Friday, December 31, 2010

Orange-Pecan Waffles

You would think after a couple years of not having a waffle iron, I would remember that I don't own one. I don't know how I still forget, mix-up the batter, and then remember. It's a good thing I have my back-up sandwich maker. :) Surprisingly, it works pretty well, you just can't fill it very full. Anyway, my sweet Momma gave me a cute little "Christmas at Home: Delightful Desserts" recipe book, and I have had fun trying a couple of them out. This was a yummy one. Doug and the kids wished that I had left the nuts out, but it was still good.

Orange-Pecan Waffles
2/3 cup butter
3 cups sifted flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 T sugar
4 large eggs
2 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
Zest of 1 orange
1 cup pecans, finely chopped (I used walnuts.)

Melt and cool butter. Set aside. Sift flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar together in a large bowl. Beat eggs in small bowl on high speed for 1 minute. Add milk and vanilla. Then add egg mixture to dry ingredients. Add orange zest and pecans. Beat on medium speed about 1 minute until blended. Blend in butter on low speed. Bake in preheated waffle iron. Makes 4 full-size, four-section waffles. Serve with additional butter and warm maple syrup.
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Monday, December 27, 2010

Daring Bakers Challenge: Christmas Stollen Wreath

The 2010 December Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Penny of Sweet Sadie’s Baking. She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make Stollen. She adapted a friend’s family recipe and combined it with information from friends, techniques from Peter Reinhart’s book, and Good old Aunt Martha Stewart’s demonstration. (We're not really related. :)

These challenges have been fun for me, because I am making things that I don't think I ever would have tried before. This was definitely one of them. This one was a little "labor-intensive" with several steps, several bowls (which drives me nuts- I love when you can dump it all into one and mix), and even a couple days of prepping, but if your know me, you'll know that I take short cuts when I can. I was a bit impatient, and although it says it takes about two days, I wanted to make this all in one day... so I did. I actually divided the recipe too, so that I could make two small wreaths. I made one that day and then I let the other one rise overnight in the fridge like the recipe called for. My experiment would have been great if I hadn't forgotten the one if the fridge (can you see why I should sometimes just stick with the basic recipes?)- it sat there for four days, and I don't think that was what was intended either. They both turned out ok though- the first one was just fine, with a texture more like a cinnamon roll. I really wanted to put a cinnamon roll glaze on top- I think it would have been really yummy. I also skipped the whole candied orange peel step- I heard it was very yummy, but I thought it was good without too. Anyway, I thought it turned out pretty well and made a pretty tasty batch. Probably won't make it again, but it was festive and fun to try.

Christmas Stollen Wreath

  • 1/4 C. lukewarm water
  • 2 packages active dry yeast
  • 1 C. milk
  • 10 TBSP. butter
  • 51/2 C all purpose flour
  • 1/2 C sugar
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • grated zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp. lemon extract or orange extract (I have since added this to the collection, but I didn't have it at the time and I just used lemon juice. I'm sure it made a difference, but it seemed to turn out ok.)
  • 3/4 C. mixed citrus peel (click here to see my sis-in-laws candied orange peel post)
  • 1/2 C. firmly packed raisins (I did half regular and half golden raisins)
  • 1/2 C. firmly packed cranberries
  • 3 TBSP. rum or juice from the orange you zested
  • 12 glace cherries roughly chopped (Optional. I left these out)
  • 1 C. flaked almonds
  • Melted butter for coating the wreaths
  • powdered sugar for dusting the wreath

1. Soak the dried fruit in the rum or juice from zested orange. Set these aside and let them soak until you are ready to add them to the dough.

2. To make the dough, pour 1/4 cup warm water into a small bowl, sprinkle with yeast and a dash of sugar and let it stand 5 minutes or until it starts to bubble and froth. Stir to dissolve completely.

3. In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup milk and the 10 Tablespoons of butter over medium-low heat until the butter is melted. Let stand until lukewarm, about 5 minutes.

4. Lightly beat eggs in a small bowl and add lemon extract and vanilla extract. Set aside.

5. In a large mixing bowl (or the bowl of an electric mixture with a paddle attachment), stir together the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, orange zest and lemon zest.

6. Then stir in (on low speed) the yeast mixture, eggs mixture, and the milk and butter mixture. This should take about 2 minutes. It should be a soft, but not really sticky ball. When the dough comes together, cover the bowl with plastic or a tea cloth and let rest for 10 minutes.

7. Add in the chopped citrus peel (click here for instructions), soaked fruit, and almonds and mix on low speed. If you choose to use the glace cherries, do it at this point, but be delicate with the cherries or all your dough will turn red.

8. Knead in the electric mixer with a dough hook for 6 minutes. If you use your hands, knead for 8 minutes. You can tell when the dough is kneaded enough when a few raisins start to fall off the dough. When it is done it should be tacky, but not sticky.

9. Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling around to coat it with oil. Cover it with plastic wrap. Put it in the fridge overnight. The dough will become firm in the fridge but it does rise slowly. You can keep it in the fridge like this for about a week.

10. Let the dough rest on the counter for 2 hours after taking out of the fridge. Punch down dough and roll into a rectangle about 16 x 24 inches and 1/4 inch thick.

11. Starting with a long side, roll up tightly, forming a long, thin cylinder.

Transfer the cylinder roll to a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Join the ends together pinch to make them stick together, forming a large circle. You may use a bowl to hold the circle shape.


12. Using kitchen scissors, make cuts along the outside of the circle in 2 inch intervals, cutting 2/3 of the way through the dough. Tease each segment away from the ones around it. Mist the dough with spray oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap.

13. Let it sit like this at room temperature to proof. It should get 1-1/2 times bigger than its original size. Bake the stollen for 20 minutes, then rotate the pan 180 degrees for even baking and continue to bake for 20 to 30 minutes. the bread will bake to a dark mahogany color. It will sound hollow when thumped on the bottom.

14. Brush the top with melted butter while it is still hot. Coat it generously. Immediately tap a layer of powdered sugar over the top through a sieve or sifter. Wait a minute and tap another layer over the first. It should be generously coated with butter and powdered sugar. The more you coat it, the longer the stollen will last.

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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Pizza Bombs a.k.a Calzones

We're starting a new tradition at our house: Pizza Bomb Thursdays... or Fridays... or Saturdays. (I needed some flexibility on the day, because sometimes I just can't "deliver"- no pun intended.) Basically, the tradition is that we will have these at least once a week! They were so good, and surprisingly easy to whip up! I have tried several pizza crust recipes, and some have even been pretty good, but so far, I've had the most success with this one. It is just hard to beat a "Betty Crocker." This is also fun, because the family can assemble their own, and everyone gets a "personal" pizza bomb... it makes you feel special. We filled ours really full- can you tell! :) I'm thinking we might make this for our Christmas dinner... would that be too non-traditional? Do we even care? ... It's just good stuff. :)

Pizza Crust (Betty Crocker's "Big Red" Cookbook)
2 1/2 to 3 cups all-purpose or bread flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 package regular or quick active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
3 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
1 cup very warm water (120 degrees to 130 degrees F)
In large bowl, mix 1 cup of the flour, the sugar, salt, and yeast. Add oil and warm water. Beat with electric mixer on medium speed 3 minutes, scraping bowl frequently. Stir in enough remaining flour until dough is soft and leaves sides of bowl. Place dough on lightly floured surface. Knead 5 to 8 minutes or until dough is smooth and springy. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest 30 minutes.
Also, a side note, Betty Crocker has a great tasting pizza crust mix in a pouch as well.

Pizza Bombs (a.k.a. Calzones) also from Betty
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (8 oz)
1/4 lb salami (pepperoni), cut into thin strips
1/2 cup ricotta cheese (cottage cheese works great)
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil (I didn't have fresh so we sprinkled in some pizza seasoning, Italian seasoning, oregano, and basil.)
2 roma tomatoes chopped (I was more traditional, and we just used tomato sauce)
freshly ground pepper
1 large egg, slightly beaten

Make dough for pizza crust; let rest for 30 minutes. (This give you a minute to gather the other ingredients.)
Heat oven to 375. Grease 2 cookie sheets.
Divide dough into 6 equal parts. Roll each part into 7-inch circles on lightly floured surface with floured rolling pin.
Top half of each dough circle with mozzarella cheese, salami, ricotta, basil, and tomatoes to within 1 inch of edge. Sprinkle with pepper. Carefully fold dough over filling; pinch edges or press with a fork to seal securely.
Place calzones on cookie sheets. Brush with egg. Bake about 25 minutes or until golden brown.
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Sunday, December 19, 2010

Gift Idea: Cookies in a Jar

I posted this idea a while back, but I just it was fun to dress it up a bit, and it makes a fun gift, with ingredients you typically have on hand. The girls and I put this together for my daughter's teacher. It was easy to do and the kids can help. Here's a link to the recipe for Cookies in a Jar.

Lyd's Tip: I know this is probably really tacky, but this is how I use up my jars that won't seal because the rims are a little chipped. I just have to write "broken jar" with a marker on the bottom so I remember. :) I know- I am super cheap sometimes... but hey- save the earth... recycle. :)
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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Grandma's Dixie Salad

I have the hardest time deciding whether or not to love or hate pomegranates. It is such a mixture of heavenly juice and wood- I sit and chew and I just can't decide. I think the sweet juice is "nectar form the Gods", but that whole woody texture is just hard for me to get past somehow. :) But, whether you are a big fan or a little fan, I bet you will like this salad. I can remember this yummy fruit salad from way back as a kid. My Grandma grew up in St. George (where this salad originated) hence the name "Dixie". It is pretty simple, and it somehow seems a little bit more "special" than your typical fruit salad.

Grandma's Dixie Salad
The red seeds from 1 pomegranate (cut open and seeds removed)
1-2 bananas, peeled and sliced
1 apple, roughly chopped
whip cream (one tub or if you are making the "real deal" 2-3 cups.)
2 cups mini marshmallows

Gently stir all the ingredients together until coated with the whip cream. Refrigerate and serve cold.

We enjoyed this salad over Thanksgiving- this is my mom and daughter making it. My daughter said it was her favorite thing on the table. :)
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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

My New Favorite Way to Have Eggs...

Can I just tell you what I enjoyed for breakfast this morning? It was EGG-stra good, and this is coming from a gal who doesn't care much for eggs. I think it is all about the sauce. I also put it on a yummy biscuit and it just made it all moist and delicious! I could have this any meal, any day!

This was my first Daring Cooks Challenge. I was nervous at first, but this process is really quite simple and worth it. I'll pass on these great tips, and you can feel fancy like I did, having a "royal" breakfast! :) This one was by Jenn and Jill have challenged The Daring Cooks to learn to perfect the technique of poaching an egg. They chose Eggs Benedict recipe from Alton Brown, Oeufs en Meurette from Cooking with Wine by Anne Willan, and Homemade Sundried Tomato & Pine Nut Seitan Sausages (poached) courtesy of Trudy of Veggie num num.

Recipe Sources:
Eggs Benedict: Hollandaise sauce by Alton Brown
Oeufs en Meurette: From Cooking with Wine by Anne Willan, seen on Epicurious
Homemade Sundried Tomato & Pine Nut Seitan Sausages: From Trudy of Veggie num num

Also- I probably shouldn't say this out-loud, and I'm sure it's not quite as rich and yummy, but they sell little Hollandise packets that I have used before, and that could really save you some time in the morning.

Poaching an egg is not very difficult technique-wise, it really is all about the timing and there are a few tricks that can help.

• Make sure to use the freshest eggs possible. Farm-fresh eggs will make for the best poached eggs. Old eggs will have a harder time with the whites spreading out all over the place when you place the egg in the water.

• Adding a bit of vinegar or acidic agent to your water will help stabilize the eggs and cook the whites faster, and keeping your water just below boiling point (about 190F) will help keep the fragile eggs from all the boiling bubble action rupturing the eggs. Also make sure to salt your poaching water well.

• The other main key to success is to crack your egg into a small bowl first, taking care not to break the yolk. Then it becomes easy to gently slide the entire egg into the water for the poaching process. Some people will also suggest swirling the poaching liquid into a bit of a vortex before sliding the egg in, in order to help keep the egg whites together. I’ve found it works fine whether or not you do this step.

• A poached egg is done when the whites are fully cooked and the yolk has just started to solidify but is still runny when you cut it open – usually three minutes. It’s ok to go a little longer though depending on your desired firmness. I like mine so the edges of yolks are cooking but the inside is still runny, so I usually let them go 30s longer.

• You can poach eggs ahead of time (about a day). Just immerse them in ice water after poaching, and then keep them in a bowl of water in the fridge. When you are ready to use them, place them in hot (not boiling) water until they are warmed through.

Eggs Benedict
Serves 4

4 eggs (size is your choice)
2 English muffins*
4 slices of Canadian bacon/back bacon (or plain bacon if you prefer)
Chives, for garnish
Splash of vinegar (for poaching)

For the hollandaise (makes 1.5 cups):
3 large egg yolks
1 tsp. (5 ml) water
¼ tsp. (1 ¼ ml/1½ g) sugar
12 Tbl. (170 g/6 oz.) unsalted butter, chilled and cut in small pieces º
½ tsp. (2 ½ ml/3 g) kosher salt
2 tsp. (10 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
Pinch cayenne pepper (optional)
* for gluten free, use gluten free English muffins or bread of your choice
º for dairy free, use a dairy free margarine


1. Fill a medium saucepan halfway with water and bring to a simmer.

2. Cut the chilled butter into small pieces and set aside.

3. Whisk egg yolks and 1 tsp. (5 ml) water in a mixing bowl large enough to sit on the saucepan without touching the water (or in top portion of a double boiler). Whisk for 1–2 minutes, until egg yolks lighten. Add the sugar and whisk 30 seconds more.

4. Place bowl on saucepan over simmering water and whisk steadily 3–5 minutes (it only took about 3 for me) until the yolks thicken to coat the back of a spoon.

5. Remove from heat (but let the water continue to simmer) and whisk in the butter, 1 piece at a time. Move the bowl to the pan again as needed to melt the butter, making sure to whisk constantly.

6. Once all the butter is incorporated, remove from heat and whisk in the salt, lemon juice, and cayenne pepper (if using).

7. Keep the hollandaise warm while you poach your eggs in a thermos, carafe, or bowl that you’ve preheated with warm water.

8. If the water simmering in your pan has gotten too low, add enough so that you have 2–3 inches of water and bring back to a simmer.

9. Add salt and a splash of vinegar (any kind will do). I added about a tablespoon of vinegar to my small saucepan (about 3 cups of water/720 ml of water), but you may need more if you’re using a larger pan with more water.

10. Crack eggs directly into the very gently simmering water (or crack first into a bowl and gently drop into the water), making sure they’re separated. Cook for 3 minutes for a viscous but still runny yolk.

11. While waiting for the eggs, quickly fry the Canadian/back bacon and toast your English muffin.

12. Top each half of English muffin with a piece of bacon. Remove the eggs with a slotted spoon, draining well, and place on top of the bacon. Top with hollandaise and chopped chives, and enjoy!

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Friday, December 10, 2010

Ham and Swiss Biscuits

Ham and cheese just belong together, so they make a great match in this biscuit! I don't usually care for biscuit mix recipe just because I don't usually have it on hand, but this one inspired me to find a recipe online so that I could make my own biscuit mix and then make this recipe. It was worth the extra work. Makes a great snack, appetizer, breakfast, or side. Very versatile!

Ham and Swiss Biscuits (Simple and Delicious)
2 cups biscuit/baking mix
1/4 pound fully cooked ham, finely chopped
1/2 cup shredded Swiss cheese (You should know that I substituted Parmesan. I just didn't want to say that too loudly so as not to disturb the title. :)
2/3 cup 2% milk
1 egg
1 tablespoon honey mustard
2 teaspoons dried minced onion

In a small bowl, combine the biscuit mix, ham and cheese. Combine the milk, egg, mustard and onion. Stir into biscuit mixture just until moistened. Drop by 1/4 cupfuls 2 in. apart onto a greased baking sheet.
Bake at 425° for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm. Yield: 10 biscuits.

Nutrition Facts: 2 biscuits equals 300 calories, 13 g fat (5 g saturated fat), 63 mg cholesterol, 883 mg sodium, 34 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 13 g protein.
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Biscuit Mix

(This is a picture of my Ham and Swiss Biscuits just so you don't get confused. I forgot to take a picture of the actual mix.)
I can't even tell you how many times I come across recipes that call for "biscuit mix" and feel pure rage! ... I guess that is just something most people have, but "Bisquick" and I didn't even meet until college, and we didn't get along very well when we did. I think I bought a box once, and I always felt guilty when I used. My mom trained us to be anti-crisco and bisquick from the craddle... so, that being said, I get really frustrated when see a beautiful picture of muffins or pancakes and refer to the recipe, only to be haunted by my past nemisis. Soooo... I've found a solution. I wanted to make some muffins really bad, and it inspired me to find this recipe, that worked perfectly for my biscuit mix. It made me very happy. This is an easy one to half too, if you only need a little bit.
P.S. If you are a crisco/bisquick user, we can still be friends... just don't tell me what is in that pretty batch of muffins or pie crust or chocolate chip cookies... deal? :) Innocence is bliss.

Biscuit Mix (
6 c. flour
2 tbsp. baking powder
1 tbsp. salt
1 c. shortening (I used butter.)
1 c. powdered milk

Mix ingredients well with electric mixer and store in covered container (this amount is just right for a 2 pound coffee can). When ready to use, add desired amount of water to 2 cups biscuit mix to make 10 or 12 biscuits. If no oven is available bake over low heat in lightly greased heavy iron skillet with lid. Turn biscuits once.
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Monday, December 6, 2010

Bottled Apple Pie Filling

"The Lord is good to me and so I thank the Lord,
For giving me the things I need, the sun and rain and an apple-seed, oh he's been good to me."

I owe the Lord so much, for everything I see.
I'm certain if it weren't for him, there'd be no apples on this limb, oh he's been good to me."

I wake up everyday as happy as can be,
Because I know that with his care my apple trees will still be there, oh he's been good to me."

As I was posting this one, I just couldn't help but hum this little song of my youth. I remember watching the Disney Johny Appleseed show many a time, and I guess it just sums up how I feel about the lovely little fruit! My parents used to call me the apple girl, and I could always count on a big bag of apples by my stocking for Christmas. :) (This was all before my permanent front teach got knocked out and the whole biting thing got a lot harder... but I still love them cut up. :) All in all, you just can't beat a good old-fashioned apple pie, can you?!

This is one I have been meaning to post for a long time! So what makes this post so special? I've already posted some excellent apple pies and why more? Well- you do this in a big old batch and bottle them up for later- work now, feast later... then feast again... and again. My friend Brittany and I put up about 30 quarts of apple pie filling this Fall. We had a little peeler/corer that really helped speed things up. This pie filling has an excellent flavor- that store bought stuff doesn't even come close! (I think that little bit of lemon juice makes a big difference!) and it makes the EASIEST dessert- all the work is already done. You just open a jar and you can make an apple pie, apple-crisp, apple-brown-betty, apple cobbler and more! You won't regret the extra work for the yumminess later!

Canned Apple Pie Filling (makes about 6 quarts)
6lbs of apples = 24 cups

4 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup cornstarch
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp salt
10 cups water
3 T lemon juice
24 cups apples (cored, peeled, and sliced)

In a large pan, blend first four ingredients. Add salt. Stir in water. Cook and stir until clear, thick, bubbly, and starting to foam at the top. Add raw apples to syrup and heat through. Add lemon juice. Pack apples in 1 quart jars leaving 1 inch lip space. (Fill with any extra hot syrup left over). Clean of rims, place on lids, and screw rings on tightly. Place jars in canner and fill above the rims with warm/hot water. Process in a canning/water-bath for 20 to 30 minutes from the time water is boiling.) Carefully remove and let rest until fully sealed. (Brittany sometimes flips hers over if they didn't seal and the heat from the inside usually finishes to job.)
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Do-Ahead Egg Bake

Where is the time going?!!! We're already into the thick on December and I haven't posted! I've been a slacker... but I'm still cooking and I promise that I'll keep the recipes coming! Heres a fast "do-ahead" breakfast that might be a good one for when company comes. I love any breakfast you can make the night before. This is a good one for a big crowd- it makes a monstrous batch- we had A LOT of left-overs. I think if I make it again for our family, I will just make half. It was pretty good though- spinach can be tough to disguise. :)

Do-Ahead Egg Bake (
8 eggs
3 cups milk
8 cups French bread cubes (3/4 inch)
1 pkg. (10 oz.) frozen chopped spinach, thawed, squeezed dry
12 slices Bacon, cooked, crumbled
1 pkg. (8 oz.) Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese, divided

WHISK eggs and milk in large bowl until well blended. Stir in bread. Add spinach, bacon and 1-1/2 cups cheese; mix lightly.
POUR into 13x9-inch baking dish sprayed with cooking spray; top with remaining cheese. Cover; refrigerate overnight.
HEAT oven to 350ºF. Bake, uncovered, 48 to 50 min. or until top is puffed and golden brown.

Kraft Kitchens Tips
Healthy Living
Good news! You'll save 60 calories and 6 grams of total fat, including 3-1/2 grams of saturated fat, per serving by preparing with cholesterol-free egg product, fat-free milk, LOUIS RICH/OSCAR MAYER Turkey Bacon and KRAFT 2% Milk Shredded Cheddar Cheese.

Prepare using frozen chopped broccoli.

You will need about 1/2 of 1-lb. French bread loaf to get the 8 cups bread cubes needed to make this recipe.
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Monday, November 29, 2010

Cheesy Chicken Empanadas

Now here is a tasty little number! These are super easy to make and they tasted excellent! They make a great appetizer or meal. I made them on a day when I was grocery shopping and I just remembered to pick up the pre-made pie crust. I even cut corners by picking up a rotisserie chicken, so it ended up being a "no-fuss" meal. You can't help but love those. :)

Cheesy Chicken Empanadas (
2 cups shredded cooked chicken breasts
1 cup KRAFT Mexican Style Finely Shredded Four Cheese
1/3 cup KRAFT SANDWICH SHOP Chipotle Flavored Reduced Fat Mayonnaise (This is probably not your pantry staple, so if that is that case, you can do what I did, and substitute sour cream and salsa. It gave it a great flavor.)
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
1 egg
1 Tbsp. water
1 pkg. (14.1 oz.) ready-to-use refrigerated pie crusts (2 crusts)
1 tsp. chili powder

HEAT oven to 375ºF.
COMBINE first 4 ingredients. Whisk egg and water until well blended.
UNROLL pie crusts on lightly floured surface. Use rolling pin to roll each to 12-inch circle. Cut each crust into 8 (4-inch) circles with biscuit cutter, re-rolling dough as needed. Place on parchment-covered baking sheets. Spoon 2 Tbsp. chicken mixture onto center of each circle; brush edge with egg. Fold dough circles in half. Press tops lightly to remove excess air; seal edges with fork. Brush tops with remaining egg. Sprinkle with chili powder.
BAKE 15 min. or until golden brown.
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Saturday, November 27, 2010

Novermber Daring Bakers: Pasta Frolla for a Crostata (Don't panic... it's just a tart. :)

My cute Sister-in-Law Amy, talked me into joining The Daring Kitchen. I had heard of this site a while back, but I had never taken the time to figure out how it worked. When she explained it to me, it sounded like a lot of fun! I signed up and anxiously awaited my first challenge... only to be a little intimidated (dare I even go so far as to say disapointed) when I saw our first "fancy" challenge. My initial thought was, "Oh great... this is going to be one of those recipes I will never use, with a mouth-full-of-a-name that I can't even begin to pronounce." I COULD NOT HAVE BEEN MORE WRONG! (... about the recipe- I still can't quite take on the name. :) I took the challenge and I have made it four times because I liked it so much.

The 2010 November Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Simona of briciole. She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make pasta frolla for a crostata. She used her own experience as a source, as well as information from Pellegrino Artusi’s Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well.

First of all... if you are getting caught up on the fancy name thing like I was, lets just call this a "perfect" tart. There... now a tart is something you can make, right... or if you can't... you very soon will!!!
I was surprised at how simple the process was! As you can see in the above picture, I wasn't very carefull about rolling my crust out thin- I just wasn't careful in general, but I found I kind of liked the thicker crust- it was almost like a cookie. I think the lemon zest makes a huge difference! It adds such a great balance of flavor- especially when you have a really sweet fillling.

*For my fillings, I used my homemade blackberry jam, frozen blackberries, lemon juice, and a pinch of sugar. And for the apple tarts, I used an amazing pie filling recipe my friend shared. We put up over 20 quarts of it. I'll be sharing that recipe soon- it was delicious! But you can do just about anything... fruit, jam preserves, cheesecake with fresh fruit, mousse, pudding, or any kind of pie filling. Pretty much you can't go wrong!

*I also wanted to add that when I made this the first time, I didn't have a tart pan with a removable bottom. I just used a cake pan. It didn't come out very well, but it cooked up fine. I liked the recipe so much, though, that I came across one at the local "Salvation Army" store and I bought it for a buck. :) I figured I would definitely be making this one again. It worked perfectly, too. :)

Pasta Frolla for a Crostata by Simona of briciole
  • 1/2 C. minus 1 TBSP. superfine sugar or a scant 3/4 C. of powdered sugar.
  • 1 3/4 C. flour
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 stick cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • grated zest of half a lemon
  • 1 large egg and 1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten in a small bowl.

1. Whisk together sugar, flour, and salt in a bowl.

2. Cut the butter into the flour mixture using a fork, fingers, or a pastry cutter until the mixture has the consistency of coarse crumbs.

3. Beat together eggs lightly. Make a well in the center of the mounded flour and butter mixture and pour the beaten eggs into it (reserve about a teaspoon of the egg mixture for glazing purposes later on)

4. Sprinkle lemon zest over top. Use a fork to incorporate the liquid into the solid ingredients, and then use your fingers.

5. Knead lightly just until the dough come together in a ball. Shape the dough into a flat disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Place the dough in the refrigerator and chill for at least two hours. You may refrigerate the dough over night.

6. Take out of the fridge and unwrap. Cut away 1/4 of the dough and reserve to make the lattice top of the crostata. Refrigerate this dough while you work on the tart base. On top of the plastic wrap, roll out the dough into a circle about 1/8th inch thick. Center the dough over the pan and press down. Poke wholes into the base of the dough with a fork. Trim away excess dough around the side.

7. Spread what ever filling you want into the middle and bake for about 25 minutes at 350 F or until the crust is golden brown. If you need to fill it after the crust is cooked, blind bake the crust. To do this, place parchment paper or aluminum foil over the crust and fill the tart with pie weights ( or just use dried beans). Then cool and fill the tart with what ever you want.

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Monday, November 22, 2010

Sugarless Apple Pie

Happy day! An amazing SUGARLESS pie- just in time for the Thanksgiving feast! (Amazingly, it can be done! :) My friend brought this over for dessert and it won both my husband and I over. It is excellent. She added dried cranberries to the mix, and that was definitely my favorite part! It added texture, color, and a fun sweet/tart flavor that I loved! Oh- and did I mention the whole wheat crust? How cool it that?! My husband really liked it. Anyway- I was so happy she shared her fun recipe. (Don't you love her fun pie dish?) Hope you enjoy! Happy Thanksgiving!!! (And BIG THANKS Crystal!)

Sugarless Apple Pie (From Crystal Willock)
Preheat: 425

2 cup white flour
2 cup wholewheat flour
1 cup oil
1 cup ice water

Sift flour and salt together.
Beat oil and ice water together until emulsified.
Pour over flour all at once
Toss to mix lightly, form into a ball
Divide in half and roll out each half between wax paper
Fill pie pan

Pie Filling:
6 oz Frozen Unsweetened Apple Juice
1Tbs. Cinnamon
2 Tbs. Cornstarch
1 Tbs. Butter
1 Tbs. Vanilla Extract
6 medium granny smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced.
½-1 cup dried cranberries (or other dried fruit)

Combine apple juice and cornstarch in large sauce pan, stirring well.
Cook over medium heat until thick and bubbly. STIR OFTEN!
Stir in butter, cinnamon, and vanilla.
Add apples, tossing well to coat.
Add Cranberries, stir all together and cook about 3 minuets.
Fill pastry-lined pie pan.
Cover with top crust
Cut pretty pattern for steam to escape

Cook about 30-45 minutes.
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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Banana Bread Minis

It is hard to compete with Doug's banana bread, but I came across this recipe in my Kraft magazine, and I thought I would give it a shot. I was a little nervous that it would take on that "cake-mix" and "artificial-pudding" flavor, but surprisingly, it didn't. So this is a nice one it you are in a hurry, but you are still wanting something nice and homemade. I liked the nuts... which is definitely an acquired taste. I can so remember as a kid just begging my mom not to ruin it with nuts. :)

Banana Bread Minis (
(This makes 4 mini loaves.)
1 pkg. (2-layer size) yellow cake mix
1 pkg. (3.4 oz.) JELL-O Banana Cream Flavor Instant Pudding
4 eggs
1 cup water
1/4 cup oil
1 cup mashed fully ripe bananas (about 3)
1/2 cup chopped PLANTERS Walnuts

HEAT oven to 350ºF.
BEAT first 5 ingredients in large bowl with mixer 2 min. or until well blended. Add bananas and nuts; mix just until blended.
POUR into 5 foil mini loaf pans sprayed with cooking spray.
BAKE 40 min. or until toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool completely.
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Monday, November 15, 2010

Spaghetti Squash in the Microwave

I was so excited to find out how easy it is to cook squash in the microwave! I have baked those things for hours in the oven and still not gotten them cooked through, so I just think it is exciting that you can fully cook them in 12 minutes or less and get possibly better results! Talk about a time saver and a great, healthy side dish! I have tried this with other squash too like acorn and butternut, and it works wonderfully. If they are a little smaller, you won't need to cook them quite as long.

Spaghetti Squash in the Microwave
Microwave squash for 1 minute just to soften a bit, then cut it in half. Use a spoon the scrape out the seeds and a few of the sticky strands. Place it cut side down in a mocrowave safe dish. Pour in about 1/2 cup of water, and microwave for about 12 minutes, or until soft. Using a spoon or fork, pull the "meat" from the sides, and serve warm.

*We actually just used this as a replacement of our noodles in our spaghetti- it was so yummy! We just put sauce over top and sprinkled it with cheese- it was excellent. My husband put a little garlic powder, salt, butter, and Parmesan in his and it was delicious!
My kids were big fans! :)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Lyd's Ulitimate Chili

Well... it happened... brace yourself... I won first place at the bi-ward chili cook-off! :) No, really, you don't know how exciting this is. I actually WON something! I seriously never win, and I have to admit, it felt great! I was pretty tickled with myself. I won a golden bowl of chili... I'm not even making that up! I need to take a picture. I was excited for this challenge from the beginning. I already love chili, so I tried to think of what to add that would make me love it even more. I will be the first to admit that this is kind of a crazy modge-podge of ingredients... I was really getting creative, but I think it worked! This was officially the very last bowl... I finally remembered to take a picture, and I had smothered it is cheese and sour cream, so I don't know if this is the most authentic bowl, but I do know it was darn good! :) You should be pretty grateful that I'm sharing my secret recipe! :)

Lyd's Prize Winning Ultimate Chili
1st Place at the Chili Cook-Off

1 lb spicy sausage (or regular depending on taste preference)
2 green bell peppers, chopped
1 onion, diced
3 celery stalks
1/2 packaged pepperoni, sliced (about 20)
1/2 South Carolina BBQ Pork Roast, shredded (with all the drippings- that was really important to the flavor and consistency.)
1 small can diced green chilies (mild)
2 Mexican Fiesta diced tomatoes
1-2 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1 T chili powder
pinch of cayenne
1 packet dry chili seasoning (Was that cheating? I hope not. :)
1 T Worcestershire
1/2 cup salsa
3 bags beans, soaked and cooked (I used black, kidney, and black eyed pea because that is what I had, but any will work.)
1-2 8oz. can tomato sauce (might add more sauce or a little water if it is too thick)
1 T brown sugar

Cook up your sausage, drain most of the grease, and return to pan. Add bell pepper, onion, and celery and cook until tender, stiring occasionally. Add pepperoni and shredded pork and heat through. Stir in all remaining ingredients until fully heated and incorporated. Simmer on medium-low heat until ready to serve. Top with sour cream and cheese.

A Bit About the Beans: I soaked the beans in two big bowls over night. I mixed them all together, but I wouldn't do that next time, because the black beans just kind of took over the color and turned them all gray. :) It wasn't a big deal though. Like I said, I soaked them over night, and then I cooked them in the crockpot with about 1-2 inches of water above beans on high for about 4-6 hours or low for about 6-8 hours. I made sure they were soft enough, then I drained and rinse the really well. Then they are ready to toss in your chili. I actually didn't end up using all of them, but if you are making a huge batch- do it! I set about 2-3 cups of beans aside and made another meal with it, but I did use most of them.
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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Creamy Beef & Mushrooms with Noodles

This is kind of a fun "zesty" twist on typical beef stroganoff. It's fun to throw a few extra veggies in there, too! I cut corners a bit and used some of my left-over BBQ pork, so I didn't have to cook the meat and I saved myself a few steps. You've gotta love those time savers.

Creamy Beef & Mushrooms with Noodles (
1 Tbsp. canola oil, divided
1 lb. boneless beef sirloin steak (3/4 inch thick), cut into strips
3 cups yolk-free whole wheat egg noodles, uncooked
1/4 cup KRAFT Light Zesty Italian Dressing
2 onions, chopped
1/2 lb. fresh mushrooms, sliced
3 Tbsp. minced garlic
3 Tbsp. paprika
3/4 cup fat-free reduced-sodium beef broth
1 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup BREAKSTONE'S Reduced Fat or KNUDSEN Light Sour Cream
1 small tomato, chopped

HEAT 1-1/2 tsp. oil in large nonstick skillet on medium-high heat. Add half the meat; cook and stir 1 to 2 min. or until evenly browned. Transfer to bowl. Repeat with remaining oil and meat.
COOK noodles as directed on package, omitting salt. Meanwhile, heat Italian dressing in same skillet on medium heat. Add next 4 ingredients; cook 12 min. or until vegetables are crisp-tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in broth and peas; simmer 2 min. or just until peas are tender. Add meat; cook 1 to 2 min. or until heated through, stirring occasionally. Stir in sour cream until well blended.
DRAIN noodles. Serve topped with meat mixture and tomatoes.

Kraft Kitchens Tips
Garnish with chopped fresh parsley just before serving.
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Friday, November 5, 2010

Pumpkin Pancakes

I had some extra pumpkin and since pretty much all I make for breakfast, if we're not having cereal, is pancakes (or so it would seem lately) I thought it would be festive to combine the two. These are yummy and easy to make! Thanks Aunt Martha! :)

Pumpkin Pancakes (Martha Stewart)
For a spiced breakfast treat, whisk 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour; 2 tablespoons sugar; 2 teaspoons baking powder; 1/2 teaspoon each cinnamon, ground ginger, and salt; 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg; and a pinch of ground cloves. In a separate bowl, stir together 1 cup milk, 6 tablespoons canned pumpkin puree, 2 tablespoons melted butter, and 1 egg; fold mixture into dry ingredients. Melt some butter in a skillet over medium heat; pour in 1/4 cup batter for each pancake. Cook pancakes about 3 minutes per side; serve with butter and syrup. Makes 8 to 10.
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