Thursday, January 29, 2015

Bread Pudding


There was an oven incident in our apartment recently. I had tried to bake a cake, but it just never seemed to cook all the way through. The top received a dark golden color right away, but it jiggled more than Santa's belly.

The bottom heating element was broken and I was left with a cake that was part mushy and part golden crunchy. This led to an all parts sad situation. I let the cake hang out in the fridge for a few days since throwing it out would be such a sad acknowledgement to defeat.

After the oven was fixed I decided the cake would not go to waste, it would just be a different delicious dessert. 

Bread pudding is my go to recipe for a cake that just didn't turn out quite right. If it is too dry, bread pudding is an easy solution. My cake was overly moist, so I decided to crumble it up and toast it for a few minutes under the broiler. You can use leftover muffins, cupcakes or even bread if you would like to be traditional. Since I used a very sweet pound cake for this recipe, I did not add much sugar to the custard.  If you were to use bread I would add another cup or so of sugar to the egg mixture. 

This bread pudding was so delicious! I am so glad I didn't throw out my sad little cake.

6 cups of cake or bread, crumbled with the crusts cut off
4 eggs
3 cups of milk
1/2 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon of milk


Here is the pitiful cake. The top was very brown and the edges cooked to crunchy cookie perfection. It wouldn't even come out of the pan without force. I dried out the cake a little under the broiler after I got it out of the pan.


Place the cake pieces into a medium sized greased casserole dish. 


In a medium bowl, whisk up the milk, eggs, sugar and vanilla. 


Pour the custard mixture over the cake crumbs. I like to use a bit of a squishing motion to help the cake really soak up the liquid. Bake this in a 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes to an hour or until the top is browned and the inside is set.


While the bread pudding bakes, combine the powdered sugar and milk together to make a glaze. Pour the glaze over the top of the bread pudding once it has cooled for a bit. 

This is really a delicious and warm dessert for winter!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Chicken and Noodles



There are things I have spent years trying to make correctly. Fashion choices, pie crust and homemade egg noodles are among the top on my list. Egg noodles are just one of those things that taste like home. The packaged  kind will do, but there is just something nice about those doughy homemade noodles. 

My grandma would make these amazing egg noodles in a broth based gravy and serve them over mashed potatoes. There was never a recipe, so I have pieced together what people remember and a few trustworthy recipe creators to help me get pretty close to the real thing. 

Jonna at Get Off Your Butt and Bake makes her own egg noodles, too. I used her recipe and my grandmas method to come up with this delicious bowl of goodness. There are a few key steps, but overall it is a pretty simple process. 

One of the keys is you must let the noodles dry for at least an hour. Not 45 minutes. Don't even try it. One hour is good, two is great. Another important detail is to roll the noodles thinly enough so they can dry in that one to two hours. Follow these simple rules of advice and you will have delicious egg noodles.

Ingredients

2 cups all purpose flour
3 egg yolks
1 whole egg
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 to 1/2 cup water
1 chicken leg quarter
8 cups of water
8 bouillon cubes or teaspoons chicken base


First, dump the flour in a large bowl and create a well in the center. Add the whole eggs and egg yolk to the center of the well. With a fork, combine the egg and egg yolks together, then slowly mix in the flour. Add the water slowly, starting with the smallest amount first. 
 

The mixture will look crumbly, but keep combining, it will come together. 
 

You will know you have enough water when the whole thing sticks all together in a ball. You may have a few crumbs here and there, but most of it will be together. 
 

On a well floured surface, roll out the ball of dough. Make sure you have plenty of flour to combat the stickiness of the dough. Roll this out as thin as you can without the dough cracking or falling apart. 


Cut short noodles out of the dough. I like to use a pizza cutter for this, but a knife will work great as well. Don't worry about making straight lines. I obviously didn't. 
 

Separate the noodles. Sprinkle another 1/4 cup of flour over the top and spread them out to dry. Let the noodles dry for at least an hour. 
 

In a large pot, cover the chicken leg quarter with the water. Let this simmer over medium heat for about 20 minutes.
 

After the noodles have dried for at least one hour, add them to the simmering pot. When you add the noodles, add in the flour you used to dust them with as well.  Keep this on a low to medium simmer for about an hour or until the noodles are done.  

Take the chicken leg quarter out, and shred all the meat off of the bone.


After an hour or so, add in the chicken base and the shredded chicken to the pot. I like to add the seasoning towards the end since a lot of the water will boil off. When the chicken base or bullion cubes boil, they create an odd foam at the top of the pot. 


Let the whole thing simmer for about another 10 to 15 minutes to season up the chicken itself. 


I like to serve this without the mashed potatoes and more like a soup since the broth is my favorite part. This does take some time, but it is completely worth it!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Stuffed Pepper Soup



Everyone where I work is doing a collective diet. Even if I am not participating it still slightly affects my food choices. You can't be the jerk who brings fried chicken or a patty melt to lunch. Don't even think of eating a doughnut in the sight of others. That is just plain rude. 

Fortunately one of my favorite lunch options just happens to be light, filled with veggies and is oh so tasty. Not a whiff of offense could be caught with this tasty soup!

Ingredients

1 pound of ground chicken
1/2 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
3 green peppers, chopped
24 ounces tomato sauce
4 cups chicken stock 
2 cups of cooked rice

First, brown the chicken in a large pot over medium heat. Add in some salt and pepper while this is cooking. Add in the onion, garlic, and green peppers. Allow this to cook for another five to ten minutes. 

Pour the tomato sauce in carefully along with the chicken stock. Bring this to a simmer over medium high heat for about ten minutes. I also use water mixed with chicken base pretty regularly.

After ten minutes, add in the rice. If you add the rice in too soon, it will get mushy and fall apart in the soup. I like to add a little extra salt and pepper in at the end. Crushed red pepper is also a nice addition.

Try this soup out and you will love it!

 

Monday, January 19, 2015

Pork Chops with Creamy Sauerkraut and Potatoes


"We're having what for dinner? Is that a thing people eat?" This was my husbands reaction to my dinner plans for the evening. I have to admit, sauerkraut and creamy things creates a combination you don't hear of often, but it is really, really good. Just trust me. 

I learned this a few years ago at a little deli in Loveland, Colorado. They had a sandwich called the "Blue Max" The menu listed ingredients including blue cheese dressing and sauerkraut. In my mind that would create the same flavors as a gym sock. But it was one of the top rated items they had so I figured it had to be alright. It was better than alright, it was marvelous!

My husband was leery, but even he had to admit this is a fabulous dish. The sauerkraut brings a tangy flavor to the dish that is nicely balanced out by the sour cream. The potatoes soak up so much flavor from being cooked in the same pan as the pork. I am telling you, this meal is out of this world. Not to mention, it all cooks in the same pan.

4 pork chops
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
4 potatoes, microwaved for about 4 minutes
3 cups Bavarian style sauerkraut
1 cup sour cream


First, season the pork chops while you heat up the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Brown the pork chops on outside just until it gets a nice crust. 


Once the pork has been browned on each side, take it out of the pan and let the chops sit off to the side. The meat will not be done, but it will finish cooking later. 


After the potatoes have microwaved for a few minutes, cut them up into bite sized chunks. Season these well and throw them into the pan while keeping the heat at medium.


Brown the potatoes until they are mostly soft in the center. You may need to add a little more oil to the pan after a bit of cooking time.


Once the potatoes are done, or close to done, add in the sauerkraut and mix well. 

Add the pork chops back into the pan and cover with a lid. Let this cook for another 10 to 15 minutes or until the pork is cooked all the way through. If you are using thinner pork chops, you can skip this step and just let the potatoes and sauerkraut simmer for a bit. 


After the potatoes, pork and sauerkraut cook together for a bit, turn off the heat and plate the pork chops. Add in the sour cream and serve right away.


You will love this dish! It sounds a little odd, but it is truly divine.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Grandma's Meatloaf



Meatloaf is one of those foods almost everyone loves. On sandwiches, with mashed potatoes, meatloaf is just a great meal. When people talk about meatloaf, they are usually referring to the kind with gravy over the top. While that is super tasty, my favorite variety was my grandma's.

She would make the meatloaf with rice and pour vegetable juice over the top. The meat itself was very tender and crumbly with a juicy sauce keeping it nice and moist. I make a meatloaf similar to hers. I like to use turkey since it's a bit lighter and leaves much less grease in the pan when you are done. I also like to use tomato sauce instead of vegetable juice since I think it has a bit more flavor. 

Ingredients

2 to 3 cups cooked white rice
1 pound ground turkey
1 teaspoon season salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 cup steak sauce
3 cups tomato sauce
 

First, make sure your rice has cooled from being cooked. The meat will start to slowly heat up and cause bad things to happen. I'm not sure what the scientific process is, but my mom says not to do it. I trust her on this one. 


Add the remaining ingredients except for the tomato sauce. Stir this until it is well mixed. Make sure you are not compacting the meat as it will get too tough. 
 

Spray the bottom of a large pot that can go into the oven. If you do not have one of these, a 9X13 pan will do just fine as well. Shape the meat into a loaf.


Pour the tomato sauce over the top of the meatloaf. It will seem like there is a lot of sauce, but it bakes down into a thicker, stickier sauce.  Cover the whole thing with a lid or aluminum foil. Bake the meatloaf at 350 degrees for about an hour. 


When the meatloaf has baked for an hour,or so, test the center with a meat thermometer to make sure it is cooked all the way through. A peek inside the middle is also not a bad idea. 
 

 I love to serve this with some quick roasted veggies like carrots or broccoli. I hope you try this out and love it!


Thursday, January 8, 2015

Taco Tomato Soup


 

 Earlier in the year I mentioned a purchase of some green chile. It was a rather large purchase for just two people. That is what we thought at the time. As it turns out, a bushel for two people may get a little slim come spring. We have been using green chile in everything. 

One of our very favorite ways to use our chopped up peppers of goodness is in tomato soup. The chiles add a nice smoky flavor and a little heat. It really is so easy and full of flavor!

Ingredients

1 tablespoon oil
1/4 of a medium onion, diced
1 clove of garlic, chopped
4 ounces of chopped green chilies
1 can of evaporated milk
1 24 ounce can of tomato sauce
1 tablespoon chile powder
1 cup salsa
cheese and tortillas for serving

In a medium sauce pan, saute the onion over medium heat for about 5 minutes or until the onions are soft. Add the in the chopped garlic and saute for 30 seconds more.

After 30 seconds, add in the green chiles, evaporated milk, and tomato sauce. turn the heat down to low and stir the mixture together. Add in the chile powder and salsa. This is also a good time to taste the soup and add any salt and pepper if needed. 

Let the soup simmer together for about 15 to 20 minutes. This is so delicious with cheese sprinkled over the top and a warm tortilla to dunk.


Monday, January 5, 2015

Banana Nut Pancake Casserole


 

 Breakfast is one of the most important meals of the day, it is also an opportunity for delicious food! Pancakes are a classic breakfast favorite everyone loves. However, no one loves standing next to the stove flipping the pancakes one by one as their guests gobble them all up faster than they can be made. 

Cookies can teach us a simple solution to this problem. Whenever I am in a rush while making cookies, I skip the rolling into same sized balls and make a full pan of cookie bars. Just as delicious and extra fast.

The same idea can be applied to pancakes. Just pour the whole thing into a casserole dish and bake the little cakes into a large pan of deliciousness. Pancakes are truly delightful with a topping, so just add those to the pan first. It's as easy as that!

There is a small part of me that asked after eating this "What is the difference between this outrageously good breakfast casserole and an upside down cake?" Before I could come up with an answer I reminded myself that questions so silly don't need to be answered before noon. 

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups milk
4 tablespoons vinegar
3 bananas 
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup nuts, chopped
3 tablespoons butter
2 eggs
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt


First, combine the milk and vinegar in a small bowl. Let this set for about 10 minutes or until the milk has curdled. This helps the pancake top become really fluffy. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.
 

 While you are waiting for the milk, slice the bananas and place them in a greased 9 X 13 pan. Then add the sugar and butter to the pan. Throw this in the oven for a few minutes while the oven has a chance to preheat. This will help create a sauce below the pancake. 


 After the banana mixture has had a chance to melt together, mix well and add the chopped nuts. Make sure the ingredients are spread evenly in the pan. 


Go back to the milk and vinegar mixture. Add in the remaining ingredients. Make sure to mix gently so the batter bubbles do not deflate. 
 

Spread the batter mixture over the banana nut layer evenly. Make sure you have your corners covered!
 

Bake this in a 325 degree oven for about 45 minutes to an hour or until a fork comes out of the cake fairly cleanly. If the top looks like it is getting too browned, cover the top with foil.
 

This is so delicious and perfect for entertaining. I served this with some bacon and it balanced the sweet flavors out really well.