Thursday, May 31, 2012

the harvest table: we have a winner!

We have a winner!!!
Congratulations to - you've won a free copy of The Harvest Table!  I hope the rest of you will look for this cookbook in stores - it is amazing.
Our winner wanted to see the recipe for Campfire Stew, but most of the rest of you wanted me to reveal either the sweet potatoes or the cornbread dressing.  It was close, but the winning recipe was...drum roll please...Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes!!!  
Cut two sweet potatoes in half and lay cut-side down on a foil-lined baking dish.  Bake these for about 30 minutes or until they get nice and tender.

Scoop the pulp from the insides, leaving about 1/4 inch thick potato shells.  Be careful not to tear the skins (I was guilty of this...).

Place the pulp in a bowl and mash with cream cheese, milk, brown sugar, and cinnamon.  Yum!

Spoon the mixture back into the potato shells and then sprinkle with chopped pecans.  I think coconut would also be a good addition.

Bake for another 8 minutes, and you've got yourself a beautiful side dish!

Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes
from Gooseberry Patch's The Harvest Table
 2 sweet potatoes, halved lengthwise
1/4 cup Neufchatel or cream cheese, cubed
2 T. milk
1 T. brown sugar, packed
1/4 t. cinnamon
1/4 cup chopped pecans 

Place sweet potatoes cut-side down in an aluminum foil-lined 9"x9" baking pan.  Bake, uncovered, at 425 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes, until tender and potatoes are pulling away from potato skins.  Scoop potato pulp into a bowl, leaving 1/4-inch thick potato shells.  Arrange potato shells in pan; set aside.  Add cheese, milk, brown sugar, and cinnamon to potato pulp; mash until blended.  Spoon potato mixture into shells; top with nuts.  Bake, uncovered, for 8 minutes, or until potatoes are heated through and nuts are toasted.  Serves 4.

Monday, May 21, 2012

chocolate bit meringues

When I was in college, my roommate Lauren would get these amazing care packages.  Huge boxes would come in the mail, and there was always homemade food inside.  She was generally pretty possessive of these gifts (who wouldn't be?), but on occasion she let me have a taste of whatever treat happened to be in the box that month.  One of my favorites was these chocolate bit meringues.

What makes these little cookies so special?'s what's inside.

That's right.  Inside that beautiful white meringue are huge chunks of chocolate (and cornflakes for an added crunch).  They are delicious!

I talked Lauren into giving me the recipe, and now I'm sharing it with you.  So treat yourself (or a loved one) to a huge care package full of these...they'll definitely brighten up your day. :)

To make, add some salt and vanilla to egg whites.

Using a mixer, beat the egg whites until they get frothy.

Gradually, sprinkle in sugar while beating until the meringue gets glossy and forms very stiff peaks.

Then, dump in your chocolate and corn flakes.  You can use chocolate chunks or chocolate chips.  And you could even use other cereals.  I think next time I make these, I'm going to try them with rice crispies...yum!  Ooooh, and what about butterscotch chips?  Dark chocolate?

Lol...anyway, I'm getting ahead of myself.  Pick your add-ins (in this case, chocolate chips and cornflakes) and carefully fold them into your egg whites.

Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto greased parchment paper and bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes.

When you pull them out of the oven, they should be slightly browned and have a hard, cracking shell.

Chocolate Bit Meringues
3 egg whites
1 1/2 cup sugar
3 cups cornflakes
1/4 t. salt
1/4 t. vanilla
1 cup semisweet chocolate bits

Add salt and vanilla to egg whites; beat until frothy.  Sprinkle in sugar while beating to a very stiff and glossy meringue.  Fold in chocolate bits and corn flakes.  Drop onto well-greased cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

easy chicken and dumplings

I know it's hot outside, but I can only go so long without warm comfort food.  (I've never been one of those people who could live on salads all summer long.)  So, despite the fact that it's 90 degrees outside here in Dallas, I cranked up the air conditioner and made some delicious chicken and dumplings.

This recipe is from Gooseberry Patch's Simple Shortcut Recipes.  This is a fantastic book of recipes, each featuring a shortcut to speed up your cooking time.  It's even got a recipe from me in there! :)  If you see it in stores, definitely check it out.

To make the chicken and dumplings, start by combining chicken broth, cooked chicken, cream of chicken soup, and seasonings in a large pot.  Bring this all to a boil.

Add a stick of butter (I actually think the soup would taste just fine without this if you wanted to cut the fat) and some delicious veggies.  Simmer for 15 minutes.

Here's where the shortcut comes in...two tubes of biscuits!  Flatten out each biscuit and cut into strips.

Add the biscuit strips one at a time to the pot.  Cover and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes.

The result is a hearty and satisfying soup (even in 90 degree weather). :)

Easy Chicken & Dumpling Soup
From Gooseberry Patch's Simple Shortcut Recipes
64-oz. can chicken broth
6 cups cooked chicken, diced  
2 cans (10 3/4 oz. each) cream of chicken soup
1/2 t. poultry seasoning, or salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup butter
6 carrots, peeled and diced
6 stalks celery, diced
1 onion, chopped
2 tubes (10.2 oz. each) refrigerated jumbo buttermilk biscuits

In a large soup pot over medium-high heat, combine broth, chicken, soup and seasonings; bring to a boil.  Add butter and vegetables.  Cover; reduce heat to low.  Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes.  Increase heat to medium-high; return to a low boil.  Place biscuits on a lightly floured surface.  Flatten each biscuit to 1/8-inch thick; cut into 1/2-inch wide strips.  Drop strips, one at a time, into the boiling broth mixture.  Cover and reduce heat to low; simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent dumplings from sticking.  Serves 6 to 8.

Monday, May 14, 2012

sprite bread

I love, love, love beer bread.  But, I don't love beer.  As you can imagine, this poses a problem.  Since we don't like beer, we never buy it.  And since we never buy it, I never make beer bread. :(

 I finally came up with a solution.  I like Sprite...we buy Sprite...why not make Sprite bread?

I love making this bread to go alongside soups or salads, and I think it actually tastes better than beer bread.  You can technically use any soda (once I used Dr. Pepper to make it look more like whole, but we think Sprite is hands-down the best.

In a large bowl, mix self-rising flour, sugar, an egg, and some Sprite.  Notice how everything fizzes up when you add the Sprite in - it's like a science experiment!

Put the mixture into a greased loaf pan and top with a tablespoon of melted butter.

Bake it for 45 minutes and voila!

For a really hearty meal, enjoy it with a large bowl of chili.  It's the perfect thing to warm up a cool night or to fill you up when you don't have much time for cooking.

Sprite Bread
  • 2 1/2 cups self-rising flour
  • 3 T. sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 12 oz. Sprite
  • 1 T. butter, melted

Mix flour, sugar, egg, and Sprite; pour into greased loaf pan.  Pour butter over top of batter.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes, or until top is cracked and golden.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

tavern burgers

I have this folder where I stuff recipes that I've found in magazines or books or you have one of those?  I'll find a recipe, think "I should try that someday", and then stuff it in this folder, never to look at it again.  Well, the other day, I finally got out that folder!  There's tons of great stuff in there, including this recipe for Tavern Burgers that I got from a Gooseberry Patch calendar.

This recipe intrigued me because it required few ingredients and very little time.  Perfect!

You start by browning a pound of ground beef in one tablespoon oil.

Once the meat is browned, add one cup of chicken broth, one teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, one teaspoon paprika, and a little bit of salt and pepper.  You basically let it simmer until all the liquid is gone.

To serve, spread some mustard on a bun.  (Note: We used hamburger buns, but I'll probably use hoagie buns next time.  These were difficult to eat as a hamburger because the filling kept falling out!)

Put the filling on the bun, and top with onions and pickles.

Voila!  A hearty dinner that required very little effort or time.  I served these with some homemade French fries to make the meal complete.

Tavern Burgers
A Gooseberry Patch recipe
1 T. oil
1 lb. ground beef
1 cup chicken broth
1 t. paprika
1 t. Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper to taste
2 t. mustard
4 hamburger buns, split
1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
1 dill pickle, sliced

Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Add ground beef, breaking apart as it browns; drain.  Add chicken broth, paprika, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper; bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Spread 1/2 teaspoon mustard on top half of each bun; set aside.  Spoon ground beef mixture evenly among 4 buns; top with onion, dill pickle and top half of bun.  Serves 4.
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