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.