Sunday, May 27, 2007

Don't Be Afraid

Take a deep breath, get out your yeast and flour and make some homemade bread! I tried this recipe this week and it made two delicious loaves of white bread. Give it a shot - even if you've never made homemade bread before!

On my menu this week, you'll see I've listed Roasted Vegetable Rotini again. We had a busy week here last week and I didn't get around to cooking that dish at all - so it appears on the menu again this week. That happens to all of us, right?

Week 13 Menu

Monday - Sesame Ginger Chicken
Tuesday - Turkey
Wednesday - Roasted Vegetable Rotini
Thursday - Vegetable Frittata
Friday - Tin Foil Dinners
Saturday - undecided
Sunday - Chicken Cordon Bleu Crepes

Week 13 Recipes

Vegetable Frittata

1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
1/2 cup chopped sweet red pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
3 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 medium red potatoes, cooked and cubed
1 small zucchini, cubed
6 eggs
1/2 tsp salt
pinch pepper

In a 10-inch ovenproof skillet, saute onion, peppers and garlic in 2 Tbsp oil until the veggies are tender. Remove veggies with a slotted spoon; set aside. In the same skillet over medium heat, lightly brown potatoes in remaining oil. Add vegetable mixture and zucchini; cook for 2 minutes. in a bowl, beat eggs, salt and pepper; pour over vegetables. Cover and cook for 8-10 minutes or until eggs are nearly set. Broil 6 inches from the heat for 2 minutes or until eggs are set on top. Cut into wedges. Makes 4-6 servings.

**note: There is a variation on this recipe - omit zucchini and add 1/2 cup salsa. I also tossed some grated cheddar cheese on top at the end and it was great. We loved this recipe, so it will be added to my "regulars" recipe folder.

Chicken Cordon Bleu Crepes

7-10 store bought, prepared crepes (or you can make your own)
2 cups cooked chicken, chopped
1/2 cup chopped (cooked) ham
1 cup shredded Swiss cheese
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp flour
1 chicken bouillon cube, mashed into powder
1 1/2 cups warm milk
1/3 cup shredded Swiss cheese

Assemble crepes: On each crepe, pile some chicken, some ham and Swiss cheese. Roll up and place in a greased casserole dish (9x13).

Make sauce: In a small saucepan, melt butter. Add in flour and mashed bouillon cube. Stir and let cook for 1 minute to cook out the raw flour taste. Gradually whisk in milk. Bring this to a boil, but watch so it doesn't burn. Continue to stir and cook for a few minutes until it thickens. Remove from heat and add in 1/3 cup Swiss cheese. Stir until it melts. Pour 3/4 cup of sauce on top of the crepes. Bake 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until heated through. Heat remaining sauce and serve with crepes.

**note: These are delicious, and even my son devoured them. The cheese sauce was so good I was scraping the pan with a spoon as if it were cookie dough! I made the crepes the day before and kept them in the fridge between sheets of wax paper.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Fantastic Bread Recipe

Honey White Bread
(Ina Garten- The Barefoot Contessa)

1/2 cup warm water (110 degrees)
2 packages dry yeast
1 tsp sugar
1 1/2 cups warm whole milk (110 degrees)
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 1/2 Tablespoons honey
2 extra large egg yolks
5-6 cups flour
1 Tbsp salt
1 egg white, lightly beaten

Place the water in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment. If the bowl is cold, be sure the water temperature doesn't drop below 110 degrees. Add the yeast and sugar; stir and allow them to dissolve for 5 minutes.

Add the milk, butter and honey. Mix on medium speed until blended. Add the egg yolks, 3 cups of the flour, and the salt. Mix on low speed for about 5 minutes. With the mixer still on low, add 2 more cups of flour. Raise the speed to medium and slowly add just enough of the remaining flour so the dough doesn't stick to the bowl. Add the flour slowly; you can always add more but you can't take it out. Knead on medium speed for about 8 minutes, adding flour if necessary.

Dump the dough out onto a floured surface and knead by hand for a minute, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Grease a bowl with butter, put the dough in the bowl, then turn it over so the top is lightly buttered. Cover the bowl with a damp towel and allow it to rise for 1 hour, until doubled in volume.

Grease two loaf pans. Divide the dough in half, roll each half into a loaf shape and place each in a prepared pan. Cover again with the damp towel, and allow to rise again for an hour, until doubled in volume.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. When the dough is ready, brush the tops with the egg white and bake the breads for 40-45 minutes, until they sound hollow when tapped. Turn them out of the pans and cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.

Girl's Gotta Grill!

This past week we had a grill full of chicken and vegetables fit for a crowd, and just as I went to turn everything over, we ran out of propane. Nice, huh? We quickly brought everything in and threw it into the oven. It turned out okay, but now my faith in our grill is wavering. I need to give it a second chance to prove itself, so I'm grilling dinner on both Monday and Tuesday this week.

For Tuesday's salmon, I have two recipes (see Week 12 Recipes) and I haven't decided yet which I'll use. Maybe both! I will try the Melon Salsa though - sounds quite refreshing.

Thursday's dinner is one I usually throw together with whatever veggies I have in the drawer. This time, I'll measure things and write it down in true recipe form and then post it later.

I've changed my "featured cookbook" for this week. It's Good Housekeeping's "Grill It!" I've had this book for a year or so and I have several recipes that I really like. All three recipes on my post this week are from this cookbook.

My question for this week: Who do you think will win American Idol?

Week 12 Menu

Monday - Fajita Chicken Quesadillas
Tuesday - grilled Salmon & Cucumber salad
Wednesday - Tostadas (served Taco Salad style)
Thursday - Roasted Vegetable Rotini
Friday - Tin Foil Dinners (probably going camping!)
Saturday - eat out
Sunday - Barbecue Chicken Sandwiches & Fruit Salad

Week 12 Recipes

Honey-Lime Salmon
(Grill It! Cookbook)

3 Tablespoons Honey
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp grated fresh lime peel
1/4 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
1 tsp very hot water
4 pieces salmon fillets with skin removed
3 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
lime wedges

In cup, mix honey, cumin, coriander, salt, lime peel, pepper, and water until blended. With tweezers, remove any bones from salmon. With hands, rub honey-spice mixture on salmon pieces. Place salmon on hot grill rack over medium heat. Grill salmon, turning once, just until salmon turns opaque throughout, 8-9 minutes. Sprinkle salmon with cilantro and serve with lime wedges.

**note: This is super yummy and I'll be making it again. I did use skin-on salmon, and marinated it in a shallow dish, skin-side-up for about 30 minutes.

Pepper-Rubbed Salmon
(Grill It! Cookbook)

1 Tablespoon mixed pepper blend (white, green, black, and/or pink whole peppercorns)
1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 1/2 tsp grated fresh lemon peel
3/4 tsp salt
1 center-cut salmon fillet with skin on
cilantro sprigs for garnish

Coarsely ground pepper blend in pepper grinder. In small bowl, combine ground pepper, coriander, lemon peel, and salt. Pat pepper mixture onto flesh side of salmon. Place salmon, flesh side down on hot grill rack over medium heat. Cook, just to sear and mark salmon, 3-4 minutes. Turn salmon over. Cover grill and cook salmon until just opaque throughout, 12-14 minutes longer. Transfer salmon to platter. (Serve with Melon Salsa)

Melon Salsa
(Grill It! Cookbook)

2 cups (1/4-inch dice) cantaloupe
2 cups (1/4-inch dice) honeydew
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 tsp salt

In medium bowl, stir all ingredients until mixed. Set aside. (Good served with grilled fish, pork or chicken.)

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Help Me Fill My Freezer

Happy Mother's Day to all of you ladies! I hope you had a wonderful day with your families.

This weekend I acquired a large freezer, and so far all that's in it is about 15 containers of strawberry jam. I know the jam will soon be joined by some chicken and ground beef, but I'd like some ideas from you guys please. Tell me, (you can post anonymously if you'd like) what are your top 5 favorite things you MUST keep in your freezer? Frozen raviolis? Extra loaves of bread? 5-gallon tubs of ice cream???

I kept my menu this week on the simple side, because I plan to test out some new recipes for tasty baked goods. Also, Tuesday's and Saturday's meals don't have an official recipe yet. I'll write them down as I make them and then post the recipes later!

Week 11 Menu

Monday - (leftover) Chicken Pot Pies
Tuesday - Stir Fry (recipe to come)
Wednesday - Lemon Fusilli with Arugula & Fruit Salad
Thursday - Robyn's Roast & Rice
Friday - eating out
Saturday - Chicken Fajitas (recipe to come)
Sunday - BBQ Chicken & Rice

Week 11 Recipes

Lemon Fusilli with Arugula
(Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa)
**instead of typing the whole recipe out, I'm giving you the link to the recipe! CLICK HERE

Lemon Cream Cupcakes
****instead of typing the whole recipe out, I'm giving you the link to the recipe! CLICK HERE

**note: These are delicious! For a "from scratch" cake it was light and not difficult to make. I would definitely not substitute another frosting - it needs the tasty lemon one it comes with!

Easy Cheese Danish
(Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa)

8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
2 extra-large egg yolks, at room temperature
2 Tbsp ricotta cheese
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
1 Tbsp grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
2 sheets (1 box) frozen puff pastry, defrosted
1 egg beaten with 1 Tbsp water (for egg wash)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Place the cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer (with paddle attachment) and cream them together on low speed until smooth. With mixer still on low, add the egg yolks, ricotta, vanilla, salt and lemon zest and mix until just combined. Don't whip!!

Unfold one sheet of puff pastry onto a lightly floured surface and roll it slightly with a floured rolling pin until it's a 10x10 inch square. Cut the sheet into quarters with a sharp knife. Place a heaping tablespoon of cheese filling into the middle of each of the 4 squares. Brush the border of each pastry with egg wash and fold two opposite corners to the center, brushing and overlapping the corners of each pastry so they firmly stick together. Brush the top of the pastries with egg wash. Place them onto the prepared pan. Repeat with the second sheet of puff pastry and refrigerate the filled Danish for 15 minutes.

Bake pastries for about 20 minutes, rotating the pan once during baking, until puffed and brown. Serve warm.

**note: I made a half-batch and added some strawberry jam on top as they cooled. Very tasty, slightly rich!

Sunday, May 6, 2007

The Week of Untested Recipes

I just realized that I have included four new, untested recipes in my menu this week. Yeesh. What am I thinking? Two of them are untasted AND untested, and two of them I have actually tried (and I enjoyed them too!) but have never made them myself.

The Unbelievable Chicken and the Chicken Pot Pies are the two untasted/untested recipes. I found the Unbelievable Chicken on and it received great reviews. The Chicken Pot Pies I saw made on the Martha Stewart show last week. Since I don't need to make four pies for our little family, I'll be making adjustments to the recipe. After I do that, I'll be sure to post my version here.

The two tasted recipes are the Broccoli Cheese Soup and the Breadsticks. The breadstick recipe was passed to me from a friend in my ward (thanks Robyn!) who got it from another friend in our ward. The Broccoli Cheese Soup is from a bakery/restaurant called Panera. We fell in love with this place while we were in California, and unfortunately there are no Panera Bakeries in Utah. (Oregon and Washington have some though!) Their Broccoli Cheese Soup was our all-time favorite, so I'm hoping this clone recipe comes close. I'll let you all know.

Have a great week everyone! I'm so glad you all take time to visit my blog. I'm quite happy to share the yummy recipes I come across each week. Keep cooking, and be brave and try something new this week!

note: I just added the recipe for my version of Pasta Milano. It's in the list of Week 10 recipes,
just scroll to the bottom. I had to take 3 different recipes and combine them to get this one, and I tried to simplify it too. The recipe looks more complicated than it really is!

Week 10 Menu

Monday - Pasta Milano
Tuesday - Broccoli Cheese Soup (maybe in bread bowls)
Wednesday - Spaghetti & Breadsticks
Thursday - Unbelievable Chicken (grilled)
Friday - eating out
Saturday - Chicken Salad Sandwiches
Sunday - Chicken Pot Pies

Week 10 Recipes

Broccoli Cheese Soup
from Panera Bread restaurant
(makes approx 4 servings)

1 Tbsp butter, melted
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups half-and-half
2 cups chicken stock or bullion
1/2 pound fresh broccoli
1 cup carrots, julienned
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 tsp nutmeg
8 oz grated sharp cheddar cheese

Saute onion in butter. Set aside. Cook melted butter and flour using a whisk over medium heat for 3-5 minutes (to cook the raw flour taste out). Stir constantly and slowly add the half-and-half. Add the chicken stock, continuing to whisk all the time. Simmer for 10 minutes (it will thicken).

Add the broccoli, carrots and onions. Cook over low heat until the veggies are tender for 15-20 minutes. Add salt and pepper. The soup should be thickened by now. Pour in batches into blender and puree (if desired). Return to pot over low heat and add the grated cheese. Stir until blended. Stir in the nutmeg and serve.

**tip: Next time I'll omit the nutmeg, and only blend/puree half of the soup. We thought it would be better with a few broccoli chunks. Also, I didn't end up using all of the cheese. I added half and then tasted it and it was cheesy enough. I was using VERY sharp cheddar though.

Link to Panera Bread Sourdough recipe (to use as bread bowls, like in the restaurant)

Easy Breadsticks
(from Robyn Campbell)

1 Tbsp yeast
2 Tbsp sugar
1 1/2 cups warm water
4 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 stick butter, cut in half

Mix together yeast, sugar and water. When yeast dissolves, add flour and salt and mix well. Knead for about 3 minutes. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes. Melt 1/2 stick of butter onto a cookie sheet in oven. While butter is melting, roll out dough into a rectangle and cut it into 1-inch-wide strips. Roll bread sticks in butter and place on cookie sheet (I usually get 24 breadsticks out of this.) Sprinkle with garlic salt and Parmesan cheese, or sugar and cinnamon. Let rest for about 10 minutes then bake at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes.

Unbelievable Chicken

1/4 cup cider vinegar
3 Tbsp prepared coarse-ground mustard
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 lime, juiced
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
ground black pepper to taste
6 Tbsp olive oil
6 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves

In a large glass bowl, mix all ingredients except olive oil and chicken. Whisk in olive oil. Place chicken in the mixture. Cover and marinate 8 hours or overnight.

Preheat an outdoor grill for high heat.

Lightly oil the grill grate. Place chicken on the prepared grill, and cook 6-8 minutes per side until juices run clear. Discard marinade.

**note: This chicken marinade is very tasty, and I will definitely be making it again. I made the marinade in the morning, so the chicken had about 7 or 8 hours to absorb the yummy flavors.

Pasta Milano
(Romano's Macaroni Grill - my cloned recipe)

1 large head of garlic (or 2 small)
2 Tbsp butter/margarine
2 Tbsp flour
3/4 cups chicken broth
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 - 2/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
2-3 Tbsp olive oil
2 cups mushrooms, sliced or diced (your preference)
1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes, julienne cut (packed in oil)
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast
1/2 package bow tie pasta (or one 8-oz package)

Wrap garlic in foil. Bake at 400 degrees for 1 hour, or until soft. Let garlic cool slightly, then squeeze out garlic into a small dish. In a blender, blend 3/4 cups chicken broth with the roasted garlic until smooth (a few chunks are okay.) Set aside.

Heat a large skillet to medium-high heat. Cook the chicken breast in a bit of olive oil just until done, when juices run clear. Remove chicken from pan and slice. Add 1 Tbsp of olive oil to same skillet. Saute mushrooms and sun dried tomatoes for about 2-3 minutes, then add the sliced chicken back in. Leave everything in this pan, and set aside.

Tip: The next two steps (cooking pasta & making cream sauce) should be done at the same time.

Cook pasta according to package directions.

In a medium saucepan, melt 2 Tbsp butter. Whisk in 2 Tbsp flour and cook for 2- 3 minutes. Continue to whisk, and add the chicken broth & garlic mixture. When that is combined, add the 1 cup of heavy cream. Let the sauce simmer for 5 minutes to let it thicken a bit. If your pasta is not quite done, turn the cream sauce to low heat and stir occasionally so it doesn't stick.

Add 2/3 cup grated parmesan cheese to cream sauce. Return large skillet (chicken/mushrooms/tomatoes) to medium heat. Add in garlic cream sauce and stir to incorporate all of the chunky bits. Drain pasta, and add it to the skillet. Stir to coat pasta. Taste to see if it needs salt or pepper. When serving, sprinkle with more parmesan cheese, if desired. Enjoy!