Tag Archives: cooking

Eggs Benedict Casserole

28 Dec

Last weekend, Hubby and I took the boys out for a morning surprise.  This year, we have been all about surprising the kids with out-of-the-blue outings.  They love the unexpected discovery of a Minivan Express ticket (idea via Pinterest, my current addiction), signaling that they have 10 minutes to don their coats, shoes, and dash into our minivan for an unheralded adventure.

Hey, if I have to drive a minivan, I’m gonna make it fun.

Eggs Benedict Casserole

Our most recent adventure included a stopover with Santa and his elves.  Then, we headed out to brunch.  One of my sweet boys, knowing me so well, scanned the menu for Eggs Benedict – my all-time favorite breakfast dish.

Eggs Benedict Casserole 2

Eggs Benedict is awesome for breakfast/brunch at a restaurant, but not exactly the quickest thing to whip up at home.  Not for me, at least, because I am not a morning person.  SO not.  Which is why I jumped with excitement when I found this Eggs Benedict Casserole that can be assembled the night before and baked when you need it!

Eggs Benedict Casserole 3

This Eggs Benedict casserole is full of savory goodness.  Tasty and delish!   It won’t be exactly like classic Eggs Benedict, of course, because the eggs here are fully cooked.  This is more like an egg bake that includes the players of Eggs Benedict:  Canadian bacon, English muffins, eggs, and homemade Hollandaise sauce.  I haven’t tried packet sauces, but I’m sure that would work in a pinch also.

Enjoy your mornings!

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RECIPE (one 9×13 dish)

INGREDIENTS

1 lb Canadian bacon (ham works, too) – chopped
6 English muffins, split and cut into 1-inch pieces
8 large eggs
2 cups milk
1 TB onion powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1/4 tsp paprika
fresh chopped parsley for garnish

For the Sauce:
4 large egg yolks
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1-2 TB lemon juice
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 cup melted butter
salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

Grease a 9×13 baking dish.  Place half of the Canadian bacon in bottom of dish.  Top with English muffins.  Follow with remaining Canadian bacon.  In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, onion powder, kosher salt, garlic powder, and black pepper.  Pour evenly over top of casserole.  Cover tightly and refrigerate overnight.

Remove casserole from fridge at least 30 minutes prior to baking and preheat oven to 375F.   Sprinkle casserole evenly with paprika.  Cover with foil and bake for 35 minutes on lower middle rack.  Uncover and bake 10-15 minutes longer or until the center is done.  Sprinkle with fresh parsley, if desired.

Meanwhile, make the sauce:  In a double broiler or metal bowl over simmering water (don’t let bowl touch water), constantly whisk together egg yolks, heavy cream, lemon juice, mustard, and a pinch of salt and pepper.  Continue whisking until sauce is thick enough to coat back of spoon.  Reduce heat to low.  Drizzle in melted butter, whisking constantly.  Add more salt/pepper if needed. Serve sauce immediately with casserole.  (If sauce stands too long and gets too thick, add a bit of hot water to thin out, 1 tsp as needed.)

Source:  Chew Out Loud, adapted from Taste of Home

Cheesy Ham and Hash Brown Potato Casserole

27 Dec

Know anyone who is looking for ways to use up that holiday ham?   Our family is pretty good about eating leftovers, but after a couple of days, we’re ready to transform it into something that feels new.

This Cheesy Ham and Hash Brown Casserole is one of our favorite ways to renew a leftover ham.  It’s a hands-down phenomenal brunch dish.  In fact, it’s popular enough to bring out for dinner.  Good grub is a winner at any time of day 🙂

Cheesy Ham 'n Hash Brown Bake

This Cheesy Ham and Hash Brown Casserole is easy to throw together the night before and bake up the next morning.  If you need something easy and super tasty for brunch on New Year or an upcoming weekend, here it is.  It’s the perfect fuss-free, wake-up-late breakfast cure.   Totally my style.  Did I mention this is a fabulous way to use up leftover ham?

Cheesy Ham 'n Hash Brown Bake 5

This yummy dish is chock full of cheese, ham, frozen hash brown, and whatever add-ins your palate desires.  We like a bit of red bell pepper for texture and color, and of course sprinkled with crumbled bacon on top – because a bit of bacon makes everything better.  Even the kiddos inhale this cheesy casserole.

Cheesy Ham 'n Hash Brown Bake 3

This Cheesy Ham and Hash Brown Casserole is also one of our favorite things to bring to brunch potlucks.  You’ll want to keep this recipe in a safe place for your next potluck contribution.  It’s a popular crowd-pleaser, and you’ll love going home with an empty casserole dish.  Though a little left over could be good, too 🙂

Cheesy Ham 'n Hash Brown 4

Here’s to a carefree, delicious weekend morning.  Enjoy the rest of the holidays!

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RECIPE (one 9×13 casserole)

INGREDIENTS

32-oz package frozen plain hash brown potatoes
2 cups cooked, diced ham
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 cans condensed cream of potato soup
16 oz sour cream (lowfat is ok)
2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups freshly shredded Parmesan cheese
5-6 slices cooked bacon, crumbled (real bacon bits work, too)

DIRECTIONS

In very large bowl, combine:  frozen hash browns, ham, bell pepper, cream of potato soup, sour cream, Cheddar cheese, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, and black pepper.  Gently mix until thoroughly incorporated.  Spread evenly into a greased 9×13 baking dish.  Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and crumbled bacon.   If not baking yet, wrap tightly and place in fridge until ready to bake.

Preheat oven to 375F.  Bake 45 min to 1 hour on middle rack, until bubbly and golden on top.  Serve immediately, while hot.  Enjoy!

Source:  Chew Out Loud, adapted from allrecipes

Turkey or Chicken Tetrazzini

22 Dec

Whenever we’re planning on having turkey or chicken leftovers, especially after the holidays, we can count on Turkey/Chicken Tetrazzini to take poultry to a whole new level.   Now this is a way to spin a bit of magic onto leftovers.

Turkey or Chicken Tetrazzini

Tetrazzini is like comfort food on steroids.  Combine poultry and veggies with mounds of satisfying pasta.  It’s an all-in-one meal that satisfies both young and old at the dinner table.  A hunger-inducing aroma will beckon you while it cooks.  Then, one bite leads to another until there’s nothing left of your leftovers.

Turkey or Chicken Tetrazzini 3

This scrumptious pasta dish is a transformation of the ordinary into something extraordinary.  With players like bacon, mushrooms, and cheese, Tetrazzini is an popular crowd-pleaser.  We love our Turkey/Chicken Tetrazzini with linguini noodles, but use whatever pasta you’re craving.  The recipe includes a fair variety of spices, but it’s mostly stuff you probably already have.

Turkey or Chicken Tetrazzini 4

In lieu of normal breadcrumbs, this Tetrazzini is adorned with crispy Panko breadcrumbs.  Gotta love Panko!  It’s been around a long time, but Panko has more recently started gaining well-deserved popularity.  Panko is the new breadcrumb.  You know, as in 40 is the new 30 (I wish.)

If you’ve never used it, try Panko just once – you might become its next big fan.  It’s extra crisp and light, and makes everything that much better.  I use Panko with anything from casseroles to finger foods.

Enjoy the holiday meals with your beloved peeps, and create something wonderful out of what remains.

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RECIPE (about 8)

INGREDIENTS

2 slices bacon
4 TB olive oil
2 small or 1 large chopped onion
1 red bell peppers, chopped
6 cloves minced garlic
8 oz mushrooms, sliced
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 cup dry white wine
2 cups low sodium chicken stock
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup whole milk
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
12 oz linguini noodles, broken in half
2 cups frozen broccoli florets
2-3 cups shredded cooked turkey or chicken
2 TB freshly copped parsley leaves
2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan, divided
6 oz Panko breadcrumbs

DIRECTIONS

Cook bacon until crisp and browned in large, heavy pot.  Remove with slotted spoon, crumble into pieces, and set aside.

Saute 3 TB olive oil, onions, garlic, and bell pepper in same pot on high for about 4 minutes.  Add mushrooms, paprika, thyme, oregano, and garlic powder.  Cook until mushrooms are soft, about 5 minutes.  Sprinkle with the flour and cook for another 2 minutes.  Add wine and chicken stock, stirring until smooth and thick, about 2 minutes.  Add heavy cream, milk, salt, and pepper, and bring to a boil.  Reduce to simmer, until sauce is thick enough to coat back of spoon and very flavorful, 15-20 minutes.

Meanwhile, boil a large pot of well-salted water.  Cook linguini until just al dente, about 8 minutes.  Drain and sprinkle with some olive oil.  Set aside (do not rinse pasta.)

Oil a 9×13 casserole dish with 1 TB olive oil.  In a bowl, mix Panko with 1/3 shredded Parmesan and set aside.

When sauce has thickened, add drained linguini, crumbled bacon, frozen broccoli florets, shredded poultry, and 1/3 shredded Parmesan cheese to the sauce pot.  Stir until well combined.  Season with additional salt and pepper, if needed.

Transfer to prepared casserole dish.  Top with Panko/Parmesan mixture.  Bake uncovered until bubbly and golden, about 30 minutes.  Sprinkle with fresh parsley and serve immediately.

Source:  Chew Out Loud, inspired by Emeril Lagasse.

Texas French Toast Bake

19 Dec

Technically, I suppose “French” toast isn’t Texan.  But this scrumptious French Toast Bake is big and hearty, and the saying goes that everything is bigger in Texas.

Texas French Toast Bake, 2

What makes this French Toast Bake superb is the use of Texas Toast, in place of regular sliced bread.  If you aren’t familiar with Texas Toast, it is typically found in the sliced bread aisle of grocery stores, and the thing about it is… well, it’s Texas-sized.  It looks like white bread, sliced extra thick and made extra dense.

Texas French Toast Bake

I usually buy whole-grain bread, so it’s something special for me to reach for the enriched stuff.  Though whole-grain sandwich bread has come a long way in texture and flavor, the white slices brought me back to my childhood.  Back when wheat bread tasted like cardboard and my mom kindly bought us white loaves.   It’s a special occasion to bite into these Texas soft slices.  It’s hard not to cheat and eat the bread straight out of the bag.  Just remember that you’ll need to use almost the entire loaf for the French Toast Bake, so try.  Just try.

Texas French Toast Bake 3

This is one of the most ideal, no-fuss offerings for brunch on Christmas, New Years, or any weekend morning.  It’s simple to assemble the night before.  Wake up late the next morning, pop it in the oven, and give your family a carefree smile.  My family loves anything French Toast-ish, and they flipped for this one.  Devoured the whole pan the same day.  I’m talking no leftovers, not even a few crumbs.

Texas French Toast Bake 4

This Texas French Toast Bake is something that will easily go on your family’s list of favorites.  The thick, dense slices of Texas Toast soak up the custard perfectly.  The brown sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon meld together like magic.  It’s just the right amount of sweetness.  You can serve with pure maple syrup, but you might not need it.

Oh, this is important – be sure to scrape out all the gooey yummy goodness you’ll find on the bottom of pan.  Enjoy!

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RECIPE (one 9×13 pan)

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup melted butter (1 stick)
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 loaf Texas Toast
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cup whole milk
1 TB vanilla extract
2 TB light brown sugar, mixed with 2 tsp cinnamon
Powdered sugar for sprinkling
Real maple syrup for serving, if desired

DIRECTIONS

Put butter in a microwave safe bowl and microwave in 20 second increments, stirring in between, until melted.  Add 1 cup brown sugar and stir until well incorporated  Pour into bottom of a greased 9×13 pan, spreading mixture evenly.

Beat eggs, milk, and vanilla until incorporated.  Set aside.

Lay a single layer of Texas Toast in pan, cutting pieces to fit if needed.  Spoon 1 cup of egg mixture over bread.  Sprinkle with half of the brown sugar/cinnamon mixture.  Repeat with second layer, ending with a sprinkling of brown sugar/cinnamon mixture.

Cover tightly and chill overnight in fridge.

Bake at 350F for 40-45 minutes, covered for the first 30 minutes, and uncovered after that.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar.  If desired, serve with pure maple syrup.

Source:  Chew Out Loud, adapted from Rach’s Blog

Best Apple Pie with Flaky Butter Crust

16 Dec

I have a little confession.  Despite my affection for all things sweet, I don’t like cooked apples.  Wait a minute.  I do love fresh, crispy apples.  Just don’t love them cooked, is all.  That puts me in the little category of people who regularly pass up the apple pies on the dessert buffet.  But here is a glimmer of hope.  I gave this Best Apple Pie a chance, and new door has opened up.  There’s no turning back.

Perfect Apple Pie with Flaky Butter Crust

Hubby would never have imagined I’d eat, let alone bake, an apple pie.  I’m good with every kind of fruit pie, but he’s never seen me dart for the apple one.  For reasons still mysterious, I began searching high and low for apple pie recipes.  After digging through countless variations, I settled on this tried and true version.  And now I’m done digging.  This here is the only apple pie I’ve ever really liked!

Perfect Apple Pie with Flaky Butter Crust 3

What makes this apple pie extra memorable is the fabulous flaky butter crust.  We always prefer using butter rather than shortening  whenever possible.  This is our go-to recipe for a flaky butter crust; perfect for any sweet or savory pies.  Technically, one could use store bought pie dough.  But it wouldn’t be right if I didn’t say this out loud:  store-bought pie dough won’t produce the buttery deliciousness of a homemade crust.

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The pie dough needs a bit of time to chill.  If you plan ahead for that, you’re good.  Try to stick with Granny Smith apples for best texture and balance of tart vs. sweet.

You’ll love that this apple pie can be totally prepared ahead of time.  In fact, it’s best that way.  Bake it and let it set overnight or at least several hours, so the filling has time to cool and thicken.  The pie reheats beautifully, especially if you’re going for a la mode.  Vanilla bean ice cream and warm pie…mmm.

Perfect Apple Pie with Flaky Butter Crust 6

Add this to your dessert list for the holidays… or really any day.  Apple pie lovers in your life will go nuts over this one.  That non-apple-pie eater just might experience a conversion to the other side.   Enjoy!

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RECIPE (about 8 servings)

INGREDIENTS

For the filling:
1/2 cup butter
3 TB all purpose flour
3 TB  water, with 2 tsp cornstarch dissolved in it
1 TB vanilla extract
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
dash nutmeg
8 Granny Smith apples – peeled and sliced (not too thin)

For the dough (double crust):
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp table salt
1 cup butter, chilled and diced
1/2 cup very cold ice water
1 egg white, beaten
coarse sugar for garnish

DIRECTIONS

Prepare the dough (make ahead): 
In a large bowl, combine flour and salt.  Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs, just until there remains small pea-sized butter chunks in the dough.  Gently stir in 1 TB of ice cold water at a time, until mixture starts to hold together.  It should be pliable enough to stick together when pinched, but not sticky.  Work the dough sparingly, using either pastry cutter or cold fingers.  The key is not to overwork the dough (avoid using food processor.)  The little chunks of butter should still be visible.

Gently form 2 dough balls (1 slightly larger than the other) and wrap well in plastic.  Refrigerate at least 1 hour (up to overnight.)

To make the pie:
Preheat oven to 425F and place rack on lower middle position.

Melt butter in a saucepan.  Stir in flour to form a roux.  Add water with dissolved cornstarch, white sugar, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Bring to a boil, and immediately reduce to barely simmer.  Keep sauce warm while you roll out the crust.

Roll the larger dough ball out to fit bottom/sides of  9-inch pie pan, with bit extra for edges.  If dough is firm, you may need to roll it out twice.  Place crust in bottom of pie pan.  Press evenly into the bottom and up sides of the pan.  Press down the edges.  Roll the smaller dough ball to fit over top of 9-inch pie pan.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine apple slices with the warm sugar sauce, reserving about 1/4 cup (or enough for brushing over top crust.)  Brush bottom crust with beaten egg white.  Fill with apple mixture, mounding.  Place top crust over filling, crimping tightly at edges to ensure good seal.  Cut several slits in top crust.  Brush remaining warm sugar sauce over entire top crust.  Sprinkle with coarse sugar and light dusting of cinnamon, if desired.

Place pie on a baking sheet and bake 15 minutes.  Reduce temp to 350F and bake another 35-45 minutes, until top crust is golden brown and apples are soft.  Use thin strips of foil to cover pie edges, if they start browning too quickly.

Cool before serving.  Enjoy…it is totally worth your work!

Source:  Chew Out Loud, adapted from Grandma Ople’s Apple Pie

Brie en Croute

7 Dec

Ready or not, here it comes!  December has arrived and holiday season is absolutely in full swing.  The ongoing festivities beckon a cheerfulness that warms the chilly air, even for self-proclaimed cold wimps as myself.  Each weekend, we’re observing cars galore parked in driveways of homes, signaling a jolly party within.  Our own family created some merry memories hosting a couple of recent dinner parties.  If all goes as planned, we’re hoping to host and attend a few more precious celebrations this season.

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In honor of this magical season, I’m showing off the delectable little Brie en Croute that’s popular on my dinner party menu.  Cute, isn’t it?  Some of the best things come in little packages.  This adorable appetizer is gigantic on flavor, and will take the edge off those ravenous tummies while your family/friends wait for dinner to be served.  Beware of this phenomenal appetizer’s capacity to steal the show.  Definitely be forewarned that the recipe will be highly requested.  Either that, or you’ll be asked to make it every year thereafter.  It could easily become your annual contribution.

Brie En Croute 4

Brie en Croute.  It’s pronounced on-kroot, with gutteral and nasal-ish french accent.  Don’t forget to roll the “r.”  Keep repeating just for fun, oui?  In French, “en croute” refers to anything delish baked in a pastry crust.  That is indeed the sweet secret of this appetizer.  On the outside, it appears to be some kind of rotund pastry thingy flanked by crackers.  Oh, but once it is sliced into… that is the big reveal.

Brie En Croute 6

The first slice into the buttery, flaky pastry exterior reveals the warm silky Brie lying just beneath the surface.  Resting on top of the soft Brie cheese is a gorgeous layer of toasted pecans and sweet raspberry preserves.  We love how flexible this Brie en Croute is; select your favorite nut and fruit mixture, if pecans and raspberries aren’t your cup of tea.   Almost any combination will result in a fabulous treat.

Brie en Croute 7

My favorite part about Brie en Croute?  It is unbelievably easy to pull off.  It’s quickly assembled ahead of time, to be baked up right before you need it.  Just try to let it cool off a bit after baking before digging in, if you can wait.  It’s awesome to have on the holiday menu, whether you’re the host or the guest.  Or present it as a hostess gift and the recipient can bake it up when she needs a mouth-watering treat.  Enjoy, and Happy Holidays!

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RECIPE (10 servings)

INGREDIENTS

1 sheet frozen puff pastry
1 whole wheel Brie, 8 oz
1/4 cup raspberry preserves (or other fruit)
1/4 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
1 beaten egg
turbinado (or coarse) sugar for garnish
assorted crackers for serving alongside

DIRECTIONS

Defrost puff pastry about 15 minutes and unfold.  Preheat oven to 375F and set rack in middle.

Slice off a thin layer of top rind only (we leave the rest of rind on, but feel free to remove it if desired.)  Lay puff pastry sheet out on flat surface and roll out just a little bit if needed to cover entire Brie.  Place Brie in center of the pastry.  Top brie with nuts and preserves.  Gently pull up edges of pastry, wrapping the Brie completely, and gather pastry edges at the top.  Secure the gathered dough at top with kitchen twine.  Double check that none of the Brie is exposed, carefully sealing the dough on all sides.  Brush the beaten egg all over top and sides of pastry.  Sprinkle with turbinado sugar.

Place Brie on parchment paper on cookie sheet.  Bake 20 minutes or until pastry is a nice golden brown.  Allow to cool at least 15 minutes before serving.

Serve with assorted crackers.

By chewoutloud

Note:  Baked brie should cool a bit before serving, to allow it to regain a bit of shape.  Otherwise, it will be too melted and spill out.  Also, you can use extra puff pastry to make cut-outs for exterior design, if you’re going for an ultra special presentation.

*I’m excited that this recipe will be entered in this month’s Shine Supper Club contest, so check that out!

Easy Cheesy Garlic Bread

3 Dec

Bread just might be one of the very best edible creations ever.  Around here, we find nearly impossible to refuse soft, chewy, yummy bread.  When I’ve got a bit of time to spare, I work out my issues by making all kinds of bread from scratch.  Kneading and punching down dough is like therapy, but cheaper.  Our all-time favorites include rosemary garlic bread and those “famous” breadsticks.

Ok, but what if one is short on time?  Something’s gotta give when I’m in a time crunch and my beloved peeps are hungry for a hearty bread to go with their pasta.

Easy Cheesy Garlic Bread

Enter this super easy, cheesy, garlicky bread.  Cheese + garlic + crusty bread = Scrumptious.   How can that trio not be perfect together?  This cheesy garlic bread is chock full of savory garlic, butter, and cheese.  It’s tender and soft on the inside, and crisp on the outside.  This garlic cheese bread comes together in a pinch, so you can easily pop it in the oven at the last minute for tempting oven-fresh bread.

Easy Cheesey Garlic Bread 2

Try to use a large, thick, and crusty bread loaf, which will provide that hearty texture.  And, though eight cloves of crushed garlic may sound like a typo, rest assured that it’s correct.  Once it’s all thrown together, the garlic flavor actually tends to get lost, so the herb formula here is:  the more, the merrier.

Easy Cheesy Garlic Bread 3

Y-U-M.  Serve up your cheesy garlic bread with any pasta, soup, or salad dish.  It’s fabulous to use for soaking up broth, if you’re making a dish with savory broth to spare.  This bread is definitely best served warm, right out of the oven, so enjoy it immediately.

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RECIPE (1 large loaf)

INGREDIENTS
1 large, thick loaf of crusty bread (i.e., a rustic Italian or French loaf)
8 cloves of crushed garlic
1/2 tsp garlic powder
4 TB regular butter
4 TB good olive oil
1 cup shredded Italian blend cheese
fresh parsley, finely chopped

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 400F.

Combine the crushed garlic, garlic powder, butter, and oil in a saucepan and heat over low for several minutes, until incorporated.  Set aside.

Split loaf in half, lengthwise, and place on foil-lined baking sheet.  Brush bread generously with garlic butter mixture.   Bake bread 5-10 minutes, or until lightly golden.  Remove bread and sprinkle evenly with cheese and parsley.  Adjust oven to broil, and broil bread about 1 minute, or just until desired level of golden brown is achieved and cheese is melted.  Watch carefully and remove bread as soon as it looks done.

Cut into thick slices, wrap in clean cloth, and serve immediately.

By Chewoutloud

Honey Yogurt Fruit Dip

30 Nov

Despite the fact that fall leaves are long gone and bare branches lay in their stead, it’s technically still fall.  That’s hard to remember in these zones.  It’s been a rough year for apples, and apple pickings were sadly slim,  but our favorite Honeycrisp  variety remains plentiful at the stores.  Our fridge is happily stocked with those crisp apples with honey-like sweetness.

Honey Yogurt Fruit Dip

After the Thanksgiving holiday, where some of us (me) indulged in more rich desserts than we (I) care to reveal, it’s time to gift you with a healthier treat.

Honey Yogurt Fruit Dip

This fabulous honey yogurt fruit dip is bursting with fall flavors.  It’s a no-guilt cure for the sweet toothed – real honey, vanilla greek yogurt, and cinnamon makes up this lively fruit dip.

We love adding generous sprinkles of crunchy granola to give it that extra crisp texture.  Dip your favorite varieties of apples or other fruits into this dreamy dip, and you’re set.  My little ones lapped it up, begging for more apples so they could scrape up every last bit of their dip.  They enjoy plain old apple slices, but the honey yogurt dip brings any slice of fruit to a dessert-worthy level.

Greek Yogurt Spice Dip 4

Greek yogurt tends to be higher in protein, and is thicker than many other yogurts.  If you use a thinner variety of yogurt, it won’t set up as thickly, but it will probably still taste fab.  I use honey or vanilla yogurt so the honey and cinnamon can take center stage, but feel free to experiment with flavors.    This will make about 1 1/2 cups worth of yogurt goodness.  It keeps very nicely in an airtight container in your fridge.

Grab some fruit, granola, and get your yogurt on!  Enjoy 🙂

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RECIPE (1 1/2 cups)

INGREDIENTS
1 cup honey or vanilla Greek yogurt
3 tsp honey (more or less, depending on sweetness of yogurt brand)
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp powder sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
*1/2 cup whipped cream
apple slices or other fruit slices
granola

DIRECTIONS
Gently mix together all ingredients except whipped cream.  Fold in whipped cream and chill.  Serve with slices of fruit and granola.

* To make awesome whipped cream:
Place beaters and medium bowl in freezer or fridge to chill.  Measure out 1 cup heavy whipping cream, 1 tsp vanilla extract, and 1/4 cup powder sugar.  Put cold ingredients into cold bowl and beat on medium/high until still peaks form.
(If you want a firmer, stabilized whipped cream, see recipe.)

By:  Chewoutloud

Country Captain Chicken Stew – Throwdown Winner

27 Nov Country Captain Chicken Stew

It’s been over a year since we made the decision to cut our cable.  In the end, we simply couldn’t justify the rising cost of cable TV, given how little we actually sat down to watch it.  We’ve been happy going without; the mainstream channels that we receive are more than sufficient for us.  But there are those once-in-awhile nights…when the kids are tucked in bed…when I feel compelled to respond to my exhaustion by sitting in front of the screen.  During those nights, one of the shows I miss kicking back with the most is Throwdown! With Bobby Flay.

Country Captain Chicken Stew

I love Throwdown! for its fun entertainment factor.  It’s positively wild exposure for fabulous cooks around the nation who are brave enough to throw it down against the famous Iron Chef.  I lingered on every episode, even the reruns, back when Food Network was at my fingertips.  Don’t feel too sorry for me though, because I have access to something even better – the Throwdown! cookbook.  I’m a huge fan of the food that Bobby’s talented opponents dish up.  In fact, take a peek at Throwdown! winner Major Dominijanni’s hot ‘n tangy steak.  (Pssst… the Major himself graciously stopped by this little blog and commented on that post!  Is that little bit squeal-worthy?!)

Country Captain Chicken Stew

This time my hungry tummy begged to try a hearty southern stew, given the tough guy moniker “Country Captain.”  Like many people, I had never heard of Country Captain Chicken, but it sounded like a good hearty dish.  Plus, the ingredients looked  tempting yet simple.  With an attractive listing of chicken, veggies, curry, and fluffy rice…can’t go wrong, right? 😉

Country Captain Chicken Stew

This is not the type of dish that comes to mind when I think of typical southern fare.  With some vegetable additions, this stew is robustly flavorful and full of nutrition to boot!  It’s a phenomenal one-pot dish.  We really appreciate how this stew reveals a succulent blend of both savory and sweet, with a richly tasty sauce that is generously poured over fluffy rice.  What a delicious variation from the usual pastas or potatoes.  Next time, I’ll go even crazier and steam up our usual brown rice to be drenched in this delish stew.

Country Captain Chicken Stew

As always, my favorite part about this dish is that it is easily made ahead of time and reheats beautifully.  It’s one of those dishes that makes mouth-watering leftovers that you will actually look forward to eating again.  Bonus: It makes just as good weeknight family grub as it does a weekend dinner for friends.  Enjoy!

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RECIPE (serves about 6)

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup raisins
1 TB yellow curry powder
1 TB garam masala
4 oz slab bacon, chopped
12 chicken thighs and/or drums, skin and bone on
2 1/2 cups sliced carrots
2 cups celery, thinly sliced
2 cups diced yellow bell peppers
2 cups diced onion
6 cloves garlic, chopped
1 (28 oz ) can crushed tomatoes
3 TB honey
1 TB ginger powder
3 tsp kosher salt, plus more to taste
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper, plus more to taste
light olive oil
6 cups cooked white rice, hot
1 cup slivered almonds, toasted
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350F.  Pour chicken stock into microwavable dish and microwave on high for 1 minute.  Pour raisins into hot stock, and let sit to plump up.  In another small bowl, combine curry powder, garam masala, 3 tsp salt, and 1 tsp black pepper.  Set aside.

Saute chopped bacon in large heavy pot or Dutch oven over medium high heat.  Cook until bacon is golden brown, about 5 min.  Transfer bacon to a small bowl and set aside.  Using bacon grease still in heavy pot, brown the chicken pieces in small batches over medium high heat.  Do not overcrowd.  Cook until golden brown, about 5 minutes per side.  Repeat until all chicken is browned.  Add 1-2 TB light olive oil if needed to finish cooking chicken.  Remove chicken from pot and set aside.

If pot is dry, add 1 TB olive oil.  Saute carrots, bell peppers, onions, and garlic until softened, about 6 minutes.  Add tomatoes, honey, curry powder mixture, ginger, and raisins with their stock.  Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until sauce thickens around the vegetables, about 8 minutes.

Nestle chicken pieces gently into the sauce, so that skin side faces up and stays above surface.  Tent pot loosely with foil and place in lower middle rack of oven.  Bake 25 minutes.  Uncover, and bake another 20 minutes.  Sauce should be thickened and chicken skin should just begin to crisp.

Remove from oven and skim fat from surface.  If needed, season to taste with additional salt and pepper.  Spoon 1 cup hot rice into a wide bowl.  Arrange a couple of chicken pieces on top, and generously spoon sauce over chicken/rice.  Garnish with reserved bacon, toasted almonds, and parsley.

by Chewoutloud, adapted from The Lee Bros., from Bobby Flay’s Throwdown!

Best Buttery Pound Cake

23 Nov Buttery Pound Cake

Ever tried making pound cake from scratch?  I have tried a few times.  Sometimes the flavor was on, but the texture was just a bit off.  Other times the texture worked but the flavor didn’t so much.  Who knew producing a really good classic pound cake could be so tricky?

Buttery Pound Cake

When I was a kid, my mom used to just buy pound cake.  We all loved the stuff, whether for breakfast or dessert.  I eventually felt compelled to try homemade recipes that would rival those bakery ones.  After several “decent” results, I moved on and forgot about pound cake.

Buttery Pound Cake

But then one day Hubby tells me that his sweet mom made the best ever homemade pound cake from scratch.  My gentle mother in law is no longer with us and nobody knows where her recipe is.  Hmm.  Of course that is when my obsession with finding the best homemade pound cake recipe became stirred.

Buttery Pound Cake

This pound cake is a classically rich, dense cake.  It is the best tasting pound cake we’ve had, full of melt-in-your mouth buttery goodness and real vanilla.  Pound cakes are not meant to be fluffy like birthday cakes or layer cakes.   This pound cake is tender and plush inside, with a golden and slightly crumbly exterior,  just as it should be.  The wonderful buttery-ness is what brings this cake over the edge… so, so good.

Buttery Pound Cake

You’re just 6 ingredients away from this delightful breakfast-slash-dessert.  It’s a yummy hostess gift, anyone gift, or self gift – Enjoy!

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RECIPE (one 9×5 loaf)

INGREDIENTS

16 TB unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces, chilled
3 large eggs + 3 large yolks, room temp
1 TB vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups (7 oz) cake flour
1/2 tsp fine salt
1 1/4 cups (8 3/4 oz) white sugar

DIRECTIONS

Place chilled butter pieces in bowl of stand mixer; let stand at room temp for 20-30 minutes to just slightly soften the butter.  Butter should not get warmer than 60 degrees (if butter is too warm, cake will be too flat and dense.)

In a separate bowl, use a fork to beat room-temp eggs, egg yolks, and vanilla.  Set aside at room temp.

Adjust oven rack to lower middle position and preheat to 325F.  Grease and flour a 9×5 loaf pan.

Using the paddle of stand mixer, beat butter and salt at medium high speed until it’s shiny, smooth and creamy, 2-3 minutes.  Reduce speed to medium and very gradually pour in sugar, about 1 min.  Once all sugar is added, increase speed to medium high and beat until mixture is light and fully, 5-8 minutes, scraping down bowl as needed.  Reduce speed to medium and gradually add egg mixture in a slow steady stream, about 1 min.  Scrape down bowl and beat at medium high until light and fluffy, 3-4 min.  Remove bowl from mixer and scrape down.

Sift cake flour over the butter-egg mixture in 3 separate additions.  Fold gently with rubber spatula until combined after each addition.  Be sure to scrape bottom of bowl to ensure all batter is combined.

Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth top.  Bake cake until golden brown and toothpick comes out clean.  Start checking at 1 hour.  Let cool on wire rack for 15 minutes, invert onto rack and let cake cool completely before serving.  Keeps well in airtight container.

By chewoutloud, adapted from Cooks Illustrated

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