Baking


Last weekend, The JohnnyCakes and I went outlet mall shopping.  And he made the mistake of letting me go into the Le Creuset store…

And after some heavy wheeling, dealing, and discounting, I left the store with THIS:

Squee!!!!

 

So for my inaugural dish in this puppy, I knew I had to do something extra super special and yumtastically tasty!

So, what could I cook that required a huge pan and was a huge pain in the butt to make…???

Arroz Con Pollo!

Yay!

Here are the ingredients:

  • 1- 3 1/2-4 lb chicken, cut into 8 pieces (or 3 1/2 lbs chicken parts of your choosing)
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 large red bell pepper, diced
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 1/2 tsp white pepper
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried cumin
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes.  (Yes, mine is in a packet from a pizza place.  What, you don’t collect these too?  Why not?)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups long-grain white rice
  • 1 1/4 cup dry white wine*
  • 1 14-oz can diced tomatoes, with juice
  • 1 3/4 cups chicken broth*
  • 3/4 tsp crumbled saffron threads
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup pimiento-stuffed green olives, chopped

*The liquid in this dish should total 3 cups.  So you can use 3 cups chicken broth, or alter the quantities of wine and broth to total 3 cups.  One recipe I saw even used beer for the liquid part!  So the choice is yours…

Directions:

  • Preheat your oven to 350.
  • Rinse your chicken really, really well.
  • If necessary, cut up your whole chicken into 8 pieces….  Oh, you don’t know how?  Well here’s a video just for you!

Now, wasn’t that easy?

  • Season the chicken with salt and pepper.
  • Heat the olive oil in the pan, and add the chicken.

  • Cook the chicken until it is golden brown on all sides, about 6-8 minutes total.

Your chicken should be browner than this. Just remember that it's not going to get any browner in the oven, and cook accordingly.

  • When the chicken is browned to your liking, transfer it to a plate for later.
  • Add the onion, garlic, and bell pepper to the pan.

  • Reduce heat to medium and saute for about 5 minutes.
  • Add paprika and wine.  Boil for 2 minutes.

  • Add saffron and rice and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

  • Stir in the broth, white pepper, cumin, red pepper flakes, and oregano and bring to a simmer.

  • Return the chicken and any juices to the pan.

Your chicken should probably be browner than mine, but after 45 minutes in the oven, it will no longer be hazardous to your health. I promise!

  • Cover the pan, put in the oven, and bake for 45 minutes.
  • After 45 minutes, remove from the oven, and stir in the tomatoes, olives, and frozen peas.  (My olives were left whole.  BIG mistake.  If you chop them up a bit, the flavor will be more subtle in the dish and not quite so, um…shocking? when you eat them.)

  • After stirring in those ingredients, return the pan to the oven and bake for another 15 minutes.  (If you take out the pan and the liquid has already been absorbed, you can add another 1/2 cup or so of liquid if you want.)
  • After 15 minutes, you should get something like THIS:

Enjoy!

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It’s Christmas time again!

For this post, I thought I’d give you a few of my favorite recipes.  These are great for giving as Christmas gifts, and they’re super easy to make, too!

Today we’ll be making Peppermint Bark, Chocolate-covered Apricots, and Rum/Bourbon balls!

Peppermint Bark

This stuff is so easy that I’d trust any of my sister’s kids to make it.  At my house, even.  Seriously.

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces high-quality semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2 teaspoons canola oil, divided (Optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract, divided (Optional)
  • 8 ounces high-quality white chocolate chips
  • crushed peppermint candy

Directions:

  1. Roll out parchment paper or aluminum foil and place into a sheet pan.
  2. Place the semisweet chocolate (and 1 teaspoon of the canola oil) into a microwave-safe bowl and nuke at 30 second intervals, stirring after each interval until melted.  (Alternatively, you can melt the chocolate in a double boiler.)
  3. OPTIONAL:  When the chocolate is melted, stir in 1/4 teaspoon of the peppermint extract.
  4. Pour the melted chocolate into the prepared pan, and spread evenly over the bottom of the pan.  Refrigerate for about 30 minutes to 1 hour, until chocolate hardens.
  5. Place the white chocolate (and the remaining 1 teaspoon canola oil) into a microwave-safe bowl and nuke at 30 second intervals, stirring after each interval until melted.  (Alternatively, you can melt the chocolate in a double boiler.)
  6. OPTIONAL:  When the chocolate is melted, stir in the remaining 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract.
  7. Pour the white chocolate directly over the semisweet chocolate layer, and spread evenly. Sprinkle the crushed candy over the top and gently press in. Refrigerate until completely hardened. Remove from pan. and break into small pieces to serve.
  8. Store, tightly sealed,  in the refrigerator.  (Sorry, Chocolate Sacrilege, I know…  but the chocolate isn’t tempered, so it needs to stay refrigerated.)

Chocolate Covered Apricots

These are super fun to make.  And you can be all artsy with the dipping!  Express  yourself through apricots!

Ingredients:

  • Dried apricots
  • white chocolate chips
  • semisweet chocolate chips

Directions:

  • Melt each kind of chocolate, separately, in a double boiler or microwave.  (If microwaving, cook in 30 second intervals, stirring after each interval.)
  • Dip half of the apricots in white chocolate and place onto waxed paper or parchment paper to cool
  • Dip the other half of the apricots in the semisweet chocolate and place onto waxed/parchment paper to cool.
  • Dip a fork or spoon into the leftover white chocolate, and use it to drizzle streaks onto the dark-chocolate-covered apricots.
  • Dip a fork or spoon into the leftover dark chocolate, and use it to drizzle streaks onto the white-chocolate-covered apricots.
  • When chocolate hardens, store the apricots in a tightly sealed container in a cool place.

Rum/Bourbon Balls

These are seriously everyone’s favorite thing at Christmas.  Make a batch for your Granny and watch her get tipsy!  (That’s when the really interesting stories come out!)  Yay!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups crushed vanilla wafers
  • 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
  • 2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 Tbsp light corn syrup or honey
  • 1/4 cup bourbon, or 1/2 cup rum
  • additional confectioner’s sugar (or nuts, or shredded coconut or cocoa powder)

Directions:

  • Pulverize the vanilla wafers in your food processor.  Or use a rolling pin.
  • Mix crushed wafers, confectioner’s sugar, nuts, cocoa powder, corn syrup, and liquor together until well-blended
  • Mixture should be moist, not soggy.
  • Roll dough by approximate teaspoonfuls into small balls
  • Roll in additional confectioner’s sugar (or nuts or coconut or cocoa powder)
  • Store in tightly covered container in a cool place.

I hope you enjoy these recipes, and I hope you have a very Merry Christmas!

So this week I’ve started low carbing.  Again.  Joy.  But at least I get to have cheese…

Since I’ve done this drill many, many times before, I decided to start off my low carb experience with something extra super yummy…

Salmon and Fauxtatoes with Roasted Asparagus!

For the salmon you will need:

  • salmon filets

  • and the flavoring agent of your choice.  You could go as simple as salt/pepper/olive oil, or you could do what I did and use my favorite go-to Bottle O’ Asian Flavor:

Directions:

  1. Get a zip top bag.
  2. Put salmon into bag.
  3. Pour in marinade of your choice.
  4. Close top, squish around to coat all the salmon, and put into fridge for at least 30 minutes, while you work on…

Fauxtatoes!

These are seriously my favorite low-carb luxury foods…  SO yummy!

Ingredients:

  • 4 oz cream cheese
  • 1 tsp chopped garlic.  Yes, I am lazy and get mine in a plastic jug.
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • A few sprigs of fresh rosemary (or 1/2-1 tsp dried)
  • 1 bag of frozen cauliflower, or 1 head of chopped cauliflower

Directions:

  1. Put cauliflower into a big pot, add water to cover, and add cream.  (The cream keeps the cauliflower from turning grey.   Yuck.)
  2. Bring to a boil, and boil the everloving snot out of the cauliflower.  For at least 20 minutes.
  3. In the meantime, chop the rosemary (if it’s fresh.  Otherwise…Measure your rosemary sawdust?)…

4.  After your cauliflower has been boiled half to death, drain it and add it back to the pan, or a blender or food processor…

5.   Add the cream cheese, garlic, butter,  and rosemary.

6.  Smoosh, whirr, blend, or destroy the mixture into a pulp.  Whee!

7.  OPTIONAL:  Put  into a casserole dish and put into the oven while the salmon and asparagus are cooking.

Speaking of…

Roasted Asparagus!

This is amazingly, unbelievably good stuff!

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch of asparagus
  • 1/2 lemon, sliced
  • A few sprigs of fresh rosemary.  If you don’t have rosemary, use 1/2 tsp herbes de provence.  Yeah.  Get the rosemary.
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1/2 tsp minced garlic
  • aluminum foil for baking.

Directions:

  1. Wash and break woody ends from asparagus spears.  (You can do this by bending the spears until they snap.  They should break exactly where they’re supposed to!  SCIENCE!)
  2. Put asparagus onto a 1-foot long sheet of aluminum foil.  Add salt, pepper, garlic, and olive oil.  Mix around to coat all the spears.
  3. Rearrange into a tidy stack, and top with rosemary and lemon slices
  4. Make a packet by gathering the two long ends of the foil and rolling down, then rolling in the two side ends.
  5. Bake in the oven at the same time as the salmon.  (Or put the asparagus in 5 minutes before the salmon.)  Total baking time should be 15-20 minutes at 425F.

Back to the Salmon…

  • Remove salmon from marinade, put into oiled pan, and bake at 425F for 12-15 minutes.
  • (Cook it at the same time as the asparagus.)

When everything’s done, plate it up and chow down!

Leftover Pot Pie!

 

Did you make a truckload of stew/chicken soup/random meaty substance and can’t stand the thought of having the exact same thing AGAIN for dinner?

Why not make THIS?

Ingredients:

  • Leftover stewy substance
  • Frozen mixed veggies.  Or veggies that are in your refrigerator and are about to croak, so you really really need to use them, like, NOW.  But chop them up first…
  • Maybe some cornstarch?  (up to a tablespoon)
  • Frozen Puff Pastry – thawed for 30-40 minutes
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • Ramekins would be nice.

Destructions:

  1. Throw the leftovers into a pan on the stove.
  2. Heat to dissolve chunks of grease, coagulated animal particles, etc.
  3. Add a bit of cornstarch if you need to thicken the sauce a bit – The best way to do this is to remove a 1/4 cup of sauce, mix with cornstarch, then return the mixture to the pan.  That way, no lumps!
  4. Add the veggies of your choice and warm through.
  5. When the mixture is done, add it to your ramekins.  If you don’t have ramekins, you can probably use one big baking container or ramekin, but what fun is that, really?   Come on.  Go to the CorningWare outlet and pick up some ramekins.  They’re probably STILL on sale. Seriously.
  6. Unroll the puff pastry.  You can either cut the pastry into equal squares, or trace around your containers (with about 1/2 inch extra border) and then cut.  Whatever. 
  7. Break an egg into a small bowl, add 1 tsp water, and mix well.
  8. Brush egg wash onto rim of ramekins. 
  9. Add puff pastry and seal edges.
  10. Brush egg wash on top of pastry.
  11. If you want to get all artsy, add pastry shapes using egg wash as glue, then brush egg wash over those shapes too.
  12. Cut vent holes!  No ‘splosions!
  13. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.
  14. Bask in the yumminess.

Fall is finally here, and with the cold weather comes the best time for BAKING!

So to start the season off right, last night I made Pumpkin Bread!

For the recipe, I used the Official Libby’s Pumpkin Bread recipe, with a few minor alterations…

Ingredients

  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil (feel free to replace with applesauce for lowfat version.)
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten  (replace with 2 mashed bananas for vegan version)
  • 16 ounces canned unsweetened pumpkin
  • 3 1/2 cups flour (I used whole wheat flour)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • ***NOTE:  For the above spices, I used 3 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice***
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • zest and juice of 1 orange
  • ***OPTIONAL***   assorted nuts for sprinkling
  • ***OPTIONAL***   1 cup chopped walnuts

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour 2 9 by 5 loaf pans. Stir together sugar and oil. Stir in eggs and pumpkin. Combine dry ingredients in separate bowl. Blend dry ingredients and water/orange juice into wet mixture, alternating. Divide batter between two loaf pans. Top with nuts if desired.  Bake for ~1.5 hours, or until cake tester comes out clean. Let stand 10 minutes. Remove from pans and cool.

YUM!