Monday, January 29, 2007

Soup's On!

Tonight was Miss America. This year, Miss Mississippi is from my hometown of Clinton. In fact, she lives less than a mile from where I lived...not that I know her or anything. She is super talented, elegant, graceful, and full of compassion for people with disabilities. Her platform centers around care for adults with mental disabilities. So, I watched the Miss America pageant with eager anticipation. Well, Taryn not only made top 10 but she made top 5 and got to perform her very difficult talent selection. I personally thought that she was the best of the top 5 but the judges didn't ask me. I also think that she would have answered her interview question better than the others did. I was glad Miss Oklahoma won even though I thought she totally blew her question. Anyway, Taryn, we are SO proud of you here in MS and you represented us well! Congrats!
Okay, now on to the food. It was SO cold here today. When I left to walk to class the grass was crunchy because it had frozen and it was still in the 20's. Since my roommate wasn't going to be here for supper, I decided to throw together soup instead of make salmon, because I know that she likes that. Anyway, the soup turned out GREAT...a perfect veggie soup! I guess the only thing missing was carrot. This was the first time I've used quinoa and because it was in with all of the veggies, I couldn't really tell what it was like; but I plan on trying it again soon in stuffed peppers. Because of all the great veggies in this soup it is PERFECT for Sweetnicks ARF-Five-a-Day event. Be sure to check out all the other posts Tuesday night for more inspiration. Quinoa Veggie Soup
1/3 cup quinoa (probably could use more)
2 garlic cloves
1 onion chopped
2 stalked celery, chopped
1 can (14.5 oz) no sugar added corn
1 can (14.5 oz) french cut green beans
1 - 1 1/2 cups okra (I used frozen)
1 can (14.5 oz) diced, stewed tomatoes
1 can chicken or vegetable broth
Season All
Garlic Powder
In a hot dutch oven, put quinoa, garlic, onion, and celery with cooking spray or a little olive oil; cook several minutes. Add corn, beans, tomatoes, okra, and broth. Season with Season all and garlic powder to taste. Bring to a boil and the turn down to a simmer. Cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes or until onions are tender. Stir in oregano and basil just before serving. You can also top with Parmesan cheese for a punch of flavor.
NOTE: I put some canned chicken in it this time but wouldn't do that next isn't needed. Feel free to do so if you want to, however.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Happy Pistachio Day!

Well, I learned from Hungry Girl that today is National Pistachio day. These are very healthy nuts. They have less fat than other nuts and you can eat a lot more (45 nuts) in one serving than other nuts. A while back I decided to revisit a recipe and tweak it a little so that I could make it a pistachio cookie. In addition to having pistachios, this cookie has oatmeal and uses sugar free, fat free pudding. The pudding gives the cookies an interesting but good flavor. They don't really turn out green, which I thought would have been fun. Hey, you could make these at St. Patrick's day and use food coloring to color them! Enjoy!

Pistachio Oatmeal Cranberry Cookies
1 cup butter flavored shortening, I just used regular flavor
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 (3.5 ounce) package sugar free, fat free pistachio pudding mix
2 eggs
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup chopped pistachios
1/2 cup dried cranberries
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). In a large bowl, cream together shortening, brown sugar, and white sugar until smooth (several minutes). Blend in instant pudding, then beat in eggs until the batter is light and fluffy. Combine flour and baking soda; mix into the batter. Stir in oats and nuts. Dough will be stiff. Drop dough by spoonfuls (I use my cookie scoop) onto the baking sheets or stones. Bake for 8 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven, or until firm. Cool on wire racks.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Super Soup

So, my TV died tonight after my parents and I watched "24." I was trying to rewind the tape for my roommate and the TV just shut off. Then every time we turned it back on, it turned off on its own after about 7 seconds. I am SO glad my parents are in town when this happened. My dad is going to take it to a repair shop for an estimate; I hope they can fix it soon because I like having the TV on when I study and to relax me at night. Anyway, this is a substitute tonight. Last week it was cold around here (highs in the 40's, for MS that's cold!). I decided to make a new soup recipe. I should have realized what the texture would be like when it was a Rachel Ray recipe. I mean, she has to cook these things in 30 minutes or less. Let me explain. In the South, we like our vegetables to be soft. now, I don't mean mush, but when you bite into them they don't crunch! They kind of melt. Anyway, I put the soup in my mouth and bit down and...CRUNCH! The veggies were no where near the bite I like them. SO, next time I make this soup, I will cook the veggies longer before I add the broth and sauce. This has a really good tomato flavor to it. It could probably use some herbs, just play around. I would make this again with the aforementioned changes.

Also, this is one of RR's "stoups." It really is pretty thick just because there is not much liquid. This isn't a problem, though. I actually used it as a potato topper Friday night. Pretty good. Because this is full of vegetables and tomatoes have so many antioxidants, this is my entry for Sweetnicks ARF day. Be sure to check her site out Tuesday night for more great recipes.
Tomato and Bean "Stoup"
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (I omitted as I didn't have any)
1 medium onion chopped
2 carrots (I used about 14 baby carrots) peeled and thinly sliced
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 small zucchini, sliced
2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomato
1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
1 (15-ounce) can small white beans or cannellini beans
1 (10 ounces) box, cut frozen green beans, (cooked to desired texture, this is how I would do it next time)
Salt and pepper
1 cup fresh basil, torn or shredded (OH, I forgot to do this!)
Grated Parmigiano or Romano

Put olive oil in a pot. Add garlic and crushed red pepper flakes, stir then stir in the onions, carrots, celery and zucchini. Cook 10 minutes (or until TENDER!), then add in the stock, paste, tomatoes and both kinds of beans. Bring soup up to a bubble and season with salt and pepper, to your taste. Simmer 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and wilt the basil into the soup. Ladle up the soup and serve with grated cheese and bread.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

First Letter Meme

I found this meme over at Gail's site. It looked like fun, so I did it. I'm not tagging anyone but feel free to try it out. Come back tomorrow for a yummy recipe!

Rules: Use the 1st letter of your name to answer each of the following…They must be REAL places, names, things…NOTHING made up! If you can’t think of anything, skip it. Try to use different answers if the person in front of you had the same 1st initial. You CAN’T use your name for the boy/girl name question.

Your name: Claire
1. Famous Athlete: Carlos Zambrano
2. 4 letter word: coat
3. Street name: Central Avenue (did I make that up?)
4. Color: celadon
5. Gifts/presents: cookie scoop
6. Vehicles: Camry (mine!)
7. Tropical Locations: Carribean
8. College Majors: Chemistry (mine!)
9. Dairy Products: Cottage cheese
10. Things in a Souvenir Shop: candles
11. Boy Name: Caleb (love it!)
12. Girl Name: Caitlyn
13. Movie Titles: Chocolat
14. Alcohol: Champaign
15. Occupations: Cruise director
16. Flowers: Calalily
17. Celebrities: Christopher Lloyd
18. Magazines: Cooking Light
19. U.S. Cities: Charleston, NC
20. Pro Sports Teams: Chicago Cubs!!!!
21. Something Found in a kitchen: Cooktop
22 Reason for Being Late: clock didn't go off
23. Something You Throw Away: cans
24. Things You Shout: Come on!
25. Cartoon Character: Cinderella

Friday, January 19, 2007

Nutella Ravioli Cookies from Peabody

When I saw these cookies on Peabody's site, I KNEW that I had to make them for my brother. He is very picky about the sweets he eats...not because he doesn't want sweets but is just picky in general. He really likes sugar cookies and also likes Nutella. Combine the two and you MUST have a winner. When we went to World Market I picked up a jar of Nutella because they had it for less than the grocery store.
Well, I made the cookies when I got back from Christmas break and sent them with Philip to school. He recently e-mailed me and said that they were really good but could use more Nutella. SO, I'll make these again with MORE Nutella in them.
This is the recipe that Peabody used for the base. I changed it a little so that I wouldn't have too much dough.

Sugar Cookie Dough
2 cups powdered sugar
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
2 eggs
1.5 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar

1. Cream the powdered sugar and butter for at least 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time and scrape down the bowl after each egg. Add vanilla and mix for 2 more minutes. The times are important as you want the sugar to "dissolve" and give you a smooth dough.
2. Mix in the flour, baking soda and cream of tartar while mixer is on slow speed. Mix till you have a smooth dough. Chill for at least 4 hours before rolling out. Use this dough for anything calling for sugar cookie dough. Following is the Nutella cookie recipe.
Nutella Ravioli Cookies
1 (18 ounce) package of refrigerated sugar cookie dough(for the time challenged) or 18 ounces (I used the entire recipe typed above) fresh sugar cookie dough
1/2 cup Nutella spread
3 TBSP white chocolate chips
3 TBSP chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°F

Roll out chilled cookie dough to about a 1/4 inchthickness. Using a cookie cutter or a glass dipped in flour, cut out rounds. I used a glass.

Peabody suggests using a piping bag or plastic bag with the end snipped off to pipe about 1/2 teaspoon of Nutella into the center of each round. I just pushed the Nutella directly off of the spoon onto the dough. This was definitely messier but it worked.

Fold rounds over to create half moon shapes and gently seal edges. Place the cookies on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 9-10 minutes or until slightly golden. Immediately put on cooling racks and allow to cool completely. When the cookies are completely cooled, melt chocolate chips in microwave (about 1 minute.). Remove and using a fork, drizzle chocolate over cookies. Repeat this with the white chocolate chips. I tried this put couldn't get the chocolate to drizzle, so I just spread it the best that I could. Philip liked the ones with white choclate the best.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Butter? It worked!

I recently commented to Anna at Cookie Madness that I don't like using butter for cookies because they always seem to get flat and crispy. She showed me one of her recipes for some cookies that use butter but don't flatten out. She's right! These are GREAT. I don't know if this will make me use butter more often, but these I will make again.
Her cookies are puffy and tender. One different thing is that the flour is bread flour. Anna said that this probably gives the cookies their tender nature. I also thought it was interesting the difference in the batter when the egg and vanilla were added, the color lightened and the batter immediately smoothed (check out the pictures below). The only thing I changed from her recipe was to use mint chocolate chips in the cookies rather than bittersweet chocolate, and I made Tablespoon sized cookies rather than 1/4 cup large cookies. These cookies do harden a bit (maybe because I made smaller ones) over time but soften quite well with a few seconds in the microwave. Who doesn't like warm cookies anyway? Try these cookies and stop by Anna's sight for more...she always has GREAT recipes!
Anna's Giant Chocolate Chunk Cookies
No mixer required!
1/2 cup pecan pieces
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup unsalted butter -- melted and slightly cooled (about 5 minutes)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups bread flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
1/2 teaspoon salt1 (6 oz) dark or bittersweet chocolate bar, cut into chunks

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Spread pecan pieces over half of a large cookie sheet. Spread oats over other half of cookie sheet.
Bake pecans and oats for 8-10 minutes or until pecans are aromatic and toasted. Remove from oven and let cool.
In a medium bowl, stir (by hand) melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar until smooth. Stir in the egg and vanilla, being careful not to over-beat.
Mix together the bread flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt and stir into sugar mixture. Stir toasted oats and pecans. Stir in chocolate chunks.
Using a packed quarter cup measure or tablespoon if making smaller cookies, shape dough into balls and place on a dish. Refrigerate shaped dough balls for at least 3 hours.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment and place thoroughly chilled dough balls about 3 inches apart on cookie sheet. If making smaller cookies they can be placed closer together.
Bake cookies for 15 minutes for large cookies and 10-11 minutes for smaller cookies, or until done. Remove from baking sheets to cool on wire racks. Let cool completely
This recipe yields between 9 an 11 large cookies and 36 smaller cookies.
Now for a 3 things meme:
Three people/things that make me laugh: weird dreams, my mom, The Princess Bride
Three things that scare me: stinkbugs (!), 18-wheelers, taking the Step 1
Three things I love: my family, God's incredible grace, real friends
Three things I hate: bad grammar, smoking, studying
Three things I don’t understand: why I have to memorize hundreds of drugs only to forget them again and use a PDA to look them up when I need to use them, guys, my brother (I guess those could be the same thing)
Three things on my desk: 2 jewelry boxes, a fan, papers I need to find a place for Three things I want to do before I die: Go to New York, go to more Cubs games, win a recipe contest
Three things I can do: cook, sing, perform a medical physical exam and take a history. Three things I would like to learn: sign language, ballroom dancing, golf
Three favorite foods: squash, fruit (all kinds!), Spring rolls
Three beverages I drink regularly: water, lemonade, coffee (I've just started drinking it in the morning since it's cold again)
Three TV shows/Books I watched/read as a kid: Anne of Green Gables, Little House on the Prairie, Ramona

Okay, here are my tags:
VC at Sugar Delirium
Alisha at Cooking, Stamping, and Scrapping
Mandi at Red Dirt Mummy
Anna at Cookie Madness

Monday, January 15, 2007

Spinach Salad and a Meme

Yesterday, my Sunday school class had a potluck lunch. I ended up taking two dishes because I couldn't decide which to make. Later, I'll post the recipe for the pineapple casserole; tonight it's all about spinach. Now before you think "Ew, spinach," listen! You may think of spinach as that stuff that popeye pops out of his cans when he needs strength...I agree, THAT spinach is gross. However, fresh spinach is a totally different story. Fresh spinach is one of the healthiest and most delicious greens you can use. Even if you don't like it cooked, there is a high possibility that you will like it as a salad green. Also, this salad has TONS of yummy extras in it! SO, check out my Aunt Margaret's spinach salad. As it is full of antioxidants, this is my entry for Sweetnicks, ARF Tuesday.
Mandarin Orange, Bacon, and Brittle Spinach Salad
1 bag fresh spinach
1 large can mandarin oranges in orange juice
7-8 slices of turkey bacon (this really is better because it gets crispy and is easy to break)
1 box peanut brittle (I use about half but you can use more)
1 small bottle Italian dressing (light or fat-free will work as well) - I don't use the whole bottle, just put enough on to cover the spinach when tossed

Cook bacon until crispy. Put spinach is a large bowl. Crumble bacon over the spinach. Drain oranges and add to the greens. Break brittle into small pieces and add to salad. Just before serving, pour desired amount of salad dressing over the salad. You need enough to cover the spinach. Toss and enjoy.

Now for the meme. I've been tagged by Rachel at Rachel's Bite to tell 6 weird food things about myself. Here goes:

1. I've never had sushi. Apparently this is really a horrible thing. When I was teaching an ACT review session one Saturday, I told the kids this and they all just gasped in horror. Maybe I should try it!

2. I've eaten horse. Yes, when I lived in Kyrgyzstan, we ate at the home of a national (for about 5 hours, 8 courses, a LOT of food!). One of the appetizers they had was horse. It's pretty fatty but tastes alright. Can't say I'd eat it again, though.

3. I can't drink tea. Yes, I'm from the South and I don't like tea. I taught myself to like coffee but there is just something in my body that keeps me from liking tea. sorry!

4. I like butternut squash but I don't like sweet potatoes. Once again, something in my body just can't handle it. The first two bites are okay but after that I can't swallow any more potato. Sweet potato fries, however, are a different matter!

5. When I was little, I would mash my cake and ice cream together until it resembled mush. It's really very good. Try it some time in the privacy of your own home.

6. I think Papa John's pizza is really gross. The crust is gummy and the sauce just isn't right. This is a bad thing when we have pizza for free lunch at the med center...the ALWAYS get papa john's.

Okay, I'm not tagging anyone this time because I've tagged for a meme like this before and don't remember who I tagged. If you'd like to do this, go ahead and they let me know! :-)

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Quick Pralines

I know, the holidays are over but Valentines Day is coming up and who doesn't like pralines? Well, some people might not; but, they seem to me to be a great idea for Valentines day treats. You could even dye them red...maybe...or maybe not! Mama got this recipe from my Aunt Margaret. It is a quick and easy microwave praline. These did have to sit for a pretty good while before they started looking praline like...originally they were very shiny. If that my favorite Agapeland snail says "Be patient, be patient, don't be in such a hurry!" I would definitely do these again!
Microwaves Pralines
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 box light brown sugar
1 1/2 cups coarsly chopped pecans or walnuts (you could probably use a little more)
1 Tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon vanilla

Stir together cream and sugar in a microwave safe bowl. (Mama stirring!)
Place in microwave. Cook on high for 11-13 minutes, depending on the power of your microwave. (If it is over 1300 watts, then 11 minutes is about right.) Stir in nuts. Add butter and vanilla. Stir in well. Drop by soup spoonful onto wax paper and let set. Wait for it to turn "cloudy" before removing from paper. TO remove from the paper, slowly pull out and up on the paper (it will seem like it is cemented to the counter). It should pop up; then peel the praline off of the paper very carefully.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Chicken Roll Ups

Okay, as I promised yesterday, here is the recipe for Chicken Roll-ups. This is a simple recipe and I don't know many kids who wouldn't like it. In fact, one year for my birthday party I had a dinner party based on an idea from Little House on the Prairie. My choice for dinner?...Chicken Roll-ups, broccoli casserole, corn pudding, and crescent rolls. Why we had MORE crescent rolls, I don't know, but it was a hit with my friends.

Our typical dinner with Chicken Roll-ups included rice, broccoli, and probably (at the time) canned pears! Thursday, my roommate and I served it with rice, green salad, and fresh fruit. No matter how you do it, enjoy!

Chicken Roll-ups
1 package Crescent Rolls (8)
1 c. chopped, cooked chicken
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, divided
cream of chicken soup (we use 98% fat free)
1 cup milk (we use skim)

Preheat oven to temperature indicated on crescent roll package. Mix chicken and 1/4 cup cheese. Unroll crescent rolls and separate along the perforations. Put chicken mixture on roll and roll up crescent style. Place rolls into a 13X9 pan. Mix milk and soup. Pour over rolls. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top. Bake 20 minutes. Serve with rice and top with the sauce.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Cheesecake Light

As I mentioned yesterday, we had friends over for dinner. This time the roommate made the main meal. It was a recipe I am familiar with, however. Because of the oven situation I didn't take pictures but I will give you the recipe...tomorrow! How's that for a teaser? Be sure and come back, though, especially if you have kids. This is a kid pleaser wrapped up and tied with a bow. In fact, my brother (picky kid) LOVED these; but my dad didn't. SO, whenever he was out of town or on a mission trip, chicken roll-ups were on the menu. Anyway, check back tomorrow for the recipe.

Today's recipe is my grandmother's cheesecake recipe. Now, it's not the typical cheesecake. No cooking for 2 hours, cooling in the oven overnight. No cracks to cover up. Just simple, light, and yummy! When I said I was serving cheesecake, my friends were worried...they were full from dinner and we all know how rich classic cheesecake is. However, the lightness of this was just perfect and the lemon flavor was refreshing. In fact, Justin said that he was glad it didn't have the traditional cheesecake texture or he wouldn't have been able to eat it. As weird as it may be, I think that was a compliment! So, if you have a sweet tooth and are still recovering from Christmas foods, try this lemon cheesecake.

Granny's Cheesecake
Crust: 1/3 lb + 2 sheets graham crackers, crushed
3/4 stick of margarine, melted
1/4 cup sugar
(I added some cinnamon)

1 8 oz. cream cheese (I use 1/3 less fat), softened
1 cup sugar
1 3oz. lemon jello (you could probably use sugar free, but I haven't tried yet)
1 cup hot water
1 tall can PET evaporated milk, chilled (I use skim)
2 Tablespoons lemon juice (I added some lemon zest as well)

For crust mix graham cracker crumbs and sugar. Add melted margarine. Reserve some crumbs for the top and press the remaining mixture into the bottom of a 13X9 pan or 3 8-inch pie pans. Chill.

For filling: Dissolve the jello in the hot water. In a large bowl, blend cream cheese and sugar well. Slowly blend in dissolved jello. Chill. In a small bowl that is very clean (even chilled), beat milk until stiff. Add lemon juice and beat again. Fold into the cream cheese mixture. Pour this into the chilled crust. Chill. Just before serving, sprinkle with reserved crumbs.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Smooth as Butter

Tonight we had friends over for dinner (January dinner - done!). We had an old "favorite" from my childhood - chicken roll ups. Had a little problem with the oven, however. After about 10 minutes, it started smelling like scorched bread. My roommate came and told me the oven was burning the cheese. Um...the dish was BOILING and the element of the oven was FIRE RED. We turned the oven off and took the rolls out to pick off the burnt part. I put them on the lower rack next time...five minutes later, boiling AGAIN and the lower element was FIRE RED. So, we stood guard for the rest of the cooking time. It tasted just fine and our guested enjoyed it. Later I baked bread and the oven behaved. I have NO CLUE what was the problem. I may still report it to the manager at my apartment complex. Electrical crews are on site this week, so maybe they can come check it out just to be safe.

Anyway, at Christmas time, I decided to make cinnamon rolls for breakfast one day. My brother enjoys those and I like to endulge him! Instead of doing my regular recipe, I thought I'd try something from Dori Greenspan's book Baking from my home to yours. I found the recipe she used for her pecan rolls and decided to use that. After following the first part of the instructions, which I wasn't sure about because it looked SO DRY, I proceeded to the next part...putting in the butter. This is what ensued:

Me: Wide eyes - "Oh, my goodnes!" (Place hand over gaped mouth)
Mom: "What?"
Me: gaped mouth..."I can't do this."
Mom: "What?"
Me: "I misread the recipe. I thought it said 2 TABLESPOONS calls for 3 STICKS of butter. I can't do this. What do I do? Do I just make it or do I throw away what I've done and do the regular recipe?"
Several minutes of deliberation pass...

Me: "What should I do? Should I make it?"
Daddy: "Just do it."
Me: "I guess this is really the only time I'll do it, and then I can say I've made brioche. Okay, I'm doing it."
It just went against all I have in me to use 3 STICKS of butter. However, that was the prettiest bread dough I've ever seen. It was SO smooth...smooth as butter! I used the dought to make cinnamon rolls and one loaf of brioche. The cinnamon rolls were VERY good but I wasn't thrilled about the brioche. Daddy liked it though. He said it was very good and didn't need extra butter on top, you could taste it just in the bread. I sure hope so! Philip (the brother) said he wasn't so sure...if only it had one more stick of butter! ;-) SO, now I've made this recipe, but probably won't again unless it's for a catering something or someone asks specifically for it!
Golden Brioche Loaves
make dough one day ahead then shape and bake the next

2 packets active dry yeast (4 teaspoons)
1/3 cup just-warm-to-the-touch water
1/3 cup just-warm-to-the-touch while milk (I used skim)
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature but still slightly firm

Put the yeast, water, and milk in the bowl of a stand mixer and, using a wooden spoon, stir until the yeast is dissolved. Add the flour and salt, and fit the mixer with the dough hook, if you have one. Toss a kitchen towel over the mixer, covering the bowl as completely as you can to keep you from being covered in flour! Turn the mixer on and off in a few short pulses, just to dampen the flour (you can peek), then remove the towel, increase mixer speed to medium-low and mix for a minute or two. At this point you will have a dry, shaggy mess (it's true).

Scrape the sides an dbottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula, set the mixer to low and add the eggs, followed by the sugar. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat for about 3 minutes, until the dough forms a ball. Reduce speed to low and add the butter in 2 Tablespoon size chunks, beating until each piece is almost incorporated before adding the next. You'll have a dough that is very soft, almost like a batter. Increase the speed to medium-high and continue to beat until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 10 minutes (This made my heavy kitchen aid mixer "dance" across the counter, so you may want to listen and be available to steady the mixer).

Transfer the dough to a clean bowl, cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature until nearly doubled in size, 40-60 minutes. Deflate the dough by lifting it up around the edges and letting it fall with a slap into the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator. Slap the dough down in the bowl every 30 minutes until it stops rising, about 2 hours, then leave the covered dough in the refrigerator overnight.

If making Brioche loaves: Butter and flour 2 8.5 X 4.5 inch loaf pans. Pull dough from the fridge and divide into two equal pieces. Cut each piece of dough into 4 equal pieces and roll each piece into a log aobut 3.5 inches long. Arrange 4 logs crosswise in the bottom of each pan. Put the pans on a baking sheet lined with parchment or silicone mat, cover the pans lightly with wax paper and leave the loaves at room temperature until dough fills pans.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Bake until loaves are well risen and deeply golden, about 30-35 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the pans and turn the loaves out onto cooling racks. Cool at least one hour.
If making cinnamon rolls: Divide dough into halves. Roll one half into a 16-inch square. Spread 3 tablespoons softened butter over the dough. Sprinkle a mixture of 1/4 cup sugar, 3 T brown sugar, and 1 T cinnamon over the dough. Add nuts if desired. Roll dough jelly-roll style. Cut dough using serrated knife or sewing thread, into 1-inch rolls. Place in a greased 13X9 pan. Cover and allow to rise until doubled in size. Bake in a 375 degree F oven for about 30 minutes or until puffed and browned. Make a glad of confectioner's sugar and water. Spread over rolls and enjoy.

Monday, January 08, 2007

A Supreme Tradition

When we would go to my grandparents' house for any holiday, there was one dish that I expected to have...squash casserole. Christmas was the only time I got this dish and it was one of my casseroles go, it still is! Well, since my grandparents have died, we now must carry on this Christmas casserole tradition. We have modified the recipe just a bit because it seems that you really don't need all of the creamy mixture that it calls for. I usually make the whole thing and then stir in what I need. The recipe contains squash and carrots, so, despite the extras added to it, it is perfect for Sweetnick's ARF-Five-A-Day Tuesday. Go by her site and check out the other entries. I hope that you enjoy this and find your own family traditions to carry on through the years!
Papa's Squash Supreme
2 lb boiled squash (fresh is best but frozen can definitely be used)
2 T grated onion
2 carrots, grated (we used about 10 baby carrots)
1 can cream of chicken soup (we always use 98% fat free)
1 cup sour cream (you can use light but don't use fat free)
1 8 oz pack herb seasoned stuffing
1 stick margarine, melted

Combine squash, onion, and carrot. Blend soup and sour cream. Stir the amount you need into squash mixture. Toss together stuffing and margarine. Pour half stuffing into shallow 3 qt. baking dish (we also use 13 X 9 sometimes). Pour squash mixture over stuffing layer. Top with remaining stuffing. Bake at 375 degrees F for 30 minutes.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Quick "Belgian" Waffles

When I was really little, Saturday breakfast was cereal with cartoons. Then Daddy started making either waffles or pancakes. At some point in time, Philip decided that he didn't like pancakes and would only eat waffles. THEN it became Belgian waffles. SO, one year for his birthday, I got my brother (my teenage brother! at the time) a waffle maker. HA! Now, whenever he goes home from college, Saturday breakfast is Belgian waffles.
This recipe is not a true Belgian waffle recipe, but it is definitely fluffy and delicious. Last Saturday before we came back to MS, the whole family sat down to a late breakfast of these delicious waffles. The toppings on our plates varied a little. Daddy and Mama went for the traditional syrup while Philip topped his with mounds of powdered sugar. I melted some raspberry fig preserves that my grandmother made and put that on the waffles. It was all very good. So, without much ado, my Daddy's waffle recipe!
Daddy’s Waffles
¾ cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1 T sugar
1 egg, separated
2 T oil
½ cup milk
¼ tsp vanilla

Preheat waffle iron. Mix dry ingredients together in a medium sized bowl. Combine liquids in a smaller bowl. If you want fluffier waffles, separate the egg and whip the egg whites separately while you put the yolk in with the wet ingredients. Mix wet ingredients into dry ingredients. If you separated the egg, fold in the egg whites after mixing the dry and wet ingredients. Follow waffle iron instructions for cooking time. Daddy cooks ours about 3 minutes 30 seconds. Enjoy with your favorite topping: syrup, powdered sugar, whipped cream, fruit, jam.
Future Daddy recipes to come: FAMOUS pancakes!

A feeling From the Tropics

This winter hasn't really been much of a winter, even for MS. New York is getting a taste of what MS winter is like. I guess we're getting south Texas. Maybe that makes this recipe approriate...chewy coconut cookies. I decided a few months ago that I like coconut in baked goods, so these cookies were fun for me! These cookies were really good but just a bit too sweet. Next time I make them I might decrease the sugar just a bit. There is no need to use sweetened coconut but if you really like sweet, I think adding some toffee bits would be good, too. For that I would definitely decrease the sugar. I'll play around with that next time!
Chewy Coconut Cookies
All Recipes
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups flaked coconut
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C.) Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In a medium bowl, cream the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar until smooth. Beat in the egg and vanilla until light and fluffy. Gradually blend in the flour mixture, then mix in the coconut. Drop dough by teaspoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Cookies should be about 3 inches apart. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until lightly toasted. Cool on wire racks.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

New Cookbook

My best friend, Sarah, came over last night and gave me a Christmas present before she returned to the world of night nursing. When I visited her in Nashville this August, we went to Vanderbilt Children's Hospital to check it out. In their gift shop I admired a cookbook. What a great friend...she remembered! I haven't had a chance to look through it all the way, but the recipes I've glanced at are GREAT! SO, there will be some new recipes coming up soon! Don't worry, Sarah, I didn't see any recipes for fried spider legs or roasted cockroaches. ;-)

I also received an Asian cookbook from Williams-Sonoma from my roomie. Once I look through that one there may be some Asian cooking being done around here. Oh, I hope that I get to cook in the middle of my studying!

Monday, January 01, 2007

I'm Popeye, the Sailor Man

One of my friends has an annual Christmas party. I decided that instead of taking something sweet, I'd take something savory. I decided to try Sweetnick's mom's spinach cheese squares. These were SO good! I didn't go home with any and could have taken more. I decided to change the cheese a bit (like Cate did this year) and used some swiss. This was a fast and easy recipe with lots of antioxidants. SO, I'm submitting it for ARF day at Sweetnicks. I hope Cate doesn't mind someone submitting one of her own recipes! :-)

Spinach Cheese Bites
2 tablespoons butter (I admit, I didn't use this; my stoneware provided enough crisp)
3 eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 pound shredded Cheddar cheese (I used half cheddar and half swiss, 1 cup of each - is that 1 pound?)
2 (10 ounce) packages frozen chopped spinach (I used one 16 oz bag)
1 tablespoon minced onion
Preheat oven to 350F. Place butter or margarine in a 9x13 inch baking dish and melt butter in oven. Remove when melted, approximately 3 minutes. In large mixing bowl, beat eggs well. Mix in flour, milk and baking powder. When the dough is well combined, mix in cheese, spinach, and onion. Spoon mixture into the baking dish with melted butter. Bake for 35 minutes. Let cool 45 minutes then cut into bite-size squares.

Kitchen Resolutions and Applesauce Cake

I've seen several people with kitchen goals for the new year. I decided to make some of my own, maybe this will help me actually do these things...I don't like not meeting goals!

1 - Make Vietnamese Spring Rolls. I've been wanting to do this and just haven't. It's a must this year.
2 - Make something using my new mandolin. There is an Emeril recipe that I have in mind.
3 - Have someone over for dinner at least once a month. I think this is doable if I don't get caught up in schoolwork.
4 - Enter recipe contests. I've got a few original recipes that I haven't posted here and hope to enter in some contests. Maybe I'll come up with more.
5 - Make spanikopita.
6 - Go to a cooking class at Everyday Gourmet.
7 - Make a rolled cake.
8 - Try more new recipes. This may sound easy, but with school it's hard to do new things, much easier to do what you're familiar with.

That's all I have for now. If I think of another later, I'll add it. Now on to the recipe. This is a cake that my grandmother made when my Dad was growing up. When his cousin visited us after Christmas, she said that she remembered it, too. I don't really care for the taste because I don't like the taste of whiskey. It isn't a strong whiskey flavor, but I can taste it, especially in the raisins. Make this if you need to serve a lot or want leftovers. I'm pretty sure my parents had it around 2 weeks and it kept well.
Applesauce Cake

1 cup butter or oleo
2 cups sugar
2 cups applesauce
2 tsp. soda
4 cups flour
2 tsp. each cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg.
2 cups raisins
1 cup whiskey
2-4 cups pecans

Cream together butter and sugar. Put soda in applesauce and add to butter/sugar mixture. Sift together flour and spices. Dredge raisins in 1/4 of flour mixture and set aside. Add the balance of the flour mixture to the butter/sugar mixture alternately with the whiskey. Begin and end with flour mixture. Add pecans and raisins.
Bake in 10 inch tube pan, which has been greased and floured, at 350 degrees until done. (Granny has to bake it 1 1/2 hours in her oven. The original recipe said one hour.) Check for doneness with toothpick. COOL IN PAN (it will break apart otherwise)