Monday, September 29, 2014

Three Semi-Homemade Donuts for Autumn: Spiced, Sour Apple, and Cinnamon-Sugar

Temperatures are still on the warm side, but the leaves are changing color and that scent of autumn is in the air. I can't even put into words how much I love autumn. So I wanted to make semi-homemade donuts (donuts made from canned biscuit dough) with an autumn flavor. My first choice was cinnamon-sugar--you can't go wrong with cinnamon-sugar. And then I had some mulling spices in my pantry so I thought, why not? Then there was a single packet of apple cider mix sitting on a shelf. I tasted the mix and it had a sour apple flavor. I'm not a big fan of sour but Eric loves it--if you like Sour Patch kids, you'll like the sour apple donuts. I ended up with three delicious autumn donuts (and donut holes!)

1 tube of refrigerated biscuits

vegetable oil

mulling spice mix (I used Aspen Mulling Spices)
apple cider mix powder (I used Alpine Spiced Apple Cider Mix)

Separate your biscuits and lay them out on your work space. Rinse out an empty soda pop bottle. The size of the bottle doesn't matter. Remove the cap and press the opening of bottle into the center the biscuit to make the hole in the center. To get the dough out of the bottle opening, just squeeze the sides of the bottle; it'll pop right out and you'll have donut holes. Repeat with the rest of the biscuits.

Pour your vegetable oil in a large sauce pan, enough so that the donuts can be submerged. Heat the oil over med-hi heat to between 360 and 375 degrees. (I don't use a candy thermometer; I just wing it.) With tongs put your biscuit into the oil and cook until the perfect golden brown on each side. Place on a plate lined with paper towel.

Place the cinnamon-sugar in a shallow dish. The mulling spices in a second dish. And the apple cider mix in a third dish. Coat your donuts and donut holes in the desired seasonings.
Store in an airtight container.



More Fall Dessert Recipes:
Acorn Donuts
Apple Rings!
Homemade Candy Corn 
Peanut Butter Baked Apples
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Brownies
Pumpkin Pie Rice Krispie Treats

Friday, September 26, 2014

Basic Homemade Bagels

Good bagels are soft and yeasty and basically heavenly. Bad bagels are small and tough and bland. There really is no in between. After finally giving up on the bad bagels from the frozen section of the grocery store and spending too much on the good bagels from the bakery, I finally decided to make my own. I'm not going to lie, these took a little practice. You have to get the dough really stiff, and I'm still working on making them look pretty, but the taste is spot on. I go to bed every night looking forward to having one of these bagels for breakfast the next morning.

Recipe adapted from here.

4 1/2 to 5 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4-ounce package, active dry yeast 
1 1/2 cups warm water
Cooking spray

Toppings such as sesame seeds, poppy seeds, or cheeses, optional

In the bowl of a standing mixer, add 1 1/2 cups flour, sugar, salt, and yeast. Slowly add water and mix with your paddle attachment for 2 minutes at medium speed, scrapping down the sides of the bowl occasionally.

Switch to your hook attachment. Add 1/2 cup flour, mixing on high for two minutes. Add 2 1/2 cups flour. Dough should pull away from the sides of the bowl and be stiff. Add remaining 1/2 cup of flour if needed.

On medium speed, let the hook attachment knead the dough for about 8 minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic.

Place dough in an ungreased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough sit in a warm place for 20 minutes.

Punch down the dough and divide into 12 small balls. Poke a hole through the center of each ball with your finger. Hole should be about 1/2 inch in diameter.

Lightly grease a baking sheet with cooking spray, arrange bagel on it, and cover with plastic wrap. Let rest in a warm place for another 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large, shallow pan, boil at least 2-inches of water. Turn heat to low and add a couple of bagels to the water at a time. Simmer bagels for 2 to 3 minutes, turning once.

Remove bagels from water and place back on greased baking sheet. Spray the tops of the bagels with cooking spray. If desired, sprinkle with toppings.

Bake for 30 minutes



More Bread Recipes:
Grandma Betty's Banana Bread
Homemade Bread Sticks 
Homemade Flour Tortillas
Homemade Pita Bread
Only the Best Homemade Cinnamon Rolls 
Parmesan Onion Rolls 
Pull Apart Pizza Bread  

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Snickerdoodles for Cinnamon Lovers

I don't know if there is a bigger cinnamon lover out there than me. I drink cinnamon tea. I heap a ton of cinnamon into my oatmeal every morning. I even put it in my hot chocolate. You would think that snickerdoodles would be my favorite cookies. While I like them, I never really think about them and hadn't made them before. Well, a couple of weeks ago my husband and I had some snickerdoodles from a bakery and were highly disappointed. They were dry and bland. Eric commented that snickerdoodles are always rather bland. I was about to argue with him, but then I realized he was right. Right then and there I decided I would make a snickerdoodle that was amped up and couldn't ever be considered bland.

Recipe adapted from here.

1 1/2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening
2 eggs
1 tablespoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup brown sugar
 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a cookie sheet with cooking spray or line with parchment paper.

Cream butter, shortening, and white sugar in a large bowl. Mix in eggs.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, 1 tablespoon cinnamon, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt. Gradually add dry ingredients to wet ingredients. Mix until combined.

Shape dough into balls, approximately  with a 1 1/4-inch diameter. Mix brown sugar, 2 tablespoons of cinnamon, and cayenne in small bowl. Roll balls in the cinnamon-sugar mixtures and place on the cookie sheet, about 2 inches apart.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until the cookies set.

Place cookies on a wire rack to cool. 

Now, the cayenne pepper might seem a little weird or scary, but it really adds depth to these cookies. And it was Eric's favorite thing about them.



More Cookie Recipes:
Chocolate Chip Cookie in a Mug!
Cinnamon Meringue Cookies
Easy Rum Balls
Edye's Molassess Krinkles
Hazelnut Chocolate Chip Cookies
Healthified Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies
Smores Cookies!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

10 of Our Favorite Pumpkin Recipes of Years Past

Like the rest of the world, I go pumpkin-crazy as soon as fall arrives. Before I start this year's pumpkin explosion, I thought I'd go back and look at our favorite pumpkin recipes of the past. Both sweet and savory.

1. Pumpkin Dip with Cinnamon-Sugar Pastries
My husband is madly in love with this dip. I make it for him twice a year--every autumn and every year for his birthday, but I don't think a month goes by without him asking me to make pumpkin dip.

2. Cheese Tortellini with a Pumpkin Sauce
This dish was my first time experimenting with pumpkin in a savory dish. I remember trying all kinds of variations trying to get it just right. I ended up loving this pumpkin sauce so much, I mentioned it in my novel, The Creaking Tree.

3. Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Brownies
After being unable to find a fudgy pumpkin brownie recipe, I invented my own. I suppose I should have called them blondies instead of brownies, but whatever they are called, they are addicting.

4. Pumpkin Gnocchi in a Parmesan Sauce
Eric doesn't usually get excited for my savory pumpkin dishes. He's a big believer that pumpkin should be sweet. But he is always willing to at least try my creations and this happens to be one that he'll eat with pleasure.

5. Pumpkin Caramels
My father-in-law loves these caramels. He seriously could not stop eating them.

6. Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies with White Chocolate Chips and Dried Cranberries
These cookies are a combination of so many delicious things--pumpkin, oatmeal cookies, white chocolate, cranberries--that they had no choice but to be amazing.

7. Pumpkin-Black Bean Stew with Spicy Sausage
This stew scream autumn. It's warm and comforting and heavy.

8. Pumpkin Hot Cocoa
What's better than homemade hot chocolate? Pumpkin hot chocolate! And don't forget the Halloween Peep marshmallow!

9. Pumpkin Fudge
This pumpkin fudge is very special to us. It has a strong pumpkin flavor and was the favor at our wedding last year!

10. Slow Cooker: Pumpkin Butter
My parents are big pumpkin butter people so of course I shared some of my pumpkin butter, and they were just blown away. Made in a crockpot, it's not only delicious, but easy.

For more pumpkin recipes, click on the Index tab at the top of the page and check back to see what pumpkin recipes I come up with this year!



Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Cheddar Ranch Chicken

Another easy, tasty chicken recipe. It's hard to go wrong with chicken, cheddar cheese, and ranch.

Recipe adapted from here.

4 chicken boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons ranch dressing seasoning (the powdered kind)
1/3 cup cheddar, shredded
1/4 cup panko

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Grease an 8x8-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Arrange chicken breasts in the pan in a single layer.

In a medium bowl, mix together mayonnaise, ranch, and cheese. Spread the mixture on top of the chicken. Sprinkle panko on top of the chicken and lightly spray the top with cooking spray. 

Bake for 25 to 30 mins or until chicken is cooked through and the panko is lightly browned.



More Chicken Recipes:
Melt-in-your-mouth Chicken 
Lemon Pepper Chicken with Garlic Potatoes
Jalapeno Popper Chicken
Buffalo Chicken Quesadillas
Chicken Nugget Casserole 
Orange Chicken with Fried Rice
Parmesan-Seared Chicken

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Parsnip Chips

I have always wanted to try parsnips but somehow they have eluded me for years. I'd go to the grocery store and they'd be sold out. Well, my mother-in-law had some a friend had given her from the garden and she was generous enough to share them with me. I don't think I've ever been so excited about a vegetable before.

If you're familiar with my blog, you know that I'll turn anything into a chip so the first thing I did with the parnsips was turn them into chips (then I roasted them like a normal person). They reminded me of a nutty potato chip. Eric, who was pretty sure he didn't like parsnips but was willing to try them, really like the parsnip chips (he didn't, however, like the roasted parsnips).

Cooking Spray

Slice the zucchini into thin slices using a mandolin. You want them just step above paper thin--this is the second setting on my mandolin, but each one is different. Place a sheet of wax paper on a microwave-safe plate, and spray it generously with cooking spray. Place the zucchini slices on the plate in a single layer. Season to taste. I used just salt, but you could use garlic powder or grated Parmesan cheese or anything that sounds good to you.

On high power, microwave for 4 to 6 minutes. Allow the chips to rest for 1 minute. Microwave for another 2 to 3 minutes or until light brown spots appear on the chips. Keep in mind each microwave cooks differently. Mine turn out best when cooked for 4 minutes then 2.5 minutes.

Parsnip and carrot chips



More Chip Recipes:
Baked Apple Chips
Banana Chips
Homemade Pita Chips
Homemade Tortilla Chips
Kale Chips 
Parmesan Veggie Crisps
Pepperoni Chips
Potato Chips in the Microwave
Snowflake Tortilla Chips
Yellow Squash Chips 
Zucchini Chips 2.0

Carrot Chips

Sweet. Crunchy. Healthy. Is there a more perfect snack out there?

Large carrot
Cooking Spray

Slice the carrot into thin slices using a mandolin. You want them just a step above paper thin--I use the second setting on my mandolin, but each one is different. Place a sheet of wax paper on a microwave-safe plate. and spray it generously with cooking spray. Place the zucchini slices on the plate in a single layer. Season to taste. I just used a little salt, but you could season them with any spices that sound good to you.

On high power, microwave for 4 to 6 minutes. Allow the chips to rest for 1 minute. Microwave for another 2 to 3 minutes or until light brown spots appear on the chips. Keep in mind each microwave cooks differently. Mine turn out best when cooked for 4 minutes then 2.5 minutes.

Carrots and parsnips

Carrot and parsnip chips



More Chip Recipes:
Baked Apple Chips
Banana Chips
Homemade Pita Chips
Homemade Tortilla Chips
Kale Chips 
Parmesan Veggie Crisps
Pepperoni Chips
Potato Chips in the Microwave
Snowflake Tortilla Chips
Yellow Squash Chips 
Zucchini Chips 2.0

Friday, September 12, 2014

Chicken Nugget Casserole

Even though we don't have any children, I buy a big bag of chicken nuggets every time I go grocery shopping at my husband's insistence. It's not that he's madly in love with the bland little nuggets. It's just that they're an easy meal when he has to fend for himself. And I'm not going to lie, I'll make them for myself when I'm feeling lazy too. But I've come to discover I don't really like chicken nuggets. They're just food for the belly, and I'm a believer that food should be more than that; it should be enjoyed. Since chicken nuggets are a staple in our house, I decided to find a way to make them enjoyable.

Eric thought I was a little nuts when I told him I was going to use chicken nuggets to make a casserole. But after one bite, he was convinced. This casserole is so full of flavor. And you can easily change it up just by switching out the sauce. Swap out the spaghetti sauce for BBQ sauce or ranch dressing. Or change it up by playing with different cheeses. A whole new world of chicken nuggets has just opened up.

Recipe adapted from here.

12 frozen chicken nuggets
1/3 cup Parmesan, grated
1 cup your favorite spaghetti sauce
2/3 cup mozzarella, shredded
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

Preheat over to 350 degrees. Grease an 8x8-inch baking dish with cooking spray.

Place the chicken nuggets in a single layer in the pan. Sprinkle with Parmesan. Spread the spaghetti sauce over the chicken nuggets. Toss mozzarella and Italian seasoning together then sprinkle on top of the casserole.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes.



More Chicken Recipes:
Provincial Chicken
Southwest Chicken Panini Sandwich
Spicy Bacon-Wrapped Chicken
Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Chicken
Tomato and Artichoke Chicken
The Ultimate Comfort Food Casserole
Zesty Shredded Chicken (Crockpot)

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Lemon Pepper Chicken Sandwiches

I so wished I had made more of the lemon pepper chicken so I could have made more of these sandwiches. I didn't know I could love lemon pepper chicken any more than I already did. The key to these sandwiches, other than the mouth-watering chicken, is the Italian seasoned canned tomatoes. Normally I'd used fresh tomatoes on a sandwich, but I didn't have any, and there were some leftover canned tomatoes in the fridge so I just went with it. Oh so good.

3 lemon pepper chicken breasts, cooked and shredded (recipe 1, recipe 2--I used recipe 2)
8 pieces of sandwich bread
1 14.5-ounce can Italian seasoned canned tomatoes, drained
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
Mayo, optional
Onion, optional
Cucumber, optional

Set oven to broil. Lightly grease baking sheet with cooking spray.

Shred the chicken breasts. Divide chicken, tomatoes, and cheese evenly among 4 slices of bread. Places the sandwiches open-faced on the baking sheet. Place the remaining 4 slices of bread on the baking sheet as well and broil until bread is toasted and cheese is melted, 1 to 2 minutes.

Remove from oven and add mayo, onions, or cucumber as desired.



More Chicken Recipes:
Buffalo Chicken Dip
Captain Morgan Chicken with Ginger Rice
Chicken Enchiladas with Fire-Roasted Tomatoes
Chicken Patties
Chicken Stuffed with Ricotta, Pesto, and Sun-dried Tomatoes 
Chicken with a Honey Mustard Sauce 

Friday, September 5, 2014

5 Favorite Summer Recipes 2014

Labor Day weekend has passed and the kiddies are back in school; that means summer is over--even if the temps are still in the 80s. To say goodbye to summer, here are some of our summer favorite recipes.

1. Parmesan Veggie Crisps
    Made with shredded zucchini and carrots, these crisp chips are not only healthy but delicious, and pair  
    perfectly with hummus.

1/2 cup grated zucchini
1/2 cup grated carrot
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
seasonings, if desired (garlic powder, rosemary, etc.)

Remove the excess moisture from the zucchini and carrots by placing them between a couple of paper towels and squeezing out the extra liquid.

Mix all the ingredients together. Line a microwave-safe plate with waxed paper and spray with cooking spray. Spoon about a tablespoon of the mixture on a plate then flatten with the bottom of the spoon. Repeat with the rest of the mixture. Microwave for 2 to 3 minutes on High. Every microwave is different so start at 2 minutes, then add 30 seconds as needed. 2 minutes worked perfectly for me. Allow to cool about a couple of minutes before serving.

2. Smores Cookie Cups
     I've made quite a few smores desserts but these cookies are without a doubt one of the best. They are
     seriously addicting.

1 package Ready to Bake Pillsbury Sugar Cookies (or this sugar cookie recipe, halved)
4 tablespoons chocolate spread (I used Hershey, but Jiffy makes one too)*
4 tablespoons marshmallow fluff
3 graham crackers, crumbled

Preheat oven to 350 degrees if using refrigerated cookie dough. (If using my sugar cookie recipe, preheat to 375 degrees). Grease a two mini muffin tin with cooking spray.

Place crumbled graham crackers in a bowl. You can crumble them as fine or as coarse as you like.

Roll each section of refrigerated cookie dough (approximately a tablespoon of cookie dough from scratch) into a ball. Roll each ball into the graham cracker crumbs and place in the muffin tin.

Bake for approximately 15 minutes at 350 or 7-8 minutes at 375 (for scratch).

As soon as you remove the cookies from the oven, press the centers in gently using the end of a wooden spoon. Allow the cookies to cool in the pan for about 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Once cooled, spoon 1/2 teaspoon of chocolate spread into each cup. Spoon 1/2 teaspoon marshmallow fluff on top of the chocolate spread. Place cookie cups onto a cookie sheet.

Set oven to broil and pop the cookies back into the oven to toast the marshmallow. This only takes about 30 seconds so don't walk away or even look away from your cookies or else you risk burning them. When the marshmallow reaches the desired shade of golden brown, remove from oven.

Serve or store in an airtight container at room temperature.

3. Quick and Easy Chicken Parmesan
      I love chicken parmesan and have tried a lot of recipes over the years. I never would have expected one
      this simple would have been the winner.

4 chicken breast
3/4 cup panko
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 cup marinara sauce
cooking spray

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Grease a cookie sheet with cooking spray.

In a shallow dish, combine, panko, oregano, basil, and Parmesan. Place melted butter in a second shallow dish. Set aside.

Slice the chicken breasts in half horizontally so you have 8 thin chicken breasts. Dip the chicken breast in the butter then coat it in the panko mixture. Place on cookie sheet and repeat with the rest of the chicken.

Lightly spray a little cooking spray on the top of the chicken breasts. Bake for 20 minutes. Flip chicken over and bake for another 5 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.

Remove from oven and spoon 1 tablespoon of sauce over each chicken breast and then sprinkle with mozzarella, dividing the cheese equally between the breasts.

Bake for 5 minutes or until the cheese is melted.

4. Soy Wax Beans with Sesame Seeds
     I don't think I would have ever bought wax beans on my own. But my mother-in-law gave me some and
     had to figure out what to do with them. Little did I know that I'd fall in love with them. We are easily
     going to eat these beans every summer.

1 pound wax beans, trimmed
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 pinch ground ginger
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon brown sugar, packed
1/2 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Toss the wax beans with olive oil on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes or until beans are tender and browned in spots. Toss beans halfway through.

Mix together soy sauce, ginger, lemon, and sugar in a medium bowl. Add roasted beans and toss. Garnish with sesame seeds.

5. Strawberry Chocolate Chips Muffins
     These muffins were something a little different than your run-of-the-mill muffin and turned out to be a huge
     hit in Eric's office.

1 1/2 cup flour
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1/3 cup milk
1 1/2 cup fresh strawberries, diced
1 cup dark chocolate chips

Crumble Topping
1 tablespoon butter, room temperature
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.

In a small bowl, combine all the crumble topping ingredients until you have a texture of coarse crumbs. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder.

In a second bowl, combine egg, oil, and milk. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir (be careful not to over mix). Fold in blueberries.

Divide equally between the 12 cups. Generously sprinkle crumble on top of the muffins. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the center of the muffins set.