Saturday, June 29, 2013

Crock Pot Sautéed Mushrooms

Our family had a celebratory grill night this past Friday. It was really fun to have all my kids and their significant others all in one place at one time.  We chose to grill out steaks, which were delicious and I decided to ensure we had some sautéed mushrooms to go with them.

Ingredients

1.5 pounds mushrooms, your choice ( I used baby portobello and white mushrooms)
1 package ranch dressing mix
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup beer


Ingredients (plus a 1/2 cup beer)

Butter partially melted before adding other ingredients

Mixing the mushrooms and ranch seasoning mix

All the ingredients mixed in the crock pot and ready to cook.
Turn crock pot on high and place butter in in 1 tablespoon pieces.  When partially melted,while the butter is melting, mix the  ranch seasoning mix  and mushrooms together.   Put in crock part when butter is partially melted, add the 1/2 cup beer and stir all together.  Turn crock pot to low and cook for 3-4 hours.  The mushroom were nice and tasty and ready to eat when the steaks were hot off the grill.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Grilled Pineapple Pork Chops

I found this recipe on Six Sisters' Stuff and WOW was it a hit! It was easy to make and had great flavor! I served it with baked green beans and Parmesan Garlic Orzo.

Grilled Pineapple Pork Chops






































Ingredients:
  • 1 can of pineapple rings (or cut fresh pineapple into rings)
  • 1/2 cup of brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup of soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp of garlic powder
  • 4-6 pork chops
Directions:
  1. This recipe is best if you marinate the meat starting the night before you want to make it or at least the morning of. Mix together pineapple juice, brown sugar, soy sauce, and garlic powder. Put meat into marinade (store in either a Tupperware container or Ziploc bag); I placed pineapple rings between the meat while it was marinating (see picture below).
  2. When ready to make, preheat grill to medium-high heat.
  3. When grill is heated, place the meat on and brush with marinade. 
  4. Grill for about 6-10 minutes on each side (depends greatly on thickness of the pork chop). Use meat thermometer to ensure fully cooked or make sure there is no pink left on the inside. 
  5. Towards the end of the pork chop grilling, place the pineapple rings on the grill, brush with marinade, and cook for a few minutes on each side. 
  6. Serve pork chops with pineapple rings on the top. Enjoy!
Step #1: Marinating the meat.


Sunday, June 16, 2013

Cucumber, Tomato, and Avocado Salad



Sometimes I like an alternative to a lettuce salad.  This salad had a very light dressing and tasted slightly sweet.  We made this on a night that I was making chicken burritos, so I also used it as a topping for the burrito too.

Ingredients

2 cucumbers, finely diced
2 tomatoes, finely diced
1 avocado, finely diced
1/4 cup feta cheese

Dressing Ingredients

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon  mayo
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon lime juice
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

Combine dressing ingredients and whisk to blend.  Set aside.

Combine salad ingredients and then pour dressing on top and gently mix.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes to allow flavors to meld.  This is best eaten the first day, so if you have a small crowd, I'd recommend halving the recipe.


Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Pretzel Bread

I found this recipe in our our local paper - The Star Tribune.  The recipe was fairly straightforward and our family liked the results.  I enjoy making homemade bread and the wonderful aroma that fills the kitchen when it's baking, so I enjoyed this recipe.

Ingredients

1/2 cup water
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter, softened
3 cups flour
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons (1 pkg) instant yeast
2 teaspoons salt
1 egg separated
cooking spray
cornmeal for the pan
3/4 cup baking soda
coarse kosher salt for sprinkling

Directions:

Combine water, milk, and butter and microwave for 45 seconds in a microwave-safe bowl.  Set aside.
In a bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, yeast, salt, and egg yolk.  Mix with a whisk to combine and then slowly add milk mixture.  If dough seems too dry add another tablespoon of water - that did the trick for me!  Knead on a floured surface for 5 minutes.

In a bowl coated with cooking spray, place the dough in and flip to cover all sides with the oil from the cooking spray.  Cover with a towel or plastic wrap and set aside for an hour or until doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 375.

Turn out dough on a lightly floured surface and divide into equal piece - I divided the dough into 8 pieces to make hamburger size buns...if you'd like them smaller, I'd recommend dividing into 12 pieces.
Turn the pieces into nicely rounded buns. and place on a clean baking sheet.  Cover with a towel and set aside.

Spray another cooking sheet with cooking spray and then sprinkle with corn meal.  (The poached dough will stick if you omit the corn meal.)

Heat 12 cups of water in a large pot until gently boiling.  When water is boiling slowly add the baking soda.  The water will foam and boil vigorously.

With a slotted spoon or spatula add rested pieces of dough to the boiling water, poach 30 seconds on one side then flip over for another 30 seconds.   (I poached 4 buns at a time)

Place the poached buns on the prepared second baking sheet.  Froth the egg white with a fork and then brush over the buns.  Using a sharp knife, make 2-4 slits in the top of each bun.  Sprinkle with salt and then back for 20-22 minutes until buns are a deep brown.

Cool on a wire rack.  Buns are best eaten the same day they're baked.  If you need to freeze them, omit the salt sprinkle.

Dough oiled and ready to rise
Risen dough ready to divide


Buns formed

Second baking sheet prepped with corn meal



Poaching buns

Poached buns ready to go in the oven

Finished buns.  Yum!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Hawaiian Pulled Chicken Sandwiches

This recipe was a bit of an experiment (a combination of a couple of different recipes) but ended up being delicious! Good barbeque and tomato flavors and the pineapple added a sweetness to it. We both liked it a lot!

Hawaiian Pulled Chicken Sandwiches














Ingredients:
  • 20 oz can of pineapple chunks
  • Medium onion (diced)
  • 1/3 cup of apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup of brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp of honey
  • 1 tbsp of paprika
  • 6 oz of tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp of minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp of Worcestershire sauce 
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes
  • 3 chicken breasts
Ingredients for Serving:
  • Sandwich or hamburger buns (we used whole wheat hoagie buns)
  • Cheese (we used Colby Jack)
  • Lettuce or spinach
  • Barbeque sauce 
  • Tomato (sliced)
  • Pickles (sweet or dill) 
  • Caramelized onions 
Directions:
  1. Combine all of the ingredients (except the chicken) in a crockpot.
  2. Mix well.
  3. Add chicken; push the chicken down so that it is covered by sauce.
  4. Cook on low for 6-7 hours or on high for 4-5 hours.
  5. Shortly before serving, take the chicken out of crockpot and shred with a fork (it should be well enough cooked that it falls apart).
  6. Put shredded chicken back into crockpot for a short amount of time to reabsorb the flavors (10-15 minutes).
  7. Serve on a bun with any desired sandwich toppings.
The ingredients

After adding all of the ingredients to the crockpot

After shredding the chicken

The sandwich with the caramelized onions on it

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles

Will needed a dessert to bring to work for a potluck and I found this one on a blog called Bailey Bakes, it looked amazing so I made some modifications (mostly just doubling the recipe so that it made enough to share with a group of people). I had to try one (or two) to make sure they were share-worthy and they were sooooo good! They taste exactly how they look -- like little balls of cookie dough covered in chocolate! Enjoy!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles



Ingredients:
  • 1 cup of butter (softened)
  • 1 cup of brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp of vanilla extract
  • 2 cups of flour
  • 2 cups of mini semisweet chocolate chips
  • 12 oz of regular size semisweet chocolate chips (or you could use a bar of semisweet chocolate if you chop it)
  • 2 tbsp of shortening
  • 1 section of a block of almond bark (approx. 4 oz) (optional)
Directions:
  1. Line 1-2 baking sheets (depending on their size) with wax paper, parchment paper, or aluminum foil and set aside (the paper or foil just makes for easier clean-up later). 
  2. Add the butter, brown sugar, and vanilla extract to a medium size bowl. Mix together with a mixer until combined.
  3. Add flour to mixture and beat with mixer until combined. (Note: Depending on how softened and what type of butter you use, the mixture may stick to itself or not but don't worry, when you go to make the truffle balls, it will stick together; I used whipped butter that was not very well softened so my mixture was completely loose and that made things harder but it worked.)
  4. Stir in the mini chocolate chips.
  5. Shape the dough into balls using your hands and place them on the lined baking sheet(s). 
  6. Put the baking sheet with the dough balls in the freezer for about 30 minutes to harden. 
  7. Shortly before you take the dough out of the freezer (approximately 5-10 minutes before), begin melting the semisweet chocolate chips or bar with the shortening in a small saucepan on low-medium heat on the stove or in a Pyrex mixing cup in the microwave. Stir every 30 seconds to ensure that the chocolate is melting and not burning. Once the chocolate is completely melted, take off the stove (or remove from the microwave).
  8. Take the dough balls out the freezer and drop each ball into the chocolate one at a time. Use a fork to roll the ball around in the chocolate and then fish it out and let it drip off a little. Transfer the chocolate-covered dough balls back to the lined baking sheets. 
  9. (If you choose to drizzle the truffles with almond bark): While you are dipping the dough balls in chocolate, begin melting the almond bark in the same way as the semisweet chocolate; I used the microwave because it was such a small amount. 
  10. (If you choose to drizzle the truffles with almond bark): Once all of the dough balls are covered in chocolate and placed on the lined baking sheet(s), take the melted almond bark and use a spoon to scoop a small amount and drizzle it over the truffles. 
  11. You may also choose to sprinkle any remaining mini chocolate chips on top of the truffles. 
  12. Once the truffles are completely covered, place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes prior to serving so that the chocolate will harden. 
Remember to continue to store the truffles in the refrigerator unless serving.

Ingredients

Dough balls after Step #5
Taste testing! Delicious! :-)

Completed truffles!
Update: An alternative coating for the truffles is to coat in vanilla/almond bark and drizzle with melted chocolate (see picture below). Both options are delicious!


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Strawberry Chocolate Milkshake

Sorry for the lack of posting from me lately; I made the move cross-country back to the Midwest so I haven't done much new cooking in the past couple of weeks.

Here is a really simple recipe that most people probably know how to make but it is delicious and is one of Will and I's favorite after-dinner snacks. We make many variations of milkshakes and smoothies so I may add on others to this post as we make them.

The recipe below makes two medium-size milkshakes.

Strawberry Chocolate Milkshake



Ingredients:
  • 10 oz of frozen sliced strawberries (or about 1 cup)
  • 1 banana (chopped)
  • 2 cups of chocolate ice cream
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 2 tbsp of dark chocolate syrup
Directions:
  1. Put the frozen strawberries and milk in the bottom of the blender (depending on how frozen your strawberries are, you may want to blend these together first) and blend.
  2. Place the banana, ice cream, and chocolate syrup in the blender next and blend. 
  3. Blend until milkshake is desired consistency. Oftentimes, you need to stop it, stir and re-start it.
  4. Enjoy!
 

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Strawberry Mango Salsa and Cinnamon Pita Chips

Kelly and I were looking for a light appetizer for Memorial Day.  We found a yummy one!  It's based on the recipe here, but I lightened up the red onion and was happy with the results.  It's a refreshing taste and a great way to start to the unofficial celebration of summer.


Ingredients for Strawberry Mango Salsa:

1 1/2 cup finely diced strawberries (about 16 ounces)
1 1/2 cup finely diced mango (about 2)
1/4 cup finely diced red onion
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

Directions:

Mix all ingredients, cover and refrigerate for at least an hour to allow all flavors to meld.


All ingredients mixed together.  Yum!!!


Ingredients for Cinnamon Pita Chips

4 pitas - without pockets
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon

Melt butter.  Mix cinnamon and sugar together.
Place pitas on a cookie sheet and brush with melted butter, then sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar mixture.
Use a pizza cutter to cut each pita into 8 wedges
Bake at 350 for 8 minutes

Put a spoonful of salsa on each pita chip and enjoy!


Pita Chips ready to go into the oven

Yummy Appetizer