12/30/08

3 Asiago Cream Sauce Chicken Bowtie Party!

Asiago Cream Sauce Chicken Bow Tie PastaI fell in love with bow tie pasta ever since I had Farfalle at Tucci's, a restaurant that closed last summer. It was simple...had mushrooms, spinach and pine nuts in a glorious lemon/alfredo cream sauce. I was really sad to see it go, but happy to see the Bowtie Festival dish at Johnny Carrinos.

This is a fun dish to make, as you can make it as simple or elegant as you want, with whatever you have on hand. Add some veggies. Or not. Use prosciutto. Or bacon. Spice it up with red pepper flakes. Or not. I don't have pine nuts on hand, as they are expensive and easy to burn while you are cooking. It is nice to have a little crunch in there...

You can cook your chicken any way you want it...I cooked mine covered for 6 minutes in the microwave and then sliced them thinly. Try grilling it. Also try cutting a semi-frozen chicken breast into thin slices and cooking them in with the bacon, onions, mushrooms and tomatoes.

I freeze my bacon and cut it across with kitchen shears to make thin slices. Then I cook it. It's much easier than cooking and crumbling the bacon.

Asiago Cream Sauce Chicken with Bowtie Pasta
(4x6 printable recipe) (full page recipe)

1-16 oz box of Farfalle pasta
2 T. vegetable oil
2 boneless chicken breasts, cooked and sliced
2 c. half and half
1 t. chicken base (McCormicks)
3/4 c. grated Asiago cheese
1 T. cornstarch
2 T. butter
1/4 c. chopped prosciutto or 8 slices of bacon, diced and cooked
1 garlic clove, pressed
1/2 medium red onion, diced
2 Roma tomatoes, diced
1/4 c. sliced mushrooms
Optional:
try spinach, broccoli, pine nuts

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Cook pasta for 12 minutes. Drain and set aside.
Heat 2 T. vegetable oil in a skillet and cook chicken cubes over medium-high heat until meat is not pink. Set aside.
In a medium saucepan, bring 2 c. half and half to a simmer, stirring often. Stir in chicken base and cheese until well blended. Dissolve cornstarch in a little bit of water and whisk into the cheese mixture. Cook until thick and bubbly; set aside.
Melt butter (or cook bacon and use its grease instead) in a skillet over medium heat. Stir in prosciutto, onion, mushrooms and tomatoes and cook until veggies are tender. Add garlic and cook for a minute or two.
Add cream sauce mixture to sauteed vegetables and bacon (or prosciutto).
Add chicken cubes or slices.
Add pasta and stir well till pasta is coated.
Serves 8 people...you will have a lot of leftovers!

12/20/08

4 Crackle, Crinkle, Chocolate Cookies

I got this recipe about 20 years ago when my husband was working in the hospital cafeteria. There, they had the BEST chocolate cookies...I couldn't get enough of them!

I finally asked for the recipe and I shouldn't have been surprised. It called for 48 eggs and 36 cups of flour! Duh! After dividing it a few times and making adjustments for not having baking chocolate on hand, this is what I came up with.


The recipe originally called for baking chocolate. I substituted cocoa and added butter and oil. I melt this over low heat and remove it when the butter is almost melted.






I put the sugar and eggs in my mixing bowl and cream thoroughly.





Then I sloooooowly pour the melted chocolate into the egg mixture (you don't want to cook the eggs) while the beater is going.




Oooooh....this is so smooth and creamy...I could eat it now.

Better not.

I mix in my flour that has baking powder and salt stirred in.  Don't dump the entire 3 cups in....you'll get sprayed with flour as soon as you turn on the mixer!




This is how your dough should look. It is a very thick, sticky dough. That is why we need to refrigerate it. I just scrape the dough down into the bowl and cover it with plastic wrap.
Walk away for at least an hour. Yes.  Walk away.  Now.




After your dough is chilled, I use my trusty 2T. cookie scoop and drop a shaped cookie into powdered sugar.

Here comes the messy part.
Get your kids involved....or grandkids....or the neighbor kids.




Use your hands to cover the dough with powdered sugar. I've tried everything else to avoid this....using forks, spoons, whatever. I always come back to using my hands. Oh, in case you're wondering, I use the bottom of my cookie sheets because it cooks more evenly...especially with a convection oven.



The cookies are done when the 'cracks' are dry and the tops spring back when touched. I let my cookies cool on the baking sheet...it helps the centers set.

Can I have one now?


Nope.

Gotta put it on a pretty good lookin' snowman.

Can I have one now?

Maybe just a bite...






This is so good.

Try this with a glass of milk.

Next time, I'm gonna put chunks of walnuts in them and eat them all by myself!
 
Happy Baking!

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies
(4x6 printable recipe) (full page recipe)


12/18/08

1 Golden Curried Chicken and Vegetables

Curry Chicken Vegetables RiceMy husband lived in Japan for a couple years and this is his favorite curried chicken. I have been using S&B's Golden Curry....until now. I like the mild version, whereas my husband loves the hot, sweat dripping down your face kind. I don't understand sweating while you are eating....

This recipe has nice chunks of carrots, potatoes and onions. It does need a touch of sweetness to balance out the heat of the curry, so add a chopped apple during the last five minutes of cooking. Or, if you prefer, drizzle a little bit of honey to taste at serving.

To get that golden brown color, add just a touch of McCormicks Caramel coloring. Doesn't change the taste. Just looks better. Looks just like the picture on the box of S&B's curry. It's not often that I make something that looks just like the picture on the box!



I put oil in the pan and get it hot. Then I add the curry powder, stirring for about 30 seconds. This enhances the flavor of the curry and infuses it into the oil.


I get all my vegetables ready. Chop, chop, chop away!

Then I put my onions in and saute or cook on medium heat for a minute or two. This is the point where it smells so good....
Put my chicken in...
And cook it until I don't see any pink. That looks so good!
Then make the chicken broth. This stuff is so much better than the cube or powder!
Dump the broth in, your carrots and potatoes, and add about 2 c. more water to cover the veggies. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes.
Uncover, then add your thickener: 2 T. + 1/4 c. cold water mixed together. Slowly pour over your mixture and stir until thick and bubbly. Serve over hot rice. Soooooo good!

Golden Curried Chicken
Adapted from Better Homes & Gardens
(4x6 printable recipe) (full page recipe)


12/17/08

0 Taco Delight

I am such a fan of fast, easy recipes! I was a working mom for 15 years and I know it can be a challenge to come home from work and start making dinner. You can make your own salsa, or use your own favorite bottled salsa.

I like this recipe because you can top it off with anything you want. For picky eaters, you can puree the salsa, so there's no 'chunks.' My kids loves smashing the chips on their plate before topping it with the taco mixture!



Taco Delight
(4x6 printable recipe) (full page recipe)

1 lb. ground beef
1 onion, chopped (can omit)
12 oz. salsa (1 1/2 c.)
1-8oz. can of tomato sauce
1 t. chicken bouillon (I like the McCormick's Chicken Base)
1 c. white rice
1/2 c. water
Sour cream
Lettuce
Cheddar Cheese
Guacamole
Tortilla chips




12/16/08

8 Rustic No Knead Bread

Rustic No Knead Bread
No knead bread. Sound too good to be true? Well, it is possible! This recipe comes from Jim Lahey at the Sullivan Street Bakery, published in the NY Times on Nov. 8, 2006.

*This photo was taken by my ever talented brother of Some Dude with a Camera...



Rustic No Knead Bread

I didn't get this recipe until recently. I thought, someday, I'll try this. Well, someday came very quickly when I went to Sam's Club with a friend.....








This beautiful, enameled cast iron pot began to speak to me. It's really dangerous when kitchen appliances start talking to me.

Look at me. Look how beautiful I am. I can cook, bake, anything you want. I can keep your foods warm for hours. I can cook candy without burning. I am only $35....

Stop! Sold! You're coming with me! Consider yourself an early birthday gift to me! I was in love. And motivated to bake this bread.

Note: You can use enamel, Pyrex or a ceramic casserole dish or removable crockpot insert (with glass lid) for this recipe.



No Knead Bread
(4x6 printable recipe) (full page recipe)






The first step is to combine your flour, yeast and salt in a bowl. It calls for instant yeast, but all I have is active dry. Let's see if it works. (update...instant yeast is the same as rapid rise. I tried it and it worked better...I got a higher rise to my bread. Remember instant yeast is only good for one rise)

You 'stir' everything together. Guess you can't call it 'kneading.'
You cover this baby and put it to bed on the counter.  Overnight. For 12-18 hours. Yep, I can sleep that long. Just ask anyone in my family.







Good morning! This is what your baby should look like. All nice and bubbly.

Lightly flour your work surface and dump the dough out. It just kinda slid out. I did use a bowl scraper and get every little bit out. I hate anything going to waste.
Sprinkle some more flour on top.

Fold the dough over on itself...once or twice. I used my handy bowl scraper (only 99 cents, folks) and used it to fold the left side up and over; then the right side up and over the top. Still....no kneading....

Cover loosely with plastic wrap and walk away for about 15 minutes.

This is a good time to find a cotton (not terry cloth) towel and GENEROUSLY dust it with flour. Note to myself. Give towel more flour. Lots more. Your dough will stick to the towel!

This was the hard part. The recipe said to gently and quickly shape the dough into a ball. This is where I HAD to restrain myself from kneading. I was soooo tempted. I used my trusty bowl scraper to help me transfer this baby to the floured towel. Covered it with the towel and walked away. Again. Get busy doing something else. For 2 hours.

Update:  I have found it easier to put the floured towel inside a bowl and put the dough on top of the floured towel, sprinkle with flour and lightly cover with plastic wrap.  Some people have found it easier to spray parchment paper, dust with cornmeal and let the dough rise in the parchment lined bowl.  All you have to do is lift the parchment and set it inside the dutch over to bake.  With a floured towel, you will need to invert the dough into the dutch oven.

Fast forward 4 hours. I had to pick up my son from school, get a gift for my friend, and deposit a check at the bank. Hey, life happens.

Still looks, o.k., doesn't it? Light, bubbly, ready for the pot!

O.K. I need to be honest. I put that beautiful pot in the cold oven and set it to 450 degrees. 15 minutes later, it was ready.

My heart was pounding. How am I going to 'plop' it into the hot pan? What happens if I drop it? Stop it, I told myself. Just do it. Like the Nike commercial. Just do it.

I picked up that towel, walked over to the oven, and inverted it. It fell. Into the pot. Then, to my horror, the last little bit stuck to the towel.

What to do?
What to do?
Gotta do something!

I just peeled that sticky dough and stuck it back on the top. Remember, I can't let anything go to waste. I covered the pot and waited. Worried and waited. For 30 minutes.

When 30 minutes were up, I uncovered the pot and took a peek.
Not brown, but looks o.k.

I let it cook uncovered for 15 minutes and this is what I found...

Doesn't that look beautiful? Rustic.

See that little swirly thing on top?

That was the extra stuck dough that I rescued from the towel.

Let's take a look inside....hot steamy, full of airy holes. I couldn't wait to take a bite.

Yep. I would definitely make this again.

And I'll be more generous with the flour on the towel. I promise.







12/15/08

2 Lovin' Lisa's Doughnuts!

Doughnuts. Donuts. I'm not sure how to spell them, but these are heavenly! Light, luscious, lovely, with a hint of lemon best describes these sweet treats.

I wanted Lisa's recipe and gladly exchanged them for my General Tsao's chicken recipe. I am so glad I did!

I am not sure about the exact directions...she said to mix it in a Bosch like I was making bread. I do not have a Bosch. I really wish I had a Bosch. Then I could make millions of doughnuts. So, I had to halve this recipe to fit it in my classic Kitchen Aid mixer.

Well, Lisa, here goes!

Lisa's Doughnuts
(4x6 printable recipe) (full page recipe)




I measured 1 c. mashed potatoes. I put 2 c. milk with 1/2 c. shortening and semi-melted it in the microwave. Then I added 1/2 c. sugar to the mix.




It kinda looks lumpy. It's the shortening. Didn't get all the way melted. Next time, I'll cream the sugar and shortening together, then add the eggs and milk/shortening mixture. The recipe called for 5 eggs. How do I cut 5 eggs in half? I don't know. I just put in 3 eggs, one at a time









Then I put in the vanilla and lemon extracts. The real deal. Smelled so good!




In a separate bowl, mix in 2 c. flour, salt, and yeast. I even added 1 T. vital wheat gluten. Helps me handle the dough better!





This is what is ended up looking like. Okay, so far, I guess!

Stir that into your wet mixture and blend it good. Now, step away for a good 15 minutes to sponge the dough.




Now, half the recipe is 6-7 1/2 c. flour. This is what it looked like after 6 cups.




This doesn't look ready.



Let's add some more flour.




This is more like it!

Touch the dough lightly with your fingers. If it's too sticky and leaves a bunch of dough on your fingers, it's not ready.


 This looks good.
 




I used probably 6 3/4 c. flour total.







Now, scrape the dough hook and the sides of your bowl. Spray the top lightly with oil spray. I love my oil mister. Cover it with plastic wrap and leave it in a nice warm (85 degree) place for 30-45 minutes.


This is what it looks like....ooooh...nice and puffy...Gotta stick my fingers in it...
Remember, you want it to double in size....







Here I go...sticking my fingers to see if my dough is ready...






Looks like it is! When the "dents" stay in, your dough is doubled in size.


Lightly flour your surface and roll out the dough to 1/2" thickness.
Yes. I actually measured this time.



This is important. Dunk that doughnut cutter into the flour before you start cutting. I got a little excited and forgot. The cutter stuck to the dough.
Flour the cutter each and every time!



Oh, and re-roll your scraps,







cover with plastic wrap and let it rest for 5 minutes before rolling out. Resting the dough makes it easier to roll it out!




Gently put the newly cut doughnut on some parchment paper. Or wax paper. Cover the doughnuts with plastic wrap and let rise till double in size...about 30 minutes.




Puffy doughnut, ready to fry...




Prepare your oil to 365-375 degrees. Fry each side for about a minute, turning over carefully with a slotted spoon or fork.





Drain on paper towels. They're looking good!

Now, prepare your glaze.


I used 2 1/2 c. powdered sugar, 3 T. water, 1 T. butter, 1/4 t. vanilla, 1/4 t. lemon extract, and 5 T. water. I guess you can use milk instead of water. I'm just making this up. Seriously!







Dunk the doughnuts in the glaze and turn over. Stick a fork or handle of wooden spoon through the doughnut hole. Pull doughnut out of the glaze and allow excess glaze to drip off. Set the doughnut on a wire rack with something, paper towels, parchment paper, to catch the drips.



Now, I gotta break this open to see if it is "doughy" inside.

ooooh.....be still my beating heart!
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