Monday, April 14, 2014

Cream Cheese Danish

Our kids officially started their spring break today, and we celebrated with this delicious pastry for breakfast. The recipe makes 2 loaves and we only ate one today, so we get to enjoy the other one for breakfast tomorrow. I like recipes like that!

This is a good recipe for a late breakfast. You mix up the dough the night before, then it rises in the fridge overnight and you roll it out, fill it, and bake it in the morning. The kids and I really enjoyed it, though one didn't care for the filling. The rest of us loved the whole thing. Because it takes so long to finish in the morning, it's definitely not an everyday breakfast, but worked really well for a special occasion and I want to make it again sometime.

Cream Cheese Danish
(adapted from Taste of Home)
2 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
3 tbsp. sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup sour cream (didn't have any on hand, I just used whole milk soured with some vinegar)
1/4 tsp. salt
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 8-oz. packages cream cheese
1/2 cup sugar
2 egg yolks (I used whole eggs, why separate the eggs if you don't absolutely have to?)
2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 cup jam, jelly, or preserves (used grape jelly)
Powdered sugar

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in water. Add the sugar, butter, eggs and sour cream. Gradually add salt and 2 cups flour; beat until smooth. Stir in remaining flour (the dough will be soft and sticky). Place in a greased bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; knead 2-3 times. Divide in half. Roll each half into a 16-in. x 10-in. oval; place on greased baking sheets.

For filling, in a large bowl, beat the cream cheese, sugar, egg yolks and vanilla until smooth. Spread 1-1/4 cups filling over each oval to within 1 in. of edges. Fold longest sides over filling to meet in the middle; pinch edges to seal. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.

 Bake at 375° for 20-22 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pans to wire racks to cool. Spread jam on top. Dust with confectioners' sugar. Store in the refrigerator.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

My Kitchen My World - Belize

Belize was the MKMW country for March. I know that I'm posting in April, but since we made and ate this meal yesterday, technically it still counts for March.

Belize is a small country in Central America, between Mexico, Guatemala, and the Caribbean Sea. The food is similar to both Mexican and Jamaican/Anglo-Caribbean cuisine.

One of the basic staples of Belizean cuisine is stewed chicken served with beans and rice. The recipe I found for the chicken does not use recado (a Mayan spice blend), and the beans and rice use coconut milk. This was a delicious meal. My favorite part was the sauce made from the pan drippings. The onions just melted into the chicken drippings, and it all came together to make a very flavorful gravy that I really enjoyed.

Belizean Stewed Chicken
(from Belize News Post)
4 lbs of chicken cut into pieces, drumsticks and thighs seem to work best, bone in (I used two leg quarters)
1 tsp salt, or to taste
1 tsp pepper, or to taste
1 1/2 tablespoons dried thyme
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons oil, or enough to just cover the bottom of the pot
1 small yellow or Spanish onion, chopped
2 tablespoons flour, mixed with 2 tablespoons water (I used extra water, it was too thick at first)

Mix salt, pepper, thyme, and garlic (garlic powder can be substituted) creating a rub. Season chicken with salt, pepper, thyme and garlic mixture.

Heat two tablespoons (or enough to fully cover the bottom of the pan) of oil in large dutch oven or stewing pot over moderately high heat.

Place the chicken in the pan starting skin down. Brown chicken, turning pieces once, about 5 minutes per side.

As chicken browns, add onions, cover pan and simmer on low heat for 10 to 15 minutes so chicken will stew. Recipes vary on the amount of time, many call for 1-2 hours of stewing. Make sure your chicken is fully cooked before enjoying! (Mine stewed for about half an hour before the chicken was done).

After the chicken has finished cooking add a few teaspoons of water to skillet and the flour to thicken the gravy.

Belizean Beans and Rice
(adapted from Belize News Post)
1 large can beans (I used a combination of several types, including black, navy, and pinto)
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp thyme
1 tsp salt
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 medium onion, sliced
1 cup coconut milk
2 lbs. rice (I only used 1 1/2 cups, whatever that ends up weighing)

Season beans with black pepper, thyme, and salt. Add coconut milk and 3 cups water. Stir and taste. Let boil.

Add rice to seasoned beans. Stir, then cover. Cook until water is absorbed or rice is tender. If necessary, add more water gradually until rice is tender.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Layered Pumpkin Chiffon Pie

In honor of Pi Day (March 14 = 3/14 = 3.14), Jeff and I decided it would be criminal not to make some sort of pie. I know that pumpkin is more of an autumn thing, but it's what we had on hand and the recipe just looked so delicious.

This recipe came from an old (1978) Better Homes and Gardens recipe book, called "All-Time Favorite Pies." I love old recipe books, they're so much fun! Anyway, this layered chiffon pie has a mild pumpkin flavor that Jeff and I agreed would be wonderful as a Thanksgiving dessert. But being so light and fluffy, it wasn't at all too heavy for early spring. Just an all-around delightful pie.

Layered Pumpkin Chiffon Pie
Oil Pastry Crust
1 cup plus 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup oil
3 tbsp. cold milk
Chiffon Filling
1/2 cup sugar
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground allspice
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
3 slightly beaten egg yolks
1 cup pumpkin puree, canned or cooked from fresh
1/2 cup milk
3 egg whites
1/4 cup sugar
Whipped Cream Filling
1 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup sifted powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon

Prepare crust: Stir together flour and salt. Pour oil and milk into small bowl (do not stir); add all at once to flour mixture. Stir lightly with a fork. Form into a ball; flatten slightly with hands.

Cut waxed paper into two 12-inch squares. Place ball of dough between 2 squares of paper. Roll dough into circle to edges of paper (Dampen tabletop with a little water to prevent paper from slipping). Peel off top paper and fit dough, paper side up, into pie plate. Remove paper.

Prick bottom and sides of pastry all over with a fork, to prevent the crust from puffin up. Line pastry shell with a double thickness of heady-duty foil; press down firmly but carefully. Bake pastry in preheated 450 degree oven for 5 minutes. Remove foil, continue baking 5 to 7 minutes more or until pastry is golden. Set pastry aside.

Prepare chiffon filling: In a saucepan combine the 1/3 cup sugar, gelatin, salt, the 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, allspice, ginger, and nutmeg. Combine egg yolks, pumpkin, and milk; stir into gelatin mixture in saucepan. Cook and stir over medium heat till gelatin dissolves and mixture thickens slightly. Remove from heat. Chill gelatin mixture to the consistency of corn syrup, stirring occasionally. (That's what the recipe says. But with the pumpkin, the consistency was never anywhere near corn syrup, it was too thick and gloppy. I just chilled it until it was noticeably thickened.)

Immediately beat egg whites till soft peaks form. Gradually add the 1/4 cup sugar, beating till stiff peaks form. Fold stiff-beaten egg whites into gelatin mixture. Set aside.

Prepare whipped cream filling: Combine whipping cream, powdered sugar, vanilla, and the 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon. Whip mixture till soft peaks form.

Spread half of chiffon filling into baked crust, top with half of whipped cream filling. Repeat layers; chill several hours or overnight until set. After serving, cover and chill to store.

I know there's a lot of steps. But the finished product is so worth it. As a side note, I really liked this method of pie crust. No shortening to cut in, no floury mess on the table to roll it out. It turned out light and crispy, a great accompaniment to the airy fluffiness of the filling. Mmm, so yummy!

P.S. Here is the book where I got the recipe. Isn't it delightful?

Saturday, February 22, 2014

My Kitchen My World - Czech Republic

Our MKMW destination for February was the Czech Republic. I found a few recipes that intrigued me, but finally decided on these lovely deli sandwiches called Obložené Chlebíčky. I have no idea how that is actually pronounced! But basically these are open-faced sandwiches with flavorful and artfully-arranged toppings. So pretty, and so yummy.

My daughter recently asked if we could do a "sandwich meal" - different kinds of breads and spreads and sandwich fillings, and everyone makes their own special sandwiches just the way they want them. I thought that was a great idea, and the perfect time to do the Czech sandwiches.

We set this all up using some ingredients typical of the Czech deli sandwiches, and some typical of regular old American sandwiches, so everyone would have a good variety to choose from.

So here is my kitchen island, covered in the breads and some spreads and toppings:

Homemade french bread, hoagie rolls, and flat bread, all made using my favorite universal bread formula; mayo, mustard, oil and vinegar, sriracha, and relish

And here is the counter with all the meats, cheeses, veggies, and a couple other spreads:

Ham, turkey, salami, and pepperoni; provolone, swiss, muenster, and colby jack; tomatoes, red pepper, pickles, eggs, lettuce, and cucumber; potato salad and guacamole

 I was really the only one to make Obložené Chlebíčky sandwiches. But wow, I'm glad I did!

So beautiful! I do, however, admit to having to use toothpicks to keep my salami rolled like that...

The first sandwich is a slice of french bread spread with potato salad, and topped with hard salami, provolone cheese, sweet pickle, a slice of tomato, and a slice of boiled egg.

The second sandwich also started with french bread and potato salad, then was topped with ham, muenster cheese, sweet red pepper, a slice of boiled egg, and a dash of paprika.

Honestly, I have never before thought to put potato salad on a sandwich. It never even crossed my mind. But it was so delicious on these sandwiches! Also, I don't really even care for sweet pickles. But again, together with the other sandwich toppings, they somehow worked.

It would have been fun to experiment with some of the more fun and unique toppings typical of the
Obložené Chlebíčky, but our budget doesn't quite cover stuff like lobster spread, anchovy paste, caviar, capers, or camembert. Maybe someday. :)

Saturday, February 1, 2014

My Kitchen My World - Poland

January's country for My Kitchen My World was Poland. I enjoy cooking foods from European countries, they're almost familiar but different enough to make it fun.

Halushki is a Polish dish made of noodles, cabbage, and pork. This recipe makes a LOT - we were eating leftovers for quite a while. No complaints though, it tasted really good. But until our family has added a couple kids (not for a while!), I'll probably make this recipe in a smaller batch next time.

1 1/2 lb. pork chops
garlic powder to taste
salt and pepper to taste
1 onion, chopped
1 large head cabbage, cut into squares
1 lb. large egg noodles
1 tbsp. butter

Sprinkle pork chops with garlic powder, salt and pepper and place in a large greased sauce pan or deep skillet with chopped onion and fry until very brown and well cooked. It is ok if they stick a little, as the drippings are essential in this dish. When done, remove chops and set aside.

Add a little water to the saucepan or skillet and mix up the drippings a bit. Place cabbage into the pot, and allow to cook down completely.

In a separate large saucepan, boil the egg noodles in water until cooked. Drain noodles and mix in butter.

Cut up the pork chops to bite size pieces and set aside. When the cabbage has cooked down, add pork and cooked noodles and mix completely.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Coconut Cheesecake Tart

Sometime in November, my daughter asked me what I wanted for Christmas. She had taken it upon her sweet little 8-year-old self to write letters to Santa on behalf of everyone in the family. I thought about it and told her I would like a tart pan with a removable bottom. I had watched a cooking show where the host made pecan pie in a tart pan and was able to slice and serve the pie easily and beautifully. It looked like a great idea and something that I would actually use. So she wrote this letter to Santa: "Dear Santa, I was good today and I would like a tart pan with a removable bottom. Stephanie." So cute, right?

So I was pleased, but not surprised, to find this lovely fluted tart pan under the tree on Christmas morning.

And yesterday the kids and I mixed up this delicious tart, with a cookie pastry, a cream cheese and coconut filling, and a toasted coconut topping.

Coconut Cheesecake Tart
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 cup butter
2 tbsp. packed brown sugar
1 large egg
2 cups shredded coconut
8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
8 oz. whipped topping
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

For the crust, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine crust ingredients until a dough is formed. Press onto bottom and about an inch up the sides of ungreased 9-inch fluted tart pan. Bake for 12 minutes.

While the crust is baking, spread coconut in a thin layer on a large baking sheet. Toast in the same oven as the crust, stirring every 3-4 minutes, until most of the coconut is golden brown. Set aside.

Once the crust and the coconut are cool, make the filling. Beat cream cheese until smooth, mix in sugar and vanilla. Add whipped topping and mix well. Stir in toasted coconut, reserving 1/2 cup for topping.

Spoon filling into crust, spread evenly. Sprinkle coconut evenly over filling. Remove sides from tart pan, then slide tart off the bottom of the tart pan onto serving dish. Chill until ready to serve.

I gotta say, slicing and serving this delicious tart was a dream! No digging around in the pie pan trying to fish out the first slice without tearing it apart. All I had to do was lift each slice right off the cake stand. It was a beautiful thing.

Think Tank Thursday at Joyful Homemaking
Wowza Weekend Link Party at My Love 2 Create
Link Party Palooza at tatertots & jello
Strut Your Stuff Saturday Link Party at Sis Sisters' Stuff
Project Inspire{d} at An Extraordinary Day 

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

My Kitchen My World - Dessert

December's assignment on My Kitchen My World was a little different than usual. Normally we make a dish from a specific country each month. This month though, we could choose any holiday dessert from any country.

I chose to make a Jewish dish that is common in many European countries, called Noodle Kugel. It is a traditional dish for Sabbath and for festive holidays. This particular version is from Russia, I found it under the title of Russian Noodle Pudding.

Kugel isn't as sweet as I usually prefer for desserts. That's understandable considering that it's commonly used as a side dish as well as a dessert. It has a tartness from the cottage cheese and sour cream that melds nicely with the small amount of sugar and vanilla. My kids would definitely have enjoyed this more if it were topped with some maple syrup and whipped cream, but I actually liked it as is.

Noodle Kugel
16 oz. pasta, cooked and drained
24 oz. cottage cheese
2 cups sour cream
2 eggs
7 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 graham cracker sheets
2 tbsp. brown sugar
dash cinnamon
dash nutmeg
3 tbsp. butter

Heat oven to 350, butter a large baking dish.

Combine cottage cheese, sour cream, eggs, sugar, and vanilla. Mix well. Stir in pasta. Spread into buttered baking dish.

Crush graham crackers, add brown sugar and spices. Sprinkle over pasta mixture. Dot with butter.

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Serve warm or chilled.

I do wish I hadn't made such a large pan of this. It's yummy, but since the kids aren't huge fans I'm worried we might not eat it all fast enough. I wonder if it freezes well?

And here's an update on the kitchen. The last time I posted, it was an absolute mess of renovation horror. Well, here is what it looks like now. Much better! We're putting the renovation on hold for the winter, and will eventually put in the final touches like back splash, base boards, and the remaining cabinet doors in a few months. In the meantime, it's so nice to have it functioning and looking decent!

Project Inspire{d} at Dukes and Duchesses
Think Tank Thursday at Joyful Homemaking
Wowza Weekend Link Party at My Love 2 Create
Link Party Palooza at tatertots & jello 
Strut Your Stuff Saturday Link Party at Six Sisters' Stuff