Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Naan {Indian Flat Bread}

Mmmm, flatbread! I love all bread products and a good flatbread is no exception. Naan is a traditional Indian flatbread and goes great with curries. It's soft, moist, chewy and tastes terrific with some garlic butter or just plain butter brushed on top while it's warm. It almost ends up being the highlight of the meal. As far as yeast breads go, if you don't feel comfortable in that realm, this is a great place to start or try again. It's no fail and delicious.

Naan {Indian Flatbread}
{slightly adapted recipe from Mels Kitchen Cafe}

3+ cups flour
1 t salt
1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups milk
1 t sugar
melted butter mixed with pressed garlic for brushing warm breads

Microwave milk until very warm, not boiling, but more than just warm. Stir in sugar and yeast, let sit for 4-5 minutes until foamy. Pour yeast mixture into mixer bowl and add 2 cups flour and salt. Mix for 2 minutes. Switch to dough hook and add remaining cup + flour a little at a time. Once dough comes together and pulls away from sides of bowl, but is still the tiniest bit tacky and very soft it's ready. Let knead in mixer for 5 minutes. Spray a separate bowl with cooking spray or drizzle with a little oil and add dough ball to bowl. Be sure all sides of dough are covered with oil. Place plastic wrap over bowl and let rise for 2 hours. The dough will not puff up as much as other yeast doughs, due to the small amount of yeast. But is should be noticeably larger.

Turn out onto greased surface and divide dough into 12 equal pieces, shape into balls. Let dough pieces rest for 30 minutes covered with plastic wrap. During 30 minutes place pizza stone or cookie sheet in oven and turn onto 450 degrees. After 30 minutes are up, roll each dough ball into a 6 inch round with a rolling pin. Keep covered once they're rolled out to prevent drying. One by one, place 3-4 rounds on the hot pizza stone or cookie sheet and bake for 2-3 minutes per side. Peek under bottom and when it's getting brown spots it's time to flip. Once both sides are brown-spotted, remove from oven and brush with melted garlic butter or plain butter. Stack on top of each other, cover with a dish towl, and continue to cook remaining dough rounds.

Serve warm and use for scooping up rice and curry. Coconut Curry Chicken is a great option!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Chicken Coconut Curry {Crock Pot}

Do you love curry? Do you love your crock pot? Do you love curry in a crockpot? I do! This is a super easy curry recipe that takes practically no time to make (aside from the actual cooking time, of course). We have no indian food restaurants where I live and that's just sad. So this is what I've found to a get a little indian curry fix. The basmati rice you see, is cooked with turmeric to get that great yellow color and some peas were thrown in too. Notes on that cooking process at the end of the curry recipe. We serve this with homemade naan, which is delicious indian flat bread, and I'll share that recipe later this week (I'm headed out of town to a lovely land with lots of great restaurants and have about this many-ZERO-meals planned. Cooking is great, but breaks are even better!) In conclusion, this meal=SO GOOD!

Chicken Coconut Curry {Crock Pot}
(From a recipe off tastykitchen.com)

2 large chicken breasts, chunked
1 whole onion, peeled chunked
1 whole small green bell pepper, chunked
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 can (6 oz.) tomato paste
1 can (14 oz.) coconut milk
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 T curry powder
1 T garam masala (indian spice mix)
2 T water
1 1/2 T cornstarch
Cilantro for garnish
hot cooked basmati rice for serving

Place chicken cubes in slow cooker. Place remaining ingredients--minus water, cornstarch, and cilantro--in food processor and blend until mostly smooth. Pour sauce over chicken. Cook covered on low for 6 hours. About an hour before serving, check consistency and if you want it thicker mix water and cornstarch in small bowl and stir into crock pot. Serve garnished with cilantro and over basmati rice.

Optional Basmati Rice recipe:

2 cups basmati rice
4 cups water
4 T butter
1 T turmeric
frozen peas, optional

Bring water, butter, and turmeric to a boil over high heat. Stir in basmati rice and put on lid. Turn heat off and let sit, untouched for 20 minutes. Remove lid after 20 minutes and stir with fork. Add frozen peas if desired and replace lid for a bit while peas defrost and warm. Stir again and serve.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Teriyaki Bow Tie Pasta Salad

The first time I tasted this pasta salad I thought I'd died and gone to heaven. I was at a wedding shower and kept going back for more and more and more, and then of course I tracked down the person who'd made the food and told them I couldn't live without the recipe. They obliged.
And now I'm here to spread the love to you today.

It's not your typical pasta salad. There's spinach for one, teriyaki sauce for another, and all kinds of other untypical and super tasty treats mixed in. If you want to make this a meal, you can add chopped cooked chicken that you've either marinated in teriyaki sauce and/or grilled. It would be awesome. I, however, opt to serve it as a side. With the summer pot luck/bbq season upon us, make this and take it to your next event you may very well have someone track you down for the recipe just like I did!

Teriyaki Bow Tie Pasta Salad
{From my friend Magaret Neilson. Just FYI this makes a HUGE salad. Way more than our family could ever hope to consume, so unless you're taking it to a potluck or having a people over you might do well to halve the recipe}

16 oz. bowtie pasta, cooked al dente

3/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
2/3 cup red or white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2/3 cup bottled Teriyaki sauce
6 T sugar
1/4 tsp pepper
(I usually end up adding a bit more sugar or a couple Tablespoons of honey-I like it sweeter)

1 10 oz bag spinach leaves
3 11oz. cans mandarin oranges, drained
1/2 cup parsley, chopped (I never use this)
1 bunch of green onions, chopped
1/2 cup+ salted or honey roasted peanuts (choose what you like)
1 6oz. bag craisins
2 8oz cans sliced water chestnuts, drained
1/4 cups sesame seeds, toasted

And if you're opting for it: cooked chicken (about 2 cups)

Blend dressing ingredients together in blender or food processor. Mix dressing and cooked pasta together in medium mixing bowl and marinate in fridge for 2 hours. Combine rest of salad ingredients in a LARGE salad bowl, add marinated pasta, toss and serve.

(Note: even when making the full amount version of this salad I find that I don't always want all of the dressing, set some aside (1/2 cup maybe) before mixing and marinating with the pasta. You can always add more later after everything is mixed together if you think you need it.)

Friday, June 10, 2011

Better than Anything Cake

This cake actually goes by a much more, shall we say, "colorful" name but I thought I'd keep it "G" rated here. Let's just say it's pretty darn good and much better than lots of things, m'kay?!
Chances are you've had this cake or some version of it, particularly if you live in Utah. But on the off chance you've never tasted of it's deliciousness, you can thank me later.

It consists of a devil's food cake, drizzled with sweetened and condensed milk and caramel (groan) and topped with whipped cream and crushed up toffee bars. Dessert bliss I tell you!

Better than Anything Cake

1 Devil's Food cake mix
Ingredients cake mix calls for less 1/3 cup water (I wanted the cake to be a tad more dense and so did 1 cup instead of 1 1/3 cups water and it was just fine, although I can't say it made a huge difference in the end product but whatever)
Optional, chocolate chips added to cake batter, because you know you want too
1 can sweetened and condensed milk
1 small jar caramel ice cream topping
1 regular size container cool-whip
4 skor or heath bars, smashed to smithereens

Make and bake cake mix (in 9x13 baking pan) according to box directions, leaving out 1/3 cup water if desired and adding in chocolate chips to your liking. Remove from oven and while still hot poke several holes close together all over cake with the non-spoon end of a wooden spoon. Heat up caramel topping in microwave for about 20 seconds and one at a time drizzle milk and warmed caramel over cake making sure to get in each and every hole and all over the rest of the cake top. I tend to not use the entire jar of caramel, but do like the entire can of milk. When mostly cooled, cover and place in fridge to chill. Before serving spread thawed cool-whip over entire cake and sprinkle generously with crushed toffee. Serve cool and refrigerate left-overs, that is if there are any!

(Note: This is a very moist cake that sometimes doesn't cooperate well during cutting and dishing up, forgive it based on yumminess. It's the taste not looks that counts in the end right?)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Slow Cooker Ranch Pork Roast

This is the best pork roast I've ever had and the easiest to make. I always do all my roasts (other then tenderloins) in the crock pot. It's totally hands off for Sunday dinners and so long as you cook your meat for a good 7-9 hours, it's a no-fail tender, flavorful, shredded meat main dish. Just pop it in the crock pot on sunday morning and you'll have the most fabulous main dish ready by dinner time, not to mention the wonderful smell in your house.

The ranch dressing mix does something magical to the flavor of the pork in this recipe. I'm betting once you've tried this you'll never go back to whatever way you previously cooked a pork roast. I sure haven't.

Slow Cooker Ranch Pork Roast

4 lbs or so pork roast, boneless
1 package ranch dressing mix
2 cups chicken broth
2 cloves garlic, minced
Garlic or season salt
Black pepper
Few tablespoons vegetable oil for browning

Rinse and dry pork roast. Heat few tablespoons oil in a large skillet on high/med-high heat. Season roast with garlic salt or seasoned salt and fresh ground pepper. When pan is good and hot (oil is rippling) carefully place roast in hot oil. Don't move around yet! Let sear a couple minutes and then carefully turn over. Repeat on each side until entire roast has a nice brown crust. Put roast in appropriately sized crock pot. Sprinkle with ranch mix and minced garlic. Add 2 cups or so chicken broth. Cover with lid and cook for at least 7 hours, I think 8 is perfect. About 30 minutes before serving, remove roast from crock pot to a cutting board and shred into large chunks. Place back in crock pot with all the yummy flavorful juices. To serve remove to a serving platter and pour some juice over all.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Loaded Mashed Potatoes

Who doesn't love mashed potatoes? We're big fans in our house. The problem is I don't always like peeling a million potatoes, boiling them, mashing them, etc. Have I talked you out of making these mashed potatoes yet?! Unfortunately I'm not hear to tell you about some amazing new preparation method that forego's all those steps, wish I were. But I am hear to tell you that the final fancied up version makes all the work worth it. Hope that helps!

These are the kind of potatoes that can stand on their own. No gravy needed. Although gravy is delicious and would taste wonderful. Without it though, they are more than flavorful so I don't miss the gravy. My husband probably does, but he still eats them anyway. They are essentially the filling of a twice-baked potato but without baking the potatoes and without the potato peel shell and 2nd baking. They are a side dish that never disappoints.

Loaded Mashed Potatoes

3-5 lbs yukon gold potatoes, peeled and chunked
1 block cream cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup butter
1/4-1/2 cup half and half or whole milk
1 tsp+ seasoning salt (I always end up adding more)
fresh ground black pepper to taste
optional: minced garlic or garlic powder
4 green onions, chopped
1 cup or more grated cheese (we use cheddar or colby-jack)

Boil potatoes until fork tender in salted water. Drain well and throw back in boiling pot. Put back on stove over med-high heat and mash with potato masher, letting steam escape. Remove from heat and add cream cheese, sour cream and butter. Cover and let meld together for a few minutes. Remove lid and mash/mix. Take stock of consistency and add appropriate amount of half and half or milk. Start with a little at a time and add from there, we don't want soupy potatoes. Add in season salt and pepper and garlic or garlic powder if you're using it. Mix and taste, adding whatever more you think you need. Possibly more sour cream, salt, or half and half. While still hot add in grated cheese and green onions. Mix well, taste and adjust as needed. Serve right away or place in oven proof baking dish cover with foil and stick in fridge for later. To re-heat, heat oven to 400 degrees. Uncover potatoes and slice some cold butter and arrange on top. Pop in the oven for 45 minutes or until warmed through.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Petite Strombolli's

A few years ago my sister-in-law Heather, a great cook in her own right, and brother-in-law came to visit us for a few days. They put some things from their travel cooler in our fridge for safe and cool keeping while we gallivanted around town. After a good time was had by all they left and went back home and lo and behold I opened the refrigerator door and these yummy looking crescent shaped beauties were waving hello! So I did what all good care-takers would do-I ate them. Of course I called Heather and thanked her and coaxed her into sharing the recipe with me.

They are a terrific travel-friendly "sandwich" of sorts. And completely open to being personalized with whatever you might like. We opt for lunch meat, tomatoes, and onions. But any pizza-like, sandwich friendly, and oven-appropriate topping would do. And the best part is, kids love them and so does marinara dipping sauce. Make them for your next picnic lunch, road trip, or just plain dinner.
Heather's Petite Strombolli's

1 recipe of wheat pizza crust dough, see below
sliced deli meat, such as turkey or ham
sliced or grated cheese of choice (I used swiss and provolone because I had it on hand)
olive oil
garlic powder and onion powder if you have it
black pepper
sliced onion, red or yellow briefly sauteed in a olive oil
sliced tomatoes
cornmeal (if you have it)
marinara sauce for dipping

After 1st rise of pizza dough, shape dough into large round. Cut dough like a pie into triangles. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with garlic/onion powder. Top each with meat, cheese, semi-cooked onions, and tomatoes. Sprinkle with black pepper. Roll up from wide end toward point. Sprinkle a cookie sheet with cornmeal if using, and place strombolli's on sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes until golden. Serve warm or room temp with marinara sauce for dipping.

Wheat Crust Pizza Dough

1 packet active, dry yeast (regular or rapid rise)
2+ cups flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 cup really warm water
1 T sugar
1 T olive oil
Black pepper, a few cranks worth

Proof yeast by placing warm water, yeast and 1 T sugar in bowl of mixer. When foamy add 1 cup white flour, 1/4 cup wheat flour, salt, olive and black pepper to yeast mixture and mix for 2 minutes. Add in remaining white flour. When dough pulls together, either knead in mixer for a few minutes or dump onto floured surface and knead my hand adding a bit more flour if needed. You want the dough to be a tad sticky but easily handled. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise 1-2 hours until doubled. Do not punch down. Gently shape into whatever you want. For pizza crust, sprinkle pizza pan with cormeal, and place shaped dough onto pan. For crispy crust, not need to let rise again, top with toppings and bake at 350 for 25-35 minutes until golden brown. For soft crust, let shaped dough rise 1/2 hour and then top and bake at 350 for 25-25 minutes.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Fernie's Veggie Dip

I've always loved a good veggie platter. Absolute must on any party spread in my humble opinion. I'd like to think it's because I'm such a health nut and that I'm dedicated to ensuring I get the proper serving amount of vegetables a person should have in a day. But let's get real...it's all about the DIP for me!

This dip comes from the mother of my childhood friend Carolee. I've a got a treasure trove of glorious recipes from her and won't hesitate to share them on here. They really are some of my best go-to recipes. And this is a good one to be sure! It comes together in a jiffy and we oftentimes don't wait for a party to make it. It graces our weeknight meal table often.

Thanks Carrie (and Fern), hope you don't mind I'm sharing this with the world. (or the 2 people who follow this blog ;0))

Fernie's Veggie Dip

1 cup mayonaise (no miracle whip allowed-although I do fancy miracle whip as my sandwich condiment of choice)
1 cup sour cream
2-3 green onions, chopped
1 1/2 tsp seasoned salt
2 tsp dried dill (or fresh would probably be delightful, haven't tried it though)

Mix and serve with favorite veggies. Keeps well in fridge for a few days.

Glazed Lemon Bars

Putting a glaze on lemon bars? Brilliant! This recipe came up recently on Our Best Bites and given her promise that the weird egginess that oftentimes accompanies this delectible treat is not present in this recipe, I decided they must be tried. I'm delighted to report she was right...no weird egginess here. They are simply shortbread and fresh lemon goodness.

Glazed Lemon Bars
{Recipe Source: Our Best Bites. Although I followed the recipe to a "T", next time I think some lemon zest in both the lemon/egg layer and for sure in the glaze will be the way to go. I also pondered halving the crust recipe as it seems a bit to thick for my liking, but I'm not sure that it would fill the 9x13 sufficiently and perhaps the bar itself wouldn't have the firm foundation it needs if cut down. Something to think about at any rate!}

2 cups flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 sticks butter, softened

4 large eggs, room temperature
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 t baking powder
1/4 cup flour
2 cups sugar
(*optional lemon zest)

1 cup powdered sugar
3 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
(*optional lemon zest)

Preheat oven to 350.

Spray 9X13 pan with cooking spray and set aside. In mixing bowl whisk flour and powdered sugar for crust. Using pastry cutter, cut in butter. (I cheated and used my kitchenaid) Gently press into baking pan. Bake for 15 minutes or until barely showing some color.

For Filling:
During last few minutes of crust baking time, mix eggs, sugar, lemon juice, baking powder, and flour on high until pale yellow and frothy. About 3 minutes. Pour over hot crust and bake for 18-22 minutes until not super jiggly and it's golden on top, but not too brown. Remove from oven and cool completely.

Whisk 1 cup powdered sugar and 3 T lemon juice (and optional zest) together until smooth and thin but not watery. (Add more powdered sugar if it is too watery). Spread over cooled bars and refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving.

Cut into squares and enjoy!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Sweet & Savory Grilled Flank Steak

Please make this despite the shoddy picture...It is so good! I freely admit that I'm not a big steak fan, or a big red meat fan for that matter. BUT, occasionally I do enjoy it and this recipe is a good reason why. Flank steak is perfect for marinating and grilling. It's easy to cook to a more well-done stage, if that's what you like, and not completely ruin it. But if the medium rare route is your thing, it's medium rare on a smaller scale as opposed to some nasty chunk of raw meat! (Can you tell I have undercooked meat issues?!)

Flank steak is also generally cut into thin pieces, which is far better for me than a huge thick slab of beef on my plate. The marinade is one of the best I've had, sweet from the pineapple juice and brown sugar and savory thanks to the soy sauce and garlic. And, if you've yet to discover the joy of fresh ginger--use this recipe to get acquainted. Fresh ginger is amazing!

Nothing says summer like grilled meats and this one is right up there at the top of my list...

Sweet & Savory Grilled Flank Steak

1 2-lb or so flank steak
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 (6 oz) can pineapple juice
1 T freshly grated ginger
4-5 cloves garlic, finely minced

Combine the brown sugar on down for the marinade. Whisk until combined. Remove 1/4 cup and set aside.

Score the flank steak diagonally both ways and on both sides. Use the tip of sharp knife to do it and only cut about 1/8 inch deep. We're not trying to cut it into a million pieces here! This will help to tenderize the meat, it's a necessary step.

Place scored steak into a large ziploc and pour in marinade. Remember to leave the 1/4 cup out. Refrigerate 8 hours or overnight. (I've done 6 hours with great success). About 30 minutes before grilling, remove steak from fridge. Heat grill to a fairly high heat. Place steak on grill and cook about 5-10 per side, depending on desired doneness. During the last few minutes of grilling brush steak with the reserved 1/4 cup of marinade. (I also brush it again once it's cut and just before serving with more marinade)

Let cooked steak rest at least 5 minutes before cutting. Cut against the grain and on a bias (slightly diagonal) into a thin slices and serve.

Serves 4 adults, maybe more...maybe. !

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Citrus Almond Green Beans

There is just nothing to compare with fresh green beans! And there are a million ways to prepare them, each one yummy in it's own way. This is one simple way to dress them up even though they don't need much. The almonds add a nice crunch and the lemon freshens things up, perfect for summer.

Citrus Almond Green Beans
{If fresh green beans seem a bit pricey, try using the fresh, frozen variety. When using fresh, I like to spend a little extra for the french style, aka haricots verts. They're thinner and more tender because of it}

1 lb+ fresh green beans, ends trimmed and snapped in half if necessary (not necessary with french style)
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
Half a lemon
3/4 cup chicken broth
Kosher salt

In a medium size sauce pan place butter and almonds. Turn heat to medium and allow butter to melt and almonds to turn golden. Add green beans and chicken broth and place lid on pot. Steam for 7-9 minutes, until beans are tender but not mushy. Remove from heat and stir in kosher salt and pepper to taste. Squeeze half lemon in and some lemon zest, if desired. Serve immediately.

Serves 4-6 depending on how much you like green beans!