Friday, December 31, 2010

Steel Cut Oats

Even if you don't like oatmeal, (which I love) I think you should give steel cut oats a try. They are nothing like rolled oats. Steel cut oats are the whole oat kernel, or groat, that his been cut with a steel blade. They can be hard to find and expensive at a regular grocery store. I buy mine in bulk from Sunflower Market for under $1/lb, I'm sure they're available at Whole Foods or any other health food store. They take quite a bit longer to cook, but are so very worth it!

Steel Cut Oats
  • 3 1/2 C water

  • 1/2 C milk

  • 1 C steel cut oats

  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)

    In a Dutch oven, bring the water to a boil. Add oats. Simmer, uncovered, for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until oats have thickened and the water is almost absorbed. Add the milk and vanilla if desired, cook about 5 more minutes or until thickened to desired consistency.
    Makes 3-4 servings.
The texture and flavor of steel cut oats is quite different from that of rolled oats, and certainly of quick cooking oats. Nutty, sweet, kinda chewy. Yum. I usually sweeten mine with brown sugar and add a few walnuts. The vanilla adds a really nice touch, but you can leave it out if you want. It's also good with a few fresh or frozen berries thrown in.

If you don't have the time to cook them in the morning, you can do them over night in the crock pot. I've never cooked them that way, but I'm sure a quick Google search will bring you several recipes.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Stuffed Shells

I got this recipe from my friend Amanda, and it quickly became my husband's favorite!

Stuffed Shells

  • 15 Jumbo Shells
  • 1 lb Italian sausage
  • 10 oz frozen spinach, thawed and drained
  • 15 oz container ricotta cheese
  • 5-6 C red pasta sauce
  • 1 C shredded mozzarella cheese

1. Cook the shells according to directions on the package.

2. Meahwhile, brown the sausage and drain if desired.

3. In a large bowl, mix together the ricotta, spinach, and sausage.

4. Drain shells and rinse with cold water until easy to handle.

5. Cover the bottom of a 9"x13" baking dish with a thin layer of sauce. Stuff shells with sausage mixture and arrange in a single layer in the baking dish.

6. Cover with remaining sauce.

7. Bake, uncovered at 350 for 20-25 minutes, or until sauce is bubbling. Top with mozzarella and bake 5-10 minutes more, or until cheese is all melted. Let sit a few minutes before serving.

I like to add a lightly beaten egg or a little milk to the ricotta mixture, it just adds a little extra creaminess. For the sauce, you can use jarred, but I just make my own. I use 3 14.5oz cans of tomato sauce and just season to taste. I've also used grated zucchini in place of the spinach with equally delicious results. To stuff the shells you can either use a spoon, or place the mixture in a large zip top bag, cut off a corner, and pipe the stuffing into the shells. I cook at least a couple extra shells because there always seems to be one or two that fall apart.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Creamy Chicken Enchiladas

  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed
  • 2 cans cream of chicken soup
  • 1 pkg (8oz) cream cheese
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 can (40z) chopped green chilis, optional
  • 2 C salsa
  • 8 flour tortillas
  • Cheese

Cook onion and chicken in a large skillet until chicken is fully cooked. Add cream cheese, stirring until melted. Add 1 can of soup, spices and chilis, stir to mix well.

Place about 1/4 to 1/3 cup of chicken mixture down center of each tortilla, roll and place seam-side down in a greased 9x13 baking dish. Combine salsa and 1 can of soup in a bowl and pour over enchiladas. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes until heated through. Top with cheese and bake 5 minutes more.

I created this recipe the other night when I couldn't decide what I wanted to make, didn't want the same old thing, and was feeling too lazy to go in search of a new recipe. I know traditional enchiladas are made with corn tortillas, and you could do that if you want, but this was really tasty! I like to use whole wheat or multigrain tortillas. It's kinda a combination of a couple different enchilada recipes I have. I thought there was a little too much sauce for my taste, but my hubby loved them as is. This recipe is easily adapted to your tastes. Add more chili powder, use a different kind of tortilla, use ground beef, and some rice or beans to make them stretch farther... You get the idea. I'll definitely be making these again!

Pecan Roll-Ups

  • 1 C butter, room temperature

  • 1 pkg (8oz) cream cheese, room temperature

  • 2 C all-purpose flour

  • 1/4 tsp salt

  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract

  • 2 C pecan halves (or chopped, they work fine too)

  • 1 C powdered sugar

In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer) beat butter, cream cheese and vanilla until light and fluffy. Combine flour and salt, and gradually add to the butter mixture and mix well. Cover and refrigerate 1-2 hours, or until easy to handle.

Divid dough in half. On a surface dusted with flour or powdered sugar, roll out one portion of dough into an 18"x8" rectangle. Cut widthwise into six 3" sections. Cut each section into 3"x1" stips. Roll each strip around a pecan half, or pinch of chopped pecans, place 1" apart on on ungreased baking sheets.

Bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes, or until bottoms are lightly browned. Remove to wire racks to cool completely. Roll in or dust with powdered sugar. Store loosely covered, or freeze up to 3 months. YEILD: 8 dozen

Buttery and rich, a little flaky and crunchy, these are a perfect holiday cookie! They are a bit time consuming, but soooo worth it. When rolling them out, I recommend dusting your surface with powdered sugar to help impart a little bit more sweetness. I think using flour would make them bland. These are nice because they are much less sweet than most holiday goodies. I'm not very good at rolling dough into a rectangle. The first half of dough I didn't do a very good job on. It was too thick and the cookies ended up being a little doughy. The second half of dough I did a bit better on. I shaped the dough into a log before rolling, then I took more time to get it shaped better. That second batch turned out much nicer. Also make sure you do not under-cook these. Some cookies are forgiving of a little underdoneness, these are not.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Sausage and Rice Stew

Come join the fun at the My Baking Addiction and GoodLife Eats Holiday Recipe Swap, sponsored by Le Creuset!

Mmmm.... comfort food. It means different things to different people, but to me it involves something warm, usually creamy, and loaded with carbs. I'm entering this recipe in another GoodLife Eats/My Baking Addction recipe swap and contest. This one's theme is comfort food and the prize is a 5 QT French Oven from Le Creuset.

Sausage and Rice Stew

  • 1 pkg of smoked sausage, sliced

  • 1 large onion, chopped

  • 3 garlic cloves, minced

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil

  • 2 cans (14.5oz each) chicken broth

  • 2 cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

  • 1 C uncooked rice

  • 1 tsp dried oregano

  • 1 tsp dried thyme

  • 2 C fresh spinach, roughly chopped

  • 1/2 C half-and-half

  • Grated Parmesan, optional

In a Dutch oven, saute the onion, garlic, and sausage in the olive oil until onion is crisp-tender. Add remaining ingredients except spinach and half-and-half and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 15-20 minutes or until rice is done, stirring occasionally. Stir in spinach and half-and-half, cook 5 minutes more or until spinach is wilted. Salt and pepper to taste and top with grated Parmesan, if desired.

This is a really easy one pot meal. It's easily lightened up by omiting the half-and-half and/or the parmesan. It will still have great flavor. I sometimes like to use a purple onion, it adds nice color. I really love the flavor of thyme, so sometimes I skip the oregano and double the thyme. I don't always use fresh spinach. In fact, I usually just toss in a handful or two of frozen chopped spinach- I buy it in the bags so I can more easily use the amount I want, I hate those little boxes.

I hope you enjoy, and don't forget to vote for me!
(I tried to put the cute little button you can click instead of the link, but I just don't have that figured out yet)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Almond Biscotti

I do more than bake, I promise! It's just that time of year....

I've never made, or even eaten biscotti before. An Italian cookie intended to be dipped in coffee just never really appealed to me, not being a coffee drinker. Then the other day I came across this recipe for almond biscotti and I thought "Duh! You could dunk it in hot chocolate!"

This recipe came from, and the only change I made was I used slivered almonds instead of whole blanched almonds. Saves a step since you don't have to chop them.... and there were no whole blanched almonds at the store. :) You can dip the end of these in melted chocolate as a nice finishing touch, but since I dunk them in hot chocolate instead of coffee, I didn't want them to be too rich.

Almond Biscotti

1 C slivered almonds

1 tsp baking powder

1/8 tsp salt

2 C all-purpose flour

3/4 sugar

3 large eggs

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1/2 tsp pure almond extract

Preheat oven to 350. Spread almonds on a baking sheet and toast about 8 minutes, or until lightly browned and fragrant. Let cool

Reduce oven temp to 300, line baking sheet with parchment.

In a small bowl, lightly whisk the eggs and extracts.

In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer) combine the dry ingredients, beating on low speed till well blended, about 30 seconds. Gradually add the egg mixture, adding the almonds about halfway through. Continue to mix until a dough forms.

On a lightly floured surface roll the dough into a log about 14 inches long and 3-4 inches wide. Transfer log to the parchment lined baking sheet. Bake 30-40 minutes, or until firm to the touch. Log will spread some during baking.

Remove to wire rack and let cool about 10 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and cut in to 1/2 inch slices on the diagonal, using a serrated knife.

Arrange slices evenly on the baking sheet, and bake 10 minutes, turn and bake another 10 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container.

To dip in chocolate: Melt 3 oz of semisweet or bittersweet chocolate and 1 tsp of butter in a small metal bowl placed over a pan of simmering water. Stir until melted and smooth. Dip one end of each biscotti in the melted chocolate and let dry on a sheet of parchment.

Yeld: about 28 biscotti

I don't think all bloggers are self-obsessed

So, in my first post, when discussing why I'd always been "no way!" about having a blog before, I said that a blog was a platform for the self-obsessed. In a comment, I said that not all bloggers are that way. So I thought I'd post here that I don't think that way about all bloggers, in case people don't take the time to read the comments. Not all bloggers are compliment-fishers. I don't want to turn people away because they think that I think they are narcissistic. Blogging, Facebook, Twitter etc... they're all similar. They're all a place for people to talk about themselves. I've been on Facebook for a couple years, and I now have a blog that I want people to read. So see, I'm a little self-obsessed too.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Chocolate Peppermint Cupcakes

A pretty holiday treat.

Crazy Cake (for the cupcake)
  • 3 C flour

  • 2 C sugar

  • 6 Tbsp cocoa powder

  • 2 tsp baking soda

  • 1 tsp salt

  • 1 tsp vanilla

  • 3 Tbsp white vinegar or lemon juice

  • 2 C water
  • 2/3 C canola oil

Preheat oven to 350. Line muffin tins with paper liners.

Combine dry ingredients in the bowl of your electric mixer, or in a large mixing bowl if using a hand mixer. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients on low speed for 30 seconds or until combined. Increase speed to medium and beat for 1 minute.

Spoon into prepared pans, filling each cup about 2/3 full.

Bake 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Cool in pans about 5 minutes, then remove to wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

Yield: 3-4 dozen cupcakes

Chocolate Mint Buttercream

  • 12 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped

  • 4 sticks butter, room temperature

  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

  • 1/2 tsp peppermint extract

  • 3 Tbsp milk

  • 5 C powdered sugar

Place chocolate in a stainless steel bowl, and place bowl over a pan of simmering water. Stir until melted and smooth. Allow to cool

Cream butter with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy, about 2-3 minutes. Gradually add chocoalte and mix just until combined. Add extracts, milk, and powdered sugar. Beat until well combined and a smooth, creamy consistency, being careful not to over mix.

To finish cupcakes:

Pipe or spread frosting onto cupcakes and top with a sprinkle of crushed candy canes.

Crazy cake is a recipe that has been in my mom's family for years. I had thought it was unique, I'd never heard of using vinegar in a cake. I have recently seen similar recipes, though. It's not a super rich or chocolatey cake, but is moist and has a nice, tender texture. It's good paired with the super rich and creamy chocolate buttercream.

This frosting recipe came from Martha Stewart's website. It is the best chocolate frosting I've ever had! The original recipe calls for 1 1/2 tsp of vanilla, but I substituted 1/2 tsp of the vanilla for peppermint extract. You could use more if you like a stronger peppermint flavor. It makes a lot of frosting! You don't have to use semisweet chocolate. Any kind you like will be fine. I only had 8 oz of semisweet chocolate, so I used 4 oz of dark chocolate too. A half batch is plenty to fill and frost a double layer cake. For cupcakes, it's going to depend on how much frosting you like to use. I like to pipe frosting on cupcakes because it looks so pretty, but I don't pile it on super high. I made a full batch, and had about 2 cups of frosting left over after doing 36 cupcakes. I have yet to try it, but I have heard that it will freeze ok for a month or two. I just put it in the fridge, and will probably use it to make graham cracker sandwiches for my 3 year old.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Orange Scones with Chocolate Drizzle

Come join the fun at the MyBaking Addiction and GoodLife Eats Holiday Recipe Swap sponsored by Scharffen Berger!

I adapted this recipe from a scottish scone recipe I got from Molly Wizenberg's book A Homemade Life. (I'm sure it's on her blog, Orangette, as well, but I didn't get it from there.) Her recipe calls for lemon zest and crystalized ginger. I'm definitely not a ginger fan, so I skipped that part and used orange instead of lemon zest. And so I could include it in the My Baking Addiction and GoodLife Eats recipe contest (vote for me!), I added a lovely chocolate drizzle on top. I've made these twice now, once last night, which my husband and I promptly devoured, and again this afternoon so I could photograph them.

Even though a couple of the instructions are a little weird, they are pretty easy and quick to put together. She tells you to smoosh the butter into the dry ingredients with your hands, rather than cutting in in with a pastry blender. No idea why, but it gets the job done. Also, she reccomends only kneading the dough 12 times. Twelve is apparently the magic number, any more and the dough will get over worked and be tough. I found it a little difficult to knead exactly 12 times, as this is a very soft and sticky dough, and you don't really knead it like you would bread dough. It's more mash it til it comes together. Anyway, it's easy and soooo good!

Orange scones with chocolate drizzle:

  • 2 C all purpose flour

  • 2 tsp baking powder

  • 1/2 tsp salt

  • 4 Tbs cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

  • 2 Tbs sugar

  • Zest of one small orange (I didn't measure, I'd guess about a tablespoon)

  • 1/2 cup half-and-half, plus a splash more for glazing (optional)

  • 1 large egg

  • 2 oz chocolate, chopped (any kind you like will do, I used dark chocolate)

Preheat oven to 425

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Using your hands, rub the butter into the flour mixture, squeezing and pinching until mixture resembles a course meal and ther are no butter lumps bigger than a pea. Add the orange zest and sugar and whisk to combine.

In a small bowl, combing 1/2 cup half-and-half and egg. Whisk or beat with a fork until well combined. Add to flour mixture and stir until just combined.

Turn out dough and any unincorporated flour onto a board or countertop. Press and gather and gently knead it until it just comes together. (Not too much! 12 is the magic number here.)

As soon as the dough holds together, pat it into a circle about 1 inch thick--doesn't need to be perfect. Cut into 8 wedges. Place wedges on a baking sheet lined with parchment. If desired, pour a little bit of half-and-half into a bowl and brush onto tops of scones to glaze.

Bake 10-14 minutes or until lightly golden. Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly. (Best served warm.)

Place chocolate in a small stainless steel bowl and place over a pan of simmering water. Whisk chocolate till smooth, then drizzle over tops of scones. Tip: catch the drips by placing the parchment from the baking sheet under wire rack.

Enjoy with a glass of cold milk!

I love food

I like to eat. I like to cook. I like trying new recipes. I like cookbooks. I like Food Network. I like cooking magazines. I like food blogs. I love food!

Really, I only started this blog so I could enter a recipe contest on Good Life Eats. Really. I once swore I would never ever in a million years have a blog. Talk about a platform for the self-obsessed. Facebook is bad enough. (Yes, I am addicted to facebook. I check it more times a day than I care to admit.) I thought about this for a while, and thought, heck, why not. At least a food blog serves a purpose. Food one thing we all have in common. Whether you like too cook it or just eat it, we all need food.

I am by no means a gourmet chef. I'm just a stay-at-home mom that likes to cook. I like recipes that are simple, but delicious. My kitchen is small. I don't have any fancy equipment. I don't really even have a decent chef's knife. After nearly 8 years of marriage, I just got my first stand mixer a couple months ago, and it's even refurbished. Sometimes I like to try fancy, more complicated recipes, but for the most part I like easy and tasty.

Come cook with me!