Friday, December 30, 2011

BBQ Cabbage & Sausage Stuffed Rolls

photo credit here

Jessie posted this recipe and we really enjoyed it.  They also made great leftovers for lunches.

1 pound sausage, either raw or smoked
1/2 head green cabbage, shredded
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 small white onion, diced (optional)
1 cup BBQ sauce
1/4 pound provolone cheese, thinly sliced (I used mozzarella)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 pound bread dough or 8 to 16 premade dough rolls, thawed
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted


Crumble the sausage into a large sauté pan and cook over medium-high heat until browned and completely cooked through. Drain the fat. Add the cabbage, garlic, and onion (if using) and cook over medium heat until wilted and soft. Add BBQ sauce and stir frequently until warm. Add the cheese to the pan and stir continuously so it doesn't stick or burn. When the cheese has just melted, remove pan from heat and set aside. Taste and add salt and pepper if necessary.


Preheat oven to 450°. Taking a small amount of dough (slightly larger than a clementine and smaller than a baseball) press it flat with your hands and pull gently on the sides — like you were making a mini pizza crust. Place dough in the palm of your hand or on a flat surface and spoon 1/4 cup of the mixture onto the dough. Working quickly pinch together the ends, folding them over gently to ensure they stay closed. Flip the ball over and rub gently on the counter in a small circular motion to regain its shape.


Lay each ball on a baking sheet covered in parchment paper that's been lightly floured (I just lightly sprayed my pan and they didn't stick at all). When tray is full, brush the tops with butter, sprinkle with salt and bake for 15 to 25 minutes until golden brown.


Allow to cool completely if freezing or refrigerating (otherwise the bread will get soggy) or enjoy while still warm!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Cocoa-Banana Pancakes



My youngest gingersnap turned TWO last week!  We started her morning off with some yummy "Minnie Mouse" pancakes.  The bitterness from the cocoa and yogurt was offset by the sweet banana (and syrup!) and they were moistly delicious!

1 cup plain, full-fat yogurt
1 banana, the riper the better
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup buttermilk or whole milk
2 eggs
pinch of salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 Tablespoons cocoa
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
2 Tablespoons wheat germ
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 Tablespoons coconut (optional)

Combine yogurt, banana, milk and vanilla in a large bowl and pulverize with a hand blender until smooth. Crack in the eggs, add a pinch of salt and mix together thoroughly.
In another bowl, sift together flours, cocoa, and baking soda. With a wooden spoon, stir in wheat germ and coconut, if desired. Add entire dry mixture into the wet mixture and fold gently together. Pour in melted butter and mix just to combine.
Heat a cast iron pan (or nonstick) over medium heat and then grease with vegetable oil. Ladle a few tablespoons of batter onto the pan to make several small, round pancakes. Cook on even medium-low heat until bubbles start to form.
Flip pancakes and continue cooking.

 Remove from pan and serve warm with maple syrup or Nutella and fresh banana slices, if desired.
Batter may be refrigerated and kept up to two days. Beat well with a fork before using.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Bruschetta

Merry Christmas!  Here's a tasty and festive-looking appetizer for your Christmas weekend.  I searched through several recipes for how to make the topping and then just went with it.  Yummy!

  • 1 (12 to 16-inch) baguette
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup grated parmigiano-reggiano, plus more for topping
  • 2 cups diced tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper


Preheat oven to 350 F.
Cut the baguette in medium slices, place on a sheet tray and bake in the oven until lightly brown. Sprinkle a bit of cheese on each slice.  Return to oven to melt cheese.
In a medium bowl, add the tomatoes, minced garlic, basil, vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly and let sit for at least 5 minutes at room temperature.
Remove baguette slices from oven and top with the tomato mixture. Sprinkle a little more cheese on top and enjoy!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Coffee Pudding

This was decadent, delicious, and extremely rich.  It was the perfect treat for a date with my man, who loves all things coffee.


Makes 4 good-sized servings
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup espresso, or strong brewed coffee (de-caf would work)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup brown sugar

In a medium sauce pan combine the cream and coffee and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Watch closely as cream boils over quickly.
In a small bowl combine the cornstarch, salt and sugar. Whisk to remove any and all lumps.
Once cream and coffee are simmering, add the dry ingredients and whisk to combine. Boil gently for 1 minute. Pour hot pudding through a fine strainer to remove any little cornstarchy clumps.  I don't have a fine strainer, but our pudding was still pretty much lump-free.
Pour into serving dishes then cover the surface with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until set, at least 3 hours.
Serve with sweetened whipped cream.

Sweet Whipped Cream
2 cups heavy cream
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Combine all ingredients and whisk until medium peaks form. Chill until ready to serve.

Monday, December 19, 2011

French Onion Soup

My husband and I enjoyed an in-house date night last week.  I always have fun planning our date menus!  French onion soup has never been one of my favorites, but my husband has mentioned it a few times recently, so I figured if the Pioneer Woman had a recipe, I could probably like it!  I almost stopped cooking when the onions came out of the oven.  I wanted to dig in with a fork!  The final product was deliciously rich and perfect to sip on over undistracted conversation with my man.



1 stick Butter
4 whole Large (or 6 Medium) Yellow Onions, Halved Root To Tip, And Sliced Thin
1 cup (generous) Dry White Wine
4 cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth
4 cups Beef Broth
2 cloves Minced Garlic
Worcestershire Sauce
Several Thick Slices Of French Bread Or Baguette
5 ounces, weight (to 7 Ounces) Gruyere Cheese, Grated

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Melt butter in a heavy soup pot or Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add onions and cook, covered, for 20 minutes. Place soup pot into the oven with the lid slightly ajar to ensure the onions will brown. Allow onions to cook in the oven for 1 hour, stirring at least once during the cooking process so onions won’t stick and burn.
Remove pot from oven and place back on stovetop over medium heat. Stir, scraping off all the brown, flavorful bits. Turn off heat and pour in wine. Turn heat back to medium. Cook wine for five minutes, allowing it to reduce. Add broths, a splash of Worcestershire Sauce and minced garlic and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 30 to 45 minutes.
Butter one side of the bread slices and broil over low heat, allowing bread to brown and become crispy.  
When soup is ready, ladle into bowl or ramekin. Place crispy bread on top, and then sprinkle generously with grated cheese. Broil until cheese is melted and bubbly.
Serve immediately.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Apple Pie Swirl Bread

I made this one evening and we enjoyed it for breakfast the next day.  I was shy with the "fillings", eyeballing the spices and butter.  One third cup of sugar seemed like a lot to me.  The loaf turned out fine, but was missing some of the "apple pie" flavor I think would have shown up more if I had used the suggested amount of sugar and cinnamon.  


2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons yeast
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil (I used canola)
1 1/3 cup whole milk
2 tablespoons butter, softened slightly
3/4 cup chopped apple (equals about 1 medium apple)
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon (I used Penzeys' Apple Pie Spice)


Mix together flours, yeast, and salt in a large bowl, stand mixer, or food processor. Stir in the honey, oil, and milk, mixing until the dough comes together and forms a ball. If the dough is too sticky add a small amount of all-purpose flour; if too dry, add a small amount of milk.


Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead for a couple of minutes, until the dough is smooth. Let rise in a covered bowl until doubled in bulk, about two hours.  It took my dough over three hours to double in size.


Punch down dough and put onto floured surface. Roll out into a rectangle with its short side approximately 9 inches (to fit a loaf pan). If the dough resists rolling out, let it rest 10 minutes and continue.  Spread butter on dough. Scatter apple pieces across, similar to topping a pizza. Mix together sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over the entire surface.


Roll up dough and pinch ends closed. Place in a greased loaf pan, and press down dough to fit into the pan, making sure to reach the corners. This will help ensure an even second rise and properly shaped loaf. Cover and let rise approximately 1 hour.


Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Let cool completely before slicing. After the first day, store in the fridge.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Kitchen Gadgets

Since we live on the other side of the world from most of our loved ones, I am happy to report that my Christmas shopping is finished!  However, I'm reading enough blogs and receiving catalogues to remind me that plenty of you don't have the overseas shipping factor built in to your shopping timeline.  For some gift ideas, I thought I'd open my humble kitchen and share some of my favorite kitchen gadget things . . . the stuff besides the very basics that I use a lot.




Apple-peeler-corer-slicer - even if you don't make applesauce (which you should definitely try some time!), I still think this gadget is worth your cabinet space.  I'm surprised by how much I use it.  It makes dicing apples for muffins or bread much faster, kids think the curly-q shape is super fun to eat, it works well to do a pot of mashed potatoes, and did I mention homemade apple sauce couldn't be more fool-proof?

  Salt Bowl - I stopped using a salt shaker a while ago when a friend gave me a little wooden salt bowl.  Mine looks more like these, but I do wish it had a lid, like this one.  Dipping my measuring spoon into the bowl or, more often than not, taking one or two pinches is so much easier than pouring from a container. I know we're talking seconds here, but it adds up, right?  Plus, you can have whatever kind of salt you like without needing bigger holes in your shaker.


Kitchen Sheers - opening packages, "dicing" bacon, trimming green onions, splitting chicken . . . you name it, I've probably used my sheers for it.  





Large Jelly Roll Pan - I just bought my second pan because I was constantly using one, wishing I had another at the same time.  I roast vegetables for dinner a LOT.  These pans are also perfect for making a double batch of granola (time and money saver).  I don't own any other cookie sheets or flat baking pans.




Pampered Chef wooden spoons - my Nana gave me a set of these before I got married.  Nine years later, you will still always find one in my dishwasher or on my drying rack.  The same set.  No splitting, staining, splintering . . . as much as I've used them, I'm convinced these spoons are indestructible.  





Locking Tongs - I actually use chopsticks more than I use my tongs.  Living in China has left its mark.  But I would probably have burnt my hand less using these longer tongs to turn chicken or bacon in hot oil.  Tossing pasta or salad is super simple with these.  They are a regular go-to from my utensil drawer.


What's one of your favorite kitchen gadgets?

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Shredded Asian Beef Tacos

photo credit
These were SO good!  We had our neighbors over for dinner and the four of us all enjoyed them.  The meat was a cinch.  I made my own version of Asian slaw.  Throw everything in a warm corn tortilla and you have a great dinner!




2-3 pounds beef roast
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup soy sauce
1 head garlic (peeled, but leave cloves intact--approx 10 cloves)
1/2 onion, diced
1 inch fresh ginger root, peeled and grated
2 tablespoons seasoned rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 whole jalapeno, diced


There's no way to make this complicated.  Throw everything into your slow cooker.  If you just can't handle the freedom, add the ingredients in alphabetical order.  Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours.  Shred meat and serve with slaw on warm tortillas or brown rice.



Asian Slaw:


4 cups shredded cabbage
1 cup shredded carrots
1 small red onion, finely chopped
pinch of salt and pepper
1 1/2 Tbsp rice vinegar
1⁄4 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp sesame oil
1/2 - 1 tsp sriracha
1/2 tsp sugar

Toss cabbage, carrots, and onion.  Season with salt and pepper.


Whisk together vinegar, mayonnaise, sesame oil, sriracha, and sugar until smooth. Taste; add more salt if needed.  Pour dressing over vegetables and mix to combine.  

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Want to be a Cooker?

My oldest gingersnap told me the other day that he wants to be a "cooker" when he gets bigger.  Specifically, he wants to be a "breakfast cooker and not cook lunch or dinner".  It makes perfect sense: his mom loves to cook and the boy eats three times as much breakfast as anyone else in our house.  So a breakfast cooker he shall be!

With recent talks of "being a cooker", we've also been talking about being hungry.  My two gingersnaps are constantly "hungry".  At least they think they are.  More likely they're bored, or just want to eat something that tastes good (which I can totally relate to!).  We've been working on learning what being hungry really is and our World Vision Gift Catalog arrived at the perfect time to help with that lesson.

World Vision is one of many non-profit organizations that seek to help those suffering from the causes of poverty and injustice.  While we dine on holiday delicacies, I am working to help my children learn (and remind myself) that there are those who won't know anything but hunger as a Christmas dinner this year.  Instead of sharing a recipe today, I thought I'd share a few ways that you can feed someone this season who knows what it means to truly be hungry.  I bet they would appreciate you being their cooker.

a little boy I was blessed to spend time with at an orphanage in China


feeding a family for one day only costs $16

ships food packs to nearly 70 countries around the world






Monday, December 5, 2011

Vegetarian Pinto Beans in the Crock Pot

This is what I served the first time I made broccoli cheese cornbread.  While the bread outshone the beans, I thought this concoction was worth sharing, too.  I threw some things together and this is what we enjoyed.


1 1/5 pounds dried pinto beans
1 onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
6 cups water
1 cup white wine
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 cumin
1/2 tsp oregano
1 Tbsp chili powder
3 bay leaves


Put beans in large pot and cover by a few inches with water.  Soak overnight.  Drain in the morning and dump in your crockpot.  Add everything else to the crockpot.  Stir gently.  Cook on low 8-10 hours or until beans are fully cooked.  Enjoy.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Chicken Edamame Stir-Fry

I love stir-fries.  If I ever use a recipe, it's more for the ingredient combination to make the sauce.  This time, I started with this recipe and made several changes to fit what we had on hand and what I wanted to include.  It was delicious.



  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 8 ounces soba noodles
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (6 to 8 ounces each), cut crosswise into thin strips
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil, separated
  • 1 shallot, halved and thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 napa cabbage (about 1 pound), thinly shredded
  • 2 cups frozen shelled edamame
  • 1 cup snap peas
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce

  • In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook noodles until al dente, according to package instructions. Drain and set aside.

  • While noodles are cooking, heat 1 Tbsp oil in large frying pan or wok on medium high.  Cook chicken strips until done, 3-5 minutes.  Empty into bowl and set aside.

  • Add 1 Tbsp oil to pan, still on medium high; add onion and garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, until softened, 1 to 3 minutes. Add cabbage, and cook, stirring frequently, until tender, 2 to 4 minutes.

  • Add edamame, snap peas, vinegar, soy sauce, chicken, and noodles; season with salt and pepper. Cook, tossing, until noodles and veggies are warmed through, 3 to 5 minutes.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Pumpkin Granola

I didn't bother to take a picture of this one because I didn't think it was that great.  But I'm a bit picky about my granola, so you might like it.  It's on the softer more chunky side.  The flavor was fine, I just like my granola to be crunchy and not too clumpy (like my standard recipe is!).


3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Dash of ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups old fashioned oats
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup raisins
1/2 cup almonds
1/4 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
1/4 cup roasted pumpkin seeds


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, mix together the pumpkin puree, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt. Stir in the brown sugar, maple syrup, and vanilla extract until smooth. Add the oats, dried cranberries, raisins, almonds, coconut, and pumpkin seeds, stirring until granola is evenly coated. It will be moist.
Spread out evenly on prepared baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes and stir the granola around. Bake for an additional 15-20 minutes. Allow to cool completely before storing in an air-tight container. Granola will crisp up once it has cooled down.
Serve with milk, yogurt, or eat it plain and by the handful.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Salted Peanut Butter Frosting

Who doesn't love peanut butter and chocolate?  Seriously?!  Those kind of people exist?!  Well, I'm a big fan of the combination and these amazing brownies did not disappoint.  You can use whatever brownie recipe (or box) you chose, but it's really the frosting that makes this dessert absolutely rich and to die for.  Don't leave out the salt - it really does make a difference.


6 Tablespoons (3/4 stick) softened butter
¾ cup peanut butter
1 cup powdered sugar
pinch salt
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt (like Maldon), for sprinkling on top


Cream the butter and the peanut butter until combined. Slowly stir in the powdered sugar and pinch of salt until completely incorporated. Spread over cooled brownies. Sprinkle the sea salt all over top.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Chicken and Gnocchi Soup

photo credit here

This has nothing to do with thanksgiving dinner, but I was certainly grateful to get to eat this soup!  As much as I enjoy Olive Garden's soup and salad combo, I'd never tried this one from their menu.  So I can't say how close the recipe is to the original version, but it was delicious nonetheless.  I ended up adding more chicken broth to thin the soup a bit, leaving it still plenty rich, creamy, and a comforting fall soup.

  • 1 cup chicken breasts, cooked and diced (you can use a rotisserie chicken)
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 1 quart half and half (I used 1 cup half and half and the rest whole milk)
  • 1 14 ounces can of chicken broth (I added at least one more cup)
  • 1/2 cup celery, finely diced
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 cup carrots, finely shredded
  • 1 cup onion, finely diced
  • 1 cup fresh spinach, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoons extra virgin oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon parsley
  • freshly grated Parmesan cheese, optional
  • 1 pound potato gnocchi 

Saute the onion, celery, and garlic in the butter and olive oil over medium heat until the onion becomes translucent. Add the flour and make a roux. Let the butter and flour mixture cook for about a minute before adding 1 quart of half and half.
Cook gnocchi according to package directions.
Into the roux, add in the carrots and chicken. Once the mixture becomes thick, add the chicken broth. Once the mixture thickens again, add the cooked gnocchi, spinach, and seasoning;, simmer until soup is heated through.
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