Sunday, August 11, 2013

Meringue Chocolate Chip Pecan Cookies

David grew up loving meringue cookies with just a few chocolate chips in them, but we have a ton of extra pecans so we thought this recipe would be perfect. And it was. We did try a first attempt with chocolate chips and pecans and they were delicious, but too big so they didn't set up perfectly. The second attempt we made them with white chocolate chips and made them a little smaller and they worked out perfectly! (Also... layering the cookie sheets in the oven doesn't work very well either)

For us we decided cutting the recipe by 3/4ths was perfect for one cookie sheet in the oven. In the picture below you can see 3 of the white chocolate cookies (they are more brown) and one of the chocolate chip cookies (the white one).

Meringue Chocolate Chip Pecan Cookies
Makes: 24 cookies

4 egg whites, room temperature
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup granulated sugar
12 ounces chocolate chips or white chocolate chips
1 cup pecans, finely chopped

  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a mixer on medium-low speed, beat the egg whites with the whisk attachment until frothy, approximately 2 minutes. Add salt and increase the speed to high and whip until soft peaks. Reduce the speed to medium and add the vanilla and sugar one tablespoon at a time. Whip to glossy peaks, about 2 minutes.
  3. Fold in the pecans and chocolate chips. Spoon the dough onto the cookie sheet (1 tablespoon each). Bake for 45 minutes. Turn oven off and leave the cookies in the oven for at least 4 hours

Monday, August 5, 2013

Cream Chicken & Wild Rice Soup

mmmm.. I made this in the winter, but it sure sounds good even now in august.. :) I just wish I had more pictures of these meals. :) Oh well, I remember this was divine though.

Creamy Chicken & Rice Soup
Serves: 8
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil $0.11
  • 1 medium yellow onion $0.56
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic $0.24
  • ½ lb. carrots, sliced $0.39
  • ½ bunch celery, sliced $0.79
  • 1 lb. chicken $1.99
  • 1 whole bay leaf $0.15
  • 1 tsp dried oregano $0.05
  • 1 tsp dried thyme $0.05
  • to taste cracked pepper $0.05
  • 1-2 tsp (to taste) salt $0.05
  • 1 cup wild rice mix $1.37
  • 6 cups water $0.00
  • ⅓ bunch fresh parsley $0.26
  • 2 Tbsp butter $0.10
  • 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour $0.02
  • 2 cups whole milk $1.07
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Meanwhile, dice the onion (and mince the garlic if using fresh rather than pre-minced). Add the onion and garlic to the hot oil and saute until tender (5 min).
  2. If using fresh carrots and celery, clean and slice them while the onions are sauteing. Add them to the pot and cook for about 5 minutes more.
  3. Add the chicken breast (whole), bay leaf, oregano, thyme, cracked pepper, dry rice, and 6 cups of water to the pot. Do not add salt yet. Bring the pot up to a boil over medium high heat, then reduce the heat to low and let simmer for one hour.
  4. Near the end of the hour, begin to make the creamy milk mixture. In a small pot, melt 2 Tbsp of butter over medium heat. When it is fully melted, whisk in 2 Tbsp of all-purpose flour. Cook and stir the butter and flour mixture for two minutes. Whisk in the milk and allow it to come up to a simmer, whisking occasionally to keep it from scorching on the bottom. Once it reaches a simmer, it will have thickened slightly.
  5. Carefully remove the chicken pieces from the soup and shred or dice with a knife and fork. Rinse and chop the parsley. Add the parsley and the thickened milk mixture to the soup. Season with salt to taste. I used about 2 tsp of salt, but start with a little and add more as needed. I also added a touch more pepper at this point. Serve hot!

Triple-cheese Spinach Strata with Sundried Tomatoes and Peppers

So this is absolutely delicious. What led me to make this was the fact that you could make it early and then let it sit in the fridge (you are actually supposed to) and then i could come home and quickly cook it in about 40 minutes.

It was a little time consuming mostly because I didn't quite know what I was doing for the first bit. But then as I started to run out of time, it all came together pretty quickly.

I was surprised at how filling this was as well. I was able to feed about 10 people with a 13x9 and a 9x9 pan full. It was amazing.

Triple-Cheese Spinach Strata with Sundried Tomatoes and Peppers

Yield: Serves 4, but easily doubled in a 9 by 13-inch casserole.

1/4 cup chopped dry-packed sundried tomatoes
1 tablespoon butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
6 ounces frozen spinach, thawed
1/2 cup chopped roasted red peppers
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
5 cups cubed French or Italian bread, crusts removed (about 1/2 pound)
4 large eggs
1 cup milk
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Pinch freshly ground pepper
1/3 cup ricotta
1 cup gruyère, grated
1/2 cup parmesan, finely grated

Cover sundried tomatoes with boiling water and let sit for 15 minutes. Drain off water. Squeeze handfuls of spinach to remove as much water as possible, and then chop.
Over medium-low heat, heat butter until no longer bubbling. Saute onion until softened and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, stir until golden, about 30 seconds. Stir in spinach, peppers, sundried tomatoes and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Stir until mixture is dry, about 1 minute, then remove from heat.
In a buttered 8-inch square casserole, layer half of bread cubes. Spread over half of spinach mixture, then spoonfuls of half of ricotta. Scatter over half of gruyère and parmesan. Repeat layering.
In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, cream, mustard, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and pepper. Pour egg mixture evenly over casserole. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
In the morning, remove casserole from the fridge and let sit while preheating oven to 350°F. Bake casserole until browned and cooked through, about 45-50 minutes.

Herb Rubbed Pork Loin and Herb Spaetzle

What to make for dinner?! Today the thought came to me that I want flavor... so I looked to herbs. Its always so hard trying to keep things somewhat healthy but still having enough food and having it taste good.

Though I am super excited. I haven't made spaetlze since I was in high school for my german class and before that I was in Germany eating it! So hopefully this will be a positive experience. I have heard that it is better to use a colander with 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch holes. I will probably use one that has much smaller holes.. but we will see what it turns out like.

Herb Rubbed Pork Loin

2 tbs. mustard
1 tbs. honey
1/4 tsp Rosemary
1/4 tsp Basil
1/4 tsp Garlic
1/4 tsp Tarragon
1/8 tsp Celery Salt
pinch Salt and  (1/4 tsp) Pepper
We rubbed this all over the meat, then seared in a very hot pan to brown the outside. Once all sides are browned, which should only take you about 10 minutes, place in a very hot oven, about 450 degrees, and let it complete cooking. When the internal temperature of the meat hits 145 degrees, take it out. Let it rest for about 10 minutes on a cutting board. Then, slice and serve immediately.
Recently, the guideline for internal temperature of cooked pork has been lowered to 145 degrees, down from the 160 of the past. (See this article.) Personally, I like rare meat and just over 145 is great for my taste. You can, naturally, cook your pork to a higher temperature than that, but I would strongly recommend you stop cooking the meat when the internal temperature hits between 145-155 degrees. Remember, your meat’s temperature will rise a bit while resting. Also, you will end up with a nice juicy piece of meat with a great texture when you cook it to a slightly lower temperature. I find 160 yields dry, tougher meat.

to get to 160 degrees its about 50 minutes cooking in the oven at 350. 

Pan-Browned Spaetzle with Shallots and Herbs
Serves: 4

Simplest Homemade Spaetzle
Recipe from The Balthazar Cookbook, technique from trial and error
2 cups (250 grams) all-purpose flour
7 large eggs
1/4 cup (59 ml) milk
Combine the flour, eggs and milk in a large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour, or overnight.*
Prepare an ice bath. Bring a large pot of well salted water to boil. If you’ve got a spaetzle maker, use it. Otherwise, do not fret! Set a large colander with holes anywhere from 1/4 to 1/2-inch wide over the pot. Put on two potholders because you probably already know that steam is hot; I apparently did not. Pour 1/4 of the batter into the colander and press it through the holes with a flexible spatula. Boil for 2 to 3 minutes then use a slotted spoon to fish spaetzle out and drop it in the ice bath. Continue with remaining batter in 3 batches. I found it was important to use only a little batter at a time (and even less if your pot is smaller) because if you push too much batter in at a time, it becomes one freakish megaspaetzle as opposed to hundreds of tiny twisty ones.
When you’re done with the batter, drain the spaetzle well and toss it with a small amount of olive oil to keep it from sticking. You can use it right away, or keep it in the fridge for a day until needed.
* The other spaetzle recipe I auditioned did not call for the resting time and worked just fine. I didn’t test this version without resting it in the fridge first for an hour, but suspect that you could get away with it if you were pinched for time. That said, the batter was really lovely — smoother, stretchier — after an hour, so if you can use that hour to prepare a salad or other parts of your meal, you should.
Pan-Browned Spaetzle with Shallots and Herbs
Heat a large skillet over medium-high. Heat 1 tablespoon unsalted butter. Once it is fully melted and beginning to turn golden add a couple cups of drained, cooled spaetzle and let it heat for a minute in the pan before starting to saute it about. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper and continue to cook it until each piece has a couple toasty brown edges. Add 1 tablespoon minced shallot and cook for one minute more. Adjust seasonings to taste and, off the heat, toss with 1 tablespoon minced herbs (I used parsley and dill but others, like tarragon or chives, would work well.) Eat immediately.

Roasted Butternut Squash Orzo

Yesterday was SO fun. For FHE we decided to celebrate Johnny Appleseed Day by playing baseball with apples! I was amazed at how they just got smashed. But it was fun to see them disintegrate. I wish I had taken a picture. It is always fun to see how groups get together and mesh. I feel that our FHE group is meshing well though. I am excited to see it blossom. :)

I was looking again at foodgawker and found this recipe.. now.. don't look too closely at the source... it may use some unfortunate language.. but I have to give credit where it is due... And this recipe just sounded so yummy! And I have to say it was 100% worth it. It was delicious! The butternut squash was intensely difficult to cut though. It probably took me about an hour.... I bet next time it wouldn't take as long though. I did look at this website for instructions on how to cut the butternut squash: One of my favorite things about this dish was how colorful it was. I ended up not adding the extra olive oil in at the end or any pepper. but I bet it would taste good if you did. I just forgot.

Roasted Butternut Squash Orzo
  • 1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeds removed, and cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 small red onion, sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup orzo pasta
  • 1 cup (packed) baby spinach, chopped
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 400 degrees, and line a baking sheet with foil. In a large bowl, toss squash, onion, and garlic with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Spread out in a single layer on the baking sheet, and roast for 40-50 minutes, or until the squash is tender. Give the vegetables a good stir a couple times while they're roasting.

While the squash is roasting, cook the orzo pasta according to directions on the box. Drain and set aside.

After the veggies are done, chop the roasted garlic. Add the squash, onions, garlic, spinach, and cranberries to the orzo. Toss with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.

Crunchy Garlic Chicken
Makes: 6 servings

  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives or parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 cups Whole Grain Total® cereal, crushed (1 cup)
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 6 boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 1 3/4 lb)
1 Heat oven to 425°F. Spray 13x9-inch pan with cooking spray. In shallow dish, mix 2 tablespoons of the butter, the milk, chives, salt and garlic powder.
2 In another shallow dish, mix crushed cereal, parsley and paprika. Dip chicken into milk mixture, then coat lightly and evenly with cereal mixture. Place in pan. Drizzle with remaining 2 tablespoons butter.

3 Bake uncovered 20 to 25 minutes or until juice of chicken is clear when center of thickest part is cut (170°F).

Gingerbread cookies

These were so delicious! Soft, flavorful and had a great time making them :) We left out the pepper and the orange zest, but I think it would be interesting to try it with it another time which is why I left them on. But we rolled them out to about 1/4 inch thick and cooked them for 8 minutes, they were delicious. :)

Gingerbread Cookies

Makes: 24-36 cookies

3-1/2c flour
1t baking soda
1-1/2t cinnamon
1-1/2t ground ginger
1t allspice
1/2t ground cloves
1/2t ground black pepper
1/2t salt
1/2c butter
1/4c shortening
2/3c brown sugar
2/3c molasses
1 egg
1/4t fresh orange zest

  1. Into a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, soda, spices, and salt. Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter, shortening, and brown sugar until fluffy and well-combined. Add the molasses, followed by the egg and orange zest, beating until smooth. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and mix again until combined. With the mixer on low, gradually add in the flour/spice mixture until it all comes together. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
  4. Dust your work surface and rolling pin with flour. Roll the dough out to 1/8-1/4 inch thickness (thinner for crisp cookies, thicker for soft, chewy cookies). Using your favorite cookie cutters, cut the dough into shapes and place on the prepared baking sheets. Roll, cut, and repeat with the remaining dough. Bake in the preheated oven 7-9 minutes or until just cooked through but still soft (mine were perfect at 8 minutes). Carefully remove cookies to a cooling rack. 
Royal Icing
Source: (this is a great tutorial for gingerbread)
Makes: enough for maybe 42 - 50 cookies

2 egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
~ 2-3 cups powdered sugar

Beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar until stiff peaks form. Add in icing sugar and beat until the icing is thick. Pipe onto cookies as desired.