Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Spinach-Walnut Stuffed Chicken

I'm drawing from my "reserves" to post these days since gracious friends are still bringing us meals after having a baby girl (who was 7 months along in the above photo!) and I'm not cooking as much. This is something I made a while back, but didn't post because the recipe was going to be part of a surprise gift for a faithful "Let's Eat" reader. And then I forgot about it. You don't care. What you do care about is knowing that it's delicious! The flavor combination was just strong enough without overdoing it. Thank you for sharing the recipe, Kenan!

1/2 c finely chopped onion
1/2 c finely chopped mushroom
1/4 c finely chopped celery
2 garlic cloves, minced
2-1/2 tsp olive oil
1 pkg frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry (I used baby spinach that I had on hand and just sauteed it with the other stuff)
1/4 c crumbled gorgonzola cheese
4 boneless skinless chicken breast
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 egg white
1/4 c ground walnuts

Saute onion, mushroom, celery and garlic in oil until tender.
Stir in spinach and cheese, remove from heat.

Cut lengthwise slits in thickest part of chicken, fill with mixture, sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Place egg white and walnuts in separate bowls, dip one side of chicken in egg white, then in walnuts.
Place in 11 X 17 baking dish coated with cooking spray and bake uncovered at 350 for 25-30 minutes.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

My three day craving for a chocolate chip cookie turned into a need this afternoon. With my oldest asleep and my youngest in the Bjorn, I gathered the ingredients and went for it. It was my way of celebrating the first day of non-maternity jeans! My friend posted her favorite chocolate chip cookie recipes (which included my favorite recipe!), so I decided to give one of them a try. The verdict: I still like my recipe better because I think they are a little more moist and chewy, but these were definitely worthy of being in a top three.

2 cups plus 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
12 Tbsp (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted & cooled until warm
1 c brown sugar, packed
1/2 c granulated sugar
1 large egg plus 1 yolk
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Adjust oven racks to upper & lower -middle positions & heat oven to 325. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Whisk dry ingredients together; set aside.

With electric mixer, or by hand, mix butter & sugars until thoroughly combined. Beat in egg, yolk and vanilla until combined. Add dry ingredients & beat at low speed just until combined. Stir in chips.

Roll scant 1/2 cup dough into ball. Holding dough ball in fingertips of both hands, pull into 2 equal halves. Rotate halves 90 degrees and, with jagged surfaces facing up, place formed dough onto cookie sheet, leaving ample room between each ball.

Bake, reversing position of cookie sheets halfway through baking, until cookies are light golden brown and outer edges start to harden yet centers are still soft & puffy (about 17 minutes in my oven).

Cool cookies on sheets until able to lift without breaking and place on wire rack to cool.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Dump Truck Cake

My son turned TWO this month! He loves everything and anything associated with "wheels", so after being inspired by a post my friend did about her son's birthday cake, I tried my hand at this dump truck. You'll notice I made several changes in my version. Most of them weren't intentional and just sorta happened. But the little man was appropriately excited when he saw his birthday cake, which was all I needed to be satisfied.

1 (9 by 5-inch) loaf pound cake
1 can (16 oz) vanilla frosting
Red food coloring
4 Twizzlers or Red Vines
1 cup coarsely crushed chocolate cookies
½ cup thin pretzel sticks
Brown M&M's Premiums or Peanut M&M's
2 chocolate-covered doughnuts
6 mini chocolate-covered doughnuts
8 yellow M&M's
1 bar (4 oz) white chocolate
2 mint Mentos

Trimming the cake:

  1. Place the cake on a clean work surface. Using a bread knife, trim the top to make it level.
  2. Cut a 2-inch piece from one short end of the loaf cake. Cut a wedge from the top of the remaining pound cake, 1 ½ inches down on one short end (see template). Set the wedge aside.

For the white and red frosting:

  1. Spoon ¼ cup of the untinted vanilla frosting into a small resealable plastic bag.
  2. Add red food coloring to the remaining frosting to tint it red.

Assembling the cake:

  1. Cut a 1-inch slice from the long edge of the reserved wedge; discard the scrap and place the slimmed wedge on a serving platter, wide cut side down. Spread some of the red frosting on top.
  2. Place the larger cake on top of the trimmed piece, as pictured. Spread the top and sides of the larger cake with some of the red frosting and make smooth.
  3. For the dump truck's cab, place the reserved 2 by 5-inch loaf end in front of the large cake and cover with red frosting.

For the candy decoration:

  1. Trim the red licorice to match the dimensions of the truck trailer and use to line its top edge. Place a trimmed piece of licorice along the top back edge of the cab of the truck.
  2. Fill the top of the cake with crushed cookies, pretzels, and M&M's. Allow some of the cookies and pretzels to fall onto the serving platter.
  3. Press the regular-size and the mini-doughnuts onto the sides of the cake as tires. Snip a small corner from the bag with the vanilla frosting. Pipe a dot of vanilla frosting in the center of the doughnuts and add the yellow M&M's to the center.
  4. Insert 2 pretzel sticks into the top back corners of the truck cab.
  5. Cut the white-chocolate bar into a 1 ½ by 3-inch rectangle and two ½ by 1-inch rectangles. Press the smaller white-chocolate "windows" onto the sides of the truck cab. Press the large rectangular white chocolate "window" into the front of the cab.
  6. Press the Mentos underneath the large window on either side of the front of the cab for the truck's lights.

Cake Anatomy:

dumptruck anatomy

Cake Cutout:

dumptruck anatomy

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Toffee-Date Pudding with Toffee Sauce

Do yourself a favor: go make this right now. At least make the toffee sauce and drench a bowl of ice cream with it. Do it. Right now.

6 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for baking pan
2 cups chopped pitted dates (8 ounces)
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly butter an 8-inch square baking pan. IN a small saucepan, combine dates and 1 cup water; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add baking soda and stir until dates begin to break down and mixture thickens slightly. 1 to 2 minutes. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, allspice, and salt. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar on medium until ight and fluffly, 3 to 5 minutes. Add eggs and vailla; beat until combined (mixture may look curdled). Scrape down bowl.

With mixer on low, beat in flour miture in three additions, alternating with date mixture and beginning adn ending with flour mixture. Increase speed to medium and beat to combine. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake until a skewer inserted in center comes out with only a few moist crumbs attached, about 45 minutes. Meanwhile, make Toffee Sauce.

Set baking pan on a wire rack and poke holes all over top of cake with skewer. Pour 1.2 cup Toffee Sauce over cake; let stand 10 minutes. (To store, cover and keep at room temperature, up to 3 days.) Cut cake into squares and serve warm with remaining sauce.

In a small saucepan, combine:
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/2 cup heavy cream
pinch of salt

Cook over medium-high, stirring constantly, until sugar dissolves and mixture boils. Reduce to a simmer and cook, without stirring, 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in 2 teaspoons whiskey (optional).

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Creole Cornbread Stuffing

After tasting this at Jessie's house for Thanksgiving, my husband requested that it be included in our Christmas dinner menu as well (it's the largest portioned item on his plate pictured above!). He was so set on eating some, he practically made the dish himself (since I had given birth on the 22nd!). We were all glad. It's delicious with a great spicy kick.

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup stone ground cornmeal
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons white sugar
2-1/2 eggs, beaten
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1-1/2 cups buttermilk
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon onion powder
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil (or dried)
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup minced onion
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 green chile pepper, chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 cup butter
1 cup chicken broth
1-1/2 teaspoons hot pepper sauce
3/4 cup and 3 tablespoons evaporated milk
3-1/2 eggs, beaten
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Butter a 13x9 inch pan.

Combine the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, 1 teaspoon salt, and sugar, and mix well.

Combine the eggs, melted butter, and buttermilk. Add wet ingredients to dry while mixing on low with a mixer. Mix just until no dry ingredients remain. Pour into prepared pan.

Bake until top is browned and a toothpick comes out clean, about 55 minutes. Allow to cool completely.

To Make Stuffing: In a small bowl combine the salt with the white pepper, black pepper, cayenne pepper, onion powder, oregano, thyme, basil, and bay leaves.

In another bowl combine the minced onions, green onions, parsley, red or green peppers, chili peppers, and garlic.

Melt butter in a large fry pan. Add the spices and cook for a few minutes. Add the vegetables and cook about 5 minutes. Do not allow the vegetables to brown. Add the stock and Tabasco. Stir and cook 5 minutes more. Crumble the cornbread into the skillet and mix. Add the evaporated milk and eggs OFF THE HEAT. Make sure to stir well when adding the eggs. Return to low heat and cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes. Remove the bay leaves. Place stuffing in a bowl and cover. At this point, I threw mine in the oven on 350 for about 15 minutes, but the recipe didn't say to do that.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Butterscotch Banana Pancakes

These were the first calories I consumed to ring in the new year . . . the best decision I've made in 2010 thus far! The original recipe comes from my friend, Jessie, but we used butterscotch chips instead of chocolate. Mmmmm . . .

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 egg, beaten
1 cup milk
2 Tbsp. cooking oil
1 mashed banana
1/4-1/2 cup butterscotch chips (or chocolate)

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Make a well in the center of mixture and set aside. Combine the egg, milk, oil and mashed banana; add egg mixture all at once to the flour mixture. Stir just until moistened (batter should be lumpy); add additional milk to thin batter if necessary. Stir in butterscotch chips.

For standard-sized pancakes (the ones I made), pour or spread about 1/4 cup of batter into a 3-inch circle onto a hot, lightly greased griddle or frying pan. Cook over medium heat for about 2 minutes on each side or until pancakes are golden brown, turning to second sides when pancakes have bubbly surfaces and edges are slightly dry.

Spiced Tea

My mom kept this mix stocked in the cupboard growing up, but I mostly remember drinking it during the holidays.

1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup Tang
1/2 cup lemon flavored instant tea
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. cinnamon

Mix everything together. Store in an airtight container. Use approximately 2 rounded teaspoons of mix per mug of boiling water.
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