Friday, March 1, 2013

March 1, 2013

Welcome to March!  The weather is going to be in like a lion, out like a lamb, right?  Winter finally arrived here mid to late February, and I think we might get some more early next week.  Now that I am ready for spring weather the snow showed up...poor timing.  Alas, it doesn't do any good to complain about the weather, and out here if we just wait about 5 minutes it will change anyway!

On to the recipes!  We tried 5 new things this week, and three were deemed keepers.  The two failures were apple cinnamon popovers (why was I even messing with the fantastic-ness that is the classic popover?) and butterscotch pudding.  I had leftover egg yolks so I used them in the pudding, but it wasn't that great.  Liam liked it, but the big kids weren't crazy about it.  I think I will try vanilla pudding next...but first I need to find a recipe for that one.  I clipped this recipe out quite a few years ago but now it has been recycled.

And now on to the keepers from this week.  Three categories - homemade yeast burger buns, a chicken casserole, and an ice box cake!  First the rolls.  AMAZING!  We actually made them twice this week.  While pulled pork was cooking in the crock pot I decided to try another roll recipe.  I found one on the King Arthur website that claimed to be the best rolls, and many of the comments on the site mentioned using them for pulled pork.  That was all I needed to read, and I was off to the races.  Wow - these really might be the best rolls we've eaten!  The kids liked them so much that we made them when we ran out so they could use them for sandwiches to take to school.  I will likely be making them again this week.  It is nice to smell fresh bread baking. When one of my dear friends stopped by to try one she said my home smelled like a bakery! 

The chicken casserole was a hit with 4 of the 5 of us, but Liam wasn't even interested in trying dinner that night.  Perhaps next time we have it 5 out of 5 will vote this a keeper.  In the meantime, this was quick to put together and a nice change of pace from pasta based chicken casseroles.  Plus it had enough kick on its own that neither Ryan nor Owen added any Frank's!

And finally the ice box cake.  We aren't eating chocolate until Easter and I needed a dessert to serve when I had some women over to work on a PTO project.  I love graham cracker ice box cakes with pudding and chocolate; they end up tasting like eclairs.   But I needed one that didn't have any chocolate.  A friend posted a strawberry dessert that reminded me of one I had clipped years ago from a Kraft magazine.  Ryan thought it was delicious (which is saying a lot since he is not a dessert person), and it reminded him of Light 'n Fruity Pie which he grew up on.  The kids loved it, and it was a whopping three ingredients.  The ladies also loved it, and one even emailed me for the recipe!  This is definitely a keeper recipe.

Ryan made a funny comment this week - what would happen if we made a recipe again but this time it wasn't a keeper?  I suppose I would remove it from the archive, but thankfully that hasn't happened yet!  It came up because we had Un-stuffed Pepper Soup on soup night, and we all still loved it.  Owen said "this is blogworthy!"...we chucked when I told him it was already on the blog!  One more thing I love about that soup besides the taste is that it makes enough to freeze for a second meal in the future.  You've got to love make-ahead cooking that just happens without even trying.

Until next week - happy cooking!

New Recipes
Strawberry ice box cake
Texas Chicken casserole
Amazing burger buns

Texan Ranch Chicken Casserole

* 1 large onion, finely chopped
* 2 celery ribs, finely chopped
* 2 medium peppers, finely chopped (your choice of color)
* 1 tbsp canola oil
* 3 cups cooked cubed chicken breast
* 1 can cream of celery soup
* 1 can cream of chicken soup
* 1 can diced tomatoes with green chiles, undrained
* 1 cup black beans, rinsed and drained  (optional)
* 1 tbsp chili powder
* crushed tortilla chips
* 1 cup shredded cheese (cheddar, Monterrey jack, Colby, your choice)

1. In a large skillet saute the onion, celery and peppers in the oil until crisp tender.  Stir in the chicken, soups, tomatoes, beans and chili powder.
2. Line the bottom of a 9x 12 pan with crushed tortilla chips.  Top chips with half the chicken mixture, then chips, and finally the chicken mixture.  Sprinkle cheese on top, and back uncovered at 350 F for 30 minutes or until bubbly.

I didn't use that many chips - just what we had on hand.  I also am not sure that I used a full cup of cheese, so just use what suits your taste.  I had the healthier versions of the soup, and added the beans to the recipe since my family loves black beans, but leave them out if your family doesn't like them.  Ryan took the leftovers to work the next day, so that is a major endorsement from him.

Strawberry ice box cake

* graham crackers
* Cool Whip
* fresh sliced strawberries

1. Put a little Cool Whip on the bottom of the pan you are using.
2. Layer graham crackers to cover the entire pan.
3. Spread Cool Whip on the graham crackers.
4. Layer sliced strawberries on the cool whip.
5. Repeat the layers until you get to the top.
6. Refrigerate at least 4 hours, but longer if possible.

I can't give you exact amounts because it depends on the size pan you are using.  You can use an 8x8, an 9x13, or any other size you want.  I used a 7 x 11 glass dish, and ended up using just shy of two sleeves of graham crackers and most of an 8oz tub of Cool Whip.  It was definitely best after at least 8 hours - this allowed a good amount of time for the graham crackers to soften and become cake like.

Burger Buns

* 1 cup lukewarm water (110-115 F)
* 1 tbsp instant yeast
* 3 1/2 cups AP flour (418 g)
* 2 tbsp butter
* 1 large egg
* 1/4 cup sugar (50 g)
* 1 1/4 tsp salt
* 1 tbs butter, melted
* sesame seeds, optional

1. Combine yeast and water and let it sit for 5 minutes.
2. Mix the ingredients together in a mixing bowl fitted with dough hook.  Mix the ingredients until you have a soft, smooth dough.  This was about 8 minutes with my stand mixer.
3. Grease a glass bowl and put the dough in, turning once to grease all sides.  Cover and let rise until nearly doubled, approximately 1 - 2 hours.
4. Gently deflate the dough and divide it into 12 portions.  Shape each piece into a round ball and flatten slightly.  Place the bun on a parchment lined cookie sheet, cover and let rise again for about an hour.
5. Preheat the oven to 375.  Brush the buns with melted butter, and sprinkle with sesame seeds if desired.
6. Bake the buns 14-15 minutes or until lightly golden brown.  Remove them from the oven and place them on a cooling rack.

My friend came over right after I made these and said our home smelled like a bakery!  She tried one and loved it, as did we!  I made these to go with pulled pork, and they were the perfect rolls.  I will certainly be making these again.  Last time I made rolls I wasn't sure how best to roll them, so here is a link to the video tutorial I watched to learn.  This was super helpful for me.  I didn't use her recipe, rather I used one I adapted slightly from a King Arthur recipe.