Friday, May 25, 2012

Brie En Croute

Brie En Croute

Serves a crowd.

I know few people who dislike brie en croute.  VERY few women who dislike brie en croute.  It's just so creamy and wonderful and such a great appetizer.  Make this for your new girls night, or pop in the oven before your next party.  It's fab.
Source: Paula Deen

1 sheet frozen puff pastry (package comes with 2 sheets)
1 T. butter
1/4 c. chopped pecans or walnuts, if desired
1 small (8-ounce) wheel Brie
1/2 c. raspberry jam
2 eggs, beaten

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Defrost 1 sheet of puff pastry for approximately 15 to 20 minutes and unfold (place remaining sheet in freezer for later use). Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Saute nuts in butter until golden brown, approximately 5 minutes. Place nuts on top of Brie and spread jam on top of nuts. Gently roll pastry with a rolling pin to increase the size of the sheet 1 to 2 inches in each direction. Brush both sides of the sheet with beaten egg. Center the wheel of Brie on top of the pastry sheet. Bring all four corners of the sheet together above Brie and twist slightly to form a "bundle." Tie gathered pastry with kitchen/cooking string (tie string in the form of a bow), arranging pastry until you are satisfied with the "bundle" shape. Place "bundle" on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 20 to 25 minutes until pastry is golden brown. Serve with top-quality crackers.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Bacon, Egg, and Toast Cups

Bacon, Egg, and Toast Cups

Makes 6 cups.

These are fun and great for crowds of all ages.  They combine three breakfast greats -- bacon, eggs, and toast. 
Source: Martha Stewart

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
6 slices white or whole-wheat sandwich bread
6 slices bacon
6 large eggs
Coarse salt and ground pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly butter 6 standard muffin cups. With a rolling pin, flatten bread slices slightly and, with a 4 1/4-inch cookie cutter, cut into 8 rounds. Cut each round in half, then press 2 halves into each muffin cup, overlapping slightly and making sure bread comes up to edge of cup. Use extra bread to patch any gaps. Brush bread with remaining butter.

In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium, until almost crisp, 4 minutes, flipping once. (It will continue to cook in the oven.) Lay 1 bacon slice in each bread cup and crack an egg over each. Season with salt and pepper. Bake until egg whites are just set, 20 to 25 minutes. Run a small knife around cups to loosen toasts. Serve immediately.

Standard muffin pans come in 6- or 12-cup size; if baking 6 items in a 12-cup pan, leave empty space in between. Nonstick pans are nice but not essential. Beware of very thin pans, which often lead to burning. Place pans on a baking sheet to make them easier to get in and out of the oven.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Chipotle Taco Salad

Chipotle Taco Salad

Serves 4-6.

For gluten-free instructions, visit the blog link below!  And even though I tried something new by using ground beef, I will go back to chicken next time.  You just can't beat the grilled chicken in this recipe!
Slightly adapted from: Bake, Eat, Repeat blog

2/3 c. reduced fat or light sour cream
1/3 c. fresh cilantro, chopped
4 t. fresh squeezed lime juice
1-2 T. minced Chipotle chile canned in adobo sauce
1 t. ground cumin
1 t. chili powder
1/4 t. salt

3 c. shredded lettuce
2 c. chopped chicken breast or ground beef
1 c. grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
1/2 c. diced avocado
1/3 c. thinly sliced red onion
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained

Mix together all ingredients for the sauce, and pour on the bottom of a large bowl (Dressing will be too thick to "drizzle" on top afterward).
Layer salad ingredients over top of sauce. Stir gently to coat salad mixture with sauce.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Forgotten Garden

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

Best book I've read in a while.  Go read it.

Book description from Amazon:

From the #1 internationally bestselling author of The House at Riverton, a novel that takes the reader on an unforgettable journey through generations and across continents as two women try to uncover their family’s secret past
A tiny girl is abandoned on a ship headed for Australia in 1913. She arrives completely alone with nothing but a small suitcase containing a few clothes and a single book—a beautiful volume of fairy tales. She is taken in by the dockmaster and his wife and raised as their own. On her twenty-fi rst birthday, they tell her the truth, and with her sense of self shattered and very little to go on, "Nell" sets out to trace her real identity. Her quest leads her to Blackhurst Manor on the Cornish coast and the secrets of the doomed Mountrachet family. But it is not until her granddaughter, Cassandra, takes up the search after Nell’s death that all the pieces of the puzzle are assembled. A spellbinding tale of mystery and self-discovery, The Forgotten Garden will take hold of your imagination and never let go.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Asian-Glazed Chicken

Asian-Glazed Chicken

Serves 4.

Delicious!  We loved this!  A word of warning, though -- the sauce is strong, so don't just dump it on. 

As you can see, the original recipe calls for drumsticks.  You could easily sub another bone-in chicken, such as thighs, without having to alter the cooking time too much.  I used boneless breasts, because it was what I had on hand, and it worked great, but I had to reduce the cooking time to avoid an overcooked chicken breast.  Remove the chicken after it is cooked through, which occured for me conveniently after the ~20 minutes of simmering.  I kept the chicken warm under tented foil, and then continued to boil the sauce to reduce it.
8 medium chicken drumsticks, skin removed
olive oil spray
1 cup water
1 tbsp Sriracha hot sauce (more or less to taste)
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup soy sauce
4 tsp agave nectar (or sugar)
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp ginger, grated
2 tbsp chives or scallions, chopped
1 tsp sesame seeds

In a heavy large saucepan, brown chicken on high for 3-4 minutes with a little spray oil. Add water, balsamic, soy sauce, agave, garlic, ginger, hot sauce and cook on high until liquid comes to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered for about 20 minutes. Remove cover and bring heat to high, allowing sauce to reduce down, about 8-10 minutes, until it becomes a thick glaze, turning chicken occasionally. (Keep an eye on glaze, you don't want it to burn when it start becoming thick) Transfer chicken to a platter and pour glaze on top. Top with chives and sesame seeds and serve.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Strawberry Bread for Mother's Day

Strawberry Bread for Mother's Day

Makes 3 mini loaves.

It's strawberry season. And you know a mom that would probably appreciate a freshly-baked loaf of strawberry bread. And since this recipe makes 3 mini loaves, you can make THREE moms happy.
Inspired by: Ohio P.E.O. Cooks II cookbook

3/4 c. dark brown sugar, packed
1/3 c. vegetable/canola oil
1 egg
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1 t. vanilla
1/2 c. sour milk (1/2 c. regular milk + 1 t. white vinegar)
1-1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. fresh strawberries, chopped
1/4 c. granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Beat together brown sugar, oil, and egg. Mix soda, salt, vanilla, and sour milk in separate bowl. Combine with first mixture. Stir in flour and strawberries. Pour batter into three greased mini loaf pans. Sprinkle top with granulated sugar. Bake for 35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean and tops are beginning to brown. Wait 10 minutes before removing from pans. Cool completely. Wrap up and deliver to some deserving mothers!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Recipe Revisited: Chicken and Rosemary En Croute

Recipe Revisited: Chicken and Rosemary En Croute

So back in high school, a best friend's mom used to always make Chicken Bundles (as I write this, I'm ashamed that I can't link a post from my own blog... Note to self, post about these!).  I've heard people have other names for these Chicken Bundles, such as Love Pockets, Bagel Chicken... heck, feel free to make something else up!  Regardless of what you call them, you know how good they are.
BUT THEN, I found this recipe.  It's like the older sister to the Chicken Bundle.  It's more mature... sophisticated... Do I dare propose that THIS bundle could be comfortable at a fancy dinner?  I think I may.  Chicken Bundles make me think of Tuesday night dinner, with the kids still in the soccer shinguards, and the baby throwing pieces of it on the floor.  But these aren't just Bundles.  These we shall call En Croutes.  Who cares if it makes sense.  Just know that these are by no means meant to replace the beloved Chicken Bundle, but they will give you an option when you want to serve the chicken bundle in a somewhat fancier setting.

Makes 4.

1 (8-oz.) can refrigerated crescent dinner rolls
2 T. minced green onions
6 oz. Brie cheese, rind removed, cubed
1-1/2 c. chopped, cooked chicken breast
1 egg, beaten
1 t. crushed dried rosemary
1 T. grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350. Separate dough into 4 rectangles; firmly press perforations to seal. Spoon 1/4 of minced onions onto the center of each rectangle; top with 1/4 of cubed Brie. Top each with 1/4 of chicken, pressing slightly into the cheese. Fold short ends over chicken, overlapping slightly. Fold open ends over about 1/2 inch to form a rectangle. Press all edges to seal.

A Note From The Little Lady: I made these up to this point and then froze them, wrapped well in plastic wrap. When we were ready to have them, I thaw and continued on with directions below.

Place seam side down on ungreased baking sheet. Cut three 1-inch slashes on top of each roll to allow steam to escape. Brush with egg; sprinkle with rosemary and Parmesan cheese. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.

Another Note from The LL: The original recipe says this will serve four. The bundles are not that big, and, although rich, offer a fairly meager amount. If you are serving these with a few hearty sides, you could get by with one per person, but otherwise, it's pretty easy to eat two.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Breakfast Yogurt Bar

Breakfast Yogurt Bar

I get together with a few other girlfriends every week for breakfast.  We rotate houses, which leaves each person hosting about once a month.  Because I like to keep things from falling into a habitual pancake bonanza, or endless eggs, I strive to find new things.  Enter yogurt bar... 

Plain Greek yogurt
Plain ("regular") yogurt

As for toppings, anything goes, but here are some suggestions:
- granola
- honey
- dried fruit
- fresh fruit
- nuts
- fruit preserves

If you're wondering what those muffins are in the back of the photo, those are honey and granola muffins, and went great with the yogurt bar!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Salted Caramel Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Salted Caramel Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes about 3 dozen.

These are fabulous!  YUM-MY!
Source: Created by Diane blog

1/2 c. softened butter
3/4 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. sugar
2 eggs
2 t. vanilla
1 1/2 c. flour
1 t. baking soda
1 t. cinnamon
1 t. coarse Kosher salt
3 c. old fashioned oats
1 c. mini chocolate chips
1/4 c. Caramel sauce, plus more for topping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (325 for dark pans).

Beat butter and sugars on medium speed.  Add eggs and vanilla; beat well. Add flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, and mix well.  Mix in oats, chocolate chips and caramel sauce.

Drop by 2 T. size scoop onto a prepared cookie sheet.  Push a dent into the center of each cookie, and add a small amount of caramel sauce. Bake for 10 minutes, dust with coarse kosher salt when you remove them from oven.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Weird Sisters

The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown

This is a quirky little book about a family who regularly quokes Shakespeare as part of their everyday conversation and three sisters who are all back home, hoping to find themselves and a direction in which to continue their lives.  This book didn't leave a lasting impression on me, but I remember enjoying it as I made my way through.  Plus, it takes place in Ohio, so reading those references was kinda fun.  :)
Book description from Amazon:

This is the "delightful" (People) New York Times bestseller that's earned raves from Sarah Blake, Helen Simonson, and reviewers everywhere-the story of three sisters who love each other, but just don't happen to like each other very much...

Three sisters have returned to their childhood home, reuniting the eccentric Andreas family. Here, books are a passion (there is no problem a library card can't solve) and TV is something other people watch. Their father-a professor of Shakespeare who speaks almost exclusively in verse-named them after the Bard's heroines. It's a lot to live up to.

The sisters have a hard time communicating with their parents and their lovers, but especially with one another. What can the shy homebody eldest sister, the fast-living middle child, and the bohemian youngest sibling have in common? Only that none has found life to be what was expected; and now, faced with their parents' frailty and their own personal disappointments, not even a book can solve what ails them...