Monday, June 22, 2009

Oh So Berry Good!

I am sitting here enjoying a bowl of reheated blackberry cobbler that I made last night for Father's Day. I found this recipe last summer and loved it, and I can't believe I am just now making it again. I think I love it so much because it is just so simple- it's like a cobbler your grandma would make. If you like berries, you will love this!!! And by the way, I am well aware I am no Pioneer Woman- in neither my cooking skills, and certainly not in my photography skills, but I did include step by step pictures for this one that are solely for practical purposes =) Hopefully they will help with the instructions, despite their unprettiness- how could they be pretty with my lovely taupe laminate counter tops for a background anyways? (Oh well=)

Blackberry Cobbler
1 cup butter divided (that is 2 sticks, so there is no need to divide)
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 1/2 cups self rising flour (if not self rising, use the same amount regular with 1/4 tsp. salt and 2 1/4 tsp. baking powder- but I tell you, I do love the self rising for this recipe!)
1/3 cup milk, room temperature
2 cups fresh or frozen blackberries
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 Tbs. sugar

In 10 in. oval or round baking dish, melt 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter; set aside.
In saucepan, heat sugar and water until the sugar is dissolved.
Place flour in mixing bowl; cut in remaining butter (second stick- which is good to have softened) until fine crumbs form.
Add milk, stirring with a fork until dough leaves the side of the bowl.

Turn out onto a floured surface and knead three or four times.

Roll out to an 11x9 in. rectangle that is about 1/4 in. thick.

Spread berries over dough and sprinkle with cinnamon. (I like to smash some of my berries up a little during this step.)

Roll up, jelly roll style. (My dough sometimes crack in this step- especially if I use frozen berries that are still a little cold- I don't think it hurts anything. I also do this on wax paper not to stain those beloved taupe Formica counters too badly)

Cut into 1/4 in. thick slices and carefully lay slices in baking dish over butter. (I usually have to smush them in there and still end up with two layers- that is perfectly good.)

Pour sugar syrup around slices. (You will think uh- oh! But trust me it is supposed to look like that- I promise the water will absorb!)

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Remove and sprinkle with sugar and bake 15 minutes more and this is what you will pull out....

My favorite way to serve it is hot with a heaping scoop of vanilla ice cream... duh!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Sweet Treat

I for some reason woke up yesterday morning wanting to make these, and once I have something in my head I want to do, well, we know that that usually turns out....

(Martha's picture- I thought this one may look more appetizing than mine below =)

This is a Martha Stewart recipe that I used to make over at a family that I used to work for, keeping their kids after school. The mom was quite the cook AND baker!!! I am not a great baker, but she would leave me ideas for things I could make in the afternoons with all the ingredients there, and I always loved it that she did that. Again, I'm not the greatest baker, even though baking is in my blood ( My grandfather was a baker by profession- and an awesome one at that, and my mom actually just did her 1st wedding cake!) Despite the fact that the genes apparently skipped me, I do enjoy it **when I have the extra time** I don't like to bake in a rush. If you've got the time, these cookies are pretty fun to make- and of course even more fun to eat!!

Peanut Butter Surprise Cookies

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
4 Tbs. unsalted butter, room temp
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla

1 1/2 cup flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt

1/3 cup sugar- for rolling dough in
36 mini Reese's cups, unwrapped and chilled ( my batch never makes 36 cookies worth, so you may not want to unwrap that many to start with)

Heat oven to 350.

Mix Peanut butter and butter until smooth. Add in brown sugar and beat well, scraping down sides as needed. Beat in eggs and vanilla until well blended.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt to mix. Beat into the peanut butter mixture in two batches until well mixed.

Roll dough into balls by Tablespoon and roll to coat in the sugar.
Place on insulated baking sheet and bake for 7 minutes or until starting to slightly puff up. Remove and press a peanut butter cup into the center of each cookie. Return to oven and bake an additional 6 minutes, or until golden. Let cool on baking sheet for at least 10 minutes before transferring.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Bringing Jamaica to You!

When we were dating Ryan decided he wanted to be sure he knew how to grill. So I got him the Grilling for Dummies book to help him out. =) I hadn't looked at this in years, but when we were in the mood to grill the other night and I wanted some inspiration I pulled this book out of my cookbook cabinet. I saw this recipe and decided that I wanted to give it a whirl- even though it sounded totally different- I have never made a jerk marinade before. Some of the ingredients sounded strange to me, but after looking at several other jerk recipes, it lined right up- so we did it and it was AWESOME! Ryan was skeptical at 1st when I said I was going to make jerk chicken- as the memories of the lime green bony stuff we "ate" on our mission trip to Jamaica came flooding into his head. "No honey, that was the curried goat that we ate after seeing it sitting on some one's doorstep on the way to our work site that morning." Relieved that that was NOT was I was planning on setting before him that night, he jumped on board and he thought it was delightfully delicious as well!! Even though he would never use the words "delightfully delicious" himself =). Be daring- give it a try- you won't be disappointed, I promise.

Jerk Seasoned Chicken Breasts

About 2-3 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts ( the recipe said eight, but for me, that was a five pack)

1/ 4cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup orange juice
3 scallions, finely chopped (green and white parts)
4 medium cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 Tbs. lime juice (about 1 lime will produce that for ya!)
2 Tbs. soy sauce
1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1 tsp. brown sugar, packed
1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
1/2 tsp. ground allspice
1/2 tsp. dried leaf time
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp. nutmeg

Trim chicken of fat and rinse and dry well. Combine remaining ingredients, beating with a fork or whisk to mix well. Place chicken in a large freezer bag (or a shallow dish) and pour marinade over. Seal the bag pressing out the air, and refrigerate for 6 hours or overnight, turning occasionally to coat well.

Place chicken on well oiled, preheated grill and grill for 10-12 minutes total (5-6 on each side) or until done.

Seriously even if you are freaked out by the ingredients- try it! We had it with Lipton's oven roasted potatoes and roasted fresh asparagus. Yummy!

Yes, Another Casserole

I cooked this recipe the other night on a night where we didn't really know what to have and I was looking for something simple. I wasn't really expecting it to be something to brag about or to make as a "usual", but we actually really enjoyed it and I will definitely make it from now on. It's beefy, noodley creamy, saucy, and cheesy- and for me that spells comfort food!!! If you shied away from the previous pasta casserole that I just posted because it had too much "stuff" you weren't a fan of- this one may be a little more up your ally. I also got this out of our church cookbook.

Toula's Casserole

1 lb. ground beef ( I used a little more)
16 oz. can tomatoes ( I always prefer the petite diced for stuff like this)
8 oz. can tomato sauce
2 tsp. salt
2 cloves garlic, crushed
8 oz. noodles ( I used wide egg noodles)
1 cup sour cream
3 oz. cream cheese
6 green onions, chopped (I didn't use quite that many)
1 cup (+) grated Cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350.
Brown meat and drain. Stir in tomato sauce, salt, garlic, and sugar. ( I also added some Italian seasoning in, thinking it may need something more, I then thought I might regret that decision since this isn't really specifically an Italian dish, but I definitely don't think it hurt anything, and may have added some flavor- I also of course peppered the sauce generously). Simmer for 10 minutes. Cook noodles and drain. While warm, mix sour cream, cream cheese, and onions in with noodles.
Layer in a baking dish ( my 2 1/2 qt. Corning wear was filled, but fir perfect). Start with meat, then noodles, then a layer of cheese and then I did another layer of meat and topped with cheese. Bake for about 30 minutes.

I didn't take a picture this time around, because we just dug in and I really didn't think it was much to impress- but it reallywas a good simple, comforting and satisfying meal paired with a salad.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

One Dish Bliss

Here you have a true meal in one. I tried this recipe that a gal I know had put in our church cookbook and I believe she said she got it from a Southern Living easy weeknight meals. I wasn't sure how it would turn out with all the ingredients and I didn't want it to taste too "casseroley" with the cream soup and all, but it really didn't and we enjoyed it as just a good hearty meal.
It was easy, but I did it on a night when I had lots of time to dirty and clean dishes as I went and do all my prep work- if you don't you will have the sink piled up with dirty bowls and pots by the time you are done, and that is no fun! It would make a great meal to take to someone- just bring it to them made up and ready to pop in the oven.

Three Cheese Chicken Pasta

8 oz. penne pasta ( I cooked more)
1 tsp olive oil
8 oz. fresh mushrooms, sliced thin
1 small onion, chopped fine
1 small red bell pepper, chopped fine
1 box frozen spinach
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. pepper
16 oz. cottage cheese
2 c. shredded roasted chicken (using a rotisserie chicken is the way to go)
1 c. sharp cheddar, shredded
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 cup milk
1 can cream of chicken soup

Preheat oven to 425.

Cook pasta and spinach according to package and drain. (Drain spinach well!!)

Heat olive oil in large skillet over med-high heat. Saute mushrooms, peppers, and onion for about 4 minutes. Add spinach, oregano, and pepper and saute an additional 3 minutes. Set aside.

In large bowl, combine cottage cheese, spinach mixture, pasta, chicken, 3/4 c. cheddar, and 1/4 c. Parmesan, milk, and soup. Spoon into a greased 2 quart baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining cheeses and bake for 25 minutes.

A Healthier Choice

We are not health nuts by any stretch of the imagination- but I am always open to trying healthy things and I would probably try cooking with light ingredients more often if my husband was more open to the idea- not that I want to eat beans and rice all the time- but you know what I mean. Anyway, maybe we made some progress last week when I made... gasp... TURKEY BURGERS! I had ordered one at a restaurant that was very good and was wanting to give it a whirl. So these are the ones I made and I must say, I thought it was delicious and even Ryan- who was completely UNstoked about the idea, enjoyed them I believe.

Tex- Mex Turkey Burgers

1 1/4 lb. ground turkey
1 envelope taco seasoning
1 Tbs. dried cilantro flakes ( I used fresh because I love fresh cilantro so much!)
1 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup salsa
4 hamburger buns split ( I toasted mine)
4 lettuce leaves

In bowl, combine turkey, taco seasoning, and cilantro- shape into four patties ( I got 2 packs of turkey and doubled the seasoning and it made 5 nice large patties). Grill covered, over medium heat 5 minutes on each side. Sprinkle with cheese and grill 2-3 minutes longer, until melted. Combine sour cream and salsa. Serve burgers on buns with lettuce and sour cream mixture.