Monday, October 31, 2011

Ramen Cabbage Salad

Yes, you can actually serve Ramen noodles to your guests!  My mom made this a lot growing up.  It was always a hit.  I couldn't remember the last time I bought a package of Ramen noodles, but this salad is a good excuse to always have some on hand!

For the salad:
1 medium head cabbage, thinly sliced (you can mix red and green for a more colorful bowl)
3 stalks green onions, thinly sliced
1 package ramen noodles, crumbled (chicken flavor)
1/4 cup slivered or sliced almonds, toasted (5-8 minutes at 350 works for me)
4 Tbsp sunflower seeds

For the dressing:
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup oil
3 Tbsp vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
seasoning packet from Ramen noodles (chicken flavor)

Mix all ingredients for the dressing in a container with a tight-fitting lid.  Shake well.  Refrigerate for 2 hours.  (You can serve it right away if you need to, it just loses a bit of the flavor)  Combine cabbage, green onions, and sunflower seeds in a large bowl.  Add noodles and almonds just before you are ready to add dressing (so they don't get soggy).  Pour chilled dressing on top.  Toss well and serve immediately.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Sweet Smothered Pork Enchiladas

photo credit - someday I'll figure out how to take a picture of enchiladas that looks appetizing

I went to a recipe exchange party recently and scored some great new things to try out!  This was one of my two favorite dishes from that night.  Thanks to my neighbor, Rachel, for introducing them!  The sweetness from the brown sugar is unexpected in an enchilada, but delicious.  My husband and I both agreed that we wanted more spice.  Next time I'll either use chilie sauce that isn't mild, or add a little crushed red pepper to the meat mixture while it's cooking.

2 1/2 pounds pork, any cut
salt and pepper
garlic powder
flour tortillas (8-10 large or 15-20 small)
2 10 0z. cans mild green chilie enchilada sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 can black beans, rinsed and well drained
chopped cilantro
1 cup monteray jack cheese, grated

Cut pork into large cubes and season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  Place cubes in slow cooker and add 1/3 cup water.  Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8.  Remove from cooker, letting juices drain off.  Place meat in large bowl and shred.  Mix in 1/2 cup chilie sauce, brown sugar and black beans.  Stir until well combined.  This is your enchilada filling.

Preheat oven to 350.  Lightly grease a 9x13 baking dish.

Pour 1/2 cup chilie sauce in bottom of dish.  Working with one tortilla at a time, spoon meat mixture and chopped cilantro (to taste) in center and roll up.  Place seam side down in dish.  Repeat with remaining tortillas.  Pour the rest of chilie sauce over enchiladas and top with grated cheese.

Bake 25-30 minutes, or until cheese is fully melted and bubbly.  Broil for 1-2 minutes to add a little texture if you want.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Pumpkin Cornbread

Thank you, Kendra, for sharing this recipe!  What could be bad about pumpkin cornbread?!  I served it with savory pinto beans and thought it was a good twist on the regular stuff I make.  But to be fair, my husband said he would have preferred a cornbread that wasn't as sweet to go with the beans.  Maybe it would compliment a sweet sausage soup better.  Either way, we all still liked the bread.

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour (or just use 1 cup of all-purpose)
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 Tbsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cups brown sugar
1 cup cornmeal
2 whole eggs
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup olive oil
1 Tbsp molasses

Preheat oven to 400 F.  Grease an 8x8 baking dish.

In medium bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder, salt, spices, brown sugar, and cornmeal.

In small bowl, lightly beat eggs, then stir in pumpkin, oil and molasses.

Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients just until combined.  Pour batter into pan, smoothing out the top. Bake 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. 

Monday, October 24, 2011

Swiss Chard and Caramelized Onion Tacos

I have a great neighbor who generously shared her bounty of harvest from a day's work at a local farm.  The bag of freshly picked veggies included a full bunch of brightly colored rainbow kale.  I did a bit of searching and decided to make these tacos.  They were delicious!  Even using less red pepper, they were still too spicy for the gingersnaps, so beans and cheese went in their tortillas while my husband and I ate all of the chard and onion filling on our own.     

12 oz. bunch of Swiss chard, thick lower stems removed, rinsed well and sliced into 1/2-inch ribbons
1 1/2 Tbsp oil
2 large onions, tinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 cup broth, chicken or vegetable
warm corn tortillas
Queso Fresco or other fresh cheese such as feta or goat cheese
salsa (the original recipe suggested this one, but we thought they were good without any salsa)

To warm tortillas in oven (as opposed to microwave), preheat oven to 350.  Wrap stack of tortillas in tin foil.  Place on center rack for 15-20.  Meanwhile, make the filling:

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the onion then cook until golden brown, about 5-7 minutes.  To the onions, add the red pepper flakes and garlic.  Stir for about 20 seconds until youa re hit with the aroma of the garlic, then immediately add the brother, 1/2 tsp salt and the greens.  Adjust the heat to medium and cook until the greens are almost tender, about 5 minutes.  Adjust the heat to medium-high and cook until juices have reduced significantly.  Taste and add salt if you think it needs it.  Serve with the corn tortillas, crumbled fresh cheese and salsa.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Pull-Apart Cinnamon Pumpkin Bread

My first new pumpkin recipe of the season!  How did I wait this long?  I don't know.  But since I do love all things pumpkin, I've added a "pumpkin" tab on the right that I'll leave up for the season . . . . 

But wait.  Don't even check the other options yet because this is by far my favorite pumpkin recipe to date (this one being my favorite savory).  I had it on the menu for my husband's birthday week, but it's fairly time consuming and I never got around to it.  I almost just ditched the recipe all together.  But how can you ditch something that sounds so wonderful?  So I went for it.  I made it just because.  No one to share it with or serve it to.  Nothing extra special to celebrate.  Just a yummy treat for my family to enjoy.  And enjoy it, we did.  The whole thing, in fact.  In just two days.  Good thing I'm eating for two!  Let's just say that a pumpkin pie and a cinnamon roll hooked up.  They've got a good thing going on!  

The original recipe can be found here.  I made a few changes:

1/2 cup milk
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 1/2 cups bread flour

1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/8 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons milk
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla (you could also use 1/4 tsp rum)

Make the pull-apart bread dough

Grease and flour a loaf pan and set aside. 
In a saucepan over medium-high heat, brown the 2 tablespoons of butter: let it bubble and foam and when you see it start to brown, stir it so that it browns evenly. When it’s the color of dark honey, remove it from the heat and pour it into a large heat-safe mixer bowl to cool.  Be careful.  It can burn quickly if you're not watching. 
In the same saucepan, over medium-low heat, warm the milk until it bubbles. Remove it from the heat and pour it into the bowl with the butter. Stir gently, then let these cool until they’re about 100-110 degrees F (warm, but not hot). Set the saucepan aside for another use later; why do more dishes?

Stir the sugar and yeast into the milk/butter mixture and let it sit for a few minutes until things start getting foamy (it took mine about 5 minutes). Stir in pumpkin, salt, and 1 cup flour. If you haven’t already, fit your mixer with a dough hook (or just be prepared to knead with your hands). Add the rest of the flour 1/2 cup at a time, stirring between each addition. When the dough is combined, knead on low speed with a dough hook until smooth and elastic (about 4 minutes with a mixer - a little longer with hands).  If still sticky, add flour 1 Tbsp at a time.  I had to add about 1/4 cup more.

Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl and cover it with a damp cloth. Let it rise in a warm place for about an hour, or until it doubles in size.  It took mine two hours to double. (After it rises, you can put it in the fridge overnight to use it in the morning, but let it sit out for half an hour before rolling if you do.)

Make the filling: While the dough is rising, melt the 2 tablespoons of butter for the filling in the saucepan over medium-high heat and brown it as directed above.  Add the sugar, cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice together and mix well.  Set aside to use later.

Shape and bake pull-apart bread: Once dough has double, punch down and turn out onto a lightly floured surface.  Knead a sprinkling of flour (about 1 tablespoon) into the dough. Let it sit to relax for 5 minutes.  Roll it out to a 20 inch long and 12 inch wide rectangle, lifting corners periodically to make sure it’s not sticking. If it seems to be snapping back (which mine did constantly), cover it with your damp towel and let it rest for 5 minutes before continuing (I didn't actually do this, but probably should have because it took me forever to get the dough rolled and worked out).

Spread the browned butter filling mixture over the surface of the dough, patting it down to ensure it mostly sticks. Pile it on!

Cut the into 6 strips - the long way.  You want long, thin strips - not short, fat strips (do this by cutting the rectangle in half, then cutting each half into equal thirds. I used a pizza cutter). Stack the strips on top of one another and cut the resulting stack into 8 even portioned piles. Place these piles one at a time into your greased loaf pan, pressing them up against each other to fit them all in (see picture for a visual on how they should be placed in pan). Cover the pan with your damp cloth and place it in a warm place for 30-45 minutes to rise.

While dough rises, preheat oven to 350 degrees F (or 325 if you have a glass loaf dish instead of a metal pan). When it’s risen, place the loaf in the center of the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes until dark golden brown on top (if you take it out at light golden brown, it’s liable to be raw in the middle, so let it get good and dark). Cool for 20-30 minutes on a cooling rack in the loaf pan while you make the glaze.

Make the glaze: About five minutes before the loaf is done cooling, bring the butter, milk, and brown sugar to a boil over medium-high heat in your saucepan. Remove it from heat, add the powdered sugar and vanilla (or rum), and whisk it to a smooth consistency.

Assemble and serve: Use a butter knife to loosen all sides of the bread from the loaf pan and gently turn it out onto a plate. Place another plate on top and flip it to turn it right side up. Drizzle glaze over top. Serve each piece slightly warm with a drizzle of glaze.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Veggies and Cheese Pasta Bake

I was feeling inspired by this dish and this bread one night (both are definitely worth making if you haven't tried them already).  The result was fantastic!  You should give this a try with veggies that sound good to you.

4 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup water
2 Tbsp butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 pound pasta (I used a tiny version of bowtie I found called farfalline - random - but I'm sure any kind would work)
2-3 chicken breasts, cut into small chunks
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1 cup Monteray Jack cheese, cut into small cubes
Veggies -  I just used what I had on hand:
2 cups broccoli, cut into small chunks (I used the rest of the frozen bag from this recipe)
1/2 yellow squash, sliced into thin bite bits
I think mushrooms, and/or zucchini would work well also.

Fill bottom of 9x13 pyrex dish with pasta.  Evenly scatter chicken bites, vegetables, and cheese cubes on top.  Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

In a medium sized saucepan, bring chicken broth, water, butter, garlic, salt, and pepper to a boil.  Once boiling, remove from heat and carefully pour into prepared pyrex.

Bake, uncovered, in preheated oven at 400 for 40 minutes, or until most of liquid is absorbed and chicken is cooked through.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Sweet Potato Oranges

With fall in full swing and Thanksgiving just around the corner, I thought I'd share this recipe from my mother-in-law that she made for our meal of thanks last year.  She remembered her mother making something similar growing up, so I helped her track down a few recipes to work from and this was the result.  They were delicious and I'd say it will be hard not to make them again myself this year!    

  • 6 oranges 
  • 3 cups cooked, mashed sweet potatoes
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 2 eggs, lightly beatenve
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup butter, softened, divided
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange peel 
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • mini marshmallows, optional for topping

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

  • Prepare oranges by cutting each orange in half. Spoon out the flesh, leaving a shell.

  • In a large bowl combine sweet potatoes, sugar, orange juice, eggs, vanilla extract, 1/2 cup butter and grated orange peel. Spoon mixture into orange shells. Place in a deep casserole dish.

  • In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine remaining 1/2 cup butter, brown sugar, flour and pecans. Cook until sugar dissolves in melted butter. Spoon over oranges. Fill casserole dish with water about 1/4 inch deep.

  • Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes.  If you want to add the marshmallows on top, sprinkle a few on each orange at the very end and broil quickly.  They will cook fast and burn quickly if you're not careful, so keep an eye on them.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Chocolate Apple Squares

These were good, but not my favorite.  I think the raisin and chocolate combination weirded me out.  They do that a lot over here in England.  I'm still not quite used to it.  But it was still a yummy snack to have on hand for the week and the kids loved them.  I adapted the recipe from one my Nana gave me a long time ago.

1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup butter
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 small apple, peeled, cored finely chopped
1/2 cup raisins
3 oz. oats
1 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350.  Lightly grease an 8x8 square baking dish.

Combine both flours, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.  Set aside.  Beat sugar and butter until fluffy.  Gradually add flour mixture, alternating with applesauce, until blended.  Stir in rest of the ingredients.

Bake for 30-40 minutes.  Let cool.  Cut into squares.

Monday, October 10, 2011

No-Knead Focaccia Bread

This was so simple, and perfectly yummy for sandwiches!  We enjoyed roasted veggies with fresh basil and provolone.  I think the bread would also work great for a basic cheese pizza.  I noticed a big difference in how fresh the bread tasted at the end of the second day, but a little time in the toaster helped out.  I will definitely make this again!

1 cup whole wheat flour
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp yeast
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 cups water
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp Italian seasoning (or whatever you want, I used Penzeys pizza seasoning)
2 Tbsp corn meal

The night before, combine the flour, salt and yeast in a large pot or bowl. Stir until everything is evenly combined and then stir in the water. The result should be one cohesive, sticky, shaggy lump of dough. If there is still dry flour in the pot or everything isn't sticking together, add a little water at a time until it forms one ball. Loosely cover and let sit at room temperature until the next day (about 14 hours).

The next day the dough will be wet, fluffy and may even be bubbling from the fermentation. Using a spatula, scrape the dough from the sides of the pot or bowl and turn it in on itself a few times until it forms a ball in the center of the pot. 

Prepare a baking sheet with foil, non-stick spray and a generous sprinkle of corn meal. Dust your hands with flour and sprinkle a little on top of the dough to keep it from sticking to your hands. Transfer the dough to the baking sheet. Stretch and pat the dough out into a large rectangle. You may need to dust your hands with flour throughout this process to keep the dough from sticking. It will be very wet and sticky.

Drizzle olive oil over the surface of the dough and use a soft brush to spread it evenly over the surface. Sprinkle the Italian seasoning (or any type of herbs) over top. Let the dough rise for another hour.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Using your fingers, press dimples into the risen dough (see photos). Bake the focaccia for 20-25 minutes in the preheated oven or until the surface is golden brown. After removing from the oven, transfer the focaccia to a wire rack to cool. 

Friday, October 7, 2011

Curry Chicken in Basil Coconut Sauce

When I saw this recipe, I completely forgot that I had made something almost exactly the same a couple years ago!  Oops!  I decided to switch the order of words in the title and post it anyway, because the dish was super yummy and there are a few slight differences between the two. =)  But since I obviously didn't remember it the first time around, I can't tell you which one I like better!

3 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon chili powder
1 medium red onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely chopped (I only used one so it wouldn't be too much for the kids, but my husband and I would have enjoyed using both)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 14-ounce can light coconut milk
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger (I used several shakes of ground ginger
1 tablespoon dried basil

Cut chicken into 1-inch pieces. Place in medium bowl. Stir together curry, 1/2 teaspoon salt, pepper and chili powder. Sprinkle over chicken, tossing to coat evenly. Cover and chill for 1 to 2 hours.
In a large nonstick frying pan, stir onion, basil, garlic and peppers in hot oil over medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes, until onion is translucent. Add chicken and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook for 5-6 minutes until no longer pink.
Combine coconut milk and cornstarch and whisk well to combine. Carefully add to skillet, whisking vigorously. Cook and stir until slightly thickened and bubbly. Stir in ginger. Cook and stir for another minute. Serve over hot rice.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Bacon-Wrapped Chicken

I saw Jessie's post for this recipe and got excited to try it out (yet another way to utilize our sage bush).  Anything wrapped in bacon has to be good, right?!  It had surprisingly more flavor than I expected.  The sage was just enough to keep it fresh, but not overpowering in an "herby" kind of way.

8 fresh sage leaves
8 chicken tenders (about 1 1/4 pounds)
8 slices bacon
1/2 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil

Place a sage leaf on each chicken tender, then wrap each with a bacon slice. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high. Add tenders, sage side down, and cook until fat is rendered and bacon is browned, about 6 minutes. Flip and cook until tenders are cooked through, 6 minutes. With tongs, transfer to a wire rack set on a rimmed baking sheet to drain.

I ended up cooking about 20 chicken tenders.  On the bigger pieces of chicken, I used two leaves.  On the smaller pieces, I only used half a strip of bacon.  These don't make great leftovers (the bacon and sage get a bit soggy), so I'd say shoot for making what you think you'll eat in one sitting.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Broccoli Cheese Cornbread

If anyone you are serving likes this as much as my husband and I did, I would recommend making a double batch in a 9x13 dish!  I got the recipe from my Nana years ago and served it as a side with beans and ham.  Yummy!

1 box Jiffy cornbread mix
4 oz. frozen chopped broccoli, slightly thawed (I chopped mine even more, making the pieces fairly small)
4 oz. small curd cottage cheese
2 eggs
6 Tbsp. butter, softened so it's just beginning to melt
1/4 tsp. onion salt

Mix everything together well in a large bowl.  Pour into a lightly greased square dish.  Cook at 350 for 40-45 minutes.
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