Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Better than Biscuits Bread Pudding

It comes as no surprise to people who know me well, that I'm approximately 65 at heart.  I've always acted old for my age.  In high school when I wore high heeled loafers and dress pants I was frequently mistaken for a teacher (not once, or even twice...but many, many times).  I've been to three concerts in my life, Rascal Flatts (point in my favor), Bon Jovi (point in my favor), and Gordon Lightfoot (negative 100 points).  I've never been in a dance club, ever.  I would live in cardigans.  I like to bake, crochet, and cross-stitch.  Go ahead, you can set me up to be friends with your septuagenarian acquaintances   One of the biggest clues that I'm much older than my years, is my love of bread pudding.  Seriously, I love it!  With milk chocolate, as overnight french toast, with fruit, with white chocolate sauce drizzled over the top.  This bread pudding is simple.  I used 4 leftover Grands Biscuits, but you could use any leftover bread you prefer.  P.S.  Bread pudding makes for a very unappetizing picture, but trust me it's delicious!

Biscuit Bread Pudding
4 Day Old Grands Biscuits (or equivalent)
2 eggs
1/4 Cup sugar + 2 Tbl
1/4 Cup heavy cream
1/2 Cup milk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350°.  In a bowl, beat eggs and 1/4 cup sugar together.  Beat in milk, cream, and vanilla.  Break biscuits in bite sized pieces and toss in the egg mixture.  Refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.  Pour into a lightly greased pie plate, sprinkle with 2 Tbl sugar.  Bake 25-35 minutes.  Serve warm.  

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Simply Cookie Saturday #2-Snickerdoodles!

Snickerdoodles are back!  I'm sending this super simple cookie on a a trip to Texas (rather than staying here and being devoured slowly enjoyed).  I love to whip up a batch of this yummy cookie (in bar form) or in the classic rolled variation.  This recipe is slightly different than most because I replace a bit of the white sugar with brown (making them even chewier!) and a 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla with almond extract.  Yum.  You'll love how your house smells when these are baking (unless you don't like the smell of happiness--if that's the case, you probably won't like it at all).

(makes ~3 dozen 2 inch cookies)
1 Cup salted butter, softened
1 Cup sugar
1/2 Cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
2 3/4 Cups flour
2 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 400°.  Cream butter and sugars together with an electric mixer.  Beat in the eggs and extracts until creamy.  In a separate bowl, whisk together dry ingredients.  Gradually beat the dry ingredients into the wet.  Roll the cookies into walnut size balls and then roll in cinnamon sugar mixture (recipe below).  Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet for 6-9 minutes (if putting 2 trays in, make sure to rotate top/bottom half way through).

Cinnamon sugar mix
2 Tbl white sugar
2 Tbl raw sugar (can also use 1 1/2 Tbl white sugar)
3 tsp cinnamon

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Slow Cooker Balsamic Chicken

My little one and I are packing up for a long weekend trip to sunny Florida to see family there.  I'm so excited to see the sun again.  I love the cooler weather that fall and winter bring (yup, even the below freezing temperatures), but I really hate the gray that seems to take over the landscape as soon as the leaves drop.  I've given up trying to take food pictures in the natural light, because the most natural light we see during the day is the glow of a bright day on television.  This is the first time for baby to fly (she's a bit over one), so I'm a little nervous about how she's going to deal with 2 hours cooped up on a plane.  But, on the other hand, I've flown with my husband several times, and if I can make it through a flight with him, then I'm thinking a one-year-old in my lap is going to be no problemo.  I have a Simply Cookie Saturday scheduled to post (you're just going to have to wait!) for while I'm away, but I wanted to leave you with a great fall slow-cooker dish.  This is so simple and tasty.  Next time, I'll definitely toss some broccoli in at the end, but feel free to adjust to your tastes.  I've heard quite a few friends talking about a balsamic chicken in the slow-cooker, but I'm not a huge fan of tomatoes, so this is a tomato-free variation.  

Slow Cooker Balsamic Chicken
2 large chicken breasts, cut into large chunks (I used boneless, skinless, frozen, breasts)
2 Tbl flour
3/4 Cup brown sugar
1/4 Cup Diet Sprite (or similar white soda)
1 clove crushed garlic
1/2 tsp. grated ginger (I like fresh)
2/3 Cup balsamic vinegar
2 Tbl soy sauce
black pepper to taste

Toss chicken breasts in flour to coat and set aside.  Combine all other ingredients in a large slow cooker.  Add chicken and stir.  Cook on low for 6-8 hours, or on high for 2-3.  About 20 minutes before serving, pull chicken slightly (not to the consistency of pulled pork), you just want nice bite size chunks.  Add any vegetables you'd like (broccoli or sugar snap peas would be great).  Cook on high for 10-20 minutes more.  Serve over brown rice.  

This post is linked to A Little Nosh's Tastetastic Thursday and Miz Helen's Full Plate Thursday check out all the great recipes there!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Simply Cookies Saturday #1-Cinnamon Chocolate Tea Cakes

With the holidays fast approaching I thought it would be fun to do a weekly cookie post.  I do my holiday cookie making on December 23 and 24, I'm not a big bake and freeze kind of person. This doesn't mean that I can't start to think ahead a little and share some of my favorite cookie recipes.  I'll keep my posts on Simply Cookie Saturday short and sweet (hah! pun fully intended), so without further ado, Cinnamon Chocolate Tea Cakes.  This is adapted from an old yellowed newsprint recipe that comes from Nestle (also online Chocolate Chip Holiday Tea Cakes).  I love the mix of chopped chocolate, the faint warmth of the cinnamon, and the rich buttery shortbread.  

Cinnamon Chocolate Tea Cakes
Makes ~24 1 in balls 

1 Cup salted butter, softened
1/2 Cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 Cups flour
1 cup chopped dark chocolate (reserve 1/4 cup)
1 cup chopped milk chocolate (reserve 1/4 cup)
*Note:  you can also use semi-sweet chips in place of the 2 chocolates, I just like the blend)

Preheat the oven to 350°.  In a bowl, beat the butter and powdered sugar until smooth and creamy.  Beat in the vanilla.  Gradually beat in the flour.  Stir in the chocolate (make sure to reserve 1/2 cup total).  Form the dough into 1 inch size balls (dough is very crumbly).  Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet for 10-12 minutes.  

Allow to cool.  In a zip top bag (I really recommend a brand name baggie here), microwave the remaining chocolate at 50% power until completely smooth.  Cut a tiny corner off of the bag and drizzle the chocolate over the cookies.  

This post is linked to Literally Inspired's what you talkin' bout wednesday.  Check out this great blog and great party!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Pumpkin Crumb Bars

Just about every blog I read has had at least one (if not several) inspiring pumpkin recipes (I can't wait to try this Pumpkin Risotto from Lauren @ Hey, who cut the cheese).  I hadn't jumped on the bandwagon, because despite the fact that we carve pumpkins in October, they've always been a Thanksgiving treat for me (yes, I'm slightly mental, why do you ask).  Turkey day is the only day I'm willing to touch pumpkin pie, and I think it's just because of nostalgia.  I decided to give pumpkin it's first outing for the year and make a simple dessert.  This is a rich, easy bar dessert.  Also, it's Monday morning, so I'm just going to leave it at that.

Pumpkin Crumb Bars
1 yellow cake mix (remove 1 cup and set aside)
1 large egg
8 Tbl melted butter

Preheat your oven to 350°.  Mix all ingredients and press into the bottom of a lightly greased 9x13 pan.

2 large eggs
1/4 Cup sugar
2/3 Cup evaporated milk
1 tsp. cinnamon
15 oz. pumpkin puree (not sweetened)
1/3 cup brown sugar

Whisk all ingredients together and pour over the crust.

1 Cup reserved yellow cake mix
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 Cup sugar
1/2 Cup butter

Mix all ingredients together and then drop dollops on top on the filling.  Bake for 35-40 minutes.  Allow to cool and cut into single servings.

Monday, November 7, 2011


Do schools still ask children about their ethnic heritage?  This was a huge deal when I was in elementary school, we'd have nationality day and everyone would bring in food and 'costumes' from their nationality.  I would think that this is beginning to go by the wayside as we as a country are becoming more and more a true melting pot.  I just think it's becoming harder for children to define their heritage by one nationality and I also think that is a wonderful thing.  On the other side of the coin, I do think it's important to learn about other cultures (especially their foods!).  Somehow today's post got a little serious...Let me lighten things up a bit for you.  For dinner, I made Jäger-Schnitzel.  Jäger-Schnitzel is a variation of the traditional German dish Wiener-Schnitzel (minds out of the gutter--it's pronounced with a "v" sound).  Wiener-Schnitzel is made with Veal Cutlets and is breaded, seared in a skillet, and served with lemon slices.  It's super delicious, but I have never cooked veal and the pricey-ness can make it prohibitive for a weekday dinner.  Jäger-Schnitzel on the other hand is made with pork cutlets, served with a mushroom sauces and can be prepared traditionally (with no flour, eggs, or bread crumbs) or Wiener style, which is lightly breaded.  This looks and tastes like a dinner that takes hours to prepare, but is really quick and simple.  I went with the lightly breaded style and it turned out really well.  It's especially delicious served over smashed potatoes with roasted asparagus on the side.  I hope you give this dish a try (and give the recipes of a other cultures and countries a try, too!).  P.S.  This is probably not the most authentic German dish you'll ever try-but it's a simple way to get the flavors of a delicious German dish

Jäger-Schnitzel-Weiner Style
4 boneless pork loin chops
16 oz clean, sliced mushrooms (fresh, not canned)
4 Tbl butter
4 Tbl canola oil
1/3 Cup white wine (chicken stock if you prefer not to use alcohol)
salt & pepper
2 eggs

In a large heavy skillet or cast iron pan, heat 2 Tbl butter and 2 Tbl oil over medium-high heat.  Pound pork chops to 1/4 inch thick and pat dry.  Set up 2 dishes, in one place about 2 cups of flour seasoned with salt and pepper.  In the second dish, scramble the two eggs.  Dip the pork into the flour, then the egg, and then to the flour.  Shake any excess off.  Cook the pork cutlets in the skillet until brown on the outside and cooked through.  Remove the cutlets to a plate.  Add  the remaining oil and butter to the pan and saute the mushrooms.  Add the wine to the pan and add the pork back in.  Cook until the sauce begins to thicken.  Serve and enjoy.  

Linked up to A Little Nosh's Tastetastic Thursday and Miz Helen's Full Plate Thursday

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Pepsi Braised Roast with Perfect Horseradish Sauce

Sometimes the best recipes come out of lack of proper ingredients.  I really wanted to make a nice roast beef drizzled with horseradish sauce, and I wasn't willing to wait until Christmas day when this sort of finery is commonly available.  So I went to the grocery store and picked up a nice 5lb prime rib roast.  Unfortunately, in my hurry (how many time I have mentioned my dislike for grocery shopping?!), I actually picked up a round eye roast.  Round eye is a really flavorful roast, but can be a little too tough for regular roasting.  So, I turned to braising.  I went into my pantry and pulled out the beef stock only to realize that in fact, I only had chicken stock.  Something about braising beef in chicken stock kind of grossed me out, so I had to think of something else.  Can't you see how prepared I am for cooking dinner?  I remembered something about cooking beef with cola and decided to replace the beef stock with some Pepsi I had on hand.  What resulted was a crazy tender roast that sliced nicely, but still melted in my mouth.  Leftovers went on toasted bread with provolone and horseradish sauce.  Let me tell you, that this in my new go-to roasting method.  You can always toss some veggies in the pot, but I like my vegetables a little crunchy, so I just serve them on the side.

Pepsi Braised Roast
Boneless Round Eye Beef Roast (or boneless roast of your choice)
1/2 Cup Pepsi (or Cola of your choice) per pound of beef
1/2 Cup Water per pound of beef
Salt and Pepper
1 Tbl. butter
1 Tbl. olive oil

Preheat oven to 325°.  In a large dutch oven or oven safe stock pot heat your butter and oil over medium high until sizzling.  Salt and Pepper your meat generously.  Brown all sides of the roast in the pan (don't forget the ends).  While the pan is still over the heat, pour in the cola.  Once the bubbling has subsided, pour in your water.  Cover and move to the oven.  Cook for ~30 minutes per pound.  You can use this awesome table to find cooking times for a variety of different meats:  The Healthy Butchers-Ultimate Roasting Chart.

Perfect Horseradish Sauce
1 part horseradish (fresh or jarred is fine)
2 parts sour cream

Stir and enjoy.

I'm linked up the A Little Nosh's Tastetastic Thursday and Miz Helen's Full Plate Thursday, check out all the great recipes there!