Sunday, May 30, 2010

The appetizer I love to make for a crowd!

When I have to take an appetizer or picnic snack for a larger group, my go-to is Tortilla Roll-ups. I don't really follow a recipe any more, but this is similar to what my mom always made. It starts with 1 block of cream cheese, 1 (8 oz) container of sour cream, 4 green onions, 1 (4 oz) can of green chilies, 1 (8 oz) bag of cheddar, 4 oz of black olives (chopped), and 1 tsp of Lawry's seasoning salt with 8 burrito size, flour tortillas.

Once upon a time, I used to buy the little can of chopped black olives. One day I realized, that 4 oz can of pre-chopped olives cost more than the large can of whole olives. I own a food processor, why throw away the money! So, now I buy the large can of olives and throw about half the can in the food processor (or my mini-chopster) and pulse until chopped.

Mix 8 oz of cream cheese (I use low-fat) and 8 oz of sour cream (I use lite) until smooth.

Chop 3-4 green onions, whites and tops and throw in the bowl.

Add in olives, Lawry's, cheddar and chilies. Stir and spread by large spoonful onto each tortilla. Spread until it evenly covers the tortilla.

Roll up each tortilla and scrape any excess off so the outside of the tortilla doesn't get soggy when wrapped.

Wrap each log in a piece of waxed paper. I've found that plastic wrap and foil both make the tortillas soggy. Refrigerate for 3-4 hours or over-night.

Depending on how much filling you like in your tortillas, this will make 6-8 logs. Refrigerate 3-4 hours or overnight.

Slice the ends off each log (reserve) and slice remaining tortilla into about 1 inch rounds.

Serve roll-ups with your favorite salsa or picante sauce for dipping.

And we like to save the ends to snack on before we go to the party. It's hard to wait that long!

Friday, May 28, 2010

I love spending money for other people!!!

My parents recently vacationed in Florida. While there, they fell in love with Lobster Rolls. Upon returning home, my dad searched for how to make New England Style Hot Dog Buns- you can't buy them in Iowa! He encountered the King Arthur website and ordered a pan. He then gave me the pan to keep, with the condition I make him the rolls. I think I got the good end of this deal :)

Last weekend was my mom's birthday. My dad called me a few days before I was to head home and asked if I would make Lobster Rolls for her birthday dinner. Lobster isn't in my budget, but it was fun to buy it with his money :) The guy behind the seafood counter knows what I usually buy, and when I told him I wanted 5 Lobster Tails- his eyes got huge!
Now, on to the food! For the bread I used the Hamburger or Hot Dog Bun recipe from King Arthur. It came with the pan and provided instructions on how to use my new pan. I proofed the yeast in water and sugar.

Then you add in the milk, oil, salt and part of the flour. You beat it with a wooden spoon for two minutes.

After working in the rest of the flour and kneading, I set the dough aside to rise. I was busy, so instead of getting a clean kitchen towel to put on top, I got the bright idea to use a damp paper towel. It stuck to the dough and was so hard to pull off! I wouldn't recommend it :)

I split the dough into two portions. The first I rolled with a rolling pin in a rectangle to fit my pan, the other half was made into hamburger buns. I sprayed the pan with cooking spray and placed the dough in it to rise.

The strange part of this recipe is the use of a sheet pan placed on top of the loaf pan. You place it on the pan while the dough rises - you want to let it rise until it reaches the top of the pan. You bake the buns with the sheet pan on top for the first 15 minutes. DON'T weigh down the sheet pan! (And please don't look at my dirty oven!!)

You allow the buns for an additional 5 minutes to brown the top. I brushed them with butter when they came out of the oven and removed them from the pan immediately. This is to prevent them from getting soggy bottoms.

This is what the underside looks like. It's your guide for where to separate the buns.

The taste of the rolls was good...but more comparable to a Ciabatta then a hot dog bun. I was disappointed with the size. This pan makes SUPER skinny and short buns. I won't use it for regular hot dog or brat buns, but it was a fun experience!

Now, on to the gorgeous LOBSTER!

I cooked these in the oven- first I split the underside of the shells with kitchen shears. This makes it much easier to remove the meat after they are cooked.

I brushed them with butter and placed on a foil lined baking sheet. I baked them at 400 degrees for roughly 20 minutes. I used a thermometer to cook them to an internal temp of 180 degrees. Set aside and allow to cool.

I then mixed up the "dressing" for the lobster salad. Combine mayo, hot sauce, lemon juice, green onions, celery and a little chopped parsley. I used this Lobster Roll recipe-

Stir together the ingredients and set aside while you chop the lobster.

GORGEOUS!!! I may have been sneaking small bites while I removed the shells :)

A big bowl of perfectly cooked Lobster Tails! Chop into bite size pieces, add to the dressing mixture and refrigerate until serving.

Butter up both sides of the buns and toast until golden.

Split the rolls down the top, fill and serve with your favorite sides. It was a fantastic summer meal- and a fun project for my mom's birthday!

If anyone else has money they would like me to spend for them- I'm always available!! Have a great holiday weekend.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

As if I needed another way to love enchiladas!

I love enchiladas. Beef, Cheese or Chicken...Green or Red- I love them all!! I saw this recipe for Chicken Enchilada soup and knew I had to try it. I decided to make it when I took a short girls trip with my mom and daughter. It was nice to heat a bowl of soup when we arrived and it was even more delicious with the Jalapeno Cheddar Foccacia Bread I made to go with it.

Here's how you make Chicken Enchilada soup. (Please note, I made several changes to this recipe to lighten it up, so the instructions are for my version). The recipe I built mine from was Chicken Enchilada Soup I.

Gather up your ingredients. I used 1 can of green enchilada sauce, 1 can of red enchilada sauce, 1 can of Rotel, 6 small corn tortillas, homemade chicken stock, 1% milk, shredded chicken and cheddar cheese.

Begin by cutting the corn tortillas into thin strips.

I threw them in the pot with 1 cup of chicken broth and cooked until the tortillas had mostly dissolved and the mixture was thick.

I stirred in both cans of enchilada sauce, the Rotel, 1 cup of milk and and additional 2 cups of chicken broth. I added 1/2 cup of shredded cheddar cheese and 1 1/2 cups of shredded chicken. I seasoned with a little cumin and black pepper.

To serve, I sprinkled with a little shredded Monterey Jack cheese and some crushed tortilla chips. This was super satisfying, thick and delicious! And took less time than making enchiladas! The recipe made a lot and was even better the second day.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Summer is the perfect time to show Ice Cream some love!!!

Who doesn't love ice cream??? I especially love vanilla soft serve with hot fudge sauce...yum!! I set out in search of a great Fudge sauce. Mysweetcreations always makes me want to try new sweets, so when I discovered she had made Grandma's Hot Fudge Sauce, I knew it was the one to try! I was even more excited when I saw that I had all the ingredients in my cupboard!

You will need :

Cocoa Powder

Start by melting the butter in a saucepan.

After butter is melted, stir in sugar, cocoa powder and milk. Heat until boiling and then boil for 1 minute.

After it comes to a boil, remove from the heat and stir in vanilla. Transfer to storage container, cool and then refrigerate until use. The end result was thick and fudgy. Absolutely the perfect Hot Fudge Sauce!!

And while fudge sauce is great...I encountered a recipe for Salted Caramel Sauce in my last copy of Food & Wine Magazine. I love the combination of caramel with chocolate and salt, so I had to make both!!!

You will need:

Karo Syrup
Heavy Cream
Gray Salt

In a medium saucepan, combine the water, sugar and Karo syrup. Heat until boiling. The creator of the recipe suggests using a wet pastry brush to push the crystallized sugar back into the mixture, but I just used a heat-safe spatula.

Once the mixture starts to boil, you will need to continue stirring and boil for approximately 6 minutes, or until the mixture turns an amber brown. Once it turns- pull it from the heat immediately so it does not burn!

Remove from the heat and stir in the cream and salt. Place in a storage container, cool and refrigerate until use. Both sauces made about 1 1/2 cups of sauce and can be stored for at least 1 week in the refrigerator.

"Hello" beautiful ice cream sundae! The Fudge Sauce was delicious and this Salted Caramel Sauce will impress anyone you serve it to- a true "HOME RUN!"

Saturday, May 15, 2010

I love cute food :)

No crazy new recipe today- just a little fun with food!! I bought ground beef to make burgers and then decided to hit the bakery for buns (too late to bake them). My bakery had big bags of "Slider" buns on dinner was decided! To have a little fun with them, I decided to serve them three ways.
First, I used the lid from my peanut jar, lined with plastic wrap to make the right size burger for my buns. 1 and 1/2 lbs of ground beef gave me 14 mini burgers.

I seasoned both sides with salt and pepper and took them to the grill.

For toppings, I used Cheddar, American, Pepper Jack, Tomatoes, Onion, Lettuce, Homemade Chipotle Mayo, Bacon and Sautéed Mushrooms.

Aren't these little slider buns adorable? Can't wait to make my own!

Tons of tiny burgers cooking on the grill...with a delicious side of grilled zucchini.

And the finished product...Pepper Jack with Sautéed Mushrooms, Cheddar with Bacon and Chipotle Mayo, and classic American with tomato, onion and lettuce.

Served with a side of grilled zucchini and Roasted Carrots and Radishes. A perfect "summery" dinner :)

And Robyn enjoyed her first cheeseburger with a huge helping of ketchup!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

For the love of Blue Cheese!

WOW! Sometimes I get a little nervous trying a recipe from Allrecipes that hasn't been reviewed. I love to read the reviews and know someone has tried it before me. However, this recipe sounded so good, I decided to dive in and be the first review!!! It's raining here today and since the temperatures are cool, I decided to do one last day of bread making. Today's feature- Blue Cheese and Cracked Pepper Bread. Yum :)

First, this recipe called for Rapid Rise yeast, and I only had dry active yeast. I put 2 1/4 tsp of yeast in 1/2 cup of warm water with 1/4 tsp of sugar and let it proof.

The recipe called for room temp butter, eggs and milk. I used the same trick I do when making pretzel bread. I microwaved the butter until hot and add the cold milk and then the eggs...everything was then room temp!! I added this mixture to the yeast and 1 cup of bread flour. Stir well.

Add in 1 tsp salt, pepper (I used 1 tsp because I LOVE black pepper), blue cheese (recipe calls for 1 cup, I used the whole tub of crumbles which was 5 oz). Stir together with another cup of bread flour.

Add in the final cup of bread flour and mix until smooth. This formed a beautiful dough and since I was making it by hand instead of in a mixer, I dumped the dough onto my counter and kneaded it until smooth...about 4-5 minutes. Allow to rest for 15 minutes.

After resting, I kneaded the dough for another two minutes. The recipe is made to create one loaf of bread, but I wanted two smaller loaves (so I could give one to my mom). I cut the dough in two and pressed into two greased loaf pans. Allow to rise for 45-60 minutes until doubled in size.

Bake the loaves at 375 degrees for 40-45 minutes. The smell was amazing and they turned out beautiful!

Immediately remove the bread from the pans and brush with butter. I couldn't resist- I also had t0 cut a chunk off the end :) This bread turned out so delicious. Moist with a beautiful cheese crust and the blue cheese and black pepper really shine. A wonderful recipe I will make again for sure!