Friday, December 30, 2011

rush-hour recipes: review and giveaway

Thought I'd disappeared???

Nope.  I was just busy celebrating the holidays, traveling, turning the big 3-0, and letting my husband do the cooking (that's what you do when you are pregnant, right?).  I was also testing out some delicious recipes from one of Gooseberry Patch's newest cookbooks...Rush-Hour Recipes! 

This is an awesome cookbook for those of us who need a quick meal or who want delicious food without spending all day in the kitchen.  I especially appreciated it at this point in my life...I've now got the figure of the Pillsbury Dough Boy and am moving at the pace of a snail.  It was nice to know that I could provide delicious meals for my husband even though I haven't really felt like cooking.  Everything was so easy that I didn't mind being in the kitchen one bit!

Rush-Hour Recipes is full of 230 recipes for those busy times in life.  I love the fact that it includes slow-cooker meals and potluck dishes as well as the run-of-the-mill family dinners.  You can find something for every occasion in this cookbook!  And like all of Gooseberry Patch's signature cookbooks, it's full of those cute little drawings and kitchen tips to make the cookbook just as fun to read straight through as it is to cook from.  I highly recommend it!

Once again, we picked a recipe from each chapter to try out and share with you.  Here they are, each given its own "reward"!

Messiest Main Meal
Crispy Corn Flake Chicken from the chapter "5-Ingredient Favorites"

These chicken legs were easy to assemble and had a wonderful flavor...but boy were they messy!  If you have kids, they'll love them (just make sure to have plenty of napkins on hand).  Being the refined adult that I am (yeah, right!), I think I'll use boneless chicken breasts next time so that I can use a fork and knife.  However you do it, the coating is delish!

Most Comforting
Tuna Tetrazzini from the chapter "One-Dish Dinners"

Tuna casserole is one of those dishes I associate with childhood, so it's perfect on those days when you just want something warm to fill you up.  I made this one when Cookie Bandit had a cold - I'm not sure he could taste much with his sniffles and all, but he ate every bit of it up.  I didn't have a cold, so I can vouch that it was excellent.  I loved how easy it was to put together, how creamy the texture turned out, and how much it reminded me of being a little kid.  It's definitely a must-try.

Most Flavorful
Tony's Peasant Soup from the chapter "Soup's On!" we have a confession regarding this soup.  We didn't actually follow the recipe.  We meant to, but I let Cookie Bandit make out the shopping list.  With him in charge, fresh basil turned into dried, and Italian sausage turned into sausage links.  We went with it though, and absolutely loved it!  I guess it just shows you how versatile this particular recipe is.  It's also an extremely quick fix if you use link sausage and precooked chicken breast like we did.  It was perfect for the one cold day we've had in if the temperature would go down, I'd make it again!

Richest Side Dish
Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes from the chapter "Slow Cookers to the Rescue"

These scalloped potatoes were made in the slow cooker!!!  Can you believe it?  I couldn't!  I was so intrigued by the idea that I just had to try it.  Man, my house smelled amazing that day.  Cookie Bandit walked into the door and just started was all I could do to get him to wait for dinner.  The potatoes cooked perfectly, and the sauce was creamy and delicious.  This recipe makes enough for a crowd, so it's perfect for a potluck!

Best Make-Out Bread
Quick Brown Bread from the chapter "Make-a-Meal Sides"

Odd choice of an award?  Yes.  But let me tell you...every time Cookie Bandit and I ate this bread, we started kissing!!!  We don't know why, but we liked it. :)  He was very, very sad when we finished eating the loaf.  So...just a warning...don't serve this bread to anyone you don't like!  On a more serious note, this bread was a fantastic find.  I whipped it up in about 5 minutes, and it finished baking just in time for the soup to be done.  It's made with all whole wheat and flavored with molasses, so it passed my "relatively healthy" test.  And, it's amazing in the morning with jam or Nutella.  Loved, loved, loved it!

Most Crowd Pleasing
Very Best Texas Caviar from the chapter "Speedy Potluck & Party Foods"

This stuff was so good!  It took just minutes to assemble, made tons of servings, and stole the show as the most colorful thing on the dinner table.  I ate it as an appetizer with tortilla chips, slopped it on top of my nachos, and later ate it straight up as a side.  Either way, I thought it was delicious.  The nice thing about making this dish yourself is that you can adjust the heat by changing how much jalapeno you include.  It's also a great source of fiber and veggies.  Lately, it's been unusual for me to go gaga over a vegetable, but I really loved this.

Cookie Bandit gets to pick which one of the above recipes I share with you.  It didn't take long for him to decide on his overall favorite...of course he picked the bread!  What husband doesn't love kissing his wife??? :) 

 Combine the milk and vinegar and let it just sit and coddle...or, use straight up buttermilk instead!  Your pick!

Mix together the whole-wheat flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda...

Mix together the egg, molasses, and shortening or oil with the buttermilk mixture...

Then combine the wet and dry ingredients and pour the batter into a greased loaf pan!

Thirty minutes later at 350 degrees, your bread is done!

Be sure to try some warm and slathered in honey butter...yum.

Quick Brown Bread
From Gooseberry Patch's Rush-Hour Recipes
1 cup milk
1 T. white vinegar
2 cups whole-wheat lour
1 t. salt
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup molasses
1/4 cup shortening, melted and cooled, or oil

Combine milk and vinegar in a small bowl; let stand for a few minutes.  In a separate large bowl, combine flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.  Mix thoroughly and set aside.  Add remaining ingredients to milk mixture.  Add milk mixture to flour mixture; stir just enough to barely mix.  Pour batter into a well-greased 9"x5" loaf pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center tests clean.  Makes one loaf. can YOU win a free copy of Rush-Hour Recipes?  Just leave me a comment answering the following question - which of the other recipes featured above would you like me to share?  I'll tally up the answers and share that recipe when I announce the winner!  (Please also make sure I have access to a valid e-mail so that I can contact you if you win.  No contact info, no entry!)  Giveaway ends January 8 at midnight (Central time).  Winner announced Monday, January 9.

PS - Gooseberry Patch gave me a free book to review as well as another to give away, but the views and opinions (and pictures!) presented in this post are entirely my own!   Disclosure...check!

Monday, November 21, 2011

sourdough mushroom dressing

It's Thanksgiving week!!!  Last year for Thanksgiving, my husband and I were in New Zealand.  We couldn't find turkey anywhere (not even lunch meat!), so our Thanksgiving dinner consisted of Pad Thai in a mall.  Haha!

This year, we fortunately get to enjoy a classic American Thanksgiving, turkey and all.  I have to admit, one of my favorite parts of Thanksgiving dinner is the dressing or stuffing.  I don't really care which you give me...I'd be satisfied if that's all there were on my plate.

This recipe is inspired by Chef Bobby Flay's own recipe for dressing.  I didn't get to see his show down with Pioneer Woman, but I did go online and look through all of their recipes.  His sourdough dressing caught my eye.  Mine isn't exactly like his (I made it a little easier), but my goodness it was delicious!

First, chop up some sourdough bread into cubes...I say, leave the crusts on!

Spread the bread cubes onto a cookie sheet in an even layer and bake at 350 degrees until they are lightly golden (about 10-12 minutes or so).  Let these cool off, and then add them to a large bowl.

Meanwhile, bust out some mushrooms!  You can use whatever kind you'd like.  I chose to mix some regular pre-sliced button mushrooms with some portobello.  You want to clean them and slice or chop them.

Pour some oil into the mushrooms and coat evenly. 

Spread the mushrooms on a baking sheet (might as well use the same one your bread was on), and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Bake at 375 degrees for about 25 minutes or until they are nicely roasted.  Be sure to stir them around on occasion to keep them from sticking.  They are done when they are tender and browned.

While the mushrooms are in the oven, chop up some bacon into a skillet and cook.  We loved using peppered bacon in this recipe!

When the bacon begins to turn brown, toss in some slices of onion and minced garlic.  Continue cooking and stirring until the bacon is nice and crispy and the onion is tender.

Remove the bacon and onion from the skillet with a slotted spoon and place on a plate lined with a paper towel to let as much fat run off as possible.

Deglaze your hot skillet by pouring some chicken broth in and bringing it to a boil.  Add some herbs - I just threw in a couple of liberal shakes of thyme, sage, parsley, and rosemary.  Fresh herbs work wonders here as well!

Now for the magic!  Combine the bread cubes, mushrooms, bacon and onions, broth mixture, and a few slightly beaten eggs in a large bowl and mix together.

Place your dressing into a greased casserole dish and cover with foil.  Bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees.  Then, remove the foil and continue baking until the top is nice and browned (another 30-40 minutes).

The outcome is out-of-this-world delicious!

Sourdough Mushroom Dressing
1 lb. sourdough bread, cut into cubes
1 1/2 pounds of mushrooms (pick your favorite or use a variety)
2 T. canola oil
salt and pepper (to taste)
1/2 to 3/4 pound bacon, cut into small pieces
1 large onion, sliced
5 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups chicken broth
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
herbs to taste (i.e. thyme, rosemary, sage, parsley) - use liberally

Spread bread cubes onto a cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove and place in a large bowl.

Combine mushrooms, oil, salt and pepper; spread onto a cookie sheet and bake at 375 degrees for about 25 minutes or until tender and browned.

In a large skillet, cook and stir bacon pieces.  When bacon begins to brown, add onion and garlic.  Continue cooking until bacon is crispy and onion is tender.  Remove with a slotted spoon and place on a plate lined with a paper towel.

Pour chicken broth into hot skillet and bring to a simmer.  Liberally add herbs (either fresh or dried).

Combine bread, mushrooms, bacon, onions, broth mixture, and eggs in a large bowl; mix well.  Spread into a greased casserole dish and cover with foil.  Bake at 350 for 20 minutes; remove foil and continue baking until golden brown (another 30-40 minutes).

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

hey, honey!

This Week's Cravings features honey!!!  I actually looked through my recipes and realized that very few of them call for honey.  This surprised me...we love honey!  I think we tend to just put it on things...cornbread, fried chicken, biscuits, you name it.

But, there was ONE recipe that I've featured that did call for honey...and it's one that we loved so much that my husband has been requesting it recently.  Guess I'm pulling out the honey jar!  That recipe is the cookie known as ANZAC Biscuits.  They are an Australian treat, and eating them brings back memories of our recent trip to New Zealand.  This is a wonderfully chewy, dense cookie with an incredible flavor.  They also freeze well, last a LONG time (even after a few weeks, the leftovers are still chewy!), and have the power to trick you into thinking that you are eating a granola bar instead of a cookie.

First, you combine some oats, flour, sugar, and coconut in a bowl - see what I mean about tricking yourself into thinking it's a granola bar?!

In a small cup, combine some baking soda with boiling water and watch it fizzle.

Meanwhile, in a saucepan, stir some butter and either honey, corn syrup, or maple syrup together until the butter melts.

Add the baking soda mixture to the butter mixture and watch it foam!  Pour it all into the the oat mixture and mix well.

It will look crumbly...this is a good thing.

Shape into 1 1/2 inch balls and place at least 2-inches apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Parchment paper is important here to keep them from sticking (remember...parchment paper is not waxed paper).

Bake at 300 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until they get nice and golden around the edges.  Store in an airtight container to keep fresh!

ANZAC Biscuits
in Gooseberry Patch's Best-Ever Cookies
1 cup long-cooking oats, uncooked
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1/2 cup butter
2 T. maple syrup, honey, or corn syrup
1/2 t. baking soda
1 T. boiling water

Combine oats, flour, sugar and coconut in a bowl; set aside.  In a saucepan over medium-low heat, stir butter and syrup or honey together until butter melts.  In a small cup, mix together baking soda and boiling water; add to butter mixture.  Add butter mixture to oat mixture; mix well.  Roll into 1-1/2 inch balls and place 2 inches apart on parchment paper-lined baking sheets.  Bake at 300 degrees for 20 minutes.  Cookies will keep for several weeks in an airtight container.  Makes about 2-1/2 dozen.

Friday, September 9, 2011

spinach supreme

Spinach is good for you...we all know that.  It's just eating it that seems to be difficult.  Growing up, we ate it out of a can (very exciting, let me tell you).  As an adult, I started eating it as a salad.  Both ways became boring to me.

Fortunately, spinach is a versatile vegetable!  After playing around a bit, we discovered that this is an absolutely delicious way to eat it.

First, saute some mushrooms and onion in butter until they are tender.  Love the aromas coming from this skillet!

Stir in some salt and pepper, and then dump some fresh spinach into the skillet!  Stir it around until it starts to wilt.

Just a brief minute later, and you've got an amazing side dish!

Spinach Supreme
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
1 onion, chopped
1 T. butter
5 oz. fresh spinach
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper

In a large skillet, saute mushrooms and onion in butter until tender.  Stir in salt and pepper.  Add spinach and stir gently until wilted, 2-3 minutes.  Serves 2.
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