Thursday, September 29, 2011

Pecan Praline Lace Cookies


These delicate cookies are great by themselves with a nice cup of tea or coffee.... but they really are the perfect little cup for berries, custards, etc.  You can make these today with only 5 simple pantry ingredients...

Ingredients:
  • ½ cup + 2 Tbsp finely chopped pecans 
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour 
  • ½ stick unsalted butter, softened 
  • ¼ cup packed dark brown sugar 
  • ¼ cup light corn syrup (Karo) 
  • just a smidge of vanilla

Method: 
  • Preheat oven to 350oF. 
  • In small bowl, combine pecans and flour. 
  • In small saucepan, combine butter, sugar, and syrup and bring to a boil (and also vanilla)
  • Remove from heat and stir dry ingredients into pot.
  • Transfer to a bowl to cool, stirring occasionally until it becomes doughy. 
  • With moist hands, roll dough into balls of desired size.  
  • Place on ungreased cookie sheet or preferably a Silpat 3’ – 7” apart.  They spread a LOT.
  • Bake 9 ½  - 10 min (until there is no more bubbling),  Don’t over bake them or you won’t be able to shape them. 
  •  Remove from oven and allow them to cool just a couple of minutes until flexible with spatula, but still malleable.
  • Mold, or shape them (roll or drape) and cool on wire rack. 
  • I like to turn them over (bumpy pecan side facing down next to jar; smooth side out) over a spice bottle.  This makes darling little cups that can be filled with custard and fruit, lemon curd, etc.
They can also be rolled into a cookie “cigar” (bumpy side out) and dipped if desired on one end in melted milk/white chocolate.
  
Careful!  They are very fragile once they cool!!

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Method: 
  • Preheat oven to 350oF. 
  • In small bowl, combine pecans and flour. 
  • In small saucepan, combine butter, sugar, and syrup and bring to a boil (and also vanilla)
  • Remove from heat and stir dry ingredients into pot.
  • Transfer to a bowl to cool, stirring occasionally until it becomes doughy. 
  • With moist hands, roll dough into balls of desired size.  
  • Place on ungreased cookie sheet or preferably a Silpat 3’ – 7” apart.  They spread a LOT.
  • Bake 9 ½  - 10 min (until there is no more bubbling),  Don’t over bake them or you won’t be able to shape them. 
  •  Remove from oven and allow them to cool just a couple of minutes until flexible with spatula, but still malleable.
  • Mold, or shape them (roll or drape) and cool on wire rack. 
  • I like to turn them over (bumpy pecan side facing down next to jar; smooth side out) over a spice bottle.  This makes darling little cups that can be filled with custard and fruit, lemon curd, etc.
They can also be rolled into a cookie “cigar” (bumpy side out) and dipped if desired on one end in melted milk/white chocolate.

Careful!  They are very fragile once they cool!!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Buffalo Chicken Dip

This is one of the easiest, fastest appetizers you can make.. and most of the ingredients are probably in your pantry right now.  That makes it perfect for everything from guests who just happen to pop in, to throwing it in a crock pot and bringing it to a tailgating party.

Click Here for Video Recipe 

Click Here to Print Recipe 

Ingredients: (for a crowd)
20 Servings

  • 2 (10 oz)        Cans chunk chicken, drained  
    • (or alternatively you can use 1 lb cooked chicken breasts) 
  • 2 (8 oz)          Pkgs cream cheese, softened 
  • 1 cup             Ranch dressing 
  • ¾ cup            Hot sauce or hot wing sauce (my favorite is Moore’s Buffalo Wing Sauce) 
  • 1 ½ cup         Shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese


Canon looks sad, but he actually just figured out that if you look through the little "window" at the top of the "cheese machine," you can see the cheese falling into the middle.  He was fascinated.
 Season and pan cook the chicken.
 Cook until golden brown but still tender and juicy.
Since the chicken is cooked, just mix and heat.  It's that easy!!
Serve with celery, crackers, etc.  No joke – the celery is awesome with it!
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Looking for more easy appetizers?

Method:
Cook chicken if using fresh.  Add the seasonings of your choice (I used salt, pepper, garlic powder, basil, oregano) and pan cook the chicken in a little canola oil and butter until cooked through but still tender and juicy.  To make it easier to eat, shred the chicken into small pieces.
To make for a gathering....
Heat chicken and hot sauce in skillet over medium heat until heated through.  Stir in cream cheese and ranch dressing.  Cook, stirring until well blended and warm.  Mix in half of the shredded cheese, and transfer the mixture to a slow cooker.  Sprinkle cheese over the top, cover, and cook on low setting until hot and bubble (about 40 min).  
To make for yourself (smile).....
Just throw it all in a pot and heat it together until it's all melted and smooth.

Hot Parmesan Artichoke Dip 
 
Louisiana Crab Claws Bordelaise 
Click here to subcribe to MenuMusings!!  And for more awesome recipes, visit my Recipe Index.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Jack-o-Lantern Chicken Pot Pies

So you know that little box of puff pastry that you buy frozen?  Well it comes with two sheets of fold-out pastry.  One is plenty to cover the standard pie plate, so we used the second sheet to cover these cute little cast iron skillets for individualized "Jack-o-Lantern" portions that are just perfect for the upcoming holiday season.

We took LOTS of short cuts with this one, folks!  So it was super simple and fast (after allowing the pastry to thaw).  As a matter of fact, assembly for this was faster and easier than using pie crust!

Ingredients:
  • frozen puff pastry
  • rotisserie chicken
  • frozen mixed vegetable
  • salt, pepper, poultry seasoning
  • optional - garlic powder
  • can of condensed cream of chicken soup
  • egg wash (1 egg, a Tbsp of water, mixed)
Step-by-Step:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Allow the pastry to thaw for about 30 minutes or so on a floured surface.
Pretend that you are doing this alone and your kitchen will stay neat.  I almost had to vacuum my daughter off by the time we were finished.  But that's the point of all this - allowing them to participate and learn.
Grab your cooking vessel of choice.  Any type of iron skillets, ceramic ramekins, or other oven safe individual casserole dishes would work.
Another shortcut - rotisserie chicken.  Have someone pull it off the bone for you and chop it up.  One of us is working on scissor skills.  The other is working on building a road through the flour.
First goes the chicken...
The next shortcut.  Frozen mixed vegetables.  Boy, this whole thing could get really, really homemade or we could just use lots of shortcuts.  This afternoon was one of those shortcut days.  One additional note about these veggies - the vegetables that are frozen seem to break down and cook a lot faster than the fresh ones, so you are saving time on the front and the back ends of this.
Add your seasonings right over the veggies - salt, pepper, a little poultry seasoning.  In the past, I've also added a little garlic powder, and sometimes a tiny bit of dry cooking sherry.  But today, we kept it fast and simple.

Over the seasoning, add a few spoons of condensed cream of celery (or cream of chicken) soup right out of the can.  Just enough to cover.  It's sort of important (in my opinion) that you layer the pot pie in this way.  When the soup cooks down, it melts all down through the vegetables and meat making everything creamy and moist and gooey.  If it is not at the top, the veggies tend to be dry.
Cut out a pumpkin shape just a tad bit bigger than the top of the dish.
Place the puff pastry over the pot pie filling.  Give the Jack-o-Lantern pea eyes and a carrot nose.
Brush the tops of the pastry with an egg wash.  This makes it brown beautifully and gives it a glossy sheen on top that is really pretty.  Otherwise, it comes out really dull looking.
Pop them in a preheated oven at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes.  (???)  I don't quite remember how long I had them in... we had lots going on in the kitchen today.  Set the timer for around 20 min and then keep an eye on them.  You will also start smelling them.
Now wouldn't these be so cute for your Trick-or-Treat party?  Happy Autumn, Y'all!

Order the Menu Musings Cookbook!
 
Here are some bonus recipes:
Grilled Zucchini Rolls 

Pumpkin Upside Down Cake

Pumpkin Pie Spiced Martinis

Cranberry Glazed Pork Tenderloin

Inside Out Caramel Apple Slices

Taco Soup


Written Method:
We took LOTS of short cuts with this one, folks!  So it was super simple and fast (after allowing the pastry to thaw).  As a matter of fact, assembly for this was faster and easier than using pie crust!  Allow the pastry to thaw for about 30 minutes or so on a floured surface.  Grab your cooking vessel of choice.  Any type of iron skillets, ceramic ramekins, or other oven safe individual casserole dishes would work.  Another shortcut - rotisserie chicken.  Have someone pull it off the bone for you and chop it up. 


First goes the chicken, then the frozen mixed vegetables.  Boy, this whole thing could get really, really homemade or we could just use lots of shortcuts.  This afternoon was one of those shortcut days.  One additional note about these veggies - the vegetables that are frozen seem to break down and cook a lot faster than the fresh ones, so you are saving time on the front and the back ends of this.


Add your seasonings right over the veggies - salt, pepper, a little poultry seasoning.  In the past, I've also added a little garlic powder, and sometimes a tiny bit of dry cooking sherry.  But today, we kept it fast and simple.  Over the seasoning, add a few spoons of condensed cream of celery (or cream of chicken) soup right out of the can.  Just enough to cover.  It's sort of important (in my opinion) that you layer the pot pie in this way.  When the soup cooks down, it melts all down through the vegetables and meat making everything creamy and moist and gooey.  If it is not at the top, the veggies tend to be dry.

Cut out a pumpkin shape just a tad bit bigger than the top of the dish.  Place the puff pastry over the pot pie filling.  Give the Jack-o-Lantern pea eyes and a carrot nose.  Brush the tops of the pastry with an egg wash.  This makes it brown beautifully and gives it a glossy sheen on top that is really pretty.  Otherwise, it comes out really dull looking.


Pop them in a preheated oven at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes.  Set the timer for around 20 min and then keep an eye on them.  You will also start smelling them.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Blackberry Balsamic Rosemary Sauce...over Cheesecake

This Sunday afternoon snack came together in about 20 minutes!  I picked up some cheesecake "bites" from the grocery store, and just wanted a bit of something sweet.  Well the cheesecake is SO super sweet that a sauce that "tones" that down just a bit is welcome.  This sauce was adapted from a recipe that I found in Traditional Home, and it looked quite yummy.  
This sauce is for those of you who enjoy the traditional with a twist.  Just a little something different in the background that makes a dish unique.

Ingredients:
9 oz of seedless blackberry preserves or jam
1 Tbsp water
1 Tbsp good quality aged balsamic vinegar
1 sprig fresh rosemary
optional - about 2/3 tsp cornstarch in 1 Tbsp water.

So first, a visit out to the herb garden.  I have enough rosemary for my entire subdivision!

Combine the preserves, water and vinegar together.  Bring to a simmer over medium to medium-high heat.
 Add 1 sprig fresh rosemary.
Simmer, uncovered about 3-5 minutes.  Simmer longer for a thicker sauce.  I also took this opportunity to dissolve about 2/3 tsp of cornstarch into 1 Tbsp water and add to the boiling sauce.  Let this come to a complete boil for at least 1 minute so it can do it's job as a thickener.

Remove from heat.  Remove the sprig of rosemary.
 Let sauce cool.  I poured mine into a ceramic dish first...
 ...then added it to an ice bath and stirred it every couple of minutes.  (Patience was never my strong suit).  This cut my cooling time down from probably an hour to about 10 minutes.
To serve, I topped a "cheesecake bite" with a bit of the sauce, garnished with fresh blackberries and a fresh rosemary sprig.  Delish!
See these four blackberries?  I can put money on it that they are the only four I'll get out of the whole container.  My oldest and youngest will demolish them... so this makes me feel a bit less guilty about my little nap time indulgence today.  - out here on the porch, looking out over the lake... Ahhhhh!  If only my favorite photographer was here to enjoy this with me.
Food notes:
I see that several people use a blackberry balsamic sauce for a variety of meats - cornish hens, duck, lamb, pork tenderloin.... Mmmm... it's nice to have so many uses for something so quick, easy and delicious.  This truly was just a easy and fast sauce.  Cover and chill the left over sauce and store in the fridge for up to 3 days. 

Lagniappe -
Just a little walk through the herb garden... Since we are enjoying such beautiful Autumn weather right now.  It's hard to make yourself stay indoors.
Green onions
Rosemary

Mint
Oregano
Tarragon

Thyme
Basil


Written Method:
Combine the preserves, water and vinegar together.  Bring to a simmer over medium to medium-high heat.

 Add 1 sprig fresh rosemary.

Simmer, uncovered about 3-5 minutes.  Simmer longer for a thicker sauce.  I also took this opportunity to dissolve about 2/3 tsp of cornstarch into 1 Tbsp water and add to the boiling sauce.  Let this come to a complete boil for at least 1 minute so it can do it's job as a thickener.

Remove from heat.  Remove the sprig of rosemary.

 Let sauce cool.  I poured mine into a ceramic dish first...

 ...then added it to an ice bath and stirred it every couple of minutes.  (Patience was never my strong suit).  This cut my cooling time down from probably an hour to about 10 minutes.

To serve, I topped a "cheesecake bite" with a bit of the sauce, garnished with fresh blackberries and a fresh rosemary sprig.  Delish!

See these four blackberries?  I can put money on it that they are the only four I'll get out of the whole container.  My oldest and youngest will demolish them... so this makes me feel a bit less guilty about my little nap time indulgence today.  - out here on the porch, looking out over the lake... Ahhhhh!  If only my favorite photographer was here to enjoy this with me.

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