Friday, July 1, 2011

Easy Apple Dumplings

Do you remember the dessert list I was working on completing last fall? I compiled a list of about 15-20 desserts that I wanted to attempt to make. Apple dumplings were on the list, but I could never get myself to make them because I wasn't really sure how to core an apple without slicing it and without using a special tool. Then I stumbled across this recipe from my favorite girls over at www.ourbestbites.com and this method could not be simpler and they were utterly addicting. I made a half batch for four of us, thinking that 2 per person would be sufficient, but I am still cursing from not having made the whole batch.

Easy Apple Dumplings
2 medium Granny Smith apples
2 cans crescent rolls
2 sticks butter
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
cinnamon (for sprinkling)
12 oz. (1 can) Mountain Dew or Sprite. I used Sprite, but was only able to find it in a larger bottle unless I wanted to buy a six-pack (which I didn't). Whatever form you buy your soda in, just remember that 12 oz. is 1 1/2 cups.

Preheat oven to 350. Spray a 9×13 pan with non-stick cooking spray. Peel apples and cut into 8ths. I used a vegetable peeler then my apple corer/slicer which just so happens to cut the apple into 8 equal slices. You can, of course, core and slice the apple with a just a knife if you need to.
Open a can of crescent roll dough and carefully separate the dough along the perforations. Place 1/8 of an apple on one segment of dough and then roll/wrap the apple in the dough. (This is where you may need to get a little creative and do a bit of patchwork. Just make sure the apple is sealed inside the dough.) Place in the prepared pan and repeat with remaining apples and dough. Set aside.
In a medium saucepan, melt butter and add sugar and vanilla. Stir to combine. Pour butter/sugar mixture over the apples, then pour the soda, on top of everything. Sprinkle the pan with cinnamon and bake for 40 minutes.
Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and some of the sauce poured on top. If you make the whole batch, plan on sharing. If you make a half batch, I'm sure you can handle it on your own. Your hips might not appreciate it, but your tastebuds will!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Fail-Proof French Bread

This bread totally and completely lives up to its name. I followed the directions and was ready to start the kneading process, when I realized that my pregnant brain had forgotten to add the yeast! I added it then, thinking all was lost and it still turned out delicious, light on the inside and crusty on the outside, and was so simple! This bread will be making more appearances at our house for sure. Thank you Heather from www.themenumama.com for sharing this one!

*Note: you do need a good stand mixer for this one. I was fortunate to finally get my Kitchenaid mixer for my birthday last year. This recipe has very specific instructions that contribute to the light texture and I just don't think it would turn out the same if it was mixed or kneaded by hand.

Fail-proof French Bread
1/2 cup warm water
2 TB yeast
Mix and dissolve, set aside.

2 cups hot water
3 TB sugar
1 TB salt
1/3 cup oil
Put in mixer, dissolve.
Add yeast mixture and 3 cups flour. Beat well.

Add 3 more cups flour. Using the dough hook attachment, beat well to form a soft dough. Don't worry if the dough is more soft than normal bread dough.
Let rest 10 minutes. Stir batter down, let rest 10 minutes. Repeat process of stirring dough, followed by 10 minutes of rest until it has been done a total of 5 times. (If you are the forgetful type, like yours truly, put 5 pieces of tape on the edge of your counter top. Each time your timer goes off to indicate the end of 10 minutes of rest, remove a piece of tape until all the tape is gone.)
Turn dough onto floured board and knead only enough to coat dough with flour. Divide into 2 portions. Toll each portion into a 9x12 inch rectangle. Roll up jelly roll style, omitting the air bubbles. Arrange lengthwise on a greased cookie sheet.

Brush tops with a beaten egg while (optional). Slash 3 times diagonally on each loaf.
Cover, let rise until doubles, about 30 min. Bake at 400 for 35 min.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Beef and Bean Chimichangas

After a much needed, long vacation visiting both families, seeing Yosemite National Park and welcoming my brother home from 2 years in Argentina, I am back to the blogging world. I made these before our trip when my brother-in-law and his wife were visiting. I was pleasantly surprised with the simplicity and deliciousness of these. And, of course, I always love a good Mexican recipe. Since these are not deep fried like most chimichangas, they are relatively healthy. Serve these with a little guacamole, sour cream, and salsa for dipping and some fresh fruit on the side for an easy week night meal.

This recipe comes from www.fortheloveofcooking-recipes.blogspot.com
Beef and Bean Chimichangas
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 lb of lean ground beef
  • 1/2 sweet yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • Dash of red pepper flakes
  • Sea salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste
  • 1 can of chili beans, drained
  • large flour tortillas
  • shredded cheddar cheese
  • guacamole, sour cream, and salsa for dippinga
  • Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the ground beef and break up the meat into crumbles. Add the onion and garlic as well as the seasonings then cook until beef is cooked through, stirring occasionally. Add the drained can of chili beans to the beef mixture and stir until well combined. Set aside.
  • Heat another skillet coated in cooking spray over medium heat. Heat the tortillas in paper towels in the microwave for 20 seconds so they are soft and pliable. Layer the tortilla with some cheese then some beef mixture. Fold in the sides and roll into a burrito, making sure the ends are closed. Place seam side down in the hot skillet and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side until golden brown and slightly crispy. Serve with guacamole, salsa and sour cream. Enjoy.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Spring Pasta

I love to buy whatever produce is in season and find the best ways to use it all up. I have actually been surprised by the quality of produce I've been able to find here in Colorado. This pasta was the result of a fridge full of fresh spring vegetables. You can substitute almost and veggies you like. And if you leave out the chicken you can even make this vegetarian. I love this fast, fresh, healthy, weeknight meal.
Spring Pasta
about 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken
2-3 Tbs. olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small zucchini, chopped
2 tomatoes, diced
parmesan cheese
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 lb. whole wheat pasta

-Put a big pot of salted water onto boil. And cook pasta according to package directions. While water is boiling and pasta is cooking, start the sauce.
-Cut chicken in bite-sized pieces and saute in the olive oil until no longer pink in the middle. Season with salt and pepper while the chicken is cooking.
-About half-way through cooking the chicken, add the onion and cook until translucent.
-Add the garlic when the onions are almost done.
-Add the zucchini and cook until tender.
-At this point you can add whatever other vegetables you want. I added half a jar of chopped artichoke hearts that were in my fridge waiting to be eaten and a few chopped sundried tomatoes as well.
-Add the tomatoes, and cook just until a little soft.
-Drain the pasta and add the chicken and veggie mixture to the hot pasta.
-Toss together with a generous amount of parmesan cheese and freshly ground pepper.
-If the pasta seems too dry you can add a little more olive oil.
Saute the chicken, onion, and garlic,
Add in the zucchini,
Then add the tomatoes and other veggies,
Toss with the pasta and Parmesan cheese,
And serve!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Crepes

I love these because they are so versatile, simple, and delicious! I serve them for breakfast and dinner. You can fill them with savory or sweet fillings (I usually, ok always, opt for the sweet.) I love to whip up a batch and pull out a counter top full of toppings then mix and match until I'm stuffed silly. Fill them with chicken and a creamy sauce and call it dinner, use a fruity filling and call it breakfast, or use nutella or pudding and call it dessert! Here are some of my favorite topping combinations: butter with cinnamon and sugar, bananas and peanut butter, strawberry jam and powdered sugar, strawberries and whipped cream, applesauce and cinnamon, nutella and bananas or strawberries, yogurt and fruit, etc, etc, etc. I think you get the idea. What do you like on your crepes?

Crepes 
(there are a million different versions out there, but this particular one comes from my cousin Stephanie's Tried and True Recipes, submitted by Shauna White.)

1 cup milk
1 1/2 Tbs. melted butter or vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt

In a blender mix the wet ingredients, then add the dry ingredients. Cook about 1/4 at a time on a well-greased frying pan. Swirl the pan around until the batter is very thin. Flip when the edges start to curl up a little bit. Serve with all your favorite toppings!
Mix
Cook
Fill and devour!

Friday, May 27, 2011

PBOCC Cookies

PBOCC, peanut butter oatmeal chocolate chip that is. Mmmm, just seeing those five initials makes me salivate. It all started at the best little cookie shop, The Colorado Cookie Company, in Southlands Mall. (If you live in Colorado, you must stop there the next time you are at Southlands.) They have between 10 and 20 delectable cookie varieties available at any given time. Every time we go to Southlands we stop in for a cookie, and for me it is a PBOCC every time. I have been on the hunt to replicate this cookie since the first time I bit into one. Here it is and it is worth every single calorie!
(As a side note, this recipe doesn't have any flour. I think that makes it gluten free!)

This recipe comes from allrecipes.com and is listed as Monster Cookies. I cut the original recipe in half and had more than enough cookies (about 2 dozen giant cookies!). Here is the halved recipe for ya.
PBOCC Cookies
3 eggs
1 cup plus 5 Tbs. packed brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup butter
1 1/3 cups peanut butter (I used crunchy, but creamy works too!)
4 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips (I added a cup of white chocolate chips as well because I'm crazy like that)

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease cookie sheets. 
-Cream butter and peanut butter together. Add the sugars and stir until well mixed. 
-Add eggs one at a time, then add vanilla. 
-Mix oatmeal and baking soda separately, then stir into batter. 
-Add chocolate chips last. 
-Drop by heaping teaspoons onto cookie sheets. Bake for 12-15 minutes. 
(I made them slightly bigger than golf balls and put 5 on a sheet. Then I pressed them down slightly before baking them and they were big and beautiful!) 


Just 5 on a sheet makes big and beautiful cookies!
My husband and brother-in-law are particular about their cookies, and they would not stop raving about these ones. Seriously. They are the best cookies ever. I'm not joking. Do yourself a favor and go make some.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Classic Potato Salad

This recipe comes from my mother-in-law. She and her mom make it every year. It is a classic and it is oh so good. I don't know if my version quite matches up, but it gets eaten so it must not be too bad.
Potato salad isn't known for being colorful, but it is oh so tasty!

Classic Potato Salad
6-8 potatoes, boiled, peeled, and cut into bite-sized chunks
6 eggs, boiled, cooled, peeled, and chopped
1/4-1/2 cup chopped dill pickles (not sweet!)
1/3-1/2 cup chopped onion (about 1/2 large onion)

Dressing:
2-3 cups mayo
1-2 Tbs. yellow mustard
1/4 pickle juice
salt and pepper

Toss together the salad ingredients. Then mix the dressing ingredients. At this point taste the dressing. If you like it tangier, add more pickle juice. If you like it creamier, add more mayo. If you like more of a kick, add more mustard. Carefully fold the dressing into the salad. Chill until ready to serve. It is best after it has chilled for 3-4 hours.