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Monday, October 15, 2012

Craving Brownies

Small batch, simple ingredients, no fuss; perfect for when you're craving brownies. Very rich and chocolatey. Makes 2 large, 4 medium, or 8 small brownies.

2/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup chocolate chunks or chips, optional
1/3 cup walnuts, optional

Preheat oven to 350.
In a bowl, stir sugar, egg, and oil until well combined. Add flour, cocoa powder, salt, vanilla, and desired additions. Stir until smooth and pour into a greased bread loaf pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until set. It is not necessary for a toothpick to come out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes.

BTW, I recently got a hot tip from a friend. You know that vegetable oil you used to fry chicken, then saved? If you've ever been afraid to use it for baking brownies or cakes, don't be. It adds a slightly salty richness that can't be beat.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Microwave Sloppy Joe Sauce

Quick and simple. You can whip this up in the microwave, or just add the ingredients straight into your 1lb of cooked and drained ground beef, turkey, or chicken and simmer for a few. Serve on hamburger buns, or my favorite, spoon directly over cooked spaghetti. Serves 4.

1 Tbsp butter
1 clove garlic, chopped finely
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 6oz can tomato paste
1 cup water
2 Tbsp molasses
1 Tbsp ketchup
1 Tbsp mustard
1 tsp Worchestire sauce
1 tsp salt
Salt / Pepper / Sugar to taste

Place butter, garlic, and onion into a microwave safe bowl. Cook on high for 30 seconds or until butter is melted. Stir, and microwave for 30 more seconds. Add remaining ingredients. Cover loosely to avoid a mess and microwave for 2 minutes. Stir, and season to taste.
To serve, combine sauce with 1lb cooked ground beef, chicken, or turkey and enjoy hot on buns or over pasta. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Pantry Cleaning BBQ Chicken Pizza

Simple and delicious BBQ chicken pizza using things you already have. Makes approx. 1 10" pizza.

1/2 cup water between 80-105 degrees
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp active dry yeast
1 cup flour
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp olive oil
Cornmeal for dusting

1 6oz can tomato paste
1 cup water
2 Tbsp molasses
2 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp cumin
1-2 tsp hot sauce
1/2 tsp black pepper

6oz cooked and shredded chicken (to shred, boil for 30 minutes in water spiked with garlic salt, let cool, and shred by hand.)
1/4 cup of your barbecue sauce
4oz shredded cheese (I enjoy sharp cheddar for BBQ)
Assorted toppings of choice (onion, green pepper, garlic, cilantro, etc.)

To make crust, stir sugar and yeast into water. Let sit for 5 minutes, until foamy.
In a bowl, combine flour and salt. Add olive oil and yeast mixture. Stir with a rubber spatula until ingredients hold together and turn out onto a floured surface. Knead for 7-10 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Let rise in a covered oiled bowl for 1 hour. After it has doubled in size, punch it down and let it rest for 5 minutes.

To make the sauce, combine ingredients in a saucepan and stir over medium heat until heated through. Set aside.

In a bowl, combine shredded chicken with 1/4 cup of your barbecue sauce.

Preheat oven to 425 and sprinkle a cookie sheet with cornmeal. Stretch dough into a flat circle; pinch the edges and carefully rotate in one direction until it becomes a flat circle.

Place crust on cookie sheet. Poke several fork holes in it, then add the sauce. (you probably won't use all of it.) Add half the cheese, then the chicken, then the rest of the cheese, then the veggies.

Bake in the preheated oven for 14-16 minutes. Enjoy!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Fried Mac and Cheese!

I always make too much mac and cheese! Here's a fun way to use up the leftovers. Makes 8 little rounds.

2 cups cold leftover macaroni and cheese
1/2 cup milk (or gravy...)*
1/2 cup flour
1 Tbsp seasoning salt
Oil for frying

Divide the macaroni and cheese into 8 portions and pack into balls. Place on a cookie sheet and pop in the freezer for 20 minutes.
In a bowl, combine flour and seasoning salt. Get your oil good and hot; it's ready when a tiny sprinkle of flour sizzles. There should be enough to submerge the mac balls.
Remove mac balls from the freezer. Coat each one in milk, then flour mixture. Deep fry for 3-5 minutes, turning as needed, until crispy and golden brown. Remove and place on a rack draped with a paper towel. Cool for a couple minutes.

*You should know that I didn't dip these in milk. I had some leftover gravy that I used instead. It was awesome. So if you have leftover gravy, you can use it instead of milk. This is...not a low-calorie food. ;)

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Mac and Cheese - Revisited

This is the real deal - basic homestyle mac and cheese. Serves 4.

2 cups uncooked macaroni
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp flour
2 cups milk
A dash of cayenne pepper
A dash of nutmeg
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese or your own blend (I used 1/2 Wisconsin sharp cheddar and 1/2 mozzarella)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 Tbsp melted butter
1/4 cup bread crumbs (see recipe below)

Preheat oven to 375.
Cook the macaroni until it's almost done, but not quite. Drain and set aside.
Melt the butter in a saucepan. Stir in flour and cook until starting to brown, 3-5 minutes.
Stir in milk, cayenne, and nutmeg. Cook until thick, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes.
Turn off heat and add 2/3 cup of cheese, stir until melted. Season to taste and stir in macaroni.
Grease an 8x8 baking dish. Pour in macaroni and top with remaining cheese. Combine bread crumbs with melted butter and sprinkle over top.
Bake uncovered for 20-25 minutes.

Make your own bread crumbs!
Tear some old bread up into tiny pieces and spread it out on a cookie sheet. Place in the oven at 300 for 30-40 minutes. Remove and crumble OR crush with a rolling pin. Add a little Italian seasoning if desired.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Chipotle Chicken and Black Bean Wet Burritos

Gooey comfort food with a rich chipotle sauce. Don't be afraid of the molasses, it cuts the acidity of the tomato paste and makes the chipotle flavor pop! Makes 4 burritos.

1 6oz can tomato paste
2 cups water
1 Tbsp cumin
1 Tbsp chipotle pepper sauce
1 tsp molasses
2 tsp garlic salt
1 Tbsp flour
2 Tbsp cold water
1 Tbsp butter

1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
A few Tbsp of your sauce, plus a few extra drops of chipotle pepper sauce if desired
8 oz cooked shredded chicken breast
1 15oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup finely chopped onion

4 burrito size flour tortillas
1 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend

In a saucepan, combine the tomato paste, water, cumin, pepper sauce, molasses, and garlic salt. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to a simmer.
In a separate dish, mix together flour and cold water until lumps disappear. Add mixture to sauce and stir until combined. Then, stir in butter until melted. Cover, and set aside.

Heat oil in a skillet. Add 4-5 Tbsp of your sauce, then add chicken, beans, and onion. Stir with a fork or tongs until evenly distributed with sauce and heated through.

Heat 1 tortilla in the microwave for about 10 seconds to warm. Place 1/4 of the chicken filling in the tortilla and roll into a burrito. Smother with 1/4 of your sauce, and top with 1/4 of the cheese. Repeat with remaining ingredients. Serve hot and enjoy!

Tip: To shred chicken, boil the breast for 1/2 hour in water with a few shakes of garlic salt. Let cool, and shred by hand. You can use forks, but I think using hands is easier.

What is chipotle pepper sauce?
These are what I use:
Your local Mexican grocery probably has an entire aisle dedicated to hot sauce. These are my 2 favorite chipotle sauces, the one on the left is sweeter. They mix well with things like ranch dressing and mayonnaise for a twist on the classic condiments.

If you can't find those, the good people at Tabasco have a chipotle pepper sauce of their own, available at most grocery stores.