Friday, December 18, 2009

Christmas Baking Round two - How To Save Time

I bucked up and did it again. I mean what are homemade teacher gifts without the homemade cookies? And what is a school Christmas party without cupcakes?

You want to know my secret?

Betty Crocker - man, I love that lady!

Betty Crocker cupcake icing

This in amazing product. Sure, it tastes like canned frosting, but I frosted 36 cupcakes without getting dirty and it comes with four great decorator tips so you can make them cute!

Of course this was the cupcakes, I mean really...I was making three dozen cupcakes for kids younger than 10 - so not making them from scratch!

See that package in the middle? The gingerbread one? That's how I saved time making these this year...

plus I found that handy little package before I could find the molasses. Remember this post was all about saving time...

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

King Ranch Chicken Casserole

After reading the book In Defense of Food I have been trying to eat healthier by not using canned and commercialized food as often. Sadly, that means making more things from scratch and no longer using condensed soups. One of my favorite recipes is King Ranch Chicken Casserole so I went on a google search to find a version Campbells free. Luckily, I stumbled upon Homesick Texan and found this gem. Enjoy!
King Ranch Chicken Casserole
1 1/2 pounds of chicken, without skin and bones
4 teaspoons of lime juice
1/4 cup of olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, minced
4 tablespoons of butter
1/2 an onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 poblano pepper, diced
1 10oz. can of Ro-Tel tomatoes (or you can use a can of regular diced tomatoes and a 4 oz. can of diced green chiles, or if tomatoes are in season, can use two cups of diced fresh tomatoes with 1/4 cup of diced green chiles, such as a jalapeno)
4 teaspoons ancho chile powder
1 teaspoon of cumin
1 cup of chicken broth
2 tablespoons of flour
1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
1/2 cup of half and half
1/3 cup of sour cream
1/2 cup of cilantro, chopped
3 cups of grated pepper jack and cheddar
10 corn tortillas
Salt and pepper to taste.

1. Cook the chicken in the olive oil on medium, adding 2 teaspoons of lime juice, 2 teaspoons of ancho chile powder and salt to taste.
2. When chicken is done (after about 20 minutes), shred it with two forks and set aside. Should yield about 3 cups.
3. Melt the butter in a saucepan on medium, and add the onions, red bell pepper and poblano pepper. Cook for 10 minutes.
4. Add the garlic, flour, cumin, cayenne pepper and 2 teaspoons of ancho chile powder, and cook for 1 minute.
5. Add the chicken broth and cook on low until mixture is thickened, a few minutes. Stir in the half-and-half and Ro-Tel cover the pot, and simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
6. Uncover the pot, and add the sour cream, 2 teaspoons of lime juice and 1/4 cup of cilantro, and add salt and pepper to taste. Turn off heat.
7. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
8. Heat up the tortillas (you can do this by adding a bit of oil on an iron skillet and then cooking the tortillas for about 30 seconds on each side).
9. Ladle 1/2 cup of the sauce onto the bottom of an 11 x 7 inch baking pan.
10. Layer half the tortillas along the bottom of the pan (on top of the sauce). To make sure entire pan is evenly covered, you can rip some of the tortillas into strips to fill any gaps.
11. Add half the chicken, half the remaining sauce, half the remaining cilantro and 1 1/2 cups of grated cheese.
12. Repeat the layering, leaving the cheese layer on top.
13. Cook uncovered for 30 minutes or until brown and bubbling. Serves 6-12, depending on how big a portion you distribute. Goes great with sour cream and cilantro on top.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Christmas Cookies

I may not have my Christmas shopping done, I may have given up on decorating 1/3 of the way through, I may be praying that we see no more snow this year than we already have, but I have delivered the first round of Christmas cookies to our neighbors - 90% of whom we've never met...sad, I know!

I say first round because I really wanted to make a variety of cookies, place them tenderly on a plate and nicely deliver them to our neighbors in daylight with a smile on my face...

Instead I made a double batch of sugar cookies during a week that was more chaotic than Christmas, it was also the coldest week in my history of living in Texas, add that to the fact that we had obligations every night and no patience to run to the store for the fun little ingredients for the other cookies...our neighbors got sugar cookies on the coldest, darkest night...we may never see them again, but at least the cookies we delivered were yummy and if I might brag a little, they looked good too.

Those other Christmas cookies might still make it onto plates for family and friends, but since I've still not completed my Christmas shopping...maybe we'll just stick with round one.

Scrumptious Sugar Cookies with Glace Frosting

1 1/2 cup sugar
1 cup butter

Mix together until soft. Add 4 eggs to mixture and beat in.

Add 2 tsp. vanilla, 4 cup flour, 2 1/2 tsp. baking powder, and 1/2 tsp. salt.

Mix together and refrigerate for 1-2 hours. Roll out and bake for 8-10 minutes at 375°. Don't overbake!

Glace Frosting

1 lb. powdered sugar (about 3 3/4 cup)
1/4 cup and 2 tbsp. whole milk
1/4 cup and 2 tbsp. corn syrup
1 tsp. almond or vanilla extract

With a whisk, combine sugar and milk until smooth. Then stir in corn syrup and extract.

You will use this same recipe for both glazing and piping. It's written for glaze, add more powdered sugar for piping.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Marbled Bread

After making tons of junkie snacks (and eating them yourselves) to make plates for other people, don't you get sick of sweet stuff? Then everyone has to bring you a plate of goodies as well. Wouldn't you rather have a warm loaf of pretty bread? When you cut into it, it's such a nice surprise. Doesn't it look delicious? It is. MARBLED LOAF
3-3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (divided)
1 pkg active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups milk
2 Tbs sugar
2 Tbs oil
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbs dark molasses
1 1/4 cups rye or whole wheat flour

In large bowl combine 2 cups of the plain flour and the yeast. In a saucepan heat milk, sugar, oil and salt just until warm (120 - 130 degrees). Add milk mixture to flour mixture. Beat with an electric mixer for 30 seconds than high speed for 3 minutes.
Divide batter in half.
To the first portion combine as much of the first flour as needed. Knead 6-8 minutes. Shape into a ball and put in a greased bowl, turning once to coat dough with oil. Cover.
To the other portion of the dough stir in molasses, rye flour and as much plain flour as needed.
Knead dough and place in bowl as you did with the first batch.
Let both rise in warm place until doubled in size, about 1 1/4 hours.
Punch both down and let rest for 10 minutes.
On a floured surface roll each dough portion out seperately into a 12x8 inch rectangle. Place dark dough on top of light. Roll up starting from short side and place in greased bread pan, seam side down. Let rise until nearly double, about 30 minutes.
Bake at 375 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes. (I had to cover mine with foil the last 10 minutes to keep from getting too brown). Immediately remove from pan and cool on a wire rack.

It is worth it.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Not To Take Away From The Turkey, Or Anything...

But we ventured over to pork yesterday. It was a nice change from the poultry we've been eating the last week. I got a great deal on pork chops last week - the nice, thick, boneless kind...

Then I realized I had a crazy week. CRAZY. I don't think I was cut out for full schedules and daily obligations. I'm so over that time of life...except that I'm just starting into it.

Back to the pork...

So I was looking for a nice, easy recipe - something that involved my best friend, Ms. Crockpot and ingredients already found in my house since it's freezing outside.

I found it...

Easy Peasy Pork Chops

6 boneless pork chops
1 cup cola flavored soda (I used Dr. Pepper, left over from my last sweet pork batch)
1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp. onion salt
1 tbsp. garlic salt
1/2 cup flour

Mix garlic salt and flour together in a medium bowl. Dip chops into flour mixture, coating all sides. Lay coated chops in bottom of crock pot. Mix together remaining ingredients and pour over top of pork chops. Cook on high in crock pot 4-5 hours, or bake in oven at 350° for one hour.

I served over brown rice, even the kids had seconds...See, the holiday blessings have already started!