Saturday, December 24, 2011

Vegetable Tian

...'Twas the night before Christmas...
This is about the third recipe that I was convinced was perfect for my contribution and thankfully it turned out pretty darn amazing!
The first was a delicious Barley Turkey Meatball soup - which I highly recommend ( Throw a little roasted jalapeno in the meatballs and serve with cilantro, green onion, and a dollop of sour cream on top - Yum! (We called it Chile Butterball soup!)
The second was an amazing tasting coffee fudge which still remains this taffy consistency blob in the refrigerator - going to try to use it for hot chocolate instead!
Now - for the Vegetable Tian - its a great lighter side dish, which is exactly what I was looking for for Christmas...something that wasn't full of cream, cheese, and heaviness.
Vegetable Tian
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 large sweet yellow onion (chopped)
2-3 cloves of minced garlic
2 russet potatoes, unpeeled
1 zucchini
1 yellow squash
3 Roma Tomatoes
Salt, Pepper, Thyme
Grated Parmesan cheese (I recommend the fresher kind)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees and spray a baking dish with cooking spray. In a large skillet cook onion with 1 Tbsp olive oil until soft, then add garlic for about 1 minute, or until aromatic. Pour the contents of the skillet into the bottom of the baking dish and spread out evenly.
Slice potatoes, tomatoes, zucchini, and yellow squash into 1/4" slices and layer in baking dish. Drizzle with remaining olive oil, sprinkle with salt, pepper and Tyme to taste.
Bake, covered, for about 30 minutes. Uncover and sprinkle with about 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese and bake uncovered about another 25-30 minutes until all vegetables are tender and cheese is browned.
Unfortunately I didn't even think about a photo until all the compliments and fully bellies rolled in after Christmas dinner - so what you see is the left overs. It was extremely easy to throw together and a great alternative to heavy sides without losing all the flavor!
I REALLY cannot wait to make this during harvest when all the goodies are garden fresh!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Holiday S'Mores

I recently went to a Christmas party with our "adopted family" and found myself in baking heaven with soooo many new cookies, candies and sweets to put myself into a diabetic coma for a week! After completing the difficult task of taste testing each item (someone had to complete this difficult task!!!!), I found my new favorite cookie/bar of the holiday season to be the holiday s'mores! Being a new mom and a wife who is working extra hours, I found this recipe even more satisfying when I was told the recipe and realized just how simple, quick and tasty it was. 
So - stop at the grocery store on your way home and have fun baking these treats tonight! I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!!!!!!

Merry Christmas and Thank You to Holly for including me as part of her 12 Christmas Bloggers!!!

Holiday S'mores
(Makes 36 bars)

12 Chocolate graham crackers(or enough to cover entire bottom of pan)
3/4 cup butter
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3 cups miniature marshmallows
1 cup  candy coated milk chocolate pieces (like M & M's - Christmas colors are a nice touch)

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Line 15 x 10 x 1" jelly-roll pan with aluminum foil leaving 1" overhang
on ends: spray foil with no-stick cooking spray. Place graham crackers onto foil so sides touch.

Melt butter and brown sugar in 2 quart saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly, until smooth
and mixture just comes to a boil (4 - 6 minutes). Pour evenly over the graham crackers. Bake for
5 - 6 minutes or until bubbly. Remove from oven; sprinkle with marshmallows. Continue baking until 
marshmallows begin to soften (2 - 3 minutes). Sprinkle with candy. Cool completely. Lift from pan 
using foil as a handle. Cut into bars.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Caramel Bars

1 cup flour
1 cup oatmeal
3/4 cup melted butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix like pie crust and pat in 8 x 10 inch pan. Save 1 cup for topping. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes.

35 caramels
1 cup chocolate chips
3/4 cup crushed nuts

Melt caramels w/ 5 tablespoons of milk or cream.

Put 1 cup chocolate chips on crust, then caramel, and then add nuts. Finally, add the extra cup of crust to the top. I've found it best to let it cool in the refrigerator.

Special thank you to my Grandma Carol and my mom for this recipe. Wish you could still be with us Grandma. Also, thanks to Holly for inviting me to post on this blog, and to my beautiful 6-year old daughter Aubrey for unwrapping the caramels for me! Merry Christmas!

Dark Chocolate Chip Candy Cane Cookies

It's your basic chocolate chip cookie, but with a twist for Christmas!

Dark chocolate chip candy cane cookies

(adapted from the Nestle Toll House dark chocolate morsels package)

2 1/4 cup flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 cup (2 sticks butter), softened

3/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 tsp mint extract

2 large eggs

1 2/3 cup (10 oz package) dark chocolate chips

8-10 crushed up candy canes

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix together above ingrediants and drop by tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheet (or parchment paper for easy clean up!). Bake 9-11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool for a couple minutes and move to baking racks to cool completely.

Have a Minty Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Candy Cane Kiss Cookies.

The biggest battle for my taste buds play around Christmas is the whole peppermint thing. You may or may not remember from last Christmas that I am generally NOT a peppermint person. Read: no candy canes, mint chocolate, no peppermint bark, etc. BUT every now and then I change my mind. Like when I bought some candy cane kisses at Target the other day…and then I got home and had no idea what I was going to do with them. Thankfully Recipe Girl came through for me!

Candy Cane Kiss Cookies
(Recipe Slightly Adapted from Recipe Girl)

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 1/4 cups butter
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup Candy Cane flavored Hershey's Kisses (finely chopped)
Granulated sugar
30ish Candy Cane Kisses (unwrapped)

Place powdered sugar, butter, extracts and egg in mixer. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often until creamy. Slowly add in flour and baking powder; mix until well blended. Stir in chopped Kisses. Shape dough into balls, roll in granulated sugar and place on a cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes or until set. Upon removing from the oven, place a candy cane kiss in the center of each cookie. Allow to sit for a few minutes and then swirl the kiss to flatten. Allow to cool and store in a covered container.

Yum. And now I want to make peanutbutter kiss cookies. Off to the store I go!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Parmesan Chicken and Rice Casserole... Plus Dessert!

On the first blog of Christmas, Holly gave to me... a chance to share a rec-i-pe!! This is one of my favorites and my husband loves it too. It calls for just 3 Tbsp of heavy whipping cream though, and it's kind of hard to use the rest. The answer: shortcakes for dessert!!

Parmesan and Chicken Rice Casserole
(Recipe Adapted from Cooking Light March 2008)
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 (3-1/2 oz) bags boil-in-bag rice (white or brown)
1/3 cup white wine (whatever you have left in the fridge, not required if you drank it all!)
approx 1 lb chicken (I use chicken breast tenders, any chicken will work though)
thyme for sprinkling (I use dried thyme leaves, but fresh or ground work too)
2 cups chicken broth (Kitchen Basics unsalted chicken broth is delish!)
3 Tbsp heavy whipping cream
1/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese (never actually measured this, I just sprinkle it on top)

Preheat oven to 450F. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and coat with cooking spray. Saute garlic approximately 30 seconds. Remove rice from bags and add to pan, saute 30 seconds. Stir in wine and cook until almost all liquid evaporates. Spread rice mixture in the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish lightly coated with cooking spray. Arrange chicken in a single layer over rice and sprinkle with thyme. Mix together broth and cream and pour oven chicken and rice mixture. (Don't worry, it's not too much liquid!) Bake for 15 - 20 minutes, sprinkle with cheese and bake an additional 5 minutes or until chicken is done and cheese is browned.

Dig in!!

Now, to take of the rest of that whipping cream (assuming you bought a half pint like I did)...

Shortcakes (with fruit)
(A recipe loosely based on several recipes from The Joy of Cooking)
1-3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 (heaping) Tbsp sugar
6 Tbsp butter or shortening (I always use butter-flavored Crisco, best of both worlds!)
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream (this is basically EXACTLY what you'll have leftover)
berries of choice with some sugar
whip cream or cool whip to top

Leave the oven set to 450F. Stir dry ingredients together in large bowl. Cut shortening in using a pastry cutter or two knives (but seriously, you should get a pastry cutter, so much easier). Make a well in the center and add cream. Stir just until the dough comes away from the edge of the bowl, turn onto a floured surface and knead gently and quickly 8 - 10 times. Roll out to approximately 1/4 to 1/2 inch thickness and cut biscuit with a biscuit cutter. (I don't have a biscuit cutter, I almost always use a glass. Or a heart-shaped cookie cutter.) Place shortcakes on ungreased cookie sheet and bake until lightly browned, 8 - 10 minutes.

Tonight we had some raspberries in the house, so that's what I topped the shortcakes with. Obviously, sugared strawberries are the classic choice, but any berries work well. I mixed a handful of raspberries with about a teaspoon of sugar, put those inside a split shortcake (still warm!), and topped with whip cream... my husband says it tasted great!!

Merry Christmas! Thanks so much for inviting me to your blog, Holly!!