Monday, February 27, 2012

The Daring Baker: Quick Gimmie a Flavor! Bacon and Cheese Muffins

Blog-checking lines: The Daring Bakers’ February 2012 host was – Lis! Lisa stepped in last minute and challenged us to create a quick bread we could call our own. She supplied us with a base recipe and shared some recipes she loves from various websites and encouraged us to build upon them and create new flavor profiles.

Baking with bacon is not new... I've not jumped on that bandwagon - that is, until now.  When we were challenged to come up with flavors for a quick bread recipe I knew I wanted to do something with bacon.  Not only would I be my husband's hero, but I might even make something that would please the other household members.  These muffins were good but I still think the recipe could be tweaked to make them even more fabulous.  I'm thinking a hint of cayenne would be tasty... heck, when isn't adding cayenne a tasty thing!?!
Even  adding some caramelized onion... OK, now I'm drooling.  

The quick bread Lisa posted was a nice looking one, but to make the muffins more savory, I had to change the recipe a bit.
    Bacon Cheese Muffins

    Makes one 9” x 5” (23×13 cm) loaf
    Recipe from Sara Schewe

    2 cups (480 ml) (250 gm/9 oz) all-purpose (plain) flour
    1 cup (240 ml) (225 gm/8 oz) granulated sugar
    1 teaspoon (5 ml) (5 gm) baking soda
    1/2 teaspoon (2½ ml) (3 gm) fine sea salt or table salt
    1 cup (240 ml) buttermilk or soured milk*
    1 large egg
    1/4 cup (60 ml) mild- or non-flavored oil, like canola
    1 teaspoon (5 ml) flavored extract, such as vanilla or almond

    Preheat oven to moderate 350ºF/180ºC/gas mark 4. Grease a 9×5 inch (23×13 centimeter) loaf pan with butter and line with parchment paper cut to fit the length and width of the pan, with enough overhang to allow easy removal after baking. Grease the top sheet of parchment.
    In large bowl, whisk flour, sugar, baking soda and salt to combine. Make a well in the center and set aside.
    Lightly whisk (butter)milk, egg, oil, and extract to combine. Pour into well and stir until just mixed into a batter. The batter will be lumpy and may still show a few streaks of flour.
    Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes, then remove from pan and cool completely before slicing. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Creamy Roasted Garlic Soup

I have been making an attempt to keep our Monday's meat-less.. ish.  I think that since I use beef or chicken broth I can't exactly say it is meatless.  Anyway, I'm a huge soup fan and have been aching to try my hand at garlic soup.  It just sounds so intriguing! I love garlic. I love soup... to me its just a win win!
I found a recipe here  on the food network website.  I did want to shake it up a bit; I wanted to roast my garlic first.  The cheese adds just the right bite to it and takes this soup over the top!

Creamy Roasted Garlic Soup
adapted from the food network
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup onions, thinly sliced
2 heads of garlic, roasted
1 cup dry white wine
1 quart chicken stock
1 bay leaf
2 cups of French bread, 2-inch pieces
3/4 cup heavy cream
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup Gruyere cheese, grated

To roast the Garlic: cut head of garlic in half.  Lightly drizzle with olive oil and wrap in parchment paper or tinfoil.  Bake at 375 Degrees F. for about thirty minutes.

In a large soup pot add tablespoon of olive oil; add onion and cook over medium heat for 8 minutes.  Add roasted garlic to pot and continue cooking for another 4-5 minutes; the onion and garlic will begin to caramelize.
Deglaze the pot by adding the wine and continue to cook for 10 minutes. Add the stock and bay leaf; bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for thirty minutes.Remove from the heat and add the bread cubes. Allow the soup to sit without heat for 10 minutes. Remove the bay leaf. Using a hand held blender, puree until smooth. Add the cream and adjust the seasonings. Serve garnished  with the cheese.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Have the Cake Challenge: black and white cookies

Black and white cookies have always interested me.  Never having tasted one, I was just intrigued by the name, so when this month's Have the Cake challenge was to make either Black & White Cookies or Linzer cookies... well, of course I had to make the Black & White!  From what I understand, these cookies are quite popular in the North Eastern states, particularly New York. They are more cake like in texture rather than the crispy or chewy texture one would expect from a cookie.  I did a combination of two recipes, the dough from Smitten Kitten and the glaze  from Joy of Baking

Black and White Cookies
 Smitten Kitten's recipe which she adapted from a bunch of places, but mostly Zabar’s

1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), at room temperature
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon lemon extract
2 1/2 cups cake flour
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

from Joy the Baker
4 cups confectioners sugar
1/3 - 1/2 cup hot water
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 ounce (30 grams) bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped 

 Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray 2 baking sheets with nonstick spray, or use a Silpat (silicone baking sheet).  I don't like to use parchment paper on sticky cookies but that is an option, too.

In large mixing bowl, combine sugar and butter; mix until fluffy.  Generally this takes 3-5 minutes, it will depend on room temperature, temperature of the butter. You can tell when they are “light and fluffy” by the appearance; it should be very light in color. Next, add the eggs, milk and vanilla and lemon extracts; mix until smooth.

In medium bowl, combine cake flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder and salt; gently whisk together.  Add dry mixture to the wet in batches, stirring well after each addition. 

Place heaping spoonfuls of the dough 2 inches apart on the baking sheets;bake until edges begin to brown, 18 to 20 minutes. Let cookies cool completely.

Place the confectioners sugar in a large bowl. Gradually Stir in the hot water (it is best to pour in a bit at a time so that you can keep track of its consistency easier), add corn syrup,and vanilla extract, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick, smooth, and of spreading consistency. Add more sugar or water if necessary to get the right consistency.

Remove about 1/2 cup (120 ml) of the frosting and place it in another bowl. In a small microwavable bowl, add the finely chopped chocolate. Melt on high for about thirty seconds; stir. Add the melted chocolate to the 1/2 cup frosting.

Turn the cookies so the flat bottoms are facing up. Spread white glaze over half the cookie. Repeat with the remaining cookies. If the frosting/glaze thickens too much, add a few drops of water.

Once all the cookies are covered with the white frosting, then cover the other half of each cookie with the chocolate frosting. If the chocolate frosting becomes too thick, add a little hot water to thin the frosting.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Monthly Challenge: Macaroni and Cheese Soup

The Monthly Challenge for February was to make soup or stew.  I have to ask your forgiveness.  You see, this soup was so delicious that I completely forgot to take a picture!  Everyone in the family gave this a big hooray... doesn't happen that often when we all can agree on a keeper recipe!

Macaroni and Cheese Soup
adapted from Food Network Magazine

Kosher salt
1 cup dry elbow macaroni
1/2 medium onion, chopped fine
2 tablespoons butter
1 carrot, shredded
1 stalk celery, shredded
3/4 teaspoon dry mustard powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (we like heat so I added more, but this is a good start!)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 and 3/4 cups chicken stock
1 and 1/4 cups milk
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend


Fill a large sauce pan with water, add kosher salt and bring to a boil.  Add macaroni and cook according to
package directions.  Drain and set aside.

In a saucepan, add 2 tablespoons butter and melt; add the vegetables and cook over medium high heat until softened, about 4 minutes.  Add the flour; cook stirring constantly for another 2 minutes (you want the flour to brown slightly to eliminate the raw taste of flour).  Add the mustard powder ad cayenne pepper.  Gradually stir in the stock and bring to a boil; stir until thickened, about 6 minutes.
Remove from the heat and add the milk, cheeses and macaroni.  Stir until the cheese melt; season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 4

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Daring Kitchen: Black Bean Burgers

Blog-checking lines: The Daring Cooks’ February 2012 challenge was hosted by Audax & Lis and they chose to present Patties for their ease of construction, ingredients and deliciousness! We were given several recipes, and learned the different types of binders and cooking methods to produce our own tasty patties!
I've been wanting to try my hand at making black bean burgers for a long time now.  Pure laziness on my part is the only reason why I haven't made them yet.  Man, I could kick myself for not making them sooner!  These burgers were AWESOME!  They will definitely be something that I will make to keep on hand for myself.  Don't worry dear husband... your patties will forever be with meat :-)  I used canned black beans and rinsed and drained them.  The trick is to let them drain completely.  You do not want to be adding excess moisture to these.

Annies Eats even had a recipe for Light Brioche Burger Buns that I made... Supper yummy!  What a great challenge this was.

Black Bean Burgers
adapted from Annies Eats

Yield: 6 burgers

for the crumbs:
1 cup panko
 2 tsp. olive oil

For the bugers
2 (15 oz.) cans black beans, drained and rinsed, divided
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper (I like the added heat so increased it from the original 1/4 teaspoon)
1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and finely diced
1 1/2 teaspoons dried cilantro flakes, (you could easily add 1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro but I'm not that huge of a fan and prefer the taste of the dried)
1 small onion, finely diced

I think this was the key to making these burgers over the top, so don't omit this step! Toast the panko in a skillet, over medium high heat with 2 teaspoons of olive oil.  Stir frequently until the crumbs turn a light golden brown.
In a large bowl, mash 2 1/2 cups of the beans until almost smooth.  I had to use a fork to get them started and then was able to use a potato masher to finish it up.  Whisk together the two large eggs; add to beans. Add the remaining ingredients, including the toasted panko, and blend well (I used my hands for this).

Divide the mixture into 6 equal portions, about ½ cup each. Lightly pack into 1-inch thick patties. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook until well browned on both sides, about 8-10 minutes total.  Serve warm.

Burgers can be made and refrigerated ahead of time, up to 24 hours.  

Monday, February 13, 2012

Secret Recipe Club: Living Lou's Chicken Wings

  Once again it is group B's reveal day for the Secret Recipe Club... the day in which we reveal which blog we have been secretly following (and in my case falling in love with!). Living Lou's blog is just amazing! There are soooooo many drool worthy recipes, of which many she has created herself. In our family we love our chicken wings and was delighted to find this recipe of hers to give a try.

I loved the Spice rub and will be using that over and over again on other meats. I, personally, liked the dipping sauce but some of my family members thought the mustard to be a bit over powering. Win some, lose some! Next on my list is to try her Roasted Sweet Potato Soup.... yum.

Living Lou’s Chicken Wings
Recipe by Lou

Ingredients 3 lbs chicken wings
        For Spice Rub
1 tbsp chipotle chili pepper powder
1 tsp sweet paprika
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp dried mustard
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp brown sugar
         For dipping Sauce
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1/4 cup spicy mustard
1/4 cup molasses
3 tbsp ketchup
2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp chipotle hot sauce
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder

Preheat oven to 375.
Combine ingredients for the sauce in a bowl and refrigerate for 15-30 minutes.
In a separate bowl, combine ingredients for the spice rub.
Place wings in a large bowl and cover with spice rub. Using tongs mix chicken wings and make sure all pieces are well coated.

I used a sheet pan lined with aluminum foil, lightly sprayed with cooking spray.  I then placed spice rubbed chicken on the pan giving them room in between pieces.  Place in the oven for 15-18 minutes. Turn the wings over and bake for another 15-18 minutes more.
Once cooking time is up, turn on the broiler and remove wings to another large bowl. Pour 1/2 cup of the sauce over the wings, use tongs to stir and coat the chicken.
Place back on the baking sheet and broil for 2 minutes on one side, then flip chicken over and broil for 1 minute on the other side.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Oh So Yummy Green Beans!

As I am learning this whole blogging thing... (yes, I've been doing it for almost two years but I am a slow learner!) I'm learning about blog etiquette. Its frustrating to want to do the right thing when your computer isn't letting you.  I apologize for not responding to comments.  Honestly, I can't begin to express the joy I get when I have a comment to my post.  I'm working with blogger help to get this resolved (God Bless those marvelous patient people!) but not having much luck finding the problem. Keep writing though... please!

As my Fibromyalgia has been battling me and my knees are screaming, the doctor and I agree that its time for me to drop some weight.  Why is it that even though I went into the doctor with a firm conviction to speak with her about dieting, the minute the doctor tells me I should lose weight , I get the attitude of "YOU can't tell me what to do!"  After I had my short burst of rebellion (maybe it lasted a few days :-)) I spoke with my husband about a new plan.  I've struggled with an eating disorder and and having "Forbidden" foods is a trigger for me.  So we decided that we would just implement more fruits and veggies into our diet.  Mind you, I'm not a huge vegetable fan but I will tolerate some.  I found some fresh green beans down at our local Costco and wanted to jazz them up a bit.  On I found a recipe called Green beans with Almonds and Caramelized  Shallots.  I was totally game with it but had to do a bit of fussing with it. Part of the reason is because I had only one shallot on hand so had to substitute regular onion.  The other reason being I like to add Cayenne pepper to my vegetables.
Oh So Yummy Green Beans
adapted from this recipe this recipe
1/4 blanched slivered almonds or chopped almonds (see note to learn how to blanch your almonds!)
1 tablespoon butter
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 orange bell pepper, chopped (can substitute using red or yellow bell pepper)
2 teaspoons white sugar
1 teaspoon salt (more if desired)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper (more if desired)
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (omit if desired)
1 1/2 pounds fresh green beans, trimmed and snapped

In a dry skillet, over low heat, place the almonds and cook and stir continuously until they are lightly toasted.  Almonds can quickly go from tasted to burnt so be sure to pay attention!  It took me only three minutes to get mine toasted. Remove from pan and set aside.
Insert a steamer into a saucepan and fill with water to just below the steamer.  Bring water to a boil.  Add the green beans, cover and steam until tender enough to pierce with a fork.  I like my beans a little less done... I want a bit of a crunch so I steamed for five minutes.  Drain the green beans and set aside.
While green beans are steaming; using a skillet, heat butter overmedium-low heat; add onions and bell pepper until softened.  This took me about eight minutes.  Reduce heat to low and add sugar, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper.  Cook until sugar is dissolved and onions have caramelized, about 5 to 8 minutes.
Add the green beans to the skillet, mix well and stir in the toasted almonds.

Serves 6

Note: how to blanch almonds
Place almonds in a bowl.
Pour boiling water to barely cover almonds.
Let the almonds sit for 1 minute and no longer.
Drain, rinse under cold water, and drain again.
Pat dry and slip the skins off.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Mom's Crazy Cooking: Gaga’s Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake

Strange as it may seem, I am more of a cupcake gal than a cake gal.  Weird since it is the same batter.  I think it has to do with guilt... compared to a layer cake a cupcake is much smaller.  Possibly I am just trying to fool my thighs but in the end it all goes there any way.  Mom's crazy cooking challenge for February was to make a chocolate layer cake.  Sounds simple enough doesn't it. For me the challenge is not making the reicpe, it is finding one. We are not supposed to use a "professional" blogger's recipe.  But I can think of worse things to do than having to browse through all of the wonderfully put together blogs out there!
My daughter suggested making a mayonnaise cake.  I've heard of them but never tasted one. My search led me to Amber's blog Bluebonnets and Brownies.  Her blog is awesome!  She shared a recipe for her Gaga's Chocolate Mayonnaise cake.  It doesn't have much of a rise to it and in many ways reminded me of our family's egg-less Wacky Cake.  It was very moist and layered beautifully.  I frosted using my favorite go to chocolate frosting that uses flour

Bluebonnets and Brownies: Gaga's Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
6 tablespoons cocoa
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup mayonnaise – no substitutes
1 cup cold coffee  ( I used espresso)
1 teaspoon vanilla

preheat oven 350 degrees F.
Sift together dry ingredients – set aside.
In mixing bowl combine mayonnaise, cold coffee and vanilla; add the sifted ingredients 1/3 at a time.  Beat until mixture is smooth Pour into 2 greased and floured 9-inch cake pans. Bake 25 to 35 minutes taking care not to over bake.


Saturday, February 4, 2012

Spicy Chicken Drumsticks

Sorry about the mishap... this was not supposed to post until I was done with it.  My brain is on overload these days and I'm just scatterbrained.
With having a houseful of people (6 adults and one toddler) I'm looking out for cheap meals.  doesn't hurt if they are quick and easy either!  I had some chicken drumsticks in the freezer and did a mishmash of two different recipes. Overall it was pretty tasty.  Its a lot like hot wings only on a bigger scale.

Spicy Chicken Drumsticks
one package, thawed chicken drumsticks (not the flash frozen type) which had fourteen drumsticks in it.
1/2 cup hot pepper sauce
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon curry powder
2 teaspoons poultry seasoning

Place chicken drumsticks  into a food storage bag and pour over hot sauce.  Let Marinade for at least one hour or overnight if you desire.

Heat oven to 425 degrees F.  Line a cooking sheet with heavy duty aluminum foil. Place 1/4 cup of butter onto sheet and place in oven to melt.
In a large bowl, combine the flour salt, pepper and spices.  Blend together completely.  Roll drumsticks into flour/spice mixture to coat.  Place chicken onto prepared pan.
Bake uncovered for 20 minutes, turn over and bake 20 minutes more.  Chicken should be starting to pull away from bone. So you may have to adapt your time somewhat.