of trouble to roll the cake and let it cool, what if you want some while it's still slightly warm? So I made the 'Libby's famous pumpkin roll, but I was rebellious and didn't roll it! AND it was delicious anyway! I love their cream cheese frosting.. more cream cheesy with less powdered sugar than a lot of cream cheese icing recipes. I dare you to make it  and NOT roll ... YUMMO!

Pumpkin (Unroll) Cake
Cake Ingredients:
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup LIBBY'S® 100% Pure Pumpkin

Frosting:
1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
6 tablespoons butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Dash of salt
1 cup walnuts or pecans, chopped

Directions:
FOR CAKE:PREHEAT oven to 375° F. Grease 15 x 10-inch jelly-roll pan. ( used my favorite brownie pan)
COMBINE flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and salt in small bowl. Beat eggs and granulated sugar in large mixer bowl until thick. Beat in pumpkin. Stir in flour mixture. Spread evenly into prepared pan.
BAKE for 13 to 15 minutes or until top of cake springs back when touched. (If using a dark-colored pan, begin checking for doneness at 11 minutes.)  Cool on wire rack.
FOR Frosting:BEAT cream cheese, 1 cup powdered sugar, butter and vanilla extract in small mixer bowl until smooth. Spread cream cheese mixture over cooled cake. (it's okay if it's still a little slightly warm) Sprinkle with chopped nuts if desired. 

Cut into squares and serve! YUMMO!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

French Onion Soup

Autumn time is a great time for soups I think...it's chilly, windy, and you just need comfort food. I had tons of onions from my garden and some were starting to 'grow' again in my pantry and I needed to use them  up. I thought why not make French Onion Soup. I have never made it before, and I've actually only eaten it maybe once in my life time, but I'm ALWAYS up for trying new things. I found a recipe that looked good on Tasty Kitchen Food Blog and one on Allrecipes.com that had a lot of good reviews. But honestly, the one on Tasty Kitchen didn't have many seasonings in it, and the other didn't use as much onion, so I took what I thought sounded good from the two recipes and this is what I came up with. It was YUMMO!!! I served this as a starter dish for my Sunday afternoon dinner. We had grilled steaks and steamed veggies after. It would be good just as a light supper alone too. I will definitely make this again! Give it a try!

French Onion Soup
1 stick Butter
4  Large Onions or 6 medium, halved (cut from root to tip) and sliced in thin strips
1 teaspoon Salt
1 cup Dry White Wine --(I found cute little bottles of Sutter Home Pinot Grigio Wine, exactly one cup size bottles, worked perfect then you don't have to open a huge bottle of wine, since I don't drink it!) The alcohol cooks out after all, but you can leave this out if desired and use more Chicken broth.
4 cups Chicken Broth
4 cups Beef Broth
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 heaping teaspoon minced garlic (2 cloves)
1 teaspoon Thyme
1 Tablespoon dried parsley
1 bay leaf
1 Tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
4 thick slices French Bread or Baguette
8 slices Gruyere Cheese (or you can use Swiss, I like Gruyere)
1/2 cup Shredded Mozzarella Cheese

Instructions:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Melt butter in heavy soup pot or Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add the onions and teaspoon salt and cook covered for 20 minutes. Place soup pot with the onions in the oven with the lid slightly ajar to ensure the onions will brown. Allow this to cook in the oven for 1 hour, stirring at least once during the cooking time so the onions won't stick and burn.
Remove pot from the oven and place back  on stove-top over medium heat. Stir, scraping off all the brown, flavorful bits. Turn off the heat and pour in the wine. Turn the heat back on to medium, bring this mixture to barely a boil, and simmer for 5 minutes, allowing the wine to reduce slightly and the alcohol to cook off. Next, add the broths, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, Thyme, Parsley and Bay leaf. Bring this to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer for 30 to 45 minutes.
Now while your soup simmers for that last 30 minutes, preheat your broiler. Slice enough of your french bread for the amounts of servings you need. I was making 3 bowls, but I had a baguette so I cut 3 slices of bread per bowl (you want the top of the bowl to be covered by bread and cheese). Place on a baking sheet and broil for 2 to 3 minutes per side until it's browned and crispy. Remove from heat but don't turn off the broiler yet.
When soup is done, remove the bay leaf, then add the Balsamic Vinegar and season with salt and Pepper to taste.
Arrange oven safe Ramekins (or small oven safe bowls, I used 3, use as many as you need so everyone gets a bowl) on a baking sheet. Ladle the soup into your bowls to about an inch from the top. Place crispy bread on top of the soup, then comes 2 or 3 slices of the Gruyere cheese, and then sprinkle a Tablespoon or 2 of Mozzarella cheese on top of that.
Broil for 5 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown.
Serve Immediately. Enjoy!!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Sticky Coconut Pecan Spice Cake

Have I ever said how much I LOVE coconut, pecans and caramel, and cake... and YUMMO??? Well, when I ran across this recipe here and I had to try it. And it was delish! The spice cake is from scratch, and the frosting reminds me of German Chocolate cake, only you toast the coconut and pecans ahead of time and it's so delicious. You MUST give this cake a try. We served ours with Ready whip but it's great with ice cream. I didn't wait for my cake to cool completely... it was slightly warm when I iced it. YUM!

Sticky Coconut Pecan Spice Cake
makes 1(8-inch) 2- layer cake
For the Cake:
1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
1 cup boiling water
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground clove
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom (I used Jamaican Allspice, didn't have Cardamom)
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 Tablespoons (4-ounces) butter, softened
1 cup light brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 extra large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the Icing:
1-1/2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
1 cup pecan halves
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
8 Tablespoons (4-ounces) butter, cubed
3 extra large egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Whipped Cream or Ice cream to go on  the warm cake when serving

For the Cake:
Toast your coconut and pecans according to the directions for the icing below. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350º F.  Lightly spray two 8-inch round cake pans with nonstick baking spray and line with rounds of parchment; set aside. ( I used Wilton's Cake release, just brush on pan, then you don't need parchment paper).
In a medium bowl, combine oats, water, buttermilk, and spices; let stand for 15 minutes.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugars until blended, about 3 minutes.  Add the eggs and vanilla; beat to incorporate.  Add the flour mixture and beat just until combined.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the oat mixture; beat until combined.  Divide the batter between the prepared pans and bake for about 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then invert the cake onto a wire rack and cool completely. (Mine was slightly warm)
For the Icing
Preheat the oven to 350º F.  Toast coconut on a baking sheet until browned; stirring occasionally, about 7-10 minutes or until golden brown.  Toast pecans on a separate baking sheet until fragrant, about 10-12 minutes. Coarsely chop pecans when cooled; set aside with coconut.
In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, simmer brown sugar, cream, butter, yolks, and salt, stirring constantly.  Cook until mixture thickens, about 8-10 minutes.  Remove from the heat and add the vanilla. Cool until barely warm to the touch, then fold in the coconut and pecans. Divide the icing between the layers, spreading to the edges. 
 Slice the cake and serve with dollops of Whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream.  Enjoy!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Almost Famous Italian Nachos

I love Italian food....if you have ever eaten and Carino's Italian restaurant's they have these wonderful Italian nachos made with pasta dough, sausage, chicken, Pepperoncini peppers, red bell peppers, mozzerella cheese and drizzled with an Alfredo sauce..Need I say more??? We ALWAYS get those for an appetizer. Delicious!! I found a few different recipes for these on the Internet ... how easy are these made with wonton wrappers!!? YUM! I kind of made up my own from what other recipes had done. You can make as many or as few as you want... just depends on how many wonton wrappers you use. I did a whole package and had enough Nacho's to fill a big baking sheet with a 2nd layer on the top! Also you can use either cooked chicken or hot Italian sausage or as I like to do , use both! These are good to share with friends, or make a small batch to indulge yourself with...anyway you eat them they are good! Enjoy!!

Almost Famous Italian Nachos
For the Sauce:
2 Tablespoon butter
1 heaping teaspoon minced garlic
2 Tablespoons Flour
1 cup Half and Half (or milk)
1 cup Heavy Cream
1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese
Salt and Pepper
Dash of ground Nutmeg

Nachos:
Wonton wrappers, cut in half to make triangles
Cooked chicken, sliced really thin or shredded
Cooked HOT Italian sausage
Roasted Red Bell Peppers, diced
Pepperoncini Peppers
Olives, sliced thin
Tomatoes, diced
Parmesan Cheese
Mozzarella Cheese
Oil for frying wontons (canola or peanut)
(These are just suggested toppings, feel free to ad lib with whatever you like)


Directions:
First make the sauce:
In small sauce pan over medium heat; start to melt the butter, add the garlic and stir until the butter is completely melted and the garlic is fragrant. Whisk in the flour and continue to stir until it is incorporated into the butter and slightly golden. Next, whisk in the half n' half and cream, bring this JUST to a boil and turn down to a simmer for 8 minutes or until thickened slightly. Stir in the Parmesan cheese and the seasonings (add just a dash or two of the salt and pepper and adjust to taste) stir until incorporated.

Fry the Wontons:
Heat oil in a large skillet or dutch oven (oil should be about 2 inches deep) over medium high heat. Once oil is hot, add the wontons 1 at a time until you have about 5 or 6 in your pot. Allow to cook until barely golden, flip and cook again. Watch these closely ! it only takes a few seconds for them to get slightly golden. Drain on paper towel. Continue until you have the desired amount of wonton chips.

To assemble:
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place your wonton chips in a single layer on the baking sheet. Sprinkle the chicken, sausage, peppers, olives, and mozzarella cheese over your nachos. Place this under your broiler until the cheese is completely melted about 3 to 5 minutes (Watch close, will melt fast once it starts, you don't want your chips to burn). Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the tomatoes and Parmesan cheese. Before serving or with individual servings, drizzle the hot Alfredo sauce over the nachos.
Enjoy!!



Saturday, October 12, 2013

Baked Penne Pasta with Roasted Tomatoes

Isn't Autumn time the perfect time to start making casseroles again... Love casseroles, especially with pasta. Nothing spells 'comfort food' to me better than a pasta dish.... I ran across this recipe on the Internet (probably pinterest) and since it had Zucchini in it which I had from my garden that I needed to use up, I thought I'd give it a try. The original recipe is here but as usual I tweaked it a bit. It calls for canned fire roasted tomatoes, but I had a ton just harvested from my garden so I put about 6 larger Roma tomatoes on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and roasted for 20 minutes at 375 degrees. I let them cool and then diced them in my food processor. YUM! But feel free to use the canned tomatoes called for :) This was a YUMMO casserole and since it has lots of veggies already in it, I served with a crusty french bread. Enjoy!

Baked Penne Pasta with Roasted Tomatoes
1  to 2 pounds lean ground beef (I like lots of hamburger in this... I think I used 1-1/2 pounds)
1 large onion, diced
2 teaspoons minced garlic (or 2 cloves, finely chopped)
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 medium zucchini, cut in half lengthwise then sliced 1/4 inch thick
1/2 jar Paul Newman's Sockarooni Spaghetti Sauce (LOVE this sauce! you can freeze the rest for use in something else later) or you can use 1 (15 oz can) regular tomato sauce)
1 (14-1/2 oz) can fire roasted tomatoes (or your own tomatoes--see notes above)
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
8 ounces Penne pasta (or any kind of pasta you like- about 3 cups dried)
1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Spray a 2 quart rectangular glass baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
Cook pasta according to package directions, drain, and set aside
In a large skillet, cook beef, onion, garlic and bell pepper over medium heat stirring frequently, until beef is browned and cooked through. Add Zucchini and cook for 2 to 3 minutes longer.
Stir in tomatoes, Sockarooni sauce, oregano, basil, parsley and salt and pepper. Heat to boiling.

Toss pasta into your sauce mixture. Spread in baking dish, cover with foil, and bake for 20 minutes.

 Uncover and sprinkle with cheese. Bake for 5 more minutes or until cheese is melted.
Enjoy!

**you can add roasted jalapenos or green chili's for a little more kick if desired. I had roasted jalapeno's from my garden so I chopped 2 or 3 up and threw in along with the green pepper. Or you can add a small can of diced green chili's.

Friday, October 11, 2013

my new favorite Granola recipe

I have experimented on granola recipes lately. My hubby likes to take it to work for a snack and I like it for a quick pick me up after work or for breakfast. Some recipes I haven't really liked, so I always fall back on my granola recipe that I have already posted. But my hubby ran across this one and I tried it and LOVED it. It does have a lot of ingredients, but it's so worth it. Makes a rather large batch, but keeps in Ziploc bags, rather well and for quite a while. I tweaked the recipe just a bit, mine seemed dry so I added more honey. I'm posting the way I made it. And just a note... I had a hard time finding Oat bran... so I bought cracklin' Oat bran cereal and crushed up in a baggie with my rolling pin...worked great and I think added flavor LOL! (the things you try when you can't find an ingredient!)Enjoy!!

Yummo Granola
Ingredients:
8 cups Old Fashioned oats, (UNCOOKED)
1-1/2 cups wheat germ
1-1/2 cups oat bran (or use crushed cracklin' Oat bran like I did)
1 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup chopped almonds (I bought the slivered ones and chopped those
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup chopped walnuts
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 cup honey
1 cup vegetable oil (I used grape seed oil... I just think it's better for you)
1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup raisins
1 cup dried cranberries (Craisins)

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
In a large mixing bowl combine the oats, wheat germ, oat bran, sunflower seeds, almonds, pecans, and walnuts. Set aside.
In a medium saucepan, whisk together the salt, brown sugar, maple syrup, honey, oil, cinnamon, and vanilla. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then pour over the dry ingredients, and stir to coat the oats well. Spread the mixture out onto the baking sheets evenly.
Bake in the preheated oven until crispy and toasted, about 20 minutes. Stir after the first 10 minutes. Keep an eye on on this after about 15 minutes cooking time, it will brown really quick when it gets going (as you can see by my pic, mine got a little toasty but still good).
Cool, then stir in the raisins and cranberries before storing in an airtight container. I store mine in 2 gallon size ziploc baggies.
This is great as a snack, or eaten like cereal with milk. But my favorite thing to do is make a parfait with berries, then yogurt then a spoonful or two of granola layered in a glass... YUMMO!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Pumpkin SnickerDoodles


I LOVE Snickerdoodles! I ran across this recipe on Pinterest and just had to try it out. With Autumn in the air and leaves falling all around, it's the perfect time to bake. I love that these snickerdoodles have pumpkin in them YUM! It's not a strong pumpkin flavor but it's good for a change in a Snickerdoodle. I tweaked the recipe just a bit....I added Cream of Tartar since I think that is what makes a Snickerdoodle a Snickerdoodle... and of coarse I added Cinnamon Chips. The way these cookies make your house smell while baking is perfect for Autumn time... makes you feel ready for the Holidays almost. Enjoy!!

Pumpkin SnickerDoodles
Yield: 3 dozen cookies

For the cookies:

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated white sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 cup pure unsweetened pumpkin puree
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup Hershey's Cinnamon chips

For the coating:
1/2 cup granulated white sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon allspice

Directions:
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cream of tartar, salt, ground cinnamon and nutmeg. Set aside.
In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to cream the butter and sugars until fluffy (about 2 to 3 minutes). Add pumpkin puree and beat well. Mix in egg and vanilla, scraping down sides of the bowl to incorporate all of the ingredients.
Stir in the cinnamon chips.

Cover dough with plastic and chill at least an hour, or until dough becomes slightly firm.
When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper (or spray with nonstick spray). Mix coating sugar ingredients in a small bowl.
Remove cookie dough from refrigerator. Use a medium cookie scoop (1 1/2 Tablespoons) or a large spoon to scoop out dough and roll into balls. Use your hands to roll the balls in the cinnamon sugar and make sure they're coated really well. Place 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Use a glass with a nice, flat bottom to dip in sugar and flatten the balls.
Bake at 350°F. for 8 to 10 minutes, or until they are slightly firm to the touch. Let cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes or so, then remove them to a wire rack to cool completely.

*Store in an airtight container. These cookies freeze well too. Place them in freezer zip bag and remove from freezer when the craving hits.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Smoky Chicken and Vegetable Chowder

I LOVE Chowder...especially in the Autumn time. We had a vegetable chowder at one of my Kitchen meetings which sparked the idea for this recipe, it's kind of a mix of that and my cheesy potato chowder but with LOTs of vegetables and chicken added. I thought I would make this with a smoky cheese and green chili's to just give it a different yummy flavor. I served this for lunch for my Dad's birthday with my homemade scones on the side. (recipe here) So delicious and so Fall-ish... Enjoy!

Smoky Chicken and Vegetable Chowder
Cook the chicken:
3 to 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/4 onion (leave whole, just toss in for flavor, same with the celery)
1/2 stalk celery
1 teaspoon minced garlic
4-6 cups chicken broth, or 4- 6 cups water with 4-6 chicken bouillon cubes
Place all of the ingredients above in a large soup pot and bring to a boil. Turn down heat and let simmer until chicken is done (30 to 40 minutes). Let cook and strain the broth into another bowl, save the chicken on a plate, and toss the celery, onion, and stuff in your strainer. Chop the chicken into bite size pieces when cool.
Start the soup:
1 large onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
2 medium carrots, diced
1 large red or green bell pepper, diced (or 1/2 of each)
In a large soup pot or dutch oven, drizzle a Tablespoon or 2 of olive oil, heat over medium high heat until hot. Add the chopped veggies from above to the pot, and stir, let this cook over medium heat for a minute or two until the onion starts to sweat.
Add:
1 heaping teaspoon minced garlic
2 smaller zucchini, diced
3 to 4 red potatoes, diced (depending on the size)
2 cobs of corn, cut off the cob (I had leftover, great way to use up)
1-4 oz. can diced green chilies
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4-1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle powder (optional) if you want it spicy
Stir and cook another couple of minutes until fragrant. Then add enough of your reserved chicken broth to just barely cover the vegetables. Bring to a boil, turn down heat and let simmer for about 20 minutes or until your vegetables are just tender. Add your chopped chicken and 1 Tablespoon dried parsley and let simmer while you make a cheesy white sauce.
To make white sauce:
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup flour
2 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon salt (or more to taste)
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon smokey paprika
2 cups smokey cheddar cheese, grated (I usually find this by the specialty, gourmet cheeses)
In a medium pot over medium heat, melt your butter. Add the flour and whisk into the butter until it's bubbly and no lumps. Let this cook for 1 minute.
Add the milk while whisking so you don't get flour lumps. Stir and cook over medium/high heat until thickened. Add your seasonings and grated cheese. Continue to stir until cheese is melted. At this point taste, add more salt and pepper if needed and more smoked paprika if desired.
Stir this mixture into the soup and heat through. Taste and add more salt and pepper if desired. Serve with scones, crusty french bread or crackers. Enjoy!!

**If you have broth leftover, freeze in a Tupperware or Ziploc baggie when cool. Great to have on hand for another batch of soup!