Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Croissant Breakfast Pudding

A little late in posting this one, but I made this breakfast casserole for a Chloe birthday/Mother's Day brunch. It was quite good and not difficult to make, though there are a number of steps. I assembled it the night before, which made it easy the next day. Don't want to be slaving in the kitchen too long on Mother's Day!

Croissant Breakfast Pudding
Source: Emeril Lagasse via Food Network

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus 2 tablespoons melted
1 1/4 cups thinly sliced yellow onions
6 ounces Canadian bacon, roughly chopped (I used regular bacon)
6 ounces hot sausage, removed from casings and crumbled
8 large eggs (I used Egg Beaters)
3 cups whole milk (I used skim)
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon Essence
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8 stale croissants, torn into 1/2-inch pieces (about 7 cups)
2 cups grated Fontina or Gouda
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 3-quart casserole dish and set aside.
In a large skillet, melt 1 1/2 tablespoons of the butter over medium-high heat. Add the onions, reduce the heat to medium, and cook, stirring, until soft and lightly caramelized, about 15 minutes.

In a medium skillet, melt the remaining 1/2 tablespoon butter over medium-high heat. Add the Canadian bacon and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Add the sausage to the skillet and cook, stirring, until browned, about 5 minutes. Drain on paper towels.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs. Add the milk, cream, salt, Essence, and pepper and whisk to combine. Add the croissants and let sit for 5 minutes. Add the sausage, bacon, onions, Fontina cheese, stir together, and let sit for 5 to 10 minutes. Pour into the prepared dish and bake until almost completely set, 35 to 45 minutes. Cover with aluminum foil if it's browning too much.

In a small bowl, combine the bread crumbs, Parmesan, and melted butter. Uncover the pudding and evenly cover with the bread crumb mixture. Return to the oven, increase the heat to 375 degrees F and bake until completely set in the center and golden brown on top, about 15 minutes.

Serve hot.

Garlic Cheddar Chicken

With my mom out of town for a week, my dad and sister have been eating out every night. So last night we had them over for dinner. The weather was not cooperating to grill out so I logged on to AllRecipes.com and stumbled across this dish, which is amongst the most highly rated recipes on the cooking board I frequent. It was easy to make and very flavorful, therefore a hit in my house. I even managed not to dry out the chicken breasts too badly, which I tend to do.

In an attempt to make sure the bottom of the chicken didn't get too soggy, I put cooling racks on a cookie sheet and baked the chicken on top of that. I don't know that it worked any better than putting the chicken directly on the cookie sheet, but it can't hurt.

Garlic Cheddar Chicken

Source: AllRecipes.com

1/2 cup butter (I used olive oil)
4 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup dry bread crumbs (I used Italian)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese (I used a lite cheese blend)
1/4 teaspoon dried parsley
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
8 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - pounded thin

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat, and cook the garlic until tender, about 5 minutes. In a shallow bowl, mix the bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, Cheddar cheese, parsley, oregano, pepper, and salt. Dip each chicken breast in the garlic butter to coat, then press into the bread crumb mixture. Arrange the coated chicken breasts in a 9x13 inch baking dish. Drizzle with any remaining butter and top with any remaining bread crumb mixture.

Bake 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until chicken is no longer pink and juices run clear. I then added a bit more cheese to the top and broiled the chicken for a few minutes.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Pink Lady Cake

I had seen this recipe on one of my favorite food blogs, Smitten Kitchen, several months ago. It's exceedingly rare that I have the occasion to make a layer cake unless I want Michael and myself to eat the whole thing (which wouldn't be an entirely bad thing).

Despite the fact that it is a ginormous cake, what with the three layers, it was not difficult to make. The cream cheese frosting, while not the best frosting to use if you want your cake to look flawless, complemented the flavor of the cake very well. And the cake was delicious. The strawberry flavor was very pronounced. Like the original poster, I used frozen (thawed) strawberries. I also used two colors of food dye - pink and red (Wilton gel) - to make the cake match its name.

The cake is very dense, which was fine unless you're a pig like me and would like a large slice. Between the height of the cake and its denseness, thin slices will go a long way, which is excellent if you're cooking for a crowd.

Pink Lady Cake
4 1/2 cups cake flour
3 cups sugar
5 1/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups pureed frozen strawberries
8 egg whites
2/3 cup milk
1 to 2 drops red food dye, if using (to make the pink color pop more)
3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks; 6 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
3 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Butter three 9-inch round or 8-inch square cake pans. Line with parchment or waxed paper and butter the paper. Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large mixer bowl. With the electric mixer on low speed, blend for 30 seconds. Add the butter and strawberry puree and mix to blend the ingredients. Raise the speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes; the batter will resemble strawberry ice cream at this point.

In another large bowl, whisk together the egg whites, milk and red food dye, if using, to blend. Add the whites to the atter in two or three additions, scraping down the sides of the bowl well and mixing only to incorperate after each addition. Divide the batter among the three prepared pans. Bake the cakes for 30 to 34 minutes, or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow the layers to cool in the pans for 10 to 15 minutes. Invert and turn out onto wire racks and peel off the paper liners. Let stand until completely cooled before assembling the cake, at least an hour.

In a medium bowl, cream together the cream cheese and butter until creamy. Mix in the vanilla, then gradually stir in the confectioners’ sugar. Store in the refrigerator after use.

Frost and assemble the cake. Place one cake layer on a cake board or platter. Tucking scraps of waxed paper under the edges of the cake will protect the board or plate from any mess created while frosting the cake. Spread about 2/3 cup frosting over the layer, spreading it to the edge. Repeat with the second layer. Add the top layer and frost the top and sides of cake with remaining frosting, reserving a small amount if you wish to tint it and pipe a decoration on the cake. If not, you can decorate the cake top with thinly-sliced strawberries. Remove the waxed strips to reveal and neat, clean cake board.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Chicken and Noodles

I haven't been cooking nice dinners as much as I used to. I've either gotten lazy or busy. Tonight I told Michael I'd make him a homemade dinner and out of the choices I gave him, he picked Chicken and Noodles. I adapted a recipe from my go-to cook book for savory foods - Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book.

I've made this before and I recall that it's turned out pretty bland, so this time I made a few substitutions to try to rectify this problem. Where the recipe calls for water I used chicken stock (much tastier than broth). I also added a cup more stock than the recipe calls for, and 1/2 cup more milk than it calls for. In addition, I didn't have any frozen peas on hand, so I used soybean succotash (a mixture of edamame, corn and peppers). Finally, I used boneless, skinless chicken breasts in place of chicken legs that the original recipe calls for. The addition of stock rather than water really changed the dish - it's not bland at all. It's actually really delish.

Chicken and Noodles
Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book, copyright 2003

3 chicken breasts
3 cups chicken stock
1 cup water
2 bay leaves
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 1/2 cups chopped onions (3 medium)
2 cups sliced carrots (3-4 medium)
1 cup sliced celery (2 stalks)
3 cups wide egg noodles (6 oz)
1 cup frozen peas (I used Trader Joe's Soybean Succotash)
2 1/2 cups milk (I used 1%)
4 Tbsp all-purpose flour

In a Dutch oven, combine chicken, stock, bay leaves, thyme, salt and pepper. Add onions, carrots and celery. Bring to a boil and reduce heat. Simmer covered for 20 - 30 minutes or until chicken is tender and no longer pink. Discard the bay leaves. Remove chicken from Dutch oven; cool slightly. Chop chicken and set aside.

Bring stock mixture to boil. Add noodles and cook for five minutes. Stir in peas and two cups of milk. In a screw-top jar with a lid, combine the remaining one cup of milk with the flour. Cover and shake until smooth. Stir into noodle mixture. Cook and stir until thicened and bubbly. Stir in chopped chicken. Cook and stir for one to two minutes more or until mixture is heated through.

As originally written, this is a lite recipe (311 calories, 6 grams fat, 5 grams fiber). I'm not sure what my substitutions would do to the calorie count, etc. but I'd imagine it's pretty close since the stock is fat free and I used white meat rather than the dark it originally calls for.

Start to finish, this dinner took about an hour to make. Not much to look at, but it's a delicious home cooked meal for a cold night.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Chocolate Guiness Cake

For our annual St. Patrick's Day dinner at my parents' house I wanted to make a fun dessert, as it's been a while since I got my bake on. I ran across this cake on one of the food blogs I follow through Google Reader. It was very dense and rather moist. However, while you could smell the beer while it baked, you couldn't taste it at all, which was a bit disappointing. Also, the blog where I found the recipe indicated that she had trouble with cutting into the cake and finding that parts of the cake didn't mix well (as if there were clumps of dry ingredients). So the recipe I followed called for sifting the flour and using superfine sugar, in hopes of solving the problem. Alas, it didn't work. Not that anyone else noticed, but as an overly self-critical chef, I did. The icing was very good with the cake.

Looks-wise I was very pleased with the cake, as frosting just the top truly makes it look like a pint of Ireland's finest.

Chocolate Guiness Cake

Source: Annie's Eats, originally by Nigella Lawson

1 cup Guinness beer

10 Tbsp unsalted butter

1/2 cup cocoa powder

2 cups superfine sugar

3/4 cup sour cream

2 eggs

1 Tbsp vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 1/2 tsp baking soda

8 oz. cream cheese (no need to soften)

5 Tbsp butter, softened

2 tsp vanilla extract

2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour the sides of a 9-inch round springform pan, and line the bottom with parchment paper. In a small saucepan, combine the Guinness and butter. Heat over medium heat until the butter is melted. Remove from the heat. Whisk in the cocoa powder and sugar.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the sour cream, eggs and vanilla. Beat on medium speed until well combined. Add the Guinness mixture to the bowl and mix until incorporated. In a small bowl, sift together the flour and baking soda. Add the dry ingredients to the bowl of the mixer and mix on low speed until just incorporated.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 45-55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes back clean. Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. Once cooled, remove the sides of the pan.

To make the frosting, combine the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer. Cream on medium-high speed. Add the powdered sugar to the bowl in batches, beating on low until just combined and then on high speed until desired consistency is reached. For a stiffer icing, add more powdered sugar. Frost cooled cake as desired.

Sweet & Salty Frito Candy

I saw this on the linked blog a few months back and thought it looked interesting and delicious - Frito's and chocolate? Not your usual pairing. It's a super easy recipe to make and is a real treat. I can't think of anything appropriate to compare it to - it's not quite like peanut brittle, not quite like toffee. I'll probably add a touch more Frito's and a bit less pretzels next time I make it, as I enjoyed the Frito bites the most. Also, I may reduce the amount of filler ingredients - the pretzels, Fritos, pb cups - a bit because I didn't feel there was quite enough of the butter/brown sugar mixture to go around. Overall, this was a successful and unusual treat!
Sweet Salty Frito Candy

2 cups pretzels
1 cup Fritos
8 mini peanut butter cups
1 stick unsalted butter (8 tablespoons)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
Optional: Chopped peanuts for the top

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a 13×9 inch pan with parchment paper or no-stick foil. Crush pretzels. You can use a food processor to chop, or just throw them in a ziploc bag and crush with your hands or a meat tenderizer. Add Fritos to processor/bag and break them up with pretzels. Dump into pan. Chop peanut butter cups into quarters and throw them in the mix. Place butter in a non-stick saucepan and melt over medium heat. When butter is melted, stir in brown sugar. Bring mixture to a full boil and boil for one minute, stirring once or twice. Pour over Frito mixture and bake for 8 minutes.Remove pan from oven and sprinkle chocolate chips over hot candy. Return to oven for 1 minute to soften chips. Spread softened chocolate chips over bars. Add chopped nuts if you would like to.Cool at room temperature until you feel the pan is cool enough to be transferred to your refrigerator, then transfer to refrigerator to set the chocolate. When chocolate is set, lift from pan and break the candy up as you would almond toffee. You can eat it cold or let it come back down to room temp.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


For breakfast a few weeks ago I decided I wanted crepes. I love crepes. Especially when they're filled with Nutella, and especially when they're fresh from a street vendor in Paris. I've never made them myself, though I purchased a special crepe pan set from WS back when I worked there (briefly). I got out the set but apparently you have to season the pan, much like a regular cast iron, which I had neither the time or inclination to do. So I used a regular non-stick small skillet, and that worked just fine.

It wasn't as hard to make the crepes as I suspected, though I got better the further along I got. I think it's because the pan became hotter and more uniformly hot the longer I worked. I filled the crepes with a cream cheese/powdered sugar mixture topped with frozen blueberries. I also added some whipped cream in a can to a few. Michael found it to be too sweet but I thought it was rather good.

I froze the remaining crepes and they froze beautifully. A few weeks later I took them out of the freezer and once thawed, I filled them with some deli ham and a bit of cheddar. I microwaved to just melt the cheese. This was a heavenly combination - the sweet and savory. I had to stop myself from eating more than two.
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/3 cups milk
2 Tbsp butter, melted
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp white sugar
1/2 tsp salt

My additions:
1/8 tsp vanilla extract
Sprinkle of cinnemon

In large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, melted butter, flour sugar and salt until smooth. Heat a medium-sized skillet or crepe pan over medium heat. Grease pan with a small amount of butter or oil applied with a brush or paper towel (I used butter-flavored Pam). Using a serving spoon or small ladle, spoon about 3 tablespoons crepe batter into hot pan, tilting the pan so that bottom surface is evenly coated. Cook over medium heat, 1 to 2 minutes on a side, or until golden brown. Serve immediately.

Classic Berry Tart

I made this beautiful, delicious berry tart for Christmas lunch at my parents'. It was a big hit and relatively easy to make. My favorite part (as is usually the case) was the crust - so amazing, not only in flavor, but in ease of making it! That was the biggest surprise for me - how easy it was to make the crust. I never make my own pie dough, so I was apprehensive to make this sweet tart crust. But with a food processor, it could not have been easier!

I have to say I wasn't in love with the pastry cream. It served its purpose but was a little bland for me. Next time I'll try Ina's pastry cream to see if that's better, or I'll try one of Dorie's other pastry creams. Overall, though, this was an impressive-looking dessert for a special day - one I hope to make again soon.

Special thanks to by sister-in-law, Shawn, for taking the photo when I forgot my camera.

Classic Berry Tart
Source: Baking From My Home To Yours by Dorie Greenspan

1.5 cups pastry cream, cooled or chilled
1 9-inch sweet tart shell, fully baked and cooled
2 pints fresh raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries or an assortment
1/3 cup red currant jelly mixed with 1 tsp water, for glazing

For the Pastry Cream:
2 cups whole milk
6 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup corn starch, sifted
1.5 tsp vanilla extract
3.5 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into bits at room temperature

Bring the milk to boil in a small saucepan. Meanwhile, in a heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk together the yolks with the sugar and cornstarch until thick and well blended. Still whisking, drizzle in about 1/4 cup of the hot milk to temper the yolks. Continue whisking and slowly pour in the remainder of the milk. Put the pan over medium heat and, whisking vigorously and thoroughly (make sure to get the edges), bring the mixture to a boil. Keep at a boil, still whisking, for 1-2 minutes, then remove the pan from the heat.

Whisk in the vanilla extract. Let sit for five minutes then whisk in the butter. Stir until the pastry cream is smooth and silky. Scrape the cream into a bowl and press plastic wrap to its surface. Refridgerate until ready to use.

For the Sweet Tart Dough:
1.5 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick plus 1 Tbsp (9 Tbsp) very cold or frozen unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk

Put the four, sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse a few times to combine. Scatter the butter over the dry ingredients and pulse until the butter is coarsely cut in - some pieces will be the size of oatmeal flakes and some the size of peas. Stir the yolk to break it up and add it a little at a time, pulsing after each addition. When the egg is in, process in long pulses (about 10 seconds each) until the dough forms clumps and curds. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and very sparingly knead the dough just to incorporate any dry ingredients that might have escaped mixing.

Butter a 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom (I used a spring form pan). Press the dough evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the pan, using all but one little piece of dough, which you should save in the fridge to patch any cracks after the crust is baked. Freeze the crust for at least 30 minutes before baking (I froze mine overnight).

Preheat the oven to 375. Butter the shiny side of tin foil and fit the foil, buttered side down, tightly against the crust. It's not necessary to use weights if you've frozen the crust. Put the pan on a baking sheet and bake the crust for 25 minutes. Remove the foil. If the crust has puffed, gently press it down with the back of a spoon. For a partially baked crust, patch if necessary and remove to a cooling rack (keeping it in the pan). For a fully baked crust, bake for another eight minutes until it's firm and golden brown. Transfer to a cooling rack and cool to room temperature before filling.

To assemble the tart:
Smooth the pastry cream by giving it a couple strong turns of the whisk. Spoon enough cream into the crust to come almost to the rim, then even the surface with a spatula. Lay the berries on the cream, arranging in any pattern that you like.

Bring the jelly and water to a boil in the microwave or stovetop. Working with a pastry brush, dab each berry with a spot of jelly, or glaze the entire surface of the tart. (I didn't do the glaze).

Banana Bundt Cake

I needed a dessert that I could make the day before it would be eaten. One that would be as good, if not better, than the day it was made. Looking through my Dorie Greenspan cookbook I noticed that all of her bundt cakes were better the next day. While she has many delicious looking cakes in this category, I went for this banana bundt cake simply because it had the least number of steps and I already had all of the ingredients.

For those in my family who like banana bread, this turned out very well. Moist, fragrant, quite banana-y. The batter was incredible. However, once baked, it really was just banana bread in a bundt pan. I had hoped that the addition of sour cream would add a tangy twist to it, but I didn't notice its flavor. As I'm no lover of your standard banana bread, I won't be rushing to make this again (my mother-in-law makes it pretty frequently, to satisfy Michael's love of it). Though if he really wants me to make banana bread, this will be my go-to recipe.

Classic Banana Bundt Cake
Source: Baking From My Home To Yours by Dorie Greenspan

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 sticks (8 oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs, preferably at room temperature
4 very ripe bananas, mashed (1.5 - 1.75 cups)
1 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (my addition)

Preheat the oven to 350. Butter or spray a 9" or 10" bundt pan (12 cup). If your bundt pan is silicone, there's no need to butter it. Whisk the flour, baking soda and salt together.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until creamy. Add the sugar and beat at medium speed until pale and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla, then add the eggs one at a time, beating for about one minute after each egg. Reduce the speed to low and mix in the bananas. Next, mix in half the dry ingredients (the batter may curdle), all the sour cream and the rest of the dry ingredients. Scrape into the bundt pan and put in the oven (but not on a cookie sheet).

Bake for 60-75 minutes or until a thin knife inserted into the cake comes out clean. Check the cake after 30 minutes - if it's browning too fast, cover with a foil tent. Let the cake cool for 10 minutes then unmold onto a rack to cool to room temperature.

Storing: wrapped airtight, the cake will keep at room temperature for up to five days or in the freezer for up to two months.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Peanut Butter Tart

My mom has a subscription to Martha Stewart Living, and when I'd be in town visiting (back when I lived in Chicago), I'd spend time browsing each issue's recipes. I finally got around to making a recipe that I pulled from the magazine back in 2001. It's a recipe that was never far from my mind; however, I never had a tart pan with a removable bottom, which is what you use to make the tart (though you could probably also use a spring form pan).

I made this peanut butter tart for Christmas and it was delicious. Definitely something I'd make again, though next time I'll make a few changes: I'll let the ganache cool longer so that it doesn't spread when I add the peanut butter filling, and I'll try to think of a way to make my graham cracker crust a little less crumbly. Neither of these issues took away from how delicious and easy the tart was to make, however.

My tart isn't as pretty as Martha's (no surprise there), so take a look at the link to see why I've always wanted to make it!

Special thanks to my sister-in-law, Shawn, for taking the photos when I forgot to bring my camera.

Peanut Butter Tart
Source: Martha Stewart Living, October 2001

10 (4 3/4-by-2 1/2-inch) graham crackers, broken into pieces
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted

3 oz best-quality milk chocolate
1/2 cup heavy cream

Peanut Butter Filling:
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup cream cheese (4 ounces)
1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
3/4 cup heavy cream

Place graham crackers in the bowl of a food processor, and pulse until fine crumbs are formed. Add butter. Pulse until thoroughly combined. Place crumbs in a tart pan with a removable bottom (I think mine is 11"). Press crumbs up the sides of the pan to form the edge of the tart and then evenly over the bottom of the pan. Place in the refrigerator while making the filling.

Fill a large bowl with ice and water. Finely chop chocolate, and place in a medium bowl. Place 1/2 cup cream in a small saucepan over medium heat, and bring to a boil. Pour over chopped chocolate, and set aside for five minutes to yield chocolate ganache. Whisk to combine. Set in ice bath until ganache is cool, whisking constantly. Once cool, remove from ice bath, and whisk until ganache is just thick enough to hold its shape; do not overbeat. Spread in the bottom of the prepared crust, and return to the refrigerator until set.

Combine peanut butter, cream cheese, and sweetened condensed milk in the bowl of a food processor; process until smooth. Transfer to a mixing bowl. Whip cream to soft peaks. Add whipped cream to peanut butter mixture; whisk to combine.

Spoon mixture into prepared crust; return to the refrigerator for two hours or overnight. Remove tart from refrigerator, and transfer to a serving platter 10 minutes before serving. Add whipped cream and chocolate shavings as desired.

Crock Pot Chicken and Dumplings

Amazing. Not much to look at, but just totally delicious. We had my parents over for dinner on Monday, and since I was off, I had time to make a full dinner (salad, chicken and dumplings, cake). This was the star of the show. Super easy, tender and though its base is canned cream of chicken soup, the addition of other ingredients assures that the soup isn't all you taste. I definitely plan to make again.

A few tips, based on my experience: put the chicken in the crock pot while it's still frozen. Often times the meat I cook in the crock pot gets too chewy, but I think this prevented that from happening (kept the juices inside). Additionally, since this isn't a baked good, I didn't worry about sticking to the precise amounts of liquid, etc. that the recipe suggested. I figured I could add more later if necessary. For instance, the broth didn't fully cover the frozen chicken breasts from the start of the cooking, but I didn't want it to be too thin, so I took my chances and in the end, no extra was needed. Also, I didn't initially have the two cans of soup that the recipe called for (added #2 with the bicuits), so I substituted some sour cream flavored with chicken broth and boullion to add more creaminess and thickness. While I couldn't taste the sour cream, I think it helped to mellow the taste of the canned soup.

My parents, Michael and I all gave this a thumbs up. In fact, I can't wait to make it again!

Crock Pot Chicken and Dumplings
Adapted from this recipe at AllRecipes.com
Yield: 6+ servings

4 Skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, still frozen
2 Tbsp butter
2 (10.75 oz) Cans condensed cream of chicken soup
1/2 Large container of chicken broth
1 C light sour cream, infused with chicken boullion and broth to slightly thin
1 Onion, diced (I used frozen diced onion)
1 (10 oz) Package refridgerated buscuit dough
Spices of your choosing, to taste (I used cumin, poultry seasoning, garlic powder, pepper and dry mustard)

Place the chicken, butter, soup, sour cream mixture and onions into crock pot, and fill with enough broth to cover (I added roughly half of the amount found in one of those cardboard containers - which wasn't enough to cover). Cover and cook on high for about three and a half hours. Shred chicken and return to crock pot. Flatten individual biscuits, cut once crosswise then into strips, adding them into the pot and stirring to cover with liquid. Cook for about 90 minutes more on high. Serve and enjoy!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Three Layer Pumpkin Pie

Oh blog, it's been a while. I have no excuse other than the past few months being a whirlwind of insanity at the office, and of course, the holidays, which I was barely prepared for. But things are settling down, so it's time I paid you some attention again.

I made this pie for my in laws' house for Thanksgiving. A little late to post, and at this time of year, no one will likely be interested in reading about another pumpin pie, but it was so good that I had to post. It's so good that I'd make this over regular pumpkin pie every year, except that my side of the family is a bit more traditional and would likely want the usual. But this was so good that Michael, a hater of pumpkin pie, had three slices without me having to ask him to try one.

If you like pumpkin pie but find that after a while, the pumpkin is a little overpowering, this is the pie for you. The cream cheese layer mellows it out. The streusal was a nice touch, too.

Three Layer Pumpkin Pie
Source: Dierbergs' Everybody Cooks, September 2008
Serves 8

Prepared crust for one-crust pie
Cream Cheese Layer:
8 oz cream cheese, softened (I use light)
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract

Pumpkin Layer:
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 can (15 oz) pure pumpkin
1 cup half and half
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 Tbsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp salt

Streusel Topping:
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/4 cup butter, melted

In larger mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, the 1/3 cup sugar, egg and vanilla at medium speed until well blended. Gently spread into unbaked pie crust. Chill while preparing pumpkin layer.

In large mixing bowl, beat eggs, pumpkin, half and half, 3/4 cup sugar, spice and salt at low speed until well combined. Gently pour over cream cheese layer. Place pie plate on a cookie sheet. Bake in 375 degree oven until center is almost set, about 55-60 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a work bowl of a food processer with a steel knife blade, combine brown sugar, flour and oats. With machine running, pour melted butter through feed tube; process until mixture resembles course meal, about 15-30 seconds. Sprinkle topping over pie. Bake until golden brown, about 15-20 minutes. Cool on wire rack at least two hours before serving. Store in the fridge.