Sunday, November 29, 2009

Ham and White Bean Soup

Every year for Thanksgiving my family has the traditional Thanksgiving turkey as well as a ham. I reserved the ham bone this year with excited thoughts on how I could use it up. I usually use it to flavor pinto beans for my Dad but I wanted to do something that would be enjoyed more across the board as my family isn't really into just plain beans. (Even though they don't know that a good pot of beans have amazing flavor) It is going to be really hard for me to not do this recipe every time that I bake a ham and have the leftover bone in the future.

Ham and White Bean Soup
1 lb great northern white beans
3 TBL olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 cups chicken broth
6-8 cups water
2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 TBL sugar
1 leftover ham bone with either some ham left on the bone or leftover slices

- Go through your beans and pick out any rocks that remain
- Place your beans in a large stock pot and cover well with water
- Bring to a boil and allow to boil for 1 minute. Cover and turn off heat. Let sit for 1 hour
- Drain beans in a strainer and set aside
- Heat olive oil over med-high heat and saute carrots, celery and onion until tender. Add garlic when almost done sauteing.
- Add chicken stock and water.
- Add beans, salt, pepper and sugar
- Add ham bone, bring to a slow boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 2 hours. Stir frequently and rotate bone in the liquid
- Remove the ham bone and pull meat off of the bone or shred leftover slices in the soup.
- Continue to cook on low for another hour

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Turkey Cupcakes!


I made these cute little guys last week for Thanksgiving for the kiddos that came to dinner. They were a huge hit!! I used the one bowl chocolate cupcake recipe from Martha Stewart's book Cupcakes and used the Wilton Buttercream recipe tinted orange. I topped them with half of a Nutter Butter cookie, black frosting eyes, fruit rollup nose/beard and candy corn feathers.

I initially was going to participate in the Martha Stewart Cupcake Bonus Challange of Applesauce Spice Cupcakes but I ran out of time and figured that I would post these since they are so adorable. :-)

Friday, November 27, 2009

Paula Deen's Pumpkin Pie

I decided to venture away from the frozen Mrs. Smith's Pumpkin Pie this year. It is amazing that I haven't tried to make a pumpkin pie up to this point. I guess that I just stuck with the tradition of what my Grandmother did for years. She always used the frozen pie and it was always yummy. Truth be known though, I had never been introduced to the deliciousness of a good homemade pumpkin pie. I don't think that I can go back now.

I tried Paula Deen's recipe for pumpkin pie this year. It was amazing!! It has everything that you can expect from a pumpkin pie in it but it has the creamy addition of an entire block of cream cheese in it. My family thought that it was delicious. The only thing that I did different in the recipe is that i didn't bake the pie crust before putting the filling in it. Also, next time I will bake the pie with the crust covered so that it doesn't brown as much.

This is definitely a make again for me!

Mini Cherry Cheesecakes

I had some people over the other night to make Christmas cards and hang out and I decided to make one of my sister's favorite snacks. She absolutely loves these little pieces of yumminess and always makes herself sick by eating alot of them.

My aunt originally gave me this recipe years ago. I am honestly not sure where she got it originally but we have definitely made our share of them over the years. This super simple recipe makes about 40 cheesecakes so one batch makes enough for a small party...or one person if you are talking about my sister. :-)

I recommend that you put the cherries on the cheesecakes right out the oven and that you let them sit in the fridge for a couple of hours after they have cooled. They are definitely better cold rather than at room temp.

Mini Cherry Cheesecakes
2 - 8 oz blocks of cream cheese
1 cup of granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
Mini Nilla Wafers
Maraschino Cherries (stem removed and cut in half)

- Preheat your oven to 350
- In a large mixing bowl, cream the sugar and cream cheese together
- Add the eggs and vanilla and mix until blended well
- Line a mini muffin pan with mini muffin liners
- Place a mini Nilla Wafer in each liner
- Fill each liner with cream cheese mixture almost to the top
- Bake 15 - 18 minutes
- Top each cheesecake with a half of a cherry after they come out of the oven. Let cool and refridgerate.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Panna Cotta with Fresh Blueberries



I have been wanting to try to make panna cotta for forever. I love custards and I knew that this would be no different. I have surprisingly never even had panna cotta before this.

I was browsing through Giada DeLaurentiis's book, Everyday Italian and I saw that she has a recipe for this. I have had a lot of success with Giada's recipes in the past and I figured that this would be the same.

I was surprised to see how much honey was called for in the recipe and honestly it was too much for me. It called for 1/3 a cup in the batch. For anyone that likes honey, they would love this. I am just not a big fan of honey and will find a recipe with just sugar for next time.

The panna cotta was really creamy and I enjoyed the consistency. I decided to serve this with some blueberries sprinkled on top and am glad that I did. Any type of fresh berry would have been great.

If you would like to view the recipe for this then you can get it from the Food Network site here.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Magazine Monday's - Blueberry Crumb Bars

Like many people, I have an ever growing stack of magazine recipes that I have collected over the years and it seems like I never have (or make) time to try the recipes out. I read so many food blogs and I came across Cream Puffs in Venice. The creator of this blog, Yvonne does a post every Monday called "Magazine Mondays". She opens it up for other food bloggies (is that a word ha?) to participate with her and she posts their recipes on her site.

This is the first week that I am participating and I decided to try out a recipe from the July 2009 edition of Bon Appetit magazine. I made these and submitted them for a baked goods auction that my Aunt had at her church. I was really happy with how they turned out. I am actually making them again this afternoon for a meeting that my Mom is doing food for tomorrow. I love the shortbread like crust and the yummy fruit filling. I imagine that these can also be made with other fruits and jam's. I would love to try raspberry sometime.

Blueberry Crumb Bars
Bon Appetit, July 2009
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup old fashioned oats
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup sliced almonds
3 cups fresh blueberries or a 12-ounce package of frozen blueberries
1 cup blueberry preserves (10 - 11 oz)
1 TBL all purpose flour
1 tsp finely grated lemon peel

Prehead the oven to 375. Butter bottom of a 9x13 pan. Whisk flour, oats, sugar, salt, and cinnamon in a large bowl. Add 1 cup butter; rub in with fingertips until mixture sticks together in small clumps.
Transfer 2 cups to medium bowl; mix in almonds and reserve for topping.
Press remaining crumb mixture evenly onto bottom of prepared pan. Bake crust until golden and just firm to touch, about 22 minutes. Cool 10 minutes.
Mix all ingredients in medium bowl. Spread evenly over crust in pan, then sprinkle reserve topping over.
Bake bars until filling bubbles thickly at edges and topping is golden brown, about 40 minutes; cool in pan on rack.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

MSC November Challenge - Candied Sweet Potato Cupcakes

Well this month's MSC Cupcake Challange really snuck up on me. I have had so much going on that I lost track of time. I am so glad that I stuck with it and made this month's challenge though. Karen from Karen's Cookies, Cakes & More selected this months recipe. They are Candied Sweet Potato Cupcakes and they are amazing!

I was very curious to see how these were going to work out and if they were going to end up favoring a muffin in the end. This definitely is a light and fluffy cupcake and didn't favor a muffin at all...at least I didn't think so. I tend to underbake things by a couple of minutes to try to keep them moist and I think that helped in this case. These called for 28 minutes in the oven and I only kept them in there for 24 and they are perfect. My oven might be a little hot though...

The recipe calls for you to candy pecans and create a little marshmallow mountain that has been broiled on top to give it the effect of a sweet potato casserole. I chose to make some cream cheese frosting instead and sprinkled some roasted pecans on top. I would have candied the pecans if I had more time. I am happy that I went with the frosting. The cream cheese is amazing with the sweet potato.

My Mom does not like sweet potato at all typically and she loved these cupcakes. She said that they rank up with the best that I have made.

I hope that everyone had a great time making these and that you enjoy eating them as much as I have. Thanks again Karen for picking a great recipe!




Thursday, November 5, 2009

Chicken with Wild Mushroom and Balsamic Cream Sauce

I made my sisters favorite meal for dinner tonight. It's Chicken with Wild Mushroom and Balsamic Cream Sauce. I adapted this from Rachael Ray's recipe. My sister frequently begs me to make this dish for her. It's pretty good. I am usually not a big fan of Rachael's recipes, but she did good on this one.

It's basically a cream sauce that is made with mushrooms, balsamic vinegar, cream, etc. I always serve it with linguini and a salad on the side.

Chicken with Wild Mushroom and Balsamic Cream Sauce
(adapted from Rachael Ray)
3 chicken breasts
3 TBL olive oil
2 12 oz containers of mushrooms
2 shallots
3 garlic cloves
3 TBL butter
3 TBL flour
2 TBL of fresh thyme leaves
2 cups of chicken broth (1 can)
1 cup of milk
2 TBL balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup of heavy cream
pinch red pepper flakes
salt and pepper
3/4 cup shredded parmesean cheese
2 TBL fresh parsley, minced
- Clean, and slice the mushrooms. Remove the stems.
- Thinly slice the shallots and mince the garlic
- Heat oil in a skillet over medium high. Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Saute in the pan until cooked through. Remove from pan
- Add butter to the pan. Allow to melt and then add the mushrooms.
- Cook the mushrooms for about 3-4 minutes until cooked down and tender.
- Add the shallots and garlic and cook until shallots are translucent and tender.
- Add the red pepper flakes, thyme leaves and flour and stir for 30 seconds until flour soaks up the juices in the pan.
- Slowly add the chicken stock and incorporate. It will thicken because of the flour.
- Add the milk and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Add the balsamic vinegar and cream and combine well.
- Slice the chicken and add to the sauce. Allow to continue cooking for 5 minutes
- Add the parsley and parmesean cheese. Stir until melted and remove from heat.
- Serve over linguini or any other pasta that you have on hand.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Easy Green Chile Chicken Burritos

I will be the first to admit that this recipe is not authentic mexican food or is it the best mexican food that you will ever have. It is so easy though and a great make ahead dinner. I am always looking for items that I can put together over the weekend that I can just throw in the oven and heat up when I get home from work during the week. This is one of those recipes that is ideal for this and my family loves it.

The burritos stay really soft because of all of the enchilada sauce. They also have a ton of cheese in and on them. You start with shredded chicken and have have lots of options for cooking the chicken. If you want to go really easy then you can start with a rotisserie chicken. I have baked, grilled and sauteed the chicken in the past. I actually cooked the chicken in the crockpot this past time while I was at work.

I have never made this with red enchilada sauce, but it may taste good. I also use a monterey jack/colby mix for the cheese, but I imagine that it would be fine with cheddar as well. These are great served with salsa, sour cream and/or homemade guacamole if you have it.

Easy Green Chile Chicken Burritos
7 flour burrito sized flour tortillas
2 cans green enchilada sauce
4 cups of shredded cheese
3 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
2 green peppers, sliced
2 onions, sliced
1 tsp of season salt
3 TBL butter

- Saute the green peppers and onions in the butter and season salt. Cook until tender.
- Line a 9x13 pan with foil and spray with non-stick spray
- Pour about 1/4 cup of enchilada sauce in the pan and spread on the bottom.
- To build your burritos, take a flour tortilla and place about 1/4 cup of chicken in a line in the middle and about 1/8 of a cup of peppers and onion mix on top. Cover this with about half a handful of cheese and then about 2 TBL of sauce on top.
- Roll into burritos and place in the pan.
- Once you finish then you take the rest of the sauce and pour it overtop of the burritos. Then cover with the rest of the cheese.
- Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 20 minutes.
- Uncover and then bake for another 15 to 20 minutes until cheese is good and melted but not burnt.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Yay for Comfort Food!

Nothing hits the spot for me on a cold day like a bowl of steaming hot soup and a grilled cheese. My soup for this week was a pot of hearty Vegetable Beef soup that I made out of our leftover pot roast from Sunday night. I always make extra pot roast when I plan that meal so that I will have some extra for soup. It's a great soup to freeze for future days too. You can also easily use this recipe and not add beef if you would rather have a vegetarian version.

I believe that one of the key ingredients in the flavor of this soup is the leftover broth/cream of mushroom soup mixture that comes off of the pot roast after you bake it. For two pot roasts, I typically take a large can of cream of mushroom soup and add a can of chicken stock. Then I season it with salt and pepper and also cut up an onion in the pot roast. This all adds to the flavors of the leftover soup mixture at the end. I always make this the day after the pot roast so that I have time to refridgerate the leftover soup mixture overnight. This allows for the fat to collect on the top and gives me a chance to remove it.

As with all soups, you have a million variations that you can do with this. Here is the recipe for how I made this one...it makes a large stockpot full.

Vegetable Beef Soup
2 large carrots, diced
3 stalks celery, sliced
2 medium onions, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 TBL olive or vegetable oil
2 cups of leftover pot roast broth (fat skimmed) or 1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 large and 1 small can corn
1 large can of green beans, drained
1 large can of diced tomatoes
1 large can of V8 juice
6 cups of water
3 cups leftover pot roast (or whatever you have)
4 TBL sugar
1 TBL kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp season salt

- Heat the oil over medium high heat
- Saute the carrots, celery, onion and garlic until tender
- Add the pot roast broth/cream of mushroom soup and mix
- Add all of the remaining ingredients and cook for approximately an hour on low/medium until the vegetables are tender.
- If you would like pasta in the soup then add that about 15 minutes before finishing cooking so that it won't get too done.

Pineapple Upside Down Cake


One of my favorite desserts that my Memaw used to make for us was a Pineapple Upside Down cake. I love the moist cake that has absorbed a sweet combination of pineapple juice, brown sugar, and butter. She usually made one in a 9x13 pan with a cake mix. It was always so good.

I wanted to try to make a cake from scratch for mine so I went with the Pineapple Upside Down cake from The Joy of Cooking. It's really good!! Mine ended up very moist and the pineapple fit on top of it perfectly. I saw Paula Deen make a cake like this on her show before where she actually made a double layer cake with two cakes like this. I can see this cake going well at bake sales and baked goods auctions.

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake
adapted from The Joy of Cooking

7 slices canned pineapple
3 TBL butter
3/4 cup light brown sugar
13 maraschino cherries
3 large eggs
2 TBL buttermilk
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
6 TBL butter, softened
6 TBL buttermilk

- Preheat oven to 350. Place 3 TBL butter in the cake pan and place the pan in the oven until the butter is melted. Tilt the pan to coat all sides with butter. Sprinkle the brown sugar evenly over the bottom of the pan.
- Drain the pineapple and place one ring in the center of the pan and arrange 6 more around it. Place the cherries in the center of each ring and in the spaces between them.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, 2 TBL of buttermilk and vanilla.
- In a mixer bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, powder, soda, and salt. Add the 6 TBL of butter and the 6 TBL of buttermilk. Beat on low speed just until the flour is moistened. Increase the speed to medium and beat for exactly 1 1/2 minutes.
- Add 1/3 of the egg mixture at a time and beat for exactly 20 seconds and scrape the bowl after each addition.
- Scrape the batter over the fruit in the pan.
- Bake until a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean, about 35 - 40 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for 2 to 3 minutes before inverting.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Cinnamon Spiced Nuts

I love walking through some malls and/or a fair where they have booths set up with different vendors that sell various snack foods and smelling the yummy cinnamon scent coming from the spiced nut stand. There is something about a roasted pecan, almond or walnut with a cinnamon sugar glaze that smells amazing. I always enjoy getting a small bag of these roasted nuts when I have a chance.

I had some pecans on hand the week before last and decided that I would search for a recipe for Cinnamon Spiced Nuts to see if I can get anywhere close to the roasted ones that you can buy at various places. I used the recipe posted at Smitten Kitchen and it turned out really good! The nuts cooked perfectly and ended up light and tender. The glaze was perfect! I love a good combination of sweet and salty. These weren't too sweet for my liking, but they had a great blend of cinnamon, salt, and sugar. The only thing that I did differently from the recipe is that I used light brown sugar instead of dark brown sugar. I tend to not like a strong molasses taste.
So the verdict is that I will make these again. They make a great snack for work or at home. Unfortunately they didn't last long enough around my house for me to take them to work for too many days. My self-proclaimed nut hating Mom actually ate a snack bag full.