Saturday, December 23, 2006

Dinner Party

Sean and I hosted a dinner party at his place on December 19th. This is the table. We had the chicken previously listed on the site, cheesy corn, mashed potatoes, rice pilaf, broccoli, asparagus, two types of rolls and cornbread with cheese (aka cheesy cornbread). I feel like there was something else, but I can't seem to recall right now. Then for dessert we had the Cherry-Cream Cheese Braid previously listed here and Maple Apple Dumplings which I will post about the next time I make them when I have a picture to share. All in all, I think everyone was pleased. Everyone included Petras, Rob, Sean, Charlie, Ann, Kurt, Marley and Sean's parents. Kurt brought the giant jug of Beringer. We did, in fact, drink it.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Crispy Chocolate Peanut Butter Squares

These were a hit at work today. The consistency is a little hard to deal with when stirring in the peanut butter mixture, but that's mostly because I am used to the stickiness of rice krispie treats. This also caused certain bites and certain squares to have more peanut butter flavor than chocolate. I think I might try adding a bit of cocoa powder or perhaps melt some chocolate chips into the melted peanut butter mixture to help temper the occasionally overwhelming peanutty flavor. But super easy and something a bit different, so that works for me.

1 cup sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1 cup smooth peanut butter
6 cups Cocoa Krispies (or off-brand if you like)

In a heavy medium saucepan, combine sugar and corn syrup over medium-high heat; stir frequently until mixture boils. Allow to boil 30 seconds without stirring. Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter. Place cereal in a large bowl. Pour peanut butter mixture over cereal; stir until well blended. Pour cereal mix into a greased 13x9 pan and press down using waxed paper or greased spatula. Cover tightly and let sit to cool. Cut into squares.

Report On The Cherry-Cream Cheese Braid

Well, the votes are in from the folks at work. The Cherry-Cream Cheese Braid is a hit. I'll be putting that one in the "to keep" file. I just have to remember to keep a bit of a closer eye on it while it is baking to keep it from getting overdone. Also, I think I'd like the glaze to be a bit thicker so I might go lighter on the milk.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Cherry-Cream Cheese Braid

This is all packed up and ready to go to work tomorrow for the taste test, but I figured I'd go ahead and post the photos anyway. I baked it for a bit too long so it got more brown than I wanted. Also, my rolling pin has gone MIA apparently so I had to roll out and shape the dough by hand into the proper form which made for less than pretty braiding. Ah well, let's hope the taste makes up for the lack of prettiness.

1 lb of white bread dough (You can make your own or buy frozen bread dough.)
1/2 cup cream cheese, softened (You can use 1/3-less fat if you want.)
2 Tbsp sugar, divided
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup dried sweet cherries
1 1/2 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp milk (I used skim as I do with almost everything.)
1/2 cup sifted powdered sugar
2 1/2 tsp milk
1/4 tsp vanilla

1- Preheat oven to 375.
2- Roll dough into a 12 x 8 inch rectangle on a large baking sheet coated with cooking spray.
3- Combine cream cheese, 1 Tbsp sugar and 1 tsp vanilla in a bowl and stir well. Spoon cheese mixture lengthwise down the center third of the dough. Sprinkle cherries over cheese mixture and drizzle with honey.
4- Cut 12 (1 inch wide) strips along edges of dough from edge of filling to edge of dough. Fold strips, alternating sides, at an angle across filling. Brush top of loaf with 1 Tbsp milk. Sprinkle with remaining 1 Tbsp sugar. Bake at 375 for 20 minutes or until golden.
5- Combine powdered sugar, 2 1/2 tsp milk and 1/4 tsp vanilla, stirring well. Drizzle over warm braid. Let cool until glaze is dry.

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Library Staff Association Cookbook

I bought a cookbook with recipes from librarians today to help fund the Staff Association at the library. We'll see how it turns out. You can all get ready to be impressed by the fierce cooking skills of those in the information services profession.

Crunchy Stuffed Chicken Breast

I made these as one of the main dishes for the Sunday night The Librarian: Return to King Solomon's Mines watching party. I made two sets, one with onions and one without. I can't speak to the one with onions, but the other was quite good. Here is the main recipe with a few notes on some of the changes I made. I thought I ended up with a lot more marinade and topping than I needed, but better too much than not enough.

Serves 4

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 Tbsp butter
1 garlic glove, crushed
I Tbsp Dijon mustard

For the stuffing
1 Tbsp butter
1 bunch scallions, sliced
3 Tbsp fresh breadcrumbs (I actually used seasoned dry ones as I had them on hand.)
2 Tbsp pine nuts (The next time I make these, I think I'll toast the pine nuts to alter the flavor profile a little.)
1 egg yolk
1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley (Do NOT substitute dried for this as it will mess with the consistency of the stuffing.)
salt and black pepper
4 Tbsp grated cheese (I used Parmesan.)

For the topping
2 bacon slices, finely chopped (I actually used pancetta as I had it on hand.)
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs (Again, I used seasoned dry ones.)
1 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley

Preheat oven to 400. To make the stuffing, heat 1 Tbsp of the butter in a frying pan and cook the scallions until soft. Remove from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly. To make the topping, fry the chopped bacon until crisp, drain and add to the breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese and fresh parsley.

Carefully cut a deep pocket in each of the chicken breasts using a sharp knife. Divide the stuffing into fourths and use to fill the pockets. Put in a buttered ovenproof dish.

Melt the remaining butter, mix it with the crushed garlic and mustard and brush liberally over the chicken. Press on the topping and bake uncovered for about 30-40 minutes or until tender.

Sunday, December 3, 2006

Fruit Pizza

Well, it's not a new one really. I've been making this one for years, but it's been a while since I've made it. And I had been asked for the recipe recently. So I think this is one I'm going to share with the world.

The thing about this dessert is that you have to make sure to get the best fruit you can as it really is the star. Avoid canned fruit as they are too syrupy and will soak through to the cookie. Plus you will end up with a lot of extra to make a nice fruit salad. This is handy for those who may be watching what they eat.

1 pkg. sugar cookie dough (I like the tube of Pillsbury dough)
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 Tbsp milk
2 Tbsp chopped orange rind (I use the kind you get in the spice aisle)
Assorted fruits

1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1/3 cup water
1/2 cup orange juice
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp orange rind
1/2 tsp lemon rind

Spread the cookie dough out on a pizza pan (you can either slice it up and lay it out or just roll it out). Bake according to the directions until well browned. Cool.

Whip cream cheese, sugar, milk and rind together then spread over crust. Decorate with sliced fruit. Set aside.

Make glaze. Combine sugar and cornstarch in a saucepan. Add the liquids and bring to a boil. Cook for one minute then add rinds. Cool. Brush onto the fruit. Avoid pouring too much glaze or else it will make the cookie soggy. Wrap the pizza and chill.

This can be made a day in advance but will not last more than two days because the juice will soak in.