Sunday
Monday
Tuesday
Wednesday
Thursday
Friday
Saturday
crockpot country chicken stew
citrus chicken fajitas, black beans
pan roasted lemon-thyme chicken, mashed potatoes, broccoli
easiest ever carbonara, green beans
minestrone soup, mozzarella basil bread
pepperoni pizza with perfect pizza dough, salad
out for a holiday party

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Pumpkin Bread

IMG_4446xAfter the disappointing Pumpkin Cream Cheese muffins, I still had a pumpkin craving that hadn't been satiated. I combined several recipes I found on the internet, trying to make it spicy and sweet enough for my tastes. This was certainly a winner. I made two loaves, one with chocolate chips and one without. Of course Miss F preferred the chocolate chip version.
Pumpkin Bread
makes 2 loaves

3½ cups flour
2 ½ cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1½ teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 ½ teaspoons ground cloves
1½ cups of semi-sweet mini chocolate chips (optional)

4 eggs
½ cup canola oil
½ cup unsweetened applesauce
2/3 cup water
2 cups canned, plain pumpkin

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Combine all dry ingredients, except chocolate chips, in a large mixing bowl and mix well.

In a separate bowl, slightly beat the eggs with a fork or wire whisk. Add the remaining wet ingredients to the eggs and stir well. Gradually add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Stir just until evenly mixed. Fold in chocolate chips.

Coat 2 bread pans evenly with cooking spray. Pour half of the mixture into each pan.

Bake for 50-60 minutes.
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Monday, October 25, 2010

Candy Corn Cupcakes

I have seen these all over the internet and finally had an event to use them for. Our playgroup was having a Halloween party and I was the host. I figured the kids couldn't do too much damage with white frosting. Too bad the same cannot be said for me. I decided to use a medicine dropper to add the red food coloring. It was a total success, I got the perfect orange color. Just when I thought I had nailed it, the dropper flipped out of my hands sending red food coloring everywhere. Joy.
Candy Corn Cupcakes
makes 24 cupcakes or 48 mini cupcakes

1 box yellow cake mix
red food coloring
yellow food coloring
72 candy corns for regular size cupcakes
48 candy corns for mini cupcakes

1/2 cup butter, softened
3 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons milk

Preheat the oven to 350. Prepare the cake batter per the package directions. Divide equally into two bowls. In one bowl, add yellow and red food coloring drop by drop, to acheive a bright orange color. Pour two tablespoons (teaspoons for mini cupcakes) of the plain batter into a cupcake pan with paper liners. Add two tablespoons (two teaspoons for mini cupcakes) of the orange batter on top. Bake per package instructions.

Beat the butter over medium speed. Gradually add the powdered sugar and milk until icing reaches desired consistency. Frost the cooled cupcakes and top with the candy corns (3 per regular, 1 per mini).
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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Pork Kebabs with Cucumber Yogurt Sauce

I paired this with homemade pita bread and it was absolutely delicious. It almost rivals the gyros I love so much at Niko Nikos.  The best part was that Miss F gobbled up the pork as if they were her beloved chicken nuggets.  She loves gyros meat, so the flavors were very similar.  This recipe will be going into regular rotation at our house, but the homemade pita is a must for them.  I broiled the kebabs, but they would also be fantastic on the grill.  The "yogurt sauce" is pretty much my go to for tzatiki sauce.  If you use plain yogurt instead of Greek yogurt, drain it over a bowl fitted with a fine mssh strainer lined with a paper towel over night to drain the excess water out.
Pork Kebabs with Yogurt Sauce
serves 4

1 cup red wine
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. kosher salt, plus more to taste
1 tsp. dried thyme
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
3 cloves garlic, smashed
1 pound pork, cut into 1 1⁄2" cubes
Freshly ground pepper, to taste

1 cucumber
1 ½ cups yogurt
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Kosher salt, to taste

4 pita breads, warmed

Whisk together the wine, oregano, cumin, salt, thyme, cinnamon, and garlic in a large bowl. Add the cubes of pork and toss well to combine. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside to let marinate at room temperature for at least 2 hours or in the refrigerator overnight.

Meanwhile, make the yogurt sauce: Trim the ends off the cucumber and peel it. Cut the cucumber in half lengthwise. Using a small spoon, scrape out and discard the seeds from each half. Finely chop the cucumber and transfer it to a medium bowl. Stir in the yogurt, garlic, and season with salt. Cover the sauce with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.

Arrange an oven rack 7–8" from the broiler element and heat broiler. Remove the pork from the marinade (reserve marinade), thread the cubes onto 4 metal or wooden skewers, and arrange on a foil-lined baking sheet. (If using wooden skewers, make sure to cover the ends completely with the pork cubes, to prevent the skewers from burning.) Season the pork with salt and pepper. Pour the marinade into a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Broil the kebabs, generously basting with the marinade occasionally, until browned on all sides and cooked through, 20–25 minutes. (Alternatively, the kebabs may be cooked over a medium-hot grill for the same amount of time.)

Serve with the yogurt sauce and the pita.

Adapted from Saveur
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Monday, October 18, 2010

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

I adapted these from a Martha Stewart recipe. Growing up, my mom would make these amazing chocolate chunk cookies. Everyone would always rave about them. The secret behind them is that they were from a bag mix. And they tasted homemade. These are almost as good as the bag mix, if I splurged for chocolate chunks, I am sure they would be a close rival.  The best part of these cookies is that I always have the ingredients on hand, thanks to the jumbo chocolate chip bag from Costco.
Double Chocolate Chip Cookies
makes one dozen

1 1/3 cups semisweet chocolate chips
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2/3 cup all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
¾ cup packed light-brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat 1 1/3 cups chocolate chips and butter in a microwave-safe bowl in 20-second increments, stirring in between, until almost melted; do not overheat. In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.

In a mixing bowl, beat eggs, brown sugar, and vanilla on high speed until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low; beat in melted chocolate. Mix in flour mixture until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips.

Drop heaping tablespoons of dough 2 to 3 inches apart onto baking sheets. Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until cookies are shiny and crackly yet soft in centers, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool on sheets 10 minutes; with a thin metal spatula, transfer to racks to cool completely.

Adapted from Martha Stewart
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Thursday, October 14, 2010

Succulent Braised Pork

C loves anything braised. When we are out to eat, if there is a braised item on the menu, I know that is what he is eating. I saw this on Melissa d'Arabian's show $10 Dollar Dinners and I knew I had to try it. It seemed so similar to my favorite Short Ribs recipe, which is a big winner in our house. C came home from work stuffed from lunch, so he didn't have any fresh. I was out for sushi the next night and he had leftovers with Miss F. He told me the next day that he found it odd...whatever, this recipe was delicious. So discouraging, especially when I made them special for him.
Braised Pork
serves 6

2 pounds pork shoulder, cut into 6 large chunks
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup red wine
1 1/2 cups beef stock or broth
1 bunch parsley stems, tied with string
2 bay leaves
1 cup water

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Pat the pork dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.

In a large Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat, and working in batches brown the meat on all sides until a golden crust forms. Transfer the pork to a plate. To the pan add the onion, celery, and carrot and sweat until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and sweat another 2 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 3 minutes to cook off the raw flavor and caramelize it. Sprinkle with the flour and cook another 2 minutes to cook off its raw flavor. Whisk in the wine and reduce it by half. Return the pork to the Dutch oven, then stir in the beef stock, parsley stems, and bay leaves. Add the water if liquid does not come up to the top of the pork. Do not cover the pork with liquid. Cover the pan and place it in the oven to braise until the meat is fork tender, about 3 hours. Taste and season with more salt and pepper, if needed. Transfer to a serving platter and serve.

Source: Melissa d’Arabian
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Monday, October 11, 2010

Roast Chicken with Butternut Squash

It's fall! Well, fall in Houston equals summer in most of the United States. We have been enjoying sunny days with temperatures in the 80s. It is perfection. I still want to cook with the fall spirit, so I picked up a butternut squash at the grocery. I love butternut squash, I just wish it weren't so expensive. It feels strange to spend $5 on one squash, but only $2 on the chicken quarters. Miss F gobbled the chicken up and C went back for seconds. Success! A good tip for cleaning the squash is to use a melon baller to scoop out the seeds. This recipe was adapted from Food and Wine.
Roast Chicken with Butternut Squash
serves 4

4 chicken quarters
3 tablespoons olive oil
¾ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
1 large butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 teaspoon dried sage

Heat the oven to 450°. Coat the chicken quarters with 1 tablespoon of the oil, ½ teaspoon of the salt, and 1/8 teaspoon of the pepper. Arrange the chicken quarters, skin-side up, in a large roasting pan. Toss the cubes of butternut squash with the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil, ¼ teaspoon of salt, and 1/8 teaspoon of pepper, and the sage. Add the cubes of squash to the roasting pan.

Cook, stirring the squash occasionally, for 30 to 40 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through.
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Thursday, October 7, 2010

Mini Blueberry Muffins

In honor of the teeny tiny blueberries I got on my last Costco run, these mini blueberry muffins suited them perfectly. Baking the blueberries brings out their sweetness since they weren't super tasty on their own, Miss F rejected them on more than one occasion. She did not reject the muffins, they were gobbled up with glee. She loves anything that is teeny tiny in size, perfect for her!
Mini Blueberry Muffins
makes 30

2 cups flour
½ teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons baking powder
½ cup sugar
2 tablespoons butter
¼ cup natural applesauce
1 egg
¾ cup milk
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

Preheat the oven to 350.

Sift together the flour, salt and baking powder. Cream the butter and the sugar. Add the applesauce and egg and mix to combine. Add the flour mixture alternately with the milk and mix until it forms a smooth batter. Gently fold the berries into the batter.

Spoon the batter into lined mini muffin tins. Bake the muffins for 10 to 12 minutes, until golden brown.
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Monday, October 4, 2010

Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies

I attended a baby shower a couple weeks back and they served the most amazing brownie cupcakes. Each one was filled with a Reeses Peanut Butter cup. One of the best combinations in the dessert world and I may have eaten one or two more than I should have. I didn't have any Reeses Cups here at the house today, but I still had the craving. So I improvised...with help from Martha Stewart.  C liked these...of course he piled on Butterfinger ice cream on top.
Peanut Butter Brownies
adapted from Martha Stewart

Batter:
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, plus more for pan
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
2/3 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Peanut Butter filling:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
½ cup confectioners' sugar
¾ cup smooth peanut butter
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan.

Make batter: Put butter and chocolate chips in a heatproof medium bowl set over a pan of simmering water; stir until melted. Let cool slightly. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Whisk granulated sugar into chocolate mixture. Add eggs, and whisk until mixture is smooth. Stir in vanilla. Add flour mixture; stir until well incorporated.

Make filling: Stir together butter, confectioners' sugar, peanut butter, salt, and vanilla in a bowl until smooth.

Pour one-third of batter into prepared pan; spread evenly with a rubber spatula. Drop dollops of peanut butter filling (about 1 tablespoon each) on top of batter, spacing about 1 inch apart. Drizzle remaining batter on top, and gently spread to fill pan. Drop dollops of remaining filling on top. Gently swirl peanut butter filling into batter with a butter knife, running the knife lengthwise and crosswise through layers.

Bake until a cake tester inserted into brownies (avoid center and edges) comes out with a few crumbs but is not wet, about 45 minutes. Let cool slightly in pan, about 15 minutes. Cut into squares.
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