Sunday, August 29, 2010

Hearty Apple Crisp with Maple Cream

Apple Crisp with Maple Cream

So, as I usually do, I take the end of week ingredients I have left in my refrigerator and pantry, and depending on what I have, I try to put together something tasty. This week, I had a few apples left in the fridge, some sour cream with no plans to use, and a few graham crackers left in an open package. I took the inspiration for this dessert from my favorite “go-to” breakfast. This certainly can be served as a breakfast too as it has the basic elements of a morning meal, but also works as a hearty dessert. Hope you give the recipe a try! It’s a bit of a twist on a traditional recipe…

Hearty Crisp:
 3 sheets Graham cracker, finely ground (about ½ cup crumbs)
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
¼ cup ground flax seed
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. salt
~mix well in a bowl, then add:
1 stick  (1/2 cup) butter or margarine
1 tsp. maple extract
1/3 cup roughly chopped almonds or walnuts (set aside for garnish before baking)
~blend with a pastry blender or fork until crumbly in texture. Set aside.

Apple base:
4 diced apples, skin on. I used Fuji Apples
1 TBSP lemon juice
3 TBSP sugar (white is fine)
2 ½ TBSP cornstarch (or 5 TBSP flour)
½ tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp salt
~mix thoroughly, then spread in an even layer in a greased 8x8” square pan. Top with crisp mixture. I topped this all with 1/3 cup roughly chopped almonds, which is completely optional. Walnuts would have been equally delicious.  Bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes, or until browned and bubbly.

Maple Cream:
1 cup light sour cream (or full fat if you don’t care)
¾ cup powdered sugar
Dash or two of salt
½ tsp. maple extract
~mix until smooth, and refrigerate until ready to use.

Serve warm crisp with a generous spoonful of maple cream, and above all…ENJOY!!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Balsamic Glazed Chicken


So my oldest son Brendan is totally awesome to have around because he likes to try different foods. Okay, he’s awesome for more than just that, but for my cooking habits, he totally ROCKS! He keeps me on my toes by asking me to make new things, which I am more than happy to do for him. So last summer, he had gone to dinner with his grandparents and came back saying I HAD to make balsamic glazed chicken for him. His description of this sweet, tangy, and sticky glaze did not match any recipes that I had been able to find. So I combined a few recipes from the internet, and tweaked it until I got the results he and I were both looking for. So here it is…

So, take your boneless, skinless chicken breasts, and pan fry them in a little bit of olive oil. I seasoned mine with a light sprinkling of salt, pepper, and rosemary. After you flip halfway through cooking (once you get a nice golden brown on the first side) I like to “steam cook” it the remainder of the way using a lid. While that is cooking….let’s make the glaze!

Balsamic Glaze (makes enough for 4-6 breasts):
¼ c. balsamic vinegar
2 TBSP soy sauce
1 TBSP honey
3 TBSP brown sugar
Zest from ½ lemon
1 TBSP minced garlic
1 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp dried rosemary
Bring all ingredients to a boil in a small saucepan, then reduce heat to simmer (make sure heat is hot enough to continue bubbling) for approximately 5 minutes, or until reaches a syrupy consistency.

During the last 5 minutes or so of cooking the chicken, drizzle about ¼ of the balsamic glaze over the chicken in the pan, and baste the pieces with the glaze. When the chicken is done, use remaining glaze to taste on top of chicken prior to serving.
Tim’s Garlic Bread (makes enough for 4-6 pieces):
1 TBSP margarine or butter
2 TBSP mayonnaise
1 tsp minced garlic
½ tsp rosemary
2 TBSP parmesan cheese
Mix ingredients together until well blended, and spread a somewhat thick layer on top of bread pieces. Broil in oven on cookie sheet until browned to your liking. If you prefer crispier toast, broil straight on rack. I served this dinner with steamed broccoli florets, but really, this glazed chicken will go with your favorite sides dishes in a pinch. ENJOY!!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Poached Egg Bruschetta - Two Ways

Poached Egg Bruschetta – 2 ways

So, this is me trying to find somewhat easy recipes using truffle oil. Even if you don’t have truffle oil, I think this recipe is still worthy of trying, as in my opinion, eggs make everything better! Now, I adapted yet another recipe I found on The Food Network site, this one was a “mini challenge” from one of the contestants on The Next Food Network Star (Jeffrey Saad) from Season 6. He sadly was not the winner that season,  Melissa D’Arabian was. She is lovely and cooks wonderfully too though! So ANYWAY…here’s the link to the recipe, and again, since it is not my own, I will note the changes I made after:

Now, to start, I just used regular French bread that you find in any bakery. I sliced the bread at an angle to make them pretty. I lightly brushed the pieces with olive oil, and then toasted them in a hot pan, grilled cheese style. I toasted both sides, but if you prefer one side softer, by all means, do what you like! Rather than waiting to drizzle the truffle oil over the top, I opted to make truffle butter by mixing 1 pound of butter with several tablespoons of truffle oil. My taste buds have not yet become accustomed to the strong flavor, and this is how I ease myself into the experience. It really is a nice taste, but not something I want to overdose on! So, I used the truffle butter on the warm bread. I wilted my lettuce mix) I could not find arugula, so I used a baby lettuce spring mix) with olive oil and minced garlic. That goes directly on top of the toasted French bread.  The poached egg goes on the lettuce, and the gremolata on top of the egg.

I did make a second version of this egg Bruschetta dish, and that was just by making garlic bread, slicing a fresh tomato and placing it on top of the bread, then adding a poached egg, followed by grated parmesan cheese. BOTH of these versions were absolutely wonderful! I don’t think I can pick a favorite one, because they each had a distinct flavor. Because of how lovely they looked on the plate together though, I would strongly consider serving them together because, not only will the plate look deliciously colorful, but your taste buds will be deliciously satisfied! ENJOY!!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Cooking for my honey...

Billionaire Bacon and Corn Muffins

So, many of you know that my husband is not a fan of gourmet food. The reason being, is that he’s a “supertaster”. For normal palates, food speaks to our taste buds, but for “supertasters”…food SCREAMS. So what we taste, is extra, extra strong for them, and quite unpleasant. Most of what I make for my husband ends up being rather bland in my opinion, so it is frustrating to cook for someone who seems to not appreciate your skill, but after 10 years, I’m over it. I cook for him when he asks, and I do it with a smile and with love. That just means I get to cook what I want for myself!! It’s not really a bad deal after all…

So today, I made one of my very favorite dishes…Billionaire Bacon, which was a recipe I saw in magazine ages ago. It stuck with me, and I make it whenever my husband asks. If I made it more often than that, I’d be quite a hefty girl, because I love it THAT much. It is a sweet, salty, sticky, smoky, decadent mess, and is literally the one thing I could eat over and over again and never grow sick of it! So, try it, you’ll LOVE it (if you like bacon to begin with, that is!).

Billionaire Bacon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
1 pound thick sliced bacon (I used the plain old hickory smoked kind)
½ - ¾ cup brown sugar

Put brown sugar in a large zip top bag, and then two pieces at a time, add bacon to bag and shake to coat. Place sugar covered bacon on a cookie sheet lined with non-stick aluminum foil (you’ll be stuck with a huge mess if you don’t!). Bake for 20-25 minutes depending on how soft or crispy you like your bacon. Be aware that bacon will appear quite soft, but if you see the ends starting to burn, take it out. The bacon will harden as it cools. It is best to drain bacon on a cooling rack that has been sprayed with oil, and has paper towels underneath to catch grease. If you attempt to drain it directly on paper towels, you’ll end up with paper stuck to your bacon!

Corn Muffins
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
In a medium size bowl, combine:
2 eggs, beaten
1 stick melted margarine (or butter if you’re fancy)
1 ¼ cups milk
Mix well, then add:
½ cup cornmeal
1 ½ cups flour
½ cup sugar
1 TBSP baking powder
½ tsp salt
Stir well to combine thoroughly. If you like corn kernels in your corn muffins, add ½ cup canned, drained, sweet corn kernels.
Grease 12 muffin tins, or a 9x9” square pan. Bake muffins for 20 minutes, and bread for 30-40 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean, or feels done by touch. Serve warm with honey butter. ENJOY!

Look! He actually DOES eat my cooking!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Roasted Chicken with Truffle Oil

Roasted Chicken with Truffle Oil

So, today I tried a very old fashioned recipe, but tried to ramp up the flavor by using truffle oil. I got the base recipe from The Food Network website, as made by Emeril Lagasse. Here’s the link in case you want to check it out:

 I won’t copy the recipe to this page since it is not my own, but I will notate the changes I made to make it my own…

First off, I only used one onion (sweet Vidalia) and 3 ribs of celery instead of 2. My chicken was 7 ½ pounds, as opposed to 3 ½ pounds. I did roast at 425 for about 30 minutes, and then turned the temperature initially down to 375 as his recipe indicated, but found I needed to turn it down to 350. My total roasting time was 2 ½ hours, and I did need to place a loose tent of foil over the top for the last hour because it was getting too dark for my tastes. I also basted it about 4 times during the whole roasting period.

I tried the bite on camera with the truffle oil drizzled on top, and I (being a beginner to truffles) found it quite strong. I think it is an acquired taste, for certain! And I firmly believe in trying new foods several times before you make a concrete decision to love or hate it, because after all, my favorite is sushi, and I hated it the first 2 times I ate it! Keep trying new things, give your taste buds a chance to adjust! So…back on topic (sorry!)…I took the drippings from the pan, and after I cooled it off, I removed the fat layer. Then I heated it up, and dissolved 2 TBSP cornstarch in 2 TBSP water, and added that in to the warm drippings. I brought it to a boil and let it thicken. Then I took it off the stove and added about 1 TBSP truffle oil to that. That was MUCH easier in my opinion to get an even taste of truffle in each bite. Just drizzling the oil straight on top might work for the seasoned palate, but not for my virgin taste buds. So…that was my big tweak. Oh, and that I also used dried herbs instead of fresh! Sometimes you really CAN make do with what you have on hand…now if I was cooking for special guests…by all means, I’d go out and buy fresh! If you decide to try this recipe…ENJOY!