Monday, September 27, 2010

Mmmm Mmmm Mmmm - Apple Dumplings!

Since our kids were small we've planned a trip each year to visit Eckert's Farms to pick apples in the fall.  The kids are almost all grown up now, but they still love to go and enjoy all of the activities, good food, and apple picking.  A few pictures of this year's trip follow.  It was a cold and drizzly/rainy day, but we still managed to have fun.  Christian's pig, Lindsey Loham won the first pig race, and his daddy's pig won the pig olympics for the USA.  The Presson family had a good showing in the pig races!

Now, it's time to do something with all of those apples.  Apple Dumplings are a family favorite.  It usually takes a full day to make enough to freeze for tasty treats all winter.  This is a time consuming dessert, but trust me, it's well worth the trouble.

4 cups flour
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder

Add milk to make a soft dough.  Roll out and cut into squares.  Fill each square with apples and cinnamon sugar.  Drop into boiling water for 20 minutes.  Remove and allow to drain.  Serve in a bowl topped with melted butter and cinnamon sugar.

If you are planning to freeze these for future use, remove them from the boiling water and allow to drain well and cool.  Place in freezer bags, and freeze for future use.

A trip to Eckert's is always full of fun for the young ones, teenagers, parents, and grandparents.  .  Christian was wide-eyed and just took everything in.  He was looking into the Parakeet Experience Cage in this picture.  There were so many of them.  There are pony rides and carnival rides too.  One of our favorites is watching the pumpkin lobber.  Go check it out for yourself.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Soup Weather Has Arrived - Pumpkin Soup in a Pumpkin

I love fall.  It's the beginning of soup weather, and I'm definitely a soup person.

I'm a big fan of pumpkin, and I found the following recipe on Saveur's website.  It sounds delicious and I'm sure it will look wonderful being served from inside a pumpkin.

1 - 7 lb Cinderella pumpkin with a 2" stem
7 Tbsp butter
1 large yellow onion (peeled and finely chopped)
1 1/2 cups fresh white bread crumbs (toasted)
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground sage
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup grated Swiss cheese (I don't like Swiss, so I'll use Mozzarella)
4 cups chicken stock
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup heavy cream (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cut a lid about 4" in diameter out of top of pumpkin and set lid aside.  Remove and discard seeds and strings.  Rub inside of pumpkin and lid with 1 Tbsp softened butter, season with salt and place on a baking pan.

Melt remaining 6 Tbsp butter in a skillet over medium heat.  Add onions and cook until soft, about 10 minutes.  Stir in bread crumbs and cook for 2 minutes, then add nutmeg and sage and season generously with salt and pepper.  Remove from heat, stir in cheese, then spoon mixture into pumpkin.  Pour enough stock into pumpkin to come within 1/2" of the rim.  Lay bay leaves on top, then fit lid onto pumpkin.

Bake until pumpkin begins to soften and brown on the outside and the stock bubbles on the inside, about 1 1/2 hours.  Carefully remove from oven and transfer to a serving platter.  With a long-handled spoon, scrape flesh from bottom and sides of pumpkin and, just before serving, stir in heavy cream if using.

Just as a side note:  I'm concerned that the structure of the pumpkin may collapse when the pumpkin is scraped from the inside of the pumpkin.  Make sure this is on a sturdy surface that will accommodate all of the hot liquid if the pumpkin does collapse.

I also think I might like to scoop out the pumpkin and puree it and add it back to the simmering stock inside the pumpkin, otherwise it may be too stringy.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Roasted Red Potatoes with Bacon & Cheese

1/2 cup Ranch Dressing
1/2 cup 2% Milk Shredded Cheddar Cheese
1/4 cup Oscar Mayer Real Bacon Bits
2 lbs small red potatoes (about 6) quartered
1 Tbsp copped fresh parsley

Heat oven to 350 degrees
Mix first 3 ingredients in large bowl.  Add potatoes; toss to coat.
Spoon into 13 x 9" baking dish sprayed with cooking spray; cover.
Bake 55 minutes, or until potatoes are tender, uncovering after 50 minutes.  Sprinkle with parley.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Cooking Classes at Dierbergs School of Cooking

I posted a recipe using a new product, Just Bare Chicken, a couple of days ago.  Today, I received an e-mail from a marketing company thanking me for blogging about the product and offering me a free cooking class at Dierbergs School of Cooking working with the product.  Culinary expert, Lisa Golden Schroeder, will take part in the class.

I am really excited.  I love new recipes and I'll have the chance to meet another foodie.  I'll post an update after the class.

Stay tuned!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Herbed Chicken Cutlet Saute

My weekly trip to Dierbergs provided yet another interesting way to fix chicken.  This recipe is really compliments of Just Bare Chicken.  

Chicken breast cutlets cooked in a delicate white wine and butter sauce create a simple yet stunning centerpiece for any meal.  Pounding chicken pieces - boneless breasts or thighs -- into evenly thin cutlets makes cooking much quicker (thighs will take a little longer to cook than breasts).

For the chicken --
1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp seasoned salt
Freshly ground pepper
1 package (14 oz) Just Bare Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast Fillets
1 Tbsp olive oil

For the butter sauce --
3/4 cup dry white wine or chicken broth (I prefer the chicken broth)
2 Tbsp cold butter, cut into pieces
3 Tbsp finely chopped combination of sage, Italian parsley, and rosemary  (If you don't have fresh, use 1/2 tsp each of dried sage, parsley and rosemary.)

Mix flour and salt and pepper in shallow dish.

Place chicken breasts between two sheets of waxed paper.  Gently pound the chicken with a rolling pin or meat mallet until evenly flattened to about 1/4" thick.

Dredge chicken pieces in seasoned flour.  Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat.  Use a super hot skillet and don't overcrowd the pan, so the chicken get beautifully browned.  

Cook chicken in hot skillet for 4 - 5 minutes, turning once, until crisp and golden, and chicken is fork-tender with no hint of pink in the meat.  Remove to plate; keep warm.

Then make the sauce in the same pan -- efficiency at its finest!  Add broth or wine to skillet and boil for about 5 minutes or until reduced by half.  Remove from heat and whisk in butter and herbs.  Serve chicken with herbed butter sauce.  

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Football Food - I love this time of year

I had the opportunity to introduce my grandson, Christian, to Football Sunday at Grammy's house today.  What a pleasure.  Poor boy, didn't know what hit him.

First, I taught him to throw his arms in the air and yell. Christian just yelled, but Grammy yelled "Go Rams"!  We'll keep working on that one.  He thought it was lots of fun anyway.  And . . . he liked the food prep. He helped me taste test everything.

Pulled Pork

Place two pork tenderloins (about 2 lbs each)
Sprinkle heavily with Smoky BBQ Seasoning
2/3 cup vinegar
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup of your favorite BBQ sauce

Cook in slow crock pot for four hours.  Remove meat and shred.
Return shredded meat the crock pot and add 1 1/2 cups BBQ Sauce.  Cook over low heat for 1/2 hour.

I served this with coleslaw with Aunt Irene's Coleslaw Dressing and Butternut Squash with Maple

Maple - Butternut Squash

2 medium butternut squash (about 6 lbs)
6 Tbsp unsalted butter
6 Tbsp pure maple syrup, Grade B for strongest flavor
3 tsp coarse kosher salt, plus more to taste

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 1/2 hours covered by foil.  Scrape all into bowl and mix well.  Sprinkle with salt.  Smash squash with maple and butter to serve.  Yummy!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Red Potato Salad

There are so many potato salad recipes.  Some I like and some I don't like.  I found this recipe on the Kraft website.  .  It's quick and easy, and . . . it tastes good.

2 lbs red potatoes (5 - 6 large) peeled and cubed
1 tsp salt
3 hard-cooked eggs (divided)
1/2 cup Miracle Whip
2 ribs celery, finely chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 small onion (finely chopped)
3 Tbsp sweet pickle relish
3 Tbsp yellow mustard
1 Tbsp sugar
Dash of Paprika

Cook potatoes in boiling salted water in large saucepan 10 - 15 minutes or just until tender; drain.  Cool.

Meanwhile, chop 2 eggs; slice remaining egg.  Mix Miracle Whip, celery, onions, chopped eggs, relish, mustard and sugar in large bowl.  Gently stir in potatoes.

Top with sliced egg and paprika.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Roast Chicken with Sage & Garlic

1 - 4 lb chicken
1 lemon
1 tsp sage
3 cloves garlic (minced)
6 Tbsp butter (at room temp)
Kosher salt
2 Tbsp olive oil
Ground black pepper, to taste
2 tsp dried parsley
2 small onions (quartered)
2 carrots (cut into 2" pieces

Heat oven to 475 degrees.  Rinse and dry chicken.

Peel lemon.  Finely chop lemon peel, and combine with sage and minced garlic.  Place in a bowl.  Add butter and 1 tsp salt.  Stir to combine.  Quarter the peeled lemon and set aside.

Loosen the skin of the chicken from the breasts and thighs.  Slip butter mixture between skin and flesh, spreading it evenly.  Rub skin with oil; season skin and cavity with salt and pepper to taste.  Stuff with quartered lemon, parsley and 1 quartered onion.  Tie legs together with kitchen twine, if you like.

Put remaining quartered onion and carrots into center of roasting pan and place chicken on top of them.  Roast for 20 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 400 degrees.  Continue roasting for about one more hour.  Transfer chicken to a platter; sprinkle with salt and let rest for 10 minutes before carving.

Monday, September 13, 2010

I Needed a Quick Dinner Tonight, But Wanted Something Yummy & Healthy

Tonight was a rare night.  No one was working late.  Everyone was home by 8:00.  That's almost unheard of anymore.  Hmmm . . . one hour to fix dinner.

I defrosted three beef petite shoulder medallions (1/2 lb each).  I let them sit on a cutting board sprinkled with McCormick's Grill Mates Smokehouse Maple seasoning on both sides for 1/2 hour.  This was the first time I had used this seasoning.  The label suggested using it on chicken, salmon, or pork; I thought it would be an interesting flavor on beef.  It was - it's smoky, it's sweet, and it's delicious.  The medallions were grilled in the grill pan, six minutes on each side, and then turned one more time and allowed to sit under the press with the burner turned off.    You'll be surprised how tender, juicy, and flavorful these are. (You can find the petite medallions at Dierbergs in the butcher's case.)

We had baked sweet potato fries.  I found them in the freezer case at the grocery store.  I sprinkled them with Lawry's Seasoning Salt and put them in the oven for 20 minutes while the steaks cooked.   They were so good.  Even the kids couldn't get enough of them.

Lastly, we had steamed green beans.  I had a pound and a half of fresh green beans in the fridge.  Once they were snipped and sliced, I put them into a Ziploc Veggie Steamer bag with a little bit of salt, two crushed chicken bullion cubes dissolved in 1/4 cup water, and 3 Tbsp butter.  The bag went into the microwave on high power for 7 minutes.  The beans were so good!  (If you don't have time to snip fresh beans, use frozen.  The results shouldn't be too different.)

Maybe I was just hungry tonight, but dinner was good.  I'll definitely be planning a repeat in the near future.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Grilled Balsamic Chicken

I'm always looking for new ways to fix chicken.  I found this recipe on the iVillage website.  It looks like a good one.  I think we'll try it this week.

8 bonelss, skinless chicken breast halves
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 cup balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2/3 cup chopped scallions
2 Tbsp minced garlic
2 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp ground pepper
2 Tbsp sugar
1/4 cup Dijon mustard

Rinse chicken and pat dry.  Place in a gallon-size zip-top plastic bag.  Combine chicken broth and remaining ingredients in a mixing bowl.

Reserve 1/2 cup marinade; pour remaining marinade over chicken.  Seal bag, and refrigerate up to 24 hours, turning occasionally.

Grill chicken, uncovered, at medium high for 5 minutes on each side or until cooked through, basting with reserved 1/2 cup marinade every few minutes.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Honey Balsamic Vinegar Vinaigrette

Thanks to P. Allen Smith for the following basic sweet vinaigrette salad dressing.  I'm a big fan of his website -  Be sure to visit for gardening and cooking ideas.

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup honey
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup water
2 cloves fresh garlic (minced)
1 tsp lemon pepper
1/2 tsp salt

To the vinegar add the honey and extra virgin olive oil. Next add the water and blend.
Add the minced fresh garlic, 1 teaspoon of lemon pepper and about 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Stir the mixture until it's well blended.
There's just something about the chemistry of the honey and the balsamic vinegar. When they come together they are the perfect accent for the spinach salad.
Wait to add the dressing until your ready to serve the salad and then just toss it altogether.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Remember Pork Chops & Applesauce from The Brady Bunch Days - Try This Twist

Apple Chutney
1 Tbsp butter
3 Granny Smith apples (peeled and chopped)
1/4 cup dried cranberries
3 Tbsp brown sugar
3 Tbsp cider vinegar
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp dry mustard
1/8 tsp ground allspice

Pork Chops
3/4 tsp Old Bay seasoning
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp black pepper
4 boneless center-cut pork loin chops

Melt butter in a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add apples and saute until apples begin to soften.  Add cranberries, brown sugar, vinegar, and spices.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally.

While the Apple Chutney simmers, heat a grill pan over medium-high heat.  Combine spices and then sprinkle over pork.  Spray grill pan with cooking spray.  Add seasoned pork to pan and cook 5 minutes on each side or until done.

Serve pork with apple chutney.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Butternut Squash Soup

I found a new Butternut Squash Soup recipe on P Allen Smith's website.  This is one I plan to try.  Fall and Winter are soup seasons for me -- this one may just become another one of my favorites.

1 butternut squash (1 - 2 lbs)
1/2 small onion
1 clove of garlic
1 Tbsp olive oil
3 cups of chicken broth
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup of cream
1/4 cup crushed cashews

Slice the stem off the squash and then halve it lengthwise.  Scoop out the seeds.  Place the squash cut-side down in a glass baking dish with about 1/4" of water.  Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil.  Bake in a pre-heated 374 degree oven until tender, about 30 - 45 minutes.

In a saucepan heat olive oil.  Saute onions, garlic and thyme until onion is tender.  This should take about 10 minutes.

Remove the squash from the oven, allow to cool.  Scoop out the meat.  Place 1/2 of the squash, onion, garlic, thyme and 1 1/2 cups of chicken broth in food processor or blender.  Mix until smooth.  Transfer to a sauced pan.  Repeat process with other half of squash and remaining broth and add to sauce pan.

Add the cream and then season with salt and pepper.  Heat the soup through, but not to the point of boiling.

Serve hot garnished with crushed cashews and fresh thyme.

Happy Labor Day!

We had an absolutely beautiful weekend in St. Louis.  Our weather was picture perfect!  We spent Saturday hiking at Rockwood Reservation and then back home to watch the kids drive Paul's racing go-cart through the yard and neighborhood.  Paul can really get that baby moving.  Luke was starting to get pretty comfortable zooming around the yard by the end of the day.  Emma's luck wasn't quite so good.  The engine just wouldn't stay running for her.  Perhaps that was a sign . . .

We finished up the day with lots of good BBQ -- brats, burgers, corn on the cob, grilled veggies, baked potatoes, baked beans, and salad.  Yummy seedless watermelon and cantaloupe for dessert.

Saturday we found time for yardwork and flooring projects.  Late afternoon, I even found time for a nap.  Sunday found us spending time outdoors in the morning, and then finishing up living room flooring in the afternoon.  Had to spend a little bit of time shopping too.

We're going back to work tomorrow pretty well-rested after a productive and fun weekend.

Sure hope your weekend was just as enjoyable!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Apple Crisp

I love this time of year!  It's apple season.  Honeycrisp and Jonathans are in season right now.  In my opinion, Jonathans are the perfect mix of sweet and tart.

5 cups pared and sliced apples
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon

3/4 cup oatmeal
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter

Arrange apples in a 9 x 9" baking pan.  In a small bowl, mix sugar and cinnamon together; sprinkle over apples.  Mix together all ingredients for oatmeal topping except butter.  Cut butter into mixture and work with fingertips until mixture is crumbly.  spoon oatmeal topping over top of apples and pat firmly. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 - 40 minutes until a crust is formed.  Serve hot or cold.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Fettuccini Alfredo with Honey Lemon Pepper Chicken and Herbed Summer Green Beans

As a mom, my favorite dinners are the ones that get a "Wow" or two from the family.  This one did just that.

Marinate three chicken breasts in 2 Tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp Lemon Pepper seasoning, and 2 Tbsp honey for 30 minutes.

While the chicken is marinating, wash and stem 2 lbs of fresh green beans.  Place them in a saucepan with 2 cups of water and one chicken bullion cube.   Bring to a boil and cook for six minutes.  Drain and pour into serving bowl.

While the beans are cooking, break 1 lb of fettuccini into a large pot of boiling water with 1 Tbsp salt.  Boil for 11 - 13 minutes until it reaches desired doneness.  Pour two jars of your favorite Alfredo Sauce into a saucepan and heat over medium heat.

Place the chicken breasts on a hot grill pan and cook for six minutes on each side.  Remove from heat and turn over again.  Allow to sit on the grill pan for 6 more minutes before slicing.

To finish the beans, combine 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar, 2 tsp olive oil, 1/2 tsp Rosemary leaves, 1/2 tsp Thyme, salt and pepper to taste.  Mix well and pour over the green beans.  Stir to coat.  Reheat in the microwave for one minute and then stir again.

To top it off, Emma made chocolate cupcakes with butter cream frosting.  Mmmmm!