Monday, June 29, 2009

Apple Frogs

Another winner from the Family Fun magazine!

Green apples
Green grapes
Cream cheese or frosting for 'glue'
Mini marshmallows

Sunday, June 28, 2009

S'more Brownies

I can't think about s'mores without remembering the line from The Sandlot "You wanna s'more? Some more of what?" I haven't got anything yet" Classic...

I've seen several different variations of this concept, but this particular recipe comes from Real Mom Kichen. They are certainly delicious, but make sure you have a glass of milk close!

Note: My mom made these for us while we were in AZ and put the graham crackers on the top after the brownies baked. I preferred them this way since the graham crackers stayed crisp, but then again, we were in AZ and there was no humidity. :)

8-10 graham crackers
1 box fudge brownie mix (Betty Crocker; 1/4 c. water, 2/3 c. oil, 2 eggs)
3 cups miniature marshmallows
2/3 cup chopped peanuts (optional, I used almonds)
1 cup semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips (semi-sweet)

Place graham crackers in a single layer on the bottom of a foil-lined and greased 9x13 pan. A couple of the graham crackers will need to be cut to fit and cover the bottom of the pan. Prepare brownie mix according to package directions, then pour the batter over the graham crackers. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove the pan from the oven and top with the marshmallows and chocolate chips. Return the pan to the oven for 3 more minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with nuts inf desired. Cool before cutting into squares.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Junior's Cheesecake Cookbook

If you like cheesecake, you really should purchase this book. Brandon bought it about 6 months ago and has been trying a different cheesecake each month - poor me! :)
My mom was here over Father's day and helped me tackle the Carrot Cake Cheesecake. It takes a lot of time to make, but it's worth it!

Slamma Jamma Parmigiana

Chicken Parmigiana is always Brandon's first choice when we go out to eat at an Italian restaurant. We saw Guy Fieri make his version on Food Network a couple months ago and Brandon made it his choice for Father's Day dinner. I must say it was pretty tasty! I didn't make the tomato sauce that goes with this recipe, but I'm including it so I remember to try it next time.

4 (5-ounce) boneless, skinless, trimmed chicken breasts
1/2 cup kosher salt (if you use table salt, reduce to 1/4 cup)
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1 1/2 cups dried bread crumbs
1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano ( 1/2 tsp.)
1/4 teaspoon dried basil (1/2 tsp.)
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced (note, freshly grated mozz melts and looks better)
1/4 pound Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus extra for garnish, grated
Olive oil, for frying (about 2 cups) (I don't think I used this much)
1 pound penne rigate, cooked al dente
Tomato Sauce, recipe follows
1/4 cup minced Italian parsley, for garnish

Lightly pound the chicken breasts to 1/2-inch thickness. Combine the kosher salt, sugar, and 1 quart of water in a 1-gallon size resealable plastic bag; shake until dissolved. Add the chicken breasts and soak at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Place the flour in a medium bowl. Remove the chicken from the brine. Shake off excess moisture and, with tongs, lightly dredge the chicken in the flour. Shake off the excess flour and transfer to a large plate.

Mix the eggs and milk in medium bowl and whisk thoroughly. In a separate bowl combine the bread crumbs, oregano, basil, parsley, sea salt, and pepper. Dredge the chicken in the egg and milk mixture with tongs and let excess mixture drain off. Now dredge the chicken into the bread crumb mixture, and lightly pat down in the bread crumbs to adhere.

Preheat the broiler.

Let the breaded chicken sit for 5 minutes before frying. In a medium saucepan on medium-high heat, add enough olive oil to come 1/3 up the side of the chicken. Cook the chicken in batches until golden brown on both sides. Remove from the pan when cooked and place on a sheet tray. Repeat with remaining chicken.

When all the chicken is cooked, sprinkle mozzarella and Parmesan evenly over the top. Place under the broiler until the cheese melts and is golden brown.

Serve chicken over pasta and ladle tomato sauce on top. Garnish with additional Parmesan and parsley.

Tomato Sauce:
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, minced
4 garlic cloves, crushed
6 cups peeled and diced Roma tomatoes
1 tablespoon thinly sliced fresh basil leaves
1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a saucepan. Add the onions and cook until translucent. Add the garlic and cook until almost brown, then add tomatoes. Saute for 30 minutes over low to medium heat. Add the basil and oregano and continue to cook for 30 minutes longer. Puree in a food mill or let cool and puree in a food processor. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Chicken Tikka Masala

While I was in college I was privileged to work with a group of very ethnically diverse IBM contractors. During those years I got to try and grew to love foods from all over the world, including Indian. Although the spices in this dish are very strong, the cream sauce adds a nice balance. This recipe comes from Pioneer Woman/Pastor Ryan. YUM!

The full recipe could easily serve 6 adults

3-4 Chicken Breasts
Ground Coriander
1/2 cup plain yogurt
6 Tbsp. Butter
1 1/2 cups Heavy Cream
28 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 large onion (1/2 large)
4 cloves garlic (2-3)
2 in. chunk fresh ginger
(1 tsp. minced from jar)
3 Tbsp. Garam Masala (I used McCormick)
Kosher Salt
1 Tbsp. Sugar
2 Cups Basmati Rice

Fresh Cilantro
Serrano Pepper
1 Tbsp. Turmeric (1 1/2 tsp)
Frozen Peas (1/2 cup or so)

Start by seasoning the chicken breasts with some Kosher salt. Next sprinkle them on both sides with some coriander and cumin. Then coat the chicken breasts completely with the plain yogurt. Set the chicken on a metal cooling rack over a foil-lined baking sheet and place it about 10-12 inches below a broiler for 5-7 minutes per side. Watch carefully so as not to totally char the chicken. It should have slightly blackened edges. Remove from oven.

Next dice one large onion. In a large skillet melt 2 Tbsp. butter over medium-high heat. Toss in the onions and sautee until they are slightly browned. As the onions cook, mince your garlic.

Next cut off the outer skin and mince or grate a 1 by 2 inch chunk of fresh ginger. Add the garlic and ginger to the onions. Also throw in about 1 Tbsp. of salt (this was quite salty, even using kosher salt 1 1/2 tsp would be enough).
Next you are going to add about 3 Tbsp. Garam Masala spice. And if you like it hot this is also where you will add your hot chili peppers. Serranos work well. Now you are going to add your can of diced tomatoes. Continue cooking and stirring, scraping the bottom of the pan to deglaze it.

To a rice cooker, add 2 cups Basmati rice, 4 Tbsp. butter, 1 tsp. salt, 1 Tbsp. (1 1/2 - 2 tsp) Ground Turmeric and 4 cups water. Cover, turn on your rice cooker and walk away. If you do not have a rice cooker, cook your rice as usual but make sure that you use Basmati rice.

After the Tikki Masala sauce has had a chance to simmer for a little bit, add in the 1 1/2 cups of heavy cream. Now, chop up your chicken breasts into chunks and stir them into the Tikki Masala sauce. A handful of chopped fresh cilantro is a nice addition if you like cilantro. You can also throw some frozen peas into the cooked rice, give them a stir, and allow the heat of the rice to cook the peas. It tastes great and gives another nice dash of color.

Serve the rice with the Chicken Tikka Masala over the top. Make sure to have some Naan bread handy too.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Chocolate Cake and Frosting

I usually don't like cake; there are only a few exceptions and this cake is one of them. This recipe comes from a fabulous cook and is the best recipe for chocolate cake you'll ever find - promise! We especially love this cake with a layer of Junior's cheesecake in the middle (dubbed The Diet Killer)- definitely rich, but oh so delicious - perfect for a special occasion!

-Thomalee Abraham

2 cups sugar
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa
1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
1-1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

Heat oven to 350. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans (line with waxed paper for extra insurance!). Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in large mixer bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla; beat on medium speed of electric mixer 2 minutes. Stir in water (batter will be thin). Pour batter evenly into prepared pans. Bake 30-35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Frost when completely cool.

Chocolate Frosting
1/2 cup butter or margarine
2/3 cup cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Melt butter. Stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add small amount additional milk if needed. Stir in vanilla. Makes about 2 cups frosting.

Penne with Pesto & Summer Squash

There's nothing like using homegrown herbs and vegetables to make summery meals. The kids were a little skeptical of the new 'green sauce', but it ended up being a hit with the whole family.

8 oz penne pasta
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
1 zucchini squash, halved lengthwise and sliced
1 yellow squash, halved lengthiwise and sliced
Pesto sauce

Boil pasta. Saute chicken in olive oil, add squash and cook until tender. Add drained pasta and pesto sauce. Season with additional salt and pepper as needed. Top with additional Parmesan.

Pesto sauce- Taste of Home:
4 cups loosely packed basil leaves
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/2 tsp. salt
2 garlic gloves, peeled

Combine all ingredients in food processor except olive oil. Start processor and slowly stream in oil. Process until smooth.

Zucchini Bread

Our first garden is doing well and I'm pleased to report we have an abundant supply of yellow squash and zucchini. Austin has become somewhat of a picky eater lately and won't touch sauteed or steamed squash, but he likes this bread - as long as I remember to call it "Z" bread instead of zucchini bread!

-Mom Pulsipher (Grandma Carling)

1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
3 eggs, beaten
1 cup oil
2 cups grated zucchini
1 tsp. vanilla
3 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. baking powder
3 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped nuts

Beat sugars, eggs, oil, and vanilla until smooth. In a separate bowl, sift flour, salt, soda, baking powder, and cinnamon. Add to sugar mixture, stirring just until combined. Stir in zucchini and nuts. Pour into two greased and floured loaf pans. Bake at 325 for 50-60 minutes.