Google Amy's Cooking Adventures: September 2011

Friday, September 30, 2011

Homemade “Lawry’s” Seasoning Salt

Seasoning salt is one of my kitchen staples.  So last week when I ran out, I went down to the pantry to get more.  Because I remembered noticing that the seasoning salt was low.  And I remember writing it on my weekly grocery list.  I even remember looking through the spices and grabbing another bottle.  But I don’t remember paying for it or putting it in the pantry.  Nor was there any seasoning salt in the pantry.  How sad!

So, rejoicing that I live in the age of the internet and Google, I went to work and made my own seasoning salt with a few kitchen staples!  I don’t think I’ll buy seasoning salt again!

Recipe Notes:
*Store bought seasoning salts can often come across as too salty.  In the following recipe, I used a bit less salt to play up the other flavors.  Experiment to find your favorite combination, then double or triple the recipe for storage!

Homemade “Lawry’s” Seasoning Salt
Adapted from Rambling asUsual

1 ½ tbsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp paprika
¼ tsp tumeric
¼ tsp onion powder
¼ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp cornstarch

Combine all the ingredients in a small dish and mix well.  Pour into a spice jar to store.


Monday, September 26, 2011

Harvest Soup (Secret Recipe Club)

It’s Secret Recipe Club time again!  For those of you unfamiliar with SRC, it is a group of bloggers secretly cooking recipes from one another’s site.  Reveal day is always fun, because we get to see who cooked from each blog and which recipe they chose!

This month, it was my pleasure to be assigned to Feast on the Cheap, a blog by Mary Anne and Mariel, a fabulous mother-daughter duo who believe that everyone should have access to healthy and delicious foods…without breaking a budget.  There were so many lovely recipes to choose from at Feast on the Cheap (not to mention breathtaking photography), but once I saw this soup, I knew I was in love!

The flavors of this soup are absolutely amazing.  The second I tasted this soup, I was in heaven.  In fact, I plan to remake this soup when I host my first Thanksgiving (for both sides of the family) this year.  It makes a large batch of soup, with 10 generous servings, but if you don’t get to it all in one day, it heats up beautifully and gains even more wonderful flavor.  So cozy up with some soup, be thankful for a bountiful harvest, and welcome fall.

Recipe Notes:
*To cook the boneless, skinless chicken breasts, drop them into boiling water and cook for twenty minutes (they can even be frozen at this point—I won’t tell!)  Let them cool while the rest of the soup is cooking and shred.
*For an even easier alternative, shred the meat from a store bought rotisserie chicken, or any leftover chicken you have in your refrigerator (just be sure to discard any skin, fat, and bones).
*I like to add the corncobs for a little extra flavor and body in my soup.  If you don’t have access to corn on the cob, simply use 6 cups of canned or frozen corn and omit the cobs.
*I used Honey Weiss for the beer in my soup, because that’s what I had in the refrigerator.  Feel free to use any beer, but try to avoid the darker beers, like Guinness.

Harvest Soup
Adapted from Feast on the Cheap

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cooked and diced (about 2 cups)
4 cups (32 oz) chicken stock
3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 (12 oz) bottle of beer
6 ears of corn, kernels cut off and 3 cobs reserved
1 bay leaf
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp black pepper                          
Zest from 1 lemon (about 1 tsp)
6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled, drippings reserved
1 large white onion, diced
2 tsp minced garlic
4 cups (32 oz) vegetable stock
1 (4 oz) can chopped green chilies
2 tsp chili powder
1-2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce (to taste)
½ - 1 tsp Tabasco sauce (to taste)
4 tbsp butter
4 tbsp all purpose flour
1 cup skim milk
1 pint (8 oz) heavy cream
8 oz shredded cheddar jack cheese
4 oz cubed cheddar cheese
4 oz cubed Monterey jack cheese

In a large pot, bring the chicken stock to a boil.  Add the sweet potatoes, bay leaf, cumin, lemon zest, pepper, reserved corn cobs (but not the kernels), and beer.  The stock will barely cover the sweet potatoes and corncobs.  Simmer, partially covered, until the potatoes are nearly tender, but still a bit firm, about 10 minutes.  Remove from heat and set aside.  Remove and discard the corn cobs.

Meanwhile, in a large soup pot, fry the bacon.  Once crisp, cool the bacon on paper towels, reserving the bacon drippings.  Crumble the bacon and set aside.

Sauté the onion and garlic in the reserved bacon drippings until tender, about 10 minutes. 

Add the sweet potato mixture to the onion mixture.  Add the vegetable stock over medium heat, stirring until well combined.

Next, stir in the corn kernels, green chilies, chili powder, cooked chicken breasts, and bacon.  Season the soup with Worcestershire and Tabasco sauces, and salt and pepper to taste.  Heat through and turn to low.

Meanwhile, in a small sauce pan, melt the butter over medium-low heat.  Whisk in the flour and cook for one minute, stirring constantly.

Slowly whisk in the milk and cream.  Keep stirring the milk mixture over medium heat until slightly thickened, 5-10 minutes.  Do not boil.

Pour the milk mixture and shredded cheese into the soup pot, stirring until thoroughly blended.

Serve hot, garnished with cubed cheeses and extra bacon.

Serves 10


Sunday, September 25, 2011

Pumpkin Puree Tutorial

I’ve been hearing rumors of another pumpkin shortage this year (sadness!)  So that means it’s time to make our own puree again!

All you need are a few Sweet Pie Pumpkins.  Note that these are different than the ones you carve.  They are smaller and always labeled as Sweet Pumpkins or Pie Pumpkins.  You can usually find them at your grocery store or at your local Farmer’s Market.

I found these beauties at my Farmer’s Market.  Since they were selling for $2 each, I went through and found the biggest pumpkins to get the most bang for my buck.  For the following tutorial, I roasted the two larger pumpkins, which yielded 7 ¼ cups of pumpkin puree- that’s more than 3 ½ of the small cans of pumpkin puree.  So this is also a huge money savings.  I spent $4 on those two pumpkins, and 3 ½ cans of commercial puree would cost about $6.50.  So, let’s make some pumpkin puree!  

Note: My photos may seems a little schizophrenic - it was a gloomy rainy day when I took these, so I had to rely on flash from time to time (try to look past it!)  

Pumpkin Puree Tutorial
Recipe From Annie’s Eats

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  And slice the tops off the Pie Pumpkins.  You can discard the tops.

Slice each pumpkin in half and scoop out the guts (don’t throw away those seeds!  You can roast them after the pumpkins are done!)

Place the pumpkins, cut side down, on a rimmed baking sheet.  Pour 1-2 cups of water into the pan, around the pumpkins.

Bake the pumpkins for 60-90 minutes or until the flesh is tender and easily pierced by a fork.  The outer skin may also be dark and blistered.  Allow the pumpkins to cool for a bit.

Then flip, and scoop the flesh out of the shells and into the bowl of a food processor. 

Puree the pumpkin in the bowl of a food processor  for 1-2 minutes of until very smooth.

Place a large colander over a bowl and line it with a paper towel.  Pour the pumpkin puree into the lined colander to remove the excess water.  Removing the water will give the puree a consistency that is similar to store bought puree.  Let the puree sit in the colander for at least 15 minutes or up to an hour to let all that liquid drain off.

You can store the pumpkin puree in the refrigerator for 5 days or (as I prefer) by the cup in freezer bags (in the freezer) for 3-6 months.

Now you’re ready to bake!  Here are some of my favorite pumpkin recipes:


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Slow Cooker Coca Cola Pulled Pork

I love to cook dinner for my family.  Even the recipes that require hours in front of the stove.  But sometimes a 2 ingredient, throw it in the crock pot all day meal is exactly what I need.

After all day in the crock pot, the pork is so tender, it just melts in your mouth.  This will definitely be a new go to meal on my list!  (Especially since you can tell the little ones that it’s chicken…shhhh!)

Slow Cooker Coca Cola Pulled Pork
Adapted from Simply Chicken

2-3 lb pork roast
1 (12 oz) can Coca Cola
Salt & pepper

Season the pork with salt and pepper.  Place the pork in the slow cooker and add the Coke.  Cook on low for 8-10 hours.

Remove the pork and shred.  Serve on buns with your favorite BBQ sauce.


Monday, September 19, 2011

Super Soft Sugar Cookies and Little Owls!

Lately I’ve had a little helper in the kitchen.  My older son has taken in interest in cooking.  He enjoys pouring flour & sugar and counting eggs.  So I decided to make some super fun cookies that he could help me with from start to finish.

I started out with a new sugar cookie recipe (feel free to use your own) that mimics those super soft grocery store cookies that everyone loves to hate.  These cookies are super soft and absolutely melt in your mouth.  They do make a ridiculously large cookie, so if I was baking these for any other purpose than owl cookies, I would make them about half the size.

All in all, owl cookies are a super fun activity to do with your kids.  After the cookies were cooled, I spread a layer of frosting on the cookies and let my little guy go to town!  So grab the kiddies and have some fun!

Owl Cookies

12 large sugar cookies (recipe follows)
1 ½ - 2 cups buttercream frosting (I mixed 1 tbsp cocoa powder in for the dark color)
24 oreo cookies
24 junior mints
12 candy corns

Frost the sugar cookies.  Split the oreos carefully in half (scrape away any extra crumbs), reserving the cookie half.

Cut the remaining oreos in half (for eyebrows).

Place 2 oreos on each cookie for eyes.  Dip the junior mints in a bit of the remaining frosting and stick to the oreos as pupils.  Add the halved oreos as eyebrows and the candy corns as beaks!

Super Soft Sugar Cookies
Adapted from Annie’s Eats

1 ½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 ½ cups sugar
3 large eggs
5 tsp vanilla extract
4 ½ cups unbleached all purpose flour
4 ½ tsp baking powder
¾ tsp salt

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time, making sure each is completely mixed in before adding the next.  Blend in the vanilla.

Turn the mixer to low speed and mix in the dry ingredients.  Cover and chill the dough for at least 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper.  Using a ¼ measuring cup, scoop a scant ¼ cup of dough and roll it into a ball.  Slightly flatten the ball and place on the prepared cookie sheets (2-3 inches apart).  Bake for 10-12 minutes or until just set (the edges shouldn’t be browned at all).  Let cool on the baking sheets for about 10 minutes, then move to wire racks to cool completely.

Makes 2 dozen cookies.


Friday, September 16, 2011

Pumpkin Zucchini Muffins

Fall is in the air!   That means it’s pumpkin time!  Yay!  Okay, truthfully, I use pumpkin year round, but I do tend to use it even more during the fall! 

Since it is still early fall, with an abundance of zucchini, I decided to modify my favorite Pumpkin Chip Muffin to add in some of that lovely zucchini!  And the best part is: my boys are gobbling these up for breakfast and snack!  Yay vegetables!

Pumpkin Zucchini Muffins
An Amy Original

¾ cup sugar
4 eggs
¾ cup canola oil
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 cup pureed zucchini (1 medium zucchini)
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup ground flax seed
1 tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
Dash of salt
½ cup dark chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and line 2 muffin tins with paper liners.

Place the sugar and eggs in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat them together on medium speed.

Add in the oil, vanilla, pumpkin, zucchini, flax, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and flours.  Mix on low until combined.  Stir in chocolate chips.

Divide the batter into 24 muffin cups.  Bake 16-20 minutes or until lightly browned.

Makes: 24 muffins


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Zebra Stripe Wedding Cake

This past weekend, I had the honor of making the centerpiece wedding cake for a friend’s wedding.  The wedding color was aqua, along with black & white.  And being a more modern bride, she wanted zebra stripes!  So fun!

This wedding cake was an opportunity for me to try many new tricks!  I was able to successfully create my first 3 tiered cake (with all different cake flavors!)

I also got to paint on fondant for the first time.  The painting gave me the freedom to do a much sleeker zebra stripe than cutting out fondant would have.

And see these cute little minis?  The bride wanted those as a special thank you to her two sweet little flower girls – what a neat idea!

Congratulations Jenny & Jarrod!


Monday, September 12, 2011

Triple Chocolate Chip Whole Wheat Cookies

Know what’s great on a cool fall day?  Turning on the oven to bake up some delicious chocolate chip cookies.  Now the house is warm and toasty and it smells like cookies!  What could be better?

This is a little twist on your traditional chocolate chip cookie (or chocolate chippers as I grew up calling them).  There are three different kinds of chips all working in chocolaty harmony so that no one even notices that there is no white flour!  Perfection!

Triple Chocolate Chip Whole Wheat Cookies
Adapted from Joy the Baker

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar, packed
½ cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 ¼ cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2/3 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
2/3 cup dark chocolate chips
2/3 cup white chocolate chips

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar.  Beat until creamy, 3-5 minutes.  Add in the vanilla extract.

Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute between each egg.

Add in the flour, salt and baking soda.  Mix until completely combined.  Fold in the chocolate chips.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Using a 2 tablespoon cookie scoop, drop cookie dough onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper.  Bake 10-12 minutes until lightly browned.


Thursday, September 8, 2011

Cheesy Eggplant Bake

Last weekend at the Farmer’s Market, there were all sorts of lovely summer squashes!  I picked up a gorgeous eggplant and brought it home.  And then I had a bit of a quandary.  I’ve never really used eggplant and I knew I wanted something spectacular.  So I settled on this Cheesy Eggplant Bake.  It was so delicious that even my meat & potatoes husband was happy to eat the leftovers!  It may not look like much, but trust me, it's good!

Cheesy Eggplant Bake
Adapted from Cheap, Healthy, Good

1 medium eggplant, peeled
2 tsp salt
¾ cup dry breadcrumbs
1 tbsp garlic salt
½ tsp pepper
2 egg, beaten
2 tbsp olive oil, divided
1 red bell pepper, chopped
½ onion, chopped
½ lb fresh mushrooms, chopped
1 small yellow squash, chopped
1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
½ tsp dried marjoram
½ tsp dried basil
½ tsp dried oregano
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
¼ cup white cheddar cheese

Slice the eggplant into ¼ inch rounds.  Arrange the rounds in colander in the sink and sprinkle generously with salt.  Let the eggplant sit for 30 minutes (the salt with cause the excess liquid to drain out of the eggplant at this time).  After 30 minutes, rinse the rounds under cold water and pat them dry.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and spray a 13x9 baking dish with non stick spray.

Meanwhile, combine the bread crumbs, garlic salt, and pepper in a shallow bowl.  Place the beaten eggs in a separate bowl.  Dredge each eggplant round in the egg, then through the bread crumbs until coated.

In a large skillet, heat ½ tablespoon of olive oil.  Cook the coated eggplant slices until lightly browned, about 2 minutes per side.  Repeat until all are done.  Arrange the browned eggplant in the prepared baking dish.

Using the same skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium high heat.  Sauté the pepper, onion, mushrooms, and yellow squash about 5 minutes or until the onion is tender.  Pour the vegetable mixture on top of the egg plant.

Stir the marjoram, basil, and oregano into the crushed tomatoes.  Pour the tomato mixture on top of the vegetables and eggplant.  Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes.  Uncover and sprinkle with the cheeses.  Cook for another 20-25 minutes or until the cheese is melted and beginning to brown.

Serves 4


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Buttermilk Zucchini Waffles

It’s that time of year…zucchini time!  If you’ve got zucchini coming out your ears (or even if you don’t) these waffles are the answer to your prayers.

These waffles are a punch of nutrition with whole wheat flour and an entire zucchini.  Most zucchini recipes involve grating the zucchini.  I never much cared for grated zucchini (too many little zucchini threads hanging around).  So to eliminate that, the zucchini in this recipe was pureed instead.  There are still little flecks of green visible throughout the waffles, but both of my boys were able to over look them and enjoy these delicious waffles!

Buttermilk Zucchini Waffles
Adapted from Gimmie Some Oven

1 large zucchini
1 ½ cups whole wheat flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/3 cup sugar
1 ½ cups buttermilk
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat waffle iron.

Clean the zucchini thoroughly and trim the ends.  Cut into large chunks and pulse in a food processor until very smooth.  Line a small colander with paper towel and set it over a bowl.  Pour the pureed zucchini into the colander to drain off the excess liquid.  Let drain for about 10 minutes.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and sugar.  Mix well.

In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla.

Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and mix.  Fold in the zucchini and stir well.

Spray the waffle iron with cooking spray.  Pour batter over the waffle iron and cook according to your waffle iron’s instructions.

Serve hot with butter and syrup.

Serves 4-6




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