Monday, January 31, 2011

Banana Cream Pudding

From Mel's Kitchen Cafe

7 slightly underripe large bananas
1 1/2 cups sugar
8 large egg yolks
6 tablespoons cornstarch
6 cups half-and-half
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 (12-ounce) box vanilla wafers

Whipped Topping:
1 cup heavy cream, chilled
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and make sure an oven rack is in the upper-middle position. Place three unpeeled bananas on the baking sheet and bake until the skins are completely black, about 20 minutes. Let the bananas cool for 5 minutes.

While the bananas are roasting, whisk 1/2 cup sugar, egg yolks, and cornstarch together in a medium bowl until smooth. In a large saucepan, bring the half-and-half, remaining sugar and salt to a simmer over medium heat. Once simmering, whisk 1/2 of the hot half-and-half mixture into the egg yolk mixture, whisking quickly and constantly so the egg yolks don’t overcook and form little lumps. Slowly whisk the tempered egg yolk mixture back into the saucepan. Cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture is thick and large bubbles are popping at the surface, about 2-3 minutes. Remove the pudding from the heat and stir in the butter and vanilla.

Transfer the pudding to a food processor (if your food processor is small, puree half the pudding with the roasted bananas and lemon juice and then transfer it all to a large bowl and whisk in the rest of the pudding). Add the warm, peeled roasted bananas and 2 tablespoons lemon juice and puree until the mixture is smooth. Scrape the pudding into a large bowl and place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pudding to avoid a skin forming. Refrigerate until the pudding is mostly cool, about 1 1/2 hours.

Cut the remaining bananas into 1/4-inch slices and toss in a bowl with the remaining 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Spoon 1/4 of the pudding into a 3-quart trifle dish and top with a layer of cookies, layer of sliced bananas, and another layer of cookies, making sure cookies go all the way to the edges of the dish. Repeat twice, ending with the pudding. Place another sheet of plastic wrap directly touching the surface and refrigerate until the wafers have softened, at least 8 hours or up to 2 days.
To garnish, whip the cream, sugar and vanilla to stiff peaks in a medium bowl. Top the banana pudding with the whipped cream. Serve!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Buttermilk Cheddar Biscuits

The recipe is from Our Best Bites

2 C flour, plus more as needed
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 C real butter (1 1/2 sticks)
1/2 C buttermilk
1 large or extra larg egg
1 C grated extra sharp cheddar cheese
Egg Wash: 1 egg, beaten with 1 T water or milk

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Measure out 2 Cups of flour and then remove a spoonful of it and mix it with your grated cheese. Set floured cheese aside.

Place the remaining flour, baking powder, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. With the mixer on low, add the butter and mix until the butter is the size of peas.

Combine the buttermilk and egg in a small measuring cup and beat lightly with a fork. With the mixer still on low, quickly add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture and mix only until moistened. Add the cheese to the dough. Mix only until roughly combined.

Dump out onto a well-floured board and knead lightly 3-4 times. Roll the dough out to a rectangle about 10 by 5 inches. With a sharp, floured knife, cut the dough lengthwise in half and then across in quarters, making 8 rough rectangles. If preferred, cut to make 12 smaller biscuits (that's what I did and they were plenty big). Transfer to a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.

Brush the tops with the egg wash, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes (I did the 12 smaller biscuits and baked them for about 16 minutes), until the tops are golden brown and the biscuits are cooked through. Serve hot or warm.

Hearty Beef Stew (Slow Cooker)

This recipe is from Mel's Kitchen Cafe--I used a cross-rib roast because they were on sale. I cut it up into 1 inch pieces as was specified in the recipe below.

*Note: this stew recipe has a few steps that I am going to strongly encourage following – even if it makes you roll your eyes to have to go to the work/mess of browning meat before adding it to the slow cooker. I get it, I do! But let me emphasize that there is a reason this stew has more flavor and deliciousness than any other slow cooker stew I’ve had – and I believe it is because of the few minutes you have to spend at the beginning browning up the meat, onions and quickly bringing the sauce to a simmer. Browning = flavor. Now, if you absolutely refuse to do it…don’t worry, I’ll still like you. Go ahead – throw it all in – but don’t tell me before you do or else I’ll spend the day cringing. Also, unless you can find prepackaged stew meat in large pieces, it pays to buy a whole chuck roast and cut it up yourself, plus if you look for chuck roast on sale, it will probably save you a penny or two!

*Serves 6-8

5 pounds boneless chuck roast, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 medium yellow onions, finely chopped
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth or beef broth
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 bay leaves
1 pound carrots, peeled, and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 pound red potatoes, washed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 tablespoons Minute tapioca
2 cups frozen peas

After the meat has been cut into chunks, pat it dry with a paper towel and season all the pieces with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium heat until the oil is rippling and hot. Cook half of the beef until it is well browned on each side, about 4 minutes. No need to cook it all the way through – just get some great brown color all around. Toss the meat in the slow cooker and follow the same process with the second half of the meat (you may need to add another tablespoon of oil to the pan if it looks a little dry). Remove the meat to the slow cooker, trying to keep as much oil in the pan as possible.

Return the skillet to medium heat and add the onions and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook until the onions are translucent and golden, about 6 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in the broth, soy sauce, 1/2 teaspoon thyme and bay leaves. Bring the mixture to a boil and transfer it to the slow cooker, pouring it over the meat.

In a large bowl, toss the carrots, potatoes, 1 tablespoon oil, 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. On the counter, lay out a large piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil (use two sheets of regular foil on top of each other if you don’t have heavy-duty). Place the tossed vegetables on one side of the foil. Fold the foil over the vegetables and crimp the edges really well to form a little foil packet that will fit in the top of your slow cooker. Stir the tapioca into the slow cooker. Place the foil packet of vegetables on top of the stew, cover the slow cooker, and cook on high for 6-7 hours or low for 10-11 hours.

When the stew is finished cooking, carefully remove the foil packet from the top of the stew. Discard the bay leaves from the stew. Carefully open the foil packet (be careful of steam that may escape as you open it!). Return the vegetables and any juices to the slow cooker and gently mix them into the stew. Stir in the frozen peas and let them rest in the stew for 5-10 minutes, until they are heated through. Serve.

Recipe Source: adapted from Cook’s Country Dec/Jan 2011

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Cheesy Garlic Bread Swirls

Recipe by Our Best Bites

French Bread Dough:
1 Tbsp. yeast
1 1/2 c. warm water
1 1/2 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
4-5 1/2 c. flour
3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 egg yolk

Garlic Butter:
1/2 c. (1 stick) of real butter, no substitutions
1 1/2 Tbsp. garlic bread seasoning (I used Johnny's from Costco, but they also have a recipe you can make on the "Our Best Bites" web site.)

Shredded mozzarella cheese

Combine yeast, water, and sugar in large mixing bowl and allow to stand 10 minutes or until bubbly. Add salt, vegetable oil, and egg yolk and combine. Add 3 c. flour and mix well until combined. Add enough remaining flour to make a soft dough that barely sticks to your finger. Knead, either by hand or in mixer for another 2-3 minutes. Cover and allow to rise 1 hour.

While dough is rising, combine butter and garlic bread seasoning. Set aside.

Roll your dough into a rectangle that's about 18-20 inches by 6 inches. Smear garlic butter over the entire surface of the dough and then sprinkle with cheese.

Roll up jelly-roll style and then use dental floss to cut into 12 equal slices. Place each slice in a muffin tin. Cover with a clean cloth. Preheat oven to 350 and allow rolls to rise while the oven is heating.

When the oven is ready, bake for 18-22 minutes.

You're going to need to keep a CLOSE eye on these puppies during the last 10 minutes or so--once you notice the cheese getting brown, place a sheet of aluminum foil over the rolls (you don't need to press it down or anything, just lay it on top). This will keep the cheese from burning, although it will get pretty brown on top. It's okay, though, because the insides are still all ooey-gooey.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Cinnamon Butter

1/2 c. butter VERY soft
1/2 Tbs molasses
1/4 c. corn syrup
1/4 c. brown or white sugar*
1 tsp vanilla 
3/4 tsp cinnamon

Mix until well combined.  I store mine in jam jar in the freezer in between uses.

*Brown has a stronger flavor and makes it much darker in color. 

Monday, January 17, 2011

Chicken Alfredo Pizza

2 1/2 to 3 cups flour
2 1/2 tsp. yeast
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup warm water

Alfredo Sauce:
4 tbsp. butter
1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 1/2 cups milk
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp. Italian seasonings
1 tbsp. garlic powder

Pizza Toppings:
1 pound cooked chicken, diced
1/2 cup sliced olives
1 small onion, diced
1 medium tomato, diced
grated mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. To make the dough for the crust, combine 1 1/4 cups of the flour, the yeast, and the salt in a large mixing bowl. Add water. Stir until combined. Add remaining flour. Knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic. Let rest for 10 minutes. Grease a baking sheet with non-stick spray. Use your fingers to press the dough and form it to the shape of the pan. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, just until the crust starts to brown.

While the crust bakes, make the Alfredo sauce. In a medium saucepan, combine butter and flour to make a roux. Add salt and pepper. Slowly stir in milk so sauce is smooth. Add Parmesan cheese, Italian seasonings, and garlic powder. Remove from heat.

Spread sauce over the crust. Add pizza toppings. Bake about 10 minutes longer, until the crust is golden brown and the cheese is bubbly.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Upside Down German Chocolate Cake

1 package chocolate cake mix
1 1/2 C flaked coconut
1 1/2 C chopped pecans
1 package (8oz) cream cheese, softened
1/2 C butter or margarine, melted
1 pound powdered sugar (3 1/2 to 4 cups)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 9X13 pan.

Spread coconut evenly in bottom of pan. Sprinkle with pecans.

Prepare cake mix following package directions for original recipe. Pour over coconut and pecans.

Combine cream cheese and melted butter in medium bowl. Beat at low speed with electric mixer until creamy. Add powdered sugar; beat until blended and smooth. Drop by spoonfuls evenly over cake batter.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes or until toothpick inserted halfway to bottom of cake comes out clean. Cool completely. To serve, cut into individual pieces, turn upside down on plates and enjoy!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Sloppy Joes

Sloppy Joes
Time: 30 minutes to chop and cook + 1 hour to simmer
Yield: 10 sandwiches

1 onion
1 green pepper
4 cloves garlic
1 T olive oil
Salt and Pepper
3 pounds ground beef
1 T Montreal Steak Seasoning
1 C ketchup
1 1/2 C Sweet Baby Rays BBQ Sauce
3 T apple cider vinegar
1 t Worcestershire
1 t liquid smoke
3 T brown sugar
1/2 t chili powder
1 T water

1. Chop those veggies right on up.
2. Heat up a large skillet and add 1 T olive oil. Add your veggies and cover with the lid letting a bit of steam escape. Cook for about 7 minutes, or until the veggies are soft.
3. Add your ground beef and 1 T Montreal Steak Seasoning. Grind a bit of salt and pepper over the top. Chop your beef all up with a spatula and let it brown.
4. Once the meat is browned add all the other ingredients to the pan. Stir them around to get it all mixed together. Simmer on medium low for 30 min.
5. Serve on rolls or hamburger buns.