Tuesday, December 31, 2013

My Kitchen My World - Dessert

December's assignment on My Kitchen My World was a little different than usual. Normally we make a dish from a specific country each month. This month though, we could choose any holiday dessert from any country.

I chose to make a Jewish dish that is common in many European countries, called Noodle Kugel. It is a traditional dish for Sabbath and for festive holidays. This particular version is from Russia, I found it under the title of Russian Noodle Pudding.

Kugel isn't as sweet as I usually prefer for desserts. That's understandable considering that it's commonly used as a side dish as well as a dessert. It has a tartness from the cottage cheese and sour cream that melds nicely with the small amount of sugar and vanilla. My kids would definitely have enjoyed this more if it were topped with some maple syrup and whipped cream, but I actually liked it as is.

Noodle Kugel
16 oz. pasta, cooked and drained
24 oz. cottage cheese
2 cups sour cream
2 eggs
7 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 graham cracker sheets
2 tbsp. brown sugar
dash cinnamon
dash nutmeg
3 tbsp. butter

Heat oven to 350, butter a large baking dish.

Combine cottage cheese, sour cream, eggs, sugar, and vanilla. Mix well. Stir in pasta. Spread into buttered baking dish.

Crush graham crackers, add brown sugar and spices. Sprinkle over pasta mixture. Dot with butter.

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Serve warm or chilled.

I do wish I hadn't made such a large pan of this. It's yummy, but since the kids aren't huge fans I'm worried we might not eat it all fast enough. I wonder if it freezes well?

And here's an update on the kitchen. The last time I posted, it was an absolute mess of renovation horror. Well, here is what it looks like now. Much better! We're putting the renovation on hold for the winter, and will eventually put in the final touches like back splash, base boards, and the remaining cabinet doors in a few months. In the meantime, it's so nice to have it functioning and looking decent!

Project Inspire{d} at Dukes and Duchesses
Think Tank Thursday at Joyful Homemaking
Wowza Weekend Link Party at My Love 2 Create
Link Party Palooza at tatertots & jello 
Strut Your Stuff Saturday Link Party at Six Sisters' Stuff

Thursday, October 10, 2013

My Kitchen My World - Tonga

I wanted to participate in My Kitchen My World last month - I pinned several recipes from Great Britain that looked fun and yummy. But last month we started renovating our kitchen, and it just didn't happen. Go figure - remove the kitchen sink, counters, cabinets, and any semblance of a working kitchen, and suddenly I don't feel like making fancy foreign foods.

But even though we've been working on this kitchen renovation for about a month now and it still looks awful, I just had to participate this month. Tonga was my choice of country to visit in October. Torn-up kitchen or no, I had to make a delicious Tongan meal to share!

I chose Tonga as this month's MKMW destination because we have a lot of Tongan friends and church acquaintances in our neighborhood. I have grown to love the Polynesian culture, including and especially the food!

In Tonga, a common traditional cooking method is an underground earthen oven, called an umu. A common meal is meat and coconut, and sometimes vegetables, wrapped in taro leaves and baked in the umu. The taro leaves are called lu. The main dish I chose to make is called lu pulu, which is lu with beef.

The recipe I used is from the family of John Groberg. He is sort of famous in the Mormon church for serving a mission in Tonga in the 1950's, and writing about his experiences (a movie was even made about it). This is a simplified, Americanized version of lu pulu, using spinach and aluminum foil in place of taro leaves. The recipe also calls for mayonnaise, but I chose to use cream of coconut instead, as being closer to tradition.

Lu Pulu
3 bunches spinach, washed, drained, and stemmed
1 12-oz can corned beef
1 onion, chopped
1 tomato, chopped (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
5 tbsp cream of coconut (found in the drink mixer section of grocery stores, use mayonnaise instead if you prefer)
19-inch sheet of aluminum foil

Fold foil in half and lay flat. Lay spinach leaves over it, then top with chopped corned beef, onion, tomato, and salt and pepper. Spread with cream of coconut or mayonnaise. Gather edges of foil up and twist at the top to make a tight package. Place in a baking pan. Bake at 350 for 1 hour.

Open foil, mix the ingredients a little, and serve over sweet potatoes, which can be baked in the same oven.

This stuff is pretty yummy! It was very simple to make. Except for opening the can of corned beef. For some reason, my can didn't come with the little key to open it. I had to grab the tab with a vice grip I had lying around, and try to wrench it open. That worked for about half the can, then it broke off. Then I tried to use my super strong kitchen shears to cut the can open the rest of the way. I'm lucky I still have all my fingers! Eventually I just embraced the half-openness of the can and painstakingly scooped the meat out with a spoon.

Anyway, moving on! A popular drink in Tonga is called something called otai. It is typically made up of watermelon pulp and coconut milk. Other fruits are sometimes added to it. When I went to buy ingredients for this meal, I quickly was reminded that watermelon is not in season! I got a small plastic container of watermelon and supplemented with crushed pineapple. Usually otai should be much more pink than this! This recipe made a very chunky drink - we ate it as much as we drank it. But it was still quite yummy! Next time I would probably pull out the blender and give it a whirl.

3 cups grated watermelon
1 can crushed pineapple (do not drain)
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup cream of coconut (this wasn't in the recipe I used, but I figured I had already opened the can for the lu pulu and I might as well add it to the otai)
1 can evaporated milk
2 cans of water (use the evaporated milk can)
Juice of 1/2 lime

Combine all ingredients in pitcher or large bowl. Process in blender if desired. Chill before serving.

As a little bonus, here is a picture of what my kitchen looked like when I made this meal. Yeah, it's scary.

And if anyone is interested, you can visit my other blog to read about our kitchen remodel.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Creme de Menthe Brownies

Mint and chocolate - a match made in heaven. Jeff bought some creme de menthe baking chips recently, just for fun. They're basically chopped up Andes bars. Both of us knew right away that they would be delicious baked into some rich, chocolatey brownies.

Andes and brownies, you can't go wrong.

Creme de Menthe Brownies
(adapted from Hershey's)
4 eggs
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, melted
2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/3 cup flour
2/3 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cup Andes Creme de Menthe baking chips

Heat oven to 350. Grease 9x13 pan.

Beat eggs in large bowl until foamy; gradually beat in sugar. Add butter and vanilla; beat until blended. Stir together flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt; add to egg mixture, beating until blended. Stir in baking chips. Spread batter into prepared pan.

Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until brownies begin to pull away from sides of pan. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Cut into squares.

Linking to: Link Party Palooza at tatertots & jello
Project Inspire{d} at Dukes and Duchesses 
Think Tank Thursday at Joyful Homemaking

Saturday, August 31, 2013

My Kitchen My World - Sweden

Cutting it close this month! But the last day of August still counts. :)

This month for My Kitchen My World we visited the cuisine of Sweden. I didn't want to do Swedish meatballs, they're too well-known around here to be considered a challenge. Instead, I found a dish called Kroppkakor, or potato dumplings. They turned out so delicious. I don't think I added nearly enough flour to the dough, which made it extremely messy to work with, but at least it tasted good!

Swedish Kroppkakor
10 medium potatoes, peeled, boiled, and cooled
1 egg
1 1/4 cup flour, or enough to make a soft dough
8 oz. bacon, diced
1 small onion, diced
1 tsp. ground allspice

Mash potatoes. Mix in egg and flour to make soft dough, set aside.

Fry bacon and onion until bacon is crispy and onion is soft. Add allspice. I just want to note that this mixture smells absolutely incredible!

Flatten pieces of dough into rounds. Top with 1-2 tsp. bacon mixture, then close the dough around the filling and form a ball.

Drop dumplings into simmering salted water, 4 or 5 at a time. Cook for about 5 minutes (another recipe said 15 minutes, we did somewhere in between).

Serve with bechamel sauce (basic white sauce) or melted butter, and lingonsylt (lingonberry jam). We didn't have lingonberry jam, so I had Jeff make some cranberry sauce instead.

With the potatoes, and the allspice, and the cranberry sauce, this stuff tasted like Thanksgiving! It totally put me in a fall mood. Jeff and I each had several dumplings, my 3-yr-old and 1-yr-old each devoured two, and my two older kids were only able to tolerate one after I put ketchup on it.

One recipe I found says that leftover dumplings are good cut up and fried crispy the next morning. I know what we're having for breakfast tomorrow! :)

*Update: We chopped up the leftovers and fried them in bacon grease. They turned out quite yummy.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Lemon Bar Muddy Buddies

I normally post my Iron Craft projects on my other blog, Pursuit of Craft. But this one is a recipe, so here it is!

The Iron Craft challenge was to create something to do with picnics. I recently found a recipe for Lemon Bar Muddy Buddies, which got me so excited. They taste like lemon bars, but in the form of fun little bite-sized snacks. Toss a batch of these in a lunch basket with some sandwiches and water bottles and you've got the makings of a great picnic!

Lemon Bar Muddy Buddies
(from Lemon Tree Dwelling)
8 c. Rice Chex cereal (generic works fine!) 
1 c. white chocolate chips 
1/2 c. lemon curd 
1/4 c. butter 
1 1/2 c. powdered sugar

Melt white chocolate chips and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly. (The melting won't be smooth - don't worry!)

Once melted, remove from heat and stir in lemon curd until smooth. Pour Rice Chex into a large paper bag (grocery size) and pour lemon mixture over cereal. Fold the bag to seal and shake to coat cereal. 

Add powdered sugar to paper bag and shake once more to coat.

Spread out on cookie sheet to cool; once completely cool, store at room temperature in airtight containers.


Linking to:
Think Tank Thursday at Joyful Homemaking
Weekend Wrap-Up Party at tatertots & jello 

Friday, June 7, 2013

My Kitchen My World - Cuban Pork with Black Beans and Rice

After a very long absence, I am once again contributing my culinary offering to My Kitchen My World. The country for June was Cuba. So I hopped onto Allrecipes.com and found some delicious Cuban recipes.

Cuban Pork
(adapted from Allrecipes.com)
1 1/2 lb. pork loin roast, cut into 5 or 6 thick slices
1 lime, zested and juiced
2 tsp. olive oil
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. salt
1 pinch crushed red pepper
1 tsp. minced garlic

In a bowl, mix together the lime zest, olive oil, cumin, salt, crushed red pepper, and garlic. Reserve the lime juice. Rub the seasoning mixture onto both sides of the pork slices.

Spray a heavy skillet or ridged grill pan with cooking spray, and place over medium heat. Pan-fry the pork slices until browned on both sides, 6 to 7 minutes per side. After you turn the meat over, pour the reserved lime juice over the meat and continue cooking until no longer pink in the center. Serve hot, topped with pan juices.

This pork is just bursting with lime flavor, and it paired really well with some plain rice and some delicious black beans.

Cuban Black Beans
(Adapted from Allrecipes.com)
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
4 tsp. minced garlic
3 cans black beans, not drained
1/2 can tomato sauce
4 oz. roasted red pepper, chopped
1 tbsp. vinegar
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. black pepper

Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat, and saute onion, green bell pepper, and garlic until tender.

Into the onion mixture, stir the beans, tomato sauce, red pepper, and vinegar. Season with salt, sugar, and pepper. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

Ahh, feels good to be back. I really am going to try to post recipes more frequently, I've really slacked off the past few...um...years.... 

Linked to:
Weekend Wrap-Up Party at tatertots&jello 
Think Tank Thursday at Joyful Homemaking 
Project Inspire{d} at Dukes and Duchesses 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Indonesian Peanut Chicken

Every once in a while Jeff and I grab a cookbook, leaf through it, and choose a couple recipes that we've never done before. Ethnic dishes are particular favorites of ours; we love being able to enjoy flavors from around the world in the comfort (and frugality) of our own home. We also think it's great to be able to introduce various flavor profiles to the kids.

Blah blah, fancy talk, what I really mean is: this week we were bored with the same old meal rut we've been in and wanted to try something less boring. :)

This is a fun recipe, a little sweet, a little spicy, a little exotic. The three-year-old didn't care for it, but the older kids liked it well enough. As for Jeff and I, we found it delicious.

Indonesian Peanut Chicken
(from Betty Crocker)
3- to 3 1/2-pound cut-up broiler-fryer chicken (we used chicken leg quarters)
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped (1/2 cup)
1/3 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup chili sauce
1/2 tsp. ground cayenne pepper
1 cup water
1/4 cup salted peanuts
1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper

Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Heat oil in 12-inch skillet or 4-quart Dutch oven over medium heat. Cook chicken in oil about 15 minutes, turning occasionally, until brown on all sides. Cover and cook over low heat about 20 minutes or until juice is no longer pink when centers of thickest pieces are cut. Remove chicken from skillet with tongs.

Drain all but 1 tablespoon drippings from skillet; heat over medium heat. Cook onion in drippings, stirring occasionally, until tender; reduce heat. Stir in peanut butter, chili sauce and red pepper. Gradually stir in water, stirring constantly, until peanut butter is melted.

Add chicken. Spoon sauce over chicken. Heat to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer uncovered about 5 minutes, spooning sauce frequently over chicken, until sauce is slightly thickened. Serve sauce over chicken. Sprinkle with peanuts and bell pepper. 

Linking to:
Think Tank Thursday at Joyful Homemaking 
Weekend Wrap-Up at tatertots&jello 

Monday, May 27, 2013

Chocolate Cakies with Creamy Chocolate Frosting

Let's just get this out there right off the bat - these were supposed to be whoopie pies. But as I watched the cakes baking in the oven and saw them spreading out to be about the size of my hand I decided that I wouldn't sandwich them like you would a traditional whoopie pie. I mean, those would have been some seriously huge whoopie pies. Instead, just served individually and topped with frosting, these are like little handheld cakes - Cakies! They're kind of like cupcakes, but easier to eat.

That being said, you could totally use this recipe to make whoopie pies, just scoop the batter out by 2-tbsp scoops instead of 1/4 cup. Then sandwich the frosting between the cakes. Or, you know, just use 1/4 cup and make really big whoopie pies. I won't judge you.

Chocolate Cakies
(from sweet falcon)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup well-shaken buttermilk (or 1 tbsp lemon juice and milk to make 1 cup)
1 tsp vanilla
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg

Whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt in a bowl until combined. Stir together buttermilk and vanilla in a small bowl.

Beat together butter and brown sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes in a standing mixer or 5 minutes with a handheld mixer, then add egg, beating until combined well. Reduce speed to low and alternately mix in flour mixture and buttermilk in batches, beginning and ending with flour, scraping down side of bowl occasionally, and mixing until smooth.

Spoon 1/4-cup mounds of batter about 2 inches apart onto 2 buttered large baking sheets. Bake in upper and lower thirds of oven, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until tops are puffed and cakes spring back when touched, 11 to 13 minutes. Transfer with a metal spatula to a rack to cool completely.

Creamy Chocolate Frosting
(from Let's Make Whoopie...Pies) 
3/4 cup butter, room temperature
3 oz. unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Beat together butter and chocolate. Add powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time. Use to frost cakies or to fill whoopie pies.

Linking to:
Project Inspire{d} at Dukes and Duchesses
Think Tank Thursday at Joyful Homemaking
Weekend Wrap-Up at tatertots&jello

Monday, May 20, 2013

Turkey Chili

A while back, Jeff bought three huge turkeys, because they were super cheap. Thank goodness we have a large freezer downstairs! Anyway, several days ago we cooked one of the turkeys, and of course we boiled up the carcass into some fantastic turkey broth. This dish was a great way to use some of the broth and leftover turkey. It also takes advantage of the fact that fresh cilantro is really inexpensive this time of year. This chili has a delicious flavor and, being a bit lighter than traditional chili, is a great meal for a spring evening.

I may or may not have eaten three bowls in one sitting.

Turkey Chili
1 onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
2 tsp minced garlic
1 tbsp oil
3 cups turkey broth
2 cans beans, drained, or equivalent beans cooked from dry (I used black beans and soy beans)
1 can corn, drained
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
2 tbsp lemon juice
3 cups chopped turkey

Cook onion, green pepper, and garlic in oil until tender. Add remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer about 20 minutes.

If you like your chili spicy, you can add some canned chilies, or some hot sauce.

Linked to:
Weekend Wrap-Up Party at tatertots & jello
Think Tank Thursday at Joyful Homemaking

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Perfect Chocolate Frosting

This is exactly what the title says - PERFECT CHOCOLATE FROSTING. It is a-freakin'-mazing.

This ain't no grainy buttercream with a bit of cocoa thrown in to make it powdery brown and cocoa-flavored. No, this is frosting of the smoothest, creamiest caliber, with a rich, dark chocolate flavor that simply can't be beat.

It is perfection.

Perfect Chocolate Frosting 
2 1/2 sticks butter or margarine, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
Pinch of salt
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1 tsp. vanilla
8 oz. milk chocolate, melted and cooled

Combine butter, sugar, cocoa and salt in a food processor and process until smooth, about 30 seconds. Scrape the bowl as needed. Add the corn syrup and vanilla and process until just combined, about 5-10 seconds. Scrape the bowl again, then add the melted chocolate and pulse until smooth and creamy, about 10-15 seconds. Pipe or spread onto cake, cupcakes, cookies, or straight into your mouth.

Linking to Tatertots and Jello Weekend Wrap-Up Party

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Chicken Cordon Bleu Braid

I love Chicken Cordon Bleu. Absolutely love it. I do not, however, love pounding and rolling chicken. It's messy and not very fun. So a few weeks ago I tried this shortcut Chicken Cordon Bleu, which involves slicing the breast in half lengthwise instead of pounding it, and layering the ingredients instead of rolling them in the chicken. It turned out great!

Here is another fun variation on this classic dish. All the components of Chicken Cordon Bleu are wrapped up in bread dough and baked into an easy and delicious loaf.

Chicken Cordon Bleu Braid
2 chicken breasts, sliced or cubed
1-2 tsp. minced garlic
Deli ham
Swiss cheese, thinly sliced
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 tbsp. dijon mustard
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp. worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup parmesan
1 loaf bread dough

Preheat oven to 375. Saute chicken with garlic, salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Combine cream soup, mustard, lemon juice, worcestershire sauce, and parmesan. Set aside.

Roll out bread dough into large rectangle. Using a pizza cutter or knife, cut 1-inch wide strips in towards the center, starting on the long sides. There should be a solid strip about 3 inches wide down the center, with the cut strips forming a fringe down each side.

Spread soup mixture down the center strip (use a lot or a little, depending on how saucy you want your loaf. You might not use all the sauce). Top with the chicken, ham, and cheese. Fold the side strips over filling, alternating strips from each side and pressing them into the dough on the opposite side, forming a braid. Pinch or twist to seal.

Bake at 375 for about 30 minutes. Let cool a bit, then slice and enjoy!

Linked to Tatertots and Jello Weekend Wrap-Up Party

Friday, February 8, 2013


Wow, I'm actually posting a recipe! I haven't really done anything on this blog in almost a year. Crazy.


Jeff made this delicious divinity this afternoon. Divinity is a light, fluffy candy that is like the love child of clouds and marshmallows. It's soft and airy, with a little bit of chewy, and a touch of crunch from pecans. Very yummy, I'm so glad that Jeff decided to make it.

2 2/3 cups sugar
2/3 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup water
2 large egg whites
1 tsp. vanilla
1 to 2 drops food color, if desired
2/3 cup coarsely chopped pecans

Cook sugar, corn syrup, and water (use 1 tbsp less water on humid days) in 2-quart saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly, until sugar is dissolved. Cook without stirring to 260 degrees on candy thermometer, until small amount of mixture dropped into cup of very cold water forms a hard ball that holds its shape but is pliable.

Beat egg whites in small bowl with electric mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form. Gently transfer egg whites to large bowl. Continue beating constantly on medium speed while pouring hot syrup in a thin stream into egg whites. Add vanilla and food color. Beat until mixture holds its shape and becomes slightly dull, scraping bowl occasionally. Stir in nuts.

Quickly drop heaping teaspoonfuls of mixture from buttered spoon onto waxed paper. Let stand uncovered at room temperature at least 4 hours, but no longer than 12 hours until candies feel firm and are dry to the touch. Store in airtight container.