Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Caramelized Onion, Tomato, and Brie Galette


I know it sounds like I’m getting fancy (again! two days in a row!), but I promise, this recipe is so incredibly easy. I can understand how you’d be thrown off by the French word in the title of the recipe. I was, too, and I’ll admit that I had to look up what a “galette” actually is (besides something very very delicious). Basically, it’s just a free-form tart. Fancy French word decoded!

It’s not very often that I just have brie “waiting to be used,” but right before I made this recipe I did, so I was specifically looking for something to use it in when Deborah posted this recipe. It was meant to be. This is my favorite kind of food: simple ingredients, simple flavors, simply delicious.

I loved all the flavors of this galette. The sweet caramelized onions paired so perfectly with the rich brie and juicy, slightly charred tomatoes. I used a store-bought pie crust (gasp!), which worked just fine and was buttery and flaky. (If you want the homemade pastry recipe, just click over to Deborah's site.) I will definitely be making this again!

Caramelized Onion, Tomato, and Brie Galette
adapted from Taste and Tell, originally from The Maine Summers Cookbook

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 large onions, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 pie crust
1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved lengthwise
4 ounces brie, rind removed, cubed
Freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon dried parsley (or 2 tablespoons fresh)
1 large egg, beaten
1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

2. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook until the onions are translucent. Lower the heat to low and cover the pan and cook slowly until caramelized, about 20 minutes.

3. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper. Roll out the pie crust to 1/8-inch thick and transfer it to the parchment paper. Sprinkle on the onions and garlic evenly, leaving a border around the edge.

4. Scatter the tomatoes on top, and then the cheese. Grind the pepper on top and sprinkle on the parsley.

5. Fold the border up onto the filling. Brush the border with the egg and sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes or until golden.

One year ago: Summer fruit salad with creamy lime dressing

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Avocado Eggs Benedict with Chipotle Hollandaise

Don’t worry, I’m not getting all fancy on you. This dish may sound complicated, but really, it’s so simple. It puts a spin on traditional eggs Benedict by replacing the Canadian bacon with traditional bacon, adding avocado, and adding spicy chipotles in adobo to the hollandaise sauce. It. is. so. good. I could eat it every day for breakfast (or lunch or dinner, for that matter) for the rest of my life without ever getting sick of it.

Let me break the components down for you. First: a crispy English muffin, full of nooks and crannies for catching all the delicious bits of flavor. Next: avocado, mashed with a bit of lime juice – cool, creamy, tangy. Then: bacon, crispy and salty. Next: a perfectly poached egg with a velvety, runny yolk. Finally: a silky, spicy, creamy, rich hollandaise sauce. If you get all of these elements together in one bite…Well, you’re really in trouble, because you won’t ever want to stop eating it.

I’ll admit that it took me a couple of tries to get the hang of poaching an egg. I’d never done it before, and my first two attempts resulted in broken yolks and disconnected whites. But by the end, I was a pro at it. The most difficult part about this meal turned out to be, for me, the timing of everything. Everything has to be done at the last minute (toasting the muffins, poaching the eggs, making the hollandaise), so it’s a little difficult to time it all. But I’ll make this again in a heartbeat, despite the stressful timing issues, because it’s just so darn good.

Avocado Eggs Benedict
slightly adapted from Confections of a Foodie Bride

2 English muffins
8 slices bacon
1 avocado
Juice of half a lime
Salt and pepper
4 eggs
Chipotle hollandaise sauce (recipe follows)

1. Heat a sauce pan with 2 inches of water to a simmer.

2. Split the English muffins in half and toast until browned.

3. Cook the bacon to a crisp and set aside.

4. Cut the avocado in half, remove the pit, and scoop the flesh into a bowl. Add a pinch of salt and lime juice and mash with a fork.

5. Spread the avocado over the toasted English muffin halves and top with the bacon.

6. Crack 1 egg at a time into a separate small bowl or cup. Stir the simmering water with a spoon and gently pour the egg into the swirling water. Repeat with additional eggs.

7. Cook the eggs for 2 1/2 minutes, until the whites are cooked through. Remove with a slotted spoon and let drain for a minute before placing on top of the bacon. Season each egg with salt and pepper, and top each serving with chipotle hollandaise.

Chipotle Hollandaise
slightly adapted from Confections of a Foodie Bride

2 egg yolks
Juice of 1 lime
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon chipotle in adobo puree
1 stick of butter, melted

Place egg yolks, lime, salt, chipotle and adobo sauce in the blender. Blend for 30 seconds before streaming in the melted butter. Serve immediately.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Pulled Pork Mac and Cheese Panini

I remember seeing this panini when it was originally posted on Panini Happy and thinking to myself, “That looks really good. I’ll have to try that sometime.” But before I could even get around to making it, four separate people reached out to me – either in person, through e-mail, or on Facebook – informing me of its existence, and telling me that it was something they knew I’d love. You guys – am I that transparent?! ;)

They were right, of course. It does contain so many of the things I love, so it probably won’t surprise you when I tell you that I really liked this. I guess I’d never really considered putting macaroni and cheese on a sandwich before, but I’ve since seen this idea in a few different places. It sounds a little weird, but it’s actually really good.

What I love about this sandwich is that you can make it mostly with leftovers. The night before you want to have these, make pulled pork and macaroni and cheese for dinner (I’ve linked to the recipes I used below, but feel free to use your favorites). Then use your leftovers to make the sandwiches the next night. The recipe calls for cold macaroni and cheese anyway, so it’s the perfect use for leftovers.

This sandwich is incredibly tasty, obviously, but I don’t think it’s something I’ll make very often, just because there isn’t really anything that could be considered healthy about it. I don’t even want to know how many calories one of these sandwiches contains. It was definitely a fun and delicious dinner, though!

Pulled Pork Mac and Cheese Panini
adapted from Panini Happy

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
2 cups prepared macaroni and cheese
2 onions, thinly sliced
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup barbecue sauce
2 cups prepared pulled pork
8 slices sourdough bread
8 slices sharp cheddar cheese

1. Cut the macaroni and cheese into squares that are slightly smaller than the bread slices.

2. Meanwhile, melt 2 tablespoons butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring, until caramelized, about 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Combine the barbecue sauce and pulled pork in a saucepan over low heat and cook until warmed through, about 5 minutes.

4. Preheat the panini grill to medium-high heat.

5. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter and brush on one side of each bread slice. Flip over half of the bread slices; layer 1 slice of cheddar and 1 macaroni-and-cheese square on each. Top each with one-quarter of the pulled pork and caramelized onions and another slice of cheddar. Top with the remaining bread slices, buttered-side up.

6. Working in batches, cook the sandwiches until the cheese melts and the bread is golden, about 5 minutes.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Weekly Meal Planning, Week of 8.29.11

It doesn’t happen often, but when it does it thrills the dorky little cheapskate in me to no end. On rare occasions, the meals that I’m craving and the items that are on sale at the grocery store converge, so that I can eat exactly what I want to without spending a fortune. This, my friends, is one of those weeks. I’m so excited about every single one of these meals – and possibly even more excited about the fact that it’s not costing me a lot of money to make them.

Monday: French bread pizzas, salad. Joe used to buy frozen French bread pizzas all the time, but I’ve officially converted him. We love the homemade version, and they’re ready in minutes.

Tuesday: Sweet corn hash with eggs, toast. I love the idea of this hash, which reminds me of corn chowder minus the liquid. I may throw some celery in there too to make it even more chowder-y.

Wednesday: Marsala burgers and fries. Although it was recently given a run for its money, this is still my favorite burger. And since there were so many great deals at the grocery stores when I shopped, I could splurge on the smoked gouda.

Thursday: Easy and fast Greek gyros, chips. Again, since pretty much all of these ingredients were on sale when I shopped, I could splurge on the fancy cheese. I’ll take any opportunity I can to splurge on fancy cheese.

Friday: Buffalo chicken nachos. Total bad-for-you food right here. But I’m powerless to resist the allure of these nachos.

Saturday: Pepper jack, chicken and peach quesadillas with honey-lime sour cream, taco rice. The rice will probably be from a packet, but the peaches will be fresh. We’re planning a trip to a local peach orchard (farm?) this week, and I can’t wait!

Sunday: Biscuits with sausage gravy and tater tots. Now that the weather is getting cooler, I just had to put this on the menu. This is one of my favorite fall and winter comfort foods.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Saturdays with Rachael Ray: Peach Pecan Chicken Sandwiches with Jalapeño Mayonnaise

I will admit that I am a person given to hyperbole; however, I assure you that this is not one of those times. What I’m about to tell you is completely and totally true. Honestly, hands-down, without question: This is the best chicken sandwich I have ever made at home. And it’s my new favorite chicken sandwich EVER.

There is something about this combination of flavors that is just so incredibly good. This sandwich hits every single flavor note: the savory, crunchy, nutty chicken, the sweet, soft peach, the spicy jalapeño, and the cool, creamy, tangy mayonnaise. It's such a perfect balance of flavors and textures. We ate these sandwiches a week ago, and Joe is still talking about how delicious they were. That's the sign of a truly delicious meal in our house -- he can be hard to impress at times. :)

Try these sandwiches, and don't forget to check out Taste and Tell's Saturdays with Rachael Ray!

Peach Pecan Chicken Sandwiches with Jalapeño Mayonnaise

4 chicken breast cutlets 
1 cup buttermilk 
1/2 cup mayonnaise 
1 jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped
Splash of red wine vinegar  
1/2 cup pecans, finely ground 
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs 
1/2 cup canola oil 
4 rolls, split and toasted
1 peach, thinly sliced

1. In a medium bowl, combine the chicken and buttermilk. In a small bowl, stir together the mayonnaise, jalapeño, and vinegar.

2. In a shallow bowl, combine the pecans and panko bread crumbs. Working with one piece at a time, remove the chicken cutlets from the buttermilk, letting the excess drip off, and coat with the pecan mixture.

3. In a large skillet, heat the canola oil over medium heat. Add the cutlets and cook, turning once, until golden-brown, about 2 minutes on each side or until cooked through. Drain on paper towels. Slice chicken, if desired.

4. Spread the jalapeño mayonnaise on the cut sides of each toasted roll. Top with the chicken and peach slices.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Summer Vegetable Spaghetti with Pesto Cream Sauce

One of the things I love the most about blogging is finding other bloggers who share my food philosophy. They are my “food twins,” if you will, and one of them is Sarah from A Taste of Home Cooking. She and I are definitely on the same page when it comes to food, and I find myself bookmarking nearly every recipe she posts. When she posted this recipe, I knew I’d be trying it for sure. The summer’s almost over and I’ve only cooked with zucchini a handful of times. There’s just no excuse for that! I had to remedy the situation right away.

I had a happy accident while making this recipe. I don’t keep white wine on hand, usually, so when it’s called for in a recipe I replace it with chicken broth. But unbeknownst to me, I didn’t have any. What I did have, however, was some heavy cream. So I just used that instead, and it turned the sauce into this incredibly creamy, slightly sweet, wonderfully indulgent thing.

This is my favorite kind of food: simple, fresh, and delicious. We all loved it.

Summer Vegetable Spaghetti with Pesto Cream Sauce
slightly adapted from A Taste of Home Cooking

1 pound spaghetti
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 onion, diced
1 small summer squash, halved lengthwise and sliced thin
1 small zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced thin
2 garlic cloves, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup heavy cream
6 tablespoons basil pesto
12 ounces cherry tomatoes, halved
Grated parmesan cheese

1. Bring water and some salt to in a boil in a large pot. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain pasta and return to the pot.

2. Meanwhile, melt butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in squash and zucchini, season with salt and pepper to taste, and stir until softened, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add cream and cook until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Stir in pesto.

3. Toss vegetable sauce and tomatoes with pasta. Serve with grated cheese.

One year ago: Spicy turkey, corn and zucchini skillet

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Lasagna Sandwiches

Yes, you read that right. Lasagna sandwiches. Lasagna in sandwich form. All of the delicious components of lasagna (aside from the pasta itself), between two halves of a roll. These sandwiches, my friends, are ground-breaking. And, as you would suspect, they taste amazing.

In addition to being delicious, they’re also pretty easy. You could make the sandwiches the night before you want to serve them, wrap them in foil, then just pop them in the oven to heat through a half hour before dinner time. They're perfect for weeknight cooking in that regard. We obviously had sandwiches left over, which I took for lunches for the rest of the week, but I bet they'd freeze pretty well too.

I added even more flavor to the sandwiches by turning the rolls into garlic bread. I hollowed them out, coated them with a mixture of butter and seasonings, and broiled them until crispy before assembling the sandwiches. I definitely recommend using a thicker, heartier roll for these – something more substantial than a hoagie roll. I used bolillo rolls, which I thought worked perfectly. You could even make a long sandwich with a loaf of sweet Italian bread, then cut it into slices for serving.

But come on, these are LASAGNA SANDWICHES. They’re going to be delicious no matter how you serve them.

Try them. I promise you’ll love them.

Lasagna Sandwiches
adapted from 5 Dollar Dinners

6 sub rolls or bolillo rolls
6 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 pound ground beef
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can Italian-style diced tomatoes, undrained
1/2 to 1 cup jarred marinara
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1 egg
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
2 cups mozzarella cheese, divided
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Slice off the tops of the sub rolls. Then scoop out the bread from the inside. Stir together butter, garlic powder, 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. Spread each side of each sliced roll with butter mixture. Broil until browned and crispy.

3. Cook ground beef in a large skillet over medium high heat. About halfway through cooking, add onion. Season with salt and pepper to taste. When beef is cooked through, add garlic and cook and stir 30 seconds. Stir in diced tomatoes and as much marinara sauce as you need to moisten the mixture (don’t make it too wet).

4. Spoon some of the ground beef mixture into each roll.

5. In a mixing bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, egg, 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning, salt and pepper to taste, and 1 cup of the mozzarella cheese. Spoon over the meat mixture in each roll.

6. Sprinkle some parmesan cheese and mozzarella cheese over top of each roll. Top with the bread top. Wrap each sandwich in foil and bake for 25 to 30 minutes.

One year ago: Chocolate zucchini cupcakes with chocolate cream cheese frosting

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Portobello Pesto Pizza

I’ve found that people have strong opinions about both pesto and mushrooms: They either love them, or they hate them. My family falls into the “love” category for both things, and when I saw them paired together in one delicious pizza…Well. Making this recipe was a no-brainer.

This is an absolutely delicious pizza. The cremini mushrooms and pesto work so well together: The mushrooms provide that deep earthiness, and the pesto is so fresh and vibrant in contrast. Topped with tons of melty, blistery cheese, it’s pretty much perfection.

I definitely enjoyed this more than Joe did, though; he thought the pizza needed “something else.” I expect that “something else” that he couldn’t define was some sort of tomato-y element, which I’ll add for him next time I make this – in the form of roasted cherry tomatoes, which I think would be delicious in the mushroom layer.

And here comes the geeky English major in me: Another thing I love about this pizza is the alliteration. Portobellos, pesto, provolone, parmesan…I’m tempted to throw in some prosciutto or pancetta next time I make this, too, just for one more “P” ingredient!

Portobello Pesto Pizza
adapted from Brown-Eyed Baker

1 pizza crust (make your own, or buy a thin-crust one at the store, which is what I did without shame)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 pound cremini mushrooms, sliced
2 shallots, thinly sliced
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup pesto (homemade or store-bought)
8 ounces provolone cheese, shredded
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

1. Arrange pizza crust on a rack or pizza stone in the oven. Pre-bake according to recipe or directions on package.

2. In a skillet, melt the butter over medium heat and add the sliced mushrooms and shallots. Cook, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until the mushrooms have released all of their liquid and both the mushrooms and shallots are soft and browned, 10 to 15 minutes. Season generously with salt and pepper and set aside.

3. Spread the pesto over the pizza dough, just as you would pizza sauce, leaving a 1/2-inch border uncovered. Spread the mushroom and onion mixture evenly over the pesto, and then top with the provolone and parmesan cheeses. Place your baking sheet or pizza pan into the oven.

4. Bake until the crust edges brown and the cheese is golden brown in spots, 8 to 12 minutes. Remove from the oven, slice and serve.

One year ago: Baked zucchini macaroni and cheese

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Peanut Butter Cookies

It happens to all of us: an undeniable, overwhelming craving for a certain food. It happens to me quite often, actually. If it’s a savory dish I’m craving, I put it on the coming week’s menu. But if it’s a sweet craving – well, it’s harder for me to wait.

One of the cravings that hit me recently was for a peanut butter cookie. Just a simple, classic, chewy, peanut buttery cookie, fork marks and all. Believe it or not, I had never made these cookies myself (yes, really! Do I lose my food blogger's license?), so I didn’t have a tried-and-true recipe to use. My mom made them all the time, but I couldn’t find her recipe in her collection. So I chose this recipe on a whim, and thankfully, it was a winner.

I don’t know what else I can really say about these cookies. They’re delicious, and take me back to when I was a kid and my mom would serve these to my brother and me, hot from the oven, drizzled with melted chocolate in the fork marks. I did the same thing with my cookies and my children, and it was such a happy memory, and such a yummy cookie.

Peanut Butter Cookies
slightly adapted from Allrecipes

1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup white sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 cup finely chopped unsalted peanuts
Semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. Cream together butter, peanut butter and sugars. Beat in eggs.

2. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir into batter. Fold in peanuts. Put batter in refrigerator for 1 hour.

3. Roll into 1 inch balls and put on baking sheets. Flatten each ball with a fork, making a criss-cross pattern. Bake in a preheated 375-degree oven for about 10 minutes or until cookies begin to brown. Do not over-bake. Remove to a wire rack.

4. Add chocolate chips to a plastic bag with a touch of vegetable oil to make it smooth. Melt in 30-second increments until completely melted. Snip a corner in the bag and trace chocolate into the fork marks on the cookies.

One year ago: Zucchini banana chocolate chip muffins

Monday, August 22, 2011

Chipotle Beef Tacos

One of the specials my grocery store runs pretty frequently is a “buy one beef roast, get one free” sale. Whenever that happens, I always stock up. And then I sit around wondering what I’m going to do with them besides make a standard roast beef in the Crock pot. I was happy to come across this recipe, which adds a spicy Mexican spin to a standard roast.

The original recipe calls for making this in the oven, but I used my Crock pot and slow-cooked the beef all day. I love making shredded meat for tacos in the Crock pot. I’ve done it with pork and with chicken (and have another recipe using chicken coming up soon), but never thought to try it with beef. These tacos were absolutely delicious. The beef was so flavorful and tender, and it had the perfect amount of spice. We topped ours with honey-lime coleslaw, which added a sweet, tangy, cool flavor and a nice textural crunch to the tacos. The leftovers freeze beautifully – either the meat by itself, or wrapped up in individual tortillas.

Chipotle Beef Tacos
adapted from Everyday Food

1 boneless beef chuck roast (about 3 pounds), excess fat trimmed
2 to 3 tablespoons chopped canned chipotle chiles in adobo
1/2 cup ketchup
8 garlic cloves, chopped
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste
1/4 teaspoon pepper, plus more to taste
Flour or corn tortillas
Honey-lime coleslaw (optional, but highly recommended)

1. Heat a small amount olive oil in a Dutch oven or very large skillet. Season beef with salt and pepper to taste and sear beef well on both sides. Transfer to a Crock pot.

2. In a medium bowl, stir together chiles, ketchup, 1 cup water, garlic, oregano, salt, and pepper. Pour over beef in Crock pot.

3. Cook beef until fork-tender, about 4 hours on high heat and 6-8 hours on low.

4. Transfer beef to a bowl. With a large spoon, skim off and discard fat from cooking liquid. Shred beef with two forks; moisten with cooking liquid as needed. Season with salt and pepper. Serve beef with tortillas and desired toppings.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Weekly Meal Planning, Week of 8.22.11

Monday: Stuffed crust pizza – pepperoni and banana peppers on our half, plain cheese for the boys.

Tuesday: Spicy sausage macaroni and cheese, steamed broccoli. One day last week I became absolutely obsessed with the idea of putting spicy sausage in mac and cheese. I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind since, so I’m trying it this week. I'm going to throw some halved cherry tomatoes in there, too, since I love the combination of sausage and tomatoes.

Wednesday: Chicken burgers with rosemary-garlic mayonnaise, fries. I love meals with simple ingredients that taste amazing, and according to Sarah, that's exactly how these burgers are. I can't wait to try them!

Thursday: Pan-fried pork chops, roasted potatoes, green beans. I’m going to coat the pork chops in flour (the way my grandma always did), and also add in some ranch dressing mix and onion soup mix to give them more flavor. I may add some of the ranch seasoning to the potatoes, too.

Friday: Dinner out

Saturday: Mexican pulled chicken stuffed peppers, Mexican sour cream rice. Bell peppers are still on sale at my store, so I'm still taking advantage of that.

Sunday: Pesto-infused pasta with cheesy broiled tomatoes, garlic bread. I'm excited to try this new technique for cooking pasta -- as well as to taste those cheesy broiled tomatoes. YUM!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Saturdays with Rachael Ray: Monkey Bread Muffins

I'm so glad I'm posting this recipe on a Saturday, because that gives you the perfect opportunity to make these for breakfast tomorrow morning. And believe me, you absolutely should make them. They're so delicious, and perfect with a cup of coffee.

I thought these monkey bread muffins were such a clever idea. They have all the same flavors as traditional monkey bread, but they seem much more accessible than the traditional version since they're baked in muffin cups. The one problem I had with these was a pretty obvious one: They stuck to the pan. So if you make them, just be sure you're really generous with the cooking spray.

Spicy, sweet, toasty and warm -- these are the perfect breakfast treat.

Don't forget to check out Taste and Tell's Saturdays with Rachael Ray for more delicious recipes!

Monkey Bread Muffins

1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces) unsalted butter, chilled 
3 tablespoons maple syrup 
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar 
1/3 cup brown sugar 
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon 
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder 
1/2 teaspoon salt 
3/4 cup buttermilk, chilled

1. Position a rack in the bottom third of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees. In a small bowl, microwave 4 tablespoons butter and the maple syrup at high power until melted, 30 seconds; stir. In a small bowl, stir together 1/3 cup granulated sugar, the brown sugar and the cinnamon. 

2. In a food processor, combine the flour, baking powder, the remaining 2 tablespoons granulated sugar and the salt; pulse to combine. Cut the remaining 1 stick chilled butter into small pieces and pulse with the flour mixture until coarse crumbs form. Pulse in the buttermilk until the dough just comes together. Transfer to a lightly floured work surface; pat into a 10-inch square (the dough will be sticky). Quarter the dough, then cut each quarter into 16 equal pieces; roll into balls.

3. Dip each ball in the maple butter, then coat with the sugar mixture. Place 5 to 6 coated balls into each muffin cup and press to compact.

4. Bake until cooked through and golden, 15 to 17 minutes (tent with foil if the tops darken too quickly). Transfer the muffin pan to a rack and cool for 10 minutes. Using a knife, loosen the sides of the monkey bread; invert onto a platter, then turn right side up. Serve warm.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Crock Pot Asian Peanut Butter Pork

My entire family really likes savory sauces made with peanut butter, so as soon as I saw this recipe I knew I’d be trying it. Any time I can tell my boys “It has peanut butter in it,” I know they’ll gobble up their dinner, and that always makes for a good evening in our house.

We all really enjoyed the flavors of this meal, and the part we didn’t like was completely and totally my fault, not the recipe’s. I cooked the pork too long (as you can probably tell from the photo) and the sauce got way too thick and heavy-tasting. I usually find Crock pot recipes very forgiving regarding the length of time to cook them, but that wasn’t the case this time. And I’d say it’s really important to give the pork a stir every once in a while, if you can. I didn’t (because I worked the day I made this), and the sauce on top was very brown.

That said, though, this was really flavorful. Joe actually wished there was more peanut butter, but I thought it was the perfect amount. And the boys asked for seconds, which is a sure-fire way to get a meal back on the menu in our house.

I served this with a frozen blend of Asian-style vegetables and white rice. Taking a hint from this recipe, I stirred peanuts into the rice to provide some texture, and we thought that was delicious.

Crock Pot Asian Peanut Butter Pork
seen on The Picky Apple and originally from A Year of Slow Cooking

1.5-2 pound pork tenderloin
1 onion, sliced in rings
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
3 tablespoons water
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 cup creamy natural peanut butter
2 tablespoons chopped peanuts

1. Add onion slices to the bottom of the Crock pot and top with pork. Add brown sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, water, garlic, and peanut butter.

2. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours, or on high for 4 to 6. One hour before serving, flip the meat over in the Crock pot to allow the other side to soak up the sauce. Garnish with chopped peanuts, if desired.

One year ago: Roasted broccoli or cauliflower

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Summer Squash and Corn Chowder

Chowder (or soup in general) is not a traditional choice for a summer meal. But this chowder is actually perfect for summer, since it’s loaded with the season’s bounty: summer squash and corn. It’s hearty and satisfying, but still so fresh and light.

What I love most about this chowder is that it relies on the corn itself to thicken it, rather than a roux or heavy cream. The corn is pureed with milk, then added to the soup to heat through. It’s a great way to save on calories, and really serves to imbue every single bite with the flavor of corn. We had impromptu dinner guests the night I put this on the menu, and they loved it just as much as we did. I topped each bowl with a square of baked puffed pastry, and we really liked the crunchy texture it added to the soup. I will definitely make this again. I’ll probably even double it next time, since Joe couldn’t get enough.

Summer Squash and Corn Chowder
slightly adapted from Cooking Light

4 slices bacon, chopped
1 tablespoon butter
3/4 cup sliced green onions, divided
1/4 cup chopped celery
1 pound yellow summer squash, chopped
1 pound frozen white and yellow baby corn kernels, thawed and divided
2 1/4 cups 2% milk
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese

1. Cook bacon in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until crisp. Set bacon aside on paper towels to drain. Reserve 2 teaspoons of drippings in pan.

2. Add butter to pan, then add 1/2 cup onions, celery, and squash to pan; sauté 8 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

3. Reserve 1 cup corn; set aside. Place the remaining corn and 1 cup milk in a blender; process until smooth. Add remaining 1 1/4 cups milk, thyme, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper to blender; process just until combined.

4. Add pureed mixture and reserved 1 cup corn to pan. Reduce heat to medium; cook 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated, stirring constantly. Stir in 1/8 teaspoon salt. Ladle about 1 1/2 cups soup into each of 4 bowls; top each serving with about 1 tablespoon bacon, 1 tablespoon remaining onions, and 1 tablespoon cheese.

One year ago: Summer vegetable and pesto tart

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Sausage Biscuit Sandwiches

I have an egg sandwich for breakfast most weekend mornings. Just a simple fried or scrambled egg, sandwiched between two slices of buttered wheat bread. It’s absolutely my favorite breakfast. I never met a breakfast sandwich I didn’t like, as a matter of fact. So I was drawn to this recipe when I saw it over on Tasty Kitchen, because it jazzes up a typical breakfast sandwich with cream cheese and raspberry jam.

I’ve always been a huge fan of sweet and savory elements paired together, and the combination worked so well in this dish. I loved the way the cream cheese and raspberry jam worked with the sausage and the egg, and the buttery biscuit just took these sandwiches over the top. I think any type of jam would work for these – I’m eager to try using peach next time. What a delicious combination of ingredients, and what a delicious little sandwich!

Sausage Biscuit Sandwiches
adapted from Tasty Kitchen

1 package refrigerated buttery biscuits
1 package breakfast sausage patties
Spreadable cream cheese
Raspberry jam or jelly

1. Bake biscuits as directed on package.

2. Meanwhile, fry sausage in a large skillet on the stovetop until cooked through. Remove to a paper towel to get rid of the excess grease.

3. In another skillet, cook eggs to desired doneness. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

4. To assemble sandwiches, spread butter and about 1 tablespoon of cream cheese on top and bottom slice of each biscuit. Spread top slice of each biscuit with about a tablespoon of raspberry jam or jelly. Add egg and sausage patty to the bottom slice of each biscuit, then cover with the top slice of each biscuit.

One year ago: Triple chocolate scotcheroos

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Peanut Butter Doughnuts with Chocolate Glaze

In my humble opinion, the doughnut pan is one of the greatest inventions in the realm of baking equipment. Ever. I mean, what a genius idea, right? A pan you can use to bake doughnuts instead of frying them. Why, it almost makes doughnuts healthy! (…Okay, I know. That’s a stretch. But at least it’s healthier than deep-frying.)

I bought myself a doughnut pan for Easter, and then promptly…didn’t use it. I just never got around to it for some reason. But then one morning this post showed up in my Reader. And I knew I couldn’t wait any longer. These doughnuts were calling to me, and it was a call I was going to answer.

These doughnuts were delicious. The doughnuts themselves are cakey, rich, and peanut-buttery, but the glaze is what really did me in. I could have eaten it with a spoon. It tastes exactly like the chocolate glaze that comes on doughnut-shop doughnuts. I made these for us as a special weekend treat, and we all just loved them!

(By the way, if you’re in the market for a doughnut pan, this is the one I bought, and I love it. Although while I was searching for it to share the link, I saw this…and now I want it, too. One can never have too many doughnut-making-implements, right?)

Baked Peanut Butter Doughnuts with Chocolate Glaze
from Fake Ginger

1/4 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon milk
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg

1 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 cup cocoa powder
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup powdered sugar

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly grease a doughnut pan.

2. Using a mixer, combine peanut butter and sugar until fluffy. Add in milk, oil, vanilla, and egg; mix.

3. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt over top of peanut butter mixture. Use mixer to blend until just combined. Transfer to a pastry bag with a large, round tip (or a zip top bag) and pipe into doughnut pan.

4. Bake 8 to 10 minutes, until doughnuts are golden brown and spring back when touched. Flip onto a wire rack and allow to cool for a few minutes before glazing.

5. To make the glaze, whisk together melted butter and cocoa powder. Once the cocoa powder has melted into the butter, add milk, corn syrup, vanilla, and powdered sugar; whisk. If the glaze is too thin, add more powdered sugar. If too thick, add more milk.

6. Dip the doughnuts into the glaze and allow the glaze to set about 30 minutes before serving. Makes 6 doughnuts.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Corn and Tomato Risotto

Risotto is something I usually think of as a fall and winter sort of dish, since it involves standing over a hot pan and stirring constantly. But I just couldn’t resist this recipe when I saw it, and I put it on the menu in hopes that the time spent over a hot stove would be worth it.

It was.

This risotto had the perfect balance of sweet and savory elements, and since part of the cooking liquid is milk, it’s even creamier than risotto usually is. There’s something so magical and wonderfully summery about the combination of corn, tomatoes, and basil. I have to be honest and tell you that I used a can of corn rather than fresh, which feels like blasphemy (for various reasons that aren’t really all that important, I wasn’t able to get to the store to get fresh corn on the cob) – but this was still delicious. Next time I’ll use fresh corn for sure, and also replace the chopped tomato with halved cherry tomatoes since they’re so sweet this time of year. I served this alongside rosemary ranch chicken kabobs, and it’ll definitely be a go-to summer side for me from now on.

Corn and Tomato Risotto
adapted from Taste of Home

3 cups chicken stock
2 cups whole milk
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 cup uncooked arborio rice
1 1/3 cups fresh corn (about 5 ears of corn)(or 1 can of corn, drained)
1 medium tomato, peeled, seeded and chopped
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pepper to taste

1. In a large saucepan, heat the stock and milk; keep warm.

2. In a large skillet, saute onion in butter until tender.

3. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Add rice; cook and stir for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in 1 cup stock/milk mixture. Cook and stir until all liquid is absorbed.

4. Add remaining stock/milk mixture, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly. Allow the liquid to absorb between additions. Cook until risotto is creamy and rice is almost tender. (Cooking time is about 20 minutes.) Stir in the remaining ingredients; heat through.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Weekly Meal Planning, Week of 8.15.11

Monday: Bacon, egg and cheese sandwiches and tater tots. Breakfast for dinner night is always my favorite.

Tuesday: Creamy roasted tomato pesto pasta. This is still my very favorite pasta dish, and I think it always will be. Forever and ever amen.

Wednesday: Joe’s ribs (his super ultra secret recipe that he will not share (and which I personally believe changes every single time he makes them, but they're always delicious so I don't really care)), stovetop macaroni and cheese, green beans

Thursday: Pork loin sandwiches and chips. These sandwiches sound delicious, and I can't wait to try them!

Friday: Dinner out

Saturday: Peach pecan chicken sandwiches with jalapeno mayonnaise, fries. I recently downloaded the Every Day with Rachael Ray FoodFaves iPhone app, and this was one of the first recipes I saw when I was browsing it. I haven't been able to get it out of my head since.

Sunday: Grilled chicken over roasted bell pepper pasta. I've been craving this pasta lately, but I've kept it off the menu because peppers are so expensive. But lo and behold, what's on sale at my grocery store this week? Bell peppers! Thank you, universe!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Saturdays with Rachael Ray: Cheeseburgers with Caramelized Onion and Bacon Jam

I think it’s pretty clear by now how much I love a good burger, right? And also how much I love bacon? I thought so. I’m sure you can imagine how excited I was when I came across this recipe in an old issue of Every Day with Rachael Ray. I thought about it for weeks before I put it on our menu, and then I just couldn’t wait any longer. I had to have it. And it certainly didn’t disappoint!

This particular burger is right up there with my favorite burgers ever. The combination of the sauce and the jam on top of the burgers is just so perfect. The Dijon mustard gives the meat itself really delicious flavor, and makes them so juicy too.

The only thing I changed about the recipe was the cooking method. I fried the bacon in a skillet, then drained off most of the grease and cooked the burgers in what remained. It added a smoky dimension of flavor to the burgers themselves that was really delicious. This burger won the People’s Choice award at one of Rachael’s Burger Bashes, and I can definitely see why. It’s amazing.

Be sure to check out Taste and Tell’s Saturdays with Rachael Ray for more delicious recipes!

Cheeseburgers with Caramelized Onion and Bacon Jam
slightly adapted from Every Day with Rachael Ray

1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper
6 slices bacon, chopped
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 large white onion, chopped (2 cups)
1 1/3 pounds ground beef chuck
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
4 slices American cheese
4 rolls, split and toasted
4 dill pickles, shaved into ribbons

1. In a small bowl, combine the ketchup, mayonnaise, vinegar and Worcestershire sauce; season with salt and pepper.

2. Add bacon to a large skillet and cook to desired crispness. Drain on paper towels. Drain all but about 1 tablespoon of bacon drippings from skillet; reserve skillet.

3. Meanwhile, in a large skillet or Dutch oven, heat the butter and oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and golden-brown, 15 to 20 minutes; season with salt and pepper. Stir in the bacon.

4. While the onions are cooking, in a large bowl, combine the ground beef and mustard; season with salt and pepper. Shape into 4 patties. Add to the reserved skillet you used for the bacon and cook to desired doneness. During the last 2 minutes of cooking, top each patty with a cheese slice.

5. Place each patty on a roll bottom, then top with some of the onion and bacon jam, the ketchup-mayo sauce, pickles and a roll top.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Cashew Caramel Brownies

I’ve been sitting on these brownies for a while now, and I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to share them. Well, I haven’t been sitting on the brownies themselves – just the recipe. But now that I think about it, maybe I have been sitting on the brownies, in a sense, since I ate so many of them when I made these. :)

I’m a sucker for the cashew/caramel combination, and also the caramel/chocolate combination, so when I saw this recipe there was no chance I wouldn’t be making these. We all loved them. They’re fudgy and sweet and rich and decadent. I love the textural balance of the fudgy brownie, the crunchy cashews and the gooey caramel. I never met a brownie I didn’t like, but I really, really liked this one.

Cashew Caramel Brownies
from 5 Dollar Dinners

4 ounces bittersweet baking chocolate, chopped
1 cup butter
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips, divided
4 eggs
1 3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
20 caramels, cut into quarters
1 cup cashews, chopped

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease and flour a 9 × 13-inch baking dish.

2. Melt the chopped baking chocolate with the butter and 1 cup of the chocolate chips in a glass bowl in the microwave for 1 1/2 minutes. Stir together. Let cool while you start on the next part.

3. In a stand mixer or mixing bowl, beat together the eggs, sugar and vanilla. After the chocolate mixture has cooled, beat it into the eggs mixture. Stir in the flour, baking powder and salt.

4. Gently fold in the rest of the chocolate chips, the caramels and the chopped cashews. Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish.

5. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean in the center.

6. Let cool slightly before cutting and serving. Serve warm or, to serve after cooled, warm the brownies in the microwave for 8 to 10 seconds, or long enough to make the caramel soft again.