Thursday, June 12, 2014

Southwest Chopped Salad

Somehow this recipe was pinned to my Pinterest account with links to three different blogs.  I guess it's a popular one out there in the blog-o-sphere and that I really want to try it!  It is very, very good.  
Summer is the perfect time to have salads for dinner, and this is an excellent one to try.  It makes a lot and is very filling.  My kids were not the biggest fans, but one of them doesn't like salad dressing and neither of them like avocados, so there was bound to be some disappointment when this showed up on the table.  They lived and they will eat it again, as I will be making it again.

1 head romaine lettuce, chopped, washed and patted dry
2 c. shredded chicken (I grilled mine sprinkled with garlic salt)
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 c. corn (would be awesome fresh, but I used frozen that I'd defrosted)
1 medium vine tomato, diced
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
4 green onions, sliced
1/4 c. chopped cilantro
2 avocados, diced
1 c. crushed tortilla chips (optional)

1/2 c. fat free mayonnaise
2/3 c. plain Greek yogurt (I've also used just plain non-Greek yogurt which made the dressing a little bit easier to stir)
1 Tbsp. ranch dressing powder
1 Tbsp. taco seasoning
Juice of one lime

1.  In a large bowl, toss all of the salad ingredients, minus the tortilla chips
2.  In a small bowl mix together the dressing ingredients.  Toss the salad with as much or as little of the dressing to your taste; top with tortilla chips.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Berry Best Muffins

I found this recipe in a cook book that the Young Women in our ward put together and sold as their girls-camp fund raiser.  I've discovered that I like my quick breads and muffins much more when they have some sort of topping; this is one such recipe.  The berries can be fresh or frozen.  Enjoy!

1/2 c. brown sugar
1/3 c. flour
1 1/2 tsp. lemon zest
1/2 c. pecans or walnuts, chopped and toasted
2 Tbsp. butter

1 1/2 c. flour
3/4 c. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. lemon zest
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 c. milk
1/2 c. butter, melted
1 egg
1 1/2 c. berries (blackberries, blueberries, raspberries)

1.  Preheat oven to 350.  For streusel topping: mix brown sugar, 1/3 c. flour and 1 1/2 tsp. lemon zest together in a bowl.  Stir in nuts and 2 Tbsp. butter.  Mix together until butter is evenly distributed and mixture is crumbly.  Set aside.
2.  For muffins: combine flour, sugar, baking powder, lemon zest, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl.  Make a well in the center.  Add milk, butter and egg to the well and mix just until dry ingredients are well incorporated.  Fold in berries.  Spoon into 12 paper lined muffin cups, filling each only 2/3 full.  Top with 1 Tbsp. of the topping.  Do not overfill.  Bake on middle rack 20-25 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Place on rack and cool 5 minutes.

Yield: 12 muffins

Monday, June 9, 2014

Slow Cooked Beef Tips in Brown Gravy

I like beef.  I like gravy.  I like potatoes.  
This recipe is all of those things.  And since the meat is cooked at a low temperature for a long time, it turns out super tender.  The gravy is simple to make and not at all intimidating.  
Comfort food at it's finest.

2 lbs. tri-tip beef roast cut into 1" cubes
1 medium onion, diced
3 Tbsp. olive oil
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 1/4 c. beef stock or one can of beef consomme
1 1/4 c. water
2 bay leaves
3/4 tsp. dried thyme
3 Tbsp. butter, softened
3 Tbsp. flour
salt & pepper to taste

1.  Preheat your oven to 300 degrees.  In an oven proof pan with an oven proof lid heat the oil over medium high heat.  Saute the onion for about 3 minutes.  Stir in the garlic.  Season meat with salt and pepper; brown the meat on all sides.  Pour the beef stock and water over the meat.  Sprinkle with thyme and add the bay leaves.  Cover the dish and place in the oven for 2-3 hours.
2.  When the meat is incredibly tender, remove the pan from the oven.  Remove the bay leaves and transfer the meat to separate dish and set aside while you make the gravy.  Mix the softened butter and the flour into a thick paste; whisk this mixture into the liquid in the pan until you get your desired gravy consistency; you may need to add a small amount of water if it's too thick.  Return the meat to the pan and stir to coat the meat.
3.  Serve over mashed potatoes.

Fudge Brownies with Biscoff Frosting

If you haven't tried Biscoff before, you really should.  Basically it's cookies that have been mashed up and make into a peanut butter consistency sort of spread (great descriptions are not my forte), you can get it in either crunchy or smooth.  I've purchased mine at Target and have seen it available at the other grocery stores I shop.  Trader Joe's also has a product which is very similar called cookie butter that they make with the specaloos cookies, which, to me, is better than Biscoff since it's a little on the ginger snappy side.  Either product you use for the frosting of these brownies is a good choice, peanut butter or nutella would also be amazing.  The brownies are thick and as their name implies very fudgy.  They keep well in the refrigerator but the full flavor is in effect at room temperature.  I found the recipe here.  Enjoy!

1/2 c. butter
3/4 c. semi sweet chocolate chips
3 Tbsp. baking cocoa powder
1 c. sugar
2 eggs
3/4 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. flour

3 Tbsp. butter - softened
3 Tbsp. Biscoff
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 c. powdered sugar
1 Tbsp. milk

1.  In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter, chocolate chips and cocoa powder, stirring frequently.  Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar then eggs one at a time, then vanilla.  Add the dry ingredients, stirring just until combined.  Spread into a greased 9X9 inch baking pan.  Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes.  Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.

2.  For the frosting:  Stir the butter, Biscoff, vanilla, and sugar together until a thick paste forms.  Carefully stir in the milk and then whisk vigorously until you have a smooth frosting consistency.  Spread over cooled brownies.

Homemade White Bread

Homemade bread is one of my very favorite things to eat.  I can remember when I was growing up my mom would make bread and give each of the six kids a small amount of dough to make their own loaf.  We each got a small loaf pan and we were responsible for shaping it and making sure that it was put in a warm place, then we were in charge of checking it when it was done rising.  We would put our loaf pans on the hearth around our big black pot-belly stove in the family room.  I love that memory.  I found this recipe here  it makes 4 loaves plus a little extra for fry-bread or as the author of the blog calls them 'scones'.  I halve the recipe and it makes 2 large loaves and 1 small loaf, which is just the right amount for my family, sometimes if I'm feeling generous I will give the small loaf to one of my neighbors.
When mine are finished baking I like to take a stick of butter and rub it on the tops of the bread, no need to melt the butter, just take the whole stick and go to town!  (You aren't going to rub the entire stick of butter on to the top - although who am I to tell you how to live your life - just enough to give the tops a nice buttery glow.)

1 1/2 Tbsp. yeast
3/8 c. warm water
1/2 tsp. sugar
2 c. very warm water
1/2 c. powdered milk
1 Tbsp. salt
1/2 c. oil
2 eggs
1/4 c. sugar
7 1/2 c. flour

1.  Stir together the yeast, 3/8 c. water and 1/2 tsp. sugar; set aside to allow the yeast to activate.
2.  In the bowl of a stand mixer combine the 2 c. water, powdered milk, salt, oil, eggs, 1/4 c. sugar and 3 1/2 c. flour.  Mix together for 3 minutes on medium speed.
3.  Add the yeast mixture and the remaining 4 c. flour.  Knead for 5 minutes in the mixer or my hand for 10 minutes until you have a smooth and elastic dough.
4.  Transfer to a greased bowl (turn dough to coat all sides), cover and allow to rise in a warm spot for 1 hour or until double in bulk.
5.  After the dough has doubled punch it down and shape into loafs.  Place in greased loaf pans, cover and allow to rise for an additional hour.
6.  Preheat oven to 400.  Bake for 10 minutes then lower the oven to 350.  Bake and additional 15-20 minutes.  Allow to cool in the pan for 5 minutes then turn out onto cooling racks.

The King's Brownies

So the name of this recipe implies something major.  They are really, really good and I got the recipe from my new friend Caroline King (see what I did there?).  I love, love, love, love, love brownies.  They are one of my very favorite desserts and this recipe beats out almost all store bought brownie mixes.  The texture is right, the flavor is right, everything is right about these.  How could it not be with 2 cups of sugar and 1 cup or butter? And super-duper easy! I will never buy a box mix for brownies again - Honestly!

1 c. White sugar
1 c. Brown sugar
1 c. flour
3/4 c. baking cocoa powder
1 c. butter, melted
3 eggs
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla

1.  Mix all of the ingredients together; spread into a greased 9X13 pan - bake at 350 for about 20 minutes.