Friday, January 1, 2010

Sweet rolls

I admit it... I am seriously addicted to food blog browsing. This morning I was reading Baking and Boys and came across her sweet roll recipes. I know that I shouldn't be thinking about making these since I have been trying to lose weight (NO not a New Year's resolution... it's been going on for the past 5 months :-( ) So I decided I would make a half of a batch and I asked Nathan which he would prefer... cinnamon rolls or cherry rolls. He said he wanted the cinnamon rolls and yes put in the raisins and walnuts not pecans. So I was happy to oblige! In my not paying attention as I was measuring, I added the full recipe worth of sugar to the 1/2 recipe worth of water. So at that point I decided to make both versions of the recipe. (I know 6 T of sugar isn't much... I could have started over, but it doesn't take much to nudge me into making more!) My MIL happened to call as I was just starting these... so I know where I will be heading this afternoon with some sweet rolls to share :-) I love trying new recipes and cross my fingers that they turn out. I usually stick to the recipe exactly as it is written the first time I make it, so I know how it is supposed to turn out. Well I wanted to "try" to make these a tad healthier, so I switched it up already! I used fresh ground hard white wheat, instead of the AP flour. In my favorite bread recipe (posted previously) I use vital wheat gluten to lighten the dough. I decided to throw in some fresh ground flax seeds to amp up the nutritional value as well. The original recipe calls for 1 1/2 eggs (2 T beaten eggs = 1/2 egg) I happen to have several varieties of chickens and our Frizzle lays tiny eggs... so that was my half egg! Isn't it cute ;-) The kids LOVED both versions of these. Nathan has gone target practicing and hasn't returned to try them, but I'm pretty sure he'll put his stamp of approval on these as well! (BTW.... If I had tried these... I would declared the cherry as my favorite ;-) With the cream cheese frosting these taste like cherry danishes)

Sweet Roll Dough

1 3/4 warm water
6 T sugar
3 T active dry yeast
1/2 C vegetable oil
1/2 T salt
5-6 C hard white wheat flour
1 1/2 eggs, beaten
3/4 oz (2 T) flax seeds, ground
1 oz (1/4 C) vital wheat gluten

for Cinnamon rolls:

1/4 C butter
Cinnamon Sugar (be heavy handed!)
Raisins (until it looks good!)
Walnuts (again... until it looks good!)

for Cherry Rolls:

1/2 (of a 21 oz can) cherry pie filling
1/2 tsp almond extract (or 1 T almond liquor)
(pulse together in a food processor to break up the cherries)
1/4 C butter

for the glaze:

2 oz cream cheese, softened
3 T butter, softened
1 1/2 C powdered sugar
1/2 tsp almond extract (or 1 tsp almond liquor)
Beat with a hand mixer until smooth. Spoon into a baggie with one corner snipped off and squeeze onto sweet rolls. If you put them on immediately, they will melt a bit, but you may not want to wait before digging in!

In a mixing bowl combine water, yeast, sugar and oil. Let sit until frothy. Add in the remaining ingredients (flour 1 C at a time). You know when you have added enough flour when the dough cleans the side of the mixing bowl. Knead for about 5 minutes. The dough will be slightly tacky, don't add too much flour, or you will have tough rolls. Divide the dough in half (wrap the half you aren't using in plastic wrap to keep it from drying out. Roll out into a rectangle 1/4" thick. (roughly 12X8) spread the dough with butter (leaving the far long edge free from toppings at least 3/4" wide) Sprinkle liberally with cinnamon sugar and top with raisins and chopped walnuts. Roll up from the long end closest to you and pinch seam closed. Make evenly spaced markings as a guide to cut into 12 even pieces. Use a long piece of unflavored dental floss to cut the rolls. Slide the floss under the log to the mark you've made. Cross the ends and pull to cut through the dough... no more squished sides! Arrange on one half of a lined jelly roll pan, cut side up and cover with plastic wrap while prepping the second half of the rolls. I put these in my cold garage to keep them from raising too fast.

For the cherry rolls

Roll out dough the same and spread on the butter. Lightly spread the cherry filling on the butter. As you roll up the dough, it will push it out if you spread it heavily. If you wind up with a lot getting squeezed out, spoon it off the dough and save it for the top. If you get any sauce on the outer un-buttered edge of the rolls, the end won't stick. Not the end of the world, they just may not stay rolled up as tight. Cut into 12 rolls using the same dental floss technique. Arrange on the other half of the jelly roll pan. Spoon any remaining pureed cherry filling over the top of the rolls. Let the rolls rest at room temp while you preheat the oven to 350*. When oven is ready, bake for 30 minutes or until rolls are done. Frost with cream cheese frosting and enjoy!

seven layer dip

Another super simple, hardly needs a recipe for, but satisfying appetizer! This seven layer dip is probably Nathan's favorite appetizer. My Grandma uses this to bribe him, (although it doesn't always work) Skylar requested this for his 18th birthday. He didn't care what cake he got... just HAD to have this dip!

In a 9X13 pan layer the following in order (a glass pan makes for a pretty presentation)
1 (30 oz) can refried beans
1 1/2 C guacamole
1 1/2 C sour cream mixed with 1 (1.25 oz) packet of taco seasoning mix
1 1/2 C (more or less) of shredded cheese
1 (6 oz) can black olives, drained and sliced or chopped (I use my egg slicer for quick work)
3 green onions (more or less) sliced thinly (including tops)
3 roma tomatoes (more or less) chopped

This can be served immediately or covered and chilled for serving later. I have to tattle on my husband's nephew in law ;-) He is from Baaaston (spoken with a heavy accent :-) He had never had this dip before moving to Utah. He was at a company party a year or so ago (maybe longer). He didn't know this was a dip to be eaten with chips. He ate a bunch with a Steve.... this one's for you ;-)

BBQ Lil Smokies

Happy New Year's everyone! May you be wiser, healthier, love greater, and be more prosperous in 2010! For New Year's Eve, I wanted to make simple, but satisfying appetizers. I had spent all day cleaning, I didn't want to mess up all my work with elaborate dishes! This recipe was brought to my New Year's Eve party a couple of years ago and has now become a favorite of my family's. Super simple... there really isn't a recipe for it! Take a package of Lil Smokies (or two or three or.....) and top with your favorite BBQ sauce. Squirt on as much or as little as you like. I used three (14 oz) packages of Smokies and about 12 oz of BBQ sauce. This can be kept warm in a crock pot or on the lowest setting on your stove. My husband has been known to make a lunch out of a whole package of these!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Beef Stew

This is a hearty and delicious stew. We typically get 1 wild game per year (last year we had 3!). This is my favorite dish to use with wild game because with all the flavors, you cannot detect any "game" flavor. I typically double this recipe and for a family of 5 will easily serve 2 meals with a tad left over. I like my sauce more "stew-y than soup-y, so I only add juice from one can of vegetables (looking to see which one has less sodium). If you like it a little thinner, go with both cans. I know some people may not like cooking with alcohol. With as long as this is simmered, all the alcohol gets cooked out. It just adds a dimension to the flavor. If you don't have the bourbon, you could probably substitute it with red wine, and if you'd rather not use any alcohol at all, it IS totally optional. My husband does not drink, but he cannot tell it is in this dish. Russets or red potatoes can be used interchangeably. We like to use the reds. Whichever you choose, please DO leave the skin on. This is a hearty recipe, besides most if the nutrition in the potato is in the skin! Feel free to add more potatoes, I never measure the amount, just keep tossing them in until it looks good! Each time you stir the pot after you have added the potatoes, just remember to poke the potatoes back into the liquid so they get cooked!

2 T olive oil, more as needed

3 lbs beef (or wild game!) cut in 1" cubes

Montreal Steak Seasoning (or salt, pepper, garlic powder) to taste

1 bell pepper, diced

1 medium onion, diced

3 stalks celery, diced

1/2 C bourbon, optional

1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes

3 C beef stock

1 can corn

1 can green beans

2 C diced potatoes

Cube the meat and season liberally. Brown the meat in the oil in a large stockpot, in several batches as necessary. Add more oil to pan for subsequent batches if necessary. When browned, remove meat with a slotted spoon, leaving drippings behind. Toss in bell pepper, onion and celery and saute until slightly tender. Stir in bourbon (if using) and add the meat, tomatoes and beef stock. Bring to a boil and then simmer, covered, for 2 hours. Add in corn, green beans and potatoes and cook, stirring periodically until the potatoes are tender (20-30 minutes)

Breakfast Enchiladas

I wanted to make something savory for my family today for breakfast. They have gotten so many sweet things this last couple of weeks, they didn't need any more of that for breakfast again. Now don't get me wrong... just because these aren't sweet doesn't mean these are low calorie! I used link sausage (that's what I had) that I snipped into 1/4" rounds, but you could use bulk sausage and make it easier! I measured the milk into my pyrex measuring cup and nuked it for a minute. I find that if you add warmed liquid to your roux, it blends in much faster and it doesn't seize up like an engine out of grease! I used a mexican blend preshredded cheese (don't tell Nathan... he hates the preshredded stuff ;-) but it was on sale and SOOOO convenient!), feel free to use whatever cheese you want! Everyone really enjoyed this dish, I will be making it again, but be forwarned it isn't something you whip up in 10 minutes!

Breakfast Casserole

20 corn tortillas

1 lb sausage

1 dozen eggs

1/2 C water

1/3 C butter

1/3 C flour

2 C milk, warmed

1 tsp salt

1 (7 oz) can diced green chilies

3 C mexican blend cheese, divided

1 1/2 - 2 cups of milk

Brown your sausage and in a separate saucepan make your roux. Melt the butter, add the flour and whisk for a couple of minutes to cook the raw taste out of the flour. Add the milk and salt and whisk until smooth. Stir in the green chilies and 2 cups of cheese. When the sausage is browned, remove from pan and drain drippings. Whisk your eggs and water and scramble them until they are cooked but still a little wet. Add 1 C of the roux, and the sausage and mix well. Thin the roux down with the additional milk until it is the consistency you want to pour over the enchiladas. Warm the corn tortillas on a non stick pan or griddle. Place a spoonful of the egg mixture down the middle and roll up. Place seam side down on a lined jelly roll pan (for easy clean up!) Make 2 rows of 10. Pour remaining sauce over enchiladas and sprinkle with remaining cup of cheese. Bake at 350* for 30 minutes

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Broiled Pesto Salmon

This is the easiest way to cook salmon (and yummy too!) My family requests salmon prepared this way every time I make salmon. Measurements are approximate. Depends on the size of your fillet. I just use enough pesto to get a nice even thin coat on the fish. I highly recommend you use aluminum foil on your baking pan (I use a jelly roll pan) for easy clean up. The foil isn't quite as wide as my pan, so I create "sides" by folding the aluminum foil up on the long sides. The wine isn't absolutely necessary, but adds more depth to the flavor. I LOVE my lemon juicer. You cut the lemon in half, place it cut side down into the bowl shaped side and squeeze the handles! It practically turns the lemon inside out and gets more juice out than any other method I've used. Homemade Pesto is FABULOUS, but Costco makes a real good one too!

Broiled Pesto Salmon

2 lb Salmon fillet
1/2 C white wine (or blush, or whatever you have on hand... but not red!)
1 lemon, juiced
1 1/2 C pesto sauce

Place salmon, skin side down on foil lined baking dish. Sprinkle with wine and lemon juice. Let marinate 15 minutes. Spoon on pesto and spread it evenly over the top of the whole fillet. Place fish on second from top level of the oven and broil 8-10 minutes per inch of thickness. Flesh should be opaque and flake easily. Squeeze more lemon juice over fish if desired.

Blender Wheat Berry Pancakes

So you've bought wheat for your food storage "just in case", but haven't shelled out the big bucks for a grinder.... what do you do with that wheat! Make Blender Pancakes! I had heard about these but had never tried them before. I thought they would still have chewy bits of wheat that didn't get chopped fine enough. Well, was I ever wrong! This batter turns out quite thin, and didn't make real fluffy pancakes, (don't get me wrong, they weren't dense!) but the flavor was real nice. The most convenient thing was, you could pour the batter right from the blender! It makes a small batch, so you could either make two batches, or do as we did and serve it with bacon and fresh fruit!

Blender Wheat Berry Pancakes

1 C wheat berries

1 1/2 C milk, divided

2 eggs

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 C oil

1 T Baking powder

2 T sugar

Blend wheat berries and 1 C milk for 3 minutes. Pour in remaining 1/2 C milk and blend an additional 2 minutes. Combine dry ingredients and with blender running, pour in oil and dry ingredients. Blend just until smooth and pour onto hot griddle. Flip when bubbles start to pop on top.

Glazed Pork Tenderloin

The grocery store had pork tenderloins on sale for 1.99 a lb. Since they are only about a pound a piece, this translated into a CHEAP dinner! I bought all they had at that price (discounted because they were a best buy before 3 days was up) They are already packaged in the heavy duty airtight plastic packaging, so in the freezer they go! I made a TON of apricot preserves a couple of years ago and still have quite a bit left. I used that in this glaze, but feel free to substitute peach (or any other flavor for that matter!) I used my digital thermometer for the oven work, if you don't have one, you may want to do a test cut after the allotted time.

Glazed Pork Tenderloin

2 T olive oil
2 pork tenderloins
seasoning to taste ( I used a Chicago Steak seasoning)
1 C apricot preserves
2 T balsamic vinegar
2 T horseradish mustard (feel free to use any sort of spicy mustard here... or even plain)
2 T brown sugar

Heat olive oil in an oven proof skillet over medium heat. Season the pork as you may like. Sear on all sides, about 6-8 minutes total. Place in a 350* oven with a thermometer in the thickest part of the meat. Combine remaining ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and set aside. Roast the pork for 12 minutes, brush generously with the glaze mixture, then continue roasting 5-10 minutes longer, or until the pork registers 165*. Let the meat rest for a few minutes then slice into thin medallions. Serve with the remaining glaze.

Gingerbread Popcorn

I found this recipe from Culinary in the Desert This popcorn is ADDICTIVE! I love that it is crunchy and not sticky. It does take a bit longer to make than chewy popcorn, but so worth it in the end that you don't have to wash your paws after every handful (unless you like finger lickin foods!) The ginger flavor is not an in your face flavor, but just gives a bit of heat to the popcorn. I like this more than the regular caramel baked popcorn. I use silicone liners in my jelly roll pans to speed the clean up time. I used my air popper and it took two batches of that to equal the 15 cups (about 2/3 C kernals) You could use microwave popcorn, but airpopped saves a bit on the calories (allowing you to eat a couple more handfuls!) The sauce covered the popcorn very well... you could use more popcorn, but may have trouble fitting more than that on your baking pans in the oven.

Gingerbread Popcorn

15 C popped popcorn (about 2/3 C kernals)
1 C butter
2 C packed brown sugar
1/4 C molasses
1/4 C corn syrup
1 T ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda

Place popcorn in a large greased bowl. Combine butter, brown sugar, molasses, corn syrup, ginger, cinnamon and salt in a large heavy bottom saucepan (nonstick works great for this!) Heat over medium heat until mixture boils. Boil for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and add baking soda. Pour over popcorn immediately and stir to coat evenly. Divide between two pans lined with silicone liners or aluminum foil coated with cooking spray. Bake at 250* for 60 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. Cool completely to set the glaze.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

French Toast Casserole

Who wants to spend Christmas morning cooking breakfast? Not I! I want to relish in the morning watching the kids play with their new toys (and the adults too!) I have made this casserole for more years than I can remember. It is assembled the night before. Then in the morning, after a brief stint on the counter is popped into the oven and while presents are being opened, breakfast is cooking itself! This year I did fry up some sausage links to go with it. I have made this with bulk sausage and added it into the casserole before the second layer of bread goes on. I have a shaker of cinnamon sugar that I keep on hand anytime someone wants some cinnamon toast. I don't really know how much of it I really use... just eyeball it and when it looks good to you it will be good!

French Toast Casserole

1 loaf french bread cut in 1" cubes
8 eggs
3 C milk
4 tsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 tsp salt
4 T butter, melted
6 T sugar
2 tsp cinnamon

In a blender, combine eggs, milk, 4 tsp sugar, vanilla and salt. Mix 6 T sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Spread 1/2 of the bread cubes in a greased 9X13 pan. Sprinkle with half of the cinnamon sugar. Place remaining bread cubes in pan and evenly pour on egg mixture. You may want to press down any dry pieces of bread so everything is evenly moistened. Cover with aluminum foil and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight. Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Sprinkle on remaining cinnamon sugar and drizzle with butter. Cover and bake at 350* for 45-50 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Serve with Maple Syrup