Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Sausage & Vegetable Stew

I recently received my first issue of the Food Network Magazine in the mail, courtesy of Joelen of Joelen's Culinary Adventures and one of her blog giveaways. I must say this magazine is fabulous and there are so many recipes in it that I want to try, as well as many helpful and informative articles.

One of the first recipes that really caught my eye was the one for Sausage & Vegetable Stew, it seems like such a fun twist on stew but also just a great comfort food for cold winter weather. I was really happy with the results of this recipe and this recipe also introduced me to parsnips for the first time ever! Gotta love trying something new!

I pretty much followed this recipe to the T, except I used regular potatoes instead of red, and turkey kielbasa to help with the healthiness factor. Overall a great recipe that I cannot wait to make again!

(Sorry, another recipe with no picture - I am really dropping the ball these days!)

Sausage & Vegetable Stew

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large red onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, smashed
1 tablespoon paprika, plus more for garnish
Kosher salt
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
6 ounces kielbasa, cut into small chunks
3 medium carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
2 parsnips, peeled and cut into large chunks
14 ounces small red-skinned or new potatoes (6 to 8), quartered
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
Freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup fresh parsley, roughly chopped
3/4 cup sour cream
Crusty bread, for serving

Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven or heavy pot over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and glistening, about 6 minutes. Add the paprika and 1 teaspoon salt; cook until the oil >> turns deep red, about 1 minute. Add the flour and cook until just toasted, 30 more seconds. Immediately whisk in 4 cups water. Add the kielbasa, carrots, parsnips, potatoes and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt.

Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce to a simmer; cover and cook until the vegetables are tender and the broth has thickened, about 20 minutes. Add the vinegar and season with pepper.

Combine about half of the parsley with the sour cream in a small bowl and season with salt and pepper. Ladle the stew into bowls; top with the remaining parsley, a dollop of herbed sour cream and a sprinkle of paprika. Serve with bread.

Who doesn't love a turkey brine?

I have to confess, I've never made a turkey of any sort, but have always wanted to. When turkey breasts were on sale this week at the supermarket I figured I should give it a whirl and I figured I could also try it in my crockpot (I got the smallest one they had at my market and it just about fit).

I wanted to brine the turkey first, if there's one thing I know, it's that a turkey brine sure does make turkey that much more delicious! So I found this recipe on my favorite site of all - It was simple, easy, and the best part - I had all of the ingredients already in the house!

I also have to say it was a success making this turkey in my crockpot, I put it on for about 9 hours and it came out delicious!

Honey & Thyme Brined Turkey

7 cups water, divided
3 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper, divided
6 thyme sprigs
1/2 cup kosher salt (such as Diamond Crystal)
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 cups ice cubes
1 (6-pound) whole bone-in turkey breast, skinned
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
Cooking spray
Fresh thyme sprigs (optional)

Combine 1 cup of water, 2 tablespoons pepper, and thyme sprigs in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, and remove from heat. Pour into a large bowl; cool to room temperature. Add remaining 6 cups water, salt, honey, and sugar, stirring until salt and sugar dissolve. Pour salt mixture into a 2-gallon zip-top plastic bag. Add ice and turkey; seal. Refrigerate 24 hours, turning the bag occasionally. Remove turkey from bag, and discard brine. Pat turkey dry with paper towels.

Rub turkey with oil. Combine 1 tablespoon pepper and chopped thyme; rub over turkey.

Preheat oven to 400°.

Place the turkey on a roasting pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 400° for 1 hour or until thermometer inserted into thickest portion of the breast registers 180°. Place turkey on a platter. Cover with foil; let stand 15 minutes. Garnish with thyme sprigs, if desired.

Bread - the great New England staple

Ever since I got my "Barefoot Contess at Home" cookbook, I have wante to try the Honey White Bread recipe in there. Since overcoming my fear of making bread and using that once-scary thing called yeast, I have bee wanting to make breads more often but always have found some kind of excuse not to.

A couple of weekends ago, I finally decided to dedicate the time to make Ina's recipe - I figured I really should know how to make a basic bread such as this one, especially living in New England - maybe I can avoid running out to the market everytime snow is predicted to get my bread and milk (I kid, I kid).

My end result was a tad dry but I think I know exactly what happened. In the end, where Ina specifically says do not add too much flour....I did. All in all the bread was still very tasty and we used it for sandwiches and toast all week and at least I know what I did wrong so that next time mine comes out as perfect looking as hers does in her cookbook!

Honey White Bread
(from Barefoot Contessa at Home)

1/2 cup warm water (110 degrees)
2 packages dry yeast
1 tsp sugar
1 1/2 cups warm whole milk (110 degrees)
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 1/2 Tbsp honey
2 extra-large egg yolks
5-6 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp kosher salt
1 egg white, lightly beaten

Place warm water in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment. Add yeast and sugar; stir and allow them to dissolve for 5 minutes.

Add the milk, butter, and honey. Mix on medium speed until blended. Add the egg yolks, 3 cups of flour and the salt. Mix on low speed for about 5 minutes. With the mixer still on low speed, add 2 more cups of flour. Raise the speed to medium and slowly add just enough of the remaining flour so the dough doesn’t stick to the bowl. Knead on medium speed for about 8 minutes, adding flour as necessary.

Dump dough onto a floured surface and knead by hand for a minute, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Grease a bowl with butter, put the dough in the bowl, then turn it over so the top is lightly buttered. Cover the bowl with a damp towel and allow to rise for 1 hour, until doubled in volume.

Grease two 9×5 inch loaf pans with butter. Divide the dough in half, roll each half into a loaf shape and place each in a prepared pan. Cover again with the damp towel and allow to rise again for an hour, until doubled in volume.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees. When the dough is ready, brush the tops with egg white and bake for 40-45 minutes, until they sound hollow when tapped. Turn them out of the pans and cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.

More cookies!

If you read this blog, you know that a cookie recipe is never far away....and more leftover chocolate chips from Christmas equals more cookies. This time I had chips to use of the mini variety!

I found this quick & easy recipe on Nestle's website, I had everything in the house, includding pudding mix so I was able to whip these up pretty quickly. Sorry for the lack of a picture!

Pudding Chip Cookies

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 pkg. (4 serving size) instant vanilla, butterscotch or chocolate pudding mix
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 large egg
1 large egg white
2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Semi-Sweet Chocolate Mini Morsels

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Combine flour and pudding mix in small bowl. Beat butter in large mixing bowl on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Beat in brown sugar and baking soda until well combined. Beat in egg and egg white. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels. Drop dough by rounded teaspoon 2 inches apart onto ungreased baking sheets.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until set. Cool on baking sheets 2 to 3 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Easy Chicken Cordon Bleu

Sometimes you want an easy recipe that just looks a little on the fancier side for guests - this recipe fits that bill!

We recently had my parents and my husband's parents over for dinner to celebrate some birthdays. I got the idea for chicken cordon bleu but wanted an easy version of it due to the lack of time, and I found this one.
Instead of crushed croutons I just used seasoned bread crumbs which I already had in the house (saved me a trip to the market!) but I think it would be great with crushed croutons as well! I also used Provolone cheese instead of Swiss. That was a selfish decision on my part, I can't stand Swiss cheese but love Provolone. Either way this was a big hit and I'll definitely be making it again!

Easy Chicken Cordon Bleu

Makes 6 servings

1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
6 skinned and boned chicken breast halves
1 (5.5-ounce) box seasoned croutons, crushed
1/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
2 egg whites
2 tablespoons water
12 thinly sliced smoked ham slices
6 Swiss cheese slices
Honey mustard dressing (optional)
Sprinkle salt and pepper evenly over chicken; set aside.

Combine seasoned crouton crumbs and Parmesan cheese in a large zip-top plastic bag. Whisk together egg whites and 2 tablespoons water in a shallow bowl.

Dip chicken in egg white mixture, and drain. Place 1 breast half in bag; seal and shake to coat. Remove to a lightly greased aluminum foil-lined baking sheet, and repeat with remaining chicken.

Bake at 450° for 20 minutes or until chicken is done. Top each breast half with 2 ham slices and 1 Swiss cheese slice. Bake 5 more minutes or until cheese melts. Serve with honey mustard dressing, if desired.

Sinfully delicious

That is how I would describe this pie.

I did not really do as much baking as I intended this Christmas, that coupled with the fact that I sometimes have trouble resisting a good sale, meant that I've had a lot of extra chocolate chips in the house. I did not want to bake cookies, I wanted to bake something similar, but different.

Off to the Very Best Baking website (powered by Nestle) where I found the below recipe, which is one my mom used to make often. By chance I also had a leftover frozen pie crust, that has gone unused, so it was perfect all around.

This is so delicious, it's sinful, and it should be with 1 1/2 sticks of butter in the recipe! But... sometimes one just has to live it up a little!

NESTLE Toll House Chocolate Chip Pie

1 unbaked 9-inch (4-cup volume) deep-dish pie shell *
2 large eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup (6 oz.) NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels
1 cup chopped nuts
Sweetened whipped cream or ice cream (optional)

Preheat oven to 325° F.

Beat eggs in large mixer bowl on high speed until foamy. Beat in flour, granulated sugar and brown sugar. Beat in butter. Stir in morsels and nuts. Spoon into pie shell.

Bake for 55 to 60 minutes or until knife inserted halfway between edge and center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack. Serve warm with whipped cream, if desired.