Monday, November 28, 2011

Drop Biscuits

One night we were having soup, and I realized the soup alone wasn't going to cut it. I didn't have enough time to do a yeast bread like breadsticks or rolls, and didn't have the energy for rolling, cutting and re-rolling biscuits. Hello drop biscuits!

I have not always been a fan of drop biscuits, as the majority of the rocks drop biscuits I've had growing up were made of Bisquick and resembling pucks. But these drop biscuits were fluffly, with little pockets of air inside, perfect for dipping into soup. The key is not to overstir the batter and allow it to be pretty loose when scooping them onto the baking sheet.

They don't split evenly for my favorite leftover biscuit food: egg biscuit sandwiches, but they are a quick fix and made for a great side for our soup.

Baking Powder Biscuits
revised from Betty Crocker Cookbook
Makes: 12 biscuits

2 cups all purpose flour *
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 cup butter or shortening
1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and onion powder in a medium bowl. Cut in butter/shortening using pastry blender or crisscrossing 2 knives, until mixture looks like fine crumbs.
Stir in milk until dough JUST comes together - don't overstir. Using an ice cream scoop, scoop out biscuits onto an ungreased cookie sheet about 1 inch apart for crusty sides, touching for soft sides.

Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. immediately remove from cookie sheet. Serve warm. *If using self-rising flour, omit baking powder and salt

Friday, November 25, 2011

Turkey Leftovers

Hope you had a great Thanksgiving and ate lots of good food with family and friends! If you're like me, you are dealing with mondo leftovers (which is one of my favorite parts of Thanksgiving, in my book) or shopping it off!

I'll be making lots of turkey stock with the turkey bones and *such*, but my favorite new recipe for leftover cooked turkey is this Turkey Tetrazzini:

and this Cheater's Turkey Pot Pie would be great, too!

Crockpot Taco Soup could give the leftover turkey a little Mexican twist:

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Broccoli Cheese Soup (copycat of Panera's)

This is one of my first copycat recipes that I went hunting for. Panera used to be my favorite lunch out when I worked, and spent more money than I care to remember on Cinnamon Crunch Bagels, and this soup with a Sierra Turkey sandwich.

I took both boys there for lunch while I was waiting for my car to get its oil changed a few months ago. The food was just as good, but it was a much different atmosphere trying to keep one child from crawling under the table and the other from throwing the dishes on the floor. Yes, much different...but still good. :)

This soup is a very easy meal to put together and a great way to use a big bag of frozen broccoli florets that I can get on sale. This only issue I've had with this soup is that it creates a bit of thick brown skin on the bottom of the pot, so at the end of the cooking time don't scrape the pot. Serve it up with bread, biscuits or breadsticks!

Broccoli Cheddar Soup from Panera Bread
from Top Secret Recipes
Serves: 4

3 cups broccoli florets
4 cups chicken broth (or 2 cups chix broth & 2 cups milk)
1 cup half and half (omit if using 2 cups milk)
1/2 cup all purpose flour
8 slices Kraft cheese slices (or approx 5.3 oz shredded cheddar cheese)
1/2 cup shredded carrots, chopped a little
1/3 cup diced white onions
Pinch ground  black pepper

Steam broccoli on a steamer basket in a covered saucepan over boiling water for 6 minutes. Remove broccoli to a chopping board until cool, then use a large sharp knife to dice broccoli into pieces that are about the size of peas. (To make it super easy, use a food processor)

Pour chicken broth into a large saucpan with the half and half. (or chicken broth and milk) Whisk in flour, and then add remaining inredients, including broccoli. Turn heat to medium, stirring often until mixture begns to bubble. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes or until carrots are tender and soup is thick.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Freezer Cooking: Muffin Lunches

I have been struggling with lunches at our house. Usually, dinner leftovers are rotated into the next day's lunches, but we have had a low amount of leftovers. My son could get PB&J everyday, but his momma needs variety in her life. I hate trying to invent the wheel everyday for lunch, I'd rather have the majority of the work done, but the last time I checked, the "Lunch Fairy" doesn't stop by my house. As a result, we've been eating more fast food than I care to.

This week, I bought two packages of english muffins (you could also make your own) and made myself Ham & Cheese Toasters and my son Mini Pizzas for our lunches for the week!

Freezer Mini English Muffin Pizzas

1 package (6 count) english muffins
1 can tomato paste (Italian seasoned works great, but plain is fine, too)
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (8 oz)
Dried oregano, garlic powder (optional)
kosher salt for sprinkling

Spilt all the english muffins on a baking sheet and broil in the oven until lightly toasted. Let cool a little bit.

Spread each muffin with tomato paste, then top with shredded cheese. Sprinkle with oregano, garlic powder and kosher salt.

Place the whole sheet in the freezer if it will fit; if not, transfer half to a plate and freeze the muffins. Once they are frozen (if they are stiff, it makes it easier to wrap them) remove from the freezer and wrap the pizzas individually with plastic wrap.

Place into a large bag and return to the freezer. (I used the bag that the english muffins came in, but a resealable bag works great, too)

To serve: remove the amount of individual pizzas you'll be eating and remove plastic wrap. Either place into the microwave for 2 minutes or until melted or place into the toaster oven at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes or until cheese is melted and browned. I found a combo of a defrost in the microwave, then finish baking in the toaster oven my preferred cooking method.

I follow the same method for the Ham and Cheese Toasters (and freezing/wrapping them individually) and bake them at the same time!

Serving the pizzas to a 4 year old on a Lightning McQueen plate only makes them taste better!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

French Cranberry Chicken

When the temperature cools down in Florida, I get excited to turn off the AC, wear jeans, and...bake in the oven. I've posted something similar to this for the slow cooker (Crockpot Cranberry Chicken), but I really prefer the oven version.

I usually make about 4 chicken breasts instead of the recommended 6 (only because our family can't eat all that) but the extra sauce does not go to waste! I just make sure I have mashed potatoes or something to put the yummy sauce on. It's sweet, tangy, and savory all at the same time!

I made this dish ahead in the morning after breakfast and stashed in the frig. Below is the Oven Fried Potato Wedges waiting to be put in the oven at the same time. This makes the dinnertime rush so much easier!

French Cranberry Chicken

Serves: 6

6 chicken breasts

1 8-ounce bottle french salad dressing
1 cup whole cranberry sauce
1 package dry onion soup mix

Lay chicken breasts in a 9x13 pan.

Mix together French dressing, cranberry sauce and dry onion soup mix. Pour over chicken breasts.

Bake uncovered 1 1/4 hours at 350 or until chicken is tender.
Note: If you use glass dish, bake at 325º.

Monday, November 14, 2011

White Chocolate Fudge Cookies

This recipe is insanely similar to another cookie recipe I have posted, Double Chocolate Chip Cookies. But I made both of these recipes in one week, (the former for my husband's Halloween potluck at work, then this recipe for a Bake Sale) and decided I preferred this recipe.

I made these to sell at a Bake Sale for my Mom's Club, and my friend who picked up the cookies confessed to having sampled one. These have the effect of calling to people!

My husband and kids loved these, and my son said "These look like the cookies from Subway!" which for some reason, made them taste even better.  It was a sad day when he realized my healthy lunch place served cookies. If you want them to be even closer to Subway's, add half white chocolate chips and half chocolate chips.

White Chocolate Fudge Cookies
recipe from Barefoot Contessa
Makes 2 dozen large cookies

1/2 pound unsalted butter (2 sticks)
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 extra-large eggs
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 pounds white chocolate coarsely chopped (or 2 cups white chocolate chips)

Preheat the oven to 350º.
Cream the butter and 2 sugars until light and fluffy in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the vanilla, then the eggs, 1 at a time, and mix well. Add the cocoa and mix again. Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt and add to the chocolate with the mixer on low speed until just combined. Fold in the chopped white chocolate.

Drop the dough on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, using a 1 3/4 inch ice cream scoop or a rounded tablespoon. Dampen your hands and flatten the dough slightly. Bake for exactly 15 minutes (the cookies will seem underdone) Remove from the oven and let cool slightly on the pan, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.  If making small cookies, bake about 10-12 minutes.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Yorkshire Pudding aka The Puff Pancake

This was our Daylight Savings morning breakfast. Ya' know, that morning where everyone is up early and it hard to know what time it really is. While I was lying on the couch super early while the kiddos watched TV and played with toys on the floor, the only thing that motivated me to get moving was the thought of a yummy breakfast. My world is run by food...and that morning, coffee.

We decided to call it "The Puff Pancake," and I know my family is totally ruining the heritage of this dish by calling it that (Sorry British folk!) but when I told my 4-year old what the actual name of this dish was, I got some weird looks. Ignorance is bliss sometimes.

We served this with just pancake syrup, but it would great to dress it up with sliced strawberries, whipped cream, chunky jam, or whatever special toppings you put on pancakes or waffles.

It is much better to eat it the day of. While the leftovers weren't bad, it was more more delicate, fluffy, with a little crunch on the brown bits straight out of the oven. My husband even though this would be a great Christmas morning breakfast.

Yorkshire Pudding or "The Puff Pancake"
recipe from This Week for Dinner

Blend in a blender:

4 eggs

2 1/4 cups milk

1 1/2 cups flour

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place 4 tablespoons margarine or butter in the oven in a 9″ x 13″ pan until boiling. (or until it’s all melted and maybe just starting to brown and bubble a bit). Pour the blended ingredients directly into the hot pan. Bake at 450 for 25ish minutes, until it is very puffed and browned.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Old School Chicken and Rice Casserole

When my cousin Rachelle (who I also got the great recipe Cake Mix Cookie Bars from) posted on Facebook that she finally found a Chicken and Rice recipe that her husband said tasted like one his Grandma used to make, I hopped all over that and asked for the recipe.

I made this for Sunday lunch and it was such a nice treat to have a big fancy meal during the day. OK, so this wasn't *that* fancy, but lunches on the weekends are pretty thrown together around our place.

I've been plotting about starting the "Sunday Dinner" tradition, but I've yet to get organized or really convince the rest of the family. Mostly my husband. Because as soon as church is over, football takes center stage, and that's fine for the stage we're in right now. But to borrow a line from Field of Dream, "If I build it, they will come"...or, "If I make the food, arrange the dinner, force them to avert their eyes from the TV or heaven forbid, turn it off, they will eat it." This would be a perfect meal if you already have Sunday Dinners broken in around your house.

This is old school comfort food for me so I was all over it. I could have eaten the whole pan myself. My husband really liked the rice, but said to try boneless chicken next time. The kids ate it with no issues. It was very easy to put together and throw in the oven, leaving time to put together side dishes or wrestle the TV remote from your husband.

Old School Chicken and Rice Casserole

1 cup rice (can use brown or white)
2 cups water
Bone-in chicken pieces (original recipe calls for a whole cut-up chicken) or 6 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 1.25 oz envelope dry onion soup mix
1 10.75 oz can cream of celery (I used cream of mushroom)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 x13 inch pan with nonstick cooking spray. Sprinkle rice on the bottom of the dish, add the water, then arrange chicken pieces over top.

Sprinkle with dry onion soup mix and drop spoonfuls of the can of soup over all. (Don't worry about getting it evenly covered...while it is baking, the soup will cook down and spread throughout.) Cover with foil and bake for 1 1/2 hours at 350 degrees.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Onion Walkabout Soup

Anyone ever do a cookbook "audit"? I have recipes in my cookbook binder that haven't been made in a few years, and I like to give them the once over to make sure the recipe still makes "the cut."

This soup recipe has been in my cookbook binder for at least five years, back before we had kids, and we lived in a condo right by an Outback Steakhouse. We must of liked it, because it's been taking up space in my book every since. But no date, no notes, no "Very Good!"...nothing.

This soup is a copycat of Outback Steakhouse's Onion Walkabout Soup, although I don't know where this original recipe came from, and my online search didn't come up with anything.

So fast forward to two kids and five years later, I made the soup one night...

Nobody ate the soup.

Even incredibly polite taste-tester husband stopped after a few bites.

Let's not get started on the 4 year old. Massive hissy fit. "Momma, there are ONIONS in here!"

Well, except me. I had a couple of bowlfuls. Mostly "I-made-a-soup-no-one-likes" guilt. I just kept eating. "Oh, it's not THAT bad..."

I served Pumpkin Cornbread Muffins with the soup, as I was going with the Tightwad Gazette mantra of soup every week, but serve it with a homemade bread/biscuit/muffin to offset any grumbling.

So everyone filled up on muffins. A lot of muffins. Not the healthiest meal on the books, but oh well.

I still thought the soup was good, and very similar to the restaurant's, and although my family wasn't a fan, doesn't mean yours might not be!

Outback Steakhouse Onion Walkabout Soup
Serves: 4

8 cups water (or stock - skip the bouillon cubes)
8 beef, chicken, or vegetable bouillon cubes
3 medium white onions
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 cup flour
1 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided

Heat the stock to boiling in a large pan. Add the bouillon cubes and dissolve, if using. Cut the onion into thin slices. Then half the slices. Add to the broth. Add salt and pepper. Bring the mixture back to boiling, then turn the heat down and simmer, uncovered for 1 hour. While stirring, sift the flour into the soup. Continue to stir if any large clumps of flour develop. Be careful when you stir; aggressive agitation or using a whisk may tear the onions apart. As the soup continues to cook, any lumps should dissolve. After 30 minutes of additional simmering, add the cream and 1 cup of cheddar cheese. Continue to simmer the soup for about 5 to 10 minutes. Serve the soup hot after sprinkling a tablespoon of cheese on top.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Make Ahead Breakfasts: Muffin Tin Eggs

Let's be honest, cleaning the muffin tin pan is the WORST job in the kitchen. I have a ghetto, burnt-on muffin tin that I hate...and I curse grumble alot when I have to wash it. Not my finest moments.

But my husband asked to try making eggs this way, and surprisingly, it has been the the biggest hit for make ahead eggs for our family. That still doesn't mean I love scrubbing that darn tin and all those pain-in-the-butt (as my 4 year old would say "Momma, that's a bad word!") individual cups. I have debated paper or foil liners, but I have yet to remember to buy some at the store to try it.

We've done hard-boiled eggs, but for some reason, they just don't go over well. Scrambled eggs made it's appearance for awhile, but now my husband is eating egg whites, so everyone needs their own preferences. I've sure we'll move onto something new in a month or so. :)

Egg whites for the husband, and the egg yolks for the 10 month old, so nothing goes to waste. If all the levels of eggs are at the same level, they cook more evenly, so I put 2 egg yolks together.

The key is cooking the eggs until they are just barely completely cooked, so when you re-heat them, they aren't overcooked and rubbery.

Muffin Tin Eggs

Nonstick Spray
12 eggs, or one for each muffin cup
Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a muffin tin well with non-stick spray.

Crack an egg into each muffin cup, sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.  I made 6 whole eggs, 4 egg whites, and two cups holding 2 egg yolks each.

Cover with foil and bake for approx 10-15 minutes. If the eggs are just a teeny bit wiggly, (the whole eggs take the longest to bake) remove the pan from the oven, and let sit still covered with foil to finishing cooking. (I baked the eggs at the same time as the Baked Oatmeal for the week!)

Once the eggs have cooled a little, but still warm, run a small knife (I use a paring knife) around the edge of each egg and pop out of the hole. (Don't let them cool all the way or you'll have to chisel them out!) There seems to be a bit of temperature sweet-spot (not too hot, not too cold) that makes it easiest to pop out the eggs, although it's never perfect.

Remove to your storage container of choice.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Homemade Noodles

It was a rainy afternoon when I started to put together dinner, so homemade Chicken Noodle Soup sounded like a good fit. But while contemplating my pasta choices for noodles, which were pretty slim, I remember a homemade noodle recipe I had recently seen. Homemade soup with fat, thick starchy noodles? Yes please!

My husband has a great-grandmother that made some infamous noodles and all that hype around it kinda scared me off. But after collecting this recipe that seemed accomplishable, I gave my mother-in-law a call to have a "Noodle Rundown" and she gave me a pep talk. (Thanks Beth!)

I decided to make these noodles during my 10 month old's afternoon nap as a project for my 4 year old. Nap time cooking can either be a relaxing, quiet experience, or a hurried mad dash. Unfortunately, this one was a bit of crazy movement through the steps waiting for those first waking-up noises... you can see the baby monitor in these pictures. But we got them done, and hopefully I didn't rush too much through some quality time.

I let the noodles lay out on cookie sheets with a kitchen towel over them while I made the soup, and while they dried a little, it was not an issue.

As you can see below, even a 4 year old can make these. Don't get hung up with cutting them perfectly - they are homemade noodles and perfection is for factories! I was a little Type-A supervising my son while he was cutting these, and next time, I'll back off a little.

My husband was almost surprised that the noodles were as good as they were, and both kiddos happily ate them up! This was very easy, made a manageable amount for one meal, and were, by far, superior to any pasta you can get in the store!

Homemade Noodles
recipe adapted from Finding Joy in my Kitchen
serves 2 (estimate about 1 egg per person)

2 eggs
1 cup flour
salt and pepper to taste

Pour flour into a bowl, and make a well in the center of the flour. Crack your eggs into the well, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Use your hands (or stir with a fork) to mush the dough/eggs together.

Plop the dough onto a lightly floured surface, knead until smooth, adding flour as you need it.  Let the dough rest for about 10 minutes.

Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface as thin as possible. (I cut the dough ball in half and only rolled out half at a time) Cut the noodles; a pizza cutter works great.

I moved them to a cookie sheet (in a bit of a rush, by the way) but DO NOT be like me and overlap them. It was a bit of mess later. :)

Then, start some water boiling, and add salt. (Or bring your soup up to a boil) Toss in the noodles and cook for 2-4 minutes.