November 28, 2010

Artichoke Sesame Dipping Sauce

Artichokes

One of my spawn requested artichokes as a snack and since I love my little demons, I was quick to agree.  Plus?  They’re a vegetable full of anti-oxidants, ranking as the number one vegetable in anti-oxidant count.  This thorny leaved vegetable has also been reputed to help in the cure of liver disease.  Let’s not forget fiber; one medium artichoke has more fiber than a cup of prunes, and lets face it an artichoke is a lot more fun to eat than a cup of prunes!  I wasn’t sure what to serve with these beauties and tested this recipe I found at Epicurious and was instantly hooked.

Dipping Sauce

  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt

Mix well and enjoy

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Not sure how to prepare an artichoke?  I read how at Simply Recipes:

1.  Cut the stem off the bottom end, leaving up to an inch attached to the artichoke.  Then cut off about 3/4 inch off the tip.  Using kitchen shears trim off the thorny ends of each leaf.

2.  Put a couple inches of water in a large pot with a slice or two of lemon, a bay leaf and a clove of garlic.  Insert a steaming basket and add the artichokes to the basket. 

3.  Cover, bring to a boil then reduce to simmer.

4.  Depending on the size of your artichoke, cook between 20-45 minutes or until the outer leaves can be pulled off easily.

I’ve only eaten whole artichokes one other time and I couldn’t’ remember just how to eat one so the fact that the cooking instructions also came with eating instructions was immensely helpful!

1.  Pull off one leaf at a time and dip the white fleshy end into your sauce.  Gripping the other end of the leaf, pull through your teeth to remove the soft pulpy portion.  Discard the remaining leaf and continue until all the leaves have been eaten.

2.  Once you’ve reached the heart of your artichoke, you’ll see a “pod” of fur.  Using a knife cut all the way around the furry part, much like you’d cut a grapefruit.  Then, using a spoon scoop the furry section out.  Cut the remaining soft stem part into pieces, dip and enjoy.

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November 27, 2010

Pecan Pie Bars

Pecan Pie BarsFound at The Girl Who Ate Everything; seriously, that’s the coolest name for a blog!  I really wanted pecan pie for Thanksgiving this year, but with the banana cream pie request (and a pumpkin pie that never made it past the request stage) I knew we’d have way too much pie in the house.  I figured these bars would be perfect to have a bite or two of, then I could cut them up and freeze to last way past the turkey leftovers! 

Crust:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup white sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup butter (10 2/3 Tablespoons)

Filling:
3 eggs
1 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 2/3 cups chopped pecans

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

1.  Spray a 9X13 baking dish with cooking spray.

2.  In a large bowl, stir together the flour, 1/3 cup sugar, and salt. Cut in 2/3 cup butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. You can use a pastry blender or just two knives. Sprinkle the mixture evenly over the prepared pan, and press in firmly.

3.  Bake for 20 minutes in the preheated oven.

4.  While the crust is baking, prepare the filling. In a large bowl mix together the eggs, corn syrup, 1/2 cup white sugar, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 2 tablespoons margarine, and vanilla until smooth. Stir in the chopped pecans. Spread the filling evenly over the crust as soon as it comes out of the oven.

5.  Bake for 25-30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until set. You’ll want these cooked all the way through so make sure the middle is set. If the top starts getting to browned cover with aluminum foil.

6.  Allow to cool completely on a wire rack before slicing into bars with a sharp knife.

To freeze, I cut them into squares and individually wrapped each on in plastic wrap.

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Individual Turkey Pot Pies

Turkey Pot Pies

What to do with that leftover Thanksgiving turkey?  Everyone has their favorite go to recipe (or sandwich) they make every year that probably tops the big bird, itself.  This would definitely be true about these freaking cute individual pot pies! 

A couple months ago, I watched an episode of Down Home With the Neelys where they let their daughter help make these pot pies for a sleepover with her friends and I thought what a perfect way to use up our turkey this year!  So I found it on-line, book marked it and remembered to use it the day after Thanksgiving!  I found the ramekins at Wal-Mart for $2.50ish a piece which is a lot cheaper than the four-piece, over-priced, Paula Deen set that was also available. 

The Man and I each ate one which was plenty, and one was definitely too big even for my biggest kid, which is perfect because we just topped each dish with tin foil and put it in the fridge to be rewarmed in the oven for lunch the next day.

If you’re all into saving every last bit of food that comes into your home you’d definitely want to save the turkey carcass and make turkey stock, then use it instead of chicken broth and bouillon cube.  But after carving the bird on Thanksgiving I had a hard time even putting the turkey in my mouth at dinner so I did not save the carcass to use.  But I should have.  There’s always next year.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 bouillon cube
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrots 
  • 1 rib celery, sliced
  • 3 tablespoons chopped chives
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped fine
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons cooking sherry
  • 2 Lbs. turkey OR rotisserie chicken, shredded
  • 9 oz. frozen peas
  • 2 boxes 9 inch pie crusts (four crusts), room temperature for easy unrolling
  • 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water

Directions

Preheat oven to 375*

1.  In a large saucepan heat chicken broth and bouillon cube over medium heat until hot.

2.  In a medium skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add onions, carrots, celery, chives and garlic, and sauté until tender.

3.  Add the flour and stir together until it becomes pasty and lump-free, about 2 minutes.

4.  Add onion mixture to the hot broth, then add heavy cream, sherry, turkey and peas. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer.

5.  With a ladle, fill 6 oven-proof ramekins or bowls with the filling. Place on baking sheet. Turkey Pot Pies 6.  Unroll each crust and lightly press a ramekin into the crust to make an impression.  Using a butter knife trace around the impression, slightly larger than the trace mark.  This doesn’t need to be perfect!  Place a cut-out on the top of each ramekin and pinch down, careful not to tear the crust.  If desired, use the extra crust to make designs, initials or cutouts for the tops of each pot pie.

7.  Brush with the egg wash and make 4 small slits on the top. Sprinkle with salt and place on a baking sheet. Bake for 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve.

Banana Cream Pie

Banana Cream Pie Adapted from All Recipes

We each put in a request for pie this year for Thanksgiving and banana cream was what The Man just had to have.  This was easy and creamy and smooth.  I topped with homemade whipped cream.  I think I must have grown up with the Jell-O banana pudding version because it was strange to eat this and not taste a mouthful of banana flavored goo…but it was a change for the better that let the layer of bananas at the bottom, shine through!

Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/3 cup corn starch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups milk
  • 3 egg yolks, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 (9 inch) pie crust, baked
  • 4 bananas, sliced
Directions
  1. In a saucepan, combine the sugar, flour, and salt. Add milk in gradually while stirring gently. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture is bubbly. Keep stirring and cook for about 2 more minutes, and then remove from the burner.
  2. Stir a small quantity of the hot mixture into the beaten egg yolks, and immediately add egg yolk mixture to the rest of the hot mixture. Cook for 2 more minutes; remember to keep stirring. Remove the mixture from the stove, and add butter and vanilla. Stir until the whole thing has a smooth consistency.
  3. Slice bananas into the cooled baked pastry shell. Top with pudding mixture.
  4. Chill for an hour.

Whipped Cream

Found at All Recipes, this was simple, not too sweet and easy.  My kids’ eyes widened as they watched the creamy stuff turn to fluffy cream, which was cool; I remember watching my Grams whip this stuff up with the hand held beater and wanting so badly to try it myself, then giving up when my small arms were too tired to keep it going till the peaks formed.
Ingredients
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon confectioners' sugar
Directions
  1. In a large bowl, whip cream until stiff peaks are just about to form. Beat in vanilla and sugar until peaks form. Make sure not to over-beat, cream will then become lumpy and butter-like.

November 6, 2010

Cream Cheese Chicken & Vegetable Soup

Cream Cheese Chicken & Vegetable Soup

This was phenomenal!  Creamy, flavorful, and hearty!  This almost stew-thick soup, found at My Kitchen Café, was filling and is definitely a new favorite at my house!

Ingredients

  • 4 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced (I like to include the inner stalks and leaves for added flavor)
  • 1/2 cup diced or shredded carrots
  • 32 oz. chicken broth
  • 3 medium red potatoes, chopped bite size
  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 1 8 oz. package cream cheese
  • 10 chicken tenders, cooked and diced

Directions

1.  In a large pot, melt the butter and add the onion, garlic, celery and carrots. Sauté, stirring often, for 3-4 minutes until the veggies are slightly tender and the onions are translucent. Add the broth and potatoes. Bring the soup to a simmer and cook, partially covered, until the potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes.

2.  In a liquid measuring cup, vigorously whisk the flour and milk together until smooth. Whisk the mixture into the soup, stirring quickly, and cook over medium heat for 3-4 minutes, until the soup begins to thicken slightly. Stir often to ensure the soup doesn’t burn.

3.  Soften the cream cheese in the microwave until it is very soft. (I put the unwrapped cream cheese on a plate and microwaved it for one minute at 30% power.)

4.  Add the cream cheese to the soup in small tablespoon-size pieces, stirring after each addition to avoid lumps. 

5.  Add the cooked chicken and heat through. Season with salt and pepper.

November 3, 2010

Orchard Harvest Pear Salad with Cherry Balsamic Vinaigrette

Orchard Harvest Pear Salad with Cherry Balsamic Vinaigrette
I recently came across the Sisters Running the Kitchen blog and they have some really great stuff on there!  This salad practically screamed out to me because I’ve ordered a similar salad at Potbelly’s many times and fall in love with it more every time.  Despite some people’s (you know who you are) beliefs that a salad can’t be a meal on it’s own, the chicken could easily be left off with an extra handful of salad on your plate. 
Ingredients – Salad
  • 5oz. Spring Mix salad
  • D’Anjou pears, sliced (or whatever kind you have)
  • toasted pecans, diced
  • cooked/grilled chicken breast
  • dried cherries
  • pomegranate
  • Gorgonzola Cheese
Ingredients - Cherry Balsamic Vinaigrette:
  • 1/4 C balsamic vinegar
  • 1 T sugar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 C cherry preserves
  • 1/4 C red wine vinegar
  • 1/8 C olive oil
  • salt
  • ground black pepper
Directions for Cherry Balsamic Vinaigrette:
1.  In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the vinaigrette ingredients and bring to a simmer, stirring frequently to dissolve the sugar.
2.  Simmer the mixture, uncovered, until reduced by half, about 10 minutes.
3.  Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature
4.  Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.
5. Pile salad on your plate & pour the vinaigrette on.  Top with pears, pecans, chicken, cherries, pomagranate & cheese on top.  I served this with Asiago cheese bread and butter.  YUM!