Thursday, January 29, 2009

No Mess Shish Kabob

Well marinated Shish Kabobs are about my favorite thing but the process is a little bit of a drag so years ago I came up with this tasty Shish Kabob without the stick and it is wonderful.

6 chicken breasts - boneless, skinless - OR - steak

1 1/2 C Yoshida sauce
1/2 C brown sugar
1 tea garlic salt
1/2 tea pepper

1 bell pepper - thinly sliced
1/2 sweet onion - thinly sliced
1 can pineapple chunks
2 tbl green onion - finely chopped
1 tbl olive oil

Marinate chicken breasts in 2/3 of marinate for minimum of 3 hours, reserve the remaining 1/3 to add to vegetables. Saute onions and peppers in olive oil when slightly tender pour in marinate, pineapples, green onion and mushrooms, let simmer for 5 minutes. On barbecue, grill chicken until cooked throughout and not longer pink. Remove from barbecue and place on a plate, garnish with vegetables and sauce.

VARIATION: chicken can be done in the broiler. Vegetables can also be grilled.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

My Favorite Panini

This is my most favorite Panini. It really is the BEST!

Multi Grain Bread
2 sliced of peppered turkey
2 slices of munster or havarti cheese
red bell pepper - thinly sliced
sweet onion - thinly sliced
1 tbl feta cheese
light mayo
dijon mustard
salt and pepper

Saute the bell peppers and onions on panini grill with salt and pepper. When tender remove and set aside. Lightly butter the outer sides of bread. Lightly spread mayo and mustard on insides and place on panini grill butter side down. Place a slice of cheese on each piec with cheese on and shut the panini grill on medium heat and let it sit until bread is slightly toasted.

VARIATIONS: These can also be done on a griddle.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Twice Baked Potato

This will make any steak dinner perfect. It is hard to beat a twice bake potato, yummers!

6 baked potatoes (makes 12 half's)
1+ C sour cream
4 oz cream cheese
4 Tbl butter
1/2 C parmasan
1/2 tea garlic salt (to taste)
1/2 tea pepper
1 C cheddar cheese
1/4 C green onion

Because you will not always be baking the same number of potatoes it is best to just tell you the ingredients and you can wing it "to taste". Adjust the measurements above depending on how many and what size of potatoes you are using.

Wash and scrub the raw potato throughly, pierce the skin, wrap in foil and bake the full potatoes at 425 until tender. Remove them from the oven, let cool. Once cooled down, slice length wise and with a spoon scoop out the flesh of the potato into a bowl, being very careful not to scrape too close to the skin. If you get too close to the skin it will cause tears in the pocket. Once all the flesh of the potatoes is in a bowl, add the above ingredients and mash together with a potato masher, mixture should be lumpy but creamy also. Spray the outer rim of the skins with water lightly and dip immediately into a shallow plate kosher coarse salt and refill the potato skin with the potato mixture. Top with a sprinkle of grated cheese and a dash of garlic salt and bake 350 for 20--30 minutes until heated and cheese is melted and bubbly. These can also be prepared ahead and frozen. When ready to eat remove from freezer, let thaw and bake as directed above.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Yukas Bread

This recipe came from a sweet friend in our ward, Yuka. She is famous for her bread and regularly drops off fresh loaves of homemade bread on members doorsteps. I think it is FABULOUS! Thanks Yuka for sharing!

2 1/2 C. Water
3 Tbl butter
3 Tbl milk
6 Tbl sugar
3 1/2 tea yeast
6 C flour (+)
3 tea salt

Combine the water, milk and melted butter in to mixer (Bosch). Add sugar, yeast and 1/2 of the flour, mix well then add remaining flour and salt for approximately 5-8 minutes. After kneading let rest until dough rises and doubles then transfer to flat surface and form into loaves. Let sire in loaf tins before baking. This particular dough is VERY wet so add a little flour as necessary especially when forming into loaves. Bake 325 for 20-30 minutes or until golden.

Cranberry Beef Brisket

This is one of the fabulous recipes my mother made for all of us when we visited for New Years this year. It is fall apart moist with a zing of sweetness, it is pure wonderful!

2 C water
4 beef bouillon cubes
½ C frozen cranberry juice thawed (from concentrate)
1/4 C flour
* Use immersion blender to blend

1 onion – sliced
1 ½ T rosemary (fresh if available)
4 garlic cloves
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 C dried cranberries
* Add to the above

Wait to add at the end (see below)
8 oz medium Portobello mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 C dried cranberries (in addition)

Place 1 or 2 beef brisket or London broil roast ( I have made it with both)– flat cut and trimmed into a large baking dish so that the meat can lay flat, salt and pepper both sides of brisket. Pour sauce over beef and cover tightly with heavy duty foil, bake 300 for 3 ½ hours. Baste with juices every hour. Remove from oven, transfer brisket to plate at let cool 1 hour at room temp. Strain debris and mushy cranberries from juices,  reserve stock and onion slices. Once cooled using an electric knife, thinly slice brisket across grain. If beef has not cooled completely you will not be as successful slicing, beef will likely shred. Once beef is sliced or shredded place onto a baking dish, pour juices and onions over meat. Top with mushrooms and cranberries and cover tightly. (Brisket can be prepared 2 days ahead, cover and refrigerate.) Bake at 350 until brisket is heated throughout and mushrooms are tender, about 30 minutes (40 minutes if brisket has been refrigerated). Transfer sliced brisket and sauce to platter and serve.

VARIATIONS: You can use grape juice instead of cranberry and you can play with other kinds of dried fruit if preparing for a summer dish. Also you can substitute 1 C water and 2 bouillon cubes for 1 C dry red wine.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Sweet and Sour Pork

This is one of my favorite sweet and sour recipes. I got it from my sweet sis-in-law Natalie. She does it with meatballs below which are yummy but I like it with pork tenderloins too. I love it!

Marinate for pork
1/2 C soy sauce
1/2 C honey
1 tea garlic
1/4 C brown sugar
1/2 tea pepper
Soak 2 pork tenderloins in marinate for 3 hours or over night. Place tenderloins in baking dish and pour marinate on top, sprinkle an additional 1/4 C brown sugar on top and bake 350 40-45 minutes.

Sweet and Sour Sauce
1 1/2 C brown sugar
3 Tbl corn starch
1 lg can pineapple chunks/tidbits
1 C vinegar
3 Tbl soy sauce
1 green & red bell pepper diced

Mix brown sugar & corn starch together, set aside. Mix pineapple, vinegar, soy sauce, heat to boil then add brown sugar & corn starch. Stir constantly, let thicken then diced bell peppers, let simmer for 5 minutes then garnish pork or add meatballs and serve with rice. NOTE: sometimes I double the sauce.

Meatballs (beef or turkey)
1 lb lean hamburger (or ground turkey)
1/2 C bread crumbs
1/2 C milk
2 T onion
1 tea salt
1 egg

Mix together well and roll into 20 meatballs. Bake 350 for 20 minutes & turn over for another 20 min.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

A Perfect Chocolate Cake

This cake is reminiscent of a cake my mother use to make for me that I loved growing up. I love the whipped cream, it is moist, chocolaty but still light and fluffy.

Cake Batter
* 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
* 2 cups boiling water
* 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
* 2 teaspoons baking soda
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
* 1 cup butter, softened
* 2 1/2 cups white sugar
* 1/2 C applesauce
* 4 eggs
* 1 C chocolate chips
* 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Whipped Cream Frosting
* 1 pint heavy whipping cream
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 1 cup confectioners' sugar

Buttercream Frosting
* 1/3 cup butter
* 2 cups confectioners' sugar
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour 2 or 3 (2 if you want a thicker cake) 9 inch round cake pans. Stir together the cocoa and boiling water from the first set of ingredients. Set aside to cool.
2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Add the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, salt and baking powder) Mix only until combined. Divide evenly between the three prepared pans, and spread the batter out flat.
3. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes in the preheated oven, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean, and the cake pulls away from the sides of the pan. Cool cakes on a wire rack. Remove only when cooled completely to avoid tearing of cake.

In a medium bowl, whip the heavy cream and vanilla. When the cream becomes thick, add the confectioners' sugar and continue to whip until stiff but not too grainy. Divide into three parts and spread onto two of the cooled layers. Stack the layers onto a nice plate, putting the two creamed ones on the bottom. Place the plain layer on the top. If there is a hump on the top of the cake, trim it off with a long serrated knife. Frost the top with the remaining whipped cream (my favorite) or if you are in the mood for more chocolate you can frost the sides with chocolate buttercream frosting (direction below) and then top with more whipped cream and chocolate shavings.

BUTTERCREAM FROSTING with dollop of whipped cream
To make the frosting, beat the remaining ingredients, butter, confectioners' sugar, vanilla and cocoa until light and fluffy, about 7 to 10 minutes. Frost sides of the cake, leaving a ridge that sticks up over the top edge. Spread the remaining cream filling over the top of the cake. Garnish with sprinkles, chocolate curls or seasonal fresh fruit.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Bread Making 101

I have been approached a few times recently about wanting some instruction and tips on making bread, so I thought I would publish a few thoughts pertaining to bread and bread making.

I have very fond memories of watching and occasionally helping my mother make bread. I have a deep rooted love for bread and bread making that most certainly stems from my mothers affection with such an art. We even now enjoy wonderful memories together making bread. My mothers technique is random and spontaneous however very intuitive. My childhood memories recall my mother just added “stuff” while making bread, she loosely measured (at best), never used a timer and rarely followed a recipe and did most everything by sight, smell and touch. So I guess by watching her, it embedded confidence in me at an early age that bread making was easy... which it really is.

I will preface this by stating that I am no "bread connoisseur" though I love bread and the process of making it, I am rather basic and have not ventured into more sophisticated breads thus the tips below are a few of the things I have learned and have shared during past bread making classes I have done.

Jens Basics of Bread Making

EXCESS FLOUR… The most common mistake in bread making is too much flour in the dough. Few recipes will say the exact amount of flour required because humidity and temperature will affect the amount you’ll need. With the exception of whole grains and stone ground flour which are reluctant to adsorb liquid (you must give them some time) and be conservative on the flour… you can always add more. My mother used to say when referring to dough "the wetter the better". This is possibly the most common mistake I find people make. Don't be afraid to get your hands messy.

INSUFFICIENT KNEADING… Kneading is very important because it starts activating the gluten in the flour. Gluten, when wet has the ability to stretch and make the elastic framework of dough. Any good “yeast risen” dough must be worked to elasticity. Properly kneaded dough (in addition to the other variables) will stretch like gum blown into a bubble. If the dough tears raggedly work it more.

LOW MOISTURE…. Avoid surface drying. Once the bread or dough has been shaped and set to rise, the surfaces must remain moist and soft. Moisture is a very important aspect in the rising of any dough. I oven use my wet hand and pat the top of the dough and then place a damp cheese cloth over the dough while it rises to facilitate proper rising.

LOW TEMPERATURE… There are 2 very important aspects to temperature while making bread, internal temp and external temp. When you heat your liquid, make sure it is very warm but NOT hot or it will kill your yeast. The heat will bring the internal temperature where it needs to be in order to rise properly. External temperature should also be warm. Yeast will respond best if external temperatures are approximately 85 degrees. If dough is kept from drafts and there is adequate heat and humility in your home it should abet rapid rising. You should see rising occur within 5-10 minutes.

RESERVE THE SALT FOR LAST... Salt will also kill the yeast and prevent the gluten from working the way it should. So knead your dough while it is very sticky and reserve the salt until the end when you knead in the remaining flour.

YEAST... Proof your yeast it you are insecure about it's activity, this will give you all the confidence you need to have beautiful, yummy bread. PROOF YEAST - 1/2 C warm water, 1 tsp sugar, 1 Tbl yeast. Stir together and let sit for a few minutes, if the yeast is "good" it should get foamy and bubbly and can be added to your dough

DON’T BE AFRAID OF YOUR DOUGH .... Remember you’re the Boss!

Bread of every kind is a staple in our home. Someone once said "if you want your kids to talk to you… learn how to make homemade bread!" I am convinced that there is a physiological response to the smell of fresh baked bread and not only am I in love with the smell but the taste , texture and favor that explodes into my mouth with each bite. I am confident that one day, if my children are ever reluctant to come home (heaven forbid), they will certainly come back home for homemade cinnamon rolls, bread sticks and hot bread with homemade jam. It is a very effective and coercive tool... YES, manipulative but a very useful strategy indeed.
ADDITIONAL Tips for the discouraged bread maker.

Making yeast bread from wheat flour substitute sometimes causes trouble. The substitute flour lacks the gluten which makes the dough firm and elastic and the bread light and porous.

Two loaves of bread made from the same flour can be of a different color, taste and texture.

Good home made bread has a flavor and quality peculiar to itself. No baker has ever attained it.

To make good bread it is necessary to have good materials.

There is no single best way to make good bread.

Soft, pure water is best suited for bread making purposes. Hard water generally neutralizes to a certain extent the fermentation produced by the yeast.

Water makes a bread of good flavor and texture and white in color.

Milk makes a bread of good keeping quality, with a tender crumb, greater elasticity, and of a creamy color.

Buttermilk, Sour Milk, Whey, make a bread similar to bread made with milk, except that the bread has the characteristic flavor of the liquid used.

Potato or Barley Water give the same results as bread made with milk, with a slight difference in the texture (heavier).

Yeast should be fresh, live, growing and in clean condition.

Yeast must have a clean and acid odor.

Too much yeast gives an increase of volume in the bread and a more crumbly loaf with an inferior flavor.

If the quantity of yeast used is increased, the time required for rising is decreased; and as the quantity of yeast is decreased, the time required for rising is increased.

If too much time is consumed in the rising, the bread is apt to sour.

Too much baking powder will make a bread of insipid flavor.

Good results are obtained in bread making by using one tablespoon of sugar to each one pound loaf of bread.

Too much sugar in bread gives a toughness to both crumb and crust.

Cane sugar gives the most satisfactory results in bread making.

Good results are obtained in bread making by using twice as much sugar as salt.

Too much salt will increase the weight of the bread, make the loaf smaller, and the crust lose its golden brown color and become a dull gray.

Too much salt, even in slight quantities, interferes with the proper aeration of the dough.

Too much shortening in bread will make a heavy loaf.

Lightness of bread is determined by the size of the loaf in relation to its weight.

Elasticity in bread depends to a great extent upon thoroughness of baking.

Coarse grained bread is caused by over rising, insufficient kneading, or too much heat in the first period of baking.

Sour bread is the result of the overgrowth of the bacteria which cause fermentation.

Soggy bread may be due to a low grade of flour, dead or inactive yeast, old or moist baking powder, insufficient kneading, or improper raising or baking.

Streaky bread results when the dough is not properly kneaded, or when too much flour is used in handling or in shaping the dough and loaves.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Yahoo... I did it! I have been frustrated for years not being able to find a really good Chicken Tortilla Soup and so I made one up. I LOVE this one! Seriously!

3 chicken breast - boiled and shredded
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomato
1 can (10 oz) tomato w/ green chilies
1 can (7 oz0 Chilies
2 can cream of chicken
2 Tbl mesa flour (optional)
1 handful of tortilla chips
5 C water
4 chicken bullion cubes
1/2 tea pepper
1/2 tea garlic salt
1 1/2 tea cumin
1 Tbl chili powder
1 1/2 Tbl dried onion (or fresh equivalent)
1/4 tea lemon pepper
1 C apple juice
1 can (13 oz) black beans
1 can (11 oz) shoepeg corn
1 lime - juice
pinch of bay leaves
fresh cilantro

Combine the tomatoes, chilies, water, chips, flour and cream of chicken and use an immersion blender to puree the tomato chunks SLIGHTLY. Then add remaining ingredients and let simmer for at least 1 hour. I generally do this in my crock pot and let stew for many hours, the flavors mess and it is wonderful. Garnish with but not limited to; fresh tomatoes, avocados, cheese, olives, green onion, sour cream.

(VARIATION: I used my left over turkey in this and is was wonderful!)

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Buffalo Chicken Dip

This is amazing. One of my all time favorites. A perfect super bowl treat. Serve with cold crunchy celery and red bell pepper... my OH MY!

4-6 Chicken Breasts
1-2 C Ranch dressing
4 oz cream cheese
1/2 tea garlic salt
1/2 tea lemon pepper
1 C monterey jack cheese
1/2 C cheddar cheese
1/2 Bottle of Wing Sauce - to taste
1/4 C Green onion - finely chopped

Boil chicken, remove from water, trim and shred. Place in bowl and add remaining ingredients. This is another "wing it" recipe. It is really done to taste and nearly impossible to mess us, just add ingredients incrementally until you get your desired taste. Note: wing sauce can be very spicy so be careful not to douse to quickly. Once throughly mixed scoop into a lightly greased baking dish top with monterey jack cheese and bake 350 for 30-40 minutes until bubbly and cheese is melted. Serve HOT with cold, crisp celery and red bell pepper. YUMMERS!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Crunchy Chop Salad

Phew! Is anyone else tired of eating. I am not so much tired of eating... just tired of eating junk so I am off to a new start for the new year, cutting the carbs. Not cutting them out completely just cutting down big time.

1/2 Red Bell Pepper - chopped
1/2 a stalk Celery - thinly sliced
1/4 Cucumber - chopped
6 Baby Carrots - thinly sliced
Parmesan (approx 2 Tlb)
Rice vinegar (approx 1-2 Tlb)

This little salad is a total "wing it" recipe and portions are done to taste. I love vinegar so the rice vinegar is wonderful to me but may to too strong for some, if so just use less but avoid any oil based dressing.
Serve with grilled chicken or stands alone as a great lunch.

* VARIATION - add green onion, cilantro, radish, parsley or tomato.