Wednesday, October 29, 2008

All Chaos... No Chicken!

Last night I was having dinner with two girl friends and one said she was a little
disappointed that my posts on this blog have not been as consistent... URGH :)
Love her but there are not enough hours in the day!!! Recently I have been so
busy (I know, we all are) and with this I really have been cooking less. So sad.I know,
do you hear the violins? My other girlfriend had a quick rebuttle to the disappointment: Just tell them that your life is serving up a lot of chaos and no chicken! So true... I am sorry if I am letting you down... as soon as I get some chicken I will share it!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Childhood Favorites

In my house, everything is centered around food. I get this honestly... my mom is the same way.
To celebrate, we eat. To mourn, we eat. Almost all of my family memories and traditions are somehow tied to food. This weekend, I went home for a birthday dinner. My sweet Momma worked so hard to make it special by making all of my childhood favorites.

For snack, we had her famous
Pineapple Cheeseball
2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
1 can (8 ounces) crushed pineapple, drained
1/4 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
3 tablespoons finely chopped green onion
2 teaspoons seasoned salt, or to taste
2 cups chopped pecans, divided

Directions for pineapple cheese ball.Combine cream cheese, drained crushed pineapple, chopped bell pepper, chopped green onion, seasoned salt, and 1 cup chopped pecans. Chill in refrigerator until firm then shape into a ball. Just before serving roll pineapple cheese ball in remaining cup of pecans. Serve pineapple cheese ball with assorted crackers. Pineapple cheese ball makes about 3 cups of cheese spread.

For Entree, Yucky Stuff (Hamburger Casserole that my dad hates, hense the name- Yucky Stuff)
1 lb. hamburger
1 sm. pkg. egg noodles
1 can tomato soup
1 can tomato paste

1/2 bag of shredded cheese
1 Green Pepper
1/2 Onion

Sautee onion, pepper and meat. Cook egg noodles. Add all ingredients to 9*13 casserole dish and bake at 350 until it bubbles.

For dessert, Cherry Yum Yum!
1 carton Cool Whip
1 1/2 c. graham crackers
1 can cherry pie filling
3/8 c. sugar
1 (3 oz.) pkg. cream cheese
Mix crumbs and butter and 1/8 cup sugar in 8x8 inch pan. Beat cream cheese and 1/4 cup sugar. Add Cool Whip and mix well. Pour cherries over crumb mixture. Pour cream cheese mixture over cherries. Sprinkle with leftover crumbs. Chill before serving.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Next on my list....

Obviously, I am in a Fall/Halloween/ orange and black cooking mood. If it has pumpkin or sweet potato then I am into it. I saw this recipe on my other favorite blog, and think, if I have time, I will try these tonight!

Pumpkin-Swirl Brownies
Adapted from Martha Stewart Living
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for pan
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 to 3/4 cups sugar (the original recipe calls for the larger amount; I think it could be dialed down a bit)
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups solid-pack pumpkin
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts or other nuts (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch square baking pan or dish. Cut a length of parchment that will cover the bottom and two sides (makes it much easier to remove), and line the pan with it. Butter the lining as well. (Deb note: I used an 8-inch square, because it was what I had. It works, too, but the brownies are crazy thick and take much longer to bake, just to give you a heads-up.)

2. Melt chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering
water, stirring occasionally until smooth.

3. Whisk together flour, baking powder, cayenne, and salt in a large bowl; set aside. Put sugar, eggs, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; beat until fluffy and well combined, 3 to 5 minutes. Beat in flour mixture.
4. Pour half of batter (about two cups) into a separate bowl and stir chocolate mixture into it. If you find that it is a little thick (as mine was) add a little more batter (a few tablespoons or so) until it is more pourable. This is important because mine was quite thick, and the pumpkin half was quite thin, so I had trouble swirling the two together.

5. In other bowl, stir in the pumpkin, oil, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Transfer half of chocolate batter to prepared pan smoothing top with a rubber spatula. Top with half of pumpkin batter. Repeat to make one more chocolate layer and one more pumpkin layer. Work quickly so batters don’t set.

6. With a small spatula or a table knife, gently swirl the two batters to create a marbled effect. Be sure to get your knife all the way to the bottom of the pan–I didn’t, and ended up with a chocolate base, not that it is such a bad thing. Sprinkle with nuts, if using.

7. Bake until set, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool in pan on a wire rack. Cut into 16 squares.

I am NUTS for Nutty Sweet Potato Soup!

Ellie Kreiger is my favorite Food Network gal (Sorry Rache- you are still my second favorite). Ellie cooks always with nutrician in mind and her recipes are easy, fresh and very tasty. I missed Saturdays episode because they changed the time (now is on at 8:30 a.m Saturday NOT 1:30 p.m. ) but Jess told me that she made a Sweet Potato Soup with PEANUT BUTTER. I had to look it up.

After making it I have two suggestions--- increase Sweet Potato and reduce Peanut Butter.
It is very good and screams FALL! Enjoy!

Nutty Sweet Potato Soup
tablespoon canola oil
1 large onion, diced (about 2 cups)
1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and diced (about 1 cup)
2 medium carrots, diced (about 1 cup)
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 clove garlic, minced (about 1 teaspoon)
1 teaspoon peeled and grated fresh ginger
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed (2 cups)
6 cups low-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth
1 (14.5-ounce) can no salt added diced tomatoes, with their juices
2/3 cup creamy natural peanut butter
2 teaspoons honey
1/2 cup chopped scallion greens (about 3 scallions)

Heat the oil in a large soup pot over a medium-high heat. Add the onions, bell pepper and carrots and cook, stirring until the vegetables soften, about 5 minutes. Add the cayenne, black pepper, garlic and ginger and cook for 1 minute more. Stir in the sweet potato, broth, and tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.*Puree the soup in the pot using an immersion blender or in a regular blender in 2 batches and return the soup to the pot. Add the peanut butter and honey and stir, over low heat, until the peanut butter melts. Serve warm, garnished with the scallions.*When blending hot liquids: Remove liquid from the heat and allow to cool for at least 5 minutes. Transfer liquid to a blender or food processor and fill it no more than halfway. If using a blender, release one corner of the lid. This prevents the vacuum effect that creates heat explosions. Place a towel over the top of the machine, pulse a few times then process on high speed until smooth.Servings: 6Number of Servings: 6

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

1 lb of chocolate... this is my kind of dessert!

Scott say this is the best dessert he has ever had... now, let's keep in mind that
he is a little biased but I do agree that it was AMAZINGLY rich and decadent.
If you are into this type of dessert I recommend making it... If you do not love
chocolate then stay away.

Double Chocolate Torte
adapted from Bon Appetit, December 2000
Makes 10 servings
Cake 8 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
5 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup all purpose flour

1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces
4 large eggs, separated
1 cup whipping cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
8 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup plus 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar

For cake: Preheat oven to 325°F. Butter 10-inch-diameter springform pan; dust with sugar. Melt chocolate and butter in heavy large saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly. Cool to lukewarm. Whisk in sugar. Whisk in eggs 1 at a time, blending well after each addition. Mix in vanilla and salt, then flour. Pour batter into pan. Bake until cake just rises in center (tester inserted into center will not come out clean), about 35 minutes. Cool completely in pan on rack. Cover; chill while making mousse.

For mousse: Melt butter in medium metal bowl set over saucepan of simmering water (do not allow bottom of bowl to touch water). Whisk yolks, 1/4 cup cream and vanilla in small bowl to blend. Gradually whisk yolk mixture into bowl with melted butter. Whisk constantly over simmering water until thermometer registers 150°F, about 6 minutes (mixture may appear broken). Remove from over water; add chocolate and stir to melt. Set aside.

Beat egg whites and 1/2 cup sugar in large bowl to medium-stiff peaks. Whisk 1/4 of beaten egg white mixture into warm chocolate mixture to lighten. Fold in remaining egg white mixture. Pour mousse over cake in pan; smooth top. Chill torte until mousse is set, at least 6 hours and up to 1 day.

Run sharp knife around edge of pan to loosen torte. Release pan sides. Transfer torte to platter. Using electric mixer, beat 3/4 cup cream in medium bowl until peaks form. Spread whipped cream over torte.