Sunday, May 1, 2016

Secret Recipe Club: Rhubarb Bread

It's Secret Recipe Club time again!  This month, I was assigned the blog BCMom's Kitchen.  The blog is written by Anna.  Anna's approach to the recipes she makes seems pretty in line with my own.  She is a chronic recipe tweaker, loves trying out new recipes, only repeats a recipe if it turned out fabulously, and tends to gravitate towards easier recipes.  My kind of cook!
 
Tastiness abounds on Anna's blog.  She has a ton of recipes that appealed strongly to me, and I will probably make more of her recipes in the future.  I was particularly drawn to her varied selection of rhubarb recipes because to my undying joy, winter has finally left Interior Alaska (though last night I dreamed it snowed again) and my rhubarb plants are working overtime.  The stalks are still pretty small, but big enough to sacrifice a few for springtime tastiness!  Both of her rhubarb muffin recipes look great, as does the rhubarb focaccia (so unique, I'll definitely make this one!), rhubarb pudding cake, and blackberry rhubarb crumble.  Yum!  It was a very close tie between the two, but I decided to make rhubarb bread instead of rhubarb muffins.
 
The rhubarb bread turned out great.  I was drawn to it because I'd never actually seen a rhubarb bread recipe, and I liked that rhubarb was the star of the show instead of having to share the title with another fruit.  The soft, tart little bits of rhubarb were really nice and contrasted well with the sweet, cinnamony goodness of the bread.  One of the loaves went to our neighbors who kindly took care of our pets when we went out of town recently (first time leaving my dogs, it was so hard!), but my husband and I got to devour the other loaf ourselves.  Anna has a very intriguing recipe on the bread page for honey rhubarb butter, which I will try another time.  I just purchased a tub of honey brown sugar cinnamon butter at Sam's Club so wanted to use that on the bread.  Great combo!  I also really liked the taste and crunch of the topping, plus how quick and easy it is to make, so plan to use it in other recipes.  How good does pumpkin bread with crumb topping sound?  Yes, please!
   
  
Rhubarb Bread
 
1 egg
1 C brown sugar
1/2 C canola oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 C buttermilk
2 1/2 C flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
2 C chopped rhubarb
 
for topping:
3 T butter, melted
1/2 C sugar
1/2 C oats
1 tsp cinnamon
  
Preheat oven to 325 and grease two 9 by 5 inch loaf pans.
  
Mix together egg, brown sugar, and oil, then stir in the vanilla extract and buttermilk.  In another bowl, combine flour, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon.  Stir into wet ingredients, then stir in rhubarb.  Divide batter evenly among the two loaf pans.
  
To make the topping, stir brown sugar, oats, and cinnamon into the melted butter, then sprinkle evenly over the loaves.
  
Bake in the preheated oven about 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Let loaves cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack to finish cooling.
  
Yield: 2 loaves, about 16 servings
  

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Cream Cheese Chicken Enchiladas

My friend recently made these enchiladas and told me how good they were.  She found the recipe here, on Cookpad.  My husband loves creamy enchiladas and I decided to make them right away (with a couple of changes) because I happened to have all of the ingredients on hand except for the chicken and red enchilada sauce.  For the chicken, I just used a rotisserie chicken from the store.  They only cost $4 at Sam's Club and have quite a bit of meat on them.  About 1/3 of the meat went into the enchiladas and the rest will go into chicken soup I made from cooking the bones with water, garlic, and bay leaves in my Instant Pot.
 
As predicted, my husband loved these.  He adores anything sorta Mexican food-ish, and cream cheese, so I knew they'd be right up his alley.  He liked them so much that he requested that I make a new tag on my blog for 10/10 rated recipes.
 
Cream Cheese Chicken Enchiladas
 
4 C cooked, shredded chicken
8 oz cream cheese, softened (I do this in the microwave)
5 oz plain greek yogurt (not vanilla flavored!)
2 1/2 C grated cheddar cheese, divided
28 oz can red enchilada sauce, divided
10 oz can green enchilada sauce (I used 10 oz salsa verde)
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 Tbsp chili powder
salt and pepper to taste
12 large tortillas
 
Preheat oven to 350 and grease a 9 by 13 inch baking dish and an 8 by 8 dish.  Spread 1 C of the red enchilada sauce in the bottom of the larger pan, and 1/2 C in the bottom of the smaller pan, then set them aside.
 
Stir together all ingredients except 1 1/2 C of the cheddar cheese, 1 1/2 C of the red enchilada sauce, and the tortillas.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Spread filling evenly down the middle of tortillas, roll them up, and arrange in the prepared baking dishes, with 8 in the larger pan and 4 in the smaller.  Spread reserved red enchilada sauce on top, with 1 C on the larger pan and 1/2 C on the smaller pan.  Bake for 30 minutes, sprinkle the larger pan with 1 C of the reserved cheddar and the smaller pan with 1/2 C of the reserved cheddar, then return to oven for 10 more minutes.  The smaller pan may not need to bake as long as the larger one, just pull it out when it's bubbling.
 
Yield: 12 servings

Friday, April 22, 2016

Cottage Cheese Pancakes

This recipe is from the blog A Taste of Madness, but slightly tweaked.  It's a great to make if you have cottage cheese that needs to be used up, and is easily doubled.  Leftovers freeze nicely.  Convenience aside, these are good pancakes.  They aren't my default favorite (that honor goes to the basic pancake recipe from Cinnamon Roll Pancakes), but they are definitely tasty.  They're very light and creamy, which may sound odd for a pancake, but it definitely works. 
 
 
Cottage Cheese Pancakes
 
1 C cottage cheese
1/3 C flour
2 Tbsp canola oil
3 eggs
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
 
Place all ingredients in a medium bowl and mix with immersion blender until cottage cheese is pureed and everything is well combined.  Ladle batter onto a greased pan or griddle over medium heat and cook until bubbles form and the surface looks a little dry, then carefully flip and cook on the other side until golden.  Keep cooked pancakes warm on a plate in an oven set to 200.  Serve with syrup, fruit, or other toppings of your choice.
 
Yield: 2 servings

Monday, April 18, 2016

Creamy Graham Cracker Refrigerator Cake

This is one of those embarrassing recipes.  Embarrassing both because of the ingredients, and because of how easy it is to make!  Regardless, my husband really likes it, and so do I.  It's nice and light and the graham crackers become cakey after sitting, but not in a gross soggy graham cracker way.  Admittedly, if you don't like pudding and Cool Whip, you probably won't like it, but it's definitely worth a try if you aren't above enjoying instant pudding mix!  
 
I always make this with cheesecake pudding mix and dark chocolate frosting, but there's no reason you couldn't get a bit creative.  Chocolate pudding, chocolate graham crackers, and chocolate frosting?  Banana cream pudding, cinnamon graham crackers, and caramel frosting?  Why not!
Creamy Graham Cracker Refrigerator Cake
 
2 3.4 oz boxes instant pudding mix (I use Jell-o brand cheesecake pudding mix)
3 C milk
8 oz tub Cool Whip, thawed
1 box graham crackers (you will need about 3 sleeves of crackers)
1 can dark chocolate frosting
Whisk together pudding mix and milk until it begins to set, then fold in the Cool Whip.  
Line the bottom of a 9 by 13 baking dish with graham crackers, breaking them to fit if necessary.  Spread 1/2 of the pudding mixture on top.  Cover that with another layer of graham crackers, then the rest of the pudding mixture.  Cover with a third and final layer of graham crackers.
Remove lid and foil seal from frosting can and microwave until partly melted, about 45 seconds.  Stir until smooth.  Pour over dessert and spread to cover with a spatula.
Place dessert in refrigerator and let sit at least 8 hours so the graham crackers can soften.
 
Yield: 12 servings

Friday, April 8, 2016

BBQ Meatball Stew

This is a stew recipe I just made up a few days ago.  My husband and I were both very pleased with how it turned out.  He doesn't usually care for soups or stews, but to my surprise, he loved this one.  It's rather unlike any other stew I've had.  The carrots add a lot of sweetness, and that combined with the tomatoes and Worcestershire sauce give the entire stew a very BBQ-like flavor, even though there isn't any BBQ sauce in it.  Don't fear the plain, unseasoned meatballs.  I left them plain (other than the seasoned flour) to speed up the prep, but the stew has very vibrant flavor and the little meatballs are perfect in it.  They're very tender, too.  Like most stews, this one is better after a day or two in the fridge, so look forward to the leftovers!
  
Quick Note:  This recipe is for the Instant Pot, but it could be easily adapted for a normal pressure cooker.  If you don't have one of those, you can either cook it on the stove or use a slow cooker.  To cook it on the stove, proceed with browning the meatballs in a large skillet, but cook the onions in a large pot and add the remaining ingredients as described in the recipe, bring the stew to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, for about 40 minutes.  If you're using a slow cooker, cook the onions and garlic in a large skillet first, then brown the meatballs.  Place all the ingredients in your slow cooker as described in the recipe and cook on low for 6-8 hours, or until veggies and meatballs are cooked through.
  
  
BBQ Meatball Stew
  
4 Tbsp flour
2 tsp montreal steak seasoning
1 lb ground beef
3 Tbsp bacon grease, divided (or olive oil if you don't have bacon grease)
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 C beef or chicken broth
2 T soy sauce
2 T Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp dried rosemary
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
3/4 lb baby carrots, chopped
1 russet potato, chopped
15 oz can stewed or diced tomatoes, pureed with blender or immersion blender
  
In a cereal bowl, mix together the flour and steak seasoning.  Form the ground beef into 3/4 inch meatballs and roll them in the flour mixture, then set on a plate.  Melt half of the bacon grease in a large, nonstick skillet, then add the meatballs.  Dump any remaining flour mixture in with the meatballs.  Brown the meatballs on all sides (they will cook through completely later), then remove them to a plate.  
  
Turn the Instant Pot to the saute function and add the remaining bacon grease.  Add chopped onion and cook, stirring frequently,  until it begins to turn translucent and brown slightly.  Add the garlic and cook for another minute or two.  Pour in the broth, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, rosemary, salt, and pepper, then add the carrots and potato.  Place the meatballs on top and gently push them down so they're submerged in liquid as much as possible.  Pour the blended tomatoes on top.
  
Seal Instant Pot and set the manual setting to 30 minutes.  When the time is up, do a quick release, then gently stir the stew and serve.
  
Yield: 6 main dish servings

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Secret Recipe Club: Mac & Cheese Bites

For Secret Recipe Club this month, I was assigned the blog Lori's Culinary Creations.  The author, Lori, lives in Utah with her husband and their parrot, kitties, and dogs.  They like to ride around on their Harley in their spare time!  Lori sounds like a pretty interesting lady to me, and as a fellow animal lover, I'd like to meet her and her pets.
   
Lori's blog is packed with tastiness.  I was particularly drawn to Jalapeno Popper Burgers (which I did actually make already, yum), Seven Layer Salad (which I plan to make soon), and the one I made for this post, Creamy Muffin Tin Mac & Cheese Bites.  About time I finally make mac and cheese for Secret Recipe Club!  This was a complete impulse recipe for me because I happened to have all of the ingredients on hand.  I did have to use egg noodles instead of macaroni because it's all I had, I used milk instead of wine (personal preference), and baked the mac and cheese in mini muffin tins instead of normal sized ones.  They turned out really well.  My husband prefers his mac and cheese unbaked and had his straight from the pot, he really liked it and gave it a score of 9/10.  He is very picky about mac and cheese, so that's a great rating!  He did admit to liking the muffin bites as well.  
  
I don't know that I'll go out of my way to make the bites just for us again, but I can definitely see myself making them for an appetizer to bring to someone's house (they're very good room temperature) or as a lunch for kids.  We will definitely have the base mac and cheese recipe again though because it was really good.  Thanks, Lori!
   
 
Mac & Cheese Bites
  
10 oz macaroni by weight
3 Tbsp butter
1 clove garlic, minced
4 Tbsp flour
2 1/2 C milk
1 Tbsp dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste
4 oz grated swiss cheese
8 oz grated cheddar cheese
small amount extra cheddar for garnish
paprika, for garnish
  
Preheat oven to 425 and grease a 24 cup mini muffin tin.
 
Boil macaroni until al dente in a pot of salted water.  Drain and return to the pot.
 
Make the sauce while the macaroni cooks.  Melt butter in a sauce pan over medium-high and add garlic, cook until it just starts to turn golden.  Add flour and cook and stir for a minute, until flour is smooth.  Whisk in milk 1/4 C at a time  for the first cup and a half, making sure the sauce is smooth between additions, then add the rest.  Stir constantly until sauce comes to a simmer, then continue to simmer while stirring for a minute or two.  Remove from heat, whisk in mustard and salt, then stir in cheese until smooth.  Stir sauce unto cooked macaroni.  Spoon mac and cheese into greased mini muffin tin (you will have extra), sprinkle with a little extra cheddar and paprika, and bake at 425 until golden on top, about 12 minutes.  Remove muffin tin from oven and let them sit for 10 minutes or so before carefully removing them, blotting off any excess grease with paper towels, and serving.
 
Yield: 24 mac and cheese bites, plus a bowl or two extra to have for lunch!

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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Hasselback Chicken aka Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Holy cannoli, this is a good recipe!  I saw it on Tasty's Facebook page yesterday and made it tonight.  I could tell from looking at it that it would be good, but how good really surprised me.  My husband and I were both crazy about it, we agreed it's something we'd be happy to be served in a restaurant.  It's also quite easy to make, but looks rather fancy.  This is definitely something I would make for guests!
  
As is the norm for me, I made a couple of changes.  The original recipe didn't call for garlic or salt in the spinach mixture, and you were supposed to add salt and pepper to the chicken after stuffing it.  The recipe is very simple and I thought correctly that garlic would be a really good addition.  I also chose to use both mozzarella and cheddar because I had both, and why not?  One or the other individually would be great, too!
  
 
Hasselback Chicken aka Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Chicken Breasts
  
4 chicken breasts
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 Tbsp olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
3 oz fresh spinach (by weight)
1 C ricotta cheese
3/4 C grated mozzarella, or to taste
1/4 C grated cheddar, or to taste
spanish style paprika to taste
  
Preheat oven to 400 degrees and use aluminum foil to line a baking dish that has sides.  Lightly grease the foil.  
  
Clean the chicken breasts and make several deep cuts (not all the way through!) 1 centimeter apart on top of the chicken breasts, accordion style.  Place the chicken breasts in the baking dish.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  
Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium and add garlic, saute until it begins to turn golden.  Add spinach and saute until it wilts.  Add ricotta and stir until well combined with the spinach.  Add salt to taste.
  
Spoon the spinach ricotta mixture into the cuts on the chicken breasts.  Top with the mozzarella and cheddar, then sprinkle with a bit of paprika.
  
Bake chicken until a thermometer inserted into the center of the largest piece registers 160 degrees.  Let chicken rest for 5 minutes before serving.
  
Yield: 4 servings