Friday, November 26, 2010

Fruit Salad

This is an easy one, and everyone kind of has their own way of doing it.  I made some of this to go with our turkey and thanksgiving fixings, to lighten the sides up a bit.  Super easy, and it was a great way to use up our fruit from our Bountiful Basket, as there was a lot of fruit this time.  Try it out and let me know what you think!

Fruit Salad

3 apples, peeled and cut into chunks
2 pears, cored and diced
2 bananas, sliced
1/2 a honeydew melon, peeled and cut into chunks
2 oranges, peeled and cut into chunks
3 tangerines, peeled and sectioned
sliced honey roasted almonds (in the salad section, in a bag)
1-6 oz container vanilla yogurt

Mix everything together in a large bowl.  Refrigerate an hour before serving, and serve cold.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Recipe Contest Winners!

The winners of the recipe contest have been posted on Half Baked Heritage!!  It was a heck of a project and we thank all of you who participated. Congrats to all of you, Rachel will be contacting you soon so you can claim your prizes!

Also, while you are there, check out the recipes we posted for thanksgiving!  I hope they will be helpful to you!  It's not too late to make your own pie or stuffing!  And check out John's recipe for a DELICIOUS (I have tried it, and its the best turkey I have ever had) roast turkey.

Thanks for following, and Happy Holidays from Recipes to Live By to all of you!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Cranberry Orange Relish

I love good cranberry sauce with my turkey for Thanksgiving.  I bought some cranberries to make an Apple Cranberry Pie, so I figured I would buy some extra so I could try some homemade cranberry sauce.  I looked for a good recipe, just so I could get some inspiration and an idea of where to start.  Here is what I did.

Cranberry Orange Relish

12 oz cranberries
3/4 c sugar
1/3 c water
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 orange, zested and juice

In a medium saucepan, combine cranberries, sugar, water, orange zest and juice, and spices.  Bring up to a boil over medium heat, and then reduce to a simmer.

Cook for another 5 to 7 minutes.  The mixture will thicken as it cooks.  Remove from heat and pour into a bowl, then chill in refrigerator til ready to serve.

Bountiful Baskets, Week 3

This would be a picture of the majority of what I got in my Bountiful Basket this week.  There is other stuff, but it's already in the fridge.  But still, are you convinced it's a good deal yet?  All of this plus more was only $15!  You need to sign up for this!!

So here is the lowdown of what I got:

4 Braeburn apples
5 Concorde pears
6 large tomatoes
a bunch of bananas
about 6 oranges
6 tangerines
some red potatoes
1 honeydew melon
2 bunches of radishes
2 big yellow onions
a head of green leaf lettuce
2 green bell peppers
1 head of celery

I'll be working on the recipes, but most of them will be part of my Thanksgiving spread.  So far I know I will be making these recipes:

Orange Cranberry Sauce
Mashed Potatoes
Apple Pie

I'll keep you posted on the rest!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Chicken Noodle Soup

Remember that roast chicken I made last Thursday?  Well we had half of it leftover still this past weekend. I needed to do something with it, and I found a way to do it when I wasn't feeling so hot on Saturday and Sunday.

Nothing makes me feel better when I have a cold or sore throat than a big pot of chicken noodle soup.  My mom makes really good soup, and I couldn't think of anything else to eat but a bowl of something of that genre.  So here is the recipe I came up with.  While basic and not the most creative or amazing, it did the trick and I think it will for you, too.  Enjoy.

Chicken Noodle Soup

about half a chicken, pulled from the bone and diced (you can roast your own from the recipe here, or you can get a rotisserie chicken, or you can poach a couple of chicken breasts)
4 stalks of celery, chopped
3 carrots, peeled and sliced or chopped
1 onion, chopped finely
3 cans of chicken broth, or 6 cups (you could use stock here too)
2 c water
1/2 a bag of egg noodles

Saute veggies in a bit of olive oil and cook til tender.  Add chicken and then add broth, stir.  Bring to boil and then reduce to a simmer, and cook for 15 minutes.  Add your noodles and cook til tender.   Serve with bread and butter on the side.

Sorry for the delay...

I have admittedly been on hiatus this week.  I apologize for the lack of updates.  I was sick last weekend and at the beginning of this week, and therefore took a break from cooking.  And then I ran out of time and I am working on the recipe contest I mentioned before as well as this blog.  So there will be some delays, and I am sorry.

I hope you haven't given up on me!  I do have some catching up to do, but I promise I will make it up to you all! Thanks for being such faithful readers!

While I am at it, I would love it if you all would join my Facebook page.  I have a gadget from Facebook that will link you to my page so you can "like" it.  I am getting pretty close to 100 followers and it would make my week if I could get some Facebook followers!  And also, I would LOVE it if you shared my blog with your friends!  If you enjoy what you find here and you follow me, it would be great to share the love!  

And one last favor to ask... If you read my blog regularly, will you please click the follow button on the right sidebar of the blog?  I would be ever so grateful.  If you comment here saying you are now following, I would love to return the favor and follow you on your blog if you have one!

Thanks for your loyalty!  It means the world to me!!  Happy Cooking!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Holiday Recipe Contest!

The Handmade Heritage

I am teaming up with my friend at The Handmade Heritage with a new project she is calling Half Baked Heritage.  I am excited for this project because it's a fun new thing to do, and it's something thats close to my heart.  I love holiday recipes!

We're having a recipe contest for the holidays that is centered around Thanksgiving.  Since Thanksgiving is less than 2 weeks away, we are doing this pretty quick!  Check out the rules for the contest and enter your recipe quick so we can share recipes and you can have a chance at winning an AWESOME prize from The Handmade Heritage--the winning recipe gets featured and posted on Half Baked Heritage, and they get a great basket full of handmade candies made by The Handmade Heritage!  (Trust me, you want in on this.....even if you cant eat it yourself, it would make a great gift!  She makes some great stuff!)

Don't have any traditional Thanksgiving recipes?  No worries.  We'll be doing this again for Christmas too!  I'll make sure I post another reminder for you as we get closer to that contest.

In addition to the contest, I will be featuring some of my favorite holiday recipes, and I hope you will follow us in this fun time!  Maybe this will inspire you to start some of your own new holiday traditions!!  Join the fun!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Mashed Potatoes

I know this is a basic recipe, but everyone does these sorta differently and some people don't do their own mashed potatoes, period.  And my thought to that concept is....why?  They're super simple, take half an hour at the most, and they taste SO much better than the store-bought stuff you can get in a box or in the refrigerated section.

Mashed Potatoes

2 potatoes for each person eating, at least.  washed, peeled, and quartered lengthwise
1 tsp salt
1/2 c milk, or 1/4 c cream and 1/4 c milk (half and half)
3 tbsp butter

Place potatoes in a stockpot and cover potatoes with water and salt.  Bring to a boil, and continue to boil til potatoes when you stick a fork in them, it goes through but it doesn't break the potato.  Don't over boil them because if you do you'll get mushy potatoes or potato soup.  Drain your potatoes and return them to the pot.  Add milk or cream, and butter, and salt and pepper, and either mash with a potato masher or whip in a mixer or with a hand mixer.  Serve with your favorite protein and veggie.

Roasted Cauliflower

I found this on Food Network, and it was delicious.  The only think I might change is how much red pepper flake is in it....a bit too spicy for me.  I am always looking for more creative ways to use different veggies, so this was a fun one to try.  I hope you like it like we did.

Roasted Cauliflower

1 head of cauliflower
1/4 c olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp red pepper flake
salt and pepper to taste

Cut cauliflower into florets.  Toss it with all the other ingredients.  Bake at 450 degrees for 20 minutes.  It should be golden brown on the outside.  Serve hot with your favorite protein.

Roast Chicken, Take Two

Okay, I know I posted roast chicken already, about 2 weeks ago, but I made it again tonight and it turned out much better this time.  So I am going to post the better recipe tonight.  I hope you don't mind the redundancy. the other recipe is good too, just this one was better.  And I found a better cooking method too.  So here we go...

Roast Chicken

1 whole chicken (not the little fryers, but the ones in the shrink wrap marked "young chicken")
1/4 c olive oil
1/4 c balsamic vinegar
3 or 4 sprigs of rosemary, leaves stripped from stems
1 tsp garlic powder
3 sprigs fresh thyme, stripped from stems
1 or 2 carrots cut into sticks
1 onion, sliced thin
celery stalks, cut into sticks

A day before you plan to roast the chicken, remove from shrink wrap, remove neck and gizzards, and place in a large gallon sized ziplock bag, and add oil, balsamic vinegar, rosemary, garlic powder and thyme.  Mash the bag together and get the mix to coat the whole chicken.  Place bag on a large plate into the fridge and marinate for 24 hours.  Flip bag over 12 hours into the marinade.

Be aware, this recipe takes about an hour and a half to complete cooking.  Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  When ready to roast, place veggies in the bottom of a 9x13 cake pan.  Drizzle with a bit of olive oil and some salt and pepper.  This will serve as your "roasting rack" and also helps you get good flavors for your drippings to turn into some tasty gravy.  Place the marinated chicken on top of veggies, and pour all of the marinade on top of the chicken.  Place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes, and then drop the temperature to 350 degrees.  Continue to roast an additional hour, and then remove from the oven and let rest 10 minutes.  Carve  and serve.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

My mom has made homemade spaghetti sauce since I was a kid, and it's always amazing.  Every time it is different, but every time it's delicious.  I am posting the basics she usually uses and then a couple of things I added this time.  You'll want to start this early in the morning so it has time to get all of the flavors to meld.  Follow the basic rules and it will come out good no matter what veggies you use.  Be prepared, this recipe makes a giant vat of sauce, so you'll probably end up freezing a lot of it.  But it will be worth it!

Spaghetti Sauce

2 lbs mild Italian sausage
2 large cans tomato sauce (NOT marinara sauce or pre-made spaghetti sauce.  It's just pureed tomatoes.  You'll find it near the tomato paste.)
1 small can tomato paste
1/2 a yellow onion and 1/2 a red onion, or one whole yellow onion, diced
8 oz sliced mushrooms
1 tbsp olive oil
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
oregano, basil, thyme and marjoram
pinch red pepper flakes
1/4 c balsamic vinegar

Optional: diced zucchini, diced eggplant, sliced bell pepper, diced tomatoes (for extra texture)

Brown off your sausage, and crumble.  Place this in a large stock pot over medium low heat, and pour tomato sauce over the sausage.  Put a little olive oil in a skillet and saute your onions and garlic til tender, and then add your mushrooms and cook til tender.  At this point you can add your diced zucchini and eggplant and peppers, and whatever else you want.  Add your tomato paste and stir til everything is coated, and then add this mixture to your tomato sauce and sausage.  Stir all of this together til it smooths out and is combined.  Add your balsamic vinegar and stir again.  Cook for about 4 to 6 hours over low heat, stirring about once every half hour.  You can also do this in your crockpot (that's what I did today), but make sure either way you dont cook it above a simmer.  About half an hour before serving, add your spices and seasonings, and salt and pepper to taste.

Ladle over spaghetti or other noodles, and serve.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Are Brussels Sprouts REALLY good?!

All my life as a kid I HATED brussels sprouts.  My mom liked them so she would make them at least once a year.  And every time, I detested them.   So when I saw them in my basket, I will have to admit the thought "WHAT am I going to do with these?!"  I quickly determined that I would need to find a way to use them and try them again.  I needed to find a recipe that would somewhat mask their flavor, because I was still nervous about them.  But I have to also admit, after eating this, I would actually eat it again.  So for all of you brussels sprouts haters out there, give it a try.  You may find you like them, too.

Bacon and Brussels Sprouts Hash

4 slices bacon, diced
1 tbsp olive oil
fresh thyme, about a sprig
about 10 brussels sprouts, trimmed, bottoms cut off, and quartered.
1 lb red potatoes, cut in halves or quarters, depending on size
1/2 of a big red onion, sliced thin
salt and pepper
3/4 c chicken broth
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 c chopped flat leaf parsley

Cook bacon over medium heat til pieces are crispy and fat is rendered.  Add the olive oil.  Add your brussels sprouts, potatoes, and onion.  Stirring occasionally, cook til potatoes are browned and onions are tender.  Add salt and pepper, thyme, and chicken broth, stir to combine and then cover and steam for about 5 minutes, or until potatoes are fork tender and broth is absorbed.  Stir in balsamic vinegar and cook til reduced and mostly absorbed.  Fold in parsley, and serve warm.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Apple Crisp

This is a fantastic winter/fall treat, and super easy.  I had 4 granny smiths left from my last basket that needed to be used, and I had gotten the fuji apples this week, so I figured it was the perfect time to make some apple crisp.  Great served warm with a bit of ice cream or whipped cream on top.  I hope you like it as much as me!  (this recipe is never really the same every time I make it, but it pretty much turns out well every time.)

Apple Crisp

6-8 small apples, (I like granny smiths, but any should do) peeled and sliced
1 c flour
1 c rolled oats
1 stick of butter
3 tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon, divided
1 tsp nutmeg, divided in half
1 tsp allspice, divided
1/2 c apple juice
whipping cream or ice cream for topping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine apples in a large mixing bowl with half of each spice, a tbsp of flour, and the apple juice.  Place sliced apples in the bottom of a 9x13 baking pan.  Using a fork or pastry blender, combine flour, oats, brown sugar, butter, and other half of spices til crumbly.  Top apples with crumble, and bake for 25 to 30 minutes.  Whip the whipping cream with a tsp of vanilla and some cinnamon sugar.  Serve crisp warm with some whipped cream or ice cream on top.

Bacon and Onion Collard Greens

Alright, so I never thought I would like collard greens because they always look soggy and weird on Food Network whenever I see them.  Not the prettiest food out there.  But I got them in my basket this week and so I needed to try to do something inventive with them.  I looked on Food Networks website, and I found something someone posted on Facebook, and changed it to my liking.  See what you think, you might find you like them, too.  Surprised me, too!

Collard Greens

4 slices bacon, diced
1/2 an onion, diced
1 bunch collard greens, washed and stems removed

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Add collard greens and boil for 10 to 15 minutes.   Drain, and let cool.  In a skillet, heat bacon til fat is rendered and meat is crisp.  Add onions and saute in the bacon fat, and then add your drained greens.  Cook til moisture is absorbed and everything is heated through.  Serve hot with your favorite protein.  We had it with fried chicken and cornbread.

Oven Fried Chicken

I forgot to take a picture of this one, so we will have to wait til the next time I decide to do this again to get the picture posted.  I made this to go with our collard greens tonight, and it was a hit.  Super easy to make, and tasty.  You should try it!

Oven Fried Chicken

3 whole boneless skinless chicken breasts, each cut in half, rinsed and patted dry
1/2 c all purpose flour
1/2 c cornmeal
1 tbsp cajun seasoning
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 c vegetable or canola oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In a 13x9 baking dish, pour your oil--you should have about 1/4 to a half inch in the bottom of the pan.  Heat for about 10 minutes.  Combine flour, cornmeal, and seasonings in a large ziplock bag (just add everything and then seal and shake the bag).  Add chicken and shake til all pieces are well coated.  Using tongs, place the chicken in the oil and bake for about 15 minutes.  Flip the chicken pieces over and bake again for another 15 minutes.  Check to make sure pieces are fully cooked all the way through, and serve hot with your favorite dipping sauce.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Bountiful Basket, Week 2 Menu

Alright, it took me a bit to figure this out, but I think I have it mostly ready to go.  Mostly this week is side dishes, but I will figure out a main dish to go with each veggie side.  Here goes nothing!

Monday: Sauteed Collard Greens with bacon, garlic, and onion.  Probably do fried chicken with that...or maybe ham.

Tuesday: Brussels Sprouts and Potato Hash.  Uses bacon and onion, too.  Not sure what the meat will be. Might be eggs instead of meat.

Wednesday: Homemade Spaghetti Sauce with Italian Sausage--will use the majority of my Italian Pack, if not all.

Thursday: Roasted Chicken with mashed potatoes and green bean casserole (recipe to be determined, but it will not involve cream of mushroom soup!)  Probably some roasted cauliflower too.

Friday: Just desserts... Persimmon Cookies, and maybe another kind of apple tart to use the fujis and leftover granny smiths from last time...maybe poached pears, too.  I think I might get hubby to make sourdough pancakes for dinner...

So that's our plan for the week.  I'll probably use the cherry tomatoes in a salad to go with the spaghetti.  Follow me this week to get the recipes for these creations, and see pictures too!

Happy Cooking!

Bountiful Basket, Week 2

Alright, here we are at Week 2 of our Bountiful Baskets experiment.  One of the many cool things about getting a Bountiful Basket is that you never know what you are going to get, and the only thing you know is that you will have to find some new recipes quick once you find out what's in there!  That is the experience I am having this weekend, and here is what I got:

5 lb sack of russet potatoes
about 8 persimmons
more Bartlett pears
fuji apples
Asian pears
cherry tomatoes
collard greens
green beans
Brussel sprouts

I also ordered the Italian Pack which included:

fresh basil, rosemary, thyme, and flat leaf parsley
1 big red onion
2 big yellow onions

and the 9 grain bread, which was 5 loaves of fresh multi-grain bread with no preservatives and all natural ingredients.

The Italian Pack and the Bread were both add-ons to the standard traditional basket.  So this week didnt add up to only 15, it was closer to 32.  ($7.50 for the Italian Pack, and $10 for the bread.)

So the challenges this week? probably already guessed the persimmons, but also the collards, and the brussels sprouts, and possibly the Asian pears.  The rest should be alright and pretty easy to consume.  I'll be posting my recipes tomorrow, so stay tuned for the adventures!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Chocolate Ganache Cake

Alright, so today is my husband's dad's birthday, and his favorite dessert is chocolate cake.  This man decided one summer that the chocolate ice cream in stores wasn't good enough, and he needed to make a "killer chocolate" ice cream.  So he spent hours in the kitchen scientifically coming up with the perfect recipe for chocolate ice cream.  This man has a true love for chocolate.  So I was commissioned by my mother in law to get a good chocolate cake recipe.  I asked my friend Cindy for a good recipe (she works in a bakery in California) and this is the beauty she sent me. It definitely did the trick! I hope you like it like we did!

Chocolate Ganache Cake

3/4 c softened butter
3/4 c sugar
4 eggs
1 3/4 c self rising/cake flour (important--I used all purpose; it would have been less dense with cake flour)
1 tbsp cocoa powder
2 oz good quality semi-sweet chocolate to melt for decoration (I used Guittard, but mostly you just want something high quality with no oil or anything, just cocoa butter as the only kind of fat)


2 c heavy whipping cream
2 1/3 c semi sweet chocolate chips, again, good quality stuff

Making the ganache (You'll want to do this first so it can chill while you bake the cake) : Place cream into sauce pan and bring to a boil, while stirring the whole time. Add in your chocolate and stir until melted. Just gently move your spatula around scraping the bottom of the pan, don’t “stir” like you’re making a mixed drink. Pour into a bowl, cool, then chill for 2hrs or until it is set and firm. (after cooled and firm) Whip until light and fluffy and set aside a 1/3 of the ganache for later use. The rest of the ganache use to fill cake and cover cake. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and line an 8inch cake pan (spring form if you have one) with parchment paper. Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Gradually add in the eggs beating well after each addition. Sift your flour and cocoa together, and then fold in your cake batter very gently. 

Pour into the prepared pan and smooth out the top. Bake in oven for about 40min, or until its springy to the touch. Let cool for 10min and then turn out to finish cooling on a wire rack. After it’s completely cooled slice the cake into two layers.  (mine was kinda molten in the center still, not sure it was supposed to be, but it was good anyway)

Melt the decorating chocolate and spread it over a large sheet of parchment paper. Let cool until shine is gone and it’s just set. Cut this into strips just a little higher then the height of the cake. Place strips on edge of cake over lapping just a little. Pipe the reserved ganache in teardrops to cover the top of the cake decoratively (start in center of cake and make a single tear drop, then go out about a half an inch out and make a ring of teardrops around that single tear drop and so on until you hit the edge of the cake). Let it chill for one hour and then serve. 

NOTE : I am terrible at decorating cakes, so I am sure you could probably make it prettier.  I was mostly going for the chocolate overload flavor.  I was nervous that there wouldnt be enough chocolate with the cake batter not using very much cocoa, but trust me, it's plenty!!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Dessert Week, Recipe One: Apple and Pear Tart

Remember those apples and pears I got from my Bountiful Basket? Well, as of this morning, I still hadn't really used them.  And I had some puff pastry in the freezer because it was on sale awhile ago and my mother in law bought some.  I thought it would be a perfect time to make a yummy apple tart--fancy dessert in half an hour!  I promise it's easy, and I am pretty sure you will love it.

Apple and Pear Tart

1 pkg frozen puff pastry, thawed
2 granny smith apples, sliced thin
2 bartlett pears, sliced thin
1/4 c butter, melted, or 1/4 c cream
flour, for dusting
1 tbsp flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp apple juice (just to keep things moist. you can use water, but the apple juice has good flavor)

To slice the apples and pears, I just cut the sides off the core, then lay them flat on the cutting board and slice them thin.  This way they lay flat on your puff pastry.

Mix your apples with the cinnamon, tbsp flour, sugar, nutmeg, and apple juice.  Unroll or unfold the dough onto a pastry board and dust lightly with flour.  Roll out til smooth and no creases show (should be about the same thickness).  Place dough on a baking sheet dusted lightly with flour.  Brush the dough with the melted butter or cream, and fold the edges over to create a barrier for the fruit.  Place apples and pears on tart dough, alternating apples and pears, and covering the whole tart.

Each pkg comes with 2 rolls of the dough, so you can make this twice and have enough for a party if you like.

Bake tarts at 400 degrees for 25 minutes.  Drizzle with caramel sauce (I just bought the apple caramel dip stuff at the store, but you can make your own if you want) and then cut into squares and serve (best warm, but just fine cold too).You can also top with whipped cream if you like.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Free Earrings...made by ME!

Check out my cousin Jo's blog for an earring giveaway.  Yes, it's telling you to visit my blog, because I made them.  It's a chance for you to get a FREE pair of earrings.  In order to win you'll need to go to this page and comment on the post, and then go to her Facebook page to "Like" it.

To thank her for throwing me a bone, I would also appreciate it if you followed her blog, too.  We all like to share nice things with each other, so let's pay it forward and be friends!

P.S. If you love the earrings and find out that you didnt win the contest, you can email me and I will let you know how to get other pairs from me too.  I have a load of them left since I decided not to sell them on Etsy anymore. I'd be happy to share with my readers and friends!