Posts Tagged ‘cooking’

Hot Chocolate with Peppermint Whipped Cream

hot chocolate with peppermint whipped cream

Earlier this month, Ashley Pahl of She Makes a Home posted a recipe on her blog for homemade hot coco topped with peppermint whipped cream. It sounded so soothing and delicious that I bookmarked the recipe. So last week when I was housebound during a two-day ice storm, I decided to give it a try.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have all the ingredients on hand to make Ashley’s hot chocolate recipe–and there was no way I was braving the ice storm–so I used my recipe for hot chocolate and topped it with Ashley’s recipe for peppermint whipped cream, which she has graciously allowed me to share with all of you.

Give this recipe a try during the next bout of inclement weather in your area. It will delight your tastebuds and warm your bones.

Basic Hot Chocolate

  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 T. sugar
  • 3 ounces (3 full squares) semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • Dash of salt

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the milk, cream, and sugar just until a skin forms on the top of the surface, about 8 minutes (don’t let the mixture reach a simmer). Remove the pan from the heat; add the chocolate and set aside until the chocolate has melted, about 1 minute. Whisk the mixture until the chocolate is incorporated. (The mixture will be mottled with small pieces of chocolate.) Return the pan to medium heat and cook until the chocolate shards melt, whisking often, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the vanilla extract. Pour into mugs, top with peppermint whipped cream, and serve immediately.

Peppermint Whipped Cream

  • 8 ounces heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons powered (confectioner’s) sugar
  • 1 tablespoon peppermint extract (it sounds like a lot but it’s not overwhelming)

Mix the whipping cream with a beater until it forms soft peaks. Add the powered sugar and peppermint extract. Beat again to incorporate fully.

Enjoy.

Homemade French Apple Pie

homemade apple pie recipe

What’s a holiday celebration without a great dessert? Whenever we have family gatherings someone inevitably asks me to bring a homemade apple pie. I have to admit I do make a mean apple pie–it’s my most requested dessert recipe. So with Christmas only two weeks away (can you believe it?), I thought I’d share my apple pie recipe for folks who are looking for a really special holiday dessert.

There are Three Secrets to Making a Great Apple Pie:

  • To make a balanced pie filling–one that’s not too sweet, too sour, too mushy, or too firm–use a variety of apples.
  • To make a flaky pie crust avoid over-handling the dough.
  • To make a super easy top crust, use crumb a topping.

Pie Pastry:

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 tablespoons ice water (avoid adding additional water)

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour, salt, and baking powder. Cut in the shortening with a pastry cutter until the shortening pieces resemble small peas. Add ice water and stir to combine (use your hands if you prefer). Do not over mix, over work, or over stretch the dough when fitting it into the pan or it will shrink during baking and become tough. Form the dough into a ball and roll it between two sheets of waxed paper (this keeps your counters and roller clean and no additional flour is necessary). Fold the dough into quarters. Place on top of the baking dish; unfold. Turn raw edges under. Crimp edges between your thumb and fore fingers or use a fork. Bake the crust, unfilled, at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes until it is lightly browned. (This pre-baking step keeps the bottom crust from becoming soggy.) Cool slightly before filling.

Apple Filling:

  • 8 apples peeled, cored, and sliced (2 Granny Smith, 2 Golden Delicious, 2 Braeburn, 2 Jonagold)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon

Combine apples, sugar, and cinnamon. Cover and refrigerate several hours (or overnight). Using a slotted spoon (you only need a small amount of juice), spoon into prepared pie crust.

French Apple Pie Crumb Topping:

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup flour

Mix all ingredients into pea-sized crumbs. Sprinkle over top of pie. Make at 350 degrees for 40 minutes (or until the apples are soft and the crust and pie crumbs are golden brown.

Thanksgiving Candlelight Dinner for Two

Thanksgiving Candlelight Dinner for Two

Thank you for all the wonderful holiday wishes. My daughter and I enjoyed a cozy, peaceful candlelight dinner for two.

Thanksgiving candlelight dinner for two

We feasted on roast chicken, cornbread stuffing, green beans, corn pudding, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and sweet potato casserole (my favorite). What a memorable day.

Thanksgiving Candlelight Dinner for Two

For dessert, my daughter requested homemade apple pie. She helped me prepare and serve the entire meal.

Homemade apple pie

How was your holiday?

Philly Cheesesteak Soup

Philly Cheesesteak Soup

Hi everybody. How’s the weather in your area? It’s seriously cold here today. The temperature is below freezing and the wind is blowing like crazy. It feels more like mid winter than fall. So I thought I’d make some soup for lunch to chase the chill away. And this recipe for Philly Cheesesteak soup that I found in the Foot Network Magazine fit the bill perfectly–after I tweaked the ingredients to improve the flavor and eliminated a few unnecessary steps to speed preparation.

If you love Philly Cheesesteak sandwiches, then you’ll love this rich, cheesy soup. I served it with a tossed salad, crusty bread, and iced tea.

Ingredients

4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 small onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1/4 teaspoon celery seeds
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup flour
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons hot sauce
8 cups chicken broth
2 hoagie rolls, cut into cubes
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
8 ounces provolone cheese, shredded
1 pound shaved beef steak or roast beef (I used Steak-Umm frozen sliced beef)
1/4 cup jarred sliced pepperoncini
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, plus more for topping

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy-bottomed soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, celery seeds, and garlic; cook for 3 minutes. Add the flour, Worcestershire sauce, and hot sauce; cook, stirring occasionally, about 2 minutes. Add the chicken broth. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes. Add the cheddar and provolone cheese and slowly whisk into the soup until melted. Pour the soup in batches into a blender and puree until smooth. Pour back into the pot and simmer on low.

Meanwhile, toss the bread cubes with 2 tablespoons of olive oil on a baking sheet; season with salt and pepper. Bake until golden brown, about 7 minutes; set aside.

While the croutons are baking, cook the frozen beef slices in a large skillet until browned. Stir in the pepperoncini and parsley then season with salt and pepper. Ladle the soup into bowls; top with the beef, croutons, and more parsley.

Amish Onion Bread

Amish onion bread

Hi, everybody, how’s your weekend going? It’s been cold and rainy here for the last four days so I’ve been occupying myself by trying some new recipes. I made Amish onion bread and served it with my almost home-made vegetable soup. It was so delicious that I have to share the recipe. It makes a huge loaf so serve it when you have a big crowd or cut the recipe in half. Get the recipes for Amish onion bread and almost homemade vegetable soup here and here.

Almost homemade  vegetable soup

One Rotisserie Chicken, Three Easy Meals

One chicken--three quick meals

There’s nothing I like better than a roast chicken dinner with all the trimmings–mashed potatoes and gravy, cornbread stuffing, a side vegetable, and cranberry sauce. But I rarely have enough time during the week to prepare a big meal from scratch. So I often rely on rotisserie chicken and pre-cooked side dishes to get dinner on the table in a flash. Rotisserie chicken is convenient and economical–one bird can yield several meals. This week I prepared three meals from one chicken. Here’s how I did it:

Dinner No. 1–Lazy Cook’s Chicken Dinner

For this meal I microwaved the chicken until it was heated through (~ 5-6 minutes), microwaved a container of ready-cooked mashed potatoes, prepared cornbread stuffing using the microwave instructions on the side of the box, and opened a can of vegetables and a jar of chicken gravy, poured them into saucepans, and heated them through. Finally, I opened a can of jellied cranberry sauce and sliced it. For this meal I was keeping it real–really easy, that is.

Dinner No. 2–Lazy Cook’s Chicken Sandwiches

On day two, I sliced some croissants and topped them with slices of leftover chicken breast that I warmed in the microwave, and topped that with mayonnaise, leftover sliced cranberry sauce, and salt and pepper. I served this meal with fresh fruit and iced tea. Easy, peasy.

Dinner No. 3–Not-So-Lazy Cook’s Chicken Pie

This meal features all the leftovers from Day 1′s meal–chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, vegetables, and stuffing (yes, it’s in there), plus a few additional ingredients. This dish is more time consuming to prepare than the others, but it’s well worth the effort. Here’s what you’ll need to make a chicken pie:

  • 1 cup celery, chopped
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 cup carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 cup potatoes, cubed (no peeling necessary)
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1-2 cups de-boned chicken
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken gravy (or chicken broth)
  • 1 1/2 cups half-and-half
  • 1 cup mashed potatoes
  • 1-2 cups cornbread stuffing
  • 1 cup vegetables (corn, green beans, or peas)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
  • 2 frozen pie shells
  • 2 cups Asiago cheese, shredded

In a large skillet, saute the celery, onions, carrots, and potatoes in butter over low heat until soft (about 10-15 minutes), stirring occasionally so the vegetables don’t brown. Stir in the chicken, gravy (or chicken broth), half-and-half, mashed potatoes, stuffing, vegetables, sugar, salt, and poultry seasoning and heat through. Pour into two frozen pie shells, top with shredded Asiago cheese, place on a cookie sheet, and bake in a 400° oven for 30 minutes, or until the pie crust and cheese are golden brown. Serve with a tossed green salad.

Mom’s Best Pot Roast

Who doesn’t love a good pot roast? It’s comfort food at its best. And when it’s cooked with love and served by your mother in the aftermath of the worst storm to hit the east coast in over a century, it’s truly a memorable dish.

I was lucky to have weathered Hurricane Sandy with no damage to my home. I was even luckier to have weathered it with my mom, who happened to be visiting me when the storm passed through the area. I’m so grateful she was able to keep me company during the storm and so blessed that she’s my mom.

Doesn’t this look amazing? Here’s what you’ll need to make this dish.

Ingredients

3 lb. bottom rump roast or chuck roast
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 large onion, peeled and quartered
1 clove garlic, peeled and diced
1 10-oz. can French onion soup
1 10-oz. can beef bouillon
1 10-oz. can beef consomme
1 lb. carrots, peeled and cut in half
8 large potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 bay leaf

Combine flour, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper. Coat the beef with the seasoning mixture. Heat oil in a large skillet or dutch oven. When hot add the beef and brown on all sides. Add the quartered onion and garlic. When the onions are browned, add the soups and bay leaf. Add the carrots and bake at 350 degrees for 2 1/2 hours. Add the potatoes and bake for an additional 1 1/2 hours or until the vegetables are tender.

Serve with a salad and some crusty bread to soak up all the good juice.

Mom's best pot roast