Monday, July 31, 2006

Apple Chicken

Yet another recipe from Leanne Ely's book Saving Dinner. Again, another hit! Dh is totally bored with chicken and sauce recipes, so I'm going to have to lay off them for a while. Sigh. But the kids just loved it! I thought it was very tasty too! Hannah and Hypatia and their friend who ate with us just ate it all up very happily. Of course Hypatia picked off all the apples, but she ate the chicken just fine.

I didn't notice until I was copying the recipe into the blog that it said to cut the chicken into little pieces. I did my typical long strips. Ooops! I didn't use so many apples either. It seemed like too much to me. So, I used only 2 chicken breasts, 1 apple, and since I only had 1/2 cup of wine on hand, I cut all of the sauce ingredients by 1/3. I didn't use cornstarch, either. I used ultra gel instead.

Apple Chicken
1 1/4 teaspoons vegetable oil
6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
4 Granny Smith apples, cored and sliced into 1/2 inch wedges
3/4 cup dry white wine
3/4 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup cider vinegar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet. Add chicken and brown on all sides. Add apple slices, saute 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 1/2 the wine and chicken broth, reduce heat, cover, and simmer 10 minutes. Mix remaining wine and broth together with remaining ingredients; add to skillet. cook over medium heat, stirring consstantly until sauce thickens.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Spicy Honey-Glazed Chicken

This is another recipe from Leanne Ely's Book Saving Dinner. It was a winner. Sean loved it because it was topped with fresh cilantro. Otherwise, I think he would have thought it was pretty ho-hum. Fresh herbs make such a huge difference! Personally, I thought it was a great recipe, and my children liked it, too. Of course Hypatia picked off the cilantro and onions that topped it.

When a recipe calls for whole chicken breasts, I usually cut the breasts into strips. I find that the whole breasts are too big for one person anyway. I used two large breast halves for this recipe. Other than that,I followed the recipe exactly.

Spicy Honey-Glazed Chicken
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons frozen orange juice concentrate
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 teaspoon olive oil
6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
Salt and pepper to taste
cilantro, chopped
green onions, chopped

In a small bowl, combine honey, orange juice, garlic, and red pepper flakes.

In a skilllet, heat butter and olive oil over medium heat, add chicken, salt and pepper to taste, and brown, about 4 minutes on each side.

Add honey mixture to the skillet and cook, turning to thoroughly coat the chicken. Cook 2 more minutes or until sauce begins to thicken.

Tp serve, place chicken on plate, spoon sauce over the top and sprinkle with cilantro and green onions.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Blueberry Banana Bread

We love banana bread and I make it often. Usually I put walnuts in it, but I used up all of our walnuts the other day when I made those glorious sticky buns. So no walnuts today! I considered putting chocolate chips in. Sean and I like it that way, but for some reason, my children don't! LOL! Go figure. I got the idea to put blueberries in the bread. Ding ding, we have a winner! It was great! We buy blueberries in the summer at the farmers market and then bag and freeze them. We mainly do this to maintain Sean's blueberry pancake with blackberry syrup obsession (about which I'll post in a future blog). We always have frozen blueberries on hand. So I made one of the banana bread loaves plain for the kids, and I added blueberries to the other. It was simply wonderful! Yum!

I use the banana cake recipe from an older edition of the Betty Crocker cookbook (around 1986, I think) for my banana bread recipe. I usually add 1 teaspoon of cinnamon to the recipe. For some crazy reason I added 2 this time. I'll stick to 1 in the future. Also, I got the idea to add some molasses to this recipe too. I didn't like the addition, and I won't be doing that again! Maybe I just put too much in. I think I added somewhere between 1 and 2 tablespoons. I definately tasted it in the finished product. It also gave the bread a much darker color.

Blueberry Banana Bread
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teapoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter
1 cup mashed ripe banana
2/3 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
about 1 1/2 cup fresh or frozen blueberries (I didn't really measure)

Grease and lightly flour two loaf pans. In a mixer bowl combine the first 5 ingredients. Add butter and banana; beat on low speed of electric mixer till combined. Add buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla; beat 2 minutes on medium speed. Fold in blueberries. Turn batter into prepared pans. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes or until done. Cool 10 minutes on wire racks. Romove from pans; cool thoroughly.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Lemon Pasta with Simple Sauteed Mushrooms

My in-laws make a lemon pasta similar to this. I just added the ham for something different. The garlic is my addition also.

These mushrooms are just one of my favorite things to make. I learned from my Dad that just about anything is good when sauteed in Worchester Sauce. To quote Hannah when she eats these mushrooms: "Mmmmmm, yum, you made them just how I like them."

This is an easy and quick meal to make.

Lemon Pasta
4 cloves garlic, chopped finely
juice and zest of 2 lemons
1/2 cup heavy cream, or half and half
1/2 cup grated pecorino romano cheese (parmesan would be good, too, but I only had pecorino, so thats what I used)
about 4 oz. ham, chopped into big(ish) chunks
1/2 lb linguini, cooked
salt and pepper, to taste

Boil the water and cook the pasta.

While the water is coming to a boil, make the sauce. In a medium saucepan, combine the cream, zest, lemon juice, and garlic. Heat gently to just boiling. Add the Add the cheese and stir. Add the ham, and heat through. Remove from heat. (Be careful not to overheat)

When the pasta is cooked, add it to the sauce and stir to combine.

Simple Sauteed Mushrooms
1/2 lb. mushrooms, sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
1-2 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

In a saucepan, combine all ingredients, and saute until the mushrooms have released juices. My kids love these! Even Hypatia voluntarily ate some!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Romano Turkey Burgers

This next recipe comes from a book called Saving Dinner, by Leanne Ely, who runs a website, also called Saving Dinner. In her book, she plans out dinners by the week, complete with weekly shopping lists. All you have to do is pick a week and use her list. On her website, you can subscribe to her service which provides new menus every week. I don't know if I would ever need pre-planned menus like that, but her book is full of simple dinner ideas. They are all quick and easy to make. I've only made two recipes so far, and they were both good. I'm planning on using many of her recipes during the coming month. I'll let you know how they turn out!

I changed this recipe very little. I used real garlic instead of powder. This is something I almost always do. Call me a garlic snob if you want, but I don't use powder or even those jars of already chopped garlic. Honestly, nothing compares. So, I used 2 or 3 gloves of garlic, and since I broke my garlic press, I had to mince it by hand. Luckily, my dh likes the smell of garlic and has never complained when I'm saturated with it, lol.

Other than that, the recipe was made as is. I used whole wheat rolls instead of buns, but I don't count that as a change. For some reason, I thought my rolls were smaller than a typical bun, so I made the patties rather small. So we had to use 2 patties on each roll.

Sean liked them, I think. Well, he ate two burgers. Hannah stuffed herself silly. Needless to say she loved them. Dylan would have liked them, but he is out of town, visiting grandparents. Hypatia, who is by far my pickiest eater, just pointed at the onions and gave me that look that says "You know I can't eat that!" She ate a bite or two. Wade nibbled at them, but thats pretty typical, too.

Romano Turkey Burgers
1 1/2 pounds ground turkey
3/4 cup Romano cheese, grated
1/2 cup onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste 6 whole-wheat hamburger buns

Turn on broiler. In a bowl, mix all ingredients (except hamburger buns) together well and shape into six patties.

Place patties on a broiler pan and broil for 10 minutes, turning once, Patties are done when they are no longer pink in the middle. Serve on warmed hamburger buns.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Laurie's Simple Summer Salad

I was just going to make a simple green salad, but then I remembered my cauliflower just sitting there in my fridge, so I thought I'd make it the base of my salad instead of lettuce. The dressing for this salad is just whatever dressing I had in my fridge, which happened to be one I bought from Big Lots, so I don't know how easy it is to find it normally. Anyway, its Olde Cape Cod brand Lite Blush Wine Vinaigrette. Its a decent dressing. Nothing too special, though. Of course, I could have used olive oil and basalmic vinegar, but, for some reason I didn't.

This salad seems to be lacking in nice bright green color. I guess I shouldn't have peeled my cucumbers. I think that would have helped. Also, fresh herbs would have added color and flavor. I didn't have any on hand, so I used dried, which is very ho hum. If I were going to make this for company, I would definately make these changes.

Over all, this is a nice, fresh salad that will compliment my Romano Turkey Burgers I'm planning for tonight.

Laurie's Easy Summer Salad

1/4 head cauliflower, chopped
1/2 large beefsteak style tomato, diced
1/2 medium sweet onion, sliced
1/4 cucumber, peeled and diced
4 or 5 baby cut carrots, sliced
1 clove fresh garlic, minced finely
1 tsp dried parsley (or 1 tbsp fresh)
1/4 tsp dried dill (or some fresh)
About 1/4 to 1/2 cup dressing
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and toss to combine. I made this a few hours early to allow the flavors to meld and to soften and marinate the cauliflower.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Walnut Sticky Buns, AKA HEAVEN!!!!

Update: Find the updated version of this recipe at Evolution of the Sticky Bun.

Ok, the results are in. These were a huge success! "Wow!" That's all Sean could say! Just "Wow!" After a while he said "I think I like these better!" He was worried about whether or not these would be as good or better than my usual cinnamon rolls. Well, now I may have to make them this way every time.

Normally I make traditional cinnamon rolls with cream cheese frosting. Sean loves them and usually gives me a sad face whenever I suggest a variation. But today, I'm trying sticky buns! Yes, I know, they are supposed to be made with pecans, but we are out of pecans (I couldn't keep the kids out of them and before I knew it they were gone!), so I am using walnuts. I think that the reason that pecans are always used is because they are a much sweeter nut, compared to walnuts. But I like walnuts in my baking and they never seem too bitter once they are baked, so I figured that this change would work for us.

Sean always asks (begs!) Me to make changes to the filling recipe. He figures that if a little butter is good, then a lot of butter is great, and so on... Basically, I have to double the filling. Then I quadruple the cinnamon. Yes, folks, you read that correctly. It's the way he likes it. So, if you want to make it exactly the way I make it, then the filling ingredients would be: 1 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup cinnamon, and 1/2 cup butter.

Also, the topping calls for light corn syrup and I didn't have any on hand, so I used dark corn syrup instead. I can't imagine that this would change the taste dramatically.

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Walnut Sticky Buns
1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast (the kind that you add to the flour without proofing)
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup milk
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, plus more for greasing
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon. salt
4 to 4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting (I used 4 cups in the dough)

1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter

3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) coarsely chopped pecans (I used walnuts)
2 tablespoons cream or half and half (optional)

Make the dough. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine 2 cups of the flour, yeast, sugar, and salt. Stir to combine.

In a microwaveable bowl (I use a two cup pyrex measure), melt 1/4 c. butter. Then add the milk and microwave for about 30 seconds. Add the eggs. Whisk until smooth.

Add the liquid mixture into the dry, and mix on low speed until blended. Switch to a dough hook and then, again on low speed, slowly incorporate the remaining 2 to 2 1/2 cups of flour. Increase speed to medium, kneading dough until smooth and slightly sticky (adding a little more flour if too wet), 3 to 5 minutes. I like to make sure the dough is quite sticky at this point. It makes for a tender dough.

Shape the dough into a ball and place in a large, oiled bowl. Turn dough over in bowl to coat with the oil from the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour (or 2 hours if not in an entirely warm place). It's the middle of summer, so I put the bowl outside.

It was at this point that I decided to take pictures of the process. Deal with it, ok? lol I don't mean to be annoying, honest! I'm just having fun!

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While the dough is rising, I make the filling and the topping.

For the filling, I just melt the butter in a microwaveable bowl and then add the cinnamon and sugar and stir until smooth.

Make the topping. In a 1-quart saucepan, combine brown sugar, butter, honey and corn syrup over low heat; stir until sugar and butter are melted. Pour mixture into a greased 9" x 13" pan and sprinkle pecans (or walnuts) on top.

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After the dough has risen, punch down. Turn out onto a lightly floured cutting board and let sit for 5 or 10 minutes (ok, I don’t usually let it sit, but I think that if you let it rest for a few minutes, the dough will soften up a bit and be a little easier to shape).

Roll dough out into a 12" x 18" rectangle (I never measure and my rectangle is never picture perfect).

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Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar mixture. Starting with the long side, roll dough into a cylinder. (My cylinder is always pretty lopsided, but it still works just fine). Place seam side down on a flat surface and cut crosswise into 12 slices. Dental floss is good for this, but I often just use a serrated knife. In the picture, I scored it first, mainly because I like making those little slices into the dough, heh heh.

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Place dough slices, flat side down, on top of prepared topping.

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Cover with plastic wrap. Let rise for about 30 to 45 minutes .

Preheat oven to 375̊. Bake buns until golden, 30 to 35 minutes. Remove pan from oven and immediately (and carefully as not to spill hot topping on your toes!) invert onto a serving tray or baking dish. The first picture is right after taking the pan out of the oven and just before inverting it onto my cutting board. The second one is obviously the inverted one.

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Let buns cool slightly and serve warm.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Amazing Tunnel Cake

This recipe comes from a library book which features homemade cake recipes, no mixes. Unfortunately, I returned the book without making note of the title or author, so I can't give credit. I just looked at the library's website, but they don't have pictures (and neither does Amazon), but I think it was this one: Good Old Fashioned Cakes, by Susan Kosoff. The cake turned out just like the book described! Look at the pictures and see what you think. This is the first recipe that I took a picture of and it was immensely satisfying. Then I took pictures of a few more treats that I made. Then I started taking pictures of my dinners. Now I can't stop, lol! I'm addicted!

Amazing Tunnel Cake
This butter cake has a fudgy center. My kids thought this looked really cool. They also thought it tasted great!

3/4 cup Chocolate Syrup (recipe follows)
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
4 eggs, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Chocolate Glaze (recipe follows)

1. Make Chocolate Syrup.
2. Position rack in lower third of oven; preheat to 350 degreesF. Grease a 10 by 4 inch tube or a 12 cup bundt pan; dust with flour.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk or stir together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
4. In a medium bowl, and using electric beaters, cream butter until light and smooth. Add sugar in several additions, beating until mixture is light and fluffy. Slowly pour in beaten eggs, beating until mixture is light, fluffy, and smooth. Beat in vanilla.
5. Using a large rubber spatula, alternately stir in dry ingredients and milk, beginning and ending with dry ingredients, and blending well after each addittion. Pour two thirds of the batter into prepared pan, spreading evenly.
6. Add baking soda to Chocolate syrup; stir thoroughly. Pour Chocolate Syrup into remaining batter, blending thoroughly. Pour chocolate batter over vanilla batter, spreading evenly. Do not stir batters together.
7. Bake 50 to 55 minutes, or until cake tester inserted in center comes out clean. Remove pan to wire rack. Cool 10 minutes before loosening cake from pan with a knife and removing. Finish cooling right side up on rack. If desired, pour warm Chocolate Glaze over the cake, letting it run down the sides, or dust with confectioners' sugar.

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup hot water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine sugar, cocoa powder, corn syrup, and the water in a small, heavy saucepan. Cook and stir over low heat until completely blended; simmer 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla. Cool to room temperature before using.

2 squares (2 ounces) semisweet chocolate
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
pinch salt
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Combine chocolate, butter, sugar, corn syrup, and salt in a small, heavy saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally until chocolate and butter melt and sugar dissolves.
2. Combine heavy cream and cornstarch in a measuring cup, stirring until well blended. Pour into chocolate mixture; cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture begins to boil. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla. Cool glaze in pan 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, before pouring over cooled cake.

Blueberry Buckle

This is a recipe that my inlaws make. Until I had theirs, I had only had blueberry buckle only once, when a college roomate made it. I loved it then. I love it still! I think that this recipe is pretty much a classic, because I looked at some online recipe sites and they have this exact recipe listed. That made it easy for me, because I just cut and pasted and I didn't have to type it all out. The only difference in the recipe that I use is that there is a creamy lemon sauce that is poured over the cake. Personally, I don't love the sauce, and I could live without it. But Sean wouldn't deal with it very well, so I make the sauce anyway. Then, Sean insists that I also top it with whipped cream. Always a good addition, although I think I would really like this just as well sans sauce and whipped cream.

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Blueberry Buckle
A delicious coffecake style recipe. You can use fresh or frozen blueberries.

For the cake:

3/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups fresh blueberries

For the streusel topping:

1/2 cup white sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup butter, softened

For the sauce:

3 egg yolks
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
2 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
pinch salt

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease one 8x8 inch pan.
2. Cream together 3/4 cup sugar, butter, and egg.
3. In a separate bowl mix together 2 cups flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir into sugar mixture, alternating with milk. Stir in blueberries. Pour into greased 8x8 inch pan.
4. To make topping: Combine 1/2 cup sugar, 1/3 cup flour, cinnamon, and butter. Sprinkle over cake batter.
5. Bake at 375 degree F (190 degrees C) for 25-30 minutes. When cooled, serve with sauce.
6. For the sauce: Beat egg yolks, add sugar mixed with cornstarch. Scald milk in top of double boiler, gradually stir in egg mixture. Cook until it coats a silver spoon, 5-6 minutes. Cool and flavor with lemon extract.

If you are married to my husband, you also have to top it with sweetened whipped cream.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Little Things in Life That Are So Wonderful


hours of unlimited time at a bookstore or library (haven't had that since having children)

sitting outside in the shade with a breeze and its a perfect temperature

softball games (batting, catching, watching). I'm not that good, but I love swinging at the ball and hearing a perfect thunk sound when the ball hits the bat.

fabric, fabric stores, looking in the pattern book, daydreaming about what I might sew.

The final scene of the movie "Green Card".

A clean house (usually I'm visiting someone else)

Singing harmony. I'm good at it and it feels wonderful to blend beautifully with other voices.

A nonfiction book that is about something very interesting that I know very little about. I read the most interesting sections first, and then fill in the gaps by finding parts that I missed. I love it when I think I've read the whole book and then I stumble across a whole section of information that I had missed completely!

Pop songs that I remember loving when I was a kid in the 70's, such as: Captain and Tennille's song, "Love Will Keep Us Together", and "Silly Love Songs" by Paul McCartney, and "Here You Come Again", by Dolly Parton.

The sound of babies and toddlers laughing

Sliced avocado, cucumber, and sweet onion on a tortilla

My 2 1/2 year old who is obsessed with blowing strawberries (raspberries or whatever you call it). He can't stop himself. He does it to everyone he knows. He pulls your shirt down and blows on your chest. He pulls your shirt up and blows on your belly. He blows on your legs if you have shorts on. He blows on your cheeks and neck whenever you hold him. And he even does it in the middle of the night when he's half awake and finds an arm near his mouth. PBBBBTHHH!

Saturday, July 01, 2006

"That is one damn big hole!"

So said my husband, Sean, as he peered into the Grand Canyon. Meanwhile, I stood far back, in a panic, crying, telling my family to get away from the edge. It was terrifying. It is one damn big hole.