Saturday, December 29, 2012

Roasted Roots

My stepmother made roasted vegetables similar to these for Thanksgiving a couple of years ago. It was the first time I had ever been introduced to a parsnip. It occurred to me that perhaps you had never met either, so I thought I would share this super simple, yet tasty, dish.

First, meet parsnip...
Yes, it looks like an albino carrot, so I treated it the same and peeled it before I got cubing.

I added sweet potatoes, white potatoes and some onion. I would have put some carrots in as well, but I forgot to buy them this time around. I cut my pieces fairly small, as you can see, because I was baking a ham at a low temperature and wanted to make sure these would be done. (I was going to cook them ahead of time, but got distracted by cookies or something.) Toss the diced veggies with some olive oil and a little bit of sea salt and ground pepper.
I baked these at 350 for about an hour, stirring a few times. They were very well done. These did not get crusty like my potatoes usually do when I roast them at a higher temperature, but they were yummy. The boys did not notice the parsnips, but my daughter picked hers out (because she is the only one who knew they were in there). She also missed out on some potatoes thinking she was eradicating parsnips.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Hard candy

I finally remembered to take some pictures of something I was cooking! (Or maybe this is just the first time in awhile that I made anything.) I love the way our house smells after a batch of this candy gets poured. I used to just make cinnamon, but then I got the idea of making red, clear and green for the holidays. It looks really pretty packaged in a jar (aha, that is what I forgot to get a picture of before I delivered them), but we went with clear plastic bags for safer travels to the kids' teachers and my fellow volunteers.
To give you an idea of how much this makes, I tied up over 40 little bags like this and still have some left.
These are the little bottles of oil you are looking for. They come in a wide variety of flavors, and can be found in the candy making/cake decorating section of craft stores like Michaels and AC Moore. I have seen one dram and two dram sized bottles. one dram (teaspoon) is how much you need for one batch.

Here is what else you need:
1 cup water
3 3/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 cup light corn syrup
1 tsp food coloring (if desired)
1 tsp cinnamon (or other flavor) oil
confectioner's sugar for dusting

Here is what you do:
Line a 15x10 pan with lightly buttered foil.

Bring water, sugar, corn syrup and food coloring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. 

Once it boils, cover and cook for three minutes to dissolve sugar.

Uncover and cook, without stirring, until candy thermometer reaches 300 degrees (fahrenheit).
This batch is peppermint and has no food coloring.
Remove from heat and carefully stir in the oil. Avoid the steam and try not to inhale the vapors or get them in your eyes. pour the hot mixture into the prepared pan. Hot, hot, hot!
Now we have cinnamon

Cool for at least one hour. Sprinkle with confectioner's sugar. Then break apart.

Toss the sugar around to keep the candy from sticking together.

Store in containers until ready to use.
Each batch makes about two pounds.

The pan will be a bit of a sticky mess, but with really cool sugar threads. Don't worry though, as it comes clean with hot water and a little soaking.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Beignet - It's French!

Do you know what a Beignet is?  First off, let's work on pronunciation - Beignet is pronounced Ben-Yey.  Second off, it's a French donut.  In New Orleans they are served at coffee shops with extremely strong coffee.  Here in Missouri though, we eat them just plain ;).

Beignets via Justin Wilson Homegrown Louisiana Cookin'

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 medium-sized egg
3 tbsp sugar
1 cup milk
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 quart oil for deep frying
Confectioners' sugar

Half fill a large, deep saucepan with oil and preheat it to 375 degrees F.  Sift together the flour, salt, baking powder, and cinnamon into a large mixing bowl.  In a separate bowl, beat the egg well, then beat in the sugar, milk, and vanilla.  Pour the egg mixture into the flour and mix slightly until moistened.  Turn onto a floured surface and knead lightly.  Roll the dough out to a 1/4 inch thickness.  Slice into diamond shapes and about 3 inches long.  Fry in oil, turning once, until they are golden brown and puffed up.  Remove, drain on paper towels, and sprinkle with confectioners' sugar.  Serve immediately with the cafe au lait.


Monday, December 17, 2012

Scalloped Chicken

•2 cans (10-3/4 ounces each) condensed cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
•2-1/2 cups milk
•1/2 pound process cheese (Velveeta), cubed
•4 cups chopped cooked chicken or turkey
•1 package (7 ounces) elbow macaroni
•3 hard-cooked eggs, chopped
•1/2 cup butter, melted, divided
•1-1/2 cups soft bread crumbs

picture borrowed from taste of home

•In a large bowl, combine the soup, milk, and cheese. Add chicken, macaroni and eggs. Stir in 1/4 cup melted butter.

•Transfer to a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish. Cover and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.

•Toss bread crumbs with remaining butter; sprinkle over casserole. Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 60-65 minutes or until bubbly and golden brown. Yield: 12 servings.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Weeknight Mac & Cheese Lasagna

Interested yet? This is something we make at our house quite often.  It has Mac & Cheese & hamburger & cheese and pasta sauce, I mean how can you go wrong?

Mac & cheese & all the stuff needed to make it. (from scratch or out of a box, your choice)
Spaghetti Sauce (out of a jar or homemade, again, your choice)

Start the water to boiling for your macaroni noodles. Once boiling, add the noodles.

In the meantime brown up your hamburger in another pan.  You can add your favorite seasonings or add-ons (such as onion, black olives, mushrooms, whatever suits your fancy!).  Then dump your spaghetti sauce in with the hamburger and let them simmer while your waiting on your Mac & Cheese to finish up.

I cheated, I used boxed mac & cheese, when you're in a hurry, it was the fast way to handle it.  So stir in the powdered cheese mix and the butter.

Now dump the mac & cheese into the meat/sauce and mix.

Generally we add some cheese right into the mixture to make it cheesier.

Next top it with more cheese.  You can use whatever you'd like, we've used fiesta blend, we've used mozzarella, just whatever you prefer.  mmmm cheese. We wound up using 2 cups of shredded cheese. Use as much or as little as you desire.

Then place this in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes.  And you're good to go!
Mmmmm eat & enjoy!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Cinnamon Rolls

Here is my favorite cinnamon roll recipe.... very simple to make!

Gather these:
4 1/4 to 4 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 pkg. active dry yeast
1 1/4 c. milk
1/4 c. granulated sugar
1/4 c. butter
1 tsp. salt
2 eggs
6 tbsp. butter, softened
1/2 c. packed brown sugar
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
Powdered Sugar Glaze

In a large mixer bowl combine 1 1/2 cups of the all-purpose flour and yeast. Heat the milk, granulated sugar, the 1/4 cup butter and salt just until mixture is warm (120 to 130 degrees) and the butter is almost melted, stirring constantly.

Add milk mixture to flour mixture; add eggs. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed for 30 seconds; scrape sides of bowl constantly. Beat on high speed for 3 minutes. Using a spoon, stir in as much of the remaining flour as you can. (Dough will be soft.) Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead in enough of the remaining flour to make a moderately soft dough (3 to 5 minutes total). Shape dough into a ball.

Place dough in a lightly greased bowl; turn once. Cover; let rise in a warm place until double (about 1 to 1 1/2 hours). (The dough is ready for shaping when you can lightly and quickly press two fingers 1/2 inch into dough and indentation remains.)

 Punch dough down. On a lightly floured surface, divide dough in half; shape each half into a smooth ball. Cover; let rest for 10 minutes.

On lightly floured surface roll half the dough to 12x8 inches. Spread with 3 tablespoons softened butter. Combine brown sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle half over rectangle. Roll up from a short side. Seal edges. Make a second roll with remaining dough, butter and sugar mixture. I actually changed this and covered it with lots of melted butter and brown sugar.... I then sprinkled regular sugar and cinnamon over the dough.

 Slice each dough roll into 8 pieces. Arrange slices, cut side down, in a greased 13x9x2 inch baking pan. Cover; let rise until nearly double (about 30 minutes).

 Bake rolls in a 350 degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until light brown. Invert at once onto a wire rack. Cool slightly. Drizzle rolls with Powdered Sugar Glaze. Serve warm.

Makes 16 rolls.

Powdered Sugar Glaze:
Combine 1 cup sifted powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and enough milk (about 3 to 4 teaspoons) for drizzling consistency.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Tomato, Basil, Cheddar Soup

Oh Yum.  That's what we had Saturday night. 

So we started going through the list of ingredients to see what we had...
everything but Greek Yogurt.

No problem... we decided to substitute in Cream Cheese... So here's the recipe I used.  And holy cow was this awesome!

Tomato, Basil, and Cheddar Soup
Makes 6 servings
  • 2 28-oz. cans of diced tomatoes
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 cups of vegetable broth
  • 4 oz Cream Cheese
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1/2 cup basil, chopped, loosely packed
  • 2 tsp of oregano
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste
Directions:  Over medium heat, add the olive oil to a large pot. Add the chopped onion and allow to cook until tender, about three to four minutes. Add in chopped garlic and cook for an additional two minutes. Pour in the two cans of tomatoes (juice and all) and the vegetable stock. Stir in the basil, oregano, sugar, and salt and pepper. Place the lid back onto the pot and allow to simmer ten minutes. At the end, stir in the Greek yogurt and cheddar cheese until well blended. Use either an immersion blender or food processor to puree the soup if you prefer a smooth texture. Garnish with chopped basil and grated cheddar cheese if desired.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Oreo Balls

Christmas time usually mean many YUMMY goodies.  Here is a recipe I make every Christmas.
Oreo Balls
Best Balls ever I tell ya! A must try!

1 (16 ounce) package OREO Chocolate Sandwich Cookies, divided

1 (8 ounce) package PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened

2 (8 ounce) packages BAKER'S Semi-Sweet Baking Chocolate, melted

1.Crush 9 of the cookies to fine crumbs in food processor; reserve for later use.

(Cookies can also be finely crushed in a resealable plastic bag using a rolling pin.)

Crush remaining 36 cookies to fine crumbs; place in medium bowl. Add cream cheese; mix until well blended. Roll cookie mixture into 42 balls, about 1-inch in diameter.

2.Dip balls in chocolate; place on wax paper-covered baking sheet. (Any leftover chocolate can be stored at room temperature for another use.) Sprinkle with reserved cookie crumbs OR use sprinkles

3.Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour. Store leftover balls, covered, in refrigerator.