Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Banana Muffins

I know, I know. I've been MIA for way too long. I promise I've been cooking and baking still... just lost my motivation to take pictures of the final products. I promise I'll be better about it!

So, I've made many a loaves of banana bread in my day and I like it, but it's not always exactly what I want or the most exciting thing to eat. My kids went, well, bananas for these muffins though and I will make them again and again. My favorite thing about them is they freeze beautifully and only take a minute in the microwave to taste fresh out of the oven rather than from the freezer. When I freeze baked goods like these I put them in the freezer on a cookie sheet not touching each other for about an hour and then put them all in a gallon freezer bag with the date and what they are written in sharpie on the bag. This will make sure that they don't stick together during the freezing process.

Banana Muffins

Yield: 12-15 muffins (I doubled this recipe and got 2 1/2 dozen)

1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
4 large ripe bananas, mashed
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Spray muffin tin well with nonstick spray and set aside. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and beat. Add mashed bananas and vanilla and beat well. Mix the dry ingredients in a separate bowl with a fork until combined. Gradually add to banana mixture, mixing just until flour is not visible.  Scoop about 1/4 cup (I used a large cookie scoop and it turned out perfectly) batter for each muffin. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick entered into the center comes out clean. Break open, spread with butter and prepared to be amazed by how delicious of a muffin this makes.

If you do this in bread form it will make 1 regular sized loaf. You should increase the time that you bake it to 45-50 minutes.

Adapted from: Don't Panic - Dinner's in the Freezer

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Oatmeal Butterscotch Chocolate Chip Cookies

My kids loooove to help me in the kitchen and some of my best memories are of helping my mom in the kitchen. As an adult, I sometimes have a hard time wanting to let 3 pairs of hands help me make something when it's easier and faster and less messy to make it myself. I try to make a point of planning something for the kids to help me make or taking a deep breath and letting them help when they ask. This is one of those recipes where I planned to have the kids help me. All 3 of the older ones standing on a single chair taking turns dumping things into the bowl. And loving it all. My kids are great!
 As you can see they got the THUMBS UP! from my 3-year old.

I didn't change this much at all from the original, but it is pretty darn good as is, if you ask me. This is my go to oatmeal cookie recipe and you can add chopped nuts, replace the chips with raisins, or mix any kind of chip in that you prefer.

 Oatmeal Butterscotch Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup butter, softened
1 1/3 cups brown sugar, packed
 2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups rolled oats
3/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup butterscotch chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a stand mixer, cream together the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Scrape the sides of the bowl down and add the eggs and vanilla, mix until smooth. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Stir the flour mixture into the butter/egg mixture until combined, scraping the sides occasionally. Add in the oats and the chips and mix until combined.

Drop 2 tablespoon sized balls onto a cookie sheet 2 inches apart and bake for 10-12 minutes. They shouldn't be browned, except just along the edges. Let cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Almond Cheesecake with Raspberry Topping

My mom celebrated her birthday on the 22nd of February and she requested an amaretto cheesecake. She loves almond flavored things and I knew if I got this right it could really make her day special. I wanted something more than a regular cheesecake with almond extract added to it for the almond flavor. I looked at a lot of different recipes and finally settled on one with a couple changes I wanted to make. I really think the almond paste makes this cheesecake different, so I wouldn't skip it. I found mine at our local grocery store in the baking isle. I really think the crust in this is fantastic and the almonds give it a little extra crunch. You could also change the topping to any berry that you like. I had considered cherry, blueberry, or strawberry, but raspberry just seemed like the perfect match to the almond cheesecake. I also apologize for not having a picture of this since we celebrated my daughter's birthday the same day and I didn't feel like I had enough time to stop and take a picture and it really did not last long. 

Almond Cheesecake with Raspberry Topping

1 cup graham cracker crumbs (about 8 full crackers)
1 cup sliced almonds
6 Tablespoons butter, melted
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

1 7-ounce package almond paste
3 8-ounce packages cream cheese (not reduced fat), room temperature
6 tablespoons sugar
4 large eggs

12 ounces frozen raspberries (or fresh)
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 Tablespoon corn starch

For crust:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter the bottom of a 10-inch springform pan and put a piece of parchment paper on the bottom (I took the side part off and put it back on over the parchment). Set aside. Put sliced almonds on a cookie sheet and broil for 2 minutes (keep a close eye on this as they are very easy to burn) or until golden brown and toasted. Set aside to cool. In a food processor pulse graham crackers and toasted, sliced almonds until crumbs. In a medium bowl, add the butter, brown sugar, and salt and mix well with a fork. Press mixture into the bottom of your prepared pan. Bake for 7 minutes, or until set.

For filling:
Break apart and pulse almond paste in a food processor to ensure there are no big chunks. Using the whisk attachment on your stand mixer, beat the almond paste, cream cheese, and sugar for about 2 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Occasionally, scrape down sides of bowl. Mix in eggs until just blended. Pour filling over crust and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 325 degrees for about 45 minutes longer, or until the center is set and the top looks dry. Remove from oven and let cool.

For sauce:
Puree raspberries and water in a blender. Strain through a fine mesh strainer to get rid of the majority of seeds (if the seeds don't bother you, skip this step). In a small saucepan, combine the raspberries, sugar, lemon juice, and corn starch. Heat over medium-high heat until boiling. Continue boiling for 3-4 minutes or until it's starting to thicken. Remove from heat and cool completely.

Spread sauce over cooled cheesecake and keep in refrigerator until ready to serve.

Adapted from Epicurious and Smitten Kitchen

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Oatmeal Molasses Bread

Sorry I haven't posted very often lately. Life has gotten kind of busy with my daughter turning 6 and throwing her a party and then just every day things that come with having 4 kids. This blog got put on the back burner for a while. I'll make it up to you, I promise (talking strawberry cake, almond cheesecake, and mini crab cakes). I have some fabulous recipes coming for you! I got a new Bosch mixer (I had a Kitchen Aid before) for Valentine's Day (yes, I am spoiled, what's your point?), so I have been loving using it! Any excuse I can find to use it, I jump at baking something (even more so than before).

This is one of my husband's favorite bread recipes that I make. I used to make bread over dry by adding too much flour to it and couldn't figure out why it was always SO dense. Now that I have it figured out, it almost always comes out good. This doesn't have the texture of oatmeal at all... it kind of just blends into the bread and gives it the flavor of oatmeal. This recipe makes 2 loaves, so if you only want one, half it.

Oatmeal Molasses Bread

4 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water (110 degrees)
1 1/4 cups boiling water
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup molasses
1/3 cup butter, softened to room temperature
1 Tablespoon salt
5 3/4 to 6 cups all-purpose flour
2 beaten eggs
Extra rolled oats
1 beaten egg white
1 Tablespoon water

Dissolve yeast in the warm water. Let rest 5 minutes. In stand mixer, combine boiling water, 1 cup rolled oats, molasses, butter, and salt; cool to lukewarm. Stir in 2 cups of the flour, beat well. Add the softened yeast mixture and 2 beaten eggs and beat well. Stir in enough of the remaining flour to make a soft and slightly sticky dough. Knead in your mixer (or by hand) until smooth and elastic, 8-10 minutes. Shape dough into a ball.

Place in a lightly oiled bowl, turning once to grease surface. Cover with a towel and let rise in a warm place until double (about 1 1/2 hours). Punch the dough down, turn out on a lightly floured surface. Divide dough in half by either using a serrated knife to cut it in half or pulling it apart with your hands. Cover and let rest 10 minutes. Coat two well-greased loaf pans and sprinkle about 2 Tablespoons rolled oats for each pan and then shake around until the pan is lightly coated. 

Shape dough into loaves and place in pans. Cover and let rise in a warm place until double (45 to 60 minutes). Brush loaves with a mixture of egg white and water. Sprinkle tops lightly with rolled oats. Bake at 3:75 degrees until done, about 40 minutes. Cover loosely with foil the last 15 minutes if tops are browning rapidly. Remove from pans and cool on wire racks.

Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Bread Cook Book

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Dehydrated Apples

Ok, so anyone who knows me well know that I am a bit into food storage. I also like to do anything I can myself. Not only do I enjoy learning how it's done, but I really think that by doing it at home I can get a superior product and as an added bonus, it's just the way I like it because I control what is being put into it. So, the last couple days I've been working on dehydrating my own apple slices. Everyone loves to snack on these and they are as healthy as can be for you. They are actually kind of addicting... I dare you to eat just one. I also love these broken up and put in my oatmeal. So easy and convenient and it really takes my morning oatmeal to the next level.

 I have one of these handy dandy apple slicers that I used to slice and core all my apples. I left the peels on for added flavor and nutrition, but you could take the peel off if you want to. You don't have to use one of those if you don't have one. Just core and slice your apples thinly by hand. They will still turn out just as good! I usually slice and core about four at a time and then cut them in half. After that I lightly spray them with lemon juice (I bought a spray bottle just for this use) so they don't brown and it adds a little extra vitamin C back into them that they will lose during the dehydrating. Then I lay them out on my dehydrator tray. Once I have a tray full I sprinkled very lightly with cinnamon. You don't need much at all to give it a little extra flavor. I think apple pie seasoning would be great on these too, but I didn't have any on hand. You can really do whatever YOU like on your dried apples. That's the great thing about doing it at home.  I only sprinkled a few of my trays with cinnamon because I like them both ways and it's one less step to just leave it off. I set my dehydrator at 110 degrees and it took them about 15 hours to get dried enough.

My house smelled fantastic as these were drying and the kids kept asking what the yummy smell was.  I like doing these types of projects in the winter when there isn't a whole lot of produce on sale, not any produce stands around anymore, and my garden isn't keeping me on my toes with fresh veggies.

These really are simple as can be to make yourself. Next time you see apples on sale (I used fuji here, but you can use any apple you like to eat), grab more than you normally would and put some in your dehydrator. I think you'll be surprised at how easy and good it really is made at home.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Apple Streusel Cake

I love everyday cakes like these. Simple, but tasty. Something that you can eat after dinner and doesn’t leave you feeling heavy. My kids told me that they wished they got dessert every day after dinner (which is quite a dream). This cake came together easily (which with four kids running around is a must sometimes) and was a real treat. I love the seasonings in this and it reminds me of fall with the apples. I didn’t make the glaze to go with it, but I think it would be better with it, so next time I’ll use it.

Apple Streusel Cake

For the streusel:
1 cup chopped apple (about 1 medium apple)
1 cup packed light brown sugar
½ cup sliced almonds
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 Tablespoons melted butter

For the cake:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ cup softened butter
½ sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup orange juice

For the glaze:
½ cup powdered sugar
2 ½ teaspoons orange juice

Making the streusel:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a bundt pan well. In a medium bowl, combine brown sugar, apples, almonds, flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Stir in melted butter. Set aside.

Making the cake:
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and baking soda. In a stand mixer beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping the bowl occasionally. Add vanilla.

Set mixer to low and alternately beat flour mixture and orange juice into the egg mixture. Spoon half of the batter into the bundt pan. Sprinkle half of the streusel over the batter.

Spoon the remaining batter over the streusel and spread evenly. Swirl batter with a knife to create a marble pattern.
Bake for 15 minutes. Remove cake from oven and sprinkle the top with the remaining streusel. Return cake to the oven and bake an additional 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Making the glaze:
Combine the powdered sugar and orange juice. Mix well. Turn cake out onto a serving plate. Drizzle glaze over cake and serve.

Friday, February 4, 2011

No-Fuss Potato Soup

Hopefully you all aren’t sick of all my soup recipes! I made this when I was babysitting two extra kids in addition to my usual four. I knew I wouldn’t have much time to cook dinner, so when I had a little down time, I threw this in the crock pot and let it go. By the time it was dinnertime, I was exhausted and we were all hungry, so this was really a lifesaver to have waiting for us.

So, I don’t have a picture of this because, well, it was one of those days where nothing is going the way you want them too and my family and I ate this faster than I could get a picture. It is too good not to share with you and if you think you don’t like mushrooms, then try it with them anyway. It gives this soup such a good flavor and if you don’t cut them too tiny, you can pick them out later (which is what my lovely daughter did).

No-Fuss Potato Soup

6 cups cubed potatoes (I prefer them not peeled)
5 cups water
4 chicken bullion cubes
½ cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped broccoli
½ cup chopped mushrooms
¼ cup butter
2 teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
1 Tablespoon dried parsley

In a large crock pot, combine everything except the evaporated milk. Cover and cook on high for 6-7 hours or until vegetables are tender. Add milk and mix well. Cover and cook 30-60 minutes longer or until heated through. 

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Spaghetti Pie

This is a fun twist on regular spaghetti. I normally put ground beef in the sauce (which is what I’ll put in the recipe), but since we were out, I used chicken instead. You could also double it if you have a lot of people to feed and put it in a 9x13 pan. I got this recipe from my sister-in-law when I got married as one of those family recipes and it’s easy to put together and so good! It’s one of our family’s favorite comfort foods. 

Spaghetti Pie

6 ounces spaghetti (or angel hair) noodles
¼ cup butter
½ cup Parmesan cheese
2 eggs
1 cup cottage cheese
1 ½ cups spaghetti sauce
½ pound ground beef
½ cup chopped onion
1 cup grated mozzarella cheese (I used Colby jack because that’s what I had on hand)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook spaghetti according to package directions. Drain well and put back in pan. Stir in butter and Parmesan cheese until butter is melted. Slightly beat the eggs in a small bowl and then stir into spaghetti. Make the “crust” in a 9-inch pie pan by putting the spaghetti noodles in the bottom of the pan and press down until shaped to pan. Spread the cottage cheese evenly over the top of the noodles. Brown the ground beef with the onion. Once no longer pink, mix the ground beef and onions with the spaghetti sauce and spread over the cottage cheese. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, remove and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Return to oven for 5 more minutes. Let rest 5 minutes before cutting into wedges and serving.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Mini Quiche

 You could do a pre-made (or homemade) pie crust and put this in a regular pie pan for the traditional quiche. You just want to bake the crust for 10 minute before you put the filling in and increase the time to 45 minutes. I don’t know why, but for some reason it is more fun to eat something that is in individual portion sizes. You can pretty much put any veggies you think would be good in this or have on hand (spinach comes to mind). Any kind of cheese will do as well. I really loved the feta in this as I thought it took the flavor to the next level. 

Mini Quiche

6 pieces bacon
½ cup chopped onion
2 minced garlic cloves
6 eggs
¾ cup milk
1 cup chopped broccoli
1 cup chopped cauliflower
1 cup cheddar cheese
¼ cup crumbled feta cheese
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook the bacon in a skillet on medium-high heat until done. Remove to a plate and let cool. Crumble bacon into small pieces. Drain all but 2 Tablespoons of the bacon grease out of the pan. Cook the onion and garlic in the bacon grease until the onions are soft and clear. Remove from heat and let cool. Meanwhile, mix the eggs and milk until beaten well. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix until combined. Spray muffin tins well with cooking spray and fill to the top with the egg filling. Cook for 30-35 minutes or until set and turning brown on the edges and top. To remove from the muffin tin, slide a knife around the edge and gently scoop it out.

Adapted from

Monday, January 31, 2011

Onion Bread

There is nothing quite like the smell and taste of homemade bread fresh from your oven. I am a carb lover and don’t plan to change that anytime soon. We had this with the vegetable stew and next time I think I’m going to add a half-cup of shredded sharp cheddar cheese. The onion flavor was definitely there, but not overpowering and the texture was spot on. I was worried that my kids wouldn’t like it with the onions in it, but they all gobbled it up like it was the best bread they’d ever eaten. 

Onion Bread

1 cup warm water
¼ cup diced onion
2 teaspoons sugar
1 ½ teaspoon yeast
1 ½ Tablespoons softened butter
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 ½ cups whole wheat flour
2 Tablespoons dough enhancer

In a small bowl mix the warm water, onion, 2 teaspoons sugar, and yeast until the sugar is dissolved. Let sit for 5 minutes. Put the yeast mixture into a stand mixer, then add butter, salt, 1 Tablespoon sugar, and 1 cup of flour and beat 2 minutes, then add remaining flour and dough enhancer. Knead on medium-low speed using the dough hook for 10 minutes, adding flour as needed to form a slightly sticky dough that doesn’t stick to the sides of the bowl. Grease bowl, put dough into bough, and then turn dough greased side up. Cover with a towel and let rise in a warm place until double, about 1 hour. Punch down, then form into a loaf shape and put into a greased loaf pan. Let rise until double, about 1 hour. Preheat oven for 10 minutes to 375 degrees and bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown and when you tap the top crust it sounds hollow. Remove from pan and cool on a wire rack.

Adapted from Just Dutch It!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Vegetable Stew

So, we like soup around here. I mean, really like it. We eat it about once a week when it's not too hot to eat it. I asked my husband if he had any requests for dinners and he promptly replied with “more soup”. I love the throw everything in a pot and let it simmer kind of dinner anyway. I made this in a dutch oven, but you could just as easily make in on the stove or in a crock pot. This vegetable stew was better than I was expecting and no one even missed the meat. I think it would be good with tomatoes or really any kind of vegetable you have lying around.

Vegetable Stew

8 cups water or chicken broth
2 chicken bullion cubes (not needed if you used broth)
1 cup split green peas
½ cup barley
¼ cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped carrots
1 medium-large chopped potato
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper

Soak the split green peas and barley in water 2 hours or overnight (do not soak in the dutch oven). Drain the water off and put all the ingredients in a 12-inch dutch oven. Use 24-28 briquettes, all on the bottom, with the lid on for 1 hour or until peas are soft. Serve and enjoy!

If you make this in a crock pot then follow the same directions and cook on high heat for 6 hours.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Pretzel Dogs

These make a fun after-school snack (or lunch, shhh, that's our little secret) or would be perfect for a finger food for a party. My two younger kids ate the meat out of them and left the bread (which they do with corn dogs too) but my older kids couldn’t get enough! They are great for adults, too. I love getting pretzels at the mall and these fill that craving (and dare I say, taste better?) for much less money out of my pocket. If you didn’t want to do the L’il Smokies in them, you could just do regular pretzel bites or full sized pretzels. Also, I didn't think they needed any dipping sauce, but if you are a dipping kind of person, cheese sauce, barbeque sauce, or even ketchup would be great with these. 

Pretzel Dogs

1 bag L’il Smokies (like these)
1½ cups warm water
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2¼ teaspoons instant yeast
4 ½ cups all purpose flour
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Vegetable oil, for greasing the bowl

For finishing:
Cooking spray
10 cups water
1 egg yolk beaten with 1 Tablespoon water
Kosher salt

In a stand mixer, combine the warm water, sugar, salt, and yeast using the paddle attachment until the sugar and yeast are dissolved. Slowly add the flour and butter until the dough just comes together. Then switch to the dough hook and let it knead on medium speed for 5 minutes. Take dough out of bowl, lightly coat the bowl with oil, and put the dough back in the bowl and turn so coated with oil. Cover with a towel and let rise in a warm place for 50-55 minutes or until doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper and lightly spray with non-stick cooking spray. Bring the water to a boil in a large pot.

While you are waiting for the water is coming to a boil punch down the dough and knead for a few minutes. Using a sharp knife cut the dough into half and continue cutting pieces into half until you have eight balls of dough.

Open the package of Li’l Smokies and drain the extra liquid. Then pat dry with a towel.  
Working with one piece of dough at a time roll into 24 inch long rope. Take one Li’l Smokie at a time and wrap the dough around it and cut off the rope for just enough dough to go around the Smokie (this took me about 3 inches each). Pinch the ends together so they don’t come apart when they cook.  Put 4-6 at a time into the boiling water and let boil for 30 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon and place, seam side down, on the cookie sheet. Continue until all the Smokies are used. If you have any extra, cut into small pieces (for regular pretzel bites) and boil for 30 seconds as well.

After all the dough has been boiled, beat one egg yolk with 1 Tablespoon water and brush on the top of each piece. Lightly sprinkle with kosher salt. Bake in the preheated oven for 12-14 minutes or until the dough is a dark golden brown.  Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Adapted from Annie's Eats

Friday, January 28, 2011

S'mores Brownies

Ok, so I love the idea of s’mores. I love the combination of flavors, but I can never eat them without getting marshmallow all over me and the chocolate never melts like it should. These brownies are all of the flavor and none of the mess of s’mores. My kids can’t seem to get enough of them, either. And am I the only one that thinks of Sandlot every time someone says s’mores? I love that scene!

These have a great, gooey brownie and just enough graham cracker crust and marshmallows to go with the chocolate. 

S’mores Brownies

2 cups graham cracker crumbs (which turned out to be about 14 crackers for me)
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted, divided
3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
½ cup cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup (1 5-ounce can) evaporated milk
1 cup chocolate chips
3 ½ cups miniature marshmallows

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9x13 pan with foil.

In a food processor pulse your graham crackers until they are in crumbs (if you don’t have a food processor, put them in a big Ziploc bag and have fun smashing them with a rolling pin or glass). In a medium bowl combine the graham crackers, 2 Tablespoons sugar, and ½ cup (1 stick) melted butter until well blended. Firmly press crumb mixture evenly into bottom of your foil-lined pan. Bake for 5 minutes or until set and lightly golden brown.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl mix the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Add the remaining ½ cup melted butter, vanilla extract and evaporated milk until all dry ingredients are incorporated. Batter will be very thick. Stir in chocolate chips. Carefully spread batter evenly over graham cracker crust.

Bake 22-25 minutes or until the edges are just set. Remove from oven and turn oven to broil setting. Evenly sprinkle the marshmallows over the brownies. Broil 1-3 minutes longer, until marshmallows are puffed and browned. Make sure and stay by the oven, checking frequently so you don’t burn the marshmallows.

Cut into bars with a knife sprayed with cooking spray.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Eggplant Parmesan

Confession time: before last night I had never eaten eggplant (to my knowledge). I have been having this desire for the last couple months to just buy some and try it and I'm not sure what kept stopping me, but I couldn't bring myself to actually do it. I'm not sure if you've heard about Bountiful Baskets before, but if you haven't they are a fresh produce co-op that we try to participate in when we can. Anyway, they had an eggplant in the basket last week and I got so excited! I started trying to find recipes to use it right away.  

I was pleasantly surprised with how much I liked this. The flavor was really good and the texture is a little different, but it didn't turn me off from it at all. The husband liked it as well (probably even more than I did, if that's possible), but all four of the kiddos didn't eat more than the required one bite. They were just fine only eating the spaghetti served with it, so I'll definitely be making this again.  If you've never tried eggplant, I would give this recipe a go if you are wanting to see what it's like.

Eggplant Parmesan

1 medium sized eggplant
6 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/8 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 cup spaghetti sauce
1 cup grated Mozzerella cheese
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Chop off the top and bottom of the eggplant and peel all the skin off with a vegetable peeler. Slice into ¼ inch rounds. Place in a single later in a colander and sprinkle generously with salt. Turn all the eggplant rounds over and sprinkle the other side with salt. Let sit for 30 minutes. Drain and rinse the eggplant then dry well on towels.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix the Panko, 1/8 cup Parmesan cheese, and basil in a shallow dish pan (I used a 9 inch round cake pan). Heat olive oil over medium-high in a medium sauce pan until hot. Cook breaded eggplant for about 2-3 minutes or until golden brown on each side. Place in one layer on a cookie sheet. Spoon 1-2 tablespoons of spaghetti sauce on each eggplant round and spread it evenly, almost to the edge. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons mozzerella cheese on top of each one and then top with 1 teaspoon Parmesan cheese. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Serve with spaghetti.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Garlic Breadsticks

So, I was going to take a picture of these breadsticks this morning when I had natural light and my third child (there is something about third children, isn’t there?) ate half of each one of what was leftover of the breadsticks from last night for breakfast this morning while I was busy with other things. So, because of that, I have no pictures for you other than what you got with the soup yesterday. 

These breadsticks couldn’t be easier and they have the perfect texture and are buttery and delicious. These are maybe not the best things to have around if you are trying to lose weight though. I got the original recipe from a neighbor years ago who has since moved. I changed it to suit our tastes a little bit and our whole family loves them! Just be careful not to over salt them with the garlic salt like I seem to tend to do. More is not better in this instance.

Garlic Breadsticks

1 ½ cups warm water
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 Tablespoon yeast
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups flour
¼ cup plus 2 Tablespoons butter
Garlic salt

Combine the warm water, sugar, and yeast in a small bowl until yeast and sugar are dissolved. In a medium bowl mix the flour and salt together. Make a well in the center and add the water mixture. Mix with a wooden spoon until it’s a smooth dough. Turn out onto a heavily floured surface and knead with floured hands for 3 minutes. The dough will be sticky, so don’t worry. Cover with a towel and let rest for 10 minutes. While the dough is resting, preheat oven to 350 degrees and put ¼ cup butter in the bottom of a 9x13 inch pan and stick it in the oven until the butter is melted. Roll out dough with a floured rolling pin to about ¼ to ½ of an inch thick. Using a pizza cutter cut the dough into 1 ½ inch thick strips then cut the other direction in about 4 inch long pieces so you have rectangles. Carefully transfer into your 9x13 inch pan over the butter so the pieces of dough are touching, but aren’t squished. Melt 2 Tablespoons butter in a microwave safe bowl in the microwave and using a basting brush, spread butter on the top of all the dough pieces. Sprinkle lightly with garlic salt. Cover and let rest for 15 minutes. Uncover and bake for 20 minutes in a 350 degree oven.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Chicken Noodle Soup

It snowed today yet again. And when it snows all I want to do is make comfort food (and all my little ones want to do is go out and build a snowman). And what is more comforting than homemade chicken noodle soup? I am such a soup lover in the wintertime! In this recipe, I used homemade whole-wheat spinach noodles because I had some left over. I was a little worried how the flavor would be with the rest of the ingredients, but they turned out so good and really made it filling. Usually I just use the frozen noodles you get in the store (like these Grandma's Pasta) and they are just as good. This recipe makes about the right amount for my family of 6 when I make garlic breadsticks to go with it. I’ll post the recipe for the breadsticks tomorrow. They are so easy and you won’t want to miss their buttery goodness!

Chicken Noodle Soup

2 Tablespoon butter
1 cup chopped carrots
¼ cup chopped onions
1 clove minced garlic
2 cups shredded chicken
4 cups chicken broth
8 oz egg noodles
Salt and pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a skillet over medium-high heat and cook the carrots in it, stirring occasionally, until they start to soften (about 5 minutes). Add the onions and garlic and cook until the onions are transparent. Set aside.

In a soup pot put the chicken, broth, noodles, and carrot/onion/garlic mixture. Heat on medium-high heat until carrots are soft. Add salt and pepper to taste.