Monday, February 28, 2011

Using It Up: Yogurt

Frosted Chocolate Loaves
Reader’s Digest Cakes 1,001 Classic Recipes from Around the World Copyright 2003

2 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup unsweetened cocoa
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
¾ cup plain yogurt I used banana baby yogurt
¾ cup butter (1 ½ sticks), melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Chocolate Frosting
6 oz. semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
6 tablespoons butter, cut up
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
3 tablespoons plain yogurt I used banana baby yogurt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 9x5-inch loaf pans and dust with cocoa. Sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. Stir in the sugar. Beat in the eggs, yogurt, butter and vanilla with an electric mixer until just blended. Spoon the batter into prepared pans. Bake for 25-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool the loaves in the pans for 10 minutes. Turn out onto racks and let cool completely.

Chocolate Frosting: Melt the chocolate in a double boiler over barely simmering water. Set aside to cool. Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar and yogurt. Spread the loaves with frosting.

I had some organic banana yogurt that I bought for Dan, since he likes those crappy, sweet and fancily colored yogurts so much, but he did not care for 'good' stuff. I figured the chocolate would disguise the banana flavor. I'm not sure it did. This had a taste, not sure if I would call it 'odd', but it was a taste that was somewhat different than I was expecting. It may have just been the yogurt, not the banana flavor. It wasn't bad but this didn't knock my socks off but chocolate is tough category to compete in. My coworkers seemed to enjoy it but it didn't tempt me all that much, which is not a bad thing.

And that's all I have to say about this.

Friday, February 25, 2011

This will have to wait

I'm tired. I'm hungry. Blogging about something chocolate and frosted right now could lead to disastrous results (raiding the fridge since this is long gone). It will have to wait until next week.

Sorry about the lack of material this week but it was just one of those weeks.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Soup? Stew? Whatever you call it, it was good

Chicken and Chile Pepper Stew
Favorite Brand Name Slow Cooker Casseroles and More Copyright 2002

1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 pound small potatoes, cut lengthwise into halves, then crosswise into slices
1 cup chopped onion
2 poblano chile peppers, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups fat-free reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 can (about 14 ounces) no-salt-added diced tomatoes I used regular petite diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano

1. Place chicken, potatoes, onion, poblano peppers, jalapeño pepper and garlic in slow cooker. I browned the chicken first but I don't think it made that much of a difference.
2. Stir together broth, tomatoes, chili powder and oregano in large bowl. Pour broth mixture over chicken mixture in slow cooker; mix well. Cover; cook on LOW 8 to 9 hours.

This was more of a soup than a stew but that wasn't a bad thing. Somehow soup seems lighter than stew. This recipe was in the 'Light and Easy Fare' chapter of this cookbook. I un-lightened it a bit by adding some tortilla strips on top,

The chicken thighs worked well in this. I cut my potatoes too big since I was afraid that smaller pieces would get mushy before everything else finished cooking but these potatoes stayed on the firm side even when fully cooked. This was better the second day, as stews usually are. It's more tomato-y than it looks in the picture. I love eating out of that bowl (it's shallow - I think I eat less) but it's not very good for pictures.

I almost couldn't find poblanos. I was going to use regular green bell peppers but I'm glad I persevered and found the poblanos. They don't have the aftertaste that green bell peppers have. The only problem is that they reminded me of my favorite dish from my favorite Mexican restaurant. Their chile relleno is one of my favorite foods ever and as good as this soup is, it's not even close to a poblano stuffed with cheese and battered and fried. Chile relleno is not a light recipe.

This was one of my favorite cookbooks way back when but it ended up being ignored for a long time, in order to give the other cookbooks a chance, but I've brought it out of retirement.

I'm going to add this to my boneless, skinless, chicken thigh recipe round-up.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Good but not cheap

Marinated Mushrooms
Taste of Home More Fast Fixes With Mixes Copyright 2009

2 pounds fresh mushrooms
1 envelope (.7 ounce) Italian salad dressing mix I used the zesty variety
1 cup water
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup cider vinegar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper

Remove mushroom stems (discard or save for another use). I the stems on. Place caps in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain and cool.

In a jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine the salad dressing mix, water, oil, vinegar, lemon juice, sugar and seasonings; shake well.

Place mushrooms in a large bowl; add dressing and stir to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight. Serve in a lettuce-lined bowl if desired.

I love marinated mushrooms but the jarred ones are often too vinegary for my taste or too expensive. These had just the balance I was looking for in the marinade but they weren't cheap to make, even though I only needed to pick up the Italian dressing mix and mushrooms to make these. Mushrooms aren't cheap. Even in Costco they were over $3/pound I believe. Those mushrooms were too big though. Great for many things but not what I wanted for this recipe.

I was hoping to find smaller mushrooms in the grocery store. They weren't as small as I would have liked but they worked a little better. They were 2 for $5 for 10 ounce containers. I bought 3. Not a cheap recipe but I will definitely eat every last mushroom and I did make a lot of mushrooms. Hopefully I will soon be going to Friday night auction (the farmer's market) again and maybe I will find cheaper mushrooms. I would love to make these again.

Dry Italian dressing mix is one of those lucky ingredients for me. I've had a few winners with that ingredient. Easy Italian Spiced Pork, Sautéed Shrimp and Vermicelli, and Zesty Cucumber Dip were all good recipes that used Italian dressing mix.

Stepping out of my comfort zone

Curried Tofu Pâté
Delicious Dips Copyright 2004

1 pound firm tofu (I think the tofu I found was only 14 ounces, I just sort of shorted the rest of the ingredients slightly)
1 ½ tablespoons pure olive oil
3 green onions, including green tops, finely diced
1 celery stalk, finely diced
1 tablespoon curry powder
½ teaspoon turmeric
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 teaspoons honey
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Drain the tofu and blot completely dry with paper towels. Let the tofu sit on several thicknesses of paper towels while you sauté the vegetables.

In a small sauté pan, warm the olive oil and swirl to coat the pan. Add the green onions and celery and sauté just until beginning to soften, about 1 minute. Add the curry, turmeric and cayenne. Sauté, stirring constantly, until the spices are fragrant, about 1 minute longer. Remove from the heat and set aside.

In a medium bowl, mash the tofu with the back of a fork until it breaks into small curds. Add the curry mixture and stir to blend. Add the mayonnaise, parsley, honey, salt and pepper. Gently mix until thoroughly combined. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve immediately.

Make 2 ½ cups.

No, it wasn't the tofu that scared me. It was the curry powder. There was a time when curry powder wasn't an issue for me. I used to absolutely love the mulligatawny soup they served in a hospital where I used to work and curry powder was the predominant flavor. I can't say I really ate a lot of other dishes with that flavor but I couldn't get enough of that soup.

Flash forward to my biggest recipe disaster since starting this blog. I was attempting to make a potato dish spiced with curry spices, not the already blended stuff but it had that familiar smell and I didn't like that smell. The smell of those spices made me so ill! I got an instant headache and I wanted to vomit. I stopped and threw it out and I haven't been able to give curry powder a second thought since then.

I think it's the cumin. I don't know what it is about that spice. I've always liked it in chili, tacos, things like that but it's been hit and miss in other things. It doesn't bother me at all in the Spicy Red Pepper Hummus. I bought some Kirkland Organic Salsa in Costco and it turned out to have cumin it it. I thought it was going to get thrown out when I first tasted it but I got used to it.

So, I decided to give curry powder another chance. I mean, there is mayonnaise in this, what can be bad with mayonnaise? At first, I was a bit hesitant. I did not like the smell of these spices cooking. But, I really did like the final result. It's creamy and a bit sweet. I actually started to crave this. I'm still considering making my own curry powder blend without cumin but I am strangely attracted to this stuff in spite of the cumin. I'm wondering if there is a completely different direction I could go in with this also - some other spice blend and/or different vegetables. I think there are a lot of possibilities here.

This is a book about dips but the author modeled this recipe after a commercial version (she doesn't name it by name and I have no idea what it might be) that she mentions she likes to spread on a toasted bagel. I enjoyed it on half of a honey wheat sandwich thin in this picture but I like it best as a wrap made with a whole wheat tortilla. I found a brand of whole wheat tortillas that I really like so I'm always looking for new things to eat them with.

It's not bad on Pringles either, in case you were wondering.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Using It Up: More Apples

Legacy Apple Cake with Brown Sugar Frosting
King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking Copyright 2006

2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (traditional or white whole wheat) I used traditional
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice, or 2 teaspoons apple pie spice
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup packed light or dark brown sugar I used half dark, half light
1 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup boiled cider or apple juice concentrate I used the concentrate
4 cups peeled, chopped apples (about 3 large apples, 1 pound)
1 cup walnuts, chopped I omitted these

Brown Sugar Frosting
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup firmly packed light or dark brown sugar I used light
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons milk
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour a 9-by-13-inch square pan or two 9-inch round pans or line with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice or apple pie spice; set aside.

Cream the butter with the brown and granulated sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, stopping between each addition to scrape the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl. Beat in vanilla, cider (or apple juice).

Mix in the dry ingredients until evenly moistened.
Fold in the apples and walnuts.

Spread the batter in the prepared pan (s). Bake for 45 minutes for the sheet cake or 30-35 minutes for the layers or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

Remove the cake from the oven and set on a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the frosting:

In a small pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Stir in brown sugar and salt. Cook, stirring, until the sugar melts. Add the milk, bring to a boil, and pour into a mixing bowl. Cool for 10 minutes.

Stir in confectioners’ sugar and vanilla. Beat well; if the mixture seems too thin, add more confectioners’ sugar. Use the frosting while it is still warm or it will firm up while it cools and you won't be able to spread it.

I still had quite a surplus of apples that might have waited but then I saw this recipe. I only needed to pick up some apple juice concentrate to make it. Oh boy oh boy. You think I would have learned from those Glazed Raisin Bars that I made from this cookbook last week. I think they added 3 inches to my waistline but I just had to come back to this cookbook for more delicious evilness. This was so moist and delicious. And I messed it up too - I forgot to add the granulated sugar until the end. I could see something was wrong - the batter was super dry and that's when I realized it. What else could I do at that point but throw in the sugar and hope for the best? Trust me, no one complained.

This is a very sweet cake but I still liked that thin layer of brown sugar frosting. I think a cream cheese frosting would be fantastic on this too. This would be over the top with the walnuts, which would cut the sweetness a bit. I could almost taste the walnuts that weren't there when I took my first bite. Hopefully some day we will be able to add some tree nuts back into our diet. My son is only allergic to peanuts but to lessen the confusion for him we avoid all nuts right now.

A tangier apply might cut the sweetness too. I used Red Delicious apples.

I've had this book for a while but it's on my hot list right now. Both my King Arthur cookbooks have brought me great recipes. I have to see about adding more of them to my collection.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Chicken and rice with a twist (of orange!)

Brazilian Chicken and Rice with Olives
The Bon Appetit Cookbook Copyright 2006

1 pound skinless boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1/2-inch-wide strips
1/4 cup olive oil I used canola oil
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon grated orange peel
1 cup water
1/2 cup orange juice
1 cup yellow rice mix with seasoning packet (from 8-ounce box)
1/2 cup (packed) pimiento-stuffed Spanish olives, halved

1 cup chopped fresh cilantro I left this out
Orange wedges I left this out

Sprinkle chicken lightly with salt and generously with ground black pepper. Heat oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken, garlic, and peel; sauté until chicken is lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Add 1 cup water and orange juice and bring to boil. Mix in rice, seasoning packet, and olives. Return to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and cook until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat; let stand covered 10 minutes.

Stir cilantro into rice mixture. Transfer to platter. Garnish with orange wedges.

This was a simple and not very expensive dish to make. I could only find 5 ounce bags of Carolina yellow rice mix. They were 75 cents each. I used one plus a little from the other to make 1 cup but next time I will just use one bag since I ended up having to add a bit more water to this. The chicken was under $2.50 in Costco. I used a big juicy navel orange that was $1.

There's a lot of oil in this. You could probably cut back some but the richness reminded me of when my mother would cook chicken over rice. Instead of chicken fat though, this is a healthier fat. Overall it had great flavor and was so easy to make, I will likely be making this again.

I'll be adding this to my boneless, skinless chicken thigh recipe round-up.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Using It Up: Apples

Savory Apple-Chicken Sausage
Taste of Home Comfort Food Diet Cookbook Copyright 2009

1 large tart apple, peeled and diced
2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 pound ground chicken

In a large bowl, combine the apple, poultry seasoning, salt and pepper. Crumble chicken over mixture and mix well, Shape into 8 3-inch patties.

In a large skillet coated with cooking spray, cook patties over medium heat for 5-6 minutes on each side or until no longer pink. Drain if necessary. My patties were kind of thick and took a while to cook through. After browning them, I added some water to the pan and let it cook out and then let them brown a bit more.

I just bought a huge bag of apples and I still had a few apples left from the last bag. This recipe looked so simple but I wondered if it would taste like sausage or chicken burgers. The verdict? It did taste like sausage, not a super-spicy sausage but it definitely tastes like sausage. Who knew it was so easy to make your own sausage? The apple was a nice touch but I think it could be left out if you were just looking for basic sausage. The apple flavor was more assertive when these were first cooked. It was milder in the leftovers.

I am going to be making this recipe often. That is a guarantee. I'm going to use this to morph Maple-Barbecued Pork Burgers into Maple-Barbecued Chicken Burgers. Those burgers were delicious but came with a huge side of guilt. Don't quote me but I think the ground chicken I used (regular, not the superlean stuff) has 9 grams of fat per 4 ounces. The pork sausage has 16 grams per 2 ounces! So I'm going to play around and see what I can do there.

This will be added to my ground chicken recipe round-up. It's still my favorite ingredient to work with.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Using It Up: Hot Sauce

Buffalo Chicken Dip
Mary Engelbreit’s Fan Fare Cookbook Copyright 2010

2 (9.75-ounce) cans white-meat chicken, drained
¾ cup wing or cayenne sauce, plus more to taste
1 cup ranch dressing
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese
Corn or tortilla chips, for serving

Combine all of the ingredients, except for the corn chips, in a saucepan. Heat over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until heated through. I baked this instead. Serve the dip warm with the corn chips. I served it with tortilla chips and crackers.

I found a few bottles of hot sauce in the cupboard. Since I wanted to make something for the Super Bowl, this came to mind. It's a pretty popular recipe with a few different variations but this was my first experience with it. It was tasty but if I made it for guests I would take the time to cook up some chicken breasts instead of using the canned chicken. I like canned chicken but it does taste 'canned'.

I decided to bake it. That just appealed to me more and most versions call for baking it. You can also use blue cheese dressing instead of ranch or mozzarella cheese instead of cheddar.

I only made a half batch. A whole batch would be quite a bit of Buffalo Chicken Dip. You're looking at the leftovers in the picture - I didn't get a picture when I first served it. I ate the leftovers for dinner for the next couple of nights.

I am bursting with cooking ideas lately but life is just too crazy. I can't wait to have my own space again.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Custom made party mix

Party Mix
Best Recipes From The Backs of Boxes, Bottles, Cans and Jars Copyright 1979, 1981, and 1982

6 Tbs. butter or margarine
1 tsp. seasoned salt
4 tsps. Worcestershire sauce
2 cups Corn Chex cereal I used all Corn Chex
2 cups Rice Chex cereal
2 cups Wheat Chex cereal
¾ cup salted mixed nuts I didn't add nuts

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. Heat butter in 13x9x2-inch baking pan in oven until melted. Remove. Stir in seasoned salt and Worcestershire sauce. Add Chex and nuts. Mix until all pieces are coated. Bake for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. Spread on absorbent paper to cool. Makes 6 ¾ cups.

After this was cooled I mixed in roasted garlic rye chips and bbq corn chips.

Note: Party Mix may be frozen, so make a double batch. Thaw at room temperature in container in which is was stored. Really?? I would have never thought of freezing this stuff. It doesn't last long enough around here for freezing.

My older son loves party mix but he is usually just after a few of the snacks in the mix. I give him a bowl of party mix, he returns with a bowl of pretzels. I don't like the pretzels either. We only have a few options when it comes to ready-made party mixes. I'm not sure if this is still true but the prepackaged Chex mixes stopped being an option for us after his peanut allergy diagnosis since they were labeled for cross-contamination.

So I decided, why not make our own? It isn't really less expensive since the rye chips and bbq corn chips weren't cheap but there was definitely less waste. You could just stick your hand in and get something you like, instead of navigating around the pretzels.

This was ridiculously addictive and ridiculously salty. Next time I am definitely using less seasoned salt or maybe I will use some other seasoning without salt since the butter and Worcestershire sauce add more than enough. I may even replace some of the Worcestershire sauce with lemon juice. I seem to recall either having or someone telling me about a Chex mix recipe that used lemon juice.

I just now ate the very last bit of this party mix. That makes me sad. But it's late and this stuff does take a while to bake - the one negative I can find in this recipe - so we won't be having any more of this until the weekend probably.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Eating my vegetables: Cauliflower with Polonaise Topping

Cauliflower with Polonaise Topping
Moosewood Restaurant New Classics Copyright 2001

8 cups cauliflower florets*
2 tablespoons butter or extra-virgin
olive oil
2 cloves garlic - minced or pressed
2/3 cup bread crumbs - preferably whole
1 chopped hard boiled egg -optional I left this out
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley I used dried
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon or 1 teaspoon dried I used dried
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives I used dried
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
ground black pepper - to taste

* Two pounds of cauliflower = about 8 cups

** Pulverize stale or lightly toasted whole wheat, sourdough, or rye bread
in a blender or food processor.

Steam or blanch the cauliflower florets in salted boiling until tender, 5
to 8 minutes. Drain and set aside

Meanwhile, warm the butter or oil in a large 12-inch skillet and saute the
garlic and bread crumbs for 3 to 4 minutes, until the crumbs are
golden. Mix the hard-boiled egg, if using, into the bread crumbs. Add the
parsley, tarragon, chives, Dijon, and salt and mix well. Add the drained
cauliflower florets to the skillet, toss with the seasoned bread crumbs,
and add pepper to taste. Serve immediately. Serves 4 to 6.

Cauliflower with breadcrumbs and butter is actually one of my favorite things that I've been making for years. But, left to my own devices, I tend to add a lot of breadcrumbs and a lot of butter. A lot. I followed this recipe faithfully though and enjoyed this healthier more restrained version quite a bit. The herbs and mustard gave it a kick of flavor. Cauliflower isn't going to help my complexion but I love it, it was on sale and it was a huge head of cauliflower (over 4 pounds, I only used about half for this recipe). I am trying to eat more vegetables in general, not just the colorful ones.

I'm enjoying exploring this cookbook once again. It was getting ignored for way too long. Expect to see more recipes from it in the future.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

One of my favorite ingredients

Spanakopita Chicken Meatballs with Spicy Cucumber Yogurt Sauce
Rachael Ray’s Book of 10 Copyright 2009

2 10-ounce boxes frozen chopped spinach, defrosted
¾ cup crumbled feta cheese I used a 4 oz container of feta
1 pound ground chicken
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped DIVIDED
1 tablespoon grill seasoning, such as McCormick’s Montreal Steak Seasoning
Extra virgin olive oil, for liberal drizzling I left this out and coated them with cooking spray
1 ½ cups Greek-style plain yogurt
1/3 seedless cucumber, peeled and chopped
3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill I used dried dill
½ tablespoon ground cumin I omitted this
½ tablespoon ground coriander
Juice of ½ lemon

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Wring out the spinach completely dry. Separate the spinach as you add it to the mixing bowl. Add the feta, chicken, onion, two thirds of the chopped garlic, the grill seasoning and a liberal drizzle of olive oil to the bowl. Mix the meat with the veggies and feta and form 18 1 ½-inch meatballs. Place the meatballs on a rimmed non-stick baking sheet and bake them for 10 to 12 minutes until they are golden and the juices run clear.

While the meatballs bake, place the yogurt, remaining chopped garlic, the cucumbers, dill, cumin, coriander, lemon juice and a little salt in a food processor and process until smooth. Adjust the seasonings and transfer sauce to a serving bowl. Serve the meatballs with a bowl of the sauce and toothpicks for dipping.

6 servings

I've come late to the Rachael Ray party. Her delivery turned me off at first - the long lists of ingredients, her coupling of main dishes with sides, the way recipe variations are presented in some of her books (switch out this for that, leave out this,add that,etc). Now that I have several of her recipes under my belt, I can look back and say, "Wow!" I have loved all of her recipes.

Of course she has made herself even nearer and dearer to my heart by often utilizing one of my favorite ingredients, ground chicken. I am slowly working my way through all of her ground chicken recipes. I settled on this one next since I didn't need to buy too many ingredients. I was a bit hesitant. I'm not sure why. I think it was the cumin. I don't care for cumin in places I'm not used to it (i.e. I like it in chili and stuff like that but not much else). I decided to just leave it out and I think, for me personally, that was a wise decision. I am learning to listen to my little voice more often.

These are chock full of spinach and feta. The chicken is not the star. In another cookbook, she uses the same basic mix for burgers, but only one box of spinach. So, if you're not into a LOT of spinach, I'm sure you could cut back. Me? I loved them with a lot of spinach. Spinach is one of those vegetables that are supposed to give my complexion that attractive color, so that was a bonus. They didn't need a bonus though, these were just plain delicious. Lots of flavor in the meatballs, the sauce was great (without the cumin). Before Greek yogurt was available, I could never make a tzatziki that I liked. Now, made with the proper Greek yogurt, I love it. I ate these in a whole wheat pita. Ding! Ding! Another Rachael Ray winner.

I'm going to add these to my ground chicken recipe round up.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Using It Up: Raisins and Whole Wheat Flour

Glazed Raisin Bars
King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking Copyright 2006

3 cups packed raisins (18 oz.)
4 cups whole wheat flour (1 lb.)
1 1/3 cups sugar (9 3/8 oz.)
3/4 cup unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks, 6 oz.)
1/4 cup molasses (3 oz.)
1 3/4 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 large eggs
1/3 cup water

1 cup confectioners' sugar (4 oz.)
3 tablespoons milk

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 10x15-inch jelly roll pan, a 14-inch deep dish pizza pan, or similar size pan.

Place the raisins and 2 cups of the flour in a food processor. Process until the raisins are coarsely chopped i.e. each raisin should be chopped into about 4 pieces.

Beat the sugar and butter in a large mixing bowl until smooth. Add the molasses, baking soda, salt, and spices, beating until well combined.

Beat in the eggs, scraping the bowl, then add the water and the flour-raisin mixture, beating gently until everything is combined. Stir in the remaining 2 cups flour.

Spread the batter into the prepared pan. It will be stiff. Wet your fingers and spread out as smoothly as possible.

Bake until the bars are beginning to brown, 25 minutes. Poke a sharp knife in the middle of the dough. The inside should be very moist but not wet or unbaked looking. Remove the bars form the oven and let cool in the pan.

Glaze: Stir together the powdered sugar and milk or lemon juice. When the bars are cool, use a pastry brush to spread the glaze over the bars. When glaze is hardened, cut bars into 2 inch square pieces. I ended up doubling the glaze recipe because I forgot it was supposed to be brushed on and it didn't seem like enough to spread on.

When I cleaned out my cupboards recently I came across three partially filled boxes of raisins. I don't use raisins all that regularly and I guess I tend to buy a new box whenever I need them. When I saw this recipe I immediately saw it as a good way to use up most of those raisins. And as a bonus, it used whole wheat flour. I bought a bag of whole wheat flour at Christmas for a recipe I never got around to making.

I thought these were going to be dry at first but they weren't. They got better as they sat. They were addictive. I am funny about raisins There are times I just can't get in the mood for them but when I do use them, I usually love them. I really like the way they are almost ground up in these bars, instead of left whole. It distributes the raisin flavor much better.

On another note, take a peek down at the right side of my blog. I've had over 1 million page hits! And I didn't start using StatCounter until over a year after I started blogging. Pioneer Woman probably has about 1 million hits a day and it took me almost 5 years but hey, it's still pretty cool.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Using It Up: Strawberry Preserves

Strawberry Jam Muffins
McCall's Cook Book Copyright 1963

2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 egg
1 cup milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil or melted shortening
about 3/4 cup of strawberry preserves or jam (or whatever flavor you prefer)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Prepare a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners.

Sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add the lemon zest to the dry ingredients. Mix together the milk, egg and oil or shortening. Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the wet ingredients all at once. Stir with fork until just moistened. Batter will be lumpy.

Place 1 tablespoon of batter in each muffin cup. Top with 1 teaspoon of strawberry preserves. Top preserves with batter, filling cups about two-thirds full. Top each muffin with about a teaspoon of Streusel. Bake for about 20-25 minutes (mine were done in about 15 minutes but my oven is wonky). Makes 12 muffins.

1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter

Mix flour and brown sugar. Cut butter into mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs.

As you can see, I'm trying to use things up. I cleaned out my cupboards recently and that's always an eye opener. I hate that I waste so much food. It is my goal to use up as much of the stuff that I have on hand. I have a few jars of preserves and jams in the refrigerator, and some in the cupboard. I'm not sure where these strawberry preserves came from - a nice jar of Dickinson's brand preserves. It doesn't look like there was enough missing from the jar to have used them in a recipe.

This cookbook gives a recipe for Perfect Muffins and then they suggest several variations. This was one of the variations but I added the streusel topping since I like a topping on my muffins and from now on, I'm going to take the liberty of adding one because life is too short to make muffins without a topping.

This just might be the Perfect Muffin. Both the texture and flavor were excellent. I almost omitted the lemon zest but I'm glad I added it. The trace of lemon flavor was great with the strawberry. This recipe is definitely a keeper. I could have eaten all 12 muffins. Thank God for my coworkers. And even though I'm sure these are good without the streusel, I thought it was a great touch. Whoever thought of that should really help themselves to another muffin.

I picked this cookbook up in Goodwill for $1.97. It looks like a great all-purpose cookbook. After this excellent recipe, I am anxious to try more recipes from this book.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Using It Up: Candied Cherries

Melting Moments
Reader’s Digest Cookies 1,001 Mouthwatering Recipes From Around The World Copyright 2004

1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/ 8 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup butter, softened
½ cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ¼ cups finely chopped candied cherries

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two cookie sheets. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. Beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at high speed until creamy. Add the egg and vanilla, beating until just blended. Mix in the dry ingredients and cherries. Form the dough into balls the size of walnuts and place 1 inch apart on the prepared cookie sheets. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until just golden, rotating the sheets halfway through for even baking. Cool on the sheets until the cookies firm slightly. Transfer to racks to finish cooling.

Makes 28-30 cookies.

When I went to buy the candied cherries to make my fruit cake for Christmas, I could only find the large container of the red cherries in the store I was shopping in. I could have gone to another store for the smaller container but it was Christmas time and I was tired of shopping so I bought the bigger container. I wasn't sure what to do with the leftover cherries. I don't see a lot of recipes that call for them in most of my cookbooks but then I realized they appeared more frequently in some of my baking cookbooks that have a European slant. It may be hard to explain what I mean by that but I have a lot of cookbooks that have American measurements but they have clearly not been born and raised in the U.S. This book for instance was 'conceived, edited and designed' in Italy.

Then I was faced with too many choices! I found lots of recipes calling for candied cherries. I went with this recipe since I knew the guys at work would like it. It's a basic cookie. The cherries don't add that much except a different texture and sweetness of course. I don't find candied cherries to be all that flavorful.

I think there are a lot of cookies named Melting Moments and most are probably nothing like this recipe but I just bake 'em, I don't name 'em.