Saturday, October 31, 2009

Puff Pastry Twists

Frozen puff pastry is inexpensive and convenient. You can easily half this recipe and save one sheet of pastry for later. These twists are perfect with a bowl of soup or as an appetizer.

1 package frozen puff pastry sheets, thawed
1/2 stick butter, melted
3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
Optional toppings - garlic powder (1/4 teaspoon), garlic salt (1/2 teaspoon), dried basil(1 teaspoon), dried parsley (1 teaspoon), dried rosemary (1 teaspoon), dried thyme (1 teaspoon)

Mix parmesan cheese with desired toppings. Unfold pasty sheets. Brush with butter and sprinkle with parmesan mixture. Lightly press into dough. Flip pastry over and repeat. Using a pizza cutter or a knife slice into about 10 strips. Twist strips and place on a greased cookie sheet. Bake in 400 degree oven about 12 minutes. Cool on wire racks.

*Based on a recipe by Paula Deen

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Roasted Asparagus

I am currently obsessed with roasting! It is ridiculously easy and super delicious. Asparagus is one of my favorite veggies. I have always hated how it just gets limp and soggy when you steam or boil it. I like to roast it JUST until it is tender when you poke it with a fork. To me it tastes best when it still had just a little bit of crunch.

Olive Oil
Kosher Salt

Rinse asparagus under cold running water and pat dry. Trim about 1 1/2 - 2 1/2 inches off the bottom. Arrange asparagus in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to coat well. Roast in 400 degree oven 8-12 minutes.

The asparagus is good just like this, but you can add a splash of balsamic vinegar or lemon juice after roasting.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Not Your Grandma's Meatloaf

My grandma is a great cook. She cooked for us a lot while I was growing up and I always looked forward to dinner at her house. Her meatloaf however... not so great (to say the least). So I've had this idea for years that I did NOT like meatloaf. This recipe 100% changed my mind. I LOVE meatloaf! Who knew!

1 pound ground beef
3/4 cup Italian style bread crumbs
1/2 cup finely chopped onions
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 /2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 egg
1/2 cup ketchup
1 recipe Sweet and Sour Sauce

Combine all ingredients. Press lightly into 5"x9" loaf pan. Bake in 400 degree oven for 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and drain fat. Pour about 1/3 of sauce over meatloaf and return to the oven for 30 minutes longer. Serve with remaining sauce.

Sweet and Sour Sauce
1 (12 ounce) jar chili sauce
1 (12 ounce) jar red currant jelly*

Cook over low heat until jelly is melted and sauce is heated through.

*Red currant jelly is sometimes hard to find. I have used strawberry and apple and the sauce turns out just fine.

**Based on a recipe from Favorites cookbook

Monday, October 26, 2009

Frozen Chocolate Dipped Bananas

Mmmmm these are good! You can use your imagination here as far as the toppings go. I used sprinkles, chopped walnuts and toffee bits. The kids loved the sprinkles (my fav too) and the toffee covered were the favorite of the adults. Choose bananas that are small to medium in size and ripe but still firm. These are very easy and couldn't be tastier!

6 small bananas
12 ounces semi sweet chocolate chips
12 craft sticks
toppings (sprinkles, finely chopped nuts, toffee bits etc...)

Peel bananas and cut in half crosswise. Insert craft stick into cut side of banana. Place on cookie sheet covered with parchment paper. Freeze bananas 2-3 hours or overnight. Melt chocolate over a double boiler. Put each topping on a seperate small plate. Remove bananas from freezer. Dip into melted chocolate and roll in desired topping. Return to freezer immediately until ready to serve.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Parmesan Chicken

Chicken is my old stand by. I always have a bag of boneless skinless breasts in the freezer. As you can imagine I have made chicken just about every way you can think of. This is defiantly my favorite at the moment . The crust is perfect... lightly crispy and absolutely delicious. Don't even think of skipping the vinaigrette! It gives the chicken a nice richness yet is still light and fresh. The salad greens on top are very good and make for an elegant presentation. Though the chicken and vinaigrette are delightful on their own!

I know it's tempting to crank up the heat, but this is one recipe you should stick to the recommended cooking temperature. You're looking for that perfect golden brown, too dark and the crust will have a bitter flavor.

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 extra-large eggs
1 tablespoon water
1 1/4 cup Italian bread crumbs
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
olive oil
salad greens for 4
1 recipe Lemon Vinaigrette

-Pound chicken breasts until they are about 1/4-inch thick.
-Combine flour, salt, pepper, and garlic powder on a plate.
-Beat eggs and water on a second plate.
-Combine bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese on a third plate.
-Coat the chicken with the flour mixture, then dip in the egg mixture, and finally dredge in bread crumb mixture. Press lightly to make sure chicken is well coated.

Heat 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet and cook chicken over medium low heat for about 3 min on each side. Add more butter and olive oil as needed to cook the rest of the chicken. Place a handful of salad on each chicken breast and drizzle with the vinaigrette.

Lemon Vinaigrette
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Whisk all ingredients together.

*Based on a recipe by Ina Garten

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Frozen Cookie Dough

Try doubling cookie recipes and freezing part of the dough. Have homemade cookies anytime without the mess! You can store the dough in your freezer for up to 3 months. Though in my house there is no way it would last that long ;)

Scoop prepared cookie dough in whatever size you desire onto a cookie sheet. Place cookie sheet in freezer. Once dough has frozen transfer to a freezer bag. When you are ready to bake place frozen dough balls on cookie sheet and allow to defrost for about 15-25 minutes (defrost time will depend on the size of your dough). Bake according to recipe. They are also delicious straight out of the freezer and into your mouth ;)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies

It seemed fitting to start this blog off with a classic! This is by far the best Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe I have tried. One thing I have learned about these cookies is that they are only as good as the ingredients you use. If you want really delicious cookies use good quality chocolate chips and real vanilla extract. These cookies are dense and chewy and delicious. I'm positive your family will love them as much as mine does!

1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla, divided
2 eggs
3 1/4 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Cream together butter and sugars. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla and eggs, mix well. In a separate bowl combine flour, baking soda and salt. Add half of flour mixture to creamed mixture, mix well. Add remaining flour mixture, mix well. Add 2 teaspoons vanilla and mix just until combined. Fold in chocolate chips.

Spoon onto greased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 7-9 minutes. Cool on wire racks.