Monday, November 30, 2009

Sweet Potato Casserole

I love sweet potatoes. It is one of those things that has to be at my holiday table. I have a tried and true but it has a streusel topping that has nuts. C has a sensitivity to tree nuts and I wanted him to eat it and not worry about the nuts this recipe just has nuts in the topping with can be put on part. This recipe made a self-proclaimed sweet potato hater ask for seconds - yay!

Sweet Potato Casserole

4 pounds sweet potatoes
1 cup evaporated milk
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 eggs
Cooking spray

3/4 cup miniature marshmallows
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon chilled butter, cut into pieces
1/4 - 1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted

Preheat oven to 425º. Wash sweet potatoes and pierce with a fork  On a foil lined baking sheet, bake sweet potatoes for about an hour. Turn once while baking. Depending on the size of your potatoes, start checking about 45 minutes. They are done when a fork or knife is inserted easily.

Let cool.

Peel potaotes, and place into a large bowl. You should be able to do this with your hands. Add evaporated milk, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1 teaspoon salt and vanilla. Beat with a mixer until smooth. Add eggs; beat well. Scrape mixture into an 11x7-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.

Sprinkle marshmallows over top of casserole. Combine topping ingredients, flour through salt, in a small bowl. Cut butter in with a pastry blender or fork until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in pecans and sprinkle over potato mixture and marshmallows. Bake at 375º for 30 minutes or until golden brown.

I sprinkled the pecans on half the casserole, then sprinkle the remaining topping over the whole casserole.

You can also bake this in a 13x9-inch casserole and double the topping ingredients.

To toast the nuts: put nuts in a small pan over medium heat. Stir frequently, being careful not to let the nuts burn. The nuts will get a nice brown color and smell nutty.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Easy Dinner Rolls

These rolls have become a stand-by for me. They are easy to make and are a favorite with everyone. The dough is sinilar to a brioche with eggs, butter and sugar. The dough is made ahead, which is very convient. There is also no kneading This is a good recipe for someone who is afraid of baking with yeast.

Easy Dinner Rolls

1 cup warm water (105º F to 115º F)
2 packages active dry yeast or 5 teaspoons if using bulk
1/2 cup butter, melted (1 stick)
1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
4 to 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
melted butter (optional)

Combine yeast and warm water in a large bowl. (The water should be warm enough to stick your hand in and be comfortable). Let the mixture stand until yeast is foamy, about 5 minutes.

Stir in sugar, butter, eggs and salt. Beat in flour 1 cup at a time until dough is too stiff to mix. Dough should be pulling from the edge of the bowl. Some flour may not be needed. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours or up to 4 days.

Grease a 9x13 pan. Turn the chilled dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide dough into 24 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a smooth round ball. Place balls in even rows in the prepared pan. Cover and let dough balls rise until double in volume, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 375º F. Bake until rolls are golden brown, about 20 minutes. Brush warm rolls with melted butter, if desired. Break rolls apart to serve.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Best Turkey and Turkey Gravy

I will aplogize right now for not having any pictures. We were all ready to eat Thanksgiving dinner and really, sliced turkey with some gravy isn't exactly that exciting. The whole, roasted turkey did look great though.

Anyway, this year I made the best gravy I have ever made in my life. I am so excited as gravy has been a challenge for me - until now. I've tried the make-ahead where you roast turkey wings etc., make stock, the whole nine yards. To me, it was not worth the trouble. I've tried random recipes and methods. This recipe was easy and tasted so good. I am sure it was also because of the juices from the turkey too - which I brine and is the only way I will make turkey. It is the best turkey, period. It is a little extra work but the end result is worth it - moist, juicy, flavorful turkey.

Brined Turkey
Adapted from Alton Brown

1 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 gallon chicken broth or stock
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1/2 tablespoon allspice berries
1/2 tablespoon candied ginger
1 gallon ice water
1 turkey - I used a 16 pounder

Combine all brine ingredients, except ice water, in a stock pot, and bring to a boil. Stir to dissolve solids, then remove from heat, cool to room temperature, and rerigerate until thoroughly chilled.

Early the on the day of cooking,  (or late the night before) combine the brine and ice water in a clean 5-gallon bucket. Place thawed turkey, breast side down in brine, cover and refrigerate in a cool area (like a garage or basement) overnight (or as little as six hours). Turn turkey over once (I don't always do this).

Preheat oven to 325 degrees

Remove bird from the brine and rinse inside and out with cold water Discard brine. Place bird on roasting rack, coated with oil or nonstick spray, inside a low pan and pat dry with paper towels. Tuck back wings and coat liberally with canola oil.

I then roast on the lowest rack of the oven until the thickest part of the breast reaches 161 degrees. At about 2/3 of the way through roasting, lightly shield the breast with aluminum foil. Let turkey rest 30 minutes before carving.

Classic Turkey Gravy

Drippings from 1 roasted turkey
1 to 1 1/2 cups turkey or chicken stock or broth
4 to 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
salt and pepper to taste

Pour turkey drippings into a 2-cup measuring cup or  fat separator. Skim the fat reserving 2 tablespoons. Add enough broth/stock to measure 2 cups.

In the roasting pan, add the reserved fat from drippings and 1/4 cup flour. Stir to combine. You may need to add a couple more flour. Stir until the fat and flour is smooth and most of the fond is combined.

Transfer this to a saucepan. Over medium heat, gradually whisk in the drippings mixture. Bring to a boil and stir until thickened. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Gobble! Gobble! Gobble!

Since it is only a half day for C today, and his day for snack, I wanted to do something fun. I got permission from his teacher to make something sweet. Sweets are only to be brought in for birthdays. I have seen cakeballs all over and wanted to give them a try. They are easy-peasy and yummy too. I used a boxed cake mix and canned frosting - hey I know my audience - kindergarteners! I made them to look like turkeys - well tried. I think they look pretty cute for my first time at something like this. I think the kids will like them. Moms, don't worry, I am sending in some goldfish crackers too.

Cake Balls

1 box cake mix - 18.25 oz
1 can frosting - I used about 3/4 of the can
Candy Melts/ Chocolate Coating

Bake cake as directed on box. Let cool for about 30 minutes. In a large bowl, using two forks, crumble the cake. I did this in large chunks. Stir in about half a can of frosting. I microwaved it about 30 seconds. Stir cake/ frosting until it sticks together, adding more frosting as needed.

After mixed, refrigerate cake/frosting mix for a couple of hours.

Using a cookie scoop/melon baller/ hands, roll into balls. I froze mine overnight, but they really just need to be chilled. 

Dip into melted candy melts. Voila! Cake Balls.

Friends, don't be surprised if you see some variation of these on my cookie platters this year.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Chicken with Artichokes and Spaghetti

I am always on the lookout for a quick, tasty and easy dinner to make on weeknights. This fit the bill. The ingredients are pantry staples, which is nice. From start to finish, it took about 25 minutes to make, which I think is fantastic. Ray and I both liked it, so it will go to the keeper pile.

Chicken with Artichokes and Spaghetti
Adapted from Everyday Food

Kosher Salt and Ground Pepper
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 pounds chicken breasts, pounded thin and cut into large chunks
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chicken broth
1 can (14 ounces) artichoke hearts, packed in water, rinsed, drained and quartered.
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained
8 ounces spaghetti

Place a large pot of salted water to boil.

Put flour, salt and pepper in a ziploc bag. Add chicken. Shake. My boys love to help at this step. Meanwhile, in a large skillet,  heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high. Shake excess flour off chicken. Cook chicken in batches, adding remaining oil as needed, until golden; 1 to 3 minutes per side; transfer to dish.

Add pasta to boiling water. Cook until al dente; drain.

Add broth to skillet, and bring to a boil; cook until reduced by half. Add artichokes, capers and the chicken with any juices. Gently swirl to combine, and bring just to a boil. Remove skillet from heat.

Serve chicken and sauce over pasta.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Sandwich Bread

I got a Zojirushi Bread Machine a little over a year ago and I can count the number of times we have bought a loaf of bread, since then, on one hand. I got the bread machine because I wanted to know the ingredients in our bread. Up until a month ago, or so, we made the bread in the machine. Now I make the dough in the machine and finish it off in a Pain de Mie (Pullman) Pan. It creates a loaf with square corners, and more similar in size to a store-bought loaf. The boys seem to like it better, for whatever reason. As you can see, the loaf turns out beautiful when baked in the pan. I ONLY use King Arthur Flour. I also use their specialty products that improve the loaf and nutrition.

Sandwich Bread

1 1/2 cup water
1/4 cup Hi-maize
1/4 cup potato flour, I use King Arthur
3 3/4 cup bread flour
1/4 cup powdered milk, I use Baker's Special Dry Milk
1 tablespoon Diastatic Malt Powder
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons yeast

In pan of bread machine, put in water. Mix next seven ingredients, Hi-maize through salt. I use a lidded container and shake it up. Pour flour mixture on top of water. Make a well in the center of the flour and put in yeast. Slice up butter and sprinkle in pan. I put the butter around the edges.
Use dough cycle and complete cycle.

For Pain de Mie

Grease pan, shape loaf into log, place in pan. Cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until just below lip of pan ~ 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350º. Let dough rest with cover of pan on. Bake 25 minutes, remove lid, bake 20 minutes more. Remove from pan and let cool completely.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Macaroni and Cheese

I have a tried and true Macaroni and Cheese. I don't know why I ever stray. I was flipping through one of my cooking magazines and spotted a new recipe that looked good. My parents had just given us a huge chunk of cheddar, so I thought, why not. 55 minutes and 3/4 pound cheddar hand grated later, it was just MEH. It was at least double the amount of hands-on time. The boys took one bite and were not interested. Definitely not a repeater.

Without further ado, here is my tried and true Macaroni and Cheese. I have some friends who ate this at least once a week while in college, and now make it for their families.

Baked Macaroni and Cheese 

2 teaspoons corn starch
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard (optional, but we always use, and it must be Coleman's)
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
2 cups (8oz) shredded American or Cheddar cheese, divided
8 oz elbow pasta (about 1 3/4 cup), cooked al dente

In a medium saucepan, combine first 4 ingredients; stir in milk. Add butter; stirring constantly, bring to a boil over medium-high heat and boil 1 minute. Remove from heat.

Stir in 1 3/4 cups cheese until melted. Add elbows. Pour into greased 2-quart casserole. Sprinkle with reserved cheese.  I usually put all the cheese in and skip putting it on top.

Bake uncovered in 375 º oven 25 minutes or until lightly browned.

Makes 4 to 6 servings

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Swedish Tea Logs

I got this recipe from my mom. She got it from a friend, JoAnn, who is famous for these. The recipe if from 1962  and was a Pillsbury Junior Bake-Off Winner. Ardythe Dey won $1000 for the recipe. 

The recipe was easy to make and is impressive. It is also rich and delicious! I have not seen what a Swedish Tea Log is supposed to look like,  so I winged it. I will put the recipe in its original format.

Swedish Tea Logs

Adapted from Ann Pillsbury

Buttery-rich, no-knead dough wraps around a butter-pecan filling. 
Makes 3 coffee cakes

Mix............... 1 packet of yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons) in 
                     1/4 cup warm water.

Sift Together.  2 1/4 cup flour
                     2 tablespoons sugar
                     1 teaspoon salt
                       into mixing bowl.

Cut in........... 1/2 cup butter until particles are fine.

Add.............. 1/4 cup Evaporated Milk
                    1 unbeaten egg and yeast mixture; mix well. Cover; chill 2 hours               or overnight.

Cream.......... 1/4 cup butter. Add
                    1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar; cream well. Stir in
                    1/2 cup pecans, chopped.

Divide...........dough into thirds. Roll out one part on a floured surface to a 12x6-inch rectangle.
                    Spread with one-third of the filling.

Roll up..........starting with the 12-inch side; seal. Place, crescent shape, on a cookie sheet lined 
                    with aluminum foil. Make cuts along outside edge 1 inch apart to within 1/2 inch of
                    center. Turn cut pieces on sides. Repeat with remaining dough.

Let a warm place until light, about 45 minutes.  350º for 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown. Frost while warm.          

Vanilla Glaze 
Brown 2 tablespoons butter. Add 1 cup sifted powdered sugar and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Stir in 1 to 2 tablespoons evaporated milk until of spreading consistency.