Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Busy-Day Relief

It's Wednesday here at Tummy Treasure, so that means a few things this morning. First, it means that it's time for my weekly article up at Kids Cuisine, so be sure and check that out. My kids seem to get more involved in the kitchen every day, and recently we found a new way for them to help out. Wednesday also means that there is a new post up at Menu Planning 101- it's time for the weekly menu plan to be up, so that's going on over there.

As for here at Tummy Treasure, I do have a recipe for you today. I was hesitant about sharing it, to be honest. It's actually another one of my "Default Dinners", and incredibly simple. So simple, that I wondered if I should even share it because it does use a much-maligned convenience product. But share it, I will, because one of the very things that I used to butcher was an old-fashioned Pot Roast. Oh my, I would dry them out every time I tried to make one, or it wouldn't be cooked long enough and it would be tough and stringy and chewy. Every time Andy would come home and see pot roast he would get so excited...and then be subsequently disappointed by my offering. Cooking large cuts of meat just didn't come naturally to me.

I finally found a recipe that worked wonderfully for cooking from one of my favorite cookbooks Fresh Every Day by Sara Foster. I love that book, and her recipe for Mom's Pot Roast did not disappoint. It produced a succulent cut of meat and it was simply wonderful. I had two problems with it though. One was that it was fairly involved at first, it wasn't the easiest recipe to get together. And secondly, I just don't care for pot roast vegetables. What can I say, I never have. I just don't care for that beefy flavor being cooked into the potatoes and carrots. Blech. But the Mom's Pot Roast was a revelation, and do check out the recipe for that if you're looking for something company worthy and wonderful.

But then one day I had a chuck roast in the fridge that needed to be cooked, and I was short a few of the ingredients for Mom's Pot Roast, and what was I going to do? I was also short of hands on time, so I needed a quick fix. I did what any harried and huried person would do, I reached deep (deep I tell you!) into the pantry and pulled out...a can of condensed French Onion soup. I looked at the roast, looked at the soup, and decided it would do. The roast went into a roasting pan with a lid, followed by a sprinkling of salt and pepper. I popped the top on the soup, poured it over the roast, added the lid to the pot, and shoved it into the oven to be forgotten about for 2 or more hours. And I'll tell you, a short while later the house smelled heavenly, and I had hope for this meal-in-a-hurry.

Not only did it turn out, but we thought the roast was fantastic. It needed nothing else except some roasted vegetables to accompany. Maybe some bread or mashed potatoes to swipe up the gravy with, but really, that lone can of soup made magic in that pot. I did take the extra step to thicken the juices and drippings with some flour when it came out of the oven, but even that needed nothing more than a little more fresh pepper to season it. If you wanted to dress it up, you could maybe add a few pinches of dried thyme when you add the can of soup, but otherwise, it's perfect just as it is. I have also used this recipe in the crock-pot on low for 6-8 hours (which depends on which crock I am using that day), and that worked out great as well. Sometimes, you just can't beat convenience, and with the ease with which this came together, it's something we repeat quite often.

*Don't forget! Tomorrow is Thursday! I promise, you won't want to miss tomorrow here at Tummy Treasure- so be sure and drop in. It will be well worth your time to see what's new and exciting here! (And no Mom, I'm not pregnant!)

Foolproof Pot Roast

1 (3 lb) chuck roast
salt and pepper to taste
1 can condensed French Onion soup
2 tablespoons flour
1/4 cup water
additional pepper as needed

Preheat oven to 325ºF.

Season the roast lightly with salt and pepper, and place in a dutch oven or other roasting pan with a lid.

Pour the condensed soup over the roast (do not add water). Put the lid on the pot and slide in the oven.

Do not disturb for 2 hours. Smaller size roasts will be done around 2 hours- larger roasts may take longer. Check to see that the meat is falling apart- when it does that, it's ready. If it doesn't fall apart, it needs more time- give it 20 minutes increments until done.

Remove from the oven and set aside for 15 minutes- leave the lid on!

Transfer the roast to a serving platter. Pour the juices left behind into a saucepan over medium-high heat.

Combine the flour and water, whisking until combined. Add to the pan juices, stirring constantly. Bring to a boil and check for seasonings- I usually find it needs added pepper, but not salt.

Once the mixture has come to a boil, it's done. Pour over the roast and serve immediately.

Serves 4

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

It's Tag Time!

I'm really excited today! Do you know why? Because it's only two days to Thursday- and I can't wait to share something exciting! make sure you come back on Thursday to find out what has me jumping for joy this week!

It's been a long while since I've been tagged for anything, and in just over a week I've been tagged three times! Today I'll take care of two of the tags, but I still have to figure out what I'm doing for the third tag- it's a little more involved than sharing a little bit about me. Today I've been tagged for the "Sevens Meme" by Elisabeth from Cooking From Cathedral Hill, and I've also been tagged for a "Five Little Bits Meme" by Michelle from Cooking The Books. I thought I'd combine the two and see how I do with Twelve random little bits and truths about me.

1. If you don't know me IRL, I have insanely long hair. It's all the way down to my backside- and curly. I've always wanted my hair this long, but never had the guts to grow it so long. Now that I've grown it so long, part of me wants to cut it, but now I'm afraid to do so. I'm in a state of catch-22 with my hair right now.

2. I play the drums. Specifically right now I play the congas and other percussion, but I can tackle a drum set if needed.

3. I hate grape Jello. In fact, just the smell makes me nauseated.

4. My favorite breakfast is cake. If we have cake in the house, I'll eat it for breakfast with a cup of coffee. (Hey, it's not THAT different from a pastry.)

5. My favorite color is Red. Someday, we will live in a house with a red living room. I don't even care if it's an out of date color. I love red, it's so warming and energizing. I love it!

6. One of my absolute favorite TV shows is Project Runway on Bravo. I have a hidden passion for fashion, and every time I watch that show I feel like I can pull out my sewing machine and just whip something together. They sure do make it look easy!

7. Speaking of fashion, I was once offered a scholorship to Johnson & Wales for Fashion Merchandising and Retail Marketing. It was a small scholorship compared to the cost of schooling there...but it was unexpected and generous nonetheless.

8. I still pull out my old Little House on The Prairie books and read them over and over. Growing up I wanted to be Laura in the worst way... if you're ever looking for a great foodie read, The Farmer's Boy is chock full of old-fashioned nibbles and delights.

9. I don't enter a lot of food contests because I'm afraid of being selected to compete. I just don't know how well I'd do with all those cameras following me around and watching my every move. The two times I've been involved in filming a TV show I just couldn't get my tongue to work like I wanted it to- so embarassing!

10. I love chai. I could drink it every day of my life and I'd be a happy person. In fact, you could take away my coffee, and as long as I had chai around I would be content.

11. I don't like peanuts with my ice cream. I have no idea why, I love any kind of nuts in my ice cream or on my ice cream- just not peanuts. (And normally, I like peanuts!)

12. I love, love, love the new 3 Musketeers Mint bars with dark chocolate. Oh, my, gosh, those are amazing! And I'm not even the biggest fan of mint and chocolate together. But there's something about these candy bars that they call to me every time I see one on the shelf.

So there's 12 bits about me that you may have known, or you may not have known. So...on to the tags... if I tag you and you don't feel like doing so, well, that's okay. But I'm going to dish out the tags to either new bloggers, or bloggers who are new to me. I combined two tags, so feel free to pick either the Sevens ot the Fives. I was feeling a little ambitious this morning.

First up is Mandy from A Serving Of Life. Mandy is a local girl- hailing from Oshkosh, and I've been reading her blog on and off for a while. She's a fun sounding girl, and one of the reasons I'm tagging her is because she's part of a site-traffic competition right now. And if she wins- she's going to take the prize money and elope! How fun is that! So stop by her blog if you get a chance to help her out.

Next up, a former swap partner, April from Cookworm. I love checking out what April's been up to. Her photos of her triumphs are definitely drool-worthy

Next is Emily from Happy Vegetable. Emily is a vegan with a brand-new look for her blog. Emily is eating raw right now for 40 days on top of following her vegan diet, and she seems to be doing a great job with it!

Deborah from What's In My Kitchen hasn't been blogging for very long, but everything she cooks and posts about is something I would love to dive into.

And finally, I want to tag Sullicom. His blogging is fun to read, and he seems to be taking a bit of a break to think about where he wants to take his blogging. Maybe a meme or two will inspire a bit.

Monday, February 18, 2008

A Default Dinner

I could have sworn that I've posted this recipe before. Yet when I look through my blogs, I don't see it anywhere, except in mention. That's a shame, because this truly is what my friend over at Talk Of Tomatoes calls a Default Dinner. This is one of those recipes that I make without thinking about it anymore, and it's a staple in our home. What I love best about it is that it's a great way to use leftover ham, and I'm always looking for new ways to use bits of ham. Ham is one of those ultimate budget stretchers because you get so much out of it! It also freezes great so you can cook up a ham, eat some, and then freeze it in portions to use at a later time.

Rotini and Cheese with Broccoli and Ham is really a basic adaptation of macaroni and cheese. It came from Cooking Light magazine several years ago, and it's been a hit since we've first tried it. It comes together quickly and serves up maximum flavor with little effort. It's also basically a complete meal in a bowl. We rounded off the meal with a salad, but it really does stand on its own nicely. It's a hit all around the table, but it's especially noteworthy because Zander gobbles it up and then asks for more. He never does that. We had this for dinner on Saturday, and Sunday night he was busy telling me that we should have "those noodles" again soon. The only problem we had with it was that I used rainbow rotini, and my silly son just could not bring himself to even taste the green noodles. Silly boy.

Before I post the recipe though, I just have to squeeze this little tidbit in here. You'll see me mention it all week this week, because it's really, really exciting. But to find out exactly what is so exciting here at Tummy Treasure, you have to come back on Thursday to find out all about it.

Rotini and Cheese with Broccoli and Ham

Serving Size : 6

4 quarts water
2 cups rotini -- about 8 ozs. pasta
1 package frozen chopped broccoli -- (10-ounce)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups skim milk
1 1/2 cups 2% Milk Velveeta -- (6 ounces) cubed
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup ham -- reduced fat, chopped

Bring water to a boil in a large stockpot. Add pasta; cook 5 minutes. Add broccoli; cook an additional 5 minutes or until pasta is done; drain.

While pasta cooks, lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Place flour in a medium saucepan; gradually add milk, stirring with a whisk until blended. Cook over medium heat 8 minutes or until mixture is thick, stirring frequently.

Remove from heat; stir in cheese and next 4 ingredients (cheese through pepper). Combine pasta mixture, cheese sauce, and ham.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Head On Over...

As I spend this weekend trying to finally rid myself of this horrible cold that just won't go away, I'll be taking another break here. But don't worry! I do happen to have a new post up on Menu Planning 101 this morning on cookbook organization. In addition to sharing what I have though, I'd love to know your thoughts. What do you do to organize your cookbooks? Or the recipes within? I'd love to hear it!

Friday, February 15, 2008

A Burst Of Sunshine!

I was in the mood to bake something, and decided to take a walk through my pantry and see what was in there that I could bake with- that would produce something a little different than normal. My gaze fell upon a large can of crushed pineapple and an unopened package of shredded coconut. As the snow continues to pile up outside and the frigid temperatures just keep getting colder, I knew a taste of summer was exactly what I needed to make.

Yet, I couldn't find quite what I was looking for. I had a bar cookie in mind, something akin to a lemon bar, only made with pineapple and sporting a lovely coconut layer on top. After finding several similar recipes that didn't quite fit the bill, I did a bit of tweaking and came up with my own Piña-Colada Bar.

I began with the crust- shortbread would be fine, except that using brown sugar would offer a caramel note to the crust, so I used brown sugar instead of white. I also opted to use a portion of whole wheat pastry flour. For the filling I simply made a sort of pineapple curd with the crushed pineapple. When I tasted it though, I thought the tartness of the pineapple didn't come through, so a shot of lemon juice helped perk that up a bit. It was the topping though that gave me the most trouble. I didn't want to just sprinkle coconut, and I didn't want to make an icing or glaze. So I made a sort of coconut batter that reminded me of making coconut macaroons and spread that on top. The whole think baked until golden brown, and then I had to wait for it to cool.

I didn't wait long enough. The more these bars cooled, the better they tasted. I was disappointed with the first taste, and wondered what I was going to do with all these bars! But after letting them set completely and then chilling, they turned out to be exactly what I was shooting for. Start to finish these bars took about an hour- well worth it for the glimpse of summer it provided during the winter of never-ending snow and cold.

Piña-Colada Bars
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons cold butter
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 (20 oz) can crushed pineapple in juice
2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
7 oz. sweetened flaked coconut
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 egg whites
1 whole egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon almon extract

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

Spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray.

Combine all-purpose flour, pastry flour, brown sugar and salt in a mixing bowl. Cut in the cold butter with a pastry blender until the butter is well incorporated and the mixture is crumbly.

Press into the 9x13 pan and bake for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine sugar, cornstarch, crushed pineapple with juice, and egg yolks in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and begins to bubble. Remove from heat, and stir in lemon juice.

Pour pineapple mixture over the hot crust, spreading gently with the back of a spoon.

In a small mixing bowl, combine remaining sugar, coconut, flour, salt, egg whites, egg, and extracts. Mix well.

Using a combination of fork and your fingers, dollop coconut mixture all over the pineapple mixture, trying your best to cover all of the pineapple with the coconut evenly.

Return the pan to the oven and bake for an additional 35-40 minutes, or until the coconut is beginning to turn golden brown and the bars seem to be set.

Allow to cool completely before cutting into bars. They taste best after being chilled for awhile as well.

Yield: About 30 bars

It Will Be Okay...

I should have known better than to mess with the blog. I liked it the way it was... but I just was ready for a change. I found a few templates I liked, and tested them on a test blog and then decided to take a deep breath and take the plunge.

Except that once installed, they turned out to not be configured so well, and I was having a tough time with the editing mechanism. I went back and forth on whether or not to just go back to my Shire look...I really spent a lot of time tailoring my identity to fit the blogs look. But, as usual, I got bored with it, so in the end, I've decided to use this basic Blogger look, which is clean and crisp, and hopefully in the near future I'll really have the look I want.

Much better to have a basic blog look than a bad one...and that frantic feeling of the world not being right just wasn't pleasant.

So I'm sure I've missed a few things- specifically I'm concerned about the blogroll. If you notice a blog missing from my sidebar, please let me know- even if it's your own and you're worried about shameless self-promotion, I want to know so I can fix it.

Otherwise, please let me know about any other problems... I'll be back later with a recipe, but for now I think I need a break from the computer screen. It doesn't help that I thought I was feeling much better, and probably tackled too much. Both last night and today I'm feeling not-so-hot again. Please bear with me. Tummy Treasure will be back to it's normal self soon.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Shoot, Shoot, Shoot, Shoot....


Now I've gone and done it.

And I don't like the end result.

Please be patient with me over the next day or so while I right a wrong.

Stupid blog.

It'll have to do for now. It will be a while, and then I'll have all my links back up. Please bear with me.

What To Do With Leftover Yogurt...

I was trying to decide if I should do a Valentine's post today. In the end, I didn't think too hard about it. I looked back in the archives and found that two years ago I didn't post about Valentine's Day, instead I was entirely too buys preparing to cater my sister's wedding. Last year I had the audacity to eschew Valentine's Day in favor of a post about losing weight...I'm so glad that since then I've placed a moratorium on insane ramblings about how to shed a few pounds.

So instead, today I'm going to share with you a fantastic use for that last cup of yogurt you have sitting around. I've been making homemade yogurt lately. It's extremely easy to do, and anyone can do it. I happen to use a yogurt maker, and normally I use milk, dry milk, and a bit of plain yogurt as my starter. This time though, I was out of the powdered milk and wondered how yogurt would turn out without it. So this time it was simply fat free milk and a few tablespoons of plain cultured yogurt to start it. Worked great actually! Without the powdered milk though, the yogurt comes out pretty runny, so I needed to thicken it by scooping it into a strainer to drain. I lined my metal seive with coffee filters and then scooped the yogurt into it. I had meant to let this sit for an hour or so, but before I knew it, several hours had gone by and I had luscious thick and creamy yogurt.

I thought about drizzling it with honey and eating it just like that, but then I noticed that it had an almost cream-cheese like consistency, and I knew it was calling for something special.

I took small bits of red bell pepper, onion, fennel, baby carrot, and radish and chopped them up finely. Total I had about a cup of finely chopped vegetables. I put this into a baking dish, sprinkled with salt and pepper, and then drizzled with heart-healthy olive oil. They then roasted in a 450º oven for about 20 minutes, or until nice and brown on the edges and extremely fragrant. Then I had to let this cool a bit. Once cooled, I simply combined my drained, thickened yogurt with my vegetables, and then added another pinch of salt and pepper. Back into the fridge to chill and meld they went, and later at dinner time I was rewarded with an amazing roasted vegetable dip. Using fat-free yogurt, no less. The only fat in this thing is the bit of olive oil, which actually increases the good cholesterol, so for us, we'll keep it in.

I served it up with whole wheat crackers to accompany some soup for dinner, but it would be awesome with crudite as well. In fact, It would also make an excellent dip for just about anything, and if you wanted, you could also give the vegetables a whiz around the food processor to make this more of a spread for tortilla roll-ups or for sandwiches. It would make an excellent spread for a smoked turkey or ham sandwich. I may just have that for lunch today, actually. So here's my Valentine's Day gift to you, a fantastic Roasted Vegetable Dip that you can enjoy with no guilt. It's truly delicious. The only thing I didn't add that I should have would be a clove of garlic to the roasting vegetables. I think I would slice it thinly so that it didn't burn before the rest of the vegetables were done. And of course, herbs could only make this better. Play with it as you will, and enjoy. I know we are!

Roasted Vegetable Dip

1/4 cup red bell pepper -- finely chopped
1/4 cup yellow onion -- finely chopped
1/4 cup fennel bulb -- finely chopped
1/8 cup baby carrots -- finely chopped
1/8 cup radishes -- finely chopped
1 clove garlic -- thinly sliced
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup nonfat yogurt -- drained for several hours

Preheat oven to 450º.

Combine chopped vegetables and garlic in a small oven safe dish. Drizzle with olive oil, some of the salt, and some of the pepper.

Roast for about 20 minutes, stirring once.

Allow vegetables to cool.

Combine with drained yogurt, adding remaining salt and pepper if needed.

Chill for about 1 hour to allow the yogurt to firm back up and the flavors to meld together.

Serve with crackers or vegetables.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

More from Mr. Bittman

It's official. How To Cook Everything Vegetarian is an official reference source for my kitchen. Often times I'll buy a cookbook and cook with it when it's brand new, but then it sits on my shelf and waits patiently for me to be in the mood to cook with it again. Hence my, ahem, Cookbook Challenge that needs some serious attention. I've managed to weed my cookbooks with that challenge, and actually, just buying this massive Bittman book I had to weed again. I have literally maxed out my cookbook shelves. I either need to figure out another place to store them if I want more, or I need to continue weeding. So far, weeding seems to work, but I so hate to lose a cookbook...

Anyway. The other day I had some homemade yogurt sitting around needing to be used. I'm the only one here who likes to eat plain yogurt- unless it's in tzatziki or a raita. Since there's no Indian or Greek on the menu anytime soon, I decided to drain it a bit and do...something with it. The idea came to me to use it as a filling for some Crêpes. The idea was cemented when on a shopping trip, Zander pointed to a lovely carton of blackberries and told me he wanted them. They were beautiful and plump and reasonably priced, so they came home with us, and I needed to feature them. I was going to fold them with my drained yogurt and honey to fill some crêpes, but then I decided that would be a waste of great blackberries, and instead, they'd be a garnish.

Instead, I sliced some apples and caramelized them with some butter,brown sugar and cinnamon, and then folded that into the drained yogurt. That would have been awesome to eat just like that! But I forged ahead and made my crêpes.

I love making crêpes, and don't do so near often enough. Every time I make them I am instantly transported back to eighth grade where I had my first crêpe experience in my foreign language class. Madame was really French, I remember that about her, she spoke with a beautiful accent, and while she appeared to be tough, she really just wanted to convey her passion for speaking other languages. She did her best to immerse us into the languages and cultures as best as possible, and the day we made crêpes I remember her lovingly pulling that tiny bottle of orange flower water out of her cupboard and treating it like liquid gold. Those crêpes were amazing, and I've never had them quite the same again. Even the crêperie can't compare.

But these crêpes were suitable, and they were very simple to make. They were fantastic stuffed with yogurt and caramelized apples, and the blackberries scattered about on the plate made this offering elegant as well.

**As an added note this morning, I also have a new weekly menu plan up over at Menu Planning 101- it has some repeats from last week, but be sure and check that out. Also, let me know how you like the new look over there!


from Mark Bittman's
How To Cook Everything Vegetarian

1 cup all-purpose flour
Pinch salt
1 tablespoon sugar (optional)
1 1/4 cups milk, plus more if needed
2 eggs
2 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled, plus more for cooking

1. Whisk together all the ingredients except the butter for cooking until smooth; you can do this in a blender. If the mixture isn't quite pourable, add a little more milk. If the time allows, let the batter rest in the refrigerator for an hour or up to 24 hours.

2. Put an 8 or 10 inch nonstick skillet over medium heat and wait a couple of minutes; add a small pat of butter. Stir the batter and use a large spoon or ladle to pour a couple of tablespoons of the batter into the skillet. Swirl it around so that it forms a thin layer on the bottom of the pan.

3. When the top of the crêpe is dry, after about a minute, turn and cook the other side for 15 to 30 seconds. (The crêpe should brown only very slightly and not become crisp at all.) Bear in mind that the first crêpe almost never works, even for professionals, so discard it if necessary, there is plenty of batter.

4. Stack the crêpes on a plate as you make them, and keep them warm in a low oven while you make the remaining crêpes. Even better, fill each crêpe while it's still in the pan, putting the filling in the center of the bottom third of the crêpe. If you want your filling warmed, keep the pan over low heat for a few minutes. Either roll the crêpe starting at the end with the filling or fold the bottom third over the filling, fold in the sides, then fold the crêpe from the bottom up. Slide it onto a plate and serve. Repeat the process, adding butter to the skillet and adjusting the heat as needed, until all the batter is used up.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

These Were So Worth The Wait!

Yes, you are looking at two loaves of CHOCOLATE bread. To be specific, two loaves of Chocolate Braids from the current issue of Taste of Home magazine. The second I looked through this issue, these jumped off the page and yelled at me "Make me! Make me!" Well, I was sidelined for a few days, but they were definitely worth waiting for. It was a light bulb moment for me today as I kneaded chocolate dough. Cocoa powder in bread? Think of the possibilities! And then adding the cream cheese filling this way- think of those possibilities! Think of a savory rosemary dough filled with a sun-dried tomato flavored cream cheese! My goodness, there are so many possibilities here.

I only have a few things to mention about this specific recipe. First, when it calls for 1/3 cup of honey- use 1/3 cup of honey. I was about 2 tablespoons short, so I used sugar...I should have gone with my instincts and used corn syrup, but as a result, I ended up needing far less flour- it worked out okay, but there would have been more bread had I been able to add the correct amount of flour. Secondly, I think next time I would cut the topping in half. That ended up being a lot of topping, and there was no way I could get it all on in the first place- much of it ended up on the pan next to the loaves. Half would suffice, and while the original recipe called for macadamia nuts, I chose the more budget-friendly walnut.

And finally, a note about cutting the dough. I had to read this through a few times before I understood completely what it was saying. Read the recipe completely before just going ahead and cutting the rolled dough. Note that it says to cut in half lengthwise. It seemed strange to do so at first, and note that you also do not cut all the way through both ends. Stop about one inch shy of one end, so your loaves have a point that holds together. But the result is stunning to look at, not to mention absolutely delicious. (The photos above are before the topping went on.) Chocolate bread. Who knew? By the way, I don't see any reason why this couldn't be made vegan by eliminating the butter and using a vegan friendly buttery-spread instead (or for that matter, using oil in the bread dough itself and a buttery spread for the topping), as well as using a plant-based milk in the drizzle at the end.

Chocolate Braids

2 packages active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1/3 cup honey -- divided
6 tablespoons butter -- softened
1 egg
1/2 cup cocoa
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups bread flour -- to 3 cups
Cream Cheese Filling:
4 Ounces cream cheese -- softened
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter -- cold
1/4 cup chopped nuts
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon cocoa
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
3 tablespoons milk

In a large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add 2 teaspoons honey; let stand for 5 minutes.

Add the butter, egg, cocoa, salt, 1 1/2 cups bread flour, and remaining honey. Beat for 2 minutes, or until smooth. Stir in enough remaining bread flour to form a soft dough.

Turn out onto a floured surface knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes.

Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.

Punch dough down, divide in half. On a lightly floured surface, roll one portion into a 12x7 rectangle.

In a small mixing bowl, beat together the filling ingredients until smooth. Spread half of the filling over the dough to within 1-inch of the edges. Roll up jelly roll style, starting with the long side; pinch the seams to seal.

Place seam side down on a greased baking sheet. With a sharp knife, carefully cut roll in half lengthwise, not cutting all the way through one end. Carefully, turn cut sides up. Loosely twist strips around each other, keeping cut sides up. Pinch ends to seal.

Repeat with remaining dough and filling. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.

For the topping, combine the flour, sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl; cut in butter until crumbly. Add nuts, and sprinkle over risen loaves.

Bake at 350ºF for 30-35 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from pans to wire racks to cool. Combine icing ingredients and drizzle over loaves.

"Taste of Home"
"Feb/Mar 2008"
"2 loaves"


Well, I think I'm mostly well. I'm still a little lightheaded, but for the most part, I think I'll be able to function normally today. Yikes. And this was just a cold! I sure hope the flu stays away this year... speaking of colds this morning, if you consider yourself a praying person, please think of my little niece this morning. She is not quite 4 months old and is in the hospital being observed for RSV and is pretty miserable. So say a few prayers for Cori to be well enough to go home please!

Anyway, watch this space! Now that I'm feeling a bit better, I'm hoping to get around to baking up something that I've been meaning to bake up for a few days now... I'm going to try my hardest to get at that today after I do a little sterilizing of the home here... so stay tuned!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Still Not Functioning...

Apparently my children have much better constitutions than I. I've spent the last two days alternating between bed and the couch. Thank goodness it was the weekend and both Andy and Abigail were around. I think Andy got a good taste of being Mom and is happy to return to Dad duty this morning. I still feel like I've been put through a wringer-washing machine. However, with a busy 4 year old around, I will hardly be able to nap when I feel like it. It's going to be a very long day.

To pass the time though, I have pulled a chicken carcass from the freezer and I'll be making a pot of this soup today. Simple and basic, but terribly delicious, and it may be just what I need to try and kick this cold to the curb. My only change will be to use homemade chicken stock instead of the canned broth.

Chicken Noodle Soup

2 teaspoons butter
1 cup sliced celery
1 cup chopped carrots
1/2 cup chopped onions
1 small potato -- diced
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
4 cans chicken broth -- (14 ounce)
2 teaspoons chicken bouillon
4 ounces egg noodles
2 cups cooked chicken

Melt butter in large pot.

Saute the celery, carrot and onion for 2 minutes.

Add potato, thyme, poultry seasoning, chicken broth and boullion.

Bring to a boil.

Add noodles and chicken and cook on low for 20 minutes.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Germs, Germs Go Away

I didn't post this morning with the intention of making something delicious today and posting about it fresh out of the oven.

Well, around noon today I took a break from my housework for the day, and haven't been able to find my energy ever since. It's like I've hit a bit of a wall, and now I'm totally regretting not getting more accomplished this morning before taking that lunch break.

So some chamomile tea and honey are soothing a sudden sore throat, and I can only hope that the tiny sniffles my children have had this week are all that awaits me.

But the benefits of menu planning! I don't even have to think about dinner tonight-it's already done for me, and who can't pop pizza into the oven? I guess I'll be taking a break for the weekend here- do check out Menu Planning 101 Saturday if you get a chance. I'll be putting the finishing touches on a post about recipe organization (I hope) and I'll have that up tomorrow. Have a great weekend everyone-and stay warm!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Soup Of The Week: Tortilla Soup

Last night's soup was a new one for us. I've made variations of tortilla soup before, adding this and that to a pot, then stirring in some tortillas or chips and calling it tortilla soup. I've never actually followed a recipe for tortilla soup, though. Until yesterday. I was looking through my soup recipes, really looking for one that used all on-hand ingredients, but also looking for something my kids would eat. I'd originally planned to make a homemade chicken and stars, but that just wasn't sounding great to me. I passed by the tortilla soups a few times, assuming they'd be spicy, but then I went back to them, and I was surprised to find I had everything on hand for one of the recipes.

This tortilla soup is fondly known to the folks at the CLBB as RebeccaT's Tortilla Soup. She was the one who first shared it, and ever since then, so many people have made it and added it to their soup repertoirs. It was about time I did the same. I made one major change to the soup, and that was that I didn't use the chicken called for. Instead, I slowly braised some pork I had in the freezer until it was fork tender, and added that to the soup. In addition, I added a can of corn to the pot to appeal to the kids, and then I added a squeeze of lime at the table.

Can I just say that this soup was a real wow for me! It was delicious and hearty without being overly so. It was perfect with some homemade bread and I can't believe I haven't made it sooner. I have to say though, that I cannot imagine this soup being as good with chicken as it was with pork. The pork melded with the cilantro and spices so beautifully, that I'll probably never try it with the chicken. On a side note, to make this a vegetarian soup you could use a vegetable broth, and instead of the meat, I think I would use navy beans- something white anyway. A leafy green like spinach could stand up to the soup as well, and I would consider that addition as well.

Tortilla Soup

6 tablespoons vegetable oil
8 corn tortillas -- chopped
6 garlic cloves -- minced
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 medium onion -- chopped
1 can diced tomatoes -- (28 oz) undrained
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon chili powder
3 bay leaves
6 cups chicken stock
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 cooked chicken breast halves -- shredded (about 2 cups) (Or cooked and shredded pork)

Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat.

Add tortillas, garlic, cilantro, and onion. Saute 2 to 3 minutes.

Stir in tomatoes. Bring to a boil and add cumin, chili powder, bay leaves, and chicken stock. Return to a boil. Reduce heat. Add salt and cayenne. Simmer 30 minutes.

Remove bay leaves and stir in chicken. Reheat.

Garnish with monterey jack, avocado, sour cream, tortilla strips and a squeeze of lime

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Baked Oatmeal for Breakfast

I love oatmeal. My husband loves oatmeal. My kids think it's okay, but it's not their favorite. They'd rather have cold cereal any day. Usually though, if Andy wants oatmeal for breakfast before he heads to work he uses those microwave packets. Not all of them are bad- but not all of them are good, and since he is a big guy, he needs at least two packets to give him sustenance. He doesn't care to take the time to cook up a bowl of oatmeal on the stove- and who can blame him! At 4:30 in the morning, I don't want to be cooking up oatmeal either!

So this week I made up a big pan of Baked Oatmeal for him to eat all week. I love making baked oatmeal. I doubled the batch and baked it in a 9x13 pan, and he's able to lob off chunks of it all week and heat it up in the microwave before work. It works beautifully. He gets homemade, whole grain oatmeal with fruit and no preservatives, for the same amount of work as an instant packet.

In menu planning news this morning, I have a one-week dinner plan up at Menu Planning 101, so be sure and check that out if that interests you this morning.

Also, a big Happy Birthday to "The Mom"! I'll stop by later with some prune juice for you!

Baked Oatmeal
3 cups milk, plus more for serving if desired
6 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons margarine
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
2 apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
3/4 cup dried cranberries, raisins, or other berries
3/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

Combine milk, brown sugar, margarine and cinnamon in a saucepan. Cook, stirring frequently, until it comes to a boil. Remove from heat.

In a mixing bowl, combine the oats, apple, cranberries, and nuts. Add the hot milk mixture and stir well to combine.

Spray a 9x9 square baking dish with cooking spray. Pour oatmeal into the baking dish and bake in a 350º oven for 30 minutes.

Serve immediately, or refrigerate and heat up individual portions in the microwave.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

A Bit of A Disappointment To Me

I love my Cooking Light annuals. They have to be some of my favorite cookbooks, because I'm always using them. You never know when your tastes are going to change, and something you passed up a year ago now sounds great to you. Recently I made the Cheddar Chicken Chowder again, and just as every time I make it, I pull out the book, and on the same page is a recipe for Peanut Butter Fudge Cups. And every time I look at that, I think I should make them sometime. They seemed easy enough, so I finally decided to break them out and make them up for Super Bowl Sunday.

They were a little time-consuming, but not overly so- just a few steps. First I made the Peanut Butter cookie base and pressed that into my mini-muffin tin. Then I cooked up the chocolate filling, which took just a few minutes to thicken. Then the chocolate went into the cookie crust, and then into the oven. They baked up into some impressive looking gems, and I was looking forward to trying them. And when I did...well, I was disappointed.

I thought the chocolate filling was nice- it was deep and chocolatey without being too sweet. The peanut butter crust though...really didn't taste like much, and I also didn't care for the soft texture too much. The peanut butter was there, it just wasn't impressive like I'd hoped. If I were to make these again, I would use creamy peanut butter, first of all. And secondly, I think I would add a pinch of baking soda to the peanut butter cookie part to try and get it to crisp up a bit. I may make them again and play with them- I thought they were pretty and I did like the chocolate filling, so we'll see. And I also have to say that company thought they were great- so the "meh" may just be from me.

Peanut Butter Fudge Cups
from Cooking Light Annual, 2002

Serving Size : 24

1/4 cup chunky peanut butter
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons chilled butter -- cut into small pieces
1 1/2 tablespoons corn syrup
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons cold water
Cooking spray
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
2 tablespoons semisweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon butter
3 tablespoons 1% low-fat milk
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 large egg
2 teaspoons powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350°.

To prepare crust, place first 4 ingredients in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until smooth. Lightly spoon 1 cup flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Add flour and salt to peanut butter mixture; cut in flour with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle surface with cold water, 1 tablespoon at a time; toss with a fork until combined.

Shape mixture into 24 balls. Place 1 ball in each of 24 miniature muffin cups coated with cooking spray. Press dough into bottoms and up sides of muffin cups.

To prepare filling, combine 2/3 cup brown sugar and the next 4 ingredients (2/3 cup brown sugar through milk) in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook 3 to 4 minutes or until smooth, stirring frequently. Remove from heat; stir in 2 tablespoons flour and egg until well blended. Divide chocolate mixture evenly among muffin cups. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes or until the pastry is lightly browned; cool in pan on a wire rack 5 minutes. Run a knife around outside edges of cups. Remove cups from pan; cool completely on wire rack. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Bittman's Empanada Dough

Every year my Super Bowl menu is dictated by the host city. That tends to keep the menu varied as it moves from city to city, plus it can be challenge to come up with foods that match the host city- Detroit anyone? We love Super Bowl Sunday- it definitely ranks right up there as a food event for us, and since it's technically the first real food event of the year, we like to put out quite the spread. This year, since the Super Bowl was in Arizona, the theme was easily Southwestern. We had another friend offer to make Rick Bayless's Smoky Pork Tacos, as well as a salad, so I needed to come up with something different. At first I was thinking of enchiladas, but we've been having those quite a bit, so I wanted to do something different.

I was already making a layered taco dip, Drunken Beans, desserts, and some hot wings, but I needed something that fit with the Southwestern theme, and in the end Mr. Bittman came to my rescue with his recipe for Bean and Cheese empanadas. Only I didn't want to stuff them with beans and cheese. I had it in my mind to make a chicken, corn and chipotle filling, so I started with that. The chicken was easy. I had a large roasting chicken that I cooked up for the previous night's dinner, so there was a lot of chicken leftover. I dug a chipotle chili out of the freezer, and opened up a can of corn. It was that easy. The chipotle I chopped finely, and then mixed with some tomato paste and a few ladle-fulls of freshly made chicken stock. Then I chopped the chicken finely and mixed in the corn and the tomato-chipotle mixture. Quick and tasty!

The empanada dough came together in a snap as well. I followed Mark Bittman's recipe and was mostly pleased with the results. I was out of shortening, so I opted to use the oil he suggested...I have to say, I think the shortening would have made a better result. The empanada dough made with the oil was greasy to work with- it still turned out fine, but I'd like to try it with the shortening to see how they compare. I also opted to make my empanadas smaller- I probably got about 20 out of one batch of dough. The flavor was great, and the only real changes I made to them was that I pricked them with a fork before baking, and I left off the milk at the end. They still turned out gorgeous and delicious.

So will I make them again? Oh yes, they are great, and the sky's the limit as far as the fillings are concerned. I really want to do a pork and chili verde filling, with lots of cilantro and queso fresco, they would be amazing! But I have to say this, it takes a bit of time to roll, fill, and bake 60 empanadas. It was a lot of work, so make sure you have the time available before tackling them.

Bean and Cheese Empanadas

from Mark Bittman's How To Cook Everything Vegetarian

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus a little more
1/2 cup masa harina, fine cornmeal or more all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons shortening or vegetable oil
2 1/2 cups cooked and well-seasoned beans
2 cups grated or crumbled queso fresco, Monterey Jack, or coltija cheese
1/2 cup milk

1. Mix the flour, masa harina, baking powder, and salt together in the food processor and process for about 5 seconds. With the machine running, add the 1/2 cup shortening and process for 10 seconds. Then, with the machine running, add about 1/2 cup cold water, just enough for the dough to form a ball. Don't add more water than necessary; the dough should be fairly dry. Knead by hand until smooth, just a minute or so.

2. Divide into 12 pieces, roll into balls, and wrap in plastic or cover with a damp towel and let rest for at elast 20 minutes. (You can refrigerate the dough overnight; be sure to let it come to room temperature before proceeding.) On a well-floured surface, rolle ach piece into a 6-inch circle, adding flour as necessary.

3. Preheat the oven to 450ºF. Place a couple of tablespoons of the beans in the center of each circle of dough, followed by a sprinkling of cheese, then fold each circle overl seal the seam with a few drops of water and press with the tines of a fork to close. Put on an ungreased baking sheet and brush lightly with milk. Bake until the dough is golden brown and hot, and about 20 minutes. Serve immediately or at room temperature.

**The sky is the limit with these empanadas, they will take well to any filling, as long as the filling isn't too wet.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

After Careful Thought and Consideration...

And even though I know everyone voted and agreed that Menu Planning 101 should happen here on Tummy Treasure, I've decided against that. The menu planning posts are getting quite long, and it also seems to me that they would be most effective compiled into one spot. So I've started up Menu Planning 101, a blog specifically for that purpose. I will update it on occasion with the next post, and then announce it here every single time for those interested. Sometimes, maybe I will do a cross-post or an exerpt as well. I just think this is going to be a better way to do it.

So this morning you will find a post about my pantry basics- what do I try to keep on hand at all times? The list actually surprised me a bit when I saw how long it was. You can find it here at Menu Planning 101.

If you're not interested in Menu Planning, perhaps you are searching for something new to add to your Super Bowl menu? Check out this recipe for Buffalo Pierogi, it's fun and tasty, and would be a great alternative for the vegetarians at your party who always gaze longingly at the hot wings. You can really use any pierogi you'd like- frozen or homemade will work just fine.

Buffalo Pierogies

4 1/2 teaspoons hot pepper sauce
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 package frozen Mrs. T's pierogies potato and roasted garlic
blue cheese salad dressing

Preheat oven to 400.

Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. COmbine hot sauce, oil, and chili powder. Add pierogies and toss to coat. Arrange on baking sheet.

Bake about 20 minutes, turning after 10 minutes. Serve with blue cheese dressing and celery sticks.

Friday, February 1, 2008


This whole week has been kind of haphazard when it comes to dinner. Despite my recent focus on menu planning, would you believe I haven't been in the mood for it this week! But I have been determined to spend some time going through my freezers and using some things that have been in there a while. That happened yesterday. I was looking through the herbs in my freezer when I spied a small Gladware bowl that was purple on the inside. Despite the layer of frost on it, I determined that this was some frozen mixed berries, and instantly I thought of how much Zander loves berries. So I pulled them out to thaw, thinking that if they tasted okay, they would make a fantastic topping for some pancakes for an easy dinner.

Then I was in the other freezer, and I saw 10 frozen zipper bags of onions from a very long time ago. I guess those need to be used too- so I pulled one package out and tried to think of what I could do with it for dinner to go with pancakes. It wasn't long before I settled on the idea of making a fritatta to accompany those pancakes. I carmalized the onions low and slow on the stove while beating some eggs, half & half, salt, pepper, and some beautiful Irish Cheddar cheese. By this time, the berries had thawed, and were perfect for topping pancakes. I warmed them up with a little cornstarch to thicken.

The real surprise came at dinner time last night. See, I never make eggs or fritatta for dinner, because for the most part, my kids don't like eggs. Abigail will eat them hard-boiled or scrambled, some of the time. Zander will eat the egg yolks from hard-boiled, but he says he really doesn't like eggs. So I put a very tiny wedge of this fritatta on their plates, thinking they would simply ignore the eggs in favor of the fruity pancakes. I certainly didn't tell them there were onions in the eggs. Abigail went right for them! She took a bite and told me she really likes eggs that taste that good, and then proceeded to eat two pieces of fritatta. Zander followed suit and finished his piece, telling me that he really likes eggs with his favorite white cheese in them. I simply cannot convey here on this blog, with this keyboard, how shocked I was with my children last night! They enjoyed the pancakes and berries as well, but they inhaled those eggs! My egg-haters enjoyed that fritatta and then told me I needed to make that again for dinner sometime.

I guess the lesson learned here is that you just have to keep on trying. Your children may be the pickiest kids on the planet, but you never know when they're going to deside that strange food on their plate is going to look good to them, and they're going to take a bite and enjoy it. And I'm thrilled, because now I can add eggs more often to dinner, and I don't have to worry about my children starving. Here's the fritatta we had- I was tempted to add some bell pepper, but I gotta tell you, less is more here, especially if you have good cheese. Anything on hand will make a fine substitute.

Quick Fritatta

6 eggs
1/4 cup half & half
pinch of salt and pepper to taste
1 cup diced onions, carmalized slowly in 1 tsp olive oil
1/3 cup shredded Irish cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350º. Spray a 9-inch pie plate with cooking spray. Beat the eggs and half and half together with a whisk- beating well until creamy and full of bubbles. Beat in seasoning and stir in the onions. Place the shredded cheese in the bottom of the pie plate, and then pour the egg mixture on top of it.

Bake in a 350º oven for about 20 minutes, or until the eggs are set and the edges begin to brown. Serve immediately.