Monday, March 28, 2011

Faux buffalo hot wings

I wish my wings had looked like this: 

They didn't.  But, they tasted almost like it (except for the deep fried crunchy skin, and little bitty bones).   I fell in love with wings a couple of years ago when a JR Crickets opened near our home.  I was then devastated when they went out of business because I couldn't single handedly keep them in business - I tried though, I really did! 

I've been in wing mourning ever since. 

We were craving wings last weekend, and I decided to see what I could come up with.  Unfortunately, since I so rarely make wings, the wings in my freezer were old, gross, and frostbitten.  But we wanted wings!  
I decided to improvise and came up with a healthy 'ish' alternative.  Faux wings.  Here's the recipe - which I mostly snagged from Frank's Hot Sauce web page...I just changed the meat medium. 
(My camera is sort of on the fritz right now, so I only got the photo of the un-cooked faux wings)

Cut 7 -10 boneless, skinless chicken thighs into wing sized chunks and place on a foil lined pan on the bottom rack of an oven - preheated to 500* (that's not a typo)
Bake for 15-20 minutes, then remove and turn over once.
Bake for an additional 15-20 more minutes until thoroughly cooked.
Place in a bowl and toss to coat with Frank's Buffalo Hot Sauce.
Adjust amount according to taste.
Serve with chunky bleu cheese dressing (homemade is best)

At my old wing place mild, medium, & hot were solely determined by the amount of hot sauce added.


Monday, March 21, 2011

Heaven in a 11 x 15 or Chocolate Drop Cookie Bars or Chocolate Oatmeal Bars

I originally received this recipe from a friend of a friend... however, when I went to the blogpage to find the recipe again, it had mysteriously disappeared.

While disappointed about the disappearance, I was thrilled to find something very similar at Cooks.com. AND even better, I think that the following recipe may actually be BETTER than the original friend of a friend's recipe.

Chocolate Layer
1 c. chocolate chips
1 c. butterscotch chips
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. butter

Cookie Layers
1 c. nuts
1 c. butter
2 c. brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
2 1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. soda
3 c. oatmeal

Chocolate layer - on low heat, melt chips, milk, salt, butter.  Add nuts and set aside.
Cookie layer -
Cream butter and brown sugar.
Add eggs and vanilla and beat well.
Add flour, salt and soda.
Beat well and add oatmeal.
Spread 3/4 of batter in a 10 x 15 inch pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray or greased.
Spread chocolate mixture over cookie layer.
Drop remaining batter by teaspoonfuls on top.
Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 30 minutes (high altitude), or 30-45 minutes at sea level on a humid day. 

Cinnamon Biscuit Fans

As a wedding present, someone gave us a Betty Crocker's 'Best of Baking' cookbook.  At first, I was a little perturbed thinking - 'man, they think I don't know how to cook'.  However, over the years, I've grown very grateful for the fantastic recipes I've found in this cookbook.  
The following recipe is a classic that I come back to again and again.  This is a hybrid between a baking powder biscuit, and a cinnamon roll...not quite either, but a nice mix between.  Start to finish, this recipe takes me approx. 30 minutes - including the 16-18 minutes of baking.  This is also a great one to make with kids!

 





Mix flour, sugar, baking powder and salt together in a small bowl



Cut in butter, then add enough milk (about 3/4 cups) so that dough leaves side of bowl and forms a ball.
Turn dough onto slightly floured surface.  Gently roll in flour to coat.  Knead lightly 10 times. 



Roll into 12" x 10" rectangle.
Spread softened butter over rectangle.
Sprinkle with cinnamon - sugar.




Slice rectangle crosswise into strips - approx. 10"x2".
Stack strips starting from the middle, then alternating from each side, moving outwards.
Cut stack crosswise into 8-10 pieces.



Place cut sides up in greased muffin/cupcake pans.
Bake 16-18 minutes or until golden brown. 
Immediately remove from pan. 



Drizzle glaze (recipe below) over warm biscuits.

Cinnamon Biscuit Fans
1/3 c. firm margarine or butter
2 c. all purpose flour
2 T. sugar
1 T. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
Approx. 3/4 c. milk

Filling: 
3 T margarine or butter, softened
3 T. sugar
1 t. ground cinnamon

Glaze:
1/2 c. powdered sugar
2 - 2 1/2 t. milk


Heat oven to 425*.  Grease/spray 8 - 10 medium muffin cups.  
Mix dry ingredients, and cut 1/3 cup butter in using pastry blender (or 2 forks) until mixture resembles fine crumbs. 
Stir in just enough milk so dough leaves side of bowl and forms a ball. 

Turn dough on to lightly floured surface; gently roll in flour to coat.  Knead lightly 10 times.  Roll into a rectangle, 12" x 10".  Spread 3 T. softened butter over rectangle.  Mix sugar and cinnamon, and sprinkle over dough. 
Cut crosswise into 10" x 2" strips.
Stack strips starting with the longest one in the middle.  Then alternately from the middle, stack each side strip.  
Cut crosswise into 8 - 10 pieces. 
Place cut sides up in muffin cups. 

Bake 16-18 minutes or until golden brown. 
immediately remove from pan.
Drizzle glaze over warm biscuits. 

Glaze: 
1/2 c. powdered sugar
2 to 2 1/2 t. milk

Mix ingredients until smooth and of drizzling consistency.  



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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Chicken Tortilla Soup 2


I try to make my weekly or monthly menu in advance - then each week I can just see what I'll need to shop for, and I shop accordingly.  It saves lots of money and time in that I don't have to go to the store very often, and if I do see something on sale that I'll be needing later in the month, I can stock up in advance.  If I'm not around, my husband can also consult the menu and begin cooking - knowing that everything is on hand.  (While it sounds like I'm really organized, don't be fooled) 

Tuesday around 4:00 pm I glanced at my menu and saw that I should be making Chicken Tortilla Soup.  I must have had a cookbook in hand when I put that on the menu since I've never made it before.  I decided to check out some on-line recipes and found this one at the Pioneer Woman's blog.  She's got some great recipes, and I love her photos.  
The down-side was that this took more than 30 minutes to prepare, and I hadn't realized the time requirements.  As such, I got to try this out the next day. 
One of my kids commented "it was better than I expected" (she doesn't like latin, or tex mexi types of foods) so this was high praise (I'll take it where ever I can get it - praise that is).  The rest of us loved it, and it was definitely worth the time it took to make.  Here's the recipe with a few adaptations.
This recipes works great with a crock pot.   

  


Heat oven to 375* degrees F.
Cut 3 whole boneless, skinless chicken breasts into smaller chunks (3"x2" maybe)
Drizzle both sides of chicken with 1 T. olive oil.
Combine 1 1/2 t. cumin, 1 t. chili powder, 1/2 t. garlic powder & 1/2 t. salt
Sprinkle spices mixture over chicken (both sides) and place in oven dish.
Save remaining spice mixture.
Cover chicken with foil and bake for 20 minutes.
Remove foil and bake for an additional 20 minutes, or until chicken is no longer pink. 


While the chicken bakes, dice the following:
1 c. onion, 1/2 -1 c. red, green or yellow bell pepper (or any combination thereof), 3 garlic cloves

Sauté diced vegetables in 1 T.olive oil over high heat.



Add any remaining spice mix (from the chicken). 
Stir to combine, then add 1 quart bottled tomatoes & juices
 (OR 1 (10 oz. can) Rotel Tomatoes & Green Chiles), 
32 oz. Low Sodium Chicken Stock,
1 quart (4 c.) hot water,
2 (15 oz. cans) black beans, drained,
1/4 - 1/2 c. chopped green chilies (if not using Rotel).  

Note - 3 T. tomato paste may be added to this mixture if desired. 

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer, and allow to simmer uncovered for 45 minutes. 

Once chicken is done baking, shred using two forks, and add to simmering mixture.  


Mix 3 T. cornmeal or Masa (corn tortilla flour found in the flour section at most grocery stores, or in the mexican food aisles) with 1/3 c. water (more or less as needed) until it reaches a very thick liquid state, then mix into the soup.  


Continue to simmer for an additional 30 minutes.
OR place in crockpot on low and allow to simmer as needed.  
Check seasonings, adding more if needed, and be sure not to under salt.  

Remove from heat, and allow to sit for 15 - 20 minutes before serving.
5 minutes prior to serving, slice 5-8 corn tortillas into strips and gently stir into soup.  

Serve topped with sour cream, key limes, diced red onion, diced avocado, grated cheese, fried tortilla strips, and pico de gallo (equal amounts of chopped tomatoes, onions, cilantro, mixed with key lime juice, and seasoned with cumin and salt)


Heat oven to 375* degrees F.
3 whole boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into smaller chunks (3"x2" maybe)
(Rotisserie/deli chicken can be used to speed up the time requirements)
1 T. olive oil.
1 1/2 t. cumin, 1 t. chili powder, 1/2 t. garlic powder & 1/2 t. salt
1 c. onion, 1/2 -1 c. red, green or yellow bell pepper (or any combination thereof), 3 garlic cloves - diced
1 quart tomatoes OR 1 (10 oz. can) Rotel tomatoes with Green chiles
1/4 - 1/2 c. chopped green chiles (if Rotel is not used)
2 (15 oz.) cans Black beans, drained
32 oz. chicken stock/broth
4 c. hot water
3 T. cornmeal or masa corn tortilla  mix
5-8 whole corn tortillas, cut into strips

Toppings
Sour Cream 
Avocado
Red Onion
Pico de gallo
Grated cheese
Key Lime (to juice over soup)
Cilantro
Tomatoes
Tortilla Strips


Drizzle olive oil over both sides of chicken, and sprinkle with spices. 
Place in a baking dish. Save remaining spice mixture.Cover chicken with foil and bake for 20 minutes.
Remove foil and bake for an additional 20 minutes, or until chicken is no longer pink. 
While the chicken bakes, dice the vegetables, then saut√© in olive oil over high heat.  
Add tomatoes/Rotel, chicken broth, water, black beans, green chilies. 
Bring to a boil, then simmer for 45 minutes, uncovered. 

When chicken is thoroughly cooked, shred with a fork and add to the soup mixture. 
Add masa/cornmeal to 1/3 c. water and mix until a thick liquid forms, then mix in to soup.  
Continue to cook for 30 more minutes, or place in a crock pot on low for several hours. 

Remove from heat 15-20 minutes before serving. 
5 minutes before serving add corn tortilla strips

Top with desired toppings. 

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Frosting, Frosting, Frosting

I spent the day in the kitchen with my kids today. We watched several tutorials this morning before we got started and found some super cute cup-cake and cake frosting ideas.

This flower is made by cutting mini-marshmallows on the diagonal, dipping the cut side into colored sugar, and building them into a base on the cupcake.
This sunflower is made by frosting the cupcake with a green frosting base, then topping it with an oreo, then building a flower around it, and accenting it with a m&m candy ladybug.

This cake has a buttercream frosting, and is decorated with flowers we made from Royal Icing earlier in the day.


Here are the frosting recipes we used and liked

Royal Icing
2 T. fresh lemon juice
2 eggwhites
4 c. powdered (confectioner's) sugar

Combine egg whites and lemon juice in mixer.  Slowly add powdered sugar - adjusting amount depending on stiffness desired.


Decorator's Butter Cream frosting
1/2 c. vegetable shortening
1/2 c. butter (1 stick)
4 c. powdered (confectioner's) sugar
2 T. milk
1 t. vanilla

Cream shortening and butter together.  Mix in vanilla.  Slowly add in powdered sugar, then add milk or additional powdered sugar as needed.


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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Banana Cream Pie

I found it!  A really super amazing recipe for banana cream pie.  My quest has now officially ended.  It just disappears so quickly.  We've shared this with many neighbors and friends who have loved it - and some have even licked the pan clean. 


Filling:


  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/3 cup corn starch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups milk
  • 3 egg yolks, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 (9 inch) pie crust, baked
  • 4 bananas, sliced

Directions

  1. In a saucepan, combine the sugar, corn starch, and salt. Add milk in gradually while stirring gently. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture is bubbly. Keep stirring and cook for about 2 more minutes, and then remove from the burner.
  2. Stir a small quantity of the hot mixture into the beaten egg yolks, and immediately add egg yolk mixture to the rest of the hot mixture. Cook for 2 more minutes; remember to keep stirring. Remove the mixture from the stove, and add butter and vanilla. Stir until the whole thing has a smooth consistency.
  3. Place a layer of sliced bananas into the cooled baked pastry shell. Top with a portion of the pudding mixture and then another layer (or two) of bananas and pudding. 
  4. Chill for an hour.
  5. Top with whipping cream  or meringue* if desired.

Notes: 

Here's a link to my favorite pie crust recipe.  It really makes a flaky heavenly crust.
I bake the crust at 375* for approx. 20 minutes.  I make sure to prick the crust prior to baking it, and I lay a sheet of waxed paper in the bottom and fill it with either dried beans, or utensils to keep it from puffing.  Puffy pie crust is zero fun. 


*Meringue:
Egg whites can be saved and instead of topping this with whipping cream, a meringue can be made with the egg whites, a pinch of cream of tartar and 2 T. sugar.  Beat egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks form, slowly add sugar, and beat until stiff peaks form.   Spread over pie and bake at 325* for 20-30 minutes until meringue sets.  Chill

Hot Fudge Bars or Heaven in a 9 x 13

My mom used to make these when I was a kid.  Then several years ago, my friend Liz introduced me to them again.  Liz  moved, and I couldn't find the recipe again. Tonight I was searching for a pie recipe, but came across these and realized that they were that elusive, yet decadent fudgey bar that I love.!  I made a few minor  changes, and here's my recipe.  Be warned - a little goes a long way!




Hot Fudge Bars
Cookie Dough
Mix the following ingredients into a stiff dough.
1 c. butter
1 c. white sugar
1 c. brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. salt
2 ½ c. flour
3 c. oats
1 tsp. baking soda

Spray a cookie sheet or 9x13 with cooking spray and press 2/3 of the dough into the pan.

In a microwave bowl, melt the following:
12 oz. pkg. milk chocolate chips
1 can condensed milk
3 Tbsp. butter

Add:
2 tsp. vanilla
1 c. chopped nuts (optional)

Spread chocolate mixture over top of dough in pan. Crumble the remainer of the dough over the chocolate mixture.

Bake at 350* for 30 minutes.
Cool before cutting
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