Thursday, February 3, 2011

Reece Peanut Butter Cup Chocolate Ice Cream

What's a girl to do while cooped up in the house during an ice storm? Make ice cream, of course! :) For Christmas, I received David Lebovitz's book, "The Perfect Scoop". It's the most amazing collection of ice cream and sorbet recipes I've read. I chose the Chocolate recipe to be my first because I had an entire bag of Reece Cup minis lying around and knew if I mixed those into the ice cream, my family would elevate me to "Diva" least while they savored their bowls of deliciousness! Plus, I couldn't wait to have the opportunity to take a picture using these gorgeous dessert dishes that I inherited from my Granny and knew the chocolate would photograph beautifully in the clear glass.

This ice cream was beyond delicious! Every spoonful was incredibly creamy and chocolaty! I couldn't believe that any homemade ice cream could develop the richness of flavor that this recipe does. I can't imagine purchasing another quart of chocolate ice cream, especially with grocery prices escalating, when I can create an all natural, delicious recipe at home for half the cost! Oh-did I forget to mention that the Reece Cups were DIVINE mixed in with the chocolate! Best idea EVER!

From the heart of my kitchen to yours, may your experience be fun and the food always flavorful! Enjoy!

Chocolate Ice Cream

2 cups heavy cream
3 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
5 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped (I used bittersweet)
1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
5 large egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
15 miniature Reece Peanut Butter Cups, chopped (my addition)

1. Warm 1 cup of the cream with the cocoa powder in a medium saucepan, whisking to thoroughly blend the cocoa. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer at a very low boil for 30 seconds, whisking constantly. Remove from the heat and add the chopped chocolate, stirring until smooth. Then stir in the remaining 1 cup cream. Pour the mixture into a large bowl, scraping the saucepan as thoroughly as possible, and set a mesh strainer on top of the bowl.

2. Warm the milk, sugar, and salt in the same saucepan. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm milk into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.

3. Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the chocolate mixture until smooth, then stir in the vanilla. Stir until cool over an ice bath.

4. Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. (If the cold mixture is too thick to pour into your machine, whisk it vigorously to thin it out.) 

**After the mixture was finished in my ice cream maker, I stirred in the Reece Cups, poured it into a freezer proof container and froze it for 5 hours. Delish!

Source: David Lebovitz-The Perfect Scoop

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Santa Fe Beef Stew

I LOVE my slow cookers! Do you? My slow cooker has been a huge helpmate in saving family dinner times lately. No matter how many directions we are committed to running in the evening with the kids, I can feel confident that there is a hot meal waiting for all at home.

As our kids have gotten older, their taste palates have grown and they are more apt to try new dishes...thank goodness! This meal is one that I don't think they would have eaten not long ago. But when I served this a few months ago, they devoured every bite and went back for more. We all couldn't believe how moist and tender the stew meat was, it just melted in our mouths! I think one of the things they liked most about it was the "kick" the stew has from the green chili's and taco seasoning. It takes the every day beef stew and brings it up a notch. 

I actually took bits and pieces from two separate recipes from the same cookbook to prepare this the way I thought my family would like it. If you decide to try this for your loved ones, I hope they enjoy it as much as we did!

From the heart of my kitchen to yours, may your experience be fun and the food always flavorful! Enjoy!

Santa Fe Beef Stew

2 lbs. stewing meat, cubed
2 Tbsp. oil
1 large onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups water
1 Tbsp. dried parsley flakes
2 beef bouillon cubes (I used beef base)
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. salt
3 carrots, sliced
4 potatoes, peeled and cubed
14 1/2-oz. can diced tomatoes
14 1/2-oz. can green beans, drained, or 1 lb. frozen green beans (I used 1 quart home canned bean)
14 1/2-oz. can corn, drained, or 1 lb. frozen corn
4-oz. can diced green chilies
1 pkg. dry taco seasoning mix

1. Brown meat, onion, and garlic in oil in saucepan until meat is no longer pink. Place in slow cooker.

2.Stir in remaining ingredients.

3. Cover. Cook on High 30 minutes. Reduce heat to Low and cook 4-6 hours.

Source: Fix-It and Forget-It Big Cookbook

Friday, January 28, 2011

Chocolate Peanut Butter Revel Bars

Hello there foodie friends! I can't believe that it's been nearly a year since I last posted. Goodness! Let me share with you a brief explanation to my absence the last twelve months. 

Not long after my last post, my beloved Granny was not feeling well. She was taken to the hospital where we were informed that she was riddled with cancer in her abdomen. Granny was a tiny, little thing standing at her full height of 4'10" on a good day and MAYBE weighed 85 pounds. The cancer made her stomach protrude like she was 5 month's pregnant and with every passing day, she grew a little more. The good Lord gave us six beautiful days from her diagnosis to her passing to share lots of tears, heart-felt laughter, precious memories and the opportunity to say good-bye. Granny told my kids every night that she had no regrets and was ready to go home to be with her Savior. Not many people have the chance for this kind of closure and we are so incredibly thankful for this amazing gift.

After Granny's passing, I lost my passion for baking. I've shared with you before that Granny was an incredible cook/baker and, as a child, I spent many hours at her apron strings just trying to absorb hints, tricks and her talent in the kitchen. I thought that my desire to bake had died right along with her and even thinking of blogging anything made my want to cry. The few times she looked at my blog, she oohed and ahhhed over the pictures and recipes and seemed so proud of this little blog. 

Just after Christmas, I came to the conclusion that the best way to honor Granny's memory and legacy was to get back into the saddle and begin blogging again. I can't promise regular postings, thanks to the crazy schedule with four kids' activities. But, I can tell you that I am excited to return to blogging about food and  look forward to build new friendships through this little thing I call "Christy's Kitchen Creations". I hope you'll have a seat at my kitchen table, enjoy a cup of coffee with me and let's share a recipe or two. :)

This first recipe I'm sharing with you I baked when our family was visiting from Atlanta after Christmas. Everyone in our family loves the chocolate-peanut butter combination and these bars sounded perfect to prepare for company. I have no idea why they're called "revel" bars. Maybe it's because the amazing taste of the fudgy, chocolaty middle is sandwiched between yummy oatmeal layers that leave you wanting to take just one. more. bite. ? All I do know is that the entire batch of bars was devoured in less than one day! That's a definite stamp of approval around our house.

From the heart of my kitchen to yours, may your experience be fun and the food always flavorful! Enjoy!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Revel Bars
Yield: 20 large bars

14 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
2 cups packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
3 cups quick cooking oats

For Filling:
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup peanuts, chopped
2 teaspoons vanilla

Preheat oven to 350˚F.  Butter the bottom and sides of a 9- x 13- inch baking pan and line with parchment paper.  Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, brown sugar and baking soda until creamy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then add 2 teaspoons of vanilla.

With the mixer on low, slowly add in the flour and mix until completely incorporated, scraping down the sides of bowl as you go.  Stir in the rolled oats (you may need to use a little elbow grease to mix them in).  Set dough aside.

Using your hands, evenly press about two-thirds of the oat mixture into the bottom of the baking pan.  Set the rest of the dough aside.

For the filling, combine the peanut butter, chocolate and sweetened condensed milk in a medium sized microwave safe bowl.  Heat in the microwave for 1 minute, stirring every 20 seconds, or until chocolate is melted.  Stir to make the mixture smooth, then add peanuts and 2 teaspoons vanilla.
Spread the chocolate filling evenly over the oats mixture with a rubber spatula.  Dot the remaining oat (dough) mixture over the top of the chocolate.

Bake for 22-25 minutes, until top is lightly browned.  The chocolate may still look moist.  Allow bars to cool completely on a wire rack before cutting into individual bars.

Source: Pennies on a Platter

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Easy Cinnamon Bread

Do you love cinnamon rolls? Do you wake up and crave the cinnamony goodness that oozes out of the hot, iced roll? Do you lack the time and effort it takes to prepare homemade yeast rolls first thing in the morning? If you're like me, you answered yes to all of the questions above. Added to that is the fact that my kids could eat sugary, yeasty goodies every morning of the week (sorry teachers!) and beg me to bake something of that nature daily. I have to admit that one of our favorites is Pillsbury's Orange Rolls that you purchase in the can in the dairy section. Gasp! :) Seriously, don't knock it until you have to get two kids on the bus at 6:45 in the morning! Who sets these time schedules anyway? Goodness, but I'm barely coherant that early in the morning.

Oh, but I digress! In the evenings, after the kids are tucked snugly in their beds, I often grab a cookbook off the shelf and sit and read through it. There's nothing more relaxing than perusing through cookbook after cookbook picking up hints and tricks for cooking and baking as well as bookmarking tasty recipes to try on my gullible (I mean-willing) family. One book that I pick up often is "The King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion". If you don't have this one in your library yet, add it to your wish list, beg and plead for it or make up a special occassion that will give you a reason to run out right now and buy it. Seriously, it's a must have.

The other night while reading through the "yeast" section of the cookbook, this recipe leaped off the page at me. "Easy Cinnamon Bread". Hmmm? Yeast. Cinnamon. Sugar. AND...cinnamon chips!! Holy Yum! Delicious cinnamon roll taste in bread form. I HAD to make this bread! I set aside some time the next night and whipped up this very simple to make bread. Oh the smells that lofted through our house as this was baking. The kids and I were practically drooling just waiting for it to finish, but once we did get a nibble of the fresh baked was well worth the wait! The bread was wonderful the day of baking and the following day. After that, it was a tad stale, but we toasted it up, smoothed it with butter and enjoyed the remainder of the loaf. I'm thinking that I'll try baking up a loaf on a Wednesday or Thursday, slice it up into large slices and plan to fix Cinnamon-French Toast on a Saturday morning. Doesn't that sound divine?

From the heart of my kitchen to yours, may your experience be fun and the food always flavorful. Enjoy!

Easy Cinnamon Bread

3 cups (12 3/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 (3 1/2 ounces) sugar
2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (8 ounces) warm milk
1/4 cup (2 ounces) butter, melted
1 large egg
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup (6 ounces) cinnamon chips
Cinnamon-sugar, for topping

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, yeast, cinnamon and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, butter, and egg. Combine the wet and dry ingredients, beating until smooth. Cover and let the batter rest at room temperature for 1 hour, then stir in the baking powder and cinnamon chips.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Spoon the batter into a greased 8 1/2 X 4 1/2-inch loaf pan. Sprinkle the top with the connamon sugar.

Bake the bread for 35 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove the bread from the oven, let it rest in the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer it from the pan to a rack to cool completely. Don't slice the bread while it's hot; it will slice much better when it's completely cool.

Source: The King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion

Monday, February 1, 2010

Garlic-Herb Braid

I have always loved baking homemade bread but haven't always had the best of luck with yeast. Baking, for me, is an exact science; follow directions precisely and the end result should be a perfect creation of my detailed efforts. However, yeast is entirely different and can seem extremely tempermental. When proofing the yeast, if the temperature of the liquid is too hot, you can "kill" the yeast. If it's too cool, the yeast won't activate. Add too much flour, your crumb may be too dense. Not enough? Too sticky. This can be a daunting task for the home baker like me. I've come to the conclusion that working with yeast and bread baking is one of those tasks that you just have to pull yourself up by your boot straps, jump in with both feet and bake, bake, bake. As I consistently tell my children, "If you want to be good at anything, it takes effort, lots of time and practice". :)

This bread recipe came from my latest "Simple & Delicious" food magazine. Staying true to its cover title, this bread recipe was a cinch to throw together, took no time at all to rise and had a deliciously moist crumb that suited our Italian meal perfectly. The combination of herbs and garlic would compliment many varieties of main dishes. Not to mention, it makes a beautiful presentation for the everyday meal or would impress your dinner guests for a lovely, more formal evening.

If you're like me and are little wary of working with yeast, this would be a perfect recipe for you to throw into the ring as a practice bread. The yeast is not proofed in any liquid but is added in with the dry ingredients and then the wet ingredients are mixed in. Simple! The dough is needed by hand, which can be very theraputic and then braided and rests for 25 minutes. Short, sweet and perfect for any night of your week.

From the heart of my kitchen to yours, may your experience be fun and the food always flavorful. Enjoy!

Garlic-Herb Braid

4 to 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 Tbsp. sugar
2 pkg. (1/4 oz. each) quick-rise yeast
2 tsp. dried basil
1-3/4 tsp. dill weed
1-1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. garlic powder
3/4 tsp. dried rosemary, crushed
3/4 cup 2% milk
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup butter, cubed
1 egg
1 Tbsp. butter melted

In a large bowl, combine 1-1/2 cups flour, sugar, yeast and seasonings. In a small saucepan, heat the milk, water and cubed butter to 120-130 degrees. Add to dry ingredients; beat just until moistened. Add egg; beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough.

Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 4-6 minutes. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes.

Divide dough into thirds. Shape each into a 15-in. rope. Place ropes on a greased baking sheet and braid; pinch ends to seal and tuck under. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 25 minutes.

Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Brush with melted butter. Remove from pan to a wire rack to cool.

Source: Taste of Home's "Simple & Delicious" Jan/Feb 2010

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Saucy Italian Orzo

A new favorite cooking magazine of mine is Taste of Home's "Simple & Delicious". It's packed full of wonderfully tasty recipes that are perfect for those busy weeknights when I don't have much time to spend in the kitchen but want to put something hearty and nutritious on the table for dinner. (Hence, the title "Simple & Delicious"...duh!!) During my last menu planning session I chose several recipes from the Jan/Feb issue and I can't wait to share them all with you in upcoming posts! This first dinner recipe was so incredibly quick and easy to prepare. I actually over estimated the time it would take to cook that I had time to choose and bake up a loaf of garlic-herb bread (look for in my next post) to serve alongside our meal. WOW! The original recipe called for 1 lb. of hamburger but since I was doubling this recipe to share with Sarah for our meal co-op, I added 1 lb. of Italian sausage to boost the flavors a little. I would highly recommend that you consider doing this if you decide to try this meal for your family, the sausage was a perfect addition and really vamped up the taste of the entire dish. Another huge added plus for me was the addition of spinach at the end of the cooking time! It not only added a beautiful color to the entire dish, but was also a major nutritional and healthy addition. Major points in my book! The little food critics in my home gave this two-thumbs up each as they raved over the "cute little pasta thingies" (orzo). Oh-the phrases of children. I love being their Mom!

From the heart of my kitchen to yours, may your experience be fun and the food always flavorful. Enjoy!

Saucy Italian Orzo

1 1b. ground beef (or 1/2 lb. beef and 1/2 lb. Italian sausage)
1 large onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 cans (14.5 oz. each) diced tomatoes with basil, oregano and garlic
1 can (14.5 oz.) beef broth
1 can (6 oz.) tomato paste
3/4 cup uncooked orzo pasta
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
2 cups fresh baby spinach

In a Dutch oven, cook the beef, onion and garlic over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain.

Stir in the tomatoes, broth, tomato paste, orzo and Italian seasoning. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until orzo is tender. Add spinach; cook and stir until spinach is wilted.

Source: Taste of Home's "Simple & Delicious" Jan/Feb 2010

Monday, January 25, 2010

Cheesy BBQ Chicken - Copy cat Chili's Monterey Chicken

If you're looking for a light dinner recipe, this little baby is not for you. However, if you'd like to prepare a wonderful, flavorful, "just-like-Grandma-used-to-make" meal, then stick with me for a few moments. I prepared this meal back in November (I know-sad huh?) when I was excited to use my new iron skillet. Ah, the silly things that cause me to be giddy lately. :) I found the recipe on "Mommy's Kitchen" when I was menu planning late one evening. The combination of bacon, chicken and barbeque sauce had me salivating over my coupons and I couldn't wait for the opportunity to fix this for the fam. This was a definite success with all (a couple of my kids took the bacon off) and made for a fantastic sandwich for Marty's lunch the next day. 

If you're counting the calories and fat but would still like to prepare this for dinner, try using Canadia bacon for the top. It offers just as much flavor as regular bacon with half the fat and calories. Yum!

From the heart of my kitchen to yours, may your experience be fun and the food always flavorful. Enjoy!

Cheesy BBQ Chicken
(Copy Cat Chili's Monterey Chicken)

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
8 slices of bacon, cut in half
1 onion, caramelized (I omitted)
1 bottle of BBQ sauce (or homemade)
Shredded Cheese
(cheddar or colby jack shredded cheese blend)

Place chicken breasts in large zip lock bag and pour enough BBQ sauce in bag to cover the chicken. Marinate them in the fridge from about 30 minutes. Preheat oven to broil HI, with rack 4 inches from heat In a large oven proof skillet( I used my trusty cast iron skillet), over medium heat, saute chicken until mostly done, about 4 minutes per side. Pour some BBQ sauce over chicken. Place desired amount of onions on the chicken. Cover with cheese (how ever much you want) Place bacon on top. I stuck a toothpick or two through the bacon to keep it from curling while broiling. Place pan in the oven and broil until the bacon has crisped up, about 5 minutes. Or until the chicken reads 165 on a instant read thermometer. If after you have broiled th chicken it still isnt cooked through, lower the temp to 450 and cook till juices run clear.

Source: Mommy's Kitchen