Tuesday, December 16, 2008

So Much to Blog About ... where do I begin?

I think it's because I recently read Julie and Julia... I am obsessed with cooking new things! (But tasty and normal, not French and involving bone marrow). It's downright kooky. Just yesterday I made Zuni Roast Chicken (absolutely, postively the BEST roast chicken recipe EVER!) and 2 batches of cookies (Chris's favorite, Reeses peanut butter cup cookies; and oatmeal chocolate chip for the teachers at school).

Before that I made blue cheese stuffed meatloaf and two chicken pot pies. It's crazy I tell you.

There's also the chicken pot pie...

Growing up, my mother let each of us "opt out" of a meal and have a hot dog instead. My opt out meal was chicken pot pie. Sorry Mom, I really didn't like the noodle/stew/soup concoction you slaved over -- and she did. She made the noodles from scratch. Now that I'm a mom, I understand how disappointing it is to really want to give your family something GOOD and have them ask for a hot dog instead.

That said, somewhere along the road to adulthood, I started trying other people's chicken pot pie. And guess what -- I loved it. So I searched my meager archives of recipes and found the follwing in the Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook --

I've made two so far, neither time did I make the crust. Once I used regular old refrigerated pie crust, and once I used puff pastry crust. Both times I followed the recipe as written, but I know we can lighten this baby up (that'll be next time).

My kids (ok, just Kate) complained about the cooked carrots I'm sure I could put some other veggie in there, but she'd still complain, so why bother?

I'm going to start a section for meals you can make for sick neighbors, new mothers, and potlucks... and this one is going in there first....

Chicken Pot Pie
4 whole skinless boneless chicken breasts (2 lbs)
1 c. heavy or whipping cream
4 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 zucchini, unpeeled, uct into 1/2 inch pieces
5 T. unsalted butter
2 small yellow onions (8 oz), coarsely chopped
5 T. flour
1 c. chicken broth
1/4 c. Cognac or dry white wine
1 T. dried tarragon
1 1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
1 egg
1 T butter

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Place chicken breasts in a single layer in a baking pan. Pour the cream over and bake 25 minutes. Remove chicken from the cream; reserve the cream and cooking juices. Let the chicken cool and cut into 1-inch pieces.
3. Blanch the carrots in boiling salted water for 3 minutes. Add the zucchini and cook 1 minute more. Drain and cool under cold running water. Drain thoroughly.
4. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes. Do not let flour brown.
5. Add the broth andcook, stirring constantly until thickened. Stir in the reserved cream and cooking juices and the Cognac. Cook over low heat until thick, about 5 minutes.
6. Stir in the tarragon, salt, and pepper and simmer 1 minute. Add the chicken and vegetablesa nd mix gently into the cream sauce. Remove from heat.
7. Preheat oven to 425 degrees
8. Mix the egg and water in a small bowl. Pour the chicken filling into a deep 2-quart casserole or souffle dish. Roll out pastry and place on the dish. Trim the pastry leaving a 1-inch border. Brush the edge of the dish wiht egg was ten press the overhaning dough onto the dish. Crimp the pastry decoratively and brush the top with egg wash. Cut a steam vent in the center.
9. Place the dish on a baking sheet and bake on middle rack until the crust is golden, 25 minutes. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Sesame Noodles with Chicken

This one was a hit with everyone. It's sort of like the peanut butter chicken I posted earlier, but I love the sesame and noodle additions. I've just got to find a place to buy sesame seeds in bulk!

(From Cooks Illustrated, Sept/Oct 2004, pg. 20)

1/4 c. sesame seeds
1/3 c. chunky peanut butter
2 medium garlic cloves, mince or pressed through garlic press
1 T. minced fresh ginger
5 T. soy sauce
2 T. rice vinegar
1 t. hot sauce
2 T. lightly packed light brown sugar
Hot Water
1.5 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1 T table salt
12 oz. dried spaghetti
2 T. Asian sesame oil
4 scallions sliced thin on diagonal
1 medium carrot, grated

1. Toast sesame seeds in medium skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, until golden and fragrant, about 10 miutes. Reserve 1 Tb. sesame seeds in small bowl. In blender or food processor, puree remaining 3 tablespoons sesame seeds, peanut butter, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, vinegar, hot sauce and sugar until smooth, about 30 seconds. With machine running, add hot water (1 T at a time) until sauce has consistency of heavy cream, aobut 5 tablespoons. Set aside.

2. Bring six quarts water to boil in stockpot over high heat. Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to 6 inches from broiler element; heat broiler. Spray broiler pan top with vegetable cooking spary; place chicken breasts on top and broil chicken until lightly browned, 4 to 8 minutes. Using tongs, flip chicken over and continue to broil until thickest part is no longer pink when cut into an dregisters about 160 degrees on instant-read thermometer, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to cuttin gboard and let rest 5 minutes. Using 2 forks shred chicken into bit size pieces and set aside. Boil the spaghetti. After it's done, toss noodles wiht sesame oil until evenly coated. Add shredded chicken, scallions, carrot, and sauce; toss to combine. Divide among serving bowls, and sprinkle each portion with sesame seeds.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


I've got about one million things to do, but feel I MUST post these recipes first. I have finally become a person with a specialty -- or a "usual" -- for Thanksgiving I make a pumpkin praline torte. Husband found the recipe in the back of a Taste Of Home magazine years ago, and said, "I think that sounds good." The rest, as they say, is history. And so, here is the recipe.

Pumpkin Praline Torte

¾ c. packed brown sugar
1/3 c. butter
3 T. whipping cream
¾ c. chopped pecans

4 eggs
1 2/3 c. sugar
1 c. vegetable oil
2 c. canned pumpkin (or 15 oz. can)
¼ t. vanilla extract
2 c. all purpose flour
2 t. baking powder
2 t. pumpkin pie spice
1 t. baking soda
1 t. salt

1 ¾ c. whipping cream
¼ c. confectioners sugar
¼ t. vanilla extract
Additional chopped nuts

In a heavy saucepan, combine brown sugar, butter and cream. Cook and stir over low heat until sugar is dissolved. Pour into two well-greased 9-in. round baking pans. Sprinkle with pecans; cool. In a mixing bowl, beat eggs, sugar and oil. Add pumpkin and vanilla. Combine dry ingredients; add to pumpkin mixture and beat just until blended. Carefully spoon over brown sugar mixture. Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks to cool completely. Place one cake layer, praline side up on a serving plate. In a mixing bowl, beat cream until soft peaks form. Beat in sugar and vanilla. Spread two-thirds over cake. Top witsecond cake layer and remaining whipped cream. Sprinkle with additional pecans if desired. Store in refrigerator.

This next recipe is from the Washington Post a few weeks ago... soft buttermilk rolls. I also made these this year, and will continue to make them as often as possible. I first made them for an office Thanksgiving party and everyone loved them. A drift on a cloud of good feelings, I made them for my mother-in-law's dinner and not a single person mentioned them.... typical. But don't despair, I know they are delicious and they are going up on the blog, darn it!

Soft Buttermilk Rolls

4 t. active dry yeast (do not use instant or quick rising)
¼ t. plus 1/3 c. sugar
¼ c. warm water (105 to 110 degrees)
2 large eggs
1 c. low-fat or regular buttermilk
¼ t. baking soda
8 T. (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature, cut into 1 tablespoon chunks. Plus butter for greasing muffin tins and greasing the proofing bowl.
4 c. flour, plus more as needed for work surface
1 t. salt

Combine the yeast, ¼ t. of the sugar and warm water in a measuring cup. Allow the mixture to stand for 6 to 7 minutes, until the mixture has swollen.

Whisk together the eggs and the 1/3 c. sugar in a medium mixing bowl. Whisk together the buttermilk and baking soda in a separate small cup. Add the buttermilk-baking soda mixture, the yeast mixture and the butter to the egg-sugar mixture, stirring to combine.

Combine the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl, stirring to mix well. Add the egg-yeast mixture and stir to combine with a wooden spoon or paddle.

At this point the dough will be dry in some parts and moist in others. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and knead lightly to bring the dough together; it will be sticky. Sprinkle the work surface with more flour as needed.

Knead the dough for 7 or 8 minutes until it is smooth and moderately soft, incorporating as much of the flour as needed to achieve that state.

Use butter to liberally grease the inside of a proofing bowl. Transfer the dough to the bowl, turning to caot it all over. Use kitchen scissors to make several cuts in thedough, then cover the bowl tightly with a sheet of plastic wrap. Let rise at room temperature for 1 hour and 45 minutes or until the dough has doubled in bulk.

Butter the inside of 24 muffin cups

Divide the dough in half. Cut each half into 12 equal pieces

To form cloverleaf rolls, cut each of the 12 pieces into 3 equal pieces. Use your hands to roll the pieces into smooth balls and place them in the prepared muffin cup.

Cover each pan of rolls loosely with a sheet of lightly buttered plastic wrap. Let the rolls rise at room temperature for 60 to 75 minutes or until they are puffy and have doubled in bulk (or overnight and up to 24 hours in the refrigerator).

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes at 375. Cool the rolls in pans for 15 minutes.