Friday, December 30, 2011

Bang Bang Shrimp

Here's the other app I made for Christmas evening!  This is a replica of the famous Bang Bang Shrimp appetizer from Bonefish Grill, one of my favorite restaurants!  To be honest, I wasn't so sure how it was going to turn out!  Their shrimp are perfectly crispy and I just didn't know if mine would end up mushy and whether the sauce would have the right flavors.

Let me tell you, they turned out soooo good!  I made one batch of the sauce with about half of the Sriracha and then the other half with the full amount because my sister doesn't like spicy, so I would suggest doing that if you are the same way.  I did the prep of peeling and deveining the shrimp the day before, then the rest of the day of.  You could also prep the sauce, and prep the shrimp with the coating (all the way until prior to frying) before guests arrive and quickly fry them when they arrive.  While there are quite a few steps in the process, its relatively easy, and so so worth the flavor!

Bang Bang Shirmp
from Fake Ginger via Pinterest

1 lb. medium shrimp, peeled and deveined

For the sauce:
1/2 cup mayonnaise
4-5 teaspoons chili garlic sauce, such as Sriracha sauce
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon rice vinegar

For the egg mixture:
1 egg, beaten
1 cup milk

For the breading mixture:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon dried basil

For frying:
1/2 canola oil or more if needed


Combine all ingredients for the sauce in a small bowl; cover and set aside.

Combine beaten egg with milk in shallow bowl; set aside.

Combine flour, panko, salt, black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, and basil in another shallow bowl; set aside.

Bread the shrimp by first coating each with the breading mixture. Dip breaded shrimp into the egg and milk mixture, and then back into the breading. Arrange the coated shrimp on a plate and pop them into the fridge for at least 20 minutes. This step will help the breading to stick on the shrimp when they are frying.

Heat oil in large skillet pan.  When oil is hot, fry shrimp 1 to 2 minutes per side or until golden brown. Drain on rack or paper towels.

When all shrimp has been fried, drop the shrimp into a large bowl. Spoon about 1/4 cup of sauce over shrimp and stir gently to coat.  I actually did this step in batches, I would spoon a couple tablespoons over about 10 shrimp that were cooling at a time and mix well.  I served with thinly diced scallions for extra crunch and flavor!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Pretzel Bites with Cheddar Cheese Dip

For the past few years on Christmas, we will spend the morning with Corey's family, middle of the day at my Grandparents, and then the evening at our house with just my mom, dad, & sister.  Its so nice to have a relaxing ending to the day!  As you can imagine we spend all day eating a huge brunch and then a huge lunch/dinner.  So the past two years I've just made a few appetizers for us to munch on after we open presents with my family.  One of the things I made this year were these awesome pretzel bites with cheddar cheese dip!  I had made these Ham & Cheese Pretzel Bites for a football game (found via Pinterest), but forgot to photograph them, so you didn't get to see them here!  They were really good, but I wanted to mix it up so instead I just made the pretzel dough into bites (with no ham & cheese) and me and my sis made this awesome cheddar cheese dip to dip them in!  They were really really good!  (Note: I made the dough ahead of time and kept it in the fridge over night.  I had trouble with the dough though, I would suggest making the pretzel bites all the way through if you want to make ahead and keep them in the fridge then warm them back up in the oven as suggested below.)

Pretzel Bites
yields: 42-48 bites

Ingredients:1 package (1/4 oz) active dry yeast
2 Tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon packed brown sugar, divided
1/4 cup warm water
1 cup warm milk
2 1/2 to 3 cups flour
6 cups water
4 teaspoons baking soda
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1-2 Tablespoons coarse salt

Directions:In a large bowl, combine the yeast, 1 tsp. brown sugar & warm water. Let stand until foamy, about 5-8 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together 2 tbsp. brown sugar and warm milk until brown sugar is dissolved.
Once yeast is foamy, add 2 1/2 cups flour & the milk mixture to the yeast. Stir with wooden spoon until a soft dough forms. Add remaining flour if dough is too sticky. Turn the dough out to a floured surface and knead a few times, forming a smooth ball. Alternatively, you can knead in a stand mixer with a dough hook briefly until dough is smooth.
Lightly oil a large bowl with olive oil and place dough in bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and allow dough to rise in a warm draft free area for 2 hours, until dough doubles in size and bubbles appear on the surface.
Meanwhile, cover a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside, or just spray with cooking spray.
Once dough has risen, lightly flour a surface for rolling the dough. Turn the dough out and divide into four equal pieces. Roll one section of the dough into a 12×4 inch rectangle. With the long side facing you, roll the dough up tightly as possibly. Cut the dough roll into 1 inch pieces and place on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining 3 sections of dough.
Once all pieces are cut, let them rest uncovered at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a medium sized pot, bring 6 cups of water to a boil. Once boiling, add in baking soda and reduce heat to a simmer. Add pretzels in batches and boil for 20 seconds each, turning once. Pretzels should be slightly puffed. Use a slotted spoon to transfer pretzels back to baking sheet.

Once all pretzels are boiled, place baking sheet in oven and bake until golden brown, approximately 15 minutes. Brush the warm pretzel bites with melted butter & sprinkle with sea salt.

If preparing these ahead of time, you can place the pretzel bites in a 200 degree oven and warm them up for about 10-15 minutes prior to serving. You can keep them in the warm oven until your guests arrive.
Cheddar Cheese Dip
yields the perfect amount for your pretzel bites above :)
1 Tablespoon butter
1 Tablespoon all purpose flour
1 cup milk
1 1/2  to 2 cups of grated Cheddar Cheese
cayenne pepper
garlic powder
salt & pepper
Melt the butter in a med. size saucepan over medium heat.  Add the flour and stir until blended, and
butter has turned lightly golden brown (3-5 minutes).  Slowly whisk in the milk and cook until thickened slightly.  Remove from heat and stir in the Cheddar Cheese until smooth and all of the cheese has melted.  Season with salt and pepper.  Taste, then add garlic powder & cayenne pepper if desired.  I added these spices to give it the extra flavor it needed to be really good! 

Monday, December 26, 2011

Scenes from Christmas 2011

breakfast, just me and Corey

my boys being silly and peering out buster's favorite window

cookie tray!

didn't get any pictures from early in the day but these are at the end of the night!  my sister, mom & me!

family christmas card 2011 ;)

the hubby and me
my dad, sis, me, & mom

pretzel bites & cheddar cheese dip

bang bang shirmp

tuckered puppy

Monday, December 19, 2011

Sweet Potato, Black Bean & Pablano Enchiladas

And chorizo if you wish!  The original recipe called for chorizo and I had some in the freezer so I used it, but honestly wished I hadn't!  It just made the enchiladas seem greasy to me.  But the hubby liked it, so it may just be me!  Totally your choice!  I also added black beans so you could just use those instead of chorizo for a cheap vegetarian meal.

I had some leftover sweet potatoes in the fridge from Thanksgiving so I searched pinterest for a sweet potato recipe and this is what I came up with!  They were so good and really really easy!  I made half with corn tortillas and half with flour and we liked the corn better, so thats what I suggest (they just don't stay together as easy)!

Sweet Potato, Black Bean, & Pablano Enchiladas
yields 10 enchiladas

Olive oil
1 medium sweet potato
1/2 sweet onion
1 pablano pepper
2 cloves garlic
1 link chorizo (optional)
1/2 cup black beans, drained & rinsed
10 taco size corn tortillas
1 can enchilada sauce
shredded cheese

Peel the sweet potato and cut into a half inch cubes.  Remove the stem and seeds from the poblano and also dice into half inch pieces.  Dice the onion & mince the garlic.

In a large skillet, cook the sweet potato, poblano, onion, and garlic in olive oil, over medium heat until they begin to soften (about 10 minutes).  (Optional: squeeze the chorizo out of it's casing into the skillet). Break up the meat and cook until thoroughly browned (about 5 minutes).  Add black beans if using.

Spray a large casserole dish with non-stick spray and preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Scoop about 3/4 cup of the chorizo sweet potato filling into each tortilla. Fold in the ends and then roll the tortilla up around the filling. Place the filled and rolled tortillas in the baking dish. They should fill the dish and fit tightly against each other to prevent unrolling.

Pour the enchilada sauce over the the rolled tortillas and top with shredded cheese. Bake in the oven until the edges begin to bubble (about 20 minutes). Serve hot.

Optional garnishes: green onion, cilantro, sour cream.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Spinach Lasagna Rolls

Oh man, these things were so so good.  And healthy for a pasta dish!  Double win!  You can really mix it up and use a different pasta if you wish, mannicotti or big stuffed shells.  I would highly recommend making more if you have the stuff so you can have leftovers.  I always seem to forget how much my husband eats and am surprised how quickly it goes when I was hoping to have more leftovers for lunches over the weekend.  Oh well, notes for next time!  Enjoy!

sorry the picture is soooo dark...looking forward to light in the evenings again, come on spring, haha!
Spinach Lasagna Rolls
via Skinnytaste
yields 9 rolls

9 lasagna noodles, wheat if you can find it!
10 oz fresh spinach
15 oz fat free ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg
salt and fresh pepper
32 oz tomato sauce (I used a combo of tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, and spices)
9 tbsp (about 3 oz) part skim mozzarella cheese, shredded (didn't have so I used fresh)

Preheat oven to 350.  Cook noodles according to package directions.  Add 1 or 2 tablespoons of water to a saucepan and heat over med low - med heat, adding spinach slowly and stirring to wilt.  Continue to add spinach until all wilted.  Drain water and squeeze out excess water once cool. 

Combine spinach, ricotta, Parmesan, egg, salt and pepper in a medium bowl.  Ladle about 1 cup sauce on the bottom of a 9 x 12 baking dish.

Place a piece of wax paper on the counter and lay out cooked, dry lasagna noodles.  Take 1/3 cup of ricotta mixture and spread evenly over noodle. Roll carefully and place seam side down onto the baking dish. Repeat with remaining noodles.

Ladle sauce over the noodles in the baking dish and top each one with 1 tbsp mozzarella cheese (I used half a slice of fresh mozzarella over each).  Cover and bake for 40 minutes, or until cheese melts.

To serve, ladle a little sauce on the plate and top with lasagna roll.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Grandma's Homemade Mac & Cheese

I've posted this recipe before, but have never been able to capture a picture!  Here it is and here is the recipe once again!

Grandma's Homemade Mac & Cheese
yields 9 x 13 inch casserole dish

2 tbl butter
2 tbl flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground mustard (dry mustard)
1/4 tsp pepper
a couple pinches of sugar
2 - 3 cups milk (I lean torward 2 1/2 to 3)
1 cup cubed velveeta cheese
2 1/2 - 3 cups elbow macaroni

Melt butter in saucepan.  Mix in flour & seasonings with a wisk.  Continue to heat over medium heat for a few minutes.  Mix in milk with wisk (this may take a few minutes for flour/butter mixture to disolve).  Bring milk to a boil while continuously stirring so it doesn't stick to the bottom of your saucepan.  Once boiling turn heat down and stir in cheese until melted and combined.  If you have time, store cheese sauce in fridge for a couple hours to thicken up.
Boil macaroni until tender, then drain.  Pour macaroni into 13 x 9 in casserole dish.  Reheat cheese sauce, then pour over macaroni to coat it.  Slice extra velveeta thinly w/ a cheese slicer and layer over the top of mac & cheese.  Broil in oven watching very closely until browned as desired.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Peanut Butter Blossoms

These are definitely a popular holiday cookie.  I just couldn't part from making them again this year though.  They are so yummy!  However, poor Corey doesn't like them for some reason.  I think he just needs to try them again because he loves peanut butter and loves chocolate...he's crazy!  I ended up giving a lot of them away at a cookie exchange my friend Jenn threw.  It was so much fun!

Peanut Butter Blossoms
via How Sweet Eats
yeilds 24 cookies

1 stick butter, softened
3/4 cups creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons milk
1/4 cup sugar, for rolling
1 bag Hershey Kisses (you only need ~24), unwrapped

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Cream butter and peanut butter together until smooth. Add sugars and cream for 2-3 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until combined. Stir in vanilla. Add flour, baking soda and salt, just mixing until combined, then add in milk. Cover and refrigerate dough for 30 minutes or up to 2 days.

Roll cookies into 1 inch balls and roll in sugar. Lay on baking sheet about 1 inch apart. Bake at 375 for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and push Kiss down into the middle of each cookie. Return to oven and bake for 2 1/2 more minutes. Remove and let cool completely.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Caramelized Onion & Proscuitto Pizza

Can I just say YUM!  This was so good and so easy!  I found the crust pre-made for $1.99 at Trader Joe's and it was so good.  Try this!  This recipe comes from my friend Lauren.

Caramelized Onion & Proscuitto Pizza
1 whole pizza crust 
olive oil, for drizzling 
1 whole large red onion, halved and thinly sliced 
2 tbsp brown sugar 
kosher salt to taste
parmesan cheese, grated  
8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese 
4 oz prosciutto, or more or less to taste

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet. Add onions and brown sugar and toss/stir for several minutes, or until onions are brown and cooked. Set aside.

Roll out pizza dough.
Drizzle on olive oil, sprinkle on a little salt, followed by a little Parmesan.

Lay slices of mozzarella evenly over the top of the crust. Arrange caramelized onions over the top of the mozzarella. Randomly lay slices of prosciutto over the onions.

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes in the lower half of the oven, or until crust is golden brown. Remove from oven and cut into slices.  Serve immediately.

ready for the oven

here is the pizza good!


Thursday, December 8, 2011

The 480 Workout

This one is a good one!  Its a great at-home workout that will bust your butt!  I was sweating and breathing so hard during this thing...and I thought my arms were going to fall off afterword.  I ran a quick mile loop around my neighborhood to warm up before or you can do the suggested warm up below.  Hope you like it!  (I tried to link up to the first set it you aren't familiar with some of the exercises.)

The 480 Workout
courtesy of One Fit Foodie

Warm up-Repeat 3x through
20 jumping jacks
20 seconds jog in place
20 (total) mountain climbers
10 bodyweight squats

2 push ups
2 squats
2 squat jumps
2 burpees
2 floor jacks - start in plank, keep body stable, and jump legs together then out like a jumping jack
2 high plank shoulder taps
2 jump lunges
2 tricep push ups


4 push ups
4 squats
4 squat jumps
4 burpees
4 floor jacks
4 high plank shoulder taps
4 jump lunges
4 tricep push ups

6 push ups
6 squats
6 squat jumps
6 burpees
6 floor jacks
6 high plank shoulder taps
6 jump lunges
6 tricep push ups

8 push ups
8 squats
8 squat jumps
8 burpees
8 floor jacks
8 high plank shoulder taps
8 jump lunges
8 tricep push ups

10 push ups
10 squats
10 squat jumps
10 burpees
10 floor jacks
10 high plank shoulder taps
10 jump lunges
10 tricep push ups

10 push ups
10 squats
10 squat jumps
10 burpees
10 floor jacks
10 high plank shoulder taps
10 jump lunges
10 tricep push ups

8 push ups
8 squats
8 squat jumps
8 burpees
8 floor jacks
8 high plank shoulder taps
8 jump lunges
8 tricep push ups

6 push ups
6 squats
6 squat jumps
6 burpees
6 floor jacks
6 high plank shoulder taps
6 jump lunges
6 tricep push ups

4 push ups
4 squats
4 squat jumps
4 burpees
4 floor jacks
4 high plank shoulder taps
4 jump lunges
4 tricep push ups

2 push ups
2 squats
2 squat jumps
2 burpees
2 floor jacks
2 high plank shoulder taps
2 jump lunges
2 tricep push ups

That's to make up for all the Thanksgiving recipes and Christmas cookies I've been posting lately! :)

Rocky Road Bars

Get ready for lots of Christmas baking!!!  I'm going to try posting these along with a regular post each day, that way you don't get cookied (word?) out.  These are so incredibly easy to make and really really yummy.  They have 4 ingredients & no baking required...making the total active time probably under 10 minutes.  A co-worker brought these in for a pitch-in and I immediately got the recipe.

Rocky Road Bars
yields one 13 x 9 inch pan

1 Bag (12 oz.) of Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
1 can of sweetened condensed Milk
1  tsp. of Vanilla
1 10 ½ oz. bag of Mini marshmallows
2 cups of chopped pecans (or almonds)

Melt the chocolate chips with the sweetened condensed milk in a large bowl for 1 minute in the microwave, stirring at 15 second increments.  Add vanilla and mix thoroughly.  Add marshmallows and nuts and mix.  Line a 13 x 9 pan with foil or wax paper, spread mixture into pan. Cover and refrigerate until firm.  I think they are best when cold, right out of the refrigerator!

Mashed Cheddar Potato Pancakes

Ok, I'm trying to get all these Thanksgiving recipes posted and I think this is the last of them!  This is a great idea for what to do with your leftovers!  I had never had potato pancakes before, but saw Jessica over at How Sweet post a recipe that included them.  So I mentioned them to Corey, and he said they were one of his favorite things ever!  I thought they sounded kind of weird but kind of amazing at the same time so I decided to give them a shot with our leftovers.  They were soooooo good.  And soooo easy.  Every time I make mashed potatoes from now on, I am doubling them so I can make these. 

sorry, not the prettiest picture.  random dinner of potato pancakes, salmon, & carrots - ha!

Mashed Cheddar Potato Pancakes
via How Sweet
yields 4 pancakes, enough for 2 servings
can serve with sour cream or applesauce, but we liked ours plain the best!

2 cups mashed potatoes
3 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Sprinkle flour on mashed potatoes, add cheese, and mix.  Form into four patties that are about 1 inch thick.
 Heat a skillet on medium high heat.  Add your butter or olive oil until hot.  Add patties and let brown on each side, about 3-4 minutes per side.  They may take a little longer if you skillet isn't hot all the way - you want them browned and crispy.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Twix Caramel Popcorn

A-ma-zing.  That is all I have to say.  Corey said this is the best desert type thing I've made all year.  I had no idea how good homemade caramel corn would taste.  And how easy it would be to make!  It basically consists of buying pre-popped popcorn, boiling 3 ingredients for a few minutes, pouring over popcorn, then baking in the oven.  You will need to be around for about an hour and 15 all together.  Try would make great homemade gifts as well!  Or, like us, that might be your intention, until you have trouble parting with it!

Twix Caramel Popcorn
via Two Peas and Their Pod
yields a lot!  two huge tupperwares for me!


5 quarts plain air popped popcorn (I used 1 large bag from Trader Joe's)1 cup butter
2 cups light brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
20 "fun size" Twix candy bars, chopped (I used 2 regular size bars)2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted-to drizzle over popcorn (I only used about 1 cup)

1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. Place popcorn in a large bowl and set aside.

2. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Stir in brown sugar, corn syrup, and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil without stirring for 4 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in baking soda and vanilla extract. Pour caramel in a thin stream over popcorn, stirring to coat. Gently stir until all of the popcorn is covered.

3. Place popcorn on two large shallow baking sheets and bake in preheated oven, stirring every 15 minutes, for about an hour. Remove popcorn from oven and let cool completely.

4. Break popcorn into pieces and mix in chopped Twix candy bars. Drizzle popcorn with melted chocolate. Let the popcorn sit until chocolate hardens, about 30 minutes. Store at room temperature in an airtight container.

Cornbread Stuffing w/ Sausage, Apples, & Crispy Sage

Stuffing is probably my least favorite item on my Thanksgiving plate.  Every time I try to eat it I just think of soggy bread and it is completely unappetizing to me.  My mom made her stuffing recipe this year, so I decided to try making a cornbread stuffing as well since I absolutely love cornbread.  Although, it was much better than the normal stuffing to me, it still wasn't one of my favorite turkey day sides.  However, if you like stuffing, and cornbread, I think you will love this one!  Courtesy of The Pioneer Woman, its stuffed with sausage, apples, mushrooms, & onions, plus I added crispy sage to the top after making this lasagna!

Cornbread Stuffing with Sausage, Apples, & Crispy Sage


1 package White Button Mushrooms
Olive Oil if needed
4 cups Cornbread, Cut Into 1-inch Cubes
4 cups French Bread, Cut Into 1-inch Cubes
1/2 pound Spicy Sausage
2 cups Diced Onion
1 or 2 Granny Smith Apples, Large Dice
3 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
1/2 cup White Wine
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
32 ounces, fluid Low (very Low) Sodium Chicken Broth, may not use all
1 teaspoon Ground Thyme
1/2 teaspoon Sage (more To Taste)
1 teaspoons Rosemary
1/2 teaspoon (additional) Kosher Salt
Black Pepper To Taste
Fresh Parsley, Minced to taste
Fresh Sage leaves, optional


Allow diced bread to sit out on cookie sheets for several hours or overnight, until dried out.
Increase heat to high and add mushrooms, diced apples, brown sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes, or until deep golden brown.  Add in thyme, sage, rosemary and stir to combine.

Decrease heat to medium and pour in wine (be careful if you're using an open flame). Stir and cook to reduce liquid by half, about two to three minutes. Pour apple/onion/mushroom mixture into a bowl and set aside.

Add bread to a large bowl, then add browned sausage, mushrooms, and apple/onion mixture (and juice that might have accumulated.) Next, add broth gradually as you toss the ingredients, being prepared not to use all of the liquid according to your taste.

Check seasonings at the end and add in minced parsley. Pour into a large baking dish and lay fresh sage leaves over the top.  Bake at 375 for 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden brown on top and sage has crisped up.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Homemade Apple Pie

Let me tell you, there is nothing like making your own apple pie all the way down to the crust.  It makes you feel so much more appreciative of the pie and really just tastes a whole lot more amazing all together when its homemade.  I have to say though, this recipe was a really great one.  We loved the flavor that the hint of brandy gave the apple filling.  I also added some lemon zest to the crust after making this peach tart with the lemon zest crust.  It just adds a freshness, but not a too lemony flavor.  Try it, you will feel very accomplished!

Old Fashioned Apple Pie
via Simply Recipes

Crust Ingredients
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling
1/2 cup finely ground blanched almonds or almond flour (can substitute 1/2 cup flour if you don't have almonds)
16 Tbsp (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes, chilled in freezer for at least 15 minutes
1 teaspoon salt
1 heaping teaspoon brown sugar
3 to 6 Tbsp water, very cold
1 or 2 teaspoons lemon zest (optional)
Filling Ingredients
2/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3 pounds of 1/4-1/2 inch thick slices of peeled and cored good cooking apples such as Granny Smith,
Pippin, Golden Delicious
1 1/2 tablespoons brandy
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Egg Wash
1 large egg yolk
1 Tbsp cream

1 In a food processor, combine flour, almonds, salt and brown sugar, pulse to mix. Add butter and pulse 6 to 8 times, until mixture resembles coarse meal, with pea size pieces of butter. Add water 1 Tablespoon at a time, pulsing until mixture just begins to clump together. If you pinch some of the crumbly dough and it holds together, it's ready, if not, add a little more water and pulse again.
Remove dough from machine and place on a clean surface. Carefully shape into 2 discs. Do not over-knead the dough! You should still be able to see little bits of butter in the dough. These bits of butter are what will allow the result crust to be flaky. Wrap each disc in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour.

2 Position rack in bottom third of oven and preheat to 375°F.

3 Combine sugar, flour and spices in large bowl. Use your hands and mix in the apples so they are well coated, then add brandy and vanilla extract.

4 Remove one crust disk from the refrigerator. Let sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes. Sprinkle some lemon zest then flour on top of the disk. Roll out with a rolling pin on a lightly floured surface to a 12 inch circle; about 1/8 of an inch thick. As you roll out the dough, use a metal spatula to check if the dough is sticking to the surface below. Add a few sprinkles of flour if necessary to keep the dough from sticking. Gently fold in half. Place on to a 9-inch pie plate, lining up the fold with the center of the pan. Gently unfold and press down to line the pie dish with the dough.

5 Spoon in apple filling, mounding slightly in center.

6 Roll out second disk of dough, as before. Gently turn over onto the top of the apples in the pie. Pinch top and bottom of dough rounds firmly together. Trim excess dough with kitchen shears, leaving a 3/4 inch overhang. Fold dough under itself so that the edge of the fold is flush with the edge of the pan. Flute edges using thumb and forefinger or press with a fork.

7 Stir yolk and cream in small bowl to blend. Brush over top of pie. Cut slits in top crust to allow steam to escape. Bake pie until crust begins to turn golden, about 20 minutes, then reduce heat to 350°F. Tent the rims with aluminum foil or a pie protector if the edges are browning too quickly. Bake until crust is golden and juices are bubbling, anywhere from an additional 30 to 45 minutes, depending on the type of apples you are using. Transfer to rack; let stand 1 hour. Serve pie warm or at room temperature.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Chocolate Cookies w/ White Chocolate Chips & Walnuts

One of Corey's favorites.  After I made my 10 cookie long list, I asked Corey if there were any he wanted me to make and he immediately said these and Lemon bars.  I basically just used this chocolate cookie recipe and then added white & dark chocolate chips and chopped walnuts.  They were so yummy!

Adapted originally from How Sweet
yielded 18 cookies

1 stick butter
3/4 cups sugar
1 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1/4 cup dark or semi sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350.

Cream butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla until fluffy. Add flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt and mix until combined.  Fold in chips and nuts.

Spoon onto a baking sheet. Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes.  Leave on a baking sheet to cool & harden up for a few minutes and then transfer to wire cooling rack.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Cheddar Herb Muffins

These are the perfect thing to serve with soup!

Cheddar Herb Muffins
yields 6 muffins

3/4 cups flour
1/4 cup cornmeal (I used corn muffin mix!)
1/2 Tbs. baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
pinch of ground red pepper
1/2 tablespoon italian seasoning
2 Tbs. butter
1/2 cup milk
1 egg white
1/2 cup + extra shredded cheddar cheese

Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Grease 6 muffin cups. In a large bowl, with a fork, combine the dry ingredients.

Melt the butter and cool it slightly. Stir in the milk, then beat in the egg. Stir the liquid into the dry ingredients just until moistened. Stir in 1/2 cup of cheese. Divide the batter into the muffin pans and top each muffin with a bit more cheese.

Bake for 15-20 min until toothpick comes out clean.

Chicken & Wild Rice Soup

This is a soup I made last winter once and loved...unfortunately Corey for some reason said he wasn't crazy about it.  Well I was so I made it again this year, and guess what, he loved it!  This soup is a mainly broth based soup but has a bit of creaminess to it because it includes a roux mixed with milk.  Its really simple and really yummy!  I always make it with these cheddar herb muffins and we just crumble them on top.  So amazing! 

Chicken & Wild Rice Soup
serves about 8

64 oz chicken broth (2 boxes or 4 cans)
1 box Uncle Ben’s Wild Rice Blend (and about 1/2 the seasoning packet)
1 onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
3 Tbs. butter
3 Tbs. flour
2 cups milk
salt & pepper
about 2 cups cooked chicken

Bring the broth to a boil in a stockpot.  Add the rice, onions and celery.  Simmer for 35-40 minutes or until the rice is tender.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a pan.  Stir in the flour, cooking for just a minute over medium heat.  Gradually whisk in the milk.  Cook over medium heat until it’s bubbly and thickened.  Add the poultry seasoning, salt and pepper.

When the rice is cooked, stir the white sauce into the soup.  Add the chicken.  Adjust the seasonings and heat through.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Tamale Pulled Pork w/ Cornbread

Time for a break from Thanksgiving side dishes!  I've made this pork before and its so incredibly easy and really really good!  Its sort of a mix between pulled pork & mexican.  Plus, pork loin is a leaner cut of meat than pork shoulder used for pulled pork.  This is one of those great meals that you throw in the crock pot and have a home cooked meal when you get home from work.  Plus, we had plenty of leftovers for at least another two meals each.  You make some cornbread muffins and serve over the top!  I also made homemade refried beans to go alongside this one.

Tamale Pulled Pork with Cornbread

large pork loin
2  28oz cans crushed tomatoes
1 onion, diced
2 tsp. cumin
4 chilis from a can of chilis in adobo sauce, chopped fine (or more if you like spicy, less if you don't)
1 tsp. salt
corn bread muffins

Place all ingredients except cornbread in slow cooker and cook 5-6 hours on high or 7-8 hours on low. 

When it is fully cooked, shred the meat with a fork (it was so incredibly tender at this point it just fell apart when I put the fork in it).  Serve over the cornbread.

Green Bean Casserole

Green Bean Casserole is one of the few dishes I truly get excited for on Thanksgiving.  I think its the creamy filling and crunchy top that makes this dish so good!  This recipe comes from Paula Deen.  I wanted to make the whole thing from scratch, but wasn't sure if I would have time with all the other dishes.  So in the interest of making things a little easier on myself, this one I would call semi-homemade.  While you still do a little work by cooking fresh (or frozen in my case) green beans & sauteing some onions and mushrooms, the rest is easy using cream of mushroom soup & french fried onions.  I doubled her recipe to make one 9 x 13 inch pan, reduced the soup as I thought it was too much filling and not enough green beans, and left out the cheese in her recipe.   

Green Bean Casserole

2/3 stick butter
1 cup diced onions
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
4 cups sliced green beans (I used frozen green beans)
3 cups chicken broth (I used half broth half water)
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 (2.8-ounce) can French-fried onion rings (I think I used more)
Salt & Pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Melt the butter in a large skillet. Saute the onions and mushrooms in the butter.  Season with salt & pepper to taste.

Boil green beans in chicken broth for 10 minutes and drain.

Add the green beans, mushroom soup, and about 1/4 of the onion rings to the onion & mushroom mixture.  Stir well. Pour into a greased 9 x 13 baking dish. Bake for 20 minutes, then top the casserole with the rest of the onions and bake for 10 minutes longer, or until the casserole is hot and onions are crispy.