Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Love the smells coming from the oven!!

After my crazy cheap Chicken weekend, I decided to roast one for dinner. A roast chicken is not complete without dressing...so I made that too :)

Start by stuffing a 3 lb chicken with a few ribs of celery.

Make a rub using garlic salt, paprika, black pepper and onion powder....about 1 tsp of each.

Brush the chicken with melted butter and apply the rub. Sprinkle the entire chicken with Kosher Salt and throw in a 350 degree oven.

I used my awesome remote thermometer to be able to watch the internal temperature without having to open up the oven. This is such an fantastic invention!!!

My chicken took about 1 1/2 hours (180 degrees internal temp)...and I basted it with the pan drippings a few times during the cooking process. Remove from the oven and cover with tin foil for 30 minutes.

Normally, I would set my bread out to dry overnight, but this was a spontaneous side dish. Instead, I cut my bread into cubes and placed a couple of baking sheets. Heat the oven to 350 degrees and bake until the bread is crispy.

Chop a few ribs of celery (I like the heart and use the leaves too). Also chop one medium sized white or yellow onion.

Cook the celery and onion in about 3 TBS of butter. Once softened, add in ground sage, salt and pepper. I also added about 1 1/2 cups of homemade chicken stock.

Toss the celery/onion mixture with the bread cubes (adding more stock if needed to moisten it) and place into a greased baking dish.

I also cut up 1 TBS of butter and dot the top with it. Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until the top is just crisping!

Serve with chicken and your favorite vegetable...which for us, is sweet corn on the cob!

Monday, August 30, 2010

I love a great deal!

My local grocery store had a CRAZY deal on whole chickens this last weekend. ($.59/lb) I bought four and decided to get a head start on my Fall/Winter cooking. I cooked the chickens and shredded the meat, then set out to make lots of stock!

For the chickens, I just place them in a large stock pot with water and a little salt. I cooked them over Medium-High for about 1 hour. Allow them to cool in the pot for about 30 minutes. This makes the meat really moist!

Do not dump the water, but remove the chickens and let them cool. I cooked 3 whole chickens and shredded the meat.

Portioned into freezer bags for winter soup...enough for 4 pots!

Skim the broth in the pots and add more water if desired. Chop two stalks of celery and two carrots per pot. No need to peel the carrots and keep the tops on the celery! Add half an onion, 2-3 bay leaves and about 1 TBS of peppercorns. I made two pots.

Add in the bones from the chickens and turn on the hot tub! Cook over Medium High for at least one hour....I cooked mine for 1 1/2 hours. Allow to cool before placing into containers.

I strain mine over a mesh strainer to remove all the peppercorns and such.

I like to put mine in a few different sized containers depending on what I will be using it for. I got 4- 5 cup containers, 6- 2 1/2 cup containers and 1- 6 cup container. That's a lot of soup! Thank goodness for the deep freeze :)

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Two things I love...Shrimp and Potatoes :)

The last of my "Anniversary Series"....two of the items served for dinner :) I went with an old favorite, Twice Baked Potatoes, and one of my newer favorite entrees...Brined Shrimp.

Start by baking one medium sized potato per person at 400 degrees for about 1 hour, or until soft.

Once cooked, slice potatoes in half and scoop the centers into a bowl.

Place the peels on a foil lined baking sheet.

Mix in your favorite additions and enough milk and butter to make them creamy. I used cheddar cheese and green onions in mine...I often add bacon as well. Season with garlic salt and black pepper.

Load the peels with the potato mixture and top with a little shredded cheddar cheese. The possibilities are endless for these...you could use ranch dressing instead of the milk and butter, or mix in Parmesan Cheese and Chives. 

Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes, until cheese is melted and potatoes are warmed through. I made the in advance and refrigerated after stuffing. I baked them straight from the refrigerator. They also freeze well at that stage!

For the Shrimp, I use this recipe with a few modifications....Grilled Brined Shrimp with Garlic Oil. You start by preparing the brine. I combine 1 cup of cold water with a few regular bay leaves, about 12 whole peppercorns, and 1/3 cup Kosher Salt. Heat over Medium until salt dissolves.

While waiting for the salt to dissolve, chop one lemon into small wedges.

I then turn off the heat and add 6 cups of cold water and 1 cup of ice, plus the lemon. Transfer to a large Ziploc bag and add the shrimp. I actually peeled my shrimp and just left the tails on. Refrigerate for no more than 30 minutes.

Cooking for a large crowd, I took Ina Garten's advice and decided to roast the shrimp. I placed all 2 lbs on a foil lined baking sheet and cooked at 400 degrees for about 12 minutes. EASY way to do a lot of shrimp for a crowd!

While the shrimp were cooking, I grated 3 cloves of garlic into 1/2 cup of olive oil. I poured this over the shrimp half way through the cooking process. Serve with lemon wedges...YUM!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Lovin' on Leeks!

I'm stepping out of order in my blogs...I have one more "Anniversary" feature, but I created a new soup last night and I just have to share!!
I had some leeks in the fridge and a few potatoes lying around, so I decided to mix up my own Potato Leek Soup. I put a few twists on mine to make it Cheesy Potato Leek Soup with Bacon :)

For this recipe, you will need:

2 Leeks,
5 Strips of Bacon
4 Medium Idaho Potatoes
3 Cups of Fat Free Chicken Broth
2 1/2 Cups of Skim Milk
1 1/2 Cups of Sharp Cheddar Cheese
Salt and Pepper to taste
A pinch of Cayenne for a subtle heat

Leeks are very sandy. Begin by slicing the stalk vertically and then slice across to make half moons. Separate the layers in a big bowl of water and dry thoroughly.

Place the cut bacon into your soup pot and cook over medium high until bacon is crispy.

Remove bacon from pot and place on paper towels to cool. Drain all but 2 TBS of the bacon grease.

Add the Leeks to the Bacon grease and cook until tender over Medium heat, about 5 minutes.

Peel and chop 4 medium Potatoes into one inch cubes and add to the Leeks. Stir in the chicken broth and milk. Simmer over Medium heat for about 20 minutes, or until Potatoes are fork tender.

Once potatoes are cooked, use a blender or an immersion blender to puree the soup. Make sure not to over blend, or it will become too starchy.

Remove from heat and stir in the Shredded Cheddar Cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with reserved Bacon as a topping. Delicious!!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

What's not to love?

That's right folks...another recipe from the anniversary dinner :) Our appetizer for the night- Texas Egg Rolls with Mexi Sour Cream dip! These were A M A Z I N G !!!! 

For this recipe you need:

Either Wonton Wrappers or Egg Roll Wrappers
Diced or Whole Green Chilies
Monterey Jack Cheese
Oil for frying or Cooking Spray for baking

I used Wonton Wrappers to make mini rolls for an appetizer. I chopped green chilies and small bits of Monterey Jack Cheese and made a small strip of them down the center of each wrapper.

Dip a finger in water and run along all the edges. Fold two edges in over the filling.

Fold up the bottom and roll to the top corner to seal.

I block of cheese and 2 cans of chilies yielded about 45 mini rolls. I made these and refrigerated on a baking sheet for a few hours until I was ready to cook them.

I was making a large batch, so I decided to try the baking method. I placed the rolls on a baking sheet lined with non-stick foil, sprayed them with cooking spray and baked until golden brown...about 20 minutes at 325. Some of the cheese oozed out and formed a crunchy crust....which we LOVED! I will absolutely try frying them next, but these were delicious! I served them with sour cream mixed with Hidden Valley Spicy Ranch. Thanks Baking Nana for a fantastic new recipe!!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Loving cake...for Breakfast and every meal after!

Second project for my parent's 35th Anniversary dinner...re-creating a mini version of their wedding cake :) This project looked like a disaster early on...but I saved it, and it was mighty delicious!
I started by baking two white cake mixes in 8 inch round pans...to make 4 cakes. I cut two of the cakes smaller to form a top tier for my cake. This was my first mistake...the top tier was VERY crumbly!

My second mistake, using Butter Flavored Crisco in my frosting. I didn't realize it would be yellow- which yielded an ivory frosting instead of white....but it was delicious!

I mixed 1 cup of Crisco with 2 sticks of butter, 1- 2 lb bag of Powdered Sugar, 2 tsp of vanilla and about 4 oz of heavy cream.

I put a portion of the frosting in a ziploc bag with a star tip in the corner for piping.

See..kinda yellow :(

After a terrible disaster with the top tier, I melted some of the frosting to pour over it and then chilled it. I did a normal crumb coat on the rest of the cake, chilled for 30 minutes and then proceeded to frost the cake.

My parent's wedding cake had LOTS of frosting...so I did the same :)

The finished product, decorated with daisies and yellow roses (which were also a little too Ivory).

And the happy couple...cutting the cake with their actual wedding knife! Happy 35th!