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Bread Week, Part 4 – Go Dutch for Lunch with a Cook’s Country Dutch Crunch Roll

I always have grand ambitions to make my own sandwich rolls for things like hamburgers, sausage and peppers, or just to have for sandwiches for lunch or dinner. I do make them sometimes, but not nearly as often as I wish I had time to and have to make do with what we get from the local store (oh, how I wish we had a real bakery around here!). In any case, I was planning on making chicken sandwiches for dinner recently and decided I was going to make my own rolls for them. I had come across a recipe in Cook’s Country from April/May 2016 for a roll I had not heard of before called a Dutch Crunch. It is a regional roll that is well-known in San Francisco for its combination of a lightly sweet sandwich bread with a crunchy, unique topping. The pictures of the rolls in the magazine looked enticing, so I figured it would be a good one to attempt for dinner.

Cook’s Country Dutch Crunch Rolls

For the Dough:

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/4 cups warm water (110 degrees)

3 tablespoons butter, melted

4 teaspoons granulated sugar

2 1/4 teaspoons instant or rapid-rise yeast

1 teaspoon salt

For the Topping:

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons warm water (110 degrees)

3/4 cup white rice flour

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

2 1/4 teaspoons instant or rapid rise yeast

1/2 teaspoon salt

For the dough, using a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, mix the all-purpose flour, water, melted butter, sugar, yeast, and salt together on low speed until a cohesive mass starts to form, about 2 to 3 minutes. Increase the speed of the mixer to medium and knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic, about 5 to 7 minutes.

Grease a large a bowl and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead the dough briefly to form it into a smooth ball, about 30 seconds. Transfer the dough to the prepared bowl and the dough to coat it. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise at room temperature until it is almost doubled in size and a fingertip depression in the dough springs back slowly, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Gently press down on the center of the dough to deflate it. Place the dough on a clean work surface and divide the dough into 8 equal pieces. Form each piece of dough into a rough ball by pinching and pulling the dough edges under so that the top of the ball is smooth.

Flip each ball onto the smooth side and pat each ball into a 4-inch circle. Fold the top edge of the circle down to the midline, pressing on it to seal it. Fold the bottom edge of the circle up to meet the first seam at the midline and press it to seal it. Fold the dough in half, so the top and the bottom edges come together and pinch the edges together to form a seam. Flip the dough to the seam sound down and gently roll it into a 6-inch log. Arrange the rolls in 2 staggered rows of 4 on the prepared baking sheet. Set the sheet of rolls aside to rise at room temperature until they are almost doubled in size, about 45 minutes. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position of the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

For the topping, 25 minutes before the rolls are finished rising, whisk together the warm water, white rice flour, vegetable oil, sugar, yeast, and salt together in a medium bowl. Cover the bowl and let the topping rise until it has doubled in size, about 20 minutes. Stir the risen topping to deflate it. Spoon 2 tablespoons of the topping over each roll and quickly brush the topping on to evenly coat the roll tops and sides.

Transfer the baking sheet to the oven and bake the rolls until the exteriors are golden brown and craggy and the centers of the rolls register 210 degrees on an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center, about 22 to 25 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through the cooking process. Transfer the rolls to a wire rack and allow them to cool completely before serving.

The process of creating the shape of the rolls sounds more complicated than it really is. Once you do one and get it into the form you want it, the rest are pretty easy for you to do. The topping is pretty thick when you are spreading it on (think pancake batter thick), but it forms a really nice crust onto the roll that you will definitely appreciate. The rolls are soft and chewy on the inside, like you want a sandwich roll to be, and have a really nice crunch on the outside thanks to the rice flour. It is the perfect sandwich bread for anything you might like – deli meats, turkey, chicken, tuna, vegetables – and they hold up quite nicely. We all enjoyed them with our chicken sandwiches and had them for the rest of the week to use for lunch. Like any bread or roll, you do need to plan ahead and give yourself some time to make the dough and let it rise (and buy the rice flour if you don’t happen to have any), but this one that is worth the effort.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day (it is beautiful here again, 72 and sunny and I am wearing shorts in February in NY), and enjoy your meal!

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Posted by on February 24, 2017 in Breads, Cooking, Dinner, Lunch, Sandwiches

 

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Bread Week, Part 3 – A Biscuit That’s Hard to Beat (Literally) – Cook’s Country Derby Biscuits

As we continue you along with bread recipes for this week, I get the chance to post a biscuit recipe that I recently tried. Usually, I don’t stray too far from the norm when I make biscuits. I have 2 recipes I rely on pretty heavily – one for quick biscuits and one for a traditional biscuit. However, when I saw this recipe in an old issue of Cook’s Country, I was intrigued. It is a recipe for what is called derby biscuits. Derby biscuits are basically appetizer biscuits that are perfect for use for small finger appetizers involving meats and cheeses. They are biscuits that have been around for hundreds of years, and the traditional recipe, according to Cook’s Country, is one where the cook needed to beat the dough as a way of leavening it. This was before the days of baking powder and baking soda. The biscuits themselves are very crisp and unique, perfect for use for appetizers. I decided I would give the recipe a try.

Cook’s Country Derby Biscuits

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

8 tablespoons butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces and chilled

1 cup milk, chilled

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Pulse the all-purpose flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt in a food processor until the ingredients are combined, about 3 or 4 pulses. Add the butter pieces and pulse the ingredients until the butter is reduced to pea-sized pieces, about 10 to 12 pulses.

Transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Add the milk and stir the mixture with a rubber spatula until shaggy dough forms. Turn out the dough onto a heavily floured counter and knead the dough until it comes together entirely and feels smooth, with a few small butter flecks still visible, about 8 to 10 turns of the dough.

Roll the dough into an 11-inch circle that is about a 1/2-inch thick. Using a 2-inch biscuit cutter dipped in flour, cut 22 to 23 rounds from the dough. Re-roll the scraps once to a similar thickness as the original dough and cut out 5 or 6 more rounds to yield 28 biscuits. Space the biscuits evenly on the prepared baking sheet. Prick each biscuit 3 times with the tines of a fork.

Bake the biscuits in the oven until the tops of the biscuits are a light golden brown, about 27 to 30 minutes, rotating the baking sheet about halfway through the cooking process. Let the biscuits cool on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack. Serve the biscuits warm or at room temperature.

Of course, the new recipe doesn’t involve beating the dough by hand and makes good use of the food processor and baking powder to mix everything and get the proper texture for the biscuits. The biscuits are very crispy on the outside and still tender on the inside, almost like a cross between a biscuit and a cracker. There is also a hint of sweetness in the biscuits from the sugar and milk that is quite nice. While I  initially served the biscuits with our dinner, I found they worked great for a breakfast biscuit with a piece of sausage on them. I think they would go very well for a small ham and biscuit appetizer or even with some cheese on them. I could also see them going nicely with some jam, preserves or jelly. One thing I will say about the recipe I tried – I didn’t get 28 biscuits out of the dough. I did get 20 (the small biscuits in the picture are what I call the “dog biscuits,” since I usually make 1 or 2 sized for him), and perhaps I didn’t roll the dough out into a large enough circle to get more, but in any case, I got plenty of biscuits for just the three of us to use for days. I would certainly keep this one in mind again to use for a party where we wanted appetizers with biscuits because it is easy to make and yields a nice product.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day (it is beautiful here in NY, sunny and in the mid-60s) and enjoy your meal!

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Posted by on February 23, 2017 in Appetizers, Breakfast, Cooking, Dinner, Side Dishes, Snacks

 

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Welcome to Bread Week! – Starting Off with Cook’s Country English Muffin Bread

I decided since I have a backlog of bread recipes that I have made recently that each post this week will be for one of the different bread types I have tried. Breadmaking is one of my favorite things to do, and I make lots of different things all the time, to the point where I know have 8 different flours occupying space in my cabinets. I am always on the lookout for a new bread recipe to try, and this one from Cook’s Country for English muffin bread seemed like a good one to start with. I have made homemade English muffins before, and they turned out great, but the process can be quite time-consuming. This recipe offers you the same texture and chew that you expect from a traditional English muffin in bread form and it is much easier to put together.

English Muffin Bread

Cornmeal

5 cups bread flour

4 1/2 teaspoons instant or rapid-rise yeast

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

3 cups warm milk (120 degrees)

Grease two 8 1/2 by 4 1/2-inch loaf pans and dust each pan with cornmeal. Combine the bread flour, yeast, sugar, salt and baking soda in a large bowl. Stir in the warm milk until it is combined, about 1 minute. Cover the dough with greased plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm place for 30 minutes, or until the dough is bubbly and has doubled in size.

Stir the dough and divide it equally between the two pans, pushing the dough into the corners of the loaf pan with a greased spatula. The pans should be about two-thirds full of dough. Cover the pans with greased plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm place until the dough reaches the edges of the pans, about 30 minutes. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 375 degrees.

Discard the plastic wrap covering the pans and transfer the pans to the oven. Bake the bread, switching and rotating the pans halfway through the baking process, until the loaves are well browned and register 200 degrees on an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the bread., about 30 minutes. Turn the bread out onto a wire rack and allow the bread to cool completely, about 1 hour.

If you are looking for a great bread to toast, this one is it. The texture is very similar to what you get from an English muffin, and it toasts up very nicely for you, giving you great flavor, crunch and chew. It goes very nicely with breakfast, but I also made myself a slice to have with some soup I was having for lunch, and it was the perfect accompaniment. I left one loaf out and froze the other, wrapping it in foil and then in plastic, so we can take it out whenever we are ready for another loaf. I haven’t tried it as a sandwich bread, though I am sure it would be okay; to me, it is a breakfast and toast kind of bread and one I will certainly make again since it is so easy to put together.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

 

 
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Posted by on February 20, 2017 in Breakfast, Brunch, Cooking, Dinner, Lunch

 

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A Supermarket Endcap Classic -Copycat Entenmann’s Brownie Crumb Ring

Here in New York, and in many other locations, Entenmann’s occupies a unique place in the hearts of families. For us, Entenmann’s has always been those cakes and pastry items you find on the endcap in your supermarket that is perfect when you need to pick something up for a dessert and do know what to get. The frosted chocolate donuts, the raspberry danish, and many others have always been favorites of ours, but Entenmann’s, like so many other manufacturers, does discontinue items after awhile for reason or another. Such was the fate of one of our favorite desserts, the brownie crumb ring. The brownie crumb ring has not been around for years now, and I once contacted Entenmann’s to find out about it, and their reply was that it was not a big seller of their items, so they rotated it out, but it has never returned. I searched for a long time trying to find one and then starting searching around for a recipe to make my own. I even bought the Entenmann’s cookbook in the hopes that it would be in there, but alas, it was not. Finally, after a long search, I was able to track down a recipe for the frosting, which is really the most integral part of the cake itself. The cake alone is a simple bundt cake, so armed with the frosting recipe and a recipe for Cook’s Country classic yellow bundt cake, I set to work.

Copycat Entenmann’s Brownie Crumb Ring

For the Cake:

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 cup buttermilk, room temperature

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon lemon juice

18 tablespoons (2 1/4 sticks) butter, cut into 18 pieces and softened

2 cups granulated sugar

3 eggs, plus 1 egg yolk, room temperature

For the Frosting:

3 cups sifted powdered sugar

1/4 cup butter

3 tablespoons cocoa powder

1/3 cup cola

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon cold coffee

1/4 cup pure maple syrup

2 to 3 cups brownie crumbs (crumbled up brownies or brownies finely ground in the food processor, using your favorite recipe or boxed mix)

For the cake, adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a nonstick bundt pan. Combine the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in a medium bowl. In a small bowl, whisk the buttermilk, vanilla extract, and lemon juice together.

Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and granulated sugar together on medium-high speed until the mixture is pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs and the egg yolk, one at a time, and beat the mixture until the eggs are combined. Reduce the speed of the mixer to low and add the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with 2 additions of the buttermilk mixture and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Scrape the batter into the prepared bundt pan and gently tap the pan on the counter to release any air bubbles. Bake the cake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 50 to 60 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking process. Cool the cake on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove the cake from the bundt pan and allow the cake to cool completely, about 2 hours. The cooled cake can be wrapped in plastic and stored at room temperature for up to 2 days.

For the frosting, combine the powdered sugar, butter, cocoa powder, cola, vanilla extract, maple syrup, and coffee together in a medium bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer. Beat the mixture together on medium speed until the frosting is smooth and spreadable, about 3 to 4 minutes. You can add a little more powdered sugar if the frosting is not as thick as you would like it. Spread the frosting on the cooled bundt cake to cover the cake. Sprinkle and press the brownie crumbs onto the cake, so the adhere nicely. Allow the cake to set for at least 10 to 15 minutes before slicing and serving.

I have to say while the frosting is not a perfect match for the brownie crumb ring, it is pretty darn close. Entenmann’s used a mocha-maple frosting for their cake, and it was coated in brownie crumbs, and this frosting certainly emulates that. Everyone who ate it when I made it said it was just like the original, so I think it gives you a chance to get pretty close to what you used to have if you always enjoyed that Entenmann’s cake. If you have never had the brownie crumb ring before, then this gives you the chance to try out something different that would be perfect for a party or a crowd. The bundt cake recipe alone is quite good, but when you add the frosting to it it makes the cake something special.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

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Posted by on February 17, 2017 in Cakes, Cooking, Dessert

 

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Impressive Biscuits in a Hurry – Cook’s Country Buttermilk Drop Biscuits

We had something of an impromptu breakfast yesterday with Michelle’s parents and our nephew stopping over for a nice breakfast so we had to throw some things together in a hurry. There is always plenty of bacon, eggs and coffee in the house and ingredients to make pancakes, but I really like to have nice, warm biscuits to serve with breakfast as well. They are great just with butter, but also go well with jelly, or to put some egg or bacon on and make yourself a little sandwich. The usual recipe I have turned to for biscuits takes a bit of time and preparation, something I did not really have yesterday, but this recipe from Cook’s Country for buttermilk drop biscuits gives you the same great taste and flavor in much less time so you can put it together pretty quickly.

Buttermilk Drop Biscuits

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon sugar

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup buttermilk, chilled

8 tablespoons butter, melted, plus 2 tablespoons butter

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and pre-heat the oven to 475 degrees. Line an unrimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and salt in a large bowl until the ingredients are well blended. Stir the buttermilk and melted butter together in a 2-cup liquid measuring cup until the butter begins to form clumps.

Add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture and stir with a rubber spatula until just incorporated. Using a greased 1/4-cup dry measuring cup, drop level scoops of the batter about 1 1/2 inches apart onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake the biscuits in the oven until the tops are golden brown, rotating the baking sheet halfway through the baking process, about 12 to 14 minutes.

Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and brush it on the biscuit tops. Transfer the biscuits to a wire rack to let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

This recipe makes about 12 biscuits. The difference in this recipe is that it uses hot fat (the melted butter) instead of the traditional cold fat you use with butter. With cold butter, as the butter melts it creates steam and helps to give you a flaky biscuit. When you stir the hot butter together with the cold buttermilk in this recipe, the butter will clump up in the milk, giving you the same type of texture you would get in a traditional recipe but with less work. The biscuits came out perfectly and were light and fluffy and had great flavor, making them ideal to go with breakfast. They will also be good to go along with any meal you like and you do not have to go through a lot of effort to make them. Even if you don’t have buttermilk on hand, you can always create your own by combining 1 cup of regular milk with a tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice and allowing it to stand for 5 minutes. You could also get dry buttermilk, which I use often as a stand-in for recipes, where you just need to add water to the powder to get buttermilk. In either case you can end up with great biscuits for breakfasts or to have with stews, soups, chicken, meat or just about any meal you like in just a few minutes.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

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Posted by on October 10, 2016 in Breads, Breakfast, Dinner, Side Dishes

 

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To Have and Have Again – Ernest Hemingway’s Meatloaf Burger

I have been pretty swamped with work lately, which means I do not have a lot of free time to do any type of blogging of my own. This happens now and again and is just part of the business of being a freelance writer. There are times where the work is nonstop and then there are others where things slow down and I have plenty of time to pick up the slack around the house and do other things. It also means I have less time to devote to trying out different recipes for things to post on the blog. However, I have been able to come across a few great quick and easy meals that are perfect for all the busy weeknights when you have lots of work to do, school has started, afterschool activities are taking over and everyone is going in different directions. The latest issue of Cook’s Country came a little bit ago and one of the recipes that caught my eye right away was for meatloaf burgers. The recipe they use is an adaptation of the one that Ernest Hemingway apparently used quite a bit when he was cooking for himself. While the article indicates that Hemingway basically used whatever he could find in the pantry or refrigerator and included it in his recipe, the one that they actually used seems a bit more reasonable. I decided it looked and sounded good enough where it was worth giving a try.

Meatloaf Burgers, Ernest Hemingway Style

1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

6 tablespoons ketchup

1/4 cup minced fresh parsley

1 large egg

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon onion powder

Salt and pepper

1 1/2 pounds 80-85% lean ground beef

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1/4 cup mayonnaise

2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

4 hamburger buns, toasted

 

Combine the Panko breadcrumbs and Worcestershire sauce in a large bowl until the breadcrumbs are thoroughly moistened. Stir in 2 tablespoons of the ketchup, the parsley, egg, mustard, onion powder, 3/4 teaspoon of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. Add the ground beef and knead the mixture with your hands until it is just combined.

Shape the beef mixture into four 3/4-inch-thick patties, about 4 1/2 inches in diameter. Press the center of each patty down with your fingertips until the depression is about 1/2 inch thick, creating a slight divot in the patty. At this point, the patties can be covered and refrigerated for up to twenty-four hours.

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350°. Set a wire rack in an aluminum foil-lined rimmed baking sheet. Heat the vegetable oil in a large non-stick skillet set over medium-high heat until the oil is just smoking. Transfer the patties to the skillet and cook them without moving them until they are browned on the first side, about 3 to 4 minutes. Flip the patties and cook them without moving them until they are browned on the second side, about 3 to 4 minutes longer. Transfer the patties to the prepared wire rack and bake them until the meat registers 160° on an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of each patty, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk the mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar, 1/4 teaspoon of pepper, and the remaining 1/4 cup of ketchup together in a medium bowl until the ingredients are well blended.

Transfer the burgers to a plate and allow them to rest for five minutes. Serve the burgers on the toasted hamburger buns with the sauce on the side.

I have to admit that the burgers certainly do have a meatloaf texture and quality to them, making them much more filling than the traditional burgers I make all of the time. That being said, I did enjoy the taste that the Worcestershire sauce, onion powder, ketchup and mustard lent to the burger. The sauce was very much like what you might traditionally think of as a Thousand Islands dressing and while I enjoyed it, Sean and Michelle both opted out of it. I did offer up some cheddar cheese on the burgers I made for Sean and Michelle and since they like cheeseburgers and I also made some bacon to top the burgers with, which rounded things off nicely for us since I very often make meatloaf with bacon on it. I would certainly make these again for something a little bit different as far as burgers go. Of course,  serving these with tater tots, French fries, coleslaw or potato salad is always a good option.

That is all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

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Posted by on September 26, 2016 in Cooking, Dinner

 

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Checking In with Pan-Seared Chicken Thighs with Potatoes and Chorizo

Chicken thighs are pretty much a staple in our house when it comes to dinners. They have great flavor, are versatile and are almost always on sale somewhere. You can get them as they are or boneless and skinless (though they are very easy to bone and remove the skin and can save you money if you just buy them as is) and can use them in nearly any way. They make a great substitute for the typical boneless chicken breasts that you see, cost less and, in my opinion, taste better. I always have some in the freezer available to use for a dinner and this particular dinner, from Cook’s Country, was the one I chose to make. It is for pan-seared chicken thighs with potatoes and chorizo so you get a great mix of flavors here.

Pan-Seared Chicken Thighs with Potatoes and Chorizo

8 (5- to 7-ounce) bone-in chicken thighs

Salt and Pepper

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling

1 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, unpeeled, cut into 1/2-inch chunks

4 ounces chorizo sausage, halved lengthwise and sliced crosswise

8 ounces (8 cups) baby spinach

Smoked paprika

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 375 degrees. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and then season the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet set over medium-high heat until the oil is just smoking. Add the chicken pieces, skin side down, and cook until the skin is well-browned, about 7 to 10 minutes. Transfer the chicken, skin side up, to a rimmed baking sheet and roast the chicken until the meat registers 175 degrees on instant-read thermometer inserted into one of the chicken pieces, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, add the potatoes to the now-empty skillet and cook, covered, over medium heat until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the chorizo and cook, uncovered, until the potatoes are tender, about 5 minutes longer. Add the spinach and cook until the spinach is just wilted and the liquid has evaporated, about 2 minutes. Serve the chicken with the potato mixture, sprinkled with the smoked paprika.

You have plenty of options here if you want to change things up along the way. If you and your family prefer white meat you could always substitute boneless chicken breasts or even bone-in chicken breasts. Just adjust the time accordingly so that the chicken is cooked through and not dry. If you prefer a milder sausage, you could always use Italian sausage or even kielbasa with this dish instead, though I liked the spice the chorizo added to the dish with the potatoes. I served the spinach on the side instead of putting it right into the dish with the potatoes, but you could certainly do either. In the end, you end up with some nice crispy chicken pieces that blend well with the potatoes, chorizo and spinach and you get to make a meal that only takes about 30 minutes to do.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another new recipe to try. until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

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Getting Back to Business with Chicken Noodle Casserole

After being busy for weeks it seems that things have finally slowed down a bit where I actually have the time and energy to do some blogging. After writing for 10 hours a day sometimes I just don’t have the energy or will to sit in front of the computer anymore and blog even though I really enjoy it. Hopefully I can have some more time to do some in the coming days and weeks. We’ll have to see what the work schedule brings along. With the craziness behind me for now, I have had some time to cook a few new things lately, including this recipe from Cook’s Country that I made last night for chicken noodle casserole. Granted, this dish combines two ingredients I personally don’t eat myself – cheese and noodles – but Michelle and Sean both love them and I had all of the right ingredients on hand to have a go at the recipe and see what I could do with it. It seemed simple enough to make so it was worth a shot.

Chicken Noodle Casserole

12 ounces (7 3/4 cups) wide egg noodles

Salt and pepper

3 tablespoons butter

1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and chopped fine

1 carrot, peeled and chopped fine

1 onion, chopped fine

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 1/2 cups half-and-half

2 1/2 cups chicken broth

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, halved lengthwise and trimmed

4 ounces deli American cheese, chopped coarse

4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (1 cup)

1 1/2 cups frozen peas

25 Ritz crackers, crushed coarse

 Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a Dutch oven. Add the noodles and 1 tablespoon of salt and cook, stirring often, until the noodles are just al dente, about 3 minutes. Drain the noodles and rinse them with cold water until they are cool, about 2 minutes. Drain the noodles again and set them aside.

Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in the now empty pot over medium-high heat. Add the bell pepper, carrot and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes. Transfer the vegetables to a bowl and set them aside. In the now-empty pot, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Add the flour and cook, whisking constantly, for 1 minute. Slowly whisk in the half-and-half and chicken broth and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the mixture is slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken and cook until it is no longer pink, about 8 to 10 minutes.

 Adjust an oven rack to the upper-middle position and heat the oven to 425 degrees. Remove the pot from the heat, transfer the chicken to a plate, and shred the chicken into bite-size pieces once it is cool enough to handle. Whisk the American and cheddar cheeses into the sauce until it is smooth. Stir the shredded chicken, noodles, bell pepper mixture, peas, 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt, and 1 1/4 teaspoons of pepper into the cheese sauce.

 Transfer the mixture to a 13 by 9-inch baking dish and top with the Ritz crackers. Bake the casserole until it is golden brown and bubbling, about 15 minutes. Let the casserole cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Serve.

It was very simple to make and the whole dish comes together in about 45 minutes. I actually used some leftover chicken that we had on hand and sped the process up even more, just warming it in the sauce for 2 minutes instead of having to cook it all the way through. even though I personally didn’t eat any, I have to admit that it looked pretty good and Michelle and Sean both had seconds so I guess it tasted good too. This recipe makes a lot, with a suggested serving of 8 to 10 people, so if you don’t want a lot of leftovers you can cut it down to half. While they had the casserole, I had a soft shell crab sandwich and slaw, which I will share the recipe for tomorrow.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

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Posted by on May 28, 2015 in Cooking, Dinner, One Pot Meals, Pasta, Poultry

 

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Sauce Up Steak Night with Sesame-Hoisin Glazed Steak

Just because it might not exactly be grill weather, at least in my area of New York, just yet, doesn’t mean you can’t indulge in some steak every now and then. For me, since I don’t have an outdoor grill to use, all of my steak is done on grill pans, skillets or the oven to try to make up for the loss of the grill here. This particular recipe was nice change of pace from the regular steak dinners in that it adds a really nice glaze to the steak for the meal. The original recipe comes from Cook’s Country and is for sesame-hoisin-glazed flank steak. I did change things up a little bit for my own purposes, making use of London broil that I had purchased on sale instead of the regular flank steak, which costs a lot more money here. I did make one other change to the recipe in that I marinated the steak overnight to really get the flavors in and to help break down the London broil a bit since it can be a little tough sometimes. The end results were really good, so if you want to try it my way the only difference is that after the marinade I refrigerated the steak in the marinade in a resealable bag overnight. Otherwise, this is the original recipe from Cook’s Country.

Sesame-Hoisin-Glazed Flank Steak

1/4 cup hoisin sauce

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

2 teaspoons Sriracha sauce

1 teaspoon cornstarch

1 (1 1/2 pounds) flank steak or London broil, trimmed

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds

Whisk the hoisin sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, Sriracha sauce and cornstarch together in a medium bowl. Pat the steak dry with paper towels. At this point for my version of the recipe, place the steak inside a large, resealable plastic bag and pour the marinade over the steak. Close the bag and allow the steak to marinade in the refrigerator overnight before proceeding.

Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet set over medium-high heat until the oil is just smoking. Remove the steak from the marinade, if you did this step, and reserve the marinade. Cook the steak until it is well browned and the meat registers 125 degrees on an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the steak (for medium-rare), about 5 to 7 minutes per side. Transfer the steak to a carving board and tent it loosely with aluminum foil, allowing the steak to rest for 5 minutes.

Stir the hoisin mixture into the now-empty skillet and cook over medium-high heat, scraping up any browned bits, until the sauce has thickened, about 2 minutes. Slice the steak thin on the bias against the grain and transfer it to a platter. Stir in any accumulated meat juices into the sauce and spoon the sauce over the meat. Sprinkle the meat with the cilantro and toasted sesame seeds and serve.

You get quite a combination of flavors here with the hoisin sauce, sesame oil and the rice vinegar, not to mention the nice kick of heat you get from Sriracha and the cornstarch really does add something to the texture of the glaze for the steak. The meat was perfectly done and marinating overnight seemed to really enhance the London broil in my eyes. If you have the time to plan ahead the marinade works well but if you are looking for an easy meal for during the week that you can do in under 30 minutes, skipping marinating the meat and just make the glaze and you will be fine.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

sesamehoisinglazedsteak

 

 
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Posted by on April 24, 2015 in Beef, Dinner, Sauce

 

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Island Flavor with Jerk Pork tenderloin with Spinach and Pineapple Salad

Even though the weather has taken a decidedly chillier turn in the last few days here even though it is spring, I had been in the mood for something a little more tropical, at least as far as dinner. I have actually picked up a bunch of different pieces of pork over the last few days as they were having a sale so I was able to get pork tenderloin, a pork loin roast and some center cut pork chops at a really good price so I wanted to make something that would be a little spicy a different from what we usually have when it comes to pork tenderloin. I had recently seen a recipe in Cook’s Country for a jerk pork tenderloin with arugula and pineapple salad. The recipe sounded quite delicious and the ingredients for pretty basic, though I did not have any arugula in the house but I did happen to have some spinach on hand that I could use as a replacement. So I set about making this recipe for dinner so that we could have a little bit of a Caribbean flair even though it was only 45° outside.

Jerk Pork Tenderloin with Spinach and Pineapple Salad

2 (12-ounce) pork tenderloins, trimmed

3 tablespoons jerk seasoning

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 cups 1/2-inch pineapple pieces

1/2 cup finely chopped red onion

1/4 cup orange juice

Pinch cayenne pepper

2 ounces (2 cups) baby spinach

Salt and pepper

Adjust and oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 450°. Set a wire rack inside a rimmed baking sheet. Pat the pork tenderloins dry with paper towels and season them with 2 tablespoons of the jerk seasoning. Heat 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil in a large skillet set over medium-high heat until the oil is just smoking. Cook the pork tenderloins until they are browned on all sides, about 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer the pork tenderloins to the prepared wire rack. Roast the pork until the meat registers 140° on an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the tenderloins, about 15 to 17 minutes. Transfer the pork tenderloins to a carving board, tent them loosely with aluminum foil, and allow them to rest for 5 minutes.

Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in the now-empty skillet set over medium-high heat until the oil is shimmering. Add the pineapple pieces, red onion, orange juice, cayenne pepper, and the remaining 1 tablespoon of the jerk seasoning and cook, scraping up any browned bits, until the onion is just softened, about 3 to 4 minutes. Off the heat, stir in the baby spinach. Season the mixture with salt and pepper to taste. Slice the pork tenderloins, transfer the slices to a platter, and top the pork with the pineapple mixture.

This is another great simple recipe from Cook’s Country that you can have completed in under 30 minutes and with just a few ingredients. The pork had great spice flavor from the jerk seasoning and you can use any seasoning you like to flavor the pork. Personally, I used the Island Jerk Rub that is from Pepper Mary and it had just the right amounts of spice to it and some great heat and it also helped to make a really good crust on the outside of the pork. I really enjoyed the mix of the pineapple with the arugula and it made a nice touch on top of the pork. The sauce that was created from the pineapple and the orange juice was not overly sweet and thickened to a nice consistency. In my opinion, pineapple goes really well with pork so it made a perfect addition to the dish. I think the spinach worked out just as well as the arugula might have and Sean actually enjoyed having the spinach they are instead of the peppery flavor that arugula often has. It is certainly a recipe worth remembering if you want a nice, spicy dish that you can make quickly during the week.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day, and enjoy your meal!spinschandpineapplesalad jerkporktenderloin

 
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Posted by on April 23, 2015 in Cooking, Dinner, Pork, Salad, Spices

 

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