November 30, 2008

Barefoot Bloggers- Mexican Chicken Tortilla Soup

Soup weather has finally arrived around here and we've been enjoying soup for dinner at least once or twice a week. This delicious Barefoot Bloggers recipe, chosen by Judy, made a particularly delicious meal. I modified the recipe to our tastes (more tomatoes, other chiles, etc) and loved every bite- especially the leftovers. I took a hint from Ellie Krieger and made baked tortilla strips with corn tortillas I sliced, tossed, and sprinkled with salt before baking. They were yummy and a great addition to the soup. We also served up lots of cilantro (I'm sure some of you think it tastes like metal or soap, but growing up in Arizona, I can't get enough!), avocados, and cheese. Next time I'll add black beans and pepper jack cheese (how bad can that be, right Ina?)

I'd also like to thank Peggy for this nice award and her kind words. I so appreciate the wonderful blogging community and love this new hobby. Thanks Peggy!

Mexican Chicken Soup
adapted from Ina Garten
2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
Good olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups chopped onions (2 onions)
1 cup chopped celery (2 stalks)
2 cups chopped carrots (4 carrots)
5 large cloves garlic, chopped
2 1/2 quarts chicken stock, preferably homemade
2 cans petite diced tomatoes
1 can green chiles
1 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 cup frozen corn
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves, optional
6 (6-inch) fresh white corn tortillas

For serving: sliced avocado, sour cream, grated Cheddar cheese, and tortilla chips

Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add the onions, celery, and carrots and cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, or until the onions start to brown. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the chicken stock, tomatoes with their juice, jalapenos, green chiles, hot sauce, cumin, and about 1 tablespoon salt (depending on the saltiness of the chicken stock) and 1 teaspoon pepper. Bring the soup to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 25 minutes. Add the shredded chicken and season to taste.

Meanwhile, brush tortillas with oil and cut in 1/2, then cut them crosswise into 1/2-inch strips. Bake at 350 in a nice flat layer until crisp (about 10 minutes). Serve the soup hot topped with frozen corn, sliced avocado, a dollop of sour cream, grated Cheddar cheese, and homemade tortilla strips or broken tortilla chips.

November 25, 2008

Easy Homemade Dinner (and Orange) Rolls

I can't believe it, but Thanksgiving is already here. That's not as shocking as the realization that follows- Christmas is coming! With the start of this wonderful season, I'm reminded of one of my favorite things to bake. This roll recipe comes from a family friend and neighbor who happens to be the best preschool teacher in the world. She's infinitely patient but you won't have to be to enjoy these rolls.

Peggy, the best baker I know, sharing her secrets... don't tell her I told!

I learned this recipe when I was about 10 at a church mother daughter activity. It's so simple I never understood people's fear of yeast (I do now though, don't worry). However, with some easy ingredients that are probably in your pantry, a big bowl, and a fork, you can have delicious rolls in no time (making the batter takes less that 10 minutes!)

Even better, they are easily adapted to my other friend's world famous orange rolls. She did mention several times while she helped me make them that there are no calories in orange rolls. Enjoy and hop on the treadmill the next morning.

Dissolve the yeast. Combine melted butter, sugar, and salt.

Add eggs and beat into mixture.

Stir the yeast mixture into the bowl.

Dump in the flour.

Stir with a fork for a minute or two until combined (this picture shows about half way done, don't worry about kneading or anything. These are easy rolls!)

Put the dough into a bowl with a little oil and cover with a dish towel (don't click on that photo, you'll see flour lumps... don't worry though, they disappear later).

Let rise until doubled. It tastes good too, if you aren't too afraid of salmonella, which obviously isn't a worry at my place.

Divide dough into thirds and roll out. Spread with softened butter (go easy if you'd like, or add cinnamon sugar, herbs, whatever strikes your fancy).

Fold over into thirds, cut into strips, and tie each piece into a little knot. Forget to take pictures (and it's probably not such a bad thing considering how messy my hands were!)

Orange rolls are even better (though admitedly more of an indulgence!)

Easy Homemade Rolls
from Rita Lyon

1 cake or 1 tablespoon yeast
1 cup warm water
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup melted butter
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 cups flour
oil for rolling dough and greasing pan


Dissolve yeast into warm water (a little warmer than your body, but not too hot to kill the yeast). Sprinkle sugar on top of yeast and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine melted butter, sugar, eggs, and salt. Mix with a fork until combined. Sir in frothy and dissolved yeast mixture. Add flour and mix together well with a fork for a bout one minute (it should be fairly smooth but don't worry about kneading it). Place in a greased bowl and cover with a dish towel. Let rise until doubled.

For dinner rolls:

1 stick of butter, softened

Divide dough into thirds. Pour a little oil onto your hands, pin, and counter (don't use flour). Roll out one piece into a nice rectangle, about 1/4 inch thick. Fold into thirds and slice into pieces about 3/4 inch wide. Tie each piece into a little knot, place on a greased or lined baking sheet, and let rise until doubled. Bake at 375 for 8- 10 minutes, until golden brown.

For sweet orange rolls:
from Peggy Leatham

1 stick of butter, melted
1 1/2 cups sugar
zest of 2 oranges
3 tablespoons fresh squeezed orange juice

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and stir until a thick paste forms (if too runny, add more sugar). Roll dough into a large rectangle (about 12 x 18) and spread paste over the dough. Roll up (like cinnamon rolls) and slice dough about 3/4 inch thick. Place each piece into a very well greased muffin tin.

Let rise until doubled.

Bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes. Begin checking the rolls around 12 minutes and watch closely, as they will brown quickly (note the difference of color in the two batches in this picture).

Remove the rolls from oven once they are browned and immediately flip onto a cooling rack place atop parchment paper. Let cool and serve inverted. The juice will drip down to make a nice glaze. Serve warm.

November 19, 2008

Williams Sonoma Spatulas

I've been devoted to a KitchenAid spatula for exactly four years since I first took my cooking class in college. Each of the kitchens was stocked with two of these perfect scrapers-great for cleaning out the bowl of the KitchenAid, safe for nonstick pans, and awesome for omelets. I looked all over Utah Valley for one of my own and tried 5 or 6 stores. I'm not sure why I didn't just check Amazon but I eventually found them at Robinson's May (haha) and bought two for myself for Christmas. I've probably purchased 10 since then for gifts and for my drawer (one just wasn't enough- and at only five bucks at Marshall's I needed more). However, I just got the Williams Sonoma Catalog and suddenly I'm changing my tune. I'm fighting every urge to order the regular set of three and the minis personalized to say "AnneStrawberry."

Seriously though, can you ever have too many spatulas?

November 18, 2008

TWD- Arborio Rice Pudding

You know how food preferences tend to linger from your childhood, long after you should have gotten over them? Well, I still hold to my coconut aversion, however, avocados, rice pudding, and almost all nuts have been cleared off the bad list. It makes me wonder what else I'm holding out on that I might love. What do you like that you've avoiding since your childhood? Am I the only crazy one?

Well, with rice pudding back into the menu, I was excited to make this week's Tuesdays with Dorie selection, chosen by Isabelle. Since my hubby can't have chocolate, I was happy to see that all it took to convert this pudding over was a quick stir of chopped chocolate into the final product. Like many people mentioned, my pudding was more of a rice soup before the refrigeration. I was hoping it would thicken up but it sure didn't! As for flavor, I liked the vanilla better, especially with a sprinkling of cinnamon, even though the texture wasn't quite right.

Note- Dorie says the timing is off on the recipe in the book and too cook it for 55, not 35, minutes. I'd recommend a little spurt of high heat at the end to thicken it up, or maybe even putting the lid on for a few like my mom kept mentioning every time she saw the uncovered pot. I think I'll be trying out my Grandma's recipe soon- it's made with condensed milk, topped with meringue, and baked until it's a bit firm (though I'll still leave out the raisins... I haven't grown out of that aversion yet!) Thanks Isabelle (and Dorie) for the motivation to try something new!

Coming Next Week- Thanksgiving Twofer Pie!

November 16, 2008

Ina's Chicken Piccata

Last week's herb roasted onions were a hit but the star of the show was definetely the Chicken Piccata. With simple ingredients I almost always have on hand, this was a fabulous dinner. It does take a good amount of dishes with the breading, but it's delicious and worth it!

I'll go so far as to say I like this even better than Ina's Chicken Parmesan, which we love around here. The flavor of the sauce is delicate and delicious. Next time I make this, I'll include some mashed potatoes. I think my husband will be in heaven (thanks Ina!)

Chicken Piccata

from Ina Garten
2 split (1 whole) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 extra-large egg
1/2 tablespoon water
3/4 cup seasoned dry bread crumbs (whole wheat)
Good olive oil
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons), lemon halves reserved
1/2 cup dry white wine (I used white grape juice)
Sliced lemon, for serving
Chopped fresh parsley leaves, for serving

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Place each chicken breast between 2 sheets of parchment paper or plastic wrap and pound out to 1/4-inch thick. Sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper.

Mix the flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper in a shallow plate. In a second plate, beat the egg and 1/2 tablespoon of water together. Place the bread crumbs on a third plate. Dip each chicken breast first in the flour, shake off the excess, and then dip in the egg and bread crumb mixtures.

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large saute pan over medium to medium-low heat. Add the chicken breasts and cook for 2 minutes on each side, until browned. Place them on the sheet pan and allow them to bake for 5 to 10 minutes while you make the sauce.

For the sauce, wipe out the saute pan with a dry paper towel. Over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter and then add the lemon juice, wine, the reserved lemon halves, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Boil over high heat until reduced in half, about 2 minutes. Off the heat, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and swirl to combine. Discard the lemon halves and serve 1 chicken breast on each plate. Spoon on the sauce and serve with a slice of lemon and a sprinkling of fresh parsley.

November 13, 2008

Barefoot Bloggers- Herb Roasted Onions

This weeks Barefoot Bloggers recipe, chosen by Kelly, came at the perfect time. I had just watched the episode where Ina makes this dish to serve with Chicken Piccata on Friday (aka Roast Chicken Night at the Garten's) for Jeffrey. I love episodes where Jeffrey comes on as the dutiful, happy, appreciative husband. I know it bugs some people but it makes me happy to see him loving Ina and her cooking! So, I decided to make the chicken piccata too for my hubby since they looked wonderful together. The flavors were perfect together. These onions have a surprisingly sweet taste and awesome texture. To me, they taste a lot like onion rings without the fried part (if that makes any sense!) These are a keeper and will definitely be made again at our house.

Some people mentioned not having enough dressing. Naturally, I didn't measure any of these ingredients since I was working on this while I was balancing my little guy on my hip. I probably made a little extra dressing (and know I put in too much mustard on accident). However, I made my dressing in a good sized bowl and then tossed the onions in with the dressing. I used a slotted spoon to scoop the onions onto my Silpat lined sheet and reserved the dressing left in the bowl to pour over the onions once they came out of the oven. There was plenty of vinaigrette left and I saved a bowl or two to clean (good thing when you're also making breaded chicken... that always yields a delicious dinner and dozens of dishes!)

Herb-Roasted Onions

by Ina Garten

2 red onions
1 yellow onion
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (a bit more)
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard (measure carefully! you don't want too much)
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup good olive oil
1/2 tablespoon minced fresh parsley leaves (a bit more)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Remove the stem end of each onion and carefully slice off the brown part of the root end, leaving the root intact. Peel the onion. Stand each onion root end up on a cutting board and cut the onion in wedges through the root. Place the wedges in a bowl.

For the dressing, combine the lemon juice, mustard, garlic, thyme, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Slowly whisk in the olive oil. Pour the dressing over the onions and toss well.

With a slotted spoon, transfer the onions to a sheet pan, reserving the vinaigrette that remains in the bowl. Bake the onions for 30 to 45 minutes, until tender and browned. Toss the onions once during cooking. Remove from the oven, and drizzle with the reserved dressing. Sprinkle with parsley, season to taste and serve warm or at room temperature.

P.S. ... Have you heard about Shabby Apple? They have fabulous dresses and great accessories. They are running a contest now to describe your perfect outfit and what you'd wear it for. My best friend is the running and needs your vote for her Times Square Countdown vignette. While you're there, get yourself a new little black dress. I love mine that Kara gave me for my birthday.

November 11, 2008

TWD- Kugelhopf

Before this week's Tuesday with Dorie recipe, I had actually never heard of kugelhopf. Naturally, I went to Wikipedia first, and learned this:

A Gugelhupf or Kugelhupf is a southern German, Austrian, Swiss and Alsatian term for a type of cake. In the Czech Republic it is called b√°bovka, in Poland it is called babka, in Croatia, Slovenia, Hungary, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Serbia, and it is called kuglof. It has the general shape of a torus, like a donut. As with the Jewish dish kugel, the name 'gugelhupf' is related to the Middle High German word Kugel meaning "ball" or "globe".
A common Gugelhupf consists of soft yeast dough and contains raisins, almonds and Kirschwasser cherry brandy. Some also contain candied fruits and nuts. It is baked in a special circular pan, originally made of enameled pottery, now also used for making Bundt cakes. It is usually eaten for breakfast or a coffee break.

Unfortunately, this breakfast treat takes hours to rise and then some time baking. It should also be consumed immediately after baking and I just wasn't going to wake up at 2:00 AM to work on it. So, we had this as an after dinner snack.

This came together quickly and reminded me a lot of making brioche (but with less butter!) The end result was a little dry and bland for me so I think I will stick with brioche next time I'm looking for a delicious, buttery bread. However, I think I'll try some kugelhopf ideas like dried fruit, powdered sugar, or even marmalade with the brioche. Yum. Maybe I'll even make my brioche in a fancy pan next time to get the looks and the flavor!

Check our Yolanda's blog for the recipe. And... while you're at it- make some brioche! It's ridiculously delicious. Brioche Raisin Snails were my first recipe after joining TWD and still my favorite. I'd even go so far to say that they are worth getting up at 2:00 to enjoy in time for breakfast!

Happy Veteran's Day everyone!

November 4, 2008

TWD- Rugelach

Before this week's Tuesdays with Dorie, I had never eaten Rugelach. I wasn't quite sure what to expect, but I had seen Ina make it, and with cream cheese, butter, nuts, and chocolate, "how bad can that be?" Another wonderful aspect to this recipe is the room for experimentation- depending on what's in the pantry, you could come up with endless flavors. I stuck with what I had on hand since running to the store for last minute ingredients is starting to become a habit for me (and is not so good for the budget!) With the food processor, the dough came together quickly and was nice and sticky when I put it in the fridge. It rolled out great and wasn't too sticky after I floured my board, though I would say if you have problems with this dough being too dry not to be afraid to mix just a bit longer than you would for a pie crust. Mine still came out nice and flaky and didn't crumble when rolled.

Of course, it was delicious. Dorie never goes wrong and this recipe proved quick, easy, and tasty. Since my wonderful Tall Man cannot eat chocolate, I made half of the rolled out dough as the recipe states (raspberry jam, black currants, pecans, and chocolate) and the other half with Heath Toffee bit subbed for the chocolate. I think both versions were tasty but next time I'd like to try apricot jam (and certainly a jam I'm fond of, as the flavor was very pronounced in my cookies). The toffee was yummy and blended right in for a nice flavor and texture.

To see the recipe and some of Dorie's tips, check out NPR and her site. You can also see Piggy's Cooking Journal for the recipe. Thanks for a fun choice!

November 3, 2008

Nie's Vintage Cheery Apple Pie (and Galette)

Since the theme for this month's Pies with That Fashion theme was announced, I've been mulling over several ideas. The first interpretation of Fashion that came into my mind was very Coco Chanel. Since I was recently in Paris, I thought I'd do something black, sleek, and classy- maybe a Devil Wears Prada Pie. Then, I thought I would go with purple since it seems to be everywhere lately.

However, I'm getting ready to move into a new house and every home magazine I see seems more important suddenly. I've fallen in love with bright, whimsical vintage decorating. After spending considerable time reading the NieNie Dialogues and starting at a 40 pound box of apples, Nie's Vintage Cheery Apple Pie was born. If you haven't heard about NieNie, I'd encourage you to see her blog or her sister's wonderful site, C Jane Enjoy It.

NieNie (Stephanie Nielson), who lives only a few miles from me, and her husband were in a plane crash in August and suffered serious burns and their flight instructor died. They are both recovering well but the process is a long one. Since then, I've read their blogs and I feel like NieNie has become my friend. Her life is not that different than mine- same community, same church, same red lipstick, same "career" as a stay at home mom. However, her perspective and attitude is amazing. Reading about her life inspires me to be a better mother, wife, and neighbor. Her sense of style is also inspirational- beautiful colors, patterns- everything.

So, for my vintage pie, I thought I would go with yellow and red- colors that seem to pop up everywhere on Nie's blog and simple heart cutouts. For the yellow, I used Fuji apples (from Utah, like Nie!). For red, I added in dried cherries that remind me of polka dots. I also tried two different shapes- one traditional pie and one galette, which seems a little more whimsical and somehow more appropriate (especially atop my red glass platter). I used my Edible Markers to draw an "N" on one of the hearts.

Now I've never met NieNie, but I hope she'd approve. And I'd love to share this pie with her someday. If you'd like to learn more about NieNie and her family and what you can do to help, check out Nie Recovery. And then make a nice pie or vegetarian dinner and go share with a neighbor. As far as I can see, that's the NieNie thing to do. You can also see her simple, healthy, and delicious recipes on CuisineNie.

Last Month's Pie's with That Entry- Emma Hearts Knightley Pie

Stay tuned for next month's theme- I'm working on a write up now and hope everyone loves it!

Nie's Vintage Cheery Apple Pie

Good for Almost Everything Pie Dough
adapted from Dorie Greenspan

3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks very cold unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-size pieces
3/8 cup very cold (frozen is even better) Crisco (plain, not butter flavored), cut into 4 pieces
About 1/2 cup ice water

Put the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor fitted with a metal blade; pulse just to combine the ingredients. Drop in the butter and shortening and pulse only until the butter and shortening are cut into the flour. Don't overdo the mixing—what you're aiming for is to have pieces the size of fat green peas and others the size of barley.

Pulsing the machine on and off, add 3 tablespoons of the water—add a little water and pulse once; add some more water and pulse again; and keep going that way. Then use a few long pulses to get the water into the flour. If after a dozen or so pulses, the dough doesn't look evenly moistened or form soft curds, pulse in as much of the remaining water, or even a few drops more, to get a dough that will stick together when pinched. If you've got big pieces of butter, that's fine. The dough is ready and should be scraped out of the work bowl and on to a smooth work surface. (be careful not too add too much water- if the dough looks dry after adding most of the water, pinch it with your hands to check if it's coming together, and finish combining it by hand)

Shape the dough into a disk and wrap it. Refrigerate the dough at least 1 hour before rolling. The dough can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 1 month.

Apple Filling:
from Janet Stocks
About 3 pounds Fuji apples
3 Tablespoons Cornstarch
3/4 Cup Sugar
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
Dash of Nutmeg (optional)
1/2 Cup Cold Water
1/2 Cup Apple Juice
2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
1/4 Cup Dried Cherries

Peel, core, and slice apples into medium, microwave proof bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave on high for five minutes. Let cool slightly then drain liquid off apples.

Combine dry ingredients in medium saucepan. Add water, apple juice, and lemon juice and cook on medium heat, whisking, until thick and bubbly.

Fold in drained apple slices and dried cherries. Turn into unbaked pie crust, cover with top crust, and seal edges well. Prick and decorate as desired. Brush pie lightly with milk or egg wash and sprinkle with decorating sugar or cinnamon sugar.

Bake at 400 for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 and bake for 30-40 minutes until crust is golden brown. Serve with ice cream.

For Galette:
(directions adapted from Dorie Greenspan)

Roll the dough into a large 1/8 inch thick circle. Using a pastry wheel or a paring knife, time the dough to a 13 inch diameter. Using a cake pan or a pot lid as a template and the tip of a blunt kitchen knife as a marker, lightly trace a 9 inch circle in the center of the dough- this is the area for the filling. Sprinkle a few tablespoons of breadcrumbs within the circle (optional, but a good idea) and then scoop about 2 cups of prepared apple pie filling onto the dough, taking care not to include too much liquid. Gently fold over the crust in a circular motion. As you lift the dough and place it on the filling, it will pleat. If you’re not in a rush, freeze the galette for 15 minutes to give the crust a rest.

Brush the dough very lightly with a little water, then sprinkle it with a teaspoon or two of sugar. Bake galette for 25 minutes, or until the crust is brown and the fruit is soft.