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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Danish Rice Pudding!

I cannot believe I forgot to post about the Danish rice pudding with our Christmas Eve dinner!!! Once my mom saw that posting, she emailed me and told me I forgot the best part!

So for Christmas Eve (or sometimes New Years Eve), we make Danish rice pudding for dessert. What makes it special on Christmas Eve is that we hide one blanched almond in the pudding (or just put it in one of the bowls—so we don't have to eat it all), and whoever gets the almond gets a prize! If you get the almond, you're supposed to hide it in your mouth until everyone is done eating. This year Stew got the almond! He quickly put it in my bowl and told everyone I got it. Silly. A box of chocolates and a card game was the prize this year!

I don't have a picture of the rice pudding (which I think is why I forgot to post about it), but it looks like...rice pudding. So use your imagination or Google if you need to.

Danish Rice Pudding
(or Porridge, but I think that sounds gross)

Ingredients:
2 cups rice
6 cups milk (my mom uses skim and it turns out just as good)
1 cup cream
1 tsp salt

Directions:
Cook rice and milk together in a heavy pan, about one hour (taste it to see if the rice is done, sometimes it takes longer, just be patient). Add more milk if it gets too stiff.
When rice is done, add the cream and salt. Stir together.
Serve HOT (it gets really stiff when it's cool) with cinnamon and sugar, and butter if desired.

*We like to eat the leftovers for breakfast, just add a little milk and microwave it!

How to blanch an almond:
Put a few almonds in a cup of very hot tap water (I say a few because sometimes one doesn't work). In a few minutes, you'll be able to slip the skin right off!

It's not too late to make this for New Years Eve!! Well, maybe it is a little late...but make it soon, you'll love it!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Caramel Potatoes and Danish Christmas Eve Dinner

My grandpa is part Danish, so we make a Danish Christmas Eve dinner. My mom has modified it over the years, taking out the dishes she didn't like (like the pickled cabbage). We always include Danish Browned Potatoes (caramel potatoes—recipe follows), a nice tender pork roast (my mom puts it in the oven the night before around 200º), green beans, applesauce (with red or green sugar sprinkled on it for festivity), and a sparkling drink. The caramel potatoes are a family favorite! I was glad to be able to share the tradition with Stew this year. He absolutely loved the potatoes! He took pictures of the steps, so I will share the recipe! I need to make these more than once a year!

Danish Caramel Potatoes

Ingredients:
1 large can of whole potatoes, drained (we've found the store-brand potatoes aren't as high-quality)
1/4 cup sugar
2 Tbsp butter
* We ALWAYS use at LEAST four cans, so just multiply the recipe. We used seven cans this year!

Directions:
Brown sugar and butter in a deep skillet over medium heat. This may take awhile.

See the dark runny caramel in the middle of the pan? It should all look like this before you add the potatoes.

Once the caramel is browned, add the potatoes (careful- they splatter! Don't burn yourself!).

After the potatoes are added, it looks like it won't work and the caramel clumps, but just be patient, the caramel eventually spreads. Stir the potatoes until hot and brown and covered completely in caramel. This is what they will look like when they're almost done.
* These potatoes don't make great leftovers, so eat up!

As usual, let us know if you make these! We'd love to hear what you think!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Thai Chicken Peanut Noodles

This recipe has been staring at me for months and last night I finally decided to make it. I'm SO glad I did! It tastes like it came straight from a restaurant, but better! I think I could eat this every day! Too bad there are no leftovers for me for lunch! And this recipe was so easy, especially because I used leftover spaghetti (just stick the noodles with a little olive oil in the freezer)! It's peanut-y, but Stew (who doesn't really like peanut-y things) loved it! Plus it's healthy, with wheat spaghetti noodles and all the veggies, and I omitted the oils called for in the other recipe.
Here is the recipe with my modifications:

Thai Chicken Peanut Noodles

Ingredients
1 pound whole wheat thin spaghetti noodles
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 (1 inch) piece of fresh ginger, peeled (I didn't have this and just used 1 tsp of ground ginger, but I think the fresh would be fantastic!)
1/2 cup peanut butter (I used crunchy, but next time will use smooth)
1/4 cup soy sauce, or more to taste
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp rice vinegar
1/2–1 tsp cayenne pepper (I used just under 1 tsp and it was the perfect amount of heat)
1/2–1 cup hot water (depending on how thick you like the sauce, I did about 3/4 cup)
1/2 cup finely chopped white onion
1/2 cup finely chopped bell pepper (the original recipe called for red or orange, but I used green)
2 carrots, finely chopped
2 stalks of celery, finely chopped
Water chestnuts (we decided these would be good as well)
2–4 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded (I say 2–4 because I did 2, but I think I used less pasta as well)
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
1/4 cup dry roasted peanuts, chopped
Sesame seeds for garnish
Salt to taste

Directions
Place garlic and ginger in a food processor until well chopped. Add peanut butter, soy sauce, brown sugar, vinegar, and cayenne pepper. Pulse until well combined and slowly add hot water (I only added 1/2 cup here, I did the other 1/4 at the end to thin it out). Set aside.
Saute onion, bell pepper, carrots, and celery in a hot skillet over medium heat (with a small amount of vegetable oil, if needed) for about five minutes, or until soft. Stir in chicken breast and noodles. Then add cilantro and chopped peanuts. Garnish with sesame seeds.


Give it a try, it won't disappoint!!

: : Update: This recipe also works with thin strips of beef instead of chicken. : :

Monday, December 14, 2009

Christmas Treats

I've been baking up a storm lately! I think all the festive cookie recipes I see on blogs makes me feel like I have to bake them during the holidays, so I have to hurry. I made three batches of dough on Friday and two more on Sunday that I baked for Stew's coworkers. So far I've made:
Andes Creme de Menthe Chunk Cookies
Lime Meltaway Cookies
World Peace Cookies
Soft Gingersnaps (Stew's boss said these were some of the best cookies he'd ever had!)
Chocolate Peppermint Crunch Cookies

For the Chocolate Peppermint Crunch Cookies, I used the Chocolate Rolo Cookie recipe, adding 1/2 tsp salt to the dough. Then I rolled them in crushed candycanes. These cookies are amazing. We're making them a Christmas tradition now. They taste like mint Oreos, but better!

Stew wanted to take his coworkers a small Christmas gift. He thought sugar cookies (cut out and frosted) was too much work, so we did gingersnaps and chocolate peppermint crunch cookies. When he found out we didn't have paper plates, he thought he would have to wait to take the cookies to work. I said we could just wrap them in cellophane. After I wrapped the first batch he thought I was so creative and crafty that he took a bunch of pictures, so here they are. [By the way, I don't think this is such a creative idea...these pictures are for him]

Place small stack of cookies in the center of a square of cellophane.

Gather four corners up and pinch above the cookies.

Tie a knot with ribbon where you're pinching the cellophane.

Curl the ribbon. Cute simple gift!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Crunchy Mexican Chicken

I found this recipe on a blog and thought, “why haven't I thought of that before?”. Chicken coated in tortilla chips, baked and topped with a little cheese, and salsa. YUM! [Sorry for the bad picture, it was steamy!]


Ingredients for chicken:
3 Tbsp. lime juice (I was out of lime and used lemon)
3 Tbsp. honey
1 tsp chili powder
1/2–1 tsp cayenne (my addition)
2 chicken breasts
1/2 cup crushed tortilla strips
1/4 cup cheese (pepper jack or cheddar)

Directions:
Mix lime juice, honey, chili powder and cayenne in a bowl and pour it over chicken. Marinate at least ten minutes (I did ten minutes, but if I would have thought ahead would have done one hour). Roll chicken in crushed chips. Bake at 425º for 15 minutes. Sprinkle with cheese and broil until cheese is melted. If tortilla chips get too dark, cover with foil.

Ingredients for salsa:
1/3 cup diced tomatoes
1/3 cup salsa
1/4 cup cilantro
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp oregano

Directions:

Blend together. Bring to a boil.

Place chicken on a plate, top with sauce, and garnish with cilantro.

*This salsa was so good!! We ate it with chips too!

Chocolate Rolo Cookies

I saw this recipe on The Sisters Dish and had to try it, because I've made Rolo cookies before, but not with chocolate dough!!!

I don't think there was anything I would change about the recipe, except maybe reduce the sugar a little (almost as much sugar as flour!). The dough recipe is really easy and fast to make, and it is really tasty and would be good for other recipes too!

Chocolate Rolo Cookies

Ingredients:
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup butter, softened
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
2 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup cocoa
13 oz. bag of Rolos, unwrapped
sugar to roll cookies in

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375º. Blend sugar, brown sugar and butter together in a bowl. Add eggs and vanilla and blend well. Add flour, soda, cocoa and blend well. Take a spoonful of cookie dough and wrap around a rolo. Roll into a ball, making sure the Rolo is covered. Roll in sugar. Bake for 7–10 minutes.
* Make sure to let them cool a little bit, or the hot melted Rolo will burn your mouth!
* You can pop them in the microwave for about 15 seconds to eat them warm again! But they're super delicious room temperature, too.

By the way, these were gone the next day (we shared). I think we were eating them instead of meals. SO GOOD!

Pepper Jack Chicken Pizza


Last Saturday I wanted to make Liz's BBQ Chicken Pizza. To my dismay I didn't have any mozzarella or monterey jack cheese, so I just made up a new pizza. It turned out really good! It's spicy, but not too spicy (you can vary the heat with cayenne).

Pepper Jack Chicken Pizza

Ingredients:
Pizza dough (recipe follows)
1–2 cans of tomato sauce (depending on how saucy you like it)
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce (eyeball it)
2–3 Tbsp hot sauce (I didn't have this, I used a spicy spice mix I had, but I would do hot sauce next time)
cayenne pepper (might not be needed if you do hot sauce)
Chicken, cooked and cubed or shredded (I used canned chicken)
1–2 cups pepper jack cheese, shredded
Cheddar cheese, shredded (optional)
Green pepper, diced
Onion, diced
Other toppings: red pepper, jalepe
ño (if you wanted to go spicier), etc.
Cilantro

Directions:
Preheat oven to 425º. Make pizza dough and roll out on a pizza pan or cookie sheet. Combine tomato sauce, Worcestershire, hot sauce, cayenne. To half of this, coat the chicken. Spread sauce on top of dough with a big spoon, top with coated chicken. Sprinkle most of the cheese evenly over the pizza. Top with peppers, onions, etc. Bake for 15 minutes on the lowest oven rack. Sprinkle with cilantro and bake another five minutes. Top with more cilantro before serving, if desired.

Liz's Basic Pizza Dough
1 Tbsp active dry yeast (I like to use fast-acting yeast)
1 cup warm (105–115 degrees) water
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp honey
1/4 tsp salt
3–4 cups flour (I like using half white and half whole wheat!)

Mix yeast and water in bowl. Cover and let stand until foamy, about five to ten minutes. Mix in the oil, honey and salt to the yeast mixture. If using a KitchenAid or Bosch mixer, add one cup of flour at a time. If mixing by hand with a wooden spoon, add all three cups at once. If the dough seems too wet, add more flour 1/4 cup at a time. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead in more flour, about 1/4 cup at a time, until the dough is moderately stiff and somewhat firm to the touch. Lightly grease pizza pan(s) or cookie sheet(s). I like to sprinkle the pan with cornmeal, I think it adds a lot! Using a rolling pin, roll our the dough to fit the pans. Let the dough rise (it won't rise very much) while you make the sauce.

Let us know if you make this, and what changes/alterations you make!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Crock Pot Cranberry BBQ Chicken


This is a great crock pot chicken recipe! You can never have enough of those! I love coming home to a hot meal that's ready to eat!

Ingredients:
4 chicken breasts
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2–4 stalks of celery, diced
1/2 an onion, diced
1 (16 oz) can of whole cranberry sauce
1 cup barbecue sauce

Directions:
Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker. Cook on high for 3–4 hours or low for 6–10 hours.
You can strain some of the sauce and and flour or corn starch to thicken it (always add corn starch to cold water before adding to hot liquid!), the gravy is good over mashed potatoes.

Bittersweet Chocolate Pecan Pie

Pecan pie just got a lot more exciting.
I made this for Thanksgiving this year and it was a hit. Pecan pie lovers loved it, and pecan pie haters loved it! Thanksgiving's over, but give it a try!

Ingredients:
4–8 oz. good-quality 60–70%-cacao bittersweet chocolate (I used Ghiradelli chips)
Pastry dough (my mom's recipe follows)
2 cups pecan halves, toasted and cooled (toasting brings out flavor: 350° for 10–15 minutes)
3 eggs
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar (I used dark because I didn't have dark corn syrup)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup dark corn syrup (I used light)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375° with rack in middle. Melt most of the chocolate in a metal bowl set over a small pot of barely simmering water, stirring (this went way faster than I thought it would). Remove from heat.
Roll out dough on waxed paper and put in pie pan (a little trick: put the pie pan on the dough, then flip them over together). My edges aren't very decorative, but you can make yours festive.
Spread chocolate in bottom of pie shell with back of spoon and let it set for a few minutes.
Whisk together eggs, brown sugar, vanilla and salt in a bowl, then whisk in corn syrup.
Cover chocolate with pecans. Pour mixture over pecans.

Bake pie until filling is puffed and crust is golden, about 50–60 minutes (if the crust is browning too fast, wrap edges loosely with foil). Melt the rest of the chocolate and drizzle over the pie. Serve warm or room temperature.

Pumpkin Blondies


I've been meaning to post this recipe for a while. I'm not in “pumpkin mode” anymore, but it's still a delicious recipe! Although, if I were making it again I think I'd try cutting the butter in HALF! It probably wouldn't turn out as good, but I'd rather have it a little healthier...that's just so much butter!

PUMPKIN BLONDIES

Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp pumpkin pie spice (I didn't have this so I mixed cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves)
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature (or maybe half the butter and 1/4 cup applesauce or more pumpkin? If anyone tries this let me know)
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup butterscotch chips

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350°. Line bottom and sides of 9x13 baking pan with foil, leaving overhang on all sides. With an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar on medium speed until smooth; beat in egg and vanilla until combined. Beat in pumpkin puree (the batter looks lumpy after this). Reduce speed to low and mix in flour, spices, soda, and salt until just combined. Fold in chips.

Spread batter evenly in pan. Bake 30–40 minutes (if I remember right, mine took closer to 40 minutes), until edges begin to pull away from sides of pan and toothpick inserted in center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached. Cool completely in pan (do I ever do this? No. But I did let them cool a little, they are really soft).

Lift cake from pan, using foil. Peel off foil and use a serrated knife to cut into squares.

Enjoy!