Friday, September 24, 2010

Pampered Chef Party and Recipes (Almost No Knead Bread, Artichoke Dip, Carmel Pecan Chocolate Ganache Cups)

Tobie in the kitchen. Look at his back feet! He cracks me up.

Chicken grilling in the grill pan.

Almost No Knead Bread stuffed with Artichoke Dip. Heaven!

We had a great time last night. It was interesting to see how everyone fit into the tiny little townhouse kitchen, but it was a beautiful night and we mostly gathered outside.

The food was GREAT! I made two recipes of Almost No Knead Bread (Cooks Illustrated, one white and one wheat), artichoke dip to go inside one of the loaves of bread, Harvest Grains from Trader Joes with garlic, parmesan and tomatoes, steamed broccoli, and grilled chicken in the grill pan. We finished it all off with Caramel Pecan Chocolate Ganache Cups (went very well with the Cupcake Vineyards Shiraz).

As promised, here are the recipes. I will post pics of the artichoke dip in the bread bowl a bit later, but the pics of the dessert really didn't turn out very well.

Almost No Knead Bread (Cook's Illustrated)
3 cups all-purpose flour**
1/4 tsp rapid-rise yeast
1-1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup + 2 Tbl water, at room temperature
1/4 cup + 2 Tbl mild flavored beer (I used Rolling Rock because that's what Ty drinks)
1 Tbl white vinegar

1. Whisk flour, yeast and salt in a large bowl. Make a well or dip in the middle and pour in the water, beer, and vinegar. Using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, fold the mixture from the bottom of the bowl until a shaggy ball forms. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit at room temperature for 8 to 18 hours. I usually do this just before I go to bed and let it rise overnight.

2. Lay a 12x18-inch sheet of parchment paper inside a 10-inch skillet and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Lightly flour your countertop and dump the dough onto the counter. Dust the top of the dough with flour as well. Knead 10 to 15 times with clean hands. Shape the dough into a ball by pulling the edges toward the middle. Place the dough, seam side down, in the middle of the parchment lined skillet and lighltly spray the top with nonstick spray. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and lest rise at least 2 hours (longer for wheat dough).

3. About 30 minutes before baking, adjust the oven rack to the lowest position and place a 6-8 quart heavy bottomed Dutch Oven with the lid on the rack. I use an enameled cast iron dutch oven and remove the knob on the lid. Heat oven to 500 degrees.

4. Lightly flour the top of the risen dough and use a sharp knife to cut a 6 inch long, 1/2-inch deep slash across the top of the dough. Carefully remove the preheated pot from the oven and remove the lid. Pick up the dough by lifting the edges of the parchment paper and carefully lower into the pot. Let the excess paper hang over the edge of the pot. Cover the pot and place in oven. Reduce the oven temperature to 425 degrees and bake, covered, for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and continue to bake until the loaf is a deep brown color, 20 to 30 minutes longer. Remove the pot from the oven, then carefully remove the bread from the pot and transfer to a wire rack to cool to room temp,about 2 hours. Enjoy!

**When making the wheat version, I use 2 cups all purpose and 1 cup whole wheat flour. The resulting dough will need to rise a bit longer than the white dough.

Artichoke Dip (Pampered Chef Recipe Card)
2-16 oz. bread bowls or two loaves of Almost No Knead Bread
4 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup milk
14.5 oz can artichoke hears, drained well, chopped, and drained again
1 clove garlic, minced
1 envelope Vegetable Soup Mix (1.8 oz., I used Knorr)
8 oz. sour cream
1 Tbl lemon juice
Parmesan cheese (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Slice the top third off of one of the bread bowls. Using a small knife, carefully hollow out the bowl, leaving about a 1-1/2" bread border on each side and bottom. Place on a cookie sheet or baking stone. Cut the middle of the bread, top third, and second loaf into 1" cubes. Arrange the cubes around the hollowed out loaf and spray lightly with cooking spray.

2. In a medium sized, microwave-safe bowl, whisk cream cheese until smooth. Slowly whisk in milk, then stir in artichoke hearts, garlic, and veggie soup mix. Microwave on high 5 to 7 minutes or until hot but not boiling.

3. Stir sour cream and lemon juice into the warm artichoke mixture, then pour into the hollowed out bread loaf. Sprinkle parmesan cheese on top of the dip and over the bread cubes.

4. Bake in oven for 13 to 15 minutes, or until the bread cubes are lightly toasted and the dip is bubbly. Serve immediately.

Caramel Pecan Chocolate Ganache Cups
9 Nilla Wafers
8 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped into small pieces (I use Ghiradelli)
1 cup whipping cream*
1/4 tsp espresso powder or 1 Tbl strong coffee**
2 Tbl caramel sauce***
Extra caramel sauce
1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted
whipped cream

1. Line 9 muffin cups with liners and place a Nilla wafer at the bottom of each cup.
2. In a medium sized bowl, combine the chocolate, cream and espresso powder. Microwave on high for 1 minute. Stir briefly, then microwave an additional 45 seconds.
3. Whisk until smooth and dark brown in color. This will take about 2 minutes to get everything completely mixed. Add the caramel sauce and stir well.
4. Using a 1/4 cup measure, fill each muffin cup 2/3 full. Refrigerate at least 4 hours.
5. Just before serving, add 1-2 tsp caramel sauce to the top of each cup. Top with whipped cream and toasted pecans. Serve with a spoon.

*For a firmer texture, use whipping cream. For a light and soft texture similar to pudding, use half and half.
**This ingredient is optional, but highly encouraged. The coffee accentuates the chocolate and makes it taste more like chocolate.
***seedless raspberry preserves or orange marmalade may also be used.

Goodness! That was a lot of typing. Have a great weekend!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Chicken Tortilla Soup

This weekend was nice and relaxing. The stores are starting to put out their Halloween decorations! You know me and Halloween-- I can't wait! :) I got a cute set of prep bowls that are black with little dancing skeletons and ghosts on them. So fun! I'm going to fill them with goodies like Parmesan zucchini crisps, fresh applesauce, sliced fresh pears, etc. See? I'm keeping my goodies on the healthy side.

This weekend, a friends washer went out. She came over to my house with her laundry and I got to play with her two adorable kids! Amelie (3 yr old) and I played 'race car'. She'd sit in the laundry basket and I'd scoot her up and down the hallway as fast as I could. By the time we were done, we were both giggling with hair standing straight out from the static electricity we generated. While the laundry was going, Amelie also helped me make a Fresh Apple Pecan Struesel cake. The house smelled great!

After they left to go home, I made one of my favorite fall meals, Chicken Tortilla Soup. I love how the spicy savory broth warms me from the inside out. The garnishes of fresh avocado, low fat Mexican cheese, and tortilla chips really take it to the next level. The veggies are hidden in this one. ;)

Now on to another week. This Thursday, Tamra and I are going to Pittsburgh again for training. We're looking forward to lox and cream cheese for breakfast in the Denver airport, 3 days of Starbucks, and fresh fish for dinner. Yay!

Chicken Tortilla Soup
-2 split bone-in, skin-on, chicken breasts (about 1-1/2 lbs), skin removed and trimmed of excess fat (could sub 4 bone-in chicken thighs if desired)
-8 cups low sodium chicken broth
-1 very large white onion, trimmed of root end, quartered and peeled
-4 medium garlic cloves, minced
-8 to 10 sprigs fresh cilantro
-1/2 tsp dried oregano, crushed
-2 medium tomatoes, cored and quartered
-jalapeno chile
- 1 chipotle chile plus up to 1 Tbl. adobo sauce
-1 Tbl vegetable oil
-1 lime, cut in wedges
-1 Hass avocado, chopped
-1 cup 2% low fat Mexican Blend cheese
- fresh cilantro
- tortilla chips
-sour cream

1. Bring chicken, broth, 2 onion quarters, 2 garlic cloves, cilantro, oregano, and 1/2 tsp salt to a boil over medium-high heat in a large saucepan. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until chicken is just cooked through, about 20 minutes. Using tongs, transfer chicken to a large plate. Pour broth through a strainer and discard solids. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, shred the meat into bite-sized pieces and discard the bones.

2. Puree tomatoes, 2 onion quarters, 2 garlic cloves, jalapeno, and chipotle chili with 1 tsp adobo sauce in a blender or food processor until smooth. Heat oil in Dutch oven over high heat until shimmering. Add the tomato/onion puree and 1/8 tsp salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture has darkened in color, about 10 minutes.

3. Stir the broth back into the tomato mixture, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer to blend the flavors, about 15 minutes. Taste soup. If desired, add up to 2 teaspoons additional adobo sauce.

4. Stir in shredded chicken and simmer about 5 minutes to heat through. To serve, place portions of crushed tortilla chips in the bottom of individual bowls and ladle the soup on top. Pass the garnishes separately.

Makes about 8 1-cup servings of soup.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Feeling Ambitious-- Refried Beans, Applesauce, and Zucchini Bread!

Tyson came for the long weekend (Labor Day Weekend). We had tons of fun! On Saturday, we looked at houses in Star, ID-- and decided we still like Middleton. That night, we had the neighbor over for a BBQ (grilled chicken, corn on the cob, etc.).
Sunday, we drove up to McCall. It was a busy little town! We stopped at My Father's Place for hamburgers and fries (OMG!!) and ate at the lake watching the sailboats. Once we were done eating, we drove to Ponderosa State Park. It was great! They have a lot of hiking and biking trails there. We took the pups on a 90 minute hike. After the hike, we headed back to Payette. The pups were pooped!
Monday, Tyson left at 11am to go home. I went to Purdums (produce stand) and got inspired. When I got home, I made Refried Beans in the big crock pot, applesauce in the little crock pot, and Zucchini Bread. They all turned out great! The Refried Beans recipe is from Sherelle Christensen. I went to high school with her and she has one of my favorite blogs-- with really yummy recipes! The Zucchini Bread recipe was from my neighbor Aimee Hughes. I tweaked it a bit. The applesauce recipe was just one I made up and it turned out great! The recipes are below. Hope y'all have a great week!
Fresh Applesauce
6-8 apples (I used 4 pink lady and 2 granny smith apples)
1 Tbl brown sugar
1-2 tsp cinnamon
1. Core, peel and chop the apples. Place in the crock pot.
2. Sprinkle cinnamon and brown sugar on top. Stir well.
3. Cook on low for 8-9 hours, stirring occasionally.
4. Use a potato masher to mash the apples to the desired consistency. Taste, and add more cinnamon and/or brown sugar if needed.
Refried Beans
5 cups dried pinto beans, picked through and rinsed well
5 slices bacon, halved
1 small onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalepeno, cut in half lengthwise
1 Tbl seasoning salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. dried garlic
2 Tbl. cumin
1 Tbl. chili powder
1. Place beans in a large pot and add water to cover them by one inch. Bring to a boil, then remove from the heat, cover, and let stand for 1 hour.
2. Put the bacon, onion, and jalepeno in the crock pot. Add the beans and the rest of the ingredients. Add enought water to just cover. Stir well.
3. Cover and cook on high for 8 hours or until beans are tender, stirring occasionally. Check the water level every couple of hours and add water as necessary. After 6 hours or so, remove bacon and jalepeno.
4. Let beans cool, then refry them!
5. To refry, put about a Tbl. of corn oil or vegetable oil in a pot. Add about 2 cups of drained beans and mash with a potato masher until desired consistency. The cooking liquid from the beans can be added to thin out the mixture. Taste for seasoning, and cook on low, stirring often, until bubbly.
Zucchini Bread
3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
3 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp ginger
3 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
2-1/4 cups white sugar
3 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups grated zucchini
1 cup sliced almonds
1. Grease and flour 2 8x4 inch loaf pans. Preheat oven to 325°F.
2. Sift flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and spices together in a bowl.
3. Beat eggs, oil, sugar and vanilla in a large bowl until creamy. Add sifted ingredients to the creamed mixture and beat well. Stir in Zucchini and nuts until well combined. Divide batter between the two prepared pans.
4. Bake for 60 minutes. Cool on a rack for 20 minutes, then remove from the pan and let cool completely.
The bread will freeze well and keeps in the refrigerator for weeks. Enjoy!!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Caprese and Roasted Veggies (purple cauliflower)

It's officially September! I can't believe how fast this year is going by. We only have another few weeks of farm stand goodness, so I've been cooking veggies like crazy! Last night, the neighbors and I decided to have a veggie dinner. We started off with Caprese, my favorite summer salad. We also had grilled sweet corn, marinated cukes, cantaloupe and Parmesan zucchini crisps. It was wonderful!

Earlier this week, I turned on the oven and roasted the veggies I had lying around. I tossed a sweet onion, yellow summer squash, purple bell pepper and purple cauliflower in olive oil. I then spread it out on a pan and baked it at 350°F for 30 minutes. Then I cut up a golden tomato and threw that on top with some garlic and herb seasoning. Returned it to the oven at 400°F for about 20 minutes and it was HEAVEN! This really isn't the best picture in the world, but you get the idea.

Fresh Mozzarella Cheese, sliced
1-2 Tomatoes, sliced thick
Fresh Basil
Balsamic Vinegar
Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper
1. Put the balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan and reduce by at least half to make a sweet syrup. Set aside to cool.
2. Layer cheese, tomatoes and basil on a platter or plate.
3. Drizzle with balsamic and olive oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Done!
Marinated Cucumbers:
Peel and slice a cucumber. Place in a bowl with enough seasoned rice vinegar to just cover. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Let stand about 10 minutes and serve. Sometimes I also like to add a bit of sweet onion or fresh dill. Yum!
Parmesan Zucchini Crisps (Ellie Krieger, Food Network): Look it up! For some reason, it won't let me cut and paste anything into Blogger. :(
Soup is on the horizon, but not for a few weeks. We'll be in the 90's this Labor Day weekend and that's just too hot for soup! :)