Wednesday, July 29, 2009

TWD: Cookies 'N Cream Ice Cream

Okay, so this week's Tuesdays with Dorie pick was actually vanilla ice cream, but I couldn't resist adding the cookies to create my very favorite ice cream - cookies 'n cream. The vanilla ice cream was selected this week by Lynne of Cafe Lynnylu. Click the link to get the recipe and see her fabulous pictures, which put the ones I took in under three minutes to shame!

This ice cream came together really easily and was surprisingly quick to make. I guess I'm getting good at this ice cream making thing. I followed the recipe exactly, and added about 10 crushed cookies during the last five minutes of its churning in the ice cream maker. My son actually helped me add the cookies (and ate a few) and loved watching the ice cream churning around. Look at him sitting there with his spoon, waiting to get a taste!

Overall, it tasted great and everyone enjoyed it. The recipe makes for a great base and just about anything can be added. Maybe next time I'll try cookie dough... yum!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Basil Grilled Chicken

Basil Grilled Chicken was this week's selection for the group My Girl, Paula. This was a very simple one that I didn't even have to buy anything from the grocery store for. I already had chicken on hand, along with butter, and I love getting to use my basil from the garden. So this was cheap and easy!

We really enjoyed this. We cut it in half and only made two chicken breasts and half the amount of the seasoned butter for dipping (and we still had some of the butter leftover). But we thought it was really delicious! We put a dollop of the seasoned butter on top of the chicken and let it melt, and it made the chicken so moist and extremely flavorful. We'll definitely be making this recipe again - especially since I need to use up the basil in my garden, which this is great for!

Basil Grilled Chicken
(from Paula Deen)

3/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
4 skinned chicken breast halves
1/4 cup freshly chopped basil leaves, plus 2 tablespoons freshly minced basil leaves
1/3 cup (5 Tbsp.) butter, melted, plus 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
1 Tbsp. grated Parmesan
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
Fresh basil springs, optional

1. Prepare charcoal grill (I used a gas grill).

2. Press the coarsely ground pepper into the meaty side of the chicken breast halves. Stir the chopped basil into the melted butter. Brush the chicken lightly with this mixture. In a small bowl, combine the softened butter, minced basil, Parmesan, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Beat at low speed with an electric mixer until smoothly blended. Transfer to a small serving bowl; set aside.

3. Grill the chicken over medium coals for 8 to 10 minutes on each side, basting frequently with the remaining melted butter mixture.

4. Serve the grilled chicken with the basil-butter mixture. Garnish with fresh basil springs, if desired.

Makes 4 servings.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Gorilla Bread

I'm assuming that most people have either had monkey bread, or have at least heard of it. If not, you're totally missing out. And here's your chance to try something like it, but even better. This Gorilla Bread is like a kicked-up version of monkey bread. Way more fattening. Way more filling. Way more tasty.

The bread was selected for this week's installment of the group My Girl, Paula. I'm happy... and slightly embarrassed... but mainly happy... to say that when we were asked for suggestions of what we should choose from Paula's book to make this month, it was ME who suggested this one. The most buttery, sugary, cream cheese-ey, heart attack inducing selection. Yep, that was me.

This Gorilla Bread was really outstanding. It totally puts monkey bread to shame. It's made very similarly, with the store-bought cans of rolls smothered in seasonings and baked up in a bundt pan. But with this one, you insert a square of cream cheese in the center of each roll before putting it into the pan to bake. And you pour a brown sugar/butter mixture over top of it. The recipe also calls for nuts, which I omitted, though they sure would have been pretty on top.

Here's a picture of it still in the pan, waiting to be taken out and completely devoured.

The bread is perfect for breakfast or dessert and is easily reheated the next day to enjoy leftovers. My hubby really liked it with his coffee in the mornings. And I liked it at pretty much any time of the day. Very delicious!

Gorilla Bread
(from Paula Deen)

1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese
2 (12-ounce) cans refrigerated biscuits (10 count)
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped walnuts

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Spray a bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray. Mix the granulated sugar and cinnamon. In a saucepan, melt the butter and brown sugar over low heat, stirring well; set aside.

3. Cut the cream cheese into 20 equal cubes. Press the biscuits out with your fingers and sprinkle each with 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon sugar. Place a cube of cream cheese in the center of each biscuit, wrapping and sealing the dough around the cream cheese.

4. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of the nuts into the bottom of the bundt pan. Place half of the prepared biscuits in the pan. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, pour half of the melted butter mixture over the biscuits, and sprinkle on 1/2 cup of nuts. Layer the remaining biscuits on top, sprinkle with the remaining cinnamon sugar, pour the remaining butter mixture over the biscuits, and sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup of nuts.

5. Bake for 30 minutes (Mine needed a tad bit longer to cook all the way through). Remove from the oven and cool for 5 minutes. Place a plate on top and invert.

Makes 12 to 14 servings.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Creole Meatloaves and Mashed Sweet Potatoes

This is an incredibly comforting and hearty meal. For whatever reason my hubby is a big fan of meatloaf. I think it's a guy thing because I've always just thought it was "okay." It doesn't do a whole lot for me. But since I'm such a nice wife (at least I think so), I try to make meatloaf for the hubby every now and then. I came across a Rachael Ray recipe for Creole Meatloaves with Trinity Gravy and thought it sounded like a fun twist on basic ol' meatloaf. So I gave it a shot. And we loved it!

The mashed sweet potatoes are a perfect compliment to the meal. The addition of buttermilk makes them so rich and creamy. And the Trinity Gravy tastes great poured over top of both. They're both rather easy recipes to make. I'm always a little intimidated by making gravy, but this one's a ton easier than your typical turkey gravy. And if you're not into the whole gravy thing, it would all taste fine and be even easier without it all!

Creole Meatloaves with Trinity Gravy
(from Rachael Ray)

2 pounds ground pork
2 medium onions, 1/2 of one grated, the rest finely chopped, divided
3 to 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon paprika
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
Salt and black pepper
1/4 cup grainy mustard
1 egg
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
EVOO - Extra Virgin Olive Oil, for drizzling
2 tablespoons butter
2 celery ribs, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
2 to 3 tablespoons hot sauce, depending on how much spice you like
4 to 5 scallions, sliced on bias, for garnish

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground pork, grated onion, garlic, paprika, thyme, salt, pepper, grainy mustard, egg and breadcrumbs. Divide the pork mixture into 4 equal portions and shape into 4 loaves, each about an inch thick. Drizzle them with EVOO, place them onto a baking sheet and bake 35 minutes.

3. While the meatloaves are cooking, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the remaining chopped onion, celery, bell pepper and cook until nice and soft.

4. Add the tomato paste and cook until golden brown and fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the flour and cook for 2-3 minutes, until it starts to smell nutty. Whisk in the stock and hot sauce, and cook until thickened. Adjust seasonings to taste. Serve the meatloaves topped with the Trinity Gravy and garnished with the scallions.

Makes 4-6 servings.

Mashed Sweet Potatoes
(from Rachael Ray)

2 1/2 to 3 pounds sweet potatoes
1 cup buttermilk
Salt and ground black pepper

1. Wash and peel the sweet potatoes, then cut them into 1 1/2 to 2-inch chunks. Place them into a large pot and cover them with cold water (they should be covered by 4 or so inches of water so they cook evenly). Place the pot on the stove, add some salt and turn the heat on high to bring to a boil.

2. Once boiling, cook about 8 minutes, until they are tender but not falling apart. Drain thoroughly, then pop them back into the pot and place them over medium heat to dry them out a bit. Add the buttermilk, pepper and some salt to taste.

Makes 4-6 servings.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Taco Soup

I made this Taco Soup as part of the group My Girl, Paula. Each week we cook from Paula Deen's cookbook The Lady and Sons, Too. It's been a really fun group so far. I'd had the cookbook sitting around for a while and really wanted to try cooking more from it. Mission accomplished! And I bet you would never guess that out of the five weeks I've been cooking along with the group, there's only been one recipe that's used butter! Seeing as how everyone thinks Paula cooks with butter so much, I was pleasantly surprised to keep the butter in the fridge 4 out of the 5 weeks so far.

This Taco Soup was really delicious. The ingredients include ground beef, beans, tomatoes, corn, green chilies and taco seasoning. It's all combined into a slow cooker and left to cook all day. I love slow cooker recipes - so easy and convenient. This soup sort of reminded me of chili. I served it with tortilla chips, cheddar cheese and sour cream and that made it sooo delish.

The recipe makes a ton, but since I wasn't feeding an army, I cut it in half and we STILL had leftovers. This is a recipe that we all liked and I'll definitely be making again!

Taco Soup
(from Paula Deen)

2 pounds ground beef
2 cups diced onions
2 (15 1/2-ounce) cans pinto beans
1 (15 1/2-ounce) can pink kidney beans
1 (15 1/4-ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can Mexican-style stewed tomatoes
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can tomatoes with chiles
2 (4 1/2-ounce) cans diced green chiles
1 (4.6-ounce) can black olives, drained and sliced, optional
1/2 cup green olives, sliced, optional
1 (1 1/4-ounce) package taco seasoning mix
1 (1-ounce) package ranch salad dressing mix
Corn chips, for serving
Sour cream, for garnish
Grated cheese, for garnish
Chopped green onions, for garnish
Pickled jalapenos, for garnish

1. Brown the ground beef and onions in a large skillet; drain the excess fat, then transfer the browned beef and onions to a large slow cooker or a stockpot.

2. Add the beans, corn, tomatoes, green chiles, black olives, green olives, taco seasoning, and ranch dressing mix, and cook in a slow cooker on low for 6 to 8 hours or simmer over low heat for about 1 hour in a pot on the stove.

3. To serve, place a few corn chips in each bowl and ladle soup over them. Top with sour cream, cheese, green onions and jalapenos.

Makes 12 to 16 servings.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

TWD: Tribute To Katherine Hepburn Brownies

I've heard so much about and seen numerous versions of these brownies, so I was quite eager to try the famous Katherine Hepburn brownies for myself. They were chosen for this week's Tuesdays with Dorie by Lisa of Surviving Oz.

Dorie's version of the Katherine Hepburn brownies are a gooey chocolate-y masterpiece. I LOVED these brownies! They include coffee, and I was a little surprised at how pronounced the coffee flavor was. I'm not a coffee drinker, but it tasted delicious. And cinnamon, that was a little different, but added a great flavor. I think my favorite part was the gooey, fudginess of these brownies. Oh, and they were really easy to make. We finished off the pan in about 24 hours and then wished we had more.

Go get the recipe from Lisa. You won't be sorry!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Fruit Bowl

I thought a nice refreshing fruit salad would be a perfect complement to our Fourth of July BBQ. So I was delighted that the Fruit Bowl was selected for this week's installment of the group My Girl, Paula.

I was surprised to see Tang listed as one of the ingredients in this fruit salad. I haven't had Tang in yeeeeeaarrrs! And frankly, wasn't really sure if I liked it or not. I guess I'd find out. It was so super easy to throw this together and I had very little clean-up - a big (no, HUGE) plus for me.

But the verdict? It was way too Tang-y and I guess I don't like Tang after all. It really wasn't bad, I've had several spoonfuls of it just because I don't want it to go to waste. And my husband did seem to enjoy it. I guess if you like the taste of Tang then this is the fruit salad for you. If not, you might want to cut down on the amount of Tang or try a different ingredient for your sauce altogether. I know Paula has a fruit salad recipe that uses a honey poppy seed dressing... maybe I'll try that one next time.

Fruit Bowl
(by Paula Deen)

3 Tbsp. orange Tang Breakfast Drink mix
15.5-oz. can pineapple chunks, drained, juice reserved
3.4-oz. box instant lemon pudding mix
16-oz. can chunky mixed fruit, drained
11-oz. can mandarin oranges, drained
6-oz. jar maraschino cherries
3 large bananas

1. Stir the Tang into the pineapple juice. Add the lemon pudding mix and stir well. Combine the pineapple, mixed fruit, oranges, and cherries, then mix the fruit and pudding mixtures together; toss well. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Just before serving, slice and add the bananas.

Makes 12-15 servings.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Seven-Layer Chinese Chicken Salad

Usually I'm not a big fan of making salads. In fact, I have very rarely ever made anything besides the typical tossed salad. I think it's because I know my hubby and my son won't eat just salad for dinner. But this one just called to me and I knew it would make a fantastic main dish. The chicken, the fresh ingredients like lettuce, tomato, green onions, and, of course, the crunch. The crunch! Crushed ramen noodles and peanuts. This is a really awesome salad and so flavorful. I believe I've been convinced to make more main dish salad meals.

Even my son ate the corn, the peanuts, and the lettuce. He usually turns his nose up at everything I make, so I was impressed. We'll have to work on the tomatoes, the chicken, and everything else in it, but it's progress. And the dressing was fantastic. I was a little skeptical, as it's an odd black pepper-specked color. But I was more than pleasantly surprised. It's sweet and flavorful and a perfect complement to the salad ingredients.

So give this a try, it's very family friendly and would be great for company. It makes a huge salad and we were eating it for days. We never got tired of it though - delicious!

Seven-Layer Chinese Chicken Salad
(adapted from Betty Crocker)

5 cups shredded romaine lettuce
1 package (3 oz) Oriental-flavor ramen noodle soup mix
2 cups finely chopped cooked chicken
1 can (11 oz) yellow corn, drained
1 large tomato, finely chopped
2 green onions, finely chopped (about 2 Tbsp.)
1/2 cup coarsely chopped unsalted dry-roasted peanuts
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
3/4 teaspoon grated gingerroot or 1/4 tsp. dried ginger
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 tablespoons white vinegar

1. In the bottom of large clear glass serving bowl, arrange lettuce. Discard seasoning packet from soup mix; coarsely crush noodles. Layer noodles and remaining salad ingredients, in order listed, over lettuce.

2. In small jar with tight-fitting lid, shake dressing ingredients until well blended. Pour over salad. Serve immediately.