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Monthly Archives: November 2013

Apple Bacon Lattice Pie

Apple Bacon Lattice Pie

When the bacon craze took off several years ago it didn’t affect me. I don’t eat bacon. I don’t like bacon. I occasionally make bacon for the family when I make breakfast or in the summer when it’s BLT season. I will eat an obligatory Lettuce Tomato Sandwich, but hold the bacon.

So, when some of my co-workers were talking about our office Thanksgiving dinner they mentioned having seen a bacon topped pie. I believe they saw a pecan pie with bacon top. We had a few laughs about it, and we all emailed each other about what we were going to bring. I opted for rolls and dessert.

I spent some time Saturday thinking about what I was going to make and the bacon topped pie kept creeping in to my crazy brain. I have seen pictures on Facebook and other sites showing almost any kind of food paired with bacon. I was pretty sure I could make a bacon topped pecan pie. Except that it didn’t sound very good. My dislike for bacon aside, if I am going to make something, I want it to taste good. I got to thinking about what would taste good with bacon…and although NOTHING was really my answer the obvious taste combination was apples. I looked all over for a bacon apple pie, and stumbled upon a recipe that had proven the fact. I did NOT like the pie filling that they used, so I just threw together what I consider a standard apple pie, and then topped it with bacon. My recipe (and the link to the idea pie) are below.
Apple Bacon Lattice Pie

  • 1 -9” piecrust, unbaked
  • 5-7 medium apples, cored, peeled, and sliced
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 8 slices thick cut bacon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place pie crust gently in the bottom of a 9” pie plate, leaving excess crust. In a large mixing bowl combine apples, lemon juice, sugars, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Mix thoroughly, until all apples are covered. Gently spoon apple filling into pie shell. Cut the bacon slices in half, lengthwise. Cover the apple filling with the bacon, in a lattice weave. Trim the ends of the bacon to just beyond the pie plate, and tuck under the crust. Pinch the bacon and crust together, and flute. Bake the pie for 60 minutes, until the apples are done and the bacon is crisp. If the bacon does not look crisp enough, cook for a few more minutes until it is crisp.

Remove the pie from the oven onto a cooling rack. Cool completely. Refrigerate uneaten pie.

http://elicooks.wordpress.com/2008/10/09/bacon-really-does-make-everything-better/

I had never made a lattice top for a pie before. It always seemed daunting. As I was making this pie, Daughter Number Three was immensely intrigued. When it came time to do the lattice top, she asked to help. I showed her a picture from a step-by-step guide to lattice…she was so excited because it looked like something she had woven in school. We started with four slices across the top, parallel to each other. We wove the perpendicular strips beginning in the middle and working from each side. It was not so bad! Well, the raw bacon was kind of strange to work with, but it wasn’t hard.

My co-workers were all shocked at the apple bacon pie and took pictures of it to send to their significants and friends. I guess they needed proof. They could hardly wait until dessert time so they could cut into the pie and try it. Oddly enough, it got great reviews. They really liked the salty, smoky flavor in conjunction with the sweet apples. I did manage to bring a couple of pieces home after work to let The Hubs and Daughters Three and Four try out. The Hubs said it was something that he would probably never crave, but it was good. The girls REALLY liked it.

I’m not sure this is something I will ever make again, but I can say that I did it! Oh, and I have picture proof!

 
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Posted by on November 26, 2013 in recipe

 

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Irish Coffee Cheesecake

Irish Coffee Cheesecake

I may have mentioned this before, then again I may not have. I love birthdays. I love ALL birthdays. I love mine, I love my children’s, I love other people’s birthdays. I LOVE BIRTHDAYS!

Yesterday, Daughter Number Four celebrated her 9th birthday. She was super excited for her birthday, not for any particular reason other than it was her birthday. I was super excited for her birthday primarily because it meant I got to bake a cake!

Daughter Number Four is not the kind of girl who follows any particular tradition. A bit of background: Daughter Number One always asks for Angel Food. I always ask for Cherry Cheesecake. Daughter Number Four always asks for something different. Last year, she wanted a Boston Cream Pie. This year she asked for a cheesecake. She asked for an Irish Coffee Cheesecake. She found the recipe in a book that I ordered from Amazon earlier this month. The reason I ordered the book is because my father owned one. And lost it. More likely, he loaned it out to someone and couldn’t remember who. That was his M.O. well before his stroke last December. He would loan or give anything to anyone. The importance of this particular recipe book is that there is a recipe in it that he and I made when I was young. It is a Triple Chocolate Cheesecake. The last time he made it for me was on my wedding day. It was my wedding cake. When I stumbled upon it on Amazon (for 99 cents) I was ecstatic. It came in the mail, I ripped open the package and immediately found the Triple Chocolate Cheesecake recipe. I felt satisfied knowing that I now owned the book and the recipe. The next morning when I woke up, Daughter Number Four was sitting in the Living Room reading the cookbook. She looked to be about halfway through the book. She announced that she had found what she wanted me to make for her birthday cake this year… Irish Coffee Cheesecake. So, I did.

Here is the recipe that I have adapted from Mother Wonderful’s Cheesecakes and Other Goodies by Myra Chanin. The Irish Coffee Cheesecake was simply Wonderful! Very rich and decadent, and…wonderful!

Irish Coffee Cheesecake

Crust

  • 8 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
  • 1 ½ cups finely ground Chocolate Graham Crackers
  • ½ cup grated Coffee-flavored Chocolate
  • ¼ cup granulated Sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large glass bowl melt the better in the microwave, in short increments so as not to burn. Add in crumbs, chocolate, and sugar. With a fork stir until combined. Press small amounts of crust mixture into ungreased 10-inch springform pan and then press remaining crust mixture over bottom of the pan. Be careful not to make your crust uneven or too thick.

Filling

  • 4 8-ounce packages Cream Cheese, softened
  • 1 ½ cups granulated Sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Instant espresso
  • 1 ½ Tablespoons Irish whiskey
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 4 Large Eggs
  • ¼ cup grated Coffee-flavored Chocolate

In a mixing bowl of a stand-mixer whip cream cheese on high speed for 5 minutes, then add sugar and beat for 2 minutes more. Dissolve espresso in whiskey and then add espresso mixture, grated chocolate and salt to batter and blend together thoroughly. Add the eggs, one at a time, keeping the mixer on lowest speed in order to prevent too much air from destroying the consistency of the batter. Mix just until each egg has been incorporated into the batter. Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl as you mix. Pour batter into crust and bake for 55 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand on cooling rack for 10 minutes. Make the glaze.

Sour Cream Glaze

  • 2 cups Sour Cream
  • ¼ cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Coffee flavor liqueur, or Irish Cream flavor liqueur
  • Shaved or Grated Coffee-flavored Chocolate

Combine sour cream, sugar and liqueur in a small bowl. Spread evenly and smoothly over top of baked filling and return to the oven for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and place immediately in the refrigerator to cool. This prevents cracks from forming in the cake. Refrigerate for several hours until COLD and set.  Remove cake from springform pan before serving and sprinkle top with shaved or grated chocolate.

This recipe was such a hit with the family. Daughter Number One even said she might want this for HER birthday! I must caution everyone that this is a VERY rich and decadent dessert. It is a definite delight…truly Wonderful!

With a birthday cake like this, you can see one of the reasons I love birthday so much! Who wouldn’t???

 
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Posted by on November 24, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Chicken Pot Pie – healthified

Chicken Pot Pie – healthified

Winter weather has come to Kansas! It is cold outside, folks. As I sat at my kitchen table Monday I watched the skies turn grey and the leaves start to drop off the trees like rain from the skies. A cold front was coming through. The temperature dropped about twenty degrees in a matter of three hours, in the middle of the day! As I sat shivering I decided that I needed to make some ‘comfort food’ for dinner.

I immediately set out to find a healthified version of Chicken Pot Pie. I polled The Hubs and Daughters Three and Four to see if the preferred a pie crust style pot pie or a biscuit style pot pie. They did not care.

I came across a recipe at http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/chicken_potpie.html that was similar to what I was looking for. I made a few changes and came up with the recipe below. It was a colossal success. Everyone liked it; really liked it. It was piping hot, even after sitting for 10 minutes. It was hearty and creamy. What more could anyone ask for? Cheese. It was suggested by an unnamed inhabitant of my house that cheese would have been a good addition. Other than that…

Chicken Pot Pie

Filling

2 teaspoons canola oil

½ cup onion, minced

1 cup carrots, diced

½ cup potatoes, diced

2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth

1 cup low-sodium chicken broth

2 cups cooked chicken, diced

1 cup frozen peas

2 servings homemade cream soup mix

Topping

3/4 cup whole-wheat flour

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons sugar

1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 1/2 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces

1 cup nonfat buttermilk

1 tablespoon canola oil

Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large oven proof skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onions and carrots; cook, stirring, until golden brown and tender, about 7 minutes. While onions and carrots are heating, parboil potatoes in hot water on the stove, or in the microwave. Drain the potatoes and add to the pan. Cook for 3-5 minutes to mingle flavors. Add 2 cups vegetable broth and bring to a boil; reduce heat to a simmer. Mix dry cream soup substitute with the remaining 1 broth; add to the pan and cook, stirring, until thickened. Remove from heat. Fold in chicken and peas. Set aside. Preheat oven to 400°F. In a large mixing bowl whisk flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and thyme. Cut butter into the dry ingredients using your fingertips, 2 knives, or a pastry blender until coarse like corn meal. Make a well in the middle and add buttermilk and oil. Stir until just combined. Drop the dough onto the filling in 6 even portions. Pat the tops gently with floured hands. Bake until the crust is golden and the filling is bubbling, 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from oven to a cooling rack. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

I took leftovers for lunch, Tuesday and the rest was eaten by The Hubs and girls for lunch. They must have liked it or they would NOT have eaten leftovers! Especially after I announced that each serving was only 350 calories and 8 grams of fat! Now that’s success.

I discovered late yesterday that my brother who is the super cooker made a chicken pot pie with biscuit topping Monday evening, too. He DID add cheese to his biscuit crust. I think one serving of his probably had the caloric content of my entire dish… so I think I’ll stick with mine!

If you are in the mood for something to warm you up and give you a big hug of deliciousness give this a try. It definitely did the trick for my group!

 
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Posted by on November 13, 2013 in recipe

 

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Roasted Chicken – Slow Cooker

Roasted Chicken – Slow Cooker

As you know I have become a huge fan of slow cooker cooking over these past few months. I especially love making ahead and freezing slow cooker meals, and then popping them in the slow cooker before work; returning home to dinner ready or nearly ready.

However, I have discovered a few downfalls to the slow cooker thing. One of the downfalls is that my newest slow cooker does not cook the potatoes at the same speed that it cooks everything else. That means that I either need to change the way I cut my potatoes or always use one of the older slow cookers if there are potatoes in a recipe. Another thing I have discovered is that cooking a whole chicken in the slow cooker makes it very mushy. I love to stew whole chickens on the stove top to make other recipes with, but not so much in the slow cooker. Also, there is no way to ‘oven roast’ a whole chicken in the slow cooker. Or is there?

I had discovered a ‘roasted’ chicken leg recipe for the slow cooker several months back and started wondering if I could do that same technique with a whole chicken. I tried it last week and “voila”! It worked! Everyone in the house just loved it! Even The Hubs… it was cooked to near perfection. It was similar to a rotisserie style chicken, instead of how I prepare an oven roasted chicken, but we were all thrilled with the outcome.

Here is what I did, literally taking the recipe for the chicken leg recipe and using it on the whole chicken. I did use my new slow cooker, because it is oval and not round. The shape lent itself nicely to the shape of the chicken.

Slow Cooker Roasted Chicken

  • 1 whole roasting chicken, 3-4 pounds
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon rosemary
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon thyme
  • ¼ teaspoon celery salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper

Remove the giblets from the chicken. Wash thoroughly inside and out. Pat dry with paper towel. Mix the spices together in a bowl. Rub the spice mixture over the chicken. Tuck the wings behind the chicken, and tie the legs together with cooking string. Loosely crumple up some aluminum foil and put it on the bottom of the slow cooker. Place the chicken on top of the foil. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. The chicken should not touch the bottom or sides of the slow cooker.

That’s it. That is all there is to it. It is easy and absolutely delicious.

This recipe doesn’t seem to be able to lend itself to the freezer to slow cooker idea, but it still does not take much time to prep before heading out the door to work, or staying in to work, or home schooling your children, or however you spend your very busy days.

I sincerely hope you try this one and that you enjoy this morsel as much as we did!

 
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Posted by on November 11, 2013 in recipe

 

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Tortellini Soup

Tortellini Soup

I have to share what has become a definite ‘maker-againer’ in the family rotation. I made it a week ago when Daughter Number 2 came home from college for the weekend. It was cold outside, and I have to be careful to modify to vegetarian or poultry when she is eating my cooking. She  cannot eat red meat or ground meats. She would like to eat red meat, however, her body does not process it. So she sticks to poultry, no fried foods, and no ground meats.

My boss had told me about a soup that she makes in her slow cooker that was a hit with her family, including her “Meat and Potatoes” husband. I didn’t write it down, but remembered the basics of it, so thought I would replicate it to the best of my abilities. My family is NOT as much a fan of soup as I am. During the colder months I could eat soup every day. Them…not so much.

So, when they were seated at the dinner table that night looking at their bowls of soup and slices of bread I could tell this was an uphill battle that I was not likely going to win. The Hubs muttered something about “no meat” while the younger girls looked somewhat disgustedly at the green stuff floating in their bowls. I assured The Hubs that there was meat in this dish and explained to Daughters Three and Four that it was spinach, and they liked spinach.

With that we all began to eat. I could see a few surprised looks on the faces of the family seated around the table. Then came a few glances toward me. Then came the words. They liked it! They really liked it! Daughter Number Two exclaimed that this was the best soup she had ever eaten and she sure hoped no one else liked it because she was having the leftovers for lunch the next day. The Hubs quickly put a stop to all of her crazy talk by letting her know that he WOULD be having seconds. And so he did. Daughters Three and Four completely emptied their bowls. I do not think they have emptied a soup bowl that did not first start in a Campbell’s can ever. I was asked where I got the recipe and I shared with them who I got it from. “Give her a high-five from me, Mom”, Daughter Number Four said. That was echoed by the rest. I made sure the Facebook her that she was getting ‘high-fives’ for the soup.

Below is the recipe that I used to make this delicious soup; so delicious in fact that I made it again this weekend, when Daughter Number Two was home, with a friend, from college. No leftovers this time, either.

Tortellini Soup

  • 4 cups Organic vegetable broth, low sodium (or chicken)
  • 2 cups water
  • 8-10 ounces Tortellini
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 package chicken Italian sausage, sliced
  • 1 cup fresh spinach

Combine the broth and water in a large sauce pan (or Dutch oven) on the stove top. Heat to boiling. Add the Tortellini, and cook to al Dente, stirring occasionally. Add the Italian seasoning and sausage (I use pre-cooked. If you do not use pre-cooked sausage cook according to package directions before adding to the soup.). Cook for 2 minutes add spinach. Remove from heat. Let the spinach wilt and stir gently.

That’s it. It is done in under thirty minutes and is hearty and warm and delicious.

Everyone was as happy with it the second night as they were the first.

I hope your loved ones enjoy this soup as much as mine did. This little bit has definitely made its way into our lives!

 

 
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Posted by on November 10, 2013 in recipe

 

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Chicken Parmigiana

Chicken Parmigiana

While I have been making mostly Freezer to Slow Cooker meals, I haven’t given up cooking and baking altogether! I made this next recipe for the birthday weekend that my family celebrated the last weekend of September, and again a couple of weeks later. It was a big hit with my entire family, including my mother, Daughter Number One and her boyfriend. They were all here to help celebrate. The second time I made it we also had company. A friend of Daughter Number 2’s from college came home for the weekend, so I made this again. She said she had never had Chicken Parmigiana before, but this would be what she based all others on. WOW!

When I was growing up, my father was a more adventurous cook than my mother.  He loved to try new things. He made Eggplant Parmigiana several times, and I always liked it. He used ‘cracker meal’, crushed up saltine crackers, as his breading. I chose a different breading and think that it is the key to this amazing recipe!

Chicken Parmigiana

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, butterflied and cut in halves
  • 4-6 slices whole wheat or white bread
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon dried parsley
  • 2-6 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 large eggs, or 4 large egg whites, beaten with 1 Tablespoon water
  • 1 cup marinara (spaghetti sauce)
  • 1 pound fresh mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut and wash chicken breasts. If they seem thicker in some areas, pound thin. Pat chicken dry with a paper towel.

In food processor pulse bread until coarse, about eight 1-second pulses. Pour crumbs onto a baking pan. Add garlic, 1 Tablespoon oil. Toss until crumbs are evenly coated with oil. Bake until deep golden brown and dry, about 15 minutes, stirring twice during baking time. (Do not turn off oven.) Cool to room temperature. Add in parsley.

In a large low sided bowl (I use a pie pan) combine flour, salt and pepper. In another dish, beat eggs and water. Place the cooled bread crumbs in a third dish. Heat 1-2 Tablespoons oil in a large non-stick skillet. Dip one chicken breast at a time into the flour mixture, tapping to remove excess. You want a light coating, not a heavy one. Then dip the floured chicken into the egg mixture, turning to coat. Allow excess to drip off. Next dredge the chicken into the bread crumb mixture, turning to coat. Add the coated chicken breast to the hot oil in the skillet. Do this for all of the chicken. Cook until browned and turn. When both sides are browned and crisp, remove onto the baking pan you used for the bread crumbs. Place pan into the heated oven. When browning the chicken breasts in the skillet do not overcrowd. You can use multiple pans, or do this in batches. Be sure to add fresh oil between batches, and heat the oil to near smoking before adding the chicken. Do not leave the chicken in the skillet too long or it will become greasy.

Top the chicken breasts on the baking pan with a few Tablespoons of marinara, a thin slice of mozzarella, and about 1/2 Tablespoon grated Parmesan. Return the chicken to the oven until the chicken is cooked through and the cheese is melted, 7-10 minutes.

Remove the chicken onto a platter, garnish with fresh parsley, and serve over thin spaghetti. Have extra marinara available, and some crusty Italian bread!

Now I’m hungry!

I almost always serve Italian food with a big green salad and green beans, too. I like to make green beans (fresh or canned) in the oven and add some almonds or pecans.

This recipe isn’t hard, but it is somewhat time consuming. That’s why it works well for weekend meals! Well, and it also makes a lot of dishes!

I hope you enjoy this little morsel as much as we did!

 
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Posted by on November 1, 2013 in recipe, Uncategorized

 

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