Saturday, May 19, 2012

Kitchen Adventures 20.3

When I first purchased my slow cooker several years ago, I wasn't quite sure what to do with it. I grew up with my mom making dinner for the entire family in her slow cooker. I was just cooking for myself, so I wasn't quite sure where to start when looking for recipes that didn't feed an army. One year for Christmas my mom got me a little checkout stand cookbook full of great slow cooker recipes. The first one I tried was this recipe, which I still go back to for a quick and easy dinner.

A note about this one: make sure you watch it. Try to select chicken breasts that are of similar size and thickness so cooking is even. This last time they ended up pretty crunchy and dry because I was not paying close enough attention. When it smells done, it's done! Usually I pair this with some kind of green veggie, either a salad, green beans, or peas.

This came from PreventionGuide Slow Cooker Recipe Book.

Breaded Dijon Chicken Breasts


1 c. dried bread crumbs
1/2 tsp. herbes de Provence (I just use Italian seasoned bread crumbs or threw in Italian seasoning)
1/2 tsp. paprika
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (1 1/2 lb. total)
1/4 c. Dijon mustard
1 T. olive oil
1/4 c. chicken broth


1. Combine the bread crumbs, herbs, and paprika in a shallow bowl.
2. On wax paper, cover each chicken breast with mustard and then dip into the bread crumbs mixture, covering completely. Shake off excess crumbs.
3. Coat the slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray and place the chicken in a single layer over the bottom of the slow cooker. Drizzle with oil and add the chicken broth.
4. Cover and cook on low 6 to 8 hours. (I usually cook this on high 2 to 4 hours.)

Kitchen Adventures 20.2

During the winter months, I try to use my slow cooker on a fairly regular basis. I guess I should really use it more during the summer to cut down on heating from the oven; I'll have to try that this summer! I am fortunate to have a great slow cooker and many cookbooks to choose from when trying to decide what to make each week.  It's always interesting to find a recipe that would not normally be made in a slow cooker and try it this way. That's what this recipe is all about.

Chicken and dumplings just sounds like something a grandmother would make, right? The name alone conjures up images of home cooking and love in every bite. Well, I don't know that these had love in every bite, but it was interesting to make this in a slow cooker! I was wary to try it since my boyfriend had already vetoed dumplings (texture thing) but I tried it anyway. He said it was ok, which to me meant it was a success.

This recipe came from 3 Books in 1 Rival Crock-Pot, specifically the Winning Slow Cooker Recipes section.

Like Grandma's Chicken 'N Dumplings


2 c. cooked chicken
1 10.75-oz. can cream of mushroom soup
1 10.75 oz. can cream of chicken soup
2 soup cans water
4 tsp. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. chicken bouillon granules
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 can refrigerated buttermilk biscuits (8 count)


Combine all ingredients except biscuits in slow cooker. Cut biscuits into quarters and gently stir into mixture. Cover and cook on low 4 to 6 hours.

Kitchen Adventures 20.1

Wow, I knew it had been awhile since I posted, but almost five months is longer than I thought! Life did get busy the first part of this year, with writing an article (set to be published this summer!) and life in general. All is going well, and after several inquiries regarding this blog, I'm back at it. Hopefully I will be better at consistency, but I've said that before!

Five months of cooking is a lot to cover, but as I look back through my cooking efforts for the first part of 2012, I don't actually have that many new recipes to share. I made several dishes I have already sharedh ere, and quite frankly I have forgotten some of the things I made! The really good ones, though, are fresh in my memory.

This first recipe is a dish I made back in January. During the colder months, this was perfect. Now, with the temperatures in the high 80s, not so much. Still, it was delicious and I highly recommend it.

This recipe came from Every Day with Rachael Ray.

Cheeseburger Meatloaf and Mashed Potatoes


2 T. olive oil, plus more for greasing
1 red onion, finely chopped
2/3 c. ketchup
2/3 c. bread crumbs
2 large eggs
1/2 c. bread-and-butter pickle chips, chopped (I omitted this)
1-1/2 lbs. ground beef
8 oz. cheddar cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 lbs. new red potatoes
3/4 c. heavy cream


1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and lightly oil a rimmed baking sheet. In a medium skillet, heat 2 T. olive oil over medium heat, then add the onion and cook, stirring, until lightly softened, about 3 minutes.
2. Combine the ketchup, bread crumbs, eggs, and pickles in a large bowl; mix in the onions. Crumble in the beef, add the cheese, and stir together. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet and mold into a 4" x 12" loaf. Bake until a meat thermometer reaches 160 degrees, about 35 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, halve the potatoes and place them in a large pot with enough water to cover the potatoes by an inch. Bring this to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes or until tender. Drain the water and return the potatoes to the pot, mashing them with the heavy cream. I also seasoned the potatoes with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
4. Let the meatloaf rest for 5 minutes before serving with the mashed potatoes.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Kitchen Adventures 19.3

When Christmastime rolls around, it usually signals baking time. I have 22 co-workers that I want to give gifts to, but that's a lot of presents to buy! So, I usually end up making goodies for everyone. This year I made this recipe, a sugar cookie recipe form my mom, and the chocolate gooey butter cookies.

These cookies gave me quite a bit of trouble, honestly, but they were worth it. I think I rolled the dough too thin at first, which led to sheets of burnt, crispy cookies. They were delicious dipped in hot chocolate, though. :) After about three pans I finally got the cooking time figured out. Fortunately, this makes quite a few cookies so I had enough for everyone even with all the burnt efforts. So, keep that in mind--don't roll the dough too thin!

These are a nice variation on a traditional sugar cookie. These are especially good for anyone that really likes cinnamon.

This recipe came from Taste of Home Christmas Cookies & Candies, a little cookbook you would get at the grocery story checkout stand. It has some great recipes in it!

Cinnamon Stars


1 c. butter, softened (2 sticks)
2 c. sugar
2 eggs
2 3/4 c. flour
1/3 c. ground cinnamon


In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Combine the flour and cinnamon in a separate bowl, then gradually add this to the creamed mixture. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour or until the dough is easy to handle.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut with a 2 1/2-inch star cookie cutter dipped in sugar. Place 1 inch apart on an ungreased baking sheet. Sprinkle sugar on cookies.
Bake at 350 for 7-10 minutes, adding time if needed, just until edges are firm and bottom of cookies is lightly browned. Cool on wire racks.
Yields 5 dozen cookies.

Kitchen Adventures 19.2

Every day I get delicious recipes sent to my inbox. I usually print out the ones I want to try and add them to my collection. Occasionally, if something looks REALLY good, I will tell my student employees about it to gauge their reaction and see if it is something they would want for a birthday party or other event.

I printed off this recipe back in March. I told one of my students about it and said I would make it sometime. The months drifted by and still I did not make this. Finally, it came time for our December birthday/Christmas/going away party and this seemed like just the right dish for such a large occasion. It was also my birthday and this student's birthday month, so I thought it would be fitting.

This recipe is so delicious it's ridiculous. I unfortunately only got a couple pieces as I left for the rest of the week, but I have a feeling they did not last very long. They are very rich, so tiny pieces are plenty.

This recipe came from Sweet Pea's Kitchen.

Peanut Butter Truffle Brownies


For the brownies:
1 c. butter (2 sticks)
2 c. sugar
3 eggs
3 tsp. vanilla
2/3 c. cocoa powder
1 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
For the peanut butter filling:
1/2 c. butter, softened (1 stick)
1/2 c. creamy peanut butter
2 c. powdered sugar
2/3 tsp. milk
For the ganache topping:
1/4 c. creamy peanut butter
2 c. semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 c. butter (half a stick)
2 T heavy whipping cream


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9x13 metal pan (I used Pyrex and it was fine). Put a long piece of parchment paper in to bottom of the pan, draping the ends. (I did hot do this and they came out fine.). Butter the parchment.
2. In a medium (I used a large) saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Remove from heat and add the sugar; stir to combine. Beat in the eggs and vanilla until combined. Mix in the cocoa, baking powder and salt. Add the flour and stir until just combined and no streaks of dry ingredients remain. Pour this into the prepared pan and spread into an even layer. Bake for about 25-30 minutes. Let cool completely in pan on a cooling rack.
3. While the brownies are cooling, make the peanut butter filling. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the ingredients and beat until smooth. Add more milk if necessary to make it spreadable. Spread in an even layer over the brownies. Place in the refrigerator until filling is set, about 30 minutes.
4. While the filling is setting, make the ganache. Melt and combine the ingredients in a double boiler or in a microwave safe bowl. Pour the ganache over the top and spread it gently. Return to the fridge to set.

Unfortunately I failed to take a picture of this. Picture brownies with peanut butter fudge and chocolate ganache on top. It's delicious!

Kitchen Adventures 19.1

For the amount of baking I do, you would think that I make cakes from scratch all the time. However, you would be incorrect. If I need to make a cake for someone I normally just go get a box mix and whip that up. It's hard to beat those cakes, honestly. There are special occasions, though, where I do go above and beyond and make a cake from scratch.

My boyfriend requested cupcakes for his birthday, half white cake and half chocolate. After I made them he realized that he actually wanted yellow cake cupcakes, but he got white ones so he dealt with it. I used a white cake recipe and a chocolate cake recipe and made them into cupcakes. I then used chocolate store-bought frosting for the white cupcakes and vanilla store-bought frosting for the chocolate cupcakes. I ended up with far more white cupcakes than chocolate cupcakes. I should have divided the batter more with the chocolate cupcakes but I was lazy and wanted to fit them all in one pan. Splitting it up would have been a better idea, but they were still good. I divided the white batter more than I needed to so those cupcakes were tinier than they should have been, but oh well. They were all still delicious.

The white cake recipe came from Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book, 14th edition. The chocolate cake recipe came form Every Day with Rachael Ray.

White Cake


4 egg whites
2 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. butter or shortening, softened (1 stick)
1 3/4 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/3 c. buttermilk or sour milk


1. Allow egg white to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the cake pans of your choosing: 2 9" or 8" rounds, one 9x13" rectangle, or cupcakes. Set the pan(s) aside . In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, then set aside.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, beat batter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar and vanilla and beat until well combined. Add egg whites, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Alternately add flour mixture and buttermilk to butter mixture, beating on low after each addition, just until combined. Pour into prepared pan(s).
3. Bake 9" rounds for 20 to 25 minutes, 8" rounds 25 to 30 minutes, 9x13" pan for 30 to 35 minutes, and about 15 minutes for cupcakes. Check the cupcakes and add time as needed. A wooden toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean. If using cake pans, cool in pans for 10 minutes, then remove from pans and cool thoroughly on wire rack.The 9x13" pan can be cooled completely in the pan on the rack

Chocolate Cake


1 c. flour
1 c. plus 2 T sugar
7 T. unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 large eggs
1/2 c. milk
1 stick unsalted butter melted
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Confectioners' sugar for dusting


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch round cake pan (or prepare cupcake pans).
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, salt and baking soda. Make a well in the center and add the eggs and milk and whisk gently to make a thick batter. Whisk vigorously 30 to 40 strokes.. Whisk in the melted butter and vanilla just until smooth. Scrape into the prepared pan(s).
3. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30 to 35 minutes for the cake and about 20 minutes for the cupcakes. Let cool on a rack for 10 minutes, then invert the cake pan onto the rack. Remove the cake from the pan and invert again. Let cool completely. Dust with the confectioners' sugar to serve.

Kitchen Adventures 18.2

I love cheesecake. Plain cheesecake, flavored cheesecake, cheesecake with toppings--it's all good. I'm always looking for good cheesecake recipes, too. Some call for a water bath, others you just pop into the oven as is. Usually I try to go for the ones that do no require the water bath as I do not have a roaster pan big enough to hold my springform pan. However, I now have a roaster pan (thanks Mom and Dad!) so I might be doing the water bath path more. Regardless, the cheesecake always turns out delicious.

This cheesecake was a hit at our monthly birthday party as well as at a family Christmas. It even went over well with people who do not like pumpkin, which is always a testament to the cheesecake. Both times I made this I did not do a water bath as the below directions will indicate. I instead usde the baking directions for another pumpkin cheesecake recipe. I did not make that other recipe because I did not have all the ingredients and I had all the ingredients for this one. So, you don't have to do the water bath to still have this cheesecake turn out wonderfully.

Oddly enough, the hardest part of making this cheesecake was finding gingersnaps for the crust. I could not find them at Walmart so ended up getting them at my local grocery store while home in Kansas. Then, a couple weeks later, I saw gingersnaps on an end cap at Walmart. Sigh. Oh well, I got the crust made and it was delicious. I also did not have a food processor so the first time I made this I crushed the gingersnaps in a gallon resealable plastic bag with a rolling pin and the second time I used a nut chopper and just chopped four or five cookies at a time. It takes longer, but it works out. I then combined the cookies with the butter in a separate bowl and mixed it up.

The swirl on this turned out much better the second time. I don't know if it was how I drug the knife through the top or where I dolloped the plain cheesecake mix, but regardless it tasted delicious both times.

If you're afraid of making a cheesecake, there's nothing to fear. Just follow the directions and you will be fine.

This recipe came from Every Day with Rachael Ray.

Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake


Cooking spray
25 gingersnap cookies
1 3/4 c. sugar
4 T. unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Three 8-oz. packages cream cheese, cut into chunks and softened
5 large eggs, at room temperature
One 15-oz. can pumpkin puree
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 T. pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp. salt
Boiling water (if doing the water bath)


1. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees. Lightly coat a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray (very lightly). Using a food processor (or whatever you can), grind the cookies with 1/4 cup sugar. (I ground/crushed the cookies and then combined them with the sugar.) Add the butter and pulse to combine. (Or stir with a fork.) Press the mixture into the bottom and halfway up the sides of the prepared pan. Use a flat-bottomed cup for even, light pressure. Bake until firm, 3 minutes. (Only do this if you are doing the water bath.) Transfer to a rack to cool or set aside if not baked.
2. Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and remaining 1 1/2 cups sugar until smooth, about 1 minute. Beat in 2 eggs until blended. Transfer 1/4 cup of the cream cheese mixture to a small bowl and set aside. Add the remaining 3 eggs, the pumpkin, vanilla, pumpkin pie spice and salt to the rest of the mixture and beat until combined, about 2 minutes.
3. Set the springform pan with the cooled crust on a double layer of extra long and wide heavy duty aluminum foil and wrap the foil tightly around the bottom and sides of the pan, making sure there are no cracks or creases where water could enter the pan. Set this in a roasting pan. Pour the cheesecake filling into the crust. Dollop the reserved cream cheese mixture onto the filling and swirl together using the tip of a knife. Transfer the roasting pan to the oven and fill with enough boiling water to reach about halfway up the sides of the pan. Bake the cheesecake until the center is slightly wobbly but the edges are firm to the touch, about 1 1/4 hours or 75 minutes.  ***If you are not doing the water bath, fill the prepared crust with the filling and then dollop the reserved cream cheese mixture onto the top and swirl with the tip of a knife. Place the pan onto the oven rack and bake for about an hour, checking when nearing the hour to ensure the top is not too browned.
4. Transfer the roasting pan with the cheesecake to a rack and let cool for 45 minutes. Remove the springform pan, discard the foil and let the cheesecake cool on the rack for 3 hours. Run a knife around the edges to loosen the cake. Wrap the pan in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. ***If you did not do the water bath, simply remove the pan from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool. I let it cool about 3 hours total. I ran a knife around the edge about the 2 1/2 hour mark, just to make sure the cheesecake did not get stuck to the pan but it was still fairly set by that point. Wrap the pan in plastic wrap and refrigerate it overnight.
5. Remove the springform

Cheesecakes do take quite a bit of time, but they are well worth the effort. See the image below for the lovely decadence that is a pumpkin swirl cheesecake.