Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Kiwi Blueberry Cream Cheese Tart

If you've ever perused a cookbook, food magazine or a Williams-Sonoma catalog, you know how the food styling and photography can really entice you into baking something (or even more so, buying whatever it is that they're selling.) The latest King Arthur catalog had a photo of this kiwi-blueberry cream cheese tart that caught my eye immediately. The recipe suggests using any fresh fruit, but the coloring and contrast of the kiwi and blueberry topped tart absolutely mesmerized me. It was gorgeous. And I knew right then I'd have to bake it just to see if I could produce the same results. Keeping in mind that I am neither a professional baker, food stylist, fruit juggler, nor photographer, I think I did a fairly decent job at capturing the beauty of this tart. I hope you think so too.

Ok... so this is where I have to reiterate that I don't do pastry very well and typically rely on a store-bought pie crust. Sue me, hug me, or report me to Le Cordon Bleu, but I just know the strengths of my baking talent and crust making isn't one of them. You may of course make your own crust and know that I think less of you because you're better than me.

Cream Cheese Tart (adapted from King Arthur catalog)

Crust:

1 refrigerated pie crust

Filling:

1 (8 ounce) package of cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup cream or half & half
1/4 tsp Fiori di Sicilia or the grated rind of one medium orange or lemon

Topping:

2 peeled, sliced kiwi fruits
1 pint blueberries
3 TBSP apricot preserves
1-2 TBSP hot water

Crust:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Roll out refrigerated pie dough. Place in 9 inch tart pan and press the dough firmly up the sides. Prick the crust all over with a fork. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until lightly browned around the edges. Remove from oven.

Filling:

With electric mixer beat cream cheese and sugar until well blended. Scrape down the beaters and the sides of the bowl. Beat in eggs, one at a time, and then add the cream and the Fiori di Sicilia or grated rind. Pour filling into the baked crust. Reduce oven heat to 350 degrees and bake for 20-25 minutes, till the tart is nearly set in the middle. Remove tart from the oven and allow to cool at room temperature for several hours.

Just before serving, top with your choice of fruit and brush with apricot preserves that have been thinned with a little hot water..

Monday, June 28, 2010

Taco Pizza

Plain, regular tacos? Not today. Not on my shift. Not when I have something else to blog about. I mean, who needs instructions on how to make regular tacos? Certainly not you, my gifted readers. So for your viewing pleasure (and because I like to take something easy and make it more difficult,) I present to you, The Taco Pizza.

note* If making your own dough, keep in mind that it needs an overnight rest in the fridge before being ready to use.

Taco Pizza

8 ounces of pizza dough, store bought or homemade, recipe follows
1/2 lb. lean ground beef
1/2 packet of taco seasoning (I used 2 TBSP of Penzey's taco seasoning)
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup of your favorite salsa
3/4 cup shredded cheese (I used queso quesadilla cheese but you could use Monterey Jack or mozzarella)

See crust directions below if making your own dough.

Brown ground beef and drain. Add taco seasoning and water. Simmer on medium low heat for 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat. Set aside.

Toppings:

Shredded lettuce
Grape tomatoes, halved
Onions, diced
Shredded cheddar cheese
Sour cream

The crust: (This makes one pound of pizza dough, enough for one large 12-14 inch pizza, or two 8-10 inch pizzas)

1 cup white whole wheat flour
1 cup unbleached bread flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp vital wheat gluten
1 TBSP pizza dough flavor (optional, but delicious)
2 tsp instant yeast
1 TBSP olive oil
3/4 cup warm water (90-100 degrees)

In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine the flours, salt, sugar, wheat gluten, pizza dough flavor and instant yeast. Whisk together. Add the olive oil and the water. Using dough hook, mix and knead dough for 8-10 minutes, adding more water or flour as needed, until dough is smooth and elastic. Spray a large bowl with cooking spray and transfer dough to bowl, rolling it around to completely coat with oil. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let proof at room temperature until doubled, about one hour. Gently punch dough down to degas, knead again for a few minutes and return to bowl. Cover bowl again with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, remove dough from fridge about an hour and a half before you want to bake the pizza. Spray some cooking spray on your counter top and transfer dough. Cover dough with plastic wrap that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Let rest while you make your sauce and put the rest of your pizza ingredients together.

About thirty minutes before baking the pizza, place pizza stone on the middle rack of your oven and preheat oven to 500 degrees.

After dough has rested for an hour, spray a piece of parchment paper with cooking spray. Place dough on parchment paper and starting from the middle of the dough ball, gently spread the dough out into a 12" circle. It the dough resists, just let it rest a few minutes longer before working with it again.

Transfer the crust along with the parchment paper to the baking stone in the oven. I use a pizza peel to do this. Bake for five minutes then remove the crust and parchment paper from the stone.

Top pizza crust with salsa, taco meat and cheese. Return pizza to oven and bake for another 5-7 minutes or until crust is browned and cheese is bubbly. Remove pizza from oven and top with shredded lettuce, onions, tomatoes and cheddar cheese. Garnish with sour cream if desired.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Baptism (Grandma's Brag Book)

Today our little grandson Gavin was baptized. There were four other babies baptized at the same Mass so although there was some competition in the cuteness department, Gavin clearly won because as you can see, he is indeed the cutest baby that ever lived. And since his head size ranks in the 99th percentile, we're fairly certain he's going to be a genius. Look at the noggin on this kid! I caught him here in a reflective moment of prayer so we're thinking that he's already contemplating the priesthood.

Everything went well until it was actually time for Gavin to be baptized. He decided to pooh his diaper right before heading up to the altar and he started screaming as Father dipped his head in the holy water and continued to scream throughout all the other babies baptisms. Of course, everyone in the congregation was chuckling at his wailing but I could tell that my son was sweating bullets. Welcome to the family of God Gavin!

The lovely family:

The Godparents:

Grandpa:

And last but certainly not least, Grandma:

Friday, June 25, 2010

Chicken, Spinach and Cannellini Bean Quesadillas

HEALTHY ALERT! We've put the cheesecake behind us, walked a thousand miles uphill backwards, and now we're ready for some tasty food that our bodies are going to thank us for. Chicken breast, spinach and cannellini beans equals lean protein, Popeye pectorals, and enough fiber to keep things moving in a positive manner, so to speak.

We're not slouching on flavor here though folks. This recipe started out as a quesadilla filling and did indeed become that for hubby, but I enjoyed it as is, mounded in a bowl with a hefty dose of freshly cracked black pepper.

First some basics on the chicken. You can use any type of cooked chicken you can get your hands on, but I prefer to take a package of skinless, boneless chicken breasts (a little over two pounds this time) and poach it in some boiling, salted water for about 20 minutes. I remove the breasts from the boiling pot to a cutting board and tent them with foil to keep them moist while they cool for a bit. Then I dice them and season them with a generous handful of Montreal grill seasoning. I use what I need for the specific recipe I'm making, and then I freeze the rest in one cup portions for future quick-fix meals.

Cannellini beans remind me of potatoes. They're so creamy and blend so well with other flavors and textures. You can sub in great northern or black beans for this recipe if you desire, but you'll forfeit a bit of the creaminess factor.

Chicken, Spinach And Cannellini Bean Quesadillas

1 1/2 -2 cups seasoned, cooked and diced chicken breast meat
1 TBSP olive oil
1 cup diced onion
1 cup diced red bell pepper
1 banana pepper, diced
a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
salt and pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
1 (heaping) TBSP all purpose flour
3/4 cup chicken broth
4 cups fresh baby spinach, stems removed, coarsely chopped
1 (15.5 ounce) can of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

Cooking spray
Flour tortillas
Shredded cheese (Monterey Jack, cheddar or a combination of the two works well here)
Avocados, diced
Fat free sour cream

In a large skillet heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, red bell pepper and banana peppers. Season with the crushed red pepper flakes and salt and pepper. Saute until veggies have softened, 6-8 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for another minute or two. Sprinkle the flour over the veggies and stir to combine. Cook while stirring for several minutes so that the flour loses its raw taste. Whisk in the chicken broth and stir until bubbly and smooth. Add the baby spinach and continue cooking for another minute or two or until spinach has wilted. Stir in the cooked chicken and cannellini beans and remove from heat.

Spray a large skillet or griddle with cooking spray. Heat over medium to medium-high heat. Place one tortilla on griddle and spread cheese over tortilla. Spread chicken, bean and spinach mixture over one half of the tortilla. Check underside of tortilla and when browned a bit, flip the half with just cheese over the half with the chicken. Remove from heat and cut into slices. Top with diced avocado and sour cream, if desired.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Pumpernickel Bread (BBA Challenge)

If you've noticed that I've been dragging my feet in the Bread Baker's Apprentice Challenge, it's only because I have been. In fact, I've been dragging my head, shoulders, knees and toes (knees and toes) along with my feet regarding this pumpernickel bread. I was 100% certain that I would not only dislike this bread, I was 200% certain that I would actually hate it. And before all you math geeks out there feel the need to tell me that you can't hate something 200%, I'm going to tell you to go back to school, take a bread baking class, then report back to me.

With all that said, I felt no need to take more than this one obligatory photo for this post. I mean after all, since I was 200% sure I was going to hate it, why waste the film, right? (That saying actually meant something back in the day before digital cameras, but I do realize that it means nothing now...LOL)

Anyway, it turns out that I LOVED this bread. Shock my shorts and call me a Levis-lit liar, but I really, really enjoyed this bread. I'm now regretting that because of my 200% certainty of hatred, I only made half the recipe. I nibbled on this bread with cheese and mustard all last week and it was delicious to the very last slice. I'm also thinking this would be a great bread to use with my Hanky Pankies recipe and will keep this in mind for when the holidays approach next winter.

With only one more sourdough recipe left, I'll admit that I'll be glad to leave this section of the book. Next up: Sunflower Seed Rye. (Care to place a bet on how long I'll drag my feet before making this one?)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Two-Tone Cheesecake (Treats For Co- Irkers)

Twoday, Twosday the 22nd, is my two year blogiversary. How appropriate that I would make a two-tone cheesecake. If this freaks you out a bit, just be happy that my blogiversary didn't fall on the 66th of June. Think about it.

I have been making this cheesecake for years. I found this delicious torment of a cheesecake in a Taste of Home magazine and the author, Cindi Paulson, actually won Grand Champion at the 2002 Alaska State Fair for this recipe. It is absolutely THE best cheesecake recipe and I receive an abundance of complements whenever I make it. My daughter has dubbed it "two-ton" cheesecake because that's what we all weigh after we finish eating it. There's absolutely nothing healthy about it, which is why I sent it into work with hubby as a treat for the co-irkers. It's their turn to weigh two tons.

For the record, Cindi is also the creator of the peanut butter cream cheese pie recipe that I have posted on my site. She won a Nestle Toll House contest for that one. This gal can bake!

I have made a couple of adaptations because food bloggers are notoriously anal about adding or changing an ingredient in a recipe so they can "make it their own." I added in the vanilla because I simply cannot imagine any baked dessert without it and I subbed a couple of ounces of bittersweet chocolate for an equal amount of semi-sweet. This time around I used the chocolate graham crackers that are called for in the original recipe, but I've also used crushed Oreo cookies, regular graham cracker crumbs, and even leftover brownies for the crust.

Two Tone Cheesecake (adapted from Taste of Home)

Crust:

1-1/2 cups chocolate graham cracker crumbs (this was one package for me)
6 tablespoons sugar
6 tablespoons butter, melted

Filling:

4 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, room temperature
1-3/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
4 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tsp vanilla
4 ounces semisweet chocolate
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate

Chocolate ganache topping:

4 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In a bowl, combine cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter. Press onto the bottom of a greased 10" springform pan. Place pan on baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

In a double boiler, gently melt 4 ounces semisweet chocolate and 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate. Let cool slightly.

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Gradually beat in cream. Add eggs and vanilla; beat on low speed just until combined.

Remove 3-1/2 cups to a medium sized bowl; gently stir in melted chocolate. Pour over crust.

Carefully pour remaining filling over chocolate layer. Return to baking sheet. Bake at 325° for 65-75 minutes or until center is almost set.

Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Carefully run a knife around edge of pan to loosen; then let cheesecake cool completely before covering with plastic wrap and refrigerating overnight.

The following day, place chopped chocolate in a small bowl. In a small saucepan, bring cream to a boil. Pour over chocolate; whisk until smooth. Cool slightly; pour over cheesecake. Refrigerate until the ganache has firmed. Remove sides of pan and cut to serve. Refrigerate leftovers. Yield: 12 servings. (Trust me, you'll get closer to 18-20 servings from this cheesecake. That's how rich and decadent it is.)

Monday, June 21, 2010

Zucchini Casserole To-Die-For (PMS)

I know my sisters have generous neighbors with gardens and more than likely they've found zucchini or other summer squash on their doorsteps in the past and had no idea what to do with them. I used to be included in those ranks before I became a cooking junkie and food-blogging-meth-head. When we were growing up and my mom got zucchini from our neighbors, the only thing she knew to do with them was bake zucchini bread (YUM) or zucchini pancakes (Not so much yum.) With zucchini season just around the corner, I'm offering my sibs (and you!) this zucchini recipe that truly is "to die for." It's easy and it uses readily available boxed and canned ingredients which are the prerequisites for Pacifying My Sisters (PMS).

If you'd like to make this casserole a complete meal, add in a cup or two of seasoned, cooked, cubed chicken breast meat.

Zucchini Casserole To Die For (Adapted from Recipezaar)

6 cups shredded zucchini ( used a combination of zucchini and yellow summer squash)
1 cup shredded carrot
1 cup diced onion
4 TBSP butter
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced (or 1/2 tsp garlic powder)
1 (10 3/4 ounce) can cream of chicken soup (I used Campbell's Healthy Request)
1 cup sour cream (I used fat free sour cream)
1 (8 ounce) box of cornbread stuffing mix (you can use regular stuffing mixed if desired, but I think the cornbread really adds extra flavor to this dish)

In a large bowl combine the chicken soup and sour cream. Set aside. Spray an 8 X 8 inch casserole dish with cooking spray. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and butter over medium heat. Add the zucchini, carrot and onion and season with salt and pepper. Saute until veggies are softened, 8-10 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for another minute or two. Remove pan from heat and let cool slightly.

Combine veggies with sour cream/soup mixture and add the stuffing mix. Stir well to combine all. Place stuffing in prepared pan. Bake for 30-40 minutes.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Dog Days Of Summer (Weekend Whine)

I hate to whine, but since I do it so well I think I'll spend some time tonight complaining about the weather (for all the good it does, right?) The entire month of June here in Indiana has been hot and muggy and I hate that I'm already tired of summer. I mean, aren't the dog days of summer suppose to occur in late July and August? If we're already experiencing our dog days in June, what do July and August have in store for us?

I'm a wimp when it comes to extreme weather. Hubby would say that anything less than 70 or more than 72 degrees constitutes "extreme," but I'm really not as bad as he likes to make me sound. (When you're as nearly flawless as I am I suppose he has to find something to nitpick about.)

I'm far more tolerant of temperatures in the 50's and 60's than I am the 80's and 90's. I guess what it boils down to is that I just don't like to sweat. There, I said it. I hate feeling sticky and frizzy haired and damp under the collar. And so does Sloopy, I imagine. So I took him to get groomed and he just looks so handsome in his summer cut and patriotic bandanna that I thought I'd share this photo with you. After all, to him all summer days are dog days. (He needs some serious orthodontic work, don't you think?)

Have fantastic Father's Day all you Dads out there!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Spinach And Goat Cheese Pie

Spinach recipes can either be an automatic draw or instant turn off, depending on your love or dislike of this vegetable. It's one of those veggies that is difficult to blog about because so many people dislike it (or think they dislike it) because they've had a bad spinach trip in the past. I'm asking you to give spinach another chance if you've already written it off, and know that I'd never lead you astray in anything I publish here. This was indeed one delicious spinach pie.

What? It's not the spinach but the goat cheese that you're not fond of? Well shoot, I can't help you with that except to tell you to leave it out!

OK, now we need to address another sticky situation. I don't make pie crusts from scratch. I've tried many times and I've failed equally as many times. I'm definitely a flaky individual, but I haven't been able to transfer that quality (?) to my pastry. Therefore, I used a store-bought refrigerated pie crust for this recipe. If you're gifted in making pie crust from scratch, please feel free to do so. And know that I'm eternally jealous of you.

Spinach And Goat Cheese Pie

1 refrigerated pie crust (or your own recipe for a 9-10" crust)
1 TBSP olive oil
2 shallots, diced
salt and pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
9-10 ounces fresh baby spinach, stems removed
1-2 roasted red peppers (the kind in a jar) diced
2 oz. goat cheese, crumbled
3 large eggs
1/2 cup half & half
a few drops of Tabasco sauce
a pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
2 cups shredded cheese (I used an Italian mix but you can use whatever is your favorite)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place pie crust in 9" pie pan or use your tart pan like I did because I think it's ultra-cool. Trim edges.

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add shallots and season with salt and pepper. Saute for 4-5 minutes or until shallots have softened. Add in the garlic and saute for another minute or two. Add the baby spinach in batches. You're going to swear that it'll never all fit into that pan, but if you work in batches it will wilt down nicely. When all the spinach has wilted down, season with salt and pepper. Add in diced roasted red peppers and remove from heat.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, half & half, Tabasco sauce and nutmeg. Stir in the shredded cheese.

Scatter the crumbled goat cheese across the bottom of the pie crust. Distribute spinach filling over goat cheese. Pour egg mixture over all.

Bake for 40-50 minutes or until filling is set and top is golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool slightly before cutting and serving.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Dove Dark Promises Cookies (Treats For Co-Irkers)

What would you think of a food blogger who doesn't have chocolate chips in her pantry? I mean, it's like McDonald's not having Big Mac sauce or Arby's not having roast beef. (Coincidentally, I've encountered both of those situations upon visiting these establishments.) Talk about being caught with your pants down. It must be so embarrassing!

So this friend of mine (Sybil) had that happen to her. She was all set to make some chocolate chip cookies and when it came time to stir in the chocolate chips, she discovered she was without. First of all, who doesn't have their mis en place before starting a recipe? How ridiculous! Fortunately, our little baker/blogger is quite fond of Dove Dark Chocolate Promises and she always keeps a stash in the left rear corner of her pantry, right beside the Craisins and Planters mixed nuts. (at least that's what she tells me.)

Not one to be caught with her pants down, our ingenious baker/blogger decides to use her coveted Dove chocolates in her cookie dough. She goes on to inform me that other people put Snickers bars and Reese's cups in their cookie dough so who am I to tell her that she can't use Dove chocolates? At this point, I just kept my mouth shut and asked her if I could borrow some of those cookies to send with hubby for the co-irkers. Always kind and giving, Sybil agreed to share. I thanked her multiple times... that's just my personality.

Dove Dark Promises Cookies (makes about 3 dozen Sybil-sized cookies)

1/2 cup peanut butter
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup old fashioned oats (I she used Coach's Oats)
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 (9.5 oz) package Dove Dark Chocolate Promises, each chocolate cut into fourths

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In bowl of stand mixer, cream together the peanut butter, butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until combined. Scrape down beaters and bowl.

In separate bowl whisk together the oats, flour, salt and baking soda. Add the dry ingredients to the mixer and beat well.

Stir in by hand the Dove pieces.

Drop dough by tablespoonfuls onto cookie sheets. Bake for 10-11 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool on cookie sheets for a minute or two before removing to cooling rack to cool completely.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Maple And Brown Sugar Muffins

It's been almost a month since I've posted a muffin recipe. And since I'm the type of wife who understands her husband's need and desire for morning and/or afternoon delights, I'm accepting the blame for pushing him into the arms of another vending machine. If you'd drag us both by the ear to a marriage counselor, he or she would say that I need to put out more.... snacks. I have been chastised and I will make it right honey... swears. Just don't leave me for Little Debbie.

These muffins will remind you of Quaker's maple and brown sugar oatmeal, the instant kind in the packets. However, you're going to be gifted with the goodness of whole grains when you make these your breakfast-on-the-go.


Maple And Brown Sugar Oatmeal Muffins (makes about 20 muffins)

1 cup old fashioned oats (I used Coach's Oats)
1 1/2 cups spelt flour
3/4 cup Brown Sugar Splenda (or 1 1/2 cups packed regular brown sugar)
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup plain yogurt (I used low fat)
1 cup mashed very ripe bananas
2 large eggs
2/3 cup canola oil
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp maple extract
Coarse sugar (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tins with papers and spray lightly with cooking spray.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the oats, flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the yogurt, bananas, eggs, oil, vanilla and maple extract.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Stir to combine well but do not over mix. Fill muffin papers 2/3 full with batter. Bake for 24-26 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with coarse sugar if using. Allow to cool in tins for about 5 minutes before removing to cool completely on a cooling rack.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Grilled Herbed Pork Loin Chops

If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. Literally. Toss your hubby the pork loin chops and some tongs and tell him to get grilling.

I don't know what the weather's been doing in your neck of the woods, but here in Indiana it's been Hell on humidity. There's no reasoning with your hair nor pleading with your makeup, because the humidity is going to ruin whatever you've done to try to make yourself presentable. So grab a beer and to heck with the neighbors (It's not like they haven't seen you in you in full bed-head hair and pajamas when you pick up the morning newspaper.)

I will admit that I did a little bit of prep on these chops and potatoes in the kitchen before I turned it over to hubby so it's not like I let him suffer alone. I partially cooked some small red potatoes for about 12 minutes in boiling salted water, then diced them and seasoned them with olive oil and Montreal steak seasoning before having hubby finish them off on the grill. They were fabulous; slightly caramelized and deliciously smoky. The grilled pork loin chops are a breeze to prep and grill up perfectly juicy and full of flavor.

Grilled Herbed Pork Loin Chops

4 boneless pork loin chops
salt and pepper
2 TBSP olive oil
2 TBSP fresh parsley, chopped
2 TBSP fresh oregano, chopped
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 TBSP fresh lime juice
1/2 tsp lime zest
1/4- 1/2 tsp hot pepper sauce

Pat pork chops with paper towel. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

In small bowl combine the rest of the ingredients. Put half the marinade in a small bowl. Brush both sides of pork chops with marinade. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours. Refrigerate the other half of the marinade.

Grill to your desired degree of doneness. (I say that because I don't know how long hubby cooked them. I'm grill challenged.) Brush chops occasionally with the reserved marinade while grilling.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Curried Turkey Burgers With Apple Chutney

Did you know that the life expectancy of a refrigerator or freezer nowadays is 10 years? At least that's what the salesman specialist told me when my refrigerator passed away this week. I asked him if it was something I'd done to cause this premature death. Perhaps I'd stocked my shelves with too much heavy cream and butter or not filled my vegetables bins with enough leafy greens? The cause of death according to the salesman specialist, without so much as a tiny acknowledgement at my attempt at humor? "They don't make 'em like they used to," he says to me. It's no wonder I'm not a salesman specialist. It must take years and years and years of college and/or experience to acquire that level of insight and become so profound. *GEEZ*

I bought my new refrigerator and then went home and blew a kiss to my 20 year old garage fridge and my 40 year old upright freezer. They evidently were born in a different era when they still "made 'em like they used to."

What does this have to do with today's post? Well, it's because of the fridge mishap that I was forced to completely empty the contents of the old fridge/freezer and then refill the new one. This is a great way to take inventory, by the way. I found a lone Granny Smith apple hiding in the back of the fruit bin and I needed to use some ground turkey that had begun to thaw during the meltdown, so I came up with this recipe that includes both. You know what they say about burgers these days, don't you? They don't make 'em like they used to.

Curried Turkey Burgers With Apple Chutney

1 TBSP olive oil
1 cup onions, diced
1 cup bell pepper, diced (I used an orange one)
2 tsp fresh minced ginger root
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
salt and pepper
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 TBSP sweet curry powder
1 TBSP reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 TBSP chopped fresh parsley
1 pound lean ground turkey (my package was actually 1.2 pounds)
1/2- 1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

Heat olive oil in skillet over medium heat. Add onions, bell pepper and ginger. Season with crushed red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Saute until onions are softened and translucent, 5-6 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for another minute or two. Remove pan from heat and stir in curry powder, soy sauce and parsley. Let cool for a few minutes.

Place ground turkey in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper and add the reserved vegetables. Combine well but don't over mix. Divide mixture into four equal patties. Grill or pan fry in a little olive oil until desired doneness. I pan fried mine in olive oil over medium heat for 6 minutes per side.

To serve: Place lettuce on lower bun half. Place burger on top of lettuce and then spoon the apple chutney on top (recipe follows) Garnish with chives (optional)

Apple Chutney

2 tsp olive oil
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and diced
1/2 cup onions, diced
1 tsp fresh minced ginger root
pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
salt and pepper
1/2 tsp sweet curry powder
1/2 TBSP brown sugar
1 TBSP fresh lemon juice

In a medium non-stick skillet heat olive oil over medium heat. Add apples, onions and ginger and season with red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Saute until onions and apples have softened a bit and then add the curry powder and brown sugar. Continue to cook until apples are completely soft. Remove pan from heat and stir in the lemon juice.

Monday, June 7, 2010

More Bagels (And Bagel Dogs!)

Last week's cinnamon raisin bagels were a real hit with the weekend crowd we had here. I was tickled to be able to inform them that they were 100% whole wheat and no one was the wiser. They really are that good. With that success under my belt I headed into another venture with bagel making and that was to recreate the bagel dog that my kids loved so much when they were younger. This particular recipe isn't 100% whole wheat in that I did use white flour in the sponge, but the final dough uses white whole wheat flour and the resulting bagel is delicious and chewy. The dogs are precooked turkey brats and therefore I declare them a relatively healthy snack food or a quick lunch. Come on.... you know you want one.

My post on the cinnamon raisin bagels has all the photos to help you with the shaping of the dough into bagels so please refer to that if you need visual help with this recipe. Also, for the bagel dogs, any precooked hot dog, brat or sausage can be used.

Plain Bagel Dough (adapted from Peter Reinhart's Bread Baker's Apprentice)

The sponge:

1/2 tsp instant yeast
2 cups (9 ounces) unbleached high-gluten flour (I used Sir Lancelot)
1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) water, room temperature

Whisk together the dry ingredients in a 4 quart mixing bowl. Whisk in the water, stirring to make a smooth, sticky batter almost like pancake batter. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for about 2 hours, or until the batter has nearly doubled in size and is very foamy and bubbly.

The final dough:

1/4 tsp instant yeast
1 3/4 cups white whole wheat flour
1 1/2 TBSP vital wheat gluten
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp diastatic malt powder

Add the instant yeast to the sponge and stir well. In small bowl whisk together the flour, wheat gluten, salt, and malt powder. Add to the sponge and using dough hook, knead until dough is smooth and elastic, about 6 minutes. Remove dough from bowl and place on clean countertop.

Line a baking sheet with a silpat or parchment paper sprayed with cooking spray. Divide dough into 3 ounce portions for the bagels and 2 1/2 ounce portions for the bagel dogs.

Roll each portion into a ball and place on prepared baking sheet. Cover with a damp towel and let rest for 20 minutes.

Roll balls into 6-7 inch ropes for the bagels and 10-12 inch ropes for the bagel dogs. If the dough resists, just let it rest for a few minutes and try rolling it again.

For the bagels, wrap the dough around your palm and the back of your hand, overlapping the ends by an inch or two. Press the overlapping edges against countertop, rolling the bagel back and forth to seal the seam.

For the bagel dogs, wrap the dough around the dog, making sure to tuck the ends in.

Place bagels and bagel dogs back on baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap that has been coated with cooking spray. Allow bagels to rest at room temperature for approximately 20 minutes. To test to see if bagels are ready to be placed in fridge for an overnight rest, drop a bagel in a small bowl of cool water. If the bagel floats within 10 seconds of being placed in the water, it's ready. Remove it from the water and dry it off a bit with a paper towel and return it to the tray. If it doesn't float, wait for another 5-10 minutes and try again. Cover bagels again with the greased plastic wrap and place in refrigerator overnight and for up to two days.

To finish and bake bagels and bagel dogs:

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, spray with cooking spray and dust lightly with cornmeal or semolina flour.

Bring a large, wide pot of water to a boil and add 1 TBSP baking soda. Remove bagels from the fridge and gently drop them into the boiling water. Let them boil for one minute, then flip them over to boil on the other side for one minute. Remove bagels from water with a slotted spoon and place on prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle with kosher salt and poppy or sesame seeds if desired.

Place the pan in the oven and bake for approximately five minutes. Then rotate pan 180 degrees and reduce oven heat to 450 degrees. Bake for an additional 5 minutes or until bagels are golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool on cooling rack.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Cucumber Dill Pasta Salad

I don't know about you, but when the weather turns hot and muggy, I lose all desire to cook. I'd rather sit on an air conditioning vent and read about things that other people are cooking. However, since we still have to eat even when it's warm, I eventually abandon the vent and get my lazy behind into the kitchen to whip up something edible so hubby doesn't consider me totally worthless.

This is a very basic and easy pasta salad recipe. When my son Kellen came to visit on Mother's Day it was one of the recipes that we made together. That day I included two cans of tuna in with the other ingredients to make it a full meal. This time I was serving it as a side dish to hubby's grilled boneless pork ribs, so I left out the tuna.

Cucumber Dill Pasta Salad

2 cups small pasta (I used mini farfalle)
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1 English cucumber, diced
1 cup diced red bell pepper
1/2 cup diced sweet onion (I used a Vidalia onion)
2 stalks celery, diced
1 1/2 cups ranch dressing (I used Hidden Valley Light)
2 TBSP dried dill weed
1/2 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste

Boil pasta in salted water according to package directions, Drain and place in a large bowl to cool.

When pasta has cooled, add the remaining vegetables.

Whisk together the dressing, dill and garlic powder in a small bowl. Taste and season with salt and pepper if needed.

Pour dressing over pasta and vegetables and stir to combine. Refrigerate for several hours before serving.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Savory Breakfast Pastry

When we have overnight guests, I try to plan ahead and have something in mind to make for a late breakfast or brunch the next morning. More often than not, those guests are my kids and they're always in a yank to hit the road so they can get the trip back home behind them and salvage what is left of their weekend before going back to work the next day. So for them, it's usually no breakfast, or a quick scrambled egg and toast. When my best friend comes to party visit, she's more the Egg McMuffin and hash browns kinda gal, so I don't usually get to make breakfast for her either. This weekend I'm having a houseful again and we'll see if I actually get to make this, or if I've merely made this as another blog posting. Hubby and I really enjoyed it for lunch today though!

Savory Breakfast Pastry (serves 5-6)

6 eggs, divided
1/4 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
dash or two of Tabasco sauce
1 TBSP olive oil
3 ounces Canadian bacon, diced
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced red pepper
salt and pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cups fresh baby spinach
1/2 cup of canned Ro-tel tomatoes and chilies, drained well (about 1/2 can)
2 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese
1/2 cup shredded cheese (I used a Mexican blend)
1 sheet puff pastry dough, thawed
poppy and sesame seeds, optional

In a medium bowl whisk together 5 eggs, mayonnaise and Tabasco sauce until smooth. Set aside.
In a large non-stick skillet heat olive oil over medium heat. Add diced Canadian bacon and fry until crisp. Drain from pan with slotted spoon to a paper towel.

To the same skillet, add the onion and red pepper. Season with salt and pepper and saute until onions are translucent, 5-6 minutes. Add the garlic and spinach and continue to saute until spinach is wilted.

Pour eggs over sauteed vegetables and cook until set, but not dry, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and stir in Ro-tel tomatoes, cream cheese, shredded cheese and reserved Canadian bacon. Place mixture in a bowl and chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with a silpat or parchment paper. (I flipped over a baking sheet and used my silpat.) In a small bowl, whisk remaining egg with a tsp of water until frothy.

Roll puff pastry into a 12 X 10 inch rectangle. Spoon egg mixture down center of pastry, leaving a one inch margin on top and bottom and three inch borders on each side.

Cut pastry on side borders into one inch strips.

Crisscross strips over top of filling.

Brush top and sides of pastry with egg wash and top with seeds if desired. Bake for 30 minutes or until pastry is golden brown and puffed. Remove from oven and let cool a bit before slicing to serve.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

100% Whole Wheat Cinnamon Raisin Bagels

How would you like to learn how to make delicious and healthy bagels right in your very own home? No more early morning trips to the bakery to get your favorite cinnamon raisin bagel. Are you nodding your head? You should be, because bagels are actually one of the easiest breads to make and by merely following the step by step instructions and photos, you just might find that bagel making will become your new passion! It certainly has become one of mine.

I first learned how to make bagels last spring as part of the Bread Baker's Apprentice Challenge. Peter Reinhart's recipe is fabulous and remains one of my favorites from his book. Once I mastered the original recipe, I started tinkering with adding in whole grains (surprised?) This recipe for 100% whole wheat bagels yields a very flavorful and chewy bagel and I promise you that you'll never know it's whole grain.

100% Whole Wheat Cinnamon Raisin Bagels

Sponge:

1/2 tsp instant yeast
2 cups (8 oz) white whole wheat flour
2 TBSP vital wheat gluten
11 oz. room temperature water

In the bowl of your stand mixer, whisk together the above ingredients until everything is moistened and the consistency of a thick pancake batter. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for approximate 2- 2 1/2 hours. The mixture will become very foamy and bubbly and will nearly double in size.

Dough:

1/2 tsp instant yeast
1 3/4 cup (7 oz) white whole wheat flour
1 1/2 TBSP vital wheat gluten
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp diastatic malt powder
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 1/2 TBSP sugar
1 cup raisins, rinsed and patted dry

Add the instant yeast to the sponge and stir well. In small bowl whisk together the flour, wheat gluten, salt, malt powder, cinnamon and sugar. Add to the sponge and using dough hook, knead until dough is smooth and elastic, about 6 minutes. Remove dough from bowl and place on clean countertop.

Add in the raisins, kneading in a handful or so at a time until all are incorporated into the dough. This takes a few minutes to accomplish. Those raisins can be stubborn little buggers.



Line a baking sheet with a silpat or parchment paper sprayed with cooking spray. Divide dough into 3 ounce portions.

Roll each portion into a ball and place on prepared baking sheet. Cover with a damp towel and let rest for 20 minutes.

Roll balls into 6-7 inch ropes. If the dough resists, just let it rest for a few minutes and try rolling it again.

Wrap the dough around your palm and the back of your hand, overlapping the ends by an inch or two.

Press the overlapping edges against countertop, rolling the bagel back and forth to seal the seam.
Place bagels back on baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap that has been coated with cooking spray.

Allow bagels to rest at room temperature for approximately 20 minutes. To test to see if bagels are ready to be placed in fridge for an overnight rest, drop a bagel in a small bowl of cool water. If the bagel floats within 10 seconds of being placed in the water, it's ready. Remove it from the water and dry it off a bit with a paper towel and return it to the tray. If it doesn't float, wait for another 5-10 minutes and try again.

Cover bagels again with the greased plastic wrap and place in refrigerator overnight and for up to two days.

To finish and bake bagels:

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, spray with cooking spray and dust lightly with cornmeal or semolina flour.

Bring a large, wide pot of water to a boil and add 1 TBSP baking soda. Remove bagels from the fridge and gently drop them into the boiling water. Let them boil for one minute, then flip them over to boil on the other side for one minute. Remove bagels from water with a slotted spoon and place on prepared baking sheet.

Place the pan in the oven and bake for approximately five minutes. Then rotate pan 180 degrees and reduce oven heat to 450 degrees. Bake for an additional 3-5 minutes or until bagels are golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool on cooling rack. Brush with melted butter and top with cinnamon sugar if desired. (I desired) Allow bagels to cool for at least 15 minutes before serving.