Friday, November 21, 2014

November 21, 2014

Thanksgiving is next!!!  So hard to believe!  This week in addition to the new keeper recipes I've also added links to some dishes you might want to include at your Thanksgiving feast!

This week we made five new recipes and ended up with three keepers; there were two new recipes the kids enjoyed but I wouldn't make again.   Those were a caramel cinnamon quick bread (it had an odd flavor profile) and a chocolate peanut butter bar.  The bar just didn't taste like much other than the peanut butter.  That was a bummer because it was super easy to make.  Oh well, sometimes new recipes are deemed keepers and sometimes not.

But on to the keepers!  I made a cinnamon swirl bread and we loved it!  I have to admit - we actually made it twice this week!  Once we were running low on the first loaf I decided to make it again so we could keep enjoying it for breakfast.  The second time I made it the swirl was even better because I rolled the dough tighter.  I will definitely be making this bread again!

We had a new keeper dinner that was pretty different from anything we normally have and everyone really enjoyed it.  Creamy rice, chicken and spinach - and it was creamy with a nice flavor.  If you made the rice ahead of time, or even have some leftover from a previous dinner of stir fry or other dish then the dinner will really come together quickly, and all in one large skillet.  Thumbs up for only one pot to clean after dinner.

The last keeper - I finally made a banana cake.  I've had my eye on this since October, but with Halloween I didn't want to make an extra dessert.  But we enjoyed this cake with friends that came over and it was a hit.  You can use any kind of frosting that you love or have on hand, or use a mix.  I used a caramel cream cheese frosting in the layers vanilla on the outside.  This cake has great banana flavor - give it a try if you have some bananas that aren't getting much love.

Well Happy Cooking - especially if you are hosting the Thanksgiving feast for your friends and family!

New Recipes
Cinnamon Swirl Bread
Creamy Rice, Chicken and Spinach
Banana Cake

Links to recipes for Thanksgiving
Turkey Brine
Traditional Stuffing
Crescent Rolls
Classic Pumpkin Pie
Pumpkin Pie Spice
Dutch Apple Pie

Cinnamon Swirl Bread

* 3 cups (12 3/4 oz) AP flour
* 1/4 cup (1 1/2 oz) potato flour
* 1/4 cup (1 1/4 oz) non fat dry milk
* 1 1/4 tsp salt
* 1/2 tsp cinnamon
* 3 tbsp (1 1/4 oz) sugar
* 2 1/2 tsp yeast
* 4 tbsp butter
* 1 cup water

* 1/4 cup (1 3/4 oz) sugar
* 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
* 1/4 cup (1 1/2 oz) raisins
* 2 tsp AP flour
* egg wash made from one egg beaten with 1 tbsp water

1. In a large mixing bowl combine all the dough ingredients, mixing until the dough begins to form and come away from the sides of the bowl.  Knead  - about 12 minutes by hand or 10-15 minuted in the bowl of a stand mixer on level 2.  The doigh should be smooth and satiny when it has been kneaded enough.
2. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl and set it aside to rise for  90 minutes.  It will be puffy and have risen, but may not be quite doubled in bulk.
3. Near the end of the rise time create the filling.  Pulse all the filling ingredients in a food processor until combined.
4. Roll out or press the dough into a 16 inch by 8 inch rectangle on a lightly oiled surface.  Brush the dough with some of the egg wash (you will not need it all) and then press the filling onto the dough.
5. Beginning with the short end roll the dough into a log.  Pinch the side seams and the top seam to seal in the filling so it will not escape during baking.
6. Place the log into a lightly greased 8 1/2 inch x 4 1/2 inch loaf pan.  Cover the pan and let the dough rise for a second time, approximately one hour.  If using a traditional pan, let the dough crown about 1 inch over the sides of the pan.  If using a pullman loaf pan, let the bread rise until 1 inch below the edge of the pan.
7. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.  If using a traditional pan and the loaf is browning too quickly tent the loaf with foil for the last 15 minutes.  If using a pullman loaf pan, bake with the lid on for 25 minutes and then remove the lid and bake for an additional 20 minutes.
8. Remove the loaf from the oven and let it cool for 3-5 minutes and then remove from the pan to complete cooling on a cooling rack.
9. Slice with a serrated or electric knife after the bread has fully cooled.  Enjoy!

I used my pullman pan and it turned out fabulous!  We loved it toasted with butter, but I think it would also make great French toast!

Creamy Rice, Chicken and Spinach

* 3/4 cup Italian salad dressing, divided (I used Kraft Roasted Red Pepper Italian)
* 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast or thighs, cut into 1 inch cubes
* 1 cup chicken broth
* 1/2 tsp garlic powder
* 1/4 tsp salt
* 3 cups cooked brown rice
* 4 oz Cream cheese (I used 1/3 less fat kind, Neufchatel)
* 2 big handfuls of fresh spinach, torn into smaller pieces
* 1 large tomato, chopped

1. Marinate the chicken in 1/2 cup of the salad dressing for 3-4 hours, or all day if desired
2. Heat 1/4 cup of dressing in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the chicken and marinade, and cook until cooked through, 6-8 minutes.
3. Stir in the broth, garlic powder and salt.  Stir to combine, bring to a boil and simmer for 3-4 minutes.
4. Add in the cream cheese and stir constantly to melt it into the sauce.  Add in the rice and stir to combine.  Simmer on low for 5-7 minutes to reheat the previously cooked rice.
5. Add in the tomatoes and cook for 2-3 minutes.  Add the spinach and stir gently to combine.  Cook just long enough to wilt the spinach.  Serve and enjoy!

This recipe was inspired by a recipe that called for instant rice.  I adapted it and added the additional garlic powder, salt, marinating the chicken and so forth.  We loved it and it was a dinner that came together very quickly!  I can definitely see myself prepping the chicken and rice in the morning, and then cooking the dinner in the evening.  If everything is prepped and ready this really comes together without much fuss.

To make the rice ahead, bring 3 quarts of water and 2 tsp salt to a boil in a large pot.  When the water is boiling add 1 1/2 cups of brown rice.  Cook and stir occasionally for 30 minutes.  Drain the rice and spread it out on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet.  Drizzle the rice with 2 tsp of liquid (lime juice, chicken broth, in this case I drizzled additional Italian salad dressing) and let the rice cool for 15-20 minutes.  Use in a rice salad, or in  dish that calls for white or brown rice, or refrigerate it for use in the near future.

Banana Cake

* 3/4 cup butter, softened
* 1 1/4 cup sugar
* 3 large eggs
* 1 tsp vanilla
* 4 very ripe bananas, mashed
* 3 cups AP flour
* 1 tsp baking soda
* 1 tsp baking powder
* 1/2 tsp salt
* 1 tsp ground cinnamon
* 1 cup buttermilk  (Or 1 cup milk and 1/2 tsp cream of tartar - add the tartar to the flour mixture)
* 1/4 cup sour cream or vanilla yogurt

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two 9-inch round cake pans with parchment paper. Set aside.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter until smooth. Add sugar and mix until creamy. Add eggs one at a time and mix until incorporated.
3. Add vanilla and mashed bananas. Mix until combined.
4. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.
5. In another bowl, mix together buttermilk or milk and sour cream or yogurt.
6. Add 1/3 of dry mixture to mixing bowl, followed by half of buttermilk. Repeat and end with remaining 1/3 of dry mixture. Mix until flour is incorporated into batter.
7. Divide batter between the two prepared cake pans. Smooth out and level batter using mini off spatula or spoon.
8. Bake for 30-40 minutes, rotating pan halfway thru baking. Insert toothpick in center of cake to check for done-ness. Toothpick should come out clean. Otherwise, bake for another 5-10 minutes or so.
9. Let cake cool in pan for 5 minutes. Then loosen edges of cake with an offset spatula. Remove cake from pan and let cool to room temperature on wire rack.

You can frost this with any kind of frosting you desire - butter-cream, vanilla, peanut butter, chocolate, whipped cream, cream cheese.  I used a caramel cream cheese frosting in between the layers (I cut each cake in half so I ended up with 4 layers), and then vanilla frosting on the outside.