December 21, 2008

Swedish Tea Ring



Since my wonderful bread book has numerous holiday breads, I figure I must try at least one each Christmas season. This Swedish Tea Ring will be brunch for my family Christmas Eve. The sample pieces Dave and I tried (the ends without any filling) were delicious, so I can only imagine the flavors with the nuts, raisins and sugary buttery goodness.

Swedish Tea Ring
3 eggs plus undiluted evaporated milk equal to 1 1/3 cups
2 tsp. yeast
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup sugar
6 Tbsp. butter
3/4 cup wheat flour
3 1/4 cups bread flour

Filling:
1/4 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 cup golden raisins
3/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Warm eggs under hot tap water, and crack into a measuring cup. Heat milk until warm, between 105ºF and 115ºF. Pour milk and eggs into warmed mixing bowl, and add yeast. Let stand 5 minutes.

Stir in salt, sugar, butter, wheat flour and half the bread flour. Beat well. Cover and let rest 15 minutes. Slowly add remaining bread flour. Mix until dough forms. Knead on medium speed until dough is smooth and springy but soft to the touch. Cover and let rise one hour.

Punch dough down and roll into a 12 x 24 rectangle. Spread with softened butter and then sprinkle evenly with cinnamon and sugar mixture, raisins and nuts. Roll up jelly roll style, starting on the long edge. Pinch the ends to seal, and place on a lightly greased baking sheet. Form into a circle, pinching the ends to seal again. With sharp kitchen shears, cut almost all the way through the roll from the outside toward the center every 1/2 inch. Pull dough slices outward, layering them with the cut side up. Cover and let rise until puffy, about 45 to 60 minutes
. Preheat oven to 375ºF. Bake 16 to 20 minutes until golden. Remove from pan, and cool on wire rack. Serve plain or topped with cream cheese frosting.

December 18, 2008

Oatmeal Maple Nut Bread

This bread turned out well. It is not overly sweet but has good flavors.
Oatmeal Maple Nut Bread
1 1/3 cups water
6 Tbsp. maple syrup
2 tsp. yeast
2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup toasted oats
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
3 cups bread flour
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted

Heat water until warm, between 105ºF and 115ºF. Add maple syrup and yeast. Let stand 5 minutes.

Stir in salt, oats, wheat flour and half the bread flour. Beat well. Cover and let rest 15 minutes. Slowly add remaining bread flour. Mix until dough forms. Knead on medium speed until dough is smooth and springy but soft to the touch. Knead in walnuts. Cover and let rise one hour.

Punch dough down and divide into 2 to 3 balls. Shape into round loaves and place on lightly greased baking sheets. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour. Glaze with egg and water mixture and sprinkle with additional oats. Preheat oven to 375
ºF. Bake 35 to 40 minutes until a wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack.

Old-Fashioned Oat and Rye Bread

This bread turned out, "mmm, mmm, good" according to David. Good flavor. Good present, too.

Old-Fashioned Oat and Rye Bread

1 1/2 cups boiling water
3/4 cup rolled oats
2 tsp. yeast
1/4 cup butter
6 Tbsp. packed brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup rye flour
2 1/4 cups bread flour
1/2 cup nonfat dry milk

Pour boiling water into mixing bowl with oats and stir. Let cool until between 105ºF and 115ºF. Add yeast. Let stand 5 minutes.

Stir in butter, sugar, salt and rye bread flour. Beat well. Cover and let rest 15 minutes. Slowly add bread flour. Mix until dough forms. Knead on medium speed until dough is smooth and springy but soft to the touch. Knead in raisins and pecans. Cover and let rise one hour.

Punch dough down and divide into 2 to 3 balls. Shape into round loaves and place on lightly greased baking sheets. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour. Preheat oven to 375
ºF. Bake 35 to 45 minutes until a wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack.

Norwegian Wheat Bread

This bread got positive feedback from David. A couple loaves went out as parts of Christmas presents.

Norwegian Wheat Bread
1 cup water
1 egg
2 tsp. active dry yeast
2 Tbsp. packed brown sugar
2 Tbsp. butter, softened
2 tsp. salt
1/3 cup buttermilk powder
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 1/2 cups bread flour

Combine egg and water, and heat until between 105ºF and 115ºF. Pour water into warmed mixing bowl with and sugar yeast. Let stand 5 minutes.

Stir in butter, salt, buttermilk powder and wheat flour. Beat well. Cover and let rest 15 minutes. Slowly add bread flour. Mix until dough forms. Knead on medium speed until dough is smooth and springy but soft to the touch. Cover and let rise one hour.

Punch dough down and divide into 2 to 3 balls. Shape into round loaves and place on lightly greased baking sheets. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes. Preheat oven to 375
ºF. Bake 30 to 45 minutes until loaves are golden. Cool on wire rack.

November 29, 2008

Homemade Chocolate Pudding

I decided to try this recipe because making things from scratch intrigues me. I discovered this is delicious, warm or cold. My favorite, though, is to serve this warm as a topping on vanilla ice cream.

Homemade Chocolate Pudding
2/3 cup sugar (I used a mix of sugar and Splenda.)
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
3 Tbsp. cornstarch
1/4 tsp. salt
2 1/4 cups cold milk
1 tsp. vanilla

In medium saucepan, combine sugar, cocoa, cornstarch and salt. Gradually stir in milk. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, and stir in the vanilla. Serve warm over ice cream or chill in refrigerator 2 to 3 hours until set. Serves 4 to 6.

Maple-Cinnamon Sticky Buns

I made these for brunch Thanksgiving morning, and they were extremely well received. Nothing like a sticky bun to celebrate a really nice 8-point buck bagged that morning. The barley flour really adds to the richness of the rolls.

Maple-Cinnamon Sticky Buns
1 1/3 cups water
2 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1/2 cup barley flour
1 1/2 cups wheat flour
2 cups bread flour
1/2 cup nonfat dry milk

Syrup:
6 Tbsp. melted butter
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 tsp. cinnamon

Filling:
6 Tbsp. softened butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 tsp. cinnamon

Heat water until warm, between 105ºF and 115ºF. Pour into warmed mixing bowl with yeast. Let stand 5 minutes.

Stir in salt, sugar, butter, barley flour, wheat flour, half the bread flour and dry milk. Beat well. Cover and let rest 15 minutes. Slowly add remaining bread flour. Mix until dough forms. Knead on medium speed until dough is smooth and springy but soft to the touch. Cover and let rise one hour.

Meanwhile, grease 9 x 13 pan. Using syrup ingredients, pour melted butter to coat the bottom of the pan. Drizzle evenly with syrup and then cinnamon. In medium bowl, combine filling ingredients until you have the texture of a spreadable paste.

Punch down down, and roll into a rectangle, approximately 8 inches wide and 20 inches long. Spread filling evenly on top of dough. Starting on the long end, roll the dough, jelly roll style, pinching the edges to seal. Using a sharp knife, cut the dough into 16 equal pieces. Place the pieces into the prepared pan. Sprinkle any leftover filling (or filling that fell out during the rolling process) on top. Cover and let rise until puffy, about 45 minutes. Preheat oven to 375
ºF. Bake 20 to 25 minutes until buns are golden. Invert immediately onto a platter. Serve warm.

Carawy Rye Bread

This was the last of the breads baked as prizes for Caregiver Appreciation Month. The dough didn't rise too much, but I think that was due to baker's error not recipe error. The bread still tasted good, but it was a bit on the dense side.

Caraway Rye Bread
1 1/3 cups water
2 tsp. active dry yeast
3 Tbsp. dark molasses
1 1/2 Tbsp. butter, softened
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. caraway seeds
1 cup rye flour
3 cups bread flour

Heat water until warm, between 105ºF and 115ºF. Pour into warmed mixing bowl with yeast. Let stand 5 minutes.

Stir in molasses, butter, salt, caraway seeds and rye flour. Beat well. Cover and let rest 15 minutes. Slowly add bread flour. Mix until dough forms. Knead on medium speed until dough is smooth and springy but soft to the touch. Cover and let rise one hour.

Punch down dough, and divide into 2 to 3 loaves. Shape into round loaves, and place on lightly greased baking sheets. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 45 to 60 minutes. Preheat oven to 375
ºF. Bake 35 to 40 minutes until a wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack.

Raisin, Cinnamon and Nut Wheat Bread

What better combination than raisins, cinnamon and nuts? This is a good bread with a slightly sweet flavor. It's a good breakfast bread.

Raisin, Cinnamon and Nut Wheat Bread
1 1/3 cups water
2 tsp. active dry yeast
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1/2 cup nonfat dry milk
2 Tbsp. butter
2 cups wheat flour
2 cups bread flour
3/4 cup raisins
3/4 cup chopped walnuts

Heat water until warm, between 105ºF and 115ºF. Pour into warmed mixing bowl with yeast, salt, cinnamon, sugar and dry milk. Let stand 5 minutes.

Stir in butter and wheat flour. Beat well. Cover and let rest 15 minutes. Slowly add bread flour. Mix until dough forms. Knead on medium speed until dough is smooth and springy but soft to the touch. Knead in raisins and walnuts. Cover and let rise one hour.

Punch down dough, and divide into 2-3 loaves. Shape into 2 loaves, and place in greased 8 x 4 loaf pans. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 45 to 60 minutes. Preheat oven to 375
ºF. Bake 30 to 35 minutes until golden. Cool on wire rack.

Golden Raisen and Oatmeal Pecan Breai

This was another bread created for Caregiver Appreciation Month. This bread turned out wonderful. It has excellent flavor and is a nice sweeter bread. One tip is to try to keep as many raisins as possible inside the dough, as they tend to burn if they are exposed during baking.

Golden Raisin and Oatmeal Pecan Bread
1 1/3 cups boiling water
2/3 cup rolled oats
2 tsp. yeast
3 Tbsp. molasses
3 Tbsp. canola oil
1 1/2 tsp. salt
3 1/3 cups bread flour
1 cup golden raisins
1 cup chopped pecans

Pour boiling water into mixing bowl with oats and stir. Let cool until between 105ºF and 115ºF. Add molasses and yeast. Let stand 5 minutes.

Stir in oil, salt and half the bread flour. Beat well. Cover and let rest 15 minutes. Slowly add remaining bread flour. Mix until dough forms. Knead on medium speed until dough is smooth and springy but soft to the touch. Knead in raisins and pecans. Cover and let rise one hour.

Punch dough down and divide into 2 to 3 balls. Shape into round loaves and place on lightly greased baking sheets. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 45 to 60 minutes. Glaze with egg and water mixture. Preheat oven to 375
ºF. Bake 35 to 45 minutes until a wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack.

French Walnut Wheat Bread

This bread has a good chewy crust. It's a great soup bread or buttered bread. The walnuts and wheat flour give it an interesting reddish brown color.

French Walnut Wheat Bread
1 1/3 cups water
2 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast
2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups wheat flour
2 1/2 cups bread flour
1 1/2 Tbsp. gluten
1 1/2 cups finely ground walnuts
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

Heat water until warm, between 105ºF and 115ºF. Pour into warmed mixing bowl with yeast. Let stand 5 minutes.

Stir in salt and wheat flour. Beat well. Cover and let rest 15 minutes. Slowly add the bread flour, gluten and ground
walnuts. Mix until dough forms. Knead on medium speed until dough is smooth and springy but soft to the touch. Knead in chopped walnuts. Cover and let rise one hour.

Punch down dough, and divide into 3 pieces. Shape into round loaves, and place on lightly greased baking sheets. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes. Preheat oven to 375
ºF. Bake 35 to 45 minutes until nicely browned. Cool on wire rack.

Date and Nut Buttermilk Wheat Bread

This is a good bread. The dates provide a bit of sweetness but nothing overwhelming.Date and Nut Buttermilk Wheat Bread
1 1/3 cups buttermilk
2 tsp. active dry yeast
1 1/2 tsp. lemon juice
3 Tbsp. butter, softened
2 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 1/4 cups wheat flour
2 3/4 cups bread flour
1/2 cup chopped dates
1/2 cup toasted chopped walnuts

Heat buttermilk until warm, between 105ºF and 115ºF. Pour into warmed mixing bowl with yeast. Let stand 5 minutes.

Stir in lemon juice, butter, salt, sugar and wheat flour. Beat well. Cover and let rest 15 minutes. Slowly add remaining wheat flour and gluten. Mix until dough forms. Knead on medium speed until dough is smooth and springy but soft to the touch. Knead in dates and walnuts. Cover and let rise one hour.

Punch down dough, and divide into 2 to 3 loaves. Shape into round loaves and place on lightly greased baking sheets. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 60 minutes. Preheat oven to 375
ºF. Glaze loaves with egg and water mixture. Bake 25 to 45 minutes until golden and loaves sound hollow. Cool on wire rack.

Country White Bread

This was another bread created for Caregiver Appreciation Month, as I recognize not everyone enjoys whole grain breads. The barley flour gives this a bit of an interesting flavor, although it still passes the sniff test for picky white bread eaters.

Country White Bread
1 1/3 cups water
2 tsp. active dry yeast
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 cup barley flour
3 1/2 cups bread flour

Heat water until warm, between 105ºF and 115ºF. Pour into warmed mixing bowl with yeast. Let stand 5 minutes.

Stir in salt, sugar, barley flour and half the bread flour. Beat well. Cover and let rest 15 minutes. Slowly add remaining bread flour. Mix until dough forms. Knead on medium speed until dough is smooth and springy but soft to the touch. Cover and let rise one hour.

Punch down dough, and separate into 2 to 3 balls. Shape each into a round loaf, coat all sides with flour and place on lightly greased baking sheet. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes. Slash a 3-inch circle on the top of each loaf. Preheat oven to 375
ºF. Bake 30 to 35 minutes until golden. Cool on wire rack.

Beautiful Ligh Wheat Bread

This was one of three breads I made as prizes for staff during Caregiver Appreciation Month. The mini loaf I kept for Dave and I was good.

Beautiful Light Wheat Bread
1 1/3 cups water
2 tsp. active dry yeast
3 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 Tbsp. butter, softened
2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup wheat flour
3 1/4 cups bread flour
3/4 cup nonfat dry milk

Heat water until warm, between 105ºF and 115ºF. Pour into warmed mixing bowl with yeast and brown sugar. Let stand 5 minutes.

Stir in butter, salt, whole wheat flour, half the bread flour and dry milk. Beat well. Cover and let rest 15 minutes. Slowly add remaining bread flour . Mix until dough forms. Knead on medium speed until dough is smooth and springy but soft to the touch. Cover and let rise one hour.

Punch down dough, and then divide into 2 to 3 loaves. Shape into round loaves and place on lightly greased cooking sheets. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 45 to 60 minutes. Preheat oven to 375
ºF. Bake 25 to 30 minutes until golden. Cool on wire rack.

One Hundred Percent Whole Wheat Bread

I used this recipe as the bread for our Thanksgiving meal. Rather than make loaves of bread, however, I shaped them into knot rolls. My family gave them the seal of approval.

One Hundred Percent Whole Wheat Bread
1 1/3 cups water
2 tsp. active dry yeast
4 Tbsp. honey
2 Tbsp. butter, softened
2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup nonfat dry milk
4 cups whole wheat flour
2 Tbsp. gluten

Heat water until warm, between 105ºF and 115ºF. Pour into warmed mixing bowl with yeast and honey. Let stand 5 minutes.

Stir in butter, salt, dry milk and half the wheat flour. Beat well. Cover and let rest 15 minutes. Slowly add remaining wheat flour and gluten. Mix until dough forms. Knead on medium speed until dough is smooth and springy but soft to the touch. Cover and let rise one hour.

Shape dough into 24 rolls and place in greased muffin tins. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 45 to 60 minutes. Preheat oven to 375
ºF. Bake 20 to 25 minutes until golden. Cool on wire rack.

Toffee Bars

The first time I attempted this recipe for a church bake sale, the bars accidentally got topped with glass shards from a broken glass. The second time, they turned out wonderful. Quick, easy, delicious and completely unhealthy.

Toffee Bars
1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 egg yolk
2 cups flour (I used 1 cup whole wheat flour.)
1/4 tsp. salt
2/3 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350ºF. In large bowl, combine butter, sugar, vanilla and egg yolk. Stir in flour and salt. Press dough into ungreased 9 x 13 pan. Bake 25 to 30 minutes until light brown (crust will still be soft). Immediately top with chocolate chips. Let stand 5 minutes or until melted. Spread chocolate evenly on crust. Cut into bars while still warm.

Strawberry-Vanilla Yogurt Pancake-

These were good, but not that spectacular. The best part was the homemade strawberry syrup I made to top the pancakes.
Strawberry-Vanilla Yogurt Pancakes
1 1/2 cups flour
3 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3 eggs
6 oz. vanilla yogurt
3/4 cup water
3 Tbsp. butter, melted
fresh sliced strawberries

Heat griddle to medium-high heat. Spray with non-stick cooking spray.

In large bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside. In medium bowl, combine eggs, yogurt and water. Beat in butter. Pour this mixture into flour, and stir until just moistened.

Pour 1/4 cup pancake batter onto griddle for each pancake. Cook until bubbly on top and dry around the edges. Flip, and cook until golden brown. Serve warm with sliced strawberries and warm syrup. Serves 7.

Baked Brie with Cheddar, Port & Walnuts

This is another recipe from the evening of wine and cheese. This is one my favorite ways to enjoy Brie.

Baked Brie with Cheddar, Port and Walnuts
8 oz. Brie wheel
1/2 cup finely shredded cheddar cheese
2 Tbsp. port wine
2 oz. chopped toasted walnuts
1 Tbsp. honey

Preheat oven to 500ºF. Cut Brie in half horizontally. Mix cheddar and port. Spread over bottom half of Brie. Cover with top half. Place on baking sheet. Mix walnuts and honey. Spread on top of Brie. Bake about 5 minutes or until Brie is warm to the touch. Serves 10.

Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms

This recipe came from an evening of wine and cheese at Wine Premiere. I prefer stuffed mushrooms warm, although they can be served room temperature as well.

Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms
12 oz. sausage
18 fresh mushrooms
16 oz. cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup bread crumbs
1 cup merlot

Cook sausage over medium heat. Drain and set aside. Preheat oven to 325ºF. Clean mushrooms. Chop and reserve stems.

Gently mix stems, cream cheese and bread crumbs. Stir in sausage and 1/4 cup red wine. Stuff the mushroom caps with this mixture. Put in large baking dish, and cover with remaining red wine. Bake 25 to 30 minutes until lightly browned.

Sausage Oven Pancake Square

This wasn't part of the office brunch, but it was a recipe I tried with my family. They really seemed to enjoy it. To me, it tastes like a breakfast sandwich with all the flavors combined together in one dish.
Sausage Oven Pancake Square
12 oz. pork sausage
1 cup shredded cheese
1 egg
1/4 cup milk
2 Tbsp. maple syrup
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. salt
3/4 cup maple syrup

Heat oven to 350ºF. Cook sausage 5 to 7 minutes, until no longer pink. Drain on paper towels. Spread sausage into 9-inch squar pan. Sprinkle with cheese.

In large bowl, beat egg, milk and 2 Tbsp. syrup with the oil until well blended. Beat in flour, baking soda and salt. Pour batter evenly over sausage and cheese.

Bake uncovered 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown. Drizzle with remaining syrup. Serves 6.

Stuffed Pepper Stoup

This recipe was given to me at a soup swap. It is thick, hearty and delicious. It's not a stew, but it's too thick to just be called a soup.

Stuffed Pepper Stoup
1 1/2 lbs. ground meat
salt and pepper
1/2 tsp. allspice
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 large onion, diced
3 green peppers, seeded and diced
1 bay leaf
1 quart chicken stock
1 (28-oz.) can crushed tomatoes
1 cup orzo pasta
2 tsp. basil

Brown meat and season with salt, pepper and allspice. Add garlic, onion, peppers and bay leaf. Cook 7 to 8 minutes until tender. Stir in stock and tomatoes and bring a boil. When bubbling, add orzo and cook an addition 7 to 8 minutes. Turn off heat and stir in basil. Discard bay leaf. Serve topped with cheese if desired.

French Toast Casserole

This was the sweet breakfast treat we prepared. This was a huge hit and takes French toast to a whole new level.

French Toast Casserole
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 Tbsp. corn syrup
1 pound cinnamon bread, sliced 1-inch thick
8 eggs, lightly beaten
3 cups half-and-half or light cream
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt

In saucepan, combine brown sugar, butter and corn syrup. Cook and stir over medium heat until it comes to a boil. Boil for one minute. Pour into greased 9 x 13 pan.

Arrange bread slices on top of sugar mixture. In large bowl, whisk together eggs, half-and-half, vanilla and salt. Pour over bread slices. Cover and chill 4 to 24 hours.

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Let baking dish stand at room temperature while oven preheats. Bake 40 to 45 minutes, until puffed and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Let stand 15 minutes before serving. Serves 8.

Hash Brown Casserole

My co-worker and I did brunch for the office. She found the recipes, and we put them together before we left work. Then I threw them in the oven when I came in the next morning. This was our savory dish.

Hash Brown Casserole
1 (10.75 oz.) can cream of chicken soup
8 oz. sour cream
15 oz. shredded hash brown potatoes
1 cup diced cooked ham
1 cup shredded cheese
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/8 tsp. pepper
1 cup cornflakes
3 Tbsp. melted butter

Preheat oven to 350ºF. In large bowl, combine soup and sour cream. Stir in hashbrowns, ham, cheese, onion and pepper. Spread into greased 9 x 13 pan. In small bowl, combine butter and corn flakes. Sprinkle over potatoes. Bake 50 to 55 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Serves 6 to 8.

Chocolate Silk Pie

This is a quick and easy dessert that uses fairly common ingredients. Rather than making a graham cracker pie crust, I used a pre-made chocolate Oreo pie crust. It turned out really well.

Chocolate Silk Pie
1 package (4-serving) instant chocolate pudding
1 package (4-serving) instant vanilla pudding
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup cold milk
2 cups vanilla ice cream, softened
graham cracker pie crust

Beat all ingredients together until smooth. Pour into pie crust. Cover and freeze at least 2 hours. Serves 8.

November 23, 2008

Pumpkin Spice Cookies

These soft cookies are fantastically easy and taste awesome with cream cheese frosting.

Pumpkin Spice Cookies
1 box spice cake mix (or 1 box white cake mix with 2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice)
1 can pumpkin

Sift cake mix. Combine with pumpkin. Drop large teaspoons onto cookie sheet and spread out with back of spoon to form circles. Bake at 350ºF approximately 10-15 minutes until cookies feel set when you touch them. Cool. Frost with cream cheese frosting. Makes about 24 cookies.

Pumpkin Poundcake

This recipe was given to me by my mother-in-law. My husband brought me home a piece of cake, told me it was pumpkin poundcake and I presumed it was store bought. Turns out it was homemade. And delicious, especially topped with cool whip. Down the road I'll probably try to make this a bit healthier.

Pumpkin Poundcake
3 cups sugar
1 cup oil
1 15 oz. can pumpkin
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
3 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda

Combine wet ingredients (through pumpkin) and mix well. In separate bowl, combine remaining ingredients. Mix wet ingredients into dry ingredients until just blended. Pour into large sprayed Bundt pan. Bake 1 hour and 15 minutes or until done at 350ºF.

Pear and Cherry Buckle

This is a fantastic dessert. It's extremely easy with the slow cooker. You can top it with whipped topping or vanilla ice cream.

Pear and Cherry Buckle
1 can pie filling
2 cans diced pears in syrup
1 tsp. almond extract
1 box yellow cake mix
1 stick butter, cut into pieces
1 package maple and brown sugar instant oatmeal
1/4 cup sliced almonds
whipped topping or ice cream for topping

Spray slow cooker with butter-flavored spray and set aside. In a large bowl, combine pie filling, pears and almond extract. Pour into prepared slow cooker. Sprinkle cake mix over fruit mixture. Dot with butter. In a small bowl, combine oatmeal packet and almonds. Sprinkle over cake mixture.

Place 8 paper towels over slow cooker bowl and secure with lid. (This helps trap steam.) Cook on low for 4 to 6 hours. Do not lift lid to check cake for the first 3 hours. Serve warm.

All-Day Macaroni Cheese Ingredients

This was an obvious pick for my weekend with my younger cousins. Really easy to make and tastes great. The recipe says it serves 4, but so far it's lasted through 7 servings and will probably make it through 9 or 10.

All-Day Macaroni and Cheese
8 oz. macaroni, cooked and drained
16 oz. shredded Cheddar
12 oz. evaporated milk
1 1/2 cups milk
2 eggs
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper

Place the cooked macaroni in a slow cooker coated with cooking spray. Add remaining ingredients, except 1 cup of shredded cheese. Mix well. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Cover, and cook on low 5 to 6 hours. Do not remove the cover until the mixture has finished cooking.

November 17, 2008

Tuna Salad

This recipe came to me from my friend Amber, one of her family recipes. Although I never traditionally ate tuna salad, this is a great recipe.

Tuna Salad
1 box noodles
3 cans tuna
2 cups miracle whip
2 Tbsp. dill
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 cup frozen peas
salt
pepper
hard boiled eggs

Cook noodles and drain according to package directions. Combine with all other ingredients, except eggs. Garnish with sliced eggs prior to serving.

Buffalo Chicken Dip

This is a good party recipe that tastes like buffalo wings, although it looks a bit less appetizing. Serve with celery sticks, crackers, chips or whatever else you desire.

Buffalo Chicken Dip
8 oz. cream cheese
1/2 cup blue cheese salad dressing
1/2 cup buffalo wing sauce
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese or shredded mozzarella
2 cans (9.75 oz. each) premium chunk chicken breast in water, drained

Combine all ingredients in crock pot. Heat on high until melted and warm. Serve warm.

November 13, 2008

Whole Wheat Pizza Crust

I've been using this pizza crust recipe for two years now, and it turns out well each time. I decided to substitute wheat flour for a portion of the white flour, and I was pleased with the results. It makes the crust a bit heartier.
Whole Wheat Pizza Crust
1 package (2 tsp.) active dry yeast
3/4 cup lukewarm water
1 cup white flour
1 cup wheat flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. sugar
dash olive oil

Dissolve yeast in water, and set aside for 5 minutes. Combine flour, salt, sugar and oil in a bowl. Make a well in the center, and add yeast and water. Start kneading dough, bringing flour toward center of bowl, gradually increasing kneading motion.

If dough is dry, add a bit more water. If dough is sticky, add more flour. Knead until dough is smooth and elastic. Roll into a ball, and cover with a damp cloth. Let rise 20 minutes in warm place. Punch down dough and shape to fit pizza pan. Bake in hot oven, around 475ºF, about 15 minutes until golden brown.

Savory Brie-En-Croute

Fancy name, but simple to prepare. My friend Shelly enjoys savory baked Brie, so we prepared this recipe for her birthday dinner.

Savory Brie-En-Croute
4 sheets phyllo dough (or 21 sheet puff pastry)
1/3 cup toasted walnuts, finely chopped
1 1/2 Tbsp. melted butter
1/2 tsp. dried rosemary, crushed
dash of cayenne pepper
1 round (8 oz.) Brie cheese

Preheat oven to 450ºF. In small bowl, combine walnuts, melted butter, rosemary and cayenne. Lay one sheet phyllo dough on baking sheet. Spray with butter-flavored spray and top with second sheet phyllo dough. Repeat until all four sheets are laying together on baking sheet. Spread walnut mixture into center of phyllo dough in 5-inch circle. Top with Brie. Wrap phyllo dough around Brie, using butter-flavored spray to seal edges. Invert Brie on baking sheet. Bake 15-20 minutes or until pastry is browned. Serve warm with hearty bread.

Pumpkin Muffins

These earned a ranking as good from my husband, although he was surprised they didn't pack more pumpkin flavor. Good quick breakfast in the morning.Pumpkin Muffins
2 1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
6 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp. salt
16 oz. canned pumpkin
1 cup skim milk
1/4 cup oil
1/4 cup applesauce
4 egg whites

Preheat oven to 400ºF. Line 24 muffin tins. In large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice and salt. Mix well. In small bowl, combine pumpkin, milk, oil, egg whites and applesauce. Blend well. Add this mixture to dry ingredients and stir only until dry ingredients are moistened. Spoon batter evenly into muffin tins. Bake 15-20 minutes.

November 9, 2008

Strawberry Cheesecake

These individual-serving cheesecakes taste fantastic. The strawberry flavor makes the recipe, in my humble opinion. One guy even described them as an "explosion of flavor" in his mouth, much to the laughter of everyone else.

Mini Strawberry Cheesecakes
1/3 cup sugar
8 oz. softened cream cheese
1 large egg
4 oz. strawberry yogurt
8 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, melted (I think I actually used a bit less)

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line 12 muffin tins. Beat cream cheese and suger together. Beat in egg. Slowly add yogurt and melted chocolate. Bake 25 minutes or until set. Cool on rack and refrigerate overnight. Serves 12.

Artichoke Dip

This recipe came from Jennine. She prepared this recipe for our housewarming party and then left us the dish and the recipe as our housewarming present. I like the gift idea almost as much as I liked the dip, which was a lot!

Artichoke Dip
1 can artichoke hearts, diced and drained
1 package softened cream cheese
5 oz. shredded Parmesan cheese
3 oz. shredded mozzarella
6 oz. sour cream
1/3 cup plain yogurt
1 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
2 Tbsp. chopped jalapenos

Combine all ingredients together. Bake at 350ºF uncovered for 30 to 45 minutes, or until melted through. Serve with fresh crusty Italian bread.

Pan-Fried Venison Steak

My family used to make venison like this when I was a child. I haven't had it in years, and it's sooo good.

Pan-Fried Venison Steak
1 lb. venison, cut into 1/4-inch thin slices
2 cups crushed saltines
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
5 Tbsp. vegetable oil

In shallow bowl, whisk egg and milk together with salt and pepper. Coat venison with saltines, dip in egg mixture and coat again with saltines. Heat oil over medium in large skillet. Cook venison in oil 2-3 minutes on each side until meat is cooked. Serves 4.

Barley Mushroom Risotto

This is a fantastic dish, albeit it takes about an hour to prepare and requires your attention for most of that hour. The barley gives it a wonderful chewy texture, and the garlic permeates the dish.

Barley Mushroom Risotto
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 tsp. butter
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 cup pearl barley
1/4 tsp. thyme
1/2 bay leaf
1 1/2 tsp. olive oil
1/2 lb. mushrooms, sliced
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 Tbsp. parsley

Bring chicken broth to boil in saucepan. Meanwhile, melt butter in large skillet. Add onion and saute 5 minutes. Add barley, thyme, bay leaf and 3/2 cup broth. Bring to a boil, and reduce heat to low. Simmer until most of the broth is absorbed. Add remaining broth, about 1/3 cup at a time, stirring and allowing it to absorb before adding more broth.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in separate skillet. Saute mushrooms until tender. Add garlic, and cook 3 more minutes. Stir in the barley mixture and parsley. Remove bay leave and serve. Serves 3-4.

November 7, 2008

Spiced Nuts

My idea of spiced nuts is typically sugar, spice and all that's nice. However, I was looking for a lower carb treat for my uncle, so I went the spicier route. None of these are overly hot, although you could adjust the recipes for more heat if you want.

Spicy Pecans
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
4 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. coriander
1 tsp. chili powder
1/8 tsp. cayenne or more to taste
4 cups pecans
2 tsp. sea salt

Preheat oven to 300ºF. In small bowl, whisk oil, Worcestershire sauce, cumin, coriander, chili powder and cayenne. Add pecans and toss evenly to coat. Sprinkle with salt. Spread onto foil-lined cookie sheet, and bake until nuts are dry, about 20 minutes. Stirring often. Cool completely, and store in air-tight container.

Hot Pecans
3 cups pecan halves or pieces
2 Tbsp. butter, melted
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. thyme
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350
ºF. Toss all ingredients in a bowl until well coated. Spread onto foil-lined cookie sheet, and bake until nuts are dry, about 15 minutes. Stirring often. Cool completely, and store in air-tight container.

Spicy Pecans (My favorite version!)
2 Tbsp. butter, melted
2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. cumin
2 cups pecan halves or pieces

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Toss all ingredients in a bowl until well coated. Spread onto foil-lined cookie sheet, and bake until nuts are dry, about 10 minutes. Stirring often. Cool completely, and store in air-tight container.

Garlic Stuffed Steaks

This was a good recipe. You really taste the blue cheese on the steaks, but then you have the mildly sweet garlic flavor, too.

Garlic Stuffed Steaks
4 ribeye steaks
6 garlic cloves, peeled and cut into lengthwise quarters
garlic salt, garlic pepper and cayenne pepper to taste
1/3 to 1/2 cup blue cheese
2 Tbsp. butter

Season steaks with salt and peppers for at least 4 hours. With sharp knife, make horizontal slits into the sides of each steak. Stuff holes with garlic slivers.

Grill steaks 5 to 7 minutes per side. Meanwhile, combine room temperature blue cheese and butter. Top steaks with this mixture and grill a few more minutes. Serve immediately. Serves 4.

Pumpkin Pancakes

These were delicious. No need for syrup or anything. The original recipe calls for 1/4 cup dried cranberries, but they still taste great without them. Also, we substituted walnut oil in the pancakes rather than vegetable or canola oil.

Pumpkin Pancakes
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1 cup milk
1 egg
1/3 cup pumpkin
1 Tbsp. oil
1/4 cup walnuts

In large bowl, whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt. In small bowl, whisk milk and egg. Whisk in pumpkin and oil. Combine wet and dry ingredients until mixed. Let stand 5 minutes while skillet heats. Spray skillet with non-stick spray. Add walnuts and cranberries to pancake mix. Drop by 1/4 cup amounts onto hot skillet and cook. Flip and cook other side. Serves 4.

October 31, 2008

Pear Dumplings

Although the name sounds a bit odd, this is a delicious dessert. It is sweet, but not overwhelmingly. Excellent way to incorporate fruit into your dessert menu.


Pear Dumplings
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup butter
1 package cream cheese
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 large egg white, beaten
3 medium pears

In food processor with knife blade attached, process flour, butter and cream cheese until mixture forms ball. Remove pastry dough from processor, and flatten into small disk. Refrigerate 30 minutes.

Line cookie sheet with foil. Peel pears, leaving stem intact; cut each pear lengthwise in half and remove core. Set pear halves aside.

On floured surface, with floured rolling pin, roll half of pastry dough 1/8-inch thick. Using 7-inch round plate as a guide, cut 3 rounds from pastry. Remove trimmings.

In cup, combine sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle pastry rounds with half of sugar mixture. Place 1 pear half, core side up, on each pastry. Fold pastry over pears, and pinch edges to seal. Place pastry-wrapped pears, seam side down, on prepared cookie sheet. Repeat with remaining pastry, sugar mixture and pear halves to make six dumplings.

Preheat oven to 375ºF. Re-roll pastry trimmings, and cut to make leaves. Brush pastry-wrapped pears with egg white, and decorate pastry leaves and brush with egg white. Sprinkle dumplings with granulated sugar. In oven, place 2 sheets of foil under cookie sheet, and crimp edges to form rim to catch any overflow during baking. (There will be some leakage.) Bake 40 to 45 minutes, until pastry is golden. With spatula, immediately transfer dumplings to wire rack. Cool slightly, but serve warm.

Sweet Corn

This is my family's recipe to freeze sweet corn. This recipe provides delicious corn all year.

Sweet Corn
16 cups raw corn
3 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. sugar
3 cups water
1 stick butter

Bring all ingredients to a boil, and boil 5 minutes. Cool corn enough to transfer to freezer bags and freeze.

October 11, 2008

Cinnamon-Walnut Twists

These are delicious but were a disaster to make. The filling didn't stay inside the twists, which made a smokey mess in the kitchen and plenty of stickiness to clean. I plan to use this recipe again because the flavors are wonderful, but I will bake either as a bread or something along those lines.Cinnamon-Walnut Twists
2 tsp. rapid-rising or active dry yeast
3 eggs plus milk (scalded and cooled) equal to 1 1/3 cups
9 Tbsp. butter, softened
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1 tsp. cardamom
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup barley flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
3 cups bread flour

Filling and Topping
2 cups sugar
2 Tbsp. cinnamon
1 cup ground walnuts
8 Tbsp. butter, softened

Warm eggs under hot tap water, and crack into measuring cup. Heat the cooled milk until warm, between 105ºF and 115ºF, and add to the eggs. Pour into warmed mixing bowl, and add yeast. Let stand 5 minutes. Add butter, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, sugar, barley flour and wheat flour. Beat well. Cover, and let stand 15 minutes.

Slowly add bread flour, and beat until a smooth dough forms. Knead on medium until smooth and springy but soft to the touch. Remove dough hook, cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

Lightly grease baking sheets. To create filling and topping, mix cinnamon and sugar. Remove half this mixture and stir in walnuts. Set the other half aside for later use. Melt half the butter in shallow dish. Punch down dough on lightly greased surface. Roll into a 20-inch square. Spread with softened (not melted) butter and sprinkle evenly with the walnut mixture. Carefully fold dough in half, pressing to seal the edges. With a pizza wheel, cut dough from fold to seal into 18 equal strips. Dip each strip in melted butter and then reserved cinnamon/sugar mixture. Twist each strip into a corkscrew and place on baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until almost doubled, about 40 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375
ºF. Bake twists for 25 minutes, until golden. Cool on wire racks.

October 9, 2008

Moussaka

It sounds a lot like Mufasa from the Lion King when I try to pronounce this dish, but I guess that's just what happens when I try Middle Eastern dishes. This was a creation to use remaining eggplant, and it turned out fairly well. It doesn't have quite as much flavor as I anticipated, but I enjoyed the topping.

Moussaka
2 medium eggplants
3 Tbsp. butter
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 medium cloves garlic, crushed
1 pound lamb or beef
2 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded and finely chopped
2 Tbsp. parsley
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup flour
1/3 cup olive oil or as needed
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup unflavored yogurt
1/3 cup Romano or Parmesan cheese

Remove stems and hulls from eggplants. Peel if desired. Cut crosswise into 1/2-inch slices.

Meanwhile, heat butter, and saute onions and garlic until soft but not browned, stirring frequently. Add the meat and cook until lightly browned. Stir in tomatoes, parsley, oregano, cinnamon and salt and pepper. Cook, uncovered, about 10 minutes or until most of the liquid evaporates. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Remove from heat and set aside.

Coat eggplant lightly with flour. In large, heavy skillet heat oil over moderate heat. Add eggplant slices adn fry until lightly browned on both sides, adding more oil as necessary.

Arrange half eggplant slices in bottom of shallow baking dish. Spread meat mixture on top of them. Top with remaining eggplant slices. Mix together beaten eggs and yogurt and pour on top. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake, uncovered, at 375ºF 35 to 40 minutes until topping is set and golden. Serves 6.

September 25, 2008

Carrot-Sunflower Wheat Bread

Although this sounds like a unique combination, it's a relatively normal tasting bread with great texture. You pick up the sunflower seeds more than the carrot. This would be good with cream cheese.Carrot-Sunflower Wheat Bread
2 tsp. active dry yeast
1 1/3 cups water
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. honey
2 Tbsp. nonfat dry milk
2 Tbsp. wheat germ
1/2 cup bran flakes
1/2 cup shredded fresh carrot
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup whole wheat flour
3 cups bread flour
1 egg, beaten
roasted and salted sunflower seeds

Heat water until warm, between 105ºF and 115ºF. Pour into warmed bowl, and add yeast. Let stand 5 minutes. Add remaining ingredients, except bread flour. Mix well, cover and let stand 15 minutes.

Slowly add bread flour, beating until a smooth dough forms. Knead dough until it pulls away from sides of bowl and is smooth and springy. (Add more flour if necessary.) Remove the dough hook, cover bowl and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

Lightly grease baking sheet. Punch down dough and shape into loaf. Place smooth side up on baking sheet. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 60 minutes. Preheat oven to 350
ºF. Brush loaf with egg and sprinkle with sunflower seeds. Bake about 35 minutes until golden. Remove from pan and cool on wire rack.

Walnut Wheat Bread

This is another delicious bread. I'm a big fan of nuts in bread, and this is a rich bread.

Walnut Wheat Bread
2 tsp. active dry yeast
3 large eggs plus water equal to 1 1/3 cups
1/2 cup butter, softened (see why I say rich?)
2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. sugar
1/3 cup nonfat dry milk
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 1/2 cups bread flour
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

Warm the eggs under hot tap water, and crack into measuring cup. Heat the water until warm, between 105ºF and 115ºF, and add to eggs. Pour into warmed mixing bowl, and add yeast. Let stand 5 minutes.

Add butter, salt, sugar, dry milk, wheat flour and half the bread flour. Beat well. Cover and let stand 15 minutes. Slowly add the remaining bread flour, and beat until a dough forms. Knead until dough is soft and springy but smooth to the touch, adding more flour if needed. Knead in walnuts. Remove the dough hook, cover the bowl and let dough rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

Lightly grease 8-inch round cake pan. Turn dough onto lightly floured surface, punch down and shape into round loaf. Place the loaf, smooth side up, into the pan. Cover and let rise in a warm area until doubled, 45 to 60 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350
ºF. Brush the loaf with water. Bake 30 to 35 minutes, until a wooden skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean and ry. Remove from pan and cool on wire rack.

September 14, 2008

Chocolate Fountain

This didn't require fancy cooking, baking or even much preparation, but a chocolate fountain is too much fun not to post.




Traditional Tiramisu

This is the final recipe gleaned from pastry day. This is an excellent dessert that freezes well. Since I'm not a coffee aficionado, I would consider using a chocolate liquor.

Traditional Tiramisu
1 1/2 tsp. unflavored geletin powder (can double to reduce setting time)
1 1/4 cups sweet Marsala wine
6 egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups heavy cream
1 lb. Mascarpone cheese (at room temperature)
*cream cheese can be substituted*
2-3 oz. package ladyfingers
3 cups expresso
cocoa for dusting

Sprinkle gelatin powder on top of 1/4 cup Marsala wine and set aside. Whip the cream to stiff peaks and set aside.

Combine egg yolks, sugar and remaining wine in mixer bowl. Set over double boiler and whisk constantly by hand until it is thick enough to coat a spoon. Remove from heat and whip at medium until cool to the touch. Chill in refrigerator.

Gradually stir cheese into egg mixture. Fold this mixture into whipped cream one third at a time. Heat the gelatin mixture to dissolve, and quickly stir into a small portion of the cream mixture. Add this to the remaining cream mixture.

Lay half the ladyfingers on bottom of greased 9-inch pan. Brush liberally with coffee. Spread half cream filling on top and sprinkle with cocoa powder. Repeat layers. Chill at least two hours or overnight to set.

Baked Alaska

This is a healthier version of Baked Alaska. It's a great summer dessert. Also, once the dessert has been "baked," it can be frozen and served later.

Baked Alaska
1 pint orange sherbet
3 egg whites
8 oz. can sliced pineapple, drained on toweling
6 Tbsp. white sugar
1/4 tsp. cream of tarter

Scoop sherbet into six balls and place them on a plate. Freeze until very firm, at least four hours. Preheat the oven to 450ºF. In a clean glass or metal bowl, whip egg whites until foamy. Mix in cream of tarter and gradually beat in sugar until stiff and glossy.

Place pineapple rings on baking sheet, and top with sherbet balls. Spread meringue on top and sides. Bake 5 minutes until browned. Remove and serve immediately.

Blue Cheese and Pear Tarts

These are excellent appetizers, simple and elegant.
Blue Cheese and Pear Tarts
4 oz. blue cheese, crumbled
1 ripe pear, peeled, cored and chopped
2 Tbsp. light cream
black pepper to taste
1 package mini phyllo tart shells

Prebake phyllo shells according to package directions. Set aside to cool. Mix together blue cheese, pear and cream. Season to taste with pepper. Spoon mixture into cooled shells. Bake at 350ºF for 15 minutes. Serve warm.

Lemon Tart with Almond Crust

This is the same lemon tart filling I used for my concoction the other day, but the almond crust recipe deserves to be posted as well.

Almond Crust
1 cup flour
1/3 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup sugar
6 Tbsp. butter, cut into small cubes
1/2 tsp. almond extract
3-5 Tbsp. ice water

Process first four ingredients in food processor until they resemble coarse sand. Dump in all the butter and almond extract. Pulse until butter is the size of peas. Add ice water and pulse just enough to incorporate the water. The dough should hold together when pinched but not be sticky.

Shape dough into disk, and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill at least 30 minutes prior to rolling out. Preheat oven to 425ºF with rack in lower third. Spray 9-inch tart pan with removable sides. Roll dough on lightly floured surface and place it into tart pan. Freeze until firm, and then bake 20-25 minutes until golden brown. (Use tin foil and baking beans to help it hold its shape.) Reduce oven heat to 325ºF.

Make lemon tart filling:

Lemon Tart Filling
3 eggs
3 egg yokes
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup lemon juice (fresh, if possible)
2 Tbsp. lemon yest
6 Tbsp. butter

Whisk all ingredients except butter together in large saucepan. Add butter and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly. Cook until filling thickens slightly.

Pour filling into crust and bake until set, about 10 minutes. Cool before removing sides and transfer to a serving platter. Cool completely before cutting. Tart can be frozen.

Fruit Tart

Another creation from pastry day, but I can't find the pictures we took. Take my word, this looks pretty and tastes just as nice as it looks. It has a great orange flavor in the filling.
Fruit Tart
1 sheet frozen puff pastry
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. orange juice
2 tsp. orange zest
2 cups strawberries, halved
2 oranges, peeled, cut in half and sliced
2 kiwis, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup apricot jam

Thaw pastry at room temperature 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 400ºF. Unfold pastry on lightly floured surface and roll into 14 by 10 rectangle and place on baking sheet. Brush edges of rectangle with water. Fold over 1/2 inch on all sides and press firmly to form rim. Prick pastry thoroughly with fork. Bake 15 minutes or until golden. Cool.

Mix cream cheese, sugar, orange juice and orange zest. Spread on pastry. Top with strawberries, oranges and kiwi. Brush jam over fruit. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate up to 4 hours. Serves 12.

Chocolate Ganache

Another staple recipe gained during pastry day.

Chocolate Ganache
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
2 cups heavy cream
2 tsp. vanilla

Bring cream to boil in saucepan. As soon as it boils rapidly, remove it from heat and pour over chocolate chips. Let stand for 1-2 minutes, and then whisk until smooth. Stir in vanilla until well blended. Cover with plastic wrap and let cool at room temperature or refrigerator.

September 13, 2008

Pate a Choux

That is the fancy way of saying cream puff apparently. This basic dough recipe can be used for a variety of pastries, particularly cream puffs. It freezes well once it is baked.

Pate a Choux
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup water
1 cup flour
pinch salt
4 eggs

Preheat oven to 450ºF. In saucepan, combine shortening and water and bring to a boil. Sift together flour and salt and pour all at once into boiling mixture. Stir vigorously until mixture forms a ball. Remove from heat, and add eggs, one at a time, stirring vigorously after each one.

Drop by spoonfuls onto baking sheets or pipe in desired shape. Bake 10 minutes and then reduce oven to 400
ºF. Bake 25 minutes more until golden. Cool completely and split in half. Fill with desired concotion.

The puffs can be frozen after they are baked, prior to being filled.

Old-Fashioned Pastry Cream

This came from a day of pastry adventures. This cream tastes good and is versatile.

Old-Fashioned Pastry Cream
1/2 cup sugar
5 Tbsp. flour
pinch of salt
2 cups milk
2 egg yolks, beaten
1 tsp. vanilla

In saucepan, combine sugar, flour and salt. Stir in milk, a little at a time, until smooth. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Boil 60 seconds, and then pour a small amount of hot liquid into the egg yolks and stir. (This is called tempering the eggs and prevents them from instantly cooking.) Return the egg yolks to the saucepan and stir, over heat, until the mixture starts to bubble again. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Cover and chill.

Lemon Tartlets

I had extra egg yolks in the refrigerator, so I decided to make this lemon filling. I had made this previously to go into an almond crust tart, which was fantastic. The lemon filling is tart, yet sweet, and absolutely perfect with the lemon zest. This time, I put the filling on top of lemon sandwich cookies.

Lemon Tartlets
3 eggs
3 egg yokes
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup lemon juice (fresh, if possible)
2 Tbsp. lemon yest
6 Tbsp. butter
lemon sandwich cookies

Whisk all ingredients except butter together in large saucepan. Add butter and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly. Cook until filling thickens slightly.

Preheat oven to 325ºF. Line muffin tins, and place a sandwich cookie into each tin. Pour filling into tins, filling to the top. (They settle when they bake.) Bake 8-10 minutes, until filling is set. Remove from muffin tin pan and cool on a wire rack. Refrigerate or freeze to store.

Beef Barley Bake

This is a fantastic recipe, a nice hearty meal. It takes a bit of time to prepare but minimal effort.Beef Barley Bake
2 lbs. sirloin, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 cup chopped onion
8-16 oz. fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
3 1/2 cups beef broth
1/4 cup lemon juice
3/4 cup pearl barley
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley

Brown meat and onion in large skillet. Add mushrooms and cook 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in salt and pepper. Pour into 3-quart casserole dish.

In skillet, boil broth and lemon juice. Stir in barley and parsley. Pour this mixture evenly over meat. Cover and bake at 350ºF for one hour. Stir, adding more broth or water if necessary. Cover and bake an additional 20 minutes.

September 10, 2008

Zucchini Muffins

I am always willing to take whatever produce is offered to me, even if it's not something I normally eat. When I had the opportunity to get a zucchini, I decided to try a new recipe. The results were OK, but I would classify this as not bad but fantastic. It's probably not going to be a repeat offender in my recipe box.

Zucchini Muffins
1 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cocoa
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. salt
1 cup shredded, unpeeled zucchini
1 cup nonfat buttermilk
4 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 large egg whites, lightly beaten
1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 400ºF. Lightly grease 12 muffin tins or line with muffin papers. In large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.

In separate bowl, combine zucchini, buttermilk, oil, egg whites and vanilla. Stir this mixture into dry ingredients until just blended, about 25 strokes.

Spoon batter into muffin tins. Bake 20-25 minutes until a toothpick inserted into center of muffin comes out clean. Cool one minute and then remove from tins and transfer to wire racks to cool completely or serve immediately warm. Store leftover muffins in the refrigerator or freeze to maintain freshness.

September 8, 2008

10-Grain Cereal Bread

This is a heartier bread, with a slightly chewy texture. Good for soups or just to accompany a bread-and-butter meal.10-Grain Cereal Bread
2 tsp. active dry yeast
1 1/3 cups boiling water
3/4 cup 10-grain cereal
2 Tbsp. butter
3 Tbsp. maple syrup
1 1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
2 1/2 cups bread flour

Pour boiling water into mixing bowl, add cereal and stir. Let stand 30 minutes, until the mixture cools to between 105ºF and 115ºF. Add yeast, and let stand 5 minutes.

Add butter, syrup, salt and whole wheat flour. Beat until smooth. Cover and let stand 15 minutes. Slowly add the bread flour until a smooth dough forms. Knead on medium until soft and springy to the touch. Cover and let stand 1 hour.

On lightly floured surface, punch down dough. Shape into round loaves and place smooth side up on lightly greased baking sheets. Cover and let rise until doubled, 45 to 60 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375
ºF. Bake 25 to 30 minutes until loaves are golden. Remove from baking sheets and cool on wire racks.

Italian Herb Bread

This bread is delicious with Italian dishes. I tried something new with it and made much of my dough into individual rolls (baked in muffin tins). The rolls are great to freeze and then pull out individual servings for meals.Italian Herb Bread
2 tsp. rapid-rising dry yeast
1 1/3 cups water
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. Italian herbs
1 1/2 Tbsp. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. 7-grain cereal
1/3 cup prepared pesto sauce
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
3 1/2 cups bread flour

Heat the water until warm, between 105ºF and 115ºF. Pour into warmed mixing bowl with yeast, herbs, sugar, salt and cereal. Let stand 5 minutes. Then beat in oil, pesto and wheat flour until smooth. Let stand 15 minutes. Slowly add bread flour, beating until a soft dough forms. Knead on medium until dough pulls away from sides but is soft and springy to the touch. Cover and let rise 1 hour.

Punch down the dough and shape into a baguette or individual rolls. Place on lightly greased baking sheet. Cover and let rise until doubled, 45 to 60 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375
ºF. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until loaf is golden. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.

August 19, 2008

Sausage Oven Pancake Square

This has a weird name, but it tastes really good. It's simple to make and is like a breakfast sandwich with all the flavors of pancakes, sausage and maple syrup in one bite.

Sausage Oven Pancake Square
12 oz. bulk pork sausage
1 cup shredded cheese
1 egg
1/4 cup milk
2 Tbsp. maple syrup
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. salt
3/4 cup maple syrup

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Brown sausage over medium heat until no longer pink. Drain on paper towels. In ungreased 9-inch pan, spread sausage and sprinkle with cheese.

In large bowl, beat egg, milk, 2 Tbsp. maple syrup and oil until well blended. Beat in flour, baking powder and salt. Pour batter evenly into pan.

Bake uncovered 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown. Serve topped with remaining maple syrup. Serves 6.

June 21, 2008

Leinie's Family Reunion Chili Cookoff

These aren't my "traditional" recipes, but they must be posted because they involve family and Leinenkugel's beer. These chili recipes were part of the Leinie's cooking contest at their annual family reunion.

This first recipe was concocted by my team, which also had my mom, my husband and about 10 other people.

Chili con Creamy
1 clove garlic
1/2 large onion
1/4 cup olive oil
1/3 jalapeño pepper
1/3 poblano pepper
1/2 bell pepper
1/2 red pepper
1/2 yellow pepper
1/2 orange pepper
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 Tbsp. crushed red pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups ground beef, browned and drained
1 can tomato sauce
1 can diced tomatoes
6 oz. Leinenkugel's Creamy Dark
1 can kidney beans
1 can chili beans

Dice all vegetables. Cook onion and garlic together with olive oil over medium heat about 5 minutes. Add all peppers and seasonings. Cook another 5 minutes. Add beef, tomato sauce tomatoes and beer. Simmer about 30 minutes. Add kidney and chili beans. Simmer another 20 minutes while enjoying remaining Creamy Dark. Serve chili with tortilla chips and cheese.

Big Butt "Sweet Cheeks" Chili
¼ cup virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped fine
1 clove garlic
1 jalapeño, chopped fine
1 habanera, chopped fine
1 each of red, orange, and green peppers, chopped fine
1/8 cup celery and cilantro leaves
¼ cup chives
2 stalks celery, chopped fine
1 can each of black and kidney beans, drained
1 can chili beans, not drained
2 cans of diced tomatoes
1 can tomato sauce
2 ½ cups browned ground beef
2 Hershey chocolate bars
¾ cup of Leinenkugel’s Creamy Dark
2 tsp. cumin
4 1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
1/4 tsp. black pepper

Combine all ingredients and simmer. Drizzle with melted chocolate.

June 7, 2008

Raisin, Cinnamon and Nut Wheat Bread

This bread smells delicious. And it tastes good, too. It works well for French toast.


Raisin, Cinnamon and Nut Wheat Bread
1 1/3 cups water
2 tsp. rapid-rising or active dry yeast
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1/2 cup non-fat dry milk
2 Tbsp. butter
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups bread flour
3/4 cup raisins
3/4 cup chopped walnuts

Heat the water until warm, between 105ºF and 115ºF. Pour into warmed mixing bowl with yeast, salt, cinnamon, sugar and milk. Let stand 5 minutes. Bead in butter and whole wheat flour until smooth. Cover and let stand 15 minutes.

Slowly add bread flour until a soft dough forms. Knead dough until it pulls away from the sides and is smooth, springy and soft to the touch. Knead in raisins and walnuts. Remove dough hook, cover bowl and let dough rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

Lightly grease two medium loaf pans. Punch dough down onto lightly floured surface, and divide and shape into two oblong loaves. Place in bread pans, smooth side up. Cover and let rise until almost doubled, about 45 to 60 minutes.

Bake at 375
ºF 30 to 35 minutes until loaves are golden. Remove from pan and cool on wire racks.

May 18, 2008

Cranberry Graham Bread

Sadly, this is one bread I actually never tried. My husband ate it for breakfast toasted and in his lunch plain. He said it was a good bread but not sweet like he had anticipated.


Cranberry Nut Bread
1 1/3 cups water
2 tsp. rapid-rising or active dry yeast
1 1/2 Tbsp. sugar
1/4 cup nonfat dry milk
2 Tbsp. butter, softened
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups graham flour
2 1/2 cups bread flour
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup roasted sunflower seeds

Heat water until warm, between 105ºF and 115ºF. Pour into warmed mixing bowl, and add yeast, sugar and dry milk. Let stand 5 minutes. Add butter, salt and graham flour and mix well. Cover and let stand 15 minutes.

Slowly add bread flour and beat until a smooth dough forms. Knead until dough pulls away from sides and is soft and springy to the touch. Knead in cranberries and seeds. Remove dough hook, cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

Lightly grease two loaf pans. Punch dough down onto lightly floured surface. Divide into two, and shape into oblong loaves. Place, smooth sides up, into pans. Cover and let rise 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350
ºF. Bake 30 to 35 minutes until loaves are golden. Remove from pans and cool on wire racks.

Spinach and Feta Whole Wheat Bread

This bread combines two wonderful flavors in a subtle manner. People who strongly dislike feta cheese will often eat this bread with compliments rather than complaints (as long as you don't let them know the difference).


Spinach and Feta Bread
1 1/3 cups water
1 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. yeast
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. dried oregano
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups bread flour
1 Tbsp. whole wheat flour
8 oz. crumbled feta cheese
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped fresh spinach, washed and dried well
1 egg, beaten

Heat the water until warm, between 105ºF and 115ºF. Pour into warmed mixing bowl with sugar and yeast. Let stand 5 minutes until yeast begins to bubble. Add oil, salt, oregano and 1 cup whole wheat flour. Beat until smooth. Cover and let stand 15 minutes.

Slowly add bread flour and beat until stiff but soft dough forms. Knead until dough pulls away from sides of bowl but is still smooth and springy to the touch. Toss the Tbsp. whole wheat flour with the feta cheese. Knead the cheese and spinach into the dough. Remove the dough hook, cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

Lightly grease baking sheets. Punch dough down and shape into two round loaves. Place the loaves, smooth sides up, onto baking sheets. Cover and let rise until doubled, 45 to 60 minutes. Preheat the oven to 375
ºF. Brush the loaves with beaten egg. Bake 35 to 45 minutes until loaves sound hollow. Remove from sheets and cool on wire racks.

Tomato Basil Focaccia

This bread is excellent, and the topping is one of the best parts. I strongly recommend fresh chives and sea salt as the topping mixture.

Tomato Basil Focaccia
2 cups tomato juice
1/4 chopped sun-dried tomatoes
1 pkg. active dry yeast
1 cup whole wheat graham flour
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/4 chopped fresh basil
2 tsp. salt
4 to 4 1/2 cups bread flour

Topping:
olive oil
1 cup coarsely chopped chives
sea salt

Heat tomato juice until scalding, but do not allow to boil. Add sun-dried tomatoes, and let cool to lukewarm. Transfer to large mixing bowl. Stir in yeast and graham flour. Let rest 10 minutes.

Add olive oil, basil and salt. Mix well. Add bread flour, 1 cup at a time, until dough is soft and sticky. Knead on lightly floured surface 5 to 8 minutes or until smooth and elastic but still sticky.

Place dough in rinsed mixing bowl. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 60 to 90 minutes. Punch down dough and knead one minute. Cover and let rise 45 minutes.

Punch down dough again. Divide into 2 equal portions. Flatten each portion into a round, flat loaf, about 3/4-inch thick. Place on ungreased baking sheets. For topping, brush loaves with olive oil. Let rise, uncovered, about 30 minutes. Dimple the dough with your fingers. Mix chives with enough olive oil to coat and spread onto loaves. Lightly sprinkle with sea salt.

Bake 20 minutes at 400ºF.

Steak and Mushroom Pie with Cheese Couscous

I bought couscous because it sounded fun to try. Then I happened to find a couscous cookbook at the library, which had several intriguing recipes. This was the first time I made couscous, and this recipe is fantastic!


Steak and Mushroom Pie with Cheese Couscous
2 medium onions, sliced
3 Tbsp. flour
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
8 oz. steak, cut into 1/2-inch strips
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup red wine
2 cups beef broth
1 lb. mushrooms, stemmed and quartered
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 beef bouillon cubes
3/4 cup couscous
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 to 1 cup shredded cheese
parsley to garnish

In large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions, and cook until light brown. Meanwhile, combine 2 Tbsp. flour, pepper and meat in a plastic bag. Shake until meat is well coated.

Once onions are lightly browned, add meat and cook until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes. Add the wine and 1/2 cup broth. Reduce heat to medium, cover and cook about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in medium saucepan over medium heat, bring 1 cup of broth to a boil. Add the couscous in a stream. Stir once, remove from heat, cover and let stand 15 minutes.

Add the mushrooms, Worcestershire sauce and bouillon cubes to the meat mixture. Cover and cook about 8 minutes until mushrooms are tender. With a slotted spoon, transfer meat, onions and mushrooms to greased 2-quart baking dish.

Keep the sauce simmering in the skillet. Blend 1/4 cup broth with remaining 1 Tbsp. flour in a small bowl. Add to the sauce. Cook, stirring, until sauce thickens. Combine sauce with meat mixture in the 2-qt. dish.

Preheat oven to 425ºF. In medium bowl, combine remaining 1/4 cup broth, egg and cheese. Stir into the couscous. Spread couscous mixture evenly over beef mixture. Cover tightly with foil. Bake about 20 minutes.

Some of the sauce will bubble through the couscous layer. Spread that sauce evenly over the couscous. Garnish with parsley and serve. Serves 4.

May 3, 2008

Dill, Onion, Rye and Wheat Bread

Although the title of this recipe is not exciting, the flavors definitely are. This is one of the better smelling breads I've created, and the taste matches the aroma. Perhaps my favorite characteristic of this bread is the buttery flavor, which I'm sure is due to the cottage cheese.

Dill, Onion, Rye and Wheat Bread
2/3 cup water
2 tsp. active dry yeast
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 egg
1 cup creamed cottage cheese
2 Tbsp. butter
2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. dill weed
4 tsp. dried onion flakes
3/4 cup dark rye flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 1/2 cups bread flour

Heat the water until warm, between 105ºF and 115ºF. Pour into warmed mixing bowl with yeast and sugar. Let stand 5 minutes until yeast begins to bubble. Add the remaining ingredients except bread flour. Beat well, cover and let stand 15 minutes.

Slowly add the bread flour, and beat until a smooth dough forms. Knead the dough until it pulls away from the sides of the bowl and is soft and smooth to the touch. Remove the dough hook, cover and let rise 1 hour.

Punch dough down on lightly floured surface. Shape into 2 or 3 oblong loaves. Place loaves, smooth sides up, on lightly greased baking sheets. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour. Bake at 350
ºF 35 to 45 minutes until a wooden skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean and dry. Cool loaves on wire racks.

April 20, 2008

Sun-Dried Tomato and Parmesan Wheat Bread

My baguettes turned out so much better this time. This bread is great to accompany Italian dishes, but it has so much flavor that it's delicious just to eat, too.

Sun-Dried Tomato and Parmesan Wheat Bread
1 1/3 cups water
2 tsp. active dry yeast
1 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. dried basil
1 1/2 tsp. minced garlic
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 3/4 cups bread flour
1/3 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
1/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Heat water until warm, between 105ºF and 115ºF. Pour into warmed mixing bowl with sugar and yeast. Let stand 5 minutes. Add oil, basil, garlic, salt, cornmeal and wheat flour. Beat until smooth. Cover and let stand 15 minutes.

Slowly add bread flour, and beat until a soft dough forms. Knead the dough on until soft and springy but soft to the touch, adding more flour if necessary. Remove dough hook, cover and let rise one hour.

Punch down dough on lightly floured surface. Divide into 2 parts, and shape each into a baguette. Place the loaves, smooth sides up, onto lightly greased baking sheets. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375
ºF. Slash the tops of the loaves. Bake 30 to 35 minutes, until loaves are golden. Remove from pan and cool on wire racks.

Honey Whole Wheat Bread

This is a good basic bread. The honey doesn't make it a sweet bread but helps to bring out the flavors

Honey Whole Wheat Bread
1 1/3 cups milk
2 tsp. active dry yeast
3 Tbsp. honey
2 Tbsp. butter, softened
2 tsp. salt
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups bread flour

Heat milk until warm, between 105ºF and 115ºF. Pour into warmed mixing bowl and add yeast and honey. Let stand 5 minutes. Add butter, salt, whole wheat flour and half the bread flour. Beat well. Cover and let stand 15 minutes.

Slowly add remaining bread flour, and beat until a smooth dough forms. Knead dough until smooth and springy but still soft to the touch, adding flour if needed. Remove the dough hook, cover and let rise 1 hour.

Punch down the dough on lightly floured surface. Divide dough in half, and shape into two oblong loaves. Place each loaf, smooth side up, into greased 4 x 8 loaf pans. Cover and let rise 45 to 60 minutes until doubled. Preheat the oven to 375
ºF. Bake 25 to 30 minutes until loaves are golden and a wooden skewer inserted into loaves comes out clean and dry. Cool on wire racks.

Grilled Mushroom Sandwiches

My mom gave me this recipe and said it was one she used to make with her girlfriends. I decided to carry on the tradition. It's a great sandwich spread that would probably be delicious as an omelet filling, too.

Grilled Mushroom Sandwiches
1 Tbsp. butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, mashed
1 lb. fresh mushrooms, finely chopped
6 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
Dash pepper
12 slices whole-grain bread

Melt butter in saucepan. Add onion and garlic and saute until onion is tender. Add mushrooms and cook 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Add remaining ingredients, except bread. Mix until smooth, and cool to room temperature.

Spread 1/4 cup mixture onto six pieces of bread. Top with remaining bread. Spray griddle with butter-flavored non-stick spray. Grill sandwiches until golden on each side. Makes 6 sandwiches.

(The spread can be refrigerated up to one week or frozen up to one month.)

Sweet and Sour Chicken

This recipe was served at my brother-in-law's wedding and was a huge hit. It's a versatile recipe because you could shred the meat and serve it with buns or eat the meat like a messy barbecued chicken. I know it sounds like an odd combination of ingredients, but it's a delicious sauce.

Sweet and Sour Chicken
1/2 small jar apricot preserves
1/2 small bottle western dressing
1 envelop onion soup mix
2 packages chicken thighs, skinned (and boneless if possible)

Mix preserves, dressing and soup mix together on stove. Boil for at least 5 minutes. Place chicken into 9 x 13 glass pan coated with non-stick spray. Pour sauce over chicken. Cover and bake for one hour at 350ºF. Remove cover and bake 20 minutes more.

Cheesy Manicotti

I went on a spinach kick a while back and thought every recipe with spinach sounded delicious. This was one recipe I found that I finally got around to making. It is a good recipe, although I would actually use about half the spinach because it's a bit overwhelming. I had fun stuffing manicotti shells for the first time and want to experiment more with them.

Cheesy Manicotti
8 oz. sliced fresh mushrooms
3 cloves garlic, minced
10 oz. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
15 oz. part-skim ricotta cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella, divided
1/3 cup grated Parmesan, divided
14 manicotti shells, cooked and drained
2 cups spaghetti sauce

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Spray skillet with non-stick spray and cook mushrooms and garlic 5 minutes on medium heat, stirring often. Remove from heat. Add, spinach, ricotta cheese and half of each of the mozzarella and Parmesan. Mix well. Spoon filling evenly into manicotti shells.

Place stuffed shells into greased 9 x 13 pan sprayed with cooking spray. Cover with spaghetti sauce. Bake 40 minutes. Top with remaining cheeses, and bake 5 more minutes until cheese is melted. Serves 7.