Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sweet & Salty Treats

If you enjoy making holiday treats to give as gifts to family and friends during the holidays?  If so, you must give this recipe a try.  The ingredients blend into a combination of sweet and salty and crunch that will have you reaching for seconds.  The broken shards of the bark make a lovely presentation.  


These treats will have folks thinking that you slaved for hours... but you and I will have a little secret, knowing how easy these are to make.  I promise not to tell if you will!


Sweet & Salty Treats

Ingredients:

1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
3 4-oz bars bittersweet chocolate baking bars
3 4-oz bars white chocolate baking bars
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt

Directions:



Place pecans in a single layer on a baking sheet.
Bake at 350 degrees F. for 8-10 minutes or until toasted.


Line a 17x12 jelly roll plan with aluminum foil.


Break each chocolate bar into 8 equal squares.
Arrange in a checkerboard pattern in the jelly roll pan, alternating white and dark chocolate.


Bake at 250 degrees for 5 minutes, or until the chocolate is melted.



Remove the pan from the oven and using a toothpick, swirl the chocolate into a marbled design.
Sprinkle evenly with the toasted pecans and sea salt.
Chill 1 hour until the mixture hardens.
Break into pieces.
Store in airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to a month.


Notes:  I used Ghiradelli chocolate.  Any premium chocolate should work, just don't use candy coating.

and that's What's Cooking at Cathy's ~ Enjoy!

Famous Oh! Cookies

Psst!  Need a great cookie recipe to use for leaving by the hearth when Santa comes to visit your house?

If so, I guarantee the man in red will be searching your kitchen for seconds if you leave him a plate of these cookies!  I'm betting he might even leave you an extra something in your stocking because these are so awesome!

This recipe came with rave reviews and I am here to tell you, these cookies deserve every word of praise uttered.  They will vanish from your cookie jar in record time!

I inquired about the name of the cookies and am told that originally the cookies didn't have a name but everyone  who tasted them would exclaim "oh man (or insert various expletitives) these are good!"  One bite and you will agree!  You will equally love the dough if you are inclined to snitch cookie dough (yes,I eat cookie dough, I admit it).  The baked results have a marvelous light and crisp texture that is addicting.

A big thank you to Lynn Ogle, the creator of the recipe and also to Andi Miller for sharing the recipe with me!  Lynn's recipe can also be found in the Junior League of Evansville cookbook.

Before we get baking, I want to pass along a little tip.  If you're like me and decide on a whim to bake and your butter is rock hard from the refrigerator, pull out your soft cheese grater and grate the butter right into your mixing bowl.  It will work like magic, creating more surface space allowing the butter to soften up faster.



Famous Oh! Cookies
Makes approximately 4 1/2 dozen

Ingredients:

2 sticks butter (don't substitute margine, use the real thing)
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 cup chunky peanut butter (must be chunky)
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cup rolled oats
1 cup chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat oven to 365 degrees F.
In a large mixing bowl, cream butter, sugar and brown sugar until light and fluffy.
Add the two eggs and mix well.
Mix in the peanut butter until well blended.  Be sure to use Chunky, not smooth.

Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, vanilla and salt.  Mix thoroughly.


Stir in the oats and chocolate chips until they are evenly distributed.
Drop by rounded (heaping) tablespoon fulls onto an ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake for 12 minutes.
Remove from oven and cool 5 minutes before removing from the pan.

I also found that my dark baking sheet resulted in a better browning of the cookies, so use a dark baking sheet if you have it.  If not, you can lengthen the baking time by a minute or two to compensate. 



...and that my friends is What's Cooking at Cathy's ~ Enjoy!


Saturday, November 19, 2011

Chicken Pot Pie


Do you like comfort food?  Who doesn't?  I think we all have our favorite dishes that we consider comfort foods.  I find I gravitate to comfort foods, especially when the colder months of the year roll around. Today was one of those days and I am craving one of my favorites, Chicken Pot Pie.

I am a big fan of purchased pot pies, especially the brand by MC that you nuke in the microwave in the box for 6 minutes and presto, dinner!  The only problem is that there just doesn't seem to be much filling.  Don't get me wrong, I like crust as much as anyone, maybe even more than the average person, but come on, is it too much to ask to have more than 5 chunks of chicken in my pie?

I decided to try to do something I've never attempted..make chicken pot pie.  I  do most of my cooking on the weekend so meal prep during the work week isn't a chore that gets pushed to the back burner in favor of something quick and easy, like fast food, which we all know isn't good for us.

Armed with a list and determination, I head to my local grocery for ingredients.  Lucky for me,  they had bone in chicken breasts for 89 cents a pound.  I  bought a family pack that contained 4 huge chicken breasts.  Those were some mighty busty chickens, if you ask me (don't get me started about the hormones they give animals that we eat!).  Anyway,  I cooked all four of them and saved the meat from two of them to freeze and use later in some homemade chicken noodle soup (another cold weather comfort food).

I used frozen puff pastry for the top crust and I was satisfied with the results.  I was a little skeptical since "pie" in my book means top and bottom crusts, but I found that I didn't miss he bottom crust at all on these gems.  I will let you know in advance that you will need to taste and readjust seasonings because I found the basic recipe too bland for my liking. 

Chicken Pot Pie

Ingredients:

2 large bone in, skin on chicken breasts
1 large onion
6 stalks of celery, including tops, cut into 4" pieces
4 carrots cut into 4" pieces
1 32 oz. box of low sodium chicken broth
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon rosemary

8 Tablespoons butter
1/2 cup flour
4 cups chicken stock
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup celery, diced
1 cup carrot, diced
2 medium potatoes, diced
1 cup frozen peas
2 chopped cooked chicken breasts
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon thyme
1 package frozen puff pastry

Directions:

In a large pot, place the chicken breasts and next 8 ingredients.  Heat over medium heat until chicken is cooked through.  I let it simmer on the stove for about an hour, maybe a little longer. 
Remove chicken to a platter and set aside to cool.
Using a colander, strain the contents over a large bowl. Discard the veggies that have been cooked to mush.  They were there to enrich the broth, not to be eaten or incorporated.
Pour the strained liquid into a fat separator.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Put the puff pastry out to thaw.
In the large pot, over medium heat, melt the butter.


Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture smells fragrant and nutty.
Slowly pour in the stock, whisking until smooth and bubbly.
Bring mixture to a boil.
Add the onion, celery, carrot, bay leaf and thyme, cooking the vegetables until tender.  About 5 minutes.


Add the potatoes, chicken, peas and salt and pepper and cook until the potatoes are tender, stirring frequently to prevent sticking.


Remove from the heat and cool.  Remove the bay leaf and discard.
Taste (carefully, it is hot) and adjust the seasonings a little at a time to fit your taste. 
I ended up adding a teaspoon more salt and  pepper and  1/2 teaspoon more thyme.

Divide the mixture equally among oven proof bowls.  I used small ramekins (just the right size for lunch), my two small Emile Henry pie plates and a Corning petite pan that I had.  This makes quite a bit. 


Unfold the puff pastry and cut to fit the tops of your oven proof bowls. 
Moisten the rims of your bowls and stretch the pastry over the filling, pressing along the edges to seal. 


Line a cookie sheet with foil.
Move the bowls to the cookie sheet for baking.  These will very likely run over, so the foil will save you on cleanup!






Bake until the pastry is puffed and golden brown.  It should take about 20-25 minutes. 
Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Don't these look delish?




...and that's What's Cooking at Cathy's ~ Enjoy!












Sunday, November 13, 2011

Maple Pumpkin Pie

Two weekends ago, I cooked my Halloween pumpkins and froze the puree for later.  Well, today was on of those "later" moments.  I saw a recipe for Maple Pumpkin Pie that I just had to try, with a little twist to make it my own.  If you are looking for something just a little different to grace your holiday table, give this recipe a try.

I must also admit that I had another reason to try this new recipe.  You see, I really wanted to play with my new kitchen "toys" and to do that, I needed to play in pie dough! 

My new "toys" are Pie Crust Cutters.  Santa Wanda magically arranged for these to appear on my doorstep when I was out of town.  Yes, I know it's not even Thanksgiving yet, but Santa always knows....and in this case, these "toys" are perfect to have to dress up your pies for Thanksgiving.  I love, love, love these little gadgets and now I want to see if they have them for other seasons or holidays! 


Maple Pumpkin Pie

Ingredients:

Basic Pie Crust - You will want a two crust recipe for this so you have enough for the shaped cut outs.
2 large eggs
2 cups pumpkin puree (or 1-15 oz. can of pure pumpkin)
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup pure maple syrup (not the imitation stuff you put on pancakes)
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
1 Tablespoon pumpkin pie spice

Directions:

Make your favorite two crust recipe.  If you don't have a favorite, you can use the recipe that accompanies my blog entry for apple pie.  Here's the link for easy reference: 
http://whatscookingatcathys.blogspot.com/2011_10_01_archive.html

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. 

In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs, pumpkin puree, and cream.  Mix in the maple syrup, brown sugar and pumpkin pie spice.  It will be thick.  Set it aside.

Roll out your pie crust, lay it in the pie plate and crimp the edge.
I use my corning ware pie plate for this pie rather than my deep dish because I want to be sure that the pie sets up properly.  You may notice from the photos that the pumpkin isn't as orange as you'd think it should be.  That is because it is a home cooked pumpkin rather than from a can.  It will look fine once it is baked.

Pour the pumpkin mixture into the crust and place on lowest oven rack.  Bake until the center is set, 60 to 70 minutes.
 











While pie is baking, roll out the remaining pie crust and make the cut outs.
Arrange the shapes on a parchment lined cookie sheet. 
Place in the oven on the top shelf and bake for 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned.




When the decorative cut outs are ready, remove them from the oven and sprinkle them with a cinnamon and sugar mixture and let cool. 





When the pie is finished baking, remove from the oven and place on a rack to cool.





Arrange the cutouts attractively on top of the crust.

Serve with a dollop of maple whipped cream along side.    Drizzle the plate with a little maple syrup to add a special touch.

To make the maple whipped cream, stir in a couple of teaspoons of pure maple syrup to freshly whipped cream.









 ...and that my friends, is What's Cooking at Cathy's ~ Enjoy!





Saturday, November 5, 2011

BBQ Hot Dogs

This recipe is not exotic nor is it necessarily healthy, but for me it is comfort food.  It is one of those dishes that reminds me of home and family. 

This is easy to mix up and doesn't take a lot of unique ingredients.  I kid you not when I say that I was salivating with anticipation.  I had been thinking about fixing this all day and couldn't wait to get my fork into it (okay, I didn't wait, I had to sample it while it was simmering).  These BBQ dogs make a quick supper to warm you up on a chilly evening.

I don't know where the recipe originated, it was something that we had at home when I was growing up.   Give it a try, I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

BBQ Hot Dogs

Ingredients:

1 package of hot dogs, your normal brand will do
1 medium onion, minced
1 green pepper, chopped
3/4 cup catsup
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons margarine
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
2 Tablespoons prepared mustard
1 Tablespoon Worchestershire Sauce

Directions:

Slash hot dogs, but not all the way through.
Brown the hot dogs in a large skillet.  I typically add a little olive oil to prevent sticking.
Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine.
Simmer 15 minutes until everything is heated through.

Serve with a side of mashed potatoes and a green vegetable.


....and that's What's Cooking at Cathy's ~ Enjoy!

Spicy Honey Glazed Chicken



Spicy Honey Glazed Chicken

Ingredients:

2 large skinless, boneless chicken breasts
2 teaspoons olive oil

Rub:

2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon chipotle chili powder

Glaze:

1/2 cup honey
1 Tablespoon cider vinegar

Directions:

Combine the Rub spices in a medium sized zip top plastic bag and mix well.

Remove any excess fat from the chicken pieces. Cut them in half and pat them dry.
Drizzle the olive oil over the chicken pieces and rub the good with your hands to coat all the pieces.
Toss the chicken pieces into the bag along with the spices.  Press out most of the air, zip the top closed and work the chicken and spices until all of the chicken pieces are covered thoroughly.
At this point you can refrigerate them to marinate for a while or cook them.

Grill the chicken on both sides until cooked through.
While the chicken is cooking, warm the honey in the microwave so it's not so thick.  Add the vinegar and mix thoroughly. 

Once the chicken is cooked, brush the chicken with the honey mixture.  Watch it closely, turn the chicken and repeat on the other side.    It will smoke and make a mess of your grill, but trust me it is so worth it.

I sliced up some yellow squash, zucchini and onions, tossed them with some olive oil and Mrs. Dash and grilled them along with the chicken for a tasty side dish.

....and that's What's Cooking at Cathy's ~ Enjoy!

About Me

My photo

My career is in IT.  Cooking and photography are among a few of my hobbies. In my spare time, which is most weekends I tie on my apron and exercise my creativity by trying new recipes and adapting them to my tastes. I also have a passion for photography that I incorporate by taking photographs to go along with the recipes I post on my blog.  
I also enjoy travel, both near and abroad. Meeting new people, new experiences and cultures and oh, not to mention the food! I hope you enjoy my blog.