Friday, December 30, 2011

Spiced Caramelized Graham Crackers

I had leftover graham crackers from making gingerbread (graham cracker) houses with my little ones and decided to give this recipe a whirl.  The spices add warmth to the buttery caramel that makes these graham crackers extra yummy and addicting.

Spiced Caramelized Graham Crackers

12-14 full sheets of honey graham crackers
1/2 cup butter, cut into small pieces
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Sliced almonds, for sprinkling (about 1 generous cup)

Position a rack to the center of the oven and preheat it to 350 degrees.  Line a 12-by-17 inch rimmed baking sheet with foil for easy cleanup.  Arrange the graham crackers snugly in the pan, covering as much of it as possible (break a few crackers to fill in any gaps).

In a small saucepan, combine the butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, ginger and nutmeg.  Melt over medium high heat, stirring often.  Boil for 2 minutes.  Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla.

Pour the caramel evenly over the crackers.  Use and offset spatula to quickly smooth the caramel over the surface.  Sprinkle generously with the almonds.  Bake until bubbly, 8-10 minutes.  Cool completely on a wire rack before breaking into pieces.

*My sister Stephanie and I think that they would be yummy to use for ice cream sandwiches.

Recipe from Piece of Cake blog

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Bacon and Caramelized Onion Tart

Oh my goodness, this tart is amazing!  The smells of caramelized onions, thyme, and garlic that filled my home were mouthwatering.  Oh and let's not forget about the bacon, little pieces of salty, crisp goodness.  So delicious!  After all the amazing sights and smells that I was experiencing, I could hardly wait to eat a slice of this lovely little tart and boy oh boy, it did not disappoint!  I beg you to make this and make it soon!

Pie Crust

Makes enough for 1 double-crusted pie or 2 single, 10-inch crusts

2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup very cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
6 to 8 tablespoons ice water

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder.  Pulse a few times to blend.  Sprinkle the butter pieces over the dry ingredients.  Pulse until the butter is the size of large peas.

Add 6 tablespoons of the water and pulse until the dough just begins to form a ball (you may need to add up to 2 tablespoons more of the ice water).  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and gather it into a ball.  Divide the dough in half, and gently pat each half into a disc.  Wrap each disc tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before rolling.

After you roll out the crust and place it in the desired pan, let it chill for 15-30 minutes in the refrigerator before baking to prevent shrinking.

Bacon and Caramelized Onion Tart

1 10-inch pie crust
2 tablespoons butter
2 medium yellow onions, peeled and sliced into thin half moons
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
Kosher salt and black pepper
6 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
Fit the pie crust into a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom.  Prick the bottom of the crust all over with a fork and place in the refrigerator to chill while you prepare the filling.

In a large skillet or Dutch oven set over medium heat, melt the butter.  Toss in the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are deeply caramelized-this can take anywhere from 30-45 minutes, depending on your stove.  Have a glass of water standing by; add a tablespoon or so of water as needed to keep everything moist and prevent burning.  When the onions are caramelized, add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Stir in the thyme leaves and season with salt and pepper.  Scrape the onions onto a plate to cool.  Wipe out the skillet and place back on the heat.

Add the bacon to the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned and crisp.  Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon to paper towel and let drain and cool.

Position a rack to the center of the oven and preheat it to 400 degrees.  Set the tart pan on a large baking sheet.  Bake the crust just until it begins to look dry all over, about 10 minutes.  If it bubbles up a bit in spots, just press down the bubbles with a spatula.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the ricotta, egg yolk and parmesan cheese.  Season with salt and pepper.  Fold in half the onions and half the bacon.  Spread the ricotta mixture evenly over the par baked crust.  Spread the remaining onions over the ricotta mixture.  Sprinkle the remaining bacon over the top.

Bake until the crust is golden on the edges and the ricotta filling is firm, 30-35 minutes.  Let the tart cool in the pan before slicing.  Garnish with a few more fresh thyme leaves.  Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.

*I think it would be fun to do mini versions of this tart using individual size tart pans.

Recipe is from Piece of Cake blog by Shauna Sever

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Market Street Clam Chowder

While I was growing up, my family would stay the night in Salt Lake the night before Christmas Eve.  Every year we would go to Market Street Grill for dinner.  I remember the restaurant being noisy and busy with holiday parties.  There was always a wait, but Market Street was a tradition and so we would wait.  The sourdough bread with cold butter, the onion rings and the clam chowder always tasted so good and definitely are the most memorable.  My dad loves their onion rings!  My little family has been there a few times, but instead of going to Market Street each year, we like to have a quite (okay, maybe not so quite with three kidlets) dinner at home with a big pot of Market Street clam chowder, crusty bread and beer battered onion rings (if I am feeling up too it) during the holiday season. 

Market Street Clam Chowder

3/4 cup butter, melted
1 cup flour
4 cups diced potatoes
1 cup diced celery
1 cup diced onions
1 cup diced green pepper
3/4 cup chopped clams
3/4 tablespoons freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
3/4 tablespoon dried thyme
6 dried bay leaves
1 teaspoon Tabasco
3/4 cup sherry
4 cups water
3/4 cup clam juice
1 quart plus 2 cups half & half

Combine melted butter and flour in oven-proof dish and bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes.  In large saucepan, combine remaining ingredients except half & half.  Simmer until potatoes are thoroughly cooked.  Add butter-flour mixture to chowder and stir until thick.  Remove chowder from heat.  Stir in half & half until blended.  Heat to serving temperature, stirring occasionally.

*I use canned clams that are minced from the grocery store and I know that sounds gross, but they work great.  My sister Stephanie leaves the clams out of the soup, but still uses the clam juice.  Either way, it is delicious!

*I've changed the recipe just a bit because my family likes more potatoes.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

German Pancakes

German Pancakes are a favorite breakfast in my house.  My two boys, who share the same birthday, always choose them for their birthday breakfast.  Lucky for me, they have the same favorite!  For me, German pancakes with powdered sugar and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice remind of breakfast on Christmas morning.  Growing up, German pancakes were a Christmas breakfast tradition.

German Pancakes

1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cups milk
6 large eggs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Place 1/2 cup butter in a 9x13 pan and place in oven until butter is melted and bubbly.  In a blender combine eggs, milk, and flour.  Pour the batter into the hot pan over the melted butter.  Place pan in preheated oven and bake for 20-25 minutes.  Serve with powdered sugar and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Grammy's Chocolate Cookies

These cookies remind me of the Christmas season and are my favorite holiday cookie.  I love this chocolate cookie enough to make all year long, but for some reason I always wait until after Thanksgiving to start making them.  I like to make the dough and keep it in my fridge, this way it's ready to bake whenever I need a chocolate treat.  Throughout the month of December my little family and I enjoy many nights filled with warm chocolate cookies and hot chocolate to keep us nice and toasty while it is freezing cold outside.  Beware, these cookies are very easy to eat and I have been known to eat more then I should on many occasions!

Grammy’s Chocolate Cookies

2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 sticks butter, room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar, plus more for dipping
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.  Set aside.  In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Add eggs and vanilla, and beat to combine.  Reduce speed to low, and gradually add flour and cocoa mixture; beat to combine.  Form dough into a flattened disk, wrap with plastic wrap, and chill until firm, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  Shape dough into 1 1/2-inch-diameter balls.  Roll each ball in sugar.  Place on prepared baking sheets and flatten slightly with the bottom of a glass.  Bake until set, 10-12 minutes.

*I always make my balls of dough smaller then 1 1/2-inch-diameter.

Recipe from Martha Stewart Holiday Cookies Magazine

Friday, December 2, 2011

Gingerbread Boy Cookies

I love this time of year!  There is something magical about Christmas that makes me feel all tight inside.  I love that with this season comes traditions, traditions that I have grown up with and the new ones that I have started with my own little family.  Gingerbread boys are a tradition that started when I was small by my Grandma Pinegar and is now one that I do with my little ones.  Every year at the beginning of December my Grandma Pinegar would have all of the grandkids come to her house to make gingerbread boy chains.  In the "Big Room" there would be stacks of gingerbread boys, plastic wrap, curling ribbon, piping bags of icing and small bowls of red hots and chocolate chips.  With a little (or a lot of) help, all of the grandkids would make their own gingerbread boy chains to take home.  It was our own little advent calendar and every day we would get to eat a little gingerbread boy until Christmas day finally arrived.  The extra gingerbread boys were decorated with icing, chocolate chips, red hots and then eaten.  I am grateful for Christmas memories and traditions that make this time of year so wonderful and for a Grandma who loved us enough to make soooo many gingerbread boys!

Gingerbread Boy Cookies

2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 cup molasses
3/4 cup butter
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

To prepare cookies, lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups and level with a knife.  Combine flour, salt, baking soda, and spices, stirring with a whisk.  Place butter and granulated sugar in a large bowl and beat with a mixer at high speed until light and fluffy.  Add egg, and beat until well blended.  Beat in vanilla and molasses.  Reduce speed to low.  Add the flour mixture to butter mixture; beat just until combined.

Shape dough into a 4-inch round and cover with plastic wrap.  Chill for 1 hour.  Roll dough to 1/4-inch thickness on a lightly floured surface.  Cut out cookies with a gingerbread boy cookie cutter, rerolling scraps as necessary.  Place cookies on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Bake at 350 for 9 minutes or until lightly browned.  Cool on wire rack.

*I like my gingerbread boys crispy and so I rolled them a bit thinner than a 1/4-inch.

Recipe adapted slightly from Cooking Light Magazine

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Black Bean-Tomato Soup with Cilantro-Lime Cream

This soup is really yummy, but Stella is my only child that likes it and so cheesy quesadillas are always served on the side.  I like to make this soup just for me to eat for lunch when I don't have to listen to anyone complaining.

Black Bean-Tomato Soup with Cilantro-Lime Cream

2 center-cut bacon slices, chopped
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped celery
1 teaspoon ground cumin, divided
1/2 teaspoon chile powder
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (14-ounce) can less-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro
1/2 teaspoon grated lime rind
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

Cook bacon in a large saucepan over medium heat until crisp.  Remove bacon with slotted spoon, reserving 1 teaspoon drippings in pan; set bacon aside.  Add onion and celery to pan; cook 5 minutes or until celery is tender.  Stir in 3/4 teaspoon cumin, chile powder, and garlic; cook 1 minute.  Stir in bacon, pepper, beans, tomatoes, and broth; bring to a boil.  Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes.  Place half of bean mixture in a blender.  Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender.  Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters).  Blend until smooth.  Pour into a large bowl.  Repeat procedure with remaining bean mixture; process until smooth.  Keep warm.

Combine sour cream, remaining 1/4 teaspoon cumin, cilantro, rind, and juice in a small bowl.  Drizzle cream over soup.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

French Breakfast Puffs

I love these little buttery bites!  Preston calls them doughnuts and he thinks that he ate at least 4 for breakfast (maybe more) this morning.  I did the math looking at how many I baked and how many the rest of us ate.  He only had three, but he still doesn't believe me!

French Breakfast Puffs

1/3 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup butter, melted
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350.  Lightly grease 12 muffin cups.

In a bowl of a standing mixer cream together the butter and sugar.  Add the egg to the butter mixture and beat until light and fluffy.

Sift together dry ingredients.  Add alternately with the milk to the butter mixture until combined.  Don't over mix.  Spoon batter into muffin cups and bake 20-25 minutes until golden.

In a bowl melt 1/2 cup butter.  In a separate bowl combine the sugar and cinnamon.  While the muffins are still warm, dip in butter, coating thoroughly, then coat with the cinnamon and sugar.  Serve while warm (this is a must)!

*I use a mini-muffin tin because I like little bites and I also get more buttery, cinnamon-sugar goodness in each bite!  I usually fill about 18 mini-muffin cups and bake for about 12 minutes.
*To make these extra special try browning the butter that you use to dip the muffin in before the cinnamon sugar.  It takes these delicious little breakfast bites over the top!!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Sweet Potato Buttermilk Dinner Rolls

This recipe makes a perfectly delicious little roll to use for a day after Thanksgiving turkey sandwich.  I thought the recipe seemed fitting for the season because it uses sweet potatoes.

Sweet Potato Buttermilk Dinner Rolls

1 cup mashed sweet potato or yam, slightly warm or at room temperature
2 cups buttermilk, at room temperature
1 egg, at room temperature
1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
1/4 cup sugar
2 packets active dry yeast
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
6-7 cups bread flour

In a large bowl, or the bowl of your stand mixer, whisk together mashed sweet potato, buttermilk, egg, butter, sugar and yeast.  Let the mixture sit for a few minutes while you measure out about 7 cups of flour.

Using the paddle attachment for you stand mixer, stir in one cup of flour along with the salt.  Gradually add more flour, about a cup at a time, until a soft dough begins to form.  If using a stand mixer, switch to the dough hook and knead on medium speed for 6-7 minutes, adding a little more flour as needed to make a moderately soft dough that mostly clears the sides of the bowl.  If mixing and kneading by hand, dump the dough out onto a floured surface when it gets too hard to mix with a spoon.  Using well-floured hands, knead the dough for 8-10 minutes, adding flour as necessary to keep the dough from sticking to work surface and hands.

When you finish kneading, the dough should be moderately soft and tacky, but not sticky.  Scrape the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead a few times to form a smooth ball of dough.  Spray the inside of a bowl with nonstick cooking spray and place dough inside bowl.  Spray the top the dough to prevent it from drying out.  Cover the bowl with a towel or plastic wrap.  Let dough rise until it has doubled in bulk.

When dough has doubled, push it down with your fists to deflate it and dump it out onto a lightly floured surface.  Cut the dough in half with a knife or bench scraper then cut each half into 8 equal pieces (or more if you want smaller rolls).  Cover pieces with a towel and let rest for a few minutes before shaping.  While dough is resting, preheat your oven to 375 degrees and move two oven racks towards the center of the oven.  Also, line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Shape rolls by rolling against the work surface or between your hands to form balls.  Divide the rolls between the two baking sheets, and cover with a towel or plastic wrap.  Let rolls rise for about 20-30 minutes then remove towel and place baking sheet in preheated oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until they are puffed and lightly brown.  Rotate sheets halfway through baking time (move bottom to top and vice versa).

Let rolls cool slightly and serve immediately.  Or, if making ahead, let rolls cool completely on wire racks then place in Ziploc bags.  To reheat, wrap rolls in foil and place in 375 degree oven for a few minutes until heated through.

Recipe from Pinch My Salt

Friday, November 25, 2011

Buttermilk Pie

My friend Susanna gave me this recipe years ago and it has become a Thanksgiving tradition.  The Thanksgiving feast wouldn't be complete without this pie and my mom's famous pumpkin pie.

Buttermilk Pie

Pie Crust (this is my mama's recipe)

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups shorteining
1 large egg, beaten
1 tablespoon vinegar
4 tablespoons ice cold water

In a food processor mix together the flour and salt.  Drop shortening into flour in small spoonfuls.  Pulse food processor 4 to 5 times.  The mixture should look very coarse and crumbly.  Pour the flour shortening mixture into a large bowl.

In a small bowl combine egg, vinegar and water and mix well.  Pour over flour mixture and mix gently with a fork or wooden spoon just until dough comes together and ingredients are incorporated.

Divide dough in half and wrap in plastic wrap and form into discs.  Let dough chill refrigerator for 30 minutes.

When ready to use, with a rolling pin, roll pie dough out on a floured surface starting in the middle and working your way out.  Roll dough a 1/2" larger in diameter than your pie pan.  Place pie dough in pie pan and finish edges.

Buttermilk Filling

3 3/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup butter, melted
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon butter extract

In a large bowl combine the eggs and sugar and beat until well combined.  Add the buttermilk and mix.  Next add the melted butter, flour, salt, vanilla and butter extract.  Mix until ingredients are well combined and smooth.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Pour into two 9" unbaked pie shells and bake for 60 minutes or until custard is set (mine will still be slightly jiggly in the center and will continue to set as the pie cools).  I usually tent foil over my pie after about 40 minutes of baking so that the pie crust and the top of the pie doesn't get too dark.  Let cool to room temperature before serving.  Serve with raspberry sauce and freshly whipped cream.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Sesame Noodles

I used a new recipe for lettuce wraps tonight and I think I liked the flavor better than the ones that I usually make.  Sometimes it's hard to tell when I am not tasting them side by side.  I will share the recipe soon, but tonight to go alongside the lettuce wraps, simple sesame noodles.  Tonights meal is one of Preston's favorites!

Sesame Noodles

12 ounces, thin noodles, cooked and drained
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons sugar
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
3 tablespoons sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon chili garlic sauce (add more if you want more heat)
1 tablespoons hot water
4 whole green onions, sliced thin

Whisk all ingredients (except noodles and green onions) together in a bowl.  Taste and adjust ingredients as needed.  Pour sauce over warm noodles and toss to coat.  Sprinkle with green onions and toss.  Serve.

*The original recipe calls for an additional 4 tablespoons of canola oil to add volume to the sauce.  I found that the noodles were too oily, so I always leave it out.

Adapted from Pioneer Women Cooks

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Apple Crumb Coffee Cakes

We had these apple crumb coffee cakes for breakfast this morning.  They were a delightful way to start a cold, fall morning!

Apple Crumb Coffee Cakes

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Crumb Cakes:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
3/4 cup sour cream
1 large egg, beaten
1 large Granny Smith apple, peeled and finely diced

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Make the streusel:  In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour with the brown sugar and salt.  Add the butter pieces and mix at medium-low speed until the mixture resembles coarse meal; continue mixing the streusel until very small clumps form.  Transfer the streusel to a large plate and refrigerate until it is well chilled, about 10 minutes.

Make the crumb cakes:  Line 18 standard-size muffin cups with paper liners.  Spray the liners with vegetable oil cooking spray.  In the mixer bowl, combine the flour with the granulated sugar, salt, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon.  Add the butter pieces and beat at low speed until the mixture resembles coarse meal.  Add the sour cream and beaten egg and beat until the batter is smooth.  Add the diced apple and beat just until incorporated. 

Fill the muffin cups halfway with the crumb cake batter.  Press the streusel into clumps and sprinkle on top.  Bake the crumb cakes in the center of the oven for about 25-30 minutes, until risen, golden and springy to the touch; rotate the pans halfway through baking.  Let the crumb cakes cool slightly before serving. 

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Pumpkin Bread

October has passed and I haven't shared my favorite pumpkin bread recipe.  This year I couldn't even wait until October 1st to make my first loaf.  My little family loves this bread with the addition of semi-sweet chocolate chips.  It is especially delicious warm out of the oven when each bite has little bits of melted chocolate goodness.  Today, when Noah and Preston finished eating a slice, the evidence (melted chocolate) was all around their mouths!

Pumpkin Bread

3 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs, beaten
2 cups canned pumpkin
3 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
2/3 cup water
2 heaping cups chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease and flour 2 large loaf pans.

In a large bowl combine sugar and oil and mix well.  Add eggs and pumpkin; mix well.  Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices.  Add flour mixture alternately with water to the pumpkin mixture, ending with flour.  Stir in chocolate chips if using.  Pour into greased and floured loaf pans.  Bake for 1 1/2 hours or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (mine usually doesn't take this long).  Tent loaves with foil if they begin to brown too much.