Saturday, August 27, 2011

No-Bake Cookies

I believe this was the first recipe I ever made by myself when I was about 12 years old...and I'm still making them today.  As a kid, my brother enjoyed these so much I remember him paying me to make them for him.  These cookies are so easy they can be made in about 20 minutes from start to finish...including cleanup!  Enjoy! 

1 stick butter
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup milk
4 TBS cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup peanut butter
3 cups oatmeal

Mix together the butter, sugar, milk and cocoa in a saucepan.  Over medium heat, bring to a boil and boil for 1 1/2 minutes, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat.  Add the peanut butter and vanilla.  Stir well to combine.  Add the oatmeal. Stir.

Drop by spoonfuls onto wax paper.  Chill.

Store in refrigerator in an airtight container with wax paper between the layers.

Also good with 1 cup coconut and/or nuts.

Makes about 30 cookies


Friday, August 26, 2011

One-Pan Roast Chicken and Root Vegetables

A few times a year I am asked by America's Test Kitchen to test a recipe before they publish it in their Cook's Country magazine.  We really thought this recipe was a winner.  It was very moist.

1 to 1 1/2 lbs red potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 lb Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
1 medium onion, cut into wedges (orig recipe called for 1/2 lb shallots, halved)
4 carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 bulb garlic, peeled (original recipe called for 6 cloves)
1 TBS vegetable oil
4 tsp minced fresh thyme
2 tsp minced fresh rosemary (I omitted)
1 tsp sugar
salt and pepper
2 TBS unsalted butter, melted
1 (4-pound) whole chicken, cut into 10 pieces (4 breast pieces, 2 drumsticks, 2 thighs & 2 wings) -  Cut the chicken breasts in half crosswise for even cooking

Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 475 degrees.  Toss potatoes, Brussels sprouts, onion (or shallots), carrots and garlic with oil, 2 tsp of thyme, 1 tsp of rosemary, sugar, 3/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper together in a large bowl. 

Combine butter with remaining 2 tsp thyme, remaining 1 tsp rosemary , 1/4 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp pepper in a small bowl.

Pat chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.  Arrange vegetables in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet with Brussels sprouts in center of sheet and potatoes, carrots and onion around the outside.  Place chicken, skin side up, on top of vegetables with breast pieces in center of baking sheet, and thighs, drumsticks and wings in the corners.

Brush chicken evenly with herb butter, and roast until chicken breasts register 160 degrees and thighs/drumsticks register 175 degrees, 35-40 minutes, rotating pan halfway through cooking. 

Transfer chicken to a serving platter.  Toss vegetables in pan juices, and transfer to plate with the chicken.

Serves 4

** I found that the Brussels sprouts could have cooked a bit longer.  You may want to microwave them a little before placing in the oven or after you have finished roasting your chicken and vegetables.

Source: America's Test Kitchen - Cook's Country


Creamy Grape Salad

A very light and refreshing salad.  This went great with the one-pan chicken and root vegetables I made for dinner.

1/2 pkg (4 oz) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sour cream
3 TBS white sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups red grapes (approx. 1 lb.)
3 cups green grapes (approx. 1 lb.)
3 TBS brown sugar
3 TBS chopped pecans

In a bowl, beat the cream cheese, sour cream, white sugar and vanilla until blended.  Add grapes and toss to coat.  Transfer to a 2 quart size serving bowl.  Cover and refrigerate until serving.  Sprinkle with brown sugar and pecans just before serving.

Serves 8-10

I sprinkled the brown sugar and pecans on top before placing in the refrigerator.  It started to caramelize and made it even more delicious.

This may also be good with some chopped apple and/or coconut.  You can also sprinkle a crumbled Butterfinger candy bar on top instead of the brown sugar and pecans.

Source: Taste of Home Magazine


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Grilled Pizza

I found a cookbook at the library called "Grilled Pizzas & Piadinas".  I wanted to make EVERY recipe out of the cookbook so I just went ahead and bought it from Amazon!  I first will share with you some of the basic sauces and toppings.  The key is to be creative in your toppings...more on that later!

This sauce is wonderful.  I am not a big tomato fan and was afraid I was not going to like this because it is a fresh sauce, not cooked.  However, I found that I LOVED it!  I did add just a touch more sugar to the sauce to cut the acidity from the tomatoes.

Chunky Tomato Basil Sauce

2 small cloves garlic
8 large fresh basil leaves
1 1/2 pounds (about 3 medium) ripe tomatoes, cored and quartered OR two 14 1/2 ounce cans of diced tomatoes, drained well.
2 TBS tomato paste (or more)
1 tsp kosher salt
3/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp sugar

Place the garlic and basil leaves in food processor and pulse until finely chopped.  Add the tomatoes and pulse briefly.  Do not puree the tomatoes, as the sauce is meant to be chunky.  Or chop all by hand.  Transfer to a medium bowl.  Stir in the tomato paste, salt, pepper, and sugar until mixed well.  If the sauce looks too watery, add more tomato paste until you see no more juice.

Refrigerate the sauce for an hour to accentuate the flavors.

*  I didn't feel like hauling out the food processor so I just chopped my garlic and basil and used my immersion blender.  Also, I don't care for my sauce to be too chunky.

Makes about 2 cups of sauce, depending on ripeness and juiciness of the tomatoes.

Herbed Grill Oil

This oil is great as a base for almost any pizza.  It takes just a second to make and keeps in the refrigerator indefinitely.  Instead of making up a new batch, just add a bit more olive oil when it starts running low.

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 small garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried basil

Place all of the ingredients in a small bowl or glass jar, mix well, and refrigerate.  If it solidifies, take it out a few minutes early or microwave it at 5-second intervals until it starts to liquefy.

Makes 1/2 cup

Making the pizza

Make your own pizza dough or purchase dough from the grocery store.  Spread out your dough on a board sprinkled with cornmeal.  One ball of dough will make a couple pizzas.  Or you can also grill one large crust and once it is done, cut it into 4 so each person can top their own quarter of the pizza.  Make sure your grill is not too hot.  (You can also use an indoor grill pan instead of grilling outside).  Grease your grill rack with paper towel dipped in oil.  Slide the dough onto the grill.  The dough takes about 3 minutes to cook.  Watch for bubbles.  The crust will be soft at first and tear easily, so try not to touch it.  It soon firms up.  Check the underside to make sure it is done.  Flip it over so the grilled side is face up.  This browned side is now the top of your pizza.  If it chars a bit, don't freak out.  It just adds flavor.

Brush the grilled side of the crust with about 1 TBS of the Herbed Grill Oil.  Don't put too much oil on your pizza or it will be too greasy.  Sprinkle with 1 TBS of grated Parmesan.  Now add about 1/2 cup of shredded Mozzarella or Fontina cheese.  Dollop with the Chunky Tomato Basil Sauce.  (a pesto sauce would be good, too).  Drop the sauce by spoonfuls instead of spreading it into an even coat.  Now add your favorite toppings.  Have your toppings already grilled/cooked so all that needs to be done is to heat them on the grill or under the broiler. 

Here are some topping suggestions: 
Roasted red pepper strips, grilled onions, artichoke hearts, sauteed mushrooms, roasted garlic cloves, spinach, sliced jalapeƱos, prosciutto, salami, bacon, grilled sausage, pepperoni, grilled chicken breast, crumbled Gorgonzola or feta, toasted walnuts, pine nuts, ricotta cheese, fresh cilantro, sun-dried tomatoes.    (ricotta, mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes and fresh spinach drizzled with reduced balsamic vinegar is one of my favorite pizzas) 

Be creative!  However, less is more.  If you put too many toppings on your pizza, it will be difficult to move. 

After adding the toppings, you may continue to grill your pizza on the grill or place it under the broiler of your oven for several minutes until the toppings are hot and the cheese has melted.


Source:  Grilled Pizzas & Piadinas by Craig W. Priebe with Dianne Jacob


Thai Pong Gari Grilled Pizza (Curried chicken with peanut sauce and salad)

This pizza is inspired by chicken satay, with the flavors of curried chicken and peanut sauce.  Pong Gari is the Thai name for the dry curry powder.  This pizza is wonderful.  If you are not sure if you will care for the curry glaze, go for it.  It is not overpowering at all.

Curry Glaze
1/4 cup honey
2 tsp curry powder
pinch of red pepper flakes
pinch of salt

Peanut Sauce
4 TBS smooth peanut butter
1/2 tsp minced fresh ginger (I didn't have any on hand so I used powdered)
1/8 - 1/4 tsp chili paste (this is found in the Asian section of the grocery store. Go easy on this if you don't like a lot of heat)
2 TBS soy sauce
4 TBS water

1 grilled pizza crust

1 TBS Herbed Grill Oil (see recipe on this blog-it's included on the Grilled Pizza recipe)
1 TBS grated Parmesan
1 cup shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup Chunky Tomato Basil Sauce (see recipe on this blog-it's included on the Grilled Pizza recipe) 

One 6-ounce Chicken Breast, salted/peppered and grilled.  Cut into bite-size chunks

1/2 cup thinly sliced red peppers
1 cup bean sprouts
1 TBS sliced scallions
1 TBS coarsely chopped roasted peanuts
1 TBS coarsely chopped fresh cilantro

Combine all of the Curry Glaze ingredients in a small bowl.  In another small bowl, whisk together the Peanut Sauce ingredients.

Brush the grilled side of the pizza crust with the Herbed Grill Oil.  Dust with the Parmesan and sprinkle the mozzarella on top.  Next, drop spoonfuls of the Chunky Tomato Basil Sauce onto the pizza.  Add the chicken and drizzle the Curry Glaze over all.

Grill the pizza or place under the broiler of your oven.  Just before serving, top the pizza with the salad ingredients.  Drizzle the Thai Peanut Sauce over the salad. that is a good pizza.

Source:  Grilled Pizzas & Piadinas


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Chocolate & Peanut Butter Candy Pie

My favorite dessert flavor combination is peanut butter and chocolate. The last time I brought this pie to our church pie auction it was eaten before it even left the church!  This is absolutely one of my favorites!  Mmmm... 

1 (15-oz) pkg Pillsbury Refrigerated Pie Crust

Chocolate Filling:
1 cup whipping cream
5 TBS butter
1 (12-oz) pkg semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 TBS light corn syrup

Peanut Butter Filling:
2/3 cup peanut butter
4 oz cream cheese, softened
3 TBS butter, softened
3 oz white baking bar, melted or 1/2 cup white chocolate chips, melted
1 cup powdered sugar

1/2 cup coarsely chopped dry roasted peanuts

Heat oven to 450 degrees.  Prepare pie crust and bake one crust according to package.  Before baking, prick the crust with a fork so it does not puff up.  Bake 9-11 minutes. 

In medium saucepan over medium heat, bring whipping cream and 5 TBS butter to a full rolling boil.  Remove from heat.  Add chocolate chips and corn syrup; stir until melted and smooth.  Pour 1 1/4 cups of the chocolate filling over the baked crust; set aside remaining chocolate filling (don't refrigerate this or wait longer than 30 minutes otherwise, it will be too firm and will not spread nicely).  Refrigerate pie 30 minutes or until set.

In small bowl, combine all peanut butter filling ingredients; beat til smooth.  Drop by tablespoons over chocolate layer in crust; spread evenly.  Spread remaining chocolate filling over peanut butter layer.  Sprinkle peanuts around the outer edge of pie.  Refrigerate at least 2 hours or until firm.  Store in refrigerator.

Tip:  For ease in slicing pie, dip knife blade in hot water; wipe dry before cutting each slice.

Serves 12

Source:  Pillsbury Bake-Off 36th Cooking & Baking Contest Cookbook, March 1994 


Saturday, August 13, 2011

Cinnamon Elephant Ears (Palmiers)

Keep a box of puff pastry in the freezer and you can make these delicious, crispy and flaky cookies whenever you need a quick dessert.  Super simple and delicious.  Serve with a cup of tea or a bowl of ice cream!

1 cup sugar, divided
Pinch kosher salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 sheet puff pastry, defrosted

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
Combine 1/2 cup of the sugar and kosher salt and pour it over a flat surface such as a wooden board or marble slab.  Unfold the sheet of puff pastry onto the sugar mixture.

Combine 1/2 cup of the sugar and the cinnamon and spread it evenly on the puff pastry.  This is not about sprinkling.  It's about an even covering of sugar.  With a rolling pin, lightly roll the dough until it's a 13-inch square and the sugar is pressed into the puff pastry on top and bottom.  Fold the sides of the square toward the center so they go halfway to the middle. (see diagram above)  Fold them again so the two folds meet exactly at the middle of the dough.  Then fold one half over the other half as though closing a book.  Slice the dough into 3/8 inch slices and place the slices, cut side up, on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. 

Bake the cookes for 7-8 minutes, or until carmelized and brown on the bottom, then turn with a spatula and bake for another 3-5 minutes until carmelized on the other side.  Watch closely as they burn very quickly.  Transfer to a rack to cool.

Makes about 20 cookies

Source:  Ina Garten - TV Food Network


Creamy Artichoke Bruschetta

These are wonderful and super simple. I will definitely make these again.

1 jar (6 oz) marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup finely chopped drained sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil
1 TBS freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Pinch of salt (to taste)
1 loaf Italian OR French bread (about 15" long), cut into 1/2 inch slices and toasted

In small bowl, combine all ingredients except the bread.  Evenly spread artichoke mixture on toasted bread.  Broil for 1 minute or until golden.  Serve immediately.

Makes about 20 appetizers

Source:  Bring Out the Best - Hellmann's Cookbook


Sunday, August 7, 2011

Mascarpone Cappuccino Panna Cotta

A rich, creamy delicious dessert.  A wonderful way to finish off a meal.

1 cup heavy cream
3 TBS sugar
2 TBS butter
1/4 cup very strong espresso
1/4 cup bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 tsp unflavored gelatin, softened in 3 TBS cold water
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup Mascarpone cheese

Heat cream with sugar, butter, espresso and chocolate until sugar is dissolved and butter and chocolate are melted.  Remove from heat and whisk in softened gelatin to dissolve.  Whisk in remaining ingredients to blend.  Chill slightly.  Pour into 4 cappuccino cups, 6 espresso cups or any fancy dish.  Refrigerate until set.

Garnish with chocolate-covered coffee beans or chocolate shavings.

Serves 4-6

Source: Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board