Thursday, February 25, 2010

Monkeybread...Not just for monkeys!!

Now I just want to begin by saying that I'm quite sure you've had monkeybread before. It's probably been around for centuries...well, at least as long as poppin' fresh dough has been around, anyway. But sometimes a recipe is so good that you only allow yourself to make it for "special occasions" and in doing so, you hardly ever make it because maybe "special occasions" don't come around as often as they should.

Yes, I am familiar with this scenario. It happens to me all the time.

And it leaves me wondering...just what constitutes a "special occasion"?

And more importantly, "Why don't I make monkeybread more often?"

Well I don't have a plausible reason, but listen up folks...things are going to change around here! From now on, I declare that monkeybread will be a staple in my house! Yes, I love it that much.

And I'm sure you do too, so what are you waiting for? Make it for the ones you love this weekend! It's the perfect Saturday or Sunday breakfast item to go with some fluffy scrambled eggs and tasty sausage. The gooey, buttery, stickiness is divine...the cinnamon sugar, to die for! Three cheers for monkeybread!!


(3) 10 ct. tubes of refrigerated buttermilk biscuits, not the flaky kind
1 c. butter
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 c. sugar
2-3 tsp. cinnamon
chopped pecans

First, lightly butter the inside of a bundt pan and preheat your oven to 350. Now, open up those tubes of biscuit dough and cut each biscuit into quarters. Next, take a large-sized ziploc bag and put 1 cup of sugar and 2-3 teaspoons of cinnamon in it, seal it, and give it a good shake to combine. Next, throw those quartered biscuits in there and shake those too, so that the pieces are all coated in cinnamon sugar goodness. Don't worry if they stick's no big deal, I promise. Take all of the coated biscuit pieces out of the bag and put them into the bundt pan. I usually sprinkle my chopped pecans in randomly with the pieces. You can leave them out if you're not a nut person, like my hubby...but I personally like the nuts! The bigger, the better! I'm not sure what this says about me.

Now, in a small saucepan, melt the butter and brown sugar together over medium heat, stirring. When it's all melted and combined, pour it all over the biscuit pieces. Really let 'em soak it up! It will be worth it, I promise!

Now bake it for 35-40 minutes, until it's a nice, golden brown. Let it sit for 5 or 10 minutes before inverting it onto a really want the dough to soak up all that gooey goodness! After you invert it, grab a timer and see how long it takes to disappear!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Southern Potato Soup

There's nothing better on an arctic February day than a warm bowl of potato soup and that is why Karen, our fabulous hostess for this month's Potato Tasting Party, served it as the grand finale. It was soothing and savory and Oh, soooo heavenly! Moans of happiness and complete satisfaction could be heard all around the table as we blissfully slurped our soup.

If you've been looking for a great winter potato soup, congratulations, your search is over! We have for you, the best of the best right here!

Eat with our blessing!

Southern Potato Soup

8 to 10 Slices Bacon, diced
4 Tablespoons Butter
1/2 Cup Diced Celery
One Cup Diced Onion
8 Green Onions, thinly sliced
1/3 Cup All-Purpose Flour
3 Cups Chicken Broth
2 Cups Half-and-Half
4 Large Baking Potatoes, baked, peeled, and diced
One Teaspoon Salt, or to taste
1/4 Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
8 Ounces Sour Cream
8 Ounces Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
Sliced Green Onion for garnish, optional

In a Dutch oven or large kettle over medium heat, cook the bacon until crisp. Remove bacon to paper towels to drain and pour the bacon drippings into a cup. Put 2 tablespoons of bacon drippings back into the pan along with the butter, chopped onion, and celery. Cook, stirring until vegetables are tender.

Stir in the sliced green onion and flour until blended. Stir in chicken broth; cover and continue cooking, stirring frequently, until the mixture is thickened and vegetables are very tender.

Stir in half-and-half, diced potatoes, salt, pepper, and cheese. Continue cooking until cheese is melted. Blend about half of the soup in batches until smooth. Add the blended soup back to the pot and add sour cream. Cook, stirring constantly, until soup is hot. Serve the soup garnished with bacon and extra sliced green onion, if desired.

And hey, if you like chunks of potato in your soup, don't blend it all!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Potato Pancakes and Sauerkraut

Hey! Food Alert!

Today is International Pancake Day!!

How 'bout that!? And it just so happens we have a pancake recipe for just this ever-so-special occasion! It's not your everyday pancake - there's no maple syrup involved - but who wants an ordinary pancake on such an extraordinary day such as International Pancake Day!?

Remember our Potato Tasting Party??......

As promised, here are the wonderful and savory pancakes we first tasted at the Potato Party last weekend. They weren't heavy but they were filling, which is a wonderful kitchen trick. I believe Patty brought this recipe home from Germany, which totally explains the sauerkraut!

GenieBen Sie!

Potato Pancakes

3 Medium Red Potatoes, cut in pieces
One Medium Onion, chopped
3 Eggs
Olive Oil
Sour Cream

In blender or food processor, blend first 3 ingredients until smooth. Cook in oil in skillet at low heat until browned on both sides. You want these pancakes to cook slow so the potatoes get a chance to warm all the way patience will be required. Top with warmed sour cream and sauerkraut.

That's it! All done! Short and sweet...and delicious!


Did you notice there are no seasonings mentioned, such as salt and pepper? That's because such seasonings threaten to mess with the flavor of the sauerkraut and we don't want to mess with a flavor as distinct as sauerkraut. As our good friend and naturopath, Patty reminds us regularly, it is important to get protein at every meal, so adding a little turkey sausage to the kraut would be a great way to make this a balanced breakfast.....or lunch...or even dinner.

All we can tell you is that it was a solid hit at our Potato Tasting Party so we are highly recommending that you try some potato pancakes of your own.

We are confident that you will come up with many different variations of this recipe, as possibilities of toppings and seasonings are endless....Impress yourself!

Celebrate this day RIGHT by eating pancakes for dinner!

Monday, February 15, 2010

You say Potato, We say Potata!

That's right, it's Food Tasting Time again and this month we're tasting potatoes. If you think they all taste the same, think again.

Karen was our fabulous hostess this month and she started us out with some stellar Potato Pancakes, with a little help from Patty! We all came hungry and ready to eat, so they were gone in a flash. Once those little "appetizers" were gone, it was time to move on to the main event - the tasting.

We started with the sweet variety, which was the Garnet Yam (pictured above) and boy did the girls like this one!

"It's so sweet and moist...tastes like candy!"

Which is exactly why I didn't like it. I have this weird thing about my potatoes being sweet. I could tell the flavor was good, I'm just not comfortable with a sweet potato.

Bake, roast, boil, steam, candy, scallop, or mash this beautiful garnet yam - whatever your heart desires - you won't be disappointed if sweet yams are your thing.

Next, we sliced up a Jewel Yam, (pictured above) which was also well received, but everybody was quick to point out that it wasn't as sweet as the garnet. It was described as a much earthier yam. Three of the girls were still crushing on the garnet, but Patty liked the earthy quality of this sweet yam and put it at the top of her "Love List."

This Jewel can be baked, broiled, or fried to make crunchy chips, grated or steamed. They're perfect for flavoring cakes, breads, and muffins.

And then, we tasted an actual sweet potato. Compared to the two yams, the "sweet" potato didn't taste so sweet, which was why I liked it! For everybody else, this potato could not compete with the yams, but I liked it as much as I can like a sweet potato.

By the way, are you wondering how we went about tasting these potatoes? Well, Karen baked each one wrapped in foil to keep the peels nice and moist. She simply sliced each one and allowed each of us to sample a slice. Some of us ate the potato pure, while others chose to dab our slice with a touch of butter. It was important to all of us to get a true sense of the flavor of each potato.

With that said, our desire for a true tasting served us well when it came to tasting the potato simply called, "the white potato." We were all a little stunned by the complete lack of flavor in this potato, whose boring name seemed quite appropriate considering it's lackluster flavor. I think I speak for all of us taste testers when I say this potato was "blaaaah."

Moving on.....

Bouncing back from that tasteless little spud, we moved on to the Russet Potato. He's a good potato for mashing and his flavor was much more appealing and evident than the white's. We all agreed we had a good well-rounded flavor for your average potato.

And then there's the Red Potato - who doesn't love the Red Potato? His flavor was the best in my book. Because of the low starch content, they hold their shape well after cooking - which makes them perfect for potato salad. Patty, who helped make the Potato Pancakes we ate before the taste testing began, noted that the red potatoes seemed to work better than the average white potato because they had less moisture, which worked best for the pancake batter. Karen also chose red potatoes for the fabulous soup she served as the party's finale. Most of us agreed that red potatoes are the best choice for dicing and roasting.

For all you diabetics out there or those of you concerned about glycemic indexes, our next potato, the Yukon Gold is the lowest on the glycemic scale. We all agreed it tasted the most similar to the red potato, so that made it a winner in our books. Actually, as everyone made out their "Love List" the Yukon took second place behind the Garnet Yam for most of the testers, so there you go!

Yukons are considered medium starch and medium water, so perfect for mashed potatoes. Many argue that they are the better choice for mashing than the Russet, but who's to say, right?

Overall, the Garnet Yam was a big hit, so you might want to check that out the next time you hit the grocery store. And as far the traditional potato goes, Yukon seemed to be the favorite, so do with that information as you please!

As we mentioned earlier, Karen closed this party out with a heavenly Southern Potato Soup. It had wonderful flavor and healthy chunks of potato throughout. Don't worry, the recipe will follow in the next few days, as will the Potato Pancakes, because we know you're dying to try them.

And as always, there were drinks! Teri, our favorite wine connoisseur hooked us up with some wine, but not just any wine. She reasoned that since our party started early this Sunday....11:00 a.m......we should drink Champagne Wine. What a brilliant idea! I don't know why that's just sounded like fun!

So, as you can see below, she choose one red and one white. I preferred the white and Carrie drank the whooole bottle of red! Kidding! But she really did like it a lot!

The Ravenhurst is local to Ohio and really tasted like red wine mixed with champagne - go figure! The white wine was not as obvious about the crossover taste, but it was light and refreshing. I don't remember which one Teri liked better, but I do remember she had two glasses at her place setting and they were both filled with each of the for each hand.....

Did you notice that there was no mention of Jen during this party? That's because she was visiting her home away from home - Disney World- which is the only excuse acceptable for missing a Food Tasting Event! She loves her Mickey Mouse and all his friends, but we missed her here. No worries, she will be attending the next event.

What's next, you ask? Well, ever since our first Cheese Tasting in April of last year, we've been salivating over the thought of having another cheese party because that world is so vast that it will take many, many parties to eat them all...and I assure you, we are ALL up for that task!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Yellow Squash and Cornmeal Pancakes

Who wants squash for breakfast?

YOUR kids?



Wow! You've got some special kids there! For all the other parents and kids out there.....

I know we said we're not always looking for ways to hide healthy foods within average foods, but when the opportunity presents itself - as it does so often with squash - it's just so hard to ignore.

These were yummy and filling. The cornmeal gave the cakes a little extra weight, which is nice when you're trying to start your day out right.

Yellow Squash and Cornmeal Pancakes

3/4 Cup All-Purpose Flour (or Oat)
1-1/4 Cups Yellow Cornmeal
2-1/2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
One Tablespoon Sugar
3/4 Teaspoon Salt
One Egg
One Cup Milk
2 Tablespoons Oil ( We love coconut)
* One Medium Sized Yellow Squash, grated

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, sugar, cornmeal, and salt. In a small bowl, beat the egg, milk, oil, and squash. Pour the wet ingredients in with the dry and stir lightly until just barely moist.

Bake these cakes over low to medium heat and then serve with butter and maple syrup.

* Squash Note: I find the quickest and easiest way to grate the squash is by using a Microplane grater - only the greatest kitchen utensil EVER! Just cut the ends off the squash and start grating...peel and all!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Chicken Piccata Al Limone

I don't loooooove chicken, but if I'm looking over a menu and I spy an entree' that describes tender chicken breasts bathed in lemon and decorated with capers, it's hard for me to think of ordering anything BUT the "lemonized" chicken.

Turns out, making this wonderful dish at home is simple, quick, and just as tasty. The lemon does not overwhelm the bird, it just gives the chicken a subtle touch of fabulous zing...and who doesn't like a little zing?

Chicken Piccata Al Limone

4 Chicken Breasts
Plain, (all-purpose) Flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
One Tablespoon Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons Butter
1/3 Cup Dry White Wine
One Cup Chicken Stock
3 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
2 Tablespoons Capers, rinsed
One Tablespoon Finely Chopped Parsley

Place the chicken between two sheets of plastic wrap and pound with a meat mallet until an even thickness. Lightly dust each side with flour.

Heat the olive oil and butter in a large frying pan. Fry the chicken over moderately high heat for about 2 minutes on each side, or until golden. Season and transfer to a warm plate.

Add the wine to the pan, increase the heat to high and boil until there are just 3-4 tablespoons of liquid left. Pour in the stock and boil for 4-5 minutes, or until it has reduced and slightly thickened. Add the lemon juice and capers and cook, stirring, for one minute. Taste for seasoning, then return the chicken to the pan and heat through for 30 seconds. Sprinkle with parsley and serve at once. Garnish with additional capers.


This chicken was so beautiful I couldn't decide which picture to use....the one in the skillet or the one on the plate, so I'm giving you BOTH!

Hot Chicken Casserole

Ok peeps, here's the just doesn't get any easier than this!

A perfect dish to make ahead of time if you need to come home and just throw dinner right in the oven, the perfect potluck dish, or a nice meal to take to that friend who just had a baby...this one fits the bill for sure! It makes enough for a small army, so we normally bake one 8"x8" pan, and freeze one 8"x8" pan for later. Or, if you have a large group to feed, just pour it all right into a 9"x13" pan and bake it!

One of our favorite ways to eat it, especially in leftover fashion, is to put a big scoop on top of a piece of whole grain toast, sprinkle with a little bit of cheese, and bake it just long enough to get the cheese melted and a little is soooo good!!

Hot Chicken Casserole

3 Cups Cooked Chicken
2 Cups Chopped Celery
1/2 Cup Mayonnaise (Miracle Whip not accepted)
One Can Cream of Chicken Soup
One Can Mushrooms, drained
One Can Water Chestnuts, drained
1/2 Cup Cashews (optional)
2 Tbsp. Chopped Onion
One Tablespoon Lemon Juice
One Teaspoon Salt
One Cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese
One Can French Fried Onion Rings (opt)

Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl. Pour into 9”x13” pan. Top with cheddar cheese and onion rings. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour. Seriously folks, you CAN'T mess this up!!