Saturday, April 24, 2010

French Breakfast Puffs

I dream about these lovely cinnamon darlings. Imagine a muffin and donut having a love child. I'm hosting Mother's Day brunch this year and I think I will treat myself and make these ahead so I can serve a few and stash some in the freezer for later!

French Breakfast Puffs

3 cups Flour
3 teaspoons Baking Powder
1 teaspoon Salt
½ teaspoons Ground Nutmeg
1 cup Sugar
⅔ cups Shortening (Crisco)
2 whole Eggs
1 cup Milk
1-½ cup Sugar
3 teaspoons Cinnamon
2 sticks Butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease 12 muffin cups.
In a large bowl stir together flour, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg. Set aside.
In a different bowl, cream together 1 cup sugar and shortening. Then add eggs and mix again. Add flour mixture and milk alternately to creamed mixture, beating well after each addition.
Fill prepared muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until golden.
In a bowl, melt 2 sticks butter. In a separate bowl combine remaining sugar and cinnamon. Dip baked muffins in butter, coating thoroughly, then coat with cinnamon-sugar mixture.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Pasta n' Lentils

So I'm hoping to raise kids that love lentils. Honestly, if they loved making their beds, homework and their mother forever - then I'd be okay if they skipped the lentils but a mom can dream...I've been challenging myself to create more meatless meals and just may adopt the meatless Monday dinner routine. I think the addition of some browned Italian sausage would give this dish great depth but it was a surprising hit without it.

Pasta n' Lentils

1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 - 2 (19 ounce) cans lentil soup - depending on how much sauce you want
1 cup crushed tomatoes (can also use diced tomatoes - do not drain)
1/2 pkg. (5 oz.) package frozen chopped spinach or package of fresh baby spinach
1 (16 ounce) package ditalini pasta or small pasta (I use whole wheat)
salt to taste
ground black pepper to taste
1 pinch crushed red pepper
Grated Parmesan cheese to taste

Saute onion and garlic in oil over medium heat. Stir in lentil soup and tomatoes. Bring to boil. Stir in spinach and spices. Simmer.

Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until almost done. Drain. Mix pasta into lentil sauce. Cover, and keep warm a few minutes allowing sauce to mingle with the pasta. Serve with Parmesan cheese.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Spicy Beef with Parsley Tomato Sauce

I love the idea of family Sunday dinners. I imagine a large extended family sitting around a bountiful table - laughing, sipping wine, swapping stories. Very Norman Rockwell. However my Sundays now consist of many things - car wash, grocery shopping, multiple soccer games, etc. and Sunday has not lent itself to slaving in the kitchen all day. With this recipe, I can dish up a true Sunday dinner in no time. The flavorful sauce is what makes this recipe fabulous. A baked potato and salad would complete the meal.

Spicy Beef with Parsley Tomato Sauce

Roast Beef:
1 (2 to 2 1/2-pound) sirloin tip or chuck beef roast
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 Roma tomatoes, cut in 1/2
2 teaspoons herbs de Provence
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Spicy Parsley Tomato Sauce:
1 1/2 cups fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 garlic cloves
1/2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

To make the beef roast, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Season the beef with salt and pepper. Season the tomatoes with salt, pepper, and herbs de Provence.

Place a medium, heavy roasting pan or Dutch oven over high heat. Heat the olive oil. Sear the beef over high heat on all sides. Turn off heat. Place the seasoned tomatoes around the seared beef and place the pan in the oven. Roast until a meat thermometer reads 130 degrees F. for medium rare, 135 for medium, about 30 to 40 minutes. Take the roast out of the oven, tent loosely with foil, and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes. The internal temperature of the meat should rise 5 degrees F more and the juices will redistribute into the roast.

To make the sauce, place the parsley and garlic in a food processor and pulse until the parsley is finely chopped. Add the red pepper flakes, salt, red wine vinegar and the roasted tomatoes from the beef pan and process until pureed. Add the olive oil in a steady stream with the machine running.

To serve, slice the roast and place on a serving platter. Drizzle a little sauce over the meat. Serve the remaining sauce in a small bowl alongside.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Pecan Bars

While on a roadtrip through Georgia, we passed dozens of signs advertising locally-owned pecan farms. I then spent the next five hours dreaming of pecan bars I had made for a family reunion several years ago. My food-editor relative dubbed them sublime but I cannot take credit. These bars are a classic Barefoot Contessa recipe but they are indeed a true showstopper. While a bit more labor intensive than my recent dump-and-bake cake recipes, these are oh-so-worth it. Don't bypass the citrus in the recipe because it really adds something special to these beauties. This recipe makes a large pan (larger than 9x13) and they are rich so plan on serving this to a lucky crowd.

Pecan Bars

1 1/4 pounds unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 extra-large eggs
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

1 pound unsalted butter
1 cup honey
3 cups light brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 pounds pecans, coarsely chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. You may want to line the bottom of the oven with aluminum foil since the filling can drip.

For the crust, beat the butter and granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, until light, approximately 3 minutes. Add the eggs and the vanilla and mix well. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix the dry ingredients into the batter with the mixer on low speed until just combined. Press the dough evenly into an ungreased 18 by 12 by 1-inch baking sheet, making an edge around the outside. It will be very sticky; sprinkle the dough and your hands lightly with flour. Bake for 15 minutes, until the crust is set but not browned. Allow to cool.

For the topping, combine the butter, honey, brown sugar, and zests in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Cook over low heat until the butter is melted, using a wooden spoon to stir. Raise the heat and boil for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat. Stir in the heavy cream and pecans. This will be wicked hot so carefully pour over the crust, trying not to get the filling between the crust and the pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the filling is set. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold. Cut into bars and serve.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Not Your Average Chocolate Cake

I'm now rethinking the title of my blog and maybe it should be titled "Another Chocolate Cake Recipe" but when I find one that's a keeper, I cannot resist. Really this is another box cake with lots of bad-for-you stuff added but it's delicious and I'll get many requests from the kids to make this. I first had this in Florida and it was a "cake for grandkids" but the adults are eating it up. Many thanks to my mom's friend Betty who was kind enough to share this gem.

Betty's Cake

1 box Devil's Food Cake
1 small pkg. instant chocolate pudding
1 cup sour cream
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
1/2 cup warm water
2 cups semi-sweet mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix everything together and pour into a bundt pan. Bake 50-55 minutes or until tester comes out clean. Cool hour on cooling rack then turn out. Dust with powered sugar.