Saucy Chicken Thighs and Orzo

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Ingredients

3 lbs. boneless skinless chicken thighs

3 Tbsp. olive oil

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 shallot, chopped fine

1 cup red wine

1 can of fire roasted diced tomatoes (14.5 oz)

5 sprigs of thyme

1 qt. chicken stock

1 Tbsp. fresh oregano

1 Tbsp. tomato paste

1 1/2 cups uncooked orzo

salt and pepper

Method

Heat a large stock pot (8 qt) on medium-high and add the olive oil.  Salt and pepper the chicken thighs and place them in the pan to brown without crowding.  You may have to do this in two steps.  Once browned on both sides remove them from the pan and set aside.   Add the shallot and garlic to the pan and cook for about 3 minutes until they begin to soften.  Turn the heat up to high and add the wine.  Stir to remove the brown bits from the pan.  Cook until the wine is reduced by half.  Return the chicken to the pan, add the tomatoes, thyme sprigs, chicken stock, oregano, tomato paste and bring to a boil.  Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.  After 30 minutes add the orzo to the pan and stir frequently for about 10 minutes until the orzo is done.  Remove the thyme sprigs and season with salt and pepper.  Enjoy!

 

7-UP Pound Cake

Some of the best recipes come from those old church cookbooks.  You know the ones, where the ladies at church submit their best and most coveted recipes and they sell the books as a fundraiser.  I’ve purchased a few at church sales, have even been asked to submit recipes, but many of the church cookbooks I have came from garage sales.   Many of my go-to recipes come from the pages of these books.  The grease and splatter stains can act as proof.  I started highlighting the recipe name after I make it and then mark notes if we liked it or not.  Here’s one that is old-school.  You’ve probably had it at least once in your life.  I just LOVE pound cake and a while back I was remembering the old favorite 7-up pound cake.  I had never made one so went on a search to find a recipe.  As luck would have it, I didn’t have to look far it was on page 204 of the Taste & See that the Lord is good – St. Paul’s Family Ministry Cookbook.  Submitted by Delores DeGroodt.  Here is how it’s written:

1 1/2 cups oleo (for you youngin’s that means butter or margarine, I used unsalted butter)

3 cups sugar

5 eggs

3 cups flour

2 tsp. lemon extract

3/4 cup 7-Up soda

 

Cream oleo and sugar until fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time, beating well.  Add flour, extract and 7-Up.  Bake in well-greased and floured bundt pant at 325° for 1 1/4 hours.  Cool.  Dust with powdered sugar.

As you can see, I didn’t dust mine with powdered sugar.  I made a simple glaze of powdered sugar and lemon juice.  Measure 2 cups confectioners sugar in a bowl, add 3-4 Tbsp. of fresh lemon juice.  Stir.  Add more of either ingredient to change the consistency to your liking.

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Enjoy!

Vietnamese Style Black Pepper and Garlic Beef over Egg Noodles

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This recipe is adapted from Fine Cooking Issue 111.

2 Tbsp. soy sauce

2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice

2 Tbsp. light brown sugar

1 Tbsp. fish sauce

5 cloves of garlic, minced

3 Tbsp. vegetable oil

Kosher salt and freshly group black pepper

1 1/2 lbs. flank steak or sirloin steak sliced thin against that grain (1/8″ thick)

1 medium yellow onion cut in half, then cut in 1/4″ thick wedges

4 scallions (green and white parts), sliced 1/2″ thick

1 lb. of egg noodle pasta, (longer noodles like tagliatelle, I use Cetina brand)

Fill large pot with water and bring to a boil.  Once boiling, salt the water and add the pasta.  Cook until al dente.  Drain the pasta and set aside until the last step in the recipe. While waiting for the water to boil:

In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce, lime juice, brown sugar and fish sauce, stir until the sugar dissolves.  In another small bowl stir the garlic, 1 1/2 tsp. of the oil and 1 1/2 tsp. black pepper.

Season the beef with salt and pepper.  In a large non-stick skillet or wok, heat 1 1/2 tsp. of the oil over medium-high heat until hot.  Swirl to coat the skillet.  Add half the beef in a single layer and cook until well browned, 1 to 2 minutes.  Using tongs, turn the pieces over and brown the other side.  Transfer to a bowl.  Add the 1 1/2 tsp. oil to the skillet and repeat with the remaining beef, adding it to the bowl with the first batch when done.

Put the remaining 1 1/2 tbsp. oil in the skillet and heat until hot.  Add the yellow onion and cook, stirring frequently until it begins to soften, 2 to 3 minutes.  Add the garlic and pepper mixture and cook stirring constantly until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Return the beef and any accumulated juices to the pan and stir to combine.  Add the soy sauce mixture and cook, stirring constantly until the beef and onions are coated.  Add the cooked pasta and stir to coat.  Stir in the chopped scallions.  Serve and enjoy!

Vanilla Spritz Sandwiches

Vanilla Spritz Sandwiches

Vanilla Spritz Sandwiches

My friend Jen gave me an AWESOME cookbook for my birthday last year.  It’s called The Art of the Cookie by Shelly Kaldunski.

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I thought it only fitting that on her birthday I would try out one of the recipes in the book and surprise her with the results.  So I set out to make the Vanilla Spritz Sandwiches on page 96.  They were so pretty that you would think they were hard to make, but they aren’t.  In fact I inspired Jen to make them too!  I’m looking forward to trying a few of the others too, like the Neopolitans, Lemon Window Panes and the Dried Cherry Shortbread.  Check out this book, it’s a good one to have on the shelf!

These make a great gift!

Surprise someone with a delicious gift!

 

Perfect Hard Boiled Eggs

Perfectly hard boiled eggs

My mind isn’t what it used to be.  I’m always forgetting things!  Does this happen to you?  Well, I was getting ready to make a recipe that called for hard boiled eggs.  I put the water on the stove to boil and went to the fridge for the eggs, well something happened on the way to the fridge and I never got the eggs out!  I realized it much later when I noticed water boiling on the stove!  I couldn’t believe it!  I usually put my eggs into the cold water and then start the burner.  I decided to try putting the eggs into the already boiling water.  Using a slotted spoon I carefully laid the eggs into the pot.  Sometimes an egg or two will crack due to the change in temperature, but that’s okay.

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I let them boil for a total of 14 minutes.  Then took them out and immediately put them into an ice bath.

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IMG_0007 IMG_0008 IMG_0009 IMG_0010After they have cooled into the ice bath (to stop the cooking process).  You will find that they peel with EASE and there is NO green ring around the yolk.  The shell comes off in large pieces too!  No need to add anything extra to the water.  I have tried this many times and have perfected it with a 14 minute boil.  I will never go back to the old way of making hard boiled eggs.

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Try them and let me know how it works for you!  Sometimes mistakes turn into good things!

Caramel Chex Mix

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WARNING!  You may want to triple this recipe – it has been known to be highly addictive!

Ingredients

6 cups Chex cereal – Use your favorite

1 stick butter

1/2 cup light corn syrup

1 cup brown sugars

1 cup roasted peanuts

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Method

In a sauce pan melt the butter, add the brown sugar and corn syrup, stir and heat on medium-high until you see small bubbles forming.

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At this point, stir in the baking soda and remove the pan from the heat.

In a large microwave-safe bowl, mix the chex cereal and peanuts together.  Pour the hot mixture over the cereal.  DO NOT STIR.

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Place the bowl in the microwave for one minute.  Remove after one minute and stir to combine.  Put back in the microwave for another minute, take out and stir again.  Repeat one more time (3 times total).  Lay the mixture on wax paper – I use Super Parchment – which is a reusable teflon coated sheet similar to Silpat.  If using wax paper you may want to butter or spray with cooking spray to avoid sticking.

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Let them cool for about 20 minutes or so and then store in a covered container.  Enjoy!

The most delicious Zucchini Bread you’ll ever make (easy too)

My interest in cooking came when I was very young, I remember the day our neighbor June came over with a zucchini bread as a gift to our family, I think I was in the 6th grade.  At the time I thought it was the best thing I had ever tasted.  I had to have the recipe and she was happy to give it.  I couldn’t wait to try it and I’ve been making it ever since.  This bread is so moist with just the right amount of seasoning.  It’s great when zucchini are plentiful in the garden and you don’t know what to do with them.  Make a few to freeze and some to give away, you will be sure to make someone’s day!

Ingredients

1 cup sugar

2/3 cup vegetable oil

2 eggs

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 cup chopped nuts – optional (I like walnuts)

1 cup grated zucchini

Method

This recipe yields one loaf.  Preheat your oven to 375°.  Prepare your pans with butter and flour.  I use a food processor to chop my zucchini, but if you don’t have one, there are other methods.  You can use a box grater and grate it like you would cheese.  Or you can use a blender.  You will need to add water to get the zucchini moving, but then you will need to squeeze the water out after draining so your zucchini doesn’t retain the water.

Combine sugar and oil in mixing bowl, beat until combined.  Add the eggs and mix.  Add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices.  Mix well and then add the zucchini and nuts.  Pour into your prepared loaf pan and bake for 55 minutes.  Enjoy!