Zucchini-Pineapple Quick Bread

Zucchini Pineapple Quick Breads

Zucchini Pineapple Quick Breads

Today we have another way to use zucchini.  Zucchini Bread is a popular quick bread and such a great way to get in some veggies disguised as a sweet.  This recipe is all of that and more because it also contains pineapple.  A new twist on an old favorite!

We like to eat this bread for breakfast, but we also enjoy it as an afternoon snack with a cup of tea or coffee.  The pineapple adds a little sweetness of its own, so I  cut back on the sugar to 1 3/4 cups.   The recipe makes a large volumn of batter, enough for two 8″ x 4″ pans, so you can freeze the extra loaf, tightly wrapped in plastic wrap and heavy-duty foil, for up to one month.  Slices are good warmed in the microwave and spread with a little butter.

Some zucchini breads that I have had seemed to have a lot of oil in them and were very sweet.  This recipe is not like that at all.  The oil used is a moderate amount considering that you’re making two loaves.  The color of the bread is also lighter than other zucchini breads that I have had, perhaps because I used a yellow zucchini and a green one. You will note that the recipe calls for 2 eggs and 1/2 cup egg substitute.  However, you could use 4 eggs and eliminate the egg substitute.  Personally, I like using only the two eggs because it’s a way of reducing the overall cholesterol in the recipe.

On the whole we liked this bread very much as a breakfast item because it is not overly sweet.  I am expecting house guests soon and this is one of the items I plan to set out for “make your own breakfast”.

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Recipe:  ZUCCHINI-PINEAPPLE QUICK BREAD

Yield:  2 loaves, 8″ x 4″ each

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups sifted all-purpose flour  ( I use half whole wheat flour.)

    I used both yellow and green zucchini.

    I used both yellow and green zucchini.

  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1  1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups grated zucchini (about 1 1/2 medium zucchini).
  • 2/3 cups canola oil
  • 1/2 cup egg substitute
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2  (8-ounce) cans crushed pineapple in juice, drained
  • baking spray

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 350*F.  Spray two 8″ x 4″ loaf pans with baking spray.

2.  Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife.  Combine flour, salt, and next 3 ingredients (through cinnamon) in a large bowl, stirring well with a whisk.

3.  Beat eggs with a mixer at medium speed until foamy.  Add sugar, oil, egg substitute, vanilla and zucchini beating until well blended.  Add zucchini mixture to flour mixture, stirring just until moist.  Fold in pineapple.  Spoon batter into the prepared pans, smoothing the tops.

4.  Bake at 350*F for 45 min – 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool 10 minutes in pans on a wire rack;  remove from pans.    Cool completely on wire rack.

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SOURCE:   Cooking Light

Roasted Strawberry and Toasted Coconut Popsicles

Roasted Strawberry and Toasted Coconut Popsicles

Roasted Strawberry and Toasted Coconut Popsicles

Today is the beginning of July and it seems that everyone I know is going on vacation; going to the mountains,  going to the beach, or just sitting out by the pool chillin’ out.  Every one but me, that is.  I’d love to be going to the beach, but when you plan to be in a dance competition in August, you just don’t take a vacation until it’s over.  I have work to do.  That’s OK,  I’ll pretend that I’m there by looking at other people’s pictures and daydreaming.  When I sit outside on the deck I’ll slather on the sunscreen that smells of coconut, and eat my popsicles.

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Have you ever made popsicles?   maybe little ones in ice cube trays?  I’ve done that once or twice.  But what I’m proposing is to get yourself a really nice popsicle mold so you can make the real  things.  Popsicles are so easy to make I wonder why I haven’t done this before.

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Today I’m roasting strawberries.  Roasting them concentrates their flavor and brings out their sweetness.  I’m also going to toast the coconut while the oven is on.  Roast and toast is my new motto!

Once the strawberries are roasted, they go into the blender with a bit of lime juice and some sugar.  The coconut is combined with coconut milk, and the next thing that happens is a simple layering of the two into the popsicle molds.   Pop into the freezer and in about 5-6 hours you will have a frozen treat.

Let the others go on their vacations.  I’m happy sitting on the deck chillin” with my cold and frosty popsicle!

STRAWBERRY AND COCONUT POPSICLES

Yield:  Makes 10 – 12 pops  (With my mold I got 10 pops).IMG_4471

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup sweetened shredded coconut
  • 1  pound fresh strawberries, hulled
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
  • juice of 1 lime, divided
  • 1  (15-ounce) can coconut milk, well shaken (low fat is OK)
  • 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

1.  Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 350*F.  Sprinkle coconut onto a rimmed baking sheet and toast in the oven until golden brown.  Watch it closely as it will toast quickly….usually in 3 – 5 minutes.  Remove from the oven and place in a small bowl to cool.

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2.  Place strawberries on the baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil.  Place in the oven to roast until fragrant and soft, about 18 to 20 minutes.  Remove from the oven and add the strawberries to a blender, or the bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade attachment.  Add 2 tablespoons sugar and juice of half a lime.  Blend until smooth.

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3.  In a small bowl stir together coconut milk, remaining lime juice, 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, and vanilla extract.  Stir in the toasted coconut.

4.   Place a spoonful of strawberry into the bottom of each popsicle mold.  Start by filling 10 molds in case you don’t have enough to fill 12 molds.  Stir coconut milk mixture and add to the popsicle molds, filling 2/3 full.  Spoon more strawberry into each mold and top with remaining coconut milk.

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5.  Add on the popsicle mold lid and then insert the sticks.  Freeze for at least 6 hours before serving.

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SOURCE:   POPS!  Icy Treats for Everyone by Krystina Castella

Camelitas

Carmelita Bars

Carmelita Bars

I charge 500 kisses for these bars!    That’s a lot of kisses, but boy, they’re worth it.

I have a very good friend who loves these bar cookies, and whenever he says he wants some cookies, I always say “it’s gonna cost ya”.  When he says, “how much?”,  I say, ” 500 kisses”.    He loves the cookies and I love the pay-off!  (This is all in jest, of course.)     Try baking these for someone special in your life and see what the reward will be.

Buttery crust and crumb topping.  In the middle, chocolate, caramel and nuts.

Buttery crust and crumb topping. In the middle, chocolate, caramel and nuts.

No one I know can resist a caramelita bar.  The base and top layer is made of flour, butter, oats and brown sugar, and the middle layer consists of chocolate, nuts and caramel, but you can customize this layer with whatever you may have in your pantry.  I’ve used different kinds of nuts, coconut, toffee chips and butterscotch chips.  They’re a hit however you make them.

If you need to bribe someone, do it with these!

If you need to bribe someone, do it with these!

Baked in a 13 x 9-inch pan you get about 32 bars.  You will need to let them cool about 30 minutes and then run a knife around the edge of the pan to prevent the caramel from sticking.  Once cool, they cut neatly into the desired number of squares or bars.

CARMELITAS

Yield:   about 32 barsIMG_4247

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 2 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 package caramels ( 14 – 16 oz.) unwrapped**
  • 1/2 cup milk or cream**
  • 1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped nuts, walnuts, or other kinds

Directions:

1.  In a medium saucepan, combine the caramels and milk or cream.  Heat gently, and stir until melted and smooth.  Remove from heat and set aside.

**My tip:  a quick and easy step-saver is to use a jar of caramel ice-cream topping instead.  It works just as well and I think is less costly. You will need to use 1 1/4  cups of prepared caramel topping if you go this route.

2.  Preheat oven to 350*F.  Grease, or line with parchment, a 13 x 9-inch baking pan.

3.  In the large bowl of a stand mixer, combine the flour oats, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt.  Mix at low speed just to combine.  Add the butter, a chunk at a time, with the mixer running.   Once all the butter is in, add the egg.

4.  Reserve 1 1/2 cups of this mixture for the topping.  Pour the remainder into the prepared pan, and spread evenly.  You can lay a piece of plastic wrap on the surface and then use a loaf pan to press it down evenly.  Remove the plastic wrap, and bake for 10 minutes.

5.  After removing the base from the oven, sprinkle with chocolate chips and nuts.  Drizzle the caramel sauce over the them, and then sprinkle the reserved base mixture over the top.  Press down lightly to help it adhere.   Bake for 25 to 28 minutes, until the top is golden brown.  Remove from the oven and cool at least 30 minutes before cutting.

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SOURCE:  Cooks.com

Apple, Cheese and Bacon Quesadillas

Apples, bacon and cheese quesadillas.  A lovely combination.

Apples, bacon and cheese quesadillas. A lovely combination.

Are you a recipe clipper?  I think that anyone who enjoys cooking is always looking for new recipes, and magazines are  good resources for recipes.  I count myself in that group of cooks who are  always “on the hunt”.  In fact I tear out so many recipes that I have a system for organizing them and deciding which ones are keepers and which ones don’t make the cut.

For anyone who might benefit from my system,  this is what I do:

1.  Read magazine and “dog-ear” pages with a recipe that interests me.

Fold over pages that have recipes that interest me.

Fold over pages that have recipes that interest me.

2.Before discarding the magazine, look again at those pages and decide if I want to try the recipe.  If yes, then I tear out the page, and it goes into a pile with other torn-out pages.

The pile of torn-out pages grows large.

The pile of torn-out pages grows large.

3.  When the pile gets precariously high, I designate an afternoon or three?, and go through them all.  If I’m still interested in any of the recipes I trim them more carefully, and then file in folders that are named in broad categories, like bars, cookies, desserts, soups, chicken, etc.

My file of files.

My file of files.

4.  When I want to make something new, or have ingredients on hand to use, I go to a specific folder to see what’s there that I might want to try out.

5.  Then I make the recipe to test it out.  If it meets my requirements such as did we like it,  was it straightforward and easy to prepare, have readily available ingredients, reasonable cost to make,  cooked in a reasonable time frame?  Then it gets mounted into a notebook as a “keeper”, that will enter my cycle of recipes; or become a go-to when I want to make something special.

I have several afternoon's work to do!

I have several afternoons’ work to do!

I have written all the above with tongue-in-cheek, as I can imagine you are thinking to yourself (or saying out loud even) “what, is she crazy?”   Well, yes. a little.  According to the Myers-Briggs Personality Assessment Test I am a pointy-head sequential in the grand scheme of things, and detailed organization is one of my traits.   Ha-ha-ha!    🙂

OK, so what does all this have to do with today’s recipe?  The story is this:  on Saturday, my husband went out on an errand, and before he left, he asked me what we would be having for lunch.  I replied that I didn’t know, because my supplies were pretty low, and we had eaten up all the leftovers.  But I reassured him  that “I’ll think of something”.  So while he was out I consulted my folder labeled ” Pizza and Sandwiches”, and in there found a recipe for Apple and Brie Quesadillas that I had been wanting to try.

The recipe called for a Granny Smith apple, Brie cheese and flour tortillas.  Now, I didn’t have any Brie to work with but I did have some cheddar, and some Monterey Jack.  So I improvised, using those cheeses,  a Rome apple instead of Granny Smith, and added some crumbled bacon to the mix to create my recipe for Apple, Cheese and Bacon Quesadillas.  When my husband came home he said, ” I see it didn’t take you long to think of something”.    They were very good, we liked them very much,  I’ll make them again.  End of Story!

Makes a satisfying light lunch.

Makes a satisfying light lunch.

Included here is the original recipe for Apple and Brie Quesadillas, and how I modified it.

APPLE, BRIE  (and BACON)  QUESADILLAS

SERVES   2   Adjust amounts accordingly for more servings.

  • 1  Granny Smith apple  (or other firm apple), thinly sliced
  • 4  teaspoons olive oil, divided
  • 4   8-inch flour tortillas  (I  used  2  10-inch tortillas)
  • 8 ounces Brie cheese, sliced, rind removed  ( I used a combination of grated cheddar, and Monterey Jack cheeses, about 1 cup )
  • 2 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled  (my addition)
  • 1 Tablespoon whole-grain mustard
  • 1 Tablespoon maple syrup

1.   Preheat a grill pan over medium-high heat.  Toss the apple slices with 2 teaspoons olive oil and cook, turning occasionally, until marked and tender, 3 to 4 minutes.

Spread apples on grill pan and cook till barely tender.

Spread apples on grill pan and cook till barely tender.

Try to get some nice grill marks on the apples.

Try to get some nice grill marks on the apples.

2.  Lay the tortillas on a cutting board.  Top each with half the apple, half the bacon, and half the cheese, placing the filling on only half of  each tortilla.  Then fold the tortillas in half to cover the filling.

Spread a layer of apples and bacon on half the tortilla.

Spread a layer of apples and bacon on half the tortilla.

Top with shredded cheeses.

Top with shredded cheeses.

3.  Heat the remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.  (I sprayed mine with olive oil spray and cooked them on the grill pan I used for the apples.)  Working in batches, cook the quesadillas until golden brown and the cheese melts, about 2 minutes per side.

4.   Meanwhile, mix the mustard and maple syrup in a small bowl.  Slice each quesadilla into wedges.  Drizzle with the maple-mustard syrup before serving.

Serve with a drizzle of maple syrup.

Serve with a drizzle of maple mustard syrup.

SOURCE:   modified from a recipe in Food Network Magazine,  April 2012

Hot Cross Buns

Hot Cross Buns

Hot Cross Buns

A hot cross bun is a spiced sweet bun made with currents or raisins and marked with a cross on top, traditionally eaten during Lent, but especially on Good Friday.

There are many superstitions associated with hot cross buns.  “One of them says that a piece given to someone who is ill is said to help them recover.  Because there is a cross on the buns, some say they should be kissed before being eaten.  If taken on a sea voyage, hot cross buns are said to protect against shipwreck.  If hung in the kitchen, they are said to protect against fires and ensure that all breads turn out perfectly.  The hanging bun is replaced each year.”**   HaHa,  I guess it would need to be!

**quote from Wikipanion

Tall, pillowy, and delicious, I'm sharing it with you!

Tall, pillowy, and delicious, I’m sharing it with you!

Another saying that I particularly like says that sharing a hot cross bun with another person is supposed to ensure friendship throughout the coming year.  By sharing this recipe with all of you I hope that we will continue to be “friends” in the coming year as I am coming up on my one year anniversary of writing this blog on March 31.  I value all of you who read this blog and all who have decided to follow me as I continue to write about my cooking adventures, some with fantastically good results (like this recipe, I think), and others with somewhat less than stellar results.  But that’s why I blog; to share it all–the good, the bad, and the in-between.

If you have seen or purchased hot cross buns at the supermarket you know that they are smallish round buns, with the white cross on top.  I, personally, find them to be quite dry, sometimes overcooked, and practically tasteless.  The ones you can make at home are so much better there really is no comparison.  Yes, they take a little time because they are a yeast dough, but if you have a bread maker it is so easy, you will wonder why you haven’t made them before.  This recipe is one that I got from King Arthur a few years ago and since I first made them I don’t deviate or make alterations because they rise so well and once baked make a light, tender, pillowy, bun with an aroma that is unbelievable.  The flavor is derived from the spices that go into the dough, but also from a flavoring called Fiori di Sicilia, an all-natural citrus- and vanilla-scented flavoring.  It is available through the King Arthur Baker’s Catalog.  In its absence you could use a little vanilla, and either lemon or orange flavoring, and they would still be fantastic .

HOT CROSS BUNS

YIELD:   Makes 14 buns

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/4 cup apple juice or rumIMG_3550
  • 1/2 cup mixed dried fruit  (I use a mixture of candied citron, lemon peel and orange peel)
  • 1/2 cup raisins or dried currants
  • 1 1/4 cups milk, room temperature
  • 3 large eggs,  1 separated
  • 6 Tablespoons butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon Fiori di Sicilia flavoring
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves or allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1  1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder  (this is not an error)
  • 4  1/2 cups all-purpose flour

TOPPING

  • 1 large egg white, reserved from above
  • 1 Tablespoon milk

ICING

  • 1 cup + 2 Tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 teaspoons milk, or enough to make a thick, pipeable icing

1.  Mix the rum or apple juice with the dried fruit and raisins, cover and microwave briefly, just till the fruit and liquid are very warm.  In my microwave this would be 1 minute at 50% power.  Set aside to cool to room temperature.  While this is cooling you can be mixing up the remainder of the recipe, because the fruits go in at the end.

2.  Mix together all of the dough ingredients except the fruit, and knead, using an electric mixer or bread machine, till the dough is soft and elastic.  Mix in the fruit and any liquid not absorbed.

This is what I do:  Following instructions for your bread machine layer in the liquid ingredients first, followed by the flour mixture ( i.e.  4 1/4 cups flour plus all the spices, brown sugar, salt and baking powder)  Make a depression in the top of the flour and pour in the yeast last.  Start the bread machine on the dough cycle, and let it mix up everything.  When it is almost at the end of the mixing phase, add the fruits and any liquid.  Check soon after to see if the dough looks too wet, and add the remaining 1/4 flour if it needs it.  Allow the machine to finish the dough cycle till it has risen.  Proceed with step 4.

3.  Let the dough rise for 1 hour, covered.  It should become puffy, though may not double in bulk.

4.  Remove the dough to a floured surface and divide the dough into ball-sized pieces, about 3  3/4 ounces each.

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A 1/3 measuring cup or muffin scoop makes about the right portion.  You should make about 14 buns.  Greasing your hands helps with handling the dough and shaping into balls.  Arrange them in greased pans.  Suggested pan sizes include 10″ square, 9″ x 13′, or two 9″ round cake pans.  The cake pans were a good choice for me allowing for 7 buns in each (see picture), as I gave away one pan of buns.

Seven buns in each cake pan.

Seven buns in each cake pan.

5.  Cover pan(s), and let the buns rise for 1 hour, or until they’ve puffed up and are touching one another.  While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 375*F.  I have had good success with putting my pans on top of a heating pad set to “low”.  The consistent temperature gives a high rise, and the baking powder in the dough gives it another boost in the oven as they bake.  I think this is what makes these buns so light and pillowy.

6.  Whisk together the egg white and milk, and brush it over the buns.  This gives the buns a nice shine when baked.

7.  Bake the buns for 20 – 22 minutes, until they are golden brown.    Check internal temperature with an instant read thermometer. Temperature should be 160 degrees.  Some people have reported that the buns in the center of the pan may be a little doughy still at 20 minutes.  Remove from the oven, and transfer to a rack to cool.

Note how high they rise and the shiny tops from the egg wash.

Note how high they rise and the shiny tops from the egg wash.

8.  Mix together the icing ingredients, and when the buns are completely cool, pipe it in a cross shape atop each bun.

Pipe crosses on top when they are cool.

Pipe crosses on top when they are cool.

Tall, Pillowy and delicious.

Tall, Pillowy and delicious.

The frosting crosses looked a little thin, so I want back after taking these pictures and made the crosses bigger with more frosting.  We like frosting!  🙂

SOURCE:   slightly adapted from King Arthur  Baking Company

Salted Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Salted Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Salted Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Who doesn’t like chocolate chip cookies?   If a vote were taken for favorite cookie they would probably win by a landslide, and it seems as though every cook has their favorite recipe for making them.   Mine would have to be the traditional Toll-House cookie, so I don’t usually look at other recipes for chocolate chippers.   But you know how popular the addition of salt has become in the dessert world, so when I happened on this recipe for Salted Chocolate Chip cookies, I was curious what they would be like and had to try them.

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A sprinkle of salt on the cookies before baking is the finishing touch that brings out the chocolate flavor and tones down the sweetness, creating the ultimate sweet and salty snack.  We found these cookies to have a very nice taste, but they do flatten out quite a bit as they bake.  I normally like a thick, chunky cookie with lots of depth to bite into, and these were not that, but I did enjoy that hit of salt against the sweetness of the chocolate.  These cookies are crisp on the outside but chewy on the inside; a nice contrast in textures.  We both liked them enough for me to make them again, so I would recommend you try them especially if you would like to experience that sweet and salty combination.

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After baking the first sheet of cookies and seeing how they turned out, I put the remaining two sheets in the refrigerator to chill the dough and firm up the butter, before they hit the heat of the oven.  It’s important also be keep your oven at 375*F  throughout the baking time. For best results  bake only one sheet of cookies at a time, instead of two and rotating them, as the recipe suggests.

When using salt on your desserts, a sprinkle of one of the following will get the job done—just don’t use table salt.   Kosher salt, large crystals, dissolve quickly;   flaky sea salt,  light, crunchy texture, provides ideal finishing touch on cookies, etc.;  coarse sea salt,  grains are crunchy, but don’t dissolve as quickly, good with assertive flavors and textures.

SALTED CHOCOLATE CHUNK COOKIES

YIELD:   makes about 30 cookies

INGREDIENTSIMG_3423

  • 1  1/2  cups flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 cup  ( 1 stick ) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup ( packed ) light brown sugar
  • 1/2 granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 8 oz. semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips or chunks
  • flaky sea salt

1.  Preheat oven to 375*F.  Prepare baking sheets with non-stick spray or line with parchment paper.

2.  Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda in a medium bowl; set aside.

3.  Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter, brown sugar, sugar, and powdered sugar until light and fluffy, 3-4 minutes.  Add eggs and vanilla.  Beat, occasionally scraping down the sides of the bowl, until mixture is pale and fluffy,  4-5 minutes.  Reduce mixer speed to low; slowly add dry ingredients, mixing just to blend.  Using a spatula, fold in chocolate.

4.  Spoon rounded tablespoons full of cookie dough onto prepared baking sheets, spacing 1″ apart.  Sprinkle cookies with sea salt.

5.  Bake cookies, rotating sheets halfway through, until just golden brown around the edges, 10 – 12 minutes.  Cookies will firm up as they cool.  Let cool slightly on baking sheets, then transfer to wire racks;  let cool completely.   Store airtight at room temperature.

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SOURCE:   adapted from Bon Appetit,  January, 2013

Chicken Crescent Ring

Chicken Crescent Ring

Chicken Crescent Ring

I made this recipe just recently for a birthday party where the menu consisted of appetizers, finger sandwiches and desserts.  I’ve had this recipe for a long time and had completely forgotten about it until I read a blog posting over at the Rantings of an Amateur Chef where he describes this sandwich.  I suddenly knew it would be perfect for the birthday party we were going to.  So, thank-you to Pat for his post and for reminding me of this great sandwich idea.

Many years ago I went to a Pampered Chef house party.  The hostess was preparing baked items on a pizza stone, and talking about how useful the stone is in addition to making pizza on it.  I was one of many who purchased the pizza stone that evening.  I’ve used it often and always have success in getting a nice crispy crust on my pizzas, but I don’t think to use it for much else, until I made this sandwich. It is not essential to have a pizza stone, so if you don’t have one don’t worry,  you can use a metal pizza pan just as well.

When you serve this, your guests will be impressed with your creativity, and how delicious the sandwich is.

CHICKEN CRESCENT RING

SERVINGS:   about 16

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 can chicken, broken up  ( about 1 cup )
  • 4 slices bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
  • 1 cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tablespoon dried parsley
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoon green onions, sliced
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, sliced vertically into wedges
  • 1 medium red pepper
  • 2 cups lettuce, shredded
  •  2 rolls, refrigerated crescent rolls

1.  Preheat oven to 375*F.  Lightly grease a pizza pan or stone,

2.  Mix mayonnaise, mustard, parsley, and sliced green onion.   Set aside.

Make the dressing with mayo, mustard, parsley and green onions.

Make the dressing with mayo, mustard, parsley and green onions.

3.  Mix chicken, bacon, 3/4 cup cheese and 1/3 cup mayonnaise mixture.

Mix together, chicken, bacon and shredded cheese.

Mix together, chicken, bacon and shredded cheese.

4.  Unroll crescent dough, separating into triangles.  Arrange in a circle, overlapping wide ends in and points hanging out over the edge.  Leave a  5 – 6 inch circle empty in the center.  ( see picture )

Lay out triangles in a circle with wide ends toward the middle, and points out.

Lay out triangles in a circle with wide ends toward the middle, and points out.

5.  Spoon chicken salad onto rolls at the wide ends.

Spoon chicken salad onto wide ends of triangles.

Spoon chicken salad onto wide ends of triangles.

Wrap the points over and tuck underneath.

Wrap points over and tuck under.

Wrap points over and tuck under.

6.  Slice tomatoes into wedges and tuck one piece into each open space in the ring.

Tomato wedges tucked into each open space.

Tomato wedges tucked into each open space.

7.  Bake 20 – 25 minutes.  Just before end of baking time, sprinkle remaining cheese on top and allow to melt.  Remove from oven to cool slightly.

8.  To serve:  Cut top off red pepper, remove ribs and seeds.  Spoon in remainder of dressing.  Place pepper in center of ring, and garnish around pepper with shredded lettuce.  Cut into servings so that each one has a piece of tomato.

Serve with red pepper in the center and garnished with shredded lettuce.

Serve with red pepper in the center and garnished with shredded lettuce.

I must apologize for the poor quality of the pictures of the finished dish.  In my hurrying I forgot to bring my camera, and so these pictures were taken by someone else with their  camera and then sent to me via e-mail.  I think you can still get the idea of how attractive this is to serve, however.

SOURCE:   Pampered Chef,   via The Ranting Chef.com

Lemon Curd Filled Poppy Seed Muffins

Lemon Poppyseed Muffins with lemon curd filling.

Lemon Poppyseed Muffins with lemon curd filling.

Some muffins can be boring, especially if you’re used to making them from a boxed mix, and your choices are somewhat limited.   If I’m putting in the time and effort to bake muffins then I want them to be special and worth the effort that went into making them.  I can say that these little gems are way special and way good.  I will even go so far as to say they are elevated to greatness by the addition of lemon curd baked in the middle of each one and fresh lemon zest in the batter and lemon juice in the icing.

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This is how I used some of the curd that I made and wrote about here.

Is this extra work?   Heck, no!  I like to see the flecks of lemon zest in the dough and taste that deep lemon flavor in every bite.  Most people would probably  agree that muffins are a breakfast ( or brunch) food, but I say eat them anytime you heart desires.  Think afternoon tea and a lemon muffin.  Oh,  yeah,  they’re that good!

LEMON CURD FILLED POPPY SEED MUFFINS

YIELD:    a dozen muffinsIMG_3299

  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 Tablespoons poppy seeds
  • lemon curd

For the icing:

  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 2-3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1.  Preheat the oven to 400*F.  Place paper muffin cups in a regular-sized muffin pan.   Place muffin pan on a baking sheet.

2.  In a large bowl, rub the sugar and lemon zest together with your fingers until the sugar is moist.  Whisk in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Thoroughly mix lemon zest with the sugar.

Thoroughly mix lemon zest with the sugar.

3.  In another bowl, whisk the sour cream, eggs, vanilla, lemon juice and melted butter together until well blended.  Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and quickly stir to blend.  (Be mindful not to over do it here)  Stir in the poppy seeds.

Add wet ingredients to dry and mix gently.

Add wet ingredients to dry and mix gently.

4.  Fill muffin cups with half of the batter and put a teaspoon full of lemon curd in each one.

Place half the batter in muffins cups and add a teaspoon of lemon curd.

Place half the batter in muffins cups and add a teaspoon of lemon curd.

Fill in with the rest of the batter.

Fill with remaining batter.

Fill with remaining batter.

Bake for 18 – 20 minutes or until the tops are golden and a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean.  Cool muffins on a rack completely before icing them.

5.  When the muffins have cooled, put the confectioners’ sugar in a bowl and add about 1 1/2 Tablespoons of the lemon juice.  Stir together and keep adding small amounts of the juice until you get a drizzly consistency.  Use a spoon to drizzle icing over the tops of the muffins.

Drizzle lemon icing over cooled muffins.

Drizzle lemon icing over cooled muffins.

Just right with a cup of tea.

Just right with a cup of tea.

SOURCE:  adapted from   Baking:  From my home to yours  by Dorie Greenspan

A Breath of Sunshine

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We are growing tired of winter winds whipping, snow piled up in hugh mountains, and very little green(ery) to be seen.  So along comes a breath of sunshine in the form of citrus fruits to remind us of warm weather and sunnier times.  The bright colors of oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruits, are so cheerful, and they show up in the produce isles just when we need them most.  I don’t know about you, but I am ready for a little warm weather fling.

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Citrus fruits are an equal opportunity ingredient, happy in either savory dishes or sweet.  For example, I use orange segments in green salad to brighten it up and give the salad a little interest and of course I bake with citrus, especially lemons. This post is not going to be using words like zippy, zingy, tangy and tart to describe the flavors of citrus.   You don’t need me to tell you what a lemon tastes like, or how frequently a recipe calls for lemon juice.  In fact I don’t know of a cuisine that does not use citrus in one way or another.  It’s the citric acid that brightens food and makes it come alive.  Often its there,  you don’t know it, but it provides balance.

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One of my favorite uses for lemons is to make lemon squares.  With the abundance of  all this citrus, I decided to indulge myself and make a batch.   This recipe uses oatmeal as one of the ingredients in the cookie base and the topping, so you get a nice little crunch in every bite.  Paired with the smooth creaminess of the lemon filling, this makes a very satisfying dessert or snack.

LEMON CREME SQUARES

YIELD:   12 squaresIMG_3154

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/3 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup butter, slightly softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  •  zest of 1 lemon

1.  Preheat oven to 350*F,  and lightly grease a 9″ x 9″ pan

2.  In a large bowl cut butter into brown sugar until they are well combined.

3.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and baking powder.  Add this mixture and the oats to the butter mixture and mix to combine.  This will be quite dry and crumbly.

4.  Press half the crumb mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan, and press down lightly.

5.   In a small bowl mix together the condensed milk, lemon juice and zest.

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Spread evenly on top of the oat mixture in the pan.  Top with the remaining oat mixture.

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6.  Bake for 20 – 25 minutes or until the top is golden brown.  Let cool and refrigerate for 30 minutes or until set.  Cut into bars and store in the refrigerator.

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SOURCE:   TASTE OF HOME BAKING

Breaded Toasted Ravioli

Breaded Toasted Ravioli with Marinara Sauce

Breaded Toasted Ravioli with Marinara Sauce

These raviolis breaded and baked till golden, then served with warm marinara sauce, are perfect little appetizers or munchies for when folks stop by and you need a quick snack, or for yourself while you’re watching a game.  Be sure to make plenty, because once everyone gets a taste of this crunchy, cheesy, yumminess, they’ll be gone in no time.  And the best part is they are baked, not fried.

On your next trip to the supermarket do your self a favor and pick up a package of fresh or frozen ravioli, either cheese or meat filled.  Either works fine, but we particularly like the three-cheese variety.  There is no need to pre-cook them.  When you’re ready to make them, just dip them into the egg wash, then the seasoned bread crumbs.  Place on a baking sheet and bake until puffed and crisp.  Serve them warm with marinara sauce for dipping.  Very easy to do, and they look like you spent a lot of time on their preparation.

BREADED TOASTED RAVIOLI

SERVINGS:  about 4-5

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 egg 
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • 1 cup bread crumbs, plain, pre seasoned , or Panko
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, optional
  • 2 Tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 (25 ounce ) package ravioli, thawed if frozen
  • cooking spray, or olive oil spray
  • sauce for dipping, ie; marinara or alfredo

1.  Preheat oven to 400*F  Place a wire rack on a baking sheet, or simply line with foil.

2.  Beat together the egg and water in a small bowl.  Mix together the bread crumbs, oregano, basil, garlic powder, salt and cheese, in a large bowl or shallow pan.

3.  Dip each ravioli in the egg, and then roll in the bread crumb mixture.  Spray both sides of breaded ravioli with cooking spray;  place on the wire rack, or foil lined sheet.

Dipped, sprayed, and ready for the oven.

Dipped, sprayed, and ready for the oven.

4.  Bake in preheated oven until golden brown, puffed and crispy, 15 – 20 minutes.  My recommendation is to turn them over about half way through the cooking time so both sides get equally brown and crispy.

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See how the edges break open and the cheese starts to ooze out?

Serve warm with marinara or alfredo sauce for dipping.   Oh, Yum!

SOURCE:  All Recipes.com