Friday, December 30, 2011

Slow Cooker Honey Parmesan Pork Roast

All this recipe needs is hot mashed potatoes and a green veggie or salad to be a complete meal. While the combination of Parmesan cheese and herbs may sound odd, it makes a wonderful gravy (and as an added bonus, your house smells scrumptious while it cooks!).

Slow Cooker Honey Parmesan Pork Roast

1 (2-3 pound) boneless pork roast
 2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
 1/2 cup honey
 3 tablespoons soy sauce
 2 tablespoons dried basil
 2 tablespoons minced garlic
 2 tablespoons olive oil
 1/2 teaspoon salt
 2 tablespoons cornstarch
 1/4 cup cold water

Spray slow cooker with non-stick cooking spray. Place roast in slow cooker. Combine cheese, honey, soy sauce, basil, garlic, oil and salt in a small bowl; pour over pork. Cover and cook on low for 6-7 hours or until a meat thermometer reads 160°.  Remove meat to a serving platter; keep warm.

Skim fat from cooking juices; transfer to a small saucepan. Bring liquid to a boil. Combine cornstarch and water in a small bowl, stirring until smooth. Gradually stir into cooking juices. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Slice roast; serve with gravy.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Mini Garlic Monkey Bread/Rolls

I hope your Christmas was as wonderful and fun-filled as ours. We had lots of good, easy food ( Honey Baked Ham!!) and lots of good family time. It was a fast weekend at our daughter's house in suburban Atlanta with all the family and now we are back home in a very quiet  house in the mtns!

It's back to recipe testing and everyday meals for me. This is one of the recipes I tested for the GA Ag dept folks for Dec. I'm not usually a fan of canned biscuits, but I have to tell you this is amazingly good!  It's sooo easy (my style), tasty and pretty. What more could you ask for?? Oh, cheap... not so much..but, try it anyway! These are good with a meal or they could be an appetizer. Are you thinking New Year's Eve??? Good idea!

Mini Garlic Monkey Breads/Rolls
1 (10 count) can buttermilk biscuits
1/4 cup melted butter
1 clove minced garlic (more, if you dare!)
2 tablespoons dried parsley
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Cut each biscuit into 4 pieces ( pizza cutter works great for this) and place in a large bowl. Combine remaining ingredients (save some cheese to sprinkle on top) and pour over biscuits. Toss to coat evenly. Place 4 biscuit pieces in each of 10 muffin cups. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake for 14 minutes. Serve HOT! YUUUMMMMM!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas greetings

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Cranberry Christmas Cake

Christmas begs for a SPECIAL cake... one that is big, beautiful, elegant, something worthy of a special celebration! This cake is IT for 2011! I have to confess that I actually love fruitcake, and this is close but without the sugary glazed fruit. The frosting makes more than you'll probably need. However, I was happy to have "leftovers" to frost a few cupcakes.  (This is not the acutal photo - I've not cut the cake yet! But I wanted to share the idea with you today!) Of course, you know I lightly toasted my pecans. You could use walnuts, if you prefer. ENJOY!

Cranberry Christmas Cake
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup chopped dates
1 cup chopped fresh cranberries
2 ½ tablespoons grated orange zest
2 large eggs, beaten
¾ cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease a 12-cup Bundt pan OR 2 (9-inch) cake pans.  IF using cake pans, grease, flour, and line with wax paper.

 Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and sugar in a large bowl. Stir in pecans, cranberries, dates and orange rind.

Combine eggs, oil and buttermilk, mixing well; stir egg mixture into flour mixture, mixing until well blended. Spoon batter into prepared pan.

Bake for 30 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Remove from pan and place on a wire rack over a large shallow pan.

Combine ½ cup sugar, ½ cup orange juice and 2 tablespoons brandy. Stir until sugar dissolves. Spoon over warm cake. Allow cake to cool completely on wire rack.

Wrap cake tightly in plastic wrap then in heavy-duty foil. Refrigerate for a minimum of 24 hours or up to 8 weeks.

If making layers, frost with White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
8 oz. white chocolate, chopped
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 stick butter, softened
3 ¾ cups powdered sugar
¼ cup cream
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Melt white chocolate over warm water. Set aside to cool slightly.

Cream butter and cream cheese in large bowl of electric mixer. Add powdered sugar gradually and cream until light and fluffy. Add cream and mix again until fluffy. Stir in cooled  white chocolate. Mix until well combined.

Spread between layers and over sides and top of cake. Garnish with chopped pecans or chopped dried cranberries.


Monday, December 19, 2011

Marinated Baked Pork Chops, Broccoli with Dijon Sauce and Carrot Souffle

What's for dinner? Give this menu a try. It's easy enough for week night and can be fancy enough for company. The tastes and colors all compliment one another. After all, we eat with our eyes, too!
If you're in a hurry, substitute baked sweet potatoes for the carrot souffle. Just toss the sweet potatoes in the oven while the chops are baking. Add a pan of broccoli to roast at the same time and you've got everything cooking on its own!

Marinated Baked Pork Chops

1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons ketchup
6 pork chops, trimmed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees .

 In a small bowl, thoroughly blend soy sauce, vegetable oil, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, brown sugar, and ketchup.

Place pork chops in a medium baking dish, and spread with 1/2 the sauce.

Bake pork chops 30 minutes in the preheated oven. Turn, and spread with remaining sauce. Continue baking 30 minutes, or until internal temperature of the chops has reached 160 degrees F (70 degrees C).

Broccoli with Dijon Mustard Sauce

1 large bunch broccoli
4 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup finely chopped onions
½ teaspoon dried tarragon
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon black pepper

Cook broccoli as desired (steam, stir fry, oven roast).
Heat oil in small saucepan over medium heat; add onions, tarragon and garlic. Sauté for 3 minutes. Remove pan from heat and add vinegar, water,mustard, salt and pepper. Whisk to combine. Drizzle over broccoli; toss gently to coat.

Carrot Soufflé

1 pound carrots, peeled and chopped
3 eggs, lightly beaten
½ cup sugar
½ cup butter, melted
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Place carrots in a medium saucepan, add water to cover and bring to a boil. Cook, covered, for 45 minutes or until carrots are fork tender. Drain. Process carrots in food processor until smooth. Stir together carrot puree and remaining ingredients. Spoon into  a lightly greased 1 quart baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until set. Serve immediately.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Sherried Baked Fruit

Brunch is a big part of Christmas morning for many of us. This Sherried Fruit recipe works well for "make ahead, bake while you're opening presents and eat leftovers cold later". It's also good poured over pound cake, pudding or ice cream. When my daughter and son-in-law were married 4 years ago in early December, I served this the morning after to our out of town guests. I tripled the recipe and (of course) made it several days ahead. You can substitute your favorite fruits, just keep the total amount the same so that you won't have it floating in sauce.

Sherried Baked Fruit
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
Grated rind and juice of 1 lemon
Grated rind and juice of 1 orange
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup sweet sherry
1 (29-oz.) can pear halves in juice, drained
1 (29-oz.) can peach halves in syrup, drained and reserve juice
1 (20-0z.) can pineapple chunks, drained
1 (14-oz.) can spiced apple rings, drained
1 (17-oz.) can apricot halves, drained

Combine melted butter and flour in small saucepan over medium heat, blending until smooth.  Stir in sugar. Slowly add lemon juice, orange juice, spices, peach juice and sherry, stirring constantly until thickened. Stir in grated lemon and orange rind. Pour over drained fruit in a 2-quart baking dish. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Serve warm, room temperature or cold. Yield: 6 to 8 servings.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Beef and Bok Choy Stir-fry

Just about this time each year, I get overwhelmed by "holiday" food and crave something simple and light. I ran across this recipe and thought it sounded just right! If you don't make it now, save it for the new year. Lean beef in a light sauce with crispy veggie served with rice - yum! This will make a nice break before the next wave of heavy "holiday" food. If you can't find baby bok choy, use a large head and chop it coarsely.

Beef and Bok Choy Stir-fry
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound flank steak, thinly sliced
kosher salt and black pepper
4 heads baby bok choy, quartered
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar (or white wine vinegar plus a pinch of sugar)
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 cups hot cooked rice

Heat the oil in a large skillet over high heat. Season the steak with ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper.Cook the steak, turning often, until cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

Wipe out the skillet. Add the bok choy and ¼ cup water and simmer, covered, until tender, 2 to 3 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a bowl, mix the soy sauce, vinegar, ginger, and sugar. Add to the bok choy in the skillet and bring to a boil. Add the steak and any accumulated juices and cook, tossing, until heated through, 1 to 2 minutes. Serve over rice.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Gingerbread Cookies

These are a tradition at our house. Kelley and I have made them every Christmas that I can remember her being old enough to stand at the kitchen counter with me. I hope that she will pass this tradition along to her daughter, Emmie (Who is not quite old enough this year, but soon!) This dough is VERY forgiving. You can roll it, re-roll and re-roll and it's still wonderful!

Be sure to make the dough ahead and let it chill overnight. If you roll the dough thin (1/4-in.) the cookies will be crisp (good for dunking in hot tea or cider) and if you roll the dough thick (1/3-1/2-inch) the cookies will be soft. It's up to you!!

Gingerbread Men
1 cup shortening
1 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
1 cup molasses (spray the measuring cup with Pam and it will come out easier)
1 egg
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoons ground cloves (since cloves are strong, I used less when the kids were little)

Cream shortening and sugar in large mixer bowl. Add molasses and mix well. Beat in egg. Sift dry ingredients. Add to shortening mixture. Stir or mix slowly just until all ingredients are combined. Chill overnight (or minimum of 4 hrs). Roll out on a floured board. Cut into shapes and bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Cool completely and decorate.

Note: I add raisin buttons before baking and sometimes "red hot" candy for heart or buttons. All of these need to be baked on. The rest of the decorating is done with Royal Icing when the cookies are completely cool. This is the FUN part!!

Royal Icing (or Decorator Frosting)
My Home Ec training tells me that I must warn you this icing is made with raw egg whites. If you are concerned about that, you can purchase meringue powder (powdered egg whites) at craft stores and some grocery stores. I've made this for 30 years and never gotten sick from it, however, I do NOT lick my fingers or eat it by the spoonful!! The cookies have a small amt on them.

3 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon cream of tarter
1 pound powdered sugar, sifted ( 3 1/2 cups)
Combine egg whites and cream of tarter in large bowl of electric mixer. Beat at medium speed until foamy. Gradually add sugar; continue beating until stiff peaks form (5-7 minutes). Yield: 2 cups frosting.

Note: This icing can also be used as the "glue" for building and assembling gingerbread houses.
Keep a wet dish towel draped over the bowl while you're working with icing in a decorating bag. When it dries out, it is as hard as glass!!! If it starts getting dry on you, add water by the teaspoon until it is soft again.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Chocolate Crinkles

Just one more chocolate cookie!  Chocolate Crinkles are fun to make and taste good, too. They look really pretty on a cookie platter or as a gift. 

Chocolate Crinkles

1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 oz unsweetened baking chocolate, melted, cooled
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla  extract
4 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup powdered sugar

In large bowl, mix oil, chocolate, granulated sugar and vanilla. Stir in eggs, one at a time. Stir in flour, baking powder and salt. Cover; refrigerate at least 3 hours.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease cookie sheet with shortening or cooking spray.

Drop dough by teaspoonfuls into powdered sugar; roll to coat and shape into balls. Place about 2 inches apart on cookie sheets.
Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until almost no imprint remains when touched lightly in center. Immediately remove from cookie sheets to cooling racks.

Makes 6 dozen cookies

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Double Chocolate-Peppermint Crunch Cookies

This is a re-run from Christmas 2010, but well worth repeating for those of you who missed it last year! These cookies are decadent and beautiful! If you love dark chocolate and peppermint, these are the cookies for you! Make them for a special treat for someone you love. You'll have a friend for life.

Double Chocolate-Peppermint Crunch Cookies
2 packages (Ghiradelli) 60% cocoa bittersweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (Ghiradelli) unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon instant Expresso powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/2 cup crushed peppermint candy (16 round peppermint candies or leftover candy canes)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 large baking pans with parchment paper.

Place 2 cups chocolate chips in medium size metal bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. Stir until smooth and melted. Cool. Place 2/3 cup melted chocolate in a small bowl. Set aside to drizzle on top of baked and cooled cookies.

Combine flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, instant expressso and salt in a large bowl; whisk to combine. Place butter and sugar in large bowl of electric mixer, creaming until light and fluffy. Add extracts and beat until well combined. Add eggs; beat to blend. Stir in remaining melted chocolate. Add dry ingredients, mix until well combined. Stir in 1/2 cup chocolate chips.

Measure 1 level tablespoon dough; roll into a ball. Place on parchment paper lined baking sheet, spacing 1 1/2 inches apart. Bake for 8 to 9 minutes or until tops are cracked all over.

Remove from oven and cool on pan for 5 minutes. Place parchment paper and cookies on wire rack to cool completely.

Rewarm reserved 2/3 cup melted chocolate. Drizzle over cooled cookies using a fork. Immediately sprinkle with chopped peppermint. Chill just until chocolate sets, about 20 minutes. Yield: about 4 dozen.

Helen's Tips: I only had 1 bag of chocolate chips, so I measured out 1/2 cup to add to the batter at the end, melted what was left in the bag, and stirred it into the batter. When the cookies were cooled, I melted another 1/2 cup white chocolate chips and drizzled that over the cookies. They were still perfect!!

If you don't have instant expresso, leave it out! You could add 2 tablespoons STRONG brewed coffee in its place. Coffee intensifies the taste of this needs intensity!!

The better the cocoa, the better the cookies will be. I splurged for some REAL Dutch process cocoa from the Williams Sonoma Outlet. It was worth it! However, Ghiradelli will be almost as good. Same with the chocolate chips.. use the best you can get!

Shape these into small balls. Believe me, these are RICH cookies. And you'll make more servings.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Cranberry Bliss Bars

This bar cookie makes a thoughtful gift, delicious snack or sinful breakfast cookie. They are pretty and taste amazing! Pack a few into a cute container add coffee/tea/hot chocolate and a gift tag! Or make a batch and enjoy them yourself!!

Cranberry Bliss Bars
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dried cranberries, finely chopped
6 ounces white chocolate, finely chopped
1/3 cup candied ginger, finely chopped

4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon orange juice
1 teaspoon orange zest
1/2 cup chopped dried cranberries
1/2-3/4 cup white chocolate, shavings

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 10x15 jelly roll pan with parchment paper, trimming away any excess.  
Cream butter and brown sugar in large bowl of electric mixer until smooth. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add dry ingredients in small amounts, blending well. Fold in cranberries, chocolate, and chopped ginger.  Spread batter over parchment paper in pan and bake for about 30 minutes or until bars are slightly firm to the touch. Cool  completely.

 Combine softened cream cheese with powdered sugar, butter, vanilla, orange juice and orange zest, fold in dried cranberries.
Spread frosting over cookies and sprinkle with chocolate shavings (scrape a bar on the side with a large knife to get these- doesn't matter if it crumbles instead of curling). Cut bars into fourths along the length, and into 3 parts along the width, then cut each square into a triangle. Store bars in the refrigerator.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Christmas is coming! That means it MUST be time for baking Christmas cookies! Even the simplest recipes can be dressed up for the holiday. Here's a very easy brownie recipe with a beautiful topping.
I don't understand why people make box brownies when these are soooo easy and taste sooo much better! However, if you must, bake a box mix and then add the white chocolate and peppermint topping. You KNOW I will double this recipe and bake it in a 9x13-inch pan.

Happy Baking! More cookie recipes coming... stay tuned!

White Chocolate Peppermint Brownies
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for the pan
3/4 cup all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
6 ounces white chocolate, chopped
1 teaspoon canola oil
1/3 cup chopped peppermint candies

Preheat oven to 350° F. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan. Line with 2 crisscrossed pieces of parchment, buttering in between and leaving an overhang on all sides; butter the parchment.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

In a large microwave-safe bowl, combine the butter and semisweet chocolate. Microwave on high in 30-second intervals, stirring between each, until melted and smooth. Let cool slightly. Whisk in the sugar, eggs, and vanilla until smooth.
Add the flour mixture and mix until just combined (do not overmix).

Spread the batter in the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool completely in the pan.
In a medium microwave-safe bowl, microwave the white chocolate and oil in 30-second intervals, stirring between each, until melted and smooth. Spread on top of the cooled brownies. Sprinkle with the candies and let set.

Holding the paper overhang, lift the brownies out of the pan and transfer to a cutting board. Cut into 16 squares (4 rows by 4 rows).

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Garlic White Lasagna

This is a great make ahead main dish especially when you have a crowd. Serve with a green salad and hot Italian bread and your meal is complete! Or make in 2 smaller pans and keep one in the freezer, bake when needed.
Garlic White Lasagna
 1 ½ pounds Italian sausage, browned and crumbled, 1 tablespoon drippings reserved
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup chopped onion
1 (12-oz.) jar roasted red peppers, chopped
½ cup white wine (or chicken broth)
1 (10-oz.) package frozen chopped spinach, cook and squeeze dry
1 (15-oz.) carton ricotta cheese
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 egg, slightly beaten
2 (17-oz.) jars Alfredo sauce
12 uncooked lasagna noodles
12 oz. mozzarella cheese
1 cup grated or shaved Parmesan cheese

Sauté onion and garlic in 1 tablespoon sausage drippings; stir in sausage, peppers and wine. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes or until liquid evaporates. Set aside.
Combine cooked spinach, ricotta, salt, pepper and egg in medium bowl, stirring well.
Grease a deep 9x13-inch baking dish. Layer ingredients in this order:
1 cup Alfredo sauce
4 uncooked lasagna noodles
½ of the spinach mixture
½ of the sausage mixture
½ of the mozzarella cheese
Repeat layer
Place 4 uncooked  lasagna noodles on top
Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese, then remaining sauce. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Cover with foil, refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Allow casserole to come to room temperature, about 1 hour, before baking. Bake, covered with foil, 1 hour. Uncover and bake an additional 15 minutes. Let stand 15minutes before cutting into squares to serve. Yield: 12 servings.