Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Coconut Custard Pie

In addition to the Shepherd's Pie I made yesterday, I also made a Coconut Custard Pie. I did take a short cut and use a pre-made pie crust that I blind baked per the instructions on the package. This was the perfect accompaniment to the Shepherd's Pie and really easy to make.

Favorite Pies:
French Coconut Pie
Cherry Pie

Coconut Custard Pie

Serves 10

  • 1 recipe Basic Pie Crust, rolled and fitted into a 9-inch pie plate (I used pre-made)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 can (14 ounces) coconut milk
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut, toasted
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Press a sheet of aluminum foil onto crust, draping over rim of pie plate. To blind-bake: Fill with dried beans or pie weights. Bake until crust is lightly browned, about 45 minutes. Remove beans and foil; let crust cool completely, and set aside.
  2. While crust is baking, place a fine-mesh sieve over a large bowl; set aside. In a medium saucepan (off heat), whisk together sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Gradually whisk in whole milk, making sure to dissolve cornstarch. Whisk in coconut milk and egg yolks.
  3. Whisking constantly, cook over medium heat until the first large bubble sputters, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low; cook, whisking constantly, 1 minute. Remove pan from heat; immediately pour custard through sieve into bowl.
  4. Pour custard from bowl into cooled crust; smooth top with a rubber spatula. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 4 hours (or loosely covered, up to 1 day). To serve, let stand at room temperature 30 minutes, then sprinkle with coconut.

To toast the coconut, spread it on a rimmed baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 5 to 10 minutes. Lining unbaked crust with aluminum foil and filling it with dried beans or pie weights prevents the crust from puffing up as it bakes. Store the beans, and use them again the next time you bake a pie.

Source: Everyday Food, November 2008.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Cheddar Topped Shepherd's Pie

The mere anticipation of a big ice storm sent me into my kitchen for lots of cooking and baking today. So far, no ice yet, but the chilly temperatures and gray skies were the perfect motivation for our dinner this evening. Up until now, I have never eaten or made a shepherd's pie. After trying this one from Everyday Food, I wish I had tried one sooner! This is the perfect comfort food for a bitter cold day. This dish be made ahead and then baked at dinner time. This will definitely be one of my cold weather staples. I made a few changes to the recipe as noted below.

Previous Cold Weather Favorites:
Slow Cooked Tex Mex Chicken and Beans
Spicy Chili
Chicken Andouille Gumbo
Poblano Chicken Chowder

Cheddar Topped Shepherd's Pie

Serves 8

  • 2 pounds baking potatoes (about 4), peeled and thinly sliced
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, such as safflower
  • 6 medium carrots, halved lengthwise, quartered if large, and thinly sliced
  • 6 celery stalks, thinly sliced (omitted)
  • 2/3 cup of frozen peas added
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 2 pounds ground beef chuck
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded sharp white cheddar (6 ounces)
  1. Preheat oven to 450. Place potatoes in a large saucepan, and cover by 1 inch with salted water. Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer. Cook until potatoes are easily pierced with the tip of a paring knife, 15 to 20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a 5-quart Dutch oven or heavy pot over medium-high. Add carrots, celery, onion, and thyme. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Add flour and tomato paste; cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add beef; cook, stirring occasionally, until no longer pink, 6 to 8 minutes. Add 1 cup water; bring to a boil, and simmer 1 minute. Set beef filling aside.
  3. Drain potatoes; return to pan. Cook over medium, stirring, until liquid has evaporated and a thin film covers bottom of pan, about 1 minute. Remove pan from heat; add milk and 1 cup cheese. Mash until smooth; season cheddar-potato topping with salt and pepper.
  4. Pour beef filling into a 13-by-9-inch baking dish. Drop dollops of topping over filling; spread to edges with a spatula. Using a fork, make decorative peaks; sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese. Bake until topping is browned and filling is bubbling rapidly, about 20 minutes (if topping and filling were chilled, increase to 35 minutes). Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Both filling and topping can be made up to a day ahead and refrigerated separately.

Source: Everyday Food

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Lasagna Rolls

I first made this Giada recipe some time ago and it quickly became one of our favorites. Despite having made this one several times, it never made it into my blog. Its probably because it was eaten so quickly! This takes some time to prep, but is well worth it. I think I actually prefer the rolls over regular lasagna. Its much easier to serve and/or freeze in individual portions.

Past Favorite Pasta Recipes from Giada:
Italian Baked Chicken and Pastina
Pasta with Sun Dried Tomato Pesto
Beef and Cheese Manicotti
Cheesy Baked Ravioli

Lasagna Rolls

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups whole milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
Pinch ground nutmeg

1 (15-ounce) container whole milk ricotta cheese
1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, squeezed dry
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
3 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, chopped
1 large egg, beaten to blend
3/4 teaspoon salt, plus more for salting water
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
12 uncooked lasagna noodles
2 cups marinara sauce
1 cup shredded mozzarella (about 4 ounces)

To make the sauce: Melt the butter in a heavy medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the flour and whisk for 3 minutes. Whisk in the milk. Increase the heat to medium-high. Whisk the sauce until it comes to a simmer and is thick and smooth, about 3 minutes. Whisk the salt, pepper, and nutmeg into the bechamel sauce.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Whisk the ricotta, spinach, 1 cup Parmesan, prosciutto, egg, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl to blend.

Add a tablespoon or 2 of oil to a large pot of boiling salted water. Boil the noodles until just tender but still firm to bite. Drain. Arrange the noodles in a single layer on a baking sheet to prevent them from sticking.

Butter a 13-by-9-by-2-inch glass baking dish. Pour the bechamel sauce over the bottom of the prepared dish. Lay out 4 lasagna noodles on a work surface, then spread about 3 tablespoons of ricotta mixture evenly over each noodle. Starting at 1 end, roll each noodle like a jelly roll. Lay the lasagna rolls seam side down, without touching, atop the bechamelsauce in the dish. Repeat with the remaining noodles and ricotta mixture. Spoon 1 cup of marinara sauce over the lasagna rolls. Sprinkle the mozzarella and remaining 2 tablespoons of Parmesan over the lasagna rolls. Cover tightly with foil. Bake until heated through and the sauce bubbles, about 20 minutes. Uncover and bake until the cheese on top becomes golden, about 15 minutes longer. Let stand for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the remaining marinara sauce in a heavy small saucepan over medium heat until hot, and serve alongside.

Source: Giada's Family Dinners, Clarkson Potter, 2006.

Barefoot Bloggers-Easy Sticky Buns

This month's Barefoot Blogger's picks were all about breakfast foods. Earlier in the month we had delicious banana sour cream pancakes and today these easy sticky buns. Both of these picks made for some fun Sunday breakfasts for us this month! These sticky buns are best described as little bites of buttery, sugary, goodness! Warning, these are not for those that are faint hearted about using butter. This recipe uses just shy of two sticks and you can definitely taste the butter in them. The prep on these is really easy. They are a perfect pick for weekend breakfasts or a brunch because unlike regular sticky buns, you don't have to deal with making all the dough and waiting for it to rise. Combining preparation time and cooking time, you can have these tasty buns on the table in about an hour. I would call this Ina's version of semi-homemade! I followed the instructions and had no problems with the filling overflowing, as experienced by some. Also, mine released from the pan perfectly. Given all the butter, it was not surprising. Thanks to Melissa at Made by Melissa for this pick.

Past Breakfast Favorites:
Maple Roast Bacon
Blueberry Pancakes
Baked French Toast
Brunch Menu

Easy Sticky Buns

Makes 12

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 cup pecans, chopped in very large pieces
1 package (17.3 ounces/2 sheets) frozen puff pastry, defrosted for the filling
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 cup raisins

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place a 12-cup standard muffin tin on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the 12 tablespoons butter and 1/3 cup brown sugar. Place 1 rounded tablespoon of the mixture in each of the 12 muffin cups. Distribute the pecans evenly among the 12 muffin cups on top of the butter and sugar mixture.

Lightly flour a wooden board or stone surface. Unfold one sheet of puff pastry with the folds going left to right. Brush the whole sheet with half of the melted butter. Leaving a 1-inch border on the puff pastry, sprinkle each sheet with 1/3 cup of the brown sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons of the cinnamon, and 1/2 cup of the raisins. Starting with the end nearest you, roll the pastry up snugly like a jelly roll around the filling, finishing the roll with the seam side down.

Trim the ends of the roll about 1/2 inch and discard. Slice the roll in 6 equal pieces, each about 1 1/2 inches wide. Place each piece, spiral side up, in 6 of the muffin cups. Repeat with the second sheet of puff pastry to make 12 sticky buns.

Bake for 30 minutes, until the sticky buns are golden to dark brown on top and firm to the touch. Allow to cool for 5 minutes only, invert the buns onto the parchment paper (ease the filling and pecans out onto the buns with a spoon), and cool completely.

Source: Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics, Clarkson Potter, 2008.

Lemonade Award

Thanks to Chi-Town Cooking Creations for giving my blog the Lemonade Award for being refreshing like lemonade! Since there are so many great blogs out there and its so hard to choose who to give this to, if your reading this blog consider this award for you!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Slow Cooker Vegetable Curry with Couscous and Cinnamon Chicken

I've recently become interested in studying and learning to make Indian food. Last weekend we had a dinner party with friends to celebrate a friend's return from a trip to India. It was a really fun evening, highlighted with some amazing Indian food. For the dinner party, we each brought an Indian dish to share. Short on time last week, I found a really wonderful Indian market not too far from my house and purchased my dishes for the party. I could have spent hours in the market looking at all the fascinating items they sold. I settled on the homemade Chapati (flat bread, Pistachio Kulfki (a fluffy Indian ice cream) and Coconut Cookies as my dishes to bring for the party. After the party, I was inspired to purchase Mahur Jeffrey's Quick and Easy Indian Cooking. I already have several dishes flagged to try. I also want to make the Chai Spiced Rice Pudding I had planned to make for the party. In my quest to use the slow cooker more, I was inspired by this recipe for Vegetable Curry in Pillsbury's Slow Cooker Come Home to Comfort. Overall, this was a good, easy recipe. I served the curry alongside a Cinnamon Chicken inspired by a recipe I saw on Martha Stewart's website. Next time, I might consider adding the chicken to the curry in the slow cooker to make it a complete one dish meal. The recipe had a yogurt sauce to serve alongside but neither my husband or I cared for it. I think I would do a traditional cucumber raita next time.

Vegetable Curry with Couscous
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup chopped onion (1 medium)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 teaspoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper (cayenne)
3 cups cubed peeled eggplant (3/4 to 1 inch)
2 medium tomatoes coarsely chopped (about 1 cup)
1 medium red bell pepper, coarsely chopped (about 1 cup)
1 cup sliced ready to eat baby carrots
1 can (15 oz) chick peas, drained
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 cups fresh baby spinach leaves (I forgot to add these at the end!)
2 cups uncooked whole wheat couscous

1. In 10 inch non-stick skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion, cook about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until translucent. Add garlic; cook stirring frequently until softened. Stir in curry powder, turmeric, cinnamon and red pepper; cook and stir about 30 seconds.

2. Spray 3-4 quart slow cooker with cooking spray. In cooker, mix onion mixture and remaining curry ingredients except spinach and couscous.

3. Cover; cook on Low heat setting 5-6 hours.

4. Stir spinach into curry in cooker. Cover; cook on low setting 5-10 minutes longer or until slightly wilted.

5. Meanwhile cook couscous as directed on package. Serve curry over couscous.

Source: Pillsbury Slow Cooker Come Home to Comfort, General Mills, 2009.

Cinnamon Chicken

Sprinkle chicken breasts liberally with salt, pepper and cinnamon. Roast in 350 degree oven until juices run clear. Approx. 45 minutes.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Chicken Tetrazzini

I've had this recipe on my list of recipes to try for a very long time. I'll start by saying this is a wonderful dish and we thoroughly enjoyed it. It is rich, creamy, full of flavor and makes a nice presentation. Definitely not your average chicken tetrazzini. However, the reviewers were correct in their assessment that this dish takes a long time to make! I was in the kitchen for over an hour before getting this into the oven. I think anyone would be hard pressed to have this dish prepped in 35 minutes as the recipe states. My chicken breasts were pretty thick so I had to cook them much longer than the recipe suggests. Also, the cream sauce took much longer than 1 minute to thicken. It would probably be a huge time saver to use a rotisserie chicken and pre-sliced mushrooms. I paired this with a green salad and served it as the main entree to accompany my gingerbread cake with pear caramel ice cream. I intended to take a picture this afternoon when I had good light, but my husband ate the rest!

Chicken Tetrazzini

9 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 1/4 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 pound white mushrooms, sliced
1 large onion, finely chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups whole milk, room temperature
1 cup heavy whipping cream, room temperature
1 cup chicken broth
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
12 ounces linguine
3/4 cup frozen peas
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
1 cup grated Parmesan
1/4 cup dried Italian-style breadcrumbs

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Spread 1 tablespoon of butter over a 13 by 9 by 2-inch baking dish. Melt 1 tablespoon each of butter and oil in a deep large nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the chicken with 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Add the chicken to the hot pan and cook until pale golden and just cooked through, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to a plate to cool slightly. Coarsely shred the chicken into bite-size pieces and into a large bowl.

Meanwhile, add 1 tablespoon each of butter and oil to the same pan. Add the mushrooms and saute over medium-high heat until the liquid from the mushrooms evaporates and the mushrooms become pale golden, about 12 minutes. Add the onion, garlic, and thyme, and saute until the onion is translucent, about 8 minutes. Add the wine and simmer until it evaporates, about 2 minutes. Transfer the mushroom mixture to the bowl with the chicken.

Melt 3 more tablespoons butter in the same pan over medium-low heat. Add the flour and whisk for 2 minutes. Whisk in the milk, cream, broth, nutmeg, remaining 1 3/4 teaspoons salt, and remaining 3/4 teaspoon pepper. Increase the heat to high. Cover and bring to a boil. Simmer, uncovered, until the sauce thickens slightly, whisking often, about 10 minutes.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the linguine and cook until it is tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 9 minutes. Drain. Add the linguine, sauce, peas, and parsley to the chicken mixture. Toss until the sauce coats the pasta and the mixture is well blended.

Transfer the pasta mixture to the prepared baking dish. Stir the cheese and breadcrumbs in a small bowl to blend. Sprinkle the cheese mixture over the pasta. Dot with the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter. Bake, uncovered, until golden brown on top and the sauce bubbles, about 25 minutes.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Gramercy Tavern Gingerbread with Pear Caramel Ice Cream

As is our regular tradition, I had my in-laws over for dinner to celebrate my mother-in-law's birthday. When developing the menu, I knew I wanted dessert to be the star of the show. I also didn't want to do a regular frosted cake. When visiting my mother-in-law one day she was discussing a dessert we were having and noted how much she liked ginger and particularly gingerbread. I immediately remembered seeing this gingerbread cake on the Smitten Kitchen's blog. I wanted to make the cake a bit more special since it was for a birthday, so I decided to make a homemade ice cream to pair with it. I found a recipe for pear caramel ice cream in The Perfect Scoop, and I knew it would be a perfect match. This dessert was definitely a show stopper and I loved that it was casual yet elegant at the same time. It also didn't take that much work to prepare, another bonus! The gingerbread cake has an amazing depth of flavor and was incredibly moist inside. This cake is so versatile, you could serve it with a ginger whipped cream, sauteed pears or apples, a homemade caramel sauce. The possibilities are endless. The ice cream definitely put this dessert over the top. The sweetness and flavors of the pears definitely played prominently in this dessert and the caramel lent slight undertones to the ice cream but was not overwhelming. I think this is my favorite flavor so far out of this book, although they have all been very good. I also think this dessert is the perfect pairing for my favorite chili recipe! Now, if I could only get a good snow day to match these two together!

Previous Recipes from the Smitten Kitchen:
Blueberry Pancakes

Previous Recipes from the Perfect Scoop:
Raspberry Swirl Ice Cream

Gramercy Tavern's Gingerbread

1 cup oatmeal stout or Guinness Stout
1 cup dark molasses (not blackstrap)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of ground cardamom
3 large eggs
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
Confectioners sugar for dusting

Accompaniment: Unsweetened whipped cream

Preheat oven to 350°F. Generously butter bundt pan and dust with flour, knocking out excess. (I sprayed my pan very generously with cooking spray and had no problems with it sticking).

Bring stout and molasses to a boil in a large saucepan and remove from heat. Whisk in baking soda, then cool to room temperature.

Sift together flour, baking powder, and spices in a large bowl. Whisk together eggs and sugars. Whisk in oil, then molasses mixture. Add to flour mixture and whisk until just combined.

Pour batter into bundt pan and rap pan sharply on counter to eliminate air bubbles. Bake in middle of oven until a tester comes out with just a few moist crumbs adhering, about 50 minutes. Cool cake in pan on a rack 5 minutes. Turn out onto rack and cool completely.

Serve cake, dusted with confectioners sugar, with whipped cream.

Do ahead: This gingerbread is better if made a day ahead. It will keep 3 days, covered, at room temperature. I am sure it will keep well-wrapped in the freezer even longer.

Source: The Smitten Kitchen

Pear Caramel Ice Cream
  • 3 medium-sized ripe pears, peeled and cored
  • 3/4 c. + 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/8 teaspooon coarse salt
  • a few drops of fresh lemon juice
  1. Dice the pears into 1/4-inch pieces.
  2. Spread the sugar in a large, heavy saucepan. Cook over medium heat, carefully watching and stirring occasionally with a heatproof spatula until melted.
  3. When the sugar is a deep amber, stir in the pears. The caramel will seize, that's ok. Continue cooking and stirring occasionally for ten minutes. The sugar will have dissolved.
  4. Remove from the heat and stir in 1/2 cup of the cream, then mix in the rest of the cream, salt, and lemon juice.
  5. Cool to room temp, puree until smooth, press through a strainer.
  6. Chill according to your ice-cream maker manufacturer's instructions.
Source: The Perfect Scoop by Dave Lebovitz, Ten Speed Press, May 2007.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Slow Cooker Chili Chicken Tacos

I'm trying to use my slow cooker more these days and decided to try this recipe from the October 2008 issue of Everyday Foods. I think this recipe is a jazzed up version of the ever popular slow cooker salsa chicken recipe. I made the recipe as follows below. It does have a bit of a kick, it wasn't too much for me though and I usually don't go much hotter than mild salsa. I thought the taco toppings tempered the heat. I used chicken breasts since I'm not a fan of chicken thighs. I decided to cook mine 8 hours on low. At about 6 hours the meat was fully cooked. I fear if I had it go longer it would have been dried up. So definitely be careful about the cooking time. There isn't that much liquid in this recipe. I was also very excited to find taco shells made with organic corn meal. They were much better than the typical grocery store brand taco shells. Serve these with some Mexican rice and you have a pretty good meal with minimal effort. Also, don't forget the limes, they add a nice punch of flavor.

Slow Cooker Chili Chicken Tacos

Serves 4

  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 6) (I used chicken breasts)
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup prepared tomato salsa, plus more for serving (optional)
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons chopped canned chipotle chiles in adobo
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 8 hard corn taco shells
  • Cilantro, shredded cheese, lime wedges, and sour cream, for serving (optional)
  1. In slow cooker, combine chicken, garlic, salsa, chiles, chili powder, 1 teaspoon salt, and teaspoon pepper. Cover; cook on high, 4 hours (or on low, 8 hours).
  2. Transfer chicken to a serving bowl, and shred, using two forks; moisten with cooking juices. Serve in taco shells, with toppings, if desired.

Oven method: preheat oven to 350 degrees. In step 1, use a 5-quart Dutch oven or ovenproof pot with a tight-fitting lid; add 2 cups water. Cover; bake until chicken is fork-tender, about 2 hours. Proceed with step 2.

Source: Everyday Food, October 2008.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Whole Wheat Bread with Wheat Germ and Rye

I really love baking bread. I think its fun to watch the whole process of the bread rising and to work with the dough and in the end have a wonderful finished product that I created. I found this recipe over at Annie's Eats and was inspired to make it from her beautiful picture. I also needed to start using up the rye flour that is accumulating in my pantry. Somehow I have two bags and I'm not sure why! The great thing about making your own bread at home is you can really control all of the ingredients and it just tastes better! We loved this recipe. This one is a keeper and one I know I will make again many times. The outside of this bread has a perfect crust and the inside has a nice hearty taste. I can't wait to enjoy a sandwich on this bread! An added bonus, this recipe makes two loaves so you can use one and freeze one for later. I got so excited about this idea, that I sliced up the second loaf and put it in the freezer before it was photographed! Toddlers will influence your brain that way! The picture above is from the loaf we ate with dinner last night. This loaf didn't quite get the rise that the other one did. It was made in my Calphalon loaf pan which is pretty deep. The other made in a regular sized glass loaf pan got a great rise. So be sure to use a smaller pan if you want a taller, sandwich sized loaf. Now, what am I going to make with the rest of the two bags of rye flour, since this recipe only took 1/4 cup? Decisions, Decisions!

Whole-Wheat Bread with Wheat Germ and Rye

Yield: two 9-inch loaves


2 1/3 cups warm water (about 100°)

1 ½ tbsp. instant yeast

¼ cup honey

4 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

2 ½ tsp. salt

¼ cup rye flour

½ cup toasted wheat germ

3 cups whole-wheat flour

2 ¾ cups unbleached all-purpose flour


In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the water, yeast, honey, butter and salt with a rubber spatula. Mix in the rye flour, wheat germ, and 1 cup of each of the whole-wheat and all-purpose flours.

Add the remaining whole-wheat and all-purpose flours, attach the dough hook and knead at low speed until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface. Knead just long enough to make sure that the dough is soft and smooth, about 30 seconds.

Place the dough in a very lightly oiled large bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm, draft-free area until the dough has doubled in volume, about 1 hour.

Heat the oven to 375°. Gently press down the dough and divide it into two equal pieces. Gently press each piece into a rectangle about 1-inch thick and no longer than 9 inches. With a long side of the dough facing you, roll the dough firmly into a cylinder, pressing down to make sure the dough sticks to itself. Turn the dough seam-side up and pinch it closed. Place each cylinder of dough into a greased 9 by 5-inch loaf pan, seam-side down, pressing the dough gently so it touches all four sides of the pan. Cover the shaped dough; let rise until almost doubled in volume, 20 to 30 minutes.

Bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted at an angle from the short end just above the pan rim reads 205°, 35 to 45 minutes. Transfer the bread immediately from the baking pans to a wire rack; cool to room temperature.

Source: Annie's Eats, as adapted from Baking Illustrated.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Barefoot Bloggers-Banana-Sour Cream Pancakes

I was excited about this month's Barefoot Blogger's pick because it gave me a chance to use the new griddle I got for Christmas. I have to admit between the griddle and Ina's delicious recipe, I made some really good pancakes. Another plus, these were actually picture-worthy! The lemon zest in this recipe enhances the flavor of the banana and pancakes nicely. My all time favorite pancake recipe is still this one, however, I would not hesitate to use Ina's recipe again as my go to for banana pancakes. Thanks to Karen of Something Sweet by Karen for a great recipe to kick off 2009! As a side note, I'm a little remiss in that I haven't yet made the Pappa Al Pomodoro from December but I'm hoping to make and post about it very soon.

Banana-Sour Cream Pancakes
Makes 12 Servings

1 1/2 cups flour
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 cup sour cream
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon milk
2 extra-large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
Unsalted butter
2 ripe bananas, diced, plus extra for serving
Pure maple syrup

Sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the sour cream, milk, eggs, vanilla, and lemon zest. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ones, mixing only until combined.

Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat until it bubbles. Ladle the pancake batter into the pan to make 3 or 4 pancakes. Distribute a rounded tablespoon of bananas on each pancake. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until bubbles appear on top and the underside is nicely browned. Flip the pancakes and then cook for another minute until browned. Wipe out the pan with a paper towel, add more butter to the pan, and continue cooking pancakes until all the batter is used. Serve with sliced bananas, butter and maple syrup.

Source: Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa Family Style, Clarkson Potter, 2002.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Healthy Banana-Blueberry Muffins

I'm always on the lookout for good recipes that have added nutrients or health benefits. This muffin recipe fits that bill with the inclusion of whole-wheat flour and wheat germ. Wheat germ is a concentrated source of several essential nutrients including Vitamin E, Folate (folic acid), phosphorous, thiamin, zinc and magnesium, as well as essential fatty acids. Its important to properly store wheat germ. Once opened it must be refrigerated or the oils in it will go rancid. I learned this lesson the hard way! I liked these muffin. They are a perfect muffin for breakfast or an afternoon snack. They are not overly sweet but the flavors of the blueberry and banana definitely shine in this recipe.

Past Favorite Muffins:
Quinoa Muffins
Morning Glory Muffins
Spiced Carrot Muffins

Healthy Banana-Blueberry Muffins

  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour (spooned and leveled)
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
  • 1/4 cup wheat germ
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 ripe bananas (about 1 pound)
  • 1/3 cup reduced-fat (2 percent) milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup frozen blueberries
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners. In a bowl, whisk together flours, wheat germ, baking soda, and salt.
  2. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugars with a mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. In another bowl, mash bananas with a fork (you should have 3/4 cup); stir in milk and vanilla.
  3. With mixer on low, alternately add flour mixture and banana mixture to butter mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture; mix just until combined. Fold in frozen blueberries.
  4. Divide batter among muffin cups. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean, 25 to 28 minutes, rotating pan halfway through. Let cool in pan 10 minutes; transfer muffins to a rack to cool 10 minutes more.

Source: Everyday Food, January/February 2009.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Brown Rice with Andouille, Corn and Red Peppers

We are finally getting organized and into the swing of 2009! This recipe has been in my stack of recipes since having it at my in-laws house several months back. I believe the original recipe came from America's Test Kitchen. Below is the recipe as I have adapted it. Its a great dish for a chilly evening and when paired with a salad makes a complete meal.

Brown Rice with Andouille, Corn and Red Peppers
Serves 4 to 6

1 tablespoon olive oil
6 oz Andouille sausage, cut into 1/ inch pieces (I actually used about 9 oz of Han's All Natural Spicy Chicken Andouille Sausage purchased at Whole Foods)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped (I used green)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup low sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 cups long-grain brown rice (I used short grain brown rice)
1 teaspoon table salt
1/2 cup frozen corn, thawed
1/4 cup fresh basil, roughly chopped (I used dried)
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 lemon, cut into wedges

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position; preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat oil and Andouille in Dutch oven over medium heat until Andouille is lightly browned, 4 to 6 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer Andoulle to a paper towel lined plate; set aside. Add onion and cook stirring frequently, until softened and beginning to brown, 2 to 4 minutes. Add red pepper and continue to cook until onion and pepper are well browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

2. Add chicken broth and water; cover and bring to a boil. Remove pan from heat, stir in rice, salt and the reserved Andouille sausage. Place double layer of foil over pan and cover with lid. Bake rice for 65 minutes, until tender.

3. Remove pan from oven, uncover and discard foil. Fluff rice with dinner fork. Stir in corn, basil and black pepper; serve passing lemon wedges separately

Friday, January 2, 2009

Best of 2008

As I looked back on 2008 and my blog posts I realized we had a lot of great food in 2008! I tried my best to narrow the list of favorites down, it certainly wasn't easy. There are many recipes in this blog that could easily appear on this list as well! I'm looking forward to many wonderful things in 2009 and creating more delicious food for my friends and family! Happy New Year. Hope yours is happy, healthy and prosperous.

Most Repeated Dish of 2008:
Roast Chicken with Potatoes, Lemon and Asparagus

Best of Entertaining 2008:
New Years 2008 (Prime Rib, Sauteed Carrots, Boursin Potatoes)
Italian Grill
Fall Dinner Party

2008 Favorite Dishes:

Jan 2008:
Chicken with Tomatoes and Mushrooms
Baked Pasta with Chicken Sausage

February 2008
Hash Brown Quiche, Ultimate Coffee Cake and
Grapefruit Ginger Spritzers

March 2008
Semolina Bread
Gnocchi with Spinach and Sausage
Rosemary Citrus Scones

April 2008:
Italian Style Pot Roast
Beef and Cheese Manicotti

Chicken Andouille Gumbo
Morning Glory Muffins

May 2008
Layered Cornbread Turkey Salad
Banana Coconut Ice Cream
Herb Baked Eggs

June 2008
Dark Double Chocolate Cookies
Parmesan Chicken
Pasta with Pesto and Peas

July 2008
Slow Cooked Tex Mex Chicken and Beans
Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread
Lemon Chicken with Croutons
Baked French Toast
Bubby's Meatloaf with Red Pepper Sauce

August 2008
Roasted Cod with Potatoes and Olives
Turkey Burgers
Penne with Sun Dried Tomato Pesto

Penne with Turkey Meatballs
Pesto Cheese Blossom

September 2008
Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes
Root Beer Pulled Pork
Apple Turnovers

October 2008
Italian Baked Chicken and Pastina

Chicken with Cranberry Sauce

November 2008
Chunky Chai Applesauce
Slow Cooked Cajun Red Beans with Andouille Sausage

December 2008
Coq au Vin
Baked Artichoke Squares
Holiday Citrus Punch

Best Desserts of 2008:

Raspberry Creme Brulee

Beatty's Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting

French Coconut Pie

Black Bottom Cupcakes

Pumpkin Granola Grabbers