Thursday, March 31, 2011

Apple Spice Muffins

Apple Spice Muffins

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and melt 1/2 c butter in a bowl to let cool on the side.  Next, beat 2 eggs in another separate bowl.  Prepare your 2 dozen muffin tins and begin by mixing together your dry ingredients in one bowl:  4 c flour, 1 c sugar, 5 tsp baking powder, 2 tsp cinnamon, 1/8 tsp cloves, 1/4 tsp ginger and a pinch of salt.  Sift these ingredients together.

Now wash 2 apples, chop them and place in a food processor.

Chop until well blended.

In another bowl combine the chopped apple, the cooled melted butter, the 2 whisked eggs and 2 1/2 c milk.  Once well mixed, pour over the dry ingredients and beat until combined.  

Pour batter into the muffin tins -about 2/3 full and bake for 20 minutes.

The muffins will be golden brown when done.  Let cool for 5 minutes before enjoying!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Roasted Red Pepper & Spinach Sausage with Gnocchi

Roasted Red Pepper & Spinach Sausage with Gnocchi

While on my last trip to Costco I was walking the isles trying to find a new protein item to try this month.    I had decided that I would go with a chicken sausage that I could use as a topping to pizza, incorporate in pastas and experiment with ... I came across this roasted red pepper and spinach chicken sausage and it was amazing!

I anticipated making a larger meal so that Jeremy could have some for lunches later in the week, so I decided to cook one of the three packages it came in- a total of 4 sausages.

To begin I heated my pan on the stove with some olive oil, 1/2 c of chopped onion and 1 cup of chopped  red, yellow and green peppers.  Once they were caramelized, I added the slices chicken sausage and lowered the heat to low and let it simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

As my sausage was cooking, I began boiling water for my gnocchi.  I added 2 packages of gnocchi and I let it cook.  Be careful when boiling gnocchi- it cooks fast and if not watched and drained in enough time, the pasta dumplings become mushy.

As the gnocchi boiled, I added a tomato basil bisque (19 oz) to my sausage.  If you don't have a tomato bisque to add, create your own ... this bisque was a combination of tomato puree, chicken stock, diced tomatoes, cream, squash, basil and onion.  If you want to go even more simple- just add a can of tomato sauce and flavor with spices to your liking.

I topped the bisque with a bit more basil for flavoring and on low heat I let the bisque simmer with the peppers, onion and sausage.  Once the sauce thickened, I drained my gnocchi and added it to the pan to cook all together.  Within 5 minutes I plated the dish, topped with parmesan cheese and served it!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Peanut Butter Cookies

Peanut Butter Cookies

When I make cookies I generally go straight to chocolate chip, but today I went for another classic -Peanut Butter cookies.  The boys wanted to help me which I always love, but oh man does it get messy in our kitchen!  I think it took me longer to clean up the mess than it did to make the cookies, but I am grateful to have their eager tiny hands at work with me!

We preheated the oven to 350 degrees and began by mixing 2 1/2 c flour with 1 tsp baking soda and 1 tsp salt.  We set this aside and in a separate bowl we beat 1 c peanut butter until it became creamy.

While Cole mastered the creaming of the peanut butter, Braydon enjoyed his classic sweet tooth craving of chocolate chips!

Once the peanut butter was well beaten, we added 1 c sugar and 1 c brown sugar ...

Cole took a spoonful of his sweet tooth craving ... brown sugar!  This has become our baking tradition where he naturally grabs 2 spoons for us each to share a bite, I love it!

Beat in both sugars.

Once the sugars were beaten, we added 2 eggs and by the looks of it the boys thought it was fun to watch the eggs pour through the sugars.  We also added 1 tsp of vanilla and beat this well too.

Once our batter had this consistency, we added the flour mixture and beat them together. 

The texture is very crumbly, so to help the dough gain a pliable texture for rolling, we melted 1 stick of butter and mixed this in as well.

Now our cookie dough is ready!  In a small dish we combined sugar with brown sugar to top our cookies.

Roll the dough into 1 inch balls and place on a baking sheet.

Gently flatten the dough down.

Top with the sugars.

Take a fork and criss cross the impression of the fork into your cookie.

Place in the oven to bake for 12 minutes.

Braydon was eager to eat them fresh from the oven until he realized how hot they were ... he decided to count the cookies while he waited!

Within a few moments remove from the baking sheets to cool completely and serve!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Chocolate Chip Scones

Chocolate Chip Scones

Jeremy has to be out of the door super early tomorrow so I thought it would be nice for him to have something to take with him for breakfast on the road.  Chocolate Chip Scones seemed to hit the spot ... at least for me the night before, and hopefully he will enjoy them too!

To get started,  I preheated my oven to 400 degrees and prepared my baking sheets.  In a large bowl I whisked together 3 1/2 c flour, 2 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp baking soda and a dash of salt.  In another large bowl I beat together 1 c buttermilk, 1 egg, and 2 tbsp sugar.  

Then stir together 2/3 of flour mixture into the buttermilk mixture.  Gradually add 8 tbsp of melted butter into the mixture.  Once it is well incorporated, stir in the remaining flour mixture and about 1/3 c of chocolate chips.  

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and gently knead it for about a minute.

Now, separate the dough into 3 equal parts and form them into circles.

Take a knife and cut the circles into 8 equal parts.

Place each scone onto the baking sheet about an inch from the next scone.

Brush the scones with melted butter.

Top with a sanding sugar.

Place in the oven for 20-25 minutes, until light brown in color.

Here are the boys eating measuring cups full of chocolate chips ... one of the perks of baking!

Once the scones cool remove from baking pans and enjoy or save for your on-the-go breakfast for the morning!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Spaghetti Bolognese

Spaghetti Bolognese

Jeremy is a huge fan of Spaghetti Bolognese, but to be completely honest it is an all day event ... so here is an abbreviated version that keeps the flavor and texture, but in a fraction of the time!

Heat a saucepan over low heat and add 1 tbsp olive oil with 1/2 c of chopped onion, 1 carrot diced, and 2 stalks of celery also diced.  Today I opted for using a Mirepoix blend that already had the medley of chopped onion, carrots and celery- I poured the carton over the oil and let the vegetables caramelize for about 12 minutes- half way through I seasoned the vegetables with TJ's 21 Seasoning Salute.

I then added a pound of ground turkey, 1/2 tbsp oregano, 1 tbsp garlic powder and a few dashes of pepper and let the turkey brown, stirring every few moments.  Once the meat was cooked through, I  poured in about 1/2 c of red wine and let it cook into the meat until the wine was completely evaporated.

At this time I added a 28 ounce can of tomato sauce to the pot with 1/2 c of fat free half and half and 1 tsp of red pepper flakes.  Let the sauce simmer for about 45 minutes to thicken.

When the sauce is about done, start water to boil for your pasta.  Cook your spaghetti noodles through.

Return to your sauce and stir in 1 1/2 tbsp butter and then spoon the sauce over the pasta!

Vegetable Potato Soup with Chedder Cheese Biscuits

Vegetable Potato Soup with Chedder Cheese Biscuits

Jeremy and I have agreed to try new things.  Well, let me be more specific ... I love all fruits and vegetables and Jeremy runs quickly from anything with color.  On the other hand, I don't like red meats or fish.  As you can probably imagine ... it is difficult to please the masses when one of us likes the complete opposites of the other.  Our compromise was that when I cook at home, Jeremy try whatever it is that I make, even if it has COLOR!  My compromise to him was that I would try meats and fish when we eat out.  Seemed fair to me ... needless to say, we don't eat out much so Jeremy is trying more than I am!

Last night I went pretty bold in the veggie department.  In fact, I thought that if Jeremy were to actually see what I was adding to this soup, he would NEVER eat it ... thankfully he saw the end product and LOVED it!! It is actually one of my favorite renditions of potato soup yet ... be warned though, it has a LOT of veggies in it! 

I got started with my bag of  potatoes and this Healthy 8 Chopped Veggie Mix for TJs.  This mix has broccoli, carrots, green and red cabbage, jicama, green bell peppers, radish and celery.  

I peeled and cubed my potatoes, 10 in all and added the veggies and potatoes to my crock pot.  I then added 3 tbsp chicken bouillon, 6 c water, 2 tbsp parsley, 1/2 tsp pepper and stirred it all together.  The colors were absolutely beautiful! I left the crock pot to cook on high for about 5 hours.  After the 5th hour, I used my hand held mixer and pureed the potatoes and veggies into the broth and I added a 12 ounce can of evaporated milk.  I then mixed together again and let it cook for another hour on high.

In the last hour, I prepared some cheddar cheese biscuits.

I preheated my oven to 450 degrees.  Mix together 2 c flour, 2 tsp baking powder and a dash of salt.  Then use a pastry cutter and cut into the flour 1/2 c of butter.  Then add 1 cup of shredded cheese and 2/3 c milk.  Stir together with a fork.

I oiled a baking pan and dropped spoonfuls of the batter onto the pan and baked for 14 minutes.


Spinach and Chive Linguine in an Alfredo Sauce with Garlic Bread

After a trip to my favorite Trader Joe's, I found myself trying to come up with a green dinner to have on St Patrick's Day that didn't include Corned Beef and Cabbage ... I came up with Spinach and Chive pasta with an alfredo sauce and Garlic Bread that catered to green spices of parsley and basil ... not so Irish, but it was green!

I boiled two bags of the pasta shown above and got started on my sauce.  Alfredo sauces tend to be on the fattening side so I used healthier options in this sauce.  In a pan over medium heat I melted about 1/4 tbsp of butter that was non hydrogenated, meaning there were no trans fats in it.  I added 1/2 c chopped onions to the butter and let them cook together until the onions began to brown.  I then added 1 c of parmesan cheese, 2 tbsp parsley and 1 tbsp of garlic powder to the pan to mix together.  Once mixed, I used 1 1/4 c of fat free half and half instead of pure cream.  Reduce the heat  and stir constantly until the sauce thickens.  

Once the pasta is cooked, drain and add to the alfredo sauce stirring all together.

In the last 10 minutes of my sauce cooking, I sliced a loaf of par baked french bread in half and preheated my oven to 400 degrees.  I covered the bread in non hydrogenated margarine (olive oil also works nicely too).  I topped the bread with some garlic, parsley and basil and then baked the bread for about 7 minutes, for another 3 minutes I changed the oven setting to broil- allowing for a nice crisp texture.

Once the bread is the coloring you desire, slice into individual pieces and serve.

Jeremy with his GREEN Spinach and Chive Alfredo

Troy and Scarlett came to celebrate St Patty's Day with us ... all set for the adult table!

Crock Pot White Wine Chicken and Vegetables

Crock pot-White Wine Chicken and Vegetables

I left all the goodies to cook in the crock pot all day on high! I used 3 chicken breasts, 2 cut onions, about 2 cups baby carrots, some rosemary and red potatoes. I pour a carton of Tj's chicken stock over it all with 2 c of white wine, mixed it all together, topped with some more rosemary and basil and let it to cook.

I love adding breads to dinners like this one, so I made flaky biscuits.

The biscuits are my absolute favorite. Preheat your oven to 450. In a medium bowl mix together 1 3/4 c flour, 2 1/2 tsp baking powder, and 1 tsp salt. Use a pastry brush to mix in 6 tbsp of chilled butter (already in small pieces before combining). Once a coarse texture is made with the butter into the dry ingredients, slowly stir in 3/4 c milk with a fork until a dough consistency forms. I roll the dough out and use a biscuit cutter to get my shape. You can also drop the biscuits on a baking sheet too. When you roll them out though you achieve the flaky biscuit that I personally prefer. Once your baking sheet is oiled and lined with all your biscuits, bake for 15 minutes.