Friday, December 30, 2011

December 30, 2011

The last post of the year, and what a year it has been! Hard to think that way back in April I began this blog and have since found so many great recipes to share. My family has tried out many more recipes than have made it here as "keepers", and they have been great sports about the whole process. Hannah and Liam are my primary kitchen helpers, and Ryan and Owen will try just about anything.

I guessed it would be kind of a light week of new recipes, and I was right. In addition to what I shared here we tried out another dinner recipe which was good (a braised beef stew I served with mashed potatoes), but needs a little tweaking. It called for sun dried tomatoes (which you know I LOVE), but they seemed a bit out of place. I think mushrooms would do better in the recipe, so I will try that in the future. We did make the candy cane shaped bread that my mom used to make for Christmas when I was growing up, and for my first attempt it wasn't too shabby. The flavor was great (I tasted like I remembered it), but making one big loaf was a bit much; I should have made two loaves out of it. Now I know for next time. It was fun to make something for my kids that was from my childhood, and they loved it (bonus!). I would have loved to use raspberry filling, but I couldn't find any, and I didn't have time to make any myself.

The other new recipe that was voted a keeper is definitely a family friendly option. The dish came together very quickly, used only one pot (fantastic!), and went over well with everyone at the table. My husband even took the leftovers to work for lunch, much to the chagrin of my big kids who were hoping to have it for lunch themselves the next day; I guess that proves it was a winner! This is not a fancy meal, not one you'd want to serve to someone you were hoping to impress, but if you are looking for an easy weeknight meal that keeps the dishes to a minimum and will put a smile on everyone's face, than One Pot Chili Pasta might be just right!

If you can believe it next week's entry will be January 6, 2012. Happy New Year to all, and as I love to say around this time, see you next year!

New Recipes

Candy Cane Shaped Bread
One Pot Chili Pasta

Candy Cane Shaped Bread

* 1 cup sour cream
* 1 package active dry yeast
* 1/4 cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees F)
* 2 tbsp butter, softened
* 2 tbsp + 1.5 tsp sugar
* 2 tsp salt
* 1 eggs
* 3 cups all-purpose flour

1. Heat sour cream over low heat just until lukewarm.
2. Dissolve yeast in the warm water (110-115 F). Stir in sour cream, butter, sugar, salt, eggs and 1.5 cups of the flour. Beat until smooth. Mix in enough remaining flour to make it easy to handle.
3. Turn dough onto well-floured board. Knead until smooth, about 10 minutes. Place in greased bowl. Turn once to bring greased side up. Cover. Let rise in warm place until double, about 1 hour. To test for rising, stick two fingers in dough. If holes remain but top stays smooth, dough is ready.
4. Heat oven to 375° F. Punch down dough.
5. Roll the dough into a rectangle. Place on greased baking sheet. With scissors or a knife, make 2-inch cuts at 1/2-inch intervals on both long sides of the rectangles.
6. Place the filling down the center of the rectangle.
7. Crisscross strips over the filling. Stretch dough to 22 inches. Curve to form a “cane.”
8. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. While warm, brush with butter and drizzle canes with Thin Icing (recipe follows). If desired, decorate with cherry halves or pieces.

For thin icing:

Blend 2 cups powdered sugar with about 2 tablespoons water. If icing is too stiff, add water a drop at a time. If too thin, add more powdered sugar a little at a time.

The original recipe is double all of these ingredients and makes 3 loaves. I halved the recipe (what I used is what is shown above in the ingredients list) and made one large one. I bet I could have made two small size ones with the same amount of ingredients as I used because it came out really large. Also, the original recipe has a recipe for a mixed fruit filling using apricots and maraschino cherries, but during my childhood my mom would use pie filling as the bread filling. I followed her example. I used apple filling, but raspberry or cherry would look quite festive, and I bet blueberry would taste great as well! You'll see in the pictures below that I used parchment paper to ensure that bread wouldn't stick!

One other tip...when Hannah and Owen saw this bread, they told me we could make it for Halloween and have it be Mummy Bread! That would be cute too!

One Pot Chili Pasta

* 1 lb. extra lean ground beef
* 1 yellow onion, chopped
* 1 cup each chopped red and yellow peppers
* 1 clove garlic, minced
* 2 tbsp chili powder
* 3 cups water
* 1 can (15 oz.) tomato sauce
* 3 cups wagon wheel pasta, uncooked
* 1/2 cup frozen corn
* 1 cup shredded cheese, your choice on flavor
* green onions, diagonally cut into thin slices (we used 4)

1. Brown the meat with onions in Dutch oven or deep large nonstick skillet. Add peppers; cook 5 min. or until crisp-tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in garlic and chili powder; cook 1 min.
2. Add water and sauce; stir. Bring to boil. Stir in pasta; cover. Simmer 15 min. or just until pasta is tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in corn; cook 3 to 4 min. or until heated through.
3. Serve, letting each person top with cheese and green onions.

My kids love pasta, and I love one pot meals. The fact that the pasta cooks right in with the sauce thereby using one less pot made it a recipe I wanted to test. This was a hit. By no means is this a company worthy meal (unless all your guests are under the age of 10), and it is reminiscent of a Hamburger Helper type meal. I have a hard time with the original recipe name (One pot taco pasta) since it didn't taste like tacos to us. We are calling it One pot chili pasta as that is what it tasted like to us. Maybe for kicks next time we'll replace the chili powder with taco seasoning and see how that goes over!

It calls for extra lean ground beef because you don't drain the meat after you brown it. If you use a higher fat content ground beef, I would suggest you drain it before adding the peppers. You could also try this with ground turkey or ground chicken, and whole grain pasta.