Foodie Blog Roll 2

Friday, January 28, 2011

Pot Roast Pockets

This was a simple idea I had for the left over pot roast meat from the last post. It was fast and yummy and could not have been any easier.

Pot Roast Pockets
This could be done with a lot of different combinations of leftover meats or casseroles. I did most of the pockets with out cheese, but I did make one pot roast pizza with mozzarella cheese:

Left over pot roast meat
1 can reduced fat crescent rolls

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Unroll can of crescent rolls onto cutting board and separate dough on the seamed lines. (If you find seamless dough, cut into 4 or 8  triangles according to how large you want the pockets).
Fill pockets with meat and place another piece of dough on top. Press down on edges with fork to close dough. Place pockets on silpat or parchment paper lined baking sheet. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until top of dough is golden brown. 

We actually liked the pockets better with out the cheese, but I think that's because of all the flavor that the pot roast provided the meat. They didn't really need cheese.
Nothin' fancy; just comfort food.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Pot Roast with wine and honey

I just have to start this post by bragging that hubby said "This is the best pot roast I have EVER had!" Ok, now that's out of the way...... :)

Pot Roast

The reason I finally made my first pot roast was that I finally got my French oven in! I had been patiently waiting for the one I wanted to come back in stock and last week it arrived! Happy day!

You could also use a crock pot but mine is very tiny and would not have been big enough.
So let's get started!

Pot Roast
3 1/2 lbs boneless chuck roast, excess fat removed
Salt and pepper
2 T olive oil
3 small yellow onions, peeled and quartered into wedges
6 small carrots, cleaned and chopped (I did not peel mine)
3 celery stocks and leaves, cleaned and chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp honey
1/2 C dry red wine*
1 32oz box beef stock (probably won't use whole thing)
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 sprig fresh rosemary
2 bay leaves

Place the rack in the lowest position of the oven and preheat to 300 degrees. Dry the roast really well with paper towels and generously salt and pepper it. Pour oil in French oven and heat to medium-high heat. Once the pot is hot but not smoking, add the roast and sear on all sides, about 1 minute on each side. Transfer to a large plate and set it aside. Reduce the heat slightly and add in the vegetables, stirring about 5 minutes or until brown. Add in the garlic and honey and stir. Add in wine and let reduce while scraping all the bits off the bottom of the pot with a wooden or non-metal spoon. Once the wine is reduced, add the roast back in the pot and pour in beef stock. Only add enough stock to go half way up the sides of the roast. Add in the thyme, rosemary and bay leaves. Bring the liquid to a simmer, put the lid on and place pot in the oven. 
Cook for 3 1/2 - 4 hours, turning roast over every 30 minutes. (Mine cooked for 3:45). Transfer roast to a cutting or carving board and tent with foil to keep warm.
Allow the liquid in the pot to settle about 5 minutes, then use a spoon to skim the excess fat off the top of the surface. Take out thyme sprigs. Bring the liquid to a boil until the juices reduce a little more, to about 1-2 cups. Cut (or pull apart) meat, transfer to plate and pour vegetables and juices over the top. YUM!

While the meat melted in our mouths, the vegetables were actually my favorite part of the meal. The celery leaves and the wine gave the dish so much flavor and I could not have been happier with the way it turned out!
You may have noticed that my potatoes were browned on the outsides and that's because I did not cook them with the roast. I think potatoes get a little grimy when cooked this way, and I like them with a little bite, but that's my opinion. I sautéed them with a little olive oil, salt, pepper and chopped rosemary. They were a great side.

*The red wine is optional but Chris said he thinks that is what really enhanced the flavor of the meat. Again, this was my first time cooking a roast, but I read somewhere that you can substitute the wine for beef broth, not stock. I honestly did not know the difference between the two, so I decided to look it up. For those of you who don't know, stock is made of the bones of the animal, water and vegetables. Broth is made similarly but with the meat of the animal, water and vegetables. Now you know. :)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Pea Pesto Dip

This recipe came about because I have had some frozen peas in the freezer for a while and I wanted to use them up. I decided to make a dip out of them and went with a pesto sort of theme for the base. The best part about this recipe was that I used ingredients that I had in the house already and did not have to buy anything new. It was surprisingly sweet even with the salt and Parmesan cheese in it and it was great paired with some regular pita bread.

Pea Pesto Dip

2 C frozen peas, thawed
1/4 C sun dried tomatoes
1/4 C walnuts, toasted
2 T basil paste*
3 cloves of garlic
1/4 C grated or shredded Parmesan
Salt and pepper to taste
2 T olive oil

In a small skillet, on medium heat, toast walnuts; let cool slightly. Put peas, tomatoes, walnuts, basil paste, and cheese in food processor and pulse a few times. Turn on and stream in oilve oil. Season with salt and pepper. 

I chose to use only 2 tablespoons of oil because I wanted it to be thick like a dip. If you wanted to use this as a sauce, use 1/4 C of oil.

Serve with pita bread, cracker or veggies. 

*I would normally use fresh basil leaves, but I had this on hand.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Prosciutto and Phyllo Wrapped Asparagus

I was browsing for fun things to do with phyllo dough (also spelled fillo) and stumbled across this recipe. The reason I actually ended up making it was that the blogger stated that they could not get the dough to brown up in the oven and asked for suggestions. I looked back at somethings I did with phyllo in the past and ended up giving the blogger a tip! I was so happy with myself -so I decided that I owed it to them to try their recipe and I'm glad I did. This was a great way to enjoy a vegetable; hubby didn't mind the prosciutto either! :)

Prosciutto and Phyllo Wrapped Asparagus

One great thing about this recipe is that you do not have to cook the asparagus before wrapping it. Just make sure that you start with very fresh asparagus.

Prosciutto and Phyllo Wrapped Asparagus adapted from, makes 12 spears

Phyllo dough, defrosted in the refrigerator
12 fresh asparagus spears, washed and trimmed
6 pieces prosciutto
Olive oil, olive oil spray or melted butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Unroll dough and pull out a sheet at a time, covering the rest with a damp cloth. Cut phyllo and prosciutto down the center, lengthwise, so that you use one sheet of dough and one piece of prosciutto per asparagus spear. Wrap a piece of prosciutto tightly around the asparagus, leaving the tip free, then wrap with phyllo sheet.

Place on sprayed baking sheet and continue wrapping until all asparagus is wrapped. Melt 1 T butter in a ramekin and brush over asparagus (or olive oil).

Bake for 10 minutes, turn over and bake for 10 minutes until crispy and golden brown. Serve. 

I love how flaky phyllo dough is, and the asparagus was perfectly cooked with a slight bite. The best part about this was because of the prosciutto, it need any salt or anything to dip it in, although hubby said he might try it with ranch next time. :) Big surprise!

This recipe was featured on Athens January 2011 recipe list. 

click to print recipe

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

French Toast Casserole

A few weekends ago I made french toast with some left over bread and while it was cooking-my wheels were turning. I later stumbled across french toast casserole and got really excited, so that's what I made THIS weekend. Uh, yum! I read several recipes and SEVERAL reviews and with the adaptions I made, it was a complete success!! I decided to go with a Paula Deen recipe but did make quite a few changes. She also had a praline topping on casserole and I did that-again with a lot of changes. Also, I only made an 8X8 dish because it was just hubby and me, but you could easily double this (day two it was still delicious).

French Toast Casserole

Paula's recipe called for french bread but I started with this beautiful whole grain loaf from Panera Bread.

I took some advice from Paula's reviewers and let it set out for a day to get a little stale so the bread would soak up all the egg liquid and lot leave a soggy casserole:

The other thing I did differently was to dip each piece of bread in the egg liquid before placing in the dish. Again, I did that to soak up more of the liquid so there was none left in the bottom of the dish after it was baked:

French Toast Casserole
1 loaf bread, cut in 1 1/2 in cubes
3 large eggs
2/3 C fat-free half-and-half
1/3 C milk
1 T sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
Pinch of salt
Maple syrup & powdered sugar for topping (optional)

Praline Topping
2 1/2 T butter, softened
1/2 C light brown sugar
1/2 C pecans, chopped
1 T 100% pure maple syrup
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

Spray 8X8 dish with Baker's Joy and set aside. Mix eggs, half-and-half, milk, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a bowl with a whisk until combined. Dip each piece of bread in the egg mixture and place in sprayed dish. Pour remaining egg mixture over bread, cover with foil and refrigerate over night. 
The next day, preheat oven to 350 degrees and make praline. Combine all praline ingredients in a medium bowl and mix well. (Do not melt the butter, just smash it together with the other ingredients with fork). Spread praline over french toast and bake for 30-35 minutes. Top with powdered sugar.

This was very sweet and did not need syrup in my opinion, but have it on hand just in case.  Because it was so sweet, I served it with a thick cut of seared ham. 

I was trying to think of a word to describe the delicious smell while it was baking, but sadly, there are no words. I was thinking "I wish people could smell this through the internet" So I came up with something they need to create.....SCENTERNET!!  They talk about "smellovision" all the time on the Food Network, so why can't we have the "scenternet?" Hmmmm, maybe that's my million dollar idea! :)

click to print recipe

Monday, January 17, 2011

"Tie the Knot" Party Mix!

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When I was planning my an engagement party for our dear friends, Clint and Kelsey, I really wanted to come up with some engagement themed food. I decided to do this party mix with a "tie the knot" title and have little pretzels be the "knots." Since it was a party celebrating the infamous RING-I had to go with Tiffany blue candy coating on the pretzels. :)

"Tie the Knot" Party Mix with Tiffany Blue Pretzels
I put it in little black paper bags and put a monogrammed R on each one for their new last name.

3 C corn chex
3 C wheat chex
3 C mini saltines
1 C mini pretzel twists
2 C mixed nuts, salted
6 T butter
2 T worcesteshire
2 tsp seasoned salt
3/4 tsp garlic powder
Pretzels for dipping
Blue candy coating, or white and food coloring
Blue sprinkles (optional)

In a large bowl, mix together corn chex, wheat chex, saltines, pretzels and nuts. Melt butter in a small bowl and add worcestershire, seasoned salt and garlic powder. Pour butter on the cereal mix and coat all pieces by stirring.
Spread out on a large parchment paper covered baking sheet and bake at 250 degrees for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. 
Meanwhile, melt candy coating in microwave and dip pretzels in it. Place dipped pretzels on parchment paper to set. Top with sprinkles, if desired. 
 Once party mix and pretzels are completely cooled, mix together and serve.

These actually ended up being the perfect take home party favor.

Something else I did for the party were these cute Blackberry Buttercream "Cuptails" (cupcake cocktails):

Trying to come up with unique ideas, I did a Google search for Ring Pops used for an engagement party and to my surprise, I didn't see any! Yippie! For the champagne toast, I put a ring on it! :) With these Ring Pop wine charms, the girls had a unique way to toast to the happy couple.
It's the little things that make life fun!

click to print recipe

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Treats

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Over the weekend, Chris and I threw an engagement party for our friends Clint and Kelsey. I LOVE party planning and it was fun to do something nice for such great friends. While planning the "sweet side" of the menu, my creative juices started flowing. I have done chocolate truffles for so many get-togethers so I wanted to stay away from those, but I still wanted to do a bite size dessert. Enter the chocolate covered peanut butter treat. I had never made these before and was surprised how easy it was! It is a little time consuming because you have to refrigerate the formed treats before dipping them in chocolate, but it is totally worth it! I decided to do some in a cube form just to do something different because most truffle-like desserts are in the form of a ball. These are very rich and creamy and I could eat about a million! This is one recipe you won't regret trying!

Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Treats
The ones on the right are covered in toasted, chopped hazelnuts. 

Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Treats
15oz jar creamy, natural peanut butter*
1 stick of butter, softened
3 C powered sugar 
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt

Chocolate and white chocolate (or candy discs)
Chopped nuts (optional)
Lollipop sticks
Stickers for the end (optional)

Start by mixing peanut butter, butter, powdered sugar, vanilla and salt in a bowl. It will come together and look like this:

After it is mixed, start forming your cubes and balls. Place them on a silpat or parchment paper lined pan.

Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. While those are chilling, toast a handful or two of hazelnuts in a small skillet for a few minutes. Do not let them burn. When they have cooled a bit, finely chop them and place them in a small bowl for rolling. (I actually used a food processor).

Place chocolate or candy discs in microwave bowl and melt. Put lollipop sticks in the peanut butter cubes and start dipping in chocolate. Dip in chopped nuts if desired, and place on parchment paper again to harden. 

Once they were hardened, I put stickers on the end of the sticks to give them more of a decorated look. Some of them were pretty silver stickers and some were a monogrammed R for the couples last name.  (Not the best picture).

*I found it really easy to just use a jar of peanut butter instead of trying to measure it out in measuring cups (big mess!). A 15oz jar is exactly what you need. It is also nice because you can pop it in the microwave for a few seconds to get it a little warm-this makes it easier to get it out with a spatula. Also, when you are finished scoping out the jar, just throw it away (no messy measuring cups to wash). Of course, if you already have a large jar of creamy peanut butter, use 1 1/2 cups.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Cinnamon Vanilla Almonds

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These are the perfect sweet, crunchy treat for just about ANY occasion. I made a big batch of these to take to the folks for Christmas, but hubby and I could not stay out of I made another big batch! To say they are addictive is an understatement! They take virtually no time to make and it's as easy as pouring everything in a bowl and baking them. And while some recipes like this call for smothering the nuts in butter, I used an egg white to cut back on the fat.

Cinnamon Vanilla Almonds

I found this cute little tin at Michale's to put them in.
Cinnamon Vanilla Almonds
3 C raw almonds
1 large egg white
2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 C sugar

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees and line a baking sheet with a silpat or parchment paper. In a medium bowl, beat the egg white and vanilla together; add the almonds to coat. In a small bowl, combine the cinnamon, sugar and salt; combine with almonds and stir. Pour mixture on the baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Remove and let cool. Enjoy!!

Can you believe that's it?!? So easy!

These are great to give as a gift and it doesn't even have to be at Christmas time. (They were a pretty good car snack on the way to Christmas though!)

Give 'em a try!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Fried Bocconcini Balls

MmmmmmMMM! These are good! These are fun and easy to make. We made these over Christmas at my parents' house. Lucky for me, I have a lot of sisters that helped, making the "breading assembly line" go much faster. :) We decided to switch up the last step of the recipe and coat the bocconcini in panko to give them a nice crunch. Also, we decreased the temperature of the oil after the first batch because they were cooking so quickly that the cheese did not really have a chance to get melty inside. These would be a hit at any party, and like the Lay's slogan, "Betcha can't eat just one!"

Fried Bocconcini Balls

Two containers of bocconcini mozzarella cheese balls (about 16 per container)
1 C flour
Salt and pepper
3-4 eggs, beaten
3 C Italian style bread crumbs
2 C Panko
Oil for frying
Marinara sauce for dipping

Drain the bocconcini and pat dry with paper towels. Line a plate with paper towels and place bocconcini on it; refrigerate for 2 hours.
Set up your bowls for coating. Place flour, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Put eggs in the second bowl, bread crumbs in the third bowl and the panko in the fourth bowl. Roll the bocconcini in flour, dip in egg mixture, coat with bread crumbs, dip in egg AGAIN, coat with panko. Freeze for 20 minutes. 
Pour oil in a heavy bottom pot, and heat to about 350 degrees. Fry bocconcini in batches until golden brown, about 15-20 seconds. Place on paper towels to drain. Serve warm with marinara sauce.
Adapted from Food Network. 

Monday, January 3, 2011

Homemade Samoa Bars

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Happy New Years! I hope everyone had a wonderful, safe holiday weekend. We went to a friends house to have some snacks before heading out to ring in the new year, and I brought these bar cookies. They have been on my "bucket list" of things to make for a while now, but I was saving them for a special occasion. These babies are a rich treat and a homemade version of the classic Girl Scout cookies, also known as Caramel de-Lites.

Homemade Samoa Bars

This was adapted from Baking Bites, and while I did like the cookie bars, I will try a different recipe for the shortbread cookie base next time. I'm not sure exactly how I can change it, but it was way too thick for me so it did not turn out exactly like the originals. That being said, the topping that I adapted was to die for!

Cookie base
1/2 C sugar
3/4 C butter, softened
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 C all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt

3 C shredded coconut, sweetened
14 oz chewy caramels
1/2 tsp salt
3 1/2 T milk
10 oz semisweet chocolate chips

The first thing I did was spread out the coconut on a silpat or parchment lined baking sheet and toast at 300 degrees for 20-25 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes. Bake until golden; cool on baking sheet and turn oven up to 350 degrees.
While the coconut is toasting, spray a 9X13 baking dish with Baker's Joy and begin making the cookie base. In a large bowl, cream together sugar and butter. Beat in the egg and vanilla extract. Begin adding the adding the flour and salt and beat it together slowly until "mixture is crumbly, like wet sand." This is where I think I would change the recipe because my mixture came together and was creamy; I think it needed more flour.  Press the dough into the prepared dish and press into an even layer. Bake for 25 minutes until the edges are lightly browned. Place dish on wire rack to cool completely before topping.

To make the topping, unwrap the caramels and place them in a large, microwaveable, bowl with milk and salt. Microwave for 3 to 4 minutes, stopping every 30 seconds to stir, until nice and smooth. 
Fold in coconut with spatula. Spread topping evenly over cookie base and let cool. When cooled, cut into 24 bars with large knife (shortbread will be slightly crumbly). Melt chocolate and dip the base of the bars into the chocolate. Place on  parchment or wax paper to cool.

Use left over chocolate to drizzle over cookies with a piping bag or a zip-lock bag with corer snipped off. Let chocolate set completely before storing in airtight container. 

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