Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Pasta e Fagioli

Pasta e Fagioli

1. Cook 4 slices bacon (chopped medium) in a large Dutch oven over medium heat until crisp, about 
8 minutes.  Stir in 1 finely chopped onion, 4 minced garlic cloves, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, and 
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes.  Cook until the onion is softened, about 5 minutes.  Stir in 
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes with their juice, 2 14.5-ounce cans cannellini beans (rinsed)
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth, 2 cups water, and 1 teaspoon salt.  Bring to a simmer and cook for 
10 minutes.

2. Stir in 8 ounces ditalini (salad macaroni) and cook until just slightly underdone.  Off the heat, stir in 
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley, and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Sprinkle individual bowls with freshly grated Parmesan and a drizzle of olive oil before serving.

Make-Ahead:  This soup can be prepared through step 1, cooled, covered, and refrigerated for up to 2 days, or frozen for up to 1 month.  Reheat over low heat before proceeding with step 2.

Sautéed Chicken with Pesto-Mushroom Cream Sauce

This is at the top of my Make-Again List.

Sautéed Chicken with Pesto-Mushroom Cream Sauce
from America's Test Kitchen

1. Pat 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts dry with paper towels.  Cover with plastic wrap and pound with a meat mallet until evenly thick.  Season with salt and pepper.  Heat 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking.  Cook chicken until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side.  Transfer to a plate and tent with foil.

2. Add 2 Tablespoons oil to skillet and cook 10 ounces mushrooms (thinly sliced) until browned, about 5 minutes.  Stir in 6 cloves garlic (minced) and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Add
1 cup heavy cream, 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth, and cooked chicken to skillet and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes.

3. Transfer chicken to a serving platter and tent with foil.  Return skillet to high heat and simmer until sauce is thickened, about 5 minutes.  Off heat, stir in 1/4 cup basil pesto* and 2 Tablespoons lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Thinly slice chicken and top with sauce.

*Use fresh, refrigerated basil pesto, not the jarred kind.

I heart sautéed mushrooms.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Broccoli-Cheddar Soup

Broccoli-Cheddar Soup

1. Cook 1 minced onion and 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add 2 minced garlic cloves and cook for 30 seconds.  Add 
1 1/2 pounds frozen broccoli florets (thawed) and 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth, cover, and simmer 
until broccoli is tender, about 10 minutes.

2. Puree soup*, return to pot, and whisk in 1 cup heavy cream.  Return to a simmer, then slowly whisk in 
3 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese**.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

*An immersion blender makes this so easy- no need to transfer hot soup to a blender.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Pretzel and Potato Chip Cookies with Caramel Frosting

2014 Christmas Cookie Contest Finalist

Pretzel and Potato Chip Cookies with Caramel Frosting
from Cook's Country Magazine

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350°F.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Using stand mixer fitted with paddle, beat 12 Tablespoons softened unsalted butter, 1/2 cup sugar,
1 teaspoon vanilla, and 1/8 teaspoon salt on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low and add 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour in 3 additions, scraping down bowl as needed.
Stir in 2/3 cup crushed potato chips and 1/4 cup crushed mini pretzels.

2. Place 1/4 cup sugar in shallow dish.  Working with 1 heaping Tablespoon of dough at a time, roll into
24 balls.  Roll balls in sugar to coat and space them 2 inches apart on prepared sheets.  Press dough to
1/4 inch thickness using bottom of greased measuring cup.

3. Bake cookies, one sheet at a time, until set and edges are golden, about 15 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through baking.  Let cookies cool on sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack.  Let cookies cool completely before frosting.

4. For the frosting, bring 1/2 cup packed brown sugar, 1/4 cup heavy cream, 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, and a pinch of salt to boil in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Remove from heat and stir in
1/2 teaspoon vanilla.  Transfer to bowl and let cool completely, about 20 minutes.  Whisk in
1 cup confectioners sugar.  Spread 1 teaspoon frosting on tops of each cookie.  Sprinkle cookies with
1/4 cup toasted chopped pecans , and let stand until frosting is set, about 30 minutes.

Store at room-temperature for up to 3 days.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

A bake sale favorite- crispy, buttery, and chocolaty.
Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies
from Cookies for Kids' Cancer: Best Bake Sale Cookbook

1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Line your cookie sheets with parchment paper.

2. Place 2 sticks (1/2 lb) softened unsalted butter, 1 cup light brown sugar, and 1/2 cup granulated sugar
in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, and beat until smooth and creamy.  Add
1 large room-temperature egg, 1 large room-temp egg yolk, and 1 Tablespoon vanilla, one at a time,
beating well between additions.

3. Place 2 cups flour, 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon baking soda, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt in a separate bowl; mix well and add to the butter mixture.  Beat until everything is well incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add 3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips*,
and beat again.

4. Form the dough into heaping teaspoon-size balls**, and place them about 2-inches apart on the prepared cookie sheets. Bake 1 sheet of cookies at a time until they begin to brown at the edges, 12 to 15 minutes, rotating the sheet half-way through baking time. Cool on the cookie sheet.

*Trader Joe's sells AMAZING chocolate chips.  They'll take your cookies "up a notch".

**If you have a kitchen scale, weigh out 1 ounce of dough per cookie.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

To-MAY-To, To-MAH-To

Perfect served alongside a grilled cheese sandwich or quesadilla.

Creamless Creamy Tomato Soup

1. Combine 1 chopped onion and 1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil in Dutch oven and cook over 
medium-high heat until softened, about 3 minutes.  Stir in 3 minced garlic cloves and a 
pinch of red pepper flakes, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Stir in 
2 28-ounce cans whole peeled tomatoes and mash with a potato masher until no pieces 
are larger than 2 inches.

2. Stir in 3 slices torn up hearty white sandwich bread (crusts removed), and 
1 Tablespoon packed light brown sugar and simmer, until bread is saturated and begins 
to break down, about 10 minutes.  Working in batches, process soup in blender with 
2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil until smooth, about 2 minutes.  Return soup to pot.

3. Stir in 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth and 2 Tablespoons brandy, bring to brief simmer, and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Sprinkle individual portions with snipped chives and croutons.

Fresh Tomato Relish for Seafood
from America's Test Kitchen Quick Family Cookbook

Combine 2 tomatoes (cored, seeded and cut into ¼-inch pieces) with 1 small minced shallot,
1 small minced garlic clove, 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh basil, 1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, and
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar,  Let sit for 15 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper to taste before serving.

Fresh Tomato Relish served over trout.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Mini Cherry Cheesecakes

Mini Cheesecakes are ready to party.

Mini Cherry Cheesecakes
from Just a Matter of Thyme

1. Divide 16 foil cupcake liners among 2 muffin tins.  Place a vanilla wafer cookie in the bottom of each liner.

2. Blend 16 ounces softened cream cheese and 3/4 cup sugar together in a large bowl.  Add
2 room-temperature eggs, 1 Tablespoon lemon juice, and 1 teaspoon vanilla, and beat until smooth.
Divide mixture evenly among the cupcake liners.

3. Bake, 1 tin at a time, at 350°F for 15 to 18 minutes, until just set, rotating tin half-way through baking time. Cool in tin on a wire rack.  Top each cheesecake with cherry pie filling and store in the refrigerator.