Thursday, April 28, 2011

Crowd Pleasin' Chili

I can call this "crowd pleasin'" because I took a pot of this chili to a local chili cook-off last year and won an award of the same name.  This chili has a nice flavor.  No one would ever say it will put hair on your chest (do people still say that?).  I don't usually put a ton of heat into it.  As it is, Princess Pat insists on two dollops of sour cream in her bowl and an extra 30 minutes to finish it.  She is still working on enjoying beans or anything spicy.  The rest of my family loves this.

 It's also one of my go-to meals when I need to take a friend or neighbor a meal.  It always turns out well and takes no more effort than browning some hamburger.  The rest of the ingredients simply simmer in a pot for a few hours and "poof!" it's done.  I usually crumble up some corn muffins in mine.  The rest of my family likes it with shredded cheese and sour cream.  They prefer their corn muffins on the side with honey.
Crowd Pleasin' Chili (adapted from Todd Wilbur's Top Secret Recipes)
1 pound ground beef
3 8 ounce cans tomato sauce
2 14 ounce cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 14 ounce cans northern beans, drained and rinsed
1 small can green chiles
1 28 ounce can chopped tomatoes
2 tsp cumin
1 Tbsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp chile powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp white pepper
1 cup water
Brown the ground beef in a large Dutch oven or stockpot.  Combine all the remaining ingredients into the pot and simmer 2-3 hours, stirring every 15 minutes or so.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Old Fashioned Bread Pudding with Caramel Sauce

I have been making bread pudding since I was first married  (we celebrated our 23rd anniversary in April).  My husband and I both love the texture and flavor.   I don't usually use a recipe.  It's like French toast.  Do people use recipe for that?  The way my bread puddings differ is in the kind of bread I use, whether or not I add dried fruit or if I use a sauce.  Sometimes I serve it with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.  This time, I opted for a caramel sauce.  I had a couple of volunteers to lick out the saucepan that contained the sauce.  
Because this is a food blog and I love all of you, I kept track of the measurements of this bread pudding.  It made a lot.  There are a lot of us after all.  Feel free to halve the recipe...the pudding won't mind.  I used whole wheat rolls and a few lonely hot dog buns this time.  Almost any bread will do (though I am a bit skeptical of an onion bagel). 

Old Fashioned Bread Pudding with Caramel Sauce: 
12 dinner rolls and 4 hot dog buns (or enough torn bread to completely fill a 9X13 pan)
1/2 cup sugar
8 eggs, slightly beaten
3 cans evaporated milk
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
caramel sauce: 
1 stick butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp agave nectar (or corn syrup...if you so choose)
1/2 cup half and half
1 tsp vanilla extract
Place the torn bread in a greased 9X13 pan.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the sugar, eggs, evaporated milk and cinnamon.  Pour the liquid all over the bread.  With a fork, turn the bread and make sure it's completely coated with liquid.  Let sit for 10-15 minutes on the counter and then bake in a 350 degree preheated oven for 40-45 minutes (if you used a lot of bread, it will take longer...if you used less, check after 30 minutes).   To make the sauce, bring the butter, brown sugar and agave to a boil.  Let boil 2 minutes.  Remove from heat and slowly stir in the half and half and vanilla.  Let cool a bit and serve over individual servings of the bread pudding.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Coconut Date Couscous Cake

 This recipe is completely different than most that I make.  I will just say that right at the beginning.  See, I had this jar of couscous that needed to be used and I had access to the internet; a dangerous combination for a creative cook, let me tell you.  Honest, I started off looking for a savory couscous recipe....something with curry.  Then I saw a picture of a lemon couscous cake and then another of an apple raisin couscous cake.  I was intrigued.  This is what I came up with.
 This isn't really a cake, not in the egg and flour sense.  It's really sweet couscous with fruit and coconut that has been pressed into a small dish and refrigerated until it sets.  I would say this is more of an adult dish than a family dish.  (Okay, I didn't share, so I don't know if my kids would have liked it.  In my defense, it didn't make enough for more than two or four servings.)  Change out the butter for a Vegan margarine and this could be totally Vegan.
Coconut Date Couscous
1 1/4 cup coconut milk (I made my own using this video as my guide)
3/4 cup couscous
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/3 cup chopped dates
1/2 cup shredded coconut (I actually used the leftover pulp from making the coconut milk)
2 Tbsp butter
Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil, cover and remove from the heat.  Let sit 10-15 minutes.  Pour into a small dish (about 1 quart size), press down to form a cake like form, refrigerate at least 1 hour.  Carefully invert onto a plate or cut into pieces and serve.

This was plenty sweet for me, but if you want more, try drizzling some maple syrup or fruit syrup over the top.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Your Recipe, My Kitchen: Triple Chocolate Cookies

Everyone needs a chocolate fix once in a while.  In order to satisfy that "fix" for all of the chocolate lovers in my house, I had to find a cookie that contained both chocolate and white chocolate, too.  Though I don't consider white chocolate to be real chocolate, my eldest son prefer it.  He often complains that there is just too much chocolate in our house and not enough of the white stuff.  These cookies made everyone happy.
I found this recipe over on Lisa's blog,  The Cutting Edge of Ordinary.  Her cookies didn't have the white chips.  In fact, if I hadn't had a very vocal member of my family chiming loudly for the white addition, I would gladly have made her very chocolatey version.  I also used a whole egg instead of just a yolk.  Princess Pat was helping and wanted to crack the egg.  Her little four year old fingers were barely able to crack the egg without putting shells in the dough, there was no way she could separate the egg and there was no way I wasn't going to let her help.  Willing helpers are far and few between.

Triple Chocolate Cookies: (adapted from The Cutting Edge of Ordinary)
1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla
2 1/4 cups flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
12 ounces white chocolate or vanilla chips
6 ounces semisweet chips
Cream butter and sugar.  Add the egg and vanilla.  Combine the flour, cocoa, soda and salt and add to the butter mixture.  Stir in the chips.    Scoop the cookies onto a greased or silpat/parchment lined cookie sheet.  Flatten them slightly with your fingers or palm.  Bake 10-12 minutes in a preheated 375 degree oven.

Now it's your turn.  Link up any recipe that you have finally gotten around to making or one that you found on another blog that you just love.  Be sure to link back here.

Thai Chicken Noodle Soup: The Secret Recipe Club

 A few months ago I joined a foodblogger group on Yahoo groups.  It was so fun to find that many of my favorite bloggers were already members of the group.  If you want to join the group, go here.  Anyway, Amanda, the moderator and all round gal in charge had a brilliant idea to form a Secret Recipe club within the group.  Those of us who wanted to participate signed up and were then were assigned another blog to visit and cook from...secretly. We are going to do this every month.  If you want to participate, sign up here.
 Today is the reveal.  I was given Winnie's Healthy Green Kitchen.  I had so much fun looking through her recipes.  She has beautiful photos and great healthy ideas.  She has recently started a blog party called Eco-Friendly Friday.  If you have any environment conscious posts, ideas, recipes, etc...go over and join her!
 Of all of Winnie's recipes, I knew I had to try her  Thai-inspired Coconut Chicken Noodle Soup.  It looked so delicious.  I love soups, too, because they are easy to stretch to feed a large group.  The soup I made served ten.
 I did a little fiddling with the recipe.  I don't have access to kaffir lime leaves.   I bet there aren't any within 100 miles of my house.  I also didn't have any Date and Tamarind Sauce.  So I punted.  The results were a huge hit with everyone.  My second son, the Thinker, said, "Mom, you could sell this soup in a restaurant."  Thanks, Winnie.
Thai Chicken Noodle Soup (adapted from Healthy Green Kitchen)
8 cups chicken stock (homemade is best, but 4 can chicken broth will do)
1 1inch chunk ginger root, peeled
2 Tbsp Thai fish sauce
1 1/2 tsp ground corriander
1 small onion, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp chile oil
1 can coconut milk
3 medium carrots sliced
1 red bell pepper, chopped (I actually used a handful of dehydrated red peppers)
1 cooked chicken, boned and chopped
1 package soba noodles, broken up
salt and pepper
1/2 tsp sriracha hot chile sauce (or more if desired)
juice of 2 limes
cilantro for garnish
In a skillet, saute the coriander with the onion and garlic in the chile oil. Set aside.  In a Dutch oven, heat the chicken stock with the fish sauce and ginger root.  Heat to boiling and then turn off the heat, cover and let sit for 20 minutes.  Remove the ginger root and discard.  Add the contents of the skillet to the Dutch oven, along with the coconut milk, carrots, red pepper and chicken.  Simmer for 15-20 minutes, covered, until the carrots are soft.  Add the noodles, salt & pepper to taste and lime juice.  Turn off the heat, let the noodles cook in the warm water for 15 minutes.  Serve with cilantro as a garnish.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Chicken Tortilla Soup

 This is my new favorite soup.  I love soup, but this one is number one on my list, at least this month.  It's even better the next day, too.  The corn tortillas have a chance to thicken up a little, almost like little homemade noodles.
In my large family, I have to double or triple the recipe (depending on how many leftovers I want).  I have used rotisserie chickens from the store, canned chicken, leftover chicken and fresh all works, so use what is convenient.  I have used cans of Rotel, but on days when there was none in the pantry, I have used diced tomatoes and a jar of salsa.  This is a very forgiving recipe.

Chicken Tortilla Soup:
4-6 green onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can chopped green chiles
1/2 stick butter (or 1/4 cup olive oil)
2 14 ounce cans tomatoes with chiles (like Rotel)
2 14 ounce cans chicken broth (or 4 cups homemade)
1 cup chopped cooked chicken
1 8 ounce brick cream cheese
4 small corn tortillas, cut into small squares
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp garlic salt
garnishes: fresh cilantro, sour cream, cheddar cheese
In a stockpot, saute the green onions, garlic and green chiles in the butter or olive oil.  When soft, add the tomatoes and chicken broth.  Bring to a boil.  Add the chicken and simmer 20 minutes.  Add the cream cheese and tortillas, stirring to melt the cream cheese.  Add the seasonings, stir through and serve.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Flax Wheat Bread

This is one of my favorite "healthy" breads.  If you have taken a look through the yeast bread section of my recipe page, you will find that I am much more likely to make a maple ring or a carrot cake donut than a whole wheat bread.  I am working on that....slowly.  It's not that I don't enjoy good-for-me foods.  They just aren't as fun.  I am working on that, too....slowly.

The recipe for this bread came out of a diet book.  I wish I remembered which.  Over the years, I have looked into just about every fad diet out there.  That's what libraries are for.  After checking out the books, reading through the whys and wherefores of the diets, I would copy a few of the recipes and then check the book back in.  It seems to work better for me to incorporate the good tasting recipes of many diet plans than to use one three week plan over and over and over.  That is, when I do diet.

This bread?  Well , I like it whether or not I am watching my weight, sugar, salt, fat or whatever intake.  It is amazing with peanut or any other nut butter.

Flax Wheat Bread:
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 cup white flour
3 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup ground flaxseeds (flaxmeal)
1 Tbls oil
3 Tbls honey
2 tsp salt
1 Tbls + 1 tsp yeast
In a large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in water. Add the oil, honey and salt. Add 1 cup whole wheat flour, flaxmeal and white flour. Beat with a dough hook in a mixer or by hand. Add remaining wheat flour and knead thoroughly. Let rise in a warm place until double in bulk. Punch down and shape into a loaf and let rise in a greased loaf pan. Bake 375 degrees for 30 minutes or until done.  Remove from pan, brush the top with a healthy oil/fat/butter.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Lemon Meringue Pie

When I was little, I loved the meringue on top of lemon pie.  I would try to lift it off my piece and eat it separately.  As I grew older, I reversed my preferences.  I much prefer the lemon filling now.  In fact, if it weren't for those in the family that love the meringue, I'd be tempted to just leave it off.

For many, meringue is the hardest part of the pie.  Thanks to a trick I learned from America's Test Kitchen, it turns out every time and rarely weeps.  Though it sounds weird, the thickened cornstarch really holds the egg whites together.

Lemon Meringue Pie:
1 1/2 cup water
1 1/2 cup sugar
dash salt
1/2 cup cornstarch dissolved in 1/3 cup water
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice 
4 egg yolks
1 Tbls butter
1 9 inch baked pie shell
In a large microwave safe bowl, combine water, sugar and salt. Bring to a boil in the microwave (at this point, you can't ruin it, so just keep adding minutes until it boils). Add the cornstarch/water mixture and boil until clear (2 minutes at a time until it reaches that state, stirring in between cooking). Add the lemon juice and egg yolks and cook until thick (1 minute at a time, stirring after each minute). Add butter, cool and fill a 9 or 10" baked pie shell.
For the Meringue:
4 egg whites, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbls cornstarch
1/4 cup water
Combine the cornstarch and water and microwave until it looks Vaseline (no joke!). Beat the egg whites and sugar until soft peaks appear. Add the cooled cornstarch mixture a dollop at a time and whip until stiff peaks form. Top the lemon pie while it is piping hot, sealing the edges (meringue to crust) and bake 325 degrees for 7 minutes.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Your Recipe, My Kitchen: Apple Butter Pie

One day last fall, probably while I was either canning quart after quart of applesauce and apple butter or making a pie, one of the family asked if it were possible to make a pie out of applesauce.  I hadn't ever had one, but I decided to do some investigating on the Internet.  I was intrigued to find that not only are there applesauce pies, but there are also apple butter pies.  They are similar in texture to a pumpkin pie (but without the evaporated milk).  Now I was really interested.

I found the recipe that I used on  Andrea's blog PumpkinTart.  Sadly, she hasn't been posting much this year. There is still a treasure trove of recipes there, though, so take a peek and see what you can find.  I made a few changes in her recipe.  First of all, apple butter is pretty sweet all by itself, so adding 3/4 + 2 Tbsp of various sugars was way too much in my opinion.  Also, I totally cut out the butter.  There isn't any in pumpkin pie, so why put it in apple butter pie?  We didn't miss it at all. Finally, I added more spices...a little ginger and allspice to go with the cinnamon.
I will fill you in on a little secret that I didn't tell my kids.  I used the apple plum butter that I made last fall.  There was a little tang to the pie that none of my family could place...but mum's the word.  They liked it and ate it without any complaint.  Had they known there were plums in it, too...well, I don't know what they would have said.

Apple Butter Pie (adapted from PumpkinTart)
1 3/4 cups apple butter (beware that most store bought varieties have lots of sugar in it)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp ginger
3 eggs, slightly beaten
1 unbaked pie crust
Combine all of the filling ingredients and whisk together until smooth.  Pour into the pie shell and bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for 40 minutes.  Let cool on the counter and then refrigerate until ready to serve.  Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
Now it's your turn.  Please feel free to link up any recipe that you have made from another blog, cookbook, friend, etc.  Make sure to tell us where you got the recipe.  And don't forget to link back to this blog/post.  Last week we had 30 links!!!  

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Sour Milk Chocolate Cupcakes

I had some milk that was about to go bad.  It was beyond drinkable, but it wasn't lumpy and gross.  In the old days, when refrigeration was unreliable, sour milk meant cake.  So, I headed to some of my older cookbooks.  I found this cake recipe in The American Woman's Cook Book by Ruth Berolzheimer.  It was the perfect answer.  I changed up the recipe a bit (of course).  It called for boiling water, but I thought perhaps a coffee-like addition would help the flavor.  I don't drink coffee, though, so I used Postum, a grain based beverage that I would never in a million years drink, but love in baked goods. (How's that for an off-handed recommendation!)
The cake was moist and delicious...with no hint of the milk that I used.   One word of advice, though...definitely use cupcake liners when you make these.  I learned that the hard way.   I almost ended up making cake balls out of half of the cupcakes.  Instead, we had some mighty misshapen little cakes.  

I threw some store bought coconut pecan frosting on top.  The cakes were not the mild Germans Chocolate cake that usually goes with that frosting, but they were good enough. My kids ate them with gusto.

Sour Milk Chocolate Cupcakes (adapted from The American Woman's Cook Book)
1 cup lard (or butter or shortening)
2 cups brown sugar
3 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup boiling water (or Postum or coffee)
9 Tbsp cocoa
2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup sour milk (can use buttermilk)
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
Cream lard and brown sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the beaten eggs and vanilla and mix well.  Combine the dry ingredients in a separate bowl.  Add to the egg mixture alternately with the sour milk.  Slowly add the boiling water and mix until smooth.   Scoop into cupcake liners (24) and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven until done (20-30 minutes).  Frost as desired.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Cream Puffs

There just aren't enough hours in the day lately.  I am afraid blogging and sometimes even cooking are taking a backseat to life.  I will be throwing a few older recipes in the mix here and there in order to keep things going here.  By older, I mean things I made or baked a while maybe even a year or two ago...but never got around to posting.  The photos won't be up to snuff, but I stand behind the recipes 100%.  Like this old favorite:
Cream puffs have long been a huge favorite in my home.  My mom started making them when I was in high school.  Choux pastry filled with a rich homemade custard, topped with ganache.  YUM!  I remember her making up dozens of these little beauties and storing them in the second fridge under a layer of waxed paper.  I would sneak out and snatch one any chance I could get.  Nowadays, my own children and husband love them just as much as I did.

Begin by making a Choux pastry for the Puffs:
1 cup water
1 stick butter
1 cup flour
4 eggs
Combine the water and butter in a saucepan.
Heat until mixture boils.
Add flour and stir vigourously until it forms a ball (about a minute). Remove from heat and transfer to another bowl. Let sit 5 minutes to cool slightly. Add eggs one at a time. 
Drop by spoonsful onto an ungreased cookie sheet. This normally makes 8 large puffs, but I made them smaller to accomodate children.Bake at 400 degrees until golden brown and dry: for 45 minutes if big, 30 minutes if smaller.

Custard Filling: (this is my go-to custard for everything from cream pies to trifle)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup flour
1 can evaporated milk + enough milk to make 2 cups
2 beaten eggs
2 tsp vanilla
In a microwave safe bowl (I usually use my 8 cup batter bowl), combine sugar, salt and flour. Add milk and microwave a minute at a time until thick, stirring between each minute. Beat eggs in a small bowl. When milk mixture is thickened, stir a little bit into the eggs to temper them (this warms the eggs and prevents them from cooking prematurely. Scrambled eggs have no part in this custard!). Add the eggs into the custard and microwave a few more times for a minute at a time until nice and thick. Add the vanilla. Cool before filling the cream puffs.
Cut the tops off the puffs. Fill with custard. Replace tops. Either dust with powdered sugar or make a chocolate ganache for the topping.

Easy Ganache:
1 12 oz package chocolate chips
3/4 cup cream (or use evaporated milk)
powdered sugar (optional)
Melt chips with cream in the microwave for a minute. Stir. Microwave for another minute, stir. Keep repeating until mixture is creamy and smooth. If you want it a little thicker, add a little powdered sugar. Top cream puffs with ganache. If you have leftovers, it's great on brownies or ice cream or cookies or cupcakes!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Your Recipe, My Kitchen: Snickers Cheesecake Brownies

I Springpad to save all of my bookmarked recipes.  Often on Friday, I will head over to my account there and browse down the huge list of recipes to see which one I can manage before Sunday afternoon.  As I scrolled down it this week, I suddenly realized that I had bookmarked two recipes for Chocolate Cheesecake Brownies.  I decided to visit both blogs again to see how similar they were.  They were basically the same.  Amanda did a slight variation on Donalyn's lovely brownies.  I varied it even further.  It seems to be what we bloggers do best.

I used granulated sugar instead of brown.  I omitted the baking powder and cut the flour slightly in the brownie.  I had no baking chocolate in the house, so I substituted milk chocolate chips in the cheesecake.  Finally, I threw 1 1/2 Snickers bars on the top before I baked it.  Just for fun.

I think you will find that no matter which recipe you use, you will have a lovely, decadent dessert on your hands.

Snickers Cheesecake Brownies (adapted from
for the brownie:
1 1/2 sticks butter, melted
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
2 eggs
1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla
for the cheesecake:
3/4 cup milk chocolate chips, melted
1 8 ounce brick cream cheese
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
for the top:
1 1/2 full sized Snickers bars, cut into pieces
Combine the melted butter with the sugar and cocoa.  Add the eggs and stir well.  Add the flour, salt and vanilla.  Pour the brownie batter into a greased 9X9 pan.  Beat cheesecake ingredients in a mixing bowl until very smooth.  Spoon over the brownie batter and carefully spread to the edges of the pan.  Sprinkle the Snickers bar pieces all over the batter.  Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 35 minutes (if you are using a glass pan, lower the heat to 325).  Remove from oven and cool, then place in the fridge for a few hours before serving.

Now it's your turn.  Please link back to this post or blog if you are participating!

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