Monday, February 28, 2011

breakfast braid

Saturday mornings at our house can be pretty lazy. I’m an early riser, but usually I just sit around, read and drink coffee all morning. I just finished reading the 2011 Newberry Medal winner Moon over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool. Since I teach Middle School Language Arts, I usually try to keep up with those titles. I’m also reading Julie of the Wolves by Jeanne Craighead George along with my students. It's been a while since I've read it and I'm greatly enjoying it. My grown up book this week is Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck.

Our two oldest kids are home from college for spring break this week, so Saturday was the perfect time to spend just a tiny bit of time on a hot breakfast for them. This was the first time I have made this and it was pretty good, but I can see lots of variations and possibilities. Next time I will jazz up the eggs with some green peppers, onions and tomatoes. You could make it spicy with green chilies or even jalapeno peppers and hot sauce in the egg mixture.

Here’s what you need:
½ C milk (I used skim)
4 oz. low fat cream cheese
8 eggs
2 packages low fat crescent rolls
6 oz. deli ham, thinly sliced
1 C shredded cheddar cheese

Here’s what you do:
Preheat oven 375 degrees. Lightly spray baking sheet and lay out one package of crescent rolls in a large rectangle. Press the seams together so the goodness does not leak out too much while baking. Arrange the second package of crescent rolls along the edges of the rectangle of dough. Place the wide end on the dough and hang the point of the triangle over the edge of the baking sheet. Layer the ham on the dough. Mix the cream cheese and milk until blended; whisk in eggs, salt and pepper to taste.

Gently cook the eggs until just cooked – they should remain very soft. Spoon the eggs over the ham, sprinkle with shredded cheddar.

Fold in the tips of the crescent roll triangle to form a braid. Bake for about 25 minutes or until roll is nicely browned. I suggest a serrated knife to create a pretty slice. 

Friday, February 25, 2011

Feasting on Art Recipe Contest

Floris Gerritsz van Schooten, A Still Life of Cheese, c.1585
oil on oak panel, 39.3 x 55.2 cm, Private collection

Hi everyone,
I stumbled upon a beautiful blog called Feasting on Art just today and decided to participate in the contest that I found posted there. Hey, why not? It's a contest based on cheese recipes, and I love cheese with the best of them! Please click on the link above and browse the gallery of food art. I think you will enjoy the art, the photographs and the recipes. Hopefully, you will enjoy re-visiting this cheese and havarti quesadilla also.

Apple and Havarti Quesadilla 

Here's what you need:
1 Granny Smith apple - no substitutions here
1/3 C chopped red pepper
3 green onions, chopped
3 T butter - no substitutions here either
1/8 t cayenne pepper - this is pretty hot, so don't add any more than 1/8 t
2 t cider vinegar - no substitutions
1 clove garlic
1 t brown sugar
4 oz Havarti cheese - be sure it's not the dill type.... plain, regular Havarti
2-3 large flour tortillas

Here's what you do:
Peel and thinly slice the apple, chop the pepper and onion. Sauté slowly in a bit of butter until nice and soft.
Add the salt, cayenne, vinegar, garlic (I always use a garlic press so no one bites into a large piece of garlic) and brown sugar. Cook for about 2-3 minutes. Your kitchen will smell great - sweet, tart, spicy....

Spoon the apple mixture on 1/2 of the tortillas and then cover lightly with shredded Havarti. Fold over the tortilla to form the quesadilla.

Brown them in a clean pan in a bit more butter.... I like mine nice and brown. Allow them to cool before cutting them into wedges.

I know these sound unusual, but that's what makes them great. Try them and let me know what you think.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

my maple nut snack mix

Have you ever poked around the General Mills website and seen how many recipes there are for Chex Mix? Sweet, salty, savory, chocolate and even gluten free. There must be 100 different types! Of course, everyone has had the original recipe and I’m betting that if you have kids then you have made Muddy Buddies. (chocolate and powdered sugar) That was a favorite when my kids were young. It was the standard treat which they all loved to take to school on their birthdays.

This is a combo I stumbled upon when I mixed a few suggestions from standard recipes and the ingredients from my pantry. I’d say it’s the new favorite of my kids who have grown past the powdered sugar phase. Enjoy.

Here’s what you need:
3 C honey O’s cereal
3 C rice chex shape cereal
2 C fish shaped pretzels or butter flavored pretzels (extra yummy)
1 C pecan halves
2 T sesame seeds
½ C real maple syrup
½ stick real butter

Here’s what you do:
Mix the snack ingredients. Melt the syrup and butter. Pour over dry ingredients and mix well with two huge spoons.

Turn out onto a greased baking sheet. Bake 250 degrees for 40 minutes.

Have you ever tried the Buffalo Chex Mix snack? It’s super spicy!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Bourbon Brownies

My Super Bowl party was extra small this year – just me and Tim….. but our food was great! I made deviled eggs, ham salad sandwiches, potato skins and these awesomely wonderful brownies. I’ve never made these before but I give them a total 5 star rating. Luckily, we had a bottle of bourbon in the back of the cabinet and I had all the remaining ingredients in the pantry. The method is a bit different than regular brownies, so read carefully before jumping in.

Here’s what you need:
For the Brownies:
½ C sugar
1/3 C butter
2 T water
1 C semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 t vanilla
2 eggs
¾ C flour
¼ t baking powder
¼ t salt
½ C chopped pecans
¼ C bourbon

For the Frosting:
1 ½ C powdered sugar
3 T butter, softened
¼ t vanilla
7-9 t milk
2 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, melted

In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, butter and water. Cook and stir constantly until boiling. Remove from heat and add the chocolate and vanilla. Mix well and then add the eggs.

Add the flour, baking powder, salt and mix until totally blended. Stir in nuts. Spread evenly in a greased 8 inch square pan. (I measured my pan to make sure it was 8 inches)

Bake 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Do not over bake. Using a toothpick or the tines of a fork, poke lots of holes in the brownies while still hot. Drizzle the bourbon over the brownies with a spoon. Allow to completely cool for an hour.

Make frosting by mixing the powdered sugar, vanilla and enough milk for spreading consistency. Add the milk one teaspoon at a time! Frost and drizzle with melted chocolate. Allow to set completely before slicing (I put mine out in the cold garage to harden)

I took these to work and they got rave reviews and lots of jokes about the bourbon – you can really taste it! I would suggest cutting them in tiny, tiny squares for serving. They come out of the pan beautifully and make a lovely presentation. Enjoy!

(printable recipe)

I'd love to hear from you! What are some of your favorite variations on the basic brownie? (You really can't go wrong with any kind of brownie can you?)

Friday, February 11, 2011

Housekeeping Time

Well, it’s been 7 months since I started blogging. I never thought I’d make it this far, but I actually see my one year anniversary in the not so distant future. I think I’ll make it there and beyond.

I want to thank each and every one of you who read my posts and an even bigger thanks to those of you who have tried my recipes. I’ve received so many supportive and sincere compliments about my recipes and photos. Thanks from the bottom of my heart. I do want to take this opportunity to ask you kindly to leave a comment on the blog – I know you are out there because you communicate with me, but I think you would enjoy getting to know each other through your comments, suggestions, and thoughts. I’m totally humbled by how many of you have actually made some of the food you see here! How fun!

Laying around after cleaning up the zillions of dirty dishes this blog creates! 

Maybe you have noticed that I have started to offer a printable version of my recipes…. It’s a big project and I am determined to complete it.  Please let me know if there are errors (like a soup recipe where a bread recipe should be, for example) I’ll keep on with it until they are all done! Is there one in particular you want ASAP? Let me know.

My next project for the blog is to re-organize the recipes by main ingredient. I think it will be easier to scroll through and find what you are looking for that way. Please be patient while it’s ‘under construction’ ….. again, if you see errors, just point them out to me!

You can read about my first time snowmobiling on my other blog: Food Talk. 

I have additional news to share. I was asked to be a contributing blogger on the local page of which is an on-line newspaper. It’s an honor and a thrill to be a part of this publication! You can see additional recipes and articles there by clicking on the orange and blue mlive icon under my picture. This will take you directly to my other blog which I call Food Talk. 

Thank you again for your support – I’m having lots and lots of fun sharing my recipes and food ideas!

Monday, February 7, 2011

chicken marbella

Adapted from The Silver Palate Cookbook

I’m pretty sure many of you have made this chicken dish before because as I was researching it, I found it everywhere. Everywhere, except for my recipe box that is. I can’t believe I’ve missed this one – it’s really good. We ate this late on a Sunday evening after a long afternoon of snowmobiling. Chicken roasting in the oven creates the best smells in the kitchen. This dish is full of the great flavors of the Mediterranean: olives, wine, capers, and amazingly - prunes. It’s that classic combo of sweet and salty. This is definitely a keeper!

Here’s what you need:
1 chicken, quartered, bone-in, skin-on (I cut the breasts in half to create 8 pieces of chicken)
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 T dried oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
¼ C red wine vinegar
¼ C olive oil
½ -1 C pitted prunes (my favorite part of the entire meal)
¼ C pitted Spanish green olives (or more)
¼ C capers with a bit of the juice
3 bay leaves
¼  C light brown sugar
½ C white wine
Optional - parsley for garnish

Here’s what you do:
Create a marinade by mixing the garlic, oregano, salt, pepper, vinegar, oil, prunes, olives, capers and bay leaves. (Save the sugar and wine for the next step.) Rub this marinade all over the chicken and under the skin. Cover and refrigerate over night.

The next day, place chicken in a single layer in a 9 x 13 baking dish and spoon marinade evenly over chicken. Also, sprinkle the brown sugar over each piece of chicken. Pour the wine around the pan. Bake for about 1 hour at 350 degrees. Test for doneness by piercing thickest part of a thigh and making sure the juice runs clear and yellow. There should be no pink juice at all.

With a slotted spoon, remove the chicken to a baking sheet and place under the broiler to crisp up the skin, being careful not to burn it. Drain the remaining sauce through a wire sieve into a small sauce pan reserving the olives, capers and prunes. Set this sauce pan in a bowl of ice and allow the fat to congeal. (It took about 5 minutes or so.) When the sauce has cooled sufficiently, remove the fat, and quickly heat up the gravy on the stove.

Return the olives, capers and prunes to the chicken. Serve the sauce over the chicken or on the side in a gravy boat. We had this with rice which was the perfect accompaniment for that glorious gravy.

(printable recipe)

I’m curious to know how many of you have made this. Am I really the last one on earth to discover this beauty?

Friday, February 4, 2011

honey pecan loaf

This honey pecan bread is a brand new recipe. Well, new to me at least. I found it in an old cookbook called “Soupcon [pronounced 'soup's on'] – Seasonal Samplings from the Junior League of Chicago,” copyright 1974. I own a few Junior League cookbooks, and they never let me down. My Easy Cheesy Chicken Casserole comes from a Detroit Junior League Cookbook, and that casserole never lets me down either!   I would imagine that if a person is going to submit a recipe to be published in a substantial cookbook, chances are it will be pretty good. I’ll be making more things from “Soupcon.”

This was really, really good toasted and slathered with orange marmalade. We’ve been munching on it all week. It would be perfect served with a salad or soup luncheon. Very unusual.

Here’s what you need:
¾ C milk (I always use skim)
¼ C orange juice
1 t grated orange zest
1 C honey
¼ C sugar ( I think this could be eliminated….)
¼ C butter
2 eggs
2 ¼ C flour
1 t baking soda
½ slat
½ cinnamon
¼ t nutmeg
1/8 t cloves
1 C chopped pecans
¼ C brown sugar
½ t cinnamon
¼ chopped pecans

Here’s what you do:
Combine milk, orange juice, zest, honey, sugar and butter in a sauce pan. Heat and stir until all melted together. Cool. 

Stir honey mixture into eggs a tiny bit at a time so the eggs don’t ‘scramble.’ Mix very well after each addition.

Add dry ingredients to honey mixture: flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Mix well. 
Stir in 1 C of pecans.

Pour batter into a greased loaf pan.

For the topping: Mix the remaining nuts with the brown sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over the top of the bread.

Bake for 50 – 60 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Cool bread in pan for about 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack.  Mine was just the tiniest bit over baked…. bummer….. so watch yours closely.

What are some of your favorite quick breads to make? Ever get tired of always making banana bread?