Saturday, May 29, 2010

Vanilla Creme Brulee

I LOVE creme brulee and this is a great recipe. I don't recommend it for novice cooks, as you do need to have the right equipment to make this yummy dessert (food processor, ramekins, kitchen torch, etc.) and a few skills in the kitchen. My kids had fun helping me with a few parts of the recipe, although it is a little complicated. They especially loved watching me carmelize the sugar on top.

Ingredients:
1/2 vanilla bean, chopped into 1/4 in. pieces
2 T. sugar
1 c. heavy cream
1 c. half and half
3 egg yolks
1 egg
1/4 c. sugar
pinch of salt
Creme Brulee sugar (see below)

Directions:
*Preheat oven to 325 degrees
*Pulverize vanilla bean and 2 T. sugar in a coffee grinder.
*Warm cream, half and half, and vanilla sugar in a saucepan over medium heat just until steam rises.
*Whisk yolks, egg, 1/4 c. sugar, and salt together in a mixing bowl. Temper hot cream mixture into eggs, strain into a measuring cup with a pour spout and divide among six 4oz oven-proof ramekins. Arrange dishes in a baking pan, then carefully transfer the pan to the oven. Add hot water to the pan and bake custards 35-45 min, or until just set; do not overcook.
*Remove ramekins from the water bath, cool, then wrap loosely in plastic wrap. Chill until completely cold, preferably overnight.
*Carmelize each custard before serving by burning sugar on top.

Creme Brulee Sugar
Ingredients:
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. sugar

Combine both sugars, then spread the mixture out on a parchment-lined baking sheet. After baking the brulees, turn off the oven and place the pan inside for an hour to dry out the sugar.

Transfer sugar to a food processor and pulverize until fine. Store in an airtight container until ready to carmelize.

Directions:
1. Blot top of custards dry with a paper towel, if needed. Sprinkle 1-2 T. sugar mixture over each one; tap out any excess sugar.

2. Using a kitchen or propane torch, melt the sugar by waving the flame 4-8" from the surface.

3. Burn until surface of the custard is carmelized and no dry sugar is visible. Let stand 3-5 min. before serving.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Taco Seasoning Mix

Put in quart storage bag (or small storage container):
4 tsp chili powder
1 tbsp paprika
2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tbsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp ground red pepper

Makes ~4 tbsp... Use 1 tbsp per 1 lb ground meat, more or less to your liking.

Sesame-Cheese Dip

Place in quart storage bag (or small storage container):
3 tbsp parmesan cheese
2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
1/2 tbsp salt
1/2 tbsp celery seed
3/8 tsp black pepper
3/8 tsp garlic powder


Directions:
Combine 1 cup sour cream with 2 tbsp mix. Chill at least 1 hour before serving. (I like to serve with mini tortilla chips.)

Store in cool, dry place or in refrigerator.

Muffin Mix

Place in gallon storage bag:
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Needed to make muffins:
1 beaten egg
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup cooking oil
your favorite "filling"**


Directions:
Grease twelve muffin cups or line with paper baking cups; set aside. Put mixture into medium bowl and make a well in the center; set aside. In another bowl, combine egg, milk, and oil. Add egg mixture all at once to flour mixture. Stir until just moistened (batter should be lumpy). Fold in your favorite "filling".**

Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling each two-thirds full. Bake in a 400-degree oven for 18-20 minutes or until golden and a wooden toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool in muffin cups on a wire rack for 5 minutes; remove from muffin cups.


**Fillings:
- 3/4 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
- 1 cup mini chocolate chips
- 1 cup coarsely chopped cranberries (add 2 tbsp additional sugar to mix)
- 1 tbsp poppy seeds (add 3 tbsp additional sugar to mix)

Buttermilk Drop Biscuits Mix

Place in a gallon storage bag:
3 cups all-purpose flour
4 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp cream of tartar

Needed to make biscuits:
3/4 cup butter (or 1/2 cup butter and 1/4 cup shortening)
1-1/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup whipping cream

Directions:
Put mix in a large bowl. Using a pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Add buttermilk and whipping cream all at once. Using a fork, stir just until moistened.

Drop by spoonfuls onto a greased baking sheet. Bake in a 450 degree oven for 10-12 minutes or until golden. Remove biscuits from baking sheet and serve immediately. Makes 12 biscuits.

Chicken Noodle Soup Mix

Place in gallon storage bag:
~1 cup uncooked fine egg noodles
1-1/2 tbsp chicken bouillon
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/8 tsp celery seed
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1 bay leaf

Needed to make soup:
2 carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1/4 cup minced onion
3 cups cooked diced chicken

Directions:
Empty the soup mix from the jar into large stockpot and add 8 cups of water. Add the carrots, celery, and onion and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce to a simmer for 15 minutes. Remove the bay leaf, stir in the chicken, and simmer an additional 5 minutes.

Italian Stuffed Meatloaf

1 lb ground beef
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced (~2 tsp)
1/4 cup onion, diced
2 tbsp celery, finely diced
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
1/4 tsp dried basil
2 tbsp parmesan cheese
1 egg
1/8 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/8 tsp hot pepper sauce
milk, if needed

Filling**:
1/2 cup ricotta cheese (low fat)
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 tbsp dried parsley

Serving day:
1/2 -1 cup tomato or spaghetti sauce

Meat mixture: In a large mixing bowl, combine breadbrumbs, salt, pepper, garlic, onion, celery, Italian seasoning, basil, cheese, and ground beef. After combined, make a well in the center. Break the egg into this well; add Worcestershire sauce and hot pepper sauce. With a fork, quickly beat the egg and sauces together in the well. Using either your hands or a large spoon, mix eggs and meat together until well combined. If mixture seems too dry, add a little milk -- or one more beaten egg -- to the meat mixture.

For filling: In a mixing bowl, combine ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, and parsley. Mix together and set aside.

To assemble: Divide the meat mixture into two equal parts. Press half the meat mixture into a loaf pan. Pressing down with your fingers or the back of a spoon, create a shallow "ditch" down the middle of the meat mixture. Spread the ricotta filling mixture into the ditch, leaving about a 1.5 inch border of meat all around. Press the other half of the meat mixture into the loaf pan, pushing down around the outside edges to help seal the filling. Cover with foil and freeze.

Serving day: Thaw meatloaf. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 30 minutes, then spoon off any extra grease, if necessary. Pour 1/2 -1 cup of your favorite tomato or spaghetti sauce on top of the meatloaf and bake for an additional 25-30 minutes. Be careful not to overbake.

** For additional flavor, you can add 1/2 cup sauteed mushrooms and/or 1 tbsp sundried tomatoes to the filling.

Chocolate Decadence Freezer Pie

1 pkg (4-oz) Baker's German's sweet chocolate
1/3 cup milk, divided
4 oz cream cheese, softened
2 tbsp sugar
2 cups (8-oz) thawed whipped topping
1 (6 oz) chocolate graham crust

Microwave chocolate and 2 tbsp of milk in large microwaveable bowl on high 1-1/2 to 2 min or until chocolate is almost melted, stirring after each minute. Stir until chocolate is completely melted. Add cream cheese, sugar, and remaining milk; beat with wire whisk until well blended. Add whipped topping; stir gently until well blended. Spoon into crust.

Freeze 4 hours or until firm. Let stand at room temperature or in refrigerator about 10 min or until pie can be cut easily. Store in freezer.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Garlic Parmesan Orzo

I made this as a side dish for dinner and my whole family loved it -- especially my kids! You could easily use less butter, or sub some olive oil for the butter (half & half) to cut some fat & calories. It was really garlicky, but I loved that!

2 cups uncooked orzo pasta
3 tsp minced garlic
1/2 cup butter, cubed
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup milk
2 tsp dried parsley (or 2 tbsp minced fresh)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Cook orzo pasta according to pasta directions; drain. In same pot, saute garlic in butter until tender. Add the orzo, parmesan cheese, milk, parsley, salt and pepper. Cook and stir until heated through.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Tuscan Chicken Simmer

I got this recipe from Kraft Foods and thought it sounded great. I was right! My kids aren't big tomato fans, so I cut down on those -- but I loved how they "popped" open in my mouth. :) My husband loved this as well, and my kids really liked the chicken and sauce.

4 small boneless skinless chicken breasts (~1 lb)
4 oz cream cheese, cubed
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup pesto
2 cups grape or cherry tomatoes
1 cup shredded Italian five-cheese blend

Heat large nonstick skillet to med-high and coat with olive oil. Add chicken; cover. Cook 5-7 min on each side or until done. Remove chicken from skillet; cover to keep warm.

Add cream cheese, water, pesto, and tomatoes to skillet. Cook, uncovered, on medium heat 2 min or until heated through, stirring occasionally.

Return chicken to skillet. Cook and stir 1 min or until chicken is coated and heated through. Sprinkle with cheese.

Asian Chicken Wraps

This was such a light and easy meal to make. I was unsure how my kids would like it, but they LOVED it! My older son (5 yr old) asked for seconds! It won't keep well as leftovers, but we ate almost everything. :)

1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-in pieces
1 small red pepper, chopped
2 oz neufchatel or cream cheese
4 cups coleslaw blend
1/2 cup Kraft Asian toasted sesame dressing
1/3 cup lightly salted cocktail peanuts
flour tortillas (or big lettuce leaves)

Cook and stir chicken and peppers in a large nonstick skillet (in a little olive oil) on medium-high heat 6-8 minutes or until chicken is done. Add neufchatel; cook 2 min or until melted, stirring frequently.

Toss coleslaw blend with dressing in large bowl. Add chicken mixture and nuts; mix lightly.

Spoon chicken mixture down centers of tortillas; roll up. Cut in half.

**Recipe from LoveMyPhilly website