Nov 14, 2013

Big Buttery Breakfast Biscuits


I have been trying for YEARS to make amazing biscuits. You know, the kind that steams when you open it, is firm enough to slather jam or pile gravy on top, and is so soft and buttery that it melts in your mouth? I've either made hard, flavorless rocks, or biscuits so soft they fall apart into a powdery mess. Then one day my husband came home with some homemade biscuits and gravy that a friend of ours (a great cook!) had made and I fell in loooove. They are perfect! And now I get to share them with you! Hopefully I can make the sausage gravy soon, so you can enjoy these buttery pillows covered in that deliciousness.


INGREDIENTS:
4 cups flour
1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons salt
2 Tablespoons white sugar
1/3 cup shortening
1/3 cup cold butter cut into small chunks
2 cups buttermilk

DIRECTIONS:
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Cut in the shortening and butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Gradually stir in milk until dough pulls away from the side of the bowl. Be careful to not overmix and don't use a mixer.
3. Turn out onto a floured surface, and knead 15 to 20 times. Pat or roll dough out to 1  1/2 inches thick. Cut biscuits with a large cutter or juice glass dipped in flour. Repeat until all dough is used. Brush off the excess flour, and place biscuits onto an ungreased baking sheet.
4. Bake for 13 to 15 minutes in the preheated oven, or until edges just begin to brown.

*for extra buttery goodness, you can brush butter on the hot biscuits after baking.



Nov 5, 2013

Caprese Puff Pastry Bites


It's no secret that I love the combination of mozzarella, tomatoes, basil, and olive oil. Add a little balsamic and it's pure heaven! In fact, I'd put just about any form of Caprese in my top five favorite foods of all time. 

The first time I ever sampled Caprese salad was at my sister's wedding rehearsal dinner. After my first bite, I was sold. And I kept trying to sneak extra helpings throughout the meal, not paying any attention to my dinner entree. Now I know better. When we go to an Italian restaurant, all I need is a Caprese appetizer, a little baslamic, and some bread. 

Speaking of bread, that would probably be a little higher on my top five favorite foods of all time, which is why I love my Pesto and Balsamic Glaze Pizza so much. And also why I like this yummy appetizer. They both have all of the basic elements of a Caprese salad, but with some form of bread! These are made with puff pastry and are best when served fresh from the oven, but they are still tasty when set out for people to snack on. 

INGREDIENTS:
6 oz. mozzarella cheese, cut into small cubes (I used string cheese!)
10 grape tomatoes, washed and quartered
1/2 of a 17.3-ounce pkg. puff pastry sheets (1 sheet), thawed
pesto, homemade or store bought - Costco has delicious pesto!
Balsamic glaze

DIRECTIONS:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice cheese and tomatoes. Grease mini muffin tin.


2. Place puff pastry on a floured surface or large sheet of parchment paper. Roll puff pastry into a 12 inch square. Using a pastry brush, brush pesto onto one side of the puff pastry sheet.


3. Cut into 6 (2 inch) strips and then into 6 (2 inch) squares with a pizza slicer.

4. Take two pieces of puff pastry squares and press into mini muffin tin, with the second lying diagonally on top of the first.


5. Add mozzarella cheese and tomatoes. Bake for 9-12 minutes until edges are just beginning to brown. Drizzle with balsamic glaze. Serve immediately.


recipe adapted from the little kitchen.

Oct 29, 2013

Smooth Sugar Cookie Icing


I'm not going to be too chatty about these cutie cookies because I want to post this recipe quickly so you all have time to make them before Halloween! We made these last night for our Family Home Evening, so I had to wait until the sun came up this morning to get better pictures. Unfortunately, the cookies lost their shine overnight so they aren't as pretty. I did snap a pic last night - which is at the bottom of the post - so you can see how pretty they were.



The recipe is below, but here is a pretty thorough explanation of icing technique. Basically all I used from that was the idea to pipe the frosting around the edges and then fill it in. But I didn't use anything fancy like Sugarbell does. I just stuck the piping icing in sandwich bags and used a butter knife to spread the filler icing. You can use my sugar cookie recipe, or if you're like my husband and like to try new things, you can use this recipe that he used last night (they were delicious!)


Sugar Cookie Icing
makes enough frosting for about 4 dozen cookies

INGREDIENTS:
4 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup-1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 teaspoon coconut extract - the original recipe was for almond, but we didn't have any so we used coconut. It was AMAZING. You could also use almond, but if you like coconut, go with it.
assorted gel food coloring

DIRECTIONS:
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or in a medium bowl with a hand mixer or a spoon), combine powdered sugar and milk until smooth. Beat in 1/4 cup corn syrup and coconut extract until icing is smooth and glossy. If icing is too thick, add more corn syrup a tablespoon at a time. You want it a little thicker than shampoo consistency.
2. Divide into separate bowls, and add food colorings to each until desired intensity. Scoop 1/4 of each color into separate Ziploc sandwich bags. Seal and cut a small bit off the bottom corner of the bag. You want the amount of icing coming out to be about the size of a Twizzler Pull 'n Peel licorice, a piece of yarn, or a cell phone charger cord. I know, but those are the best comparisons I could come up with! This is your "piping" icing. Cover the icing left over so it doesn't dry out while you're piping the cookies.
3. Squeeze piping around the outside edges of your cookies. Be sure to match the ends of the piping so that the filler icing doesn't spill over the edge of your cookie. Let dry about 30 minutes. 
4. Uncover filler icing. Using a spoon or a butter knife, scoop some of the icing into the center of your piped cookies. Spread it to the edges, but not over the edges. Smooth and let dry.
4. At this point, you can decorate with sprinkles or add details with your piping icing. Let dry and eat!! So yummy! Store in a single layer in an airtight container.





Oct 24, 2013

Reeses Mini Cheesecakes



I CANNOT EVEN. Oreos. Reeses. Cheesecake. Can food be divine? This is like the food trifecta. Honestly, these had so much potential for awesome-ness, that I was sure I was going to ruin them. But they ended up being much easier than I had anticipated. They are a bit time consuming, and they are cheesecakes, so they need to be made a day ahead, or the morning of, so they have time to set and cool. But holy moly. SO worth every single minute. 


I posted these to my Pinterest board, and my aunt who was to be visiting a few weeks later said "I'll take two, please." I decided that her visit would be the perfect time to make them. She loved them so much that she took two with her on her trip to the airport to return home. Much better than any airport food. 

The recipe does make about 24 cupcake-size cheesecakes, so they're great for Superbowl parties, family gatherings, potlucks, and any other activity where there are plenty of people to impress with your amazing baking skills (except you don't have to tell them how easy these were!).



INGREDIENTS:

Cheesecake:
2 cups Oreo cookie crumbs (either pulse them in a food processer or put them in a Ziploc and smash out your frustrations with a rolling pin)
4 Tablespoons butter, melted
2 (8 oz) packages cream cheese
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 Tablespoons sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 Tablespoons flour
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon shortening

Peanut Butter Mousse:
1 package cream cheese (8 oz.)
1 container Cool Whip (8 oz.)
1/2 cup peanut butter
2 cups chopped Reese's Peanut Butter Cups (they chop nicely when refrigerated)

DIRECTIONS:

Cheesecake:
1. Place 24 paper cupcake liners in 2 cupcake pans (12 each). In a small bowl, combine the Oreo cookie crumbs and melted butter. Evenly distribute mixture into cupcake liners. Press down firmly. Set aside.

2. In a medium mixing bowl, or the bowl of your stand mixer, beat the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla until creamy. Add the eggs, sour cream, and flour and beat again.
In a small microwave safe bowl, combine the chocolate chips and shortening. Heat for 30 seconds and stir. Repeat until melted. Let cool slightly. Pour into cream cheese mixture and beat until creamy. Spoon into prepared cupcake liners. 

3. Bake at 350ยบ for 22 minutes. Cheesecakes should be puffed, dry to the touch, and just beginning to crack. Let cool in pan for 3-4 minutes, then carefully remove to wire rack to cool completely (at least 1-2 hours). Once cooled, chill for a minimum of 2 hours in the refrigerator. Cheesecake centers will dip and form a perfect little bowl for the peanut butter mousse.

4. Peanut Butter Mousse:
 In a medium mixing bowl, or the bowl of your stand mixer with the wire whisk attachment, beat the cream cheese and peanut butter until creamy. Add the cool whip and beat until creamy. Place spoonfuls on top of cooled cheesecake and spread out. I used my medium cookie scoop and it worked beautifully. Top with chopped Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. 

Makes 24 cupcake cheesecakes. Store in refrigerator in a sealed container.


recipe adapted from inside brucrew life.

Oct 22, 2013

Cranberry Onion Chicken


This is one of the most delicious, easy, and quick meals you will ever make. It uses only 4 ingredients, can be prepared ahead of time and frozen or refrigerated until ready to use, can be cooked in the oven (my preference) or the crock pot, and is loved by kids and adults. Another reason I love it is because it's easy to keep the ingredients in the pantry and freezer and make on those busy days when I hardly have any time to spend in the kitchen. One time a friend told me that she had nothing in her kitchen to make for dinner. I lent her a can cranberry sauce and she used the other ingredients from her pantry to whip this up quickly. 

I got the recipe at my wedding shower and stored it away for years before trying it. The title said "Barbecue Chicken," and I was never too interested in a complicated barbecue chicken recipe, since you can just slather a bottle of barbecue sauce on chicken and call it good. But, I decided to try it out and am SO happy I did. It is definitely not barbecue chicken. I like it better!



INGREDIENTS:

6 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 (16 oz.) can whole berry cranberry sauce
1 (1 oz.) envelope Lipton onion soup mix
1 cup Russian, French, or Catalina salad dressing

DIRECTIONS:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish. Place chicken breasts in a single layer in the baking dish.
2. In a medium bowl, combine cranberry sauce, soup mix, and salad dressing. Pour over chicken.*
3. Bake, uncovered, in oven for approximately 50 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through. Serve over rice (brown is our favorite!)

*At this point, you can put all of the ingredients in a freezer bag and freeze for another day. Just be sure to thaw before cooking. To cook in your crock pot, place ingredients in the crockpot and cook on low for 4-6 hours. To prepare the day before cooking, or the morning before, just cover and refrigerate until ready to cook. 

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