Monday, June 7, 2010

Soft lemonade Cookies

Soft Lemonade Cookies

These cookies were my favorite thing from Kevin's change of command reception. They were delicious. When I tried the first batch, I thought they'd be fabulous with lemoncello icing. I need to dig that recipe up and give it a try.

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 can (6 ozs) frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed and divided
Additional sugar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
1. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
2. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
3, Combine flour and baking soda; add to the creamed mixture alternately with 1/3 c of lemonade concentrate, beating well after each addition.
4. Drop by teaspoonfuls 2 in apart onto parchment lined baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes.
5. Remove to wire racks. Brush warm cookies with remaining lemonade concentrate; sprinkle with sugar and let cool.

Chocolate Raspberry Cookies

Chocolate Raspberry Cookies

1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips, melted and cooled
1/2 cup raspberry jam
3 cups all purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup vanilla or white chips

Preheat over to 375 degrees
1. In a large mixing bowl (I used my KitchenAid mixer), cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy.
2. Add in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
3. Beat in melted chocolate and raspberries.
4. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt; gradually add to the creamed mixture. Stir in white chocolate chips.
5. Drop by teaspoonfuls 2 in apart onto a parchment lined baking sheet.
6. Bake at 375 for 10-12 minutes or until edges begin to brown. Remove to wire racks to cool.

Raspberry Swirl Cheesecake Squares

Raspberry Swirl Cheesecake Squares

1 3/4 cups crushed graham crackers (about 28 crackers)
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
4 packages (8 ozs each) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3 tbsp raspberry jam

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
1. Crust: In a bowl, combine cracker crumbs, sugar and butter; press onto the bottom of a foil lined 11 in X 7 in baking dish. Set aside.
2. In a large mixing bowl (I used my KitchenAid mixer for this), beat the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until smooth.
3. Add eggs, beat on low speed just until combined.
4.Pour cream cheese mixture into baking dish and spread evenly.
5. Drizzle jam evenly over the filling. Cut through filling with a knife to swirl the jam.
6. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the center is almost set. Cool on a wire rack for 1 hour, then refrigerate overnight.
7. Let stand at room temperature before slicing. Cut into even squares of the desired size.

Slow Cooking Dinner: Lemon Pepper Ribs

Kevin has been bugging me for a while to make Ribs- which is problematic because I emphatically do not like commercial BBQ sauce. He likes his ribs SMOTHERED in BBQ sauce.

I might have found a compromise. Country Style bone in beef ribs were on sale today at the commissary for 1.29/lb so I picked up two packs of about 4 lbs each. This is my first Rib experiment. It isn't ready yet, but the house sure smells good.

Lemon Pepper Ribs

4 lbs beef or pork ribs
2 tbsp garlic powder
2 tbsp kosher salt
2 tbsp black pepper
juice of lemons


1. Cut the ribs to fit your stoneware.
2. In a small bowl, combine the garlic powder, salt and pepper. Rub the ribs with the dry mixture, covering all sides.
3. Put the ribs into the slow cooker. If you have extra seasoning, sprinkle it on top.
4. Juice lemons onto the ribs.
5. Cover and Cook on low for 7 to 10 hours, or on high for about 5 hours.


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Slow Cooking Dinner: Sausage and Vegetable Medley

4 cups vegetables (I had broccoli, cauliflower, celery and carrots)
2 cups sliced mushrooms
2 potatoes cubed
6 fully cooked sausage links
2 cups chicken broth
1/3 cup white wine
1 large handful baby spinach

*With a 4 qt slow cooker
1. Cut the vegetables into 2 inch cubes and place at the bottom of your slow cooker.
2. Slice the sausage and add on top.
3. Pour in the broth and wine.
4. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours, or on high for 4 hours.
5. Add a handful of baby spinach and turn to high for 15 minutes before serving.

**This has got to be one of the easiest dishes I make- and it's yummy. Today, I used Johnsonville's New Orlean's Spicy Smoked Sausage(it was on sale last week at the commissary!). I've really like Chicken and Apple Andouille and Italian sausage in the past. For kids, I would do a sweeter sausage. I used Bloom, a wonderful, not super sweet Riesling- since that's what I had on hand. Typically, a drier wine would be used but I use whatever I have in the wine fridge with positive results.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Slow Rise Baking: Pizza Dough

There is nothing better than homemade pizza. I love mine with olive oil, fresh sliced tomatoes, mozzarella and fresh basil. Grilling it as an extra crispness to the crust.

3 cups unbleached All Purpose White Flour
Generous 1 1/4 tsp table salt
1/2 tsp instant, fast rising or bread machine yeast
Scant 1 1/2 cups ice water
1 tbsp olive oil

First Rise:
1. In a large bowl, thoroughly stir together the flour, salt and yeast.
2. Vigorously stir in the water, scraping down the sides, just until thoroughly blended.
3. Stir in olive oil until evenly incorporated.
*If the mixture is too dry to mix, add in just enough water to facilitate mixing, as the dough should be firm. If the dough is soft, stir in enough flour to firm it.
4. Brush the top with olive oil, and cover bowl with plastic wrap.
Dough can be refrigerated for up to 10 hours before rising at cool room temperature for 4 to 12 hours.

Second Rise:
1. Stir the dough to deflate it.
2. Divide it in half using oiled kitchen shears. The dough portions can be used immediately, refrigerated for up to 12 hour, or frozen wrapped airtight for up to 1 month.
Each half makes one pizza.

20 minutes before baking time, place a rack on the lowest slot of the oven. Preheat to 500 degrees. Place a rimless baking sheet(or rimmed upside down)on the lowest rack.

1. Place dough portion on a oiled pizza pan or large sheet of spray coated baking parchment. Drizzle lightly with olive oil, then press and stretch the dough into an 11 1/2 to 12 inch round with oiled fingertips. If it is resistant and springs back, let it rest for a few minutes before continuing. Push dough outwards to slightly build up and thicken edges. Tent with non-stick spray coated foil and let rise for 25-45 minutes depending on whether you prefer a thin, slightly dense crust or a lighter, medium-thick one.

2. Place pizza pan with dough on the preheated baking sheet. Bake for 7 to 10 minutes or until dough begins to firm and puff up.

3. Remove from oven and spread the sauce to within 1/3" of the edge all around. Apply whatever toppings you would like. Return to the oven and bake until the top is bubbly and the edge is puffy and nicely browned, about 10 minutes longer. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and cool for 5 minutes before serving.

This got RAVE reviews from the husband..although for the future, he can easily eat a whole one by himself. I'll need to make more than one in order to have the leftovers that are so delicious.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Crock Pot Rotisserie Chicken

I love rotisserie style chicken. But I hate buying it at the grocery store. One- it's always so salty. Two- I can buy whole chicken quite a bit cheaper. This recipe made it a lot easier to prepare at home because I don't have to watch it. This is one of the single most versatile dishes I make. I use this chicken to add to sauces, soups, sandwiches and salads. I make it at least once a week on a day that I'm not using the crockpot for dinner.

Crock Pot Rotisserie Chicken

1 4-5 lb whole chicken
2 to 3 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp Italian Seasoning
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp black pepper
4 whole garlic cloves
1 onion, quartered


1. Using a 6 quart slow cooker, skin the chicken and remove the neck and innards from the cavity.

2. In a bowl, combine the salt, paprika, onion powder, thyme, Italian seasoning, cayenne and black pepper. Rub the mix all over the bird, inside and out. If desired, shove garlic cloves and onion quarters inside the bird. Place chicken breast side down into the slow cooker. Do not add water.

3. Cover and cook on high for four to five hours or on low for 8 hours. The meat is done when it is fully cooked and has reached the desired tenderness.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

From Scratch: Parmesan and Chive Cornbread

Parmesan and Chive Cornbread

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup Corn meal
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup skim milk
1/4 c vegetable oil
1 egg, beaten
handful fresh chives chopped
1/4 to 1/2 cup grated parmesan, to taste

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
2. Combine dry ingredients.
3. Stir in milk, oil and egg, mixing just until dry ingredients are moistened.
4. Fold in chives and parmesan
5. Pour batter into greased pan.
6. Bake 20-25 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.
Serve warm.

I liked this recipe but I think I would prefer a sharper cheese or herb. It was a little too subtle to stand up to the rather hearty chili I served it with. :) It was good, though. I never realized how simple corn bread was. Makes me feel a little silly for using the boxed mix.

I think one of my weekend projects is going to be to mix up a couple freezer bags of the dry ingredients. Make it just as simple to make "from scratch" corn bread as the boxed mix.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Home Made Bread

Our family has a taste for artisan bread....which happens to be quite expensive. I recently decided to try my hand at making breads at home, since they can take a big bite out of our grocery budget. I have always avoided baking for the most part at it seemed more chemistry than anything else- and that's not really my strong suit.

But once I started looking, I found the book Kneadlessly Simple by Nancy Baggett. The recipe's lack of kneading appealing, as was the stated intention of being easy!

My first shot at bread turned out wonderfully. It was easy, relatively mess-free, and the most challenging part was waiting to bake it. The slow-rise method featured in the book also means the steps are quite short. This made it easy to fit in when the baby was occupied or napping without eating up all my free time. The bread light, smooth, and rich with a wonderfully crunchy thin crust. This will definitely be a repeat!

Easy White Bread Loaves

6 1/2 cups unbleached white bread flour, plus more as needed
3 1/2 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tbsp table salt
1 tsp instant, fast rising or bread machine yeast
1/3 cup corn oil, canola oil or other flavorless vegetable oil
2 3/4 cups ice water

First Rise
1. In a *very* large bowl, thoroughly stir together the flour, sugar, salt and yeast.
2. In a medium bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the oil and ice water.
3. Thoroughly stir the mixture into the bowl with the flour, scraping down the sides until thoroughly blended. If the mixture is too dry to incorporate all the flour, a bit at a time, stir in just enough more water to blend the ingredients; don't over-moisten. If necessary, stir in more flour to stiffen it.
4. Brush or Spray the top with oil.
5. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
6. Rise options: Refrigerate the dough for 3 to 10 hours, then let rise at cool room temp (about 70) for 15 to 20 hours. If not refrigerating, let rise at cool room temp for 15 to 20 hours.

Second Rise
1. After 15 to 20 hour rise, vigorously stir the dough, adding more flour if necessary to yield very stiff dough.
2. Using well oiled kitchen shears or a serrated knife, cut dough in half, placing portions in 2 well-greased 8 1/2x4 1/2 (I used 9x5) loaf pans. Smooth and press the dough into the pans using a well-oiled rubber spatula or your fingertips.
3. Evenly brush or spray the dough tops with oil. Make a 1/2" deep slash lengthwise down the center of each loaf.
4. Tightly cover the pans with non-stick spray coated plastic wrap.
5. Rise Options: At warm room temp (80+) let rise for 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours. You can refrigerate from 3-24 hours, then let rise as previously noted. As dough rises, remove the plastic as the dough nears it and continue rise tunil the dough reaches 1/2" above the pan rims. Dust each loaf with 1 tbsp flour.

1. Place oven rack in lower third of oven and preheat oven to 425, let oven heat for 15 minutes.
2. Reduce oven temp to 400. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until tops are nicely browned. If loaves are over browning, the tops can be covered with foil. Loaves are done when a skewer inserted in the thickest part comes out with just a few crumbs or the center reads 208 to 210 on an instant read thermometer.
3. Cool pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then turn out loaves and let pans cool completely.

Bread will store at room temp for 2 to 3 days or may be frozen in airtight container for up to two months.

Monday, March 29, 2010

What's for Dinner- Brown Sugar Chicken

Another one from This one I didn't alter at all since I've never really made a recipe like this. I rarely use this much vinegar in a dish.

12 naked chicken thighs or 6 naked chicken breasts (I used breast meat)
1 c brown sugar, firmly packed
1 tsp black pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp soy sauce (I use gluten free, low sodium)
2/3 c white wine vinegar
1/4 c lemon-lime soda (I used 7 Up)

Written for a four qt crockpot

1. Place chicken into crock.
2. Cover with the brown sugar, black pepper, garlic, and soy sauce.
3. Add vinegar and soda (it bubbles)
4. Cover and cook on low for 6-9 hours or high for 4-5 hours. Cook until done and at desired tenderness.
**the longer it is cooked on low, the more tender the chicken will be.

I served it with Lundberg Organic Risotto Florentine. It is Gluten free, very easy to prepare and absolutely delicious! For some additional freshness, I sauteed half of a red onion and lightly steamed 6 ozs of sliced button mushrooms in beef stock, that I added to the risotto in the last few minutes. A really great dinner that made the whole house smell wonderful.

I didn't allow for quite enough time for the chicken to cook. While it was cooked through, it could have used another couple hours to really absorb the flavor. Kevin loved it though, and thought it would make the perfect base for a BBQ pulled chicken. We'll probably do that next. I think this recipe makes a wonderful, versatile chicken dish that I can make and use in multiple recipes.

big recommendation for this product, it will now be a staple in our house:

Outgrown Clothes

There is a duality to the experience of packing away a child's outgrown clothes. Yesterday, I buckled down and went through my little monkey's closet and drawers. Folding and packing away all the newborn, 3 and 6 month clothes. It was a bit of a shock to pull out some 12 month clothes and have to really consider whether to bring them out now or wait another couple months (I decided to wait although he's almost fitting them). It just doesn't seem possible that we're approaching a year. Granted we're still a few months away, but those clothes don't seem THAT big anymore.

The one that gave me the biggest pause was the monkey costume he wore for halloween. Since we call him the monkey, it was an obvious choice for a costume. But that particular costume was warm, soft, fuzzy fleece- every time we put it on him, he was so comfortable that he would fall right asleep.

Now, if we could just put that crib to good use......

Saturday, March 27, 2010

My kitchen smells amazing!

We're enjoying a gorgeous sunny day here. Windows are open, the dogs are willingly playing outside, and I see green in our potato planter!

Inside, my kitchen smells amazing. I'm roasting butternut squash for my ravioli (dinner tonight). I'm also trying out a new way of making broth. Typically, when I roast a whole chicken, I make broth from the carcass in my big stock pot. It is a bit time consuming. In one of my new favorite cookbooks, there is a recipe for slow cooker chicken broth. I decided to give it a try. There are a couple adaptations. I used the leftovers of a whole chicken I roasted (see Tahini Rubbed Chicken), celery salt instead of chopped celery ( I had finished my celery), and oregano, parsley and basil instead of Italian seasoning.

Chicken Broth

leftovers of a whole roast chicken
1 onion, chopped
1 tbsp (approx) celery salt
2 carrots, chopped
1 bunch green onions, chopped (I had already used a bit off the tops)
1 head of garlic, cloves peeled
3 bay leaves
Sprinkle each of dried basil, oregano, and parsley
6 cups water

1. Put the chicken carcass into slow cooker.
2. Nestle the chopped vegetables in with the chicken bones
3. Add peeled garlic cloves, bay leaves, seasoning, and water.
4. Cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours.
5. Remove stoneware from the heating element and let cool completely. Debone chicken and remove all the bones.
6. Scoop liquid and vegetables into a blender to "brothicize".
7. Pour blended liquid into freezer bags in manageable portions. Place bags on a baking sheet and freeze.

Friday, March 26, 2010

What's for Dinner- Chicken Corn Chowder

I love using leftovers in a new meal. Especially when I do it on purpose. In planning this weeks menu, I had planned to cook last night's whole roasted chicken. We ate the breasts from the chicken last night with some fabulous baby yukon gold mashed potatoes.

Tonight, I'm going to debone the rest of the chicken and use it in some Chicken Corn Chowder- which happens to be an absolute favorite of mine.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Tahini Rubbed Chicken

Tahini Rubbed Chicken

This was one of my "new uses for Tahini" recipes. It gave the chicken a really interesting, different dimension from my usual herb roasted chicken. And went perfectly with mashed potatoes.

1 whole chicken, cleaned
1 lemon
1 bunch green onions
1 tbsp tahini
1/2 c chicken broth
1 carrot, diced
1 small onion, diced
Fresh herbs ( I used tarragon, basil, thyme)

*Preheat oven to 425
1. Combine tahini, chicken broth, juice of 1/2 lemon in a mixing bowl.
2. Chop a handful of herbs and add to mixing bowl. Whisk until incorporated.
3. Stuff chicken cavity with both halves of lemon, fresh herbs, and half of the green onions. Tie drumsticks.
4. Season the outside of chicken with salt and pepper.
5. Spoon 1/2 cup of tahini mixture over the top of the chicken.
6. Roast chicken for 15 minutes at 425. Reduce heat to 350, baste chicken and roast for another 15 minutes.
7. Add diced onion and carrot to pan, baste chicken, and continue to cook for 45 minutes or until juices run clear (and meat temps to at least 160).
After removing from oven,let chicken rest for 10 minutes.

1. Melt 1/2 tbsp butter in a saucepan over med heat.
2. Whisk in the remaining tahini mixture.
3. Strain the juices from the roasting pan into gravy and mix well.
4. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Tahini- my new favorite ingredient

Do you have a random ingredient sitting in your fridge or pantry? The one you use in that one dish....enough to keep it around, but it shifts to the back because it's been a while since you made that dish.

Mine was tahini. I tend to have it around periodically for making hummus. Hummus is so easy to make that I feel guilty buying the prepared hummus in the grocery store (not to mention that I make mine with considerably less salt). But until recently, that was the only use I'd found for it.

I've been making an effort to really maximize what I get out of my grocery shopping by utilizing everything in my kitchen. So when I was looking for something to season kale, the tahini appeared to be a reasonable candidate.

So what is Tahini?

According to Cookthink:
"Tahini is a thick paste made from ground sesame seeds. Common in Middle Eastern cuisine, tahini is what brings that nutty richness to hummus, baba ghanoush and halvah. You can find tahini in a jar or can at most grocery stores. A fresh can usually needs stirring to mix the oil and paste."

Since that initial experiment, I've used tahini as the base for spice rub, tossed with veggies in an omelet, in an onion and potato saute, and in a vinagerette. I'm planning on dipping back into some of cookbooks- where I know I've seen recipes using tahini- to revisit those possibilities for this verstile sauce.

So, what's your under-utilized ingredient?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Chicken and Gravy Sandwhiches

Kevin saw this recipe on an episode of Rachel Ray on Food Network. I made a couple small adjustments to cut the fat a bit and for personal taste. It turned out very well and will be joining the regular rotation of dinners for us.

Chicken and gravy Sandwhiches

4 naked chicken breasts
1 bunch flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
3 lemons(juice of)
4 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped
4 pieces of baguette or sandwich rolls
2 tbsp butter
Stone Ground mustard
Chicken stock

1. Combine finely chopped garlic, finely chopped parsley, the juice of 3 lemons, and a drizzle of honey in a gallon freezer bag.
2. Whisk in just enough olive oil to mix marinade(about 4 tbsp for me), and salt and pepper to taste.
3. Add chicken breast to bag and massage to thoroughly cover chicken. Let marinate for 15 minutes.
4. Heat nonstick skillet over med high heat with 1 tbsp of marinade. When hot, add chicken.
5. Sear chicken until lightly brown on both sides and cooked through.
6. Slice cooked breasts into diagonal slices.
7. Dip chicken slices into gravy until well covered and use to fill baguette/sandwich roll.

1. Melt 2 tbsp of butter cut into thin pats over med heat in a saucepan.
2. Add in flour (approx 3 tbsp), salt and pepper.
3. Whisk flour until butter is completely absorbed and flour lightly browned.
4. Whisk in 2 c chicken stock until flour is dissolved and gravy is smooth.
5. Whisk in 1-2 tbsp stone ground mustard until smooth.
6. Simmer on low, stirring occaisionally, until needed.


I made a few changes from the original recipe that inspired it. I cut down on the amount of olive oil used in the marinade and the amount put in the pan. I also slightly reduced the amount of butter in the gravy. I also chose to use stone ground organic mustard instead of dijon mustard. I just prefer the taste.

We needed two chicken breasts for three sandwiches, leaving 2 chicken breasts that I'll incorporate into tonight's dinner. I also had almost 2 c of gravy leftover. So while the gravy is pretty fatty (with all that butter!), we probably only used a tbsp or so on each sandwich.
The original recipe served the sandwiches with "smashed potatoes", but Kevin wanted fries. The next time I make this, I'll probably grill the chicken, as I think that would better carmelize the honey in the marinade. The gravy is definitely a winner and will be making an appearance in other dishes I make.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

I'm Back!!

It's been a while!

I was able to spend about a month around the holidays visiting my parents. Those extra sets of hands really lighten the load. I also had the opportunity to work on a few projects that had fallen by the wayside at home. My mom was able to help me out with my attempt to learn to crochet (it's a lot easier when you can sit next to someone and watch!). I made a lot of progress on putting together a collection of family recipes and memories related to particular dishes. My youngest sister and Dad were able to spend some more time with my little monkey.

I am very lucky to have an exceptionally good natured baby boy. He loves people, is engaging, smiles constantly, and is generally in a good mood. He's growing well (and getting huge- where's that pause button). But we are still dealing with what we suspect is reflux. I say "suspect" because there wasn't a definitive diagnostic that brought us to that conclusion. More of "his symptoms point this direction, and this medication seems to work". Before starting on medication, he was taking very short naps ( rarely more than 40 minutes) and was in a persistent state of being overtired. Tagamet improved the sitaution somewhat, but he still wasn't napping. An appointment with a different ped (we wanted a fresh set of eyes) sent us home with a Rx for Zantac. The Zantac has seen a marked improvement. He now takes some longer naps and has less frequent vomitting. He is also more willing to spend time on his stomach. Now, we're just dealing with the pattern he has established of taking these short frequent naps. It doesn't translate into a whole lot of sleep or free time for mom! The time at my parents, the change of location, helped to shape a bit of behavior change.

Now, I'm back at home and getting the monkey and I back into the swing of things!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Years!

My 2010 started with a restless baby who decided that fireworks meant he should stay awake all night. So, New Years Day will be a low key one. After multiple moves (making almost across the country), a new baby, and plenty of uncertainty, my primary wish for 2010 is just a little less turbulence.