Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Mom's Poppyseed Bread

From my lovely Mom

This recipe always reminds me of my mom. This bread is sweet and soft and irresistible. The glaze makes a nice citrus touch which helps the flavor pop.

Makes 2 loaves

1 1/8 cups oil
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp poppy seeds
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 tsp almond extract
1 1/2 tsp butter flavoring
3 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3 eggs
1 1/2 cup milk

3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup orange juice
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp butter flavoring

Preheat the oven to 350 (176 C). Combine oil, sugar, poppy seeds and flavoring. Beat in the eggs. Then sift together flour and baking powder and add alternately with milk. Once smooth, pour into prepared bread pans and bake for 45 minutes to an hour or until the center comes out clean when pierced with a toothpick.

While baking, mix together the glaze ingredients. (You may not need all of it!) Once the bread is done, stab the top of the warm loaves while still in their pans and pour the glaze on top. Allow to cool completely and serve.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

White Chocolate Gingerbread Blondies

adapted from Every Last Cookie

I wanted to make a Christmas cookie and this was perfect. They were good warm and even better the next day.

Makes about 4 dozen 2-inch squares

2 3/4 cups plus 1 Tbsp flour
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 1/2 sticks (20 Tbsp or 260 grams) butter
1 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp sugar
3 eggs
1 1/4 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup molasses
10 oz white chocolate

Preheat the oven to 350 (176 C). Line a rimmed cookie sheet with baking paper.
Cream together butter and sugars until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Then beat in the vanilla and molasses. Sift together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cloves and add slowly to the wet mixture until just combined. Fold in white chocolate.
Pour batter into baking sheet and spread around until even. Bake until edges are golden, about 25 minutes. Let cool completely before cutting.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Ground Pork Curry

Adapted from Chow Times

I am always nervous about curries. I don't have much of a background in Indian food, and I often question if I am doing things correctly. This was perfect for a beginner like myself, and Ben liked it so much that he ate the whole pot. It was spicy and so easy to make. I would be interested in trying it with chicken, and varying the heat levels, but it was great as is.

1 lb lean ground pork
2 onions, finely chopped
4 medium potatoes, cubed
3 cloves garlic
1 Tbsp minced ginger
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cumin seeds, roughly crushed
1 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp dried chili flakes
1 can crushed tomatoes
1 1/4 cup vegetable stock
1 large bunch spinach
salt and pepper to taste

Saute onions, garlic, pork, and spices together in a pot. Cook until onions are soft and meat is browned. Then add potatoes and tomatoes, once warm add stock and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once 20 minutes have passed, add spinach and allow to heat through for a couple of minutes, just enough to wilt it.

Serve immediately with rice.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Honey Mustard Vegetables with Feta

adapted from Luna Cafe

Here's a light dinner that can help offset those heavy holiday foods. You can use whatever fresh vegetables you have on hand. Just toss it all together and throw it in the oven!

3-4 potatoes
1/2 squash
3-4 carrots
3-4 beets
1 bell pepper
green beans
1 tsp rosemary (1 Tbsp if fresh)
1 clove garlic, finely minced
2 Tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup Feta cheese, crumbled

Honey Mustard Vinaigrette:
9 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 350 (176 C). Chop all of the vegetables into bite sized pieces and put them in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl, mix together rosemary, garlic, oil and salt and pepper, toss vegetables with the oil mixture and arrange vegetables on an edged baking sheet. Try not to overlap.
Roast for 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender and beginning to caramelize. Remove from the oven and let cool. Sprinkle the Feta cheese over the vegetables.
Prepare the vinaigrette by combining all ingredients and mixing them together well.
Toss the vegetables with the vinaigrette and serve immediately.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Orange Dream Jello Salad

From Grandma Ilez

This is from Ben's Grandma Ilez, and where I am from having at least a couple of jello recipes handy is basically mandatory. The orange and whipped cream blends flawlessly and provides a light, sweet side to any casual dinner.

2 cups whipped cream
2 boxes orange jello
2 cans mandarin oranges

The day before (or at least several hours before) prepare the two boxes of jello according to the directions on the box. Just before serving, mix together the prepared jello, whipped cream and gently fold in the mandarin oranges. Keep cold until serving.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Rosemary Chicken and Potatoes

adapted from impurrfections

This is an easy way to throw together dinner. I loved the combination of rosemary and chicken and the potatoes were a perfect side.

4 chicken breasts or thighs
4-6 medium red potatoes, cut into wedges
1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tbsp fresh rosemary (2 tsp dried)
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 375 (176 C) and prepare a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss potatoes and chicken with olive oil and arrange on the baking sheet. In a small bowl mix together rosemary, oregano, garlic powder, salt and pepper and sprinkle liberally on potatoes and chicken.

Place in oven and bake for 45 minutes, then use a brush to baste the chicken in some of the pan juices. Bake for an additional 15 minutes and serve.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Peanut Butter and Jelly Bread

adapted from Have Cake Will Travel

This was a fun recipe that encapsulates the qualities of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in one glorious bread. It was a bit crumbly but would be perfect for breakfast or a quick snack.

Makes one loaf

1 cup milk
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp all fruit berry or orange jam
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups oats, finely ground
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup berries

Preheat oven to 350 (176 C) and prepare a 8x4 inche loaf pan with spray.
In a medium bowl, combine milk, vinegar, peanut butter, jam, salt and vanilla. The peanut butter may not mix smoothly but that is ok.
In a large bowl, combine oats, sugar, flour, baking powder and baking soda. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ones, being careful not to over-mix. The batter may be thick, depending on the type of peanut butter you use.
Pour into prepared pan, cover with tin foil and bake for 70 minutes (or when a toothpick comes out clean). Pull the foil off after about 40 minutes to ensure that it turns a golden brown.
Let cool in the pan for 30 minutes.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

African Peanut Soup

Adapted from Show Me Vegan

I had seen this recipe on several blogs and finally had to try it out. It was excellent. The flavors were warm and different than the palate that I usually cook with. It was spicy and sweet and so easy that I will be making it again soon!

1 Tbsp oil
1 medium onion
3 cloves garlic
2 Tbsp fresh ginger (1 tsp dried)
cayenne pepper to taste
salt and pepper to taste
6 cups vegetable stock
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
1 can of tomatoes (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 cans red beans (about 2 cups)
1/2 pound cabbage, thinly sliced (kale or spinach would also work)
1/3 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup brown sugar

Heat the oil and saute the onion, garlic, and ginger for 5 minutes. Then add 1/2 cup peanuts, cayenne, salt and pepper and saute for about 30 seconds. Then add broth, sweet potatoes, tomatoes and red beans, bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Add cabbage and simmer for about 20 minutes, then add peanut butter and brown sugar and simmer an additional 10 minutes. Serve immediately

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Pomegranate and Feta Salad

adapted from Gimme Some Oven

This salad was just gorgeous! The cinnamon in the dressing combined with the bright colors made it perfect for the Christmas season.

6-7 cups spinach (or other green salad)
seeds from one pomegranate
1/2 cup pecans, candied
1/2 cup crumbled Feta

6 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp apple vinegar
2 tsp honey
1/2 tsp cinnamon
salt and pepper to taste

Combine salad ingredients. Mix together dressing ingredients and serve on the side.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Zuppa di Funghi (Mushroom Soup)

adapted from Bell' Alimento

I love mushrooms. They are such a weird little food and so versatile. This is a mushroom based soup with a very rich taste. I added peas because I had some, but it would have been fine without.

1 Tbsp butter
1-2 clove garlic, minced
8 shallots, minced
1 lb mushrooms, chopped
1/2 cup tomato sauce
5 cups broth
2 eggs
4 Tbsp Parmesan, grated
1 Tbsp parsley, chopped
2 Tbsp whipping cream
salt and pepper to taste

In a large soup pot, saute butter and garlic, once melted add minced shallots and cook until translucent. Then add tomato sauce and 1/2 cup water. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes.

While this is cooking, clean and slice mushrooms. Once the 10 minutes has passed, add the mushrooms to the mixture, lower heat, cover and cook for 20 minutes. Then pour in the broth and bring the mixture to a boil, lower heat again and simmer for about 10 minutes.

While this is cooking, whisk together eggs, salt and pepper, parsley, cheese and cream until thoroughly combined. Turn off the heat of the soup and gradually whisk in the egg mixture until it's combined well.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Caramel Apples

From Allrecipes

We wanted to bring something very American to a Finnish Halloween party this year and finally decided on caramel apples. The caramel was a little hard to find, but once they were finished it was well worth it. The nuts added a nice saltiness that complemented the sweet sugar and tart apple beautifully. I have to admit that these were the best caramel apples I have ever had, and something I plan on making a Halloween tradition in our house.

6 tart apples
14 ounces of caramel (about 400 grams)
2 Tbsp water
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup salted nuts, chopped

Stick the sticks (we used plastic forks...) into the top of the apples about 3/4 of the way through. In a small saucepan, heat the caramels, water and vanilla on low, stirring frequently. Once the caramels are melted and soft, dip the apples into the caramel and carefully scrape off the excess using the side of the pan. Roll the apples in the nuts and place on wax paper to cool. Allow at least 30 minutes for the caramel to harden.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Chocolate Pecan Pie

from Allrecipes

This is one of my all time favorite pies. It is sweet and nutty with just a hint of chocolate. My only complaint is that there are never any leftovers.

makes one shallow 9" pie

1 pie crust
1/3 cup butter
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
3 eggs
2/3 cup white sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup light corn syrup
1 cup pecan halves

Preheat the oven to 375 (190 C). Heat butter and chocolate over low heat, stiffing constantly, until chocolate is melted; cool slightly. Beat eggs, sugar, salt, chocolate mixture and corn syrup. Stir in pecans and pour mixture into pie shell.
Bake until set, 40-50 minutes. Cool slightly. Serve warm or refrigerate and serve with whipped topping.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

BLT Salad with Tomato Dressing

adapted from Kayotic Kitchen

I love BLT sandwiches, they are so simple and delicious. Unfortunately right now I am trying to go carb free so when I saw this variation online I had to try it out. The dressing is packed with flavor and goes perfectly with the rest of the ingredients.

Lettuce, shredded
2-3 tomatoes, diced
1 avocado, diced
1 small purple onion, diced
1/2 lb bacon, crumbled

3 roma tomatoes
1 clove garlic
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
4 Tbsp oil
salt and pepper to taste

Cook and drain bacon and combine with lettuce, tomatoes, avocado, and onion chunks.

For the dressing, begin by cutting an "X" at the bottom of each tomato. Then plunge them in boiling water for about 30 seconds, then take them out and quickly immerse them in cold water. This makes the skin separate so it slides right off. Once the skin is peeled, squeeze out most of the seeds, chop roughly and transfer them to a blender along with the garlic clove, red wine vinegar, and oil. Pulse blender until everything is smooth. Serve alongside salad and enjoy!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Meat and Potato Pie

This is serious comfort food. Like a chicken pot pie made for a mountain man. I would love to try it with chunks of beef rather than mincemeat, but for the time being it will have to do.

1 lb beef
1 onion
2 cloves garlic
2 cups diced potatoes
2 cups carrots
1 cup peas
1 cup corn
1 can mushrooms
1 can cream mushroom soup + 1 can of water
1/2 cup milk
pie crust (two, for top and bottom)

Preheat the oven to 350 (176 C). Saute beef onion, garlic, spices, carrots in a large pot until soft. Drain excess fat. Then add potatoes, soup, peas, corn, mushrooms and milk. Simmer on low for 30 min until the liquid is reduced. Then spoon the mixture into the crust, seal edges and bake 30-40 minutes, or until the crust is golden.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Persimmon and Pear Salad

I had never really tried Persimmons before, but a lady in our ward gave us some so I had to find a recipe to use them in. Persimmons are great, I can't believe it took me 26 years to actually try one. We will definitely be eating them again soon.

1 cup pecans, candied (1 Tbsp sugar, 1 tsp salt, 1 Tbsp butter)
1/2 cup swiss cheese, grated
2-3 ripe persimmons
2-3 ripe pears

1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 Tbsp orange marmalade
1 tsp oil
sesame seeds

Chop and wash lettuce. In a frying pan, heat butter and toast the pecans with sugar and salt until golden brown. Set aside to cool. Peel the pears and persimmons and chop them into chunks. Combine all salad ingredients. To make the dressing, mix all ingredients until well blended.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Mom's Vegetable Soup

from Mom

This is a soup that my family grew up on. It is cheap and easy to make and has lots of lovely vegetables that moms love. It is perfect with a big hunk of fresh corn bread.

1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups sliced carrots
1 lb ground beef
2 cups tomato juice
6 cups beef broth
2 cups potatoes, diced
1 cup peas
1 cup corn

In a large soup pot, saute the onion, garlic and carrot with the ground beef until beef is cooked through. Drain grease and add the tomato juice and beef broth along with the potatoes. Simmer for 10 minutes, then add the peas and corn and simmer for an additional 10 minutes.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Martha's Lime Meltaways

from Martha Stewart

These are a version of the Italian wedding cookies. The lime gives a great tang to the sweet sugar, and I love how dainty they look once you are finished.

12 Tbsp butter (156 grams)
1 cup confectioners sugar
zest and juice of 2 limes
1 Tbsp vanilla
1 3/4 cups flour
2 Tbsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt

Cream butter and 1/3 cup of sugar until smooth. Add lime zest, lime juice and vanilla and beat until fluffy. Sift together dry ingredients and mix into lime mixture. Roll the dough into two logs about 1 inch in diameter and chill in the fridge for one hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 (176 C). Once chilled, cut into 1/8 inch slices and place on a cookie sheet about one inch apart. Bake for 15 minutes or when the cookies are turning golden brown along the edges. Let cool for 1-2 minutes. Place the remaining 2/3 cup confectioners sugar in a ziplock bag. Shake the cookies in the bag to coat in sugar and serve.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Carrot and Molasses Muffins

from Mom

This is a very wholesome muffin. I grew up eating them, so I am used to the flavor, but Ben said they have a decidedly "healthy" taste... I'm not sure if that is a good thing or not, but if you put a little butter and honey on them I think they are fabulous.

1 slightly beaten egg
1 cup bran cereal
2 medium carrots, grated
1/2 cup yogurt
1/2 cup tomato juice
1/2 up molasses
1/4 cup oil
1 1/2 cups flour (I used whole wheat)
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup rasins (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400 (204 C). Combine the egg, bran, carrots, yogurt, tomato juice, molasses and oil and let sit for 10 minutes until the bran cereal is soft. Mix well. Then add the flour and baking soda and spoon into a prepared muffin tin. Bake at 400 for 18 minutes.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Roasted Garlic Vegetables

adapted from please pass the pie

In my effort to someday fit comfortably in my pre-pregnancy jeans I have started cooking a virtually all vegetable diet. I tried this recipe for roasting them and was blown away by the flavor. In reality, any combination of vegetables would work well so feel free to alter the ingredients.

1/2 lb potatoes, chopped into large wedges
3-4 carrots, chopped into large bits
1 medium onion, sliced into rings
1 stalk broccoli, chopped
1 head cauliflower, chopped
5 cloves garlic
Salt and pepper to taste

3 Tbsp olive oil, divided
2 tsp salt, divided
1/2 tsp pepper, divided
5 cloves garlic (listed above)
2 Tbsp vinegar
2 tsp dijon mustard

Preheat the oven to 400 (204 C). Whisk together 2 Tbsp oil with 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper. Toss the vegetables in the oil mixture and spread out on a baking sheet. Take the 7 cloves of garlic, still wrapped in the papery skin and place them on top. Bake for 35 minutes.

In the meantime, assemble the rest of the oil, salt and pepper with vinegar and mustard. After the 35 minutes are up, put the vegetables in a bowl, remove the garlic, take off the skin and put the now soft pulpy center in the small bowl with the vinegar/mustard mix. Blend the mixture until it is smooth and pour the contents over the vegetables. Toss to coat evenly and serve warm.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Puppy Chow

from the Chex website

Called puppy chow because of the brown kibble look, this stuff tastes much better than it looks. And it is probably very bad for you. But it is so very good. Perfect for road trips or slumber parties or any time you are getting lots of people together. It is so easy to make and so hard to resist!

1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup butter
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 tsp vanilla
9 cups chex cereal (or other similar cereal)
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar

Melt peanut butter, butter and chocolate chips together in a saucepan over low heat. Mix in the vanilla, and then pour over cereal and mix in a large bowl. Once cereal is coated with chocolate/peanut butter mix place in a large ziplock or sturdy paper bag and dump in the powdered sugar. Shake up mixture until thoroughly coated with powdered sugar.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Olive Garden Style Breadsticks

adapted from Allrecipes

These are as close as you can get to the breadsticks at Olive Garden. They are soft and tasty and were great with soup and salad.

.25 oz yeast (about 7 grams)
1/2 cup sugar, divided
2 cups warm water, divided
3 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 egg
1 tsp salt
3 tsp garlic powder
1/2 Tbsp dried oregano, crushed into a powder
4 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup melted butter (113 grams)
2 Tbsp parmesan (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 (200 C)
In a large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast and 1 Tsp sugar in 1 cup of warm water. Leave until foamy. Then add oil, egg, salt, spices and remaining sugar and water.

Mix in 3 cups flour and then slowly add the remaining flour a little at a time until you come up with a soft dough. Knead for 6-8 minutes, then put in an oiled bowl, cover and let rise for about 45 minutes (or until doubled).

After the dough has doubled in size, punch it down, and divide into 36 pieces. Roll each piece into a small snake (about the size of a cigar) and place on a baking sheet about 1 inch apart. Let rise for about 30 minutes (or until doubled) Brush with butter and sprinkle with parmesan (optional) and salt and bake for 10-12 minutes when the breadsticks are a golden brown.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Lemon Pudding Cookies

This is a twist off of Symphony Cookies from the Sister's Cafe website. I had a box of lemon pudding and white chocolate and an urge for something sweet and these cookies were the result of my experiment.

1 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 3.5 oz box lemon pudding
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
2 1/2 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
7-8 oz white chocolate, chopped roughly

Preheat the oven to 350 (176 C). Cream butter and sugar, add in the lemon pudding mix. Add the eggs and vanilla, beat well. Sift together flour, baking soda, and salt then add to the wet lemon mixture. Fold in the chocolate and spoon into small golf ball sized balls onto a cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 9-10 minutes, or until the edges of the cookie starts turning golden brown. Let cool for several minutes before serving.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Tuna Casserole

Adapted from Imperrfections

This is one of those cheap and easy dinners that everyone should know how to throw together. I am usually not a huge fan, but this recipe was great and even better the next day. You could easily substitute the tuna with chicken or have no meat at all and it would still be good.

8 oz (225 grams) pasta
5 Tbsp butter
3 cloves garlic
1 medium onion
3-4 stalks celery
3-4 carrots
2 cups cream of mushroom soup
1 cup diced mushrooms
1/4 cup flour
2 1/2 cup milk
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

2 cans tuna
1 cup peas
1/2 cup bread crumbs
3/4 cup parmesan

Boil water, cook the noodles, drain and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350
In a large pan saute onion, garlic, carrots, celery in butter until soft. Then add mushroom soup (or saute mushrooms and butter, whisk in flour then slowly add the milk) and add salt, pepper, tuna, and peas. Add in the noodles and pour into a large casserole dish. Sprinkle with bread crumbs and cheese and bake 15-20 minutes

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Roasted Carrot Soup

Adapted from My Man's Belly

This is a great fall soup that is light on calories but heavy with flavor. Ben was skeptical while I was cooking (he said it looked like baby food...) but after trying it he agreed that it was quite good, a perfect soup for a cold blustery day.

1 lb carrots
4 apples, peeled, cored and sliced
olive oil
1 medium onion
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 Tbps fresh ginger, grated
4 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
salt and pepper to taste
Feta cheese, walnuts, cranberries or croutons to garnish
Milk (optional, to thin out soup)

Preheat oven to 400 (204 C)

Place carrots, apples and onion on a baking sheet and drizzle with oil. Roast in the oven for 45 minutes to an hour.

Remove carrots, apples and onion from the oven and put into a large pot, including any oil from the baking sheet. Add garlic, ginger and salt, saute for several minutes then add chicken stock and simmer for an additional 15 minutes.

Transfer contents of the pot into a blender (or use immersion blender) and puree until smooth. Be VERY careful blending hot liquids. Add milk or chicken stock to thin out soup to a desired consistency (Ben said it looked like baby food before thinning it out).

Ladle into bowls and garnish with Feta, walnuts, croutons or dried cranberries.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

PF Changs style Lettuce Wraps

Adapted from PF Changs

Ben and I first tried these lettuce wraps on a date, and we were hooked! Being students we couldn't afford to go out every time we had a hankering for them so we learned to make it ourselves through trial and error. The chicken has great flavor, the dipping sauce is hot and spicy and it is a great contrast to the cool, crisp lettuce leaves.

3-4 chicken breasts, diced into small pieces
1 cup water chestnuts, diced
green onion, diced
mushrooms, diced
2-3 chilies (optional, depending on how hot you like it)
2-3 Tbsp soy sauce
2-3 Tbsp brown sugar
salt and pepper to taste
1 head iceburg lettuce

Dipping Sauce
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
4 Tbsp soy
4 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
4 Tbsp ketchup
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp oil
Hot chinese mustard and chili paste to taste

Carefully peel off individual leaves of lettuce from the head, wash and place in the fridge to chill. Chop up and combine the chicken, water chestnuts, onion, mushrooms and chilies. Heat the oil on the wok and once hot, stir fry chicken mixture together.

In a separate bowl, combine all ingredients for the dipping sauce and mix well.

Eat by spooning the chicken into lettuce cups with a little dipping sauce, wrap it up and enjoy!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Vegetable Lo Mein

adapted from Allrecipes

Lo Mein is a Chinese dish with noodles. The American version of this dish is served topped with a brown sauce and vegetables or meat.

1/2 lb Lo Mein noodles
Zucchini, chopped
Carrots, sliced
Broccoli, chopped
Red Pepper, chopped

1 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup hoisen sauce
2 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp soy
2 Tbsp oyster sauce
1 Tbsp chili paste
1 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/4 tsp curry

Stir fry vegetables with the sauce in a hot pan until they are just soft. Pour mixture over noodles and serve immediately.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Chocolate Reeses Cookies

From Ben

We had a bag of Reeses chips that my parents brought from the states, and we just had to put them in something. These cookies tasted a bit like brownies-- fudgy and dense. I think it would work well with crumbled peanut butter cups as well.

Makes about 2 dozen cookies

1 1/2 cup butter
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
3/4 cup cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups chips

Preheat oven to 350 (176 C)
Cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time, then add vanilla. Sift together flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt and combine with wet ingredients. Fold in Reeses peanut butter chips and roll batter into golf ball sized balls. Place on a cookie sheet and bake for 8-9 min. Let cool before serving.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Chicken Enchiladas Verdes

Adapted from Mom

Enchiladas are one of my favorite meals. It reminds me of mom and living in my childhood home, and it is great comfort food. I have changed her original recipe over the years to add more spice and heat, but it still has the same elements and tastes great.

Serves 4

1 Tbsp butter
1 onion
2 garlic cloves
2 tsp chili powder
1 Tbsp dried cilantro (or 1 bunch of fresh), divided
1 can green chilies
2 cups cubed chicken
1 can of Cream of Chicken soup *
16 tortillas
1 cup cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
1 can green enchilada sauce
1 bell pepper, diced

Preheat the oven to 350 (176 C)

Saute onion, garlic, chili and half of your cilantro in butter until clear and fragrant. Add chicken pieces, cook through. Add cream of chicken soup, can of green chilies and sour cream, stir until smooth.

Pour 1/2 the can of green enchilada sauce on the bottom of your baking dish (I ended up using one 9x13 inch casserole pan). Take one tortilla at a time, add a scoop of creamy chicken filling and roll it up inside of the tortilla. Start lining up the filled and rolled tortillas in the casserole dish and keep squeezing them in until they are packed tight and you are out of sauce. Pour the rest of the enchilada sauce on top of the dish and sprinkle with 1 cup of cheese, the rest of your cilantro and diced bell pepper.

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Serve with fresh salsa.

*if you need to make your own cream of chicken soup like I do in Finland, here are the ingredients:

4 Tbsp flour
4 Tbsp butter
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup milk
1 cup chicken stock

Melt butter in a sauce pan and whisk in flour. Then add salt, milk and broth slowly and heat until liquid is smooth.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Maple Snickerdoodles

Adapted from Busty Baker

MMMMM the smell of these cookies alone is reason enough to make them. The maple flavoring amps up the buttery taste and leaves you with a deliciously soft cookie.

makes about 2 dozen cookies

1 cup butter, softened (225 grams)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp Mapleine (maple extract), or 6 Tbsp maple syrup
2 eggs
4 cups flour
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt

1/3 cup sugar + 1 tsp cinnamon, for rolling

Preheat oven to 350 (176 C). Cream together butter and sugar, mix in Mapleine. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Sift together dry ingredients and add to wet mixture until just combined. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Mix 1/3 cup of sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon in a small bowl, spoon golf ball sized balls, roll them in cinnamon sugar and place them onto a cookie sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Maple Soy Glazed Salmon

I would have never thought to put maple syrup and soy sauce together, but it tastes great! This salmon came out salty and sweet, and full of great flavor. I will definitely be making this again.

3-4 salmon filets

1 cup maple syrup
8 Tbsp soy sauce
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

1/2 cup stock
2 tbsp flour

Combine syrup, soy sauce, garlic, onion powder, salt and pepper and pour 1/4 over salmon and marinate for 30 minutes to over night in the fridge (the longer the better). Place salmon filets in an oven safe dish, pour marinade over the top and bake at 400 for 20 minutes. In the meantime, mix the stock and flour until smooth, and put it and the remaining sauce in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for five minutes.

Pull out salmon and serve with rice, pouring the sauce over the top.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Spicy Asian Shredded Pork

adapted from Savour Fare

I made this as a side to a vegetable stir fry, and it was amazing. Slow cooking meat really allows you to capture intense flavor, and it is so easy a child could do it!

2 lbs pork tenderloin, cut into smaller pieces
2 bell peppers, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
sesame seeds to garnish

2 cups teriyaki sauce
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp Thai red curry paste
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

Place pork, peppers, garlic, onion into a large pot (or crockpot). Mix together sauce and turn the heat on low for 8-12 hours. Be sure that liquid is always covering the meat so it doesn't get dried out. Once done, pull the pork apart with forks and serve.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Mint Chocolate Brownies

from my Mom

This is the richest brownie you will ever eat. They are designed for serious chocolate lovers, and even those of you who love chocolate will only be able to have a little before overdosing. Growing up I preferred these to any other dessert and it was great to try out on my own. Be sure to have people over to share with!

1 cup butter (softened)
2 cups sugar
10 Tbsp cocoa (unsweetened)
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 package chocolate chips (about 1 cup)

Mint Frosting:
2 cups powdered sugar
2 Tbsp milk
1/2 tsp mint flavoring (about 1 cap full)
2 caps green food coloring (optional, I didn't have any...)

Chocolate Covering:
2 cups chocolate chips
2 Tbsp butter
3 Tbsp milk

Preheat oven to 350 (176 C). Cream butter, sugar and cocoa. Beat in eggs and mix in flour until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips and bake for 15-18 minutes in a greased 9x12 inch dish. The brownies are done when you can pull out the dish and the brownies are not jiggly in the center. Let cool.

In a separate bowl, mix powdered sugar, mint, food coloring and once the brownies are at room temperature, spread the frosting on top and set aside.

In a saucepan, begin to melt the chocolate chips on low heat. Mix in the butter and milk and when the consistency is smooth, pour the mix on top of the mint frosting. Let the chocolate cool and harden, and serve.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

adapted from Visions of Sugar Plums

Peanut butter and bananas- is there anything they cant do?
This bread was a creative twist on your typical banana bread and I had to work quickly to take a photo before it all disappeared.

3 Tbsp butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2-3 large bananas, mashed
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup milk
3/4 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 (176 C). Cream together butter and sugars; add peanut butter, bananas and vanilla and mix thoroughly. Beat in eggs until just combined. Sift together dry ingredients in a separate bowl and add to wet mixture, alternating with milk. Fold in chocolate chips and spoon into a prepared 9x5 inch bread pan. Bake for 50 minutes. Let cool before serving.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Plum Flognarde

Adapted from Allrecipes

This is a custard like French dessert that when made with cherries is also known as a clafoutis. Is was light and fruity to the taste and although my picture suggests otherwise, it was very colorful and pretty.

10 Tbsp sugar
6-8 large plums (10-14 small ones)
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup cream
3/4 cup flour
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp cinnamon
pinch salt

Preheat oven to 375 (109 C) Butter a 10 inch pie plate, and sprinkle 1 Tbsp sugar on the bottom. Cut plums in half and arrange them, cut side down, on the bottom of the plate. Sprinkle two Tbsp of sugar on top of the plums.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together milk, cream, flour, eggs, vanilla, salt, cinnamon, and remaining sugar until smooth. Pour mixture over the fruit and bake in oven for 45 minutes or until puffed and golden. Let stand at least 5 minutes, dust with confectioner's sugar and serve.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Spaghetti Parmesan

adapted from Cheap, Healthy, Good

This was an easy pasta dish made great through Parmesan.

Serves 4

3/4 lb pasta, like linguine or spaghetti
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 medium zucchinis, chopped into moons
3 tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 onion, diced (I used purple onions, but you could use any kind)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
1 tsp lemon pepper
salt to taste
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Cook and drain pasta, reserving 1/3 cup pasta water.

While pasta is cooking, saute onion and garlic in a skillet. Once softened, add zucchini, spices, chickpeas, and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until everything is warmed through. Zucchini should still have a little bite to them. Take the whole pan off the heat.

Combine with pasta and half of the cheese and 1/3 cup of water. Stir together until parmesan is incorporated into the dish.

Serve with remaining parmesan sprinkled on top.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Thai Cashew Chicken

Adapted from a Mingling of Tastes and Allrecipes

This spicy stir fry was an attempt to start labor after being almost a week overdue. It didn't work, but it was delicious and packed with healthy veggies.

2 cups chicken pieces
1 Tbsp oil
6 Tbsp ketchup
6 Tbsp oyster sauce
2 Tbsp soy sauce
3/4 cup chicken broth
3 tsp white sugar
2 Tbsp Thai chili paste (adjust this to your tastes, it can make it very hot!)
1 Tbsp flour
1 large onion, chopped
1 zucchini, chopped
3-4 large carrots, julienned
1 red pepper, chopped
1 head broccoli, chopped
*dried red chilies (optional, for additional heat)
1/2 cup cashews
Steamed rice, for serving

Mix together the ketchup, oyster sauce, soy sauce, chicken broth, sugar and chili paste. Reserve half of the sauce and marinate the chicken in the other half in the fridge for at least 1/2 hour (the longer the better).

While the chicken is in the fridge, prepare all of the vegetables, cook rice and set aside.

Heat 1 Tbsp oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the chicken plus chopped onion and stir fry for several minutes until meat is cooked through. Lower the heat to medium, add in the reserved sauce plus 1 Tbsp flour to thicken, the rest of the veggies and cook for 4-5 minutes until the vegetables are just beginning to become tender, but still have bite. Remove from heat, mix in the cashews and serve immediately over rice.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Greek Nachos

This fabulous idea was seen on Tastespotting and it combined my love of finger foods, easy prep meals and the wonderful Greek flavors that burst in your mouth. It turned out great, and Ben wanted to make it again the next night. Success!

4-5 pitas, cut into triangles and lightly toasted (pita chips would also work)
1 lb ground lamb (I used beef... it was fine)
1 medium onion
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp mint
1/2 tsp paprika
1 tsp lemon pepper
4-5 tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 cucumber, diced
8 oz Feta (about 225 grams)
1 jar olives
Pepperoncinis, diced
Tzatziki Sauce (Greek yogurt sauce)
parsley to garnish

Preheat the oven to 350 (176 C). Put the pita chips on a large baking sheet (baking paper underneath for easy cleanup) and bake in the oven with a little oil and salt drizzled on top. You just want to make them a bit crispy so only a few minutes should do the trick.

In a large skillet combine lamb, onion, garlic and spices and cook until meat is cooked through. Drain grease and pour on top of toasted pita triangles. Add tomatoes, cucumber, feta, olives and pepperoncinis on top and bake for 10 minutes until warmed through.

Garnish with parsley and serve immediately with Tzatziki sauce or hummus on the side.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Grilled Huli Huli Chicken

adapted from Elly Says Opa

I wanted to try a recipe using a glaze, and this chicken recipe was perfect. It would be ideal on a real grill in your backyard but since we are backyard-less right now the oven worked just fine. This Hawaiian luau chicken turned out sweet and tangy and would be perfect with some grilled pineapple and red peppers.

1/4 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup pineapple chunks
2 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp ketchup
1 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 knob fresh ginger, grated (or 1 tsp powder)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2-3 chicken legs (or 5-6 skinless breasts)
1 tsp oil

Preheat the broiler or grill. Combine soy sauce, pineapple, brown sugar, ketchup, rice vinegar, ginger, garlic, and Worcestershire sauce in a small bowl. Rub the chicken with oil, and then broil skin side up about 6 inches (15 centimeters) form the element for 8 minutes. Flip the chicken and broil on the other side for an additional 8 minutes. Then brush the chicken with the glaze and cook on one side. Brush and repeat 3 times (total of 16 minutes)

You can use other cuts of chicken (or meat for that matter) and just adjust the cooking time to how thick the cut is. Keep reapplying the glaze for a nice golden outside and keep flipping every few minutes until juices run clear.

Serve with rice, red peppers, and pineapple slices.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Spaghetti Carbonara

adapted from Allrecipes

Ok, this is not the healthiest dish around, but the hot creamy pasta on a cold rainy day is great for a once-in-a-while treat.

Serves 6

3/4 lb spaghetti
2 tsp olive oil
6 slices of bacon, cooked and diced (Pancetta is recommended)
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 zucchini, diced (peas and mushrooms would also work well)
3 eggs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp parsley
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large skillet cook bacon until crispy; remove and drain on paper towels. Drain all but 2 tablespoons of bacon grease and use it to saute onion and garlic until translucent, then add spices. Reintroduce the bacon and add the zucchini pieces, fry together until everything is heated through and zucchini is beginning to soften.

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook spaghetti pasta until al dente. Drain well, toss with 2 tsp olive oil and pour the bacon mixture on top.

In a small bowl, quickly beat the eggs and Parmesan cheese and add it to the pasta, tossing with tongs or a large fork until eggs are barely set. Add salt and pepper and serve immediately with parsley as a garnish.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Vanishing Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

I like oatmeal raisin cookies because they feel healthier, while still giving you a sweet little cookie. I have tried quite a few recipes, but the classic one one the Quaker Oats box is still my favorite.

1/2 cup + 6 Tbsp butter, softened (about 200 grams)
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
3 cups oats
1 cup raisins

Preheat the oven to 350 (176 C). In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars together. Add in eggs and vanilla, beating well after each addition. Sift together dry ingredients and combine with wet. Add in oats and raisins; mix well.

Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until a light golden brown. Cool for one minute on baking sheet; then remove to wire rack.

Bake 8-10 minutes
(approximately 100 calories per cookie)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Fuzzy Navel Tea Bread

adapted from the Streaming Gourmet

This bread was inspired by the fuzzy navel smoothie - a delicate combination of bananas, peaches and oranges. It turns out sweet and fruity, it is perfect for breakfast or tea.

Makes 2 loaves

3/4 cup yogurt
8 Tbsp butter (about 100 grams)
1 cup sugar
4 eggs
4 ripe bananas, mashed
4 ripe peaches, mashed
1 orange, juice plus zest
5 cups flour
2 tsp salt
3 tsp baking powder

Preheat oven to 350.

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Then beat in the eggs, one at a time, and mix in yogurt, mashed fruit and orange zest. Whisk together dry ingredients, and add them to the wet mixture until just combined. Do not over mix.

Pour batter into loaf pan and bake for 60-70 minutes. (30-40 minutes for muffins) Test with a toothpick, it should come out clean when inserted.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Chocolate Cheesecake Brownies

adapted from Dlynz and Delighful Desserts

Warning: These are not healthy. But they do combine two of the greatest desserts of all time. Proceed with caution, and be sure there are plenty of people around to share, or you will be in a lot of trouble.

I made these in a baking pan and had some leftover batter so I made cheesecake brownie bites in the muffin tin. I actually liked the bites a bit better, the sheet brownies had some trouble baking in the middle which wasn't a problem when I baked them in the muffin tin.

Brownie Batter:
1 cup (225 grams) butter
2 cups sugar (they recommend superfine sugar)
1/2 cup cocoa
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/3 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt

Cheesecake Batter:
8 oz (225 g) cream cheese; softened
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp flour
1/4 c sugar
* 1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 (176 C) and grease a 9x13 inch baking pan.
Cream together butter, sugar and cocoa of the brownie mixture. Then add in eggs, vanilla and salt until well combined and shiny. Whisk in flour and baking powder until just combined and spread into the bottom of your baking pan.

Next, in a separate bowl, whisk together cheesecake ingredients until smooth. Then dollop over brownie batter. You can swirl the two mixtures a little bit if you want. Or not. Bake until the edges are slightly puffed and the center is set, about 45 minutes (25 minutes if baking in a muffin tin).

Let cool before serving. I would even put this in the fridge for several hours to help it set. If you can wait that long.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Baked Chicken with Dijon and Lime

adapted from Gina's Recipes

This chicken was excellent. It came out of the oven beautifully golden and the mixture of lime and Dijon mustard was a surprise hit.

3-4 large chicken thighs
3 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp light mayonnaise
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 lime, juice and zest
3/4 tsp pepper
salt to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 (204 C), rinse the chicken and remove the skin and fat. In a small bowl combine dijon, mayonnaise, lime juice and zest, garlic, pepper and salt to taste. Mix well. Pat chicken dry and pour sauce over it, tossing well to coat. Marinate in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Spray a baking pan with pam to prevent sticking and place chicken to fit in a single layer. Bake until cooked through and juices run clear (about 40 minutes) then move the pan up to the broiler and finish the chicken until it is a golden brown.

You then use the pan juices to make a delicious tangy sauce. Pour the drippings in a saucepan and skim off the fat as best as you can. Turn up the heat to medium and add in 1 Tbsp flour and 1 cup of chicken broth. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly for several minutes until sauce is thickened.

Serve chicken with rice and sauce.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Panzanella Salad

adapted from Stacey Snacks

My family has always been of the "waste not, want not" philosophy, and I had a loaf of stale bread that I felt bad throwing out. So I made a panzanella salad instead. Panzanella is an Italian salad made from bread and tomatoes, tossed in a light vinaigrette. The bread soaks up the juices from the tomatoes and dressing, resulting in a delicious flavorful dish.

1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
salt and pepper to taste

1 stale baguette (or other bread) torn into bite sized chunks
4-5 tomatoes
1/2 red onion, sliced thin
1/2 cup kalamata olives, chopped
1/2 cup crumbled Feta cheese

Mix your salad ingredients and place them in a large bowl. Whisk your dressing and pour over the bread and tomato mixture until the bread cubes absorb the dressing. You don't have to use all of the dressing, just use as much as you deem appropriate. Let it sit in the bowl for about an hour to let the flavors mingle together and allow the bread to absorb the juices.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Slow Roasted Tomatoes

Adapted from Savour Fare

Tomatoes at the grocery store are so cheap right now they beg to be taken home. Luckily Ben and I love them so it is easy to work them into meals, but today I had a huge abundance of very ripe tomatoes so I decided to try out this method of roasting them to bring out different flavors and have the whole batch as a part of our dinner.

6 plum sized tomatoes
1/4 cup olive oil
spices - you can use what you wish, here are some combinations:
basil/lemon pepper/oregano

Preheat the oven to 200 (93 C). Cut tomatoes in half if they are small (I had large ones, so I cut them into quarters) and drizzle them with olive oil mixture. Roast on a baking sheet cut side up (baking paper underneath for easy cleanup) for 4-6 hours. The longer the better really. The tomatoes will slowly wrinkle and become caramelized and the flavor is just amazing.

These can be stored in the fridge (covered) for up to three days. They are beautiful in pasta, on salads or just eaten right off of the baking sheet!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Black Bean and Feta Quesadillas

Quesadillas were a staple at my house growing up. They are so quick and easy to make, plus the variations are endless so you can really just make do with whatever you have on hand. I loved this unique combination of the spicy beans and creamy goat cheese.

1 medium onion
2 cloves garlic
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 can (about 1 1/2 cups) black beans
1 cup corn
1 large tomato, diced
1 tsp chili powder
2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp cinnamon
12 oz goat cheese (about 300 grams) I used Feta
1 bunch of fresh cilantro
salt and pepper to taste

8-10 tortillas
sour cream

Heat the oil and saute garlic and onions until soft - about 5 minutes. Then add beans along with spices and stir. Then add corn and tomatoes and cook mixture for 6-8 minutes. (Add water if necessary) Remove from heat, stir in the cilantro and set aside.

In a frying pan on medium heat, place one tortilla at the bottom, add a thin layer of beans and sprinkle the top with the goat cheese, leaving about 1/2 inch from the edge clear. Then sandwich it between another tortillas. Brown each side for about 2 minutes. Cut the quesadillas into wedges and serve with guacamole or sour cream and a side of lettuce.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Basic French Bread

Bread can be so tricky. There are so many techniques to achieve different textures and densities and then there are the many variables with all the kinds of flours, gluten content and temperatures. So many ways to screw it up! And I am definitely a novice. I can bake basic bread, but if it needs any special treatment I definitely need more practice.

Anyway, today I tried out a basic French Bread. It is cheap to make, versatile and can be used with so many different meals. This time I did some research and tried out some new techniques and these loaves came out better than ever. I still have a ways to go to perfecting it, but am happy to see improvements.

I watched this great how-to video on youtube and it really helped a lot.

Makes 3-4 loaves

2 Tbsp yeast
2 1/2 cups warm water
7 cups flour
2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp salt

Dissolve yeast in water, add sugar and let it sit for 10 minutes or so (until foamy). Then add salt and 2 cups of water. Beat until well mixed. Add the rest of the flour and knead on a floured board (or in your mixer) for about 5 minutes (longer if you are using whole wheat). Cover and let rise for 30-45 minutes (until doubled in size).

Grease a couple of baking sheets (or use baking paper) and sprinkle lightly with corn meal. Take the bread and punch it down, kneading for 1 minute. Cut the dough ball in to 3 or 4 pieces and let the dough rest for about 10 minutes.

Turn on the oven to 450 (232 C) to preheat. Roll each dough piece into a rope not quite as long as the baking sheet. Place on the baking tray and make sure there is ample space between loaves. Using a sharp knife, cut diagonal cuts (about 1/2 inch) on the top of each loaf; then you can brush with an egg wash for shine or spray a little water and add sesame seeds or whatever else you want to put on top. Let the loaves raise until double (30-45 minutes).

While the bread is raising for the final time, you want to prepare a "steam oven" which will create the breads crunchy crust. To do this place an oven safe pan on the lowest rack or floor over your oven with several cups of hot water. When you put your bread in, the steam will be circulating in the oven and that will help make the crust nice and crunchy while keeping the inside soft.

Bake at 450 (232 C) for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 (176 C) for 20-30 minutes or until golden brown. The bread should make a hollow sound when tapped. Remove from pans and cool.

This bread is best fresh and does not age well, so keep it wrapped in plastic overnight or it will get stale. If you aren't going to use it within 2 days, wrap in plastic and freeze until you are ready to use it.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Oven Fried Chicken

adapted from Weight Watcher Recipes

I had a hankering for fried chicken, but I am trying to avoid all fried foods on this blog so I found this pseudo-fried baked chicken and gave it a whirl. I was a little skeptical about using bran flakes, but it turned out great and was so easy that I can't wait to try it again.

Tip: I put this on the top rack and the legs in the back cooked pretty fast and almost burned so maybe put it one the middle rack or lower to prevent this from happening.

6 medium bone-in, skinless drumsticks (I used 3 legs)
2 1/2 cups bran flakes (corn flakes would also work well)
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
4 Tbsp light mayonnaise
3 tsp mustard

Preheat oven to 400 (204 C), line a baking sheet with foil and place beneath a wire rack to catch the drippings. Spray the rack with a little oil.

Crush the bran flakes into a grainy powder. In a bowl mix crushed cereal with salt, paprika, garlic powder, and peppers. In another bowl, combine mayonnaise and mustard. Using a cooking brush, brush the mayonnaise lightly on the chicken and then coat the chicken with the crushed cereal mixture. Place the chicken on the rack and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the juices of the chicken run clear.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Cranberry White Chocolate Muffins

adapted from Playing House

1/4 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup applesauce
1 1/2 cup yogurt
2 eggs
3 cups + 1 Tbsp flour (I used 1/2 white, 1/2 whole wheat)
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup cranberries (I used lingon berries)

Preheat oven to 375 (190 C) and prepare a muffing tin. In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar, then add applesauce, yogurt and eggs. In another bowl, whisk together dry ingredients and then add them to the wet mixture, mixing until just combined. In a little bowl, place the berries and 1 Tbsp of flour, coat the berries with the flour so they don't sink to the bottom of your muffins. Then gently fold in chocolate chips and berries.

Fill the prepared muffin cups 3/4 of the way full and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when you poke it in the center.

Let cool for 5 minutes in the tin and then remove and allow to cool on the counter.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Hawaiian Haystacks

This is one of those dinners that goes by many names (Chinese sundays, chicken sundays) and is made differently in every house. I love it because it is so versatile and you can add or subtract ingredients according to your tastes. I have eaten this meal with green onions, diced peppers, diced celery, water chestnuts, different cheeses, chow mein noodles, slivered almonds, shredded carrots and soy sauce. So experiment to find the best combination for your family. This is our favorite:

Usually there is lettuce in there too, but I forgot to buy it at the store...

Serves 3-4

3-4 baked white fish filets (or 3 cups of cubed cooked chicken, or in a pinch two cans of drained tuna)
4 cups cooked rice
2 large onions
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
shredded coconut (I lightly toasted ours with salt and sugar)
3 large tomatoes, diced and seeds removed
2 cups pineapple, cut into chunks
1 head lettuce, torn into small pieces
1 can (about 2 cups) of cream of chicken soup

Cook rice, set aside.

Chop onions into rings and place them in a hot frying pan with 1 Tbsp olive oil, 1 Tbsp sugar and 1 tsp salt. Turn the heat down to medium and saute, stirring frequently until the onions are soft, and caramelized (about 10 minutes). Remove from heat and set aside.
Prepare tomatoes, chop lettuce and those and the coconut, pineapple, and onions in separate small serving bowls. Heat 1 can of cream of chicken soup in a pot and once it is warm, begin to serve.

Use rice as the base, and add heaping spoonful of each of the ingredients, topping with the fish or chicken. Pour a few tablespoons of soup on top, and serve.