Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Warm Sourdough Crouton Salad with Chicken and Pine Nuts

This is one of my favorite salads. I honestly was surprised that I had yet to blog about it. I know several of the blog readers who have eaten this at my place have been requesting this for awhile. At long last here it is!

Warm Sourdough Crouton Salad with Chicken and Pine Nuts (modified from Sara Foster)
Makes Four Servings
You will need:
  • 4 cups sourdough bread, cut in bite size chunks
  • 3T olive oil
  • 4 cups shredded chicken
  • 2T golden raisins (or more if you like)
  • 3T pine nuts, toasted
  • 2 cloves of minced garlic
  • 4 cups of arugula
  • 2 green onions thinly sliced
  • pepper & salt
  • roasted lemon garlic vinaigrette (recipe to follow)

Tip: If you don't have time to prepare chicken ahead of time use a roasted chicken from the grocery store. Just shred off the white meat.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Toss bread chunks with the olive oil and sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Spread the bread out on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Keep an eye on them so they don't burn.

Combine croutons, chicken, raisins, pine nuts and garlic in a large bowl. Drizzle half of he prepared vinaigrette over the mixture, add pepper to taste. Toss to coat evenly. Spread the mix out over a baking sheet and place in the oven for 5 minutes to warm through. Remove and place in a large salad bowl. Toss with the arugula and green onions. Add remaining vinaigrette. Toss and serve while still warm.

Roasted lemon garlic vinaigrette

You will need:

  • 2 lemons, halved
  • 4 cloves of garlic, skin still on
  • 2T of olive oil plus 5T olive oil
  • 3T white wine vinegar
  • 1T balsamic vinegar
  • 1T fresh Parsley, chopped
  • pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Places lemons, cut side down, and whole garlic cloves in a baking dish. Drizzle with 2T of olive oil. Roast for about 30 minutes or until soft and golden. Let cool to the touch. Juice the lemon into a small bowl. Peel garlic cloves, add to bowl with juiced lemons and smash with a fork. Add in the white wine vinegar and balsamic vinegar. Gradually whisk in the 5T of olive oil. Stir in the parsley and season to taste with pepper.

Jell-O Poke Cake

This is a family favorite at my house. It is one of the most simple creations. I always find it a little bit odd when no one else has ever had it let alone heard of it. I recently made this to take to my book club meeting and I think people were really hesitant with the red Jell-O and not knowing what it was. Those who did try it out though had more than one piece. It is just too delicious to stay away from. :)

Jell-O Poke Cake
Makes 24 servings
You will need:
  • One 9X13 cake or 24 cupcakes (It can be any flavor you choose)
  • One large box of Jell-O gelatin or two small boxes (please no sugar free)
  • One container of Cool Whip

Prepare cake as directed. If you make them as cupcakes you MUST use silicone baking cups. If you use paper then the cups will get soggy and the Jell-O will leak out! For this cake I made a basic white cake and paired a strawberry Jell-O with it. Let the cake cool COMPLETELY! This step is crucial, don't get hasty. After the cake has cooled, poke holes about a half inch to an inch apart all over the cake. You can use the handle of a wooden spoon, chopstick, finger, etc.

Mix the Jell-O powder with two cups boiling water. Be sure to whisk well to get all lumps dissolved. Pour slowly all over the cake (or use a spoon if you are doing cupcakes) trying to cover the whole cake surface with the gelatin. Cover the cake and refrigerate at least one hour (Jell-O won't be fully set up for a couple hours, but can be eaten before completely set-up).

Top with Cool-whip. Cut into slices. Enjoy! Leftovers should be covered and refrigerated.
Other good flavor combos are chocolate cake/black cherry Jell-O and white cake/strawberry banana Jell-O.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Perfect Pancakes

Pancakes are quite possibly one of the best breakfast foods. They can be eaten any time of day, topped with any sort of fruit or syrup, or slathered in butter. They are simple enough that you can just whip them up on a moments notice. I can't claim the above photo, I forgot to take pictures so early in the morning, but I will replace it the next time I make them. I also can't take credit for the actual making of the pancakes. C always makes them as I am to impatient to make them, I always try and flip too soon. Sigh.

I hope you enjoy my grandmother's perfect pancake recipe. It makes just the right amount of cakes for two people.

Perfect Pancakes
You will need:
  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder (not soda!)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 T vegetable oil
  • 1 egg

Preheat your griddle or fry pan over medium heat. Stir all dry ingredients together. Whisk all wet ingredients together. Combine the liquid into the dry. Pour out desired size pancakes onto your griddle. Heat until bubbles stop or stay dry looking upon popping. Flip. Cook until golden brown. Top with syrup.

Skillet Peach Pie

This skillet peach pie is a new spin on a summery treat. Now that peaches are in season in Texas and berries are still fresh you should try out this delicious dessert. I apologize for the pictures, my white dishes seem to be much harder to photograph and I didn't use my fancy camera. This is my variation of a Better Homes and Garden recipe.

Skillet Peach Pie
Makes 2 to four servings
You will need:
  • 1 Sugared Pastry (recipe to follow)
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 4 to 6 peaches
  • 1/4 cup peach nectar
  • 2 T packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup fresh raspberries and blueberries
  • Vanilla Ice Cream
  • mint leaves (optional)

Sugared Pastry

You Will Need:

  • 1 15oz. rolled refrigerated pie crust
  • 1 T melted butter
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • flour
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Let the rolled pie crust stand at room temperature (still rolled up) for 15 minutes. Line a cookie sheet with foil. Unroll pie crust onto a lightly floured surface. Brush with 1 Tablespoon melted butter. Sprinkle with the sugar and cinnamon. Cut pastry in half and then into strips. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden. Cool on the cookie sheet. (if you have more strips then you use you can freeze them for up to 3 months)

Melt butter in a 12 inch skillet over medium high heat. Cut peaches into quarters, remove pits. Add, peaches skin side up to the skillet. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes turning once. Remove peaches to bowls. (When I make this again I will probably take the skins off first, they ended up sliding off anyways)
Reduce heat to medium. Add the nectar and the brown sugar to the skillet. Cook and stir for 1 to 2 minutes. It is done when all the sugar is dissolved and a syrup forms.
Spoon syrup over the peaches. Top with the berries, mint (optional), and sugared pastry.
Top with ice cream. Enjoy!!