January 31, 2014

Beef Brisket

Pulled pork is one of my favorite things to cook for a crowd, especially in the summer for some reason.  I love that it can feed so many people, yet is so easy to cook.  It was this thought that led me to try my hand at cooking a beef brisket recently.  I wanted to make something that I could use for several different meals, and since I've never made it before, I was excited to give it a try.

This worked out really well, and I was able to use the meat for several different dishes.  First, I served it over mashed potatoes with a side of veggies, next I added some BBQ sauce to it and made sandwiches, and lastly I made quesadillas with it.  Everything turned out delicious, AND I had some left over that I put in the freezer for a later date.  All in all, cooking this brisket was a huge success.  With a little planning and a little time, this brisket went a long way in providing several meals for us.  I've already thought of a few more uses for it, so I will definitely be making this again!

Beef Brisket

6 lbs beef brisket
1/2 cup red wine
2 cans beef broth
1 cup water
1/2 cup Tamari sauce (can substitute with soy sauce)
1 tbsp garlic, chopped
Juice from 1/2 of a lemon

Add the wine, broth, water, Tamari, garlic and lemon in a large roasting pan and stir to combine.  Lay the beef brisket, fat side up, into the pan and cover with foil.  Place in the refrigerator and let it set for 24 hours.  

Preheat oven at 325 and cook brisket for about 4 hrs, or until it comes apart easily when pierced with a fork.  Remove from pan and either cut into slices, or shred with a fork (or some of both).  This will yield about 8-12 servings, depending on if you slice or shred it, and depending on your serving sizes (definitely at least 6 large servings though).

January 26, 2014

Easy Creamy Chicken

We are all looking for quick and easy weeknight meals, right?  I am always finding it difficult to come up with new ideas for chicken, but to have a quick chicken dinner is ideal.  This one fits the bill - easy, quick and best of all it's delicious!  I served it with a side salad, but you could put this over some pasta, or pair it with a baked potato and veggies.  Whatever you serve it with, just try it...you will not be disappointed!

Easy Creamy Chicken

2 large chicken breasts, each cut in half to make 4 pieces
1 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp Italian seasoning (can substitute parsley - 1 tsp dried or 1 tbsp fresh chopped)
1/2 tsp salt
couple dashes of cayenne pepper (this is really to taste - if you like it spicy, add more)
2 tbsp butter

Combine the garlic powder, chili powder, onion powder, Italian seasoning, salt and cayenne pepper in a small bowl and mix to combine.  Coat all sides of the chicken with the seasoning mix.  Melt one tbsp of butter in a large skillet on medium-high heat.  Once butter is melted and pan is hot, place your chicken in the pan. Cook for about 5 minutes, then turn the chicken over and cook another five minutes, or until juices run clear and they are cooked through.  Add the remaining tbsp of butter and the heavy cream, mixing to combine.  Turn heat to medium-low and let the chicken simmer until the sauce has thickened, about 10 minutes.  Serves 3-4, depending on how large the chicken breasts are. 

January 19, 2014

Gooey Cinnamon Squares

We had a slumber party last night with three of the grand-kids!  I love when they come over, mostly because I just love them, but also because it gives me a chance to make something yummy.  Making treats for them gives me great pleasure!

This time I decided to try something new.  I received the Smitten Kitchen cookbook about a year ago, but haven't tried much from it.  I pulled it out the other day and was thumbing through it when I came across this recipe for gooey cinnamon squares.  Hmmmm, not only did they look and sound yummy, but it seemed like something the kids would like also.  

These babies are very interesting.  They taste like a snicker doodle, but the gooey factor makes it seem like they are under-cooked when really they aren't.  It takes a couple of bites before you get past feeling like they need to be cooked more.....and then they become addicting.  And more delicious with each bite.  Everyone loved these, so I guess this one is a keeper.  Thank you Smitten Kitchen for a super yummy, and very interesting dessert!

Gooey Cinnamon Squares (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

Cookie base:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/4 cup whole milk
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

Gooey layer:                                  
1/4 cup corn syrup
1/4 cup half & half (can use milk or heavy cream if you want)
1 tbsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup all-purpose flour

2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 and line a 9x13 inch baking pan with parchment paper with a 2-inch overhang. 

To make the cookie base:  In a large bowl combine the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium high speed until pale and creamy.  Add the egg, mixing until well blended. Add the flour mixture in two additions, alternating with the milk, and mix just until combined. Spread batter into the bottom of the prepared baking pan. 

To make the gooey layer:  In a small bowl, whisk together the corn syrup, half & half and vanilla. In the bowl of an electric mixer beat the butter and sugar on medium high speed until pale and creamy.  Add the egg, mixing until well blended, then add the salt. Add the flour in three additions, alternating with the half & half mixture, starting and ending with the flour. Spread the batter evenly over the cookie base in the baking dish. 

To make the topping:  In a small bowl, combine the sugar and ground cinnamon. Sprinkle evenly over the batter. Bake for about 25-30 minutes, or until top is golden brown. The gooey layer won't set until the squares have cooled completely.

Let cool before cutting into squares. You can store these in an air-tight container at room temperature.

January 8, 2014

Cauliflower Pizza Crust

Happy New Year everyone!  I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season with your loved ones.  I first want to apologize for the lack of posts lately.  I am currently taking a couple of classes and it seems to be dominating most of my free time, but I am hoping to get back to posting more often in the next month or two.  

If you are like me, or like many people out there, the beginning of a new year means getting back on track with eating or starting a new diet, etc.  I always give in to the holiday temptations, so January typically is the time I get back to eating healthy.  A few months ago I kept seeing pictures of pizza made with a cauliflower crust on Pinterest and it definitely intrigued me.  Could it really be possible to make a pizza crust with cauliflower and it would not only taste good, but it would actually hold together?  I read through a couple of recipes to see how it was done, then I filed it away in my brain to try at a later date.

I finally had a little time the other day, and I knew right away that this was what I wanted to cook up.  I love pizza, so now that I'm back to eating healthy it seems all I can think about is eating things I am not supposed to...like pizza!  I figured if this worked out, it would be a nice treat for when I am feeling like I want to give into cravings.  I was astonished at how well this turned out - great flavor, but best of all was that it actually held together nicely and I could pick up a piece without it crumbling or falling apart!  AMAZING!  Who ever came up with this idea is a genius!  I am so excited and will DEFINITELY be making this again ☺

Cauliflower Pizza Crust

1 medium-sized cauliflower head, stem removed & cut into 1-2" pieces
1/4 teaspoon salt 
1 tsp dried Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder 
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese 
1/4 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded  

1 egg, slightly beaten

Place a cookie sheet upside-down, or a pizza stone, in the oven and preheat it at 450.  Take the cauliflower and place it in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until it turns into tiny pieces/crumbles (should look powdery/fluffy).  Pour into microwave safe bowl and microwave for 3 minutes.  Place a cloth kitchen towel on the counter and pour & spread the cooked cauliflower bits onto the towel and let cool a couple of minutes.  When cool enough to handle, gather the cauliflower into the middle of the towel, then fold the towel up (like a tootsie roll wrapper).  You want to squeeze as much liquid as possible out of the towel - so you really want to wring the heck out of it for a considerable amount of time (like 5 minutes or until no more drops of water are visible).

Place the cauliflower back into the bowl and add the salt, italian seasoning, garlic & onion powder, Parmesan and mozzarella cheese.  Stir well to combine.  Add the egg and stir to incorporate it into the mixture.  Take a piece of tin foil and spray it well with cooking spray.  Dump the cauliflower mixture onto the tin foil and shape it into a ball of dough, then spread it out in whatever shape you want for your pizza (square or round) until it's about 1/4" thick.  Take the tin foil with your cauliflower crust on it and place it in the oven onto the already hot pan or pizza stone.  Cook for about 10 minutes or until golden brown and the edges start looking crispy.  Remove the tin foil with the cauliflower crust from the oven and add your toppings - sauce, cheese and whatever toppings you like (I did caramelized onions & mushrooms).  Place pizza back into oven for another 6-8 minutes, or until cheese is melted and beginning to brown.  Remove and let cool for 2 minutes before slicing.