Tuesday, August 30, 2011

chicken fiero

This chicken is really tender, creamy and yummy.  It's really nice served with a warm tortilla.  I'm positive I found this recipe at allrecipes.com a while back but I can't find it any longer.  I adjusted it to make it a little lower in fat so I'll just record what I did tonight.

chicken fiero
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I filleted mine)
8 ounces light cream cheese, softened
1 (4 ounce) can green chiles
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 cup enchilada sauce
1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese

Lay chicken breasts in the bottom of a casserole.  In a bowl, combine cream cheese, green chiles, chili powder, enchilada sauce and cheddar cheese.  Pour over chicken breasts.  Bake at 350 for 40 minutes.

blackberry cinnamon rolls

I'm almost shaking from excitement as I post this recipe for BLACKBERRY CINNAMON ROLLS.  They are sensational.  This could be the reason our family moved to Oregon.  If there's any one thing I love about Oregon is that this state will never run out of wild blackberries.  They are absolutely everywhere!  I spotted a recipe card on my friend Lindsy's counter when I dropped something by for her and noticed it was for these rolls.  I admitted to being nosey (come on, it was a recipe card...) and asked for the recipe.  Please friends, don't make me ask for great recipes.  Just send them my way!

blackberry cinnamon rolls (my friend Lindsy K.)
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 1/2 cups flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup milk
2 cups blackberries
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons sugar

Melt 1/2 cup butter in 10" round dish (I used a pie plate and placed it in the oven as it preheated at 350).  Heat sugar and water in a pan- dissolve.  Turn off heat.
Mix flour and baking powder.  Cut in 1/2 cup butter.  Add 1/3 cup milk.  Knead.
Roll out to an 11x9 rectangle- 1/4" thick.
Sprinkle cinnamon and berries on top and roll it up.
Cut into 1 1/2" slices.
Put into melted butter in round dish.
Pour sugar/water mixture over the rolls, getting in cracks.  (Yes, it looks like they're swimming in butter/sugar/water!).
Bake at 350 for 45 minutes.  Sprinkle with sugar and bake 15 more minutes.  Enjoy!

What I have to say- I forgot to sprinkle them with sugar and bake for 15 more minutes but they were perfect anyway.

halibut and summer vegetables en papillote

This was a really mild dish with a nice flavor.  I served it with brown jasmine rice and it felt so healthy unlike the enormous cheeseburger from the fast food joint I succumbed to the other day (sometimes you just have to!).  Make sure you pour all the juices from the papillote onto your plate so you can enjoy all the flavor.

halibut and summer vegetables en papillote (Food and Wine magazine, September 2011)
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon thyme leaves (I used fresh rosemary)
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons butter
4 (6-ounce) halibut steaks, about 1" thick
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 lemon, thinly sliced into 12 rounds
1/4 cup Nicoise olives (I used green)
5 baby zucchini, quartered lengthwise
1 teaspoon ground coriander seeds (totally forgot!)

Preheat the oven to 350.  On a baking sheet, toss the tomatoes with the oil, vinegar adn thyme.  Arrange the tomatoes cut side up and season with salt and pepper.  Bake the tomatoes for 45 minutes, until slightly dried.
In a large skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter.  Season the halivut with salt and pepper and add to the skillet.  Cook over moderately high heat until lightly browned on one side, about 3 minutes; transfer to a plate.
Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter to the skillet and cook over moderate heat until it just starts to brown, about 2 minutes.  Remove from the heat, stir in the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.
Lay four 15-inch-long sheets of parchment paper on a work surface.  Arrange 3 lemon slices in the center of each sheet and top with a halibut steak, seared side up.  Scatter the tomatoes, olives and zucchini evenly around the fish, spoon on the butter sauce and sprinkle with the coriander.  Fold the parchment over the fish and vegetables and fold the edge over itself in small pleats to seal.  Transfer the papillotes to a baking sheet.  Bake for 15 minutes until slightly puffed.  Snip the parchment open with scissors and serve.  Be careful not to burn yourself- there is steam inside!

What I have to say- I couldn't find parchment paper at the store I was at so used aluminum foil.  Worked just fine as far as I could tell!

Monday, August 29, 2011

oven roasted asparagus

I think asparagus might be one of my top three favorite vegetables and I always forget to pick it up at the grocery store.  This recipe is terrific and my husband and I polished it off without any help from the kids- they got to eat peas.  They'll always eat peas! 

oven roasted asparagus (allrecipes.com)
1 bunch thin asparagus spears, trimmed
3 tablespoons olive oil (I used 1 tablespoon)
1 1/2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon lemon juice (I used a roasted lemon from our steak with olive salsa dish)

Preheat an oven to 425 degrees.  Place the asparagus into a mixing bowl and drizzle with the olive oil.  Toss to coat the spears then sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, garlic, salt and pepper.  Arrange the asparagus onto a baking sheet in a single layer.  Bake in the preheated oven until just tender 12 to 15 minutes depending on thickness.  Sprinkle with lemon juice just before serving.

spicy chicken sandwiches with cilantro lime mayo

This sandwich is delicous!!

spicy chicken sandwiches with cilantro lime mayo (myrecipes.com)
1/4 cup egg substitute
3 tablespoons hot sauce
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 (6 ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
4 1/2 ounces baked tortilla chips (about 6 cups)
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 (2 ounce) Kaiser rolls, split
12 (1/8-inch-thick) red onion slices
4 lettuce leaves
1/4 cup reduced fat mayonnaise
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
1 garlic clove, minced

To prepare mayo, combine mayo, cilantro, lime juice and garlic.
To prepare chicken, combine egg substitute, hot sauce, oregano and salt in a large zip-top plastic bag.  Cut chicken breast halves in half horizontally to form 4 cutlets.  Add chicken to bag; seal.  Marinate in refrigerator 2 hours or up to 8 hours, turning bag occasionally.
Place tortilla chips in a food processor (I pounded them), process 1 minute until ground.  PLace ground chips in a shallow dish.
Working with one cutlet at a time, remove chicken from marinade, allowing excess to drip off.  Coat chicken completely in chips.  Set aside.  Repeat procedure with remaining chicken and chips.
Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Add olive oil to pan, swirling to coat.  Add chicken to pan; cook 3 minutes on each side (it took longer, trust me) or until browned and done.  Spread mayo evenly over cut sides of rolls.  Layer bottom half of each roll with 3 onion slices, 1 lettuce leaf and 1 chicken cutlet; top with top halves of rolls.

soft iced lime cookies

These cookies are yummy; they melt in your mouth.  They are flaky and buttery like a shortbread and who doesn't love a glaze?

lime cookies (blog: Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice)
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon lime zest
1 teaspoon fresh squeezed lime juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup all purpose flour
3/4 to 1 cup confectioners' sugar
1-2 teaspoons lime juice
1-2 teaspoons milk or cream

In a medium bowl on low speed mix butter, sugar, zest, juice and salt together (I mixed by hand).  ON low speed mix in the flour (I did this by hand too).  Cover and refrigerate for 1/2 to 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Scoop teaspoonfuls of dough and roll into a ball with your hands and place on baking sheets, 1 1/2" apart.
Bake the cookies 10 to 12 minutes until set in the middle and lightly brown around the edges.  Cool on pan for 5 minutes, remove to wire rack and cool completely.
Whisk glaze ingredients together in a small bowl starting with the smaller amounts first and adding more juice, milk or sugar until it reaches the consistency that is easy to spread.  Dip tops of cookies into glaze (worked best for me) or use a butter knife to spread over top.

What I have to say- I haven't adjusted to baking in my new ovens yet so 3/4 of the way through baking I had to use the bottom of a glass to smoosh the cookies down to make sure the centers baked because they didn't look like they were going to spread on their own.  I"m glad I made a double batch because I was able to make two dozen.  I'd have only gotten a dozen out of the recipe as written.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

herbed chicken parmesan

My kids raved about this chicken and I thought it was pretty darn good.  My husband asked, "Is this pizza chicken?"  It was pretty tasty.  I thought the balsamic vinegar was a very nice addition to the pasta sauce.  I'll be having leftovers for breakfast tomorrow morning for sure.

herbed chicken parmesan (myrecipes.com, a Cooking Light recipe)
1/3 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese, divided
1/4 cup dry breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1 large egg white, lightly beaten
1 pound chicken breast tenders
1 tablespoon butter
1 1/2 cups bottled fat-free tomato-basil pasta sauce
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/3 cup shredded provolone cheese

Preheat broiler.  Combine 2 tablespoons of Parmesan, breadcrumbs, parsley, basil and 1/8 teaspoon salt in a shallow dish.  Place egg white in a shallow dish.  Dip each chicken tender in egg white; dredge in the breadcrumb mixture.  Melt butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add chicken; cook 3 minutes on each side or until done.  Set aside.
Combine 1/8 teaspoon salt, pasta sauce, vinegar and pepper in a microwave-safe bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap; vent.  Microwave sauce mixture at HIGH 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated.  Pour the sauce over chicken in pan.  Sprinkle evenly with the remaining Parmesan and provolone cheese.  Wrap handle of pan with foil and broil 2 minutes or until the cheese melts.

kamanu's salmon dish

This is the delicious salmon the Loos made for me for my birthday dinner last month.  It was soooo good and if you look at the ingredients, it's so simple- perfect!  My mouth is watering as I remember what it tasted like.  I wish I had picked up some salmon while I was at the grocery store today.

kamanu's salmon dish (an original Loo family recipe)
3 salmon boneless fillets (they get theirs at Costco)
3 large onions
Lawry's seasoned salt
2 tablespoons olive oil

Thaw 3 salmon fillets.  Sprinkle with Lawry's seasoned salt (coat pretty heavily).  Set aside.  Dice onions and place in olive oil in a heavy skillet that has a tight fitting lid.  Sprinkle onions with Lawry's seasoned salt.  Cook and stir until onions start to become transparent.  Slide onions to the side and slip a fillet into the skillet.    Push onions on top of salmon making space for another fillet.  Continue this process until all the fillets have been placed into the pan and onions are covering the fillets.  Cook on medium heat for about 10 minutes then place on low for about 10 to 15 more minutes.  Salmon is done when it flakes easily with a fork.  Serve over rice.

Monday, August 22, 2011

peaches and cream bars

I could hardly wait to post these peaches and "dream" bars.  They are outstanding.  I served them when our friends Tom and Misty and their little girls came to visit over the weekend.  The crust is like a beautiful shortbread and the rest is just as dreamy.  (It didn't hurt that I used some of the most delicious peaches I've ever tasted.  I love Trader Joe's!)  Looks are a little deceiving- this is a hearty dessert.

peaches and cream bars (blog: Taste and Tell)
3 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, chilled

4 large eggs
2 cups sugar
1 cup sour cream
3/4 cup all purpose flour
pinch of slat
2 pounds peaches, pitted and sliced thin (about 5 large peaches)

Preheat the oven to 350.  Grease a 9x13 pan with cooking spray; set aside.
Combine the flour, sugar and salt until combined.  Add the butter and use a pastry cutter or knives to cut into small pieces until the mixture appears crumbly.
Take out 1 1/2 cups of the mixture and set aside.  Press the remaining mixture into the prepared pan.  Bake in the preheated oven until golden brown 12 to 15 minutes.  Let cool for at least 10 minutes.
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar.  Add in the sour cream, flour and salt.  Fold in the sliced peaches.  Pour over the cooked crust.  Take the remaining 1 1/2 cups of the dry mixture and sprinkle over the top of the peaches.  Bake until the top is lightly browned and the filling is set, 45 to 50 minutes.  Cool at least 1 hour before cutting into bars.

What I have to say- I don't appreciate pie or desserts with fruit in them when they are served warm.  I refrigerated my peaches and cream bars until they were nice and cold. Mmmm.... 

Friday, August 19, 2011

chicken breast supreme

I didn't know this until recently that my Grandma Bea was a food columnist back in the day.  She said she could walk into ZCMI and take whatever she wanted to use for props in the photos that were taken then inserted into the newspaper.  Oh how I would have loved that.  She got to choose all the recipes or create her own.  This is a recipe she got from a dear friend of hers.

chicken breast supreme (adapted from my Grandma Bea)
1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 chicken breasts
1/4 cup butter
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 1/2 cups half and half or light cream
1-2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
1 cup Swiss cheese, shredded
1/2 cup chopped parsley for garnish

Combine flour, paprika and salt to coat chicken.  In a large skillet in hot butter, brown breasts on both sides.  Arrange in a 9x13 dish.  Mix cornstarch with half and half and lemon peel.  Stir into drippings in skillet.  Cook stirring over low heat until thick.  Pour over chicken.  Bake at 350 degrees uncovered for 50 minutes.  Sprinkle with cheese and bake until melted.

lettuce and spinach salad

This recipe comes from the best Relief Society President I've ever known.  When I moved into the Hershey ward, Nidia made me feel like I was super special.  She probably made everyone feel the same way she made me feel and that makes her ever more fantastic.  I don't think there's anyone in the entire world who doesn't adore Nidia.  I love this salad because it's her recipe, and because it's DELICIOUS.  Nidia, thank you for tearing up when I moved away.  That made me feel extra special!!

lettuce and spinach salad (my friend Nidia)
1 prewashed salad bag of baby spinach
1 prewashed salad bag of romaine
1/8 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 tablespoon freshly grated onion
3 tablespoons vinegar
1/2 cup salad oil (I halved it to 1/4 cup and added a couple tablespoons water)
1/2 tablespoon poppy seeds
8 slices cooked bacon, crunchy and crumbled
3/4 cup large curd cottage cheese

Put spinach and lettuce in large salad bowl.  Mix together all salad dressing ingredients from sugar to poppy seeds in separate small bowl.  Pour half of salad dressing on the greens and toss.  Add bacon, cottage cheese and the rest of the dressing and toss.

carrots with thyme

These are simple to make and pretty tasty.  The first time I made them my kids actually fought over the last couple carrots.

carrots with thyme (Everyday Food Magazine, October 2009 or marthastewart.com)
1 1/2 pounds carrots, cut into 1/2-inch slices
1 tablespoon butter
4 sprigs thyme (I used 1/2 teaspoon dry thyme)
1/2 cup water
coarse salt and ground pepper

In a large skillet, combine carrots, butter, thyme, water; season with coarse salt and ground pepper.  Bring to a boil over high and cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid is absorbed and carrots are tender, 7 to 9 minutes.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

homemade blueberry jam

When my sister-in-law and her 5 cute boys came to visit us over the weekend we went blueberry picking.  I had wanted to make blueberry jam (or any kind of jam) this summer but it seemed like a whole lot of work and I was dragging my feet so I was glad when my sister-in-law suggested we make jam together.  We busied ourselves in the kitchen and had a good time.

homemade blueberry jam (MCP, from the makers of Sure Jell Premium Fruit Pectin)
3 3/4 cups crushed berries
1 (1.75 ounce) box fruit pectin
6 cups sugar
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 cup water

Crush fruit using a potato masher.  Measure exact amount of fruit into 6-or 8-quart saucepot.  Stir in lemon juice and water.   Stir in 1 box of pectin into fruit.  Bring mixture to full rolling boil (a boil that doesn't stop bubbling when stirred) on high heat, stirring constantly.  Stir in sugar quickly.  Return to full rolling boil and boil exactly 4 minutes, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat.  Skim off any foam with a metal spoon.  Ladle quickly in prepared jars, filling to within 1/8 inch of tops.  Wipe jar rims and threads.  Cover with lids.  Screw bands tightly.  Place jars in steamer.  Cover; bring water to gentle boil.  Process jams 10 minutes.  Remove jars and place upright on a towel to cool completely.  After jars cool, check seals by pressing middle of lid with finger.  If lid springs back, lid is not sealed and refrigeration is necessary.

Monday, August 15, 2011

kaluha pork

I loved this pork so much that my friend Mandy brought some to me for my birthday one year.  She got the recipe from a Samoan friend of hers who has been in the catering business for years.  I either serve mine with steamed jasmine rice or on buns with some BBQ sauce.  Mandy has a great food blog at Gourmet Mom on the Go.

kaluha pork (my friend Mandy)
pork loin (I get a large 9 pound pork loin from Costco)
kosher salt
liquid smoke
banana leaves or plastic wrap
aluminum foil

Rub the pork with kosher salt and sprinkle with liquid smoke.  If you have banana leaves available, wrap them with the leaves.  Otherwise, plastic wrap works.  After wrapping in plastic wrap of leaves, wrap with aluminum foil.  Place in 9x13 cake pan or broiling pan and bake at 200 degrees overnight (10-12 hours).  Take out of oven and shred the pork- do not discard the liquid.

Friday, August 12, 2011

ham breakfast casserole

One of my very favorite breakfast casseroles that I first tried at a mom's group. 

ham breakfast casserole (my friend Emily B.)
12 slices white bread
4 cups ham, cubed
1 cup grated sharp cheese
5 eggs
2 cups milk
1 teaspoon prepared mustard

1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 cup sour cream
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese
3 ounce can sliced mushrooms, optional

Trim bread crusts; butter bread.  Place 6 slices butter side down in 9x13 pan.  Place half of ham over bread then half of cheese.  Place remaining 6 slices of bread butter side up.  Cover with remaining ham and cheese.  Beat eggs, milk and mustard and pour over layers.  Refrigerate overnight.  Bake at 325 degrees for 40 minutes.  Add sauce and bake 20 minutes more.  Garnish with paprika.

100% whole wheat pizza dough

Some friends invited us over to their home for "Pizza Friday" last week.  I was happy when Angeli told me she made a 100% whole wheat crust as that is what I enjoy most.  She used this recipe and for the pizza sauce she used Sis. Castellano's homemade Italian marinara sauce combined with 1 can of tomato paste and it was excellent.  She made a Hawaiian pizza which I hadn't had in years so of course I had to run out and get some canadian bacon and pineapple a.s.a.p. to make my own at home because it hit the spot.  When I made it at home my husband said he preferred white over whole wheat but that came as no surprise.  Next time I'll make both and we'll see who lives longer...

100% whole wheat pizza dough (my friend Angeli)
1 cup warm water
2 1/4 teaspoons yeast
2 5/8 cups whole wheat flour (for white dough simply use 3 cups white flour)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
all purpose flour as needed for kneading

Stir together warm water and yeast and let sit for 5 minutes.  Stir together the flour and salt then add yeast mixture and olive oil.  Stir together for about one minute then knead for 5 minutes or up to 10 by hand.  Let rise, covered tightly, in a greased bowl for about an hour and a half.  Meanwhile, preheat oven to 500 degrees.
Knead for one minute on a lightly floured surface, then let sit for 15 minutes lightly covered before rolling.  Transfer to a pizza paddle dusted with cornmeal before adding toppings.  Slide onto preheated pizza stone and bake 10 to 12 minutes.

Monday, August 8, 2011

blueberry muffins

The first week our family moved into our new home my visiting teacher brought me these freshly made blueberry muffins.  They were the most delicious blueberry muffins I'd ever tasted and my husband wholeheartedly agreed that they were indeed the best.  It turns out she has an awesome job- she's the cook for one of the frat houses on campus.  She picks the menu, grocery shops, prepares the meals then leaves, leaving the dirty dishes for the boys to clean.  Dream job if you ask me!  I bet those frat boys love her dearly.  I begged for the recipe and to my delight Sis. Jesse delivered the recipe along with some blueberries so I can make them for my family (photos above are the muffins she brought us when we first moved in).  I was surprised to see they are made with half white flour and half whole wheat- usually I can taste a grainy texture when whole wheat is used but I didn't detect it at all in this recipe.  They are incredibly light.

blueberry muffins (Sis. Jesse)
1 cup flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup frozen blueberries
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup milk
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Heat oven to 425 degrees.  Grease muffin pans.  Combine flours, sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.  Combine melted butter and milk, eggs and vanilla.  Add to dry ingredients and stir just until well moistened.  Fold in blueberries.  Spoon batter into greased muffin pan.  Bake at 425 for 15 minutes.  Makes 12 muffins.

What I have to say- Sis. Alloah drizzled a glaze over the top of her muffins making them extra delicious.  She combined powdered sugar, lemon juice and a little milk until nice and smooth.

Friday, August 5, 2011

cherry coffee cake

My neighbor brought this cake to brunch this morning and it was absolutely delicious.  I don't know what else to say except I can't wait to make it myself as soon as I find a little gadget that takes the pits out of the cherries like the gadget she used.  I didn't know those existed!

cherry coffee cake (my neighbor Sarah found it at allrecipes.com)
1 1/2 cup cherries, pitted and halved (Sarah used more than that)
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2/3 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Grease and lightly flour a 10" tube pan.  Place cherries in a bowl and tossgently with 2 tablespoons flour.  Set aside.
Stir together the flour, salt, baking powder and cinnamon in a medium bowl.  Beat together the oil, eggs, sugar, vanilla extract and milk until smooth in a large mixing bowl.  Stir in the flour mixture until smooth.  Fold in the cherries.  Pour batter into prepared pan.
Bake in a preheated oven until toothpick inserted into cake comes out clean, about 60 minutes.  Cool in pan 10 minutes then turn out onto a serving plate or wire rack.

ham and cheese omelet casserole

This casserole is so quick and the ingredients are simple.  This is the recipe I decided on when I did a quick search on allrecipes.  I'll make it again!

ham and cheese omelet casserole (adapted from allrecipes.com)
8 eggs
1 cup milk
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups diced ham
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2-3 scallions, sliced

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Beat eggs in a large bowl, making sure they are mixed very well and have a "frothy" top.  Add the milk, salt and pepper.  Mix well.  Stir in ham, then add cheese pieces and stir well.  Pour mixture into a well greased 4 quart casserole dish and bake in the preheated oven for 50 to 60 minutes or until top is lightly browned.

no knead tomato focaccia

This recipe is magnificent- Hall of Fame.  I think I posted a focaccia recipe earlier this year and I'm going to delete it.  This bread is amazing.  First of all, it's incredibly simple to make.  Second of all, it's so good and oh so versatile.  I made a tomato focaccia then decided to make an onion focaccia.  You can add whatever you like to make it fabulous- sun dried tomatoes, roasted red peppers, fresh peppers, mushrooms, etc.  Be creative and enjoy this recipe!!  I decided to make more for a brunch this morning because it was so simple and good.

no knead tomato focaccia (blog:  An A For Effort)
3 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon dry yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups water
3 tablespoons light virgin oil

tomato topping
2 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half and juice squeezed out
1 garlic clove finely minced
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2-3 tablespoons extra virgin oil
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese (I used feta)
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 to 3/4 cup smoked mozzarella, diced

The night before:
In a bowl, combine the flour, yeast and salt.
Pour in 1 1/2 cups of water, 3 tablespoons oil and mix.  Pull together the dough using your hands or a wooden spoon.  Scrape any excess flour from the bottom and sides of the bowl, making sure the ingredients are well incorporated and form into a ball.  The dough will have a stringy texture.
Place a piece of plastic wrap on the bowl to avoid the dough from drying out.  Allow to rise in a warm, dry and draft free place for at least 12 hours and up to 24 hours.

The next day:
Transfer the dough to a greased and floured 12" pizza tray.  Dust the dough lightly with flour and with your hands spread out to the edges of your pizza pan, forming a disk.  Drizzle with small amount of oil and season with salt.  Place in a draft free place to allow to rise a second time for 1-2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees and prepare the tomato topping.  Place the topping ingredients in a bowl and stir together.  Spread the tomato topping gently on the focaccia dough.  Bake in a preheated 500 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes.

butterscotch bundt cake

My friend Chrissy made my family stroganoff and this awesome bundt cake when my 3rd baby was born (I always remember a good meal especially when it's associated with a great event).  It's one of my favorite bundt cakes.  I love bundt cakes- they're so easy to make and pretty.  My neighbor recently adopted a baby from Ethiopia so we took them dinner last night- cheesy garlic chicken, rice, tomato focaccia, onion focaccia, fruit and this cake.  My neighbor friend said she might have to adopt more children to get more meals like this.  I'm ready when she is!

butterscotch bundt cake (my friend Chrissy in Hershey)
1 yellow cake mix
1 package small instant butterscotch pudding
4 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup oil
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup chopped pecans
3 teaspoons cinnamon
4 1/2 tablespoons sugar

Preheat oven to 350.  Mix the cake ingredients in a separate bowl.  Mix the filling ingredients.  Pour half the cake batter in a bundt pan then put the filling in followed by the rest of the cake mix.  Bake for 45 minutes.  Cool on wire rack.

betty mae's caramel corn

Honest to goodness I have never come across a better recipe for caramel corn. It's my grandma's recipe.

betty mae's caramel corn (my grandma)
2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup Karo syrup
1/2 pound butter
2 bags butter microwave popcorn, popped and loose kernels removed
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
dash of salt

Cook brown sugar, Karo syrup and butter on low heat stirring constantly until mixture just starts to bubble.  Do not boil.  Add a dash of salt and 1/2 teaspoon baking soda and stir until mixed well and the color the the caramel lightens a bit.   Pour over popcorn.  Spread on a greased baking sheet.  Bake for 1 hour at 200 degrees.  Stir occasionally.  Let cool.  Break pieces apart and enjoy!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

chocolate surprise cupcakes with "perfectly chocolate" chocolate frosting

Oh my, this is a good cupcake...the best in all the world.  I was going to make this cupcake for a friend's birthday last week until I realized she doesn't eat chocolate but I haven't been able to get this cupcake off my mind.  My mom made this cupcake when I was a little girl and it was always my very favorite.  Somehow she got the "surprise" to stay in the middle (I think I'm pretty generous with the surprise!)  When I called to ask a question about the recipe my sister was jealous that I was making them as they are her favorite too.  My kids and husband wholeheartedly agreed that they are a favorite!!

chocolate surprise cupcakes (my mom)
Mix together:
3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
1 teaspon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
2/3 cup oil
2 cups water
2 tablespoons vinegar
2 teaspoons vanilla

Fill cupcake papers 2/3 full of above mixture (I filled 1/2 full).
Mix together until fluffy:
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
1 egg
1 package chocolate chips
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

Drop one heaping teaspoon of cream cheese mixture into each cupcake (I dropped 1 tablespoon!).  Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.  Frost with chocolate frosting when cool. (I was able to make 32 cupcakes.)

"perfectly chocolate" chocolate icing (Hershey's)
1 stick butter
2/3 cup Hershey's cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Melt butter.  Stir in cocoa.  Alternatley add powdered sugar nad milk, beating with a hand mixer to spreading consistency.  Add small amount of additional milk, if needed.  Stir in vanilla.  Makes about 2 cups frosting.

What I have to say- if you want to frost the cupcakes all fancy like I did, double the recipe!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

spinach craisin salad

For my birthday dinner the Loos made us a salmon dish with rice that was so good, veggie bean burgers with mango salsa and this delicious salad.  It was super-delicious and my husband usually isn't one to rave about salads, possibly because the salads I make are pretty boring, but he raved about this one.

spinach craisin salad (my friend Shelli)
1 bag of baby spinach
1 head green leaf lettuce
1 apple diced (you can leave the skin on, Honey Crisp, Braeburn, Jonagold or Fuji are recommended)
2 green onions
1 pound bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 1/2 cup cashews or slivered almonds (you can buy honey roasted salad almonds)
5 mushrooms, sliced
1 package craisins (use half the package or proportion it to the greens)
grated Parmesan cheese

3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon dry and wet mustard
1 teaspon salt
2 teaspoons dried onions
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1 cup canola oil
1 tablespoon poppy seeds

Combine all ingredients in a quart jar.  Don't refrigerate- it will separate.  Shake up well.  Add dressing just before you serve.  This recipe makes a large bath and you won't use all of it so you  may want to half the recipe.  It keeps well, a month or two.

spam musubi (teriyaki sauce recipe)

My friend Shelli invited my kids and me to walk a trail, feed some ducks and have a picnic lunch to celebrate my birthday.  I was spoiled because she also invited our family to dinner that night.  Lunch took me back to my days in Hawaii.  Shelli's husband is half Hawaiian so she has learned how to make real Hawaiian dishes.  When I student taught kindergarten in Hawaii the cutie pies would come into class in flip flops and for lunch the kids often times pulled out spam musubi.  Seeing them bite into them always made my mouth water.  If you're not sure what spam musubi is Wikipidia says, " Spam Musubi is a very popular snack and lunch food in Hawaii made in the tradition of Japanese onigiri, also known as omusubi. Spam musubi is composed of a block of rice with a slice of grilled Spam on top and nori (seaweed) wrapping to hold it together."  The most popular place to find this dish in Hawaii was the local 7-Eleven store.  The night before my husband surprised our family and took us to a new little joint here called "Hawaiian Grinds" to celebrate his new job.  I felt like I walked into Hawaii and could almost hear the ocean waves in the background.  We enjoyed Shoyu Chicken, Chicken Katsu, Barbecue Beef, Saimin and Kalua Pig and Cabbage.  My kids loved it but the best part for them was the shaved ice with vanilla ice cream at the bottom.  By the end of the meal it cost quite a bit for dinner at a shack-type diner but the memories made it so worth it.  I feel I got the Hawaiian vacation I'd been in the mood for (so we actually saved money by going there).
This spam musubi was delicious.  Here is the teriyaki recipe Shelli used to marinade and boil the spam in before she made the musubi. 

loo's teriyaki sauce (from my friend Shelli)
1 cup shoyu (they use Aloha brand)
1 cup sugar
1/2 tablespoon sesame seed oil
1 tablespon sesame seeds, optional
1/2 teaspoon powdered garlic
1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger

Stir with a wire whisk and marinate with chicken or beef (or spam for musubi!).  For 8 or more double the recipe.

toffee square cookies

Let me introduce to you my new favorite cookie- the white chocolate toffee square cookie.  My friend Shelli brought these to the park as part of my birthday lunch last week and I didn't expect that this cookie would turn out to be possibly my most favorite cookie ever.  Who would ever believe that a girl who comes from a line of chocoholics would prefer the white and not the dark chocolate?!  I don't eat many sweets but I had a hard time resisting this cookie.  Shelli even delivered some more to us on Sunday and I've been nibbling on them a little at a time, savoring each bite.  I left a half of a cookie on the high shelf in our pantry and noticed it was gone yesterday which meant my husband found them. He agrees that this is an excellent cookie.

toffee square cookies (my friend Shelli)
1 cup margarine, shortening or butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg beaten, yolk only
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 (6 ounce) package chocolate chips (try white chocolate!!)
1 package pecans or walnuts, optional

Cream shortening and sugar and add egg and vanilla.  Sift flour and salt and stir in.  Spread 1/4" thick on ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes.  After baking, sprinkle chocolate chips over cookies and let melt.  Spread.  Sprinkle with nuts then cut into 1 1/2" squares.