Sunday, June 19, 2011

Breaded Ranch Cheesy Bacon Chicken

There are no pictures to go along with this post...and I feel badly that it has taken me so long to post again...I've been trying to find good food to make without focusing on sweets (which is all this preggo mama wants!!)

But I have a recipe at last! Tonight for dinner Lane requested chicken, and I didn't want to do something boring (or that took a long time to make, since it was already starting to get late) I came up with this...yes, all on my own!

Chicken breasts
Ranch dressing
Sliced bacon
Shredded cheese

1. Preheat the oven to 350* and lightly grease  a baking pan.
2. Coat the chicken in the ranch dressing, then in bread crumbs. Place in the baking pan.
3. Microwave the bacon until nearly cooked completely. Lay the slices over the chicken breasts.
4. Top the chicken and bacon with the shredded cheese. Cover with tin foil.
5. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until chicken is baked through. (I removed the tin foil about halfway through to check on the chicken and allow the cheese/bacon to get a little more crispy.)
6. Serve with french bread and applesauce! (that's what we did at least...and it was awesome!!)

I'm hoping to get back into cooking/baking this week...we'll see how that goes!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Twix Brownies

I did the Special K 2 Week Challenge to try to maintain my weight during the end of this past month, in hopes of not gaining too much and having my doctor be mad at me. I did pretty well, gaining only 4 pounds (rather than 9 like last month!) in 4 weeks.

So, to celebrate my fairly good eating habits........I made brownies. :-P And not just ANY brownies...these are TWIX Brownies.

Oh yum.

Now, next week I'm starting my careful eating and fruits/veggies (if I can find any I like) for snacks to keep the weight gain to baby necessary weight only, but for the rest of this weekend, I'm allowing myself to eat some brownies...and now you have to go make them so you can too ;-)

Twix brownies
4 tablespoons butter, softened
1/4 cup canola oil
1 2/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/3 cup + 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 cup baking cocoa
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
1 cup chocolate chips (the original calls for semi-sweet, but I used milk chocolate)
3 Twix candy bars, chopped (by 3, it means 3 of the small packages, or 6 individual bars, see the picture in the original recipe if you're confused.)
batter...oh yum
1. Preheat the oven to 350*.
2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, oil and sugar. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix well.
3. Add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
4. Fold in the chocolate chips and Twix pieces.
5. Spread in the bottom of an 8x8 baking dish (I sprayed mine with cooking spray first, though the original doesn't call for it) and bake for 40-45 minutes. (Keep an eye on them, for me at higher altitude, it only took about 30 minutes to get completely cooked) Brownies are done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
and the finished product...even more yum!!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Cookies in a Snap (Cake Mix Cookies)

So tonight is pizza/games night...and since pizza is pretty basic (and I'm not going to make anything from scratch this time around - I cheated and bought store bought pizza dough), I decided to throw together an easy dessert...I always feel like I have to make a dessert when Emily comes over...she always makes such delicious stuff you know!

But, since I was out of butter (how did that happen!??!), I needed a recipe that didn't call for butter (duh). I have made this recipe a few times already, with great results every time! But I haven't shared it with you all yet :-)

This is the BEST cookie recipe for short term notice guests or a need for a dessert in just a few minutes. I found it here, and it's a life saver!

Cake Mix Cookies
Cake mix (any flavor, I used "Butter Recipe Yellow")
1/3-1/2 cup oil (I always use 1/2 cup, haven't tried the 1/3)
2 eggs

1. Preheat oven to 350*. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (the batch makes 20 cookies, so I use 2 baking sheets, one after the other)
2. Mix all ingredients together. Spoon the dough onto the baking sheet and bake for 10-13 minutes.

(I keep a close eye on my cookies. As soon as the edges turn light brown, remove them from the oven and let them sit for a minute. Usually takes about 10 minutes of baking for me). Let cookies cool on a wire rack, or eat them all right away :-)

Can't wait for after dinner now!!

Ragamuffins with Icing

I had waffles with blueberry sauce planned for dinner last night (see a few posts back on that recipe!) but I wanted to make something kinda sweet to go along with it for the boys (well, okay, and myself!).

I wanted something different than the usual cinnamon rolls or monkey bread though, so I did a little google-ing and came across these "Maple Sugar Ragamuffins" and decided that they sounded worth a try!

And they were! ((I apologize now for the lack of final products were kinda ugly (though delicious!) and not really photo worthy...not to mention the rest of dinner that I was working on at the same time!!)

I made up the Ragamuffins and some simple cream cheese icing and they were yuuuummmmyy!! So here ya go :-)

((quick side note: this recipe calls for maple sugar...I used brown sugar...looking it up online doesn't really explain the difference between the two, but they worked out great, so I guess it's okay!))

Maple Sugar Ragamuffins
(for dough)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon granulated maple sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
3/4 cup whole milk ((I only had 1% milk on hand, and they still turned out great!))

(for filling)
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, well softened
1 cup granulated maple sugar

parchment paper

(Make dough)
1. Put oven rack in middle position and preheat to 400*. Line a large backing sheet with parchment paper.
2. Whisk together flour, maple sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Blend in butter with a pastry blender or your fingertips until most of mixture resembles coarse meal with some small (roughly pea sized) butter lumps. Add milk and stir with a fork until a shaggy dough forms. Gently knead dough 8 to 10 times with floured hands on a lightly floured surface.

(Roll out and fill dough)
1.  Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface with a floured rolling pin into a 13 by 11 inch rectangle. Spread softened butter evenly over dough and sprinkle all over with maple sugar, pressing firmly to help adhere. ((it seemed like a lot of butter while I was spreading it out, but as I worked across the rectangle a few times, it evened out alright))
2. Beginning with one long side, roll up dough snugly, jelly-roll style. Cut roll crosswise into 12 slices with a sharp knife. Arrange slices 2 inches apart on the baking sheet. Gather any maple sugar from the work surface and sprinkle on top of the rolls.
3. Bake until rolls are puffed and golden, 18-20 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool until warm, about 15 minutes.

While they're cooling, you can make up this simple icing which took only a few seconds to whip up!

4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Combine all ingredients until smooth. (I used a hand mixer in a small bowl) Enjoy!

((told you it was simple!))

Enjoy with breakfast or for dessert or whenever you want something yummy and sweet!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Homemade French Bread

I have a newfound kitchen crush.
Bread hooks for my HAND mixer! They were so much fun!! And since the bread turned out well, I shall probably use them more often than my stand-up mixer (which I haven't quite figured out the bread hooks on yet)!

Since we were having basic spaghetti for dinner last night, I decided to have the recipe for the day be a side of fresh baked French bread to go with it. I found an easy recipe online, and it turned out great!

5-6 cups of all-purpose (or bread) flour
5 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 teaspoons salt
2 cups warm water
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 egg white
1 tablespoon water

1. ((I started out not following the recipe. Though the ingredients are the same, I used my knowledge of letting yeast get started before adding extra stuff to start it off...)) In a large bowl, combine the warm water with the yeast and let sit to activate while you prepare the next set of ingredients.

2. Add 2 cups of the flour and the salt to the yeast/water and beat until well blended using your mixer with dough hooks. Then stir in as much of the remaining flour as you can. (I got about 4 1/2 cups total mixed in before the next step)
3. On a lightly floured surface, knead in enough flour to make a stiff dough that is smooth and elastic. Knead for about 8 to 10 minutes total.

4. Shape into a ball. Place dough in a greased bowl and turn once. Cover, and let rise in a warm place until doubled (about 30 minutes to an hour. I left mine for 45 minutes)

5. Punch dough down, and divide in half. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Cover, and let rest for 10 minutes.
6. Roll each half into a large rectangle. Roll up, starting from a long side. (I didn't moisten the edge like the recipe calls for, I just smushed the edge together until it stuck). Taper the ends.
This one was a garlic/Parmesan loaf. This is the step to add things in (see the end of the recipe)
7. Grease a large baking sheet. Place loaves, seam side down, on the sheet. With a very sharp knife, make 3 or 4 diagonal cuts about 1/4 inch deep across the top of each loaf.
8. Beat the tablespoon of water with the egg white and brush on the top of each loaf. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise until nearly doubled (about 35 to 40 minutes).
9. Bake in a preheated oven at 375* for 20 minutes. Brush again with the egg white mixture and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes. If necessary, cover loosely with foil to prevent over browning. Remove from the baking sheet and cool on a wire rack (mine didn't make it to this step, since we started dinner just after they came out of the oven!)

Tip: For an even crispier crust, spray the loaves with water right before baking, and then every 5 minutes for the first 10 minutes of baking.

the top loaf is the garlic, the bottom is plain bread

Add-Ins: To make flavored bread (like I did), add in the ingredients before rolling the dough up. Then roll, sprinkle a little more on top and finish the recipe.

  • Butter, garlic and parmesan cheese for garlic bread (see above)
  • Butter, cinnamon and sugar
  • Fresh or dried herbs
  • Cheddar or mozzarella cheese

It was yummy! and my house smelled SOOO good!! All the possible variations on things you could put inside make this a very versatile bread that would be great at any time of day!