Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Grilled Cheese with Apple

I just knew I couldn't let that heavenly bread I made yesterday just sit around today. So, in the heat of the moment (you know, dinner time comes out of nowhere and you have no idea what you are going to make)I threw together my "go to" meal, grilled cheese. But before I went to my sour dough I grabbed a thick slice of the artisan bread and went to work. Now, being that this was a spur of the moment meal, I just grabbed what I had...

Grilled Cheese with Apple

Artisan bread
sharp cheddar cheese
herb roasted turkey
apple slices

I grilled my sandwich and then added the thin apple slices. I love cheddar and apple together so I thought why not? I LOVED it!! Just a fun subtly twist, and it felt so "Fall"!
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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Sausage and Lentil Soup

My very favorite sausage and lentil soup is at Carrabbas. At a time that I lived no where near a Carrabas, I searched high and low for a recipe that was even close to how delish their soup is. After many attempts, I finally came across this. It isn't the same but it is close! I loved this with the artisan bread below.

Sausage and Lentil soup
(This makes a ton, enough to serve about 10, I would guess)

1 lb. Italian sausage
1 large onion, chopped
1 stalk of celery, chopped
2 large carrots, chopped
1 small zucchini, chopped
6 cups chicken broth, we always add about 2 more
2-14.5 oz cans petite diced canned tomatoes, undrained
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 t salt
2 cups dry lentils, rinsed
black pepper, red pepper flakes, basil, oregano, parsley, and thyme to taste (dried or fresh)

Brown sausage, drain grease. Combine all the ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil. Simmer for 1 hour or until lentils are tender. Add more chicken broth or water to desired consistency. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
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Artisan Bread

I got this recipe off of The Sister's Cafe. I think I just found my new bread heaven! I loved how little I had to do to this bread, how beautifully it turned out and how absolutely delicious it was! Try this bread ASAP, you will not be disappointed.
**My sister-in-law made this using parchment paper underneath the dough instead of a towel and it worked great! This way you just lift the the parchment paper and bread and set it into the pan instead of flipping it in.

Artisan Bread
(Description borrowed from the Sister's Cafe)
Time: About 1½ hours plus 14 to 20 hours’ rising

3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
¼ teaspoon instant yeast
1¼ teaspoons salt
1 5/8 cup water

1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.

2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.

3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.
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Better Than Sex Cake

OK, it's not really, but if you need a chocolate fix this is it! I know that this is a pretty well known recipe and that there are many versions, but this is my favorite one. Besides anything that calls for loads of chocolate and a can of sweetened condensed milk is worthy of my blog!

Better Than Sex Cake

1 box chocolate cake mix (+ whatever it calls for on the back)
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 jar hot fudge sauce
1-8 oz container of cool whip
4 Skor* Bars, crushed (or Heath Bar)

Make and bake cake according to box directions in a 9x13 in pan. As soon as it comes out of the oven, poke holes with the handle of a wooden spoon all over the cake. Pour sweetened condensed milk over the top. Let cool completely. Next spread fudge over the cake, and put in the fridge to set. When it is cool, spread coolwhip over the top and then top with crushed score bars. Refrigerate leftovers. I like this cake better the next day as the cake gets more moist.

* Sorry if this was confusing to some of you!  Apparently I totally spell this candy bar wrong and some people didn't know what in the heck I was talking about!
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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Chicken Pot Pie

This is the ultimate comfort food! I first time I had this was at my BFF Abby's house. I thought I had died and gone to food heaven! It is a Martha Stewart recipe. The flavors are so perfect and comforting and now that it is officially Fall I feel I can start cooking "Fall", if you know what I mean! I borrowed Abby's explanation because she put it into words in a way the made it so easy for me to follow. Here is the link to her blog to see the original explanation. Sometimes to cut down on time I simply cook 3 skinless, boneless chicken breasts shred it and use chicken broth instead of stock thus cutting out the whole cook a whole chicken and debone it thing. I love it both ways so if a whole chicken scares you just use chicken breasts. This recipe is the sole reason I grow Thyme and Flat leaf parsley in my garden! We also got to use our carrots, my boys love that they are eating things that they are growing!

Chicken Pot Pie

I've simplified it here by giving you the three major steps:

Prep time: 1 hour & 20 minutes
Total time: approx. 2 hours

1.) Start cooking the chicken (1 hour cook time)
2.) Mix dough, get it in the fridge (1 hour chill time)
3.) About 20 minutes before chicken is done, cut veggies, chop parsley, measure milk, chicken stock, & flour, get casserole pan ready

STEP 1: Cook Chicken:

3-4 lbs. Chicken
4 c. Chicken Stock (or 4 c. water + 4 bullion cubes)
1 Yellow onion, split in half
2 dry bay leaves
1/2 t. whole black peppercorns (or ground pepper, whatever)
1 small bunch fresh thyme
1 rib celery, cut in 3 pieces

Combine all ingredients above in a large stockpot, add enough water to cover the chicken. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer uncovered 1 hour. When chicken is cooked, remove the chicken and reserve the stock. Remove the skin & bones, shred into bite-size strips, set aside. Strain stock and save for later.

STEP 2: Crust:

1 c. flour
1/4 t. salt
1 T. fresh thyme leaves
10 T. chilled butter, cut into small pieces (1 cube + 2 T. of another cube)
3 T. ice water
1 egg yolk

Pick enough thyme leaves to make 3 Tablespoons. Set 2 Tablespoons aside. Combine flour, salt, thyme either in a food processor or in a medium bowl. Cut in the butter until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add ice water and egg yolk, mix until dough holds together. Try not to over mix. Turn dough out onto plastic wrap, flatten into a circle, wrap well, refrigerate at least 1 hour.

STEP 3: Filling:

5 T. Butter
9 oz. red potatoes, scrubbed, cut into 1/2” pieces
1 large onion, diced (or 12 pearl onions, peeled & cut in half)
1 medium leek, white and light-green parts only, sliced into 1/4” thick rounds
2 carrots, peeled & cut into rounds
6 oz. mushrooms, sliced or cut into chunks


5 T. flour
2 c. reserved chicken stock (save the rest for another use.)
1 c. milk
2 T. fresh thyme
2 T. chopped, fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 t. fresh ground pepper
2 t. salt

Heat oven to 375º. Melt 5 T. butter in large sauté pan or stockpot over medium heat. Add potatoes and onions and cook, stirring occasionally, 4-5 minutes, until potatoes begin to turn golden. Add leeks, carrots, and mushrooms, cooking 4-5 minutes more. Add 5 T. flour, and cook, stirring for 1 minute. Stir in reserved chicken stock and milk, bring to a simmer. Cook until thick and bubbly, stirring constantly, 2-3 minutes. Add reserved chicken pieces, chopped parsley, and remaining thyme, 2 t. salt, and ground pepper. Transfer to a large casserole dish. Set aside.Working quickly so you keep the dough cold, roll out the dough until it is 1/4” thick, transfer to a baking sheet and chill if necessary. Otherwise, place dough over the top of the chicken mixture, tuck extra dough around the edges. Cut slits on top to allow steam to escape. Bake 35-40 minutes, until crust is golden. Serve hot.
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Friday, September 25, 2009

S'more Bars

Oh My! Seriously! These are so good. I found this recipe at This is such a great way to do s'mores. They are so much easier to eat and even better tasting, I think. So instead of going camping, just camp out in your living room with these!

S'more Bars
1 pouch (1 lb 1.5 oz) Betty Crocker® sugar cookie mix
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 cup butter or margarine, melted
3 cups milk chocolate chips (18 oz)
4 1/2 cups miniature marshmallows

Heat oven to 375°F. In large bowl, stir together cookie mix and crumbs. Stir in melted butter until soft dough forms. Press into ungreased 13×9-inch pan.
Bake 18 to 20 minutes or until set. Immediately sprinkle chocolate chips over crust. Let stand 3 to 5 minutes or until chocolate begins to melt.
Spread chocolate evenly over crust.
Set oven control to broil. Sprinkle marshmallows over melted chocolate.
Broil with top 4 to 5 inches from heat 20 to 30 seconds or until marshmallows are toasted. (Watch closely; marshmallows will brown quickly.)
Cool 10 minutes. For bars, cut into 6 rows by 4 rows. Serve warm.
Store any remaining bars tightly covered.
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Monday, September 14, 2009

Lemon Bars

I had some leftover lemons from a punch I made and as I saw them sitting on the counter for 2 days I began to get an immense craving for lemon bars. So I did a little research online and most of the hits I got said that Ina Garten's (Barefoot Contessa) were the best. So I got busy right away. And I must say I have been taking "bites" every half hour since last night. Ridiculous! What have I gotten myself into!

Lemon Bars

For the crust:

1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 cups flour
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

For the filling:

6 extra-large eggs at room temperature
3 cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons grated lemon zest (4 to 6 lemons)
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup flour
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
For the crust, cream the butter and sugar until light in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Combine the flour and salt and, with the mixer on low, add to the butter until just mixed. Dump the dough onto a well-floured board and gather into a ball. Flatten the dough with floured hands and press it into a 9 by 13 by 2-inch baking sheet, building up a 1/2-inch edge on all sides. Chill.
Bake the crust for 15 to 20 minutes, until very lightly browned. Let cool on a wire rack. Leave the oven on.
For the filling, whisk together the eggs, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and flour. Pour over the crust and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the filling is set. Let cool to room temperature.
Cut into triangles and dust with confectioners' sugar.
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Monday, September 7, 2009

Samoas Bars

I am a huge fan of Samoas Girl Scout Cookies so when I saw this recipe at Baking Bites I just couldn't resist trying them. They are yummy and so fun to make. Spreading the coconut and carmel can be tricky, use your hands, greased, it is the only way.

Homemade Samoas Bars

Cookie Base:

1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt

First, make the crust. Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking pan. In a large bowl, cream together sugar and butter, until fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla extract. Working at a low speed, gradually beat in flour and salt until mixture is crumbly, like wet sand. The dough does not need to come together. Pour crumbly dough into prepared pan and press into an even layer. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until base is set and edges are lightly browned. Cool completely on a wire rack before topping.


3 cups shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
14-oz good-quality chewy caramels
1/4 tsp salt
3 1/2 T milk
10 oz. dark or semisweet chocolate (chocolate chips are ok)

Preheat oven to 300. Spread coconut evenly on a baking sheet and toast, stirring every 5 minutes, until coconut is golden. Cool on baking sheet, stirring occasionally. Set aside. Unwrap the caramels and melt with milk and salt either in a sauce pan over low heat or in the microwave. When smooth, fold in toasted coconut with a spatula. Put dollops of the topping all over the shortbread base. Spread into an even layer. I found that greasing my hands and pressing it down was the easiest. Let topping set until cooled. When cooled, cut into 30 bars with a large knife or a pizza cutter (it’s easy to get it through the topping). Once bars are cut, melt chocolate in a small bowl or saucepan stirring often to avoid scorching. Dip the base of each bar into the chocolate and place on wax paper. Transfer all remaining chocolate (or melt a bit of additional chocolate, if necessary) into a piping bag or a ziploc bag with the corner snipped off and drizzle bars with chocolate to finish. Let chocolate set completely before storing in an airtight container.
Makes 30 bar cookies.
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Sunday, September 6, 2009

Chicken Chimichangas

I am a sucker for Mexican food, especially chimichangas. So when my sister said she had a recipe that was great and as close to Cafe D (our favorite Mexican place in California where we grew up) as she has had, I knew I was in for a treat. She was right, these are fantastic!

Chicken Chimichangas

2-3 skinless boneless chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1 1/2 t garlic
1 T + 1/2 t chili powder
1/4 t oregano
1/2 t cumin
1 t salt
1/2 t pepper
4 1/2 oz can green chilies
1 cup jack cheese, shredded

Saute onions and add seasonings. Add chicken and chilies. Put about 1/4 of the chicken mixture and some cheese in a tortilla and roll with the ends tucked in. Cook in hot oil until light brown. Serve with guacamole, salsa, sour cream, etc.

This makes 4 chimichangas
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