Saturday, April 2, 2011

C'est le poulet pour le dîner (It's Chicken for Dinner)


Another Way to Eat Chicken 
          In my ever increasing struggle to help my boys experience new things, I designated this evening French Night.  It’s not a fancy title, but since my first venture into french cuisine was successful, I thought that I would try it one more time.  If my guys had thier way, I would be making sloppy joes, hamburgers, meatloaf and pototoes, or some variation of any of these, every night.  Don’t get me wrong, I love a good burger, but it gets boring.  I decided to make Chicken Fricassee (Fricassée de Poulet).  I found this recipe on Easy French Food.


Fricassée de Poulet

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced or crushed
  • 1 1/2 pounds skinned chicken breasts, cubed in bite sized pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/2 pound mushrooms, cleaned and sliced 1/4 inch
  • 3 medium carrots, scraped and julienned in 1/4 inch wide strips
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
  • 1/2 cup crème fraîche or whipping cream
Melt the butter and olive oil together in a Dutch oven or other heavy large skillet on medium heat. Add the chopped onion and crushed garlic and cook for five minutes stirring occasionally. Add the chicken and brown on all sides - about five minutes. Stir in salt and pepper.
 

Sprinkle the top of the chicken with the flour and stir for 1 minute, thoroughly coating the chicken with the flour.
 

 
Stir in the water and wine and then the prepared mushrooms, carrots and tarragon. Bring to a low boil, cover and simmer on medium low heat for 15 minutes or just until the vegetables are cooked as you like them.
Turn off the heat and stir in the crème fraîche. Serve hot.
 


Bon Appetit.
  
 
Makes 6 servings.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A Cookie That's Good For You? I'll Believe It When I Taste It!



Breakfast Fruit and Nut Cookie
  • ½ cup Brown Sugar
  • ¼ cup light oil
  • 3 Egg whites
  • ¼ cup finely chopped dried figs
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • ½ cup whole wheat flour
  • ½ cup Bran flakes
  • 2 Tbsp ground flax seed
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp allspice
  • ¼ cup slivered almonds
  • 1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  • 2. Combine sugar, oil and egg whites in large mixing bowl; add in dried fruits and vanilla.
  • 3. Combine all dry ingredients minus almonds and add to egg mixture. Mix until just blended. Stir in almonds.
  • 4. Drop by tablespoon full onto parchment paper covered baking sheet and bake for 12 minutes or until almost set. Remove and cool in pans before transfering to wire rack to cool completely.

  • Nutrition information: (per cookie. Calories: 15g, Calories from Fat : 156, Protein : 2g, Carbs: 22g, Dietary Fiber: 1g, Sugars: 12g, Fat: 6g, Sodium: 26g


Thursday, March 10, 2011

Chocolate Croissants...The Easy Way

Ingredients

  • 1 (13-ounce) packet ready rolled butter puff pastry
  • 1 (100-gram) chocolate bar (milk or dark depending on taste)
  • 1 egg beaten

Directions

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Unfurl the sheet of pastry and then cut it into 6 squares. *I cut mine into only 4, because I wanted them a little bigger.


Cut each square diagonally to give 2 triangles (they will appear quite small). Put the triangle with the wider part facing you and the point away from you.


Break off small pieces of chocolate (approx.1cm/half inch) to place about 2cm/3/4-inch up from the wide end nearest you.  *I used Hershey's Chocolate, both milk and dark, and used 1square,cut into quarters and lined them across the wider edge.



Then carefully roll from that chocolate loaded end towards the point of the triangle.

You should now have something resembling a straight croissant, seal it slightly with your fingertips and curl it around into a crescent.


Place the chocolate croissants on a lined baking tray and paint with the beaten egg. Bake for 15 minutes until golden and puffy and exuberantly, if miniaturely, croissant-like. *I used our convection oven, so I did not change the temperature, but only baked for 10 minutes. Just be sure to adjust the baking time if you are making them a bigger than the original recipe.


*This recipe is from Food Network's Nigella Lawson's Nigella Express:  Episonde Get Up and Go.  Check this link for other fast and delicious breakfast and brunch recipes.

A Traditional Chocolate Filled Croissant

 

Ingredients

  • 1  cup  butter, softened
  • 2  (1/4-ounce) envelopes active dry yeast
  • 3  tablespoons  sugar, divided
  • 1/2  cup  warm water 105º to 115º
  • 2/3  cup  milk
  • 4  cups  to 4 1/2 all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1/4  cup  vegetable oil
  • 2  teaspoons  salt
  • 2  large eggs
  • 2  or 3 tiny rectangles chocolate candy bar

Preparation

Press butter into a 10- x 8-inch rectangle on wax paper; chill.

Combine yeast, 1 tablespoon sugar, and water in a 2-cup liquid measuring cup; let stand 5
minutes.

Heat milk to 105° to 115°. Combine yeast mixture, warm milk, remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, 2 cups flour, and next 3 ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Beat mixture at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Gradually stir in enough remaining flour to make a soft dough.

Turn dough out onto a floured surface, and knead until smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes). Place in a well-greased bowl, turning to grease top.

Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 1 hour or until doubled in bulk.

Punch dough down. Cover with plastic wrap, and chill dough 1 hour.

Punch dough down; turn out onto a lightly floured surface, and roll into a 24- x 10-inch rectangle. Place chilled butter rectangle in center of dough rectangle, and carefully fold dough over butter. Pinch edges to seal.

Roll dough into an 18- x 10-inch rectangle; fold into thirds, beginning with short side. Cover and chill 1 hour.

Repeat rolling and folding procedure twice, chilling dough 30 minutes each time. Wrap dough in aluminum foil, and chill 8 hours.

Divide dough into 4 equal portions. Roll 1 portion into a 12-inch circle on a lightly floured surface, and cut into 6 wedges (keep remaining dough chilled). Place 2 to 3 tiny rectangles of a milk chocolate candy bar, beginning on the wide end of each croissant dough wedge, and roll up each wedge, tightly. Place, point side down, on greased baking sheets, gently curving rolls into crescent shapes. Cover and let rise in a warm place, free from drafts, 30 minutes or until doubled in bulk.

Bake at 425° for 8 minutes or until lightly golden. Cool croissants slightly on baking sheets, and transfer to wire racks to cool. Repeat procedure with remaining dough portions.

Yield: 2 dozen

*I copied this recipe from My Recipes.  They took this recipe from Southern Living November 1996

Southern Living, NOVEMBER 1996

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Ooo La La...And a Whole Lot of Yum.

The Meal
     This latest meal was inspired by “It’s Complicated”.  The movie itself was really funny and my husband and I enjoyed it.  In it Meryl Streep’s character is a trained French pastry chef and some of the delicious goodies that she makes in the movie are French inspired.  In one scene, she is entertaining Steve Martin’s character and while I should have been paying more attention to the storyline, I just could not take my eyes off of the dinner that she had prepared for him.  I did a quick Google search and was able to find it.  Along with the recipe for the Lavender ice cream that she made for Alec Baldwin’s character.  Are you seeing a theme here?  Once again, it is being proven that the way to a man’s heart is through his belly.


Croque Monsieur
Ingredients:
2 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. flour
1 1/2 cups milk
A pinch of salt, fresh ground pepper, nutmeg, or more to taste
6 ounces Gruyère cheese, grated (about 1 1/2 cups, grated)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (packed)
8 slices of French or Italian bread
12 oz. ham, sliced
Dijon mustard

Prep:
1.  Preheat oven to 400°

2.  Make the Béchamel sauce.  Melt the butter in a small saucepan on medium/low heat until it just starts to bubble.  Add the flour and cook, stirring until smooth, about 2 minutes.  Slowly add the milk, whisking continuously, cooking until thick.  Remove from heat.  Add the salt, pepper, and nutmeg.  Stir in the Parmesan and ¼ cup of the grated Gruyère.  Set aside.

3.  Lay out the bread slices on a baking sheet and toast them in the oven, a few minutes on each side, until lightly toasted.  For extra flavor, you can spread some butter on the bread slices before you toast them. *Alternatively, you can assemble the sandwiches as follows in step 4 and grill them in a skillet, instead of toasting the bread in the oven.  And, then finish them in the broiler with the béchamel sauce.

4.  Lightly brush half the toasted slices with mustard.  Add the ham slices and about evenly distribute about 1 cup of the Gruyère cheese.  Top with the other toasted bread slices.

5.  Spoon on the béchamel sauce to the tops of the sandwiches.  Sprinkle with the remaining Gruyère cheese.  Place on a broiling pan.  Bake in the oven for 5 minutes, then turn on the broiler and broil for an additional 3 to 5 minutes, until the cheese topping is bubbly and lightly browned.

Makes 4 servings

*This recipe was copied from the Simply Recipes website.  And it was adapted from several recipes, including one by Debra Weber and Ina Garten.



The Dessert
Lavender Ice Cream
Ingredients:
2 cups milk
2/3 cup cream
3 egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup fresh lavender blossoms (this link is for information on cooking w/ lavender)

Prep:
1.  Combine teh milk, cream, and lavender flowers in a heavy saucepan
2.  Gently warm mixture on medium heat, until foamy.
3.  In a seperate bowl, mix eggs until well blended and thick.
4.  Add sugar to eggs, stirring well.
5.  Strain milk/cream, to remove the lavender blossoms, if desired.
6.  Add 1/2 cup of warm milk/cream mixture to eggs, blend thoroughly.
7.  Finally, add the egg mixture to the remaining milk/cream mixture.
8.  Cool completely in the refrigerator, before pouring into your favorite ice cream maker.

*This recipe was copied from Bake Space.
*I would like to add that I believe that this recipe is a good recipe.  And the final bad results, were due to the maker (me).  It was a learning experience for all of us, and I do not wish for my horrific attempt at making this to reflect badly on this recipe and/or website.  If you knew what you were doing, I'm sure that this would have been delicious.  Thank you.


Friday, February 25, 2011

Baby, It's Cold Outside. So We're Staying Warm With Stew.

There Once Was A Stew...
     There once was a stew that my family loved.  It came from humble beginnings.  I first found this little old recipe in a Better Homes and Gardens:  New Cook Book circa 1992.  It was given to us as a wedding present.  The book, not the stew.  That would be strange.   Anyways... Not being much of a cook when we were first married, I could boil water and burn a hamburger patty, I decided that I wanted to make a meal that would impress my dear husband, so I brushed the dust off of this cookbook and started to flip through it.  I knew one thing for certain, whatever I would decide to make it would have to have hearty meat and potatoes.  My search led me to this recipe, I looked it over and decided that it was not quite right, but it had promise.  I knew one other thing about my husband and his palette.  He likes his food, like he likes me...hot and spicy, Baby!  (One of my boys has just informed me that this comment is TMI, LOL!)  I made a few adjustments to the original recipe and it is now my infamous "Robin's Fingertip Stew."  I won't elaborate, but I am sure that you can figure it out.  It's a family joke.


Drum roll.........Here it is.

My Stew
2 Tbsp. flour
11/4 to 1 1/2 lbs. of beef stew meat
2 Tbsp. EVOO
1 bottle of V-8 Spicy juice cocktail
1/2 cup of chopped onion
1 can of beef broth-low sodium
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp.dried thyme 
3-4 potatoes, peeled and cubed
3 carrots, sliced
2 celery stalks, sliced

*In a ziploc bag, place meat cubes and flour.  Shake to coat.
*In a large saucepan, heat up the oil and brown half the meat and then repeat with the rest of the meat.
*Add the V-8, onion, beef broth, garlic, basil, thyme, ancho chili pepper, and chipotle chili pepper. 
*Bring to a boil; reduce heat.
*Cover and simmer for 1 to 1 1/4 hours or until the meat is nearly tender.


*Add potatoes, carrots and celery.
*Cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until the veggies are cooked.



This recipe makes roughly 8 servings.  Enough for the 5 of us, and some leftovers for some the next evening.

Pros:
     *Easy to make
     *Versatile.  This recipe can be easily tweeked to your liking.  To spicy, to many veggies or not enough of either.  Feel free to make your own adjustments.
     *We all agree that this is a great, cold weather meal.  It even tastes better the next day.
     *Can be made in a crockpot.  I have the directions, so feel free to contact me if you would like more information.

Cons:
     *Just can't think of any.  Oh wait, there is one.  Because it takes 2 hours to cook, it is not a last minute fix.  You have to plan ahead.

The Verdict:
     *This is and always will be a family favorite.  I hope that you enjoy this one.







Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Warning! You Are About To Fall In Love With A Cake

The Teaser…

        I tried a new cake and I am in love. 

        If you can only imagine that there could be a way that chocolate cake could get even better, than you have found the answer to your chocolate desires.  The salty sweet mix of the salted caramel with the moist lusciousness of a chocolate cake is out of this world.  Is your mouth watering yet?  I’ll give you a moment if you need to go and raid your private chocolate stash for a quick fix.  Oh come on.  You know you have one.  We all do, we’re women, for God’s sake.

The Recipe…
          I found this delightful recipe on a wonderful blog, called Heather’s Dish.  I’m a new fan and can’t wait to try many others by her.  But, this one, in particular pulled me in.  I was quickly under its power and couldn’t stop thinking about it.  I HAD to try it.  So, here it is:
       
SALTED CARAMEL CHOCOLATE CAKE
§             1 box chocolate cake mix (feel free to make it from scratch if you wish!)
§             1 lb brown sugar
§             1 cup heavy cream
§             1/2 tsp baking soda
§             1 tsp Kosher salt (you could use Fleur de Sel if you have it)
§             1 stick of butter, cut into 8 pieces
Bake the cake according to package directions.  Let cool completely before frosting.  In a heavy-bottom pot stir together the brown sugar and cream.  Bring to a rapid boil for 1 minute.  Add the baking soda and boil for another minute.  Remove from the heat and stir in the salt.  Make sure you put the mixture into the bowl you plan to whip it in, otherwise you’ll have a sticky mess to clean up.  Place the pieces of butter on top, but don’t stir.  Cover with plastic wrap and let cool at room temperature overnight.  In the morning (or whenever you plan to use it), whip the mixture on high speeds for 3-5 minutes.  If you prefer the frosting be a little thicker, just place in the fridge for 20-30 minutes, whip again, and then spread it on the cake.

My Opinion:
            Pros:
                                *Deliciously, delightful.  You will wow anyone that you serve this to.
                                *Easy to make.  All of the ingredients are things that you most likely have on hand.  I did have to run to the store to buy the heavy whipping cream.  But, I would imagine that hard-core bakers and die hards would have this on hand.  I only bake when I am inspired to do so.  That’s not very often, especially when Indianapolis has sooooo many great bakeries.  Why bake when you can buy?  Don’t hate me.
                Cons:
                                *It is not a last minute fix if your thinking, “Oooooo, I’m having a craving for something sweet and salty.”  You definitely have to think ahead.  The frosting has to sit overnight, untouched.
                                *You will be tempted to taste if every chance that you get.  Let’s just say that during the whipping process, I tasted it quite often.  Hey, it was for quality control.  I would never feed my guys something that I wouldn’t eat.

In Verdict:
            Thumbs way up from all of my guys.  Or, as my sweet hubby would say after just one bite, “That doesn’t suck!”