Thursday, October 30, 2008

German Pretzels

I LOVE Pretzels, but not the skinny hard kind. I like the big ones that taste more like a bagel and are salty and chewey. These are fun and very easy to make, and as you can see, you can make heart shaped Pretzels for the one you love! (even though he hates Pretzels). I found the recipe here!

1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/8 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup bread flour
2 cups warm water (110 degrees)
2 tablespoons baking soda
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons coarse kosher salt


In a large mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast, brown sugar and salt in 1 1/2 cups warm water.

Stir in flour, and knead dough on a floured surface until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes.(I used the dough hook on my Kitchenaide Mixer and it worked perfectly)

Place in a greased bowl, and turn to coat the surface. Cover, and let rise for one hour.

Combine 2 cups warm water and baking soda in an 8 inch square pan.

After dough has risen, cut into 12 pieces. Roll each piece into a 3 foot rope, pencil thin or thinner. Twist into a pretzel shape, and dip into the baking soda solution. Place on parchment covered cookie sheets, or a Silpat on the cookie sheet, and let rise 15 to 20 minutes.

Bake at 450 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes, or until golden brown.

Brush with melted butter, and sprinkle with coarse salt, garlic salt or cinnamon sugar.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Stuffed Chicken Breasts

This is truly a "Dunkin Family Favorite", we have been making this for a very long time. It sounds complicated, but it really is not. It is a beautiful way to wow your guests, it presents beautifully on the plate. I served with Hollandaise sauce, as I normally do and roasted carrots.

2-4 Chicken Breasts
1/4 lb Prosciutto or thinly sliced ham
1/4 lb Swiss cheese
Poultry seasoning
Asparagus - cut into 3rds
Hollandaise Sauce (I use Knorr in the packet), less fat and tastes great, I also add a dash of lemon.

Carefully slice the breast in half, but not all the way thru, you want to open it like a book

Place it between plastic and pound it out a bit

Sprinkle poultry seasoning generously, then capers (about 1 tsp), add your layer of ham and then a slice or two of Swiss, finally add your asparagus spears

Roll it up jelly roll style using plastic wrap, twist the ends tightly for a good seal (imagine rolling it up on top of a sheet of plastic wrap then wrapping the log really well in that plastic wrap (kinda like making compound butter)

Poach in barely simmering water for 15 minutes or so, check for internal doneness before removing with a thermometer, it should read 165 degrees, let cool for several minutes
Slice into coins and serve with Hollandaise on the side or pooled under the chicken coins

**It goes really well with pasta and risotto or even rice

Monday, October 27, 2008

Carrot Cake

I love Carrot Cake, although as diabetic I rarely eat it. It was a rainy day here in Oregon and I decided that I wanted to make one! Luckily I have a few friends who are happy to help me eat it, which I am so thankful for!

Too many leftovers in my fridge makes me very tense!

I found a recipe online and modified it a bit to fit my tastes. It was soo moist and delicious, the best one I have ever made!

3 sticks, plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1/2 cup raisins
1 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 cups grated carrots
1 cup chopped toasted pecans

Pecan Cream Cheese Icing:
8 ounces cream cheese
1 stick unsalted butter
1 (1-pound) box confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup chopped toasted pecans

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

Butter 2 (9-inch) cake pans with 1 tablespoon of the butter and set aside.

In a large bowl, cream the butter with an electric mixer. Add the sugar, and beat.

In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger and salt, and mix well.

Add the dry ingredients, alternating with the eggs, beating well after the addition of each. Add the vanilla extract and mix.

Add the carrots and beat on medium speed until well incorporated, about 2 minutes. Fold in the nuts and raisins

Divide between the 2 cake pans and bake until set and a cake tester inserted into the middle comes out clean, 30 to 50 minutes.
Remove from the oven and let rest in the cake pans for 10 minutes.

Invert onto wire racks, remove from the pans, and let cool.

For the Frosting: In a large bowl, cream together the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Add the sugar gradually, beating constantly. Add the vanilla, and beat for a few more seconds.

When the cake is cool, place 1 cake layer on a cake plate or stand. Spread the top with cream cheese frosting and top with some chopped nuts, place your 2nd layer and finish frosting the cake. I used some whole pecans for decoration on the top and some chopped pecans for the sides.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Cheddar Garlic Biscuits

I have to admit I cannot make a decent biscuit to save my life, so it is the one of the few things that I use a mix for. I doctor the mix up, and they are pretty dang good! They taste just like the Cheddar Biscuits at Red Lobster.

1 package Jiffy Biscuit Mix
1/2 cup of grated cheese (any kind you like)
1/2 cup of milk
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
dried or fresh chives

In a bowl combine the mix, cheese, and chives

Add the milk and mix with a spoon until a doughy consistency (you may have to add a bit more milk)

Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet
Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes

Add the garlic powder to the melted butter, mix well and brush over the biscuits when they come out of the oven

Beef, Barley and Mushroom Soup

Fall is on it's way here in Oregon, and today I was inspired to make soup. I had never made Beef and Barley soup previously. I sauteed everything first to really develop the flavor then added it all back in and cooked it for several hours. It is fairly easy, and very tasty.

I whipped up a batch of Cheese and Garlic Biscuits to go with it.

2 cups diced or sliced carrots
2 cups diced celery
1 medium onion chopped
1 cup of sliced mushrooms (whatever kind you like)
8 cans of Beef Broth
1 lb package of Barley (not the quick cook kind)
1 to 1.5 lbs of Beef Stew Meat, cut into mediumish pieces, dry it well
salt and pepper to taste
2 tsp tomato paste
2 tbl Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup of red wine
I am a firm believer in fond, the yucky looking stuff on the bottom of your pan after searing food. De-glaze and you have a wonderful start to just about anything.

Place 2-3 tbl of oil in your dutch oven and crank to high heat

Sear your meat in batches, don't crowd the pan, remove and set aside

Add another 2 tbl of oil and saute your onion and celery for about 5 minutes, remove and set aside

Add the red wine to the pan and scrape up all the bits on the bottom of the pan, stirring until they are dissolved.

Add in all the remaining ingredients, (except the mushrooms), add them during the last 30 minutes of cooking.

Simmer on low/medium heat for up to 2 hours

Monday, October 20, 2008

Oatmeal and Cinnamon Chip Cookies

One day while grocery shopping I saw bags of Cinnamon Chips in the baking aisle. I had not seen anything like that previously, so I bought two bags, brought them home and promptly forgot about them. Yesterday I had the baking bug and decided to use them in Oatmeal Cookies. They turned out really well!

Next time I will add Golden Raisins, and perhaps some Pecans.


1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2-1/2 cups quick-cooking oats
1-2/3 cups (10-oz. pkg.) HERSHEY'S Cinnamon Chips
3/4 cup raisins

Heat oven to 350°F.

Beat butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar in bowl until creamy.

Add eggs and vanilla; beat well. Combine flour and baking soda; add to butter mixture, beating well. Stir in oats, cinnamon chips and raisins (batter will be stiff). Drop by heaping teaspoons unto ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake 10 to 12 minutes on until lightly browned. Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. About 4 dozen.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Raspberry Stuffed French Toast

I often see Stuffed French Toast on the menu at our weekly family breakfast, and decided to try to make it at home. I had a vague idea of how to do it, so we winged it. I used fresh raspberries, cream cheese and a bit of sugar mixed together for the filling. It was delicious!

Shout out to my husband who is in Atlanta for school for two long weeks! I miss you and you won't be here to fix my breakfast on Sunday. I guess I will eat cereal :(

Makes 4 servings
1 loaf of Challah bread (you will have leftover bread)

Cream Cheese Filling
2/3 brick of cream cheese
1 - 6 oz container of fresh Raspberries
sugar to taste

French Toast Egg Mixture
1 TBL vanilla
3 eggs, beaten
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp fresh nutmeg
1 cup milk

Preheat your oven to 250

Slice the Challah into 2 inch slices

Cut a pocket into each piece of bread, careful not to cut all the way thru

Place a tablespoon or so of the cream cheese mixture into each pocket, sealing with your fingers

Place each slice into the egg mixture, making sure to cover both sides, let it sit in the egg mixture for a minute (this makes it more custardy)

Cook until nicely browned and transfer to the plate in the oven, let finish cooking for 5 to 10 minutes

Serve with powdered sugar and more fresh raspberries if you have em!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Traditional Vietnamese Egg Roll

Traditional Vietnamese Egg Rolls call for Rice Paper Wrappers. They are a bit harder to deal with than Lumpia Wrappers, you have to get them wet and they are sticky and stretchy. It is worth the extra effort as they are crunchy yet chewy when eaten. Delicious!

  • 1 package of Round Rice Paper Wrappers
  • 1/2 lb of good quality ground pork
  • 1/4 lb of shrimp diced into small chunks (I omit this as I am not a huge fan of shrimp)
  • 1 ounce dried Wood Ear Mushrooms, re hydrated and cut into strips
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and diced (or scallions)
  • 2 carrots, shredded
  • 1 package bean thread noodles, soaked in boiling hot water for 15 minutes, drained and cut in half
  • 1 small Jicama peeled and cut into shreds (this is optional and personally, I don't use it)
Mix the following ingredients for your filling

2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 tablespoon finely minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg beaten
1 egg yolk beaten (to seal the corner)

Add in the pork, carrot, onion, mushrooms, noodles and Jicama if using. Mix well with your hands.

You will need a large bowl full of water to dip your wrappers in and a non stick surface such as a cookie pan to place it on for assemblage.

Gently separate the wrappers (cover the remaining with a dampened towel to prevent drying), dip into the water for several seconds (being sure to get the entire thing wet) place on your work surface. Add a heaping spoonful of the filling in the center of the wrapper.

Fold bottom part and both sides and roll into a log about 3 inches long. Make sure the spring roll is not too loose. (think of making a burrito)

Seal end by dotting with egg yolk. Keep the rolled ones covered.

Heat oil in wok or wide saucepan until it reaches 350 to 375 degrees. Add spring rolls one at a time (do not crowd) and fry in medium heat until golden.

Remove with strainer and then drain on paper towel for a few moments before serving. Garnish with mint if you wish.

Dipping Sauce, Mix Well
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup warm water
1 cup white sugar
3 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons finely minced garlic
1 tablespoon Vietnamese chili-garlic sauce

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Hot and Sour Soup

My husband and I LOVE Hot and Sour Soup, however our favorite restaurant went out out of business, (for you locals I am talking about Shangri La).
I have been wanting to try and make it at home, and I finally did. It was fresh, light and according to my husband "restaurant quality but better". He loved it, which always makes me happy. The instructions are long, but in reality it is quite easy to make.

7 ounces extra-firm tofu , drained
4 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
3 tablespoons cornstarch , plus an additional 1 1/2 teaspoons
1 boneless, center-cut, pork loin chop (1/2 inch thick, about 6 ounces), trimmed of fat and cut into 1 inch by 1/8-inch matchsticks, (if you freeze the meat for a few minutes it makes slicing easier)

3 tablespoons cold water, plus 1 additional teaspoon
1 large egg
6 cups low-sodium chicken broth (I used regular and it worked just fine)
1 cup bamboo shoots (from one 5-ounce can), sliced lengthwise into 1/8-inch-thick strips
4 ounces fresh shitake mushrooms , stems removed, caps sliced 1/4 inch thick (about 1 cup)
5 tablespoons black Chinese vinegar or 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar plus 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (you can get the vinegar at any Asian store)
2 teaspoons chili oil (If you don't like it spicy omit this)
1 teaspoon ground white pepper
3 medium scallions , sliced thin

Place tofu in pie plate and set heavy plate on top. Weight with 2 heavy cans; let stand at least 15 minutes.

Whisk 1 tablespoon soy sauce, sesame oil, and 1 teaspoon cornstarch in medium bowl; toss pork with marinade and set aside for at least 10 minutes (but no more than 30 minutes).

Combine 3 tablespoons cornstarch with 3 tablespoons water in small bowl and mix thoroughly; set aside, leaving spoon in bowl. Mix remaining 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch with remaining 1 teaspoon water in small bowl; add egg and beat with fork until combined. Set aside.

Bring broth to boil in large saucepan set over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low; add bamboo shoots and mushrooms and simmer until mushrooms are just tender, about 5 minutes. While broth simmers, dice tofu into 1/2-inch cubes. Add tofu and pork, including marinade, to soup, stirring to separate any pieces of pork that stick together. Continue to simmer until pork is no longer pink, about 2 minutes.

Stir cornstarch mixture to recombine. Add to soup and increase heat to medium-high; cook, stirring occasionally, until soup thickens and turns translucent, about 1 minute. Stir in vinegar, chili oil, pepper, and remaining 3 tablespoons soy sauce; turn off heat.

Without stirring soup, use soup spoon to slowly drizzle very thin streams of egg mixture into pot in circular motion. Let soup sit 1 minute, then return saucepan to medium-high heat. Bring soup to gentle boil, then immediately remove from heat.
Gently stir soup once to evenly distribute egg; ladle into bowls and top with scallions and a drop or two of Hot Chili Oil if you are a spice lover.

Notes for next time: Be sure and get extra firm tofu, also 7 ounces was a bit much for us, use less tofu. Add Wood Ear Mushrooms.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Raspberry Streusel Coffee Cake

I purchased 6 pints of Raspberries and had to use em up. I found this recipe at the Land of Lakes website and changed it up a bit. I like the addition of Ginger and think it goes really well with the Raspberry. I also used Splenda Sugar Blend. It was tender and delicious!

For the cake
3/4 cup sugar (I used Splenda Sugar Blend)
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup milk
1 egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg (fresh is best)
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 cup fresh or individually frozen raspberries, unthawed

Streusel Ingredients:
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 cup cold butter

Heat oven to 375°F.

Combine 3/4 cup sugar and 1/4 cup butter in large bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until creamy. Add milk and eggs; continue beating, scraping bowl often, until well mixed.

Add 2 cups flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg and ginger. Reduce speed to low. Beat, scraping bowl often, until well mixed.

Spread batter into greased 8-inch square baking pan. Place the raspberries on top, pushing them into the batter.

Stir together all topping ingredients except butter in small bowl; cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle mixture over batter.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean

Monday, October 13, 2008

Beef Short Ribs

This will be the second time I have made Short Ribs, my pal Wally encouraged me the first time, and they were soo good, rich and beefy. This time I decided to do something a bit different and we were rewarded with another fantastic dinner. They were incredibly tender and flavorful! I served with steamed rice!

1 package beef short ribs trimmed of any extra fat
1 jar of your favorite barbecue sauce
1 small can of pineapple juice
1 cup of diced pineapple
2 cans of regular Coke (diet will not work)
1 sweet onion cut into slices

Heat a non stick skillet to high, add a bit of oil and sear all sides of the ribs

Place into your crock pot

Add the onion and the remaining ingredients, use only 1/2 of the jar of barbecue sauce

Let sit overnight and in the morning put into your crockpot and heat on low for 8 to 10 hours.

When the meat is literally falling off the bone, drain the liquid (saving about 2 cups back).

Return the meat to the crock pot and combine the remaining barbecue sauce with the the liquid you held back. Add that mixture to the crock pot and mix with the meat.

Serve with Rice or Mashed Potatoes

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Boo Chips

I spotted these little babies a few weeks ago and since I am GAGA over Halloween, I had to have them! Halloween is my favorite holiday and I decorate our home to the hilt! We dress up the dog as well!
This year my sweetie will be away at School for two weeks out of the month so I am protesting by going easy on the decorations!

The chips tasted exactly like Pringles, and would be a fun addition to any Halloween Party. I highly recommend them!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Snickerdoodle Cookies

I have actually only made these cookies once before and that was a LONG time ago. I know several folks whom this is their favorite cookie, and one of them just got their motorcycle license, so it was time to celebrate! I have to admit I used the recipe of my favorite baker and friend Pam!

1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 cup butter, softened
2 eggs
1/4 tsp vanilla
2 3/4 cups flour
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, combine sugar, butter, eggs and vanilla with an electric mixer until mixed thoroughly (it should be nice and creamy).

Next, add flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt - blend well. Shape into 1 1/4 inch balls.

1/4 cup of white sugar
2 tsp cinnamon

Mix sugar and cinnamon together thoroughly. Roll balls in the sugar/cinnamon mixture until covered.

Place on an ungreased cookie sheet 2 inches apart and bake 8-12 minutes.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Summer Orzo Salad

My mother in law was having a barbecue and I wanted to make a nice summery salad with fresh vegetables in a light vinaigrette. I decided to add some smoked turkey to make it a meal later in the week (as I knew I would have lots of leftovers). It was very delicious and figure friendly! I made enough for a crowd, obviously you could just use 1 box of Orzo Pasta and cut the rest of the ingredients in half for a more reasonable amount.
  • 2 boxes of Orzo Pasta
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced into cubes
  • 1 yellow or orange bell pepper, sliced into cubes
  • 1 can medium olives, drained
  • 1 pint of grape or cherry tomatoes (if they are larger cut them in half)
  • 6 scallions, chopped
  • 1 lb smoked turkey (I get it in the deli section and have them cut it 1 inch thick), cut into squares
  • Using a micro-plane grater, zest one medium lemon and 3/4 of a large orange
  • Juice of one lemon
  • ~1tbsp of lime (fresh if you have it)
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • ~1tbsp of fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1tsp of white pepper
  • 1/2 tsp of ginger powder
  • 2 tbsp of honey
  • 1/3 c of rice wine vinegar
  • 1/8c to 1/4c light oil (plain olive oil would be WAY too heavy. First pressed extra virgin or a very light corn, canola or veggie oil works fine)

Cook the pasta according to the directions on the box, drain and run cold water over the pasta to stop the cooking process. Place into your serving bowl, add the remaining ingredients and the vinaigrette, mix well and chill

Note: Amount of oil is largely up to you. You need some to create an emulsion and even more to create and hold stuff in suspension (aka mayonnaise). If you whisk and apply just prior to serving you don't have to worry about separation.

Note2: If you let the dressing/pasta sit overnight, the pasta draws in most of the flavor from the vinaigrette and makes it bland. Solution: make and add more vinaigrette.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Beer Battered Halibut

One of my favorite meals is Beer Battered Halibut and Fries, and my husband makes the BEST in town! Last night he made them for me. He fries the potatoes twice, they were awesome, crisp on the outside and tender on the inside. We used my handy Mandolin to make the fries.

We ended up starving and ate all the fries and forgot to take pictures, so you have to satisfy yourselves with the Halibut part of the meal, which was incredible as well!

I even made home made tartar sauce, I will never purchase store bought again, it was that good and soo easy!

1 to 2 lbs Halibut or Cod, we used Halibut
1 beer a fairly light one
Canola oil for frying
1 cup of flour, add salt and pepper
Any commercially sold Beer Batter Mix (normally found near the fish counter at your local grocery store)

Prepare the Beer Batter as directed on the box. Heat your oil to 375 degrees, dredge the fish in the flour mixture, shaking off any excess, and then into the Beer Batter.

Fry the fish in preheated 375F oil until cooked, about 4-5 minutes.

You can hold the fish in the oven at 170 degrees while you make the rest (place on a cookie cooling rack in the oven)

Tartar Sauce:
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tbl chopped capers
  • 2 tbl dill relish
  • 2 tbl lemon juice
*you could add dried dill but my man hates dill, so we omitted it*

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Cinnamon Swirl French Toast

We are always looking for new things for our weekend breakfast menu. We generally have family breakfast one of the two days and the other day hubby makes me something special. We saw some yummy Cinnamon Raisin Bread and decided that would make amazing French Toast, and trust me it did! Would I lie to you?????

Cinnamon Raisin Bread (this recipe makes about 8 pieces)
1 TBL vanilla
3 eggs, beaten
3/4 tsp cinnamon, (optional if you want it really cinnaminy)
1/4 tsp fresh nutmeg
1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 170 degrees, place a plate in the oven, you can hold the cooked toast in for up to 30 minutes with no degradation of flavor or texture
Whip the beaten eggs, milk, vanilla, and spices until well blended

Dip each piece of cinnamon bread into the batter mixture, let it sit for a minute or so and place on your greased griddle or non-stick fry pan.

Cook both sides until golden brown, then transfer to the oven while you finish the rest

Serve immediately with butter and warm syrup!

How to spatchcock a chicken or turkey!

Finishing some of Cheryl's drafts... Keeping spatchcocking simple. Using a VERY sharp cleaver or kitchen shears -- not scissors, carefu...