Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

I love carving pumpkins and toasting the seeds. Here is my simple recipe.

1 1/2 cups pumpkin seeds, cleaned and rinsed
1 Tbsp olive oil
course salt to taste

In a small bowl combine the pumpkin seeds and oil, toss to coat. Add lots of salt and a dash of pepper and paprika. Spread onto a foil lined cookie sheet and bake in 300 degree oven for 20 minutes. Watch them carefully so they dont burn. I usually stir them once or twice while cooking.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Dump Cake

I had a sweet tooth the other night so I threw together this easy pantry dessert. I got this recipe for Dump Cake from a blog I recently found, Fancy Toast.

Dump Cake

1 20 oz. can crushed pineapple
1 16 oz. can cherry pie filling
1 package yellow white cake mix
1 stick of butter, cut into thin slices (or just melt it if you’re really pressed for time)

Preheat oven to 350ºF.
Dump crushed pineapple and juices into a 13 x 9 inch baking pan.
Dump cherries.
Dump cake mix.
Dump butter slices (or drizzle the melted butter over top of the cake mix).
Bake for 30-50 minutes, until the top of the cake is golden-brown.
Serve as is, or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Other variations include:
Omit the pineapple juice, use 2 cans of cherry pie filling, and use chocolate cake mix instead of yellow. Mmmmmm....that sounds delicious!
Or, sprinkle some sweetened, shredded coconut before you add the butter. You can also sprinkle chopped pecans before you add the butter.
Or, use apple pie filling and a mix for spice cake.
The options are endless!

Crash Hot Potatoes

Ive been seeing this recipe all over a message board I frequent on The Nest. Its originally from a great blog, Pioneer Woman Cooks. Finally, after reading so many great reviews, I had to give them a go. I'm so glad I did. This is my newest favorite way to serve a side of potatoes.

These little babies were sooo good. We had them as a side to meat, but they would be wonderful as breakfast potatoes as well. They were so creamy and crunchy. So simple with just salt, pepper and a fresh herb. I topped ours with sour cream. Carl loved these. I did too. They were even great right out of the fridge and reheated well in the microwave. So so yummy. Definitely adding these to our normal rotation.

Crash Hot Potatoes
  • New Potatoes (or other small, round potato)
  • Olive Oil
  • Kosher Salt
  • Black Pepper
  • Whatever herb you like (I used rosemary and thyme)

Directions (Written by Pioneer Woman, excluding her original commentary)

Begin by bringing a pot of salted water to a boil. Add in as many potatoes as you wish to make, and cook them until they’re fork-tender. Next, generously drizzle olive oil on a sheet pan. When the potatoes are tender, place them on the cookie sheet giving them plenty of room to spread out. Next, grab your potato masher and gently press down on the potato until it slightly mashes. Then rotate the masher 90 degrees and finish flattening it. Of course, you don’t want to absolutely smash it into the pan—you want it almost to resemble a cookie. Repeat until all are flattened. And really, I don’t know why you couldn’t use the bottom of a glass for this step if you don’t have a potato masher. The surface might not be as textured and interesting, but I think it still might work. Next, brush the tops rather generously with olive oil. Next, grab some Kosher salt. You can use regular salt, but I’d really recommend using kosher. It adheres to the potatoes more easily and really flavors them nicely without getting too salty. Remember: potatoes need salt. Don’t skimp! Be ye ever as generous with fresh ground black pepper. Now, you can grab some chives…or thyme…or whatever herbs you have available. Whatever herb you use, just chop it pretty finely and sprinkle over the top. Now throw them onto the top rack of a very hot (450-degree) oven, and cook them for 20-25 minutes. Or until they’re golden and crispy and sizzling.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Id been promising Sam that we'd make some cookies for a few days. Finally I bought some chocolate chips and we were set. We made old fashioned chocolate chip cookies. I used the recipe that Ive always used since I was a kid...the original chocolate chip recipe, first made by Ruth Wakefield at her Toll House Inn, starting in 1930 back in Massachusetts. Its amazing to me that this popular cookie, which Id say is the most all-American cookie, was just invented in the last 100 years. If you'd like to know more about the history of Toll House chocolate chip cookies, you can click here. These are the best and easiest cookies to make from scratch. They really are better when you make them yourself. I think its the love that goes into them that makes them taste so good, along with fresh flour, butter and other ingredients. I know that now days, there are all the refrigerated cookie doughs you can buy, that make cookie making a snap. Sure they make your home smell good when baking and they serve the purpose of providing home baked cookies, but they just aren't quite as good as cookies made fresh from scratch.

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

3/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 large eggs2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels

1 cup chopped nuts

PREHEAT oven to 375° F.

COMBINE flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto un-greased baking sheets.

BAKE for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Mummy Dogs

I thought these were really cute when I saw them on Picky Palate. I searched online and found that people made these with either refrigerated crescent dough, or bread stick dough. Just cut the dough to make long thin strips that are easy to wrap around the hot dogs. I used crescent dough, and they were really yummy. Sam loved these because he could help me cut the dough and wrap it on the hot dogs. Definitely a fun thing for kids.

1 package of Pillsbury crescent rolls
8 hot dogs

Roll out the dough and press the seams to create 4 rectangles. Cut each rectangle into 8 strips. Use 4 strips per hot dog and wrap the dough around in both directions. Make sure there is a spot that can be the "face". Bake at 375 degrees for 10-15 minutes, or a nice golden brown. Use mustard and ketchup to make little eyes on the mummy faces.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Chicken Pot Pie

I went to a Farmer's Market today and picked up tons of locally grown organic veggies and fruits. I had some chicken thawing in the fridge so when I got home I decided to make a chicken pot pie. I adapted my recipe from my mom's America's Test Kitchen cook book. Basically I subbed fresh green beans for the frozen peas. (I also added a handful or 1/2 cup of frozen mixed veggies, to make up for the peas). I didn't have any sherry on hand or heavy cream, so I improvised and increased the chicken broth and used some half and half. The filling was so yummy, but not thick enough. Next time I will increase the flour to 1/3 cup and let it cook and simmer a minute longer before I start whisking in the liquids. I used the recipe for a single crust pie dough, but refrigerated pie crust could be an easy substitute. I didn't have any on hand, so I made one. Its really easy to make a great crust in a snap. This was yummy. Carl is not a fan of comfort food, but I am. He just has to suck it up and eat it sometimes, since I do all the cooking. Tonight, he had I know it passed his test.

Chicken Pot Pie

3 Tbsp butter
2 carrots, peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick
3 ribs celery, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 small red onion, minced
2 garlic cloves (I used frozen pureed garlic)
1 tsp dried thyme or 2 tsp fresh minced
1/4 cup flour (Id increase it to 1/3 cup)
2 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup half & half or heavy cream
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2 inch chunks
1 cup fresh green beans, trimmed
1 Tbsp dried parsley, or 2 Tbsp fresh chopped
1 Single Crust Pie Dough (recipe below)

If making the pie crust, make it first and let it chill for at least an hour while you make the pie filling.

For the crust:

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour, plus extra for rolling out the dough
1 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
3 Tbsp shortening, cut into 1/2 inch pieces and chilled
4 Tbsp butter, cut into 1/4 inch pieces and chilled
4-5 Tbsp ice water

In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, and salt. Cut in shortening with a pastry cutter. Once it is like course crumbs, cut in the butter. Using a wooden spoon, add 1 Tbsp water at a time and mix vigorously until the dough begins to come together...about 4 Tbsp of water or more. When the dough just comes together in a ball, press it together tightly and wrap with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least an hour. When ready to use, let sit out for 15 minutes to soften before rolling out.


Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a large dutch oven, melt and butter over medium heat. Add the carrots, celery, onion and 1/4 tsp salt and cook until softened, about 7 minutes.

Stir in the garlic and thyme and cook until just fragrant, about 15 seconds. Stir in the flour. Slowly stir in 1/2 cup chicken broth, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan, deglazing the pan. Stir in the rest of the broth, the half & half. Simmer until the mixture is thickened, about 10-15 minutes.

Stir in the green beans and parsley. Cook for another minute. Pour the mixture into a pie dish or a small casserole dish.

Roll out the pie dough into a 10 inch circle and place on top of the filling. Trim the edges. Bake until the crust is golden brown and the filling is hot and bubbly..about 20-25 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Tuna Noodle Casserole

I was in the mood for something easy tonight. We don't eat a lot of casseroles around here since they just dont usually have that healthy of ingredients. I grew up on them and happen to like many different "cream of crap" casseroles. I feel like the soups are pretty much interchangeable in most casserole recipes. I usually use Cream of Chicken, Mushroom or Celery. What I love about casseroles is you can make it in the morning and stick it in the oven at dinner time. Perfect for during the week.

This turned out yummy. I used a cup of leftover chopped broccoli from last night. I also subbed 1 cup shredded chicken, since it was the last of the roasted chicken from a few days ago. I was worried about mixing chicken and tuna, but really it was quite nice. It toned down the tuna taste some, which is good for me.

Tuna Noodle Casserole (my usual recipe, minus the changes)

2 cans tuna
1 can cream of celery soup
1/2-3/4 cup milk (play with the consistency till you find what you like)
1 cup frozen mixed veggies, thawed
1 cup chopped left over veggies
2 cups cooked pasta
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
lots of salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup bread crumbs mixed with 1 tbsp melted butter

Mix the tuna, soup, milk, veggies, pasta and cheese. If the sauce is too thick, add more milk until its pretty saucy. The pasta will absorb a lot of the liquid when it cooks. Season with plenty of salt and pepper. Pour into a greased casserole dish and top with breadcrumbs. Bake 400 degrees for 30 minutes, or until hot and bubbly. Serve with a fresh green salad for a nice midweek meal.