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Sunday, November 30, 2008

Creamy Mashed Potatoes

Every time I make these mashed potatoes, I am surprised at how delicious they are! These are my go to for Thanksgiving. I typically make them ahead of time and and then bake them right before serving.


Ingredients:
5 pounds Russet or Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) butter, plus slightly more
1 8 oz package cream cheese, softened
1/2 to 3/4 cup half and half
1/2 to 1 tsp Lawry's seasoning salt
1/2 to 1 tsp black pepper

Directions:
Peel and cut the potatoes into pieces that are generally the same size. Bring a large pot of water to a simmer and add the potatoes. Bring to a boil and cook for 20-30 minutes. When they're cooked through, the fork should easily slide into the potatoes with no resistence and the potatoes should almost, but not totally, fall apart.

Drain the potatoes in a large colander. When the potatoes have finished draining, place them back into the dry pot and put the pot on the stove. Mash the potatoes over low heat, allowing all the steam to escape, before adding in the other ingredients.

Turn off the stove and add the butter, cream cheese and 1/2 cup of half and half. Mash to combine. Add the seasoning salt and pepper to taste. Add more half and half, if needed.

Stir well and place the potatoes in a medium sized baking dish. Top it off with a few pats of butter. (If making in advance, you can refrigerate the potatoes at this point and remove them 1 to 2 hours before cooking). Bake at 350 and heat until butter is melted and potatoes are warmed through, about 20-30 minutes. I like to sprinkle them with a bit of paprika before baking to give them some color.

Recipe from the Pioneer Woman

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Dinner Rolls

These dinner rolls are delicious and I make them every year for Thanksgiving. The recipe makes a ton but they freeze well. We usually freeze and use the leftovers at Christmas.


Ingredients:
9 cups flour
1 cup sugar
4 cups milk
1 heaping tsp baking powder
1 scant tsp baking soda
1 cup vegetable oil
2 tbsp salt
2 pkgs (4 1/2 tsp active dry yeast)

Directions:
Pour 4 cups of milk into a stock pot or dutch oven. Add 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of vegetable oil. Stir to combine. Now, turn the burner on medium to medium-low heat and "scald" the mixture. This means heating it until just before boiling point. Right before the mixture boils, turn off the heat. Allow mixture to cool to warm/lukewarm (between 90 and 110). This took mine about an hour and a half.

When the mixture is the right temperature add in 4 cups of flour and 2 pkgs of active dry yeast. Stir together until incorporated. Add another 4 cups of flour. Stir together and allow to sit, covered with a tea towel or lid, for an hour. After about an hour it should have almost doubled in size. If it hasn't changed much, put it in a warm (but turned-off) oven for 45 minutes or so. When it has risen sufficiently add 1 more cup of flour, the baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir (or knead just a bit) until combined.

If you are making the dough ahead of time, you can store overnight in the refrigerator. Take out the dough 2-3 hours before baking.

Butter 2 muffin pans. Form the rolls by pinching off a walnut sized piece of dough and rolling it into a little ball. Repeat and tuck three balls of dough into each buttered muffin cup. Continue until pans are full. Cover and allow to rise 1 to 2 hours.

Top each muffin with melted butter. Bake at 400 until golden brown, about 17-20 minutes.

Recipe by the Pioneer Woman

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Stuffing

Time to post my Thanksgiving recipes. I know it is super helpful after the holiday but these all turned out great and were fairly easy to make.


Stuffing

Ingredients:
1 loaf cornbread (recipe below)
1 loaf crusty French bread
1 medium onion, diced
4 cups low sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
2 cups celery, chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 tsp dried basil
2-3 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped
1/2 tsp dried thyme

Directions:
First chop the cornbread and loaf of french bread up into 1 inch cubes, spread them out on two baking sheets and let them dry for approximately 24 hours. I set them out for 24 hours but then also popped them in a warm oven for 30 minutes to make them more crispy.

Warm up a large skillet over medium heat and add one stick of butter. When the butter is melted add the onion and celery and cook for a few minutes until onions are almost translucent. While it's cooking chop up any fresh herbs you will be using.

Add 4 cups of chicken broth and bring to a boil. Add basil, thyme, rosemary and parsley. Stir until combined.

Place all of your dried bread cubes into a large bowl and mix them up a bit. Gradually ladle the broth mixture into the bread into the bread, tossing lightly as you go. Keep gradually adding the broth mixture, tasting as you go and adding more seasonings and herbs if needed. Add salt carefully, you don't want to oversalt your stuffing (I ended up using very little salt). If the mixture is not quite moist enough add a bit more chicken broth and stir.

Either stuff the bird and bake accordingly or place in a baking dish and bake at 35o for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown on top. I did the latter and baked around 30 minutes.

Cornbread

Ingredients:1 cup yellow corn meal
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup milk
1 egg
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup, plus 2 tbsp shortening

Directions:
Preheat oven to 450. Heat shortening in an iron skillet, muffin pan, or other paking pan (I used a 9x13 pan). Combine corn meal, flour and salt in mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, combine buttermilk, milk and egg. Add baking powder and baking soda, stir. Add 1/4 cup melted shortening, stirring constantly. Pour into hot pan, smoothing surface with spatula. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown on top.


Recipes by the Pioneer Woman.

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Grilled Brie and Apple Sandwiches

Seriously, how could you do better than this? This is a Weight Watchers recipe that is super easy and delicious, I make it every year as soon as I see apple cider in the grocery store! This sandwich would be great made with a panini maker. Add it my wish list!


Ingredients:
1/2 medium onion, Vidalia or other sweet onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup apple cider or apple juice
4 medium slices of sourdough bread
1 small Granny Smith apple, thinly sliced
2 oz. of brie cheese, thinly sliced

Directions:

Spray a large nostick skillet with cooking spray. Place pan over medium-high heat and add onions. Saute until soft and golden brown, adding cider as needed to prevent burning.

Lay 2 slices of bread on a clean surface and divide apple slices, brie and carmelized onions among them. Cover each with a second piece of bread.

Spray skillet again and set over medium heat. Grill sandwiches until cheese melts and bread browns. Cut in halves and serve hot.

Servings: 2
Points value: 6

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Updated Look

I am trying to find a good look for my blog. I made this header, I think it's kind of cute. I like that it emphasizes Gunny's freakishly long neck, and the fact that Matty is yawning like a lion. I'm still playing around with backgrounds. Feedback is always helpful. Hint, hint.

Anyway, as for cooking this week, I am not doing much other than Thanksgiving dishes. Tonight I'm making Grilled Apple and Brie sandwiches for Amanda and my weekly dinner. I wanted something super easy, I'll post later.

The rest of this week I will be making dinner rolls, mashed potatoes, and stuffing. Stay tuned for recipes!

Next week, I will be back to more "normal" meals, promise!

XOXO (I missed Gossip Girl last night... I need my teen drama fix)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Grilled Beer-Cheese Sandwiches

This recipe is from Southern Living and uses Beer-Cheese Spread to make the sandwiches. The recipe makes a lot but you can use the cheese on crackers, as a dip, with fries, chili or hot dogs. The recipe says it can be frozen for up to a month which is what I plan on doing. Next time I have friends over I'll just thaw it out and serve it as a snack.

It tasted great in the grilled cheese but I do not recommend using Weight Watchers bread (which is all I had on hand). The WW bread completely fell apart and didn't hold up against the runniness of the cheese. It would be fantastic on nice, thick bread or maybe a sourdough. Also, I didn't get a change to chill for two hours before making it so that probably didn't help. Do yourself a favor, use good bread!

Beer-Cheese Spread

Ingredients:
1 (2 lb) block sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded (yes, this is a lot of cheese)
1 small onion, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp hot sauce (of course, I added more)!
1/4 tsp ground red pepper (I used cayenne)
1 (12 oz) bottle amber beer, at room temperature (used Newcastle)
Salt and pepper to taste
Garnish with thyme sprig

Directions:
Beat together first 5 ingredients with a heavy-duty electric stand mixer until blended. Gradually add beer, beating until blended after each addition. Beat at medium-high speed for 1 minute or until blended and creamy. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and chill 2 hours. Can be stored in an airtight container in refrigerator up to 2 weeks.
Makes 5 cups.

I know you all know how to make a grilled cheese sandwich. Butter that bread up, spread on some of the beer cheese and cook it up nice! Serve with the Sherried Tomato Soup that I posted below.


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Sherried Tomato Soup

I love soup in the winter! Nothing is better then tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. This time I decided to make a "grown up" version by adding alcohol to both. Actually, that is how it worked out, but anyway... on to the soup recipe.


Sherried Tomato Soup

Ingredients:
6 tbsp butter (I used low fat)
1 medium onion, diced
1 46 oz bottle or can tomato juice
28 oz can diced tomatoes (or 3 1/2-4 cups fresh, diced tomatoes)
1-3 tbsp chicken base (I used one)
3-6 tbsp sugar
Pinch of salt
Lots of ground black pepper
1 cup cooking sherry
1 1/2 cups heavy cream (I used half and half)
chopped fresh parsley
chopped fresh basil
(I subbed 2 tbsp dried parsley and 1 tbsp dried basil)

Directions:Melt butter in a stockpot. Saute onions until translucent. Add tomatoes, tomato juice, chicken base, sugar, salt and pepper, mixing well. Bring to just a boil then turn off heat.

Stir in sherry and cream. Add parsley and basil to taste.

The soup turned out very nice and fresh tasting, not too rich or heavy (although I did omit the heavy cream). It was perfect with the grilled cheese sandwiches.

This recipe is from the amazing Pioneer Woman!

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Monday, November 17, 2008

Baked Pasta with Sausage, Tomatoes and Cheese

= yum. This was delicious, especially for a "light" meal. Casey and I both loved it and it was easy to make! Recipe from Cooking Light (with a few minor changes). If you like your pasta to be extra saucy, consider adding another can of diced tomatoes. Serve with garlic bread and a side salad for a great meal.

Update 10/27/10: I made this again and it is still a wonderful meal. Quite filling and makes great leftovers!


Ingredients:
1 (1 lb) package uncooked ziti (or similar pasta, I only had rotini on hand)
1 lb hot Italian turkey sausage links
1 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp tomato paste (I used a lot more than this, about 3/4 of an 6 oz can)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tbsp oregano
2 (14.5 oz) cans petite diced tomatoes, undrained
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
Cooking spray
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (I used mostly fresh mozzarella which turned out fabulous)
1 cup grated fresh parmesan

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350. Coat a 4 quart casserole dish with cooking spray and set aside.

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain the pasta and return to pan.
Remove casings from sausage. Cook sausage, onion, and garlic in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until browned, stirring to crumble. Add tomato paste, salt, pepper, oregano, and tomatoes, and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Combine cooked pasta, sausage mixture, and basil. Place half of the pasta mixture in the casserole dish coated with cooking spray. Top with half of the mozzarella and parmesan. Repeat layers. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes or until bubbly.

Serving Size: 1.5 cups
Calories: 413
Points: 8



Linked to Tasty Tuesdays at For the Love of Blogs and Mangoes and Chutney Fat Camp Friday.

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Friday, November 14, 2008

Crack Dips 1 and 2

Warning: once you know these recipes you may be tempted to make them as comfort food and eat the entire batch with a spoon. Not that I have ever done that. But I could, and I would. Casey and I have been known to polish off an entire Crack Dip 1 between the two of us for dinner.

Crack Dip 1 - Fiesta Dip
(also known just as "dip" in certain circles)
I must thank my good friend Amy for teaching me this scrumptious dip recipe.

Ingredients:
1 package Jimmy Dean sausage (if you want to be good, get Jimmy Dean Lean sausage, if you want to be bad - like me - go for Jimmy Dean's HOT sausage)
16 oz. cream cheese (I go for the reduced fat, still tastes great but I feel a little better about myself. Don't get fat free, the consistency isn't the same)
1 can Ro-Tel (diced tomatoes and peppers)
Hot sauce (to taste, I like Cholula)
Cilantro, about 1/4 cup chopped

Directions:
Cook sausage in a large sauce pan until completely done. Drain sausage (see, I'm redeeming myself some). Add cream cheese, tomatoes and peppers and mix to heat through. Add hot sauce, the more the merrier! Stir in cilantro. Devour. Use spoon or chips, whatever you can get your hands on.

This dip's looks don't do it justice. If you are bringing it to a party I'd recommend topping it with some diced tomatoes and sprigs of cilantro.


Crack Dip 2 -Buffalo Chicken Dip
This is known as crack dip on The Nest. Since I already had a crack dip, this one became Crack Dip 2. It is also infamous.

Ingredients:
2-4 breasts of chicken, cooked and shredded (if you are lazy, buy the pre-cooked Perdue chicken strips and shred it yourself, use 2 packages)
8 oz crumbled blue cheese (or slightly less, add one package, taste, then add more)
8 oz bottle ranch dressing
8 oz cream cheese (again, I like reduced fat)
8 oz Franks hot sauce
1 cup cheddar cheese

Directions:
Mix all ingredients together and heat on the stove or in a crockpot. Serve with celery or blue corn chips. Enjoy. Fight your friends off for the last bite.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Winter Salad with Candied Pecans

Casey loves candied pecans. He requests them every time he orders a salad from Carlyle that doesn't have candied pecans in it. Carlyle has the best candied pecans, and salads for that matter. Anyway, I digress... back to the salad. I made this to go with butternut squash soup, which I'll post later, and it was the perfect accompaniment.


Candied Pecans
Ingredients:
Ummm... pecans... ;)
1 cup pecan halves
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp olive oil

Directions:
Prepare a large sheet of parchment paper or tin foil for cooling pecans. Since I have neither (I know, shame on me) I used a greased cookie sheet and it did the job.
Stir sugar, oil, and vinegar in a large skillet over medium heat until sugar melts and syrup bubbles, about 3 minutes.
Mix in pecans and stir until nuts are toasted and syrup coats them evenly, 5-6 minutes.
Turn nuts out onto prepared parchment paper and separate using 2 forks. Cool completely. Nuts can be prepared way in advance (up to 1 month) and stored in an airtight container.

These babies cook up fast so don't do what I did and let yourself be lured in to a FB Scrabble game while they are cooking because you will probably burn them. Anyway, easy peasy and delish.


Winter Salad
2 servings

Ingredients:
1/4 cup candied pecans (as many or as few as your little heart desires)
2 cups mixed greens
1/4 cup-ish dried cranberries
1/4 cup crumbled Gorgonzola
1 1/2 tsp raspberry vinaigrette
1 1/2 tsp white vinegar
1 1/2 tsp olive oil

Directions:
Place ingredients in a bowl and toss your salad. FYI you may want to add less of the raspberry vinaigrette, vinegar and olive oil if you don't like your salad to soppy. Always better to start with less and add more.

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins


So I went in to work today and realized that I was one of two or three people who decided to come in on Veterans Day. So, what better time to go home early and bake? This is the second time I have made these delicious muffins! They are easy and yummy and this is the recipe that christened my KA mixer.

Ingredients:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp ground cloves
4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
4 eggs
2 cups sugar
2 cups pumpkin
1 1/4 cup vegetable oil
8 oz cheesecake filling cream cheese (if you can't find cheesecake cream cheese, you can mix regular cream cheese with sugar and vanilla for a similar effect)
chopped pumpkin seeds or walnuts or pecans (optional - I used pecans)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350

Place the brick of cream cheese on a piece of wax paper or parchment paper and shape it into a long log. Put this in the freezer while you mix and fill the pans, up to an hour.
Mix all ingredients except cream cheese and nuts together.
Fill 2 greased 12-muffin tins half full (I actually ended up filling them about 3/4 full in order to use all the batter).
Remove the cream cheese from the freezer, unwrap and cut with a sharp knife so that each slice equals 1-2 teaspoons. You may need to cut each slice in half.
Place the cream cheese pieces in the middle of the muffins, pressing down.



Sprinkle each muffin with roughly 1 tsp of chopped nuts. I used pecans and even though I am not a huge nut-fan they really made the recipe and I'm glad I used them.



Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick come out clean from the muffin part (do not touch the cream cheese).
Let cool in pans for 5 minutes, then remove to racks to cool completely. The cream cheese gets really hot so wait until its completely cool before eating.



Makes 24 muffins. Recipe found at Recipe Zaar.

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Monday, November 10, 2008

The Best Broccoli Ever


As part of my research I subscribed to a bunch of cooking blogs on google reader. I stumbled upon The Amateur Gourmet who posted a fabulous recipe for roasted broccoli. This recipe roasts the broccoli to perfection and the lemon gives it a great twist. I seriously couldn't stop eating it and I don't usually chow down on broccoli!

Ingredients:
2 large bunches of broccoli
6 tbsp olive oil (divided)
1.5 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
4 cloves of garlic
1 lemon
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese

Directions:
Preheat oven to 425
Take 2 large bunches (I just used one - cooking for two!) of broccoli and cut into medium sized florets.
Either dry the broccoli thoroughly or do what I did and not wash it (I'm not squeamish).
Place the broccoli on a cookie sheet and toss with olive oil (recipe calls for 5 tbsp, I used about 2 tbsp), kosher salt and fresh ground pepper.
Add sliced garlic (I am lazy so I used pre-diced garlic) and toss.
Roast in the oven for 20-25 minutes until the edges of the florets are brown.
When its done, take it out of the oven, zest and squeeze lemon over the broccoli (I used 1/2 lemon).
Add the rest of the olive oil and Parmesan cheese and toss to coat

It really is divine, trust me. I also made a rather bland Chicken Stroganoff that I won't bore you with. I'd rather have had a whole plate of broccoli!



Linked to Not So Homemade What's Cooking Wednesday.

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Welcome!

Welcome to my blog. I am hoping to use this as a tool to document my explorations in married life and in the kitchen, both are pretty much unchartered territories for me. I'm starting out with quick and fairly simple recipes and hope to take more and more cooking adventures as I go on. Anyway, I hope to find some yummy stuff along the way!
C + C Marriage Factory: November 2008

C + C Marriage Factory