Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Grilled Swiss and Tuna Sandwiches

It's been a very casual day so dinner should be equally relaxed.  The children and I enjoy quite a few foods which my husband does not; so put "casual meal" together with "no hubby" and it spells grilled Swiss and tuna sandwiches. Buttery and crisp on the outside, melted cheese and savory tuna on the inside, all you need is a salad or fresh fruit to make it a meal.
First, make the tuna salad by squeezing the water from one can of tuna, a large can will make 3 sandwiches, a small can 1-2 sandwiches.
Add 2-3 tablespoons minced onion, some chopped pickle ( we like dill ) or you can use pickle relish, a pinch celery powder and enough mayo to moisten all, usually a couple tablespoons. This is really a "to taste" thing.
Next, slice the cheese, and the bread (hence all the crumbs).
Butter one side of each slice of bread.
Place butter side down in a hot skillet.
This is what happens when you put the camera down and there are hungry kiddos hovering about.
Top the bread with a good amount of tuna salad, then the cheese. Cover with the next slice of bread-butter side out. Grill on both sides until golden.
Cut it open so you can see the gooey cheese and call the family, unless they are still hovering.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Sweet, Gooey Monkey Bread

Last Christmas I gave my elder son a "monkey bread kit". I though it was brilliant knowing he loves cinnamon rolls and does, occasionally, bake to take to work. At this writing, I don't think he has used it yet. What I do know is that this batch came out of the oven 15 minutes ago and despite hot, gooey, melted sugar, it is already half eaten.

I used bread dough instead of the expensive (and unhealthy) tubes of biscuit dough but if you want easy then substitute 3 cans of biscuits for the bread part of this recipe-not the flaky kind. Separate the biscuits and cut into quarters then proceed with the rolling.
Basic Bread Dough
3 cups flour
2 1/2 teaspoons yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons melted butter
1/4 cup dry milk
1/3 cup potato flakes
1 1/4 cups of warm water
In a large mixer bowl, stir together water, sugar and yeast. Allow to rest for 10 minutes.
 Add the other ingredients and mix until all is incorporated and well kneaded. It should pull away from the bowl in a smooth ball. Cover with a damp towel and allow to rise for 30 minutes.
Knead the ball of dough a few times then break off small pieces and roll them into 1" balls. By the way, my dough is darker because, of the 3 cups flour, one cup of my flour was whole grain.
For the sweetness--
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 sticks butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
 In a small bowl, mix sugar and cinnamon, roll each ball in this mixture until well coated, drop into well greased tube pan.
Melt the butter and brown sugar over medium heat, stirring with a wisk until butter is no longer separated from sugar. Pour mixture over the coated bread/biscuit balls. 
Set in warm place to rise for one hour.When almost to top of pan bake in a preheated oven at 375F.for 25-30 minutes. They will be medium/dark brown. Allow to cool for 15 minutes before turning onto plate. As my youngest found out they will still be very hot! 

So, why is it called Monkey Bread? Because you pull it apart and need no knives or servers, of course my husband had some comment about social grooming, I'm still shaking my head. Any way your opinion sways, it was a winner tonight.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies

Peanut Butter Cookies filled with Nutella
Tender, chewy peanut butter cookies filled with sweet, creamy Nutella, who can resist!    
You won't keep these on the plate long. That beautiful but sneaky hand belongs to our little friend Sally, she is as sweet as the cookies!
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup flour
1 jar Nutella
Preheat oven to 350F.
In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and peanut butter. 
Add the sugars, egg and vanilla.
Mix in the salt, baking soda and flour.
 Drop by teaspoonful onto cookie sheets and lightly press with a floured fork in a criss-cross design.
Bake at 350 for 7-10 minutes or until barely beginning to turn golden around the edges.
Cool on rack.
When completely cool, spread half the cookies with 1-2 teaspoons Nutella, top with the other half. 
Makes about 25-30 cookies depending on size.
As you can see these aren't just for the little kiddos, Leah , my photographer-daughter was caught in the act!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Glazed Citrus Carrots

I am always on the lookout for vegetable dishes that taste good and my menfolk will eat. No Brussel sprout has ever passed they roll them around on the plate and that's about it. These carrots are only cooked until just tender so they are still bright orange with a hint of sweetness from the juice and brown sugar.

Glazed Citrus Carrots                                             
1 1/2 -2 pounds carrots
4 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar            
salt and pepper to taste
juice of 1 orange
Cut carrots into julienne sticks, fine or larger. 
In a large skillet, over medium high heat, melt butter and brown sugar.Add carrots, salt and pepper, toss to coat and cook for 1-2 minutes.
 Add orange juice, cook until tender, another 5 minutes or so. If juice evaporates too quickly add a couple tablespoons water. They should be tender yet still crisp, not mushy at all and slightly carmelized.
Beautiful, slightly sweet, with a gentle crunch.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Fully Loaded Potato Soup

In the kitchen with with my favorite potato peeling side kick, the only one who will peel potatoes for me, I appealed to his "hammy" side promising to put his picture on my blog. So here he is...
When you're in the mood for comfort food this is, rich, tasty and loaded with flavor.

6 large potatoes, russet or yukon gold
2 onions, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
3 14oz. cans chicken broth
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup butter
2 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 cup cream or 1/2 & 1/2
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
Optional toppings:
3 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped
4 slices cooked bacon, crumbled
sour cream
shredded cheddar
In a large soup pot, saute the onion in the butter.Add the garlic, stirring it in the butter for just a minute . Then add the chicken broth, and the salt and pepper.
Add the carrots,
                                                                  and the potatoes.
Cook until tender.
Partially mash the hot soup, you can use this handy tool which helps to build those biceps and utilizes absolutely no electricity or...
this super handy, save the shoulder and speed things along power tool. Love it!!
Leave some lumps if you like texture or process until completely smooth, your choice.
Add the cream,
and the cheese. Stir it all together. Ladle it into bowls or the fancy soup tureen that's been gathering dust (wash it first), garnish with the toppings of your choice. 
And don't forget to serve the help first!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Cheesecake Cookie Bites

This is one of our favorite cookies. It always turns out, has great flavor and is so creamy.
2 cup all purpose flour
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
12 tablespoons butter
2  8oz. package cream cheese
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
4 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel
4 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 tablespoons chopped walnuts

First, line the bottom of an 8x8 baking dish with parchment paper cut to fold over the sides. This will help you to lift the cookies right out after they are cool for super easy cutting.

Stir together the flour and brown sugar then cut in the butter with a pastry cutter or fork until it looks like coarse crumbs.
      Pour all but 2 cups in the lined baking dish,
                   then press down with fingers.Bake at 350F. for 12-15 minutes until golden brown.                                                               .
              Beat softened cream cheese until fluffy adding sugar slowly, then add eggs, beating well after each addition. Stir in  lemon juice, lemon zest, milk, and vanilla.
Pour over baked crust. Smooth with a spatula or the back of a large spoon evenly into all the corners.

             Sprinkle the rest of the crumb mixture and nuts over the cheese batter, bake for 20-25 minutes until it is no longer jiggly.
Cool completely then chill for and hour.
When fully chilled, loosen the ends from the pan, then holding the paper firmly, carefully lift out of the pan and onto a flat surface. With a sharp knife cut the cookie into any size bars you prefer. I happened to be going where I knew there would be a lot of little fingers so I cut them into 1 inch squares. I have also cut this dessert into 12 pieces and served on plates with lemon curls or red raspberry sauce.
Chill until ready to serve.