Roasted Chicken and Gravy

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

This dinner is absolutely amazing! The chicken is literally fall off the bone tender (Abbott laughed when his chicken leg fell off the meat and onto the table) and the gravy is so flavorful! It does require marinating overnight and 4 hours of cooking, but it is worth the wait! I suggest serving this with Creamy Mashed Potatoes, we call them Abbott's potatoes but they're everyone's favorite! The chicken/gravy only serves 4 people so if you have a bigger family you will need a 2nd chicken ,-)

Chicken Ingredients
1 (4 pound) whole chicken
4 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 onion, cut into 4 pieces
5 cloves garlic

Gravy Ingredients
Chicken drippings
2 tablespoons flour
1 can chicken broth (or 1 cup water and a chicken bouillon cube)

Chicken Directions
The night before... In a small bowl, mix together salt, paprika, onion powder, thyme, pepper, cayenne pepper, and garlic powder. Remove and discard giblets from chicken. Rinse chicken cavity, and pat dry with paper towel. Rub chicken inside and out with spice mixture (use all of the spice mixture). Stuff the pieces of onion and garlic cloves into the cavity of the chicken. Place the chickens in a resealable bag or double wrap with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight, or at least 4 to 6 hours. After marinading... Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Place chicken in a roasting pan (I just used my 9x13 pan). Bake uncovered for 4 hours, to a minimum internal temperature of 180 degrees (I don't have a meat thermometer, but 4 hours was the perfect time for my 4 pound chicken). Let the chicken stand for 10 minutes before carving. While carving the chicken discard onion and garlic. Gravy Directions
Take the chicken out of the pan when it's done cooking. Now pour all the drippings into a glass measuring cup. Leave any browned bits on the bottom of the roasting pan (these are actually quite tasty and help give the gravy its flavor.) Let the drippings stand for a minute or two until the fat rises to the top of the measuring cup. Set the roasting pan over medium-low heat (you may need to use two burners at once.) Spoon out 4 tablespoons fat from the top of the measuring cup and put it back in the roasting pan.
Sprinkle the flour over the fat and whisk. Whisk flour and fat for 1 to 2 minutes until the flour turns a nice golden-brown color.
Pour the measuring cup drippings and can of chicken broth into the roasting pan. Whisking and scraping off the encrusted bits on the bottom of the pan. Simmer mixture for 2 to 3 minutes while whisking. Adjust the thickness of the gravy. If it is too thin, simmer, whisking often until the gravy is as thick as you want it. If it is too thick, whisk in a little more chicken broth. Taste the gravy and season it with salt and pepper if needed but with the rub of the chicken mine didn't need any salt/pepper. Serve the gravy over mashed potatoes with the roasted chicken. Enjoy!

Buttercream Frosting

Monday, December 28, 2009

I've been searching for the perfect frosting for awhile now. Easy Buttercream is great but it's rich, you can't pile loads of it onto cakes. It also gets hard when you put it in the fridge just like my favorite Swiss Buttercream frosting. I love Swiss Meringue on cakes (Andre's Chocolate Torte is the kind of cake people die over) but it's not that fluffy subtly sweet frosting I've had a hankering for. So one day I was blog surfing and came across this Why Pudding post where a professional baker goes on and on about how using instant pudding in her frosting has rocked her world, so I gave it a try... WOW. It's fluffy but not whipped cream fluffy, more silky and rich. It needs to be refrigerated (due to the cream) but the frosting stays soft even when refrigerated! This is my new favorite frosting! I've never tasted anything like it before but it is fabulous!! You have to give it a try!

My mom gave me a new frosting tip for Christmas it's an Ateco 849, and it's humongous! It's actually called a "pastry tube". I used it to frost these cupcakes using my favorite periwinkle color... thanks mom! Ingredients
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 stick salted butter, room temperature
1 box (3.4 oz) white chocolate instant pudding mix (you could sub a different flavor if you want)
1/2-3/4 cup heavy cream (depending on how thick you want your frosting)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup (or more to suit your tastes) powdered sugar

Directions
In mixer set on medium speed, beat the butter until smooth and silky. Turn the speed to low and add the pudding mix, when it is all incorporated, slowly add the cream, a little at a time. When fully incorporated bring speed up to high and beat for 5-7 minutes (the long mixing time is to beat the grit from the pudding out). Turn speed back down to low and add powdered sugar tasting along the way. When it is sweet to your taste, beat again at high speed for a good 5 minutes to really break down any graininess that you might get from the powdered sugar. Add the vanilla and bring back down to low speed and beat for a while that way to get rid of air bubbles.

Skillet Chili Mac with Corn and Green Chiles

Saturday, December 26, 2009

We are officially snowed in! Well, in all honesty we could shovel ourselves out but we are having too much fun being stranded at home! I've cleaned the house, played with all the Christmas gifts (with my boys), found homes for all the Christmas gifts, and have snuggled on the couch with my husband for hours.... yeah, we're enjoying being together to much to shovel our driveway! I think we got around 7 inches of snow but the wind blew it all up against our house, we have a two foot snow drift right outside our front door!
This was the perfect time for My Kitchen Cafe's Skillet Chili Mac! If you're wanting a traditional hamburger helper type meal omit the corn, chiles and cilantro.

Ingredients
1 pound ground beef
1 onion, minced
3/4 tablespoon chili powder (add more if you want more heat)
1/2 tablespoon ground coriander (substitute ground cumin for a smokier flavor)
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 (8 ounce) cans tomato sauce
2 cups water
8 ounces (2 cups) noodles (elbow macaroni or whatever you prefer)
1 cup corn
1 (4.5 ounce) can chopped green chiles
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
2 cups shredded cheese (I used a combination of cheddar and monterey jack but you can use pepper jack or a mexican shredded cheese blend)

Directions
Heat a 12-inch non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add the ground beef, onion, chili powder, coriander, cumin and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook the ground beef until it is no longer pink. Drain off any excess fat or grease (the amount will depend on how lean your beef is). Stir in garlic and brown sugar and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in tomato sauce, water, and macaroni. Cover and cook, stirring often and keeping the heat at a steady simmer, until the macaroni is tender, about 12-12 minutes.
Stir in 1 cup of the cheese, frozen corn, green chiles and cilantro and sprinkle remaining 1 cup of cheese over the top. Cover and let sit off the heat until the cheese melts, about 2 minutes.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Banana Bread

Saturday, December 19, 2009

I don't even know where to start with this recipe! I LOVE THIS BREAD! I cut everyone a slice, lathered them with butter, and animal sounds came from my family! I think the secret is in the sour cream, it makes the bread so moist. This was the perfect way to start our winter break!
This recipe makes four 7x3 loafs, if you use two bigger loaf pans you will need to let the bread cook longer than the directed 60 minutes (my two big loaves cooked for 90 minutes). Just check them with a toothpick and if there's batter on the toothpick put them in for another 10 minutes and check again.

Ingredients
1/4 cup white sugar (for dusting the pan)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (for dusting the pan)
3/4 cup butter
3 cups white sugar
3 eggs
6 very ripe bananas, mashed
1 (16 ounce) container sour cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons baking soda
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional...I never add them)

Directions
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Grease four 7x3 inch loaf pans. In a small bowl, stir together 1/4 cup white sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Dust pans lightly with cinnamon and sugar mixture.
In a large bowl, cream butter and 3 cups sugar. Mix in eggs, mashed bananas, sour cream, vanilla and cinnamon. Mix in salt, baking soda and flour. Stir in nuts. Divide into prepared pans.
Bake at 300 degrees for 1 hour, until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Today was the last day of school and the boys each had their winter parties! I had this grand idea of making snow cupcakes with royal icing snowflakes, sparkling sugar, and white nonpareils... well the royal icing snowflakes were a disaster! I couldn't draw pretty snowflakes and when the snowflakes dried I couldn't pick them up off the waxed paper like I imagined (perhaps melted white chocolate would have worked better). So in the end I just had my sparkling sugar and nonpareils, they look a little more like wedding cupcakes than snowy winter cupcakes but the kids liked them all the same! Ingredients
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4-5 cups powdered sugar

Directions
Using an electric mixer, beat the butter at medium speed until creamy. Add the cream cheese and beat until combined. Then add the vanilla extract and 3 cups of powdered sugar and beat at low speed, occasionally stopping to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl, until light and fluffy. Add more powdered sugar to arrive at the consistency and sweetness you like. I put my frosting into a pastry bag and used a Wilton 1M tip to frost my cupcakes.

**Sprinkles Tip- Sprinkle cupcakes (or cookies) over a paper plate, make sure you use a different paper plate for each type of sprinkle. Then when you're done you can fold the paper plate and pour the leftover sprinkles back into the sprinkles jar to use again!

Bowtie Chicken Pasta with Fontina Cream Sauce

Sunday, December 13, 2009

There's a restaurant here in Kansas City called Paulo and Bill's that has an outstanding Bowtie Chicken Pasta! The Paulo and Bill's menu said they used Fontina cheese so I wanted to create a copycat recipe for my family (plus it gave me an opportunity to try a new kind of cheese)! I got surprisingly close for my first copycat attempt! I will only change one thing the next time I make it... I made the mistake of adding the chicken to the cheese sauce before the noodles and the cheese fused all the chicken together into a giant chicken-cheese lump that wouldn't incorporate into the noodles. I thought the pasta was fantastic but Justin, Andrew, and my father all sprinkled seasonings (Cajun and red pepper) on their pasta... I don't think they like Alfredo type pasta as much as I do! We had our favorite Chocolate Torte for dessert, it was a wonderful evening!

Ingredients
Bowtie Noodles, cooked and drained
2 cups shredded chicken
1 cup sauteed mushrooms
1/2 pound Fontina cheese, grated
1/2 cup heavy cream
5 1/2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1 clove garlic, minced

Directions
Place the Fontina cheese, cream, butter, garlic, and Parmesan a sauce pan. Heat on medium, stirring occasionally, until the cheeses have melted and the sauce is smooth and hot. Stir in the cooked Bowtie noodles, when they're covered with the cheese sauce stir in the shredded chicken and mushrooms.

I found the Fontina cheese at my local groccery store but it was $6 for a 1/2 pound. I will definitely but it at Sam's Wholesale Club in the future! Justin described the cheese as a buttery mozzarella.This is my dad's pasta that he spiced up... just like Emeril, BAM!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Mousse Pie

Saturday, December 5, 2009

We made some pies for Thanksgiving, and this is the pie Justin made! We got the recipe from Coleen's Recipes, Justin's had a lot of peanut butter and chocolate pies but never one with a ganache layer! I wished we would have taken a picture on the inside of the pie, you'll just have to check out Coleen's Recipes to see how yummy that layer looked! However, we didn't use all the chocolate ganache, as Justin poured it in he realized it was going to fill half the pie so he stopped. I wish we would have saved the leftover to drizzle on the top, instead we used chocolate shavings.

Ingredients
1 Graham cracker pie crust
1½ cups whipping cream (divided)
(1) 14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated)
1½ cups semisweet chocolate chips
(2) 3 ounce cream cheese (room temperature)
¾ cup creamy peanut butter

Directions
Microwave one half cup of whipping cream for 2 minutes (on high). Stir in one half cup of sweetened condensed milk and the chocolate chips. Stir until very smooth. Pour evenly over graham cracker crust bottom and chill for an hour (I put mine in the freezer for 20 minutes).

In a medium size bowl, beat the cream cheese until it is smooth. Beat in the remaining sweetened condensed milk and the peanut butter. Whip until this mixture is very smooth (it will be thick). In a large bowl, whip the remaining one cup of whipping cream until stiff peaks form. Fold in the cream cheese-peanut butter mixture (by hand). Keep folding gently until everything is well blended together. Spoon over the chilled chocolate layer. Chill for about 4 hours or overnight.

Crock-Pot Chicken

Sunday, November 22, 2009

We went and saw New Moon as a family on Friday night, it was fabulous! Everyone's read the book but Abbott, so I think he felt a little left out but he said he really liked the movie! It makes me want to read Eclipse again! Unlike the Cullens, my crazy family doesn't eat red meat (with the exception of hamburger), so I can't make a roast or brisket for dinner... I'm always trying to figure out new ways to make chicken. This is by far one of the easiest dinners ever! It takes 10 minutes in the morning to throw everything in and by dinner time it's all ready to go!

Ingredients
2-3 pounds chicken, a whole chicken or whatever cuts you prefer (I use frozen chicken breasts)
1 large bag of peeled carrots
5-7 peeled potatoes
Salt and pepper

Directions
Put the carrots in the crock-pot and sprinkle on salt and pepper. Now, put the potatoes in the crock-pot and sprinkle on salt and pepper. Last, put the chicken in the crock-pot and sprinkle on... you guessed it, salt and pepper ,-)
Cook on low for 6-8 hours. When it's done you can pull out the chicken, potatoes, carrots, and use the leftover broth to make a gravy!

S’mores Bars

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Justin grew up living on a couple acres so he could go out any weekend, strike up a bonfire, and have s'mores! It was amazing! I'm always eating the toasted marshmallow before I can sandwich it between chocolate and graham crackers. We live in the city and we can't have a bonfire... and grilled marshmallows always seem to taste like lighter fluid (ok, everything I grill always tastes like lighter fluid)! These s'mores bars are a yummy fun alternative, and they're easy to make!!
Ingredients
8 cups (10 oz) Golden Grahams cereal
2/3 cup light corn syrup
2 tablespoons butter
2 cups (12 oz) milk chocolate morsels
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups mini marshmallows
Extra cereal and marshmallows for sprinkling on top

Directions
Spray a 13×9 inch pan with cooking spray or line with non-stick foil. Pour cereal in a large mixing bowl so that it’s ready to go.
Heat corn syrup and butter together in a saucepan set over medium. When mixture begins to boil, add chocolate chips, reduce heat to low or turn off completely, stir until melted. Stir in vanilla.
Pour chocolate mixture over cereal, coating it thoroughly, than fold in the marshmallows, 1 cup at a time. Press mixture evenly into a pan, sprinkling extra cereal and marshmallows on top for contrast, and then let stand until firm – about 1 hour or stick them in refrigerator so they’ll firm up quickly. I did that because I was impatient, and it worked out well. In fact, I liked the bars better cold!

Andrew made a video of him and our cat (Abby) playing, they are so cute together!

Hot Dog Mummies

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Abbott has been excited for Halloween for months! Abbott really is a strange kid, he was obsessed with James Bond and would play the theme song for himself every day as I drove him to preschool. When he was 3 he beat all the James Bond video games... no exaggeration! Now he's moved on to scary movies, he even had a spooky themed birthday party in September. So I made this creep-tacular lunch for him, the hot dog mummies were really good (and SUPER easy)! ...I get so tired of normal hot dogs, I am going to make these more often!

Ingredients
1 can (11 ounce) Pillsbury refrigerated breadsticks (12 breadsticks)
12 beef hot dogs
Cooking Spray
Mustard or ketchup, if desired

Directions
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Unroll dough; separate at perforations into 12 breadsticks. With knife or kitchen scissors, cut each breadstick lengthwise and crosswise into 4 pieces, making a total of 48 pieces of dough.
Wrap 4 pieces of dough around each hot dog to look like "bandages", stretch dough to completely cover hot dog. About 1/2 inch from one end of each hot dog, separate "bandages" so hot dog shows through for "face". Place wrapped hot dogs on greased cookie sheet; spray dough lightly with cooking spray.
Bake at 375 degrees for 13-17 minutes or until dough is light golden brown and hot dogs are hot. With mustard, draw "eyes".

I also made Monster Apple Mouths as a fun side to the hot dog mummies.... the boys thought they were really creepy! Ingredients
1 large Apple of choice
Peanut Butter
Marshmallows cut in 1/2

Directions
Cut out a small wedge on the skin side of the apple. Blot inside with a paper towel then spread lightly with creamy peanut butter. Cut marshmallows in half and place over peanut butter to make the teeth.

Sausage Oven Pancake

Sunday, October 25, 2009

I love McDonald's McGriddles, the combination of sweet and savory is delicious! However, the McGriddle has 560 calories and 32 grams of fat, holy cow! I saw this recipe on Real Mom Kitchen's Blog and thought it looked like the perfect alternative to the McDonald's McGriddle! To cut calories/fat even more I didn't use real sausage, I used MorningStar Farms Veggie Sausage Patties... it was fantastic!! Seriously, we loved this breakfast and it really did satisfy that McGriddle craving!

These are the ingredients/directions for my modified version of Real Mom Kitchen's Sausage Oven Pancake, you should check out her original recipe though. I am sure real sausage would taste better but I don't want the extra calories/fat so I will stick to my veggie patties ,-)

Ingredients
1 package of MorningStar Farms Veggie Sausage Patties
3/4 cup Velveeta cheese shreds
3/4 cup pancake mix
1/4 cup water
1 egg
2 tablespoons maple syrup

Directions
Spray a round 8-inch pan (or pie plate) with non-stick spray. Lay the frozen veggie sausage patties in the pan. Sprinkle cheese over the sausage. In a bowl stir together the pancake mix, water, egg, and maple syrup and pour the batter into the pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes at 350 degrees until golden brown. Cut and serve, I drizzled a little more maple syrup on top of mine!

Reuben Sandwich

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

My father and uncle both suffer from Polycystic Kidney Disease, eventually their kidney function gets so low that they need a transplant. My uncle had a successful kidney transplant last week (woohoo), he got a kidney from my aunt. My mom also gave a kidney to my dad and later my cousin did too! Well, this spurred an interesting conversion between Justin and I. We seem to have identical brains, no kidding it's like we're the same person! I just know our organs wouldn't be compatible though, our bodies are so different! If I get a cold in my throat he will get it in his stomach. I think something tastes spicy and he thinks it tastes sweet. I just have this feeling that our organs would be exact opposite!
Another way our bodies are different is that Justin can eat the same thing day after day. He's had a waffle for breakfast and a lunch meat sandwich for lunch every day for 4 years! If I eat the same thing 2 days in a row I am bored, especially with lunch meat sandwiches! That's why I like Reubens! I can eat a cold corned beef sandwich for lunch and come home and eat a Reuben for dinner, it doesn't feel like I'm eating the same thing... not to mention they're delicious!

Ingredients
Butter
Sliced rye bread
Deli sliced corned beef (around 4 slices per sandwich)
Sliced Swiss cheese
Sauerkraut, drained (around a tablespoon per sandwich)
Thousand Island dressing (around a teaspoon per sandwich)

Directions
Preheat a large skillet or griddle on medium heat. Lightly butter one side of rye bread. Spread the non-buttered side with Thousand Island dressing. Now add on the sauerkraut, corned beef, and Swiss cheese. Top with a bread slice, buttered sides out. Grill the sandwich until the bread is golden brown, and then flip and grill the other side until golden brown. It will take around 15 minutes, make sure you serve hot (put it in the microwave for 20 seconds if you need to warm it up again).

Easy Noodle Soup

Saturday, October 17, 2009

This is my go-to recipe in the fall! We are so busy with sports, academics, work, and *cough* fall TV shows that I don't have the energy to spend more than 20 minutes in the kitchen. Sure, you can add shredded chicken, celery, and carrots but we think it's perfect just like this! Ingredients
24 ounces Reames Egg Noodles (I get these in the freezer section of my groccery store)
5 Knorr chicken flavor bouillon cubes (I get these in the his Hispanic section of my groccery store, the box says 9.3 OZ)
10 cups of water

Directions
Put the water and Knorr bouillon cubes in a pot and bring to a boil. Add the frozen Reames egg noodles and cook over medium-high heat for 20 minutes.

That's it, after 20 minutes of cooking it's ready to serve and delicious! It's as easy as a frozen pizza, but better.... it's hearty and warm, perfect for my little football player! He even has cheerleaders! Here's a video of Abbott getting the flags off of the receiver (it's like tackling for little guys)!
video

No Bake Cookies

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Justin LOVES chocolate and peanut butter, his favorite desserts are... Peanut Butter Cups, Puppy Chow, and these No Bake Cookies!

Ingredients
2 cups white sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup margarine
1/2 cup milk
1 pinch salt
3 cups quick cooking oats
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions
In a saucepan bring sugar, cocoa, margarine, milk, and salt to a rapid boil for 1 minute. Add quick cooking oats, peanut butter, and vanilla; mix well. Working quickly, drop by teaspoonfuls onto waxed paper, and let cool.

Last week was Abbott's birthday! Last year he had a yummy Dirt Cake but this year I just bought treats at the store, they always seem to like the store bought treats better anyways. Abbott's kid party was spooky themed this year, complete with cobweb cupcake cake! For Abbott's family party he got a foam mattress pad (it's what he really wanted) wrapped like a birthday candle and a dug up a treasure box filled with change. How creative are his grandparents?!
Abby had fun hiding in the wrapping paper! Abbott finished the night with a small SpongeBob cake, which was adorable!

Gluten-Free Peanut Butter Cookies

Monday, September 28, 2009

Long time, no post, right?! Well... I have been so busy at work I can't even find time to go to the groccery store! Now, with all the quick fast food dinners my rear no longer fits in my pants, Ay Yi Yi!
It was time for gluten-free, sugar-free, low calorie cooking intervention! This recipe came from Paula Deen and I decided to use Splenda instead of sugar in hopes of fitting into my pants again this week... big mistake. The Splenda aftertaste was overwhelming (which is a nice way of saying "gross")!
Peanut Butter cookies are Justin's favorite, and these are soft and chewy and very peanut buttery...is that even a word?! You could probably get away with a low fat peanut butter, but I have to admit, Justin is a peanut butter snob. Only Peter Pan Creamy for him! I can't wait to try them again using sugar instead of Splenda!

Ingredients
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup granulated sugar (I used Splenda, but will use sugar in the future)
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions
Mix the above ingredients in a mixing box until fully incorporated. Roll the dough into 1 inch balls and place on cookie sheet. Press crisscross pattern on cookie dough ball with tongs of a fork. Place in oven at 325 degrees for 7-9 minutes.

Ham and Bean Soup

Saturday, September 12, 2009

I work with a wonderful man named Terry who turned 63 last week! Terry is one of those teachers I just watch in awe, the effect he has on kids is like magic! Terry reminds me of my grandpa, who I miss so much! Since I met Terry he's called me "Care Bear", I love that! I told Terry I would bring soup in for his birthday and asked what soup was his favorite. He said "Ham and Beans"... ham and beans?! I'd never made it before but it was actually really easy and cheap! The soup was ok on it's own but it was awesome with crumbled cornbread!

Ingredients
2 ham hocks
2 cups great northern beans, washed, sorted, and soaked overnight
8 cups water
1 clove garlic, minced (or 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder)
1 bay leaf
1 onion, chopped
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup brown sugar
Salt & pepper, to taste

Directions
Wash beans with water and soak them overnight. Drain the soaked beans and combine beans, ham bone, water, garlic, bay leaf, and onion in slow cooker. Cover and cook on HIGH for 1 hour. Turn to LOW and cook 8 to 10 hours longer, until beans are tender. Season with lemon juice, honey, salt, and pepper, to taste. Remove ham bone; chop meat and return to crockpot. Remove bay leaf before serving.