Saturday, October 31, 2009

Orange Rolls

You have to try Orange Rolls, a recipe developed by one of the Test Kitchen pros at SL. They are delicious! I made them for a baby shower brunch this morning. (Instead of baking them in round pans, I used muffin pans. This gave each roll a crispy crust and soft inside.) Don't be intimidated when you see that this is a yeast-based dough that must have time to rise. It is totally easy! The one thing you have to keep in mind is that the dough needs to rise for about two hours. As long as you allow enough time, you're good to go. You can make the rolls in advance, add the Honey Topping, and freeze them. To serve, thaw them overnight in the fridge, bake as directed, and top with Fresh Orange Glaze. Last year for Christmas, I made several pans of the rolls, froze them, and gave them as gifts to my friends. It was a nice change from my usual cookie assortment. Sister Schubert orange rolls are yummy, but these are even better and totally worth the effort. Enjoy!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Pear Cupcakes With Caramel Frosting

This dessert was inspired by last Saturday's Cinnamon-Apple Cake. Basically, I used the same cake batter, replaced the vanilla with a little maple flavoring, and replaced the apples with pears. Then I baked the batter in muffin cups instead of a springform pan. The simple caramel frosting that tops them is totally easy! You start with brown sugar, instead of white sugar, so as soon as the butter melts, the mixture looks like caramel. This pairing is terrific and really tastes like fall. Enjoy!

Pear Cupcakes With Caramel Frosting
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 (8-oz.) block cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp. maple flavoring or 1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. apple pie spice or cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
4 pears, cored and chopped
Caramel Frosting

1. Beat butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer until creamy. Beat in sugar. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, until blended after each addition. Stir in maple flavoring.
2. Combine flour and next 3 ingredients. Gradually add to butter mixture, beating until blended. Stir in pears. Scoop batter into lightly greased muffin pans.
3. Bake at 350° for 30 to 35 minutes or until done. Remove from oven, and cool in pan 10 minutes. Remove from pans and cool completely.
4. Spread caramel frosting on each cupcake.

Caramel Frosting:
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/3 cup buttermilk
3 cups powdered sugar
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. almond extract

1. Melt butter and brown sugar, whisking constantly, at medium heat. Cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in buttermilk. Return to heat, and bring to a boil.
2. Pour mixture into a mixing bowl. Stir in powdered sugar and almond extract. Beat at medium speed until spreading consistency.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Fried Chicken and the Fixin's

Tonight Mom, Mel, Russ, and the girls came for dinner. It's been a while since we had a family dinner. The girls provided wonderful entertainment as usual. They were super-excited because they got to take a bubble bath in the "big bathtub." For dinner, we had Fried Chicken, Loaded Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans, and Cheese Biscuits. The girls liked the "chicken nuggets" (with ketchup, of course) and the potatoes.

Fried Chicken
1 (1.5-pound) package boneless skinless chicken breasts (cut each breast in half)
All-purpose flour
Salt and pepper
Panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
Peanut oil

1. Marinate chicken in buttermilk to cover in refrigerator for 8 hours.
2. Combine flour, salt, and pepper in plate. Roll chicken in flour mixture, dip in buttermilk, and roll in panko.
3. Heat oil in large Dutch oven. Cook chicken in hot oil until golden and cooked through. Drain on paper towels, and sprinkle with salt.

Loaded Mashed Potatoes
2 lb. Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into cubes
1/4 cup butter
1 cup sour cream
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
4 slices chopped bacon, cooked
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Cook potatoes in water to cover in a large Dutch oven until tender. Drain and return to pot. Stir in butter and next 3 ingredients. Stir in salt and pepper to taste. Spoon mixture into a 13- x 9-inch baking dish.
2. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes.

Green Beans
2 bags frozen green beans
5 bacon slices, chopped
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar or white vinegar
1/4 cup butter
1/2 tsp. minced garlic
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Combine all ingredients in large saucepan. Bring to a boil, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes or until beans are tender.

Cheese Biscuits
1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
1/4 cup butter, cut into cubes
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
3/4 cup buttermilk

1. Combine flour and butter until mixture resembles sand. Stir in cheese and buttermilk. Spoon mixture into lightly greased muffin cups.
2. Bake at 350° for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Recipe Rewind: Cinnamon-Apple Cake

This is a terrific recipe for fall! Anna Claire told me that it tastes like a cinnamon roll—high praise from 5-year-old. There's not much better than warm Cinnamon-Apple Cake, right out of the oven, topped with ice cream. Yummy! When I made it today, I replaced the 2 teaspoons of cinnamon with 1 1/2 teaspoons of apple pie spice. Definitely try this cake!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Sweet Potato-Potato Soup

This was an inspired idea I had this week. On Tuesday night we had filet mignon, Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Yukon Gold Potatoes, and Onions (I also added a red bell pepper), and steamed broccoli. I made extra of the roasted potatoes and tonight I pureed the potatoes, onions, and bell pepper, and stirred in some chicken stock and milk to make a rich, creamy soup. Andy and I both gave it two thumbs-up! This will be a staple for us this winter. Enjoy!

Sweet Potato-Potato Soup
3 cups Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Yukon Gold Potatoes, Onions, and Red Bell Pepper
2 cups chicken stock
2 cups milk
1/2 cup cream
Salt and pepper to taste
Chopped cooked bacon

1. Combine roasted potato mixture and next 3 ingredients in a Dutch oven. Cook over medium heat until heated. Use an immersion blender to puree mixture until desired consistency. Cook until thoroughly heated. Stir in salt and pepper to taste. Ladle into bowls, and top with bacon.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Caramelized Onion-Blue Cheese Burgers

Tonight we had burgers and Onion Rings. However it's not in my cooking nature to just make plain burgers. I decided to caramelize onions to mix in with the ground sirloin and then added a little crumbled blue cheese for good measure. The onions were cooked in a little butter, which added to the richness of the burger. The best part is that I have two more burgers in the freezer for later. Enjoy!

Caramelized Onion-Blue Cheese Burgers
2 Tbsp. butter
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 small or half large onion, chopped
1 lb. ground sirloin
1 tsp. Montreal steak seasoning
2 ounces crumbled blue cheese

1. Melt butter in a skillet. Stir in onions, salt, and pepper; sauté for 10 minutes or until onions begin to caramelize.
2. Place ground sirloin in a bowl; stir in steak seasoning, caramelized onions (including melted butter), and blue cheese. Shape into patties.
3. Cook in a grill pan or on grill until done. Serve with buns and desired toppings.

Blueberry Pancakes

Today is the first cold day we've had this year, so I thought blueberry pancakes would be a good comfort-food breakfast. (There are still a couple of bags of blueberries in the freezer that I froze this summer.) I used my favorite basic buttermilk pancake recipe and then sprinkled a few frozen berries on top of the batter once I had scooped it out on the griddle. We enjoyed them with warm maple syrup, bacon (of course), and my favorite Jamaica-Me-Crazy coffee from O'Henry's. Yummy!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Mini Caramel Macchiato Cheesecakes

Cheesecake is one of those desserts that seems intimidating, but it is very easy and everyone loves it. For a coworker's birthday, I made two kinds of cheesecakes. Because I love small desserts, I made them in a mini cheesecake pan instead of in a 9-inch springform pan. We had the ever-popular Chocolate Chunk Cheesecake and a new-to-me recipe, Caramel Macchiato Cheesecake, which originally ran in the October 2006 issue of SL. My mini cheesecake pan only yields 12, so I halved the both cheesecake recipes and ended up with 24, which is much more manageable than 48. The one thing about cheesecake is that it usually cracks on top (that's my experience anyway), so I serve it with some kind of topping, like the chocolate ganache and caramel sauce for these recipes. If you've never tried cheesecake, now's the time—think how impressed your family will be!

P.S. Thanks to Katie and her fancy flat phone for the photograph and to Jen for the lovely styling.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Baked Ziti With Ricotta

This dish is super-easy, super-quick, and makes a lot of leftovers—in other words, the perfect weeknight meal. I added some balsamic vinegar to the tomato sauce for a little tangy sweetness and depth of flavor. Definitely a good addition!

Baked Ziti With Ricotta
1 onion, chopped
1 (8-oz.) sliced portobello mushrooms
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper
2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 lb. ground sirloin
2 links Italian sausage, casings removed
1 (28-oz.) can whole tomatoes
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 tsp. dried crushed red pepper
8 to 10 oz. cooked ziti
1 (15-oz.) container ricotta cheese
1 cup shredded Italian cheese blend
4 provolone cheese slices

1. Sauté onion and next 2 ingredients in hot oil, stirring regularly. Stir in salt, pepper, and oregano. Add in ground sirloin and sausage, and cook, stirring often, until meat is browned and crumbled. Stir in tomatoes, breaking them into chunks with spoon. Stir in vinegar and basil. Reduce heat to low, and cook, stirring occasionally, 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in salt, pepper, and dried crushed red pepper.
2. Combine ziti, ricotta, and salt to taste. Spread into bottom of a lightly greased baking dish. Pour tomato mixture over the noodles. Sprinkle with shredded cheese, and layer top with provolone.
3. Bake at 350° for 25 to 30 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Cream Cheese-Banana-Macadamia Nut Muffins

Tonight I did a trial run of the muffins that we're planning to serve Thursday morning through Grace's Kitchen. I wanted to see how long it would take and how many it would make so that I allow the right amount of time on Thursday. This recipe, Cream Cheese-Banana-Nut Bread, is from the January 2005 issue of SL. I'm not a fan of bananas or banana bread and didn't expect to like this. However, I made myself try one and really liked it—the banana flavor is very subtle. It and the cream cheese make a rich, moist muffin. The original recipe calls for toasted chopped pecans; I was out, so for this batch I substituted chopped macadamia nuts. For the topping, I used the recipe for Peanut Butter Streusel. The combo was tasty, but when I make them on Thursday, the streusel will go in the middle of the muffins instead of on top. This will give better distribution of the banana-peanut butter flavor. Yummy!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Mexican Chicken Soup, take 2

It's been getting cooler during the last couple of weeks, so I decided it was time to break out a soup recipe. Last September, I posted this recipe for Mexican Chicken Soup. Andy and I really liked it, but I'm always up for trying new things. Earlier this week, my friend Cindy, who lives in San Antonio, sent me a recipe for Chicken Tortilla Soup that she got from the wife of a coworker. I decided to combine that recipe with the one from Barefoot Contessa to create my own version. The main thing that changed is the proportion of broth to the other ingredients; what I ended up with was more of a stew. I served the soup with Queso and Homemade Tortilla Chips. Enjoy!

Mexican Chicken Soup
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
4 carrots, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
1 (28-oz.) can whole tomatoes in puree
6 cups chicken stock
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tsp. cumin
2 lb. boneless chicken breasts, cooked and chopped*
Juice from 2 limes
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
Toppings: diced avocado, sour cream, tortilla chips, shredded Monterey Jack cheese

1. Sauté onions and next 4 ingredients in hot oil 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and next 5 ingredients. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes. Stir in lime juice and cilantro. Serve with desired toppings.
*I baked mine (it was still frozen) at 350° with 1 cup orange juice, 1/2 cup butter, cumin, salt, and pepper for 1 hour and 15 minutes.