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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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Alton Brown's Yeast Doughnuts with Glaze

Halloween is so much fun! I think in my mind I have turned it into somewhat of a "Thanksgiving/Feast" holiday, because to me, it is all about the food. :) Our little family has a tradition of homemade chili, doughnuts, and root-beer. This year, I could not find dry-ice anywhere! I went to three different grocery stores hunting for it and no luck. I was pretty bummed, because it is my favorite! But, it did allow me to focus a little more closely on the "homemade doughnuts." I've been looking for a good recipe for a while, and my sister-in-law, Amy from Edible Experiments, just completed a Daring Baker recipe challenge and posted it just in time. I gave this Alton Brown recipe a try and I was delighted with the results. I never would have thought of throwing nutmeg in there! I thought it was a yummy yummy doughnut. It was a tiny bit technical, but worth the TLC!!! Also... I decided I could easily live on the icing/glaze. Whipping Cream and powdered sugar... are you kidding me?! It is so stinking good that I sat there licking my fingers... then licking the bowl... all in front of company. I just couldn't help myself! :)

ALTON BROWN’S YEAST DOUGHNUTS (best doughnuts ever!!!)

These doughnuts are more like the glazed doughnuts you buy at the store. They are so light and fluffy and yummy! They are some of the best doughnuts you will ever eat! Gobble them down fresh! They don’t store very well. If you have to store them, put them in an air tight container. I left mine out on the counter and they got stale really fast. But you can keep the dough in the fridge for up to 4 days before rolling it out and cooking it. This makes 20-25 doughnuts and doughnut holes, depending on size. (I just wanted to say that I made my dough the night before to save time. I wasn't sure what point I was supposed to refrigerate, but I put the unrisen dough in the well-oiled bowl and put plastic wrap over the top and hoped for the best. The next day it had doubled in size perfectly just sitting in the fridge, and it saved me time that day! It worked out really well- I did have to give it a little time to get to room temperature though.)


  • 1-1/2 C. milk or buttermilk
  • 1/3 C butter
  • 4-1/2 tsp. active dry yeast (2 pkgs.)
  • 1/3 C. warm water
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 C. white sugar
  • 1-1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. grated/ground nutmeg
  • 4-2/3 C. all purpose flour
  • Oil for frying


  1. Place the milk in a medium saucepan and heat over medium heat just until warm enough to melt the butter.Or just melt butter in the microwave in a bowl. (Make sure the butter is melted well so that it incorporates well into the batter.) Place the butter in a bowl and pour warmed milk over. Set aside.
  2. In another small bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water and let dissolve for 5 minutes. It should get foamy. After 5 minutes, pour the yeast mixture into the large bowl of a stand mixer and add the milk/butter mixture, first making sure the milk/butter mixture has cooled to lukewarm.
  3. Add the eggs, sugar, salt, nutmeg, and half of the flour. Using the paddle attachment of your mixer (if you have one), combine the ingredients on low speed until flour is incorporated and then turn the speed up to medium and beat until well combined.
  4. Add the remaining flour, combining on low speed at first, and then increase the speed to medium and beat well.
  5. Change to the dough hook attachment of the mixer and beat on medium speed until the dough pulls away from the bowl and becomes smooth, approximately 3 to 4 minutes. If you do not have a dough hook/stand mixer – knead until the dough is smooth and not sticky. (The dough will be very sticky, so resist the urge to add flour. It is supposed to be very sticky!)
  6. Transfer to a well-oiled bowl, cover, and let rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size. I found it easiest to pour the dough into the bowl. It is so sticky and difficult to scoop or pick up.
  7. On a well-floured surface, roll out dough to 3/8-inch (9 mm)thick. (Make sure the surface really is well-floured otherwise your doughnuts will stick to the counter).
  8. Cut out dough using a 2 1/2-inch (65 mm) doughnut cutter or pastry ring or drinking glass and using a 7/8-inch (22 mm) ring for the center whole ( I used the coupler of a decorating tip). Set on floured baking sheet, cover lightly with a tea towel, and let rise for 30 more minutes.
  9. Preheat the oil in a deep fryer or Dutch oven to 365 °F/185°C.
  10. Gently place the doughnuts into the oil, 3 to 4 at a time. Cook for 1 minute per side or until golden brown (my doughnuts only took about 30 seconds on each side at this temperature). You will know if the oil is too hot if it burns the outside, but leaves the inside doughy. It is too cold if the dough absorbs a lot of oil and comes out extremely greasy.
  11. Transfer to a cooling rack placed in baking pan. Allow to cool for 15 to 20 minutes prior to glazing, if desired. Use the same glaze as on the pumpkin doughnut recipe above. They are also tasty dipped in sugar or with any other kinds or frosting and fillings. Get creative!!!
Powdered Sugar Glaze:
  • 2 C. powdered sugar
  • 4 TBSP whipping cream + more if needed
To make the glaze (can be made up to 3 hours ahead):
  1. Whisk powdered sugar and 4 tablespoons whipping cream to blend. Whisk in additional cream, 1 teaspoon at a time, to form medium thick glaze.
  2. Add doughnut holes to bowl of spiced sugar and toss to coat.
  3. Spread doughnuts on 1 side with powdered sugar glaze.
  4. Arrange doughnuts, glazed side up, on racks. Let stand until glaze sets, at least 30 minutes.
  5. For a yummy variation, sprinkle some cinnamon and nutmeg into the glaze like I did in this recipe.
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