Sunday, August 23, 2009

Sweet and Savory

This is sort of a hodge-podge of recipes-- things I have been making over the last several weeks, but haven't had the time to post here!

Remember this pesto? Here's one of the things I used it for...

Four Cheese Pesto Pizza
  • 6 (6-inch) pita breads
  • 1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, softened
  • 2 T milk
  • 6 T pesto
  • 1 can ripe olives, sliced
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1/2 cup shredded Fontina cheese
  • 2 T Parmesan cheese
Place pita breads on ungreased cookie sheet. Mix cream cheese and milk until smooth. Spread on pita breads. Gently spread pesto over cream cheese. Top with olives. Sprinkle with cheeses. Bake 7-12 minutes or until thoroughly heated and cheese is melted.

Except, this time, I didn't have pita breads. Or Fontina cheese. And I hate olives. But, I did make a pizza crust (still working on finding a recipe I really like for homemade pizza crust!) and loosely followed these instructions for the topping. I also added chopped chicken, from the following recipe. I have followed the four cheese pesto pizza recipe exactly (except for the olives) in the past, and it was very tasty.

Cooked Chicken (from Rival Crock-Pot Cookbook)
  • 2-3 pounds chicken breasts or parts
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 T chopped parsley
  • 2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 T minced onion
  • 1 tsp. seasoning salt
Place all ingredients in Crock-Pot. Cook on low 6 to 8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours. Remove chicken from water, discard bay leaf, and shred or dice according to your preference.

This is such a handy recipe for when those big club packs of chicken are on sale. I cook it (my big crockpot can take a doubled recipe of this), chop it up, and freeze it. It's great having cooked chicken ready for casseroles, and it also makes excellent chicken salad for sandwiches. And you can put it on pesto pizza!

I cooked one of my favorite chicken recipes last night--

Spicy Buttermilk Chicken

  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 T hot pepper sauce
  • 1 T Dijon mustard
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. salt
Mix together and pour over about 1 1/2 lbs. of chicken breasts or tenders. Marinate for at least four hours or overnight.

  • 1 cup plain bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 2 T flour
  • 2 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 2 T olive oil
Combine topping ingredients and dredge chicken through the crumbs. Place chicken on a baking rack and let sit for 20 minutes, so that crumbs will adhere better. (I've skipped this step before without too noticeable a difference in the crumbs. Those twenty minutes are useful for working on other parts of the supper, though!) Drizzle one tablespoon of olive oil on a baking sheet and place in oven. Heat oven to 400°. After about 5 minutes, place chicken on heated baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes (tenders will be done in about 20 minutes).

Last night, I served this with potatoes, because I had some neglected potatoes that were thinking about sprouting, but I usually serve this with jasmine rice. Both ways are yummy! I also did some of the tenders differently for my kids, who aren't as fond of hot things-- when I was mixing the crumb coating, I took about 1/3 of a cup of the crumbs out before adding the cayenne pepper and paprika. I'm not sure the paprika adds much heat, but it made it easy to see the less hot tenders-- they weren't as red!

Now, on to sweet things...

I found a recipe for this Millionaire's Shortbread in Hannaford's "fresh" magazine, which I stole from my mother. I wish we had a Hannaford's in our area, so I wouldn't have to resort to thievery-- it's usually full of good recipes! I wasn't crazy over this recipe at first, but every little nibble made me more of a fan. Elliott loved these, too.

Millionaire's Shortbread

Shortbread base:
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) salted butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
Caramel filling:
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup Lyle's golden syrup or dark corn syrup (I bought dark corn syrup, but I did see Lyle's golden syrup in Wegman's the next day!)
  • 1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2/3 cup (4 oz.) semisweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350°. Grease an 8- or 9-inch pan. In a large bowl, use an electric mixer on medium speed to cream butter and sugar until smooth and lightened in color, about 2 minutes. Scrape down sides and bottom of bowl and beaters as needed with a rubber spatula. Mix in vanilla. Sift together flour, cornstarch, and baking powder and add to bowl. Mix on low speed until dough forms large clumps and holds together, about 1 minute. Using your hands, press dough gently and evenly into pan. Bake until top is golden and edges brown, about 25 to 30 minutes.

While shortbread bakes, prepare caramel filling. Put butter, sugar, syrup and condensed milk in a large saucepan and cook over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil, stirring occasionally, about 10 to 15 minutes. (I don't know if I had the heat too high or I didn't stir enough, but I had to throw my first batch out-- watch it!) Continue boiling, stirring gently and constantly, 4 more minutes. Mixture should darken to a light caramel color. Remove pan from heat and pour filling over warm shortbread. Let filling cool about 5 minutes, then sprinkle chocolate chips over the top. Let chips soften until they melt, then use a knife or spatula to spread melted chocolate over filling. Let chocolate set until firm, 2 or 3 hours (or 15 in this heat!) When set, cut shortbread into squares (or cut a little piece out of the pan every time you walk by!)

A couple of weeks ago, Evan was dreaming about the lava cakes he had eaten at the restaurant "99" while working away from home this spring. It took me about three minutes to whip these up, and Evan was eating them 14 minutes later! He wolfed them down too fast to take a picture of them (well, the kids and I helped, too) but they are the chocolate cakes with fudgy filling oozing out of them when you eat them. Excellent with vanilla ice cream!

Molten Lava Cakes (Kraft Foods)
  • 4 squares Baker's Semi-Sweet Chocolate (or 4 oz. of chocolate chips)
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 6 T flour
  • Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, for serving
Preheat oven to 425°. Butter four 3/4 cup custard cups or souffle dishes. Place on baking sheet. Microwave butter and chocolate in large bowl on high for 1 minute or until butter is melted. Stir with wire whisk until chocolate is completely melted. Stir in sugar until well blended. Blend in eggs and egg yolks with whisk. Stir in flour. Divide batter among prepared custard cups. Bake 13 to 14 minutes or until sides are firm but centers are soft. (Evan felt 12 minutes would be better-- more goo, less side.) Let stand 1 minute. Carefully run small knife around cakes to loosen. Invert cakes onto dessert dishes. Serve immediately.

And, the cookie recipe I've made hundreds of times-- chocolate chip cookies. This is the recipe Evan's family makes. It's basically the Toll House recipe with oatmeal. Evan likes a steady supply of these for his lunches, and none of us are averse to eating the dough before it's cooked!

Evan's Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • 1 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp. water (I have NO idea why this is in the family recipe... makes you kinda wonder about those Whites-- you can probably safely omit this ingredient)
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 cup oatmeal
  • 12 oz. (2 cups) semisweet chocolate chips
Cream together butter and sugars. Add vanilla and eggs; beat well. Add flour, soda, salt and oatmeal and beat until combined. Stir in chocolate chips. Eat cookie dough raw, or place tablespoons of the dough on a greased cookie sheet and bake in a 375° oven for 9 minutes. Let cool in pan, if you like them chewy.

There's no recipe attached to this activity, but we made some creamed corn this year! We came home from Altamont with four garbage bags of corn. (Thanks, Knaggs!)

Evan husked it all, with lots of help from the kids.

I then boiled it, about a dozen ears at a time, for 2 minutes, dunked it in ice water, and let drain on the drainboard.

I then used my handy-dandy Lee corn-cutter and creamer to take all the corn off the cobs.

All 95 cobs, eventually. This was early in the process.

I froze it in plastic Ziploc containers, and got about 6 1/2 quarts. It sure will be delicious this winter with a little butter and salt!

All this writing about food has made me hungry! Time to go check out the kitchen before bed...