Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Buffalo Chicken Bites

Broccoli redeems anything


Ingredients:

Wet
2 cloves minced garlic
1/2 cup melted butter (1 stick)
Buffalo style hot sauce (I use Tabasco or Frank's) to taste (I used about a tablespoon)

Dry
1 cup seasoned panko bread crumbs (then season them some more)
1/3 cup grated Romano cheese
1 tbsp oregano, basil, and/or parsley (I use a tsp of each or whatever I have on hand)
1 tbsp paprika
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper (to taste)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

1.5 - 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breast cut into bite sized (~1") pieces

Heat oven to 450 degrees.

Mix the wet ingredients in a bowl. Mix the dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Cut the chicken up last (unless you feel like washing your hands halfway through in order to get the other ingredients out, d'oh).

Dip the chicken in the butter mixture to coat. If the butter starts to solidify (mine did), nuke it for a few seconds to remelt. I just put all the chicken in the butter mixture for a minute because I got interrupted. After a few minutes the butter had solidified around the cold chicken. I nuked the whole bowl for about 15 seconds a couple times to remelt as I went along. It still worked. Maybe better?

Anyway, after dipping the chicken bites in butter, dip them in bread crumbs until completely coated. Use one hand for wet dipping and the other for dry dipping in order to avoid breaded fingers.

Place the double dipped chicken bites on a cookie sheet (or two). You can crowd them in pretty well, it's not like they spread, but don't let them touch or they might not cook all the way. Brush or drizzle the remaining butter mixture over the chicken, garlic and all. Bake until browned and crispy, 10 - 15 minutes. Beware of your smoke detector going off from burning crumbs on the pan like mine did. Check a couple bigger pieces of chicken, by cutting them in half, to make sure they are not at all pink inside. Drizzle with more buffalo sauce if desired. I eat them with vegetables, to make up for all the butter.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Apple Pastries

These wonderful treats are the result of my efforts to replicate toaster pastries, which are a great vice of mine. I finally nailed them.


Ingredients:

Crust
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup cold butter, cut into 1/2" pieces (2 sticks)
1/2 cup yogurt or sour cream

Filling
2 - 3 cups cooled Apple Pie Filling


Whisk together flour and salt. Use a pastry cutter or food processor to cut the butter into the flour until it is evenly crumbly (the crumbs should be the size of small peas). Stir in the yogurt and then knead just until all the dough is moistened and sticks together. You can add a tsp or two of water if the dough is not sticking together after a couple minutes.Chill the dough in the fridge for an hour or overnight. This is important. It won't be flaky unless the butter starts out really cold.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Once chilled, take the dough out and divide it into two pieces. On a well floured surface, roll out the first piece of dough into a large square. Roll as thin as you can get away with. Dusting more flour on the surface and rolling pin throughout the rolling process helps mitigate sticking. Picking the dough up, flipping and rotating it every couple rolls helps too. Once rolled out, cut the dough into roughly equal sized squares (see pic below). Don't worry about the rough edges, they will be taken care of later.


Place half of the dough squares on a cookie sheet (see pic below). Spoon the pie filling (to taste, start with a spoonful or two) into the center of each square. Top with a square of roughly the same size. Pinch the edges shut on all sides, tucking any rough edges in (using a fork to crimp helps). Pierce the top 3x with a fork to let steam escape (so they won't be as likely to leak). At this point they can be frozen unbaked and popped in the oven on a moment's notice. Just make sure to wrap them up airtight and separated with wax paper so they don't stick to each other. Repeat with the second half of the dough.


Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes or until golden brown. They are best fresh, but can be reheated later with some success. Makes about a dozen 3-4" pastries.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Caraway Cauliflower Soup

This is a spicy soup, reminiscent of rye bread. I would have a picture, but I usually serve it in canning jars that I take to work. They aren't photogenic.


Ingredients:

1 head of cauliflower, chopped into florets
Enough water in a large pot to cover all the florets
Salt for the water (to taste, start with a tsp or two)
6 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1 tbsp caraway seeds
1 tsp ground peppercorns
1 tsp rosemary leaves
1/2 tsp hot pepper flakes (optional, and to taste)


Bring to a boil over high heat, then turn it down to medium-low and simmer until the cauliflower is fork tender. Drain off most of the water into a dish, reserving at least 2 cups of it.

Puree cauliflower until creamy and smooth, adding the reserved water back as you blend to get the desired consistency. I use a stick blender right in the pot to do this. With a regular blender, make sure to open the vent in the lid and cover it with a dishcloth to prevent the steam from building up and exploding hot soup all over. Don't ask me how I know this.

Serve with more black pepper and a little olive oil drizzled into the soup.

Alternatively, you can skip the puree part and just serve the drained cauliflower florets with butter and pepper.

Sometimes I cook rice in the rest of the reserved broth.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Cheatastic Apple Pie Filling

I picked too many apples and don't feel like peeling them all. What to do?


Ingredients:

Initial

6 Apples, quartered and cored (a variety of types is best)
1/3 cup cider or apple juice
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup brown sugar (to taste, I don't use much since the apples I used are pretty sweet)
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp lemon juice (to taste - balances out the sweetness, use less with tart apples and more with sweet)
a dash or two of salt


Thickening
1/4 cup cold water
2 tbsp corn starch


The trick to not peeling apples is to shred them up pretty fine, skins and all. I do this in a food processor for a few seconds, until I get small bits, but not puree. About the same consistency as a coarse coleslaw.

Combine the initial ingredients in a saucepan. Bring it to a boil over medium heat, then lower to a simmer and cook until the apple bits are softened, about 15 minutes.

In the meantime, stir the thickening ingredients together in a cup until there are no lumps and the texture is smooth.

Pour the thickener into the simmering apples, stirring in thoroughly over the heat for a couple minutes, then take the apples off the heat and let them cool to room temperature before using in pie.

I like to keep this in jars in the fridge for apple pastries, for stirring into plain yogurt or ice cream, for eating on toast...it's versatile stuff. It will keep for at least a couple weeks that way, but you could freeze it in freezer-safe canning jars or ziploc bags for at least a couple months.

Spicy Pumpkin Gingerbread Cookies

These cookies are not too sweet, but spicy and soft like old fashioned molasses cookies.


Ingredients:

Wet
1/2 cup (1 stick) softened butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 egg
1 tsp grated fresh ginger (optional, but awesome - I use a microplane grater for this)
1 tsp vanilla


Dry
2 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp hot pepper flakes or cayenne pepper (optional, I put more...but start small)
1/8 tsp ground black pepper (secret ingredient, don't leave it out)

1/4 cup sugar for coating (I like the texture of raw sugar with larger grains, but regular sugar or cinnamon sugar would be fine)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Beat butter and sugar together until creamy. I use a hand mixer for this. Blend in pumpkin, molasses, grated ginger, vanilla, and egg.

Whisk together dry ingredients. Mix them into wet ingredients until well combined. The dough will be a bit sticky. You can chill the dough until it is firm enough to roll into 1 inch balls or don't, if you don't have time. Sometimes I just flour up my hands and work with it.

Roll the balls in turbinado sugar until lightly coated and place them on a baking sheet an inch or two apart. Press them down gently with your palm into disks. Bake for 10 minutes, or until they get cracks on top. Don't overbake them or they will be dry. These are great with a little peanut butter and coffee.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Chewy Oatmeal Apple Breakfast Bars

Here is a tasty, fast, and healthy breakfast recipe that I make every week to have for busy mornings and hungry afternoons.


Ingredients:

Dry
3 cups oatmeal
2 tbsp flaxseed meal (optional)
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cloves

3 medium apples

Wet
2 tbsp melted butter
1/2 cup cider or apple juice
1/2 cup milk, yogurt or water
2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x13 baking dish.

Stir together dry ingredients in a large bowl.

Quarter, core, and shred the apples. I toss them in my food processor for a few seconds until they are in small shreds, but not pureed. You could also use a grater. Stir the apples into the dry ingredients until they are evenly coated.

Melt the butter in a 2 cup measuring cup or 2 cup bowl, lightly beat in the eggs with a fork, then stir in the rest of the wet ingredients.

Pour the wet into the dry ingredients. Stir them together until evenly mixed. Spread batter into greased baking dish.

Bake for 20 - 25 minutes until the edges are golden brown and the center is set.

Cut into squares. They are best with coffee or tea and will keep for a week if stored in the refrigerator.