Friday, December 30, 2011

Comfort Food: Turkey A La King

My mom made most of the "A La Kings" as I was growing up - chicken, turkey, tuna.  These dishes were  primarily made with butter, flour, milk, broth, meat,  seasoning, and pimentos. These simple ingredients made a delicious sauce. The "A La Kings" were always served over toast.

The ingredients haven't changed all that much in this recipe.  I have omitted the pimentos and used mushrooms, added a little of this and that to the seasoning, used a little cream instead of milk, and added some white cooking wine.    Not only do I serve my turkey a la king over toast, I also serve it over noodles, rice, and biscuit halves.

A La King meals are a tasty way to use  up leftovers and are great for catch up days.  Catch up days are when I cook meals that are relatively inexpensive.   Best of all it is quick and easy to make.



                                                   Turkey A La King


Ingredients:

¼ cup unsalted butter plus 2 tablespoons
2 cups sliced baby bella mushrooms
1/3-cup flour
1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
1-teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon chipotle chili powder
1-3/4 cups chicken broth
¼ cup white cooking wine
2 cups diced turkey breast cooked
½ cup heavy cream
Snipped chives for garnish (optional)


Directions:

1. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a skillet.  Add mushrooms and sauté.  Remove from heat and set aside.
2. Melt the remaining butter in a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat.
3. Add the flour to the melted butter and stir. Cook for 1 minute. Add the dried parsley flakes, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, ground black pepper, and chili powder to the flour mixture.  Stir and cook for 1 minute.
4.  Whisk in the chicken broth and white cooking wine.  Bring to a boil stirring frequently.
5.Add the diced chicken and mushrooms to the sauce.  Stir, cover and simmer for 20 minutes stirring occasionally.
6. Stir in the cream and heat through.
7. Serve over noodles, rice or split biscuits.  Garnish with snipped chives, if desired.

Serves 6


Sauce

Diced Turkey




Turkey A La King




Wednesday, December 28, 2011

White Hot Chocolate

Last night, the kids and I returned from our day after after Christmas shopping.  To warm us up, I made us cups of Hot White Chocolate.

I use whole milk flavored with cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.   To this mixture I add vanilla extract and Nestle's Premier White Morsels which are vanilla-flavored baking pieces.  The result is a  sweet, rich,  creamy cup of  hot chocolate.  This drink is perfect for anyone with a sweet tooth.


                                                     White Hot Chocolate

Ingredients:

3 cups whole milk
3 inches cinnamon stick
4 whole cloves
1 nutmeg sliver
1-teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup Nestle Premier White Morsels


Directions:

1. Place the milk in a heavy-bottomed 3-quart saucepan.
2. Bring to a simmer over low heat whisking occasionally. This prevents the milk from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
3.  Remove the milk from the heat.  Add the cinnamon stick, cloves and nutmeg sliver to the milk.  Steep for 10 minutes.
4. Strain the milk and place it back in the saucepan and return to a simmer over low heat.
5. Whisk in the vanilla extract and white morsels.  Whisk until the white morsels have melted.
6. Remove from heat and pour into mugs.

Makes 3 servings




Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Cloves

Straining Milk



Monday, December 26, 2011

Laura Bush's Cowboy Cookies



I baked some Cowboy cookies over the holidays  and they were delicious.  I found this recipe when I was surfing the web.  In reading over the recipe, the cookies sounded so good I had to make some.  I was not disappointed.  They are chewy cookies with lots of chocolate chips, nuts and coconut.  In my book, this recipe is a keeper.


                                                  Laura Bush's Cowboy Cookies
                                                        Christmas-Cookies.com

Ingredients:

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cup butter (at room temperature)
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
1-1/2 cups packed light-brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 cups semisweet chocolate chips
3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
2 cups sweetened flake coconut
2 cups chopped pecans

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a bowl.
3.  In an 8-quart bowl, beat butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy, 1 minute.
4.  Gradually beat in sugars; beat to combine, 2 minutes.
5.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each.  Beat in vanilla extract.
6.  Stir in flour mixture until just combined.
7.  Add chocolate chips, oats, coconut, and pecans.
8.  For each cookie, drop 1/4 cup of dough onto ungreased baking sheets spacing 3 inches apart.
9.  Bake for 17 to 19 minutes until edges are lightly browned.  Rotate sheet halfway through.
10.  Remove cookies form rack to cool.

Makes about 3 dozen cookies

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas




Merry Christmas  Everyone


I hope you have a Very Merry and Blessed Christmas.






Friday, December 23, 2011

Eggnog Chai Mix

This is a great seasonal warm-up.  A nice cup of tea blended with the flavors of the season - eggnog, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves.  It is quick and easy to make.  Just heat up some milk, add the mix and stir.  Result: You have a great tasting cup of Chai.

Eggnog Chai Mix is also a quick and easy gift from your kitchen.  I put the mix  in an airtight container, attach an instruction card, decorate it with a nice bow and voila - I have  a tasty gift.  You can also put it in cellophane Holiday bags.





                                                          Eggnog Chai Mix


Ingredients:

3 cups sugar
1 (5oz) carton powdered Aspen Eggnog mix
2 cups unsweetened instant tea
1-½ cups powdered nondairy coffee creamer
1-¼ cups nonfat dry milk powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1-teaspoon ground nutmeg
1-teaspoon ground cardamom
1-teaspoon ground cloves
1-teaspoon ground allspice


Directions:

1.Stir together all of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl until well mixed.
2. Spoon a medium portion of the mixture into a blender.  Cover and process until the mixture is powdery.   Repeat until all the mixture has been powdered.
3. Transfer to an airtight container.
4.To Prepare:  Place 3 tablespoons of the mixture in a mug.  Add hot milk and stir well.

Yields about 8 cups of mix


Stirring All Ingredients

Ready to Blend


Eggnog Chai Mix

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Macadamia Nut Bread

Macadamia Nut Bread is my favorite quick bread for the holidays.  I often refer to the bread as my Hawaiian Fruit Cake.  I first discovered this recipe in the December 1980 issue of "Redbook" magazine.  The recipe was submitted by Betsy Balsley, who was the food editor of the Los Angeles Times.

I have not changed a thing in this recipe all the years I have been making it.  To me, it is perfect as is.  The little loaves are flavorful and very moist.   I cut the loaves in thin slices as serve them with a hot beverage.   I often double the recipe to give as  Christmas Presents.

Mele Kalikimaka





                                                                        Macadamia Nut Bread
                                                           "Redbook" December 1980 Betsy Balsley


Ingredients:
1 (20-ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained very well
1(9-ounce) jar macadamia nuts, chopped (about 1 1/4 cups)
1 cup packaged sweetened flaked coconut
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt (reduce to 1/4 teaspoon if nuts are salted)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Chopped Macadamia Nuts

















Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
2. Grease three 5x3 inch loaf pans and line bottoms with wax paper.  You can also line the pans with aluminum foil and grease.
3. Mix pineapple, nuts and coconut in a large bowl.

Pineapple, Nuts, and Coconut
















4. Whisk the flour, salt, and baking powder together in a medium bowl.
5. Pour the flour mixture over the pineapple mixture. Add sugar and mix gently until nuts and fruits are well coated.





Flour Mixture and Sugar Over Pineapple Mixture
Nuts and Fruit Mixed Well



6. Beat the eggs in a small bowl.  When foamy stir in the vanilla extract.

Foamy Eggs

















7. Pour the eggs over the nut mixture and stir until well mixed.


Eggs Poured Over Nut Mixture


















Batter in Pans

8. Spoon the batter into the prepared pans.
9. Bake 60-70 minutes.  Remove from the oven and cool on wire racks.
10. Wrap in plastic wrap or aluminum foil.
11. Store in the refrigerator.

Makes 3 small loaves.



Cooling








Little Loaf of Goodness

Monday, December 19, 2011

Holiday Baking: Peppermint Sugar Cookies

Peppermint Sugar Cookies are my seasonal favorite.   They have become a Saucier Family Tradition.  These cookies are easy to make.   You start by  making a basic sugar cookie dough flavored with peppermint extract and then stir in crushed candy canes. These sugar cookies are drop cookies which are decorated with a crosshatch pattern and specks of  crushed peppermint candy. The cookies have a tender/crisp  texture with a refreshing peppermint flavor.   To me, they are a simple yet festive holiday cookie.








                                Peppermint Sugar Cookies


Ingredients

2 ½ cups all – purpose flour
1-teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
1-cup sugar
1 large egg
1 egg yolk
1-tablespoon  milk
1-teaspoon peppermint extract
½ cup crushed peppermint candy canes or peppermint candy
¼ cup powdered sugar


Directions

1. In a mixing bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
2. Place butter and sugar in a mixing bowl and beat until light in color.
3. Beat the egg and egg yolk in a small bowl.
4. Add egg mixture, milk, and peppermint extract to the butter mixture. Beat until combined.
5. Reduce speed on mixer and add flour mixture a small amount at a time. Do not add more flour until previous flour mixture has been incorporated.
6. Stir crushed candies into the dough.
7. Gather the dough and form into a ball. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour.
8. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
9. Position rack in center of oven.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
10. Pour the ¼ cup of powdered sugar on a plate. Scoop out one tablespoon of dough and form it into a ball. Roll the ball in the powdered sugar and place on the prepared sheet. Leave about a 2-inch space between cookies.
11. Using tines of a fork flatten the cookies forming a crosshatch pattern.
12. Bake the cookies for 12-13 minutes rotating the pan halfway through the baking time. The cookies should be lightly colored.
13. Let the cookies cool for 2 minutes then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.
14. Store in an airtight container.

Makes about 3 dozen cookies

Cookie Dough

Measuring Out Dough

Rolled Into Ball

Step 1: Crosshatch

Step 2: Crosshatch

Crosshatch

Cooling


Friday, December 16, 2011

Pecan Pralines

My husband's favorite Christmas sweet is Pecan Pralines.  They are  delicious confections made from  lots of  butter, sugar, cream and of course pecans.  My favorite recipe is from "Chef Paul Prudhomme's Louisiana Kitchen."   The pecans taste great when they are cooked in the syrup and not just added at the end.  Using both pecan pieces and pecan halves make the pralines extra good and crunchy.

When making pralines, I have all the ingredients premeasured, cookie sheets lined, and all my equipment - spoons and candy thermometer ready to go.   I also read and re read the recipe.  The cooking process requires your undivided attention - you are constantly stirring the syrup mixture.  Use a wooden spoon when you are making the pralines.   The candy needs to be stirred while it is hot and a wooden spoon will not absorb the heat like a metal spoon.





I always have a bowl of ice water handy.  They syrup can "spit" at you while you are stirring, or you can get some on your hands as you are spoon dropping the pralines.

Last, but not least,  I have a good candy thermometer.  It saves me alot of frustration.   I have not been  able to master the softball stage in candy cooking.


                                                                      Pecan Pralines
                                             From Chef Paul Prudhomme's Louisiana Kitchen


Special Equipment:  Candy Thermometer, Wooden Spoon

Ingredients:
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup milk
1 cup chopped pecans
2 cups pecan halves
2 tablespoons vanilla extract


Directions:
1.  Line  two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
2. In a 3- quart  heavy bottomed saucepan melt the butter over medium to medium high heat.
3. Add the sugars and the cream to the melted butter.  Cook 1 minute stirring constantly with a wooden spoon.
4. Add the milk and chopped pecans.  Cook 4 minutes more, stirring constantly.  Reduce the heat to medium and continue cooking and stirring 5 minutes.
5. Add the pecan halves and vanilla.  Continue stirring and cooking until the mixture reaches 240 degrees on the candy thermometer.
6. Remove the pan from the heat.  Quickly and carefully drop the batter onto the cookie sheet(s)  by heaping spoonfuls.  Use a second spoon to scoop the batter off the first.
7. Cool completely and store the pralines in an airtight container, or wrap each praline in plastic wrap or foil.

Makes about 24 pralines



Cooking and Stirring

Spooning Out Pralines

Bowl of Ice Water  

 Pecan Pralines


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cherry Pistachio Bread

My son discovered this bread at Whole Foods Market.  It was soo delicious, I decided I needed to make some.  I got out my bread machine and started creating.   After many trials and errors, I hit on a delectable sweet bread.  It is a nice chocolaty bread, with a delicate cherry flavor that is not overly sweet.  Great for toast and spreading with butter or Nutella.



                                     Chocolate Cherry Pistachio Bread

Special Equipment:  Bread Machine

Ingredients for a 1 1/2- pound loaf:

1 cup of lukewarm water plus 2 tablespoons (80-90 degrees)
1 egg
1-teaspoon salt
¼ cup sugar
2 tablespoons butter softened
1-teaspoon vanilla extract
3 ¼ cups bread flour
2 tablespoons dry milk
1 ½ teaspoons Bread Machine or Active Dry Yeast
1 cup  milk chocolate chips
2/3 cup of chopped dried cherries
2/3 cup of coarsely chopped pistachios


Directions:
1. Place the first nine ingredients (stop at milk chocolate chips) in the bread pan in the order indicated by the manufacturer.
2. Place the bread pan in the bread maker.  Select the Sweet Bread setting, light crust, 1 1/2 pound loaf and start.
3. Add the semisweet chocolate chips, chopped dried cherries, and chopped pistachios in the dough when the mix-in tone sounds or 5-10 minutes at the end of the final knead cycle.
4. Remove the bread from the pan when the cycle is complete.    Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
5. Cool the bread completely before slicing.


Chopped Pistachios



Chopped Dried Cherries
                                   


Ready For Kneading

Dough With Mix Ins

Delectable Result






Makes 1 loaf

Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas French Toast Bake

On Christmas morning, I like to have something special to serve for breakfast and I do not want to spend alot of time making it.  French Toast Bakes are great because they can be assembled the night before.  Christmas  morning you just need to pop it in the oven  and serve it with powdered sugar and  maple syrup.

This french toast bake uses Panettone.  Panettone is an Italian sweet bread that originated in Milan.  It was prepared to enjoy for Christmas and New Years.  This bread contains candied orange, citron, lemon zest, and raisins.  You can also find  it made with chocolate or plain.

In this recipe, I use  a Panettone made with candied orange peels  and raisins.  I bought my Panettone  at Cost Plus World Market.







I slice the Panettone  vertically into 8 slices.  I then spread 4 of the slices with mascarpone cheese.  I take the remaining  4 slices and place them on top of the cheese.  You make sandwiches.  I then cut the sandwiches into 1 inch squares.  Put the bread in a buttered baking dish and pour the egg mixture over the bread.  Press down on the bread with a spatula to soak up the custard.  Cover and refrigerate.  Pull out of the fridge the next morning and bake.  It's that simple.



                                            Christmas French Toast Bake


Ingredients:
Butter for greasing the baking dish
1 (1.6 pound – 750 grams) panettone loaf bread
1 (8 ounce) container mascarpone cheese
10 eggs
2 cups half and half
1/3-cup pure maple syrup
¼ cup orange juice
1-teaspoon vanilla extract
1-teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
Powdered sugar for dusting
Maple Syrup

Directions:

1. Butter a 9x13 inch-baking dish.
2. Remove the paper from the panettone . Cut the ends off the bread (you can discard them or use them in the bake).  Slice the loaf vertically into 8 slices (about ½ inch thick).













3. Spread 3 tablespoons of mascarpone cheese on 4 slices of the panettone.













4. Place the remaining 4 slices of panettone on top of the cheese.  You are making four sandwiches.
5. Cut each sandwich into 1-inch squares and place the squares in the prepared baking dish.
Note:  If you wish, you can cut the end pieces into 1 inch squares and toss them in the pan.
6. Whisk the eggs in a large mixing bowl.  Add the half and half, maple syrup, orange juice,  vanilla extract, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Whisk together  until well combined.
7. Pour the egg mixture evenly over the bread.  Press the bread down gently with a spatula into the egg mixture.
8. Cover and refrigerate overnight or for at least 2 hours.
9.  Remove from fridge when you are ready to bake it.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
10. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.  Remove foil and bake an additional 25-30 minutes or until the bake is puffed.
11. Remove from oven and cool 15 minutes.
12 Transfer french toast to plates and lightly dust with powdered sugar and drizzle with maple syrup.


Serves 12







Cut Into Squares

Bread Squares

In The Dish Waiting For The Egg Mixture

Pressing The Bread Into The Egg Mixture

Ready For Oven

Baked

MMM Good