Saturday, December 6, 2014

Potato-Fennel Gratin(from Ina Garten)

Mmmm, I have to tell you that Ina's Potato-Fennel Gratin is amazing! My husband and I would order this from a restaurant if it was on the menu, that's how much we love it! This side dish has so much flavor from the addition of fennel, onion and cheese to the potatoes, that it is positively addictive. I don't know about you but I just can't resist creamy, cheesy potato dishes! This is a wonderful dish anytime and perfect for any holiday dinner or buffet.
Only the bulb of the fennel is used. I saved the stalks and added to some soup later on. The fennel bulb is cut in half and the core then removed.
Then it is sliced very thin, and the potatoes also. Ina's recipe calls for Gruyere cheese, but I subbed sharp white cheddar cheese and it is delicious. I hope you'll give Potato-Fennel Gratin a try. Here's the recipe.
Potato-Fennel Gratin
Adapted from Ina Garten
(I made half a recipe when I took these pictures, but I'm providing the whole recipe. Leftovers reheat very well.)

Ingredients:
 
2 small fennel bulbs
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
2 pounds (about 4 large potatoes) I used Yukon gold
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 1/2 cups sharp white cheddar cheese (Ina uses Gruyere)
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Grease the inside of a 10 cup baking dish. I used a 9x13 inch.

Remove the stalks from the fennel and cut the bulbs in half lengthwise. Remove the cores and then slice them thinly, making about 4 cups. Sauté the fennel and sliced onions in the olive oil and butter over medium-low heat for about 15 minutes until tender. Remove from heat.

Peel the potatoes, then slice thinly with a mandolin or by hand. In a large bowl, mix the potatoes with 2 cups of cream, 2 cups of cheese, and the salt and pepper. Add the cooked fennel and onion and mix well.

Pour the potato mixture into the prepared baking dish. Press the mixture down and smooth the potato mixture evenly in the pan. Combine remaining 2 tablespoons of cream and 1/2 cup cheese and sprinkle on top. Bake for 1 1/2 hours, until the potatoes are very tender and the top is browned  and bubbly. Remove from oven and let set 10 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Pineapple Sheet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting (AKA Mexican Fruit Cake)

I decided it was time to pull this Pineapple Sheet Cake from the archives and give it better picture. This is a very moist, delicious cake that was passed to me by my mother. My mom was not a pie person, so therefore during the holidays she would make cakes and cookies, but rarely a pie. This cake is a favorite of my husband , and it's always a hit wherever I take it. It's a perfect cake for a pot-luck, or a family dinner, or even to take to work. Even though the cake itself contains no fat, this is a very moist cake as long as you make it several hours before it is to be served. The crushed pineapple in the cake makes it very moist, and it just gets better every day that you have it. I hope you will enjoy it!
Pineapple Sheet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
From Lynda's Recipe Box, and my mother
(Note: the only pineapple I've found that DOES NOT work is from Aldi. It just didn't contain enough juice.)

Ingredients for cake:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 large eggs, beaten
1 (20 ounce) can of crushed pineapple with juice
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cups chopped nuts, I usually use pecans or walnuts -optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease either a 9x13 inch pan or a 10x15 inch jelly roll pan. In a large bowl add the flour, sugar and soda and mix. Add all of the remaining ingredients and mix well. Bake for about 35-40 minutes for a 9x13 inch pan. (A 10x15 pan will take about 20-30 minutes). Remove from oven and cool. Can frost while cake is just warm.

Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 - 8 ounce cream cheese, softened
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, (1 stick), softened
3 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
about 3/4 cup chopped nuts, optional, but I always use them. Makes the cake extremely good.

Spread frosting evenly over cake and top with pecans or walnuts. Let it set for several hours before cutting so the pineapple will moisten the cake. Bet you can't eat just one bite- enjoy!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Ten Thanksgiving Menu Ideas

 Here's some food ideas for your Thanksgiving table. The only turkey recipe I have on the blog so far is Ina's Herb-Roasted Turkey Breast. It's the best turkey breast I've ever eaten. Or there's yummy Cranberry-Apple Relish.


 Cheesy Broccoli and Rice Casserole is amazing and a real crowd pleaser.
This Corn Casserole is an easy, old recipe if you need a last minute dish.
 Sage Stuffing is delicious! So is Sausage and Cornbread Dressing. In fact dressing/stuffing is my favorite part of the meal, I think.
 Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic Vinegar  and Homemade Cranberry Sauce with a touch of orange. So good!

 Delicious and easy Honey Glazed Baby Carrots and
Sautéed Kale with Roasted Butternut Squash and Mushrooms give you a couple of tasty, healthy options.
For some more ideas for side dishes for your Thanksgiving table, click here.
Hope that gives you all some ideas. Happy eating!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Quick Potato Rolls

Thanksgiving is almost here, and in my opinion you have to have homemade rolls for the feast. At least in our family you do that is. I've got several delicious roll recipes, but I thought I'd share this Easy Potato Roll recipe today. I love Potato Rolls because of their tender, soft interiors, which come from the addition of mashed potatoes to the dough. This recipe is so easy because it uses the convenience of instant mashed potatoes! Plus, this recipe is a quick rise roll, in which you set the pan of rolls over hot water and they are then ready to bake in just 15 minutes! And they smell heavenly, and fill your home with the aroma of fresh baked bread. Mmmm, Thanksgiving isn't the same without this fragrance.
This quick roll is stirred together, lightly kneaded, then formed into 12 rolls and placed in a greased pan. After they are covered, the pan is placed over a pan of very hot water. The rolls rise for about 15 minutes.
When the rise is over, just pop them into the oven and bake Voila! You have tender, melt in your mouth homemade Potato Rolls. I like to brush them with melted butter right out of the oven, then I just can't wait to eat one. Hope you'll give them a try.
Quick Potato Rolls
Adapted from Taste of Home

Ingredients:
3 1/2 - 4 cups of all-purpose unbleached flour, divided
1 tablespoon sugar
1 package (1/4 ounce), quick-rise yeast
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
3/4 cup warm water (about 120 degrees F.)
1/2 cup warm whole milk (about 120 degrees)
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup dry instant mashed potatoes
1 egg
melted butter to brush over the rolls,(about 1 tablespoon)

Directions:
In a large bowl, combine 1 cup of flour, sugar, yeast, sugar and salt. In another bowl, mix the water milk, and the 1/4 cup melted butter. Stir in the potato flakes and let stand 1 minute. Add the egg and beat until smooth. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and mix well. Add enough of the remaining flour to make a soft dough. Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead for 4-6 minutes until smooth and elastic. Cover dough and let rise 10 minutes. Uncover dough and cut into 12 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a ball and place in a greased 9x13 inch baking pan. Place a large baking pan on the counter and fill half full with boiling water. Place the baking pan of rolls over the hot water. Cover the rolls and let rise for 15 minutes. ( I place a baking rack or cookie sheet over the boiling water if needed to hold the pan. Then I cover the rolls with plastic wrap to rise). Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. while the rolls are rising. After 15 minutes of rising, place the rolls in the oven and bake for20-25 minutes until golden. Remove to a wire rack to cool. Brush with melted butter and enjoy!!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Pumkin Bundt Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

 I just had to start off my fall baking with something pumpkin since it is one of my favorite fall and winter flavors! Apple is right up there too, so there will be an apple recipe coming real soon also. I have tried a couple of different Pumpkin Bundt Cake recipes and this is the best one so far so I'm sharing it with you.
 This Pumpkin Bundt Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting is dense and moist, much like pumpkin bread or pound cake. I topped this luscious cake with cream cheese frosting that contains some brown sugar, which gives the frosting a hint of caramel flavor! This is a perfect fall dessert which would be a delicious addition even your Thanksgiving table. And I confess that it was so good with my morning coffee also! Try taking it to any family gathering or even to work and I think people will be singing your praises. Here's the recipe.

Pumpkin Bundt Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Adapted from My Baking Addition

Ingredients:
Bundt Cake
If you don't have all the spices, you can sub pumpkin pie spice if desired.
2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 cup canola oil, or vegetable oil
3 large eggs
3 cups un-bleached flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 can (15 ounces) pure pumpkin puree

Cream Cheese Frosting
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
4 tablespoons softened, unsalted butter
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 14 cup confectioners sugar (powdered sugar)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-3 tablespoons milk, half and half or cream, if needed to thin the frosting
3/4 cup toasted, chopped pecans, if desired

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spray a 10 inch Bundt cake pan with nonstick cooking spray.

2. In a large bowl combine the oil and sugar and mix thoroughly with an electric mixer. Beat in eggs 1 at a time, then beat in the pumpkin. In a medium bowl mix together the flour, baking soda, spices and salt. Add flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture a little at a time, and mix until batter is just blended well.

3. Pour batter into the prepared Bundt pan and smooth the batter evenly around the pan. Bake in the preheated oven for 60-65 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center if cake comes out clean. Cool the cake for 10-15 minutes. Then invert cake onto a wire rack to finish cooling. Place cake onto a cake plate to frost.

4. To make the frosting: In a large bowl add the softened cream cheese, butter and the brown sugar and beat until creamy and smooth, about 2 minutes. Then gradually add in the powdered sugar and beat well. Stir in the vanilla and milk if needed. If frosting is too thick add a bit more milk if needed to get the desired consistency. Spoon frosting over the cooled cake. Using a spoon or rubber spatula, push the frosting where you want it. (This is not a glaze that will pour). Top with the toasted pecans , if desired. Now enjoy!



Saturday, September 27, 2014

Farmer's Breakfast Casserole

 It's the time of year when I usually begin craving comfort food, as the temperature has cooled down some, and the mornings and evenings are crisp. I adore fall and always look forward to cooking up some meals that are heartier than summer's fare. This dish is perfect for any meal, as we've eaten it not only for breakfast, but it makes a tasty lunch or dinner as well.
 This delicious Farmer's Breakfast Casserole is the perfect 8x8 inch size for my husband and I. There's just enough yummy leftovers for us for a couple of days, plus this dish reheats really well. The casserole starts with a layer of frozen hash browns, then ham, green onion and cheese is layered over the potatoes. Beaten eggs are pour over all. It bakes for about an hour. Don't expect the hash browns to be crispy though. The hash browns are soft and very moist after baking. If not baked long enough I think it could be watery, so be sure to allow time for it to fully cook.
Farmer's Breakfast Casserole
Slightly adapted from here-
This dish can be put together the night before, covered and placed in the fridge, and baked in the morning. Baking time may be longer. Also, according to BHG, you can double the ingredients and place in a 9x13 baking pan. Again I imagine baking time would be longer, and I have not tried it.

Ingredients:
3 cups of frozen hash browns- I use the shredded ones
1/4 cup diced green onions
1 cup of diced ham, or can use cooked sausage
1 cup shredded cheese- I used Colby-Jack
4 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/8 teaspoon salt- I used less because the ham was so salty
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Method:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8x8x2 inch (2 quarts), baking pan. Pour the 3 cups of frozen hash browns into pan and distribute evenly in the pan. Sprinkle potatoes with the green onions, ham and then the cheese. Mix eggs, milk, salt, and pepper together and pour over all. Bake in oven for about 50 minutes, until eggs are set and top is golden. Pierce middle with a knife to test for it to be done. The casserole will puff up during baking. Hope you enjoy!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Blueberry and Blackberry Crisp

 My goodness this year has sailed by! Here it is the end of summer and I'm just now posting a berry dessert. But this berry crisp is also wonderful made with frozen berries, so I had to go ahead and post it. I have made this Blueberry and Blackberry Crisp several times this summer, plus I've made it with blueberries only which is just as yummy. I've added a bit extra sugar to this recipe with the blackberry addition as the frozen berries I bought were more tart than the blueberries.
 This Blueberry and Blackberry Crisp is so easy to put together and the topping is a whiz to prepare. Plus, this topping actually is very crisp which has made it a favorite of ours. Of course topping this crisp with a good quality vanilla ice cream makes irresistible! Hope you'll give it a try!
Blueberry and Blackberry Crisp
Adapted from Martha Stewart
Fresh or frozen berries may be used, but baking time may increase if using all frozen berries. The filling is juicy. If a thicker filling is desired add another teaspoon or 2 of cornstarch.

Ingredients:
For the filling:
4 cups blueberries - I used fresh
2 cups blackberries - I used frozen this time
2/3 cup sugar ( when I make all blueberry crisp, I reduce to 1/2 c.)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

For the Topping:
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup quick oats ( may use rolled oats)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
6 tablespoons melted, unsalted butter
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Make filling by mixing berries, sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice and salt in a bowl. Poor berry mixture into an 8x8 inch baking dish with 2 inch sides.
2. Make topping- Stir together the flour oats baking powder, sugar, cinnamon, and salt.
Pour butter over topping and stir until it is absorbed and the topping is crumbly.
3. Sprinkle topping evenly over the filling. Place dish on a foil lined baking sheet just in case it bubbles over. (I haven't had that problem, but some commenters on Martha's site did.)
Bake until crisp is bubbling around the sides and in the center and brown on top, about 1 hour. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack at least 30 minutes before serving. Top with ice cream and enjoy!