Saturday, February 26, 2011

It's Just Not Working

I was going to put up a new post but my computer is having issues and won't load the pictures.

And now I'm sad.

So anyway, I thought that I would let you know that I will be adding a new tab soon and I will also try and update more of my recipes with links to print. I made taco ring today, and took some pictures in better light to share with you.

Have a great Sunday! I thought about putting some cute picture here...but then I remembered that my computer is being evil. Boring post, I know, but it happens.

Love, Monica

Friday, February 25, 2011

Slow Cooker Maple and Brown Sugar Ham

This is quite possibly the best ham I have ever had. And definitely the best ham my husband has ever had. He told me. Several times. Trust me, this is delicious!

I adapted the recipe from Melanie, over at My Kitchen Cafe. You may remember her from the amazing bourbon chicken that I posted last month. This ham is sweet, tender, and so juicy. There is no hint of tough or dry meat here! And you won't believe how easy it is to make this. I served this for Christmas dinner with my cheesy potato casserole and sour cream fan rolls; it was a hit! The dipping sauce is a cinch to make. Serve this for company, and they will think you worked in the kitchen for hours; when all you really did was put it in your crockpot and walk away. But nobody has to know.

Slow Cooker Maple and Brown Sugar Ham (Print)
adapted from My Kitchen Cafe
Prep: 5 minutes / Cook: 2 hours

1 boneless, round ham (about 3 pounds, sliced or unsliced, I've used both)
1/2-3/4 cup light or dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup pure maple syrup (I used grade A, medium amber)
1 (20 ounce) can crushed pineapple, undrained
Cornstarch, for thickening (optional)

1. In a 3-1/2 to 5 quart slow cooker, place the ham with the cut side down. Pat all sides with brown sugar, it's okay if some falls on the bottom.

2. Add in the maple syrup and pineapple. Cover and cook on low for 2 hours. That's all!

3. Gently remove ham and place it on a platter. Cover with foil and allow it to rest for 5-10 minutes. Meanwhile, strain the liquid remaining in the crock pot using a colander, reserving the pineapple for topping if desired.

4. You can use the dipping sauce straight from the crock or you can thicken it with cornstarch. The second time I made this ham I thickened the sauce and I preferred it that way, but it is good thin also. To thicken, place sauce in a small saucepan. Combine 1 tablespoon cornstarch with 1/4 cup water. Stir until cornstarch is dissolved. Whisk into saucepan. Continue whisking over medium heat until desired thickness is achieved. You may add more cornstarch using the technique above if needed.

Just thought this was kind of a fun picture. If you haven't tried the sour cream fan rolls you are missing out! They're are another one of my husband's favorites. Have a great weekend!

My Review

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Cinnamon Streusel Pancakes with Cream Cheese Drizzle

These pancakes are life-changing. Ask any of my family members who came to visit us.

You will never go back to plain ol' pancakes.

It's been two weeks since I have done a blog post. I have been busy with friends and family visiting and I had a blast. Fortunately for you, I have also been busy in the kitchen while I was gone, and I have many recipes to share with you! I decided that I needed to come back with something big. Something that will make your mouth water the instant you read the title, not to mention once you see the pictures.

I saw these pancakes on this blog, and I was immediately hooked. I knew I had to make these. Which I did of course. Then I made them when my friend came and visited. Then I made them when my family came over.

And now I am making up for it at the gym.

But anyway, that's not the point! The couple at Two Peas and Their Pod served these with maple syrup and butter. I knew after one bite that that wasn't going to work for me. You see, as soon as I tasted these (after swooning over their deliciousness) I was reminded of the warm, gooey, heavenly center of a cinnamon roll. Which then led to my inspiration for a cinnamon roll frosting. I made a glaze with just powdered sugar and milk, which was good. But then I modified a recipe for cream cheese frosting and wow was that fantastic!

Enough said, you have to make these pancakes. I know this is getting long but they're soooooo amazing!! You can use any pancake recipe, even a box mix (I won't tell), because the real treasure is the streusel topping. Trust me, this topping will make the flattest, driest pancakes taste good! As a side note, I doubled the streusel recipe because I made smaller pancakes than the original recipe said, which meant I needed more streusel to go around! If you are going to use the cream cheese drizzle (highly recommended, recipe below), make that first and pop it into the warm oven until you're ready so that it drizzles smoothly.

Cinnamon Streusel Pancakes with Cream Cheese Drizzle (Print)
pancake recipe from Two Peas and Their Pod
Prep: 15 minutes
Yield: 7 servings, 2 pancakes each (these babies are filling!)

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 teaspoons cinnamon
10 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into chunks

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups buttermilk
2 large eggs
1/4 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Add the butter and cut in with a fork or pastry cutter until you have small crumbles. Set aside. Turn on a griddle or pan to medium low. Grease if needed. Turn the oven on warm (175-200 degrees).

2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a separate small bowl, whisk the buttermilk, eggs, oil, and vanilla. Add wet ingredients to the flour mixture and stir just until combined. The batter will be slightly lumpy.

3. Spoon or drop batter onto hot griddle or pan to your desired size. They will expand some, I probably used 1/3 to 1/2 cup batter per pancake. (I ended up with 14 pancakes). Sprinkle about 2 tablespoons of streusel on the pancakes right away. Using your hands works best.

4. Cook until bubbles form and the underside is golden, 2-3 minutes. You will not be able to flip these pancakes more than once, so make sure the underside is done. Carefully flip over the pancakes and generously, I mean load it, with streusel. I found the easiest way was to put a pile in the middle and spread it to the edges with my fingers. Proceed to lick your fingers and wash as necessary.
5. As the pancakes are cooked, transfer them to a large baking sheet and place in the oven to keep warm. Try to stack as little as possible, as the streusel topping will stick to the other pancakes if they are stacked. Serve with toppings of your choice, or none at all!

Cream Cheese Drizzle
adapted from Taste of Home Baking Cookbook
Prep: 5 minutes

3 ounces cream cheese or neufchatel cheese, softened
4 tablespoons butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
2-1/2 cups powdered sugar
milk, for thinning

1. In a medium mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and salt. Gradually beat in the powdered sugar. Add milk, about 1 tablespoon at a time, until frosting drizzles easily from a spoon. Keep in mind that it will be thinner if you have it warm in the oven.

My Review

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Beef and Barley Soup

A bowl of soup served with some great homemade bread is one of my favorite meals. They are so warm and comforting; especially in the middle of an ice storm! Soup also makes for great leftovers, and can be frozen for later use. I have really begun to embrace freezing meals and I'm loving it!

This soup is hearty and reminiscent of eating a great Italian meal. The tomatoes and basil blend beautifully with the beef to form a delicious medley of flavors for you to enjoy. It's healthy too, which is always an added bonus! Part of the reason I chose this soup is because I had never cooked with barley. For barley and me, it was love at first taste; I think I may even add more barley the next time around for this soup. I halved the recipe, which is what you will see below, but it can be doubled to make 3 quarts and serve 12. Enjoy!

As a side note, my friend will be coming to visit us this weekend (yay I'm so excited!) so I will probably not be posting. She leaves Monday, I work 12-hour shifts on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and then my husband's family will be here Thursday to stay the weekend! Needless to say, I don't think I will have time to do some posting, but I hope you all have a great week!

Beef and Barley Soup (Print)
adapted from Taste of Home
Prep: 30 minutes
Yield: 6 servings

1 pound lean ground beef
1 small white onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped celery
2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
1-1/2 cups water
1 (14-1/2 ounce) can beef broth
1/2 cup quick-cooking barley
1 (14-1/2 ounce) can diced tomatoes with garlic and onion, undrained
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried basil

1. In a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot, cook the beef, onions, celery, and garlic over medium heat until the meat is no longer pink; drain off excess grease.

2. Stir in the water and broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and add barley. Cover and simmer for 10-20 minutes or until barley is tender.

3. Stir in the 4 remaining ingredients and heat through. Serve immediately or allow soup to cool and transfer to freezer containers. Cover and freeze for up to 3 months. To use frozen soup, thaw in the refrigerator and reheat in a saucepan.

My Review