Monday, February 28, 2011

Betty Crocker Scones

I'm always excited to get new recipes, especially if you try one I've posted and think you have something better.  A friend tested out my scones and then offered a challenge with this Betty Crocker recipe.  I tested them out last week.  They were good enough to post, but didn't take first place for me or my husband.  We decided they were a bit boring and too flaky.  We liked the density in my scones and the option of add-ins (which I'm sure you could do with this recipe).  So, for those of you who try my scones and don't think they are as amazing as I do, give this recipe shot (and know that I think you're crazy!). 

1 3/4 cup flour
3 Tbsp sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 heaping tsp salt
1/3 cup firm butter
1 large egg, beaten
1/2 tsp vanilla
5-7 Tbsp heavy whipping cream
sugar for sprinkling

Heat oven to 400.

In a large bowl: mix flour, baking powder, sugar and salt.  Cut in the butter with a pastry blender or use 2 knives, cutting the butter in.  The mixture should look crumbly.  Add egg, vanilla and enough whipping cream so the dough leaves the side of the bowl.  

Place dough on lightly floured surface and gently roll in the flour to coat.  Knead the dough about 10 times.

On an ungreased cookie sheet, roll or pat dough into an 8-inch circle.  Cut dough into 8 wedges but DO NOT separate wedges.  Brush the top with additional whipping cream and sprinkle with sugar.  

Bake 14-16 minutes or until lightly golden brown.  Immediately remove from pan, separate wedges, and let cool on a rack.  Serve warm or room temperature.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes

A few weeks ago, we joined some friends at their house for a little dinner party.  The hostess did an amazing job preparing salmon and served delicious mashed potatoes as a side.  We couldn't get enough of them!  My son literally ate three helpings, which I was okay with after I heard they had cauliflower in them.  A whole head of cauliflower!  I've since made them myself twice and thought I'd share the brilliance with you.  Make a large batch and use the leftovers for this recipe.  I've actually done this before, but used broccoli.  Neither broccoli nor cauliflower alter the taste much, but the green mash looks a bit less appetizing than the white.  I've also heard that spinach works well, but haven't tried that yet.

1 head cauliflower, chopped into medium-sized pieces
4-6 russet potatoes, peeled and chunked
2-4 Tbsp butter
1/2 -1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 - 1 cup milk (I love using up cream or half and half combined with milk to make it extra creamy)
sour cream, optional
3-4 cloves garlic, minced, optional (use at your own risk . . . apparently I really like garlic and 4 cloves is a lot!)

Place potatoes in a large pot of salted boiling water.  Return to a boil, then reduce heat and cook until potatoes are soft throughout, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, steam cauliflower until easily pierced with a fork.  I use a metal steamer on the stove.  You could also do it in the microwave, putting a bit of water in the bottom of a microwave-safe bowl and cooking until the cauliflower is all soft.

Once finished cooking, drain the cauliflower and potatoes and place in a large bowl.  Add butter, salt, pepper, sour cream and garlic.  Add just a bit of milk and beat on medium-high.  Add more milk until you reach the consistency you want.  Serve warm and enjoy!

Friday, February 25, 2011

English Cottage Pie

I gave up on trying to take my own picture that made this dish look good.  But it was good, and I'm okay with being a better cook than I am a photographer.  The recipe is similar to one I've made before, but I preferred the mashed potatoes on top.

1 Tbsp flour
1 Tbsp butter, softened
cooking spray
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped carrot
1 (8 oz) package cremini or button mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 pound extra lean ground beef
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 cup beef broth
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 Tbsp thyme leaves
1/2 tsp salt
3 cups leftover mashed potatoes
3/4 cup sharp white cheddar cheese
paprika (optional)

Preheat oven to 350.

Combine flour and butter; stir well.  Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Coat pan with cooking spray.  Add onion and carrot; saute 5 minutes.  Ad mushrooms; saute for 5 minutes or until lightly browned.  Remove vegetables from skillet.  Add beef to pan; cook 5 minutes or until browned, stirring to crumble.  Stir in tomato paste, and cook 3 minutes.  Stir in broth and pepper.  Return vegetables to pan, and bring to a simmer.  Stir in parsley, thyme, and salt.  Add flour mixture, and cook for 1 minute or until thick, stirring constantly.

Spoon meat mixture into an 8-inch glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray, spreading evenly.  Combine the potatoes and half of cheese; spread the potato mixture evenly over meat mixture.  Top with remaining cheese.  Sprinkle wit paprika, if desired.  Bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until bubbly.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Maple Bacon Chex Mix

This is not your regular chex mix, folks.  This is party-worthy!  At first glance, your guests might reach for something else.  But then they'll spy the bits of bacon and that's when you begin to hear, "Oh my goodness - this is so good.  Hey, you've got to try this.  It has real bacon in it.  Whoa . . ."  Bacon makes everything wonderful, agreed?

2 cups corn chex
2 cups rice chex
2 cups wheat chex
1 cup peanuts, salted and roasted
6 strips bacon, cooked extra crispy and chopped
4 Tbsp butter, melted
4 Tbsp maple syrup
1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne (depending on how spicy you like it)
1-1 1/2 tsp sea salt (use less if using table salt)

Combine the cereals, peanuts, and cayenne in a large, microwaveable-safe bowl.  In a small bowl combine the butter and maple syrup.  Add the butter mixture to the cereal and stir very well.  Microwave on high for three minutes stirring every minute to prevent the sugars to scorch.  Add the bacon and salt.  Stir.  Let cool.  Serve.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Pork Chops with Butternut Squash, Escarole and Walnuts

Another recipe from Sunset magazine that I we really enjoyed.  I made a few changes that I've included below.  You could easily add one or two more pork chops to the pan to serve more.

1 Tbsp olive oil
2 pork chops (boneless or boned)
3/4 tsp salt, divided
3/4 tsp pepper, divided
1 bunch escarole; washed, rinsed, and coarsely chopped or torn
1/4 cup chicken broth
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar (used red wine vinegar)
1 Tbsp packed brown sugar
5 shallots, peeled and cut in half
1 small butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2-1 inch cubes (about 3 cups)
1 Tbsp fresh sage, chopped
1/4 cup walnuts, roughly chopped (I forgot them and it was still good)

Preheat oven to 450.  Heat oil in a large ovenproof frying pan over medium-high heat.  Rub pork chops with 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper and cook until golden brown on one side, about 3 minutes.  Transfer pork to a plate.

Add 2 Tbsp broth, the vinegar, brown sugar and remaining 1/4 tsp each salt and pepper to pan and simmer 1 minute.  Add shallots, squash, sage, and escarole to pan.  Cook until escarole has wilted, about 3 minutes, mixing occasionally with tongs.

Put frying pan in oven and bake, uncovered, until squash is just tender, about 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and fit pork, browned side up, between vegetables.  Drizzle remaining brother over mixture and sprinkle with walnuts.  Return to oven and bake, uncovered, until vegetables begin to turn golden and pork is cooked through, 5 to 10 minutes.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Chicken Laksa

My husband and I shared one of our most favorite meals on a private beach in Thailand: laksa.  After seeing a recipe for chicken laksa in a recent issue of Sunset magazine, I decided it was the perfect meal for us to make together on the day of luv.  It wasn't as good as what we shared several years ago, but that was to be expected and it still tasted special and exotic.

*I used a combination of seeds and ground spices from the list below.  I was hoping my mini-food processor would do a better job of grinding the seeds.  Eh.

2 Tbsp coriander seeds
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
4 cloves
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
5 to 8 dried arbol chilies, stemmed
2 lemongrass stalks
3 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 pound boned, skinned chicken thighs, cubed
1 tsp shrimp paste: 

I would suggest only using 1/2 tsp. of this potent paste.  Either way, your house will be filled with a not-so-pleasant aroma that can't be avoided.  It's a key ingredient.  You've been warned.

3 large shallots, thinly sliced
1 can (13.5 oz) coconut milk
1 qt. chicken broth
2 tsp sugar
3 tsp salt
1 cinnamon stick
6 oz. mung bean sprouts, rinsed
8 oz. wide rice noodles
1/3 cup fresh mint leaves, torn
1/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves, torn
lime wedges

Grind coriander, peppercorns, cumin, fennel, cloves, turmeric, and chiles coarsely in a spice grinder.  Peel tough outer layers from lemongrass, then mash core with a meat mallet or small, heavy frying pan.

The lemongrass is somewhere under that pan and those calloused feet!

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add chicken, shrimp paste, shallots, and reserved spices and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, 2 minutes.

Pour in coconut milk, brother, sugar, and salt; add cinnamon and lemongrass.  Bring to a boil, then simmer, covered, 20 minutes.

Boil bean sprouts in a large pot of boiling water until softened, 2 minutes.  Transfer sprouts to a bowl.  Add noodles to pot and cook until firm, 4 minutes.  Drain; rinse well.

Divide sprouts and noodles among 6 bowls.  Ladle in soup (remove cinnamon and lemongrass) and top with mint and cilantro.  Serve with lime wedges.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Pecan Spice Cake with Maple Frosting

Ironically, I found this recipe in a Cooking Light magazine (since there isn't anything light about it!).  It's not my favorite cake of all times, but I wasn't embarrassed to serve it at a dinner party.  The cake was a bit dry, but that was probably my fault.  The frosting was delicious, but tasted like it should have been on a Top Pot Maple Bar instead of my cake.  The frosting sets very fast, so I basically just slowly poured it on the cake and by the time I started spreading it had already started to harden.  At least that's my excuse for why it's looks a bit too homemade!

Cooking spray
2  teaspoons  all-purpose flour
9  ounces  all-purpose flour (about 2 cups)
1/2  teaspoon  baking soda
1/2  teaspoon  salt
1/2  teaspoon  ground cinnamon
1/4  teaspoon  ground nutmeg
Dash of ground cloves
1  cup  packed brown sugar
1/2  cup  butter, softened
3  large eggs
1  teaspoon  vanilla extract
1  cup  buttermilk
1/3  cup  chopped pecans, toasted

1/2  cup  packed brown sugar
1/4  cup  heavy whipping cream
1/4  cup  maple syrup
1  tablespoon  butter
Dash of salt
2  cups  powdered sugar
1/2  teaspoon  vanilla extract
2  tablespoons  chopped pecans, toasted

Preheat oven to 350°.
To prepare cake, coat 2 (8-inch) round metal cake pans with cooking spray. Line bottoms of pans with wax paper; coat with cooking spray. Dust each pan with 1 teaspoon flour. Weigh or lightly spoon 9 ounces flour (about 2 cups) into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine 9 ounces flour, baking soda, and next 4 ingredients (through cloves), stirring well with a whisk.
Place 1 cup brown sugar and 1/2 cup butter in a large mixing bowl; beat with a mixer at medium-high speed until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes). Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in 1 teaspoon vanilla. Add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to butter mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture and beating just until combined. Fold in 1/3 cup pecans. Divide batter evenly between prepared pans.
Bake at 350° for 24 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans 5 minutes on wire racks. Invert cake layers onto racks; cool completely. Discard wax paper.
To prepare frosting, place 1/2 cup brown sugar, heavy whipping cream, maple syrup, 1 tablespoon butter, and dash of salt in a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat; bring to a boil, stirring just until sugar dissolves. Cook 3 minutes, without stirring. Scrape brown sugar mixture into a bowl. Add powdered sugar; beat with a mixer at high speed 2 minutes or until slightly cooled and thick. Beat in 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Place 1 cake layer on a plate. Spread about 3/4 cup frosting evenly over 1 layer; top with second layer. Spread remaining frosting over sides and top of cake; sprinkle with 2 tablespoons pecans. Let the cake stand until frosting sets.

    Saturday, February 12, 2011

    Slow Cooker Jambalaya

    The only jambalaya I'd ever made came from a Zatarain's box, so this was definitely a step up in my book!  It had just the right amount of spice for my taste and was a much lighter version than I'm used to.  Since the rice doesn't cook in with the meat, you could even serve it with a crusty loaf as a non-traditional-jambalaya-stew-thing.  Maybe?!   

    1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes
    1/2 pound andouille sausage, diced
    1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
    1 medium onion, chopped
    1 green pepper, seeded and chopped
    1 stalk celery, chopped
    1 cup chicken broth
    2 tsp dried oregano
    2 tsp Cajun or Creole seasoning
    1 tsp hot sauce
    2 bay leaves
    1/2 tsp dried thyme
    1 pound frozen peeled and cooked shrimp, thawed
    cooked rice for serving

    In a slow cooker, combine chicken, sausage, tomatoes, onion, green pepper, celery, and chicken broth.  Stir in oregano, Cajun seasoning, hot sauce, bay leaves and thyme.  Cover and cook on Low for 7 hours or on High for 3 hours.  Stir in the thawed shrimp, cover and cook until the shrimp is heated through, about 5 minutes.  Discard bay leaves and spoon mixture over cooked rice.

    Wednesday, February 9, 2011

    Red Posole

    Our friend, Julie, passed on this recipe (along with some of her Mexican Oregano - thank you)  She's a much better cook than I'll ever be, so I knew it was going to be good.  It's probably been my most favorite soup this winter.  I just can't get enough of this stuff!  And it makes a lot, so get ready to share or have leftovers.

    2 lb. lean pork
    3 lb. posole, dried, frozen, or canned hominy
    1 qt. water or chicken broth for cooking
    1 tsp salt
    1 bay leaf
    1/2 tsp each of black pepper, ground cumin, and Mexican oregano
    4 garlic cloves, minced
    2 Tbsp medium red chili powder (I only had 1 Tbsp and the soup still had plenty of flavor)
    mild large chili pods to cook with meat and remove when meat is tender, optional

    Serve with optional toppings:
    cojita cheese (feta works as well)
    fresh limes
    tortilla chips

    In a large heavy pot, boil the pork and bay leaf in salted water or chicken broth until tender (30-60 minutes).  Remove the bay leaf.  Add the uncooked hominy and all the other ingredients.  Cover and simmer until the hominy kernels swell and burst open, about 45 minutes.  If using the canned, cooked hominy, simmer and cover until heated through, about 20 minutes.

    Friday, February 4, 2011



    I blame Jessie for the whole thing.

    • 1 cup sour cream (I used half plain yogurt and half sour cream)
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 4 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 cup white sugar
    • 2 teaspoons baking powder
    • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1 cup butter
    • 1 egg
    • 1 cup raisins (optional)

    • In a small bowl, blend the sour cream and baking soda, and set aside.

    • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a large baking sheet.

    • In a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, cream of tartar, and salt. Cut in the butter. Stir the sour cream mixture and egg into the flour mixture until just moistened. Mix in the raisins.

    • Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead briefly. Roll or pat dough into a 3/4 inch thick round. Cut into 12 wedges, and place them 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet.

    • Bake 12 to 15 minutes in the preheated oven, until golden brown on the bottom.

    Wednesday, February 2, 2011

    Tofu Fries

    I know some of you will think I've lost my marbles with this one, but they were actually very good!  My dad will never believe me, but the rest of you just need to trust me!  They are fried, after all.

    vegetable oil for frying
    1 package extra-firm tofu
    seasoning salt

    Pour oil into a large saucepan to a depth of 1 in. and heat to 350.  Cut tofu into sticks about 1/2 in. wide and 3 to 4 inches long; pat dry with a towel.

    Drop tofu sticks into hot oil, working in batches.  They will try to stick like magnets, but after the first minute you should be able to separate them easily with a spoon or spatula.  Use a slotted spoon or spatula to gently turn tofu a few times; cook until golden brown, about 3 minutes.  Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels and sprinkle with whatever seasonings you like!

    I used seasoning salt, a bit of pepper, and then dipped them in Thai sweet chili sauce.  My kids loved them too!
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