Friday, January 12, 2018

Sweet Endings

Have you ever seen the crescent roll apple dumplings recipe online? I have had them bookmarked for quite a while. They have been favorable reviewed on several food blogs as well. Some calling them, "to die for". Quite frankly, unless you are on death row, I don't think ANY food is good enough to die for, especially one made with canned crescent rolls and soda. A few weeks ago I was planning a nice dinner and wanted a fast and easy dessert to end the meal. I don't remember what all happened but what DIDN'T happen was dessert so the ingredients I had bought ended up just hanging around my kitchen. Yesterday, I noticed the apple I had bought was starting to show signs of it's age and, rather than waste it, I made the darn dessert. It was tasty, especially served with vanilla ice cream, and it was super fast and easy to make. I would recommend buying the largest apple you can find for this recipe because the smaller slices seemed to get lost in the dough. I would even go so far as to recommend getting 6 slices out of your apple instead of 8, as specified in the recipe, to ensure that you get a good dose of apple flavor. I also read that you can use splenda and diet soda int he recipe if you want to trim some calories. I used diet soda and real sugar in my preparation and it tasted just fine to me. Would I make it again? Sure I would. Fast, easy, and tasty always works for me!

Pillsbury Crescent Roll Apple Dumplings (Click title to be magically transported to the original recipe)

Ingredients

2 cans (8 oz each) Pillsbury™ Refrigerated Crescent Dinner Rolls
2 green apples (Granny Smith or Golden Delicious)
1 1/2 cups butter, melted
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup (6 oz) lemon-lime carbonated beverage (Sprite, 7-Up, Mountain Dew)


Heat oven to 350° F. Spray 13x9-inch pan with cooking spray

Separate 2 cans (8 oz each) Pillsbury™ Refrigerated Crescent Dinner Rolls at perforations to make 16 triangles.

Peel and core apples. Cut each apple into 8 slices.

Place 1 apple slice on shortest side of each dough triangle. Starting with shortest side of triangle, roll to opposite point enclosing apple slice; arrange in pan.

In medium bowl, stir together 1 1/2 cups melted butter, 1 cup packed light brown sugar and 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon. Pour mixture evenly over dumplings.

Pour 3/4 cup (6 oz) lemon-lime carbonated beverage in center and along edges of pan. (Do not pour on top of dumplings.)

Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until golden brown and thoroughly baked. Remove from oven to cooling rack. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Thank Heavens it's Over!

The holidays that is. Every year seems to be more and more stressful. Money is tighter, the (step) kids are impossible to shop for, and we can never agree on the dinner menu. Somehow, we managed to pull it all together and survive another Christmas. If I had my way (and tons of money), I would spend Christmas someplace warm and remote just to escape the frenzy of it all. But since I can't afford Christmas travel, here I sit in the awful cold of the northeast U.S.. Actually I exaggerate a bit. I do enjoy having the family together and watching the kids open their gifts. It's just really exhausting. I cooked for two days straight to prep everything for this years holiday meal. Since we were trying out some new things, I even did some test runs in the weeks leading up to the holiday to be sure the new recipes didn't suck (they didn't). It all started when the hubs proclaimed that he did not want prime rib for dinner this year. He wanted ham instead. Here is the thing. I don't really care for ham. I don't hate it but I don't really love it either. Hubs doesn't like it nearly as much as he claims to either. He will eat it for dinner. Make a few sandwiches out of the leftovers and then never touch it again, leaving me with all sorts of leftover ham to contend with. Anything I make out of the leftovers, like ham salad or pea soup, he won't eat so it either end up giving it or throwing it away. Ridiculous, right? So, as a compromise, I made a stuffed pork loin this year. I was inspired by a crown roast of pork I saw being prepared on the Chew while in the waiting room at my doctors office. I figured that I could do something similar, albeit less dramatic, with the huge ass pork loin I had in my freezer. I mean, it is basically the same cut of meat, just without the bones and far less expensive. Preparing the actual roast is pretty straight forward - Just butterfly, stuff, roll, tie and bake. It was the stuffing and the sauce that made the meal special. Everyone was surprised at how well all of the flavors came together. Who knows, maybe I will make it again next year. If I do maybe I will remember to take a picture.....or not, lol.

Cranberry Cornbread Stuffing for Pork

1 roll sausage (not hot)
2 stalks of celery, chopped fine
1/2 onion, diced
2 clove garlic, minced
1/2 bag cranberries, chopped coarsely
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbs Bells poultry seasoning
2 Tbs parsley
1/2 Tbs ground sage
1 tsp rosemary
1 tsp thyme
1 bag dry cornbread stuffing
2-3 Cups chicken broth
salt and pepper

In a large pot brown sausage with celery and onions until cooked. Add garlic and cook another minute.
Add cranberries and sugar and continue to cook over med-high heat for 2 to 3 minutes.
Add cornbread stuffing and seasonings. Stir to combine.
Add broth to desired consistency.
Adjust seasonings if needed and salt and pepper to taste

Creamy Mustard Sage Sauce
2 Tbs butter
1 Tbs flour
1/2 Cup apple cider
1 Tbs Dijon mustard
1 tsp ground sage
 2 Cups cream
salt and pepper

Over low heat melt butter and flour to create a roux
Add apple cider, mustard and sage to a sauce pan and whisk together until fully blended.
Add cream
Slowly heat mixture, stirring frequently until it reaches desired consistency.
Adjust seasonings to taste
Remove from heat and serve

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Party Time

It has been a while hasn't it. What can I say, I've been busy with all sorts of life things. I have been cooking but just haven't had the time or motivation to write about it. Now, I have all these photos of stuff that I made but can't remember how I made it, lol. Except for this one. This is the easiest appetizer recipe on the planet. It sort of looks nice when you first serve it. It tastes good, too. It is filling and easy to eat and sure to be a hit while watching sports and drinking beer. Give it a try!



Chili Cheese Pigs in Blankets Pigs in Life Jackets
1 package mini hot dogs
2 tubes crescent rolls
1 can Hormel chili - no beans
1 block cream cheese
2 Cups cheddar cheese, divided

Open crescent rolls and cut each dough triangle into thirds.
Wrap each piece of dough around a mini hot dog.
Arrange wrapped hot dogs around the edge of a pie plate

In a medium sauce pan, heat chili, cream cheese, and 1 cup of cheddar cheese until cheeses are completely melted. Pour mixture into center of the pie plate and top with remaining cheddar cheese. Bake at 350F for 20-30 minutes until crescent rolls are cooked. Serve hot.

UPDATE: I decided to rename these, "Pigs in Life Jackets" because that is what they sort of look like to me. At first I thought they looked like "Pigs at the Trough" with their little piggy butts sticking up. Then I realized nobody wants to think about a pigs ass while they are eating, so I canned than idea. Upon further contemplation, I thought if they were turned around then there would be piggy heads peeking out instead of butts. Much better, but now they were drowning in chili cheese dip and we can't have that. Good thing they have life jackets on so they won't drown before we eat them! So, now they are and forever will be referred to as, "Pigs in Life Jackets".

Monday, October 2, 2017

Seasonal Flavor

Here it is. The obligatory Fall pumpkin spice recipe. Like I have said before, I have nothing against pumpkin spice or anything but, the hoopla it generates, I find ridiculous. Regardless, I am not above indulging in the flavor of the season. This was an experimental recipe and it seemed to generate lots of compliments so I hope you like it too.

Pumpkin Cinnamon Chip Scones (Adapted from www.inspiredtaste.net)
Scones
2-3C all-purpose flour
1/3 cup  brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
8 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 tablespoon molasses 

3 tablespoons half and half or cream
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 C sour cream
1/2 bag cinnamon chips

Simple Sugar Glaze 
1 cup (125 grams) powdered sugar, sifted
1 to 2 tablespoons half and half or cream

Pumpkin Spice Glaze 
1 cup (125 grams) powdered sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon pumpkin puree
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 to 2 tablespoons half and half or cream

Directions
Preheat oven to 400F
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together 2 Cups flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg together until blended. 
Cut the butter into small cubes then scatter over the flour mixture. Use two knives or a pastry cutter to “cut” the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal with a few pea-sized bits of butter, about 5 minutes. (You could also use a food processor for this – if using, add flour mixture to the bowl of a food processor, add the cold butter cubes. Then pulse three to four times).
In a separate bowl, whisk the pumpkin puree, molasses, half and half, egg, sour cream, and vanilla extract until blended.
Stir the pumpkin mixture into the flour and butter mixture until a soft dough forms. Add additional flour, 1/2 Cup at a time, if dough is too wet. Add cinnamon chips. Transfer the dough to a floured surface. Knead three to four times until it comes together.  
Pat the dough into a circle (a rolling pin can be used here). Cut the circle into even sized triangles (I got 10). 
Place scones onto a parchment lined baking sheet then bake 10 to 15 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.   Use a fork to drizzle with glazes (recipe below).
Glazes 
For the simple sugar glaze, add the sugar to a medium bowl then add one tablespoon of half and half in increment stirring in between until desired consistency is achieved. . Stir then judge the consistency. If when you pick a spoon up and out of the glaze it slowly drizzles back into the glaze, it is fine. If it is too thick, add a little more half and half (a little goes a long way, here). If it is too thin, add a little more powdered sugar.
In another bowl, make the pumpkin spice glaze. Combine the sugar, pumpkin puree, spices then add one tablespoon of half and half. Stir and check consistency. Adjust the same way as you would the simple glaze. 

Monday, August 21, 2017

South of the Border

So, the Hubs and I just got back from a most fantastic, week long stay in sunny Cabo San Lucas. OMG, was it the BEST! I love Mexico and Cabo did not disappoint. We relaxed, we drank, we ate, we surprised my husband by having his family meet us there. It was one of the best vacations ever! Last night he was craving brownies and, not having any store shit in the house, I decided to make some from scratch using the bar of Mexican dark chocolate that I brought home. I think this will be my go to recipe for brownies from now on. They were so incredibly good. The brand of chocolate was Maria Tepoztlan in the black box (dark). Now, if you read online reviews of this product you will see people have a lot of strong opinions about it. I ate some of it straight up and, at first, I didn't care for it very much but it kind of grew on me. I went back for more. Love it or hate it, it made a damn fine brownie.  The chocolate bar is not divided into squares like regular bakers chocolate so I did my best to approximate the amount I used. My base recipe was an old recipe that made over 3 dozen brownies. I halved it because I do not need that many brownies in my house. So, that is why my measurements are kind of odd. Regardless, these things were out of this world. I highly recommend that you try them.



Mexican Chocolate Brownies

1 1/2 sticks butter
2-3 ounces Mexican Dark Chocolate
1 1/8 Cup flour, sifted
3/4 tsp salt
3 eggs
1 2/3 C sugar
2 heaping Tbs unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 Tbs espresso powder
1/4 C vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat over to 325F and grease a 9"x9" baking dish

Over low heat melt butter and Mexican chocolate in a small sauce pan. Set aside to cool

Sift flour and salt onto a plate and set aside

In a large mixing bowl whisk eggs until foamy. Whisk in sugar and then cooled chocolate/butter mixture. Whisk in vanilla and espresso powder. slowly add flour mixture and cocoa powder and whisk to combine

Pour batter into baking dish and bake 45 minutes to 1 hour. Brownies should still be gooey in the center.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Waste Not, Want Not

The Hubs and I have a vacation coming up (YAY!). So in preparation, I am trying to use up things in my refrigerator that just won't keep while we are gone. One of those things is a package of linguica sausage that we have had in there for what seems like forever. I had originally wanted to make enchiladas out of it but, being pressed for time, I decided to go the casserole route. Hubs kept asking me what was for dinner and all I could say was, "Something cheesy". I honestly had no idea what I was going to do. I quickly browsed the pantry and grabbed some things I thought would work well together and started at it. I am happy to report it came out really well. We practically ate the entire thing! I have no idea what to call it though since it was a strange combination of Portuguese and Tex Mex flavors. All I can say is it was damn tasty.

Chicken And Linguica Casserole

1 large chicken breast, poached and chopped (reserve cooking liquid)
2 Linguica sausage patties, chopped
1/2 large onion, diced
2 Tbs vegetable oil
1 Tbs Adobo seasoning
1 can Rotel
1/2 can nacho cheese soup
1 can red enchilada sauce
10 corn tortillas
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat over to 350F
In a large frying pan add oil and linguica sausage and fry until sausage begins to crisp. Add oinions and continue frying until softened. Add chopped chicken and Rotel and saute and 3 or 4 minutes. Add nacho cheese soup and stir to incorporate. Add reserved chicken poaching liquid if needed to ensure full blending of the soup with the other ingredients. Remove from heat.

Coat the bottom of a casserole dish with a thin layer of enchilada sauce. Cover sauce with a layer of corn tortillas. Add half of the chicken mixture for the next layer. Top mixture with another layer of tortillas. Add a think layer of enchilada sauce and top with 1 Cup shredded Cheddar Cheese. Repeat layers 1 more time to use up remaining ingredients.

Cover with foil and bake 45 minutes-1 hour until cheese is melted and sauce is bubbly. Let stand before serving.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Tastes of Summer

It has been a very harrowing week. We are in the process of moving (YUCK) and it has pretty much overwhelmed us. Then this week we lost a very dear friend when a careless and impaired teenager plowed into him while he was on his motorcycle. He was rear-ended and never saw it coming. He didn't stand a chance. We said our good byes to him in the ICU on Monday and yesterday he was taken off life support. He was such a good person and are hearts are heavy that he was taken from us so tragically. Needless to say, we haven't had much for an appetite lately but we try to keep moving forward and stay busy lest we dwell on our loss. I came up with this recipe as a way to use up some farm share vegetables as well as some veal cutlets that my mother gave me. It was pretty tasty. I made my own pesto using basil, garlic scapes, parmesan cheese, and walnuts but if all you have is store bought, by all means use it. Splurge for a good brand though. This meal is real easy to make and is done in just a few minutes. It's great when time is of the essence or if you just don't feel like expending a lot of energy but still want a tasty something to eat.

Veal Caprese

1 Cup Prepared Pesto
5-6 small veal cutlets
1 tomato, sliced
6-7 slices of fresh mozzarella

Pound cutlets with a meat mallet to tenderize
Marinade veal in pesto sauce for 2 hours or overnight.
Turn on oven broiler and let heat up
On stove heat up and over proof pan.
When pan is hot, place veal cutlets in a single layer
Top cutlets with tomato slices, and cheese
Place pan under broiler until cheese is melted and begins to brown. By this time the veal should be cooked through. Serve with pasta or zoodles.