Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Something a little more exciting, a definite favorite dessert of mine. They seem so complicated, but are really so easy!
I make the pastry cream first because it needs to cool, but you can make the eclair shells a day or two before and store them as well.
For the pastry cream:
3/4 cup sugar
A pinch of salt
3 1/4 cups milk, divided
1/4 cup cornstarch
3 egg yolks
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
In a medium saucepot over medium heat, combine the sugar, salt and 3 cups milk, and bring up to a bubble. While the milk is heating up, combine the remaining 1/4 cup of milk with the cornstarch in a bowl and stir until completely dissolved. In another large bowl, break up the egg yolks and whisk them together.
Using a whisk, add the cornstarch mixture into the simmering milk and stir continuously until thickened, about 2 minutes (it's ok if the mixture boils lightly).

When the mixture has thickened up, slowly add a couple ladlefuls of the hot liquid into the bowl with the egg yolks while whisking constantly (this makes it so you don't get "scrambled egg" chunks in the pastry). Add the egg yolk mixture back to the pot, return it to medium heat and simmer until thickened, about 2 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract.
Transfer the mixture to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap, pushing the plastic down so that it covers the surface of the cream. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 2 hours and up to overnight.

For the éclair dough:
1 cup water
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup flour
4 eggs

Pre-heat oven to 400ºF.
In a medium saucepot over medium-high heat, combine water, butter, and salt. Heat until butter has melted and water is boiling.

Add flour and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Stir until mixture begins to create a dough ball in the center of the pot and dough is completely pulling away from the sides of the pan, about 2 minutes.

Transfer mixture to a mixing bowl or bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. On low speed, add the eggs to the mixture one at a time, scraping the sides of the bowl well after each addition and beating until the bowl feels cool (the mixture should be very smooth and silky).

Transfer the mixture to a plastic food storage bag and cut a half-inch off of one corner to create a pastry bag. On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, squeeze the mixture into desired shapes and bake until golden brown and puffed, about 30-40 minutes.
If you made the shells a day or two ahead and they feel soggy when you take them out, pop them into a 400ºF oven for a couple of minutes until they crisp up again. Allow them to cool before filling.

To assemble éclairs (they should be pretty quickly before serving): Give the pastry cream a stir to break it up and smooth it out then transfer it to a plastic food storage bag. Cut off about a quarter-inch from one corner to make a pastry bag-you could use a frosting bag, but I like to use the plastic bags so I can throw them away after.

Using a chopstick or skewer, poke a hole in one end of each baked pastry and wiggle the stick around to clear out some space. Squeeze the pastry cream into each opening, filling the pastries. To finish, dip the top half of the éclairs in frosting. Or you can melt dark chocolate and dip the tops in that and then let the chocolate set up a bit. For frosting I use 2 cups powdered sugar, 1/3 cube butter, 2-3 Tbsp. baking cocoa, and either canned milk or cream, with a little vanilla. Just adjust the milk and powdered sugar to get it to the consistency you want. Enjoy!!!

Super Simple Soup

Last night I wanted something really quick, easy, and simple. We've had some upset tummies over this way so I wanted something soothing. It isn't anything fancy, and chances are you've probably already made something similar. But I want to remember my "idea" when I need something in the future.
1 can chicken noodle soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can water
1/2 can whipping cream
1/4 c. Romano Cheese

Just combine the ingredients and heat. We had this with Colby Jack/Swiss grilled cheese sandwiches and even though it's a simple flavor, we all really liked it.

Suki Yaki

Japanese food is one of my favorite kinds of foods, I think some of it is nostalgic and reminds me of home, and the other part is it just tastes so good. Here's a recipes that's pretty easy and can be adapted to what you like or don't like, and you don't have to worry about feeling intimidated walking into an Asian market, if you are lucky enough to have one nearby.
Go check it out, over at our family cooking blog.

Chicken Fried Steak

This recipe was really fun to make.  This was my first chicken fried steak.  I bought  The Pioneer Womens  cookbook.  Which I love, looking at her pictures makes me want to move to the middle of nowhere and live on a ranch ( ok maybe not).  But her step by step pictures and instructions make me thing I can cook anything.  So a few weeks ago we tried this and it was fun.  The only thing that I didn't like was the cubed steaks I bought were huge, and I didn't think anything of it.  But when eating this I decided that I liked the edges of the steak with all of its crusty goodness, so next time I will buy smaller or cut them into smaller steaks.  Have fun with this one!!  Oh yes the gravy is a must for the steak and also for smashed potatoes if you choose to make them!!

Chicken-Fried Steak
From The Pioneer Woman Cooks cookbook, pages 142-145

3 pounds cube steak
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups milk, plus 2 cups for the gravy
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus about 1/3 cup for the gravy
2 teaspoons seasoned salt, such as Lawry's
3/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (more if you can handle it)
1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper
seasoning salt 
1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil for frying

The prep-
Mix the flour, seasoned salt, paprika, cayenne and black pepper together in a shallow plate. Mix the eggs with 1 cup of the milk in another shallow dish. Have a third empty dish close by. Lightly season the meat with salt and pepper. Dip each piece into the egg/milk mixture, then into the flour mixture. Now, dip the flour covered meat back into the egg mixture and then one more time into the flour mixture. Place the double dipped meat onto the empty plate.

The Cooking-
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until hot. (A few sprinkles of flour will sizzle in the oil when it is hot enough) Fry the meat, several pieces at a time. Cook on one side until the edges start to look golden brown, about 2 1/2 minutes. Flip the meat and cook for another 2 or 3 minutes on the other side. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate and keep warm until all the meat has been cooked.

The Gravy-
 After frying all the meat, pour off all the grease into a heat-proof bowl. Do not clean the pan! Return it to the stove over medium-low heat. Add 1/4 cup of the grease back to the pan. Allow the grease to heat up. Sprinkle 1/3 cup of flour evenly over the grease. Using a whisk, mix the flour with grease, creating a paste. When the flour becomes golden brown, while whisking constantly, pour in two cups of milk. Whisk to combine, then let the gravy come to a slow boil. Season with  seasoning salt. Add more milk if the gravy becomes too thick, whisking it into the flour/gravy. The whole process should be between 5 to 10 minutes.
*  make sure to taste and then season accordingly, because under seasoned gravy is the worst!

Place the warm meat on a plate with a heaping pile of smashed potatoes. Drizzle with a little (or a lot!) of  the gravy. Ree ( the pioneer women) says "Serve this to a hungry cowboy and you'll earn a friend for life". 

Friday, March 19, 2010

Shredded Beef Enchiladas

I Love Mexican food, and I LOVE simple things that are easy to make. I do not claim to be a gourmet chef of any kind (I only make the simplest of things!), but quite often Ryan will say that _____ is "restaurant quality" or better than at a restaurant. This was one of the times. He said they were his favorite enchiladas I've ever made. So now that I've built them up, you'll have to try them and let me know what you think. I had a giant cross-rib roast so I cooked the whole thing in my crockpot with just some beef bouillon and then just used some of it and froze most of it for future super convenient dinners (see easy as I can make it for myself). We love the raw tortillas (found at most grocery stores, and especially in bulk at Sam's Club-our favorite). I cooked 8-10 of those up (20 seconds on a side in a frying pan-no oil needed) and shredded a bunch of colby jack cheese while I had the sauce simmering. The sauce is super easy-1 Western Family Enchilada sauce seasoning packet, 1 6 oz. can tomato paste, and 16 oz. water. Mix that together and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Preheat the oven to 375 and assemble. I put some spoonfuls of sauce on the bottom of my 10x13 pan to it was covered with a thin layer. Then put some of the meat (not too much) in the tortilla along with a little cheese, roll up and place in the pan seam side down. Continue to do this until you've filled your pan and used up your meat etc. Then top with more sauce (I used pretty much all of it) and cover with cheese. Cook 15-20 minutes until the cheese is bubbly and kind of crunchy on the edges.

shredded beef-cross rib roast (2 cups.)
cheese-colby jack
Enchilada seasoning pack
1 6 oz. can tomato paste
16 oz. water

Hope you enjoy, they are definitely going to be a regular thing at our house!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

calzone, pizza, breadstick dough!!

Let me start out by saying that this recipe is so good and versatile that it has made it to my cupboard door!! And in my house that only happens when it is a great recipe!!

I went looking for the perfect dough to make calzones with. Calzones and us we have a history. Colin purposed on New Years Eve, and earlier in the evening he had made calzones for us to eat. So now we make them every new years eve, but I have never been satisfied with the dough. It has never been just right for me. And then when Tyler was born my incredible friend Mandy (who is also from Washington, I love that I had to come to Rexburg to meet her!! She is a- maz-ing, when we get back into a house she will be my first call to be my decorator! Oh yeah and you should check out her blog, her and her 2 sisters started a blog with lots of cute ideas. Seriously she is my hero!) brought over calzones for everyone and we all ate them up so fast. And guess what the dough (of course) was perfect. And instead of asking her for her recipe, because I feel like all I do is copy her, I went looking for one. And I think I found it. I actually already had it. I had used it to make some yummy garlic bread sticks!! I found it here. I Love this dough recipe. I have used it to make bread sticks, cheesy garlic rolls, pizza, and calzones. It is so easy and so perfect!! My kids had a ball helping roll out there own dough and putting on their own toppings. If you would like more of a step by step tutorial you can find it here.

Dough recipe

1 1/2 c. warm (105-115 degrees) water
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. yeast
1/2 tsp. salt
3-4 1/2 c. flour

In a large bowl (the bowl of your mixer, if you have one), combine water, sugar, and yeast. Let stand for 10 minutes or until yeast is bubbly.

Add salt and stir. Add 1 1/2 c. flour and mix well. Gradually add more flour (usually between 3-4 cups, depending on your elevation and your humidity) until dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl and it barely sticks to your finger.

Spray a glass or metal bowl with cooking spray and place dough in the bowl.
Cover and allow to rise for 45 minutes or until doubled in bulk.

From there you can either roll into pizza dough, calzones, or breadsticks.

yes I know they are still in there pjs in the middle of the day, don't judge people

Calzones -
take a small amount of dough and roll out , on one side add Italian dressing then top with your favorite topping. pull other side over and pinch side to seal closed. I cooked mine in a 375 oven for about 10 minutes. Have some marinara sauce for dipping.

one recipe will make about 2 medium pizzas. Roll out dough and the prick with a fork to get holes in it so you dont have bubbly dough. After this, if you like crispy crust brush with olive oil and itialian seasoning or garlic salt/ powder and bake for 5-10 minutes. Take out then add you sauce and toppings then stick back in the oven. bake at 425 for 10 -12 minutes

Remove from bowl and place on a lightly-floured surface. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Roll into a rectangle and cut into 12 strips with a pizza cutter.Roll out each piece of dough into a snake and then drape over your forefinger and twist the dough. Place on baking sheet and repeat with remaining 11 pieces of dough. Try to space them evenly, but it's okay if they're close; pulling apart hot bread is one of life's greatest pleasures! Cover pan and allow dough to rise for another 30 minutes.
When there's about 15 minutes to go, preheat your oven to 425. When done rising, bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Rub some butter on top of the breadsticks (just put a ziploc bag on your hand, grab some softened butter, and have at it) and sprinkle with garlic bread seasoning or the powdery Parmesan cheese in a can and garlic salt.

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I have. Maybe it will make your cupboard door as well!!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Oatmeal Pancakes

Oatmeal Pancakes

2 c. oats

2 c. buttermilk

½ c. flour

2 Tbs. Sugar

1 tsp. Baking powder

1 tsp. Baking soda

½ tsp. Salt

2 eggs, beaten

½ c. butter, melted then cooled

Combine oats and buttermilk in a bowl, cover and let sit in the fridge overnight.

Combine the dry ingredients.

Add eggs and butter to the oat mixture. Stir in dry ingredients.

Cook pancakes.

After Cori shared her yummy pancake recipe, I thought I'd share one of our new favorites. (By the way they were yummy, the syrup totally made the pancakes, go try them!) These were super yummy. We have made them several times and you should too!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Cinnamon Bun Pancakes

Every time I eat pancakes I think of my Dad. Growing up, when mom was away and it was dads turn to cook he always cooked, or at least tried to persuade us that we should eat pancakes. They are his specialty. My kids even know this. When we go to visit they always are waiting for Grandpa to make them pancakes!! Well Dad I found a new recipe to add to your collection! I found this recipe on Real Moms Kitchen. I even stole the picture from her. She found the recipe from Tasty kitchen which is a site started by Ree the Pioneer Women. These are so yummy. And syrup is the perfect match to these pancakes. Well the syrup is perfect for just about anything that needs syrup! When I made the syrup for these pancakes I doubled the recipe. We had some left so I heated it up this last weekend for french toast. To die For!! Enjoy!

picture of cinnamon bun pancakes with maple-butter icing

Cinnamon Bun Pancakes

  • 1-½ cup All-purpose Flour
  • 3 Tablespoons White Sugar
  • ½ teaspoons Salt
  • 4 teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 1 Tablespoon Cinnamon
  • 2 whole Eggs Beaten
  • 1 cup Milk
  • 2 Tablespoons Corn Syrup
  • ¼ cups Butter, Melted
  • 1 Tablespoon Vanilla
  1. In medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and cinnamon with a whisk. Whisk well to make sure everything is combined.
  2. In separate large bowl, beat together eggs, milk, corn syrup, butter and vanilla. Stir in flour mixture.
  3. Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium/low heat. Pour about 1/4 cup batter onto griddle. Brown on both sides.
  4. Serve warm with maple-butter icing drizzled over the top. Makes 12 pancakes.

Maple-Butter Icing (I recommend doubling the recipe)

  • 1 cup Powdered Sugar
  • ¼ cups Butter, Melted
  • Dash Of Salt
  • 1 Tablespoon Maple Syrup
  • ¼ cups Whole Milk (more If Needed)

Whisk all ingredients together until smooth, adding the milk slowly. Add enough milk for desired consistency.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

One pot chicken and penne parmesan

My family loves this. It has saved the day many times when I haven't felt good enough to cook, its quick, easy and taste so yummy!

1 tablespoon butter or margarine
3/4lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1 inch cubes
1-3/4 cups(14-1/2 oz. can) chicken broth
1/2 (8oz) package penne pasta uncooked
1 pkg (16 oz) frozen broccoli, carrots, and cauliflower mix
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 can condensed cream of chicken soup
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided ( some times I have used Cheddar cheese when we didn't have Parmesan and it still tasted yummy!)

in 5-quart saucepan over medium head, melt butter, add chicken. Cook 5 minutes or until no longer pink. add broth;heat to boiling. Add uncooked pasta, vegetables, and pepper, stirring to coat pasta with liquid. Heat to boiling, reduce head. Cover, simmer 13 minutes, stirring every 2 minutes, or until pasta is tender and most liquid is absorbed. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, stir together soup, milk and 1/2 cup cheese until smooth, stir into chicken mixture. heat until mixture just comes to a boil; sprinkle with remaining cheese. MAKES 8 SERVINGS.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Zucchini Brownies

I know it's not really zucchini season, but we had tons of it in our garden last year, and froze a lot! I needed to make a dessert for something this week, so I decided to pull out one of my many unused bags in the freezer and use it today. So that is why I decided to post it today.

Zucchini Brownies
1/2 c. oil
1 1/2 c. sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
2 c. flour
1/2 c. cocoa
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 c. zucchini, grated

Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour a 9x13 pan. Mix together oil, sugar, and vanilla. In another container mix together the dry ingredients (flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt). Add the dry ingredients to the oil, sugar, and vanilla. It will be really dry, and crumbly (don't panic, the recipe is right, there are NO EGGS in the recipe). Stir in the zucchini until incorporated. If you are using frozen zucchini that has been thawed you will have water that comes out of the zucchini as it thaws, just add all of it into the bowl. If you are using fresh zucchini, your "batter" might seem really dry, but trust me, it'll be fine. Put your "batter" into your pan, you might have to press it in, depending on if you are using fresh zucchini or not. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Frost with frosting when cooled.

6 Tbs. cocoa
1/4 c. butter
2 c. powder sugar
1/4 c. milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla
Melt butter and stir in cocoa. Then add the rest of the ingredients. You might need to add more powder sugar, depending on how thick you want your frosting.