Google Amy's Cooking Adventures: November 2010

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Bacon Corn Chowder

Don't miss an updated version of this recipe, found here!

It’s another cold, blustery, school starts late because it’s so gross out kind of day.  This also makes it a fuzzy sweater and warm bowl of soup kind of day.  Bacon Corn Chowder is one of my all time favorite soups (I like it on rainy days in the summer, too). 

I have experimented some with this recipe by using frozen or canned corn in place of the corn cut off the cobs (because cutting corn off the cobs is very time consuming).  I can honestly say the using corn off the cob is well worth the effort.  Corn on the cob (even the frozen cobs you find in the freezer section at the grocery store – just be sure to defrost them first) had a certain sweetness that frozen and canned kernels lack.  This sweetness, paired with the spicy jalapeno is what makes this soup great.  That and bacon.  Bacon makes everything great.

Bacon Corn Chowder is fabulous served with a meat and cheese tray or with “Texas Roadhouse” Sweet Yeast Rolls.  So pull up a bowl and get toasty!

Bacon Corn Chowder
Source: my Mom

6 medium ears of corn, husks & silk removed
1 pound of bacon, cut in ½ inch pieces
1 medium onion, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tbsp flour
½ tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 pound red skin potatoes, but in ½ inch pieces
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups half and half
1 small tomato, peeled, seeded, & chopped

Cut kernels from corncobs (about 3 cups), reserving 3 cobs.  Discard remain cobs.

In a soup pot, cook bacon over medium heat until browned.  Transfer bacon to a paper towel lined plate to drain.  When cool enough to handle, crumble bacon pieces.

Add onion and jalapeno to bacon drippings in soup pot (I usually drain off some of the drippings if there is an excessive amount left over).  Stir and cook until onion is tender, about 5 minutes.  Add garlic, cook 1 minute longer.  Whisk in flour, salt and pepper, cook for 1 additional minute.

Stir in potatoes, corncobs, and broth; heat to boiling.  Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until potatoes are tender; 10-15 minutes.

Discard corncobs from soup pot.  Stir in corn kernels, cooked bacon, tomato, and half and half.  Heat through.  Serve immediately.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Rosemary Butter Cookies

It’s Monday after Thanksgiving and I am exhausted from visiting family and traveling with young children, anyone else?  What can make a tired Monday better?  Have a cookie, you’ll feel better.  And why just any cookie?  Let’s go all out and have Christmas cookies!

Since my mom makes every cookie under the sun I am always looking for new Christmas cookie recipes.  This way, I can enjoy my own cookies and then go to her house and enjoy all different cookies!  It’s a win-win situation.  As I was browsing recipes the other day, I came across these Rosemary Butter Cookies on Martha Stewart’s website and thought they’d make a unique kind of Christmas cookie. 

I love that these cookies aren’t super sweet like so many others out there and have an interesting hint of rosemary.  I also added a little lemon extract to the recipe because I love the light flavor of lemon mingling with the subtle rosemary taste.  I made my cookies a little more festive by rolling them in colored sugar, but you can do white sugar or any color! 

Rosemary Butter Cookies
Adapted from Martha Stewart

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, beaten
½ tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp lemon extract
2 ½ cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
¾ tsp coarse sea salt
½ cup fine sanding sugar or colored sugar

In an electric mixer, mix butter and granulated sugar on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Mix in egg, vanilla, and lemon extract.

Reduce speed to low.  Add flour, rosemary, and salt.  Mix until combined.

Place dough on waxed paper.  Shape into two logs.  On a separate piece of waxed paper, sprinkle a layer of sanding sugar.  Slowly roll each dough log through the sanding sugar.  Wrap each log separately in cling wrap.  Place in paper towel tubes to hold shape if desired (I didn’t have any tubes and rolled my dough a bit wider).  Freeze until firm, about 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper.  Cut each log into ¼ inch thick rounds.  Space 1 in apart on prepared baking sheets.  Bake until edges are golden, 16-18 minutes.  Let cool on sheet on wire racks.  Store in an airtight container.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Spicy Chicken and White Bean Chili

As the Midwest gets pummeled by snowstorms and ice storms and frigid temperatures, it is the perfect time for a nice warm bowl of chili.  I saw this white chili at Multiply Delicious a few weeks ago and was excited to try it.  I have been wanted to try a white chili for quite some time, but hadn’t seen a recipe that jumped out at me until now.

This spicy chili is great for a cold, snowy day and can simmer on the stove as you wait for your Thanksgiving guests to arrive.  The recipe calls for 2 ½ cups of rotisserie chicken (how easy is that?) which, incidentally ends up being almost 1 whole rotisserie chicken.  I saved the extra chicken breast I had left over for my son to dip in BBQ sauce, since he isn’t really into soups of any kind yet.  This would also be a great post Thanksgiving meal, since you could easily substitute 2 ½ cups of leftover turkey for the chicken, a much more interesting option than dozen and dozens of cold turkey sandwiches!

Because I knew I would be in a rush when I made the chili, I did a lot of the prep the the night before.  There is a lot of shredding, chopping, and food processing involved with this recipe, but it can all be done ahead of time, and placed in containers so all you have to do is dump them in the pot when it is time to start cooking!

One final note, you may have noticed the lack of Thanksgiving-type recipes on this blog.  Well, I am not having Thanksgiving at my house this year since I get to go home for my mom’s cooking (yay!)  So this year, I get to learn how to make mom’s stuffing and will be trying a new sweet potato recipe.  But since I haven’t made it yet, you’ll have to wait until after the holiday. With any luck, these sweet potatoes will be a delicious addition to any meal, not just Thanksgiving.  That aside, please enjoy the chicken chili!

Spicy Chicken and White Bean Chili
Source: Multiply Delicious

1 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 large red bell pepper, diced (about 1 1/3 cups)
2 (15 oz) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 (10 oz) can Rotel diced tomatoes and green chilies
2 ½ cups (about ¾ lb) rotisserie chicken, diced
2 tbsp chili powder
2 tsp ground cumin
1 cup chicken broth
3 tbsp lime juice
Salt & pepper to taste
1 ripe avocado, diced

In a food processor, combine 1 cup of the beans and 1 ½ cans of the tomatoes.  Process until smooth.  Set aside.

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onions, cook until softened, 2-3 minutes.

Next, add the red peppers, cook an additional 2 minutes, until tender.  Stir in chili powder and cumin.   Add chicken broth and heat through.

Next, add the bean puree mixture, beans, and tomatoes and bring to a boil.  Stir in chicken.  Cover and reduce heat to medium-low.  Simmer for 15-20 minutes.  Stir in lime juice, salt and pepper as desired.

Top with cheddar cheese and diced avocados.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Flax Banana Bread

I always like to have home made, healthy snacks for my son (something I learned from my mom).  One of my favorite snacks as I was growing up was banana bread.  This one is a slightly different version than I grew up with.  It has a little less sugar and uses flax, so I thought I’d give it a whirl.

This bread ended up very tasty and I didn’t even notice the reduced sugar.  One thing I did notice was that this took a very long time to cook.  I suggest splitting this into 2 smaller loaves and cooking for 45 minutes.  If you want a nice snack with some bonus fiber—this is the bread for you!

Flax Banana Bread
Adapted from The Amazing Flax Cook Book

1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
½ cup whole wheat flour
½ cup ground flax seed
2/3 cup white sugar
2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
2 eggs
¼ cup skim milk
¼ cup canola oil
1 cup mashed bananas (3 small or 2 large)
½ tsp vanilla
½ cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease an 8 ½ x 4 ½ inch loaf pan.

In a large bowl mix flours, flax, sugar, baking powder, and salt until thoroughly blended.

In a separate bowl, mix bananas, eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla until well blended.

Mix wet ingredients in with the dry ingredients until just moistened.  Mix in chopped nuts.

Pour batter into prepared pan.  Bake 55 minutes until dark brown or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (mine took about 70 minutes).  Let the bread cool in the pan for 10 minutes.  Then, remove bread from the pan and let cool completely on a wire rack.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Ginger Marinated Pork Tenderloin

Last winter I had a discussion with my brother in law (who is a chef) about reductions.  How do you make one?  What’s the point?, etc.  After some explaining, I found out that a reduction was simply cooking most of the water out of a sauce to make a thicker sauce and, uh, reducing it.  I’m pretty sure I sounded stupid asking simple questions, but I’m ok with it.  Unfortunately, my brother in law’s visit was too short for any hands on lessons, so I have continued little afraid of reductions.  My concern was that if I boiled a sauce for a really long time I would succeed in making a nasty scorched mess instead of a beautiful fancy pants reduction (I watch a lot of Food Network, they always seem to be making reductions and sounding all hoity-toity about it).

Well, the fear of reductions ends now.  I recently saw this recipe for pork chop marinade at Elly Says Opa!  The recipe looked very tasty and I was interested in using ginger root for the first time (note: make sure you have a grater besides a rotary cheese grater…this only makes a huge frustrating mess).  In my hasty speed reading, however, I missed the part of the recipe where it mentioned making a reduction of the reserved marinade.  So, late one night, I reread the recipe as I was preparing the marinade and found myself facing my reduction fears.  And I have to say, those fears were unfounded.  I ended up with a beautiful and tasty reduction and the only scorching was because I had the burner too hot and allowed the reduction to boil over onto the burner…sad.  Luckily, I was nearby and was able to save most of it, but I did have a nasty mess to clean up.  Moral of the story: watch you burner, keep it on medium.

I hope you enjoy this pork loin as much as I did.  It was moist and tasty, and by marinating it overnight, the flavors were able to really sink into the meat.  Enjoy, have fun, and remember, reductions aren’t as scary as you might think!

Ginger Marinated Pork Tenderloin

2/3 + ½ cup low sodium chicken broth, divided
¼ cup low sodium soy sauce
¼ cup brown sugar
3 tbsp ketchup or 2 tbsp tomato paste
3 tbsp finely grated, peeled fresh ginger
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp vinegar
1 pork tenderloin
1 tbsp olive oil

Whisk together 2/3 cup chicken broth, soy sauce, sugar, ketchup, ginger, garlic, and vinegar.  Pour into a resealable bag and add the pork.  Place in the refrigerator and marinate overnight or at least 2 hours, turning occasionally.

Bring tenderloin to room temperature, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 475 degrees

Pat the tenderloin dry, reserve marinade.  Season tenderloin with salt and pepper.  Heat a large, ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat and add the oil.  Place tenderloin in the skillet and sear on all sides, about 5 minutes total.

Place the tenderloin in the oven to finish cooking.    Set timer for 15 minutes and check the temperature.  Keep cooking at 10 minute increments, until pork reaches an internal temperature of 150 degrees.  The total time will depend upon the size and thickness of the tenderloin.  I used a pork roast, so it was thick, and took about 30 minutes to cook.

Place tenderloin on a platter.  Tent loosely with foil and let it rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

Meanwhile, pour marinade through a strainer and into a saucepan.  Add the remaining ½ cup of chicken broth and bring to a boil.  Boil until reduced to 1/3 cup, 10-15 minutes.  Serve the sliced tenderloin with the sauce.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Peanut Butter Banana Pancakes

Late last night I got to thinking about peanut butter and chocolate.  Then I started thinking about peanut butter and bananas.  Then I thought of how great it would be to have a combination of the three…in pancake form.  For the kids, of course!

So this morning, I got right to it.  I didn’t have any fresh bananas, and was unable to get to the store.  But, I had some in the freezer, so I thawed them out and threw them in my batter. 
I am not sure if there is a trick to getting peanut butter to whisk, but if yours doesn’t completely incorporate, it’s ok!  There are just little peanut butter nuggets hidden throughout the pancakes, waiting to greet you with peanut buttery goodness! 

These are pretty quick and easy, not to mention, fun and healthy!  However, if you don’t have or don’t want to use the wheat germ and flax (but they’re so good for you!), then substitute all purpose flour for those amounts.

Peanut Butter Banana Pancakes

1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
½ cup whole wheat flour
2 tbsp wheat germ
2 tbsp ground flaxseed
1 tbsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1/3 cup mini chocolate chips
1 1/3 cups lowfat milk
2 tbsp honey
2 large eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup mashed bananas (2 small or 1 large)
1/3 cup smooth peanut butter

Whisk together the all purpose flour, whole wheat flour, wheat germ, flaxseed, baking powder, salt, and chocolate chips in a large bowl.

In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, bananas, peanut butter, and vanilla until well blended.  Pour liquid ingredients over dry ingredients and stir until just combined.

Heat a large non stick electric skillet to medium-high heat.  Pour batter onto hot skillet; I used a heaping 2 tbsp measuring spoon.

Cook until bubbles begin to appear on the surface of the pancakes and the bottoms turn golden, about 3 minutes.  Flip and cook until golden, 2 minutes.

Serve immediately plain or with a drizzle of your favorite syrup.

Makes about 24 pancakes

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Oatmeal Brownie Cookies

These little cookies are my own little concoction using many of my favorite cookie add-ins.  By using brownie mix as a base, these cookies come together very quickly and are nice and chocolaty. 

The amount of chocolate in the brownie mix also lends itself as a perfect vehicle for some healthy ingredients (trust me, no one will know they’re there!).  The addition of oatmeal, flax and wheat germ provide some extra fiber, plus the oatmeal absorbs the extra liquid from the brownies to make them more cookie-like.

Now, the next healthy ingredient is purple puree (find the recipe here).  Purple puree is a Sneaky Chef recipe made with spinach and blueberries.  Yes, I said spinach.  But don’t be put off by it!  As long as you get a nice smooth puree no one (not even your kids or husband) will notice it.  There is surprisingly no residual spinach taste and the dark brown color of the chocolate camouflages all traces of the purple.  These cookies are great, because while they do have a lot of sugar, they have so many healthy ingredients that I don’t feel guilty for giving my son one for dessert!

Oatmeal Brownie Cookies

1 box of brownie mix
            Eggs, as indicated on the box
            ¾ cup purple puree + half the oil called for on the box – OR-
                        Water and oil, as indicated on the box
2 heaping tbsp wheat germ
2 heaping tbsp ground flax seed
1 cup old fashioned oats
1 cup chocolate chips
1 small package of M&M’s

Mix together brownie mix, eggs, oil, puree (or full amounts of oil and water), wheat germ, and flax until smooth.

Stir in oats, chocolate chips and M&Ms.  Let stand for at least an hour to let the oatmeal absorb some of the liquid.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line cookie sheets with parchment paper (trust me, these stick terribly without it)

Drop cookies 2 ½ inches apart on prepared cookie sheets using a cookie scoop or 2 table spoons.

Bake for 12-14 minutes or until the tops look satiny.  Let cool for a couple minutes on parchment paper.  Before they are completely cool, peel off parchment paper and continue cooling.


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Patchwork Casserole

In the fall and winter, I love making casseroles.  I love being able to do a little bit of quick prep and then ignore the dish for an hour while it finishes.  A bonus is that the house gets nice and toasty and it smells great!

I admit that the main reason I tried this recipe was because I wanted to cut shapes out of cheese.  Silly I know, but it was fun. J  The dish itself was quite good.  The addition of the cheese in the middle adds a little extra interest.

The recipe you see below is actually half of the original.  This was perfect for a small family, with about 4 servings.  The original recipe serves 8-10.  I also exchanged the green pepper called for in the recipe for a sweeter red bell pepper.

Patchwork Casserole

1 lb ground beef
1 small red bell pepper (about 1 cup), chopped
½ cup onion, chopped
1 pound southern style hash browns, thawed
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
½ cup water
3 oz tomato paste
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp dried basil
¼ tsp black pepper
½ lb (about 8 slices) American cheese singles

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Place beef and onion into a large skillet; cook until beef is browned.  Drain off fat.  Add red pepper and cook until tender.

Stir in hash browns, tomato sauce, tomato paste, water, and spices.

Spoon half of the meat mixture into a 2 quart baking dish. Top with half (about 4 slices) of the cheese.  Top with the remaining meat mixture.  Cover and bake for 45 minutes.

Cut remaining cheese into fun shapes. Place on top of casserole.  Let stand for 5 minutes, until cheese melts.

Recipe Adapted from America’s Favorites: Casseroles & One-Dish Meals



Friday, November 12, 2010

Pumpkin Pie Bars

I love pumpkin pie.  However, I never really make pies (it is a goal I have for myself—learn how to make pies).  So, when I saw this recipe for Pumpkin Pie Bars from Joy the Baker, I knew I was on to something.

These bars are delicious.  The toppings (modified slightly) and the crumbly crust are a delightful twist on the traditional pumpkin pie.  I don’t really have anything else to say about these except: yum and enjoy!

Pumpkin Pie Bars

1 1/3 cups flour*
¾ cup granulated sugar, divided
½ cup packed brown sugar
¾ cup cold unsalted butter
1 cup old fashioned oats
½ cup chopped walnuts
1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened
3 eggs
1 (15 oz) can pumpkin
1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice**
1 tsp vanilla
1 handful toffee bits
1 handful mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a 13 x 9 inch pan with foil, with the ends extending over the sides.  Grease foil.

Mix flour, ¼ cup granulated sugar, and brown sugar in a medium bowl.  Cut in sugar with a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse bread crumbs.  Stir in oats and nuts.

Set aside 1 cup of oat mixture.  Press the remaining mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan.  Bake for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, beat cream cheese, remaining ½ cup granulated sugar, eggs, vanilla, pumpkin, and spices with a mixer until well blended.  Pour pumpkin mixture over the baked crust.  Sprinkle with the remaining 1 cup of oat mixture.  Top with toffee and chocolate chips.

Bake for 25 minutes.  Cool in the pan for 10 minutes.  After 10 minutes, use the foil to transfer the dessert from the pan to a wire rack.  Cool completely.

*I used half unbleached all purpose flour and half whole wheat flour.

**If you do not have pumpkin pie spice, use 1 tsp ground cinnamon, ½ tsp ground ginger, and ¼ tsp ground cloves.


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Tater Tot Casserole

Tater Tot Casserole is one of my favorite cold weather comfort foods.  Oddly enough, I never had Tater Tot Casserole until I was in college and it was served in the dining center.  The college I went to was not known for its food.  Really, it was one step above nuclear waste most of the time, but I really liked their Tater Tot Casserole (none of my friends agreed).

When I was out of the dorms and in my first year of marriage, I decided that I would like to recreate my favorite dining center dish.  I played with the recipe a bit and improved on the dining center version – I’m sure I would shudder if I had to eat it at the dining center now!

This makes a large casserole that serves about 8.  I always make the full size because we can enjoy it as leftovers for several days (it heats up well in the microwave).  Because of the tater tots, it is also pretty kid friendly, and they might even eat a green bean or two!

Tater Tot Casserole

1 ½ lbs lean ground beef
1 small onion, diced
1 can Healthy Request Cream of Mushroom Soup
1 can Healthy Request Cream of Chicken Soup
30 ounces green beans (2 cans)
2 cups mozzarella cheese
32 ounces frozen tater tots

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Place ground beef and onion together in a skillet.  Cook over medium-high heat until beef is browned and onion is tender. Drain.

Layer beef and onion mixture in a large casserole dish.  Mix soups together and spread over beef mixture. 

Follow with a layer of green beans.  Sprinkle the mozzarella cheese on top.

Lastly, place tater tots on top in a single layer.  Place casserole dish, uncovered, in the oven for 45 minutes or until tater tots are crispy and golden.


Monday, November 8, 2010

Red Pizza (or possibly purple) - UPDATED 11-19-10

Since I discovered that I could put pumpkin into pizza, a whole new world of pizza dough has been opened to me.  As I browsed The Cooking Photographer’s site, I found a recipe for Purple Pizza that used beets in the dough.  Now, I have never cooked with beets, but was completely fascinated by this recipe and decided to take on the challenge.

The dough turned out delicious and I couldn’t even taste the beets in the dough, much to my surprise!  My 2 year old liked the colorful crust and enjoyed eating it and I was thrilled because he was eating beets!

I’m not sure why, but my beet pizza turned out more magenta or red than The Cooking Photographer’s bright purple.  Perhaps I had a different variety or beets or it could be that I added some extra beet juice to my dough, regardless, it was scrumptious!

One word of warning, make sure your beets are cooked through, otherwise they will not process down to a nice smooth puree.  It took me two tries to get a smooth enough puree, likely due to my lack of experience with the beets.  Also, if you do not want to use flax or whole wheat flour, increase the all purpose flour to 3 ½ cups.

Red Pizza
       (or possibly purple)

½ cup warm water (105-115 degrees)
½ tbsp active dry yeast
1 tsp honey
¾ cup pureed beets (directions follow)
3 tbsp beet juice
½ cup ground flax seed
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Beet Puree

Microwave Method

Scrub beets under warm water.  You do not need to peel them until after they are cooked (it will be much easier).

Line a microwave safe plate with paper towels.  Stab beets several times with a knife for venting.  Cook in 5 minute increments until beets are thoroughly cooked and cut easily with a knife.  My beets were rather large and took about 12 minutes to cook.  Set aside to cool.

When beets are cool enough to handle, peel and cut into chunks and place into a large measuring cup.  Add water to fill half of the measuring cup (this will help the beets to puree smoothly).  Pulse in the food processor until very smooth.

Line a small colander with paper towels.  Place the colander over a bowl to catch liquid.  Place beet puree into the colander for 5-10 minutes to strain the liquid out.  Reserve 3 tablespoons beet juice to add to dough..


Boiling Method (I like this one better)

Cut the stems and roots off, very close to the beet.  Run under water to remove any dirt.

Place in a pot and cover beets with water.  Boil over medium heat for 30 minutes or until beets pierce easily with a fork (they will still be somewhat firm).

Scoop beets into a colander and rinse with cold water.  Reserve the water the beets boiled in.  Once the beets are cool enough to handle, gently rub the skins with your fingers and the skins will peel off easily.

Dice beets and place them in a food processor add enough liquid (use the liquid leftover from boiling the beets) to almost cover the beets.  Pulse until beets are very smooth.  At this time you can either freeze the puree in 1-cup increments or use it immediately.  To use (or after thawing frozen puree) move the puree to a paper towel lined colander with a bowl beneath to catch the liquid.  Once liquid has drained, about 10 minutes, the puree in ready to use.  Reserve some of the liquid to add into the pizza dough.

Pizza Dough
Mix yeast and honey into the warm water.  Cover with a damp cloth for 5 minutes until yeast is foamy.

Mix yeast beet puree, beet juice, salt, olive oil, flax, and flours in a large bowl.  Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until all the flour is incorporated and dough is smooth and no longer sticky.  If your counter stains easily, use a mat.

Spray a bowl with cooking spray.  Place dough in bowl and turn to coat.  Cover with a damp cloth and put in a warm, draft free place to rise.  Let the dough raise until it is doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Punch down dough.  Split into two halves.  Roll each half into 12-inch circles.  Cover with sauce and your favorite toppings*.

Place dough onto pizza pans or baking sheets and cook at 450 degrees for about 15 minutes or until crust is browned and cheese is melted.

The pizza you see above is topped with sauce followed by turkey pepperoni, fresh spinach, mozzarella cheese, orange bell peppers, crumbled bacon, mushrooms, and white onions.


Friday, November 5, 2010

Salty-Sweet Scotcheroos

Last weekend I was talking with my mom and she told me about some scotcheroos she had seen at a party.  Instead of being made with something “healthy” like Rice Krispies or Special K, her friend went all out and used chips instead.  My eyes glazed over at the thought of the salty-sweet goodness.  I couldn’t stop thinking about it until I made them for myself and salty-sweet lovers everywhere.

So, I pulled out my mom’s scotcheroo recipe (yum) and modified it to bring the salty-sweet deliciousness to fruition.  I was not disappointed.  It was difficult to share, since I wanted to hoard them all to myself.  But, I was a good person and even put them out when we had company. 

One thing you may notice in the recipe is that there is no butterscotch in my scotcheroos, confusing, eh?  Well, I don’t like butterscotch, so my so called scotcheroos never have it (and I’m always super disappointed when I eat a real scotcheroo containing butterscotch!)  So, if you like scotcheroos with butterscotch, you’ll have to add it in, wherever it usually lurks, ruining perfectly good chocolaty non-scotcheroos.

Salty-Sweet Scotcheroos

4 cups (1 regular sized bag) of Fritos, crushed
¾ cup light corn syrup
¾ cup white sugar
¾ cup peanut butter
8 oz semi sweet chocolate chips

Butter and 8 x 8 inch pan, set aside.

Mix corn syrup and sugar together in a pan.  Over medium heat, bring to a boil, stirring frequently.  Remove from heat.  Mix in peanut butter.  Fritos and stir until Fritos are coated.  Press mixture into a buttered 8 x 8 inch pan.

Put chocolate chips in a microwave dish.  Microwave for 30 second increments, stirring each time, until chocolate is melted.  Spread over Frito mixture.


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Slow Cooker Spaghetti & Meatballs

I decided to break out the slow cooker again with some spaghetti and meatballs.  Are we seeing a theme here, Bolognese, meatballs…hmm...I will try to diversify in the future!

This recipe ends up being a conglomeration of a bunch of different recipes.  It is based off of this one from  But I wanted to add a little more sausage flavor, so I added more spice.  Then, since I use homemade bread crumbs, I didn’t have any Italian bread crumbs on hand, so I added more spice.  You get the picture.

One other thing I did differently was par-cook the meatballs.  I swore I would never do this – my thinking “why would I spend time cooking something that is going in the slow cooker?”  However, after researching the topic, I found that not only can par-cooking improve the flavors, but also it help to cook off some of the fat before the meat goes into the slow cooker.  Of course, you can always strain the grease off at the end, but that is time consuming as well. 

Here is a picture of the ick—bleh, I’m glad I par-cooked!

This recipe ended up making about 8 good sized servings.  It was very flavorful.  It is a nice comfort food meal that comes together quite quickly and is delicious served over whole wheat pasta.

Slow Cooker Spaghetti & Meatballs

1 ½ pounds ground beef
¾ Italian bread crumbs –or-
¾ cup whole wheat bread crumbs
½ tsp salt
½ dried parsley
½ tsp black pepper
½ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp onion powder
¼ tsp dried oregano
¼ tsp dried basil
3 cloves garlic, minced
½ onion, chopped
1 egg, beaten
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp black pepper
1 (28 ounce) jar of spaghetti sauce (I used Prego Roasted Garlic & Parmesan)
1 (16 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 (14ounce) can tomato sauce

In a bowl, mix beef, bread crumbs, garlic, onion, egg, paprika, and black pepper.  Shape into meatballs.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes.  You can skip this step, but then you will have a lot of grease to strain off the sauce.

In a slow cooker, mix the spaghetti sauce, crushed tomatoes, and tomato sauce.  Place meatballs into sauce mixture and stir.  Cook on low for 6-8 hours.


Monday, November 1, 2010

Pumpkin Pumpkin Pizza

Okay, I admit it.  I did.  I put pumpkin puree into pizza dough.  And I did it when we had poor, unsuspecting friends coming over.  And the recipe didn’t share how long to cook it in the oven.  Or what temperature.  But it worked out.  Really!  Our friends loved the pizza.  The two year olds (when they weren’t being distracted by the fact that they were about to go trick or treating) loved it.  And my husband and I loved it as well.

So how this all started, was me thinking that I should make a pumpkin shaped pizza, like I do every Halloween.  Then I got to thinking that it was be even cooler if, somewhere on the internet, there existed a recipe for pumpkin pizza dough.  Pumpkin pumpkin pizza!  Awesomeness!  The search was actually a long one, as most pumpkin pizza doughs are sweet, more suited for dessert pizza, than savory.  But I stumbled upon a fun new blog (new to me that is), The Cooking Photographer, and there is was!  

The Cooking Photographer always grills her pizza, thus the reason for the lack of oven baking directions.  I have grilled pizza in the past (and like it), but wanted to take more time decorating the pizza than one usually has when grilling a pizza.  So, I just used the baking directions from another one of my pizza recipes, and a very tasty pizza was baked.  There is just the lightest taste of pumpkin complemented by a lovely orange hue that is perfect for a pumpkin pumpkin pizza.  I used this dough at Halloween, but it is delicious and would be appropriate any time of year.  Plus veggies, in pizza, that the kids can’t pick off?  Awesome.

Pumpkin Pumpkin Pizza

½ cup warm water (105-115 degrees)
1 tsp honey
1 tbsp active dry yeast
1 ½ cups whole wheat flour
1 ½ - 2 cups unbleached all purpose flour or bread flour
1 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
½ tsp onion powder
½ tsp garlic powder

Mix together water, yeast, and honey.  Cover with a damp cloth.  Set aside for 5 minutes.

Put yeast mixture, half the flour, pumpkin, olive oil, salt, onion powder, and garlic powder together in a bowl and mix.  Turn out onto a floured surface and begin kneading remaining flour in until you have a smooth ball of dough.

Coat a large bowl with olive oil, turn dough to coat.  Cover with a damp cloth and put in a warm, draft free place to rise for about 1 hour or until doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Place sauce and toppings on pizza.*

Cook for 10-15 minutes or until cheese in melted and crust is golden brown.

*For my pizza I did a layer of sauce, followed by turkey pepperoni, spinach, and mozzarella cheese.  I added more pepperoni and orange peppers on top to make a pumpkin face.




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