Oct 28, 2010

Multigrain Bread

multigrain bread 2
I love making my own bread and this one has been on my list to try for a long time now.  One of the main reasons that I love this recipe is that instead of buying a bunch of different flours of various grain types – you buy a hot cereal blend of several grains and incorporate it into the bread.  The mix that I used contained wheat, rye, triticale, oats, oat bran, barley, rice and flaxseed.   You can also add pumpkin or sunflower seeds to this mix – but I prefer my bread to not have seeds throughout – so I left them out.   This not only makes a great PB&J sandwich – you can pretty much use it for anything.  And you can feel better knowing that you are getting more grains and fiber in your diet – and you have complete control over all of the ingredients. 
This recipe makes 2 loaves – I sliced them both and froze them – they defrost super quick and taste great!  Enjoy!
multigrain bread 1

Ingredients

  • 6 1/4 (1 1/4 cups) ounces 7-grain hot cereal mix
  • 2 1/2 cups boiling water
  • 15 ounces (3 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting work surface
  • 7 1/2 ounces (1 1/2 cups) whole wheat flour
  • 4 Tbsp. honey
  • 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 1/2 tsp. instant yeast
  • 1 Tbsp. table salt
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds (optional)
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats

Directions

1. Place cereal mix in bowl of standing mixer and pour boiling water over it, let stand, stirring occasionally, until mixture cools to 100 degrees and resembles thick porridge, about 1 hour.

2. Whisk together all-purpose and wheat flours in medium bowl.

3. Once grain mixture has cooled, add honey, melted butter, and yeast and stir to combine.

4. Attach bowl to stand mixer fitted with dough hook. With mixer running on low speed, add flours, 1/2 cup at a time, and knead until dough forms ball, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let dough rest 20 minutes.

5. Add salt and knead on medium-low speed until dough clears sides of bowl, 3 to 4 minutes, add more flour if needed, and continue to knead dough for 5 more minutes.

6. Add seeds (if using) and knead for another 15 seconds. Transfer dough to floured work surface and knead by hand until seeds are dispersed evenly and dough forms smooth, taut ball.

7. Place dough into large bowl sprayed with oil, cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise until doubled, 45 to 60 minutes.

8. Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 375 degrees.  Spray two 9 by 5-inch loaf pans with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.

9. Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface and pat into 12 by 9-inch rectangle; cut dough in half crosswise with a bench scraper.  Shape into loaves and coat with oats. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until almost doubled in size, 30 to 40 minutes.

10. Bake until internal temperature registers 200 degrees on instant-read thermometer, 35 to 40 minutes. Remove loaves from pans and cool on wire rack before slicing, about 3 hours.

Source: Cook’s Illustrated

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Oct 27, 2010

Daring Bakers: Apple Cider Doughnuts

apple cider donuts 1

The October 2010 Daring Bakers challenge was hosted by Lori of Butter Me Up. Lori chose to challenge DBers to make doughnuts. She used several sources for her recipes including Alton Brown, Nancy Silverton, Kate Neumann and Epicurious.

I decided to try my hand at a recipe I’ve been dying to make forever – apple cider doughnuts from Smitten Kitchen.  And this this is the perfect time of year to make these – so the choice was easy.  

I’m actually not a huge fan of doughnuts – although they are delicious – I really try to not eat them (mostly because they are so not good for you) – and if I do – there are really only two kinds that I like the chocolate glazed and the peanut.  And of course if I’m out somewhere in the fall and there are fresh apple cider doughnuts – I may be tempted to try one.

First - I cut out the dough using a 3 1/2 inch round circle cutter and a 1 inch round cutter for the holes.

apple cider donuts 2

The oil – I used a mix of canola oil and Crisco – must be 350 degrees F for this to work properly.

apple cider donuts 3

One minute on each side – and they are done!

apple cider donuts 6

Well, not done until coated win cinnamon sugar….

apple cider donuts 4

apple cider donuts 5

And the best part (for taste testing purposes) are the doughnut holes!

apple cider donuts 7

They were perfectly soft and crisp – with a faint hint of apple cider. 

apple cider donuts 8

apple cider donuts 9

They were the best when freshly made – perfectly cooked.

apple cider donuts 10

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup apple cider
  • 1 3/4 cups flour, plus additional for the work surface
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • pinch ground nutmeg
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • Vegetable oil or shortening, for frying

Toppings (optional)

  • Glaze (1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar + 1 tablespoons apple cider)
  • Cinnamon sugar (1/2 cup granulated sugar + 2 tsp. cinnamon)

Directions

1. In a saucepan over medium or medium-low heat, gently reduce the apple cider to about 2 tablespoons, about 15 minutes. Set aside to cool.

2. Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and soda, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg. Set aside.

3. Using an electric mixer on medium speed  with the paddle attachment beat the butter and granulated sugar until the mixture is smooth.

4. Add the egg and continue to beat until completely incorporated.

5. Reduce the speed to low and gradually add the reduced apple cider and the buttermilk, mixing just until combined.

6. Add the flour mixture and continue to mix just until the dough comes together.

7. Line two baking sheets with parchment or wax paper and sprinkle them generously with flour. Turn the dough onto one of the sheets and sprinkle the top with flour. Flatten the dough with your hands until it is about 1/2 inch thick. Use more flour if the dough is still wet. Transfer the dough to the freezer until it is slightly hardened, about 20 minutes.

8. Pull the dough out of the freezer. Using a 3-inch or 3 1/2-inch doughnut cutter — or a 3 1/2-inch round cutter for the outer shape and a 1-inch round cutter for the hole — cut out doughnut shapes.

9. Place the cut doughnuts and doughnut holes onto the second sheet pan. Refrigerate the doughnuts for 20 to 30 minutes.

10. Add enough oil or shortening to a deep-sided pan to measure a depth of about 3 inches. Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan and heat over medium heat until the oil reaches 350° F. Have ready a plate lined with several thicknesses of paper towels.

11. Make your toppings (if using): Make the glaze by whisking together the confectioners’ sugar and the cider until the mixture is smooth; make the cinnamon sugar by mixing the two together. Set aside.

12. To fry and top the doughnuts: Carefully add a few doughnuts to the oil and fry until golden brown, about 60 seconds. Turn the doughnuts over and fry until the other side is golden, 30 to 60 seconds.

13. Drain on paper towels for a minute after the doughnuts are fried. Dip the top of the warm doughnuts into the glaze or cinnamon sugar mixture (if using) and serve immediately.

Source: Smitten Kitchen

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Oct 26, 2010

Roasted Vegetable Minestrone

Since the colder weather is here to stay – it is time for me to make soup!  This is a great end of summer/beginning of fall recipe since it uses some produce you can still find at the farmers market.  I love the addition of roasted squash – it really brings another dimension of flavor to the soup.  This soup was healthy, fulfilling and delicious – and you really can’t ask for anything better than that!
Whenever I make soup with pasta – I always cook the pasta separate and add it to each bowl – that way it doesn’t absorb too much liquid and get soggy.   It also helps with the leftovers too.  Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 1 whole Zucchini, Halved, Cut Into Strips, Then Cubed
  • 1 whole Summer Squash, Halved, Cut Into Strips, Then Cubed
  • 2 Tbsp. Olive Oil, divided
  • Kosher Salt, to taste
  • 1 whole Carrot, Washed, peeled and Sliced 
  • 1/2 medium Onion, Diced
  • 2 stalks Celery, Sliced
  • 4 cups low Sodium Chicken Broth
  • 1 can (15 oz.) Cannelini Beans, Rinsed
  • 1/2 cup cut Green Beans, Fresh Or Frozen
  • 1 cup Medium Or Small Pasta Shells, cooked al dente according to package directions
  • 1 can (14.5) diced tomatoes with juice
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • 1/8 tsp. turmeric
  • Parmesan Cheese, shaved

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees.

2. Toss cubed zucchini and squash in a bowl with 1 Tbsp. olive oil and a sprinkling of kosher salt. Arrange onto a sheet pan and roast in the hot oven for 5 to 10 minutes, or until brown and black parts begin to show. Remove from oven and set aside.

3. In a heavy pot, heat additional tablespoon olive oil over medium heat.

4. Add carrots, onions, and celery and stir to cook for 3 minutes. Pour in broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for ten minutes.

5. Add cannelini beans and green beans. Cook on low for five minutes.

6. Add canned tomatoes, stir, and cook for an additional five minutes on low heat. Check for seasonings, adding salt, pepper, and turmeric.

7. Add roasted vegetables and stir.  Simmer for a few minutes before serving.

8. Portion noodles into bowls and ladle soup on top. Serve with parmesan shavings on top.

Source: adapted from the Pioneer Woman

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Oct 25, 2010

Chicken Chimichangas

Growing up we used to always go to Chi Chi’s Mexican restaurant – my favorite item was always the fried ice cream – but I also remembering ordering the chimichangas.  They were essentially a fried burrito – served with refried beans and rice.  Well, this recipe is a knock-off – and even better they are baked an not fried.   Thank goodness, because this recipe had a lot of components and dirtied a lot of dishes – the last thing I needed was frying something too!   I don’t know if it was because I also made some mexican rice – but there was a point when making this recipe that I almost didn’t make the green chile sauce – since I was just wanting to eat the dinner and not make something else.  But I am so glad that I did – since it turned out to be my favorite part of the meal.  I’ll definitely be making these again – and next time I want to make the fried ice cream for dessert.  Smile 

p.s. If you are looking a my page through a reader or email – click over and check out my new site design!  I simplified the layout and added a new header that I made with some of my favorite food photos.  I feel like it represents ‘me’ more than the old template.

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 4 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 white onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced 
  • 1 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 small tomato, chopped, plus more for topping
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 cooked boneless, skinless chicken breasts or 2 cups cooked rotisserie chicken 
  • 1 15-ounce can refried beans
  • 4-6 10-inch flour tortillas
  • 1 cup shredded Monterey jack cheese, plus more for topping

Green chile sauce, for topping

  • 1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. canola oil
  • pinch each of chili powder, cumin, sugar and salt
  • 2 – 4 oz. cans diced green chiles
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

for serving

  • Shredded lettuce
  • salsa
  • Mexican rice
  • sour cream
  • refried beans

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

2. Melt the butter with 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a skillet; transfer to a small bowl and set aside.

3. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in the skillet. Add the onion, garlic and jalapeno and cook until soft, about 3 minutes.

4. Add the chili powder, cumin, cinnamon and 1 teaspoon salt; toast 30 seconds.

5.  Add the tomato and cilantro and cook until slightly dry, about 2 minutes.

6. Stir in the chicken and warm through. Remove from the heat.

7. Brush a rimmed baking sheet with some of the butter-oil mixture.

8. Spread 2 tablespoons refried beans down the center of each tortilla, leaving a 2-inch border on both ends. Top with 1 cup chicken mixture and 1/4 cup cheese. Fold in the ends and roll up.

9. Put the chimichangas seam-side down on the baking sheet; brush with the butter-oil mixture. Bake 8 to 10 minutes per side, brushing again after you flip.

10. Make the green chile sauce:  Saute 1/2 cup chopped onion and 2 chopped garlic cloves in a skillet with vegetable oil.  Add a pinch each of chili powder, cumin, sugar and salt; cook 30 seconds. Stir in two 4-ounce cans chopped green chiles (drained and rinsed); cook 2 minutes. Add 1 cup chicken broth and simmer until thickened, then puree in a food processor or blender. Stir in 1/4 cup chopped cilantro.

11. When chimichangas are done baking - top with the sauce, more cheese, lettuce and salsa. Serve with rice and the remaining beans.

Source: The Food Network Magazine

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Oct 22, 2010

Pumpkin Spice Latte

I’m actually not much of a coffee drinker – but sometimes I just really desperately need it to continue to function normally (I’m sure others out there know what I mean) – and when I do, it has to have flavoring, cream and sugar for me to drink it.  And whipped cream on top helps too!  :)
I know what you’re thinking – why should I make my own pumpkin spice latte when I can just go to Starbucks and buy it.  Well, not only will you save yourself over $4 for the drink – it is really easy to whip up and a very close replica of it and drink this all year ‘round if you want. 
So if you have some pumpkin puree leftover from other baking endeavors – whip one of these up for yourself – you will not be disappointed.  Enjoy! 

Ingredients

  • 2 cups milk (I used soymilk)
  • 2 Tbsp. canned pumpkin
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice, plus additional for sprinkling
  • 1/4 cup of espresso or 1/2 cup of strong brewed coffee
  • whipped cream (optional)

Directions

1. In a saucepan combine milk, pumpkin and sugar and cook on medium heat, stirring, until steaming.

2. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla and spice and whisk the mixture really well with a wire whisk.

3. Pour into two large mugs. And add the espresso or coffee on top.

4. Top with whipped cream and sprinkle additional pumpkin pie spice on top.

Source: The Kitchn

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Oct 21, 2010

Ultimate Nachos

It’s football season – and this is perfect game-day food.  I’m not a huge football watcher – although I am a fair weather fan – unfortunately I don’t have anything to be a fan of – since I live in Buffalo, NY – and the Bills are not doing so hot right now.   Although, I do remember the very first Bills game that I ever watched – it was the very first time they were in the Superbowl (the one where they almost won) before they went four years in a row and lost them all! 
Needless to say, Buffalonians are a resilient bunch – and they still support their team, no matter how bad they are at the moment.  So whatever team you may be cheering on and no matter if they are winning or losing – these nachos will make you feel good.  There is a good bit of spice to them – so its the perfect kick to go with a cold beer.   Enjoy!   

Ingredients

Salsa

  • 1/2 small red onion
  • 1/4 packed fresh cilantro
  • 1 Tbsp. lime juice
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 Tbsp. pickled jalapenos
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes, drained

Refried beans

  • 1/2 cup canned refried beans
  • 1/4 cup shredded pepper Jack cheese
  • 1 Tbsp. pickled jalapenos

Spicy Beef

  • 2 tsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 2 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 tsp. brown sugar
  • 1 medium canned chipotle chile, plus 1 Tbsp. adobo sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tsp. lime juice

Assembly

  • Tortilla chips
  • 4 cups Pepper Jack cheese
  • jalapeno chilies, sliced
  • diced avocado
  • fresh chopped cilantro

Directions

1. For the salsa: Combine onion, cilantro, lime juice, garlic, jalapeno and slat in a food processor, until roughly chopped, about 5 pulses.  Add tomatoes and pulse for about two more seconds.  Drain briefly and set aside.  Wipe out processor bowl.

2. For the beans: Combine all ingredients in the food processor until smooth.  Transfer to a bowl and cover.

3. For the beef: Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat until shimmering. 

4. Cook the onion, stirring occasionally until softened, about 4 minutes.  Add in the garlic and dried spices and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

5. Add the beef and cook, breaking up meat with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink – about 5 minutes. 

6. Add the tomato paste, sugar, chilie and adobo and cook for 1 minute longer. 

7. Add the water and cook over medium-low, stirring occasionally, until mixture is almost dry – about 5-7 minutes.

8.  Stir in lime juice into beef.

9. To assemble: Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Spread the chips on a single layer on a large oven-safe platter or baking dish.  Spread half of the bean mixture over the chips, then half of the beef mixture, top with 2 cups cheese and half of jalapenos.  Repeat with another layer of chips, then beans, beef, cheese and jalapenos.  Bake until cheese is melted – about 12-14 minutes.  Top with salsa, avocado and cilantro.

Source: America’s Test Kitchen – Best-ever recipes, 2010

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Oct 20, 2010

Chocolate Crème Cupcakes

These are chocolate crème filled cupcakes a.k.a look-a-like Hostess Cupcake a.k.a. Faustess Cupcakes.  I’ve had this recipe saved for a while now and finally decided to make them for my husband to give away.  :)  But actually I did get to try one – I like to at least try everything I make – because otherwise I wouldn’t know if I liked it.   I only blog about recipes that I want to remember in the future – and well – these are one of them.  The cake was super moist and delicious and the chocolate ganache was perfect – not too hard but not too soft either.   The marshmallow filling was used both inside the cupcake and to make the squiggly line on top.   I can’t really say how they compare to Hostess – since I could not tell you the last time I had a real Hostess cupcake (maybe 15-20 years ago?!) – but they were a delicious, fulfilling dessert – and that is all that really matters anyway!  Enjoy!   

Ingredients

cupcakes (makes 12)

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 Tbsp. instant espresso
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup sour cream (I subbed plain Greek yogurt)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

filling

  • 3 Tbsp. water
  • 3/4 tsp. unflavored gelatin
  • 4 Tbsp (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • pinch salt
  • 1 1/4 cups marshmallow creme (i.e. Fluff)

glaze

  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter

Directions

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees F.

2. Grease and flour 12-cup muffin tin.

3. Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl.

4. In a large bowl, combine the water, cocoa, chocolate chips, and espresso, until smooth.  Add in sugar, sour cream (or yogurt), oil, eggs, and vanilla and mix until combined.

5. Whisk in flour mixture just until incorporated. 

6. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups.  Bake for 18-22 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just a few dry crumbs.  Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then cool completely on a wire rack.

7. To make filling. Combine water and gelatin in a large bowl and let sit until softened, about 5 minutes.  Microwave for about 30 seconds, until mixture bubbles around edges and gelatin dissolves.  Stir in butter, vanilla and salt until combined. 

8. Let mixture cool until warm to the touch and mix in marshmallow crème until smooth.  Refrigerate until set – about 30-40 minutes. 

9. Once set, transfer 1/3 cup to a pastry bag fitted with a small, plain tip. Reserve remaining for filling cupcakes.

10. To assemble cupcakes.  Microwave chocolate and butter in a small bowl, stirring occasionally, until smooth – about 30 seconds.  Cool to room temperature – about 10 minutes.

11. Insert the tip of a paring knife at a 45 degree angle about 1/4 inch from the edge of the cupcake.  Cutout and remove the cake cone.

12. Cut off all but the top 1/4 inch of the cake cone, leaving a circular disc of cake. Discard (eat) the bottom of the cone.

13. Using a spoon, fill each cupcake with the marshmallow mixture and then top with the reserved cake top.

14. Spread the glaze over the top of the cupcake.  Once the glaze has set – pipe on a curlicue using the reserved marshmallow filling.

Source: Cook’s Country, Feb./March 2010

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Oct 19, 2010

Mexican rice

This recipe is the closest replica to Mexican rice served at real Mexican restaurants.  It is definitely not just rice and dried seasonings mixed together (no more .99 cent high-sodium mexican rice in a box for me!).    I love that it is finished in the oven, and I can just slide my pan from the stove to the oven – you just have to remember not to grab the handle when you bring it back out!  ;) 
The addition of the fresh cilantro and squeeze of lime juice at the end – just bring this dish over the top!  

Ingredients

  • 1 large ripe tomato, cored and quartered
  • 1/2 medium onion, peeled and trimmed
  • 1 cup long, grain white rice
  • 2 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and minced (optional)
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tsp. tomato paste
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 minced fresh cilantro
  • lime wedges, for serving

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Process tomatoes and onions in the food processor until smooth and thoroughly pureed, about 15 seconds, scraping down the bowl if necessary.

3. Transfer the mixture a liquid measuring cup; you should have 1 cup (if necessary, spoon off excess or add water so that the volume equals 1 cups).  

4. Place the rice in a large fine mesh strainer and rinse under cold running water until the water runs clear, about 1 1/2 minutes.  Shake rice vigorously in strainer to remove all excess water.

5. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed oven-safe straight-sided sauté pan with a tight-fitting lid over medium-high heat, 1 to 2 minutes. 

6. Add the rice and fry, stirring frequently, until it is golden and translucent, 6 to 8 minutes. 

7. Reduce the heat to medium; add the garlic and minced jalapenos; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 1/2 minutes. 

8. Stir in pureed tomatoes and onions, chicken broth, tomato paste and salt; increase heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. 

9. Cover the pan an transfer to the oven; bake until the liquid is absorbed and rice is tender, 30 to 35 minutes, stirring well after 15 minutes.

10. Stir in cilantro and serve with lime wedges. 

Source: Annie’s Eats, originally from Cook’s Illustrated

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Oct 18, 2010

Concord Grape Jam

 
With my excessive amounts of Concord grapes – I knew I had to make the classic – Concord grape jam.  I am starting to feel like a canning expert – in addition to this corn salsa, I also canned peaches and tomatoes this year!  I’m not going to lie – this was a lot of work – since in addition to skinning and cooking the grapes – you have to cook everything with sugar to make it a ‘jelly’ consistency – which seemed to take longer than I thought it would.  In the midst of this – I also ran out of sugar – and thankfully I have a wonderful husband who ran out to the corner store to get me more at a moments notice.  :)
 
P.S. Grape jam makes the perfect peanut butter and jelly sandwich (if you don’t believe me you have to try it for yourself)!
Ingredients
  • 3 1/2 pounds Concord grapes (approx. 8 cups)
  • 2 cups water
  • 4 1/2 cups sugar
Directions
1. Wash and stem grapes and measure out 8 cups.  Remove skins from half of the grapes.
2. In a large kettle, combine the skinned and unskinned grapes.  Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, until very soft.
3. Press grapes through a sieve and discard seeds and cooked skins. 
4. Return 3 cups of strained pulp to the kettle and add in reserved grape skins and water. Cook, covered for 10 minutes over medium heat.
5. Uncover and mix in sugar. 
6. Bring mixture to a full rolling boil, stirring often. Continue to cook for 18-24 minutes, or until jam sheets off a metal spoon (reaches 220 degrees F).
7. Remove from heat and skim off any foam that may have formed.
8. Immediately ladle into hot, sterilized half-pint jars (this recipe fills 6 half-pint jars), leaving 1/4 inch headspace.  Wipe jar rims and adjust lids. Process in a boiling water canner for 5 minutes.  Remove jars from canner and cool on wire racks.
Source: You Can Can
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Oct 14, 2010

Concord Grape Muffins

concord grapes
My family has a problem – we cannot pass up a deal.  We recently went to a local  “Grape Festival” – which was super lame and there were no grapes for sale!?!  So on our way home we were determined to find some local Concord grapes, which are in season now – and are only found for a short window of time.  So when we asked the man at this roadside farm stand we passed how much it cost for the large bushel of grapes – and he said “$10” – we were SOLD!     This above photo may not look too imitating – but we split this bushel between four people and I still ended up with 28 cups of Concord grapes, when all was said and done!  It didn’t help that I ended up with the basket and everything that was left for the sole reason of “Well, Christine – you like to cook – so you’ll figure out what to do with them”. 
If you’ve never had a Concord grape – you are really missing out.  They are a true grape flavor and are unbelievably delicious.  The problem is that there are little itty bitty seeds inside – so you have to either remove the skins and cook the pulp and strain out the seeds OR slice them in half and pick out the seeds.   Either way, they do require a bit of prep before you can use them.  Luckily I have experience, since I’ve been making grape pies for several years.  So in addition of two batches of grape pie filling (that I have in my freezer for Thanksgiving), I made several other goodies – since I was determined not to let a single grape go to waste.  And these muffins were the biggest surprise for me – they were super simple to make – and so delicious.  I cannot wait to make them again.     
Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 6 Tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 8 ounces halved and seeded concord grapes
  • 2 tsp. coarse sugar, for sprinkling tops

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 400º F. Line 12 standard size muffin cups with paper liners.

2. Combine flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk to combine.

3. Add butter and using a pastry blender, or your fingers, blend until it forms a sandy-looking mixture.

4. Pour in the milk and stir, using a wooden spoon, until just mixed and there are no visible traces of flour.

5. Gently fold in the grapes. Spoon into the prepared muffin tins and sprinkle tops with an even amounts of coarse sugar.

6. Bake 20 minutes, until tops are golden and a skewer inserted comes out clean (it's okay if there's grape jam on it). Remove from oven and let cool 10 minutes in the pan, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before serving.

Source: In Jennie’s Kitchen

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Oct 13, 2010

Bruchetta Chicken Pasta

Each week I carefully plan out our menu – which consists of items that I’ve already posted in my blog, some things that I haven’t posted yet, and items that appeal to me in blog posts throughout the week before.  As soon as I saw the title of this recipe I knew I would like it. What an ingenious idea – bruchetta & chicken & pasta – can you say healthy and delicious!  I also chose to add in some roasted eggplant – since it is one of my new favorite foods :)  Enjoy this – we really did!

Ingredients

  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into pieces
  • 1 box whole wheat spaghetti
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 3 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh oregano, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped, plus 1 Tbsp. for topping
  • parmesan cheese, cracked pepper & kosher salt
  • 1/2 eggplant, sliced

Directions

1. Marinate chicken in 1/2 cup (more or less as needed) balsamic vinegar at least 30 minutes.  Season sliced eggplant liberally with kosher salt in a colander and let sit for 30 minutes as well (once drained, rinse and squeeze out moisture between layers of paper towels). 

2. Cook pasta according to package directions, drain.

3. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in large skillet over medium high heat. Add chicken and cook until cooked all the way through, about 5-8 minutes. Remove from heat, transfer to plate.

4. Preheat broiler on high.  Roast eggplant under broiler for 5-8 minutes on each side, flipping once. 

5. In same skillet that chicken was cooked, heat remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium high heat. Sauté garlic until golden – about 1 minute.

6. Add tomatoes, 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar, and herbs. Heat until sauce is slightly reduced and tomatoes softened, about 2 minutes.

7. Add pasta and chicken to tomato mixture and heat until warmed, about 2-3 minutes, tossing/stirring to fully incorporate. Serve topped with fresh basil, parmesan and eggplant slices.

Source: Erin’s Food Files

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Oct 12, 2010

Crispy Parmesan Chicken Fingers

Who doesn’t love a crispy, crunchy chicken finger.  Coated in bread crumbs and shredded parmesan cheese – with easy, homemade tomato sauce – these are so easy and delicious.   I will not lie – I had some difficulty with pan frying these, with the coating coming off in the pan.  So make sure you don’t overcrowd and that your oil is good and hot when you are ready to cook them.  But, believe me, they are worth it in the end.   And don’t skip out on the tomato sauce – it was the perfect compliment!  Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup, plus 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh basil, chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup panko
  • 1 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1.5 lbs. chicken tenderloins

Directions

1. Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat until shimmering.  Add garlic and cook until fragrant (30 seconds). Stir in tomatoes and simmer until thickened, about 7 – 10 minutes.  Stir in basil and season with salt and pepper.  Cover and keep warm.

2. Spread flour in a shallow dish.  Beat eggs in a second shallow dish.  Combine cheese and panko in a third dish. 

3. Pat chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.  One at a time, dredge in flour, dip in eggs and coat with panko mixture.

4. Heat 1/4 cup oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat until shimmering.  Cook half of chicken until golden brown on each side and center reaches 170 degrees F.  Place on paper towel lined plate.  Repeat with remaining oil and chicken.  

5. Serve chicken with marinara sauce.

Source: Americas Test Kitchen 30-minute Suppers, Summer 2010

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Oct 11, 2010

Chocolate chip Scones

I know they look like chocolate chip cookies – not scones.  But trust me – they have the scone texture with the chocolately deliciousness of cookies.   And they were super-duper simple to make – you could not get any easier than this recipe.  You basically mix everything together and drop on a baking sheet (you can also form into a rectangle and cut into triangles to get your typical scone shape).  Either way – they were the perfect pick me up in the morning before a long day at the office – or whip them up to treat your coworkers to something extra special! :)

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups plus 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 Tbsp. butter, melted
  • Additional coarse sugar for sprinkling

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 375˚ F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. 

2. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl; stir to combine.  Toss in the chocolate chips and stir to blend. 

3. Add the heavy cream to the flour mixture, stirring just until a dough forms and the dry ingredients are incorporated.  Knead the dough very briefly with well floured hands to ensure even mixing.

4. Using a large dough scoop, drop rounds of dough onto the prepared baking sheet.  Brush lightly with melted butter and sprinkle with additional sugar.

5. Bake 15-20 minutes, until lightly browned.

Source: Annie’s Eats

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Oct 8, 2010

Carrot Cupcakes

These are definitely not carrot muffins – not with the mound of cream cheese frosting on top.   :)   But they are absolutely a delicious cupcake – the carrot cake is so flavorful – I was worried it would be bland with out the addition of many other flavorings that are typically in carrot cake – such as walnuts or pineapple.  But the carrot flavor really is the star of this cupcake.  They are also super moist and a great addition to any celebration you may have this autumn.  Enjoy!

Ingredients

for the cupcakes:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. grated nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 lb. (6-7 medium) carrots, peeled
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups canola oil

for the frosting:

  • 12 oz. cream cheese
  • 8 Tbsp. (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 3/4 - 4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 350° F.  Line two cupcake pans with paper liners.

2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt; whisk together and set aside.

3. In a food processor fitted with a shredding disk, shred the carrots (you should have about 3 cups).  Add the carrots to the bowl with the dry ingredients and set aside. 

4. Wipe out the bowl of the food processor and fit with the metal blade.  Process the sugars and eggs until frothy and thoroughly combined, about 20 seconds. 

5. With the machine running, add the oil in a steady stream through the feed tube.  Continue to process until the mixture is light in color and well emulsified, about 20 more seconds. 

6. Pour into the flour/carrot mixture.  Stir to combine until incorporated and no streaks of flour remain.

7. Scoop evenly into the prepared cupcake liners. 

8. Bake for about 20-24 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let cool in the pan at least 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

9. To make the frosting - in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment beat the cream cheese and butter on medium-high speed until well combined and smooth, about 2-3 minutes.  Mix in the vanilla extract.  Gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar until totally incorporated, increase the speed and then beat until smooth.  Frost cooled cupcakes as desired.

Source: Annie’s Eats

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Oct 7, 2010

Fish Tacos

Can you believe I have never had fish tacos before I made these?   I know – I can’t believe it either.   I had no idea what I was missing or how much I would enjoy them!   They were also so super easy to make – I had dinner done in no time at all.   I used cod for mine – but you can use any type of white fish that you like – halibut, tilapia, etc.  They are no only delicious – they are healthy too -  I’m really looking forward to making these again soon!

Ingredients

for the fish:

  • 2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 3 Tbsp. minced cilantro
  • 1/4 tsp. cumin
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb. white fish (halibut, cod, tilapia, etc.)
  • Salt

for the cilantro cream sauce:

  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1 Tbsp. cilantro, minced
  • 1/3 cup nonfat greek yogurt
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Pepper, to taste

for serving:

  • Cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • Green onions, chopped
  • Red cabbage, shredded
  • avocado slices
  • 6-inch flour tortillas

Directions

1. Combine the lime juice, 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, cilantro, cumin, and garlic in a shallow dish.  Whisk together until well blended.  Place the fish in the mixture, turning to coat.  Let marinate 15-30 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, prepare the cilantro cream sauce.  Combine the lime juice, cilantro, greek yogurt, garlic and pepper in a small bowl.  Mix until well blended.  Refrigerate until ready to use.

3. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. 

4. Place the fish in the pan and cook without disturbing for about 3 minutes.  Flip the fish and cook on the second side 2-3 minutes more.  (Cook until fish reaches 130 degrees)

5. Remove to a plate and season with salt and let rest for a few minutes.  Shred the fish into bite-sized pieces with two forks.

6. Assemble tacos on flour tortillas with shredded fish, cilantro cream sauce and toppings as desired.

Source: Annie’s Eats

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Oct 6, 2010

Eggplant Parmesan

I am so happy that I found my newfound love for eggplant.  That is definitely one huge advantage of having a food blog – I really find myself wanting to try things that are outside my “normal” comfort zone.  I’m not sure why I even thought that I didn’t like eggplant – my guess is that it wasn’t prepared correctly when I had it before and it was still bitter. 
Regardless – I knew I wanted to try my hand at the classic eggplant parmesan.  I expected to like it – but I was totally blow away.  Even when I was eating it for lunch again the next day – I still wanted more.  It was perfect in every way!   I can’t wait to make this again very soon!  Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 1 medium sized eggplant, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 4 slices white bread, torn into quarters or 2 cups of breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 2 cups tomato sauce
  • 1 cup part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 5 fresh basil leaves torn, for garnish

Directions

1. Toss half of eggplant slices and 1 teaspoon of kosher salt in large bowl until combined; transfer salted eggplant to large colander set over bowl. Repeat with remaining eggplant and kosher salt, placing second batch in colander on top of first. Let stand until eggplant releases about 1 tablespoon liquid, 30 to 45 minutes.

2. Arrange eggplant slices on triple layer paper towels; cover with another triple layer paper towels. Firmly press each slice to remove as much liquid as possible, then wipe off excess salt.

3. While eggplant is draining place rimmed baking sheet on oven rack, and heat oven to 425 degrees.

4. Pulse bread in food processor to fine, even crumbs, about fifteen 1-second pulses (you should have about 2 cups). Transfer crumbs to pie plate and stir in 1/2 cup Parmesan, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper; set aside.

5. Combine flour and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in large zipper-lock bag; shake to combine.

6. Beat eggs in second pie plate.

7. Place several eggplant slices in bag with flour; seal bag and shake to coat eggplant. Remove eggplant slices, shaking off excess flour, dip in eggs, let excess egg run off, then coat evenly with bread crumb mixture; set breaded slices on wire rack set over baking sheet. Repeat with remaining eggplant.

8. Remove preheated baking sheet from oven; add 3 tablespoons oil to the sheet, tilting to coat evenly with oil. Place breaded eggplant on sheet in a single layer; bake until eggplant is well browned and crisp, about 30 minutes, rotating baking sheet after 10 minutes, and flipping eggplant slices with wide spatula after 20 minutes. Do not turn off oven.

9.Spread 1 cup tomato sauce in bottom of 13 by 9-inch baking dish.  Layer eggplant slices, overlapping slices to fit; distribute 1 cup sauce over eggplant; sprinkle with mozzarella and 1/4 cup parmesan cheese. Bake until bubbling and cheese is browned, 13 to 15 minutes. Cool 10 minutes; scatter basil over top, and serve.

Source: Cooks Illustrated

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Oct 5, 2010

The Perfect Hamburger

I can’t believe I let summer pass by without posting about my favorite beef hamburger recipe.  This is my go-to recipe that I use to make a bunch of hamburgers that I keep in my freezer to make for a quick and easy dinner.  Since many people still grill outside well into fall (and you can make these on a grill pan or your broiler as well) – you can’t let this recipe pass you buy.   The texture and taste is improved so much by a few simple ingredients and steps – you will never just throw a bunch of beef into a round patty and slap it onto a grill again.  Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 1-2 slices white sandwich bread, crust removed and discarded, bread chopped into 1/4-inch pieces (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2 Tbsp. whole milk
  • 3/4 tsp. table salt
  • 3/4 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 garlic clove, minced 
  • 2 tsp. steak sauce, such as A-1
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef

Directions

1. Mash bread and milk in large bowl with fork until homogeneous. Stir in salt, pepper, garlic, and steak sauce.

2. Break up beef into small pieces over bread mixture. Using fork or hands, lightly mix together until mixture forms cohesive mass.

3. Divide meat into 4 to 6 equal portions. Form into a loose ball and then gently flatten into a 4 1/2 inch patty. Press center of patty down with fingertips until it is about 1/2 inch thick, creating a slight depression in each patty. Repeat with remaining portions of meat.

4. At this point – either freeze for future use or cook on a grill or stovetop.  

Source: Cooks Illustrated

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Oct 4, 2010

Light Brioche Burger Buns

I have posted a light wheat burger bun before – but I can’t help myself from trying out new bread recipes – and this one got such rave reviews on every food blog that I knew I had to try it.   It’s definitely a sturdy bun – so its perfect to use with anything from burgers to pulled pork.   I think the egg wash and the sesame seeds on top really give these rolls that wonderful crusty top.  
I think I’m going to start making a stash of these to keep in my freezer at all times – I mean, you never know when you might need them!  :)  Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 3 Tbsp. warm milk
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 tsp. instant yeast
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 cups bread flour
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened

for topping

  • 1 large egg beaten with 1 tbsp. water, for egg wash
  • Sesame seeds

Directions

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the milk, water, yeast, sugar, salt and egg.  Mix briefly to combine. 

2. Add the flours to the bowl, and mix until incorporated.  Mix in the butter.  Switch to the dough hook and knead on low speed for about 6-8 minutes. 

3. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, 1-2 hours.

4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.  Using a dough scraper, divide the dough into 8 equal parts. 

5. Gently roll each portion of dough into a ball and place on the baking sheet, 2-3 inches apart.  Cover loosely with lightly oiled plastic wrap and let rise again, 1-2 hours, until puffed up and nearly doubled.

6. Set a large metal pan of water on the lowest rack of the oven.  Preheat the oven to 400˚ F with a rack in the center.  Brush the tops of the buns lightly with the egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds. 

7. Bake the buns about 15 minutes rotating halfway through baking, until the tops are golden brown.  Transfer to a rack to cool completely.

Source: Annie’s Eats – who adapted from Smitten Kitchen, originally from Comme Ça via The New York Times

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Oct 1, 2010

Indian-spiced chicken with mango relish

This was my first attempt at cooking any Indian-type food – I’m not actually sure how authentic this was – but what I do know is that it was delicious.   I was inspired to try Indian flavors after watching The Next Food Network Star – where Aarti (who won!) cooked Indian food made simple.    Well, this was a real simple recipe – so it is perfect to get a taste of curry flavors without spending lots of time and using complicated ingredients.  
The curry flavored chicken was perfectly spiced and the mango-mint relish really helped balance the spicyness of the chicken.   I served this with some jasmine rice and homemade naan.  So delish – enjoy! 
I hope to try many more Indian dishes to share with you soon. :)

Ingredients

  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tsp. grated fresh ginger
  • 2 tsp. curry powder
  • 2 tsp. fresh lime juice (from 1/2 a lime)
  • 1/2 a jalapeno, seeded and minced
  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 mango, peeled, pitted and diced
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh mint, chopped

Directions

1. Combine garlic, 1 1/2 tsp. ginger, curry powder, 1 tsp. lime juice, 1/4 jalapeno, yogurt and oil in a large bow and season with salt and pepper.

2. Marinate chicken in curry-yogurt mixture for 15-30 minutes.

3. Grill chicken over a medium-high fire until lightly charred and the thickest part registers 160 degrees, about 8 minutes per side.

4. Meanwhile, combine mango and mint with remaining ginger, jalapeno and lime juice in a small bowl.  Season with salt and pepper.  Serve with chicken and rice.

Source: Americas Test Kitchen 30-Minute Suppers (Fall 2010)

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