Friday, January 31, 2014

Easy No-bake Nutella Cheesecake

Quick and easy. Two of my favorite words! And boy will I ever need those kind of recipes for the next few weeks. Early next week my daughter will deliver our 5th grandchild (2 for her, 3 for my son) and I will be on "grandma duty" while she recuperates. Her 3 yr old, Emmie, and I will be in charge of the kitchen and I think we will need a good dessert recipe to make together. This pie looks like it will be just right!

You could press this into a 9-inch baking pan or into a tart pan or into individual muffin tins. If you do any of these variations, you'll need to make your own crust. Place about 1/2 pkg of Oreos in a food processor along with 3 tablespoons melted butter and process until mixture looks like wet sand. Press into pan and fill with Nutella mixture.

Enjoy the pie and say a prayer for all of us next week as we welcome Hudson Riley Statham into the world!

Easy No-Bake Nutella Cheesecake

2/3 cup Nutella
1 (8 oz) pkg. Cream Cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (8 oz) container non-dairy whipped topping, defrosted
1 Oreo Cookie Pie Crust
1 bar chocolate (optional)

Combine Nutella and cream cheese in mixer bowl. Beat until well blended and smooth. Add vanilla extract. Fold in whipped topping until no white streaks are left. Pour into Oreo Pie crust. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Optional: Shave chocolate with veggie peeler on top of pie for garnish.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Winter vegetable Soup

Snowy, blustery, cold winter day. Can you guess what's cooking at my house? Right! SOUP! My friend/teacher/mentor, artist extraordinaire AND excellent cook, Elly Hobgood ( check out her amazing watercolor paintings here shared this recipe after she witnessed our bumper crop of butternut squash. It is yuuuuuummmy good! Also, unlike lots of soups, it is quick and easy to make! AND it's low calorie! Win! Win! Win!

Elly's Winter Vegetable Soup

2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 medium carrots, diced
 2 cloves garlic, minced
 2 to 3 cups butternut squash, peeled and diced 1/2-inch
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon salt
 pinch of cayenne pepper
4 generous sprigs fresh thyme (remove stems before serving) or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 (14 ounce)  can diced fire roasted tomatoes
2 cups packed chopped kale
1can chick peas (or cannellini beans) rinsed and drained
Parmesan cheese, optional

Sauté onion, carrot and garlic in oil in large Dutch oven. Add squash, allspice, salt, pepper thyme, broth and tomatoes. Simmer until squash starts to soften. About 20 minutes. Add kale and beans. Cook another 10 minutes until kale has wilted.  Adjust seasonings.

Sprinkle with a bit of Parmesan when serving, but even without that it's quite hearty.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Two New Recipes- Chicken and Salmon

It's been a busy and positive start to 2014! I've been on a huge learning curve with my changeover from PC to MAC. I've completed a painting for my daughter's baby's room. (Hudson is scheduled to arrive by c-section on Feb. 4) My friend, Helen, drug me to the gym and held a gun to my head until I signed on the dotted line. I've started "teaching" small cooking "classes" in my kitchen by request. We've scheduled 2 trips with the longest to come in Oct when we take another river cruise from Amsterdam to Basel, Switzerland. AND I celebrated another birthday! WHEW!

In addition, I have 2 new recipes to share with you. I am easily bored with food in winter and was looking for something different to cook. The chicken recipe came from Pinterest. ( Yes, I know how badly I talked about the recipes on Pinterest earlier. However, now I research the recipe back to the source before trying it. Only reliable websites with positive reviews yield positive results! ) The chicken recipe is cooked in the crockpot and was very good, but very sweet. The salmon recipe was very good, quick and easy and very spicy ( If you don't like spicy, use mild Rotel tomatoes.) We liked both recipes.  I hope you will, too!

Orange Chicken
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts ( I used 6 skinless thighs)
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup orange marmalade
1/2 cup Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce
2 Tablespoons soy sauce

Place chicken in crockpot. ( no liquid! )Sprinkle with garlic powder and pepper. Cook on HIGH for 3 hours. Add remaining ingredients and cook for an additional 2 hours. Serve with hot cooked rice.

Note: I think it would actually work to add all ingredients at the beginning, go to work and forget about it. If I did that, I would cook it on LOW.
Next time, I'm going to reduce the marmalade by half.

Santa Fe Salmon
1 (10-oz) can Rotel tomatoes with chilis,lime and cilantro, well drained
1/2 cup low fat mayonnaise
2 salmon fillets

Spray with pam and heat a large skillet over medium heat. Combine drained Rotel tomatoes with mayonnaise. Spread over one side of salmon. Place salmon in hot skillet. Cover and cook for 3 minutes. Turn fish, spoon on remaining sauce, cover and cook for 4 minutes. Fish is done when it flakes with a fork. DO NOT OVERCOOK! Serve with rice.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Chicken Pot Pie

When it's really cold and/or snowy, I head to the kitchen. There's usually a big pot of soup simmering and/or a batch of cookies baking. Since I've done both of those already this week, today I made chicken pot pie from scratch. Totally. Made the ( ugh) pie crust, baked the chicken, made the sauce from scratch ( no cream of anything in this recipe! ) and baked individual pies! Ok, I was bored and it was too cold in my studio to paint!

I found the recipe on the blog, Simply Scratch. She even gives her recipe for pie crust made with cold butter in the food processor. Next time, I would use the refrigerated crust. I would also bake one 9x13 pan of Chicken Pie! Mama rolled out her crust and baked half of it on a cookie sheet, then layered it with the filling, topping it with unbaked crust. Then she baked the Chicken Pie just long enough for the filling to bubble and the crust to brown.

Here's the recipe as I made it today. It was absolutely DELICIOUS! We have plenty of leftovers which we will look forward to!

1 pound Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts, cooked and chopped

1 stick butter, divided

2 carrots, peeled and diced small

2 stalks celery, diced small

1 cup diced cooked potatoes

1 medium onion, peeled and diced small

1 cup frozen peas

1/2 cup frozen corn ( I omitted this)

3 cups chicken broth, warmed

1-1/2 cups milk

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons kosher salg, more or less to taste

1/2 teaspoons black pepper, more or less to taste

1 tablespoon dried parsley

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried

1 recipe for Homemade Pie Crust

6 (10-ounce) Ramekins or 1( 9x13-inch baking pan)

Preheat  oven to 375 degrees and grease six 10-ounce ramekins with butter or olive oil.

Roll the pie crust out and use a bowl {slightly larger than the ramekin}, trace and cut out 6 circles, using the scraps to make more if needed. Keep the dough circles in the fridge so they stay cold.

Melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a large Dutch oven.

Add in the diced carrots and cook for 5 minutes. Add in the diced onion and celery and season with a teaspoon of kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper. Cook until the onions are soft and translucent and the carrots are soft {but not too soft}. Add in the remaining 6 tablespoons of butter and let that melt. Once melted add in the half cup of flour and stir often while it cooks for 2 minutes.

Pour in 3 cups of hot chicken broth and 1-1/2 cups of whole milk. Let that simmer, stirring occasionally until thickened 5-8 minutes.

Next add in frozen peas, corn, cooked chicken, dried parsley and chopped fresh thyme. Stir. Taste add season further with up to a teaspoon more of salt and a little more black pepper if desired.

Place the ramekins on a rimmed baking sheet. Evenly divide the diced cooked potatoes into each prepared ramekin.

Spoon the pot pie filling evenly over the potatoes, filling the ramekins to the brim. Let them cool down a bit before placing the pie dough over top and crimping the edges. With a sharp knife make slits for ventilation.

Slide the tray of pot pies into a preheated 375 degree oven and bake for 20-25 minutes or until the crust is golden.

Remove and let them cool for 10 minutes before serving.


This delicious recipe brought to you by Simply Scratch

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Ham and Bean Soup

Winter weather has arrived and it is COLD on the mountain! Since I had a nice ham bone leftover from Christmas, this was the perfect day to make Ham and Bean Soup. The bag of mixed beans came with a slow cooker recipe and I followed the directions but altered the ingredients slightly. It turned out to be a yummy supper with cornbread muffins! I only tended it 3 times today and that made it quick and easy in my book. I was free to do other things without standing over the pot and stirring to prevent sticking!

Ham and Bean Soup
1 pkg mixed dried beans ( or 15 bean soup mix)
2 quarts water
1 ham bone or 2 cups chopped ham
1 tablespoon Cajun Seasoning
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon Fines Herbs or a Bouquet Garni or 2 bay leaves

Place beans and 2 qts water in a large bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight.  Next day, drain and rinse beans.

Place beans and ham bone in slow cooker. Cook on High for 3 hours. Add remaining ingredients and cook on Low for 4 to 6 hours or until beans are soft. Remove the ham bone, cool, then remove and chop meat. Discard bone. Return meat to mixture. Cover and continue to cook until desired thickness. Remove and discard bay leaves, if used.

  * This soup is thinner than typical bean soup. I used a stick blender to puree part of the mixture. You could also put part of it in a blender, then return it to the pot. Or eat it as it is!

* If you use chopped ham, add it at the last of cooking time.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Vanilla Biscotti

When the weather is cold and dreary, a steaming cup of hot tea (preferably Lady Gray from Twinning) with something to dip into it is a real treat. While baking for Christmas gifts, I found this wonderful biscotti recipe. It's from my favorite company, King Arthur Flour. And it's easy, reasonably quick for biscotti, not extremely crunchy and has lots of possibilities for variations. Be sure to store it in an airtight container. I plan to keep it on hand this winter!

I added almond extract to the recipe then divided it in half after mixing. I added toasted sliced almonds to half of the batter and dried cherries to the other. When it was out of the oven for the final time, I drizzled the cherry half with melted dark chocolate chips. You could dip the bottom of each biscotti in melted chocolate, if you wish.  Use your imagination for the add-ins...up to 1 cup of nuts or dried fruit. Try various spices, etc. This is a versatile recipe that just might become a favorite!

Vanilla Biscotti
6 Tablespoons butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 eggs
2 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease biscotti pan or baking sheet.

Beat butter, sugar, salt, vanilla and baking powder with electric mixer until mixture is smooth and creamy. Beat in the eggs; the batter may look slightly curdled. Add flour using low speed of mixer, stirring until smooth; dough will be sticky.

Scoop dough into prepared pan, shaping it into a rough log, mounding in the center.  (I used a wet spatula and my wet hands to smooth the surface of the log.)  Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until it's golden brown all over. Remove from the oven and allow it to cool on the pan for 30 minutes. Remove from the pan to a cutting board, spray with room temperature water (I used a small spray bottle for this.) Lightly, but thoroughly spritz the log,  making sure to cover the sides as well as the top. Wait 5 minutes before slicing (with a serrated knife). Softening the crust with water will make slicing easier.
Cut slices about 1/2 to 3/4-inches thick.

Reduce oven temp to 325. Stand the biscotti up on an ungreased baking pan. Return to oven and bake for 25 or 30 minutes, until they feel very dry and are beginning to turn golden brown. They'll still feel a tiny bit moist in the center, if you break one in half; but they'll continue to dry out as they cool. Remove the biscotti from the oven and cool on a wire rack. When completely cool, store in an airtight container. Yield: approx 18.