Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Bacon, Apple and Cheddar Panini

I had this for lunch today and thought it was quite delicious!  It was originally going to be a grilled cheese, but I love a smashed sandwich so I went with the Panini.  I am waiting for my husband to get home so that I can make him the grilled cheese version and then decide which one I like better.  (Todd just got home and already ate lunch (a taco from Taco Bell), he missed out!  I guess I will just have to try the grilled cheese version tomorrow for lunch, sweet!)

Bacon, Apple and Cheddar Panini

8 slices of bread (I used Texas toast, but sourdough would be great)
12 slices bacon, cooked until crisp
1 green apple, thinly sliced
8 ounces white cheddar, shredded
3 tablespoons stone ground mustard
3 tablespoons mayonnaise

Heat Panini press.  In a small bowl mix together stone ground mustard and mayonnaise.  Set aside.  Generously spread mustard/mayo mixture on 4 slices of bread. Top with shredded Cheddar, 3 pieces of bacon, apple slices and additional Cheddar. Place the remaining bread on top and spread with butter. Place sandwich on Panini press and close. Cook until cheese is slightly melted and bread is browned.  Slice and eat.

*So I tried the grilled cheese (cooked on a griddle) version of this panini and I think it might beat out the panini by just a smidge. 

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Chocolate Chip Walnut Pie

I have been craving this pie for the past few days and decided today would be the perfect day to eat pie.  This is my kind of pie, chocolaty and nutty (a near perfect combination)!

Chocolate Chip Walnut Pie

1 9-inch unbaked pie shell
2 large eggs
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped toasted walnuts

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Beat eggs in a large mixing bowl until foamy.  Beat in flour, sugars, salt and vanilla.  Beat in butter.  Stir in chocolate chips and walnuts.  Spoon into unbaked pie shell.

Bake for 55-60 minutes or until knife inserted halfway between edge and center comes out clean.  Cool on wire rack.  Serve warm with whipped cream.

*One recipe I have for this pie uses melted butter that has cooled instead of softened butter.  Next time I might try melting and browning the butter and see how it turns out.

Recipe slightly adapted from Very Best Baking

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Grilled Chicken and Roasted Red Pepper Panini

This sandwich was good!  The sundried tomato pesto is really quite tasty.  I made these sandwiches on Friday night and Todd, Stella and I were the only ones home for dinner.  I assumed Stella would want something more boring and so I gave her leftover noodles, I was wrong.  First she wanted a bite of mine and then she told me that she wanted her own.  She ate every bite!  I love it when my little ones surprise me like that!

Grilled Chicken and Roasted Red Pepper Panini

2 whole boneless, skinless chicken breasts
8 whole sundried tomatoes, packed in oil
3 tablespoons prepared basil pesto
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 whole red bell peppers
8 slices Mozzarella cheese
8 slices sandwich bread
Butter, softened

In a blender or a food processor, puree sundried tomatoes, pesto, olive oil, lemon juice and salt.  Add half the mixture to a Ziploc bag with the chicken breasts, then refrigerate for several hours or overnight.  After marinating, heat grill and cook chicken until done.  Slice chicken into thin strips.

In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise and 3 tablespoons of the sundried tomato mixture.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed.

If you have a gas cooktop, blacken red peppers directly over the flame.  (If you do not have a gas cooktop, blacken them directly under the broiler.)  Completely blacken/char on all sides, then immediately seal in a Ziploc bag.  Allow peppers to sit, sealed, in the bag for at least 20 minutes.  When cool enough to handle, remove from bag and use fingers to slip off the blackened skin.  Lop off the top, cut in half, then seed and slice into strips.  Set aside.

To make the Panini, spread generous amounts of the sundried tomato pesto spread on one side of all the pieces of bread.  On four of the piece, arrange chicken slices, red pepper slices, and 2 slices mozzarella cheese.  Top with the other four pieces of bread with the spread face down.  Butter both sides of sandwich, and then grill in Panini maker.  Slice sandwiches in half and serve immediately.

Recipe from Pioneer Women Cooks

Monday, February 20, 2012

Multi-Grain Bread

My friend Natalie gave this bread recipe too me and it had become a quick favorite (thanks Natalie).  Todd and Noah like it toasted with raspberry jam.  Preston's preference, toasted with butter.  Just butter and strawberry jam for Stella (she ate the piece that I took a picture of) and for me, toasted with butter (of course) and Miller's creamed honey. 

Multi-Grain Bread

6 cups boiling water
2 cups five-grain rolled cereal (Bob's Red Mill)
7 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups white flour
2 tablespoons yeast (SAF or Red Star)
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup honey
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup ground flaxseed meal
1/2 cup wheat gluten

Pour boiling water over the five-grain cereal in bowl of bread mixer; let sit until cooled to lukewarm (about 1/2 hour).  Add the rest of the ingredients and mix until incorporated.  Add more flour until the dough is soft, but still slightly sticky (about 1-2 cups).  Knead bread for about 8 minutes.  Cover and let dough rise until doubled in size.  Shape into loaves; let rise 30-45 minutes or until loaves have risen a little over the top of the pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes.  Makes 4-5 loaves.

*I halve this recipe and make 2 loaves in 9x5 loaf pans

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Spicy Empanadas with Cilantro Cream

I had never made empanadas before, but this recipe looked worth trying and so I gave it a whirl.  They turned out so delicious! I love the cilantro cream, sooo good!  I don't think my dough turned out looking as smooth and uniform as it was suppose too, but it still tasted great.

Spicy Empanadas with Cilantro Cream

Cilantro Cream

1/4 cup cilantro
1/4 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon Cholula
1 garlic clove

Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend.  Taste and adjust seasonings.  Cover and chill until ready to serve.

Empanada Dough

2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
4 oz. butter, cold
1 egg
1/3 cup ice water
1 tablespoon vinegar (cider or champagne)

In the bowl of a food processor combine the flour and salt.  Pulse to combine.  Cut the butter into 1/2 inch cubes and scatter over the flour.  Pulse about 5-7 times to just start to break up the butter.  In a small bowl mix the egg, water, vinegar and gently stream into the food processor while pulsing.  Stop when the dough is still a bit crumbly.  Dump out the dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap and use your hands to gently coax the dough into a round.  Cover the dough with the plastic wrap and chill for about an hour.

While the dough is chilling prepare the filling.

Empanada Filling

3 strips bacon, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
1/2 cup red onion, diced
1 red pepper, diced
2 teaspoons cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 medium potato, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 medium shallot, finely diced
1 large garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup green lentils
1 1/4 cup water
1/4 cup cilantro stems
1 Serrano (or jalapeno) finely diced

In a large sauté pan add the bacon and cook on medium heat until crisp.  Add the onions, stirring occasionally until just golden, about 5-7 minutes.  Stir in the cumin, coriander, chili powder, and cayenne.  Cook for one minute, until fragrant.

Add the red pepper and cook until just soft, about two minutes.  Add the cubed potato along with 1/4 cup water.  Scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.

Stir in the shallot and garlic, sauté until fragrant, just about a minute.  Add the green lentils and 1 cup of water.  Give the whole pot a nice stir then cover and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the lentils are tender.  Remove the lid and cook until the liquid has mostly evaporated.  Season with salt.  The reason why we salt at the end is to ensure the lentils with be tender and soft and not rubbery which can happen if you salt before they cook.

Finally add the cilantro stems and Serrano (you can use more of less depending on how spicy you like it).

Put that aside to cool slightly.

Once the mixture has cooled and the dough has rested, roll out the dough into 1/4 inch thickness.  Using a yogurt lid or a large cup (depending on what size you want you empanadas).  You can carefully roll out the scraps so that you get 6 large empanadas from one batch.

Place 1/4 cup of the filling on the left side of the dough round.  With a pastry brush (or your finger) put some water around the edge to act as the glue.  Fold the right side over the filling to match the edges with the other side.  Press and seal with your hands then use the tongs of a fork to ensure there is a tight seal.  Using a sharp knife cut a slit on the top so the steam has a place to escape.

Place all of the empanadas back on a parchment lined baking sheet and chill in the fridge.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and bake for 20-30 minutes or until deep golden.  For a nice golden gloss, brush with lightly beaten egg just before baking.

Cool slightly before serving.  Serve with cilantro cream.

Recipe from Not Without Salt

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Cinnamon Rolls

I've tried a lot of cinnamon roll recipes and this is the one I keep coming back too!  It's a special treat to eat a warm cinnamon roll right out of the oven that is dripping with melted frosting.  Yum!  P.S. Occasionally I will put a little pat of butter on top of my warm cinnamon roll, but don't tell anyone!

Cinnamon Rolls

Sweet Dough

2 tablespoons yeast
1/2 cup warm water
2 cups scalded milk
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup butter
1 tablespoon salt
1 scant cup sugar
11 cups flour (about)

Melt butter in scalded milk.  Stir in salt and sugar.  Dissolve yeast in warm water with a pinch of sugar.  Set aside for 5-10 minutes.  Work a little flour into the cooled milk mixture.  Add eggs.  Blend well.  Add yeast and work in rest of the flour.  Dough will pull away from sides when enough flour has been added.

Place in a greased bowl, grease top and allow to rise till double.  Punch down.


1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
3 teaspoons cinnamon

Mix butter, sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl.  Divide dough in half (it's easier to work with).  Spread half of the filling mixture on a 1/4 inch thick rectangle within 1/2 inch of each edge.  Roll as you would a jelly roll and pinch edges to seal.  Repeat with other half of dough.

Grease a heavy, large jelly roll or round pan (I like to use 9x13 pans).  Cut cinnamon rolls 1 to 1 1/2-inches thick.  Flatten slightly with hand.  Place about 1 1/2 inches apart.  Let rise until doubled.  Bake in a preheated 375 for 12-15 minutes or until golden.


1 cup butter, melted
2 tablespoons vanilla
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup half and half
6 cups powdered sugar

Mix together melted butter, vanilla, maple syrup, salt, half and half and powdered sugar in a large bowl and beat until smooth.  Frost cinnamon rolls while still warm.

*Before I put the cinnamon rolls in the oven to bake, I like to sprinkle the tops with additional cinnamon and sugar.
*I usually halve this recipe when I am just making them for my family.  I don't like to have too many leftovers because I like them best the day they are baked. 

Recipe adapted from Grandma's Recipe Box by Ann S. Rice

Saturday, February 4, 2012


My seven year old Preston loves hummus and this hummus was no exception.  He walked in from golfing with my husband, saw that I had made hummus, grabbed a piece of pita bread, smeared hummus all over it, took a bite and said, "I love this stuff!"


2 garlic cloves
2 cups canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/3 cup tahini (sesame paste)
4 tablespoon water
4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4-1/2 teaspoon cumin
Dash of ground red pepper
Dash of smoked paprika
1 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Turn on the food processor fitted with the steel blade and drop the garlic down the feed tube; process until it's minced.  Add the rest of the ingredients to the food processor and process until the hummus is smooth.  Add additional water 1 teaspoon at a time to reach desired consistency.  Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.  Serve chilled or at room temperature with pita bread or pita chips.

*I just pulled my hummus out of the fridge after it being in there for a few hours and it had thickened up, I just add some more water and it loosened right up.  You may need to reseason after adding additional water.

*Play with the spices.  I love the smoked paprika and usually add more than a dash.  I also like my hummus to warm the back of my throat and so I add additional ground red pepper.

Friday, February 3, 2012

My Version of a Homemade Oreo Cookie

These are evil little things and by evil I mean, addicting, very addicting.  I made them for a friend's birthday along with my favorite chocolate chip cookies and after a dinner out with friends, I had one of each cookie.  After the birthday dinner, I came home and had two more Oreos, why did I need to do that?  If you take the Oreos apart, I ate 7 cookies and a good amount of cream cheese frosting and despite being completely stuffed; I had to stop myself from taking a bite of another one!  Yikes!

My Version of a Homemade Oreo Cookie

Cream Cheese Frosting

8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
3 cups powdered sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla or vanilla bean paste

In a large bowl beat together cream cheese and butter with an electric mixer.  Add the powdered sugar 1 cup at time and beat until smooth.  Beat in vanilla and salt.

To assemble the Oreo cookies, fill a large Ziploc baggie with the cream cheese frosting.  Cut a small piece of the corner off the Ziploc bag (it’s better to start really small and if not enough frosting is coming out, cut off a little more).  You could also use a pastry bag, but a Ziploc bag works great for me. 

Take one cookie and pipe the frosting onto the cookie starting on the outer rim of the cookie, working toward the center.  Place another cookie on top and gently squeeze together.

*If I can be patient, I like to put the cookies in the fridge after they been sandwiched together.  This lets the cream cheese frosting firm up a bit.