Thursday, October 30, 2014

Grandma's Shortbread Cookies

"This family recipe was given to us by my Grandma.  I wait all year for the holidays, because I know that my sweet husband will make these cookies for me.  They are the best shortbread cookies I've ever tasted!"

2 cups softened butter
2 cups powdered sugar
2 eggs
3 teaspoons almond extract
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
5 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
Cream together butter and powdered sugar.  Add eggs and extracts.  In a separate bowl, combine flour and salt and gradually add to creamed mixture.  Form dough into 2 disks and wrap in plastic wrap.  Chill dough for about 30 minutes.  Roll out on a floured work surface to 1/4 inch thickness and cut into shapes using cookie cutters.  Place cookies on a non-stick baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 12-16 minutes or until the edges of the cookies are just golden brown.  Cool completely and frost with Almond Butter-Cream Icing.  (Recipe follows.)

Almond Butter-Cream Icing:
2 sticks or 1 cup of butter, softened
1 cup of shortening
2 pound bag of powdered sugar
2 teaspoons almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
food coloring
Light corn syrup or water to thin icing to desired consistency*

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together butter and shortening. Add powdered sugar a little at a time until all combined. Add almond and vanilla extracts.  Add food coloring, if desired.   Frost cookies using decorating bag and star tip or spread icing with an off-set spatula.

*TIP:  If icing is too thick, you may add light corn syrup or water, 1 Tablespoon at a time, until the icing is the consistency you want.     

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Candy Corn Cookies

"These cookies would be perfect for your Trick-or-Treaters, Fall Bake Sales or Halloween Class Parties!" 

1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar*
3/4 cup brown sugar*  
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2-1/4 cups flour*
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
11 snack-size bars from (9.45 ounce) bag of Hershey's candy corn snack-size candy bars, chopped
candy corn candies for decorating
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugars.  Add vanilla extract (and water if High Altitude*).  Mix in eggs until thoroughly combined.  In a separate bowl, mix together flour, baking soda and salt.  Add to creamed mixture a little at a time until completely combined.  Stir in chopped candy bars.  Spoon by heaping Tablespoons onto greased cookie sheets, flattening slightly.  Bake at 375 degrees for 8-9 minutes.  Remove cookies from the oven and immediately firmly press candy corn into warm cookies to decorate.  
*If you live at High Altitude like I do:  Increase flour to 2-1/2 cups; increase both sugars to 2/3 cup each; and add 2 teaspoons of water when you add the vanilla.  
Makes about 2-1/2 dozen cookies.
Chopped Hershey's Candy Corn snack-size candy bars (found with the Halloween candy) 

Friday, October 24, 2014

Crunchy Chicken Casserole

"This is another yummy recipe that my sister shared with me.  I made it recently and my husband and I LOVED it!  It is a perfect casserole to make as the weather gets cooler.  I promise that you will add this recipe to your list of favorite comfort food dinners!" 

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
1 (14.5 ounce) can chicken broth
1 (8 ounce) package of shredded cheddar cheese, plus desired amount of additional shredded cheddar cheese for sprinkling on top
4 cups cooked chicken, diced*
1 (14.5 ounce) can of sliced carrots, drained
1 (2 ounce) jar pimentos
1 package of Stove Top boxed stuffing mix, any flavor; prepared according to package directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat.  Stir in flour and cook for 1-2 minutes.  Add broth, stirring constantly until mixture thickens.  Lower heat, add 8 ounce package of cheese and stir until cheese is melted.  Remove from the heat.  Stir in chicken, carrots and pimentos.  Spread in a shallow 2-quart casserole dish that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.  Sprinkle with desired amount of shredded cheddar cheese.  Spoon prepared stuffing over the top of the casserole.  Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes.   

*You can use rotisserie chicken or leftover chicken for this recipe.           

Friday, October 17, 2014

Mom's Oven Stew

"A hearty beef and vegetable stew that is perfect for the cool, Fall weather.  It is comfort food at it's most delicious!"  
1-1/2 to 2 pounds of beef stew meat
6 medium-sized potatoes, cut into chunks (I used Yukon gold.)
3-4 stalks of celery, sliced
3-4 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 (14.5 ounce) can of diced tomatoes, not drained (I used tomatoes with basil, garlic and oregano.)
3 Tablespoons tapioca
1 Tablespoon salt
1 Tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 slice of bread, torn into pieces
1 (.87 ounce) packet of brown gravy mix
1 cup water
Place all ingredients in a Dutch oven or other oven-safe pot.  Stir until completely combined.  Cover and bake at 250 degrees for 4-1/2 to 5 hours.
Serving suggestion:  We love to eat this yummy stew with fresh baked bread.   

Friday, October 10, 2014

Chia's Cinnamon Rolls

"These are my hubby's world famous cinnamon rolls or at least they're famous in our little world.  They are truly the most delicious cinnamon rolls that I've ever had.  My family loves them and can't wait until he makes them for us.  They are a lot of work, but they are so worth it!" 

Cinnamon Rolls:
- 1 Cup milk
- 2 Eggs, room temperature (Leave eggs out for an hour or so prior to beginning)
- 1/3 Cup butter
- 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- 5 Cups bleached, all-purpose, flour, divided (2 Cups + 3 Cups)
- 1 Teaspoon Salt
- ½ Cup white sugar
- 1 Package (¼ oz) Active dry yeast (I use rapid rise)

Cinnamon Roll Filling:
- 1 Cup brown sugar, packed
- 2 ½ Tablespoons ground cinnamon
- ½ Cup butter, softened, divided (¼ Cup + ¼ Cup)

Cream Cheese Frosting/Icing:
- 8 oz Cream Cheese, softened
- ½ Cup (1 Stick) butter, softened
- 3 ½ to 4 Cups powdered (confectioner's) sugar
- 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

1. In a large mixing bowl, combine 2 Cups of the flour and the package of active dry yeast.

2. In a small saucepan, heat and stir the 1 Cup milk, ½ Cup white sugar, 1/3 Cup butter, and 1 Teaspoon salt, over LOW heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture is warm (120 to 130 degrees F).  Use a candy/ cooking thermometer and watch it closely. As soon as the mixture reaches 120 degrees F, remove from heat.

3. Add the warm milk mixture to the 2 Cups flour and yeast in the mixing bowl, along with the 2 eggs, which should be at room temperature, and the 1 Teaspoon of vanilla extract. Using a stand mixer fitted with a “Paddle” or mixing attachment, beat on LOW speed for approximately 30 seconds, or until the ingredients start to combine with the flour.

4. Scrape the sides of the bowl down and then beat on medium to high speed for 3 minutes.

5. Remove the “Paddle” attachment and attach the “Dough Hook”. Using the dough hook, mix in as much of the remaining 3 Cups of flour as you can, adding a little at a time, until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl and forms a ball on the dough hook. At this point, you may need to turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead it by hand until it is the right texture:
- The dough should be smooth, elastic and slightly tacky/moist to the touch.
 - It SHOULD NOT be firm (like cookie dough) or dry.

6. Shape the dough into a ball and place in a lightly greased (with cooking oil or spray), non-metallic bowl. Cover with plastic wrap (I usually lightly spray the plastic wrap so it doesn't stick to the dough as it rises); Let dough rise in a warm place till double (about an hour). 

 7. While the dough is rising, prepare the filling by combining, in a medium sized bowl, the brown sugar, cinnamon and ¼ Cup of the softened butter. Cut the butter into the sugar and cinnamon until the mixture resembles “course meal”. You want the sugar and cinnamon to be incorporated into the butter so that the mixture has a fairly uniform color and texture; Set mixture aside.

8. Once the dough has risen, “punch” it down and turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface. Roll the dough, using a lightly floured rolling pin, into an approximately 16-inch by 21-inch rectangle, which is roughly ¼ – inch thick.

 9. Spread the remaining ¼ Cup softened butter evenly over the top of the dough (I use my hands so that I can gently spread the butter to keep from mis-shaping the dough during this process), leaving approximately 1-inch along the edge of both of the LONG sides of the dough unbuttered. This is so that you have an unbuttered edge to seal after you roll the dough.

 10. Sprinkle the cinnamon roll filling evenly over the buttered portions of the dough, again, leaving around a 1-inch gap along the edge of both of the long sides that do not have any butter or filling on them.

11. Roll the dough, starting from one of the LONG sides (so that you have around a 21-inch long roll when you are done), making sure to keep the roll fairly tight, without deforming the dough, until you reach the far side of the dough. PINCH the seam of the dough together lightly to hold it shut and then place the roll SEAM DOWN for the next step.

12. Using a length of DENTAL FLOSS, slide the floss under one end of the roll. Cut individual roll sections, each approximately 1 ½ inches wide, off of the roll by wrapping the dental floss up and over the top of the roll, pulling each end of the dental floss in the opposite direction, across the top of the roll, so that the floss cleanly cuts through the roll. Slide the floss under the roll again, measure approximately 1 ½ inch and repeat the process to cut around 12 individual rolls.

13. Place the rolls, flat side UP, in a lightly greased or sprayed, 13 x 9 inch baking pan, leaving an even amount of space between each roll to give them room to rise/bake.

14. Loosely cover cinnamon rolls with plastic wrap and set in a warm place until nearly doubled in size (again, approximately 1 hour). While the rolls are raising, PREHEAT oven to 375 degrees F.

15. Once the rolls are raised, remove the plastic wrap, brush with additional melted butter, if desired, and bake for approximately 18 to 20 minutes or until the tops of the rolls are a nice, deep golden brown. Remove rolls from oven and cool for approximately 5 minutes before frosting/icing.

1. In a mixing bowl, cream together the softened cream cheese and butter, along with the 1 Teaspoon of vanilla extract, until thoroughly combined.

2. Mix in as much of the powdered sugar, adding a little bit at a time, to get the frosting/icing to the desired spreading consistency (A little thinner consistency is good for drizzling, while a little firmer consistency is good for spreading – this is kind of a personal taste/preference thing).

3. Spread/drizzle the icing over the cinnamon rolls as desired. You could spread the frosting over the rolls while still in the pan, then cut and remove OR you could cut the rolls, remove them from the baking pan and place them on a cooling rack and then drizzle the icing over the top so that the icing runs down the sides – again, this is personal preference.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Steve's Go-To Skillet Dinner

"My sister told me that this recipe is one of my brother-in-law's favorites.  It's one that he goes back to again and again.  I made it for my hubby recently and I can see why.  It's simple, only needs a few ingredients and is definitely Man-approved!"   

1 link of Hillshire Farm smoked sausage, sliced
3 or 4 large russet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
1/2 of an onion, chopped
1 green pepper, diced
cooking oil

Heat a small amount of cooking oil in a large skillet.  Add potatoes, onions and peppers and cook until tender.  (The vegetables will cook faster if you cover the pan with a lid.)  Add sausage and heat through.  Serve with ketchup, spicy mustard or Tabasco (or all three).