Goodcookbecky's Blog

Letting the juices of life (or food) drip from my chin!


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C is for Cookie

img_7928As  Thanksgiving breathes down our necks and see Christmas quickly approaching like an out of control freight train, my mind becomes obsessed with foods that I love at this time of year.  Of course, Christmas cookies are not optional and I want to share some of my favorites with all of you, so you also can be obsessed with me.  I was asking my children which cookies they wanted this year and these were all in the running.

My favorites are:

Black Dog Restaurant Ginger Cookies

This recipe yields a large batch of  beautiful chewy ginger cookies that are a Christmas favorite.  If I only had time to make one homemade cookie at this time of year it would be the one I would choose to make!

Hazelnut Chewies (Nutella Cookies)

I love Nutella.  I grew up with the stuff and was pleased to find that I could get it in the States as well.  My husband once asked me why I did not buy them, and I sheepishly admitted that I did buy it and have it… but have a hard time sharing it.  Ha!  Well, when I make these cookies, I do share them and they are great!  Soft and chewy texture. It does use a whole jar of Nutella though – but I promise it will be worth it.  Now to find a new hiding place for my stash!

Orange Zest Cookies with Sweet Orange Glaze

I found these last year, in an effort to find cookies similar to ones my Mom used to make.  My mom did not have the recipe anymore, but I was determined to find a replacement and this one is really close!  The glaze gives the orange flavor an extra boost.  I love these a lot.

Spritz Cookies

These cookies are pressed out of a cookie press.  They are very popular in Europe.  This recipe I found from allrecipes.com – one of my favorite sites to go to for recipes that are rated by members.

Shortbread Cookies

This recipe is actually on blogspot on my first food blog I made, but never transferred the recipe to wordpress.. I need to work on that!  It is a good recipe for shortbread and the dough though a large amount is easy to work with and has a nice flavor.

Chocolate Rum Balls

This is another recipe that was on my first blog.  It is one of those recipes you make and share with other adults and  keep away from the kids (or substitute orange juice for the rum and make them a yummy batch that they can eat).  I do not make this every year, I could easily become addicted to them.

Homemade Marshmallows

I made these for a party recently.  Homemade marshmallows do require a candy thermometer to make them, but they are well worth the effort and are way better than the store bought ones.  They actually melt in hot cocoa and are so good!

I hope you enjoy trying some of my favorites.  Merry Christmas!

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Pressure Cooker Chili

IMG_8228Every year a group of our friends gets together for their Annual Chili Cook-Off.  I love going to them, not just to try to win, but to enjoy the fellowship of our long time friends.  We do not see them very often, as we live in another county, but when we do it is a treat to pick up where we left off!

This year I tried a few new recipes and found a new secret weapon: the pressure cooker!  I know a lot of you are now backing away from your computer right now because you see it exploding!  The modern pressure cookers have valves that prevent that from happening. My parents gave me a nice German made Fissler pressure cooker about 12 years ago, it has been a great tool in the kitchen.  I just never made chili in it before!  What the pressure cooker does to the meat (cheap chuck roast, trimmed of its fat) is amazing.  The downfall of cooking it in the crock pot for hours is that the meat tends to get stringy – but it is very tender.  In the pressure cooker, the meat becomes tender and juicy but still holds its consistency.

I have a chili recipe that I really have liked for a long time.  This year I decided to tweak it just a little and to cook it in the pressure cooker.  I did the prep work in my trusty cast iron skillet, because I like how well it retains the heat and it holds a lot.  Then I finished it in the pressure cooker.  I could have just used my pressure cooker rather than dirty another pot, but I find it  a little more cumbersome to cook bacon and brown the meat in it.

Becky’s Pressure Cooker Chili

Serves 6 – 8

Ingredients:

  • 1 package thick cut bacon, cooked til crisp (reserving the drippings for browning the meat)
  • 3 lbs beef chuck roast, trimmed of fat and cut into 1/2 inch dice
  • salt and pepper to season the meat
  • garlic powder to season the meat
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, stem and seeds removed, chopped
  • 1 orange (or yellow, or green) bell pepper, stem and seeds removed, chopped
  • 1/2 cup minced garlic
  • 2 Tbsp Ancho chili powder
  • 2 Tbsp Chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp Cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
  • 1 (14-15 oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (14-15 oz) can tomato sauce
  •  3/4 cup water
  • 1 (14-15 oz) can of chili beans, kidney beans, or navy beans (your choice)

Instructions:

I heated my cast iron skillet up about 10 minutes over medium high heat, before I cooked the bacon, rendering out the fat.  I drained the crisp bacon on paper towels and poured off the bacon fat to a small bowl, leaving about 1 tablespoon of fat in my skillet.

I had removed most of the fat from my beef chuck roast and cut into bite sized pieces.  Seasoned the meat with salt, pepper, and garlic powder before browning the meat cubes in the skillet over medium high heat in the bacon fat.  I did this in smaller batches so that the meat had a chance to brown.  I stirred a few times and removed the meat to a bowl.  Repeated the process with the remaining meat until the meat cubes were also browned.  I added a tablespoon of bacon fat to each batch to aid the browning. I once again removed all the meat from the skillet.

Added 1 tablespoon of bacon drippings to the skillet and cooked the onions and peppers for about 5 minutes until the onions were beginning to turn opaque.  I added the minced garlic and cooked for another minute until it was fragrant.  I added the Ancho powder, chili powder, cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes to the onion mixture and cooked it for another 30 seconds.  I added the tomato paste and meat cubes back into the skillet and stirred to combine.  Then I added the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce and water to the skillet and stirred to combine.  I decided to add the beans in after cooking the meat in the pressure cooker because they were already cooked and there was not much room left in my pressure cooker…

I ladled the chili into my pressure cooker, secured the lid, cranked the heat to high and watched carefully to make sure it had reached high pressure before turning my burner down and setting the timer for 15 minutes.  I do keep a careful watch to maintain the pressure on high (mine has an indicator for high and low pressure – the low is intended for veggies and such).  After the timer went off, I turned off the heat and allowed the pot to sit until the pressure released itself on its own and the valves released steam.  This took another 15 minutes or so.

After the lid released, I stirred in the beans.  Forced my husband to taste it with me (it did not take much persuasion) and allowed it to cool before putting it in the fridge.. that’s right.. the chili is really better the second day..

Serve with crisp bacon bits, sour cream if desired, and grated cheddar cheese.  My children insist that when I make chili I also make  Corn Bread Pudding .

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My Favorite Things (at Thanksgiving)

With Thanksgiving approaching, I just wanted to highlight a few of my favorite recipes.

Turkey and Stuffing is a given – I don’t think I need to post a recipe for that though, because everyone likes their own recipe – I made the mistake of trying out a new recipe at Thanksgiving once for the stuffing and I was truly sorry I had tried something new on that day.  The day to experiment is not on Thanksgiving when it comes to the essentials.

I do love Martha Stewart’s recipe for Cranberry Compote.  I alternate that with my grandmother’s recipe for cranberry relish that is processed with apples, pineapples, and oranges. The apples and oranges are washed but processed with the peel.  It gives it a nice tart flavor.

 

Martha Stewart’s Cranberry Compote – adapted

Source The Martha Stewart Living Cookbook Copyright 2000 p 486

I double the recipe,(amounts are doubled) because the single recipe never seems enough for more than a meal.  I also reduced the sugar amount because I found it plenty sweet with less sugar.

  • 4 cups fresh cranberries
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 6 Tbsp fresh orange juice
  • 1- 1 1/2 cups sugar (originally 2 cup)
  • 1/2  tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Combine all the ingredients in a medium saucepan. Place over medium-high heat; cook, stirring occasionally, until the berries begin to pop but are still whole (7-10 minutes).  Transfer to a bowl to cool.  Good hot or cold.

 

My Grandma’s Cranberry Relish

Ingredients

  • 1  lb fresh cranberries
  • 2 (14 oz) cans Pineapple chunks, with juice
  • 2  Apples, washed and cored with peel
  • 2 Oranges, washed with peel
  • 1/2 cup Sugar

Instructions
Blend ingredients in a blender or food processor.  Best when prepared a day in advance or more.  It keeps in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Broccoli with Parmesan Crumb Topping

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch broccoli, washed and cut into smaller pieces
  • 1 inch water
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 4 Tbsp. butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup seasoned Progresso bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated or shredded Parmesan cheese

Put the broccoli in a covered pot with an inch of water and seasoned with salt.  Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to low, cover and steam for about 10 minutes until it is a nice dark green.
Drain the broccoli and transfer to a baking dish.  Melt the butter and combine with bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese.  Sprinkle over the broccoli.  Bake at 325-350 for 15 minutes until the crumb topping is golden brown and the cheese melts a little.  Enjoy.  If you wish sprinkle more freshly grated Parmesan cheese and sprinkle some lemon juice over the dish.

 

Glazed Carrots

  • Carrots, peeled and sliced into coins (however many you need to serve your crowd)
  • Water to cover
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp melted butter
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 4 Tbsp honey

Place the carrot slices in a pan.  Cover with water and add salt.  Bring to boil, reduce heat and cover.  Cook for 15 minutes (test them at 10 minutes – depending on the size of the carrot slices they make be done early and we don’t want them to boil to mush!)  Drain water.  Add butter, nutmeg and honey.  Stir and serve.


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Chicken and Spinach Alfredo Calzones

IMG_8001My son loved his Chicken and Spinach Alfredo Pizza for his birthday and I found that it is just as delicious as a Calzone.  My family loves Calzones.  Usually I vary the filling by request – classic pepperoni, olive and cheese, or Hawaiian.  It is a lot like pizza in that you can customize what your family likes.

 

Chicken and Spinach Alfredo Calzones

goodcookbecky

Serves 6

Dough:

  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 packet rapid rise yeast
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 Tbsp canola oil (plus a little additional)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 cups flour

Filling:

  • 1/2 jar purchased Alfredo sauce
  • 10 oz frozen, chopped spinach, thawed and drained
  • rotisserie chicken
  • package Italian cheese blend
  • 1 egg beaten (to brush on Calzones before baking)

Instructions:

Prepare the dough: Place 1 cup warm water in the bottom of your mixing bowl (I use my Kitchen Aid).  Add yeast and sugar.  Stir. Add 2 tablespoons of canola oil, 1 cup of flour, and 1 teaspoon of salt.  Stir until combined.  Add remaining 2 cups of flour.  Use the knead attachment and knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic.  Add about 1 teaspoon of canola oil and coat the dough ball with it.  Cover the dough with plastic wrap and then a towel and allow to rise about 30 minutes.  Divide the risen dough into 6 equal size portions.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

On a floured board roll out each individual portion of dough into about 6 to 8 inches in diameter.  Place 2 tablespoons of Alfredo sauce on one half of the dough, leaving about 1/2 inch dough along edge exposed.  Top with about a tablespoon of spinach, spreading it out over the Alfredo.  Place about 1/2 cup of shredded rotisserie chicken on top of the sauce.  Drizzle about 1 tablespoon of additional Alfredo Sauce over the chicken.  Sprinkle the top with 1/4 cup of shredded cheese.  Carefully fold the portion of dough that does not have topping over the filling and seal the edge with the exposed edge that the filling is on.  Press down gently to ensure a good seal.  Transfer the calzone to a parchment (or silicone) lined baking sheet.  Repeat with remaining dough portions.  I can fit 3 or 4 calzones on a baking sheet.  I rotate the baking sheets in the oven at the half way point to ensure even baking.  Allow the calzones to rest about 15 minutes before baking.

Just before baking, Beat the egg in a small bowl with about 2 tablespoons of water.  Brush the calzones with the egg wash with a pastry brush.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, rotating the baking pans half way through cooking.

Allow the calzones to cool about 15 minutes before consuming the filling will be very hot!

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Vegetable Bounty Quinoa Salad

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Tri color Quinoa by Bob’s Red Mill had this delightful salad recipe on the back of their package.  It sounded interesting enough to try.  I am finding quinoa to be something that I need to acquire a taste for.  I am not there yet, but this did have some good flavors that made it interesting.  The dressing has an Asian taste to it.  I substituted honey for sugar and increased the honey a little to give the  dressing more sweetness.  Here is my adaptation:

Vegetable Bounty Quinoa Salad

adapted from Bob’s Red Mill Tri-Color Quinoa Package

Serves 6

Dressing:

  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 3-4 Tbsp honey
  • 1/2 cup lime juice
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp fish sauce (or soy sauce)
  • 1 1/2 tsp toasted dark sesame oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 pinches black pepper

Salad:

  • 2 – 3 cups cooked and cooled quinoa
  • 1 (14 oz) can white beans (or kidney beans etc)
  • 1 1/2 cups diced tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups diced seeded cucumber
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 large avocado, diced
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Instructions:

Prepare the quinoa according to package directions and cool.

Prepare the dressing, coming the dressing ingredients in a bowl and whisk to combine.  Adjust the honey to your personal preference.

Combine the salad ingredients and pour the dressing over the salad.  Serve cold or at room temperature.

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Chicken and Spinach Alfredo Pizza

IMG_7952 - Version 2My rambunctious, fun loving, joy filled son turned 11 today and we had a small gathering to celebrate.  I asked him what he would like on his pizza and he requested Chicken and Spinach Alfredo Chicken.  I had never made it before and was not sure how much sauce to add to the pizza, but I was pleased to find that this was nearly perfect!  It would have been even better with bacon! Next time!

Chicken and Spinach Alfredo Chicken

by goodcookbecky

Yield: 8 slices

Pizza Dough Ingredients:

  • 1 packet Rapid Rise yeast
  • 1 cup warm water (110 F)
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 cups of all purpose flour

Pizza Toppings:

  • purchased Alfredo Sauce
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • garlic powder
  • frozen, chopped spinach, thawed and drained (squeeze dry)
  • 1 roasted chicken breast half, pulled apart into bite size pieces
  • 8 oz shredded Italian Blend cheese
  • 2 strips of bacon, cooked crisp and broken into smaller pieces

Instructions:

To make pizza dough, dissolve the yeast in the warm water in your kitchen Aid stand mixer, if you are lucky enough to have one.  Add the vegetable oil and sugar to the yeast.  Add 1 cup of flour and 1 tsp of water to the mixing bowl.  Use the paddle attachment and mix until the ingredients are well combined.  Add the remaining 2 cups of flour to the dough, and switch to the hook attachment and knead until all the flour has worked into the dough and it looks smooth and elastic, about 2 minutes.  Remove the dough from the hook and pour about 1 teaspoon of oil over the dough, turn the dough to coat it with the oil.  Cover the mixing bowl, first with a piece of plastic wrap and then cover with a clean kitchen towel.  Allow to rise for 30-45 minutes.  It should double in size.

In  the meantime roast the chicken, seasoned with salt and pepper,  in the oven (I used skin on, with bone chicken breasts) and roasted them at 375 for about 40 minutes.  I allowed the chicken to cool off about 20 minutes, so it was cool enough to handle.

Preheat the oven to 375 for the Pizza.

Place the dough on a pizza stone (I love my pampered chef one- in this case I used their large one that has a lip).  I sprinkled the dough with dried oregano.  Next, I ladled about 1 cup of sauce onto the dough and spread it out.  I then dotted the dough with pieces of spinach (be sure to wring it dry before using it – I like using the chopped frozen spinach because you can remove the moisture – which would be hard to do if using fresh).  I pulled the chicken skin off and pulled the meat from the bone and pulled the meat apart into bite size pieces, placing them all along the top of the dough.  Next, I sprinkled garlic powder over top the pizza and chicken.  Sprinkle with bacon pieces if you are using them (I will next time).  I drizzled about 4 tablespoons of Alfredo sauce over the top of the chicken again and topped it with the shredded cheese.

Bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes, or until the cheese is golden and bubbly.

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Korean Beef

IMG_7923Nearing dinner, I looked in my refrigerator and found a pound of ground beef.  I did not want to make the same old same old and turned to Pinterest for inspiration.  I came across the recipe for Korean Beef at the website of Elizabeth Bryant (link).  It looked simple enough, and I had the basic ingredients needed in my refrigerator right? Well, actually, I had to send my husband to the store to get my green onions (my hero!).  The Korean Beef came together quickly and was delicious with steamed rice and steamed broccoli (which hubby also picked up because he was going to the store already!).  Korean Beef is usually made with flank steak, but this ground beef option was very good.  This dish is simple enough, my 11 year old son could cook with supervision.  It is easy and delicious.  I will be making this again and again.  Thank you Elizabeth Bryant for posting this to Pinterest.

Korean Beef (Ground Beef)

adapted from http://elizabethbryant.blogspot.com/2010/05/korean-beef.html

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 3 tsp chopped garlic
  • 1/2 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp to 1 tsp dried crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced (just the green part)

Serve with:

  • steamed rice
  • steamed broccoli

Instructions:

Brown the ground beef in a large non stick skillet over medium high heat, breaking up and stirring the beef with a wooden spoon.  When the beef is mostly cooked, drain off any fat and stir in the chopped garlic and grated ginger.  Cook stirring for about 1 or two minutes or until the beef is completely cooked through.  Remove any additional fat if needed and add the sugar, soy sauce, crushed red pepper flakes and stir.  Just before serving stir in the green onions and serve over hot steamed rice and broccoli on the side.

Serves 5

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